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Ernie Moore (The Barnabus Press Media Center)

Ernie Moore (The Barnabus Press Media Center)

Reporting and editorials on Israel
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clip_image002 I remember standing in line at the grocery store in Jerusalem while a man tried to pay for his groceries. He went through no less than ten credit cards before he found one with enough on it to pay the twenty dollars or so necessary. As anyone who lives in Jerusalem, or about anywhere in Israel, for that matter, can tell you, most Israelis live on massive credit. And when it comes to cash, that is another slap in the face. Banks charge their depositors for MAKING DEPOSITS! Then they also charge for virtually any interaction with the bank. It is oppressive to say the least. Our first apartment (in the picture above) was in a brand new building. We were the first tenants to move in. (I remember sleeping on the floor in 40 degree weather under our coats to stay warm.) Because it was new construction and the builders wanted to get people in, the prices were unbelievably low. We paid $700 a month when shabby apartments off Golomb Street were going for twice that much. People soon moved into the building and the topic of conversation was always the low price. Fast forward to today. The same apartment now rents for over $2000. And that is not unusual. I once rented a bedroom, living-kitchen-bath apartment for $1000 in a very seedy neighborhood. In fact I had to put a towel under the door to keep dirt from blowing in! That, too, has now doubled in price. Israelis watch new construction like the hotels and apartment buildings go up knowing that they will never be able to afford the least expensive apartment or room. You may ask, then what do they live in? Typically in buildings that are below standard, in neighborhoods with infrastructure that looks like Bethlehem before the Pope came for his visit. (That means that you could lose a VW in the holes in the streets, filthy beyond imagination and little hope for improvement. When the Pope visited, massive improvements fixed the areas he would visit. They are now back to normal.) We have long written and spoken about the need for middle and low cost housing for the folks who are just plain working people to no avail. So they go further and further into debt. A used car in Israel will sell for two or three times what it will bring in the US. But here's the rub. You cannot import used cars for sale. This all brings a sense of hopeless futility to the Israelis. They work hard, endure the ever present threat of war, knife and gun attacks and a society that has the very rich and the poor. And Israelis are yet some of the most gracious, steadfast and hard-working folks you will ever meet. One of our early neighbors in the apartment building above had moved to Israel from Palm Springs, California. They made aliyia, became citizens, received a ton of benefits from the government early on. Later they used what savings they had to purchase an apartment of their own. It was run down, and they spent everything they had on renovations, worked hard, and struggled. Finally they faced the facts. They could not make it in Israel. That meant moving back to the States. The great experiment was over. Thankfully they are now doing well. But the sad facts were that the system did not help these wonderful people. Recently Simona Weinglass did a piece on housing and the cost of food. As you prepare for Thanksgiving in America we thought you might appreciate it. By Simona Weinglass Work hard at something people want or need, and with a little luck and ability your financial circumstances will improve over time. That's been the social contract in many Western nations for the last half century or so. But in Israel, as elsewhere, things have begun to change. A recent study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel found that real wages among non-government employees were similar to those in 2001, even though labor productivity rose 15 percent over the same period. In other words, the average worker has no more buying power than a decade and a half ago, despite producing 15% more. Gilad Brand, author of the study, told The Times of Israel that these stagnant real wages are not because employers are failing to increase pay, but because two items have become disproportionately more expensive in Israel in the last decade and a half: housing and food. “It's very fashionable to say our wages are not rising, as if employers had taken the fruits of growth for themselves,” Brand said. “That's true in some countries, but in Israel it's primarily due to the increased cost of housing and, to a lesser extent, food.” Indeed, housing prices have risen 114% since 2007, and rents rose by 50%, while food prices have increased by 26% during a period of time when inflation as a whole was only 18%. But if you drill down, said Brand, the real dividing line in Israeli society is between those who own their homes and those who do not. “People who own their own apartment, and certainly those who bought their apartment before the big price spike that started in 2007, are doing okay. Their mortgage payments are low because of the low interest rates, and the high rents don't concern them because they don't pay rent.” In fact, Brand points to a Bank of Israel paper from 2012 that showed apartment owners increasing their consumption in recent years while renters decreased their consumption. “There is a pretty dramatic shift. The rise in apartment prices has really changed the distribution of income in the economy.” As far as food is concerned, Brand says one reason for the spike in prices is due to food import restrictions imposed by the Health Ministry in 2004 after two babies died from consuming vitamin-deficient Remedia formula made in Germany. He believes another reason to be the purchase of the Club Market supermarket chain by Shufersal in 2006, as well as the 2007 purchase of a 56% stake in the Tnuva food manufacturer by the London-based Apax Partners investment firm, which led to a more aggressive pricing strategy. “The food market is very concentrated. There are not a lot of imports and those that do come are through a small number of importers.” Brand points out that in 2008 food prices rose all over the world, including Israel, but when prices fell globally, they did not fall here. Even after the 2011 social justice protests, which were nominally launched over the high price of cottage cheese, there was a slight dip in food prices but they then resumed their rise, said Brand. “High food prices are like a regressive tax,” he said. “Families with lower incomes spend a higher percentage of their income on food, and are more sensitive to rises in food prices.” Meanwhile, the rise in apartment prices adversely affects those who don't own a home already or haven't accumulated enough capital for a down payment. In Israel, where the typical down payment is 40% and an average apartment costs close to 1.5 million shekels ($390,000), accumulating enough money to purchase a home is a daunting task for the 32% of Israelis who don't currently own one. The result, said Brand, is a society where financial benefits go to those who already have capital, whether in the form of an apartment or savings. But if you haven't accrued capital, your chances of doing so are small, he said. This upends the notion of social mobility, the idea that the average person can improve their financial circumstances through hard work and talent. “The cost of living is so high it's hard for a typical family to save much, and even if they do the interest rates are so low they won't earn much on their savings,” said Brand. “If you already have capital, you're fine, but if you don't,” he noted wryly, “you can always hope for an inheritance — or winning the lottery.” More ...
