Hamas backers rally in N.Y.'s Times Square in support of the organization's Oct. 7 mass terrorist attack, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo by Lev Radin/Shutterstock.
  • Words count:
    1095 words
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  • Publication Date:
    April 24, 2024
Headline
Biden administration caving to BDS tactics against Israel
Intro
The U.S. government is sourcing its information from “radical extremist organizations" that work to destroy the Jewish state.
text

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is reportedly considering blacklisting the IDF’s Netzach Yehuda Battalion under the “Leahy Laws,” two statutory provisions that, according to the State Department, prohibit the U.S. government “from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of gross violations of human rights.”

Extreme political NGOs and rights organizations often falsely accuse Israel of committing human rights abuses. In October 2022, DAWN (Democracy for the Arab World Now) submitted to the State Department a Leahy Law referral against the Netzach Yehuda Battalion for alleged “systematic and widespread abuses.”

The battalion, an exclusively male, ultra-Orthodox battalion that, until late 2022 served in the Jordan Valley and Samaria and today operates in Gaza fighting Hamas terrorists, has faced accusations of abuse, most notably in the case of 78-year-old Palestinian-American Omar As’ad, who in 2022 died after being detained by the battalion.

But many critics see this hostile move as nothing short of preposterous, with the Biden administration hoping to win over anti-Israel voters ahead of the U.S. elections in November by delegitimizing the Jewish state as it fights a crucial war against a genocidal enemy.

Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, specifically blamed U.S. President Joe Biden, telling JNS the president “appears to be ready to cross yet another Rubicon, this time in delegitimizing the military of a close democratic ally by fundamentally questioning its integrity, morality and adherence to the rule of law.”

Goldberg added that the Biden administration is sourcing its information from “radical extremist organizations that work to destroy the State of Israel on a daily basis—some with ties to terrorist organizations.”

According to Goldberg, the ongoing political warfare against Israel “has emboldened Hamas, Hezbollah, and ultimately Iran.

“That Hamas refuses to release any more hostages and that Iran felt so confident in launching 120 ballistic missiles at Israel is a direct result of the Biden administration using BDS delegitimization tactics against a democratic ally,” he said.

In an April 21 post on X, Goldberg called on U.S. senators to “elevate this [the Netzach Yehuda issue] to the President right now before the supplemental has passed the Senate, and get a firm commitment that such a morally bankrupt and irresponsible action will not occur. The House and Senate should ready legislative responses.”

He also accused some employees of the State Department of harboring “virulent anti-Israel sentiment” and said there are “radical anti-Israel activists inside the Biden administration” who have a “long-awaited dream of imposing sanctions on the IDF or its units.”

Goldberg called on committees of jurisdiction to “move expeditiously to demand Secretary Blinken turn over the list of organizations that submitted ‘evidence’ that’s been used as the basis for a potential imposition of sanctions. … All communications on this matter between both State and NSC [the National Security Council] and State and outside groups should be subpoenaed.”

Far-reaching damage

Jacob Olidort, director of research for the Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), told JNS the Biden administration’s reported decision to rebuke Israel “by imposing sanctions on a unit of its military—as well as the manner and timing of how it was done—causes far-reaching damage, in this case not only to the institution of the IDF but to Israel’s security.”

Israelis “across the political spectrum are right to view this as a rebuke of the entire IDF, with a secondary message that Israel’s military has no credible legal or judicial system to hold its own accountable,” Olidort said.

He said he considered the move as “a concession by the administration to parts of its electoral base during an election year as well as an expression of its personal displeasure with certain members of the Knesset.

“This move could not have come at a more inappropriate time—during war, as Israel prepares for the Rafah operation in Gaza and braces for escalation on its northern border as well as from Iran directly—or in a more distasteful manner—announced publicly by the secretary of state rather than through the discrete channels of deliberations between U.S. and Israeli militaries—and sends an unmistakable message to our adversaries abroad and their supporters on U.S. college campuses that the United States restrains its support for Israel during its most precarious moment,” Olidort said.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the Biden administration’s intentions to sanction the Netzach Yehuda Battalion. 

