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Gaza Balloon Firebomb Hits Israeli Kindergarten

9 hours 36 min ago

A balloon carrying a firebomb launched from the Gaza Strip landed in the yard of a kindergarten in the southern Israeli town of Tkuma on Tuesday, while young children were playing there.

The bomb caused a small fire in the sandy yard, which was quickly contained.

“We had just let the kids outside so they could go play,” kindergarten teacher Bat Sheva Bruchin said.

“Just as we were heading toward the grass, I looked up and saw smoke from above. I immediately realized it was a firebomb balloon. My biggest fear was that the balloon was carrying explosives or gas.

“I had no time to think and I began moving the kids to a protected area, just as we had practiced time and time again. I then called the rescue services and they quickly arrived.”

Earlier in the day, two incendiary balloons were found in a school in the area, but caused no injuries to the staff in the building.

An Israeli aircraft targeted a Palestinian cell in Gaza that had launched additional incendiary balloons across the border.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman arrived at the IDF Gaza Division headquarters on Tuesday to take part in a security assessment attended by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot as well as Shin Bet security agency Director Nadav Argaman and other senior security officials.

“We are engaged in battle, and we are exchanging fire, but the IDF is prepared for any eventuality,” Netanyahu said at the meeting. “I was very impressed by what I saw and I know that every Israeli believes in the IDF and will lend it support in any future development.”

Lieberman, for his part, remarked that Israel’s security policies cannot be influenced by political pressures or media trends. “We are operating with strength and wisdom,” he stressed. “What we need now is composure and nerves of steel.”

“We can’t operate with a stopwatch in our hands or amid media hysteria,” he added. “We are doing what needs to be done, and the IDF is prepared for any scenario.”

Remembering Nelson Mandela

9 hours 51 min ago

Today, July 18, 2018, would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. This video, from 1997, shows the president speaking at a Jewish school to a group of South African students. He gave voice to one of his own sayings: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

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Those of you who were at King David School in 1997 will remember Nelson Mandela's visit.Take a look at this video to bring back the memories!

Posted by Elliot Wolf on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Edelstein Receives Christian Declaration of Tisha B’Av Atrocities

11 hours 51 min ago

A simple act of contrition by a devout Christian led to a powerful meeting in the Knesset and will hopefully lead to a global initiative to heal the difficult and painful history between Jews and Christians.

On Monday, 16 Christian and Jewish delegates met in the chambers of Yuli Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset, and presented him with a declaration signed by 1,500 Christians in which they expressed a desire to comfort the Jewish people for crimes done to them.

“We the undersigned recognize the long and horrific history of anti-semitic atrocities committed against Jews in the name of Christ,” the proclamation read. “We repent for these actions, pray to God to continue turning the hearts of Christians to true love for His Chosen People, and submit this declaration to the representative of Israel and the Jewish People.”

The proclamation is based on a list of these atrocities, focusing on those occurring on the ninth and tenth days of the Hebrew month of Av. The ninth day of Av, Tisha B’Av in Hebrew, is a fast day for Jews commemorating the destruction of the Jewish Temples and several other heinous acts which appear on the list.

The list was compiled by Bob O’Dell, Christian co-founder of Root-Source, a web-based initiative that facilitates Israeli Jews teaching Christians worldwide.

The story behind the list is an inspiring tale of personal service to God. After researching the Hebrew roots of his Christian religion for several years, O’Dell decided to research the history of Christian atrocities against Jews. As he read history books, he created a spreadsheet listing what he found. He was astounded when the list passed 500 major events.

“Jews think that Christians are aware of the horrors in Jewish history perpetrated in the name of Christianity,” O’Dell told Breaking Israel News. “The truth is that most Christians only know about the Holocaust and the Crusades. But even at that, we don’t know details or the full extent of the Jews at the hands of the Christians. This aspect of Christianity, its persecution of the Jews, is massive and we never heard about it from the Church. We certainly hadn’t been taught how pervasive and enormous it was.”

“There is no country in the world that has not persecuted its Jews. Even America has expelled Jews and turned them away while they were fleeing the Nazis. A lot of Christians will be surprised at how Christian Hitler felt he was.”

O’Dell decided that on the ninth of Av, while Jews fasted over the destruction of the Temples, he would, in an act of solidarity and contrition, spend the day meditating on the list. He spent one minute meditating on each of the horrors done to Jews in the name of Christianity. He began at eight in the morning but by one in the afternoon, he was little more than halfway through the list. He was feeling physically and emotionally broken from the experience and could not continue.

“I knew I could never be the same,” O’Dell said. “How could all this happen and how could I, especially as a Christian, not know about it? And even more daunting was thinking what my response should be. It was unthinkable that I should just walk away. I decided that I needed to work on being a blessing to the Nation of Israel for the rest of my life.”

As difficult as this experience was, it was a positive transformational experience for O’Dell.

“I am not doing any of this out of guilt,” O’Dell sad. “I can’t change the past. I can’t even change the perception of these atrocities. But I can do something good right now. I can be sensitive to the truth. I can change the paradigm by interacting with Israel in a positive way as a devout Christian, in direct contrast to what was done in the past. I am better for this because now I am free, or at least on my way.”

It is this positive element that O’Dell feels connects Christian repentance for past deeds with Tisha B’Av. Though Tisha B’Av is a fast day and a day of mourning, the Prophet Zechariah states that in the days preceding the Messiah, it will become a joyous day.

Thus said God of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Yehuda; but you must love honesty and integrity. Zechariah 8:19

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein receiving the Christian declaration of repentance. (Donna Jollay/Breaking Israel News).

“This is my way of taking something awful that Christians should be doing repentance for and turning it into something positive: the basis for a Christian-Jewish relationship and a path of personal service for me as a Christian. I had to go through a difficult period of accepting what happened. After that, I felt free and happy since I wasn’t carrying around this hidden burden anymore.”

Though O’Dell was unable to attend, Gidon Ariel, who cofounded Root Source described the atmosphere at the Knesset gathering as positive and even lighthearted.

“It was, after all, Jews and Christians getting together without the dark cloud of history hanging overhead,” Ariel told Breaking Israel News. “It was out in the open and we were glad of it, ready to move on to better things.”

Though O’Dell feels this is a necessary stage in his life as a Christian, he realizes it is not for everyone.

“It is clear to me that Jesus would have hated these things that were done in his name. They go against everything Jesus is. It is our duty as Christians to fix this.”

“I am challenging other Christians to look at the past, to look at the historical truth and to grapple with it in the hopes that some form of reconciliation will take place that will enable them to move on to a higher level as Christians. There needs to be an internal, personal reconciliation as a Christian dealing with something horrible that was doen in Jesus’ name and a reconciliation toward the Jewish People. This is for people who have the right heart to receive it.”

O’Dell included a solitary positive historical event that took place on the ninth of Av. The last event on the list took place on Tisha B’Av 2015 when the Temple Institute presented to the public the plans for the Third Temple.

The list of atrocities and the sign up sheet can be found on the Root Source site.

