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Jerusalem Municipality to Distribute Free Christmas Trees, Decorate Christian Quarters

5 hours 45 min ago

 In a warm holiday gesture during Israel’s winter season, the Jerusalem Municipality will continue its annual tradition of distributing free Christmas trees to the city’s Christian residents.

The initiative is part of Jerusalem’s annual Christmas preparations, which involve the hanging of celebratory lights and flags throughout the city in areas where the holiday is observed.

The trees, Israeli-grown Arizona Cypresses, are donated by the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

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Some of the Jerusalem neighborhoods that will receive special treatment for Christmas include the Old City’s Christian Quarter; the Beit Hanina neighborhood; and the main streets used by Christian pilgrims, such as the Mar Elias road.

The municipality has also increased cleaning and landscaping operations in the areas around Jerusalem’s churches, and is collaborating with the Israel Police to ensure that access to Christian landmarks is streamlined for visiting pilgrims.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is set to tour the city’s churches later this month and will hold meetings with Christian leaders.

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Everybody in the Media Knew

6 hours 14 min ago

“Everybody f____g knew,” a top Hollywood screenwriter wrote of Harvey Weinstein. “Everybody knew” about Matt Lauer at NBC, Variety reports, and it “wasn’t even considered a secret.” “Every female in the press corps knew that, right, don’t get in elevator with him,” ABC’s Cokie Roberts said of Rep. Conyers.

Everybody knew.

The #MeToo sexual harassment scandals have hit CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, PBS, Vox, New Republic, Mother Jones. Forget Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose. They were just the talent. Their big decisions were limited to which hairpiece looked best in all three mirrors and which naïve intern to prey on this month. The heads of the men who actually make the news are rolling left and right.

NPR lost its Chief News Editor and its Senior VP of News. Vox lost its Editorial Director. The New York Times lost its White House Correspondent and Mother Jones lost its D.C. Bureau Chief. MSNBC lost two prominent contributors who had done much to shape the political landscape, Mark Halperin, who had written the definitive media account of the ’08 election, and David Corn, who had debuted the 47% attack on Romney and got the first look at Hillary’s Trump dossier.

The massive media machine built to smear and steamroll Republicans never bothered to report what everybody on the inside already knew. The wannabe Woodwards and Bernsteins in every paper, news bureau and explainer site weren’t investigating the scandals they already knew about. Those weren’t the scandals they were looking for.

That’s why no one trusts them.

Hollywood, the media, and the Democrats have been preaching to us about sexism and feminism for generations. Meanwhile, behind the cameras and the chambers, an assault spree was in progress.

And everybody knew.

The Democrats didn’t suddenly realize that Bill Clinton was a rapist. They knew it all along. And they denied it for political convenience. The same way that Nancy Pelosi praised Conyers as an “icon” and dismissed his female accusers or that Rep. Clyburn claimed that he was being attacked by white women. When Senator Gillibrand, who had been opportunistically playing the sexual harassment card for a presidential bid, was asked whether Franken should resign, her response was, “It’s his decision.”

And, as Cokie’s comments show, the media knew all about Conyers. And, likely, Franken. Before Franken was groping women as a politician, he was doing it while bleating leftist twaddle at Air America. Between Saturday Night Live and winning the vote of the Undead-Americans of Minnesota, the Great Groper of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party was in the same business as the rest of the media.

The media liked to pretend that it’s reporting on politicians and celebrities keeps them honest. But it was all one club. And everybody in the club knew what everyone else was up to. And kept quiet about it.

The politicians and celebrities, and the reporters who interviewed them weren’t in three separate businesses. They were in three interrelated branches of the same industry of narratives. It was the media’s job to turn some politicians and celebrities into culture heroes based on their politics. While doing everything possible to destroy those politicians and celebrities with the wrong views.

The politicians were expected to pass the agendas that the reporters and celebrities wanted. And it was the job of the celebrities to make the politicians and the reporters look as cool as possible.

Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, John Conyers, Al Franken, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were all in the same business. They were just working different ends of it. And working over different victims: underage boys, overworked female staffers, random fans, harried interns, famous actresses. But the details don’t really matter. Power has its privileges. The issue isn’t the privilege, it’s the power.

And the immunity from scrutiny that came with that power.

The left has done its best to make this about men. But it’s not about men. It’s about power. Men and women may abuse power somewhat differently. But the same arrogance that led Hillary Clinton to boost her presidential campaign with an illegal war in Libya led her husband to sexually abuse women.

The reporters who covered for Obama’s use of the IRS against his political opponents also covered for each other’s sexual misdeeds. These are not separate issues. They’re the same issue.

And the issue is accountability in institutions that put political solidarity over ethics and integrity.

The left builds political networks in every institution. Some, like unions, are official. Others, like the media, are unofficial. But they all create walls of silence that protect fellow leftist abusers.

These abuses happened because the left insists on distinguishing between political abuses and personal abuses. It’s one thing to lie, cheat and abuse people for a progressive political cause. But that’s not supposed to translate into a similar immunity for abusing people on purely selfish grounds.

Except that’s not how human nature works.

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Power corrupts. And that corruption won’t just stop at any neat intersectional line. The myth of the pure revolutionary should have been buried with Stalin, Pol Pot, and Che. But the left can’t escape the corrupt conviction that abusing power for a good cause is profoundly different than just abusing power.

And so the same sordid dramas keep playing out again.

Socialist regimes turn feudal. The revolutionaries become tyrants. Murder for the cause becomes just murder. Redistribution of wealth flows to the redistributors. Civil rights activists turn racist. Male feminists rape. The liars don’t just lie for the cause. They lie for their friends and for themselves.

The Obama scandals had three phases. 1. It’s right-wing nonsense. 2. It’s complicated. 3. Everybody knew. Number 3 was the climax to the denials and explainers of the previous two phases. It meant that this was just how it was done. The only people who didn’t know were just ignorant of the corrupt game.

Everybody knew. Everybody who matters always knows.

Each scandal comes with histrionic handwringing. The media churns with phony think pieces wondering how we can prevent a culture of abuse. The answer is as easy as it is hateful to the left.

Bring back checks and balances by breaking up the leftist networks.

The American system is built around checks and balances. Groups and individuals prevent the corruption of power by constantly struggling with each other. That’s the opposite of the left which wants to create a perfectly united world by imposing one master theory on everyone. While conservatives accept the imperfections of human nature, leftists are convinced that there is a single solution to human nature.

The abuses being uncovered by #MeToo are a side effect of the left’s consolidation of power.

The First Amendment is another of the checks and balances on power. The press was meant to check the power of political institutions. But rival papers were also meant to challenge each other. Instead the media functions as a consolidated political trust. The same singleness of purpose that allowed everyone in the media to go after President Trump every single day also let #MeToo’s sexual harassment thrive.

It’s why everyone in the press corps knew about Conyers and kept quiet. They were on the same team.

This more power the left acquires, the worse it will get.

The sexual abuses of some politicians, celebrities, and media people are only a symptom of the abuses of power that the left’s political tribalism and consolidation of power over entire institutions enables. Their belated exposure is only a side effect of a war between the old guard and the new guard on the left. It doesn’t mean that the abuses are going away. Only that a new generation is rising to power.

But the abuses are a warning that leftist power doesn’t lead to utopias, but to dystopias. We don’t have to visit Cuba to understand that. Spend some time in an industry or institution controlled by the left and you will learn the same lesson. The only way to change that is to end leftist monopolies on power.

A progressive monopoly on power doesn’t make the world better. Just ask the victims of #MeToo.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Sultan Knish Blog

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Palestinians Withdraw From ‘All Israel Peace Accords Since Oslo’

6 hours 45 min ago

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that the Palestinians are withdrawing from all peace agreements with Israel since the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Abbas’s comments came during a special meeting of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul that was convened in response to U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The PA president said he would refuse any future U.S. involvement in the peace process and threatened that there will be “no peace or stability” in the region until Jerusalem is recognized as the Palestinian capital.

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“We will tell the Israelis that we are no longer committed to any agreement from Oslo until today,” he said, adding that the PA would push for full membership in the United Nations, where the Palestinians currently have non-member observer state status.

“We agreed with America we would not join international institutions on the condition that American does not transfer its embassy, does not initiate any action against our office in Washington and orders Israel to freeze settlement building,” Abbas said.

The post Palestinians Withdraw From ‘All Israel Peace Accords Since Oslo’ appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Jerusalem

7 hours 15 min ago

Donald’s speech about Jerusalem was his best performance to date.

Perhaps because it was tightly controlled. He read a prepared presentation whose details had been known and commented upon for several hours. We didn’t have to experience the bi-lingual confusion of a simultaneous translation in Hebrew overlaying the President’s English. Hebrew subtitles were prepared and flowed across the bottom of the screen.

Most impressive was the realism, finally recognized by the American White House, of Israeli accomplishment and Palestinian intransigence.

Whatever produced the Presidential resolve survived several days of complaint and pressure, not only from Muslim sources but also from major European governments and professionals in the US Departments of State and Defense…

The President left the future up to the parties, with the Palestinians now on notice that they are expected–at least by this sitting President–to accept Israel’s existence and to bargain with it on details.

