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Thursday, April 30, 2015

From Ian:

Israel Does Not Owe Its Existence to the United Nations
Contrary to what many believe, the UN 1947 partition plan did not set the legal groundwork for the creation of the state of Israel. Rather, Eugene Kontorovich explains, Israel was created “despite the UN.” Kontorovich also discusses the potential impact of future UN resolutions. (Interview by Yishai Fleisher; audio, 25 minutes).
UN announces “review” of bookstore after protest over books targeting Jews and Israel
The head of the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva has initiated a review of its concession arrangement with the bookstore operating next to the Human Rights Council in response to allegations over book displays that deliberately target Jews and Israel.
The world body announced the action in response to a March 26th protest by UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights monitoring group in Geneva, over the bookstore’s display of a series of books such as “How I Stopped Being a Jew,” which accuses the Jewish religion of being “genocidal.” The controversy was reported in a major Israeli newspaper article.
“We welcome this prompt action by the United Nations, which is founded on the principles of equality and tolerance,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.
“At a time when Jews across Europe are being targeted by violent attacks and incitement, it is deeply distressing that the UN Headquarters in Europe would promote books on ‘how to stop being a Jew.’ It’s impossible to miss that no other books in the shop target or even criticize any other religious or ethnic group,” he added.
The Hallelu Foundation (with Hebrew subs)

