With rare Israel visit, Bahraini delegation seeks new dialogue for coexistence

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Times of Israel


In a strikingly rare instance of a visit to Israel by representatives from an Arab country without diplomatic relations, a delegation of religious figures from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain traveled to the Jewish state last month “to send a message of peace,” from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

“Our message is peaceful coexistence with no government involvement,” said Betsy Mathieson, president of the Bahrain-based nongovernmental organization “This is Bahrain,” who led the delegation.

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What a Soviet Dissident Sees in Iran’s Unrest

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Bloomberg


French President Emmanuel Macron is deeply concerned. His government has expressed tempered support for the demonstrations in Iran, but for now he is more worried about the reaction of America, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This week he warned that the full-throated endorsement for the unrest in Iran by these governments “is almost one that would lead us to war.” It reminds him of the “axis of evil.”

Macron, ever the keen student, believes the consensus of most regional experts, who say that the leaderless protests in Iran are likely to fail. What’s more, any full-throated expressions of solidarity will probably endanger the precious nuclear deal his government helped negotiate in 2015. Best to call on both sides to refrain from violence and continue the post-2015 policy of integrating Iran into the community of nations.

Macron is in sync with the European Union’s chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, who has issued a bland both-sides statement. The German government is singing from the same hymnal.

Now would be a good time for Macron and other European leaders to seek new counsel and listen to Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician. In an interview this week, Sharansky told me Macron’s response to the Iranian unrest reminded him of the appeasement crowd during the Cold War. It was the kind of thinking that led former president Gerald Ford to refuse a meeting with the Soviet author of “The Gulag Archipelago,” Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

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Breaking a major taboo in the Arab world, famous Egyptian academic Saad Eddin Ibrahim went to Tel Aviv this week to give a lecture. He knew it would be controversial.

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Alaraby


Egyptian academic Saad Eddin Ibrahim caused controversy after giving a lecture in Israel.

The 79-year old sociologist was received on Tuesday as a rock star in the packed auditorium at Tel Aviv University. Around 600 people turned up to hear him, but soon it transpired – not everyone was happy.

Ibrahim was in Israel to participate in a two-day academic conference about Egyptian society, with his topic of discussion titled: “Lesson from 100 years of changes in Egypt”.

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Shame: 10 Ways Israel Is Treated Differently

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Huffington Post

David Harris, Contributor: The recent focus on the Jerusalem issue is a telling reminder that Israel is treated according to a totally different standard than other countries in the international system.

Of course, Israel deserves attention and scrutiny as does every other nation. But it also merits equal treatment — nothing more, nothing less.

First, Israel is the only state whose capital city, Jerusalem, with which the Jewish people have been umbilically linked for more than 3,000 years, is not recognized by almost all other countries.

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The Ayatollah Empire Is Rotting Away

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Tablet

By Edward N. Luttwak: Ronald Reagan, who outraged the Washington elite and frightened European leaders by flatly refusing coexistence with the Soviet Union, lived to see its sudden decline and fall. There is a fair chance that Donald Trump, who contradicts Barack Obama and Europe’s leaders by refusing coexistence with Iran’s ayatollah empire, will also have the satisfaction of seeing the dissolution of a regime that Obama among many others preferred to accommodate.

Whether or not this past weekend’s mass demonstrations in Iran will spread, whether a second revolution is imminent or not, the numbers for the ayatollah empire just don’t add up. A breakdown is materially inevitable.

With some 80 million people, and with oil accounting for 80 percent of its exports, Iran would need to export some 25 million barrels a day to make a go of it, but it can barely export 2.5 million. That would be luxuriously ample for the likes of Abu Dhabi with fewer than 800,000 citizens, but it is a miserable pittance for Iran, with a population more than 100 times as large.

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Iran’s complex of crises catches up with the regime

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ATimes


By David P. Goldman: A jump in poultry prices sparked Iran’s protests of the past several days according to media reports. If this is true, the spark landed on long-prepared tinder. Iranian authorities claim that the 40% jump in egg prices in some Iranian cities was a temporary effect of an outbreak of avian flu, although egg prices had already risen by nearly 30% year-on-year as of November. The Iranian rial’s black-market exchange rate declined to 42,000 per dollar from 39,000 per dollar during December, portending a significant but hardly extreme rise in the overall inflation rate, which now stands at around 11%, far below the 35% rate of 2013.

Higher egg prices are an annoyance, but don’t explain the ferocity of the protests. The location of some of the most violent protests, though, is revealing. Radio Farda, an affiliate of America’s Radio Liberty, posted a disturbing smartphone video Jan. 2 showing a mob burning down the police station in the Iranian town of Ghahdarijan, 24km from the ancient city of Isfahan and too small to be found on Google Maps. It seems unlikely that the reach of Western intelligence agencies stretches into this central Iranian hamlet. But the villagers did have a grievance: the river Zayandeh Rud (“life-giver”) which gave rise to Isfahan dried up before reaching the city, the victim of Iran’s mismanagement of its dwindling water resources. Canals to distribute water to the city’s periphery were built by the Savafid dynasty in the 17th century and fostered a green city in the midst of the central Iranian desert.

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Iran Protests Accelerate Trump’s Consideration of New Sanctions

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Bloomberg


Deadly protests in Iran have intensified talks within the Trump administration about imposing fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic, as the U.S. president seized on the crisis to justify his long-standing opposition to a 2015 nuclear agreement.

President Donald Trump met Tuesday with Vice President Mike Pence and members of his national security team to discuss the protests amid deliberations already under way about reimposing suspended sanctions or adding new ones, according to two White House officials who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. The meeting came about 10 days before Trump must decide whether to continue waiving sanctions that were lifted under the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

“We certainly keep our options open” on adding to U.S. sanctions, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Tuesday. Trump took to Twitter earlier in the day to say the “people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime,” while U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said she’ll call for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.

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Middle East Protests in Iran stretch into third day despite government warnings

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Washington Post


Anti-government protests spurred by economic woes hit Iran for a third day Saturday, news agencies and social media reported, in what has quickly emerged as a significant challenge to the administration of President Hassan Rouhani.

Demonstrators protesting price increases and high unemployment turned out in cities and towns across the country, defying police and voicing anger at the cleric-ruled government, in an extraordinary display of public dissent.

Officials warned Saturday that citizens should stay away from “illegal gatherings,” even as protests spread to new regions.

Footage emerged late Saturday of demonstrators appearing to attack government buildings and engaging in violent confrontations with police. The BBC Persian service reported that two demonstrators had been shot in the western part of the country, citing video on social media. One video from Tehran showed protesters tearing down posters of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds absolute authority in Iran. The images were posted online and could not immediately be verified.

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Trump should crack down on UNRWA, finally end fiction of Palestinian ‘refugees’

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NY Post


As the UN General Assembly voted to reject America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, US Ambassador Nikki Haley issued a stern warning: We’ll remember this the next time you come calling for more hard-earned American taxpayer dollars. Most nation-states called her bluff, leaving many to wonder what comes next.

If President Trump wants to use his financial leverage at the United Nations to strike at the heart of the anti-America, anti-Israel institutional infrastructure, he should look no further than the agency responsible for Palestinian refugees: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

By most definitions, refugees are those forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence. Nearly every refugee in the world is cared for by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, whose ultimate goal is repatriation, resettlement and integration. The exception? Palestinian refugees.

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