December 19/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site 

News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006

Bible Quotations
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law
"Romans 13/08-10: "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 18-19/17
Report: Obama administration derailed anti-Hezbollah project to secure Iran deal/Ynetnews/December 18/17/
Germany Uses EU Funds To Finance Extremists Iranian Regime-Controlled Group
Benjamin Weinthal/Jerusalem Post/December 18/17
What Is Really to Blame for Palestinian Violence/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/December 18/17
Austria: New Government to Resist "Islamization"/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/December 18/17
Is the UK Overthrowing the Christian Basis of the West?/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/December 18/17
Jerusalem: An Opportunity for Islamic Reformation/Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/December 18/17
Russia and Messages of Power/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/December 18/17
Giant Companies and Harming Democracy/Shira Ovide/Bloomberg View/December 18/17
Question: "Should Jerusalem be the capital of modern-day Israel?"/ 18/17
What if we eliminate Saudi Arabia, UAE from the map/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/December 18/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on December 18-19/17
Report: Obama administration derailed anti-Hezbollah project to secure Iran deal
Aoun: Israeli Separation Wall with Lebanon Incompatible with International Boundaries
Hariri at Arms Conference Calls for Strategy to Prevent Violence
ISF Arrest Uber Driver over Murder of British Embassy Staffer
Mogherini to Visit Lebanon to Reaffirm 'Strong Partnership, Continued Support'
U.N. Special Coordinator Kardel Meets Lebanon's Leaders
Report: Govt to Focus on Waste Crisis as Landfills Approach Maximum Capacity

Kataeb spurns policy of intimidation, confiscation of freedom
Berri welcomes Hamas delegation, Deputy Head of Italian Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee
Opening of the conference on 'Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Arab Region'
AlAzhar confirms Arab identity of Quds during meeting with Lebanon Ambassador to Egypt
Geagea tackles local, regional developments with U.S. Ambassador
Hariri receives Kardel
UN Special Coordinator Pernille Dahler Kardel meets Lebanon leaders
Marcel Ghanem issued writ to appear in hearing session on January 4

Titles For
Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 18-19/17
Germany Uses EU Funds To Finance Extremists Iranian Regime-Controlled Group
Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jedda Calls On Arabs To Recognize Jewish Connection To Jerusalem
King Salman Discusses Regional Developments with CIA Chief
Kremlin Praises US-Russia Cooperation on Planned Attack
ISIS Militants Storm Kabul Spy Agency Center
Tensions in Iran's Parliament Following Corruption Accusations
Iran Reopens Border Posts with Iraqi Kurdistan
Assad and Syria's Kurds Trade Accusations
Protesters Torch Political Party Offices in Iraqi Kurdistan
Israel Targets Hamas Site in Gaza after Rocket Fire
War against IS in Syria Will Be Won by February, Says Macron
Shots Fired at U.S. Base in England after 'Car Drives into Gate'
U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution Rejecting Trump's Jerusalem Decision

Latest Lebanese Related News published on December 18-19/17
Report: Obama administration derailed anti-Hezbollah project to secure Iran deal
Ynetnews/December 18/17/
Politico investigation reveals previous American administration undermined an ambitious law enforcement campaign and allowed the Lebanese terror organization to engage in drug-trafficking and money-laundering operations—including inside the US— to ensure nuclear deal would remain on track. 'This was a policy decision,' says finance analyst. The Obama administration allowed Hezbollah members to engage in drug-trafficking and money-laundering operations—including activities carried out within the United States—in a bid to secure a nuclear agreement with Iran, an extensive investigation conducted by Politico magazine reveals. The first part of the investigation was published Monday. Project Cassandra was an ambitious law enforcement campaign launched in 2008 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), aimed at targeting the Lebanese terror organization's criminal activity. According to Fox News, however, "by tossing a string of roadblocks holding back the project, Obama administration officials helped allow the 35-year-old anti-Israel criminal enterprise to evolve into a major global security threat bankrolling terrorist and military operations."“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” David Asher, who helped establish and oversee Project Cassandra as a Defense Department illicit finance analyst, told Politico. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”According to the report, for eight years agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 US and foreign security agencies. They followed cocaine shipments, tracked a river of dirty cash, and traced what they believed to be the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran. But when Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests. Project Cassandra members told Politico that administration officials also blocked or undermined their efforts to go after other top Hezbollah operatives, including one nicknamed 'The Ghost'— one of the world’s biggest cocaine traffickers, including to the US, as well as a major supplier of conventional and chemical weapons for use by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his people.

Aoun: Israeli Separation Wall with Lebanon Incompatible with International Boundaries
Naharnet/December 18/17/President Michel Aoun said on Monday that Israel is preparing to build a separation wall along the Blue Line which “Lebanon believes is not compatible with the international boundary lines.”“Israel is preparing to build a wall along the Blue Line,” with Lebanon, Aoun told visiting Pernille Dahler Kardel, the Acting United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon. “Lebanon adheres to the UN resolutions and insists on its implementation, foremost of which is Resolution 1701. Israel continues its repeated attacks on Lebanon, and so far more than 11 thousand violations of this decision have been registered,” he added. “The Blue Line does not match the international boundary lines where Israel plans to build a wall,” said Aoun, raising concerns the wall would be constructed on Lebanese territory. The Blue Line is a border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations on 7 June 2000 for the purposes of determining whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon. Israel has reportedly started preparations for the construction of a 7 meters high cement wall along the southern Lebanese border which will run from Ras al-Naqoura in the west, through Isbaa al-Jaleel to the Shebaa farms and Jabal al-Sheikh in the east. On the issue of Jerusalem, after a US decision that recognized it as capital of Israel, Aoun said : “I believe that Jerusalem has a special international status. Washington does not have the right to exclusively cancel international resolutions.”

Hariri at Arms Conference Calls for Strategy to Prevent Violence
Naharnet/December 18/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed the need on Monday to develop a strategy to prevent violence as he called for combating terrorism with education and knowledge. The Premier emphasized in his speech at a conference titled Repercussions of the Proliferation of Small Arms in Lebanon and the Arab World “the need to develop and implement a national strategy to prevent violent extremism.” Rejecting aggression he said “In our society we see a lot of violence and we have to fight violence with culture, science and practice," he said in his speech. “This program is very important for us. The Lebanese State sought to formulate a national strategy in which the Lebanese society participates in all its political, cultural and social components, starting with the participation of the government with 29 ministries, and the societal consultation with civil society organizations, research institutions and universities,” added Hariri. “It's necessary to develop a strategy, and I know that the work group worked a lot with the concerned ministries. It remains important to move to the implementation phase, which requires the cooperation of everybody,” he stated. The PM emphasized that violence is rejected by everyone, “but how much violence and domination is there in the world? This requires education, and this only happens when we try to solve the issues in a scientific way,” said the PM. The three-day conference opened at the Grand Serail under the Premier's patronage in cooperation with the Arab League.

ISF Arrest Uber Driver over Murder of British Embassy Staffer
Agence France Presse/Associated Press/Naharnet/December 18/17/December 18/17/The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch on Monday arrested a taxi driver suspected of killing British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes after attempting to rape her, according to officials and the National News Agency.
The Lebanese news agency said the Lebanese man, Tarek H., had confessed to killing the young woman, who worked at the UK embassy in Beirut. LBCI television identified the driver as Tarek S. Houshiyeh, 29, saying he hails from Beirut and was arrested in Ashrafieh. Dykes was last seen alive at a party in Gemmayze, a Beirut nightlife area popular with foreigners, on Friday night and left in a taxi. A judicial source told the AFP news agency that the driver worked for the global online taxi-hailing firm Uber. Media reports said he had a criminal record. A senior official in the judiciary said the woman had booked her vehicle using the Uber app, whose driver identification and rating system is seen by many, especially women, as offering better safety guarantees than when hailing a cab off the street in Lebanon. The driver "tried to rape her and when she resisted he strangled her... took her wallet and threw her in a dumpster," the official said. In a statement, Uber said it was working with authorities "to assist their investigation in any way we can." "We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family," the Uber statement said. The National News Agency said the driver "picked her up in Gemmayze on Friday night, took her to Ashrafieh then to the Metn highway and tried to rape her," referring to an expressway north of Beirut. Her body was found dumped on the roadside there on Saturday evening. A senior security official had told AFP that strangulation was a possible cause of death and added that Dykes was found with a string tied around her neck. The Lebanese news agency said the driver confessed to killing Dykes. A police official said the suspect was traced through security cameras that showed his car driving from Beirut to the area where Dykes' body was found, just north of the Lebanese capital. "He was detained at his apartment," the official said. He added that once the plate number of the vehicle was traced through security cameras, the suspect, who is a Lebanese citizen, was identified.
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq praised the rapid arrest, saying it should boost confidence in Lebanon's security agencies. He said authorities are concerned about the safety of "all foreigners residing in Lebanon."The Lebanese news agency said the suspect picked up the woman from Beirut's Gemmayze and then drove to a nearby neighborhood where she lived but did not drop her off there. Instead, the suspect drove the car to the site where Dykes' body was later found. NNA said the man tried to sexually assault her, then strangled her with a rope. When she was found, there were no items pointing to her identity and she had no money or a cellular telephone. Authorities released a drawing of her in order for people who know her to come forward and identify her. Such crime is rare in the Lebanese capital, a city which is considered generally safe, including for tourists and foreign residents. A senior official had stressed that the murder was "not politically motivated." A picture of the young woman, who worked at the British government's Department for International Development (DFID), was on the front pages of many UK papers Monday. The British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter, expressed his grief in a statement and messages of support for her family and colleagues poured in from Beirut's shell-shocked diplomatic and aid community. “The whole embassy is deeply shocked and saddened by this news. Our thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss. We are providing consular support to Becky’s family and working very closely with the Lebanese local authorities who are conducting the police investigation,” Shorter said. Meanwhile, Britain's Foreign Office confirmed the death of an embassy staffer who worked for the Department for International Development. In a statement released by the Foreign Office, the family requested that the media respect their privacy "at this very difficult time." "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened," her family said. Dykes' friends said she was planning to fly home for Christmas on Saturday.

