UN Syria investigator: Enough evidence to convict Assad of war crimes

Jpost Middle East

By REUTERS / August 13, 2017

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria has gathered enough evidence for President Bashar al-Assad to be convicted of war crimes, a prominent member of the commission, Carla del Ponte, said in remarks published on Sunday.

Del Ponte, 70, who prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, announced last week that she was stepping down from her role in frustration at the UN Security Council’s failure to continue the commission’s work by setting up a special tribunal for Syria that could try alleged war criminals.

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She has not said when she will leave her post.

Asked in an interview with Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung whether there was enough evidence for Assad to be convicted of war crimes, she said: “Yes, I am convinced that is the case. That is why the situation is so frustrating. The preparatory work has been done. Despite that, there is no prosecutor and no court.”

The Syrian government led by Assad denies reports by the commission documenting widespread war crimes committed by government-backed forces and Syria’s security services.

Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general, joined the three-member Syria inquiry in September 2012, chronicling incidents such as chemical weapons attacks, a genocide against Iraq’s Yazidi population, siege tactics, and the bombing of aid convoys.

The commission was set up in August 2011 and has regularly reported on human rights violations, but its pleas to observe international law have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Although the United Nations is setting up a new body to prepare prosecutions, there is no sign of any court being established to try war crimes committed in the six-and-a-half year-old war. Nor is there any intention by the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

“For six years, the commission has investigated. Now a prosecutor should continue our work and bring the war criminals before a special court. But that is exactly what Russia is blocking with its veto in the UN Security Council,” del Ponte was quoted as saying.

Russia, a close ally of Assad’s government, has a veto on the Security Council as one of its five permanent members.

Asked which of the parties to the conflict the commission had primarily investigated, she said: “They all committed war crimes. Therefore we investigated all of them.”

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After these words – Isaac and Ishmael


After these words – Isaac and Ishmael

“And it happened after these words [הַדְּבָרִים] that HaShem tested Avraham and said to him, Avraham, … take now your only son – Yitzchaq – whom you love ….” Genesis 22.1, 2;

these words – directs us to 21.10 because the subject matter of 22.2 is Avraham’s only son, Yitzchaq: “Wherefore she said unto Abraham: ‘Cast out (geresh) this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.'”

First, Sarah saw, a) that she was despised by Hagar, and second, b) Ishmael mocking Yitzchaq (Isaac), so she said [these ha’devarim – prophetic words] cast out the bondwoman and her son ….” Then HaShem tells Avraham, “Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad.”

Genesis 21:12 –

And God said unto Abraham: ‘Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her [prophetic] voice; for in Isaac shall seed be called to thee.

Manumission and the Prophetic Word of Sarah

Here (Genesis 20.18), the Torah emphasizes that Sarah was a prophetess. [from Gen. Rabbah 52:13]

“For the L-RD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.” On account of Sarah literally, because of the “prophetic” word(s) of Sarah –

עַלדְּבַר שָׂרָה

21.9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, making sport.

21.10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham: ‘Cast out (גרש ) this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.’

21.14 And Abraham arose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away; and she departed, and strayed in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. וַיְשַׁלְּחֶהָ

Sarah’s use of the term geresh גרש (“[to forcefully] drive away”) and the Torah’s use of the root shalach שלח (“to send”) imply that the purpose behind Sarah’s demand was concerning Isaac’s inheritance and Avraham’s sending was to effect Hagar’s Divorce (“and sent her away) and Ishmael’s t’shuvah (repentance) for he mocked the covenant of circumcision!

Sanhedrin 89b

R. Levi said [in explanation of ‘after these words’]; After Ishmael’s words to Isaac. Ishmael said to Isaac: ‘I am more virtuous than thee in good deeds, for thou wast circumcised at eight days, [and so couldst not prevent it], but I at thirteen years’. ‘On account of one limb wouldst thou incense me!’ he replied: ‘Were the Holy One, blessed be He, to say unto me, Sacrifice thyself before Me, I would obey’, Straightway, G-D did tempt Abraham. Sanhedrin 89b (Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu)

21.9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, making sport.

21.10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham: ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac [laughter].’

