Middle East Update

Ron Cantor —  January 17, 2019 — Leave a comment
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LEAD STORY

Outgoing IDF chief: Israel has struck ‘thousands’ of Iranian targets in Syria

The retiring IDF Chief of Staff (Israel’s highest military position) has revealed that Israel has carried out thousands of airstrikes, in fact on a daily basis, against Iranian military targets in Syria in recent years in a successful campaign to push back against the Islamic nation’s presence there.

Gabi Eisenkot told the New York Times that Israel has concentrated its focus on preventing Iran from building a military presence in Syria, Israel’s hostile neighboring country to the north. This was the first time Israel confirmed the scale of this ongoing military campaign. Israel typically refrains from commenting on individual airstrikes in Syria.

“We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit,” Eisenkot said. 

Eisenkot said that initially the IDF focused its strikes on weapons shipments bound for Hezbollah, but then increased attacks after Iran began importing manpower from around the Muslim world in order to bolster its presence in the country.

“Their vision was to have significant influence in Syria by building a force of up to 100,000 Shiite fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq,” Eisenkot revealed. “They built intelligence bases and an air force base within each Syrian air base. And they brought civilians in order to indoctrinate them.”

Eisenkot said that by 2016, Iran’s Quds Force had mobilized 3,000 men in Syria, along with 8,000 Hezbollah fighters and another 11,000 foreign Shiite troops. With this information, Israel’s security cabinet gave the army unanimous permission to increase strikes in Syria two years ago. And in 2018 alone, Eisenkot said Israel dropped 2,000 bombs on Iranian targets.

The strikes have succeeded in preventing Iran’s entrenchment in Syria.
“We have complete intelligence superiority in this area. We enjoy complete aerial superiority. We have strong deterrence and we have the justification to act,” Eisenkot said. “The force we faced over the last two years was a determined force, but not very impressive in its capabilities.”

Due to Israeli strikes, Eisenkot said the Iranians were moving troops out of Syria and “transferring their efforts” to Iraq.

Just Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel bombed an Iranian weapons depot in Syria.

“This reflects our consistent policy and firm determination to prevent Iran’s military build-up in Syria, and if necessary we will also intensify these attacks,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to monitor all the activities of Hezbollah and Iran and its proxies, and we will do what is necessary to ensure Israel’s security.”

Hezbollah Planned to Infiltrate Israel with up to 2,000 fighters through tunnels … threat averted!

Meanwhile, the IDF uncovered and destroyed the sixth, and what it calls the final, attack tunnel dug by the terrorist group Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel.

“I think everyone understands that a serious threat has been removed,” Netanyahu said. “Hezbollah’s operational plan was to use the tunnel weapon, to infiltrate many fighters, between 1,000 and 2,000 terrorists into the Galilee, to occupy communities here.”

“Everyone understands how this war would have looked with Hezbollah battalions inside the Galilee, and with an Iranian army opposite the Golan Heights.”

Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that, “according to our intelligence and our assessment of the situation there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon into Israel.”
Operation Northern Shield lasted just over a month.

180ft deep underground
2,624ft dug under #Lebanon
Dozens of yards dug into Israel
This #Hezbollah attack tunnel was dug from the Lebanese village of Ramyeh into Israel & will be neutralized soon.

We have now exposed all attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel. pic.twitter.com/AU0zNbmCCM— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) January 13, 2019

Offensive ‘McJesus’ sculpture opposed by local Christians, Israeli leaders

A Finnish artist who is a member of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has also managed to offend Israeli Arab Christians (not to mention believers worldwide).

Janei Leinonen has had his highly offensive sculpture — “McJesus” — displayed in the Haifa Museum of Art since August. The insulting piece of “art” depicts a crucified Ronald McDonald, icon of the fast-food giant McDonald’s.

Fortunately, Israel’s government was none too pleased by the offensive art. Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev called for the sculpture’s removal.
“Disrespect of religious symbols sacred to many worshipers in the world as an act of artistic protest is illegitimate and cannot serve as art at a cultural institution supported by state funds,” she wrote.

