August 06/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father
John 15/15-17: "I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 05-06/18
EU report details international web of Hezbollah terror funding/Benjamin Weinthal/Jerusalem Post/August 05/18
Talented Lebanese must be given chance to help nation/Mohammed Nosseir/Arab News/August 05/18
Netanyahu's Solution for Mass Druze Outrage Over Nation-state Law: A CommitteeNoa Landau/Haaretz/August 05/18
Ex-PM bureau chief: If Druze don't like Nationality Law, they can go to Syria/Itamar Eichner/Ynetnews/August 05/18/
Iranian regime playing a dangerous game with Trump administration/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 05/18
Oil Is Fine With Wars, Just Not Trade Wars/Liam Denning/Bloomberg/August 05/18
Behind the Scenes: How Netanyahu's 'Apartheid' Trap Torpedoed Talks With Druze Leaders/
Noa Landau and Noa Shpigel /Haaretz/August 05/18
Britain Welcomes Radicals - Again and Again/Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/August 05/18
Hijab Chronicles/Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/August 05/18
"Be Cursed Forever": Extremist Persecution of Christians, January 2018/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/August 05/18
Rouhani’s chance to save the nuclear deal/Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/August 05/18
Saudi Arabia’s foreign files: No to toppling Iran’s Islamism/Fares bin Hezam/Al Arabiya/August 05/18
The truth on the Jewish Nation-state law controversy/Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/August 05/18
August 6: The End of the War of Words/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 05/18
Analysis/Nation-state Law Protest Is About Israel's Identity – Not Equality/Carolina Landsmann/Haaretyz/August 05/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published 
on August 05-06/18
EU report details international web of Hezbollah terror funding
Locals Assault UN Peacekeeping Patrol in Southern Lebanon
HRW Raises Controversy over Trial of 8 Lebanese ISIS Militants
Rahi: Parties Have No Right to Further Obstruct Govt. Formation
LF MP Says ‘Unfair’ to Blame Party for Govt. Delay
Report: Hariri’s Adviser Reveals ‘Active’ Steps for Refugees’ Return
Bassil: Can’t Promise You the Future Without a Balanced Govt.
Canadian Ambassador commends Lebanese hospitality in hosting Syrian refugees
Geagea hails Mountain Reconciliation
Abi Khalil Outlines Importance of Neutrality in Lebanon
Abu Nader Addresses Officials in Stern Message
Hankache Deplores Unprecedented, Low-Level Political Bickering
Talented Lebanese must be given chance to help nation
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 05-06/18
Syria: ISIS Executes Hostage from Sweida Attack
IS Kills Hostage from Syria's Sweida
Netanyahu's Solution for Mass Druze Outrage Over Nation-state Law: A Committee
Israeli Druze Hold Mass Rally to Protest Jewish Nation Law
Ex-PM bureau chief: If Druze don't like Nationality Law, they can go to Syria
Two Hurt as Israel Hits Gaza Targets over 'Arson Balloons'
Despite Tensions, Russia Seeks US Help to Rebuild Syria
Head of Syrian Regime Research Center Killed in Car Bombing
Rival Shiite Blocs Compete to Make Gains in Forming Iraqi Government
Iran Holds Ex-Central Bank Deputy, Judiciary Says
Iran 'Guards' Confirms that it Held Gulf Drills
US Warns EU from Ignoring Iran’s Sanctions, 50 Responsive Companies
Egypt: 52 Militants Killed in Sinai Operation
Criticisms Against US Plan to Dissolve UNRWA, Merge it into UNHCR
Exclusive - YPG Ready to Take Part in Operations to Expel ISIS from Syria’s Sweida
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 05-06/18
EU report details international web of Hezbollah terror funding
تقرير أوروبي يكشف تفاصيل عن شبكات تمويل أرهاب حزب الله
Benjamin Weinthal/Jerusalem Post/August 05/18
The EU only designated Hezbollah’s so-called military wing a terrorist entity in 2013.
A newly released European Union report on terrorism states that Lebanese nationals worked with organized crime organizations to finance Hezbollah’s terrorist activities.
The European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2018 wrote, “In 2017, member states carried out several investigations into financing of terrorism. One major investigation focused on a large network of Lebanese nationals offering money laundering services to organized crime groups in the EU and using a share of the profits to finance terrorism-related activities of the Lebanese Hezbollah’s military wing.”The report added, “The cooperation of these money-launderers and Hezbollah’s military wing was a clear example of a nexus between organized crime and terrorism.”
The Jerusalem Post reviewed the 70-page EU report and found it did not provide any more specifics on Hezbollah’s activities in Europe. Hezbollah has played a key role in aiding Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war that has resulted in the deaths of more than 500,000 people. The EU only designated Hezbollah’s so-called military wing a terrorist entity in 2013. US President Donald Trump, former US president Barack Obama and ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton have urged the EU to proscribe all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
The Iranian regime is the chief financial sponsor of Hezbollah, with an annual $700 million supplied by Tehran to the Lebanese Shi’ite group, according to the US government. The Post reported in June that Al-Mustafa Community Center in the northern German city-state of Bremen is a major hub for raising funds for Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to a German intelligence report published by the Bremen intelligence agency. The agency’s newly released report in June stated, “The Al-Mustafa Community Center supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, especially by collecting donations.”The Post uncovered the Shi’ite organization’s bank account – the Bremen-based Sparkasse. The Bremen intelligence agency, the rough equivalent to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), said there are approximately 60 Hezbollah supporters in Al-Mustafa’s organization and “the Arab- Shi’ite association functions as a point of contact for Shi’ite Muslims in Bremen, especially those from Lebanon.”Some 950 Hezbollah operatives are in Germany, according to numerous German intelligence reports. The Hezbollah members raise funds and recruit new members. The United States, Canada, the Arab League, the Netherlands and Israel classify Hezbollah a terrorist organization. In 2012, Hezbollah operatives blew up an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria, murdering five Israelis and their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver.
Locals Assault UN Peacekeeping Patrol in Southern Lebanon
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018/Lebanese youth assaulted on Saturday a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon(UNIFIL) patrol in southern region that is under the “Hezbollah” party’s control. Such assaults are not unusual in the area as the armed party’s supporters believe that the peacekeeping force must restrict its patrols on main roads and avoid deploying them in alleys or unpaved roads. This is seen as their own personal interpretation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 that was issued in 2006 in wake of that year’s 33-day war between “Hezbollah” and Israel. UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said in a statement that a number of Lebanese civilians impeded the patrol near the town of Majdal Zun. The National News Agency reported that they pelted the patrol with stones, claiming that it was taking photographs of residential neighborhoods. “On August 4 at about 8 a.m., a UNIFIL patrol was blocked by a group of civilians. There were no injuries to UN peacekeepers, but there was damage to UNIFIL vehicles and equipment,” Tenenti added. “An investigation has been launched by UNIFIL and the Lebanese army to uncover the circumstances of the incident."Resolution 1701 stipulates that any armed presence in southern Lebanon should be limited to the Lebanese army. It tasked UNIFIL with overseeing the implementation of the resolution.

HRW Raises Controversy over Trial of 8 Lebanese ISIS Militants

Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018/Human Rights Watch called on Washington Saturday to ensure no foreign ISIS suspects, held by local allies in Syria, are transferred to Lebanon where they are at risk of torture or unfair trials.Local newspapers reported that the US had handed over eight Lebanese detainees from northern Syria to Lebanese Military Intelligence. Justice Minister Salim Jreissati was quick on Saturday to say that the eight suspected ISIS members handed over to Lebanon recently are being questioned under the supervision of judicial authorities and they will stand trial in their home country. “Their trial in Lebanon is a guarantee for them,” the minister said. Lebanon’s military confirmed on August 1 that the Army Intelligence was holding the eight men, who had been referred to judicial authorities. “The US should create a transparent process with strong safeguards to ensure that no ISIS suspect is transferred to a country where they are at risk of torture or an unfair trial,” said Nadim Houry, terrorism and counterterrorism director at HRW. “Transferring detainees in total secrecy without basic legal protections is a recipe for abuse,” he added. HRW said the US has assisted the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria to detain hundreds of foreign ISIS suspects. Also, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that no country has sought to take back its nationals and the US, concerned by instability in northern Syria, has begun returning suspected fighters to their country of origin.
The Journal quoted a senior US Defense Department official saying about two dozen men had been returned while “another 100 or so are in the process of being sent back to their countries.”Houry said, “The US transfers of ISIS suspects to Lebanon became known because of the country’s vibrant press.”He added, “Dealing with these cases and ISIS atrocities presents no easy solution, but without a transparent process that permits suspects to raise torture concerns and clarity about US detention policy in northern Syrian, there is a risk that new crimes will just be piled on top of past ones.

Rahi: Parties Have No Right to Further Obstruct Govt. Formation
Naharnet/August 05/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi stressed on Sunday that political parties “have no right” to further obstruct the formation of the country’s government after over two months since the designation of the prime minister. “Political parties, no matter what they are, have no right to keep obstructing the Cabinet formation after two and a half month since the designation,” said Rahi during the Sunday sermon. He prayed for Lebanon’s “political stability” through lining up an “efficient and impartial” government that would remain “loyal to Lebanon, its people, entity and institutions.”On the Russian initiative to return Syrian refugees back to their homeland, the Patriarch urged Lebanese officials to “keep up with the initiative with a unified national vision in coordination with the United Nations.”The “initiative must not be politicized,” he stressed “it must be kept within its humanitarian framework in accordance with the norms of international law.”Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. The main obstacle hindering his mission is political wrangling over Christian and Druze representation.

LF MP Says ‘Unfair’ to Blame Party for Govt. Delay

Naharnet/August 05/18/MP Wehbe Katicha of the Strong Republic (of the Lebanese Forces) parliamentary bloc said it is “unfair” to blame the LF for the Cabinet formation delay, stressing the party’s right to get a so-called sovereign portfolio being the “second largest Christian bloc in the parliament.” “Blaming the LF for the delayed formation is unfair. The party has the right to allocate a sovereign portfolio being the second largest Christian bloc in the parliament,” said Katicha in an interview to VDL (93.3). “The LF could accept allocation of four key ministries, but some parties must give up their arrogance and facilitate the formation process,” he added. The four so-called sovereign ministerial portfolios are foreign affairs, defense, finance and interior. The stalemate hampering the formation is “internal” said the MP. He wondered why a meeting between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri (al-Mustaqbal Movement chief) and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil (Free Patriotic Movement chief) “has not taken place so far.”The LF demand the allocation of four portfolios including a sovereign one. Meanwhile, the FPM reportedly rejects the demand.Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. The main obstacle hindering his mission is political wrangling over Christian and Druze representation.

Report: Hariri’s Adviser Reveals ‘Active’ Steps for Refugees’ Return
Naharnet/August 05/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s adviser on Russian affairs, Georges Chaaban, revealed some “practical steps” to establish frameworks for the return of displaced Syrians from Lebanon, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat reported on Sunday. In remarks he made to the newspaper, Chaaban said: “There will be practical steps next week by Lebanese officials who will work with Russian officials to lay the groundwork for the return of the displaced. "The return will be agreed upon with the international community, the Americans and the Russians,” added Chaaban. On Saturday, Russia confirmed it sent a letter to the United States last month with a proposal to cooperate on rebuilding Syria and repatriating refugees after it was reported in the media. Addressing the U.N. Security Council last week, Russia urged world powers to help Syria's economic recovery and the return of refugees.
In July, Moscow also presented the U.S. with proposals for the return of refugees from Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt that would involve international financial support.
Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million refugees, compared with a local population of 4.5 million.

Bassil: Can’t Promise You the Future Without a Balanced Govt.
Naharnet/August 05/18/Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil stressed on Sunday saying “we can’t promise you the future we want if we can’t get a balanced government.”
“You have to understand our adamant positions regarding the government. We can’t promise you the future if we don't get the balanced government we want,” said Bassil in remarks he made marking the August 7 anniversary. “Everyone must understand that we won’t waiver your rights. What we succeeded at obtaining through a balanced government shall not be waived today,” he added. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. The main obstacle hindering his mission is political wrangling over Christian (the FPM and Lebanese Forces) and Druze representation. In the events of August 7, 2001, activists were attacked, beaten and arrested by intelligence services at a time when Lebanon was still under Syrian hegemony.

Canadian Ambassador commends Lebanese hospitality in hosting Syrian refugees

Sun 05 Aug 2018/NNA - The Lebanese Association for Studies and Training organized a ceremony honoring the women who completed the project entitled, "Food security and income increase in Baalbeck-Hermel through livestock breeding", in presence of Canadian Ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuelle Lamoureux. Taking the word, Lamoureux highly commended the Lebanese hospitality, government and people, in hosting the displaced Syrians, saying "I greatly appreciate Lebanon and the Lebanese for hosting so many Syrian refugees." Finally, Lamoureux said that "the Canadian government is interested in funding projects in the region that focus on social integration and of women's development."

