FBI Foiled July 4 Attacks - Julian Hattem (The Hill)
U.S. officials stopped Islamic extremist-inspired attempts to kill Americans around the July 4 holiday, FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday.
Over the past four weeks, more than 10 people inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS) have been arrested by U.S. authorities, Comey said.
See also FBI: More than 200 Americans Have Tried to Fight for ISIS - Julian Hattem (The Hill)
FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, "We estimate upwards of 200 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to participate in the conflict."
The FBI has repeatedly warned about the prospect of Americans either departing to join the Islamic State or seeking to launch an attack at home.
"These threats remain among the highest priorities for the FBI and the intelligence community as a whole," he said.
Egypt, Facing Terrorism, Wants High-Tech American Border Security System - Dan Lamothe (Washington Post)
Egypt wants to buy high-tech American border surveillance equipment, the Pentagon said Wednesday, citing Cairo's desire to better monitor its border with Libya.
The U.S. has agreed to supply Egypt with mobile surveillance sensor towers, communications equipment and training worth $100 million.
Who Endangered the Al-Aqsa Mosque? - Bassam Tawil (Gatestone Institute)
During the Gaza war last summer, which took place during Ramadan as well, Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem, home to the Al-Aqsa mosque.
As a Muslim, I hang my head in shame when Palestinians claim "Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger" under the Israelis, when it is we who endanger it.
Ethiopians in Israel: an Employment and Educational Success - Meirav Arlosoroff (Ha'aretz)
A recent study published by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel found a huge gap between the first and second generations of Ethiopian Israelis that shows successful integration of the second generation in Israel.
90% of the younger generation has a high school education, three times the percentage of first-generation Ethiopians in Israel (36%).
The 20% of second-generation Ethiopian Israelis with higher education is almost four times the rate of their parents' generation (5.7%).
Employment among Ethiopian Israelis of both generations jumped from 50% to 72% in 12 years, rising from 35% to 65% for women.
How the Boycott Hurts Palestinians - Brett Kline (Ha'aretz)
In the West Bank village of Husan, near Bethlehem, workshops, construction supply depots, garages and stores all have signs in Arabic and Hebrew, and they are busy with both Israeli and Palestinian customers.
Boycott proponents would find that in Husan and dozens of other villages like it in the West Bank, Palestinian entrepreneurs and workers want more contact with Israelis, not less.
"For us, the boycott, the moukata'a, is ridiculous....Cutting ties would be a death wish," states Samir, 34, owner of a carpentry workshop.
It appears that most BDS proponents in the West care more about trying to damage Israel than they do about improving Palestinians' lives.
Over 11,000 "Honor Crime" Cases Recorded in UK in Five Years - Divya Talwar and Athar Ahmad (BBC)
11,744 cases of so-called honor crime were recorded by UK police forces from 2010-14, according to data from 39 out of 52 police forces in the UK. They included forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
Diana Nammi, director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organization - a charity that provides support to Middle Eastern women living in the UK who are facing "honor" violence - said the figures "do not show the real extent of the problem. So many crimes are unreported because the perpetrators are often the victim's own family."
"Honor-based violence is no longer a fringe issue," said Commander Mak Chishty, head of police policy on the issue.
Young Women Immigrants Serving in an IDF Combat Unit - Jenna Perlman (Jerusalem Post)
Rebecca Karp, from California, wakes up at the crack of dawn, puts on her olive green uniform, and begins her day filled with heavy lifting, training, and operating heavy machinery.
A sergeant in the command center of an IDF artillery battery, she carries herself with purpose and passion.
According to the IDF, women make up 33% of the army.
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- Accusations Fly as Iran Nuclear Talks Stall - Jay Solomon, Laurence Norman, and Carol E. Lee
Iran and the U.S. on Thursday charged each other with an unwillingness to make crucial political decisions to conclude nearly two years of talks on Tehran's nuclear program.
Senior Iranian negotiators specifically accused the U.S. and EU of walking back commitments Tehran said were made on issues that include sanctions relief and the lifting of a UN arms embargo. A senior Obama administration official responded Thursday that it wasn't accurate "that any deal has been made and rolled back."
