ADL urges hate crime probe in Virginia killing of Muslim girl

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League called on authorities to probe the slaying of a Muslim girl in suburban Virginia as a hate crime.

“We urge the Fairfax County Police Department to investigate the murder as a possible bias crime,” Doron Ezickson, the ADL’s Washington, D.C., director, said in a statement Monday. “ADL has communicated that to law enforcement and we have reached out to ADAMS to offer any assistance.”

ADAMS is the acronym for the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, the mosque that Nabra Hassanen had worshipped at in Washington’s northern Virginia suburbs in the pre-dawn hours Sunday before heading to a restaurant with friends for breakfast. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan.

A motorist confronted the friends and assaulted the victim as they were walking back to the mosque, according to reports. All but Hassanen fled to the mosque, where worshippers alerted authorities. Hassanen’s body was found later in a pond.

Police arrested Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, and he was charged with murder, but told the Washington Post they were not investigating the killing as a hate crime. They did not explain why.


Trump urges Gulf unity ‘but not at expense of stopping terror funding’

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump called Wednesday for unity between Persian Gulf nations, “but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism.”

Trump offered to personally broker a resolution to the Gulf’s escalating diplomatic crisis, as both he and Qatar looked past his pointed suggestion only a day earlier that the tiny gas-rich nation enables terrorism.

In a phone call with Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, Trump said he wanted to help Qatar and its Arab neighbors resolve the row that has upended any sense of Gulf unity, suggesting a possible White House summit among leaders. Though Trump again said countries must eliminate funding streams for terror groups, the White House said he focused on the need for the region’s various US allies to stick together.

Blockaded by its neighbors by land and sea, Qatar is eager for Trump’s help. Qatar’s US ambassador, Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, told The Associated Press his country is counting on Washington to persuade Saudi Arabia and others to back down.

“We have great confidence in the president’s ability to calm this crisis and to resolve it,” Al Thani said in an interview.

Trump’s bid to fashion himself as a neutral arbiter among Arab governments departed from his stance only a day earlier, when he left little doubt about where he felt the fault rested. In a tweetstorm, Trump said Mideast leaders he’d met with last month had all “pointed to Qatar” as the source of terrorist financing, waxing optimistically that the isolation of the kingdom might be “the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.”

Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates joined the Saudis earlier this week in cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar, accusing it of backing groups from al-Qaeda and Hamas to the Muslim Brotherhood that threaten the region’s other governments. Qatar vehemently denies such support. Al Thani, the ambassador, insisted his country had no idea why Qatar’s neighbors were picking a fight.

Qatar received no notice from the other Arab countries before ties were cut, he said, calling it “a surprise and a shock to us, this act of aggression.” He said normal life in Qatar is “not affected” by the blockage, insisting the tiny country maintains sufficient access to other air and sea routes to secure food for its people.

A general view  shows boats sitting in the port along the corniche in Qatar's capital Doha on June 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/STR)

Trump also called Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE., Wednesday. On the call, he reiterated “the importance of maintaining a united Gulf Cooperation Council to promote regional stability, but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism,” the White House said in a statement.

Trump’s broadside Tuesday against Qatar, which plays a major role in US military efforts in the Mideast, arrived as an early-morning shock to US officials. They then sought to clean up the president’s comments by stressing US-Qatari cooperation remained intact and crediting the country with working hard to stem funding and support for extremists.

That was enough, it seemed, to persuade Qatar the US wasn’t abandoning its strategic partner.

“We don’t see that he’s pointing fingers at Qatar,” Al Thani said. “Our relationship with the US speaks for itself.”

Countries across the globe are increasingly faced with the same conundrum: How much credence to give to the president’s Twitter musings when they deviate sharply from US policy?

Emirati officials said they perceived Trump’s tweets as a sign Qatar shouldn’t count on America taking its side despite the US having some 10,000 troops based in the country’s al-Udeid Air Base.

But in Germany, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer pointed out that Trump’s words differed substantially from those of State Department and Pentagon officials.