Geagea hails Mountain Reconciliation

Sat 04 Aug 2018/NNA - "The Mountain Reconciliation is deeper than any pointless statements. Greetings to the Druze and Christians residing in the Mountain, to the martyrs, and to Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir," Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, said via Twitter on Saturday.

Abi Khalil Outlines Importance of Neutrality in Lebanon 05th August 2018/Kataeb's Deputy-President Joseph Abi Khalil deemed neutrality as key to Lebanon's welfare, adding that the country needs a credible and transparent figure like party leader Samy Gemayel. "What we can learn from the civil war is that only neutrality can rescue Lebanon. Neutrality is not an easy thing to adopt for those who receive funds from foreign powers," Abi Khalil told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. "Lebanon is a big and hard project that is worth struggling for," he concluded.

Abu Nader Addresses Officials in Stern Message 05th August 2018/Kataeb leader's top adviser, Fouad Abu Nader, on Sunday urged officials to opt for transparency amid the critical phase that the country is going through, demanding that they provide clarifications and in-depth explanations of the key economic and developmental projects that they are handling. "To the lawmakers and ministers who we elected: The current critical phase requires more transparency, clarifications and explanations on delicate and vital developmental and economic matters like the housing loans, waste crisis, maritime properties, EDL part-time workers, Customs and taxes," Abu Nader wrote on Twitter. "How is Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil allowed to prevent a power-generating barge from entering a state-run port? Those who now want to build power plants had 25 years to do so," he added.

Hankache Deplores Unprecedented, Low-Level Political Bickering 05th August 2018/MP Elias Hankache on Sunday said political bickering over government shares has never reached a low level as it is today, adding that the Kataeb party has decided to rise above this disgraceful tug-of-war. Speaking to Voice of Lebanon radio station, Hankache said that Lebanon is witnessing an unprecedented degradation level, at a time when the country is facing social and economic hardships. "The Kataeb party did not import additional lawmakers in order to be part in the ruling authority and get a ministerial seat. It is just seeking the interest of the country and its people," he stressed.

Talented Lebanese must be given chance to help nation
Mohammed Nosseir/Arab News/August 05/18
At a meeting I attended with a number of international directors who work for a leading global business enterprise, we realized that the corporation deals with large numbers of business partners of Lebanese descent who now live in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Lebanese immigrants are widespread across all continents and a significant number of them have had very successful careers heading large corporations — and even as heads of state.
Many international enterprises and foreign nations have offered Lebanese citizens real opportunities for success and prosperity that they have managed to make the most of — opportunities that their loving homeland declines to offer. Nevertheless, Lebanon still possesses many talented citizens who prefer to stay home and make the best of the situation. Lebanon has gone through an intense civil war and has been militarily abused by neighboring nations. As a result, some four-and-a-half million Lebanese live in their country and roughly 14 million are living abroad.
Lebanon’s dilemma lies in its inability to exploit the talents, both within its borders and abroad, to build the country. Lebanon possesses all the necessary ingredients to be a developed nation; its citizens are quite proficient, it has considerable natural resources and a large portion of the population is quite wealthy. The nation could easily attract substantial foreign investments to better develop its tourism industry and thus receive more tourists.
Integrating these factors would certainly transform the nation. However, the country lacks both the political will and the leadership to accomplish this mission. Lebanese politicians are quite open to listening to advice proffered by international economic institutes that could help move their country forward, but achieving consensus among these politicians on any given economic scheme is beyond a “mission impossible.” Thus, numerous ideas land in and leave the nation, without being subjected to any kind of serious consideration.
All Lebanese citizens agree that a number of foreign nations are influencing the forming of their government
Lebanon’s current rhetoric regards the setting up of a new Cabinet, in which each political force is demanding a given number of ministerial seats (the combination of their demands far exceeds the existing number of ministerial positions). Observing the Lebanese media during a recent visit to Beirut made me feel that Lebanon, along with its citizens, should be grateful to its political forces for establishing a government — an approach to political accountability that is the reverse of that in many democratic nations.
Meanwhile, all Lebanese citizens agree that a number of foreign nations are influencing the forming of their government. Regardless of the factual weight of this belief, foreign nations certainly don’t micro-govern Lebanese politics; the responsibility for investment expansion and attracting tourists falls to the coalition government that will hopefully soon be formed. Nonetheless, apart from the disputable foreign factor, Lebanese citizens, who tend to be individualistically driven, may be the real obstacle to the solution of their challenges.
Apparently, all Lebanese citizens, regardless of their political ideology or ethnicity, admire assassinated Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who exerted genuine efforts to reconstruct the country and managed to move the nation forward based on a clear political stance and consensuses among all political parties — a proposition that Lebanon presently lacks. Hariri’s footprints are easily identifiable in numerous Beirut venues.
Airports often provide me with the final impression on how nations are governed. After standing for over an hour in the passport control queue (which could have easily been avoided by appointing additional passport control officers), I was astonished to find that the VIP lounge at Beirut airport was unnecessarily roomy, with plenty of unused space. To me, this signaled that the government is not eager to ease tourists’ experience by reducing queueing times, but is keen to offer an extra comfortable lounge to elite travelers.
Lebanon needs to move from its current static politics toward a more dynamic model. The most urgent political step is to establish a functioning government in which competence — not adherence to the current political obligation toward various political forces — is the driving force. This can easily be done while completely complying with the Taif Agreement.
Lebanon is in desperate need of a “new Rafik Hariri.” Many Lebanese citizens certainly possess the necessary characteristics, but the current political structure denies them the opportunity. Until this hindrance is overcome, the country might be living with the same challenges for years to come.
Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on August 05-06/18
Syria: ISIS Executes Hostage from Sweida Attack
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018/ISIS has executed one of a number of hostages taken from Syria's Sweida, home to a large community of Druze, in an attack last week, local media and a war monitor said on Sunday. ISIS killed the 19-year-old male student on Thursday after kidnapping more than 30 people, mostly women and children, from a village in Sweida during a deadly rampage last week, the head of the Sweida24 news website Nour Radwan told AFP. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Britain-based war monitor, said it was the first execution since the kidnappings. Dozens of people were killed on July 25 in coordinated assaults by ISIS militants who overran villages and staged multiple suicide attacks inside Sweida city, killing more than 200 people, many of them civilians, Reuters reported.
SOHR said more than 30 people had been kidnapped during the attack. There have been negotiations between Druze authorities and ISIS for the hostages' release.

IS Kills Hostage from Syria's Sweida
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 05/18/The Islamic State jihadist group has executed one of dozens of Druze hostages abducted from Syria's southern province of Sweida last month, a Syrian news website and a monitor said Sunday. IS killed the 19-year-old male student on Thursday after kidnapping more than 30 people, mostly women and children, from a village in Sweida during a deadly rampage last week, the head of the Sweida24 news website Nour Radwan told AFP. Quoting relatives, Radwan said the young man was taken from the village of Al-Shabki on July 25 along with his mother. His family received two videos, the first showing him being decapitated and the second of him speaking before being killed as well as images of his body after his death, Radwan said. Sweida24 posted online part of a second video, which was seen by AFP, showing a young man who appeared to be sitting on the ground in a rocky landscape. His is wearing a black T-shirt and his hands are tied behind his back. The video could not be independently verified. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said it was the first execution since the kidnappings. On July 25, IS carried out a series of attacks in Sweida's provincial capital and several villages that killed more than 250 people, mostly civilians. It was the deadliest attack ever to target the mostly government-held province and the secretive Druze religious minority that populates it. During the attack the jihadists abducted 36 Druze women and children from a village in Sweida's east, the Observatory said at the time. Four women had since escaped while two had died, leaving 14 women and 16 children in IS captivity, according to the Observatory. At the time, another 17 men were unaccounted for but it was unclear if they were also kidnapped. On Friday, a top Druze religious leader said regime ally Russia was in talks with the jihadists over their release. Sweida had until last week largely remained isolated from Syria's seven-year conflict. Druze, which made up three percent of Syria's population before 2011, are considered Muslim but IS see them as heretics.

Netanyahu's Solution for Mass Druze Outrage Over Nation-state Law: A Committee
Noa Landau/Haaretz/August 05/18
Netanyahu defends the controversial legislation, saying individual rights are anchored in many laws, 'but without a nation-state law it is impossible to fortify Israel's status as a Jewish state'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Sunday the heated tensions surrounding the nation-state law, as well as the ire of the Israeli Druze community, saying he will form a special ministerial committee to resolve the matter. "The deep bond between the Druze community and our commitment to it are also essential; therefore, today we will establish a special ministerial committee to advance this bond and this commitment and at the same time will appreciate those of all religions and all ethnic communities who serve in the IDF and the security forces," he said. Forming such a committee was part of the outline already presented by Netanyahu to the Druze community leaders on Wednesday. They rejected it on Thursday, demanding an amendment to the nation-state law addressing all minorities in Israel.  Speaking at the start of the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu defended the purpose of the controversial legislation, saying: "Individual rights are anchored in many laws. No one harmed them and no one intends to harm them, but without a nation-state law it is impossible to fortify Israel's status as a Jewish state."Netanyahu went on to say the law helps prevent unification of Palestinian families, and in the future could possibly help block entry of "infiltrators."Tens of thousands of people rallied in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square in a major protest led by the Druze community against the contentious nation-state law, which has stood at the center of dispute between the Israeli government and the Druze. Protesters called for the country to endorse the Declaration of Indepedence and waved signs emblazoned with statements such as "If we are brothers we must be equals," "Our force is in our unity – the nation-state law differentiates between us." A fake correspondence between right-wing activists in Israel's Labor Party regarding a deal in the works between the Druze community and party members circulated on social media on Saturday ahead of the protest. The fictitious deal spread by right-wing activists garnered the interest of many Israelis browsing their social media outlets after a meeting between Netanyahu and leaders of the Druze community was cut short Thursday night. Screenshots of fake conversations between members of a WhatsApp group titled ''The Labor Party- Core Headquarters'' were posted to the Facebook pages of two Labor activists with a large social media following, and the made-up chats were shared by at least 1,000 people.
The main activist announcing the deal in the fake WhatsApp conversation was a man named Avi Yaron. However, Haaretz has learned that there is no Labor activist with that name.

Israeli Druze Hold Mass Rally to Protest Jewish Nation Law

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 05/18/Tens of thousands of Israeli Druze and their supporters rallied in central Tel Aviv Saturday to protest a new law they say makes them second-class citizens. The law, which passed last month and is part of Israel's so-called basic laws, a de facto constitution, proclaims the country the nation state of the Jewish people. It makes no mention of equality or democracy, implying the country's Jewish character takes precedence, and speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews, who have a "unique" right to self-determination within its borders. Arabs have strongly criticised the legislation, particularly those from Israel's 130,000-strong Druze community. Druze, unlike other Arabs who may volunteer, are subject to compulsory service in the military or police alongside Jewish Israelis. Holding colourful Druze flags alongside Israeli ones, protestors at Saturday's demonstration, estimated by local media at over 50,000, chanted "equality". "Despite our unlimited loyalty to the state, the state doesn't consider us equals," Israeli Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muafak Tarif said in a speech. Former military general Amal Aad said that senior Druze members of the security establishment like himself "want to retain our Israeli identity, and think the government and its head can fix the law". Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had conducted a series of meetings with the Israel's Druze leadership, telling them there was "nothing in this law that infringes on your rights as equal citizens of the state of Israel".But the meetings and implications of new pro-Druze legislation have not eased their discontent, with a number of junior Druze military officers resigning from the Israeli army in protest.