Jimmy Carter cancels Gaza Strip visit
A delegation led by former US President Jimmy Carter said it has called off a planned visit to the Gaza Strip.
Carter had planned to make the visit on Thursday in an attempt to draw attention to the humanitarian situation in the war-battered territory. The trip included planned meetings with Hamas, the Islamic terror group that controls Gaza.
But late Wednesday, the Elders, the group sponsoring the visit, expressed regret that it would not take place. It gave no explanation.
“[The Elders] remain concerned at the slow pace of reconstruction and the continued closure of Gaza, and will work with the international community to improve conditions for its people,” a spokesperson for the group stated.
The spokesperson also expressed the group’s commitment towards Palestinian reconciliation and reaffirming “their belief in a just and viable two-state solution for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Fareed Zakaria and Haim Saban Spar Over Views on Israel
Fareed Zakaria and media mogul Haim Saban butted heads over Israel at an event on Monday night, after Saban said Zakaria has an anti-Israel point of view.
“Your point of view is so anti-Israel, I’m banging my head against the wall every time I watch you,” said Saban, who is Jewish and grew up in Israel.
“Your program is very, very unbalanced,” he said according to comments published in The Hollywood Reporter.
Saban offered to personally educate Zakaria on what he said was the truth regarding Israel: “I think you need to go through some change — I need to convert you.”
Responding to Saban’s accusation, Zakaria described the current political situation in Israel as a “creeping cancer that has grown larger and larger and larger.”
Scott Walker planning to keep press away during Israel trip
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will visit Israel this May, but will do so without press coverage, according to a report Wednesday.
AshLee Strong, a spokesperson for Walker’s political action committee, Our American Revival, told Buzzfeed last week that Walker’s visit to Israel will be aimed at getting the possible Republican presidential contender up to speed on the country.
“He is interested in hearing first-hand Israel’s concerns about the future of our alliance and identifying ways to restore the ruptured bonds between our two countries,” Strong said.
“He is very concerned about the rise of Iran, the spread of radical Islamic terrorism, and the turmoil in Syria and Iraq, and is interested in understanding the views of the Israelis on how we confront these shared challenges,” she added.
The trip to Israel is seen as key for Walker to burnish his foreign policy credentials ahead of an expected bid to run for the Republican nomination for the White House.
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman is no Theodor Herzl
Argentine Foreign Minister,Hector Timerman, has demonstrably and “irrevocably” excommunicated himself from the AMIA – Argentina’s premiere Jewish welfare, education and burial society – demolished by an Iranian Jihadist bomb in 1994, leaving 85 dead and 300 wounded.
By this personal act, he has rejected his Jewish education values and destiny — among them burial in a Jewish cemetery — and has, apparently, abandoned the Argentine victims of this Tehran-sponsored aggression.
By publicly announcing this action and reportedly charging the AMIA with obstructing Argentine national interests — in other words treason — it could be argued that he has exposed Argentina, once again, to grave threats from reactivated Iran-sponsored Hezbollah sleeper cells on Argentine soil, as were identified by the commonly presumed slain AMIA Prosecutor, Alberto Nisman.
Timerman has now invidiously compared himself with the Zionist champion and visionary, Theodor Herzl.
Herzl sacrificed himself in defence of the Jewish people and is buried among them in Jerusalem.
Sources: Nisman Supporters Cancel US Trip
An Argentine delegation was forced to cancel a scheduled appearance in Florida this week following new accusations by a federal prosecutor that the delegation is working to undermine the Argentina’s relationship with Iran, according to sources apprised of the situation.
Laura Alonso, a legislator in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies, and Julio Schlosser, president of the Delegation of Argentine-Israeli Associations (DAIA), were scheduled to appear on Monday at a gathering of Latin American leaders and U.S. elected officials organized by the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF).
Alonso and Schlosser were expected to present information regarding the recent death of Alberto Nisman, an Argentine prosector who had been investigating the Iranian-orchestrated 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.
The accusations against Alonso and Schlosser were issued just days before the duo was scheduled to appear at the IAF summit. They canceled their trip and did not appear at the conference, prompting speculation that the accusation is part of a larger effort by the Argentine government to prevent further investigation into Iran’s role in the AMIA bombing.
Many suspect that Nisman was assassinated due to his investigation of the bombing.
Charlie Hebdo Artist Will No Longer Draw Mohammed Cartoons
Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Renald “Luz” Luzier, who drew the toon of Mohammed holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign for the record-breaking post-massacre comeback issue of the French magazine, says he is done drawing pictures of Mohammed.
“I will no longer draw the figure of Mohammed. It no longer interests me,” Luz said in interview with Les Inrockuptibles magazine, as transcribed by Reuters. “I’ve got tired of it, just as I got tired of drawing Sarkozy. I’m not going to spend my life drawing them.”
Luz explained that he was not retiring Mohammed from his repertoire as a response to the terrorist attack on his magazine that killed numerous high-ranking editors. “They will have won if the whole of France continues to be scared,” he declared.
At least Luz spares us the nauseating sanctimony of his fellow cartoonist, Garry Trudeau, who prefers to hide his cowardice behind arrogant pronouncements about the nature of satire while sacrificing the free speech rights of other people. At least we don’t have to listen to blather about how the writers who withdrew their support from the PEN Freedom of Expression Courage prize, awarded this year to Charlie Hebdo, are actually protecting free speech by throwing it away. Luz has the grace to stand down without hectoring those who refuse to join him.
Why Is the Green Party So Obsessed with Jews?
As it turns out, the Green Party has its own rather sorry record of an Israel obsession that has repeatedly crossed the line into outright Jew hatred. There have been reports of anti-Semitic posts and literature being circulated within the Green’s online forums, and of party members with Jewish sounding names being repeatedly subjected to abuse from others in these forums.
Then there is Pippa Bartolotti, the Green leader in Wales, who has wheeled out the age old trope that Jews have dual loyalties—something she claimed to have learned from the “university of life”. While in 2009 the Green’s deputy leader Shahrar Ali was filmed giving a viciously anti-Israel speech in which he derided “the niceties” of Holocaust Memorial Day.
Back in 2011 the Greens did establish an internal working group that was supposed to be grappling with the problem of anti-Semitism in the party, but the head of that investigation soon resigned claiming “it has become clear that the Green Party is institutionally anti-Semitic”.
Roger Waters, Bully
In his phenomenal and classic song, Another Brick in the Wall, Roger Waters called out defiantly and with great passion: “Teacher! Leave them kids alone!” It’s a great moment in music. The song is incredibly infectious. The line captures the raw emotion young students can feel in the presence of a rigid authoritarian figure at the helm of his or her class.
Roger Waters, I’m sure, sees himself as a defender of the defenseless, as one who has the courage to stand up for the downtrodden. But, as I see it, Roger Waters is simply a bully.
Pop star Robbie Williams is scheduled to perform this Saturday, May 2 in Tel Aviv. As an ardent supporter of the BDS movement (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions), Roger Waters has sought to convince Williams to cancel his upcoming concert.
Robbie Williams arrives in Israel ahead of concert
Amid public calls to back out of his performance Saturday in Tel Aviv, British crooner Robbie Williams touched down in Israel Thursday evening.
Accompanied by his wife and an entourage of over 50, the singer landed in Ben Gurion airport aboard his private jet a day and a half early, allowing plenty of time to see the best of the holy land’s sites.
Williams will spend Shabbat dinner with local pop star Ninet Tayeb, who will warm up his Saturday night performance in the White City’s massive HaYarkon Park, Channel 2 reported.
Jewish Student Calls on Hitler-Loving Wits Council President Simply ‘to Love’ Instead
A Jewish student at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwaterstrand wrote an impassioned letter to Student Representative Council president Mcebo Dlamini, who prompted outrage over writing “I love Adolf Hitler” in a Facebook post.
“The only offence I have committed against you is simply being Jewish,” wrote the student in a letter published by South African news portal Times Live.
“I have never met you, and most likely we have much in common yet you HATE me with so much unbridled passion – if only you could express that passion in standing up for those that have suffered from xenophobic violence,” the student said.
Dlamini raised eyebrows when he wrote “I love Adolf Hitler” as part of a Facebook post last Saturday.
“What about our Jewish brothers and sisters who fought side-by-side together with their oppressed fellow South Africans to bring down the evil Nationalist regime – people like Joe Slovo, Ruth First, Denis Goldberg, Lionel Bernstein, Arthur Goldreich, Harold Wolpe, Helen Suzman and so many others?” wrote the student. “All I ask is for you to love us – as Jews – for being South Africans and the many commonalities we share, rather than hating us for the few differences we possess.”
The student recalled Hitler’s policy of sterilizing what the Nazi regime called “Rhineland Bastards,” the children of mixed African and German couples.
To conclude, the student called on Dlamini simply “to love.”
NY bans political ads on transit after judge okays pro-Israel poster
The US’s largest mass transit system is preparing to ban all political advertising on its subways and buses after a judge ruled that a pro-Israel group was allowed to display an advertisement containing the phrase “Hamas Killing Jews” on New York City buses.
The resolution is expected to pass Wednesday at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board meeting after the finance committee approved it earlier in the week. The cash-strapped agency says such advertising only accounts for less than $1 million of its annual advertising revenue of $138 million.
“Advertisements expressing viewpoint messages, regardless of the viewpoint being expressed, would no longer be accepted,” the MTA’s general counsel, Jerome Page, told the committee on Monday.
New York is following in the footsteps of cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, which already have banned political ads on public transit, Page said.
UC Riverside official: Decision to stop selling Sabra hummus a 'mistake'
UC Riverside’s recent decision to stop selling a brand of hummus partially owned by an Israeli company because of a student group’s request was a “mistake,” school officials said Wednesday.
University spokesman James Grant Jr. said campus leadership became aware only Wednesday that the school’s dining areas had stopped selling Sabra hummus and replaced it with Tapaz2Go, a gluten-free, Mediterranean-inspired brand hummus.
The university has reversed itself and will sell both brands, Grant said.
In a letter sent to the school’s vice president of internal affairs and student government leaders, Students for Justice in Palestine said campus restaurants selling Sabra brand hummus violated the university’s "Tartan Soul" – a reference to the values of integrity, accountability, excellence and respect associated with campus mascot the Scotty Highlander.
“The product was changed due to consideration for student preferences without consideration of the political issues raised,” the university’s statement said. “However, we made a mistake in agreeing to replace one brand with another.”
NGO Monitor: Danish-Palestinian Friendship Association and Demonization
- On April 27, 2015, the Dansk Palæstinensisk Venskabsforening (Danish-Palestinian Friendship Association – DVP) launched an advertising campaign, “No Thanks to Settlement Products,” promoting an anti-Israel agenda on 35 bus lines in Copenhagen.
Text: “Our conscience is clear! We do not buy products from Israeli settlements or invest in settlement industry.” Website: “No Thanks to Settlement Products.” Source: Facebook
On April 27, 2015, the Dansk Palæstinensisk Venskabsforening (Danish-Palestinian Friendship Association – DVP) started “a large-scale advertising campaign on 35 bus lines in Copenhagen and the surrounding area.” This “No Thanks to Settlement Products” campaign, which calls for the labeling of Israeli products from the West Bank, is part of DVP’s wider anti-Israel demonization agenda, as demonstrated by the misleading maps on the posters.
Danish Bus Agency Removes Ad Against Israeli Settlements
Copenhagen's public transport agency on Thursday ordered the immediate removal of posters opposing Israeli settlements on the capital's city buses after getting "a considerable amount of complaints."
Movia, owned by eastern Denmark local authorities, said the campaign by the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association was "unnecessarily offensive."
The campaign that started Monday was calling for labels on goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
"Our conscience is clean. We neither buy products from the Israeli settlements nor invest in the occupation industry," the advertisement text read next to photos of two women only identified by their first names.
The company that runs the bus routes must remove the advertisements immediately from the 35 vehicles that displayed the posters, said the agency that is in charge of buses in Copenhagen.
"We got somewhere between 75 and 100 complaints, most of them in English," Movia spokeswoman Camilla Struckmann told The Associated Press.
I’m a Progressive Liberal Who Supports Israel, And Here’s Why (Part I)
