Church leader calls for national conversation on immigration

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed his concerns over the country’s influx of migrants, saying “the whole Russian world ‘is under threat’” until the country’s immigration policy is revised.

  • Patriarch Kirill said ethnic enclaves are emerging and actively developing in the largest cities of Russia, creating breeding grounds for corruption, organized crime and illegal immigration.

During the World Russian People’s Council, the patriarch said experience had proved that it was impossible to “come to terms with national diasporas and clans, who are ready not only to stand up for [one of their own] in order to save him from fair punishment under the law, but also to take revenge in every possible way on everyone who dares to appeal to law enforcement agencies when reporting a crime.”

The Patriarch suggested using the experience of other countries facing similar challenges in solving immigration problems.

He has been critical of the idea of “embracing the consequences” of unregulated and unlimited arrivals, saying that many simply regard them as the side-effects of “the import of foreign labor” while admitting that it would be difficult for the Russian economy to cope with all the challenges it faces without the additions to the workforce.

  • He said that the unregulated mass influx of migrants who don’t speak Russian, lack proper understanding of the country’s history and culture, traditions and customs, and are therefore unable and often unwilling to integrate into Russian society end up altering the looks of Russian cities, leading to the deformation of the legal, cultural and linguistic norms of the country.

The Patriarch has also emphasized that even a Russian passport does not exempt immigrants from the need to respect Russian society and traditions.

Earlier on Tuesday, special representative of the State Duma on migration and citizenship Konstantin Zatulin said Russia needs migrants, including from Central Asia and the Caucasus.

According to him, there are two approaches to migration in the country.

  1. “The first viewpoint is to close the borders and immediately ban all migration.
  2. The second is to actively attract visitors from other countries as a workforce. The Russian government and business share the second approach,” he emphasized. “Let’s understand: we can’t do without them. There are 72 million workers in Russia today. Of them 3 million are official migrants. More than 2 million jobs are still vacant.”

Source: RT

Several Gaza border communities refuse to send reps to meeting with Netanyahu

Representatives of several Gaza border communities said Wednesday they won’t attend a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and regional council heads, amid criticism of the premier and government over their treatment of victims of the devastating October 7 onslaught by Hamas-led terrorists.

  • Netanyahu said Tuesday he would meet with the local leaders of southern areas four kilometers from the frontier, but some kibbutzim, including Be’eri, Kfar Aza, Nir Oz, Nahal Oz, Re’im, Or Haner, Ein Hashlosha, and Kerem Shalom said they won’t send representatives, due to scheduling issues or lack of interest.
  • Communities sending representatives include Carmia, Mefalsim, Netiv Ha’asara, Yad Mordechai, and Zikim, the Haaretz daily reported.

In response to criticism of the prime minister for not meeting with survivors of the October 7 massacre earlier, those close to Netanyahu have said that he had been busy managing the war.

The government has also been criticized for what many call lackluster support for those forced from southern communities, with civil society groups forced to pick up the slack.

The heads of the regional councils set to meet with the prime minister said in a statement that the timing of the meeting didn’t work for two or three of the kibbutzim, and that “nobody said officially that they were boycotting the meeting.”

  • “Everyone should do what is right for them. We don’t boycott anyone. We, as heads of the councils, will go to the meeting of course,” they said.
  • Kibbutz Be’eri also said it was not boycotting the sit-down, adding: “If and when the prime minister wants to come to Kibbutz Be’eri, see the atrocities committed on October 7 and have a conversation about the efforts to restore Be’eri, we are always happy to host him with prior arrangement and without media teams.”

Nir Oz’s administration said in a statement that Netanyahu should meet with all members of the kibbutz and that the planned meeting on Wednesday was not acceptable to them.

  • Representatives of several Gaza border communities said Wednesday they won’t attend a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and regional council heads, amid criticism of the premier and government over their treatment of victims of the devastating October 7 onslaught by Hamas-led terrorists.

In response to criticism of the prime minister for not meeting with survivors of the October 7 massacre earlier, those close to Netanyahu have said that he had been busy managing the war. The government has also been criticized for what many call lackluster support for those forced from southern communities, with civil society groups forced to pick up the slack.

  • Kibbutz Be’eri also said it was not boycotting the sit-down, adding: “If and when the prime minister wants to come to Kibbutz Be’eri, see the atrocities committed on October 7 and have a conversation about the efforts to restore Be’eri, we are always happy to host him with prior arrangement and without media teams.”

Nir Oz’s administration said in a statement that Netanyahu should meet with all members of the kibbutz and that the planned meeting on Wednesday was not acceptable to them.

“Not just representatives of the communities need answers, but all of us. Not just me, but everyone deserved to know why a quarter of our kibbutz was abducted or murdered,” the statement read.

  • According to Haaretz, there have been several failed attempts to organize meetings with community leaders.
  • A source involved in the talks said that officials tried to put forward preconditions, such as selecting specific families for the prime minister to meet.

“Every day a certain minister or senior official tells us today we are coming to you, and people aren’t able to stand by every time,” an unnamed resident of a southern community was quoted as saying.

  • Dozens of communities were forced to evacuate due to the war, which began on October 7 when hordes of Hamas terrorists from Gaza invaded Israel, massacring some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and abducting at least 240 men, women, and children, many of whom are still being held captive in Gaza.
  • The attack came under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli population centers. Israel has responded with a military campaign and vowed to eradicate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007. An ongoing truce deal has led to the release of dozens of hostages.

