Archive for the ‘State Department’ category

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran

January 17, 2018

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran, Washington Free Beacon , January 17, 2018

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems / Getty Images

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.


The Trump administration State Department is working to suppress new sanctions on Iran’s propaganda network that were promised to be implemented by the White House in response to a wave of protests that have gripped the Islamic Republic for weeks, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

The White House vowed in the opening days of Iran’s countrywide protests against the ruling government that it would take steps to level sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, a satellite service that disseminates propaganda across Iran and routinely censors content.

While Iranian protesters and opponents of the country’s hardline government welcomed the White House’s decision, the State Department is believed to be working against the effort in order to uphold a little-known deal with Iran that was struck during the Obama administration.

The apparent reversal has raised questions in Congress about the nature of the agreement between the Obama administration and Iran that prevents new sanctions on the IRIB. It also has sparked criticism from regional experts who view the move as part of a bid by the State Department to continue appeasing the Iranian ruling regime at a time when dissidents are pleading for help from the United States.

The Obama administration struck a deal in 2013 with Iran that waived existing sanctions on the IRIB as part of an agreement reached under the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, or ITSO.

Since that agreement, the United States has waived sanctions every 180 days on the IRIB, despite evidence it continues to censor content and jam broadcasts the hardline ruling regime finds unacceptable, sources said.

The little-known ITSO agreement with Iran is receiving new scrutiny as lawmakers try to determine how the Obama administration reached this deal and why many in Congress were never briefed on the matter.

“At such an important inflection point in Iranian history as brave Iranians are protesting an illegitimate tyranny, it defies logic that the State Department could be waiving sanctions to assist the Iranian regime,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees told the Free Beacon.

DeSantis is exploring avenues to obtain further information about the 2013 agreement and the context in which it was struck.

“Congress needs to get more information about this specific waiver and why waiving such sanctions is necessary at this moment given that the protesters are calling for more sanctions against the regime,” DeSantis said.

The White House signaled earlier this month, as the protests in Iran erupted, that it would no longer waive sanctions on the IRIB to boost the demonstrators and cut off the Islamic Republic’s chief propaganda organ.

However, the State Department favors continuing the waivers in order to uphold the Obama-era deal with Iran, according to multiple sources.

A State Department official acknowledged the existence of the deal, but would not provide the Free Beacon with details of the agreement, information on how it was struck, and whether Congress had a say in the matter.

This has raised even more questions with lawmakers and experts tracking the situation.

“The administration periodically renews the relevant sanctions waivers to allow international satellite companies to provide satellite broadcast service to IRIB in accordance with an understanding reached with the Iranian government under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) in 2013, where Iran committed to ensure that harmful interference does not emanate from its territory,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon.

This waiver must be renewed every 180 days, the official said.

It also remains unclear if the deal with Iran was struck under the auspices of the landmark nuclear agreement or the negotiations that led to it.

A Treasury Department official directed questions about the IRIB sanctions to the State Department, but told the Free Beacon the entity is still subject to some sanctions by the United States

“Treasury can confirm that IRIB is still designated pursuant to Executive Order 13628 and remains on our SDN [Specially Designated Nationals] List,” the official said, pointing to a 2013 announcement of actions against the broadcaster. “IRIB is subject to secondary sanctions for activity outside the scope of the State Department-issued waiver.”

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iran expert who tracks sanctions with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, expressed concern the Trump State Department is operating as if the Obama administration was still in power.

“The Iranian protesters specifically asked the Trump administration to ban the IRIB,” Ghasseminejad said. “Issuing a waiver for an entity whose job is to broadcast lies and promote violence against the protesters and pro-democracy movement in Iran and to prepare the ground for their arrest, torture, and execution is a slap in the protesters’ face.”

Former Secretary of State “John Kerry is gone and the United States has a new Iran policy but Foggy Bottom still follows the Obama era policy of appeasement,” he said.

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

Mahmood Enayat, director of the Small Media Foundation, an organization that advocates for the free flow of information in Iran, said satellite broadcasts are routinely jammed by the Iranian regime.

“Iran has certainly stopped orbital jamming but it has been continuing with terrestrial jamming, making it impossible for millions of Iranians to watch satellite TV channels broadcast from outside Iran, including VOA and BBC” said Enayat, who recently published a report on the matter.

Some insiders familiar with the agreement, which has not been mentioned in federal records since 2015, view it as another secret deal with Iran that was hidden from the American public, much like a series of secret side deals reached between the Obama administration and Iran as part of the nuclear deal.

One senior congressional official tracking the situation told the Free Beacon that lawmakers would try to scrap any previously unearthed secret agreements with Iran.

“As Iranians are protesting in the streets, our State Department is really considering waiving sanctions against the regime’s mouth piece?” the source asked. “We should be exerting maximum pressure on the regime and its backers, not letting them off the hook.”

“If this decision to take it easy on the regime’s broadcasting arm is pursuant to some secret side deal reached under the Obama administration, it’s time to expose this arrangement and terminate it, not abide by it,” added the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “The State Department needs to get on the same page as the White House and start rolling out coherent Iran policy to push back against the regime.”

Trump names David Schenker new Middle East head at State Department

January 13, 2018

Trump names David Schenker new Middle East head at State Department, DEBKAfile, January 12, 2018

Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been conducting a quiet revolution in the department to replace the professional diplomats who led former administration policies for appeasing Iran, promoting certain Arab and Muslim circles and antagonizing Israel.


David Schenker, a director at the prestigious Washington Institute for Near East policy, is to be assigned the top Middle East post at the State Department, as part of the ongoing shakeup ordered by President Donald Trump. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that Schenker, a friend of Israel and expert on Syria, Lebanon, Hizballah, Jordan and Islamist terror, is a former senior adviser to Donald Rumsfeld, when he served as defense secretary in the George W. Bush administration. He is the second non-diplomat to receive a high State Department appointment since Trump entered the White House. As assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, he will follow Andrew Peek, a former military intelligence officer, who was named deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran.

Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been conducting a quiet revolution in the department to replace the professional diplomats who led former administration policies for appeasing Iran, promoting certain Arab and Muslim circles and antagonizing Israel.

Stupidity or malice? The US plans to return stolen Jewish artifacts to Iraq

September 12, 2017

Stupidity or malice? The US plans to return stolen Jewish artifacts to Iraq | Anne’s Opinions, 12th September 2017

Looted Jewish artifacts from Iraq

When the news hit the headlines this week that the US plans to return Jewish artifacts to Iraq – artifacts, it should be noted, that were stolen from the Iraqi Jewish community by the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and rescued by US forces – I thought the story sounded familiar. A quick search on my blog revealed that this decision had already been discussed 4 years ago! To be honest, I thought that this absurd decision to return the artifacts to their unlawful owners had been shelved once Donald Trump became President. Sadly this is not the case.

The JTA reports:

NEW YORK (JTA) — The United States will return to Iraq next year a trove of Iraqi Jewish artifacts that lawmakers and Jewish groups have lobbied to keep in this country, a State Department official said.

A four-year extension to keep the Iraqi Jewish Archive in the U.S. is set to expire in September 2018, as is funding for maintaining and transporting the items. The materials will then be sent back to Iraq, spokesman Pablo Rodriguez said in a statement sent to JTA on Thursday.

Rodriguez said the State Department “is keenly aware of the interest in the status” of the archive.

“Maintaining the archive outside of Iraq is possible,” he said, “but would require a new agreement between the Government of Iraq and a temporary host institution or government.”

Detail of Tik (Torah case) and Glass Panel from Baghdad, 19th-20th centuries, part of the Iraqi Jewish Archive. (National Archives)

The archive was brought to America in 2003 after being salvaged by U.S. troops. It contains tens of thousands of items including books, religious texts, photographs and personal documents. Under an agreement with the government of Iraq, the archive was to be sent back there, but in 2014 the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. said its stay had been extended. He did not say when the archive was to return.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers and Jewish groups have lobbied to renegotiate the deal, arguing that the documents should be kept in the U.S. or elsewhere where they are accessible to Iraqi Jews and their descendants. JTA reached out to lawmakers who have sponsored resolutions urging a renegotiation of the archive’s return but did not hear back in time for publication.

Iraq and proponents of returning the archive say it can serve as an educational tool for Iraqis about the history of Jews there and that it is part of the country’s patrimony.

Addressing the points that I highlighted above in bold, Caroline Glick scathingly attacks the “State Department’s strange obsession” while also answering the question in my headline:

The law of Occam’s Razor, refined to common parlance, is that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

If we apply Occam’s Razor to recently reported positions of the US State Department, then we can conclude that the people making decisions at Foggy Bottom have “issues” with Jews and with Israel.

The books and documents were looted from the Iraqi Jewish community by successive Iraqi regimes. They were restored by the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Before Treatment: Passover Haggadah, 1902. One of very few Hebrew manuscripts recovered from the Mukhabarat, this Haggadah was hand-lettered and decorated by an Iraqi youth.

