Monday, April 10, 2017

From Ian:

Dexter Van Zile: The Myth of the Palestinian Mandela
I got a clear sense of just how far Palestinian elites are from following Mandela’s example during the first night of the 2014 Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in Bethlehem. More than 400 Christians from Europe and North America attended the event, which is held every two years at the Bethlehem Bible College. On the day the conference began, Amnesty International published a report saying the inhabitants of a Palestinian refugee camp in Yarmouk, Syria had “been brought to the brink of starvation, forced to forage for any food that they can find” as a result of a siege imposed by the Assad regime. Despite the differences I had with the organizers and speakers at the CATC event, I was glad that Palestinian leaders who addressed the crowd would get an opportunity to draw attention to the plight of their fellow Palestinians in Yarmouk.
But they said nothing, not one word about their compatriots starving to death less than 200 miles away. No responsible group of leaders truly interested in the welfare of the people it leads would miss an opportunity to draw attention to what was happening to Palestinians in Yarmouk, but that night they did. Organizers of the event spoke about the unfolding catastrophe the next day, after I drew attention to their failure about the issue. Mandela would have addressed the suffering in Yarmouk up front, not as an afterthought. By failing to ask for aid to their countrymen, Palestinian political and religious leaders chose to demonize Israel to the exclusion of pursuing the welfare of the people they lead.
This has been a problem for decades. Instead of following the example of Mandela, who demanded that his followers think seriously about their future and what they needed to do to prosper as a community, Palestinian elites promote a backward-looking revanchism that has condemned several generations of Palestinians to death and suffering. By making themselves opponents of Jewish efforts to flourish in their homeland, Palestinians throw away any hope of flourishing in a state of their own. That is the choice they have made.
Clearly, Mandela’s great accomplishment was to turn violence and hatred into the generous desire for peace and reconciliation. A Palestinian Mandela would have to do the same. He would have to show the willingness and the ability to get Palestinians to abandon their efforts to murder, demonize, insult, humiliate, and intimidate Israeli Jews into leaving their homeland or, barring that, submit to Arab and Islamic dominance over their lives. Thus far, the Palestinian leadership has shown an unwillingness, to say the least, to do so, and Barghouti is no exception.
It is time to stop using the image of Nelson Mandela as a club to beat Israel and start using it as a yardstick to measure Palestinian efforts for peace.
Daniel Pipes: The Israel-Palestinian Peace Process Has Been a Massive Charade
Daniel Polisar of Shalem College in Jerusalem shook the debate over Palestinian-Israeli relations in November 2015 with his essay, “What Do Palestinians Want?” In it, having studied 330 polls to “understand the perspective of everyday Palestinians” toward Israel, Israelis, Jews, and the utility of violence against them, he found that Palestinian attackers are “venerated” by their society—with all that that implies.
He’s done it again with “Do Palestinians Want a Two-State Solution?” This time, he pored over some 400 opinion polls of Palestinian views to find consistency among seemingly contradictory evidence on the topic of ways to resolve the conflict with Israel. From this confusing bulk, Polisar convincingly establishes that Palestinians collectively hold three related views of Israel: it has no historical or moral claim to exist, it is inherently rapacious and expansionist, and it is doomed to extinction. In combination, these attitudes explain and justify the widespread Palestinian demand for a state from “the river to the sea,” the grand Palestine of their maps that erases Israel.
With this analysis, Polisar has elegantly dissected the phenomenon that I call Palestinian rejectionism. That’s the policy first implemented by the monstrous mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, in 1921 and consistently followed over the next near-century. Rejectionism demands that Palestinians (and beyond them, Arabs and Muslims) repudiate every aspect of Zionism: deny Jewish ties to the land of Israel, fight Jewish ownership of that land, refuse to recognize Jewish political power, refuse to trade with Zionists, murder Zionists where possible, and ally with any foreign power, including Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, to eradicate Zionism.
The continuities are striking. All major Palestinian leaders—Amin al-Husseini, Ahmad al-Shukeiri, Yasir Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and Yahya Sinwar (the new leader of Hamas in Gaza)—have made eliminating the Zionist presence their only goal. Yes, for tactical reasons, they occasionally compromised, most notably in the Oslo Accords of 1993, but then they reversed these exceptions as soon as possible.
