My Mideast Punchlines: Groundhog Day

Nearly three quarters of Iran’s main centrifuge assembly hall was destroyed by the recent explosion there, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) president David Albright has told The Jerusalem Post.

Albright said that this latest revelation is based on two new satellite overviews showing a much fuller picture than footage that was released last weekend, indicating that the vast majority of the centrifuge assembly hall was wiped out.

According to the latest report by the think tank, “High-resolution commercial satellite imagery… shows that the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC) at the Natanz Enrichment Site has suffered significant, extensive, and likely irreparable damage to its main assembly hall section.”

Further, the report says, “This new facility, inaugurated in 2018, was critical to the mass production of advanced centrifuges, in particular the assembly of rotor assemblies, the rapidly spinning part of the centrifuge and its most crucial component. ”

biffFollowing the attack, the heads of Iran’s leaders must be spinning faster than their erstwhile centrifuges. Their initial response was predictable. Firstly, the damage was slight. A (bike?) shed, don’t yer know. Then the shed became a factory, and finally they couldn’t hide from the satellite photos, which showed the whole caboodle had been sent to Valhalla. With any luck, it will have set back the lying ayatollahs by a couple of years at least. And then, of course, the Israelis (?) will repeat the process. Iran has now suffered a series of six fires, explosions and chemical mishaps since June 26, waged by an unknown perpetrator.

I don’t know whether there’s any truth to the rumours that the regime is planning to introduce a further self-flagellating festival alongside that of Ashura. Now, what’s the Farsi for Groundhog Day?


My Mideast Punchlines: hokey cokey…

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that he is prepared to hold talks with the US, if Washington first apologises for leaving a landmark 2015 nuclear pact and recommits to the terms of the deal.

During a televised cabinet meeting Rouhani said Washington’s recent calls on Iran to open negotiations are just “words and lies,” Reuters reported.

Iran accuses the US of trying to prevent that by pressuring the countries still in the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Meanwhile, Iran has been violating its restrictions, including the amount of uranium it can enrich and the purity of enrichment, to try to pressure the five countries.

“We have no problem with talks with the US, but only if Washington fulfills its obligations under the nuclear deal, apologizes and compensates Tehran for its withdrawal from the 2015 deal,” Rouhani said.

biffWhat amount of compensation would you like, Mr Rouhani? A further $150 billion that you got as a sweetener from Obama to join that rancid deal in the first place? I’m reminded of the passing of  Larry LaPrise last week. Larry who? You know, the guy who composed that old Music Hall and children’s favourite, The Hokey Cokey. My revised words would go something like this: You put the billions in, you take the billions out (sanctions), in out, in out, you shake it all about….that’s what it’s all about. Ohhh,……..

No, Mr Rouhani, Soak ’em Hokum, your version of The Hokey Cokey, will not work twice. On the other hand, if boring Biden beats Trump in November, you might just stand a chance. For the Democrats, forking out another 150 billion smackers is cheap if it means putting upstart Israel in its place.


My Mideast Punchlines: the circus comes to town

Speaking to the cameras today moments before entering the Jerusalem District Court room in which he is now on trial for corruption, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed a furious assault on his accusers — insisting that the charges against him are absurd and fabricated, that he is the victim of an attempted political coup by the police, the state prosecutors, the left and the media, and that the entire skewed process is designed to remove him, and the right-wing camp he leads, from power for years to come.

Almost all of what he said on Sunday afternoon he has said before, in similar speeches broadcast live into the nation’s living rooms by that allegedly biased and hostile media over the past two years: That the coup attempt is a consequence of the left’s failure to remove him from power at the ballot box for a decade; that his police investigators are corrupt; that the state prosecutors have invented a crime especially for him that is on no democracy’s lawbooks — that of attaining favorable media coverage; that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is weak or is being extorted because he has something to hide; that the public knows all this, knows the truth. And, finally, that he will emerge vindicated and continue to lead Israel.

