Friday, November 29, 2019

Iran says hundreds of banks were torched in 'vast' unrest plot - Reuters , Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters , Israel Hayom Staff 

Unrest began over fuel price hike, then turned political. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the protests amounted to a "very dangerous conspiracy" by Iran's Western enemies.

Iran says hundreds of banks were torched in 'vast' unrest plot
Demonstrators waves a huge Iranian flag in Mashhad, Iran, January 2018 | Photo: AP/Nima Najafzadeh

Iran's top leader on Wednesday denounced an outbreak of deadly unrest as a "very dangerous conspiracy" as authorities reported about 731 banks and 140 government sites had been torched in the disturbances.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the protests amounted to a plot that Iranians had defeated, referring to the worst anti-government unrest in Iran since authorities put down demonstrations against election fraud in 2009.

The disturbances began on Nov. 15 after the announcement of gasoline price hikes but quickly turned political, with protesters demanding top leaders step down.

In response, the government has blamed "thugs" linked to exiles and the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for stirring up street unrest.

"A deep, vast and very dangerous conspiracy that a lot of money had been spent on ... was destroyed by the people," Khamenei said in a meeting with members of the paramilitary Basij force which took part in the crackdown against protests, according to his official website.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli meanwhile said about 731 banks and 140 government sites were torched in the unrest.

More than 50 bases used by security forces were attacked and approximately 70 gas stations were also burned, he said, in remarks published by the official IRNA news agency, without specifying where the attacks took place.

According to IRNA, Rahmani Fazli also said up to 200,000 people took part nationwide in the unrest.

London-based Amnesty International said on Monday it had recorded at least 143 protesters killed in the protests.

Iran has rejected Amnesty's death toll. It says several people, including members of the security forces, were killed and more than 1,000 people arrested. The Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group, said the number of arrests was probably closer to 4,000.

The protests took place as new US sanctions imposed this year cut off nearly all of Iran's oil exports, and as similar protest movements erupted in Iraq and Lebanon against governments that include heavily armed pro-Iran factions.

There has been about a 20 million liter drop in daily gasoline consumption since the price hike, Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

The struggle of ordinary Iranians to make ends meet has become harder since last year when US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions on the country.

Combined with the rising inflation, growing unemployment, a slump in the rial and state corruption, Washington’s “maximum pressure” has caused Iran’s economy to deteriorate.

The government said the gasoline price rises of as much as 50% aim to raise around $2.55 billion a year for extra subsidies to 18 million families struggling on low incomes. The monthly cash payments are set at just 550,000 rials ($13.1) per person.

Reuters , Israel Hayom Staff


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Pompeo: New policy on settlements will help resolve conflict - Elad Benari

by Elad Benari

Secretary of State: Decision on legality of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria is correct and in the best interests of both sides.

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo completely stands by the newly announced White House legal interpretation regarding Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

Speaking to the Israel Hayom newspaper in an interview which will be published in full on Friday, Pompeo said the announcement was part of the administration's efforts to advance peace in the region, and did not prejudice the actual status of the territory in question.

"We think the decision that was made that permits the possibility of legal settlements, that they are not illegal per se, is both the correct one and the one that is in the best interest of the security situation in Israel as well as the situation between Israel and the Palestinian people," said the Secretary of State.

He reiterated his view that it was wrong to consider Israeli settlements as having no legal justification under international law just because they were settlements, although specific settlements can be illegal according to the merits of the given case.

He did not, however, comment on whether the move could pave the way for Israeli annexations of some areas of Judea and Samaria.

“This was really a legal analysis change more than anything else. So as you well know, there have been portions of the contested areas that Israel has settled that Israeli courts have ruled were legal, and some that they have ruled not lawful. What is inconsistent is those who believe that international law requires that every settlement is illegal just by the nature of it being a settlement. Our statement is limited in the sense that it is not illegal per se, that there are other mechanisms to resolve it, including most importantly the political resolution that ultimately needs to be achieved,” said Pompeo.

The decision, he continued, was announced after a long and meticulous process at the State Department, and it is primarily meant as a means of making the long-term peace process more viable and less legalistic.

"The outcome is a good one from a foreign policy perspective because we think this will create space for a political resolution for the challenges that have vexed the region for so long, we think there is not going to be some court ruling, some international court decision, some legal analysis to get this result, but rather a political resolution of the situation," said Pompeo.

Asked whether the change could lead to various diplomatic developments, he expressed hope that the conditions would soon be ripe for the unveiling of the administration's peace plan.

“With respect to the work that has been done here in the United States, we are hoping that before too long we will present our peace vision to the world ... And we hope they [the Israelis and Palestinians] will see it, we think this vision provides a roadmap forward for an effective conversation to ultimately get to what is in everyone's best interests, and that is the peaceful resolution of this long conflict," the Secretary of State told Israel Hayom.

Pompeo’s announcement was welcomed in Israel but caused an uproar in the Arab world.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the official spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said Pompeo’s declaration “is null and void, condemned and totally contradicts with international law, resolutions of the international legitimacy that reject settlements, and Security Council resolutions, especially resolution 2334.”

