The White House has concluded that man-made uranium discovered last year by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the Iranian military site, Parchin, was likely used for the development of nuclear weapons, according to The Wall Street Journal on Sunday. Jay Solomon of the Journal details that among administration officials, “the working assumption now is that it [the uranium discovery] is tied to nuclear weapons development that Iran is believed to have pursued more than a decade ago.” While the officials said that the uranium particles found at Parchin “by themselves don’t definitively prove anything,” the revelation underscores the need for the IAEA to have access to Iran’s military sites of suspected nuclear weapons work to determine the full scope of Iran’s past weaponization activity, including what took place at Parchin. It also highlights the fact that the IAEA's investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program should not have been closed following its December report that detailed the uranium finding. After the December report, David Albright, a former weapons inspector for the IAEA, made the case that the “Parchin file can in no way be considered closed…[T]he IAEA should continue its investigation into the activities that took place at the site. It is time that Iran starts to admit what really happened at Parchin.”
During the IAEA’s investigation into Iran’s past weapons work last fall, the Journal reports that Iran “didn’t allow the agency to interview top nuclear scientists believed to have overseen nuclear weapons development.” Iran was also allowed to collect its own samples at Parchin without the presence of IAEA officials. Solomon explains: “Normally, the IAEA requires additional samples to be taken when there are irregularities found in their tests, such as the presence of man-made uranium...But under last year’s nuclear agreement, Tehran was only required to allow the IAEA’s inspectors to visit the Parchin facility once.” Solomon concludes that it is unclear if Iran would allow the IAEA back into Parchin, writing: “Iranian officials have said last year’s visit wouldn’t be repeated.” After the IAEA’s investigation, Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the IAEA, argued: “Without Iran’s cooperation and transparency, the file simply cannot be closed” and that without a “complete understanding” of Iran’s work on weaponization, “effective verification will be compromised.”
Following the announcement of the deal last July, President Barack Obama told reporters: “Because of this deal, inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location. Put simply...the IAEA...will have access where necessary, when necessary. That arrangement is permanent. And the IAEA has also reached an agreement with Iran to get access that it needs to complete its investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear research.”
In wake of a debunked claim last week that Israel was cutting water supplies to Palestinians in the West Bank, when in fact it had increased allocations during Ramadan, the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry claimed that a rabbi authorized Jews to poison wells belonging to Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.
In a statement, the PA’s Foreign Ministry cited a report from Turkey’s state-run Andalou news agency, which alleged that a “Rabbi Mlmad” had issued a ruling allowing Jews to poison Palestinian wells. The statement decried the supposed ruling as a crime against humanity and called on Israel to arrest the rabbi. “What is the international community waiting for to interfere; the death of thousands of Palestinians of thirst?” the ministry asked.
The Post observed that “false accusations of poisoning wells have been used to inflame violence against Jews since as early as the Middle Ages.”
The Andalou report, which initially published the allegations against a “Rabbi Shlomo Mlma, chairman of the Council of Rabbis in the West Bank settlements,” was later picked up by the website Palestine Chronicle and the anti-Israel blog Middle East Monitor. Basem Naim, a former Hamas health minister and self-described head of Hamas’ Council on International Relations, tweeted the charge along with a photo of Israeli MK Yisrael Eichler.
The Jerusalem Post was unable to verify the existence of any Rabbi Shlomo Mlma or Mlmad, or of the Council of Rabbis in West Bank settlements. However, it noted that “there is a Council of Rabbis in Judea and Samaria, led by Yishai Babad,” as well as a rabbi named Zalman Melamed in Beit El, located in the West Bank. Rabbi Melamed denied ever issuing such a ruling, telling the media watchdog CAMERA that he does not “believe any rabbi would say something like that.” Melamed also denounced the charge as a blood libel.
Andalou attributed the allegations in its report to Breaking the Silence, a group with the stated goal of ending the occupation of Palestinian territories. A spokesman for Breaking the Silence told the Post that it had no testimony about poisoning Palestinian wells. Notably, the Hebrew-language website NRG last week posted a video of a leader of the group claiming less than two years ago that Israelis had poisoned a well to induce Palestinians to move from their land.
Claims that Israel had reduced water to Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan, published last week by Al Jazeera and The Independent, were refuted by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which reportedthat water supplies to Palestinian communities had, in fact, increased during Ramadan.
Peter Yeung, who wrote The Independent report, oddly defended his report by effectively admitting that it was an unsubstantiated allegation.
