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Ugandan pastor: The West doesn’t understand Islamic ideology

November 27th, 2014

Pastor treated in Israel for acid burns: West doesn’t understand reality of Islamic ideology
The Jerusalem Post
By Ariel Ben Solomon, November 11, 2014

Umar Mulinde. (photo credit:Courtesy)

Umar Mulinde. (photo credit:Courtesy)

Ugandan pastor Umar Mulinde, a Christian convert from Islam, said growing up, he constantly heard “Jews are the most hated people by God.”

He had no relationship with Jews, and “did not even know where Israel was on a map,” but he was taught to hate it.

Muslim hate is mainly religiously based and when he became a Christian, all of a sudden the preachers were “talking about love, and a lot about Israel,” Mulinde said, in an interview in his most recent visit for treatment after an acid attack threatened his life and severely damaged his face.

“It is part of the Islamic mind, and the Western mind refuses to accept the reality of Islamic ideology,” he said.

On December 24, 2011, Muslims in Uganda threw acid on him and severely burned his face, neck and back. He was transported to Sheba Medical Center for treatment with the help of Israeli friends, and has been returning for treatment.

At the hospital, Mulinde has met Arab patients from countries that are enemies of Israel.

Israeli Arab hospital workers, after discovering his name was Umar — an Islamic name — approach him talking bad about the country. However, he said, they soon realize that he is not going to have any of it, and they stop their comments.

Asked if he thought about changing his name, he responded no, “but maybe I should add a third Jewish name!” “After my conversion my perspective changed completely — I changed my heart.”

Only about 12 percent of Ugandans are Muslims, but they are radical, he said, pointing out that Muslim clerics from Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and even Pakistan radicalized Muslims in his country.

The foreign clerics are busy spreading their interpretation of Islam throughout Uganda, using dawa – institutions of social welfare services and religious education.

In the 1960s and ’70s the Muslim community was much more moderate, but in the 1990s they started to become radicalized, he said.

Mulinde, 40, was born a Muslim and is now the head of the Gospel Life Church International in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. He is married and has seven children.

Since he converted to Christianity in 1993, his life changed.

His family disowned him, saying he was dead, and they and other Muslims tried to kill him.

He gave his bodyguards the day off, thinking there would be no attack on Christmas Eve.

“They [the Ugandan state] know where the attackers are,” the pastor said, adding that they are in the country and being protected by corrupt leaders who have been paid off by the Muslim community.

“When someone leaves Islam,” Muslims must kill him “in the service of Islam,” he said One who kills an apostate “gets honors” and will go “directly to heaven,” he said.

Israel to send supplies to Ebola-stricken West Africa

November 25th, 2014
The Ebola virus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Ebola virus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Israel set to send equipment and medical supplies to Ebola-stricken West Africa
Posted on November 11, 2014

( The Israeli government is in the final stages of preparing to send much-needed equipment and medical supplies to the West African nations stricken by Ebola.

The shipment, which is leaving from the Israeli port city of Ashdod to the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, includes six cargo containers full of special equipment used to set up portable field hospitals.

“Each clinic consists of 20 beds and it’s a fully equipped clinic with beds, and with carts and treatment carts and oxygen and certain medications and protection gear,” Gil Heskel, the head of Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Aid and Development, told Reuters.

Currently, the Israeli humanitarian group IsraAID is the only organization from the Jewish state operating in West Africa, where it provides training to healthcare workers to address the psycho-social impact of Ebola.

The Israeli government will put the West African countries in touch with Israeli aid groups in order to send more volunteers, doctors, and other medical staff from Israel. Aid will also be distributed to Cameroon and the Ivory Coast to prevent the disease from spreading there. The total cost of the assistance is approximately $314,000.

Iran’s 9-point list for destroying Israel

November 22nd, 2014

Iran’s Khamenei takes rhetoric to new level with 9-point list for destroying Israel
By Sean Savage, November 11, 2014

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Credit: via Wikimedia Commons.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Credit: via Wikimedia Commons.