Earlier this week, Arab League foreign ministers denounced the announcement, calling it “unfairly biased and unacceptable.”

Elad Benari


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Hong Kong protesters praise Trump, Congress for law; Beijing calls move sinister - Edmund DeMarche

by Edmund DeMarche

Trump signed the bills, which were approved by near-unanimous consent in the House and Senate, even as he expressed some concerns about complicating the effort to work out a trade deal with China's President Xi Jinping.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong cheered President Trump and members of Congress for passing two laws that support the months-long uprising that has crippled the city while Beijing's anger over the legislation was on full display, calling the move a "nakedly hegemonic act" before summoning the top American diplomat in the country in protest.
The protests in Hong Kong started in June in response to, in part, an extradition bill that would have sent alleged criminals to China to stand trial. The bill never went forward, but the protests remained and only grew in size and violence since June.

Trump signed the bills, which were approved by near-unanimous consent in the House and Senate, even as he expressed some concerns about complicating the effort to work out a trade deal with China's President Xi Jinping. 

Up until Wednesday's announcement, Trump did not indicate whether or not he would sign the bill. Secretary of  State Mike Pompeo refused to answer a reporter's question about the president's leanings as recent as Tuesday.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., requires that the U.S. conducts yearly reviews into Hong Kong’s autonomy from Beijing. If ever found unsatisfactory, the city's special status for U.S. trading could be tossed. 

"I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong," Trump said in a statement. "They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all."

The statement did little to calm Beijing. The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement that the bill will only "strengthen the resolve of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong people, and raise the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the U.S."

The statement continued, "The US side ignored facts, turned black to white, and blatantly gave encouragement to violent criminals who smashed and burned, harmed innocent city residents, trampled on the rule of law and endangered social order."

The statement, which was obtained by Reuters, said the U.S. plot "is doomed" and threatened vague "countermeasures."

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office called the U.S. the "largest black hand causing chaos in Hong Kong."

Leader of Hong Kong protest movement: Why mass protests against China turned violent 

Carrie Lam's administration said it "strongly opposes and regrets" the laws, according to London’s Independent newspaper. Her office said "Democracy is alive and well" there and pointed to the recent elections that overwhelmingly favored antigovernment candidates.

Protesters, however, cheered the bill and, according to the New York Times, see the measure as a warning to Beijing and Hong Kong.

"I hope it can act as a warning to Hong Kong and Beijing officials, pro-Beijing people and the police," Nelson Lam, 32, told the Times. "I think if they know that what they do may lead to sanctions, then they will become restrained when dealing with protests. We just want our autonomy back. We are not their foe."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Edmund DeMarche is a senior news editor for Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.


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Where Was the Love for Whistleblowers During the Obama Administration? - Larry Elder

by Larry Elder

And where was the outrage over the price they paid?

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently put President Donald Trump on notice about any possible retaliation against the whistleblower who filed a complaint against Trump. Pelosi warned: "I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower. I was there. I told the President, you're in my wheelhouse when you come after the whistleblower."

But where was this love for whistleblowers during President Barack Obama's administration? Obama remains enormously popular among Democrats. But many in the how-dare-President-Trump-attack-a-whistleblower camp paid little attention to Obama's unprecedented attack on whistleblowers, as well as on the reporters who reported on their whistleblowing. Liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald released a documentary in 2013 called "War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State" that examined the fate of four whistleblowers during the Obama administration. Greenwald said: "One of the things that was a common denominator with all the whistleblowers we interviewed is the terrible personal price they paid ... And what is happening over and over again is the Obama administration and previous administrations are literally shooting the messengers — punishing the whistleblowers, trying to pass laws that make it harder for whistleblowers."

In a 2011 article titled "Obama's War on Whistle-blowers," the center-left publication The Atlantic wrote: "The Justice Department's subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen ... was the latest sign of how aggressive the Obama administration is being in its campaign against government whistle-blowers. The purpose of Risen's subpoena is to force him to testify that Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent, gave him confidential information about the CIA's efforts to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. The extent to which the administration is prosecuting leakers has troubled those who see leakers as speakers of truth to power. 'In President Obama's 26 months in office, civilian and military prosecutors have charged five people in cases involving leaking information, more than all previous presidents combined,' reports the Times."

Similarly, in 2011, left-wing magazine The New Yorker wrote: "When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as 'often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.' But the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness. ... It has been using the Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks — more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined."

Alex Gibney is a left-wing filmmaker described by the left-wing magazine Esquire as "the most important documentarian of our time." He directed the documentary "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks." As to Obama's treatment of whistleblowers and journalists who report their disclosures, Gibney said: "Let's be honest and say that the Obama administration is the most aggressive prosecutor of leaks in American history. And they're going after leakers and, in a collateral way, after journalists, in a way that is more aggressive than anything that has ever been seen in our history."

