If N.Korea Is Upset About Theaters Showing ‘The Interview,’ It’s Really Not Going to Like This Group’s Plans

TheBlaze (Dec 18) — A human rights group plans to airdrop copies of “The Interview” over North Korea when the movie is released onto DVD.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fighters for a Free North Korea will use hydrogen balloons to distribute copies of the controversial movie to those living in the communist country.

“North Koreans risk their lives to watch Hollywood films … and ‘The Interview’ is tremendously threatening to the Kims,” organization founder Thor Halvorssen said. “They cannot abide by anything that portrays them as anything other than a god. This movie destroys the narrative.”

This photo released by Sony Pictures Entertainment shows James Franco, left, as Dave, and Seth Rogen as Aaron, in a scene from Columbia Pictures’ “The Interview.” The movie opens in theaters Dec. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Entertainment, Ed Araquel)

This photo released by Sony Pictures Entertainment shows James Franco, left, as Dave, and Seth Rogen as Aaron, in a scene from Columbia Pictures’ “The Interview.” The movie opens in theaters Dec. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Entertainment, Ed Araquel)

The group, also headed by a former government propagandist who escaped, has smuggled DVD players and other movies into North Korea in the past.

News of the planned airdrops come as some theaters in the U.S. announce that they have elected not to show “The Interview” amid a Tuesday terror threat warning there would be consequences for screening the movie.

“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” the terror threat warned. “Remember the 11th of September 2001.”

The individuals behind the threat appeared to belong to the same group of hackers that recently executed a devastating cyber attack against Sony. U.S. officials suspect North Korea to be behind the cyberattack.

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To the Students for Justice in Palestine, a Letter From an Angry Black Woman

‘You do not have the right to invoke my people’s struggle for your shoddy purposes’

A protest led by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009. (Gerald Martineau/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

A protest led by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009. (Gerald Martineau/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

TabletMag — The student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is prominent on many college campuses, preaching a mantra of “Freeing Palestine.” It masquerades as though it were a civil rights group when it is not. Indeed, as an African-American, I am highly insulted that my people’s legacy is being pilfered for such a repugnant agenda. It is thus high time to expose its agenda and lay bare some of the fallacies they peddle.

If you seek to promulgate the legacy of early Islamic colonialists who raped and pillaged the Middle East, subjugated the indigenous peoples living in the region, and foisted upon them a life of persecution and degradation—you do not get to claim the title of “Freedom Fighter.”

If you support a racist doctrine of Arab supremacism and wish (as a corollary of that doctrine) to destroy the Jewish state, you do not get to claim that the prejudices you peddle are forms of legitimate “resistance.”

If your heroes are clerics who sit in Gaza plotting the genocide of a people; who place their children on rooftops in the hopes they will get blown to bits; who heap praises upon their fellow gang members when they succeed in murdering Jewish school boys and bombing places of activity where Jews congregate—you do not get to claim that you are some Apollonian advocate of human virtue. You are not.

If your activities include grieving over the woefully incompetent performance by Hamas rocketeers and the subsequent millions of Jewish souls who are still alive—whose children were not murdered by their rockets; whose limbs were not torn from them; and whose disembowelment did not come into fruition—you do not get to claim that you stand for justice. You profess to be irreproachable. You are categorically not.

If your idea of a righteous cause entails targeting and intimidating Jewish students on campus, arrogating their history of exile-and-return and fashioning it in your own likeness you do not get to claim that you do so in the name of civil liberty and freedom of expression.

You do not get to champion regimes that murder, torture, and persecute their own people, deliberately keep them impoverished, and embezzle billions of dollar from them—and claim you are “pro-Arab.” You are not.

You do not get to champion a system wherein Jews are barred from purchasing land, traveling in certain areas, and living out such an existence merely because they are Jews—and claim that you are promoting equality for all. You do not get to enable that system by pushing a boycott of Jewish owned businesses, shops, and entities—and then claim that you are “against apartheid.” That is evil.

You do not get to justify the calculated and deliberate bombings, beatings, and lynchings of Jewish men, women, and children by referring to such heinous occurrences as part of a noble “uprising” of the oppressed—that is racism. It is evil.

• You do not get to pretend as though you and Rosa Parks would have been great buddies in the 1960s. Rosa Parks was a real Freedom Fighter. Rosa Parks was a Zionist.

Coretta Scott King was a Zionist.

A. Phillip Randolph was a Zionist.

Bayard Rustin was a Zionist.

Count Basie was a Zionist.

Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. was a Zionist.