For the past twenty years I have worked on social justice issues in the U.S. I have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to social justice and equity for all people. Thus, many of my friends and colleagues are surprised to find out about my support for Israel. I do not share those beliefs openly with colleagues, because it is not central to my everyday job (I work on poverty issues in the U.S.). The only time I offer up my opinion is when others go first. I know that supporting Israel is frowned upon in progressive circles. However, I think that it is a perfectly progressive value. This belief is built on a set of foundational ideas:
- Israel is the ancient homeland of the Jewish people, whence they were exiled.
- In every place in which they have lived, Jews were/are treated as foreigners, or tolerated as a lower class of people.
- Zionism, as an idea, is a 2,000+ year old belief that Jews have the right to live in their ancient homeland as a nation — a right that was taken from them by force.
- Opposing the idea of Zionism is, literally, to oppose the right of the Jewish people to live, as a nation, in their ancient homeland, and thus it leads to Antisemitism.
- Antisemitism predates the re-birth of the nation of Israel by more than one thousand years.
- Opposing Israel (I mean, its very existence) is to advocate for the annihilation of an entire people.
- Unwavering support for the continued existence of Israel doesn’t equate to unwavering support for the Israeli government. I support the nation of Israel, but will offer constructive criticism when I see fit.
I’m a Progressive Liberal Who Supports Israel, And Here’s Why (Part 2): Israel as an Apartheid State
In 2001, just prior to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, some of my friends and colleagues attended the World Conference on Racism, Xenophobia, and Discrimination held in Durban, South Africa. It was an amazing experience for them, and for us, a great honor to send representatives from communities of color in the U.S.A, calling attention to all these issues in the Land of the Free.
Unfortunately, my friends brought back lots of anti-semitic literature they picked up from the Palestinian representatives. At a conference where the world was supposed to make a united stand against racism, anti-semitism was rampant. My colleagues eagerly showed me books full of anti semitic cartoons — hardly distinguishable from Nazi-era cartoons — which they saw as examples of media as a tool for speaking truth to power.
Needless to say, I consider that 2001 conference an utter failure.
And so, four years before the launch of the Israeli Apartheid Week actions, anti-semitism became permissible under the pretense of raising awareness about Israeli oppression. It was thanks to this conference that I became politically aware about anti-Israel ideology.
IsraellyCool: Palestinian West Bank: Occupation Growing
Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my marbles, I know it’s Judea and Samaria but I can’t pass up using the other side’s malicious terms purely as title click bait sometimes.
From the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) comes this press release about hotels in the PA administered parts of Judea Samaria in 2014. And business is up!
- More than 0.6 million guests spent more than 1.5 million nights;
- During 2014, 610,347 guests stayed in hotels in the West Bank;
- 32% were from European Union countries and 9% were Palestinian, 10% were from the United States and Canada.
- The number of hotel guests was 2% higher than in the previous year.
Wow! I wonder how that compares to Syria, or Libya or even Egypt. Unfortunately we have no confirmation of figures from Gaza as yet though of course we have plenty of pictures of the many hotels in concentration camp Gaza which the foreign press like to stay in.
BBC amends online profile of Manchester constituency after complaints
By way of comparison, the constituency which the BBC defines as “the richest place in Britain” – Kensington – is described as “well-to-do” and no mention is made of its ethnic or religious make-up.
The BBC has now amended the profile of Blackley & Broughton.
“A BBC spokesperson said: “These profiles aim to portray every constituency in a few sentences. We regret part of our description of Blackley and Broughton did not accurately reflect the area and we have now changed the wording accordingly.””
Once again the BBC chooses to miss the point.
Western Media Confused After Discovering Israel Not Involved in Most Middle East Conflicts (satire)
Due to escalating tensions in Middle Eastern countries, arriving Western journalists were shocked to discover that the Middle East has a ton of conflicts, and very few are even remotely related to Israel.
“I always write about the ‘Middle Eastern’ conflict being Israelis vs. Palestinians, but it turns out, the Middle East is a huge, complex, messed up region,” a BBC journalist exclaimed. “Who knew?”
Despite heavy media attention on Israel, a deeper analysis has uncovered that the Middle East / Northern Africa geographic areas are, to use a technical term, ‘ridiculously f__ked up’. Between the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, a Syrian civil war, a Yemeni civil war, a failed Libyan government, two ousted Egyptian leaders, a FUBAR-Iraq, and Iran funding proxy terror organizations while marching toward nuclear arms, the Elders of Zion apparently had their hands quite full over the past several years.
“Let’s take what’s going on in Yemen for example,” a New York Times reporter said. “It gets super complicated when you have a predominantly Muslim country that’s fractured along sectarian lines, with Saudi Arabia and Iran, two other Muslim countries, arming the two opposite sides…… yada, yada, yada, my brain is starting to hurt. It’s a lot simpler to just reinforce the Judaism vs. Islam narrative, so historically, that’s what we’ve tried to do.”
Upon learning about the range of problems facing the Middle East, leaders of the BDS movements said, “Well, we can still blame it all on the Jews, right?”
Sweden: Jewish teacher says he gets death threats from students
The article is titled "Swedish Jews suffer from hate against Israel", but the article doesn't really explain how the hatred is related to Israel and isn't just regular Muslim antisemitism.
Henry Grynfeld is a teacher in the Rosengård district of Malmö. As a Jew he's often experienced harassment from his Muslim students.
"I was called 'Jew'. I was threatened. I was told things like "We'll kill all the Jews and you too". As soon as something doesn't go the way these young people had in mind, they have an argument ready in their back-pocket, and that's that you're a Jew."
"I feel safe as long as I do not show who I am - I wouldn't run around here with a kippa or a Star of David."
YLE did not meet many people who wanted to comment on antisemitism in the neighborhood. A few said that Muslims themselves are targeted by Islamophobia and hate-crimes.
New solution to keep veggies fresh for a month, sans fridge
A new technique developed by Hebrew University researchers that extend the life of vegetables for weeks without refrigeration could help break the cycle of poverty among rural farmers in the developing world, with.
There are dozens of technologies that can help farmers grow healthier, hardier and better-tasting fruits and vegetables – many of them developed in Israel – but there are few technologies to extend the life of produce. While some fruits and vegetables can be kept in cold storage for months, others – like leafy vegetables – have to be brought to market within days, before they begin to wilt.
It’s a problem for farmers all over the world, especially in the developing world. Farmers who have no access to refrigeration – because of a lack of electricity, inability to afford equipment, infrastructure problems, or other reasons – are basically at the mercy of local wholesalers who offer them far less than their produce is worth.
Instead of taking their produce to the cities, where it can fetch the market price, farmers in rural India and Africa have to sell at below market prices locally, because by the time they get to the city, their produce will have gone bad. Selling their produce for subsistence wages, farmers get barely enough to live on and replant for the next season – and prolonging the cycle of poverty.
Drones – the future of precision agriculture
Combining a drone-mounted sensor with analytic software, the Israeli company Sensilize is launching what it calls the future of precision agriculture.
The emerging field of precision agriculture is based on observing, measuring and responding to crops with smart technology. Drones — also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – are giving farmers new possibilities, such as crop-dusting without a plane, but can also be integrated with smart technology.
Sensilize uses a micro-UAS platform to map fields with an integrated application-driven sensor called Robin-Eye, whose eight-band calibrated sensor provides ultra-high-resolution multispectral images of vegetation in almost all light conditions.
Sensilize’s cloud-based Robin-Mind software automatically analyzes these images and then – within 24 hours — provides the farmer with a true color image of the area as well as interpreted maps to enable optimal decisions to enhance efficiency, maximize yield and minimize resources.
Israeli Start-Up Partners With Samsung on Health Monitoring System for Elderly
The Israeli start-up Mybitat and Samsung have joined forces to develop technology to help keep senior citizens safe at home.
The technology would utilize sensors and cloud-based software to monitor seniors’ daily routines, and would be able to recognize any changes in clients’ behavior and health, in which case the system would call for help.
“Samsung believes the senior population can benefit from new technologies to improve their quality of life,” said Curtis Sasaki, a senior vice president at Samsung, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. “Our work with Mybitat has the potential to make key elements of the aging process significantly easier on individuals and families.”
“We believe current systems for managing aging require significant improvement,” said Mybitat founder Mati Kochavi.
India minister praises Israel’s ‘more crop per drop’ farm model
The business of government is politics, but there’s a time to put politics on the shelf, according to Chief Minister of the State of Maharashtra in India. “Everybody has to eat,” Fadnavis told The Times of Israel in an exclusive interview. “Israel’s agricultural and water technology is helping to satisfy global hunger. Who could disagree with that?”
India’s strategy in the past has been to keep Israel at arm’s length so as not to aggravate its relationship with the Arab world and its large Muslim minority. But that strategy goes out the window when it comes to engaging with Israel for its agricultural technology. Israel and India have extensive ag-tech ties, with government-level projects to improve growing techniques for a wide variety of crops, to dozens of business collaborations between private companies.
In fact, one of the biggest irrigation solutions firms in the world – NaanDanJain – is an Israeli-Indian firm, created in 2007 when Israeli irrigation tech firm NaanDan merged with India’s Jain Irrigation Systems. “India is an agricultural country, and we are helping India bloom with our affordable drip irrigation, filter, and fertilizer technology,” said Amnon Ofen, director of NaanDanJain. “There is no question that our firm has been responsible for the green revolution in India. I would estimate that NaanDanJain products have helped increase India agricultural output by tens of percent. Millions of Indian farmers are using Israeli equipment and technology, and they are producing more from their land.”
‘Emergency tech’ firm ClickSoftware sells for nearly $500m
Israeli workforce management technology firm ClickSoftware is being acquired by California-based investment firm Francisco Partners Management. The all-cash transaction is valued at approximately $438 million.
Currently a NASDAQ publicly-traded firm, ClickSoftware will see its stockholders sell their holdings to Francisco Partners, with each outstanding share to be sold for $12.65 – 45% over the stock’s average closing over the previous 90 days. The deal must still be approved by stockholders, but ClickSoftware’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the sale in a recent meeting. Francisco Partners, which focuses strictly on technology investments, aims to buy all outstanding shares of the company, turning it into a private firm, and ClickSoftware will recommend that all shareholders sell.
With over 700 employees, the Petah Tikvah-based firm is the world’s largest service management company, with its software helping hundreds of utilities, police and fire departments, and emergency rescue organizations to help them prioritize work orders, repairs, and emergency responses, ClickSoftware CEO Moshe Ben-Bassat told The Times of Israel in an interview.
ClickSoftware’s system is especially useful in emergencies, said Ben-Bassat – like the snow emergencies that became a routine event in many US cities last winter. When such events take place, utilities, emergency services, police, fire, food delivery personnel, and many others need to be ready operate in crisis mode, said Ben-Bassat.
Israeli restaurant in London tops GQ food and drink list
London-based Israeli-owned restaurant The Palomar -- known for its modern Jerusalemite cuisine -- won "Best Restaurant" at the inaugural GQ Food and Drink Awards on Wednesday.
The well-known international monthly men's magazine chose The Palomar from among a pool of nominees that included a restaurant with two Michelin stars.
The Palomar is the sister restaurant of the popular Machneyuda restaurant in Jerusalem. The competition's judges praised not only the food but the unique atmosphere at Palomar.
One of the restaurant's owners, chef Assaf Granit told Israel Hayom on Wednesday that the award meant a lot to him and his partners in the restaurant. "Just being nominated was flattering," he said. "It's like being a film director nominated alongside Martin Scorsese or Robert De Niro.
Elie Weisel: Being Jewish is Not ‘Simply a Matter of Birth’ (VIDEO)
Author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel on Wednesday said being Jewish “is not simply a matter of birth,” and called on Jews to “do something about their Jewishness.”
“We believe that to be Jewish is not simply a matter of birth. We must do something with it, with ourselves,” Wiesel told a crowd at the Bloomberg Philanthropies townhouse office on New York’s Upper East Side.
“It doesn’t mean that the Jew is better than anyone else,” said Wiesel. “It simply means, because I am a Jew, I have to do something with my Jewishness. It is the Jew in me who works for human rights … the Jew in me who believes that racism is stupid. Not only evil, but stupid.”
Wiesel was speaking to an audience after former mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the winners of his Genesis Generation Project, which awarded nine $100,000 grants from Bloomberg’s own Genesis prize award money for projects providing a “sustainable and scalable solution to an important problem.” Actor Michael Douglas, who won this years Genesis prize, was also present.