The Obama administration prosecuted Thomas Drake, a National Security Agency official who gave reporters material on alleged failures of that agency. About Drake's prosecution, Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers during Nixon Administration said: "For Obama to indict and prosecute Drake now, for acts undertaken and investigated during the Bush administration, is to do precisely what Obama said he did not mean to do — 'look backward.' Of all the blatantly criminal acts committed under Bush, warrantless wiretapping by the NSA, aggression, torture, Obama now prosecutes only the revelation of massive waste by the NSA, a socially useful act which the Bush administration itself investigated but did not choose to indict or prosecute!

"Bush brought no indictments against whistleblowers, though he suspended Drake's clearance. Obama, in this and other matters relating to secrecy and whistleblowing, is doing worse than Bush. His violation of civil liberties and the White House's excessive use of the executive secrecy privilege is inexcusable."

The Obama administration, according to The Washington Post, obtained a warrant to search phone records of Fox reporter James Rosen, who published sensitive information about North Korea. The Post reported in 2013: "They (the Justice Department) used security badge access records to track the reporter's comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter's personal e-mails." Take comfort knowing that Democrats like Pelosi and their media sympathizers, after taking time off for eight years, think so highly of whistleblowers, especially when they whistleblow on Trump.

Larry Elder is a bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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Violence in Academia - Jack Kerwick

by Jack Kerwick

College campuses now dangerous places for conservative students.

The college campus, which has historically represented the pinnacle of civilization, has become a violent place.

All too frequently, so-called student “activists” are increasingly becoming student-thugs

To be sure, it is one thing to demonstrate, legally and civilly. It is quite another thing altogether to scream, insult, intimidate, threaten, suppress, and resort to physical violence.

Student-thugs, it should go without saying, are guilty of the latter.

For far too long, those students, faculty, and guest speakers whom these self-appointed gate-keepers deem insufficiently “progressive” or “woke” have been treated as non-persons -- as they were subjected to intimidation and overt violence.

Recently, at the State University of New York at Binghamton, a joint tabling event by the College Republicans and Turning Point USA was crashed by leftist thugs who surrounded the conservative students, vandalized their displays, got in their faces and hurled obscenities and threats while ordering them to leave the campus. The College Fix, a campus watchdog and student-based publication, described the “frenzied attack” as “one of the more extreme examples in recent time” of the “pushback on campuses” suffered regularly by conservative students.

Five campus police officers had to attend to the scene to protect the conservatives. Yet when they arrived, the student-thugs (quite predictably) turned on the police. In a rage, they chanted such beauties as, “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” “F**k Trump,” and “Suck my d**k!”

The thugs also chanted loudly for the conservative students to “pack it up, pack it up!”

At least one black student and one Asian student are captured on video while making racially derogatory comments toward the white conservatives. The Asian student accused the police of protecting only people—white people—like themselves. When a conservative student expressed indignation in response, the Asian screamed back: “You’re white!”

Reportedly, the student-thugs will not face any disciplinary measures. The conservative students who were accosted by the mob of thugs, however, may. According to the Vice President of Student Affairs, Brian Rose, the conservatives hadn’t sought permission to set up their tables. Moreover, the materials that they showcased were designed to be “provocative.”

Rose’s remarks are leftist boilerplate. It is crucial that all remotely reasonable and decent human beings be mindful of this line of thought that leftists everywhere have been advancing for far too long, but particularly during the era of Donald Trump: when conservatives, Trump-supporters, and, in some instances, those on the left whom their comrades have determined are insufficiently committed to the Cause, are insulted, berated, bullied, and, yes, beaten, the perpetrators’ apologists in politics, academia, the entertainment industry, and, of course, the news media attempt to justify the savagery and violence by blaming the victims. 

The reasoning (and I use this term loosely) is quite simple: by expressing views that “anti-fascists” and other “Social Justice Warriors” find offensive, those who hold these views intend to be “provocative” and, hence, deserve to be attacked and pummeled by those whom they “trigger.”

So if, for example, you wear a MAGA hat on campus, the person or persons who decide to shed your blood for doing so, if they aren’t exculpated entirely, are at least not nearly as culpable as they would be had their victim been a member of Respectable Society.

This is the place at which we’ve arrived. Students, particularly those who have conservative leanings, have ample reason to fear for their physical safety given that hyper-sensitive student-thugs could decide without a moment’s notice to target them.

At College of the Holy Cross, thug-protestors obstructed those who were interested from attending a speech by Heather Mac Donald, a scholar of the right-leaning Manhattan Institute. Evidently, according to The College Fix, they arranged to get in line early for the event so that when the doors to it opened, they could fill the auditorium beyond capacity and prevent others from attending. Once inside, they spent the next ten minutes chanting such pearls of wisdom as, “My oppression is not a delusion!” “Your sexism is not welcome!” “Your racism is not welcome!” “Your homophobia is not welcome!” “YOU are not welcome!” 

Public safety officers eventually had to arrive and shut the doors to anyone else trying to enter, for the number of people who crashed the room where the event was held posed a fire hazard.

At UC Berkeley last week, 2,000 student-thugs—including such fanatical leftist groups as Refuse Fascism, Antifa, and By Any Means Necessary—descended upon an Ann Coulter event. They formed a human wall while they “harassed people trying to enter the building [where Coulter was scheduled to speak], yelling at them and pushing them,” according to the Associated Press.

