VIDEO: Big Trouble in Little Jerusalem with John Fitzgerald

Right Side News with John Fitzgerald  – Big Trouble in Little Jerusalem

JERUSALEM: On December 6th, 2017 President Donald Trump unveiled a new policy regarding Israel’s capital city.

WATCH NOW: Right Side News’ John Fitzgerald walks you through the newly recognized capital of Israel.



In a statement President Trump said:

My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city — and so importantly — is Israel’s capital. This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.

Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Predictably Hamas have declared another one of their adorable days of rage which are by this point a weekly event. We can expect other Islamic nations like Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom to follow suit shortly. Of course, the liberal media and most of the world look the other way, too keen to call the President a racist to pay attention when he said:

So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region — political and religious; Israeli and Palestinian; Jewish and Christian and Muslim — to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians. And God bless the United States. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Of course on CNN and MSBNC the violence you see on the streets of Israel tonight is the fault of the man who wishes to bring peace to the region. This is the definition of #FakeNews.

SEE ALSO: Last week Right Side News’ John Fitzgerald, analyzed the disruption that took place at the “It’s Okay To Be White” speech given by Lucian Wintrich at the University of Connecticut.

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Hamas Diverts Millions From U.S.-Based NGO To Finance Terrorist Capabilities

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Hamas diverted “tens of millions of dollars” from World Vision, a U.S.-based Christian charity, to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure, Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security Shin Bet said Thursday.

The terrorist group reportedly siphoned 60 percent of the charity’s resources in Gaza to reconstruct Hamas’ tunnel network and military installations, in addition to purchasing weapons intended to kill Israelis. This amount translated to roughly $7.2 million each year.

Israeli security personnel arrested World Vision Gaza operations manager Muhammad Halabi on June 15. On Thursday, Halabi, also an alleged Hamas operative, was indicted on several charges related to the case.

The investigation revealed that Halabi was recruited to infiltrate World Vision in 2005 for the purposes of stealing funds to help Hamas.

The alleged scheme exemplifies “the cynical and crude way in which Hamas takes advantage of funds and resources from international humanitarian aid organizations,” a Shin Bet statement said.

World Vision defended Halabi and denied the accusations. As of one of the largest humanitarian and charitable organizations worldwide, World Vision receives most of its support from the United Nations and Western governments.

Millions of dollars were intended to help in civilian reconstruction efforts for Gaza’s population, including building greenhouses, enhancing agricultural projects, helping fishermen, and promoting mental and physical health initiatives.

Instead “these [funds] were all used as a pipeline to transfer money to Hamas,” Shin Bet said.

The alleged scheme involved Hamas operatives, posing as World Vision employees, filing fake proposals for World Vision- financed projects in Gaza, before money laundering the cash straight to Hamas and its military wing.

For example, Halabi launched an initiative to build greenhouses to hide terrorist tunnel sites, while a proposed project intended to help Gaza’s fishermen ended up using the money to improve Hamas’ naval capabilities.

Hamas terrorists also falsely listed their children as injured to collect money intended to help children in Gaza who were actually wounded.

Moreover, Halabi used tens of thousands of dollars from the charity’s finances to buy weapons in the Sinai during ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi’s reign.

For more information and examples about how Hamas diverted legitimate charitable funds from World Vision click here.

According to Israel’s investigation, 40 percent of the funds allocated for civilian projects – about $1.5 million per year – were transferred to Hamas’ terrorist units in cash. Approximately $4 million per year intended for helping needy civilians in Gaza were also diverted to Hamas for the purposes of enhancing its terrorist capacity.

Money was also reportedly used to pay the salaries of Hamas personnel, while some senior leaders pocketed large sums for themselves.

Since the end of the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, several reports emerged documenting how the terrorist group prioritizes its fight against Israel over the well being of its population. This latest investigation uncovers important details on how Hamas exploits legitimate charitable organizations worldwide to finance its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of needy civilians and societal development.


One Year after the Iran Nuclear Deal

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser | Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Iran is reaping the benefits; the West pays the price of its weakness; and we will all live with the consequences

Iran Agreement in Vienna, July 14, 2015

Officials announcing the agreement, July 14, 2015 (Wikipedia)
Looking every which way but forward.

What can we learn about the Iran nuclear deal a year after it was concluded? I must say that everything I was worried about came true. Iran has not changed one bit its radical Islamic and belligerent nature.

Iran took full advantage of the paralysis of the West in blocking its policies so that it could pursue its ballistic missiles and nuclear weaponization programs – two programs aimed at gaining the ability to hit not only Israel but Europe too, with nuclear warheads towards the end of the deal duration (only 10-15 years from now).

Iran significantly escalated its involvement in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, this time with Western blessing and not just acquiescence (President Obama once wondered why the Saudis can’t share the hegemony over the Middle East with Iran).

Iran continued its support for terror and its abuse of its citizens’ human rights.

Iran continued to insult the West and, of course, it reaped enormous cash windfalls and started to move towards economic deals with the West.

The West at the same time proved to be lacking any moral inhibitions in its quest for what seems (erroneously) as an opportunity to profit. The ongoing Iranian commitment to destroy Israel, to deny the Holocaust, to humiliate the West, and to ignore its commitments as per UN resolutions and the nuclear deal made no impression. Even after the White House admitted that it deliberately over-emphasized the positive elements of the deal and underestimated its flaws, and by that misled the American Congress on the meaning of the deal, nothing has happened. No notice was taken of the discovery of man-made enriched uranium in Parchin or of the ongoing efforts to purchase forbidden nuclear material in Germany.

The Lessons Are Very Simple

The Iranians and the rest of the people living in the Middle East understand that the West is weak. The Iranians, like other Radical Islamists (and Russia) take advantage of that. They proceed with their plans to take over the Middle East from the Pragmatists and threaten Israel. The Pragmatists in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are scared. Those who are in immediate threat of living under Radical regimes, like the Syrians, are leaving the Middle East and immigrate to Europe (or more precisely to Germany). This huge wave started right after the conclusion of the deal because the deal was the major sign that the West had given up on them. Those who control their own fate are fighting back and look for Israeli cooperation. That is why Israel has strengthened its relations with the pragmatic Arab countries, especially Egypt.

Eventually, we shall all have to live with the consequences. Unless the pragmatists and Israel manage to prevent Iran from reaching its goals, Iran will have in 10-15 years the ability to equip itself with a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons and will not change its messianic nature. This was the exact motive of the deal from the Iranian point of view. Otherwise, the Iranians would not have accepted it. The West knew that very well, but to delay the danger a bit and to avoid any confrontation it was ready to “kick the can down the road” while paving for the Mullahs a guaranteed way to their dreams – and which are our nightmares.

Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

How Close Are We to Unconventional Terror Attacks by ISIS? The Dirty Bomb Scenario

Dr. Barak Ben Zur | JCPA Early last month, world leaders attending a nuclear security summit in Washington DC expressed concern over nuclear and radiological terrorism threats. This was a formal international gathering hosted by the American president dedicated to the evolving ability of terror groups to plan and carry out mass killing attacks using unconventional means. Publicly, the summit’s participants did not provide any substantial new information about any pending preparations among known terror groups. This raises the question how serious the threat is, and in the absence of clear leads and intelligence materials, the question is how can we assess this threat? The background of the global Jihad provides us with some indications, especially those efforts conducted by former Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin-Laden, to acquire nuclear materiel. His efforts included a couple of initiatives but especially worrisome was Bin-Laden’s bargaining with a former Sudanese general who claimed he could provide such nuclear materiel. According to the 9/11 Commission’s report, Bin-Laden paid $1.5 million dollars only to find that the offer was a fraud. In most cases, the orphan radioactive sources (material no longer under regulatory control) represent a danger of “dirty bombs” – rather than actual nuclear bombs – which can contaminate large areas. The episode – despite its failed result – taught us about Bin-Laden’s intentions. We have already learned, after the mass killing attacks on 9/11 and similar foiled plots, that it was not enough for Bin-Laden.  He sought much more spectacular attacks as a part of his Islamic revolution. ISIS, which emerged from Al-Qaeda, is waging its battles on the same ideological foundation. The call for global Islamic revolution is the same call. The use of brutal violence is far harsher compared to past terror groups and even to Al-Qaeda. Practically, in some aspects, ISIS is much closer to securing and using unconventional weapons. One of the major ISIS advantages concerning the development of unconventional measures is its control of large territories in northeast Syria – territories where ISIS has access to the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) installations in suburbs of Aleppo and al-Safirah. This scientific institution, functioning since 1969, was fully engaged in the development of chemical and biological agents and a variety of studies in the atomic field. The assumption should be that members of the staff working there joined or were forced to join ISIS efforts. We should assume that despite the Syrian army efforts in mid-2015 to transport or destroy the laboratories’ contents, ISIS may have succeeded in capturing at least some of it. ISIS is attracting thousands of volunteers from Western countries, among them educated, skilled people who can contribute to ISIS’ unconventional weapons development efforts. In 2009, for example, the French authorities arrested a physicist who worked in a Swiss research center and expressed sympathy to global Jihad groups in North Africa. Such experts can be helpful not only in ISIS-controlled territories, but in Western cities as well. Belgian official sources hinted lately about plots aiming to set off a nuclear disaster. Following the March 2016, terror attack in Brussel’s airport, Belgian authorities conducted large-scale investigations and exposed a large terror infrastructure. The authorities identified ISIS members’ intelligence-gathering as preparation for a future terror attack on a nuclear plant. The terrorist plan included attacking nuclear facilities by ground attacks or by cyber methods. This modus operandi has been familiar for years. British authorities arrested and indicted 10 years ago a group linked to Al-Qaeda preparing similar plans. ISIS, with the support of Western volunteers, is probably even dangerous and determined.

