Saturday, March 4, 2023

Tehran Regime Targets U.S. Homeland -- Kill Lists and Kidnappings - Benjamin Weinthal


by Benjamin Weinthal

The Mapping Project provides, in meticulous detail, the precise addresses of U.S. government institutions and law enforcement offices. This refers not only to department and agency headquarters but also to numerous local branches and offices of these institutions.

This is an abbreviated version of an article published originally under the title "U.S. Mainland Under Threat as Iran Pushes Assassinations, Kidnappings."

Amid the report that a top Iranian regime military official on Friday urged the murders of the ex-commander of the United States Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie, former President Trump, and former Secretary State of Mike Pompeo, a new report asserts that Iran is likely behind a "kill list" targeting law enforcement agencies in Boston.

Amirali Hajizadeh, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace, declared during a televised interview last week that, "Inshallah (God willing) we will be able to kill Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo (former) CENTCOM chief Kenneth McKenzie, and others who ordered killing of Qasem Soleimani."

The U.S. military killed Soleimani with a drone strike in January 2020 because the EU and U.S.-designated terrorist was planning an attack and was responsible for the murder of over 600 American military personnel.

The reach of Islamic Republic of Iran terrorist activities impacted the independent TV network Iran International Iran just days ago. The Persian-language TV outlet said it was suspending its London-based operation and relocating to Washington D.C. because of a "significant escalation in state-backed threats from Iran."

Across the Atlantic, Iran's regime—which the U.S. State Department classifies as the world's worst international state-sponsor of terrorism— launched a kidnapping attempt of the Brooklyn-based Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad.

Following the arrest of the three alleged kidnappers, FBI director Christopher Wray noted the very real threat posed by Iran to the U.S. and the world. "The conduct charged in today's case shows how far Iranian actors are willing to go to silence critics of the Iranian regime—even attempting an assassination right here in the United States. But looking at the threat from Iran more broadly, we've seen the Iranian regime become more aggressive and more brazen across vectors."

Wray continued that "In just the past couple years, actors associated with Iran have launched a ransomware attack on a children's hospital in New England, attempted to assassinate the former U.S. National Security Advisor on U.S. soil, and now plotted to silence a U.S. citizen—a journalist who publicized the Iranian government's human rights abuses—by carrying out a murder in the heart of New York City."

Wray warned, "If that doesn't show how serious the threat from Iran is to Americans right here in America, I don't know what does."

There is a bill of particulars of Iranian assassination plots on U.S. soil. In 2009, Iranian agents sought to murder California resident Jamshid Sharmahd for his opposition to the country. The regime kidnaped Sharmahd when he was in the United Arab Emirates in 2020 and sentenced him to death on Tuesday on reportedly trumped-up charges.

In 2012, the former New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly disclosed during an anti-terror conference that "We've been concerned about Iran for a while."

In 2014, the United States government linked Iran's regime to the planned assassination of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador in a Washington, D.C., restaurant.

A new 24-page report by U.S.-based Zachor Legal Institute outlines what it says are Iranian threats against U.S. targets that include the Boston Police Department, the FBI, and other government and law enforcement agencies.

The report, titled "The Unseen Threat of The Mapping Project," claims there "is considerable evidence that Iranian elements may be involved in creating the Mapping Project." The document notes that the Iranian regime-owned PressTV published a "supportive column" on June 26, 2022, and a 30-minute video segment about it in July of the same year that praised the Mapping Project and called for its replication in all 50 American states.

The U.S.-sanctioned outlet PressTV reported, "It is perfectly legitimate to target Jewish groups that support Zionist crimes, just as it is to target Christian groups that do the same. The Mapping project, to its credit is already doing that."

Rebekah Koffler, a former analyst at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, told Fox News Digital, "It is my professional assessment that there's a high probability of Iran's involvement in this heinous project. The project's stated goals, antisemitic narrative, and methodology employed to galvanize support from extremist sympathizers, are consistent with the tradecraft of Iranian intelligence and Iran's declared policy to target U.S. persons."

The Boston Mapping Project was initially thought to be largely limited to planned antisemitic terrorism attacks against Jewish and Israeli organizations in Boston. The Zachor Legal Institute, however, revealed that "out of the roughly 500 entities publicly listed on the Mapping Project website, 298 are American strategic security assets and institutions. This raises concern that the true goal of the project is to map the American security apparatus and that the targeting of the American Jewish community – while real and troubling – may be a façade to obfuscate this plan."

According to Zachor, "A particularly noteworthy feature of the Mapping Project is that it provides, in meticulous detail, the precise addresses of U.S. government institutions and law enforcement offices. This refers not only to department and agency headquarters but also to numerous local branches and offices of these institutions."

Tehran's clerical regime has Iranian dissidents and American officials on its terror assassination radar screen. Koffler noted that "The U.S. government already pays millions of dollars to provide 24/7 security to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former President Trump's special envoy to Iran Brian Hook, both of whom face, to this day, 'serious and credible' threats from Iran."

The website of the Boston Mapping project declares that, "Our goal in pursuing this collective mapping was to reveal the local entities and networks that enact devastation, so we can dismantle them. Every entity has an address, every network can be disrupted."

Mariellen Burns, chief of communications for the Boston Police Department, referred Fox News Digital to federal partners. She also noted that, "We are continuously engaged with security and threat briefings with the Jewish Community, and they are aware we are here to help."

When asked about the report and the alleged list of federal and security targets, a spokesperson for the FBI told Fox News Digital that the organization "has no comment."

A spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council referred Fox News Digital to the State Department.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department told Fox News Digital that, "We have no information to provide on this question" with respect to the alleged role of Iran in the Boston Mapping Project.

Koffler said, "The Biden Administration's security team has been quite enthusiastic about investigating parents under 'domestic terrorism' laws. It is stunning that they are ignoring the real and escalating threat ... against our security institutions, such as police stations, air force bases, naval installations, the U.S. Secret Service, FBI, Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals."

When asked about Iranian plans for such an attack and whether Tehran was behind the mapping project, a spokesperson from the Iranian mission to the United Nations told Fox News Digital that "The group you mentioned isn't supported in any way by Iran."

Fox News Digital reporter Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

Benjamin Weinthal, a Middle East Forum writing fellow, reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Follow him on Twitter at @BenWeinthal.


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Hady Amr’s transformational policy - Caroline Glick


by Caroline Glick

Due to pressure from the U.S. representative for Palestinian affairs and the Biden administration, the IDF has avoided any major action against the terrorist infrastructure in northern Samaria.


(JNS) On Feb. 27, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding the suspension of a State Department grant that was awarded to Fares Al Arab for Development and Charity Works in Gaza due to the group’s ties to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organizations.

The State Department gave Fares Al Arab a $41,213 grant for “Developing Palestinian Journalists’ English Skills.” But as The Washington Free Beacon reported, Fares Al Arab issued a grant “to a radio network run by the Islamic Jihad, honored a self-described journalist who belonged to the PFLP, hosted a press freedom event that featured a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad, and co-led a human rights training course with a convicted terrorist.”

