Sunday, December 31, 2017

Analysis: Something extraordinary is happening in Iran - Yochanan Visser

by Yochanan Visser

As Iran's proxy army conquers the Golan Heights, the Iranian people have taken to the streets.

Iran protests
Iran protests
Last Thursday, TV Channel 10 in Israel, citing Israeli and American officials, aired a report which claimed that Israel and the United States had secretly signed a memorandum of understandings on how to confront Iran.

The accord was reportedly signed on December 12 after intensive talks between Israeli and US intelligence and defense officials and the ceremony was attended by the heads of the national security councils of the two countries according to Channel 10.

The agreement outlined “steps on the ground” against the various threats emanating from Tehran and culminated in the forming of three joint teams.

The first team is to deal with the growing threat to Israel and the Sunni Arab countries and plans to focus on Iran’s creeping encroachment on the Syrian Israeli border and its aid to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The second team was set up to gather intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program, which both the Trump Administration and Israel think is covertly commencing, despite the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

A third team would grapple with Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Iranian efforts to build underground missile silos, factories which manufacture precision weaponry and military bases for the Quds Force of the IRGC in Syria.

The Channel 10 report was aired a couple of days after Arutz Sheva reported Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani had offered Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza “ to provide the Palestinian people with all the means at the IRGC's disposal in the struggle for Jerusalem.”

Soleimani has virtually overseen every major battle in Syria and Iraq and was the architect of the plan to carve out a land corridor that would connect Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea and the Syrian Golan Heights.

As I pointed out in last week’s analysis “Iran is closing in on Israel” the Islamic Republic has now a proxy force of 125,000 Shiite fighters in Syria, outnumbering the regular Syrian army and indicating that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has become a puppet of Tehran.

These forces take their orders directly from Soleimani who apparently decided to increase pressure on Israel recently, directing commanders of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria to the Israeli border in order to antagonize Israel and deliver a message to the Netanyahu government that the rules of the game have changed.

First, Qais al-Khazali, the commander of the Iraqi Shiite militia Qais al-Khazali was filmed standing a few meters from Fatima Gate, the so-called ‘Good Fence’ near Metulla, Israel’s most northern town on the Lebanese Israeli border.

Al-Khazali predicted Israel would soon be replaced with a “state of Allah’s justice” and called upon “The Islamic Resistance” to act upon this goal.

Two weeks later, Al-Hajj Hamza, a commander of Liwa al-Baqir, a Syrian Shiite militia trained by Soleimani’s Quds Force and affiliated with Hezbollah, was filmed visiting South Lebanon.

At the same time the Iranian-backed pro-Assad coalition, which today is dominated by Iranian-trained Shiite forces and coordinates all its actions with the Iranians, suddenly launched an offensive against Sunni Islamist rebels in the area of Mount Hermon, Israel’s highest mountain, located near the Druze village of Magdal Shams on the Golan Heights.

Iranian and Arab media later reported Assad’s forces laid siege on Beit Jinn and Mughur al-Mir near Mount Hermon and that 250 fighters of the former Al-Qaeda branch Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known under the name Jabhat al-Nusra, had been killed during the offensive which brought the Iranian Syria coalition within a few kilometers of the Israeli border.

The Islamist rebels in the area were handed a 72-hours ultimatum which included a forced transfer to the Sunni dominated Idlib Province in northern Syria.

Over the weekend the pro-Assad coalition retook the northern part of the border region with Israel, something PM Netanyahu and DM Avigdor Liberman constituted the crossing of a red line.

Israel initially demanded a 40-kilometer wide buffer zone free of any Iranian or Hezbollah presence along the Syrian Israeli border on the Golan Heights under the so-called de-escalation agreement between the US, Russia, and Jordan.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu addressed the acute threat posed by the Iranian dominated forces on the Golan Heights and warned again Israel wouldn’t “allow Iranian military forces to establish bases in Syria “ in order to attack the Jewish state.

Calling Israel “an island in a stormy sea” Netanyahu vowed the IDF and IAF would “act to prevent the manufacture of precise and deadly weapons” aimed at Israel.

Netanyahu touted the “tremendous power” of the Israeli air force and claimed the IAF is “at the peak of its abilities – with the best technological tools, the best planes in the world, the best pilots in the world, with offensive and defensive capabilities and with awesome firepower that can reach both short-range and distant targets as necessary.”

His remark on the IAF’s ability to carry out strikes against “distant targets” was most likely directed at Iran and indicated the so-called ‘military option’ remains on the table to stop the Mullah’s quest for nuclear weapons and Iran’s hegemonic drive, which has now brought its proxies to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.

However, Rafi Eitan, the former head of the Mossad’s operations department, doubts Israel’s ability to neutralize Iran’s extensive nuclear program, since most of the nuclear sites are built deep under the ground. The bombs at Israel’s disposal would only be able to destroy the entrances to these sites, according to Eitan.

Eitan, former head of the Pensioners Party and a veteran Iran-expert told Jerusalem Post’ Editor in Chief Ya’akov Katz that “the only way to deal with Iran is regime change.”

Coincidence or not, the day the interview with Eitan was published, thousands of Iranians took to the streets and demanded an end to the Islamic Republic.