“I can indeed see differences in some 140 character comments by the American president,” Schaefer said. “But what the position of the United States of America… is something I can’t really say.”

This file photo taken on December 6, 2016, shows Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Bahraini capital Manama. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

Both Qatar and the US sought to show the rift wasn’t affecting military cooperation. They cited no change to the status of al-Udeid Air Base. And a State Department official said an approved but pending sale of F-15 fighter planes to Qatar hasn’t been affected.

The call with Qatar’s emir showed Trump trying to personally involve himself in resolving the conflict. A day earlier, Trump discussed the crisis with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, which is leading the anti-Qatar campaign.

Other countries also are offering to intervene, and it’s not clear if Trump will end up as the primary mediator. Kuwait’s emir flew to the UAE on Wednesday to discuss the crisis, while Qatari ally Turkey voiced willingness to play a role.

A White House summit seemed an unlikely possibility. The potential for a coup makes it unlikely the Qatari emir would travel so far from home, especially as its adversaries hint that regime change would be welcome.

In the interview, Al Thani confirmed the FBI is helping Qatar investigate a hack of its state-run news agency last month that may have been a catalyst for the crisis. The Saudis and others have cited an article in which a top Qatari official seemed to pay tribute to Iran as a major regional power; the Qataris say the comments were fabricated as part of the hack.

Al Thani also denied any Qatari involvement in a separate hack of emails belonging to the UAE’s Washington ambassador, which have surfaced at various news agencies this week.

Portland Republican Urges Party to Contract Militia Groups for Defense After White Supremacist Murders Two

As tensions continue in Portland following the racially charged murder of two men on Friday, the top Republican in the city said he is considering using militia groups as security for public events.

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, were stabbed to death and 21-year-old student Micah David-Cole Fletcher was injured when they came to the aid of two women being subjected to hate speech on public transport. The suspect, Jeremy Christian, 35, was found to hold white supremacist views and to have attended an “alt-right” rally in the city.

On Monday, Donald Trump issued a belated message of condolence. Asked about the president’s tweet, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler told the Guardian: “Our current political climate allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry. Violent words can lead to violent acts.

“All elected leaders in America, all people of good conscience, must work deliberately change our political dialogue.”

Multnomah County GOP chair James Buchal, however, told the Guardian that recent street protests had prompted Portland Republicans to consider alternatives to “abandoning the public square”.

“I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,” he said. “And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too.”

Asked if this meant Republicans making their own security arrangements rather than relying on city or state police, Buchal said: “Yeah. And there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.”

Asked if he was considering such groups as security providers, Buchal said: “Yeah. We’re thinking about that. Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”

Buchal ran for Oregon attorney general in 2012 and has stood for election to Congress and the state legislature. The Oath Keepers are described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the US”, recruiting current and former military and law enforcement personnel. They have recently appeared at rallies from Berkeley to Boston, standing with activists from the far right, activists holding what were once fringe positions who have recently risen to national prominence.

The Three Percenters are described by Political Research Associates as “a paramilitary group that pledges armed resistance against attempts to restrict private gun ownership”. They were a highly visible presence in Burns, Oregon, before and during the occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge by rightwing militia early in 2016.

Buchal told the Guardian it was important not to become involved with extremists, and said that on the Three Percenters website, “right there on the front page there is what looks like a solid commitment to this not being about race at all”.

The main reason Buchal gave for his attraction to the militia groups was the cancellation of the Avenue of the Roses Parade, an annual Portland community event scheduled for 29 April, after organisers received an anonymously emailed threat of disruption.

The anonymous message claimed “Trump supporters and 3% militia” were encouraging people to “bring hateful rhetoric” to East Portland. “Two hundred or more people”, the email said, would “rush into the middle and drag and push those people out”.

When the parade was called off, Buchal issued a statement in which he bemoaned a “criminal conspiracy to commit crimes of riot” and a letter to Mayor Wheeler in which he lamented “rising lawlessness” in Portland.