Indeed, they and many more men and women signed a letter in 1975 that stated: “We condemn the anti-Jewish blacklist. We have fought too long and too hard to root out discrimination from our land to sit idly while foreign interests import bigotry to America. Having suffered so greatly from such prejudice, we consider most repugnant the efforts by Arab states to use the economic power of their newly-acquired oil wealth to boycott business firms that deal with Israel or that have Jewish owners, directors, or executives, and to impose anti-Jewish preconditions for investments in this country.”

You see, my people have always been Zionists because my people have always stood for the freedom of the oppressed. So, you most certainly do not get to culturally appropriate my people’s history for your own. You do not have the right to invoke my people’s struggle for your shoddy purposes and you do not get to feign victimhood in our name. You do not have the right to slander my people’s good name and link your cause to that of Dr. King’s. Our two causes are diametrically opposed to each other.

Your cause is the antithesis of freedom. It has cost hundreds of thousands of lives of both Arabs and Jews. It has separated these peoples, and has fomented animosity between them. It has led to heartache, torment, death and destruction.

It is of course your prerogative to continue to utilize platitudes for your cause. You are entirely within your rights to chant words like “equality” “justice” and “freedom fighter.”

You can keep using those words for as long as you like. But I do not think you know what they mean.

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Shin Bet, police foil ‘pregnant’ suicide bomber plot in Tel Aviv

Palestinians planned to infiltrate Israel by obtaining medical permit for female suspect and dressing her as pregnant woman

Weapons uncovered by a joint Shin Bet, Police, and IDF sweep in October and November 2014 of a West Bank cell planning to use a female suicide bomber in Tel Aviv (Courtesy: Shin Bet)

Weapons uncovered by a joint Shin Bet, Police, and IDF sweep in October and November 2014 of a West Bank cell planning to use a female suicide bomber in Tel Aviv (Courtesy: Shin Bet)

Times of Israel (Dec 16) — Palestinian terror cell planning a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and other attacks was thwarted over the last several months, the Shin Bet security service said Monday.

Five suspects hailing from Jenin and the village Attil in the Tulkarem area of the West Bank planned to infiltrate into Israel by acquiring a permit for the female member of their group to receive medical care in Israel.

She was then to dress as a pregnant Jewish woman and detonate an explosive belt in Tel Aviv, the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The cell members admitted under Shin Bet interrogation to planning to carry out shooting attacks, detonate a mine next to a bus carrying soldiers, and kidnap a soldier as well, according to the internal security agency.

The five were arrested between October and November by IDF forces working with the Shin Bet and police, but the information was only cleared for release Monday.

The names of the suspects were listed as Yasmin Shaban, 31, from Jenin; Munadil Takaz, 22, from Attil; his brother Muatez Takaz, 20, from Attil; Abd al-Haleq Masimi, 22, from Attil; and Marwan Tzadki, 20, from Attil.

The Shin Bet said that the suspects planned to use a safe house inside of Israel to dress Yasmin and prepare her for the attack.

They admitted to being in touch with a terror operative in the Gaza Strip, who told the cell that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad would take credit for the attack.

Security forces found during the arrests an improvised M-16, hunting rifle, ammunition, and explosive material.

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Four of the Fundamental Reasons Russia’s Economy Is Circling the Drain

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

TheBlaze (Dec 16) — It’s a familiar specter of the Americans psyche: The Russian bear looming threateningly, with a tough military exterior…and a sickly economic underbelly.

Is modern-day Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, barreling toward a meltdown?

Here’s a look at four of the major economic challenges Russia is facing:

1. Low oil prices

Russia is hugely dependent on the price of oil. As Morgan Stanley’s Jacob Nell put it, “Since oil and gas account for 67 [percent] of Russia’s exports and 50 [percent] of federal budget revenues, oil prices drive the country’s economic cycle.”

With oil prices dropping nearly 50 percent in the second half of 2014, Russia’s government has been hard-pressed to make up the lost revenue. One solution: pretend the problem doesn’t exist, as the Russian parliament did in October when it passed a budget ”based on an alternate reality.”

2. Western sanctions

Russia’s finance minister has said the country is losing roughly $40 billion annually as a result of international sanctions, which came as a response to Russia’s military adventuring in Ukraine.

In some cases, sanctions have had truly bizarre fallout effects.

As TheBlaze reported in October, Russia responded to sanctions by clamping an embargo on Western food imports, resulting in dramatically higher food prices in Russia and ultimately leading Russian authorities to O.K. crocodile meat as a replacement for Western protein.

3. A crummy currency

The value of the rouble tumbled on Monday, reaching 64 roubles to the dollar for the first time on record. Russia’s central bank apparently attempted to halt the decline, Business Insider reported, but the $350 million move did little to bolster the rouble’s value.

4. Capital flight

As the situation inside Russia deteriorates, individuals have been yanking their money out of the country.