MEP Calls on EU to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

14 hours 11 min ago

A member of the European Parliament has called on the European Union to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“It is in the interest of the European Union to stop considering the Golan Heights as an ‘occupied territory’ and to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over this territory,” said Fulvio Martuscello, Italian MEP who chairs the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel.

The EU considers the Golan Heights as ‘occupied territory’ by Israel since the country took over the region from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Six-Day War. The Golan Heights has a strategic importance for the country as it gives Israel an excellent vantage points for monitoring Syrian movements. The topography provides a natural buffer against any military thrust from Syria. The area also provides a third of Israel’s water supply.

Despite its official neutrality in the Syrian conflict, the State of Israel has provided humanitarian aid to Syrian war victims, an effort that has been drastically geared up since June 2016, but it has also  strongly opposed the presence of Iranian military or of its proxies.

According to MEP Martusciello, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights “will give trust to the EU as a broker in the Middle East peace process and even a potential to use it s a leverage.”

“In a time where the EU is receiving refugees escaping the war in Syria it is time to take a clear position and recognize the importance of having Israel as the de jure sovereign of this territory,” he added.

For Martusciello, the European Union  “needs to reinforce its engagement with the State of Israel.’’ ‘’We have seen a turbulent region where Israel has been an oasis of democracy despite the tensions with the Palestinians and the situation in Gaza.”

Inaugural Flight Lands at New Eilat Airport

14 hours 30 min ago

Tourism to Israel is already enjoying a massive boom. In the first half of 2018 the country is on course to break 2017’s record 3.6 million visitors. Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat, welcomed the inaugural flight to its new Ilan and Asaf Ramon airport. It will have a capacity of 2 million domestic and international tourists.

Syrian Testimony: “Israel, Only Country Aiding Syrian Refugees”

15 hours 22 min ago

On Tuesday, dozens of displaced Syrians marched toward the Israeli border by the Golan Heights after at least 10 were killed in a Russian backed airstrike that hit a school. Those marching demanded protection from the government offensives, asking Israel to open the borders.

In a Jerusalem press conference, Syrians at the border spoke with Israeli and foreign journalists by video conference. Abu Hossain, a coordinator in the Quneitra region and southwestern Daraa province of Syria reported that the majority of those affected by the airstrike were children and women.

“Tens of refugees are approaching the Israeli fence,” said Hossain. “We are facing a horrible and terrible situation. I want the whole world to hear us and deliver our message we are in a critical situation,” he explained. “We are calling on Israel and the international community to provide us with protection and help.

According to Hossain, the refugees are scared of the Russian airstrikes and the approaching regime, which he said is just 10 kilometers from the refugee camps.

“The Syrian regime is really bad. They take away the bodies of the dead from their graves. Just recently, they took one body buried 11 years ago from the grave,” he said.

Abul Bara, a human rights activist, approached the border saying, “After the terrible scene from the most recent airstrike, we were afraid of our future and safety and that’s why we left our tents to march to the fence, asking Israel to open it. Airstrikes are coming close to us and we want to break the fence but the Israeli patrol from the other side are patrolling the border.”

As journalists heard airstrikes over the video feed, Bara said, “These strikes are not far from buffer zone,” he said, referring to the buffer zone created in 1974 as a part of the Agreement on Disengagement signed between Israel and Syria and monitored by the United Nations. But since most UN staff have moved from Syria due to the civil war, there is no presence enforcing Syrian military presence in the buffer zone.

“We hope Israel and Syria reactivates the agreement and it will be under full control of opposition who will control villages along the border. We are able and capable of doing it.”

Abdel Kareem, originally from Damascus, recently fled from Quneitra to the border with Israel. He stated, “I fled Quneitra 10 days ago because there is no possible way to stay there. Killing and destruction are everywhere. Nothing remains. No buildings or even trees.”

A Syrian town adjacent to the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. (Credit: Andrew McIntire/TPS)

Kareem maintained that there are nearly 300,000 refugees in the camps along the border with Israel. He called this area “the Syrian occupied Golan Heights” and continued, “We see what Israel does – it is only country providing humanitarian support and aid, including tents and a small medical clinic, and opening areas for the wounded during the war.”

“But it is not enough,” he said. “We are 10 families living in one tent.”

“We are human beings under siege,” he pled. “There is no opposition left. We are civilians with no weapons and we are under attack. We have no aid and no support. There are no doctors, medicine or health treatments here. Our only option is to cross the fence to Israel, that is the only place we will feel safe.”

Each of the Syrian refugees expressed their pessimism in Syria’s future. Years ago, many Syrian refugees refused to have their photos taken, fearing backlash by the Syrian regime. But now, they say that there “is nothing left to lose” and “there is no future here.”

Kareem begged, “Our future has disappeared. It is lost. We are human and looking for a political solution. This is our demand.”

Om Mohammad, a 30-year-old also from Damascus, fled five years ago to Quneitra with her brothers and relatives but in the recent attacks, she moved to stay near the border with Israel. Her husband is wanted by the Syrian regime, like many others, and was searching for bread at the time of the video call.

Om Mohammad speaking via video link from the al-Biqra refugee camp in Syria. (Credit: Eliana Rudee)

Mohammad is now living in Al-Briqa refugee camp, is a mother of four and eight months pregnant.

“I haven’t found a tent so I sleep under the trees with my children,” she said. “There is not enough medical treatment for being pregnant,” Mohammad explained, calling on the international community to provide them with protection.

“Have mercy on us, we are suffering,” she begged. “We saw kids lose legs, eyes, and we don’t want this to be our destiny. We will be slaughtered or killed any moment.”

She continued, “We want to live normally with stability, we want Israel to protect us. I believe Israel is the safest place for me. Israel will rescue us from what we are witnessing.  It is the only body and institution to protect us and we want them to open the border and bring us into Israel.”

She voiced her dream of making a home in Israel if the borders are opened, but is skeptical that Israel would open the border for so many refugees. “People are really afraid to go back to their villages they fled from.”

Mohammad Sharif agreed, praising Israel for opening the border for injured Syrians. “Our enemies are Syrians backed by Russia. We don’t see Israel as an enemy.”

Jerusalem District Court Issues Lien on 2 Boats Heading to Gaza

15 hours 46 min ago

In a rather rare judgment, a Jerusalem District Court issued a lien on two large ships that are part of a Gaza-bound flotilla set to arrive in Israeli waters later this month, with the intent that the sea vessels can be sold, with proceeds going to families of Israeli victims of Hamas-sponsored terrorist attacks.

The strategy to seek a lien on the ships in order to benefit the victims was introduced to the court by the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center’ NGO on behalf of two Israeli families (Weinstein and Gavish) who for years have been involved in various lawsuits against Hamas for the murder of relatives.

On Dec. 1, 2001, 14-year-old Adam Weinstein from Givon Hahadasha was killed along with 10 other young people in a Hamas suicide-bombing on Jerusalem’s Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall. Three members of the Gavish family were shot dead on March 28, 2002, when a Hamas terrorist armed with a rifle infiltrated their home in the Samaria community of Elon Moreh.

According to Shurat HaDin founder attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the successful approach, which persuaded the court to issue the lien last week, was to convince Judge Moshe Drori that while organizers of the flotilla are claiming that the ships are to be turned over Gazans for their benefit, “there is no question that Hamas would take the ships away from the residents to be used for terrorist operations [against Israel].”

