Subscribe to Breaking Israel News feed
Updated: 2 hours 37 min ago

Parashat Shoftim: Surround Yourself with Cleanliness

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 02:00

When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you? Devarim 20:19

“Cleanliness is not next to Godliness nowadays,

for cleanliness is made an essential,

and Godliness is regarded as an offence.”
– G.K.  Chesterton

Throughout most of history, religious Jews’ hygiene standards were far more advanced than those of most other people. Indeed, Jewish law dating back thousands of years contains a far-reaching codex for personal and environmental cleanliness that would seem novel and forward-thinking to many twenty-first century lawyers, environmentalists, and public health-care workers.

Besides numerous laws that prohibit needless destruction of the natural environment and its resources, as well as pollution in its various forms, Jewish Law also seeks to preserve animal life and maintain clean and pleasant conditions both in the home and in the public domain.

The Torah of the Bathroom

In a fascinating narrative, the Talmud tells of the great Rabbi Huna who asked his son why he was not attending the lectures of Rabbi Chisda, a brilliant, younger colleague. Rabbi Huna’s son, in his innocence, answered that he wanted “to hear words of Torah and not about worldly matters.” Taken aback by this response, Rabbi Huna asked his son which “worldly matters” Rabbi Chisda actually discussed. The son responded that the sage lectured about cleanliness and appropriate behavior in the bathroom. After hearing this, Rabbi Huna exclaimed in wonderment, “Here are matters of health [and thus of Torah], and you call them worldly matters!?!”

On another occasion, the Mishna states that “it is not permitted to soak clay in the public highway…. During building operations, stones [and other building materials] must be deposited immediately on the building site [and not left on the road].” The Talmud also forbids other forms of litter, such leaving shards of glass in the public domain. The purpose of these laws is to protect the public against injury, and also to ensure a minimum standard of cleanliness in society.

With their keen insight into human nature, the Jewish sages understood the direct impact of these laws on the society’s psychological well-being. The Talmud quotes a source that states that if a spring serves as the water supply for two towns, but does not provide sufficient water for both, the town closer to the source takes precedence. The other town, in such a case, would need to find other ways to get sufficient water. However, when it is a choice between the farther town’s drinking water and the nearer town’s laundry water supply, the farther town’s drinking water should come first.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

The Cause of Depression

To our surprise, Rabbi Yossi objects to this ruling and states that the closer town’s laundry water will take priority over the farther town’s drinking water! The Talmud, explaining Rabbi Yossi’s reasoning, refers to a statement of the famous authority, Shmuel, who says that constantly wearing dirty clothes causes depression and mental instability!

In other words, clean garments are not a luxury. Jewish law considers cleanliness a necessity. The great Halachic authority, Rabbi Ahai Gaon (8th century), ruled that the law is decided according to Rabbi Yossi’s opinion.A wealth of similar laws and observations are to be found throughout traditional Jewish literature.

Unfortunately, these laws do not seem to be of great concern within many orthodox communities today. Though litter does not pollute the streets of orthodox communities any more so than in some secular communities, one still wonders why rabbis and religious leaders who are so genuinely committed to the Torah and Tradition do not speak out on these issues to ensure that the relevant laws receive the attention they deserve. Indeed, given the spirit of Jewish Law, we would expect that the streets in orthodox neighborhoods would look remarkably cleaner than anywhere else.

By implementing the Torah’s laws in this realm – which should really not be too difficult, for after all, we’re only talking about throwing garbage in bins rather than in the streets – orthodox communities will take away much of the ammunition in their secular detractors’ arsenals, and in so doing, will make a tremendous kiddush Hashem, which is in fact the purpose of being a Jew.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Times of Israel

Peter Beinart’s Latest Publicity Stunt

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 01:00

There has been a lot of hand-wringing in official Israel over the brief questioning of anti-Israel author Peter Beinart at Ben-Gurion Airport this week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on the episode calling it “an administrative mistake.”

Netanyahu added, “Israel is an open society which welcomes all – critics and supporters alike.”

Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy Michael Oren said Beinart’s questioning is grounds “for an immediate examination of all policy towards the entry of political activists.”

Speaking to Israel National News, Oren said, “Detaining American Jewish reporter Peter Beinart is an example of how acting unwisely causes both strategic and PR damage.

“Beinart is a top-rate American media person. Most of his opinions about Israel disgust me, but he does not support BDS, and in fact defines himself as a Zionist.”

Oren’s position is problematic first and foremost because it is factually wrong.

Beinart is a major supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Indeed, he is a central figure in the movement. This mere fact renders Beinart’s protestations of Zionism disingenuous, to put it mildly.

In 2012, Beinart published an oped in The New York Times calling for the boycott, divestment and sanction of all Israeli goods produced by Israeli Jews in Judea and Samaria.

