With days to go until the Biden administration officially takes over at the White House, Israel launched another air attack on Iranian forces in Syria. While an attack on Syria by the IAF has become standard in the remaining days of the Trump administration, this time the IAF struck closer to the Iraqi border in Eastern Syria.
The attack targeted at least 15 installations housing Iranian weapons and acted as the main transit hub for the IRCG into Western Syria. There are claims that it killed 57 people – mostly IRCG members or affiliates.
Syria’s official SANA news agency said the following:
“A military source told SANA in a statement that at 01:10 on Wednesday dawn, the Israeli enemy carried out air aggression on Deir Ezzor City and al-Bukamal area.”
WATCH THE ATTACK ABOVE
From the outset of reports last night, it was already assumed that the US had given Israel the intelligence it needed to successfully carry out such an attack, which essentially crippled the Iranian forces in the area.
The AP has claimed the following in an article published today:
“The U.S. official, who requested anonymity to speak about the matter, said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Tuesday’s airstrike with Yossi Cohen, chief of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, at a public meeting in the popular Washington restaurant Café Milano on Monday.”
It has been assumed that the Trump Administration would continue to give Israel the green light to take out as much Iranian hardware and personnel as possible before Biden is installed. After January 20th the sinophilic nature of Biden’s regime will make Israel’s overt strikes very hard to carry out. China wants a strong Iran and if past is prescience then so does the Biden administration.
With the region on high alert after the strike, the question remains whether Iran will hold back for a few more days until the Biden administration takes over or retaliate now. Most observers believe the Mullahs in Tehran will refrain from attacking, but if this is not Trump’s final gift to the Jewish state, then expect something far larger to test the Ayatollah’s resolve
The recently concluded Qatar-Saudi deal to end the blockade on Qatar has once again changed the equation and calibration of peace in the Middle East. There are those naysayers who believe the deal was concluded in time for a potential Biden administration, but that is improbable.
Remember the embargo on Qatar was led by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States precisely because of Qatar’s connections to Iran and its funding of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A Biden administration that is ready to cozy up to the Mullah’s in Iran would elicit a continuing of the present Saudi led embargo.
Most likely, Qatar has realized which way the wind is blowing in the Middle East when it comes to their Sunni friends. Qatar’s strength has always come from its ability to play all sides – the embargo proved to its leadership in Doha that this strategy is no longer an option.
Qatar Wants In On A Potential UAE-Israel Pipeline
With a reported pipeline between the UAE and Israel in the works, Qatar’s reliance and drive to build one with Turkey has now become obsolete. The main reason for its support for Turkey’s pro ISIS policies during Obama’s tenure was due to the building of this joint Turkey-Qatar pipeline.
Without the ability to build a secure pipeline and the UAE-Israel potentially being far more lucrative, Qatar has less reasons to hold back from returning to the Sunni block.
True, Biden’s team views things differently and this is the reason for Qatar’s decision to pick sides now. With the White House’s foreign policy potentially being run through Beijing, Qatar’s historic “neutrality” in the region is not longer relevant after Jan. 20th.
A Different Middle East – New Opportunities
President Trump’s team has left the region in a very different situation. The Muslim Brotherhood is fast being pushed out after the signing of the Abraham Accords and with it Qatar’s reason and ability to push against its Sunni neighbors and more importantly Israel.
Qatar’s choice to rejoin the Saudi led block also means that it accepts the centrality and necessity of Israel’s role within that block. Biden can certainly try to partner with Iran. However, the block’s strength is its ability to utilize Israel’s innovation economy, military prowess, and geopolitical connections around the world to sidestep a hapless Biden administration and a rising China without losing ground to Iran.
Qatar’s growing communication with Israel concerning Gaza has also made it less obstinate in dealing with the Jewish state on other issues. It also has a working relationship with Jerusalem and will now benefit from the Abraham Accords in an indirect way.
