Sunday, April 14, 2024

Israeli coalition unified in call for retaliation against Iran - Amelie Botbol, Akiva Van Koningsveld


​ by Amelie Botbol, Akiva Van Koningsveld

"It is time to go on the attack, with coolness and discretion," stated Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kisch.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud Party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Jan. 9, 2023. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Likud Party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Jan. 9, 2023. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.

Jerusalem has “no other option but to retaliate” after the Islamic Republic of Iran dispatched hundreds of missiles and suicide drones towards Israel, Likud lawmaker Danny Danon told JNS on Sunday.

“I think we experienced an unprecedented attack by Iran against Israel,” said Danon, who also served as the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. between 2015 and 2020. “Not retaliating would be irresponsible.”

Israel’s War Cabinet is set to convene on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. local time to discuss the country’s response to Saturday night’s Iranian attack, which saw over 300 drones and missiles launched at the Jewish state.

“In the next few hours, the decision will be made on where, when and how we respond,” Danon told JNS early Sunday afternoon.

Danon’s call to restore deterrence vis-a-vis Iran was echoed by other members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party.

Lawmaker Boaz Bismuth, a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that Iran’s attack proved that Israel was not isolated and made stark the contrast between good and evil.

“In the last few months, we heard repeatedly that Israel is isolated, that its western allies were turning their backs on us and that Sunni Arab countries were doing the same,” he told JNS.

“Yet, last night, which was difficult, was in fact an opportunity to reinforce [relations] as it became obvious who is good and who is evil. Last night, it became clear that Israel is on the side of the good,” explained Bismuth.

The lawmaker emphasized that deterrence was “key” in the Middle East, noting that “the Houthis won’t be replaced by Austrians, Hezbollah will never be Switzerland or Hamas [anything like] France.

“Today the world, and more importantly the enemy, saw that Israel has amazing capacities. Iran understands that those who have such amazing defensive systems have even better means of attack,” he concluded.

Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kisch, also a member of the Likud Party, noted in a statement cited by Hebrew media that “it is time to go on the attack, with coolness and discretion.

“The actions of the Air Force, the air defenses, the cooperation with the U.S. and regional actors resulted in an impressive containment of the Iranian attack,” added Kisch.

Discussions over an appropriate response come against the backdrop of American pressure to not retaliate amid fears of a regional war.

U.S. President Joe Biden reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Saturday that his administration will not support offensive action against the regime in Tehran.

According to a The New York Times report that cited two officials in Jerusalem, the Israeli government abandoned the option of a retaliatory strike on Iranian territory following the conversation between the two leaders, in part because the attack “caused relatively minor damage.”

A 7-year-old Israeli Bedouin girl injured in the attacks underwent surgery Sunday for a serious head wound and remains in critical condition.

Amelie Botbol, Akiva Van Koningsveld


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Biden said to tell Netanyahu US won’t support Israeli response to Iran attack - JNS


​ by JNS

The U.S. president will convene G7 leaders to coordinate a "united diplomatic response" to the Iranian assault.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden about the Iranian attack on April 14, 2024. Credit: Prime Minister’s Spokesperson.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden about the Iranian attack on April 14, 2024. Credit: Prime Minister’s Spokesperson.

U.S. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call on Saturday that Washington will not support an Israeli retaliatory attack for Iran’s drone and missile assault on the Jewish state, Axios reported, citing a senior White House official.

Iran fired more than 300 missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles from its territory toward Israel on Saturday night, in what Tehran says was retaliation for the April 1 killing of several IRGC officers in Syria by Israel.

The United States and other countries helped Israel shoot down the projectiles, which amounted to a 99% success rate, according to the IDF. American military forces intercepted over 100 airborne threats.

“You got a win. Take the win,” Biden told Netanyahu, according to the official, amid fears of a regional war should Jerusalem respond.

Netanyahu reportedly said he understood when Biden told him that the United States will not participate in offensive military operations against Tehran.

In a White House statement, Biden condemned the Iranian assault, which marked the first direct attack on Israel from Iranian territory.

“At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week. Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” said Biden.

“I’ve just spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu to reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel. I told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks—sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel.

“Tomorrow, I will convene my fellow G7 leaders to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack. My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel’s leaders.  And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people.”

Iran is threatening a larger attack if Israel responds militarily, while also warning the United States against further involvement.

“We used an attack with ballistic and cruise missiles. The operation was designed to attack the air base from which the Israeli planes that attacked the consulate [in Damascus] were launched. There were direct hits in the attack. We only targeted military bases,” said Mohammad Bakri, chief of staff of the Iranian Army.

“We sent a message to the U.S. that if it cooperates with Israel in the next steps, its bases will not be safe,” he added.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations said that the attack was in response to the targeting of the consulate in Damascus, even though Israel has not taken responsibility for the attack and reports suggest that the building hit was a local headquarters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the U.S. MUST STAY AWAY!” Iran warned.



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A resounding strategic failure for Iran - Yaakov Lappin


​ by Yaakov Lappin

Israel and its partners successfully conducted a complex defensive air battle, leaving Iran in major distress


Iran says its air-launched Asef cruise missiles, unveiled in February 2023, can hit targets at a range of 1,025 miles. Source: Twitter.
Iran says its air-launched Asef cruise missiles, unveiled in February 2023, can hit targets at a range of 1,025 miles. Source: Twitter.

Iran and its jihadist Middle Eastern axis sustained a resounding strategic defeat in recent hours. 

The combined Iranian attack on Israel in the early hours of April 14, comprising 170 UAVs, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles—more than 300 aerial threats in total—was successfully intercepted by Israel and partner militaries. 

The fact that 99% of the threats were intercepted means that a central pillar of Iranian force projection—its missile and UAV arsenals—has been proven to be no match for Israel’s Air Force, its multi-layered air defense system, or for regional cooperation with allies.

For decades, Iranian military industries have been developing and producing missiles and UAV capabilities. These capabilities were used to arm Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Iran’s proxies. 

While Iran often activates its proxies to attack its enemies, it has, until now, kept its own powder dry, based on the idea that the firepower Iran amassed on its own soil would keep Israel, Sunni Arab countries, and the United States deterred, and would stop Israel from acting too fiercely to disrupt Iran’s hegemonic plans. 

Iran plans to surround Israel with a network of terror armies, break through to nuclear weapons and use the combination of its proxies, conventional weaponsand nuclear umbrella to cause Israel to collapse by 2040—according to the clerical regime’s own statements and officials. As such, its decision to directly attack Israel on Sunday represents a major departure from this long-term strategy.

After the April 1 strike on Damascus that killed the IRGC Quds Force commander for Syria and Iraq, Mohammad Reza Zahedi, his deputy and and five other IRGC officers, Iran decided that the time was ripe to  break with its pattern of using proxies to weaken Israel and keep it bogged down in conflict, and to directly “teach Israel a lesson.”

But it is Iran that has now learned that Israel’s multi-layered shield, fighter jets and partners can collectively neutralize its flagship conventional weapons program. 

Israel’s multi-layered air defense system relies on the Arrow 3, which intercepts ballistic missiles in space, Arrow 2, which operates in the upper atmosphere against ballistic missiles, David’s Sling intermediate-range system, which intercepts heavy rockets and short-range ballistic missiles (of the type Iran and Syria have supplied to Hezbollah) as well as cruise missiles and drones, and Iron Dome, which shoots down rockets, cruise missiles and drones. 

Israel is expecting its Iron Beam laser interception system, which can shoot down rockets, mortars and UAVs, to become operational in the near future, and is developing an interceptor (Sky Sonic) for Iran’s future hypersonic missile (Fattah), which is in development. 

