From Ian:

Vic Rosenthal: Skirmishes in the cognitive war

Their goal is to weaken us bit by bit, to obtain concessions in territory and our responses to terrorism, to weaken our society and our army, to undermine trust in our leadership, to prevent us from preempting military buildups on our borders or the acquisition of game-changing weapons by our enemies, and to paralyze us and ultimately prevent the full deployment of our military capability when it is necessary to defend the country against attack. Ultimately, when the time is ripe, traditional military force will be used to finally achieve their long-term goal of eliminating the Jewish state.
Here are some of the examples of our enemies’ accomplishments:

The Oslo Accords, which reintroduced the murderous PLO into our country and as a diplomatic factor, which allowed Arafat to implement his “education for murder” system to turn the population of the territories into a hostile force.

The retreat from South Lebanon, which allowed Hezbollah to gain influence and set the stage for the Second Lebanon War.

The withdrawal from Gaza, which created a new permanent front for war against Israel, and at the same time gave rise to a multiplicity of diplomatic, legal and propaganda opportunities for our enemies.

The diplomatic failure after the Second Lebanon War that allowed Hezbollah to build the infrastructure for the next war with little interference, and Israel’s failure to preempt the threat.

Israel’s allowing the rise of the subversive European-funded NGO system, which has acted and is acting in countless ways to delegitimize the IDF and the state; which has turned our own legal system into a tool to weaken the nation; and which is so well-entrenched now as to have blunted efforts in the Knesset to rein it in.

The successes of the anti-Israel movement in almost totally taking over the discourse in the academic world in the West – including Israel – both among students and faculty.

The empowerment of the suicidal Israeli Left in media and the arts.

Most of these are examples of cognitive pressure causing Israel to act against its own interests.
In some areas there is little to be done. We can repudiate the Oslo Accords, but we can’t easily undo the damage done in the PA areas by Arafat’s educational system. On the other hand, we can push back against the pernicious memes that our enemies have introduced into our own culture.
This is a Jewish state, the state of the Jewish people. It isn’t “undemocratic” to believe this. We don’t need to feel guilty about it. The Arabs tried to kill us and prevent the establishment of our state. They failed. This was their nakba. They did it to themselves. The Arab nations screwed them, and are still screwing them. Why do we blame ourselves?
Palestinians Hate Blue Israel Too

For the mainstream media, explaining Israeli politics is difficult work. A country where the poor and disenfranchised immigrants from the Middle East have traditionally supported the party of the right (Likud) while the wealthy and the upper middle-class of largely European origin are the last strongholds of the political left does not translate easily into American political context. In the United States, political culture is rooted in very different concerns than those of the average Israeli, where security issues and attitudes toward the Arab world still dominate. The temptation to make flawed analogies, it seems, is still irresistible. That led to the New York Times’s attempt to ascribe reactions in Israel to Secretary of State John Kerry’s astonishing attack on the Jewish state last week to a divide between “red state” and “blue state” Israeli voters. The piece not only failed to effectively analyze the Israeli response to the Obama administration but also the reason why the Middle East conflict hasn’t been solved.
New Times Jerusalem bureau chief Peter Baker isn’t entirely wrong when he says that there is a stark divide between left and right in Israel. For some who live in secular and liberal Tel Aviv, what goes in Jerusalem and even along the border with Gaza–let alone West Bank settlements–has sometimes been of little interest. I can recall conversing with Tel Aviv residents about a visit to Sderot in the south eight years ago, which at the time was besieged by Palestinian missile fire, in which they reacted as if I was speaking of what was happening in Afghanistan. The disconnect between the minority who blame their own country for the lack of peace and the majority who correctly see the problem as the function of Palestinian intransigence is great, even if Hamas’s 2014 missile attacks on the secular metropolis erased some of the left’s complacency.
Yet the left-wing establishment that once dominated Israeli politics and society was effectively marginalized by the collapse of the peace process in the carnage of the second intifada. In the wake of the Palestinians’ refusal of an offer of statehood from the last Labor-led government in 2000, the even split between left and right that had characterized Israeli politics since the 1970s was transformed into a new reality in which power rested with a dominant right and an ever-changing roster of centrist parties. The fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now serving his third consecutive term in power and that the only viable alternative comes from Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid Party speaks volumes about how little influence leftist organs like Haaretz have, even as it continues to support attacks on the Jewish state from foreign critics like Kerry.
Even Baker had to acknowledge his red state/blue state analogy falls short because of the decline of the left. Many liberal Israelis took umbrage at Kerry’s speech just as they were appalled by Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009. The one-sided, anti-Israel bias of both speeches, as well as the way Kerry and Obama have worked hard to treat Jewish Jerusalem as being as much of an illegal settlement as the most remote West Bank hilltop settlement, discredited the administration in the eyes of many Israelis. That, and Obama’s appeasement of Iran, only strengthened Netanyahu’s continued hold on power.
Henry Jackson Society: Alan Mendoza Discussing UN Resolution on Israeli Settlement Building with Breitbart

