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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Once again I will not be blogging for the next two days because of the last of the season's Jewish holidays, Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.

Here are some historic Simchat Torah flags:

From Russia, featuring Theodor Herzl and Max Nordau, co-founders of the World Zionist Organization. It is fascinating that these staunch secularist Zionists were celebrated at Simchat Torah services - apparently the idea that religious Jews were axiomatically anti-Zionist is quite wrong. (Nordau married a Protestant Christian woman.)

Woodcut Simchat Torah flag, late 19th or early 20th century.

King David celebrating Simchat Torah, Jewish Museum, New York.

Chag sameach!

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A tweet from the head of the Arab Joint List Ayman Odeh, translated:
550 Arab students joined the Technion, 60% of them women! The Technion was once virtually closed to us and this year  25% of the male students and 35% of the new female students are Arab!
Dani Dayan first responded by thanking Odeh for pointing out that Israel doesn't discriminate.  Odeh then replied that the Arabs are successful in spite of Israeli discrimination and racism. In other words, all achievements are due to Arabs and all obstacles are due to Jews.

Dayan again responded by pointing out that clearly Israel doesn't practice discrimination, as any statistician would point out that the percentage of Arabs at Technion are way higher than their numbers Israel-wide.

Anet Haskia, a proud Israeli Arab, responded that if Odeh didn't exist he would have to be invented just to perpetuate his racism towards the state.

(h/t Yoel)

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The New York Times Magazine has a skeptical profile of Miri Regev, Israel's right-wing Minister of Culture and Sport, by Ruth Margalit.

The bias is clear, but this episode in the article blows apart the idea that Israel's right is anti-Arab:

One evening, I joined Regev for a Ramadan visit to her Arab supporters at a private home in the northern town of Ma’alot-Tarshiha. It was an airless night. An enlarged print of the Dome of the Rock, the holy site in Jerusalem, hung in the entryway. Every table inside the carpeted house was laden with watermelon wedges, puff pastries and silver carafes of black coffee, even though the fast wouldn’t be broken for another couple of hours. Regev was the guest of honor, and a line of men with their young sons formed to greet her and her aides.

She shook each of their hands, hugging the men she recognized and pinching the boys’ cheeks. “They killed you with this heat, huh?” she said. She turned to one of the men, who wore a white button-down shirt. “You look like a groom today! Come, neshama. Join us.” She glanced at the tables, feigning disbelief. “What’s all this food for if you can’t eat?”

“It’s for you,” the host replied warmly.

The atmosphere was festive, but the gathering itself seemed unlikely, surreal even, considering Regev’s past rebukes of Arab lawmakers — “Betrayers! Terrorists!” she fulminated in 2014 — and the fact that Arab Israelis rarely vote for Likud (the party garnered about 1 percent of the Arab vote in the last election). I was told that the evening’s host was a veteran Likudnik — he referred to Regev as being “like family” — but I wondered how many of the other men present actually voted for her.

Then one of the town’s deputy mayors, a genial lawyer named Ayman Shanati, spoke. “I’m not a man of Likud,” he said. But with Regev, “we are seeing real change and a lot of new projects in the Arab sector.” He praised Regev’s reallocation of funds, which has benefited Arab towns much as it has the peripheria and ultra-Orthodox communities, but complained that his town still didn’t meet certain budget criteria.

Regev nodded. “Write it down,” she told an aide.

...She doesn’t see a disconnect between her radical statements against the Palestinians and her attempt to promote Arab culture or woo Arab Israeli voters, many of whom identify as Palestinian. Arab Israelis want to “raise their children in peace,” she says, while members of the Palestinian leadership “sanctify death.” (Arab municipalities are used to such double speak from government ministers but often decide to swallow the insult in order to maintain working relations.)
Why is it double speak? In the next paragraph we see that it isn't:
She stood up and thanked Shanati. “The cultural revolution that I am leading is to give voice to the Arab sector,” she said at a volume more suitable for a conference hall. “My office is your home. Every problem, every issue.” Yet earlier she ventured a qualifier by way of hyperbole: “Whoever is loyal to the state, we’ll bring him the moon.”
Regev is not being hypocritical - she is being entirely consistent. Arab-Israelis deserve to be treated better and she is working to do so. Arabs - and Jews - who are disloyal do not deserve automatic funding for anti-Israel plays, poetry and films. It isn't a "right" and refusing to fund such art is not censorship.

Similarly, loyal Arabs and Jews whose voices have been stifled by the left-wing Ashkenazic artistic elite should be supported. The state does not have the responsibility to support art that tries to undermine its very foundation, whether it is from the Arab or Jewish sectors.

There is no anti-Arab bias whatsoever, but Margalit is so wedded to the idea that Regev is a racist that she cannot see the distinction that she herself reports.

The only bias here is from the reporter.

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From Ian:

Howard Jacobson: Let’s be clear – antisemitism is a hate apart
To the question posed by the parliamentary committee last week, as to whether Shami Chakrabarti’s soft inquiry into antisemitism in the Labour party was a whitewash for which Corbyn brazenly rewarded her with a peerage, or evidence of a deep-seated reluctance to take the subject seriously, there is unlikely to be a satisfactory answer.
Where people are convinced of their own rectitude – and Corbyn and Chakrabarti belong to the more un-self-questioning wing of British politics – there is no separating what they know from what they don’t want to know.
The Chakrabarti inquiry didn’t fail, it was stillborn. Corbyn has always defended himself against the charge of antisemitism by protesting his freedom from all racisms – an insistence that feels like an evasion and blurs a crucial distinction – and the moment Chakrabarti widened the terms of her inquiry likewise, there was no hope for it.
To assert that antisemitism is unlike other racisms is not to claim a privilege for it. Hating a Jew is no worse than hating anyone else. But while many a prejudice is set off by particular circumstance – the rise in an immigrant population or a locally perceived threat – antisemitism is, as often as not, unprompted, exists outside time and place and doesn’t even require the presence of Jews to explain it. When Marlowe and Shakespeare responded to an appetite for anti-Jewish feeling in Elizabethan England, there had been no Jews in the country for 300 years. Jewishness, for its enemies, is as much an idea as it is anything else.
The part played by Jews in the evolution of Christianity has much to do with this. In the popular imagination, the Jew is the killer of Christ. To a philosopher like Nietzsche, the Jew is culpable not for rejecting Christianity but for inventing it. For cultures unable to make up their minds, whether they are heathen or Christian – remember those demonstrations of Teutonic paganism on the streets of Christian Germany 80 years ago – the Jew fits the bill of villain twice.