 The Israeli Navy is also equipped with the advanced Barak 8 surface to air protection system, which can be activated from the sea. 

 Iran must now await Israel’s retaliation, and unlike Israel, Iranian air defenses are by comparison limited in scope. 

After its own failure on Sunday, Iran now relies almost exclusively on Hezbollah for an ability to threaten Israel.

According to the IDF’s data, around 170 Iranian UAVs—a massive swarm—failed completely to cross into Israeli air space. Dozens were intercepted by IAF jets, Israel’s ground-based interceptors, and partner aircraft and air defense systems. 

According to international media reports, American and British jets took part in interceptions, along with the Jordanian and Saudi air defense systems. 

In addition, of the more than 30 cruise missiles Iran launched on Sunday, none crossed into Israeli territory. 

Twenty five of them were intercepted by IAF fighter jets outside the country’s borders, the IDF said. Out of over 120 ballistic missiles, only a few crossed into Israeli territory, with the rest being intercepted. The ones that impacted targeted the Nevatim F-35 Air Force Base in southern Israel, causing only minor damage to infrastructure. The base remains operational. 

“Iran hoped to incapacitate the base and thus impair our aerial capabilities, but it failed. IAF aircraft continue to take off and land from the base and depart for offensive and defensive missions. This includes the ‘Adir’ [F-35] fighter jets, which are now returning to the base from an aerial defense mission, and you will soon see them landing,” IDF Spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, stated on Sunday morning.

In addition to the launches from Iran, several launches occurred from Iraq and Yemen on Sunday—but none of them crossed into Israeli territory, Hagari said.

A seven-year-old Bedouin-Israeli girl was severely injured by shrapnel in the Negev and is being treated in hospital. 

Hezbollah, for its part, remained in its usual low to medium-intensity wartime mode, firing dozens of rockets from Lebanon in recent hours, and absorbing strikes by IAF jets. 

The IAF’s  Aerial Defense Array as well as aircraft pilots have been preparing for this moment for years. 

Iran fired extremely dangerous threats at Israel on Sunday. Its ballistic missile attacks likely included projectiles with 250 kilogram or 500 kilogram warheads, each one of which can destroy multiple buildings on impact. 

The IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, directed the defensive air battle together with IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar and other senior commanders from the Israeli Air Force’s Operations Center at the Kirya at IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv. 

Just as Iran dropped its mask and revealed its fanatical intentions on Sunday, so too did Arab states in the region who are badly threatened by Iran reveal their intentions to push back against Iran, according to international media reports. 

If Saudi Arabia took part in interception activities, this would not be the first time. 

In November 2023, Saudi Arabia reportedly intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen, by Iran-backed Houthis, at Israel. 

Several factors enable this cooperation. The existing framework of U.S.-Israeli missile defense collaboration, built over three decades, Israel’s entry in 2021 to the U.S. Military’s Central Command (CENTCOM, which is responsible for the Middle East) area of operations, and sales of American Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to Saudi Arabia all make such cooperation possible.

“Over the past six months, we have been operating in close coordination with our partners, led by U.S. CENTCOM, the U.K., France, and other countries that operated last night. This partnership has always been robust, but last night it was exceptionally evident,” said Hagari on Sunday. 

In this context, it is important to note decades of joint Israeli-American research and development on all Israeli air defense systems (except Iron Dome), the integration of radars and interceptors across the Middle East and the building of an intricate web of information-sharing. 

On this network, American sensor data from various sources is fused and shared with Israel, and vice versa. 

This likely includes data from American satellite assets, and radars stationed in places like Turkey, Qatar and Israel, which can nourish Israeli interceptors, along with Israel’s own extensive radar and sensor network.

The network could well include Saudi and Jordanian sensors. Two U.S. Navy ships in the eastern Mediterranean shot down at least three ballistic missiles using the Aegis missile defense system, according to CNN, while U.S. fighter jets also shot down Iranian aerial threats. 

As such, a defense architecture that has been assembled for years by the United States, Israel and Arab states shined on Sunday. 

 Looking ahead, an Israeli response against Iran looks like a certainty. The fact that Iran launched its attacks from its own soil means that Israel will direct its response at targets on Iranian soil.

Israel has a range of options at its disposal. The Israeli War Cabinet will have to balance its response options against Iran with the need to move in on Hamas’s last bastion of Rafah in Gaza, and a potential escalation with Hezbollah in Lebanon. These factors will help shape the Cabinet’s dilemma: Choosing between limited retaliatory strikes, which themselves could attract further Iranian attacks, or broader operations that could even target Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel must pursue its core security interests based on the realization that international legitimacy is fickle, waxing and waning in the space of days and even hours. If Israel makes good on its duty to fight back against its enemies, its allies will respect it more, despite public posturing.

Yaakov Lappin is an Israel-based military affairs correspondent and analyst. He is the in-house analyst at the Miryam Institute; a research associate at the Alma Research and Education Center; and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He is a frequent guest commentator on international television news networks, including Sky News and i24 News. Lappin is the author of Virtual Caliphate: Exposing the Islamist State on the Internet. Follow him at:


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The Destruction of Iran's Terrorist Hub in Damascus Was Entirely Justified - Con Coughlin


​ by Con Coughlin

[A]s recent events have indicated, Israel is not just fighting a war against the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists who committed the terrible atrocities on October 7. It is in an existential battle for survival against the Iranian regime and its many proxies


  • Iran's decision to rely on groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas to prosecute its war against Israel has resulted in the Israelis regularly having to retaliate with air strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria and Lebanon in an attempt to disrupt their terrorist infrastructure.

  • Since October 7, the consulate served as Tehran's main regional command centre, helping to supervise the activities of Iran's so-called "axis of resistance".

  • [A]s recent events have indicated, Israel is not just fighting a war against the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists who committed the terrible atrocities on October 7. It is in an existential battle for survival against the Iranian regime and its many proxies which, if left unchecked, will continue seeking to achieve their ultimate goal of destroying the Jewish state.

The bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria was not, as the Iranians claim, simply an attack on a blameless diplomatic mission. It was a carefully targeted strike on the headquarters of the expansive terrorist network that Tehran has established throughout the Middle East. Pictured: The Iranian Embassy compound in Damascus, Syria on April 1, 2024, following an airstrike that destroyed the consulate building. (Photo by Maher Al Mounes/AFP via Getty Images)

The bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria was not, as the Iranians claim, simply an attack on a blameless diplomatic mission.

It was a carefully targeted strike on the headquarters of the expansive terrorist network that Tehran has established throughout the Middle East.

The real purpose of the Iranian consulate building, an adjunct of the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, was revealed when the Iranians themselves admitted that two senior commanders of the elite Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in the air strike, which has widely been attributed to the Israeli air force.

The Quds Force, which has direct responsibility for overseeing Iran's global terrorist operations, reports directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and was established to fulfil the ayatollahs' ambition of exporting Iran's Islamic revolution throughout the Muslim world.

In particular, the Quds Force is the main conduit between the IRGC and the network of proxy terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, that Iran uses as frontline units in its constant campaign to attack Israel.

The fact, therefore, that two senior Quds Force commanders were killed in the April 1 strike on the Iranian consulate provides conclusive proof that, far from undertaking basic consulate duties such as issuing visas, the facility was being used as a command and control centre for Iran's terrorist activities throughout the region.

Among those who died in the attack was Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior Quds Force commander, who was responsible for coordinating Iran's support for its Hezbollah terrorist organisation in neighbouring Lebanon, as well as Tehran's extensive network of terror groups in Syria. His deputy, General Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, was also killed in the attack.