Initial expectations were guardedly optimistic. There’s been a lot of blather from Palestinian politicians, with parallel expressions by the heads of Muslim governments from Turkey and North Africa through to Iran and on to Malaysia and Indonesia. Guesses are that there isn’t the desire or energy among the Palestinians to do more than several days of demonstrations, curses, stone throwing, and tire burning, with limited casualties.

The balance of power–physical, economic, and political–is awesomely in favor of Israel.

It’s not a good time for a Palestinian uprising.

Their assets have declined greatly, with warfare among Muslims and Hamas siding with Iran while Fatah is staying with Sunnis and Saudi Arabia.

TIME headlined rage among Palestinians.

Overseas journalists who pronounce on the situation are unlikely to be fluent in either Hebrew or Arabic. Israeli media rely on Jews and Arabs who know both languages and have immersed themselves for years in the nuances of regional politics.

There’s always rage among Palestinians, especially on occasions like the present, when their leaders screech hyperbolic demands for national rights…

There can be several such occasions in the course of a year. Young men and some women march and throw things at the police and soldiers. The usual result, so far seen on this occasion, is a number of injured and a few dead Palestinians.

Should Palestinians embark on serious violence, an initial response could be to close the borders and the disappearance of more than 100,000 jobs in Israel. There is no shortage of Bulgarians, Romanians, Chinese, Thais, and others to take their places. Money flows and banking controls are in Israeli hands. The IDF and other security forces have shown what they are willing to do.

The wave of criticism against Trump and threats from governmental figures across the Middle East may be nothing more than lip service. In practical terms, Saudi Arabia has moved closer to Israel than to the Palestinians. It revised its peace plan of some years ago. The present version does not include the right of refugees return or a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.

Turkey has threatened to end diplomatic relations with Israel, but it is playing risky games with Russia and Iran in Syria. The Kurds are always a problem for them, and the US and Israel have cards to play.

The Hamas leader declared war on Israel. Let’s hope Qatar continues to pay for the clearing of the rubble, still in piles, from his most recent effort to subdue Israel.

The major folly of the Palestinians’ leadership–across the generations and the political groupings–is to deny what Israel has accomplished, or even its legitimate existence.

The blather of “occupation” has not served them well. A more accurate description is that the territory of the West Bank beyond the 1967 lines is “disputed.” Palestinian claims of always being there are delusional nonsense. The roots of Arab individuals and families are not more clearly “on this land” than are those of Jews. Arabs, as well as Jews, have been moving forever. It’s not clear how many “Palestinians” were Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Turks, Central Asians, wandering Bedouin, or something else in generations past.

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Muslims have a claim to a significant holy site in Jerusalem. Their folly is to deny anything equivalent to the history of the Jews.

The limited Oslo agreement of 1993 has guided government-sponsored Israeli settlement and provides substantial Palestinian autonomy, but it does not keep Israeli security forces from intervening when and where appropriate. Often that occurs with the tacit if the unacknowledged cooperation of Palestinian authorities.

The reality is a great deal of accommodation between Israel and Palestinians, despite the proclamations of those claiming leadership.

Palestinian aspirations for the conditions of 1967, 1947, or pre-Balfour 1917 are self-destructive in precluding serious negotiations.

Among the implications of Trump’s speech was advice that the Palestinians begin aspirations with the present, and not at a dim, confusing, and contentious past.

Past behavior suggests that few Palestinians will perceive the opportunity.

Palestinian authorities have declared Vice President Mike Pence as persona non grata in advance of his visit to the region.

That’s not the way to move forward.

Remember Abba Eban: they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Historical and current realities are far from clear or simple. The outlines of “Jerusalem” have changed numerous times since David, mythic or otherwise.  Likewise, which religious and secular authorities controlled what, when.

Best guesses are that nothing dramatic will change in the near future. The Presidential declaration was purely symbolic. The US and other governments have treated Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for decades. It’s here where visiting officials meet their Israeli counterparts.

The US government could move the Embassy from Tel Aviv in the 60 minutes it takes the Ambassador to drive from the present Embassy to the US Consulate in Jerusalem. However, the President indicated that it would take years for the planning and construction of an appropriate building, and the move of a thousand personnel from Tel Aviv.

That’s as much political as logistic. It signals to the parties that nothing is a done deal.

Symbols are important in politics, i.e., what is promised, or how it’s expressed, rather than what is actually delivered.

Trump’s promise, however it is interpreted, might produce nothing more than several days of commotion.

Jerusalem is a hot button for the Vatican, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, Evangelical Christians, as well as secular governments fearful of any spark that could ignite something they’ll have to deal with. However, each of those interested also has other concerns, and the confusion of multiple and competing options may get in the way of anything dramatic.

Thomas Friedman has not given up. His instant response was to chide Trump for giving Israel a gift, and demanding nothing in return. He overlooks the free lunch the Palestinians have received for decades, without concessions in return.

Jerusalem is as great a spiritual symbol as any place, but the world is more secular and calculating than in times past.

Sound and fury signifying nothing, Apocalypse, Final Coming, or simply one more period of clamor?.

Don’t expect the Messiah, whoever or whatever He, She, or It might be. Perhaps not until the end of time, if such a thing will occur.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

The post Jerusalem appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Israeli Security Forces Thwart Hamas’s Hanukkah Kidnapping Plot

7 hours 45 min ago

Israeli security forces—including the Shin Bet security agency, Israel Police and IDF—have thwarted an attempt by the Gaza-ruling Palestinian terror group Hamas to kidnap Israelis in Samaria during Hanukkah.

In uncovering a Hamas terror cell operating near Nablus, the Shin Bet found that the group planned to kidnap local Jewish residents or an Israeli soldier from bus stops in the area.

The leader of the Palestinian terror cell, Muad Ashtiyah, 26, from the village of Tel near Nablus, acquired weapons and recruited terrorists Mahmoud Ramadan and Ahmad Ramadan, both 19, to assist with the kidnapping.

The Palestinian terror cell was in contact with Gaza-based Hamas operative Omar Assida, who heads coordination of Hamas’s money laundering schemes and terror operations between Gaza and the disputed territories.

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Assida was reportedly freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal, which saw more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorist prisoners go free in exchange for the release of the captured Israeli soldier.

The terror cell also collected intelligence on the main routes used by Israelis in the area and planned to disguise themselves as Jews to lure potential victims into entering their vehicle.

The Shin Bet seized several weapons from the terrorists, including a pistol, a stun gun and pepper spray. The security agency handed over the investigation’s findings to state prosecutors for “consideration regarding the filing of indictments.”

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Locked Up in the Islamic Republic of Iran

8 hours 14 min ago

What is genuinely troubling was the way in which Robert Levinson’s fate has been kept largely secret. The Iranian authorities have never revealed who captured him, who currently holds him, what charges have been laid against him, or even if he is still alive. And no effort has been made to negotiate his release, set a prison term, or work by the rules of international intelligence or diplomacy.

An Iranian revolutionary court charged Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, without the slightest evidence, of “plotting to topple the Iranian regime”. This was done in a trial without a defence lawyer, without any details of her “offence”, and ended in a sentence to five years in prison.

All of you will be familiar with articles on individuals who have been imprisoned, tortured, or even executed in several Muslim countries. Many such individuals are Iranians, imprisoned unjustly for their beliefs or actions that would be considered perfectly innocent or even praiseworthy in the West. Since the revolution of 1979, Iran has been not only the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism but also one of the world’s most consistent human rights abusers. In Amnesty International’s most recent (2016-2017) report on rights issues in the country, it listed abuses under numerous headings:

  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Torture and other ill-treatment
  • Unfair trials
  • Freedom of religion and belief
  • Discrimination – ethnic minorities
  • Women’s rights
  • Death penalty

Iran has the sixth highest number of prisoners in the world, although it comes only nineteenth in the size of its population. In 2011, there were 250,000 prisoners overall, a figure that dropped by 2014 to 225,624 — still a very high figure. Even North Korea — which has a vast range of political prison camps, forced labour camps, and other facilities, albeit with a small overall population — has fewer: the U.S. State Department human rights report for 2016 says that estimates of the prison population total range between 80,000 and 120,000.

Iran is also notorious for the number of executions it carries out, often for drug-related crimes, but also on religious and political charges. In an article by Iran expert Majid Rafizadeh, president of the International American Council (IAC), Iran has overtaken China as the world’s worst offender in extreme use of execution as a punishment, often for offences that would not even carry penalties in any Western country, including the United States:

Since January 2016, Iran has executed at least 230 people, that is at least one person a day on average. The number of executions has recently increased and Iran ranks first in the world, followed by China, when it comes to executions per capita. Iran executed approximately 1000 people in 2015.

In the Amnesty International report on Iran, there appears one paragraph of considerable concern for foreign citizens and Iranians with dual nationality, notably US and British citizenship:

Several foreign nationals and Iranians with dual nationality were detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison with little or no access to their families, lawyers and consular officials. These prisoners were sentenced to long prison terms on vague charges such as “collaborating with a hostile government” after grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts. The authorities accused the prisoners of being involved in a foreign-orchestrated “infiltration project” pursuing the “soft overthrow” of Iran. In reality, the convictions appeared to stem from their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association.

People such as these are not more innocent than the great numbers of men and women who have been and remain in Iran’s dungeons or raised to the regime’s gallows in private and in public. But their cases testify to the frustration and often powerlessness of the various governments to whom they call for help.

