Dershowitz: Impeaching Trump would put Congress above the law

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 07:13

Alan Dershowitz explains why it is unconstitutional for Congress to impeach Trump.

Iranians View Trump as ‘Tougher’ Than Obama, But Will it Push Them to More Extreme Actions?

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 06:39

With Iran threatening to resume uranium enrichment after its self-imposed July 7 deadline, and with the Trump administration focused on increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran, tensions are escalating in the Persian Gulf. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Tehran appears to be for the sole purpose of reducing tensions between the US and Iran and encouraging Iran’s leaders to engage in direct negotiations with the U.S.

“There is possibility of an accidental conflict and a military conflict should be prevented at all costs,” Abe said during a press conference in Tehran on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, has since imposed heavy sanctions on the Islamic Republic and now seeks to block all oil exports from Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif threatened the United States, saying, “Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it.”

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus dismissed the foreign minister’s comments. “We aren’t impressed,” she said at a press conference. “Iran faces a simple choice: It can either behave like a normal nation or watch its economy crumble.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said that the U.S. would face a “crushing response” if it was attacked.

But is this internecine posturing, or do the Iranians mean what they say? And what does this all mean for Israel?

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Eyal Zisser, a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University, told JNS that on the one hand, former President Barack Obama was perceived as weak by the Iranians. This became even more evident when in 2016, the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized two U.S. naval boats and their crews, humiliating them personally and embarrassing America as a whole.

On the other hand, Zisser said, “the Iranians are under pressure because of Trump, and therefore, due to their fear of him, they are more assertive.”

Zisser pointed out that Trump “is tougher than Obama,” and this “deters the Iranians and puts pressure on them.”

“At the same time,” he emphasized, “it pushes them to take more extreme actions, such as the attacks they launched against Saudi Arabia.”

In terms of how this plays out for the Jewish state, Zisser said Israel “tries its best to keep itself out of this American-Iranian conflict, but it is in its interest that Iran will be deterred and will be stopped.”

And while the hope, of course, is that Tehran will be stopped, some are warning that war could still erupt.

‘No one is interested in war’

Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East under Obama, warned that armed conflict could break out.

He explained in a Washington Post article that: “As tensions mount between the United States and Iran, American and Iranian leaders publicly insist they want to avoid war.” However, he warned, “history is littered with accidents, misperceptions, miscalculations, hidden bureaucratic agendas and other factors that produced armed conflicts nobody seemed to want.”

Israel is intent on stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions and has made this clear for years. Whether Iran takes Israeli threats seriously must be assumed, though isn’t always clear from Iranian actions on the ground in Syria and elsewhere. In 2012, speaking during a meeting with then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that in spite of American and Israeli declarations that all options were on the table, the Iranians appear to remain unconvinced that Israel was serious about stopping them.

This, according to Netanyahu, must change.

Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told JNS that Trump is “trying to intimidate Iran to come to the negotiating table.”

“Iran is playing a brinkmanship game signaling that they are ready to escalate in order to get money from the Europeans and to soften the Americans in case they decide to start negotiations,” said Inbar.

He added that he wasn’t sure the Iranians are reading U.S. leadership well, and that they might be miscalculating.

“Trump does not want a war,” he said, suggesting that this could be because he wants to be re-elected. “It seems we are in the pre-negotiations stage.”

According to Zisser, “No one is interested in war. I think the Iranians will not cross a red line, but when you play with fire, you never know.”

Netanyahu Reveals Israel Is Carrying Out Preemptive Strikes Against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 06:31

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged on Wednesday that the Jewish state was carrying out preemptive attacks against enemy targets, such as Iran and Hezbollah, in Syria.

“The chain of tests that we are dealing with is unending. We respond vigorously and with force to all attacks against us; however, we do not take action only after the fact. We deny the enemy’s capabilities before the fact. We are acting methodically and consistently to prevent our enemies from establishing offensive bases against us in our vicinity,” Netanyahu said at a state memorial service for former Israeli President Ephraim Katz.

The revelation by Netanyahu came just hours after Syrian state media reported that Israel fired several missiles at targets in Syria near the Golan Heights.

