Friday, March 17, 2017

US urges UN to scrap report accusing Israel of apartheid - Eli Leon, Shlomo Cesana and Reuters

by Eli Leon, Shlomo Cesana and Reuters

U.N. spokesman: Report does not reflect views of U.N. chief

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley
Photo credit: Reuters

Eli Leon, Shlomo Cesana and Reuters


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Report: Russia ready to sacrifice Iran to improve US ties - Erez Linn and Israel Hayom Staff

by Erez Linn and Israel Hayom Staff 

"Despite the Iranian-Russian cooperation in recent years in various fields, Iran currently feels that Russia is abandoning it in favor of other vital interests, such as reaching understandings with the U.S."

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Photo credit: AP

Russia is willing to use Iran as a bargaining chip to move closer to the United States, and as a result Moscow's relations with Tehran have been hurt, the Middle East Media Research Institute said in a report released Wednesday. 

The report cites several articles and analyses showing that Russia is increasingly viewing its relations with Iran as a liability rather than an asset. 

"In February 2017, the Russian news website reiterated this message, with an analysis by Dmitri Nersevov, who said that Iran is becoming a major problem, first and foremost for Russia's interests," the report said. 

Another article cited was a Feb. 14 piece in the Russian daily Kommersant in which Maxim Yusin wrote that "Moscow considers Iran a 'capricious' and 'unpredictable' partner," and that this "opens a certain window of opportunity for [U.S. President] Donald Trump's diplomacy."

According to the MEMRI report, "Russia is interested in an arrangement in Syria and sees itself as the decisive element regarding its future, while Iran sees itself in this role both in accordance with the expansionist ideology of the Islamic revolution regime and in light of the massive losses it has suffered in Syria in recent years." 

The report also noted media reports suggesting that clashes have erupted between Russian and Iranian forces in Syria. It said that according to one Iranian media site, Russia is essentially trying to marginalize Iran in Syria and "eliminate" its ability to shape Syria's future. 

"Despite the Iranian-Russian cooperation in recent years in various fields, Iran currently feels that Russia is abandoning it in favor of other vital interests, such as reaching understandings with the U.S. to promote the lifting of sanctions, and with Turkey as its senior regional partner," the report said. 

It said that according to the Iranian website Amadnews, Iran's strategy to bring Russia closer is two-pronged. 

"The strategy is based on two central elements: The first element is to attempt to tie Russia to Iran with a strategic alliance, as part of which Russia will receive extensive benefits from Iran in the form of financial compensation for Western sanctions against it totaling $50 billion, and military-strategic privileges such as military bases and ports in the Persian Gulf on Iran's southern border. The latter aspect has strategic importance vis-a-vis the U.S., and is historically significant to imperialist Russian interests," the report said. 

"The second element is to operate Iran's proxies such as Hezbollah and the Palestinian factions in order to spark a war against Israel, which would occupy the Trump administration and remove the pressure it is exerting on Iran."

The report concluded that Russia "evidently views Iran as a bargaining chip vis-a-vis the U.S., as an open offer to the Trump administration whose implementation depends on the American response."

Erez Linn and Israel Hayom Staff


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Living with Anti-Semitism in America - Ron Jager

by Ron Jager

The myth of multiculturalism, propagated wholeheartedly by the American Jewish liberal community, will implode as the volume of anti-Semitism becomes louder

American Jews and the Jewish organizations that represent them have demanded, in thundeing pleas, that President Trump take action and end the current tsunami of anti-Semitic attacks on the American Jewish community. This is just and reasonable. Expecting political leadership not to abdicate their responsibility and at best act as conflict managers only allows a problem to fester and proliferate. Political leaders act to change a situation, leading a nation to a better place, allowing the people to feel secure and not under threat. This is a natural expectation that any normal public can expect of their national leadership.

Despite anti-Semitic acts being a relatively common occurrence way before the presidential campaign, since President Trump's election, these ripples of anti-Semitic hatred have blossomed into a giant wave. American Jews have become consumed with trepidation and are beginning to realize that they have every right to stand up and demand that the president take action and end this vile anti-Semitism. Local television channels in the United States are flooded with footage of small children holding the hands of adults walking next to them and trying to catch up with them. The adults, meanwhile, are seen trying to get the little ones to walk a bit faster without making them panic. From North Carolina to Maryland, from Alabama to Rhode Island, thousands of children have been evacuated from Jewish community centers and schools, as if it is happening everywhere.

