Israel provides invaluable intel and anti-terror support to Western countries fighting ISIS

 

Israel provided Germany specific intelligence on threats that led to a cancellation in a soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands last week, according to reports on Wednesday. The Times of Israel, based on a report from the German news site Stern, wrote that German authorities received “a specific intelligence warning” from Israel that led to the match’s cancellation. The day after the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Israel possesses intelligence; we aren’t a marginal player in this field, and the information we have we share with France and with other relevant countries, not just since yesterday…This is an important part of cooperation against the terrorism of IS and the terrorism of radical Islam in general.” He also told reporters that he directed the Israeli intelligence community to aid their French and European counterparts “in every way possible.” According to Israel’s Channel 2, in the hours after the attacks, Israel provided details to the French on some of the Islamic State terrorists who perpetrated the attacks, even though Israel “had no advanced warning” of the attacks.

Israel’s expertise in counter-terrorism has also proved invaluable to the fight against ISIS, in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks. As French authorities attempted to capture the mastermind behind the Paris attacks, a French special police unit, RAID, conducted a raid in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis that required almost 100 officers last Wednesday. The group’s commander Jean-Michel Fauvergue said that his officers used methods they learned from Israeli special forces.

 

The State Department acknowledged that the nuclear deal with Iran is not a binding agreement, but rather a set of “political commitments,” the National Review reported Wednesday. The admission was made in response to an inquiry from Rep. Mike Pompeo (R – Kan.).

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter.

Frifield wrote the letter in response to a letter Pompeo sent Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he observed that the deal the president had submitted to Congress was unsigned and wondered if the administration had given lawmakers the final agreement. Frifield’s response emphasizes that Congress did receive the final version of the deal. But by characterizing the JCPOA as a set of “political commitments” rather than a more formal agreement, it is sure to heighten congressional concerns that Iran might violate the deal’s terms.

“The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran’s understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose — and ramp up — our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments,” Frifield wrote to Pompeo.

Reacting to the State Department’s letter, Pompeo released a statement, saying, “unsigned, this agreement is nothing more than a press release and just about as enforceable.” Pompeo also called on Congress to “stand ready, willing, and unified in combating aggression by a regime who continues to view America as the ‘Great Satan’ and has been emboldened by this deal.”

The administration’s view of the nuclear agreement contrasts sharply with Iran’s. In a letter published this March, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif argued that the United Nations Security Council’s ratification of the deal would effectively bind the United States to its terms. “If the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law,” he wrote.

Notably, since the deal was signed, President Hassan Rouhani and other Iranian officials have conversely stated that Iran is not bound by U.N. Security Council resolutions. (via TheTower.org)

 

The Israeli Ministry of Economy recently inaugurated a new Osaka branch in a sign of strengthening economic relations between Israel and Japan. The office will serve as an executive branch of the Israeli trade mission in Tokyo for meetings and for creating opportunities with local companies in the Kansai region and western Japan, including Panasonic, Sharp, Omaron, Murata, Suntory, Kyocera and others. “Over the past year, there has been a noted increase in the interest of Japanese companies in Israel in a variety of fields, evidenced by the arrival of Japanese companies to Israel and their willingness to host Israeli companies in Japan,” said Amit Lang, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Economy. “Establishing a trade office in Osaka together with the backing the Israeli Ministry of Economy gives companies active in Japan bolsters their ability to break into the Japanese market and their chances of success.” Lang also headed a business delegation of Israeli automotive supply companies in Japan. Denso and Toyota hosted Israeli innovation days at their respective offices. Denso, the world’s leading manufacturer of car parts, paired representatives of Israeli companies with representatives from Denso’s purchasing, network and security departments and others. At Toyota, members of the Israeli delegation met with more than 50 representatives from the purchasing and R&D departments of the Japanese company. “This is the first time in which Toyota managers agreed to host such a delegation,” said Noa Asher, the Israeli Ministry of Economy’s Trade Representative in Japan. “This is a significant sign that Japanese automakers are beginning to see Israel as a source of technological innovation and that the solutions being developed in Israel will help Japanese companies win the hearts of car buyers.” According to the Foreign Trade Administration at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, trade between Israel and Japan reached $2.3 billion in 2014, with exports reaching $800 million and imports $1.5 billion. (via Israel21c)


Iranian hackers target administration officials, continuing Iran’s post-deal aggression

 

U.S. government officials and private security firms have described “a surge in sophisticated computer espionage by Iran, culminating in a series of cyberattacks against State Department officials over the past month,” The New York Times reported Tuesday. The Iranian hackers have used the social media accounts of government employees to gain access to the accounts of friends also working for the government. Facebook alerted the individuals in question that their accounts had been compromised by a state-sponsored hacker. “The Iranians have not been as destructive as they could be, but they are getting more aggressive in cyberespionage, which they know is less likely to prompt a response from the United States,” said James Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Researchers at Check Point, an Israeli cybersecurity company, said that the cyberattacks shrunk to zero in June and July of this year – the final months before the signing of the Iran deal – and then picked up again in August, after the deal was signed. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal also reported on the hacking phenomenon, emphasizing that the surge in activity coincided with the Iranian detention of Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American who called for better relations between the two countries.

In the months since the nuclear deal was reached, Iran has increased its anti-American activity by arresting two U.S. persons, convicting a U.S. citizen on false charges, imprisoning two other U.S. citizens, and holding anti-American rallies. Iran has also increased its number of international sanctions violations. It test-fired a guided ballistic missile, violated international travel bans, exports weapons to Syria and Yemen, and continues its support for terror abroad. Iran has doubled down on its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who, with the help from Iran and Hezbollah, has murdered tens of thousands and displaced millions through the use of barrel bombs, indiscriminate air raids, massacres, intentional starvation, and chemical weapons attacks. Immediately after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the U.S. was behind the attacks, and showed a doctored image of President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in conversation. Khamenei told the President of Nigeria on Monday that the U.S. created and supports ISIS.

 

The New England Patriots honored American terror victim Ezra Schwartz with a moment of silence before their Monday Night Football game against the Buffalo Bills yesterday. Schwartz was an 18-year-old student and lifelong Patriots fan from the Boston area who was killed by a Palestinian terrorist last week.“

Ladies and Gentlemen, in a month in which the NFL salutes the service of our brave men and women in our armed forces, we also pause to remember the many who have recently lost their lives in senseless terrorist attacks abroad,” said John Dolan, the Patriots’ public address announcer, during the nationwide broadcast. "Last Thursday this reality struck close to home when 18 year-old Ezra Schwartz, a native of Sharon, Massachusetts and a huge Patriots fan, was gunned down nearly 5,500 miles from home while studying abroad. At this time we would like to honor Ezra Schwartz and the hundreds of victims like him with a moment of silence.”

The tribute was first proposed by former Knesset member Dov Lipman, who wrote a letterto Patriots owner Robert Kraft asking the team to honor Schwartz. Several hours before the game it was announced that Kraft had agreed.

This isn’t the first that Kraft has honored an American victim of Palestinian terrorism. Last year, after American IDF soldier Max Steinberg was killed fighting against Hamas, Kraft sent a letter to Steinberg’s parents, writing, “I have taken the liberty of reaching out to you since I noticed him wearing a New England Patriots cap in one of the broadcasted photos. He represents the consummate patriot and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices he made to keep our beloved Israel safe.”