Posted By Ian to Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News at 4/30/2015 06:00:00 PM
What happens when you mix a culture that is crazy about soccer with one that is certifiably insane about Jews?

From Metro-UK:

It’s official: there will be another Messi arriving on the planet very soon.

Lionel Messi confirmed he will become a father for the second time after the Barcelona star uploaded a picture of his pregnant girlfriend, Antonella Roccuzzo, onto Instagram on Thursday to confirm the news.

In the photo, the 27-year-old’s son young Thiago was seen kissing Roccuzzo’s stomach alongside the words ‘Waiting for you baby! We love you’.

The news comes after rumours began spreading that Messi was expecting another child and, in particular, a second son following a report in Argentine outlet Clarin.

The publication claimed the boy will be called Benjamin and could be born at the end of the year.
Algeria's Echorouk sports site noticed immediately that Benjamin is also the name of the prime minister of Israel!

Its headline is "Messi chose a Jewish name for his new son."

In case you don't get the point, the story is illustrated with this photo of Messi visiting the Kotel a couple of years ago, right next to rabbi who looks particularly Jewy.

Posted By Elder of Ziyon to Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News at 4/30/2015 04:00:00 PM
Vic Rosenthal's weekly column:

Alex, the son of anti-Zionist billionaire George Soros, is starting a Jewish political action committee:

Bend the Arc PAC will back progressive candidates by making direct contributions to their campaign committees. It will focus on issues such as income inequality, marriage equality, social justice and immigration reform.

Alex Soros explained that
There’s an opportunity to launch something that actually speaks to what the American Jewish community cares the most about and to show the narrative of what the real American Jewish experience is.
But what’s the point of creating yet another ‘progressive’ PAC? Why specifically target Jews when there is no specifically Jewish issue that it is concerned with? The answer lies in what it is not concerned with:
Hadar Susskind, who has previously worked for other Jewish organizations including J Street, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, will serve as director of Bend the Arc PAC…
“We don’t touch any foreign policy stuff,” he said. “One of the reasons behind doing this is that [the other Jewish groups] aren’t really representing the views of the American Jewish community…” [my emphasis]
Does that sound familiar? It’s J Street without Israel! This PAC will undoubtedly fund the very same candidates that the J Street PAC does. But J Street has been losing its appeal, as the Obama Administration’s anti-Israel policies have begun to make even some ‘progressive’ Jews uncomfortable.

Since Roosevelt’s presidency, American Jews have leaned left because of their concern about social issues, as exemplified by the civil rights movement. Reform Jews have even been criticized for acting as though Judaism was synonymous with liberal politics. Most, however, strongly supported Israel — and so did most Democratic politicians. With the advent of Obama, that is no longer the case, and liberal Jews are caught in the middle.

Soros has come along with a brilliant solution to their dilemma: be progressive, but don’t think about Israel.

Bend the Arc will be able to funnel Jewish contributions to the left-wing politicians that support and will continue the administration’s policies, including its anti-Israel ones. But because it won’t “touch any foreign policy stuff” none of those hard questions about Hamas and Iran need come up. Jewish progressives will be able to donate to it with the clearest of consciences, with warm and fuzzy feelings about gay marriage and immigrant rights, without any nagging doubts that perhaps they are betraying their people.

The traditionally liberal Jews who have been forced to choose between their progressive domestic agenda and their love for Israel will now have a home.

And it won’t be a lightning rod for criticism by Zionist Jews the way J Street was. Anyone who opposes Bend the Arc can be dismissed as a right-wing ideologue, or even a Republican.

Finally, it is a diversionary tactic. It will work to focus the Jewish community on domestic issues. The less any American, Jewish or otherwise, thinks about the radically anti-Israel and anti-American policies of the Obama wing of the Democratic Party, the better it will be for them.

I doubt that any of the Democratic presidential candidates — yes, I expect challenges to Hillary — will explicitly campaign on the foreign policy record of the Obama Administration (it’s too gruesome), but I do expect that at least one will embody the same philosophy of helping America’s enemies and hurting its friends.

And you can bet that that candidate will be the favorite of Bend the Arc.

Posted By Elder of Ziyon to Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News at 4/30/2015 02:00:00 PM
From Ian:

On first day, IDF field hospital in Nepal treats nearly 100, delivers baby
Israel’s field hospital in earthquake-hit Nepal began operating Wednesday morning, with staff treating nearly 100 patients and delivering their first baby — a boy — on the first day, according to an IDF spokesperson
Among the patients were some 30 Israeli nationals. Most were suffering from dehydration and were soon released to their hotels.
Over 250 doctors and rescue personnel were part of an IDF delegation that landed Tuesday in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, in the wake of Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake that devastated large swaths of the mountainous country, killing at least 5,000 and leaving some 8,000 wounded and tens of thousands seeking shelter and food.
The Israeli group set up the field hospital with 60 beds, including an obstetrics department, and was operating in coordination with the local army hospital.
Ethiopian Doctor Who Lit Yom Ha’Atzmaut Torch Heads IDF Team in Nepal
Israel’s first Ethiopian doctor, who lit one of the traditional torches on Yom Ha’Atzmaut give years ago, is leading the IDF medical team in Nepal.
Dr. Avi Yitzchak made Aliyah in the early 1990s in the Operation Shlomo airlift and has become a symbol of success for the Ethiopian community.
He arrived in Nepal five days ago, when he said there was absolutely nothing in the realm of first aid, and decided where to set up a field hospital, which went into operation immediately.
“We began accepting patients from the Nepalese army hospital that was not able to function well, especially in the field of surgery,” said Yitzchak, who specialized in surgery when he studied medicine at Soroka Hospital at Ben Gurion University.
“We are receiving citizens of Nepal with medical problems that the Nepalese army hospital cannot treat beaus they accept only soldiers and their families,” Dr. Yitzchak said from Katmandu.
When not in the army, Dr. Yitzhak works as a surgeon at Soroka.
Israel doesn’t care what you think
To Whom It May Concern,
If I hear one more time on Facebook, Twitter, et al that Israel’s field hospital in Nepal is somehow connected to the conflict with the Palestinians, I’m going to permanently block the person saying so on the grounds that they’re stupid.
Here’s the thing: Israel is an entire country, with all the complicated impulses and competing agendas of any human society. It is perfectly capable of being involved in two completely different things at once, of being angelic in one arena and terrible in another, just like every other country. The IDF doesn’t go to Nepal to avoid the Palestinian issue. It goes because Israelis have honed emergency medicine into an art form, and because the IDF has never quite shed its founding culture of adventurousness, and, above all, because there are people out there who desperately need help.
Those who see in every good news from Israel “hasbara” (propaganda) are missing the single most important fact you can know about Israel — that it isn’t a political campaign begging for your vote. It is a nation. With two million schoolchildren, dozens of cities, its own cinema scene and a language spoken nowhere else in the world. It doesn’t go away if it loses some imaginary popularity contest. And as with any human society, it offers an endless stream of failures and successes that will let you “prove” any narrative you want. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Head of IDF Nepal Mission Meets Nepalese Prime Minister
The head of the IDF’s humanitarian mission in Nepal on Wednesday met with Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and assured him that Israel is doing everything in its power to save as many lives as possible from the devastating earthquake.
“We are in a close relationship with the military hospital in Kathmandu and with other hospitals, and together we promise you that we will do our best to save as many lives as we can,” the commander told Koirala.
Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF’s field hospital in Nepal began operations and will work to mend the wounded from Saturday's massive lethal earthquake.
IDF Humanitarian Mission Commander Meets with Nepalese Prime Minister

