Thursday, November 21, 2019

11 killed as Israel strikes over 20 Iranian, Syrian regime targets - Anna Ahronheim, Idan Zonshine

by Anna Ahronheim, Idan Zonshine

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett to Iran: You are no longer immune. Wherever you stretch your tentacles-we will hack them off.

IAF attacks Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, November 20, 2019 (photo credit: YEDIOT M'HASHETACH (TELEGRAM))
IAF attacks Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, November 20, 2019
Israel warned Iran from carrying out further attacks against the Jewish State after Israeli Air Force fighter jets carried out a wave of retaliatory air strikes against dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds Force (IRGC) and the Syrian army on Tuesday night in Syria.
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said following the strikes that "the rules have changed: Anyone who shoots at the State of Israel during the day will not sleep at night. Like last week and now this week.  Our message to Iran's leaders is simple: You are no longer immune. Wherever you stretch your tentacles-we will hack them off. The IDF will continue to protect Israeli citizens "
According to a senior official in Israel’s Defense Establishment, the “head of the Iranian octopus” sits in Tehran but continues to attempt to surround Israel with proxy groups-Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iranian militias in Syria, Islamic Jihad and to some extent Hamas. 

“We have not yet threatened the head of the octopus - Tehran. But it is possible to start approaching the head of the Iranian octopus,” he warned.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters on Wednesday the tens of targets struck in Damascus, west of Damascus and the Syrian Golan Heights overnight belonging  both to the regime of Bashar al-Assad and Quds Force were carried out within minutes and were all located within 80 kilometers of Israel’s border.

While the launchers which fired the rockets on Tuesday morning were not struck, some 20 other targets struck included advanced air defense systems (not the Russian-made S-300 missile defense batteries), surface-to-air missiles, reconnaissance sites and warehouses, the National Defense Building at the Damascus International Airport which houses the Quds Force headquarters and other military positions.

According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 11 people, including seven non-Syrians who are most likely Iranians, were killed in the Israeli airstrikes. The senior Israel defense official acknowledged that there were injuries and a number of Iranian fatalities. 

Numerous others were injured, including a young woman who was wounded by shrapnel that hit the suburb of Qudsaya, west of Damascus. “We express the wish for a speedy recovery for them,” the Assad government said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.

 According to the senior Israeli defense official, the strikes were one of the largest which struck Iranian targets in Syria and was finalized Tuesday night by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi at the Kirya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv.

“Iran struck Israel, we can’t forget that. Iran attacked Israel and that’s not acceptable,” he continued, saying that Israel will strike harshly without giving any warning if attacked in the future.

“We are changing the rules. Even when it comes to almost negligible attacks, whose impact is small, we are changing the equation and our retaliatory attack will be widespread. When I looked at the South when a small number of rockets are fired and we respond with a small retaliatory strike, then that sort of situation gets to be acceptable. We have to strike harshly to all attacks,” the official said, noting the link of the assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa abu al-Ata in Gaza and the rockets of yesterday.

According to the senior officer in the defense establishment, the National Defense Building, which used to be a hotel, was a center for the Quds force. 

“We will not let Iran entrench in Syria,” Zilberman said, adding that the IDF “is prepared to respond harshly to further attacks if necessary.  We will not accept an Iranian force near our borders and will continue to work against it.”

Local Syrian media reported that two residential buildings were also struck from shrapnel from a Syrian air defense missile fired towards Israeli jets, sending one family including two children to hospital. Syria responded quickly to the airstrikes, publishing numerous photos and According to SANA, Damascus promised to provide assistance to those who suffered the “brutal Israeli aggression” by repairing the homes of those affected.

It said that help would arrive immediately to those areas struck, with rescue teams sent to clear rubble in the village of Beit Saber in the Sasa district south of Damascus where a house was destroyed. According to SOHR, a man along with his wife and son were pulled from the rubble of the home Ambulances and fire engines were sent to other areas. 

"During the attack, Syrian air missiles were fired, despite a clear warning that was ignored. As a result, several Syrian aerial defense batteries were destroyed," the IDF said.

While the main goal were Iranian targets, the official said, the secondary goal were six air-to-ground missile batteries belonging to the Syrian regime  “to maintain freedom of action and protect our pilots.

"While the IDF Spokesperson stressed that no special instructions for the North have been given, the military was prepared for three possible scenarios: no response, a minor response, and a more significant response.

"The IDF is highly prepared for a variety of scenarios and will continue to operate as required for the security of the citizens of the State of Israel. The Home Front Command instructions should be obeyed if required.

"The strike which began around 1AM on Wednesday morning was carried out in response to four rockets which the IDF said were launched by an Iranian force from Syrian territory towards northern Israeli territory in the early hours of Tuesday morning. 

All rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, causing no damage or injuries. 

"The Iranian attack against Israeli territory yesterday is further proof of the current Iranian purpose in Syria. Their presence in the region is a danger to Israel's security, regional stability and to the Syrian regime,” the military said. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement following the attack, saying in it that "I made it clear that whoever harms us - we will harm them."

"That is what we did tonight in Syria against Iranian Quds Force targets and Syrian military targets, after rockets were fired from its territory towards Israel. We will continue to aggressively guard the security of Israel."

Syrian news agency Sana reported that Syrian regime air defense systems were able to intercept some of the 11 of the 18 missiles fired by a total of 6 jets before they were able to reach their targets.

According to SANA,  regime defenses came under “a heavy attack” by Israeli fighter jets that targeted the Damascus area from the Israeli Golan Heights and Lebanese airspace near the town of Marjayoun.

Israel has been carrying out a war-between-wars campaign since 2013 in an attempt to prevent Iran and its proxies like Hezbollah from obtaining advanced weapons to use against the Jewish state and from entrenching itself in Syria.

Thousands of strikes have been carried out over the years in Syria and according to foreign reports has seen strikes in neighboring Iraq. 

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have warned in recent weeks of the increased threat posed by the Islamic Republic which they say is getting bolder and more willing to respond to Israeli attacks on Iranian and Iranian-backed militias and infrastructure. 

Seth Frantzman contributed to this report.