Issa demanded that by March 10, the State Department explain if it “knew the history of the group’s ties to terrorism,” “why the grant was provided if the history was known” and provide a complete accounting for the State Department’s decision to award Fares Al Arab the grant.

The State Department’s funding of Fares Al Arab is a big deal in and of itself. But this week it became clear that it isn’t a fluke. The full expanse of the Biden administration’s policy towards Palestinian Arab terrorists and Israel became clear this week during U.S. Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr’s visit to Israel and Jordan.

Amr’s first stop this week was Aqaba, Jordan. On Sunday, Amr participated in a summit hosted by the Hashemite regime between senior officials from Israel, Jordan, the U.S., Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. The summit, whose stated goal was to “calm” the security situation in the P.A. and Israel, took place as the newest round of the Palestinian jihad against the Jewish state and its Jewish citizens went into high gear. In the month preceding the summit, Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered 10 Israelis and wounded several more. Three more have been killed since.

On Sunday evening, Israel’s Channel 14 revealed that the summit’s agenda was a U.S. security “plan” to tamp down terrorist violence—and Israeli counterterror operations in Judea and Samaria. Among other things, the U.S. proposal entails a massive increase in the number of U.S.-trained Palestinian security personnel. The Biden administration wishes to provide 5,000 Palestinian Arabs with commando training in Jordan and then deploy them to northern Samaria, and perhaps the South Hebron Hills—both major nodes of Palestinian Arab terrorist activity.

The U.S. proposal would also require Israel to sharply curtail IDF counterterror operations. It foresees the deployment of foreign forces, including U.S. military forces, on the ground. The ostensible purpose of those forces would be to separate Palestinian Arabs from Israelis. In practice, such a deployment would pit U.S. and other forces against IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs.

Among the many alarming aspects of the U.S. plan is the fact that it ignores completely the direct involvement of Palestinian forces in terrorist attacks. During the course of the Palestinian Arab terror war 20 years ago, U.S.-trained P.A. forces murdered 26 IDF soldiers in 2002 alone. The Palestinian Arabs learned how to use cellphones as remote detonation devices from their American trainers. Over the years, they have put that knowledge to use not to fight terror but to kill Israelis in terrorist attacks.

The P.A., whose forces the U.S. seeks to “empower,” is controlled by the Fatah terror group. P.A. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is the chairman of Fatah. Fatah terrorists carried out most of the murderous terror attacks in 2021-2022. Several of those attacks were carried out by P.A. security officers.

On Jan. 1, at the P.A.’s official Fatah Day celebration in Ramallah, the guest of honor was Fathi Azzam. Azzam is a former colonel in the U.S.-supported Palestinian National Security Forces, the armed group the U.S. intends to transform into the Palestinian army. Azzam was celebrated because his son Raad murdered two Israelis at a Tel Aviv pub last April and his other son Abd was killed along with a P.A. security officer in the course of a gunfight with IDF soldiers in Jenin last September. In the weeks before he was killed, Abd carried out several shooting attacks against IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians.

The message of the U.S. plan that Amr and his colleagues presented at Aqaba is straightforward. As far as the Biden administration is concerned, Israel is the rogue actor in the neighborhood and the Palestinian Authority terror-soaked security forces are America’s partner, not in fighting terrorism so much as in undermining Israeli counterterror operations.

While Amr and his colleagues were reading Israel the riot act in Aqaba, Palestinian Arab terrorists in the northern Samaria terror hub of Huwara murdered two brothers, Hillel and Yagel Yaniv. The Yaniv brothers were executed in a rain of bullets while they were stuck at a roadblock.

The attack was eminently predictable. In the month leading up to their murder, Palestinian Arabs carried out an average of two-three rock and Molotov cocktail attacks a day against Israeli cars in Huwara and on the Gilad route leading into the village.

The worst Palestinian terror attack in recent weeks was the Sabbath massacre of seven Israelis in Jerusalem as they left prayer services on Jan. 27. The day after the attack, Huwara held an official celebration of the slaughter replete with fireworks. Footage of the event was posted on Huwara’s Facebook page.

Following the murder of the Yaniv brothers, Huwara residents celebrated by handing out sweets.

Among those celebrating was the owner of a car and spare parts lot named Ayed Maharab. As the Kol Yehudi news agency reported, Maharab is a paroled terrorist who spent five years in prison. His Facebook page is filled with celebrations of terrorist attacks and of himself holding an AK-47. Maharab published a post following the Yaniv brothers’ murders celebrating the attack.

Due to massive pressure from Amr and his colleagues in the Biden administration, the IDF has avoided taking any major action against the now sprawling terrorist infrastructure in northern Samaria, including in Huwara. In the heat of the moment, following the murder of their friends and neighbors, a number of Israelis from surrounding villages entered Huwara and committed acts of vigilante violence. Among other things, they burned Maharab’s car lot.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich lives near Huwara. He reportedly passed through the location of the Yaniv brothers’ execution just moments before it occurred. Following the attack, Smotrich seethed that Huwara should be “wiped out.”

Certainly, Smotrich’s statement was wrong. But anyone even minimally sympathetic to Israel or more generally, towards a society in the middle of a major terror onslaught, would cut him some slack. That is, while you would distance yourself from the sentiment, you would understand the distress at its source and give Smotrich some credit, particularly when he apologized.

That’s not what the Biden administration did though. Instead, State Department Spokesman Ned Price “condemned” Smotrich’s “irresponsible, repugnant and disgusting, provocative remarks.” Price accused Smotrich of “incitement of violence,” and demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemn Smotrich. The administration also announced that it will boycott Smotrich when he comes to Washington next week for the annual Israel Bonds conference.

Price demanded that Israel round up and prosecute the perpetrators and indemnify the victims.

This brings us to Amr’s second stop on his trip. On Monday, Amr visited Huwara. He didn’t visit the site of the terror attack against the Yaniv brothers. He didn’t pay his respects to the Yaniv family. Amr didn’t even condemn their murder. Instead, as the U.S. Embassy’s Palestinian Affairs Department’s Twitter page reported, Amr “visited with the [Palestinian] victims of Sunday’s Huwara attack. He expressed his deepest condolences and condemned the unacceptable widescale, indiscriminate violence by setters.”

Amr had his picture taken at Maharab’s burned-down car lot.

At Aqaba, Amr and his associates reinstated the Biden administration’s demand that Israel permit them to open a consulate in Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority. The fact that such a move would effectively abrogate U.S. recognition of Israel’s capital city doesn’t bother Amr or his colleagues.

On Tuesday, Amr visited Jerusalem and went to Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount. He didn’t meet with any rabbis though.

Amr had his picture taken outside of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The post under the photo on his Twitter page reads, “Special Rep. Amr met with Sheikh Azzam, Director of the Islamic Waqf, to discuss preparations for a peaceful Ramadan reflecting the spirit of the Holy Month and to reiterate the U.S. commitment to the historic status quo.”