Widespread Trade in Orphan Radioactive Sources

In addition to ISIS’ potential access to nuclear materiel in their controlled territories, the opportunities to find other sources are relatively open.  Last month, Russian and Georgian media reported details of black market nuclear materiel activity.  On April 28, 2016, Georgian authorities arrested five citizens trying to sell uranium-238 and uranium-235 for three million dollars. Shipments of cesium-137 have also been intercepted in Georgia in recent years.  A Soviet power generator fueled by strontium-90 was found by woodcutters in a forest Georgia in 2001; other generators may have also been left behind when the Soviet Union disbanded. Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge is a notorious smugglers’ route between Russia, Chechnya, Georgia, Turkey and Syria for weapons, drugs and ISIS volunteers. In 2011, Moldavian authorities claimed that besides offering nuclear materiel, a Russian criminal group was ready to supply the drawings for a dirty bomb. Though ISIS did not invent the idea or the modus operandi, it seems much closer to unconventional terror ability than other terror groups ever had been. There is no doubt of their willingness to use these measures; the global Jihad already declared a total global war. Many spectacular mass killing terror attacks were carried out over the last 15 years all over the world. The main lesson is the radical organizations are in a state of mind to use their most fearful weapons, not just keep them for deterrence. In order to fight global terror, the Americans have done a lot on a worldwide scale since 9/11. They waged war on illegal money trafficking, upgraded the ability of border authorities to identify individuals on biometric bases, and established mechanisms for information-sharing between countries on terror suspects and terror threats. But these measures that provided an answer to the threat of terror groups like Al-Qaeda are not sufficient to deal with the challenges of ISIS’ unconventional mega-terror potential. The American leadership must lead precise, efficient, and dedicated global efforts to meet this challenge. The strategy should contain two-integrated pillars: The first, special military operations by a Western consortium aimed at dismantling ISIS control of territories in Syria, Iraq, Sinai and North Africa.  The second, a secret intelligence effort for tracking, arresting, and/or targeting individuals linked to global terror, including criminal groups offering fissile materiel on the black market. Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

About Dr. Barak Ben Zur

Dr. Barak Ben Zur is an expert on strategic intelligence and counter-terrorism. He lectures on those topics at academic institutions, public forums and official boards in Israel and the United States.

Connecting the Terror in Paris with the Terror against Israel

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser | Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Seemingly, the connection between the Islamic terror against the West and the Palestinian terror against Israel is confined to technical aspects and does not run deeper than that. It mainly involves the notion that terror is terror and any form of it is cruel and morally unjustified, induces feelings of fear and helplessness in the target population and has to be fought with similar intelligence and operational measures. As many Israelis have been saying, “Now the French understand how we live.” Those who question the connection Israel draws between the two kinds of terror claim that, whereas the anti-Western terror stems from a militant interpretation of Islam calling for an assault on the West, its culture, and its behavior (this, it must be acknowledged, is certainly a possible interpretation of the Koran and the other central Islamic texts, even if not an exclusive interpretation), the anti-Israeli terror stems largely from nationalist motives, even if these are entwined and suffused with Islamic claims. It is, then, even if unjustified, an in-built reaction to Palestinian suffering and the supposed wrong that was done them with Israel’s establishment and its ongoing control of the post-1967 territories. If there is a connection between the two, it lies – some say – in the fact that among the factors contributing to Islamic terror against the West are the injustices the West has done to the Muslims, including the creation of a nation-state for the Jewish people in the heart of the Islamic region at the Palestinians’ expense. Thus, they assert, in addition to the acceptable forms of fighting terror, the West must find a way to atone for its crimes and enable the fulfillment of the Palestinian national goals, even if it entails a risk to Israel’s security. With that, Islamic anger will be allayed.

Dangerous Forbearance for “Realistic Radical Islam”

Seemingly there is some justification for distinguishing between the two kinds of terror. One kind is perpetrated by “ultra-radical” elements within radical Islam such as ISIS, the other mainly by Palestinians, some of whom belong to the “realistic” camp within radical Islam (primarily Hamas, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood), and some of whom (belonging to Fatah) lean more to the “pragmatic” camp in the Muslim world. At the same time, the common denominator among all the actors who belong to the radical camp – the ultra-radicals and the realists – is the vision of a struggle against the West and its culture and against Muslims who are prepared to adopt elements of Western culture and are regarded as heretics. The difference is that the ultra-radicals believe the time to fight the West and the heretics who are friendly to it has already arrived, especially given the West’s spiritual weakness and inability or unwillingness to fight back as it seeks to gratify its earthly desires in this physical world (recently reflected in its willingness to pave Iran’s path to the bomb, its reluctance to put “boots on the ground” in the war against ISIS and the fear of calling the radical Islamic threat by name and preference for the hollow term “violent extremism”). The realists within radical Islam believe that in this stage terror should only be directed at Israel, the West’s “extension in the Middle East,” and not against the West as a whole, which is not yet weak enough for the terror to be effective. In this regard the struggle that the ultra-radical Islamists are waging against the West and its allies, on the one hand, and the Palestinian struggle against Israel, on the other, complement each other. Their common goal is to destroy the world order that the West created after the First World War, which included the dismantlement of the caliphate, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the adoption of the Balfour Declaration at the San Remo Conference as part of the British Mandate. This world order was reinforced after the Second World War, among other things by the decision to establish a Jewish State in Eretz Yisrael, whose implementation in the face of Muslim opposition is still rejected by the Palestinians and by radical Islam in all its variants. Thus, the terror against Israel and the terror against the West are two sides of the same coin from an ideological standpoint as well, not only regarding its methods and the means of fighting it. Israel needs to make this connection clearer to its friends in the West. What disturbs the Palestinians is that as radical Islam’s direct warfare against the West expands, they lose a key asset for promoting their goals. If, as is becoming increasingly clear, the Palestinian issue is not the heart of the problem, then the West’s expression of regret for its “crimes” on this issue will not solve the greater problem. The request for penance must be much more far-reaching; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently made dialogue with the United States conditional on an American request for Iran’s forgiveness. In addition, the more the connection between the two kinds of terror grows, the more the radical Islamic component of the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s existence as the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people and preference for a violent struggle to eliminate it, is exposed. The West would better understand how difficult it is to promote a settlement and may (as Israel would hope) come to understand that the terror against Israel is essentially part and parcel of the terror against the West. Israel’s outlawing of the northern branch of the Israeli Islamic movement, which is the arm of realistic radical Islam among the Israeli Arabs, is part of the struggle against this radical ideology. Unfortunately, many in the West still think that realistic radical Islam (Rouhani and the Muslim Brotherhood, for example) is a legitimate partner in the fight against the ultra-radical Islamists, and favor it over the pragmatic elements in the Islamic world. I’m afraid that even the current wave of attacks will not suffice to change this mindset.

* * *

A version of this article appeared in Ha’aretz on November 25, 2015

Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs]]>

10 Things to Know about the UN Partition Vote of November 29, 1947

1 which adopted the plan for the partition of Palestine recommended by the majority of the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). 33 states voted in favor of the resolution and 13 voted against. 10 states abstained. UN General Assembly vote on partition

  1. It was a historic resolution that expressed the then-prevailing view of most of the major states of the United Nations, which voted in favor of it.
  2. It established the principle of two states for two peoples.
  3. It recognized the uniqueness of Jerusalem and the Jewish people’s bond to the city.
  4. Had the Arabs agreed to live with the resolution as the Israelis did, despite its drawbacks from the standpoint of both sides, we would be in a different situation today with far fewer bereaved families on both sides.
  5. Because of the Arabs’ rejection of it and in light of their decision to fight its implementation, the resolution has not assumed any validity except for the historical symbolism of its basic content.
Hadassah hospital convoy
  1. The significance of its nonimplementation is that all the previously existing historical and legal rights as recognized by the Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate, and the San Remo Resolution have remained in force.
  2. From that time to the present, negotiation mechanisms prescribed by Resolution 242 (1967), the Camp David accords (1979), and the Oslo agreements (1993-1999) have not been completed and no solution has been agreed upon.
  3. Therefore, all the claims about Israel’s rights (and also, of course, about the Arabs’ rights) are still valid and remain unchanged until agreement on a permanent settlement is reached.
  4. Therefore, any assertion by the United Nations and the Europeans about the territory belonging to the Palestinians in fact contravenes the symbolic basis of the partition resolution.
  5. The time has come for the states to recognize this and stop contravening that symbolic basis.

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Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs]]>

Has France’s All-Out War on Terror Really Begun?