biffRoll up, roll up, folks, the circus has finally come to town. And it looks like being in town for many more months to come. There are all sorts of left-leaning prey animals to gape at: media tigers, legal alligators, hyperventilating hot-air hippos, the so-called expert pundits who can tell a guilty man when they see one. And, make no mistake, Bibi Netanyahu is as guilty as hell. He’s guilty of being a consummate politician, a maneuverer, a manipulator who has steered Israel for longer than any previous premier. He’s also guilty of turning Israel into an economic powerhouse, while at the same time increasing the gap between rich and poor. Yes, Bibi is guilty of a lot of things. But what he is not guilty of is jeopardising his career and his legacy for a Havana cigar, a favour to a friendly businessman, or a few kind words in the antagonistic media. Bibi is probably wrong when he says all three of the judges trying him are a bunch of lefties. Nevertheless, if they find him guilty of the charges against him (Google the details), they will have joined the circus themselves — as clowns.

My Mideast Punchlines: wolf whistle…

Palestinian Authority and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has announced that the PA is renouncing the peace deals it signed with Israel along with its agreements with the United States. According to several left-leaning Israeli television commentators and retired generals, his speech was an earthquake. It was a calamity of epic proportions. Most importantly, it was a reason to bury the government’s plan to apply Israeli law to the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley.

biffBut as Caroline Glick says, the truth is not at all what they claim. This isn’t an earthquake. It isn’t even a hiccup. It isn’t a calamity. It’s just a tired, recycled, empty threat. I’ve lost count the number of times Abbas has cried wolf. If he ceases cooperation between PA security forces and Israel, who will be in the greatest danger? The ageing and ailing Abbas is being kept alive by Israel informing him whenever the trigger fingers of his Hamas rivals seem to be getting a bit itchy. The most important cooperation is not between Israel and the PA, but between Israel and the various local militias (discounting Hamas, of course). Abbas should heed the ancient Arab proverb, “be wary around your enemy once, and your friend a thousand times. A double-crossing friend knows more about what harms you.”

So Abbas will continue to whistle in the wind, safe in the knowledge of where his best interests lie.



My Mideast Punchlines: blah-blah…

Iran‘s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel will not survive and will “be eliminated” on Twitter Friday morning.

“First, I would like to highlight the magnitude of the tragedy of the occupation of #Palestine and the formation of the Zionist cancerous tumor in that country,” Khamenei said. Among crimes against humanity in recent times, there is no crime that equals this crime in terms of scope and gravity”.

Khamenei said that “today, the resistance front is moving with increasing power and hope, while the front of oppression, unbelief and arrogance is growing more hopeless and powerless by the day. Today the ‘invincible’ Zionist army is forced to retreat against resisting people in Lebanon and Gaza.”

biffBlah-blah and more blah-blah. Remember those Daleks in Dr Who? “You will be eliminated…you will be eliminated.” Taking a brief look at the relative economies of Iran and Israel, I’d say it is Iran that is looking more hopeless and powerless by the day. Coronavirus notwithstanding, the price of oil has plummeted (although, to be fair, the U.S. boycott meant it couldn’t sell much of the black stuff anyway). Like the Daleks, Khamenei is from another planet, a place where self-delusion reigns supreme. I wish the ageing Ayatollah would simply zahré mār.   Although in Farsi this literally means to “take the poison of the snake”, it is in fact an exhortation to “shut the f*** up!”

My Mideast Punchlines: port whine…

Israel carried out a recent sophisticated cyberattack on an Iranian port facility, causing widespread chaos, apparently in retaliation for an attempt by Tehran to target Israel’s water infrastructure, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The report, citing foreign and US officials, said Israel was likely behind the hack that brought the “bustling Shahid Rajaee port terminal to an abrupt and inexplicable halt” on May 9.

“Computers that regulate the flow of vessels, trucks and goods all crashed at once, ­creating massive backups on waterways and roads leading to the facility,” the Post reported, adding that it had seen satellite photos showing miles-long traffic jams leading to the port and ships still waiting to offload several days later.

biffIran whined only that an unknown foreign hacker had briefly knocked the port’s computers offline. Well, now that the country’s legislators have banned everything containing Israeli technology (see my previous punchline), all those computers will have to be tossed onto the bonfire. It’s the will of Allah, you see.