“Sheikh Azzam” is Azzam al-Khatib, the director of the Jordanian Waqf Islamic trust, which by agreement with Israel runs the mosques on the Temple Mount. If Amr is interested in a “peaceful Ramadan,” his choice to meet with al-Khatib was a strange one.

In November 2021, the Kol Hayehudi news service reported how in August 2021, the Waqf’s website posted photos from the graduation ceremony of 68 women from a four-year course titled “The Fortress Battalion of Strength.” The course trained women to serve in the Mourabitoun, a Hamas-controlled group of women who among other things harass police and Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount.

The course was co-directed by al-Khatib’s deputy Najah Bahirat and Sheikh Fadi Abu Shahidam. Abu Shahidam headed the Wafq’s Bait Pika al Aslamiya, a group that teaches Islamic Sharia law on the Temple Mount under the aegis of the Waqf’s Shariah Education Administration. The photos on the Waqf’s website showed al-Khatib sitting and standing next to Abu Shahidam.

Abu Shahidam came to the attention of the Israeli public three months after the course. On Nov. 21, Abu Shahidam murdered Eliyahu Kaye, 26, in a spray of bullets as the young man, who made aliyah from South Africa, was walking to his job as a tour guide at the Western Wall. Abu Shahidam was subsequently killed by Israeli police.

Following Abu Shahidam’s attack, Hamas released an official announcement identifying Abu Shahidam as its senior operative in Shuafat, Jerusalem. As the Kol Hayehudi agency reported, the police suspect that the entire course was a Hamas project. Bahirat, who has a long record of terror incitement in his sermons at Al-Aqsa, was arrested on terror charges a few days after his colleague Abu Shahidam murdered Kaye.

Abu Shahidam is far from the only Hamas operative who worked with al-Khatib.

In March 2022, the Jerusalem prosecution indicted a Waqf-controlled charitable group called Zakat al Quds, its director Khaled Sabah and two of his sons on terrorism charges. Zakat al Quds had its tax-exempt status and charitable status removed by the Knesset and the Registrar of Non-Profits after it was discovered that it is controlled by Hamas, operates as a Hamas recruitment organization and transfers funds to Hamas terrorists and the families of dead Hamas terrorists. In all, Zakat al Quds is accused of raising and transferring 27 million shekels (about $7.4 million) for Hamas.

Sabah began directing Zakat al Quds in 1994. In 2019, Sabah was appointed head of Hamas financial operations in Jerusalem by Hamas leadership in Turkey. In 2021, they promoted him to director of all Hamas operations in Jerusalem. Among other things, Sabah was charged by his commanders in Turkey with organizing all Hamas terror activities on the Temple Mount ahead of the month of Ramadan last year. He and his sons were charged with laundering 2.7 million shekels (around $740,000) for Hamas through their personal bank accounts in Israel and Turkey, and designating 360,000 shekels (some $98,000) for specifically terrorist purposes. The three men underwent weapons training in Turkey.

As the Kol Hayehudi news agency reported in April, the board of directors of Zakat al Quds are all heads of the Jordanian Waqf. The chairman of the board of directors, who holds power of attorney over its accounts and is responsible among other things for approving its financial records, is Omar Odallah al-Kiswani. Al-Kiswani is a senior Jordanian Waqf official and the director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Incidentally, Zakat al Quds’s accountant from 2009 to 2021 was Esawi Freij. Freij resigned from his position in 2021 when as a senior lawmaker from the Meretz Party, he was appointed minister of regional cooperation in the Bennett-Lapid government.

According to Palestinian sources, Hady Amr’s visit this week to the Temple Mount marked a major shift in U.S. policy. Amr is the first U.S. official to carry out an official visit at the Temple Mount.

While Amr’s “Sheikh Azzam” isn’t directly implicated in any of the Hamas entities operating in the mosque, his web of ties to Hamas terrorists, including Kaye’s murderer, and Hamas’s central position in the Jordanian Waqf al-Khatib oversees, casts a dark shadow over Amr’s visit to the Temple Mount and over the Biden administration’s Israel-Palestinian policy that Amr leads.

None of Amr’s actions should come as a surprise to those who have followed his work over the years. Amr laid out his vision for U.S. policy in a paper he coauthored in 2018 for the Brookings Institution. In “Ending Gaza’s Perpetual Crisis: A New U.S. Approach,” Amr called for the U.S. to enable funding of Hamas entities by limiting the criminal consequences for U.S.-funded NGOs that work with those entities.

Amr also called for the U.S. to force Israel to stand down against Hamas by using a combination of direct pressure and European economic threats to compel Israel to cease fighting the terror group. Amr also called for the U.S. to support the establishment of a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas along with Fatah.

In 2021, President Joe Biden appointed Amr to serve as deputy assistant secretary of state for Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Last year, Biden promoted Amr to his current position of special representative for Palestinian affairs. Judging from Amr’s actions this week in Aqaba, Huwara and Jerusalem, he has carte blanche to advance the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian terrorist vision he set out in his Brookings paper.

Issa’s letter to Blinken regarding the State Department-funded Hamas charity in Gaza exposed the tip of the iceberg. Amr exposed the iceberg itself this week.

Under his leadership, the Biden administration has abandoned U.S. support for Israel in favor of support for Palestinian Arab terrorists and their war against the Jewish state.

Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.


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State crackdowns on 'gender affirming care' for kids parallel heated debates within medicine - Greg Piper


by Greg Piper

New York Times staff try to cancel their own reporters for deeply reported features on transgender issues. British Medical Journal contrasts American rush to medicalize with Europe's caution.


As states investigate and crack down on rushing gender-confused children onto puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeks federal data that could undermine the Biden administration's push on so-called gender affirming care.

The debate over when and how to medically transition children is becoming increasingly acrimonious within the political left, including disagreements on the rigor of research claiming that rushed transitions are necessary to prevent suicide.

Former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller's America First Legal sued the Food and Drug Administration Feb. 27, alleging nonresponsiveness to AFL's Sept. 29 FOIA request for records from Biden's inauguration to date related to off-label use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children.

The request asked for records that included the terms "child" or "minor" and "puberty blocker," the drugs Lupron, Leuprorelin, Fensolvi, Synarel, Nafarelin, Supprelin, Vantas, Triptodur and Histrelin and the drug classes GnRH agonist or GnRH analogues.

Th AFL complaint asked the federal court in D.C. to order the FDA to "conduct searches immediately" and show their search methods were "reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of responsive records" and to award AFL attorney's fees.

The FDA declined to tell Just the News if it had responded to the records request beyond confirmation of receipt.

The FDA added a warning to GnRH agonists last summer because of their "plausible" connection to spontaneous increases in intracranial pressure in girls. Kaiser Health News reported as early as 2017 that Lupron could cause "lasting health problems."



The Republican governors of South Dakota, Mississippi and Tennessee all signed bills into law in the past month that prohibit gender affirming procedures for minors. 

The most recent, in Tennessee, provides for investigations of medical providers by the attorney general and $25,000 penalties for violations. Treatment begun before July 1 and ended by March 31, 2024 is exempt. 