Syria’s SANA news outlet reported that the strike targeted sites around Tel al-Harra, an area that Hezbollah has purportedly been active in. Hezbollah had previously called the site of “great strategic importance” due to its visibility of the surrounding area.

Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to prevent Iran and Hezbollah from establishing a permanent presence in civil war-torn Syria and has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in the country over the last few years.

Israeli Test Can Prevent Parents From Blaming Themselves for a Miscarriage

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 06:12

Losing a fetus in a sudden miscarriage is always devastating to parents. Even without any known cause of the tragedy, they often blame themselves because they think the loss was due to something they did wrong. About a third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, often without the woman being aware of it.

There are numerous possible triggers to a miscarriage, including the single-most-common cause – abnormal chromosomes in the fetus, as the egg or sperm’s chromosomes created an error during embryo formation. In such a case, the miscarriage is almost always a blessing. More than half of miscarriages in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy occur because of a problem with the fetus’s chromosomes. As one gets older (the father as well as the mother), especially after age 35, the risk for chromosome problems specifically, and miscarriage in general, increases.

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Although doctors advise couples interesting in a pregnancy to optimize their health before conception – such as having normal weight, taking prenatal vitamins such as folic acid pills, visiting an obstetrician, making sure they have received all necessary vaccinations, stopping smoking and drugs and minimizing alcohol consumption – there are only a few causes of miscarriage that are completely preventable.

In many cases, particularly with early miscarriages, it can be difficult to determine exactly what went wrong. But according to experts, it’s amazing how often it actually goes right. When you think about a pregnancy and the beginnings of a human being forming and all the things that have to go perfectly, it really and truly is a miracle when it happens. There are two sets of genetic material fusing together that have to divide, and sometimes things go wrong. The simplest way to think about it is that miscarriage is sort of nature’s way of making sure that a human being is compatible with life.

Less common, but still significant occurrences of miscarriage can be caused by physical problems in the mother, such as uterine abnormalities fibroids, an infection such as cytomegalovirus or German measles; an abnormally shaped uterus or a cervix that opens and widens too early, clotting disorders; immunological disorders; diabetes; and thyroid problems.

After a miscarriage, the woman is likely to undergo a dilation and curettage (D&C) to make sure that nothing remains in the uterus. D&C is carried out in about 10 or 15 minutes to remove tissue from the uterus or small pieces of the placenta. This helps prevent infection or heavy bleeding. It can also help diagnose or treat growths such as fibroids, polyps, hormonal imbalances or uterine cancer. A sample of uterine tissue is viewed under a microscope to check for abnormal cells.

But now, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera north of Tel Aviv has become the first hospital in Israel to offer a test to determine the cause of miscarriage. Dr. Sagi (Sergio) Haimovich, head of the hospital’s ambulatory and hysterectomy service, performs a special experimental test. “The examination helps identify the cause of the abortion, thus helping to deal with the unfortunate event, as well as preventing possible future abortions,” he said.

Dr. Haimovich doing the test (Courtesy)

“When a fetus miscarries, it is usually during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. In most cases, the mother hasn’t a clue about the cause. I often hear the woman thinking out loud: ‘What have I done wrong?’ And my heart goes out to them. The examination we are conducting is now done exclusively in Hillel Yaffe, as part of the Helsinki Committee on Medical Experimentation.

It is performed just before the D&C and therefore does not create further discomfort for the woman. It can create a “small revolution,” in terms of doctors – who receive more correct tools and perform the procedure in a more focused way. It provides an answer that gives the parents comfort and also the hope that the next pregnancy will be different.”

The doctors scan the uterus by means of a hysteroscopy, examine the fetus, see the uterine cavity and collect findings that allow them to find out what was wrong with the fetus, explained Haimovich, who initiated the test.

One case was that of a woman who came to perform D&C at 10 weeks due to lack of a fetal pulse. In the hysteroscopy performed prior to the D&C, the fetus was found to have a clear physical defect in his head. A biopsy and genetic mapping were performed to determine the cause.