Would Palestine Fail?
This underlines the paradox inherent in the international community’s policy on this issue: The world calls for Israel to negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state, but according to its own data and statements, the PA lacks the foundations for viable statehood. The UN warns, “The full socio-economic development of the [occupied Palestinian territory] … will only take place when there is an end to the occupation.” But the urgent need for such development is precisely why ending the occupation would be so dangerous. Israel cannot expect a fragile Palestine to bear these risks by itself. Given its small size and proximity to Israel, any destabilizing fallout would inevitably spill over into Israel and provoke renewed conflict.
If the international community wants Palestinian statehood to be a success, it should focus on investing in the foundations for a viable state, while urging the parties not to take any steps incompatible with the two-state vision. If Israel is serious about Palestinian statehood as an ultimate goal, it needs to demonstrate how rapid development can be achieved without a military withdrawal. Israel is not a passive spectator, but a key actor in shaping what a Palestinian state would look like. And if the Palestinians face the painful conclusion that Israel cannot allow itself to withdraw in the short run, and be given meaningful guarantees that the hope of statehood is not extinguished, they can cooperate in building these foundations, instead of postponing difficult decisions like refugee resettlement to a later date.
A Palestinian state needs transparent institutions, functioning infrastructure, the rehabilitation of refugees, the disarmament of militias, a sustainable economy, and robust human rights. The assessment that a state without these fundamentals risks endangering international peace and security does not require a fortune teller—only a political scientist.



Col Kemp: Trump’s strike on Syria made the world safer. Now he must tackle the nuclear threat from Iran
Trump’s message was not just to Assad and Putin. It was also a warning to Iran, China and North Korea. Those Tomahawks will have reset their calculations on just how far they can now push the US.
America’s regional allies, especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan and Turkey have also received a signal. They became increasingly fearful as Obama demonstrated he was no longer willing to stand by them but instead was backing their enemy Iran. America’s newfound resolution has left them reassured and greatly relieved.
But the week’s events in Syria have cast the spotlight on another, even greater concern. The reason President Obama failed to respond to Assad’s Ghouta attack in 2013 was that he was terrified military action would anger Iran and jeopardise the nuclear deal he was obsessively pursuing. Complications with Congress and support from the UK were merely incidental to that.
Despite Obama’s certainty that his arrangement over Syrian chemical weapons would be honoured Assad inevitably reneged — as became horrifically clear on Tuesday. His despotic Iranian puppetmasters are just as certain to cheat on the nuclear agreement. President Trump must now deal with that before it’s too late.
‘They Burned Everything': Iran, Hezbollah, and War Crimes in Syria
On the night of April 6, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signaled a radical shift in America’s policy towards the six year-old Syrian civil war by ordering multiple airstrikes against the Al Shayrat airbase near the city of Homs. Two days earlier, the airfield had been used by Bashar al Assad’s regime to launch a horrifying chemical weapons strike against the town of Khan Sheikhnoun, in which more than 80 people were murdered and hundreds more severely wounded. Reportedly, the nerve agent used in that attack was sarin – giving the lie to former Secretary of State John Kerry’s confident assertion, on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ in July 2014: “With respect to Syria, we struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”
Whether Trump’s gambit will lead to the removal of Assad remains an open question. The stakes are certainly high, since the American airstrikes were not just a blow against Assad himself, but against his Russian and Iranian allies – the two outside powers that had secured, so went the conventional wisdom, his long-term survival through the brutal conquest of the northern city of Aleppo in December 2016. Five months on, the tyrant looks decidedly more insecure, now that he is in the sights of the world’s most powerful military.
The choice of Al Shayrat as the target for the Tomahawk missile strikes dramatically highlights the regional and global dimensions of the Syrian conflict. Russian military personnel are based there, as part of the extensive military aid which Moscow provides to Assad – they received advance warning from the Pentagon that the strikes were imminent. The base has also served officers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Assad’s principle backer, and the shock troops of Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese Shiite proxy. Geographically, the airbase lies in the portion of south-western Syria, extending into Lebanon, under the control of Hezbollah and the IRGC.
Rocket from Sinai hits greenhouse hours before Passover
A rocket fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula struck a greenhouse in southern Israel on Monday morning, the police said.