While the mainstream media suggested the unrest in Iran, which by now has spread all over the country, was only about soaring prices and other economic hardships, in reality, the new uprising is mainly directed at the extremist Islamist regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the growing influence of the IRGC and the regime’s policies abroad.

The Iranian people have not profited from the enormous amounts of money which filled the coffers of the regime during the negotiations about the nuclear agreement and after the implementation of the JCPOA when billions of dollars in sanctions relief were released.

Iranians are still encountering growing inequality, high youth employment and diminished domestic productive capacities along with widespread corruption and a lack of economic diversification - to name just a few of the grievances.

The military budget of the Islamic Republic, on the other hand, increased 145 percent in 2017, while Iran’s contribution to Hezbollah has risen to $800 million annually, up from $300 in 2009 when the Obama Administration entered the White House.

Iran is also funding Iraqi militias which operate under the umbrella organization Hashd Al-Shaabi and is providing extensive aid to the Ansar Allah (Houthi) militia in Yemen.

The young protesters in Iran, most of them in their twenties, called upon the Iranian army to join the protest against the regime of the Mullah’s, while burning photographs of the Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei and even images of Al Quds commander Qassem Soleimani.

The demonstrators also shouted “Death to Khamenei,” something that rarely happened beforehand, causing one insider to conclude that the protest is a “deep and desperate cry against an unjust and repressive system.”

Other reports coming from citizen reporters in Iran mention people calling for the return of Reza Pahlavi, the son, and heir of the late Shah (who currently resides in the United States).
“’No Gaza, No Lebanon, our lives are devoted to Iran,’ expressing resentment towards Iran's Islamic regime for financially supporting Hezbollah and Hamas while ignoring its own citizens,” Iranians in the city of Mashad chanted according to Tarek Fatah the author of “The Jew is not my enemy” and “The tragic illusion of an Islamic State”.

Nobody is able to predict the outcome of the current uprising against the Iranian Islamist regime but as Christopher Hitchens,who, by the way, was far from a Zionist, already pointed out in 2011, the moment has come when the old order cannot continue in the old way. Young Iranians – who make up half of the population- clearly have no desire to be ruled in the old way.

“They have raised a generation who completely sees through religion,” Hitchens, an expert on Iran and Hezbollah, who passed away in that same year, said about what was going on in Iran.

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva.


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Turkish Twitter Explodes with Genocidal Jew-Hatred - Uzay Bulut

by Uzay Bulut

Their lies need to be exposed for what they are: anti-Semitism and falsehoods disguised as legitimate criticism of U.S. and Israeli policy.

  • The statements of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan -- and those of Turks who share his worldview – are further evidence that fundamentalist Muslims oppose Israel's very existence as a sovereign Jewish state. Their ire over Trump's Jerusalem declaration has nothing to do with U.S. or Israeli policies.
  • Their fury stems from Jews existing in Israel as a powerful nation – not as dhimmis (second-class and persecuted people). Fanatic Muslims cannot get over the fact that Jews still live in, and are in charge of, supposedly their Muslim holy land.
  • To justify their rage, these radicals rewrite history. Their claims that Jerusalem is a Muslim holy city, for example, are false. While Jerusalem is mentioned 850 times in the Old Testament, it is not mentioned once in the Koran.
Although U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital drew condemnation from much of the Muslim world, one reaction stood out -- that of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

"Those who think they are the owners of Jerusalem today will not even be able to find trees to hide behind tomorrow," he said, during a Human Rights Day event in Ankara on December 10.

Erdoğan was referring to a hadith (a reported saying by Islam's prophet, Mohammed) about Judgement Day:
"Abu Huraira reported Allaah's Messenger (sall Allaahua layhiwa sallam) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allaah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews."

Although U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital drew condemnation from much of the Muslim world, one reaction stood out -- that of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (Photo by Elif Sogut/Getty Images)

Radical Turks echoed Erdoğan's sentiment on social media. Under the hashtag #KudüseSahipÇık ("Safeguard Jerusalem"), which quickly became a trending topic, Turkish Twitter-users expressed a seething Jew-hatred -- not hatred of Israelis, but Jews. Here are some examples:
  • "I hope this will be a cause of war for us. I will spit on the blood of Jews."
  • "[With each] Jew massacred, the world will get more relaxed, and say 'I have got rid of those filths'."
  • "The ummah [Islamic community] is ready for an intifada. They can exterminate the Jew."
  • "To declare Jerusalem the capital [of Israel] means to start a new war in the Middle East. We have no fear of war. [The question is] Where will we bury millions of Jewish bodies? To touch Jerusalem means an end to Jews."
  • "The Jew is cowardly. He cannot fight. He trusts his money, and recruits soldiers. But what we need is unity and livelihood."
  • "For Jerusalem to belong to Muslims, not a single Jew should be left alive in Palestinian lands. It is either victory or victory."
  • "Oh Allah! Do not take my soul before you grant me the privilege to engage in jihad against Israeli Jewish dogs."
  • "There is only one thing to be said about Jews: There has never been a more cowardly, dishonorable, and peasant nation like them. The victory will definitely be ours."
Some Twitter-users praised Hitler for killing Jews, while others condemned him for not doing a sufficient job. Then there are those who suggested persecuting Turkish Jews. Tagging Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, one user tweeted:
"Synagogues, the Israeli consulate and Jews... If we burn down, destroy and kill all of these things, will we be considered criminals now?"
Other Tweets in the same vein included:
  • "Close all synagogues in Turkey. Either arrest or deport all Jewish citizens. Close all the water lines to Israel. Then they will croak automatically."
  • "What if we shut down synagogues and churches? And open Hagia Sophia [Christian Basilica in Istanbul] to [Muslim] worship?"
  • "Chain all the synagogues in Istanbul. Tolerance has limits. Jerusalem is the capital of Muslim believers."
Erdoğan's statements -- and those of Turks who share his worldview -- are further evidence that fundamentalist Muslims oppose Israel's very existence as a sovereign Jewish state. Their fury over Trump's Jerusalem declaration has nothing to do with U.S. or Israeli policies. Their fury stems from Jews existing in Israel as a powerful nation – not as dhimmis (second-class and persecuted people). Fanatic Muslims cannot get over the fact that Jews still live in, and are in charge of, supposedly their Muslim holy land.

