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Monday, December 31, 2018

From Ian:

JPost Editorial: The good side of 2018
Newspapers tend to be in the business of bad news far more than good news. “If it bleeds, it leads” is a well-known adage. The downside is we often forget how good things are. Between rockets from Gaza, terrorist attacks, corruption, murder and whatever else makes headlines most days, there are plenty of great events happening in Israel and the world each day. Here is some news from 2018 to remind us all to see the glass as half-full, as the secular year comes to a close.

Netta Barzilai became an international name and a national hero, after she and her chicken sounds brought Israel to its fourth Eurovision victory, the first in 20 years, bringing Israelis to the streets to celebrate and sing “I’m Not Your Toy.”

Netta was part of another major good news story in 2018: the first-ever official visit to Israel by a member of the British royal family, Prince William. This year, a prince and Superman – OK, actor Dean Cain, who played Superman on TV – visited Israel.

Beyond visiting royalty, this was a banner year for Israel’s foreign relations. Our ties expanded throughout the Middle East, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting Oman and other ministers jetsetting around the Persian Gulf. By Netanyahu’s count, 300 senior foreign dignitaries – presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, senators and leading parliamentarians – visited Israel this year.

Israeli disaster-relief experts helped people around the world. Israelis provided aid in California, Puerto Rico and Guatemala, where Sara Netanyahu was personally invited by the president’s wife to dedicate the efforts. In Thailand, emergency mobile communication technology developed by Israeli company Maxtech Networks played a key role in rescuing the youth soccer team trapped in a flooded cave, whose survival and rescue captured the world’s attention.

The US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy. We didn’t need them to tell us. It’s our eternal capital and has been that way for millennia, but it’s nice to get recognition. And US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley championed Israel repeatedly in that den of wolves.

David Collier: 2018 and Antisemitism, a year in review
To look back on antisemitism in 2018, I have split the year into calendar months, with each example representing a different element of the global battlefield.

I remember the end of 2017 as being part of a lonely battle. In November I recorded that there were 176 anti-Israel events taking place in the UK in a single month. By year-end we were just a handful shouting about the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, but few seemed to be listening. I didn’t realise back then, how much things were about to change.

January 2018 – Alison Chabloz
2018 Alison Chabloz2018 began just as 2017 ended, with me sitting amongst neo-Nazis and far-left antisemites. On January 10 2018 I was in court, for the early stages of the Alison Chabloz trial. Chabloz is a far-right Jew-baiter, a woman who composes songs that ridicule and deny the Holocaust. To add that extra dose of ‘spiteful’, Chabloz sets the lyrics to classic Jewish folk tunes.

Her journey to the court-room was a long one and this case highlights the difficulty of actually bringing even the most odious haters to justice.

Sitting amongst neo-Nazis in the gallery, people who cheered to songs about the Holocaust, was a very lonely place to be. Yet by the end of 2018, I was almost never alone. One of the greatest changes that occurred in 2018, was the ‘waking up’ of the Jewish community (along with their friends).

In May, Chabloz was found guilty. She was sentenced in June.
The Intellectual Dishonesty of 'I’m Just Criticizing Israel'
The playbook exploited by Marc Lamont Hill and countless other anti-Israel activists ranging from Linda Sarsour to Jimmy Carter, to former Pink Floyd front man, Roger Waters, is the following:

Step 1: Fabricate a non-existent Israeli law or policy, that, if real, would constitute a colossal human rights violation. Don’t be afraid to be dramatic. Ethnic cleansing has a real ring to it. And always remember to be as vague as possible. Use broad terms and generalizations, making your claims harder to challenge on specific grounds.

Step 2: Next, feign outrage about the existence of this newly concocted law, and justify any acts of terrorism against Israel under the guise of “resistance” against this law you just invented.

Step 3: If anyone points out that what you’re saying lacks any smidgeon of truth, simply reply, “I am just criticizing the Israeli government! Are you a fascist? Am I not allowed to criticize Israeli government policies?”

It goes without saying that criticism of Israel’s government is as kosher as criticism of any country’s government. The only catch is the criticism hinges on the issue under scrutiny being real. It requires specific criticism, aimed at an existing law or practice. Conversely, what borders on bigotry is blithely fabricating non-existent laws or practices — like, Israel’s perpetration of ethnic cleansing — and using them to undermine Israel’s existence. Self-avowed “critics” of Israel who are derided as addled anti-Semites exclusively focus their ire on laws they themselves imagine into existence. Not for the betterment of the Palestinian Arabs, but for the belittling of Israel.
Daily Freier losing ground to hot new satire site called “The Forward” (satire)
With 2018 drawing to a close, the Daily Freier reviewed its web traffic numbers and discovered that it has been consistently losing market share to a hot new competitor in the “Goofy Jewish Satire” niche market that calls itself “The Forward”. This wacky blog has popped up out of nowhere it appears, and is consistently putting out material that is funnier and more nuts than anything the Daily Freier has managed to produce. So did the Daily Freier just give up? Heck No! We put together a focus group! Yes, the Daily Freier gathered a focus group of Jews: Young and Old. Gay, Straight, and the Israeli guy who you think is Gay but ends up trying to hook up with your girlfriend. Reform, Conservative, Conservadox, Dati, Haredi, and Masorti. Americans, Canuckians, and…. Well you get the point. And if you think this comes cheap, then you haven’t purchased bagels and coffee recently, thank you very much. So anyhoo, we put a bunch of Jews in a room with copies of the Forward downloaded onto Kindles and stealthily recorded their reactions. Like that movie with Sigourney Weaver and the Gorillas. Except the Daily Freier was Sigourney Weaver. Let’s call it “Hebrews in the Mist“. So where were we? Oh yeah, the Focus Group. They LOVED the Forward! But don’t take our word for it, check out some of their reactions below!

“Hey, check this one out!” exclaimed “Married North Jersey Dentist” to the other people sitting at his table. “No, You Can’t Be A Feminist And A Zionist“, by Mariam Barghouti! You know, this might be the funniest thing produced by a Barghouti since Marwan invented the “Hunger Strike with Designated Snack Breaks” last year!“

“OK OK you need to see this!” giggled “Canadian-Israeli Woman” as she took a break from showing everyone pictures of her dogs. “It’s called ‘Lay Off Linda Sarsour’. I know! Linda! The woman who said that there is nothing creepier than Zionism! And accused Jews of secretly controlling America. Yes! her! So anyways, the article says that Jews only criticize Linda because they’re racists! Amazing! ……What’s that you say? It would be funnier if they also threw in some random stuff about Trump? Well say no more. They did that too!”

Meet Joe Truzman, our go-to source on Gaza and Palestinian terror groups
I am fascinated with the Middle East – particularly the security of the State of Israel in relation to its neighboring countries. There is always something happening of interest, whether it’s the militant groups in Gaza and West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iranian proxy militias in Syria or the Islamic State in northern Egypt. Israel is surrounded by enemies putting it in a unique situation where security-related events are constant.

This is where I provide material and analysis that you don’t see covered by international news organizations and most news related sources.

My name is Joe Truzman and I run a Twitter account and a weekly newsletter called GroundBrief. I focus on obtaining videos, pictures and other information regarding security related events.

I grew up in Canada and moved to the United States when I was 13 years old. When I was a child and into my teens, I remember flipping through the TV channels and if any news regarding Israel would pop-up, my father would immediately tell me to return to the program airing news about Israel. I would get stuck watching news about the first Intifada and everything else regarding the Middle East for hours. As the years went by, what was going on in Israel and the Middle East was always a topic at my parents house. It stuck with me as I became an adult and I began to moderately follow the news regarding Israel and the Middle East. In 2014, the Gaza war changed everything for me and I became very interested in the way Israel was fighting the militant groups in Gaza. For several years I followed anything regarding Gaza and Israel closely but never shared my thoughts and findings. I always kept it to myself and figured I was going to be informed about the news and that was it. It wasn’t until the assassination of Qassam Brigades engineer, Fadi Al-Batsh in early 2018, did I begin to share my findings on social media. The rest is pretty much history.

My goal is to bring into focus events happening on the ground backed up by analysis and interpretation to western audiences who normally don’t have access to this type of content.

Let’s be honest – when is the last time you saw a video on CNN of a grenade meant for IDF soldiers bouncing off the security fence at the Gaza border and detonating against the militants who threw it? Exactly my point. This is why I’m here – to provide content you don’t get to see with other news sources.
The color hate: Alice Walker's Israel controversy
For all of her damning assertions, Walker has never witnessed an Israeli soldier wantonly and maliciously shoot any Palestinian, yet alone a Palestinian child. Walker has never witnessed the IDF employ phosphorous in response to Hamas missiles. Nor has Walker ever witnessed Palestinians suffering “diabolical torture” at the hands of Israelis.

Likewise, Walker has never witnessed Palestinian doctors treating Jewish patients and Jewish doctors treating Palestinian patients in Israeli hospitals. Walker has never witnessed Israeli agronomists transferring the technology for growing crops under arid conditions to Palestinian farmers. Nor has Walker ever witnessed Palestinian students in class at one of Israel’s many institutions of higher education.

Noted author and poet Alice Walker, former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, award-winning American playwright Tony Kushner, and former US President Jimmy Carter are among a coterie of high profile personalities, Jews among them, who capitalize on their celebrity to demonize the state of Israel and Jews.

Contrary to their professional achievements and their contributions to society they, and others like them, suffer from a blind spot on the topic of Israel and Zionism. This allows them to traffic in bias and slander without any regard for facts or truth. And because of who they are many people have high regard for their opinions, even opinions on topics that have nothing to do with their field of expertise.