Ex-PM bureau chief: If Druze don't like Nationality Law, they can go to Syria
Itamar Eichner/Ynetnews/August 05/18/
'Not a single word must be changed in the Nationality Law. Those who don't like it—there's a large Druze community in Syria, they're welcome to establish the state of Druzia there,' Natan Eshel quoted as saying; PMO: 'Statement contradicts PM's views.'Natan Eshel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former bureau chief, has suggested Druze Israelis protesting the Nationality Law should instead join their brethren in Syria. "After going forward with it, not a single word must be changed in the Nationality Law. Those who don't like it—there's a large Druze community in Syria, they're welcome to establish the state of 'Druzia' there," Eshel was quoted as saying by journalist Amnon Abramovich. Eshel also reportedly told different officials that "Bibi wants the Druze to not have a problem, and the Druze want Bibi to not be here," using the prime minister's nickname. The Prime Minister's Office was quick to distance itself from Eshel. "This kind of statement contradicts the prime minister's views and his work for the Druze sect. It's ridiculous to try and attribute (this position) to him," the PMO said. Eshel said in response, "Without addressing your question—I am not the prime minister's spokesperson, and I say things only on my own behalf and at my own discretion." Over 90,000 people protested the Nationality Law at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, calling to change the legislation. Some 2,000 more protested in Arab towns and cities across the country. On Thursday, an attempt at reconciliation between the prime minister and Druze leaders failed when Netanyahu cut the meeting short after one of the Druze leaders, Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Asad, called Israel an "apartheid state" in a Facebook post.
Two Hurt as Israel Hits Gaza Targets over 'Arson Balloons'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 05/18/An Israeli drone attacked a Palestinian militant base in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, moderately injuring two people, security officials in the Hamas-ruled territory said. They said the facility, north of Beit Lahiya, was used by a small group known as Al-Mujahedeen, which despite its name that means holy warriors in Arabic is not a Salafist movement. The Israeli military said one of its aircraft fired at two targets in the strip's northern area, describing one of them as "a vehicle that served a terrorist squad for launching arson balloons". a terrorist squad that was launching arson balloons from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel", the army said in an English-language statement. Palestinians in Gaza have been flying balloons and kites carrying incendiary devices across the border into Israel, starting hundreds of fires. It is the latest phase of border demonstrations that began at the end of March, in which at least 159 Palestinians have been killed while one Israeli soldier has been shot dead. According to unconfirmed local media reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet members of his security cabinet later Sunday to discuss a possible truce with Hamas. Hamas leaders have been meeting in Gaza over the weekend but no details of their talks have emerged. According to a senior Hamas source, they were expected to deal with UN and Egyptian ceasefire proposals and the lifting of Israel's decade-long blockade of the Palestinian enclave. Israel insists its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008. Critics say it amounts to collective punishment of the coastal territory's two million residents.

Despite Tensions, Russia Seeks US Help to Rebuild Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018/Russia has used a closely guarded communications channel with America’s top general to propose the two former Cold War foes cooperate to rebuild Syria and repatriate refugees to the war-torn country, according to a US government memo. The proposal was sent in a July 19 letter by Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, to US Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the memo which was seen by Reuters. The Russian plan, which has not been previously reported, has received an icy reception in Washington. The memo said the US policy was only to support such efforts if there were a political solution to end Syria’s seven-year-old war, including steps like UN-supervised elections. The proposal illustrates how Russia, having helped turn the tide of the war in favor of regime leader Bashar Assad, is now pressing Washington and others to aid the reconstruction of areas under his control. Such an effort would likely further cement Assad’s hold on power. “The proposal argues that the Syrian regime lacks the equipment, fuel, other material, and funding needed to rebuild the country in order to accept refugee returns,” according to the memo, which specified that the proposal related to regime-held areas of the country. The United States in 2011 adopted a policy that Assad must leave power but then watched as his forces, backed by Iran and then Russia, clawed back territory and secure Assad’s position.
The United States has drawn a line on reconstruction assistance, saying it should be tied to a process that includes UN-supervised elections and a political transition in Syria. It blames Assad for Syria’s devastation. Dunford’s office declined comment on communications with Gerasimov. “In accordance with past practice, both Generals have agreed to keep the details of their conversations private,” said spokeswoman Captain Paula Dunn.
The Kremlin and Russia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Syria conflict has killed an estimated half a million people, driven some 5.6 million people out of the country and displaced around 6.6 million within it. “The United States will only support refugee returns when they are safe, voluntary and dignified,” said the memo, which is specifically about the Russian plan for Syria, added Reuters. Rebuilding Syria will also be a massive effort, costing at least $250 billion, according one UN estimate. Some US officials believe Syria’s dependence on the international community for reconstruction, along with the presence of US and US-backed forces in part of Syria, gives Washington leverage as diplomats push for a negotiated end to the war.
The exchange offered a rare glimpse into the military communications channel between Moscow and Washington, one that Dunford himself has fiercely sought to keep private, said Reuters.Dunford, who speaks periodically with Gerasimov, has stressed that the two militaries need to be able to have candid, private communications to avoid misunderstandings that could lead to armed confrontation. But it was unclear how reconstruction and refugees fit into military-to-military communications. Gerasimov’s letter suggests that channel is also being used by Moscow to broach non-military matters. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Syria, and the issue of refugees, at their July 16 summit in Helsinki. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the talks focused on “how we might get the refugees back.”But US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week no policy changes came out of the summit. The US government memo explicitly said the Russian proposal was not “an outcome” of the Trump-Putin talks, but cautioned that Russian officials were trying to present it differently. “Russian diplomats and other officials have also been engaging in an aggressive campaign to describe the initiative in other capitals and to insinuate that it is an outcome of the US-Russia meeting in Helsinki, which it is not, repeat not,” the memo read, according to Reuters.The Russian cover letter for the proposal sent to Dunford recommended the United States, Russia and Jordan re-purpose a hub designed to monitor a 2017 ceasefire agreement “to form a joint committee to implement the reconstruction and refugee return plan,” the memo said. Jordan is hosting more than 650,000 Syrian refugees. The Russian letter also suggests that the United States and Russia form a joint group to finance infrastructure renovation in Syria, the US memo says.

Head of Syrian Regime Research Center Killed in Car Bombing
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018/The head of a Syrian regime research facility was killed when his car was blown up, reported the pro-regime al-Watan newspaper on Sunday.  Aziz Asber was the director of the Syrian Scientific Research Center in Masyaf, near the city of Hama, which Western governments say was a covert regime installation. Western countries say the facility was part of a chemical weapons program. "(Asber) died after an explosion targeted his car in the Hama countryside," al-Watan said in an online report. The explosion occurred on Saturday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitoring group said. The attack on Asber was claimed by a Syrian rebel group affiliated to Tahrir al-Sham, a rebel group. It includes the group formerly known as the Nusra Front, which served as al-Qaeda's Syrian branch. The Abu Amara Brigades released a statement on their Telegram online channel that said they "planted explosive devices" which detonated and killed Asber. The Masyaf facility has previously been hit by what the regime said were Israeli strikes in July and last year in September. In April, missile strikes by the United States, Britain and France destroyed a Syrian Scientific Research Center facility in Damascus, in response to a poison gas attack on the Douma enclave near the capital in April. The regime, backed by Russia, has denied using or possessing chemical weapons despite wide suspicion of the contrary. An Israeli government official declined to comment on reports of Asber's death when asked by Reuters. Israeli Construction Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, speaking to Israel's Ynet TV said: "There is a war raging in Syria. A lot of sides are involved. There are a lot of interests ... I read about him in the newspaper.”“He does not sound like a positive guy, to me."

Rival Shiite Blocs Compete to Make Gains in Forming Iraqi Government

Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018/The Shiite camp in Iraq appears to have grown split between two rival blocs as the country continues its efforts to form a new government. The Sairoun bloc, headed by Sadrist Movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, the Victory alliance, of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, and the Hikma Movement, of Ammar al-Hakim, are pitted against the Fateh alliance, of Hadi al-Ameri, and State of Law coalition, of former PM Nouri al-Maliki. Each camp is seeking to lure in Kurdish and Sunni powers to their side.
These political efforts have coincided with ongoing angry protests in central and southern Iraq over rampant corruption, poor services and unemployment. An informed political source told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is remarkable that none of the political blocs have taken a serious stance on the demonstrations and have limited them to minor statements of support for their demands.”“It is as if these blocs are not an active player on the political seen or that some of their figures served as premier or ministers over the years,” he added on condition of anonymity. On the surface, it seems that none of the leaderships wants to ride the wave of protests that are targeted against the entire political class, he continued. The reality is that some powers have intervened in the rallies to, unfortunately, settle scores with rivals. Regardless of their motives, all of the political parties have sought to ensure that only Abadi is at the forefront of the confrontation with the protesters because they are eager to turn him into a scapegoat and see his political downfall, explained the source. Abadi is leading a caretaker government that does not have much to offer the protesters and they know this, he continued. At the same time, he is heading an important coalition and remains a strong candidate to be chosen for a second term in office, he stated. “Whenever the government takes a step forward to end the demonstrations, someone tries to pour fuel on the fire through methods that have become known to the official powers,” he noted. A source from Abadi’s office, meanwhile, said on Saturday that the incumbent premier is likely to be chosen to head a new cabinet. The issue, however, hinges on the religious authority in al-Najaf, Ali al-Sistani, it added. “Abadi reached important understandings with the Maliki-Ameri alliance, as well as the two main Kurdish parties, over the formation of the government,” he revealed. “The Kurds did not voice any rejection to Abadi. In fact, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan expressed a great desire for him to run for a second term,” he said. “The political understandings are comfortably falling in Abadi’s favor after the Shiite blocs agreed to form a cabinet headed by him” on condition that it have Sistani’s blessing, he stated.

Iran Holds Ex-Central Bank Deputy, Judiciary Says

Reuters/Sunday 05th August 2018/Iran has arrested seven people including a former deputy central bank governor and five foreign exchange dealers for alleged economic crimes, the judiciary said on Sunday as the country prepares to face a return of U.S. sanctions. “The foreign exchange deputy of the central bank ..., who recently I heard has been deposed, has been detained,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told state television. Ejei did not name the official but he appeared to be referring to Ahmad Araghchi, who some media reports had said was dismissed as deputy central bank governor after a wide public outcry and street protests over a rapid fall of Iran’s currency. The rial currency has lost about half of its value since April because of a weak economy and heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who fear the effects of crippling U.S. sanctions. The central bank last week blamed “enemies” for the fall of the currency and a rapid rise in the prices of gold coins and the judiciary said 29 people had been arrested on charges that carry the death penalty. Besides the currency fall, the expected return of sanctions has triggered street protests and a public outcry over alleged profiteering and corruption.
Ejei said a person working in a government department headed by an unnamed deputy of President Hassan Rouhani, four unauthorized foreign exchange dealers and an employee of an exchange shop were also arrested. In May, the United States pulled out of a 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran under which international sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program. Washington decided to reimpose sanctions upon its withdrawal, accusing Iran of posing a security threat. A first wave of sanctions are due after a wind-down period which expires on Aug. 6. Washington will first reimpose sanctions on Iran’s purchase of U.S. dollars, its trade in gold and precious metals and its dealings with metals, coal and industrial-related software. The United States has told countries they must halt imports of Iranian oil from early November or face U.S. financial measures.

Iran 'Guards' Confirms that it Held Gulf Drills
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018/Iran’s "Revolutionary Guards" confirmed on Sunday it had held drills in the Gulf over the past several days, saying they were aimed at “confronting possible threats” by enemies, the state news agency IRNA reported. US officials told Reuters on Thursday that the United States believed Iran had started carrying out naval exercises in the Gulf, apparently moving up the timing of annual drills amid heightened tensions with Washington. “This exercise was conducted with the aim of controlling and safeguarding the safety of the international waterway and within the framework of the program of the Guards’ annual military exercises,” "Guards" spokesman Ramezan Sharif said, according to IRNA. The US military’s Central Command on Wednesday confirmed it has seen increased Iranian naval activity. The activity extended to the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments the "Revolutionary Guards" and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to block. Sharif expressed satisfaction of the exercise, saying they were "successful" and further stressed the need to "to maintain and enhance defense readiness and the security of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz and to confront threats and potential adventurous acts of enemies."One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said possibly more than 100 vessels were involved in the drills, including small boats. US officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the drills appeared designed to send a message to Washington, which is intensifying its economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran but so far stopping short of using the US military to more aggressively counter Iran and its proxies.