These reactions are also the most observable examples of Islamist genocidal hatred of Jews and extreme Islamist intolerance of a non-Islamic faith's religious sensibilities and its national history.

To justify their rage, these radicals rewrite history. Their claims that Jerusalem is a Muslim holy city, for example, are false. While Jerusalem is mentioned 850 times in the Old Testament, it is not mentioned once in the Koran. Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel some 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. It only became a focus of Muslim agitation in 1980, when Israel adopted a Basic Law -- equivalent to a constitutional provision -- declaring united Jerusalem as its capital.

Muslims never declared Jerusalem their capital, even when they controlled the area later called "Palestine," after their invasion in the seventh century. Instead, in the beginning of the eighth century, they built the city of Ramla and named it their local capital. Jordan also did not declare Jerusalem a Muslim capital when it controlled the city from 1948 to 1967. Moreover, during those 19 years, the only Arab leader who even visited Jerusalem was King Abdullah I of Jordan -- who was assassinated there in 1951 by an Arab nationalist associated with the former mufti of the city.

It is true that Al-Aqsa Mosque is located in Jerusalem; the first reference to the mosque appeared in the 12th century. Yet, the common perception that the Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa is situated, is the "third-holiest site in Islam" is based on a rhetorical ploy: Mecca is Islam's holiest place; Medina is its second-holiest. For Jews, Jerusalem is the holiest city and the Temple Mount the holiest site; Judaism's second-holiest site is the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which Muslims usurped when they conquered the city in the 7th century and re-named it the Ibrahimi Mosque. If Muslims are entitled to have control over the city that hosts their so-called "third-holiest site," why do they oppose Jewish control over the city that contains Judaism's first- and second-holiest sites?

Many Muslims also often purposely muddy that Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel does not compromise the religious freedom of Muslims and Christians. In fact, the city has never in its history been as open to pilgrims from all religions as it has been under Israeli rule. By contrast, during the 19 years when the Old City and its holy sites were under Jordanian occupation, Jews -- regardless of the origin of their passports -- were prohibited to visit and pray there. Still today, Jews visiting the Temple Mount are prohibited from praying there.

Since the advent of Islam, Muslim regimes have destroyed -- or converted into mosques -- synagogues, churches, Buddhist and Hindu temples, and other non-Muslim places of worship. Accusing Israel of engaging in such behavior is both a projection and a propaganda device.

The false narrative about Jerusalem is part of what Moshe Sharon, Professor Emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, calls the "Islamization of History." The basic attitude, he says,
"is that ... all major figures of history basically are Muslim -- from Adam down to our own time. So, if the Jews or Christians are demanding something and basing it on the fact that there was a king called Solomon or a king called David, or a prophet called Moses or Jesus, they say something which is not true or, in fact, they don't know that all these figures were basically Muslim figures."
He further explains:
"Anywhere which was connected with these people or with these prophets who were all Muslims becomes a Muslim territory. And therefore, when Islam was not in ...the Middle East or other parts outside of the Middle East which are now Muslim... any place like this had to be freed, not to be conquered. ... Islam appeared in history in the time of Mohammed -- or reappeared in history from their point of view -- as a liberator..."
...presumably of an Islamic religion that existed since forever and was distorted by religions which came along later: Judaism and Christianity.

That is why the struggle of Israel is also the struggle of the West against sharia-imposed historic revisionism and the slavery of dhimmitude, the second-class, "tolerated" status assigned by Islamists to Jews and other non-Muslims. It is a struggle for freedom in which the Jewish people take back their history and freedom from Islamist and other dictators and preserve them in their own ancient homeland.

The Islamist understanding of history and geography, however, is completely different from scientific and historical facts.

According to Islamists, all prominent figures beginning from Adam and Eve were Muslim, therefore all the lands where they lived were Muslim lands. Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Yazidism, and others are not belief systems which could also be respected. The believers of all those religions are occupiers in Muslim lands. They are not natives or honorable residents. They are not even communities whose rights and religious liberty should be respected as much as that of Muslims. They have, in fact, according to this view, abandoned the only true religion; they have therefore been cursed and will be punished by Allah unless they convert to Islam. If they are allowed to live despite that, it is all because of the "mercy" of Islamists -- but they are always to remain inferior to Muslims.

This is what Islamists assert and have acted on in the lands they rule. But science -- including real history, archeology, and objective theological studies, among others -- would disagree with the Islamists' revisionist understanding of history.

