Smoke rises during an exchange of fire between the IDF and terrorists from the Hezbollah organization on the border between Israel and Lebanon, Dec. 3, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
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Three IDF soldiers wounded by shelling from Lebanon
Intro
Terrorist forces in Lebanon targeted Israeli military posts in the Shtula and Yiftah areas near the Israel-Lebanon border.
text

Three IDF soldiers were lightly wounded overnight Sunday by mortar shells launched from Lebanon toward Israeli military posts in the Shtula area near the Israel-Lebanon border.

On Monday morning, mortar shells were fired from Lebanese territory at an IDF post in the area of Yiftah, according to the military.

The IDF struck the source of the launches with artillery.

Several launches were also identified on Monday afternoon from Lebanon towards the Har Dov region, falling in open areas and another launch towards Misgav Am.

In response, the IDF struck the source of the launches.

In addition, the IDF said on Monday afternoon it targeted an operational headquarters and other terror infrastructure belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanese territory.

Later in the day, the IDF destroyed a Hezbollah weapons depot in Southern Lebanon after mortar shells were fired towards a military post on the border.

"A number of launches were detected from Lebanese territory towards the Tel Hai area, Kiryat Shmona and an IDF post in the Shtula area, the IDF attacked the sources of the fire," the army announced.

https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1731701686765252829

On Sunday, Ziv Medical Center in Safed admitted 12 people who had been wounded by an anti-tank missile from Lebanon earlier in the day.

One woman and 11 men between the ages of 20 and 65 were lightly wounded, the hospital said.

Several additional people, soldiers and civilians, were also lightly wounded in the attack, and a military vehicle in the area of Moshav Beit Hillel in the Eastern Galilee was damaged, the IDF said.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack.

The military on Monday revealed that on Sunday an Israel Air Force fighter jet successfully intercepted a hostile aircraft that was on its way to Israeli territory from Lebanon.

IDF Arabic Spokesperson Avichay Adraee tweeted on Monday that Hezbollah restarted attacks on Israel on Friday after a ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza ended, holding the Iran-backed terror group responsible for disrupting the calm on the border area.

https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1731576641762082875

"Hezbollah once again proved disruptive to the calm that had prevailed along the northern border and allowed many residents of southern Lebanon to return to their homes," wrote Adraee.

"Hezbollah broke the calm in support of the child killers and kidnappers of women affiliated with Hamas-ISIS. Hezbollah has proven once again that the Lebanese state is not its top priority. Hezbollah was the party that disturbed the calm on the border. Hezbollah is harming the Lebanese state," he added.

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    Update Desk
  • Publication Date:
    June 14, 2024

The pier anchored to the Gaza coast for purposes of aid delivery will again be relocated temporarily, U.S. Central Command said on Friday evening.

"Today, due to expected high seas, the temporary pier will be removed from its anchored position in Gaza and towed back to Ashdod, Israel," CENTCOM stated. "The safety of our service members is a top priority and temporarily relocating the pier will prevent structural damage caused by the heightened sea state."

"The decision to temporarily relocate the pier is not made lightly but is necessary to ensure the temporary pier can continue to deliver aid in the future," it said. "After the period of expected high seas, the pier will be rapidly re-anchored to the coast of Gaza and resume delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza."

Some 7.7 million pounds of aid have arrived via the pier since May 17, CENTCOM said.

The pier was removed after it broke, and pieces reportedly floated to shore. After its repair, it was re-anchored to the shore.

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    June 14, 2024

Experts told the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday that Congress ought to use its power of the purse to combat antisemitism on college campuses.

“We are seeing a kind of perfect storm of student violent extremism, professorial politicization, undisclosed foreign funding and often feckless and weak administration,” said Kenneth Marcus, founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. 

“Most of these institutions are tax-exempt and need to be held accountable if they do not meet the requirements of their tax-exempt status,” Marcus told the committee. “That’s true of the universities and also some of the organizations that have been fomenting hatred.”

The Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for taxation, is one of six House committees investigating the wave of antisemitism on college campuses in the aftermath of Oct. 7.

Thursday’s hearing also included testimony from recent Cornell University graduate Talia Dror, Columbia University professor Shai Davidai, American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch and Jonathan Pidluzny, a director at the America First Policy Institute.

Thursday’s hearing was less explosive than the grillings that university presidents have received in recent months that led to the resignation of the president of Columbia and contributed to the resignation of the president of Harvard University.

The sharpest exchanges Thursday included partisan disagreements about the extent to which “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives contribute to Jew-hatred.

