Daily Briefing: Wednesday’s”News of the Week in Review” (August 21,2019)

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir arrives in the southern capital of Juba. (Source: Flickr)
“We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well…Now we have to regroup and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story…Chapter 1 of the story of Donald Trump, not only for our newsroom but, frankly, for our readers, was: Did Donald Trump have untoward relationships with the Russians, and was there obstruction of justice? That was a really hard story, by the way, let’s not forget that. We set ourselves up to cover that story. I’m going to say it. We won two Pulitzer Prizes covering that story. And I think we covered that story better than anybody else…The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.’ And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?”
 ” – Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times.  (Washington Examiner, August 15, 2019)

“We respect all members of Congress. Our directive is to facilitate, on a regular and automatic basis, the entry of all members of Congress, Democratic and Republican. Just one week ago, I met with dozens of Democratic members of Congress. Ambassador Dermer enunciated this precise policy…There is only one exception and it is the BDS law that obligates us to evaluate the entry of people who support BDS.” — Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.  (TOI, August 18, 2019)

“We don’t recall, moreover, Mrs. Pelosi, say, or Mr. Schumer or Ms. Harris objecting when the Obama administration banned a member of Israel’s Knesset from coming here. That happened as recently as 2012. The spurned visitor was Michael Ben Ari, who was given but scant explanation by the United States. Haaretz reported that he believes it was his former membership in Kach, a right-wing party. The visa denial prompted Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, to fire off an angry letter to the U.S., calling the party to which Mr. Ben Ari currently belonged, National Union, ‘a completely legitimate faction of the Israeli parliament.’ It’s not our intention here to untangle that knot, only to remark that we don’t recall the firm of Pelosi, Schumer, Sanders & Harris rising to Mr. Ben Ari’s defense. We understand that denying a visa to another country’s lawmakers can lead to ironical situations. America once denied a visa to the head of the largest political party in any democracy, maybe in any country in the entire Milky Way. That was Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist who heads the Bharatiya Janata Party in India. Now he’s the elected premier of the world’s largest democracy. For that matter, we’re told, Britain once denied a visa to a young Knesset member named Menachem Begin, who’d been on a British wanted poster. He grew up to be not only Prime Minister but also a Nobel laureate in peace. Could such a reversal of fortune happen to, say, Ms. Omar or Ms. Tlaib, whose proposed travel would, at least in spirit, break the very boycott they claim to support?” —  Editorial. (New York Sun, August 15, 2019)

“Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” — President Donald Trump. Remarks made Tuesday during an Oval Office meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. (Newsmax, August 20, 2019)


“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is not free speech. Rather, it is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish state… (Israel) has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons…In contrast to the nearly 70 freshmen members of Congress who just recently completed, or who are currently pursuing, a balanced visit to Israel that includes meetings with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the Tlaib-Omar delegation has limited its exposure to tours organized by the most strident of BDS activists…This trip, pure and simple, is nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine that Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar so vigorously support.” — David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel. (Jewish Press, August 17, 2019)


“Dear @USAmbIsrael: You are an American. Your allegiance should be to America, not to a foreign power.” — Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). He later deleted his tweet accusing U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday of dual-loyalty. (Jewish Press, August 17, 2019)



TRUDEAU NON-COMMITTAL ON BLOCKING JIHADI JACK’S RETURN, SAYS ONLY THAT IT’S A CRIME TO TRAVEL WITH TERROR MOTIVES — Neither the governing Liberals nor the Opposition Conservatives expressed enthusiasm Monday for trying to secure the release of the overseas prisoner dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the British media. Questions once again emerged about the fate of Jack Letts, the British-Canadian man held in a Kurdish jail in Syria, following word that London recently revoked his citizenship.. (National Post, August 20, 2019)

‘FEAR FROM TWO SIDES’: B.C. REFUGEE CLAIMANT WHO HELPED REPAIR VEHICLES FOR ISIL SAYS HE WAS UNDER DURESS – Immigration authorities have repeatedly denied Boutros Massroua’s refugee claim on the ground that he was complicit in crimes against humanity. At a Canadian immigration hearing a few years ago, refugee claimant Boutros Massroua was asked for his opinion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). “Their members are not human beings,” he answered. “They are worse than animals that kill each other.” Despite this unequivocal response, immigration authorities have repeatedly denied the Lebanese national’s refugee claim on the ground that he was complicit in crimes against humanity because of work he did in 2015 repairing vehicles for the terrorist group (National Post, August 20, 2019)

CANADA CRAFTING CONTINGENCY PLANS TO ASSIST CITIZENS IN HONG KONG – More than 300,000 Canadians in city where protesters are clashing with police. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the government is working on contingency plans to assist Canadians in Hong Kong, where an escalating political conflict has resulted in mounting protests, including recent demonstrations at the airport. (CBC, August 14, 2019)

ISIL IS BUILDING A NEW CALIPHATE FROM INSIDE A SYRIAN REFUGEE CAMP  — ISIL has largely taken over control of a huge camp in northeast Syria, and there’s no plan for what to do with the 70,000 people there (including more than 50,000 children). The United States and Europe must immediately address this urgent national security and humanitarian crisis, before a new caliphate is established while we watch. (National Post, August 16, 2019)

AFGHANISTAN: BOMB KILLS 63 AT WEDDING IN KABUL –– Burials are taking place in the Afghan capital, Kabul after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and wounding more than 180. The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack. The blast happened on Saturday during a wedding ceremony at around 22:40 local time (18.10 GMT). President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack, describing it as “barbaric”. He blamed the Taliban for “providing a platform to terrorists.” The Taliban has denied involvement and condemned the attack.  (BBC, August 18, 2019)