“I will strongly defend the IDF, our army and our fighters,” he said. “If somebody thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit in the IDF—I will fight this with all my powers. As our soldiers are united in defending us on the battlefield, we are united in defending them in the diplomatic arena.”

Defense Yoav Gallant spoke with Blinken on Sunday and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew, to discuss the issue of sanctions, according to an Israeli Government Press Office statement.

“The battalion’s activities are carried out in accordance with the values of the IDF and in accordance with international law,” Gallant said in the statement. 

He admonished the U.S. and said, “Any attempt to criticize an entire unit casts a heavy shadow on the actions of the IDF, which operates to protect the citizens of Israel. Damage to one battalion affects the entire defense establishment—this is not the right path for partners and friends.”

Gallant called on the U.S. to “withdraw its intention to impose sanctions,” adding that Israel’s “friends and our enemies are closely watching the ties between Israel and the United States, now more than ever.”

A slippery slope

Goldberg told JNS that using BDS tactics to delegitimize Israel and exercising the Leahy Laws “would start a slippery slope where the U.S. signals to the world that democracies are not capable of holding themselves accountable, giving the ICC [International Criminal Court] pretext to step in with arrest warrants for Israeli officials for made up war crimes, reopen investigations into the British military and eventually indict American officials for made-up war crimes, too.

“The president may think he’s just throwing another dart at Israel, but it’s actually a boomerang that will hit the U.S. military, too,” he said.

In his post on X, Goldberg wrote, “This is entirely a campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel—and to kneecap its efforts to defend its citizens from annihilation.”

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  • Words count:
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  • Publication Date:
    May 29, 2024

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Tuesday that it is investigating Rutgers University, the Los Angeles Unified School District and University of California, Santa Cruz under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The department and its Office for Civil Rights publicize new investigations weekly on Tuesdays. They don’t typically specify the reasons for the probes beyond saying they are for alleged discrimination for “shared ancestry,” which includes religion.

According to a separate listing on the Education Department website, the investigations of Rutgers and Los Angeles district relate particularly to religion. It wasn’t immediately clear if the one at the California state university also was in connection to alleged religious discrimination.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey has several campuses. The U.S. Department of Education identified the New Brunswick, N.J. campus as the one that is being probed.

“Rutgers fully cooperates with all investigations,” Kevin Lorincz, the public school’s communications director, told JNS.

Lorincz noted that Jonathan Holloway, the university’s president, has said that “Rutgers stands against antisemitism and against hate in all its pernicious forms.”

“The university strives to be a safe and supportive environment for all our students, faculty and staff,” Lorincz told JNS. “We reject absolutely intolerance based on religion, national origin, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability or political views.”

The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a nonprofit with a long history of anti-Israel statements, said in late April that it and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee had filed a Title VI complaint against Rutgers, citing an “ongoing, patterned anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim bigotry.” It wasn’t clear if that was the complaint that the Education Department is investigating.

Holloway was one of the university leaders to testify in a House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on May 23. 

“Dr. Holloway, you accepted eight of 10 encampment demands, including an egregious amnesty deal to Rutgers students and faculty involved in the encampment,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), the committee chairwoman, said during the hearing. “I would like to know what sort of message you think that sends to your Jewish students.”

JNS also sought comment from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District told JNS that the U.S. Department of Education had notified the district of “a complaint which does not allege antisemitism.”

Even before receiving the complaint, the district “has already been engaged in addressing the matter,” the district said.

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  • Words count:
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While “pro-Palestinian” demonstrators take full advantage of the privilege and freedoms that America offers—speech, assembly, plush campuses, deluxe tents—they exuberantly chant “Death to America” and support Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group that oppresses its people and denies them virtually all freedoms.

Even stranger is that the students espousing “woke” and leftist ideology support Islamist dictators who punish virtually all “progressive” social and political behavior.