Shocked by antisemitism at university
Last night for the first time in my life I felt the genuine threat of antisemitism. The event was a discussion titled “Is criticising Israel antisemitic?” led by Tony Greenstein, the political activist, who was recently suspended from the Labour party. While addressing his suspension he ensured us that there was “absolutely no anti-Semitism in the Labour party”, while also promptly ensuring that we all knew that “Ken Livingstone is a long term friend and I know he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body” - really akin to saying that one can’t be racist if they have a black friend. But unfortunately the problematic nature of the discussion, and the affirmation of antisemitism in Bristol and further through the UK and Europe, was achieved not only through the views of Greenstein himself, but worsened by the booming, loud, obnoxious voices of drunken white men, with no affiliation to Israel personally but whose speech and actions made countering any point impossible.
Ultimately this is not a feminist issue. I went in to the meeting with criticism of the image used on the Facebook group (inserted above), and the antisemitic (NOT anti-Zionist but specifically antisemitic) connotations of equating Israel/Judaism with the power and wealth of America as well as the use of age old rhetoric of the corrupt, capitalist Jew.
I felt bold enough to make my point in front of these people (having got cocky from 11 likes on my comment on the event’s post on Facebook) but ultimately I was so overwhelmed with the threatening voices of those who were so ardently anti-Zionist, that I don’t believe they would have felt held to account by an accusation of antisemitism, and I found it impossible to speak. And in fact the entire status of antisemitism was countered by the claims of Greenstein that “anti-Semitism is a tool by the right to destabilise the left”.
‘’Jews aren’t an ethnicity and modern antisemitism is a myth’’ — What happened when I went to an event by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Bristol (same event as a first article)
Last night in my home of Bristol I went to a an event entitled ‘’Is criticising Israel antisemitic’’ held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, they were hosting Tony Greenstein, an activist who had been suspended from the Labour party for calling people ‘zionist rats’. I was one of the first people there and sat and watched as the room filled up. The turnout was more mixed than I expected, at least half the people there must have been around or over the age of fifty. They set up a table at the back with a selection of pamphlets, one of which claimed that the city of Jerusalem was 51% Christian in 1922 before the Israelis ‘expelled’ them (which is untrue). The vibe felt more like a village hall meeting than the hotbed of young radicalism I expected. Nevertheless, the other half were youngsters like me, it was a decent, pleasantly surprising mix.
The event started with a man wearing a fabric white poppy on his blazer introducing us to the event and to Greenstein, he talked about the turn against Palestine activism. He talked about the zionist agenda, how zionists secretly control the media and have brainwashed us all to support Israel. I hate to admit it, but at this point in time, I felt uncomfortable. I know full well that what he was saying wasn’t antisemetic, it was antizionist, but it was delusional. Neonazis believe the same thing, except they say ‘’Jews’’ instead of zionists, it felt like he had just taken their rhetoric and copypasted away the word ‘Jew’ with ‘zionist’ and with very little effort. I felt like I had just entered the world of fringe politics, maybe I had.
Greenstein was introduced to us as an encyclopedic figure who knew everything there was to know on Israel and Palestine. He slouched back in his chair and told us anecdotes and what he believed was ‘going on’. He talked about how Bristol is apparently home to the largest Palestinian diaspora in the United Kingdom, that and its large activist community therefore meant the city has ‘Palestine’ in its heart. That nobody ‘’gets Palestine’’ as much as Bristol. Bristol should be known as a centre of his sort of activism he said. I wondered what ‘’getting Palestine’’ meant.
His central point was that Zionism, and he didn’t specify how he was defining ‘Zionism’, was a form of antisemetism. All Zionism is, for the uninformed, is the belief that Jews should have a national home where they can practice their right to self-determination. But he believed that it was a form of antisemetism, because it assumes that Jews are an ethnicity, in the same way that antisemitism does.

A cultural Shoah against the Jews
Yasser Arafat understood it very well. There is immense power in the unprecedented invention of the denial of the Temple and of Jerusalem’s Jewish history.
In July 2000, during the Camp David summit between Bill Clinton, Arafat and Ehud Barak, Arafat came out with a novelty: in Jerusalem there is no trace of Temple of the Jews, it is a myth, it never existed.
Arafat knew that the right of the Jews to their land was not linked to the Holocaust, but to history. That is why Arafat intended to deny the relationship between Jews and Zion. This ridiculous version of events became the largest propaganda’s tool of the Palestinian Arab war. It immediately turned into the official version, echoed in all parts of Western societies favorable to the Palestinian Arabs: many newspapers began to speak of the Temple as a myth, denying or shamelessly ignoring the irrefutable archaeological findings.
While the denial was becoming popular, Arab bulldozers were piling and raking away, after having chopped tons of ancient debris in the excavations where the Jewish Temples stood. The global nomenklatura never raised its voice. The ideological denial was turned into something concrete,
Israel has no Iron Dome for anti-Semitism.
something accomplished.
The State of Israel is militarily, economically and demographically strong. Tzahal is a beautiful shield protecting the Jewish people after the Shoah. But there is a soft war which can really destroy Israel. It is the cultural battle.
4 days later, PA still detaining Palestinians for visiting settler leader’s sukkah
The mayor of the West Bank settlement of Efrat called Sunday for the release of four local Palestinians who remained in Palestinian Authority police custody four days after they were arrested for visiting his sukkah.
The four men were arrested Thursday after they joined several dozen other Palestinians living near Efrat in visiting the sukkah, along with about 30 Jewish Israelis, as part of a peace event.
It is a Jewish tradition to host friends and associates in the temporary structure that are used during Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) to recall the booths erected in the desert by the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt.
Mayor Oded Revivi said it is unacceptable the men were targeted for taking part in the event and slammed their reported continued incarceration.
“I call upon the Palestinian Authority to immediately release my Sukkot guests. It is absurd that having coffee with Jews is considered a crime by the Palestinian Authority. Initiatives that seek to foster cooperation and peace between people should be encouraged, not silenced. It’s time the Palestinian Authority asks itself whether it would prefer to fan the flames of conflict instead of working to bring people together,” Revivi said in a statement.
Netanyahu blasts NGO ‘silence’ after PA arrests Palestinians who visited sukkah
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday castigated human rights groups for remaining silent amid reports that several Palestinians who met with Jewish settlers as a holiday goodwill gesture have been placed under arrest by Palestinian police.
The four men were arrested Thursday after they joined several dozen other Palestinians living near Efrat in visiting a sukkah in the settlement, along with about 30 Jewish Israelis, as part of a peace event. Four days later, the four are believed to still be in custody.
Netanyahu, in a Facebook post Sunday, noted that “According to senior PA officials, they will be sentenced and jailed for the crime of ‘normalization with Israel.’
“Where is the outrage of human rights organizations? There is none. To their great shame, they are silent,” he wrote.
But the premier claimed that silence was “neither new nor surprising” and was part of a pattern that ignores Palestinian transgressions while singling out Israel.
The Holocaust: Between dilution and equivalence
THE DOUBLE genocide concept being advanced in Eastern Europe appears slightly less pernicious than that of universalization. Whereas universalization turns every atrocity into a “holocaust” and accuses Jews of being “particularist” or “judeo-centric” for caring about the Shoah, the double genocide view accepts that there was a Holocaust but then wants to add another pillar of victims beside it, not totally dilute the two. However Efraim Zuroff has noted that this amounts to “claiming that Communist crimes were just as bad as those of the Third Reich and in fact constitute genocide, and the glorification of Lithuanians who fought against the Soviets.”
The result is that in countries across Eastern Europe there is an attempt to lionize those like Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist who fought the communists.
But what happens when those local nationalists were also antisemites or when the local narrative is that, yes, the Nazis killed many Jews, but “we” lost many more to the Soviets. For them commemoration of the Jewish victims palls in comparison to their own historic memory.
Double genocide is built on local nationalism that wants the country’s suffering to come first, not Holocaust memory. Universalism is built on disappearing the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and replacing them with everyone. Universalism constitutes a second genocide, aimed at memory and taking away of Jewish rights to memorialize their own people, a right taken away from no other group.
Double genocide risks memorializing antisemites. Which is worse, to memorialize a few antisemites, or to pretend that there was no antisemitism and unique Jewish victims of it? Within a generation we shall see which is truly worse as antisemitism rises among the progressive Western Europeans while it likely will remain the same or be reduced in the East.
Tufts BDS Supporters Plan "Direct Action" Against Pro-Israel Students
Over the past two weeks, the David Horowitz Freedom Center has targeted chapters of the terrorist-funded organization Students for Justice in Palestine on ten campuses. On Tuesday night, posters exposing the links between Students for Justice in Palestine and the anti-Israel terror group Hamas went up around the campus of Tufts University in Boston.
Tufts University hosted the SJP National Conference in 2014 at which students were instructed how and when to take “direct action” against supporters of Israel. Tufts SJP has repeatedly supported anti-Israel terrorism in its published works and statements and holds an annual “Israeli Apartheid” hate week during which the Hamas-inspired BDS movement against Israel is promoted. Tufts SJP also attempted to delegitimize supporters of Israel by labeling the pro-Israel campus group Students Supporting Israel “literally a hate group.”
The Freedom Center’s poster operation distributed posters across the campus which exposed the organization Students for Justice in Palestine as a campus front for Hamas terrorists and the Hamas intermediary American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). AMP was revealed in recent congressional testimony to be funneling terrorist dollars to Students for Justice in Palestine to support the Hamas-sponsored, anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in America.
Ad Wars Escalate in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In response to a wave of anti-Israel advertisements appearing on Bay Area buses, Israel advocacy group StandWithUs recently sponsored a 4 week run of their own ads. The ads were displayed on 20 buses, throughout the city. StandWithUs has countered anti-Israel messaging on Northern California public transit eight times since 2011.
Nothing upsets the forces of darkness as much as when the Jews fight back. This counter messaging upsets the local extremist Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) who have called for a public meeting to pressure the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority to stop accepting these ads.