Iranian Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is known for his anti-Zionist rhetoric, has issued perhaps his most detailed tirade to date in a Twitter post titled “9 key questions about the elimination of Israel.”

“Why should & how can #Israel be eliminated? Ayatollah Khamenei’s answer to 9 key questions. #HandsOffAlAqsa,” read the introduction to Khamenei’s tweet, posted Saturday.

The hashtag #HandsOffAlAqsa referred to the recent tensions between Arabs and Jews at the Temple Mount. Last week, masked Arab rioters threw rocks and shot fireworks at Israeli security personnel at the holy site in Jerusalem, marking the latest outbreak of violence there.

As part of the tweet, Khamenei proposed a referendum that would serve as a means for the elimination of Israel.

“So far as I know, Khamenei’s idea of a referendum has not been proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran until now. It suggests that the Iranian leadership wishes to make common cause with the leftists also wanting to see Israel disappear,” Dr. Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, told

The first answer provided within Khamenei’s nine points accuses “the fake Zionist regime” of trying to achieve its goals via “infanticide, homicide, violence & iron,” with the only solution to these “Israeli crimes” being the “elimination of this regime.”

The “practical & logical mechanism for this,” according to Khamenei, is through a “public and organized referendum” for all the “original people of Palestine including Muslims, Christians, and Jews,” excluding “the Jewish immigrants who have been persuaded into emigration to Palestine,” who “do not have the right to take part.”

In addition to the referendum, the Iranian leader called for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to fight against Israel, rejecting any U.N.-moderated negotiation.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's nine-point list for destroying Israel. Credit: Twitter.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s nine-point list for destroying Israel. Credit: Twitter.

On Monday alone, a 26-year-old Israeli woman was killed in a stabbing attack near the Jewish community of Alon Shvut in Judea and Samaria, and an Israeli soldier was stabbed to death at the entrance of the Hagana train station in southern Tel Aviv. Two vehicular terror attacks also recently took place near light rail stations in Jerusalem, causing Israeli civilian deaths and many injuries.

Earlier this year, Iran had announced that it was increasing its effort to arm Palestinians in the West Bank.

“Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of this region,” said Iranian paramilitary network chief Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the Times of Israel reported.

The timing of Khamenei’s tweet also comes as the P5+1 nations—the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany—are nearing a negotiated solution with Iran ahead of the Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned world powers not to rush into a bad deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

Referencing Khamenei’s plan, Netanyahu said in a statement that he sent a letter to the P5+1 countries that highlights Iran’s desire to destroy Israel.

“[Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is] publicly calling for the annihilation of Israel as he is negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries,” Netanyahu said.

“There is no moderation in Iran,” he added. “It is unrepentant, unreformed, it calls for Israel’s eradication, it promotes international terrorism, and as the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report just said, it continues to deceive the international community about its nuclear weapons program. This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. I call on the P5+1 countries—don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”

Last week, the IAEA said that its investigation into the potential weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program has stalled due to the Islamic Republic’s refusal to cooperate with the probe. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, sent a letter to Khamenei in mid-October expressing the countries’ shared interest in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

Israeli demolition of Palestinian home follows synagogue attack

November 20th, 2014

Los Angeles Times
By Laura King, November 19, 2014

Israeli soldiers run from tear gas during clashes outside the Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Nov. 18. (Majdi Mohammed / Associated Press)

Israeli soldiers run from tear gas during clashes outside the Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Nov. 18. (Majdi Mohammed / Associated Press)

A thunderous explosion and the crunch of collapsing masonry early Wednesday heralded the revival of what had been a largely abandoned Israeli tactic: the demolition of family homes of Palestinians who stage attacks against Jews.

Less than 24 hours after four religious scholars were killed while at prayer in a Jerusalem synagogue, and a police officer was fatally wounded while trying to thwart the attackers, Israeli forces before dawn surrounded a four-story building in the Silwan neighborhood of predominantly Arab East Jerusalem. They evicted those inside and methodically rigged the structure with explosives, sending a blast reverberating across the valley and leaving the building standing but uninhabitable.