The Qatar-Saudi deal may appear to have come out of nowhere, but it needed to be done before Biden takes over in order to ensure that Iranian influence does not pollute the negotiations. Qatar wants to keep its revenues rising and influence steady and sees the Sunni block as the key to doing it.
This agreement will make it harder for Biden and company to push for rejoining the already broken Iran nuclear deal. More than that, it is a message for China who recently upgraded their military pact with Iran, that the Abraham Accords and the Sunni block will not be broken up.
More than 15 years ago I was dragged out of the Neve Dekalim Synagogue by four soldiers and then bussed out of Gush Katif. In those moments I wondered why and where the protest movement to stop one of the largest injustices brought upon Israeli citizens by their own government had gone wrong.
The fact is, up until that point and including the Oslo protests headed by Moshe Feiglin, all of the nationalist protests had a sectoral feel to them. They weren’t meant to be sectoral, but Israel with all of its claims of the need for national unity breaks down along tribal lines and that is the failure of all of the protests in the past few years.
True, the disaster of the first Amona protest in 2006, when cops used horses to stampede settler youth, drew condemnation from the left, but the protest itself was not successful – meaning it did not strike a real chord with anyone else except settlers.
A lot has happened since then. Israelis know each other far better than before. Religious Zionists have penetrated the mainstream media and stand poised to take over the army in the next generation. All the while, both Chareidim and Religious Zionists find common ground on many issues.
Still, there appears to be a lack of real unity of purpose other than just survival or standing by while the country’s hi-tech leaders represent their craft as being indicative of the Israeli citizenry as a whole. The more we know each other, the more we realize we are all being pulled along together, without regard to whether or not we want to be heading where we are heading.
Perhaps the uniting factor in this new young generation, growing up in a post Gush Katif reality is the need for a new national ethos. Many settler youth reject their parents’ views that they need to conform to make it in Israel and like many on the left, they see the vacuous drive towards participation in the hi-tech ecosystem as being disconnected from the larger issues plaguing Israeli society.
This is where the intersection has arisen between the protests surrounding Ahuviya Sandak’s death, potentially at the hands of a negligent police and the disconnect many have in Israel from the government and the elite that rules it.
When Hill Top Youth were placed in administrative detention for six months over Duma and then tortured to be made to confess and still be found guilty despite an admittance that the confession came by way of torture – Israelis scratched their head.
True, most questioned it, but then went on with their life. What is going on now is a confirmation that the bias against the idealistic youth of Judea and Samaria is real and the “fringe opinions” over Duma might have had some legs to them after all.
The simple question is now beginning to be asked: Why all this trouble over a handful of teenagers that seem to be only focused on defending Jewish land from Arab squatters?
Why claim these kids are a threat to the entire nation?
The protests are growing, because people see that Ahuvia Sandak’s death is a symptom of a larger problem in Israel. True, we lead the world in innovation, but we are beginning to lose site of what guides us here in the Land in the first place. We have come home, but have buried the vessels of Redemption in the sands of the Negev.
The youth are showing us something else – that rights are not given to us by the police, the judges, or even the Knesset, but rather they are given to us by G-D himself.
In a sense, the hate for these youth by the apparatchiks in the leftwing controlled security forces and judicial system stems from a sense of embarrassment and jealousy. After all, it is supposed their kids doing this – being Zionists, not these rag tag youth of the hills.
Yet, this goes beyond Zionism that guided Jews back to Israel – this is about Redemption itself. For that, one has to leave behind the trappings and false understandings fomented by those who built the early state, which were then foisted on everyone else.
In a sense we have to leave the construct of our assumptions about what we are doing here to see past the illusions that the governing institutions wants us to believe.
No one trusts the police here, yet before this past year there was too much at stake for all of the various groups to unite. Lockdown after ridiculous lockdown has taken its toll on the public and with it, the last remaining barrier that had prevented it from truly making grassroots change.