Source: TOI

Header: Illustrative – Protest graffiti against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, near the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, November 25, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Police disperse protest by bereaved families at Knesset: ‘Why didn’t anyone protect my parents?’

Police disperse a protest against the government by bereaved families outside the Knesset in Jerusalem.

“Why didn’t anyone protect my parents,” says Maoz Inon to an officer as they try to move him.

  • Inon’s parents, Bilha and Yakovi Inon, 78 and 75, were killed in Netiv Ha’asara on October 7.

According to the Ynet news site, activists say a number of protesters were detained.

Source: TOI

Western education systems degrading – Putin

Schools and universities in the West have abandoned the liberal arts in favor of gender studies and other “pseudosciences,” Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked in a speech on Tuesday.

  • “In the West, they are now practicing not only the policy of ‘cancel culture’, but also the actual abolition of liberal arts education,” Putin told a gathering of the World Russian People’s Council in Sochi.
  • “As a result, both [Western] culture and education are becoming primitive,” he continued. “Many classical subjects are simply thrown out of Western curricula, replaced by some kind of gender and similar sciences – pseudosciences, of course.”
  • The phenomenon highlighted by Putin has also been extensively condemned by Western conservatives, who have decried attempts by left-wing academics to cancel the study of ancient Greece and Rome over the so-called “whiteness” of these ancient societies, and to insert transgender ideology into the fields of medicine, archaeology, and psychotherapy, among countless other examples.

Explaining that education influences culture, Putin recommended that instead of following these Western trends, Russians should “learn from our ancestors, who both in traditional and avant-garde art, set an example for the whole world.”

  • “I am convinced that the country’s sovereignty and the strengthening of its role in the world are impossible without the flourishing of its original culture,” he declared.

As “woke” ideology proliferated on American college campuses in recent years, the quality of students being admitted to these institutions has appeared to decline. Last month, the creators of the ACT college admissions test revealed that scores on the ubiquitous entry exam had fallen to a three-decade low.

Several months earlier, a study by Northwestern University and the University of Oregon found that, for the first time in nearly 100 years, the average IQ scores of college-aged Americans were declining.

The scientists behind the study blamed the dip on “a change of quality or content of education.”

Source: RT

CIA retrieved ‘intact’ UFOs – Daily Mail

American spies have managed to recover at least nine potentially alien vehicles, two of them “completely intact,” the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday, citing three anonymous sources.

  • The sources, supposedly briefed on top secret operations, told the UK outlet that the main player in the retrievals has been the Office of Global Access (OGA), a branch of the CIA Science and Technology Directorate established in 2003.

“There’s at least nine vehicles. There were different circumstances for different ones,” one of the sources said.

  • “It has to do with the physical condition they’re in. If it crashes, there’s a lot of damage done. Others, two of them, are completely intact.”

The CIA has a system to detect unidentified flying objects (UFO) “while they’re still cloaked” and helps special US military units salvage the wreckage if “non-human craft” land, crash, or are brought down, the source added.

Another anonymous source described the OGA’s role as “basically a facilitator” for US operatives to access areas where they would normally not be allowed.

  • “They are very clever at being able to get anywhere in the world they want to,” the second source said.
  • Most of OGA’s operations involve “stray nuclear weapons, downed satellites or adversaries’ technology,” according to the Mail, but some missions have involved retrieval of UFOs – or as the US government now prefers to call them, “Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena” (UAP).

Source: RT

Ukraine has used chemical weapons – Russian general

The Ukrainian military has used chemical agents to poison food on 17 occasions since the conflict escalated in February 2022, killing at least 15 people, Russian Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov said on Tuesday.

Kirillov heads the Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Protection Troops of the Russian Armed Forces. He made the revelation in a speech to the 3rd Congress of Young Scientists, currently meeting in Sochi.

  • “We have confirmed that officials of the administrations of the new constituent entities of the Russian Federation were poisoned,” Kirillov said.
  • “Moreover, we found a number of chemical compounds were used that were made, in most cases, exclusively in one country.” He did not specify which country it was, however.

Kirillov’s speech comes a day after Russia presented evidence of Ukrainian poisonings to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.

  • “We possess irrefutable evidence of the US and their Euro-Atlantic allies supplying Ukraine with toxic chemicals and their delivery means,” Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Kirill Lysogorsky told the OPCW on Monday.

Kirillov also brought up the biological research the US had conducted in Ukraine, saying that Russian forces found strains of bacteria and viruses “from the American collection” of pathogens at some of these facilities.

  • There was a danger the Ukrainian military might start using biological weapons as well, having “failed to achieve any serious success” during its 100-day offensive this year, Kirillov said.

“The Ministry of Defense expects a shift in their activity towards non-standard forms of warfare, including the use of biological agents,” according to the general.

In a briefing earlier this month, Kirillov revealed that 46 US-funded biological research laboratories had been located in Ukraine prior to the current conflict.

While Moscow succeeded in exposing these activities and shutting them down, he said, Washington seems to have moved some of the research to Africa since.

  • The US and Ukraine have insisted that the research was perfectly legitimate and peaceful, part of a Western-funded initiative to reduce threats “through the development of a culture of biorisk management” and eliminate nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in the former Soviet Union.

Source: RT

WATCH: 41 men freed from collapsed tunnel

RT’s Runjhun Sharma reports from northern India, where a dramatic relief operation ended on Tuesday with the rescue of all 41 construction workers trapped in a collapsed highway tunnel.

A section of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel, which had been under construction in the country’s mountainous Uttarakhand state, caved in on November 12.