Though no one was struck by the rocket, a 50-year-old man who was nearby when it landed suffered an anxiety attack as a result of the attack, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.
The plastic sheeting that served as the roof the greenhouse was damaged, but the structure remained standing.
Just after 11:30 a.m., the incoming missile alarm known as a “Code Red” sounded in the Eshkol region, near Israel’s westernmost edge, at the border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
After a search of the area, police found the rocket in the community of Yuval, near the Egyptian border, in a greenhouse where tomatoes were being grown.
Islamic State in Sinai claims Passover-eve rocket attack on Israel
The Islamic State affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula took responsibility for firing a rocket into southern Israel earlier on Monday.
On its official Twitter account, the terror group said “the fighters of the Islamic State have bombed a Jewish settlement in southern Palestine with a Grad rocket.”
Just after 11:30 a.m. on Monday morning, the incoming missile alarm known as a “Code Red” sounded in the Negev’s Eshkol region, near Israel’s westernmost edge, at the border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
After a search of the area, police found the rocket in the community of Yuval, near the Egyptian border, in a greenhouse where tomatoes were being grown. The greenhouse was lightly damaged by the rocket.
A 50-year-old man who was nearby when it struck suffered an anxiety attack as a result of the attack, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.
Citing ‘concrete intel’ of terror threat, minister urges Israelis to bolt Sinai
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on Monday said a decision to shutter the main border crossing between Israel and Egypt, along with an urgent call for Israeli tourists to immediately return from vacations in Sinai, was based on sound information about an imminent terror attack by jihadists.
Earlier, in a highly unusual move, the Transportation Ministry shut down the Taba Crossing to Israelis trying to enter Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Israelis currently in the Sinai Peninsula will still be able to return from Egypt — and are being encouraged to do so immediately by the ministry.
Katz, who is also intelligence minister, told Israel Radio that the situation in the Sinai Peninsula was now “life-threatening” for Israelis.
The minister conceded that closing the crossing would ruin the Passover holiday plans for many Israelis who planned to travel to Sinai’s picturesque beaches during the week-long festival.
Some 10,000 Israelis, mostly from Arab towns, are believed to be vacationing in Sinai at the moment.
Arabs: Abu Ivanka (Trump) Is a Hero!
Arabs and Muslims have long lost faith in their leaders' ability to deal with the crises plaguing Arab and Islamic countries. The civil war in Syria, which has been raging for more than five years and which has claimed the lives of more than half a million people, is seen as a shining best example of Arab and Muslim leaders' incompetence and apathy.
Others are calling Trump "Lion of the Sunnis", "Caliph of the Muslims" and "Defender of the Islamic Holy Sites." Some wrote: "Blessed be the hands of Abu Ivanka al-Amiriki (Trump)," and expressed hope that he would do more to rid the Syrian people of their dictator. "We love you Trump" and "Trump is our hope" are two of many hashtags that have become extremely popular on social media, especially Twitter. Many of the writers are Syrians, Egyptians and Gulf citizens.
Many Arabs and Muslims perceive themselves to have been betrayed by the Obama administration. They felt, rightly, that the Obama administration turned its back on Washington's friends and allies in the Arab world in favor of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Report: Netanyahu Lobbying for Syrian Buffer Zone as Russia Reinforces Support for Assad
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly lobbying for the creation of a secure buffer zone between Israel, Jordan and Syria as part of any future resolution to end the six-year Syrian Civil War.
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Netanyahu addressed the issue in recent talks with US administration officials and other international actors, as a means of maintaining regional stability by keeping Iran’s forces and the Iranian-sponsored terror group Hezbollah at a safe distance from Israeli territory. The prime minister insisted on the creation of a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border, secured by forces other than those from the Jewish state, the report said.
In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Netanyahu similarly expressed his strong opposition to Iranian forces and terror proxies—many equipped with Russian-made heavy artillery—operating in Syria close to Israel’s northern border.
Netanyahu’s reported lobbying for the buffer zone comes after President Donald Trump’s surprise military strike on a Syrian airbase in response to the Bashar al-Assad regime’s purported chemical attack earlier this month, the latter killing at least 86 Syrians. Netanyahu expressed Israel’s full support for the US strike.