Yet this very same American Jewish leadership, who in recent weeks have been banging on the walls of the White House demanding that the current wave of anti-Semitism be stopped immediately, have for the latter part of the past quarter of a century demanded that the Israeli public, and the Israeli political leadership, continue with business as usual, despite the incessant Palestinian Arab incitement and blatant anti-Semitism in Israel.

Palestinian Arab anti-Semitism has long been recognized as the Arab world's prominent vehicle for the hatred of the Jews. From academics teaching that Judaism permits murder and rape of non-Jews to religious leaders teaching that Islam demands the extermination of Jews, Palestinian anti-Semitism is a compelling force driving hatred and terror. The Palestinian Authority depicts Jews as the archetypal force of evil throughout history. Jews are said to be responsible for all the world's problems: wars, financial crises, even the spreading of AIDS. Palestinians have long claimed to receptive ears that Jews are a danger to humanity.

Palestinian incitement to murder Jews has always been a natural outgrowth of anti-Semitic incitement rampant in Palestinian society, expressed at all levels without hesitation and without sanction. In Palestinian society, no one is ever held accountable for anti-Semitic incitement. This has never prevented American Jewish leaders from meeting with and supporting the Palestinian people and their leaders.

When Jews attack Jews, and when Jews deny the State of Israel the basic right of self-defense afforded to all nations of the world, thereby making it OK to express hatred of Israel, then they are invoking hatred toward themselves and hatred towards the Jews of America. Over the years, since the heyday of the Oslo agreement, American Jews, liberal Jews, have bent over backward supporting the case of the Palestinian Arabs, while here in Israel, the Palestinians have made anti-Semitism and incitement the backbone of the Palestinian education syllabus from kindergarten and up. Is it any wonder that the world has gotten used to the hatred of Jews and a culture of unabated anti-Semitism?

In America, the irony of all this is that over the past eight years of the Obama presidency, the administration opened the gates and encouraged millions of Muslims to flood into America. As with the Palestinians, anti-Semitism is rife in the Arab world, with over 80 percent of the Muslim public holding strongly anti-Semitic views. Yet this anti-Semitism, harbored by a large portion of Muslims, has never stopped these same Jewish organizations, these liberal Jews, from being at the front lines of demonstrations or political action when President Trump attempted to stop this unrestricted refuge admission into America. These Jews never ever expressed any concern that supporting this continuing addition of anti-Semitic Muslims to American society would create a breeding ground for the kind of anti-Semitism that the American Jewish community is experiencing today. American liberal Jews have become infatuated with doing "Tikkun Olam" and paving the way for flooding America with Muslim anti-Semites while ignoring the potential problems of admitting an untold number of immigrants from Muslim countries where extreme anti-Semitic sentiments are mundane and unrestricted.

All this will not end well. With no tradition of assimilation or integration into Western societies, Europe being the best example of this, the restive Muslim minorities that have entered America by the millions over the past eight years will only grow louder, and the level of anti-Semitism will get much worse before it gets better. The myth of multiculturalism, propagated wholeheartedly by the American Jewish liberal community, will implode as the volume of anti-Semitism becomes louder and more brazen. The American melting pot, a symbol of America for the millions and millions of immigrants over the past century, will cease to exist, leaving these anti-Semitic and anti-American Muslim minorities to reproduce, in America, the anti-Semitic and cultural squalor they claim to have wanted to flee.

Ron Jager, a 25-year veteran of the IDF, served as a field mental health officer and commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGOs implementing psycho-trauma and psycho-education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel and is a strategic adviser to the chief foreign envoy of Judea and Samaria. Contact:


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Geert Wilders and the Real Story of the Election - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

The patriotic revolution continues.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

The Dutch Labor Party used to dominate Maastricht. The ancient city gave its name to the Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union. In this election, the Labor Party fell from a quarter of the vote to a twentieth.

Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, which advocates withdrawing from the EU, is now the largest party in the birthplace of the European Union.

And the growing strength of the Freedom Party can be felt not only on the banks of the Maas River, but across the waterways of the Netherlands. A new wind of change has blown off the North Sea and ruffled feathers in Belgisch Park.

In The Hague, where Carnegie’s Peace Palace hosts the World Court while the humbler Noordeinde Palace houses King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, the internationalist institutions colliding with the nationalist ones, the United Nations rubbing up against the Dutch parliament and Supreme Court, the Freedom Party has become the second largest party despite the 15% Muslim population.