  • The authorities had used a small pipe, which remained intact after the disaster, to deliver food, water and medical supplies to the trapped men amid weeks of grueling drilling operations.


Source: RT

All 41 Indian labourers have been rescued after a gruelling 17 days trapped in a collapsed tunnel in the Himalayan mountains.

The dramatic scenes of the first men emerging on stretchers from the entrance of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel came after more than 400 hours, during which the rescue operation hit multiple obstacles, delays and false promises of imminent rescue.

The workers were pulled out through an escape pipe on Tuesday night after the last stretch of rubble had been manually drilled by a specialist team of “rat-hole mining” experts who had been flown in to help after the mechanical drill broke down.

  • Rat hole mining – a primitive method of extracting coal through very small tunnels – is outlawed in India due to its high risk, but the practice remains common in some states.

The first labourer was brought out at around 8pm local time on Tuesday. Ambulances and helicopters were on standby at the tunnel entrance to take the men to a hospital nearby.

  • Garlands of flowers were placed around the men as they emerged, many beaming widely, and a freshly cooked meal of aloo gobi, roti, dal and rice awaited them outside the tunnel.

Munna Qureshi, one of the rat-hole mining experts, described the emotional moment they had finally broken through the wall of debris. “I removed the last rock and I could see them,” he told Indian media. “They hugged us, lifted us up and thanked us for taking us out. We worked continuously in the last 24 hours. I can’t express my happiness. I have done it for my country.”

Prime minister Narendra Modi called the operation an “amazing example of humanity and teamwork”.

“The success of the rescue operation of our labourer brothers in Uttarkashi is making everyone emotional. I want to say to those trapped in the tunnel that your courage and patience are inspiring everyone,” Modi said in a message posted on X.

  • The labourers, who were constructing the road tunnel, became trapped after a suspected landslide in the early hours of 12 November caused part of the tunnel roof to collapse and become blocked by more than 60 metres of dense concrete rubble, rock and twisted metal.

A major rescue operation swung into action, as a series of increasingly bigger drills were flown to the scene in the state of Uttarakhand to try to penetrate the blockage. The number of rescue workers swelled to more than 200 and the army and the air force were drafted in alongside the national disaster management team and foreign experts. Modi, was briefed daily about the progress.

The labourers had been given oxygen, food, water and medicines through a small water pipe, and constant contact was maintained with them over the 17 days.

  • A dozen doctors and psychiatrists were brought to the site to monitor their health. According to the authorities the men had remained in good spirits and had even done yoga and played cricket to keep themselves entertained.

By late last week, a large mechanical drill managed to get through almost 50 metres of rubble, prompting authorities to proclaim a rescue would happen “within hours” and several politicians rushed to the scene.

  • But with about 12 metres left to go, the drill blade broke after getting entangled in metal and the machinery had to be pulled out.

Authorities said a new strategy would be implemented and on Sunday they began the high-risk process of drilling vertically down into the tunnel roof, despite warnings by geologists that this could cause more of the roof to cave in.

  • In the end it was a triumph of human labour over machinery as the specialist rat-hole mining experts managed to manually break through the final 12 metres of rubble, using only hand drills and pulleys. An “escape passage” pipe was inserted, enabling the rescuers – carrying wheeled stretchers and oxygen cylinders – to enter and finally reach those inside.

Some rescue workers in hard hats made victory signs and posed for pictures. Relatives of the trapped men, who have been camping near the site, gathered outside the tunnel with luggage, ready to accompany the men to hospital.

“As he comes out, my heart will revive again,” the father of a trapped worker, Manjeet Chaudhary, said.

The tunnel is part of the $1.5bn (£1.2bn) Char Dham highway, one of Modi’s most ambitious projects, aimed at connecting four Hindu pilgrimage sites through a 550-mile network of roads. The project has faced criticism from environmental experts, who have alleged it is will lead to subsidence and disturbance of the fragile Himalayan region, which is already prone to landslides and earthquakes

According to a panel of experts investigating the disaster, the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel did not have an emergency exit and was built through a geological fault.

The national highways authority of India has been instructed to audit 29 other tunnels being built across the country.


Peaceful rallies versus violent riots

A fortnight ago in Washington, D.C., one of the largest gatherings of American Jews in history occurred. Nearly 300,000 people from all walks of life stood in solidarity with Israel in its war against Hamas terrorists.

The National Mall was peaceful and bipartisan, with no damage or security issues.

The March for Israel stands in stark contrast to many anti-war, anti-GOP, and anti-statue rallies in recent years. It contrasts with the anti-Netanyahu raucous protests in Israel. More than anything, however, was the difference between it and pro-Palestinian Arab demonstrations that have erupted since Hamas’s unprovoked Oct. 7 slaughter of 1,400 Israelis and others.

  • Pro-Palestinian/Hamas riots around the globe frequently involve calls for genocide, assaults, hooligans harassing holiday shoppers, and desecration of historic property, including American flags. They are chaotic and venomous and often require a major response from police departments.

Contrarily, the March for Israel’s aims were to support the Jewish State’s efforts to eradicate Islamist terrorism, demand the release of hostages kidnapped from Israel, and stand against the wave of antisemitism that has swept across the West since the war erupted.

There were tears, laughter and singing. Israeli flags were proudly waved, flanked by American flags with clear chants of “USA! USA! USA!” There were no calls for genocide and no violence.