Time for (another) SJP public tantrum
A quarter million are dead in Syria. The entire region has erupted in chaos. But its October, and its time for the context be damned Students for Justice in Palestine at U.C. Berkeley's "But pay attention to MEEEEEE" very public tantrum.
We can expect the rhetoric of eternal victimhood, incendiary chants, and maybe a die-in or two.
This will be the second year Cheryl Davila is speaking at this event. Cheryl gained notoriety for hijacking the agenda of the Berkeley Human Welfare Commission for nearly a full year to push a divestment initiative, neglecting the poor of Berkeley in the process. Cheryl is now running for Berkeley City council from District 2, and has been looking towards SJP for some quid pro quo.
The people of Berkeley should know better to elect a councilperson beholden to such extremist special interests.
Pro-Israel groups are mobilizing as well, to counter the demonization and inflammatory rhetoric of the group that is commonly dubbed "Students for Just us in Palestine".
This should be interesting.
Isi Leibler: Strength and unity will win
The abysmal failure of most governments to display even a pretense of morality when ‎formulating resolutions on international affairs was again highlighted by the latest ‎outrageous resolution on Jerusalem endorsed by UNESCO.‎
The promotion of this travesty by the Arab states merely highlights their manifestly false narrative ‎denying Jewish continuity with Jerusalem.
But it was the purportedly civilized countries, including most European countries -- many of whom claim to be friends of Israel -- whose ‎abstentions provided an aura of legitimacy to this obscene resolution. Such shameful behavior ‎only serves to re-emphasize that these countries are solely motivated by short-term realpolitik, ‎which induces groveling to the Muslims even if this requires forfeiting morality and blatantly ‎endorsing historical lies.
Every European country should have opposed this deplorable resolution.‎
The U.N. – UNbearably UNbalanced
UNESCO’s recent holier-than-thou decree does nothing to contribute to this peace process. In fact, it only serves to fuel the hatred and incitement against Israel.
This absurd declaration taking out the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall are meaningless words that blow in the wind. The UN, long corrupted from its’ original purpose, has become a political tool in the hands of those obsessed with slandering Israel. It’s high time to let this wacko organization bite the dust – not unlike the League of Nations. Rather than deal with, for example, the situation in Syria that has cost more than 400,000 lives (on the low estimate side), the Palestinian “cause” once again tries desperately to gain center attention on the world stage.
The US, and all freedom-loving, democratic countries, should pull their funding from the UNESCO and the entire UN, which has long abandoned its noble creed of functioning as “a mechanism for governments to find areas of agreement and solve problems together.” When it comes to Israel, the UN continues to blindly stumble along the path of sowing seeds of disagreement, rewriting history, and perpetuating falsehoods.
The only true peace partner for the Palestinian Arabs is actually Israel. It’s not Jordan or Iran or Syria or any of these other countries that would sell them out in a heartbeat for political gain. And it’s certainly not the UN and UNESCO who, for the time being, sell them a pack of lies. Only with Israel will the Palestinian Arabs have opportunities to live in freedom and peace. The UN has turned into a complete farce with UNESCO showing its true creed:
UNaccountable. UNacceptably UNacademic. And now - totally UNnecessary.
UNESCO chief after Temple Mount vote: I'll fight 'distorted visions' of history
The director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has further attempted to distance herself from preliminary approval by the UN body's member states of a resolution that denies Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
Israel harshly condemned the October 13 vote to expunge any Jewish connection to the religion's top holy sites and refer to them only by their Muslim names, leading Education Minister Naftali Bennett to freeze all Israeli cooperation with UNESCO.
While Bokova had previously criticized the draft decision, Bennett, the head of Israel’s National Commission to UNESCO said that her statement against the resolution was not enough, adding that the move only encourage Palestinian terrorism against Israel.
In a letter dated October 18, Bokova responded to Bennett underlining that UNESCO's member states, and not the agency's director-general, had made the decision.
In the correspondence, she recalled a former statement she had issued on the "indivisible" heritage of Jerusalem, noting that "each of [Jerusalem's] communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city."
UNESCO to vote on yet another anti-Israel resolution
After passing a resolution denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO is planning to vote on another similar anti-Israel resolution.
Arab states on Saturday presented a watered down version of a new resolution denying the connection between Judaism and the Temple Mount. A vote on the latest resolution is expected at UNESCO’s Heritage Committee on Wednesday.
The latest proposal was submitted by Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia in the name of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, who are not members of the committee. 21 countries are expected to vote on the resolution and at least 10 of them are Arab countries which act against Israel or do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
The watered down version drops the words "occupying power" in relation to Israel, in an attempt to soften the resolution’s tone and thus make it easier for it to be approved.
In addition, the new version uses the term Western Wall without quotation marks as the original version did.
At the same time, the resolution still includes a denial of the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is mentioned in the resolution as “Al-Aqsa Haram Al-Sharif” and described as place of Muslim worship. The words “Temple Mount” and the fact that the Temple Mount is a holy place for Jews are not mentioned.
The resolution further argues that Israel’s archaeological work in the area is "intentional destruction" and calls on Israel to respect the status quo. The document ignores the Palestinian’s archaeological excavations underneath the Temple Mount.
Miami Herald Columnist: UNESCO Decision is a “Step Against Reconciliation and Peace”
Last week’s UNESCO resolution denying the historical links between Judaism and Jerusalem is one that “denies reality, that erases facts and, most importantly, one that marks a step against reconciliation and peace,” Frida Ghitis wrote in her Miami Herald column Thursday.
In addition to “embolden[ing] extremists,” Ghitis wrote, the resolution “confirms Israelis’ fears that the international community, especially the United Nations, remains committed to an anti-Israel agenda.”
Ghitis criticized a number of European countries for failing “to tap into their courage and integrity” by voting against the resolution, which is “an effort to delegitimize the existence of the world’s only Jewish state.”
“The one-sided, anti-Israel text was written by Palestinians,” Ghitis observed, adding that it was “introduced by seven Arab countries, including Sudan, whose president has been indicted for war crimes for the genocide in Darfur, and Egypt, which has relations with Israel but whose government apparently has not broken with the practice of promoting lies about Israel to bolster popular support.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: Study Links Climate Change With Lack Of Israel-Arab Resolution (satrire)
Gothenburg, October 19 – A team of scientists at the University of Gothenburg have found what they claim constitutes a firm causative connection between the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict and the documented rise in global temperatures over the last 150 years.
Researchers studying the data related to both phenomena write in an article in the upcoming issue of Climate magazine that the steady rise in global average annual temperatures features eerie parallels with the advent of political Zionism and the efforts of the Arab population of the Holy Land to resist that movement.
Lead author Dr. Sheen Nuyakleem described in an interview the myriad links between the ongoing conflict and climate change. “It begins with the temperature changes matching the increasing intensity of the Arab-Israeli conflict, of course,” he explained. “But we also found that if you massage the data just so, each time the pre-Israel Jewish community managed to defend itself, and each time the established state successfully thwarted attempts to wipe it off the map, the pace of temperature increase rose. It’s almost as if this conflict really does lie at the core of every major problem facing civilization.”
That assumption, which governs much of Europe’s and the US’s diplomatic policies, formed the basis of the research. “Science has some axioms, and this one has proved robust in the field of diplomacy, so we figured we’d adopt it as well,” continued Dr. Nuyakleem. “Simplicity is always a goal in the scientific method, so reducing the problem of climate change to a function of Israel’s continued existence and security provides an elegant solution to two messy challenges facing the world today.”
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to visit Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone on Friday to mark the 25th anniversary of renewed diplomatic ties between Moscow and Jerusalem, the Kremlin said.
The two discussed urgent international and regional matters, Moscow said. Russia's involvement in the Middle East has increased as its forces are fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's military in the war-torn country. Russia also set up air defense systems in Syria that essentially defend Hezbollah as well, thus changing the existing regional order with regard to Israel.
Also on Friday, the Russian Embassy in Israel said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is expected to visit Israel on Nov. 10.
Medvedev is expected to hold discussions on ways to bolster existing ties and cooperation between Jerusalem and Moscow in various fields, especially concerning financial and humanitarian issues, the embassy said.
Fatah MP booted from party over perceived overtures to Abbas rival
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday expelled parliamentarian Jihad Tummaleh from his Fatah party, the PA’s official outlet Wafa reported.
Tummaleh won a seat in the Palestinian parliament in 2006 as a regional representative of Ramallah and El Bireh. On the regional list in the primary election, he was second only to the highly popular Marwan Barghouti, who is considered a possible successor to Abbas for the PA presidency, despite his incarceration in Israeli jail on multiple murder and terrorism convictions.
While Fatah has offered no explanation for the expulsion, the move followed a conference organized Saturday by Tummaleh in the al-Amari Refugee Camp, which is located in Ramallah, aimed at “party unity.” The event was perceived in some quarters as an effort to abate tensions with Abbas’s chief political rival Mohammad Dahlan.
The expulsion of Tummaleh was recommended by the “Tajannuh Committee” or Anti-Delinquency Committee, which has been used in the past to weaken Dahlan’s influence.
Newly Captured Footage Shows Hamas in Gaza Test-Firing Long-Range Rockets
Israel’s southern residents, living just minutes from the Gaza border, have become increasingly worried by the sight of rocket experiments conducted by Hamas which can be seen from their home windows.
While the IDF is convinced that Hamas currently has little interest in the renewal of hostilities, and with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman adamant that escalation is currently out of the question, the military also remains certain that the terrorist organization reigning in Gaza is preparing for a future round of violence—a fact which it does virtually nothing to hide.
Indeed, right before the eyes of the residents of Netiv HaAsara, which lies on the northern border with the Gaza Strip, Hamas conducted a exercises on Friday morning involving the use of long-range rockets, each of which left in their tracks plumes of white smoke as they darted across the sky.
One of the moshav’s residents recorded from the window of his home the rockets being launched from the Hamas training facility, located next to al-Attatara, which was built upon the ruins of the Dugit community following Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005.
Gazan who helped Israel gets 20 years in prison
The Gaza military court has sentenced R.A. to twenty years of imprisonment and forced labor after he was convicted of passing information to Israeli "occupiers."
This punishment is in accordance with the section 144 of the 1979 Punishment Law.
The court ruled that the accused first made contact with Israeli intelligence agencies in 2003, when he passed information on terrorist organizations, "military" outposts, offices and weapons factories, as well as members' personal information to the "enemy."
Egyptian general who oversaw destruction of Gaza tunnels assassinated
A top Egyptian officer was gunned down in front of his home north of Cairo just after dawn Saturday in another sign of the increasing conflict between the government and its opponents – both armed and unarmed.
The Lewaa Al-Thawra (Revolution Brigade) claimed responsibility for the assassination of Major Adel Ragaai, head of the Egyptian Ninth Amour Division - the unit charged with destroying the tunnels running between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
“Major Adel Ragaai was killed in front of his house in Obour City (25km. northeast of Cairo) as he was leaving for work,” said army spokesman Brigadier General Mohamed Samir. “Two bullets pierced his head.”
The Brigade made its debut in August with an ambush on a police checkpoint in Sadat City – an attack that killed two and injured five others, including two civilians.
Egyptian air force hammers Sinai jihadists, 70 said killed
The Egyptian Air Force Sunday pounded jihadist groups in the Sinai Peninsula, reportedly killing 70 fighters and injuring another 70, the day after an Egyptian general was shot dead outside his home in the capital Cairo.
In a series of predawn raids, jets targeted the Islamic State-aligned Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group in the village of Bolus between Sheikh Zuwaid and the city of Rafah in northern Sinai, the British Sky News Arabic website reported.
Several SUV vehicles and motorcycles used by the militants were also destroyed.
Security forces told Sky News that Egyptian soldiers also thwarted a terror attack by uncovering four bombs planted at a communications site in the area.
The raids, among the most extensive carried out by the Egyptian military in its ongoing campaign against jihadists in the restive peninsula, followed the gunning down of Brigadier General Adel Ragaei. Ragaei, who commanded an armored division deployed in Sinai, died in a hail of bullets as he left his home in the Obour City suburb, a family member told AFP.
PreOccupiedTerritory: I Urge Palestinian-Americans To Wait Till Nov. 9, Then Vote For The Winner (satire)
We Palestinians have always been challenged with choosing the winning side in any strategic disagreement. That is why I strongly recommend to our brethren who hold American citizenship to be extra cautious during this presidential election, and wait to see who the clear winner is before casting their votes for that candidate. It is the prudent course.
Our trouble with choosing the losing side began back in 1947-48, when we listened to the propaganda and selfish advice of the neighboring Arab governments in getting out of the way for them to send their soldiers in and get rid of the Jews, after which we could return home and resume our lives with no Jewish sovereignty anywhere near us. Of course it didn’t work out that way, and the Jews won. Ben-Gurion even urged our predecessors not to leave, but we chose to side with our fellow Arabs, and continue to suffer as a result. We can’t make such a mistake again. If Palestinian-Americans vote for the losing candidate this time, it will further cement the notion in the American psyche that Palestinians are perpetual losers, and it’s high time we shed that image. Wait until after the results are known on the morning of November 9, and only then go to your polling place to cast your ballot for the winner, be it Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
Once that happens, we can celebrate as a public relations victory the dovetailing of Palestinian interests and those of the American electorate. No longer will there be an apparent alignment only of Israeli and American values. But jumping in to vote too soon, before the results are official, will deprive the Palestinian people of that achievement in appearances, the only kind of achievement we have been able to muster for nearly seven decades now. We need every little one we can get.
'We don't wear kippahs outside'
In the small autonomous Spanish city of Melilla, in northern Morocco, the shrinking Jewish community fears the radicalization of its Muslim neighbors • The city is becoming a magnet for Islamic State group operatives on their way to Europe.
The residents of Melilla renounce the city's popular status as an "enclave" and stress at every opportunity that it is "sovereign Spanish territory in North Africa that has been around for much longer than Morocco." They often tell stories of the local history and see themselves as a community of survivors of the Spanish Inquisition and descendants of Moroccan Jews who sought to move to Israel but became stuck along the way.
One way or another, Melilla boasts healthy coexistence among its residents. Proof of this: As early as 1995, the local tourism office branded the city a melting pot, writing the "M" in its name on all tourist documents and on tiles around the city in Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and Hindi. Four streets in the city are named after Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv Street. Some 85,000 people live in Melilla -- more than 50,000 Muslims, about 30,000 Christians, 600 Jews and several dozen Indians. They all live together in the coastal town of 12.4 square kilometers (about 4.8 square miles).
The Jewish community in Melilla, just like the tolerant Muslims, is trying to broadcast a business-as-usual attitude, though some among them are looking to warn of the problems. Salomon Cohen, 54, a customs trader and the president of the city's Keren Hayesod United Israel Appeal organization, lives between Melilla and Jerusalem. He is a dominant character and impressive, influential man both inside and outside the community. His wife, Reina-Malka, and their daughter Sharon, 16, are now both in Israel learning Hebrew. The couple has two more children, Shmuel, 26, and David, 23. David joined his father at our meeting.
IsraellyCool: The Amazing Story Of The Israeli Embassy In Bangkok Hostage Crisis, Dec 1972
With Thailand mourning the death of their beloved King Bhumibol’s death on Oct 13, and his son Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn preparing to become the next monarch, the Bangkok Post reminds us what happened back in Dec 28, 1972, when then-Prince Vajiralongkorn was about to be appointed crown prince and heir.
In 1972, armed Palestinian “Black September” guerrillas seized the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok, threatened to execute the six Israelis inside and blow up the building. But just as suddenly they surrendered, saying “We love your king” when told that King Bhumibol Adulyadej was appointing his son as sole heir to the throne that very day.