Already at the start of this year, on January 7, 1915, terror struck Paris. Jihadists with French citizenship carried out a massacre of the staff of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and against Jews in a kosher supermarket. Why have effective measures to prevent further attacks not been taken since then? Why has France still not internalized the fact that terror must be fought until it is extirpated? To understand why we have reached this point and the reasons why France is a primary Western target, the following points are essential: France is the symbol of liberty, enlightenment, and democratic values, which stand in complete contrast to the dark, barbaric ideology of the global terror organizations. France is indeed a Catholic country that separates religion and state. It is a secular republic where freedom of expression and freedom of the press are a supreme value anchored in basic laws. Apparently, the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were published and sparked the massacre last January did not deter the journalists or the authorities. In the past, France was a colonial empire that exploited the colonies’ natural resources and oppressed the local populations. France is a signatory to the Sykes-Picot agreement concluded 100 years ago. Today it is still trying to uphold that agreement – in stark opposition to the Islamic organizations that seek to dissolve it and erase the borders that the Western countries, and especially France, laid down in disregard of the national feelings and tribal intricacies of the local populations. France has continued to uphold the sovereignty of Lebanon and fight the regime of Bashar Assad whom it seeks to overthrow at any price. Yet, at the same time, it is fighting the Islamic State.

The Iranian Connection: Iranian President Rouhani was supposed to pay an official visit to Paris this week. Although the visit was canceled at the last minute because of the attacks, it would have been the first for Iran in a Western capital since the Vienna nuclear deal was signed on July 14, 2015. Shiite Iran, of course, is fighting the Sunni Islamic State and Al Qaeda-linked organizations in Syria and Iraq. On Thursday evening there was a terror attack in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut, a stronghold of Shiite Hizbullah, which is also fighting on Assad’s side. There is no doubt that the terrorists who attacked in Paris wanted to take revenge on France, which is not only fighting the Islamic State with aerial bombing but also was scheduled to receive the president of Iran, the sworn and loudly proclaimed Shiite enemy. Thus Islamic State has scored a double victory: mass murder in Paris and the canceled tour of the Shiite foe.
The French have still not forgotten the Algerian War. For their part, the French-born children of Maghrebi immigrants harbor a deep resentment toward the authorities and have been joining the ranks of the Islamic State and other Islamic movements with vengeance as their aim. The presence of eight to ten million Muslims in France strongly influences governmental decision-making as well as intelligence work. France indeed has good intelligence services and advanced military and technological capabilities. But it failed in this instance just as in January, and the intelligence failure that undoubtedly occurred must be investigated immediately and thoroughly. France also must invest huge resources in intelligence and skilled manpower. At the same time, it has to be pointed out that because of a measure of arrogance France has refused over the years to cooperate with Western countries including Israel. Since September 11, 2001 that has changed for the better and there are now closer ties with France. Numerous French intellectuals, opinion leaders, and radicals still see the terrorists as freedom fighters, as underground activists who wage a just fight against all occupation and repression. This is particularly evident regarding the Palestinian issue even though France has no direct connection with the conflict.

French Hesitancy

Although Israel has warned more than once in recent years about the danger lying in wait for France, the authorities have preferred to divert their gaze for various reasons including electoral considerations. They make a mistake, of course, when they are loath to call those responsible for the terror wave “Islamic terrorists.” Even though Israel is disappointed with France’s diplomacy toward it and especially on the Palestinian issue, today Israel, of course, stands united with the French people in their struggle against terror and wishes the authorities well. Israel will always be prepared to help. France, which has acted commendably in Africa and Afghanistan and currently against the Islamic State, must do some real soul-searching. Terror has crossed the Mediterranean and is striking Europe. France must unhesitatingly change its strategy and its naïve and obliging attitude toward the radical migrants. It also must take drastic measures against the incitement in the mosques in France even if individual freedoms must be infringed. War mandates an all-out fight until victory, while, of course, upholding the fundamental values of an enlightened democracy. Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs]]>

Secrets under the Al-Aqsa Mosque: A Photographic Essay

Lenny Ben-David

The current Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammed Ahmad Hussein, declared on October 25, 2015, that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was a mosque built on the site “3,000 years ago, and 30,000 years ago… since the creation of the world.”

Temple Mount, 1915.

In his interview with Israel’s Channel 2, the Mufti also insisted that there never was a Jewish Temple or shrine atop the Temple Mount.3

Short History Lesson

Jews believe that the “foundation rock” beneath the Dome of the Rock is atop Mt. Moriah, the site of the binding of Isaac. King Solomon built his Temple upon the rock in the tenth century before the Common Era (BCE), but it was destroyed in 587 BCE by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Seventy years later, the second Temple was built by Jews returning from Babylon with King Cyrus’s blessing. Years later it was rededicated by the Maccabees in approximately 160 BCE after its defiling by the Seleucids.

Interior of the Dome of the Rock

In the first century BCE, the Second Temple, built by the returnees from Babylon, was rebuilt and massively expanded by King Herod. To accommodate the large Temple building and administrative offices, the Mt. Moriah plateau was expanded to become a colossal platform with huge retaining walls. The Western Wall, the prayer site for Jews over the centuries, was part of the retaining walls. Roman armies commanded by Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 CE.

Muslims believe that Muhammed (570 – 632 CE) was transported on a heavenly creature from Mecca to the Al Aqsa Mosque and then to heaven in his “Night Journey.” The mosque was constructed in the late seventh century CE and rebuilt several times after major earthquakes destroyed it.

The golden Dome of the Rock is a shrine built over the foundation stone in 691 CE.

The Crusaders captured Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in 1099 and converted the Al Aqsa Mosque into a palace and the Dome of the Rock into a church. Saladin captured Jerusalem in 1187 and restored the mosque.

The 1927 Earthquake Revealed More about the Mosque

The current Mufti surely knows that the Al Aqsa Mosque suffered a major collapse during an earthquake in 1927. Renovation took several years, and in that period at least two Christian photographers, including British archeologist Robert Hamilton, ventured into and under the mosque. Hamilton, from the British Archaeological Authority, “photographed, sketched, excavated and analyzed” what he saw, according to Nadav Shragai, a scholar on Jerusalem, writing in Yisrael HaYom.4 But Hamilton promised the Islamic Authorities, the Waqf, that he would make “no mention of any findings that the Muslims would have found inconvenient” such as findings from the time of the Jewish Temples. The photographers documented the mosaics, passageways, cisterns, and lumber that apparently were part of the Temples.

Many of Hamilton’s photos may be viewed today on the site of the British Authority’s successor, the Israel Antiquities Authority.5 Other pictures may be found in the Library of Congress’ archives of the American Colony photographers.

Al Aqsa rafters

Al Aqsa rafters

Al Aqsa after the earthquake

Under the Al Aqsa Ruins

The two photographers documented what they found under the al Aqsa ruins, on the other side of the sealed “Double Gate” (Sha’arei Chulda) along the interior of the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The American Colony photographer captioned this picture, “The Temple area. The Double Gate. Ancient entrance to temple beneath el Aksa.”7

Subterranean passage

Column in the subterranean passage

Subterranean passageway

Subterranean passageway

Many of these sites and structures may have been destroyed in recent years by the Waqf’s (Muslim Council) bulldozers during their construction of subterranean mosques under the Temple Mount. Fortunately, photographs still exist and were digitized by archivists so we can document what were probably parts of the Jewish Temple complex and what the Mufti denies.

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2 Ottoman Imperial Archives,[email protected]/22127893740/
3 “Jerusalem Mufti: Temple Mount never Housed Jewish Temple,” Times of Israel,
6 Journal of Archaeological Science, 1997.

* * *

Lenny Ben-David publishes where many of these pictures first appeared.
Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Russia Begins to Bleed in Syria

Yoni Ben Menachem

It was only a matter of time before the Russian soldiers recently sent to assist the Syrian army of Bashar al-Assad began to be injured by rebel fire.  Although Russia is busy conducting extensive air strikes on rebel strongholds in Syria, and at this stage is not involved in a ground war, soldiers stationed in Latakia still suffered losses in the battle for the city.

Reuters reported on October 20, 2015, the deaths of three Russian soldiers in Latakia, as a result of a rebel force shelling attack.  Previously, on October 13, 2015, rebels shelled the Russian embassy in Damascus.

Elite Russian soldiers

It is still unclear what Russia’s military plan in Syria is – and if President Putin, despite his denials, intends to continue deploying more soldiers in the campaign in order to decisively back Basher Assad.

The Syrian jihadi opposition and “moderate” opposition both assure Russia that they should expect to sink in the Syrian quagmire, as Russia experienced in its previous entanglement with Afghanistan. The global “Muslim Brotherhood” movement declared a jihad against the Russian soldiers in Syria. It appears like Putin’s army adventure is going to be long and steeped in blood.

The London-based newspaper “Rai Al-Youm” reported on October 19, 2015 that Russia is preparing a military offensive against all Syrian opposition groups at the end of this month. U.S. intelligence sources told the newspaper that Russia is sending forces, and military equipment has been unloaded at the port of Tartus. The coming Russian assault is expected to be integrated with the Syrian army, Hizbullah, and Iran’s “Revolutionary Guards.”