Man proposes, God disposes.

My Mideast Punchlines: flight of fancy…

Iran’s parliament on Monday approved legislation barring any cooperation with Israel, including the use of any Israeli computer hardware or software, and branding any such cooperation an act against God.

“Based on the first article of the bill, all Iranian bodies are required to use the country’s regional and international capacities to confront the Zionist regime’s measures,” an Iranian parliamentary spokesman, Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, said. According to the Fars news site, any cooperation or spying for “the Zionist regime” is to be considered “equal to enmity towards God and corruption on earth,” and “activities of the Israeli software platforms in Iran and using its hardware and software products is forbidden.”

biffOh, dear, they really haven’t thought this thing through, have they? As every mobile phone in the world works only because of Israeli software, how are Iranians going to cope without them?

Carrier pigeons, anyone?

My Mideast Punchlines: Waze and means…

Iran has apparently built a “Waze” to navigate the seas.

It claims to have created a network to identify undersea terrain and map the sea for its submarines. Called “Wasa,” the network of underwater wireless sensors was designed and built by Iran’s navy to collect subsurface information, Iran’s Fars News claims.

Iran usually boasts of new military technologies so its claims should be taken with scepticism. However, the article asserts that this network of “science designed underwater wireless sensors” is one of the most innovative in the world. Only advanced countries and superpowers have such systems, Tehran claims.

biffLike the United States, for example. Far be it from me to depth charge their ambitions, but Iran’s navy is just a shadow of America’s Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf. With discretion being the better part of valour, perhaps Iran’s Waze will help its relatively minuscule submarine force avoid the traffic jams of U.S. and allied anti-sub ships in the Gulf.

My Mideast Punchlines: DEET that tweet…

A lawmaker from the Arab-majority Joint List on Friday accused the IDF of an “atrocity” by spraying Palestinians “with an unknown substance,” before acknowledging the video clip of the incident actually shows Palestinian Authority forces disinfecting a West Bank checkpoint.

“Another atrocity [being committed] by the occupation under the cover of the coronavirus — the IDF is spraying Palestinians at the Qalqilya checkpoint with an unknown substance. Everyone agrees the spraying method is not effective in the fight against the virus,” Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman wrote on Twitter.

She added: “The horrors being committed under the cover of the crisis can’t be ignored.”

biffThe only horror committed was Touma-Sliman’s knee-jerk reaction in blaming the Israel army. How Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz could even think of forming a coalition with this type of person is beyond me.

Touma-Sliman later deleted the post and said she had been “misled” about the video. “At least I have the courage and the integrity to admit mistakes. You continue to callously lie even when the truth is clear,” she said. Yes, madam, the truth is clear to us all: you are a terror-supporting anti-Semite. Pure and simple.


My Mideast Punchlines: flying cholent?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday threatened Hamas leaders with “the surprise of their lives” if a spate of attacks from the Gaza Strip didn’t come to an end. Minutes later, yet another rocket was fired from Gaza at Israel’s south.

“I’m telling you as prime minister, I don’t rush to war,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Channel 20 on Tuesday night. “I don’t puff out my chest, bang drums and blow trumpets. But we’re preparing for Hamas the surprise of their lives. I won’t say what it is, but it will be different from anything that came before.”

Whether Israel carries out its “surprise,” he added, “is entirely up to them. If they don’t come to their senses with the rockets and don’t stop the balloons, it’s only a matter of time before we deploy it. Remember what I’m telling you,” he said.

biffMy guess is that having experienced an exceptionally cold and wet winter, the Israelis are planning to send thousands of exploding cholents* into the Gaza Strip. Failing that, we might expect to see targeted assassinations of some high-ranking Hamas leaders

*The overnight Jewish stew, cholent, is typically started on Friday afternoon and allowed to cook overnight to be eaten at noon on the Sabbath. It is a flavorful, comforting slurry of beef short ribs, beans, potatoes, onions, honey and smoked paprika.