Iranian Boats Harass U.S. Destroyer in Persian Gulf - Meghann Myers (Navy Times)
Four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps naval craft approached within 300 yards of the U.S. destroyer Nitze near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, a U.S. Navy official said, calling the incident "unsafe and unprofessional."
It's the latest in a string of Iranian warships taunting U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf.
See also Video: Iran Military Vessels Harass U.S. Destroyer (Wall Street Journal)
Israel Offers Aid to Italy after Deadly Quake (Times of Israel)
Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday extended his condolences to the Italian people and offered assistance in the ongoing rescue operations after a massive earthquake struck central Italy.
Israeli Aid Group Heading to Louisiana to Assist Flood Victims - Eitan Goldstein (Ynet News)
IsraAid, the Israeli international aid organization, will be sending an eight-person delegation to assist people affected by the flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
They will help residents return to their homes to collect personal effects, and help to begin the process of rehabilitating flooded homes.
The storm was the worst natural disaster to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Victims of Attacks in Israel Lose U.S. Appeal vs. Lebanese Bank - Jonathan Stempel (Reuters)
By a 3-0 vote, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected an appeal by victims of Hizbullah rocket attacks in Israel who sought to hold Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL liable for financing Hizbullah.
Circuit Judge Richard Wesley said the court lacked jurisdiction over the Lebanese bank.
Video: Has the Cultural Boycott of Israel Peaked? - Adam Shay (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
In the 2016 concert season, there is no shortage of international performers coming to Israel and virtually all categories are represented.
The South African rave-rap duo Die Antwoord, one of the hottest names around, was a prime target for BDS activity. However, the band paid little or no attention to this and once they took the stage in Tel Aviv they told the boycott activists exactly what they thought of them.
Guitar icon Carlos Santana had cancelled his performance in Israel back in 2010 when the cultural boycott was at its height. This is why Santana's recent performance in Tel Aviv was so important.
The fact that a performer of iconic status, who has in the past cancelled a performance, now feels it is safe and legitimate to return, tells us that as far as the cultural boycott is concerned, the worst may very well be behind us.
The writer is an expert on the cultural boycott of Israel.
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- White House Condemns Syrian Use of Chemical Weapons - John Parkinson
The White House on Wednesday condemned Syrian President Assad's regime for using chemical weapons against Syrians, after the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed suspicion of chemical weapons use in Syria in 2014 and 2015. "It is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Assad regime's use of chlorine against its own people."
"The OPCW-UN report also confirmed that in August 2015, ISIL [Islamic State] used mustard gas against civilians in Syria," Price noted. (ABC News)
- Biden Tells Syrian Kurds to Pull Back or Lose U.S. Support - Karen DeYoung
The Obama administration will cut all U.S. support for its Syrian Kurdish allies, considered the most competent rebel force fighting the Islamic State, if they do not comply with Turkish demands that they withdraw to the east of the Euphrates River, Vice President Biden said in Ankara on Wednesday.
The Kurdish force was instrumental this month in retaking the northern city of Manbij from the Islamic State.
Turkey considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, a terrorist organization.
See also Rojava: The Syrian Kurds' Nascent Statelet - Fabrice Balanch (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also Why Turkey Went to War in Syria - Faysal Itani (Foreign Policy)
- Palestinians Refuse to Discuss with Israel Solutions to West Bank Water Shortages - Sabreen Taha
Palestinians in parts of the West Bank are suffering from severe water shortages. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the Palestinians had consistently refused to meet to discuss water issues or work to resolve the long-standing problem.
"The Palestinian allegations [about reasons for the water shortage]...are simply a lie," he said. "Under the Oslo accords we agreed to establish together a joint working committee on water. Unfortunately, the Palestinian side has refused systematically to participate."
Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Israel provides 64 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinians annually, even though under the 1995 Oslo accords it is only obliged to provide 30 million.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israeli Soldier Wounded in West Bank Stabbing - Elisha Ben-Kimon
An IDF soldier was wounded in a stabbing attack on Highway 60 near Nablus in the West Bank on Wednesday. Palestinians were hurling stones from a vehicle on the highway and hit the windshield of a military vehicle, prompting the troops to chase after them. The Palestinian car was blocked by the military vehicle, and the two Palestinians in the car came out. The driver stabbed a soldier in the neck, and the stabbed soldier then shot the stabber dead, who was identified as Sami Abu Ourab, 26, from Kabatiyah. (Ynet News-Ha'aretz)
- Israel Clears Troops of Wrongdoing During 2014 Gaza War
Israeli military prosecutors have cleared Israeli forces of criminal wrongdoing during several major incidents where civilians were killed in the 2014 Gaza war.