Reports from various Syrian sources indicate that despite massive aerial bombardment by Russian planes on rebel strongholds, rebel forces are fighting stubbornly and still managing to inflict heavy losses in recent days on Hizbullah and Iranian forces.

Syrian opposition groups have recently been supplied with anti-tank weapons which help inflict heavy losses to Hizbullah and Iranian forces. These opposition groups are supported with funds and weapons provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

According to a report on October 21, 2015 in the Saudi newspaper “Al-Hayat,” the “Free Syrian Army,” thought to be a more moderate organization and bombed by Russian planes, also received anti-tank missiles.

Were these weapons sent from the United States to the “Free Syrian Army” in order to deal with the Russian army?

It is important to recall that the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and arm a moderate Syrian opposition – failed.  In Syria, people do not rule out the possibility that the Americans have begun to equip the moderate rebels with anti-tank weapons to thwart the military plans of the Russian president.

According to Arab media reports, Russia warned the Saudis several weeks ago not to supply anti-aircraft missiles to Syrian rebel forces, which could jeopardize Russian pilots.

The political efforts to find a solution to the situation in Syria have stalled. The Saudi defense minister, Muhammad bin Salman, recently visited Moscow but failed to persuade the Russian leadership to abandon Bashar al-Assad. There appears to be an understanding between Russia and the West about a six month transition period in Syria, during which President Bashar al-Assad will remain in his position until elections.  However, on this front there has been no progress, and Syrian opposition strongly oppose this “compromise,” while the “dialogue” is conducted by intensive gunfire on the battleground.

President Bashar Assad is holding onto his position thanks to the Russian military intervention that provides him some breathing room, even though Assad controls only about 20 percent of the original Syrian territory, in what is called the “coastal state.”

The Russian army is doing everything to ensure the absolute control of this area, even though it is routinely attacked by insurgents.

President Putin laid bare for the world President Obama’s failed policies in Syria.  Putin surprised Obama militarily in Syria, but it is not enough to save Bashar al-Assad. In order to survive, the Syrian president needs a decisive military victory on the ground.

Such a victory cannot be achieved by continued air raids. Just as the West’s coalition failed to defeat ISIS with its air strikes, a victory may only be achieved by military forces on the ground.

If President Putin intends to continue this military involvement in the future by integrating Russian ground troops against the rebels, he should take into account that the price will be high and Russian blood will be spilled.
Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

International Supervision of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites Has a Dark History of Failure

Lenny Ben-David

On October 16, 2015, the French Ambassador to the United Nations tabled a draft text before the UN Security Council calling for international observers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. A source told Le Figaro, “This will put in place independent observers able to identify possible violations of the status quo.”1

Desecrated graves on Mount of Olives cemetery

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu strongly rejected the French diplomatic foray. “There is no mention [in the French draft] of Palestinian incitement and Palestinian terrorism, and it calls for the internationalization of the Temple Mount.” Netanyahu said on October 18, 2015. “We’ve already seen what happens in holy sites in the Middle East when extreme Muslims destroy each other’s mosques, Christian sites, heritage sites, Jewish sites,” the Israeli leader said.2

Just this week, Jews were horrified to see the Palestinian destruction of the venerated Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem/Nablus.

International Observers Failed for 19 Years

But the absolute failure of United Nations international supervisors tasked with overseeing Jerusalem’s Jewish holy sites between 1949 and 1967 is a flashing red light warning of France’s initiative.

The UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was officially established by UN Security Council Resolution 50 on May 29, 1948 for peacekeeping in the Middle East. On August 11, 1949, UN Resolution 73 mandated that UNTSO was responsible for “observing and maintaining the cease-fires and Armistices” after the Palestine Conflict. [Emphasis added.]

One of those Armistice Agreements, between Jordan and Israel and signed on April 3, 1949,3 called for the “resumption of the normal functioning of the cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mount Scopus and free access thereto; free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives…” [Emphasis added.]

UNTSO utterly failed in its mandate to maintain the Armistice for 19 years.4  Specifically:

  • The cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mt. Scopus – Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital – were shut.
  • There was no access to Jewish Holy Sites, particularly the Western Wall. Ancient Jewish synagogues in the Jewish Quarter were razed.
  • The Jewish cemetery was not only off limits to Jews, but the ancient cemetery was desecrated, with tombstones used as paving stones.5 Roads and a hotel were built atop many graves.6

Members of the TIPH

UNTSO still maintains its headquarters in Jerusalem, although it plays no observer role in Israel. Some of its functions have evolved: UNTSO military observers are “today attached to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping forces.”7

The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was an international observer mission established in 1997 to give Palestinians of Hebron “a feeling of security.” Its 180 personnel are from Norway, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.8

Like the feckless UNTSO, TIPH still exists today, although few can explain their mission or relevancy today.  Both organizations require Israel’s agreement to operate and function.

* * *


1 Le Figaro, Jérusalem: la France réclame des observateurs sur l’esplanade des lieux saints, October 16, 2015.

2 Ha’aretz, Netanyahu: Israel Rejects French Draft on Temple Mount, October 18, 2015.

3 Jordan-Israel Armistice Agreement, April 3, 1949.

4 “Israel Alleges Desecration of Holy Places,” Jerusalem Post, November 16, 1961. “On November 15, Foreign Minister Golda Meir said in the Knesset that the Government had information regarding the desecration of Rachel’s Tomb and the Mount of Olives [Jewish] cemetery in Jordanian territory [both in the vicinity of Jerusalem].  Appeals to the UN had proved fruitless.  [Emphasis added.] The source of this evil, she pointed out, was Jordan’s failure to honour Paragraph 8 of the Armistice Agreement providing for access to Jewish holy places in Jordan.”

See also Nadav Shragai, “Rachel’s Tomb, a Jewish Holy Place, Was Never a Mosque,” November 8, 2010, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

5 Nadav Shragai, “The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem: Why Continued Israeli Control Is Vital,” July 28, 2009, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

6 Mark Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict [University of Indiana Press, 1994].  “A vivid portrait of the situation is given by [John] Oesterricher, a Christian clergyman and scholar: ‘During Jordanian rule, 34 out of the Old City’s 35 synagogues were dynamited.  Some were turned into stables, others in chicken coops.  There seemed to be no limit to the work of desecration.  Many thousands of tombstones were taken from the ancient cemetery of Mount of Olives to serve as building material and paving stones.  A few were even used to surface a footpath leading to a latrine in a Jordanian army camp.”
7United Nations Truce Supervision Organization

8 Temporary International Presence in Hebron.

Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Growing Tensions in Jerusalem amid Holy Days


The violent events at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, were provoked by the group known as Al-Mourabitoun (and the women’s branch Al-Mourabitat), which is allied with the northern branch of the Israeli Islamic Movement headed by Sheikh Raed Salah. The disturbances have created a very tense atmosphere in Jerusalem and prompted extensive Arab diplomatic activity aimed at securing international condemnation of Israel.

Rioters on the Temple Mount
Rioters on the Temple Mount near the Al Aqsa Mosque (Palestinian news agencies)

r now this Arab activity has not particularly borne fruit. But with both Yom Kippur and the Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha this week, the tensions could erupt in a wave of Palestinian retaliatory attacks in the Jerusalem area such as vehicular attacks or stabbings.

The Palestinian Authority and Jordan are competing with each other in appealing to Arab states and the international community, and in issuing condemnations of the Temple Mount events. Jordan, in accordance with its peace treaty with Israel, regards itself as custodian of the mosques there, while Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas views himself as the Palestinians’ representative based on his status as PLO leader. King Abdullah of Jordan has been subtly threatening that if Israel does not cease its activities on the Mount, Jordan will take measures such as withdrawing its ambassador from Tel Aviv or summoning the Israeli ambassador in Amman to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry for a reprimand and warning.

On September 15, 2015, Abbas called King Abdullah and asked him to push the United Nations Security Council to urgently convene on what has been happening at Al-Aqsa. Jordan is currently the only Arab state sitting on the Security Council.

On September 14, the PLO Executive Committee met in Ramallah and decided to continue contacts with the Arab League, Jordan, and the Islamic Organization aimed at cooperating on the Temple Mount issue. Khaled Mashal, head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, called Abbas and claimed that Israel was trying to impose a division between Jewish and Muslim prayer times on the Mount as it had done previously at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. According to a Hamas announcement, Mashal demanded that Abbas urgently convene the temporary framework of the PLO, which includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to formulate a unified policy and strategy on Al-Aqsa.

Abdullah has also been talking by phone with Egypt’s President Sisi in an attempt to recruit him, too, to the Arab effort on the Temple Mount issue.

So far, aside from condemnations and declarations, Jordan and the PA have not succeeded to get either the Security Council or the Arab League to convene.

The situation in east Jerusalem is, however, explosive, and much depends on what Israel does on the ground. What is needed is a massive strengthening of the police in Jerusalem and on the mount, while barring the Al-Mourabitoun activists from the Mount.

As both Jewish and Muslim holidays approach, this week will be a particularly sensitive time on the Temple Mount.