In response to the cancellation a local far right organizer, Joey Gibson, organized a “free speech rally” – the event at which Christian, the suspect in Friday’s double murder, was filmed throwing fascist salutes and yelling racial epithets, and where he approached antifascist counter-protesters armed with a baseball bat.

Asked about Gibson’s organizing efforts for the far right, including a planned rally this Sunday which leftwing counter-protesters have vowed to oppose, Buchal said such actions were understandable.

“I think that for a long time there has been a closing of the mind and a censoring to a point where now people feel justified in using force to prevent the expression of opinions with which they disagree,” he said. “I believe that the left – the ‘antifa’ [antifascist] crowd – fired the first shot in that regard.

“There is definitely something wrong if criminal gangs are essentially allowed to shut down normal and traditional activities of Republicans. With that climate arising, the question becomes: ‘What do you do?’ A lot of the rank and file party members are old and frail people. They are intimidated by what’s going on.”

Buchal appears to have made radical statements in the past. Portland reporter Corey Pein surfaced a video of Buchal addressing a Multnomah County Republican Central Committee meeting.

The video depicts Buchal making a fiery pro-Trump speech. He says of the President, “His enemies are my enemies and his enemies are all our enemies.”

“Our enemies are more dangerous than ever” he continues. “We are really in a life and death battle for the future of our society. And these globalist people are not going to give up.”

“If we don’t tell out fellow citizens that there are these dark forces in the government, like the CIA and the shadow government, who are trying to take Trump down with lies, who is going to tell them?”

Spencer Sunshine, an associate researcher at Political Research Associates who last year co-authored a major report on the growth of the far-right Patriot Movement in Oregon, said: “The Oath Keepers have been acting as a de facto security team for white supremacists and neo-Nazis for the last month or two.

“The Three Percenters have no accountability and are implicitly a deeply racist group, and sometimes have explicitly racist members. They have no interest in screening those explicit racists out.

“Consideration of the use of unaccountable, private paramilitary groups by one of the main political parties is a dangerous lurch to the far right.”

In a statement, Rose City Antifa, a Portland antifascist group, said: “That the GOP need[s] to bring in private armed security rather than rely on Portland Police speaks volumes on their stance against ‘violence’. “These private security elements of the extreme right claim to be supporting ‘free speech’ when in reality their main goal is directing violence and hate speech towards antifascist protesters and activists while protecting white supremacists.”

The group pointed to what it said was evidence of Oregon Three Percenters attending “alt right” rallies.

Mayor Wheeler said in a statement on Monday that he had denied a permit for the planned “free speech” rally on Sunday and a possible follow-up.

“I have confirmed that the City of Portland has NOT and will not issue any permits for the alt-right events scheduled on 4 June or 10 June,” Wheeler said.

The mayor added that “the federal government controls permitting for Shrunk Plaza, and it is my understanding that they have issued a permit for the event on 4 June. I am calling on the federal government to IMMEDIATELY REVOKE the permit(s) they have issued for the 4 June event and to not issue a permit for 10 June.

“I am appealing to the organizers of the alt-right demonstrations to CANCEL the events they have scheduled on 4 June and 10 June.”

Gibson told The Guardian that he would press on with the “free speech” rally.

“There will be hundreds of people down there regardless of what I do. I will be down there with a permit in a controlled safe environment”, Gibson said.

“Without a permit it could get ugly because we have no right to kick people out.”

Portland police bureau spokesman, sergeant Peter Simpson, told The Guardian that using private security was ambiguous under state law.

“It’s a complex issue. Private security in Oregon needs to be certified by the state. That said, people showing up to assist do not. We don’t advocate bringing in outsiders to police an event.”

He also said that police were monitoring the build-up to the planned rally on Sunday.

“We are aware of the heated rhetoric regarding the planned events next Sunday and are working to determine what our role may be in protecting public safety.”