Israel weighs treating Syrian kids hurt in gas attack
The high-level security cabinet on Sunday agreed to weigh a proposal to bring Syrian children wounded in last week’s chemical weapons attack to Israel for treatment.
The proposal — which was put forth by Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz — received the support of all of the members of the security cabinet, with the exception of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, according to Hebrew-language media reports.
Liberman and the security establishment are said to oppose the move due to the difficulty of having to coordinate it with Turkey.
While Israel has helped thousands of wounded Syrians, its policy has been to only treat those who make it to the Golan Heights border. Reaching out to treat children from the Idlib-area attack would mark a shift.
Cabinet members agreed to examine the issue further and voiced support for the proposal, but stopped short of adopting any binding measures.
US Action Against Genocide: A Brief History
President Donald Trump’s missile strike against Syria inaugurates a new chapter in the long and controversial history of American responses –and sometimes non-responses — to mass murder around the world.
Although the killing of Syrian civilians by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime does not technically constitute genocide, which the United Nations defined in 1948 as the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such,” there is no doubt that Assad has committed heinous and large-scale war crimes.
Trump’s decision to order missile strikes on Syria was primarily motivated by humanitarian concerns over Assad’s latest chemical attack, although Trump also cited the danger to US interests posed by chemical weapons proliferation, and said that the strikes also intended to send a message to Iran and North Korea.
Here is a sampling of past US responses to genocide:
Haley: Assad a 'war criminal' protected by Russia, Iran
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has branded Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as "a war criminal,' who has been protected by Russia and Iran in the Security Council for far too long.
She told Fox News the Trump administration hopes Assad will be brought to justice for the overwhelming humanitarian crisis and continued carnage that has torn his nation apart.
She also blamed the Obama administration for not acting sooner to try and prevent the war.
"The previous administration needs to take responsibility for that, as well," she said. "First of all, Assad…he's a war criminal. He's used chemical weapons on his own people. He's not allowing aid to come in. He is very much a deterrence to peace. But then you look at the fact that the Security Council has to acknowledge when the chemical weapons -- we had proof that he used it three times on his own people. Why aren't we dealing with that?
"Then, you know, you have to look at the Iranian influence and the fact that we've got to get that out. Syria is in such sad shape, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you look back, so many things could have been done to prevent where we are today. And that's what we need to focus on now."
Elliott Abrams: The Strike on Syria Has Larger Implications
Throughout his campaign, and in his first months as president, Donald Trump repeatedly rejected the idea that America should continue to play a leading role on the world stage. The strike on Syria last week, writes Elliott Abrams, represents a welcome departure from such rhetoric:
[T]he strike at Syria had at its heart precisely that kind of global leadership, to enforce the century-old ban on chemical warfare in the interest of decency and peace. . . . This strike will save lives—in Syria, by preventing Assad from daring to use chemical weapons again, and in unknown future conflicts where the losing side will be tempted to employ chemical weapons, and will think twice and not do it. Donald Trump saved more lives in Syria by his action this week than Barack Obama did in all his years in office.. . .
Trump’s decision may [also] create an opportunity for negotiations over Syria. The talks have never been serious because one can never achieve at a conference table what one has failed to achieve on the battlefield. But the battlefield may look a bit different now; it may be worth a try. Trump is right in saying that there were earlier opportunities in Syria and that he inherited a mess, but perhaps some kind of real cease-fire or truce is attainable this year. He has certainly boosted the chances.
Obama Admin May Have Known Syria Still Had Chemical Weapons
The Obama administration may have known that it failed to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons well in advance of Tuesday’s deadly attack.
In the wake of the recent chemical weapons that killed innocent civilians, including women and children, observers immediately recalled former President Barack Obama’s 2013 deal, which allowed the president to back down from his red line on chemical weapons, and the administration’s comments in the aftermath.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry stated in 2014 that the Obama administration “got 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons out of Syria.” Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice commented in January that the president and his team were “able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”
At the time, fact-checking site Poltifact reported that the administration’s comments were “mostly true;” however, the site has since re-evaluated its assessment. “Either Syria never fulling complied with its 2013 promise to reveal all of its chemical weapons; or it did, but then converted otherwise non-lethal chemicals to military uses.”