Mogherini to Visit Lebanon to Reaffirm 'Strong Partnership, Continued Support'
Naharnet/December 18/17/The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, will visit Lebanon on December 19 to “reaffirm strong partnership and continued EU support to Lebanon's stability, security and prosperity,” the EU Delegation to Lebanon said. She will meet with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil. The High Representative's second visit this year shows “the EU's strong and long-standing partnership with Lebanon,” the EU Delegation said in a statement. The European Union will continue to “support Lebanon in meeting the challenges that lie ahead and remains committed to the country's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement added. At the end of her visit, the EU High Representative will hold a joint press conference with PM Hariri at the Center House.

U.N. Special Coordinator Kardel Meets Lebanon's Leaders
Naharnet/December 18/17/U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel met Monday morning with President Michel Aoun and separately with Prime Minister Saad Hariri. She had met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri last week. Kardel, who arrived in Lebanon last week, discussed with Lebanon’s top leaders key issues that are on the agenda of cooperation between Lebanon and the U.N., her office said in a statement. “The U.N. and Lebanon share a long history together. I intend to ensure that this partnership continues as we move forward together,” Kardel said. The Special Coordinator also expressed her gratitude for the “warm welcome” she has received from Lebanon’s leaders and underlined the “continued U.N. support for Lebanon on crucial issues related to peace and security, stability and socio-economic development.”

Report: Govt to Focus on Waste Crisis as Landfills Approach Maximum Capacity
Naharnet/December 18/17/Lebanon's waste management crisis surfaces once more as the two major landfills in the country approach maximum capacity, meanwhile the government prepares to tackle the controversial file in addition to 67 items on its agenda during its meeting on Monday. A number of options are placed on the Cabinet table which include a suggestion proposed by the Council for Development and Reconstruction CDR for expanding the Costa Brava and Burj Hammoud temporary landfills, al-Liwaa daily said Monday. Another option calls for the construction of a waste disposal plant and development of a waste sorting plant in al-Amrousieh and al-Karantina. The environment ministry has also suggested an integrated solid waste management policy, added the daily. Costa Brava and Burj Hammoud landfills were opened as part of a four-year plan to resolve the waste crisis that emerged in Lebanon in April 2016, eight months after the closure of the Naameh landfill, which received garbage from Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The two landfills are reaching maximum capacity. In that regard, Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh wondered about a solution plan submitted previously by the minister of environment to use thermal decomposition, he asked: “Was there truly a plan? We will shed light on that during Tuesday's meeting to find a solution he said.”The waste management crisis escalated largely in 2015 across Lebanon, was a particular threat for children and old people, and constituted a rights violation.
Rivers of rubbish flooding populated areas across the country, including in central Beirut, put the spotlight on Lebanon's waste problem but the rights group said a silent crisis had been unfolding elsewhere for years. Early in December, Human Rights Watch warned in a report that the open burning of waste in Lebanon poses serious health risks, blaming decades-old, across the board government failure.On another note, Hamadeh also said he will raise the issue of “non-acceptance of the credentials of new Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Walid al-Yaacoub,” the daily quoted him, adding “a country like Saudi Arabia that have supported Lebanon for 70 years and hosts about 250 thousand Lebanese nationals should not be treated this way.”

Kataeb spurns policy of intimidation, confiscation of freedom
Mon 18 Dec 2017/NNA - Kataeb political bureau held its regular weekly meeting on Monday chaired by the Party's deputy head, Joseph Abu Khalil. The meeting reportedly focused on the latest developments, as well as party leader MP Sami Gemayel's most recent visit to France and his high-level official meetings with French leaders. In a statement issued in the wake of the meeting, Kataeb political bureau members issued a statement in which they censured the Lebanese authorities' practices deeming them an outright attempt to revive a security regime that should be way over and done with.
The statement accused the state of adopting a policy of intimidation and repression against free media by means of confiscating freedom of opinion and expression. "All sides are called forth to be vigilant and alert, and to face the authority's practices that unrightfully drag people to courts," the statement read, snubbing the "oppressive treatment against journalist Marcel Ghanem." In addition, Kataeb's statement said that the state's repressive methods would only increase [Ghanem's] strength and boost his position.

Berri welcomes Hamas delegation, Deputy Head of Italian Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee
Mon 18 Dec 2017/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, welcomed at his Ein Teeneh residence on Monday a delegation representing Hamas Movement headed by Moussa Abu Marzouk. Talks featured high on the heatedly debated international position against U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of al-Quds as the capital of Palestine. "Al-Quds is the capital of Christians and the Arab world. It will never be the capital of Israel that we do not recognize to start with," Marzouk said in the wake of the meeting, confirming his country's support for Lebanon's security and stability. "Berri is committed to inter-Palestinian unity and we have invited him to support reconciliation in the face of regional developments," Marzouk added. Separately, Berri met with the deputy head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Senate, Paolo Corsini, accompanied by Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, Massimo Marotti. Talks between both sides featured high on the most recent developments in Lebanon and the region.

Opening of the conference on 'Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Arab Region'

Mon 18 Dec 2017/NNA - Under the patronage of the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri, the conference on "Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Arab Region: Consequences Legislation and Best Practices" started this morning at the Grand Serail. It is organized by the Permanent Peace Movement (PPM) in Lebanon, in cooperation with the Arab League. In a welcoming speech, the Director of the Permanent Peace Movement and Premier Hariri’s Advisor for humanitarian security affairs Fadi Abi Allam talked about the objectives of the conference and the dangers of this phenomenon. After that speeches were delivered by the Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee for National Defense, Internal Affairs and Municipalities MP Alain Aoun, Brigadier General Elie Abi Rashed representing Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, and General Joseph Mosallem representing the Internal Security Forces Director General Major General Imad Othman . The President of the Lebanese Green Party Ms. Nada Zaarour spoke about the role of the political parties and the connection between environment and the culture of peace. For his part, Dr. Fouad Dirani spoke in the name of Lebanese non-governmental organizations and associations and said that the Lebanese civil society should reduce the spread of violence in conflict resolution. Other speakers talked about the role of municipalities, educational institutions and religious figures. They stressed the need to comply with the laws regarding the possession of light weapons, combating the phenomenon of shooting on private and public occasions and using awareness campaigns on the dangers of weapons to include high schools, universities, clubs, and associations all over Lebanon. The conference will continue over the next today days and will include speeches by the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri, German ambassador Martin Huth, Deputy Chief of UNODA Ivor Fung and Head of Disarmament and Regional Security at the Arab League Fadi Achaia.

AlAzhar confirms Arab identity of Quds during meeting with Lebanon Ambassador to Egypt
Mon 18 Dec 2017/NNA - The Grand Imam of al-Azhar mosque, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb, met on Monday with Lebanon's ambassador to Egypt, Antoine Azzam. Azzam thanked the Sheikh for his positions in support of stability and unity in Lebanon, relaying the Lebanese people's high appreciation of the Sheikh's stances. For his part, Sheikh al-Tayeb emphasized the importance of the model represented by Lebanon, describing it a country of peaceful coexistence. "Al-Azhar is committed to supporting Arab causes, with al-Quds at the forefront," al-Tayeb said confirming the Arab identity of al-Quds.

Geagea tackles local, regional developments with U.S. Ambassador
Mon 18 Dec 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces Leader, Samir Geagea, welcomed at his Meerab residence on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard. Talks between the pair reportedly touched on the most recent developments at the local and regional scenes.

Hariri receives Kardel

Mon 18 Dec 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received today at the Grand Serail the Acting UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Ms Pernille Dahler Kardel, who said after the meeting: "I just had a very good meeting with Prime Minister Hariri. He welcomed me very warmly to Lebanon and it is an honor and a pleasure to be here. I am really looking forward to continue the very strong relationship between the UN and Lebanon. We discussed the upcoming issues that would be on my agenda as I take up my job leading UNSCOL. The agenda is full of issues that are relevant for continuing discussions about the critical issues on Lebanon's peace and security and on stability and economic development. I am looking forward to adding my part to the continued cooperation between the UN and Lebanon".

UN Special Coordinator Pernille Dahler Kardel meets Lebanon leaders
Mon 18 Dec 2017 /NNA - UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Ms. Pernille Dahler Kardel, met on Monday morning with President Michel Aoun and separately with Prime Minister Saad Hariri. She had met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri last week. Ms. Kardel, who arrived in Lebanon last week, discussed with Lebanon's top leaders key issues that are on the agenda of cooperation between Lebanon and the UN. "The UN and Lebanon share a long history together. I intend to ensure that this partnership continues as we move forward together," Ms. Kardel said. The Special Coordinator expressed her gratitude for the warm welcome she has received from Lebanon's leaders and underlined the continued UN support for Lebanon on crucial issues related to peace and security, stability and socio-economic development.