His crass insensitivity towards Israeli Jews in Judea and Samaria was striking: “If moderate settlers resent being lumped in with their more ideologically driven counterparts deep in occupied territory, they should agitate for a two-state solution that would make possible their incorporation into democratic Israel. Or they should move.”

Beinart described the boycott as part of an overall political warfare strategy that American Jews should undertake against Israel and its American supporters.

“We should lobby to exclude settler-produced goods from America’s free-trade deal with Israel,” Beinart said. “We should push to end Internal Revenue Service policies that allow Americans to make tax-deductible gifts to settler charities. Every time an American newspaper calls Israel a democracy, we should urge it to include the caveat: only within the green line.”

Even Beinart’s most fervent admirers viewed his call for BDS against Jewish products in Judea and Samaria as a transparent means to facilitate BDS against Israel as a whole.

Jane Eisner, editor of the far-left The Forward newspaper wrote, the “optics of Beinart’s proposal” are “dangerous,” because they provide “implicit support for the broader BDS movement.”

But as has since become clear, that was his goal.

Beinart devotes great energy to mainstreaming anti-Israel activists who reject Israel’s right to exist.

For instance, in July 2016, Beinart joined a group of radical Jewish anti-Israel activists in staging a confrontation with the IDF in Hebron. The group entered a closed military zone and trampled the land of a Palestinian farmer to film themselves looking brave. The farmer called the army to have them removed. A group of soldiers answered his call and removed Beinart and his comrades. They filmed themselves looking brave as they were being ejected from the land they trespassed on.

Speaking to the JTA reporter who joined them in their stunt, Beinart gushed, “I feel like I’m seeing the emergence of a new leadership. People will try to write these guys off as lefties that don’t have a connection to the Jewish community. But… these kids actually come from the bosom of the Jewish community.”

But as JTA noted, Beinart’s characterization of his comrades was false. They did not come from the “bosom of the Jewish community,” they came from its radical fringes. Members of four groups took part in Beinart’s stunt: J Street, the New Israel Fund, Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow.

All of the four groups support BDS to one degree or another. The New Israel Fund funds BDS groups. J Street provides BDS groups with platforms to spew their views and so serves as a gateway to membership in them.

IfNowNow is one of the most radical groups in the American Jewish community. An offshoot of J Street, not only does it support BDS, it works to subvert pro-Israel groups and institutions to indoctrinate American Jews to hate Israel and view its existence as illegitimate.

Jewish Voice for Peace is one of the most virulent antisemitic groups in the US. It serves as a fig leaf for BDS groups like Students for Justice for Palestine which have proven links to Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

And Beinart is working to facilitate these anti-Israel and anti-Jewish radicals in their efforts to take over leadership positions in the American Jewish community.

To understand just how hostile Beinart’s actions are, it is necessary to take a step back and understand the nature of the BDS movement.

This week AMCHA Initiative, a group that monitors antisemitic and anti-Israel activities on US college campuses published a groundbreaking report. Unlike AMCHA’s previous AMCHA reports, and reports by other American Jewish groups that monitor campus antisemitism, AMCHA’s latest report discusses campus antisemitism from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective. That is, the report doesn’t merely count the number of antisemitic incidents. AMCHA developed and applied a methodology to measure the actual harm the incidents caused to their victims.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

The results are alarming.

AMCHA analyzed antisemitic incidents on US campuses between 2015 and the first half of 2018. It divided anti-Jewish attacks into classic antisemitic attacks and Israel-themed antisemitic attacks. The former category includes incidents such as Nazi graffiti and vandalism. The latter category includes anti-Israel related harassment and other attacks.

The report shows that anti-Israel incidents are less directed against Israeli academics and Israel than in previous years and increasingly directed against Jewish students and student groups.

AMCHA’s report showed that while classic antisemitic attacks were nearly three times more frequent than Israel-related antisemitic incidents, (205 to 71), 94 percent of Israel-related antisemitic incidents demonstrated an intent to harm Jewish students and groups on campus. Twenty-five percent of the classic antisemitic incidents demonstrated such an intent.

Consequently, the report concludes that “Israel-related antisemitic incidents are considerably more likely to contribute to a hostile campus atmosphere for Jewish students than are incidents which involve ‘classic types of antisemitic expression.’”

As Professor Miriam Elman from Syracuse University wrote in a summary analysis of the AMCHA report published at Legal Insurrection website, the report found as well that “Israel-related incidents are becoming ‘significant and flagrant,’ and are increasingly characterized by a shift from a focus on anti-Israel boycotts and divestment campaigns to actual boycotts of Jewish students and student groups.”

One such incident occurred last April at New York University. Spurred by Students for Justice in Palestine and Beinart’s comrades from Jewish Voice for Peace, 51 student groups signed a pledge that endorsed BDS and committed them to “boycotting NYU’s pro-Israel clubs, Realize Israel and TorchPAC, by not co-sponsoring events with them, as well as boycotting off-campus pro-Israel groups such as Birthright-Taglit, the Maccabee Task Force, Mosaic United, Zionist Organization of America, American-Israeli [sic] Political Action Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.”