Schwartz was one of three people killed last week when a Palestinian with an Uzi submachine gun opened fire on cars in a traffic jam near Alon Shvut in the West Bank. He was delivering food to soldiers at the time of the attack. (via TheTower.org)

 

When 130 people were killed and 368 injured in a series of terror attacks in Paris earlier this month on November 13, 15 clinicians trained by Israeli experts fanned out to area hospitals to offer psychotrauma interventions as the victims were brought in. These French mental-health professionals from OSE, the largest Jewish welfare organization in Paris, were among a group of 80 who had been trained by members of the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) following the terror attack on a Paris kosher supermarket last January. ITC Director Talia Levanon tells ISRAEL21c that Israel’s unfortunate experience and expertise in the psychological effects of terror bring a critical perspective to foreign professionals more used to dealing with isolated incidents. As France is suffering such attacks on a more frequent basis, the ITC and Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are stepping up efforts to train clinicians there – even as a wave of terror in Israel is keeping the ITC very busy at home. “Like people in Israel, the French are getting ready for long-time duress, which requires a different approach,” explains Levanon. “In Israel, we know there is no safe place or time and I think now people in France understand this. They understand they are very vulnerable.” Following the supermarket attack, Levanon went to Paris to map out needs and create appropriate partnerships and programs to meet those needs. Using a $65,000 grant from the UJA Federation of New York, ITC then sent two trainers, Ruvie Rogel from the Community Stress Prevention Center and Tel Hai College Prof. Mooli Lahad, a specialist in drama therapy and bibliotherapy to treat psychotrauma. Now the ITC will bring France its community-based approach to healing, resilience and training, adapting it to local needs and culture in order to put effective preparedness and response mechanisms in place. (via Israel21c)


Teenage Palestinian girls carry out terror attack as violence in Israel continues

 

As incitement continues, two teenage Palestinian girls, aged 14 and 16, carried out a terror attack at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on Monday, using scissors to slash passersby. One of the injured victims was a 70-year old Palestinian man who the girls had mistaken for an Israeli. Just a few hours later, at a gas station in the West Bank near Modiin, a Palestinian terrorist killed an Israeli soldier and wounded two others in a separate stabbing attack. The Israeli who died of his wounds is the 22nd Israeli casualty of the latest wave of terror. Last Thursday, a Palestinian stabbed two Israelis to death in an office building in Tel Aviv, and another Palestinian terrorist killed an 18-year old American, an Israeli, and a Palestinian. A moment of silence will be observed in honor of the Massachusetts native, Ezra Schwartz, at the upcoming New England Patriots football game on Monday night. On Sunday, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed and killed a 21-year-old Israeli woman at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank. Also on Sunday, a 16-year old Palestinian girl attempting to stab Israeli civilians near the entrance to a military base was killed. The father of the teenager, who is reportedly involved in Islamic Jihad, boasted that he has “the honor to be the father of a martyr.” A large proportion of the terrorists in the latest wave of violence have been teenagers and even pre-teens.

Incitement to violence by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, as well as the spread of false rumors regarding Israeli intentions on the Temple Mount, have fueled the violence. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has failed to condemn the terror attacks of the last two months, and on Sunday appeared to excuse them, stating that the terror attacks are the “inevitable result of diminishing hopes, the continued strangulation, siege and pressure.” Last Friday, a senior Palestinian Authority official praised his two-year-old son for declaring his desire to kill “Zionists” in a children’s song. The official boasted that his son was “not yet three!” Last Monday, a speaker at a funeral of two Palestinians called on Allah to “Strike the Jews, count them and kill them to the last one, and don’t leave even one.” The ceremony was broadcast live on official Palestinian Authority TV.

 

A spokesman for the Iranian judiciary has announced that Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who was arrested by Iranian authorities in July 2014, was sentenced to prison, Reuters reported Sunday. No details were given regarding the length of his prison term.Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, confirmed that her client was charged with “espionage, collaboration with hostile governments, gathering classified information and spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” according to Iran’s semi-official PressTV news service.

Despite international outrage over Rezaian’s arrest and detention, Iran proceeded to convict the reporter in a closed-door trial last month. At the time, Javad Karimi-Qoddusi, an influential member of Iran’s parliament, claimed that Rezaian had conspired with the United States to topple the Iranian regime.

In May, before the P5+1 powers reached a nuclear deal with Iran, the Post warned that its reporter’s treatment at the hands of Iranian authorities suggested that businesses seeking to establish commercial ties with Iran put their employees at risk of arbitrary arrest. After the nuclear agreement was announced, the State Department warned that Americans visiting Iran were subject to detention and imprisonment on false charges.

Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman, and Nizar Zakka, a U.S. resident, were both arrested by Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in recent weeks.

Rezaian’s conviction is one of the ways Iran has continued flouting international law in the wake of the nuclear deal. Earlier this month, the arrests of five journalists prompted the United Nations to call on the Islamic Republic to stop harassing reporters. Benjamin Weinthal, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, observed that these escalating crackdowns indicated that, rather than moderating Iran, the nuclear deal has led to a “stiffening” of its attitudes towards the U.S. (via TheTower.org)

 

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice! The old joke became reality for the Maale Adumim Youth Symphony, a 49-member orchestra made up of talented teens residents of this Jerusalem suburb. The young musicians were invited to play an afternoon show on November 22 at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall. Under the baton of Benjamin Shapira, they rehearsed a program beginning with the American and Israeli national anthems and continuing with a global assortment of compositions by Mikhael Glinka (Russia), Jean Sibelius (Finland), Edvard Grieg (Norway), Johann Strauss (Austria), Antonin Dvorak (Czech Republic) and Arturo Marquez (Mexico). The four-year-old orchestra from Israel took third place in the Bratislava International Competition for Youth Symphonies last July, leading to the Carnegie Hall gig. The group includes violins, violas, cellos, flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, trumpets, French horns, trombones, a tuba, and various percussion instruments. At home, they practice and perform in the new George and Irina Schaeffer Cultural Center and music conservatory, dedicated on October 11 in a ceremony featuring congratulatory remarks from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev. (via Israel21c)

 


Putin to meet with Khamenei in Tehran in first trip to Iran in 8 years

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Monday, the Kremlin announced Friday. It will be Putin’s first visit to Iran since 2007. The trip will reportedly cover “issues in bilateral negotiations, including atomic energy, oil and gas and military-technical cooperation.” On November 9, the chief executive of Russia’s state-owned defense corporation Rostec announced that Moscow and Tehran had signed an agreement for the delivery to Iran of the S-300 missile defense system. According to The Times of Israel, analysts have suggested that the S-300 “could impede a potential Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.”

Russia and Iran have both been stalwart supporters of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Before Russia announced an intensified intervention in Syria in late September, Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, met with top Russian officials in Moscow to coordinate the two countries’ efforts in propping up Assad. A Russian military map displayed on Russian state television this past Tuesday seemed to indicate the presence of a Russian artillery unit in central Syria and on Friday there were reports of Russian bombing in Idlib and Hama provinces, which are strategically important to the Assad regime but devoid of an ISIS presence.