Valued at around 100,000 euros (nearly $120,000), Darshan-Leitner tells JNS that the boats—named Freedom and Return, set to leave for Gaza from a port in Sicily—are so large (some 80 feet and 65 feet, respectively) that their only purpose will be to enhance Hamas’s naval terror units.

According to Darshan-Leitner, the organizers of the new flotilla are comprised of various Muslim extremist groups affiliated with Hamas, as well as the Turkish IHH terror organization—the same group behind the 2010 flotilla that saw Israel Defense Forces’ soldiers raid one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara, and after being brutally attacked were forced to open fire, killing nine of the terrorists on board.

Darshan-Leitner says the leaders of this latest flotilla have announced that “they are not bringing any humanitarian aid on board, but that they are turning over the vessels themselves, to be used by children’s youth groups in Gaza. But we know with 100 percent certainty that Hamas will not give the boats to the residents of Gaza.”

She explains that once the flotilla reaches Israeli waters, the Israeli Navy will spring into action and tow the boats into the Ashdod port, while the organizers will be deported from Israel. Thanks to the court’s lien, the two vessels will then be sold in the free market, with the proceeds earmarked for the Weinstein and Gavish families.

‘Hamas interested in bolstering its naval commando units’

One of the experts who testified in court on behalf of Shurat HaDin was Arieh Spitzen, the former head of Palestinian Affairs for COGAT: The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories. COGAT is responsible for overseeing Israel’s civilian and humanitarian policy in Judea and Samaria, and Gaza.

Spitzen told JNS that he was able to prove to the judge how Hamas in Gaza “cynically steals humanitarian aid and equipment earmarked for use by civilians for terror purposes.”

He said that “Hamas’s modus operandi is to seize any equipment earmarked for the civilians if it can be used to enhance their military capabilities.”

Spitzen cited examples of such instances, including how Hamas intercepted concrete sent by Israel to Gaza in an effort to help rebuild schools and hospitals following “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, and diverted the building material towards their terror tunnels.

Spitzen also explained to the judge that “all these years, but especially in the last few years, Hamas has been interested in bolstering its navy and its naval commando units. This is extremely important for them.”

He added that “since Israel has found solutions for the underground [terror] tunnels, and is using the Iron Dome system to intercept missiles, and has halted suicide-bombers arriving from Gaza, military operations to be launched from the sea have become their focus.”

Brig. Gen. Noam Feig (ret.), who served as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of the Israeli Navy, also testified against Hamas as part of last week’s proceedings. Spitzen said Feig was able to explain to the court in detail how Hamas could weaponize the two ships for use against Israel should they fall into their hands.

In reaction to the ruling, Dov Weinstein, Adam’s father, told JNS that he welcomes “anything that can stop the killing.”

He added, “The most important thing to understand is that the leaders of Hamas and the PLO don’t really care about their own people. Everything they do is to make themselves rich, while both Israelis and Palestinians pay the price.”

Weinstein noted that his family’s case against Hamas in a separate legal proceeding has been going on for 17 years for bureaucratic and political reasons, and that their concern isn’t whether or not they see the money from the sale of the ships. “The point is that we have to do a lot more to stop [terrorist groups] from money-laundering and stop the support they get from other countries,” he said. “By taking away the ships, we are taking away their power.”

In 2006, the Gavish family won a 90 million NIS ($25 million) ruling against Hamas, but even so they have yet to receive any compensation. Darshan-Leitner however is optimistic that as a result of this ruling, the ships will be sold and the families will in fact receive reparations.

Christian, Israel Love Story

16 hours 29 min ago

As the only Jew attending high school in a small town in Pennsylvania in the 1960s, Alan Newman grew up surrounded by Christians. He told Breaking Israel News that he always had “a social awareness of what it’s like to be among Christians. All my good friends were Christians.”

Newman did not experience anti-Semitism as a child. About his neighbors, he said, “They respected our Passover. They would come over and watch us light Hanukkah candles. When my father passed away in 1976, the entire town shut down because we were a beloved and respected family.”

Today, Newman is a retired banker who spends most of his time advocating for Israel. He is passionate about four interrelated topics – celebrating the miracle of the re-establishment of the State of Israel after 2,000 years, cooperating with Christian Zionists, supporting the sacrifices of lone soldiers and helping to educate Ethiopian Jews.

Since writing a book was on his bucket list, Newman channeled these four passions into creating Good Heart, a novel about the relationship between a Jewish family and a Christian family in the US over three generations and the central role Israel plays in their lives.

“It’s a love story about Israel. I was trying to tell this story so [even] an American high school student, Christian or Jew, can learn something. It’s PG-13,” Newman explained.

“It sweeps you along. It’s not a historical novel. There is no role here for Tom Cruise or Gal Gadot. It’s just regular people. [With this book], I can educate and advocate quietly. [The story] doesn’t attempt to be balanced. I wrote about the four things that most touch me about modern Israel.”

Newman believes the book is carried by “the full-bodied affection between the two main characters. Readers can walk along with them. The book is a little like having a conversation with a good friend.

“I think that most people are little people, not celebrities, movers and shakers. They want to have their feelings validated and I think the book does that. The miracles, the positive aspects of Israel are reflected.”

Newman especially wanted to amplify the stories of ordinary Christians who support Israel. In Good Heart, John Langford, patriarch of the fictional Christian family, helped liberate Dachau, the German concentration camp, in 1945. John’s love and respect for Israel was handed down to his son Bobby. “The stories and experiences of Christians seeing the camps cannot be told often enough,” the author asserted.

Newman became acquainted with Christian Zionists as a result of advocating for Israel. “My involvement and leadership within AIPAC led to meeting Christian Zionists. There are many Christian participants in AIPAC. Through AIPAC I’ve gotten to meet many leaders from CUFI and ICEJ.”

On a local level, he connected with the Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach, Florida. “Several of the Christians that belong there and are leaders there also participate with AIPAC. If you go to their events, on their stage sits an American flag to the left and on the other side is the Israeli flag. It is a heartwarming story of respecting and protecting Israel. You come away from these events with appreciation for their effort and their sincerity.”

Asked about the importance of Jews cooperating with pro-Israel Christians, Newman commented, “Christian and Jewish pro-Israel cooperation begins with the primacy of our Judeo-Christian Biblical connection and extends to Israel’s centrality to Western Civilization’s survival. To quote Shakespeare, ‘we band of brothers,’, we Christians and Jews, must stand strong to defend the truth of Israel’s legal basis and to help her to fulfill her ‘light unto the nations’ mission.”

Good Heart has been warmly received by Christian Zionist leaders, including Susan Michael, USA Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. She said, “Good Heart is a delightful read that introduces Jews and Christians to each other through a very natural and heart-warming tale of two families that intertwine with each other and the newborn State of Israel. While it is a walk down memory lane for some of us, the less familiar reader will learn much about Israel and the beauty of Jewish-Christian relations found in this tale of genuine friendship.”