Anna Ahronheim, Idan Zonshine


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Time to accept the truth - Eli E. Hertz

by Eli E. Hertz

Use of the phrase “Occupied Palestinian Territories” is a disingenuous term that misleads the international community and encouraged Palestinian Arabs to use all measures to attack Israel, including the use of terrorism. Lies can kill.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated yesterday that the current American government does not consider Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to be in violation of international law. In light of this important announcement, it is vital to understand the long, historical precedent behind this decision.

The Mandate for Palestine, a historical League of Nations document, laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, a 10,000- square-miles area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. 

The Mandate’s roots can be traced to the founding of modern Zionism in August 1897 and the Balfour Declaration of November 2nd, 1917.

After witnessing the spread of anti-Semitism around the world, Theodor Herzl felt compelled to create a political movement with the goal of establishing a Jewish National Home in historic Palestine, and assembled the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. During World War I, Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour simply expressed Great Britain’s view with favor for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

n contrast, the Mandate is the multilateral binding agreement which laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in the geographical area called Palestine, the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law.

The Mandate was not a naive vision briefly embraced by the international community. The entire League of Nations [Today the United Nations] – 51 countries – unanimously declared on July 24th, 1922: “Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

The Mandate clearly differentiates between political rights referring to Jewish self-determination as an emerging polity—and civil and religious rights, referring to guarantees of equal personal freedoms to non-Jewish residents as individuals and within select communities. Not once are Arabs as a people mentioned in the Mandate for Palestine. Nowhere in the document is there any granting of political rights to Arabs.

Selective Articles from the Mandate for Palestine:

Article 2. Calls to place the country “Under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.”

Article 4. Calls for “An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognised as a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and, subject always to the control of the Administration to assist and take part in the development of the country.

The Zionist organization, so long as its organization and constitution are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, shall be recognised as such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Britannic Majesty’s Government to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home.

Article 5. Clearly states that "The Mandatory [Great Britain] shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign power." The territory of Palestine was exclusively assigned for the Jewish National Home.

Article 6. of the “Mandate for Palestine” document, states that “the Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”

Accordingly, Article 6, makes it clear that Jewish settlements are not only permissible, but actually encouraged. Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (i.e., the 'West Bank') are perfectly legal. The use of the phrase “Occupied Palestinian Territories” is a disingenuous term that misleads the international community, while encouraging Palestinian Arabs, with the right to use all measures to attack Israel, including the use of terrorism.

The Mandate was subsequently protected by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter

Article 80 recognizes the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments including those adopted by the League of Nations. The International Court of Justice has consistently recognized that the Mandate survived the demise of the League of Nations.

Legal arguments aside, it is worth noting that the Arabs never established a Palestinian state when the UN in 1947 recommended to partition Palestine, and to establish “an Arab and a Jewish state” - not a Palestinian state, it should be noted. Nor did the Arab countries recognize or establish a Palestinian state during the two decades prior to the Six-Day War when the' West Bank' was under Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control. Nor did the Palestinian Arabs clamor for autonomy, independence, or self-determination during those years.

It is important to point out that political rights to self-determination as a polity for Arabs were guaranteed by the same League of Nations in four other mandates—in Lebanon and Syria [The French Mandate], Iraq, and later Trans Jordan [The British Mandate]. 

Jewish Rights to Palestine were Internationally Guaranteed

In the first Report of the High Commissioner on the Administration of Palestine 1920-1925 presented to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, published in April 1925, Herbert Louis Samuel the most senior official of the Mandate, underscored how international guarantees for the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine were achieved:

“The [Balfour] Declaration was endorsed at the time by several of the Allied Governments; it was reaffirmed by the Conference of the Principal Allied Powers at San Remo in 1920; it was subsequently endorsed by unanimous resolutions of both Houses of the Congress of the United States; it was embodied in the Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations in 1922; it was declared, in a formal statement of policy issued by the Colonial Secretary in the same year, ‘not to be susceptible of change.”

Eli E. Hertz is the president of Myths and Facts, an organization devoted to research and publication of information regarding US interests in the world and particularly in the Middle East. Mr. Hertz served as Chairman of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting.


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Time to Support the Iranian Protestors - Bruce Thornton

by Bruce Thornton

Is this our last chance to stop Iran without lethal force?

While we continue to waste our attention on the carnival attraction known as the impeachment hearings, protests against the mullahcracy have engulfed major cities in Iran. Rather than repeat Barack Obama’s appeasing silence in 2009, and his ignoring explicit calls for support from the beacon of liberty, we need to be bold in our support for the protestors, and even bolder in actions that will back up our words.

The precipitating event that has intensified long-running protests has been a 50% increase in fuel prices. This blow to everyday people’s budgets comes a year after President Trump withdrew the US from the Iran deal, and imposed tougher sanctions on the regime, reducing revenues from the sale of oil. But it’s the actions of the mullahs that are to blame. They took Obama’s bribes to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and have squandered them on developing missiles, spinning centrifuges, and financing jihadists in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq under the noses of American troops.

For Iran, this geopolitical jihadist adventurism is nothing new. Indeed, for 40 years it has been at the heart of Iranian foreign policy. The architect of the revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini, proclaimed, “We shall export our revolution to the whole world. Until the cry ‘There is no god but Allah’ resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle,” i.e. jihad.  His successors have been true to that goal, one dismissed by our foreign policy savants who blame Israel or the sins of colonialism instead of recognizing this 14-century-long religious motive documented in Islamic law, doctrine, and long record of invasion, conquest, colonizing, slaving, raiding, and occupation. True to Khomeini’s words, for forty years the mullahs have shed the blood of Americans with impunity.

The JCPOA that opened the road to Iranian nukes has been a disaster, an appeasement whose consequences still may, if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, rival that of the French and British at the Munich conference in 1938. Trump’s withdrawal from that malign agreement was an important first step. But NATO allies like France and Germany, whom the devotees of the “rules-based international order” ritually praise, have been sluggish, if not obstructive, in participating fully in our efforts to rein in the regime.