Earlier this week, Russia submitted a resolution to the United Nations Security Council suggesting that Assad be included in the anti-ISIS coalition, a suggestion that has been rejected by London and Washington. Secretary of State John Kerry has said unequivocally, “Assad has cut his own deal with Daesh. They sell oil. He buys oil. They are symbiotic, not real enemies in this. [ISIS headquarters] was never bombed by his bombs. It was children and women and hospitals and schools that were bombed by his bombs.”

 

Ezra Schwartz, a teenager from Sharon, Massachusetts, was identified as the American killed in a terror attack near Alon Shvut in the West Bank earlier today, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

Schwartz, 18, was one of three people killed Thursday near the settlement of Alon Shvut. He reportedly was studying for a year at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh.

 

He was a recent graduate of the Maimonides School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and had been a counselor at Camp Yavneh, a Jewish summer camp in Northwood, New Hampshire.

 

Schwartz is the second of five children, a family friend in Sharon told JTA. One of Schwartz’s favorite pastimes was skiing.

Schwartz was killed when an Arab armed with an Uzi submachine gun opened fire on cars stuck in a traffic jam. Schwartz had been delivering food to soldiers at the time of the attack. Two men, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, were also fatally shot, while five other American students were injured.

In total, five people were killed in two terror attacks on Thursday. In addition to the shooting, two Israelis were killed in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv. “We condemn these terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in the strongest possible terms,” said State Department spokesman Edward Vasquez.

Friends are leaving tributes to Schwartz on his Facebook page. (via TheTower.org)

 

While the Swedish band NoNoNo sang Fire without a FlameIsrael’s Candle Touch is proving you can light a flame without fire. The app-enabled Candle Touch is a real wax scented candle that can be controlled by any smart IOS or Android device loaded with the app. The user simply places a Candle Touch wax block – available in vanilla, lavender, melon, lemongrass, amber and patchouli scents – in the black or white clean-design case, and clicks on the app to light a real flame via Bluetooth. You can light any number of candles at once. The device is charged through a USB cable and each 10x11x10-centimeter candle gives 55 to 70 hours of burning time. Extinguish the flame instantly through a command, by setting a timer, by blowing air into the smartphone’s speaker or by leaving the 30-foot Bluetooth communication range. his 21st century candle is spill-proof and will not light if it is positioned on an incline. It will be sold in singles or in sets of three. The product, which is not yet on sale, was recently introduced at Web Summit 2015 in Dublin, in its showcase of international early startups. Candle Touch was chosen by the Irish Times as one of the five rising stars among 2,400 startups at the convention, CEO and cofounder Moshe Lev tells ISRAEL21c. “The crowd and journalists were very excited about our product,” says Lev. “Candles are one of the oldest inventions in history that hasn’t changed at all over the course of thousands of years… It’s time to integrate the authenticity of the candle with today’s world technological progress to get a new safe, easy to use and technologically advanced candle.” (via Israel21c)


Five killed, including one American in terror attacks across Israel

 

Three Israelis, one American, and one Palestinian were murdered by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday, in one of the worst days of violence in Israel in weeks. In the early afternoon, two Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian male in an office building in Tel Aviv. Two others were wounded. According to the Times of Israel, “The incident took place in the Panorama office building at an entrance to a room used for prayer services next to the parking lot as afternoon prayers were taking place.” The attack came only a day after the one-year anniversary of the terror attack at the synagogue in Har Nof that killed five and wounded many others. After Thursday’s attack, the Palestinian terror organization Hamas tweeted, “We welcome the heroic operation in Tel Aviv that killed two people. We call on the Palestinians to continue such activities.”

Two hours later, reports emerged of another terror attack unfolding in the West Bank near the Gush Etzion junction. A Palestinian terrorist, “armed with an Uzi submachine gun,” began to open fire on vehicles near Alon Shvut. In the terror attack, the 18-year-old American tourist and yeshiva student, Ezra Schwartz, was murdered, along with a 50-year-old Israeli man and a Palestinian bystander in the passenger seat of a car. Seven others were wounded in the attack. The Gush Etzion area has been the site of a number of attacks in the recent wave of terror in Israel that has been ongoing for the past two months.

The current wave of violence has been triggered by incitement from Palestinian leaders across society who spread lies that Israel seeks to change the status quo at the Temple Mount. The incitement has come from the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, as well as members of Abbas’s Fatah Party. In September, President Abbas declared, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem…With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.” The incitement has also come from religious leaders, Palestinian terror groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and organizations like the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement. The Northern Branch was outlawed on Tuesday by Israel primarily for its incitement to violence regarding the Temple Mount. The Israeli government’s statement on Tuesday also said that Hamas and the Northern Branch “are secretly and actively cooperating with one another.”

 

The latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program raises concerns about the U.N. watchdog’s ability to verify Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, according to an analysis (.pdf) published by the Institute for Science and International Security on Wednesday.

The institute reviewed the process by which the IAEA investigated suspicions of illicit nuclear research at the Parchin military complex, and concluded that it “raises troubling precedents for […] the verifiability of the long term nuclear deal.”

In mid-September, the IAEA remotely supervised sample taking by Iran at a particular building at the Parchin military site where Iran is alleged to have conducted high explosives tests relating to nuclear weapons. The IAEA was not physically present at the sample taking but directed the locations from which Iran took the samples in the building and viewed the process via video recording. It is unclear whether the videotaping was done in real-time, such as with a live feed to IAEA inspectors located elsewhere, or was accomplished by the Iranians and the digital files then given to the inspectors for analysis and review.

On September 20, Director General Amano and the Deputy Director General for Safeguards Tero Varjoranta visited the building of interest at the Parchin military site. Director General Amano had earlier announced and the report states again that the two IAEA officials saw “indications of recent renovation” and “there was no equipment in the building.” The IAEA states that the environmental samples taken at the site in the days prior and the “visual observations” made by the two officials are being assessed.

ISIS continues to assess that the manner in which environmental samples were taken at Parchin raises troubling precedents for both the IAEA’s investigation into Iran’s past work on nuclear weapons and the verifiability of the long term nuclear deal. This is due in large part to the sanitization efforts that ISIS, the IAEA, and U.S. and other governments have observed Iran conducting at the Parchin site since the IAEA’s first request for access in February 2012 (see Figure 13). ISIS remains concerned that non-physically present IAEA inspectors would not have been able to adequately determine where Iran may have carried out concealment or renovation activities at Parchin and adequately direct sample taking in those areas. The physical presence of trained, experienced inspectors, with the ability to investigate the building or site up-close, is critical to detecting the best places to sample, particularly in the case of a country that has a history of violating its safeguards obligations.

Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director-general of the IAEA, warned in August that the arrangement between the nuclear watchdog and Iran regarding sample taking at Parchin deviated “significantly from well-established and proven safeguards practices.” In a recent report (.pdf) prepared for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Heinonen reiterated, “The IAEA-Iran agreement regarding Parchin has deviated significantly from well-established safeguards practices, which involve the full physical presence of inspectors on location, the integrity of the samples they take themselves, and the ability of the IAEA to draw definitive conclusions with the requisite level of assurances.”