WATCH: IDF doctors deliver Nepalese baby boy in Kathmandu field hospital
Israeli soldiers who set up a field hospital in Nepal to treat the survivors of the massive earthquake that struck the Himalayan country this week delivered a newborn baby on Wednesday.
“A very cute baby boy, healthy, and weighing 2.1 kilograms was born,” said Maj. (res.) Michal Peres, a midwife by trade who is part of the IDF delegation in Kathmandu.
“He is feeling good, and he has been placed in a warm setting,” she said. “Once the mother recovers from the Caesarean section, we will bring them together.”
First Birth at the IDF's Field Hospital in Nepal

Nepal: Israeli Field Hospital Treats 'Miracle' Survivor
The second rescue occurred in the capital city of Kathmandu itself, and underlined the international character of the relief operation. American and Nepalese rescue workers worked for hours to free the trapped boy, who later identified himself as 15-year-old Pemba Lama, and transferred him to an Israeli field hospital for treatment.
According to BBC journalist Yogita Limaye, Lama told rescuers he had survived by drinking water dripping off of wet clothes, and eating two bottles of clarified butter, or "ghee", which were within reach.
She said he too was in surprisingly good health considering his ordeal, emerging fully conscious and conversing with doctors after some 120 hours trapped in the rubble.
A US Agency for International Development official told the Associated Press the boy had been trapped between two collapsed floors of the building he was in when the quake struck, but that fortunately for him the collapsed floors were not "too far down".
Israel and India Work Together on Nepal Quake Relief
Israeli Ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon, who is in regular touch with the Indian authorities regarding relief operations, also expressed his appreciation for the “constructive response” from Indian authorities.
Earlier on Sunday, India had allowed the IDF to use the country’s airspace to carry out its humanitarian operation.
The IDF already conducted a similar mission in the region, when India’s North-Western Kutch region of Gujarat experienced a massive earthquake in 2001, claiming 20,000 lives. Israel dispatched a field hospital that treated more than 1,000 casualties.
Soon thereafter, India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Israel remained a key partner in Gujarat’s economic development.
Now India is aiding Israel in the rescue efforts in Nepal, and the situation has come full circle.
MDA Trains Nepalese Students in Israel to Save Lives at Home
Tens of thousands of Nepalese have been searching for a way to escape the devastation in their country, after a major earthquake wrought unprecedented damage on the country.
But a group of 24 students from Nepal, safely ensconced in Israel, will be going home, equipped with life-saving skills they picked up in Israel.
The students are in Israel on scholarship study programs in various Israeli universities. In recent days, the students expressed a desire to go home and help out – and got in touch with Magen David Adom officials, who quickly moved to set up an emergency treatment and care course for the students, to train them in basic life-saving skills that they can use when they return to their home towns.
MDA paramedic Daniel Pollack conducted the workshop over the past week, teaching basic English to students (in order to enable them to communicate with doctors and other rescue workers), and training them on terminology and techniques to assist people with broken arms and legs and other injuries, as well as providing information on how to help people with internal injuries.
The students will be dispatched to Nepal to work with professional MDA teams, assisting them in providing basic services for those suffering from the effects of the quake.
CBN: Israel Sends Large-Scale Mission to Nepal
A 260-member team from Israel arrived in Nepal Tuesday to aid in search and rescue operations and to set up a multi-facility field hospital that can treat at least 200 patients daily.

PreOccupied Territory: IDF Declares Cover-Up Of Earthquake Device A Success (satire)
Commanders of the ostensibly medical IDF mission to Nepal in the aftermath of last week’s catastrophic earthquake report success in their efforts to conceal the fact that Israeli technology was behind the cataclysm.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake collapsed tens of thousands of buildings and caused deadly avalanches at Mt. Everest. So far the death toll has reached more than 6,000, with government and rescue expert estimates expecting the figure to double as rubble is cleared. Israel was among the first countries to send aid, including more than 250 personnel whose mission was officially declared as rescue and medical treatment. The tasks involved setting up and running the largest field hospital in IDF history, in order to divert attention from the operation to conceal and retrieve the device that caused the earthquake.
Causing natural and man-made disasters constitutes an important element of international Zionist strategy to sow instability and to distract from operations that might otherwise attract unwanted attention and opposition. The scale of the Nepal earthquake necessitated a larger device than has been deployed in at least a decade, and its installation in the Himalayas – and therefore its removal as well – demanded a manpower-intensive operation. Whereas installation of the device could take place gradually, using the constant stream of Israeli agents posing as climbers and backpackers across Asia, its disassembly and return to Israel needed to be accomplished faster to avoid discovery amid intense international scrutiny in the post-earthquake media storm.
David Singer: Why Ariel Sharon's Ghost Haunts Barack Obama
The idea that Israel should be required to make mutually agreed land swaps for territory it retains in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) was never stipulated or mentioned in the letter given by President Bush to Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004 – whose terms were overwhelmingly endorsed by the House of Representatives 407:9 on 23 June 2004 and the Senate 95:3 the next day. (“American Written Commitments”)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had declared at the Annapolis International Conference convened by President Bush on 27 November 2007 that any resumed negotiations:
“will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”
Michael Oren – Kulanu’s diplomatic voice and former Israeli Ambassador to Washington between 2009 and 2013 – recently called for these 2004 American Written Commitments to be resuscitated:
“A decade ago, in April 2004, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received a letter from American president George Bush, Jr. recognizing Israel's right to build in long-standing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem like Talpiyot-East and Ramot. Furthermore, Israel was now allowed to build in settlement blocs crucial for Israel's security, and in which some 80 per cent of Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria reside […] According to the Bush-Sharon letter, these areas will remain within Israel's borders in any arrangement arrived at with the Palestinians […] it's time to revive the Bush-Sharon letter and act according to it.”
Obama is going to find it impossible to impose his land swap proposals – if Oren has any say.
Sharon’s ghost has tantalisingly returned to haunt Obama.
The Iran Deal and the Looming Showdown with Israel at the UN
I find the wording there quite revealing. It suggests that the cost-benefit analysis performed by the administration shows it to be a net-negative to abandon Israel at the UN. Hence, the president would “back off.” But the “hesitate” part is interesting too. The president seems to want to side against Israel on this issue, but believes he just doesn’t have the political capital to take such a drastic step.
Yet he also doesn’t want to side with Israel on the issue because he doesn’t want to go on record against a peace plan that he really supports. So he doesn’t want the vote to ever actually take place.
Perhaps he just wants the vote to be a looming threat to quiet Israel’s opposition to the Iran deal. Whatever the case, he won’t be able to put off the UN vote forever. And that’s when we’ll see if the president who took the extraordinary step of downgrading the U.S.-Israel military alliance while Israel was at war is also ready to downgrade the U.S.-Israel diplomatic alliance and unleash the full prejudice of the United Nations on the Jewish state.