The students chanted, “Berkeley is a sanctuary, no Coulter, no ICE,” “Go home,” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”

Some of the student-thugs admitted that they were there to obstruct people from showing their support for Coulter while resisting DACA and “white supremacy.”

The Berkeley College Republicans, in response to the event, tweeted: “We would like to thank all our attendees, especially those who got punched and kicked while waiting outside. Your contribution to protecting free speech on campus is invaluable.”

Andy Ngo, a gay Asian journalist who himself has been assaulted by leftist mobs, tweeted out a video of the event that clearly shows a young woman being surrounded by throngs of student-thugs who shout at her, “Get the f—out of here, bitch!” 

Rally attendees, to escape to safety, had to jump a police barricade, and at least one attendee had to go to the hospital after a physical altercation with a student-thug. 

At Chico State University, a conservative student had his “All Lives Matter” sign torn from his hands and was struck in the face. The incident was caught on camera.

The aforementioned events all occurred within just the last two weeks at the most. These are not exceptional instances, but of a piece with a persistent pattern.

It’s time for the public, including conservative critics of the contemporary state of affairs in Higher Education, to call the beleaguered plight of conservative students for what it is. It is no longer just that they face “bias” during their time in school. 

The truth is more troubling than this.

The truth is that college campuses have become dangerous places for conservative students.

Jack Kerwick


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These are the disputes between Likud and Blue and White - Arutz Sheva Staff

by Arutz Sheva Staff

Likud and Blue and White disagree on several issues, preventing the sides from moving forward with unity.

Netanyahu and Gantz
Netanyahu and Gantz
Elad Malka
The Blue and White party has decided to give a chance to the outline proposed by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, according to which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will remain in office for a few months and then be replaced by Benny Gantz.
Channel 13 News reported on Wednesday that the disputes between the parties concern a number of major issues. First is the opposition from Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya'alon to sit in a government headed by Netanyahu, even for a short period.

In addition, Gantz is demanding that during Netanyahu's incapacitation period, he will not serve as acting Prime Minister, but will be considered a full time Prime Minister. Likud is not prepared to meet this condition.

The outline in question was presented to President Reuven Rivlin last week but he refused to adopt it, likely due to an attempt at maintaining neutrality.

Earlier, following a meeting with Edelstein, Ya'alon made it clear that he does not intend to sit in a government with Netanyahu. "We will not sit in a government led by Binyamin Netanyahu as long he has not been acquitted in court of the serious charges against him."

"I made it clear that Blue and White is trying to form a unity government with the Likud, as we announced from the beginning. We have also made it clear that we are ready for a rotation in the post of Prime Minister, on condition that Benny Gantz is first. We will continue to strive for unity and do everything possible to avoid another election, but we will not deviate from our values and commitments to our voters,” Ya'alon wrote on Twitter.

Arutz Sheva Staff


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Israel Expels Human Rights Watch's BDS Supporter - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

How Human Rights Watch has failed its founder’s test.

Human Rights Watch is in a lather because the Israeli government decided to expel Human Rights Watch's “Israel and Palestine” director, Omar Shakir, on November 25th . Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, accused Israel of joining “the likes of Venezuela, Iran, and Egypt in barring Human Rights Watch researchers.” United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson responded to Shakir’s deportation, saying, “We regret the decision taken by the Israeli authorities to deport him. The secretary-general supports the important work by human rights defenders around the world, and that work should be allowed to continue.” Several so-called UN human rights “experts” had previously criticized Israel’s decision to expel Shakir, which was upheld by the Israeli Supreme Court, as "a body blow to the protection of human rights defenders.”

Omar Shakir is neither an objective researcher or genuine human rights defender. Israel’s decision to deport him was based on his violation of a 2017 Israeli law that bars entry to people who advocate the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel. Shakir has a history of bashing Israel. Then again, the organization he works for – Human Rights Watch – has become a shill for the Palestinians’ campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel. No wonder it chose Shakir as its "Israel and Palestine" director and continues to defend him. Indeed, Shakir will remain Human Rights Watch’s “Israel and Palestine” director, delivering his propaganda from a neighboring country.

Omar Shakir was co-president of Students for Palestinian Equal Rights (SPER), the forerunner to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Stanford University. In 2011, he gave a  presentation entitled “Renewing the Call for Divestment: A Campaign to Divest from Companies that Profit from Human Rights Violations in Israel/Palestine.” In 2013, he introduced a BDS resolution to the undergraduate senate at Stanford.

In 2015, Shakir signed a letter “honoring the BDS call” and pledging “to engage with Palestinians in our communities and support delegations to Palestine that are meant to highlight the reality on the ground of occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing.” In 2016,  Shakir called BDS an “effective tool” that attempts to enlist companies worldwide in helping to level the playing field between “a colonizer and a colonized, an oppressor and oppressed.” He rejected the notion that Israel has any justification for any of its actions, no matter whether they were provoked by Palestinian terrorist attacks. He compared Israeli Zionism to the former white Afrikaner apartheid regime in South Africa.