Ironically, though students chant “Free, free Palestine,” that is not what Hamas stands for. Rather, the terrorists state that their goal is a Muslim caliphate governed by iron authoritarian rule—first in the Land of Israel, then in other infidel lands. They don’t aim to kill Jews because Jews “oppress” Palestinians, but rather because Islamists cannot permit a Jewish nation in the Muslim Middle East.

As many American college students have shown us on YouTube, they have no idea what “from the river to the sea” means or why “Israel commits genocide” is an absurd lie. Likewise, they seem oblivious to the political and social values of the Islamists they celebrate.

For example, none of Hamas’s fellow jihadists—like Iran, Hezbollah and the Houthis—embrace “progressive” concepts like DEI or gender equality. Rather, they support Muslim patriarchy and supremacy. Hence their relentless persecution of women, LGBTQ+ people and non-Muslims, such as Jewish, Christian and other religious minorities.

Hamas, Iran and other Muslim states also brutally enforce Sharia law, under which women are treated as chattel, forbidden from traveling without a male escort, prevented from working and not even allowed to go to school.

Neither do Hamas and their fellow Islamists believe in civil liberties. Few Arab nations would ever allow the kind of demonstrations that students have organized on American campuses. Indeed, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority forbids pro-Hamas demonstrations. Too dangerous.

It’s unlikely that today’s student protesters have thought much about the kind of lives they are wishing on their Palestinian “brothers and sisters.” Indeed, it’s doubtful most student protesters have heard about the woman in Gaza whom Hamas beat and jailed simply for hosting a dinner at which both men and women were in attendance. Nor have they likely considered that under Palestinian dictators, most Palestinians (and Muslims generally) struggle to find joy in the indulgences that make privileged American students so happy—like uncensored music, social media, art and literature.

Hamas (and virtually all other Middle Eastern nations) are politically repressive dictatorships. There is no free speech, no free press, no freedom of expression. Arbitrary arrest, torture and extrajudicial killings are commonplace. Any attempt to criticize leadership is ruthlessly put down, such as in 2018 and 2019, when Gazans began protesting under the slogan “We want to live.” In response, Hamas arrested, detained and beat up hundreds of the protesters, even killing some.

Similarly, when the “Women, Life, Freedom” protests began in Iran in 2022, the mullahs moved to crush the uprising and, according to Amnesty International, used rape and other sexual violence to do so. When American students chant “free, free, Palestine” is this the kind of freedom they envision?

Hamas does not support progressive values. In fact, there is no commitment to diversity, equity or inclusion anywhere in the Muslim world. To the contrary: Women, LGBTQ+ people and non-Muslims are brutally oppressed. In many, if not most cases, it is perfectly legal in Islamic states for men to beat their wives. Often, law in Muslim states mandates that women cannot travel without male escorts. Gay and trans people in Islamic countries must hide their sexual orientation or risk violence, jail time and even murder. As of 2022, Israel has given 66 Palestinian members of the LGBTQ+ community and other victims of domestic violence temporary refuge. How do progressive students—or their faculty mentors—square this circle?

Strict Sharia law governs life under Hamas, Iran and other Muslim rulers. Sharia aims to govern every aspect of a Muslim’s life, including social and legal systems. This means, among other things, modesty codes by which women are required to wear a hijab while out in public, if not cover themselves completely. Attempts to breach these codes are quickly quashed by so-called morality police. In one famous case, an Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, was murdered by morality police for wearing her hijab improperly.

Sharia law in Muslim countries often means the prohibition of the simplest pleasures. In Afghanistan, for example, music is completely banned, as are other forms of entertainment. And forget freedom of religion. If you’re anything but Muslim, you will likely be treated as a second-class citizen. At worst, you will suffer ethnic cleansing, as Christians and Yazidis of Iraq did at the hands of ISIS. Their crime? They are infidels. Being Jewish in the Muslim world can also mean a death sentence, which is why Jewish communities in the Arab world, which once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, are now all but extinct. When American students scream, “Globalize the intifada,” is this the “revolution” they’re chanting for?

