Thursday, July 27, 2017

Israel's government under triple siege - debkaFile




by debkaFile

By failing to draw a strong red line at this juncture of the Temple Mt. standoff, Israel will invite further Palestinian rejectionism and terrorist pressure for more concessions.

Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is being forced back step by step on the Temple Mount standoff by a three-line siege imposed by the Palestinians, Sunni Arab governments, including Jordan, and public opinion at home.

The security cabinet can’t be faulted for approving its first rational steps for securing the worshippers and visitors frequenting Temple Mount, after three Israeli Arab gunmen desecrated the shrine on July 14 by shooting dead two Israeli police officers on guard at Lion’s Gate.

 
Metal detectors at the gates provided a quick fix for reopening the shrines the next day.
Where the ministers went wrong was in failing to go after the perpetrators of the murders committed at one of the most sensitive world shrines. The killers belonged to the lawless Jabarin clan that rules the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. The ministers did not treat this clan as central to the crime, out of concern for the delicate relations with Israel’s Arab minority. Instead, The Temple Mount, the lightning rod of Israel’s relations with the entire Muslim and Arab world, was treated as the core issue.

The Jabarins felt safe enough to carry on breaking Israel’s laws. On Tuesday, July 25, a member was caught smuggling a truckload of illegal Palestinian workers from the Palestinian town of Jenin across into Israel. It was obvious that something is badly amiss in state homeland security considerations.


In another example, the government finally, a year late, ordered the home of one of the Tel Aviv Sarona Market terrorists, who murdered four Israelis, to be knocked down. One story of a building in the Hebron village of Yata will be destroyed. At the same time, the Supreme Court of Justice in Jerusalem gave the police 30 hours to hand over the bodies of the three Temple Mount gunmen, members of the Jabarin tribe,  to their families for burial.

Razing the home of one of the Tel Aviv terrorists, who claimed to have been inspired by ISIS, in a timely fashion, a year ago, might have been some deterrent for the killers of Umm al-Fahm.


It now turns out that the shrine murders 12 days ago were the result of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians coming together for a joint terrorist conspiracy against Israel. The location was deliberately chosen as the catalyst for dragging moderate Arab rulers into a plot for compelling Israel to give up its sovereignty on Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem. 


This conspiracy was insufficiently addressed by the ministers taking part in the security cabinet’s deliberations. The removal of the metal scanners, security cameras - or any other measures Israel has been forced to cede - will continue to be rejected by the Palestinians and Israeli Arab leaders, including their members of parliament. They are intent on drawing their community of 1.5 million into the bloody brew they have cooked up for the entire Arab world to consume.

As this juncture, the Israeli government has no choice but to brake hard on concessions – even as street violence escalates - and draw a red line against caving in any further. The Palestinians and their clerics should informed firmly that if they choose to continue to boycott Al Aqsa and hold prayers in the street outside the shrine, so be it. Israel will not budge any further on its responsibility to secure Temple Mount against more violence. And their dream of a victory parade into the holy compound to celebrate their humiliation of the Jewish State will never come true.

Very few Israelis are aware of the origins of the 180,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem today. Most of them originate in Hebron and migrated to Jerusalem over the years since 1967. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which ruled eastern Jerusalem and its shrines for 19 years up until the Six Day War, very carefully kept Hebron natives out of the city. Their extremist conduct over Temple Mount explains why.

If Israel fails to draw a strong red line at this point in the standoff, a new crisis or terrorist outrage will be staged every few days to force the ministers to fall back step by step on measures pivotal to national security. Popular opinion at home, incensed over the Halamish outrage, was against the first concession and will oppose any more.



debkaFile

Source: http://www.debka.com/article/26157/Israel-s-government-under-triple-siege

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The metal detectors debacle: Netanyahu's feeble response - Mati Tuchfeld




by Mati Tuchfeld

Israel's response to the terrorist attack on the Temple Mount was hasty and confused, and it is no wonder that PM Benjamin Netanyahu ultimately caved



Israeli police officers walk outside the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday
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Photo credit: AP


Mati Tuchfeld

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=44135

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State Department copied old reports to whitewash PA incitement? - Gary Willig




by Gary Willig

'State Department fears its own words would be used by Congress to cut funding to the PA, so it intentionally slants reports.'



Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson
Reuters
Two prominent former Israeli diplomats accused the US State Department of copying parts of old reports into newer reports in order to whitewash the Palestinian Authority's (PA) incitement to violence, the Jewish News Service (JNS) reported.

Last week, the State Department released its annual assessment of global terrorism for 2016. Former Ambassador Alan Baker and ex-diplomat Lenny Ben-David, noted that the report used nearly identical language to defend the PA from accusations of incitement for the tenth consecutive year.

“The PA has taken significant steps during President [Mahmoud] Abbas’s tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence,” the report states. The exact same sentence has been used in every annual assessment of global terrorism since the 2013 report.

Other instances of identical sentences being used in different years were noted.

Former Ambassador Alan Baker, who has served on Israeli delegations during negotiations with the PA and as the firmer [sic] director of the Foreign Ministry, told JNS that State Department officials seemed to be “taking previous reports and copying them, making slight changes where they consider it relevant,” rather than actually assessing the PA's role in incitement.

Ambassador Baker said that the PA was not taking "significant steps" against incitement as the State Department report stated, but “the opposite is the case—their own actions, statements and publications, naming streets and squares after terrorists, formally paying fees to terrorist families, all point to a distinctive step backwards in violation of Palestinian commitments pursuant to the Oslo Accords.”

