Archive for March 9, 2019

Syria vows to attack Israel unless it withdraws from the Golan Heights

March 9, 2019

Source: Syria vows to attack Israel unless it withdraws from the Golan Heights – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

The Syrian warning was given to the head of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) General Kristin Lund.

BY HAGAY HACOHEN
 MARCH 8, 2019 22:48
AN IRON DOME antimissile system is installed near the Israeli side of the border with Syria in the G

Syria vowed to attack Israel unless it withdraws from the Golan Heights, World Israel News reported on Thursday.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad submitted an official warning to the head of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Kristin Lund, in what seemed to be an attempt to prevent official US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan.

Blue and White party politicians Gabi Ashkenazi, Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon visited the Golan Heights on Monday and vowed never to give it up.
“We will increase the numbers of residents in the Golan, sending a resounding message to all – we will never relinquish the Golan Heights,” Gantz said.
“We will enlist the support of the US and the international community to promote Israel’s interests on our northern border,” he added.
“We have a historical right to it and it is a strategic asset,” Lapid said, adding that “we will never give up the Golan Heights. It is ours and it will stay ours.”

 

Muslim Council of Foreign Relations member condemns Ilhan Omar for antisemitism 

March 9, 2019

Source: Muslim Council of Foreign Relations member condemns Ilhan Omar for antisemitism – American Politics – Jerusalem Post

“In her remarks, she has branded every Muslim in America as an antisemite, and this is absolutely unacceptable and un-Islamic,” Ahmed said.

BY ZACHARY KEYSER
 MARCH 9, 2019 17:20
Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party in Minneapolis, Nov. 6, 2018.

“In her remarks, she has branded every Muslim in America as an antisemite, and this is absolutely unacceptable and un-Islamic,” Ahmed said.

Some of the interview focuses on the comments Ilhan Omar made about AIPAC, suggesting that American politicians are paid-off or bribed for their support of Israel. Ahmed further explained that there is a “incredible bias that is disturbing,” and that Omar fails to mention that Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar spend “tens of millions of dollars more on lobbying than AIPAC does” to push their agenda within the U.S. government each year.

Ahmed believes based on this bias Omar should be ejected from the House of Foreign Affairs Committee immediately because anything that the Minnesota Representative now proposes can be “interpreted through the lens of antisemitism.”

“Also very concerned, I am, that she is affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement, which is legitimizing and normalizing antisemitism. It’s a movement that calls for the eradication of the State of Israel, which is unacceptable. It’s disguised as a human rights movement, but it’s actually antisemitism,” Ahmed explained.

Ahmed believes that this this the new form of antisemitism, and that this bias is infecting the Islamic community, and she quoted a Washington Post op-ed that claims antisemitism is carried through Islam whether Muslims like it or not, and that is anti-ethical to true Islamic beliefs and believes American Muslims must reject this notion.

Ilhan Omar since apologized for the comments regarding AIPAC, “Antisemitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of antisemitic tropes,” she wrote. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”

However, Ahmed believes that this apology is “hollow” and still concerning. She says that there is no room or justification for antisemitic speech, and that lobbying is a part of liberal democracy and should not be an excuse for the rhetoric used.

“[Antisemitism] is not only hate speech, it is genocidal speech. Antisemitism is the only vilification and prejudice of people that leads directly to genocide,” Ahmed explained.

“Islam teaches us to treasure and revere the Torah, Moses, just as it does Jesus and the bible [this rhetoric] is not coming from Islam, this is de nova, this is a 20th century construction that has been adopted in the modern Arab world and is causing strife against Muslim’s who don’t have that critical thinking and who see maybe the success of Israel or maybe the intelligence of the Jewish community with resentment and with animus, and I don’t accept that this is a means to advocate for the Palestinian people.” Ahmed concluded.

 

IDF strikes Hamas posts following rocket launch, violent clashes 

March 9, 2019

Source: IDF strikes Hamas posts following rocket launch, violent clashes – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian killed in clashes marking the 50th week of Great Return Marches.