Marcel Ghanem issued writ to appear in hearing session on January 4
Mon 18 Dec 2017/NNA - Mount Lebanon's First Investigative Judge, Nicolas Mansour, has issued a writ for journalist Marcel Ghanem to appear before the judiciary and attend a hearing session on January 4, National News Agency correspondent reported on Monday.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 18-19/17
Germany Uses EU Funds To Finance Extremists Iranian Regime-Controlled Group
Benjamin Weinthal/Jerusalem Post/December 18/17
'The money appears to be going to a radical Iranian front group...the NGOs receiving ‘human rights’ grants are reportedly linked to PFLP terrorists.'
BERLIN – The German government provides €283,150 to a radical pro-Iranian regime Shi’ite umbrella organization as part of a program to counter extremism. The funds will support the activities of the umbrella organization the Shi’ite communities of Germany (IGS) until the end of 2019, according to a Friday article in Bild newspaper. The paper wrote that money from the EU’s Internal Security Fund will be administered by Germany’s federal criminal agency for the Shi’ite umbrella organization. The aim of the grant to the pro-Iranian regime group is to promote “deradicalization” and “prevent extremism,” according to Bild. Hamburg’s most recent intelligence report from 2016, which monitors threats to Germany’s democracy, includes a reference to the IGS and a number of its members’ organizations, including the Islamic Center of Hamburg. The German government classifies the Shi’ite umbrella group as “influenced by extremism,” it said.
Hamid Reza Torabi, head of the Islamic Academy of Germany – part of the Iranian regime-owned Islamic Center of Hamburg – held up a poster in downtown Berlin during the 2016 al-Quds rally urging the “rejection of Israel” and terming the Jewish state “illegal and criminal.” The Islamic Center buses pro-Hezbollah and pro-Iranian regime members and activists to the annual al-Quds Day rally calling for Israel’s destruction. The rally is also a hotbed of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the Jewish state. Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the President of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told
The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that “this is yet another example demonstrating that European government funding for NGOs is entirely out of control. Every year, the EU and individual state governments throw hundreds of millions annually at fringe NGOs without due diligence.”He added: “In this case, the money appears to be going to a radical Iranian front group – in other cases, the NGOs receiving ‘human rights’ grants are reportedly linked to PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] terrorists. The excuse that governments fund projects and not NGOs themselves are a transparent fiction. Officials who channel money to a radical Iran-linked NGO for ‘deradicalization’ must be held accountable.”
The Bild reported that €19,739 are being processed for a transfer to the Shi’ite umbrella group. The pro-mullah regime organization wants to implement a program titled: “Extreme Engaged! Competence Program for Young Muslims.”The German-Iranian public intellectual Nasrin Amirsedghi told the Post that the “IGS is directly supported by the mullahs. All Shi’ite communities in Germany are dependent on Iran. What is not understandable is that the German authorities sponsor the associations with tax-payer money, which support Islamic extremists and terrorists across the world. How blind can one be in Germany is a puzzle for me.” Amirsedghi has written extensively on Iranian human rights violations and is an expert on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Shi’ite umbrella organization declared on its website that “Jerusalem is forever the capital of Palestine.” The Shi’ite religious extremists also posted an anti-gay marriage article on its association website. The Iranian Ayatollah Reza Ramezani is a member of the umbrella group and serves as the representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Sonja Kock, a spokeswoman for the German Interior Ministry, defended the Merkel administration’s work with the IGS and other Muslim groups in the Shi’ite umbrella organization because the funds are designed to “support a strong Muslim engagement against Islamic extremism.” She told the Post the Germany’s sponsorship of the program means the funded Muslim groups will “play an essential role as civil society actors.”
She said the intelligence agency reports on Islamic groups can be “assessed differently.”Kock added that financial aid to the IGS does not contravene public funding. The IGS a did not immediately respond to queries by press time.

Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jedda Calls On Arabs To Recognize Jewish Connection To Jerusalem
Jerusalem Post/December 17/17/Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jedda, told US-based Alhurra television on Saturday that Trump’s move, which touched off protests across the Muslim world from Tunisia to Indonesia, constitutes a “positive shock” to the peace process. Hakeem added: “We as Arabs must come to an understanding with the other party and know what its demands are, so that we can succeed in peace negotiation efforts, so that negotiations not be futile. We must recognize and realize that Jerusalem is a religious symbol to Jews and sacred to them, as Mecca and Medina is to Muslims.” Hakeem – who in a March article for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy stressed that Israel and Saudi Arabia face a common Nazi-like threat in Iran – said the “Arab mind must liberate itself from the legacy of [former Egyptian President] Gamal Abdul-Nasser and the legacy of both the Sunni and Shi’a sects, which has instilled for political interests the culture of Jew hatred and denial of their historic right in the region.” US President Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announces embassy to relocate . The London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed website reported that Hakeem’s comments touched off an angry response on social media. One user, A. Elmhay, wrote, “The Zionizing Arabs are a greater danger than the Zionists themselves.”Hakeem’s statements came after Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed earlier this month the existence of covert Israeli-Saudi contacts. The Saudi website Elaph, meanwhile, broke a taboo by publishing interviews with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Transportation Minister Israel Katz. Last week, a delegation from close Saudi ally Bahrain, made an unprecedented visit to Jerusalem as guests of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is organizing a trip to the tiny Gulf kingdom by a group of Israeli businessmen for next month.

King Salman Discusses Regional Developments with CIA Chief
Asharq Al Awsat/December 18/17/The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz received at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Monday Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Mike Pompeo, the Saudi Press Agency reported. During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries and discussed the latest developments in the region, SPA said. The audience was attended by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Ambassador to the US, Minister of State, Member of the Council of Ministers, the Chief of the Royal Court Khalid bin Abdulrahman Al-Issa, Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, and President of General Intelligence Khalid bin Ali Al-Humaidan, the news agency added.

Kremlin Praises US-Russia Cooperation on Planned Attack

Asharq Al Awsat/December 18/17/The Kremlin on Monday praised the "exemplary cooperation" between US and Russian security services after the CIA helped thwart a terror attack on a landmark cathedral in Saint Petersburg. "There are certain sporadic contacts between our security services but in this particular instance this (was) rather useful information that helped save many lives," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. "And certainly it cannot but cause satisfaction and gratitude," Peskov added. "These are the standards we should aspire to so that they determine the future course."In a phone call with US President Donald Trump on Sunday, Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin expressed his gratitude for intelligence which allowed Russia's FSB security service to prevent attacks on the Kazan Cathedral, one of the best known symbols of Saint Petersburg, and other places. FSB said last week it had arrested seven ISIS members who had been planning terror attacks in crowded areas of Russia's former Imperial capital. In his phone conversation with Trump, Putin also pledged that Russian security agencies would pass on any information received about terrorist threats to the United States and its citizens. The White House said the foiled attack could have killed "large numbers of people." It stressed that the cooperation "serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together."

ISIS Militants Storm Kabul Spy Agency Center
Asharq Al Awsat/December 18/17Gunmen stormed a partially constructed intelligence agency training facility in Kabul on Monday, officials said, triggering intense fighting with police in the latest ISIS-claimed attack to hit the Afghan capital. "Around 10:10 am, a group of armed attackers entered an under-construction building in (the) NDS training center in (the) Afshar area of Kabul," interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP, referring to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's spy agency. "The fighting is ongoing and we have also launched our operation." Nasrat Rahim, a deputy interior ministry spokesman, said the sound of large and small arms fire could be heard from the fighting. "There are three attackers involved... the clearance operation is ongoing," said the spokesman, adding there was no immediate word on casualties. "Initial reports indicate the gunmen are wearing police uniforms," he said. Roads to the area were closed and dozens of police and intelligence officers were blocking access to the public as ambulances and reinforcements headed towards the site. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. "Two ISIS attackers raid the Afghan intelligence center in Kabul," the terrorist group’s Amaq news agency reported. The Afghan capital has become one of the deadliest places in the war-torn country for civilians in recent months, as the resurgent Taliban and increasingly ISIS both step up their attacks, targeting security installations and mosques. Security in Kabul has been ramped up since May 31 when a massive truck bomb ripped through the city's diplomatic quarter, killing about 150 and wounding around 400 people, mostly civilians. Earlier, an Afghan official said a Taliban attack on Sunday killed a police officer and wounded three others in western Badghis province. According to Gulam Haydar Sarwari, the province's deputy police chief, insurgents targeted a police security post in the remote district of Ab Kamari. The slain officer was the district police commander, Sarwari added.

Tensions in Iran's Parliament Following Corruption Accusations
Asharq Al Awsat/December 18/17/Arguments rose in the Iranian parliament following a statement by Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi on corruption in the government, parliament and judiciary system where he said parliamentarians won as a result of the Guardian Council and "not the votes of the people."Sadeghi was hinting that the council disqualified certain candidates for the elections, which was challenged by conservative MPs. “By disqualifying merited candidates, the Guardian Council has not allowed figures brave enough to fight corruption to have a seat in the parliament,” he said. Sadeghi, a member of reformist Amal bloc, spoke about the most important challenges facing the Iranian regime, mainly corruption, where he underlined the importance of fighting corruption in parliament, the government and the judiciary. This comes less than a week after President Hassan Rouhani submitted the new budget proposal of $104 billion. Parliament has up to 40 days to study and vote on the draft. Rouhani's budget proposal received varied reactions. Details of it were published and they indicated that the president had abandoned his election promises, with the government planning to end an aid program between 30 million and 40 million riyals. “If we really want to combat corruption, we should start right here among ourselves. All ruling bodies of the country, including the legislative, judicial and the executive powers, need an iron will to fight corruption," Sadeghi said, while criticizing lack of transparency.
The MP added that the newly proposed budget bill was ambiguous. Addressing his fellow legislators, he said the parliament was "the essence of the Guardian Council’s virtues" and not that of the nation. Several media outlets reported that Sadeghi's speech on corruption was met with criticism from other lawmakers, who accused him of "insulting" the status of parliament. MP Ali Adyani Rad, responded to Sadeghi by saying: “If the parliament is really the essence of the Guardian Council’s virtues, then, one should ask whether your presence is legitimate. Based on Islamic laws, do you even have the right to vote or make comments?” As for the "tension" during the parliament's session, Iranian agencies reported that it started when Deputy Speaker Ali Motahari switched off the microphone of MP Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, spokesman National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, which prompted Hosseini to shout in opposition of Sadeghi's statements.
“If somebody says MPs are the essence of the Guardian Council’s virtues, it [explicitly] means that the members of the parliament are not elected by the people," Hosseini claimed. After his microphone was switched off, Hosseini rushed to the speaker's podium and demanded time to continue his comments. He was told to sit down and several reformist MPs stepped in, which was followed by an altercation with conservative legislators. Rouhani faces accusations from his moderate and reformist allies, who are accusing him of not fulfilling his campaign promises and migrating towards the fundamentalist camp. Rouhani continues to deliver promises and requesting more time to meeting his pledges on domestic freedoms, improving the economic situation and working on Iran's foreign policy. The announcement of the new budget coincided a week after the 100 days of Rouhani's election for a second term. Activists launched on social network a "Nademoun" campaign expressing remorse for voting for him against his conservative opponents in the last presidential election. A number of political, artistic and sports figures also expressed their remorse for calling voters to participate in the elections.
Former Iranian football star Ali Karimi apologized on his Instagram account for supporting the president because, as he said: "I thought he could help." He added: “If only we could go back #ahmedinejad."
Political activist and reformist Abbas Abdi stated: "Those who say they regret participating in elections do not understand politics."Reformist newspaper Bahar highlighted criticism against Rouhani over the past few days, saying: "Several well-known Iranian figures expressed their remorse [for voting] and retracting their endorsement for Rouhani, which is a reason the president's opponents celebrate."