It is natural that a religion claims that it is the only true one. But most do so by still recognizing and respecting other faiths and their histories. What is destructive and intolerant is if one religion denies the authenticity of other religions and dehumanizes and demonizes their believers. This distorted and misleading understanding of world history has also helped to create extremely oppressive and violent Muslim regimes that have never treated non-Muslims as equals.

An ideology that asserts that all of human history is actually its own history, and other faiths are just inventions created by frauds that led their believers astray, and that misled people who will burn in hell forever because they do not believe in the only eternal, true, and perfect religion, is not fit to create a tolerant culture that is respectful to, and accepting of, other faiths. That is why this denialist, supremacist, and totalitarian ideology has not been able to promote religious, cultural, or intellectual diversity at any time in history in the lands that it took over.

This denialist view on history, which recognizes nothing but Islam, is what mainly creates the enormous differences in understanding between the Islamists who falsely claim ownership of Jerusalem and the Jews of Israel who rebuilt their homeland and wish to live there in dignity.

The Islamists attempt falsely to Islamize history, by combining it with the hate-filled teachings in Islamic scripture openly claiming that Jews and other non-Muslims are "cursed by Allah" and "shall be killed off." This revisionist history is how and why fundamentalists such as Erdoğan -- and the Turkish Twitter-users who follow his lead -- have no compunction about disseminating genocidal vitriol.

Their lies need to be exposed for what they are: anti-Semitism and falsehoods disguised as legitimate criticism of U.S. and Israeli policy.

Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist born and raised a Muslim, is currently based in Washington D.C.


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Iran - This time it's Serious - Menashe Amir

by Menashe Amir

Nine years ago, Barack Obama was silent when ordinary Iranians took to the streets – but Trump has chosen to throw the weight of the United States behind the people.

The current protests in Iran began with small groups in country towns – but have quickly spread to 20 cities while morphing into mass demonstrations. Over the weekend they reached the capital Tehran, and are expanding by the hour.

In the summer of 2009, the masses also took to the streets, then to protest fraudulent presidential election results. The rallies were restricted to the capital and were suppressed with extreme brutality. Close to a million people took part in those protests – but they lost steam after focusing on support for a former prime minister, who was part of the oppressive regime himself and whose stated intent was to implement reforms while defending the regime's existence.

This time, the protesters are openly calling for the leader to be removed and for the regime to fall.

These protests are far more serious, for several reasons. This time, it appears, demonstrations will persist and spread to additional cities, becoming an immense movement that poses a clear threat to the regime's survival.

The main reason these demonstrations are different is that now people are fighting for their daily wages and sustenance, against government corruption and ambitious foreign policy.

The protesters' rallying cries now testify to the precariousness of their situation and their fundamental demands. They want to work and they want food in their stomachs. They are unequivocally demanding the cessation of financial support for Hezbollah, Hamas and the tyrannical Syrian regime, while brazenly disparaging President Hassan Rouhani and calling for the regime's demise. They are shouting "Death to the dictator," "Khamenei next," "Leave Syria and take care of the Iranian people," "Let go of Palestine," and "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I'd give my life only for Iran."

The 2017 economic crisis in Iran is dire. The lifting of Western-imposed sanctions, which should have boosted the country's economy, has failed to do so. Inflation is skyrocketing and unemployment is swelling. Money is losing its value.

The protesters, therefore, are no longer demanding mere governmental reforms; they are hungry for food and have been trampled by the regime and its crimes. They accuse the regime of stealing vast sums of money from the pensions of ordinary Iranians, via financial institutions created by well-connected people.

These protests are a snowball hurtling down a mountain – and the regime does not know how to cope with them yet. At the same time, social media is playing a crucial role in connecting people, and the message is quickly spreading.

U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration of support was an injection of encouragement. Nine years ago, Barack Obama chose to remain silent when Iranians took to the streets – but Trump is choosing a different path by explicitly supporting the people. From this point forward, from the streets, the next great Iranian chapter can begin.

Menashe Amir is an expert on Iranian affairs and former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian language division.


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France sets up tax dept to investigate Jews - Ela Levi-Weinrib

by Ela Levi-Weinrib

The department currently has 20 Hebrew-speaking employees, and is in the process of hiring five more.

Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron. (photo credit: REUTERS) 

Tel Aviv (Tribune News Service)  -  In Paris's 12th arrondissement, on Bercy Street by the banks of the River Seine, on the 13th floor of the Ministry of Finance is France's tax authority headquarters. Something has been afoot there recently that is liable to upset French Jews and spook their relations with the country in which they live. Under the radar, a secret department has been created with the sole purpose of handling tax evasion by French Jews. "Globes" can reveal for the first time the details of the secret department that is targeting Jews in France and new immigrants from France in Israel.

Sources inform "Globes" that over the past year, the tax authority in the Fifth Republic founded a special department for dealing with French Jews. The department currently has 20 Hebrew-speaking employees, and is in the process of hiring five more. This extraordinary department is one of a kind. Tax authorities do not usually establish departments targeting a specific nationality or religion. The action is astonishing, especially when the country involved is France, which is constitutionally defined as a secular republic that refrains from "marking" people according to their religion. Tax authorities around the world do establish teams to deal with sectors whose tax reporting is questionable. They target a specific market when there is concern that it contains a large amount of unreported capital, such as the real estate market or the diamond market. Setting up a specific department dealing with a designated nationality or religion, however, is not an accepted practice.