Iranian FM Mocks Obama, Admits Holding Ship for Ransom, Calls Washington Post Reporter a Spy
In a speech at New York University today, Iranian foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif lashed out at President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate, justified the detention of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, and suggested that The Washington Post‘s Tehran reporter, Jason Rezaian, is a spy.
Josh Rogin of Bloomberg View reported on Zarif’s remarks.
In a set of blustery and self-righteous remarks, Iran’s top diplomat assured the crowd at New York University that President Barack Obama would be compelled to stop enforcing sanctions only days after any nuclear agreement was signed and would have to figure out how to lift congressional sanctions on Iran within weeks, no matter what Congress has to say about it. He also said that any future president, even a Republican, would be compelled to stick that agreement.
Zarif also took several shots at the U.S. Senate, just as it debated amendments to a bill designed to slow the lifting of sanctions against Iran and give Congress an oversight role on the deal. …
Zarif said that if there is a nuclear agreement by June 30, the negotiators’ latest self-imposed deadline, then within a few days the United Nations Security Council would pass a resolution lifting all UN sanctions and requiring Obama to stop enforcing all of the U.S. sanctions immediately.
Iran FM says nuke deadline not ‘sacrosanct’
Iran’s foreign minister says his country and world powers will meet Thursday to start bringing together the elements of a draft on a comprehensive nuclear deal, with meetings starting Monday in Europe to finalize all its elements.
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at an event Wednesday in New York that even though Iran certainly wants to meet the June 30 deadline for an agreement, “no time deadline is sacrosanct.”
He met with Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.
Zarif says Iran expects UN sanctions to be lifted within a few days of a deal. And he expects President Barack Obama will have to stop implementing the US sanctions on his country. “How he does is his problem,” Zarif said.
He also took aim at Israel’s prime minister, who has been a fierce critic of the attempt to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program and who went as far as addressing Congress over the issue, to Obama’s displeasure. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Zarif called Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism “ironic but laughable.”
“Netanyahu has become everyone’s non-proliferation guru. He is sitting on 400 nuclear warheads,” the foreign minister said.
Israel has never publicly declared any nuclear weapons.
Iran wants nukes to foster extremism, opposition leader tells US
Testifying before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee via videoconference from France, Rajavi discussed international negotiations underway to get Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions crippling its economy.
She warned against giving Iran too many concessions, saying it would embolden its leaders to be more aggressive in meddling in other nations.
She said the US and five other nations in talks with Iran must demand that it completely stop enriching uranium and shut down its nuclear sites, missile programs and other programs. While there is no final deal yet, emerging details of an agreement fall short of her demands.
“None of the sanctions should be lifted before an agreement has been signed that effectively and definitively denies the mullahs the bomb,” Rajavi said. “Otherwise, the regime will spend billions of unfrozen assets to buy weapons, including advanced missiles from Russia.”
Sen. Tom Cotton Calls Out 'Cowardly' Iranian Foreign Minister on Twitter
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is firing back at comments from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about sanctions. In a statement posted on his Senate website, and followed by a series of sharply worded tweets, Cotton goes so far as to call Zarif “cowardly.”
In his statement, Cotton noted that President Barack Obama had “promised sanctions would only be lifted when Iran’s compliance with restrictions on their nuclear program were verified.” However, Zarif has contradicted Obama, issuing his own statement that mentioned Cotton, who had led a group of 47 Senators to sign a letter opposing the deal with Iran unless it was ratified by Congress:
If we have an agreement on the 30th of June, within a few days after that, there will be a resolution before the UN Security Council under Article 41 of Chapter 7 which will be mandatory for all member states whether Senator Cotton likes it or not.
Cotton came right back at Zarif, saying that the controversy was not about him, but what would “keep America safe from a nuclear-armed Iran,” and attacking the comments by Zarif and other Iranian officials as “demonstrat[ing] why Iran cannot be trusted:”
US Senate rejects tying terrorism support to Iran sanctions relief
The U.S. Senate rejected an effort on Wednesday to tie sanctions relief for Iran under an international nuclear agreement to a requirement that President Barack Obama certify that Iran is not supporting acts of terrorism against Americans.
A handful of Republicans joined Senate Democrats to reject by a 54-45 vote a proposed amendment offered by Republican Senator John Barrasso that would have added the terrorism clause to a bill subjecting an international nuclear agreement to review by the U.S. Congress.
The Senate has been engaged in intense debate over the legislation, a compromise version of the bill reached in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week in an effort to avoid a presidential veto.
Obama to veto any bill that would undermine Iran talks
US President Barack Obama plans to veto any legislation that would depart from a deal between the White House and US lawmakers over Congress’ role in the Iranian nuclear negotiations, an administration official said Wednesday.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest also said Obama also would not support any bill that would interfere with the negotiations between Iran, the US and other world powers over its nuclear program, Reuters reported.
On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Senate turned back an attempt to elevate any nuclear deal with Iran into a treaty, a vote that gave momentum to lawmakers trying to pass a bill giving Congress a chance to review and possibly reject any agreement with Tehran.
The amendment, filed by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, failed 39 to 57.
'Rubio's demand that Iran recognize Israel threatens to sink bipartisan deal'
Aside from Iranian recognition of Israel, Rubio also wants the Tehran regime to unconditionally release all Americans held in Iran, the Obama administration to submit any UN resolutions to Congress for approval, and the economic sanctions regime to remain in place, according to Politico.
Despite indications that the GOP leadership is on board with the proposed Rubio amendments, some Republicans are wary of the move since it threatens to undo progress made with Democrats over a bipartisan coalition that has forced the administration to back down from its previous position ruling out any Congressional say over the Iran deal.
The influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee is pressuring lawmakers not to support amendments to toughen a bill that lets Congress review a nuclear agreement with Iran, hoping to avoid a partisan battle that could doom the legislation.
AIPAC has been urging Republicans not to back amendments that might turn many Senate Democrats against the "Iran Nuclear Review Act," or prompt Obama to renew his threat to veto the legislation.
"Our priority is to make sure the bill gets passed with the strongest possible bipartisan majority so that Congress is guaranteed the opportunity to pass judgment on the final agreement," an AIPAC source said.
Exclusive: Britain told U.N. monitors of active Iran nuclear procurement - panel
Britain has informed a United Nations sanctions panel of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms, according to a confidential report by the panel seen by Reuters.
The existence of such a network could add to Western concerns over whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal due by June 30 in which it would agree to restrict sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
Talks between six major powers and Tehran are approaching the final stages after they hammered out a preliminary agreement on April 2, with Iran committing to reduce the number of centrifuges it operates and other long-term nuclear limitations.
"The UK government informed the Panel on 20 April 2015 that it 'is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network which has been associated with Iran's Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) and Kalay Electric Company (KEC)'," the Panel of Experts said in its annual report. The panel monitors Iran's compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime.
KEC is under U.N. Security Council sanctions while TESA is under U.S. and European Union sanctions due to their suspected links to banned Iranian nuclear activities.
Iran, which is has been under sanctions for years, has a long history of illicit nuclear procurement using front companies and other methods of skirting sanctions.
Contact Made with Crew of Ship Seized by Iran
Brief contact has been made with the 24-man crew on the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris ship seized by Iran this week, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The ship was charted by Rickmers Shipmanagement, based in Singapore, whose spokesman Cor Radings said:
They’re all in relatively good condition, but it’s not a good situation and is still of concern to us,
He added that Iranian guards are keeping the crew in their rooms and eating area. All of the crew members are from Asia and Eastern Europe.
The USS Navy has sent the U.S. Farragut destroyer and three other smaller ships to the Strait of Hormuz (Persian Gulf) in response to Iran’s seizure of the vessel on Tuesday.
Rickmers maintains that the Maersk ship was in international waters when Iranian Revolutionary Navy Guards shot at it and then forced it to the area of the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
U.S. Navy Dispatches Vessels After Iran Seizes Allied Cargo Ship
While the Marshall Islands is a sovereign country, the U.S. “has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” according to the U.S. State Department. Maersk, the shipping line whose vessel was commandeered, is one of the largest employers of U.S. merchant mariners, and “operate[s], manage[s] and maintain[s] ships for the U.S. government ships in preposition and surge sealift capacities,” according to its website.
Patrick Megahan, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted that Maersk Tigris was in international waters when it was seized.
Last week at a State Department briefing, Acting Spokesperson Marie Harf emphasized that the move of U.S. naval vessels to Yemen was not to intercept Iranian ships but “only to ensure the shipping lanes remain open and safe.”
Expert: Seizure of Cargo Ship Latest Unanswered Iranian Challenge to American Navy
Noting that Iran’s seizure of the Maersk Tigris M/V yesterday was done in “blatant defiance” of the United States, Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall noted that it was that latest in series of recent provocations in the Persian Gulf, especially since the United States last week sent two ships to the waters off Yemen to deter Iran from shipping weapons to the Houthi rebels.
Segall wrote:
Strong criticism of the U.S. Navy blocking the Iranian convoy came from two powerful military sources in Iran: Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, former defense minister, and commander of the navies of the Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian Army, as well as Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the Iranian army chief of staff (see “Does Iran’s Navy Directly Arm its Jihadi Allies?”).