  • On a perfect late autumn day, the March for Israel probably was the most orderly large-scale political rally this side of the annual March for Life.
  • Even the Thanksgiving Parade was desecrated by pro-Hamas demonstrators this year.

At pro-Palestinian rallies, it is commonplace to hear demonstrators clamor for the extermination of Israel, including Nazi-like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Jihad supporters, however, who spew such hatred are triggered by the most innocuous statements.

Anti-Israel media paid particular attention to House Speaker Mike Johnson declaring, “The calls for a cease-fire are outrageous,” prompting attendees to erupt in “No cease-fire!” chants.

The pro-death cult claims Johnson seeks to kill Palestinian civilians, but this is a pathetic distortion of his remarks and the reaction. The pro-Israel crowd was cheering the refusal to surrender and abandon the hostages taken by Hamas. The crowd was cheering Israel’s resolve to defeat Hamas. A cease-fire was in place Oct. 6. Hamas broke it the next day.

The peaceful nature of the rally is likely why the odious Washington Post declined to bury the story the following day.

  • The Post’s Nov. 15 above-the-fold front page mentions Israeli forces overtaking a hospital in Gaza.

The front page mentions the House passing a stopgap funding measure. Below the fold is a story about erstwhile Trump allies criticizing the former President’s actions following the 2020 election. There’s even a section about a bookstore owner.

At the very bottom left-hand corner, under the “In the news” heading, a line reads, “March for Israel: Thousands gathered on the National Mall to express solidarity, condemn antisemitism, and demand the release of hostages who were taken by Hamas.”

Not eventful enough?
On cue, a pro-Palestinian Arab event held nearby the following day turned violent as hundreds of protesters clashed with law enforcement. Mobs blocked entrances and exits to the DNC headquarters, denying several congressmen ingress and egress. The zealots rebuffed directives to retreat, prompting police to intervene, and confrontations ensued. Six officers were treated for injuries suffered during the altercations, and a “protester” was arrested for assaulting a law enforcement official.

One House Democrat said the scenes were scarier than the Jan. 6 Capital assault. He assuredly couldn’t say that about the March for Israel.

Source: Ari J. Kaufman – Arutz Sheva

Liberman to Arutz Sheva: The war is being led by the ‘concept coalition’

Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman spoke to Arutz Sheva-Israel National News on Tuesday and criticized the conduct of the political echelon and defense establishment in the face of the violations by Hamas of the ceasefire agreement brokered by Qatar.

“There is something here that is really unacceptable. There is a continuation of the same concept – the same attitude of containment. They shot at IDF soldiers today, detonated explosives on them and there is no response.

All this is also added to the news about a clause in the deal which says that the representatives of the Red Cross will visit the hostages who have not been released, and I see no sign of that.All the time the other side initiates, dictates our moves, and that’s how they manage to make a laughingstock of us and we follow them and do not initiate anything,” claimed Liberman.

Are you in favor of stopping the hostage deal and resuming the war?

“I am not saying at the moment whether to stop the deal. I am wondering, if you reached an agreement which stipulates that the Red Cross visits the hostages, where is it? The approach of containment is simply not changing.

The second thing is what is happening in the north. We hear all the time only statements that Hezbollah did not move beyond the Litani River.

When talking to the residents in the north, we need to make it clear to them that we, as a country, are determined to implement [UN Security Council] Resolution 1701, even unilaterally. The other side should listen to us and understand it. The same goes for the Red Sea with the Houthis. This is an essential maritime trade route for the State of Israel and it is simply impossibleto continue like this. Unfortunately, this is the picture on the ground.”

“What I see is that [Mossad chief] David Barnea is in Qatar with the head of the CIA and they are talking about extending the ceasefire beyond two days. Meaning they agreed that there would be two more days and they are already talking about extending the ceasefire, when [Ismail] Haniyeh is one room away from them. It doesn’t add up in my head.

So what about the soldiers? They are already in Gaza. So now some of them are being discharged and they will be recruited once again? The message being conveyed to the soldiers is simply problematic.”

Even though you are criticizing, you would be willing to sit with Netanyahu in the War Cabinet.When you are there, will it look different?

“I said that what I’m interested in is being in the War Cabinet. I don’t want another ministry, nor a coalition agreement or anything like that.

I’m here to voice the opposite opinion and that’s why he doesn’t invite me. He wants to hear himself. They’re all part of the old concept – Bibi, Eizenkot, Gantz, and also the Chief of Staff and the head of the Shin Bet.

After all, just a few days before the war broke out, they all said the same thing, that ‘Hamas is deterred and not interested in a war.'”

  • “We must challenge them. We must voice a different position and they will have to face it. But don’t worry, there is no fear that they will invite me. Right now the coalition between Likud and Blue and White is a coalition of the old concept.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Why Christmas is canceled in Bethlehem

In Bethlehem, Christmas is canceled.

Palestinian Christian leaders across denominations in the West Bank city decided last week that they will forgo all festivities this year as a mark of solidarity with their brethren in Gaza. There will be no public celebrations, no twinkling Christmas lights and no decorated tree in Manger Square — not as long, they say, as a state of war reigns over the embattled Gaza Strip, and the majority of its residents cope with Israeli bombardments, the devastation of their homes and a spiraling humanitarian crisis.

“This is madness,” Munther Isaac, pastor of Bethlehem’s Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, told me. “This has become a genocide with 1.7 million people displaced.”

