Any attack by Israel on Lebanon will be met with a response from Hezbollah, Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem said on Friday evening, according to Palestinian media.
Saturday, September 25, 2021
In an unprecedented plea for regional reconciliation, over 300 prominent Iraqis called for their country to normalize ties with Israel on Friday night.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he felt that relations with his US counterpart Joe Biden had "not gotten off to a good start" since the latter's arrival in the White House.
"My wish is to have friendly and not hostile relations" with the United States, Erdogan said on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York, according to AFP.
"But the way things are going between two NATO allies is currently not too auspicious," he added.
Erdogan said had "worked well" with previous US presidents, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump "but I cannot say things have gotten off to a good start with Biden".
Relations between the US and Turkey soured before Biden took office, after Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system that the US believes can be used to spy on Western defenses.
In response to the purchase, the US sanctioned Turkey’s military procurement agency and expelled Turkey from the F-35 program, under which Western allies produce the next-generation fighter jet's parts and secure its early purchasing rights.
Turkey has repeatedly made clear it will use the Russian system despite US threats of sanctions.
"We bought the F-35, paid $1.4 billion and the F-35 were not delivered to us," Erdogan said on Thursday.
"For us the S-400 affair is done. It is not possible to go back on that. The United States must understand. We, Turkey, are honest, but unfortunately the United States were not and are not," he added.
The relations with the US became more complicated when Biden, who has also made a point of highlighting Turkey's deteriorating record on human rights, took three full months after his swearing-in ceremony before placing his first call to Erdogan.
That phone call was to inform him that Washington was recognizing the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Erdogan denounced the move and urged Biden to swiftly reverse it, advising the United States to "look in the mirror".
In June, Erdogan and Biden held what the Turkish President described as a "fruitful and sincere" meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels.
A fire which broke out Thursday night in a study hall in Mitzpe Ziv in the southern Hebron hills is suspected to be arson.
The study hall, located near Maale Hever, was founded in memory of fallen IDF soldiers Yehuda Ben-Yosef and Yoav Doron, who were killed by friendly fire in 2003.
Yehuda Ben-Yosef's father Baruch Ben-Yosef, together with residents of Maale Haver, arrived at the scene to show support and remained there throughout the night, holding the next morning's prayers at the site as well.
According to Ben-Yosef, the damage is estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels, and the fire investigator from the firefighting service has said that the blaze was arson.
Ben-Yosef, who is currently filing a complaint with Israel Police, said that the building has no electricity and that the possibility that the fire was caused by an electrical short has been ruled out.
"I have no doubt it was [set by] Arabs," he emphasized.
MK Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) said, "The police must investigate and deal with the incident like they deal with terror. This time it's a building, but in the future it could end in death. We must not ignore [this] and bury our heads in the ground. This is a horrific incident."
"I expect that the police will find the guilty parties and put them in jail," he added.
Iran claims that there has been significant progress in talks with Saudi Arabia regarding security issues in the Persian Gulf.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Iran told the Al-Arabiya network, "We have had several meetings with representatives of the Saudi government. The talks have been good and significant progress has been made on regional security issues."
The spokesman further noted that "we believe the appropriate solution to be solving problems internally amongst the Gulf States and not by way of the external intervention that we outright reject."
Earlier this week, the King of Saudi Arabia said at the UN General Assembly that "Iran is one of our neighbors and we hope that the talks that have begun between the parties will lead to building trust and future cooperation."
Friday, September 24, 2021
A group of progressive, pro-Israel Democrats introduced a comprehensive piece of legislation on Thursday aimed at keeping alive the dimming prospects for a two-state solution to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
Iran’s new Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, spoke at the United Nations Durban IV conference, where he said his nation’s "willpower is dedicated" to the elimination of Zionism, Fox News reported.
"As the new foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I’m honored to announce that my nation’s willpower is dedicated to the total elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, including apartheid and Zionism," said Amir-Abdollahian, according to the report.
"These are crimes that constitute horrible atrocities such as child killing and the creeping occupation through settlements, which extends to the proximity of Al-Aqsa Mosque," he added.
The Durban IV conference was boycotted by some 30 countries, including Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and New Zealand.
On Sunday, Human Rights Voices, Touro Institute on Human Rights and CAMERA hosted a conference opposing Durban IV.
Ahead of the event, pro-Israel groups and NGOs also launched social media campaigns calling on countries to refuse to attend.
Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices who organized the counter-conference, told Fox News, "For the enemies of Israel who had high hopes that Durban IV would fast track Israel to political isolation and oblivion, the global gathering was instead a major setback. Not only did 34 states boycott, but they boycotted because the demonization of Israel was recognized as a form of modern antisemitism."
She noted that 75% of the countries speaking at the conference were deemed "not fully free" according to the definition by Freedom House that ranks countries based on freedom, and noted that "Durban IV proved to be an opportunity for the Iranian Foreign Minister to broadcast over UN WebTV around the world a call for the "elimination" of the Jewish state. In effect, backing another mass genocide for the one they claim never happened. And yet in the 21st century UN, it was just business as usual and nobody interrupted, cut the mic, or escorted him off the premises."