“The genetic mapping was normal, so the main directive for this woman was to systematically take necessary supplements such as folic acid, which studies have shown to help prevent fetal abnormalities. “It’s true that the guidance for women who want to become pregnant is to take a folic acid supplement,” Haimovich noted, “but what is important here is that the woman also received an answer that if she takes folic acid before her next pregnancy, she is unlikely to miscarry again.”

The research data on the test were presented at an international conference on hysteroscopy held in Barcelona in May of this year. “Our research results were very well received,” concluded Haimovch. “We have created a tool providing a clinical answer that helps later, especially emotionally, easing the parents’ fears and anxieties in the future.”  

Did the US Ambassador Misspeak or Was He Hinting at a Trump Plan for Israel to Annex Judea and Samaria?

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 05:58

Though there are currently almost half-a-million Jews living in Judea and Samaria (excluding Jerusalem), Israel has never annexed the areas. It was therefore quite surprising when just days before the general election in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the right-wing parties that he would annex Judea and Samaria.

“I’m going to extend sovereignty,” he announced an interview with Israeli Channel 12, adding that “I don’t differentiate between the settlement blocs and isolated settlements.”

US Ambassador David Friedman waits to say the priestly blessing along with hundreds of other Kohanim. (Credit: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)

Even more surprising than the politically motivated promise by Netanyahu was a statement by U.S. Ambassador David Friedman. In an interview about the yet-to-be-revealed Trump peace plan published last Saturday, Friedman said, “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

“Certainly Israel’s entitled to retain some portion of it,” he added, criticizing the Obama administration’s approach to negotiation.

This statement was controversial, to say the least. The Palestinian Authority – which in the past has called Ambassador Friedman the “son of a dog” – went on the attack, saying “the remarks of the settler Friedman expose the truth about him and his ideas, as well as those of his settler peers. We are studying whether his racist rhetoric is sufficient to file a complaint against him with the International Criminal Court for trying to impose his racist visions…”

While not denying or criticizing its ambassador, the U.S. State distanced itself from the subject of annexation. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters at a press conference on Monday that “the administration’s position on the settlements has not changed. Our policy on the West Bank has not changed.”

The identity of Judea and Samaria as part of Biblical Israel is clear but the ambiguity and uncertainty of the region are based in its turbulent role in modern Israeli history. In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel’s miraculous victory against overwhelming Arab armies resulted in Israel taking control of large swaths of territory included in God’s promise to Abraham as described in the Bible. The United Nations Security Council responded with resolution 242 calling for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The areas of Judea and Samaria, occupied and annexed by Jordan after the war in 1947 in contravention of international law, were put under the supervision of the Israeli military governate. The UN and its associated organizations refer to the area as “occupied territory”, though the Israeli government considers it to be disputed territory. In 1948, Jordan abandoned its claim to the West Bank as part of the peace treaty signed with Israel the previous year. Israel has controlled the region for over 50 years and the only opposing claim comes from the Palestinian Authority, a political entity with no historical precedent for independence and with an ambiguous claim to historicity in the region.

Dave Rubin (Photo courtesy)

The State Department’s statement seems especially cryptic since they did, in fact, change their policy last March when for the first time, its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices did not refer to Judea and Samaria as “occupied territories.”

David Rubin, as former Mayor of Shiloh Israel and the author of the new book, “Trump and the Jews”, has a unique insight that makes sense of the many contradictory elements.

“In light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement before the elections and the State departments semi-refutation, it seems more than possible, far more likely than the possibility that Friedman, who has a strong relationship with the president, made rogue statements., Rubin said. “The same can be said, albeit to a slightly lesser degree, of Netanyahu’s sudden openness to annexation.”

Rubin has been predicting that the Trump Deal will be an important step towards Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria.

“Due to Israel’s repeat election campaign, the peace plan has been temporarily postponed but the public leak in a high-profile NYT interview with the Israeli ambassador keeps the plan alive and relevant,” Rubin explained. “It was stated for campaign consumption, but it was intended for an important right-wing segment of his voter base, so it can’t be discounted. In addition, he wouldn’t say it unless he knew that there is some understanding for such a policy in the White House.”

Even with its political expedience, Freidman’s announcement led to accusations of racism.

“Of course he is not racist and the statement did not refer to any race,” Rubin said. “Rather than addressing the historical question of whose country this is, it’s easier for them to call the US ambassador silly names that make no logical sense.”

