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    Terrorist group Hamas plans to conduct public executions in Gaza in an attempt to bring down crime. Ismail Jaber, the group's attorney general, said he wants them to "take place before a large crowd." Hamas has thirteen men waiting for their execution after the courts convicted them "of murder connected to robberies." Officials can seek the death penalty for "collaborators, murderers and drug traffickers." If Hamas conducts the executions, the numbers could push them past Saudi Arabia. The kingdom houses 31.5 million people and executed 153 in 2015. Hamas will commit more death penalties since they have a population on 1.8 million.

    The fallout from the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia on Saturday will roil the Middle East region for some time to come. Below, I review the recent developments since our last posts (see here and here) and discuss some of the lessons to be learned from this latest episode in the unraveling of the Muslim Middle East.

    Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties with Iran

    As we reported, Saudi Arabia has broken diplomatic ties with Iran. On Sunday afternoon, the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir announced at a press conference that Iranian diplomats had 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

    More than 15 months have passed since the end of the conflict in Gaza between Israel and the terrorist outfit Hamas, but the campaign of slander against Israel and witch-hunt against the members of its armed forces still continues. Last week British authorities briefly detained a retired IDF reserves officer, apparently based on a list compiled by a "pro-Palestinian group" of soldiers involved in alleged 'war crimes' during last year's Operation Protective Edge. The officer was held for questioning for hours and was only released after Israeli Foreign Ministry intervened. British authorities have since apologized for the incident, but this once highlights how anti-Israel groups are subverting the laws in the West in an attempt to strip Israel of its right to defend itself in the face of terror. The incident took place just days after a fact-finding group comprising of military experts from around the world published their report on the 50-day clash between Israel Defense Force (IDF) and militant islamist outfit Hamas in Gaza. Around 14 high-ranking military officers came together to form the High Level Military Group (HLMG) earlier this year. Former head of India's Defence Intelligence (DG DIA) Lt. General Kamal Davar was accompanied by former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan Colonel Richard Kemp, along with other top military commanders from U.S., Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

    This would be funny, if it didn't represent a sad reality. We have focused repeatedly not just on incitement to violence in Palestinian society by the Palestinian Authority leadership, but particularly on the indoctrination of children. Here is another example, involving both the PA and children. Israeli customs just seized 4000 dolls being imported to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The dolls idealized rock throwing and had a rock in hand, as reported in The Times of Israel:
    Some 4,000 plush toys of rock-throwing men dressed in Palestinian garb were intercepted Tuesday at the Haifa port by Israeli authorities, who said the dolls were headed for the Palestinian Authority and were part of an incitement campaign. Each toy has its face hidden by a keffiyah, with one arm raised and clutching a tiny toy rock. They hold banners in Palestinian colors proclaiming “Jerusalem is ours” and “Jerusalem we are coming.” Customs officials found the dolls in a container that arrived from the United Arab Emirates and destined for the Palestinian Authority. According to the accompanying paperwork, the shipment was supposed to be clothing, rugs, and plastic products.
    Rock throwing is deadly in itself.

    On Friday morning, September 18, 2015, the third grade classes at the Beverly J. Martin School in Ithaca, NY, heard a presentation on "human rights" by Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi and local anti-Israel activists, including Ariel Gold of the local chapter of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace. On Sunday night, September 20, Legal Insurrection broke the story, Anti-Israel activism hits elementary school in Ithaca, NY. Because of Tamimi's notoriety for exploiting children in videotaped confrontations with Israeli soldiers, Tamimi's mere appearance in a third grade class raised suspicions about the event. After our report, a firestorm of controversy erupted, with the Superintendent of the Ithaca City School District (ICSD), Dr. Luvelle Brown, conducting an investigation, after which he issued a statement that the event was "politically skewed, inflammatory, and not endorsed by the Ithaca City School District.” The Superintendent's statement, though, contained few details of his investigation. But now Legal Insurrection exclusively has obtained documents pursuant to a Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL) request that show the event was even worse than we thought.