Isaac was part of a small delegation of Palestinian Christians who came to Washington this week to lobby the Biden administration, U.S. lawmakers and religious leaders to support calls for a full-scale cease-fire. A six-day pause in hostilities between Israel and militant group Hamas is set to elapse Thursday, though negotiations with Hamas involving U.S., Israeli and Arab officials are ongoing to potentially extend the current truce. Israeli officials have vowed to continue their campaign against Hamas after hostages are released, while the Biden administration appears to be trying to restrain whatever next phase of the war Israel chooses to launch.

On Tuesday afternoon, the delegation went to the White House and delivered a letter for President Biden signed by the leaders of the Christian community in Bethlehem, including Isaac’s Protestant denomination and his Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic counterparts. They also went to the Hill to meet staff in the Senate and House of Representatives.

“God has placed political leaders in a position of power so that they can bring justice, support those who suffer, and be instruments of God’s peace,” reads the letter, which I got to see in advance of its delivery. “We want a constant and comprehensive cease-fire. Enough death. Enough destruction. This is a moral obligation. There must be other ways. This is our call and prayer this Christmas.”

Palestinian Christians belong to the world’s oldest Christian communities, rooted in the historic cradle of Christianity.

But they are diminished in number, at least in proportion to their neighbors of other faiths, and are represented in greater strength in the Palestinian diaspora around the world. Palestinian Christians comprise some 2 percent of the overall Palestinian population in the West Bank, concentrated mostly around Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and less than 1 percent of the population in Gaza.

The latter community, small but prominent, is in the midst of a potential extinction event. There are roughly fewer than 1,000 Christians in Gaza, who have lived there without much problem despite the de facto takeover of the territory in 2007 by Hamas. But Israeli airstrikes destroyed or damaged almost all the community’s homes in Gaza City while also hitting Gaza’s oldest active church, where some were sheltering. “The vast majority of the Christian community in Gaza are now homeless,” Isaac said.

That’s prompted perhaps as much as a fifth of Gaza’s Christians who also had foreign passports to abandon the territory altogether. The rest find themselves forsaken. “They are calling to us, saying, ‘Let us leave, we either die or we leave,’” said Tamar Haddad, a regional coordinator of the Lutheran World Federation who was also part of the visiting delegation.

Jack Sara, president of Bethlehem Bible College, pointed to how the plight of Palestinian Christians doesn’t seem to be heard by many U.S. evangelicals, who see in muscular Jewish supremacy over the Holy Land a pathway for their own messianic vision. Tennessee-based evangelical preacher Greg Locke, a vocal and oft-viral pro-Trump clergyman, called for Israel to reduce Gaza to a “parking lot” not long after the Oct. 7 attack. More than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed in the weeks since, including thousands of children.

The ideology of Christian Zionism animated the agenda of the Trump administration and influences a vast segment of Republican lawmakers, from former vice president Mike Pence to current Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Sara, a leading Palestinian evangelical theologian, told me that their creed “is not the evangelical theology and its message of love of all humans, regardless of their background and ethnicity” in which he believes and practices.

Away from Gaza, the members of the delegation described a growing climate of intimidation and hostility toward Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, fueled by the actions of Jewish extremists emboldened by Israel’s far-right government. “We feel Jewish extreme radicals want us out of Jerusalem and they’re working on it and they’re going unchecked,” Isaac said.

The delegation’s members condemned Hamas’s actions and deplored its killing of innocent civilians and abduction of hostages. But they questioned Israel’s declared intention to wipe out an organization that is part of the fabric of Palestinian society and seen as a standard-bearer of resistance to decades of Israeli military occupation and domination. “As horrifying as October 7 was, things did not start there,” Isaac said. “And you cannot just begin the story from there and as such, give a green light for Israel to do what it’s doing right now, which goes way beyond, which is a revenge campaign.”

Many leading foreign diplomats have stressed the underlying importance of reviving the long-stalled and moribund process of the two-state solution. Most Palestinians are cynical about this project, given the fecklessness of their own political leadership and the West’s inability to prevent Israel from further carving up the West Bank with settlements over the past two decades. Many Israeli politicians, including leading members of the current government, are also explicitly opposed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

But any postwar dispensation will have to reckon with the ground realities in Israel and the occupied territories.

“One thing is clear: all my interlocutors in the Arab world have accepted Israel’s existence and want to engage with it,” wrote top E.U. diplomat Josep Borrell in a Financial Times op-ed that followed a recent trip to the Middle East. “They recognize the immense opportunity that lies in a peaceful neighborhood, cross-border cooperation and Israel’s potential role as a regional economic driver. But all agree that Arab-Israeli cooperation hinges upon resolving the Palestinian question.”

In recent statements, President Biden has also invoked the need to forge a two-state solution as a priority for the region. But talk is cheap. “America needs to prove to the Palestinians that they are serious about the two state solution because any talk from the Americans about a two-state solution right now feels empty, given the lack of action,” Isaac said. “No one has held Israel accountable.”

In their letter to Biden, the Palestinian clergymen reiterated their appeal: “This land has been crying for peace and justice for 75 years. It is time justice is served. It is time everybody can live with dignity in this land. The Palestinian and Israeli children deserve to live, hope and dream.”

When Isaac returns to Bethlehem at the end of the week for the start of the Advent season, he and his colleagues intend to set up a small Nativity scene with rocks and debris piled atop it. “This is what Christmas now means to us that we see Jesus being born among those who have lost everything, who are under the rubble,” Isaac said.

Source: Washington Post

Russia finds new whisky supplier

China now ranks among Russia’s top ten suppliers of whisky, as it has embarked on a major expansion in the market after the departure of some popular Western brands, the business daily Kommersant reported on Friday, citing industry data.

