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Resources updated between Monday, December 18, 2017 and Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 22, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (File photo)

Following in U.S.' Footsteps, Israel Announces Exit From UNESCO Article

The U.N. General Assembly

Nikki Haley Confronts the U.N.'s 'Jackals' Article

President Trump (File photo)

Trump puts his U.N. money where his mouth is Article

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, December 21, 2017

UN-acceptable madness as United Nations attacks America over Jerusalem Article

December 21, 2017

President Trump at the U.N.

For decades, the United Nations has spit in the face of the United States. The demonization of the Jewish state – modern antisemitism – has been one of many UN policy priorities totally antithetical to American values and interests.

The General Assembly vote on December 21 condemning President Donald Trump's implementation of American law recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ought to be the last time America takes it lying down.

Let's be clear about how we got here. Thursday's meeting was the seventeenth time the UN General Assembly has convened the so-called "tenth" emergency special session on Israel since 1997. That's because the "tenth" session is effectively permanent. At the end of the meeting, the President of the General Assembly stressed that the session was merely "adjourned."

What such UN-eze means for real people is this: There has never been an emergency special session of the General Assembly on anything but Israel-bashing in twenty years. 500,000-plus dead and seven million displaced in Syria over seven years – and not one emergency special session. Neither a million dead in Rwanda, nor two million dead over two decades in Sudan, ever prompted a single emergency special session.

The issue Thursday was not about Jerusalem. It was about Jew-hatred. The resolution is the General Assembly's twenty-first resolution in 2017 slamming Israel for violating "rights" and "law."  There was one resolution on North Korea. One on Iran. And one on the United States – criticizing U.S. Cuba policy. Altogether, there were nine resolutions critical of human rights records in specific states in the rest of the world combined.

The game is Jerusalem and 1967 borders. But the endgame is the 1948 borders and the legitimacy of a Jewish state.

The issue today was also not simply about President Trump. The State Department produces an annual report computing "coincidence of voting" in the General Assembly – or how often other countries vote the same way as the United States. In 2016, counting all the final draft resolutions of the full plenary of the General Assembly – that were adopted by a vote and on which the U.S. voted yes or no – "coincidence of voting" with the United States was a mere 37 percent.

U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley cut to the chase: dollars and cents. On today's "attack," she pointed out to the General Assembly that the United States is "asked to pay more than anyone else" for "the 'privilege' of being disrespected."

But she and the President went further. They've promised that this time the United States will not be cowering in submission while the UN majority chants "UN multilateralism" because back home these states are too busy unilaterally oppressing their own people.

Speaking in advance of the vote at a Cabinet meeting, President Trump said: "We're not going to be taken advantage of any longer." And Haley spelled it out: "The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world's largest contribution to the United Nations."

Today's vote – 128 for, 9 against, 35 abstentions, and 21 sitting on their hands - means a few more "no-shows" got the administration's memo that freedom isn't free.

But the numbers tell the UN story: whatever the organization was meant to be in the 20th century, in the 21st century American taxpayers are paying for an institution owned and operated by anti-American non-democracies.

There is no time like the present to put an end to this travesty.

It so happens that today and tomorrow the United States will be asked to make the world's largest contribution to the United Nations. The General Assembly budget committee is meeting today to take a decision on funding the UN Human Rights Council – a "human rights" body composed of the likes of China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Funding will include paying for a UN blacklist of American companies doing business with Israel, along with a whole host of "trash America first" programs.

The Trump administration should vote against funding the Human Rights Council at the committee level. When the resolution passes anyway – and circles back around, bundled together with all the other anti-American and anti-Israel goings-on from across the General Assembly –  the Trump administration should vote against the entire UN 2018-2019 biennium budget.

This move has clear precedent. On December 22, 2007, the Bush administration voted against the whole 2008–2009 UN budget after the General Assembly decided to pay for yet another antisemitic hatefest modeled on the infamous Durban racism conference of 2001.

Here's a roadmap after the vote: Place a temporary hold on U.S. funding for the United Nations except in the case of urgent humanitarian relief. Set up a committee to review all U.S. UN contributions – now approximately 10 billion a year from all government sources – and decide what truly fits American values and interests. Move commitments from the "regular" budget category to "voluntary" contributions, where we can keep a much closer eye on accountability.