Only a firm Israeli policy and massive police presence that prevents violent acts can calm the storm.
Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

The Disintegration of Syria and Its Impact on Israel

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser

    • Syria’s fragmentation into separate, battling enclaves is intensifying. The two main enclaves are “central Syria,” controlled by the Assad regime, and the Islamic State.
    • The Assad regime and Hizbullah, like the opposition, have been taking heavy casualties. In an unusual speech on July 26, 2015, President Bashar Assad explained that in light of a manpower shortage, the regime’s army is unable to reconquer all the territories that the opposition has seized.
    • The nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers has boosted Iran’s capacity to support the Assad regime. The anticipated lifting of the sanctions on Iran is set to enable it to funnel additional resources to this purpose, to which Iran assigns very high priority.
    • Iran and Hizbullah’s attempts to create a base for terror activity against Israel from the northern Golan Heights apparently continue, relying on released terrorist Samir Kuntar and Druze elements.
    • Against the backdrop of the nuclear deal, there are increasing chances of cooperation between the United States, Iran, and Assad, and possibly also Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in the campaign against the Islamic State.


The complex civil war in Syria keeps developing in ways that reinforce the trends that have been evident for some time. Despite the reports on a number of proposals for ending the conflict, the chances of fostering a breakthrough remain unclear.

The recent period has seen the following notable developments:

The Assad regime, with the help of Hizbullah, continues to entrench its control of areas it regards as vital, namely, the Damascus-Homs-Hama coastal axis and the vicinity of the Lebanese border. Following the takeover of Qusayr and with the conclusion of the battles in the Qalamoun Mountains (with gains by Hizbullah but without a clear victory), the battle for Zabadani began. Although the regime and Hizbullah forces have made gains in this theater, where they enjoy a clear advantage, they have not yet been able to defeat the opposition, which in this area comprises local, relatively less extreme forces. In any case, the regime and Hizbullah, like the opposition, have been taking heavy casualties. In an unusual speech on July 26, 2015, President Bashar Assad explained that in light of a manpower shortage, the regime’s army is unable to reconquer all the territories that the opposition has seized, and accordingly he has to prioritize which territories to contest based on military, demographic, and economic considerations.

Turkish involvement is growing. Following the Islamic State terror attack in the Turkish town of Suruc on the Syrian border and the spate of terror attacks by the Kurdish underground within Turkey, the Turks decided to attack targets of the Islamic State and of the Kurdish underground in Iraq and to allow the United States to strike Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq from the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey. The United States and Turkey have also agreed to set up a safe zone along 95 kilometers of the Syrian border, thereby making it possible for Syrian refugees in Turkey to return to Syria. Meanwhile, Turkey is concentrating on attacking Kurdish targets, actions that, some believe, were approved by the Americans. In the face of Kurdish criticism, the U.S. Administration was forced to deny that the actions had received Washington’s approval.

Turkey and the Kurds

Against this backdrop, tension is mounting in the Kurdish part of Syria. The area has been taken over by the PYD – the Syrian sister movement of the Turkish PKK, which cooperates with the Assad regime and is successfully fighting the Islamic State in the areas of Kobani and Tall Abyad. Its military force, the PYG, is being aided by Peshmerga forces sent from Iraqi Kurdistan. In light of Turkey’s actions against the PKK, there are signs of stronger unity among the different Kurdish factions in Syria. Considering, however, that these factions tend to be suspicious of each other, this may be a temporary phenomenon.

The nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers has boosted Iran’s capacity to support the Assad regime. The anticipated lifting of the sanctions on Iran is set to enable it to funnel additional resources to this purpose, to which Iran assigns a very high priority. In addition, some believe that the United States now sees Iran as a subcontractor that will fight the Islamic State, which imperils Assad, and is ready to accept a central Iranian role in dealing with the crisis. Not surprisingly, then, the regime feels that it has been strengthened and is waiting for its expectations to materialize. Noteworthy in this context are the increasing contacts among supporters of the Assad regime, including the recent visit to Tehran by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who holds the Syria portfolio, apparently to discuss how the nuclear deal affects Syria and the various proposals for a settlement.

Is Assad’s Demise Inevitable?

Meanwhile, the regime keeps losing assets in areas it does not regard as strategically crucial. That is especially the case in the areas south and east of Damascus, including the Daraa, Sweida, and Tadmur (Palmyra) regions, and also in the north and particularly the Idlib and Aleppo regions. Recently the important city of Qaryatayn to the east of Homs (where many Christians live) fell to the Islamic State, and battles are raging around Hama, in which control of the territory keeps shifting back and forth. Many analysts have hastened to conclude from this phenomenon that the regime’s demise is now inevitable, its remaining days rapidly dwindling. It is doubtful, though, that this perception is accurate and even more doubtful that the perception has trickled down into the ranks of the regime. There appears to be no increase in the rate of senior figures’ desertion from its ranks.

As for the opposition, the Islamic forces keep gaining strength. The blow dealt by the Al-Nusra Front to Division 30 rebel troops, some of whose fighters were trained by the Americans, is further evidence of this fact. Although the Americans, nonplused, assert that from now on they will also protect the forces they have trained against their foes even within the opposition, it is doubtful that they will be able to do so. Meanwhile, the significance of the name-change for the grouping of Islamist factions that are less extreme than the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State is still unclear. At first this grouping called itself Jaish al-Fatah (the Army of Conquest/Victory), and it made gains in the Idlib region. Later it changed its name to Jaish al-Umawayn (the Army of the Sons of the Nation), emphasizing its members’ Syrian identity. Forces belonging to this grouping have been playing a central role in the fighting in the Zabadani area.

The contacts between Saudi Arabia and Russia, particularly the visit to Moscow by Defense Minister Muhammad bin Salman (the son of King Salman), are also viewed as potentially affecting the course of the Syrian imbroglio. Some see the beginnings of a Saudi-Russian understanding where, in return for the huge deal with Russia involving military purchases and the building of a nuclear power station, Russia will loosen its support of Assad and agree to his being replaced. Others see indications, conversely, that the Saudis have despaired. It is unclear to what extent either evaluation has any real basis. In any case, most of the reports claim that Saudi Arabia is offering to stop backing the opposition in return for certain concessions by Assad and his supporters.

Iran, Hizbullah and the Druze

 Iran and Hizbullah’s attempts to create a base for terror activity against Israel from the northern Golan Heights apparently continue, relying, among other things, on the support released terrorist Samir Kuntar enjoys among Druze elements in the border town of Al-Khader and on the assumption that the Assad regime will look favorably on such actions even if it does not initiate them. The attack attributed to Israel on a vehicle containing some Iranian and Druze Hizbullah operatives who, according to the reports, were killed, reflects this phenomenon. Israel is evidently working to prevent its enemies from exploiting the Syrian chaos to attack it or improve their capabilities to do so in the future.

Anxiety over these developments appears to be growing in the Druze community. Traditionally, the Druze have been committed to their Syrian nationality and to the Alawite-led alliance among the minorities that constitute about 40 percent of the country’s population. However, the less the regime controls the periphery as it focuses instead on maintaining control of “little Syria,” the more the Druze fear it will abandon them. In the main concentration of the Druze – the Druze Mountain, centered on the city of Suwaida – there is considerable concern about the fall of the nearby base of the Syrian army’s Brigade 52 into opposition hands. The regime’s attempts to maintain control in the area via the Alawite militia, the Shabiha, and to recruit Druze to its ranks have been opposed by local leaders, who have taken matters into their own hands and are even considering cooperating with the relatively moderate opposition forces active in the southern region, thereby countering the more substantial threat posed by the Islamic State after its conquest of Tadmur (Palmyra). As noted, the situation in the town of Al-Khader, situated on the Israeli border in the northern Golan Heights, is different, with the regime managing to maintain its control and retain the town’s loyalty, at least on the surface.

Given that Druze see themselves as mutually responsible for each other wherever they are located, these developments have direct implications for the Druze community in Lebanon and in Israel. The attacks by Druze on Israeli ambulances carrying injured Syrians, which occurred on the Israeli Golan and near Horfish in the Galilee, have sparked growing tension between the Druze, particularly in Al-Khader, and the relatively moderate opposition, which is perceived as being aided by Israel. Israel needs to intervene in this issue and reinforce its policy of avoiding direct involvement in the war while ensuring the security of the Druze, taking into account the blood pact between them and the Jewish people.

The main implications that emerge from these developments are:

Syria’s fragmentation into separate, battling enclaves is intensifying. The two main enclaves are “central Syria,” controlled by the Assad regime, and the Islamic State. Other enclaves are controlled by the communities that populate them (the Kurdish region in the north and the Druze Mountain in the south) or by Sunni opposition elements (part of Aleppo, Idlib, the southern Golan, and numerous rural areas around the main cities, including Damascus). All factions are fighting to expand their spheres of control or prevent gains by their enemies; and while each of these factions is pursuing local offensives and succeeding, the Islamic State is expanding its control in a way that could have strategic ramifications.

The fear of the Islamic State will probably lead external actors to boost their involvement in the fighting, thereby lessening the centrality of the regime’s struggle against the other insurgent groups. Against the backdrop of the nuclear deal, there are increasing chances of cooperation between the United States, Iran, and Assad, and possibly also Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in the campaign against the Islamic State. This situation, apparently, forms the background for initiatives to bring the war to an end.