US Warns EU from Ignoring Iran’s Sanctions, 50 Responsive Companies
Washington - Maoz Al-Ameri/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018/In a step to increase pressures on the Iranian regime and pro-Iranian parties, the US administration warned European states from trading with Tehran to avoid being penalized by Washington. Asharq Al-Awsat learned from reliable sources at the State Department that in the past three months, US officials held intense meetings at several European capitals where they expressed Washington’s position
from the sanctions.
“Officials stressed that the US will not hesitate to enforce penalties on all parties that ignore Washington’s warnings from dealing with the Iranian regime,” the sources said.
The Trump administration prepares to impose the new wave of sanctions in two stages: August 6 and November 4. The first batch of sanctions is expected to target trading in cars, gold and other metals, while the second would target Iran’s oil exports and transactions with the central bank.The sources confirmed that 50 European and international companies already responded to the US warnings as Washington continues to work on making other companies comply with the sanctions. Lately, Europeans had opposed the new wave of sanctions and they held a series of meetings with high-ranking Iranian officials to discuss the issuing of countermeasures that can help avoid European companies
from complying with the US measures.“Washington aims to lessen Iran’s income from oil exports to zero,” the sources said, adding that Tehran fuels violence in regional states by investing incomes earned from the Nuclear Deal to disturb security in the region. Multiple senior US officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon website about diplomatic efforts to pressure Europe on Iran said Congress and the Trump administration are issuing a stern warning to European partners: End all business ties with the Iranian regime or face harsh new sanctions in the coming months, a move that could impact international financial markets and US banks tied to foreign monetary institutions. "The Iranian regime has and continues to use terrorism as a weapon in Europe," Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, told the Free Beacon. "We must be vigilant in finding out about their plans and stopping them before they succeed."
Egypt: 52 Militants Killed in Sinai Operation
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 5 August, 2018 /At least 52 suspected militants were killed in recent days in the northern Sinai region, announced the Egyptian military on Sunday as it continues its operation in the area to crackdown on terrorists. A defense ministry statement identified 13 of the militants as “extremely dangerous takfiris”. They were killed in an operation by security forces in the city of al-Arish, the capital of North Sinai province.The remaining 39 militants were killed in various military operations across northern and central Sinai, the military statement said, without giving any breakdown. The deaths have raised to at least 313 suspected militants, according to a Reuters count based on military statements. The military said that another 49 suspected militants have been arrested. Some 26 hideouts have been destroyed and weapons depots seized, it added, while revealing that 64 explosive devices have been dismantled. The military added that airstrikes destroyed 32 vehicles containing weapons and ammunition in the Western Desert and in the south. Egypt launched a nationwide operation against terrorists in February. It has struggled to combat a long-running insurgency in the Sinai that gained strength after the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013.The insurgents had sworn allegiance to ISIS.

Criticisms Against US Plan to Dissolve UNRWA, Merge it into UNHCR
New York, Amman, Ramallah - Ali Barada, Mohammed Al-Daama, Kifah Zaboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 05/18/Warnings emerged Saturday from the exaggerated financial shortfalls at the United Nations Relief Works Agency, UNRWA, amid reports about the plan of US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to dissolve it and merge into the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In his first comment on a report published Friday, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that UNRWA currently suffers from a “destructive” financial crisis. Haq asserted that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was exerting everything in his power so that UNRWA continues to provide services to millions of refugees in the region. Foreign Policy (FP) magazine said Friday that Kushner has been highly critical of UNRWA, with him and other White House officials weighing its closure as part of their peace efforts. On Saturday, the Palestinian presidency reaffirmed the constant position of President Mahmoud Abbas and the leadership towards the issues of Jerusalem and the refugees as the basis for any future peace solution. The presidency’s statement came in response to the report, which unveiled US plans to dissolve UNRWA, thus ending the refugee issue. “The refugee issue is a final status issue, which will only be resolved through negotiations leading to a just and agreed solution in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative,” the Presidency said.  According to the FP report, Kushner wrote in an email dated Jan. 11 and addressed to several other senior officials, including Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, “It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA. This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”

Exclusive - YPG Ready to Take Part in Operations to Expel ISIS from Syria’s Sweida

London - Ibrahim Hamidi/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 05/18/Head of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Siban Hamo voiced his forces’ readiness to “protect” Syria’s Sweida region and its Druze residents from ISIS in wake of last month’s attack against the region by the terrorist group. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “ISIS launched barbaric attacks against our people in Sweida. The pain of the Druze is the same pain we felt in Kobane (Ain al-Arab) and Afrin (where Turkish forces and opposition factions waged an operation earlier in the year).” “We do not distinguish between these attacks and those against Sweida. The YPG is ready to dispatch forces to liberate it from terrorism,” he declared. In late July, some 250 people were killed in ISIS attacks and suicide bombings, the fiercest in years on the predominantly Druze Sweida region. Since then, the locals have been on high alert to confront ISIS and expel it from the region’s administrative border. Attacks have been anticipated by the group from eastern and western fronts.The Syrian regime is, meanwhile, preparing to launch an offensive on the eastern and western Sweida countryside. Hamo added that the YPG has proven its success in combating ISIS and terrorists, citing its liberation, as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of a third of Syria from the group’s clutches. On the Idlib front, Hamo revealed that the regime does not so far have a “clear plan” to launch an operation in the northwestern region. Members of the SDF and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party, have voiced their readiness to take part in such an operation and another in Afrin, should the regime decide to launch one. Hamo added: “We have no proposals to make as long as the regime does not have a clear plan.”He revealed that the YPG is continuing its military operations in Afrin and they will grow in intensity with time. He made his remarks soon after the SDF announced that it had seized complete control of the Syrian-Iraqi borders as part of Operation Jazeera Storm that was backed by the US-led international coalition to defeat ISIS. A senior Kurdish official told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that American officials have confirmed to the SDF on several occasions that they were remaining in northeastern Syria, “We were informed by the American military that they were remaining there to prevent the return of ISIS and the emergence of a vacuum that could either be filled by extremism or Iran,” he added. He revealed that the SDF had also reached an agreement with the military on a plan for 2018-19 to hold military trainings and combat sleeper ISIS cells.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on August 05-06/18
Iranian regime playing a dangerous game with Trump administration
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 05/18
From both political and economic perspectives, the Islamic Republic is facing difficult and challenging times. This is thanks to the Iranian regime’s economic mismanagement, the hemorrhaging of billions of dollars on its proxies, militias and terror groups, its misuse of the nation’s wealth, and the widespread financial and political corruption within the theocratic system. In addition, the country has been plagued by ongoing protests, as many people cannot make ends meet and their frustration with the regime has increased. Iran’s currency, the rial, has continuously dropped to historic lows and the resulting devaluation makes the price of basic commodities more expensive and puts further pressure on the ordinary people. The political and economic crises are not going to ease for the Iranian leaders due to the fact the regime has shown no sign or intention of taking action to address the people’s grievances, such as fighting financial corruption in the upper echelons, halting financial support for proxies, creating jobs, or redistributing the nation’s wealth. Furthermore, the US Treasury Department will begin reimposing primary sanctions on Iran’s theocratic establishment this week.
The Iranian leaders have a chance to address the crisis through international diplomacy. One major opportunity presented itself when US President Donald Trump offered to negotiate with the Islamic Republic without any conditions. When discussing Iran, Trump said during a joint news conference at the White House with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet… I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet. I’m ready to meet whenever they want to.” He added:
“No preconditions.”Iran’s currency immediately made a recovery, gaining nearly 10 percent due to the hope that Tehran may take up the US administration’s offer, employ diplomacy, and subsequently defuse tensions. Many Iranian people were hoping that Washington and Tehran would negotiate with each other and improve their relationship.
Shahla, a mother of two and a part-time financial analyst in Isfahan, said: “The economic situation is unbearable for millions of people in Iran. Many of the current financial problems that we are encountering are because of the Islamic Republic’s heated and war-like rhetoric toward other countries. Our market thinks that we are on the verge of war in any moment. I wish they (Iran’s leadership) would agree to speak with the US in a civilized manner. This will give some relief to the market and the Iranian people.”
Unfortunately, since diplomacy is the last resort for the Iranian regime, its leaders rejected the US offer on the spot. The rejection came from both hard-liners and moderates, who are considered to be “diplomatic.” Senior Iranian officials and military commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force labeled accepting the US offer for talks as a “dream” for the “Great Satan.”
Although many Iranians would like to see an end to the tensions between Washington and Tehran, Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, stated: “The Iranian people do not authorize officials to meet the Great Satan... Mr. Trump, Iran is not North Korea.” Not only did the Iranian leaders decline Trump’s offer, but they also ratcheted up their incendiary rhetoric without contemplating the repercussions of such heightened tensions. Jafari described Trump as the “amateurish president” of the “Great Satan,” who is going to take his dream to meet with Iranian leaders “to the grave.”
The Iranian regime is on its last legs. Its economy is in a shambles and the people’s frustrations have reached perilous heights.
But, more importantly, why did the Iranian leaders decline the US offer? There are two major factors at play. First of all, Tehran will only negotiate with the US if it is fully confident beforehand that Washington would be willing to submit to its demands and make substantial economic and political concessions. This is one of the reasons that the Iranian leaders agreed to sit at the same table as the Obama administration. The Obama White House had long demonstrated and sent several crucial signals to the Iranian regime that it was prepared to satisfy their demands.
Secondly, by immediately and publicly rejecting the US offer, as well as by trying to humiliate Washington with aggressive and incendiary rhetoric, the Iranian leaders are attempting to satisfy their hardline and extremist social base in the country — such as the militia group Basij — and in the region, which primarily includes militias and terror groups, as well as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Finally, the Iranian regime is on its last legs. Its economy is in a shambles and the people’s frustrations have reached perilous heights.
Talks with a top state sponsor of terrorism should be avoided as it only empowers the regime and grants it more legitimacy. Nevertheless, if any state decides to talk with Tehran, it should be conditioned on fundamentally altering the regime’s behavior toward its people, as well as toward other countries in the region and globally.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council.
Oil Is Fine With Wars, Just Not Trade Wars
Liam Denning/Bloomberg/August 05/18
It’s a sad, cold fact that, for some, war actually is good for more than absolutely nothing. Consider how sprightly oil can get at the mere rumor of stuff getting blown up.
Trade war is different, though, because that usually entails large parts of the economy taking flak. While President Donald Trump appears to have pulled back from an immediate confrontation with the EU, the impact of existing tariffs largely aimed at China is starting to be felt from auto plants to farms.
The oil market has suffered a mild dose of nerves, too, although it’s also been contending with other bearish factors, from higher Saudi Arabian output to a potential pre-midterms release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It certainly hasn’t been hit as hard as metals such as copper or aluminum.
Escalation could change that. I say “could” because a trade war initiated by the country underwriting the post-World War II free-trade system is somewhat outside the old frame of reference. China’s threat to levy tariffs on some U.S. energy exports springs from three things: the widening pool of tariff-targeted Chinese exports to the U.S.; the more limited pool of trade going the other way for China to hit; and (possibly) a desire to take a symbolic swipe at Trump’s stated desire for “energy dominance.” China took 20 percent of U.S. crude-oil exports in the 12 months through April and has been the largest market for them this year, according to the International Energy Agency. One line of thinking says China imposing tariffs on U.S. crude oil exports would have zero effect. China would buy less U.S. oil, but would then buy it from elsewhere. That would push other countries, in turn, to buy the U.S. barrels now going begging.
But oil isn’t quite as fungible as all that, because some barrels are heavier or dirtier than others, and refineries tend to have particular tastes. As energy economist Philip Verleger wrote in a recent report, a Chinese tariff would act like a tax on U.S. oil exports. American barrels would have to reprice lower in order to access China — with producers absorbing the “tax” — or compete for new buyers. The light oil derived from U.S. tight-rock basins might find buyers in Asia, and European refiners might take conventional barrels if reimposed U.S. sanctions choke off Iranian exports, according to Kristine Petrosyan, a senior analyst at the IEA. Pricing would have to be right, though, “so the net effect is not quite zero.”
Petrosyan points out that even refineries configured to take other grades of crude oil will process lighter oil if the economics make sense, citing the example of refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. While these invested heavily in the past in order to run cheaper, heavier barrels from the Middle East and Venezuela, Petrosyan estimates their mix of crude oil has lightened up significantly amid the shale boom and Venezuela’s collapse. Such decisions are still, though, a function of price, so it’s unlikely refiners would pay high enough to offset the “tax” imposed by Chinese tariffs. Indeed, refiners that could buy discounted U.S. barrels would be the real winners in this scenario, being able to sell their gasoline and diesel at global prices. Similar to what would likely happen if the SPR was tapped, don’t expect consumers to gain from any dislocation. Any victory for China would be Pyrrhic. Bloodying the nose of America’s oil industry wouldn’t change the fact that China’s export-heavy economy has been built on the foundations of the free-trade system underwritten by the U.S. and now being undermined by it. This presents a broader threat to oil producers everywhere, not just in Texas. China accounts for about 30 percent of expected global oil demand growth this year and next. And there are some causes for concern already, such as a marked pick-up in the country’s exports of diesel, a fuel tied most closely with industrial activity and freight.
This may reflect tighter credit in the first half of the year that will loosen in the back half, especially if trade battles bite. Yet a bigger trade war clearly would represent a threat to China of a different order from what’s come before. This adds further risk to China’s diesel demand at a time when gasoline demand growth is coming under pressure from prices around the world (including the U.S.). Oil watchers have become accustomed to focusing on supply — Oh, Vienna! — but demand is the other side of the equation. For now, there is at least hope that a bigger war with Europe might be avoided. “For now” does a lot of work in that sentence, though. Wednesday’s talks at the White House represent a truce, not a final peace agreement. Meanwhile, antipathy to “unfair” trade and a propensity for sudden moves remain defining features of the Trump administration. In any case, we have entered dangerous territory already when it comes to energy. The U.S. has reemerged as a more interventionist player, with sanctions and tariffs, though, every action provokes a reaction; splash one corner of the oil market and the waves ripple out all over. And yet, as that mooted $12 billion bailout for tariff-trampled farmers shows, this administration seems fine with acting first and trying to patch up the collateral damage afterwards. As we’ve seen already in America’s electricity and coal sectors, energy dominance comes with a hefty dose of that old-time state meddling. Oil will be no different.