Iran Reopens Border Posts with Iraqi Kurdistan
Agence France Press/Naharnet/December 18/17/Iran has reopened all its border crossings with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, after their closure over a controversial independence vote. Bahram Ghassemi said the two frontier crossings of Haji Omran and Parwezkhan had been reopened, without giving a specific date, after the Bashmaq frontier post began working again in October. Iran closed the border crossings after Iraqi Kurds on September 25 voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence at a referendum Baghdad insisted was illegal. Iran and Turkey, which have Kurdish communities of their own, were also against the poll. The plebiscite sparked a bitter standoff between the Kurds and Iraq's central government. Federal security forces then seized control of disputed oil-rich zones in the north of the country that had been held by the Kurds, shattering their dreams of building a viable state. Last month, the Iraqi supreme court ruled the poll to be "unconstitutional."Iraqi Kurdish prime minister Nechirvan Barzani earlier this month said he "respected" the ruling and had "no problem" with the federal government over the issue of border control. The federal government has demanded the handover of border posts and airports in the Kurdish region.

Assad and Syria's Kurds Trade Accusations
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 18/17/Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday called U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters "traitors", sparking an exchange of insults with a force that controls more than a quarter of the country. "When we talk about those referred to as 'the Kurds', they are in fact not just Kurds," Assad said. "All those who work for a foreign country, mainly those under American command... are traitors.""This is how we see these groups working for the Americans," he said in remarks released by the presidency on social media. Assad had criticized the semi-autonomous Kurds in the past, but his latest comments were harsher than usual. They prompted an angry response from the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces. "Bashar al-Assad and what's left of his regime are the last people with the right to talk of treachery," it said in a statement. "It was the regime that flung the country's doors wide open to hordes of foreign terrorists from across the world." The SDF also accused the regime of freeing "terrorists" from its prisons so they could "shed the blood of Syrians of all stripes." The Syrian opposition has long accused Damascus of releasing extremists in the early months of a largely peaceful uprising to turn it into an armed conflict that has since killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions. The Kurdish minority accounts for an estimated 15 percent of Syria's population and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which form the backbone of the SDF, control swathes of the country's north and east. Both Damascus, backed by Russia, and the Kurds, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, have fought the Islamic State group in recent months. But their common enemy has now been defeated across much of the country, leaving the SDF and regime forces in an uneasy face-off. Some senior regime officials had in the past made overtures to the Kurds, suggesting some level of autonomy could be eventually be discussed, but Assad's latest comments augur poorly for any future talks.

Protesters Torch Political Party Offices in Iraqi Kurdistan
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 18/17/Protesters Monday torched the offices of the five main political parties and a security services building in Iraqi Kurdistan's Sulaimaniyah province to protest corruption and demand the governor resign, one of the parties said.
The protesters set fire to the offices in the Piramagrun area, 30 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of the provincial capital of Sulaimaniyah, Abdel Razak Sharif, a leader of the Goran opposition party, said. There were no casualties.

Israel Targets Hamas Site in Gaza after Rocket Fire
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 18/17/Israeli aircraft targeted a Hamas facility in the northern Gaza Strip early Monday, hours after two rockets fired from the Palestinian enclave struck southern Israel, the army said. "In response to the rockets launched towards southern Israel, IAF (Israel air force) aircraft targeted a Hamas training compound in the northern Gaza Strip," a statement from the military said. "In the compound three structures and other terror infrastructure were targeted." A Palestinian security source said there were no injuries. On Sunday night, two projectiles fired from Gaza hit southern Israel, one damaging a home in a border town. Another projectile flew short of its target and hit Gaza, the army said. The Sunday attacks ended a three-day lull in the latest wave of rocket fire amid anger over US President Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Militants in the Palestinian enclave have fired both rockets and mortar rounds into Israel since Trump's deeply controversial announcement. Trump's announcement was followed by protests across the Palestinian territories, with six Gazans killed -- four in clashes with Israeli forces along the border and two Hamas militants in an Israeli air strike in retaliation for rocket fire. The rockets are often fired by small Islamist groups but Israel holds Gaza's rulers Hamas responsible for any attacks from the territory.

War against IS in Syria Will Be Won by February, Says Macron
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 18/17/French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday predicted the Islamic State group would be crushed in Syria by February, pushing for the Syrian government and opposition to come together for fresh peace talks early next year. "We have just won the war in Iraq with the coalition," Macron said in an interview with France 2 television. "And I think that by the middle to the end of February, we will have won the war in Syria." Macron described President Bashar al-Assad as "an enemy of the Syrian people", but insisted: "We have to speak to Assad and his representatives."And despite this week's failure of the latest UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva, he wants to see "a process emerge at the start of next year with Assad's representatives, but I hope also representatives of all of the opposition". He underlined that France's top priority as part of the US-led coalition pounding IS is "the extermination" of the jihadist group rather than ousting Assad, which has been the country's official stance since June. And the Syrian president will not be leaving any time soon after the defeat of IS, Macron said. "Bashar al-Assad will be there," he said. "He will be there because he is protected by those who have won the war on the ground, whether it's Iran or Russia."However, at some point, Macron said, Assad "will have to respond to his crimes before his people, before the international courts"."France's plan is to win peace, de-mine the country, to de-militarise it and build a political solution that will allow a durable peace -- which means all minorities being protected, Christians, Shiites and Sunnis," Macron said. As fighting continues in a multi-faceted war that has killed more than 340,000 people since 2011, IS, which once controlled swathes of land, now holds just a few patches of Syrian territory. In Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory on December 9 in the three-year war to expel the jihadist group which at its height held roughly one third of the country.

Shots Fired at U.S. Base in England after 'Car Drives into Gate'
Associated Press/December 18/17/Police arrested a man at a U.S. air base in Britain on Monday after a car drove into a checkpoint gate, prompting American military personnel to open fire, officials said. Suffolk Police in eastern England said the incident at RAF Mildenhall -- home to the U.S. Air Force's 100th air refueling wing -- was "ongoing" but that there was "no wider threat to the public or occupants on the base".  Mildenhall, around 70 miles (110 kilometers) north-east of London, was briefly locked down over the incident before reopening at 2:35 pm (1435 GMT), a spokesman for the base confirmed. Local police said they were called at around 1340 GMT to reports of a "disturbance", adding: "The base was put into lockdown and units responded immediately. "Shots were fired by American service personnel and a man has been detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody. "No other people have been injured as a result of the incident."Suffolk Police said area schools would continue to operate as normal. A government source said the incident was sparked by a car trying to force its way through a checkpoint at the base. A Ministry of Defense spokesman said: "We are aware of an incident at the entry point of RAF Mildenhall."Mildenhall said on its website: "RAF Mildenhall locked down at 1pm (1300 GMT) today following reports of a disturbance on base."The precise nature of the incident remained unclear mid-afternoon Monday. The base was at the center of a foiled terrorism plot in 2015. A British man who plotted an Islamic State-inspired attack on American military personnel based there was jailed for life last year. Junead Khan, who was a committed supporter of the IS group had used his job as a delivery driver for a pharmaceutical firm as cover to scout several U.S. Air Force bases in eastern England between May and July 2015, including Mildenhall.