Hezbollah forces, which form part of Iran's so-called "axis of resistance" against Israel, have been regularly initiating attacks against northern Israel since Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists launched their deadly invasion of Israel on October 7. As a result, large areas of northern Israel have been left desolate as tens of thousands of Israelis have been forced to flee their homes.

Iran's decision to rely on groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas to prosecute its war against Israel has resulted in the Israelis regularly having to retaliate with air strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria and Lebanon in an attempt to disrupt their terrorist infrastructure.

In particular, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have targeted Quds Force commanders who play a key role in supporting Hezbollah's terrorist activities.

In December, Israeli warplanes were reported to have carried out the assassination of Razi Mousavi, the then head of Quds Force operations in Syria.

Mousavi's assassination was the highest-profile killing of a senior Quds Force commander since the Trump administration's liquidation of Qasem Soleimani, the charismatic head of the Quds Force who was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq in January 2020.

It was under Soleimani's supervision, moreover, that the Iranian consulate in Damascus developed into a key headquarters for Iran's terrorist network throughout the Middle East.

The consulate's role in supporting Tehran's terrorist activities dates back to the early 1980s, when Iran first established Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

According to Western intelligence sources, it was from this building that Iran oversaw the Lebanon hostage crisis in the mid-1980s, which resulted in scores of American, British and French hostages being taken captive by Islamist terrorists.

Imad Mughniyeh, the Lebanese terrorist mastermind behind a wave of deadly truck bombings including against the US Embassy and US Marines compound in Beirut in 1983, was assassinated by a team of Israeli Mossad agents in 2008 shortly after driving out of the compound where the consulate was located.

More recently, it was used as the nerve centre for Iran's efforts to keep the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power during Syria's brutal civil war.

Since October 7, the consulate served as Tehran's main regional command centre, helping to supervise the activities of Iran's so-called "axis of resistance".

Zahedi, who died in the April 1 attack on the consulate, had fulfilled the same liaison role previously undertaken by Mughniyeh in coordinating links between Iran and Hezbollah.

Given the consulate's long history of involvement in running Iran's terror network, Israel would be perfectly justified in seeking to attack it, especially given its role in supervising the constant barrages of missiles Hezbollah has been launching against northern Israel.

For, as recent events have indicated, Israel is not just fighting a war against the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists who committed the terrible atrocities on October 7. It is in an existential battle for survival against the Iranian regime and its many proxies which, if left unchecked, will continue seeking to achieve their ultimate goal of destroying the Jewish state.

Con Coughlin is the Telegraph's Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


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Several countries come to Israel’s aid to stop Iran barrage - Michael Lee


​ by Michael Lee

France, Jordan and the United Kingdom assisted in the defense of Israel

Israel fended off a furious attack on Saturday with the help of powerful allies in the region and around the world.

Multiple countries came together to help fend off over 300 drones and missiles launched at Israel from Iran, with the Israeli Defense Forces claiming that roughly 99% of the attack had been thwarted by their forces and allies.

"At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week.  Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles," President Biden said in a statement condemning the Iranian attack.

But the U.S. was not the only country to step up in the defense of Israel, with France, Jordan and the United Kingdom also playing roles in intercepting the attack.


Israeli tank inside Israel

An Israeli tank moves near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, on Thursday, April 11.  (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

Senior French officials told Fox News Sunday that several of the Iranian projectiles had been intercepted by French forces over Iraq and Jordan.

"France has ground-air defense elements in the region to protect its forces. They were used to neutralize what flew over our rights," confirmed a source familiar with the matter.

The U.K.’s Royal Air Force also participated in the defense, according to a Times of Israel report, with RAF fighters intercepting an unknown number of drones in the region bound for Israel and vowing that its jets in the Middle East "will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required."

Iran Hamas IDF

Thick smoke billows from an explosion on the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Sderot.  (Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, a Jordanian security source confirmed to Reuters that its forces intercepted and shot down dozens of Iranian drones that had violated the country’s airspace en route to Israel. The country also indicated that it was stepping up reconnaissance flights in the area and had briefly closed its airspace Saturday as a precautionary measure.


"The relevant authorities took the decision to close the airspace for precautionary reasons as a result of the surrounding security situation," Jordan's government spokesperson Muhannad Mubaideen told Reuters.

Israel itself has sophisticated air defenses it used to fend off the Iranian attack, including the country’s famed Iron Dome and David’s Sling.

Benjamin Netanyahu

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes the weekly cabinet meeting at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 7, 2024. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool/File Photo (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool/File Photo)

"Israel has a multilayered air defense system consisting of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow as well as other undisclosed assets. It will likely also get ballistic missile support defense from the United States, as the two militaries have been training on for years," said Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, according to a Times of Israel report.

The Arrow Missile Defense System, which is made up of Arrow 2 and Arrow 3, is capable of intercepting missiles fired from close to 1,500 miles away, including above earth’s atmosphere, while David’s Sling is designed to intercept planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles and medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles fired from ranges of 25 to 190 miles.


Iran U.S. Military

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Gen. Michael Kurilla met with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant amid rising tensions with Tehran. (Ariel Hermoni/IMoD)

Before Saturday’s attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country’s forces had for weeks "been preparing for the possibility of a direct attack from Iran."

"Air defenses are deployed, we are ready for any scenario, both in attack and in defense," the Prime Minister said.

On Sunday, the Israeli military carried out a series of airstrikes on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in response to the attacks, though it remained unclear what kind of response the country might launch against Iran directly.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has reportedly advised Israel against a strike against Iran while affirming U.S. support for the longtime ally.

"Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attack, sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel," Biden said after the attack.

Michael Lee


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US representatives weigh in on Iran attack - Mike Wagenheim


​ by Mike Wagenheim

Leadership and rank-and-file on both sides of the aisle call for American support for and aid to Israel.


U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on March 7, 2024. Credit: Oliver Contreras/White House.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on March 7, 2024. Credit: Oliver Contreras/White House.

Many members of the House of Representatives took to social media on Saturday to express their support for Israel following Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack on the Jewish state.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is coming under renewed pressure to bring to a vote a bill to provide Israel with supplemental aid, said, “As Israel faces this vicious attack from Iran, America must show our full resolve to stand with our critical ally. The world must be assured: Israel is not alone.” 

Johnson went on to state that he would “continue to engage with the White House to insist upon a proper response. The Biden Administration’s undermining of Israel and appeasement of Iran have contributed to these terrible developments.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise announced that the chamber will take up Israel- and Iran-related legislation this week, though he demurred when asked if that would include an Israel-only aid bill or a broader Ukraine/Israel/Taiwan foreign aid package, such as the one the Senate passed in February.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries issued a statement that “Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States, has launched an unprecedented attack against our democratic ally, Israel.”

Vowing that “Iran will not succeed,” Jeffries wrote that, “We stand with the people of Israel during this moment of significant challenge.”

Rep. Ken Calvert, the California Republican who chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said that Congress needs to provide new Israel aid without delay.

“The U.S. Congress must immediately pass a supplemental to provide additional supplies, including counter-UAS (unmanned aircraft system) capability for both Israel and our military in the region, and send an unmistakable signal to Iran that we stand fully by our ally,” he said.

Rep. Mike Lawler, a first-term New York Republican and House Foreign Affairs Committee member, called on Speaker Johnson to “must bring forward a supplemental package of aid for Israel in order to support them in their time of need.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an MSNBC interview that he is in touch with HFAC Chair Mike McCaul of Texas in an effort to push an aid package through. 

“We talked about, last week, how extremely important passing a supplemental was for Ukraine and Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian aid,” said Meeks of his talks with McCaul, his Republican counterpart. “This escalates that need,” he said of Iran’s attack.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the New York Democrat considered the dean of the congressional Jewish caucus, said he “vehemently” condemned the attack by Iran and its proxies and added, “I stand fully behind the Israeli people.”