Jason Wilson is an Australian-born writer living in Portland, Oregon. He’s on Twitter at @jason_a_w.



US Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to speak about the importance of commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem on the 50th anniversary of the day Israel liberated the city’s east during the Six Day War.

Cruz’s address came a day after US President Donald Trump departed from Israel, where he spent two days of his maiden foreign tour and visited the Western Wall.


“I rise to mark a truly significant and momentous day. Starting this evening, millions around the world will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, also known as Jerusalem Day,” Cruz said.

“I am proud to join our close ally Israel and the Jewish people in celebrating this historic, 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem,” he continued.


Cruz then referred to Trump, calling on him to make two significant moves Israel has been vying for in talks with the current administration and its predecessors: to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“It is long past time that America does something it should have done two decades ago: move the American embassy to Jerusalem and formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undivided capital,” he said.

Trump first made the pledge to move the embassy during his election campaign, and has since appeared to be wavering on the decision.

A US official told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the president’s visit to the region that Trump would hold off on making the decision and was not going to announce the embassy move during his stay.

Indeed, during his time in the country, Trump refrained from making a direct reference to settlement construction or to the embassy move, which are two of the major issues of contention between Israel and the United States.

“There is no reason Israel should be treated any worse when they are such a reliable and unshakable ally,” Cruz added, before stressing the significance of the embassy move once more.

“We should honor the promise that Democratic presidents and Republican presidents have made for decades and move our embassy to Jerusalem.”

Cruz then went on to note the importance of Jerusalem Day. He spoke about Israel’s battle to reunite the capital during the Six Day War, which was determined on this day 50 year ago.

“Today is a day where we must also reassert historical truth: The historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel did not begin in 1967,” he said. “These profound ties to Jerusalem have existed for thousands of years. They can be traced back and have been reaffirmed through numerous archeological excavations such as those in the City of David.

“And so I stand today to express my solidarity with Israel and with the Jewish people during this major celebration. Now, more than ever, America stands strong with our unshakable friend and ally, the nation of Israel.”



The Golan Heights are an indivisible part of Israel and the Trump administration should recognize that in light of the civil war in Syria, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Sunday.

Katz made the remarks at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York.


Katz proposed that the governments in Jerusalem and Washington reach a five-pointed understanding on the issue of the Syrian civil war and the implications it has on Israel’s security.

Besides recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, Katz called for joint opposition to a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and Lebanon, further sanctions against Iran until it stops supporting regional terror organizations, and enhancing paralyzing sanctions on Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

“There will not be stability in the region until Iran is pushed back, and weapons transfers are stopped,” he added.

Katz also condemned the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its recent anti-Israel resolutions and called for strengthening Jerusalem and expanding its borders in response.

“We must strengthen our hold in Jerusalem and ensure the Jewish majority there, in the face of all those, including UNESCO, who are trying again and again to question the undeniable historical and religious connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem,” said the minister.

He added that in part this can be facilitated by including Jewish towns such as Gush Etzion, Givat Zeev, Ma’aleh Adumim and Beitar Elit to be part of “greater Jerusalem.”

“A united Jerusalem is and will be the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” he underlined.

On the Palestinian issue, Katz suggested focusing on civilian economic initiatives. For instance, he said he was using the Transportation Ministry he heads to advance a railroad initiative that would benefit Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and countries that want to trade with them.

“Economic development and trade are the strongest path to peace,” he said.

ADL head urges creation of hate crime task force in testimony to Senate committee

Never is Now conference

(JTA) — The national director of the Anti-Defamation League urged the establishing of a federal task force to coordinate hate crimes responses across the executive branch in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Jonathan Greenblatt set forth a series of policy recommendations during a Tuesday hearing on an increase in religious hate crimes, according to an ADL statement.

“All of us are deeply concerned about the ongoing harassment of Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others who are being targeted because of their religion,” Greenblatt told committee members. “The federal government has an essential leadership role to play in confronting hate crimes and in alleviating intolerance. And we need to make sure that we call out bigotry whenever it happens.”