The legislation was prompted by once-public videos from Vanderbilt University Medical Center that feature its employees calling gender clinics financially lucrative, both surgeries and ongoing drug treatments, and warning that resistant employees would face "consequences" for not participating. 

Missouri's Washington University and BJC Healthcare refused to halt what they called "critical, standards-based care to current and new patients" amidst an investigation of their transgender health center at St. Louis Children's Hospital prompted by whistleblower Jamie Reed.

But they told Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey they were instituting unspecified "additional oversight" at the clinic, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in mid-February. Missouri lawmakers and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are pushing state and federal legislation to prohibit such treatments for minors, and Hawley also issued a preservation demand letter to the hospital.

A British Medical Journal investigation last month said that "concerns about the rapid widespread adoption of interventions and calls for rigorous scientific review [of pro-transition research] are coming from across the ideological spectrum" and among gender identity professionals.

It cited research on rising numbers of mostly female "adolescents with no history of gender dysphoria" presenting at gender clinics, their "concurrent mental health and neurodiverse conditions" compared to minors without gender confusion, and estimated detransition rates of 20-30%.

BMJ contrasted American practice, which heavily favors medicalization from a young age, with the countervailing practices of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. England's National Health Service has gone so far as describing prepubertal gender dysphoria as a "transient phase" for most minors and warning that even social transition without a medical component has risks.

The New York Times is following "the lead of far-right hate groups" in its coverage of transgender issues, according to a February open letter signed by more than a thousand self-identified Times contributors and several current staff.

It denounces reporters Emily Bazelon and Katie Baker by name for deeply reported features on internal divisions in the medical community on gender affirming care and the tradeoffs when schools hide social transitions from parents.

In a coordinated effort, a coalition led by GLAAD released a similar missive signed by celebrities, including comedy producer Judd Apatow and actress Lena Dunham. It blasts the Times for "platforming lies, bias, fringe theories, and dangerous inaccuracies" throughout "more than a year of irresponsible, biased news and opinion pieces about the transgender community."

Times editors responded to the internal denunciations by telling the newsroom they "will not tolerate" staff participating "in protests organized by advocacy groups or attacks on colleagues" in public forums, which violates the newspaper's ethics policy, Vanity Fair reported.


That led to dueling efforts between the New York Times Guild, which said letter-signers were criticizing the "hostile working environment" created by Times transgender coverage, and dozens of Times staff, including high-profile reporters who defended their accused colleagues.

The letter organized by reporter Jeremy Peters accused union leadership of undermining their "ethical and professional protections" by seemingly endorsing "a workplace in which any opinion or disagreement about Times coverage can be recast as a matter of 'workplace conditions.'" This crosses the line between journalism and activism, they said.


Greg Piper


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What the Battle for Judicial Reform is Really About - Caroline Glick


by Caroline Glick

Despite its control over vast power sources in Israeli society, the Left does not control the Israeli people themselves. A significant majority of Israelis define themselves as right-of-center.


In Israel as in states throughout the Western world, the political Left is an ecosystem of power, and not merely a political camp. It starts with the parties of the center- and far-Left. But it encompasses far more powerful institutions and actors, as well. These include the universities, the vast majority of media organs, most of the entertainment industry, and much of the economic elite. The Left also comprises the senior ranks of the security establishment—represented most clearly by politically active retired generals.

The most powerful component of the Left’s ecosystem in Israel is the legal fraternity, which is comprised of the Supreme Court, the attorney general, the state prosecution, and the legal advisors to the Knesset and the government ministries.

Despite its control over vast power sources in Israeli society, the Left does not control the Israeli people themselves. A significant majority of Israelis define themselves as right-of-center. In the last elections, right-of-center parties won 64 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset. The Left’s parties won a mere 46 seats. The other 10 seats went to two anti-Zionist Arab parties, which are supported by, but are not constituent parts of, the leftist ecosystem.

For the first three decades after Israel won independence in 1948, the Left held all levers of political power. The Labor Party controlled the government and the Knesset. And its loyalists controlled the Left’s nonpolitical ecosystem. When, under Menachem Begin, the Right won its first electoral victory in 1977, Begin disappointed his loyalists and opted not to replace Labor’s apparatchiks in the public sector, the Israel Defense Forces, the legal system, and state media with his own. Begin’s refusal to bring in his own people was a source of rancor, but when viewed in its historical context, his decision had its merits. Labor’s apparatchiks were old-left socialists, ideologically, but they were experienced in the ways of governance and they were patriots. True, they despised Begin, but they loved Israel. Leaving them secure in their positions may have made them political thorns in Begin’s side, but it didn’t harm the national interest.

Begin would probably have acted differently today.

Like the Left throughout the Western world, over the past 30 years, Israel’s Left has abandoned labor union politics for cultural Marxism and post-nationalism. Its new globalist ideals render the Left’s constituent parts contemptuous, and increasingly hateful, of Israel’s nationalist majority.

In the decades since Begin opted to leave the Labor apparatchiks in place, their post-nationalist successors have formed an oligarchy whose power sits beyond the reach of the elected Israeli government. Its members, particularly in the legal fraternity, have seized more and more executive powers away from the government, and more and more legislative powers away from the Knesset. For the past three decades, government lawyers have killed government decisions and legislative initiatives, before they were off the drawing board, by proclaiming them “unreasonable” or “legally problematic” (as opposed to illegal).

When the government and Knesset chose to disregard the unsubtle orders from their unelected lawyers, the Supreme Court pounced. The justices haven’t flinched from abrogating the government’s actions; and more often than not, the justices have based their decisions not on statutory law, but on the extraordinarily vague “reasonableness” rationale that has enabled them to strike down laws and lawful government actions simply by deeming them “unreasonable.”

Today, led quite openly by Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut and her predecessor, Aharon Barak, the Israeli Left is in open rebellion against the Netanyahu government and its plans to reform the judicial system. Buffeted and sometimes led by a media that has abandoned all pretense of dispassionate journalism for propaganda, some on the Left—including the mayor of Tel Aviv—have outright called for civil war. Others have deployed a combination of riots, protests, boycotts, highway blockages, and lawfare in a bid to paralyze and intimidate the Netanyahu government into standing down.

The Netanyahu government’s program for judicial reform is astounding for its modesty. If passed in full, it will simply realign Israel’s currently unchecked judiciary with the checked judiciaries of the vast majority of Western democracies.

The judicial reform package’s main components are: placing judicial appointments under more political control; requiring justices to base their judgments on the law, rather than the malleable veneer of “reasonableness”; banning the Supreme Court from amending or overriding Israel’s Basic laws, which form the basis of Israel’s quasi-constitutional rule of law; and placing constraints on the Supreme Court’s power to abrogate laws duly promulgated by the Knesset, while providing the Knesset with a mechanism for overriding the Court’s decisions.

The final clause of the government’s reform package stipulates that the attorney general’s opinions do not bind the government that he ostensibly serves.

While the Left has managed to engender a sense of chaos, the situation in Israel is actually far more stable than it appears. The Left’s riots will continue so long as the billionaire funders in Israel and abroad send their checks. But the legal reform will be passed into law and implemented.