Nadler, who has become increasingly critical of Israel’s handling of its war with Hamas and was booed last week at a rally for the hostages in Gaza for saying Israel needed to deliver more humanitarian aid, said on Saturday that he shared U.S. President Joe Biden’s “commitment to the safety and security of the Israeli people.”

Other Jewish members of Congress also chimed in.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who served as House Majority Leader under Nancy Pelosi, said on Saturday that, “It is absolutely imperative that when the House returns on Monday, we pass the national security supplemental immediately to provide Israel and Ukraine with essential aid to defend itself and deter further attacks from Iran and Russia.” 

Hoyer added that “our allies cannot afford to wait any longer, and neither should we. The Speaker has a responsibility to put the supplemental sent to us by the Senate on the Floor as soon as we return on Monday.”

Staunch pro-Israel Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman of California tweeted that “Congress should immediately pass the Supplemental Appropriations bill which contains $14 billion to defend Israel.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, a Florida Democrat, said Biden has “shown his ironclad support for Israel and committed to defend its people from Iranian attacks. I stand with Israel and thank our Commander-In-Chief for backing up words with action to counter malign threats in the Middle East.”

Rep. David Kustoff, a Tennessee Republican, wrote, “The Biden Administration must send a clear signal that this attack from Iran and any of its proxies will not stand. Israel has the fundamental right to defend herself and her people, and our support for the only Jewish state remains steadfast and ironclad.”

And Michigan Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens said, “President Biden has made clear our steadfast commitment to stand by the Israeli people in their hour of need. I am monitoring the situation closely and praying for all those in the region.”

New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith, the co-chair of the Israel Allies Caucus, wrote in a statement that “the United States must make absolutely clear in both word and deed, not just today, but every day going forward—no more equivocation—that we unequivocally stand with the Jewish state.”

Smith insisted that “both defensive weapons systems like Iron Dome, Arrow and David’s Sling and all necessary offensive military capability must be made available to Israel for as long as it takes to defeat Iran, Hamas and radical Islamists’ aggression.”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who days ago ripped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel’s war against Hamas, wrote on Saturday that “America’s support for Israel’s security is resolute as we condemn Iran’s horrible attacks. Our commitment to the Israeli people and support of their defense remains unwavering—and we must pass the Senate’s national security supplemental.”

Congressman Brad Finstad, a Minnesota Republican, pinned the blame for Iran’s aggression on the White House, writing that the attack “is a direct result of this Administration’s weak leadership on the global stage. We must continue to stand strong with our ally Israel and support their right to defend themselves.”

Virginia Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a House Foreign Affairs Committee member and former CIA agent, urged Johnson to bring the Senate’s foreign aid bill to the House floor. 

“As instability increases throughout the world, we must send this bill to the president’s desk to support our allies and civilians,” she wrote.

California Democratic Rep. Norma Torres urged Johnson to expedite the bill, as well, writing “we cannot continue to delay assistance for Israel. Iran is treading on dangerous ground.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, wrote bluntly that “Iran is a terrorist nation,” adding that “The free world and the United States will stand against this terrorist nation and the tyranny that it promotes.

Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican and retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general, wrote, “In 2009-2011, the team I worked with helped Israel stand up missile and air defense focused on Iran. I’m proud of our work. I pray for the safety of our allies and mission success!”

Congressman Greg Landsman, an Ohio Democrat, tweeted that “Iran will continue to cause chaos until the world puts an end to its terror. Iran is Hamas. Hamas is Iran.” 

Landsman added that “the same is true of Hezbollah and other terror groups in the Middle East….There will be peace when this chaos and terror end.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican, urged Biden to give Israel a “green light to do whatever is necessary to protect their people, their homeland and their very existence.” 

Duncan encouraged his Israeli friends to be strong and courageous, using the Hebrew term, “Chazak v’amatz,” in a tweet.

New York Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres, an ardent Israel backer, noted one of the key storylines of the night.

“Israel protected Al-Aqsa Mosque from destruction at the hands of Iran,” Torres wrote. “Are the anti-Israel haters going to thank Israel for protecting one of the holiest sites in Islam? No. Are the Anti-Israel haters going to condemn Iran for endangering one of the holiest sites in Islam? No. Selective outrage is their modus operandi.”

None of the members of The Squad—the band of hard-left Democrats who routinely criticize and demonize Israel—commented Saturday on the Iranian attack or what they feel would be the appropriate policy response.

Most also voted against funding the strictly-defensive Iron Dome missile defense system, which is estimated to have saved thousands of Israeli lives on Saturday.

Mike Wagenheim


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The Battle Begins: Trump’s Trial Tests American Justice - Roger Kimball


​ by Roger Kimball

By going after Donald Trump and putting him outside the protection of the law in order to neutralize him politically, the regime is simultaneously undermining your rights and legal protections.


Monday, April 15, 2024, is not only Tax Day in the United States.  It is also the day that this country will take another fateful step towards banana republic-like tyranny.  For it is the day that New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg—or, to give him his full title, “Soros-funded District Attorney Alvin Bragg”—will begin his 34-count felony trial against Donald Trump.

Exactly what is the presumptive Republican nominee for president charged with by the Biden Department of Justice?  Paying Stormy Daniels—or to give her the invariable epithet, “porn star Stormy Daniels” (think “swift-footed Achilles,” “gray-eyed Athena”)—to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter in 2006 (which Trump has consistently denied).

But is paying someone to sign a non-disclosure agreement a crime?  No.  Then what’s going on here?  As always seems to be the case when the subject is the Byzantine world of Donald Trump’s legal woes, it’s complicated.  One of the best brief summaries I have seen was in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal this weekend. “The facts,” the Journal writers explain, “are these”:

Ms. Daniels has said that in 2006 she and Mr. Trump had one, er, intimate encounter. A decade later, as the 2016 election neared, Mr. Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen paid Ms. Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet. A nondisclosure agreement isn’t illegal. Mr. Bragg’s complaint is about the paperwork. Mr. Cohen was reimbursed through 2017 via a monthly retainer “disguised as a payment for legal services,” the DA said. He padded his indictment by separately charging each invoice, check and ledger entry to get 34 counts.

Falsifying business records in New York can be a misdemeanor, but the statute of limitations on that has expired. Mr. Bragg therefore must charge felonies, which under New York law means showing that Mr. Trump cooked the books with “intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.”

Even that requires special dispensation. The 2017 payments are outside the five-year felony window, but state judge Juan Merchan ruled that Mr. Bragg enjoys an extra year of leeway after emergency COVID-19 executive orders stopped the clock on legal cases.

Oh dear.  In a non-Banana Republic, the law works by uncovering a crime and then prosecuting those guilty of the crime.  In a certified Banana Republic, the regime finds someone it dislikes and then calls out the legal bloodhounds to discover or, if need be, to manufacture a crime as a pretext to take out the undesirable person.  The latter is what is happening here, which is why the WSJ began its editorial by saying that “it’s a trial that shouldn’t happen in a case Mr. Bragg shouldn’t have brought.”

It is worth noting that this is not a partisan issue. It is an issue of fundamental fairness and the impartial application of the law. National Review’s Andrew McCarthy is a staunch critic of Donald Trump.  But he is under no illusions about what Alvin Bragg is attempting to do in his prosecution of Trump. “He turns an uncharged misdemeanor into 34 felonies,”  McCarthy said recently, “while when dealing with violent crime in Manhattan, he turns felonies into misdemeanors.” Similarly, The Wall Street Journal is not an enthusiastic supporter of Donald Trump.  But it is an enthusiastic supporter of the rule of law, which is why it is officially appalled by what is happening in what can only be called a show trial. “Now the country is on the brink of an extraordinary moment, as Mr. Bragg uses a weak and untested legal premise to put the other party’s presidential nominee on trial during the 2024 campaign.”