The former ambassador said that as a result of the report, “the Palestinians see it as a license to continue and as support for their struggle. If the State Department closes a blind eye, this is tantamount to giving a green light.”

Former Israeli diplomat Lenny Ben-David who held the second-ranking position in the Israeli embassy in Washington DC from 1997-2000, agreed. Ben-David said that the State Department “does copy from year to year,” and that it has been able to do so for years because, “Who pays attention?”

Ben-David added that the State Department intentionally misrepresents the PA's actions in its reports because it is afraid that Congress will decide to slash US funding to the PA over its incitement and support for terrorism.

The state Department “fears that its own words will be used to buttress congressional efforts to cut aid to the PA; imagine what a truthful report on incitement would do to assist passage of the Taylor Force legislation.”

The Taylor Force Act, which is currently making its way through Congress, would cut all US funding to the PA as long as it continued its policy of monetary subsidies for terrorists. The bill is named for Taylor Force, an American citizen who was murdered by an Arab terrorist in Jaffa in 2016.


Gary Willig

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/233035

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The New Brownshirts: Thugs vs. Free Speech on Campus - Robert Spencer




by Robert Spencer


The future for free expression in the West is looking bleak.




Leftist students routinely intimidate and even physically menace those who dissent from their views, especially pro-Israel students. Conservative speakers are rarely invited to campuses, and when they are, face legions of hostile and even violent protesters. Universities are increasingly hostile to conservative views, and are mostly indoctrination centers for the hard Left. This is academia today, as I detail in my new book The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies).

On September 29, 2016, retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel and former Congressman Allen West was scheduled to speak at Saint Louis University (SLU) on what he termed “the threat of radical Islam.” A group of Leftist and Muslim student protesters, led by the SLU Rainbow Alliance and the Muslim Students’ Association, packed the hall and then walked out, leaving West to speak to a nearly empty room.

That was the culmination of protests that had led SLU administrators to forbid the Young America’s Foundation (YAF), the organization sponsoring West’s speech, to use the words “radical Islam” on posters and fliers advertising it. West, not disposed to acquiesce to this censorship, had written before the event, “I along with the YAF activists will not back down from this challenge. And if this is just a case of ill-conceived political correctness, we’ll rectify that. But, if this is a case of the influence of stealth jihad radical Islamic campus organizations such as the Muslim Student Association, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, then you will be exposed. And I recommend to the President of St. Louis University, you do not want it known that a radical Islamic organization is dictating speakers on your campus—that is not the type of PR you really want.”

But rather than affirming the importance of free discourse and the airing of dissenting views (never mind rejecting jihad and Islamic supremacism), SLU President Fred Pestello declared his “solidarity” with the protesters against the “provocateur” West.

YAF national spokeswoman Emily Jashinsky noted that what happened to West at SLU is common. “This is what happens when students attempt to bring one conservative speaker to a liberal campus. Threatened leftists do everything they can to erect obstacles.”

The whiff of a threat was unmistakable. And it was understandable that Jewish groups would feel intimidated, as groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association have been growing increasingly aggressive and even physically menacing toward those who dare to question support for the Palestinian jihad against Israel.

Universities were much more solicitous about the sensibilities of Muslims.

The April 5, 2016 issue of The Gleaner, the student paper of Rutgers University–Camden, published a cartoon of Muhammad, Buddha, and Jesus in a bar. Its content, however, cannot be known at this point, because at the behest of Muslims on campus the entire issue has been deep-sixed. This is an incident fraught with implications for the health of the freedom of speech today.

Two weeks after the cartoon was published, the April 19 issue of The Gleaner contained a letter from the Muslim Brotherhood campus group, the Muslim Students Association, saying that it found the image offensive and asking The Gleaner to remove the image from the April 5 issue and circulate a new edition of that issue without it. The MSA letter claimed that Christians and Jews on campus told MSA members that they, too, found the image offensive.

The MSA letter stated, “Even though freedom of speech and press is emphasized and is something all of us value as proud Americans, the University prides itself on diversity of people of different faith and backgrounds so we feel that it is necessary to respect those faiths and backgrounds by honoring their beliefs.”

The April 19, 2016, Gleaner contained a response to the MSA letter written by Christopher Church, the paper’s editor in chief. Church apologized to the MSA and agreed to meet with it “so that we can rectify this issue and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.” He also agreed to remove any copies of the offending April 5 issue from the Gleaner boxes around campus and destroy them.

Neither Church nor anyone at Rutgers appeared to be aware of, or to care about, the fact that the freedom of speech as a Constitutional right it is not negated by anyone’s taking offense. This incident could and should have been a chance for Rutgers and The Gleaner to explain why the freedom of speech must be protected as our fundamental bulwark against tyranny, and why that means that we must all learn to put up with material that offends us.

And once a group’s feelings of offense are taken as decisive, that group has a license to take offense at other aspects of campus life. What if Muslim Student Association members declare themselves offended at men and women sharing classrooms at Rutgers, or pork being served in the Rutgers dining hall?

In light of the violent attacks on those who have depicted Muhammad, The Gleaner was bowing to the implicit threat of violence—which in the long run only encourages more violence. Around the same time the Rutgers Muhammad cartoon incident played out, the Rutgers Art Library featured an “artwork” depicting Jesus on a dartboard. It was ultimately removed, but not because it offended Christians. No one cared if Christians were offended: Rutgers officials knew that offended Christians wouldn’t murder them. Their solicitousness toward the MSA, by contrast, reveals that they knew offended Muslims might very well kill them. Rather than stand up for the freedom of speech and against this kind of bullying, they signaled their willingness to surrender and fall into line, accepting Sharia restrictions on speech.