Despite all this, and plenty of other evidence demonstrating Shakir’s strident anti-Israel bias – or more likely because of it -  Human Rights Watch hired Omar Shakir to serve as its "Israel and Palestine" director in October 2016. Since serving in that capacity, Shakir continued his relentless anti-Israel campaign. For example, he advocated the idea of a United Nations BDS database to enable the blacklisting of Jewish-owned companies that operate across the 1949 Armistice line and of firms that do business with them. He sought to have FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football) sanction the Israel Football Association.

According to an analysis of Shakir’s twitter activity in the June 2018-February 2019 time period conducted by NGO Monitor, Shakir “tweeted 970 times (including retweets) on issues relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict. More than one-third used the language of demonization against Israel, and another third promoted BDS.” NGO Monitor went on to note that “18 of Shakir’s tweets condemned alleged Israeli attacks on Palestinians.” However, as NGO Monitor observed, “Shakir did not add his own voice in condemnation of terrorist attacks against Israelis,” including one that involved the shooting of a pregnant woman that took the life of her prematurely born baby.

In a phony attempt to display purported even-handedness, Shakir put out a report on the arrest and torture of Palestinians by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. However, as NGO Monitor explained in another  piece, Shakir’s report managed to omit “Hamas’ persecution of alleged ‘collaborators’ with Israel, the PA’s criminalization of selling land to Jews (punishable by death), as well as the torture of LGBTQ detainees and children in the West Bank and Gaza.”

In November 2018 alone, Palestinian terrorists fired over 400 rockets and missiles from Hamas-controlled Gaza aimed at Israeli population centers. On May 4 and May 5, 2019, they fired over 600 rockets and mortars, murdering four Israeli civilians. In response to Nikki Haley’s May 6th tweet asking, “Imagine if 600 rockets had been fired into the US or any other country besides Israel. What country would not defend itself?,” Shakir tweeted with a question of his own. Shakir's response reflected his wholehearted embrace of the fictional narrative of Palestinian victimhood caused solely by Israel. He wrote, “Imagine if foreign power sealed off US or any country from world for 12 yrs, forbidding anyone from leaving 25 by 7 mile territory outside of ‘exceptional humanitarian cases’ & severely restricting entry of goods/electricity.”

The truth is, as the UN itself reported, Gaza’s electricity shortage problem resulted largely from an ongoing dispute between Hamas and the PA. While Israel has indeed imposed restrictions on the import of dual-use goods that can be used for military as well as civilian purposes, Hamas is to blame for the consequences endured by the residents of Gaza. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, removing all settlements and leaving behind an infrastructure that the Palestinians could have built upon to improve the welfare of Gazan residents. Instead, after Hamas wrested control of Gaza from Fatah, it focused its attention on attacking Israeli population centers with rockets and mortars. 

As Eliot Abrams wrote in 2018, “Hamas might have decided to improve the economy and offer Palestinians tired of Fatah’s corruption and inefficiency an decent alternative. Instead it has focused only on attacking Israel and maintaining its fantasy of ‘return’ and the destruction of the Jewish state.”

It is the insistence on this fantasy of a "right" of millions of so-called Palestinian "refugees" to "return" to their "homeland" in pre-June 1967 Israel, not Israeli settlements, that has been the true obstacle to any prospect of a genuine peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, if one were ever possible in the first place. Indeed, until the Palestinians accept Israel's right to exist securely as a Jewish state that the original UN General Assembly two-state partition resolution envisioned, which Palestinian leaders refuse to accept, there can be no real peace.    

When Israel responded to protect its own citizens from wanton Palestinian terrorist attacks that increased after Israel withdrew completely from Gaza, the so-called "international" and "human rights" communities, including the UN and Human Rights Watch, repeatedly condemned Israel. Hamas and its Islamic Jihad partners, supported by Iran, became more emboldened. They fired more rockets and built tunnels with supplies meant for civilian construction and repair. They have tried time and again to use force to break through the border separating Israel and Gaza during their “Great March of Return” protests that often have devolved into riots. Yet pro-Palestinian propagandists like Omar Shakir and UN bureaucrats have continually blamed Israel for defending itself.

The problem is not just with Shakir and like-minded Israel-bashers. The more fundamental problem is that so-called human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, along with the UN Human Rights Council and other UN forums, provide these charlatans global platforms from which to spew their hate.

The anti-Israel bias of the UN Human Rights Council is well-known. This dysfunctional UN body doesn’t even try very hard to hide it. However, Human Rights Watch portrays itself as an objective source of information on human rights abuses around the world. It claims on its website that its researchers “work to an established, proven, and consistent methodology based on information gathering from a broad range of sources.” Yet, at least when it comes to Israel, all such pretenses of objectivity and careful research are replaced by pro-Palestinian advocacy. None other than the founder of Human Rights Watch, Robert L. Bernstein, wrote an op-ed column for the New York Times in 2009 taking the organization to task, with words that are just as true today:
“Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere… Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.”