Four Palestinian guerrillas wearing jackets in the sweltering heat had arrived in a taxi at the Israeli Embassy on Soi Langsuan near the British Embassy just before lunch. They climbed “over the wall, using the embassy insignia [placard] as a stepladder”, the embassy’s messenger Anek Bariman said hours later.
The gunmen unveiled assault rifles, threatened to kill people at the gate, and then forced their way into the building by smashing the front door’s glass and unlocking it. Inside the embassy, they seized six hostages: Israel’s ambassador to Cambodia Simon Avimor, first secretary Nitzan Hadas, his wife Ruth, administration attache Pincus Lavie, Lavie’s assistant Danie Beri and Mr Beri’s wife.
A debt of honor
British official Lewis Andrews, a champion of the local Jewish community in the 1930s, has long been forgotten • Israel Hayom brought his grandson together with the deputy foreign minister, who finally expressed Israel's gratitude for Andrews' actions.
Paul Veron visited his grandfather's grave in the Mount Zion Cemetery in Jerusalem for the first time a few weeks ago. Veron's grandfather, Lewis Yelland Andrews, 41, was murdered on Sept. 26, 1937, while on his way to a prayer service at the Anglican Christ Church in Nazareth. He was shot dead by four gunmen.
Australian-born Andrews was the British district commissioner for the Galilee during the British Mandate and a known friend to the local Jewish community. His killers were never brought to justice and remain unknown to this day, although it is believed they were followers of Sheikh Izz ad-Din Abd al-Qassam, for which Hamas' infamous military wing, the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, are named.
Andrews' assistance to the Jewish community stretched far and wide, raising an important question: Why has the memory of a man who was most likely assassinated for his support of the Zionist enterprise faded into oblivion?
During his years in Israel, Andrews transferred tens of thousands of acres of land into Jewish hands, promoting the establishment of communities formed as part of the tower-and-stockade settlement enterprise. Dozens of communities in Israel's northern Hula and Beit She'an valleys and in the central Hefer Valley would probably not exist if not for him.