The double standard was stark: Jesus crucified on a dartboard was art—and what’s more, it was courageous – while a cartoon of Muhammad was beyond the bounds of acceptable expression. One Rutgers student chortled on Facebook that the dartboard “art” was “hilarious,” and crowed that “we don’t have to cater to the wills of the Church or any denomination of Christianity or religion.” A cartoon of Muhammad, on the other hand, was an outrage. No one was crowing about not having to cater to the wills of the mosque.

This is the kind of respect being irrationally violent will win you. This respect won at the point of a sword does not bode well for the future of free expression in the West.

The brownshirts were back, and on American campuses. And administrators all too often appeared anxious to placate them, rather than determined to protect the freedom of speech and curb their influence.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies). Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/267387/new-brownshirts-thugs-vs-free-speech-campus-robert-spencer

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Silicon Valley Censorship - Samuel Westrop




by Samuel Westrop

Why does Silicon Valley believe it should decide what is valid speech and what is not?

  • If it is ever "toxic" to deem ISIS a terrorist organization, then -- regardless of whether that is the result of human bias or an under-developed algorithm -- the potential for abuse, and for widespread censorship, will always exist. The problem lies with the very concept of the idea. Why does Silicon Valley believe it should decide what is valid speech and what is not?
  • Conservative news, it seems, is considered fake news. Liberals should oppose this dogma before their own news comes under attack. Again, the most serious problem with attempting to eliminate hate speech, fake news or terrorist content by censorship is not about the efficacy of the censorship; it is the very premise that is dangerous.
  • Under the guidance of faulty algorithms or prejudiced Silicon Valley programmers, when the New York Times starts to delete or automatically hide comments that criticize extremist clerics, or Facebook designates articles by anti-Islamist activists as "fake news," Islamists will prosper and moderate Muslims will suffer.
Google's latest project is an application called Perspective, which, as Wired reports, brings the tech company "a step closer to its goal of helping to foster troll-free discussion online, and filtering out the abusive comments that silence vulnerable voices." In other words, Google is teaching computers how to censor.

If Google's plans are not quite Orwellian enough for you, the practical results are rather more frightening. Released in February, Perspective's partners include the New York Times, the Guardian, Wikipedia and the Economist. Google, whose motto is "Do the Right Thing," is aiming its bowdlerism at public comment sections on newspaper websites, but the potential is far broader.

Perspective works by identifying the "toxicity level" of comments published online. Google states that Perspective will enable companies to "sort comments more effectively, or allow readers to more easily find relevant information." Perspective's demonstration website currently allows anyone to measure the "toxicity" of a word or phrase, according to its algorithm. What, then, constitutes a "toxic" comment?
The organization with which I work, the Middle East Forum, studies Islamism. We work to tackle the threat posed by both violent and non-violent Islamism, assisted by our Muslim allies. We believe that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.

Perspective does not look fondly at our work:


Google's Perspective application, which is being used by major media outlets to identify the "toxicity level" of comments published online, has much potential for abuse and widespread censorship.

No reasonable person could claim this is hate speech. But the problem does not just extend to opinions. Even factual statements are deemed to have a high rate of "toxicity." Google considers the statement "ISIS is a terrorist group" to have an 87% chance of being "perceived as toxic."


Or 92% "toxicity" for stating the publicly-declared objective of the terrorist group, Hamas:
Google is quick to remind us that we may disagree with the result. It explains that, "It's still early days and we will get a lot of things wrong." The Perspective website even offers a "Seem Wrong?" button to provide feedback.

These disclaimers, however, are very much beside the point. If it is ever "toxic" to deem ISIS a terrorist organization, then -- regardless of whether that figure is the result of human bias or an under-developed algorithm -- the potential for abuse, and for widespread censorship, will always exist.

The problem lies with the very concept of the idea. Why does Silicon Valley believe it should decide what is valid speech and what is not?

Google is not the only technology company enamored with censorship. In June, Facebook announced its own plans to use artificial intelligence to identify and remove "terrorist content." These measures can be easily circumvented by actual terrorists, and how long will it be before that same artificial intelligence is used to remove content that Facebook staff find to be politically objectionable?

In fact, in May 2016, the "news curators" at Facebook revealed that they were ordered to "suppress news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network's influential 'trending' news section." And in December 2016, Facebook announced it was working to "address the issue of fake news and hoaxes" published by its users. The Washington Free Beacon later revealed that Facebook was working with a group named Media Matters on this issue. In one of its own pitches to donors, Media Matters declares its dedication to fighting "serial misinformers and right-wing propagandists." The leaked Media Matters document states it is working to ensure that "Internet and social media platforms, like Google and Facebook, will no longer uncritically and without consequence host and enrich fake news sites and propagandists." Media Matters also claims to be working with Google.

Conservative news, it seems, is considered fake news. Liberals should oppose this dogma before their own news comes under attack. Again, the most serious problem with attempting to eliminate hate speech, fake news or terrorist content by censorship is not about the efficacy of the censorship; it is the very premise that is dangerous.

Under the guidance of faulty algorithms or prejudiced Silicon Valley programmers, when the New York Times starts to delete or automatically hide comments that criticize extremist clerics, or Facebook designates articles by anti-Islamist activists as "fake news," Islamists will prosper and moderate Muslims will suffer.

Silicon Valley has, in fact, already proven itself incapable of supporting moderate Islam. Since 2008, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) has granted $330,524 to two Islamist organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief. Both these groups are designated terrorist organizations in the United Arab Emirates. SVCF is America's largest community foundation, with assets of over $8 billion. Its corporate partners include some of the country's biggest tech companies -- its largest donation was $1.5 billion from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The SVCF is Silicon Valley.