The Bank of Russia estimates capital outflows will hit $128 billion this year and $120 billion in 2015, the Telegraph reported.

In a December bid to stem the bleeding, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced tax amnesty for capital repatriated to Russia and a four-year freeze on corporate tax rates.

The fundamental woes of modern-day Russia are not unlike the problems that faced the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Then, the price of oil fell from $66 per barrel in 1980 to $20 per barrel in 1986.

Now, the price of oil has fallen from $115 per barrel in June to around $60 per barrel now — and for every sustained $10 drop in the price of a barrel of oil, Russia’s GDP will take an estimated 1.5 percent hit.

Then, the Soviet Union faced protracted bloodshed and global condemnation for its 1979 invasion of — and subsequent decade-long war in — Afghanistan.

Now, much of the world has condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea and suspected continued military involvement in eastern Ukraine.

Then, the situation became untenable and the Soviet Union broke apart.

Now … ?

The 1980s were rough on the USSR, and with the Russian government predicting a recession to hit early next year, it looks like the 2010s could be another rotten decade for Russia.

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Childhood in Gaza Under Hamas’ Rule

IDF blog (Dec 15) —  For years, Hamas has brainwashed and manipulated people in Gaza, and they start young. While students their age around the world make friends, learn and expand their horizons, the children of Gaza are subjected to Hamas’ oppressive authoritarian rule that deprives them of a real education and teaches them violence and hatred.

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Poll: 80% of Palestinians support jihad terror attacks on Israeli civilians

Palestinians-celebrate-jihad-terrorThey’re approving of hit-and-run attacks on Israeli civilians, and of stabbing whole families to death in the homes in the middle of the night. They’re glorifying and celebrating savagery.

“Poll shows strong Palestinian support for attacks,” The Associated Press, December 9, 2014:

JERUSALEM (AP) — An overwhelming majority of Palestinians support a recent spate of attacks on Israelis amid heightened tensions over the most sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, according to an opinion poll released Tuesday.

The poll also found that more than half of Palestinians support a new uprising against Israel, and that the Hamas militant group would win presidential elections if they were held today.

Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki said the results reflected Palestinian anger over Israeli statements about the Jerusalem holy site, which is revered by Jews and Muslims, as well as a loss of hope following the collapse of U.S.-brokered peace talks and Israel’s recent war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research interviewed 1,270 people in the West Bank and Gaza last week. The poll had an error margin of 3 percentage points.

“There is an environment in which violence is becoming a dominant issue,” said Shikaki. “This seems to be one of the most important driving forces.”

There has been a spate of attacks in Jerusalem over the past month and a half, at a time of rising tensions over the contested holy site, revered by Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

Prominent members of Israel’s government have become more vocal in recent months about demands that Jews be allowed to pray at the Muslim-run site, which is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque and iconic Dome of the Rock.

Many Palestinians fear this is a pretext for a gradual Jewish takeover — a claim Israel denies.

The poll found 86 percent of respondents believe the shrine is in grave danger from Israel. It said 80 percent supported individual attacks by Palestinians who have stabbed Israelis or rammed cars into crowded train stations….

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Israel’s secular elite commits treason with “Palestine” letter

Israeli-flag-burning-reuterspngMembers of Israel’s secular elite–including renowned authors and former diplomats–have signed a letter that encourages European parliaments to recognize a Palestinian state. The letter, which was reportedly sent to the Belgian parliament on Sunday, comes after deadly Palestinian terror attacks, incitement by Palestinian leaders, and the collapse of the Palestinian unity government. It is self-deluded–and treasonous in effect, if not intent.

By Joel B. Pollak for Breitbart (Dec 10) — There is no other way to describe a gesture that is so callously indifferent to the lives of innocent fellow citizens, even if some of the signatories are among those who have sacrificed the most for Israel’s security in the past.

The letter relies on a fatally flawed premise: “Your initiative to recognize a Palestinian state will advance the peace prospects, and encourage Israelis and Palestinians to reach a resolution to the conflict,” it says.

History suggests the opposite. The actual response of Palestinians to Israeli concessions–whether bilateral, as in the 1993 Oslo accords, or unilateral, as in the 2005 Gaza disengagement–has been an increase in terror. The rise of international pressure on Israel has only encouraged Palestinians to harden their demands–and has also convinced many ordinary Israelis that world opinion is implacably biased against them and must be ignored.

Given that evidence, why are these leading Israelis encouraging foreign governments to recognize Palestine prematurely?

Some are opportunists, who have cashed in their Israeli careers for international acclaim. And some have simply despaired of prevailing in Israeli politics, where conservative parties are in the ascendant. Rather than make their case to fellow citizens, they now seek to trump them through international pressure.