The demolished home did not belong to one of the synagogue attackers; some of its residents were relatives of a man who nearly a month earlier drove a car into a crowd waiting at a Jerusalem tram stop, killing an Israeli 3-month-old girl with American citizenship and a 22-year-old woman who was hoping to immigrate to Israel from Ecuador.

But the demolition carried an unmistakable message: After the carnage at the synagogue in the devout West Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed that destroying homes would be one of the principal countermeasures wielded by Israel. The killers in Tuesday’s attack died, but their families, he said grimly, could expect to pay the price.

“We will not accept this reality,” said Netanyahu, who also ordered measures such as increased gun permits for Israeli Jews, checkpoints at the entrances to Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and more guards in public places.

Home demolitions, roundly despised by Palestinians, were strongly condemned by the international community and human rights groups when the practice was most widely in use, more than a decade ago. The United Nations and others described it as an unfair form of collective punishment.

Demolishing Palestinian homes as a punishment, deterrent or both dates to Israel’s capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War. The practice reached its height during the second Palestinian intifada, when about 700 Palestinian families — about 4,000 people — were left homeless between the autumn of 2000 and early 2005, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

To some, the tactic raises moral issues. In Israel, though, the tenor of the debate is somewhat different, centering on the question of whether home demolitions are a true deterrent against attacks.

During the intifada, Israel’s security establishment harbored differing schools of thought on whether knowing that their families would be made homeless gave attackers pause or merely served to radicalize those left behind — younger brothers, cousins, neighbors.

“The demolition of houses is a controversial topic,” commentator Alon Ben-David wrote in Wednesday’s editions of the newspaper Maariv. He said the Israeli military’s assessment was that demolitions were not effective, but that officials from the domestic intelligence service Shin Bet “could tell you about the dozens of fathers who handed over their terrorist sons in order to keep their houses whole.”

Others said demolitions were one of the few weapons in a frustratingly scant Israeli arsenal against the current wave of attacks, which security officials believe are inspired by anti-Israeli incitement but have not been carried out with training and support provided by any particular militant faction. Before the synagogue attack, six people had been killed in the last month, run down with cars or stabbed by Palestinian assailants.

“I have no doubt these [home demolitions] must be done, otherwise these attacks will happen again and again,” analyst Uzi Rabi told Israel Radio. “But this is the micro level. This must be accompanied by an overall strategic approach to counter the motivation of ordinary people who go to sleep at night and wake up with the decision to carry out attacks such as yesterday’s.”

The Israeli military said in a tweet early Wednesday that “demolishing terrorists’ homes sends a sharp message to anyone targeting civilians or members of the security forces: terror and hurting innocent people carries a heavy price that will be paid by those who choose to continue this path.”

But after the demolition in Silwan, the family of Abd Rahman Shaludi, the 20-year-old whose vehicle careened into a crowd at a light-rail stop Oct. 22, telegraphed defiance. The family has said Shaludi, who left the scene on foot and died after being shot by a police officer, lost control of the vehicle and did not intend to hit the crowd.

“Israel thinks if they demolish our homes, they are going to prevent these acts,” the family matriarch, Inas Shaludi, was quoted as saying by Palestinian media. “But what they do not know is that violence brings more violence.”

The demolition left chunks of rubble scattered over a wide area and littered the ground with broken glass. Palestinians said the building contained six apartments, with Shaludi’s family occupying only the fourth floor.

Although the blast left the structure’s columns standing, lower-floor apartments belonging to other families were largely wrecked as well — walls were cracked, windows blown out and ceilings damaged — as were cars parked nearby, Palestinian witnesses said.

Spurred in part by the demolition, stone-throwing Palestinians clashed with police in Silwan and several other neighborhoods in the city’s eastern sector. Demonstrators, some of them masked and many of them teens or younger, hurled stones and set tires ablaze, fleeing when police gave chase.