And last, but not least, move the embassy to Jerusalem tomorrow by changing a sign on a building in Jerusalem that the United States already owns.

The time for following through on promises, Mr. President, was never more ripe.

Outrageous U.N. Vote on Jerusalem an Opportunity to Stop Paying for the "Privilege" of Being "Disrespected" Article

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon, December 21, 2017

Israeli Ambassador Danon: U.N. Resolution on Jerusalem will 'end up in the trash bin of history' Article

The vote on the resolution, December 21, 2017

U.N. General Assembly resolution, "Status of Jerusalem" Development

Member of Knesset Glick (left), Major Adraee

Hamas terror cell planned to kidnap Knesset Member, IDF Arabic spokesman Document

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, September 22, 2016

Netanyahu spurns U.N. as 'house of lies' ahead of Jerusalem vote Article

December 20, 2017

A Venezuelan protester being detained.

The young men had already been tortured at an army base when soldiers piled them into two jeeps and transported them to a wooded area just outside the Venezuelan capital.

Stumbling in the dark, with T-shirts pulled over their faces and hands tied behind their backs, they were steered to an open pit. Soldiers then used machetes to deliver blow after blow to the base of their necks. Most suffered gaping wounds that killed them before they hit the ground.

Others, bleeding profusely but still alive, crumpled into the shallow grave as their killers piled dirt over their bodies to hide the crime.

"We think they were alive a good while as they died from asphyxia," said Zair Mundaray, a veteran prosecutor who led the exhumation and investigation that pieced together how the killings unfolded. "It had to be a terrible thing."

For Mr. Mundaray and his team of investigators, the massacre in this area east of Caracas in October 2016 was the most bloodthirsty of killings by security forces in a country riven by unspeakable violence.

Prosecutors, criminologists and human-rights groups say it was only one of many recurring and escalating lethal attacks carried out by police or soldiers.

The full scope of the alleged atrocities is beginning to surface publicly now. Luisa Ortega, a former Socialist Party stalwart who was attorney general until fleeing to neighboring Colombia in August, is releasing data on the killings, as are independent human-rights groups and Venezuelan journalists.

Her office recorded the slayings of 8,292 people by the police, the National Guard, the army and Venezuela's version of the FBI, from 2015 through the first six months of this year, she said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. By her account, the operations target poor barrios that have traditionally formed the bedrock of support for Chavismo, the radical leftist movement in power since 1999 that is named after its late founder, Hugo Chávez. She and other human-rights activists criticize them as misguided and heavy-handed attempts to confront the crime running rampant in those neighborhoods.

"It's a systematic policy against a social sector," said Ms. Ortega. She said the police and armed forces enter poor barrios heavily armed in large numbers, "leveling everything that is in their way."

The government of President Nicolás Maduro says it respects human rights but must respond with force to battle a soaring crime wave he and his ministers say was hatched from abroad to destabilize the country. Whipsawed by gangs and cocaine, Venezuela has seen homicides spiral from 25 per 100,000 people in the first year of the Chávez government to 70 per 100,000 in 2016. That is the second-highest in the world outside El Salvador, according to data collected by the attorney general's office and criminologists.

"We can't let our guard down," Mr. Maduro said in one speech extolling the operations.

Calls and emails to Ms. Ortega's successor in the attorney general's office, Tarek William Saab, as well as to the president's office and the police, army, National Guard and other agencies weren't returned.

By Ms. Ortega's count, Venezuelan security services claimed roughly the same number of civilian lives in the year ended June 30 as did Rodrigo Duterte's controversial antidrug campaign in the Philippines, a country three times Venezuela's size.

Forensic evidence from shootings and a chorus of complaints from the poorest barrios indicates the vast majority weren't acts of self-defense by security forces.

An independent Caracas human-rights group, Families of Victims Committee, or Cofavic, tallied 6,385 extrajudicial executions from 2012 through the first three months of this year, what it calls social cleansing operations by state forces in which all the deaths were legally unwarranted, the group says.

Fired by Mr. Maduro, Ms. Ortega fled Venezuela in a speedboat to avoid arrest before arriving in Colombia. She recently filed a 495-page report on rights abuses at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, asserting that "the civilian population is victim of these criminal attacks." A copy of the report was reviewed by the Journal.