The precarious situation for foreign and dual nationality individuals in Iran may grow even riskier given that the US Congress voted on October 26 for the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran under the Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act. The Act “calls on the U.S. president to report to Congress on the Iranian and international supply chain for Iran’s ballistic missile program and to impose sanctions on Iranian government or foreign entities that support it.” If it becomes law, it is expected that US allies will follow suit. Moreover, should President Trump succeed in decertifying the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA), as he intends to do and should do, the Iranian regime will become jittery, setting up yet further risks for internal dissidents and foreigners in the Republic?

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In July this year, the White House threatened consequences if Iran did not release US citizens whom it holds prisoner or uses as hostages:

The White House is demanding the release of all Americans currently being held in Iran and says President Donald Trump is “prepared to impose new and serious” consequences on the country if they are not released and returned.

A statement released by the White House Friday [July 21] said the Trump administration is “redoubling” its efforts to bring home Americans “unjustly detained” abroad.

The list of those unjustly detained by Iran and denied consular or other access is fairly long. One of the longest in captivity is American Robert Levinson (now aged 69 if he is still alive), originally a 28-year veteran of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI. He was captured on March 9, 2007, on Kish Island, an Iranian free-trade zone in the Persian Gulf. Some years later, it was revealed that he had been working in a private capacity for the CIA. He could legitimately have been arrested as an enemy spy. Intelligence agencies are well aware that there is always a risk of capture or death for operatives in the field, so Levinson’s apprehension by an unnamed Iranian government security organization may be put down to the hazards of such work. Levinson’s mission had been unorthodox and he had never carried out work related to Iran.

Just another spy story, perhaps. What is genuinely troubling was the way in which Robert Levinson’s fate was kept largely secret. The Iranian authorities have never revealed who captured him, who currently holds him, what charges have been laid against him, or even if he is still alive. And no effort has been made to negotiate his release, set a prison term, or work by the rules of international intelligence or diplomacy. Iran also broke every rule governing diplomatic understanding when in 1979 student revolutionaries took over 60 employees of the US embassy in Tehran captive and held 52 of them hostage for 444 days, creating problems within the US political system. On November 5, the Iranian government publicly celebrated the takeover of the embassy while burning American and Israeli flags, chanting marg bar Amrika and marg bar Esra’il, “death to America” and “death to Israel’.

Iran is one of several countries that do not allow dual citizenship. This has meant that several people with genuine Iranian citizenship coupled with equally valid American or British citizenship, when they are detained in Iran, are treated (or, rather, mistreated) as Iranian nationals with no right to access the help of their second citizen embassy (if one exists) or consulate.

There is currently no US embassy in Tehran (American affairs are being handled through the Swiss embassy or the online US Virtual Embassy), which means that any Americans or American-Iranians arrested and imprisoned (usually in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison) are unable to receive the sort of intercessionary and legal representation prisoners abroad might normally expect under international rules of legal and diplomatic representation. In this respect, Iran again stands out as a rogue state.

There is no room here for a full discussion of the many cases that have occurred or are still occurring, but it is worth mentioning several names and their stories. Last year, for example, a Canadian-Iranian professor of social anthropology, Homa Hoodfar, was arrested while carrying out fieldwork in Iran, something she had done before. Formally arrested in June on charges of “dabbling in feminism and security matters”, for three months she was subjected to no fewer than thirty interrogations with death threats; forced to sleep in a bare cell in Evin; hospitalized with a lung infection, and finally released. Her Canadian nationality may have aided in that.

Years before, however, another Iranian-Canadian woman, Zahra Kazemi, a 58-year-old photojournalist, was arrested in 2003 when covering a demonstration in Tehran. She was sent to Evin, raped, tortured and savagely beaten into a coma. She died in Baghiatollah Hospital four days later. The examining doctor’s description of her injuries makes a gruesome reading. The Canadian Embassy was only contacted early the following month. Although an inquiry was held and some of her injuries admitted to, no one was found responsible, nor has anyone been convicted of her death.

One of the most sickening current cases of an imprisoned woman with dual nationality is that of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Canadian news agency Thomson Reuters’s charitable arm. She lived in West Hampstead, near London, with her British husband Richard, an accountant. In 2014, they had a daughter, Gabriella, and in March 2016 she took her child to Iran in order to visit her parents (who had not yet seen their granddaughter). As Nazanin and Gabriella prepared to board a flight back to London in April, Revolutionary Guards arrested her. The child has since been in the care of her grandparents.

In September 2016 an Iranian revolutionary court charged her, without the slightest evidence, of “plotting to topple the Iranian regime”. This was done in a trial without a defence lawyer, without any details of her “offence”, and ended in a sentence to five years in prison. In Evin prison, she has suffered serious physical and mental problems. On several occasions, the United Nations demanded — without success — that she be released. Back in England, her husband has carried on a campaign, receiving little help from the British Foreign Office. But on October 8, he was informed that a second trial had been held, in the course of which his wife had been sentenced to an additional sixteen years in prison. If she survives this period, which seems unlikely, she will be 58 years old, in wretched health and psychologically broken.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (left), a British-Iranian project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, travelled with her baby to visit her parents in Iran in 2016. She was arrested while preparing to board her flight back to England, and sentenced to 21 years in prison for “plotting to topple the Iranian regime”. (Image source: MrZeroPage/Wikimedia Commons)

It took until November 1 this year before the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, finally agreed to make an official protest about the partisan imprisonment of one of his own citizens. There is a British embassy in Tehran, re-opened in 2015, four years after it was stormed by Iranian protesters. Even if the US is “the great Satan” and Israel “the smaller Satan”, Britain has long been considered a source of interference in Iranian politics. Whether negotiations through the embassy will lead to Nazanin’s release is very hard to say. But her case cries out for justice.

Unfortunately, Boris Johnson recently made things harder for Nazanin when, referring to her case, he made a serious gaffe, claiming she had gone to Iran to teach journalism. This was taken by the Iranian authorities as proof of their charges of espionage. That led to calls from many parties for Johnson’s resignation. Johnson has since apologized and stated to parliament that she had, in fact, just go there on holiday. He has now met (after 18 months) with Richard Ratcliffe, who asked to accompany Johnson on a forthcoming visit to Iran. Some have suggested that Nazanin be given diplomatic protection, but the Foreign Office says it fears an Iranian reaction.

On November 16, however, the Times reported that Iranian media believe that a possible payment of £450 million owed from an unfulfilled arms deal, and which Johnson is due to discuss during his diplomatic visit, is intended as a bribe to free Nazanin. Meanwhile, she now fears she may have breast cancer and is reported to be nearing a nervous breakdown.

One of the few cases in which dual-nationality prisoners have been released was in response to a $400 million bribe, hours before the activation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under the Obama administration, on January 16, 2016. Four prisoners, all Iranian-Americans, were released and flown back to the United States on that date, despite serious charges laid against them. They were: Jason Rezaian, a journalist working for the Washington Post, who suffered “irreparable harm” from “torture and other cruel treatment” during his 18-month confinement; Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor imprisoned in 2012 for “threatening Iranian security” by holding religious gatherings; former Marine Corps infantryman Amir Hekmati, jailed for “colluding with foreign governments”, who has just received a judgement from a US court saying Iran must pay him $63.5 million dollars; and former Iranian infantryman Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, a man shrouded in mystery who elected to remain in Iran.

Arrests of dual-nationals are still being made. After rewarding criminality that lavishly, it is only surprising that there have not been more of them. According to Iranian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan, writing in the Guardian:

Last year, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned against “an infiltration” from outside into the country’s political system. Since then, “infliltration” [sic] has become a code word for those accused by the authorities of having links with the west.

A string of dual nationals, mostly with additional Iranian nationality, have been accused of being part of the so-called infiltration network.

The criminal Islamic regime should release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and the Chinese-American student, Xiyue Wang, sentenced in July this year to ten years in jail as “an infiltrating American agent”. Wang, in his fourth year of a Ph.D. in history at Princeton University, had gone to Iran to carry out research on nineteenth-century Iran — scarcely a controversial period. Recording materials, accessing archives, and seeking entry to libraries are simply routine activities of academic researchers — the present author did all these things, including work in a secret archive, on a nineteenth-century topic — in Tehran many years ago and has lived to tell the tale. Wang is not even a dual-nationality Iranian-American; he only has American citizenship.

It is time for the Iranian neurosis to be challenged. If that means putting pressure on officials of the regime and their business interests, it will be a price worth paying if innocent foreigners are released to their families and friends. [1]

In August, Iran was put on a long-overdue travel advisory list. I will not go. You should not go. No one should go.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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GENESIS 8:22

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 07:26

The Hebrew month of Cheshvan (חשון) is a time where Jews in Israel pray for rain. Not only do we pray for rain, we pray for ‘rains of blessing’ in Hebrew called gishmei bracha (גשמי ברכה). The hope and prayer is that these rains of blessing fall at the right time and in the right amount. Although humans have a massive impact on the weather and environment, we must remember that ultimately, it is God who is in control of the natural order of the world. As God promised in Genesis 8:22, the natural cycle of summer and winter, day and night, will never cease. Now that we have entered the rainy, winter months, be prepared and stay dry this winter!

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President Trump May Recognize Jerusalem, But State Department Doesn’t

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:30

Despite US President Donald Trump’s landmark speech acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, his State Department has not changed its policy regarding the Israeli status of the city.