“DEI teaches that the world is made up of oppressors and the oppressed, victims and those with privilege,” Pidluzny said. “Jews are coded as the oppressors by virtue of their political and economic success.”

“This is what creates a kind of permission structure for students to join in with the true radicals cheering for Hamas terrorists who deliberately kill children and rape hostages,” he added.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) disagreed with that perspective.

“Such claims not only misconstrue diversity, equity and inclusion but also basically pit one minority group against another,” he said. “DEI responds to decades of systematic exclusion of people of color from higher education in states like mine in Texas.”

“It seeks to create a culture of respect and understanding for all. Both communities of color and Jewish Americans are all too familiar with the very real prejudice that they’ve endured,” he added.

The hearing also probed the influence of foreign donations to American universities, with some congressmen questioning whether the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity status was intended to permit universities to receive billions of foreign dollars.

Repeated mentions of Qatar at the hearing—both as the host of the Hamas political leadership and as a multi-billion dollar donor to U.S. higher education institutions—prompted pushback from the Qatari embassy on Friday.

“Qatar has no desire or ability to influence anything that happens on U.S. university campuses,” the embassy stated. “It is flatly untrue, for example, that Qatar is the ‘largest foreign donor to U.S. universities’—a claim made to imply dark motives, and to undermine the strong U.S.- Qatar security and trade partnership.”

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) welcomed the testimony from Thursday’s panel but questioned the efficacy of congressional hearings in combating bigotry.

“It’s amazing that we think we can have a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee to come together to try to figure out what the heck is wrong with what’s going on in the world today,” he said. “The seeds of hate are sown long before the freshman year.” 

“I am amazed that we think there’s a political answer to a human problem,” he added.

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If you were wondering whether Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was just a publicity-hungry leftist provocateur or a serious politician determined to do everything to advance her career on the national stage, you now have your answer. In an act of political triangulation worthy of former President Bill Clinton, the founding member of the leftist congressional “Squad” popularly known as AOC managed to take a stand against antisemitism and earn the applause of the liberal Jewish establishment while being bashed by even more extreme Jew-haters.

That AOC did this after repeatedly employing rhetoric about Israel’s war against Hamas, including falsely accusing the Jewish state of genocide that has helped fuel the current surge in antisemitism throughout the United States, illustrates not just her hypocrisy and chutzpah but also that she is a savvy political player. For years, she’s been an avid supporter of the stands of “Squad” colleagues Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) as their open antisemitism became a national disgrace, as well as an indication of how she and fellow “progressives” were taking over the Democratic Party.

Her ability to flip the narrative about her anti-Israel incitement and demonization of the Jewish state is a testament both to her political acumen and the willingness of some of the people whose job it is to fight antisemitism to stay in sync with their allies on the Democratic left wing. But it’s also a sign of her ability to take advantage of an opportunity to position herself closer to the mainstream, thanks to the intolerance of left-wing extremists.

Pushing Biden to betray Israel

Since the Oct. 7 massacres in southern Israel, AOC has been a reliable Israel-basher and a key part of the left-wing coalition that has been pushing President Joe Biden and his administration to betray the Jewish state and let Hamas win the war. But for some on the far left, that wasn’t good enough. Videos of the congresswoman being harassed by extremists for supposedly not being sufficiently anti-Israel went viral and wound up getting more publicity than her positions and statements making it clear that she was firmly in the anti-Zionist camp, along with her pals Omar and Tlaib.

Such attacks were annoying, but they also served her purpose as she eyes a future in national politics. That might mean an attempt to challenge Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, also of New York, when he runs for re-election in 2028 or even a longshot run for the presidency that year or in the future.

Having staked out ground as a fierce opponent of Israel and an inveterate basher of the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby in terms that are indistinguishable from traditional antisemitic tropes, AOC ought to be radioactive to mainstream Jewish groups. But even after the events of the last eight months as the anti-Israel progressives did all they could to help Hamas and to undermine support for the Jewish state’s right to self-defense, some of the people tasked with defending the Jews are still eager to help their erstwhile allies.

Providing cover for an extremist

A prime example of this is Amy Spitalnick, head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella of Jewish community-relations groups across the nation. As I predicted when she was chosen for her job last year, Spitalnick is, even after Oct. 7, still more interested in fighting for the progressive political agenda and partisan Democratic goals than defending Israel and the Jews. So, it was unsurprising that she joined AOC, along with Stacy Burdett, a former ADL official, on a livestream webinar broadcast on X titled “Antisemitism and the Fight for Democracy.”