While acknowledging the history of violent Christian anti-Semitism, Newman is aware that, today, “there’s a sense of moral righteousness that has come to Christians at this time in history, where they want to engage and participate with Israel.”

He further asserts that, “Jews need to appreciate the righteousness of the Christians who support Israel. How Jewish people accept the concept of the importance of the Judeo-Christian alliance leads back to why I wrote this book.”

“It’s a little book, a little story that nudges people toward learning more about Israel and to respect the relationship between Christian Zionists and Jewish Zionists. Pastor Tony Crisp, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem said about the book, “It carries within it our hearts and helps Jews and Evangelicals clear up misunderstandings without ‘preaching’ to them.”

Newman is happy to arrange for organizations that educate about Israel “to get copies of the books at a bargain price. It’s my pleasure to donate my profits to these organizations.” He wants the book to be used to gently educate people about the good points of Israel.

“I’m trying to reach out to Christian and Jewish organizations to use Good Heart to satisfy the strategic needs they have. It’s my full-time job to find organizations who can use this book, which tells a gentle little story, to help deliver some of the education and orientation [that is] needed.”

A Glimpse of Europe’s True Face

18 hours 19 min ago

Due to an unusual conflation of events, over the past two weeks we’ve caught a rare glimpse of the face of European foreign policy. We shouldn’t let it pass unremarked.

Last Friday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini presided over a curious summit in Vienna. In the same hall where she and her colleagues concluded the nuclear deal with Iran three years ago, Mogherini and her comrades tried to concoct ways to save the deal by undermining American power and defying its decision to abandon the deal.

Mogherini was joined in her efforts by the German, French and British foreign ministers. Sitting opposite them were Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers. Together they brainstormed ways to undermine the economic sanctions the US will begin implementing next month against Iran and anyone from anywhere that trades with Iran.

The Europeans made some suggestions. For instance, the European Investment Bank, they said, is authorized to invest in projects in Iran. European governments are willing to make direct deposits in Iranian banks to get around US restrictions on bank transfers to Iran.

The Germans apparently are the keenest to continue the money flow to Tehran. Bild, a Berlin-based tabloid, reported on Tuesday that Iran has asked the European-Iranian Trade Bank, which is majority owned by Iranian state-owned banks but registered in Hamburg with the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, to permit it to withdraw €350 million in cash. The Iranians intend to fly the cash to Tehran to avoid the prospect of the accounts being frozen once US sanctions are reimposed. According to the Bild report, the German government supports the cash transfer. The Merkel government believes the Iranian claim that the money will be distributed to Iranian businessmen who will be barred from using credit cards in international commerce due to the US sanctions.

The Germans apparently are happy to ignore the fact that Iran routinely uses cash to pay for its wars in Syria and Yemen. Iran regularly transfers millions of dollars in cash to Hamas in Gaza. Cash is its routine method of financing Hezbollah and its terror empire in Lebanon and throughout the world – including in Germany.

The Germans don’t care about that. Their goal is not to prevent terror. Their goal is to flood Iran with money.

Mogherini’s summit in Vienna was a statement of deep contempt for the US. Days before US President Donald Trump was scheduled to arrive on the continent, the leaders of Europe publicly colluded with Iran, China and Russia to undermine and weaken America. While shocking in and of itself, Europe’s behavior didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

Mogherini has been publicly attacking the US for walking away from the nuclear deal and declaring her allegiance to the pact three times a day, every day since May 8 when Trump announced he was pulling the US out of it and reimposing sanctions on Iran.

What we didn’t know until recently is why Mogherini and her colleagues have chosen to stand with Iran against America.
We got the answer on June 30.

Six days before the Vienna summit, Belgian security forces arrested members of an Iranian terror cell as they made their way to Paris to blow up a rally held that day by the Iranian opposition movement Mujahedin e-Khalq. The cell was led by Asduallah Asadi, the head of Iran’s intelligence network in Europe. Asadi is registered as the Iranian intelligence attaché at the Iranian embassy in Vienna. He is an officer of the Revolutionary Guards’ al-Quds Brigade, which is responsible for Iran’s foreign terror operations.

Thousands attended the rally in Paris. Among the many VIPS present were former prime minister Ehud Barak, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The arrests in Belgium drove home the fact that Iran has developed a massive terror infrastructure in Europe. The terror operatives who were arrested lived and operated in at least four countries: Germany, Austria, Belgium and France.

On the face of it, it is amazing than right after terrorists under the direct command of the Iranian regime were caught en route to carrying out an attack in Paris, Europe’s top diplomats sat down with the leaders of the regime and brainstormed how to shower them with cash in open defiance of the United States.

And that isn’t all. It is true that Mogherini and her colleagues insist the nuclear deal they love so much prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But it is also true that they know they are lying.

The Europeans don’t need Trump or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell them the deal gives Iran a clear path to a full-blown nuclear arsenal within a decade. They have known that all along. And it’s never bothered them.

So in under a week, an Iranian terror cell tried to blow up a rally in Paris and Europe’s leaders reacted by hosting their bosses in a fancy hall and promising them billions of dollars and a nuclear arsenal within a decade in defiance of the US.

WHY WOULD the Europeans do this? What does this tell us about the nature of their policy?

The first thing all of this tells us is that Europe has a very clear Iran policy. It tells us that there is no connection whatsoever between Europe’s rhetoric – which insists that Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons and that Iran must end its sponsorship of terrorism – and Europe’s policy.

As to the policy itself, Europe’s Iran policy is a policy of pure appeasement, based on profound weakness. Mogherini and her comrades are fully aware that Iran can cause them harm and intends to cause them harm. Through payoffs and betrayal of the US they hope to convince the Iranians to attack someone else instead of them. They don’t care if it’s Israel or Saudi Arabia or America. As far as the Europeans are concerned, Iran can kill whoever it wants, so long as it doesn’t attack Europe.

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This is Europe’s Iran policy. It has no other policy.

There is nothing unique about Europe’s Iran policy. Appeasement predicated on weakness and an absence of any will to defend itself stands at the heart of Europe’s policies towards all of its enemies. As for its allies, Europe expects them to serve its needs, and appease it in exchange for nodding, condescending approval.

At the NATO summit on Wednesday, Trump exposed this basic fact in relation to Europe’s Russia policy. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, no one condemned the move more passionately than the Europeans. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood at the front of the column of denouncers proclaiming Russia’s aggression would not stand.

And yet, as Trump revealed in his blunt repartee with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, while Germany passionately declaimed about Russian aggression and the threat Russia poses to Europe, Merkel was signing massive gas deals with Russia to build and expand the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. The strategic implication of Germany’s dependence on Russian gas is that the country screaming loudest about Russia has voluntarily rendered its economy dependent on Russian gas.

Merkel did this, Trump noted, while refusing to spend the requisite 2% of German GDP on its national defense and while expecting the US to defend Europe from Russia it on its own dime.

As with Iran, so with Russia, when you see the full spectrum of European actions, you realize there is no connection whatsoever between European rhetoric and European policy. As with Iran, so with Russia, Europe’s actual policy is to appease Russia by paying it off. As with Iran so with Russia, Europe expects the US to pull its fat from the fire when the going gets tough – and pay for the privilege of doing so.