As per State Department policy, American citizens born in Jerusalem have their place of birth listed on their passports as ‘Jerusalem’, with no country assigned. A State Department official told reporters on Friday that while the US recognizes the Israeli capital, there would be no changes to consular practices or visa issuances, and does not necessarily mean that Jerusalem is considered as being within the borders of Israel.

“The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations. The United States is not taking a position on boundaries or borders,” a State Department representative told Associated Press. “With respect to maps, we are, of course, examining that issue, and when we have a decision we will announce it with respect to how we will treat Jerusalem for official USG-produced mapping purposes.”

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel organization in the US, issued a statement last week calling on the State Department to change their policy, asking that it “act in conformance” with Trump’s declaration.

This particular issue of listing Jerusalem as part of Israel on passports has been the focus of a contentious legal dispute for over 15 years. In 2002, Congress approved a law allowing US citizens to list their birthplace as ‘Jerusalem, Israel’. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law, but said that he would not enforce the provision.

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In the same year Menachem Zivotofsky requested his American son’s birthplace be listed as Jerusalem, Israel. The State Department refused and the case went to the Supreme Court. In 2015, in what was seen as a political victory for then-President Barack Obama, the US Supreme Court struck down the law.

Ironically, the reason given for repealing the law was that the power to make this decision lay solely with the president. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, stating that Congress had overstepped their authority.

“Recognition is a matter on which the nation must speak with one voice. That voice is the president’s,” Kennedy wrote.

There were several dissenting opinions among the Supreme Court justices. Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissenting opinion stating that the Constitution “divides responsibility for foreign affairs between Congress and the president.”

“The court takes the perilous step — for the first time in our history — of allowing the president to defy an act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs,” the Chief Justice wrote.

Last May, the Congress voiced its opinion on the subject again when 52 members of Congress signed a letter asking President Trump to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on official documents.The letter pointed out that Americans born in Taiwan are allowed to list that as their country of birth, despite the fact that the State Department recognizes Taiwan as being a part of China.

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PM Netanyahu Lights First Candle of Hanukkah

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:00

At a special menorah-lighting ceremony with Israeli diplomats, PM Netanyahu gives credit to the US for its leadership worldwide and in the Middle East.

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Spectacular Geminid Meteor Shower Signals Messiah’s Approach: Mystic Rabbi

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 05:30

An especially spectacular meteor shower seen around the globe this week and a near-miss by a potentially apocalyptic meteor are just a few of the pre-Messianic astronomical signs that are to be expected in the near future, said a prominent kabbalist rabbi from the holy city of Tzfat.

“The prophecies, the Talmud, and the Zohar all explicitly describe astronomical phenomenon that will appear immediately before the Moshiach (Messiah) arrives,” Rabbi Eyal Riess, Director of the Tzfat Kabbalah Center, told Breaking Israel News. “Asteroids and meteors are clearly among them as signs of change and as elements that bring about the change.”

The Geminid meteor shower will be visible around the world on Wednesday night, with as many as 120 meteors appearing per hour. A waning moon will facilitate viewing, and because of the darker sky, the meteor shower will be brighter than most. 

The Geminids meteor shower visible in the northern hemisphere, December 14, 2013. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Geminid shower occurs when the Earth passes through the debris of an asteroid, a small rocky planet generating brighter meteors.  The asteroid, known as the 3200 Phaethon, will also make an appearance along with the meteor shower, passing very close to the earth in astronomical terms.

Phaethon is the third-largest asteroid ever discovered and was first observed by a NASA satellite in 1983. The asteroid will reach its closest point to the Earth on Saturday night, coming within 0.069 astronomical units — about 6.4 million miles. According to NASA, this encounter with Phaethon is the closest since 1974, and the closest it will be until 2093.

Though these astronomical appearances are not uncommon, Rabbi Riess believes they are taking on a new significance.

“Using Jewish sources, we have determined that according to the calendar, we are objectively coming to the end-of-days,” Rabbi Riess told Breaking Israel News. “In kabbalistic terms, we are one hour before sunset. Very soon, the Sabbath of Messiah will begin.”

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With a diameter of about three miles, Phaethon is half the size of the asteroid scientists believe struck the earth and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. It has an eccentric orbit which crosses the Earth’s, leading NASA to classify Phaethon as “potentially hazardous”.

Even its name pays tribute to its destructive potential. Scientists named the asteroid after the son of the pagan Greek sun god Helios, who legend holds pulled the sun across the sky, losing control of the sun and nearly destroying the Earth.

Despite the NASA warning, Rabbi Riess believed that any astronomical event connected to the Messianic process would bring with it healing and not harm.

“Everything that is happening today, politics and natural phenomenon, they connect one part of the world to all the others, and connect the beginning of time to the end of days,” Rabbi Riess said. “Messiah is part of creation, not destruction, and this is the specific message in these celestial signs.”

The rabbi cited a verse from Isaiah to illustrate this point.

And the light of the moon shall become like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall become sevenfold, like the light of the seven days, when Hashem binds up His people’s wounds and heals the injuries it has suffered. Isaiah 30:26

There does not seem to be any danger from Phaethon this week, but in 20193 it will pass within 1.85 million miles of the earth. That may sound like a wide margin, but in astronomical terms, it will be a very close call.

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Tillerson: Jerusalem Embassy Move ‘at Least’ Three Years Away

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 04:30

Despite President Donald Trump’s landmark declaration last week that the US would move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the actual move is unlikely to happen for at least three years, said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday.

“It’s not going to be anything that happens right away. Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious,” cautioned Tillerson in a speech at the State Department, the New York Times reported.

He was echoing comments he made on Friday after talks in Paris with the French Foreign Minister, when he said the move was “not something that is going to happen this year or probably not next year.”

However, he reassured concerned parties that Trump seeks to make the move “in a very concrete” way.

“The president does want us to move in a very concrete, very steadfast way to ensure the embassy is located in Jerusalem when we’re able to do so, at the earliest possible time,” he said in Paris.

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Tillerson pointed out that the process of establishing a new embassy was a complex one requiring many steps, including acquiring a site in Jerusalem, developing plans, getting Congressional approval for spending, and then constructing the building itself.

He also emphasized that Trump’s historic pronouncement last Wednesday, which, in addition to affirming the embassy move, also recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, “did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem” in terms of borders impacting a possible peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, a deal the president still hopes to make during his tenure.

While Trump said he would move the embassy, he did not trigger the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires the US to make the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but has always been put off at six-month intervals with presidential waivers.

Rather than letting the waiver elapse after his declaration, the president signed it, delaying the move at least another six months.

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Ancient Oil Lamp Traced Back to First-Ever Hanukkah in Maccabee Era

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 04:10

During a hike in the Beit She’an Valley, 7-year-old Hadas Goldberg-Kedar and her mother, Ayelet, discovered an ancient clay oil lamp that turned out to be a well-preserved pottery vessel dating back to the Hellenistic period at the beginning of the 2nd century BCE – approximately the time that Judah Maccabee led his famous revolt against the the Selucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes.

The remarkable discovery of the 2,200-year-old lamp came a week before the beginning of the Hanukkah holiday that commemorates the Maccabee victory over the Greeks and celebrates the returning of holy light to the holy land.

7-year-old Hadas Goldberg-Kedar found the oil lamp. (Israel Antiquities Authority)

Dr. Einat Ambar-Armon, education and community coordinator for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) northern region, said the candle holder was typical of the period. “During this period, clay candlesticks were produced in formations: the upper and lower parts were produced separately, and were then joined together,” she explained.

That new technique “enabled the mass production of candles, as well as the addition of a variety of decorations. In later periods, candles and other Jewish decorations sometimes appeared on the candles,” Ambar-Armon added.

She also said that the discovery of the lamp attests to the type of activity that existed in the Beit She’an Valley during the Hellenistic period.

“It is particularly interesting to note that in 1960 another lamp was discovered at Kibbutz Heftziba with fascinating inscriptions from the Hellenistic period. This inscription, written in Greek, is actually a copy of the state correspondence between Antiochus III, who was the first ruler of the Seleucid family, and the regional Seleucid governor.”

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She also noted that Antiochus III, who is mentioned in the inscription, tended to be merciful toward the Jews, in contrast to his son, Antiochus Epiphanes, also known as ‘Antiochus the Evil.’”

“The decrees and persecutions against the Jews in his (Antiochus Epiphanes) time were unprecedented and eventually led to the outbreak of the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks in 167 BCE,” Ambar-Armon explained. “The tradition of Chanukah emerged as a mark of the success of the revolt, the cleansing of the Temple and the renewal of religious rites.”

Ayelet Goldberg-Kedar, an archaeology student at the University of Haifa, said that upon finding the holder, she assumed it had been left behind by antiquities robbers and called Nir Distelfeld, an inspector from the IAA Anti-Theft Unit.

The culprits, it turned out, were not antiquities robbers; rather, the holder was unearthed by porcupines digging lairs for the winter.

“Porcupines love antiquities sites because the soil is aerated as a result of human activity in the past,” explained Distelfeld, who added with a wink that “the porcupines would not be prosecuted as they are a protected species.”

 

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Trump Delivers a Sorely Needed Dose of Reality Therapy

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 04:00

Dec. 6, 2017, will be forever remembered as a day when a historic wrong had been righted. When President Donald Trump made his long-anticipated announcement that the U.S. not only recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but that he will take steps towards moving the American embassy there, he accomplished something remarkable—he brought some sorely needed reality therapy to the Palestinians.

Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, and finally, after 2,000 years, we have come home to our ancient homeland, where we are no longer passive agents in history, but free and active participants in determining our history. Yet Israel has been the one nation in the world that, up until Dec. 6, had been denied the freedom to choose its own capital and have it recognized by the international community and to have the nations of the world respect and honor that decision.

Of the 190 nations with which the U.S. has diplomatic relations, up until this week, Israel had been the only one whose capital had lacked recognition from America.

Contrary to what some of the State Department types have argued, this is not a concession to Israel. This is American law and has been so since 1995. Yes, prior presidents have taken advantage of a presidential waiver in the law, arguing that it is “not the right time.”

According to these stale State Department types, it is never the right time.

They argue that it will “destroy the peace process.” One might ask, “What peace process?”

The truth is that there has not been any peace process to speak of for at least a year. The latest round of official Israeli-Palestinian talks, held in 2013-2014, broke down under Secretary of State John Kerry because the Palestinian Authority (PA) refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, stated in December 2016 that recognizing Israel for what it is, a Jewish state, was “unacceptable.”

If Trump’s statement is going to cause mass violence, it is not the fault of the U.S. nor of Israel.  It is the fault of the Palestinians, who have not even recognized pre-1967 Israel in their textbooks, who teach that all of pre-1967 Israel will one day become “Palestine,” and who have television programs indoctrinating children that Haifa, Tel Aviv, and west Jerusalem will all someday be theirs.

On Nov. 29, 1947, prior to President Harry Truman recognizing Israel at the United Nations, people had told Truman that the recognition would only lead to mass rioting. What would have happened if Truman had listened?

The Arabs and Palestinians have always used the threat of violence as a negotiating tool. The longer we cower to the threat of violence, the more we reinforce that as a legitimate tool of negotiations.

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Either we have a policy and a law, or we do not. We should not change our policies to appease the most violent participants on the world stage. It simply does not work, but rather begets more violence.

By using appeasement, we do not gain the respect of the international community, nor of the Muslim and Arab world. As Osama bin Laden had said, “When someone sees a weak horse, and a strong horse, it is natural to bet on the strong horse.”

Those who argue otherwise are engaging in what the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan called the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” They are simply being patronizing to the Palestinians.

What message does that send to the Palestinian leadership when there are government spokesmen around the globe saying that we expect the Palestinians to engage in violence? We are giving them a pretense for violence and bloodshed, which eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Palestinians need to learn that no matter what dangerous illusions of conquest they are teaching their children, Israel will never cede its capital to Jerusalem—not after 3,000 years of history.

And they need to learn, once and for all, that Israel is here to stay.

In this way, Trump’s Dec. 6 speech was a sorely needed dose of reality therapy for the Palestinians.

Reprinted with author’s permission from EMET Online

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WATCH: India’s ‘Lost’ Jewish Tribe Lights Candles on First Night of Hanukkah

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 03:30

Thousands of members of the Bnei Menashe community from across northeastern India gathered on Tuesday night to light candles for the first night of Hanukkah.

“The story of the Maccabees’ heroic determination to preserve their Jewish identity resonates strongly with the Bnei Menashe, who – against all odds and with tremendous effort – have managed to cling to their faith and that of their ancestors through the centuries,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Even in far-off India, the flame of Jewish survival continues to burn brightly.”

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Freund added: “We pray that this will be the last Hanukkah they celebrate in India. Next year in Israel!”

The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire. Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) over the past 15 years, including more than 250 this year. Another 7,000 Bnei Menashe remain in India waiting for the chance to return home.

Bnei Menashe Jews light the menorah. (Courtesy Shavei Israel) Bnei Menashe Jews light the menorah. (Courtesy Shavei Israel)

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Europe’s War Against the Jewish State

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 03:00

Europe is the epicenter of the political war against Israel. Europe fights Israel on the streets of Europe. Europe fights Israel in the corridors of power in Brussels, other Western European capitals, and the UN. Europe fights Israel in Israel itself.

Europe’s war against Israel is a passive-aggressive campaign fought and denied simultaneously. But in recent years, the mask has fallen over and over again.

In the days that have passed since US President Donald Trump’s dramatic announcement that the US recognizes that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and is beginning to take concrete steps to move its embassy to the city, Europe’s war against Israel has again become impossible to deny or ignore. Europe’s response to Trump’s announcement has been extreme, violent and more outspoken than the response of the Arab world.

The EU-funded Palestinian Authority reacted to Trump’s move by exhorting its subjects to riot and attack Israelis.

Sunday, Yassin Abu el-Qura heeded his call. Qura stabbed Asher Elmalich in the heart and critically wounded him. Elmalich was a security guard at Jerusalem’s central bus station.

According to Channel 2, Qura is a member of a prominent family of Fatah members with close ties to the PA and its EU- and US-funded and trained security forces. His father is the commander of one of the security forces in Salfit, in Samaria. Two of his brothers are also PA security officers.

Around the same time, Qura was stabbing Elmalich, the British government announced it was providing the PA with 20 million pounds in supplemental budgetary funding.

Qura’s attack was notable because it took place against the backdrop of lackluster attendance at PA-organized protests. As former US Middle East mediator Aaron David Miller tweeted on Sunday, the low attendance at these demonstrations, like the low attendance at anti-US and anti-Israel demonstrations in the Arab world is an “indication of how much the region has changed [in recent years] and the loss of centrality of [the] Palestinian issue. [The] Palestinian street is exhausted; the Arab street has disappeared.”

But while the Arab street was indifferent to Trump’s declaration, the European street went berserk. Thousands of protesters assembled in London and Paris, in Berlin and Stockholm. They burned Israeli flags and called for the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews.

Physical attacks on Jews have been an integral component of the anti-Trump riots in Europe. Saturday night a group of 20 rioters firebombed a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden where Jewish children were holding a party. Friday a man clad in a keffiyeh attacked a Jewish restaurant in Amsterdam with a club while screaming Allahu Akbar.

European officials have refused to call these attacks hate crimes. As they see it, attacks against Jews in the name of hatred for Israel are totally justified.

For instance, as The Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reported in January, a German regional court found that perpetrators of a 2014 firebombing of a synagogue in Wuppertal had not committed a hate crime. Instead, the court ruled the Arab German perpetrators firebombed the synagogue as a result of their legitimate concern over Israel’s military operations against Hamas terrorists in Operation Protective Edge.

They all received suspended jail terms.

And whereas the Europeans refuse to condemn antisemitic attacks launched in the name of rejection of Israel, they rapidly condemned Trump for accepting Israel’s right to its capital city. Everyone who is everyone, including EU High Commissioner on Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed Trump for recognizing reality. They insisted he “endangered” prospects for peace and threatened to throw the region into “even darker times.”

Then there are the anti-Israel campaigns that the EU and its member states wage against Israel in Israel. In the aftermath of Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem last Wednesday, Israeli Arabs carried out violent riots in Wadi Ara, forcing the closure of sections of Highway 65 which connects Tiberias with central Israel. An Israeli girl was hospitalized after being wounded by rocks thrown at the passenger bus she was traveling in on Saturday night. A photographer for Yediot Aharonot was attacked and his motorcycle was smashed while he tried to report on the riots.

The EU has invested tens of millions of dollars radicalizing the Israeli Arab community in recent years. Organizations including Adalah, Baldana, Massowa, Zohrot and the Negev Coexistence Forum have indoctrinated, urged and paid Israeli Arabs to abandon their Israeli identity, view themselves as Palestinians and reject Israel’s right to exist.

Survey data shows that a large and growing majority of Israeli Arabs wish to integrate into the wider Israeli society. And yet, with effectively unlimited funding from European governments, radical, irredentist forces inside the Israeli Arab community have managed to intimidate their opponents into silence and incite their members to reject Israel.

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This then brings us to the EU’s role in subverting Israeli politics more generally. For the past several months, leftist political strategist and self-styled anti-corruption dragon slayer Eldad Yaniv has been leading a political campaign to demand that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted.

Yaniv’s campaign has involved weekly demonstrations against Netanyahu which are widely covered by the media.

Netanyahu’s supporters have repeatedly pointed to chants and placards at those demonstrations spending less time calling for Netanyahu to be indicted than they spend calling for him to be overthrown. That is, Netanyahu’s supporters allege Yaniv is manipulating the public by using unproven allegations of corruption to diminish public support for the government in the service of the radical Left.

Last Saturday’s demonstration in Tel Aviv bore out those allegations. Prominently displayed was a giant, brightly illuminated sign that read “BDS.” Radical demonstrators called for Israel to be destroyed and vowed never to defend “Zionism.”

According to an investigative report on the demonstration published Monday in Israel Hayom, among the demonstrations’ major financial backers and organizers are One Voice, a US-registered NGO that receives financial support from the EU, the British Muslim Organization and Labour Friends of Palestine. Other groups similarly receive money from EU governments and government-funded NGOs. In other words, according to the report, the EU is funding Israeli groups that are working openly to overthrow the democratically elected government of Israel.

On Sunday and Monday Netanyahu visited Paris and Brussels to confront Europe’s leaders and challenge their hostility toward Israel. He told his European hosts that their opposition to Trump’s recognition of reality in respect to Jerusalem was indefensible. Far from harming the cause of peace, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital advanced it. After all, there is no way a sustainable peace can be based on rejection of reality, he argued.