    The Knife Intifada continues, with daily attempted stabbings. Today in Israel an Arab woman was shot dead by an Israeli security guard at Beitar Ilit. The woman was trying to reach a bus stop in the community, where presumably she would have stabbed waiting passengers or entered the bus and conducted a stabbing attack there. That's what the headlines emphasized. But she was shot only after she pulled out a knife from her pocketbook and lunged at the Israeli man: (Video source: Col. Peter Lerner Twitter)

    A storm of controversy erupted when the Ithaca, NY, chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace brought Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi to a third grade class. Tamimi is best known for the viral videos and photos he creates by sending children, including his own, to confront Israeli soldiers. Tamimi, who argues that it is the “duty” of children to engage in acts of resistance, was on a now-concluded U.S. national tour co-sponsored by JVP and the Chicago branch of Amnesty International. [caption id="attachment_146972" align="alignnone" width="600"] [Image capture Ithaca Week video][/caption]The Superintendent of the Ithaca school district, after an investigation, denounced the visit,finding that Tamimi was not invited by the school and the event was “not developmentally appropriate for third graders, nor aligned with the New York State standards. The statements were politically skewed, inflammatory, and not endorsed by the Ithaca City School District.”

    We previously reported how activists in Ithaca, New York, arranged a one-sided anti-Israel presentation to the Third Grade classes at the Beverly J. Martin School, which included local Jewish Voice for Peace activist Ariel Gold and Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi. Tamimi is best known for using children, including his own, to confront Israeli soldiers to create viral photo and video. He also advocates using children in protests, including setting up roadblocks, and rock throwing. Tamimi is on a national speaking tour, co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, and had two other appearances in the Ithaca area in addition to the third grade appearance. When news of the third grade event came to the attention of the Ithaca City School District Superintendent Luvelle Brown, he launched an investigation, and at the end of that investigation issued a strongly worded statement condemning what had happened. The statement reads, in part:

    See this important update: Superintendent: Third Grade event “politically skewed, inflammatory” against Israel An uproar is brewing in Ithaca, New York, after anti-Israel activists bragged on Facebook how they managed to bring Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi to a third-grade class as part of a presentation on the suffering of Palestinian children at the hands of Israel. According to the activists, the event took place on Friday morning, September 18, 2015 at the Beverly J. Martin Elementary School. Tamimi is best known for his use of children, including his own, for media purposes. The game goes like this: Tamimi's children and other children from the village of Nabi Saleh are encouraged to confront Israeli soldiers in the hope of provoking a reaction. The children are surrounded by a phalanx of photographers and videographers waiting for the viral moment when the Israeli soldier reacts, which then is fed to the media through the Tamimi media operation and international activists who often participate. Tamimi's daughter Ahed (the blond girl in this 2012 video) is world famous for such staged confrontations, having been given a heroism award by the anti-Israel Prime Minister of Turkey for this performance:

    Just a week before the prominent Palestinian activist leader Bassem al-Tamimi embarks on a month-long speaking tour in the U.S., he and his family attracted massive media attention when a clip of one of the clashes they provoked with the IDF went viral. Daily Mail Ahed Tamimi bites Israeli Soldier2 The Tamimis are used to sympathetic media coverage, including a fawning New York Times Magazine cover story in March 2013 on the family's ambition to start a "Third Intifada". Bassem Tamimi is usually presented as  an admirable organizer of “nonviolent resistance” who can count on the support of Amnesty International and who has been praised as a “human rights defender” by the European Union. By contrast, Bassem Tamimi’s views on the “right to resist” that he often invokes and the use of his children in his activism – including regular efforts to challenge the IDF into responding to provocations like rock-throwing – have so far largely escaped scrutiny. Yet, just a few hours of research reveal many easily discoverable cracks in the carefully cultivated image of the Tamimis as peaceful activists and “non-violent” protesters.

