AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, on October 20, 2015
AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, on October 20, 2015
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Desperately seeking new lives, migrants traveling to Europe often hear lies and rumors such as promises of an escort across a forbidden border or offers of steady work that can steer them in the wrong direction and even endanger their lives.
Quashing such falsities is the goal of a nonprofit website that has given itself the task of assisting the waves of migrants traveling the Balkan route to Europe, fleeing war and poverty in their homelands.
The site http://newsthatmoves.org was developed by Internews, an international media development organization, to combat misinformation, particularly that used by smugglers to dupe bewildered or confused migrants.
More than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond have flooded into the European Union since early last year. Most make a perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, then head north through the Balkans to Germany.
Although several aid agencies and the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees share essential information, Internews' unique approach tracks and verifies rumors with immediacy.
Inaccurate rumors are collected through conversations with refugees, online and through social media, and a weekly rumor-busting bulletin has been published on the website since earlier this year.
Translated in English, Arabic, Farsi and Greek, its content is at times recorded and broadcast on megaphones in refugee camps or played on transport buses.
Refugees hear such lies from smugglers as "I'm going to drop you in Athens and then once you get there, it's all going to be free. You don't need any money," said Alison Campbell, an Internews spokeswoman, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday.
"People were even told that they could get a taxi from Lesbos to Macedonia, even though Lesbos is an island," she said.
While refugees often depend on relatives having done the journey before them for guidance, social media means inaccurate information can spread like wildfire, she said.
"People don't know who to believe," she said.
Smugglers bent on taking people's money "tell them whatever they want to hear," she said.
With the political landscape ever changing, plenty of unreliable information is likely to lie ahead for migrants, said R. Daniel Kelemen, a political science professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
A new agreement between the European Union and Turkey designed to close the migration route to Greece could force migrants to have to decipher what is changing for real and what is not, Kelemen said.
"That is going to feed a lot of rumors," he said.
The United States, Britain, France and Germany called on Wednesday for the United Nations Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee to take action over a missile test by Tehran that they said violated a UN ban.
In a letter containing details on the launch, they said the ballistic missile was “inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.”
The letter, seen by Reuters, was sent to the committee after the United States raised the issue in the 15-member Security Council.
“We trust that this information will assist the Committee in its responsibility to examine and take appropriate action in response to violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” they wrote.
Iran said earlier this month that it had tested a new precision-guided ballistic missile.
Diplomats have said it was possible for the sanctions committee to blacklist additional Iranian individuals or entities if it determined that the missile launch had breached the U.N. ban.
However, they said Russia and China, which have opposed the sanctions on Iran’s missile program, might block any such moves.
“The United States will continue to press the Security Council to respond effectively to any future violations ... Full and robust enforcement of all relevant U.N. measures is and will remain critical,” U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said in a statement on Wednesday.
Iran has disputed the Western assessment that the missile was capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. “None of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missiles has been designed for a nuclear capability,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
Ballistic missile tests by Iran are banned under a 2010 Security Council resolution that remains valid until a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers is implemented.
Under that deal, reached on July 14, most sanctions on Iran will be lifted in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Once it takes effect, Iran will still be “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.
U.S. and European officials have said it is unlikely the deal will be fully implemented before next year. The deal allows for supply of ballistic missile technology to Tehran with Security Council approval, but the United States has pledged to veto any such requests.
The missile test is not a violation of the nuclear deal, U.S. officials have said.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday conditionally approved the nuclear deal but warned it would be violated if any of the six world powers imposed any sanctions on any level and under any pretext.
(REUTERS with DAILYGLOBEWATCH)
Ahmad Gharabli, AFP | The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem in June 2014
Amid a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, the United Nations cultural heritage body UNESCO adopted a resolution on Wednesday condemning Israeli handling of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque.
After last-minute changes, however, the resolution approved by UNESCO’s executive board dropped a potentially more controversial clause laying claim to Jerusalem’s Western Wall as a holy site for Muslims only, Israeli diplomats said.
That clause, which was proposed by several Muslim countries and would have stated that the Western Wall was an integral part of the al-Aqsa mosque compound, vanished after it was condemned by the Israeli government and Jews worldwide, and disowned as dangerous by UNESCO’s own director general, Irina Bokova.
On Tuesday, Bokova said she “deplored” the presence of the clause and had called on UNESCO’s executive board "to take decisions that do not further inflame tensions on the ground and that encourage respect for the sanctity of the Holy Sites”. Israel called the clause an attempt to "distort history".