U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution Rejecting Trump's Jerusalem Decision
Agence France Press/Naharnet/December 18/17/The United States on Monday vetoed a draft U.N. resolution rejecting President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, after all 14 other Security Council members backed the measure. The lone veto cast by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley highlighted Washington's isolation over Trump's announcement that the U.S. embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively ignoring Palestinian claims on the city.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 18-19/17
What Is Really to Blame for Palestinian Violence?
Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/December 18/17
Rather than engage in institution-building, which the United States, Europe and even Israel funded with billions of dollars, PA President Mahmoud Abbas – Arafat's successor – made no effort to reform Palestinian civil society, including the education system.
In fact, textbooks for the 2017-2018 academic year are even more filled with incitement to violence in the name of Allah than in years before.... "Children are expendable."
The crux of this report is that Palestinian education is for war and against peace with Israel. When educators employ blood libels to provide a rationale for terrorism against innocent Israelis -- and the PA leadership backs these up by paying salaries to terrorists and their families -- the only process you are going to get is one of war.
At a rally in Orlando, Florida shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump's historic declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, an activist at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-sponsored event ranted, "[Jews] are the crappiest piece of shit on this planet."
The activist was Said Lufti, uncle of Rasha Mubarak, Orlando Regional Coordinator for CAIR-Florida, and one the protesters in attendance, many of whom were wearing keffiyehs [checkered men's headscarves] and waving Palestinian flags.
Lufti continued: "You [Jews] are baby-killers. You Jesus-killer...You Christians, walking behind Jesus-killers... Jesus's blood [is] on your hands... You crucified Jesus!... Record me! You are Jesus-killers!... Jesus' blood on this piece of crap Jew [the man filming the clip] hands. And [addressing a non-Jew behind the camera] you're walking with him? You are a Christian?... Your people [the Jews] killing everything that walks on this planet..."
Despite US President Donald J. Trump's assurance that his giving presidential approval to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1995, was not tantamount to a delineation of borders, Lufti's comments illustrate that the true enmity towards Israel based on long-standing, deep-seated Jew-hatred. This will not surprise anyone who follows the material being taught in schools, preached in mosques and spread by the media in Muslim-majority states whose regimes exercise total control over their populaces.
Take the Palestinian Authority, for example. Since its inception in 1994 – the result of the Oslo Accords, which earned PLO chief and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize -- it has been feeding its citizens a steady diet of hatred, particularly, but not exclusively, against Israel and Jews. According to the research organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW):
"Using media, education, and cultural structures that it controls, the PA has actively promoted religious hatred, demonization, conspiracy libels, etc. These are packaged to present Israelis and Jews as endangering Palestinians, Arabs, and all humanity. This ongoing campaign has so successfully instilled hatred that fighting, murder and even suicide terror against Israelis and Jews are seen by the majority of Palestinians as justified self-defense and as Allah's will. The PA presents Jews as possessing inherently evil traits. Jews are said to be treacherous, corrupt, deceitful and unfaithful by nature. These Jewish 'attributes' and traditions are presented as the unchangeable nature of Jews. Forgeries and fiction masquerading as history are used to document and support the libel that Judaism is in essence racist and evil. Jews are said to be planning and executing heinous crimes, including burning Palestinians in ovens, murder, using prisoners for Nazi-like experiments, and more. If unchecked, these crimes constitute a mortal danger, not only to all Muslims and Arabs but to all of humanity.
"The PA assigns responsibility to the Jews for all the problems in the world: Wars, conflicts and civil wars are all said to be triggered by Jews. Indeed, the oppression suffered by Jews throughout history is presented as the legitimate response of nations seeking revenge for the injury caused them by the Jews living among them. The creation of the State of Israel is said to have been a European plot, in order to be rid of their Jews and save Europe from the evil of Jewish presence in their countries."
A 2015 PMW report on the indoctrination of children in the PA revealed that dozens of schools, sports events and summer camps have been named after terrorists, who are honored as heroes and held up as role models. The report documents passages in PA schoolbooks teaching that Muslims must fight Israel and Jews, in accordance with Islamic law, and that Israel's existence must be rejected. Children are taught that Israel will eventually be eradicated, and that Jews – "descendants of apes and pigs" -- are cursed by Allah.
Palestinian leaders and spokespeople repeatedly deny allegations of incitement, and tell Western politicians and the media that the accusation is an Israeli fiction. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post in December 2004, for example, Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi claimed, "There's not a single anti-Semitic word in the textbooks."
The constant bombardment of violent messages conveyed to Palestinian children in school and on TV, however, is part of a concerted effort on the part of the PA leadership to rewrite the history of pre-state Israel, for the purpose of forging a national identity that did not exist prior to the 1967 Six-Day War – and to brainwash Palestinians into believing that any and all of their plight is the fault of "occupiers" -- of the entire land of Israel -- whom Europe sent to the region in order to rid itself of its own Jewish burden.
Israel and the rest of the West hoped that the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords and subsequent "peace negotiations" – all involving concrete Israeli concessions in exchange for Palestinian promises – would shift Palestinian attitudes towards Jews and the Jewish state. The aim was for the Palestinians to begin the process of self-governance, on the path to full-fledged independent statehood.
Rather than engage in institution-building, which the United States, Europe and even Israel funded with billions of dollars, PA President Mahmoud Abbas – Arafat's successor – made no effort to reform Palestinian civil society, including the education system. In fact, as a new IMPACT-se study reveals, textbooks for the 2017-2018 academic year are even less tolerant of Jews and Israel, and even more filled with incitement to violence in the name of Allah than in the years before.
As is noted by the authors of the report, which examines books from Grades 5-11 (an expanded study, on Grades 1-12, is underway), this year marked the completion of the first comprehensive reform of the Palestinian curriculum since 2000, when the PA published its first curriculum after the Oslo Accords. Before then, children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem studied the Jordanian curriculum; those in Gaza were taught with Egyptian textbooks.
The preliminary findings of the report – titled "Reform or Radicalization: PA 2017–18 Curriculum -- are extremely bleak: Radicalization is pervasive across this new curriculum, to a greater extent than before.
The curriculum exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence in a more extensive and sophisticated manner. The discourse is couched in terms of nationalist and religious martyrdom, across science, literature, history and religious education textbooks.
One example is a science lesson that teaches about the use of slingshots. Seventh-graders are told: "During the first Palestinian uprising, Palestinian youths used slingshots to confront the soldiers of the Zionist Occupation and defend themselves from their treacherous bullets." The assignment is to answer the questions: "What is the relationship between the elongation of the slingshot's rubber and the tensile strength affecting it? What are the forces that influence the stone after its release from the slingshot?"
This version of the PA curriculum educates for a long war of attrition against Israel which stands out as the axis mundi of Palestinian identity, connecting its various dimensions into one ideology. With a comprehensive and oft-stated justification for defensive (obligatory) jihad, the curriculum's focus appears to have expanded from demonization of Israel to providing a rationale for war.
The crux of this report is education for war and against peace with Israel.
All of the above long preceded Trump's declaration on Jerusalem. Warnings across the world that it would spark violence were only partially accurate. Although the rockets from Gaza, flag-burning in Ramallah, and "Days of Rage" in the Middle East, Europe and North America have been taking place as predicted, they are simply the latest phase in an ongoing attempt to undermine Israel's very existence. Assertions that Trump's move has "sabotaged the peace process," therefore, are completely false. When educators employ blood libels to provide a rationale for terrorism against innocent Israelis – and the PA leadership backs this up by paying salaries to terrorists and their families -- the only process going on is one of war.
The irrational hostility expressed by Palestinians such as Lufti – the activist in Orlando accusing Jews of "killing Jesus" and "everything that walks on the planet" – has nothing to do with a statement made by the president of the United States. Nor is the popular chant at pro-Palestinian rallies -- "From the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, Palestine Will Be Free" – a critique of Israeli governmental policy. Both are imbibed from sermons and schoolbooks.
On December 5, the day before Trump gave his Jerusalem speech, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Taylor Force Act, which: "prohibits certain assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 from being made available for the West Bank and Gaza unless the Department of State certifies that the Palestinian Authority is taking steps to end acts of violence against U.S. and Israeli citizens perpetrated by individuals under its jurisdictional control, such as the March 2016 attack that killed former Army officer Taylor Force; is publicly condemning such acts of violence and is investigating, or cooperating in investigations of, such acts; and has terminated payments for acts of terrorism against U.S. and Israeli citizens to any individual who has been convicted and imprisoned for such acts, to any individual who died committing such acts, and to family members of such an individual."
Disincentivizing Palestinian violence by withholding funds is valuable. However, it does nothing to shift the internal Palestinian mindset that makes outside legislation necessary in the first place. Until the Palestinians make their peace with the existence of the state of Israel, they will forge ahead in their jihadist battle against it, as they are taught to do in school.
**Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Austria: New Government to Resist "Islamization"
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/December 18/17
A coalition between the anti-immigration Austrian People's Party and the anti-establishment Austrian Freedom Party, which will be sworn into office on December 18, is poised to catapult Austria to the vanguard of Western Europe's resistance to mass migration from the Muslim world.
The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible. Austria has also emerged as a major base for radical Islam.
"We have a lot in common [with Israel]. I always say, if one defines the Judeo-Christian West, then Israel represents a kind of border. If Israel fails, Europe fails. And if Europe fails, Israel fails." — Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Austrian Freedom Party.
The anti-immigration Austrian People's Party and the anti-establishment Austrian Freedom Party have reached a deal, creating a new coalition to govern Austria for the next five years. The ground-breaking political alliance, which will be sworn into office on December 18, is poised to catapult Austria to the vanguard of Western Europe's resistance to mass migration from the Muslim world.