The title was the tip-off that the purpose of the program was to promote the Democratic Party’s main 2024 talking point rather than doing something about Jew-hatred. The point being that liberal groups like the JCPA agree that the only way to defend democracy is to keep the Democrats in power and regard the fact that it is the political left that is the main source of contemporary antisemitism as an inconvenient fact that may be an obstacle to achieving that objective.

So, Spitalnick and Burdett were happy to provide cover for AOC to try and wiggle the progressives out of their current dilemma where there is no longer any doubt about their being primarily responsible for an unprecedented surge in antisemitism. In order to do that, AOC had to be willing to do something that the leader of her party—the supposedly moderate pro-Israel President Joe Biden—has not been willing to do: Denounce the antisemites in his own party. As I noted earlier this year, Biden has been unwilling to have a “Sister Souljah moment” with the antisemitic wing of his party and has instead been kowtowing to the Democrats’ far-left and Arab-American elements as he sought to shore up support for his re-election effort among his party’s base.

Sensing an opportunity to position herself closer to the political mainstream without actually having to moderate her positions, AOC pounced. During the course of the webinar, she made a statement that made her appear as if she is an opponent of antisemitism while not budging an inch in her anti-Zionism and willingness to smear Israel as a monstrous country guilty of “genocide” against innocent Palestinians.

“Antisemitism, hate and violence against Jews because of their identity is real, and it is dangerous,” said Ocasio-Cortez, earning herself praise not just from her accomplices Spitalnick and Burdett, but even from a pro-Israel stalwart like Abe Foxman, the former head of the Anti-Defamation League in the days when it prioritized the fight against antisemitism rather than the cause of the Democratic Party, as is the case with his successor, CEO and national director Jonathan Greenblatt.

Indeed, Foxman wasn’t the only one duped by AOC into lauding her stand because of the belief that even the most minimal acknowledgment that antisemitism exists on the left seemed a breakthrough.

However, her point was that antisemitism undermined the progressive agenda. “Antisemitism is an assault on our values as Americans and especially as progressives,” she said. “Antisemitism is also a threat to a community that is a vital partner in our struggles against injustice. So, when the Jewish community is threatened, the progressive movement is undermined. That is why we reject it as fiercely as we reject and look for misogyny, Islamophobia or any form of bigotry or discrimination in any space that we occupy. Right now, antisemitism is on the rise in America and across the world. Acknowledging that fact does not take away from fights for liberation, it actually advances them.”

Still opposing Zionism

The congresswoman made clear that she was merely distancing herself from the more vulgar forms of Jew-hatred, like the rampage of “pro-Palestinian” demonstrators outside the White House, anti-Israel mobs protesting in front of a Wall Street exhibit about the Oct. 7 murders at the Nova music festival, the targeting of Jews during a “day of rage” on the New York City subway and the red-paint vandalization of the homes of officials associated with the Brooklyn Museum.

In essence, what she was trying to do was to separate herself from the thugs on the streets while still opposing the existence of the one Jewish state on the planet. She also essentially backs efforts to ensure that the genocidal and fascist terrorists of Hamas are allowed to escape accountability for atrocities on Oct. 7, and go back to governing Gaza and working towards their goal of destroying Israel.

“It is also important to say here in this moment and during that conversation that criticism of the Israeli government is not inherently antisemitic and criticism of Zionism is not automatically antisemitic,” AOC added.

Of course, criticism of any Israeli government is not antisemitic. But “criticism of Zionism” is indistinguishable from an effort to deny Jews rights that no one would think of denying to anyone else. This statement gave her—and by implication, other “progressives”—a pass for engaging in the worst kind of libels against Israel and demonizing its efforts to defend itself against those who see Oct. 7 as just a trailer for what they wish to do to the rest of Israel.

No responsible Jewish leader should be providing cover for a member of Congress who has done so much to advance the anti-Israel cause. But more important is the need for those who pretend to lead the Jewish community to understand that the ideological basis for the open antisemitism in the streets of America’s cities and on college campuses is to be found in the beliefs about critical race theory and intersectionality that an avowed Marxist like AOC calls “fights for liberation.” A condemnation of antisemitism that doesn’t acknowledge that the extremism and violence against Jews so ubiquitous right now can be directly linked to the promotion of these ideas is useless.