Ten years ago, Mr. Bernstein advised the human rights organization he had founded that it had a critical choice to make. “Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world,” he wrote. “If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.”

Ten years later, Human Rights Watch has utterly failed its founder’s test. It has lost all credibility in the propaganda it packages as "reports" on alleged human rights abuses by Israel, which will continue whether Omar Shakir remains as Human Rights Watch’s “Israel and Palestine” director or is eventually replaced with another pro-Palestinian propagandist.

Joseph Klein


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Crack, strippers, and lucrative Chicom crony capitalist deals: Hunter Biden is a walking security risk - Monica Showalter

by Monica Showalter

The princeling vice presidential son had a lot of instances of disgusting, greedy, gamy and blackmail-able behavior. No wonder the ChiComs wanted to give him so much money.

A lot of people think that Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden shouldn't be judged by the actions of his wayward son, Hunter Biden.

Biden, after all, was drummed out of the Navy for cocaine use, made a lot of questionable overseas business deals when his father was vice president, and most recently was found to have fathered an out of wedlock child in Arkansas while dating his deceased brother's wife.

Irrelevant to Joe, Joe's on the up and up. Pay no attention to the evidence of some very skeezy parenting skills and weird family values. After all, every family as a black sheep, right?

But the evidence is really piling up that this guy's disgusting, a potential threat to the republic actually, should Joe eventually find himself in the White House.

First, the grossout personal stuff from the on-the-job New York Post:
Hunter Biden was suspected of smoking crack inside a strip club where he dropped “thousands of dollars” during multiple visits — at the same time he held a seat on the board of a controversial Ukrainian natural gas company, The Post has learned.
The incident, which took place at Archibald’s Gentlemen’s Club in Washington, DC, late last year, represents the most recent alleged drug use by Biden, 49, who has acknowledged six stints in rehab for alcoholism and addiction that included a crack binge in 2016.
Workers at Archibald’s, located about three blocks north of the White House, said Biden was a regular there, with two bartenders and a security worker all instantly recognizing his photo and one worker identifying him by name.
The report notes that he was a sneaky bastard, paying for his strip club-crack pipe outings with a credit card that didn't have his name on it, something the club doesn't allow, but something that somehow he got an exception on. Would like to know the story of that one. He gets a lot of exceptions.

The disgustingness extends though, with the Post obviously knowing where to go to get news:
The woman suing Hunter Biden for paternity was a stripper at a Washington, DC, club he frequented around the time he was dating his brother’s widow, sources told The Post.
Biden was repeatedly seen at the Mpire Club in the capital’s historic Dupont Circle neighborhood — where Lunden Alexis Roberts, the mother of his alleged love child, worked under the stage name “Dallas,” the sources said.
“He was well-known,” a source said of Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic front-runner to challenge President Trump next year.
Several Mpire workers said they recognized Roberts, 28, who last week filed court papers that say DNA testing proved Hunter, 49, fathered the child she gave birth to in August 2018.
This isn't long-ago stuff, the activity of a very young man with over-active hormones trying to get his rocks off. Biden is 49 and this is what was going on just in the past year. He's had a lot of years to be doing this stuff. The Post has a lot of work ahead of it to fill those out because each one is going to be about as gross or maybe grosser. Slinking around multiple strip clubs, doing drugs, getting the help pregnant, zero-name credit cards, the panoply of bounder behavior and zero consequences just keeps extending the more the Post looks. Privilege, they say.

Yet it's still even worse when one looks closely at how he gets his money. Here's a Pulitzer-prize quality investigative report from Fox News on Biden Junior's China dealings that will never get a Pulitzer owing to the subject matter, but will make your blood boil:
Biden served as one of nine directors of the private equity firm Bohai Harvest RST – better known as BHR Partners – which is 80 percent mandated by shareholders in the Chinese government, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The firm was registered less than two weeks after Biden flew with his then-vice president father on Air Force Two for official business in China in December 2013, but his lawyer has previously stated that talks were in place months earlier.
In the closing days of that December, China’s central bank, the Bank of China in conjunction with Rosemount Seneca – the firm Biden founded in 2009 with John Kerry’s stepson Christopher Heinz and family friend Devon Archer – set up the $1 billion investment joint venture called Bohai Harvest RST. The “RS” signifies Rosemount Seneca, and the “T” is in reference to the Thornton Group, a Massachusetts-based international consulting company established by James Bulger, the nephew of infamous mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger.
Indeed, the Biden-supported fund fast received notoriety in China. Formed in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone almost six years ago, its website boasts it was the “first cross-border investment private equity firm” and “among China’s first-ever RMB-denominated private equity funds approved by the State Council.”
“BHR benefits from the support of its Chinese stakeholders, including the Bank of China and China Development Bank Capital,” the website reads. “BHR also engages in alternative investments in emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence, FINTECH, automation, and robotics.”
But some of those investments have since been subject to controversy.
BHR Partners has invested in Megvii Technology Inc, a leader in the facial recognition arena with his Face ++. In May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that the technology was associated with a controversial IJOP app used in the surveillance of Uighurs and Chinese Muslims in the Xinjiang region. Megvii later told HRW that the Face++ account contained in the IJOP application code was “never actively used.”
A rep for Megvii later emphasized to Fox News that HRW re-issued the report, stating that there was no evidence of the company's involvement in the IJOP app, adding that the BHR funds investing in Megvii were from Chinese investors, not those residing in the U.S.
Moreover, in 2015, BHR engaged in a $600 million purchase of Henniges Automotive, the Michigan automotive-suspension systems maker, securing a 49 percent stake. The negotiations were reported to have been mostly conducted by the Chinese government-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China Ltd, which acquired the remaining 51 percent. The deal had to be reviewed and approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
However, the aircraft company has been subject to national security red flags. A year after the deal had closed, national security experts and analysts expressed concerns that the company, a major supplier of military jets in China, had hacked the U.S. networks to steal the design of the F-35 jet and used the design to build its own jet fighters.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, is now probing whether Hunter Biden inappropriately leveraged his business ties with the suspect Chinese-backed aviation company.
Now we see why the ChiComs found a drunken pawn like Hunter Biden so very, very useful. Just the compulsive drunkenness, the coke snorting, and the strip-clubbing made him pretty vulnerable to blackmail. He wasn't a guy who wanted these things to get out, as his no-name credit cards signaled. But you can bet the ChiComs with their state surveillance mechanisms knew all about this stuff and probably more. Biden Junior was the perfect puppet to make do whatever they wanted him to do, with the carrot of money and the stick of what the Russkis call 'kompromat.' He was on their string in more ways than one, obliged to follow their commands, or else.