“Based on the historical claims, Israel should retain ALL the West Bank, which should be called by its correct historical names – Judea, which is the region south of Jerusalem, and Samaria, which is the region north of Jerusalem,” Rubin said. He explained that much of the criticism comes from the belief that the Israeli claim to Judea and Samaria precludes a two-state solution, perceived as the only possible path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians

“Yes, the Israeli claim to Judea and Samaria does preclude the two-state solution as it is envisioned,” Rubin said. “But when we move past that, we can start talking about more realistic peace plans, like the one that I have proposed, which calls for Israeli sovereignty combined with a path to loyal citizenship for the non-citizen residents of Judea and Samaria.”

More insights into the developing relations between the U.S. and Israel can be found in David Rubin’s new book, “Trump and the Jews”. Rubin is the founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, established after he and his then three-year-old son were wounded in a terror attack. He can be found at www.DavidRubinIsrael.com  or at www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org

 

Attack on ships in Gulf of Oman occurred near Iran's Jask navy base

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 05:36

The base gave Iran an easy way to threaten the Straits of Hormuz and potentially cut off a fifth of the world’s oil supply.

Gulf of Oman incident and Iran’s dangerous game - analysis

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 05:35

Four tankers off the UAE port of Fujairah had been struck on May 12, a month before the incident on June 13. The most recent incident is much more serious. The US navy has been sent to assist.

I SAMUEL 25:28

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 04:12

Metzudat David explains that the prophetess Avigail is warning David that he should kill only if necessary as part of Hashem’s wars against enemies such as the Philistines, but not in order to exact revenge. This is one of the foundations of Jewish military ethics: The people of Israel are required to fight wars only to defend themselves and to strengthen the Promised Land. The State of Israel follows this biblical mandate, as can be seen even in the name given to the Israeli army: The Israel Defense Forces, or in Hebrew, Tz’va HaHaganah L’Yisrael (צבא ההגנה לישראל).

Ayatollah Khamenei meets Japan PM amid US tensions

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 04:11

“Japan seeks to play a maximum role to prevent tensions.”

US, Argentina hold workshop on countering Hezbollah terror

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 03:50

Workshop held month before 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombings.

Pakistani Watchdog Agency tackles political corruption

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 03:36

A senior Intelligence official told The Media Line that in 2018 the authorities discovered scores of fake bank accounts in the name of poor people in which billions of rupees were being transacted.

Is Increased Hostility on Gaza Border a Prelude to Another Major Conflict?

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 03:18

A rocket fired at Israel and increased incendiary balloon attacks are leading to tough Israeli measures, a cycle that has, in the past, led to war.

Just after midnight on Thursday, the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza towards southern Israel. Red alert air raid sirens went off, giving advance warning of the rocket attack. Israeli air-force jets responded by attacking military targets in the al-Rayyan neighborhood east of Rafah and another on in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

A rocket was launched from Gaza at Israeli civilians last night. It did not reach its target, as it was intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System. We responded to the attack by striking an underground terror infrastructure in a Hamas compound in Gaza.

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) June 13, 2019

A spokesman for the Israeli fire service said incendiary balloons from Gaza caused seven fires on Tuesday. One of the attacks was carried out by means of an explosive device carried into Israel by a ballon. The bomb exploded over an Israeli town but no injuries or damage was reported.

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The Israeli military announced on Wednesday that it would be shutting down all Gazan maritime activities in response to increased terrorist attacks of incendiary aerial devices launched from Gaza.

“Due to the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, it has been decided tonight not to allow access to Gaza’s maritime space until further notice,” a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a unit of Israel’s defence ministry, said in a statement.

This comes after the IDF reduced the extent of the fishing zone to six nautical miles offshore from 10 nautical miles on Tuesday.

“We are worried about the increase in the arson terror and about the damage it’s causing to our nature and our agriculture,” Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni said in a statement. “This is the second year that we’re hearing that ‘this terror must stop,’ but meanwhile it continues. It is becoming a regular part of our lives,” he concluded.