In Rotterdam, where Muslim rioters shouted, “Allahu Akbar” and anti-Semitic slurs and where Hamas front groups are organizing a conference, the Freedom Party is now the second largest political party. In that ancient city on the Rotte that had the first Muslim mayor of a major European city, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of the Labor Party who was being groomed for Prime Minister,  estimates are that Labor fell from 32 percent to just 6 percent. That is strikingly similar to what took place in Maastricht.

But nearly half of Rotterdam is made up of immigrants. Muslims make up 13% of the population. But turnout hit 72% and after the Muslim riots, the Freedom Party only narrowly trails the ruling VVD.

The Freedom Party has become the largest party in Venlo while the Labor Party has all but vanished.

And that is the real story of the Dutch election.

The truly final results will only be known next week. But the current numbers show that the Freedom Party has become the second largest political party in Parliament having gained five seats while the Labor Party has disastrously lost 29 seats.

Labor hit a post-war low. The media is spinning this as Prime Minister Rutte’s defeat of Geert Wilders, but the Labor half of the Second Rutte Cabinet just went up in flames. VVD lost quite a few seats, but remains the largest party only because so much of the overall vote had dissipated. Rutte will now have to awkwardly build an unstable coalition out of four parties just to avoid dealing with Wilders.

It is quite possible though that Rutte will be trading the somewhat moderate Labor for GroenLinks which was formed out of, among others, the Communist Party of the Netherlands. When the media cheers that the “moderates” have defeated that terrible extremist, Geert Wilders, what they aren’t mentioning is that the alternative “moderate” coalitions may include the daughter party of the Communist Party.

The election was, in a sense, always rigged. The political system of the Netherlands fragments the vote and then puts it back together in government coalitions. The demonization of Wilders and the PVV was meant to ensure that even if his political party had won a majority, it would not have been allowed to form a government. And so Wilders won more by being in the second spot than by achieving the majority that some polls had predicted, while leaving the PVV unable to form a government.

Despite the attempts to kill it, smear it and destroy it, the Freedom Party continues to rise. And its enemies are being forced to respond to its ideas. The dangerous campaign by Turkey’s Islamist butcher, complete with threats and intimidation, helped Rutte salvage his government. But not his coalition.

The centrist politics that made Rutte’s government possible are imploding. The decline of Rutte’s VVD and Labor is an unmistakable rejection of the status quo. The gains in this election flowed to parties further out on the spectrum on the right and the left. The traditionally moderate Dutch are losing their patience. The polarization is eliminating the center and replacing it with some hard choices.

Geert Wilders and the PVV remain the embodiment of that choice.

Wilders had spoken of a “Patriotic Spring” sweeping the West. After the election, he said that the election results were a thing to be proud of. “The Patriotic Spring continues onward. And it has only begun.”

The media’s celebrations may also be badly misguided for another reason. In the wake of Brexit, the media largely forgot how it had mocked UKIP and Farage as failures. But a political party doesn’t always have to win elections to have an impact. Rigging the system against UKIP didn’t keep the UK in the EU. Instead it ultimately had the opposite effect. Keeping Wilders and the PVV down may backfire.

Geert Wilders has fundamentally changed the conversation about Islam and immigration. And the political parties of the Netherlands are increasingly reacting to him. Wilders took an election in a country whose political shifts are generally of little interest to those living outside it and made it a matter of international interest. His courage and common sense have made him into a world leader.

Wilders had the courage to defy the assassins and murderers, the politically correct scolds and the bleeding hearts, the pallid men and women who counsel moderation in all things and at all times, to tell the truth about Islam and Islamic migration. That is what he will go on doing even as he lives under threat. And his courage inspires opponents of the Jihad in the Netherlands and around the world.

This election was an erosion of faith in the establishment and a show of support for Wilders. To become Prime Minister Wilders, the PVV will either need a truly massive victory or a fundamental change in the political environment. Wilders understands this. He knows that the role of his party is to fight a failing establishment. Everything he does builds support and momentum for either of the two roads.

The media is cheering a defeat that never happened. And just as with Brexit, it may find that it had overlooked the seeds of its own destruction in the dirty politics of its own making.

“This patriotic revolution,” Geert Wilders said, “whether today or tomorrow, will take place anyway.”

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.


