Newsletter : 18fx0124.txt
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Al-Qaeda Calls on Muslims to 'Rise and Attack Jews, Americans'
By AFP & JTA
A senior Al-Qaeda leader has called on Muslims "everywhere" to rise up and kill Jews
and Americans in response to President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as
In a video released Monday, Khalid Batarfi said Trump's decision was "a declaration of
a new Jewish-Crusader war" and every Muslim had a duty to "liberate" the holy city, the
SITE Intelligence monitoring group reported.
"No Muslim has the right to cede Jerusalem no matter what happens," said Batarfi, a top
commander with the group's powerful Yemen-based branch. "Only a traitor would give it up
or hand it over." "Let them [Muslims] rise and attack the Jews and the Americans
everywhere," he said, in the 18-minute video entitled "Our Duty Towards Our Jerusalem".
In the video, Batarfi dismissed US allies' protests as not genuine and "nothing but
dust thrown in the eyes. The greatest responsibility lies upon the Muslims in America and
the Western countries in the world," he said. "The Muslims inside the occupied land must
kill every Jew, by running him over, or stabbing him, or by using against him any weapon,
or by burning their homes."
Batarfi is a senior figure with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), described by
the US as the worldwide jihadist network's most dangerous branch. The group has abducted
foreigners and claimed responsibility for the deadly 2015 attack in Paris on French
satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, targeted for its cartoons of Mohammed.
Batarfi was placed on the U.S. State Department's list of global terrorists a day after
he called on Muslims to "attack the Jews and the Americans everywhere" in response to the
Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
According to the State Department announcement Tuesday. "This designation seeks to deny
Batarfi the resources he needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks." Among
the consequences of the designation, "all of Batarfi's property and interests in property
subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from
engaging in any transactions with him."
Poll: Deep Partisan Divide Among Americans Over Israel
By VOA News
The bitter divisions in the United States are being felt across the world in the Middle
East, where Israel is emerging as an increasingly partisan issue in the Trump era. A new
opinion poll released Tuesday showed U.S. Republicans to be far more supportive of Israel
than their Democratic counterparts. It also found Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a
close ally of President Donald Trump, to be a divisive figure.
The findings by the Pew Research Center could be a cause for concern for Israel, which
has traditionally relied on broad bipartisan support in America. "I think it's a very
concerning trend," said Sallai Meridor, who served as Israeli ambassador to the U.S. a
decade ago. "For Israel, the bipartisan support of the American people is a strategic
asset." The Pew survey questioned 1,503 people from January 10-15 and had a margin of
error of 2.9 percentage points.
He said the poll is "concerning and saddening" because the countries have so much in
common. "There are many reasons for Democrats to see in Israel a mirror of their deep
values and beliefs," he said, pointing to his country's commitment to free speech, a
universal health care system and its support for gay rights.
The poll, however, found a far different sentiment. It showed that 79% of Republicans
sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with just 27% of Democrats. It
said the partisan divide was the widest it has been since 1978, the earliest year it
provided for comparison. Just 49% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats sympathized with
Israel in 1978, Pew said.
Netanyahu also is seen through a partisan lens. Fifty-two percent of Republicans view
him favorably, compared to just 18% of Democrats. The survey did not analyze the reasons
for the partisan divide, but Netanyahu's close ties with Trump, a polarizing leader
beloved by his supporters and reviled by his opponents, appears to be a factor. That
friendship was on display during this week's warm reception for Vice President Mike Pence
in Israel. The share of liberal Democrats who sympathize more with Israel than the
Palestinians has plummeted from 33% to 19% since 2016 alone, the survey found.
Netanyahu's hard-liner policies toward the Palestinians, characterized by his strong
support for West Bank settlement construction and a four-year breakdown in negotiations,
may also be alienating Democrats. "America is terribly divided today and Israel is
perceived to be very close to a president that the other part of America is very much
against," Meridor said. "Over time I think it has its toll."
Meridor said Israel must be careful to reach out to all segments of American society.
He also suggested a serious peace push with the Palestinians would help. "I think it's
very important that we always make an effort to reach accommodation and peace with our
neighbors. It would help in maintaining more support among Democrats in America," he said,
declining to discuss specific Israeli policies.
In another sign of trouble for Israel, the survey said young people are more divided in
their sympathies, with 32% of people under 30 favoring Israel, and 23% sympathizing more
with the Palestinians. Respondents ages 50-64, for instance, favored Israel by a margin of
56% to 12%.
Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which sponsors educational
trips for Israeli politicians to meet American Jews, said the results were not surprising
given the deep divisions in American society. He said that with most American Jews
supporting the Democrats, Netanyahu's close alliance with Trump is risky. "It's not
playing well to the vast majority of Americans. I don't think it's playing well to the
vast majority of the Jewish community," he said.
With Trump facing midterm elections later this year, Ruderman said Netanyahu should be
hedging his bets. "That short-term alliance with Trump could have devastating effects," he
said. "Things could look very different at the end of this year." Netanyahu was traveling
on Tuesday and aides were not reachable for comment.
Marc Zell, chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel, said he too was concerned by the
partisan divide in the U.S., but rejected the idea that Netanyahu was responsible.
Instead, he claimed the Democratic Party has lost its way. "Israel should be concerned
about the fact that the Democratic Party has moved leftwards and is now adopting a lot of
radical positions," he said.
Abbas Fails to Garner European Support for `Palestine'
By World Israel News
Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas urged the European Union countries to
recognize the `State of Palestine' but failed to garner any substantial support.