Neither Hamas’s Gaza nor any other Arab or Islamist state permits democracy. If you don’t like your political leaders—such as 80% of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria who oppose Mahmoud Abbas, now in his 20th year of a four-year presidency—you can do nothing. If you don’t like Sharia law in Iran, Gaza or Afghanistan, you can’t change it. Nor can you change laws against free speech, press or assembly.

Yet, students on college campuses across the U.S. chant “Death to America!” They advocate the destruction of Israel, one of the world’s strongest democracies and the Middle East’s only democracy, where Arab-Israelis enjoy more freedom than their brethren anywhere in the region—equality, prosperity and full civil liberty. Where is the disconnect?

By supporting Hamas and other Islamist forces, American students are condemning Palestinians and their fellow Arabs to hell. A hell that these students—we must assume—would never wish on their friends, families, fellow students or themselves.

Originally published by Facts & Logic About the Middle East (FLAME).

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  • Words count:
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "vampire who feeds on blood" and urged Muslims to act against the "threat" posed by the Jewish state.

"The world is watching the barbarity of ... a psychopath, a vampire who feeds on blood called Netanyahu, and they are watching it on live broadcast," Erdoğan said in a speech to members of his AK Party.

"Oh, the American state, this blood is on your hands also. You are responsible for this genocide at least as much as Israel. Oh, the heads of state and government of Europe, you are also a party to Israel's genocide, this barbarism, this vampire-like act of Israel, because you remained silent," the Turkish leader charged, according to a readout.

"No state is safe unless Israel accepts international law and considers itself to be bound by it. This includes Turkey," added Erdoğan, who stands accused of oppressing and killing the Kurds in his country.

Erdoğan urged Muslims and "young people" around the world to help eradicate Zionism, which he denounced as "lawless perversion," and stop Netanyahu's "murder network" from "spiraling out of control."

"I have a few words to say to the Islamic world from here: What are you waiting for to reach a joint decision? Allah will hold you, all of us, accountable for this," he said.

https://twitter.com/trtworld/status/1795750822023991377/

Erdoğan has publicly sided with Hamas since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, which saw the Islamist group invade the northwestern Negev, murder some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnap more than 250.

Last month, Ankara invited Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas's "political" bureau, to stay in the country, praising him as a "leader of the Palestinian struggle."

Erdoğan also blocked his country's exports to the Jewish state, prompting Israel to end its free trade agreement with Ankara.

In November, he told his country's parliament that Israel would soon be destroyed.

Erdoğan has made a habit of comparing Netanyahu and Israel to the Nazis. Late last year, he said the Jewish leader is "no different" than Hitler. Then, on May 12, the Turkish president claimed Netanyahu "has reached a level that would make Hitler jealous."

In March, Erdoğan claimed that the Israel Defense Forces "continues to commit massacres against the Palestinian people," adding, "Netanyahu and his administration, with their crimes against humanity in Gaza, are writing their names next to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, like today's Nazis."

The Turkish president also expressed his support for Hamas, saying his government was in "constant contact" with the terrorist group's leadership.

"Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but rather a resistance, and we stand firmly behind them and [are] in constant contact with its leaders," he said. "We cannot be coerced into designating Hamas as a terrorist organization. We communicate with them openly and stand behind them."

Netanyahu blasted the Turkish leader over the remarks, saying, "Israel observes the laws of war and will not be subject to moral preaching from Erdoğan, who supports [the] murderers and rapists of the Hamas terrorist organization, denies the Armenian Genocide, massacres Kurds in his own country and cracks down on regime opponents and journalists."

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  • Words count:
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The flag of the United Nations was flown at half-staff last week to honor the late Ebrahim Raisi, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who perished in a helicopter crash.

Known at home as the “Butcher of Tehran,” Raisi was responsible for torturing and brutally executing thousands of Iranian political prisoners, minorities and women. The regime he served supports Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his “sincere condolences” for Mr. Raisi. The U.N. Security Council, at the request of Russia, China and Algeria, held a moment of silence for the neo-imperialist theocrat. America’s representative dutifully stood for the ceremony.