Cognitive bias and UNSC Resolution 2334

Israeli Amos Tversky and his colleague Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman are famous for their research regarding systematic human cognitive bias. Cognitive bias often leads people to decisions that, when fully understood, are irrational by their own standards.
In essence, one creates a reality not based upon objectivity, but influenced by emotions, leading to irrational judgments.
US President Barack Obama, his adviser Ben Rhodes, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry suffer from a postcolonial cognitive bias. Their reality is that Israeli settlements are the primary cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nothing can disabuse them of this distorted reality, and every event in the region is seen through this biased filter.
Ignoring the facts of Israeli offers for two states over the past 69 years, or a Netanyahu settlement freeze in 2009, allows them to blame Israel for their own repeated diplomatic failures, while ignoring a PLO Charter that still calls for the end of Israel. “The partitioning of Palestine... the establishment of Israel are illegal and null and void, regardless of the loss of time,” it says.
The administration is locked in a paradigm where it is axiomatic that Palestinians are helpless victims, not to be held accountable for their words, their actions and what they preach to their children.
Kerry’s failure, Netanyahu’s liberation

There were moments when it seemed like one of the debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. John Kerry, Clinton’s double, delivers a reasoned speech, backed by facts, about the complexity of the situation, while Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump’s double, responds with a crushing personal attack, filled with insults.
Of the two of them, the more interesting one—and the more important one for our future—is Netanyahu. The things he said in Hebrew were just a short introduction to the speech he gave in English. He spoke to one person only, to Donald Trump.
In the history of the conflict, the exchange of words between them was nothing but a footnote. Kerry said what he had to say and went packing. It feels like graduation time in the White House: The president is in Hawaii, a large part of the staff is on holiday, and the others are busy looking for a job. If something happens following the two speeches, it will happen in one of the international bodies and will be initiated by a different government. The chances for that are not high.
All that is left for us Israelis is to wonder: Why is Kerry going to so much trouble concerning Israel? Doesn’t he have more joyful matters to deal with on the eve of the New Year? And why is it so important for Netanyahu to bite the hand that has fed him loyally, generously, for the past eight years? Where does that get him? What does that get the country he heads?
Efforts underway to prevent anti-Israel Quartet resolution

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that possible decisions at the upcoming international peace conference in Paris could turn into another resolution against Israel at the United Nations Security Council.
Netanyahu made the comments at a conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem that was attended by several Israeli ambassadors stationed around the globe.
In December, the Security Council passed Resolution 2334 criticizing Israeli settlements as illegal and as an obstacle to peace.
Netanyahu expressed concern that the resolution would encourage the Quartet on Middle East peace, which comprises the United States, European Union, Russia and the U.N., to make a similar decision against Israeli settlements.
"The Paris conference is a hollow conference," Netanyahu said.
"But there are signs they will try turning the decisions there into another Security Council resolution, and these signs are not few in number. Therefore, the first effort we are dealing with right now is to prevent another U.N. resolution, as well as prevent a Quartet decision."
Bereaved Mother of IDF Officer Killed by Hamas During Ceasefire Holds Kerry Morally, Legally Responsible for Son’s Death; Has Hopes Trump Will Erase ‘Stain’ of Predecessor