The Iraqi Jewish community was one of the oldest exilic Jewish communities.

It began with the Babylonian exile following the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem 2,600 years ago. Until the early 20th century, it was one of the most accomplished Jewish communities in the world. Some of the most important yeshivas in Jewish history were in present-day Iraq. The Babylonian Talmud was written in Iraq. The Jewish community in Iraq predated the current people of Iraq by nearly a thousand years.

It was a huge community. In 1948, Jews were the largest minority in Baghdad.

Jews comprised a third of the population of Basra. The status of the community was imperiled during World War II, when the pro-Nazi junta of generals that seized control of the government in 1940 instigated the Farhud, a weeklong pogrom. 900 Jews were murdered.

Thousands of Jewish homes, schools and businesses were burned to the ground.

With Israel’s establishment, and later with the Baathist seizure of power in Iraq in the 1960s, the once great Jewish community was systematically destroyed.

Between 1948 and 1951, 130,000 Iraqi Jews, three quarters of the community, were forced to flee the country. Those who remained faced massive persecution, imprisonment, torture, execution and expulsion in the succeeding decades.

When US forces overthrew the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, only a dozen or so remained in the country.

Today, there are none left.

As for the current Iraqi government that the State Department wishes to support by implementing its 2014 agreement, it is an Iranian satrapy. Its leadership and military receive operational orders from Iran.

The Iraqi Jewish archive was not created by the Iraqi government. It is comprised of property looted from persecuted and fleeing Jews. In light of this, it ought to be clear to the State Department that the Iraqi government’s claim to ownership is no stronger than the German government’s claim to ownership of looted Jewish property seized by the Nazis would be.

On the other hand, members of the former Jewish community and their descendants have an incontrovertible claim to them. And they have made this claim, repeatedly.

To no avail. As far as the State Department is concerned, they have no claim to sacred books and documents illegally seized from them.

When asked how the US could guarantee that the archive would be properly cared for in Iraq, all State Department spokesman Pablo Rodriguez said was, “When the IJA [Iraqi Jewish archive] is returned, the State Department will urge the Iraqi government to take the proper steps necessary to preserve the archive, and make it available to members of the public to enjoy.”

It is hard not to be taken aback by the callousness of Rodriguez’s statement.

Again, the “members of the public” who wish to “enjoy” the archive are not living in Iraq. They are not living in Iraq because they were forced to run for their lives – after surrendering their communal archives to their persecutors. And still today, as Jews, they will be unable to visit the archives in Iraq without risking their lives because today, at a minimum, the Iraqi regime kowtows to forces that openly seek the annihilation of the Jewish People.

And the State Department knows this.

The question then arises, surely this new American administration under President Donald Trump would be more sympathetic to Jewish concerns, and would overturn this surreal decision made by the Obama administration?

Apparently it’s not so clear-cut. It appears that Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly has been blocking most conservative news sites from reaching Trump, thus limiting his awareness of what is happening outside of his immediate circle (h/t Dan Miller in Panama).

Daniel Greenfield reiterates his call to the President – which he made in 2013 to Barack Obama (and which I quoted in my blog post at the time) – and demands that Trump should block Obama’s move to return these stolen artifacts to Iraq: (emphases are added):

… The archive doesn’t belong to the Iraqi government, but to the Jewish population that was ethnically cleansed from Iraq.

The United States recovered the archive and should have turned it over to the Jewish community. Instead we had a bizarre Kafkaesque process in which the archive was restored to be turned over to the thieves who stole it.

Jewish political leaders have invested a lot of energy into looted art in Europe. And that’s a worthwhile cause. Yet this is a far more compelling issue. The archive contains the history of a Jewish community. It matters far more than a Klimt painting. Sadly, the priorities are those of a secular Ashkenazi leadership that is uninterested in the Iraqi Jewish archive because it’s Sephardi and religious.

“This is Jewish communal property. Iraq stole it and kept it hidden away in a basement. Now that we’ve managed to reclaim it, it would be like returning stolen goods back to the thief,” Urman told JTA on Friday.

It’s exactly like it. Meanwhile here’s the bizarre anti-Semitic justification on the Iraqi side for wanting the archive. Here’s Al Arabiya’s explanation

Experts add that Israel is keen on obtaining the manuscripts in order to prove their claim that the Jews had built the Tower of Babel as part of its attempt to distort the history of the Middle East for its own interests.


Harold Rhode, who discovered the trove while working as a Defense Department policy analyst assigned to Iraq’s transitional government, said he is “horrified” to think the material would be returned when it had been “stolen by the government of Iraq from the Jewish community.”

“It would be comparable to the U.S. returning to the German government Jewish property that had been looted by the Nazis,” he told The Jewish Week.

It’s exactly like it.

I don’t expect Tillerson to care. Between McMaster at the NSC, Mattis on Defense and Tillerson, foreign policy is under the control of the usual Islam Firsters who are very concerned with Muslim feelings, particularly in the oil states, and very little else. And so the old Obama plan to turn over stolen Jewish religious items to a hostile Islamic regime is moving forward.

But President Trump can and should block the move. It’s the right thing to do. And Jewish activists should make that case.

If at the end the State Department’s decision cannot be overcome by President Trump’s executive veto (or whatever it is called in American politics), we can safely say that this decision is motivated more by malice than stupidity.

As before in 2013, there is a petition (possibly still the same one) which you should all sign, demanding that the artifacts do not return to Iraq.

Please sign and share the petition.

State Dept. Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

July 20, 2017

State Dept. Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, July 2017

(Please see also, Trump State Dept Unsure Why Palestinian Terrorists Kill Israelis. — DM

Please excuse the formatting. The State Department Report is in PDF and therefore very difficult to format correctly for this site.– DM)


Overview: Israel was a committed counterterrorism partner in 2016. Israel again faced terrorist
threats from Iranian-support groups such as Hizballah in Lebanon. Other threats included
Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees, and Palestinian
Islamic Jihad (PIJ), particularly from Gaza but also from the West Bank; al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its
affiliates, and ISIS and its affiliates along its borders, such as ISIL-Sinai Province (ISIL-SP) and
the Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed group (JKW, formerly the al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) in the
Syrian Golan Heights. In addition, since 2015, Israel has faced numerous incidents of terrorist
attacks committed by individuals with no clear affiliation to terrorist organizations, termed “lone
offender” attacks.

Israeli security officials and politicians remained concerned about the terrorist threat posed to
Israel from Hizballah and Iran, highlighting that Iran, primarily through the efforts of its Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, continued to fund and supply Hizballah. Israeli experts
believed that Iran has transferred to Hizballah advanced weapons systems such as anti-aircraft
and anti-ship cruise missile systems, and was continuing to transfer long-range rockets into
Lebanon. Also, Israeli officials were concerned about the proliferation of conventional and
non-conventional weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations. According to the Government
of Israel, Hizballah has stockpiled more than 130,000 rockets and missiles in Lebanon since the
2006 Lebanon War.

Israeli counterterrorism officials said Hamas and other Gaza terrorists made quantitative and
qualitative advances in their military capabilities. Israel assessed that Hamas and PIJ have
regained most of the military capabilities that were severely damaged during operation
“Protective Edge” (July 7 to August 26, 2014), and have, in some cases, expanded their
capabilities, including by constructing new offensive tunnels and acquiring other advanced
capabilities such as an arsenal of medium-to-long range rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist organizations continued rocket and mortar attacks into Israeli
territory, although no Israeli fatalities were reported.

While Israel was not involved in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, it shared information to
help track and stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters through information exchanges on
counterterrorism issues with numerous governments. In support of the UN Security Council
(UNSC) ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime, Israel regularly updated its list of foreign
terrorist organizations and individuals involved in terrorism to better align with UNSC sanctions

In 2016, Israel and the United States held numerous interagency counterterrorism dialogues to
discuss the broad range of threats in the region and to determine areas of collaboration to address
these challenges.

2016 Terrorist Incidents: Israel experienced numerous terrorist attacks in 2016 involving
weapons ranging from rockets and mortars to small arms and knives. The wave of violence that
began in late 2015, termed the “knife intifada,” gradually decreased during the year; nonetheless,
numerous Israelis and Palestinians were injured in these attacks. The following list details only a
fraction of the total terrorist incidents that occurred during the year.

• In January, an Israeli Arab gunman opened fire on several businesses in downtown
Tel Aviv, killing two people and wounding seven others. He subsequently killed a taxi
driver while fleeing the scene of the attack. Israeli officials identified the attacker as
31-year-old Nasha’at Melhem from the northern Israeli town of Ar’ara. Following a
week-long nationwide manhunt, Melhem was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli
security forces.

• In March, a Palestinian man went on a stabbing spree in Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, killing a
U.S. citizen and wounding 10 other people. The attack lasted approximately
20 minutes and ended after police shot and killed the assailant. Israeli authorities
identified the assailant as 22-year-old Bashar Masalha, from the West Bank village of

• In June, two Palestinian men opened fire on a popular market in downtown Tel Aviv,
killing four people and wounding seven others. Responding police arrested both
assailants, later identified as Muhammad and Khalid Mukhamra, cousins from the
West Bank town of Yatta. An Israel Security Agency (ISA) investigation determined
that ISIS online propaganda provided inspiration for the attack and friends of the
assailants assisted them with preparations.