Amid widespread condemnation of the synagogue attack, the neighborhood of Har Nof was wrapped in mourning. All four of the slain worshipers were respected as rabbis, or learned men, in their ultra-Orthodox tradition; they lived on the same street, and they left 24 children among them. Three of the four men held U.S. citizenship.

On Wednesday, as a gesture of remembrance and resilience, morning prayers, which had been interrupted by the assault the day before, were held as usual in the synagogue. Shattered glass had been swept up and bloodstains scrubbed, though bullet holes remained and a notice read, “Death has come to our window.”

Even a circumcision, a key rite of passage in this pious community, went ahead as planned.

“I’m not afraid,” one congregant told Israel radio. “Prayer always helps.”

The police officer who died overnight of his wounds, a member of Israel’s Druze minority, was buried Wednesday, drawing mourners from the disparate communities of the Druze faith, an offshoot of Islam, and ultra-Orthodox Jews. Har Nof religious leaders urged a show of gratitude to one who was killed while trying to halt the synagogue carnage.

The 30-year-old officer, Zidan Sif, left a wife and 4-month-old daughter.

Special correspondents Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem and Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.

New Spree of Anti-Semitic Attacks in France

November 20th, 2014

Tablet Magazine
By Yair Rosenberg, November 12, 2014

Paris, France. (Shutterstock)

Paris, France. (Shutterstock)

Paris kosher restaurant firebombed, student assaulted in latest incidents

The Gaza war may have passed, and with it, the media’s attention to anti-Semitic outbreaks in Europe, but such attacks have continued unabated in recent weeks. And France, which had already been experiencing anti-Jewish convulsions for many months prior to the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, has been no exception.

This past week, Zekaï, a kosher sushi restaurant in Paris, was reportedly pelted with cobblestones and firebombed. The eatery is easily identified as a Jewish one thanks to its prominently displayed kosher certificate, and the fact that it closes on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, which patrons say leads locals to shout “dirty Jews” at diners, and flash the quenelle, the inverted Nazi salute that has become popular across Europe. Police are currently investigating the crime.

Just hours later, a Jewish student wearing a yarmulke was assaulted by a gang of youths outside his private high school in Paris’ third district, according to a local watchdog group. “In his complaint to the police, the Jewish teenager says he was beaten, received punches on the entire body and face, and wounded in the eye and under the right cheekbone,” the group reported.


School Tell Kids to Stop Praying to Jesus, Singing Amazing Grace

November 14th, 2014

By Todd Starnes, CP Op-Ed Contributor, November 11, 201
The Christian Post

Todd Starnes

(B H Publishing Group)
Todd Starnes is a regular contributor of FOX & Friends and He writes a weekly column for Human Events and

Chase Windebank is a senior at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs. Three years ago he started meeting together informally with his classmates for prayer and religious fellowship. The young people would meet in an unoccupied choir room to sing songs like “Amazing Grace” and discuss the issues of the day from a religious perspective.

But all that changed on Sept. 29th when Chase was summoned to the office of Assistant Principal James Lucas.

“He was told that he could no longer pray with his fellow students during free time because of the separation of church and state,” said Jeremy Tedesco, an attorney representing the teenager.

Tedesco is with Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that specializes in handling religious liberty cases.

“He was told that he could pray before the school day begins or after the school day ends but he could not do it during the school day,” Tedesco told me.

To make sure Chase got the message — he was hauled into Principal Kolette Back’s office the following day where it was “reaffirmed that his religious speech could not take place during the open time” known as a “Seminar” period.

The lawsuit states: “Defendants Back and Lucas stated that because of the separation of church and state and because they regarded the Seminar period as instructional time, they were banning students’ discussion of issues of the day from a religious perspective during the open time of Seminar period.”

Pine Creek is a part of Academy School District No. 20. A spokesperson for the district confirmed that the group was told to disband in accordance with state law.