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Anti-Semitism Dressed Up As “Education” - Discover The Networks

by Discover The Networks

IAK's account of Israeli history is riddled with biases and falsehoods.

Founded in 2001 by Alison Weir, If Americans Knew (IAK) describes itself as a “research and information-dissemination institute” that focuses primarily on “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. foreign policy regarding the Middle East, and media coverage of this issue.” The organization's mission — rooted in the premise that the U.S. media are largely infected with a pro-Israel bias — is to “inform and educate the American public on issues of major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported.”

IAK asserts that because of what it calls the “Israeli military occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians in those regions “live in an odd and oppressive limbo” where “they have no nation, no citizenship, and no ultimate power over their own lives.” By IAK's telling, “Israel is one of the leading violators” of the Geneva Conventions, “a set of principles instituted after World War II to ensure that civilians would 'never again' suffer as they had under Nazi occupation.” Lamenting that “Palestinians live, basically, in a prison in which Israel holds the keys,” IAK claims that “Israeli forces regularly confiscate private land; imprison individuals without process — including children — and physically abuse them under incarceration; demolish family homes; bulldoze orchards and crops; place entire towns under curfew; destroy shops and businesses; [and] shoot, maim, and kill civilians.”

Arguing that it is only because of “the money and weaponry provided by the United States” that Israel is able to “impos[e] an ethnically discriminatory nation on land that was previously multicultural,” IAK calls for a complete cessation of all U.S. aid to the Jewish state. “American support of the Israeli government,” the group elaborates, “... places us [the U.S.] at war with populations whose desperate plight we are helping to create and … makes us an accomplice to war crimes and an accessory to oppression.” In addition, IAK charges that U.S. economic assistance to Israel not only “prop[s] up a system of discrimination that is antithetical to American principles of equality and democracy,” but also “interferes with American relations with the oil-producing nations” while siphoning vital tax revenues away from “domestic needs.”

In an effort to shield itself from charges of anti-Semitism, IAK is usually careful not to disparage “the Jews” explicitly; instead it typically refers to subsets of Jews such as “the Zionists,” “the Israel lobby,” or “the neocons” whose “dual loyalties” allegedly undermine America's national sovereignty.

IAK's account of Israeli history is riddled with biases and falsehoods. For example, the organization maintains that the Second Palestinian Intifada (2000-05) was “sparked when an Israeli general, Ariel Sharon, known for his slaughter of Palestinian civilians throughout his career, [provocatively] visited a Jerusalem holy site, accompanied by over a thousand armed Israeli soldiers” who subsequently overreacted with murderous barbarism to “some Palestinian youths [who] threw stones” at them. This propagandistic account has been thoroughly discredited by historians.

While emphasizing that Palestinian civilians were killed and injured in significantly greater numbers than their Israeli counterparts during the Second Intifada, IAK entirely omits the context in which those deaths occurred. That is, it does not mention that Israel was forced to respond to wave upon wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. Nor does it acknowledge that Israel’s military efforts were aimed exclusively at terrorists, many of whom used private homes and heavily populated areas as bases for their operations, thereby placing civilians in harm’s way.

In its final analysis, IAK describes the Second Intifada as a justified “rebellion” that Palestinians reluctantly launched in response to the relentless “hardship and humiliation” that Israeli abuses had been heaping upon them. The purpose of the rebellion, says IAK, was “to create a nation free from foreign oppression,” similar to the way “the American Revolutionary War” was in essence “the American intifada against Britain.” In IAK's version of events, Palestinians resorted to suicide bombings only because they had concluded, much to their dismay, that “armed resistance ha[d] become necessary – much as Americans supported war after the attack at Pearl Harbor.”

With similar disregard for truth, IAK refers to the 1967 Six Day War as a "Pearl Harbor-like surprise [Israeli] attack on Egypt" — a characterization that, as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) notes, “ignores the fact that before Israel's preemptive strike, Egypt expelled UN peacekeepers meant to separate the two sides, provocatively massed its troops on its border with Israel, threatened to destroy the country, and, in an act of war, illegally blockaded the Israeli port of Eilat.”

CAMERA also reports that Weir and IAK routinely “parrot discredited claims that Israel attacks Palestinians with 'mysterious poison gas'”; “cal[l] Israel an 'apartheid nation'”; “describe Palestinian violence as a 'legitimate right and ... moral duty'”; and even “refer to the founding of Israel as the start of a 'holocaust.'”