• In November, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) units responded to machine gun and mortar
fire from JKW militants (an ISIS-aligned group) across the Syrian border. Israeli
forces crossed the Israeli security fence, while remaining within Israeli territory, and
called in an airstrike which killed four militants.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Israel has a robust legal framework to
counter terrorism and promote international legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution
of terrorists.

The Israeli Knesset passed new counterterrorism legislation in 2016 that broadened the range of
activities subject to enhanced criminal sentencing. These activities include tunnel-digging, stone
throwing, incitement, and planning intended to assist terrorist organizations and individuals. The
Combatting Terrorism Law was designed to empower law enforcement authorities to preempt
the establishment of terrorist cells and attack planning. The new provisions contained in the law
codified numerous military and emergency orders issued under general emergency powers in
place since the founding of the State of Israel. They include: the Anti-Terrorism Ordinance of
1948, the Anti-Terrorist finance Law of 2005, and various regulations issued under pre-statehood
emergency defense authorities of 1945.

Non-governmental human rights organizations protested the Law’s broad definition of terrorism,
arguing it serves to codify counterterrorism powers that critics compared to martial law.
Additional concerns regarding the scope of Israeli counterterrorism legislation were directed
towards the criminalization of activities related to freedom of expression, association, and
peaceful assembly that could affect the Arab population of Israel.

The ISA and Israel National Police (INP) continued to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement
agencies on cases involving U.S. citizens killed in terrorist attacks. Elite Israeli units engaged in
counterterrorism operations included Yamam (Israeli Border Police) and IDF special operations
units, such as Sayaret Matkal and Duvdevan (Urban Warfare Counterterrorism Operations).
Israeli Border police have a “hot return” policy for visitors suspected of ties to terrorist or
criminal organizations. The border fence constructed along the border with Egypt, and fences
along the West Bank and Gaza, assisted Israeli security forces in preventing migrant inflows and
mitigating security threats. The West Bank and Gaza barriers were augmented by cameras,
sensors, and active patrols by Israeli Border Police and the IDF.

Israel’s airport security was considered robust by international security experts, particularly with
regard to its security screening and inspections program. The Israeli Ministry of Interior
maintained a voluntary biometric passport control system at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International
Airport, which was available for Israeli passport holders over the age of 18 years. This system
facilitated both entry into and exit from Israel via an automatic kiosk for Israeli citizens who
successfully passed a background check and provided a scan of their hand.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Israeli financial intelligence unit, the Israeli
Money Laundering and Terror Finance Prohibition Authority (IMPA), is a member of the
Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Israel was also welcomed as an observer to the
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at the organization’s plenary meeting in February 2016, and
Israeli anti-money laundering (AML) experts have begun to participate in FATF peer reviews of
other countries’ anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism regimes.
Israel’s counterterrorist finance regime continued to be enhanced through enforcement
operations and the inclusion of new groups under national terrorist finance laws. The
well-regulated Israeli banking industry worked to address suspected terrorist activity. Israeli
experts and officials continued to raise concerns about the issue of state-sponsored funding of
Hamas, and said that Hamas funded terrorists in the West Bank preparing to perpetrate terrorist
attacks against Israel, Israelis, or Israeli interests.

Financing of Hamas through charitable organizations remained a concern for Israeli authorities,
as did the funding of Hizballah through charities and illicit activity. In one high-profile case in
August, Israeli police charged Mohammad al-Halabi – the Director of the NGO World Vision in
Gaza – with diverting material and financial assistance to Hamas; the charity itself was not
implicated in the case.

Israel regularly updates the list of foreign terrorist organizations and individuals involved in
terrorism, to implement the UNSC ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime. Israel also has
a domestic sanctions regime in place with the Anti-Terrorist finance Law of 2005, which allows
the Israeli Security Cabinet to declare a foreign organization to be classified as a foreign terrorist
organization in coordination with findings presented by a foreign country or by the UNSC.
The new counterterrorism law that entered into force on November 1 significantly reduced the
time it takes to adopt international designations. The UN sanctions lists were registered in the
formal government registry. Every domestic and UN designation was published in three
languages (Hebrew, Arabic, English), and run in three different newspapers, as required by law.
In addition, designations were published on the website of the IMPA and distributed by email to
the IMPA’s mailing list, which included banks, lawyers, and finance professionals.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial

Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Israel supported several organizations
that used educational and interreligious projects to build bridges between citizens of different
religions and beliefs. These interfaith initiatives benefitted a wide range of age groups and were
conducted in numerous fora, including from elementary schools to universities.
Israel’s national program, “City without Violence,” supported municipalities and local
authorities conducting programs to counter violence, crime, and violent extremism.
Israeli politicians and the public were increasingly concerned about online incitement’s role in
exacerbating the recent wave of violent attacks by so-called lone offender terrorists. The Israeli
government blamed social media companies and online platforms for not doing enough to
prevent the proliferation of online content inciting terrorism. The Israeli government also
considered legislation to obligate companies, such as Google and Facebook, to do more to
prevent incitement. Israel’s new counterterrorism law established a new criminal offense for
demonstrating solidarity with a terrorist organization or with an act of terrorism, and incitement
to terrorism, including via the internet and social media; the new criminal offense replaced and
consolidated two existing penal code offenses for incitement to terrorism.

International and Regional Cooperation: Israel continued its counterterrorism cooperation
with a range of regional and international institutions, including the United Nations, the
Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Israel cooperated with numerous countries to thwart terrorist attacks and plots against Israelis or
Israeli interests abroad.

The West Bank and Gaza, and Jerusalem

Overview: The Palestinian Authority (PA) continued its counterterrorism efforts in the West
Bank where Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
remained present. The PA Security Forces (PASF) constrained the ability of those organizations
to conduct attacks, including through arrests in February and April of Hamas members in the
West Bank who were planning attacks against Israelis. The PA exercised varying degrees of
authority over the West Bank due to the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) continuing presence in
certain areas, per Oslo-era agreements. The Israeli Security Forces (ISF) also arrested members
of suspected terrorist organizations operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Extremist Palestinians continued to conduct acts of violence and terrorism in the West Bank and
Jerusalem. The heightened period of violence that began in October 2015 abated significantly in
April 2016. However, sporadic lone offender stabbing, shooting, and vehicular attacks against
Israelis continued. A majority of perpetrators did not have any known organizational affiliation.
Attacks in 2016 resulted in the deaths of five Israeli citizens, including two dual U.S.-Israeli
nationals, and three ISF officers.

Extremist Israelis, including settlers, continued to conduct acts of violence as well as “price tag”
attacks (property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in
retaliation for activity they deemed anti-settlement) in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In March,
Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian home south of Bethlehem and spray-painted “Death to
Arabs” on the walls. The UN reported 101 incidents of settler violence in 2016, compared to
221 in 2015. Israeli NGO Yesh Din reported 19 incidents of settler violence during the
October – November Olive Harvest, compared to 15 in 2015. There were no reports of fatalities.

Hamas continued to maintain security control of Gaza. There is evidence that Hamas continued
to prepare for future conflict with Israel. Several Gaza-based terrorist and militant groups
continued to launch rockets against Israel from Gaza. Gaza remained a base of operations for
several Salafist splinter groups, such as Jaysh Al Islam, and clan-based terrorist groups that
engaged in or facilitated terrorist attacks. Hamas confronted Salafists in Gaza by arresting and
detaining a number of them this year, but at the same time Hamas likely maintained ties to
Salafists in the Sinai. Despite claims of responsibility from individuals or groups in Gaza
purporting affiliation with ISIS, there is no definitive link confirming membership on a large
scale in Gaza.

2016 Terrorist Incidents:

• In February, three Palestinian assailants shot and killed an Israeli National Police (INP)
officer and injured a second in Jerusalem’s Old City. INP shot and killed the attackers.
• In April, a Palestinian member of Hamas detonated a bomb on a bus in Jerusalem,
injuring approximately 21 people. The assailant died of injuries from the explosion.
• In March and July, suspected Israeli settlers conducted two arson attacks against
Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Douma, damaging homes of the relatives
of the Dawabsheh family, whose house in Douma was set on fire by settlers in July 2015
and resulted in the deaths of three Palestinians.
• In June, a Palestinian assailant stabbed to death a 13-year-old Israeli-American dual
national in her home in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. A private security
guard fatally shot the attacker.
• In October, a Palestinian member of Hamas shot and killed an Israeli civilian and INP
officer, and injured 12 others, while carrying out a drive-by shooting in Jerusalem. INP
shot and killed the attacker.

