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US Paused Weapons Shipment to Israel Over Rafah Operation Concerns, Pentagon Chief Confirms

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testifies before a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on US President Joe Biden’s proposed budget request for the Department of Defense on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, April 17, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday confirmed that the Biden administration halted the delivery of high payload munitions to Israel due to concerns over a possible Israeli military offensive in the Gaza city of Rafah.

“We’ve been very clear … from the beginning that Israel shouldn’t launch a major attack in Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians in that battle space,” Austin testified during a hearing of the US Senate Appropriations Committee.

According to US officials, the weapons delivery in question was supposed to contain 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs. Austin said on Wednesday that the US paused “one shipment of high payload munitions” without elaborating on the size or number of munitions.

Austin was the first senior Biden administration official to publicly outline a possible shift in US policy on arming Israel. The US is a close ally of Israel and its biggest arms supplier.

The paused delivery was the first time the US held up a weapons shipment for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules Gaza, launched the ongoing war when it invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7, murdering 1,200 people and abducting 252 others as hostages. Israel responded with a military campaign aimed at freeing the hostages and incapacitating Hamas to the point that it can longer pose a major threat to the Israeli people from neighboring Gaza, a Palestinian enclave home to over 2 million people.

The US has been consistently supplying Israel with weapons since October. However, under heavy pressure from Democrats and progressive activists to oppose Israel’s war effort, President Joe Biden has adopted an increasingly critical posture toward the Jewish state. That transition peaked last month, when Biden threatened to pull back support for Israel due to the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Austin argued on Wednesday that Israel didn’t need large bombs in a dense urban setting like Rafah.

A “small-diameter bomb, which is a precision weapon, it’s very useful in a dense, built-up environment … but maybe not so much a 2,000-pound bomb that could create a lot of collateral damage,” Austin said.

“We’ve not made a final determination on how to proceed with that shipment,” he added.

The US has sought to pressure Israel to forgo a significant military operation in Rafah, citing the potential for civilian casualties; Jerusalem has countered that a ground offensive is necessary to eliminate Hamas’ remaining battalions in the southern Gaza city.

Experts have told The Algemeiner that Israel must operate in Rafah, which Israeli officials have described as Hamas’ last bastion in Gaza, if the Jewish state wishes to achieve its war objective of eliminating the threat posed by the Palestinian terrorist group.

Israel this week began limited operations in Rafah, but it remains unclear when and if a full-scale military offensive will take place. Israeli forces have sent leaflets and other forms of messages to civilians in Gaza, urging them to evacuate to a humanitarian safe zone.

Austin stressed that US support for Israel is “ironclad.”

“We’re going to continue to do what’s necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself,” Austin said. “But that said, we are currently reviewing some near-term security assistance shipments in the context of unfolding events in Rafah.”

Republican lawmakers lambasted Austin and the Biden administration for the decision.

“If we stop weapons necessary to destroy the enemies of the State of Israel at a time of great peril, we will pay a price,” said US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who argued Washington shouldn’t second-guess how Israel waged a war against Islamist terrorists committed to its destruction. “This is obscene. It is absurd. Give Israel what they need.”

Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Mike Rogers (R-AL) — the chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees, respectively — also slammed the Biden administration’s move.

“We are appalled that the administration paused crucial arms shipments to Israel. Withholding arms to Israel weakens Israel’s deterrence against Iran and its proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “At a time when Israel continues to negotiate in good faith to secure the release of hostages, including American citizens, the administration’s shortsighted, strategic error calls into question its ‘unshakeable commitment’ as an ally. The administration must allow these arms shipments to move forward to uphold the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and ensure that Israel can defend itself and defeat Hamas.”

Israeli officials have reportedly expressed “deep frustration” with the Biden administration over the weapons shipment pause. However, IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Wednesday that the allies will resolve such issues “behind closed doors,” adding that coordination between the US and Israel has reached “a scope without precedent, I think, in history.”

The post US Paused Weapons Shipment to Israel Over Rafah Operation Concerns, Pentagon Chief Confirms first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

Iran’s so-called “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, applauded the anti-Israel protesters who have thrown university campuses across the US into chaos over the past several weeks, declaring them part of a new “branch of the Resistance Front” against the Jewish state.

“Dear university students in the United States of America, this message is an expression of our empathy and solidarity with you,” Khamenei wrote in an open letter published on Thursday. “As the page of history is turning, you are standing on the right side of it.”

Rehashing antisemitic conspiracies of Jewish control, he derided “the global Zionist elite” for speaking against the campus demonstrations.

“The global Zionist elite — who owns most US and European media corporations or influences them through funding and bribery — has labeled this courageous, humane resistance movement as ‘terrorism,’” Khamenei wrote. “You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure — a government which openly supports the usurper and brutal Zionist regime.”

Khamenei also praised students in other countries who have launched anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses, noting the leading role that faculty have played in fostering and supporting the unrest.