Those are my italics, but Biden DOJ’s malfeasance.  And don’t get me started on Judge Merchan.

You will note that I used the term “show trial” above.  Was that just hyperbolic rhetoric?  After all, a “show trial” was the sort of thing you had in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union under Stalin.  “Show me the man, and I will find you the crime,” said Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s brutal head of the NKVD. That could never happen in the United States, right?  Merrick Garland, unlike Beria, is not organizing large-scale genocidal massacres. But I think the commentator Mark Levin is correct when he describes Trump’s trial as “one of the most horrendous events in American legal history: a Stalinist-like trial… that should never have seen the light of day.”

Levin is simply stating the facts when he observes that Donald Trump is “the most persecuted man in America — legally and politically.”

This has happened—it continues to happen—because Trump is an existential threat to the establishment. He was not supposed to be elected in 2016. None of the Guardians of the Regime believed it was possible that he would win.  The fix was in.  The passes were guarded. The media primed.  But despite everything Trump somehow did win. And then the new narrative emerged.  Trump’s very victory was his crime.  Being elected was his assault on “Our Democracy™.” The stain had to be removed. The insult redressed. Thus the Russia Collusion fabrication. Thus the groundless impeachments. Now the legal harassment and efforts to bankrupt and imprison the person who in effect is the leader of the opposition party. Levin offers an incomplete but sobering inventory of how the deep state conducted its vendetta against the man they could not abide:

unconstitutional impeachments, relentless Democrat Party-media attacks, attempts to bankrupt him and destroy his businesses with a preposterous statute, the criminalization of the law by Democrat prosecutors in four cases brought in four different jurisdictions and totaling 91 cooked up charges, the use of a criminal warrant and an FBI SWAT team to search his home, the denial of 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th amendment rights denying him free speech, due process, equal protection, attorney-client privilege, competent representation, imposing hugely excessive fines and denying him a jury trial, judges cutting corners and rushing cases before the election, judges with obvious conflicts of interest overseeing cases and the effective suspension of judicial rules of professional conduct, the leaking of his tax returns, multiple efforts to remove him from state presidential ballots, denying him presidential immunity post-presidency, denying him executive privilege protection, the use of grand juries in overwhelmingly hostile cities, bar and criminal attacks on his lawyers, etc.

Bottom line: Trump represents an intolerable affront to the establishment.  They hate him.

But they also hate you.  Trump famously remarked that “In reality they’re not after me, they’re after you. I’m just in the way.” Levin expands on this observation.  “Trump must be destroyed,” he writes, “because you must be dispirited and acquiesce to one-party rule and the growing police state power of a centralized DC ruling class. By terrorizing Trump they hope to terrorize you.”

That is the thing to keep in mind.  By going after Donald Trump and putting him outside the protection of the law in order to neutralize him politically, the regime is simultaneously undermining your rights and legal protections.  That is the deeper, auxiliary, reason that Monday’s trial marks such a gloomy turning point in the devolution of the American republic into socialist tyranny.

Roger Kimball


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Autophagia at Berkeley - Clarice Feldman


​ by Clarice Feldman

When you sup with the Devil, you must bring a long spoon.


Berkeley law dean Erwin Chemerinsky has never been a favorite of mine, but I love irony, and this week he’s my avatar of people whose actions have come back to bite them. He has publicly bragged, for example, how much easier it is to avoid anti-discrimination laws in his faculty hires than it is in student admission, tacitly admitting that is what he has done and what he encourages others to do. But that seems to be of no avail to him now that he’s become a target for the Left and Jihadists acting in coalition.

One of his recent hires is Chesa Boudin, son of two terrorists Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert.  Chesa, in case you forgot, is the former San Francisco district attorney whose soft on crime policies were so extreme that San Franciscans voted to recall him, a highly unusual occurrence. (Chesa attributed this to the city’s “hard turn to the right.”) Chesa was hired to head the law school’s Criminal & Justice Center.  To Chemerinsky, “Chesa has substantial experience across the criminal justice system. He has thought deeply about the system and I cannot think of anyone better to create and direct this important center.”

I mean who better than a district attorney too far left and tolerant of criminals for even San Francisco to teach criminal justice?

This week, Chemerinsky and wife, Berkeley law professor Catherine Fisk, got an uncomfortable lesson in the perils of ceding space and voice to ill-educated, boorish, students.

They host dinners for new graduates in their backyard and at one, law student Malak Afaneh arrived wrapped in a keffiyeh with her own microphone and PA equipment. (Iowahawk posts, “Who doesn’t love it when somebody shows up at your party and turns it into Hamas Karaoke Night” and not since Radical Chic has there been a clueless progressive idiot house party this flat-out hilarious.)

She proceeded to denounce the school’s investments in Boeing, Lockheed Martin and BlackRock, saying the school was complacent in genocide.  When asked to leave by the hosts, she refused. Professor Fisk attempted to wrestle the microphone from Afaneh’s hand and the hosts asked the police to remove her for trespassing on private grounds. Chemerinsky, who is referred to often as an expert on the First Amendment, quite correctly asserts that the right to free speech doesn’t mean you can come into anyone’s backyard to make speeches. Afaneh’s response: “We have attorneys…. This is our First Amendment right. The National Lawyers Guild have informed us….” It’s an odd juxtaposition, a student attacking a dean who hired Chesa Boudin, claiming support for her conduct by the NLG, which features Chesa and his terrorist parents on their own webpage.  

Afaneh claims she was humiliated and traumatized by being asked to leave. 

Chemerinsky plans more dinners

The student organization announced on April 1 that it would boycott Chemerinsky’s annual dinners, planned for three days this week. Caricatures of him holding a bloody knife and fork with the caption “No dinner with Zionist Chem while Gaza Starves!” were circulated on bulletin boards and social media and posted around campus and at the law school. The group said the professor is an outspoken critic of pro-Palestinian organizers on campus.

In a statement on the Berkeley Law website Wednesday, Chemerinsky said the organizers informed him through student government leaders that if he didn’t cancel the dinners, they would attend in protest. He said he went forward with the dinners in hopes that the protests would be peaceful. He said he believed he was being targeted for being Jewish.


In his statement, Chemerinsky said he has spent his career defending freedom of speech, but the students’ actions were disruptive and rude at his private home. He said he was offended by posters of the event showing him holding a bloody knife and fork, invoking antisemitic tropes of “blood libel.” 

One version of the flyer, circulating on social media, shows a drawn caricature of Chemerinsky holding a knife and fork with crumbs on his face.

“Although many complained to me about the posters and how they deeply offended them, I felt that though deeply offensive, they were speech protected by the First Amendment. But I was upset that those in our community had to see this disturbing, antisemitic poster around the law school,” Chemerinsky wrote in a statement.

Chemerinsky said he would continue his dinners on Wednesday and Thursday and that security would be present. He said any students who disrupt the gatherings “will be reported to student conduct and a violation of the student conduct code is reported to the Bar.” 

Barkan said Chemerinsky voiced the same consequences to the protest group as they left his home on Tuesday, but there’s no indication that he’s moved forward with the disciplinary reports.

The NLG condemned the dean: "University professors should NEVER put their hands on students." They claim that when Fisk tried to remove the disruptive student, which she is entitled by law to do, she committed an assault. 