The United States continued to assist the PA’s counterterrorism efforts by providing training and
equipment to the PASF in the West Bank. The United States also assisted the PA criminal
justice system to conduct more thorough investigations and prosecutions of terrorist-related
activity, among other criminal acts, and to ensure safe incarceration of those held for trial or after
conviction for such crimes.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the
State of Israel, and pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means. President
Abbas supported a security program involving disarmament of fugitive militants, arresting
members of terrorist organizations, and gradually dismantling armed groups in the West Bank.
In July, President Abbas instructed the PASF to intensify measures in the West Bank to ensure
the safety and security of people; security services subsequently increased efforts to disrupt
criminal activity, including the proliferation of illegal weapons.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The PA continued to lack legislation
specifically tailored to counterterrorism, although existing Palestinian laws criminalize actions
that constitute terrorist acts. The PASF were active throughout the year in seizing illegal
weapons and closing down weapons manufacturing facilities in the West Bank.

The PA arrested terrorists, including Hamas elements suspected of terrorism, in the West Bank,
and the PASF and public prosecutors received training to enable better investigations of
terrorism-related crimes. The PA continued to develop its civilian justice institutions
(e.g. judiciary, police, prosecutors) to improve both investigative and prosecutorial functions.
The United States provided assistance to enable the PA to reduce case backlogs, improve warrant
executions, and upgrade forensic services.

The Preventive Security Organization (PSO) is the key PA institution by mandate and law that
works to prevent internal terrorist events and investigates security-related criminal conduct. In
practice, the General Intelligence Organization and the Military Intelligence Organization also
play a critical role in this effort. The PSO conducted investigations in coordination with public
prosecutors, but this cooperation could improve, especially the PSO’s ability to conduct criminal
investigations and gather admissible evidence. The United States assisted the PSO and the
Security Forces Justice Commission to help the PA move the prosecution of all civilian cases,
including those involving terrorism and security-related offenses, to the exclusive jurisdiction of
the civilian courts, and enhance cooperation between security service investigators and public

Per the Oslo-era Accords, Israel controlled border security in the West Bank.

The primary limitation on PA counterterrorism efforts in Gaza remained Hamas’ control of the
area and the resulting inability of PASF to operate there. Limitations on PA counterterrorism
efforts in the West Bank included restrictions on the movement and activities of PASF in and
through areas of the West Bank for which the Government of Israel retained responsibility for
security under the terms of Oslo-era agreements. Moreover, ISF incursions into

Palestinian-controlled Area A at times disrupted ongoing PASF counterterrorism operations.
The PA advanced its forensic capabilities with the official opening of the Palestinian Civilian
Police forensic laboratory in November. The laboratory is capable of conducting basic
analyses/examinations in firearm and tool mark evidence, document examination, and drug and
chemical analysis. The PA already has a basic ability to examine and compare unknown prints
to known prints.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: In 2015, the PA became a full member of the Middle
East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style
regional body. President Abbas issued Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist financing Decree
No. 20 in December 2015, which criminalizes terrorist financing and defined terrorists, terrorist
acts, terrorist organizations, foreign terrorist fighters, and terrorist financing. It also makes
terrorism and terrorist acts predicate money laundering offenses, although the decree does not
fully meet international standards as it does not criminalize all forms of material support or the
financing of an individual terrorist in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act. Because the
legislature has not convened since 2007, the PA remained unable to make legislative
improvements (without decree) required to bring the current law up to international standards.
The Palestinian Financial Follow-Up Unit (FFU) is a fully functional financial intelligence unit
with 19 employees and a computer system linking it with 15 banks licensed to operate in the
West Bank. Seven banks are local and eight are foreign, operating through a network of
302 branches in the West Bank and Gaza. There are 311 money changers. The banks file
suspicious transaction reports (STRs) and currency transaction reports electronically through this
system. In 2016, banks filed 113 STRs, compared to 108 in 2015. Although the FFU has
adequate staffing, authority, and equipment, restrictions in the law hinder its operational
effectiveness. The 2007 Anti-Money Laundering Law No. 7 restricts information sharing
between the FFU and any law enforcement agency, with the exception of the Attorney General’s
Office. While the FFU may pass information to any requesting authority according to the 2015
Decree, the Attorney General’s Office is the primary recipient of the FFU’s information.
Moreover, the PA has no effective control outside of Area A. The absence of PA law
enforcement and regulatory power in Areas B and C increased vulnerability.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial

Countering Violent Extremism: The PA continued to counter violent extremism in the
West Bank through security operations to prevent attacks, the PASF’s outreach to Palestinian
communities to alert them to signs of youth at risk of extremism, and monitoring social media
for indicators of extremism and intent to carry out violent acts. During an interview broadcast in
March, President Abbas said he sent the PASF to schools to look for knives and to caution
Palestinian youth against undertaking attacks against Israelis. The PASF thwarted hundreds of
lone offender attacks, according to public statements by PA and Israeli government officials.
Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli
settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank,
the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram
Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.
The PA has taken significant steps during President Abbas’ tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that
official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that
incites violence. While some PA leaders have made provocative and inflammatory comments,
the PA has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to
violence. Explicit calls for violence against Israelis, direct exhortations against Jews, and
categorical denials by the PA of the possibility of peace with Israel are rare and the leadership
does not generally tolerate it. In April, President Abbas condemned an attack on a Jerusalem bus
and said he was against all forms of terrorist activity that affect Israelis and Palestinians. In
November, he said, “Incitement can lead to violence, and we must end it in every place.” During
a speech to the Seventh Fatah General Congress in November, Abbas expressed his commitment
to fight terrorism and to cooperate with regional and international parties in this endeavor, while
reaffirming a “culture of peace and tolerance and the renunciation of violence and extremism.”
According to the PA’s Palestinian Broadcasting Company’s code of conduct, it does not allow
programming that encourages “violence against any person or institution on the basis of race,
religion, political beliefs, or sex.” In practice, however, some instances of incitement took place
via official media. There were also some instances of inflammatory rhetoric and the posting of
political cartoons glorifying violence on official Fatah Facebook pages.

The PA maintains control over the content of Friday sermons delivered in approximately
1,800 West Bank mosques to ensure that they do not endorse incitement to violence. Weekly,
the PA Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs distributes approved themes and prohibits
incitement to violence. The PA’s ability to enforce these guidelines varies depending upon the
location of the Mosques and it had limited authority to control the content of sermons in
Israeli-controlled Area C. A senior PA religious official met in October with prominent Israeli
rabbis to discuss ways to increase religious tolerance in the region.

As part of a policy codified in 2003, the PA provided financial packages to Palestinian security
prisoners released from Israeli prisons in an effort to reintegrate them into society and prevent
recruitment by hostile political factions.

International and Regional Cooperation: PA justice and security leaders continued to
participate in regional conferences and meetings to counter terrorism. PASF personnel attended
a variety of international training courses related to counterterrorism at training facilities in
Jordan, Europe, and the United States.

Who will rid me of this troublesome Kerry?

December 6, 2016

Who will rid me of this troublesome Kerry? | Anne’s Opinions, 6th December 2016

The answer to my rhetorical question in the title is President-elect Donald Trump.

John Kerry wagging his finger at

John Kerry wagging his finger at “naughty” Israel for the last time

In a parting shot at his nemesis, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry takes aim at Binyamin Netanyahu, the settlements, and Israel. His Jeremiad sounds awfully familiar, and – yes – he has spouted off the same nonsense time and time again.

Let’s have a look at his latest – and last, thank goodness! – complaints about an Israel that will not heed his warnings:

First the mildly good news:

It seems increasingly unlikely, though not impossible, that the Obama administration will lend its hand to a resolution that might discomfit the Israeli government at the UN, or otherwise seek to bequeath a framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

But then comes the rest:

Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry did a great deal more than discomfit the prime minister and his coalition on Sunday, however. In remarks at the Saban Forum in Washington, DC, Kerry unloaded almost four years of bitter frustration at Benjamin Netanyahu and his colleagues, warned that Israel is heading toward “a place of danger,” and cited the settlement enterprise as the central catalyst for that potential disaster.

A different, brighter future, he indicated, was attainable for Israel. But the settlers were destroying it, he said. And his unfortunate role, he made sadly clear, had been to serve these past four years as the prophet who can see the tragedy approaching, but whose warnings go unheeded.

No, said the secretary, ceding a point to Netanyahu, who had spoken by satellite just before him, the settlements “are not the cause of the conflict.” But, Kerry repeated several times, they most certainly constitute a core “obstacle” to its solution. “Let’s not kid each other here,” he advised. “You can’t just wipe it away by saying it doesn’t have an impact. It does have an impact.”

Oh, bla bla bla. The core obstacle to the solution of the crisis is the Arabs’ refusal to recognize a Jewish state in ANY of the land of Israel. The settlements are a convenient tool, a perfect excuse for a politically correct world where history has been turned on its head and indigenous rights have been reversed, making the occupiers (the Arabs) the “indigenous natives” and turning the Jews into imperialist colonialist invaders.