As the lukewarm responses Netanyahu received from the likes of Mogherini and Macron made clear, the Europeans behind the war against Israel have no intention of permitting reality to get in their way.

They aren’t waging their political war geared toward delegitimizing Israel internationally, even at the expense of their local Jewish communities, and subverting Israel’s government domestically to advance peace. They are doing it because they think their interests are served by waging war against Israel.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s trip to Europe and US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel later this week, the PA announced its leaders would boycott Pence in retaliation for Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. The Palestinian notion – supported by their Israeli far Left supporters – is that the EU should replace the US as the mediator.

During his meeting Sunday with Netanyahu, Macron rejected those suggestions. And that makes sense. Because even if he wanted to supplant the Americans, there is no chance he would succeed. Israel will never permit the Europeans to mediate anything. Their war against Israel internationally and inside of Israel itself has achieved one clear result. The Europeans have convinced Israelis not to trust them, not to admire them, and not to consider them friends.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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Tourism Minister: ‘Privilege’ to Protect Holy Sites for Nations, Expects 4M Tourists in 2018

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 02:30

Christian visitors to Israel will help boost tourism to record highs in the coming year, with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin expecting nearly 4 million total tourists in 2018, a half-a-million more than visited Israel this year.

Approximately 3.5 million visitors flocked to the Holy Land in 2017, with that number up from 2.8 million only two years ago. The Tourism Ministry is making a concentrated push towards focusing on Christian pilgrims, said Levin on Tuesday, investing in bringing pastors and other Evangelical leaders to Israel in hopes they will bring back the message of the Holy Land to their people, who will then come.

Israeli Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin (right) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Ioana Isac, the 3,000,000 tourist of this year, on November 7, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Speaking with Breaking Israel News at the Tourism Ministry’s annual Christmas and New Year’s reception in Jerusalem, which hosted top Christian dignitaries on the first night of Hanukkah, Levin explained that the Ministry works closely with tour guides and hotels that specialize in Christian tourism to help simplify the Israeli systems and bureaucracy for large Christian groups who want to visit.  

In top months, such as October – the month in which Jews and Christians gather in Israel to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot – there can be as many as 16,000 Christian tourists in the Holy Land, according to the Ministry.

Among event participants were His Eminence Archbishop Aristarcos of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate; Father Francesco Patton of Custos of the Holy Land; Father Koryoun Baghdasaryan, a representative of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate; and Dr. Jurgen Buhler, head of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ).

Between 10 to 15 percent of tourists are Evangelical Christians, said Levin, who believes there is potential for growth in the demographic. The Ministry in the last several years has put a focus on the Evangelical community, working year-round to engage its members in Israel travel.

Israeli Christian leaders at the Tourism Ministry’s event. (Maayan Hoffman/Breaking Israel News)


“An experience in Israel will change your life,” Levin told Breaking Israel News. “It influences the people around you and your family, and you need to do it and enjoy it.”

Levin said he believes two issues hold back Christian pilgrims from coming to the Holy Land. The first is security.

“There is a perception that Israel is a place with security problems,” said Levin. “When pilgrims come, they are surprised how safe it is here.”

Levin said that Israel has “the best abilities” to fight terror, but when it comes to personal safety, Israel is among the most secure in the world.

“You can go to the Tel Aviv beach at 2 am with no problem,” said Levin, citing one example. “We want Christians to understand they don’t have to be afraid.”

The second barrier is the belief that Israel is a holy and religious rite of passage, but not a great vacation spot.

“Of course, Israel is a place where pilgrims can come and pray and a place of religion, but Israel is also a great destination for a vacation,” said Levin.

 

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Levin noted that the weather in Israel is nice most of the year; in the spring and autumn, temperatures are still warm and sunny. Israel also has a burgeoning culinary scene, beautiful landscapes and stunning nature reserves.

“You can have a vacation with the added value of being able to fulfill your dream of visiting your holy places,” said Levin. “Tourism enriches people and brings them together.”

When President Donald Trump made his announcement last week recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, he said he hoped to see Evangelicals from around the world visiting the Holy Land.

Levin said he is eager to partner with the president in achieving this goal.

“I am sure millions of Christians around the world were as excited as us hearing that declaration,” Levin expressed to Breaking Israel News. “And I am sure that even those who still prefer to ignore the truth will soon understand that Israel’s right over Jerusalem is undeniable.”

There are no fewer than 50 million Evangelicals in America who, according to research, are convinced of the literal truth of Biblical prophecy. A recent survey found that 82 percent of white Evangelicals believe that God gave Israel to the Jewish people.

Christians recognize Jews’ Biblical connection to Jerusalem through King David’s establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of ancient Israel.

I chose Yerushalayim for My name to abide there, and I chose David to rule My people Yisrael. II Chronicles 6:6

Jerusalem is also the location of both the first and second Temples, and according to the prophets, Ezekiel and Isaiah, all Israel awaits the rebuilding of the Third Temple.

But Hashem will…again choose Yisrael, and will settle them on their own soil. And strangers shall join them and shall cleave to the House of Yaakov. Isaiah 14:1

Since the Jews retook Jerusalem 50 years ago after its prophetic victory against the Arabs in 1967 Six-Day War, there has been greater freedom of movement and access to Christian and Muslim holy sites than ever before, said ICEJ’s Buhler.

“I want to congratulate the city of Jerusalem on being recognized by at least one government,” said Buhler. “Everyone knows that for 70 years Jerusalem was already actually the capital of Israel. We all know that Jerusalem was and always will be the capital of the Jewish people.”

Levin said Israel does not take its duties to protect the holy city lightly and that he is proud to be part of the group of government officials who play a role in making the Holy Land welcoming for all the nations.

“It is not only our civic duty,” said Levin, “but rather a great privilege.”

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What the War Over Jerusalem is Really About

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 02:00

Hamas has announced that President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has opened the “gates of hell.” Its Muslim Brotherhood parent has declared America an “enemy state.”

The Arab League boss warned that the Jerusalem move “will fuel extremism and result in violence.” The Jordanian Foreign Minister claimed that it would “trigger anger” and “fuel tension.”

“Moderate” Muslim leaders excel at threatening violence on behalf of the “extremists”.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) warned that recognizing Jerusalem will trigger an Islamic summit and be considered a “blatant attack on the Arab and Islamic nations.”

The last time the OIC was this mad, someone drew Mohammed. And wasn’t stoned to death for it.

According to the Saudi ambassador, it will “heighten tensions”. The Deputy Prime Minister of Islamist Turkey called it a “major catastrophe”. And the leader of the largest Muslim country in Europe, France’s Emmanuel Macron “expressed concern” that America will “unilaterally recognize Jerusalem.”

PLO leaders and minions meanwhile made it quite clear that now the dead peace process is truly dead.

The Palestinian Authority’s boss warned that recognizing Jerusalem will “destroy the peace process”. The PLO’s envoy in D.C. threatened that it would be the “final lethal blow” and “the kiss of death to the two-state solution”. A top PA advisor claimed it “will end any chance of a peace process.”

A day later, the peace process is still as alive and as dead as it ever was.

Since the chance of a peace process is about the same as being hit by lightning while scoring a Royal Flush, that “chance” doesn’t amount to anything. The peace process has been deader than Dracula for ages. And even a PLO terrorist should know that you can’t threaten to kill a dead hostage.

The only kiss of death here came from Arafat.

Peace wasn’t killed though. It was never alive. Because a permanent peace is Islamically impossible.

“The world will pay the price,” warned Mahmoud Habash, the Palestinian Authority’s Supreme Sharia judge.

Habash isn’t just the bigwig of Islamic law, he’s also the Islamic adviser to the leader of the Palestinian Authority. And Abbas, the terror organization’s leader, was there when Habash made his remarks.

Previously Habash had declared that the Kotel, the Western Wall of the fallen Temple, the holiest site in Judaism, “can never be for non-Muslims. It cannot be under the sovereignty of non-Muslims.”

While the official warnings from the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League, and assorted other Islamic organizations have claimed that recognizing Jerusalem threatens the non-existent peace process, Habash had in the past had made it quite clear that the issue wasn’t land, it was Jihad.

“The struggle over this land is not merely a struggle over a piece of land here or there. Not at all. The struggle has the symbolism of holiness or blessing. It is a struggle between those whom Allah has chosen for Ribat and those who are trying to mutilate the land of Ribat,” Habash had declared.

Ribat means that Israel is a frontier outpost between the territories of Islam and the free world. The Muslim terrorists who call themselves “Palestinians” have, according to the Abbas adviser, been chosen for “Ribat” to stand guard on the Islamic frontier and expand the territories of Islam.

The sense of Ribat is that the Jihadists may not yet be able to win a definitive victory, but must maintain their vigilance for the ultimate goal, which a Hadith defines as performing Ribat “against my enemy and your enemy until he abandons his religion for your religion.”

That is what’s at stake here.

It’s not about a “piece of land here or there”, as the PA’s top Sharia judge clarifies, it’s a religious war. And Israel is not just a religious war between Muslims and Jews, but a shifting frontier in the larger war between Islam and the rest of the world. It’s another territory to be conquered on the way to Europe. And Europe is another territory to be conquered on the way to America.

There can be no peace in a religious war. Nor is there anything to negotiate.