The guy is a walking national security risk, and that risk is a risk to all Americans as China rises in power and threatens the U.S. We already know what they did to Xinjiang. We already know what they did to Hong Kong. Think having a guy like Hunter Biden on their string for a mere few million would be useful for acquiring all the secrets they needed from the Americans in the name of both cracking down and enacting challenges and threats?

And here's the other thing: Based on this extended record of bad personal behavior, strip club after strip club, well into Biden's middle age, does anyone think he's going to stop? Is he going to sudden be Little Miss Muffet and put down the crack pipe and stay out of the XXX Totally Nude Girls "gentlemen's clubs" and quit getting strippers pregnant? There's not a sign in heck that he's changed his ways or plans to. No contriteness, no admission at all, just hoping the story goes away and nobody notices. It's just sex, see. But imagine him gallivanting around Washington, or Arkansas, or Beijing with Joe Biden president. Think there wouldn't be a few golden opportunities for every enemy of America and every greedy businessman looking for some kind of policy change to take advantage?

The more that gets revealed about this guy, the more the public is likely to recognize that this guy is not just a cossetted princeling but a bona fide security risk to the U.S. It raises the case for pressuring Joe Biden to just pull out. Democrats are silent. Kamala Harris keeps repeating the mantra of "leave Joe alone," effectively auditioning for Joe's vice presidential slot. Since it's not going to happen, the Republicans have some impressive ad material.

Image credit: Ben Stanfield/acaben, via Flickr, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Monica Showalter


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ICE arrests 90 foreign students at fake Michigan university - Morgan Phillips

by Morgan Phillips

Many of the arrested students have been deported, but some are contesting their removals.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has arrested 90 additional foreign-born students in recent months in a sting operation at a fake Michigan university designed to draw in students who are trying to stay in the U.S. illegally, according to a new report.

The University of Farmington advertised a "dynamic business administration and STEM curriculum” program, but the students, mostly from India, "knew that they would not attend any actual classes, earn credits or make academic progress towards an actual degree,” according to a January indictment.

A total of about 250 students have been arrested since the school opened in January on immigration violations by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Immigration lawyers said in March -- after 161 students were arrested -- that the students did not know it was a fake university at the time.


The university in Farmington Hills, Mich., has reportedly been operated by Homeland Security since 2015.
University of Farmington Logo
 University of Farmington Logo

The U.S. “trapped vulnerable people who just wanted to maintain (legal immigration) status,” Rahul Reddy, a Texas attorney who represented some of the students who were arrested, told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday.

Many of the arrested students have been deported, but some are contesting their removals.
The students had reportedly arrived legally in the U.S. on student visas and later lost their immigration status after the school was shut down in January, according to the Free Press.


Meanwhile, seven of the eight recruiters who were criminally charged with trying to recruit students have pleaded guilty and been sentenced in Detroit. The final defendant will be sentenced in January.

Attorneys for ICE and the Department of Justice said the students should have known it was not a legitimate university because it did not have classes in any sort of physical location, the Free Press reported.

"Their true intent could not be clearer," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Helms wrote in a memo, per the publication. "While 'enrolled' at the university, [100] percent of the foreign citizen students never spent a single second in a classroom."

"If it were truly about obtaining an education, the university would not have been able to attract anyone, because it had no teachers, classes or educational services," he added.

Morgan Phillips


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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Lebanon Protests Fueled by "Endemic Corruption" of Political Class - Tony Badran

by Tony Badran

"It's very much understood that when you're attacking the system ... you're attacking Hezbollah."