Gains by the Assad regime, Iran, and Hizbullah in the crucial area of the Syrian-Lebanese border are likely, under these circumstances, to lead to intensified efforts by Iran and Hizbullah, as a secondary theater, to build capabilities for attacking Israel in the northern Golan.

In light of all these factors, and given the ongoing human distress, Israel may have no choice but to reconsider its policy toward the developments in Syria.


Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser is Director of the Project on the Regional Implications of the Syrian Civil War at the Jerusalem Center. He was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research and Analysis and Production Division of IDF Military Intelligence.


The PLO’s Mahmoud Abbas Searches for Legitimacy

Mahmoud AbbasPinhas Inbari

As expected, the head of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) announced his resignation from the PLO leadership, in the expectation that the Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian National Council (PNC), will renew his leadership mandate. The PNC will reconvene in the coming month, at which time Abu Mazen plans to be able to resume his leadership, distance his opposition, and also clear a pathway for his renewed opposition to Israel’s legitimacy in the United Nations. The problem that perhaps Abu Mazen has not considered properly is that the prospect for convening another Parliament session has worsened because of the continuing Arab upheavals and the ongoing schism with Gaza.

Abbas, who sits in Ramallah, estimated that it may not be possible to assemble the required legal quorum for the parliament; so he declared that the Council will indeed convene – just without the necessary quorum. However, there are serious questions about the implications of a “no-quorum” council, including questions about the extent of its power. The question remains over a “no-quorum” council and whether or not the turnout will prove to be enough to renew the legitimacy of Abbas’ leadership.

With respect to Gaza – several facts are clear – one of which is Hamas will not allow the PLO representatives to travel from the PLO offices in Gaza to Ramallah. Among the Palestinian political leadership in Syria this upcoming conference in Ramallah does not interest them at all. Palestinians in Syria are currently fighting for their very lives and are not impressed with the happenings in Ramallah or if anyone in Ramallah cares about them. In Lebanon, there currently is a war between the PLO and Al-Qaeda, and much like in Syria, the Palestinians there don’t care much for Abbas’ leadership issues.

Regarding the massive Palestinian community in Jordan, there are worrying developments that Jordan may rescind Jordanian citizenship from any person participating in the Palestinian conference in Ramallah. In this past year, there has been constant deterioration between the PLO and Jordan, especially over the status of Jerusalem. There is no confirmation of these rumors, however, previously Jordan moved to revoke citizenship from Palestinians, and therefore this rumor has credibility.

Abbas may find himself facing an empty assembly hall – or perhaps not since he will fill the seats – however, there will be many doubts whether this PNC conference will have the moral and constitutional validity to authorize the renewal of leadership of Mahmoud Abbas.

Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Iran Deal Will Trigger Major War in Middle East


Nima Gholam | Gatestone

  • The Islamic Republic of Iran, since its founding in 1979, has had an ideology that seeks to “export the Islamic revolution” — if necessary, by force.
  • Despite what President Obama likes to say, it is not true that the agreement, “permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” or “cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb.” This agreement means the U.S. has accepted that after 15 years, or sooner, Iran may build as many bombs as it likes.
  • Iran is not a country busy trying to preserve its own sovereignty. Iran, instead, undermines other countries’ sovereignty.
  • Iran’s regime is extremely pragmatic: it sees that its survival is not, threatened no matter what it does. It sees — as does everyone else – that transgressions are, in fact, rewarded.
  • Why does the U.S. wish to allow a regime that wants to destroy America’s closest Middle East ally to acquire more advanced conventional — and later, nuclear — weapons? Why would anyone allow a country that gives missiles to terrorists to get hold of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)?
  • If this agreement were about peace, why does Iran need more weapons? If Iran wants peace, why don’t they scrap their missile program and stop supporting terrorist organizations? If Iran wants peace, why does it want missiles that can reach other continents?
  • Hitler duped Chamberlain and presented himself as a man of peace. No one has duped President Obama. The mullahs openly say “Death to America.” Does Obama not know at whom the Iranians will point their nuclear-tipped ICBMs?
  • In the worst-case scenario, walking away from the deal still leaves the world in a position of deterrence that offers it better choices — before Iran becomes nuclear, not after.

If someone had asked you a year ago what would be the most efficient way to cause a major war in the Middle East, you might well have said: Giving the mullahs in Iran the opportunity to get advanced conventional weapons, ICBMs, nuclear weapons and tens of billion of dollars to fund terrorist organizations and destabilize other countries in the region. You might have argued that a regime that does not hesitate to attack targets in Washington or Berlin might not be the most prudent one to shower with gigantic quantities of money and the deadliest weapons.

If one knows anything about the regime in Iran, it is difficult to understand how U.S. President Barack Obama’s agreement with Iran could create anything other than chaos and war in the Middle East.

The content of the Iran nuclear agreement creates the perfect conditions for a major war in the Middle East, one which could spread and start a major regional conflict.

Despite what President Obama likes to say, it is not true that the agreement, “permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” or “cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb”. The agreement means that the U.S. has accepted that after 15 years, or sooner, Iran may build as many bombs as it likes.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, since its founding in 1979, has had an ideology that seeks to “export the Islamic revolution.” The phrase is not just a catchword for the mullahs. They have done it in practice, if necessary by force. After coming to power in 1979, the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, called on the Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq to revolt and establish an Islamic republic. The mullahs’ efforts to export the Islamic revolution to Iraq was one of the causes of the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted eight years and resulted in possibly a million deaths. Despite intense resistance from Arab countries, Khomeini’s Islamic revolution has been successfully exported to Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

Iran is not a country busy trying to preserve its own sovereignty. Iran, instead, undermines other countries’ sovereignty. In the case of Israel’s, the regime in Iran is threatening the nation’s entire existence. Even more astonishing is that the president of the United States gets peevish — and threatens American Jews — when Israel’s prime minister reminds the public of that.

The regime in Iran has carried out terror attacks against Americans in Lebanon[1] and in European cities. A German court has stated that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, organized terrorist attacks in Germany. Several times, Iranian agents have been arrested in Europe when they were attempting to organize terror attacks.

Iran was behind the World Trade center attacks.

As late as 2011, Iran planned to assassinate the Saudi ambassador and attack the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Washington.

Iranian forces, both directly and through Hezbollah proxies, have been responsible for over 1,000 American military fatalities over the last decade and a half. Iran has continuously backed the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, providing it with money, training, and weapons.

Iran’s regime is, countrary to rumors, extremely pragmatic: it sees that no matter what it does, its survival is not threatened even slightly. Iran’s regime sees — as does everyone else – that even the worst transgressions are, on the contrary, rewarded.

The regime is simply following Khomeini’s original ideology to “export the revolution” and to fight against Western influence, which he called “Westoxification.”

Iran’s regime has always done what it says it will do. Experience shows that when the mullahs in Iran say “Death to America,” they mean it with actual and real consequences. When the mullahs first shouted “Death to America,” a slogan that started in 1978-1979 in response to American support for the Shah, they followed that up by having the Iranian-backed Hezbollah kill 241 American soldiers in Beirut on October 23, 1983. Iran then continued to ensure that Americans died in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Iraq- and Afghanistan wars.

In the same vein, when the Iranian regime shouts “Death to Israel,” it sends weapons and resources to Hamas and Hezbollah, while organizing a conference for the world’s anti-Semites who deny that the Holocaust happened.

This is the Iranian regime with which the current U.S. administration would like seal a deal, under which Iran will, after 10-15 years — or sooner — be legitimately able to enrich sufficient quantities of uranium to produce many nuclear weapons.

For each of the 36 years the Iranian regime has been in power, despite strong resistance from Arab countries, Turkey, Israel and the United States, its influence and ambitions have increased. There is no reason to think that with an infusion of $150 billion, the regime in Tehran will not be even more aggressive and proceed to build its nuclear bomb.

The regime in Iran has demonstrated no plans to become less militant, create a democracy, or even to release the American hostages it continues to hold on trumped-up charges in unspeakable Iranian prisons.

Part of the regime’s triumph even seems to consist in humiliating the United States as exhaustively as it can.

The P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US; plus Germany) have agreed that Iran can buy conventional weapons after five years, and ICBMs after eight years. But why would any civilized nation allow a country that arms terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas to buy advanced conventional weapons? They will simply be passed on to Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran does not even deny that it supports Hamas and Hezbollah.

Iran already has missiles that can reach Israel and parts of Europe. Iran already has supplied missiles, such as the Fajr 5, to Hezbollah. Why would anyone allow a country that gives missiles to terrorists to get hold of ICBMs that can be fired from one continent to another ?

It is also Iran’s official government policy that Israel should be destroyed. Why does the U.S. wish to allow a regime that wants to destroy America’s closest ally in the Middle East to get more advanced conventional — and later, nuclear — weapons?

If you listen to the mullahs in Tehran, Americans and Israelis are the targets. Therefore, these conventional weapons will be directed against the Americans and Israelis, wherever they are.

That the mullahs, thanks to this deal, will get $150 billion is not rational. When a country or organization supports terrorism, you freeze its assets. Iran continues openly to support terrorism; this deal gives Iran access to $150 billion dollars to support more terrorism.