The only "department" ostensibly close in character to this secret French department is a new department established in the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for dealing with cases of Israelis, American-Israelis, and Americans with assets and money in Israel. This US department, however, resulted from the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) signed by Israel and the US, in which huge amounts of information are transferred by the countries about their taxpayers, and someone has to handle that information. This was not the purpose for which the department was set up in the French tax authority.

The French department was established to handle French Jewish tax evaders, and hired employees with professional experience and a profound understanding of Israeli law in order to examine whether Jews were using these laws to evade tax in France. The aim of the department is to catch French tax evaders using Israel as a tax shelter.

Examining real estate deals An international lawyer specializing in taxation who is familiar with the secret department says, "It is very, very irregular to hire 20 Hebrew-speaking employees, or any other language, in a foreign tax authority. Most tax authorities have one or two Hebrew-speakers, and there are English or French-speaking employees in Israel for the purpose of signing conventions and conducting relations with the tax authorities of other countries. Every tax authority has employees that speak a foreign language, but hiring 20 or more Hebrew-speaking investigators is very irregular." The lawyer adds that he learned from his acquaintance with the department and its employees that some of the employees hired previously lived in Israel. "They hired Hebrew-speaking French people, some of whom previously lived in Israel and moved back to France," he told Globes. According to information obtained by Globes, as part of the department's activity, its employees take out Land Registry extracts in Israel for the purpose of examining deals contracted in Israel and reaching French residents who have acquired properties here. The investigators have mapped the main streets in various cities in Israel, including Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ra'anana, Netanya and Jerusalem, in which many purchases by Jewish residents of France take place. They have obtained Land Registry extracts and examined the particulars of a deal in order to detect foreign passport numbers. The investigators cross-referenced the information with information in their databases and the reports by those French Jews about their assets and income. In cases in which it was found that the person did not report the properties he bought in Israel, he was also summoned for questioning.

Sources inform Globes that a French Jew recently went to the secret department for an "audit" without knowing exactly what was to be discussed. For safety's sake, he took his lawyer with him - a fact that proved extremely important for him. During the discussion about his declarations of his assets and funds, the questioners very quickly presented a Land Registry extract including all of the French Jewish client's housing units in Israel. The discussion took place, and at the end, the lawyer wondered in what framework the new investigation was taking place. A seemingly innocent casual conversation in the corridor with one of the investigators revealed the amazing fact that a special department for dealing with French Jews and their tax evasion was involved.

Targeting immigrants to Israel from France, French Jewry boosts demand for Israeli homes not because of antisemitism, but for love of Israel. Through the special division, in addition to mapping the properties of French people in Israel, the tax authority in France has begun direct interrogations of Jewish residents of France who are in the midst of immigrating to Israel, and examining whether they possess money or assets that they did not previously declare, and whether this is the reason why they decided to immigrate to Israel.

According to figures from the Israel Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, immigration from France has increased dramatically in recent years. 1,211 new immigrants arrived in Israel from France in the first half of 2017. A study conducted at Bar-Ilan University showed that the economic benefit for the Israeli economy from the absorption of Jews from France would reach $65 billion. The study assumes that 100,000 immigrants will arrive from France by 2026.

These figures are surprising to no one. Massive purchases of properties in Israel by French people have been spoken of for years, some by immigrants and some not, and a number of international investigations were opened against French people on suspicion of tax offenses and evasion on an enormous scale in France and laundering money in Israel through real estate purchases. These developments apparently attracted the attention of the French tax authority, which decided to target French Jews.

The sources also told Globes that the French tax authority is one of the main tax authorities that contacts the Israel Tax Authority in order to obtain information about French residents with exceptionally large assets in Israel, compared with other countries, but many of the requests are rejected. "They call the Israel Tax Authority almost every day with requests for information about some person or other, but many of the requests are rejected, because they do not meet the conditions of the conventions on exchanges of information. "They are just fishing," says a source involved in information exchanges between the two countries.

The French embassy in Israel said in response, "In the framework of the campaign against tax evasion, the authorities in France conduct investigations concerning individual cases, in accordance with the international agreements. The authorities in France deny the existence of a special department. It is extremely important to state that the things that were written are false.

"Taxes in France are calculated according to risk considerations. There is therefore no connection whatsoever to the national affiliation or ethnic origin of taxpayers. Next year, automatic exchanges of information are scheduled between OECD member countries."

©2017 the Globes (Tel Aviv, Israel) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

Ela Levi-Weinrib


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IAF fighter jets strike Hamas targets for 2nd time on Saturday - Lilach Shoval and Israel Hayom Staff

by Lilach Shoval and Israel Hayom Staff 

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman: Technical analysis shows Iranian-manufactured mortar shells supplied to Salafist groups via the Sinai Peninsula

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman   
Photo: Reuters 

Israeli fighter jets targeted Hamas observation posts in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, in response to rocket fire directed at the Sdot Negev and Shaar Hanegev Regional Councils.
According to an IDF spokesman, the rocket fire "proved once again that Iran, through rogue and radical terrorist groups, is working to plunge the region into turmoil, playing with the lives of Gaza's residents, and could lead to an escalation in the Gaza Strip following years of calm."