Along the lines of the antisemitic ostracism of student groups and national Jewish organizations that represent the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community at NYU, AMCHA found that the most common form of Israel-related antisemitism on campus are activities designed to suppress pro-Israel expressions and ostracize and marginalize Zionist students.

“44 percent of Israel-related incidents involved behavior intended to silence expression, including shutting down, disrupting, defacing or other attempts to interfere with Israel-related events, displays or trips,” the report said. “76% involved behavior that directly and personally targeted students or groups for denigration or discrimination in order to ostracize and exclude them from campus life.”

Not only are bids to ostracize, silence and marginalize Jews and Jewish groups on campus now the most common form of Israel-related antisemitic attacks. They are the fastest growing type of antisemitic attacks. Whereas in 2015 there were three incidents that included “calls to boycott any and all interaction with Zionist students or groups, and… open calls to expel these students or groups (like Hillel) from campus,” in 2017 the number jumped to 14 and there were 18 such incidents in the first half of 2018 alone.

Unlike classic antisemitic incidents, which are generally quickly addressed by campus administrators, AMCHA found that “administrators have generally been far less likely to adequately address these Israel-related incidents than they have acts of classic antisemitism.”

AMCHA partially attributes this failure to protect Jewish students to the fact that “university administrators rarely recognize anti-Zionist harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination, because they see it as motivated by political considerations rather than ethnic or religious ones.”

Elman notes that the upshot of the AMCHA data is that “Jews are being told that they must disavow a huge chunk of their identity before they can participate in campus life.”

Which brings us back to Beinart.

As the AMCHA report shows, Beinart’s anti-Israel activism, including his support for BDS, empowers the most dangerous and rapidly growing antisemitic campaign in the US. This campaign which seeks to trample the basic freedoms of Jews who support Israel, is the gravest threat to the future of American Jewry. It is antisemitic in both character and effect. And Beinart and his comrades are right at the center of it.

Whereas campus administrators view this behavior as part of a legitimate political debate, last year the Knesset recognized it for what it is: a virulent type of antisemitism that needs to be fought. The Knesset understood that while the BDS movement pretends to engage in political discourse, its actual goal is to disenfranchise of American Jews by denying them their constitutional rights of freedom of speech, religion and assembly.

Acting on this insight, in March 2017 the Knesset passed a law barring BDS activists from entering Israel. The prohibition on entry includes BDS advocates who support the boycott of “all areas under[Israeli] control.”
As an activist who spearheads a drive to boycott Israeli Jews and Jewish businesses operating in Israeli controlled Judea and Samaria, Beinart is legally barred from entering Israel.

And as he wrote in an article in the Forward this week, Beinart knew he was barred from entering Israel. He came anyway. And just as his stunt in Hebron two years ago was a provocation geared towards harming Israel’s image, so his trip to Israel – made with full knowledge that at a minimum he would be questioned upon landing – was a stunt geared toward harming Israel’s image and empowering his admirers to escalate their anti-Israel activities.

Israel’s apologies and hand-wringing were out of place. Like his comrades on campuses, Beinart’s behavior shouldn’t be characterized as political speech. He is no mere “critic” of Israel. He is an activist who devotes himself to supporting an anti-Jewish campaign whose purpose is to constrain the freedom of American Jewry and cause lasting harm to the Jewish state.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

Omarosa and Peak Trump Bashing Hits Publishing

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 00:00

Did a major publishing firm waste seven figures on Unhinged, Omarosa Manigault’s fake book?

A parody tweet featuring a faked except from Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury book created the Gorilla Channel meme as media types quickly fell for the idea that President Trump spent 17 hours a day watching an imaginary cable channel where gorillas fight each other.

But that’s nothing.

A Simon and Schuster subsidiary paid Omarosa Manigault a reported seven figures for a book in which she claims that Trump wanted to take his oath of office on a copy of The Art of the Deal instead of the bible. The source of the story appears not to be Trump, but a popular Trump impersonator.

Someone should have noticed that. But when fake news meets fake books, there’s no time to check the stories that are too good not to print. The seemingly endless appetite of lefties for Trump bashing touched off a gold rush in the media and its allied publishing companies to mint new bestsellers.

Unhinged, the Omarosa book in question, was apparently sold in July and published in August.

That’s a ridiculously quick turnaround that would have made any serious fact checking impossible. Nor, apparently, was any serious fact-checking attempted, according to subjects like Frank Luntz and George Conway, who are named in the claims that she makes about President Trump using racial slurs.

Simon and Schuster is a subsidiary of CBS. The entanglement between fake books and fake news is a phenomenon that pervades the various sectors of the media as reporters write and report on books.