It might be easy to draw the conclusion that Israel’s abandonment by its secular elite marks a serious threat to the future of the state. However, despite foreign threats and internal political turmoil, Israel has continued to enjoy both social cohesion and economic success. Israelis whose careers and self-image do not depend on the favor of international media and academia have learned to manage, and thrive, in the midst of uncertainty.

What the letter does indicate, however, is that secular nationalism, once the bedrock of the Zionist movement, is no longer sufficient to sustain Israel’s future. Without some religious component, Israeli national identity is ephemeral. The best case the secular elite can make for the country is that its enemies are bent on destroying it–and from the letter, it seems that the elite has stopped caring and is prepared to sacrifice the country for itself.

Religious nationalism offers a positive reason for Israelis to feel an attachment to the state: namely, that Israel is the land promised by God to the Jewish people, and that Jewish religious life finds its best expression there.

But religious nationalism brings its own challenges, as exemplified in the recent debate about a bill to define the country formally as a “Jewish state.” It is Israel’s secular institutions that have helped it thrive against the odds.

So the country faces a paradox: the values that helped make Israel a success are now among the greatest threats to its survival, while the faith that nurtures Israeli identity could become an obstacle to its future vibrancy.

That paradox is the result of decades of de-legitimization, and will not be resolved easily, much less with one Israeli election–still less by letters to foreign parliaments that serve only to isolate and endanger Israelis even more.

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak

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What about the Jewish refugees?

Palestinians mark Nakba Day in Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinians mark Nakba Day in Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)

By Ben-Dror Yemini for Ynet — Op-ed: For decades, the Palestinians have nurtured the ethos of the Nakba [catastrophe] while Israel chose to downplay the persecutions and expulsion of the Arab Jews. It is time to set the record straight.

  • “If the Jewish state becomes a fact, and this is realized by the Arab peoples, they will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea.” This statement was made by Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, about a month and a half after Israel’s declaration of the independence.
  • The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, explained in his memoirs: “Our fundamental condition for cooperating with [Nazi] Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world.”
  • And the Arab League at the time also adopted two decisions, which materialized into a bill designed to seize the bank accounts of Jews and strip them of their possessions, which was subsequently put into practice among well-established and wealthy Jewish communities in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq. Entire communities were destroyed.
  • According to economist Sidney Zabludoff, assets abandoned by Arab refugees amount to $3.9 billion, as opposed to $6 billion in assets abandoned by Jewish refugees (in 2007 terms).
  • There were huge waves of population transfers, beginning in 1912 and through to the years following World War II. Around 52 million people underwent the experience, including tens of millions in the period after the war. These population exchanges also saw hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled and dispossessed.
  • We need to know that overplaying the Palestinian Nakba has actually become a factor that is holding back the chance for an agreement and understanding, and that recognizing the broad picture will make it clear to all that there’s no turning back the clock.

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Abbas Shuts the Door to Negotiations with Israel

By Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Dec 5):

  • On Nov. 29, the Arab League approved a political action plan by PA President Mahmoud Abbas aimed at imposing the establishment of a Palestinian state without any political compromise on the Palestinians’ part. Jordan, currently the only Arab member of the UN Security Council, will submit a resolution to the Council along the lines of Abbas’ plan in the coming days.
  • The plan involves internationalizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by having the Security Council fix a date for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.
  • Abbas, who claimed there was no longer an Israeli partner for a political settlement, said his plan includes having the “state of Palestine” join international conventions and organizations, particularly the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and requesting the UN to provide protection to the Palestinian people.
  • Abbas’ political plan shuts the door to any possibility of reaching a political settlement through negotiations with Israel. The conditions he has presented for resuming negotiations impose terms on Israel with no reciprocity from the Palestinians in the context of a political compromise.
  • Abbas is trying to exert pressure on the U.S., the international community, and Israel simultaneously. Abbas hopes to goad the international community into forcing Israel to recognize a sovereign Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines without a peace agreement being signed.
  • The Palestinian Authority is determined, even at the price of a run-in with the U.S. and Israel, to advance a unilateral political process that is aimed against Israel. The rioting and terror in Jerusalem and the West Bank, which are being encouraged by the Palestinian Authority, serve as a form of pressure on Israel and are also aimed at spurring the international community’s intervention.

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US Congress passes Israel strategic partnership bill

Democrat Eliot Engel

Democrat Eliot Engel

AFP (Dec 4) — U.S. lawmakers voted Wednesday to make Israel a “major strategic partner.” The House unanimously approved the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which expands cooperation in defense and security, energy, research and development, business, agriculture, water management and academics. The measure declares Washington’s “unwavering support” for Israel as a Jewish state. The bill passed the Senate unanimously in September.