As has been abundantly clear for years but can no longer be ignored since Oct. 7, the mindset that sees the world divided into two groups of “white” oppressors and “people of color” who are their victims, locked in a perpetual race war, inevitably falsely labels Israel and Jews as the former. The fact that the JCPA and ADL have refused to renounce their endorsement of these toxic woke progressive agenda items, even as they acknowledged the spike in antisemitism from their former allies on the left, shows just how morally bankrupt these organizations and leaders like Spitalnick and Greenblatt have become.

The future of the Democrats?

There should be no pass given to politicians, academics or anyone who pretends to oppose antisemitism while still opposing Israel’s existence and right to exist. And none for those, like AOC, whose main goal since Oct. 7 has been to prevent the elimination of Hamas. Those progressives who don’t want to dirty their hands in the way the masked thugs do aren’t opposing antisemitism. The mobs in the streets may have gone farther than the congresswoman and other progressives are comfortable with in expressing their hatred for Israel and the Jews. Still, their end goals are no different from hers and anyone else who is working for victory for Hamas. Her advocacy advances their cause, whether or not she or they are willing to admit it.

Those who see AOC as the future of the Democratic Party probably aren’t wrong. Most Democrats aren’t in agreement with her extreme positions on foreign policy, or even the environment and “green new deal” measures that would impoverish the nation and harm middle- and working-class Americans while elites like AOC remain untouched. But the progressives dominate the younger generation of Democratic activists and the party base.

That she is disassociating herself from the worst excesses of her allies while still engaging in antisemitic tropes about AIPAC and Zionism is no reason for Jews who purport to speak for American Jewry to back her deception. Indeed, it says more about the collapse of Jewish leadership at a time when it’s needed most. Either way, AOC’s determination to act in a matter that will allow her to advance her toxic causes and personal ambitions is a warning for those who care about not just Israel and the Jews, but the future of America. The more influential a Marxist extremist like her grows, the more dangerous a place this country will be not just for Jews but for the cause of liberty itself.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him @jonathans_tobin.

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  • Words count:
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Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced the Combating Foreign Terrorist Drones Act this week to the Senate.

The bill seeks to disrupt the sale of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to terror groups like Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and the Houthis in Yemen.

Foreign terrorist groups are increasingly acquiring and using drones to target American servicemembers and our allies,” Rosen stated. “I’m helping introduce this bipartisan bill to prevent terrorist organizations from acquiring drones, protect our servicemembers from attacks, and enhance our national security.”

Romney cautioned that “with the rise of unmanned aerial systems used in warfare and the relative ease of access to commercial drones, it has become more critical to keep foreign terrorist groups from getting their hands on drones.”

Pointing to an increase in Iranian-sponsored drone attacks against American forces since the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7, he said that “preventing foreign terrorists from acquiring drones will save American lives, degrade terrorist capabilities by reducing their stockpiles, and protect our national security interests.”

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  • Words count:
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    June 14, 2024

The newly introduced Saving Treasured Artifacts Through Uniform Enforcement (STATUE) Act calls for a minimum of five years in prison and monetary fines for vandalizing “a structure, plaque, statue or other monument on public property.”

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced the bill on Thursday.

“Any protester who defaces statues of America’s heroes must face the full extent of the law,” Cotton said. “As Joe Biden seeks to appease the pro-Hamas wing of the Democratic Party, it’s clear his administration won’t do anything to punish the protesters who defaced the area around the White House recently.”

“The Senate should take up my legislation to punish these pro-Hamas lunatics,” Cotton added.

The bill would require a minimum sentence of five years and at least $1,000 in fines—or the cost of the damage if it is greater than $1,000—for those who deface monuments on federal property.

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  • Words count:
    310 words
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  • Publication Date:
    June 14, 2024

A two-hour panel discussion on the past, present and future of Jewish life at Columbia University during a class reunion weekend resulted in a childish flurry of offensive reactions from four school administrators, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

The group talk on May 31 featured David Schizer, the former dean of Columbia Law School who co-chaired the college’s task force on antisemitism; Brian Cohen, executive director of Columbia’s Kraft Center for Jewish Life; Ian Rottenberg, dean of religious life; and junior Rebecca Massel, a writer for the Columbia Spectator student newspaper.

Photos from the event revealed a text-message chat between four administrators sitting in the audience: Josef Sorett, dean of Columbia College; Susan Chang-Kim, vice dean and chief administrative officer of Columbia College; Cristen Kromm, dean of undergraduate student life; and Matthew Patashnick, associate dean for student and family support.

Incorporating an antisemitic trope about Jews and money, Patashnick wrote that one of the panelists “knows exactly what he’s doing and how to take full advantage of this moment. Huge fundraising potential.”

Chang-Kim chimed in that the panel is “making the administration look like jokers.”