He didn’t blame Netanyahu personally for utilizing settlements with the deliberate goal of ensuring that there can be no two-state solution. But the Israeli right, Kerry said, was strategically bringing more and more Jews into the West Bank, and locating them in very specific locations, with precisely that goal — to ensure that there could be no viable Palestinian state. And Netanyahu was presiding over the process.

The vast majority of “settlers” (I apologize for the term but I use it as shorthand) are living in greater Jerusalem or the large settlement blocs, which under any peace plan ever proposed are going to remain under Israeli sovereignty. In which case, why is it a problem for Jews to live there?

Next we come to Kerry’s hubris as “Israel’s saviour”:

The way he told it, his has been a thankless task — essentially trying to save Israel from itself,

Sorry not sorry Mr. Kerry. We Israelis know how to look after ourselves a lot better than you can, or than you think you can (small difference).

The ongoing building is backed by the right “because they don’t want peace,” he said flatly. “They want to block peace,” said Kerry. “That’s the history of the settler movement, my friends.”

That is such a disgusting slur and slander against the Israeli right, the settlers, and all of Israel in fact since the government represents the entire country, that really our Foreign Ministry should look into suing Kerry for libel.

Is Kerry implying that Israelis want war?? That we prefer to live by the sword? Does he reference Palestinian terrorism at all? Does he make mention of the violence that descended upon us when we DID cede territory in Gaza?

Or is it simply that what he calls “peace” does not mean what he thinks it means?

“Peace” does not mean surrendering to your enemies, or even simply ceding up front any demands they make of you just to have a quiet life and to bring them to the negotiating table.

“Peace’ means the absence of war, normalization of relations, trade, tourism, cooperation, and the prevention of violence from terrorists and other hostile elements. None of this should be contingent on giving up strategically priceless territory.

Vouchsafing new details of his 2013-2104 deal-making efforts, now that he’s so close to the end of his term, Kerry detailed some of the security provisions that, he argued, could enable a substantial Israeli withdrawal, and facilitate a small, demilitarized Palestinian “city state” in the West Bank. The Jordanians were ready to build a sophisticated security fence on their side of the Jordan Valley, and the Palestinians on their side. Israeli troops would have been able to helicopter to trouble spots in minutes. There were “all kinds of ways” for Israel to deploy its soldiers in times of crisis, he said, referring to the proposals memorably castigated by then defense minister Moshe Ya’alon in 2014 as “not worth the paper they’re printed on.”

Not only were his proposals worthless, even if they had been of value at the time, later developments, such as the “Arab Spring” and the rise of ISIS would have rendered them useless, and worse, would have placed Israel in an untenable position militarily and diplomatically.

… Stability and tranquility were not out of reach for Israel, Kerry suggested, but wouldn’t be attained if “all the time you are building up your presence” in what the Palestinians see as their state.

But does Kerry have anything to say about the illegal Arab construction in Israel? Not to mention the ongoing destruction by the Waqf on the Temple Mount. Is building illegal only for Jews? If so, there’s a word for that: antisemitism.

And as for that idea beloved by Netanyahu of a regional Arab peace first, and accommodation with the Palestinians somewhere down the line, forget about it. “There will be no separate peace with the Arab world,” he insisted.

Again, events have overtaken Mr. Kerry. Israel is on speaking terms at the very least with many of her most obdurate enemies, including Saudi Arabia, besides “cold peace partners” like Jordan and Egypt.

I was gratified to see that others are of the same opinion as me regarding Kerry’s outrageous statements.

Ruthie Blum in Israel Hayom says Good Riddance Mr. Kerry:

But let’s face it: Even Bozo the Clown would be better than Secretary of State John Kerry.

To be fair to Kerry, he was following the foreign policy spelled out by Obama four years earlier: that America was about to embark on a new path, reaching out to enemies who would suddenly transform into friends when faced with a more gentle and multicultural America — one that “leads from behind.”

Nevertheless, it was Kerry who did most of the shuttling, predominantly to the Middle East, alternating between his many trips to Europe to grovel before his Iranian counterpart, and visits to Israel, where he expressed severe displeasure with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not behaving similarly with the Palestinian Authority.

“I come to you as somebody who is concerned for the safety and the security of the State of Israel — for the long-term ability of the State of Israel to be able to be what it has dreamt of being, and what the people of Israel, I believe, want it to be,” he said, implying that it has not lived up to that dream.

Again that patronizing arrogance.

He then professed his concern for the Jewish state, claiming to “want to see this thing develop into the full-blossomed beacon that Israel has the potential of being.” Indeed, he went on, “Israel has all these skills,” in so many realms “that it could be sharing with Egypt, with Jordan, with the Emirates, with Saudi Arabia, with all of these countries. … But the issue is, how do get from here to there?”

Netanyahu could have pointed out that attempting to get “from here to there” has been his guiding principle — one that he has been putting into practice with every Arab and African country that is open to it. This year alone, he has forged friendly relations and cooperation with Cairo. He has even made enormous strides with the Saudis, who consider Israel an ally in preventing Iran from acquiring the nuclear weapons that Kerry and his boss handed the mullahs on a silver platter.


He continued by lambasting settlements, while claiming he understands that they are not the root cause of the conflict, saying that he “cannot accept the notion that they do not affect the peace process — that they aren’t a barrier to the capacity to have peace.”

And here was the clincher. He said he knows this, because “the Left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace and the Right supports it, openly supports it, because they don’t want peace.”

And there you have it. Kerry’s utter gall. His accusation that most Israelis oppose peace. Not that we long to live without fear of being stabbed, car-rammed, torched, blown up by bombs and hit by rocket fire by hate-filled terrorists bent on our annihilation. Not that we have relinquished most of the West Bank and all of Gaza to those killers. Not that every territorial withdrawal has been accompanied by an escalation in violence against us.

Meanwhile the indefatigable Elder of Ziyon has done his homework and notes that Kerry outright lied about the basic facts of the Oslo Accords in his Saban Forum speech:

John Kerry, speaking at the Saban Forum this past weekend, said:

When Oslo was signed in 1993, the vision was that with the signing of Oslo, Area C – everybody knows there’s Area A, B, C – Area A is Palestinian security and administrative control, Area B is a split between administrative and security control, and Area C, which is 60 percent of the West Bank, is just Israel security and administrative still. But the deal of Oslo in 1993 was over the next year and a half Area C would be transferred to the Palestinian control administratively. Well, it didn’t happen for a number of different reasons. We won’t go into that now.

Kerry had good reason not to go into it – because it is a complete fiction.

The original 1993 Oslo Accords did not divide the territories into Areas A, B and C. That was Oslo II, in 1995, not 1993.

Oslo II mentioned very little about redeploying Israeli control.

The Wye River Agreement of 1998 did say Israel was to withdraw from a percentage of Area C, but the bulk was going to remain under Israeli control. It was never implemented after Netanyahu, who opposed it, lost a vote of no-confidence. But there were a whole lot of terror attacks in the md-90s that would seem to be a violation of Oslo.

Kerry didn’t mention Hamas or suicide bombings or terror.

He didn’t mention those inconvenient facts because they do not fit his politically correct world-view where the “poor brown people” can do no wrong and the “white people” (played by the Israeli Jews) can do no right.

For some more interesting reading on Kerry and his malicious ignorance on Israel and the Middle East, read this excellent article about him on the Winds of Jihad blog: “Ignorant Of Islam, Frustrated And Confused About the Middle East, Incapable Of Grasping Reality, Quick To Blame Israel”. It’s from 2013 but still as relevant as ever.

In short, Kerry is a puffed-up arrogant blowhard with a one-eyed view of the world, particularly the Middle East, and the time can’t come quickly enough when we shall see the back of him.

The only ethnic cleansing that the world accepts is that of the Jews

September 12, 2016

The only ethnic cleansing that the world accepts is that of the Jews | Anne’s Opinions, 12th September 2016

Binyamin Netanyahu brought down the opprobrium of the world onto his head on Friday when he stated two categorical truths: the first: the Palestinians want to ethnically cleanse Jews off their land. The second: that it is absurd that such ethnic cleansing is a pre-condition to “peace”.

Here is Bibi’s statement:

The United with Israel article reports on the video which has gone viral:

Israel’s prime minister rejected international criticism of Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria on Friday, equating it to “ethnic cleansing” of Jews and insisting the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are not an obstacle to peace, in a video that drew a rare rebuke from the United States.

Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video posted online that he has “always been perplexed” by claims that Israeli building in Judea and Samaria is “an obstacle to peace.”

He pointed to Israel’s Arab minority, which enjoys citizenship and voting rights.

“No one would seriously claim that the nearly 2 million Arabs living inside Israel, that they’re an obstacle to peace,” Netanyahu said. “Yet the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one precondition: No Jews. There’s a phrase for that: It’s called ethnic cleansing.”

“It’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find this outrageous,” he added. “Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace?”

Of course such simple, clear truths are unacceptable to the liberal, progressive, enlightened, oh-so-politically correct State Department which never met a terrorist it couldn’t love. They condemned Netanyahu’s video as “inappropriate”:

Washington on Friday fumed at comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video released online in which he accused the Palestinians of advocating ethnic cleansing of the Jewish population in the West Bank.

