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Today’s Top Stories
1. French court fines boycott activists for discrimination.
A French court imposed a $1,300 fine on members of an anti-Israel group who called on supermarket shoppers to boycott Israeli products.
The Court of Appeals of Colmar near Strasbourg fined each of the group’s 12 members individually on Wednesday for their participation in a pro-boycott activity in 2009-2010, which the court qualified as “provocation to discrimination.” The court also gave the activists a suspended jail sentence, according to a report by the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.
2. Shadow war between Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia comes to light.
Senior Hezbollah official Hassan al-Laqis was killed just 30 minutes after group leader Hassan Nasrallah pointed the finger at Saudi Arabia for violence in Lebanon.
Nasrallah rarely mentions Saudi Arabia by name, only referring to the monarchy in vague terms in order to maintain plausible deniability. But that all changed on Tuesday, when he accused Saudi agents of being behind the suicide-bomb attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut last month that claimed 23 lives. In doing so he has openly declared a war that has long been fought in the shadows, first in Lebanon where Hizballah-allied parties are at a political impasse with the Saudi-backed Future Movement of Saad Hariri, and now in Syria, where Hizballah, with Iranian assistance, is fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad against Saudi-backed rebels.
For once, Lebanese residents aren’t so quick to blame Israel for the assassination of a senior Hezbollah leader, according to the Washington Post.
“No one believes it was Israel,” said a Hezbollah supporter who lives in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut. The movement is accusing Israel “because it wants to avoid Sunni-Shiite discord,” he said.
3. Jerusalem terror victims awarded $9 million from Iran in a federal US court.
The ruling stems from a 1997 double suicide bombing carried out by Hamas, which received funds from Iran.
4. Bedouin Issue Prompts More Hate in the Irish Times – More hateful rhetoric and manipulation, this time concerning plans for Negev Bedouin.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• State Department said it plans to start posting messages on websites used by Islamists to recruit English-speakers.
The move comes in the wake of reports showing that dozens of Americans have joined the fight against Assad’s regime in Syria.
“We need to be ready to blunt their appeal,” said Alberto M. Fernandez, a former American ambassador to Equatorial Guinea who is the coordinator of the State Department office, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.
The online messaging aims to create a competing narrative that strikes an emotional chord with potential militants weighing whether to join a violent extremist group. One online image, for instance, shows photographs of three American men who traveled to Somalia and died there, including Omar Hammami, a young man from Alabama who became an infamous Islamist militant. The accompanying message reads, “They came for jihad but were murdered by Al Shabab.”
• Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat appeared at a diplomatic function this week and urged greater pressure on Israel to agree to Palestinian terms in negotiations. He also noted that Israel and the Palestinians were engaged in a battle of narratives.
Mr. Erekat told the diplomats that the Palestinians could never accede to Israel’s demand that they recognize it as the nation-state of the Jewish people. “I cannot change my narrative,” he said. “The essence of peace is not to convert each other’s stories.”
• A German soccer team has cancelled an advertising contract with a Saudi airline because the airline refuses to sell tickets to Israeli citizens.
• Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui takes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to task for drawing closer to Israel.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.