From the outside, HaOgen Cafe looks a lot like the many other espresso spots that line the streets of Tel Aviv.
Located just north of the central Dizengoff Square, it has floor-to-ceiling windows and a colorful chalkboard sidewalk easel that, on a recent weekday, advertised breakfast sandwiches and an upcoming acoustic concert. Inside, a crowd of 20- and 30-somethings sit at tables, typing away at laptops. It’s decorated with string lights and floor plants, with upbeat quotes and doodles scribbled in marker on the opaque windows in the back.
But HaOgen also offers something its neighborhood competitors do not — the gospel of Jesus Christ.
According to the website of Dugit, a Messianic Jewish organization based in Tel Aviv whose name means “small boat,” HaOgen is an “outreach coffee shop” that’s “staffed with evangelists ready to share the good news with every guest that comes in.
“Thanks to this trendy location the ministry gained access to a whole new group of people in their city who are in great need of a Savior,” reads a 2019 blog post on the website of the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries, a Messianic organization that describes HaOgen as a member of the fellowship.
The coffee shop’s deep ties to Dugit and Messianic Judaism, a movement that believes in the divinity of Jesus while claiming to practice Judaism, are not immediately detectable to patrons. A bookshelf at the back of the cafe is stocked with Hebrew copies of the New Testament and stacks of pamphlets about “the Messiah,” and the cafe’s logo is an anchor, a historical symbol of Christianity.
Yet no signage inside or outside indicates any ties between HaOgen and any organization or religious movement. Nor does the cafe’s website mention its affiliation with Dugit or any religious mission.
“I didn’t know it was owned by missionaries,” said Jessica Arnovitz, a Jewish American immigrant to Israel who lives near the cafe. “I’ve been before, and it’s a nice place.”
Messianic Judaism, some of whose followers were known in the past as “Jews for Jesus,” appears to be growing in Israel. Messianic Jews refer to Jesus as “Yeshua” and use Christian holy books, such as the New Testament, that have been translated to Hebrew. Messianic Jewish groups often have ties to explicitly Christian organizations, and none of the mainstream Jewish movements consider them Jewish.
As with many mainstream Christian denominations, missionary work is part of Messianic practice. READ MORE
Former National Security Council (NSC) chief Meir Ben-Shabbat has called on the Biden administration to set a final deadline for Iran, after which the US will take action to stop Iran's nuclear program, Israel Hayom reported.
In an interview with Israel Hayom, Ben-Shabbat said, "We must tell them: You, the US, want to reach a solution via diplomacy? One hundred percent. Decide what the deadline is and what you're doing afterwards, in case the diplomatic efforts don't succeed. You want a stronger and long-term agreement? Decide when you are going to act against Iran if it continues to tread water."
"You are continuing to chase after the Iranians indefinitely, to say, 'Come, regardless, let's do something?' You need to decide on timetables. You can't make do with just a general statement, you must set stages and timetables and create a plan for every scenario."
Ben-Shabbat also emphasized that Israel's first choice needs to be to work together with the international community on the Iranian issue.
"It's incorrect to disconnect ourselves from the world," he said ahead of the Iranian and US presidents' United Nations addresses. "Israel needs to try to harness the international community, and especially the US. You cannot take actions without trying to solve the issues via joint efforts."
"For us it's an existential threat, but the challenge isn't just Israel's. The Americans know that in Iran's eyes, we are the 'little Satan' and America is 'the big Satan,' so they also should have an interest in taking action."
At the same time, Ben-Shabbat said that Israel must not be dependent on the Americans.
"The State of Israel and the Jewish nation cannot tolerate an existential threat, and will not make peace with an Iranian military reactor. Regarding what we are doing, those are things that need to stay behind closed doors. I will only tell you that when the diplomatic echelon decides that we will not allow it, the military and intelligence echelons understand what that statement means."
Likud MK Nir Barkat, former mayor of Jerusalem, is on a trip to Washington, aiming to correct misconceptions about the Jewish state.
Over the past few days, Barkat worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help pass the US bill resupplying Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.
"Over the past two days, I was able to meet senior officials, senators and members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, and I saw how they work together to pass the decision, and in the end they did manage," Barkat told Arutz Sheva.
"We have very good friends here. It's true that there is an anti-Israel group within the Democratic party, which works against us, and we need to know how to work with them, and how to connect to the majority of the Democratic party, which is on our side together with the Republicans, and I want to thank them for the effort they made for us.".
One of the central issues Barkat spoke about in his meetings with the US lawmakers was the issue of reopening the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem.
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that his kingdom supports efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, as world leaders prepare to resume talks with Tehran to reinstate a 2015 nuclear pact.