Under the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can inspect only Iran’s declared nuclear facilities — and that only with a 24-day delay, in addition to having to disclose to the Iranians what evidence has caused the site to be inspected.

The IAEA, however, even at its best, has never found anything. Iran’s secret nuclear program was discovered by an Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in 2002. There is nothing that says Iran will not have more secret nuclear programs unavailable to the IAEA.

The entire agreement is based on these mullahs showing goodwill towards the West, which they no doubt see as a threat that could lure their people away from the righteous course of Islamism. President Obama’s approach seems to be based on the hope that one of the most fanatical regimes in the world will suddenly become honest and peaceful — that the same regime that shouts “Death to America” will actually present all its military installations and secrets to its arch-enemy, the United States, through the good offices of the IAEA.

Let us not ask President Obama to care about all those wrongly imprisoned, tortured and hanged in Iran every year. Let us not ask President Obama to care about Iranians who would like the same democracy and the freedom they begged him for in 2009. President Obama needs only to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East. But allowing these mullahs to get advanced conventional weapons in five years, ICBMs in eight years, and nuclear weapons in 15 years — or sooner — is to create the conditions for a larger regional conflict that, in this era of globalizaton, will surely spread to the West.

If this agreement were about peace, why do the Iranians need more weapons? If Iran wants peace, why don’t they scrap their missile program and stop supporting terrorist organizations that want to destroy Israel? If Iran wants peace, why does it want weapons that can reach other continents? Which country is threatening Iran’s sovereignty today, that makes Iran want more advanced weapons?

If anyone has ICBMs and says “Death to America”, what do you think he will do with those ICBMs?

There are those who compare the Iran deal to the Munich Agreement of 1938. The Iran deal is much worse. Hitler duped Chamberlain and presented himself as a man of peace. No one has duped President Obama. The mullahs openly say “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and have backed up their words with actions.

It was the Iranians who helpfully exposed inconsistencies in the nuclear deal, which the U.S. government had presumably hoped to hide from Americans, such as two side-deals Iran has with the IAEA.[2]

Why would an American president do this? Does he not know at whom the Iranians will point their ICBMs?

This deal, combined with the expansionist policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, can only lead directly to the biggest war of the 21st-century — Obama’s War, even if he is not in office any more. The mullahs will not start loving Israel. The Saudis, Turks, Egyptians and Emiratis are not just going to sit and watch Iran get nuclear weapons. No Arab country wants to be the next Syria, Lebanon, Yemen or Iraq, and Israelis have no desire to be, as threatened, wiped off the map.

The alternative is to walk away from the deal. Instead of a major war becoming the only scenario, the worst-case scenario would become a limited bombing campaign now to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Even if the results lasted, as critics charge, “only” two or three years, at least Iran — and global onlookers — would understand that there are real consequences for rogue behavior; and that there could always be further rounds later, if needed.

At the very least, massive damage to select nuclear facilities would not be seen as a reward. In the worst-case scenario, walking away from the deal still leaves the world in a position of deterrence that offers it better choices before Iran becomes nuclear, not after.

Even no deal with Iran leads to a more peaceful and stable Middle East than President Obama’s bad deal.

Nima Gholam Ali Pour is active in the pro-democracy organization CENTIA, and is a member of the board of education in the Swedish city of Malmö.

[1] In 1983, a U.S. Marines barracks was attacked by terrorists from Hezbollah, who were backed, supported, and directed by Iran.

[2] A Persian-language statement that described the original agreement with Obama had a number of inconsistencies with the English version, some of which go completely against the agreement itself.


Is Spain Fueling the BDS War Against Israel?

Soeren Kern | Gatestone

  • Spain’s center-right government under Mariano Rajoy continues to pursue policies that are antagonistic towards Israel — policies that are virtually unchanged from the government of former Socialist Prime Minister of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero — policies that largely coincide with the objectives of the BDS movement.
  • Although Spain’s Foreign Minister has repeatedly said that the government does not support a boycott against Israel, under his watch the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the Foreign Ministry’s primary aid-giving agency, has continued to subsidize organizations that work to delegitimize Israel.
  • Between 2009 and 2011, the Zapatero government funneled more than €15 million of Spanish taxpayer funds to Palestinian and Spanish non-governmental organizations that are among the leaders in campaigns aimed at delegitimizing Israel via BDS, lawfare and other forms of demonization, according to a comprehensive analysis published by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.
  • The Rajoy government continues to fund NGOs that are involved in anti-Israel activities.
  • According to the Official Gazette of the Spanish State, for example, NOVA-Centre per la Innovació Social, a Barcelona-based NGO with a history of anti-Israel activism, is slated to receive more than €200,000 in 2015… AECID awarded €200,000 in 2014 to the Catalan Association for Peace, a group that has co-organized a three-year project to “raise awareness” for the BDS movement against Israel.
  • “The EU calls our ambassadors in because of the construction of a few houses? When did the EU call in the Palestinian ambassadors about incitement that calls for Israel’s destruction?… They don’t tell the Palestinians that they have to make their peace with a nation-state for the Jewish people. They just give the Palestinians a nation-state.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • Meanwhile, Spanish BDS activists continue their efforts to prevent Israeli artists from performing at Spanish music festivals, and vice versa.

The Jewish American singer Matisyahu has been re-invited to perform at an international music festival in Spain, days after he was disinvited for refusing to make a public statement about his position on Israel’s “apartheid policies” against the Palestinians.

The organizers of the Rototom Sunsplash festival, an annual reggae festival held in Benicasim, a resort town on the Mediterranean coast, said in a statement that they were sorry for cancelling Matisyahu’s concert and that he was now welcome to perform at the festival on August 22, as originally scheduled.

The organizers said that the decision to disinvite Matisyahu — an American citizen who does not hold an Israeli passport — was due to a “campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed” by BDS País Valencià, a local branch of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In a post on his Facebook page, Matisyahu wrote:

“The festival organizers contacted me because they were getting pressure from the BDS movement. They wanted me to write a letter, or make a video, stating my positions on Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to pacify the BDS people. I support peace and compassion for all people. My music speaks for itself, and I do not insert politics into my music. Music has the power to transcend the intellect, ideas, and politics, and it can unite people in the process. The festival kept insisting that I clarify my personal views; which felt like clear pressure to agree with the BDS political agenda. Honestly it was appalling and offensive, that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements. Were any of the other artists scheduled to perform asked to make political statements in order to perform? No artist deserves to be put in such a situation simply to perform his or her art. Regardless of race, creed, country, cultural background, etc, my goal is to play music for all people. As musicians that is what we seek. – Blessed Love, Matis”

The decision to ban Matisyahu was applauded by Compromís per Castellón, the provincial branch of the left-wing coalition that governs alongside the Socialist Party in the Province of Valencia. Compromís spokesman Ignasi García issued a statement calling on Matisyahu to “make clear his views on the ‘apartheid the Palestinian people are subjected to every day.'” He said that although “we respect free speech and artistic expression,” the festival “is about more than music, and we do not accept certain [pro-Israel] attitudes as normal.”

Not surprisingly, the move to ban Matisyahu, whose given name is Matthew Paul Miller, ignited a firestorm of international criticism and, once again, cast a spotlight on the problem of anti-Semitism masquerading as criticism of Israel in Spain.

In a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, wrote:

“The organizers have done the honorable thing and apologized. However, this affair leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths. It was yet another example of how anti-Jewish attitudes, dressed up as vicious and unfair criticism of Israel, are still widespread, and are especially prevalent in a number of far-left global political parties. This affair also showed that the BDS movement is rotten at its core: Although pretending to fight racism, it is fuelled by anti-Semitism. It’s time people realize that and stop listening to this vicious form of propaganda.”

The Spanish Foreign Ministry, which is spending tens of millions of euros to improve Spain’s image abroad, distanced itself from the imbroglio. In a statement it said:

“The Government of Spain condemns the cancellation of Matisyahu’s performance at the Rototom reggae music festival in Benicasim. The obligation for him to make a public statement, one that only he was required to provide, constitutes a violation of the freedom of conscience, and to the extent that this was determined by Matisyahu’s Jewishness, calls into question the principle of non-discrimination, which is the basis of plural and diverse societies.

“The Government expresses its understanding for the unease expressed by Jewish communities and reiterates its rejection of all manifestations of anti-Semitism.

“Spain also reiterates its rejection of campaigns that call for boycotts of Israel, as well as its strong position in favor of a negotiated solution on the basis of an independent State of Palestine living in peace and prosperity with Israel.”

At the same time, however, Mariano Rajoy’s center-right government continues to pursue policies that are antagonistic towards Israel — policies that are virtually unchanged from the government of former Socialist Prime Minister of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero — policies that largely coincide with the objectives of the BDS movement in Spain and elsewhere.

In March 2013, for example, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo announced a plan to open a Spanish consulate in Gaza, accredited to Hamas. He backtracked after learning that the EU classifies Hamas as a terrorist organization, and that his plan would have established Spain as the only EU country with a consulate in Gaza.

In January 2014, the Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the Spanish ambassador to protest his “perpetual one-sided stance” vis-à-vis the Palestinians. At a press conference after the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was “time to stop this hypocrisy” and “inject some balance and fairness to this discussion.” He added: “The EU calls our ambassadors in because of the construction of a few houses? When did the EU call in the Palestinian ambassadors about incitement that calls for Israel’s destruction?”