Trump scares the Europeans. He doesn’t scare them because he expects them to pay for their own defense. All of his predecessors had the same expectation. He frightens the Europeans because he ignores their rhetoric while mercilessly exposing their true policy and refuses to accept it. They are scared that Trump intends to exact a price from them for their weak-kneed treachery.

Europe’s policies towards Israel follow a similar script as its other policies. As is the case with Iran and Russia, there is no connection whatsoever between Europe’s rhetoric and its actual policies. With Iran, Europe claims that it is committed to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Iran while its actual policy is to enable Iran to build a nuclear arsenal. In Israel’s case, Europeans say they strive to advance international law, human rights and peace when their actual policy negates international law, harms human rights and diminishes any possibility of peace.

Whereas Europeans fear the Iranians and the Russians, they hate Israel. And the goal of Europe’s Israel policy is to weaken the Jewish state through delegitimization, political and legal subversion and the constant threat of commercial sanctions.

Israel’s great error in contending with Europe is that we fail to recognize, as Trump recognizes, that European rhetoric doesn’t represent its actual policy. It camouflages it. We send our best lawyers to Europe to explain that our policies conform with international law. We deploy our most talented diplomats to Europe to prove that our actions advance human rights. And our greatest statesmen have spent decades trying to prove our commitment to peace.

And all these efforts are completely irrelevant. The Europeans couldn’t care less about the truth. They aren’t here to promote truth. They prefer lies. Lies help them to hide their policy predicated on hatred of Israel.

The summit in Vienna was a dud. Like Trump, the Iranians understand that European rhetoric gets them nowhere. European banks aren’t willing to lose the American market for Iran. Likewise, European conglomerates are pulling out of deals with Iran one after another to avoid US sanctions.

We don’t know where Trump wants to lead US relations with Europe. But it is clear that he intends to exact a price from Europe for its hostile policies, its weakness towards US adversaries and its double dealing with America.
Israel should draw the appropriate lessons from Trump’s actions and from the truth revealed about the nature of European policy by the events of the past two weeks.

The time has come for Israel to finally stop taking European rhetoric seriously. The time has come for Israel to begin exacting a painful price from Europe for its hostile and damaging policies towards us.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

ISAIAH 46:13

18 hours 44 min ago

In the Bible, the word Tzion (Zion) often refers to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). Reflecting upon the significance of the holy city, Holocaust survivor and Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel said, “Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness, but a symbol of trust and hope. As the Hasidic master Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav said, ‘Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart.’ Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.”

The End of the Democratic Dream

19 hours 19 min ago

Most Western countries yearn for the day that democracy is established in the Arab and Islamic world. Democracy means freedom to vote, a legitimate regime, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, the rule of law, equality among citizens, free press and all the other wonderful characteristics that make it fullfilling and desirable to live in the West.  To Western eyes, democracy is the only way to run an organized, sustainable and respectable state.

When the “Arab Spring” broke out towards the end of 2010, many Western observers thought they saw the buds of democracy beginning to flower at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, soon to make the Middle Eastern deserts bloom, while butterflies born during the Tunisian youth march fluttered above the cruel political systems of the region’s countries. And when the Muslim Brotherhood began to rule Egypt in the middle of 2012, democratically, of course, the  democracy seers called Turkey an Islamic democracy, not at all a bad thing.

Eight years have passed since then and what has become clear is that ruling dictators were definitely deposed – either entirely or partially – in five Arab states (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria) but that what took their place can hardly be called democracy. Instead, there are a variety of dictatorships: ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Al Sisi in Egypt, terror in Libya, war in Lebanon and total destruction  in Syria. Turkey, the mother of Islamic democracy, has become an Ottoman Erdogan-style Sultanate, a goal achieved, of course, by democratic means.

While governability deteriorates in the Arab world, Iranian interference becomes more and more pervasive,  entering the Arab states by way of ever-widening holes in their shaky social structure. Iran sends its militias to these countries to set up strongholds for future use, and in every place reached by Iran, the wars become crueler and harder to bring to an end. The enormous sums of US  cash money – over 100 billion dollars –  that Obama gave the Iranians funded boiling oil feeding the fires of the Middle East. Now Iran demands 300 million Euro from Germany. To what purpose?

The Arab public is not blind, nor is it deaf or stupid. It understands full well what is happening, and the ensuing despair all over the Middle East about the possibility of finding a solution to the region’s woes through nice, desirable European solutions such as democracy, is the reason for  the waves of migrants to Europe.

In previous articles written over the past few years, I described the difficulty in adapting a solution that reflects European culture to the Middle East’s problems. The culture gap is simply too large and too deep.

Elaph, the first and largest independent daily online newspaper in the Arab world, recently ran a survey whose results were very worrying. They bear out my claim that democracy is not applicable in this region.  The survey is brought below almost in its entirety, as published in Elaph by Khian Alajeri, with my additions in parentheses.

“When elections result in a handicapped child! The Arab majority says No, No! And does not believe in democratic fairness in our land.”

Elaph asked its readers: “Do you believe democratic equitability can exist in Arab states? ” An overwhelming majority answered in the negative. This is, to all intents, in opposition to the Arab Spring which destroyed countries, exiled their residents and spawned handicapped children who do not believe in democracy.

Once the spark of new Arab revolutions was lit by the “Jasmine Revolution”  in Tunisia, and signs of an Arab Spring were seen on the horizon after a long winter of dictatorship, a large proportion of Arabs were informed about the proposed democratic changes – without the use of jaded expressions such as “the needs of the period” and the usual war-against-Israel excuse for shutting mouths and postponing democracy.

The winds, however, blew in a direction unacceptable to the Arab junior fleet which yearned for a pluralistic political society, for freedom of opinion, for enhanced social and economic development based on ending the regime’s monopolies, war economy and state of  emergency that went from temporary to permanent while the volatile regimes stabilized.

At the edge of the abyss

Elaph asked its readers in its weekly poll: “Do you believe in the fairness of democratic activities in Arab nations?” The answers were sweepingly negative, because the percent of responders who have given up on that fairness was over 96%. Only 4% showed evidence that the fires of democracy remain alight in their souls.

It hurts to see the Arab world’s despair, see it reaching the edge of an abyss, but before relating to the reasons for the large gap between the two answers to the question asked, there is no way to avoid admitting that Arab democracy is in a state of crisis today.

Those who are pro-democracy suffer from the sharp drop in the ideological and popular attraction of the mantras they have been repeating for decades: “Rule of law,” “equal citizenship”, “human rights” and “changing governments,” especially in the face of a worrisome rise in nationalist consciousness and ethnic conflicts.

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What is worrying  is that these conflicts and states of consciousness are the rule in the supposedly advanced societies  based on political pluralism, those which pride themselves on their democratic heritage and on exporting the basic tenets of democracy to Third World dictatorships.

(The survey then contains a brief description of democracy in crisis and the rise of the undemocratic right in Europe over the past few years.)