The seizure of the Maersk Tigris M/V could be an Iranian signal that it will not countenance the blocking of assistance it seeks to give its Yemeni proxies – the Houthis — and could also be part of the simmering warfare Iran has been waging with Saudi Arabia over influence in the Persian Gulf and beyond. The Saudis refer to the body of water as the “Arabian Gulf.”
A month ago an Iranian reconnaissance aircraft passed provocatively close to an armed MH-60R helicopter from the USS Carl Vinson carrier, part the U.S. fleet. The incident received little media coverage and the United States preferred to play it down, claiming it was a local initiative of Iranian commanders.
PreOccupied Territory: Iran Hijacks VP’s NY Motorcade; Obama Sends Destroyer, Urges Calm (satire)
Iranian cars stopped and seized the vehicles carrying and escorting US Vice President Joe Biden through New York’s streets today, and took him and his staff into custody at the country’s mission to the United Nations. In response, President Obama urged calm and ordered the navy to dispatch the destroyer Poltroon to the East River.
Biden’s motorcade was ferrying him from John F. Kennedy International Airport to a meeting with Democratic Party donors in Midtown this morning when a group of eleven Iranian vehicles surrounded it and ordered the drivers to follow them. When the motorcade resisted, Iran’s agents fired across the hoods of the American vehicles and commandeered the six cars. The head of the vice president’s Secret Service detail sent out a distress call, and the Poltroon was sent to the vicinity. By the time it arrived, however, Biden, his staff, security detail, and vehicles had been impounded in the Iran mission’s underground garage.
Iranian sources said the motorcade had violated the country’s territorial waters, and that its agents were defending the country’s maritime integrity. Manhattan, as an Island, falls within Iran’s territorial waters, the country’s navy said in a statement. The statement also said the detainees were in good condition and that none of Iran’s vehicles suffered any damage in the incident. There was as yet no word on the state of the motorcade cars.
Police release hit-and-run terror attack footage
Two weeks after a Palestinian deliberately ran down two Israeli pedestrians, killing a man and seriously injuring a woman, Israel Police and the family of the victim allowed footage of the terror attack to be released Wednesday.
In the security camera footage, Khaled Koutineh is seen sharply deviating from his lane and ramming into the bus stop where 26-year-old Shalom Yohai Sherki and his 20-year-old girlfriend Shira Klein were standing on April 15.
Koutineh, a 37-year-old resident of the West Bank village of Anata just outside East Jerusalem, was charged on Monday with murdering Sherki and the attempted murder of Klein.
Victim of Palestinian vehicular attack in Jerusalem released from hospital
Two weeks after being seriously wounded in a Jerusalem vehicular terrorist attack that killed Shalom Yohai Cherki, Shira Klein, 24, was released from Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem on Thursday.
Klein was placed on a ventilator and sedated for several days after sustaining head and hand wounds during the late night attack carried out by Khaled Koutineh, at a French Hill bus stop on Haim Bar-Lev Boulevard.
Earlier this week, she was transferred from the intensive care unit to orthopedics, upon regaining consciousness.
Joint US-Israeli Anti-Tunneling Research Added to Defense Budget
Bipartisan bills allocating funds to joint U.S.-Israeli research and development of anti-tunneling technology were added to this year’s defense budget by a unanimous voice vote at the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, the Algemeiner has learned.
The projects authorized by the amendment, which was added to the National Defense Authorization Act, will seek to develop an anti-tunneling defense system that can protect Israel from terrorist attacks via tunnels, such as those carried out by Hamas in last summer’s war between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas.
The defense technology could also be used to safeguard American military bases, and U.S. national borders with Mexico and Canada, the legislation’s authors said.
The amendment combines segments from bills put forward by U.S. Representatives Gwen Graham (D-FL) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO).
“Our closest ally in the Middle East – Israel – lives under the constant threat of terrorist attacks from underground tunnels,” Rep. Graham said. “The US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act will launch an unprecedented new initiative to protect Israel from this dangerous menace. To secure peace, we must first help Israel secure their state from attacks. Iron Dome has saved countless civilian lives, and an anti-tunneling defense shield will save countless more.”
The Israel Defense Forces discovered 32 terror tunnels during last summer’s conflict between Hamas and the Jewish state. Fourteen of those tunnels crossed directly into Israel.
Israel returns 15 confiscated Gaza fishing boats
Israel has returned 15 fishing boats it seized in recent years off the Gaza Strip, the army said this week.
Palestinian fishermen said it was the first time Israel had given vessels back, and demanded the return of dozens more.
“The naval branch (navy) returned to Gaza 15 fishing boats which deviated from the Strip’s permitted fishing zone and were seized over the years,” an Israel Defense Forces statement said late Wednesday.
The tiny vessels were dragged back to shore by a boat from the Gaza fishermen’s union, an AFP photographer said.
Israel, which has imposed an eight-year blockade on Gaza for fear of arms smuggling, bans fishing beyond six nautical miles (11 kilometers) off the coast. Boats exceeding that limit are at risk of being considered suspicious, and may be fired upon as possible arms-smuggling vessels.
The Israeli army has intercepted a number of arms-smuggling vessels in the past.
New UN peace envoy visits Gaza for first time, calls for end to Israel's blockade
The UN's new envoy to the Middle East peace process made his first trip to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, calling for an end to Israel's 8-year blockade of the coastal enclave.
Nickolay Mladenov, who formerly served as Bulgaria's minister of foreign affairs from 2010 to 2013 and minister of defense from 2009 to 2010, replaced Robert Serry as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and his Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority in February.
"We in the United Nations, along with our partners in the international community, have a responsibility to ensure that Gaza is not just being reconstructed... but that the blockade which stops access to construction materials, to movement of people, goods... is lifted," AFP quoted Mladenov as saying in Gaza on Thursday.
Mladenov also lamented the failure to implement the Palestinian unity deal that Hamas and Fatah signed last year.
U.N. Renews Commitment to Perpetuate “Limbo-like State” of the Palestinians (satire)
Today the United Nations announced that the international community will not sit idly by while the fate of the Palestinians is decided, one way or the other. “We’ve kept significant progress being made for 67 years now, and we now know that the world is in agreement that this will not change,” stated Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
The Arab League appears to have decided on the framework of the plan, but the Palestinian Authority was not invited. “We know what’s best for us, er… I mean, our beloved Palestinians, and it’s important that we keep them in limbo for political capit- I mean, until the right peace deal is reached. Good things come to those who wait, you know!”
When asked why perpetuating the Palestinians’ situation would be preferable to solving it once and for all, Ban Ki-Moon responded simply, “Look, this is the one thing we’re really good at, why stop now? What would the next step even be? It’s uncharted territory, and to be honest we’re not all that interested in exploring it.”
Saudi Arabia Thwarts Massive ISIS Attack on U.S. Embassy
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry announced that it had thwarted a car bomb attack against the American embassy in Riyadh, and had arrested 93 people, mostly Saudi nationals, for ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The New York Times reported yesterday.
The ministry said in an statement that the suspects were accused of recruiting and training new members; testing explosives; gathering firearms; and plotting to attack residential areas and security facilities. They were arrested in six groups, it said, adding that most of the suspects had ties to the Islamic State extremist group and nearly all were Saudi citizens. One of the 93 suspects is a woman. …
For their part, the Islamic State’s leaders have called on their supporters to mount attacks inside Saudi Arabia. There have been a series of mainly small-scale attacks in recent months.
Saudi officials said last week that a pair of men accused of killing two policemen had received support from the Islamic State. Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that the second of those suspects had been detained.
New ISIS ‘Navy SEALs’ Video Makes Military Experts Chuckle
The Islamic State is promoting a new band of “special forces” with a laughable propaganda film that is not up to the new media team’s usual standards.
A group of dudes dressed in black play at Navy SEALs in the video, obtained by Vocativ, showing off their questionable lifting and swimming skills and their ability to clumsily sneak up on oblivious folks (in slow motion) and push them into the river or slit their throat.
“Just looking at the way they moved, the way they held their weapons, made me laugh,” James Dever, a retired Marines Corps sergeant major told Vocativ. “But I’m not a young person who knows nothing about skilled combat.”
A counterterrorism expert and former Navy helicopter pilot pointed out to Vocativ some of the obvious problems with the group’s tactics in the film, such as a water-staged attack in broad daylight, which is unusual, or the cotton clothing they’re wearing which, when wet, could blow their cover on land.
“The quality of training appears very rudimentary and just hokey in some parts,” Rick Nelson told Vocativ. “You must have an element of surprise. Nothing in the video shows a particular ability of attacking in a clandestine or covert matter.”
Middle Eastern States Debate Whether to Intervene in Baltimore (satire)
As riots in Baltimore continue to spiral out of control, several Middle Eastern leaders have publicly considered sending forces to help maintain some sense of order and stop the chaos from spilling over into neighboring states.
“We aren’t the world’s police, and we can’t be expected to intervene in such an unstable region every time the people rise up against their government,” explained Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. “At the same time, we have legitimate interests in ensuring Maryland doesn’t become a failed state given its proximity to Washington.”
While the Iraqi leader said he was against putting boots on the ground in Baltimore, he would not rule out airstrikes to help strengthen the increasingly-tenuous hold of the American regime. The Libyan Prime Minister, Abdullah al-Thani, said that Arab states must take action to make sure the unrest does not spread to the American capital just 30 miles away. However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was adamant that his military would not be pulled into the conflict in Baltimore.
“While we view the events in Baltimore with great concern, we’ve got our own issues to deal with and cannot afford to be nation-building overseas,” Ghani insisted. “Besides, even if our intention is just to put down the uprising in Baltimore, we could end up getting sucked into their civil war and still have our troops propping up the government 15 years from now.”