If something is to be learned from the case of Alice Walker it is that even a self-proclaimed icon of peace, justice, and universal brotherhood may draw the line when it comes to the Jews.
The new face of anti-Semitism is black
Farrakhan is still welcome on the public stage even though he now describes Jews as "termites" and argues they are the embodiment of Satan.

How does someone who spouts that venom get hugs and handshakes from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Maxine Waters of California, who attended one of his rallies?

I know nothing of the rapper 21 Savage. But he also apologized for the lyrics of his song and, like James, expressed amazement they were deemed offensive. Would he be as nonchalant if a white singer threw around such trite stereotypes about blacks?

As for James, it's hard to fathom the NBA superstar, who earns a $35.5 million salary and has recently likened himself to a slave, could be that clueless, particularly since he is so acutely attuned to any slight against his own people.

Years ago I wrote a column asking when Jews got moved to the back of the bus of victimhood. I questioned then why folks can say hideous things about Jews and not be driven from the spotlight (the Rev. Jesse Jackson). The question persists today.

Anti-Semitism is the most murderous force in history. It's not OK to engage in it as casually as James did, nor as whole-heartedly as Farrakhan does.

You don't get a pass because you're a member of a group that has also endured racism and discrimination. Hate is hate.
Descent to Hell: Identity Politics as the gate to Islamic theocracy
In the fall of 2015, a rather curious incident took place in the Knesset. A leader of the Arab party (Balad), Jamal Zahalka furiously attacked the Left. “You won’t even greet me. You are racist! … The far right is amicable at least: they say hello and smile at you. Everyone in the Labor party is a racist. You’ve invented racism!”

The Left has conveniently forgotten the incident, but they knew exactly what Zahalka meant. Genuine ideological racism transformed long ago and concurrently into the left's worldview and prerogative.

Democratic ideals, social justice and tolerance don’t rule the world anymore. The new ideology – a successor of failed totalitarian ideologies of the past century - governs the soul of the West, and it’s called Identity Politics.

The product of a vicious love of Red and Brown dogmas, it is pseudo-scientific and it divides people into racial-class categories with a rigid hierarchy.
  • The white Christians and Jews - exploiters a priori, the embodiment of financial manipulation and conspiracy – are at the lower level of the social pyramid.
  • Above them, the second level of this hierarchy is occupied by people with various pathologies (homosexuals, transgenders, disabled) and women, who by default belong to the oppressed class. They resemble gigantic peasant masses in the writings of Marxists: deprived, but hardly aware of their own unhappiness due to the absence of “Class Consciousness”.
  • “Proletarian masses” represented by the Third World (from Venezuela to Bangladesh) and suppressed by White imperialism, are positioned above them in the third level.
  • The top of the social pyramid is occupied by the vanguard of the “global progressive forces” (like the Communist party or National Socialist German Workers' party) – embodied by Black American organizations, Palestinians and various Islamist groups.

A human being, as a thinker who is responsible for his own destiny and the fate of others, has no place in this scheme. Instead, there are faceless groups of “beneficial insects” and “harmful insects” (a precise copy of Marxist theory). The former deserve all the support, the latter should be expelled and persecuted in every possible way.
Toby Moses: Why I’ll never again insist: I’m not Jewish
It’s never a good sign when someone sitting across from you over dinner starts crying. Less so when you’re in a friend’s flat, the person with tears rolling down their cheeks is a stranger and you’re the one to blame. Of course, I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong. She, a Jewish American, had been taken aback when I’d been clarifying for some friends (yet again) that, no, I’m not Jewish, yes, my name is Moses, no my parents aren’t Jewish, I do have curly hair, that doesn’t make me … I was adamant.

The effect it had on the one Jewish person around the table took me aback. “How can you deny it? It’s so sad that you’re ashamed of your Jewish identity, your heritage.” And then the tears. I quietly slipped out of the room.

The thing is, as hard as it is to believe for anyone who knows my name or even just sees me (I’ve been mistaken for a rabbi), I’m not Jewish, not in any way I consider meaningful – and I haven’t changed my mind about that. My mother isn’t Jewish, her family isn’t, my dad’s parents were Jewish, but they never practised the religion. There wasn’t any of the cultural aspect in my childhood, no Friday night dinners or happy Hanukahs to remember. Sure, I have Jewish heritage. Two of my grandparents were Jews, many Jews would consider me to be half-Jewish and, of course, the Nazis would have considered me to be Jewish. But I have none of the familial, cultural or religious trappings of Judaism; it simply isn’t part of my identity.

And yet, the past couple of years have made me question why I felt the need to push back so hard whenever someone told me I was Jewish. Because people don’t ask me, they tell me, and that made me bristle. But there are more important things than people defining who I am for me.
ISIS Urges UK Labour Party to Tone Down Anti-Semitic Rhetoric (satire)
In a rare call for restraint from the terrorist group, ISIS’ leadership has criticized the UK’s Labour party for its anti-Semitic rhetoric, calling recent comments and online posts from the party’s leaders “a bit much.”

“Listen, we hate the Jews as much as anyone, but you can’t just go around calling for Israel to be relocated to America, or saying Hitler was a Zionist,” ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told The Mideast Beast. “You have to show some sensitivity. Hell, one guy even compared Israel to ISIS. I take that personally – we go out of our way to be the biggest shitheads on the planet, and I’m not letting some British bigot take that away from us.”

The Labour party in the UK has been in turmoil amid revelations that at least 50 members were suspended for anti-Semitic or racist comments. While the controversy has earned the group the backing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, other terrorist groups have sought to distance themselves.
Guardian Math: Counting Only in Arabic
We don’t know for certain who killed poor Aisha Rabi, but for both OCHA and the Guardian to ignore Police misgivings about the case is heavily biased reporting. Yet that event takes up about half of the Guardian story, which questions how come the case of the murder of two Israelis in the Barkan industrial zone was solved so quickly, while this one is still pending – but mentions nothing about police doubts regarding the husband’s involvement. In fact, the husband stars in much of the Guardian report.

Finally, here’s where both the Guardian and the UN reports reveal their ugly, anti-Semitic core: they ignore the numbers posted by the IDF regarding Arab violence in Judea and Samaria in 2018:

Stone throwing at Israeli soldiers and civilians – 2,057
Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli soldiers and civilians – 893
Shootings – 33
Stabbing – 17
Smuggled cash to finance terrorism – 2,156,089 shekel ($571,721.88)
Illegal weapons (not including BB guns) – 406

The UN report does mention that three Arabs were killed by Israelis while seven Israelis were killed by Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Two of the killed Arabs had just killed or attempted to kill Israelis when they were shot dead.
BBC’s photos of the year include context-free image
The feature “2018 in pictures: Striking photojournalism from around the world” was sub-headed “The BBC News picture team has selected some of the most arresting images by photojournalists from around the world in 2018” and among the twenty-eight chosen images was one taken by a Reuters photographer that was presented as follows:

“A Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier in October during clashes over an Israeli order to shut down a Palestinian school in the town of as-Sawiyah, south of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.”

The part of that story that the BBC chose not to tell was reported by AFP in October thus:

“Clashes broke out in the occupied West Bank on Monday after Israeli forces ordered the closure of a Palestinian school, AFP correspondents said.

The Israeli army said the school had been the source of months of violence, with stones thrown at a nearby major road used by its forces and Israeli settlers.

The school serves the Palestinian villages of As-Sawiya and Al-Lubban south of Nablus and is located on a main road through the West Bank. […]

The Israeli army said the school “been the site of popular terror acts and riots” in recent months.

“In response to the large number of popular terror acts endangering Israeli and Palestinian civilians driving on the road… the area of the school was declared a closed military zone.””

It would of course not have been at all difficult for the BBC’s ‘In Pictures’ team to add that relevant context to the photo caption.
Philippines to buy SPYDER air defense missile system from Israel
The Philippines and Israel are set to sign a deal worth millions for the purchase of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems SPYDER medium-range air defense missile system, as well as additional Hermes long-range drones.

The purchase of the SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) will be purchased by Manila under the Revised AFP Modernization Program Horizon 2 phase by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for its Ground-Based Air Defense System (GBADS) acquisition project.

According to the MaxDefense blog, the selection of the system has already been passed to the Department of National Defense (DND) for negotiation with Israel’s Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

The decision to acquire the SPYDER was supported and approved by the outgoing PAF commander Lt.-Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar who was quoted by local press as saying during his outgoing remarks at the change of command ceremony at the Villamor Air Base that Manila was “looking forward to the conclusion of three big contracts by early next year” including 16 BlackHawk helicopters from the US, six T-129 attack helicopters from Turkey and three ground based air defense systems from Israel.

During the remarks, Kintanar also said the PAF will also be acquiring two new radars from IAI and some 13 Hermes UAVs from Elbit Systems.

According to foreign media reports, Israel is considered a leading exporter of drones, with Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit selling UAVs to countries including Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico and Singapore.
IsraAID Launching New Aid Initiative to Train Medical, Mental-Health Professionals
The disaster-relief non-governmental organization IsraAID will launch a new, international initiative to train doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers and mental-health professionals to respond to disasters. The IsraAID Humanitarian Professionals Network (IPHN) will launch on Jan. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.

“IsraAID draws on Israeli social innovation and expertise to benefit people in need around the world,” said Seth Davis, executive director of organization’s branch in the United States. “We are now leveraging our organization’s unique capabilities to train professionals in the United States interested in developing life-saving skills and joining humanitarian relief missions globally, hand in hand with professionals from Israel.”