Also last week, Norway, Spain and Ireland announced they would recognize a Palestinian state.

Hamas expressed its gratitude for this “historic turning point” brought about by the “brave resistance.”

Coincidently, videos released last week showed Hamas’s “brave resistors” on Oct. 7 harassing bloodied female soldiers abducted moments earlier. They called them sabaya, meaning sex slaves.

In another video, a young Gazan man recounted how he, a cousin and his father raped a hostage. He nonchalantly recalled: “After we finished raping her, my father killed her.”

But wait, there’s more: On CNN last week, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Asad Ahmad Khan announced that he will seek arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, and Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister.

Mr. Khan said he’d also like warrants for several Hamas leaders. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) observed: “Equating Israel’s democratically elected leaders with the perpetrators of the worst attack on Jews since World War II shows what a farce the International Criminal Court is.”

He added, “Mr. Khan’s kangaroo court has no jurisdiction in Israel to pursue these antisemitic and politically motivated ‘charges.’ My colleagues and I look forward to making sure neither Khan, his associates nor their families will ever set foot again in the United States.”

Sen. Cotton understands—as Mr. Khan apparently does not—that under international law the ICC has jurisdiction only over signatories to a 1998 treaty known as the Rome Statute. Israel didn’t sign. Neither did the U.S.

Mr. Khan’s workaround is to declare that he is pursuing these warrants on behalf of “the State of Palestine.”

Who governs that state? In Gaza, it’s been Hamas since 2007, two years after the Israelis withdrew every last Jew and Jewish grave from the territory.

In Judea and Samaria, it’s the Palestinian Authority, which is so weak that it would almost certainly be overthrown by Hamas were it not for Israel’s quiet support. The only way for the P.A. to return to Gaza—from which it was expelled by Hamas in a brief civil war after the Israeli departure—would be behind Israeli tanks.

There’s a second reason Mr. Khan lacks authority: Under the Rome Statute, the ICC was set up as a court of last resort, empowered only to investigate nations “unwilling or unable genuinely” to prosecute wrongdoing on their own. But Israel does that perfectly well. (The same cannot be said of any other nation in the Middle East.)

With all this in mind, Sen. Cotton and 11 other U.S. Senators wrote to Mr. Khan warning that they “will not tolerate politicized attacks by the ICC on our allies. If you move forward with the measures indicated in the report, we will move to end all American support for the ICC, sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States.”

Mr. Khan fired back: “When individuals threaten to retaliate against the Court or Court personnel … such threats, even when not acted upon, may also constitute an offense against the administration of justice under Art. 70 of the Rome Statute.”

Were you under the impression that Americans are guaranteed freedom of speech? Mr. Khan begs to differ.

Among those paying Mr. Khan’s salary and funding the lavish budget of the ICC bureaucracy in The Hague are Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and South Korea.

Do you suppose that President Joe Biden and his ambassadors could influence those countries if they tried?

Another important international organization came out in support of Hamas and its patrons in Tehran last week. Nawaf Salam, the presiding judge of the International Court of Justice, also headquartered in The Hague, declared, “Israel must immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah, “which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Mr. Salam is from Lebanon, a state dominated by Hezbollah, Tehran’s most formidable proxy, which since Oct. 7 has been firing hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, killing and wounding Israelis and causing tens of thousands to abandon their homes.

Hamas leaders welcomed Mr. Salam’s ruling. Israeli officials responded by saying, in effect, “Thanks for the guidance. We’ll continue fighting Hamas terrorists in such a way as to not bring about the physical destruction of the Palestinian group in Gaza, in whole or in part—even as Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields guaranteeing that civilians will be killed.”

These developments should serve as a reminder—not that you needed one—of what the U.N. and many other international organizations have become: clubs for tyrants, terrorists and antisemites, along with their fellow travelers and assorted useful idiots, all of them emboldened by billions of dollars provided by America and its allies.