She continued, texting Sorett: “This is difficult to listen to but I’m trying to keep an open mind to learn about this point of view.”

“Yup,” he replied.

She also doubted the experiences of Jewish students on campus, asking: “Did we really have students being kicked out of clubs for being Jewish?”

The Beacon wrote that “the text messages betray an attitude of ignorance and indifference toward the concerns of Jewish students on a campus” that was rocked with some of the worst anti-Jewish, anti-Israel actions and rhetoric in the United States this spring.

When one of the panelists broke down crying over her daughter’s antisemitic experiences this year at Columbia, Chang-Kim shared “nauseous” and “vomiting” emojis with the group.

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  • Words count:
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The Jewish state agreed in late 2022 to develop an action plan to reduce harm against Palestinian children, but even that wasn’t enough to keep Israeli security forces off the 2023 so-called United Nations “list of shame,” a senior U.N. official told JNS this week.

Briefing reporters ahead of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’s release of the report on children and armed conflict on Thursday, the senior official said that the United Nations has not engaged directly with the Israeli government since it became public last Friday that Israeli armed and security forces would be part of the list for the first time.

“Frankly, to this day, we don’t know what the reaction will be of Israel,” the senior U.N. official told reporters. “There is no formal reaction yet in any way, or any demarche, or any letter.”

“All we know is what you’ve seen last Friday,” the official said, referring to the publication by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, of a recording of his call with Guterres’s chief of staff, informing him that Israel would be blacklisted.

The report released on Thursday includes a note from Guterres that the Israeli government offered on May 28 to engage with Virginia Gamba, the U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict, to develop an action plan to reduce violations against children.

Gamba carries a U.N. Security Council mandate to monitor, prevent and report on such violations. The annual report was sent to Security Council members on Tuesday.

The senior official who briefed reporters told JNS that Gamba has had many past engagements with Israeli government officials and entities, and in late 2022, the Israeli government sent a letter saying it had agreed to commence the action plan process.

“So, there is an active engagement,” the senior official said. “It’s never been like a break in the engagement.”

The senior U.N. official said that on May 28, an Israeli official, whose name the senior official could not recall, sent a letter to Gamba “with a written commitment that they wish to explore this development of the plan with us.”

The senior official said that Israel’s U.N. mission also sent a letter on June 3 “saying that they would be very interested in pursuing what would look like a framework for such an arrangement.”

Since Erdan’s leaked recording, “there’s been silence,” the senior official said. “I don’t know if these offers continue to stand or not.”

The senior official said that Guterres “always recognizes as progress by parties to conflict whether they are listed” in the report or “if there are overtures of this nature.”

The senior official told JNS that the only way for the Jewish state to be removed from the list is to agree with the United Nations on an action plan and then demonstrate a verifiable decrease in the violations for which Israel was placed on the list.

“You have to show, quarter by quarter, a significant decrease that can prove that the measures that were decided are being put in place,” the senior official said. “So, the sum of the political commitment, plus the significant decrease in the right direction, can be considered by the secretary-general for the listing possibility.”

The senior official said that last year, Guterres made a decision, which is noted in the 2022 Children And Armed Conflict report, to strengthen and broaden the working group covering the Palestinian-controlled territories to better include violations against Israeli children.

“For many years, there seemed to be less interest in Israeli children cases. They were still reported, they were verified, but there was less information about them,” the official said.

In the months before Oct. 7, the monitoring team in the region was expanded with one Hebrew speaker added as a result of Guterres’s 2022 mandate.

The 2023 Children And Armed Conflict report includes a figure of some 3,900 Israel children harmed on Oct. 7. The senior official said that the figure has yet to be verified.

“There will be late verification for sure because a lot of them are highly traumatized, and none of them have come back to live in their communities because the communities have been destroyed,” the senior official said.

The senior official added that it was impossible in some instances to verify abuse of children who were killed on Oct. 7, due to the state of the bodies as a result of the attack, including charred remains.

The report includes, for the first time, notations about violations by Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria, and parts of Jerusalem, which are termed “Israeli settlers” in the report. The “settlers,” however, are not designated as a party that commits grave violations against children.

Asked about the non-listing of settlers as a group committing violations, even though they are mentioned in the report, the senior official said, “I think it’s a matter of time.”

“The important issue is that the setters are an actor, are a party to conflict, but that does not mean that they are listed,” the senior official said. “Not everyone is listed, but at least it’s a recognized actor, and I think that is a big change from, let’s say, six, seven years ago.”