“Students were told that, according to state law and district policy, they could meet during non-instructional time,” the spokesperson told me in a written statement. “That is before or after school.”

In other words — the only theology allowed between 7:45 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. is the government’s theology.

The school district’s paltry explanation doesn’t make much sense. So I sent the spokesperson a list of follow up questions:

  • Why were the students allowed to hold religious gatherings for the past three years if it was against the rules?
  • Was there a change in district policy?
  • Or was it possible the district had simply ignored their own policy and allowed the kids to meet anyway?
  • Why the sudden crackdown on the religious gathering? Did someone complain?

I’ll let you know when the district spokesperson gets back to me with the answers. So far, it’s been radio silence.

“Public schools should encourage the free exchange of ideas,” Tedesco said. “Instead, this school implemented an ill-conceived ban that singles out religious speech for censorship during free time.”

And that seems to be the case at Pine Creek High School — and here’s the proof — Chase and his Christian friends are still allowed to meet — provided they don’t talk about anything religious or pray.

“Students have the right to pray during the school day and they certainly have the right to use free time to engage in religious expression — like prayer,” Tedesco told me.

The school district’s attorney has also weighed in on the matter — defending the school’s decision to crack down on religious speech and denying they’ve violated Chase’s constitutional rights.

Their argument hinges on a rule that non-curriculum related groups may only meet during non-instructional time. And since Jesus is not a part of the curriculum at Pine Creek High School — His followers must do their worshipping after hours.

“No non-curricular clubs are permitted to meet during that time period at Pine Creek High School,” attorney Patricia Richardson wrote in a letter to Tedesco. “Therefore, Mr. Windebank may resume his prayer meetings at Pine Creek High School, but he must do so during non-instructional time, that is before 7:45 a.m. when classes begin, and after 2:45 p.m., when classes end for the day.”

If that’s the rule, why are they allowing Chase and his friends to meet during free time — provided they don’t mention the name of Jesus?

I’ll let you know when the district gets around to answering that question.

Chase and his fellow Christians are still meeting but their numbers have dwindled in the wake of the ban — in part because they’ve agreed to abide by the school’s demands.

So if you happen to be walking by the choir room at Pine Creek High School you will no longer hear young people praying for their classmates. You will no longer hear teenagers reading from the Bible.

And you will most certainly not hear the sweet sounds of Christian young people singing about that Amazing Grace.

Public school administrators and their lawyers have succeeded in suppressing and oppressing the Christian voice at Pine Creek High School.

Todd Starnes is the host of Fox News & Commentary — heard daily on 250+ radio stations. He’s also the author of Dispatches From Bitter America. To check out all of his work you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter @toddstarnes. In his spare time, Todd is active in his church, plays golf, follows SEC football, and eats barbecue. He lives in New York City.

Palestinian terrorist and former Obamacare navigator caught for immigration fraud

November 13th, 2014

Rasmieh Gets Justice
By Jillian Kay Melchior, November 11, 2014
National Review Online

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh

Forty-five years ago, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh participated in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem that killed two men in their early 20s and wounded several more. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had hidden a bomb in a box of sweets at a grocery store, and when it detonated, it left Eddie Joffe so charred that his brother struggled to identify the corpse. His parents grieved for the rest of their lives, Eddie’s brother Basil told me.

Some small measure of justice was served yesterday, when a federal jury convicted Odeh for lying on her U.S. immigration papers in 1995, then again on her citizenship papers in 2004. The 67-year-old, deemed a flight risk by the judge, will remain behind bars until her March 10 sentencing. She faces up to 10 years in prison — which could be a life sentence, given her age — as well as possible deportation and loss of citizenship.

But Odeh’s story has several other disturbing twists, all worth noting.First, it’s unnerving that it took the federal government nearly two decades to discover that it had allowed a known terrorist into the United States. Odeh had been convicted in Israel and sentenced to life in prison, though the government released her after ten years as part of a prisoner swap.