The IDF asserted further that while rogue factions were often behind the launch of projectiles into Israel, "Hamas bears full responsibility for the situation and its consequences."

Three rockets were launched toward Israel's south from the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon, during a ceremony marking what would have been the 24th birthday of fallen Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul. Two of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, while a third struck a building inside Israel. No injuries were reported.

In an interview with Israeli television's "Meet the Press" on Saturday, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman pointed an accusatory finger at Tehran.

"We analyzed it [the projectile] and this was an Iranian-manufactured mortar shell supplied to elements in the Gaza Strip," Lieberman said.

Calling the rocket fire "very serious," Lieberman said Hamas was not interested in an escalation of tensions.

According to Lieberman, "The problem is that Hamas is losing deterrence with radical Salafi groups supported by Iran – they get money, support and ideology from global jihadi groups and from Iran. Those same elements are trying to drag us into an all-out war in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas' deterrence has been compromised."

"We shouldn't play into the hands of those Salafist groups trying to drag us [into a war]," Lieberman said.

In the wake of criticism by members of Israel's opposition over the government's handling of the rocket fire, Lieberman accused the critics of being as bad as the Salafists in their efforts to drag Israel into a war.

Lieberman said Israel was "doing everything that needs to be done. There is a deep internal Palestinian rift. The reconciliation [between Hamas and Fatah] is faltering. The government in Ramallah is not transferring the salaries to [government] clerks and [for] electricity. ... There is a very complex, multidimensional reality that we are handling responsibly and with determination.

"It is our job to prevent an escalation. We are not just facing Gaza and the south, there are Iranians and there are challenges on all the borders, including in the north, in Lebanon and Syria. Behind all of them is Iran. It is the source. It is also in Sinai, in Yemen and Iraq."

Lilach Shoval and Israel Hayom Staff


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Watch: Likud unanimously backs sovereignty over Judea, Samaria - Yoni Kempinski

by Yoni Kempinski

Members of Likud's central committee vote on proposal to extend Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

Some 1,500 members of the Likud Central Committee voted unanimously Sunday night in favor of a proposal to extend Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

At a special party meeting at the Avenue Conference Center near Ben Gurion Airport in central Israel, roughly half of the party’s 3,000 central committee members gathered to debate the first major change to the Likud platform since 2005 which was pushed by popular demand, rather than the party chairman.

The meeting was called after 900 members of the central committee signed a petition calling for a debate and vote on the proposal.

While symbolically important, the change to the party’s platform does not directly affect the policies of the ruling Likud faction.

In 2005, central committee members succeeded in pushing a vote against then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s planned disengagement from Gaza and parts of northern Samaria.

Despite the vote, however, in August of that year, the Sharon government carried out the planned withdrawals, dismantling a total of 25 Israeli towns.

Sunday’s resolution “calls on Likud’s elected leaders to work to allow unrestricted construction [in Judea and Samaria], and to extend Israeli law and sovereignty in all the areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria.”

While some top Likud officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, did not attend the event, supporters of the move addressed the gathering, including Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Science Minister Ofir Akunis, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and MK Sharren Haskel.

“Fifty years ago we liberated our ancestral homeland, Judea and Samaria, greater Jerusalem, the Tomb of the Patriarchs [in Hevron], Rachel’s Tomb [in Bethlehem], and the Western Wall,” said Minister Haim Katz ahead of the vote.

“But today, unfortunately, after 50 years, when half a million Israeli citizens… are discriminated against when it comes to construction and security.”

“The time has come to end the [requirement] that the army approve the [construction] of every kindergarten, road, or even repair work for [public] lighting.”

Likud Central Committee meeting

Yoni Kempinski


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A Closer Look at Apocalyptic Predictions on Trump's Tax Reform - A. Jeffrey L. Scribner

by A. Jeffrey L. Scribner

Is the sky really falling?

On December 20, Congress passed a historic tax reform and tax cut measure that was signed into law by the president on December 22. Critics of this measure have been insisting that the reduction in taxes will exacerbate the deficit and long-term debt. Nothing of the sort will happen, even though several members of Congress and even the CBO think it might. 

We can show via historical graphs produced by the Saint Louis Federal Reserve Bank that changes in tax policy and rates since 1929 have had little effect on the amount of money collected by the federal government as a percentage of GDP. (See here.)

Put another way using historical data, it appears that the only thing that has a great effect on federal government receipts is GDP, not the type and rate of tax levied. Thus, persons seeking to raise government revenues would be wise to do things that would promote GDP growth. Since the probable effect of the tax reform and tax cut passed by Congress is an increase in GDP, it appears that those objecting are uninformed or disingenuous.

Moreover, while the tax reform that was enacted will improve economic growth and boost government revenues, it could have been even better in both respects. First, and most importantly, the corporate rate should have been set even lower – preferably to ten percent or lower. A zero corporate rate would pay bigger dividends in both growth and government receipts. Corporations do not really pay taxes anyway. Their employees, customers, and shareholders are the real payers of the corporate tax.