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Some time ago one our participants at Israel Thrives suggested that my focus on Israel, and the rise of Political Islam, is myopic in terms of the forthcoming US presidential election.

I take such criticisms seriously and even though I might not respond immediately - or at all - it does not mean that I am not chewing on the matter.

This writer proposed that there are plenty of other things to consider, beyond the never-ending Arab-Israel conflict, when determining who to vote for. He is right, of course. Americans are coping with a huge range of life-effecting issues that must be addressed through our politics.

So, why focus on an entirely sectarian issue like the Arab-Israel conflict?

There are a number of reasons.

This first is that the focus of Israel Thrives is what it is. If it were a blog devoted to fishing nobody would complain that it is not discussing duck hunting. This is not to say that murdering perfectly innocent ducks isn't a worthwhile endeavor, delicious as they are, but it simply has nothing to do with fishing other than the fact that both are outdoor sports.

What is more troubling are charges of semi-irrelevant sectarianism, because such charges promote indifference of, and dismissiveness toward, the fundamental issue of Political Islam.


When we dismiss concerns about Jihadism as racist, anti-Muslim, Islamophobic bigotry (as Pamela Geller might put it) we not only stifle the possibility of discussion through a slander that has ruined peoples lives, but call our own ideological credibility into question.

Jews or no Jews, al-Sharia persecutes millions of people throughout the Middle East and Europe and how we react to that persecution speaks volumes toward our credibility in speaking on other issues concerned with human rights.

1) The Abuse of Non-Jews Under Sharia

The Jews of the Middle East are victims of al-Sharia who refuse to be victims of al-Sharia. 

Israel may be The Dhimmi that Got Away, but that doesn't mean that the much larger, hostile, majority-population of the Middle East are not intent on retrieving it.

That is, even as Israel stands strong militarily, technologically, and economically, Israeli-Jewish society lives under a constant threat of Jihadi violence that kills innocent people thereby propelling hatred and fear throughout much of the culture.

Israel, however, has the IDF, but the Christian Copts in Egypt do not.

The Yazidis of Nineveh, Iraq, do not.

Neither do women anywhere in the Arab-Persian-Muslim World who are generally treated - at least, according to contemporary western standards of human decency - as something approaching chattel.

We are talking about hundreds of millions of people, almost all of whom are non-Jewish, who live under medieval systems of jurisprudence derived from Islamic primary sources. We know that in many parts of the Islamic world, such as Saudi Arabia, they are still hacking at body parts as a form of Holy Justice.

In the Quran, Surah 5:33, we read that one such punishment takes the form of chopping off one foot and one hand from opposite sides of the individual's body and then, presumably, leaving that person to simply writhe to death in the sand.

One can only wonder if that particularly evil form of "justice" is still practiced in Riyadh today.

2) The Maintenance of Ideological Credibility

How we respond to the issue of rising Political Islam is, or should be, an expression of our political ideologies.

If we claim to stand for social justice then we have an obligation to stand up for women in the Middle East, Gay people in the Middle East, and all non-Muslim peoples living under al-Sharia. And it must be said that the greatest victims, by far, of the Jihadi trend are Muslims, themselves.

If we fail to speak out definitively against Political Islam then we cannot claim the mantle of social justice or universal human rights and, therefore, any claims that we make along such lines can be airily dismissed, with the wave of a hand, as hypocrisy.

That is, if we claim to stand for women's rights, but cannot bring ourselves to vocally and consistently condemn practices like burying condemned women up to their shoulders in preparation for a proper stoning in Iran, then we have no right to claim to stand for women's rights.

If we claim to stand for GBLTQ rights, but cannot bring ourselves to vocally and consistently condemn the execution of Gay people under al-Sharia, then we have no business claiming to be pro-Gay.

If we claim to stand for secular democratic principles in western lands, but have no problem with dual and, thus, unequal legal systems in European countries, then our claims to stand for secular democratic principles are precarious, at best.

Finally, for those who think that standing for universal human rights is inconsistent with being pro-Israel, then I recommend that one read more deeply into the history of the Jewish people under thirteen centuries of Islamic dominance in the Middle East, prior to World War I.

Thirteen hundred years of second and third-class non-citizenship under the boot of imperial Islam was quite enough for the Jewish people, and all other non-Muslims, living in the Middle East.

One cannot understand the never-ending conflict if one refuses to place it into its larger historical and geographic context.

Martin Gilbert's, In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (2010, Yale University Press) is a good place to start.

Michael Lumish is a blogger at the Israel Thrives blog as well as a regular contributor/blogger at Times of Israel and Jews Down Under.

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Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, claimed on October 21 at a UN meeting, " There is no evidence that terrorist groups take advantage of refugee flows to carry out acts of terrorism." As we show, this is quite untrue.

This video was conceived by Anne Bayefsky of Human Rights Voices, and produced by me. Anne does a stellar job actually watching what the UN is doing and exposing its hypocrisy and lies.

Incidentally, based on the video, there were literally five people in the audience during his speech.

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A few years ago, I bought a leather Etrog box - used during the holiday of Sukkot that ends today- in Hebron.