In countries such as China, Silicon Valley has previously collaborated with the censors. At the very least, it did so because the laws of China forced it to comply. In the European Union, where freedom of expression is superseded by "the reputation and rights of others" and the criminalization of "hate speech" (even where there is no incitement to violence), Google was ordered to delete certain data from search results when a member of the public requests it, under Europe's "right to be forgotten" rules. Rightly, Google opposed the ruling, albeit unsuccessfully.

But in the United States, where freedom of speech enjoys protections found nowhere else in the world, Google and Facebook have not been forced to introduce censorship tools. They are not at the whim of paranoid despots or unthinking bureaucrats. Instead, Silicon Valley has volunteered to censor, and it has enlisted the help of politically partisan organizations to do so.

This kind of behavior sends a message. Earlier this year, Facebook agreed to send a team of staff to Pakistan, after the government asked both Facebook and Twitter to help put a stop to "blasphemous content" being published on the social media websites. In Pakistan, blasphemy is punishable by death.
Google, Facebook and the rest of Silicon Valley are private companies. They can do with their data mostly whatever they want. The world's reliance on their near-monopoly over the exchange of information and the provision of services on the internet, however, means that mass-censorship is the inevitable corollary of technology companies' efforts to regulate news and opinion.

At a time when Americans have little faith in the mass media, Silicon Valley is now veering in a direction that will evoke similar ire. If Americans did not trust the mass media before, what will they think once that same media is working with technology companies not just to report information Silicon Valley prefers, but to censor information it dislikes?



Samuel Westrop is the Director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10722/google-perspective-censorship

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California Imams Caught On Video Preaching Jew-Hatred, Violence - Ari Lieberman




by Ari Lieberman


And the establishment media's deafening silence.




Two disturbing videos have surfaced involving California-based Muslim preachers in which both are heard spewing anti-Semitic vitriol as well as issuing implicit calls for violence against Jews. The videos, which are not dissimilar in content and shrill to those which have emerged from Gaza, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab Mideast, reveal the extent to which anti-Semitism is deeply embedded in large segments of the American Muslim community.

The first video features Egyptian-born preacher Ammar Shahin, who is the imam of the Islamic Center of Davis, northern California. The sermon was delivered on July 21. Shahin, who delivered the sermon in both English and Arabic, is heard invoking an anti-Semitic hadith in which Muslims will do battle with the Jews and the Jews will be forced to take shelter behind rocks and trees. Shahin then says that the trees and rocks will call out to the Muslims and say, “Oh Muslim…come, there is someone behind me – except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews.”

Shahin refers to Jews as “filth” and calls on Allah to, “annihilate them down to the very last one; do not spare any of them.” Not content with merely the annihilation of Jewry, Shahin chillingly beseeches Allah to, “make this happen by our hands.” Apparently, a depraved Shahin wants to feel the knife plunging into his victim and derives perverse satisfaction from that fee[l]ing.

When confronted with the video, Shahin, who likened Jews to “filth” and called for their “annihilation,” among other sordid gems, alleged that his words were “taken out of context.” It’s funny how Jew-haters always claim to be “taken out of context” once they’re caught. Louis Farrakhan, Linda Sarsour and Keith Ellison, have all resorted to this same tired excuse, once exposed.

The second video, which was also delivered on July 21, features Sheikh Mahmoud Harmoush. The Friday sermon was delivered to congregants at the Islamic Center of Riverside, California.

Harmoush is heard telling his congregants that the immigrant Jews took advantage of Muslim hospitality and conspired to steal the “beautiful land…with killing, crime and massacres.” More ominously, Harmoush invokes “Jihad” and urges his flock to “wake up; it is time to be a Muslim. Prayer is not the only thing.” He further urges them to “resist and fight back” claiming that in addition to “Palestine” the Jews are seeking to seize “most of the Middle East…even Mecca and Medina.” Harmoush completes his screed with the obligatory, “destroy the [Jews] and render them sunder.”

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Harmoush “holds educational and leadership positions at several institutions in Southern California, teaches Arabic at UCLA San Bernardino, and is a member of the leadership council of the Syrian American Council.”

In 2010, Harmoush was embroiled in legal battle involving the expansion of his mosque in Temecula, California. Residents opposed to the expansion cited traffic concerns but others pointed to fears of radicalism and terror. At the time, Harmoush was quoted by the New York Times stating that accusations of radicalism “really are not worth responding to.”

Clearly, those who opposed the 2010 mosque expansion project had their fears validated by MEMRI’s recent exposé. When interviewed by the New York Times, Harmoush placed his best, moderate foot forward but a radically different and more disquieting picture of Harmoush emerges when he issued an Islamic sermon to a Muslim audience behind closed doors. There, in the safety of secrecy, away from prying eyes and ears, his true feelings poured forth to an approving audience.

Aside from the videos, there’s another more troubling aspect to this story, one centering on the gross disparate treatment the mainstream media provides to certain bias crimes. It appears that some hate crimes take precedence over others, depending on which ethnic group is attacked.

In January and June of 2017 the Islamic Center of Davis was the target of bias crimes. In the first instance, a vandal broke some of the mosque’s windows and placed bacon strips on the mosque’s door handle. In the second instance, an individual dumped cut up pages of the Quran outside the center. Both of these outrages garnered national mainstream media attention and rightfully so. By contrast, the instant shocking revelations involving the anti-Semitic Islamic sermons have garnered scant mainstream media coverage. Thus far, only Jewish and conservative media outlets have given this important matter the coverage it rightly deserves.