Simon and Schuster, like many other publishers, has been cashing in on Trump Derangement Syndrome. Samples include Bob Woodward’s ‘FEAR: Trump in the White House’ to be published on 9/11, ‘It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America’, a book whose title just doesn’t know when to stop, and Michael Ian Black’s ‘A Child’s First Book of Trump’. “The beasty is called an American Trump/Its skin is bright orange, its figure is plump,” Black clumsily rhymes.

Simon and Schuster had also published Hillary Clinton’s ‘What Happened’.

Woodward’s FEAR is an obvious answer to the success of Wolff’s Fire and Fury. Both are similarly themed pseudo-journalistic insider accounts. Book sized volumes of the type of fake news that have made lots of money for Bezos’ Washington Post and Sulzberger’s New York Times.

FEAR comes out in September. Before Woodward’s FEAR, though there was more fear at Simon and Schuster with the July release of The Monarchy of Fear by Martha C. Nussbaum. But the pop philosophy attack on Trump misfired. And the two S’s had a hole in August between Monarchy of Fear and FEAR.

So the publishing giant quickly signed a deal with Omarosa and filled its August hole with her crazy claims. Like Fire and Fury, and FEAR, Unhinged plugs into the fake news cycle. Even as the Manafort trial is petering out, leading to snide media attacks on Judge Ellis for restraining the prosecution’s antics and denying them the show trial that their ratings and Chartbeat graphs so badly needed, Unhinged arrived.

The titled of Unhinged could easily refer to Omarosa and the bizarre claims that a major publishing house decided to pay her seven figures for. Aside from the quest for a tape of Trump’s racial slur (Omarosa had spent enough time around media lefties to know that even hinting at the existence of such a thing would unleash a feeding frenzy that would make sharks chasing bloody meat seem sedate), and the suggestion that Trump wanted to take his oath on The Art of the Deal, there’s her claim that Melania uses her fashion choices to “punish” her husband. That’s yet another media conspiracy theory.

Unhinged really isn’t a crazy book. It’s a deeply cynical one. It takes media conspiracy theories and feeds them right back into the media. Omarosa was flushing fake news into the media’s fake news sewer. Omarosa cashed a seven figure check by giving lefty conspiracy theories, no matter how bizarre, the stamp of approval of having an ‘insider’ in the Trump White House tell them their beliefs are really true.

That’s why Simon and Schuster signed the deal and made Unhinged its August anti-Trump pick. Unhinged is unhinged nonsense. But what’s better for fake news than a fake book?

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

And why shouldn’t Omarosa work the same side of the street as Michael Wolff? Despite his journalistic credentials, Wolff’s narrative was full of holes, his claims dubious and his credibility shot. Fire and Fury contains an admission early on that the book is probably full of lies, but blames those lies on Trump associates. When he tried to extend his 15 minutes by using the same strategy to accuse Nikki Haley of having an affair with Trump, while blaming her for his own implication, even the media turned on him.

And then stopped inviting him on.

Omarosa is working her way through the Wolff slime trial, making dubious claims, invoking a journalistic journey, contradicting herself, blaming the contradictions on everyone else and distorting the events that she supposedly witnessed to make bizarre and inflammatory claims about President Trump.

Meanwhile she keeps dropping illegally recorded tapes that only address her own egotistical careerism.

And that’s where the misfire began.

Instead of getting a #1 bestseller, Simon and Schuster had to settle for #5. As CNN notes, even Rick Wilson’s anti-Trump rant made it to #2. Pro-Trump books by Jeanine Pirro and Gregg Jarrett got to #1. And that’s despite the millions of dollars in free media coverage lavished on Unhinged.

Without the backlash from the White House, Omarosa might not have even gotten to #5.

What went wrong with Simon and Schuster’s seven figure investment?

Unhinged is a self-serving book. Omarosa’s tapes were her big ticket item but they’re there to back up her own narrative of being unfairly fired. The left-baiting claims are just the chocolate coating for the creamy center of her own careerism. And in her past, she had alienated the media badly enough that plenty of big media talking heads were eager to pounce. Not all were as hysterical as April Ryan, who dubbed Omarosa “evil”, but no one in the media was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Instead the media has been unhelpfully calling Omarosa out on the contradictions in her story.

The media isn’t investing too much in Omarosa. But like Wolff, she feeds the fake news media cycle, doling out the material that the media will amplify in its daily hysterical coverage for a Democrat demographic that is obsessed with Trump and has even less selectivity about what it consumes.

Simon and Schuster’s August anti-Trump bid appears to have misfired. The publishing giant is no doubt hoping that the misfire had more to do with Omarosa’s personal qualities than the end of the gold rush.

Bob Bender, a Simon and Schuster VP, predicted back in May that the Trump rush in publishing is about to fade. “Nobody’s going to do that for the second year—assuming there is a second year.”

If Bob Woodward’s FEAR misfires, then the era of fake books may be fading. And that’s bad news for fake news. Both fake news and fake books were a media gold rush fed by Trump Derangement Syndrome. But the golden age of Trump bashing may be ending. And then the soaring sales of the Washington Post and the New York Times, not to mention the few reporters still writing political books who weren’t named in #MeToo scandals, will crash down to earth as the golden age dies.