Greenblatt recommended creating a task force that would help law enforcement agencies improve hate crimes data collection and training, enacting laws to combat hate crimes, exploring approaches to cyberhate and calling out bigotry.

On Monday, the American Jewish Committee praised members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for sending a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging him “to undertake effective action to address the increasing number of religious hate crimes in the U.S.”

“Effectively combating hate crimes demands a concerted federal government response,” said Richard Foltin, the AJC’s director of national and legislative affairs. “It is imperative that federal authorities help state and local authorities in carrying out their responsibility to monitor and prosecute hate crimes, and bring cases under federal hate crimes laws, where necessary.”

Nearly 150 JCCs and other Jewish institutions have received bomb threats and three Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized this year. In March, an Israeli-American teen was arrested in Israel on suspicion of calling in more than 100 bomb threats. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department charged the teen, Michael Kadar, with making threatening calls to JCCs in Florida, conveying false information to the police and cyberstalking.

Israel’s intelligence minister urges US to team up with Russia against Iran

WASHINGTON — The Israeli government wants the United States to negotiate with the Russians to ensure Iran does not gain a permanent military foothold in Syria, Israel’s Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said.

In meetings with senior-level administration officials and high-ranking members of Congress, Katz urged the US to get the Russians to remove Iranian forces from the country, which is in the sixth year of a devastating civil war.

“We discussed how the Americans can negotiate with the Russians,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s in the common interest not only for Israel, but for the Sunni Arab countries in the region.”

Katz, who is a member of the high-level security cabinet, was sent to Washington by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss Syria and other matters with American officials.

“In our region, there are two different things, but the things that are existing now are, on the one hand, big threats and dangers, and on the other hand, big chances for cooperation,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, seen next to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz at the weekly cabinet meeting at Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem, September 4, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel believes that Trump is signaling a new policy toward the Middle East — evident in his ordering a missile attack on a Syrian airfield over an Assad regime chemical weapons attack, and his rhetoric toward Tehran — that will possibly include shifts in how Washington deals with the Iranian challenge, Katz said.

“There is a new policy in the United States, and Iran is on the bad side, not the good side,” he said. “It’s very clear. You see it in declarations and acts.

“Because of the next American policy against Iran, against the Shi’ite axis that Iran leads with the backing of Russia, this is a big opportunity to bring real changes to the regional security situation,” he added.

Katz came to Washington after visiting New York, where he addressed the World Jewish Congress.

‘There is a new policy in the United States, and Iran is on the bad side and not the good side’

In the capital, he met with North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and New York Rep. Adam Schiff (D), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

He discussed with them Israel’s hope that the US will negotiate with the Russians to remove an Iranian military foothold in Syria.

Katz insisted that Trump could apply pressure to Russian President Vladimir Putin to soften his resolve to prop up Assad.

“If the Russians want to keep Assad, they have to push Iran out of Syria,” Katz said. The White House is “very close to deciding that Assad has to go,” he added, “so if the Russians want to have the chance to keep Assad in his job, they have to act and to help move Iran out of Syria. Because if they will not do it, they will move Iran out or we will move Assad out.”

On Wednesday, Katz also met with Trump’s Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt to discuss his plan to develop a regional transportation system that would link Israel to Saudi Arabia by railroad via the West Bank and Jordan.

Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, left, meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“We are maybe going to call it not a truck rail, but a Trump rail,” he said.

Katz said he believes the administration will support his initiative, not necessarily as a component of its hope to broker a “conflict-ending” Israeli-Palestinian accord, but to improve the region, which could foster greater conditions for a peace deal.

“If the United States would support it — and we want them to support it — it would be very much in their interests, because it would be good for Jordan’s economy, its stability, and for the Palestinians’ [economy] as well,” he said.

He also said there was “a strategic logic” to solidify ties between the Sunni world and Israel, which share an interest in countering the Iranian-led Shiite axis.

