Friday, July 12, 2019

IAEA finds nuclear material in Iran warehouse - Gary Willig

by Gary Willig

International Atomic Energy Agency finds radioative material at site PM Netanyahu revealed during speech to the UN in September.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors found evidence of radioactive activity in a warehouse in Tehran that Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed in his UN speech in September, Channel 13 News reported Thursday evening.

In his speech at the United Nations, Netanyahu claimed that in August 2018, the Iranians removed 15 kilograms of enriched uranium from the atomic reactor, which it did not declare before the International Atomic Energy Agency, and said it was one of a series of steps the Iranians had taken to "cleanse" the site from incriminating evidence. Instead, they claimed that this was a carpet factory and denied that any nuclear activity had taken place.

Israel gave the IAEA information on the suspect warehouse and UN inspectors visited the site several times. At their last visit in March, inspectors found traces of radioactive materials and began preparing a report on their findings.

According to senior Israeli officials, inspections by UN inspectors have found evidence of nuclear material, and in recent weeks it has been confirmed. Senior officials have noted that much evidence has been found of radioactive contamination indicating that nuclear materials that Iran has not reported have been kept.

The storage of nuclear materials and equipment at a secret site without reporting to the IAEA is a grave breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed by Iran.

Such an official statement by the IAEA may have far-reaching international political implications for Iran. The United States and Israel hope that in the next few days the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will publish a report that will include the damning findings and distribute it to all the member states of the organization's board of directors.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with US President Donald Trump regarding the Iranian issue. It was the second such call in a week. The Prime Minister's Office said that Netanyahu expressed appreciation for the President's intention to increase sanctions against Iran.

Gary Willig


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Iran tries to seize British tanker in Persian Gulf - Elad Benari

by Elad Benari

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps unsuccessfully tries to seize British oil tanker after UK seized Iranian tanker in Gibraltar.

Five armed boats belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday, two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident told CNN.

The British Heritage tanker was sailing out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by the Iranian boats, according to the officials.

The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters. A US aircraft was overhead and recorded video of the incident, the two officials added.

The UK's Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose had been escorting the tanker from the rear. It trained its deck guns on the Iranians and gave them a verbal warning to back away, which they did. Montrose is equipped on the deck with 30 mm guns specifically designed to drive off small boats.

UK officials had previously confirmed that the Montrose was in the region performing a "maritime security role."

The incident occurred nearly a week after the British naval force seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar on suspicion that it was carrying crude oil to Syria, in violation of EU sanctions.

The detention of the tanker angered Iran, which condemned the move as an "illegal interception" and summoned the British ambassador in protest.

Last Friday, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander threatened to seize a British ship in retaliation for the capture of the Iranian supertanker.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned earlier Wednesday that the UK "will see the consequences" for last week’s incident.

Rouhani, speaking in a cabinet session, said, "I tell the British that they are the initiator of insecurity and you will understand its consequences later."

Wednesday’s incident also comes a day after the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said that the US and its allies were working to put together a coalition of countries to come up with a system to enforce freedom of navigation in the region amid what the US says are heightened threats from Iran

Elad Benari


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Hamas Defection - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

High-level Hamas operative spills dirty secrets on Turkish terror connections.

The Hamas terrorist organization was stung by the recent high-profile defection of one of its top operatives, Suheib Yousef. Yousef is the son of Hamas co-founder, Sheikh Hassan Yousef. He is also the brother of Mosab Hassan Yousef, who defected from Hamas in the late 1990s. Mosab provided Israel’s Shin Bet counter-terrorist security service with information on Hamas and ultimately converted to Christianity. He also authored the book, “Son of Hamas,” exposing the group’s corruption, duplicity and brutality.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, Suheib, who was stationed in Turkey before his defection, charged that the Hamas leadership is rife with corruption. According to Suheib, “Hamas leaders (in Turkey) live in fancy hotels and luxury towers, their kids learn at private schools and are very well paid by Hamas, they get between four and five thousand dollars a month, they have guards, swimming pools, country clubs.” He also alleged that they routinely dine in the finest Turkish restaurants, charging hundreds of dollars per meal while the average Gazan makes about $350 per month.

This aspect of Suheib’s revelation was unsurprising. Anyone remotely familiar with the inner workings of Hamas knows that this group of thoroughly corrupted, extortionist gangsters lives the high life at the expense of their kinsmen, and that its venality is matched only by its barbarity. But Suheib also shed disturbing light on Turkey’s role in facilitating Hamas terror operations and advancing Iranian intelligence interests.

According to Suheib, Hamas maintains a bustling intelligence section in Turkey where they use sophisticated surveillance equipment to monitor Israeli communications. (He alleged that they also spy on their chief Palestinian rivals, the Palestinian Authority.) The information is then sold to Iran and in exchange, the Islamic Republic provides Hamas with financial backing. Turkish banks facilitate the transactions acting as intermediaries between the Iranians and Hamas. These banks are able to circumvent sanctions because the accounts are held by shell organizations acting under the guise of human rights groups.

Suheib also alleged that Hamas recruits operatives in Turkey and orchestrates West Bank terror attacks from Turkey. One such attack, which involved the murder-kidnapping of three Israeli youths (one of whom maintained dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship), was alleged to have been hatched by Salah Al-Aruri, a Hamas militant operating out of Turkey.