According to the publication, China ramped up its supply of liquor to Russia tenfold in January-October to 464,000 liters, with whisky accounting for 421,000 liters of the total volume.

  • The country’s share in the total volume of whisky supplied to the Russian market reportedly stood at 0.5%.
  • The country has also surpassed Japan, which delivered fewer than 400,000 liters to Russia in January-October.

The report indicated that Indian distillers, which were also striving to fill the void left by departing Western firms, have also increased supplies to Russia.

According to Kommersant data, over the first ten months of this year Indian whisky exports increased eightfold, to more than 742,000 liters.

The curtailment of whiskey sales has been one of the heaviest blows dealt to the Russian market as a result of Western trade restrictions.

  • According to WineRetail estimates, bottled whisky imports were halved in 2022 to between 11 million and 12 million liters.

Some brands, including Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniel’s, Bushmills, Jim Beam and White Horse now arrive via parallel import schemes, and the number of suppliers is growing.

  • In addition, 36 new local whisky brands appeared on the Russian market in the first nine months of 2022, according to a NielsenIQ analysis.

Source: RT

Climate activist Thunberg flogged for ‘crush Zionism’ chant

Footage showing climate activist Greta Thunberg chanting “crush Zionism” at a recent pro-Palestinian rally in Sweden is provoking harsh-worded criticism of her by prominent Jewish environmentalists.

  • The actions by Thunberg, whom many regard as a symbol of the environmentalist movement, reflect how “large parts of ‘the left’ or ‘progressives’ have been intellectually captured by a naive, distorted and frankly bigoted anti-Zionism,” Nigel Savage, a UK-born environmental activist and founder of Jewish environmental nonprofit organization Hazon, tells The Times of Israel Tuesday.

Savage, whose Jerusalem-based group was established in 2000 and holds environmentally oriented bike rides in New York, adds: “It is a microcosm of a far larger and far greater challenge. It’s sad and disturbing.”

Thunberg has not immediately replied to attempts to obtain her reaction.

  • Alon Tal, a former Israeli lawmaker and a prominent environmental studies scientist, says that Thunberg has had “a historic role in raising global awareness about climate change,” but has “misused her stature to promote racist, violent positions.”

A Swedish 20-year-old who dropped out of school in 2018 to pursue a full-time activism career against what she warns is an impending climate-related crisis,

Thunberg is a vocal supporter of Palestinians and has posted photos of herself with signs supporting Gaza, including ones reading: “Stop the Holocaust” and “Jews for the liberation of Palestine.”

Source: TOI

The Jews and Boris Johnson: Zelensky’s top political ally looks for scapegoats as Ukrainian elites begin to accept the war is lost

A few days ago, President Vladimir Zelensky’s most important political ally, David Arakhamia, gave a long interview to TV presenter Natalya Moseichuk. Both are heavyweights of Ukraine’s public sphere, with widespread recognition and significant influence.

Moseichuk’s main platform is the television channel 1+1. Arakhamia heads the parliamentary faction of the ‘Servant of the People’ party, which is Zelensky’s machine and, as such, controls Ukraine in a de facto authoritarian manner.

  1. Bound to attract attention, the interview has done more: Due to Arakhamia’s unguarded (or deliberately revealing?) account of real yet missed opportunities to reach an early peace agreement in the full-scale war between Moscow and Kiev (and its Western sponsors and exploiters), it has caused a sensation.

Regarding the peace negotiations that took place in Belarus at the end of February and the beginning of March 2022, Arakhamia tells Moseichuk that the Russian delegation had one “key aim”: to make Ukraine accept neutrality and give up on NATO membership.

  • In Arakhamia’s own words, “everything else” Russia talked about, such as demands regarding “denazification, Russian-speaking populations, and blah-blah-blah” was merely “cosmetic political seasoning.”

 A hard truth about the Russia-Ukraine conflict is finally dawning on the West
Arakhamia’s admission proves, once more, that there have always been viable alternatives to war.

Western information warriors still denying this empirically established fact simply refuse to face their own terrible responsibility for stonewalling negotiations throughout. Likewise, Arakhamia demonstrates that everyone in Ukraine and the West who insisted that Moscow’s war aims were maximalist (whether to obliterate Ukraine as a state or to march right through it to, at least, Berlin) were flat out wrong, whether by mistake or on purpose. At least, that’s if we believe Arakhamia, who had direct experience with real representatives of Russia and not the fantasy creatures populating the minds of all too many Westerners, from Yale to Berlin. And note: Arakhamia has absolutely no reason to embellish Moscow’s record.

  • Or, for that matter, inclination. In the same interview, he occasionally uses the racist epithet “orcs” for Russians and displays that trademark arrogance that plays so well with Western visitors and has cost Ukraine so much. Arakhamia has made himself believe that his team had the advantage of 21st-century technology (by which he means Zoom and WhatsApp), while the Russian delegation was stuck in the 19th century (using secure landline phones to communicate with Moscow).

Of course, such technology first emerged during the 1940s, but that’s what the man said.

Recognizing that his Russian interlocutors were well prepared, unlike their Ukrainian counterparts, who improvised, he also pats himself on the back for “disrupting their schemes,” i.e. dragging the negotiations down to a level at which the designated “Banderite” (his term) in the Ukrainian delegation gave tubthumping speeches just to make the Russians “go pale.”

“But what about territory?” you may ask.