After the meeting in which Katz presented his plan to Greenblatt, the former lawyer tweeted: “I look forward to discussing the possibilities with all parties.”



European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday urged European countries to step up efforts to ensure the return of property and possessions seized from Jewish victims during the Holocaust.

Speaking at the opening of an international conference in Brussels titled “Unfinished Justice: Restitution and Remembrance,” Tajani stressed the importance of restitution.

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Declaring that restitution across Europe was still challenged by legal and technical problems, leaving victims without their property, Tajani said: “Restitution, together with remembrance and reconciliation, is a fundamental element to restore justice after the Holocaust.

“The European Parliament has called on the [European] Commission to develop common principles and guidelines,” he added, highlighting that the 2009 Terezin Declaration provides a clear reference point for restitution and a commitment for all European countries.

Forty-seven countries, including all 28 members of the European Union, approved the Terezin Declaration, which recognizes “the importance of restituting or compensating Holocaust-related confiscations made during the Holocaust era between 1933-45.”

According to the World Jewish Restitution Organization, only a small fraction of private and communal property illegitimately seized from Jewish victims during the Holocaust has been returned or compensated.

WJRO also emphasized that, of the remaining 500,000 survivors alive today, up to half are estimated to live in poverty.

“Progress has been made over the last years. Some countries have done a lot and have even developed best practices. Others should do more,” Tajani said.

The European Shoah Legacy Institute – which commissioned a comprehensive study on the status of restitution in each of the countries that endorsed the Terezin Declaration – called out Poland as being the only country that has yet to enact legislation dealing with restitution or compensation of private property nationalized by the Polish postwar Communist regime.

The conference was hosted by the European Parliament and organized by the European Alliance for Holocaust Survivors, a coalition of members of the European Parliament committed to issues impacting Holocaust survivors, the WJRO and ESLI, together with the European Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith International. The permanent missions of the State of Israel, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom to the European Union and their respective foreign ministries were also partners in the conference.

During the conference, members of the European Parliament called on the European Commission and all member states to each appoint special envoys for Holocaust-related issues, including restitution, to accelerate activities aimed at securing justice for victims.

Gideon Taylor, chairman of operations for the World Jewish Restitution Organization, praised Tajani’s announcement as a “significant step toward helping Holocaust survivors achieve justice regarding confiscated property.

“The support of the European Parliament sends a strong signal about the importance of fulfilling the pledges countries made under the Terezin Declaration,” he said. “Countries have a moral obligation to ensure that workable property restitution laws are put in place, and we hope that they will respond by reaffirming their commitment to providing justice for the remaining survivors, their families and Jewish communities as a matter of urgency.”

Polish-born British Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott also emphasized the importance of the issue, saying that “committing to a substantial, broad and coordinated program of restitution goes some way to recognizing the suffering, anguish and torment that occurred directly to those Jews present at the time, and the damage it caused for generations afterwards.”

The conference was attended by members of the European Parliament, diplomats, leaders of international Jewish organizations and European Jewish communities as well as Holocaust survivors.

Nikki Haley (Feminist, Zionist, Freemason) urges UN to shift its criticism from Israel to Iran


UNITED NATIONS — It’s high time the United Nations Security Council set its sights on Iran, rather than Israel, United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Thursday during the Security Council’s monthly meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.”

“Every month the Security Council convenes a meeting on the Middle East. We have lots of meetings on specific countries and conflicts in this region but this debate is our opportunity to talk about the Middle East as a whole. Regrettably, these monthly meetings routinely turn into Israel-bashing sessions. That’s the way the Security Council has operated for years. It’s a formula that is absurdly biased against one country. It’s a formula that is painfully narrow in its description of the conflicts in the region,” said Haley, who is this month’s president of the Security Council.

In her remarks before the 15-member council, Haley condemned Iran, which she said is responsible for regional tumult, from meddling in Yemen and Syria, to its support of Hezbollah.

“Iran is using Hezbollah to expand its regional aspirations. That is a threat that should be dominating our discussions at the Security Council,” she said.