US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters the administration is “engaging in direct conversations with the Israeli government” about the video.

“We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful,” Trudeau said.

She said Israel expansion of settlements raises “real questions about Israel’s long-term intentions in the West Bank.”

I would like to throw the State Departments words back in their face and ask them why the Palestinians’ demands for ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria do not raise real questions about the Palestinian Authority’s long-term intentions in the West Bank”.

As expected, beyond Washington’s seething, Netanyahu’s words also aroused condemnation from the usual suspects, as the JPost reports:

The Zionist Union’s Tzipi Livni responded to the video, saying that the US is now saying that all the settlements are obstacles to peace, including those inside the large settlement blocs, while in the past Israel received recognition for those blocs.

“I worked to get diplomatic benefit while paying a political price, while Netanyahu is trying to get political benefit while paying a diplomatic price,” she said.

Tzipi Livni might wave her diplomatic credentials around, but the truth is that she achieved nothing during her vaunted peace-processing career. The highlight of her career was the lopsided UN Resolution 1701 after the Second Lebanon War which handed a political victory to Hezbollah.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, slammed Netanyahu for comparing Israeli Arabs to “settlers.”

Netanyahu, he said, “is comparing a minority born here, who has lived in the place for generations, which Israel came and foisted itself upon, to settlers that were transferred against international law to occupied territory, all the while trampling the human rights of the residents of the West Bank and Gaza.”

But reality, he said, “never bothered Netanyahu.”

I don’t expect anything different from Odeh, but he really must be called out for the bunch of lies that he spouts. Calling the Palestinians “a minority born here who has lived in the place for generations” is a verifiable untruth. The land was empty and desolate, and the Arabs were uninterested in it until the Jews returned to their homeland and made it flourish. It is the Jews who are indigenous to Israel – which includes our Biblical and historical heartland, Judea and Samaria – not the Arabs, and the only time the land was Judenfrei was for a mere 19 years, a blink in the eye of history, from 1948-1967.

With every other nation, the world applauds as indigenous peoples return to their homelands. But as always, when it comes to the Jews, when they are ethnically cleansed, they’d better stay ethnically cleansed! The hypocrisy and absurdity, as Netanyahu points out, are breathtaking.

As for the video itself, people are scratching their heads wondering what prompted Netanyahu to publish this provocative statement davka now. The JPost gives a bit of background:

The brief video is the eighth that Netanyahu has made since David Keyes took over from Mark Regev as Netanyahu’s English spokesman in March. The Prime Minister’s Office views these videos as a very effective way to get the premier’s unfiltered message out to millions of people. Some 750,000 people have seen this video since it was uploaded Friday, and the number of those who have seen the others – which have dealt with issues varying from Israeli Arabs to gay rights – have been seen by tens of millions of people.

Raphael Ahren in the ToI further explains Netanyahu’s intentions. He notes that this is not the first time Netanyahu has made decried Palestinian ethnic-cleansing of the Jews in videos, speeches and interviews:

“Ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd. It’s about time somebody said it. I just did,” Netanyahu said at the end of the two-minute clip. But Netanyahu did not invent this controversial comparison on Friday afternoon, when the clip appeared on his social media accounts. He has made the argument, in various mutations, throughout his political career. In the 2000 edition of his book “A Durable Peace,” written before his watershed Bar-Ilan speech conditionally accepting the two-state solution, he flatly rejected the notion of a “hostile, Judenrein Palestinian state.” Even if the entire world supports it, the campaign for a West Bank free of Jews is based “not on justice but on injustice,” he argued at the time.

Amid the widespread criticism Netanyahu’s latest video elicited, many are wondering about his motives. Ethnic cleansing is widely considered a crime against humanity; the clip can thus be seen as a premeditated slap in the face of the Americans and indeed the entire international community for demanding that Israel agree to such a practice, some pundits said.

Others blamed the polls. Over the weekend, a second survey within a week showed Netanyahu’s Likud trailing the centrist Yesh Atid, indicating that for the first time since 2012, Likud would no longer be the country’s biggest party if elections were held today. Several analysts argued that Netanyahu provoked the ethnic cleansing drama to deflect criticism over his handling of last week’s train crisis and galvanize his right-wing supporters, relations with the US and the rest of the world be damned.

But the fact that Netanyahu and his aides have made the “ethnic cleansing” talking point before appears to discredit this theory. It is more likely that Netanyahu and Keyes — who, before he entered the Prime Minister’s Office, was known for his unorthodox style of political activism — released the clip as just one more of their ongoing series of hasbara (pro-Israel advocacy) videos, not expecting it would lead to such outrage.

The point of these videos, … is to make Israel’s case directly to the masses via social media, thus circumventing the ostensibly biased mainstream media.

Ahren then embarks on a Talmudic pilpul dissection of what constitutes “ethnic cleansing” – as if Bibi’s words are devoid of anything but political showboating:

Notwithstanding the emotions Netanyahu’s use of the term “ethnic cleansing” evoked this weekend, and the fact that Palestinian activists often use it to describe Israel’s actions in 1948, is the description factually sound?

Golden Oldie from 1994: Ethnic cleansing of the Jews

Golden Oldie from 1994: Ethnic cleansing of the Jews

There is no clear legal definition of “ethnic cleansing.” The Cambridge Dictionary describes it as “the organized, often violent attempt by a particular cultural or racial group to completely remove from a country or area all members of a different group.”

A commission of experts examining the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s — when the term was invented — established ethnic cleansing as a “purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”

On the face of it, the forced evacuation of Jewish settlers from the West Bank for the benefit of Palestinian Arabs appears to fit the bill. Palestinian leaders have been adamant that “not a single Israeli” will be accepted in their future state.

On the other hand, proponents of an Israeli withdrawal are not calling for the violent removal of settlers by Palestinians, but rather for a coordinated evacuation of settlements in the framework of a peace agreement.

As previous Israeli withdrawals from Sinai and Gaza have shown, a proportion of ideologically and religiously motivated activists would likely have to be evacuated by force — though hardly by “terror-inspiring means.”

That is absolutely not the point. See the Dry Bones cartoon from above, still accurate after over 20 years. The point remains that the Palestinians refuse to have one single Israeli in their midst, as Palestinian “President-for-Life” Mahmoud Abbas himself declared. Keeping a territory “pure” for one ethnicity only, and demanding the expulsion of other nationalities, in however peaceful a manner, remains ethnic cleansing. This “word-washing” of the Palestinians’ rejectionism has to stop if we are ever to arrive at any kind of non-violent accommodation with each other.

As an aside, Abbas even rejects Syrian Palestinians, fleeing for their lives from the civil war, heartlessly telling them to “go to Israel or die in Syria”. So much for brotherly love.

Dennis Ross

Former US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross

In a further reminder, if any were necessary, of the dangers of the US Adminsitration’s exacerbating the problems in the conflict, here comes Dennis Ross asserting that if Hilary Clinton is elected she should seek more Israeli concessions.

If Hillary Clinton is elected US president, she should launch a behind the scenes initiative to bring about changes in Israel’s policies, according to former Clinton adviser and US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross.

Ross’s remarks came during a panel discussion at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service on Thursday.

Ross said that “even though negotiations with the Palestinian Authority won’t work now,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should take steps of his own. “He should, at a minimum, announce an official policy that there will be no further Israeli construction east of the security barrier,” Ross said.

Numerous Israeli settlements would be affected by such a policy, including the communities in the Jordan Valley. Ross said such unilateral concessions would be consistent with “the traditional Zionist way of shaping your own destiny.”

No Mr. Ross! That is NOT the Zionist way. The Zionist way is to take our own destiny in our own hands, to settle our own land any way we wish, and not to kow-tow to foreign meddlers who most definitely do not have our own interests at heart.

The Zionist way is to reject the Exile, to reject the ghetto way of living where we had to be afraid of the powers that be. The Zionist way is to reclaim our own narrative, our own history, our own land and our own destiny.

Muslim Brotherhood 101: Why the State Dept Should Ban Them

April 7, 2016

Muslim Brotherhood 101: Why the State Dept Should Ban Them, Clarion Project, Elliot Friedland, April 7, 2016

Egypt-Muslim-Brotherhood-Supporters-Flags-HP_2Muslim Brotherhood supporters. (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project launches a new campaign to demand the Muslim Brotherhood be designated a terrorist entity in the United States.

Muslim Brotherhood_NL

Who is the Muslim Brotherhood?

The Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ihkwan al-Muslimun) is a Sunni, pan-Islamic organization based in Cairo, Egypt whose ultimate aim is the re-establishment of the global Islamic caliphate and the implementation of sharia as state law. Founded in Egypt in 1928 it is the oldest Islamist group in the world and along with Jamaat e-Islami in Pakistan and India, the most influential.