As for the current leaders of Norway, Spain and Ireland, they are demonstrating the truth of the adage that ideas can’t be destroyed militarily. During World War II, all three of these nations were neutral toward or actively supportive of the Nazis, whose big ideas included mass murdering Jews.

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Brazil reportedly recalled its ambassador to Israel, Federico Meyer, on Wednesday. He will purportedly be transferred to another position in Geneva. No plans for a replacement were announced.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said it had received no official message on the matter. It summoned Brazil's deputy ambassador for a meeting on Thursday to discuss the situation.

Meyer has been out of Israel since February, when he was called home for consultations.

Relations between the two countries started to deteriorate that month, when Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told reporters during a trip to Ethiopia that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza and likened the Jewish state to Hitler and the Nazis.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz declared Lula persona non grata the next day, Feb. 19, during a hastily pulled together tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem with Meyer.

Katz said that until Lula apologizes Israel “will not forget and we will not forgive.” Brasília recalled its ambassador for consultations following the meeting with Katz.

Lula doubled down, claiming in April that more than 12 million children had died in Gaza and Israel due to the then-nearly-six-month-old war.

At the time, Hamas claimed that about 25,000 people had been killed in Gaza, including terrorists. The total population of the Gaza Strip is 2.3 million.

Other South American countries that have severed ties with Israel over the Gaza war are Colombia, Bolivia, Chile and Honduras.

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Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) stated on Tuesday that she is "horrified" by "the ongoing Israeli invasion of Rafah."

"At least 60 civilian lives were lost when the Israeli military targeted a Palestinian displacement camp on Sunday and today," the congresswoman stated.

"Not enough is being done to protect innocent Palestinians caught in the crosshairs. That must end," she said. "Already, Israel's military forces have killed tens of thousands of innocent people and created a humanitarian crisis that has put millions at risk of starvation."

She further claimed that Israel does not have a plan to protect civilians.

"We need a dramatic increase in the humanitarian aid that is going to address the starvation of the Palestinian people," DeLauro said. "We need an immediate ceasefire to free the remaining hostages held by Hamas and preserve the lives and dignity of the Palestinian people."

On April 2, DeLauro accused the Jewish state of an "indiscriminate bombing campaign."

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The Jewish state has no truer friend than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the visiting U.S. lawmaker during a tête-à-tête at his office in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

"We have no better friend, and I mean it, than Senator Lindsey Graham," Netanyahu said, according to a Prime Minister's Office readout.

According to the PMO, Netanyahu thanked Graham for his unwavering support for Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism, as well as his "strong stand against the scandalous accusations against Israel by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoheItAmv0A

The South Carolina Republican touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday for his fifth visit since Hamas's Oct. 7 massacre.

Graham told Netanyahu that the past seven-plus months have been "one of the most challenging times for the State of Israel since its founding. There are so many problems and challenges to overcome, but one of the problems you never have to worry about is America.

"I promise you that we will do all we can, Mr. Prime Minister, to hold the ICC account for this outrage against the people of Israel," he vowed.

Meanwhile, Graham described the International Court of Justice, which last week ordered the Israel Defense Forces to limit the scope of its operation in the Gaza Hamas stronghold of Rafah, as a "joke."

"The head judge of the ICJ is a raving antisemite," he said of Nawaf Salam, the Lebanese diplomat who presides over the world court.

Following his arrival on Tuesday, Graham joined Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana to see some of the ballistic missiles that the Iranian regime fired into Israel last month and visit the site of Hamas attacks.

"This rocket behind us is just the latest example of how the Ayatollah's terror regime threatens world peace & destabilizes the Middle East," tweeted Ohana, adding that with Tehran racing towards anuclear bombs, "the free world is fortunate to have champions" like Graham.

https://twitter.com/AmirOhana/status/1795463243370025288

The senator on Tuesday also met in Tel Aviv with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who thanked the American for his "unwavering support for Israel as we fight to bring home 125 hostages, destroy the Hamas terrorist organization and defend Israel's northern border."