On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry said: "President Obama made it very clear to me [Wednesday] night we can't wait forever for the decisions to be made. If the tough decisions don't get made, we are absolutely prepared to call an end to this process."
Recently passed U.S. legislation calls for the Obama administration to submit a nuclear agreement to Congress by Friday to allow lawmakers to review its terms for 30 days. Failure to reach an accord would give Congress an additional month to debate any pact. (Wall Street Journal)
- Kerry on Iran Deal: "We Will Not Rush and We Will Not Be Rushed" - Guy Taylor
Secretary of State John Kerry is taking a hard line against 11th-hour Iranian demands - including Tehran's desire for an end to UN sanctions on its ballistic missile program as part of any final accord.
"We are not going to sit at the negotiating table forever," Kerry said in Vienna.
"If, in the end, we are able to reach a deal, it has to be one that can withstand the test of time," he said. "It is not a test of a matter of days or weeks or months, it's a test for decades." (Washington Times)
- U.S. Seeks UN Action on Chemical Weapon Attacks in Syria - Edith M. Lederer
The U.S. circulated a draft UN resolution Thursday aimed at identifying the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria so they can be brought to justice. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said, "Given the frequent allegations of chlorine attacks in Syria, and the absence of any international body to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks, it is critical that the UN Security Council find consensus and set up an independent investigative mechanism."
The draft resolution asks UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit to the council within 15 days recommendations to establish an investigative body to identify "entities, groups or governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in use of chemical weapons" in Syria.
While Russia and the U.S. have failed to agree on a way to end the Syrian conflict, they have agreed in the past on eliminating its chemical weapons stockpile. Russian and American diplomats discussed the text of the new resolution before it was circulated.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Two Israelis Held Captive in Gaza - Yoav Zitun, Matan Tzuri, and Elior Levy
Two Israelis are believed to be held captive in Gaza, it was revealed on Thursday. Avera Mengistu, 29, from Ashkelon, was seen crossing the border fence into Gaza on Sept. 8, 2014, of his own volition. The second citizen is a Bedouin who also crossed the border into Gaza of his own accord.
See also Hamas Seeks High Price for Israelis Who Fell into its Lap - Avi Issacharoff
Avera Mengistu and the second captive Israeli, a Bedouin, constitute significant assets for Gaza's Islamist rulers.
On Wednesday, Hamas' leader-in-exile, Khaled Mashaal, talked about negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the remains of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul, who fell in last summer's war, and two missing Israelis. He said Hamas will not give up any information until Israel releases all the Hamas members who had gone free in the Shalit exchange but who were rearrested last spring after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped by a Hamas terror cell and later found murdered in the West Bank.
Many of the 1,027 Palestinian security prisoners who were released in exchange for Gilad Shalit are today directing West Bank terrorist activity from Gaza and from Turkey, where they were deported. Those terrorist operations have cost Israeli lives. Israel agreed to the exchange four years ago for the sake of a soldier who had been held hostage for years, having been kidnapped from inside Israel during his military service. The current equation is very different.
(Times of Israel)
See also Israel Cannot Countenance Another Shalit Deal - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)
- Netanyahu: We're Working to Bring Missing Israelis Home from Gaza - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel was actively seeking the return of two citizens who crossed into Gaza, and said Jerusalem holds Hamas responsible for their well-being. Netanyahu said, "I call on the international community, who expresses its concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, to issue a clear call for the release and return of these citizens." (Ha'aretz)
See also Israel Won't Exchange Palestinian Prisoners for Missing Israelis - Amos Harel and Jack Khoury
Israel does not intend to free Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the two Israeli nationals being held in Gaza, Israeli defense officials said Thursday.
They said Israel sees the cases of Avera Mengistu and the Bedouin Israeli as humanitarian and expects Hamas to release them unharmed, as both sides have done in similar incidents in the past.
Mengistu climbed over the security fence at an Ashkelon beach last September. He was reportedly detained and questioned by Hamas last year, and then released. The Israeli Arab who crossed at the Erez crossing in April was apparently taken into Hamas custody and is still being held.