Guterres blacklisted the Israeli military and security forces, Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade and affiliated factions, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quads Brigades.

“I am appalled by the dramatic increase and unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children in the Gaza Strip, Israel,” and Judea and Samaria, Guterres wrote in the report.

Known as the “list of shame,” the document is intended to embarrass those designated on the list into performing corrective action with regards to their alleged violations against children, including killing, maiming, recruitment, abduction, sexual violence, denial of humanitarian assistance and attacks against schools and hospitals.

In the report, which covers the 2023 calendar year, the United Nations said it verified 8,009 grave violations against Israeli and Palestinian children but that the verification process has been hampered due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The report said the Israel-Hamas war led to a 155% increase in what it categorized as “grave violations” against children.

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  • Words count:
    542 words
  • Type of content:
    Update Desk
  • Publication Date:
    June 14, 2024

U.S. President Joe Biden is drawing praise from American Jewish groups and criticism from the pro-Israel community after he commented on social media about "abhorrent" and "horrific acts of antisemitism this week," including a demonstration celebrating the Oct. 7 Hamas atrocities in southern Israel; vandalism targeting Jewish homes; attacks on Jewish faculty at college campuses; and harassment of subway riders."

"Antisemitism doesn't just threaten Jewish Americans," he said. "It threatens all Americans and our fundamental democratic values."

Ofir Akunis, the Israeli consul general in New York, wrote: "As I always say—it's not just about Israel or the Jewish people, it's a threat to all of you—it's a threat to the entire world."

The American Jewish Committee thanked Biden for his "strong condemnation of antisemitism."

"Antisemitism is distinctly un-American. It is an existential threat to our democracy," the AJC said. "The full weight of the government and the American people must counter it."

The Anti-Defamation League thanked the U.S. president, as did the Democratic Majority for Israel and Jeremy Burton, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs called Biden's comments "important."

Joel Petlin, superintendent of the Kiryas Joel School District, was one of several Jewish leaders and activists who called for the president to take action in addition to denouncing Jew-hatred.

"This is an important and much-appreciated statement by the president condemning antisemitism," he wrote. "The only thing missing is the second statement, directing the Department of Justice to investigate and file charges, the IRS to pull tax-exempt statuses and Homeland Security to deport foreign offenders."

"Mr. President, I know you find this abhorrent. But what do you say to some of your donors who are funding some of the groups spreading this antisemitism?" wrote Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran. "There has to be a reckoning here."

"Strong words from the president on the ugly, savage antisemitism seen this past week," wrote Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of the International Legal Forum. "Now need strong action to follow up."

"You could stop a lot of it by having the IRS pull the exemptions of like, three or four relatively small nonprofit groups. And yet it hasn't been done," wrote Armin Rosen, a staff writer at Tablet magazine. "It's a hard thing to accept, but the quasi-brownshirt movement that's popped up in New York is tolerated, subsidized, and in some cases directly funded by every level of government."

"Biden could ask the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute the numerous national groups that are not only committing antisemitic crimes but funding their activities by falsely registering as 501(c)3 nonprofits," wrote Noah Pollak, a contributor to The Washington Free Beacon.

"Biden refuses to do this because the activists, Muslim and leftist groups, are part of the Democratic Party," Pollak wrote. "Biden, Schumer and Democratic Party leaders will posture about antisemitism but block any government action to punish antisemites. It would be better if they didn't say anything at all."

Stephen Miller, a conservative podcaster and writer, shared a screenshot from a post of Biden's from Aug. 27, 2020. "Remember: every example of violence Donald Trump decries has happened on his watch. Under his leadership. During his presidency," Biden wrote at the time.

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  • Words count:
    1879 words
  • Type of content:
    COLUMN
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    June 14, 2024

Hezbollah is burning a swathe through northern Israel. The nature reserves, grazing land, fields and orchards are burning to the ground. Military bases, including several strategic assets, are incurring major damage. More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed. Businesses are bankrupt. And some 80,000 Israelis are living in hotels with no sense of when they may be able to go home.

Hezbollah has significantly increased the pace and lethality of its attacks on the Upper and Western Galilee, and the Golan Heights in recent weeks, as well as extended its attacks to the Mount Carmel area and the Jezreel Valley.

Haifa, Acre and Tiberias have all been subjected to missile, drone and rocket assaults. During Shavuot on Wednesday, Hezbollah shot more than 200 projectiles at Israel. On Thursday, more than 100 more continued and expanded the fires, destruction and mayhem.