It looks like this:

The words are a paraphrase from a Midrash written before 500 CE:
אמר ר′ יודן: שלושה מקומות אין אומות העולם יכולות להונות את ישראל ולומר להם גזולים הם בידכם, ואלו הן: מערת המכפלה וקבורתו של יוסף ובית-המקדש
R. Yudin says: In three places the nations of the world cannot taunt Israel and say that they stole them from their hands, and they are: the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the burial place of Joseph and the Holy Temple.
According to UNESCO, the Temple Mount is exclusively Muslim, the Tomb of the Patriarchs is primarily Muslim and Joseph's Tomb has little to do with Judaism.

The Arab world, of course, deny any Jewish connection to any of those sites, as well as for Rachel's Tomb and other Jewish holy sites. While most towns in the region retain their Biblical names, for these three places these sites are in have been renamed "al-Khalil" instead of Hebron, Nablus instead of Shechem, and Al Quds instead of Jerusalem.

The very three places that Jews have always known belong to them are the ones that the world claims to be exclusively Arab and Muslim.

The irony is too bitter for words.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

+972 publishes a call by 200 Israeli academics to release Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour from house arrest:

On October 11, 2015, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was arrested by Israeli police during a night raid on her home in the village Al-Reineh, near Nazareth. On November 2, 2015, an Israeli court indicted her for incitement to violence. At the center of the indictment was a poem Tatour wrote in protest of the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Hadeel al-Shalamon, and members of the Dawabshe family in Duma. The indictment cites the full translation of the song, which was edited by an officer who has no prior experience in translation or poetry. Even according to the translation — which is fully of inaccuracies, most of them giving the poem an extremist tone — there is a call to resist the occupation, but there is no incitement to violence.
Previously, +972 reported about the story:
The main clause of her indictment was based on a poem that she had allegedly posted on YouTube under the title: “Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum” (Resist my people, resist them). Another main clause in the indictment relates to a news item, cited in a post on Tatour’s Facebook page, according to which “The Islamic Jihad movement calls for continuing the Intifada all over the [West] Bank…” The same post calls for a “comprehensive intifada.” 
Their initial post about the arrest likewise didn't actually quote the poem, nor linked to her Facebook page, allowing people to verify the facts for themselves. Instead, +972 claimed that the translation of the poem was incorrect - without saying what the actual translation was.

However, an accurate translation of her poem is available, translated by an Arab poet. I published excerpts in August, but the +972 editors could have found it months beforehand.

And her poem called for ethnically cleansing Jews from the Jewish homeland:

Resist, my people, resist them.In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrowsAnd carried the soul in my palmFor an Arab Palestine.I will not succumb to the “peaceful solution,”Never lower my flagsUntil I evict them from my land.
I cast them aside for a coming time.Resist, my people, resist them.Resist the settler’s robberyAnd follow the caravan of martyrs.
Resist, my people, resist them.Resist, my people, resist them.
Whether she explicitly advocated violence in the words of the poem are debatable. But the the video that she created to publicize the poem includes numerous romantic scenes of Palestinians throwing rocks and setting fires - you know, violence:

It is reasonable to question whether Tatour should be arrested for her poetry advocating ethnic cleansing and her video making it clear that she supports violence. But her supporters who claim that she did neither are doing everything they can to stop people from finding out the truth on their own about what she wrote.

If they are so supportive of Tatour, they should not fear publicizing her words.

Clearly, the +972 editors and Tatour's other defenders at MondoweissSalon, Jewish Voice for Peace and elsewhere want to ensure that their readers only see their own pre-digested version of the truth, and not reality.

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From Ian:

The Incitement Must End
On Sunday October 9 2016, after a busy day with family I sat down to catch up with the events of the day across the world. I’ve always been interested in the world around me and given my job I feel it’s my duty to be as informed as possible about events in Israel and the wider Middle East.
My heart sunk when I read that there had been a terrorist shooting in Jerusalem, reminding me of how I felt when I was last in Israel and heard about the Sarona Market attacks. Since October 2015 a wave of terror has hit Israel, with this infographic from BICOM providing the details of the terrorism Israel has faced.
As highlighted by the infographic many Israelis have been killed and injured, just because they are Israelis. Palestinian terrorists are brought up on a diet of hating Israelis, and in many cases, hating Jews. That motivation led to the murder of two Israelis in Jerusalem on October 9 2016.
We can often become desensitised to terrorist attacks and forget that behind every person murdered is a personal story. Therefore, I’ve written below about those who died in Jerusalem.

Amnesty International now a terrorists' rights organization

Popular Social Media Channel Jumps in on the Worldwide Anti-Semitism Act
Anti-Semitism continues to rage worldwide. YouTube is now joining the vindictive party.
Israel National News reported this week that the popular social media channel, owned by YouTube, has placed 21 videos of nonprofit educational organization "Prager University," run by conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager, on "restricted mode." Among these are three pro-Israel videos relating to the founding of Israel, the IDF and Palestinian refugees.
Restricted mode allows guardians to protect children from objectionable content by filtering out "restricted" videos in Youtube searches. "PragerU" videos are designed to be viewed by all ages.
Israel National News reports that "One of the restricted PragerU Israel-related videos titled 'Why are There Still Palestinian Refugees?' explains that while Jewish refugees from Arab countries were quickly absorbed into Israel, Arab countries have intentionally refrained from absorbing Palestinian refugees so as to continue to use the Palestinians as a political tool."
The second video, titled "The World's Most Moral Army," features retired British general Richard Kemp explaining the uniqueness of the Israeli army in its intense care not to injure innocent civilians on the battlefield.
The third video, titled "Israel's Legal Founding," features world-renowned attorney Alan Dershowitz relating how Israel was founded "step by legal step."