Omarosa’s Unhinged may be the fake book that broke the fake publishing camel’s back.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Sultan Knish Blog

Mother-Daughter Baking Workshop Empowers Israel’s Neediest

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 23:43

Eliminating hunger sounds like a lofty goal. But starting small – and throwing in a little fun – is a good start. In Migdal Ha’Emek, a town in Israel’s North, social worker Dafna Hassan recently led a mother-daughter baking workshop at Ooga-Ooga Bakery. The workshop is part of Colel Chabad’s nutrition security program, designated by the Israeli government to take charge of eliminating hunger among Israel’s neediest.

During the baking workshop, 25 mothers and daughters learned together how to make three different types of healthy cookies and met with a nutritionist lecturer who explained proper nutrition, quantities and distribution of the food groups at each meal and their importance. At the end of the workshop, each participant received a recipe booklet and a box of cookies.

“Using ingredients such as tehina, brown sugar, sesame, and buckwheat, we made healthy cakes and discussed the importance of understanding health to improve one’s life,” Hassan told Breaking Israel News.

For those struggling with poverty, good dietary habits is seldom a major priority but can contribute greatly to one’s health and confidence that translates into many aspects of life.

Explaining the focus on workshops specifically for women, Hassan, who had previously led the baking workshop for 50 women and girls, said, “Women are instrumental to building a community. They are the ones who give security, so we decided to hold this workshop for women and their daughters, strengthening their connection in a fun and educational experience.”

The workshop also afforded the mothers an opportunity to meet other women from different walks of life – both religious and secular.

When asked about the impact that the workshops have in the lives of the women, Hassan became emotional, noting that even a short activity can have a life-long impact “so they can fight both hunger and all challenges in life.”

Colel Chabad offers 243 families food security, maintained Hassan, with other community-building programs including workshops on tzitzit (fringes on the corner of a Jewish prayer shawl) making for dads and sons, couples workshops and cooking classes for Shabbat and daily life.

The organization, she said, also has a growing network of daycare centers in which children of working parents – including many single mothers – can go during working hours, as well as afternoon programs for older children.  

In addition, Colel Chabad runs a network of 22 soup kitchens, food cards, discounted supermarkets, and delivered meals on wheels for the homebound, elderly, and disabled.

“Programs like this truly improve the lives of Israelis in need, giving them tools to live a good life and build community,” said Hassan. “I feel like I have been sent on a mission from God to help people in poor economic situations, to help them and offer workshops that can add a lot.”

According to Hassan, the response that she sees to her workshops shows how meaningful and powerful this work can be. “I receive a lot of hugs, thanks, and many tell me how these simple nutrition workshops have made people the authors of their own lives.”

This may not solve all of one’s challenges in life, but for many Israelis living in a cycle of poverty, it is a great first step.

To help Israel’s poor, please visit here.

Written in cooperation with Colel Chabad.

Sanhedrin Invites Christians to Inaugurate Universal Rosh Hashanah

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:26

A concert held at the base of the Temple Mount in three weeks will inaugurate a “new Biblical holiday:” a universal Rosh Hashanah (New Year) commemorating the creation of the world.

The nascent Sanhedrin and the Mikdash (Temple) Educational Center are hosting the World Creation Concert on September 3, the 23rd of the Hebrew month of Elul. According to Jewish tradition, the world was created on the 25th of Elul. The concert will be held at at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park – Davidson Center and the Hulda gates adjacent to the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem.

“We are not calling on the non-Jews to observe a Jewish holiday,” Rabbi Hillel Weiss explained to Breaking Israel News. “We are creating an entirely new and unique holiday that is relevant to everyone on the planet. There are global threats that bind us all together: ecological and political. It is precisely for these situations that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob established a House of Prayer for All Nations in Jerusalem.”

“This concert is a way to bring all of the nations together to praise God,” Rabbi Weiss said. “This is an event organized by Orthodox Jews but it does not ‘belong’ to any one religion. We are acting in our prophesied role as a Kingdom of Priests, serving the nations in order to enable them to serve Hashem.”

The organizers of the concert sent out invitations to representatives of every country around the world and several have responded, saying they will attend. In addition to specific nations, the Sanhedrin appointed Pastor David Decker, a self-professed “passionate Evangelical Christian who is a lover of Zion,” to act as the ambassador to the Christian world.

Decker has accepted the commission with enthusiasm though he acknowledges it will not be easy given the difficult history between Judaism and Christianity.

“This concert is an opportunity for Christianity to take a step beyond all that and take a step closer towards fixing what has been broken for 2,000 years,” Decker told Breaking Israel News. “Anyone who believes the prophecies has to acknowledge that Israel is back in the land and it isn’t so they can build high tech companies. God called the House of Israel back to the land to build his House of Glory. Our job as Christians is to help them in this holy mission. Part of this may be to wake the Jews up who aren’t yet aware.”