“It isn’t possible to compromise on or negotiate over Jerusalem,” Habash had said. “In politics, there can be compromises here and there… In politics, there can be a negotiation. However, in matters of religion, faith, values, ethics, and history, there can be no compromises.”

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There’s an extremely thin line in Islamic theocracy between politics and religion. But what Habash is really saying is that there might be room to negotiate how many times a week the garbage truck comes to pick up the trash, but not who gives him the orders. Islamic supremacism is non-negotiable.

The Supreme Sharia judge warned Trump that moving the embassy is “a declaration of war on all Muslims.” Why all Muslims? Because the “Palestinians” are a myth. Islamic conquests are collective.

And it’s not as if any of the Muslim leaders disagree.

Why is Jerusalem their business? It’s not empathy for the “Palestinians”. Kuwait ethnically cleansed huge numbers of them. They aren’t treated all that much better in other Arab Muslim countries.

It’s not about them. The Muslim settlers in Israel are just there as “Ribat”. They’re the frontier guard of the Islamic conquest. Much like the Sharia patrols in the No-Go Zones of Europe or the Jihadists in Kashmir, the Rohingya in Burma and all the other Islamic Volksdeutsche variants of occupying colonists.

Sunni may fight Shiite. Muslim countries, tribes, and clans may war with each other. But the land they’re fighting over belongs to all of them collectively.

It can never belong to non-Muslims. That is the essence of Islam where conquest is religion.

That’s true of Jerusalem. And of the entire world.

That is what is truly at stake in the war over Jerusalem. When countries refuse to move their embassies to Jerusalem, they are submitting to Sharia law and Islamic supremacism. The issue at stake is the same one as drawing Mohammed. It’s not about a “piece of land”. It’s about the supremacy of Islam.

Refusing to move the embassy doesn’t prevent violence. Islamic terrorism continues to claim lives in Jerusalem. And Islamic violence has been a constant before Israel liberated Jerusalem or before there was even a free Israel. The Arab League, the Jordanians, the Saudis and the rest of the gang aren’t promising an end to the violence. Instead, they warn that if we don’t obey, it will grow worse.

That’s not diplomacy. It’s a hostage crisis.

President Trump made the right decision by refusing to let our foreign policy be held hostage. We don’t win by giving in to terrorists.

We win by resisting them. Or else we’ll have to live our lives as hostages of Islamic terror.

Jerusalem is a metaphor. Every free country has its own Jerusalem. In America, it’s the First Amendment. Our Jerusalem is not just a piece of land, it’s a value. And the Islamic Jihad seeks to intimidate us into giving it up until, as the Hadith states, we abandon our religion for Islam.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem will do much more for America than it will for Israel.

The Israelis already know where their capital is. We need to remember where we left our freedom. Islamic terrorists win when they terrorize us into being too afraid to do the right thing.

President Trump sent a message to the terrorists that America will not be terrorized.

Previous administrations allowed the terrorists to decide where we put our embassy. But Trump has made it clear that we won’t let Islamic terrorists decide where we put our embassies, what cartoons we will draw or how we live our lives. That is what real freedom means.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Sultan Knish Blog

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Why Did Islamic State Kill So Many Sufis in Sinai?

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 01:00

A 2007 report by the Rand Corporation advised Western governments to “harness” Sufism, saying its adherents were “natural allies of the West.”

In the end, the Sufi parties are outnumbered by those of their Salafi opponents, meaning that the brotherhoods and the wider Sufi-oriented public must look to the state for protection. In that context, it is important to stress that the massacre in Sinai was not simply another Islamic State attack on people it considered heretics (effectively, in their interpretation of Shari’a law, non-believers), but an assault on everyday mainstream Islam in Egypt, a declaration of apostasy for the vast majority of Egyptian Muslims.

The massive November 24 terrorist attack by Islamic State on a Sufi mosque in a town of little importance, Bir al-Abd, in northern Sinai, resounded across the world. Despite the presence of members of the security services, the al-Rawda mosque also serves as the local headquarters of a prominent Sufi Brotherhood founded by the local al-Jarir clan, a branch of the powerful Al-Sawarkah tribe. The number of dead, somewhat over 300, were shockingly high, yet not higher than the tolls in two earlier Islamic State massacres. In 2014, IS fighters killed 700 men of the Shu’aytat tribe in Dayr al-Zur. “Over a three-day period, vengeful fighters shelled, beheaded, crucified and shot hundreds of members of the Shaitat tribe after they dared to rise up against the extremists.” In 2016, a series of bombings in Karrada, a Shi’i district of Baghdad, took some 347 lives.

Islamic State — though defeated in Syria and Iraq — remains a major threat in many parts of the world. Its fighters returning to Europe have carried out attacks in Brussels and Paris, and yet others have been welcomed back by naïve government agencies who hope to make them into innocent citizens again by rewarding them with benefits and housing.

In a stunning list of attacks, CNN has identified Islamic State as a global threat: Since declaring itself a caliphate in June 2014, the self-proclaimed “State” has conducted or inspired over 140 terrorist attacks in 29 countries in addition to Iraq and Syria, where its carnage has taken a much deadlier toll. Those attacks have killed and wounded thousands of people.

The massacre at Bir al-Abed is not the first time Islamic State has attacked a Sufi shrine or mosque, nor is it the first time Sufi Muslims have been attacked by Salafi hardliners. Everything and everyone deemed by IS leaders to be “unIslamic” or “insufficiently Islamic” are eligible to be killed or demolished. Ancient sites in Syria; Shi’i Muslims, their mosques and shrines in Iraq; and Yazidis in northern Syria and Iraq have all been the objects of major attacks, in many ways echoing similar massacres by the Wahhabis of Arabia in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

It is easy to trace the recent attack to deep-seated Islamic intolerance, both scriptural and traditional. But the massacre in Sinai raises particular concerns missed by much of the media outside Egypt itself. Fundamentalist Muslims certainly do regard Sufis, Shi’is, Ahmadis, and believers in post-Islamic movements such as the Baha’is, or even followers of reformist trends of Islam as apostates worthy of death as much as they regard Hindus, Buddhists, Yazidis, Sikhs and others as targets for Muslim outrage.

Sufism, however, is more difficult to define, especially in Egypt. The Sufi form of Islam is not and has never been a sect that has broken away from the mainstream faith. Sufis believe in exactly the same things other Muslims believe. Its intellectuals and poets down the centuries have developed mystical and metaphysical ideas that have elevated Islam above its basic origins, producing some of the most outstanding thinkers in the religion. But many of these mystics have served as authorities on Islamic law, as judges, and as government officials.

From the 12th century, Sufis established growing numbers of religious brotherhoods that took Islamic practice in new directions. Sufis perform the daily prayers in mosques the same as all other Muslims. Sufis fast and go on pilgrimages just as anyone else. In the past, they would fight in jihad wars alongside (and even in advance of) others, often building their sacred centres on the borders. Most Sufis are Sunnis: there are very few Shi’i brotherhoods.

In due course, Sufism spread to every corner of the Muslim world, with particular concentrations across North Africa and the Indian sub-continent. The originally Moroccan Shadhili order remains influential as far as South Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Indonesia. One of its several branches is based in Yemen, with followers in Pakistan, India, and Myanmar. Another branch has followers in Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United States.

In 19th-century Egypt, virtually every Muslim belonged to one Sufi order or another. Clearly, it is not a negligible sect. In modern Egypt, 20% or more of the Muslim population belongs to a brotherhood, but Egyptians in general visit Sufi shrines on festivals, pray at the tombs of Sufi saints, and engage with Sufis without any great sense of difference, sharing mosques, schools, clubs, and more simply as fellow believers in Islam. According to Jonathan Brown, writing for the Carnegie Foundation: “Sufism should be seen as the default setting of Muslim religious life in Egypt”.

In a recent article for The Atlantic, H. A. Hewllyer makes this point even more strongly:

Until relatively recently, it would have been unthinkable for students in Muslim communities to consider Sufism anything other than an integral part of a holistic Islamic education. The essentials of theology, practice, and spirituality — that is, Sufism — were deemed basic, core elements of even elementary Islamic instruction. And religious figures known for their commitment to Sufism would not have been considered a minority; they would have been by far the norm. Indeed, the very label of an Egyptian “Sufi minority” being bandied about since the mosque attack is a peculiar one: Sufism isn’t a sect — it’s integral to mainstream Sunni Islam.

Most notably, the head of Cairo’s al-Azhar University, regarded as the most important Sunni institution of religious authority and Islamic law in the world, is always a Sufi shaykh. Egypt’s Grand Mufti is also a leading Sufi practitioner. The Supreme Council of Sufi Orders deals with the brotherhoods at state level, as a quasi-governmental organization. This alone indicates that Sufism is very far from being a sectarian form of Islam. It may be forbidden in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, persecuted in Iran, and hated by hardliners in Pakistan, but to most Egyptians, it is a part of everyday life.

