Middle East Roundup: March 20, 2017


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Irans supreme leader calls objectifying women a Zionist plot

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to Twitter Sunday to share his views on gender issues and asserted that the objectification of women in Western society is the product of “a Zionist plot.”

In a series of tweets for Iranian Mother’s Day, marked on the anniversary of the birth of Fatimah Zahra, the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Khamenei said the West considers women to be “goods, and means of pleasure,” a perception he attributed to “a Zionist conspiracy to destroy human community.”

Khamenei said men and women “are different” in aspects like “duties in handling life,” and criticized the West for “humiliating housewives.” Men and women, he said, “are no different in some aspects like ‘spiritual ascension,’ ‘leadership power’ or ‘ability to guide humanity.’”


Israeli delegation meets with US officials on settlement construction

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) An Israeli delegation arrived in Washington, D.C., Sunday to meet with representatives of President Donald Trump’s administration regarding the U.S. request that Israel rein in settlement construction.

Prime Minister’s Office Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer were set to hold meetings Monday with an American team led by Trump’s international negotiations representative, Jason Greenblatt. The Washington meetings come just three days after the end of Greenblatt’s visit to Israel, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in addition to meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Netanyahu said last week that efforts to reach an understanding with the U.S. on settlements are ongoing, but he did not reveal the content of his discussion with Greenblatt.



IDF chief: next war will likely be with Hezbollah, Lebanon-based terror groups

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel’s next armed conflict will likely be with Hezbollah and other Lebanon-based terrorist groups, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said Sunday.

“Terrorist groups and new threats have taken the place of enemy armies. The relatively quiet security situation of the last decade is an interest Israel and Lebanon share and considerable efforts have been made to ensure it lasts. But the IDF is not fooled by this lull and it remains vigilant, aware of the changes in the Syrian and Lebanese sectors,” Eizenkot said during a ceremony at the military’s Northern Command headquarters.

“Hezbollah continues its efforts to obtain more accurate, deadlier weapons to target the Israeli homefront,” he said. “Recent statements from Beirut have made it clear a future war will have a clear address—the state of Lebanon and the terrorist groups operating on its soil with its consent.”


Omri Casspi, itinerant Israeli-born NBA player, finds a new home in Minnesota

(JNS.org) Journeyman National Basketball Association (NBA) forward Omri Casspi, the first Israeli-born player in the league’s history, has reportedly agreed to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the rest of the current NBA season.

The New Orleans Pelicans recently waived the 6-foot-9 Casspi after he suffered a broken thumb in his first game with the team. The Pelicans had acquired him from the Sacramento Kings as part of their trade for All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in February. The Timberwolves are Casspi’s third team this season.

Casspi, a native of Holon, has averaged 8.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while shooting about 37 percent from three-point range in eight NBA seasons for the Kings, Pelicans, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets.

After posting career-best averages of 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season for the Kings during his second stint with the team that drafted him in 2009, the 28-year-old Casspi—Israel’s only current NBA player—had seen his playing time and numbers drop this season before the trade to New Orleans.



Upcoming film details smuggling ring that armed Israels nascent military

(JNS.org) Producer and director Jeff Hoffman has started editing his trailblazing documentary, “4 Million Bullets: The Untold Fight for Survival,” which tells the pre-state story of Israel’s military.

The documentary details the secret initiative of wealthy Jewish businessmen, in 1945, to raise $190 million for the purchase of airplanes, arms and ships to be smuggled to the emerging Israel Defense Forces. In a twist, some of the supplies that eventually reached the new Zionist army through the elaborate smuggling network included Nazi weapons that were seized in Europe.

Hoffman—a nephew of an Auschwitz death camp survivor—has worked on famed television shows and music videos such as “60 Minutes,” “Melrose Place” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” His production company, Squashhouse Media, said the 90-minute documentary captures “a brand new perspective on a story that has never been told” and displays “the courage and ingenuity of a generation that is almost gone, and a nation that came together to fight for survival.” The film is set for release in the summer of 2017.



UN official resigns over secretary-generals request to withdraw anti-Israel report

(JNS.org) Rima Khalaf, the executive secretary of a United Nations agency that released a controversial report accusing Israel of implementing “an apartheid regime,” resigned from her post Friday after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked her to withdraw the report.

Earlier, Guterres had said through a spokesperson that the report, released by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, “does not reflect the views of the secretary-general” and was published without consulting the U.N. leader. The report has been withdrawn.

The report from the U.N. body led by Khalaf, a Jordanian national, stated that “available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid.” Further, the report’s author was Richard Falk, a discredited former U.N. special rapporteur for human rights who has an extensive record of virulently anti-Israel rhetoric. Falk has previously praised the Palestinian terror organization Hamas, likening the terror group to the French resistance of World War II.

After Khalaf’s resignation, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon called Guterres’s approach on the issue “an important step in ending the bias against Israel at the U.N.”

“It is time to put an end to practice in which U.N. officials use their position to advance their anti-Israel agenda,” Danon said. “Over the years, Khalaf has worked to harm Israel and advocate for the BDS movement. Her removal from the U.N. is long overdue.”



Trump budget cuts wont reduce US aid to Israel, State Department says

(JNS.org) U.S. foreign aid to Israel will not be reduced under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts, the State Department said Thursday.

“Our assistance to Israel is…guaranteed and that reflects obviously our strong commitment to one of our strongest partners and allies,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, Reuters reported.

Trump is proposing a 28-percent cut for American diplomacy and foreign aid for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Currently, annual U.S. aid to Israel stands at $3.1 billion. Last September, the Obama administration and the Israeli government signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase aid for Israel to $3.8 billion annually for the fiscal years from 2019-2028.

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