The Israel Defense Forces claim that Hezbollah’s actions haven’t broken the mold of tit-for-tat assaults that Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging for the past eight months. On Tuesday night, the Israeli Air Force carried out an airstrike on the Nasser Unit of Hezbollah’s southern command. The Nasser unit is a division-sized formation responsible for Hezbollah’s operations along the border with Israel.

The unit’s commander, Taleb Sami Abdullah, and three of his senior staff were killed in the raid. The IDF’s claim that Hezbollah’s massive missile, drone and rocket barrages on Wednesday and Thursday, and into Friday, are a tit-for-tat supports Hezbollah’s line that its massive aggression is a legitimate reaction to Abdullah’s assassination.

The IDF’s claim is, to be sure, self-defeating. But that’s not the main problem.

The main problem with the IDF’s assertion is that it ignores the strategic logic of Hezbollah’s operations. Hezbollah isn’t attacking in response to any specific Israeli operation. It is attacking to achieve its strategic goals. Hezbollah isn’t simply abusive; it is waging a strategic war with clear long-term and intermediate strategic objectives.

Hezbollah began shelling Israel with drones, anti-tank rockets and missiles on Oct. 8. It has maintained and slowly escalated its attacks since then. Far from reactive, Hezbollah’s moves are ends-driven. From one assault to the next, Hezbollah learns more about penetrating Israel’s defenses. Its escalatory cycle is a function of its learning curve.

Enabling Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon

What are the goals that Hezbollah uses its projectile campaign to achieve? Hezbollah’s ultimate goal is that of its Iranian overlord: Israel’s annihilation. But it has intermediate goals on the road to final victory. The first is to achieve operational control over northern Israel. Such control, Hezbollah and Iran assess, will force Israel to capitulate on the strategic battlefield. If Hezbollah’s anti-tank rockets, drones and missiles are able to cancel Israel’s ability to defend northern Israel, then Israel will be forced to capitulate on the issue of formal sovereignty at the negotiating table in order to achieve “quiet.”

The specific “deal” Hezbollah seeks involves Israel’s formal surrender of its sovereignty over Mount Dov, a vast area in the Golan Heights that controls all of northern Israel, including the Gulf of Haifa.

Hezbollah is able to advance its operations because it is protected by a series of actors both within Lebanon and in the international arena. As Lebanon affairs expert Tony Badran has argued convincingly for years, Hezbollah is Iran’s Lebanese foreign legion. It is also Lebanon itself.

Hezbollah controls all aspects of politics and security affairs in the country and much of the economy. Lebanon’s official bodies, its state institutions (including the Lebanese Armed Forces), the parliament, the Central Bank and the government are all fig leaves whose purpose is to hide this basic truth. UNIFIL, the U.N. military force mandated to keep Hezbollah away from the border with Israel, operates at Hezbollah’s pleasure. Its personnel live (and die) at Hezbollah’s pleasure. As a result, not only is the agency incapable of carrying out its mandate, but like the LAF, UNIFIL’s continued presence along the border shields Hezbollah forces and assets from the IDF.

Under Hezbollah’s control, Lebanon is not an actual country. It is Iran’s forward military base against Israel that happens to have 5.5 million residents. The job of the residents is to deny that they live in an Iranian missile base.

Fire in Kfar Szold, Hezbollah Attack
View of a large fire that started by missiles launched from Lebanon near Kibbutz Kfar Szold in northern Israel on June 14, 2024. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.

The United Nations, the United States and the European Union are perfectly capable of recognizing the basic truth. But they obstinately refuse to do so. Instead, they enable Hezbollah’s continued control by joining the Lebanese in maintaining the fiction that Lebanon is still a country with state institutions that operate independently of Hezbollah, are in a position to oppose Hezbollah’s actions, and therefore, worthy of U.S. and international monetary and military support. That position allows them to play-act at diplomacy and mediate Israeli surrender deals to Hezbollah’s genocidal aggression while avoiding direct confrontations with either Hezbollah or Iran themselves.

In the face of Hezbollah’s assaults and the protection it enjoys from supporters both within Lebanon and on the world stage, Israel is left with a dilemma. Permitting Hezbollah to achieve its goals would be national suicide. But in order to block Hezbollah from achieving its goals, Israel will once again need to fight a major war against another enemy protected by the international system.

There is also the military challenge. For the past generation, successive IDF General Staffs have embraced the notion that the era of big conventional wars is over. Based on this false, but popular assessment, for 20 years, the General Staff slashed Israel’s ground forces and placed most of Israel’s resources in the air force and other technology-driven units. These forces were directed not towards developing plans to defeat Hamas and Hezbollah, but towards attacking Iran’s nuclear installations, preferably as part of a U.S.-led force. The notion that Israel could gut its strategic independence in exchange for U.S. strategic guarantees dominated Israel’s national security discourse.