Vox Docs Reinvents History, Legitimizes Bigotry
Vox, the organization that invented a bridge between Gaza and the West Bank, has created a series of videos, or “Vox Docs,” purporting to explain why Jews live in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. While these videos appear very slick and polished on the surface, they are filled with half-truths as well as actual falsehoods, and legitimize bigotry of the same sort that the US fought in the civil rights era.
Throughout the three-part series, filmmaker and narrator Johnny Harris omits important historical facts, leading to a thoroughly inaccurate portrayal of Israel's War of Independence as well as of the Six-Day War. He also unquestioningly accepts the premise that Jews living in the West Bank are an obstacle to Palestinian statehood, as well as that Jews should be barred from certain neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.
Part I: Distorting History
In Part I, titled “The Maps,” Harris purports to provide the history of the region. His version of history, however, starts with 1948. Harris ignores three millennia of Jewish history in the region that informs the way that Jews view the conflict today, including the ancient Jewish Kingdoms of Israel, centuries of Jewish presence in the land that is today Israel and the West Bank, including Judea and Samaria, and centuries in which Jews in the Middle East lived in second-class status under Muslim rule, often subjected to violence. This one-sided account of history leaves viewers with an extremely distorted perspective on the region.
Therefore, when Harris reports that neighboring Arabs states viewed the UN Partition Plan as “European colonialism,” there is no balance to show that for Jews, this was not a colonization but a return to their indigenous land. While later in the “doc” he does refer in the most vague terms to Judea and Samaria as the “place where a huge amount of Jewish history happened,” he still omits the religious significance of places like Hebron. While Harris purports to explain the ideology of the settlers, these omissions demonstrate that he never really understood it at all.
America's foreign policy is turning Iran into a world power
If there will be a surprise and Trump wins - it will also be a victory for the pollsters of the Los Angeles Times, who since the beginning of the race have suggested an alternative method, which also takes into account the chances that those polled will actually go to the ballot box, and they have had Trump leading for several consecutive months.
In Israel as well, the media coverage of the US election race has been mostly emotional. Washed with hatred and loathing for Trump, most of the Israeli journalists covering the election struggle to paint a true picture of America. In the last few days, a number of scholarly articles have been published, detailing the anti-Semitic statements of some of Trump's supporters and coming to the conclusion that he will be the next enemy of the Jewish people. I suggest to these writers that they also take a look at the feeds of Israeli Internet surfers. The filth that the net drudges up here does not smell any better, but it also does not reflect the opinion of the majority.
I am not certain that the last word in these elections has been heard. The battle that is taking place now far from Washington, in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, is liable to motivate ISIS supporters in the US and Europe to act in the coming days, and a big terror attack can have a serious influence on election results.
And in Israel? Almost across the entire political spectrum people are joining with enthusiasm the national hunt after "traitors," and "Israel-haters." We have adopted the agenda and existential concerns of a teenage girl, such as "Who doesn't love us in the world," and "Why doesn't he like us." It saves us from dealing with the annoying question of how do we make our future here better and should we not also go back to the democratic principle of changing the leadership form time to time. On this occasion: Congratulations to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is celebrating his 67th birthday, which is the official retirement age for men in Israel.
In phone call, Netanyahu, Putin reaffirm commitment to mutual ties
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed their commitment to continue developing ties between Russia and Israel on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and amid a surge in Russian military forces in neighboring Syria in recent weeks.
In a phone call Friday, the Kremlin Press Service said the leaders “exchanged congratulations on the occasion of the 25th anniversary [on October 18] of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Russia and Israel and expressed commitment to further development of the multifaceted bilateral cooperation.”
The press service also said Putin “warmly congratulated” Netanyahu on his 67th birthday on Friday.
This was the sixth phone call between the two leaders this year amid Russia’s deepened involvement in the Syrian civil war on behalf of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Netanyahu and Putin also met twice this year, including in June when the Israeli PM made a high profile visit to Russia to discuss regional threats and mutual interests with the Russian leader. In their meetings, the two reviewed the ongoing security coordination between the Russian and the Israeli armies, especially their so-called de-conflicting mechanism, set up to assure the Israel Defense Forces does not strike Russian jets operating in Syrian airspace.
Report: Presence of Russian Aircraft Carrier in Eastern Mediterranean Will Limit IDF’s Ability to Act in Syria and Lebanon
The impending arrival of Russia’s sole aircraft carrier — the Admiral Kuznetsov — off the coast of Syria has the Israeli defense establishment concerned, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Friday.
Israeli defense officials and senior IDF officers told Walla that the Admiral Kuznetsov’s presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea will limit the Israeli military’s ability to act — both openly and covertly — in Syria and Lebanon.
In recent years, Israel has reportedly carried out a number of airstrikes in Syria to prevent to transfer of advanced Iranian weaponry to the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah.
On Friday, the Admiral Kuznetsov was among a group of Russian warships pictured off the coast of Great Britain as they made their way to the eastern Mediterranean, where they are expected to take part in the Russian military’s effort to defeat rebel groups who seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
According to the Walla report, the Admiral Kuznetsov — with a crew of around 2,000 sailors and dozens of fighter jets and helicopters — will reach the Syrian coast within a week.
The report said that the coordination mechanism set up by the Israeli and Russian militaries to avoid unnecessary friction following Russia’s entry into the Syria fray last year has weakened in recent months — as evidenced, for example, by a July incident in which a Russian drone entered Israeli airspace and an IDF attempt to shoot it down failed before it flew back across the border into Syria.
Italian PM says he’ll seek to change EU minds on future UN votes
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi Saturday, thanking him for his criticism of the UNESCO resolution last week that ignored Judaism’s ties to Jerusalem.
Renzi on Friday said the UN motion was “incomprehensible, unacceptable and wrong.”
Italy abstained during the October 13 vote, in line with other EU nations, but Renzi has characterized the vote as a mistake and told RTL radio that he would consider breaking EU unity in future votes of such a nature.
Netanyahu told Renzi that he believed self-respecting nations should not participate in such a “theater of the absurd,” government officials said, adding that the matter was “not a question of politics but of historic facts.”
Renzi for his part repeated to Netanyahu his statement to RTL that denying Judaism’s history in Jerusalem was similar to stating that “the sun emits darkness.”
He told the Israeli premier that he would seek to influence other European nations on such matters in future.
At UN Security Council, Malaysia equates Israelis to Nazis

