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May 12, 2014

Pro-“Resistance” Conference In Beirut Draws American Activists

A recent conference held in Beirut to discuss issues related to Palestinian political prisoners featured the participation of members of several Palestinian terrorist groups, as well as the attendance of at least three American activists.Arab-International Forum of the Solidarity Organizations Supporting Freedom Prisoners in the Prisons of the Zionist Occupation

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a founder of the International Action Center (IAC), reportedly brought an American delegation to the conference, billed in the Arab media as “The Arab-International Forum of the Solidarity Organizations Supporting Freedom Prisoners in the Prisons of the Zionist Occupation.” The American activists were joined by representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as ambassadors from several countries, including Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Yemen, Morocco, and Sudan.

The conference took place at the Commodore Hotel in Beirut on April 30. Maher al-Taher, the Political Secretary of the PFLP, spoke at the opening ceremony of the conference and delivered greetings from the PFLP’s General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat who is currently serving a 30 year sentence in an Israeli prison for his role in leading the PFLP. In his remarks, Al-Taher said, “Sa’adat’s message is to end the negotiations entirely; they have failed and this has been proven repeatedly. We must develop a new strategy on the basis of Palestinian resistance.”

Charlotte Kates, a longtime activist with Al-Awda and a coordinator for the North American Network for the Steadfast Support of Prisoners, also spoke at the conference. According to a news article about the conference in The Ambassador, a daily Lebanese Arabic-language newspaper, she said: “We remain in support of the cause, which the prisoners have been killed and fought for…and topping it is the Right of Return and the liberation of their country from the occupation…We are in solidarity with the prisoners and in solidarity with the Palestinian cause, and we declare and stand by the side of the Palestinian and Arab resistance.”

According to a news article about the conference from Al Watan Voice, a daily Palestinian Arabic-language newspaper, other notable attendees of the conference were Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs and Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of imprisoned Fatah leader Marwarn Barghouti. During her address, Barghouti reportedly said, “We are here to revive the issue of the prisoners and to expose the crimes of the Israeli occupation in international forums.”

This is not the first time a conference held in Beirut featuring Palestinian terrorist groups has attracted Westerners. In January 2009 and 2010, similar conferences were held in Beirut, which Clark and other American activists attended as well.

News reports indicate that this year’s conference concluded with a series of proposed action steps, including an affirmation by participants “that the Resistance option in all its forms is the shortest way to liberate the prisoners from Israeli jails.” A second action step from the conference reportedly called for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against “all foreign companies and states that provide logistic, security, or administrative support” to Israel on issues related to detention of prisoners in Israeli jails.

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March 12, 2014

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The following is a selection of news reports and commentary from Iranian media and mainstream publications on developments pertaining to Iran. This weekly update includes a sampling of published reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media* as well as relevant articles from the international press.

Iranian Media

Lebanon and Palestine’s victory over the Zionist regime represented a glimpse of the IRGC’s power*
(DefaPress – March 5, 2014)

General Ramezan Sharif of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boasted of the IRGC’s military prowess and support for terrorist groups in Lebanon and Palestine. “A glimpse of the IRGC’s [power] was the aid to the victory of Lebanon and Palestine in transnational areas which the enemy itself is well aware of… Today the Islamic Republic will bring the largest damage to America for the smallest mistake. The enemy knows well that it is unable to provide security for the Zionist regime and this is the blessing of the IRGC’s power in the area of defense.”

Supreme Leader: Arrogant powers Spoiling from inside

khamenei-iran-anti-west

Supreme Leader Khamenei meeting with members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts 

(Fars News Agency – March 6, 2014)

In a meeting with members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated, “The superficial tranquility of the arrogant powers and the conventional powers ruling the world are being destroyed and one of its signs is the economic crisis in Europe and the US and the signs of their economic bankruptcy is becoming visible.”

Iranian envoy blames Israel for Syrian tragedy
(Fars News Agency – March 6, 2014)

Iran’s representative to Lebanon said in a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, that “the Zionist regime” is assisting rebel groups in Syria and caring for those injured in Israeli military field hospitals.

The Iranian nation will bury the hopes of America and Israel one by one*
(Tasnim News Agency – March 6, 2014)

IRGC Deputy Commander General Hossein Salami said in a statement in response to the AIPAC conference last week in Washington D.C., “The same way that we buried the enemy front in the past. Today, too, the Iranian nation will bury the hopes of the American leaders who are by the side of their Zionist friends. Be sure that the enemy is unable to do anything greater than it has done in the last 35 years. They did everything they could do and they have been faced with defeat.”

Tehran, Ashton pushes focus on negotiations with top Iranian officials*(Kayhan – March 9, 2014)

In response to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s official visit to Tehran, Ali Akbar Velayati, a former Iranian foreign minister and special advisor to the Supreme Leader, criticized U.S. officials and their threats against Iran. Velayati said, “Instances of these types of [unproductive] comments [regarding sanctions] by John Kerry and the President of the United States are against Iran and are due to pressure from the Zionists,” Velayati said at a press conference following his meeting with Ashton.