It would be unrealistic to assume that Turkish intelligence is ignorant of these activities. Under Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has gone from being a vocal Hamas supporter to a Hamas enabler, providing the group with a valuable base of operations from which in can conduct financial transactions, fundraising activities, intelligence operations and terrorist attacks. Next to the Islamic Republic, Turkey has become Hamas’s most important ally and enabler, easily surpassing Qatar in obtaining that dubious distinction.

What makes Turkey’s role vis-à-vis Hamas even more troubling is that Turkey is ostensibly a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But Erdogan has demonstrated a penchant for thumbing his nose at the West and NATO, often with little or no repercussion.

Earlier this month, Erdogan’s spokesperson İbrahin Kalın announced that Turkey would host a trilateral summit with Russia and Iran regarding developments in Syria. The proposed summit represents one of several held by the three nations in the past two years to coordinate their activities in Syria. Turkey has moved to establish closer ties with Russia and Iran at the expense of the West, and its departure away from NATO’s sphere of influence into the orbit of those who despise the West has accelerated in recent years.

Despite U.S. protests, Turkey has opted to purchase S-400 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia. That action has led the U.S. to boot Turkey from participation in the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. According to Erdogan, the first components of the S-400 platform are set to be delivered this month. That may provoke additional U.S. sanctions and may lead to a halt in deliveries of a wide variety of armaments to Turkey including the Patriot missile system, CH-47F Chinook heavy lift choppers, UH-60 Black Hawk transport helicopters, and F-16 aircraft as well as spare parts for those systems.

Erdogan however, remains undeterred and has ratcheted up the developing crises with NATO by announcing that his nation would now seek to cooperate on the production of Russia's S-500 surface-to-air missile system. Russia for its part has moved to fill the F-35 void by announcing that it was willing to provide Turkey with Su-57 fighter jets, Russia’s proclaimed fifth generation equivalent of the F-35.

It is clear that Turkey’s mercurial leader by both word and deed has lost all interest in maintaining good relations with the West. His knee-deep involvement with the Hamas terrorist group, Russia, Iran and other sordid groups give ample cause for NATO to reassess its relationship with this increasingly unhinged individual and his rogue regime.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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The Truth about Jerusalem’s City of David – The Lies about Silwan - Nadav Shragai

by Nadav Shragai

The ancient Pilgrimage Road in the City of David is one of the most sensational archaeological discoveries to be made in Jerusalem since Israel’s establishment.

The Truth about Jerusalem’s City of David – The Lies about Silwan
Nachshon Zenton, one of the directors of the street excavation, holds a catapult ball that apparently was used in battle during the Great Revolt. (Shai Halawi, Antiquities Authority)

Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation
No. 624     July 2019
  • The ancient Pilgrimage Road in the City of David is one of the most sensational archaeological discoveries to be made in Jerusalem since Israel’s establishment. On this road, remarkably preserved under the ashes of the Roman destruction, many thousands of Jews in Second Temple times, after a ritual bath in the Shiloah Pool, walked about 700 meters up the hill to the Temple Mount.
  • The site was first excavated more than a hundred years ago by French, British, and American archaeologists, at a time when the State of Israel did not exist and Jerusalem was under Muslim rule.
  • The City of David, which is under archaeological examination, covers about 15 acres – or about 6 percent of the Arab Silwan neighborhood. The Israeli Supreme Court has rebuffed claims that the digging endangers the homes of Silwan residents and has clarified that it is done under strict engineering supervision and in line with professional standards.
  • Hundreds of Arab residents of Silwan have been employed in the excavations under the houses of the village – so much so that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority threatened them and forced them to leave their jobs.
  • The excavations are being done in the vicinity of the Temple Mount and not under it. That has been true of all the excavations Israel has carried out over the years in other parts of the Old City and the Temple Mount vicinity. Al-Aqsa is not in danger; what is in danger is the freedom of scientific archaeological research in this area.

David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt
U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and Envoy Jason Greenblatt wielding a sledgehammer and taking part in the dedication ceremony for the Jerusalem Pilgrimage Road. (screenshot)

From the City of David’s film on the Pilgrimage Road, south of the Temple Mount.1
On July 1, 2019, a photo of the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and U.S. envoy, Jason Greenblatt, striking a thin and symbolic wall with a sledgehammer – a wall built to separate two parts of the ancient Pilgrimage Road – became the headline of the whole event.

This is one of the most sensational archaeological discoveries to be made in Jerusalem since Israel’s establishment. On this road, which was remarkably preserved under the ashes of the Roman destruction, many thousands of Jews – according to the historical descriptions – walked in Second Temple times after a ritual bath in the Shiloah Pool about 700 meters from the Temple Mount.

A fragment of a table inlaid with colored stones.
A fragment of a table inlaid with colored stones. (Kobi Herati, City of David)
Over the past five years, Israeli archaeologists have uncovered 350 meters of this road including numerous artifacts that bring back to life the last battle in Jerusalem, about 2,000 years ago, between the Jewish rebels and the Romans.

Friedman attended the dedication ceremony not only to express recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the City of David area, but also to admire a magnificent archaeological endeavor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, replete with discoveries and finds. Although this enterprise was dedicated by Israel on June 30, it began more than a hundred years ago at a site excavated by non-Israeli archaeologists, at a time when the State of Israel did not exist and Jerusalem was under Muslim rule.

Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, closely supervised by safety engineers (in line with the world’s strictest standards), have been searching for or excavating the Pilgrimage Road – mistakenly known as the Herodian Road – only since the beginning of the 2000s. But they and the Antiquities Authority are not the first to look for this road or excavate it. They were preceded in the period of Jordanian rule by the British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, who uncovered the more northern parts of the Pilgrimage Road and also warned that the City of David should be excavated hastily before the Jordanians paved a road there – which is indeed what they eventually did. Kenyon was preceded by an archaeological research delegation during the period of the British Mandate. And this delegation was preceded at the end of the nineteenth century, in the time of Ottoman rule, by the archaeologists Jones Bliss and Archibald Dickie.

The work on the road.
The work on the road. (Kobi Herati, City of David)
Before discussing the many discoveries from the new excavation, we first need to disprove the allegation that it endangers the homes of the residents of the Arab neighborhood of Silwan.

Local Arabs Took Part in the Digs until They Were Threatened

Over the years, hundreds of Silwan residents took part in the archaeological digs of the Antiquities Authority funded by the NGO “Elad” (its name is an acronym for “To the City of David”). More than once the digging was done below the houses of these same Arab workers. They would have kept working there until this very day had they not been threatened with violence by emissaries of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in eastern Jerusalem. These threats forced them to leave their work.
Political opponents of the archaeological excavations in the City of David, which have been conducted for almost 50 years, try every few years to impede the work of the Antiquities Authority, often resorting to legal proceedings. Once or twice they have even gotten as far as the Supreme Court, whose justices are known to be particularly sensitive to claims of the infringement of human rights. The petitioners claimed that the excavations endangered the residents of Silwan, and the Supreme Court looked into their allegations and rejected them.

Former Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel, responding to a petition submitted against the excavations in the Givati Parking Lot (part of the City of David) (High Court of Justice file 9252/080), stated that “many of the claims made by the petitioners were mere empty words, with no basis presented for these claims.” After Israeli professionals described to her a series of operations undertaken to ensure the stability of the residential dwellings in the area, she said, “the petitioners did not present any evidence that would substantiate a connection between the excavations and the damages that were allegedly caused to their homes.”

Justice Arbel continued:
There appears to be no disagreement that the parking lot is within the territory of a national park and that the excavations conducted in it so far have yielded an impressive archaeological trove, which is of great scientific and historical importance that transcends Israel’s borders….Israel’s rich historical past is enfolded layer by layer in its soil. The historical annals of the land, of the peoples who have lived in it, passed through it, and entered the pages of history. Over the years, these annals were buried in the land and became its secrets.
“Israel,” the justice quoted from another court ruling, “is indeed a young country, but its roots are deep in human history, and its land is replete in its length and breadth with ancient relics of an ancient human civilization, which lived and created in this region for thousands of years. This is all the more so regarding the locale known as the City of David. The remains of the City of David tell the annals of Jerusalem for thousands of years, as one can still learn about them from the Hebrew Bible (see, for example, Samuel II, 4:8, 9:11; Chronicles I, 15:1; and the place itself is mentioned even earlier, of course, in the story of the binding of Isaac) and other sources.
The importance of the secrets of the City of David, national and international, is not unique to the Jewish people, but rather is of importance to anyone who wants to delve into the history of this region, which is the cradle of the monotheistic religions. The importance of the archaeological research lies not only in understanding the past of the country and in the possibility of verifying the truth of the details known to us from other sources, but also in the fact that it [the research] sheds light on the development of human culture. As such, its importance transcends peoples and borders.
“It had been made clear,” Arbel noted, “that the excavation work in the parking lot was being done under the supervision and accompaniment by professionals.”

Seals, Palaces, and a Gold Bell

And indeed, some years later the Givati Parking Lot provided a rich trove of instructive archaeological findings. The chief finding is an impressive structure from the end of the Second Temple period which, in the view of some archaeologists, served Queen Helena of the kingdom of Adiabene in Assyria about 2,000 years ago. Helena converted to Judaism and built magnificent palaces in the City of David. (The palaces of the kings of Adiabene are mentioned in the writings of Josephus, and they were reconstructed at the Israel Museum in the Jerusalem Model of the end of the Second Temple period.)

Also found in the Givati Parking Lot were relics of First Temple days: a six-meter-wide Byzantine road, of which 30 meters were uncovered; a structure of an estate owner from the Roman period with a courtyard, garden, and mikve [ritual bath]; and remnants of the ancient Muslim period. An especially interesting find was a stamp seal on which, in ancient Hebrew script, can be seen the words: “For Natanmelech Eved Hamelech [slave of the king].” The name Natanmelech appears in Kings II, and the researchers say the archaeological finding is dated from the same period as the biblical account – the second half of the seventh century BCE.

According to the researchers, the Givati Parking Lot is apparently also the location of the ancient Acra fortress, which was built by King Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BCE during the period of Seleucid rule in the Land of Israel. The fortress remained a stronghold of the Seleucids and their Hellenized supporters during the Maccabean Revolt.

A fragment of an ornamented table.
A fragment of an ornamented table. (Kobi Herati, City of David)
Another ruling by Arbel dealt with the Herodian drainage tunnel, located right under the route of the Pilgrimage Road (also known as the “Herodian Street”). The drainage tunnel was discovered a few years ago by archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun, and today one can walk through it from the vicinity of the Shiloah Pool to the foundations of the Western Wall (in the vicinity of the Davidson Center).