If that is the situation in the West, what can we expect from the Arabs? The “wars to depose rulers” of the Arab Spring have come out in the open, because Arab society is accustomed to obeying orders about what to do and what not to do and is not capable of accepting debate and partnership. The Arabs overwhelmingly refuse to accept the idea of popular rule, the right to criticize those responsible and hold them accountable, even in the case of parliamentary institutions established by so-called elections. This refusal forms the widespread basis for corrupt political life in the Arab world.

Reading this report, there is no way to avoid admitting that Arab political life in the second decade of the 21st century is still held hostage by despotic rulers, those sycophants who surround them and those who carry out their orders with a heavy hand. All the talk about fair and honest democratic contests for the ruling offices in Arab countries is simply a dream balloon that burst – and this is what the great majority of those asked their opinion in the Elaph survey said.

The question of the level of faith Arabs have in their elite class is legitimate, especially in those states that cannot separate religion and state and refuse to countenance any conversation about liberalism, no matter how restrained.

Hiza Almajali says: The excuse for separating religion and state in the Islamic world after the collapse of the Ottoman Caliphate was not a result of revolutions, uprisings and the refusal of Islamic society to be ruled by a regime based on religion (that is, no secular leanings here) but because the regime was in the hands of those who used religion to legitimize their rule, oppress the people and treat them with no mercy (that is, separation is in order to free religion from the chains of power). That is how in the Arab world when the call to separate religion and state was sounded (in Egyptian Arab socialism, the Syrian and Iraqi Baath party), religion became a means to create even more despotism, not a way to advance democratic fairness in societies that always wanted to believe in “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

The eight years since the Arab Spring began with the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia led to frightening developments regarding fair democracy and gave rise to Islamist rule that has no vestige whatsoever of democracy, while democracy’s sons have betrayed her. The people of Tunis, Libya, Yemenis, Egyptians and Syrians aspired to create a society that would free itself from dictators, but these democratic aspirations led them to an Islamist society and struggles over the different interpretations of Sharia Law and its turning into the law of the land (article ends here.)

The article in Elaph continues on in the same vein, but its author forgot to tell readers about the intrinsic difficulty democracy faces in Islamic society, one that comes from the powerful internal contradiction between Islam and the building blocks of democracy:  Islam is founded on Allah’s laws and commands, while democracy is based on choosing people to serve in a legislative body where they enact laws proposed by human beings.

Islam teaches that Muslims are on a higher plane than people who follow other religions, while democracy is based on considering all religions equal.  Islam does not allow criticism of its tenets and beliefs, while democracy believes in freedom of thought, speech, opinion and criticism. The Koran states that “men are appointed to rule over women,” while democracy believes in gender equality.

In order to attain real democracy, Islamic society would have to limit religion to the private and family spheres, removing its jurisdiction over political and social affairs. As long as Islamic society feels committed to having Islam define its society, creating a democratic society is difficult, if not totally impossible.

This is one of the reasons I urge the world to accept the Emirate Plan, the only solution that can survive the political tempests of the Middle East.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

After Helsinki: US Abandons Legal Obligations in Syria

20 hours 20 min ago

Among several noteworthy and interrelated Helsinki summit policy derelictions – most obviously, Vladimir Putin’s still unpunished aggressions in Crimea – US President Donald Trump chose to ignore America’s binding legal obligations regarding Russian war crimes in Syria. This sorely evident disregard reflects not “merely” willful antipathy to pertinent international law, but also a concurrent indifference to certain primary laws of the United States. In essence, this effectively dual-level violation exists because US law incorporates the preexisting law of nations, whether directly (either by express Constitutional requirement, or by specific Supreme Court ruling) or by the more general but equally authoritative convergence of various customary legal norms. The express Constitutional requirement or specific Supreme Court rulings are seen especially especially in Article VI of the US Constitution (the “Supremacy Clause”) and two prominent cases from the US Supreme Court: Paquete Habana(1900) and Tel Oren v. Libyan Arab Republic (1984).

Significantly, both forms of domestic incorporation are vital, incontestable and immutable. This conclusion follows directly from the explicit terms of Article 38 of the 1945 Statute of the International Court of Justice.

Under mutually reinforcing rules of national and international law – rules that are known more formally as “peremptory” or “jus cogens” norms because they permit “no derogation” – an American president simply has no recognizable right to ignore egregious Russian war crimes committed against Syrian civilians. This absolute prohibition extends to literally any conceivable reason or pretext for such indifference, including even the “traditional” presumption of geopolitical advantages expectedly accruing to the United States. Among other relevant documents, the US Declaration of Independence codifies a social contract that sets limits on the power of any government, including the operational powers of war waging. Accordingly, because justice, which is ultimately based on “natural law,” commits all human society, those specific rights articulated by the Declaration can never be reserved exclusively to Americans.

Of necessity, they must extend to all human societies.

However much it is unrecognized in the current White House, this is still “the law.” For Mr. Trump to suggest otherwise, as he did at Helsinki, if “only” by omission, is both illogical and self-contradictory. By definition, after all, any such injurious suggestion could nullify the immutable and universal law of nature from which the Declarationand all subsequent US law necessarily derive.

Precious few Americans are even remotely aware of this basic history or its corollary jurisprudence, but both facts and law remain valid nonetheless. Furthermore, as just a matter of usefully specific history, the actual conveyance of natural law thinking into American Constitutional theory was largely the work of John Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government. In view of our current jurisprudential concerns, this particular history warrants some distinct and entirely visible respect.

Back in 1776, a then future American president named Thomas Jefferson relied upon this Treatise to craft his own Declaration of Independence. Significantly, can anyone seriously maintain today that US President Donald Trump has any idea about John Locke or his influence upon national and world law (or, for that matter, about even Thomas Jefferson)?

Now, in all important matters of national legal obligation, history deserves some recognizable pride of place. While fellow seventeenth-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes regarded the natural law and civil law as coextensive, Locke echoed a more than two thousand year tradition with his markedly contrary view. This critically opposite stance was that the civil law must be kept consistent with preexisting natural law, always. Moreover, regarding the related laws of war of international law, sometimes termed the law of armed conflict or humanitarian international law, obligatory respect for noncombatant populations in warfare goes back much further; indeed, as far as the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, especially the basic rules outlined in Deuteronomy.

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For an American president, it is not enough to justify an apparent “ally’s” war crimes because of mutually gainful geopolitical goals, e.g., the destruction of ISIS. Accepting the timeless legal maxim – jus ex injuria non oritur – “rights do not arise from wrongs” – Mr. Trump should finally attempt to grasp certain fundamental traditions and pertinent laws of his own country, and then proceed to acknowledge them as the only permissible standard for enforcing the civilizing laws of war. More broadly, the president also needs to understand these unchanging obligations as one part of the vastly more general obligation to support the international law of human rights.

Again, the basic principles of this even wider law are already incorporated into certain vibrant statutes of the United States. As one example, the US Department of State is required to enforce the universal human rights provisions mandated by sections 116 (d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.