The legislation would expand the US weapons stockpile in Israel by some $200 million in value, to a total of $1.8 billion, so that the Pentagon can be better prepared to conduct military operations in the volatile Middle East.

It also crucially allows Israel to use the weapons in the event of an emergency, as it did this summer during its operation “Protective Edge” in Gaza.

Earlier this year Congress dramatically increased US funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, to $351 million for fiscal year 2015 from $235 million the previous year.

“Israel is a bright light in a very, very dark region,” veteran Democrat Eliot Engel said on the House floor shortly before the vote.

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What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel

10428091_10152531838247689_8506865217398126978_nThe Atlantic (Dec 1) — Based on my experiences between 2006 and 2011 as a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press, I wrote for Tablet of the disproportionate media attention devoted to the conflict between Jews and Arabs relative to other stories, and gave examples of editorial decisions that appeared to be driven by ideological considerations rather than journalistic ones.

Last November at Al-Quds University, a mainstream Palestinian institution in east Jerusalem, a rally in support of the armed fundamentalist group Islamic Jihad featured a row of masked men whose stiff-armed salute was returned by some of the hundreds of students in attendance. The rally is interesting for the connection it makes between radical Islam here and elsewhere in the region. It could help explain why many perfectly rational Israelis fear withdrawing their military from east Jerusalem or the West Bank. The images from the demonstration were, as photo editors like to say, “strong.” The rally had all the necessary elements of a powerful news story.

The Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press was in possession of photos of the event a day later. Jerusalem editors decided that the images, and the rally, were not newsworthy. I mention such instances to show the way in which the pipeline of information is intentionally plugged.

Mark Lavie, who has reported from the region since 1972 until his retirement last year, recently told me the AP Jerusalem bureau’s editorial line was still that the conflict was Israel’s fault, and the Palestinians and the Arab world were blameless.

The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office – and AP wouldn’t report it, not even in articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff – and AP wouldn’t report it. Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying.

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Shin Bet: Hamas terror attack plot at Jerusalem soccer stadium thwarted

jerusalem soccer stadiumThe Jerusalem Post (Nov 27) — The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF thwarted a large, transnational Hamas terrorism network that was preparing to carry out an array of attacks against Israelis, the domestic intelligence agency announced on Thursday.

In recent weeks, some 30 Hamas members have been arrested in raids led by the IDF’s Duvdevan undercover unit.

Two M-16 rifles, ammunition and bomb-making equipment were seized.

The network planned to target the Teddy soccer stadium and the light rail system in the capital, to carry out car bombings and kidnappings of Israelis in Judea and Samaria as well as overseas, the Shin Bet said.

The nerve center of the network was situated in Hamas’s headquarters in Turkey, the Shin Bet added.

Additional intended targets included infiltrations of Israeli communities, shooting and bombing attacks against Israeli traffic and military targets in the West Bank, and setting up terrorist cells in Jordan to carry out cross-border attacks into Israel.

The plot, uncovered in September, involved the assembly of multiple terrorist cells in the West Bank, as well as the training of Hamas members overseas.

Members of the network planted two bombs in Samaria on August 31. Neither of the attacks, which involved time-detonated explosives, resulted in injuries.

The second explosive was timed to kill emergency responders, according to the Shin Bet’s investigation.

Following that attack, the agency arrested dozens of suspects, and learned during subsequent interrogations that some had joined Hamas as far back as 2012, in Jordan.

“They received military training, and were given missions. At the start of 2014, they moved in and began taking action. Their missions included meetings with operatives, preparing [terrorist] infrastructure, and gathering intelligence on targets,” the Shin Bet said.

In Jordan, the network sought to recruit students who were friends of Hamas operatives.

The network identified students who supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and had highly developed skills in various areas.

Eventually, recruiters turned to selected prospective operatives with formal requests to join Hamas. Those who accepted came under the command of Hamas’s Turkey-based headquarters, which oversaw their military training.

They were trained under the supervision of Hamas’s overseas and Gaza-based branches, in Jordan, Turkey, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

Recruits reached Gaza through smuggling tunnels from Egypt, and were instructed in weapons, terrain analysis, navigation and how to keep information secret.

In Turkey, they learned about various “spheres of operations, aimed at carrying out terrorist attacks within Israel, the West Bank and overseas,” the Shin Bet said.

In Jordan, training included weapons handling, bomb-making and briefings ahead of attacks.

At the end of their training, recruits joined various terrorist plots, in line with guidance from senior Hamas members in Turkey.

Instructions arrived from Hamas commanders in Turkey to field operatives, via “forward operatives in Turkey and Jordan, who were responsible for executing the plans.”

Subsequently, Hamas operatives arrived in the West Bank to carry out the attacks, as well as coordinate the smuggling of weapons and money.