Exciting findings were made in this drainage tunnel, such as cooking pots and kitchenware with which the rebels ate their last meals before the Romans discovered them and killed about 2,000 of them (according to Josephus). Also found in the drainage tunnel was a sword that belonged to a Roman legionnaire, still inside a leather scabbard, and a picture of the Temple menorah that was scratched on the back of a broken potsherd by an anonymous individual who, apparently, had seen the real menorah with his own eyes.

In addition, an intriguing, one-of-a-kind artifact was found in the drainage tunnel: a gold bell with a loop at its edge. This bell had been sewn onto the hem of a garment of a distinguished man of Jerusalem, possibly even the High Priest himself. [Exodus 39:24-26.]

The gold bell found in the drainage tunnel
The gold bell found in the drainage tunnel. Was it from the High Priest’s garb? (City of David)
Found on the floor of the drainage tunnel was the cover of a cistern from First Temple days. The cistern is located half under the drainage tunnel and half (this part is blocked and inaccessible) on the Temple Mount. Here, too, some kitchenware was found, and Jewish rebels against the Romans may have spent their last moments hiding in this cistern as well.
Inlaid ring of a precious stone.
Inlaid ring of a precious stone. (Kobi Herati, City of David)

“The Infringement of the Property Rights – to the Extent It Exists – Is Minor”

It was also claimed to the Supreme Court (file 1308/08) regarding the drainage tunnel that the work performed in it endangered the Silwan residents just above it. Here, too, in an additional and separate ruling, Justice Arbel declared:
First, notwithstanding the claims of the petitioners, it was explained that the work is being done under professional engineering supervision and as part of an approved construction plan. And not only that. As is clear from the statements of the respondents, most of the operations that the Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the drainage canal are not actual excavation work but involve clearing out garbage that has accumulated in the canal for about two thousand years.
The justice mentioned the reinforcement work being done to prevent damage and added:
One may say, therefore, that the work is performed with the accompaniment and supervision of professionals, not as the petitioners claim, and it is clear that these professionals are not only concerned about the completion of the work in the drainage channel, but also are aware of their obligation to make sure the work is done in a way that will not harm the petitioners, their family members, or their property.
As for the petitioners’ right to ownership of the ground beneath their homes, the justice stated:
To the extent that such an infringement indeed exists, it is minor….Against the infringement stands a significant public interest in carrying out the work. Indeed, the unveiling of the secrets of the past, which lay for hundreds and thousands of years in the bowels of the earth, is a central aspect of archaeological research. The performance of this research is a many-faceted public interest, whether because of the contribution it makes to understanding the history of the country and the history of the Jewish people, or because of the contribution it makes to understanding historical events that are of importance not solely to the Jewish people and to their history.
The Givati Parking Lot and the drainage tunnel are only two examples of the sites in the City of David that in recent years have disclosed secrets to us. There are other important examples: in 2005, archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar discovered remnants of a large stone structure which she is inclined to identify as the palace of King David.

In the 1970s and 1980s, archaeologist Dr. Yigal Shiloh discovered the Bullae House and the Ahiel House within the area of excavations in the City of David called Area G. On the bullae found in the excavation area, names such as Shiftiyahu Ben Tsafen or Beniyahu Ben Hoshiyo had survived, as well as the names Yirmeyahu Ben Shafan (a royal scribe) and Azaryahu Ben Hilkiyahu (a priest from First Temple Days). Forty-five bullae out of the 51 found in the Bullae House bore inscriptions in ancient Hebrew writing and included the name of the owner of the seal along with the name of his father.

Nachshon Zenton holds a catapult ball
Nachshon Zenton, one of the directors of the street excavation, holds a catapult ball that apparently was used in battle during the Great Revolt. (Shai Halawi, Antiquities Authority)
As the 2000s were approaching, fortifications were discovered in the City of David for a spring and a Canaanite pool. A large pool that was quarried in the natural rock, it was a mainstay of the water system from which the Canaanites drew their water. This pool was quarried in the eighteenth century BCE but went out of use completely in the eighth century BCE, possibly because of the excavation of the famous Hezekiah Aqueduct.

The Pilgrimage Road

And now the Pilgrimage Road has been discovered. Only about 350 of the 700 meters of the road have been uncovered so far. Although the prevailing opinion was that Herod built the road, it turns out that it was built in the time of the Roman governors who came after him, particularly in the days of the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate.

The archaeologists who have been excavating the Pilgrimage Road over the past five years – Dr. Joe Uziel, Ari Levi, Nachshon Zenton, and Moran Hajibi – have shattered another assumption: it was not poor people who lived along the Pilgrimage Road in the area of the “Lower City,” but, in fact, a wealthy population. Among the ravages of destruction that have been uncovered along the road, luxury items have been found, including inlaid stone tables, jewelry of various kinds, and perfume bottles. Along with these are many other findings: coins, cooking pots, complete stone and clay tools, rare glass items, a magnificent dais (for public announcements), and parts of arrows and catapults – testimony to the last battle in the “Eastern Hill” during the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans, which concluded with the destruction of the Second Temple.