When US Secretary of State John Kerry gave his speech on the Middle East last Wednesday, “he was like a teacher excoriating his diligent students for the dereliction of their delinquent classmates,” the bereaved mother of one of Israel’s best-known fallen soldiers told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Leah Goldin, mother of late IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin — the 23-year-old Givati Brigade fighter who was ambushed and killed and whose body was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on Aug. 1, 2014 after a Kerry-brokered ceasefire went into effect during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza — was not only bemoaning what she called the “harsh” words directed at the Jewish state by America’s outgoing top diplomat, however. She said she actually holds Kerry legally and morally responsible for the death of her son, and for the return of his remains for burial in Israel.
“Hadar was not a victim of war, but of a ceasefire,” Goldin said, spewing forth, in elegant Hebrew, her frustration with Kerry, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and even the Israeli government, which she said has done nothing to apply pressure on the Palestinian terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip to hand over her son’s body or on the international community to live up to its “self-proclaimed humanitarian mission.”
“After all, this is a humanitarian cause,” she said.
Not only that, but “Kerry wouldn’t even deign to walk a few feet down the hall to see an exhibit we held at the UN of Hadar’s artwork,” Goldin said, referring to last September, when she and her husband traveled to New York during the General Assembly.
Call out Theresa May’s rebuke of Kerry’s speech for what it is

Some of the commentary which followed seemed to somewhat naïvely take Downing Street’s interjection at face value, while to other observers it was just convenient for them to interpret it that way.
The conservative Daily Wire, for instance, reported that Kerry’s speech was “too much to stomach” even for the UK, with its “strong pro-Arabist tilt”. If Arabophile British diplomats found Kerry’s speech overly anti-Israel, it really must have been biased, went the thinking. Yet this misses the point of Britain’s very public disavowal of Kerry’s speech.
Theresa May’s criticism was not a u-turn following the UK’s reported key role in brokering the UN resolution, or in voting for it. PM May has a strong track record on Israel and Jewish issues, as demonstrated in her recent speech at the UK Conservative Friends of Israel annual lunch. That coincided, not incidentally, with her government’s official adoption of a new definition of antisemitism to help tackle new forms of Jew-hatred. Nor was May’s rebuke an attempt to make amends with Netanyahu, after he reportedly cancelled a meeting with his British counterpart on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month. (His office later qualified that the meeting hadn’t been fully firmed up.)
The British PM’s reaction actually had little at all to do with Britain’s stance on Israel or, for that matter, long-standing differences between a traditionally Arab-leaning Foreign Office and a more strategic approach often preferred by No. 10 and the UK defence establishment. The latter tend to be more sensitive to Israel’s unique security challenges. Although with a former ambassador to Israel, Simon McDonald, heading Britain’s diplomatic corps today, it might be worth revisiting some of the old thinking about attitudes to the region that held sway within Whitehall for most of the last century.
London weighed in on the latest rift between Washington and Jerusalem in a manoeuvre aimed squarely at preserving that other much-ballyhooed “special relationship” – Britain’s with America.
Ted Cruz pushing to move U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Sen. Ted Cruz and two fellow Republicans are pressing the State Department to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Congress passed legislation in 1995 that called for moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but Democratic and Republican administrations alike have declined to enact the change, citing security concerns. The latest measure, introduced Tuesday as the new Congress convened, would withhold funding from the State Department until it makes the move.
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Cruz said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration's vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth — let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel — is shocking in some circles.
"But it is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel.”
The measure is also sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Dean Heller of Nevada.
State Department ‘not aware’ of efforts to move US embassy to Jerusalem

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday he was unaware of any efforts by the incoming Trump administration to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
During his election campaign, US President-elect Donald Trump vowed to relocate the embassy, a move that is vehemently opposed by the Arab world and pro-Palestinian supporters and would have significant diplomatic impact. Previous Republican candidates have made the promise without following through.
“We’re not privy to any moves, any decisions or active efforts to go ahead and move the embassy,” Kirby told CNN. “If that’s happening, and I’m certainly in no position to judge, we’re not aware of specific moves that are being made to that end.
“Our position has been and remains that moving the embassy is not constructive to the peace process, it’s not the right thing to do,” he said, adding that that “wise” policy has been also upheld by previous US administrations.
Abbas doesn’t believe Trump will move US embassy to Jerusalem

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday he was “disappointed” to learn that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not attend an international peace conference in Paris scheduled for January 15.
In a meeting with members of Israel’s left-wing Meretz party, Abbas said the recent UN Security Council resolution criticizing West Bank settlements was a welcome step toward “ending the occupation.”
Abbas said he hoped the upcoming Paris summit on the Mideast conflict would further advance that cause.
The Palestinian leader took issue with Israeli leaders’ characterization of Resolution 2334 as being anti-Israeli.
“I’ve looked over the resolution and haven’t found anything against Israel — only against the settlements and the illegal outposts,” Abbas said.
The PA chief also told Meretz members he did not believe US President-elect Donald Trump would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, despite Trump and his team having made statements to that effect during the campaign as well as after his election win.
Moderate Arab states anxious to make good impression on Trump