BY HAGAY HACOHEN, ANNA AHRONHEIM
 MARCH 9, 2019 11:14
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli air strike at an under-construction seaport in the south

Israeli aircrafts attacked several Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday night, hours after a projectile was fired towards southern Israel, the IDF said.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said that IDF fighter planes and aircraft attacked a number of terrorist targets in the military compound of the Hamas terrorist organization in the southern Gaza Strip, as well as underground infrastructures in the northern Gaza Strip.
The army said jets struck a Hamas military compound in southern Gaza and underground infrastructure in the north. According to reports the targets included a naval facility near Sudaniya, a naval facility in Khan Younis, and two other sites in Zeytoun and Tuffah in Gaza City.
There were no reports of casualties.
The strike was “carried out in response to the launching of a rocket into Israel earlier this evening, as well as the terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip including [the launching of] balloons and attempts to damage security infrastructures in recent days,” the military said in a statement.
“The IDF views with great severity any attempt to harm Israeli civilians and will continue to act vigorously against these terrorist acts,” the statement continued adding that Hamas “bears responsibility for everything that is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip.”
The rocket launch and retaliatory strike came after a day of intense clashes between IDF forces and some roughly 8,000 Palestinian protesters marking the 50th week of the Great Return March protests.
The protests began on March 30th and has seen hundreds of thousands of Gazans violently demonstrating along the security fence with Israel demanding an end to the 12-year long grinding blockade of the coastal enclave.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that one Palestinian, 23 year old Tamer Khaled Mustafa Arfat was killed and 48 others injured by IDF fire including two women and 15 youths. Another four paramedics and two journalists were also injured.
During the protests two Palestinians infiltrated into Israel from the northern Gaza Strip leading the military to close several local roads and deploy troops to communities who were put on alert.  The two men were later arrested by troops and were found to be armed with a knife and grenade, the military said.
On Friday three clusters of explosive balloons carrying large objects were discovered in open fields within the council’s area.  One cluster carried a scarecrow while another carried a toy drone.
In the month leading up to the anniversary there has been a marked increase of Hamas-led violence along the border, during the day and at night, with explosive balloons and improvised explosive devices hurled at troops or placed on the fence.
During violent riots on Wednesday night an incoming rocket siren was activated in communities in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council bordering the Gaza Strip after rioters attempted to throw explosive devices at troops stationed along the border.
There were no injuries or damage.
Around an hour later additional incoming rocket sirens were activated after a mortar was fired towards communities in Israel’s Eshkol Regional Council.
In response Israeli warplanes carried out intensive airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip, which according to Palestinian media destroyed a Hamas naval commando base and damaged several nearby homes. There were no injuries reported.

 

Nasrallah: Israel is scared of war and is not prepared for one

March 9, 2019

Source: Nasrallah: Israel is scared of war and is not prepared for one – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

The deployment of the American THAAD system is proof Israel can’t defend the country against Hezbollah’s missiles, Hassan Nasrallah said.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 MARCH 9, 2019 11:23
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses supporters on the eve of Ashura in Beirut, November 13.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Hasan Shaaban)

