- Leading Lebanese MP assails Tehran’s intervention in Lebanese politics: “There’s a clear Iranian decision to block the election of a president”
Forging new bonds across the region and elsewhere, Israel has never been in a better position diplomatically, Reuters reported on Thursday. Key examples of partnership include warming relations with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, countries that increasingly share security concerns with Israel. “Egypt even allows Israel to conduct drone strikes against militants on Egyptian territory” in the common battle against the Islamic State and Hamas, and Saudi Arabian leaders have made visits to Israel.
A new alliance has been formed between Israel, Greece and Cyprus; their militaries hold “extensive air and naval exercises together.” Earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades held a three-way summit that “concluded with the creation of a de-facto geopolitical bloc between the three states.”
In other recent diplomatic developments, Netanyahu convened a summit with at least 15 leaders and representative of African countries last week at the United Nations, where he expressed his desire to share Israeli technology with African nations. The Israeli prime minister visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia this summer, the first time in almost 30 years that an Israeli head of state had visited sub-Saharan Africa. Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break. Netanyahu has made it a priority to strengthen Israel’s commercial, diplomatic, and security relations with African countries.
Assembly Bill 2844, which unanimously passed California’s assembly at the end of August, requires that companies seeking to do business with the state verify that they are not violating its civil rights laws while boycotting a foreign country. Israel, which has been singled out by proponents of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is the only country mentioned by name in the legislation.
“The bill sends the clear and unmistakable message that the state of California wants no part of the goals and tactics of the BDS movement,” Janna Weinstein Smith, the Los Angeles director of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement praising the signing of the measure.
California is the 12th state to pass a bill against BDS on the grounds of its discriminatory nature, according to a count by Palestine Legal, which works on behalf of pro-Palestinian campaigners. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a number of agreements with Brown while visiting California in 2014, including one to provide the Golden State with training in “water conservation and desalination techniques” developed by Israeli scientists.
Iran is obstructing the election of a Lebanese president, a Lebanese member of parliament said on Sunday, highlighting continued Iranian and Hezbollah attempts to dominate Lebanese politics. Jamal al-Farrah, who belongs to the Future Movement party, explained, “[Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad] Hariri made several initiatives to end the presidential void, including nominating [Suleiman] Franjieh, but there’s a clear Iranian decision to block the election of a president.” Franjieh is one of the top two contenders for the position of president of Lebanon – the other is Michel Aoun, the favorite of Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah, which have together been able to paralyze the Lebanese political system. Franjieh also enjoys support from Iran and the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Lebanon has not had a president since May 2014 and its parliament has failed 44 times to elect one, most recently on September 8. Resigned Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi vowed, “We will not allow what’s happening in Baghdad, Damascus and Sanaa to happen in Beirut and we will be fierce fighters in defending our Arab and Lebanese identity and in preventing the Iranian axis from changing it.”
Ya Libnan reported last week that Naim Qassem, the second-in-command of Hezbollah, had acknowledged that his organization had blocked the appointment of a new Lebanese president. “The days have proved that there is a specific path for the presidency. Those who want to elect a president have only one route to take and it leads to General Michel Aoun,” Qassem said. “The global and regional powers, the Security Council and the Arab League will not be able to alter this course. They have been trying for two years to no avail.”
Hezbollah’s obstruction of the domestic Lebanese political process comes as the Iranian proxy is preparing for another war with Israel. An Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 that the buildup of Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound” and that their lives were at risk. Geoff Corn, an international military law expert, explained to The Weekly Standard that if Israel were to strike in this instance, “both legally and morally, the cause of these tragic consequences will lie solely at the feet of Hezbollah.” Because of this, Corn said, “Hezbollah should be pressured starting today to avoid locating such vital military assets among civilians.” Hezbollah has gained significant combat experience in Syria while supporting the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad, which the terror group will be able to deploy against Israel. Its arsenal of rockets has increased tenfold since 2006 to more than 130,000, more than all non-U.S. NATO countries combined. The group also has hundreds of drones, Yakhont surface-to-sea missiles, anti-tank missiles (including the Russian Kornet), advanced anti-aircraft weaponry, long-range rockets, and M-600 ballistic missiles.
Female U.S. veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have the opportunity to travel to Israel in search of healing, NBC News reported Sunday. Heroes to Heroes, a nondenominational New Jersey-based nonprofit, organizes trips to Israel that allow for American veterans to meet with Israelis who also struggle with PTSD in pursuit of emotional and spiritual healing. The American veterans participating in the trip have the opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River or to plant trees to honor those killed in battle.
One participant, Kamilla Miguel, told NBC News about the emotional bond she saw between female veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces: “I wish all of us had that in the States, not just this little group…I mean – all the women in the U.S. should feel how they feel with each other, with this common bond and connection, it’s amazing.”
Heroes to Heroes was established by Judy Schaeffer, who felt she “had to do something to help” after she visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She remembered the “spiritual power” she had felt when she traveled to Israel as a teenager and believed that similar trips could provide healing to military veterans.