Chancellor-elect Sebastian Kurz, 31, who won Austria's national election on October 15 after campaigning on a promise to halt illegal immigration, will govern with Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, the Freedom Party leader, who has warned that mass migration is "Islamizing" Austria. Under the agreement, Strache will become the vice-chancellor; the Freedom Party will also take control of the ministries of defense, interior and foreign affairs.
Austrian Chancellor-elect Sebastian Kurz (pictured), who won Austria's national election after campaigning on a promise to halt illegal immigration, will govern with Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, the Freedom Party leader, who has warned that mass migration is "Islamizing" Austria.
Kurz has been a strong critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door migration policy, which has allowed more than a million mostly male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to enter the country during the past two years.
During his time as foreign minister, Kurz was instrumental in garnering parliamentary approval of a groundbreaking new law that regulates the integration of immigrants. The so-called Integration Law — which bans full-face Muslim veils in public spaces and prohibits Islamic radicals from distributing the Koran — establishes clear rules and responsibilities for recognized asylum seekers and refugees granted legal residence in the country.
The new law requires immigrants from non-EU countries to sign an "integration contract" which obligates them to learn written and spoken German and to enroll in courses about the "basic values of Austria's legal and social order." Immigrants are also required to "acquire knowledge of the democratic order and the basic principles derived from it."
Previously, Kurz was instrumental in reforming Austria's century-old Islam Law (Islamgesetz), governing the status of Muslims in the country. The new law, passed in February 2015, is aimed at integrating Muslims and fighting Islamic radicalism by promoting an "Islam with an Austrian character." It also stresses that Austrian law must take precedence over Islamic Sharia law for Muslims living in the country.
Austria's Muslim population now exceeds 700,000 (or roughly 8% of the total population), up from an estimated 340,000 (or 4.25%) in 2001, and 150,000 (or 2%) in 1990, according to data compiled by the University of Vienna.
The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible. In Vienna, where the Muslim population now exceeds 12.5%, Muslim students already outnumber Catholic students at middle and secondary schools. Muslim students are also on the verge of overtaking Catholics in Viennese elementary schools.
At the same time, Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam. Austria's Agency for State Protection and Counterterrorism (BVT) has warned of the "exploding radicalization of the Salafist scene in Austria." Salafism is an anti-Western ideology that seeks to impose Islamic Sharia law.
"The immigration seen in recent years is changing our country not in a positive but in a negative way," said Kurz, who campaigned on a "law and order" platform: "Uncontrolled immigration destroys the order in a country."
Strache, a supporter of Israel who has distanced his party from the rhetoric of the Austrian far right, insists that anti-Semitism had no place in his party and has urged a common front against Islamists. He has also pledged "to ensure that boycotts [against Israeli products] get taken off the agenda."
During an April 2016 visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, at the invitation of at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, Strache said:
"For us, it's important to act against anti-Semitism, and also against Islamism and terrorism, and to discuss the issues we have in common. Anti-Semitism often emerges anew from Islamism and from the left.
"We have a lot in common [with Israel]. I always say, if one defines the Judeo-Christian West, then Israel represents a kind of border. If Israel fails, Europe fails. And if Europe fails, Israel fails."
Strache has called Merkel "the most dangerous woman in Europe" because of her migration policies, and has repeatedly said that Islam is "not part" of Austria. Strache has also warned that the "uncontrolled influx of migrants who are alien to our culture, who seep into our social welfare system ... makes civil war in the medium-term not unlikely." A Eurosceptic, Strache has called the European Union a "bureaucratic monster" and has said that Britain will "probably be better off after Brexit."
At Strache's insistence, Karin Kneissl, an independent Middle East expert who speaks eight languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, will become Austria's new foreign minister. Kneissl has been a vocal critic of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whom she has described as the "Caesar of Brussels." She has also criticized Merkel's migrant policy as "grossly negligent."
Kneissl has said that most of the "refugees" arriving in Europe are overwhelmingly young males between the ages of 20 and 30 who are "economic migrants controlled by testosterone." In an interview on Austrian television, Kneissl said that one of the main reasons for the revolts in the Arab world was "many young Arab men can no longer find a wife because they have neither work nor their own home, and thus cannot achieve the status of a man in a traditional society."
Freedom Party Chairman Herbert Kickl, a speechwriter for the late party leader Jörg Haider and a close confidant of Strache, will become interior minister, a key position for domestic security and border control, while Mario Kunasek, a professional soldier, will run the defense ministry. Of the 16 future government ministers, only Kurz has Cabinet experience.
A 180-page document explains the new government's agenda between now and 2022. It promises to crack down on political Islam; to crack down on illegal immigration; to speed up asylum decisions and to sponsor an EU summit on immigration when Austria holds the EU presidency in the second half of 2018.
The document also pledges to give Austrians more opportunities to vote in referendums — although it explicitly refuses to allow a referendum on the country's continued membership in the European Union.
In addition, the document promises to: require migrants to learn German; require migrant kindergartners who have insufficient German language skills to repeat kindergarten before progressing to the first grade; increase the legal penalties for sexual crimes; strengthen Austrian defense; hire more police officers; reduce the bureaucracy and not raise taxes.
At the same time, however, the document pledges a strong commitment to the European Union: "Only in a strong Europe can there be a strong Austria in which we are able to take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st century."
Some observers have said that Kurz's professed commitment to the European Union was aimed at calming worries in Europe about the Freedom Party's Euroskeptic and anti-Islamization policy objectives. Others have described Kurz as a pragmatist "who is anti-establishment and establishment at the same time."
Kurz has nevertheless pledged to reject the European Union's compulsory migrant quota. "I will work towards changing this erroneous refugee policy," he said. "Without the proper protection of the external borders of the EU, we will not come to grips with the problem of illegal migration."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Is the UK Overthrowing the Christian Basis of the West?
by Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/December 18/17
As the progressive publication Prospect asked, "if we are no longer a Christian country, what are we?"
Christians in the UK are on course to be in the minority by the middle of the century.
What defines Europe are its boundaries – not physical but cultural. Without its culture, Europe could not be distinguished from the rest of the world. And the pillar of this culture is based on the Judeo-Christian heritage and values.
British Christian publications have been wondering if we are witnessing the "extinction of Christianity in Egypt", where the Christian faithful have suffered persecution and terror attacks at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. Christian leaders also seem to be wondering if Christianity will be "extinct within a generation" in the UK, where religious people enjoy total freedom of worship and faith.
Last year, the Church of England began to formulate a religious revolution. Its canonical laws require that British churches hold their functions every Sunday. The dramatic crisis of Christianity in the UK, however, is pushing the Anglican church to rewrite those rules, in order not to officiate in empty and abandoned churches.
A quarter of the British rural parishes now have fewer than 10 regular members of the faithful on Sunday. There are no more children in 25% of the Church of England's congregations, as new figures have just shown. On average, nine children attended each church service across all Anglican churches in 2016. Generally speaking, churchgoers have dwindled in the UK by 34,000 in just one year.
"Should we care that Britain's lost its religion?", Daniel Finkelstein asked in The Times. Yes. He suggests that nationalism might take its place, but what if, instead, its place is taken by another religion? There is no need to be observant to understand the importance of a country's cultural affiliation. If there were no mass immigration from countries with values antithetical to Western ones, the demise of Christianity would not be as potentially calamitous; society might simply become one of atheists and secularists. Europe now, however, is experiencing a terminal decline for two reasons that are linked: mass unvetted immigration coupled with a shrinking confidence in its own legitimacy and beliefs. There seems to be shame over Western colonialism, yet no thought at all seems to be given to who are the real colonists: The Crusades were a reaction to a Muslim colonization of the Christian Byzantine Empire, North Africa, the Middle East, much of Eastern Europe, Northern Cyprus and Spain.
In Europe, the UK is now leading the same process. Britain is living through "the biggest religious transition since the Reformation of the 16th Century", according to Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University. In 2000, Anglicans were 30% of the population. Half of them have disappeared in just seventeen years. The number of those who belong to the Church of England fell below 15%, including just 3% of English young people ages 18-24. Writing in the Spectator, Damian Thompson wondered if "the Church of England is dying". Churchgoing dropped by 50% also in Scotland. Another report revealed that more than half the British population has no religion at all.
According to internal documents from the Church of England, Christianity is dying in Britain at such a pace that in the next three decades, Anglican congregations will halve again. Christians in the UK are on course to be in the minority by the middle of the century.
What defines Europe are its boundaries – not physical but cultural. Without its culture, Europe could not be distinguished from the rest of the world. And the pillar of this culture is based on the Judeo-Christian heritage and values. The journalist Melanie Phillips stated that the Church of England, by embracing trendy ideological extravagances such as gender ideology, is now culturally "sowing the seeds of its destruction." The goal of all this "inclusivity," according to Phillips, is actually to "overthrow the Christian basis of the West".
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has said that "political correctness" is bullying and undermining Christianity in the UK. "I cannot imagine any politician expressing concern that Britain should remain a Christian country; that reticence is a scandal and a disgrace to our history."
According to a new poll, a total of 41% of British millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, said that the UK has "no specific religious identity". As the progressive publication Prospect asked, "if we are no longer a Christian country, what are we?". Former archbishops of Canterbury have warned that the UK will be soon unrecognizable. Rowan Williams has said that the UK is already "post-Christian".