Behind the Scenes: How Netanyahu's 'Apartheid' Trap Torpedoed Talks With Druze Leaders
من الهآررتس: من وراء الكواليس: كيف أن لغم اتهام القيادات الدرزية بالعنصرية فخخ  ولغم محادثات نتانياهو معهم
Noa Landau and Noa Shpigel /Haaretz/August 05/18
When the prime minister saw Druze leaders insisting that the nation-state law be changed, he opted for a controlled explosion that would mark the group public enemy number one
There were two possible scenarios for the outcome of the meeting Thursday night between government officials and Druze leaders protesting the nation-state law: a celebratory handshake over a package of benefits for the Druze and a statement that the protest rally slated for Saturday night had been canceled, or a controlled explosion in talks that would mark this group public enemy number one.
From Haaretz’s conversations with participants and observers on both sides of the meeting, the picture is clear: When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw the Druze leaders insisting that the nation-state law be changed, he preferred the second option.
The invitation to the meeting, which began at 7:30 P.M., came rather abruptly, but not unusually so, compared to the previous meetings. Three former army officers leading the protest – Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Assad, Col. (res.) Anwar Saeb and Lt. Col. (res.) Sufyan Marih – received a message from the Druze spiritual leader, Sheikh Muwafak Tarif, that they had been invited with him to a meeting in the prime minister’s office.
Netanyahu’s people had intended to invite the “community’s notables” only – a group they had held talks with in the past and believed were inclined to accept the deal Netanyahu was offering. But the Druze decided that the meeting needed broader representation. Some Druze mayors, for example, Mufid Marie of Hurfeish, who is also chairman of the forum of Druze local councils, were invited only at around 4:15 P.M. by MK Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu).
The messages were confused. At some point it was said that the meeting would be canceled, but in the end it was decided to hold it at the government offices in Tel Aviv instead of Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem.
A stormy debate began among the Druze mayors. Some thought that the meeting was intended to pressure them into canceling Saturday night’s rally, and that they didn’t have enough time to prepare for the meeting properly. In the end it was decided that in addition to Marie, only two mayors would be present, Wahib Habish of Yarka and Biyan Kabalan of Beit Jann. Others gave in contentiously, among them Daliat al-Carmel Mayor Rafiq Halabi.
In addition to Amar, the prime minister’s team consisted of the nation-state law’s framer, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, both of Likud. Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, who had been appointed to lead the committee charged with resolving the dispute, was abroad. The prime minister’s communications team didn’t update the media officially regarding the meeting, as is customary, and as had been the case in previous meetings with Druze leaders.
The sheikh, the mayors and the officers arrived at the Tel Aviv government center at around 7:30 PM. Contrary to a statement from the prime minister’s people that some of them had not been invited, particularly Assad, they were all allowed to enter. Some of the prime minister’s aides even called this a “security breach.”Even before the meeting started, according to those present, the prime minister asked for his picture to be taken with Tarif, Amar, Kara and the mayors. The photos were to be in preparation for a statement that an agreement had been reached, in the hope that such a release could go out in time for the main TV news broadcasts at 8 P.M.
The three officers said they were on the other side of the table and thus weren’t included in the photo. Netanyahu’s people said everyone was invited to be in the picture, but the officers came into the room late.
According to people present, in Netanyahu’s brief statement to the cameras he said there had already been progress in the negotiations, even though the talks had not yet started. Even the position paper they thought they had agreed to on Wednesday was already on the table.
The Druze officials said that at this point they began to squirm uncomfortably. “We saw that he had supposedly prepared a paper that everything was done and agreed on,” Habish said. “He brought us in for a picture and to say that everything was fine.”
Another participant said: “I was fuming. What’s this? It’s not what we came for.” The atmosphere became tense. One of the participants said he took out his phone to answer a text and was told to turn it off immediately.
After the photo-op, Habish told Netanyahu that the Druze officials wouldn’t agree to an arrangement that didn’t include enshrining the status of minorities in a Basic Law, or the complete annulment of the nation-state law.
At this point Assad intervened. He says he told Netanyahu that the Druze wouldn’t accept Netanyahu’s package of benefits, which only included recognition of the Druze and Circassians, as well as benefits to members of minority groups only if they had served in the security forces. Assad reiterated their demand to enshrine in a Basic Law the status of all minorities or the annulment of the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.
According to the prime minister’s people, Assad interrupted and spoke to Netanyahu “as well as to the sheikh” in an “undignified” way.
Assad and others deny this, saying he spoke calmly. Sheikh Tarif also denied that Assad had insulted him. Either way, Netanyahu responded: “I will not speak to anyone who calls me the prime minister of an apartheid government.”
On Facebook the previous day, Assad had said the nation-state law was “evil and racist” and designed to lay the groundwork for Israel to become an apartheid state. According to Assad and other participants, he answered the prime minister that he indeed “believed that the nation-state law might lead Israel to apartheid.” According to Netanyahu’s people, Assad said: “I live in an apartheid state.”
Either way, after Assad’s statement, Netanyahu left the room angrily and demanded that the meeting continue in a smaller forum, without the former officers. The Druze participants refused. The ministers and MKs met with Netanyahu in a separate room. It was clear that there would be no sincere attempt to reach understandings.
8:10 P.M.: Press statement
During the storm, at 8:10 P.M., TV reporters broadcast live based on information coming from Netanyahu’s people. They said that in the meeting the prime minister had “pledged to pass the three historic laws” – three laws to benefit the Druze community – but that “Amal Assad interrupted the sheikh and the prime minister and insulted them both. The prime minister said he wouldn’t accept an insult to the prime minister of Israel or to the state from a person who calls Israel an apartheid state.”
It was understood from this that Assad had interrupted and called Israel an apartheid state, so Netanyahu then cut the meeting short. But non-Druze people at the meeting confirmed to Haaretz that after Netanyahu realized that the meeting was not moving toward a solution, he was the first to mention apartheid and blew up the meeting after Assad refused to take back his statement and the Druze notables refused to meet with Netanyahu on their own. Then came the press statements from Netanyahu’s aides.
People close to Netanyahu say he didn’t blow up the meeting; one said “Assad wasn’t even invited and we didn’t know he would come.”
Five minutes after they left Netanyahu’s office, the phones of the Druze representatives started ringing with requests for a response. Why did you say Israel is an apartheid state, they were asked.
“We didn’t come for a statement, we came to talk,” one participant said. “We had a creative idea to move forward, but he [Netanyahu] came and gave a statement to the media and chased Amal out of the room.”
Habish said: “I think he wanted us to come for a photo-op with him and say everything was fine and he’d tell Israel that there was no point in the protest Saturday night.
As Habish put it, “I think he planned that he’d bring us, that he’d say we’re starting to work with the teams on a bill for the Druze, that we’d say thank you very much, that we’d kiss him. He planned it. When he saw it wasn’t working out, he looked for an excuse to blow the meeting up.”
Assad told Haaretz after the meeting: “I didn’t bring up the apartheid issue at all in the meeting. Netanyahu was talking about things that I wrote on Facebook over the past few days – that I wrote that the law might lead to apartheid. I stand by these statements, but Netanyahu was the one who suddenly brought them up in the meeting to blow it up.”
On Saturday night he told Haaretz: “I don’t respect the State of Israel? I respect the State of Israel more than a great many Israelis, including those sitting up there in the government, up to the highest level, without mentioning any names.”
On Channel 2’s Friday night news show, commentator Amnon Abramovich quoted a source “very close to the prime minister” as saying: “After we started out, not one word could be changed in the nation-state law. If someone didn’t like it, there’s a large Druze community in Syria and he’s invited to start a Druze state.”The prime minister’s aides responded that a “statement like this goes against the prime minister’s worldview and his work for the Druze community, and it is ridiculous to attribute it to him.”
For its part, Likud said that Netanyahu “utterly rejects the infuriating statements posted by Assad on Facebook and which he repeated at the meeting when he said ‘I live in an apartheid state.’”

Britain Welcomes Radicals - Again and Again
Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/August 05/18
How expert are these two clerics at 'interfaith relations'? Well, they are so good that their main credential is their enthusiastic support for the murderer of somebody accused of 'blasphemy'.
Despite criticism from Shahbaz Taseer... the UK government had no problem allowing into the UK these two men who, as Shahbaz Taseer said, 'teach murder and hate'.
In the past year, the UK has banned a fair number of people from entering the country. It has, for example, barred the Canadian activist and blogger Lauren Southern. It has also banned the Austrian activist and 'identitarian' Martin Sellner. Whatever anyone's thoughts on either of these individuals, it is not possible to claim that either has ever addressed a rally of thousands of people which they have used to extol a murderer... Yet Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman has done these things – and yet has been allowed into the UK three years in a row.
It is more than a year since the UK suffered three Islamist terrorist attacks in quick succession. It is also more than a year since the Prime Minister, Theresa May, stood on the steps of Downing Street and announced that 'enough is enough'.
Yet the striking aspect of the last year has been how little has changed.
Consider, for instance, the lax controls on extremist preachers that the UK had in place in 2016. As reported here at the time, in the summer of that year, two Pakistani clerics performed a tour of the UK. Their seven-week roadshow took in numerous UK hotspots including Rochdale, Rotherham, Oldham and the Prime Minister's own constituency of Maidenhead. The two clerics -- Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman -- began their tour by visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at Lambeth Palace for a meeting on 'interfaith relations'.
How expert are these two clerics at 'interfaith relations'? Well, they are so good that their main credential is their enthusiastic support for the murderer of somebody accused of 'blasphemy'. Yes -- these two preachers are famed in Pakistan for having supported Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of the progressive Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. Because Taseer believed in a relaxation of Pakistan's barbaric blasphemy codes (specifically he opposed the execution of a Christian woman -- Asia Bibi -- who was falsely accused of blaspheming the Muslim god), Qadri -- who was meant to be guarding the governor -- instead murdered Taseer in 2011. Qadri himself was subsequently tried, sentenced to death and executed by the state. After Qadri's funeral in Rawalpindi, Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman whipped up the crowds of the murderer's mourners. Rehman acclaimed the murderer Qadri as a 'shaeed' (martyr). The crowd subsequently chanted slogans such as 'Qadri, your blood will bring revolution' and 'the punishment for a blasphemer is beheading'.
Despite criticism from Shahbaz Taseer (the son of the man whom Qadri had murdered), the UK government had no problem allowing into the UK these two men who, as Shahbaz Taseer said, 'teach murder and hate'. On their tour of the UK in 2016, these two preachers were reported to have spoken to mosques packed with worshipers.
A forgiving person might point out that the Archbishop of Canterbury does not know what he is talking about when he claims that Rehman and Rehman are interfaith experts, and that until 2016 the UK border agencies and other authorities could not have known that the two men are preachers of incitement in their home country. A forgiving person might even have thought all these authorities were naïve but would not be so naïve again.
In 2017, however, it did happen again. In July of last year the clerics were back, ostensibly speaking at a conference on 'counter-terrorism'. The idea that either man would know how to counter terrorism when the only expertise that either man has is in encouraging terrorism makes their presence at such an event insulting to anyone involved in countering terrorism. Even more so given that their main facilitator in the UK would appear to be the head of the one-man organisation calling itself the 'Ramadan Foundation', run by Mohammed Shafiq, a man with his own dark history of extremism and incitement.
A cynical person might assume that the UK authorities had let these radical preachers in the first time because they were ignorant, and the second time perhaps because they were slow. But how to account for events just last month? In July of this year, Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman was in the UK yet again -- and again in Oldham. Also again, his visit appears to have been facilitated by the one-man-band, Mohammed Shafiq. The latest bogus 'counter-terrorism conference' at which he was speaking also involved not only local MP (and Shadow Home Office Minister) Afzal Khan, but also the father and grandmother of one of the victims of last year's Islamist suicide bomb attack at the Manchester Arena.
Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman, in his address at the conference, reportedly said:
"I stand before you to say we as Muslims stand against terrorism, these vile people are enemies of Islam and the whole of humanity.
"My mission in life is to promote tolerance and peace, you can see from the thousands who attend my events in Pakistan there is a yearning for the true message of Islam which is Peace and tolerance.
"I am honoured to visit Manchester to remember the victims and their families of the Manchester Arena attack and say we stand with you always".
Of course the thousands who attended his events in Pakistan did not always hear this message of 'peace and tolerance'. As the evidence of the aftermath of Qadri's funeral showed, they heard a message of vengeance, blasphemy, medievalism and violence.
But that is Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman.
The bigger question is for the UK -- and specifically for the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
In the past year, the UK has banned a fair number of people from entering the country. It has, for example, barred the Canadian activist and blogger Lauren Southern. It has also banned the Austrian activist and 'identitarian' Martin Sellner. Whatever anyone's thoughts on either of these individuals, it is not possible to claim that either has ever addressed a rally of thousands of people which they have used to extol a murderer. If either of them had done so, a ban from the UK might be explicable. Yet Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman has done these things -- and yet has been allowed into the UK three years in a row. Even in the year after Theresa May pretended that 'enough is enough.'
Perhaps the British government thinks that people do not notice such things. Perhaps the organisers of the 'counter-terrorism conference' in Manchester think that people are taken in by such pretences. Perhaps they think that the people of Britain do not mind. But the people of Britain do notice and I rather suspect that they do mind. Very much, in fact.
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
© 2018 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.