Washington Post Gives Susan Rice Four Pinocchios for Claiming Syria Gave Up Chemical Weapons
The Washington Post's fact checker gave former national security adviser Susan Rice four Pinocchios for claiming that former President Barack Obama got Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to "voluntarily and verifiably" rid his country of chemical weapons.
In an interview with NPR in January, Rice said that Obama was able to get Syria to "voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile."
Assad has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians in his own country, including in a strike on April 4 that killed more than 80 Syrians.
After Assad used chemical weapons on civilians over three years ago, the Obama administration and Russia struck a deal in 2013 to remove Syria's chemical weapons. Critics of the deal said that it relied on Assad would never be honest about the contents of his arsenal.
Joel Pollak: Samantha Power Silent Since Trump Attacked Syria
Former UN Ambassador and National Security Council member Samantha Power has been silent on Twitter since President Donald Trump’s decision to attack a Syrian air base Thursday in response to Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack against civilians last Tuesday.
Power wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide, in which she criticized past U.S. presidents for inaction — then did nothing as the carnage unfolded in Syria on President Barack Obama’s watch.
Power’s inaction was legendary — first as chair of President Obama’s so-called “Atrocities Prevention Board,” then as UN Ambassador. Breitbart News was among the first to call for her resignation from the administration, in 2013; the Wall Street Journal followed in 2016, with a scathing editorial blasting her for being a bystander to genocide in Syria.
Since leaving office in January, Power has been a frequent critic of President Trump, his staff, and his foreign policy. On Wednesday, she called the story about former Obama administration official Susan Rice “unmasking” members of the opposition a “scam.” Last month, she gave credence to conspiracy theories about Russian efforts to help Trump win the 2016 election.
On Tuesday, Power specifically criticized President Trump on Syria, implying that he was indirectly responsible for the chemical weapons attack:
Mostly mum on chemical attack, Joint List remains divided on Assad
The six days since first reports of a deadly chemical attack on the Syrian province of Idlib have seen a range of responses from Israel’s political players, but most of them only differing in the level of outrage, the immediacy of their calls for action, and the passion of their support for US air strikes.
An exception, however, is the Joint (Arab) List. This 13-member amalgamation of convenience of four very different Arab-led factions has not condemned the gas attack, and members of one of its constituent factions, Hadash, have expressed some support for the regime of President Bashar Assad.
According to a Haaretz report Sunday, the Joint List had prepared a statement condemning the attack, but it was vetoed by the Hadash faction.
A spokesperson for the party told The Times of Israel on Sunday that party chair Ayman Odeh expressed the official line during a speech in the Knesset last week and no other statement was planned.
'Shame on you!' Syrian refugee SHUT DOWN by anti-war activists for supporting Trump strike
The enraged man accessed demonstrators trying to silence him as they protested against the President’s military action outside Downing Street.
President Trump ordered missile strikes against the Syrian government regime after its troops allegedly launched a chemical weapon attack on Tuesday, killing scores of innocent civilians, including more than 30 children.
Hassan Akkad claimed the anti-war demonstrators were his enemy, suggesting they were siding with controversial Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad after the American Middle East intervention.
He confronted them, claiming he was furious and appealed by the lack of “a single placard or slogan” condemning the dictator.
Footage from the attempted intervention by Mr Akkad was shared on social media and shows the Syrian’s criticism of President al-Assad being drowned out by crowds slamming President Trump.
Writing after the event, Mr Akkad said: “I’m so livid at how Stop the War tried their utmost to silence me with their megaphones.
“Not a single placard or slogan is condemning Assad. I asked them respectfully to say few words on the megaphone and they said no and tried their best to ignore my presence.
Police told NOT to travel in uniform to PC Keith Palmer’s funeral for ‘safety reasons'
More than 5,000 police officers from every force in the UK have turned out to pay their final respects to hero PC Keith Palmer, who was killed in the line of duty during the London terror attack in March.
The largest-ever gathering of British police officers will line the route to Southwark Cathedral, where the officer's funeral service is taking place.
Changing cubicles have been provided for officers who have been advised not to travel to the city wearing their uniforms for “personal safety reasons”.
The advisory has been issued by the Metropolitan Police Federation.