For example, they have tried to create financial work-arounds to lessen the effectiveness of the sanctions. Just this July, our Treasury Department had to warn the Europeans to stop developing Instex, “designed to avoid using international financial institutions that could be vulnerable to U.S. sanctions. Instead, it avoids sending money to Iran by using a virtual ledger to match imports and exports. Thus, a European company wanting to import Iranian oil would pay a second European company exporting a product to Iran, such that dollars need never be sent to Tehran,” according to the Washington Examiner. Even more despicable, France has talked about giving Iran a “$15 billion line of credit to allow Iran to sell its oil abroad despite US sanctions,” the AP has reported.

And the Europeans have been tepid to their response to the revelations of Iran’s nuclear efforts, including the mullah’s recent boast that they are using 40 advanced centrifuges to create weapons-grade material ten-times more quickly than their existing centrifuges–– its third known violation of the deal. This comes after Iran’s increased enrichment to 4.5%, exceeding the 3.67% allowed by the JCPOA, and went beyond the 300-kilogram cap on low-enriched uranium, according to AP. And it has reopened its underground Fordow uranium facility, forbidden by the treaty. Along with its more advanced centrifuges, Iran has significantly lessened the amount of time needed for a nuclear breakout.

Nor have the Europeans forcefully responded to Iran’s seizing oil tankers, taking crews captive, and shooting down drones. But this feckless behavior is nothing new for our allies: The American embassy hostage crisis in 1979, when an appeal to our NATO allies for a trade embargo was met with equivocation and delay; the run-up to the second Gulf War in 2003, when European diplomats suborned the non-permanent UN Security Council members to vote down a resolution supporting the removal of Saddam Hussein; the failure of NATO countries to spend even a modest 2% of GDP on their military preparedness; and now the undermining of US efforts to prevent an apocalyptic cult from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Such actions all confirm that despite all the high-flown globalist rhetoric, multinational treaties, and transnational institutions, sovereign nations pursue their national interests first, including doing business with an international outlaw.

In all fairness, though, we haven’t done enough either to concentrate the mullah’s minds, hewing to a strategy of “maximum pressure” that presumably will bring the mullah’s to the bargaining table, or precipitate regime collapse. It’s time for that strategy to be beefed up with action. Trump needs to put Europe’s feet to the fire and make it clear that continuing to do business with Iran will mean economic sanctions will be imposed on companies that do so. He needs to end the remaining sanctions-waivers given to Chinese, Russian, and some European companies doing “work at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant, the Fordow enrichment facility, the Arak nuclear complex and the Tehran Research Reactor.” And he should pressure the Europeans to trigger the “snap back” UN sanctions, a provision of the existing treaty to which Iran and the Europeans still belong.

More immediately, the president needs to make a strong public statement in support of the protestors, and pressure our allies to do the same. There has been bipartisan criticism of Trump for not being more aggressive in taking China to task, but military options against China are few. Iran, however, is not a superpower, and there we do have kinetic options for concentrating their minds. We also should, if we haven’t already, work on developing contacts with Iranian resistance leaders and providing them with whatever assets are feasible. And we should be infiltrating and developing intelligence assets. It’s a bit embarrassing for the world’s mightiest power that tiny, beleaguered Israel is more adept at intelligence gathering, last April acquiring and publicizing reams of Iranian secret nuclear documents detailing the mullah’s serial violations of the JCPOA.

The theocratic regime has been relentlessly progressing to the creation of nuclear weapons, and we don’t know for sure how close or far they are from success. Historically, inspections protocols have not been able to stop a determined adversary, from Germany’s stealth rearmament program in the early Twenties that violated with impunity the Versailles Treaty prohibitions of German remilitarization, to North Korea’s decades-long shell-game with international inspectors, and serial violations of multiple agreements. Treaties and other non-lethal means of changing rogue behavior are “like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through,” as Jonathon Swift described laws.

Sooner or later, action will have to be taken to stop Iran. The present discontent of its people offers an opportunity to take perhaps the last chance to stop Iran without lethal force––if we give Iranians our vigorous support, and pressure the Europeans to stop making their business interests more important than the possibility that the world’s worst state supporter of terrorism will be armed with nukes. The time to act is now, instead of continuing a Micawber foreign policy of waiting for something––regime change, or Israeli action––to turn up.

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.


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What happened to Syria's anti-aircraft defenses? - Arutz Sheva

by Arutz Sheva

Video of the Air Force attack in Syria reveals that the anti-aircraft missiles launched at Israel's planes apparently did not advance towards their target.

Arutz Sheva


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Netanyahu approves Jordan Valley annexation bill after U.S. changes policy - Lahav Harkov, Tovah Lazaroff

by Lahav Harkov, Tovah Lazaroff

Approval of bill by Netanyahu comes following change in US stance regarding the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank

Benjamin Netanyahu and Mike Pompeo meet at the UN Security Council, September 26, 2018 (photo credit: GPO PHOTO DEPARTMENT)
Benjamin Netanyahu and Mike Pompeo meet at the UN Security Council, September 26, 2018
(photo credit: GPO PHOTO DEPARTMENT)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his approval on Tuesday to advance a bill that would have Israel apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, after the US State Department reversed its stance of viewing Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria as illegal.

Netanyahu called US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision “historic” during a visit the day after the announcement to the Gush Etzion region. The UN and others condemned Pompeo’s statement.

Likud MK Sharren Haskel proposed the annexation bill weeks ago, but decided to fast-track it in light of the change in US policy.

“The bill has the prime minister’s full backing,” Haskel said.

In the days before the September 17 election, Netanyahu announced that if re-elected, he would annex the Jordan Valley, and his cabinet voted to legalize the Mevo’ot Yeriho outpost in the Jordan Valley as a new settlement.

Haskel submitted a request to exempt her bill to annex the Jordan Valley from the mandatory six-week waiting period for any new legislation so that it can go to a vote in the plenum next week. The request will be subject to a vote in the Knesset Arrangements Committee, led by Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn while his party’s leader Benny Gantz has the mandate to build a government.

Haskel called on Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Gesher to join the Likud’s efforts to annex the Jordan Valley, “in light of the one-time-only chance that we have before us” with US President Donald Trump’s administration.

“I call on them to stand behind their promises and words, and vote together with the Likud on applying sovereignty,” Haskel said. “There is no reason that this important bill won’t pass in the plenum with an 80-MK majority.”