clip_image002 Amona's entrance. “On Monday evening, opposition leader Isaac Herzog warned it sets the stage for nothing less than “national suicide,” while Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett championed it as paving the path to expanding Israeli sovereignty into the West Bank.” (Times of Israel) The so called Regulation Bill isn't law – yet – and not in any final form, but it is already getting lots of hearts hopeful and some more than a little resentful. It's all about Israel annexing parts of the West Bank – Samaria and Judea. In other words turning it into Israel proper. With police and certain IDF units even now training to evict the citizens of the settlement Amona, to be followed by others, this is important stuff. Even if you live outside Israel and love the Israelis. We saw what could happen when then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in August of 2005, decided to evacuate the Gaza Strip and turn it over to the Palestinian Authority. The scenes of people on rooftops fighting off soldiers and police with buckets of paint and water, tears on the faces of young IDF troops who obeyed orders and hated doing it. And of course the people who had built homes in the Strip with government permission and in some cases even help were now being forced to leave. Homes, farms, businesses – everything. The government said they would find them new homes, compensate them, and life would be good somewhere else. Today some are still waiting for that. And the crops. Greenhouses had been built to provide much of the produce for Israel proper. When the Israelis left, those were supposed to be handed over to Palestinian growers who would continue to raise crops. What actually happened was virtual total devastation. Copper was stripped to be sold as recycled materials. Water pipes, often pvc, were stolen and used in Palestinian construction elsewhere. The plastic sheeting for the greenhouses was cut into manageable pieces and taken elsewhere in Gaza for use by the ones who went on the rampage. It was bad. But even worse was in 2007 when Hamas held their own coup in Gaza killing or running off the PA security forces of the Fatah. Then it became blood in the streets and a watershed of terrorism to plague Israel. In the West Bank it won't be quite the same, but don't for a moment think that the Israelis have forgotten Gaza. Amona is a peaceful cluster of house trailers gathered on a hill not very far from Jerusalem. In the near distance is an Arab town. We have been to both and spoken to people from both places. They have their own perspectives, as you can imagine, but that doesn't mean there have been wars between the two groups. An Arab loses a burro, an Israeli finds him and return him. It's happened and the appreciation is genuine. The citizens here are :religious” people. They and I had some interesting conversations about the Bible while I was there. They are not zealots in the traditional sense. They want left alone to live in peace, but don't think they aren't stubborn. They are Jews, you know. The following from The Times of Israel: Amid the cacophony of claims and counterclaims, here's an overview of what it will mean, who it will affect, and whether it will stand. 1. What does the new legislation bill say? The bill — if it passes three more readings in the Knesset and is not subsequently struck down by the Supreme Court — would legalize housing units built by settlers on private Palestinian land, if the construction was carried out in good faith: If the settlers did not know that the land they were building on was privately owned by Palestinians, and received some kind of assistance from the state, they would be allowed to remain there. The proposed legislation notes that government support may be explicit or implicit, from the start or post-facto, and that the backing of local municipalities is considered state support. The bill, sponsored by Jewish Home MKs Betzalel Smotrich and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Likud MKs David Bitan and Yoav Kisch, allows the government to appropriate land for its own use if the owners are unknown. If the owners are known, they will be eligible for yearly damages amounting to 125 percent of the value of leasing the land or a larger financial package valued at 20 years' worth of leasing the plots, or alternate plots. clip_image004 MKs vote during a Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice, Committee meeting regarding the so-called Regulation Bill, November 30, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90) The legislation explicitly refers to structures in three settlements that have been subject to legal efforts to demolish buildings constructed on private land — Eli, Netiv HaAvot and Ofra. It says that all administrative proceedings in these three settlements will be frozen with the enactment of the law, and within the first 12 months, the government must determine whether these structures were built in good faith and with government assistance. If they were, the Regulation Law will apply to these areas as well. “In many cases, settlements were built in agreed-upon areas, and were even encouraged or built in coordination with the state, or were built in good faith by the Israeli residents, who were unaware that this was privately-owned land,” the bill states. “Leaving the situation as is in these settlements or their destruction is liable to seriously, unjustifiably harm those who have lived there for many years. Therefore, the regulation of these settlements is necessary.” 2. The bill passed a preliminary reading on Monday. What are the chances that it will eventually make it into law? Even if the bill makes it through the first, second and third readings, many analysts believe that the Supreme Court will eventually rule that the law is unconstitutional. Israel's attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, has warned that the bill breaches local and international law, and indicated that he would not be able to defend it before the Supreme Court. 3. If it clears all obstacles, including the Supreme Court, would it mean that the 40 families currently living in the Amona outpost will be allowed to stay put? No, according to a Supreme Court ruling, the 20-year-old settlement must be evacuated by December 25, as it was established on privately owned Palestinian land. The Regulation Law would not retroactively apply to Amona. Rather, a compromise reached Monday would have the residents relocated temporarily to three plots of absentee property on the same hill. These lands are currently administered by Israel's Custodian for Absentees' Property. The settlers will be allowed to “remain a community,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday during the weekly faction meeting of his Likud party. “They will be required to move a few tens of meters, maybe 100 or 180 meters, but they will be able to stay in the same place.” 4. What about other “illegal outposts”? US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the Regulation Law would legalize more than 50 outposts, in addition to 31 that either have already been either legalized or are in the process of being legalized. How are they affected? According to Peace Now, the Regulation Bill would not only retroactively legalize 55 illegal outposts by turning them into state-sanctioned settlements, but also open the door for the legalization of 3,125 housing units inside existing settlements by expropriating 5,014 dunams of private Palestinian land. 5. Why does Attorney General Mandelblit warn it breaches international law? To answer this question it is instructive to recall how Likud MK Benny Begin — a strong supporter of the settlement enterprise — dubbed the bill, “the stealing law.” Expropriating private Palestinian land for the benefit of Jewish settlers can only be considered a “land-grab,” Begin said, vowing to vote against the bill. The EU's Mogherini phrased it more diplomatically: If passed, the law would “allow for the ex-post legalization of Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank” and would enable the “confiscation of the private property rights of Palestinian land owners in the West Bank for the benefit of settlers.” Either way you put it, the opposition is to the idea of taking away a person's land because someone else lives on it. The bill's current version no longer includes a controversial clause that would have allowed the overriding of a High Court ruling requiring Amona's demolition. This makes the bill more palatable for the center-right Kulanu party, which had said it would not back a law that could be seen as undermining the High Court of Justice. But Mandelblit opposes the most recent version as well, which suggests that, if passed, it may not survive a challenge in the High Court. From the point of view of international law, too, the current version of the Regulation Bill remains highly problematic. The specter of charges against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court, invoked recently by none other than Netanyahu himself, will continue to accompany the debate over the law. Jerusalem argues that The Hague has no jurisdiction over the area, but the “State of Palestine” has been admitted as a full member of the court and asked the prosecutor to investigate Israel crimes committed on its territory, among them the “transfer” of settlers to the West Bank. A preliminary examination into the “situation in Palestine” is ongoing and the passing of a bill sanctioning the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank will not play in Israel's favor. Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (C), on the steps of the International Criminal Court after answering questions of reporters in The Hague, June 25, 2015. (AP Pclip_image006 “Seizing private Palestinian land, which hasn't been done before, certainly aggravates these claims,” said Robbie Sabel, a former legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry. On the other hand, if Jerusalem can prove that it was willing to compensate the Palestinian landowners rather than evict the Jewish settlers, this could ameliorate the decision, Sabel added. This is known as the Cyprus model. Legal scholars argue over whether Israeli settlements in the West Bank fall under the category of war crimes as defined by the Geneva Convention, and can be considered a “mass atrocity” justifying the ICC's involvement. But either way, the Regulation Law does not improve Israel's case. 6. Education Minister Bennett, the head of the far-right Jewish Home party, is hailing the Regulation Bill as a revolution that paves the way for Israel's annexation of the West Bank. Is this true? Even some opponents of the legislation would agree with Bennett. The Knesset is not the sovereign legislature in the West Bank, which Israel has never formally annexed (except for the land captured in 1967 that falls within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem). Therefore, they argue, passing laws regulating property issues in the territories is a step toward applying Israeli law there, in other words: a step toward annexation. On the other hand, the current government remains committed to the two-state solution, at least on paper. Two weeks ago, the government issued a joint statement with visiting Polish ministers, in which it pledged allegiance to “the belief that a just and lasting solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict must and can be reached only based on the principle of two States for two peoples.” Netanyahu has reiterated on several occasions that he opposes a one-state solution and remains committed to the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. A peace agreement seems remote, but so, for now, does an Israeli annexation of the West Bank or parts of it. 7. But is this a victory for Bennett and the settlement movement over the more wary Netanyahu? A law that could retroactively legalize dozens of illegal outposts across the West Bank and turn them into legitimate localities under Israeli law cannot be seen as anything but a major achievement for the settlement movement. The 40 families living in Amona object to the compromise that calls for them to be relocated, but given the kosher stamp the new law would give to so many other outposts, the vast majority of settlers are in favor of the law. Netanyahu has to brace for international criticism, but he, too, has reason to consider himself a winner: He will finally have something to show his right-wing base, which often accuses him of not building enough in the territories. If the Regulation Bill passes, he could claim to have helped further entrench Jewish communities across the West Bank. Not incidentally, Netanyahu and Bennett also avoided a coalition crisis and can now continue to govern — at least until the next crisis, which may come sooner rather than later as the Knesset starts voting on the 2017-18 state budget later this month. If the Supreme Court then strikes it down, as some suggest it is likely to do, the domestic critics will be relieved, the law's supporters will fume, the coalition will have bought some time, and further confrontation over the vexed issue is likely to continue to dominate the agenda. 8. What happens on the ground now? Are there other efforts still in play to save Amona? The residents of Amona reject the compromise solution the coalition has found, calling the temporary plots of absentee property designated for them a “ghetto” that does not fulfill their community's needs. In a letter published Monday evening, representatives of the 40 families insist that they are not resigned to their fate and are calling on all supporters of the settlement enterprise to come to Amona and “stand by our site.” clip_image008 An injured settler is arrested by border policemen during clashes in the West Bank outpost of Amona on January 1, 2006. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90) “We are sure that as soon as [Israel's political] leaders see the public's mobilization they will come to their senses,” the letter states. “Amona won't fall a second time,” the missive concludes, alluding to the 2006 demolition of nine houses built illegally on private Palestinian land, which turned violent. Settler leaders says they oppose violence, but encourage civil obedience; whether the looming evacuation of Amona will produce equally ugly scenes or go over relatively calmly is anyone's guess at this point. 9. How is the international community going to react? Even if the High Court ends up striking down the law, its mere passing in the Knesset will most likely trigger a hailstorm of condemnation. It is unclear, however, if Israel will have to fear tangible repercussions. The EU might consider limited sanctions — such as restricting trade with companies based in the settlements — but Europe currently has many other pressing issues and might decide that a sharply worded statement will suffice. The US administration could use the passing of the Regulation Law as a pretext to back a Palestine-related move at the UN Security Council, though Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that Washington will continue to oppose “any resolution that is unfair and biased against Israel.” Outgoing President Barack Obama is said to have been mulling various steps to cement his legacy on the peace process, but “there's been no decision made about any kind of step that may or may not be taken in that regard,” Kerry said.More ...
clip_image001 On this map of Lebanon, we'll point out a couple of areas of general interest to you. In the lower part is the Litani River. When Israel went into Lebanon in the early 1980s and left a few years later, the agreement was that from the river south was to belong to the Christian Lebanese. The idea being that they were allied to Israel and would protect Israel's northern border. That did not happen, Hezbollah moving into the area and building a very strong complex of bunkers and caves, and eventually their troubling Israel led to the 2006-07 Lebanese war. Upper right on the map is the Bekaa Valley. This too is a Hezbollah stronghold, and with its common border with Syria allows weapons to enter Lebanon. Syria and Iran both regularly utilize this pathway. It was rumored before the Iraqi was that Saddam had moved much of his wealth as well as weapons of mass destruction into the area, hiding it all in the many caves there. We have done quite a bit of research on this and the jury is still out. We have spoken to those who swear to seeing it and to others who say they were there and never saw anything. The nation is divided up between Hezbollah, Sunni Palestinians (mostly in camps) and Lebanese Christians, though many of the latter moved to Israel when the Israeli army left to return home. Being elected President of Lebanon is commensurate to wearing a target on your back. Politics is often little different that a series of assassinations, bombs and snipers. Syria under Assad held sway for a while, but now Iran's long term proxy army, Hezbollah is in power, either directly or indirectly. Recently INSS issued a briefing on the area that we feel might be of interest to those of you who study the Middle East. Near the end of the briefing INSS states that the US might bring in weapons to get involved in Lebanon. We sincerely hope not. It is almost certain that any weapons would eventually end up in the hands of Hezbollah. We prefer that the US would withdraw from Syria as well, since the players are almost without exception a morass of conflicting loyalties. For those who say that means leaving Assad in power, we answer, “So What?” Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died at the hands of all armed groups. Israel and its allies (declared and undeclared like Jordan and Egypt) all know Assad. To our way of thinking it is “the devil we know” as opposed to the devil we do not. Enjoy the read: On October 31, 2016, following a prolonged crisis that paralyzed Lebanon's political system for two and a half years, General Michel Aoun was elected president. Aoun entered the presidential palace in Baabda after an agreement was reached that constituted a victory for Hezbollah and the March 8 Alliance over its opponents in the March 14 Alliance, led by Saad Hariri, head of the Future Movement. Two weeks later, on November 13, 2016, Hezbollah held a military demonstration at al-Qusayr in Syria, not far from the border with Lebanon. The timing and place were no accident. Al-Qusayr, located on the road halfway between Homs in Syria and Tripoli in Lebanon, is a symbol of the organization's military success in Syria following its important victory there in 2013 – a victory marking Hezbollah's publicly acknowledged intervention in the fighting on the side of the Assad regime and its position as a “defender of Lebanon” controlling an external envelope along the border with Syria. The demonstration was held on the organization's “Shahid Day,” one week before Lebanon's Independence Day. With the end of the political crisis and the events in Syria, Hezbollah's demonstration of power– intentionally or not – sent a dual message: to Lebanon, and to regional and international actors. In the internal Lebanese sphere, Hezbollah has triumphed in its long political struggle. Since May 2014, there has been no president in Lebanon, after the Lebanese parliament failed to appoint a replacement for outgoing President Suleiman. Hezbollah has consistently supported the candidacy of Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement and an important ally of the March 8 camp. The March 14 camp first supported the candidacy of Lebanese Forces Party leader Samir Geagea, then switched its support to Suleiman Frangieh, and finally bowed to pressure from Hezbollah, after realizing that time was working in favor of Hezbollah, which was consolidating its ruling status in Lebanon. The March 14 camp agreed to support Aoun in return for the appointment of Hariri to another term as Prime Minister. Hezbollah's persistence over such a long period while forcing its rivals' hand demonstrates its endurance and patience, which were ultimately rewarded by the results it sought from the outset. Hezbollah's achievement also constitutes an additional blow to Saudi Arabia in its struggle with Iran over influence in Lebanon. The strengthening of Iran's Shiite satellite in Lebanon reinforces Iran's grip on the region. Throughout the crisis Hezbollah refrained from using military means, preferring a political solution that incurred no risk of escalation and a civil war. Becoming the “defender of Lebanon” and exercising control of the border between Lebanon and Syria in response to the activity of the Salafist jihad organizations has given Hezbollah unprecedented status, which it could have used to take over the government and law enforcement institutions. Hezbollah preferred, however, to wait for victory on the political field – a reflection of its caution in using its leverage within the country and desire to avoid a violent internal conflict. Having proven its political power, at al-Qusayr Hezbollah paraded its military power and supremacy over the Lebanese state security forces (Western weapons may have been selected for the demonstration of force precisely for that reason). The demonstration likewise supplied further justification for Hezbollah's involvement in Syria in the name of the defense of Lebanon against the war spreading to its territory. This justification is essential to Hezbollah, due to the severe criticism it received in Lebanon for its intervention in Syria. Hezbollah's Sunni and Christian rivals asserted that Hezbollah's involvement in the war in Syria would draw the war into their country and drag Lebanon into a bloodbath. Opinions are not even uniform within the Shite community. The heavy casualties damaged the support for Hezbollah and its policy (although the criticism was kept within the community, and solidarity was outwardly observed). In this context, a demonstration of strength such as the one in al-Qusayr is an important boost to the Shiite community. The demonstration was also a precedent at the regional and international levels. This is the first time that Hezbollah highlighted its military power outside of Lebanon, other than on the battlefield. Such an event conducted by a non-state power on foreign soil is no routine matter. In addition to the symbolic significance of al-Qusayr, recent developments in Syria and in the international campaign are forcing Hezbollah to maintain its role and status in the war in Syria. The intense battles in Aleppo require massive input from the coalition supporting Assad, comprising Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. The conquest of Aleppo by the pro-Syrian coalition will fortify Assad's status as the sole ruling option. The Syrian backbone from Aleppo to Damascus, in which al-Qusayr occupies a key position, is the most stable ground for Assad, and supremacy there, achieved to a great extent with the help of Hezbollah, is maintained. In the background, US President-elect Donald Trump is hinting that he wants to the hand the “Syrian file” to Russia, so it is possible that Hezbollah's demonstration of force is also aimed at Russia, with an eye to the day after Assad regains control of Syria. The use of American equipment in the Hezbollah demonstration has figured in most of the responses in Lebanese discourse. The sight of Hezbollah soldiers on M-113 armored personnel carriers (APCs) has led this debate to the obvious conclusion that the arms that the United States supplies to the Lebanese army are sent on to Hezbollah. This is no surprise to any of the parties, but it is sometimes necessary “to see in order to believe.” Hezbollah's military dominance, not just outwardly, but also in preserving order in Lebanon, has weakened the status of the state security forces and blurred the boundaries between the state forces and the Shiite organization to the extent that some believe that Hezbollah controls the Lebanese army. This challenges the position in the United States and European countries such as France and Italy that the Lebanese army should be strengthened in order to change the internal Lebanese balance of power and weaken Hezbollah's influence. Realization of this situation – that supporting the Lebanese army and government means strengthening Hezbollah – led Saudi Arabia to suspend its aid to Lebanon in early 2016. The Lebanese army, which understood what this meant and was eager to preserve American support, sought to reassure the United States by claiming that it was not the source of the weapons featured at al-Qusayr. According to another report, the APCs displayed proudly by Hezbollah were captured from the South Lebanese Army supported by Israel before its demise in 2000. The lack of clarity about how the aid given to Lebanon was used and the concern that this aid finds its way to Hezbollah could confront the West, especially the new US administration, with a substantial dilemma concerning continued aid to the Lebanese military. In conclusion, Hezbollah currently has the advantage over its enemies in Lebanon. Its power and rule – direct and indirect – over events in the country are undisputed. At the present time, there is no political or military power able to challenge Hezbollah in Lebanon. Its power, however, can also be its weak point. Realization by the new United States administration that aid to Lebanon in effect constitutes aid to Hezbollah – even if the understanding has yet to sink in – could lead to reconsideration of economic and military aid to Lebanon, despite the end of the political crisis in the country. This is likely to have a negative impact on the country's economy and the stability of its institutions, thereby arousing widespread unrest against Hezbollah and strengthening the opposition to it – with an emphasis on the radical Sunni element. This is currently a remote possibility, but developments in this direction are also liable to bring about a conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, should Hezbollah decide that such a conflict will be useful in the Lebanese theater. At the present time, Hezbollah is acting very cautiously and is unwilling to risk escalation with Israel or the destabilization of Lebanon. From Hezbollah's perspective, its leading interest now is fortifying the Assad regime in Syria and strengthening the Iranian axis stretching from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut. More ...