Prof. Chaim Gvirtzman, one of the top experts on water supplies in the West Bank, observed in 2014 that “There is no real Palestinian desire to solve water problems; they prefer to perpetuate the water problems in order to besmirch the State of Israel. They view water as a tool with which to bash Israel.”
Similarly, Akiva Bigman observed in the Myth of the Thirsty Palestinian, which was published in the April 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine:
To the extent that a viable water supply infrastructure exists in the West Bank, it is because Israel built and maintained it. While this infrastructure was certainly constructed, in part, to service Israeli communities, its benefits have not been denied to the Palestinians, and no one familiar with the statistics involved can claim otherwise without being patently dishonest.
That Israel is so consistently blamed for this problem is especially problematic because it makes it less likely that the Palestinians will deal with it themselves. As shown above, the Palestinians have the ability to both live up to their obligations under international law and solve their existing water problems in doing so. The money, technology, and knowledge they need all exist and are available to them from both foreign and Israeli sources. That the Palestinians have either chosen not to avail themselves of such aid or cannot do so effectively due to internal problems is tragic, but it is not the fault of the State of Israel. (via TheTower.org)
Israel’s National Rhythmic Gymnastics team won a gold medal in the clubs and hoops contest at the Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championship, over the weekend. The five member squad also won a silver medal in the ribbon routine and a bronze medal in the All-Round Group contest. “The Israeli team has proven itself in real time, showing us what it is made of. The European Championship is the final test before Rio 2016, and there is no better evidence to prove the strength of the team,” said Ophir Pines-Paz, Chairman of Israel Gymnastics Federation. “This is an impressive achievement for the National RG team and the coaches, headed by Ira Vigdorchik.” The European contest was held in Holon, marking the first time in history that the event was held in Israel. Thirty-seven countries and 280 gymnasts took part in the championship. “This is the largest Championship ever to take place. We have invested a great deal in order to host the Championship here in Holon and I am confident it will be an incredible one,” said Pines-Paz. (via Israel21c)
Yoav is a nine-year-old boy with big brown eyes, olive skin, deep dimples, and a confident swagger. He lives in a split-level home on a residential street that curves along a mountain ridge in a prosperous Israeli town. He attends the neighborhood public school, an attractive complex with eco-friendly playground equipment, ample basketball courts, and colorful classrooms. Yoav wears clothes and gym shoes on a par with the other kids. Nothing seems to set him apart from other children. His favorite subject is math. He plays soccer and studies dog training as after-school activities. He loves playing cards and video games and jumping on the trampoline in his backyard.
But Yoav (not his real name) is one of 350,000 children in Israel who are considered to be “at risk.” Though the definition is broad, “at risk” generally refers to children whose families live at or below the poverty line. In Israel, children at risk account for about 16 percent of the under-18 Jewish population, a percentage consistent with much of the Western world.
“In Israel, as in other countries, there is a big correlation between being disadvantaged and being poor, and it expresses itself in poor scholastic achievement and high drop-out rates,” says Chaim Adler, emeritus professor of education at Hebrew University and winner of the Israel Prize for pioneering research on the sociology of education.
Of those 350,000 Israeli children, Yoav is one of 10,000 who receive out-of-home services under the auspices of the Ministry of Welfare. That is, he does not live at home with his family. On Tuesdays, his mother, Elisheva, comes to visit; and every other Shabbat, he goes home with her to Jerusalem. But then Yoav returns to a mishpachton, a family group home with 11 children ranging in age from eight to 18.
In Israel, like everywhere else, the decision to take a child out of the home is fraught with risks. “We’re always criticized,” says Dalia Lev-Sadeh, head of Services for Children and Youth at the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs. “If we take kids out of the home, we’re kidnapping. If we don’t take them out, we’re afraid of the parents.”
Yoav, however, is one of the few for whom the decision was voluntary. His mother wanted it. Elisheva, an artist and single parent, was overwhelmed by her son’s behavioral and educational problems. In school, Yoav was hard to control and frequently suspended. New schools were tried, unsuccessfully. Ritalin was not an option she was willing to consider. As a result, at age seven-and-a-half Yoav couldn’t read and was a chronic truant. His budding skillset, however, was evident. He could hawk used toys and household items on the street, negotiate deals, and do math well enough to make change. He could rappel down a mountain and fashion bows and arrows that actually worked. The Ministry of Welfare and Social Services did not see Yoav as a lost cause. Instead, they recognized a need.
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