- Israeli Who Crossed Fence into Gaza Ignored IDF Calls to Return - Ron Ben-Yishai
IDF lookouts noticed an unarmed individual's attempt to cross the border from Israel into Gaza in the Zikim beach area. Because Mengistu was unarmed, they did not fire their weapons. The lookouts dispatched an IDF force to the scene. The force called on Mengistu to halt when he was already south of the fence, but he refused and continued on his way.
Missing Bedouin Youth Brought Back from Gaza Twice Before - Yasser Okbi
The head of the local council from which the missing Bedouin youth hails said, "This is a youth that we have brought back twice from Gaza in the past, and brought back twice from Jordan and once from the West Bank. He suffers from mental problems and always strays from home." (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
- Israel: Arab Peace Initiative Is Unacceptable - Raphael Ahren
Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, who is responsible for peace negotiations with the Palestinians, on Thursday rejected the peace initiative drafted by Saudi Arabia and backed by the Arab League as a blueprint for a possible agreement. "It's very nice to talk about the Saudi initiative, but it underwent three major changes at the hand of the Arab League in Beirut" since it was first tabled in 2002 that would make it impossible for any Israeli government to take it seriously.
First, the initiative now calls for any agreement to be based on the 1967 lines. "That wasn't in the (original) Saudi initiative," Shalom said. The updated scheme also calls for Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria, he said. Lastly, it requires the full implementation of the Palestinians' right of return. Even former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who negotiated extensively with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, did not adopt the Arab League initiative, Shalom noted.
(Times of Israel)
See also The Arab Peace Initiative: A Primer and Future Prospects - Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- UN Human Rights Report on Gaza: A Moral Travesty - Abraham H. Foxman
The UN Human Rights Council report on last summer's war in Gaza never answers one fundamental question: Is there anything serious in the real world that Israel would do to stop the onslaught of rockets against its civilian population that would be deemed legitimate by the international community?
If one examines the choices that Israel faces when under rocket attack, it becomes clear that anything Israel would do would be condemned.
Israel is therefore supposed to live with a situation where a party committed to its destruction would be able to choose when and where it can attack. Defenders of the report would say: Israel does have the right to self-defense, just not the way it did it. But what does that mean? In any conflict in the world, is there an alternative, perfectly clean approach to these kinds of terrorist threats?
What is at stake here is Israel's right and obligation like all other nations to protect its people. All the years that Hamas was launching rockets into Israel, nothing on the international scene was said or done to stop them. The true message that comes out of these reports is that Israel really does not have the right to self-defense.
The UN and other international bodies and institutions claim to be the defenders of the Palestinians but truly are their worst enemies. These reports only serve to reinforce the notion in the minds of the Palestinians that they do not have to give up their hostility to the Jewish state.
Every time the world rationalizes Palestinian rejectionism, excuses Hamas, and puts the major blame on Israel, it reinforces the Palestinian fantasy that time is on its side and it just need continue as it has. Accepting the legitimacy of the Jewish state is the only path toward changing the Palestinians' own lives for the better. The writer is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
(New York Jewish Week)
- Israel's Diplomatic Isolation? - Zalman Shoval
"Israel's diplomatic isolation will increase unless there is a general settlement....Without a fundamental change, Israel then will wind up in an international diplomatic ghetto, with the U.S. as its only friend. Even in the U.S., Israel's position will not be secure unless she changes her policy....This may be Israel's last chance to make a peace that won't be imposed upon her."
These words come from a December 1973 New York Times op-ed by James Reston, who was describing then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's views on Israel's diplomatic situation at the time. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
- If Hamas Is Allowed to Wage Warfare through International Courts, Islamic State Will Be Next - Yiftah Curiel
Islamic State has no compunction about accusing the coalition of waging war directly on the Iraqi people. Imagine that IS hired lawyers to produce a report accusing the UK and the coalition of war crimes. Imagine that IS then presented such a report to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This scenario would make a mockery of international institutions, turning them into weapons against democracies trying to defend themselves from terror.