The reasons for this are two-fold. First and foremost, both imams originate from Muslim countries – Egypt and Syria – and this type of negative exposure runs counter to the narrative the mainstream media wishes to present. But the sad fact remains that Muslim community is rife with rabid anti-Semitism. This is hardly surprising given that there is a near 100 percent prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes in the Arab world.

Second, and perhaps more ominously, anti-Semitic views have seeped into the left. Rancid individuals like Linda Sarsour are portrayed by media outlets like the New York Times as moderate civil rights activists when in fact, they are anything but. Sarsour, Shahin, Harmoush and many others within the Muslim community harbor deep-seated, xenophobic attitudes with particular vitriol reserved toward Jews. The fact that the mainstream media chooses to ignore this unwavering fact should be of concern to all Americans.


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

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/267384/california-imams-caught-video-preaching-jew-hatred-ari-lieberman

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Palestinians: Abbas's Security Doubletalk - Bassam Tawil




by Bassam Tawil

Abbas has yet to recover from the nightmare of 2007, when Hamas brought about the collapse of his Palestinian Authority and violently seized control over the Gaza Strip. The last thing Abbas wants is a recurrence of that horrific scenario

  • So, who is taking Abbas's threats to suspend security cooperation with Israel seriously? Not Israel, not the Americans, and certainly not many Palestinians. Abbas is caught between two bad places -- both of his very own making. On the one hand, he knows that security cooperation with Israel is his only insurance policy to remain in power and alive. On the other hand, Abbas is acutely aware of his status among many Palestinians, who would be more than happy to replace him with someone more... to their taste.
  • Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj's message was directed to the Israeli public with the goal of pressuring the Israeli government and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cave in to Palestinian threats and remove the metal detectors. This is why Faraj chose an Israeli journalist who is known to be sympathetic to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership. Faraj and his boss -- Abbas -- wanted to scare the Israeli public and turn them against Netanyahu by telling them that Palestinians will stop security coordination with Israel unless the metal detectors were removed.
  • Abbas is still playing his old game. Out of one side of his mouth he claimed a desire for a peaceful solution to the metal detectors crisis, and out of the other side, he egged his people on to murder more and more Israelis. As it turns out, whether security coordination is "sacred" or "suspended," Abbas is in it for one person only: himself.
The conflicting reports emerging from Ramallah concerning security coordination with Israel serve as yet another reminder of the Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders' astounding hypocrisy.

Israel, for its part, has brushed aside reports about a suspension of the security coordination with the Palestinian Authority as yet another Abbas gimmick.

It is far from lost on Mahmoud Abbas and his PA that such security coordination is what stands between a very hungry Hamas and Abbas served up on toast for breakfast.

In the past, Abbas has rightly and reasonably described security coordination with Israel as "sacred," saying he will never succumb to pressure from Hamas and many Palestinians to stop working with Israel in the West Bank.

"I wish to say this openly – security coordination (with Israel) is sacred and will continue regardless of our political differences," Abbas declared in 2014.

Abbas's statement came amid reports that Israeli intelligence had thwarted a Hamas assassination plot against him in 2014.

Security coordination is indeed sacred for the Palestinian Authority president -- not to mention his family members and senior officials, who without such cooperation would also be dead, imprisoned or forced into exile. Abbas has yet to recover from the nightmare of 2007, when Hamas brought about the collapse of his Palestinian Authority and violently seized control over the Gaza Strip. The last thing Abbas wants is a recurrence of that horrific scenario; thousands of his police officers and Fatah loyalists were severely humiliated, and many either lynched in public, thrown off the high floors of buildings, imprisoned, or forced either to surrender or flee to Israel and Egypt.

The latest fiasco pertaining to the issue of security coordination with Israel began on July 21, when Abbas announced his decision to "freeze contacts with the occupation state (Israel) on all levels." Abbas's announcement came during a meeting of Palestinian leaders in Ramallah to discuss the crisis surrounding Israel's decision to install metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This decision came in response to a shooting attack on July 14 carried out by three Arab Israelis that resulted in the murder of two Israeli police officers.

Abbas's announcement did not refer specifically to security coordination with Israel. Palestinian officials in Ramallah later explained that the decision to "freeze contacts with Israel on all levels" did not include security coordination between the two sides, which they said was continuing as usual and was necessary and vital.

Then came the backlash, with Palestinians roasting Abbas for maintaining security coordination with Israel. Palestinians perturbed by metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount have also been chanting slogans against Abbas, accusing him of "collusion" with Israel and failing to support their campaign to have the metal detectors removed.

Social media has also not been silent. Many Palestinians and Arabs have been denouncing Abbas as a pawn in the hands of Israel and the US and demanding that he halt security coordination and all forms of cooperation with Israel.

In an attempt to contain the raging resentment on the Palestinian street, Abbas's aides later clarified that he has instructed his security commanders to stop talking to their Israeli counterparts in protest against the installation of the metal detectors. The aides hinted that despite the instruction, security coordination on the ground level will continue between the two sides because the decision only referred to contacts on a high level.

Many Palestinians, however, are calling Abbas's bluff.

As pressure on Abbas intensified, he sent his intelligence chief, Majed Faraj, to inform an Israeli journalist closely associated with the Palestinian Authority that Abbas has instructed him and other security chiefs to stop talking to their Israeli counterparts.