About 50 members of PC Keith Palmer’s family, including his wife, daughter, parents and siblings, will attend the service.
More than 50,000 members of the public are also expected to turn out to pay their respects to the murdered officer, who was stabbed to death outside Parliament during Khalid Masood’s murderous rampage across Westminster.
Stockholm Terrorist Is Refugee From Muslim-Majority Country Who Sought Asylum In ‘Tolerant’ Sweden
Sweden appears to be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Despite opening its arms to thousands of Muslim refugees, the generous northern European host country has fallen victim to terrorism. In fact, Swedish authorities have confirmed that the 39-year-old suspect behind Friday’s deadly terrorist attack in Stockholm was a failed asylum-seeker from the Muslim-majority country of Uzbekistan.
Police arrested the primary suspect late Friday after he stole a truck and mowed down dozens in a rampage that killed four people and injured at least 15 others. Another individual was arrested Sunday in connection to the attack, and four others have been detained by police for their alleged links to the incident.
The primary suspect behind the attack was reportedly ordered to leave Sweden after his request for a residency permit was rejected six months prior.
“Instead, he allegedly went underground, eluding authorities' attempts to track down and deport him until a hijacked beer truck raced down a pedestrian street and rammed into an upscale department store on Friday,” reports the Boston Herald. “The suspect, who has been detained on suspicion of terrorist offenses, was known known for having ‘been sympathetic to extremist organizations,’ Jonas Hysing of Sweden's national police said.”
Russian ‘Islamist’ asylum-seeker ID’d as Norway bomb suspect
A 17-year-old asylum-seeker from Russia was arrested Sunday in connection with an explosive device found near a busy subway station in Norway’s capital that police defused before it detonated, authorities said.
The youth was detained on suspicion of handling explosives, but investigators do not know if he planned to carry out an attack with the homemade device, Signe Aaling, chief prosecutor for Norway’s PST security service, said.
Aaling described the explosive as “a primitive improvised explosive device with limited damage potential.”
“PST is now working on finding his intentions and find out whether others are involved,” she said.
The youth was not identified, but security service head Benedicte Bjornland said Norwegian intelligence was aware of him. He is an asylum-seeker from Russia who arrived in Norway with his family in 2010, Bjornland said.
Egypt’s Palm Sunday massacre is an attack on Christianity
Today a spokesman for the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs tweeted that the Palm Sunday massacres were ‘another obnoxious but failed attempts against all Egyptians’. Really? It looks to me like an attack on Christians simply because they are Christians. It would be equally fatuous to claim that Boko Haram’s unrelenting slaughter of Christians is directed ‘against all Nigerians’.
These were, of course, attacks by ‘Islamists‘ – a word I’m beginning to put into inverted commas, not because I think most ordinary Muslims support such tactics but because there is no single strand of ‘Islamist’ ideology that can be neatly cordoned off from Islamic extremism.
The murderers of Christians in the Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Europe are divided by sectarian squabbles over Islamic hegemony. They disagree, too, about the degree of persecution to which local Christians should be subjected. But the impulse to wipe them from the face of the earth is growing stronger, and Muslim fanatics are delighted that the extinction of Christianity from its ancient heartlands is tantalisingly close to happening.
On The Spectator‘s Holy Smoke podcast last month, I spoke to the representative of the Chaldean Catholics driven from their towns on the Nineveh plain. He told me that these Christians, who have been left to rot in refugee camps by the United Nations and US aid agencies, felt betrayed not just by the West but also by their former Muslim neighbours, once their friends and now suddenly indifferent to their fate.
Why are those words haunting me today?
Analysis Egypt - No place for Coptic Christians
The bombings of two Egyptian churches by Islamic State on Palm Sunday emphasize the grim reality that nowhere in Egypt is safe if you are a Coptic Christian. The day is normally a festive one commemorating the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, according to the gospels, but instead it was turned into a bloodbath.
Hardly had Coptic Christians any time to absorb the devastating blow of a bombing at Saint George’s Church in Tanta, less than a hundred kilometers outside Cairo in the Nile Delta, when a suicide bomber’s explosion killed at least 25 at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, where Pope Tawadros had just attended Mass. The bombings spread terror and cast doubt over the ability of the government to secure Pope Francis during a planned visit to Egypt later this month.