She now operates a parallel prosecutor's office, staffed by Mr. Mundaray and other loyal prosecutors exiled from Venezuela, on a leafy street in the Colombian capital. Working with evidence and documents smuggled out of Venezuela, prosecutors say they are advancing on cases of alleged rights abuses and corruption by Ms. Ortega's former comrades.

Over the past year, Venezuela has entered a severe economic downturn. The output of oil, its lifeblood, has declined for 13 months, skyrocketing inflation has given way to hyperinflation, the currency is virtually worthless and millions struggle to feed themselves. In this context, an increasingly authoritarian regime has resorted to tactics long used in dysfunctional countries to generate public support: military-style assaults on poor districts and a growing body count of people officials assert were criminals.

"State policy is not to catch the criminal," said Mr. Mundaray. "Because there's police corruption and no control of the jails or the courts, then they opt to kill them."

Venezuela escalated its lethal use of force in 2015, when it launched a new strategy called the Operation to Liberate and Protect the People, or OLP. The stated goal, using various police and military units at once to flood neighborhoods, was to defend citizens from foreign criminals and gunmen, though the government never offered evidence of such a threat.

"This is the concept: Liberate the people, protect the people," Mr. Maduro said in a speech that year.

The OLP strikes were one of many loose strategies criminologists say were employed by the state. What they had in common was the high body count.

To blame the slayings on "resistance against authorities," the police alter crime scenes and incidence reports to make it appear as if officers were in danger, say investigators on Ortega's team, criminologists and relatives of the dead.

Mr. Mundaray says he has personally examined bodies and repeatedly seen direct, clean shots to the heart and upper chest at straight angles, which he says clash with reports describing wild gunfights.

"It's always a shot to the chest, perpendicular, in and out, upper torso," he said. "That doesn't happen in confrontations. Statistically, that doesn't happen."

Elibeth Pulido said that's exactly what happened to her son, a 27-year-old electrician named Jose Daniel Bruzual. On Aug. 22, a swarm of officers who said they were searching for kidnappers stormed into her home, according to people in the neighborhood.

Two witnesses told the Journal they heard Mr. Bruzual yelling repeatedly, "Call my mom, they want to kill me!"

The victim suffered one shot to the upper chest, a death certificate shows. Mr. Bruzual's body was rolled in a bed sheet and carried out of the house. Bullets pockmarked walls inside and outside Ms. Pulido's small home, pointing to a shootout. The police said a gun was recovered. Ms Pulido said it was planted, and that her son wasn't a criminal.

The targets of the crackdown are often in hotbeds of government support, like the 23 of January neighborhood, which is near the presidential palace and was raided in October 2016.

Rossinis del Valle, a 40-year-old mother of six, said officers barged through the fence of her home and front door, hauling out her husband, her brother and a friend with their T-shirts over their heads. Officers shot and killed all three, she and other relatives said.

"All these cases are the same-it's the same modus operandi-and they don't care if they have a criminal record or not," said Ms. del Valle, who said her relatives weren't involved in criminal activities. "They don't kill people in rich neighborhoods. They kill people in barrios."

Not far from her home, 25-year-old Yanderson Granados was picked up in the same sweep, according to his family and police reports. A well-known community leader was a witness, describing in an interview how security forces dressed in black led Mr. Granados into an alley between two buildings. Shots were fired, and his lifeless body was then carried out.

"Everyone here knows," said the witness.

As in other cases reviewed by the Journal, the slayings in the 23 of January neighborhood had similarities with other operations by security forces. The targets were shot at close range and in direct angles in the chest or abdomen, the Journal review showed. Witnesses describe security forces clad in skull masks. Bullet-holes peppered walls and buildings.

Those killed in the 23 of January operation were discovered by their families in a public hospital, their clothes discarded and their bodies naked. Human-rights investigators say stripping bodies of clothing is a common way to obscure the fact that a gun was fired at close range.

"When there's a gunfight, you have your body here, the gun there, the shell casings there," said Yanderson's father, Asdrubal Granados, who has collected police reports and made complaints to myriad agencies about his son's death. "No one is supposed to touch it" until investigators arrive. Instead, he says, his son was taken to the hospital morgue and "tossed there like a dog."

In an address on the day of those killings, Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol announced that 19 people had been killed in confrontations with security forces in what he called a "new phase" of operations launched in 23 of January and other districts.