For several years, Russian bombs have maimed and killed thousands of Syrian noncombatants, sometimes with chemical components, and always without even a hint of decent concern for compliance with the laws of war of international law. By failing to reference these persistently indiscriminate killings during his recent summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin at Helsinki, US President Donald Trump made the United States complicit in genuinely grievous international crimes. More precisely, he openly violated not only American jurisprudential obligations to the UN Charter, the Hague and Geneva Conventions, and assorted longstanding rules of warfare concerning discrimination (sometimes called “distinction”), proportionality and military necessity, but he also managed to sully the closely related expectations of US law. In the final analysis, these multiple and coinciding Russian derelictions are significant not just because they express formal legal “delicts” or codified “wrongs,” but because they inevitably bring very tangible and palpable suffering to wholly innocent human beings.

Following other once-unthinkable Helsinki summit concessions by Donald Trump, they already represent unforgivable crimes for which the United States must conspicuously accept a derivative but still-major responsibility.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jurist

Did Hamas Recruit Falcon Terrorists?

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 10:22

A dead falcon was found in Southern Israel on Monday with strings attaching it to incendiary material, leading investigators to conjecture that the bird had been sent into Israel as part of the ongoing aerial arson attacks launched from Gaza.

The falcon, a bird of prey native to Israel also known as a kestrel, was found hanging from a burned tree near the Nahal Habesor riverbed not far from the border. As part of the Hamas-led March of Return riots that began on March 30, thousands of incendiary kites and balloons have been flown into Israel, setting fires that have burned thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves. On the day the falcon was discovered, Israeli firefighters extinguished 15 wildfires ignited by Gazan kites and balloons.

Nature and Parks Authority officials investigated the incident and discovered a harness on the corpse of the bird, leading them to believe it was a trained bird. Officials have yet to determine whether the bird was rigged with flammable materials and sent into Israel or whether it became entangled with the flammable materials while in flight.

The IDF has tried many high-tech tactics to battle the low-tech incendiary kites with little success. The kites and helium balloons have also been rigged with explosives and last month, one balloon travelled 45 miles before setting a fire in central Israel.

The falcon has become entangled in the regional conflict before. In 2013, a kestrel tagged by Israeli researchers was captured in Turkey and officials claimed it was being used by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, for spying and reconnaissance. The charges against the kestrel were eventually dropped and the bird released.

Parents’ App Prevents Online Threats to Children

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 09:41

The brainchild of Israeli father-of-three, Enon Landenberg, Bosco is an app designed to reassure parents who can check on how their kids are feeling and what they are up to – such as when they leave school or arrive back home – without spying on them. It can also be used to identify and nullify potential online threats, such as online bullying or from adults posing as kids.

Syrian Refugees Waving White Flags Turned Back From Israeli Border

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 09:02

An estimated 100-200 Syrians approached to within 200 yards of the Israeli border, waving white flags earlier today, before the IDF ordered them to return to Syria.

The scene was captured on video by Reuters. In the footage, an IDF soldier was heard yelling to the Syrians in Arabic, “You are on the border of the State of Israel. Go back, we don’t want to hurt you.”

The Syrian people has been ravaged by a civil war that has been raging since 2011, and which has killed an estimated 500,000 civilians. Russia maintains a significant military presence in Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces.

The Russian-backed Syrian army is currently pushing an offensive against rebel forces in the Daraa region of southwestern Syria. The United Nations reported that approximately 120,000 Syrians have fled the region but several thousand are in refugee camps close to the border with Israel. Syria possesses an unwelcome record, being the location of the world’s largest population of internally displaced refugees. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre claims that number is approximately 6.8 million people, with an additional 5.5 million who have managed to flee the war-torn country to both neighboring countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon and further afield to Egypt and Europe.

Israel has provided substantial humanitarian aid to the refugees and transported injured for treatment in Israeli hospitals. But the IDF stated that it will protect Israel’s security interests by securing the borders and will not allow Syrian refugees into Israel.

The Israeli government has insisted on Syria adhering to the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement which calls for a demilitarized buffer zone along the border. This zone, intended to prevent any sudden breakouts of hostilities, has become a safe haven for Syrian refugees.

Biblical Pillars of Smoke and Fire Spotted in Arizona

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 08:06

In a bizarre elemental display, a raging wildfire in Mohave, Arizona, created a swirling updraft, in turn forming a pillar of fire and smoke. Even more bizarre was when the blaze reached the river, and the swirling smoke over the water was suddenly transformed into a waterspout.

The past month has been especially challenging, as wildfires rage across the United States. The fire was considered relatively small at 924 acres, but much of the brush being consumed by the blaze was saltcedar, which burns at exceptionally high temperatures.

On Saturday, Chris and Ann Mackie stopped to watch the fire as it burned on the other side of the Colorado River. Much to their amazement, the fire and heat generated a swirling effect, forming what is referred to as a ‘firenado.’

Even more amazing was that the cone of smoke moved out over the water and continued to swirl, turning suddenly into a waterspout that pulled water from the river up into the air. The power of the unusual phenomenon was such that Chris Mackie exclaimed, “The branches are being pulled up into the air. I see big trees falling.”

The video could be taken directly from Exodus, which described the pillars of smoke and fire that watched over the Children of Israel.

Hashem went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, to guide them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, that they might travel day and night. Exodus 13:21

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, noted that the strange sight in Arizona coincided with a significant occurrence that shook the religious world in Israel.

“On Saturday, when this vision of a pillar of smoke and a pillar of fire appeared on the other side of the world, a great tzaddik (righteous Jew) passed away in Israel: Rabbi Shraya Deblizki,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News.

Rabbi Shraya Deblizki (Credit: Wikipedia)

“In the Zohar, it is written that before the Messiah from the House of David appears, there will first be the Messiah from the house of Joseph. The Messiah from the house of David will be a specific person but the Messiah from the house of Joseph will be a process, focusing on the return to Israel. But the Zohar (the writings that are the basis for Jewish mysticism) goes on to say that before the Messiah from the House of David will be revealed, a hidden righteous man will be essential in helping prepare the way for him to be revealed. The Zohar states explicitly that the hidden righteous man’s name will be Shraya.”

Rabbi Berger met with Rabbi Deblizki last year and asked him several questions concerning the geula (redemption). Rabbi Deblizki said that for 70 years the erev rav (mixed multitude) will rule in Israel but that period will end, and beginning this year, the rule of the erev rav will begin to wane.

“It is written in the Zohar that a pillar of fire appears when tzaddikim leave the world and there have been many cases throughout history where this has been witnessed,”Rabbi Berger said, noting that Elijah the prophet, the harbinger of the messiah, left the world on a chariot that rose up on a whirlwind of fire.

As they kept on walking and talking, a fiery chariot with fiery horses suddenly appeared and separated one from the other; and Eliyahu went up to heaven in a whirlwind. II Kings 2:11

“This appearance of a pillar of fire in Arizona is like ripples flowing out when a large rock is thrown into a calm lake,” said Berger. “When Rabbi Deblizki left the world, this marked the beginning of a new stage in the geula. Very few people had the eyes to see it but the effects are going out into the world.”

Rabbi Berger noted that Rabbi Deblizki performed many austere and difficult acts of devotion including fasts and all-night prayer sessions.

“But the mitzvah (Torah commandment) he was most stringent in was in guarding his tongue from speaking slanders, lies, or even silliness,” Berger concluded.