In the final analysis, IAK's narrative regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict amounts to nothing more than a vast web of pernicious lies. Its intent is to demonize and delegitimize the state of Israel in the public mind, so as to give, ultimately, moral justification for its destruction. Indeed, there exists no stronger evidence of this agenda than IAK's own, candidly articulated support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement — a Hamas-inspired initiative that aims to use various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to advance the Hamas agenda of permanently destroying Israel as a Jewish nation-state.

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Europe's Turkish Awakening - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

Europe looks united in not allowing Turkey to export its violent political polarization into the Old Continent.

Dutch police contain a riot that broke out in Rotterdam on March 11 when pro-Erdogan crowds violently protested the Dutch government's refusal of entry to Turkish government ministers.
Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal that would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. But Turkey is not like any other European country that joined or will join the EU: The Turks' choice of a leader, in office since 2002, too visibly makes this country the odd one out.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now campaigning to broaden his constitutional powers, which would make him head of state, head of government and head of the ruling party -- all at the same time -- is inherently autocratic and anti-Western. He seems to view himself as a great Muslim leader fighting armies of infidel crusaders. This image with which he portrays himself finds powerful echoes among millions of conservative Turks and [Sunni] Islamists across the Middle East. That, among other excesses in the Turkish style, makes Turkey totally incompatible with Europe in political culture.

Yet, there is always the lighter side of things. Take, for example, Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara and a bigwig in Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP). In February Gokcek claimed that earthquakes in a western Turkish province could have been organized by dark external powers (read: Western infidels) aiming to destroy Turkey's economy with an "artificial earthquake" near Istanbul. According to this conspiracy theory, the mayor not only claims that the earthquake in western Turkey was the work of the U.S. and Israel, but also that the U.S. created the radical Islamic State (ISIS). In fact, according to him, the U.S. and Israel colluded to trigger an earthquake in Turkey so they could capture energy from the Turkish fault line.

Europe looks united in not allowing Turkey to export its violent political polarization into the Old Continent.

Matters between Turkey and Europe are far more tense today than ridiculous statements from politicians who want to look pretty to Erdogan. The president, willingly ignoring his own strong anti-Semitic views, recently accused Germany of "fascist actions" reminiscent of Nazi times, in a growing row over the cancellation of political rallies aimed at drumming up support for him among 1.5 million Turkish citizens in Germany.

The Dutch, Erdogan apparently thinks, are no different. In a similar diplomatic row over Turkish political rallies in the Netherlands, Erdogan described the Dutch government as "Nazi remnants and fascists." After barring Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from entering the country by airplane, the Dutch authorities also escorted another Turkish minister out of the country. Quite a humiliation, no doubt. An angry Erdogan promised the Netherlands would pay a price for that.

Europe, not just Germany and the Netherlands, looks united in not allowing Erdogan to export Turkey's highly tense and sometimes even violent political polarization into the Old Continent. There are media reports that the owner of a venue in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, has now cancelled a pro-Erdogan rally, although Sweden's foreign ministry said it was not involved in the decision.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently accused Germany of "fascist actions" and described Dutch leaders as "Nazi remnants and fascists."

Europe's anti-Erdogan sentiment is going viral. Denmark's prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, said that he asked his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, to postpone a planned visit because of tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands.

Although Turkey thanked France for allowing Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to address a gathering of Turkish "expats" in the city of Metz, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on Turkish authorities to "avoid excesses and provocations."

None of the incidents that forcefully point to Europe's "Turkish awakening" happened out of the blue. At the beginning of February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Erdogan held a tense meeting in Ankara. Erdogan clearly rejected Merkel's mention of "Islamist terror" on grounds that "the expression saddens Muslims because Islam and terror cannot coexist."

Erdogan objected to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's use of the term "Islamist terror" on the grounds that it "saddens Muslims because Islam and terror cannot coexist."

The row came at a time when a German investigation into Turkish imams in Germany spying on Erdogan's foes made signs of reaching out to other parts of Europe. Peter Pilz, an Austrian lawmaker, said that he was in possession of documents from 30 countries that revealed a "global spying network" at Turkish diplomatic missions.

At the beginning of March, after Turkey said it would defy opposition from German and Dutch authorities and continue holding rallies in both countries, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern called for an EU-wide ban on campaign appearances by Turkish politicians.