The operatives received instructions to recruit local terrorist cells and train more operatives, as well as to locate sites for bomb-making labs and apartments that could serve as operations centers.

In August, the Shin Bet thwarted an earlier large-scale plot, headed by senior Ramallah- based Hamas commander Riad Nasser, who is under arrest.

That plot was also directed by Hamas’s Turkey-based headquarters, specifically by Saleh Aruri, who commands the movement’s “West Bank sector.”

Hamas funneled more than NIS 1m. into that network and purchased weapons, before the Shin Bet thwarted the initiative.

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Daniel Pipes: Thoughts on the P5+1 Nuclear Negotiations with Iran

Daniel Pipes is one of the world’s leading experts on politics in the Middle East and the president of the Middle East Forum. His bi-weekly column appears regularly in The Washington Times and more than 100 newspapers have carried his articles.

2994By Daniel Pipes for National Review Online (Nov 26) —  The Nov. 24 deadline came and went for an agreement between the powers and the Islamic Republic of Iran; on that date, they managed only to extend the existing interim deal for another seven months. The ayatollah crowed and U.S. senators stewed. Looking beyond these responses, the current situation spurs several thoughts:

  • If one assumes, as I do, that the apocalyptically-minded Iranian leadership will do everything it can to acquire The Bomb, then economic sanctions only serve to slow its course, not to stop it. Put more forcefully, the debate over sanctions is peripheral and even diversionary. The arcane financial and scientific minutiae of the negotiations tend to bury the only discussion that really matters – whether or not some government will use force to reverse the nuclear program.
  • That said, should the 114th Congress pass legislation with a veto-proof majority, this would be an unprecedented blow against Barack Obama and would presumably serve as a low-water mark of his presidency. But this signal event for American domestic politics is unlikely to affect the Iranian program.
  • Some governments (Russian, American) have the means but not the intent to destroy the Iranian facilities. Others have the intent (Saudi, Canadian) but not the means. This leaves only one player, which sort-of has the means and sort-of the intent: Israel. Given its in-between status, whether it will act is the $64,000 question. This is what preoccupies me and, I suggest, what others too should focus on.
  • Israel’s conundrum appears genuine: On the one hand, this is only state to have knocked out nuclear programs (and it did so twice, in 1981 and 2007); on the other, the logistical challenge and supremely high stakes make this round far more daunting.
  • Not for the first time, the 8 million people of Israel have an outsized international role. There’s a reason it has the highest per-capita number of foreign correspondents: whether it’s classical music virtuosity, religious passions, high-tech breakthroughs, UN Security Council resolutions, or warfare, the Jewish state globally punches far above its weight.

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Nearly 18,000 people died in terrorist attacks in 2013 — 66% by Taliban, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State

“The index added that poverty rates, educational achievement and most economy factors aren’t related with terrorism.”

boko-haramFierce Homeland Security (Nov 25) — In 2013, nearly 18,000 people around the world were killed in terrorist attacks, a 61-percent increase from the prior year, according to the recently published annual Global Terrorism Index report.

Most of the terrorist incidents were concentrated in only a handful of countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria – collectively accounting for nearly 15,000, or 82 percent, of the fatalities, the report noted.

Of those countries, Iraq was the most impacted, accounting for nearly 2,500 attacks that killed more than 6,300 people. By comparison, the index showed that the United States had nine incidents last year, resulting in six fatalities.

Twenty-four countries experienced terrorist attacks that killed more than 50 people, while 75 countries did not experience an attack.

The index, which was released Nov. 16, is published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an international think tank based in Australia. It defines terrorism as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”

It said four groups – the Taliban, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is also known as the Islamic State – accounted for 66 percent of all fatalities.

The three main factors that contribute to terrorism, the index noted, are state-sponsored violence such as extra-judicial killings, group grievances and high levels of criminality. However, the index added that poverty rates, educational achievement and most economy factors aren’t related with terrorism.

“Terrorism doesn’t arise on its own; by identifying the factors associated with it, long term policies can be implemented to improve the underlying environment that nurtures terrorism,” said Steve Killelea, an IT entrepreneur who founded the institute in 2007.

“The most significant actions that can be taken are to reduce state-sponsored violence, reduce group grievances and hostilities, and improve effective and community-supported policing,” he added.

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Iran leader: West fails to bring Iran to its knees

Ayatollah Khamenei is right. The Iranian Regime will receive $700 million each month over the 7 month extension while giving nothing in return.

Khamenei twitterThe Associated Press (Nov 25) — Iran’s Supreme Leader said Tuesday that western powers will not be able to bring the country to its knees in nuclear talks, his website reported.