From Warren to Kenyon: The Archaeologists Who Excavated the City of David

The many discoveries in the City of David during the period of Israeli rule join dozens of excavations and excavators who have dug in the City of David, the most archaeologically excavated and researched site in Jerusalem during the years of modern research. Here, for those who speak of Israel conducting a “political excavation,” is a list of the excavators of the City of David who preceded Israel in their work there:2

In the period of Ottoman rule, Charles Warren of the Palestine Exploration Fund excavated extensively in Jerusalem and discovered the water system known as Warren’s Shaft (1867).

Warren’s expedition team in Jerusalem
Warren’s expedition team in Jerusalem (1867, Palestine Exploration Fund)
Painting of Charles Warren exploring beneath Robinson’s Arch
Painting of Charles Warren exploring beneath Robinson’s Arch along the Western Wall. (Palestine Exploration Fund)
In 1880, two teenage boys alerted the German architect Conrad Schick to the existence of an ancient inscription that was engraved beside the southern outlet of the water tunnel in the City of David. This discovery of the Shiloah/Siloam inscription was among the most important at the site. [The original hangs today in a Turkish museum.]

The Siloam/Shiloah inscription
The Siloam/Shiloah inscription marking completion of King Hezekiah’s waterworks from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam in the eighth century BCE.
In 1881, the German archaeologist Hermann Gutte discovered the Byzantine Shiloah Pool as segments of walls from different periods. As noted, more than a hundred years ago Bliss and Dickie discovered parts of the Pilgrimage Road. And Father Louis-Hugues Vincent contributed several of his own discoveries to the understanding of the City of David.

Under British rule after World War I, an international project was conducted to investigate the hill of the City of David, under the sponsorship of the Antiquities Department of the British Mandate government. R.A.S. Macalister excavated at the site for the British Palestine Exploration Fund, and R. Weill on behalf of the French. Under Jordanian rule, as noted, only one excavation was conducted in the City of David under the leadership of the archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, who personally received permission from King Hussein to dig there.


When Palestinian media cry out that Silwan is in danger, they lie twice: once, because the Israeli excavators and authorities do not move in the City of David without the authorization of safety engineers, and they comply with the strictest standards; and a second time, because the City of David, which covers about 15 acres, constitutes about 6 percent of the territory of Silwan.

When Palestinian leaders and clerics cry out that the excavations in the City of David endanger Al-Aqsa, they are deliberately lying. The excavations do not extend beyond the wall of the Temple Mount compound. For years, Israel has made sure to excavate around the Mount and not under it. That was the case regarding the Western Wall and along the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, and the same is true regarding the City of David. Rven when the excavation comes close to the wall of the Mount from the south, it never goes beyond it. The visitors who walk on the Pilgrimage Road, or through the “Herodian drainage tunnel,” ascend to the Davidson Center, which is at the foot of the walls of the Mount and not within it.

Hence, it appears that, as in the case of the Temple Mount compound, the acrimony and slander concerning the City of David stem in part from the inability of the inciters to deal with the Jewish past of the site, which is adjacent to the heart of Jerusalem – the Temple Mount.

At a time when Palestinians are rewriting the history of Jerusalem – both the Jewish and the Muslim history – and trying to prove that they were in the city before the Jews were (despite what modern research tells us), the City of David is for them another item in their large fabric of denial of any Jewish tie to Jerusalem, its sites, and its holy places.3

* * *
1 Video of the Pilgrimage Road,
2 Taken from a survey by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun that was published in 2008 in the proceedings of the Ninth Conference on Investigations of the City of David and Ancient Jerusalem, pp. 14-41.
3 For more on this subject see: Nadav Shragai, Alilat Al-Aksa b’Sakana: Diyukano shel Sheker (The Al-Aksa Is in Danger Libel: The History of a Lie) (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Sifriyat Maariv, 2012), pp. 45-64.

Nadav Shragai


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The Democrat Who Let Jeffrey Epstein Get Away - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

Why is no one talking about Barry Krischer?

The Florida prosecutor who allowed Jeffrey Epstein to get away with the abuse of children is a very popular guy in Palm Beach.

The YWCA of Palm Beach County (“eliminating racism, empowering women”) offers the Barry Krischer Humanitarian Award and the Domestic Violence Council has a Barry Krischer scholarship.

Last year, the ADL honored Krischer with its Jurisprudence Award.

The Florida Bar had honored Kirscher with a lifetime achievement award and he’s still listed as a member in good standing. Even Jeb Bush had bestowed a Peace at Home award on the prosecutor.

Krischer sits on the Criminal Justice Commission and offers training to law enforcement, court personnel and child welfare providers on dealing with crimes of sexual violence. His bio states that he remains active in “child welfare issues” through his work with the Department of Children and Families.

The former Palm Beach County State Attorney had made national news three times during his career. Once when he went after Rush Limbaugh, then after Ann Coulter, two Republicans, and when, after being handed the case of Epstein, a co-founder of the Clinton Global Initiative, he gave him a pass.

Barry Krischer is a Democrat. Jeffrey Epstein is a billionaire donor to Democrats.

As Chief Prosecutor, Krischer had made his reputation with a zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting juveniles as adults. But after Epstein had abused underage girls, Krischer, according to the detective on the case, ignored police efforts to charge him with four counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and instead the billionaire abuser was indicted only on a minor charge of solicitation of prostitution.

Interviews with over a dozen girls and witnesses were ignored.