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s outline for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was generally welcomed among the moderate Arab Sunni states whose support would be essential to buttress a negotiated solution.
But the official responses in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman seemed calculated to make an impression on the incoming Trump administration rather than to impel any immediate or urgent follow- up on the Kerry proposals. That is not expected given that Kerry and President Barack Obama have only three weeks left in office and Donald Trump has signaled there will be a friendlier approach toward the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Now, with the imminent change in the White House, Kerry’s noble views may very well remain a small footnote in the history books,” The Jordan Times wrote in an editorial Thursday.
Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are to some extent groping in the dark, uncertain about what Trump policies that will impact strongly on their futures will look like. By giving essentially positive responses to Kerry’s proposals, Egypt and Saudi Arabia “are trying to show they are pro-peace, useful and very relevant as mediators and mainstays of the process and trying also to anticipate what the new administration in Washington wishes to do,” says Gabriel Ben-Dor, a Middle East specialist at the University of Haifa.
The countries also have their sites set on being relevant in advance of the January 15 conference bringing together some 70 foreign ministers in Paris whose goal is to reaffirm the necessity of a two-state solution.
Democrats absent from House GOP resolution denouncing U.N.’s anti-Israel vote

A House resolution condemning President Obama’s refusal to veto an anti-Israel U.N. measure was introduced Tuesday with the support of 51 Republican cosponsors but no Democrats.
Rep. Dennis Ross, Florida Republican, submitted the language moments after the start of the 115th Congress. Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas Republican, is expected to introduce a companion measure in the Senate.
The resolution of disapproval doesn’t mince words, denouncing the president for breaking the nation’s “longstanding commitment to the State of Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East, by refusing to veto this one-sided and anti-Israel resolution.”
“Instead of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our closest ally and vetoing this dangerous resolution, the U.S., under the direction of President Obama, broke its strong and well-established commitment to Israel,” said Mr. Ross in a statement.
The lack of support so far from House Democrats comes even though at least a half-dozen Democrats criticized the administration’s failure to veto U.N. Security Council Resolution 2234, which labels Israeli settlements as illegal.
'Dividing Jerusalem is like asking Solomon to cut the baby in half'

Huckabee, a Republican, arrived in Israel Monday as part of a delegation representing the Jewish Chamber of Commerce in the U.S., and is set to leave Thursday.
"Dividing the city of Jerusalem is like asking Solomon to cut the baby in half," Huckabee said during the visit.
"We're here in the first week of a new year to remind the world that Jerusalem is one city, it's not a divided city, never has been, it's been the capital of only one people in all of its history. It's been the capital of the Jewish people."
Huckabee, who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday before traveling to the Jerusalem suburb of Maaleh Adumim and the controversial Samaria outpost of Amona, lambasted the Dec. 23 Security Council resolution denouncing the settlement enterprise.
The U.N. "embarrassed itself with its recent action," as did the U.S., by not only standing idly by and allowing the resolution pass, but also by "encouraging it to happen," Huckabeee told the Jerusalem Post. "It is not the settlements that are illegitimate, but rather the actions of the U.N. -- it is the one acting without regard to reality."
IDF soldier who killed subdued terrorist in Hebron convicted of manslaughter

Sgt. Elor Azaria, who shot an immobilized terrorist last March during a security incident in Hebron, was found guilty by a military court on Wednesday of manslaughter and of conduct unbecoming. Defense attorneys Eyal Besserglick and Ilan Katz immediately said they would appeal the verdict.
Azaria's trial has been one of the most polarizing affairs Israel has seen in recent years. The facts of the case were never disputed, both because the incident was caught on tape, and because of Azaria's own admission that he shot the unconscious terrorist. As a result, the trial hinged on the question of whether Azaria's account of the circumstances leading up to the shooting -- that he felt he and the other soldiers on the scene were in immediate danger -- was true or false.
Judge Col. Maya Heller, presiding over the tumultuous proceedings, stated in her ruling that the evidence presented to the court supported a manslaughter conviction "beyond any doubt."
In a ruling that refuted the defense's arguments one by one, Heller said Azaria's version of the events, which changed several times during the trial, was convoluted and lacked credibility, and that none of his accounts could be supported by the forensic evidence, which she described as having "completely debunked" the defense's argument that the terrorist was dead prior to the shooting.
Hebron soldier’s family blasts son’s ‘disgraceful’ conviction