Faraj's message was directed to the Israeli public with the goal of pressuring the Israeli government and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cave in to Palestinian threats and remove the metal detectors. This is why Faraj chose an Israeli journalist who is known to be sympathetic to Abbas and the PA leadership. Faraj and his boss -- Abbas -- wanted to scare the Israeli public and turn them against Netanyahu by telling them that Palestinians will stop security coordination with Israel unless the metal detectors are removed -- which the Israeli government agreed to do on the night of July 24.

One wonders when the Palestinian Authority will upgrade its scare tactics: they have used this one for decades to frighten the Israeli public.

The best evidence that Abbas is continuing to bluff everyone regarding security coordination with Israel is what happened in March 2015, when the PLO Central Committee, a key decision-making body headed by Abbas, voted in favor of suspending security coordination with Israel. Not only was this decision never implemented, in fact security coordination between the Palestinians and Israel has since grown stronger as the two sides face a common enemy in the West Bank called Hamas.

Abbas is still playing his old game: terrified of the raging Palestinian street, he released a terse statement on July 23 claiming that the decision to suspend contacts with Israel does indeed include security coordination. This latest statement, however, flies in the face of assertions by Israel and some Palestinian officials that suggest the exact opposite. Israeli security officials have scoffed at Abbas's decision, calling it symbolic and saying that security coordination is continuing by telephone.


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

So who is taking Abbas's threats to suspend security cooperation with Israel seriously? Not Israel, not the Americans, and certainly not many Palestinians. Abbas is caught between two bad places -- both of his very own making. On the one hand, he knows that security cooperation with Israel is his only insurance policy to remain in power and alive. On the other hand, Abbas is acutely aware of his status among many Palestinians, who would be more than happy to replace him with someone more... to their taste.

Abbas lives in a demonic Wonderland. Out of one side of his mouth he claimed a desire for a peaceful solution to the metal detectors crisis, and out of the other side, he egged his people on to murder more and more Israelis. As it turns out, whether security coordination is "sacred" or "suspended," Abbas is in it for one person only: himself.

Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10732/palestinians-abbas-security

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UK Terrorism: 'Enough' is Not 'Enough' - Douglas Murray




by Douglas Murray

What if the public does not want to get used to [terror attacks]?

  • Were terror attacks like this simply something that the British public would have to get used to, as the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had suggested? What if the public did not want to get used to them?
  • That the UK authorities allowed the "Al-Quds Day" march to proceed through the streets of London and for Palestine Expo to assemble such an array of speakers just down the road from one of this year's terror attacks, suggests that all that has happened this year in Britain is extremely very far from "enough".
  • So, rather than expecting resilience, the British people will have to be prepared to accept still more terror -- and doubtless more pointless platitudes to follow each attack -- as surely as they have followed all the attacks before.
On June 3, Britain underwent its third Islamist terror assault in just ten weeks. Following on from a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena and a car- and knife-attack in Westminster, the London Bridge attacks seemed as if they might finally tip Britain into recognising the full reality of Islamist terror.

The attackers that night on London Bridge behaved as such attackers have before, in France, Germany and Israel. They used a van to ram into pedestrians, and then leapt from the vehicle and began to stab passers-by at random. Chasing across London Bridge and into the popular Borough Market, eye-witnesses recorded that the three men, as they slit the throats of Londoners and tourists, shouted "This is for Allah."

A day later, British Prime Minister Theresa May made another appearance on the steps of Downing Street, to comment on the latest atrocity. In what appeared to have become a prime ministerial tradition, she stressed that the terrorists were following the "evil ideology of Islamist extremism", which she described as "a perversion of Islam". All this was no more than she had said after the Manchester and Westminster attacks, and almost exactly what her predecessor, David Cameron, had said from the same place after the slaughter of Drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of London in 2013, as well as after the countless ISIS executions and atrocities in Syria in the months that followed.

Yet Prime Minister May's speech did include one new element. She used her speech on June 4 to go slightly farther than she had previously done. There had been "far too much tolerance of extremism" in the UK, she said, before adding, "Enough is enough".

It was a strong statement, and seemed to sum up an increasingly disturbed public mood. Were attacks like this simply something that the British public would have to get used to, as the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had suggested? What if the public did not want to get used to them? As with one of Tony Blair's statements after the July 7, 2005 London transport attacks -- "The rules of the game are changing" -- Theresa May's statement seemed full of promise. Perhaps it suggested that finally a British politician was going to get a grip on the problem.

Yet now that we are nearly two months on from her comments, it is worth noting that to date there are no signs that "enough" has been "enough". Consider just two highly visible signs that what Britain has gone through this year has been, in fact, no wake-up call at all, and that instead, whatever might have been learned has been absorbed into the to-and-fro of political events, passing like any other transient news story.


Nearly two months on from British Prime Minister Theresa May's comments, following the Westminster terror attack, that there is "far too much tolerance of extremism" in the UK and that "Enough is enough", it is worth noting that what Britain has gone through this year has been, in fact, no wake-up call at all, and that to date there are no signs that "enough" has been "enough". (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The first was an event that took place only a fortnight after Theresa May's claim that something had changed in the UK. This was the annual "Al-Quds Day" march in London, organised by the badly misnamed Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). Apart from organising an annual "Islamophobe of the Year" award -- an award which two years ago they gave to the slaughtered staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo -- this Khomeinist group's main public activity each year is an "Al Quds Day" in London. The day allows a range of anti-Semites and anti-Israel extremists to congregate in central London, wave Hezbollah flags and call for the destruction of the Jewish state, Israel.