Sitting at a folding table in Gush Etzion looking out at the settler leaders who came to celebrate with him, Netanyahu said the announcement was “a very great day for the State of Israel and an achievement that will stand for generations. The Trump administration has corrected a historical injustice and lined up with truth and justice. I thank President [Donald] Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo.

”Netanyahu compared the policy decision with two other significant decisions Trump has taken on behalf of Israel: relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman told Netanyahu that the US declaration was a “great step forward” for the application of sovereignty on Judea and Samaria.

“I admit that I am very moved,” Netanyahu said. “We are here, in Gush Etzion, a place from which we were expelled during the War of Independence. Here we are on a historic day with another tremendous achievement for the State of Israel, for which we have worked greatly.

”The UN human rights office rejected the Trump administration’s new position.

“We continue to follow the long-standing position of the UN that Israeli settlements are in breach of international law,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing. “A change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and the Security Council.

”The International Court of Justice, in an advisory opinion issued in 2004, said that Israeli towns in the administered territories, including east Jerusalem, were established in breach of international law.

The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 – which both the United States and Israel have ratified – establishes that an occupying power shall not transfer civilians into the territory it occupies, Colville said.

Israel considers the West Bank disputed, not occupied, territory.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the change of policy in a statement on Tuesday, warning the move would escalate tensions in the region.

Moscow’s stance is that such settlements on Palestinian territory are illegal under international law, it said.

Already on Monday night, outgoing European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini shot back at the Trump administration, declaring that “all settlement activity is illegal under international law, and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334. The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power.

”The European Union and the United Nations have long held that all Israeli settlement activity is illegal. They have included in this all Israeli activity over the pre-1967 lines. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

Lahav Harkov, Tovah Lazaroff


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The Menace of LGBTQ Bigots - Lloyd Billingsley

by Lloyd Billingsley

Chick-fil-A caves to cancel-culture jihad.

Chick-fil-A has “stopped donations to several Christian organizations after receiving backlash from LGBT rights activists over the last several weeks,” Mairead McCardle of National Review reports. The popular restaurant chain will no longer donate to the Salvation Army, the Paul Anderson Youth Home, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

In its report, NBC News called these groups “controversial” and the donations “controversial funds.” That might come as a surprise to many Chick-fil-A patrons.

The Salvation Army dates from 1865 and works in 130 countries “dedicated to doing the most good,” and meeting human need “without discrimination.” By its own count, the Salvation Army assists 25 million Americans every year.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, launched in 1954, works in 84 countries “engaging, equipping and empowering coaches and athletes to united, inspire and change the world through the gospel.” Prominent members have included UCLA coach John Wooden and Los Angeles Rams running back “Deacon” Dan Towler.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home, named after the record-setting Olympic weightlifter, strives to provide, “a Christ-centered, holistic, and therapeutic approach towards transforming the lives of young men ages 16-21.” PAYH tailors individual plans “to meet each young man’s specific needs at the physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual level.”

In the founding document of these Christian groups, the Bible, marriage is between a man and a woman. This support for traditional marriage is the source of hostility from LGBTQ groups.

According to the National LGBTQ Task Force, “The Chick-fil-A controversy stems from the millions of dollars the fast food chain has donated to anti-LGBT hate groups over the years, and to President Dan Cathy’s hostile remarks against marriage equity.” Drew Anderson of GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy group, told NBC that “Chick-fil-A investors, employees and customers can greet today’s announcement with cautious optimism, but should remember that similar press statements were previously proven to be empty.”

“Fellowship of Christian Athletes targets LGBTQ community with Statement of Faith,” headlined an Outsports story describing FCA as a non-profit ministry “rooted in homophobia.” The FCA, writer Emma Nye charges, “has descended into the middle and high school level, cementing their bigotry and intolerance at an early age.”  For their part, the FCA and Salvation Army members have cause to regard the jihad against themselves, and Chick-fil-A, as blatant bigotry on the part of the LGBTQ squads.

In the Quran, the holy book of Islam, marriage is between a man and a woman, or a man and several women. The concept of gay marriage is unknown in Islam, but LGBTQ advocacy groups have not attempted to defund the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) or the Muslim Students Association, dedicated to establishing Islamic societies on college campuses in Canada and the United States. Despite their open bigotry toward Christians, LGBTQ groups routinely get special treatment in American culture.

“The unspoken rule of show business,” explained comedian Dave Chappelle, “is that you are never allowed to upset the alphabet people,” the “Ls and the Gs and the Bs and the Ts.” Chappelle is one of the few who does it anyway, and the rule against material about gays is a new development.

In Robert Townsend’s 1987 Hollywood Shuffle, the phone rings in the office of a private investigator. “I thought it might be my lady,” he says, “but it was just some fag.” The 1974 Blazing Saddles features “The French Mistake” dance number, during which choreographer Buddy Bizarre (Dom Deluise) tells the performers to “watch me faggots!” 

Blazing Saddles was co-written by the great Richard Pryor. Fans might wonder how Pryor would handle the scene suggested by President Trump, in which President Pete Buttigieg attempts to deal with Xi Jinping of China. Pryor, Don Rickles, and George Carlin, might also have some fun with pink pussy hats and such.  These entertainers had no use for the kind of favoritism now cropping up in politics.

As Evan Gahr notes in the California Globe, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has announced a partnership with an LGBT group calling itself Equality California, “to train poll workers on how best to interact with transgendered voters.” Padilla touts a “welcoming environment” for voters “whose gender identity, expression or pronouns do not appear to match their name on the voter rolls.” 

As Gahr explains, when asked their name, “a transgender man or woman could give something different than what is on the rolls or the ID forms he or she has.” Millions of illegals protected by state sanctuary laws already use different names and fake identification to vote, but Padilla, who refuses to cooperate with probes of voter fraud, is always looking for more.

Meanwhile, as Fox News reported, in 2020 the Chick-fil-A Foundation will “deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger.” Chick-fil-A has caved to the LGBTQ cancel-culture jihad, certain to mount a surge in 2020 and beyond.

Lloyd Billingsley


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The Truth Is No Defense Against Islam and the Left - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

A book explores one woman’s fight for the truth.

