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Netanyahu, in Speech to Rome's Jews, Insists He `Won't Be Silent' on Iran

By The Times of Israel

Israel will not stand silent as its security is compromised and will take action to dispel any threat leveled against the state, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday. Speaking at the Great Synagogue in Rome, Netanyahu shot back at critics of his policies, and said that he was concerned more with Israel's safety than with his public image.

"In contrast to others, when I see that interests vital to the security of Israel's citizens are in danger, I will not be silent," the prime minister said. "I am committed to the future of my state and in contrast to periods in the past, we have a loud and clear voice among the nations and we will sound it in time in order to warn of the danger."

These remarks were apparently directed at his predecessor Ehud Olmert, who earlier Sunday slammed Netanyahu's public feuding with the US over the best way to thwart Iran's nuclear weapons drive.

Netanyahu went on to directly address Iran's nuclear program, and said that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the Islamic Republic would not only endanger Israel, but the entire Middle East. "I would like to dispel any illusions. Iran aspires to attain an atomic bomb," he said, adding that Tehran was also spreading violence across the region. "Today there is a regime in Iran that supports terrorism, facilitates the massacre of civilians in Syria and unceasingly arms its proxies – Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad – with deadly missiles."

Netanyahu concluded his remarks by stressing that the lifting of sanctions on Tehran would pave the way for the Islamist regime in Tehran to produce nuclear weapons. "As we have warned, and I say this with regret, the sanctions have started to weaken and very quickly," the prime minister said. "If tangible steps are not taken soon, [the sanctions pressure] is liable to collapse and the efforts of years will vanish without anything in exchange."

Netanyahu left Israel Sunday morning for a working trip to Rome, where he is also expected to meet with Pope Francis.

Netanyahu has publicly savaged the Geneva interim accord with Iran, signed early last week, as a "historic mistake." Officials in Jerusalem have repeatedly castigated President Barack Obama for overseeing a failed negotiating process with Iran under which, they claim, Iran's nuclear weapons drive is not being thwarted while the sanctions pressure against Iran is collapsing.

Earlier Sunday, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched a bitter attack against his successor, Netanyahu, for his "utterly misguided" and "dangerous" policy of publicly confronting the United States over its Iran policy. "We've declared war on the American government. You can't deny this," Olmert said at panel discussion at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Olmert also accused Netanyahu of "wasting" 10 billion shekels — some $2.8 billion — preparing "something we didn't need to prepare." This was an apparent reference to a potential Israeli strike on Iran. "There is one country in the world that regularly votes in favor of the State of Israel at the United Nations over all those years, in cases in which we were 100% correct and in cases when we perhaps weren't 100% correct," Olmert added.

Netanyahu Orders Mossad to Expose Iranian Breaches of Interim Deal

By The Times of Israel

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has instructed the heads of Israel's intelligence community to look for proof that Iran is violating an interim deal signed with the international community last week over its nuclear program, a British newspaper reported on Sunday. The Israeli spying effort to expose Iranian duplicity represents a direct challenge to President Barack Obama's efforts, it said.

Mossad, as well as the IDF's Military Intelligence Directorate, have been told to dig up evidence of Iranian duplicity ahead of Obama's push to win support for the deal in Congress and thus head off legislators' demands for further sanctions against Iran, the Sunday Times reported, citing Israeli defense sources. "Everyone has his own view regarding the Geneva agreement," an Israeli intelligence source was quoted as saying. "But it is clear that if a smoking gun is produced, it will tumble like a house of cards."

If Israel does produce evidence that Iran is flouting its deal with the world powers, the agreement could prove a tough sell for Obama in Congress.

The Israeli search for evidence of Iranian subterfuge will focus on three aspects of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program — secret enrichment sites such as Fordo, which the Iranians hid under a mountain in the holy city of Qom; ballistic missile production; and attempts to design and construct a bomb — the Sunday Times report said, citing unnamed Israeli defense sources. "If Israel gets its way, what Netanyahu described as a `historic mistake' will soon be exposed as a sham, the report said.

Representatives of Iran and the P5+1 nations are to meet in Geneva this week to discuss unresolved aspects of the agreement, which was sealed early last Sunday in the Swiss city after a weekend of intensive negotiations. A solid majority of Americans supports the deal, according to a recent Reuters poll.