Any doubt that this would occur was dispelled two weeks ago, via a strategic intervention by Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Although the position of Israeli president is a largely ceremonial post, two weeks ago Herzog inserted himself into the middle of the debate. In a primetime address, Herzog set out his own proposal for judicial reform. A former head of the Labor Party and the son of Israel’s sixth president, the late Chaim Herzog, Isaac Herzog is a scion of the leftist establishment.

Herzog’s proposal involved fewer limits on the Court’s powers than the government’s proposal. But his intervention was important—indeed, it was decisive—for three main reasons.

First, Herzog’s proposal is predicated on both recognition and opposition to the fact that today, Israel’s Supreme Court has no checks on its power whatsoever. To restore and safeguard Israel’s democracy, the Israeli Supreme Court must cease to operate as a self-perpetuating judicial oligarchy.

Second, Herzog’s proposal recognizes the fundamental legitimacy of the political Right. Knesset opposition leader Yair Lapid and his partners have so far refused to follow suit; as far as they are concerned, the Israeli people’s vote last fall to restore Netanyahu to power was no more than an arbitrary moment, and far less legitimate than the unmoving positions of the nation’s ruling elite.

Finally, Herzog’s intervention gave cover to leftist politicians and luminaries who, like him, are willing to work with the Netanyahu government to reach a workable compromise on legal reform. Despite public denials by various opposition politicians, following Herzog’s speech, prominent leftists have been meeting behind the scenes with Justice Minister Yariv Levin, Chairman of Knesset Law, Constitution, and Justice Committee Simcha Rothman, and their advisors, in order to bridge differences.

And those differences are not all that large. Nearly every single leading politician on the Left—including Lapid himself—has put forward a program of judicial reform similar to the Netanyahu government’s plan. Back in 1994, Herzog’s father, then-President Chaim Herzog, also called for constraining judicial power.

At the end of the day, the fight over judicial reform in Israel isn’t about judicial reform at all. It is about the radical Left, and its refusal to accept the validity of democratic outcomes when its side loses. The Netanyahu government will win because, despite the fact that the radicals have taken over the leftist ecosystem, enough old-left Zionists are still around to work with their counterparts on the Zionist Right and cut a deal.

Originally published in

Caroline Glick


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The real threat to Israeli democracy - Melanie Phillips


by Melanie Phillips

Universalism has undermined it from both inside and out.


(JNS) The huge demonstrations that continue in Israel and turned violent this week are fueled by the claim that the government’s judicial reform package spells the end of Israeli democracy.

It is, of course, beyond nonsensical to try to bring down a democratically elected government with calls for “bloodshed on the streets” and “civil war” on the basis that—according to the organizers of Wednesday’s “day of disruption”—the government is a “regime” attempting a “coup” against democracy.

These protests are also based on a set of misunderstandings about the reforms.

The situation is crying out for political leadership. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to spell out to the public why these reforms are intended to correct an anti-democratic imbalance caused by judicial overreach.

But Netanyahu has been prevented from doing so. As he wryly observed at the Conference of Presidents’ meeting in Jerusalem last Sunday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has imposed a “gag order” on him.

This is because of a 2020 conflict of interest agreement arising from the court cases against Netanyahu. Last month, Baharav-Miara told the prime minister that this agreement prevents him from speaking about or having anything to do with the judicial reform package.

Her instructions included an opinion by her deputy that the reforms would “benefit the prime minister in terms of the administration of his trial” and allow the governing coalition to advance legislation that could assist him more easily.

That is merely an opinion. There is no evidence for it at all. Moreover, since Baharav-Miara has herself publicly opposed the reforms, claiming that they would give the executive and legislature “broad and effectively unlimited authority,” it is she who would seem to have a conflict of interest over this.

Baharav-Miara’s gag order is therefore a highly political maneuver to shackle a democratically elected prime minister’s ability to govern the country. It is an example of the very judicial overreach that Netanyahu’s government is attempting to correct.

It’s therefore supremely ironic that the order is preventing him from making the case for the judicial reforms, confining him to exhorting the demonstrators to end their violence and disruption.

The general hysteria is being driven by people with the explicit agenda of getting rid of Netanyahu. Most of the protesters are from the political left, for whom Netanyahu has demonic status. They also consider a “right-wing” government to be, by definition, an offense against the natural order.

But there are also protesters not on the left who are genuinely worried about a potential abuse of power by a government that will no longer be constrained, as they see it, by the courts.

In part, this is due to Netanyahu’s behavior when last in office. During that time, he progressively concentrated ministerial power upon himself. Moreover, some aspects of the reforms are indeed troubling.

Professor Moshe Koppel, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum and a key architect of the reforms, has himself spoken out against their most controversial aspect: The proposal that would allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings with a bare majority.

Compromises are undoubtedly needed and some are already being proposed. They are unlikely, however, to satisfy the protesters. There are deeper reasons for their belief that Israeli democracy is about to end.

Israel’s judicial overreach began in the 1990s, when then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak began to blur the boundaries between law and political activism.

He was, however, merely taking a position that had steadily gained traction in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s. It became the prevailing orthodoxy of left-wing politics and the legal world, and eventually progressive circles throughout the West.

This was the development of universal human rights law. International human rights conventions were developed after World War II by lawyers who believed Nazism showed that national laws cannot prevent tyranny. Universal laws were needed to protect people’s rights.

While admirable in intent, this was also a badly flawed idea.

Rights come from a prior set of duties, without which they cannot exist. True human rights were given to the world by the Hebrew Bible, in which belief in human dignity gave rise to justice, compassion and the network of obligations that create a society of free individuals.

Without being anchored in a network of duties, rights amount to nothing other than demands. Accordingly, universal human rights law helped create “victim culture,” with groups competing for preferential treatment on the basis of their presumed powerlessness.

Human rights law is innately biased towards “powerless” minorities and against the “powerful” majority. This was acknowledged by the eminent English judge Lord Bingham, who said in a speech in 2008 that human rights legislation is “in one sense undemocratic in that it is counter-majoritarian,” since its purpose is to protect the politically powerless.

Trouncing the majority thus became identified with virtue. “Powerlessness” gave self-identified “victim groups” an exemption from their own obligations while, simultaneously, allowing them to demand privileges from society.

This is what lies behind identity politics and “intersectionality,” which have increasingly terrorized all who stand in the way of granting those demands.

However, human rights law is not universal but mediated by judges, whose rulings must balance competing rights and are contingent upon prevailing cultural attitudes.

Yet because human rights are identified with virtue, judges came to think they were not just the guardians of domestic law but defenders of good against evil.

That’s why Aharon Barak led his judicial revolution in Israel, which allowed the judiciary to feel morally virtuous in striking down political actions of which they disapproved.

In addition, universalism, which became the default political creed of left-wing politics, undermines the very concept of the nation that underpins democracy.

Universalism deems the nation to be inherently exclusive, bigoted and oppressive. National laws therefore need to be subordinate to universal principles.