Iran is suspected of having tested detonators for nuclear bombs at Parchin. Understanding the extent of Iran’s research at the site and addressing its possible military dimensions (PMD) is essential to establishing the full scope of Tehran’s nuclear program and verifying its compliance with the nuclear deal.

“PMD-related transparency is seen as not just another issue – say, one that Iran could refuse to trade away by making concessions in other areas – but as a prerequisite to verifying Iranian compliance across all issues,” wrote Omri Ceren, The Israel Project’s managing director for press and strategy, while explaining the necessity of verifying the extent of Iran’s past nuclear work. The Israel Project publishes The Tower.

The IAEA report also revealed that Iran has increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. According to Reuters, “Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium had increased by 460.2 kg in the past three months to 8,305.6 kg, the report said. Under the deal with major powers, that stockpile must be slashed to no more than 300 kg.” An unnamed diplomat claimed that this was “a normal fluctuation.”

In an op-ed written for The Tower in September, non-proliferation expert Emily Landauexplained that the international community’s ability to ensure Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement will be significantly constrained, partially due to flaws in its verification regime.

A reasonable assessment of the deal must also incorporate insights into how Iran has been “playing the game” with international negotiators for over a decade, including the experience it gained in exploiting ambiguities and loopholes in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and abusing previous commitments that it made with the international community. An understanding of this history should have raised many red flags with regard to problematic aspects of the deal.

Any attempt to assess the long-term viability of the deal must be carried out with an eye to the political realities that will very likely constrain both the ability and the will of the P5+1 nations to act effectively and in a timely manner to ensure that Iran upholds its end of the deal. Statements issued by the U.S. administration, promising that any violation will be detected and taken care of “in time,” cannot simply be accepted at face value. This is anything but a foregone conclusion, due to problems with the verification regime itself—especially regarding the ability to effectively inspect suspicious military facilities—but also because of the lack of a clear path for confronting Iranian violations, coupled with an Iranian threat (embedded in the deal itself) to leave the deal in part or in whole if sanctions are reimposed. (via TheTower.org)

 

Dutch tissue engineer Mark Post made international news last year when he cooked up a beef burger made from lab-cultured cow muscle tissue. He claims that within a couple of decades, fairly priced cultured meat could satisfy the world’s growing demand for meat while eliminating the ethical and environmental problems of raising animals for food. The Modern Agriculture Foundation (MAF) in Ramat Gan, Israel, joined the quest to mass-produce cultured meat, launching the only such project to concentrate on chicken — the second most popular meat on the planet next to pork. Every day, 23 million chickens are killed for food in the United States alone. “We are a group of caring individuals who came to the conclusion that what the world needs urgently, in terms of helping both the environment and animals, is for everybody to go vegan ,” says MAF cofounder Shir Friedman, “but that’s not realistic. So when we heard about the idea of cultured meat, we realized this is a way to reduce harm to animals and the environment while giving people the meat they want to eat.” The all-volunteer nonprofit organization was founded in March last year, and by January launched the world’s first feasibility study to determine the cost, timetable and resources to create commercial cultured chicken breast. That privately funded study, headed by Prof. Amit Gefen at Tel Aviv University, is to be completed by January 2016. “We are targeting the development of a tissue-engineered chicken breast, which is a popular choice for a main course in many cultures and countries, to test feasibility of the concept and, in particular, to identify gaps in knowledge and challenges on the route to commercial production,” said Gefen, who hopes to develop a meat free of animal tissues or byproducts. (via Israel21c)


Iran and Syria blame US, France for Paris attacks

 

A video produced by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office and released on his website on Tuesday claims that the US is behind the recent Paris attacks because it founded and armed ISIS. On the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated Facebook page, the video is tied to an image of US President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi appearing to socialize with one another.

Despite numerous US and NATO airstrikes against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, Iranian officials have repeatedly claimed that the US and its allies support ISIS, and have placed the blame for the Paris attacks on the French themselves, as well as the US and Israel. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazzayeri stated, "The French people paid the price for their government's support for the ISIL and the Takfiri terrorism.” The hardline newspaper Kayhan’s front page headline was “ISIS’s rabid dog bites its master.” Commander of Iran's Basij Force Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi called ISIS “the infantry unit of the US and the usurper Zionist regime" and Army Commander Ataollah Salehi alleged, "The West is the culprit behind the spread of corruption and terrorism.”  Last June, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declared that Iran is the foremost state sponsor of terror. Iran arms and finances the terrorist groups Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad; and has invested a large amount of resources in shoring up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has conducted indiscriminate bombings against his own people. In February, the International Business Times noted that Assad has actually killed more Syrian civilians than ISIS.

Assad has also accused the French of being responsible for the attacks in Paris, asserting, “Wrong polices adopted by western states, particularly France, towards events in the region… are reasons behind the expansion of terrorism.”  However, Assad himself has been blamed for the spread of ISIS. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that Assad is “the principal reason – that ISIS exists. President Assad is a magnet for jihadists and foreign fighters from around the world.” Kerry also noted that Syria and ISIS have a “symbiotic relationship” in that Assad buys oil from ISIS and avoids targeting them.

 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly confirmed for the first time that he turned down a peace offer in 2008 that would have provided for an independent Palestinian state containing all of the Gaza Strip, much of the West Bank (with land swaps), and a tunnel connecting the two areas. 

Abbas made his comments in an interview on Israel’s Channel 10, which has been broadcasting a three-part series on the peace talks of 2000 and 2008. According to both Abbas and Ehud Olmert, Israel’s Prime Minister in 2008, Olmert presented Abbas in September of that year with a map that delineated the borders of the future State of Palestine. Abbas said that he “rejected it out of hand” because he claimed not to be an expert on maps, and because Olmert’s domestic scandals meant that he would shortly leave office (Olmert was later convicted of corruption). While both Olmert and other Palestinian leaders have previously said that Abbas turned down a peace proposal, this is the first time that the Palestinian Authority president has admitted as such.

At 24:05 of the video, Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker asked Abbas: “In the map that Olmert presented you, Israel would annex 6.3 percent [of the West Bank] and compensate the Palestinians with 5.8 percent [taken from pre-1967 Israel]. What did you propose in return?”

“I did not agree,” Abbas replied. “I rejected it out of hand.”

The existence of the peace offer was first reported by The Tower’s Avi Issacharoff in 2013, when Olmert told him that he presented Abbas with a map proposal during talks at the Prime Minister’s Residence. (To read the whole post, go to TheTower.org)

 

That Tel Aviv is a gourmet destination is celebrated the world over. Conde Nast Traveler has now bestowed a new gastronomic honor on the trend-setting city: world’s vegetarian food capital. The magazine article looks at the “herbivore smorgasbord” on offer and the myriad ethnic influences that keep menus at the city’s eateries so different from one another. “Spending a week going meatless in Tel Aviv isn’t just easy; it lets you sample the city’s best bites. As well, most of these no-meat, no-dairy restaurants are essentially kosher by default, appealing to the young, fresh-food-focused population of the coastal city,” reads the gleaming review of Tel Aviv’s culinary scene. Tel Aviv boasts pure vegetarian and vegan restaurants but even the dining spots with meat on the menu, offer plenty of non-meat options. “In a city where the salad is more likely to be a star entrée rather than a sidelined starter, the fourteen-ingredient tomato salad is, fittingly, Herbert Samuel’s signature dish,” reads the article. (via Israel21c)

 


Iran stands by Assad, demands he be allowed to run for president in any future Syrian election

 

Iran is demanding that Bashar al-Assad be allowed to run in any future presidential election in Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said on Sunday, “We emphasized unequivocally that only Assad himself can decide on his participation or non-participation in the elections and it is only the people of Syria who can say whether they will vote for him or not.” On Saturday, international powers including the United States, Russia, and Iran agreed to a framework under which a transition government in Syria would draft a new constitution and hold elections in 18 months. Assad’s specific fate was left unclear. Under Assad’s leadership, the Syrian regime, with the help of Iran and Hezbollah, has murdered tens of thousands and displaced millions through the use of barrel bombs, indiscriminate air raids, massacres, intentional starvation, and chemical weapons attacks.