The family of an IDF soldier convicted Wednesday of manslaughter for shooting dead a disarmed and injured Palestinian attacker burst into tears as the verdict was read out in a courtroom at the IDF’s Tel Aviv headquarters.
Members of IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria’s family reportedly shouted at the justices that the decision was “a disgrace.”
Azaria’s demeanor drastically changed as the judge read the verdict.
Dressed in a green army uniform, he had entered the courtroom smiling, with family members and supporters applauding him.
But he and his family later looked shaken as the judge spoke, with his mother and father huddling together.
After the verdict, his mother, Oshra, yelled, “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Azaria’s father, Charlie, said after the ruling that “the court had accepted the B’Tselem version,” a reference to the rights group that published a video showing Azaria shooting the assailant, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, in the head nearly 15 minutes after the latter had been shot and wounded as he attempted to stab an IDF soldier in Hebron, on March 24.
International media using Hebron Palestinian killing to demonise Israel

However, having said all that, it seems to me that this single incident is being paraded around by opponents of Israel all over the world to push the false narrative that this is how all IDF soldiers act. They are using this as an “example” to tar the rest of the IDF and the Jewish people as being malevolent, hateful and generally evil.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, I smell hypocrisy here and it stinks to high heaven. When police or military brutality occurs in the U.S., the UK, Australia etc, rarely does it make the international headlines. It remains a local or national story.
As usual, news editors and journalists with an anti-Israel bias are taking the opportunity here to throw mud at Israel by giving this story unnecessary and unwarranted international exposure.
That’s because the enemies of Israel are always looking for opportunities to demonise the Jewish people.
It seems that whenever anything controversial happens in Israel, the world jumps on the Jewish State to find fault with it as a country, as a people and as a democracy.
Military and police brutality happens all over the world. There have been many cases such as this one in the U.S. which didn’t even make international headlines! Of course such brutality and heavy handedness is never justified, but what I’m saying is why the extra coverage compared to other cases in other countries?
It’s time to end the hypocrisy and the anti-Israel bias.
Family of terrorist: We'll take Azariya to the Hague

Shortly after IDF Sgt. Elor Azariya was convicted Wednesday afternoon of manslaughter for the killing of a wounded terrorist in Hevron in March of last year, the terrorist’s family announced plans to bring Azariya before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Speaking with Channel 10 on Wednesday after the verdict, al-Sharif’s family said they would seek further prosecution of the convicted soldier.
“We will go to the International [Criminal] Court and make sure that this soldier will be judged in front of the entire world.”
It's all on Azaria's shoulders

In July 1988, a terrorist attacked Yossi Hadassi, a soldier who had enlisted just three months earlier. Hadassi grappled with the terrorist and managed to kill him. He was awarded a citation of merit from the commander of the Engineering Corps.
Then the media hunt began, backed by the self-righteous Left, which accused the soldier of murder. On May 30, 1989, Yossi Hadassi committed suicide.
That week, the poet Naomi Shemer published a message in Yedioth Ahronoth: "The soldier Yossi Hadassi killed his attacker, and a year later killed himself. It wasn't only Yossi Hadassi who committed suicide; an entire nation is committing suicide. An entire country is defending itself as its investigators, police, and poets drive it mad and convince it that it is a predatory wolf, Goliath, a monster. The intifada is the prelude and the excuse for the destruction of Israel. We are all Yossi Hadassi."
Hadassi's fate touched me. Naomi Shemer's courage touched me, too. She published her message after a decade in which her work had been viciously attacked because she was "right-wing."
I was reminded of that piece when the Azaria affair broke. We've thrown all the problems in Israeli society, the disagreement rooted in debate between Left and Right and the 100-year-old conflict between us and our neighbors, on to the bowed back of the young soldier. The mechanism of national suicide camouflaged as morality, too.
Going against our moral grain

The Israel Defense Forces is the most moral military in the world -- that's our consistent answer to all the collective blood libelers, at home and abroad, who try to drum up delegitimization of Israel, the IDF, and Israel's right to defend itself. It's no lie. It's a fact.
But it obligates us. It obligates the IDF to operate according to its own high moral standards -- the principles of purity of arms and ethical warfare.
The morality of the IDF is not scrutinized based on one aberrant incident or another, but according to what it does generally. But it is also examined in terms of those unusual cases. How does the IDF clarify that the incident was an outlier? How does it ensure that an atypical incident won't repeat itself? How does it treat a soldier who stepped out of bounds?
Intentionally shooting an immobilized terrorist in the head more than 10 minutes after he ceased to present a threat is an act that goes against the values of the IDF and its moral character, and fundamentally contradicts IDF orders. An act like that is more fitting to the kind of army that people like Breaking the Silence, who are working to damage us, are trying to portray with their lies.
Politicians from left and right call for pardon for Hebron shooter