When universal human rights law was created, some lawyers warned that such laws, not being anchored in any national jurisdiction, could pose a potential risk to justice.

The warning was ignored. But that is precisely why human rights law has been weaponized against Israel.

It’s why human rights NGOs have been able to position themselves as the conscience of the world, even while they maliciously defame Israelis as human rights offenders and excuse the Palestinian Arabs’ genocidal attacks.

It’s why the U.N. Human Rights Council disproportionately and unjustly targets Israel while sanitizing tyrannical regimes—some of which are even members of the council.

It’s why the Palestinian Arabs can foment vexatious actions against Israel in the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court.

Human rights culture has created “lawfare” against Israel, against justice and against democracy. It has transformed judges from custodians of the rule of law into perpetrators of rule by lawyers.

The threat to democracy in Israel isn’t coming from the Netanyahu government, but from the thousands in the streets. Ultimately, it’s an attack on the very idea of a nation state governed by the consent of the majority expressed through democratic laws.

That’s why it’s no surprise that these protests are being backed by the New Israel Fund, whose current attempt to bring Israel’s government down is of a piece with its relentless undermining of Israel itself.

And it’s why this battle is, in fact, the third such war over the idea of the nation in the West.

The first was Britain’s vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, when the British people voted for national independence and democracy against universalism.

The second was the election later that year of U.S. President Donald Trump, when Americans voted to restore American exceptionalism against those who sought to undermine their nation.

Now the third such convulsion has erupted on Israel’s streets as universalism challenges democracy once again, and turns language, truth and reason upside down.


Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir Guardian Angel has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy. Go to to access her work.


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Ex-NCAA swimmer Gaines warns biological males will 'take advantage' of chance to win against females - Danielle Hodes


by Danielle Hodes

Gaines was an All-American at the University of Kentucky who competed against transgender Penn swimmer Lia Thomas.


Riley Gaines, the former NCAA swimmer who has become an advocate for fairness to women in sports, on Friday warned those attending the annual CPAC gathering that allowing biological males to compete in women's sports is creating opportunities for some transgender athletes to exploit the situation.

"It opens the door to people who would fully be willing to take advantage of that opportunity," said Gaines, now a spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s Forum group.

While many Americans are familiar with the University of Pennsylvania women's team swimmer Lia Thomas, who was a member of the school's men's team for three year, then after starting hormone therapy joined the women's team from 2021 to 2022, Gaines competed against Thomas.

Gaines told Just the News on Friday that Thomas of whom she'd never heard "out of nowhere ... was seeing the fastest times in the nation across multiple events."

Thomas in March of last year won the NCAA Division I title in the women's 500-yard freestyle event.

Gaines also made clear that she isn't arguing against people making life changes that they feel are right for them, only that sports "doesn't rely on your identity, it doesn't care about your feelings."

"This is something that strictly relies on sex and your biology and your physiology," said Gaines, who was an All-American and tied Thomas for fifth place in the 200-meter event last year in the NCAA Division I championships. 

She also said the physical differences between biological men and women can be dangerous, recounting a high school volleyball game in which a biological male jumped and spiked the ball that hit a girl in the face, causing vision problems and a concussion.

“Im fortunate that I didn’t have to worry about my physical safety in terms of the sport but we did have to be concerned about our safety in the locker room," she said. "Any situation where you're allowing biological men who are still fully intact with male genitalia to fully expose themselves in a room where women are also fully exposed, that's a problem.”

Looking forward, Gaines believes every person should be able to play sports. She proposes that all 50 states should pass a fairness in women's sports bill that would protect female athletes. 

Danielle Hodes


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'Kill all Jews': Texas schools defaced with threatening antisemitic, racist graffiti - Israel National News


by Israel National News

Violent messages found on two nearby schools in Fort Worth also warn students not to attend classes on Friday.


Two high school campuses in Fort Worth, Texas were vandalized with threatening graffiti targeting Jewish, Hispanic and African American students along with a warning to avoid coming to school on Friday.

One of the messages contained a “vague threat” not to attend school that day, according to Fox4.

The StopAntisemitism organization posted photos to social media of the graffiti, which included the phrases “Kill all Jews” and “Stupid Mexicans,” along with a racial slur directed at Black students.

“We are sick to our stomachs seeing the atrocious antisemitic, racist graffiti found at Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD in the Forth Worth, Texas area,” StopAntisemitism tweeted.

“District police are now reviewing surveillance cameras to see if they can spot the suspect,” they added.


On Monday, Chisholm Trail High School parents received text messages from their children containing photos of the violent graffiti at their school, the report said. That day, the school’s principal also sent parents a letter detailing the vandalism that had been found in the courtyard.

Ed Willkie Middle School, located two miles away, was also vandalized with similar graffiti.

The Chisholm Trail vandalism included a threat telling students not to come to school on Friday. “March 3rd, don’t come,” it said.

But the school district told the outlet that there was no specific threat of violence it was aware of. Police also found no evidence to “substantiate” the ominous message.

The district is in the process of going through security camera footage to see if they can identify the vandal.


Israel National News


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Antisemitism in Orlando: 'They had venom in their eyes' - Yoni Kemplinski


by Yoni Kemplinski

Rabbi Yosef Konikov, Director of Chabad of South Orlando, speaks to INN about the antisemitism he encountered outside the Jewish center.


On Friday, Feb. 17, a group affiliated with the antisemitic group named "the Goyim Defense League" stood at the entrance of Chabad of South Orlando and confronted Jews who were passing by. The protestors flashed Hitler salutes, screamed at the Jews and waved hateful signs. A similar incident took place in May 2022 as well.

Rabbi Yosef Konikov, Director of Chabad of South Orlando, said to Israel National News that the protestors were talking exactly how he would expect the Nazis in Nazi Germany to speak, "with venom in their eyes and the hate in every word coming out of their mouths.”

“It was quite scary. They wanted to get into a fight. They weren’t just there demonstrating with a sign. These guys were in attack mode, even though they were testing the limits of free speech.”

He said there were people who didn’t want to come to synagogue afterwards, and were even afraid to sleep at home. “They thought maybe these guys have a list of Jewish people in the neighorhood. It was quite scary for people.”

Speaking of the issue of the increase in worldwide antisemitism, particularly with hate groups, he says that they figured out how to be brazen and assume no one will stop them.

“They have their own following, so they are trying to create a trend,” he says. “Trying to make this idea as normal. When you see people yelling ‘You are the enemy of America’ and no one even blinks an eye.”

He adds that the police were at the demonstrations but they didn’t do anything. He believes it was because it was a free speech demonstration. But he says it was a mistake for police not to engage with the antisemites there.

“Now that this has gone viral and people have challenged the government… I think they started to think twice and I believe something will be done the next time.”

He notes that while this was one group, they are other groups out there.

“The real concern is not so much these guys, who are basically losers, they don’t have jobs, and someone’s paying them to do this, and they’re clearly a bit psycho when you see how they talk. When you look at their history you see they’re troubled people that were probably abused when they were younger or lacking basic familial conditions that normal people have,” he says.