In the United States, Odeh was hardly discreet about her violent past, agreeing to be interviewed for a 2004 documentary, Women in Struggle, which won awards at the San Diego Film Festival, the AlIsmailia Film Festival in Egypt, and the Kazan Film Festival for Muslim Countries.

About the bombings, the documentary’s overall tone is unapologetic. Odeh discusses how her decade in Israeli prison fueled her “hatred against those who were responsible. Why? I am not responsible. The occupation is.” In the same documentary, a woman named Ayesha said that Odeh, who is either her close friend or a relative, “was [even] more involved than I was” in the bombings. Ayesha also described her disappointment that a second bomb was defused before it could explode; they had hoped it would detonate five or six minutes after the initial bombing and slaughter the responders.

Second, it’s troublesome how, even after the documentary’s release, Odeh — by then a vocal activist in Chicago’s Arab-American community — received certification to work as an Obamacare navigator, and on top of that, received it in one of the states that actually bother to run background checks on in-person counselors. Though a simple Google search would have revealed her shady past, the Illinois Department of Insurance quietly revoked Odeh’s certification only after it became aware of the immigration-fraud investigation. It’s not clear what would have happened if, for example, an Israeli American had gone to her seeking help with signing up for Obamacare, but imagine the possibilities.

Finally, there’s the shocking support Odeh has received in America, despite her role in a deadly bombing and despite her former membership in a Marxist-Palestinian group involved in myriad plane hijackings and terrorist attacks.

Many in the Arab-American community decried Odeh’s conviction yesterday. The Detroit News reports: “One woman inside the courtroom with the video feed sobbed inconsolably, while another called the judge’s order ‘haram,’ the Arabic word for ‘sinful’ or ‘forbidden.’ . . . Many were in tears, but they cheered and chanted [Odeh’s] name as she spoke and responded with ‘naam,’ which is ‘yes’ in Arabic.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that as many as 100 people protested outside the Detroit courthouse last week and Monday to support Odeh, with rallies for her also held in at least four other states. Several hundred posted to Twitter under the hashtag #JusticeforRasmea. Meanwhile, only a single person Tweeted about #Justice4Eddie and #Justice4Leon [Kanner], the two men killed in the bombing.

Organizations also voiced their support of Odeh. Occupy Chicago called the U.S. attorney’s office “nothing but a tool for the U.S. government and its support of Israel,” while Code Pink wrote about how it “deplores the conviction of Rasmea Odeh,” adding that “Odeh is an inspiring example of the resilience of women activists who dare to organize despite histories of trauma and violence.”

Thirty-five groups — including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Canada Palestine Association, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Voice of Palestine, the Palestinian American Women’s Association, the New York Chapter of the Muslim Defense Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine — had earlier signed a letter opposing Odeh’s indictment. They claimed the case against Odeh was “a clear signal that federal authorities, along with Israel and its supporters in the U.S., are continuing to search for ways to intimidate and silence those who are effective advocates for Arab American communities, and who speak out for Palestinian rights.”

Such groups are quick to echo Odeh’s allegations of Israeli torture, but they fail to mention the two young men murdered in the bombing.

That’s especially frustrating to the surviving Joffe family, says Eddie’s brother Basil: “Now that the truth is out, [many groups] are still supporting her. They’re regarding her as a hero, and they’re ignoring what she did.”

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Hamas arrests five for firing rocket into Israel

November 8th, 2014

The Times of Israel
By Justin Jalil, November 2, 2014

Gaza’s rulers deny responsibility for Friday’s attack and say they are committed to August ceasefire.

Palestinian security forces inspect security headquarters destroyed during fighting between Hamas and Israel on the border between Egypt and Gaza in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on August 31, 2014. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinian security forces inspect security headquarters destroyed during fighting between Hamas and Israel on the border between Egypt and Gaza in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on August 31, 2014. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas arrested five people on Sunday suspected of firing a rocket into Israel.

The rocket, which was fired from Gaza on Friday, hit the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel, causing no damage or casualties.