This is the first rocket fired at Israel since the beginning of May when Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired approximately 700 rockets at Israeli cities, killing four civilians and injuring close to 80. That spurt of hostilities resulted in an unofficial Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in which Hamas agreed to stop the violent riots along the border fence and maintain a 300-meter buffer between protesters and the fence. Hamas also agreed to put an end to the launching of incendiary and explosive balloons towards Israeli communities.

Also on Wednesday, an unexploded rocket that had landed at some earlier date exploded in a cemetery in a town outside Ashdod. There were no reports of injuries.

Incident in Gulf of Oman, ‘explosions’ affect two oil tankers - report

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 02:33

It comes a month after an attack on four oil tankers off the UAE in the Gulf of Oman.

Britain’s Back-Door Blasphemy Law

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 02:00

The long-running dispute revolves — most recently — around an effort by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, a cross-party formation of around two-dozen MPs in the British Parliament, to institutionalize the definition of Islamophobia in racial rather than religious terms.

The proposed definition has been opposed by many Britons, including British Muslims, who warn that it would effectively shield Islam from scrutiny and valid criticism.

“We have here a clash between two very different ways of viewing a society: broadly individualism and collectivism…. In a collectivist society the aim is for the rulers to determine how individuals should behave … those in power lay down a detailed code and threaten punishment for non-compliance. And they do not welcome criticism as a device for mutual learning and holding power to account.” — David Green, The Spectator.

“We are concerned that allegations of Islamophobia will be, indeed already are being, used to effectively shield Islamic beliefs and even extremists from criticism, and that formalizing this definition will result in it being employed effectively as something of a backdoor blasphemy law.” — Open letter signed by 40 British academics, writers and public officials to Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Days after the British government rejected its preferred official definition of Islamophobia, the Muslim Council of Britain, the biggest Islamic organization in Britain, called for the ruling Conservative Party to be officially investigated for Islamophobia.

The dispute revolves around an effort by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, a cross-party formation of around two-dozen MPs in the British Parliament, to institutionalize the definition of Islamophobia in racial rather than religious terms.

The APPG, in a November 2018 report titled, “Islamophobia Defined,” proposed the following one-sentence definition of Islamophobia:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

The definition, the result of six months of consultations, was endorsed by hundreds of Muslim organizations, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, as well as several political parties, including Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservatives.

Proponents of the definition say that while it is true that Islam is not a race but a religion — a set of beliefs and ideas — and that Muslims are a set of believers from different races, ethnicities and nationalities, many Muslims experience prejudice, discrimination and a form of racism, which, they say, is structural. The director of the anti-racism think tank Runnymede Trust, Omar Khan, explained:

“Defining Islamophobia as anti-Muslim racism properly locates the issue as one in which groups of people are ascribed negative cultural and racial attributes which can lead to a wide range of experiences, either as an unconscious bias, prejudice, direct or indirect discrimination, structural inequality or hate incidents.”

During a parliamentary debate at the House of Commons on May 16, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire rejected the APPG’s definition — described as a “backdoor blasphemy law” — on the grounds that it is too vague and has “potential consequences for freedom of speech.” He said that the definition is not in conformity with the Equality Act 2010, which defines “race” as comprising color, nationality and national or ethnic origins — not religious practice.

A government spokesman said that the APPG’s definition had “not been broadly accepted” and needed “further careful consideration.”

The proposed definition has been opposed by many Britons, including British Muslims, who warn that it would effectively shield Islam from scrutiny and valid criticism.

Speaking in the Commons debate, Conservative MP Sir John Hayes noted:

“The [APPG] report essentially identifies Islamophobia as an exercise in racism, which presumes that the Muslim peoples of this country, or any country, are a race. Given that Islam is a religion, that proposition is of itself contentious, and has been described as such by some critics of the report.

“People who ascribe to that religion come from all kinds of places, are all kinds of colors and creeds, and adopt all kinds of different practices. Rather like Christians, some take a more fundamentalist view of their faith than others. To describe them as a race is, of itself, a bold, and some would argue contentious, view, yet that is what the report does by identifying Islamophobia as a matter of anti-racism….