Shabana Mir, a professor at something called the American Islamic College, paints Afaneh as a poor mistreated heroine in a stream of highly hyperbolic X posts, of which these are a sample:

“I am a mother as well as a professor. It is heartbreaking how Malak is ready for this professor's aggressive manhandling, her gritted teeth fury. Do you see what this shows? It shows that this is familiar to Malak. She is unsurprised. She has no expectation of safety.”

“Malak's participation on this famously liberal campus, Berkeley, is always contingent. She must fight, every step of the way, for her right to be as herself, and to remember her people. Powerful campus forces demand that she strip herself down to a new person, but she persists.

“They know you. They know white supremacy and imperialism through intimate encounters. They know what to expect. They're not allowed childhood or youth. This is their path. You torment them, our precious children, the fruit of our labors and dreams. May you be cursed you for it.

CAIR has, naturally, joined in with the NLG. Something called the San Francisco Bay office of CAIR condemned the “assault”on Afaneh by Professor Fisk. Not to be left out of the brawl, an outfit called the People’s City Council-Los Angeles joined the fray and the Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine adopted their strategic advice:

“...students should ‘put some skin in the game and put on a birdog/heckling exhibit everywhere Chemerinsky goes until he resigns.”

In sum, there are too many Islamists and leftists working together to remove the dean and his wife to expect this contretemps in a backyard will quickly vanish, with Chemerinsky and Fisk victorious.

Will the faculty he hired when ignoring anti-discrimination laws have the dean’s back as these forces grow? My read of college faculties and leftists generally says they won’t.

Clarice Feldman


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Hezb’allah tries to explain away the wipeout of Iran’s attack on Israel - Thomas Lifson


​ by Thomas Lifson

When an enemy unintentionally telegraphs its own vulnerabilities, believe them and act accordingly.


The stunning defeat of Iran’s first direct attack on Israel from its own territory must be a major humiliation for the mullahs’ regime, and as well for its proxies like the Houthis, Hamas, and Hezb’allah. These terror entities depend on their ability to instill fear, so the failure of the puppet masters in Tehran to achieve any significant damage to The Little Satan, Israel, damages their principal survival mechanism. As Osama bin Laden put it, people are attracted to the strong horse.

The X account “Open Source Intel” features a translation of the rationalization of the defeat published by what it calls a popular Lebanese Hezb’allah channel. While there is no reason to grant credibility to anything Hezb’allah allies write or say, it is still valuable to see what they tell their own supporters as a way of understanding their vulnerabilities and their plans.


 Hezb'allah flag (fair use via Wikipedia)

The stunning unity of the response to Iran’s attack, with U.S., British, and even Jordanian aircraft shooting down the mass attack of drones is being viewed through the other end of the telescope here. Hezb’allah is pointing Israel haters, especially those in the U.S., toward even stronger attempts to undermine political support for Israel.

This helpfully clarifies the nature of these groups as supporters of the mullahs of Iran, the regime that held U.S. embassy personnel hostage, that continues developing atomic bombs and explicitly desires Armageddon as a way of – in their view – summoning the Mahdi and ending humanity.  That is welcome clarity on what these “pro-Palestinian” demonstrators are actually trying to accomplish.

This screed helpfully also clarifies he importance of financial strength of the mullahs, a product of President Biden’s abandonment of the sanctions President Trump placed on Iran, which had left them broke. When an enemy unintentionally telegraphs its own vulnerabilities, believe them and act accordingly.

I am certain there are more nuggets to be mined from this statement, but as we await more information and action, take these lessons seriously.


Thomas Lifson


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Saturday, April 13, 2024

PhD in Holocaust denial: Abbas' doctoral dissertation revealed in full - Ariel Bulshtein


​ by Ariel Bulshtein

For years, there have been rumors circulating about the research work authored by Abu Mazen in Moscow and his recruitment by the KGB • Now, the entirety of his work, with its outright antisemitic lies, has been exposed.


PhD in Holocaust denial: Abbas' doctoral dissertation revealed in full

Mahmoud Abbas' PhD dissertation | Photo: Courtesy of MEMRI

If Abu Mazen, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority since 2005 – or the President of Palestine, as his friends in various capitals call him – only knew about the bombshell buried in an abstract  Jerusalem office, just a few kilometers from his Muqata compound in Ramallah.  

We shouldn't have any illusions about Abu Mazen. His proven track record includes many years of terrorist activity, direct incitement to murder Jews, and generous funding of murderous terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons, as well as their families. But the world doesn't really take issue with all that. If even the crimes of an arch-terrorist like Yasser Arafat were forgotten and swapped for an especially embarrassing Nobel Peace Prize – what's to be surprised about whitewashing his deputy, who was always the second fiddle?

"Due to his gray personality and lack of popularity, Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, by his familiar moniker in the Middle East – did indeed lag behind, but with one exception, in which he deserves the title of champion," Yigal Carmon, the founder, and president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), who previously served as a counter-terrorism advisor to Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin, says as he lays a plainly bound book on the table before me. "Champions usually take pride in the records they set. Not so Abu Mazen – he actually did everything to conceal his record. Let's help him and present this record in full for the first time, albeit belatedly, after 40 years."

Carmon is right: People tend to publicize their deeds, all the more so when it comes to writing an academic paper to obtain an advanced degree. Abu Mazen's name does appear in Russian on the cover of his doctoral dissertation lying before me, but just above it is written "For Organizational Use Only" – a Soviet code for classified material forbidden from being taken out of a narrow circle of confidants. The Soviet patrons knew full well why they were consigning the "scientific achievement" of the freshly minted Dr. Abu Mazen to eternal safekeeping in a closed, KGB-monitored library. The author himself probably knew too...

The agent

"The close connection between the communist USSR and the Palestinian terror movements began immediately after the Six-Day War, starting with Arafat's secret visit to Moscow in July 1968. It was already clear that within a few months, he would become the head of the PLO, and that the PLO would become an umbrella organization for all the terrorist groups," recounts Professor Michael Laskier , a Middle East expert on the Arab world and its relations with the superpowers.

"The Soviet leadership was persuaded by the efforts of Egypt's ruler Nasser to begin providing aid to the PLO and its member organizations, mainly Fatah. At first, it was light weapons, and later the aid grew to heavier weapons and issues beyond weaponry. Previously, the PLO had mainly enjoyed the support of China, but under Arafat's leadership it became the primary client of the USSR."

He notes that the Palestinian organizations did not appear revolutionary enough in the eyes of the Soviets. Arafat and his bloodshed comrades lacked a communist ideology. 

Nevertheless, Leonid  Brezhnev and the other Soviet leaders concluded that they could be turned into tools to promote Soviet influence in the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East. It was part of the superpower competition against the US. Unsurprisingly, the mission to aid the terrorists was assigned to the KGB, the all-powerful Soviet secret service.

"In addition to weapons, the Soviets provided money to the PLO, specifically to groups like Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They took care to train them, either themselves or through client states in the socialist bloc," adds Professor Laskier.

"They hosted the operatives of the terrorist organizations in Moscow, so they could study there in institutions of higher education. The Patrice Lumumba University of Peoples' Friendship, the KGB's university, was the most prominent among them. They taught them propaganda there, and other things deemed useful in the struggle. One of the drives guiding the USSR, as KGB chief Andropov wrote to Brezhnev in a top-secret report, was to control and influence the activity of the terrorist groups and channel it according to its needs, sometimes restraining and sometimes intensifying, in order to promote its interests in utmost secrecy."

The "Mitrokhin Archive" is the name given to a collection of documents from a Soviet defector that was published in Britain a decade ago. It was described as "the most important single intelligence source ever obtained." There, amid the pages, it was revealed that Abu Mazen was recruited during his stay in Moscow in the early 1980s to be a KGB agent. From then on, he appeared in the organization's files as "Agent Krotov."