Hamas officials released a statement on Sunday denying responsibility for the attack.

“Our people did not shoot the rocket and we are committed to the ceasefire,” the group said, according to Israel Radio.

Israel closed the border with Gaza for people and goods on Sunday in response to the attack. With the Gaza-Egypt border sealed following last week’s Sinai suicide attack, which killed 31 Egyptian troops, the narrow coastal strip is effectively sealed to the world.

A Hamas spokesman slammed the closing of the border.

“This is irresponsible behavior and contrary to the understandings reached at the beginning of the ceasefire,” said Moussa Abu Marzouk, the group’s Gaza spokesman.

The rocket on Friday was the second fired into Israel from Gaza since the end of Operation Protective Edge in August.

US Supreme Court to hear oral arguments on Jerusalem passport case

November 7th, 2014

The Jerusalem Post
By Yonah Jeremy Bob, November 02, 2014

Court to decide whether “Israel” can appear on passports of Americans born in Jerusalem.

US passport [Illustrative]. (photo credit:INGIMAGE)

US passport [Illustrative]. (photo credit:INGIMAGE)

The US Supreme Court is expected on Monday to hear oral arguments on whether Americans born in Jerusalem can have “Israel” written as their place of birth on their passports.

The case, Zivotofsky v. Kerry, has been winding through the American courts for years, with major setbacks followed by unexpected decisions putting the case back on track.

US policy, under both Republican and Democratic presidents since the founding of the State of Israel, has been that passports of Americans born in Jerusalem will read merely Jerusalem as place of birth, not Israel.

The basis of the policy has been to avoid taking sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict over the status of the city, despite the state’s annexation of Jerusalem decades ago.

But in 2002, Congress passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which require the US government to place “Jerusalem, Israel” as the place of birth for Jerusalem- born US citizens.

President George W. Bush ignored Congress, claiming it had interfered with his powers to direct foreign policy on the issue of if, or when, to recognize foreign countries’ claims to land, and President Barack Obama has followed suit.

The parents of Menachem Zivotofsky, born in 2002, sued, and along with a coalition of supporters have pushed the case through the courts to try to force the president to comply with the law.

In 2011, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declined to give a position on the dispute, saying that it had to defer to the executive branch since the issue involved foreign policy, which US courts steer clear from.

The Supreme Court intervened and ordered the appeals court to revisit the issue and analyze the merits of the sides’ arguments. In revisiting the issue in July 2013, the same appeals court declared the 2002 law unconstitutional, taking the president’s side that Congress had overreached into foreign policy areas controlled by the executive branch.

In April, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Zivotofsky family’s appeal of the appeals court’s second rejection of its case – and its decision on that final appeal is what is expected on Monday.

Commentators predict that despite saving the case on an interim basis twice, the Supreme Court will likely side with the president.

The arguments for this side start with the idea that Congress unconstitutionally infringed on the power of the president to decide which foreign countries to recognize and under what terms.

Or put differently, the pro-president camp says the court should rule that because the president controls foreign policy about whether the US recognizes Jerusalem as part of Israel or not – pending any resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the fulfillment of UN Security Council Resolution 242 that governs negotiations – he gets the last say on what appears under the entry for country of birth on a passport.

They attack the idea that Congress has a role in this area by virtue of its wide-ranging “necessary and proper” or “commerce” powers under the US Constitution, saying that the problem with separating out the powers is that registration is performed through the State Department, an office controlled by the president.

They say that traditionally, Congress can at most perform oversight, and threaten to withhold funding to maneuver the president into accepting portions of congressional goals.

Most important, they say that changing the policy would profoundly damage US foreign policy interests, as it would anger allies in the Middle East and elsewhere, appearing to be taking Israel’s side on the broader Jerusalem issue.

The Zivotofsky pro-Congress camp argues that the president and Congress have always shared measures of foreign policy power, with Congress controlling funding, for example.