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Watch as Firenado becomes Waterspout!

Chris and Anne Mackie recorded this amazing video in Blythe on Saturday as a brush fire on the Arizona side of the Colorado River gives rise to a Firenado which then forms a waterspout! I'll showcase this tonight in weather on the KUSI NEWS at 6pm and 10pm.

Posted by Dave Scott KUSI on Sunday, July 15, 2018

IDF Deploys Iron Dome to Tel Aviv

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 05:58

In response to increasing tensions between Israel and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the IDF has expanded Iron Dome’s umbrella of protection to Tel Aviv and other cities in the south within range of terrorist rockets.

Nicaraguan Jew Waiting to Make Aliyah Kidnapped and Beaten

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 05:27

The urgency of the plight of Nicaraguan Jews was emphasized on Monday morning when Henry Carrillo, a father to three small children, and one of a group of 69 Jews attempting to make aliyah, was assaulted and then kidnapped on his way to synagogue.

Carrillo was on his way to morning prayers, wearing a white shirt, black pants, and a white kippa. He was carrying his prayer book and tallit (prayer shawl). After prayers, he did arrive home. His wife knew immediately that something was wrong since they had made plans to go to the hospital with one of children who is sick with pneumonia. His cell phone was turned off and it was impossible to call him. The situation became clear a few hours later when his mother was contacted by a cell phone message containing photos of her son, beaten but still alive, and a demand for $2,000.

“He was clearly identifiable as a Jew so he may have been kidnapped for that reason,” Rabbi Nisim Makor, head of Machon Kibutz Galuyot, an organization helping the community, told Breaking Israel News. “There is also a group called the Kendalls who dress in white shirts so it could be that he was kidnapped by their enemies. But the situation is so bad with violence of the most extreme sort ruling the streets, that his kidnapping might be a case of random violence.”

Rabbi Makor helped the family raise money for his ransom but they were only successful in raising $1,200, which the kidnappers grudgingly accepted. Carillo was released to his family. In the meantime, there was another unsuccessful attempt at kidnapping a Jew from the community.

Pidyon Shvuyim (ransoming captives) is one of the most important mitzvoth (Torah commandments) Jews are required to perform, and the responsibility falls on the community as a whole.The Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law compiled by Rabbi Yosef Karo in 1563 states, “Every moment that one delays in freeing captives, in cases where it is possible to expedite their freedom, is considered to be tantamount to murder.”

Requests to process their aliyah from the Jewish Agency were denied though Isaac Herzog, the incoming head of the agency, has promised to help facilitate the process. Herzog, unfortunately, will not begin his term until the beginning of August.

About three months ago, eight members of the community applied to make aliyah. As the situation in Nicaragua deteriorated, many more joined and a total of 80 individuals applied for assistance in their aliyah process. Eleven people chose to flee to other countries of refuge rather than risk waiting for their aliyah to be accepted. Sixty-nine people are still waiting for their aliyah process to move forward.

Much of the difficulty is due to poor relations between Israel and Nicaragua, which have always been strained. Nicaragua suspended political ties between the two countries in 2010 in response to the Mavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli commandos killed Turkish nationals – who were supposed to be unarmed –  when trying to violate the blockade of Gaza. Though diplomatic relations were restored in May 2017, Nicaragua is a close ally of Iran. President Ortega is a long-time opponent of the U.S. and his ire at the superpower is frequently focused on its closest ally, Israel.

Many of the people in the community grew up believing they were Jewish. Others knew that they were descended from Bnei Anousim (Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions in the 15th and 16th centuries). To formalize their identities as part of the Jewish people, they began the process of converting to Judaism in 2011. Since that time, 160 individuals have completed the conversion process and are recognized by the Conservative movement. The community built a mikveh, necessary for conversion and for Jewish family purity, and a synagogue where they conduct religious activities.

The political situation in Nicaragua took a drastic turn for the worse on April 18, when protesters took to the streets in opposition to President Daniel Ortega. The government reacted violently and more than 200 people have been killed in the last two months.

ISAIAH 37:32

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 05:04

Tzion (Zion) is often used as another name for Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). The name Tzion is first found in II Samuel 5:7 in reference to a mountain near Yerushalayim. A Jebusite fortress stood on this mountain and was conquered by David and later renamed City of David. The term Tzion came to designate the entire Jerusalem region and Solomon’s Temple.

Israel Closes Kerem Shalom Crossing, Response to Ceasefire Break

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 04:03

Israel announced Monday evening that it is closing the Kerem Shalom crossing, cutting off fuel and gas supplies to the Gaza Strip, but allowing medicines and food to pass through after a ceasefire agreement was violated earlier in the afternoon when a rocket was fired into southern Israel.

“Due to continued attempts to carry out terror by the Hamas terror organization, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has decided, on the advice of the chief of staff, to close the Kerem Shalom crossing to fuel and gas until next Sunday,” a statement read from the Defense Ministry.

“Food and medicine will continue to be transferred and will be approved on an individual basis. Moreover, it has been decided to narrow the fishing zone in the Gaza Strip from a range of six nautical miles to three nautical miles,” the statement added.

Hamas responded to the decision. “The Israeli sanction reflects Israeli intentions to intensify the siege on Gaza and to carry out more crimes against the citizens of Gaza,” the terrorist group’s statement claimed. “The world must break its silence about the crimes against humanity that Israel is committing.”

A Red Cross vehicle arrives at the Rafah border crossing. (Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

In addition, the Egyptians announced that they were temporarily closing the Rafah crossing due to a technical malfunction. A bus on its way to the crossing was forced to turn around due to the Egyptian announcement, which emphasized that the malfunction was on the Egyptian side and that the closure would only be temporary.

The Rafah crossing has been opened since the month of Ramadan every day except Friday and Saturday.

Last Monday, Israel said it was closing the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s main commercial crossing, and limiting the Palestinian coastal enclave’s fishing zone in a crackdown targeting the Hamas terror organization responsible for border protests now in their fourth month.

A rocket launched from Gaza landed in open space in south Israel on Monday evening, despite a Sunday announcement from Hamas and Islamic Jihad that a ceasefire had been reached with Israel after the region witnessed a major flare-up over the weekend.

Local residents reported hearing an explosion after a Code Red alert blared in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council at 5:36pm.

The rocket launch came shortly after the IDF confirmed Palestinian reports that it had attacked two observation posts in Beit Hanoun and Jabalia on Monday afternoon located near areas from which Palestinians had flown incendiary balloons earlier in the day.

According to the IDF, the attack was carried out in response to the kite and balloon terror led by Hamas against Israeli civilians and against Israeli sovereignty.

Throughout the day, firefighters were once again called to Israeli Gaza-border communities on as flames incinerated more landscape at the Karmiya Reserve between Kibbutz Karmiya and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai.

The firefighters in the area were assisted by three planes. A thick blanket of smoke caused by the fires covered the areas around the kibbutzim and near Zikim and Moshav Netiv HaAsara, while residents complaining that it was difficult to breath were advised to stay in their homes and close the windows until further notice.

In addition, the Eshkol Regional Council reported that since the morning, seven fires had broken out, six of which were brought under control by firefighters.