The youth of the hills are more than just guardians of the Land – they are messengers of a new way, which is really an old way. They are the David to the government’s Saul. We are not meant to come home to our Land and live like other Nations. Our soul’s are whispering that to us – trying to wake us up and these youth are the reminder that we can behave differently.
There is a price for conformity and that is the anonymity the machine wants us to fall into. However, these youth can and will save us from ourselves at the end. Most of us want something else, but we are just too afraid to admit it to anyone else. All of the technology and entertainment has done nothing to quiet the yearning for a shift to a Redemptive paradigm.
These protests are about regaining the process of reawakening what the Jewish return to its Land was supposed to be about. While this might be scary to many here, it is necessary if we are going to complete the transition from a nation like all other nations to one that is truly a Kingdom of Priests.
Ahuvya Sandak, a 16 year old boy from Bat Ayin was killed last week when the vehicle he was riding in flipped over as a result of a police chase. When news first broke, the police closed off the area for six hours, letting his body lay in the open. His friends who survived were sent to the hospital for treatment and then released to house arrest. The initial report was that the boys were throwing rocks and a chased ensued, but something seemed fishy.
Knesset member Betzalel Smotrich arrived at the scene and the police prevented him from entering, which is against the law. Witnesses have come forward saying the police were driving out of control and put everyone’s lives in danger.
The family has requested an independent investigation, but the police have started their own – insisting the other boys should be tried for manslaughter.
All of this seems like a passing story anywhere else, far less important than elections and corona, but since the accident and the government’s stalling of an independent investigation, protests have erupted around the country, police stations have been vandalized, and extra security given to the police who were involved.
In normal times we would move on, but something has changed now in Israel. People are beginning to question the system that they are living in. The system, who for all of its triumphs in technology and defense has long ago used the police as an arm of complete control.
During Gush Katif, the media and the left convinced the country that it could lay waste to patriotic pioneers in Gaza – destroying 8,000 homes.
In Amona, shortly after, it tried to stampede the young resistance under the hooves of police horses.
Year after year, it has put down protests against Chareidim, settler youth, Ethiopians, and more.
During the Duma manhunt, which falsely placed blame on pioneering youth in Judea and Samria and in doing so saw torture being employed against kids as young as 14, normal people began to question and many people still question the legitimacy of case’s outcome as being politically driven.
Ahuvya’s death, unnecessary and seemingly a product of an over zealous and paranoid police department, appears to have broken whatever lock there has been on a focused protest movement, with the aim to take down Israel’s police state infrastructure.
People are tired. They are tired of being played against one another. They are tired of being fed media lies and being told they need to “fall in line” with an Israel focused more on handshakes with other countries and PR initiatives to keep the investment money in tech coming, rather than justice and fulfillment of a Divine purpose.
The economy is in shambles, Arab squatters are taking land, another election cycle is upon us, but Ahuvya’s death appears to have become the catalyst for something else.
The irony is, that if this was the old days people would believe the police’s story about the youth throwing the rocks, but their lies are known now. Initial reports say that the was car rammed by the police and pushed off the road and now the policemen say they thought it was a “Palestinian” vehicle.
It is unravelling, but not just their story – their control.
Israel can be a beacon of light it was meant to be, but it must first rip apart the Deep State that has held sway here since the original socialists stole the Zionist movement from within.
The youth of the hills have had enough. They want an Israel based on G-D given rights, not one where the State believes it is the arbiter of our rights. There is an uprising now. It is small and growing and everyday the government waits to gut the police department, the uprising will grow.
Yes, these elections may claim to deal with the coronavirus, but at the end they may be forced to deal with something far more important and that is determining our true national ethos. However, it may be that if the politicians continue to squabble for power, the youth of the hills just might determine that ethos for them.
A Muslim-American extremist has been disinvited from a Jewish-organized civil rights panel, and Jewish liberals are denouncing his removal as a suppression of free speech.
But the real outrage here is that he was invited in the first place.
Salam Al-Marayati, longtime president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was invited by a group called Jews United for Democracy to speak as part of its panel on “After Four Years of Division, Tension and Bigotry—Now What?”