“But the biggest concern is that there are other crazy people out there who never realized that you could do this kind of stuff, and they don’t understand the legalities of free speech and then they act on something crazier.”

He noted that the man who shot two Jews recently outside a synagogue in California was a follower of the hate group.

“If the government comes out and says, ‘Listen, I’m warning you, you better watch yourself because we’re watching you,’ then people may be afraid to act. But if they say nothing then we have a problem,” says Rabbi Konikov.

He hopes the Florida government is embarking on a legal pathway to stop hate groups from future actions in the state.

“I know that they are. I was in touch with the governor’s office. I was in touch with [lawmakers] and law enforcement. And they have all said they are working with their attorneys to find out what could be done,” he says.

“The impact that this group tried to make, they didn’t really accomplish that result they wanted. They wanted to scare the community. Yes, they scared people here and there. But they actually strengthened the community.”

Rabbi Konikov also mentions all the support he’s received from Jews from the Conservative and Reform synagogues in the area, and from non-Jews who showed up in large numbers with signs to say they supported the Jewish community and Israel.

“It actually generated a lot of support,” he says.

Yoni Kemplinski


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David P. Goldman on the New, New Middle East: China, Iran, and Turkey - Marilyn Stern


by Marilyn Stern

The new configuration in the Middle East creates multiple variables as to the direction Turkey, China, and Russia will take with Iran, which is a "problematic partner."



David P. Goldman, editor of the Asia Times, Washington Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and senior writer at Law & Liberty, spoke to a February 27th Middle East Forum Webinar (video) about global alliances being reshaped by the war in Ukraine. The following is a summary of his comments:

In order to sustain its economy while continuing its war against Ukraine, Russia, along with its "sometime friends and sometime allies," persists in efforts to evade U.S. sanctions and "reorganize trade flows." One of the key countries participating in this effort is Turkey, under the direction of its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the past, Erdoğan's economic policies had pushed his country to the "brink of bankruptcy." Its reserves were running out, it had one of the worst performing currencies, and its stock market "was in the dumps."

However, in the past three years, Turkey's disastrous economy has done an about face to become "one of the fastest growing in the world." Inflation is down, its currency has stabilized, and its asset prices "rose sharply." Erdoğan has managed to accomplish this through a variety of cunning policies. He has tripled the amount of imports from China and, in turn, tripled exports to Russia. And he has evaded U.S. sanctions by shipping essential goods to Russia, including computer chips used in Russia's military, and not reporting them. This could explain why there is a $25 billion discrepancy on Turkey's balance sheet and why the Turkish Central Bank does not know what $25 billion that recently turned up in its foreign exchange coffers is for. Due to the surge in Turkey's trade, it has the best performing stock market in the world.


Erdoğan's emergence as a "prosperous leader of a burgeoning third world economy" is the result of a shrewd policy of "building up blackmail capability against everyone he deals with." For many years, Erdoğan aided the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), a movement that, given its "totalitarian vanguard policy," threatened the security of the Gulf monarchies. In exchange for restraining the MB, Erdoğan secured a $10 billion loan from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2022, thereby changing Turkey's fortunes for the better. Erdoğan has also amassed a sizable amount of trade credits from China by bargaining with Beijing over the Uyghurs, an oppressed group in western China who are "Turks of Asiatic background." Beijing would face considerable problems if Ankara should support Uyghur insurgencies. Instead, Erdoğan has deported some Uyghurs back to China in exchange for these credits.

Washington's reliance on Ankara's cooperation in the Black Sea makes the U.S. vulnerable to Turkey's pressure. Key NATO's priorities include "having control of the Black Sea, limiting Russian operations, [and] maintaining cooperation with other NATO countries in the Black Sea, including Romania and Bulgaria," because, should Moscow block Ukraine's access to the sea, it would render Ukraine landlocked. As a member of NATO and a country that borders the sea, Turkey can play a crucial role in this regard. Consequently, the U.S. is loath to deny arms sales to Turkey, for if Washington were to demur on these arms sales, Turkey could turn to China and Russia to fill the void. China could sell its new fighter jets and missiles to Erdoğan, and Russia has already sold Turkey the S400 anti-aircraft system.

Sweden and Finland, eager to join NATO given Russia's imperialist ambitions, are relying on Turkey's vote as a NATO member for their entry to the organization. However, Erdoğan is looking "to gain leverage in the Kurdish issue." Thus, although he is willing to let Finland join NATO, Erdoğan is demanding Sweden's cooperation in suppressing Kurdish opposition to his regime in exchange for his support of its membership in NATO. Erdoğan sees Turkey's Kurdish minority as an "existential issue for the Turkish state" since the Kurdish fertility rate, which far outpaces that of ethnic Turks in southeast Turkey, ensures that Kurds will make up an increasingly larger proportion of Turkey's future population.

Further complicating the picture is America's concern over China's Huawei 5G broadband, which Turkey has installed "to raise its productivity." It has stoked Washington's fears that China, should it somehow access information "on F-35 flights and learn how to defeat stealth," will share this information with Russia. And were Russia to consider exporting the longer-range S400 missile defense system to Iran, the concern is whether Israel's F-35s "have enough stealth capability to evade Russian anti-stealth technology."

The new configuration in the Middle East creates multiple variables as to the direction Turkey, China, and Russia will take with Iran, which is a "problematic partner." China, Iran's ally for two decades that helped build its ballistic missile capability, has increased its exports to Saudi Arabia while reducing exports to Iran, thereby making Riyadh more important to China than Tehran. In a recently issued joint statement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, China, which depends on the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf and wants to control Iran, publicly criticized Iran for not reining in its "destabilizing regional activities." China's dependence on Persian Gulf oil could cause it to serve as a "stabilizing force" in the region because repercussions from a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia would pose an existential threat to China's economic survival.

In contrast, Russia is an "open ally" of Iran's and has gone beyond its purchase of the regime's "inexpensive drones" by agreeing to sell SU-35 fighter planes to the ayatollahs. Russia's offensive in Ukraine has increased Moscow's trade relationship with the Islamic Republic in a dangerous way. If Iran acquired effective air defense systems to protect its nuclear program against a possible Israeli strike, "the military balance in the Middle East" would completely shift and threaten the Jewish State's existence. Since 2016, Israel has had the latitude, with Russia's understanding, to destroy Iranian positions in Syria, but "the Ukrainian war could change all that."

Even though Turkey has improved its diplomatic relations with Israel, Erdoğan plays both sides by hosting Hamas in Istanbul and refusing to remove its leaders. Turkey has an "opportunity" to behave like a responsible actor and stop evading sanctions, as it is doing by enabling Moscow to depend on Ankara to move Russian oil "through informal means." However, the moving parts in the region create more questions than answers. China's postures toward Iran and Turkey, the Russia-Iran alliance, and Israel-Turkish relations have yet to be taken. It is also uncertain as to how these new alliances will ultimately play out.