In the fall of 2009, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff told the truth. The truth cost her much of her normal life. It cost her the realization that Austria, the country she had served, was not run based on law and liberty.

And It left her with a choice between paying a fine and going to prison.

That is the story that she tells in her book, The Truth Is No Defense. The title is taken from her odyssey through the European judiciary, beginning with a trial by the media, then by Austrian judges, by the Austrian Supreme Court, and finally by, the court of last resort, the European Court of Human Rights.

Elisabeth’s crime was famously telling the truth about Mohammed’s rape of Aisha, the little girl whom he “married”, and facing hate speech and then defamation of religion charges after a media hit piece. Even though everything Elisabeth described in her educational forums and in private remarks, secretly recorded by a tabloid hack, was sourced to the Koran, to Hadiths and to Islamic legal texts, particularly, the Reliance of the Traveler, the truth of what she was saying proved to be no defense.

Truth is no defense against charges of blaspheming against Islam, neither in Iran or Qatar, nor in Europe.

Many people know how Elisabeth’s story ended, in tribunal after tribunal, rigged proceedings which determined that Mohammed was not a pedophile because he raped grown women in addition to little girls, that the media inventing a quote by her did not constitute slander, and that protecting Islamic sensibilities was far more of a European value than reactionary notions like free speech or the truth.

Fewer know how it began, not in Europe, but in pre-revolutionary Tehran, where a young Elisabeth saw the Islamic revolution sweep away freedom for women under the black shroud of the chador and vicious cries of, “Allahu Akbar”, and then on to Kuwait, under Islamic law, where she fled Saddam’s invasion, and then, as a diplomat, returning to Kuwait and then onward to Libya.

A daughter of diplomats who went on to work at Austrian diplomatic facilities, Elisabeth was fortunate or unfortunate enough to be in the wrong places at the wrong times. She was in Tehran as the Islamic Revolution raged, in Kuwait when Iraqi tanks rolled in, and in Libya when Al Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Center. She was one of Saddam’s hostages, freed in a splashy press conference, after trying to escape in a convoy. And she watched the Islamic Revolution destroy the lives of family friends.

Elisabeth saw Sharia law, the brutal dictates of theocracy, up close in Islamic countries, and she also watched the collapse of secular spaces under the pressure of mobs and thugs stirred up by clerics. Her childhood took her from Austria to the streets of cities where giant portraits of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein loomed over daily life. And then she came to Vienna and watched it happen all over again, not in the Middle East, but in the placid comforts of Austria.

That is the story at the heart of The Truth Is No Defense. It is not only a foreboding tale of what happens to western countries faced with a choice between admitting the terrible mistake of their immigration policies and silencing those, like Elisabeth, who speak out against it, it is also a story of what the final product of these societies are like when there are soldiers in the streets, liquor must be smuggled, and Christians daring to lick stamps in public on Ramadan are threatened for violating the Islamic fast.

The Truth Is No Defense is really two stories. It is the story of Elisabeth growing up and coming of age in a world that other European girls had no idea even existed and it is the story of her as a mother in Austria fighting to protect her daughter and other girls from being married off at puberty, facing honor killings, female genital mutilation, burkas and hijabs, and all the other horrors girls endure under Islam.

The first is, appropriately enough, a bildungsroman, the story of a naïve girl caught between two worlds, full of sights and sounds, vignettes and diary entries, while the second is an adult journey of a different kind, through the court system and the court of public opinion, filled with quotes from the Koran, speeches and news stories. It’s a journey that many conservatives have undertaken, from naïve young people to adults slowly realizing that behind the stories they were told in school and by media lurks a terrible threat that no one else except them and a small group of people are able to see. And that warning anyone about the threat is punishable by social sanction, censorship, and imprisonment.

That is Elisabeth’s story. It’s personal, emotional and also thoroughly rational. It comes accompanied by reams of documentation, by accompanying essays by experts like Robert Spencer, Stephen Coughlin, and Clare Lopez, by a foreword by the American Freedom Alliance’s Karen Siegemund, and by Elisabeth’s own extensive research into Islamic texts, the entries of her lawyers, and fellow activists.

But, as Elisabeth makes clear, it’s not just her story. It’s our story.

Her numerous speeches delivered in America contain a common closing warning. Her experiences of Islamization and censorship, of a system that punishes blasphemy and disregards truth, are not just a European phenomenon. They are coming to America. And, in some ways, they are already here.

We should care. Or we will be made to care.

Throughout The Truth Is No Defense, Elisabeth retains her conviction that truth matters, not just as an abstract, but because it will determine the world in which her young daughter will grow up and live.

To her statist opponents, the truth is an inconvenience to be sacrificed for the hope of social harmony. Whether or not Mohammed molested a little girl is, to the Austrian judges and the media, a historical tidbit of no relevance to the present except that it excites the indignation of angry Islamic mobs. The gang rapes and sex grooming gangs, the polygamous marriages and child marriages, are never connected to their source in Islamic scripture and law. Those who do face arrests, fines, and prison.

Elisabeth’s story in The Truth Is No Defense is that of an ordinary person, despite her extraordinary childhood, fighting to tell the truth and warn of a threat, coming up against apathy and tyranny. It is also the story of how she fights to maintain her spirit and her conviction in a world that has gone mad.

The Truth Is No Defense is a powerful indictment of a corrupt system, but it is also a demonstration of how Elisabeth maintained her spirit in the face of a political witch hunt. It’s the story of her love for her daughter, for the truth, and for, America, where she had also spent part of her formative years studying the Constitution, and where she had found support and a forum during her persecution in Europe.

The truth may be no defense against Islam and the Left. But it is a vital defense for our spirits.

Totalitarian regimes seek to break not only the body, but the spirit, to convince those they abuse to love Big Brother, to accept that they are wrong, because everyone, seemingly, disagrees with them.

In The Truth Is No Defense, Elisabeth encounters persecution, the cancel culture of the era, and misunderstanding by family and friends, but she also finds solidarity and solace. Even in the face of a relentless threat and mass complicity, she discovers her own strength and finds hope.

The truth may be no defense in the kangaroo courts of the Left, but it is our best defense.

The Truth Is No Defense by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is available from New English Review Press.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.