“The network will equip skilled individuals in hands-on disaster relief experience and provide enhanced capacity if local disaster were to strike,” added Davis.

Current IsraAID missions have provided assistance in multiple disasters including the November 2018 wildfires in California; violence in Uganda; cyclones in Vanuatu; and refugee crises in Greece, Kenya and Bangladesh.
Pittsburgh Steelers donate $70,000 to Jewish community
The Pittsburgh Steelers handed a check for $70,000 to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Fund for Victims of Terror on Sunday.

The money was raised by the team and its partners from the sale of merchandise branded with the "Stronger Than Hate" logo. The logo, which was created by Tim Hindes after the antisemitic massacre of 11 Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh in late October, modified the Steelers' emblem to include a Star of David and the message "Stronger Than Hate."

In early November, the team partnered with the Underground Printing company to sell shirts with the logo, with all the proceeds benefiting the Jewish Federation.

“On behalf of Tim Hindes, the folks at Underground Printing and the Steelers, we are pleased to present the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh a check to help support the families involved in the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue,” said Art Rooney, president of the Steelers, upon presenting the check. “Our community unified to help the victims of the attack on our neighbors, friends and worshippers in Squirrel Hill. Our hearts remain heavy, but we are thankful to everyone who was able to contribute to the efforts to provide emotional and financial support during an unthinkable time in our city.”

Meryl Ainsman, the chairman of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, was present to accept the funds from the team.
Doubling down on Israel, Park Avenue Synagogue brings huge group to Holy Land
On a cold, wet evening in the last week of December, members of New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue filled a gigantic Jerusalem banquet hall festooned with blue and white balloons. As the music pumped and the food and alcohol flowed freely, they celebrated 70 years of Israeli independence and 136 years since their congregation’s founding.

With the Park Avenue Synagogue’s 450-strong contingent, the eight-day mission was possibly the largest Jewish congregational trip ever to visit Israel. This was the latest in a succession of annual visits organized by the synagogue over the last decade and a half. None of the previous shul trips, however, reached the size of this latest one in 2018, the year in which Israel saw a record 4 million visitors.

At a time when many American Jews question their commitment to Israel over matters such as religious pluralism and Israel’s 50-year occupation of the West Bank, the Park Avenue Synagogue’s latest trip to the Jewish state stands out.

But even as many boogied on the dance floor along with costumed early Zionist and Israeli leaders Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, the congregants weren’t stuck in the past. For many, the trip offered a means to explore the future of their relationships with Israel, given that Conservative Judaism continues to be marginalized — if not disparaged — by Israel’s rabbinic authorities.

Through their arrival in Israel in such numbers, Park Avenue Synagogue’s leaders and members are voting with their feet. As in the past, their support for Israel is steadfast. But now it comes with caveats and demands for acceptance.

“If you have concerns, you have the choice of sitting on the sidelines or taking a seat at the table. We are expressing both our support and our concern by showing up,” said Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, the spiritual leader of the synagogue for the past 10 years.
Israel’s population nears 9 million on eve of 2019
Israel’s population stands at 8,972,000 as it readies to enter 2019, 174,000 more people than a year before, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

Of that number, 6,668,000 (74.3%) are Jews, 1,878,000 are Arabs (20.9%) and 426,000 (4.8%) are other.

In 2018 the population grew by 174,000, or 2%, the average rate of growth of Israeli society over the past decade.

Natural population growth accounted for 81% of the increase with over 100,000 added to the Jewish population, 37,000 to the Arab community and another 3,500 to other communities.

The number of babies born was 185,000 and there were 28,000 new immigrants, the CBS said. A further 12,000 other people came to the country, including returning citizens and non-citizens.

About a third of new immigrants came from Russia, 19.6% from Ukraine, 8% from France, a similar number from the US, 4.9% from Asia, and 1.6% from Africa.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
Nearly six years ago I gave a lecture at Yeshiva University on how to answer anti-Israel arguments. Since the lecture was over an hour and twenty minutes, I decided to break it up into 20 sections, one each to answer one popular anti-Israel argument.

Here's part 4.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
From Ian:

Ten New York Times Journalists Accuse Israel of ‘Possibly a War Crime’
The Times article concludes by claiming that Najjar “has become a symbol, perhaps not of what either side had hoped, but of a hopeless, endless conflict and the lives it wastes.”

That’s a dodge, because the gist of the rest of the piece is that it’s not the “conflict” that killed her, but an Israeli sniper, in what was “possibly a war crime.” And now, thanks to the work of at least ten Times journalists and whatever editors decided to set them loose on this story and to give it prominent play, her life isn’t a “waste,” but rather has become a valuable propaganda tool for the Palestinian Arabs, who can now use her death to depict Israel to the Times audience as reckless murderers, and Israelis as war criminals, or at least “possibly” war criminals.

None of this is to say that the Israeli troops defending the border with Gaza performed perfectly, or that there isn’t room for journalism that can help Israel do a better job at it going forward. No human is perfect. US police and American troops accidentally kill people, too, and Palestinian Arab terrorists intentionally kill people. For whatever reason, though, the Times has decided that this Gaza death is worth the time of ten journalists and three pages of the Sunday newspaper, while the death of an Israeli American, Ari Fuld, wasn’t deemed fit to print by the Times at all.

If one were to take a Timesian approach, one would write it with a question headline: “Times Pays More Attention To a Palestinian Death Than to an Israeli American One. Was It an Accident?” And then one would weasel around the issue: “the Times journalism appears to have been careless at best, and possibly a blood libel.” But I’ll reject that approach and be more direct and forthright. The New York Times “investigation,” for all its dignified trappings, is just the same old Israel-bashing you can get for free on any extreme right or extreme left Internet site or social media feed. Save yourself the time and the money and the heartburn and skip it.
After damning report, IDF says it is probing killing of Gazan medic in June
The Israeli military on Sunday responded to a New York Times report that questioned its use of live fire in an incident along the Gaza border on June 1, in which a Palestinian medic, 21, was killed when a soldier fired into a crowd of protesters.

The IDF said the army’s internal investigations body is “probing to clarify the reasons behind the death of Razan al-Najjar. The results of the investigation will be sent to the military advocate general upon their completion.”

For its investigation, The Times analyzed over 1,000 photographs and videos of the incident, interviewed over 30 eyewitnesses, spoke to Israeli and Palestinian officials and ballistics experts, and worked with the Israeli-run company Forensic Architecture to build a 3D rendering of the shooting, which also integrated drone and cellphone footage.

“The bullet that killed her, The Times found, was fired by an Israeli sniper into a crowd that included white-coated medics in plain view. A detailed reconstruction, stitched together from hundreds of crowd-sourced videos and photographs, shows that neither the medics nor anyone around them posed any apparent threat of violence to Israeli personnel,” it said.

“Though Israel later admitted her killing was unintentional, the shooting appears to have been reckless at best, and possibly a war crime, for which no one has yet been punished,” the report added.

According to The Times, the bullet that killed Najjar also injured two other medics.
Too Big to Fail? How UNRWA Fails the Palestinians — and the World
To the consternation of many, the US government will no longer provide $350 million a year to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the Trump administration says that it may cut more money for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some analysts and pundits claim that this decision will cause more hardship and violence in Gaza and the West Bank, and plunge other areas of the Middle East into unrest. This is unlikely to occur.

The prophets of UNRWA’s impending doom underestimate its political usefulness. UNRWA, which was founded in 1949, is simply too valuable a political asset to fail. Its existence guarantees that Palestinian refugees and the contested right of return remain a generational and prioritized political fixture in international fora. Consequently, Arab and other states use the demise of the Palestinians to generate political capital by lambasting Israel for its subjugation of the Palestinians, and for instigating a “humanitarian disaster” in the Gaza Strip.

These states have a vested political interest in UNRWA, and there are already early indications that the EU, Ireland, Jordan, and Germany will pledge further support to make up for the current budgetary pitfall.

Much of UNRWA’s and its backers’ achievement in generating this political capital derives from their strategic interest to maintain the Palestinian right of return, and the Palestinian refugee, on the international political agenda. Former Commissioner-General to UNRWA Karen Abu-Zayed has stated that “Palestine refugees are the focus of the Agency’s thinking, planning and activities. Promoting their interests as individuals with rights and entitlements under international law and ensuring their well-being and long-term human development are the engines that will continue to drive all aspects of UNRWA’s activities.”

What is surprising is how UNRWA has ingeniously manipulated commonly accepted international humanitarian law and the 1951 UNHCR Convention definitions of a refugee. Why? Because by changing the definition of a Palestinian refugee, they have ensured that the Palestinian refugee issue can never be solved. This has turned UNRWA’s original temporary relief mandate into a quasi-governmental and permanent political fixture in the West Bank and Gaza.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian-American sentenced to life in prison by PA for selling properties to Jews
A Palestinian court in Ramallah sentenced a Palestinian-American to life in prison with hard labor on Monday, after finding him guilty of selling a house in the Old City of Jerusalem to a Jewish Israeli organization.

The man was identified as Issam Akel, a resident of east Jerusalem, who was arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces in October.

The story of the incarceration of the 53-year-old Akel, a US citizen, was first reported by The Jerusalem Post earlier this year.

The Palestinian Grand Criminal Court found Akel guilty of “attempting to cut off a part of the Palestinian land and adding them to a foreign country.”

The verdict was issued after a one-week trial.

Akel worked for one of the PA ministries and a hospital in east Jerusalem, according to Palestinian sources.
It remains unclear how he was arrested by PA security forces. As a resident of east Jerusalem, he holds an Israeli ID card that gives him immunity against being arrested or prosecuted in a PA court.