Hijab Chronicles/الدكتور ماجد ربيزاده: تاريخ تطور اشكاليات الحجاب
Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/August 05/18
"Will Allah hang me from my hair? The religious and Quran teacher at our school told us in class that if we show our hair in public, God will hang us from our hair in the afterlife and torture us for infinity."
Many Muslim women, including members of my own family, are afraid to take off their hijab, even though they are adults and who may not be religious anymore, and may even live in a place where they are allowed to take off their hijab. The fear of displaying their hair, and the consequences they could face physically and spiritually still haunt them and influence the choices they make in their everyday life.
My sister is still afraid to take off her hijab because of those horrifying stories that the radical Islamic teachers taught her when she was tiny....I still hope for a day when my sister will have a good night's sleep, when the little girls who are sitting in those same classrooms, their minds filled with horrifying scenes, will one day feel safe to uncover their hair, and safe to lay down their heads at night. Until then, I will not rest, either.
Last month, an Iranian court ordered Shaparak Shajarizadeh, 43, to prison for two years, with 18 years' probation, for removing her headscarf in public.
In our childhood in Iran, my sister's screams would cut through the silence of our home at night. Nightmares would wake her and leave her too terrified to go back to sleep. We all encouraged her to share her fears; she would always refuse. On the night she finally opened up, her entire body was shaking with fear.
Afraid to ask the question out loud, my sister, then nine years old, whispered: "Will Allah hang me from my hair? The religious and Quran teacher at our school told us in class that if we show our hair in public, God will hang us from our hair in the afterlife and torture us for infinity. He will resurrect us if we die and then torture us again," she was sobbing. "I went to the grocery store and forgot to wear my hijab. Will He torture me for infinity?"
My sister was then attending one of the tens of thousands of schools, both in Iran and abroad, run by the sharia law of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many teachers of religion and the Quran in these schools use the directive above to warn girls not to display their hair. The directive comes from a reported hadith, the sayings and acts of Mohammad.
According to the teaching, the son-in-law and cousin of the prophet, Ali and his wife, who was the daughter of the prophet, stated that they saw the prophet weeping.
"They inquired the reason that had made the Holy Prophet weep. He replied: "On the night of the Ascension (Mairaj), I saw the punishments being given to some women, today I was remembering those scenes. This is why I am worried". They asked, "Please tell us what did you see?" He replied: "I saw a woman hanging by her hair and her brain was boiling. (This was the punishment of that woman who did not hide her hair by covering her head from men)."
But why would these teachers tell their students about these horrifying punishments when they are only eight or nine years old? Well, the best time to indoctrinate and brainwash people is when they are young. They are uninformed and trusting. Also, for radical Muslims, using fear is a powerful tool to coerce people into believing in their extremist ideals and following the practices and demands of their leaders.
It is not only some schools and mosques that are used as platforms to plant seeds of fear into little girls with regards to displaying their hair. Once sharia law enters the political establishment, it requires an Islamist judiciary system to be put into place, through which severe punishments can be inflicted on people who disobey God's rule.
Videos such as this, for example, showing a young girl in Iran being beaten in public by the regime's religious forces for not sufficiently covering her hair, are abundant. Many Muslim women, including members of my own family, are afraid to take off their hijab, even though they are adults and who may not be religious anymore, and may even live in a place where they are allowed to take off their hijab. The fear of displaying their hair, and the consequences they could face physically and spiritually still haunt them and influence the choices they make in their everyday life.
As the imposition of sharia law shows in Iran and territories ruled by Islamist groups, sharia law is not solely about placing religious leaders in positions of power to rule the nation; it is also about controlling people's day-to-day activities, and every aspect of their lives, including their bodies. That is why radical teachings in schools and mosques should be halted, before the sharia dominates the state.
My sister is still afraid to take off her hijab because of those horrifying stories that the radical Islamist instructors taught her her when she was small. It is in her unconscious as it is for many other girls. How many more little girls have to awaken to these nightmares? I still hope for a day when my sister will have a good night's sleep, when the little girls who are sitting in those same classrooms, their minds filled with horrifying scenes, will one day feel safe to uncover their hair, and safe to lay down their heads at night. Until then, I will not rest, either.
**Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, is a Harvard-educated scholar, businessman, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
© 2018 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.