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that Israel is scared of another war with his Lebanese Shiite group and that the United States has placed sanctions because they have “failed in their military campaigns.”
“What the Zion-American enemy failed to obtain during the military campaigns it wants to achieve through imposing sanctions on the Syrian people, besieging the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, causing starvation in Yemen and blacklisting Hezbollah,” Nasrallah said during a televised addressed marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Resistance Support Association,  a charity used to raise funds for the group.
Pointing to the US military’s deployment advanced THAAD missile defense system in Israel for joint exercises this past week, Nasrallah said that it was proof Israel’s inability to protect the country from Hezbollah’s missile arsenal in a future war between the two foes.
“Israel is scared of a new war,” he said. “Everyday you hear that Israel is not prepared for war in one way or another and this week you saw Israel began using the American THAAD system. The Israelis do not believe in their defense systems and are afraid, and that is why they have set up US-made defense systems. The Israeli army is afraid of war against us and they know why. We’ll break them on the battlefield. No advanced missile defense systems will help.”
Nasrallah is believed to have been living in a secure bunker, apparently located in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiya, for several years in order to prevent an assassination attempt. In mid-February he said that the group’s power has been increasing “daily” even under “unfavorable conditions” and have reached a level where they are more powerful than they were 20 years ago.
Speaking during a ceremony to mark “Martyrs Remembrance Day,” Nasrallah said the “resistance gained its strength and power, and achieved victories in bad circumstances imposed by the US, Israel, and their allies in the region the Takifiris, Saudi alignment, and the Emirates.”
The leader of the Shiite Lebanese terror group spoke for over an hour in the third speech in several weeks after months of silence and said there are between “35-40 resistance axes around the world” with people who are ready to sacrifice themselves for Hezbollah.
Israel and Hezbollah last fought a war – the Second Lebanon War – in 2006, and has since then morphed from a guerrilla group to an army with a set hierarchy and procedures. With the help of Iran, it has rebuilt its arsenal since 2006 and has hundreds of thousands of short-range rockets and several thousand more missiles that can reach deeper into Israel.
Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets and the Arrow system which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and the David’s Sling missile defense system which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 to 300km.
Last week the IDF announced that the United States deployed its THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system in Israel as part of a month-long joint drill
Built by Lockheed-Martin the THAAD system is considered one of the most advanced systems of its kind in the world, and during the drill will be added to the existing Israeli air defense systems which defend against long-range ballistic missiles, giving the IDF an “opportunity to practice it’s integration in the IAF Air Defense Array.”
Washington and Israel have signed an agreement which would see the US come to assist Israel with missile defense in times of war.

 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says AIPAC is coming after her. It’s not.

March 9, 2019

Source: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says AIPAC is coming after her. It’s not. | The Times of Israel

(More leftist calumnies… – JW )

Popular freshman Democrat sends out fundraising appeal misrepresenting pro-Israel lobby’s role and quoting an ‘AIPAC activist’ no longer affiliated with group

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on stage during the 2019 Athena Film Festival at Barnard College in New York City, March 3, 2019. (Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Athena Film Festival via JTA)

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on stage during the 2019 Athena Film Festival at Barnard College in New York City, March 3, 2019. (Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Athena Film Festival via JTA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — “It’s official,” says the fundraising appeal from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the freshman lawmaker who has become the flagbearer for the Democratic Party’s restive progressive wing. “AIPAC is coming after Alexandria, Ilhan, and Rashida.”

Not only is it not official, it’s not true.

The release starts by quoting an “AIPAC activist” threatening the political careers of Ocasio-Cortez and her first-year Democratic colleagues, Representatives. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

The quote, saying they are “three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years,” was taken from a recent New York Times articleexploring the political clout of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Except the “AIPAC activist” quoted, Stephen Fiske of Florida, confirmed to me that he has not been associated with the pro-Israel lobbying group for several years. The hardball he counsels in dealing with those who depart from centrist pro-Israel orthodoxies is not the style of the lobby, which discourages alienating safe incumbents.

The error is emblematic of the misconceptions that first helped spur the controversy leading up to Ocasio-Cortez’s fundraising pitch, which was posted Thursday on Twitter by Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.

Ben Jacobs

@Bencjacobs

Fiske’s role as the chairman of a pro-Israel political action committee — unaffiliated with AIPAC, which is not a PAC — was the centerpiece of The Times article and seemed to confirm what AIPAC’s critics, including Omar, refer to as its hardball tactics. Omar has been at the center of a firestorm over Israel and anti-Semitism, fueled in part by a recent tweet charging that big spending by AIPAC had bought congressional support for Israel.

Stephen Fiske (Twitter)

The Times article got much right about how AIPAC operates: The lobby itself does not fund campaigns. Instead its members are expected to give to campaigns, and get perks (invitations to exclusive briefings, a chance to introduce their lawmaker as a speaker, more illustrious tags at conferences) if they are especially generous. They also are expected to cultivate close relationships with their lawmakers, volunteering for them, and above all to lobby them.

But by making Fiske the poster boy for AIPAC, The Times perpetuates a major misimpression. When Omar landed a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, it reported that Fiske began calling lawmakers to complain and that he is “hoping AIPAC activists will punish” Omar with a primary challenge in 2020.

AIPAC would not comment for the story, but I heard from insiders that Fiske has not been associated with the lobby for five years.