“On the nuclear issue, the United States and European colonialist countries gathered and applied their entire efforts to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees but they could not and they will not,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, speaking to a group of clerics.

The remarks were the first by Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, since Iran and major global powers agreed Monday to decide by March 1 what needs to be done and on what kind of schedule. A final agreement is meant to follow four months later.

Khamenei has so far backed the nuclear negotiations. His reference to the future indicates that the extension of the talks would have his approval as well.

Earlier on Monday and in a nationwide broadcast, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told his nation that it “has achieved a significant victory” and “negotiations will lead to a deal, sooner or later.”

Rouhani also said many gaps in the talks “have been eliminated.”

But he also vowed that Iran will not relinquish its right to nuclear capability.

“Our nuclear rights should be admitted by the world,” Rouhani said. “We will continue the talks.”

The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, have engaged in intensive negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran has denied its nuclear research has any sort of military dimension, saying it is focused on peaceful uses like power generation and medical treatments.

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Police bust massive shipment of firecrackers, knives bound for Jerusalem

Container marked as Christmas lights contained 18,000 firecrackers and thousands of other weapons meant to supply Palestinian rioters, officials say.

Weapons seized at the Ashdod Port on November 20, 2014. (photo credit: Courtesy Police Spokesman's Unit)

Weapons seized at the Ashdod Port on November 20, 2014. (photo credit: Courtesy Police Spokesman’s Unit)

The Times of Israel — Authorities intercepted a massive shipment of tens of thousands of firecrackers, as well as knives, Tasers and other weapons Thursday that police say was en route to rioters in East Jerusalem.

Intelligence information led police and customs officials to the shipping container in Afula, which had been marked as containing Christmas lights, police said.

The container contained some 18,000 firecrackers, 5,200 knives, 4,300 Taser-flashlight devices, 5,000 electric shock devices and 1,000 swords, according to a police statement.

Police said it was the largest seizure of weapons of the type in recent history.

According to police, the enormous stockpile of weapons was intended to supply Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who have thrown firecrackers, Molotov cocktails and stones in ongoing clashes with police amid rising tensions in the capital.

The containers, shipped from China to the Ashdod Port, were addressed to residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

The containers were picked up by three Israeli Arabs from the north who came to Ashdod to collect the shipment with two trucks.

The three suspects were unloading the shipment into a warehouse in Afula where they were arrested together with their drivers and the warehouse owner.

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Israel’s Arabs Need Better Leaders

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades. He studied at Hebrew University and began his career as a reporter by working for a PLO-affiliated newspaper in Jerusalem. Abu Toameh currently works for the international media, serving as the ‘eyes and ears’ of foreign journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

By Khaled Abu Toameh for the Gatestone Institute:

  • It is hard to see how the words and actions of these Arab Israeli leaders help, if at all, the Arab citizens of Israel.
  • It is time for these citizens to stand up to those Arab Israeli leaders who are causing them huge damage and remind them that they are supposed to represent Israeli Arabs and not the PLO or Hamas.
  • It is also time for them to start searching for better leaders.

Some representatives of the Arab community in Israel are continuing to cause tremendous damage both to their constituents and coexistence between Jews and Arabs.

These representatives, who serve in the Knesset (Parliament), have forgotten that they were elected to look after the interests of Israel’s Arab citizens.

Their fiery rhetoric and provocative actions are the main reason why a growing number of Israeli Jews have begun relating to Arab citizens as a “fifth column” and an “enemy from within.”

These Knesset members are obviously confused as to who their constituents are. Many of them seem to believe that they were elected to the Knesset to represent the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Of course, not all of the 11 Arab Knesset members (out of 120) are involved in provocations and inflammatory rhetoric. Half of them appear to be working toward improving the living conditions of the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel.

The other half, however, do not seem to care about the problems facing their constituents in the Galilee, Triangle and Negev. Over the past decade, these Knesset members have done a great job representing the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

It is possible that these representatives are so desperate to win media attention that they are willing to say or do anything that would provoke Israeli Jews. They know that dealing with the problems of infrastructure, unemployment and poverty in the Arab sector are not going to draw media attention.

They have learned that the best and fastest way to grab headlines is by issuing inflammatory statements or engaging in provocative actions against Israel.

… On another occasion, Zoabi compared Israeli soldiers to Islamic State terrorists. “They (Islamic State) kill one person with a knife each time, while the IDF kills dozens of Palestinians at a time by pressing a button,” Zoabi said. “The soldier remains in the plane when he launches strikes and he does not see the victim – the wings of the plane just lightly shift. IDF soldiers are no less a terrorist than the ones who behead. They kill more than a knife kills.”