During a previous visit in March, Graham expressed support for destroying the remaining Hamas battalions in Gaza, including in Rafah.

"If these battalions are still standing when this is over, it would be the biggest mistake, maybe in history," the he said. "I'll say it again. If these battalions are still standing after the murder of the Jewish people, it would be the biggest mistake in history. Iran would celebrate."

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El Al Airlines on Wednesday announced a record profit of over $80 million in the first quarter of the year.

The unprecedented number for Israel’s national carrier comes at a time when many international airlines have suspended service to Tel Aviv in the wake of the nearly eight-month-old war against Hamas in Gaza, and amid complaints of price gouging that has sent airfares soaring.

By comparison, the company posted net loss of nearly $35 million in the corresponding quarter last year.

El Al accounted for 62% of the passenger traffic at Ben Gurion Airport in the first quarter of 2024, according to the Israel Airports Authority, compared with 22% in the first quarter of 2023.

Over the Passover holiday, traditionally a high tourism season, El AL was only the carrier to offer trans-Atlantic flights to the United States, after United suspended service anew in the wake of Iran's April 13 attack on Israel.

Both the Chicago-based United and the Atlanta-based Delta are slated to resume nonstop service to Tel Aviv next month. American Airlines is only expected to renew flights to Israel in the fall.

The Israeli airline forecasts that the second quarter of 2024 will be even stronger.

"In light of the instability in aviation in Israel and the increasing pressures on our flights, we continue to work intensively to increase the supply of seats and strengthen flight schedules, while providing individual responses to specific cases," said El Al CEO Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia. "We are doing everything in our power to provide an adequate response to the high demands and unusual loads on the company's service system, at a time when some of our staff are still serving in reserve duty and the company is operating on a war routine."

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Israel's Knesset on Wednesday passed in preliminary reading a bill designating the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as a terrorist organization.

The draft legislation, initiated by Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker Yulia Malinovsky, would require Jerusalem to sever all ties with the U.N. agency.

If passed into law, the bill “will allow for a complete dissociation from the agency—no cooperation, no trade, nothing,” Malinovsky told JNS.

“For years this organization has been cooperating with Hamas, and on October 7 even actively participated in the murder, kidnapping and rape of Israeli citizens,” she said. “Today was the first step on the way to completing the legislation so that UNRWA is finally outlawed and defined as a terrorist organization,” she added.

Also passed in preliminary reading on Wednesday was a bill initiated by Likud MK Dan Illouz that seeks to strip UNRWA of various immunities, involving among other things taxation, imports and exports and lawsuits.

"This is an essential law for our national security. After October 7, we cannot continue as if nothing happened," Illouz told JNS. "We cannot allow the terror supporting organization UNRWA to operate against us. We are fighting for our security and our future and UNRWA cannot pretend to be a humanitarian entity while harming us. That ends today."

After the bills were passed, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman tweeted: “UNRWA is a terrorist organization.” He praised Malinovsky for “leading the important initiative to legislate a law to define UNRWA as a terrorist organization. ”

He called on “all the Zionist factions in the Knesset to act together with us" to pass it into law "as soon as possible.”

UNRWA has come under fire since the start of the war on Oct. 7 for its terror ties.

In February, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told journalists that 30 UNRWA employees had participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, and that 1,468 of the agency’s 13,000 staff members in Gaza were members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He also shared the names and photos of 12 UNRWA employees Israel had accused in January of taking part in the massacre.

In January, a comprehensive report published by U.N. Watch revealed the existence of a Telegram group for UNRWA teachers in Gaza in which many glorified the massacre and advocated the execution of Israeli hostages.

“This is the motherlode of UNRWA teachers’ incitement to jihadi terrorism,” said U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer at the time.

Per the Knesset's legislative processes, the two bills will now be assigned to committees, where their details will be ironed out prior to first, second and third readings.

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