“The Sanhedrin is inviting us as Christians and all the nations to do that. This is a direct blow to the New Age and Mother Earth movements which are paganism. This is all about the Bible and the God of the Bible.”

“The Christians are supposed to be the support group for the people god chose to bring his Holy Word into the world. If Christianity were, God forbid, to disappear from the earth, the Jews would still have to do what they were assigned to do according to God’s covenant. If, God forbid, the Jewish people were to disappear from the earth, Christianity would be lost. This is why we, as Christians, need to discuss this among ourselves and also with the Jews. There are many Christians who don’t even love Israel. How can this be?”

Decker described the concert as a “new Biblical holiday.” He explained that despite not being explicitly mentioned in the Bible, the concert would hopefully become an annual event in which the Christians and the other nations could actualize their prophetic roles.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

“The Sanhedrin knows that Christians have an important role to play in fulfilling Biblical prophecies,” Decker said. “To do that we need to understand our older brothers, the Jews, and to respect them. We need to learn how to work with the Jews the way we were supposed to 2,000 years ago. We will always disagree about some things but certainly there is enough common spiritual ground in our shared Bible.”

Decker believes that the concept is especially relevant to Christians and they should therefore be the first to step forward.

“When our Christian rabbi, Yehoshua, prayed, he wasn’t praying to himself,” Decker said. “He was praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Christians and Jews certainly can agree on praying to this God.”

“This is not an attempt to water down the Christian faith or change it in any way. Our Lord and Savior was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. He was circumcised eight days after he was born and his parents brought a sacrifice of doves to the Jewish Temple to redeem him as the first born.  We may not agree on many things about the Messiah, but when he does come, he will be heading for the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and not for the First Baptist Church of Texas.”

To facilitate the universal aspect of the concert, the organizers have arranged several different manners for people to participate. A limited number of tickets are available to attend in person. Several television stations around the world will broadcast the event live. If this is unavailable, people can obtain a link to the live broadcast for a small fee on the concert’s website.

But the most interesting option is available free of charge. People can sign up to be what the organizers refer to as “Points of Praise.” Individuals and organizations can sign up as representatives of a local group of like-minded friends and families who will gather and watch the live broadcast together online. Their goal is simply to have God be praised by all nations around the world.

There IS a Doctor in the House

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 09:23

On a day in August, annually for the last 12 years, physicians and ordinary citizens take off for a face-to-face discussion of the latest in Israeli medicine. Some 1,500 people, most of them Jerusalemites, filled Teddy Hall (named in memory of the city’s legendary mayor Teddy Kollek) at the city’s International Convention Center for a full day that began with a videoed message of greeting from President Reuven Rivlin.

The highly varied agenda ranged from discussions of nutrition to providing healthcare to the elderly and saving wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Turgeman, who is head of the military’s technology and logistics branch, wowed his audience with a video of a non-piloted vehicle that evacuates up to two wounded soldiers on the battlefield and flies them to a safer place where they can be treated.

Turgeman, who was commander during a difficult battle during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict Operation Protective Edge, said that troops, if wounded by gunfire, expect that they will be evacuated as soon as possible. “We do everything we can to save them. It’s difficult to continue fighting if there are wounded soldiers lying there; they lose faith.

When there are fewer dead and wounded, we have more time to fight, and decision makers have more time to fight and less pressure to make decisions,” said the senior officer. “This is also part of the battle to make it clear who won – us or the enemy.”

The IDF has made great efforts, especially in the past few years to minimize the number of preventable deaths among battlefield soldiers. In the 1948 War of Independence, 46% of the wounded died. This was reduced to 15% in the First Lebanon War in 1982 and 9.2% in Operation Protective Edge. The main cause of death in soldiers who suffered preventable deaths is bleeding. About 83% of fallen soldiers die within an hour of being wounded, said Turgeman.

To prevent soldiers from being hurt, the IDF has in recent years introduced much advanced and expensive equipment, including flak jackets with ceramic plates, many-layered helmets, protective goggles and even a unique protective device that prevents the wearer from being stabbed in the neck from behind (developed when Palestinian terrorist stabbings in Jerusalem and elsewhere some four years ago were commonplace). The IDF even developed dry plasma that can be turned, with the addition of water, into precious liquid for transfusions on the battlefield.  

Brig.-Gen. Tarif Bader, a Druse pediatrician and professor who is IDF surgeon-general, added that “we have treated not only Israeli soldiers and civilians, but also people in faraway lands hit by earthquakes and other natural disasters by setting up mobile hospitals to treat them.” He also proudly noted that a quarter of IDF military corps officers are women.

Israel is less successful with regard to childhood and teenage obesity – ranking sixth worst in the world, said Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, “Our consumption of sugar is among highest in world. Diabetes is a world epidemic, and it exists here as well.” But steps can and are being taken to minimize the problem. School vending machines will not be allowed to sell junk food; chocolate milk, very popular among Israeli children, is being made without sugar; and in 18 months, food products will have to show a green or red icon signifying whether they have healthful or excessive levels of sugar, salt and fat.