It is hard to see how the words and actions of these Arab Israeli leaders help, if at all, the Arab citizens of Israel. On the contrary; these representatives seem to be determined to damage relations between Jews and Arabs inside Israel, the same way Hamas and the PLO destroyed any prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The leaders of the Israeli Arabs are damaging their people’s hopes of being fully integrated into Israeli society and being looked upon by Israeli Jews as equal and loyal partners.

It is time for these citizens to stand up to those Arab Israeli leaders who are causing them huge damage and remind them that they are supposed to represent Israeli Arabs and not the PLO or Hamas.

It is also time for them to start searching for better leaders before it is too late to stop the rapid deterioration of relations between Israel’s Arabs and Jews.

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The Hidden Hand of ISIS and Its Impact on Palestinian Escalation

By Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi for Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

isisIn recent months the State of Israel has been facing what military jargon terms “popular terrorist activity,” characterized by violent disturbances in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound; Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem; the West Bank and Arab towns within Israel; attempts to lynch Jews entering Arab towns; attacks on vehicles with stones and fire bombs and of late – a wave of vehicular murders and fatal stabbing attacks.

This recent outbreak of Palestinian violence resembling an intifada (popular uprising), i.e. wide-spread acts of violence coupled with terrorist attacks (including within Israel’s sovereign territory), has taken place against the backdrop of Hamas’ recurring attempts to ignite an intifada in the West Bank and topple the Palestinian Authority, as well as unrelenting incitement on the part of the Palestinian Authority and its full support of “popular terrorism.” The violence has the complete backing of the Fatah movement whose military wing officially returned in July to “armed struggle,” i.e. perpetration of terrorist attacks with firearms. Palestinian leadership also foments violence in response to Jewish activists’ demand to realize the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

Ominously, there is also a “hidden hand” at work directly impacting events throughout the Middle East and the Palestinian arena.

On July 29 this year, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of the Islamic caliphate in territories captured by the Islamic State (known as IS, ISIS, and ISIL). In contrast to similar announcements in the past (by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq and the Islamic emirate in Afghanistan), the impact of the Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria has worldwide implications owing to the process of Islamization taking root in the Middle East, in Islamic states, and within Muslim societies around the globe.

The caliphate is not only a political entity-in-creation (an authority providing public services, education, food supplies, and enforcement of law and order via a morality police), but also the embodiment of the dream to resurrect the glory days of Islam. To many adherents it is the realization of the prophecy of Muhammad regarding the Islamic state that will enforce Islamic rule over the entire world.

The large Islamic organizations, among them the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb al-Tahrir, although sharing the vision of a caliphate, have not recognized the caliphate regime, as this entails full submission and obedience to the Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The Caliphate’s Worldwide Strategy

Baghdadi’s strategy is to circumvent traditional and established Islamic organizations to reach the hearts of the Muslim public pining to witness the resurrection of Islam and rally jihadi forces to his side together with the thousands of volunteers rushing to his caliphate from around the world.

The list of those swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s caliphate is extensive and comprises local Islamic organizations from Syria and Iraq; senior leaders of the Pakistani Taliban; al-Qaida’s affiliate Khorasan group; al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent; Mujahedeen in Yemen, Libya, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, and Ansar Beit al-Makdas, active in Egypt’s Sinai that has close links to the Gaza Strip under Hamas rule.

The caliphate serves as inspiration to the Palestinian public, as witnessed by young Israeli Arabs (who identify as Palestinians) and Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip travelling to Syria and Iraq to participate in the jihad (holy war) against the infidels.

The Islamic awakening message, coupled with Islamic power evidenced in achievements on the jihadi front and defiance towards the West, all exert a strong pull on the Palestinian public, which is traditionally attracted to any force declaring a pretense to liberate Palestine (Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Iran and its proxy Hizbullah).

The organizational basis of the caliphate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is still limited, yet the ideological infrastructure has deep roots within Palestinian society, as Hamas (the Palestinian offshoot of the global Muslim Brotherhood movement) and Hizb al-Tahrir (also a global network organization) share the vision of the Islamic state, including the establishment of a caliphate and implementation of strict sharia law.

In the new Middle East, increasingly Islamic in character, the winds of jihad are sweeping the masses, and would appear to be the main driving force behind the recent wave of Palestinian violence, not born of political or economic despair, but rather hopeful of cracking Israeli confidence and realizing the dream of the liberation of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River with Jerusalem as capital city of the caliphate. These are also the principles expressed by leaders of the Islamic movement within the state of Israel, who identify with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The more the Islamic caliphate continues to boost its rule in Iraq and Syria and is certain to destabilize Jordan, the greater the chances are of the collapse of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the expansion of Palestinian violence towards Israel in its various names – popular intifada, armed intifada or terrorist assault.

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