In response, further challenging Europe, Turkey arrested Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German reporter for a prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, on charges of "propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting the public to violence." Yucel had been detained after he reported on emails that a leftist hacker collective had purportedly obtained from the private account of Berat Albayrak, Turkey's energy minister and Erdogan's son-in-law.

Erdogan's propaganda war on "infidel" Europe has the potential to further poison both bilateral relations with individual countries and with Europe as a bloc. Not even the Turkish "expats" are happy. The leader of Germany's Turkish community accused Erdogan of damaging ties between the two NATO allies. Gokay Sofuoglu, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, which is an umbrella for 270 member organizations, said: "Erdogan went a step too far. Germany should not sink to his level."

The most recent wave of tensions between Erdogan's Turkey and Europe, which it theoretically aspires to join, have once again unveiled the long-tolerated incompatibility between Turkey's predominantly conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western political culture and Europe's liberal values.

Turkey increasingly looks like Saddam Hussein's Iraq. During my 1989 visit to Iraq a Turkish-speaking government guide refused to discuss Iraqi politics, justifying his reluctance as: "In Iraq half the population are spies... spying on the other half." Erdogan's Turkey has officially embarked on a journey toward Western democracy. Instead, its Islamist mindset is at war with Western democracy.

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based political analyst and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Hezbollah ratchets up murder machinery on global scale - Mordechai Sones

by Mordechai Sones

As weapon production responsibility is transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Bolivia munitions factory raided: 'Explosives for 5 big attacks'

Aftermath of Hezbollah missile attack on Tzfat in 2006
Aftermath of Hezbollah missile attack on Tzfat in 2006
Flash 90
The Saudi newspaper Ouchaz reported Thursday that South American security forces foiled a massive Hezbollah attack.

According to the report, forces raided a munitions storage facility in the suburb of La Paz, one of Bolivia's two capitals. The foiled plans included attacks on Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. The raid revealed mechanisms and material demonstrating the ability to produce a 2.5 ton bomb, and a four-wheel-drive type vehicle being prepared as a car bomb was also seized.

The report comes soon after the Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida cited the report of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander's aide, according to which responsibility for Iranian weapons and missile plants has been transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

According to the report translated and distributed by MEMRI researchers, the factories Iran recently established in Lebanon are at a depth of over 50 meters and are protected from bombings. The missiles are manufactured in various parts of the factories and are finally assembled into one unit.

Al Jarida further brings an anonymous report that after Israel destroyed a few years ago an Iranian weapons factory in Sudan, which supplied weapons to Hezbollah, and bombed the arms supply that was intended for Hezbollah via Syria, the Revolutionary Guards began a project to build weapons factories in Lebanon.

It is further reported that international experts were brought to Tehran University for planning and development of factories that are located at a depth of hundreds of feet below ground. "These plants were built at a depth of over 50 meters and above are various layers of several types of barricades so that Israeli aircraft are unable to harm them. Also, the missiles are not manufactured at one facility, but in parts at various plants and then finally they are assembled into a single unit."

Al-Jarida's source says that the factories transfer to Hezbollah occurred gradually and for the past three months these enterprises have come under the full supervision and management of Hezbollah.

The source claims that Hezbollah is capable of producing various types of missiles, which can reach more than 500 km, including surface-to-ground missiles, ground-to-sea missiles, light, fast craft-launched torpedoes, in addition to UAVs for espionage purposes and weapons and missiles-bearing drones, anti-tank missiles, and armored speedboats.

Mordechai Sones


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U.S. Airlines Flee Castro's Island Hellhole - Monica Showalter

by Monica Showalter

bring your own toilet paper

President Obama made a big deal about the resumption of U.S. carrier travel to Cuba. Jetblue in particular got Obama's accolades. After all, when the president of the United States sets the example for Cuba tourist travel, showing how it's all tropical music, classic cars, Cuban cigars, mojitos and dancing like Beyonce out on the Malecon, who could resist?

Today, Jetblue has cut back its flights "to better match demand." And in the last few days, it has been joined by two other airliners, Silver and Frontier, fleeing for their lives like Marielitos.They all said demand wasn't what they expected.

Which is a fancy way of saying what's really going on - Cuba is a tourist hellhole. The service stinks, the amenities are gross, the place is thick with thieves and woman-gropers, the cost is high and the alternatives are out there, In fact, the Caribbean is loaded with pleasant, accommodating destinations well worth a tourist's dollar for a vacation. Taking a vacation at a communist military-run resort really falls more into the Gulag category.