Abu Mazen's name did indeed appear at that time on the list of graduate students at Lumumba University. The result of his studies was a doctoral dissertation titled "The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement 1933–1945" prepared by the student Abu Mazen at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

At the head of the Institute in those years stood Yevgeny Primakov, an Orientalist by day and a KGB man for special missions by night. Primakov personally appointed his right-hand man, Vladimir Kiselev, as Abu Mazen's academic advisor. Apparently, he was also the one who decided to lock Abu Mazen's "glorious" dissertation behind censorship bars immediately after its submission, so that outside eyes would not discover the views of one who was shaping up to be a Soviet protégé.

Despite the advent of the Soviet "glasnost" (openness) period in the late 1980s and its collapse in the early 1990s, access to Abu Mazen's dissertation was not allowed even then. It is not impossible that this is related to Primakov's appointment as deputy head of the KGB and chief of the post-Soviet Russian foreign intelligence service that arose from the KGB's ashes.

As Abu Mazen subsequently rose in the hierarchy of the Muqata'a in Ramallah, oversight of the explosive dissertation only intensified. Unlike the author himself, the Russians understood that the blood libels stuffed between its pages held the potential for great embarrassment at best, and indictment for Holocaust denial in several European countries at worst. Carmon's undisclosed efforts led to the dissertation's rescue from the secret Moscow basement, and now – to its first full exposure in Israel.

A deal with the devil

Anyone who sits down to read Abu Mazen's full doctoral dissertation would do well to take a hefty dose of anti-nausea medication beforehand. It won't take long - 119 pages of large-font text, including 14 pages of introduction, indicate that the PLO doctoral student was not too industrious, but you'll find there all the antisemitic tropes of Holocaust denial that were invented before him, and some that the future Palestinian Authority chairman can patent himself. A champion, as we said?

"The conclusion that the author leads to is that the Holocaust of the Jews was a joint project of the Nazis and the Zionist movement he so despises," summarizes Carmon. It is worth noting that Kiselev testified in his memoirs that he was in shock after first hearing from his student the subject of the dissertation. "It seemed to me completely unreasonable that there could have been ties, and even, as it later turned out, cooperation, between opposites such as Nazism and the Zionist movement, whose goal was to build a homeland for Jews in the form of a Jewish national home, and later a Jewish state," he wrote years after that meeting.

But Kiselev apparently did not appreciate the full scope of the propaganda skills that Abu Mazen acquired in the lecture halls of Lumumba University, or perhaps he was just naive. The Soviet propaganda arsenal contained diverse tools, and Abu Mazen dove into it with gleeful delight. 

Manipulation was his primary tool," observes Carmon. "A significant part of the dissertation deals with the 'Transfer Agreement' – an agreement signed in the summer of 1933 between the Nazi authorities and the Jewish Agency to allow Jews in Germany to sell their real estate, goods, and other property under Nazi rule before being expropriated by the Nazi authorities, and transfer the proceeds to Palestine in goods purchased in Germany.

"The agreement sparked intense controversy at the time it was made and raised difficult moral questions. Circles within the Zionist movement and outside it opposed it, but it takes great manipulation and audacity to present it as cooperation between the Nazis and the Zionists. This is cooperation between a rapist and the raped, or between a hangman and his victim, who seeks to postpone the end. Even after the persecution against them began in 1933, German Jews had difficulty realizing that the future held annihilation in store for them, and hesitated to emigrate from Germany because Nazi laws prevented them from taking property. The 'Transfer Agreement,' with all the moral dilemmas of a deal with the devil, allowed them to leave. Without this agreement – how many thousands of German Jews would have remained there until the gates closed on them?"

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds up a Vision for Peace map while speaking at the United Nations Security Council on February 11, 2020, in New York City (Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

A few pages after the distortion of the "Transfer Agreement," Abu Mazen employs the opposite manipulation: This time he claims that in late 1942, the possibility arose to rescue 70,000 Transylvanian Jews by shipping them on ships under Vatican flags. According to Abu Mazen, all that was required was a payment of $50 per person, totaling $3.5 million, but the American Zionists denied the existence of the offer and prevented the funds from being raised to redeem their brethren.

Here too, Abu Mazen's factual claims are pulled out of thin air, but that is not the main point. What matters is that through them one can see his way of thinking and his view of the Jewish people: If the Zionists pay money to their persecutors to redeem their brethren – in his view this is cooperation with the murderers. If they do not pay the money – according to Abu Mazen, this is again cooperation with the murderers. That's how it is when you have predetermined to vilify Zionism – the facts will not stop him.

Abu Mazen sprinkles vague hints and statements throughout the text, implying that the Zionists could have saved the Holocaust victims had they wanted to – he just does not specify how. Instead, he fabricates an outrageous false claim, writing the following: "Zionist emissaries were given free access to the concentration camps in order to find suitable people, and abandon other unsuitable people who were not supposed to leave the concentration camps alive." The naive reader is left with the impression that the Zionists conducted the selections in the Nazi camps and decided who would live and who would die, and that the Nazis themselves assisted them in organizing the emigration of young Jews suitable for settling in Palestine. Of course, nothing of the sort ever happened.

In order to reinforce for the reader the sense that the Zionists had an interest in increasing the suffering of their brethren –he invents another story, claiming that in 1943 "the opportunity arose to send food, medicine and clothing parcels to the Jewish ghettos in Europe." The rest of the story is not hard to guess. Abu Mazen claims that the Zionists derailed the initiative, even though the International Red Cross was willing to undertake it.

This outrageous accusation, of course, does not accord with historical research. The only place the Nazis allowed parcels to be sent was the Theresienstadt ghetto, the showcase of Nazi propaganda, which was intended to mislead world public opinion – and indeed the delegations of the International Red Cross fell into the trap when they visited it. They were impressed by the Nazis' smokescreen of lies, and returned after being convinced that the Germans were not harming Jews – and certainly not exterminating them.

The Soviet Submarine

This is not the only example of Abu Mazen's lies in his attempt to "prove" the conspiracy that the Zionist movement – with its various factions – hatched, according to him, against the Jewish people. Other lies amount to actual blood libels. Abu Mazen tried to develop a thesis that the Zionists deliberately murdered Jews who tried to flee the Nazis as part of the illegal immigration to the Land of Israel, which the Zionists themselves organized. To reach the desired conclusion, Abu Mazen chooses two incidents in which the sailing of refugee ships ended in tragedy: the Patria disaster in Haifa and the Struma tragedy in the Black Sea.

This is not the only example of Abu Mazen's lies in his attempt to "prove" the conspiracy that the Zionist movement - with its various factions - plotted, according to him, against the Jewish people. Other lies amount to actual blood libels. Abu Mazen tried to develop a thesis that the Zionists deliberately murdered Jews who tried to flee the Nazis as part of the illegal immigration to the Land of Israel, which the Zionists themselves organized. In order to reach the desired conclusion, Abu Mazen chooses two incidents in which the sailing of refugee ships ended in tragedy: the Patria affair and the Struma affair.

The Patria affair occurred in November 1940. The British authorities loaded Jewish refugees who arrived in the country without permits onto the ship in Haifa, intending to deport them to Mauritius. To prevent the deportation, it was decided in the Haganah organization to plant a bomb on the ship to disable it. Unfortunately, the timing and force of the explosion were not calculated correctly. The explosion tore a hole in the ship's hull, and it tilted to the side and sank quickly. Most of the people on deck were rescued, but many others – between 260 and 300 people – perished in the disaster.