Prof. Jonathan Halevy, director-general for the last 31 years of Jerusalem’s 116-year-old Shaare Zedek Medical Center, told the audience that the hospital is booming, with 1,000 beds and delivering more babies per year – 22,200 – than any other hospital in the world. “Thirty to 40% of our patients come from outside our catchment area. We choose personnel not only for their medical skills but also for their empathy towards patients. As a voluntary hospital that depends on our income from patient care and without getting government subsidies, we still have the lowest operating deficit of any Israeli hospital.”

Director-General of the Hadassah Medical Organization, Prorf. Zeev Rotstein, said that it “won’t take long before cancer is treated like a chronic illness and not a disease that kills. Personalized medicine with treatment – even on single receptors — based on the genetic background of patients will become the norm.” He unveiled a new feature of its My Hadassah smartphone application – the first of its kind in Israel – in which every user can enter his disease and/or symptoms and find immediately the Hadassah physician, clinic and department that are most qualified to treat him based on experience, specialty and publications. This is the first such app in an Israeli hospital, he said, with more than 60,000 patients registered so far.

Although the Israeli population is relatively young compared to that in Europe, it is aging. Dr. Yuval Weiss, medical director of the Jerusalem region of the Meuhedet health maintenance organization. “In a decade, there will be 600,000 people over the age of 75. Already today, there are hospital internal medicine departments near collapse in the winter flu season. The HMO has thus decided to launch home hospitalization, whenever possible, with nurses and doctors coming to homes to install medical equipment and give proper treatment. A pilot program will begin in the fall. Physicians have to keep on their toes, said Weiss, as many ordinary patients come in with printouts from “Dr. Google,” listing treatments published in The New England Journal of Medicine or other journals relating to their conditions.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

Even in periods of terrorism and war, Israeli hospitals are “islands of sanity,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which raises funds abroad for many Israeli causes. “In hospitals, the walls that divide us collapse, especially with its mixed population. Suddenly, everybody helps everybody else. Despite the power struggles, Israeli society must learn from you doctors, and nurses on how to be better, to care for people.”

The food industry here is changing rapidly, said Prof. Eyal Shimoni – vice president for vision and technological strategy at the Strauss Group food conglomerate. “People eat differently, at different times of the day than they used to. I don’t believe in trends. The demand for healthful food will continue. We at Strauss stopped using trans fat 15 years ago. We have cut sugar without telling customers so they don’t suddenly say the food is less tasty. In recent years, 120 of our products have undergone revision for better health. If we had sold chocolate milk without sugar four or five years ago, the produce would have failed. Today, there is more awareness.”

Zeev Pikovsky, chief scientist of the Israeli food conglomerate Tnuva, said there will be 10 billion people in the world by 2050, but there will be less usable land and water. “Global warming, the aging population, changes in family structure and different consumer views based on science and personal beliefs will cause a shakeup.” While most people will give up animal products, many more will be “flexitarians” eating less meat, more vegetarians and more vegans. Food company labels will have to be clearer, and their products will be less processed with less synthetic compounds.

The Mediterranean diet of vegetables, fruit, olive oil, nuts, pulses (beans), whole grains, fish and poultry – eaten in family meals, perhaps with a siesta during the day – is the best diet in the world for health, said Prof. Jacob Klein, head of cardiovascular rehabilitation and prevention at Shaare Zedek. “There is a direct connection between heart diseases and diabetes on the one hand and poor diet, smoking and inadequate physical activity on the other.”

Various international studies have shown that heart disease mortality differs by country, with much lower rates in Mediterranean countries like Israel, Italy and Greece, compared to the US, for example.”

Fatty liver – hepatic steatosis, a reversible condition in which large amounts of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells – exists in a quarter to a third of all people in the world, said Prof. Rifat Safadi, head of the liver unit, gastroenterology and liver diseases at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem. “Fatty liver can lead to cirrhosis and even liver cancer. If you lose 3% of your body weight, you will be much better off; if you lose 10%, you will be much better and reduce scarring of the liver,” he said. He recommended eating much less processed carbohydrates and saturated fatty acids. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup high protein, high fructose corn syrup, soft drinks and red meat as much as possible. Processed sugar, he added, is “more violent than sugar from fruits.” Espresso coffee, by the way, can improve fatty liver.

Israeli hospitals perform the highest rate in the world of in-vitro fertilization to produce pregnancies, said Shaare Zedek fertility and IVF department director Prof. Hananel Holzer. The national basket of health services pays for IVF to produce two healthy babies in women up to the age of 45, he said. Most countries do not cover such costs. Every year, 43,000 IVF cycles are performed in Israel, more than in actual numbers than in many other countries, because of the desire here for offspring.