However, since Oct. 7, Israel has found itself in a major conventional war on seven fronts: Gaza, Lebanon, Judea and Samaria, the Red Sea, Iran and Iraq/Syria.

While Israel prepared for the war it wanted to fight—a low-cost, high-tech war fought mainly from air-conditioned operations centers by remote control—its enemies prepared for the war they wanted to fight. Namely, that is their war to eliminate Israel. Israel trained hackers, and Hamas and Hezbollah trained jihadist terror armies of murderers, rapists and squads to launch missiles, drones and rockets.

Fighting these armies with Israel’s high-tech force is proving to be extremely difficult. Israel’s assumption of U.S. support has also taken a major hit. To be sure, Washington is willing to support Israel’s efforts to defend itself from aggression along the seven fronts manned by Iran and its proxies. But it opposes Israeli offensive action and has worked actively to undermine Israel’s ability to carry out prolonged offensive operations. Among other things, the United States refuses to share satellite and other intelligence related to offensive objectives, and is placing embargoes or slowwalking the transfer of offensive munitions for Israel’s ground and air forces.

End Hezbollah’s reign of terror

Given the strategic imperative of defeating Hezbollah and preventing it from achieving operational or strategic control over northern Israel, and in light of Israel’s diplomatic weakness relative to Hezbollah (and Hamas) and its operational weaknesses, the question is how should Israel proceed?

The answer begins with the strategic imperative. Israel must end Hezbollah’s reign of terror over northern Israel. It must degrade Hezbollah’s military capacity to the point that Hezbollah is no longer able to strike Israel at will. To achieve this goal, Israel needs to take control over the Lebanese side of the border, destroy Hezbollah’s forces south of the Litani River and then remain in place in Southern Lebanon for the foreseeable future.

Such a goal is, of course, easy to declare. But it is far more difficult to achieve. Realistically, to accomplish this objective, Israel needs to vastly increase the size of its standing and reserve forces, and possess the military-industrial capacity to arm its forces independently. Israel is already working to achieve both of these objectives. However, industrial independence and the enlargement of military forces take time to achieve. And time is of the essence. The residents of the north now scattered in hotels throughout the country cannot be expected to wait years to return to their homes.

Then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s decision to surrender the security zone in Southern Lebanon to Hezbollah in May 2000 is the reason that the terror organization was able to build its forces to the point where it poses an existential threat to Israel’s survival. By committing itself to reversing his move, Jerusalem will place itself on the road to victory. The government will steel the public for the road ahead, and provide the General Staff and lower echelons of the IDF with the required guidance for developing and carrying out tactical missions that will advance Israel’s ultimate goal.

If Israel invades Lebanon with a corps-sized force, it will unify the U.S.-led international community to rally against it. But if it moves slowly, with discrete battles against specific targets, Israel can remain below the radar screens of hostile Western capitals and global institutions. On the surface, Israel can present its operations as mere responses to Hezbollah’s strikes. But just as Hezbollah uses every missile assault as a means to probe and learn how to penetrate Israel’s defenses to advance its strategic goal, so too, by attaching every action to the strategic objective of restoring the security zone in Southern Lebanon, Israel’s operations will be paving stones on the road to strategic victory.

Each move will make the north safer. And each move will undermine Hezbollah’s goals. By acting slowly and deliberately, Israel can learn as it goes, adapting its operations to the conditions that it discovers on the ground, expanding them when political realities allow and constraining them when those realities are more daunting.

To date, most of Israel’s actions in Lebanon have involved killing Hezbollah military commanders like Abdullah. Yet as the Alma Research and Education Center, which specializes in Hezbollah’s operations and capabilities, noted in an analysis of the operation and others like it: “Everyone has a successor.”

“An attempt to remove top officials can only be a supporting endeavor. It is vital and right, but ultimately it is a tactical endeavor with no strategic significance.”

A slowly escalating operation in Lebanon directed towards the strategic aim of ending Hezbollah’s assault on northern Israel and securing Israel’s sovereignty will enable Israel to gradually escalate its operations as its forces are readied and military-industrial independence expanded. It will provide a means to avoid the worst of the international calumny that Israel will surely suffer in a mass invasion while moving Israel steadily towards a strategic goal capable of securing Israel’s vital interests—and survival.

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