The Obama administration has insisted that Assad must be removed from power. On October 2, President Barack Obama stated, “What started off as peaceful protests against Assad… evolved into a civil war because Assad met those protests with unimaginable brutality…[T]he only way to accomplish [an inclusive political transition] is for Mr. Assad to transition, because you cannot rehabilitate him in the eyes of Syrians.” Furthermore, the administration has argued that Assad’s removal is a prerequisite to successfully eradicating ISIS, which in turn is a prerequisite for stabilizing Syria. Last Thursday, speaking at the United States Institute of Peace, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that “neither peace nor the defeat of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIS] is possible with Assad in power.” Just two days later, Kerry expounded upon the relationship between Assad and ISIS: “Assad has cut his own deal with Daesh. They sell oil. He buys oil. They are symbiotic, not real enemies in this. And he has not, when he had a chance over four years, mounted his attacks against Daesh." In June of last year, the Secretary emphasized that “Assad is one of the principal reasons – the principal reason – that ISIS exists. President Assad is a magnet for jihadists and foreign fighters from around the world.”

 

Israel’s security cabinet declared the Hamas-affiliated northern branch of the Islamic Movement an illegal organization late Monday night, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The decision was approved by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Last month, an Israeli court upheld Salah’s conviction on charges of incitement to violence and sentenced him to eleven months in prison.

The government’s statement explained that the decision to outlaw Salah’s group was “a vital step in maintaining public security and preventing harm to human life.”

For years, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement has led a mendacious campaign of incitement under the heading ‘Al Aqsa is in danger’ that falsely accuses Israel of intending to harm the Al Aqsa Mosque and violate the status-quo. In this context, the northern branch has established a network of paid activists (Mourabitoun / Mourabitat) in order to initiate provocations on the Temple Mount. This activity has led to a significant increase in tension on the Temple Mount. A significant portion of recent terrorist attacks have been committed against the background of this incitement and propaganda.

Various Israeli security experts and Palestinian activists have attributed the recent wave of Palestinian violence to incitement, particularly over false charges that Israel is threatening the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The new ban on the northern branch of the Islamic Movement means that those who remain active in the organization are subject to arrest, with all of the group’s property subject to seizure.

The Times of Israel reported:

After the security cabinet declared the movement illegal in a meeting late Monday night, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed an edict banning any activity connected to the group.

Israeli security forces then carried out a series of overnight raids on the organization’s offices, seizing computers, documents and cash in regional branches across the country, the Israel Police and Shin Bet security agency said. Police also froze bank accounts linked to the organization and a number of NGOs working alongside it.

In total, 17 regional branches were ordered closed, including offices in Umm al-Fahm, Jaffa, Nazareth, Kfar Kana, Turan, Beersheba and Rahat.

The group was founded in the 1970’s as both a political and religious outreach group. In 1996, it split into northern and southern branches. The southern branch has typically been more moderate, with some of its members serving in the Knesset.

“The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement is endangering the security of the State of Israel and collaborating, according to intelligence we have collected, with Palestinian terror organizations, including Hamas, in order to inflame the current situation and encourage violence,” said Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who signed the order banning the Islamist group.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan emphasized that the move to outlaw the organization was part of a global effort to fight Islamic extremism. “The State of Israel must set an example and spearhead the fight against radical Islam, whose emissaries we saw slaughtering innocents in Paris, New York, Madrid and Israel,” he said. “The Islamic Movement, Hamas, the Islamic State and other [Islamist] organizations have a common ideological platform that is the cause for terrorist attacks around the world and the wave of terror in this country.”

French President Francois Hollande declared yesterday that France would seek to amend its constitution to give the state broader powers to fight terrorism.

In an article tracing the history of both the northern and southern branches of the Islamic Movement, to be published in the December 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Raffa Abu Tareef, a Druze researcher with 25 years of experience in the Israeli Defense Forces,wrote:

Perhaps the most problematic issue in regard to the relationship between the Movement and the Israeli state is its continuing relationship with Hamas. More than once, Movement activists have expressed pride in Hamas’ accomplishments, maintained connections with Hamas on the ground, and even intervened politically in Hamas’ relationship with the Palestinian authority.

 

At a time when the pragmatic faction chose to work as a mediator between Hamas and the PA, members of the radical faction took the side of Hamas against then-PA President Yasser Arafat’s policies. The radical wing, like Hamas, criticized the agreements the PA signed with Israel and accused the PA of appeasement. It published prominent Hamas figures in its journal, and held meetings with Hamas leaders outside of Israel. In the days of the first intifada, the Islamic Movement began a large-scale effort to send clothing, food, and money to the territories in general and Hamas in particular. The Movement aided orphans, wounded families, the needy, the hospitalized, and the handicapped. And as later become clear, many of those aided were Hamas members and their families. In July 1995, the Israeli police closed the offices of the Movement’s aid committee and confiscated documents and equipment. This was another expression of the process by which the religious revival in the Israeli Muslim community led to political radicalization.

In 2011, British Home Secretary Theresa May sought to deport Salah, who had entered Britain illegally, on grounds that his presence there was “not conducive to the public good.”

This past August, a congressional delegation that visited the Temple Mount, site of the al-Aqsa Mosque, witnessed members of the northern branch harassing a group of Jewish visitors. (via TheTower.org)

On November 14, the day of the Paris terror attack, Facebook Israel Country Manager Adi Soffer-Teeni and Director of Engineering Roi Tiger superimposed a French flag on their Facebook profile photos as did many other people. For these executives, the gesture of solidarity was mixed with a more personal connection: It was at the Tel Aviv headquarters of Facebook Israel that the current version of Facebook Safety Check was developed. In the wake of the Paris tragedy, some 4.1 million people checked in with friends and relatives using the Safety Check feature, and around 360 million people received automatic messages through it from friends in Paris who had marked themselves as “safe.” Facebook Japan introduced the forerunner of Safety Check, called Disaster Message Board, after the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Due to its popularity among users of the social-media site, the technology was then sent for full development to the Israeli R&D team. “It’s a positive project that makes us proud to come to work each day,” said Tiger at a press conference. “For us, the idea of taking technology and giving it a moral aspect is important. Facebook has become like a public square, used by over a billion people, so being able to leverage the platform to enable people to receive reassurance that their loved ones are safe is something we are very proud to be a part of.” (via Israel21c)


Kerry: Assad, ISIS relationship symbiotic, not real enemies

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend said that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has “cut his own deal” with ISIS and that the two are “symbiotic,” in response to Assad blaming France for the spread of the Islamic State. Secretary Kerry said in June 2014 that “President Assad is one of the principal reasons – the principal reason – that ISIS exists. President Assad is a magnet for jihadists and foreign fighters from around the world.” Secretary Kerry explained that the Assad regime and ISIS “have only rarely targeted one another…they even do business with each other, buying and selling oil.” He went on to say that “neither peace nor the defeat of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIS] is possible with Assad in power."

