Why has Israel banned Jewish leftists but not members of Nazi-linked groups? | +972 Magazine

Source: Why has Israel banned Jewish leftists but not members of Nazi-linked groups? | +972 Magazine

This latest incident should be added to a gallery of physical and moral assaults on the Jews who fall outside these criteria, whether it’s the recent deportation of a Kenyan Jew with a valid visa (“Do you want half of Africa coming here?” cried an Interior Ministry official); the arrests of women who try to bring a Torah to the Western Wall; or the violent disdain for Reform Jews, whom Jerusalem’s chief rabbi not long ago declared to be “worse than Holocaust deniers.”

There is a toxic mix of prejudices at work here: racism, illiberalism, religious chauvinism. As the checks on these impulses fall by the wayside — and not just in Israel — these blacklists will continue to grow. For now, though, this latest ban sends a clear message: acting in support of Palestinian human and civil rights makes you persona non grata in Israel.


AMERICA/UNITED STATES – Salvadorans without protection in America, the Church will not abandon separated families


Washington – “The decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador is heartbreaking”. As detailed in our recent delegation trip report to the region, El Salvador is currently not in a position to adequately handle the return of the roughly 200,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients. Today’s decision will fragment American families, leaving over 192,000 U.S. citizen children of Salvadoran TPS recipients with uncertain futures. Families will be needlessly separated because of this decision”: with these harsh words , the US Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed its profound disagreement with the current government policy.
A statement sent to Fides, signed by Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration, informs that on January 8th, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it is terminating Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador.
“DHS has provided an 18-month period during which TPS recipients from El Salvador can legally stay in the United States and prepare for their departure. While we recognize and appreciate this extra time, it will not remedy the underlying protection and family unity concerns that remain for Salvadoran TPS recipients.
We renew our call to Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for long-term TPS recipients, and we stand ready to support such efforts”, continues the text.
“TPS recipients are an integral part of our communities, churches, and nation. Without action by Congress, however, recipients’ lives will be upended and many families will be devastated. As with DACA, we strongly urge Congressional members and leadership to come together and address this issue as soon as possible. To Salvadoran TPS recipients, we promise to continue to stand in solidarity with you and pray for you and your families, and all those who are displaced or forced to flee from their homes”, concludes the statement.

Julian Assange’s stay in London embassy untenable, says Ecuador


South American country that has housed WikiLeaks founder for five years says it is seeking mediator to end impasse with UK

Ecuador’s foreign minister has said Julian Assange’s five-and-a-half-year stay in her country’s London embassy is “untenable” and should be ended through international mediation.

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in Knightsbridge since the summer of 2012, when he faced the prospect of extradition to Sweden over claims that he sexual assaulted two women. He denies the accusations.

Continue reading…

More on termination of TPS for El Salvador


Here is some additional information about the decision by the Trump administration today to cancel Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador.

The full text of the announcement by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen is here.  Beyond the fact that TPS is terminated by her decision, there are a few other important points in the announcement.   First, the statement throws the ball back into Congress’ lap:

Only Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status of those currently protected by TPS who have lived and worked in the United States for many years. The 18-month delayed termination will allow Congress time to craft a potential legislative solution.

In many ways, the Trump administration’s action directly parallels the steps it took with DACA.    Trump and DHS cancelled both programs, but with an effective date many months away.   The administration then said “Congress can fix any problem if it needs to be fixed.”      Do not blame the administration. Blame Congress if there needs to be any permanent fix.”  The Salvadoran Foreign Ministry vowed to work with allies in Congress to get a legislative fix to the end of TPS.   While there are currently bills introduced in Congress which would offer green cards to TPS beneficiaries, it is not clear that there is sufficient political support to pass them.

Second, the announcement creates an 18 month grace period until September 19, 2018 for TPS holders to leave:

To allow for an orderly transition, the effective date of the termination of TPS for El Salvador will be delayed 18 months to provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible. Salvadorans in the United States who benefited from TPS may still receive other protections under our immigration system for which they are eligible. 

The 18 months will also provide time for El Salvador to prepare for the return and reintegration of its citizens. During this timeframe, DHS will work with the Department of State and the Government of El Salvador to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition. In addition to materials posted online, DHS components will participate in outreach activities such as teleconferences, town halls and roundtables to ensure that affected populations have a full and accurate understanding of their rights and obligations.

In El Salvador, the government seized on the grace period as a form of victory.   President Salvador Sanchez Ceren issued a statement which characterized the 18 month grace period as an  “extension” (prórroga) of TPS for Salvadorans recognizing their important contributions as a work force in the US.  The FMLN  called the grace period a prórroga and labelled it an “achievement” of the government.   The president and his party were widely chastised on social media for such a characterization of the cancellation of the program.

@DebateconNacho Dígale a la diputada del @FMLNoficial que pare ya de mentir y engañar a la gente; prorroga no hay, son 18 meses periodo de transición, para que los que tienen trámites a medias los terminen, el TPS se acabó

— RodrigoMayoraRe (@RodrigoMayora) January 9, 2018

The Salvadoran Foreign Ministry tried to pat itself on the back  by asserting that the 18 month grace period before Salvadorans with TPS must leave was the longest the US government had ever created when terminating the status for a given country.