Yet Al-Marayati himself is a promoter of division, tension and bigotry. Bigotry against Jews, that is.
Al-Marayati’s organization, MPAC, publicly defended infamous French Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy, after Garaudy was fined by the French government for his denial activities.
Al-Marayati was a longtime member of the small editorial board of The Minaret, a magazine closely associated with MPAC leaders, which in the 1990s and early 2000s repeatedly published grotesque political cartoons depicting Jews and Israel controlling the American government. That theme was consistent with Al-Marayati’s assertion that the U.S. “is in full partnership with Israel. Where Israel goes, our government follows.”
Al-Marayati has had a long association with the white supremacist William Baker, the onetime chairman of the extremist Populist Party, which was founded by a late neo-Nazi leader / Holocaust denier named Willis Carto, in 1984. MPAC has invited Baker to speak at a number of events. At MPAC’s “United for Al Quds Conference” in 2002, Al-Marayati himself introduced and praised Baker.
Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is standard fare for Al-Marayati. For example, writing in the notoriously anti-Israel magazine Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in June 1994, Marayati asserted: “Just as Hitler forged a conflict between Judaism and Christianity, apologists for Israel crave for Islam to be at odds with both Judaism and Christianity.”
Let it be noted that the U.S. government, together with the 30 other member-states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, uses a definition of antisemitism which states unequivocally that “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is anti-Semitic.
Al-Marayati’s ugly record of Israel-bashing also includes his declaration, immediately after the 9/11 Islamic terrorist attacks, that ”If we’re going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.”
At the same time, Al-Marayati has a long record of justifying or condoning Islamic terrorism. He has equated America’s struggle for independence from Britain with Islamic fundamentalism. He denounced then-Senator Joe Biden’s Counterterrorism Act of 1995. He accused the U.S. of committing “a terrible act of terrorism” by sanctioning Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He condemned the U.S. for striking at terrorists in Sudan and Afghanistan.
Here’s what Al-Marayati’s MPAC had to say following the March 1997 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that left three dead and 48 wounded: “Because the Palestinian people have no avenues to redress their grievances, some of them have been pushed beyond the margins of society and have adopted violent reactions to express their despair and suffering.”
Al-Marayati’s occasional statements condemning terrorism are meaningless, because he defines Israel’s actions as terrorism and Palestinian Arab violence as freedom-fighting. Here’s how MPAC has put it: “Terrorism is wrong: Israeli occupation is terrorism and oppression. American policy must be based on the recognition that no people will remain passive under foreign occupation and military aggression. The Palestinian people are no different…The uprising is a spontaneous, collective reaction to the continued illegal and immoral Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people and their land.”
Likewise, regarding Hezbollah, Al-Marayati has said: “If the Lebanese people are resisting Israeli intransigence on Lebanese soil, then that is the right of resistance and they have the right to target Israeli soldiers in this conflict. That is not terrorism. That is a legitimate resistance. That could be called liberation movement, that could be called anything, but it’s not terrorism.”
That’s why then-Congressman Richard Gephardt (D-Missouri) withdrew the nomination of Al-Marayati to serve on the National Commission on Terrorism in 1999. Al-Marayati’s record of apologizing for terrorism is lengthy, indisputable, and nothing less than damning.
In recent years, Al-Marayati has softened his tone in the hope of trying to re-enter the mainstream. But sometimes he just can’t resist showing his true colors. Last year, he and MPAC signed a public letter defending Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, following her statements accusing Jews of bribing members of Congress to support Israel.
I guess Al-Marayati’s support for Rep. Omar is no coincidence, considering that Omar’s statements sound a lot like what Al-Marayati and his organization have been saying about Jews for the past three decades. Birds of a feather flock together, after all.
(Republished with author’s permission from the Israel Hayom news website)
A storm of criticism has erupted over the possible nomination of Israeli war hero Effie Eitam, the son of a Holocaust rescuer, to the chairmanship of Yad Vashem, Israel’s main Holocaust institution. At issue are two remarks that Eitam reportedly made concerning Arabs fourteen years ago.