They argue that the US Supreme Court has pushed back against presidential claims of exclusive power in a number of areas, some overlapping with foreign policy.

Many point out that simply allowing Jerusalem, Israel on passports does not in any way push the US to recognize the city as Israel’s capital, with some arguing that the US could write a disclaimer, making it clear that the words did not signify formal recognition.

Others have said that the president has exaggerated the potential fallout from any change in the passports, stating that the Palestinians have not filed a brief against the proposed policy change and that any fallout would be superficial and short-term once countries realized the US was not formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli.

After the court’s decision there can be no further appeal.

Iran Arms Palestinians for New War with Israel

October 30th, 2014

The Washington Free Beacon
By Adam Kredo, October 16, 2014

Ayatollah: ‘Fighting the Zionist regime is a war of destiny’

Ali Khamenei / AP

Ali Khamenei / AP

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised increased support for Palestinian terrorists and urged them to stockpile arms in anticipation of a new war on Israel, according to public comments made Thursday following his meeting with members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group.

“Fighting the Zionist regime [Israel] is a war of destiny,” Khamenei said after a meeting with PIJ’s secretary general, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.

Khamenei instructed Palestinians to “intensify their fight against the Israeli regime” and vowed that Iran would continue to arm Palestinian terrorists in both the Gaza Strip and West Bank, according to Fars.

All Palestinian terrorists groups—with Iran’s support—should rearm and prepare for another war with Israel, Khamenei said.

“The resistance movements in Palestine should boost their preparedness day by day and reinforce their power resources inside Gaza,” Khamenei was quoted as saying Thursday, less than two months after Israel launched an intense several week war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Khamenei maintained that the most recent war with Israel, in which thousands of terror rockets were dropped on the Jewish people, marked the start of the “divine promise” of destroying the Jewish state.

The supreme leader also discussed the importance of arming terrorists in the West Bank, which is controlled by the more moderate Fatah Party.

Iran said in late August, days after the last war officially ended, that Tehran had stepped up arm shipments to the West Bank.

“The enemy should feel the same worries in the West Bank as it does in Gaza,” Khamenei said on Thursday, adding that Tehran will continue its support for the Palestinian “resistance.”

“The Islamic Republic and the Iranian people are proud of your victory and resistance, and hope that the back-to-back triumphs of resistance groups will continue until final victory,” he was quoted as saying.

PIJ Secretary General Ramazan Abdullah thanked Khamenei for Iran’s ongoing support for terrorism against Israel.

“Definitely, the victory was achieved with the assistance of the Islamic Republic,” Abdullah was quoted as saying by Fars following his meeting with Khamenei in Tehran. “Without Iran’s strategic and efficient help, resistance and victory in Gaza would have been impossible.”

Iran’s “arming” of the Palestinian factions in the West Bank has been “strategic and effective,” according to Abdullah, who also noted that Tehran’s support has “re-energized the Palestinian fighters and raised their spirit,” according to Fars.

Additionally, Iran on Thursday sent a plane of what it claimed is humanitarian aid and food to the Palestinians. The aid was said to be delivered via Egypt, according to Fars.

“The society has dispatched aid packages, including tents, blankets, food, and medical products worth $890,000 to Gaza,” the Iranian Red Crescent announced on Thursday.

As the Obama administration contemplates extending nuclear talks with Iran through the November deadline, sources on Capitol Hill are warning that there is no way to stem Iran’s support for terrorism.

The potential extension of talks through November, which already marked the second deadline for progress in the negotiations, has experts and lawmakers worried that the Obama administration will concede to Tehran’s demands that it be permitted to enrich uranium.

“With the Obama administration poised to extend nuclear talks with Tehran once again, it’s business as usual for the Iranian regime, which continues to brazenly fund and incite terrorism across the Middle East,” said one senior congressional aide who works on foreign policy issues. “Almost a year of negotiations has only served to boost Iran’s economy, embolden its leaders, and buy Iran more time to continue its quest for nuclear weapons.”

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