How is this for tourist hell? Observers noticed Cuban customs officials rummaging through tourist luggage and taking what they wanted. When they complained, they were thrown in jail. Some tourist operation they've got there, In fact, the place is a security risk because no professional or U.S. or U.S.-standard officials are involved. Mangy street dogs are what pass for security dogs in Havana. You can expect cockroaches in your breakfast cereal and tourist bulletin boards such as this one say bring your own toilet paper.

Cuba's officials aren't even interested in making their foreign investors happy. American businesses have but one purpose, according to reports, that is to serve through their presence in Havana as bait to attract other sucker businesses, the better to rob them all. 

Like in this case where a:

 ...Canadian businessman who had invested on the island for almost two decades, until he was thrown in jail on corruption charges. The Canadian, Sarkis Yacoubian, spent more than two years in jail before being found guilty and expelled. His case is not unique.
“We know one thing for sure,” Zack said. “He didn’t get his business back. Raúl Castro’s son-in-law did.”

Doing business in Cuba is so dodgy and money-losing, that just doing it now involves reputational risk, according to Control Risks consultancy.

No wonder airlines don't want to be there - the U-turn they are making is rather palpable. And they are not alone. According to the FT:

...about 60 per cent of the businesses established here by foreigners since the fall of communism in eastern Europe have closed, according to government statistics. Some of them —analysts and diplomats say — were forced out by the Cuban government.
What a dump. Best thing out there is to just say no to the hellhole so touted by President Obama.

Monica Showalter


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Greece: A Democracy in Crisis - Maria Polizoidou

by Maria Polizoidou

If Greeks do not take back their homeland, wrote journalist Makis Andronopoulos on January 3, 2017, the guns may well have the last word.

  • The Greek people have just about reached the limits of their strength. The economic situation is tragic. Illegal immigration is out of control, criminality increases day by day. The political system is steeped in corruption and the media have stopped being the communication channel between citizens and the political system. The Greek media are functioning as the praetorian guard of the euro; they favor the massive admission of Muslim populations into Greece and they fiercely attack every voice that disagrees with them.
  • Bishop Ambrossios is urging people to revolt. He characterizes the illegal Muslim immigrants entering the country as conquerors. He also says that Christianity is under attack in Greece, while Islam is being daily reinforced. He says that Greek Orthodox churches are being desecrated, robbed and burned by Muslim immigrants while the state just sits by and looks on.
  • Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras does not fully control his political party; his biggest problem is his cabinet.
When a political system is corrupt, when the media only put out propaganda and not information, when oligarchs control public life, when the political system seems repeatedly directed against the interests of its own people, when a political system ignores the constitution and the will of the majority but draws its legitimacy once every four years through elections, then, although it may be called "democratic", it is a democracy of junk. It is not the people's democracy anymore; instead, it belongs to the elites.

If Greeks do not take back their homeland, wrote journalist Makis Andronopoulos on January 3, 2017, the guns may well have the last word. Andronopoulos wrote that he came to this conclusion after polls showed the detachment of the political system from the Greek people and their tragic way of life.
The director of the newspaper Kathimerini, Alexis Papahelas, wrote on January 29, 2017 that the people are exhausted, that democracy still does not have solution to the problems of citizens and that the situation in Greece reminded him of 2012, when the old political system was wiped out.

Bishop Ambrossios is urging people to revolt. He characterizes the illegal Muslim immigrants entering the country, as conquerors. He also says that Christianity is under attack in Greece while Islam is being daily reinforced. He says that Greek Orthodox churches are being desecrated, robbed and burned by Muslim immigrants while the state just sits by and looks.

Members of the governing coalition say that Germany wants to bring down the Greek government and bring the New Democracy party to power. The leader of New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is the most obedient and tenacious follower of the German policy in Greece.

The Greek parliament has eight political parties, but if one excludes the Greek Communist party and the Golden Dawn party that have their own anti-establishment agenda, the remaining parties express exactly the same policies: All of them are enthusiasts of the eurozone and the European Union; they support open borders and globalization, and have no respect for Greece's religious or cultural roots.