"We are going to continue the necessary activities to guarantee peace," he said. "Our victory is and will be the peace."

Policemen who have participated in the operations say only an iron hand can bring control to unruly barrios. "For them, we're a trophy-to kill a policeman is to get a trophy," said one officer.

Sitting in a hotel restaurant in Caracas before a plateful of eggs, the policeman, a veteran of Caracas's meanest streets, said to surprise criminals the police plan to strike operations swiftly, at 4 a.m., when those being targeted are still asleep. "Imagine the danger," he said. "We can't wait for an arrest warrant."

He resented the concerns rights groups show about the killings of criminals in the barrios. "They worry about their rights and not ours, when we are the ones who get killed," he said.

The number of police officers slain is high for a country of Venezuela's size, with at least 1,700 officers killed from 2012 through 2016, according to data compiled by Keymer Ávila, a criminologist who studies civilian killings by police and the killing of officers. In the U.S., which has ten times Venezuela's population, 62 officers were shot dead in 2016, the FBI said, with another four on-duty officers killed.

Mr. Ávila and other leading criminologists here argue the circumstances related to the deaths of many police officers suggest that the security forces are engaged in criminal activity themselves, not that they are under siege.

Mr. Ávila's 2016 study of police slayings in Caracas showed that seven of 10 policemen killed were off-duty. He found more than half were related to some sort of criminal activity on the part of the officer. Mr. Ávila also found that 31% of the killings were carried out by other officers. Only 7.1% were clearly killed in the line of duty, he found.

With nowhere else to go to complain, hundreds of families of those killed by security forces for months flooded the offices of opposition congresswoman Delsa Solórzano. She headed a special committee that held hearings in which people from the barrios spoke about what had happened to their loved ones.

"Everyone started to come," said Ms. Solórzano, whose office collects police reports, death certificates and other official documentation of lethal government operations. "Sadly, these things don't surprise us," said the congresswoman.

The most notorious case in Venezuela, first reported in detail by a team of reporters from the Caracas news website Runrunes, involved the deaths of 13 young men here in Barlovento, 10 of whom were killed with machetes and buried in a mass grave. Another two were shot, one was tortured to death, and five remain missing.

It began when security forces believed there was "a growing conspiracy against the Bolivarian government," according to an army document viewed by the Journal. Military authorities believed "an internal subversion" was leading to drug trafficking, kidnappings, robbery and extortion, according to the document.

"The final desired result is that the groups that generate violence be neutralized as fast as possible," said the document, which is marked secret and was written before the operation.

Carmen Cordero's son, Eliezer Ramirez, 22, was at home in Barlovento on leave from the merchant marine when he was detained in army sweeps on Oct. 16 of last year along with dozens of others. Prosecutors who later investigated the case and two of the men detained told the Journal the entire group was taken to an army base, where they were beaten with helmets and fists. Soldiers demanded to know about a local gangster.

"We asked for water," one young man said, "and they put a gun in my mouth."

Another man who was detained said in an interview with the Journal that at night "you could hear people scream."

Only after one of the soldiers was interrogated and told investigators what had transpired was the crime uncovered; several soldiers have been charged and are awaiting trial.

"They tried to say they killed a gang, when they were good kids who were clean," said Ms. Cordero. A maid in Caracas, Ms. Cordero now spends her free time making sure the grave where her son is buried is well-kept and asking herself how this tragedy could befall her family.

"I always say the government has a lot to do with this-they didn't catch a single criminal," she said. "What we ask ourselves is, 'Why? Why would they do this?'"

Venezuela's Brutal Crime Crackdown: Executions, Machetes and 8,292 Dead Document

President Trump at a cabinet meeting on December 20, 2017

"US President Donald Trump on Wednesday cautioned he could slash funding to countries that support a UN General Assembly resolution on Thursday that seeks to annul the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

'They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care,' Trump said at the White House, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, Nikki Haley, Washington's UN envoy, warned that she would report back to Trump with the names of those countries who supported a draft resolution rejecting the US recognition.

'The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us," she wrote to UN envoys. 'We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.'

The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency session on Thursday to vote on the proposed measure, after the US vetoed a similar resolution for the Security Council..."