“Besides you students from dozens of American universities, there have also been uprisings in others countries among academics and the general public,” he wrote. “The support and solidarity of your professors is a significant and consequential development. This can offer some measure of comfort in the face of your government’s police brutality and the pressures it is exerting on you. I too am among those who empathize with you young people, and value your perseverance.”

Khamenei’s letter came amid an outpouring of praise for the anti-Zionist students by Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

“While we support the assassination of the infidel Zionists and the beheading of them, we also appreciate and value the movement of Western demonstrators and sit-in students from Western universities, who through their sit-ins and protests expressed their rejection of the genocide taking place in Gaza,” al-Qaeda leadership wrote in a recent communique

Hamas and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran, have also cheered the protests.

“Today’s students are the leaders of the future, and their suppression today means an expensive electoral bill that the Biden administration will pay sooner or later,” Hamas official Izzat Al-Risheq said in a statement last month.

Naim Qassem, the deputy head of Hezbollah, also praised the protesters during an interview with Al-Manar TV earlier this month.

“We appreciate and value this very much. Perhaps in the future, there will be cooperation among the youth of the world — in America, France, Britain, Germany, and all the activists,” he said. “The [campus protests] are important, especially because they will have an impact on US elections. They will have an impact on the American position.”

Earlier this month, when some universities suspended students who had occupied sections of campus and refused to leave unless school officials agreed to condemn and boycott Israel, the Iran-backed Houthi militia, a terrorist organization that has repeatedly violated freedom of the seas by attacking international shipping vessels passing through the Red Sea, offered to admit the disciplined students as transfers to Sanaa University, an institution it administers.

Some anti-Zionist student groups have reciprocated the admiration.

Last week, Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) endorsed Hamas, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace Islamic extremism and antisemitism.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has re-formed under multiple names since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, was central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The anti-Zionist student movement’s support for terrorism and anti-American ideologies has been expressed before.

Footage of the protests which erupted on college campuses at the end of spring semester showed demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas and calling for the destruction of Israel. In many cases, they lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas at Columbia University, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Advocacy Group Attempts to Shore Up Support for Israel Among US Democrats

US President Joe Biden addresses rising levels of antisemitism, during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony, at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, US, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

A pro-Israel advocacy group is attempting to quell fears among US Democratic politicians that expressing support for the Jewish state amid the ongoing war in Gaza will lead to electoral defeat in November. 

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a group that advocates for pro-Israel policies within the Democratic Party, circulated a memo this week explaining that the war in Gaza is simply not a top priority for most of the electorate. The memo, first acquired by Axios news website, asserts that “it just isn’t true” that Democratic support for Israel will come at an electoral cost. 

The group argues that a series of misleading polls has caused Democratic elected officials to become more tepid in their support for the Jewish state. 

To bolster its claims, DMFI points to a poll conducted by the New York Times in May which revealed that only 2 percent of voters cite Israel, Palestinians, Hamas, or Gaza as their most important issue. Nonetheless, the Times tried to exaggerate the extent to which voters care about the Israel-Hamas war by highlighting the 5 percent of voters who cite foreign policy as their biggest issue, according to DMFI. However, these 5 percent of voters did not identify if the war in Gaza is their major foreign policy concern.

The group also points out a Harvard-Harris poll from April which showed that Americans overwhelmingly side with Israel in its ongoing war effort. Eighty percent of Americans support Israel and only 20 percent back Hamas, the poll revealed.

DMFI also suggests that Israel’s ongoing military offensive against Hamas has not had a noticeable impact on President Joe Biden’s national standing. According to polling data aggregated by FiveThirtyEight, the president’s approval rating on Oct. 7of last year stood at 39.6 percent, and on April 23 last month, his approval stood at 40 percent. The same poll reveals that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden did not grow over the same time period. 

DMFI president Mark Mellman told Axios that anti-Israel activists represent a small fringe of the American electorate. 

“People sometimes mistake volume for percentage, and the fact that some people are very loud doesn’t make them the majority. … It doesn’t even make them a substantial minority,” Mellman said.

The group’s efforts to reach out to Democrats come on the heels of a high-pressure effort by left-wing groups to force the Democratic establishment to stop supporting Israel. Anti-Israel organizations have organized efforts to encourage voters in Democratic primaries to vote “uncommitted” in lieu of voting for Biden. Moreover, nearly every appearance by Biden in recent months has been marked by the presence of scores of angry anti-Israel protesters

The relationship between Democratic politicians and the Jewish state has significantly soured in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people in southern Israel. High-profile Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) have suggested that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) signed onto a letter urging Biden to pause weapons shipments to Israel. Biden vowed to stop arms deliveries to Israel if the Israeli army attempts to dismantle the remaining Hamas battalions within the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, expressing concern about the prospect of civilian casualties during such an offensive.

The post Advocacy Group Attempts to Shore Up Support for Israel Among US Democrats first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

The post Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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