Politicians from across the political spectrum called Wednesday for a pardon for an IDF soldier who shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian assailant, after he was convicted of manslaughter.
The Jaffa Military court convicted Sgt. Elor Azaria, 19, for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian who minutes before had stabbed two other soldiers. The decision, which his attorneys slammed as biased, concluded a months-long trial that deeply divided the country.
Azaria’s trial saw politicians and current and former army generals alternately supporting or condemning the soldier’s actions. Many of the army’s top brass, as well as former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, had railed against Azaria’s “unethical” decision to shoot the assailant, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, in the head nearly 15 minutes after the latter was shot and wounded as he attempted to stab an IDF soldier in Hebron.
Azaria was filmed shooting Sharif on March 24, 2016. The footage, which was published online shortly after the incident by the left-wing advocacy group B’Tselem, sparked an intense debate in Israel about military discipline and ethics in the midst of a wave of Palestinian terror attacks that began in September 2015.
Even before the final guilty verdict was read out by the judge, Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) called for an immediate pardon for Azaria and accused former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon of abandoning the soldier.
Liberman: Azaria conviction 'difficult,' but we must accept it

Politicians on the Right and Left were divided in their reactions to the guilty verdict in the trial of Hebron shooter Sgt. Elor Azaria Wednesday.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman urged the Israeli public to accept what he called the "difficult" ruling. Liberman stated that it was important for the nation to respect the court's decision, "including those who like the ruling and also those, like me, who like the decision much less."
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said she will work towards his pardon and that there should not have been criminal proceedings against Azaria in the first place.
“If Azaria broke the rules, he should have been called to a disciplinary hearing with the brigade commander,” Regev, a former IDF spokeswoman, stated. “Unfortunately, the primary court in this case was a field court in which commentators and politicians judged Azaria before the military investigation of the event.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: Btselem, Breaking The Silence Puzzled By Need For Trial Of Accused Soldiers (satire)

The manslaughter conviction today of an IDF sergeant in the unlawful shooting death of a wounded attacker has human rights activists scratching their heads at the lengthy due process that preceded the judges’ ruling, instead of the automatic assumption that an Israeli solider is a criminal.
Representatives of Btselem, Breaking the Silence, Machsom Watch, Gisha, and several other European-Union-funded human rights groups voiced their shared bewilderment this afternoon that anyone thought a trial was necessary, given that the accused is an Israeli soldier, and therefore by definition a murderous criminal. The organizations were joined in their expressions of confusion by politicians from the Arab Joint List.
Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted this morning on charges that he violated orders and rules of engagement by shooting an assailant who had already been neutralized. In March of last year, the infantryman shot a Palestinian who minutes earlier had attempted to stab a soldier and was already lying on the ground neutralized. Contradictory testimonies and a weak defense strategy ultimately resulted in a military tribunal finding him guilty, since, in the judges’ assessment, the seriously-injured would-be stabber could no longer be considered an imminent threat, and standing orders prohibited Azaria from opening fire under the circumstances. A representative of Btselem lamented the waste of time that the eight-month investigation and legal process became.
“We could have told you the moment the story happened that the guy is guilty – he’s an Israeli soldier. It’s ontological,” declared Field Coordinator Birke Naukapo. “Only Palestinians or Palestinian-supporting Israelis are entitled to a trial because those are the only people who can conceivably be not guilty. Such an unfortunate waste of time, energy, and resources.”
IDF major critically hurt in 2014 Gaza war dies after 2.5-year coma

Major Hagai Ben Ari, who was severely injured by sniper fire in Operation Protective Edge, passed away late Tuesday evening.
Ben Ari, who was 31-years-old when he was inured, was serving as the commander of training in the elite Maglan unit.
The injury occurred on July 21, 2014 during the IDF's ground operation in Gaza.
Ben Ari was hospitalized in a coma and was later brought to his home in the Golan Heights community of Nov, where he died.
He is survived by his wife and three children.
Two Border police hit by Palestinian motorcyclists near Jenin in possible attack