But what seems like a ludicrous suggestion is actually happening with regard to Hamas and Israel, with Hamas representatives actively participating in and supporting legal proceedings in The Hague, calling for the prosecution of Israel for war crimes. Any democracy confronting the threat of terrorism should be wary of this campaign. When the instruments of law and justice become weapons in the hands of terrorist groups, the security of the family of nations is at stake.
The writer is spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London.
(International Business Times-UK)
- Arabs Should Be Careful What We Wish For - Mudar Zahran
Since 1948, we Arabs have been taught that all we need to do is get rid of the Jewish state, and everything else will go well after that. We Arabs have given our dictators carte blanche to impoverish, terrorize, oppress and destroy us - all in the name of "the great Arab struggle to end the Zionist entity."
In short, we Arabs have put 70 years of our existence on hold while awaiting that "glorious day" when we defeat Israel and "feed the Jews to the fish." But that day did not come, nor does it seem to be coming.
If Israel were to disappear, Iran would extend its influence into Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain the next day. We also have Islamic State, with clear ambitions to enter Jordan. I regularly visit the West Bank and have interviewed scores of Palestinians there. As much as they hate Israel, they still openly yearn for the days when it administered the West Bank. As one Palestinian told me, "We prayed to God to give us mercy and rid us of Israel; later, we found out that God had given us mercy when Israel was here."
We can hate Israel as much as we like, but we must realize that without it, we would most likely be ruled by Iran or Islamic State. The writer is a Jordanian-Palestinian who resides in the UK. (Israel Hayom)
- Reclaiming Jewish Identity: An Aboriginal People of the Middle East - Binyamin Arazi
Contrary to the widespread belief that Jews merely constitute a religious faith, the Jewish people are an ethnic group/tribe of Southwest Asian origin, and one of the oldest extant native peoples of the region. The term "Jew" was a name given to us centuries ago by foreigners, denoting our country of origin (Judah/Judea, which is located in present day Israel).
As far as genetics are concerned, contemporary ethnic Jews share a stronger kinship with other Levantine populations than with the European and North Africans they lived with in the diaspora.
In recent decades, anti-Israel activists have worked tirelessly to rewrite history, denying Jewish origins in the Middle East. But overall, our enemies do not get to decide who we are and where we belong. (Huffington Post)
Trusting Iran to Stop Terrorism Is Like Inviting an Arsonist to Join the Fire Brigade - Dore Gold (Telegraph-UK)
- Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has written an op-ed in the Financial Times saying that after a deal over its nuclear program, Tehran will join "the international battle" against "the increasingly brutal extremism that is engulfing the Middle East."
- The idea that Iran is a partner in the fight against terrorism is not only disingenuous but also absurd. Zarif's Western readers are asked to believe that a country which has been repeatedly identified as the largest state supporter of terrorism in the world will suddenly be altered by an agreement over its nuclear program into an ally against terrorism.
- Iran operates globally through the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), often backed by operatives of Hizbullah. This network operates in 30 countries on five continents.
In October 2011, the U.S. uncovered a plot by an IRGC operative to conduct a mass casualty attack in Washington, D.C., aimed at the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.
- As Iran decides which Middle Eastern insurgency to back with its IRGC units, it often has to establish priorities because it is operating under clear economic constraints. These constraints will be removed as Iran obtains the wherewithal to fully fund and even expand its terrorist activity worldwide.
- In past decades, states supporting terrorism feared retaliatory operations by the West, such as the U.S. attack on Libya in 1986. Deterrence could be created. But if Iran becomes a nuclear threshold state, as a result of its impending agreement with the P5+1, what are the chances that deterrence of this sort will hold? Iran will seek to act with impunity as the terrorism it sponsors acquires a protective nuclear umbrella.
- Winston Churchill has been attributed with the saying that he refused to be impartial between the fire brigade and the fire. Depending on Iran to fight terrorism is like making an arsonist part of the fire brigade. Iran must unequivocally abandon its backing of international terrorism if it ever wants to rejoin the world community.
The writer is the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel.
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