The head of Cairo’s al-Azhar University, regarded as the most important Sunni institution of religious authority and Islamic law in the world, is always a Sufi shaykh. To most Egyptians, Sufism is a part of everyday life. Pictured: Shaykh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the current Grand Imam of al-Azhar and former president of al-Azhar University. (Photo by Steffi Loos/Getty Images)

After the revolution to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak, starting on January 25, 2011, the political situation in Egypt changed markedly. For a full year, Muslim Brotherhood-supported Mohamed Morsi served as president and rapidly shifted the country to a virtual Islamist state. In 2013, however, he was ousted in a coup led by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who became president the following year. When that happened, Egyptian Sufis placed their trust in al-Sisi to protect them from the Salafi extremists, who had been assaulting them and their holy places for many years.[1]

During this period, a more contentious political arrangement emerged, with the formation of new parties and the banning of others. The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, which had won a massive 47.2% of votes in parliament in the 2011-2012 elections, was banned in 2014. But other radical Salafist parties emerged, forming an Islamist Bloc, in which the al-Nour party is now the largest. There were over eleven such parties, and though a lawsuit designed to ban them and other religious parties was files in 2013, it did not succeed.

For all their mystical values, Sufis have never been altogether apolitical. They are often involved in military and revolutionary activities. In Egypt, as early as 2011, some Sufi political parties were formed, beginning with the Egyptian Liberation Party (Hizb al-tahrir al-Misri).[2] The Rifa’i Order, one of the largest, created the smaller Sawt al-Hurriyya (Voice of Freedom) party. The Egyptian Liberation Party is strongly supported by the ‘Azmiyya Order, but numbers in its ranks Armenians, Muslims, Copts, and Nubians. Its members have also marched alongside Coptic Christians calling for equal rights. Designed to protect the Sufi brotherhoods and the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, it is portrayed as a reformist civic party. Its political and socio-economic policies would fit well in any Western democracy, and its opposition to extremism and violence presents a real challenge to its Salafi opponents. Indeed, a 2007 report by the Rand Corporation advised Western governments to “harness” Sufism, saying its adherents were “natural allies of the West.”

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The Egyptian Liberation Party and Sufis generally have been broadly supportive of President al-Sisi. At a conference in Cairo this April, the head of the ‘Azmiyya Order, Shaykh ‘Alaa Abu’l-‘Azayem, told a journalist from Al-Monitor:

“I have told President [Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi to take care of the Sufi leaders. We are the ones who stand against terrorism, fighting not with weapons but ideas.”

This is not to say that the new political activism of some orders has been universally accepted by the Sufi community as a whole. The Grand Shaykh of the Orders, ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Qassabi, has been highly critical of the shift from spirituality into politics, and further rifts have followed.

In the end, the Sufi parties are outnumbered by those of their Salafi opponents, meaning that the brotherhoods and the wider Sufi-oriented public must look to the state for protection. In that context, it is important to stress that the massacre in Sinai was not simply another Islamic State attack on people it considered heretics (effectively, in their interpretation of Shari’a law, non-believers), but an assault on everyday mainstream Islam in Egypt, a declaration of apostasy for the vast majority of Egyptian Muslims.

As the core constituency for the Muslim Brotherhood and a major centre for Salafi Islam, Egypt cannot afford further divisions within its society. A breakdown of its present consensus could lead to wider strife. With Islamic State active in LibyaSinai, and Sudan — already a radicalized country; with Syria in a state of collapse and Lebanon in peril, controlled by Hizbullah, Gaza still controlled by Hamas, Turkey increasingly radical, IS increasingly active in Jordan, and Israel stuck in the middle, the stability of Egypt is paramount for Middle East peace. Should the Salafis allied to the Muslim Brotherhood and linked to Islamic State in Sinai take control of Egypt, we may be sure that the fragile peace treaty the country maintains with Israel will collapse. It is at all costs essential that that must not happen, not just for the sake of Israel, but for the benefit of the vast majority of the Egyptian public, as well as for the region.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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After IDF Retaliates to Gaza Rocket Fire, Hamas Vows More Attacks in ‘Coming Days’

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 00:03

The IDF attacked several of the Hamas terror group’s positions in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday night, after several rockets were launched from the territory at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.

The IDF tweeted that it “holds the Hamas terror organization accountable for this hostile act originating in the Gaza Strip.”

Following the retaliatory Israeli strikes, Hamas warned that “the enemy must be afraid and know it will pay a price for breaking the rules of engagement with the Gaza resistance.”

“The coming days will prove the enormity of the enemy’s mistake and miscalculation as to the resistance’s willpower,” the Gaza-ruling terror group threatened.

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The rockets from Gaza were fired over Ashkelon around midnight and set off Code Red sirens in the city as well as in several other Israeli communities in the vicinity of Gaza, including Berekhya, Hodaya, Mash’en, Nir Yisrael, Beit Shikma, Bat Hadar, Ge’a, Zikim, Karmia, and Yad Mordechai.

One of the rockets was intercepted by the Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Explosions were heard in the area, but no injuries or damage were reported.

Monday night’s rocket fire from Gaza followed a similar incident early Monday morning in which a rocket fired from the territory exploded in an open area in Israel’s Eshkol Regional Council.

Last week, Hamas called for a violent uprising in response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Islam’s Three Worst Doctrines

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 00:00

Because Islam gets criticized for many things — from hostility to modernity and democracy to calls for theocratic rule, radical “patriarchy,” misogyny, and draconian punishments, to name a few — it is helpful to step back and distinguish between those (many) doctrines that affect Muslim society alone, and those that extend to and affect Western or non-Muslim peoples in general. In doing this, three interrelated doctrines come into sharp focus.    They are: 1) total disavowal from, and enmity for, “the infidel,” that is, constant spiritual or metaphysical hostility against the non-Muslim (in Arabic known as al-wala’ w’al bara, or “loyalty and enmity”); this naturally manifests itself as 2) jihad, that is, physical hostility against and—whenever and wherever possible—attempts to subjugate the non-Muslim); finally, successful jihads lead to 3) dhimmitude, the degrading position of conquered non-Muslims who refuse to forfeit their religious freedom by converting to the victor’s creed.

Loyalty and Enmity

There is no doubt that mainstream Islam advocates the separation of Muslims from non-Muslims, believers from infidels, clean from unclean.  Koran 5:51 warns Muslims against “taking the Jews and Christians as friends and allies … whoever among you takes them for friends and allies, he is surely one of them,” that is, he too becomes an infidel, or kafir, the worst human classification in Islam.  Koran 3:28, 4:89, 4:144, 5:54, 6:40, 9:23 all have the same message; 58:22 simply states that true Muslims do not befriend non-Muslims—“even if they are their fathers, sons, brothers, or kin.”   But Koran verses further call on Muslims to have enmity—hate—for non-Muslims: “We [Muslims] renounce you [non-Muslims]. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—till you believe in Allah alone” (Koran 60:4).  As the Islamic State explained in an unambiguously titled article, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You,”  “We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers.”

The flipside of al-wala’ w’al bara is that Muslims are commanded to befriend and aid fellow Muslims—including jihadis, for example through funds (or zakat).  As one Muslim authority summarizes, the believer “is obligated to befriend a believer—even if he is oppressive and violent toward you—while he must be hostile to the infidel—even if he is liberal and kind to you” (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 64 ).  This loyalty to fellow Muslims and enmity for non-Muslims is fundamentally responsible for the metaphysical or “spiritual” clash between Islam and the West.  Add to enmity the fact that Muslims are permitted to lie to non-Muslims—including by feigning loyalty or friendship—and it becomes apparent how dangerous the doctrine of “loyalty and enmity” is: among other things, disloyalty to infidels (see herehere, and here for examples), and a “mafia mentality,” whereby all Muslims must overtly or covertly work together, suggests that hostility for non-Muslims, even when unseen, is ever-present.

Jihad

Jihad—war on non-Muslims for no less a reason than that they are non-Muslims—is the physical manifestation or realization of enmity for “infidels.”  Not only is it natural to attack and seek to subjugate those whom one is bred on hating, but the doctrine of jihad, including to spread and enforce Sharia around the world, is part and parcel of Islam; it is no less codified than Islam’s Five Pillars. As the Encyclopaedia of Islam’s entry for “jihad” puts it, the “spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general … Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam … Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated.”

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One can continue quoting any number of authorities, especially Muslims, saying that jihad to subjugate the world is an ironclad aspect of Islam.  Even the late Osama bin Laden—who would have had the West believe that al-Qaeda’s terror is a byproduct of political grievances—when speaking in Arabic to Muslims made it perfectly clear that the doctrine of jihad is the root problem: “Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue… Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam… Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die.”

Dhimmitude

But as infidels are to be hated per se and not merely in the context of jihad—the ability of which to prosecute is often curtailed by circumstances—the hostility continues even after the cessation of successful jihads.  Unlike other conquerors and conquests that generally permit the conquered to go on unmolested so long as they do not challenge the new order—some even try to appease and win over their new subjects—whenever and wherever Islam conquers, that old metaphysical hostility which fueled the jihad remains to gloat in triumph over the subject infidels.  Thus, not only must the latter pay a special tax (jizya), embrace a subordinate position, and follow a number of debilitations—they must also be reminded and made to feel inferior and despised, including as a way to “inspire” them to convert to the “true” faith.

As the Islamic State explained in the aforementioned article, regardless of any and all appeasement offered by the non-Muslim, “we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you.”  Either way, Islam wins:   If the non-Muslim continues in his faith, the Muslims continue to prey off him; if on the other hand, the non-Muslim eventually “surrenders” to Islam, the umma gains a new recruit (with death as the penalty should he later entertain second thoughts and apostatize).

Reprinted with author’s permission from Raymond Ibrahim

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