In its place, the resolution adopted on Wednesday said UNESCO condemned restrictions of freedom of worship at the al Aqsa mosque and reaffirmed other complaints about Israeli management of holy sites.
UNESCO did not immediately provide a copy of the resolution adopted following protracted negotiations but Palestinian and Israeli diplomats provided matching accounts to reporters.
The news from UNESCO headquarters coincided with international endeavours to calm violence in which at least 42 Palestinians and eight Israelis have died. The turmoil has been triggered in part by what Palestinians regard as increased Jewish encroachment on the al-Aqsa compound.
The resolution was adopted with 26 votes in favour and six against, including the United States, Britain and Germany against. There were 25 abstentions including France, diplomats said.
Jerusalem’s old city and walls are on a list of world heritage sites whose protection is one of the jobs entrusted to UNESCO.
Israel regards all Jerusalem, including the predominantly Arab east captured and annexed in 1967, as its “indivisible capital” - a claim not recognised internationally - and its right-wing government is wary of being portrayed as dividing the city.
Palestinians want the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a future state, with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital.
The UNESCO text, diplomats said, also reaffirmed that two holy sites, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, “are an integral part of Palestine”.
The Palestinians won full membership of UNESCO in October 2011 in what was seen a major step forward for their efforts to achieve recognition as an independent state, despite intense opposition from both the Israeli government and Washington.
Hostages were successfully rescued during the operation, a U.S. official told Reuters. CNN said about 70 Kurdish hostages were freed.
A U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that one American was killed. No further information was available on the mission, which local residents and a Kurdish military commander said was carried out in the Hawija area in northern Iraq.
It was the first U.S. serviceman killed in ground combat operations against Islamic State, which has been the target of daily air strikes in Iraq and Syria by a U.S.-led coalition for more than a year.
One source in the Hawija area said the operation involved helicopters and targeted a makeshift prison where Islamic State was holding a number of hostages.
NBC News, citing unidentified sources, said the operation was requested by the Iraqi government and those rescued were Kurdish fighters. It said the U.S. forces suffered casualties but the number of injuries was unclear.
Another Reuters source in the Hawija area said the special forces raided a house where Islamic State commanders were gathering, triggering gun battles and blasts that lasted several hours.
Sheikh Jaafar Mustafa, a senior commander of the Kurdish peshmerga forces, confirmed an operation had taken place but said he had no further information about it.
In May, American special operations forces killed senior Islamic State leader Abu Sayyaf from Tunisia in a raid in Syria.
Hawija is a stronghold of Islamic State militants who have captured Kurdish peshmerga fighters in battles.
AFP/File | Demonstrators gather in Qatif, in the Shiite-populated east of Saudi Arabia, on July 8, 2012
By Ted Lapkin
Over recent weeks I’ve focused on keeping readers apprised of relevant and interesting stories that might be a bit off the beaten path of Australian media. And in this vein I’ll begin with the brewing revolt within British Labor over Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the 13 November terrorist atrocity in France.
As you might recall, Corbyn is an unreconstructed Leftwing radical with a serious track record of hostility towards Israel who recently (and incongruously) won election to the leadership of the British Labour Party. His initial response to the slaughter in Paris was so outrageously tune-deaf that it triggered a furious backlash amongst his own shadow ministry.
The Independent, a British newspaper not noted for its hawkish sympathies (to put it mildly) ran a front-page article under the headline “Jeremy Corbyn is a ‘f***ing disgrace’, Labour shadow minister tells journalists after angry meeting”.
It turns out that Corbyn expressed misgivings about the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy adopted by British police in the event of a terrorist attack on British soil. According to media reports, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition considered this to be a “quite dangerous” and “counterproductive” policy that might lead to “war in the streets.”
Never mind precisely that war in the streets is what was happening 10 days ago in Paris when jihadi terrorists slaughtered 130 innocent people and wounded another 300. I’ve written before about the dangerously delusional myopia that afflicts Jeremy Corbyn’s view of the world. Just because you pull down the blinds and doesn’t mean the ravening wolves have gone away. And Corbyn’s reaction to the atrocity in Paris brings to mind a paraphrase of that famous Trotsky quote: just because you’re not interested in the jihad doesn’t mean the jihad isn’t interested in you.