Second, the personal income tax was left too complicated. Simplicity reduces compliance costs and lessens the drag of income taxes on economic growth. Some politicians have insisted on some form of deduction or credit for state taxes, mortgage interest, child credits, and other pet causes. All of these things complicate the tax and increase the compliance cost and the drag on economic growth. Moreover, with the increased standard deduction, very few taxpayers will really benefit from these deductions. When you hear the cry to insert this or that deduction or credit into the tax code, remind all around you that there will be a cost in terms of economic growth and government receipts.

Lets take this a step farther. The Saint Louis Fed also published a chart showing the relationship between federal government spending and GDP. (See here.)

From this chart we can see why there are deficits and government debt. We can also see that Congress can prevent deficits and any addition to the debt by promoting GDP growth as noted above and holding spending to some percentage of GDP that is lower than receipts.

Since WWII, federal government receipts have averaged about 17% to 19% of GDP. If Congress would insist that total outlays cannot be greater than 17% of GDP, there could be no deficit and no growth in the debt. Picking a lower percentage of GDP would guarantee a surplus.

While we are on the subject of simple truths about taxing and spending, let's once again consider compliance costs and tax simplification. Any tax provision that makes compliance more complicated costs the taxpayer more to pay his taxes and results in lower receipts for the government. Therefore a simple, no-deductions flat tax is the best from a revenue and compliance point of view.

Many members of the House and the Senate profess not to know the simple facts presented above and increase spending on their pet projects rather than rein in total spending to match receipts as a percentage of GDP. Moreover, since we have practiced spend, spend, spend for several years, we are now at a point where total outlays must be curtailed while outlays for some areas such as infrastructure and defense must be increased. This will increase the desire of some senators and congressmen to make spending deals that will exceed the limits that must be met in order to stop budget deficits and additions to the already huge national debt. For more on this subject, see here and here.

In the fall of 2018, we will elect or re-elect all of the members of the House and about one third of the Senate. Will the voters make sure that the candidates for the House and Senate stake out a position on taxation and spending that recognizes the distinctions drawn above? If not, why not? Think about it. Our security and prosperity and those of our children and grandchildren might depend on it.

Jeff Scribner is a retired Army officer and president of ASI Enterprises, Inc., an investment bank serving small and medium-sized businesses. He can be reached at


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Mass Migration: Uninvited Guests - Philip Carl Salzman

by Philip Carl Salzman

The success of immigrants in North America is a result of immigrants assimilating to Western culture and society, not due to immigrants clinging to the laws and practices of the lands they have left behind.

  • Refugees and immigrants bring their own cultures, their own assumptions, beliefs, values, fears and hopes from their homelands. One cannot just assume that they wish to integrate or assimilate into the Western culture. Willingness to assimilate might well vary from individual to individual, and from culture to culture.
  • A society can only function smoothly if there is a large degree of agreement and commonality regarding to what language people shall speak, what rules they should follow in dealing with one another, and how government is to be established. Where is it written that all cultures are necessarily compatible with one another?
  • The success of immigrants in North America is a result of immigrants assimilating to Western culture and society, not due to immigrants clinging to the laws and practices of the lands they have left behind. We welcome them to become Americans and Canadians; we welcome to them to the West.
In our desire to insure an inclusive, humane, and tolerant society, we seem to have constructed a simplistic and inadequate picture of refugees and illegal immigrants.

Perhaps the majority of Americans and Canadians do not approach the question of refugees and immigrants with an open mind, but with a set of "progressive" assumptions:
  • The idea that all cultures are equally good and equally valuable, sometimes known as "cultural relativism." When faced with an uninvited influx of outsiders, we do not worry about what culture the incomers are bringing, because, whatever it is, it supposedly must be fine.
  • That multiculturalism, the coexistence of a variety of cultures, is desirable. The more cultures in a multicultural society, the more cultural diversity, the better.
  • That in our society, and in the world generally, each person falls into the category of either oppressor or oppressed. our simple classification of oppressor and oppressed can generally class refugee claimants and illegal migrants as oppressed, because they are leaving a place of conflict or poverty or despotism, are people of colour, are Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist or from a smaller, non-Christian group, or are homosexual. We therefore define refugee claimants and illegal refugees as oppressed, as victims, desperate, and in need. We view them through a humanitarian lens, with generosity and sympathy.
If we open our hearts to the oppressed, we must view the oppressors with disdain. Who are the oppressors? We are quite certain that women are oppressed by men, that homosexuals are oppressed by heterosexuals, that people of colour are oppressed by whites, that the poor are oppressed by the well off, and that Muslims are oppressed by Christians and Jews.

So while our inclusiveness, tolerance, and rejection of hate furthers multiculturalism, our society is rife with villains to be attacked and suppressed: whites, men, heterosexuals, the financially well off, Christians and Jews. We do not wish to hate, but we righteously hate oppressors. Gender, race, religion, and sexual preference have once again become reasons to reject whole categories of people, just different categories of people than before.

Framed primarily by our humanitarian intentions, we reduce refugees and immigrants to no more than people in need for whom we should have sympathy. But perhaps we should hesitate to reduce people to such empty general categories, and dehumanize them by ignoring the culture that they carry with them. Refugees and immigrants bring their own cultures, their own assumptions, beliefs, values, fears and hopes from their homelands. One cannot just assume that they wish to integrate or assimilate into the Western culture. Willingness to assimilate might well vary from individual to individual, and from culture to culture.