In a telephone interview Fiske, a South Florida realtor, told me it was more like three or four years, but confirmed that he is no longer a member.

“I don’t give to the general [fundraising] campaign,” he said. “I do sponsor some kids at the University of Florida to go to the [annual] conference.”

Fiske, who was quoted in a separate Times article in October as a Florida supporter of US President Donald Trump, told me he decided he could be more effective spending his time and money on his political action committee.

“I was interviewed as to what activists might do with the Florida Congressional Committee,” he said. His PAC spent $320,000 last cycle on dozens of congressional candidates, the vast majority of them Republicans.

In this photo from February 5, 2019, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, left, is joined by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Democrat, at US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

AIPAC discourages its donors from taking aim at safe incumbents. The examples cited in The Times article of incumbents unseated by AIPAC activists are over 30 years old and in both cases — representative Paul Findley and senator Charles Percy, Republicans of Illinois — the incumbents were considered vulnerable. More recent examples of vulnerable incumbents targeted by AIPAC activists are representative Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island in 2006.

Fiske’s targets — Tlaib, Omar and Ocasio-Cortez — at least right now are seen as shoo-ins for re-election. If AIPAC were to allow its activists to push against them and then watch them win, it would damage the lobby’s reputation. AIPAC’s refusal to comment for this article underscores the paradox of this crisis: The lobby, to a degree, enjoys its reputation as a reputation killer.

The cases of two other lawmakers cited in the article are telling. Former Democratic representative Brian Baird of Washington and Democratic Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota both had fraught breaks with AIPAC. In each case, AIPAC activists stopped giving them money — as opposed to mounting campaigns to unseat them –which is exactly what you would expect from people who donate to candidates they consider like-minded.

Fiske said his criteria for giving money were that a candidate did not accept money from the liberal pro-Israel group J Street and that he or she opposed the Iran nuclear deal. A source close to AIPAC in 2015 threatened to turn donors against Democrats who voted for the deal; that never materialized.

Illustrative: Senator Robert Menendez speaks at the AIPAC conference at the Washington Convention Center, March 6, 2018. (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

AIPAC does not demand exclusivity from the politicians it supports, and those who also align with J Street often attend the AIPAC policy conference as well as the events for fundraisers that take place on its periphery. Typical is Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada, who took money from solidly AIPAC-aligned PACs, but also welcomed funders who preferred to funnel their donations through J Street.

Ocasio-Cortez’s fundraising letter, like Omar’s “It’s all about the Benjamins” tweets and to a degree the Times story, also imagine an all-powerful and monolithic pro-Israel community. In fact, there has been increasing room to lobby for Israel outside the parameters determined by AIPAC.

In 2007, Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who was a major AIPAC funder, broke with the lobby over its tacit backing for an increase of funding to the Palestinian Authority. Adelson’s split, which The Times notes, created the space for right-wingers to go after lawmakers that AIPAC would have discouraged targeting.

A year later, J Street was established and is still going strong, supporting lawmakers who assertively back the two-state solution, buck the Netanyahu government, supported the Iran deal and believe in applying US pressure to return Israel to the negotiating table. Although much smaller than AIPAC, its activists — and associated PACs — pledged to make up the funding for lawmakers who depart from AIPAC’s orthodoxies and become critical of Israel.

That — not to mention the growing clout of Christian pro-Israel groups — created room on the left and the right to ignore how AIPAC operated.

Nevertheless, Ocasio-Cortez’s fundraisers feel that pitting her against a potent pro-Israel lobby is a winning strategy.

“Rashida, Ilhan and Alexandria have at times dared to question our foreign policy, and the influence of money in our political system,” her fundraising letter reads. “And now, lobbying groups across the board are working to punish them for it.”

Democratic Represetnative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, left, and Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, center, walk down the House steps to take a group photograph of the House Democratic women members of the 116th Congress on the East Front Capitol Plaza on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 4, 2019, as the 116th Congress began. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Progressives and others critical of US policy toward Israel seem to agree.

“AIPAC activist tells NYT the lobby is coming for Congresswomen @AOC @RashidaTlaib and @IlhanMN,” Youssef Munayyer, the director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said Tuesday on Twitter. His tweet has been retweeted upwards of 3,600 times.