Nevertheless, it is the artist himself who wants his piece removed because it is at an  Israeli museum.

“I joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, that upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity,” Leinonen said. “Israel overtly uses culture as a form of propaganda to whitewash or justify its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people. Therefore, I do not wish to be part of this exhibition and I asked the museum to take my artwork off the exhibition.

I have to wonder if the “brave” Jani Leinonen has made any art offensive to Muslims? Probably not, because they don’t protest mocking their religion; they just kill you.

(NOTE: Folks tend to forget that all “Palestinian” lands on the West Bank were won when Jordan [who never made an effort to turn the West Bank into a Palestinian state] ATTACKED Israel. In addition, Israel has worked hard to give the Palestinians their autonomy, even to the point of allowing Arafat and corrupt PLO leadership into Israel—one of the worst moves for the Palestinians. Except for terrorism, the West Bank and Gaza could be thriving.)

The uninformed, anti-Semitic artist continued, “I immediately sent another request to the curator to take the work out of the exhibition, as it should have been in the first place. I have not heard anything back from the museum. I insist my work will be taken off the exhibition instantly.”

So to be clear, Israelis don’t want McJesus here, the Jew-hating artist doesn’t want it here and the Israeli Arabs don’t want it here, but the Haifa Museum curator won’t take it down, citing free speech. I am all for free speech, but no one is forcing the museum to host such an obviously offensive piece of art. There is free speech, and then, common decency.

Last week hundreds of protesters, mostly Arab Christians, stormed the doors of the museum and tried to force their way into the Haifa museum last week in protest of the offensive sculpture. After Friday’s protest, the museum director met with church leaders and agreed to hang a sign warning of potentially offensive content.

Muslim Arab woman vies for spot on Netanyahu’s party ticket

As a true democracy, Israel allows all citizens, including Arabs — even those who are anti-Israel — to run in national elections.
But that doesn’t always prevent opposition from their own families. 

A young Israeli Arab woman was apparently ostracized from her family when she announced she is vying for a spot on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party ticket in the Knesset elections on April 9.

Dema Taya, 25, is outspoken in her support of Israel and recently joined forces with a public awareness campaign in the United States to counter the BDS movement.

Her family members, however, have allegedly distanced themselves from her and her politics. “We condemn and categorically reject all her statements that were published by the media. She is not associated with us in any manner,” wrote the family. “We declare that we will not maintain any contact with her nor support her until she retracts her words and beliefs, and declares her allegiance to the people and religion that she is really a part of.”

In some Israeli Arab communities, residents with pro-Israel sentiments are frowned upon if not outright persecuted. And in the Palestinian territories, residents live with a fear of being perceived as a collaborator with Israel, which is punishable by death. 

“I am proud of the path I chose,” she wrote on Facebook. “The nation of Israel lives!”

Fl. Gov. Ron DeSantis Boycotts AIRBNB

In November the popular travel site AIRBNB, that lets people rent out their homes, launched a boycott against Jewish-owned homes in Israel’s West Bank—known to Israelis as Judea and Samaria. The policy has been condemned as anti-Semitic and racist, since it has no such policy in other disputed territories such as Russian-occupied Ukraine or for Arabs who live in the West Bank.

Now, the newly elected governor of Florida is seeking to boycott the boycotters. According to the Tampa Bay Times reported:

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Tuesday that Airbnb faces sanctions over its decision not to list properties in the West Bank, arguing that the policy is discriminatory and may violate a state law that prohibits Florida from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.”

“We have a moral obligation to oppose the Airbnb policy. It does target Jews specifically. I think that’s wrong,” said DeSantis, “Airbnb claims it’s a company of inclusion and yet this policy only affects Jews who have homes on the West Bank. It doesn’t appear to apply to anyone else on the face of the earth.”

State of Florida employees will not longer be able to use the popular site for business travel.

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