Al-Zahar: Iran, Hamas to further deepen relations soon
(Fars News Agency – March 10, 2014)

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, spoke of improving relations between the Islamist militant group and Iran, “The Hamas movement and Iran have taken special measures and we will see many changes in these relations soon.”

President Rouhani: Regional peace, stability impossible without Iran’s partnership
(Fars News Agency – March 10, 2014)

In a meeting with family members of Iranian soldiers killed during the Iran-Iraq war, President Rouhani commented, “If the enemy once thought in the early days of the (Islamic) Revolution that Iran was a weak country and could be destroyed by military attack, today it is obvious to everyone that Iran is the most powerful and mighty country in the region.”

Leader’s Aide: Islamic Ummah to continue support for Palestine, resistance against Israel
(Fars News Agency – March 10, 2014)

Addressing a gathering of the High Council of the Islamic Awakening World Forum this week, Velayati, the special advisor to the Supreme Leader, pledged continued support for Palestine against Israel. “The enemy is attempting to marginalize the Palestinian issue and draw it off the Muslim world’s priorities…The Islamic Ummah will continue its support for the oppressed Palestinian people and resistance against the Zionist regime,” Velayati said to the gathering.

Our finger is on the trigger to destroy the Zionist regime from a distance of 1,400 kilometers*
(Tasnim News Agency – March 10, 2014

Addressing a seminar on the Role of the Muslim World on Tuesday, IRGC Deputy Commander General Hossein Salami said, “From a distance of 1400 kilometers, our finger is on the trigger to destroy the Zionist regime. It is Islam that has given us the power and expansion to dominate the hearts of the Palestinian people from such geographical distances. Islam gives us hope and force, which allows us to be able to use the necessary force and capacities to destroy the Zionist regime, and until that day comes, our finger will remain on the trigger.”

International Media

Israel’s ‘campaign between the wars’ with Iran (Al-Monitor – March 7, 2014)

Last week’s Israeli naval interception of Gaza-bound missiles from Iran poses the question whether President Rouhani was involved in the planning and/or execution of the shipment.

Iran president condemns hard-line media crackdown
(Washington Post – March 8, 2014)

In a meeting with the nation’s newspaper managers, President Rouhani criticized the closing of two reformist-leaning newspapers in recent months. “Stopping the operation and closing (newspapers) is the last solution – not the first one,” Rouhani said. He added, “Why today is some media absolutely free and some others have little share of this freedom? Government critics and opponents are free and will be free but let government’s supporters also enjoy the same freedom and security as well.”

Mercy and social media slow the noose in Iran
(New York Times – March 8, 2014)

As execution by public hanging has steadily risen since President Rouhani’s election in June 2013, Iranians increasingly resort to social media to spread awareness.

Will Iran’s ‘end to extremism’ take hold?
(Christian Science Monitor – March 9, 2014)

President Hassan Rouhani met with Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, in her first visit to the Islamic Republic since her appointment.

Iran tells EU’s Ashton nuclear deal possible ‘in months’
(BBC – March 9, 2014)

During a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Tehran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that a nuclear deal could be reached “in four or five months and even shorter.”

Thwarted, for now, Iran’s bid to target all of Israel from Gaza
(Times of Israel – March 10, 2014)

An analysis of Iran’s endeavors to arm militant groups in Gaza and Lebanon with far-reaching missiles that can strike anywhere in Israel.

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June 19, 2013

Where Calling Someone A Jew Or An Israeli Is The Ultimate Insult

nasrallah-billboard-jew-lebanon-hezbollah

Nasrallah billboard in Tripoli, Lebanon

A billboard in the streets of Tripoli, Lebanon, insulting Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah demonstrates how even an enemy of the Jewish people like Nasrallah is subject to attack by his enemies as being a tool of the Jews.

The billboard, apparently placed last week in response to Hezbollah’s support of the Syrian government’s ongoing fight with Sunni rebels, shows Nasrallah with the Star of David on his turban, blood around his mouth and wearing a black eye patch, an apparent reference to the iconic image of Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan. The script below the image said “Your mask fell off, oh you murderer of children and women.”

The billboard is a reflection of a larger schism within the Muslim world between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam. Both sides are invoking accusations of being a Jew or Israeli against the other as the ultimate insult.

Tripoli, a city with a majority of Sunnis, has experienced escalating sectarian tension in response to Hezbollah’s support for Syrian president Bashar Hafez al-Assad and his troops, which have been fighting Sunni rebels in Syria for over a year.

Images of the Nasrallah billboard have been widely shared on social media by those sympathetic with the Syrian rebels as well. Several Twitter users explicitly accuse Nasrallah of being a Jew, some claiming all Shia Muslims are allied with the Jews. It is a classic example of blurring the the line between anti-Israel and anti-Semitism propaganda.

Last February ADL issued a press release denouncing a similar conspiracy theory in the Middle East, which claimed the Muslim Brotherhood was secretly allied with Jews.

This past month, videos posted on YouTube showed demonstrators in Syrian cities chanting “Shia Shia oh you Jews… The army of Muhammad will return.” The slogan is a takeoff on the anti-Semitic slogan evoking the story of slaying thousands of Jews from the tribe of Khaiber in Arabia 1400 years ago.

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