Because Ishmael has been disinherited, “middah keneged middah” for “making sport” before the Akeida (“after these words HaShem tested Avraham”); Avraham has only one son whom he loves [enough to give his inheritance over to], Yitzchaq, the son of promise! 17.19

Making sportמְצַחֵֽק

The Talmud Sanhedrin 89b relates that Ishmael mocked Isaac concerning his circumcision; and thus, by extension, made a mockery of HaShem’s halacha, the covenant of circumcision with Avraham and his seed, Isaac. 17.12 (eight days old) “21.4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. ”

“Birthright” (bekhorah בְּכוֹרָה)

The earliest account of primogeniture to be widely known in modern times involved Isaac’s son Jacob being born second (Genesis 25:26) and Isaac’s son, Esau being born first (Genesis 25:25) and entitled to the “birthright”, but eventually selling it to Isaac’s second son, Jacob, for a small amount of food (Genesis 25:31-34) A similar transfer is shown by the writer of 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 where, although the tribe of Judah prevailed above their brethren, nevertheless the “birthright”, the double portion of two tribal allotments, was Joseph’s.

According to the Law of Moses, the firstborn may be either the firstborn of his father, who is entitled to receive a double portion of his father’s inheritance (compared to the other siblings), (Deuteronomy 21:17) or the firstborn of his mother. Deuteronomy 21:15-17 provides inheritance rules preventing the husband with more than one wife from leaving property to the son of the favoured wife.

We find a pattern in the Torah of primogeniture or the right of the first-born to inherit the estate of the father being given over to the second born. Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau.

The closest Biblical analogy to the disinheritance of the first-born son to our case of Ishmael and Isaac is that of Cain and Abel where Cain is banished for murder of Abel.

The Midrash relates that Ishmael would take his bow and arrows and shoot them at Yitzchaq and say, “I was only pretending” while really intending on murdering Yitzchaq to eliminate any potential rivalry for the inheritence.

From Sarah’s response, “The son of this handmaid [is not worthy] to share an inheritance with [anyone who is] my son” (v. 10), we see that [Yishma’el] used to argue with Yitzchaq about their inheritance. He would say, “I am the firstborn, so I should take a double portion!” They would go out to the field, and Yishma’el would take his bow and shoot arrows at Yitzchaq, “like one who wearies himself shooting firebrands etc., and says: I’m only joking!” (Prov. 26:18).

Some Examples of Laughter in the Tanak:

(18:12) “Sarah laughed within herself saying….” 18:13 “And HaShem said to Avraham, Why did Sarah laugh?” 18.15 “But she denied it and said I did not laugh!” “No, but you did laugh!”

“21.6 And Sarah said: ‘G-D hath made laughter for me; every one that heareth will laugh on account of me.’ ” “He makes the barren woman into a glad mother of children.”

B’rashith – Genesis 17.17

Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

B’rashith 18:2 it says “So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought….”

B’rashith 26.8

And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.

Tehillim – Psalms 126.2

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The L-RD has done great things for them.”

Job 8.21

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.

Tehillim 2.4

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the L-RD holds them in derision.

Tehillim 37.13

But the L-RD laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.

Tehillim 59.8

But you, O L-RD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision.

Proverbs 29.9

If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

Job 12.4

I am a laughingstock to my friends; I, who called to G-D and he answered me, a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.

Ecclesiastes 7.6

For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.

Tehillim 59.8

But you, O L-RD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision.

Ecclesiastes 10.19

Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.

Habakkuk 1.10

At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it.

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Naftali Bennett addresses ‘Iranian threat’ in new video

Jpost Israel News – Politics and Diplomacy

By Becky Brothman / August 10, 2017

Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett released a video Thursday detailing the danger that Iran poses to Israel, the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Speaking in English, Bennett urged viewers to take notice of the Iranian threat.

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“Sometimes there are big things that happen to the world that we don’t really notice them (sic) until it’s almost too late.” The minister used global warming as a prime example of this.

He went on to say that another problem that is currently going unnoticed is that the “radical Islamic Republic of Iran is becoming a global superpower.”

Bennett said that becoming a superpower is Iran’s “one goal.”

The minister addressed why the Iranian regime should not become a superpower for three reasons.

Bennett first listed how how Iran violates human rights including those of its own citizens: executing LGBT people, restricting the rights of women, and arresting journalists and other members of the media. He also called Iran “a leading source of antisemitism.”

He then went on to address how Iran is “a major supporter of terror and murders innocent people around the world.” From Argentina to Yemen, Iran has had a hand in terror attacks, Bennett stated.

The minister also addressed the Hezbollah threat, calling the terror group an “Iranian military force based in Lebanon.”