MEMRI President Yigal Carmon (Photo credit: Efrat Eshel)

The Struma disaster overshadowed the Patria tragedy in its scope. The Struma set sail for Palestine from Constanta, Romania on the Black Sea in December 1941, with nearly 800 Jewish refugees on board. Due to engine failures, the ship was stopped and towed from place to place by the Turkish authorities, until on February 24, 1942, a Soviet submarine fired a torpedo at it and sank it with all its passengers, who all perished except for one survivor.

These are the facts about the two horrific tragedies. However, for Abu Mazen, they become a conspiracy. In the paper he wrote, he is convinced and tries to convince his readers that the Zionists deliberately sank both ships. It is clear that in the Soviet Union of the 1980s, it was forbidden to mention the Soviet responsibility for sinking the Struma, even though all the information about its fate was in the hands of the Soviet authorities shortly after the event. Yet there was the false blaming of the victims – the Zionists who led the Struma's rescue journey from occupied Europe – while whitewashing the true perpetrators requires outright diabolical cynicism.  

Cynicism alone is not enough, as even Abu Mazen could not ignore a logical flaw – why would the Zionists want to sink the ships after they had made efforts and taken risks to launch them on their way and bring them to the Land of Israel? To overcome this, Abu Mazen invents an "explanation" that in other circumstances would be laughable. According to him, on the Patria and the Struma, there were "improper Jews" who were not chosen by the Zionists and did not fit their plans for the settlement of the Land.

Abu Mazen was familiar with the pseudo-scientific rules that prevailed in the Soviet Union, and which were enforced even more strictly on doctoral students who came to Moscow from the Third World. As expected, his dissertation includes selected quotes from Karl Marx and Lenin (without which no academic work could exist in the Soviet reality), but not only theirs.  

The doctoral fellow in Holocaust denial understood quite well which side his bread was buttered on. Primakov and his organization provide you with patronage, supply weapons, and money, and arrange a doctorate for you? You must return the favor to Primakov. And so, we find Abu Mazen citing the following false quote from Primakov, whom he calls a "Soviet researcher": "During World War II, the Zionists did not take an active part in the struggle against fascism. History has no facts about the mass recruitment of Zionists to fight German fascism."

What about the many uprisings in the large and small ghettos, most of which were led by Zionist youth? What about the mass enlistment of members of the Jewish community in the Land of Israel in the British army, precisely at a time when many in the Arab population of the country, and certainly its leaders such as the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, sided with the Nazis?

"The myth of Jewish passivity and cowardice in the face of destruction was cultivated in the Soviet Union, which sought to instill in its citizens the idea that the Jews could only be saved thanks to the Soviet proletariat that came to their aid," Carmon explains. But Abu Mazen not only turns a blind eye to the Jewish resistance, which was based on Zionist movements of all streams. In the end, he fabricates another conclusion and claims: "The leaders of the Zionist centers aspired to conceal the facts of Jewish resistance from public opinion," and in the same breath writes that the Zionists did so in order to participate in post-war peace negotiations. Their goal, he claims, was to demand their share of the spoils of the Allies' victory. Did you miss the all-too-familiar antisemitic motif that Jews will do anything for money? You got it from Abu Mazen.

Distorting Hilberg

"Although the dissertation ostensibly deals with the Holocaust of the Jews, from Abu Mazen's point of view it was impossible not to include another motif from Soviet propaganda – the claim that denies the uniqueness of the Holocaust and seeks to explain that the Nazis treated everyone the same way," Carmon adds. "Perhaps Abu Mazen drew on this from other Soviet propagandists, but here he writes in his dissertation, in black and white, 'The entire population of areas occupied by the Nazis (Jews and non-Jews) was under the influence of the same cruel Nazi military machine'."

Carmon draws my attention to the fact that denying the Holocaust never prevented Abu Mazen from claiming that Israel is committing a holocaust against the Arabs of the country. Just this past summer of 2022, Abu Mazen said that Israel carried out "50 massacres in 50 Palestinian villages, 50 holocausts." A similar statement appears in the dissertation, further seasoned with a hint of an international conspiracy in the style of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. "The policy of genocide against the Arab people of Palestine, conducted by the Zionist Israeli government, with the support of the United States and international Zionist centers, in fact, reenacts the Nazis' crimes against Jews during World War II, and is aimed at establishing its own empire in the Middle East – Greater Israel," he wrote then.

Is Abu Mazen's doctoral dissertation simply a collection of false clichés from the Soviet propaganda mill, and nothing more? The document suggests that he went much further, or rather – sank much deeper. True, most of the components in the work are a rehashing of familiar Soviet lies, but Abu Mazen could not restrain himself and wove into them lies of his own. One of them deals with a favorite topic of Holocaust deniers – the number of Jews annihilated by the Nazis and their accomplices. Soviet propaganda at least did not try to claim that the Jews inflated the number of victims. Abu Mazen, on the other hand, does hint at this, and in an especially devious and wicked way.

"There are no accurate statistical data or well-researched scientific findings regarding the number of these victims," Abu Mazen opens dryly as if regretting that the Nazis did not record all the Jews before shooting or burning them alive for his statistical conclusions. He immediately moves on to an outrageous sentence: "According to data of the English researcher R. Hilberg, who specialized in the study of the Holocaust issue, the number of victims of Hitler's genocide among Jews during World War II was 896 thousand people."

A footnote he added at the bottom of the page purports to cite where Raul Hilberg wrote this: on page 670 of his book "The Destruction of the European Jews" – a seminal work in Holocaust research. I did not hesitate and opened the book to the said page. There was no such number there. Not there, and not in any other source in the book.  

Abu Mazen clearly wanted to convey to his readers the message that the number 6 million is inflated, and in order to lend this false message credibility – he fraudulently attributed it to an authoritative source. And not just any authority: Raul Hilberg, a Holocaust survivor born in Vienna, was one of the greatest historians of the Holocaust. 26 members of his immediate family were murdered by the Nazis. Hilberg himself admitted that this enormous number was one of the motivations for him to study the Holocaust in particular and not another historical topic.

Hilberg's motivation was also influenced by what happened in 1947, when he was a student at Brooklyn College, and he happened to attend a lecture by historian Hans Rosenberg. "The most horrific crimes against a civilian population in modern times were committed during the Napoleonic conquest of Spain," the lecturer claimed at one point, and the young Hilberg, who had already been exposed to the atrocities of the Nazis during his service in the American army at the end of the war, could not remain silent. 

"How can you skip over the murder of 6 million Jews?" he shouted at Rosenberg. Hilberg passed away in 2007 after an illustrious academic career, unaware that Abu Mazen had tried to base his vile lie on him –  precisely him, the man who understood the magnitude of the catastrophe that befell the Jewish people soon after it occurred.

Nevertheless, the similarity between Abu Mazen's exposed doctoral dissertation and some propaganda "works" from the Soviet era raises the hypothesis that Abu Mazen simply lifted portions of the dissertation from his fellow propagandists, with or without their knowledge. Entire passages in the dissertation are identical, word for word, to passages in various articles by his advisor, Kisilev.

"Perhaps in addition to a PhD in Holocaust denial, Abu Mazen also deserves a degree in plagiarism," Karmon quips. "This aspect should have been examined by the committee for advanced degrees in the Soviet Union, but its members undoubtedly received instructions from the higher-ups to award Abu Mazen the degree without unnecessary questions, and to allow him to return to his daily occupation of terrorism as quickly as possible."

"In any case, the hypothesis that the work was partially copied does not absolve Abu Mazen of responsibility for the disgraceful things that appear in it, which should have landed him in the dock on charges of Holocaust denial. Abu Mazen's statements over the years since writing his doctoral dissertation, and especially in recent years, prove beyond any doubt that these are his true and consistent views and that he still stands by them today."

Ariel Bulshtein


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