The carnage is a major “success” for Islamic State, which has in recent months morphed its insurgency against security forces in Sinai into a campaign against Christians that reaches deep into the heartland of Egypt. Not only did ISIS kill more than 40 “infidels” on Sunday, it succeeded in challenging the very legitimacy of the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and raising the specter of Egypt descending into sectarian conflict and disarray like Syria and Iraq.
Egypt's Sisi says three-month state of emergency to be declared
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said a three-month state of emergency would be imposed after two deadly bombings hit Coptic churches on Sunday, killing at least 44 people.
"A series of steps will be taken, most importantly, the announcement of a state of emergency for three months after legal and constitution steps are taken," Sisi said in a speech aired on state television.
The Islamic State terror organization said it was responsible for the two Coptic church bombings on Palm Sunday, the group's news agency Amaq said.
"A group that belongs to Islamic State carried out the two attacks on the churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria," Amaq said.
Israel bars entry to the director of the Palestinian Federation of Chile
On Monday Israel denied entry to BDS activist Anuar Majluf, the executive director of the Palestinian Federation of Chile.
According to a Strategic Affairs Ministry statement, Majluf has called publicly to boycott Israel, and acted to sabotage the bilateral relations between Israel and Chile, mainly in the economic and trade fields.
"After a long and conclusive research that the ministry has conducted, it was determined that Majluf is one of the most prominent activists against Israel in Chile over the years," it was added in the statement.
It was stressed in the statement that this move comes in light to a policy that the Strategic Affairs Ministry has been practicing in past six months, along with the Interior Ministry.
Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) stressed that baring Majluf's entry was meant to prevent him to advance his agenda to boycott Israel.
Israel condemns Le Pen’s disclaimer of France’s role in the Holocaust
The Foreign Ministry on Monday condemned a statement by far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who said that France was not responsible for deporting its Jews during the Holocaust.
“This declaration is contrary to historical truth,” the Foreign Ministry said, adding that “French presidents have recognized the state’s responsibility for the fate of the Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
“This recognition is the basis for remembrance day events that mark the anniversary of the Jewish expulsion from France as well as the study of the Holocaust in its education system,” the Foreign Ministry said.
These are “important elements in the struggle against anti-Semitism, which unfortunately still raises its head today,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The French government has previously apologized for the role French authorities played in the round-up of 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track in 1942 at the behest of Nazi officers. The majority of those Jews would later meet their demise at Nazi death camps spread across Europe.
Elor Azariya released for Passover
Soldier Elor Azariya, sentenced to 18 months in prison for shooting a wounded terrorist, was released this morning for two days from the open imprisonment in which he is currently being held.
For the Passover holiday, Azariya was released to celebrate the Passover seder with his family members. They waited for him at the exit to the Nachshonim army base and took him to his family home in Ramle in central Israel.
Head of the IDF Manpower directorate Moti Almoz was asked yesterday in an interview with Arutz Sheva whether his statements and those of the Chief of Staff immediately after the incident in question in Hevron were not premature and didn’t pit the soldier by himself in a battle against the entire army system.
“Elor is our soldier, and we have no intention of putting him in a place resembling the interpretation of some people. I am aware of the power of the event. You need to remember that at 12 in the afternoon we received the facts, which didn’t change from then until today,” Almoz said.
Ex-MK Ghattas sentenced to 2 years in jail as court okays plea deal
Former Joint (Arab) List lawmaker Basel Ghattas will serve two years in prison, a court ruled Sunday, accepting a deal after he pleaded guilty to smuggling contraband to Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jail.
The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court accepted the plea bargain reached between state prosecutors and Ghattas, who was convicted of exploiting his position to sneak cellphones and notes to convicted Palestinian terrorists.
After accepting the deal, the court handed down a two-year prison term to Ghattas, as well as 18 months probation and a NIS 120,000 ($33,000) fine.
His sentence will begin on July 2, according to the court ruling.
The conviction was found to carry moral turpitude, meaning he will be barred from serving in the Knesset for seven years after completing his sentence.
WATCH: IDF raids weapons factory in West Bank ahead of Passover
IDF soldiers alongside members of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Border Police and local police carried out a large-scale operation overnight between Sunday and Monday in the West Bank, uncovering a weapons factory, arresting Palestinians and discovering a monument memorializing a terrorist.