The victims were not notified of when they needed to appear before Krischer’s Grand Jury. Calls by the police to issue warrants for the arrest of Epstein and his associates were ignored by Kirscher’s subordinates. Eventually, Kirscher’s people stopped taking phone calls from the police.  

The Palm Beach police chief claimed that information was being leaked to Epstein’s lawyers and wrote a public letter attacking Krischer and urging him to disqualify himself from the case. Instead the travesty went on. State prosecutors allowed Epstein to skip sex offender counselling, and hire a private shrink.

When the judge asked assistant state prosecutor Lanna Belohlavek if all the victims had signed off on the deal, she claimed that they had. The lawyer for the victims has said that was not the truth.

As a sex offender, Epstein should have been in state prison, but instead he received a private wing in the Palm Beach County stockade.

“There’s significant budget cuts in the county already, and sending him to the county jail and not the Dept. of Corrections is a significant cost to the taxpayer and the county,” the judge had objected.

But reporting to the stockade allowed Epstein to hire Palm Beach sheriff’s deputies as his security while he spent the day in his office on his work release program. The deputies stayed in the front room of his office, during the time that he was supposed to be in prison, while visitors went into his private office.

The deputies stopped calling Epstein an “inmate” and began referring to him as a “client”.

Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, a Democrat, oversaw the illegal arrangement.

Bradsaw and Krischer were political allies.

After 13 months of this, there was another year of house arrest in which Epstein was able to fly his jet around the country and around the world. Before long, he was partying with the smart set, including Charlie Rose, Katie Couric, Woody Allen and Chelsea Handler. And his case was forgotten. Until now.

The Palm Beach police chief had referred the case to the FBI, hoping to hit Epstein with federal charges. The Feds were able to assemble a 53-page indictment. And they too folded. The U.S. attorney in Miami, Alexander Acosta, is now Trump's secretary of labor. And that explains the sudden renewed interest.

But, unlike Epstein’s Democrat pals, Trump wasn’t hanging out with Epstein after the truth came out.

Epstein’s victims were originally denied justice because of his connections to Democrat politicians. They may now receive justice as part of an attack on a Trump cabinet member in the post-Clinton era.

But why did Epstein get a pass from the feds?

Acosta allegedly told Trump transition officials that he had been told to back off Epstein. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he allegedly said.

Meanwhile Epstein had served as a key federal witness and received “valuable consideration” in the Bear Stearns case. The hedge fund managers in the Bear Stearns case however were acquitted. This is yet another mystery in the big question of how Epstein made his money and where it came from.

In a world where financial dealings are carefully tracked by the media, that is its own mystery.

Epstein was supposedly a money manager, but his clients are unknown. His firm, Financial Trust Co. is located in the Virgin Islands. As are a number of other companies with bland names like NES and Maple Inc. that he used to make his purchases. After a decade of litigation, his true net worth is still unknown.

According to one acquittance, Epstein claimed to have helped African dictators hide their stolen money.

Jeffrey Epstein spent his career moving in rarefied social, political and financial circles. It’s unknown who in the government might have given Acosta a “stand down” order in regard to prosecuting him.

And we may never know.

The actual dirty work was handled by Ann Marie Villafaña, a federal prosecutor, who wrote to Epstein's lawyer, "I would prefer not to highlight for the judge all the other crimes and all the other persons that we could charge.”

No mention has been made of her even though she had been rebuked in a previous child sex case.

Meanwhile media outlets, instead of asking Barry Krischer any hard questions, enthusiastically quote a letter by Krischer attacking Acosta.

All the facts of the Epstein case had been available a decade ago. The media chose to ignore them until after the Clintons had flamed out. The timing of the media’s interest in Epstein is its own cover-up.

Now the media wants to talk about Acosta and Trump, instead of Clinton and Krischer.

But the story begins with Krischer.

According to Palm Beach’s top cop, the prosecutor had wanted to nail Epstein. And then something changed. At some point in the case, Barry Krischer may have received his own “stand down” order.

But Krischer’s history is almost as interesting as Epstein.

Epstein was politically protected. And so was Krischer.

When Krischer was sued by a legal secretary who accused him of groping her, the National Organization of Women organized a rally in his defense. One of Krischer’s former state attorneys, Thomas H. Schnieders, would later beat his mother to death with a crowbar. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. And, instead of going to prison, has been sent to a mental health facility.

The Florida Bar lists his membership as lapsed.

But that’s not the strangest story involving Barry Krischer. In 1986, Mark Baltes was killed in a hit-and-run. The driver of the car hired Krischer, then merely a lawyer, to keep his identity anonymous and make a deal. The mystery dragged on for over two years. Investigators used Krischer’s connections to track him down and discovered that the driver was his lawyer’s tenant. When he was caught, Krischer’s client got off with probation, receiving immunity in exchange for a confession, despite showing no remorse.

These days, Krischer is one of the founders of The Children's Place at Home Safe, an organization that claims to help abused children of around the same ages as Epstein's victims.

The next Barry Krischer Humanitarian Award will be handed out in October. Unless the truth comes out.

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


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Who Really Speaks for Gazans? - Muhammad AlZanati and Muhammad AlBuhaisi

by Muhammad AlZanati and Muhammad AlBuhaisi

We want things to return to the days before Oslo.

Why Is nobody listening to the voice of Gazans? 

As the prospect of Middle East peace phases in and out, one has to realize that it’s been a long and nasty 13 years since Hamas ruthlessly took over Gaza in a coup disguised as an election.