    Use of Children to Confront Soldiers as Cameras Roll

    The Tamimis are best known for the 2012 video of daughter Ahed confronting Israeli soldiers for the cameras:

    A video of an Israeli soldier near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh being confronted by women and children is making the rounds. It has over a million views on Facebook alone. (Embedded towards end of this post.) As you view the history below, don't blame the children. They are victims of their family's abuse which puts them in harms way for photo-ops. Were these children treated such a way in the U.S., there is no doubt that local family services agencies would be involved in preventing their dangerous exploitation by their parents. In the current incident, the soldier, according to Israeli authorities, was in the process of detaining a member of the Tamimi clan of Nabi Saleh for stone throwing. Haaretz reports:
    An Israeli soldier tried to detain a minor during clashes in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday, but a number of Palestinian women and children managed to stop him. According to the army, the youth was throwing stones at the troops, who did not realize he was a minor. Photographs taken by Reuters and AFP show the soldier surrounded by women and children. In one of the images, a young girl is seen biting his hand. The soldier was lightly wounded as a result of the altercation. The commander in the area decided to release the minor. The army said that one other Palestinian was detained in Friday's clashes, along with one foreign activist.
    Haaretz quotes left-wing Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak, who denies Israel even has a right to exist, as denying that there was stone throwing. The fact Pollak was present makes the whole incident suspect, in addition to the background of the Tamimi family. Now, questions are being raised by The Daily Mail of Britain and others as to whether the current incident was deliberately provoked because Tamimi members were involved. The most famous photo shows a girl biting the hand of the Israeli soldier. That girl is Ahed Tamimi.

    A report from the London Times has revealed that a senior employee of Amnesty International failed to disclose ties to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the greater global Islamist network. Yasmin Hussein, 51, was until recently head of Amnesty's international advocacy division, and played an active role in the charity's advocacy at the United Nations. An investigation into Hussein's connections uncovered ties to "a secretive network of global Islamists" both through her husband, who was investigated for working closely with the Muslim Brotherhood, and via her activities with a UK-based aid agency that was banned from Israel for their alleged support of Hamas terrorism. More from the Times of London (hat tip to UN Watch):
    Ms Hussein, who is understood to receive a salary of more than £90,000, told The Times that she had “never had any association whatsoever with . . . the Muslim Brotherhood”. Her husband, Wael Musabbeh, was one of several alleged British Islamists, none of them defendants, named in documents released after a 2013 trial in the UAE that led to the jailing of more than 60 Emirati citizens who were tried for conspiracy and sedition.

    Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon reported that that the Obama administration is willing to do whatever it takes to prevent a veto override when Congress votes on the Iran deal. This morning, CNN hosted a veritable White House press conference about the subject. Former State Department Iran negotiator Hillary Mann Leverett and Obama shill and Haaretz contributor Peter Beinart were anchor Chris Cuomo's entire panel. One point that Beinart made that deserves examination is his assertion that “Iranian dissidents want this deal to go through,” on the theory that opening up Iran will lessen the regime’s human rights abuses. He’s made the same argument here, and we're likely to hear it again in the coming weeks. It's worth asking, then, whether the human rights situation in Iran stands to improve. To begin with, Beinart is being disingenuous when he says that dissidents support the deal. Eli Lake documented in 2013 that, while some support it, many others do not.

    First the good news, the so-called Schabas report, the United Nations Human Rights Council inquiry into last year's war between Hamas and Israel, isn't as bad as its predecessor, the infamous, discredited Goldstone report. But it's still pretty bad. The Schabas report is named for the judge who originally headed it, William Schabas. Schabas stepped down when it was reported that he had done paid work for the Palestinian Authority. Schabas had previously said that he wanted to see Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried for war crimes had to step down when it was clear that he was hopelessly compromised. After he resigned the commission was headed by former New York State justice, Mary McGowan Davis. For the most part media outlets reported that the conclusion of the report is that both sides "may have committed war crimes." There are two problems with this. The first is that it is inconclusive. The second and more serious one is that it put Israel and Hamas, which precipitated the conflict by launching rockets into Israel, on the same level. Rockets fired from Gaza civilian area at Israel