During the operation, a weapons workshop was found and dismantled as well as five lathes that were used for the production of the weapons. In addition, weapons parts were seized.
According to the IDF, 43 weapons factories have been shut down and over 450 illegal weapons seized in 2016. Another 12 weapons factories and over 110 illegal weapons have been discovered and confiscated by security forces since January 2017 alone.
Israeli security forces, including the Shin Bet, Israeli Defense Forces and police, have increased their efforts to uncover unofficial workshops producing illegal weapons, carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank, shutting down weapons factories and confiscating arms, greatly reducing the number of illegal weapons that could end up in the hands of potential attackers.
IDF takes down memorial to Palestinian assailant in Hebron
IDF soldiers on Monday took down a stone memorial site for a Palestinian teenager who was killed while stabbing an Israeli border guard in Hebron in 2015, the army said.
On October 17, 2015, 16-year-old Bian Asila, from Hebron, attacked a female Border Police officer near the city’s Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Asila’s knife struck the border guard’s protective vest, causing light injury to her arm. The wounded officer quickly drew her service weapon and shot her attacker dead.
The military said the memorial in the West Bank city was taken down as part of its campaign against “incitement” in Palestinian society.
It was not immediately clear when the memorial stone was put up.
“Some inciting materials were also seized during the operation,” the army added without elaborating.
IDF to partially lift West Bank closure to let Palestinian Christians into Jerusalem for Easter
Israel will allow Christian Palestinians into Jerusalem for the Easter holiday next week, the army said, despite a general, week-long closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that began at 12 a.m. on Monday.
As it does for almost all major Jewish holidays, the IDF announced last week that it would be shutting down the crossings in the West Bank and Gaza for the duration of the Passover holiday.
The closure is expected to remain in place until 12 a.m. on April 17, subject to a security assessment, the army said.
Entering and exiting the West Bank and Gaza will be forbidden for Palestinians during that week, with the exception of “humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases,” according to an IDF statement.
According to the IDF, included in those “exceptional cases” will be Christian Palestinians who want to enter Jerusalem in order to celebrate Easter, which coincides with the final days of Passover, the army said.
Majority of locales will not participate in PA municipal elections
Municipal elections will not take place in the majority of the West Bank’s 391 locales on election day, a senior Palestinian official said on Sunday.
The upcoming municipal elections, which were delayed several months amid disputes between Hamas and Fatah, are slated to take place in the West Bank only on May 13.
“Most municipalities either nominated a single list or no list at all,” Palestinian Authority Deputy Local Governance Minister Muhammad Hassan Jabarin told The Jerusalem Post. “So elections will not take place in the majority of our municipalities on election day.”
The PA Central Elections Commission announced on Saturday evening that 179 locales submitted one list, 56 locales turned in no list at all, and four locales handed over lists which were disqualified.
MEMRI: In Gazan Version Of 'Snakes And Ladders' Board Game, Players Proceed Towards Jerusalem Using Tunnels, Rockets
A new board game for children called "Reaching Jerusalem" was recently launched in Gaza, created by a Gazan media producer who works at the Hamas Interior Ministry and aimed at "strengthening children's military culture and love of jihad." The game is a version of Snakes and Ladders in which the players' objective is to reach Jerusalem. The "ladders" that bring the players closer to the finish line are tunnels and Hamas-manufactured rockets, such as R160, M75 and S55 rockets, whereas the "snakes" that hinder their progress are IDF tanks and helicopters. The board is sprinkled with illustrations of Hamas fighters lying in wait for the enemy, attacking, and crawling through tunnels, as well as photos of cities inside Israel, such as Tiberias, Ashdod, Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Ramlah and Safed, where Palestinians lived before the founding of Israel and where many of them demand to return.
As mentioned, the game was created by a Gazan media producer, Muhammad Ramadan Al-Amriti, who works at the Hamas Interior Ministry. Al-Amriti, who is also the director of the Shams production company, has produced and directed several videos glorifying Hamas and its military activity. He said that the purpose of the game is to instill values of patriotism, courage and adherence to national principles, and strengthen the value of return among the children of Palestinian refugees.




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