The ups and down experienced by Gaza’s citizens have netted not just 2 wars, but economic problem after economic problem. As complaints have risen, a variety of spokespeople have stepped forward. They represent 2 specific types of representations. The first comes from the “Government”, and in all cases such as Jordan, Qatar, and others, these are either Kings or Dictators, or both. The second comes from groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. 

Gaza City (photo credit: OneArmedMan)

What ties these groups together is a series of anomalies, all of which raise two very important questions: “How can they speak for Palestinians?” And, “If not them, then who?”

The Hashemite King of Jordan claims to speak for the Gazans, but how can he when he has a country’s needs to represent? He openly states that he is the sole “moderate” negotiator between the Palestinians and Israel and the West, but under Abdullah’s 20-year reign, what has he negotiated? All he has done is line his pockets at the expense of Palestinians.

The Muslim Brotherhood claims to represent us, but how? As far as we know, this terrorist organization is so destructive that most Islamic countries do not allow them to operate. They are classified as terrorists. But apparently their best friend is the King of Jordan because he allows them to operate.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) – the recognized governing body – represents no one except the needs of Abbas and his leaders, who live in luxury both in and out of the country. They are impudent, and quite frankly, no one pays attention to them. For example, Gaza is being strangled by Hamas, who is supposed to take orders from the PA, yet they don’t.

Hamas is a political party that thrives on dictatorship, crushing the people, and lying to the world.

Now is the perfect time for the Palestinian populace to stand up and follow new leaders, and I propose that an organization be created entitled something like the Palestinian Organization Coalition. 

What’s odd here is this: they all support censorship, illegal detainment and yes, Islamic law that opposes secular concepts like support for gay rights and Israel.

The political situation in Gaza has its ups and downs for Hamas and everyone else involved. Sometimes Hamas wins a political victory, other times Israel wins. Both Qatar and Jordan get political shows on Gaza’s ticket every once in a while. One thing has been certain and constant, though; Gazans have always been the losers and nobody in this world seems to care what they think. 

The authors of this article that you are reading are two Gazans who have fled Hamas’s hell to Europe. Both of us are computer geeks with good jobs in an EU member states. We have [it] made. We’re living the life now. 

But, why would two Gazans choose to run an article in an American conservative website? The answer is simple: Nobody else cares to even know what Gazans think, let alone what they want. 

In other words, when UN officials open their mouths before the microphones of the world’s media to speak about Gazans suffering, they don’t know what they are talking about, nor do they know what we are striving for as human beings.

When Arab dictators bleat about our rights and how Israel is allegedly crushing us, they don’t care for us. In fact, Those very Arab rulers have played the larger part in creating suffering for Gaza. 

When European officials talk about the need to help Gazans, it is, in most cases, a sugarcoating of their deeply-established anti-Semitism. 

Here, we will tell you what we, Gazans want.

We want Hamas out. We voted for Hamas almost 14 years ago because we had enough of the corrupt Palestinian Authority. Even Christians in Gaza voted for Hamas as the lesser of two evils. Gazans have been historically more liberal and less religious than the rest of the Palestinians. This has been known about us since the British Palestinian Mandate was created.

We thought our lives could improve a little under Hamas. And what did we get? Hamas is more corrupt than the Palestinian Authority thugs. Even worse, Hamas labels you as an infidel if you ever oppose it. At least the PLO would not do that.

And yes, Hamas is not self-governed or self-controlled. It is common knowledge in Gaza is that Hamas is actually the “Palestine Chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan.” 

In fact, we both find it puzzling that very few people seem to know this. For those who wish to contest our claim, all they have to do to believe us is check a British PhD dissertation by Jordanian scholar Osama Bank Ershied. It says exactly this.

During the 2014 war, one of the authors of this article was in Gaza and the word in the street was that Hamas was rejecting Israel’s offers for a ceasefire “because they don’t have permission from Amman.”

In other words, Hamas is a puppet managed by Jordan’s King-controlled Muslim Brotherhood, financed by Qatar with money and with weapons from Iran.

Hamas has impoverished us and enriched its leaders. Hamas oppresses us, beats us, tortures us, and kills us every once a while. Hamas’s jihad begins at home. We are Hamas’s biggest victims.

All the parades you see in support of Hamas are either staged or enforced. They issue orders to school kids to attend those parades under the threat of arresting their parents. 

To make it simple: except for 5,000 people who make up the leadership of Hamas and their kids, we can authoritatively confirm to you we Gazans would love to see Israel taking over Gaza again and running it under the “civil administration“ we used to have before the Oslo Accords.

Also, we don’t want the corrupt Palestinian Authority to take over Gaza again. And as much as we love Egypt and President Al Sisi, but we don’t want Egypt either. We want things to return to the days before Oslo.

As for those wondering what our identity and citizenship will be, let’s just say that most Gazans are educated and good readers. We know Jordan’s regime stands on shaky ground. A change in Jordan would result in an extension of Jordanian citizenship to West Bankers and Gaza and then, it would be peace based on facts and reality on the ground as President Trump said when he addressed the UN in September of last year. Also, we are willing to hold Jordanian citizenships and connect administratively to Jordan, but that will require a change of the status quo in Jordan first. 

We’ve given you the truth that could set all of us free.