It was alleged that attacks carried out by the IDF on 9-10 July 2014 in the area adjacent to the hospital in Khan Yunis known as the "European Hospital" impeded the functioning of the hospital and resulted in patients suffering from anxiety. Terror organizations had embedded numerous rocket launchers in the area surrounding the hospital, from which launches were carried out against the State of Israel. On 9 July, the IDF carried out aerial strikes on seven rocket launchers, and struck four launchers on 10 July. No damage occurred to the hospital.
It was alleged that on 20 July, seven members of the Ziyadeh family were killed in an IDF attack on a building in Al-Bureij. The building was being used as an active command and control center by the Hamas terror organization. Among the casualties were Mohammed Muqadama, a senior Hamas figure, as well as three military operatives from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
It was alleged that on 21 July, 12 members of the Siyam family were killed in Rafah.
In fact, no attack was carried out by IDF forces in the area at that time. It was found that at the relevant time, and in close proximity to the Siyam family's residence, terror organizations fired a series of mortars aimed at Israel. A number of these fell within the territory of Gaza.
During 22-29 July, the Gaza power plant in Nusseirat was struck a number of times.
Terror organizations located a large number of assets adjacent to the power plant, including launching pits in which rockets and mortars were stored, medium range rocket launchers, the openings of combat tunnels, and weapons caches. Evidence has been obtained which indicates that a portion of the damage may have been caused as the result of rocket fire by Palestinian terror organizations.
(Israel Defense Forces)
See also The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted - Hirsh Goodman and Dore Gold, eds. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Russia's Illusion of Influence in the Middle East - Kamran Bokhari
While media reports have made it seem like Russia's influence is growing in the Middle East, it faces serious geopolitical constraints. Russia and Turkey remain at odds over Syria, and Iran rescinded permission for Russian aircraft to operate from one of its bases.
While Russia and Iran cooperate closely to ensure that Assad remains in power in Syria, there is a huge debate within Iran on trusting Russia. Russia supported U.S.-led sanctions against Iran in 2012 and for many years delayed the supply of the S-300 missile system to Tehran.
If Iran, which has had a close working relationship Russia, cannot fully trust the Kremlin, Turkey has many more reasons not to. Turkish and Russian interests have historically collided in the Black Sea region. Even today, Turkish and Russian proxies are at war.
- 1400 Years of Arab Oppression of Africans - Micha Danzig
It is surprising and sad how many people who purport to care about the oppression of indigenous Africans seem to ignore the 1400-plus years of Arab colonization and oppression of Africans.
For over 600 years, colonized and subjugated African kingdoms were forced to send tributes of African slaves to the imperial Arab ruler in Egypt. The cultural colonization of indigenous Africans continues to this very day in Mauritania, Sudan and all of North Africa.
Between 650 and 1900 CE, approximately 20 million indigenous Africans were enslaved by Arab slave traders. In Mauritania, some 90,000 indigenous Africans are still enslaved.
In his 2001 book, The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa, Dr. Alembillah Azumah estimates that over 80 million indigenous Africans died while being transported through the trans-Sahara slave route.
In the 21st century, the Arabic word for slave, "abeed," is still used interchangeably by Arabs in most Arab countries to refer to indigenous Africans.
(Times of Israel)
The Invaluable U.S.-Israeli Alliance - Yair Lapid (Foreign Policy)
- The real value of the soon-to-be-renewed military aid agreement between the U.S. and Israel isn't in the dollar amount, but in the defense technology that Israel will receive and the depth of the security cooperation between the two countries.
- The first words that need to be said from the depths of our hearts are "thank you." This agreement is critical to Israel's security and the safety of its citizens. We live in the worst neighborhood in the world, surrounded by fundamentalist Islamists who would like nothing more than to see us killed. This agreement is a crucial component of our ability to defend ourselves.
- Critics will argue that Israel is the reason the U.S. needs a military presence in the Middle East, but that argument is unfounded. Israel has no connection to the American presence in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, or Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden didn't claim that Israel was the reason for the attack on the Twin Towers, and the Islamic State doesn't pretend to be interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- In addition, there are the savings in lives and money that we will never be able to detail. Israel is a regional intelligence superpower, and our bitter experience has turned us into the Middle East's leading experts in the covert fight against terrorism.
- The vast majority of the money Israel receives as military aid - and in the near future, all of it - remains in the U.S. Israel will purchase equipment from U.S. defense industries, and the result is the creation of American jobs and a relatively cheap way to test the most advanced arms in field conditions.
- One of the most difficult moments in the Jewish collective memory is the knowledge that when they came to murder us all, no one came to the rescue. That's the reason Israel was founded, and the reason we'll never leave our fate in the hands of others. But the fact that the largest and strongest country in the history of the world stands by our side is nothing less than momentous.
The writer, chairman of the opposition Yesh Atid party, is a former Israeli finance minister.
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