Bennett’s third and final point regarded Iran’s military escalation. “Iran is growing in military strength and breaking international treaties to do so,” he said.

Discussing the nuclear deal, Bennett suggested that Iran was violating the tenets of that deal by continuing to develop a weapons program and testing long-range missiles.

Bennett further warned of a “Shi’ite corridor” that Iran was trying to establish from Tehran to the Mediterranean coast.

Referring to the corridor as an “Iranian dream,” Bennett said it would be used to transfer weapons and extremism and bring Europe into “striking range.”

“While we fight ISIS, the real danger is growing,” Bennett concluded. “For our children’s sake, we have to get together and stop Iran before it’s too late.”

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Israeli court rules to revoke citizenship of convicted terrorist

Jpost Breaking News

By JPOST.COM STAFF / August 6, 2017

The Haifa District Court ruled on Sunday to approve Interior Minister Aryeh Deri’s request to revoke the citizenship of a man convicted of carrying out a car-ramming and stabbing attack in 2015.

Alaa Ziad from the Arab city of Umm el-Fahm was sentenced one year ago to 25 years in prison for four attempted murders following an October 11, 2015 terrorist attack, in which he both ran over and stabbed two soldiers and two civilians, one of whom was a 15-year-old girl, at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel near Hadera.

The court ruled on Sunday that in place of citizenship Ziad would be granted temporary residency, which would be renewed from time to time, according to the interior minister’s judgment.

Revoking Ziad’s citizenship is “a proper and proportionate step,” wrote Judge Abraham Elyakim in his ruling. “Every citizen has duties alongside his or her rights which they must fulfill. One significant and meaningful duty is loyalty to the state, which includes the duty not to carry out terrorist activities that harm its safety and that of its residents.”

“Whoever decides to carry out terror attacks against the state and its subjects by his or her actions excludes themselves from the populous. Ziad abused his freedom of movement to harm the security of the state and the well-being of its residents in favor of taking lives and subjecting the state to an atmosphere of terror,” the judge continued.

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Israel grants asylum to persecuted Iranian journalist

World Israel News

August 6, 2017

Israel grants asylum to persecuted Iranian journalist

An Iranian journalist threatened with the death penalty in her home country has found refuge in Israel. 

Iranian Nada Amin, a journalist whom the Islamic Republic is persecuting for her views, has been granted asylum in Israel, Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri confirmed Sunday.

Amin, who has been seeking refuge in Turkey for the past three years, was to be extradited to Iran, where she could face the death penalty.

The Jerusalem Journalists Association and the National Journalists Association approached Deri with the request on behalf of Amin, and he announced that the asylum was granted.

Amin also faced the death penalty in Iran for her columns in the Times of Israel Farsi addition.

Deri noted that Amin was facing a real threat to her life solely for writing columns for an Israeli news site.

“Under these explicit humanitarian circumstances, I granted her asylum without hesitation,” Deri wrote.

The state of human rights in Iran has been criticized both by Iranians and international human right activists, writers, and organizations.

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission have repeatedly condemned prior and ongoing abuses in Iran in published critiques and several resolutions.

The European Union (EU) in April extended sanctions against Iran by another year over what the bloc says are serious human rights violations.

In November, the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee urged the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease its widespread use of “disappearances” and arbitrary detention, and also expressed serious concern about Tehran’s severe limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and practice of religion or belief.

By: World Israel News Staff


Posted in Extradition, Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, Iran, Israel, Refugees, Turkey, United Nations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

As I See It: An open letter to Jared Kushner

Jpost Opinion

By Melanie Phillips / August 3, 2017

Dear Jared Kushner, I have been reading the remarks you made to a group of congressional interns about the difficulties of finding a solution to the Middle East conflict. Among other things, you said this: “We’re thinking about what the right end-state is, and we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution. And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future.”

It’s good that you appreciate the complexities of this situation. The failure to understand the dynamics of this problem and the attempt instead to frame it as Westerners frame all conflicts is one of the reasons why this one remains so intractable.

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I’m afraid, though, that you nevertheless fall into precisely the same trap. You said you had spoken to “a lot of people” who were involved in previous negotiations, which had taught you that “this is a very emotionally charged situation.”

Well, yes. I think we all kind of knew that already, don’t you?

You said: “You know everyone finds an issue, that ‘You have to understand what they did then’ and ‘You have to understand that they did this.’” But how does that help us get peace?

“Let’s not focus on that,” you add. “We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on how do you come up with a conclusion to the situation.”