In response to the terror attacks carried out by the Islamic State in Paris on Friday, some analysts have suggested that the Europeans and Americans work with Iran, Syria, and Russia to defeat them. However, in an interview with journalist Armin Rosen in April, former Defense Department advisor in Iraq Michael Pregent explained that “Iran needs the threat of ISIS and Sunni jihadist groups to stay in Syria and Iraq in order to become further entrenched in Damascus and Baghdad.” Pregent also tweeted that “Iran has no intention of defeating ISIS in Iraq - Iran will use threat of ISIS to stay - an unstable Iraq is the goal.” Iran, the primary backer of the Assad regime, also seeks to protect its access to its Lebanese proxy group Hezbollah, as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson acknowledged to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October. At Iran’s command, Hezbollah has sent thousands of troops to fight in Syria, in order to prop up the regime. Iran spends approximately $6 billion per year on President Assad, and the Islamic Republic sends an estimated $200 million per year to Hezbollah.

Bassam Barabandi, a Syrian Foreign Ministry defector, writing about the Syrian strategy, explained: “The Assad regime and Iran have meticulously nurtured the rise of al-Qaeda, and then ISIS, in Syria…Now that ISIS has fully matured, the Assad regime and Iran offer themselves as partners to the United States."

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Israeli Foreign Ministry to lodge a complaint with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) over the reported failure of a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance to treat Jewish terror victims on Friday,Ha’aretz reported Sunday.

The Red Crescent ambulance reportedly passed by the Litman family after a Palestinian gunman ambushed their car near Hebron, but did not stop to offer assistance. Ya’akov Litman and his son Netanel were killed and two other members of the family were injured in the terror attack.

Netanyahu has directed Israel’s Foreign Ministry to file a protest with the International Committee of the Red Cross after accusing a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance of not stopping to help Jewish victims of a terror attack.

“If things are indeed as they seem to me today, the State of Israel will take appropriate steps against the Red Crescent,” Netanyahu said Saturday night in a phone conversation with Noa Litman, wife and mother of the two men slain late Friday afternoon.

Litman told Netanyahu during the call that the Red Crescent ambulance did not stop to assist the victims, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. In a recording of the call made to emergency services by Litman’s 16-year-old son, broadcast Friday night on Israeli television, it appears that the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance did not stop for the injured victims after realizing that they are Jewish.

While talking to the emergency dispatcher, Litman’s 16-year-old son said, “There are two wounded here, but we have the Red Crescent with us.” He then added, “The Red Crescent ambulance drove away from us, I don’t know why.”

The Red Crescent has denied the charges, claiming that the ambulance did stop and the crew had started treating the victims, but left after Israeli ambulances arrived on the scene. However, one of the Israeli ambulance drivers said that the Palestinian crew never left their vehicle.

The Times of Israel explained that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society is bound by the ICRC’s mission, which is based on the 1949 Geneva conventions and defines the ICRC as an “impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.”

Ha’aretz also reported that the suspect in Friday’s terror attack, Shadi Ahmed Mataua, has been arrested by Israeli authorities after his father and brother turned him in. According to the Shin Bet, Mataua is associated with the Iranian-backed terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Both the gun and the vehicle used in the attack were reportedly recovered. (via TheTower.org)

 

Oil spills are a fact of life, along with their negative environmental impacts. Large ships, ports, rigs and even cruise ships are always at risk of accidentally creating the next major oil catastrophe. HARBO Technologies is an Israeli company with an innovative cleanup product that could save companies billions of dollars and save our environment, too. The company has created a lightweight, easily deployed floating barrier – known as a containment boom — that can prevent disastrous consequences of marine oil spills within minutes of leak detection. “Oil spills today still turn into major disasters because there are no immediate containment systems onsite. There is nothing onsite to keep oil from spreading. So when the oil spill response team arrives on the scene, it’s always too late,” cofounder Haim Greenberg tells ISRAEL21c. “We have a disruptive concept of immediate response because there is none today.” Standard booms are too big to keep onboard major spill sources like large ships and oil rigs, and must be stored offshore. When an oil spill occurs, disaster crews need to make their way to the storage site, load the boom onto two ships, sail to the spill and deploy the barriers. This can take a day or more. And the damage that ensues in the meantime can be extensive. The 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion, took 87 days to contain. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil leaked into the waters. HARBO’s T-fence Immediate Booming System is 15 to 20 times lighter than regular containment booms and can be preinstalled onboard large ships and rigs. It includes a compact vessel the size of a lifeboat. “[We wanted it to be] very simple to operate and enable non-trained oil spill professionals to contain the spill in those first few hours when it is most critical,” Boaz Ur, HARBO’s cofounder and chief executive officer told the Ohmsett (New Jersey) Gazette. “In our product development work we found that this piece is critical, since professionals on ships, rigs or at oil terminals cannot be expected to operate complex emergency equipment. So we made it simple; push a button — just like a lifeboat.” In October 2014, HARBO tested its product at the Ohmsett facility, the only one of its kind where full-scale oil-spill response equipment testing, research, and training can be conducted in a marine environment. Other booms that arrive for testing usually come in shipping containers. HARBO’s 100-foot boom arrived in two suitcases and contained approximately two tons of oil with no losses. (via Israel21c)

 

Ever since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September 2000, a cluster of international human rights groups have established a standard template in response to Israeli claims about Palestinian violence directed against the citizens of the Jewish state. Whereas the Israelis place the accent on the eliminationist goals that underpin the violence—attacking Jews for the sole reason that they are Jews, with no legitimate claim to sovereignty in the land—much of the global human rights community has responded with scorn, arguing that the violence is the direct result of occupation and settlement building, that the Palestinians have the right to “resist” with all available means at their disposal, that poverty, lack of opportunity and the continuing denial of statehood are the primary causes of Palestinian anger, and that any Israeli use of force is by definition both lethal and disproportionate.

These themes have been continually emphasized during periods of crisis, from the three wars in Gaza over the last seven years to the present wave of stabbings that have targeted Israelis across the country. Organizations like Amnesty International have seized on these paroxysms of Palestinian violence to implore the governments around the world to do more to punish Israel.

At the same time, no human rights group wants to be regarded as simply parroting the claims of Palestinian officials, whether from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or the Hamas regime which still rules with an iron fist in Gaza. That’s why it helps to have partners who can be depicted as authentic representatives of Palestinian “civil society,” beholden only to their people, and therefore speaking with proud, uncompromised voices. That too many of these same voices engage in vile anti-Semitic rhetoric in their pleas for more stabbings against Israelis is an inconvenient truth which Palestine solidarity activists prefer to ignore. As far as they are concerned, Palestinian incitement—even when it extends to repeating the medieval “blood libel” against the Jews on social media or in mosque sermons—is a mere phantom. The occupation, by contrast, is held up as a brutal daily reality.