In a joint press conference on Monday with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini
in Brussels, Abbas insisted that the only way to achieve peace between Israel and the
Palestinians is through negotiations "under international supervision. Notwithstanding the
ongoing incitement in the PA-administered territories and the PA's funding of terror,
Abbas reiterated what he described as his "commitment to fighting racism, violence, and
extremism, on a local, regional and international level despite any obstacles that might
get in the way of a political solution."
Abbas further called to implement the United Nations' Security Council and General
Assembly resolutions against Israel on the ground. He said the EU is "a true peace partner
in the region," calling on the EU countries to "swiftly" recognize the "State of
Palestine," a step which he claimed would not create an obstacle to peace negotiations.
"This would encourage the Palestinian people to keep hoping for peace and to wait until
peace is brought about," Abbas stated.
European diplomats and officials told AFP that recognition of Palestine is not an
option, that the EU leaves such a move in the hands of individual states, and that the
best that Abbas could hope for is progress towards an "association agreement" with the
Palestinian Christians Reject Pence's Brand of Evangelical Christianity
By Israel Hayom
Vice President Mike Pence's speech in the Knesset Monday drew fire from the
Palestinians, with Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat saying on Twitter
that Pence's speech showed the U.S. administration was part of the problem rather than the
solution. "The messianic discourse of Pence is a gift to extremists," he wrote. "His
message to the rest of the world is clear: Violate international law and resolutions and
the U.S. will reward you."
Meanwhile, Palestinian Christians are saying that Pence's brand of evangelical
Christianity, with its fervent embrace of modern-day Israel as the fulfillment of biblical
prophecy, lacks their faith's compassion and justice, including for the Palestinians in
Pence's speech to the Knesset was filled with biblical references. Pence and Netanyahu
publicly rejoiced in the Trump administration's decision to recognize contested Jerusalem
as Israel's capital. The Jerusalem declaration and a subsequent Trump decision to curb aid
to Palestinian refugees both aligned with the Netanyahu government's agenda
had been top priorities for Pence.
The vice president by his own definition "a Christian, a conservative, a
Republican, in that order" has cited his religious beliefs as the source of his
unwavering support of Israel.
Palestinian Christians consider Christian Zionist views as a negation of the teachings
of Jesus on justice and compassion for all of humanity. They argue that such streams of
evangelical Christianity have used religion to whitewash Israeli policies toward the
"For me, it's a sick ideology," said Munib Younan, the recently retired bishop of the
small Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and former president of the
Lutheran World Federation, an umbrella for churches with millions of believers. "When I
say Jesus is love, they want my Jesus to be a political Jesus," Younan, 67, a
Jerusalem-born Palestinian, said in a recent interview at his West Bank church.
Younan said he supports a just solution to the conflict with Israel, including the
establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders areas that include
east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Jerusalem should be shared by Christians, Muslims
and Jews, he said, adding that a peace deal would enhance Israel's security.
In Bethlehem, Mayor Anton Salman said Pence's comments contradict his declared aim of
helping Christians in the Middle East. "He would need to change his thoughts and behavior
and recognize the rights of Arab Palestinian Christians who are the people of this
land, to support their rights to have their independence, their freedom and east Jerusalem
as our capital," said Salman, a Roman Catholic.
Bodies of Yemenite Children to be Exhumed for DNA Tests
The remains of Yemenite Jewish children from 17 families will be exhumed to ascertain
possible genetic familial ties with their living relatives. Responding to an appeal by the
same 17 families, the State Attorney's Office said its decision was made while "paying
attention to the public importance of learning the truth regarding the deaths and burials
of minors from Yemen, the east and the Balkans, whose families were notified of their
deaths after Israel was founded."
The move received prior approval from the Committee on Deceased Persons' Dignity, part
of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, subject to conditions being in place
allowing halachically to exhume the graves and carry out genetic tests on the remains.
Considering the circumstances, the SAO has consented to issuing an order to open the
graves and take DNA samples from remains entered therein to check for familial ties with
the 17 petitioning families.
Dvora Sliman of Tel Mond, whose family only recently discovered her sister Rinawho
disappeared when she was one year oldwas buried in a Petah Tikva cemetery, said, "We
welcome the State Attorney's decision to open the graves. Perhaps the findings will solve
the mystery and bring some calm to my mother, who is still searching for Rina and cannot
believe she's buried in that grave," she added.
The Achim Vekayamim (Kidnapped Children's Families Forum) non-profit organization said,
"The organization welcomes the State Attorney's decision to open the graves and carry out
genetic tests, and hopes this entire process will be carried out transparently and in full
cooperation with the families.
"We do, however, wish to make clear this is but a partial, limited move, and one that
is not sufficient. We demand the Israeli government accept responsibility, on behalf of
the State of Israel, for the kidnapping of children, and commit to tangible measures to
uncover the truth of this horrid affair. Only accepting responsibility and uncovering the
truth in full will provide succor to the families, and Israeli society entire."
The disappearance of Jewish Yemenite children returned to headlines in 2016 after
several NGOs demanded the state uncover archival materials related to the affair. The
government authorized the release of such materials, which were originally meant to remain
classified until 2070. Because of the government's decision, protocols of the various
commissions of inquiry dealing with the subject were declassified and published.
A lobby was simultaneously created in the Knesset to bring closure to the affair,
headed by MK Nurit Koren (Likud). The Knesset also decided to create a committee to
collect testimony and draft a bill dealing with exhuming graves for genetic testing.
Thousands participated in a Jerusalem demonstration demanding Israel recognize the
children's disappearance in June of last year.
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