Since Haley assumed her post in January with the promise that there “is a new sheriff in town,” she has repeatedly chastised the UN for what she says is its Israel obsession and anti-Israel bias.

United Nations Security Council meeting, April 20, 2017. (UN/Rick Bajornas)

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who also addressed the meeting, welcomed Haley’s efforts to redirect the council’s attention. Like Haley, Danon spoke out against what he said was increased Iranian aggression in the region.

“Where there is terror, where there is death, there is Iran. Teheran is an accomplice in the atrocities taking place every single day in Syria. The Iranian proxy Hezbollah places its weapons in homes, mosques and hospitals in Lebanon, and in Gaza, Hamas has spent millions of Iranian dollars on rockets, guns and digging terror tunnels,” he said.

Moreover, Danon told the council, Iran not only threatens the region through proxies, it threatens the region directly with its continued ballistic missile tests, “which are in direct defiance this Council…The Iranians have not hidden their intentions. Just two days ago they wrote on one of their missiles: ‘Death to Israel.’”

Israel ambassador Danny Danon speaks at the United Nations Security Council meeting, April 20, 2017. (UN Photo / Rick Bajornas)

Perhaps in a sign that Haley’s suggestion is being heeded, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, expanded the scope of his remarks beyond the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to include Syria, the millions of displaced, Hezbollah and the Islamic State group.

“Today a perfect storm has engulfed the Middle East and continues to threaten international peace and security. Millions have been displaced in the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. In many countries, societies have fractured along ethnic or religious lines. Non-state actors have taken control of territory, and terror attacks have spread indiscriminately striking civilians of all origin and confession,” Mladenov said.

The Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour said “the Palestinian-Israel conflict is about the denial of a people’s unalienable right to freedom. It is not a conflict arising out of incitement for terror.”

The Ukrainian ambassador, Volodymyr Yelchenko, made brief remarks about the Palestinians and Israel, repeating Haley’s assertion that peace would only be achieved through direct negotiations, before going on to discuss IS and Syria.

Haley’s effort to redirect the council’s gaze faces the opposition of many council members — including France, Russia and Sweden — which ignored her rebuke and spent the majority of their floor time speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Additionally, any resolution against Iran would likely not pass as Russia, which is closely aligned with Iran, is one of five permanent members that hold veto power in the Security Council.



UNESCO should reject the candidacy of former Qatari minister of culture Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari for its director- general, Simon Wiesenthal Center’s European Office has said.

Al-Kawari is one of nine candidates under consideration to replace Irina Bokova, who has headed the organization since 2009.


On Friday, Shimon Samuels, international relations director at the Wiesenthal Center, wrote to UNESCO’s Executive Board chairman Michael Worbs, saying that when Al-Kawari was culture minister, Qatar sold texts at the Frankfurt Book fair that “fomented” conspiracy theories against Jews.

“Mr. Chairperson, he who apparently endorses the language of [the Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph] Goebbels must not head the intellectual arm of the United Nations. We expect you to advise the Executive Board accordingly,” said Samuels.

He added that Qatar supported UN resolutions on Jerusalem that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

UNESCO’s executive board is expected to interview all the candidates in Paris on April 27 and 28. A secret ballot will be held at its October meeting. Another secret ballot to affirm the nomination will be held at the body’s general conference in November.

Three of the nine under consideration are women: Moushira Khattab of Egypt; Vera El Khoury Lacoeuilh of Lebanon; and Audrey Azoulay of France.

The other five are: Polad Bulbuloglu of Azerbaijan; Pham Suan Shon of Vietnam; Qian Tang of China; Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria of Guatemala; and Saleh Al-Hasnawi of Iraq.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was established in large part to focus on preserving cultural heritage sites around the world.

But the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states have pushed anti-Israel resolutions at its board and committee meetings, turning them into diplomatic battle grounds for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2011, UNESCO was the first UN body to recognize Palestine as a state.