Which brings us to the small village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah in the West Bank. Nabi Saleh is a popular destination for international activists who want to experience Palestinian “resistance” up close. Clashes with the IDF are almost guaranteed during the weekly protests that have been held in the village for the past five years, and there are always professional photographers on hand who can be relied on to produce compelling images of Palestinian Davids challenging the Israeli Goliath. Some of the video footage shot during the protests has gone viral and resulted in global media coverage for the main organizers of the protests, Bassem Tamimi and his family.

Thanks to all this attention, the Tamimis have become the poster children of Palestinian civil society, promoted by Palestine solidarity activists abroad as exemplifying the grassroots, popular nature of the Palestinian struggle. Nothing better symbolized this status than the 2013 New York Times Magazine article about the Tamimis, written by a journalist who spent three weeks living in Bassem’s house. All of Bassem’s quotes in the article—”We see stones as our message,” he declared to Israelis, before chiding the Palestinian elite for its extravagant lifestyle (“I didn’t lose my sister and my cousin and part of my life for the sons of the ministers to drive expensive cars”)—reinforced the image of him as the figurehead of a classic struggle for civil rights.

While almost everyone in Nabi Saleh is a member of the Tamimi clan, Bassem’s photogenic family—particularly his teenage daughter Ahed—has always been at the center of the media attention that the Nabi Saleh protests have assiduously cultivated. In 2013, Ahed made global headlines when she was bestowed with Turkey’s Handala Award for Courage by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in recognition of her very public confrontation with Israeli security forces who had arrested her brother.

Bassem has long-served as the spokesman for Nabi Saleh’s supposedly non-violent protest movement. In an interview published in early May 2011 on the website The Electronic Intifada and promptly cross-posted at the website of the Hamas-affiliated al-Qassam Brigades, Bassem Tamimi outlined views he has since repeated many times. A quote from the interview—“our destiny is to resist”—has become something of a signature slogan for the Tamimis.

Bassem Tamimi had already expressed his hope in his Electronic Intifada interview that the regular protests in Nabi Saleh would provide “the basis for the third intifada.” Some two years later, a glowing tribute to the Tamimis featured as a New York Times Magazine cover story. In that piece, Tamimi declared: “If there is a third intifada … we want to be the ones who started it.” The hope that the almost weekly demonstrations at Nabi Saleh “could become something big”—“Like a third intifada”—has also beenexpressed by other members of the Tamimi family.

The image of the Tamimis presented in countless sympathetic media reports and vigorously promoted by their supporters is that they are courageous activists fighting for a just cause without resorting to violence. The organizers of Bassem Tamimi’s recent U.S. speaking tour describe him as “an internationally recognized Palestinian human rights activist from the West Bank farming village of Nabi Selah [sic], where weekly nonviolent demonstrations are held in opposition to illegal Israeli settlement construction and military occupation.”

Many of the organizations that sponsored Bassem’s cross-country tour during September and October are outspoken advocates of a boycott of Israel, among them Jewish Voice for Peace; Sabeel, a Palestinian-Christian organization that attacks Judaism with Islamist zeal; Students for Justice in Palestine; and the Middle East Children’s Alliance. The most prominent of all, and certainly the most recognizable, was that of Amnesty International.

To continue reading, click here for The Tower Magazine.


AP analysis: By allowing Iran substantial voice in Syria talks, US accepting Tehran’s increasing regional influence

 

Iran’s participation in the Syria talks and its role in determining which groups can participate in a transition government signals American acceptance of Iran’s increasing influence in the region, according to a report by Bradley Klapper and Matt Lee of the Associated Press on Thursday. Iran has invested heavily in ensuring the survival of the Assad regime, sending Hezbollah forces and around 1,500 Iranian troops, as well as arms and financial aid to assist the Assad regime, which has indiscriminately bombed its own people in a civil war that has killed at least 220,000 people.

Although the US has previously blocked Iran’s presence at negotiations on Syria’s future, a couple weeks ago the US accepted Iran’s participation. The administration has also softened its demands that Assad step down immediately. Despite the administration’s designation of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranians will be given a say in deciding who is and who is not a terrorist and thus which groups from the Syrian opposition can participate in a political transition. When pressed by Lee on who will have the decisive voice in the matter, State Department spokesman John Kirby stated, “[T]hose decisions will be made through a consensus approach.”

The administration has repeatedly vowed that despite the nuclear deal with Iran, it will redouble its efforts to push back on Iran’s destabilizing influence and support for terror in the region. However, according to Lee and Klapper, Iran’s newfound role in Syria is a sign that “Washington has accepted that Tehran can continue wielding influence over Syria, which it has relied on for decades to project power throughout the Middle East. That includes arming anti-Israel and anti-U.S. forces Hamas and Hezbollah.” A similar analysis in Reuters by Marco Vicenzino asserts that if a deal on Syria is reached, Iran’s “diplomatic standing would improve and its interests would be secured.” The Assad regime is Iran’s principal Arab ally and Iran uses Syria as a conduit through which it transfers arms to its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah. Several analysts such as Michael Doran, former senior director in the National Security Council, have argued that rather than block Iran’s influence, the administration’s policies appear to be part of a strategy to accommodate Tehran and thereby turn the regime into a regional partner.

 

College campuses across the country have been inundated with anti-Semitism from a new source: Yik Yak, a social media smartphone app that allows people to post anonymous messages. Yik Yak is localized — one must be within 1.5 miles of a particular Yik Yak “feed” in order to post on it. There is a specific Yik Yak feed for Stanford University, another one for Princeton University, and even one for Tel Aviv (Yik Yak is not limited to college students, although it is far more popular among them). Picture a college-only Twitter feed, but one in which everyone is anonymous.

Yik Yak was founded in 2013, and soon gained massive popularity on college campuses. The anonymity of the app encourages students to post their uncensored thoughts. Many “yaks” — as a message on Yik Yak is called — feature students worrying about classes, sharing their mental health struggles and seeking support, making jokes, or even seeking out sex. But there are also political posts. In a campus climate in which speaking one’s mind on complicated, tendentious issues can lead to social ostracization, many students appreciate the opportunity to freely share their opinions.

However, this has also led to problems. A number of schools, including Saint Louis University, Utica College in New York, and the College of Idaho, have banned Yik Yak on their campuses due to incidents of cyberbullying. Students have threatened violence on the app as well, such as promises of “Virginia Tech Part 2” (Towson University) or “shooting up the school” (Emory University). On Wednesday, two college students were arrested after using the app to threaten to shoot black students at the University of Missouri.

Yik Yak purports to be anonymous — but this is only true to a point, since the application keeps track of users’ phone numbers. Yik Yak handed the phone numbers of the men who threatened to murder black students over to the police.