The global response to the Ukraine war presents many risks and opportunities, but the unknowns are the only certainties. Unfortunately, the U.S. is not in the position to match China's advances toward Turkey, which should be a "wake up call" for America's economic policy. The key for Washington is keeping Russia "as the odd man out." As for the U.S. approach to Turkey, "we should exercise every possible pressure we can on Turkey to keep them in the fold and stop them sandbagging us."

Marilyn Stern is communications coordinator at the Middle East Forum.


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Israel artifact bearing name of King Darius the Great revealed to be fake - Jerusalem Post Staff


by Jerusalem Post Staff

The forged "artifact" was discovered earlier this week after a foreign researcher left it behind at the excavation site last summer.


 The Darius inscription. (photo credit: YOLI SCHWARTZ/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)
The Darius inscription.

An allegedly ancient artifact inscribed with the name of Persian King Darius the Great found in Tel Lachish National Park earlier this week has been revealed to have been fake, the Israel Antiquities Authority admitted on Friday afternoon.

The fragment of pottery, which was reported to have been 2,500 years old, has been revealed to be a forged piece of work, placed in the national park last summer by a professor of archaeology. 

According to the IAA, the piece of pottery was left behind by the foreign researcher who was conducting an exvacation in Tel Lachish last August. During her time there, she demonstrated the ancient Aramaic language to a group of students by writing "Year 24 of Darius" in the original script.

However, she then accidentally left the fragment behind, where it was discovered by unsuspecting hiker Eylon Levy earlier this week.

"The Antiquities Authority takes responsibility for the incident," IAA chief scientist Prof. Gideon Avni said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

 The Darius inscription. (credit: SHAI HALEVI / ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY) The Darius inscription. (credit: SHAI HALEVI / ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

"The pottery was studied by Dr. Hagai Meshgav, a world-renowned expert on ancient Aramaic script, and by the archaeologist Sa'ar Ganor, who studies Tel Lakish, but it turns out that we came across an 'inscription in disguise.'"

He continued, saying that "from an ethical-scientific point of view, the incident is very serious. Leaving the engraved address on the site was negligent, and this led to misleading the researchers and disrupting the scientific truth. 

"You can count on one hand incidents of this type that happened in archaeological research," he added.

In light of the event, the IAA has stated that it will reexamine its procedures regarding foreign excavation delegations operating in Israel.

Jerusalem Post Staff


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Thursday, March 2, 2023

Sen. Hawley grills AG Garland on anti-Catholic bias in the FBI, raid on pro-life family: ‘Give me an answer!' - Nicholas Lanum


by Nicholas Lanum

Garland said he did not know specifically how many FBI sources are embedded in Catholic churches


Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland over the FBI raid on a pro-life Christian man and asked whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) had an "anti-Catholic bias."

"Our department protects all religions, all ideologies. It does not have any bias against any religion of any kind," Garland said, fielding the question from Hawley during Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Hawley then characterized the DOJ as an agency quick to expend resources and intelligence to be deployed against Catholics while "turning a blind eye" as people are executed in the streets of American cities.

"Your answer frankly surprises me," Hawley added.


Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asks questions at a committee hearing on data security at Twitter.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asks questions at a committee hearing on data security at Twitter.   (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Missouri senator then turned his attention to the story of Mark Houck.

In September, FBI agents arrested Houck in Kintnersville for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a federal crime to use force with the intent to injure, intimidate and interfere with anyone because that person produces reproductive health care.

The arrest stemmed from Houck's alleged altercation with a Planned Parenthood escort in Philadelphia in October 2021. Houck was accused of pushing a 72-year-old man after the escort allegedly verbally harassed Houck's 12-year-old son outside the clinic.  

Days after the arrest, Hawley sent a letter to Garland, accused him of turning a "local dispute into a national case," and criticized the FBI for executing the search warrant in "extreme a manner as one can imagine."

According to an FBI source, the agents who came to Houck's door had guns out and at the ready, but the guns were never pointed at Houck or his family and were lowered or holstered as soon as Houck was taken into custody.

"Why did the FBI do this?" Hawley asked Garland face-to-face during the Senate hearing. "Why did you send 20-30 SWAT-style agents, SWAT-style team to this guy's house when everybody else had declined to prosecute and he offered to turn himself in?"

Garland said FBI agents on the ground determined how to engage with Houck in the "safest" and easiest way, adding that agents disagreed with Hawley's description of what happened at the scene. A senior FBI source previously told Fox News that there may have been 15-20 agents at the scene but denied 25 were there.


Attorney General Merrick Garland said the FBI denied Sen. Josh Hawley's characterization of the FBI raid on Mark Houck.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the FBI denied Sen. Josh Hawley's characterization of the FBI raid on Mark Houck. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Hawley then asked if it was "objectively necessary" based on established protocol to send agents with long guns and ballistic shields to the home where Houck's wife and children were at the time of the approach.

Garland again stated the decision was made by FBI agents on the ground. When Hawley asked if he was "abdicating responsibility," Garland said no.

"Then give me the answer. Do you think, in your opinion, you are the attorney general of the United States. You are in charge of the Justice Department and yes, sir, you are responsible. So give me an answer."

The two went back and forth for over a minute. Hawley repeatedly pushed for an answer from Garland on whether he thought the FBI raid was "reasonable," but Garland punted the question and merely suggested the facts were not as Hawley described.

"What that the children weren't there? That there weren't long guns there? That there weren't agents? What do you dispute? What's the factual premise that you dispute?" Hawley said, clearly flustered.

Garland finally stated that the FBI disputed Hawley's description of how many agents were at the scene and what their roles were.


Pro-life activist Mark Houck speaks out after jury acquits him in Planned Parenthood incident on "Hannity."

Pro-life activist Mark Houck speaks out after jury acquits him in Planned Parenthood incident on "Hannity." (Fox News)

"You used an unbelievable show of force with guns that I just note liberals usually decry. We're supposed to hate long guns and assault-style weapons. You're happy to deploy them against Catholics and innocent children. Happy to," Hawley later said. "And then you haul them into court and a jury acquits him in one hour. I suggest to you that is a disgraceful performance by your Justice Department and a disgraceful use of resources."

Hawley then said he "noticed a pattern" and referenced a Jan. 23 memorandum from the FBI field office in Richmond, Virginia, that advocated for "the exploration of new avenues for tripwire and source development against traditionalist Catholics."

"Attorney General, are you cultivating sources and spies in Latin mass parishes and other Catholic parishes across the country?" Hawley asked.

"The Justice Department does not do that and does not do investigations based on religion. I saw the document you sent. It's appalling. It's appalling. I'm in complete agreement with you. I understand that the FBI has withdrawn it and is looking into how this could ever have happened," Garland replied.

Garland also called the document "inappropriate" and noted it did not reflect the methods the FBI is supposed to use. He added that agents should not be relying on any single organization without doing its own work.

When asked how many informants the FBI has in Catholic churches across America, Garland said, "I don't know, and I don't believe we have any informants aimed at Catholic churches. We have a rule against investigations based on First Amendment activity."

Later he said, "I don't know specifically" how many sources are embedded in Catholic churches.


Nicholas Lanum is an associate editor for Fox News Digital.


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