“Existing legislative arrangements on incitement to hatred, discrimination and a panoply of other measures allow the police, if they so choose, to pursue people who behave in a way that is unacceptable and, much more seriously, illegal — there is a perfectly proper argument that the police do not do that enough. I do not make that argument, but others might. It is certainly right that the police should pursue those people, who should be questioned, charged and, where appropriate, prosecuted. However, the argument that we are starting from a blank sheet of paper belies the fact that all kinds of anti-discrimination and anti-racism laws exist that allow us to protect those who might be victims of such prejudice.”

Writing for The Spectator, David Green, the founder and chief executive of Civitas, a non-partisan public policy think tank based in London, warned:

“If this definition becomes law, no one would be sure which forms of words could land them in court. It is precisely such uncertainty that makes the difference between a police state and a free society. Historically the term ‘rule of law’ was used to describe the political system in which everyone knew when the law could be used against them and when they were free to act as each believed best. As John Locke put it, in England there was a ‘standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society’ which meant ‘a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another’….

“Using words with the intention of stirring up racial hatred is not protected [under British law] and — no doubt for this reason — the APPG definition claims that criticizing Islam is a form of racism. But race and religion are very different….

“We have here a clash between two very different ways of viewing a society: broadly individualism and collectivism. Individualism sees the primary aim of the state as being to facilitate development of our personal qualities….

“In a collectivist society the aim is for the rulers to determine how individuals should behave … those in power lay down a detailed code and threaten punishment for non-compliance. And they do not welcome criticism as a device for mutual learning and holding power to account.

“We have encountered these authoritarian ideas throughout the history of Europe and thought we had advanced beyond them…. The APPG definition is an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the past….

“There is wide public support for freedom of speech and it is unlikely to be officially ended by an act of parliament, but it can be chipped away bit by bit. Giving official recognition to the APPG definition of Islamophobia will be a giant step towards an arbitrary police state.”

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Senior British police officials have cautioned that the proposed definition of Islamophobia could cause confusion among police officers and hamper the fight against Islamic terrorism. In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May that was leaked to The Times, Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), wrote that the AAPPG’s definition risked exacerbating tensions with the Muslim community and could undermine counterterrorist policing powers and tactics:

“We are concerned that the definition is too broad as currently drafted, could cause confusion for officers enforcing it and could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical and theological actions of Islamic states.

“There is also a risk it could also undermine counterterrorism powers, which seek to tackle extremism or prevent terrorism.”

England’s first Muslim MP, Khalid Mahmood, said that the APPG’s definition would lead to increased segregation of Muslim communities:

“I am for equality for all — but I oppose this. We as Muslims should be proud of who we are and try to move away from a victim mentality.”

In December 2017, the aid agency Barnabas Fund published a statement in which it recommended using the word “Muslimophobia” when condemning a fear and hatred of Muslim people. It said that the word “Islamophobia” should be used only to mean fear and hatred of the religious ideology Islam. The statement also highlighted that it is a cause of much confusion that “Islamophobia” is commonly used to include fear and hatred of Muslim people as well.

On May 15, more than 40 British academics, writers and public officials signed an open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The letter called on the government, political parties, local councils and other organizations to reject the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia:

“The undersigned unequivocally, unreservedly and emphatically condemn acts of violence against Muslims, and recognize the urgent need to deal with anti-Muslim hatred. However, we are extremely concerned about the uncritical and hasty adoption of the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia.

“This vague and expansive definition is being taken on without an adequate scrutiny or proper consideration of its negative consequences for freedom of expression, and academic and journalistic freedom. The definition will also undermine social cohesion — fueling the very bigotry against Muslims which it is designed to prevent.

“We are concerned that allegations of Islamophobia will be, indeed already are being, used to effectively shield Islamic beliefs and even extremists from criticism, and that formalizing this definition will result in it being employed effectively as something of a backdoor blasphemy law.

“Evidently abuse, harmful practices, or the activities of groups and individuals which promote ideas contrary to British values are far more likely to go unreported as a result of fear of being called Islamophobic. This will only increase if the APPG definition is formally adopted in law.