Immigrants from South Asia have grown up in a hierarchical caste society, in which higher castes are pure and lower castes polluted. Sharing food or marrying is forbidden between low castes and high castes. Violators of these rules may suffer penalties of beating, gang rape, and even execution. There are cases of Canadians from South Asia who have been convicted of murdering a young family member who grew up in Canada, and who married into a low caste.

Immigrants from the Middle East have grown up in societies where men are in charge of women, and it is women's duty to obey and maintain modesty in demeanor and behaviour. There are cases of Americans or Canadians originating in the Middle East whose female family members become "too American" or "too Canadian," too immodest to protect family honour. Their family members, to defend family honour, commit murder, especially of their women. We call these as honor killings, because they are motivated by the desire to defend family and community honor, and are commonly approved of by many members of the ethnic community.

Muslim immigrants have grown up in a tradition defined by sharia law, which forbids, on pain of death, a Muslim leaving Islam; criticism of religion, and homosexual acts. Women who have suffered rape are considered to have engaged in adultery, in some Muslim countries subject to death by stoning. Non-Muslim Christian or Jewish "infidels" must pay protection money, called a jizya, annually to be considered inferior dhimma, tolerated fourth-class citizens, with whom Muslims should not become friends. Other infidels, such as Yazidis, who are not "protected" are subject to murder, capture, gang rape, and sexual slavery, all legitimate under sharia law.[1]

Many of these rules and penalties are totally inconsistent with Western law and with human rights as defined by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the US Bill of Rights, and the UN's Universal Charter of Human Rights.

Canadians and Americans presumably do not wish to see their rights replaced by sharia law or caste law. Some immigrants, however, hold their caste and religious law above Western law, and would like to see caste and religious law replace Western law. In the meantime, they act as a fifth column, attempting to undermine Western law and custom, whether by electoral pressure or violent attack. Some Western legislators, in the face of immigrant and minority pressure, back pedal, in the name of multiculturalism and diversity, and withdraw support for free speech, for the right of criticism of religion, for freedom of sexual choice, and other individual liberties.

There is, unfortunately, no simple policy solution. Policies directed at categories of people based on origin or religion are prejudicial and illiberal. You cannot know someone's beliefs, values, and propensities from labels indicating their origin, ethnicity, or religion. Immigration policy needs to be directed toward individuals, welcoming those whose values and attitudes are consistent with Western culture. Close scrutiny of applicants is in our collective interest. We should accept those immigrants who are willing and able to respect American and Canadian law and Western culture, and who wish to join other Americans and Canadians in building a society based on human rights.

Are all cultures around the world equally good and equally valuable? The evidence indicates that cultures are often very different and have very different results for those living under them. While North American, Western Europe, and many English-speaking countries are all, for example, highly democratic, elsewhere in the world, such as the Middle East, all countries (but Israel) are despotic. While there is political freedom in the West, all Arab countries are regarded as "unfree," with the exception of Morocco, which is "partially free." In the non-Arab Middle East, all are "unfree," except Turkey, which, at least for now, is "partially free."

Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, have rejected the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the grounds that it is inconsistent with their culture and religion, and instead wrote the Cairo Declaration Human Rights, ratified by the Organization of Islamic Conference (now the 57 member Organization of Islamic Cooperation) on August 5, 1990. In it, human rights are subordinated to Islamic law, Sharia If something is permitted in Sharia, such as stoning a woman to death for adultery or rape, it is a human right; if it is not permitted in Sharia, it is not a human right.

Development, measured by a wide variety of indices, varies greatly among the regions of the world. The UN Development Program Arab Human Development Reports places the Arab world at the bottom or second to the bottom in most indices of human development, while Europe and North America are at the top. If all countries are equally good and valuable, why should a vast number of people be trying to escape the Middle East and Africa to come to North America and Europe? Is that not testimony to which countries and cultures they judge as "better" and which they judge as "worse"?

Is "the more the merrier" in multiculturalism sensible? Can all cultures, all ways of life, coexist happily? A society can only function smoothly if there is a large degree of agreement and commonality regarding to what language people shall speak, what rules they should follow in dealing with one another, and how government is to be established. Where is it written that all cultures are necessarily compatible with one another? The success of immigrants in North America is a result of immigrants assimilating to Western culture and society, not due to immigrants clinging to the laws and practices of the lands they have left behind.

Finally, the culturally empty category of "oppressed" is also not necessarily helpful in deciding which potential immigrants would make a positive contribution to the receiving society. Societies are built on common sentiment, not on sentimental sympathy for alleged "victims."

Immigrants built Canada and the United States, but not by flying the flags of their old country and lobbying for the ancient laws. Immigrants joined in with others to build a common culture, a unified government and legal system, and a vibrant economy. We are multicultural in the sense that we welcome people from all over the world, but we welcome them to share our rights and freedoms, our challenges and opportunities, and to benefit with us. We welcome them to become Americans and Canadians; we welcome to them to the West.

Immigrants built Canada and the United States by joining in with others to build a common culture, a unified government and legal system, and a vibrant economy. Pictured: Newly naturalized U.S. citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony November 23, 2016, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier)

[1] Bat Ye'or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Madison, NJ: Associated University Presses, 2001.

Philip Carl Salzman is professor of anthropology at McGill University, Middle East Forum Fellow, and Frontier Centre Senior Fellow.


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