Some reports said that Akel was arrested while he was staying in Ramallah. Other reports, however, claimed that he had been kidnapped from east Jerusalem and taken to Ramallah.
No Palestinian-Israel Peace in 2019 — but Here Are Some Developments We Can Expect
For Israel, 2019 will likely bring great achievements but also great disappointments.

The achievements will include: continued growth of Israel’s innovation economy; increased tourism; and development of a broad range of new inventions, along with drugs and devices to help people deal with many severe health issues.

The disappointments will include: continued Iranian-induced terrorist attacks and looming threats of war; endless hostility from the halls of the United Nations and the European Parliament; and the continued Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement — waging asymmetrical economic and cultural warfare – seeking to demonize, isolate, and ultimately eliminate the Jewish state.

Despite the best efforts of President Trump, his senior advisers and son-in-law Jared Kushner to come up with a peace plan acceptable to the Palestinians and Israelis, they are taking on an impossible task at a time of new elections and political upheaval in Jerusalem, and an aging, corrupt, and unrepresentative Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

Make no mistake: Israelis yearn for the day when their 18-year-olds no longer have to devote two years of their young lives to put themselves in harm’s way. They want to live in peace with their Arab neighbors.

Israel today provides its Arab citizens, who comprise nearly one-fifth of the population, with more rights and a higher living standard than are enjoyed in Arab nations. But continuing Palestinian terrorism at its southern and northern borders — and in the West Bank — forces Israel to take significant security precautions, as any nation would when faced with similar threats.
Israel, U.S. slated to leave UNESCO today to protest anti-Israel bias
Israel and the United States are slated to leave the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific organization today over its anti-Israel bias.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is expected to make an announcement on the matter later today.

Israel has been a member state of UNESCO since 1949. In the last 17 years, the global cultural body has registered nine sites within the country on its World Heritage List.

But it’s pro-Palestinian stances has created increasing friction with both countries.

In 2011, both countries halted payment of their annual fees after UNESCO became the first UN body to recognize Palestine as a state in 2011. Israel now owes UNESCO $8.5 million.

Both countries lost voting rights in the organization in 2013 over their failure to pay dues, but maintained all other participation rights.

The situation intensified in 2016 after the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states pushed forward resolutions at the United Nations Executive Board that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, describing the most holy sites in Judaism solely by their Muslim names of al-Haram al-Sharif and the Buraq Plaza. They also passed texts disavowing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

In addition in 2017, the World Heritage Committee voted to inscribe Hebron’s Old Town and the Tomb of the Patriarchs to the state of Palestine. The inscription focused heavily on the city’s Muslim history after the year 1250, in spite of the city’s Biblical and Jewish roots.
US State Dept: U.S. Confirms Israel's "Right to Self-Defense" Against Iran
The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian regional actions that endanger Israeli national security and the safety of the Israeli people. Iranian support of and supply to terrorist groups in Syria and across the region that have the clear intent and capability to strike Israel are unacceptable. The United States fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism, and we will continue to ensure that Israel has the military capacity to do so decisively. The commitment of the Trump Administration and the American people to ensuring Israel’s security is both enduring and unshakable.
Iran’s Khamenei: Palestinians will soon establish government in Tel Aviv
Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khameini predicted on Monday that the Palestinians would soon be able to “establish a government in Tel Aviv.”

Hosting the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Tehran, the Iranian supreme leader also hailed the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel, arguing that the most recent exchange of violence between Israel and terrorists groups in Gaza, which ended with a ceasefire, heralded Israel’s imminent demise.

“Palestine will strongly persist, and by the grace of God, the Palestinian nation’s ultimate victory will come true in the near future,” the ayatollah told Ziad al-Nakhala, who became PIJ’s leader in late September.

“As for the recent years, the victory of the Palestinian people has not meant being able to establish a government in Tel Aviv;— of course that will come true by God’s help,” Khameini added, according to a readout of the meeting posted on his official website.

“However, the main victory has been the fact that the Zionist regime — which Arab armies failed to defeat — was brought to its knees by the Palestinian people and the resistance; and by God’s will, you will achieve greater victories.”

Khameini chose to refer to Tel Aviv, when the seat of Israel’s government is Jerusalem. Many in the international community refuse to recognize the city as Israel’s capital, but expect it to become the shared capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Iran slams Brazil plan to move embassy, but says ties to ‘continue’
Iran has denounced Monday plans by Brazil’s newly elected president to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said that such a move “will not help with peace, stability, security and retrieval of the Palestinian people’s rights.” He added, however, that “relations with Brazil will eventually be continued.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is visiting Brazil, said Sunday that Brazil’s incoming president had told him it was only a matter of time until Brazil moved its embassy to Jerusalem. “It’s not a question of if, just a question of when,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu had announced his trip to Brazil following a November 1 tweet from Jair Bolsonaro indicating he intends to move the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following in the footsteps of US President Donald Trump. Bolsonaro later backtracked by saying “it hasn’t been decided yet.”

Jerusalem’s fate is one of the most divisive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nearly all countries maintain embassies in Tel Aviv, and the US decision to move its embassy earlier this sparked visceral opposition from the Palestinians.
Israeli Spy Chief Sees Possible Threat From Iraq as Iran’s Clout Grows
Iran could use its growing clout in Iraq to turn the Arab country into a springboard for attacks against Israel, the top Israeli intelligence official said on Monday.

Israel sees the spread of Tehran’s influence in the region as a growing threat, and has carried out scores of air strikes in civil war-torn Syria against suspected military deployments and arms deliveries by Iranian forces supporting Damascus.

Iraq, which does not share a border with Israel, is technically its enemy but was last an open threat in the 1991 Gulf war. After a US-led invasion in 2003 toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, Israel has worried that the country’s Shi’ite majority could tilt to Tehran.

“Iraq is under growing influence of the (covert Iranian foreign operations unit) Qods Force and Iran,” Major-General Tamir Hayman, the chief of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Tel Aviv.

With US President Donald Trump signaling he sought to disengage from the region, Hayman said, the Iranians may “see Iraq as a convenient theater for entrenchment, similar to what they did in Syria, and to use it as a platform for a force build-up that could also threaten the State of Israel.”
Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko to visit Israel amid Russia tensions
Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko is scheduled to visit Israel in mid-January, at a time of complicated relations between Israel and Russia due to Russia's presence in Syria.

The foreign ministry announced Poreshekno's visit on Monday. The Ukrainian president, whose country is in confrontation with Russia over Crimea, will be making his third visit to Israel as president.

He came in 2014 for a state visit and again in 2016 for the funeral of former prime minister Shimon Peres.

In mid-December, Israel for the first time voted against Russia, in favor of Ukraine, in a resolution dealing with the Crimean issue. The resolution “voiced “grave concern over the progressive militarization of Crimea” and called on Moscow to “end its temporary occupation of Ukraine’s territory.”
Belgium Being ‘Flooded’ by Asylum Seekers from Gaza
Belgium is being flooded by migrants from Gaza, according to reports posted on Joods Actueel, a Belgian (Flemish) Jewish website.

According to the reports, Belgium’s former Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken stated in a video message on Facebook that he ‘understands the reaction of the Jewish community when it comes to the massive influx of Palestinians from Gaza to our country.’

“One hundred and ninety-one asylum seekers were admitted today,” Francken wrote. “The largest group of young single men from Gaza. I want my quota to be reinstated and my removal campaign to be put back online. Please share this.”

Francken accused his successor, Maggie De Block, of raising his former quota of 50 asylum requests per day, and denounced the termination of the social media removal campaigns. Since his video was posted about a week ago, it has been viewed more than 366,000 times and shared nearly 11,300 times.

As the number of migrants from Gaza is rising, so too is the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Belgium. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Belgium region's kosher slaughter ban goes into effect
A ban on kosher slaughter by the Flanders region of Belgium will go into effect tomorrow, after legislation prohibiting animal slaughter without pre-stunning was passed in the region’s parliament in July 2017.

Slaughter according to Islamic law will also be banned under the new law.

The Wallonia region of southern Belgium passed legislation banning kosher slaughter in May 2017 that will go into effect in September 2019.

Jewish law requires that an animal be healthy and uninjured before slaughter, but pre-stunning injures the animal and therefore cannot be used.

“That provinces within Belgium, the law-making capital of Europe, have passed this type of anti-religious measure is an affront to the European values we all hold so dear,” said Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis and Chief Rabbi of Moscow.

“Time and again, the Jewish community is told by senior EU officials that there is no Europe without the Jews, [but] these bans undermine those statements and put Jewish life at risk. We urge EU leaders to address this directly to the governments of member states. Words are weak when actions hurt. We will continue to make those points to officials when we bring together hundreds of rabbis for our biennial conference in Belgium this spring.”

Goldschmidt said the ban should serve as “a wake-up call” to Jewish communities across Europe to the necessity of building ties with national governments.
IDF annual report: 1,000 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in 2018
One thousands rockets and mortars were fired from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip into southern Israel over the past year, a dramatic rise from the past three years when there were less than 100 in total.

According to statistics released by the IDF on Sunday, of the 1,000 rockets and mortars fired from the Strip, 250 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System and 45 projectiles fell in urban areas.

The majority of the rockets and mortars were fired into southern Israel in late November after a botched IDF commando raid in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis. In the span of 48 hours, close to 500 rockets and mortars were launched, including a Kornet anti-tank missile fired at a bus.

The IDF has struck Gaza a total of 865 times over the past year in response to the firing of rockets towards southern Israel.