Posted By Ian to Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News at 4/30/2015 12:00:00 PM
The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria now count 2,771 Palestinians killed since the start of the Syrian civil war. 100 were killed in March alone.

Many of them could have been saved if it wasn't for the deep desire by Arabs to destroy Israel - and a conscious decision by "leader" Mahmoud Abbas.

In January 2013, Mahmoud Abbas bragged that he chose to let the Palestinians die rather than enter his territories.

Abbas told a group of Egyptian journalists in Cairo late Wednesday that Ban contacted Israel on his behalf.

Abbas said Ban was told Israel "agreed to the return of those refugees to Gaza and the West Bank, but on condition that each refugee ... sign a statement that he doesn't have the right of return (to Israel)."

"So we rejected that and said it's better they die in Syria than give up their right of return," Abbas told the group.

Abbas said this in Arabic, without any shame. Because his audience knows that the real purpose of the "right to return" is to destroy the Jewish state, and has nothing to do with "Palestinian rights."

Since the Yarmouk crisis escalated in recent weeks with ISIS taking over part of the camp, the Arab world and the media have shone a small spotlight on the area where so many Palestinian Arabs have been living. But they won't say anything about how Abbas had the chance to save them, and probably still can.

The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria is an offshoot of the Palestinian Return Centre. The major NGO dedicated to helping Palestinians subscrines to the same twisted, sickening philosophy that Mahmoud Abbas does - they only want to save them if they remain useful pawns to destroy Israel.

We have heard nothing negative about this outrageous statement by Mahmoud Abbas from Amnesty International, Oxfam or Human Rights Watch.  In fact, those groups purposefully misinterpret international law to justify Abbas' contention that there is a legal "right to return" for Palestinians - and their own antipathy towards Israel ensure that they will not disagree with Abbas' perverted morality that it is better for Palestinians to die than to give up a "right" that is literally nonexistent and that was created for the sole purpose of destroying Israel. (UN resolution 194 deliberately does not call it a "right" and the UN itself interpreted the resolution far more narrowly than Israel haters do today.)

It is scandalous that Mahmoud Abbas has not been called out for his despicable words that sealed the death sentence for thousands. And the silence from "human rights" organizations speaks volumes about their real desire to save lives when their pet Palestinians literally and explicitly prefer to see their people die.

Posted By Elder of Ziyon to Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News at 4/30/2015 10:00:00 AM
In December 2013, the European Court of Auditors released a report on their direct financial support to the Palestinian Authority.

Among the findings of the audit (which found billions of euros of support missing) was that thousands of PA workers were being paid to do nothing.

[T]he audit found indications that in Gaza a considerable number of civil servants were receiving salaries, partly funded by Pegase DFS, because they were eligible for support by virtue of being on the PA payroll but who were not going to work due to the political situation in Gaza (see paragraph 6). Out of 10 Gaza beneficiaries selected by the audit for interviews, three stated that they were not working, while one was absent. The audit also found that the State Audit and Administra-tive Control Bureau was obliged, in accordance with PA regulations, to pay salaries for its 90 staff members in Gaza, all of whom are unable to work. These findings are consistent with estimates based on data from interviews provided in a 2010 evaluation of Pegase contracted by the Commission which indicated that 22% and 24 % respectively of the staff employed by the PA Ministries of Health and Education in Gaza were not working at the time.

The EU is now making noises that the gravy train is over.

A European diplomat said the European Union informed the Palestinian Authority in a recent communication that Europe would not be able to continue financial support for the salaries of staff in the Gaza Strip while they aren't actually working. The diplomat, who preferred not to be named, told a local Arab newspaper that "it has become extremely difficult for the EU to continue to justify contributing to the payment of staff salaries in the Gaza Strip in the absence of a solution to this issue as these employees did not attend to their work since 2007".

The diplomat said, "The objective of direct financial assistance provided by the European Union to the Palestinian Authority is to enable them to provide basic services to citizens and enable them to continue their performance...In the absence of the ability to achieve this we have said to the Palestinian Authority that the European Union will not be able to provide open support to pay Palestinian Authority salaries to those who are not enrolled in their jobs."

"We can not defend to our parliaments the payment of salaries to employees who are not working."

The diplomat said that the return of thousands of employees in Gaza to their jobs in the education and health sectors could be done very quickly, especially in light of the urgent need in Gaza for employees in these fields. The solution to this issue must come quickly, he said.

Why did it take 16 months for the EU to even have this conversation with the PA?

It is interesting that even after the latest pretense of unity between Hamas and Fatah, the Fatah workers in Gaza are still not doing their jobs even in health and education. This shows yet again that Hamas cares far less about Gazans than it does about its own political desires.

Posted By Elder of Ziyon to Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News at 4/30/2015 08:00:00 AM

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