As Hezbollah is a terrorist group, and any distinction between a "military" and "diplomatic" wing of the group exists solely in the minds of a few people in the British Foreign Office, waving the flag of Hezbollah in public is waving the flag of a terrorist group. If the rules of the game were indeed changing after the followers of a Hezbollah-like creed had slaughtered citizens on a bridge in London, then the promotion of a terrorist group in the same city only days later would not have gone ahead. Nor would the speeches from the "Al Quds Day" platform have been allowed to be completed without arrests being made. The speeches to the 1,000-strong crowd included the most lurid imaginable claims.

These included a speech by the chairman of the IHRC, Nazim Ali. Mr Ali used his time before the public to make a connection between the horrific fire in a tower-block in West London days before the march and the Jewish state. According to Mr Ali, the roughly 80 victims of the fire at Grenfell Tower "were murdered by Theresa May's cronies, many of which are supporters of Zionist ideology." He went on:
"Let us not forget that some of the biggest corporations who were supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory party... It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory party, to kill people in high rise blocks... Careful, careful, careful of those rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies [of British Jews], who have got blood on their hands."
Does Mrs. May regard this as "enough"?

The same question arises over another event, held in the very heart of Westminster only a couple of weeks later. On the weekend of July 8-9, the Queen Elizabeth II Centre (right opposite Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament) was host to a "Palestine Expo" event. This occasion was advertised as "the biggest social, cultural and entertainment event on Palestine to ever take place in Europe".

Speakers included Tariq Ramadan, the dauphin of the Muslim Brotherhood, who used his speech to try to minimise the violence of the terrorist group Hamas. Ramadan used his speech to pour scorn on the idea that the knife and vehicle attacks carried out by Hamas, and those people inspired by its Islamist message in the Middle East, have any connection at all to the knife and vehicle attacks such as the one which had recently claimed the lives of four people crossing Westminster Bridge, as well as that of a policeman at the gates of Parliament. The site of the slaughter was just opposite the conference centre in which Ramadan was speaking:
"As if al-Qaeda is exactly like Hamas and the Palestinian resistance. By saying that they are all terrorists, that's exactly the game. And we are saying we condemn terrorism. But there is a legitimate resistance to your state terrorism."
Other speakers at the Palestine Expo event included the South African preacher Ebrahim Bham. Among his own previous gems is his claim from earlier this year regarding people who are not Muslims: "They are like animals! No, they are worse than animals!"

All of this took place in the weeks immediately after Theresa May said that "enough was enough." That the UK authorities allowed the Al-Quds march to proceed through the streets of London and for Palestine Expo to assemble such an array of speakers just down the road from one of this year's terror attacks suggests that all that has happened this year in Britain is extremely far from "enough". So, rather than expecting resilience, the British people will have to be prepared to accept still more terror -- and doubtless more pointless platitudes to follow each attack -- as surely as they have followed all the attacks before.

Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10730/uk-terrorism

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Medicaid: The Snag in Obamacare Repeal - Jon N. Hall




by Jon N. Hall

Medicaid is a huge expense; it’s the feds’ fourth largest outlay, behind only Defense, Social Security, and Medicare. But more than that, Medicaid’s growth rate is also cause for concern.

One of the big concerns of Republican holdouts in Senate legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare is Medicaid. Many rural and low-income Americans depend on the program. But Medicaid is a huge expense; it’s the feds’ fourth largest outlay, behind only Defense, Social Security, and Medicare. But more than that, Medicaid’s growth rate is also cause for concern.

At the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the fact sheet for national health expenditure (NHE) lists data for 2015 that helps us put Medicaid costs into context. The first fact is that total national healthcare spending was $3.2T in 2015, about the same as all federal revenue. The second fun fact is that Medicaid spending was $545.1B, and its rate of growth was 9.7 percent, which was significantly faster than the other major components of national healthcare.

Medicaid, however, is a federal-state program. Another report from the CMS, the “2016 Actuarial Report on the Financial Outlook for Medicaid,” breaks down spending between the feds and the states in its Executive Summary on page iii (page 9 of the pdf): “Federal Medicaid outlays in 2015 were $349.8 billion and grew 16.0 percent over the previous year, in large part due to the Medicaid eligibility expansion.” An annual growth rate of 16 percent seems particularly unsustainable in a welfare program like Medicaid.

For 2015, total federal receipts were $3.249T (see Table 1.1, page 26). That means that Medicaid spending was equal to more than 10.7 percent of all federal revenue. Since the total federal deficit in 2015 was $438 billion, if Congress enacted a new tax that fully paid for Medicaid, they’d still be $88 billion shy of a balanced budget. However, Congress couldn’t hike all tax rates by 10.7 percent just to fund Medicaid because some taxes are “dedicated,” like the payroll tax, and the programs they fund, like Social Security, are already cash-flow negative.

Inasmuch as individual income taxes contributed $1.54T to federal revenue in 2015 (Table 2.1, page 34), we would have needed a tax rate hike on all individual income of more than 22.7 percent just to pay for Medicaid. And we’d have needed to take that cut right off the top, as we do with the payroll tax, because our new “Medicaid Tax” could not be subject to any exemptions. And with our hypothetical Medicaid Tax back in 2015, we’d still have been $88 billion shy of budget balance. Of course, we can’t put all of blame for the federal deficit at the feet of Medicaid, but it’s a huge part of it.

Many Americans don’t seem to care about deficits, even as our Day of Reckoning draws nigh. But they should care, because the CBO recently revised its projection for 2017’s deficit upward, to $693 billion. That uptick in the deficit, if it proves accurate, would be deeply disappointing to conservatives. On page 10 of the actuarial report above, CMS projects: “Over the next 10 years, expenditures [for Medicaid] are projected to increase at an average annual rate of 5.7 percent and to reach $957.5 billion by 2025.”