On November 20, Middle East Forum Radio interviewed Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, to discuss the ongoing mass protests in Lebanon.

According to Badran, the protests are fueled by "the major economic mismanagement and impending collapse of the Lebanese economic and financial system," which in turn is an outgrowth of "the endemic corruption of the Lebanese political class." He explained,

[W]ith minor exceptions this political class in one form or another and the families and the figures that constitute it have been ruling Lebanon since the days of the civil war and its aftermath. So, this is a long-standing elite. ... [The protest] movement is unique in modern [Lebanese] history in that it is not taking shape along sectarian lines. It is not being driven by the sectarian parties, it is driven against the sectarian parties and against them all across the board and across the various regions of Lebanon.

Tony Badran: The "elephant in the room is Hezbollah."

Also unique is the absence of any prominent leadership in the protest movement. "There aren't really any visible leaders, certainly not among [the] establish[ment]."

"There are organizers that are talking through social media and stuff like that," but they are "widely diffused."

According to Badran, the "elephant in the room is Hezbollah," an Iranian-backed Shi'a Islamist movement that has manipulated Lebanon's sectarian system and weak state to build a powerful militia that dominates the country:

Hezbollah now has come out as the strongest defender of the sectarian based system and the status quo, which is interesting when you consider its history as a revolutionary movement that wanted to integrate Lebanon into a larger Islamic state ruled by Iran. So, now this system works so much to their advantage that they are now really its strongest defendant.

Hezbollah's defense of the status quo has not been well received by many of its Shi'a constituents.

A raised fist with the word thawra (revolution) features in many of the Lebanese protests. (AFP)

Though Shi'a protestors in Beirut and the Beqaa have avoided challenging Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah by name, they have openly attacked "various MPs of Hezbollah" by name, as well as Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri, who heads the pro-Syrian Shi'a Amal movement. In response, Hezbollah and Amal "unleashed goons against them to beat them up ... with the complicity of the Lebanese security forces."

Unfortunately for Hezbollah, the "barrier of fear has been kind of broken," says Badran. "It is certainly disconcerting for [Hezbollah] to see this unrelenting phenomenon and not just that it's coming out against them in their areas but that it's meshing with the rest of the country – with Sunnis and Christians and so on. "Where we go from here and how it progresses from here ... all of that remains to be seen. We really don't know. It's really anyone's guess."

"It's very much understood that when you're attacking the system ... you're attacking Hezbollah."

Asked how the protests in Lebanon compare with those in Iraq, Badran said the wave of protests "is not directly or explicitly expressed in terms of Iran the way it is in Iraq, but it's very much understood that when you're attacking the system, you're attacking the Hezbollah system as well. You're attacking Hezbollah as the chief organizer of this system."

Badran noted that the current protests are the "exact opposite" of the protests that erupted in the wake of the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri:

Although there was a sense of spontaneity at first – just the outrage at the [Hariri] killing and the brazenness of it, immediately the organization of them was taken over by the sectarian political parties – immediately, right. In this case, it's the exact opposite. The sectarian parties are not involved – they are the target of these protests. So, this is a fundamental difference that has to be kept in mind.

Because the protest leaders aren't centralized and have little connection to politics, the Lebanese government has had immense difficulty negotiating a stand-down.

The authorities are trying to placate by trying to say, 'well let's form a new government, let's do this let's do that.' None of this is really working ... there's no trust between the protest[ors] and the political class. So, any proposal that's coming from the political class is being dismissed. Because it's seen as a trick and a way to co-opt and placate and just defuse the situation ... So, again it's a very different phenomenon than 2005, which is precisely why it's very unclear as to how we proceed from here. The people don't want a government or political system where these people are in power. Now, these people are not going to give up power, so that's the impasse.

Adding to the government's difficulties is its severe cash crunch:

It just shows you the brazenness of this elite that they're trying to raise revenue from anywhere they can possibly think of without doing any structural reforms and letting go of their profits. Because the system really runs on the equivalent of a Ponzi scheme through the Lebanese banks. The Lebanese government is very much in debt. It's one of the most indebted governments on the planet. ... depend[ent] on a sustained inflow of US dollars in cash from abroad ... they need fresh money constantly like in any Ponzi scheme. But with the [Western] sanctions on Hezbollah [and] the sanctions by the Arab states in the Gulf against Hezbollah, [which] affects [Lebanese] workers in the diaspora in the Gulf and their ability to send remittances ... all of these things have affected the cash inflow leading to this crisis point. So, in the background of everything else, the economy is teetering on the edge if it's not already over the edge.

Asked by MEF Radio cohost Gregg Roman if he has "any recommendations for American policymakers," Badran replied,

I think the most important thing is not to give any bailouts to this political class ... it will just prolong its life and that's not what the people on the streets want. ... This is a system that is tailor-made for Hezbollah. So, if you are helping that system continue to survive, then you're really helping Hezbollah's case. So, the United States should not allow any bailout for this class. Let this phenomenon play out.

Tony Badran


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