Meanwhile, various ARENA politicians blamed the loss of TPS on the FMLN, asserting that the left wing party poorly managed the relationship with the US and was irresponsable in its statements about Washington’s role in the world.

Third, Salvadorans with TPS are required to re-register with the US government in order to get the benefit of the grace period:

Salvadorans with TPS will be required to re-register for TPS and apply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the termination of El Salvador’s TPS designation becomes effective Sept. 9, 2019.

It should be noted that re-registering in this fashion will help DHS to have an up-to-date address list when it comes time to deport people in 2019. 

Here is some of today’s coverage from newspapers in metropolitan areas where large concentrations of Salvadorans currently live:


Who speaks for the Fatemiyoun?

BBC Persian made a splash when it reported last week that about 2,000 Afghans had died in Syria fighting on behalf of Assad as part of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, a proxy militia organized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The number, an outdated figure whose accuracy we might discuss in a different blog post, was attributed to a Fatemiyoun “cultural official,” a man named Sayed Zuhair Mujahed.

Who is this Mujahed? Is he really a Fatemiyoun “official”?

The short answer is that he appears to be too outspoken to hold a formal post with the tightly run Fatemiyoun ship, though he has served with the outfit in Syria and still maintains an association with it, which allows him to speak informally for the group and its fighters.

In Fatemiyoun parlance, “cultural” activities include three broad functions:

  • Public relations for the group: Includes public statements, producing propaganda films and songs, documenting the war in photos and video, etc.;
  • Services for active-duty fighters: Includes organizing religious events at regional bases in Syria, organizing tours for singers of religious songs to the frontline, managing commemoration ceremonies of Shiite imams, etc.; and
  • Services for dead and out-of-commission fighters: Includes managing burial ceremonies for fighters, holding anniversaries for dead commanders and events for fighters’ families.

The current cultural deputy for Fatemiyoun is an Iranian cleric called Hojjat Ganabadinezhad, a cleric who is a key member of Astan-e Qods-e Razavi, the powerful charitable trust headed by Ibrahim Raisi, the hardline cleric and politician who is a member of the Assembly of Experts and ran against Rouhani in the 2017 elections. The trust manages the Imam Reza shrine, Iran’s most revered Shia holy site.

Sayed Zuhair Mujahed, on the other hand, is a 34-year-old Iran-born junior cleric of Afghan heritage who served in the Fatemiyoun in Syria, most likely in a cultural role. Although he was born, raised and educated in Iran, the Iranian media still refers to him as an Afghan. And Mujahed has embraced this role, carving his niche as a pro-Afghan, pro-Fatemiyoun spokesperson and advocate in Iranian media.

Sayed Zuhair Mujahed's selfie in Tehran

Sayed Zuhair Mujahed takes a selfie in Tehran

Mujahed refers to himself as a “preacher” and is still a student at a seminary in Mashhad, where he also speaks to the media on Fatemiyoun and Afghan issues.

Mujahed has complained about the mistreatment of Afghans in Iran and how Fatemiyoun veterans and their families are sometimes not given their due. In December 2017, he appeared on a live show alongside Nader Talebzadeh, a TV personality and conservative activist, to criticize Iranian conservatives and conservative media for not doing enough to recognize the sacrifices of Fatemiyoun fighters. In a Facebook post, he recalls the producer reprimanding him for his remarks.

In another social media post, he criticizes Iran’s censorship of books after seeing differences between Afghan and Iranian translations of Zalmay Khalilzad’s book, The Envoy:

I’m reading a PDF translation of the book by [Afghan journalist] Harun Najafizada. Today, I went to a bookstall in Mashhad to buy the book [in hard copy] and only found the translation by Mustafa Ahmadi, which had been corrected. I felt very sorry after reading the two translations. In today’s open world, why are some [quarters] hesitant even about quoting a writer?

There are numerous other instances where his interviews and social media posts indicate a lack of message discipline, deviating from the standard IRGC/Fatemiyoun line. This indicates that although he may still maintain an association with the Fatemiyoun after his Syria tour, he probably does not hold an official post.

However, some outlets, such as conservative-leaning Tasnim News, have identified him as “the designated successor to Fatemiyoun’s cultural deputy.” But Tasnim has also referred to him simply as “an Afghan cleric.” Most recently, Tasnim published his statement disavowing any formal association with the Fatemiyoun after BBC Persian identified him as a Fatemiyoun official.

It is possible that his tour with the Fatemiyoun in Syria and his continued association with Fatemiyoun families have blurred the lines about his actual role, causing some confusion in the media. After all, he can be seen at a lot of Fatemiyoun cultural events in Iran, including at burials, commemorations and events for Fatemiyoun families. These appearances fit within his role as a cleric because clerics are expected to officiate, perform rituals and lead prayers.

But the Fatemiyoun runs a tightly PR coordinated operation. Authorized messages echo across various social and traditional media outlets. Statements often appear verbatim in various media outlets to ensure accuracy. As a lifelong resident of Iran and a cleric, Mujahed probably enjoys some leeway in speaking his mind, but his free-wheeling style hardly squares with Fatemiyoun’s highly scripted approach to PR.