clip_image002 Facebook has been filled with photos and video of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beside an Israeli Air Force officer as they apply an Israel Star to the fuselage of a shiny new F-35 fighter. Two of fifty destined for Israel arrived this week, just before Bibi went to visit Azerbaijan. It won't hurt his creds any that he now has two jets capable of sneaking into Iran should the need arrive. Of course there will be weeks of training for the crews, technicians, etc. before the stealth fighters go on the flight line, but suffice it to say that there has to be some real concern in Iran. Add to their worries the fact that there's a new sheriff about to take over in the United States. One who doesn't base his legacy on photo ops and hashmarks. With warrior generals in the Defense Department and Homeland Security, things just aren't as smooth for the mullahs as they used to be. Trump is already working on the “art of the deal” as he has announced that the fighters are costing the US too much – the same thing he said to Boeing about the new Air Force Ones. Before you get too crazy about the comments, remember that this is a man who knows how to negotiate business deals. You begin just exactly as one does in the shuq – you decry the cost of whatever you want to purchase. That begins the conversation. Then you get down to the bargaining, eventually reaching a point where both the seller and the buyer feels that they got the best deal. But, back to the F-35. There are some things that you might not know about the plane, and we have some details on that: It's the costliest plane ever built by Lockheed Martin. They are costing Israel about $110 million each. There are numbers all over the place, but so far it looks like Israel will be buying between 35 and 50 of the planes. And yes, here's how that works. The US gives Israel somewhere around $4B in foreign aid. Those dollars then come back to the US in arms deals and for other materials. No other nation has the jets, or even so far has a deal on getting them. As in the Egyptian jet deal of F-16s and F-18s a few years ago, the planes will lack some of the software and bells and whistles that US military jets will have, but Israel is no slacker when it comes to these things and will be installing their own super-secret technology into the cockpits. As with most things military, it gets a name. In this case “Adir” which means ‘mighty' in Hebrew. There are three models, the A, B and Cs. A is for standard land take-off and landing, while the B and C will work on aircraft carriers. The Israeli version is understandably, the F-35I. And its sneaky. The Mach 1.6 (1200 MPH) jet is fully stealth capable, and can carry 9 tons of armaments, unless it is in full stealth mode, in which case that is reduced due to the necessity of not having some things hanging off the outside. For those of you in Buck Rogers mode, the super high tech helmet costs about $400,000 each. It has its own separate operating system that prints info on the visor ! - and sends it elsewhere. Thermal and night vision and a – get this! – a 360 degree view sent from cameras mounted around the jet. Someone once said that it is not the message alone, but who delivers the message that matters. In this case, Israel is sending a message that having half a hundred stealth fighters like these should make Iran take note. And not only Iran. What with ISIS trying to move closer to the Israel and Jordan northern borders, there can be a world of hurt on them if they decide to attack either country. I remind you that Israel would quickly come to the aid of its eastern neighbor if called on.More ...
clip_image002 With the look of an angry raptor, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn has been one of my favorites in the military intelligence community for a long time. His last job was as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. President Obama broomed him because he wouldn't toe the mark like so many of the current Pentagon brass. As some of our readers know, who also read our Jake Crabtree series of adventure novels, Jake and his father before him were DIA agents. I've taken some of the intel leaders to task on these pages for their surrender to stand strong for the US and our allies. That was nowhere more obvious that in the Benghazi debacle. But now there's a new man headed to the White House. Hopefully one who loves the military, America and is willing to take a strong stand against terrorists rather than bring the Muslim Brotherhood thugs into the White House, Homeland Security and other areas. The AP has written an article on Flynn, to which we will add some of our own thoughts: WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general and intelligence officer who is Donald Trump's pick to serve as his national security adviser, is a harsh critic of Muslim extremism and the religion itself, calling “radical Islam” an existential threat to the United States. In strident speeches and public comments, including a fiery address at the Republican National Convention, Flynn has aggressively argued that Islamic State militants pose a threat on a global scale and demanded a far more aggressive U.S. military campaign against the group. In a June interview with CNN, Flynn complained the US needs to “discredit” radical Islam, but that “we're not allowed to do that right now.” But his comments about Islam, a religion practiced by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, have at times gone beyond condemning radicals inside the faith. [EDM: For years both the Obama regime and their lapdog media outlets have endlessly told us that Islam is a peaceful religion. And we know some peaceful Muslims personally. But it is also a religion of virulent and disgusting terror and murder, from Honor Killings of family members who seem to have brought shame on a family to bombings, killings on US soil of people in gun free zones and beheadings. [Gen. Flynn is only stating what we all know who are honest enough to admit it. The world's terrorist organizations of today are Muslim.] In Flynn's book, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies,” he condemned U.S. leaders who have called Islam a religion of peace. “This insistence on denying the existence of jihad led President Obama to the absurd claim that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam,” Flynn wrote. In August, he spoke at an event in Dallas hosted by the anti-Islamist group Act for America, calling Islam a “cancer” and a “political ideology” that “definitely hides behind being a religion.” [EDM: in the paragraph above, the phrase “anti-Islamist” is used as a pejorative. That is supposed to discredit them in the readers' minds. It has the opposite effect on many, though I actually do not know anything about the group. The fact that they stand against terrorism does not discredit them in my mind.] Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group based in California, said in a statement that Flynn's appointment “signals support for anti-Muslim policies and sentiment that will undermine our nation's security and exacerbate an already unsafe climate for Muslims and all Americans.” [EDM: This paragraph is nonsense. Flynn has worked with Muslims in the past and there is little doubt that he will do so in the future, but AP must have its say.] The role of national security adviser has varied by administration, but usually centers on coordinating the policy positions of the secretaries of state, defense, justice and other members of a president's national security team. It is an especially powerful position because of the national security adviser's access to the president in the West Wing of the White House. The adviser acts as a gatekeeper on a wide range of issues, including matters of war and peace as well as diplomacy and intelligence. Flynn, who turns 58 in December, served for more than three decades in the Army following his commissioning in 1981 as a second lieutenant in military intelligence. His career included a stint as director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and intelligence chief for the US-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. It ended, however, when he was forced to resign from his post as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 after two turbulent years leading the Pentagon's top spy agency. After leaving the agency, Flynn became a harsh critic of the Obama administration's prosecution of the fight against the Islamic State group and emerged as one of Trump's most vocal backers. Throughout the campaign, Flynn championed many of Trump's foreign policy provisions, including renegotiating a seven-country agreement with Iran aimed at curbing its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions. Yet while Flynn has publicly issued dark warnings about the risks of Islamic violence, his private consulting firm has lobbied for a company headed by a Turkish businessman tied to Turkey's authoritarian, Islamist-leaning government, which cracked down on dissent and jailed thousands of opponents after a failed coup in July against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The businessman, Ekim Alptekin, told The Associated Press on Friday that he had no relationship with Erdogan's government, even though he is member of a Turkish foreign economic relations board managed by the country's Economic Ministry. [EDM: if Flynn can work with a Turkish business man then he is obviously not TOO anti-Muslim.] In an op-ed for the Washington newspaper The Hill just before the election, Flynn wrote that Turkey needs support and echoed Erdogan's warnings that a “shady” Turkish Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania should not be given safe harbor in the US. Erdogan has accused the cleric, Fethullah Gullen, of orchestrating the July coup attempt and called for his extradition. The Obama administration has not complied. Alptekin said Friday that Flynn's editorial supporting Erdogan was not connected to his company's lobbying or the Turkish government. “The Turkish government did not order that,” he said. The Flynn Intel Group also lobbied Congress even as Flynn joined Trump in a presidential intelligence briefing in August — a possible security misstep, according to several ethics law experts. “If the general was receiving classified information that could affect his business interests, that would be an obvious concern,” said Joe Sandler, a campaign ethics lawyer and expert on the law that requires lobbyists for foreign governments to register their activities. Sandler and others also questioned why Flynn's firm registered as lobbyists with Congress instead of the Justice Department's stricter Foreign Agent unit, which requires more detailed reporting of activities under the federal Foreign Agent Registration Act. “If a foreign entity is lobbying Congress with the aim of influencing US policy, they're required to file under the foreign agent act,” said Lydia Bennett, an expert in foreign agent work with the non-partisan Project on Government Oversight in Washington. Flynn's consulting group registered with Congress as a lobbyist in September for Inovo BV, a company Alptekin set up in the Netherlands in 2005. Alptekin said the lobbying project was designed to support an energy firm that he declined to identify. Alptekin said a lobbyist for Flynn's firm, Robert Kelley, had suggested it aim to improve US-Turkish relations as part of its work for the energy firm. [EDM: Today Turkey is on the verge of becoming a radical Muslim country in the image of the Shia Iran. Erdogan is changing law after law which allow him to become another dictator, even though the nation was established as a secular nation. Any influence the US can bring to bear that might slow that down or even reverse it would be welcome.] Kelley and Flynn Intel Group did not respond to calls and emails from the AP, and the Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment. Flynn said in a statement Kelley provided to Yahoo News that “if I return to government service, my relationship with my company will be severed.” [EDM: Pardon me from smiling at the above paragraph. Why anyone would reply to the AP is beyond me. They are but one more of the sycophants we have seen in the mainstream media that is growing more and more anti-US in recent years.]More ...
We have suffered another health challenge and are forced to go for another sabbatical until further notice.More ...
clip_image001clip_image002 While Donald Trump was trouncing Hillary, and the Donald and Bibi are making nice, there are some more silent activities going on in the Middle East. The octogenarian Mahmoud Abbas is running out his string and so Arab nations are working on who will take his place as the Palestinian President. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan are already planning who will take over the leadership of the Palestinians. What is interesting is that the Palestinians aren't saying a lot about the fact that outsiders think they can play king maker for their little slice of the Middle East. In fact over the past year and a half more than one of Abbas's people has been heard grumbling that the Arab States don't care about them. One wonders if they need a safe place and a safety pin like many liberals on America's campuses. When one discusses leadership, it is good to remember that there are a lot of players. The Palestine Liberation Organization – one of the world's biggest terrorist groups under Arafat is the old guy network. Then of course there is the Palestinian Legislative Counsel. This group is actually led by the Gaza terrorists in Hamas, thanks to the last real election almost a decade ago. They don't count for anything since the big split between the Fatah (Abbas's guys) and Hamas. During the brief civil war, Gaza fell to Hamas and Fatah took over the West Bank areas and locked up a bunch of Hamas leaders. Some are still there. And finally there is the Palestinian Authority, or as they like to call it, The Palestinian State. Confused yet? Don't be. Think of it as the Sioux nation against the Comanche Indians. It is tribal at its most elementary. And the Palestinians are correct about one fact. The Arab states don't really like the Palestinians, considering them a lot of ne'er do wells full of corruption and making trouble while they have enough problems from the so called Arab Spring, which has now after eight years of Obama become an Arab Winter. Syria is a massive killing field. Iran runs Iraq. ISIS is in thirty nations to one degree or another. And Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the rest are quaking because Iran is still working toward nukes. So why worry about the Palestinian Presidency? Because if there can be an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that really works, then the Arab nations can take away the prime argument against working with Israel against a common enemy – ISIS. ENTER (RE-ENTER) DAHLAN The Arab trio has a plan which includes, according to one writer: • unite and bolster Fatah for the forthcoming elections with Hamas • weaken Hamas by dividing it into competing factions • conclude a peace agreement with Israel with the backing of Arab states • seize control of sovereign Palestinian institutions, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), the PLO chairmanship and leadership of Fatah • choreograph the return of Dahlan as the power behind the throne of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) So if these three countries are prepared to cast their lot with a man who was brought along by Yasser Arafat and trained and promoted by US General Keith Dayton as he followed his orders to train Yasser Arafat's security forces. The idea then was to train Arafat's terrorist army, brought into Israel under the 1993 Oslo Accord. As told by one reporter, “In 2000, Dahlan participated in the Camp David negotiations and Israeli leaders saw him as someone they could do business with. As head of one of the main Palestinian security organizations, Mr. Dahlan also negotiated with Israeli officials to try to arrange a ceasefire several times after the most recent Intifada erupted in