"Be Cursed Forever": Extremist Persecution of Christians, January 2018
ريموند إبراهيم: جردة بما تعرض له المسيحيون من أضطهاد من قبل الجماعات الإسلامية المتطرفة
Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/August 05/18
"Nigeria security has declared war against Christians in this country." — Pastor Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa, executive director of Voice of Northern Christian Movement, Nigeria.
While uncritically taking in and conferring refugee status on countless Muslim migrants, European authorities continued singling out those most in need of sanctuary for deportation.
"Afghanistan is not a safe place for a Christian convert. The Court should ask Switzerland to stop turning a blind eye to the situation of religious minorities in Afghanistan... Sending a refugee back to a country where they face persecution because of their faith is incompatible with the Convention." — AFD International.
The Slaughter of Christians in Egypt
Three masked gunmen targeted and killed Bassem Attallah, a Christian man, 27, after identifying him as a Christian by the cross tattoo on his wrist. According to his older brother, Osama, 38, the siblings and a Muslim colleague, Muhammad, were walking home after work when three armed men, aged between 23 and 25 stopped them. "We thought they were policemen because they weren't masked... They were wearing black jackets," Osama recalled. "They approached us and asked Bassem to show them the wrist of his right hand, and when they saw the tattoo of the cross, they asked him: 'Are you Christian?' Bassem answered 'Yes, I am Christian,' and repeated that again in a loud voice."
The men then asked Muhammad his name and to show them his wrist. They saw no cross and allowed him to leave. On learning Osama's name, which is popular among Muslims, and not seeing any cross tattoos on his wrist, they also allowed him to leave. "And then they shot Bassem in the head. I could not believe what happened to my brother. He fell on the ground in front of me and I was unable to do anything.... We lost a person dear to our hearts. My brother Bassem was a very good and kind man. He had a strong relationship with God. He was always reading in the Bible, praying and going to the church. He was loved by all people," said his grieving brother. The murder took place in Al-Arish, Sinai, which in recent years has been the scene of many attacks on Christians—including the murder of two priests and the mass upheaval of Christian villages.
Separately, on New Year's Day, which the Muslim calendar does not recognize or celebrate, two Christian brothers were gunned down in public by a masked man on a motorcycle. While they died en route to a hospital, the murderer escaped. At the time of the attack, they were near Christian friend's store, which sold liquor. Coptic-owned stores that sell liquor have been targeted by those who consider alcohol haram, or forbidden by Islam. Almost one year to the day, on January 3, 2017, a Muslim man sneaked up behind a Christian shop owner in Egypt and slit his throat for selling alcohol.
Finally, more details concerning the Islamist terror attack on a Coptic church on December 29, which left nine dead, continued to emerge. One mother sacrificed herself to save her two young daughters. Nermin Sadik, 32, was walking her two daughters, aged 11 and 7, to Sunday school, when one of the gunmen ran up to her. When she realized what was happening and that he was about to open fire, she flung her daughters away and received a bullet. When the terrorist turned on the two girls, their mother, "with her last breath held them between her arms to protect them from flying bullets," says the report. Although the girls survived the ordeal, in the end their mother's body had several bullets in it. Speaking after the tragedy, Nermin's widower said his wife, who was a nurse, "was affectionate for everyone and she liked to help without charge."
The Slaughter of Christians in Nigeria
Various attacks on Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen continued throughout the month of January. "At least 16 people have been killed by gunmen in southern Nigeria after a New Year's Day church service," says one report. "The group had attended a midnight service before they were ambushed in the early hours of Monday."
According to another report, in one week alone, 55 people were killed and 200 homes torched, in the Lau local government area of Taraba state.
In yet another instance, 80 Christians were slaughtered by the Muslim herdsmen, many hacked to death by machetes, in Logo and Guma County. Speaking from a hospital bed, one survivor, Peter, said the attackers who went after him "were people I had interfaced with in that community. I got up and called them by their names and tried to wrestle the machete they had out of their hands, but to no avail. I was overpowered and they began to cut me."
Discussing these ongoing raids, Rev. Musa Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said "Under President [Muhammad] Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism to the extent that the herdsmen treat Nigeria as a conquered territory. Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection as they unleash terror with impunity on the Nigerian people."
The Rape of Christians in Pakistan
"A Christian boy of only 7 years old was brutally sodomized by a Muslim rapist," says a report. Daim Masih, a first grader, was walking home from school when he was met by Shan Muhammad, 19, a local: "Hi Daim, it's nice to see you," he began. "I have good news, some of our cows have given birth to young calves. Would you like to come with me and see them?" Because the unsuspecting child was fond of animals and knew Shan, he went with him. Walking hand in hand, Masih began to realize that they were not headed for the farm but a secluded place. When he pointed this out to Shan, the latter responded that he had "another big surprise for him." The report continues:
They walked a few meters to some trees when suddenly Shan ripped off Daim's shirt, then the rest of his clothes and threw Daim to the ground. Shan then jumped on Daim and proceeded with a sexual assault and sodomization of poor Daim. While the attack was happening the tiny 7 year old struggled to fight off Shan who was much bigger and more powerful then him. Daim was punched, slapped and kneed by Shan who was shouting obscenities during the attack and demanding Daim to stop his screaming. The violence and the unlawful penetration of Dain was so painful however, that he could not stop his screaming. Desperate for him to be quiet or thrilled by the power and subjugation of his prey, sexual predator Shan began to tighten his hands around Daim's neck and was slowly throttling him to death while having his wicked way with him.
In fact, many Christian children—boys and girls—have been strangled to death during or after being raped in Pakistan over the years. Fortunately for Daim, his grandfather and uncle heard his cries and rushed to the scenes, at which point Muhammad pulled up his pants and fled the scene. The traumatized 7-year-old was subsequently hospitalized.
In another incident, a young, married Christian woman, the mother of a two-year-old girl "was brutally gang-raped by three men and then left tied in the courtyard of a Muslim man's house until she was found by police two days later," according to a report. Sidhra, 20, had just left her mother's home, when three local men began following her. She started to run towards her home, but they caught up with her, and, according to the report, "grabbed her at which point Sidhra blacked-out. She is unable to recall the events of the next 36 hours at this time." The family eventually learned that she was seen bound to a chair in the courtyard of a local home. The report continues:
[A]ll her family ran to the house of Mohammed Ilyas and peered through the gates when the mother saw her daughter tied up unconscious to a chair with a gag in her mouth, restrained in the courtyard of the neighbor's home, she started to scream. As each sibling saw their sister they too began to scream and shout hysterically. They banged on the gates and one brother climbed over and unlocked the gate from inside and rushed towards his sister. Sidhra was fully clothed and tied at her wrists and legs the rope securing her was so tight bruises could be seen on her wrists. Despite attempts to wake her it took a few minutes to revive her and she remained dizzy—she showed signs of having been drugged.
When she awoke, Sidhra, who "was unconscious for the whole two days and believes that she was subjected to rape," identified the three local men, all nephews of Mohammed Ilyas, the owner. Although her father went to lodge a complaint at the police station, "The Police refused to acknowledge her kidnap or rape and did not initially register a First Incident Report (FIR), as they told the family they had no evidence." After much pressure from the family and other local elders, police registered a crime and arrested two of the assailants—only to release them after some time. Although the family continued to seek justice, "the family holds little hope of any prosecution, as the courts and the police are exhibiting little empathy and seem keen on exonerating the wealthy Muslims," according to the report. Later, Sidhra said:
I am totally distraught, a visit to my mother has become a day of ruin for me. I have suffered a brutal kidnap and rape by disgusting men with no shame.... The thought of what the men done to me makes me shudder, I have nightmares and feel like my whole world has collapsed. I am terrified of walking on the streets at night and am finding it hard to cope with a deep depression that has consumed me. I had a happy life and that has been taken away from me, but the cruel men who stole my joy will soon be released to threaten me and to attack other women like me. There is no justice in this country.
Jihad on Christian Freedom
Kyrgyzstan: Unknown attackers torched a church building in the Muslim-majority nation. The small Baptist community was left "fear[ing] for its safety," says the report: "The damage to the church has forced its 40 Kyrgyz and Russian members to start searching for a new place of worship, while wondering if there will be a further attack."
An official told church members that the attack was "organized by those who don't like your church and Christianity in the midst of a Muslim country." "We don't believe that the police will find and punish those who burned our church," a congregation member said. The report adds that, "Instead of pursuing the arsonists, local Christians said police have asked questions about who funded the church building, how many Kyrgyz are members, and why, as ethnic Muslims, they do not go to the local mosque."
Kenya: Muslim students beat and stabbed their Christian counterparts for refusing to convert to Islam at Nairobi's Jamhuri High School. Hostilities began when Muslim students complained of discrimination. This prompted school officials to designate separate bathrooms and sections in the library for Christians and Muslims. It was not long, however, before the Muslim students began defaming Christianity and pressuring Christians to recite the shahada, the Islamic proclamation of faith, and to uphold Muslim rituals. "Some Muslim students forcefully tried to induct Christian students into their Islam faith, and those who refused were knifed, while others were physically beaten," a local source said. "The knives and machetes used are alleged to have come from outside the school." At least 35 students — including some Muslims, as the Christians did defend themselves — were injured in the melee. Some Christian students received hospital treatment for stab wounds and other injuries; the principal was also injured. The school was subsequently closed indefinitely.
Uganda: A Christian widow was poisoned by her Muslim neighbors on Christmas Day. Earlier that morning, the mother of five was pleasantly surprised when two female Muslim neighbors visited her with food gifts. After they left, she began preparing lunch for her family and used some of the recently brought ingredients. Before serving her family, she tasted the meal and within minutes, was vomiting. "When she started screaming and was continuously vomiting, I called in a taxi and rushed her to Kabuna dispensary, where it was found that she had been poisoned," a family member said. She was treated and discharged from the hospital the next day. An analysis of the food items gifted her were revealed to contain poison. A local meeting was convened and the Muslim neighbor, on being question, confessed to poisoning the food. "Accused of intending to kill Madina and her family members," the reports notes, "Hajira asked for forgiveness, saying that since Madina's family left Islam two years ago, the loudness of their weekly worship at their house with some other church members had been disturbing her and other Muslim neighbors." Despite the attempted murder of the apostates, "village leaders made no legal decisions.
Police have not been called, apparently in order to keep tensions with the Muslim community from escalating, but the in-law [of Madina] said Muslim neighbors have started taunting Madina's children by calling them infidels."
In a separate account, according to one report, Munabi Abdullah, a 37-year-old Muslim man who embraced Christianity, was met with ostracism. On the evening of his conversion, and "with an irrepressible joy in his heart, he shared his experience with his wife, Aisha Namukoli. She became furious." In the convert's own words, "My wife shouted at me in front of the children, saying, 'Kafir, Kafir [infidel]! You are a big shame to the family.' She then pushed me out of the house." Later when he returned, he found several people including his father and mosque members at his house. When he tried to greet them, they silently and angrily stared at him; then his father stood up and said, "You are no longer my son, be cursed forever." "He hit me with a walking stick that was in his hand and hurt my left hand," Abdullah explains. "I managed to escape through a banana farm, and after a short while I was at the pastor's house" where he sought refuge. Local Muslim leaders have since prevented him from having any access to his wife and seven children, aged between 3 and 17.
Nigeria: To coerce, it appears, a Christian woman, 40, and her daughter 21, to convert to Islam, local Muslims falsely accused the two of kidnapping another family member, a child. Problems had begun soon after the husband/father of the family converted to Islam in order to obtain a government job. Amina Isa, his wife, explained: "They told him that he cannot be appointed as a ward head because he's a Christian, and that if he converts to Islam, he'll be appointed the ward head. I advised him against changing his religious faith for worldly position, but after much pressure from Muslims in our area, he succumbed to the demand and became a Muslim.... I reminded him that he should remember that all my family members are Muslims, but that I am the only Christian in that family, and that I married him because he was a Christian like me, so I cannot now convert to Islam simply because the Muslims have appointed him a ward head." Her five children also refused to convert and insisted on remaining Christian. She continues:
Because of their refusal to convert too, we have been threatened, beaten, and subjected to all forms of indignities by my husband and his Muslim collaborators. They've [her children] constantly been threatened, beaten, and harassed. In fact, at one time, [the oldest daughter] had to take her younger siblings and go into hiding, but both have been traced and captured by the officials and are currently being held against their will in a location undisclosed to me.... Right now, my daughters are in the custody of these Muslim officials and are being forced into Islam, while at the same time, we are being tried on false charges. All this is to force us to recant. We can never stop being Christians, and we are confident that the God we serve can never abandon us in our trying moments.
After the father forcibly enrolled his youngest daughter in an Islamic school, and her mother and older sister removed her and re-enrolled her in a Christian school, "Their father, in anger, came to me demanding for both girls. When I told him that the children have decided to remain as Christians, he and other Muslim officials in our village went to file charges against me on abducting my own children at the Magistrate Court in Tudun Wada town, a trial I'm still facing for refusing to change my religious faith. They summoned me and demanded I withdraw my daughter from the Christian school, bring her back to the village, and hand her over to them. Since I was helpless, I did as instructed by them and brought my daughter back to them."
Separately "Pastor Simput Eagles Dafup has been arrested and whisked away to an unknown destination ... for allegedly converting a Muslim girl to a Christian, in Plateau State," a report disclosed. Speaking of this incident, another pastor, Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa, and executive director of Voice of Northern Christian Movement, said: "Nigeria security has declared war against Christians in this country." He also accused the Nigerian government of treating Christians and Muslims differently: "Muslims have abducted 100 Christian girls under the age of 18 and forcefully converted them to Islam and we have reported to several security agencies but no arrest was made or return of Christian girls to their parents.... The abduction of Christian girls has continued unabated. Such scenarios are serious cases of injustice against Christians in the country, and the perpetrators have often gone Scott free."
European Union/Switzerland: While uncritically taking in and conferring refugee status on countless Muslim migrants, European authorities continued singling out those most in need of sanctuary for deportation. In one instance, a Christian legal group filed an expert brief with the European Court of Human Rights in support of a Muslim man from Afghanistan who converted to Christianity and who risked being deported from Switzerland. The group, known as ADF International, said the man, if forced back to Afghanistan, would as an apostate from Islam face immense persecution, possibly including death: "Afghanistan is not a safe place for a Christian convert," it said. "The Court should ask Switzerland to stop turning a blind eye to the situation of religious minorities in Afghanistan.... This means much more than demanding a convert practice his faith in secret. Sending a refugee back to a country where they face persecution because of their faith is incompatible with the Convention."
The Christian legal group ADF International filed an expert brief with the European Court of Human Rights in support of a Muslim man from Afghanistan who converted to Christianity and who risked being deported from Switzerland. Afghanistan is not a safe place for a Christian convert," it said. "The Court should ask Switzerland to stop turning a blind eye to the situation of religious minorities in Afghanistan..." (Image source: Adrian Grycuk/Wikimedia Commons)
Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by Muslim extremists is growing. The report posits that such Muslim persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location.
© 2018 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.

Rouhani’s chance to save the nuclear deal

Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/August 05/18
Negotiating as an option to resolve the political and security crisis between the United States and Iran, put forward by President Donald Trump without any preconditions, shocked everyone, nevertheless it came according to secret data, information and letters, as Abdulrahman Al-Rashed underlined in his article “Trump’s surprise: Negotiating with Rouhani,” especially since Omani mediators are most likely acting behind curtains for fear of the deterioration of security which can affect the stability of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
Strict terms
As much as some observers and political analysts worry about the possibility of a relative Iranian-American rapprochement, the dialogue between the two countries will fall within the interests of the Middle East and its stability, and it will certainly be according to terms that are much stricter than those adopted under President Barack Obama. Saudi Arabia is not against resolving the present problems with Iran; nevertheless it wants Iran to stop meddling in internal affairs of other countries and stop financing armed militias.
The Gulf States will not be the losing party in this dialogue. The Saudi kingdom and the UAE in particular are capable of coordinating with the United States to protect their national interests. The two countries also have enough diplomatic tools that make it possible for them to create a balance with Tehran and to have an influential word. The conflict with Iran is not an inevitable destiny, and the Gulf States are not fond of war. Therefore, if it is possible to achieve the interests, security and stability of the region through serious and transparent dialogue and as long as it’s not a time-wasting dialogue that’s full of empty promises, then this will have a positive effect on the stability and development of the Gulf with its two sides.
Avoiding military confrontation
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in March 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman clearly stated: “We have to succeed so as to avoid military conflict. If we don’t succeed in what we are trying to do, we will likely have war with Iran in 10-15 years.”
The Kingdom is not against resolving the present problems with Iran; nevertheless it wants Iran to stop meddling in internal affairs of other countries, stop financing armed militias and not threaten the borders by supporting the launch of ballistic missiles into the kingdom from Yemen. As such, the Kingdom is working to stop any slippage that could result in a direct confrontation between the two parties. The financial drainage, the Sunni-Shiite conflict, terrorist organizations and the spread of extremist ideology are all difficult problems that would be easier to solve if an Iranian-American-Gulf dialogue is fruitful in accordance to a clear roadmap that fulfills everyone’s interests, builds a regional safety net, promotes trust and strengthens relations between the concerned countries.
It is true that the dialogue may not work, and it will be very difficult and challenging, but it is the best available political option. If President Hassan Rouhani convinces
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards of the importance of responding to President Trump's invitation and if they succeed in agreeing with him, he will have fulfilled an achievement that allows Iran to mitigate its revolutionary burden, even if it is according to the Chinese way. It will also help Iran integrate with its surroundings; otherwise, Iran will face difficult domestic problems and great external pressure that may lead to the worst!

Saudi Arabia’s foreign files: No to toppling Iran’s Islamism
Fares bin Hezam/Al Arabiya/August 05/18
In the last decade of the shah’s rule in Iran, the Gulf's unrest had reached its end. When protests heightened in most cities, happiness was apparent on the face of the Gulf. Khomeini was victorious in his return, and after weeks, he was able to rule his country.
The Gulf’s joy at the end of the “Gulf’s policeman” pushed a country to quickly acknowledge the new ruler and congratulate him. The Abadan Refinery was not working, as a result of protests and strikes, so Saudi Arabia rushed to fill the gap by sending oil to Iran to facilitate everyday life. There were no well-intended Gulf initiatives more than those at the beginning of the Khomeini era. But one page in the constitution which he imposed on the country in nine months ended everything. Khomeini’s constitution explicitly stipulated the exporting of his revolution to brotherly states, and this is where the problem began, not when the Gulf stood by Iraq in the war, like Iran and the rest of the world imagined, which preceded the constitution that came as a declaration of war.With the increase in protests and anticipation over massive American sanctions, we must agree that the Iranian regime is strong in its cohesion and cruelty. It lived and strengthened itself through four decades of problems and sanctions
The Iranian model
The well-intended initiatives by Saudi Arabia did not stop, and President Rouhani himself was a major part of improving them when he was the interior minister during Khatami’s presidency. Since the end of its war with Iraq, the relationship between Riyadh and Tehran went through some positive stages but this did not end in the wanted outcome to support the stability of the Gulf, and push relations to a higher level. With the increase in protests and anticipation over massive American sanctions, we must agree that the Iranian regime is strong in its cohesion and cruelty. It lived and strengthened itself through four decades of problems and sanctions, and absorbed tens of major demonstrations. In our modern times, we have seen it survive the 2009 revolution and rising protests this year. What Khamenei is living today is the same as what the shah lived in his last years as a ruler. Nine years of tension, protests and strikes. This does not mean the quick collapse of the regime, but maybe a change in how it looks. This is what happened with the shah, the government’s institutions remained, and Khomeini added to them other judicial and military institutions.
The Iranian regime’s model is embodied in a man who is obsessed with the illusion of a Godly power, leading extremist men of religion and reckless commanders. This model aspires to bring back a scattered empire which ruled large areas many centuries ago, like the case of the Ottoman caliphate. It extended north and east in Azerbaijan, Caucasus and parts on India before falling apart when faced with the expansion of the British and Russian empires, and going back to the model we knew with the shah.
Today, Saudi Arabia watches what’s happening in Iran from the other Gulf bank. There is an opinion that I support which rejects the toppling of the regime, as I believe that what’s best for the Arab Gulf at this stage lies in keeping an Islamic system in Iran, which stops its expansionist programs and makes it focus on itself. The danger of the collapse of the regime of a country where 80 million people reside will exceed imagination, and the big burden will lie on Gulf countries when they find themselves facing waves of immigrants swimming across gulf waters and entering through hundreds of kilometers from the borders with Iraq. Also, a liberal system in Iran will turn it into the world’s hub in the Middle East at the expense of Gulf states.