Numerous anti-Semitic posts have also popped up on Yik Yak feeds at colleges across the country, but these instances have received little, if any, attention from the media, and certainly none from police. The trend does not seem to discriminate based on type of school: both San Diego State, a large public school, and Connecticut College, a small private liberal arts school, have been affected. (To read the rest of the post, go to TheTower.org)

 

Enlight Renewable Energy this week inaugurated the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar park ever to be built in Israel, a 55-MW solar farm located in Halutziot. The park was built by Enlight Renewable Energy Solutions, in cooperation with the Noy Infrastructure and Energy Investment Fund. According to a Globes article, investment in the project totals NIS 500 million. The solar farm boasts 180,000 panels and will provide power to 15,000 homes, according to Enlight’s website. “The Halutziot project is one of the business ventures that everyone profits from: the state increases its sources of energy, the public gets cleaner and cheaper electricity, the community where the project is located becomes a partner in the many benefits, such as employment and capital, and obviously the developers benefit from the development of a new industry,” Enlight CEO Gilad Yavetz told Globes. “Enlight is proud to take part in this revolution, but unfortunately, it is moving too slowly, and some are advocating slowing it down even more. I call on all the policy-makers in this matter to expedite the revolution, set high targets, as has been done in other developed countries, ease regulation, and allow this winning formula to multiply itself. Don’t look at the short term,” he said. (via Israel21c)

 


Report: IDF strikes Hezbollah targets in Syria; Israeli officials believe Hezbollah now has approx. 150,000 rockets

 

Israel reportedly conducted airstrikes overnight near Damascus on weapons belonging to Hezbollah, while Israeli officials have increased their estimates on the number of rockets the Lebanese terror group has stockpiled. News reports indicate that the Israeli strikes targeted either Hezbollah weapons silos near the Damascus airport or Iranian weapons shipments en route to Hezbollah. In April, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel would not allow Iran to arm Hezbollah with advanced weaponry. At a ceremony for Israel’s Independence Day, he told the audience that “Iran is continuing to try to arm Hezbollah, including during these current days, and it is aspiring to equip the Lebanese terrorist organization with advanced and precise weapons.” Iran supplies its proxy group Hezbollah with an estimated $200 million per year.

Times of Israel journalist Avi Issacharoff reported on Tuesday that Israeli officials believe that Hezbollah has increased its rocket cache to an estimated 150,000. Issacharoff wrote, “The estimates represent a 50 percent increase in the group’s weapons stockpiles since May, when a senior Israeli intelligence official put the number at 100,000.” The stockpile also includes long-range Iranian rockets capable of hitting cities throughout Israel.

After the nuclear deal was reached in July, many analysts and members of Congress raised concerns that the sanctions relief could further fuel Iran’s terrorism and regional aggression, including its hostility toward the State of Israel. The Islamic Republic has only increased its destructive influence throughout the Middle East since it agreed to the accord by committing thousands of troops to Syria, test-launching a precision-guided ballistic missile, and exporting weapons to Syria and Yemen. In addition, Iran’s anti-Israel rhetoric continues unabated. On September 11, 2015, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said, “There will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years.” And at the end of September, the commander of the Iranian army said, “We will annihilate Israel for sure.” Regarding how Iran would use the money from sanctions relief, Matthew Levitt, a terror finance expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Senate Banking Committee in August that Iran would “direct substantial funding to foreign adventures, proxies and allies in keeping with [Iran’s] longstanding track record.”

On November 9, the 77th anniversary of the Nazi “Kristallnacht” pogrom, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced on its Facebook page that it was participating in the Million Student March on the 12th to protest tuition increases at the City University of New York (CUNY). This is an important issue that should be debated on its merits.However, SJP is not interested in the merits. For SJP, the problem is “the Zionists.”SJP’s post, signed by SJP chapters throughout the CUNY system, declares that the “The [CUNY] Zionist administration invests in Israeli companies, companies that support the Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine, and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education. While CUNY aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists, SJP aims to change the university to fight for all peoples [sic] liberation.”The Million Student March itself does not take this line and clearly does not have anything to do with the SJP demand to purge “Zionists” from CUNY. Their tuition protest is a serious issue, worthy of public debate. The hijacking of their march by extremists cannot be in their interest, and the organizers should condemn and distance themselves from SJP hate-speech.

With over 150 chapters nationwide, SJP is the organization most directly responsible for creating a hostile environment for Jews on college campuses across the United States, as revealed in The Tower last year. It organizes numerous pro-BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions) events and campaigns, including the annual “Israel Apartheid Week.” SJP also conducts “guerilla activism” that increases tensions on campuses.

SJP is supported by a network of off-campus organizations. They include a who’s who of anti-Israel voices on the radical Left: Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the International Socialist Organization, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), American Muslims for Palestine, the WESPAC Foundation, Palestine Legal, and the National Lawyers Guild.

This network provides significant resources to SJP, from funding to legal support to training to co-sponsorship of on-campus events. There are also media and activism guidebooks, such as one produced by American Muslims for Palestine. AMP has also produced “campus activism resources” including fact-sheets, anti-normalizationmaterial, and PowerPoint presentations that parrot the Hamas narrative of the 2014 Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza. Hamas is recognized as a terror group by the U.S., EU, and other countries.

For its part, AFSC recommends that students wanting to “support peace in Israel/Palestine” can start an SJP chapter and organize a divestment campaign. ASFC and JVP have jointly contributed to the training of BDS activists through their “BDS Summer Institute,” billed as a “five day intensive program focused on building skills for divestment campaigns… co-led by student participants and BDS movement leaders.”

JVP, which has an “Academic Advisory Council Coordinator” on staff, has co-sponsored—with SJP—anti-Israel events on various campuses, such as a BDS panel at Vassar College last April and a “Nakba” workshop at the University of Chicago last May. Last semester, JVP and SJP co-sponsored a pledge calling on all candidates in UCLA’s student government elections to refrain from participating in paid trips to Israel. Once again, Israel was singled out for boycott and demonization.

How these and similar groups would explain away SJP’s faulting of CUNY’s supposed “Zionist administration” for tuition hikes should be an interesting exercise in Orwellian doublespeak.

Meanwhile, those who truly care about higher education must make sure that such calls are relegated to their deserved location on campus: the dumpster. (via TheTower.org)

 

For all of us who’ve experienced that sinking feeling as our phone battery edges toward the red zone when we’re nowhere near a working outlet, Israeli startup Mobeego has welcome news. On November 9, Mobeego announced a global launch of its disposable charger, which can power a smartphone or old mobile phone battery for up to four hours. The $2.50 disposable charging unit, playfully designed in the shape of a tiny energy-drink can, connects to the phone via a $5 miniature adapter (for both Android and iOS phones) that you’d buy once and keep on your key ring or in your wallet. Each adapter comes with one free charging unit. Mobeego says the charger is “designed as an inexpensive, simple, instant and environmentally friendly solution for continuous and worry-free use of smartphones, without the need to use a standard smartphone charger, pre-charge a charging unit, use a cable or find an available power outlet.” Ordinarily the words “disposable” and “environmentally friendly” do not go together, but Mobeego has designed its point-of-sale display with a slot into which used chargers can be deposited for recycling and reuse of some of the parts. A newer model will include a refundable deposit to assure a greater number of returns. So where can you buy these handy chargers? Mobeego is reportedly in advanced talks with potential franchisees in countries including the United States, Germany, France, Belgium, Russia, South Africa, Chile and Israel. The company plans to sell several hundred thousand charging units within the coming months and several million charging units during 2016. (via Israel21c)