Israeli officials at the weekend denounced Obama for presiding over the negotiations, which they said granted the Islamic Republic the right to enrich uranium and was rapidly eroding the sanctions regime against Tehran. That elaborate wall of sanctions, painstakingly constructed over years, is already crumbling and "will collapse within months," the unidentified officials were quoted as saying by Israel's Channel 2.

Publicly, Netanyahu has slammed the Geneva deal as a "historic mistake," said Israel is not bound by it, and vowed to thwart Iran's nuclear weapons drive alone if necessary. In a phone conversation with Obama last Sunday, Netanyahu agreed to send a team led by his national security adviser to Washington to try to impact world powers' upcoming efforts to reach a permanent accord to thwart Iran's alleged nuclear weapons drive.

Privately, the unidentified officials were quoted as indicating, Jerusalem is feeling a bitter, dismayed and helpless sense of "we told you so." Claiming that officials and businesspeople from around the world — notably including China, Turkey, France, Russia and India — are already converging on Iran, ready to resume large-scale oil, banking and all manner of other business dealings as sanctions are eased in the wake the Geneva deal, the officials reportedly said that Israel knew the sanctions pressure would collapse, "but even we didn't imagine it would happen this fast."

The State Department has acknowledged that Iran is currently enjoying a "window" of time before the six-month interim deal takes effect, during which it is not bound to take any credible steps toward disabling its ability to produce a nuclear weapon. The terms of the deal, which are still being worked out, will only kick in come January.

According to a source in the Obama administration quoted by The New York Times Saturday, "If there's any evidence of some secret nuclear site the Iranians forgot to [mention], this is over."

International Relations 101: Reading the Message. Looking at Facts.

By Ira Sharkansky (Commentary)

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2014 as the year of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Is this just another bit of UN blather, one of 21 resolutions passed so far against Israel this year, while only four resolutions condemned activities in all the other countries of the world? Or does it portend 12 months of festivities on campuses, in union halls, liberal churches and other places susceptible to the nonsense that Palestine deserves more help than anything else? It would be easier to ignore if Barack Obama and John Kerry were not part of the chorus.

The US was one of four western states along with Israel, Canada, and Australia voting against the resolution, but there remain all those flaws in the agreement with Iran, and the America's own obsession with Palestine. Perhaps it would not be too offensive to provide a lesson, suitable to an introductory course in international relations.

Point one: Some of the messages conveyed say more than the words. Subtlety is part of the craft. Point two: It is helpful to gather facts, trying to be independent of prevailing sentiments. Much of that sentiment may be nothing more than lip service to what is fashionable, having little to do with what is actually happening.

Now some details. Binyamin Netanyahu may have said that he favors a two-state solution, but that is not all that he has said. He has spoken at least as often about the need for Palestinians to emerge from their isolation and recognize what is alongside of them. They must accept Israel, its Jewish character, what it provides to its non-Jewish and Jewish citizens (i.e., far more than provided by any other Middle Eastern country), and that it has expanded--legitimately--over the course of five decades marked by Palestinian rejection and violence.

A recent article in The Guardian considers Netanyahu's standing in Israel and abroad. The writer agrees with other observers that he has made something of a nuisance of himself with other government heads desperate to do business with Iran, but that he has considerable support within Israel.

Some of those claiming to look after Israel's best interest compare the country to Nazi Germany and use the term lebensraum to describe its policy in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank. They will not be part of the conversation.

Likewise those who worship at the altar of Obama and Kerry, and swear that they could not be so materialistic as to allow a desire for business to influence US posture toward Iran. Such simpletons should be noting the media of recent days, describing the efforts of Indian, Russian, and western companies doing what they can to reach the front of the line to talk deals with Iranian counterparts.

Those who cannot read or listen will pay for their limitations. John Kerry says he's coming here (to Israel) next week. We won't know what he says, if indeed, he actually makes this trip. However, the betting is that ignoring Israel on Iran will hurt his aspirations about Palestine. As reported in The Guardian, " 'The Palestinian issue is the big casualty of this deal,' Bruce Riedel, of the Brookings Institution in Washington, told the New York Times. 'Now that they have an Iran deal, over the strong objections of Israel, it's going to be very hard to persuade Netanyahu to do something on the Palestinian front.' "

Israelis are ratcheting up their antipathy toward Obama, Kerry, and the advisers close to them. It is clear that they do not sympathize with Israeli positions on Iran or Palestine, and may not understand them. They appear to be innocent of the Middle East, and the many features of Islam, extended families, and political movements that are not like anything in Chicago or Boston.