    Much of the war against Israel is fought in the media and through deceptive "Non-Governmental Organizations" which issue endless distorted reports against Israel. There hardly is any pretense of objectivity anymore -- there is an attempt to tie Israel's hands when dealing with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah which strategically use civilians as shields. In Gaza, the media was intimidated by Hamas, and maintained a near-silence about the use of the main hospital in Gaza as a Hamas headquarters, and the firing of rockets from near schools, apartments and hospitals. But a few reports leaked out and some reporters admitted to the distorted reporting after leaving Gaza: This media war is important because one side (Hamas, Hezbollah) uses media outrage as a strategic weapon to shape the physical battlefield.  And biased, agenda-driven NGOs and media organizations are part of the plan. The lastest distortion, which has received wide play on anti-Israel websites and on Facebook, was issued by "Breaking the Silence."

    Last week Iran's foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared in "a conversation" with columnist David Ignatius of The Washington Post at NYU sponsored by the New America Foundation. There were those in the media who described Zarif as "suave" and "diplomatic," but not everyone was impressed with Zarif's performance. Matthew Continetti went after the supposed moderate in The Appalling Mr. Zarif.
    What made Zarif’s appearance all the more nauseating was his pretense of moral standing. He has none. His lecture to the United States took place as his regime held a container ship it had seized in international waters, and as evidence emerged of Iranian violations of U.N. sanctions. It is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies such as Hezbollah and the Houthis and other Shiite militias that are fomenting and exploiting sectarian conflict in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Iran’s human rights record is abysmal. Since Zarif returned to government in the administration of Hassan Rouhani, there has been a “surge” in executions in Iran. “The authorities restricted freedoms of expression, association, and assembly, arresting, detaining, and prosecuting in unfair trials minority and women’s rights activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and others who voiced dissent” say the right-wing extremists at Amnesty International, whose most recent report catalogues the torture and cruel and unusual punishments of the Iranian regime. ... At NYU Zarif said America will have to lift sanctions on Iran “whether Senator Cotton likes it or not.” The “polite” and “respectful” audience broke into laughter—at Cotton. “I couldn’t resist,” Zarif said. No troll could.

    I will give the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement credit for one thing: It is highly adaptive. The run-of-the mill anti-Israel divestment pushes on college campuses have had only mild success. Most often the attempt to get student government to endorse a boycott of companies doing business in Israel has failed, but there have been some successes, particularly in the U. California system. There have been some high profile losses for BDS on campus, most recently at U. Michigan, where even a watered-down resolution to create a committee to study divesting from Israel was voted down (after last year's divestment resolution failed). The divestment motions are mostly for theater, since student governments have zero power to divest university funds, and no university in the U.S. has gone along with any student anti-Israel resolution. The purpose of these divestment motions is to raise the profile of the anti-Israel movement, and to occupy everyone's time arguing over how bad Israel is. By contrast, divestment from fossil fuels is gaining some traction even at the administrative level, because there is more of a student and campus consensus. It was only a matter of time that BDS tried to co-opt a larger issue to use against Israel. Some anti-Israel groups at the University of Pennsylvania seem to think they have found a broader theme: Divestment from companies causing "displacement" of people. The Daily Pennsylvanian reports, Controversy sparks over Penn Divest from Displacement (h/t a reader):

    Today, Islamic extremist group Boko Haram launched a three-front assault on northeast Nigeria's largest city, Maidguri, and also raided villages in Adamawa state, burning homes and abducting women and children. Via Fox News:
    In Maiduguri, troops blocked roads into the city, which also prevented civilians from escaping. "Coordinated air and land operations are being conducted now," Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade posted on Twitter. He said the 12-hour curfew in place in Maiduguri for more than a year is extended to 24 hours. "We believe hundreds of thousands of civilians are now at grave risk," Amnesty International said. More than 200 combatants have been killed, mainly insurgents, according to soldiers and civilian self-defense fighters who counted bodies. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to reporters.
    Although forces in Maiduguri were able to fight back the wave of insurgents, the army at Monguno, just north of Maiduguri, was overwhelmed and Boko Haram was able to seize control of the city.