If you really don’t think history is important, then you aren’t even going to get off the starting block. For heaven’s sake, this is all about history. The Jewish people’s unique claim to the land is rooted in the history of this land.

Without reference to that history, it is not possible to counter the big lie told by the Arab and Muslim world that fuels their attempt to destroy the State of Israel: that the Jews have no entitlement to the land.

It is history that tells us this is a war of aggression by the Arab and Muslim world against the Jews. And it really matters here who is the aggressor and who the victim.

The Western world dismisses that distinction as unimportant. As a result, it assumes this is a conflict between two warring sides. It is not. It is an attempt to annihilate a country that is defending itself against that onslaught.

History also tells us this has always been at base a war of religion. In the 1920s, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, incited pogroms against the returning Jews by claiming falsely that the Jews intended to destroy al-Aksa. Virtually the same words are being used today by the mufti’s contemporary cheerleader, Mahmoud Abbas.

What you don’t appear to have grasped is that the way this issue has been framed is fundamentally wrong. It is not a “conflict” but a war of annihilation.

There can be no negotiation with the aggressors in a war of annihilation, because any compromise with such a non-negotiable agenda is a form of surrender. Instead, the aggressor has to be defeated.

But you don’t seem to understand the Arab and Muslim agenda here at all. You think metal detectors “incited a lot of tension in the streets.” Are you really so ignorant? The incitement over the Aksa lie caused the murderous violence that made the metal detectors necessary. And it has continued after their removal.

You claim you were instrumental not only in getting them taken down, but also, “We were able to get the Israelis to take down the different forms of surveillance that the Jordanians were okay with, and we talked with the Palestinians the whole time to try to get their viewpoint on it.”

If so, it is astonishing that you pressed the Israelis to remove the surveillance necessary to prevent further acts of terrorism. The issue was not the surveillance apparatus but the refusal by the Arab and Muslim world to acknowledge any rightful Israeli presence on Temple Mount at all.

The correct response to such intimidation would have been to stand firm and denounce it for the act of religious war that it is. Instead, you actually facilitated it in order to appease Arab and Muslim rage.

This relates to the deeper flaw still in the way you are looking at this situation. For it’s not so much a question of what needs to be done, but rather what needs to be undone.

Britain, the US and Europe have been rewarding Arab and Muslim aggression in the Land of Israel for almost a century by treating that agenda as legitimate. This continues today in the West’s insistence on treating the Palestinians not as murderous and colonialist pariahs but as statesmen-in-waiting.

What you should be doing instead is stopping US funding of the Palestinian Authority while it continues to incite mass murder and psychotic hatred. And you need to sort out your own State Department’s endemic hostility to the state of Israel.

You say there may be no solution. There can be: but only if you first correctly identify the problem. Your heart is in the right place, but you appear to be dangerously naive.

I hope you will take these remarks in the positive spirit in which they are intended. Oh–and please do pass them along to your father-in-law. Doubtless he’d like to reflect on them, too.

Shabbat shalom,

The author is a columnist for The Times (UK).

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Wiesenthal Center Urges Homeland Security, US Attorney to Investigate Imam’s Call to Murder Jews

July 25, 2017

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) called on Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to launch an immediate investigation of Imam Ammar Shahin (pictured), the imam of the Islamic Center of Davis in California, for inciting to murder Jews.

In a letter to Secretary Kelly, SWC Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, SWC Interfaith Affairs Director, quoted from Shahin’s sermon, which said in part;

“The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews… Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews…. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them…Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds.” *

Cooper and Adlerstein added, “Secretary Kelly, as you know, Imam Ammar Shahin has deployed a tried and true script that has been used by Islamist extremists to incite murder and mayhem around the world. By explicitly urging Muslims to annihilate all Jews by their own hands, Shahin has crossed the line beyond protected speech. Homeland Security knows better than anyone else that Islamist terrorism — fueled by religious fanatics — constitutes the number one threat to the safety and security of the American people. In addition, American Jews are the number one target of religious-based hate crimes in our nation.”

They concluded, “As such we believe that US authorities, led by Homeland Security, have an obligation to fully investigate and take all appropriate actions in response to this explicit call to murder Jews.”

Center officials also contacted the US Attorney’s office to launch their own investigation and is urging public officials in California and across the country to denounce Imam Ammar Shahin.

*(translation by Middle East Media Research Institute)

For more information, please contact 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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