The Jews of Israel may be better than the goyim, or the Jews of America, at reading what others say and do. They have more than two millennia of dependence on others, without having the skills washed out of them by several generations in a friendly place. Calling us racist, paranoid, or fearful to give peace a chance does not bring Netanyahu and his constituency any closer to what Obama or Kerry wants to hear.

Subtlety is more a part of Netanyahu's skill than that shown by the Americans he has to deal with. He is working to keep us apart, getting some things from the US but not everything, letting the US get some things from him, but not all that it wants. Along with his Foreign Minister, he will express his fatigue with American aspirations by shopping around for support elsewhere where they can find it, but not risk disaster by overtly rejecting American leadership.

His constituency never has to wait more than a day or two for yet another reminder that its neighbors are not anxious to live in peace. The label "collateral damage" does not fit the casualties of Palestinian violence. Civilian casualties are not unwanted by-products of what the Palestinians do. They almost always aim at civilians, like the two-year old who suffered head injuries last week as a result of stones thrown at her family's car in a neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The same day there was a riot outside a Haifa courthouse, when the judges gave a light sentence of several months to two years for several Israeli Arabs who murdered an Israeli soldier, then postponed the implementation of the sentence to give attorneys for the men several months to prepare an appeal.

The soldier was himself a terrorist who had turned his gun on the Arab passengers in the bus he was riding. He was presumably intent on killing Arabs in response to something that had set him off. When he was killed, he had already been subdued and handcuffed by the police, who were overwhelmed by a wild mob intent on instant and complete revenge. The light sentences reflected the complexity of the crime, but any sentence was too much for the Arabs who rioted against what they described as the distortions of Israeli justice.

Those wanting more confirmation of the nastiness we live with should take another look at the awards given by the leaders of Palestine to the prisoners who had been convicted for murdering civilians, but released for the sake of getting the Palestinians to participate in the negotiations wanted so much by Barack Obama and John Kerry. It should be no surprise that those negotiations aren't going anywhere.

Israelis appear to be in a small minority who are not convinced that the Palestinians deserve special treatment. It has long been clear that the majority of UN members act otherwise. It is disappointing, but not all that surprising how much it takes to convince the leadership of the EU and the US to share the Israeli view of its neighbors.

The majority of Israelis, along with the Prime Minister, say that they support a Palestinian state. However, they also say that it depends on some obvious accommodations from the Palestinians. It may take a long time for them to be ready, seemingly beyond the time likely to be allotted to any of those currently engaged in the process or watching from the sidelines.

Those who are firmly in the Palestinian narrative, yet wonder why the Israelis are not also there, should consider playing in a different sandbox.

(Ira Sharkansky, Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

Al-Qaeda-Linked Group: We've Entered 'West Bank'


Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen Aknaf Bayt Al-Makdas, or Holy Warriors' Assembly in the Jerusalem Region, which is identified with Al Qaeda, has announced that it has infiltrated Judea and Samaria as part of its war against "the Jews," Christians, infidels and the Palestinian Authority.

The group said in a published statement that the three men eliminated last Tuesday by the IDF near Hebron – Muhammad Nayruh, Mahmoud Al-Najar and Muhammad Pansha, had belonged to the organization and were killed "in an ambush by the Jewish infidels who received information from the agents of the Palestinian Authority."

The organization further explained: "We are not fighting for a piece of land, or for borders determined by the cross (the western nations), on which it placed the dogs (the Jews) as guards; we are fighting so that the word of Allah shall be supreme and the word of tyranny be brought down to the lowest level.

"The jihad is in force until the Judgment Day...the jihad against the tyrants of the Palestinian Authority is legitimate, because they agreed with the infidels of the world, including the Jews, the Christians and others, to make war on the jihad and turn in the mujahedeen to the enemies.

"The path of the salafist jihad has reached the [West] Bank... the path of the global jihad has made its home on the [West] Bank... We stand before an open war against the Muslims of the [West] Bank... killing, imprisonment, land expropriation, demolition of homes, defiling of the holy places and more... Onward, sons of Islam, on the land of the [West] Bank... rise up and fight the enemies of religion, including the infidel Jews, the hypocritical agents and those who are loyal to them...

"They must learn, that the salafist jihad brings with it people who love death as you love life and power and control, and they seek to die a death of sacrifice in the path of Allah, just as you seek the passions and the salaries and the ranks..."

The Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen has branches in Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, and the terror attacks it has launched against Israel were carried out from those areas. These included rocket attacks and sending trained terror cells to carry out terror attacks inside Israel. Citizens of Arab countries took part in some of these attacks.