West Bank, Gaza to be closed off for Simhat Torah holiday
The Israel Defense Forces will close off the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Saturday for the Simhat Torah holiday, which begins Sunday evening. Palestinian will be barred passage into Israel for 48 hours beginning at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
The army said exceptions would be made for medical emergencies and other “humanitarian cases,” dependent upon the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
Simhat Torah, a festival of the Jewish Bible, is celebrated at the tail-end of the week-long Sukkot holiday. A closure on the West Bank and Gaza was similarly imposed at the start of Sukkot.
The checkpoints and crossings are expected to re-open on Monday at 11:59 p.m., dependent upon a “situational assessment,” the army said in a statement.
Ordinarily, tens of thousands of Palestinians pass through the checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank each day. Though Gaza is often considered a sealed area, some residents with special permits are able to enter and exit through the Erez Crossing into Israel.
The IDF previously shut down the West Bank’s checkpoints on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, last week, and on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, earlier this month.
Hamas member killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
A member of the Hamas terror group was killed on Saturday when a tunnel collapsed in the Gaza Strip, reports in Palestinian media said.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA identified the man as Anas Abu Lashin, 22, and said he was a member of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
He was reportedly working in a tunnel in the al-Maghazi area in central Gaza when it caved in.
The Brigades in a statement said Abu Lashin was killed “during preparation” of a tunnel, but did not provide further details.
The Islamist terror movement which controls the coastal enclave has a network of tunnels in the territory, both for smuggling and attack purposes. It was not clear which type of tunnel Abu Lashin was killed in.
The collapse on Saturday is the latest in a series of cave-ins to claim Palestinian lives. Over a dozen Palestinians, most of them reportedly members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have been killed in collapses since the beginning of the year.
On Friday, the Islamic Jihad — another Gaza-based terror group and longtime ally/rival of Hamas — staged a public show of force in the Strip, with its leader praising Iran and criticizing Arab states.
Thousands of supporters, including fighters from the party’s Al-Quds Brigades military wing, took part in the event.
Egyptian court upholds 20-year jail sentence for Morsi
An Egyptian appeals court upheld on Saturday a 20-year sentence for ousted president Mohamed Morsi, the first final ruling in a string of trials for the deposed Islamist leader.
The Court of Cassation also upheld sentences against eight of his codefendants, including seven who received the same prison term and one who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a judicial official said.
Morsi had been convicted in April 2015 of involvement in deadly clashes outside the presidential palace during his year in power.
His supporters and protesters had clashed after he issued a decree that placed his decisions beyond judicial review, sparking anger that culminated in mass protests against him in June and July 2013.
The military deposed him on July 3 that year, and he has faced several trials since.
His lawyers are appealing a death sentence in one of his trials, on charges of participating in prison breaks and violence against policemen during the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
UN: Syrian army used chemical weapons in 2015 village attack
The Syrian army attacked the village of Qmenas with chemical weapons in March 2015, UN experts said in a report released Friday.
But they were unable to determine who was responsible for two other chemical weapons attacks — against Binnish in Idlib province in March 2015 and Kafr Zita in Hama province in April 2014.
The report was presented Friday to the UN Security Council.
The UN-led joint investigative mechanism (JIM) in late August reported that Syrian government forces had carried out at least two chemical attacks in 2014 and 2015 and that Islamic State jihadists had used mustard gas as a weapon.
Of the nine total alleged chemical attacks it is considering in its ongoing probe, the JIM has now attributed three to the Syrian government and one to the Islamic State group.
In its fourth report, investigators concluded that there is now “sufficient information” that the attack on Qmenas “was caused by a Syrian Arab Armed Forces helicopter dropping a device from a high altitude which hit the ground and released the toxic substance that affected the population.”
Investigators say the substance may have been chlorine gas, based on the symptoms the victims displayed.
Palestinian Terrorist-Apologizing Florida State Candidate: 'I Have Never Supported Terrorism.'
Democratic candidate for Florida's 40th state district Dwight Bullard, who likened a Palestinian-Arab terrorist to Nelson Mandela, wrote the following statement in response to weeks of maelstroms highlighting his former tour guide in Jerusalem:
Though Bullard suggests that his opponents "resorted to lies," he did not deny that he toured Jerusalem with Mahmoud Jiddah, a former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who was arrested by the Israelis for planting bombs in the late 1960s. Furthermore, he did not disavow his tweet where he likened Jiddah to Nelson Mandela.
Bullard's campaign received considerable backlash since news broke that he met with Jiddah. President Barack Obama endorsed 13 candidates for Florida's state legislature. Bullard's name did not make the list. Today, his Republican opponent Frank Artiles wrote a post linking Obama's list, suggesting that the President failed to endorse Bullard because he met with a former terrorist.
In Artiles's post, Florida International University's pro-Hillary group said that Bullard should resign.
Florida State University's pro-Hillary group also expressed opposition to Bullard, announcing their support for Artiles on Twitter.
Hillary Promises ‘ISIS Reset’ as President (satire)
Citing the success of her “Russian Reset” as Secretary of State, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has promised to launch an “ISIS Reset” if elected this November.
“While it’s clear that the United States and the Islamic State have gotten off on the wrong foot, it’s about time that we focus on our common interests and work together on key objectives,” Clinton said in a joint press conference with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. “It’s time we hit the ‘reset’ button.”
With that, Clinton brought out a symbolic button, with the word “RESET” written in English. The same word was intended to appear in Arabic on the button; due to a translation error, however, the Arabic text instead read “Death to the infidels.”
Though both Clinton and al-Baghdadi spoke positively at the possibility of improved relations, early indications are less than positive. Within hours of the meeting, ISIS had reportedly shot down a Malaysian airliner and invaded and annexed the Ukrainian Crimea Peninsula.
Senator Roberts, conspiracy theorist, "enjoyed close friendships with Jewish people"
Australia - One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has rejected calls from Jewish leaders that he repudiate the work of an anti-­Semitic ­author he has cited to support his claim that a “cabal” of inter­national bankers is trying to ­create a socialist global government.
The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission and the Australia/Israel And Jewish ­Affairs Council have demanded Senator Roberts dissociate himself from the writings of ­Eustace Mullins, an American anti-Semite who claimed that inter­national banks and the US Federal Reserve were part of a Jewish conspiracy to introduce global socialism.
Senator Roberts has cited Mullins’s 1952 book The Secrets Of The Federal Reserve as a primary source for his claim that international banks are part of a “tight-knit secret group” using climate change to usher in a new world order. The senator wrote widely on the issue in his previous role as project ­director of the climate-sceptic group The Galileo Movement.
Senator Roberts ... said: “I object completely to the stupidity of trying to link me with anti-Semitism,’’ adding that he enjoyed close friendships with Jewish people and had a high regard for the Jewish community.
The chairman of B’nai B’rith, Dvir Abramovich, said he was disappointed that Senator Roberts was defending the work of Mullins, a virulent racist who had called Jews parasites, praised Hitler and described the Federal Reserve as “the high Jewish bank”.
French, Dutch towns commemorate Alfred Dreyfus, Holocaust survivor Jules Schelvis
A French municipality has honored the persecuted Jewish soldier Alfred Dreyfus with a statue and a Dutch town honored the Holocaust survivor and writer Jules Schelvis with a street sign.
Dreyfus, a French army captain who was wrongfully convicted of spying for Germany in 1894, was commemorated earlier this month in his native city of Mulhouse in eastern France. On Oct. 9, the day Dreyfus was born in 1859, one of his grandsons unveiled a statue of him at a local park during a ceremony attended by the mayor, France 3 reported.
Paris, the city where his show trial was held and where he was eventually exonerated in 1906, has no street named after Dreyfus, who was exiled to a French colony in South America for the false charges brought against him.
On Wednesday, the municipality of Amstelveen, south of Amsterdam, where several thousand Jews live, inaugurated a street sign bearing the name of Schelvis, who survived seven Nazi concentration and death camps. He died earlier this year in Amstelveen.
The sign will be installed in 2018 in a neighborhood that is still being constructed, according to the municipality’s official blog.
The University of Amsterdam gave Schelvis an honorary doctorate in 2008 for his research of the Sobibor death camp in Poland, which he survived. His 1993 book “Extermination Camp Sobibor” is considered one of the most detailed documents ever written on the death site, which fewer than 50 people are believed to have escaped and which the Nazis largely obliterated to cover up their atrocities.
Birthright program contributed over $1 billion to Israeli economy, study shows
The Birthright Israel program, which provides free trips to Israel for young Jews across the world, has contributed some $1.1 billion to the economy of the State of Israel, in the 15 years since it begun in 2000 until 2015, according to a recent study conducted by the firm Ernst & Young.
The figures show that the gross contribution was made both directly and indirectly. The direct contribution of Birthright Israel to the country’s economy, which consists of paying for hotels, tourism suppliers, flights and educational activities, amounts to $840 million.
The indirect contribution, consisting of participants’ expenses such as food, beverages, souvenirs, trip extensions and returning trips, amounts to $325 million.
Ernst & Young’s report also stated that Birthright Israel participants make up 12% of the total number of tourists visiting Israel from June to August and December to January. The document also states that while the Israeli tourism sector is often affected by the security situation, Birthright participants growth remains steady, highlighting that most Birthright groups arrive in off season of Israel tourism and therefore balance supply and demand.
In addition, Birthright Israel participants were found to be significant drivers of small businesses in Israel, with 47% of Birthright overnights taking place in peripheral areas in Israel, in locally owned accommodations, compared to only 28% of overnights for the overall incoming tourism.
J’lem, TLV among world’s top 40 cities, travel readers say
Readers of the luxury magazine Condé Nast Traveler have a thing for Israel.
They voted both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv among the 40 “best cities in the world,” in the magazine’s 2016 survey of destinations outside the US, published Monday.
Jerusalem came in at number 28 and was praised for its “cutting-edge art scene” and growing restaurant scene.
The magazine elaborates: “Long a place of religious pilgrimage for Christians, Jews and Muslims, Jerusalem is now drawing a different sort of pilgrim: the global traveler. In addition to its significant sacred and religious sights, the city draws visitors with its cutting-edge art scene and a growing number of notable restaurants. Head to the Israel Museum for an exploration of the country’s culture, and stop for a bite at Machneyuda for authentic Mediterranean cuisine.”
Condé Nast Traveler readers were even more enamored with Tel Aviv, which the magazine called “one of the world’s most vibrant, diverse cities” and which clocked in at number 17:
1,500 year-old Ten Commandments tablet heads to auction in Texas
A stone tablet thought to be about 1,500 years old with a worn-down chiseled inscription of the Ten Commandments will be sold next month at auction, with a stipulation that the buyer must put it on public display, an auction house said on Friday.
The two-foot (61 cm) square slab of white marble weighs about 200 pounds (90 kgs) and is believed to be the oldest existing stone inscription of the commandments, Dallas-Based Heritage Auctions said. Opening bid is $250,000 for the stone, which the current owner likes to point out is not the original.
The tablet is inscribed in Samaritan script with the principles which are fundamental to Judaism and Christianity. It was probably chiseled during the late Roman or Byzantine era, between 300 and 500 A.D., and marked the entrance of an ancient synagogue that was likely destroyed by the Romans, Heritage said in a statement.
It was discovered in 1913 during an excavation for a railroad line in Israel, said Rabbi Shaul Deutsch, founder of the Living Torah Museum, in Brooklyn, New York, which obtained the tablet in 2005.
An Arab man, possibly a construction worker, acquired it and set it in his courtyard, where it remained for three decades, Deutsch said.

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