In August 2014, the Spanish government announced an arms embargo against Israel aimed at forcing the Jewish state to halt its military operations against Hamas. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to stop incessant rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, which Hamas had restarted shortly after the terrorist group kidnapped and murdered of three Israeli teenagers.

In November 2014, García-Margallo praised the Spanish parliament for voting overwhelmingly to recognize “Palestine” as a state. He said: “I want to express my satisfaction that all political parties have decided to vote for this declaration.”

Netanyahu said the resolution was counterproductive. “They don’t tell the Palestinians that they have to make their peace with a nation-state for the Jewish people. They just give the Palestinians a nation-state.”

In January 2015, García-Margallo called for an inquiry into the death of a Spanish peacekeeper in southern Lebanon. Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo died after being wounded by Israeli artillery fired in retaliation for a Hezbollah attack that killed two Israeli soldiers. García-Margallo said he “would not hesitate to bring those responsible to justice,” a no-so-veiled threat to prosecute Israel officials. The Israeli Ambassador to Spain, Alon Bar, said that the UN peacekeepers were partly to blame, because they had failed in their duty to prevent Hezbollah from firing into Israel.

Although García-Margallo has repeatedly said that Spain does not support a boycott against Israel, under his watch the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the Foreign Ministry’s primary aid-giving agency, has continued to subsidize organizations that work to delegitimize Israel.

Between 2009 and 2011, the Zapatero government funneled more than €15 million ($20 million) of Spanish taxpayer funds to Palestinian and Spanish non-governmental organizations that are among the leaders in ideological campaigns aimed at delegitimizing Israel via BDS, lawfare and other forms of demonization, according to a comprehensive analysis published by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.

Anti-Israel activists in Gijón, Spain are pictured above calling for a boycott and sanctions against the Jewish state, in 2012.

Although the Spanish financial crisis has led to a steep reduction in Spain’s foreign aid budget — Spanish support for Palestinian causes has decreased from €71.3 million in 2009, €32.5 million in 2010 and €48.9 million in 2011, to €11 million annually from 2015 to 2017 — the Rajoy government continues to fund NGOs that are involved in anti-Israel activities.

According to the August 18 edition of Official Gazette of the Spanish State, for example, NOVA-Centre per la Innovació Social, a Barcelona-based NGO with a history of anti-Israel activism, is slated to receive more than €200,000 in 2015 for a project to “promote the political participation of women and the rule of law in Palestine.”

NOVA also received €270,000 (2014) to “strengthen the mechanisms for the implementation of international humanitarian law” in Gaza.

NOVA was instrumental in launching the so-called Russell Tribunal on Palestine, an ongoing “people’s tribunal” that puts Israel “on trial” for “crimes against humanity.” The tribunal recently said that it “commends and restates its support for the BDS campaign, which needs to be stepped up within the European Union and expanded to other states, regional organizations and intergovernmental institutions.”

NOVA, which supports a flotilla to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, has also co-organized “Free Palestine, Boycott Israel,” a three-year effort to promote BDS activities against Israel.

AECID also awarded €76,000 (2015) to a group calling itself the State Coordinator for Fair Trade (Coordinadora Estatal de Comercio Justo, CECJ) for a project cryptically titled “Entangled for Fair Trade” (Enredados por un comercio justo.) The CECJ is a member of the Network of Alternative Economics and Solidarity (Red de Redes de Economía Alternativa y Solidaria, REAS), a group that is active in anti-Israel BDS activities.

AECID awarded more than €30,000 (2015) to an NGO called Soldepaz Pachakuti for a project titled “Cooperation for Peace, Defending What is Shared.” Soldepaz Pachakuti is a member of Nodo50, a network of “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist” groups heavily involved in the BDS movement against Israel.

AECID awarded €300,000 (2015) to a Madrid-based NGO called Movimiento por la Paz, El Desarme y la Libertad (MPDL), a group that supports the Russell Tribunal as well as “Rumbo a Gaza” (On Course to Gaza) which aims to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

In 2014, AECID awarded €468,000 to a group called “Alianza por la Solidaridad” to perform humanitarian work in the Gaza Strip. In April 2015, the group signed a briefing paper titled “Charting a New Course: Overcoming the Stalemate in Gaza” which calls on the international community to develop a “common response to the government of Israel if immediate progress is not made to lift the blockade.” Implicit is the threat to implement boycotts and prosecute Israeli leaders.

AECID awarded €60,000 (2014) to a group called “Iniciativas de Economía Alternativa y Solidaria (IDEAS),” which supports a BDS initiative called “Spaces Free of Israeli Apartheid,” (Espacios Libres de Apartheid Israelí, ELAI).

AECID awarded €200,000 (2014) to the Catalan Association for Peace (L’Associació Catalana per la Pau), a group that has co-organized a three-year project to “raise awareness” for the BDS movement against Israel.

AECID appropriated €200,000 (2014) to “support the institutional functioning” of the “Diplomatic Mission of Palestine in Spain.”

In 2013, AECID awarded €270,000 to “Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights,” an Israeli NGO, to “improve access to Area C [an administrative division in the West Bank] for the Palestinian population.” Bimkom’s executive director, Hedva Radovanitz, once told US embassy officials “that she believed that in 100 years Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”

Also in 2013, AECID awarded €150,000 to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a well-known anti-Israel NGO, for a project titled: “Improve the collection of information, testimonies and documents about violations of human rights in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the local and international broadcasting of abuses committed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

In January 2015, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) presented García-Margallo with a report documenting how AECID was funding anti-Semitic exhibitions and forums in Spanish cities.

One such exhibition, organized by the Autonomous University of Madrid, displayed a map of Israel covered with a Nazi swastika, as well as a picture of the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was falsely quoted as saying, “I don’t recognize any international laws. I swear I will burn every Palestinian child that is born in this zone.”

The exhibit also featured a photograph of Israel’s security barrier, accompanied by the following caption: “The wall continues its route, enclosing more than 2 million persons in ghettos or concentration camps under Israeli control….”

Another event allegedly funded by AECID was the “International Conference of Local Government and Civil Society Organizations in Support of Palestine.” Held in Seville in December 2014, the event was coordinated by the Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity (FAMSI), the UN Division for Palestinian Rights and the Al Quds Association.

According to the SWC, the forum “planned the international BDS campaign for 2015 against the State of Israel. There we learned of forthcoming BDS motions to be presented at the American Anthropological Association and the American Historical Association.” The report continued:

“We were sickened to hear that boycott-compliant universities were to be honored as ‘Israel Apartheid-Free Campuses’ and municipalities would extol compliant shops and businesses as ‘Israel Apartheid-Free Zones’ — redolent of the Nazi designation ‘Judenrein’ (ethnically cleansed of Jews).”

One speaker at the event was quoted as saying: “We cannot accept the two-state solution as we are close to Hamas’ ‘one man, one vote’ policy. Together with its exiled base of consensus, this means the return of all refugees, the restitution of all the land, resulting in one Palestinian state.”

The conference was attended by Israeli Arab Knesset MP Mohammad Barakeh who claimed, “Israel has never been democratic… We are the only natives of this land.”

According to the SWC, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS, Mahmoud Nawajaa, said: “Israel is committing crimes not only against the Palestinian people, but against the entire human species… All settlements are illegal, even from before 1967, so all Israeli products must be boycotted.”

The event in Seville, and another one in Málaga, included a conference document, “Andalucía con Palestina” (Andalusia with Palestine), which stated: “For any Jihadist in the audience, this is the call for re-conquest of the lost territories of the Caliphate.”

The SWC asked García-Margallo: “Is it Spanish policy to promote the deletion of the Jewish State of Israel to be replaced by a State of Palestine? If your reply is negative, why should Spanish tax-payers fund measures to that end?”

The Spanish government denied that it had subsidized the events.

Meanwhile, Spanish BDS activists continue their efforts to prevent Israeli artists from performing at Spanish music festivals, and vice versa.

In May 2015, BDS Catalonia sought to have three Israeli bands ejected from the Primavera Sound music festival in Barcelona. According to the group:

“Primavera Sound enjoys the backing of the Israeli Embassy in Spain, which makes the festival an accomplice of the policies contrary to International Law and Human Rights the Zionist State has been implementing in Palestine since 1948. The Israeli Embassy’s support for the festival is a cultural smokescreen for colonization and apartheid in Palestine.”

Also in May, BDS Catalonia succeeded in dissuading the Catalan singer Marinah from performing at music festivals in the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Tel Aviv.

In April, BDS activists called for the boycott a concert in Alicante featuring Spanish singer Joaquín Sabina, because Sabina rejected their previous demands that he cancel performances in Israel in 2012 and 2014.

In January 2015, BDS activists called on María Juncal, a Spanish flamenco dancer, to cancel her performance at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival.

In July 2014, anti-Israel activists called on the organizers of the Vitoria Jazz Festival, an annual jazz festival held in the Basque Country, to prevent the Israeli singer Noa from performing at the event. Her performance went ahead as planned, but was interrupted by shouts of “Israeli genocide” and “Free Palestine.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.