The gaps in the nuclear watchdog’s coverage of Iran’s nuclear operations were not assessed by the IAEA director Rafael Grossi when he announced in Tehran ten days ago that he and Iran had agreed to restore the cameras installed at sensitive sites. He did admit that some were damaged by mysterious explosions or were disabled, leaving a monitoring gap of several months. Grossi did not accuse the Iranians of deliberately damaging the cameras. He insisted however, that for him the new deal with Tehran was “a stopgap measure to allow time for diplomacy.”
Israeli and US officials held secret talks last week to discuss a “plan B” in the event talks with Iran aimed at saving an unraveling nuclear deal aren’t renewed, according to a report on Wednesday.
It came as no surprise when senior Democrats and Israeli officials tried their best to downplay the fact that the so-called Squad of progressive legislators forced Iron Dome funding to be pulled from a bill to keep the United States government funded on Tuesday.
It was Congress’s first certain body blow to American Jews in modern times, though Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib may feel upset that they were denied a chance to achieve it on Yom Kippur and had to settle for the first day of Sukkot.
The so-called “progressives” in Congress led Democrats to commit an act of war against the Jewish people on Tuesday, when the House leadership slashed $1 billion incorporated into the spending legislation for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system in an emergency spending package.
Iron Dome will likely survive this shattering punch through separate legislation.
Any hard feelings against Omar, Tlaib and their allies are bound to intensify after Tuesday’s events. If American Jewish organizations held their fire on Wednesday, it was probably because they were still observing the second day of Sukkot. Should Democrats who support Israel or despise “progressives” for other reasons decide to exit the party, this kind of incident can open the floodgates. President Biden lost Jewish votes in Florida last November, and that was probably due to a combination of hatred of “progressives” and appreciation for former President Trump’s support for Israel.
Israel and its supporters here got caught up in the current budget mess in Congress. From news reports of the Associated Press and The New York Times, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday night to finance government operations through early December, suspend the federal debt limit and supply disaster and refugee aid. The measure was passed by a party-line vote of 220-211 and has been sent to the Senate, where it could readily sink under Republican opposition.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro of New Haven, Conn., in her role as chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced another version of the emergency bill after “progressives” objected to the Iron Dome expense. READ MORE
Many scholars and specialists link the collapse of the USSR to the policy of foreign intervention, including the USSR intervention in Afghanistan and the radical changes in Russian foreign policy avoiding confrontation and foreign intervention whenever possible.
Some also link the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan to the decline of US hegemony over the world order, on the other hand. They see the withdrawal as one of the signs of this decline that should be discussed from the perspective of international security and stability.
While recognizing that the Soviet failure in Afghanistan played a major role in the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, several points are worth highlighting to better understand the issue. The most important is the difference between the circumstances and international environment in which the Soviet withdrawal took place and that of the US.
President Joe Biden had said in the phone conversation with former President Ashraf Ghani on July 23, according to leaks, “You clearly have the best military. You have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well.”
A few days later, however, the Afghan army began retreating across the country and provincial capitals, with little fighting against the Taliban.
Some also link the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan to the decline of US hegemony over the world order...
On the other hand, pro-Soviet Afghan forces held out against armed organizations from the end of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in mid-February 1989 until 1992, when the pro-Soviet Afghan government collapsed. That is, it lasted about three years.
The comparison makes sense for understanding one aspect of the issue that concerns the failure of Afghan forces and government and does not fall far into the assumption of a decline in American power.
Yes, there has been the failure of plans to change Afghan society and the waste of billions on an Afghan army unable to hold its own against the advancing Taliban. But I am convinced that the circumstances and data are different in both cases. Other important factors and causes contributed a greater role in the disintegration of the Soviet Union, unlike the US, which does not have fateful crises like those suffered by the Soviets late in life.
It is important to note that these beliefs do not hide the movements in the international arena to create the conditions for the birth of a new world order by exploiting two important factors that happen to coincide.
-The first is the failure of the US to take the lead in global efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic, or at least to provide the necessary support to its allies and friends, or even to immunize their people against the epidemic.
-The second is the chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Among the signals of the formation of a new post-coronavirus order based on these circumstances are Russian positions. Moscow seeks to promote a multilateral world order led by the UN and the UN Security Council.
Asked during his participation in the Middle East Economic Forum who should be in charge of the global regime if the US abandons the role of “world policeman,” President Vladimir Putin replied that this responsibility should fall to the UN and its Security Council, including its five permanent members - Russia, the US, China, France, and Britain.
Russia, which in recent years has been striving to regain its former influence as the rightful heir to the former USSR, and is acting in several regions to fill the strategic vacuum due to the reluctance or the US to play its role as the dominant power in the existing world order, wants to anticipate events and foster change in accordance with its strategic interests as a world power.
It is well aware that China may, at some point, find itself in the unique leadership position of the world order, or at least play a role in a multilateral leadership framework. Discussions and expectations about the collapse or decline of the US leadership role in the world have been circulating for nearly two decades.
Even some American academics have published a celebrated political literature that includes questions about the future of American power. Not surprisingly, such expectations follow major events such as the withdrawal from Afghanistan. But I think the biggest challenge facing the US is not from its competitors, but from within itself.