The existential crisis of the Church of England does not involve only the third Christian congregation in the world, represented by Anglicans. The crisis is also going to tear apart a source of the British landscape, politics and culture. Recently, The Spectator featured "The end of British Christianity" on its cover, where one elderly lady is seen as the only faithful in a cathedral. "It's often said," the magazine continued, "that Britain's church congregations are shrinking, but that doesn't come close to expressing the scale of the disaster now facing Christianity in this country. If that rate of decline continues, the mission of St Augustine to the English, together with that of the Irish saints to the Scots, will come to an end in 2067".
The level of atrophy in the Church of England is so extensive that Anglicanism is expected to collapse "for the next thirty years". There are also rumors that "half of England's Anglican cathedrals could close".
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said recently that in the UK, Christianity has been "nearly defeated". If the Church of England disappears, there will be a totally different UK. The British historian Niall Ferguson has called it "the creeping Islamization of a decadent Christendom".
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Jerusalem: An Opportunity for Islamic Reformation?
Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/December 18/17
Despite the cries that Islam is a religion of peace, Islamic terror threat is everywhere; Muslims still teach hatred of Jews and Christians and they still preach jihad and killing the enemies of Allah. How can any sane person trust that Islam is moderate and is serious about wanting peace when the Muslim world is exploding with terror?
Only Trump could have done that at this moment -- and with the help of brave Muslim leaders, a new milestone towards peace can begin.
It is not a surprise that all Arab leaders, including some of the closest Arab allies of president Trump such as president al-Sisi of Egypt, are publicly against the decision by president Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Arab leaders understand a certain bloody backlash against them if they don't. This is because Islamic law dictates that all land once occupied by Muslims must remain Muslim forever. Under Sharia Muslims have the right to take over land from non-Muslims but the reverse is considered an attack on Islam.
That is where the problem of Jerusalem stems from and it does not matter to Muslims if Jerusalem, or its other name Zion, is mentioned in the Jewish bible 850 times but never mentioned in the Quran not even once. It does not matter if Jerusalem is the holy land of the Jewish people, if it was Israel's capital over 3000 years ago or that Jews pray facing Jerusalem while Muslims pray facing Mecca.
The Western world would do itself and the truth a favor if they, at least for once, stand united to support Israel in its right to Jerusalem as its undivided Capital. In fact, it is time for Muslims to accept that facts about Jerusalem and right historical wrongs. Not too long ago Arabs used to tell Jews when relations did not go well between Muslims and Jews in various areas of the Middle East, to go back to their holy land Jerusalem. Now that Jews have done so, Arabs are trying to rob them again and again of their holy land.
But with the historic announcement by president Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, the Arab world has a great opportunity to prove to the world that Islam is a religion of peace and co-existence as they claim. The moment of truth has come to give a historical opportunity to Muslims to write the wrongs against the Jewish people.
Muslims now have two choices. One is to the respond with the usual terror, boycotts and intifadas. The second is to seize the moment of truth as the best opportunity for growth and reformation in Islam by accepting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But will Arabs take this opportunity? Or will they continue their tradition to keep missing every opportunity to make peace with humanity.
Ever since 9/11, Muslims have been eager to gain worldwide recognition that their religion is worthy of respect as a 'religion of peace'. They have invested tremendous resources and done almost everything they could to reverse the tarnished image of Islam.
To achieve that goal, Muslims have used coercion, denial, threats and deception. They have claimed victimhood, blamed others and used shaming, arm-twisting and name-calling, as in the word "Islamophobe". But despite the apparent Muslim eagerness to change worldviews on Islam, their hard work has not succeeded and that failure has been compounded by the almost daily horrific acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.
What is lacking is a genuine willingness by Muslim society to change, not only by words but also by action. Despite the cries that Islam is a religion of peace, Islamic terror threat is everywhere; Muslims still teach hatred of Jews and Christians and they still preach jihad and killing the enemies of Allah. How can any sane person trust that Islam is moderate and is serious about wanting peace when the Muslim world is exploding with terror?
Right now, the only respect the world has for Islam is the kind that emanates out of fear; not the kind that emanates out of trust. The opportunity for Muslims to prove otherwise is now. Muslims might show the world and themselves that they are starting to operate from a new paradigm: one of sincerity and security in viewing themselves as part of a world community where they must feel secure enough to co-exist with in peace.
If Muslims choose to operate from this new paradigm, they must start by ending the denial of the history of others, especially of Jews.
Arab acceptance of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the only road for genuine peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
Only Trump could have done that at this moment -- and with the help of brave Muslim leaders, a new milestone towards peace can begin.
**Nonie Darwish, born and raised as a Muslim in Egypt, is the author of the book "Wholly Different; Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values".
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Russia and Messages of Power
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/December 18/17
The fate of this man concerns us. He is the leader of an important country. He is also in fact no longer very far away from us. He resides in our region and shuffles the cards and pulls the strings. This man is concerned about his image and that of his country. He believes in the importance of linking these two images together and controlling them with an iron grip. Perhaps this explains why he kicked off his brief Middle East tour from Syria’s Homeimem Russian airbase, not the capital Damascus.
We would not be exaggerating in saying that the whole world is monitoring this man’s career.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the Kremlin fell in his hands. At the time, the Russian federation was on the verge of collapse. The Red Army was reminiscing about its glory days. Several observers predicted that Russia’s role will become limited and it will become strictly concerned with its internal crises. Some Russian counties were even beginning to prepare for the formation of militias in order to reap the spoils of these crises. The corruption barons in Moscow were dreaming of continuing this situation and turning the country’s president into a puppet in their hands.
Everyone however miscalculated.
The Russian operations room succeeded in bringing about a leader to the Kremlin. The operations room orchestrated the vengeance campaign against those who sought to portray Russia as weak. Vladimir Putin adeptly managed to steer this campaign.
There has been no other example of this scenario among the world powers. It is true that the recent Communist Part National Congress Chinese consolidated the power of the Chinese president. It is also true that he had already had an iron grip on the country before the Congress made him even more powerful.
Putin, on the other hand, had to jump from a sinking ship. He announced that he will run in next year’s presidential elections as if he were talking about taking an electoral stroll. He will likely not face any competition because the opposition does not have a convincing platform or a charismatic leader. The elections will therefore become a form of referendum on the policies of the president, who decided to run as an independent candidate as if he were the nation’s father and unifier.
There is something more important and dangerous than all of this. Putin’s experience is a reminder that the world only respects the powerful. It respects them and forgives and forgets their mistakes. It then seeks to dance with them and respect their interests.
In order to be strong on the foreign scene, you must be strong on the internal one. With a mixture of strength and skill, Putin managed to seize control of the military-security institution. He reined in the remnants of the collapsed Soviet Union, from parties, regional governors and the wealthy.
He realized early on the importance of controlling the media and the image he needed to promote. This is how many were convinced that this man could save the country from fragmentation and the army from division. He saved the dignity of Russia and the ordinary Russians.
In return, he obtained the ability to control all aspects of the country, whether in his role as president or prime minister, who was waiting his turn to return to the Kremlin.
This is how the Russian leader acquired what no western leader has managed: The ability to take the decision to intervene militarily in the affairs of another country without fearing parliamentary objection or a damning newspaper headline. He has no problem called the fear of public opinion because the operations room has taken over the sentiment of the majority, the pens of journalists and the minds of analysts. This was demonstrated in Russia’s actions towards Ukraine and became even more evident with Moscow’s military intervention in Syria.
He did what others failed to do. Can we, for example, imagine a French president using his country’s veto power at the Security Council in defending a regime that is accused of using chemical weapons? Can a French president take such a decision without fearing the ire of the French public? Will the media go easy on him? Will the political parties remain silent?
Strength and skill, combined with the ability to benefit the most from the errors of adversaries and their weak policies. He declared war on ISIS, but in reality, he ordered debilitating strikes against the Syrian opposition, which the terror group viewed as its main enemy. He reversed balances of power on the ground and then announced victory against terrorism, ignoring that the international coalition had played a greater role than Russia in defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Addressing others from a position of power. This is what Russia did with Turkey after a Turkish pilot dared to shoot down a Russian jet. Moscow considered the development a blow to Russia and the czar. It responded by reining in Ankara. This is how Russian-Iranian-Turkish summits became a regular scene and more influential than international resolutions in determining Syria’s future. This is how the Sochi meetings started to compete with and obstruct the Geneva talks. This all ended with Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, requesting that it be protected by Russian missiles. It is clear that the czar is relishing infiltrating NATO, which, after the Soviet collapse, had come too close to Russia’s borders.
The Syrian opposition found itself in a difficult situation. Whoever does not take the Moscow road will not be able to reap anything. Moscow does not hide its intentions. Lower your expectations and turn to the Russian solution. The Kurds, who fought ISIS with American weapons, are now being trained on how to take the road leading to the Russian capital.
Major questions remain. Will the powerful Putin be able to obtain from Iran the conditions needed to launch a political solution in Syria? Will Tehran be able to tolerate a serious and effective political solution? Or does it prefer to prolong the conflict if it was difficult to return to the pre-war Syria? Will the powerful Putin be able to persuade Bashar Assad to make necessary concessions to launch a political solution that would convince the West to contribute in reconstructing Syria and returning the refugees? Will the Syrian regime be able to tolerate such a reality?
Russia has managed to restore strong policies as a means to address the world. The policies of reversing equations and imposing alternative ones. Putin’s latest tour to Syria, Egypt and Turkey implies that the policies of strength have paid off. It is remarkable that the czar does not have a strong economy that would be capable of funding long-term wars or reconstructing countries torn apart by them. Partners are needed, which consequently puts limits on the policies of strength.