September 2000. With the beginning of the second intifada, Dahlan claimed that he was unable to stop the activities of such militant groups as Hamas.” As the US led security training developed, Dahlan became not only Arafat's darling – he had followed the head terrorist since he was a teenager – but was given control of the security forces in Gaza. “After being left out of the new Palestinian Authority cabinet, Dahlan began gathering support from low-level Fatah officials and former Preventive Security Service officers in response to a perceived lack of democratic reforms among Fatah leaders. In 2004, Dahlan was the driving force behind week-long unrests in Gaza following the appointment of Yasser Arafat's nephew Mousa Arafat, widely accused of corruption, as head of Gaza police forces. Some thought this appointment was a deliberate step to weaken Dahlan's position before the disengagement process in the Gaza Strip and sparked massive protests. When more fighting in Gaza erupted, a squad of masked men attacked “Moose's” home, killing him and leaving the security apparatus leaderless and fomented a constant battle between Hamas and Fatah. Dahlan ruled with a steel fist there until the 2007 civil war between Hamas and Fatah. During the Gaza war he was suddenly sent to Egypt to undergo “knee surgery.” Later he returned to the West Bank, played a part in security there, and when Arafat died and was replaced by Abbas, continued on. But Abbas, ever mindful of men who could uproot him and his greedy pals finally decided that Dahlan had to go. It was in the mid-2000s that Abbas had people circulate rumors about Dahlan's thievery (which were no doubt true. Most of the inner circle are extremely corrupt). Abbas even went so far as to have Dahlan's brother killed and then raided Dahlan's home, confiscating everything there and forcing Dahlan to flee for his life. He went to Montenegro, Dubai and other Arab states. THE PLAN (According to “The Middle East Eye”) Before presidential and legislative elections can be held this year in which Abbas could be removed, a replacement appointed and an agreement reached with Israel, a series of steps would have to be taken. The first is to achieve reconciliation within the Fatah movement. “Dahlan believes that Hamas is weaker than Fatah in Gaza and that Fatah is weaker than Hamas in the West Bank and that Fatah could win if it were to be united, whereas Hamas is likely to win if Fatah remains disunited,” the senior Palestinian source said. “Dahlan believes that two options are available for accomplishing this: either Abu Mazen [Abbas] resigns, and this is unlikely, or that Jordan would lead the reconciliation between Dahlan and Abbas under the banner of bolstering Fatah.” The second step would be to agree with Hamas on holding presidential and legislative elections. The third would be to “reshape” the PA in the pre-election period. “The parties [the UAE, Jordan and Egypt] believe that Mahmoud Abbas has expired politically and that they should endeavour to stop any surprises by Abbas during the period when Fatah will remain under his leadership until the elections are held,” the same source said. “It is within this framework that they stress ‘on the necessity of pushing Abu Mazen to appoint a deputy'.” Not keen to present himself as a candidate for the presidency “at this stage,” Dahlan is said by these sources to be seeking the post of parliamentary speaker, a position from which he believes he can control the presidency. Dahlan wants former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser al-Qudwa for the post of president, although the Israelis prefer Ahmed Qurei (Abu Alaa). Dahlan claims to be able to influence both. [Qurei is an old Arafat pal, as corrupt as they come, but no doubt Israel has something big on him and feel they could control him to some degree. EDM] “Dahlan believes that the leading positions can be divided into three: Fatah leader, Palestinian Authority president and PLO chairman. He does not object to Jordan nominating whoever they deem appropriate for these positions,” the source said. “After submitting his options and personal preferences, Dahlan says that the matter is subject to dialogue and discussion with the Jordanians and the Emirates and that it would be possible to deal with names proposed by Jordan.” Dahlan wants both parliamentary and presidential elections conducted in the name of “the state of Palestine” rather than under the banner of the Palestinian Legislative Council, which is dominated by Hamas, or the PA. In Dahlan's view, this arrangement would strengthen the PLO against the PA, and bypass the issue of the Palestinian Charter. [This is a page from his old mentor Arafat's book: Divide the power positions up, plot one against the other, and at the same time control them. EDM] The fourth step in this plan is to “subjugate Hamas”. This, in Dahlan's view, could be achieved in several ways: by dividing Hamas into a national faction inside Gaza and an international one linked to the International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood; by containing Hamas inside the PA; and by developing “soft pressure” on Hamas, such as an Emirati plan to install a desalination plant in Sinai which would serve Gaza while giving the Egyptians and its allies the option of cutting the supply. “Dahlan believes it would be possible to work with the Hamas leadership inside Gaza. He claims he was the one who persuaded the Egyptians to meet with the Hamas movement delegation within this context,” the source said. “The Egyptians told Hamas about their three conditions for reconciliation, namely that Hamas ceases all hostile conduct inside Gaza; that Hamas works for pacifying the situation inside Sinai; and that Hamas hands over to Egypt those who are wanted by it and happen to be inside Gaza. Dahlan insists that he was the one who added the last condition in particular so as to ‘pressure Hamas'." Other ways of containing Gaza are attempts to link Islamic Jihad, a rival movement to Hamas within the enclave, to the UAE, by building upon the assessment that Iran has abandoned them. A delegation from Islamic Jihad arrived in Cairo on Tuesday and conducted talks with officials from Egypt's General Intelligence Directorate. WHY DAHLAN? Why would three or more Arab nations and the United States, as well as Israel sign on to Dahlan as the nominative Palestinian leader? Because he has convinced each one that he will quiet the Palestinians and increase cooperation between the Palestinians, allow a peace of some sort to permit these countries to work with Israel, who they all know would help them in any war with ISIS, and that he can be bought off. The first is the real question. Can he really quiet the Palestinians even more than they are already? For years now the United States through USAID has shoveled millions of dollars into the Palestinian pockets. We have contacts inside there who have watched it happen and have spoken to us about it. If even more financial progress was made, it would be easier to keep the lid on if some kind of Israel-Palestinian-Arab State-US consortium were to be established. The second point is that most Arab lands not already involved in the ISIS conflict are sweating. They know it is only a matter of time (unless the new Trump administration can change it) until ISIS attacks them. Their militaries are at best tepid. Jordan has received a lot of US training and has many US forces on the ground there, but the rest are unprepared. And finally, Dahlan can be bought. It is a constant fact that Palestinian leaders are on the take. And Dahlan will never have enough money to satisfy him. Buying leaders is an old tradition going back to before the British Empire crumbled. Today it is still in fashion. The problem is keeping the hacks bought once they come to power. This is the first time we have seen any serious plans for Abbas to leave. I remind you that he and Quria have the numbers to Arafat's accounts, so something will need to be done to that, but with today's computer hackers, nothing is too big to consider. Stay tuned.More ...