While almost every year since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 the number of rockets fired towards Israel was in triple digits, 2018 has seen the most serious peak of violence between Israel and terror groups in the strip like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

In comparison, a total of 35 projectiles were fired towards Israel in 2017, 15 the previous year, and 21 in 2015 for a total of 71 rockets launched from the coastal enclave by terrorist groups.
Palestinian convicted of murdering British student in Jerusalem attack
The Jerusalem District Court on Monday convicted a Palestinian man for the murder of a British exchange student in an attack on Jerusalem’s light rail in April 2017.

Jamil Tamimi stabbed to death 21-year-old Hannah Bladon, who was in Israel as part of a study abroad program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

According to the plea bargain, Tamimi will serve 18 years in prison, instead of a life sentence, and admit to his guilt while being exempted from paying Bladon’s family financial compensation, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

The family was said to have expressed outrage at the arrangement with Tamimi.

Prosecuting attorney Sagiv Ozeri told Kan that Bladon was not killed in a terror attack and that medical experts said he was mentally ill.

“This is a shocking murder, without any nationalist element, carried out by a mentally ill person,” Ozeri said.

“We know that no punishment will give succor to or heal a suffering family,” said Ozeri. “Accordingly, in view of the severity of the offense, and after the family members did not object to it, the prosecution proposed 18 years in prison, which would ensure that the defendant spends all, if not the majority of the remainder of his life, behind bars.”
Fatah: Hamas has arrested 500 of our men in Gaza
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction claimed on Monday that Hamas has arrested 500 of its activists and officials in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah spokesmen said the arrests were designed to prevent the men from celebrating the 54th anniversary of the launching of its first attack against Israel.

“Our sons have been arrested [by Hamas] because of their insistence on celebrating this anniversary,” said Atef Abu Seif, a senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, he added, was “kidnapping Fatah men from the streets, raiding their homes and confiscating posters and other material that were supposed to be used during our rallies.” He also accused Hamas of torturing some of the detainees.

Recently, the PA security forces used force to disperse Hamas supporters who took to the streets of Hebron and Nablus to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

Jamal Muheissen, another senior Fatah official, said the Hamas crackdown will not stop the faction from proceeding with its plan to hold rallies throughout the Gaza Strip.

Fatah officials in the West Bank on Monday accused supporters of deposed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan of helping Hamas in its crackdown on their members.
Sr. official: Trump assured Netanyahu Syrian withdrawal will be gradual
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Donald Trump in a recent phone call to ensure that the withdrawal of US troops from Syria will be done gradually and over an extended period of time, a senior diplomatic official said Monday in Rio de Janeiro.

The phone call came just a couple days before Trump's surprise announcement last month that the US would withdraw its 2,000 troops from Syria.

The official said that Netanyahu will be meeting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brasilia on Tuesday and discuss the Syrian issue. The two men will be attending the inauguration of Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

Netanyahu is also expected to meet US National Security advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem on Sunday to discuss the same matter. Bolton will be on a regional tour that will also take him to Turkey.
Seth Frantzman: Why eastern Syria matters to everyone in the Middle East
The Kurdish success in eastern Syria is also seen as a threat. Turkey views the area as a center of PKK activity which matters to Ankara because since 2015 Turkey has been fighting against a PKK insurgency. Turkey has sought to strike at PKK members in northern Iraq, to reach around behind eastern Syria and cordon off the area. Turkey also intervened in northern Syria and Afrin in northwestern Syria to prevent the YPG from expanding. Turkey now wants to intervene in eastern Syria as a final part of its campaign against the PKK. The US prevented this with its presence.

For Russia, eastern Syria is important because it is one more area that it can help the Syrian regime return to Damascus control and a place it can play a role as a mediator, which increases Moscow’s prestige in the region. Russia helped mediate between Iran and Turkey at Astana, Sochi, Geneva and Idlib. In each place, Russia grew in influence as the one country everyone can go to, replacing the role the US used to play in the region. Eastern Syria would be another feather in Moscow’s cap.

For Iran, eastern Syria may also be important. It has militias that it backs along the Euphrates river. It would like to have influence and also to prevent an ISIS-resurgence. Already Humam al-Hamoudi, a member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq has claimed the US withdrawal will fuel ISIS resurgence. He didn’t say this to encourage the US to stay, but rather to encourage Iraq and Iran to play a greater role. Press TV in Iran highlighted this. Soon Iran’s media will be pushing for more involvement, via Iraq, part of its desire to carve out a corridor of influence across Syria.

The US appears to be walking away, but there are voices in the US who want to continue to wield US influence in eastern Syria. In addition US allies such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Kurdish region in northern Iraq will want to play a role. The Gulf countries are re-establishing relations with Damascus, which might lead them to play a financial role in rebuilding eastern Syria. It’s clear that media in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are concerned about what might happen as Turkey, Russia and Iran angle for control.

For Syria the end game is clear. It wants eastern Syria back. Initially in some kind of agreement with the SDF or YPG, it will seek to slowly gobble up the area after being surprised by the speed with which the US appears to be leaving. This doesn’t mean the SDF or other entities, such as the YPG, connected to it are finished. The area is of great importance and these groups have had almost half a decade to put down roots openly, after years of living in the shadows under the Assad regime. It also doesn’t mean the extremist networks of ISIS or the networks of the Syrian rebels are finished. ISIS still holds territory and many of these areas have lived free of the regime for almost eight years. None of this will go quietly into the night.
Graham More Upbeat on Syria Troop Withdrawal After Trump Meeting
A senior Republican US senator said he emerged from a White House meeting with President Donald Trump on Sunday reassured that Trump is committed to defeating Islamic State even as he plans to withdraw American troops from Syria.

Senator Lindsey Graham had warned that removing all 2,000 US troops from Syria would hurt national security by allowing Islamic State to rebuild, betraying US-backed Kurdish fighters of the YPG militia battling remnants of the militant group, and enhancing Iran’s ability to threaten Israel.

During a morning television interview, Graham said he would ask Trump to slow down the troop withdrawal, which was announced earlier this month and drew widespread criticism.

An ally of Trump, although he has opposed some of his foreign policy decisions, Graham was more upbeat after the meeting.

“We talked about Syria. He told me some things I didn’t know that made me feel a lot better about where we’re headed in Syria,” Graham, an influential voice on national security policy who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters at the White House.

“We still have some differences but I will tell you that the president is thinking long and hard about Syria — how to withdraw our forces but at the same time achieve our national security interests,” Graham said.
Amb. Robert S. Ford (WaPo): The U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Is Essentially Correct
Many observers have asserted that the U.S. withdrawal from Syria gives victory there to Russia, Iran and the Syrian government. That's absurd. Bashar al-Assad's regime already controls two-thirds of Syria, including all of the major cities.

The portion of Syria that U.S. forces control alongside their Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) allies is mostly either desert or drought-prone plains. The oil fields there produce high-sulfur, low-value crude, and production has long been diminishing. In sum, holding northeastern Syria would not have enabled Washington to leverage any important concessions from Damascus, Tehran or Moscow.

The Syrian Kurds have always allowed Damascus to keep its security offices open in northeastern Syria. If anything, the Syrian Kurds prefer the deployment of Syrian government forces along the Turkish border to deter Ankara. Agile Russian diplomacy should be able to secure the deal for a deployment of Syrian government forces into the region formerly controlled by the U.S.

Nor will the U.S. withdrawal be a game changer for Israeli security. Already, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, a former chief of the research division of Israeli military intelligence, noted that the U.S. troops' contribution against the Iranian forces in Syria was "marginal to zero."

If Iran tries to build a land bridge from Tehran to its allies in Lebanon, the Israeli Air Force is more than capable of interdicting those convoys.

Critics also warn that the U.S. withdrawal could lead to a resurgence of the Islamic State. This is possible, but U.S. troops can't destroy the Islamic State ideology, and restraining future recruitment by the extremist group requires more than some infrastructure rehabilitation projects. Only Syrians, not U.S. troops and stabilization teams, can deal with Syria's underlying societal problems that spurred Islamist extremist recruitment.

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According to Palestinian media, some 500 members of Fatah were arrested in Gaza over the past day.

Apparently, Hamas doesn't want to see a major celebration of the 54th anniversary of Fatah's first terror attack, on January 1, 1965.

But why should arrests of hundreds of Palestinians be newsworthy? When Israel can't be blamed, it is just another Monday.

Here is the official Fatah video celebrating the anniversary. It isn't exactly peaceful.

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One of the themes of this site is that Palestinian leaders aren't interested in building a state, but in destroying one.

One of the biggest proofs for this can be seen in the annual statistics of the Palestinian Authority presented today.

42% of all "Palestinians who live in the State of Palestine" - their words - are "refugees."

If they are Palestinians and live in the "State of Palestine" then how can they be considered "refugees?"

That's over 2 million people who live in their own country but are counted, by the UN as well, as being "refugees." And they get free medical services and housing and schooling, paid for by the world, even though they should be treated exactly as any other Palestinian Arab under the PA.

Because they don't want to live in "Palestine" but to move to Israel where they can make it another Arab state.

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If Not Now tweeted this graphic:

So the original name for the areas is meant to erase the history of the one that came thousands of years afterwards. 

Beyond the stupidity of that assertion, the West Bank is a Jordanian name, not a Palestinian name. (The term was not consistently capitalized until after the Six Day War.)

Even the UN referred to Judea and Samaria when talking about the area, e.g., the UN partition plan of 1947 saying "The boundary of the hill country of Samaria and Judea starts on the Jordan River at the Wadi Malih south-east of Beisan..."