If a transcript of Eitam’s remarks is ever published, we will finally be able to see the full statements and their context. And when Eitam chooses to publicly address the matter, we will learn whether he still subscribes to those statements, which he made at a memorial service for fallen Israeli soldiers back in 2006. Eitam had a distinguished 29 year career in the IDF, which included the Operation Entebbe in 1976, and retired as a Brigadier General; he later served in the Knesset for six years.
Eitam’s critics should consider the ramifications of the “canceling” out any Israeli or Jewish figure who has ever made an offensive remark be they comments about Arabs or other ethnic or gender groups. Let’s review some of the prominent public figures who would have been shunned according to this standard:
TEDDY KOLLEK: After a group of women were violently assaulted at the Western Wall by opponents of their prayer service, Kollek, the longtime mayor of Jerusalem, accused the victims of “provoking” the attack and “using prayer as a means of protest.” (New York Jewish Week; 4-14-1989).
In a Boston Globe interview in 1992, Kollek declared: “The way of the Palestinians is the way of war and bloodshed, not peace … The Arabs say ‘We will again rule all the lands of Islam as we once did’—this is an essential Islamic concept. It is hard for me to say all this, but I have to acknowledge it.”
SHIMON PERES: At a 1981 election rally, Peres denounced Moroccan Jews in Israel as “barbarians” and “disgusting Arabs.” (The footage of the rally can be seen in the 2002 film, “Kaddim Wind – Moroccan Chronicle”)
ABBA EBAN: In a speech at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in Manhattan on February 29, 1952, Eban warned of “the danger lest the predominance of immigrants of Oriental origin force Israel to equalize its cultural level with that of the neighboring world…Our object should be to infuse them with an Occidental [Western] spirit, rather than to allow them to draw us into an unnatural Orientalism.”
AMOS OZ: One of Israel’s most celebrated novelists, and a prominent Peace Now activist, Oz said at a “Writers Talk About Peace” symposium in 1987: “The Palestinian national movement is one of the most insensitive, ugly and wicked national movements of the 20th century” and is characterized by “fanaticism, hardheartedness, and violence.” (Al Hamishmar, 5-15-87)
Among Holocaust scholars, consider these men and women whose remarks would have disqualified them from chairing Yad Vashem:
YEHUDA BAUER, the longtime senior historian at Yad Vashem, has minimized the Nazis’ persecution of gays as “a political invention” and a “red herring.” The famed historian of antisemitism, Prof. George Mosse, said in response to Bauer’s remarks: “That’s absurd. That’s like denying the Holocaust.” (New York Jewish Week, 5-22-97)
LUCY DAWIDOWICZ, renowned author of “The War Against the Jews,” demanded that Israel pay restitution to Arabs who fled in 1948, comparing it to German restitution to Holocaust victims. Dawidowicz never retracted her Israel-Nazis comparison, but that didn’t stop the American Jewish Committee from hiring her as its director of research, nor did it stop Yeshiva University from choosing Dawidowicz for the first named chair in Holocaust Studies in the United States. (New Leader, 1-19-1953)
HANNAH ARENDT, the renowned philosopher and author of some of the most famous studies of totalitarianism, in 1961 derided Sefardi Jews as “an Oriental mob” who “looked Arab but spoke Hebrew.” (Cited in The Forward, 4-25-14)
Surely the most startling and ironic name on this list is Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, who served as chairman of Yad Vashem from 2006 to 2008. His statements about minorities were so extreme that the Jerusalem Report dubbed him “an articulate Archie Bunker.” Lapid called Orthodox Jews “parasites,” “barbaric primitives,” and “enemies of progress.” (Tablet, 5-31-2013) He minimized spousal abuse, speculating that “some sociologist heard that his neighbor beats his wife, and are to the conclusion that in every house, there is at least one husband who beats his wife.” He complained about the prominence of Sefardi Jews in the Israeli music scene, claiming their style showed that “We didn’t conquer [the Arab town of] Tulkarm, Tulkarm conquered us.” Lapid’s statements about Arabs were so controversial that in 2006, Yad Vashem had to publicly dissociate itself from one of his remarks. (Haaretz, 1-8-2003)
Writing in Newsday on December 7, 1995, the eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt pleaded for greater tolerance within the Jewish world. “Judaism is a big tent with room for vastly differing views,” she wrote. “And Jews must recognize that—within reason—no one can be read out of the Jewish community solely for his or her point of view.”