The truth on the Jewish Nation-state law controversy

Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/August 05/18
Many Israeli Jews who consider themselves leftists are as culpable for Israel’s racism and apartheid as the right.
But while right-wing and far-right Israelis are explicit in their undemocratic, narrow-minded and racist views, left-wing parties persist in their self-delusion. Israel’s newest ‘basic law’ – the Jewish Nation-state law - further exposed this reality as soon as it was approved by the Israeli Knesset (parliament) on July 19.For weeks, many on the left have been screaming foul, mourning the death of Israeli democracy, decrying the good old days when Israel was a truly equitable society, only to be spoiled years later by a right-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel's incoming opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, known among Palestinians for her devastating war on Gaza in 2008-09 - for which she stands accused of war crimes - is joining the chorus of those condemning the Jewish Nation-state law.
Another protesting voice is the head of the left-wing Meretz party, Tamar Zandberg. Meretz is in fact petitioning the High Court of Justice against the law calling it "an act of sabotage against Israeli law that replaced equality with racism."
However, neither Livni, Zandberg, nor the many Israeli Jews who have criticized the law are rejecting it for the right reasons. While media reports often speak of an alleged ongoing 'controversy' in Israel regarding the law, this controversy is miscomprehended.
Take Livni's objection to the new law as an example. Livni does not object to the notion of Jewish superiority. In fact, there is nothing in the text itself that she finds offensive. She made that clear, insisting that Israel is indeed "the national home of the Jewish people". Her discontent is the omission of a stipulation that ensures Israel's commitment to "equality for all its citizens."
Livni merely wants to prolong a lie that has subsisted for decades. She wants a country in which Jews are superior, yet equal, where Israel is Jewish, yet democratic.
The leader of Meretz too is hoping for a return to the same grand illusion. The party argues that the new law is not constitutional since it contradicts a previous basic law: Human Dignity and Liberty, passed in 1992.
Thus, Meretz believes that Israel was indeed a democratic state that respected the liberty and human dignity of all of its citizens, prior to July 19, 2018. According to that view, everything that took place prior to that date - the institutional racism, the Apartheid regime, wars and ethnic cleansing targeting non-Jews - were acceptable components of a democratic system that could have existed for many years more.
Breathing life in an old facade
While Israel's right has no qualms with its racism and its sense of Jewish racial superiority over everyone else, the left in Israel is still desperately breathing life in an old facade created by the founders of Israel as early as May 1948.
However, the new law does, in fact, end the decade-long wrangle on whether Israel can be both Jewish and democratic at the same time.
The Jewish Nation-state law is the last nail in the coffin - those who insist on supporting Israel must know that they are supporting an unabashed Apartheid regime.
Israeli intellectual, Omri Boehm, joined a growing number of academics arguing that the balancing act is over. In an article in the New York Times, Boehm wrote, "What was long suspected has finally been made brutally clear: Israel cannot be both a Jewish state and a liberal democracy."
The Jewish Nation-state law is the last nail in the coffin - those who insist on supporting Israel must know that they are supporting an unabashed Apartheid regime.
References to the Jewish identity of the state in the text are ample and dominant, with the clear exclusion of the Palestinian people from their rights in their historic homeland:
- “The state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people ...
- “The actualization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.
- “The state will labor to ensure the safety of sons of the Jewish people …
- “The state will act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious legacy of the Jewish people among the Jewish diaspora”, and so on.
Most dangerous of all is the stipulation that "the state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development."
Illegal Jewish settlements already dot Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and a de facto segregation already exists in Israel itself. In fact, segregation is so deeply entrenched that even maternity wards in Israeli hospitals separate between mothers, based on ethnicity.
The above stipulation, however, will further accelerate segregation and cement apartheid, making the harm not merely intellectual and political, but also physical.
The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, has documented in its 'Discriminatory Laws Database', a list of over 65 Israeli laws that "discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens in Israel and/or Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on the basis of their national belonging". According to Adalah, "These laws limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights, and due process rights during detention."
While it would be accurate to argue that the Jewish Nation-state law is the officiation of apartheid in Israel, this realization should not dismiss the previous reality upon which Israel was founded 70 years ago.
Apartheid is not a single law but a slow, agonizing build-up of an intricate legal regime that is motivated by the belief that one racial group is superior to all others.
Not only does the new law elevate Israel's Jewish identity and erase any commitment to democracy, it also downgrades the status of all others. Palestinian Arabs, the natives of the land of historic Palestine upon which Israel was established, are reduced to a mere stipulation made to the Arabic language, downgrading it from being an official language, to a 'special one.'
Israel’s decision to refrain from formulating a written constitution when it was founded in 1948 was not a random one. Since then, it has been following a predictable model by which it would alter reality on the ground to the advantage of Jews, at the expense of Palestinian Arabs.
Instead of a constitution, Israel resorted to what it termed ‘Basic Laws’, which allowed for the constant formulation of new laws guided by the ‘Jewish State’s’ commitment to racial supremacy, rather than to democracy, international law, human rights or any other ethical value.
And with its latest racist law, Israel has dropped the meaningless claim to being both Jewish and democratic. This impossible task was often left to the Supreme Court which tried, but failed, to strike any convincing balance.
This new reality should, once and for all, end the protracted debate on the supposed uniqueness of Israel's political system.
Furthermore, since Israel has chosen racial supremacy over any claim, however faint, to real democracy, western countries that have often shielded Israel must also make a choice on whether they wish to support an Apartheid regime or fight against it.
The EU must end its feeble political discourse and disengage from Apartheid Israel, or it has to accept the moral, ethical and legal consequences of being an accomplice in Israeli crimes against Palestinians.
Israel has made its choice and it is, unmistakably, the wrong one. The rest of the world must now make its choice too, and hopefully, the right one - standing on the right side of history: against Israeli Jewish Apartheid and in favor of Palestinian rights.

August 6: The End of the War of Words
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 05/18
When the clock strikes midnight tonight, the war of words between Washington and Tehran will be replaced by sanctions against the Iranian regime. Tehran will find itself in a familiar position at a strategic crossroads in its ties with the United States and world. The regime’s responses to the sanctions have proven ineffective as the American strategy begins its implementation phase. Iran’s options to ease its major economic crisis have also been dwindling. The first phase of US sanctions will target Iranian trade dealings in the auto market, which is a vital sector for the country’s economy. Other sanctions will also bar Tehran from purchasing or acquiring US dollars. The second phase of the sanctions will take effect in November.
They will target Iran’s crude oil, which makes up a two-thirds of its exports. Should these sanctions be imposed, then Iran’s economy will no doubt be left in tatters. Prices in the country had already gone up before the sanctions were re-imposed. The rial also dropped to record lows and more western companies have announced that they will quit doing business with Iran. Despite these record sanctions and escalation of rhetoric by Iranian officials, a war between Tehran and Washington does not necessarily seem imminent. Trump’s administration is only focusing on economic pressure, not military measures. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had stated on July 22 when declaring the sanctions that American military force was not the way to halt Iran’s reckless behavior. The American sanctions will therefore, likely leave the decision-makers in Iran in the same predicament whereby they will not be able to retaliate in kind to the US pressure.
They will instead have to rein in their temper to prevent Europe from following the American lead and side against them. In most of the times that Tehran opted for the hostile course, it soon went back on it, preferring not to expose the stability of its regime to any danger. The Iranian regime knows full well that any military provocation may spark the ire of Donald Trump’s American administration and make it retaliate in kind. No one is therefore expecting the Iranians to make direct and immediate retaliations to the American pressure. This, however, will not prevent them from turning to their militias and pawns in the region, their only known strong point and source of indirect confrontation. Ties between the US and Iran have reached much lower points in the past 39 years.
At each low point, the Iranians have used the room that was given to them, away from all threats that they are good at making. For example, in the past, they used to arrest one or two American citizens per year. However, the last time Tehran made such an arrest was in August 2016. Moreover, Iran has not made a medium-range rocket test since July 2017. It also has not harassed American naval vessels in the Arab Gulf since August last year. The economic sanctions are indeed capable of exhausting the regime or perhaps even breaking it. The regime will only fulfill its military threats under one condition: When it feels that its collapse is near.

Analysis/Nation-state Law Protest Is About Israel's Identity – Not Equality
كارولين لندزمن من الهآررتس: الإحتجاجات ضد قانون يهودية دولة إسرائيل هي حول هوية إسرائيل وليس المساواة

Carolina Landsmann/Haaretyz/August 05/18
The new law denies Israeliness and thus excludes Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, while opening a Pandora’s box containing the ancient question of who is a Jew
“Thank you, my Israeli brothers and sisters.” With these words, Druze protest leader Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Assad began his speech in Rabin Square on Saturday night, before an emotional crowd of tens of thousands who had come to identify with his community.
Echoing throughout the remarks of all the speakers and providing the only possible explanation for what was common to everyone in the square was the word “Israeli.” In this sense, the nation-state law will achieve the exact opposite of what was intended: Instead of enshrining Jewish nationhood in law, it has laid the groundwork for the just demand to change it into Israeli nationhood. Anyone who doesn’t believe that wasn’t on hand at the demonstration.
From the point of view of the right wing, the nation-state law is aimed at dispelling the fear that Jews will become a minority in their own country, that Israel will change unrecognizably and stop being the state in which they can and would want to reside – and worse, that it will stop being a haven for the Jewish people in case of a future Holocaust. Moreover, the law is intended to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. The right wing wants the public to believe that the nation-state law is the final word.
Because it’s hard to believe that the right wing is so innocent as to think that a future scenario of historic proportions can be prevented by the nation-state law, the left in its criticism has jumped a few steps forward and sees the legislation as a constitutional cornerstone for an apartheid regime. This is the only kind of regime that will be able, at least for the time being – by means of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service and a powerful police force – to maintain Jewish control in a situation where the country loses its Jewish majority.
Thus, from the perspective of the left, the nation-state law is not the last word, it’s the first word. And so the debate between right and left is not over the principle of equality, but rather over Israel’s identity. The right wing is prepared to sacrifice equality on the altar of preserving Israel’s identity as it is today, whereas opponents of the law believe that in sacrificing equality, Israel is losing its identity.
This is precisely the way Benjamin Netanyahu wants people: in a permanent state of panic. The nation-state law is another of the traps the prime minister is so expert at setting. While playing on fears of anti-Semitism and holocaust, and by means of unbridled incitement against the Arabs, Netanyahu has trapped the Israeli public in a seemingly insoluble, existential paradox – as if we must choose between two types of suicide.
We must not forget that this is a diversionary tactic. The main reason Israeli society is crumbling into tribes is the occupation and the fact this country is controlling another people. The only way to save Israel from a domestic collapse is by making peace with the Palestinians, returning the territories and establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In turn, all the internal tensions in Israeli society – including those between Arabs and Jews – would return to normal proportions and it would be possible to find a political solution for them, from the moment the monster of the occupation is defeated.
After the occupation is over, Israel will be able to formulate a constitution with a broad consensus, without it being at the expense of one community or another, or one against the other.
Ostensibly, the new legislation was to have circumvented the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a condition for negotiations. So the Palestinians insist on merely recognizing the State of Israel, do they? We’ll outsmart them: We’ll enact a law that states that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and that way recognition of Israel will entail recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.