The format of this infographic indicates that IfNotNow has an entire series of them that they were planning to tweet daily.  But the derision they have received for this one may make them bury the rest of them. Too bad! Debunking them is one of my new favorite hobbies.

I'm still hoping against hope that they say that the name you should use is Al Quds instead of Jerusalem.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

From Arab Times Online:

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 27: The parliamentary Interior and Defense Committee on Thursday rejected the proposal to grant Kuwaiti citizenship to non-Muslims in accordance with Article Two of the Constitution which stipulates: “The religion of the State is Islam and Islamic law shall be the main source of legislation.”

The Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee previously approved the proposal on grounds that the Nationality Law contravenes Article 29 of the Constitution stating, “People are equal in human dignity, public rights and obligations before the law.

There shall be no differentiation between them due to race, origin, language or religion.” The committee then referred the proposal to its interior and defense counterpart.

Interior and Defense Committee Chairman MP Askar Al-Enizi confirmed that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Lieutenant General Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah attended the meeting, during which he voiced the government’s rejection of the proposal on the same grounds while noting that this situation is similar to what happened in the 1981 National Assembly.
I must have missed all the angry op-eds and embassy protests over the past few days about this racist law from outraged Westerners who care deeply about injustice in the world.

(h/t Andrew)

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Nearly six years ago I gave a lecture at Yeshiva University on how to answer anti-Israel arguments. Since the lecture was over an hour and twenty minutes, I decided to break it up into 20 sections, one each to answer one popular anti-Israel argument.

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From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: Ill-Boding News for Israel’s Enemies
Netanyahu’s and Norkin’s words were not only directed at the new group of fighter pilots tasked with keeping Iran and its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, from attempting to annihilate the Jewish state. The joint message was also aimed at Tehran, Damascus, Beirut, and Moscow.

The verbal warning was as clear as Tuesday night’s military one: that Trump’s exit from the region does not signal the onset of Israeli defeatism. If anything, it bodes even more ill for Israel’s enemies.

One indication that those enemies are getting the picture is Syria’s response to the airstrikes. This took the form of a letter of lament to the United Nations, stating that “Israel’s continuous aggressive policy is possible due to the unlimited and consistent support of the American administration.”

Ironically, the Syrian Foreign Ministry lodged this complaint on Wednesday, just around the time that Trump was paying a surprise visit to US troops in Iraq. There he explained why he will be withdrawing all American soldiers from Syria and half from Afghanistan, yet leaving those stationed in Iraq where they are. He intimated that having a US presence in Iraq would serve as a bulwark against Iran, while also enabling a swift ground re-entry into Syria, if necessary, or airstrikes from the very base where he was addressing the troops.

Coming as it did on the heels of Israeli military actions, Trump’s statement was the only encouraging communication about the Middle East to emerge from the White House in the past week. That the administration in Washington did not issue a statement about Tuesday night’s IAF raid indicates tacit American approval, if not outright coordination.

JPost Editorial: How will Trump's address in Iraq effect Israel?
This dovetails with Trump’s Iraq visit. The US President could have made this part of a larger trip, going to Baghdad and Erbil to meet essential Iraqi leaders, and then to Turkey, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel to show that the US may be leaving Syria, but the US is not leaving the Middle East. Instead this visit was a US-only visit. It took place in Iraq, but at a US airbase. Therefore it was designed for a domestic American audience, but the Middle East paid close attention to Trump’s words.

Trump said ISIS was mostly defeated, and that the US would remain in Iraq to prevent a resurgence. “We are putting America first for the first time in a long time,” Trump said, arguing that the US would no longer be suckers, paying for foreign wars. He said the Syria conflict demands a political solution, and that Saudi Arabia and Turkey might be part of that. He argued that the US would withdraw in an orderly manner from Syria “while maintaining US presence in Iraq to prevent ISIS resurgence and protect US interests, and also to always watch very closely over any reformation of ISIS and also to watch over Iran. We’ll be watching,” Trump said.

The comments about Iran are part of a larger US policy that began with Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal and continued with sanctions applied this fall, particularly in November. However Iran appears to be on a charm offensive in the region. Its president was recently in Turkey, and it is working with Ankara and Moscow to form a constitution committee for Syria. It also attended the Doha Forum. In each instance, Iran seeks to show that it is an influential country, and it pairs its visits with jibes at Israel. Recent comments by Turkey’s president against Israel, even comparing Israeli actions against the Palestinians to the Holocaust, paired with Iran’s comments and Russia’s criticism, show that Israel may be in for rough sailing ahead. Israel has improved some relations in the Gulf but Turkey and Iran are two of the most important and powerful countries and economies in the region. The warmth their leaders show is a threat to Israel, as is Iran’s presence in Syria and its growing influence in Iraq. Confabs like the Doha Forum also isolate Israel as Jerusalem has no presence at them, even as Qatar still claims to play a positive role in the peace process.

Now is the time to have a serious conversation with the US about its Middle East strategy. Trump wants to put America first. The US is increasing its defense budget which is good for Israel because of defense connections between Israel and the US. But a reduced US presence in the region is not helpful in the long term.
Hamas at 31: As Committed as Ever to Israel’s Destruction
Making no effort to disguise its ultimate goal of establishing a Palestinian state on Israel’s ruins in the entirety of what was once Mandatory Palestine, or its categorical rejection of the idea of Jewish statehood, Hamas draws comfort from the deafening aloofness of the international community to its genocidal vision and activities.

Thus, for example, the glaring failure of the UN to condemn Hamas’ countless war crimes over the years — be they firing missiles and rockets at Israeli civilian population centers, or straightforward terror attacks — has reinforced the organization’s belief that its terrorist actions are considered legitimate by the international community and carried out according to the “rules of the game.”

Hamas is keenly aware that the schism between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip complicates its ability to pursue its strategic goals, and Haniyeh’s statement criticizes Fatah for undermining the attainment of national reconciliation that will enable Palestinians to resist the “Zionist occupation.” In Hamas’ view, Zionist machinations against the Palestinians continue apace, including “the Judaization of Jerusalem and the West Bank, the killing of hundreds of Palestinians, the wounding of thousands, and the incarceration of still other thousands.” By way of countering this “aggression,” the statement boasts, Hamas has carried out numerous “acts of resistance,” including “dozens of shooting operations as well as hundreds of stabbing, car ramming, and Molotov cocktail attacks that killed and wounded the enemy. This is how we continue the resistance.”

Haniyeh concludes his statement by reiterating the main precepts of Hamas’ vision, notably the establishment of a Palestinian state with all of Jerusalem as its capital, the continuation of “armed resistance” against Israel, and the rejection of the Jewish right to statehood. On its 31st anniversary, Hamas thus remains as committed as ever to its genocidal worldview: “Jihad is jihad. Either we triumph or die as martyrs.”

After massive investigation, NY Times concludes Israel did not intentionally shoot medic Rouzan al-Najjar
As Lenny Ben-David points out on Twitter, the resources the Times devoted to the investigation were extraordinary:
The NYT’s indictment of #IDF is 5,500 words long & accompanied by 17 minute video! When was the last time NYT spent so many manhours & millions of $ on an investigation?

Not since Warren Commission on JFK’s assassination have I seen such research, stopped frames, diagrams.

Yet despite all those words, the investigation conclusion is almost buried in the headlines, diagrams, video and verbiage: Israel did not deliberately or directly shoot al-Najjar. The was hit by a ricochet of a bullet that fragmented hitting a total of three people.

Here are the key quotes from the main Times article, several paragraphs into the article:
The bullet that killed her, The Times found, was fired by an Israeli sniper into a crowd that included white-coated medics in plain view. A detailed reconstruction, stitched together from hundreds of crowd-sourced videos and photographs, shows that neither the medics nor anyone around them posed any apparent threat of violence to Israeli personnel. Though Israel later admitted her killing was unintentional, the shooting appears to have been reckless at best, and possibly a war crime, for which no one has yet been punished.

Notice how in that key paragraph, the first to introduce the Times’ conclusion, no mention is made of the ricochet. The paragraph makes it seem as if al-Najjar was deliberately and directly shot when Israel fired “into” a crowd that included medics. Only much later does the Times acknowledge that al-Najjar was not directly shot, the bullet did not go “into” the crowd, it struck the ground several yards away.

You have to read deep down into the article, to find these details:
Three medics down, all from one bullet. It seemed improbable.

But The Times’s reconstruction confirmed it: The bullet hit the ground in front of the medics, then fragmented, part of it ricocheting upward and piercing Ms. Najjar’s chest.

It was fired from a sand berm used by Israeli snipers at least 120 yards from where the medics fell.

To get even more details, you need to go to the separate methodology article the Times ran, including that Israel did not fire at the medics, but rather, people near the medics, and that the bullet hit the ground “a few yards away from the medics, and ricocheted off the ground:
IsraellyCool: Even Israel-Hating NY Times Journo Malachy Browne Finds Israel Did Not Kill Razan Najjar Deliberately
Malachy Browne is a senior story producer with the New York Times.

Objective he ain’t – he lets his hatred of Israel shine through from time to time.

I say this as way of preface to his latest piece: a painstaking look at how palestinian medic Razan Najjar actually died. At 5,500 words, front page presence and including a 15-minute documentary, you can bet he means business. Heck, when was the last time we saw anything like this from the New York Times? Clearly Browne wants so desperately to convict Israel, and he spares no time and effort to do so.


After all of his investigations, Browne’s findings contradict the narrative that Najjar was deliberately shot! Rather, his investigations can only conclude that she was killed by a ricocheting bullet.