U.S. PEACE ENVOY HEADS TO QATAR, AFGHANISTAN FOR NEW TALKS — U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is heading to Qatar to resume talks with Taliban negotiators and to Kabul to meet with Afghan leaders, amid reports indicating a deal could be close to end the near 18-year war in Afghanistan. The U.S. State Department said Khalilzad was departing on August 20 for the two countries and that additional stops could be included in his trip. In the Qatari capital, Doha, Khalilzad “will resume talks with the Taliban as part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that ends the conflict in Afghanistan,” the statement said. (RFEAugust 20, 2019)

TURKEY SAYS ONE OF ITS CONVOYS WAS HIT BY AN AIRSTRIKE IN SYRIA — Turkey’s Defense Ministry has condemned an airstrike in northwestern Syria that killed three civilians and injured 12 others on Monday. It said that the strike was launched at a Turkish convoy, though a Syrian opposition military commander and a Syrian opposition media activist told CNN the strike hit a Syrian opposition vehicle traveling with the Turkish convoy. Turkey said the strike constituted a violation of standing agreements with Russia, which supports the Syrian regime. The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.  (CNN, August 19, 2019)

SYRIAN REBELS LEAVE KEY TOWN IN BOMBARDED NORTHEAST AS TROOPS PUSH IN — The main insurgent group in the Syrian province of Idlib pulled out of a key rebel town as government forces advanced in the area on Tuesday amid intense bombardment and airstrikes, a jihadist group and opposition activists said. (TOI, August 20, 2019)

EXPLOSIONS IN AFGHANISTAN WOUND DOZENS ON INDEPENDENCE DAY — A series of bombings struck restaurants and public squares on Monday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, wounding at least 34 people, officials said, as the country marked the 100th anniversary of its independence. No group claimed responsibility for the 10 bombs but both Islamic State (IS) and the Taliban militants operate in the area. IS claimed responsibility for a weekend bomb attack on a wedding reception in the capital, Kabul, in which 63 people were killed and nearly 200 wounded. (Reuters,August 19, 2019)

OUSTED SUDAN DICTATOR OMAR AL-BASHIR ‘GOT $90 MILLION FROM SAUDI ROYALS’ — Omar al-Bashir, the ousted dictator of Sudan, was given $90 million (£74 million) from senior Saudi royals before he was overthrown, investigators said at the start of his corruption trial. Just four months after he was forced from the power, the 75-year-old former strongman sat in a metal cage as prosecutors of the state he once ruled levelled accusations against him. The scene in the Khartoum courtroom illustrated how quickly Bashir had fallen, going from Sudan’s all-powerful leader of 30 years to a defendant in a simple white robe and turban. (Telegraph, August 19, 2019)

VICTORY IN CALIFORNIA AS CONTROVERSIAL ANTISEMITIC ETHNIC STUDIES MODEL CURRICULUM IS DEFEATED –– In Florida this week for speaking events, Proclaiming Justice to The Nations (PJTN) Founder and President, Laurie Cardoza-Moore has gone on record to applaud the alliance of pro-Israel concern organizations whose unified force brought the defeat of the controversial Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) in the State of California. The California State Board of Education announced Monday that the proposed content model will be replaced with an entirely new proposed curriculum.. (Breaking Israel News, August 19, 2019)

LCBO RESPONDS POSITIVELY TO B’NAI BRITH ADVOCACY   B’nai Brith Canada is pleased to share that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has taken a strong stance against anti-Israel vandalism in its stores, after B’nai Brith reached out following an incident earlier this week. “We are encouraged by the LCBO’s strong response to these antisemitic acts in the service of the BDS Movement,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “B’nai Brith will continue to work closely with the LCBO and law enforcement to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.” (Bnai Brith Canada, August 16, 2019)

REP. TLAIB SUGGESTS BOYCOTTING BILL MAHER’S SHOW AFTER HE SLAMS BDS — Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted over the weekend viewers should boycott Bill Maher’s HBO show after the comedian harshly criticized the international boycott movement against Israel. “I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom,” the Michigan Democrat wrote. “This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn’t work then and it won’t now.” (Newsmax, August 18, 2019)

RASHIDA TLAIB, ILHAN OMAR SHARE CARTOON BY ARTIST ACCUSED OF ANTI-SEMITIC IMAGERY — Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib continued their attack against President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by posting a cartoon drawn by an artist who has created anti-Semitic imagery and mocked victims of the Holocaust. The freshman Democrats, who were barred from visiting Israel because of their support of a boycott movement, posted on Instagram a cartoon that depicts Bibi and Trump silencing them by covering their mouths, Fox News reported. (NY Post, August 19, 2019)

BODIES OF 3 OUT OF 5 ARAB TERRORISTS RECOVERED IN ZIKIM BEACH INFILTRATION — Gaza medical teams on Sunday morning recovered the bodies of three terrorists killed by the IDF Saturday night in the northern Gaza Strip, Ma’an reported. The IDF allowed the ambulances to enter the area, which the IDF had shelled in response to an infiltration attempt into Israel that was accompanied by a volley of at least two rockets into Israel. (Jewish Press,  August 18, 2019)

As champions of liberty and democracy, G7 leaders must speak out on Hong Kong –– The Hong Kong demonstrations are a reminder that the desire for freedom is the elementary force driving all liberties. Those who should be liberty’s champions – the G7 democracies – are meeting next week in Biarritz. They need to speak out on Hong Kong and keep watch on what is happening.
Sorry, but refusing entry to 2 congresswomen doesn’t flout any norms — In a news story about Israel’s decision to bar Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country, The New York Times’ Jerusalem-based correspondent, Isabel Kershner, echoed the opinion of many in the media and the Democratic Party when she wrote that President Trump’s pressuring of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu into blocking the congresswomen’s visit was a grave offense against American democracy.