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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - and its Stance on Israel - Joseph Puder

by Joseph Puder

Perpetuating Jew-hatred under the guise of anti-Islraelism.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) no longer upholds the antisemitism preached by its denominational founder in the 16th century, Martin Luther. It does, however, use another variant of modern antisemitism – anti-Israelism. 

In August of this year, the ELCA passed a resolution that called on the U.S. government to subsidize the Palestinian Authority (PA), while the latter is using these funds to pay the salaries of Palestinian murderers of Israelis and convicted terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons. Another ELCA resolution passed at its August convention, urging the U.S. Congress to “ensure that U.S. taxpayers funds not support military detention, interrogations, and ill-treatment of Palestinian children. That these “so-called children” are old enough to yield knifes and shoot guns that murder Israeli women and children as well as adults, does not interest the ELCA. Moreover, the funding the PA incentivizes murders of Israelis. A 17-year-old Israeli girl, Rina Shnerb, was recently murdered by Palestinian youngsters while hiking with her father and brother. If her killers are caught and sent to prison, they will receive a salary for their crimes.

The ELCA seeks to amend the anti-terrorism Certification Act of 2018, in order to remove the legislative barriers that would enable the ELCA to provide humanitarian aid to the PA. One such project is the Lutheran-owned Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem, which only treats Palestinians. The PA diverts funds it receives from the international community (including the U.S.) to pay the salaries of terrorist murderers and their families instead of paying the accumulated bills it owes to the hospital. PA officials build themselves luxurious mansions with donated funds. In essence, what the ELCA wants is for the American taxpayer to pay and for the PA officials to continue their corruption and stealing.

On November 21, 2018, the ELCA Presiding Bishop issued the following statement, which ignored the history of Arab-Palestinian terror and violence and criticized the Trump administrations pro-Israel stance on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The statement read, “Since President Trump took office in 2017, U.S. support for Israel over concerns of Palestinians has become explicit instead of implied.” The statement continued…” U.S. position on key issues like Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees have shifted significantly." 

The previous U.S. administration allowed the United Nations (UN) to resolve in December 2016, that the Western Wall, the most sacred Jewish site (a remnant of the Temple) was an Arab-Palestinian territory. Funding the corrupt United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an agency that spawns Palestinian terrorists, is morally wrong. UNRWA has inflated the number of refugees rather than facilitate the settling of Palestinian refugees with adequate housing after decades of neglect, only to keep them on the dole, dependent on charity. UNWRA officials care more about perpetuating their jobs rather than settling the refugees (as Israel did with Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries) and securing jobs for them.

Ynet headlined on July 29, 2019, with “UNRWA Report: Corruption and Abuse of Power at the Highest Levels.” The article quoted the following from AFP. “AFP has obtained a copy of the report, which describes "credible and corroborated" accusations of serious ethical abuse involving senior officials of the institution, including Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. The alleged charges include "inappropriate sexual acts, nepotism, reprisals, discrimination and other abuses of authority (committed) for personal gain, to suppress legitimate differences of opinion." The report was sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres in December and UN investigators visited UNRWA offices in Jerusalem and Amman to gather information regarding the allegations, according to sources”
The entire tune of the Bishop’s statements appears hostile to the Jewish state, and takes on the role of  advocate for the Palestinians, regardless of facts on the ground, and ignoring Palestinian terror, antisemitism, the teaching of hatred against Jews and Israel in Palestinian schools, mosques, and the PA media, not to mention Hamas’ unequivocal rejection of peace with Israel. The Bishop’s statements chided President Trump for “giving no indication that the administration remains committed to the international promise and policy that Jerusalem should be a shared city.” Jerusalem is a shared city where Arab-Palestinians have the same rights as the Israelis.

The Bishop’s statement continues: “In early October (2018), the administration decided to close the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that had served as diplomatic point of engagement for the Palestinians. The move included demoting the U.S. Consul General.  Instead of being responsible for Palestinian matters and answering directly to the Secretary of State, the Consul General in Jerusalem will now answer to the U.S. ambassador to Israel.” What disturbed the presiding Lutheran bishop and his mainline Protestant colleagues is that the U.S. Ambassador to Israel is Jewish, and proudly pro-Israeli.

The statement goes on to say, “The State of Israel remains the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receiving approximately $3.8 billion in military aid each year. This funding helps the government of Israel maintain the occupation of the Palestinian territories, making the U.S. complicit in Israel’s detention of Palestinian children in military prisons, violent repression of peaceful protestors, and demolitions of Palestinian homes and communities.” Judea and Samaria are no “Palestinian territories.” There has never been a Palestinian state, nor has there been a resolution to these territories due to the Palestinian rejection of negotiations and peace with Israel. The Palestinian “protesters” are not peaceful, they are violent and led by terrorists. 

The mainline Protestant leaders continue, “The administration is also taking actions to deny the freedom of speech to those who criticize the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. The Department of Education has adjusted its definition of anti-Semitism to include anti-Zionism, and criticism of the state of Israel. Any person or group speaking at educational institutions who states their support for anti-Zionism, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement or is otherwise critical of Israel’s policies is potentially at risk for investigation and sanction by the Department of Education.”

The BDS movement has been deemed to be antisemitic by the U.S. government and a number of European states including Germany. Singling out the Jewish state for delegitimization, demonization, and double-standards constitutes antisemitism. Lutheran church organizations and NGO’s in North America and Europe donate large sums of money to radical anti-Israel Palestinian groups. The Lutheran Church is a member of the World Council of Churches. As such, it supports the anti-Israel BDS campaigns and condemns pro-Israel Christian Zionists.   

The Lutheran Church has a long and sordid legacy of antisemitism. The ELCA alleged efforts to break away from Martin Luther’s genocidal Jew-hatred appears insincere, when blindly supporting genocidal Palestinian Islamists, who seek the destruction of Israel, and refuse any offer of compromise. 

Palestinians have had ample opportunities to create their own sovereign state and provide their people with a future - the Peel Commission in 1937, the UN Partition plan of 1947, the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Camp David Summit in 2000, and the Olmert generous offer in 2008, for a Palestinian state. All were rejected by the Palestinians. For the Palestinians it has always been a zero-sum strategy.   