Two border police officers and two Palestinians were wounded when a motorcycle carrying the Palestinians hit the officers on Tuesday.
According to a police report four motorcycles were approaching a checkpoint manned by the Border Police. The police signaled the vehicles to stop, however, three motorcycles allegedly broke through and one of the motorcycles, carrying two passengers, hit two border police.
It is still unclear as to whether the four riders had planned on ramming the checkpoint, however the two injured Palestinians have been detained and police are investigated the possibility of a ramming attack. The other individuals involved were not caught.
PM rails at media allegations after 4 cases against him are dismissed

"Long years of daily persecution of me and my family turned out to be nothing," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday, after Attorney Generation Avichai Mendelblit announced that he had looked into and closed four of the reviews into alleged wrongdoing by the prime minister, while moving forward with one investigation.
"'Bibi Tours' -- nothing! Claims of illegal campaign funding -- nothing! Claims of tampering with the [Likud primary election] -- nothing! Claims of accepting bribes abroad and flights -- nothing!" the prime minister wrote.
"Will anyone in the media apologize for the thousands of headlines, articles, and broadcast hours by 'investigative journalism at its best,' which turned out to be utter nonsense? Certainly not [Channel 10 reporter Raviv] Drucker."
Netanyahu reiterated his oft-voiced statement on the allegations against him: "Nothing will come of this because there is nothing to find."
However, the affair that has become known as "Case 1,000" is still under review.
Top Hamas Official Faces Backlash After Calling for Palestinian Federation

A top Hamas official stirred a controversy after called on the Palestinian factions to establish a federal government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Mousa Abu Marzouk (pictured), Hamas’ deputy diplomatic leader, told Alghad TV that a federal government would put an end to the split in the Palestinian leadership. Many Palestinian leaders responded by saying that Marzouk spelled the end of the two-state solution.
Jamil Mizher, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said that Marzouk’s comments are “dangerous” and contribute to the perpetuation of the status quo, saying the goal of the government he proposes will be to run the internal conflict rather than a future state.
“It’s an attempt to evade the need to establish a unity government that would put an end to the split and prepare for a general election and start building what the occupation destroyed,” he said.
Fatah was also critical of Marzouk. Usama Alqawasmeh, the movement’s spokesman, said that it was an attempt to evade power sharing and perpetuate the split.
“Talking about a federation is even more dangerous than the Israeli plan for a Palestinian state in temporary borders,” he said.
MEMRI: The Significance, Ramifications, And Messages Of Hizbullah's Show Of Military Force In Al-Qusayr, Syria

On November 13, 2016, Hizbullah marked its annual Martyr Day by holding its first military parade in a Syrian town, Al-Qusayr, which Hizbullah took over in 2013 following a long and bloody battle with rebel forces, and which has since become the main symbol of the organization's involvement in the Syria war alongside the Assad regime. The parade featured hundreds of fighters in military uniforms, tanks, U.S.-made M113 armored personnel carriers, cannon, machine guns, and an armored regiment. Also marching was the Al-Radwan division, comprising some 10,000 fighters from Hizbullah's "intervention forces" and "special forces" fighting in Syria, which constitute the spearhead of the organization in the country.
By holding this parade at this time and at this location, Hizbullah was informing its rivals, locally and in the region – that is, political players in Lebanon, the Syrian rebels and their Arab supporters, and the West and Israel – that it is now a powerful cross-border military force that can control areas outside Lebanon's borders. The parade did indeed cause a tremendous stir among Hizbullah supporters, as well as among the organization's opponents.
This paper will review the significance and ramifications of the parade in Al-Qusayr and the messages that it sent.
Top Tehran Official: Iran Will Keep Supporting Anti-Israel Terrorism Front

The Islamic Republic will always back nations and groups that fight Israel, a top Iranian official vowed on Tuesday, the Tehran regime-aligned Tasnim news agency reported.
Speaking to reporters in the Iranian capital, Ali Akbar Velayti — a senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — said Iran’s “stance is unchanging and that is providing full and continued support for the resistance line, which begins from Iran and passes through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and reaches Palestine.”
Explaining Iran’s ongoing effort to bolster the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Velayti stated, “Given that Syria is an important link in the chain of resistance, the Islamic Republic of Iran has sided with the country’s people and government since the very beginning of the regional and international conspiracy against Syria, and will continue to do so.”
When Iranian officials speak of “resistance groups,” they are generally referring to Tehran-backed anti-Western and anti-Israel terrorist organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The term is also used by Iran to describe the Houthis in Yemen, who are receiving Iranian support as they battle for control of that southern Arabian Peninsula country against the Saudi-backed government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Iran's New Indigenous Air Defence System