Giant Companies and Harming Democracy

Shira Ovide/Bloomberg View/December 18/17
All the main players face questions about whether they harm democracy, people's health, fair competition, economic equality and privacy. This has been front-page news throughout this year and a hot topic in business circles and among politicians on the left and right.
It makes sense, then, that tech companies are concerned. And that's showing up in varying degrees with charm offensives and less public attempts at molding the perception of their impact on the world.
The most visible effort to combat tech backlash is Mark Zuckerberg's highly public tour of America, which featured Facebook's billionaire chief executive attending an African-American church in South Carolina, chatting with recovering drug addicts in Ohio and sitting on a tractor at a farm in Wisconsin. Zuckerberg also wrote a long manifesto about his mission to make Facebook foster stronger communities in real life. And his family's money is also funding an ambitious philanthropic organization.
I don't want to imply that Zuckerberg isn't earnest about trying to make Facebook, or his wealth, forces for good. But his quasi-presidential tour was also useful to tilt the narrative away from the escalating political and social crises faced this year by big technology companies, including his.
And he's not the only tech titan trying to shape his company's image for the better. Apple CEO Tim Cook is no stranger to scandals about how Apple suppliers mistreat workers or the environmental harm of smartphones. This year, he has continued to speak out about those subjects while criticizing misinformation campaigns online and pledging to protect customers' digital information.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos used to mostly tweet about his cool personal space initiatives. Now his Twitter account is threaded with anecdotes about good works. He has solicited suggestions on his philanthropy, highlighted news that Amazon planes were transporting supplies to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and retweeted an article about a 7-year-old who used Amazon's gift registry to create a food pantry.
The company has also been busy behind the scenes countering news articles that suggest it is harming other retailers, weighing down local economies or squashing competition.There's less direct evidence of Google's perception campaigns, but news organizations this year have reported on ways that its parent company, Alphabet Inc., has sought to shape opinions by swaying research on its influence and backing legal scholars who support the way the search giant uses its market power.
Big tech companies' feel-good campaigns are also accompanied by hard-headed lobbying in pursuit of their interests. Google has for some time been one of the savviest power brokers in Washington, although its influence may be waning. The other big US technology companies are quickly learning to navigate the Beltway. Google and Amazon are among the biggest corporate spenders on federal lobbying this year, and Facebook isn't far behind, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Washington is now rethinking its relatively light-touch regulation of internet companies, and the tech companies have been working behind the scenes to counteract or reshape proposed legislation that would require more disclosure of political ads on their websites and potentially expose them to legal liability for users' digital activity. There is a sometimes awkward contrast between the tech giants' warm-and-fuzzy image-shaping efforts and their sharp-elbowed maneuvering in pursuit of political and regulatory goals.
It's understandable for big tech to find multiple approaches to tackle the backlash against their size, wealth and influence. Being forced to account for their rising power was the biggest industry theme of 2017, and the reckoning will continue. So these companies can't stop at talk and mythmaking. They also must persuade, with actions, that they're doing more good than harm.

Question: "Should Jerusalem be the capital of modern-day Israel?" 18/17
Answer: Jerusalem figures prominently in both biblical history and biblical prophecy, and it is currently the focus of much controversy and political wrangling. As of December 6, 2017, the United States has recognized Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, acknowledging the facts of history but rankling the Muslim world. All politics aside, the declaration that Jerusalem is the legitimate capital of Israel is biblically and historically accurate.
King David first chose Jerusalem as Israel’s capital 1,000 years before Christ. The city was destroyed in AD 70, but, after World War II, on May 14, 1948, Israel once again became an independent state. The U.S. quickly recognized Israel’s restored status as a national homeland for the Jewish people. Then on December 5, 1949, Israel declared Jerusalem to be its capital again. Unfortunately, other nations have been slow in facing the reality of Israel’s independence and its right to choose its own capital.
In 1995, the United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which required the U.S. embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, for twenty-two years, implementation of that law was delayed on the grounds of “national security.” Now, finally, the U.S. has officially recognized the obvious—Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This recognition accords with thousands of years of history and the wishes of Israel itself.
Of course, some are opposed to recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular (and Muslim terrorist organizations) are offended by the thought of Jerusalem being made the legitimate capital of Israel. This is due in large part to the place the Temple Mount holds as the third holiest Islamic site. According to the Qur’an (Surah 17:1), Muhammad made a miraculous night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem in AD 621. There he led worship at “the farthest mosque,” was lifted to heaven, and returned to earth to carry on his teachings. The Dome of the Rock, built in AD 692, marks the place where Muhammad supposedly ascended to heaven. Today the Temple Mount is under the control of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a trust established in 1187 to manage the Islamic structures in Jerusalem. Under their current rules, access to the holy sites is prohibited to all non-Muslims.
It is important to realize a couple things: first, the Israeli government recognizes the rights of Muslims to worship on the Temple Mount, and it works to protect them there. Second, the Qur'an upholds the rights of the Jews to the Promised Land, which includes Jerusalem: “And thereafter Allah said to the children of Israel, ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land’” (Sura 17:104; see also Sura 2:122; Sura 45:17; and Sura 57:26).
Normally, every country designates its own capital, and then nations with diplomatic relations with that country build an embassy in that city. For instance, when Brazil moved its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia in 1961, all the foreign embassies moved as well. The only country in the world whose capital has not been honored this way is Israel. All of Israel’s government buildings, as well as the residences of the President and Prime Minister, are there. Yet not a single foreign embassy is in Jerusalem. We believe that Israel should be afforded the same right as every other country to choose its own capital.
The rebirth of Israel in 1948 was a vital step in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. The dry bones began coming back together (Ezekiel 37). The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s true and historic capital is another giant step. The stage is being set for the rest of prophetic scriptures to be fulfilled. We may not know all the implications of current events on the prophetic timeline, but one thing we can say for sure is that Jerusalem is a special city. It is the only city in the world where God has put His Name: “In Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever” (2 Kings 21:7).
**Recommended Resource: The Case for Zionism: Why Christians Should Support Israel by Thomas Ice

What if we eliminate Saudi Arabia, UAE from the map?
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/December 18/17
One method to evaluate the influence of a specific country is to delete it from the map and imagine the world without it. I will now eliminate two states, Saudi Arabia and the UAE which have a strong alliance and which play different roles on several fronts. The first front is confronting extremism. If Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not exist, extremist powers will completely dominate the area as there are no regional powers that are capable of combating them or eliminating their project. It’s also certain that armed terrorist organizations will be more powerful compared with their current torn state. Universities will inevitably be controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and their affiliates. Dominating the educational field is actually their top priority. The media will be in such a hysterical state, like what happened during the era of former Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi when extremists managed television channels and newspapers and presented shows. In brief, the scene will be bleak andthe future will be dark with no hope in the horizon.
Combating extremism
So why do we say so?
It’s because both, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have combated extremism as an ideology and terrorism in its form as armed groups. Saudi Arabia has fiercely confronted terror groups until it crushed them. It’s been also confronting extremist rhetoric and those who promote it. Let’s recall Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s words about combating extremist thoughts now and immediately. Extremism did in fact decrease in Saudi Arabia. Those who mobilize people and incite them, and specifically those who used their Twitter accounts to sow divisions, were deterred. Saudi Arabia has for months now lived in an unprecedented state of tolerance and optimism.
The same applies to the UAE which does not allow any extremist rhetoric flourish. The Emirati soil is thus infertile if anyone wants to plant extremist ideas. The country simply does not welcome preachers of hate and strife. What characterizes the Saudi-Emirati alliance in the war against extremism is that it’s real, particularly that they’re both combatting extremism internally first. It’s well-known that many countries exploit war on terrorism to embellish their image and market themselves when in fact they are sealing secret deals and agreements with armed and extremist groups either to be spared of their evils or to work with them towards achieving mutual interests.
In a world where Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not exist, Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood will dominate. Therefore, we completely understand extremists’ organized and insulting campaigns against Saudi Arabia and the UAE and their attempts to destabilize their alliance by spreading rumors that there are disputes. This alliance has simply destroyed their lost paradise. Meanwhile, these extremists praise Qatar because it adopts their dangerous project. Dangerous details of this project were further exposed after the boycott decision by the anti-terror quartet. Retired terrorists and retired and emerging preachers all rose to defend Doha which has been funding them and housing them for years.
If Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not exist, extremist powers will completely dominate the area as there are no regional powers that are capable of combating them or eliminating their project.
Significance of Saudi-Emirati power
Fortunately, the Saudi-Emirati power, which is engaged in a noble war on behalf of everyone against extremist organizations, possesses financial and military capabilities as well strong political will. If you take a look at the map, you will find weak and exhausted states that are incapable of confronting anyone, states that have adopted a defensive position, states that are small and with zero capabilities and others that fund terrorism. There is no exaggeration here when I say “on behalf of everyone.” There are no borders to terrorism and if strong parties cannot confront it, it will easily swallow weak countries and create chaos in faraway countries like Europe and America.
Let’s go back 80 years so the comparison is clearer. Imagine the world without Britain and America during World War II. It would have been easier on Nazism to expand and fully control Europe. However, the American-British alliance buried Nazism as a regime and as an ideology during that immortal historical phase.
The Saudi-Emirati alliance is also cooperating on another significant front which is fighting Iranian interferences that do not only threaten the region but the entire world. The burden has increased following the US troops’ withdrawal during President Barack Obama’s term. It’s easy to imagine how influential Iran will be in a world that does not have Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The power of Saudi-Emirati deterrence is the only power capable of curbing Iranian greed. Without these two countries, borders will be of no value and leaders of Iranian Shiite militias will violate them, just like Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, did at the Lebanese borders.
It’s important to remind that the Saudi-Emirati alliance protects the international order which insists on maintaining stability and which was actually based on the 1648 Peace of Westphalia that was approved following the Thirty Years’ War. The Peace of Westphalia prohibits invading other countries and interfering in their affairs. The aim is to avoid wars and bloodshed, create peace and prosperity and enhance the economy. This is how the world developed, wars decreased and the modern world, as we know it today, flourished. Iran and Shiite and Sunni terrorist militias want to destroy this order in the Middle East so the region will resemble Afghanistan or Somalia where the state is absent or failed and the logic of gangs reigns. The Saudi-Emirati alliance is the only one capable of preventing this scenario from happening and without them we will live in such a completely different and bleak world. Most people think that enjoying their freedom to travel, trade and enjoy life is an inevitable result but there are actually kind political powers that created this reality and continuously protects it. Without these powers, this reality will quickly collapse and we will go backwards.
The third front is economy or the way of life in general. The Saudi-Emirati alliance adopts a project towards a better future and a modern way of living where the culture of tolerance and moderation reigns and life in terms of entertainment, education and work is better. Life in Saudi Arabia has changed during a short period of time as it’s witnessing massive developmental projects. The UAE has become the best destination for ambitious Arabs and for foreigners who desire to live in a civilized healthy environment where there are the best schools, businesses, streets and markets. This project is the only means towards modernization and towards catching up with the developed world. Without Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there will only be the projects of death presented by al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.