The Israeli military maintains that the 6:31 p.m. shot targeted and hit a protester wearing a yellow shirt who was throwing stones and pulling at the coils of barbed wire laid out 40 yards from the security fence. We identified several men and boys wearing yellow shirts that day. Only one was near the direction of fire. From several videos, we could determine that he was standing around 120 yards from the fence and that he did not appear to be protesting violently in the minutes leading up to the shot. Indeed, we didn’t see any violent protesting in that area in the minutes before the fatal gunshot, suggesting that the shot contravened the Israeli military’s own rules about targeting protesters. What’s more, behind the target was a group of bystanders and medics in white coats. Former snipers in the United States Army and the Israel Defense Forces told us that, without a backstop, it was a reckless shot to take.

The bullet missed and hit the ground a few yards in front of the medics. Michael Knox, a forensic ballistics investigator, told us that the type of bullet used by the Israeli sniper could skim like a stone off the rocky soil. When it hits soil at a low angle, it pushes the soil ahead of it into a miniature ramp and projects itself up and out of the ground. Mohammed Shafee was hit in the torso with shrapnel. The bullet grazed Rami Abo Jazar’s thigh and continued its upward trajectory to pierce Rouzan just above her chest, severing her aorta.
Israel urges UN to include baby Amiad in report on children
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon is urging the United Nations to include the death of prematurely delivered baby Amiad Yisrael in its annual Children and Armed Conflict report.

Danon contacted U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba to ask that her office's upcoming report on deaths of children in regional conflicts and wars include baby Amiad, who was delivered in an emergency cesarian section after his mother, Shira Ish-Ran, was seriously wounded in a terrorist shooting attack on Dec. 9.

Ish-Ran was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of the attack and sustained serious bullet wounds to her upper body. Amiad was delivered in critical condition, and although medical staff battled around the clock to save him, he died a few days later.

"Children in the Palestinians Authority are taught from a young age to hate Israel, through school textbooks that are full of lies and incitement, and through social media posts that encourage terrorism," Danon wrote to Gamba.

"It is not too long before they put these messages to action, sometimes by way of violence, as we saw in the Ofra attack.

"The brutal incident in Ofra that led to the death of a three-day-old baby should be noted in the U.N. report on 'Children and Armed Conflict,' alongside a clear, strong condemnation of Hamas' violent aggression against the citizens of Israel, which harms the safety of children and youth in the area," Danon wrote.
Netanyahu: Brazilian leader said embassy move a matter of ‘when, not if’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Brazilian Jewish leaders on Sunday that Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro informed him that he would like to relocate the Latin American country’s mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“It’s a question of when, not if,” Netanyahu said, according to a source present at the meeting.

The statement came after Netanyahu and Bolsonaro met on Friday, and after an Israeli government source insisted Saturday that Brazil’s embassy move to Jerusalem was merely “a matter of time.”

“The situation is similar to [US President Donald] Trump’s declaration” that he planned to move the US embassy in December of 2017, the source said. “He declared it and he carried it out later on.” The US embassy move took place in May of 2018, six months after Trump stated his intention to do so.

Netanyahu had announced his trip to Brazil following a November 1 tweet from Bolsonaro indicating he intends to move the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following in Trump’s footsteps. Bolsonaro later backtracked by saying “it hasn’t been decided yet.”
US warns travelers to ‘exercise increased caution’ in Israel
The US State Department called on travelers to “exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism.”

In an email to citizens registered to its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, the State Department noted that the security level of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza is at Level 2: Exercise Extreme Caution.

The security warning states that travelers should not travel to Gaza due to “terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.” It also recommends that travelers reconsider travel to the West Bank due to “terrorism, potentially violent civil unrest, and the potential for armed conflict.”

The warning continues: “Terrorist groups and lone-wolf terrorists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Jerusalem and the West Bank without warning.”
Michael Oren’s loss is a tragedy for all Israelis
It’s hard to imagine a more qualified candidate than Michael Oren in national politics. With decades of public service behind him – working as an adviser to former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and ambassador to the US appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, writing bestselling books on the history of Israel and the Middle East, and being an excellent public speaker in English and Hebrew – Oren seemed like a great candidate for the Knesset and even a cabinet post.

But now it seems that unless there’s a surprise change of events, and after four years, Oren’s short-lived Knesset career is over. The Kulanu MK and deputy minister for diplomacy announced that he won’t be running with the party again. And while he left his options open for another party to invite him into the fold, his political prospects seem dim.

That’s not just bad news for Michael Oren, it’s bad news for all Israelis.

The Knesset is a place where many talented, qualified people can’t survive, but vulgarians, serial harassers and terrorism-supporters get elected over and over again.

Oren is far from the first highly qualified person to drop out of national politics. But he wasn’t plagued by one of the problems that such people often have when they enter the Knesset, when they’re used to being the big boss and then have trouble working as a team as a regular Knesset member, equal to many others.

Oren seemed to do what he was supposed to, and more. He did reasonably well as a parliamentarian, making an effort to propose bills and take part in legislative meetings and caucuses, as well as meeting with international delegations visiting the Knesset. He made the jump the deputy minister, where he dealt with his area of expertise, international relations, and engaged in diplomacy at the highest levels, bringing his unique talents to the Knesset.

And while Oren is a veritable celebrity among Anglo-Israelis, he understood he needed to make a genuine effort to keep his name in the news in Hebrew, as well, commenting on international affairs and writing dozens of op-eds in various newspapers. When spotted in the Knesset during the AIPAC Policy Conference this year, and asked why he was not in Washington, he remarked, “Because the voters are here.”
Israel protests after Jordan minister steps on flag on way to government meeting
Jerusalem has lodged a strong protest to Amman after a Jordanian minister was seen stepping on an Israeli flag at the entrance to a government meeting over the weekend.

The meeting was held at the country’s trade union headquarters — a body deeply opposed to normalization of relations with Israel despite a peace treaty signed in 1994.

The trade union has placed a drawing of the Israeli flag on the floor at the entrance to its building, along with footprints, encouraging visitors to step on it as a form of protest against Israel.

Jordan’s minister for media affairs and communications and government spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat was praised on social media for being among those who chose to step on the flag as she arrived for the meeting.

In contrast, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz chose to enter the building through a side entrance, thus avoiding stepping on the Israeli symbol but earning himself criticism in Jordanian media.

Political activists also heckled him during his speech at the headquarters, accusing him of hypocrisy in “supporting the Zionist entity.”
PMW: It’s OK for husbands, fathers and brothers to beat disobedient women, says Abbas` advisor
Contradictory messages are an art in the Palestinian Authority. A striking example was when right in the middle of a PA campaign to stop domestic violence against Palestinian women, Abbas' advisor and top PA religious figure explained on TV exactly when, how and why husbands, fathers and brothers are allowed to beat women!

The Palestinian campaign to stop violence against women ran during the international "16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence" campaign calling to end violence against women and girls. The campaigns began on Nov. 25 on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ended on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

While this campaign was running and teaching that it is never acceptable to hit women, Abbas' advisor Mahmoud Al-Habbash explained on official PA TV that there are situations in which men are allowed to beat women. In fact, it is even good for the women:
"As long as Allah permitted a certain type of beating, it is for the good. It is good for society and good for the woman and the man."

When is it permitted? Not very often explained Al-Habbash; only when women are "disobedient":
"The one and only situation, which is very limited and very rare, in which a man is permitted to beat in a way that doesn't harm, doesn't injure, avoids the face, and doesn't cause strong pain - is the situation of disobedience. Only a situation of the woman's disobedience. The disobedient woman, the woman who is out of line, the woman who destroys the bonds of marriage, and the bonds of home and family. Aside from this, any type of beating, injuring, and cursing of the woman constitutes a forbidden act."

While Al-Habbash defends the practice, saying it is "rare," the categories of women who may be beaten that he himself describes are so general that he opens the door for ongoing abuse: "The disobedient woman, the woman who is out of line, the woman who destroys the bonds of marriage, and the bonds of home and family."
IsraellyCool: Kuwaiti Parliament Rejects Law to Grant Citizenship to Non-Muslims
Kuwait’s parliamentary Interior and Defense Committee has rejected a draft law to allow citizenship for non-Muslims – and human rights organizations, the mainstream media, and others who blasted Israel for her Nation-State law have spoken out.

Only part of what I just wrote is true.

The National Assembly’s interior and defense committee yesterday rejected a draft law to allow authorities to grant Kuwaiti citizenship to non-Muslims which is prohibited under the law, head of the committee said. MP Askar Al-Enezi said the rejection was based on a constitutional provision which states that “Islam is the official religion of the state.”

Kuwait’s nationality law issued for the first time in 1959 allowed the naturalization of non-Muslims but this provision was amended by the National Assembly in 1981 thus prohibiting granting citizenship to non-Muslims.

The legal and legislative committee less than a month ago approved the draft law, saying it did not violate the constitution. But Islamist and conservative lawmakers strongly opposed the move and vowed to reject when it comes for voting in the assembly.

By the way, non-Jews can have citizenship in Israel, of course. Our Nation-State law does not curtail their rights.
BBC News’ ‘different side’ to Gaza is much of the same
In among Kholoud Nassar’s photos of cheesecake and coffee, historic buildings, well-stocked markets, a garden centre and a strawberry field, the same slogans were promoted in the film itself.

“Gaza has been through three major wars in the last decade between Israel and the Hamas group that controls the strip. […] Israel and Egypt restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, citing security reasons.”

Remarkably the film’s producer Cara Swift chose to use that particular image despite the fact that it is not representative of the Gaza Strip at the end of the last conflict in 2014 and with no room for an explanation of the context that lies behind the damage seen.