Lipstadt’s caveat, “within reason,” remains to be defined. But if it is defined in such a way as to “cancel” out anybody who has ever made an offensive remark about an ethnic or gender group, then quite a few of the best known figures in Israeli politics and the world of Holocaust studies, past and present, belong on that list alongside General Eitam.
The recently ended Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia concluded with Azerbaijan gaining far more territory than it had before the war. Baku’s success came by way of strong military support from Turkey including the use of Syrian mercenaries that had fought for Turkey against the Kurds.
Aside from Turkey’s involvement, proof is clear that Israeli drones and other advanced weaponry from Israel gave Azerbaijan the needed edge against their Armenian foe.
Israel and Azerbaijan have had warm relations since 1992. For years, it was one of the only Muslim majority countries to have relations with Israel. Besides that Azerbaijan is home to 30,000 Jews who live safely among their Muslim neighbors.
Israel has relied heavily on Azerbaijan for both 40% of its oil and a forward base against Iran.
However, in recent years, Jerusalem and Baku have seen their relations fray as Azerbaijan has drawn closer to Turkey. During Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria directed at pushing out the indigenous Kurdish population, it was Netanyahu who pledged support for the Kurds. At the same time Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev vocally supported the Turkish invasion.
Which is why Jerusalem’s continued arm sales to Azerbaijan makes both right and left in Israel nervous that these weapons are falling into the wrong hands.
Advanced weapons sales by Israel to a county like Azerbaijan, who is ready to parter with Turkey, a belligerent actor bent on hegemonic control over the Middle East is increasingly problematic from both a PR and a security standpoint. Given the above, why is Israel continuing to arm Azerbaijan, especially after the Abraham Accords brought UAE oil onboard for the Jewish State as well increased relations with more Muslim nations?
The answer is: Iran. Israel still needs Azerbaijan for its location in order to keep close tabs on Iran for Israel’s continued Mossad operations. While the Mahabat region of Iran, which is Kurdish offers a great place for Israeli backed agents to spy and carry out operations, there is no strategic depth to it. The Iranian Azeri region on the other hand buttresses Azerbaijan.
Both Iran and Azerbaijan have had a rocky relationship. Iran supported Armenian claims to Nagorno-Karabakh in the past and also provided vital support to Armenia in past conflicts with Azerbaijan. Although in the present conflict, Iran claims to have stayed neutral, Turkey has insisted it secretly supports Armenia.
For Azerbaijan, its claims to the Azeri areas of Iran have given Tehran pause and concern.
With Israeli drone bases and listening posts in Azerbaijan and a close security partnership between the two countries, Israel can overlook Azerbaijan’s friends it does not approve of. This is because its geographical importance and friendly populace on both sides of the Azerbaijan-Iran border offers Jerusalem an indispensable forward operative base and strategic location unparalleled.
Taking Turkey out of the discussion makes it even more apparent that Israel is busy locking in partnerships with those countries surrounding Iran – the Gulf states to its South, Kurdistan to its West, and Azerbaijan to its North – in order to contain it and provide its intelligence units the locations they need to carry out targeted assassinations, information collection, and logistical support for minority actors in Iran that are focused on toppling the Ayatollahs.
In this light, Israel has made a strategic choice to continue selling Azerbaijan the arms it needs despite the drawbacks in order to secure help against a far larger threat.