During World War II they backed the Nazis against the British. They were provided with a printing press by the Third Reich to print Arabic copies of Hitler’s book Mein Kampf and the notorious anti-Semitic forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

They see Islam as a holistic system of life that must be implemented at every level. This includes the brutal hudud punishments such as amputations and the death penalty for adultery and blasphemy. However, they are aware that such ideas are unpopular so they seek first to Islamize the society through education. Although the group officially renounced violence in 1971, that seems to have been a practical decision. The group still believes that armed jihad is a legitimate way to achieve its goals when the time is right.

Following that they would implement their policies step-by-step, under their doctrine of gradualism. After the Egyptian revolution the group came to power in an election which attempted to implement this vision. It was deposed after one year because of their tyrannical policies.

They have branches in approximately 80 countries worldwide including the United States.

Is the Muslim Brotherhood Involved in Terrorism?

They have been the leading source of inspiration behind terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and its offshoot the Islamic State. Founder Hassan al-Banna and ideologue Sayyid Qutb wrote extensively on the importance of armed jihad. Qutb is also credited with the idea of modern political understanding of jahilliya, which holds that any government which does not implement sharia as state law is in a state of un-Islamic ignorance and should be opposed.

Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam, and the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were both members of the Muslim Brotherhood before they joined al-Qaeda.

The Muslim Brotherhood branch in Gaza, Hamas, is a terrorist organization which glorifies attacks on civilians and seeks to violently eradicate the state of Israel and commit massacres against the Jews living there.

Muslim-Brotherhood-linked entities in America and other countries have raised money for Hamas. The most famous case of this was the Holy Land Foundation Trial in 2007.

What are other governments doing about the Muslim Brotherhood?

The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as a terrorist organization. The UAE ban included U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) as well as Islamic Relief Worldwide, which has sent money to Hamas.

Israel has also banned Islamic Relief Worldwide for funding Hamas.

The UK commissioned a report into the Muslim Brotherhood. While it stopped short of banning it as a terrorist organization, the British government rejected the myth that the Brotherhood is “moderate” along with the patently false notion that it is “non-violent.” The UK will keep the Muslim Brotherhood under review.

Which US Organizations Are Included in This Bill

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT).

Read our profiles of each group’s extremism by clicking on the links


State Dept. counts ‘bringing peace’ to Syria as a 2015 win

December 28, 2015

State Dept. counts ‘bringing peace’ to Syria as a 2015 win, Politico, December 28, 2015

(Does that mean that Obama’s America won’t accept any more Syrian refugees and that those already there will be sent home? — DM)

The State Department is counting “bringing peace” to Syria as one of its wins in 2015.

A boastful recap of the State Department’s accomplishments, written by spokesman John Kirby, includes the bold subheadline of “Bringing Peace, Security to Syria” above a more modest entry talking about U.S. aid for those affected by the country’s turmoil and the U.S. push for a political transition from President Bashar Assad.

While Secretary of State John Kerry has played an integral role in the Syrian peace talks, the country remains embroiled in a nasty civil war and terrorized by the Islamic State.

“The United States and many members of the international community have stepped up to aid the Syrian people during their time of need — the United States has led the world in humanitarian aid contributions since the crisis began in 2011,” Kirby said.

Kirby wrote that the Syrians have “borne a heavy load” but that under Kerry’s stewardship the United Nations passed a U.S.-sponsored resolution to create a road map for Syria going forward.

The apparent declaration of a win echoes comments from President Barack Obama, who has been heavily criticized for calling the Islamic State a “JV team” in a January 2014 article and for calling the group’s territorial expansion efforts “contained,” just days before the Paris attacks.

Kirby also explicitly touched on the Islamic State, also called ISIL, saying that the U.S. is “winning [the] fight against violent extremists.”

“Although challenges remain, we have made positive strides over the last year, including in our fight against ISIL,” Kirby said. “This forward progress will only continue as more countries pledge resources to the anti-ISIL effort and as citizens around the world increasingly reject ISIL’s misguided ideology.”

Kirby cited the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, hosted in February, which he called “monumental.”

Other things the State Department is counting as wins: re-establishing ties with Cuba, protecting the Arctic, clinching the Iran nuclear agreement, stopping the Ebola outbreak, committing to U.N. development goals, securing a free trade deal, preserving ocean health, and reaching the climate agreement.

Jews Denied Security Clearance While Huma Infiltrates the Government

December 24, 2015

Jews Denied Security Clearance While Huma Infiltrates the Government, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, December 24, 2015

(This has nothing to do with Islam or Obama? Please see also, The United States and Islam: What Is Going On? — — DM)


The Obama administration’s anti-Israel sentiment knows no bounds. The latest example involves the denial of a security clearance to a Jewish-American dentist, Dr. Gershon Pincus, on the grounds that he has “divided loyalties.” All that Dr. Pincus wanted to do was to use the experience and skills he had gained over a lifetime of private practice to give back to his country – the United States of America. He wanted to serve American troops as a dentist at an off-base U.S. Navy clinic. Nothing doing, decided the Obama administration after a second security investigation of the dentist. Using a McCarthyite guilt by association rationale, the dentist was disqualified because of his close family ties in Israel and the possible contact of his family members with their Israeli neighbors. 

Dr. Pincus’s original security investigation had reached a positive conclusion: “There is nothing in subject’s background or character that would make him vulnerable to blackmail, extortion, coercion or duress.” That should have ended the matter. After all, Dr. Pincus was not applying for a sensitive job in the Department of Defense or the CIA. He was simply seeking to provide dental services at an off-base U.S. Naval clinic.

However, the Obama administration was not through investigating Dr. Pincus. It ordered a second investigation, conducted this time by a contract investigator sent by the Office of Personnel Management. The bill of particulars resulting from this second investigation are set out in the “Statement of Reasons” for denying Dr. Pincus’s request for security clearance. They included such shocking details as the fact that the dentist’s ailing mother now lives in Israel along with his brother and sister. He sends money to his mother to help her pay her rent. He calls his family members and has even visited Israel three times in the last eight years for his father’s funeral, his niece’s wedding and to see his mother. Dr. Pincus’s deceased son was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel and also served for six months in the Israeli Army.

“Foreign contacts and interests may be a security concern due to divided loyalties or financial foreign interests,” quoted the Statement of Reasons from the federal government’s Adjudicative Guideline B – Foreign Influence. They “may be manipulated or induced to help a foreign person, group, organization, or government in a way that is not in U.S. interests, or is vulnerable to pressure or coercion by any foreign interests.”

Just regurgitating this expression of security concerns from the Guideline is meaningless without considering the context in which it is supposed to be applied. Guideline B lists a number of mitigating circumstances that investigators are expected to take into account, among which are whether “the nature of the relationships with foreign persons, the country in which these persons are located, or the positions or activities of those persons in that country are such that it is unlikely the individual will be placed in a position of having to choose between the interests of a foreign individual, group, organization, or government and the interests of the U.S.”

In Dr. Pincus’s case, the Statement of Reasons explaining the decision to deny his security clearance does not point to any security risk posed by the dentist himself or his relatives living in Israel. There is not a single shred of evidence cited, including any questionable statements or associations, which calls into question the loyalty of Dr. Pincus’s family members to the United States.  Nor are any activities referenced that could pose a conflict of interest for Dr. Pincus in serving as a dentist at the Navy clinic. The dentist’s son who had served in the Israeli army is no longer alive. His mother is ailing. His brother does not want to become an Israeli citizen. His sister does hold dual citizenship, but there is nothing to indicate that she is in a position of influence in Israel that would force Dr. Pincus to have to choose between Israel’s interests and the interests of the United States, assuming there were even a circumstance in which his dental activities and access to the Navy clinic could cause a problem.

Moreover, the Statement of Reasons admits that Dr. Pincus himself has “no intentions of moving to Israel, or obtaining Israeli citizenship.” Nevertheless, the second investigation led to his disqualification.

This disgraceful decision was not an isolated occurrence. Although subject to an appeal, there is not much cause for optimism that it will be reversed. A Wall Street Journal Op Ed by Bret Stephens reported that “there have been a total of 58 cases in which Israeli ties were a significant factor in the decision. Of these, 36 applicants—an astonishing 62% of the total—lost their appeals and had their clearance applications denied.”

Contrast the arbitrary, discriminatory treatment of a Jewish American dentist who has family ties to Israel with a Muslim American who has family ties to Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood.  The latter, Huma Abedin, was allowed to serve in the Obama State Department and remains a close confidante of Hillary Clinton.

Obama’s Office of Personnel Management and State Department evidently did not consider Ms. Abedin a security risk for a much more sensitive job than serving as a dentist at an off-base Navy clinic, despite the following undisputed facts:

1. Although born in the United States, Huma Abedin grew up in Saudi Arabia, where her parents were recruited by Abdullah Omar Naseef (a jihadist affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Muslim World League) to establish an organization known as the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA). The principle underlying the notion of Muslim Minority Affairs is to discourage assimilation of Muslim minority populations into the culture and society of their host non-Muslim majority countries. Such separatism would enable the Muslim minority population to grow over time and expand the influence of sharia law in their host countries.