But there is enough residual sanity within British Labour to ensure that many of Corbyn’s parliamentary colleagues were less-than-impressed with the Neville Chamberlain-esque instincts of their Leader. At a closed-door meeting the demand was raised that Corbyn should withdraw from his planned appearance at a ‘Stop the War Coalition” fundraiser in London.
This cascade of criticism – both within Labour and amongst the public – soon caused Corbyn to rethink his position, and he ended up telling the party’s executive committee “strictly necessary force” was acceptable – whatever that means.
Corbyn has led Britain Labour Party so far down garden path to electoral oblivion that some are theorizing that he truly never wanted to be Leader in the first place. As the Business Spectator points out:
“Westminster is largely hostile territory for Corbyn. Only 14 of the 232 Labour MPs he now leads voted for him. He was elected with more than 250,000 votes from ordinary party members outside Westminster, from the length and breadth of the country.”
Whether this theory is true or not, Corbyn’s trials and tribulations are something to watch because his leadership is an issue of substantial significance to pro-Israel persons everywhere.
Meanwhile the other side of the Atlantic was the scene of a serious defeat on the BDS front when the American Anthropological Association (AAA) voted to boycott Israeli universities. The ballot took place at the Association’s annual conference in Denver and the BDS motion passed by a depressingly large margin of 1,040 in favour with only 36 opposed.
The lopsidedness of the boycotters’ victory is all the stranger in light of the diametric opposite result that occurred at last year’s AAA conference in Washington DC. In December 2014 a similar pro-BDS motion crashed and burned with only 52 votes in favour out of 700 attendees. It appears our adversaries have had a very busy 12 months to engineer a reversal of fortune of that magnitude.
On a happier note, last week Intel introduced its new 6th generation computer processors, and per usual, the company’s Israeli R&D team played a central role in their development. Going by the name ‘Skylake’, these new chips are 2.5 times faster and have much lower power consumption than those in use five years ago. According to some estimates this should allow some devices to triple their battery life.
In a statement to the Jerusalem Post, Intel marketing manager Ilan Hochman said:
“We are very proud that a significant part of the development happened here in Israel, in our Haifa lab”.
We also feel the urge to kvell.
But back to the less edifying side of the news, last week Israeli authorities made a decision to outlaw a branch of the Islamic Movement on the grounds of collaboration with Hamas and incitement of violence. The group’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah was found several years ago by a British court to have propagated anti-Semitic rhetoric that includes blood libel allegations against Israel. Britain several years ago because of his firebrand anti-Semitic rhetoric. And six Israeli Arabs were also arrested on charges of seeking to join the Islamic State.
I assume many readers saw the op-ed last week in The Australian by noted author and Islamic reformer Aayan Hirsi Ali advocating the wide adoption of Israeli security tactics and procedures. But while she was very good in print, she’s even better on TV, as this Fox News video clip will attest.
Hirsi Ali made so much sense that even the head of Germany’s internal security service agreed that Israel is the model to emulate. During an interview on German TV, Hans-Georg Maassen, chief of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution – noted that in Israel, soccer matches and concerts go on despite threats of terrorism. Maassen was speaking one day after a soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled due to a suspected bomb.
So there you have it, the civilized nations of the world need to unite in a common struggle against the barbarians who seek our common destruction. But unfortunately far too many Europeans, Americans and even Australians – largely on the left – insist on continuing their strange-bedfellows alliance with ultra-conservative Islamic radicals.
Source: Zionist Federation of Australia
© Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP | A French Rafale fighter aircraft carrying bombs is catapulted off French aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, on November 23, 2015 at eastern Mediterranean sea, as part of operation Chammal in Syria and Iraq against the Isla
French jets struck Islamic State targets in Iraq on Monday, taking off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier for the first time, the military said on Twitter on Monday.
The tweet said that two targets had been destroyed.
The French Defense ministry added that four Rafal fighter jets were sent from the carrier on Monday afternoon, with two each flying over the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Mosul.
Speaking from aboard the newly deployed carrier, France's armed forces chief of staff General Pierre de Villiers said: "We carried out strikes in Ramadi and Mosul in support of ground forces that were pushing against Daesh troops."
President Francois Hollande said on Monday that "we're going to choose sites that do the most damage possible."
President Hollande also said last week France would step up its attacks against Islamic State targets in Syria. He has also called for a grand coalition, including the United States and Russia, to eradicate Islamic State, and is due to meet with Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin this week.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)