clip_image002 Israel announced recently that it is buying three new submarines from Germany. The buy has been in the pipeline for quite a while, but when Moshe Ya'alon was Defense Minister and opposed it, things got turned around. Apparently Boogie didn't want the boats and Bibi did. That resulted in a shouting match in the Prime Minister's office. Boogie won that round. And before you get too excited about the shouting, remember that this is Israel. Such exchanges are not really uncommon, even at the highest levels. (pun intended) But, then it might be good to remember that Boogie Ya'alon is very strong willed and not one to keep quiet about something that he thinks is important. He's crossed the boss on a number of issues. And Bibi isn't one to let that go. So now Ya'alon has resigned (over a different matter) – read that fired, in essence – and Bibi is still in office. So the subs are back on the table. Israel currently has five subs, and most believe they are nuclear capable. They can hide off the coast of certain nations and if necessary nuke them back to the stone age. That's tough talk, but it is just how things are. The new submarines aren't scheduled to come on line for around ten years, and will replace some of the older equipment now in service. NERVOUS Nations like Iran would never admit it, but they know that if they fire nuclear rockets at Israel, there would be time for Israel to make a retaliatory strike. That has the imam's nervous, in spite of all the bravado-talk about ending the world to introduce the 12th imam. You will notice that there are plenty of bodyguards around the bigwigs and that none of them are volunteering for an early introduction to Paradise. No, that's for the expendables, and not them. As the Times of Israel reported, “ Israeli decision to purchase three new submarines from Germany, officially announced late last month, was previously derailed by then-defense minister Moshe Ya'alon, according to a Channel 10 news report. Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories FREE SIGN UP! Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in an October 31 cabinet meeting that Israel was in the process of negotiating the purchase of three new submarines for the Israeli Navy, which currently maintains a fleet of five underwater vessels. At this stage, the new submarines are not meant to expand the navy's fleet and would not actually reach Israel for at least another decade. Rather, they would replace the military's older submarines, which would be approaching obsolescence around the same time. But the deal almost didn't happen, and were it not for Ya'alon's eventual ouster in May to make way for Avigdor Liberman, it might not have at all. Neither Ya'alon nor the IDF were in favor of purchasing the new submarines — a somewhat change of pace in the normal narrative of the defense establishment fighting to get new “toys” — as the decision did not fit with multi-year plan for the army and Defense Ministry, Channel 10 said Monday. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an IDF base on March 10, 2015. (Ohad Zwigenberg) According to Channel 10, Netanyahu started dealings with the German government without informing Ya'alon, who only learned of the plan after news of it leaked out. Apparently furious, the then-defense minister verbally sparred with Netanyahu in the prime minister's office, with the two reportedly shouting at one another over the issue. Following additional arguments over the subs, Ya'alon indeed succeeded in torpedoing the plan, the news outlet said. While the IDF reportedly continued to oppose the decision, once Ya'alon stepped down as defense minister, Netanyahu renewed the negotiations with the Germans for the new submarines. More ...
clip_image002 It is with joy that I am able to announce that I am back to work on a restricted basis. Cannot fly long distances, but the keyboard is approved. As some of you may remember, I had a triple bypass on April 1 of this year at the Houston VA hospital. I'd suffered two heart attacks, and according to my doctors was standing with one foot on a banana peel, so they did the surgery. Let me tell you, the doctors and staff at the hospital were tremendous. Professional, polite and pleasant to be around. I came out very weak, shaken by the suddenness of it all, and determined to get back to full speed again. That was good, but I soon learned that the speed part was not so easy. We spent day after day on heart specialist visits at the hospital, and thank the Lord, things went well. Still not back to full strength but seeing daily improvement. Thank you one and all for your prayers and good wishes. We have decided to get back to work on Barnabuspress.com so you will get articles, background pieces on current events, etc. I missed giving our readers my opinions on the Presidential Campaign, for which we can all be thankful. Today is election day in the US, and the results are in God's hands, for which we can be thankful. For years I've said that tomorrow (and after each election), the liars are still liars and the decent folks are still decent. The challenge is sometimes telling who is who, though this time it has been somewhat easier. (grin) At any rate, welcome back to Barnabuspress.com and please keep us in your prayers. Thanks.More ...
clip_image001 East Jerusalem is a mixed bag today. There are places that one definitely does not want to visit and other areas where Jews live in relative safety. Our advice to tourists is that they definitely should not go there without someone who is familiar with the area. Now the authorities have revealed that they have arrested four residents of this part of Jerusalem for ISIS-related terrorist activities. The area has always been leavened with anti-Israel enclaves. Not apparently that has gone further to include ISIS. Four east Jerusalem residents indicted for ISIS-related terror activities The four suspects were indicted for collecting money for attacks to be carried out in Israel, as well as for attempting to leave Israel illegally to join ISIS. Four residents of east Jerusalem were indicted by The Jerusalem Magistrate Court on Friday for plotting and participating in terrorist activities, providing aid to a foreign terrorist organization and for attempting to illegally exit the country to join a terrorist group. The four defendants, aged 20-25, had pledged their support to join ISIS. Their radical ideology became action after they established of a study group, which met several times each week and intensely studied the teachings of the Islamic State so they would be prepared to join. The investigation revealed that the group often praised ISIS and had taught that the Islamic State's practice of Islam is the most righteous way according to Islam. These meetings often took place in the cemetery in the neighborhood of Sur Baher, or in the home of one of the suspects, Lukman Atun. During these meetings, the defendants would watch videos of Islamic State sermons and killings. In addition, the defendants attempted to spread ISIS ideology to others, and had provided counsel to other locals on how they should prepare themselves to leave to Syria. Atun had stated that he had intended to remain in Jerusalem in order to carry out attacks in Israel near foreign embassies. Atun also said that he had gathered money for these attacks by asking for donations from young students he had taught. Atun had also asked fellow defendant Abed al-Rahman Abu Tir, to travel to Syria and ask organizing members of ISIS to send money and weapons back to east Jerusalem to be used for attacks. Atun flew to Turkey in June of 2005, and met with a smuggler who was supposed to grant him access to Syria. The smuggler asked Atun for a payment of $2,000, but Atun could not pay the amount and subsequently returned to Israel after several days. In February, Abed al-Rahman Abu Tir was arrested by police at Ben Gurion Airport after he had attempted to board a plane to Turkey with approximately $3,000 dollars in cash on his person. A third man, Sal Tarsan, had planned to travel to Syria in January 2016, and opened a new e-mail account in order to correspond with ISIS members in Syria. Tarsan's father had discovered his email and travel plans and prevented him from traveling. The investigation was conducted by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Police. Israeli security officials say a few dozen Israeli Arabs have left to fight alongside Islamic State in Syria, usually traveling through Turkey or Jordan. According to a new report by The Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Islamic State has launched a media campaign releasing a series of videos in support of terror attacks and encouraging Palestinians to carry out more. Islamic State does not have an operational presence on the ground in Israel, but its propaganda over the Internet has proved influential, with a handful of Israelis joining the fundamentalist movement in recent months. (Jerusalem Post) More ...

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