Israel should be admired, not condemned by ELCA. Israel is only democratic state in the region where human rights, free speech, and religious freedoms are upheld despite an environment of terror and violence perpetrated against it by the Palestinians. By its blatant anti-Israel resolution, and campaigns, the ELCA does not help the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In fact, the ELCA perpetuates antisemitism under the guise of anti-Israelism.

Joseph Puder


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Iran's Crimes against Humanity, 2019 - Denis MacEoin

by Denis MacEoin

It is not women alone who are subject to egregious ill treatment. Writers, artists, film makers are others are often arrested on the grounds that their work challenges the pieties of the regime.

  • "As Iranian, Saudi and other Muslim women around the globe struggled for freedom from the hijab, which they consider a political symbol that has nothing to do with piety, the reaction among the liberal circles in the West was confounding. Here an increasing number of feminists, leftists and the liberal media glorified the hijab as some exotic symbol of women's liberation that had to be embraced." — Tarek Fatah, The Toronto Sun, August 29, 2019
  • "The Guards are gathering to remove reformists from power." — Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Iranian journalist, Financial Times, October 13, 2019.
  • The anti-corruption campaign is led by none other than the hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi.... Raisi is widely considered the most likely cleric to succeed to the role of Supreme Leader when Khamenei retires or dies. But Raisi also carries with him a disturbing reputation for judicial violence.

One of the Western hostages that Iran is holding is an innocent British mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Her five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, was also being held hostage in Iran until the regime released her last month. Pictured: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her husband Richard Ratcliffe in 2011. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

On October 10 this year, when an aeroplane flew from Tehran and arrived late that night in London, among those on board was a five-year-old girl named Gabriella. Despite her name, Gabriella was not Spanish, Portuguese or Italian. Her father, Richard, is English and her mother, Nazanin, is Iranian with British nationality.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is among the best known of the multitude of individuals locked up in Iran's prisons. Her status as a woman with dual nationality, and imprisoned for five years on a charge of espionage without a scrap of evidence, combined with the ongoing campaign for her release by her husband in conjunction with the UK Foreign Office, has given her case repeated publicity in the British press and other media.

A likely reason the Iranian authorities have not responded to the numerous official and unofficial requests for her release, or even an open and fair trial, seems to be a standoff between the UK and Iran over payment of a British debt for £450 million. The debt was incurred when Britain refused to send tanks originally ordered under the late Shah's regime and not delivered for more than 40 years. Senior government sources have said they believe Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be being held as "collateral" to secure the debt repayment.

One source said in November 2017:
Treasury and Foreign Office officials are plotting how the situation can be resolved without breaking UN sanctions on military equipment, overseen by the EU, that would currently halt the payment.
They add that the money is being held by the High Court on behalf of the Government, after the European Court of Arbitration ruled in favour of Iran in 2001.
By the end of 2019, the debt still has not been paid. Richard Ratcliffe's sole hope at present is that the decision to allow his daughter to return to the UK in order to start school there might signal a willingness to let her mother go back there as well.

Even if that unlikely release were to happen, it will take years for Nazanin herself to reach partial recovery from her ordeal. Reports of her untreated health issues, including mental health show that her unjust confinement has marked her for life.

Although Nazanin's plight continues to draw the attention of campaigners and some politicians, the natural focus on it tends to obscure countless other cases of abuse carried out by the ruthless theocratic regime on its own people and some foreigners. Nor is Nazanin's case the only thing that distracts the public from other domestic injustices inside Iran.

This year alone, Iran has been in the news internationally for its aggressive behaviour across the Middle East regarding the United States and the UK. Captures of oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz, drone attacks claimed by Iran-financed Houthis in Yemen on Saudi oil installations, increased levels of uranium enrichment in a standoff between the US and Europe, continued build-ups of Hezbollah troops in Lebanon and Syria along the border with Israel, who issue bloodcurdling threats to kill all the Jews in the world and destroy the state of Israel, as well as renewed threats to wipe Israel off the map whether the Twelfth Imam returns to earth or not. Much of this, of course, creates the threat of a war between Iran and Israel that may inflame the Middle East yet further:
"Taken all together, the Israeli strikes in Lebanon last month and in Syria and possibly Iraq as well, the attack in Saudi Arabia, and the statements from Iranian and Hezbollah officials form part of a larger pattern in which Israel and Iran are locked in an escalating conflict playing out across the region. In the long term, Iran's land bridge strategy connecting Tehran to the Mediterranean coast through a chain of contiguous client states in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, points directly at Israel."
Such threats and activities have drawn the eyes of the world, thus allowing Tehran to continue its excesses at home with only muted rebuke abroad.

Not that these excesses should surprise us. The Iranian regime's 40-year reputation as the country that executes more people per capita than even China, executes more women than any other country, has executed 97 women during the incumbency of "reformist" Prime Minister Rouhani, most recently in September this year.

In general, Iran treats its women harshly. The law of enforced wearing of hijabs has led to many protests, but in August this year, a 20-year-old woman, Saba Kord-Afshari, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for refusing to wear one. According to Tarek Fatah in the Toronto Sun, her trial began on August 19 when she was charged with "spreading corruption and prostitution by taking off her hijab and walking without a veil [hijab]." After a century and more of women's rights achievements in the West, the harshness of this sentence stands out for its cruelty, yet, as Fatah points out:
"As Iranian, Saudi and other Muslim women around the globe struggled for freedom from the hijab, which they consider a political symbol that has nothing to do with piety, the reaction among the liberal circles in the West was confounding. Here an increasing number of feminists, leftists and the liberal media glorified the hijab as some exotic symbol of women's liberation that had to be embraced."
On September 10 this year, Amnesty International stated that Iran is the only country in the world that bans women from attending football matches. It did so as part of a larger announcement condemning the death of a 29-year-old Iranian woman, Sahar Khodayari. Khodayari was a confirmed football fan (like a great many other Iranian women forced to watch games on their televisions or computers) who dressed as a man by wearing a wig and beard and going to matches thus disguised. Last March she attended a match between her favourite team, Esteqlal, and a UAE rival al-'Ayn. Security guards stopped her from entering and identified her as a woman. She was then held for two days in Shar-e Rey or Qarchak prison, the largest women's gaol in the country. Qarchak is described by the Human Rights Activists News Agency as follows:
"The conditions of this prison are unbearable for prisoners... conditions that include the "outbreak of dangerous diseases". These conditions are caused by the geographical location, small space, and high population, shortage of water and sanitation facilities, violence and lack of segregation of prisoners."
According to Amnesty International:
"Khodayari - who had been released on bail - was summoned to a Revolutionary Court in Tehran last week (2 September) to face charges over the stadium incident. She was charged with 'openly committing a sinful act by ... appearing in public without a hijab' and 'insulting officials'. The case was adjourned and, after she left the court, she poured petrol over herself and set herself on fire outside the courthouse. According to hospital officials, she received burns on 90% of her body and died yesterday [9 September]."
Khodayari apparently suffered from bipolar illness, and it seems the thought of being returned to the same prison for six months terrified her and impelled her to take her life in that ghastly way. In a more humane system, her disability would have been cared for.