2. Huma Abedin returned to the United States from Saudi Arabia to attend George Washington University, where she was an executive board member of George Washington University’s Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Muslim Students Association.

3. Huma’s late father founded IMMA’s Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, now run by Abedin’s mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin.  Saleha Abedin is a sociologist with ties to numerous jihadist organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood. She has directed the Jordan-based International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child (IICWC), which supports the implementation of strict sharia law. Saleha Abedin still lives in Saudi Arabia.

4. Huma Abedin served as an assistant editor for the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs for twelve years, leaving shortly before she joined the State Department in 2009. The first seven of the years in which Huma was an assistant editor overlapped with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Naseef’s active presence at IMMA, including one year in which Huma and Naseef served together on the editorial board of the journal.

5. Huma Abedin did not distance herself from her mother, despite her mother’s jihadist views that place sharia law over man-made law and self-governance. In fact, Huma Abedin introduced Hillary Clinton to her mother during a visit to Saudi Arabia, while Hillary was serving as Secretary of State.

In short, Huma Abedin has a family connection to Saudi Arabia, the source of the Wahhabi jihadist ideology and the country where fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers came from. She grew up there. Huma’s mother is a well-known jihadist in Saudi Arabia still active in pushing a sharia law agenda that is antithetical in material respects to the Constitution of the United States and American values. Dr. Gershon Pincus has a mother, brother and sister living in Israel, which, at least prior to the Obama administration, has been our closest ally in the Middle East. His mother has dementia and neither she, nor Dr. Pincus’s siblings, have expressed any ideology incompatible with the U.S. Constitution or American values.

Yet Huma Abedin, a self-proclaimed “proud Muslim,” slid through her security screening to a highly sensitive job at the State Department and is now a key adviser to the leading Democratic candidate for president. No such luck for Dr. Pincus, who just wanted to take care of the dental needs of some Navy personnel. If this isn’t an example of blatant discrimination against American Jews with family members living in Israel, then pray tell what is?

The State Department clown car makes things worse in the Middle East

October 16, 2015

The State Department clown car makes things worse in the Middle East, Power LineJohn Hinderaker, October 15, 2015

(Kirby: Israel has changed the status at Temple Mount. Whoops. I didn’t mean to suggest that. — DM)

This violence, while of great concern to Israelis, pales in comparison with the human catastrophes in Syria and elsewhere in the region. But as always, Israel and its tormentors occupy a disproportionate share of the world’s attention, including–unfortunately–that of the U.S. State Department.

Initially, John Kerry sparked outrage by suggesting that the Palestinian attacks were caused by Jews building homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem:

“There’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years,” Kerry said during a question-and-answer session, “and there’s an increase in the violence because there’s this frustration that’s growing.”

That makes perfect sense–the natural reaction to Jews moving into their ancestral homeland is to try to kill them, evidently.

Yesterday, State Department spokesman John Kirby made matters worse during his press briefing by maintaining an exquisite neutrality as between would-be murderers and their victims. The colloquy is too long to reproduce here, but it is helpful to read the whole thing to get a full understanding of the tone. I will reproduce some highlights, and comment on them:

QUESTION: Let’s start with the Middle East and some comments that Secretary Kerry made yesterday and also that the White House just made. … There’s been quite a bit of, I don’t know, uproar maybe is the right word about his comments about settlements contributing to – massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years being responsible for the current upsurge in violence. Recognizing that the settlement issue is one that is of serious concern to the Palestinians, is it the Administration’s view that settlement activity is, in fact, to blame for or is responsible for the current surge in attacks that we’re all seeing?

MR KIRBY: I think the Secretary was very consistent yesterday and has been over time in not trying to affix blame for the recent violence too particularly, and he was unequivocal yesterday, as you saw, in condemning the terrorist attacks against Israelis. What he has talked about is the challenges that are posed on both sides by this absence of progress towards a two-state solution. So – and he’s also highlighted our concern that current trends on the ground, including this violence, as well as ongoing settlement activity are imperiling the viability of eventually getting to a two-state solution.

QUESTION: So it is not, then, the Administration’s view that a massive increase in settlement activity in the last years is directly responsible?

MR KIRBY: I think the Secretary well understands that there’s a lot of nuance and context behind the violence that’s occurring recently. And as I said, he was careful not to affix blame in either direction on this in terms of past practices. What he did talk about – and you might have seen it if you saw him at Harvard last night – is that he understands there’s disenfranchisement, there’s disgruntlement, there is – there’s frustration on both sides that has led to this.

So, when dozens of murderous attacks are launched, it is important not to place blame on either the perpetrators or the victims.

n898961State Department spokesman John Kirby

Now and then, the fog does lift and the administration’s position is clear. That was true with regard to an incident in Dimona, where an Israeli stabbed several Arabs in retaliation against the many attacks that had been carried out against Jews:

QUESTION: All right, this will be very brief. I understand that you have decided now how to qualify the stabbing attack on the Palestinians in Dimona?

MR KIRBY: Yes, we’ve had a chance to look at that attack more deeply, and I think you’re going to ask me what – do we consider it an act of terrorism. And we do.

QUESTION: You do consider it an act of terrorism. Okay, so that would suggest then that you believe that this is – that both sides are, in fact, committing these —

MR KIRBY: Well, I would say certainly individuals on both sides of this divide are – have proven capable of and in our view guilty of acts of terror.

There are terrorists on both sides, so neutrality is appropriate.

Kirby also ventured the opinion that the Israelis have been guilty of using excessive force. It wasn’t clear what he had in mind here; shooting terrorists who were in the midst of stabbing Israelis, apparently:

QUESTION: [I]n response to Michael’s question, you said you’d seen reports of what many would consider to be excessive use of force. And I presume that you were talking about from the Israeli side. Is that correct?


QUESTION: You said what many would consider. So is the Administration among those who would consider what the Israeli actions have been to be excessive?

MR KIRBY: I think, again, without qualifying each and every one of them, we’ve certainly seen some reports of security activity that could indicate the potential excessive use of force. And again, we don’t want to see that anywhere. We don’t want to see that here in our own country. So yeah, we’re concerned about that.

QUESTION: So the – so you have raised this issue with Israelis? You’ve said that —

MR KIRBY: We – we’re always concerned about credible reports of excessive use of force against civilians [Ed.: I.e., terrorists armed with knives], and we routinely raise our concerns about that.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, that’s just a little bit different than what you said before. So you believe that these are credible reports of excessive use of force by the Israeli security forces on Palestinian citizens?

MR KIRBY: We’ve seen reports. We’re always concerned about those kinds of reports.

The Arabs have frequently used rumors of changes in the administration of Temple Mount as a pretext for violence, and apparently are doing so again. The Obama administration gave them aid and comfort:

QUESTION: All right. And then the visit to Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif by Israelis, is that – does the Administration consider that to be visits to there – does the Administration consider that to be incitement?

MR KIRBY: I’m not going to be able to characterize every single act with terminology. What the Secretary has said and stands by is that we want to see the status quo restored, the status quo arrangement there on Haram al-Sharif and the Temple Mount, and for both sides to take actions to de-escalate the tensions. …

QUESTION: Is it the Administration’s position that the status quo at the Temple Mount has been broken?

MR KIRBY: Well, certainly, the status quo has not been observed, which has led to a lot of the violence.

The topic was revisited later, and Kirby reinforced his point:

QUESTION: So I just have two extremely brief ones, so we can move on after that. You said in answer to my question on the status quo whether – at the Temple Mount whether it’s been broken or not, you said that it has not been observed and that is what has led to – I think. I’ll go back and look at the transcript, but I think you said it had not been – it was not – has not been observed and that is what has led to a great deal of the violence. That certainly sounds like you’re affixing some kind of blame to Israel if this is, in fact, what the Administration believes has led to the violence – the visits by – visit by Israelis to —

MR KIRBY: Well, it’s not about believing it, Matt. I mean, you just looked at what’s been happening in that – on Haram al-Sharif and the Temple Mount recently. I mean, just if we’re looking at this in acute – through an acute lens, I mean, the activity there, the status quo not being observed, has led to violence. There’s – that’s indisputable. That’s not a belief; that’s a fact.

It is not a fact, however, and shortly thereafter Kirby took to Twitter to recant:

Clarification from today’s briefing: I did not intend to suggest that status quo at Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif has been broken.

Emphasis added. The result of the State Department’s oafish diplomacy was to enrage our ally Israel:

Jerusalem reacted furiously Thursday to State Department spokesman John Kirby’s statement that Jerusalem was not maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and accused it of using disproportionate force to stop the wave of stabbing attacks.

“The comments by the US State Department spokesman are so crazy, deceitful and baseless, that I expect President [Barack] Obama and US Secretary of State [John] Kerry to distance themselves from them, and to clarify the US position today,” said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

John Kerry’s State Department is a clown show, and Kerry drives the clown car.