Oh, by the way, the several States spent $204B on Medicaid in 2015, which constituted 37 percent of Medicaid’s total. So, one wonders how much larger Medicaid spending (and the federal budget deficit) would have been had all the states opted to expand the program. In “The Uninspiring Medicaid Debate” in July, Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner wrote that the Medicaid expansion didn’t apply to pregnant women and children, and:
It’s also worth noting that nearly two-thirds of Medicaid spending actually goes to the elderly and disabled in nursing homes. In fact, an entire industry of eldercare lawyers and accountants exists to help the middle-class elderly shield their assets so that Medicaid can pick up the tab for their long-term care. Medicaid reform might actually force states to consider whether all Medicaid recipients are equally in need of taxpayer-funded support.
One tends to think of medical insurance as being for hospitals, surgeries, drugs, MRIs, lithotripters, and stuff like that. Medicaid’s original mission, however, seems to have “mission creeped” into shielding the estates of the middle class, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bills for those who have assets. But one doesn’t need a financial advisor; one can shield the family fortune simply by giving it to one’s heirs while still alive. The federal gift tax allows one to make an unlimited number of tax-free $14,000 gifts each year, (although no individual recipient can receive more than $14K in a year without incurring gift taxes). So if one has two children, one can reduce one’s assets by $112,000 in just four years; with four children, it would take two years.

But should the taxpayer be required to pay for those who can pay for themselves? And should such gaming of the system be allowed to continue? If middle class heirs don’t want to see their parents’ estates (their inheritance) eaten up by nursing homes, then they might consider taking in their aging parents themselves.

Republicans have created a problem for themselves with their rhetoric: they’ve been calling for repeal and “replace.” But replace what? Replace the mandates? That would still be some kind of mandate, no? When a screw in your glasses falls out and is lost, you need a replacement; i.e. an exact clone of the tiny item that kept your spectacles on your face. A near relative of the screw, one that doesn’t exactly fit, won’t suffice, (although I’ve found a paperclip will work for a while if one doesn’t mind being thought nerdy). What the GOP really should be trying for is not to “replace” Obamacare, but to “supplant” it with something quite different, something sustainable.

“Replace” has become too much. Republicans should shoot for a simple repeal, and deal with the thorny issues of Medicaid reform in a later bill. But if the price of the holdouts is to retain the Medicaid expansion, then retain the expansion. And if the holdouts are concerned about the uninsurable enrollees in the subsidy program, then throw the truly desperate with pre-existing conditions into Medicaid. But that’s it; the rest of Obamacare must go, because it’s rotten to the core.

If Republicans can’t get something done on Obamacare this year, their leadership in Congress should be replaced, and repeal holdouts should be “primaried” with challengers who will clean their clocks in the primaries of 2018.

Medicaid seems to be the snag, the sticking point, in repealing Obamacare. As for those who depend on Medicaid, we should empathize with the plight of America’s middle and working classes; they’ve been getting the shaft for forty-some years. But Congress cannot continue to borrow and spend like it has been; not even in the name of compassion, because Congress will eventually hit a wall and destroy the currency. On that fine day, talk about how much we’re going to spend on the needy (or anybody else) will be absurd.


Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/07/medicaid_the_snag_in_obamacare_repeal.html

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Watch: Evidence of Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem found - David Rosenberg




by David Rosenberg

Days before Tisha B'Av fast, excavation unearths artifacts from Kingdom of Judea in 1st Temple period - and evidence of city's destruction.




Evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem and King Solomon’s Temple at the hands of the Babylonians was recently discovered in the City of David (Ir David) just south of the Old City of Jerusalem.

During excavations organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the City of David Foundation (Elad) on the eastern slope of the City of David), structures built more than 2,600 years ago were found; unearthed after being covered over by layers of collapsed stone.

Underneath the stone, excavators found artifacts from the First Temple period, including charred wood, grape seeds, pottery, fish scales and bones, and pottery.

These findings, say researchers, hint at the affluence and character of Jerusalem, capital of the ancient kingdom of Judea. The artifacts also testify to the city's destruction at the hands of the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE.

Among the excavation's salient findings were dozens of storage jugs which stored both grain and liquids. Some of the jugs featured stamped handles with seals from the Kingdom of Judea.

Several of the seals discovered depict a rosette - a petalled rose. According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, Israel Antiquities Authority excavation directors: "These seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple Period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty. Classifying objects facilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields. The rosette, in essence, replaced the 'For the King' seal used in the earlier administrative system."

One distinct and rare finding is a small ivory statue of a female figure. The quality of the carving is high, attesting to the high caliber of the artist’s skill and the wealth of the statue’s owner.

According to Chalaf and Dr. Uziel, "The excavation's findings show that Jerusalem had extended beyond the line of the city wall before its destruction. The row of structures exposed in the excavations is located outside beyond the city wall that would have constituted the eastern border of the city during this period. Throughout the Iron Age, Jerusalem underwent constant growth, expressed both in the construction of numerous city walls and the fact that the city later spread beyond them. Excavations carried out in the past in the area of the Jewish Quarter have shown how the growth of the population at the end of the 8th Century BCE led the annexation of the western area of Jerusalem. In the current excavation, we may suggest that following the westward expansion of the city, structures were built outside of the wall’s border on the east as well."



Pottery found at City of David
Eliyahu Yanai, courtesy of City of David


David Rosenberg

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/233006

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