Clearly, if Iran continues to develop long range launch capabilities, it could choose destabilize the entire Middle East region, and directly threaten Israel and Europe.
The rapid development of an advanced system such as the Bavar-3 demonstrates that the Iranians are capable of developing not only defensive but also offensive weapons systems, even as Iran remains prohibited under the present UNSC Resolution 2231 (2015) from developing surface-to-surface nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
If Iran continues to develop offensive nuclear and long-range ballistic missile capabilities, the international community may be in for an unpleasant surprise -- awakening to find a nuclear-armed Iran protected by sophisticated, hardened air defences. By then, the balance of power in the Middle East will be altered irreversibly.
Don’t Let Iran Rule the High Seas

In November, Iranian naval vessels landed in Durban, South Africa—the closest they have ever gotten to the Atlantic. The Islamic Republic, since 2013, has also engaged in joint naval exercises with Pakistan, India, and China, sending its ships as far as the East China Sea. And more recently it publicized plans to create naval bases in Syria and Yemen. Yoel Guzansky writes:
A base in Syria, if it ever materializes, would stretch Iran’s naval arm to the Mediterranean and strengthen the Iranian military presence near Europe’s shores. It would also help Tehran’s allies in Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria—Hizballah, Hamas, and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, respectively. A naval base in Syria would enable Iran to transport regular supplies and provide other assistance to Hizballah without being dependent on overland convoys or aerial transport through Iraq or Turkey. The base would also make Iran less dependent on Sudan, [which has been distancing itself from the Islamic Republic] . . .
If left unchecked, Iran could potentially develop the capacity to threaten crucial shipping lanes in the Caspian Sea and the Indian Ocean. As a result, Iran’s recent announcements of its plans to expand its regional presence to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean could spur cooperation between Israel, which is also seeking to curb Iranian influence, and the Arab world. For its part, the United States under President Barack Obama has shied away from confrontation with Iran in almost all instances. The U.S. Navy has chosen not to counter the increasing provocations in the Persian Gulf by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. As of September 2016, there had been 31 “unsafe encounters” with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf, up from 23 in 2015, according to the U.S. Navy. The lack of action is costing Washington its credibility as a counterforce to Tehran.
The incoming Trump administration should do more to counter the threat posed by Iran, particularly in the naval arena, where the United States enjoys clear superiority. It should draw firm “redlines” around Iranian naval actions—to ensure that Iran’s provocations won’t be left unanswered and to demonstrate Washington’s resolve.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Arab States Lament Dwindling Supply Of Nazi War Criminals To Harbor (satire)

Governments across the Middle East are confronting the shrinking number of Nazi war criminals with a mixture of resolve and concern, local sources have reported.
Most of the prominent German Nazis implicated in or convicted of crimes against humanity during the Second World War who found refuge in Arab countries in the 1950’s and 60’s have since died peacefully, leaving barely a handful of elderly war criminals for the countries to harbor. Countries such as Syria, Egypt, and Iraq, which once boasted a rich tapestry of such fugitives and employed them in advisory capacities in an effort to destroy the Jewish State by military means, now host barely a handful of such men. The most wanted of all, Alois Brunner, reportedly died about the year 2010 in the Syrian capital.
While the Cold War was underway and American focus shifted from bringing Nazi criminals to justice to supporting West Germany as a bulwark against Soviet-led Communist expansionism, Western powers nevertheless made occasional efforts to capture the most egregious offenders. The wanted men commanded units that committed atrocities across Europe during the war, or occupied command positions in arms of the Nazi government and military apparatus that oversaw the Holocaust and other war crimes. Allied officials in postwar Germany often turned a blind eye to the movements of many such suspects and allowed them to reach the safety and protection of regimes hostile to the nascent Israel, even when tipped off by Nazi hunters.
Now, however, more than 70 years after the conclusion of the war, few, if any, known Nazi war criminals remain in those countries, challenging the regimes of those states to find alternatives to the ways they have shown open affinity and support for genocide against the Jews. At the same time, notes Middle East history scholar Juden Raus, the Jews of those countries are similarly dying out or have left in massive emigration waves driven by decades of often-violent persecution.

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