Former Intelligence Agent Discovers Jews in Mass `Christian' Graves

By The Times of Israel

MIEDZNA, Poland — In a small cemetery in the Polish village of Kszonzenice in 2004, fledgling guide and former secret service agent Yaki Gantz's two worlds collided when he found a mass grave with 45 anonymous numbers written on a gravestone.

After a short investigation he discovered that following a nearby mass murder in 1945, the local priest had gathered the 45 unidentified bodies and copied the numbers he found on their arms, which were carved on the gravestone.

Gantz turned to Yad Vashem and in a joint effort they were able to identity 19 of the Jewish victims buried in the mass grave. Since then, Gantz has taken on the mission of uncovering more mass graves of Jews, mostly those who did not survive the death marches in the final days of the Holocaust, and were buried by local citizens in Christian cemeteries.

After more than a hundred trips to Poland, Gantz admits each journey becomes more difficult for him. "In every journey you discover more and more new details and the question of how it all happened only intensifies," he says.

Gantz, 64, was born in Rehovot, Israel. Most of his adult life was spent working for the Israeli secret service, but shortly after his retirement, he decided to become a certified travel guide. Gantz specializes in groups travelling to Poland, initially youth groups, but currently retirees. Pensioners from the IDF and the Mossad, employees of several banks and other companies were part of recent groups Gantz has guided.

Most of these groups are aiding Gantz on his mission to recognize these unidentified Jews and properly memorialize their final resting places. And beginning with his initial 2004 discovery, the cooperation of the local Polish authorities has eased the bureaucratic hurdles he would otherwise face.

"After short negotiations with the local authorities I convinced them to let me put a new gravestone with the names of the Jewish victims. I told my friends from the Shabak [Shin Bet domestic Israeli intelligence service] about it and they agreed to help me to fund the project," says Gantz. "In May 2008, during one of the trips I guided, a group of Shabak agents stood in the middle of the Catholic cemetery and unveiled a monument with a Star of David and the names of the Jewish victims which I discovered with the help of Naama Galil from the Yad Vashem Institute," says Gantz.

Not long after, Gantz found a new mass grave in the cemetery of the small town of Swierklany Dolne, where he found a gravestone with 10 numbers and a big cross. When he started to explore with Yad Vashem who the victims behind those numbers were, he was stunned. One of the victims was a Catholic Pole while the nine others were Jews.

Gantz says that he managed to locate some of the victims' relatives, and when he informed them of the grave, many of them were shocked: For 70 years they had believed their family members were murdered and burned in the death camps. "One of the victims in the grave was Helena Pachifichi, who came from a very famous Italian-Jewish family who are currently leaders of the Jewish community in Rome. She was captured in Florence during World War II and transferred to Auschwitz. In 1945 she was forced to go on a death march, which she did not survive. Another victim was Roza Koblinski, who has relatives in Israel who were also shocked to hear that she was not murdered at Auschwitz," says Gantz.

For over 60 years a cross stood on the grave, and no one suspected nine Jewish women were buried there. A group from the Israeli airports authority agreed to sponsor a new gravestone.

The next ceremony took place in June 2011 in the city of Mszana. Gantz, with a delegation of Mossad retirees, placed a new gravestone on a mass grave of Jews who had died near the city during a death march. The mayor of the city was very supportive and published a brochure in three languages – Polish, Hebrew and English — telling the story of the mass grave and the new gravestone.

"We didn't have numbers, but we had a letter sent by a German officer to Auschwitz with names of the victims who were buried in a mass grave in the small city Brzeszcze. Together with a colleague, Gil Faran, we started to research. We gathered all the information on the victims and, with the sponsorship of Bezeq, we erected a monument with all the details of the victims which are buried there," says Gantz.

This past July, another ceremony was sponsored by the Bezeq phone company in the village of Miedzna. Gantz and Faran had found documents written by German officers in the Auschwitz archives detailing the 42 victims who were buried in the Catholic cemetery there — 29 women, the rest children.

Gantz, the local mayor, rabbi and priest, local citizens, and Eran Guron, executive vice president of Bezeq, attended the ceremony and unveiled the monument, depicting a Star of David and a cross side-by-side.

Gantz promises he will not cease his search for mass graves. It is his way of thanking the Polish citizens who buried the victims of the death marches regardless of their religion, he says. "It is amazing to see how many people helped the Jews then, and how many people want to help me now," says Gantz.

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