“We are concerned that the definition will be used to shut down legitimate criticism and investigation. While the APPG authors have assured that it does not wish to infringe free speech, the entire content of the report, the definition itself, and early signs of how it would be used, suggest that it certainly would. Civil liberties should not be treated as an afterthought in the effort to tackle anti-Muslim prejudice.

“The conflation of race and religion employed under the confused concept of ‘cultural racism’ expands the definition beyond anti-Muslim hatred to include ‘illegitimate’ criticism of the Islamic religion. The concept of Muslimness can effectively be transferred to Muslim practices and beliefs, allowing the report to claim that criticism of Islam is instrumentalized to hurt Muslims.

“No religion should be given special protection against criticism. Like anti-Sikh, anti-Christian, or anti-Hindu hatred, we believe the term anti-Muslim hatred is more appropriate and less likely to infringe on free speech. A proliferation of ‘phobias’ is not desirable, as already stated by Sikh and Christian organizations who recognize the importance of free discussion about their beliefs.”

On May 28, the Muslim Council of Britain, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, filed a complaint with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over Islamophobia within the Conservative Party. The complaint stated:

“We have taken this step after an unprecedented number of cases have been brought to our attention, suggesting a culture within the Conservative Party where Islamophobia is not only widespread, but institutional. We now request the EHRC to look at all the evidence and investigate this matter with great urgency.”

The Assistant Secretary General of the MCB, Miqdaad Versi, admitted that the group’s complaint with the EHRC was aimed at pressuring the government to accept its preferred definition of Islamophobia:

“The current Conservative-led government has also decided to reject a definition of Islamophobia as accepted by the MCB and key Muslim stakeholders, which leads us to question, what message do the Conservatives want to send to Muslim communities?

“As the [Conservative Party] leadership race ensues, will any of the candidates prioritize dealing with the sheer scale of Islamophobia that has consumed the Conservative Party?”

The call for an Islamophobia probe came on the same day as the EHRC announced a formal investigation of antisemitism in the Labour Party. The probe will determine whether the party “has unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimized people because they are Jewish.”

The MCB said the timing of its complaint — submitted on the same day antisemitism probe — was coincidental.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

NY Times Claims Trump Does Not Care About Re-Election Campaign

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 01:00

The New York Times claimed that President Donald Trump does not care about his re-election campaign or about the policies he would seek to enact during a second term.

“In a recent overarching state-of-the-race briefing in Florida with Brad Parscale, his campaign manager, Mr. Trump was consistently distracted and wanted to discuss other things, according to people familiar with the meeting,” the Times claimed, not citing any on-the-record sources. “When it came to the campaign, his main focus was on his own approval numbers.

The Times also relied on anonymous sources to claim that the president ordered his team to ignore internal polling data.

“After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” the Times wrote. “And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.”

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Times reporters Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman also reported that Trump was uninterested in policy conversations about a second presidential term and is instead more focused on sloganeering.

“Unlike nearly every recent modern president who sought re-election, Mr. Trump rarely if ever speaks to aides about what he hopes to accomplish with what would be a hard-won second term; his interest is entirely in the present, and mostly on the crisis of the moment,” they wrote. “He has shown no interest in formulating a new message for his campaign, instead continuing with the winning ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan from his last race and adding that he also wants to ‘keep America great.’”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Accuracy in Media

Fake News? David Friedman Didn’t Endorse Annexation

Breaking Israel News - Thu, 06/13/2019 - 00:00

The New York Times got quite a scoop when, in an interview with its Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that he favored Israel’s annexation of the West Bank. That was the lede of Halbfinger’s article, as well as in the headline. And that was also the way the story was played in virtually every one of the many publications that picked up on the story.

If true, that would be big news indeed. But there are two problems with the way the interview has been reported. The first is that Halbfinger didn’t publish a quote from Friedman in which he actually said the word “annexation.” The second is that what he did say has actually been U.S. policy for more than 20 years. In other words, in the disturbing phrase that has become all too much part of our public discourse in the last few years, the widely reported claim that the Trump administration just endorsed Israeli annexation of the West Bank appears to be “fake news.”

Halbfinger’s article began with the following assertion: “Israel has a right to annex at least some, but ‘unlikely all,’ of the West Bank, the United States ambassador, David M. Friedman, said in an interview, opening the door to American acceptance of what would be an enormously provocative act.”