In the same interview, Arakhamia states that, at that point, the Russian negotiators were ready to “go back to where they were,” presumably to the pre-24 February borders.

  • Put differently, not only would the war have ended quickly, but Ukraine would also have kept all those territories that Russian forces have taken since then and those they are now likely to take in the future.

Kiev would have had to give up on Crimea and the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, areas whose inhabitants largely do not want to be part of Ukraine. Compared to what has happened since then, that would have been an easy way out.

The West, in this scenario, would have avoided the very damaging proxy war defeat that is now hanging over it. Everyone would have been better off economically as well. Obviously, that applies most of all to Ukraine, which is a devastated shadow of its former – already poor – self, propped up by Western aid (for now) and the European Union, especially Germany.

No wonder that Moseichuk’s next question for Arakhamia was why Ukraine did not take that Russian offer, a question that – as you will agree if you watch the interview – clearly surprised him. Looking a little like a poorly prepared student caught out in an exam, Arakhamia scrambles to patch together an impromptu answer.

  • Here’s what he comes up with: Striking the deal would have been unconstitutional because aiming for NATO membership has been written into the Ukrainian constitution; one can’t trust Russians anyhow, so Kiev could never have been certain that there would not be another Russian attack.
  • Both points are astonishingly flimsy: Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO (and the EU) was made part of its constitution only very recently, namely in 2019, at a time when constitutional law was transparently subordinated to short-term domestic political infighting. Post-1991 independent Ukraine existed for almost 30 years without such an unusual amendment.

Clearly, what has been added so recently could also have been revoked. Zelensky, with his Servant of the People machine, would have been perfectly able to make such a change if he had wished to. Hence, this was an obstacle that was politically surmountable. It should also not have been there in the first place because constitutions should stick to the fundamentals of political order. Aiming for this or that alliance is not part of these fundamentals by any stretch of the imagination, but a specific policy that should have remained open to ordinary political competition.

Arakhamia’s second pretext for failing to make peace, namely that Moscow could not be trusted “100%,” makes no sense either. For three reasons:

  1. First, he himself acknowledges in the same interview that the Russian delegation was very concerned about what Arakhamia dismissively calls “that Minsk,” i.e. Ukraine’s deliberate cheating on the Minsk agreements of and 2014 and 2015. If Russia was willing to extend enough trust for a compromise anyhow, then the least Zelensky’s Kiev could have done was reciprocate by taking a fairly ordinary risk. Because nothing is ever “100%” reliable, except perhaps the fact that when you won’t make peace, you will have more war.
  2. Secondly, why would Russia attack again if its one real reason to fight (as stated by Arakhamia), namely Ukraine’s drive toward NATO, would have been removed? Or is Arakhamia inadvertently betraying his own premise here that even after a deal, Ukraine would have systematically cheated again and continued its strategy of joining NATO (if perhaps surreptitiously), thus provoking another Russian response? That is the only assumption under which his statements are at least consistent. This interpretation seems all the more likely because Arakhamia also proudly admits that his delegation saw its main task in applying delaying tactics, while constantly coordinating with the Ukrainian military to gain maximum tactical advantage from that strategy of bad faith.
  3. Thirdly, Arakhamia seeks to explain one fiasco with another: At the end of a further round of negotiations in Istanbul, he reminds his viewers, then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Kiev that “we won’t sign a thing, we will just keep fighting.” So, not seizing an opportunity to end the war in early March is, in Arakhamia’s mind, somehow justified by not doing so again one month later. In essence, on orders from a Western leader, as if his word was law to the government of Ukraine, which it clearly was.

That, again, is no surprise.

What is intriguing is the wide-eyed honesty with which Arakhamia admits Western control over the Zelensky regime.

Challenged by Moseichuk about that impression, Arakhamia’s “defense” – hard as it is to believe – takes the form of denying the claim, while admitting that things were “agreed on” in constant consultation with the Western “partners.” These “partners” received information from Kiev in a “dosed” manner, while also always knowing or given access to “everything,” down to all draft documents produced inside the Zelensky regime. And, according to Arakhamia, “we of course knew that we could not leave the war on our own; therefore, we had to consult with them.” Make of that painfully inconsistent jumble what you will. One thing is clear: Kiev has chosen to see itself as literally unable to make peace without Western permission.

  • Reminded of the multiple signs – in the media and politics – that the West, especially the US, is turning away from Ukraine, Arakhamia blames Israel, or to be precise, the “Jewish lobby” (his term) in the US, which, he believes, is widely represented “on all levels” and in “all decision making centers” and exerts this influence, he is sure, to prioritize the current war between Israel and the Palestinians.

Let’s set aside Arakhamia’s anti-Semitic terminology (there is a very important difference between using the terms “Israeli lobby” and “Jewish lobby”). What is striking is his complete refusal – or inability? – to assign any weight to how the war has been going in Ukraine. Yet, in reality, signs of serious Western fatigue preceded the outbreak of the latest Middle East crisis, and their real cause is, of course, the failure of Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive and, more generally, the fact that Russia is winning.

Perhaps the most depressing part of an often bizarre conversation with a man who is either not very much in control of what he says or has a very complicated agenda is Arakhamia’s odd sense of Ukraine’s current situation. He repeatedly declares that the US does not owe Kiev anything, which sits badly with his preceding admission – convoluted and yet clear – that Washington has a de facto veto on Ukraine ever making peace. Ukrainians, he announces, must rely on themselves – and keep fighting. Moseichuk asks him “with what?” and his response is an incoherent rant about “secret factories” and how “we have a lot of stuff.” Clearly, Zelensky is not the only top politician who takes flight in fantasies while Ukraine burns. Onward and downward it is.