Also drawing attention in the Times article was the accompanying photo of Fiske, in a moment of intense prayer, wearing tefillin. Some thought it was meant to make him look pious; others thought it was mocking his religion.

Fiske told me that the photographer took about a hundred photographs of him and that at one point Fiske stopped for prayer. The photographer asked him if it would be OK to continue shooting, and Fiske agreed.

Schumer says Trump’s claims of ‘anti-Jewish’ Democrats have ‘redefined chutzpah’

March 9, 2019

Source: Schumer says Trump’s claims of ‘anti-Jewish’ Democrats have ‘redefined chutzpah’ | The Times of Israel

( This man is a disgrace to himself, to America and to the Jewish People. When trump said there were “fine people” on eoth sides of the Charlottsville dispute he was obviously speaking about the issue of the statue..  Hr would never call Nazis or Antifa  “fine people.”  Schumer is lying to protect the antisemitism  of Ilhan Omar..  May he reap what he sows. – JW )

Senate minority leader fumes: When neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville in front of a synagogue and said ‘burn it down,’ president said ‘both sides’ are to blame

United States Senator Chuck Schumer speaks during an inauguration ceremony for the new Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, in New York, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

United States Senator Chuck Schumer speaks during an inauguration ceremony for the new Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, in New York, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday said President Donald Trump had “redefined chutzpah” by saying the Democratic party had become an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party.

The Jewish Schumer wrote on Facebook that Trump’s comments were “a new divisive low,” adding that “when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville in front of a synagogue and said ‘burn it down’…he said ‘both sides’ are to blame.”

The presidents statements showed he “is only interested in playing the politics of division and not in fighting anti-Semitism,” Schumer said.

Trump had earlier told reporters that a recent US House of Representatives vote condemning bigotry, which had originally been intended to condemn anti-Semitism but became a broader anti-hate measure, “was disgraceful.”

He added: “The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party and anti-Jewish party.”

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2019. (Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

The action had come after controversial comments by Democratic Congresswoman former Somali refugee was heavily criticized for suggesting supporters of Israel were urging lawmakers to have “allegiance to a foreign country.”

Lawmakers expressed outrage, warning that Omar was peddling in age-old anti-Semitic tropes about Jews having dual loyalties.

But following internal Democratic disputes, the motion was broadened out to include all forms of bigotry, including Islamophobia and discrimination against other minorities.

The resolution passed overwhelmingly, 407 to 23, with all Democrats voting in favor including Omar herself. Republicans generally joined in the favorable vote, though nearly two-dozen opposed the measure.

Trump comments were also criticized by the Jewish Democratic Council of America. Executive Director Halie Soifer said “We are appalled, but not surprised, that President Trump has once again demonstrated dishonesty, hypocrisy, and willingness to use anti-Semitism and Israel as a political football.”

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol, March 8, 2019 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

Soifer pointed to anti-Semitic tropes used in the past by Trump, saying that “the president’s own words have fueled the fire of intolerance and targeting of Jews, and Republicans have failed to condemn the president’s remarks in the same way that Democrats were quick to rebuke Representative Omar.

The Democratic vote also revealed divisions within the American Jewish community, with some groups welcoming the measure while others blasted it as watered down.

“While we commend Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to bring to the floor the issue of anti-Semitism within its ranks, the politically expedient resolution failed to call out Representative Omar by name and failed to take into account the historically unique dimensions of the anti-Semitic themes trafficked by Rep. Omar,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement shortly following the vote.

Other prominent Jewish groups, however, welcomed the resolution. The Anti-Defamation League said it was “pleased the House of Representatives took a firm stance against anti-Semitism, including making an explicit statement rejecting the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and other vile slurs that have been used to persecute Jews for centuries.”

The Orthodox Union welcomed the measure but said “it would have been better for the House of Representatives to respond to recent incidents of anti-Semitism with a resolution exclusively addressing that topic.”

Eric Cortellessa and agencies contributed to this report 

 

Here’s Why The U.S. Just Deployed A Powerful THAAD Missile Defense System In Israel | TIME 

March 9, 2019