The Greeks, for the last seven years, have been requesting: strict measures against illegal immigration; mass deportations of illegal immigrants; parliamentary independence from supranational organizations; accountability from their leaders; transparency in political life; security and economic liberalization from their lenders; combating corruption and protecting the country's national identity. These requests, however, have been rejected for decades by the system -- with no debate. When those who make these requests are characterized as nationalists and racists and are socially stigmatized instead of being heard, such requests can burst outside the democratic framework. When a supposed democracy and the media do not allow people space to express these opinions and become part of the democratic process, citizens will ask to be heard by other means.

The Greek people have just about reached the limits of their strength. The economic situation is tragic. Illegal immigration is out of control, criminality increases day by day. The political system is steeped in corruption and the media have stopped being the communication channel between citizens and the political system. The Greek media are functioning as the praetorian guard of the euro; they favor the massive admission of Muslim populations into Greece and they fiercely attack every voice that opposes their own.

The country is rotting inside the EU and the eurozone. The Greek people have crashed economically. Greek cities, because of massive illegal immigration, look less like cities in Europe and more like cities in Afghanistan. Banks have begun the mass-confiscation of residences. The people are on the verge of revolt.

The Financial and Industrial Research Foundation, in its latest report, stated that the per capita income of Greek citizens has declined to the level of year 2000.

According to the Bank of Greece, the wealth of Greek households decreased by 37.5% between 2000 and 2015.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in a report, characterizes the Greek people as the unhappiest in the EU. Unemployment is more than 25%, the highest in the eurozone.
Scandals in Greece have been coming to the surface one after another. The Novartis pharmaceutical company, for example -- in one of the largest scandals in Greece -- was found to be giving money to politicians, government officials, journalists, publishers and doctors so that the public hospitals would use Novartis's products. According to the media, those involved are a former prime minister of Greece, who is currently the EU Immigration Commissioner), Dimitris Avramopoulos, and several former ministers.

In addition, the German company Siemens is also alleged to have been bribing Greek politicians to win public contracts. The case is now being heard in court. The Siemens scandal may also end up having a huge impact on the political system.

According to the accusations of May Zanni, Deputy Secretary for Strategic Planning and Communication (from the New Democracy party), Greece's opposition leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and his family seem to have huge dealings with the German company.

In fairness, the current government is working hard so that corruption and mismanagement cases are heard in court.

Also in fairness, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is not a man with bad intentions and tries, within the limits the lenders leave, to negotiate as hard as he can for his country. He knows very well that Greece, to survive, should withdraw from the euro and the European Union. He also knows, as do the Greek people, that Greek history, Greek values and Greek geopolitics always lie close to the naval powers, the USA and Great Britain. Greece has never been able to join the European continental powers.

But a powerless prime minister, even if he wants to lead his country towards salvation, away from the European Union, cannot do it. Tsipras does not fully control his political party; his biggest problem is his cabinet. SYRIZA is a political party that relates politically and ideologically to the US Democratic Party. So, he is committed to follow the US Democratic Party's policies about the European Union, the eurozone and globalization. Perhaps now, with the Trump Administration, at least some of these problems will be able to be addressed.

The media's favorite target, meanwhile, is President Trump and the orderly, peaceful -- truly democratic -- political revolution that brought his presidency about.

Poverty, criminality, corruption, illegal immigration and the delegitimization of the political system are the dots which, if one connects them, point to Article 48 of the Greek constitution. This article, which determines when the government can suspend the constitutional rights of citizens, can be activated when the state is under siege from internal or domestic enemies.

With more taxes in the offing, with more pension and salary cuts, and with Turkey sending more immigrants to Greece, there is no way for Greece to be governed without the government declaring martial law to enforce its policies on the population. There are several ways this can happen.

One possible scenario is that the Germans will force Tsipras to resign and go to elections. If that happens, the opposition parties will win the elections, but in order to deal with the rage of the left and the Greek people -- who will have to pay even more taxes, as the Germans asked -- the Greek government will have to declare a state of emergency.

One possible scenario is that the Germans will force Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to resign and go to elections. Pictured: German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with Tsipras, on December 16, 2016. (Image source: phoenix vor Ort video screenshot)

Another scenario is that the EU will push Tsipras to co-operate with the opposition parties in order to create a broad government coalition that will enforce all the new taxes and pension cuts. In such an event, the Golden Dawn party and the Greek Communist party, along with rebellious citizens, will declare themselves against the entire political system, and take their fight not to the parliament but to the streets.

Maria Polizoidou, a reporter, broadcast journalist, and consultant on international and foreign affairs, is based in Greece.


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