Trump threatens to slash aid to countries backing U.N. Jerusalem vote Article

The Twitter post by Ambassador Haley

Haley warns U.S. 'taking names' of U.N. opponents on Jerusalem move Article

December 19, 2017

The vote totals on the resolution, November 20, 2017

U.N. General Assembly resolution, "The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" Development

An anti-American rally in Karachi, Pakistan, December 17, 2017

Israel Envoys Lobby for Votes Before U.N. General Assembly Vote on Trump's Jerusalem Move Article

December 18, 2017

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon (File photo)

The United States vetoed an Egyptian-sponsored draft Security Council resolution on Jerusalem on December 18, 2017. In his remarks following the vote, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon stated that the United Nations could not sever the historic connection of Jews to Jerusalem.

In his words:

"Today, the United Nations has taken another step backwards. Another step away from advocating for truth and justice.

Almost exactly one year ago, in this very same room, this body adopted the shameful resolution 2334. It was a resolution that had the audacity to try to designate Israel's presence at the Western Wall, at Judaism's holiest site in Jerusalem, as a flagrant violation of international law.

Those words pierced the hearts of Jews everywhere. They mocked the generations of Jews who prayed toward Jerusalem for thousands of years. They belittled the ancient declaration of the Jewish people that states, 'next year in Jerusalem.'

Yet here we are again. We still find ourselves fighting the same battle for truth and morality.

Those who voted for today's resolution have only reaffirmed the UN's decades-long double standard when it comes to Israel. They are guilty of blatant hypocrisy.

Every other country in the world has the right to designate its capital city.

But when it comes to Israel, somehow this most basic national right is questioned and condemned.

We thank the United States for staying loyal to the truth and vetoing this absurd resolution.

President Trump, Vice President Pence, Ambassador Haley, and the entire administration proved that the United States does not back down from what's right. They continue to advocate for real dialogue, and a hope for peace in our region...

Let me be clear. We will continue to stand strong. When it comes to Jerusalem, we do not back down.

3000 years ago, King David declared the city of Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish people. Jerusalem has been Israel's capital for almost 70 years. Our nation has never given up when faced with adversary. We will not allow others, including the United Nations, to determine our fate, especially when it comes to Jerusalem.

Not then, and not now.

This week, Jews all over the world are celebrating the holiday of Hanukah. We welcome the good wishes sent from so many nations, many of whom are represented at this table today. But it seems that some of those who wish us well have forgotten exactly why we celebrate Hannukah.

Hannukah is not about gifts. It is not about food. Hannukah is about the liberation of Jerusalem.

In the year 167 B.C.E., a Hellenist King attempted to outlaw Jewish practice and desecrate our temple in Jerusalem. But he failed. A small group of brave fighters – the Maccabees, we call them in Hebrew – drove out the Hellenists and reclaimed Jerusalem.

That is what we are celebrating. That is why we light the candles. We are honoring our brave ancestors who reinstated Jewish sovereignty, more than 2000 years ago, over our capital, Jerusalem.

History did not always turn out that way for our people. Just 100 years after the miracle of Hanukah, our Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The Jewish people were exiled from Jerusalem.

But the connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people was never broken. It will never be broken – not by the Romans, not by the Babylonians, not by the Ottoman Turks, not by the British Empire, and not by the United Nations.

Today, even as our adversaries are, once again, seeking to delegitimize our presence in Jerusalem, the Jewish people will prevail, as we always have...

Last year, at this Council, you voted on resolution 2334. I held up a bible and reminded you of thousands of years of Jewish history and presence in Jerusalem.

This year, with another resolution attempting to deny truth, we will fight back once more!

Members of this Council can vote again and again – hundreds and hundreds more times to denounce our presence in Jerusalem.

But you will never succeed in changing the bible. You cannot rewrite history.

Not long ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, a wise Jewish leader, called the UN a house of darkness and lies.

But he also noted that with just one small candle of truth, one could turn that darkness into light.

We will continue to light that candle of truth..."

Israeli Ambassador Danon to U.N. Security Council: Israel's connection to Jerusalem was never broken by the Romans, Babylonians, Ottomans, British, and NOT by the U.N.! Article

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley vetoing the resolution, December 18, 2017

U.S. vetoes Security Council resolution on Jerusalem, defends U.S. sovereign right to decide where to place embassy Article

Damage from the rocket

Palestinians fire two rockets from Gaza at Israel Document