Another day, another example of the way in which the BBC’s strict chosen framing does not allow any Gaza Strip related story to be “different”.
The BBC, 2018 ‘fake news’ and fact checking
This year too BBC Watch has documented numerous examples of misinformation promoted by the BBC and has submitted dozens of related complaints. Among the inaccurate claims made by the BBC to which we have managed to secure corrections in 2018 are the following:

1) The claim that a sign in Arabic promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions related solely to “a boycott of Israeli products coming from Jewish settlements”.
BBC World Service amends inaccurate photo caption

2) The claim that the Israeli government “retroactively legalised an unauthorised settlement outpost” following a terror attack.
One month on BBC corrects inaccuracy regarding Israeli cabinet decision

3) The claim that Riyad Mansour is the “UN envoy for Palestine”.
BBC News website corrects Palestinian envoy’s title

4) The claim that the Argentinian football team’s cancellation of a friendly match against Israel was related to “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza”.
BBC amends misleading Argentina match report after complaint

5) The claim that “Thousands [of Palestinians] have been imprisoned for refusing to leave their land”.
BBC’s ECU upholds part of BBC Watch ‘Alternativity’ complaint – part one

6) The claim that the head of the PLO delegation to Washington is an ‘ambassador’.
BBC News website amends inaccurate Palestinian envoy title

7) The claim that a crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip had been closed.
BBC amends inaccurate photo caption two months on

8) The claim that UN forces were in control of the Golan Heights demilitarized zone.
Corrections secured to inaccurate BBC News website maps – part two

9) The claim that “for the first time” a Palestinian candidate was running for a seat on the Jerusalem city council.
BBC issues correction to inaccurate Jerusalem elections claim

10) The claim that the next Israeli election “had to be held by November this year”.
BBC Watch prompts correction to error on Israeli elections

Jewish Argentine ex-FM, derided for Iran cover-up, dead at 65
Hector Timerman, a Jewish former foreign minister of Argentina, has died at age 65, local media in the South American nation reported Sunday.

Timerman served as his country’s top diplomat from 2010 to 2015 under controversial president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and was instrumental in establishing a much-derided truth commission with Iran to investigate the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center, in which 85 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

Timerman, Kirchner and others were investigated on suspicion of working to cover up Iranian involvement in the bombing by pushing for a pact with Iran under which suspects could be questioned in Iran and not brought to Argentina.

The plan was formally approved by both houses of the Argentine Congress, but never ratified by Iran.

Nobody has been tried for the bombing.

Timerman, who had been suffering from cancer, was arrested in December 2017 while attempting to board a plane to New York for treatment, and released to house arrest in Buenos Aires.

Timerman earlier served as ambassador to the US. His father, Jacobo Timerman, was an ardent Zionist who lived for several years in Israel after being exiled by Argentina’s military junta. Hector Timerman lived during that time in New York.

The reported death Sunday drew mixed reactions.
Head of firm that insured Auschwitz workshops stripped of posthumous honor
University of Mannheim in southern Germany is changing the name of a prestigious research institute after it was revealed that the moniker was an homage to the chairman of an insurance company that insured SS-owned slave labor workshops in Auschwitz and other death camps.

The Dr. Kurt-Hamann Foundation will now be called the “Foundation for the Promotion of Insurance Science at the University of Mannheim.” A statement released by the university on December 24 said the name change will become final when approved by the regional government in nearby Karlsruhe, to which the paperwork was being sent.

Hamann, who died in 1981, was the chairman of the Victoria Insurance Company, then headquartered in Berlin, from 1935 to 1968. The Victoria’s senior management had originally included Jews and had actively sought Jewish customers. During the Third Reich, the firm withdrew mortgages from Jews and Jewish-owned companies, including on a Berlin building owned by this reporter’s family. The ownership of the Wolff family building was transferred directly to the Reichsbahn, Hitler’s railways, in 1937.

The name change concludes a campaign this reporter launched in 2013 concurrently with the writing of “Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin.” The book is about my family’s bid to win restitution of a property built in 1909 by my great-grandfather to house his H. Wolff international fur business.
Technion students develop algae-based falafel to battle protein hunger
An ecologically friendly and nutritious microalgae that used to be a daily food source for the Aztecs in central Mexico could be making its way to Western tables in the form of a new kind of protein-rich falafel, the delicious Middle Eastern deep-fried chickpea balls.

Graduate students at the Biotechnology and Food Engineering Faculty at Israel’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed what they call the Algalafel, a new kind of falafel that enriches the traditional ingredients with spirulina — a biomass of blue-green algae which in its dried form contains about 60 percent protein and is seen as a solution for food insecurity and malnutrition.

The students nabbed first prize in the EIT Food Project (European Knowledge and Innovation Community) as part of an innovative microalgae product development competition, held in early December at the Technion. EIT Food is a pan-European consortium that focuses on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the food sector.

“It tasted very good, almost identical to regular falafel,” said Prof. Yoav Livney, the project leader.

Dried spirulina contains also 5% water, 24% carbohydrates, and 8% fat. Its cultivation uses much less land and water to produce protein and energy than do cattle or poultry.
Four millionth tourist arrives in Israel
The four millionth tourist landed in Israel over the weekend, marking an unprecedented number of tourists who arrived to Israel in 2018.

When the third millionth tourist landed in the country in 2017, a Romania tourist, she got to meet Tourist Minister Yariv Levin at the airport and was shown around the country. Including a guided tour in the tour of David in Jerusalem give by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fourth millionth tourist was greeted by Levin, who called this unusual large number of visitors "the result of a revolution undertaken by the Ministry of tourism."

Levin said he's "excited by this moment that proves Israel is an attractive tourist destination."

Jerusalem leads the nation as the most sought after tourist destination, 40% of tourists coming in are landing on return visits and the majority of them are Christians [61%] followed by Jewish tourists [22%].

Chinese tourists arrived in a great number in 2018 with 100 thousand visitors, yet the biggest numbers of visitors hail from the US with 813 thousand, France [320,000] and Russia [303 thousand].
Nearly 30,000 new immigrants moved to Israel in 2018, up from 2017 stats
More than 29,600 new immigrants made Israel their home in 2018, according to year-end statistics published on Thursday by the Jewish Agency for Israel.

The 2018 figures represent a 5% increase over 2017, when 28,220 people immigrated to Israel.

The largest number of immigrants, more than 10,500, came from Russia, a 45% increase from the previous year.

Some 3,550 immigrants came from the United States and Canada, similar to 2017 figures. British olim numbered more than 500, while 2,600 came from France, a 25% decrease.

“I congratulate the increase in the number of immigrants to Israel,” said Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog. “Every Jew who immigrates and establishes his or her home completes another piece of the amazing mosaic of the people of Israel in its historical homeland.”
Artifacts stolen and smuggled in the West Bank now on display in Jerusalem
For over 40 years, tens of thousands of ancient artifacts confiscated from smugglers and looters in the West Bank were stockpiled in the offices of the Antiquities Department of the Civil Administration (ADCA). With no certified provenance and no certain way of ascertaining their origins, the 40,000 stolen antiquities sat in storage for decades.

In archaeology, an artifact’s context is considered as important as the item itself. Without a clear origin story, archaeologists are often loathe to research and publish scientific studies on random relics of the past. And so the recovered items sat.

In 2010, however, the new Staff Officer of Archaeology of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria Area, Hananya Hezmi began implementing protocols customary for artifacts discovered at known excavations.

Based out of a small group of semi-permanent structures in the West Bank industrial-zone town of Mishor Adumim, Hezmi’s small team of archaeologists began sorting, dating, registering, and documenting the finds, through photography and other scientific methods.
Two rare 1,700-year-old funerary busts unearthed in Beit She’an cemetery
For the first time, a pair of limestone funerary busts — a style of grave marking unique to the region during the Late Roman (3rd–4th centuries CE) period — were discovered in situ, after early December rains near Beit She’an.

Walking in the northern cemetery at Beit She’an, a hiker saw a small head popping out of the muddy earth — thankfully mineral and not animal. She quickly phoned the Israel Antiquities Authority, which hastened to send out a team to pick up the well-known, but very rare limestone funerary bust.

It turned out to be a two for the price of one operation: While the archaeologists worked they discovered a second limestone bust, each weighing circa 30 kilograms (66 pounds).

These two busts are the only examples found in the location in which they were lain after the burial of the subject depicted by the statue. “Because of that, we hurried to remove them,” said Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Theft Prevention Unit. Klein told The Times of Israel that an excavation is being planned for the future in the area where the busts were unearthed.
French hero who saved hundreds of Jewish children dies aged 108
French Resistance hero Georges Loinger, who used his ingenuity and athletic prowess to save the lives of hundreds of Jewish children during World War II, died on Friday at the age of 108, Agence France-Presse reported.

A talented athlete and cousin of the famous mime artist and fellow Resistance member Marcel Marceau, Loinger would smuggle the children in small groups across the French-Swiss border by throwing a ball and telling them to run after it.

Another ruse involved dressing children up as mourners and taking them to a cemetery whose wall abutted the French side of the border, AFP reported.

With the help of a gravedigger's ladder, the "mourners" would clamber over the wall and head for the border just feet away.

France's Holocaust Memorial Foundation described Loinger on its website as an "exceptional man."

The children he saved, whose parents had been killed or sent to Nazi concentration camps, were under the responsibility of the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants, a Jewish children's aid society founded in St. Petersburg in 1912.

Loinger, an uncle of famed Israeli singer Yardena Arazi, was awarded the Resistance Medal, the Military Cross and the Legion of Honor.

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