  • The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Source: Tarik Cyril Amar – RT

Bank of Israel estimates cost of Hamas war

Israel’s war on Hamas will cost the country $53 billion and hamper economic growth into 2024, according to figures published by the Bank of Israel on Monday.

Fighting has been paused since a truce came into effect on Friday, but the Israeli military is expected to resume operations in Gaza this week.

Direct military spending will account for $29 billion of the $53 billion total, the bank stated, adding that this figure includes military aid provided by the US.

  • Compensation for damage will come to $6 billion, while other civilian expenditure will come to $6.75 billion. Lost tax revenue and interest on government debt will make up the remainder.
  • The war will also stifle Israel’s economic growth, the bank warned. Growth will remain at 2% for the rest of the year and through 2024, down from earlier projections of 2.3% and 2.8% respectively.
  • The war will result in the loss of about 3% of GDP by the end of 2024, the bank noted, pointing to the closure of businesses and educational institutions during hostilities.

The war began on October 7 when Hamas militants launched a surprise rocket and missile attack on Israeli cities, before pouring across the Gaza-Israel border and occupying nearby Israeli towns and settlements. Israel responded with an intense campaign of aerial bombardment, followed by a ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave at the end of the month.

  • More than 1,200 people were killed in Israel and 15,000 have lost their lives in Gaza, according to the most recent figures from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Gaza Health Ministry.

A truce came into effect on Friday, and was extended for a further 48 hours on Monday, to allow for the exchange of Israeli hostages in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners – some of whom were being held without charge – in Israeli jails.

  • So far, 40 out of around 240 hostages have been freed by Hamas, in exchange for 117 Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli officials have said that they may extend the truce for each additional 10 hostages released, although Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday that the IDF’s operation will resume once the truce expires, and will continue until Hamas is destroyed.

Although the war is costing Israel around $270 million per day and chipping away at the country’s GDP, its toll on Gaza’s fragile economy has been far more pronounced.

Nearly half of the strip’s structures have been destroyed and almost 400,000 jobs have been lost, according to UN reports.

  • With poverty set to rise by almost 45 percent if fighting continues into December, the UN Development Programme warned earlier this month that the war would set back development in Gaza between 16 and 19 years.

Source: RT

Liberman: “Netanyahu is granting immunity to Hamas leaders”

Journalist Ben Caspit reports that over the course of the last few years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was presented with six potential operations for the assassination of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

The operations were presented by the last three directors of the ISA – Yoram Cohen, Nadav Argaman, and Ronen Bar.

According to the report, each of the six was not merely a theory, but a fully-prepared operation ready to be launched, had Netanyahu approved any of them – which he did not.

Additionally, the report claims that the elite Nukhba force of Hamas had grown by more than 100% recently, something that did not draw alarm from Israel’s intelligence services.

  • Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Liberman commented: “Netanyahu may deny this report forever, but he is the one granting immunity to the leaders of Hamas, and preventing any attempt to assassinate them.”
  • “I am not guessing, I am writing this as someone who knows the subject personally. This of course joins the report in a French magazine recently, which states that Netanyahu has agreed with the Qatari government not to carry out assassinations of Hamas leaders on Qatari soil.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has denied the report.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Nobel Prize winner Yisrael Aumann: ‘Media campaign is raising the price of our hostages’

Prof. Yisrael (Robert) Aumann, a winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize and Israel Prize in economics, spoke with Arutz Sheva – Israel National News about the war against Hamas.

  • ”Israel has taken appropriate measures. Hamas needs to be wiped out,” he said.
  • “The people of Gaza are not innocent bystanders, but a part of the circumstances that allowed Hamas to come to power. We pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and left them complete independence to do as they see fit. The high society has beautiful homes there. They could have chosen peaceful coexistence; instead, they chose to elect Hamas, shortly after we pulled out of there. Instead of peaceful coexistence, the population of Gaza chose to elevate Hamas to positions of power. We cannot ignore that, although we do not, at any time, target civilians.”

Prof. Aumann says that the war has highlighted the importance of Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria:

  • ”I was very much against the expulsion from Gush Katif. In a way, it has strengthened our will to remain in Judea and Samaria, and it is very important that not only the army but the so-called settlers remain there. Legitimate Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria because without it, we could be accused of colonialism. If it were only the army, people could say that we are an ‘occupying force.’ We are not occupying; we belong in Gaza, in Judea and Samaria, in the Golan Heights. We have come back after two thousand years – two thousand years during which there has been a continuous Jewish presence in all these areas. We are not colonialists, we belong there.”

“It is important that people in Tel Aviv, who call the people in Judea and Samaria ‘messianic stargazers,’ understand that the people in Judea and Samaria are protecting them, legitimizing the army’s presence there and preventing the same kind of massacre we saw in the Gaza region from happening in central Israel.”

He also noted the complexities involved in the prisoner exchange deal.

  • ”I think the desire to see the hostages returned safely is understandable, and I am glad that I am not in the position of being the father or great-grandfather of any of the hostages” he said.
  • “I embrace them and totally understand them. However, the noise being made in Israel on the matter is negative. Outside of Israel, it’s good, but here it says to Hamas that we care about those things, and brings up the price that we have to pay. It may actually bring the price too high for us to pay, and we will never get them back and the campaign will have backfired. indeed, it already has.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Header: Disengagement in Netzarim