In the grand scheme of things, the fates of these women may not seem to count for much. Yet they are not accidents or cases of bad luck, insofar as injustices and disproportionate judicial rulings are far from uncommon. It is not women alone who are subject to egregious ill treatment. Writers, artists, film makers are others are often arrested on the grounds that their work challenges the pieties of the regime.

Om October 13, a film maker, writer and satirist, Kiumars Marzban had his prison term of 23 years and 9 months confirmed by an appeal court.
"He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for 'cooperating with a hostile state', seven years and six months in prison for blasphemy, a year and half imprisonment for 'propaganda against the state', three years in prison for 'insulting the Supreme Leader and the Founder of the Revolution', and nine months imprisonment for 'insulting authorities.'"
According to Radio Free Europe:
"Marzban is among the recent victims of an intensified state crackdown in Iran that has resulted in unusually harsh prison sentences for journalists, human rights lawyers, women protesting the compulsory hijab rule, labor rights activists, and others."
The same source adds:
"Just within the past month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has listed the cases of 13 activists who were sentenced to a total of more than 100 years in prison for their peaceful activities. They include journalist and labor activist Sepideh Gholian, who is facing a 19-year prison sentence, and prominent labor rights activist Esmail Bakhshi, who received a 14-year sentence.
"Analysts believe the crackdown and the increased intolerance towards any kind of dissent is Iran's response to perceived internal and external threats, including potential unrest over a deteriorating economy and a campaign of 'maximum pressure' by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump."
Radio Free Europe is, in fact, being lenient to the point of spinelessness. Domestic injustices ever since the Khomeinist Revolution of 1979, have been far wider than that; to claim that atrocities are committed in response to "perceived threats" is, at best, supine nonsense. In January this year, Amnesty International issued a report on affairs in Iran in 2018, which it described as "a year of shame":
Over the course of the year, more than 7,000 protesters, students, journalists, environmental activists, workers and human rights defenders, including lawyers, women's rights activists, minority rights activists and trade unionists, were arrested, many arbitrarily. Hundreds were sentenced to prison terms or flogging and at least 26 protesters were killed. Nine people arrested in connection with protests died in custody under suspicious circumstances.
"2018 will go down in history as a 'year of shame' for Iran. Throughout the year Iran's authorities sought to stifle any sign of dissent by stepping up their crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and carrying out mass arrests of protesters," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.
Iran's atrocities have apparently become "normalized".

Writing on October 13 in the Financial Times, the Iranian journalist Najmeh Bozorgmehr explains at length that there is also a current crackdown on Iran's political and business elite. The main thrust of her article is that, following a supposed shift towards "reform" under Prime Minister Rouhani, the hardliners are regaining strength and that their anti-graft drive is merely masking "wider goals". The chief one is described by Bozormehr in the following terms:
... for those driving the campaign the benefits outweigh any downside. "Sanctions have created the opportunity for the [Revolutionary] Guards to prepare the ground for an internal metamorphosis in alliance with the judiciary," says one regime insider close to the hardliners. "The Guards are gathering to remove reformists from power."
The ultimate goal for those involved in the power struggle is to influence the succession race to replace Mr Khamenei, the 80-year-old supreme leader.
The anti-corruption campaign is led by none other than the hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi, a presidential candidate defeated in 2017 by the incumbent Rouhani, who was made chief of the judiciary in March 2019 and deputy head of the Council of Experts, the body responsible for any appointment of the next Supreme Leader. Raisi himself is widely considered the most likely cleric to succeed to the role of Supreme Leader when Khamenei retires or dies.

But Raisi also carries with him a disturbing reputation for judicial violence. In his early thirties, he was made prosecutor of three provincial towns, but in 1985 named as a deputy prosecutor for the capital, Tehran. Three years after that, he was a member of the four-person "Death Commission" responsible for a series of mass executions, when leftists, dissidents, and members of the opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq were massacred within a matter of weeks. Amnesty International published last year a 201-page report on the executions. Some 30,000 individuals were shot or hanged during that brief period. Tragically, the regime was for a long time successful in imposing a total silence on the affair.

With so much blood on his hands, it is not surprising that Raisi, soon after his elevation to Chief Prosecutor, appointed none other than Ali Al-Qasi Mehr as the new Prosecutor of Tehran. Al-Qasi Mehr's own reputation is that of a hardliner who has long favoured public executions and amputations as a means of maintaining control in both capital and minor cases.

As pressure grows on the often-despairing Iranian public from its own tyrants, the hardest advocates of internal repression to match international expansion and military preparations are reclaiming their right to rule without pity. It is just as important to keep an eye on these internal developments as it is to monitor the comings and goings of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or Hezbollah or the expanding chaos in Syria.

"Last June", according to Reuters, "Raisi said 'internal threats to the Islamic Republic are more dangerous than external threats', a clear signal that he would not tolerate dissent."

High pressure leads to explosive responses. The crimes against humanity and the pettiness of the regime, whether regarding women's rights, artists' rights, gay rights, or the rights of religious minorities such as the Baha'is, must surely lead to the downfall of this most persistent totalitarian despotism.

Dr. Denis MacEoin (PhD Cambridge) has specialized in Iranian studies for more than 50 years and has a particular knowledge of the Shi'ite form of Islam practised in Iran.


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