That assertion is backed up by only one line of the article in which Friedman is quoted as saying, “Under certain circumstances,” Mr. Friedman said, “I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

Friedman didn’t say the word “annexation.” It’s Halbfinger who uses the word in his narrative. But in what he otherwise describes as a “wide-ranging interview,” he can’t supply a single quote to specifically back up the one newsworthy aspect of the piece.

That’s important because although the transcript was not published, Halbfinger probably gave Friedman many opportunities to say “annexation.” But he got not a single quote with the key word escaping Friedman’s lips.

The possibility of annexation has been in the news because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at it in an interview prior to the April 9 general elections.

Netanyahu promised that he would extend Israeli law to the settlements, even though that meant nothing since Israeli law is already applied there. It was a gesture aimed at winning some pro-settlement votes. But when his pro-annexation allies sought to translate that vague promise into tangible results during the post-election coalition negotiations, it’s been widely reported that Netanyahu made it clear they were wasting their time. The prime minister had zero interest in doing anything that might be perceived as undermining a Trump peace plan. Which is to say there will be no annexation anytime soon, if ever.

Yet it’s also true that Friedman is a longtime supporter of the settlement movement, meaning that he likely would personally welcome Israeli holding on to as much of the West Bank as it could. But the one comment that Friedman made in his interview that seemed to directly address annexation was actually equivocal: “Mr. Friedman declined to say how the United States would respond if Mr. Netanyahu moved to annex West Bank land unilaterally. ‘We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves,’ Mr. Friedman said. ‘These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.’ ”

Which shows that despite the fact that he is a diplomatic novice, Friedman knows how to obfuscate and not answer questions as well as any State Department veteran.

So despite the claim that Friedman endorsed annexation, Halbfinger’s article proved nothing of the kind.

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But there’s another important point that was lost in the rush to put words in Friedman’s mouth and to condemn the Trump administration for allegedly overturning decades of U.S. policy. It’s that it has been official U.S. policy for more than 20 years that Israel has “the right to retain some” of the West Bank.

That was the formula for peace pursued by the Washington at the Camp David summit in July 2000 when President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered PLO chairman Yasser Arafat an independent state in most of the West Bank, Gaza and a share of Jerusalem. But part of that plan, which Arafat turned down, was that Israeli would retain some of the West Bank. It would be repeated in all future peace negotiations carried out under George W. Bush and even Barack Obama.

Bush put it in writing in a letter to Ariel Sharon in 2004 prior to the withdrawal from Gaza in which he assured the Israelis that they could count on U.S. support for holding onto Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement blocs.

So the argument that Friedman said something worthy of his being fired—as some on the left have claimed—is as absurd as it is outrageous.

What his critics really can’t stand about Friedman is that he is willing to say that the West Bank or any other part of the country isn’t “Palestinian territory” but disputed land, and that Israel can assert its rights as well as its security needs in any negotiation. He’s right about that. And he’s also right that the United States is not opposed to Israel holding on to at least some of the West Bank in the event of a theoretical peace agreement that the Palestinians clearly have no interest in negotiating, let alone signing.

The fact that both the Times and those who repeated Halbfinger’s spin have misreported this interview, in addition to the facts about established American policy under the last four presidents, is more evidence of the partisanship and declining ethical standards in so much of the contemporary news media.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jewish News Syndicate

Friedman gave Netanyahu half a nod for West Bank annexation - analysis

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 21:49

What was it exactly that Friedman said in a New York Times interview. And what happens next? War, war crimes trial, one state, two states?

Iran may change policy towards nuclear deal due to oil sanctions

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 21:41

Larijani did not elaborate on what those changes would be.

Greenblatt to 'Post': Palestinian refusal to attend workshop shortsighted

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 16:52

Leaders of the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction, who held an emergency meeting in Ramallah on Wednesday, renewed their call to Arab states to boycott the conference.

Rouhani: Japan wants to keep buying Iranian oil

Jerusalem Post - Middle East News - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 15:13

Abe himself did not mention Japan's currently suspended purchases of Iranian oil, however, instead focusing on the need to avoid any unintended clashes in the region.