Muhammad AlZanati and Muhammad AlBuhaisi are Gaza natives who have fled to Europe. Both are members of the Palestinian Opposition Coalition,

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The Time I Visited a Mosque in Iran - Amil Imani

by Amil Imani

Christians and Jews were forbidden, but I brought one each anyway.

Aerial photographs of Qom, 29 March 2018 (13970109000106636579121753288836 38629) (cropped).jpg
By Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0,
I was born into a religion that I did not choose or practice. In fact, no one in our household ever practiced Islam, and particularly, we were warned by our parents never to go near any mosque or other such place. It was considered taboo in Persian culture.

From the moment Islam penetrated the Iranians' lives, it clashed head on with the existing order. It clashed with people who had lived and believed in the monotheistic religion of Zoroastrianism for millennia. It contradicted Persian ideals, traditions, and culture, as is obvious from the splendid pre-Islamic Iranian festivities and celebrations such as the Persian Nowruz.

During the period I lived in Iran, I noticed that most middle- and upper-class families in Iran considered those who participated the Islamic rituals or prayers in a mosque or in any public place thugs. They did everything they could to make sure their children stayed away from such places. Keep in mind that most Iranians still consider Islam an invader upon their culture.

Those warnings coming from my own parents frightened me from ever getting close to a mosque, much less getting inside. They say "curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back." I was inherently a curious person. I always wanted to know why I was forbidden to enter a mosque. For years, I did what my parents asked me to do. But as I got a little older, I became bolder and wiser. One day, I asked my older brother to make a trip to the city of Kashan and on our way back to stop and visit the shrine of Lady Masoumeh in the holy Shiite city of Qom.

According to the Shiite Hadith, "Masoumeh was and is to this day the envy of womanhood in the world." She lost her life by undertaking a strenuous trip for the sole purpose of visiting her sacred brother, Imam Reza. She didn't make it and died in Qum without having a chance to visit him. Now she is buried there. Her mausoleum has experienced constant changes throughout history: during the Safavid dynasty, a hall and two minarets were added, and later, the roof was replaced with a golden dome by the order of king Fath-Ali Shah Qajar. Every day, thousands of Shiites visit the place.

My brother accepted my offer, and two of our close friends, a Christian and a Jew, decided to go along to the city of Kashan with us. Kashan, where some of my relatives lived, is one the oldest cities in Iran. It is known not only for its rugs (Persian rugs), famous for their elegance and quality, but also for having one of the greatest archeological sites in the world.

Kashan's proximity to the city of Qom and the shrine of Fatima Masoumeh made it all the more interesting to visit on our way back to Tehran. There was only one problem: they would not allow Jews or Christians to enter. Shiites consider Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Bahá'ís, and others "najes" (unclean).

This notion was difficult for me to swallow. Then I realized why we were warned by our parents never go near a mosque or anywhere close to a Shia mausoleum. Shiite clerics had their own rules and laws that contradict Persian laws and values.

It is interesting to know that the Shiite city of Qom has been under consideration to become a Shiite Vatican-type city — in other words, the capital of Shiite Islam, in competition with either Najaf or Karbala in Iraq. Even the last prime minister of Iran, Shapur Bakhtiar, suggested isolating the clerics in Qom: "we will build a wall around Qom, so that Ayatollah Khomeini can have his own little Vatican there."

After visiting the historic city of Kashan, on our way back, we drove through the holy city of Qom. I told my brother, OK, we need to park the car somewhere and make a bold plan to enter the shrine of Masoumeh and satisfy our curiosity. My Jewish friend, Albert, was open to the idea and said, "They can't tell the difference between a Jew and a Muslim, so what's all this fuss about?" My Armenian Christian friend basically said the same thing. It was my brother and I who were scared to death.

I gathered my strength and said, c'mon, guys, let's go inside — though I was petrified, because we had never practiced Islam and were unfamiliar with the protocols inside an Islamic shrine. I was aware of one important rule, and that was to take our shoes off before entering the place. Despite that, I was still worried. What if they notice our naïveté? What if they notice that Albert is a Jew and Razmik is a Christian? Although my brother and I had never practiced Islam, we did have a better understanding of Islam's rituals than they did. Albert and Razmik? No, we must change their names in case they interrogate us. So Albert became Ali and Razmik Reza. Voilà!

After long minutes in line, it was our turn to enter the shrine. We all took a deep breath and passed by a few clerics, and we were in. I noticed that a few mullahs were looking at us with suspicion. Mullahs are always suspicious. That's their nature. We ignored them and kept walking. We were in awe of the shrine's beauty, with courtyards of brilliant tile work and art. All for an Arab woman who had no connection to Iran? I asked myself. She just happens to be the sister of another Arab who was supposedly buried in Mashhad, Iran.

I said to my friends, quietly, this is gorgeous. Too bad it is wasted on the enemy of Iran. This is like building a shrine for Hitler in Tel Aviv. After all, the Arabs killed millions of Iranians and imposed Islam down our throats with the sword of Allah. That was another reason I always resented anything Islamic.

After spending some frightening moments in the shrine, it was time to leave before we got into trouble. We went back to the car and on our way back to Tehran. I must confess, that was the first time and the last I have ever visited a mosque or shrine in Iran.

People still don't get it: Iran is not an Islamic country, but people are forced to pretend they are Muslim in order to save their lives from the butchers of Allah. Who can blame them?

Image: Far News Agency via Wikimedia Commons.

Amil Imani


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