The IVF success rate over 43 years is only about 3%, but the Health Ministry has not decided to reduce the maximum age, even though the money saved could be spent on other medical needs, said Holzer. In addition, two embryos are returned to the womb after IVF here. When he worked in a leading Montreal hospital, the rule was to return only one because of the increased risks in multiple pregnancies.

This year’s Israel Medical Conference was the most interesting so far; it is hoped that organizer Prof. Avi Rivkind of Hadassah will make the next one even better.

To ask a medical question for an expert to answer, email Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at judy@israel365.com, giving your initials, gender, age and place of residence.

Israeli Scientists Implant First Knee Replacement That Regrows Cartilage And Bone

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 07:37

Israeli scientists have implanted the first knee replacement that can regrow cartilage and bone. A 30-year-old Jerusalem woman attempted to fix her knee cartilage multiple times. Despairing, she turned to CartiHeal – established in 2009 in conjunction with Ben Gurion University.

PSALMS 104:35

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 07:13

Jewish tradition tells a story about a remarkable woman name Bruriah, who lived in the Land of Israel shortly after the second Temple period with her husband, the great sage Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Meir had been abused by vagrants, and prayed for their destruction. Bruriah quoted this psalm, and noted that the above verse should be understood as saying, “May sins disappear from the earth,” and does not wish for the actual destruction of the sinners themselves. Once their evil behavior ends, they will no longer be sinners, for they will return to Hashem (God). Rabbi Meir accepted his wife’s advice and prayed for his enemies to repent. Hashem accepted his prayers and the sinners returned from their evil ways.

Month of the Shofar

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 07:01

The month of Elul marks a period of preparation leading up to Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and, ten days later, the holiday of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The primary tool to aid Jews in preparing for repentance is the shofar, a specially prepared ram’s horn, which is blown every weekday of the month during morning prayers. It is the focal point of the Rosh Hashanah service and is blown at the end of Yom Kippur.

Biblical Sources

The first case of a shofar being used to awaken the Jews to serve God preceded the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

On the third day, as morning dawned, there was thunder, and lightning, and a dense cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud blast of the shofar; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. Exodus 19:16

Rosh Hashanah is referred to in the Bible as zikaron teruah (a memorial of shofar blasts).

Speak to B’nei Yisrael thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts. Leviticus 23:24

The shofar was also unique in being used to announce the jubilee, once every 50 years.

Then you shall sound the shofar loud; in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month—the Day of Atonement—you shall have the shofar sounded throughout your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year. You shall proclaim release throughout the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall return to his family. Leviticus 25:9-10

The shofar was also blown in times of war, most notably when Joshua besieged and then conquered Jericho.

When Yehoshua had instructed the people, the seven Kohanim carrying seven shofarot advanced before Hashem, blowing their shofarot; and the Aron Brit Hashem followed them. Joshua 6:8

In recent times, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the IDF, blew a shofar after the battle in the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel conquered the Temple Mount.

According to Jewish tradition, Elijah the prophet will re-appear just before the Messiah. Elijah will anoint the Messiah and announce his arrival with blasts on a shofar. The Yochanan Ben Zakkai Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City has a shofar and flask of oil on a high shelf waiting for Elijah’s use. This pre-Messiah shofar blast is prophesied to also awaken the dead.

All you who live in the world And inhabit the earth, When a flag is raised in the hills, take note! When a shofar is blown, give heed! Isaiah 18:3


Making a Shofar

In preparation for Rosh Hashanah, Breaking Israel News visited Kol Shofar in Givat Yoav in the Golan, where Shimon Keinar has been making shofarot for 17 years.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

Animals Kosher for Shofar

All animals that are kosher to be eaten (i.e. split hooves and chew their cud) can be used for making a shofar if they have horns. The only exception is a cow, whose horn may not be used as a shofar. Coincidentally, horns from permissible animals are not solid bone but have cartilage inside making it possible to hollow them out. One explanation is that a cow’s horn will remind God of the Sin of the Golden Calf. A ram’s horn is traditionally used on Rosh Hashanah as a reference to the Binding of Isaac.

When Avraham looked up, his eye fell upon a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns. So Avraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. Genesis 22:13

Yemenite Jews traditionally use a shofar from a Kudu, a type of African antelope, with a particularly long and twisted horn.

Other horns that are commonly used come from antelopes, gazelles, goats, and Rocky Mountain goats. The animal does not have to be ritually slaughtered in order for its horn to be used as a shofar.

Several examples of different shofarot. (Credit: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz)

The horn needs to be dried out to separate the cartilage from the bone.

After drying, the shofar needs to be boiled in water for between two and five hours. Add a bit of  washing soda can help with later cleaning. The cartilage can then be removed using a pick.

Use a flexible wire to check how far the hollow inside the horn extends. Make a mark on the outside of the Shofar about one inch further along than where the hollow ends. Cut off approximately one inch from narrow tip with a saw. It is important to make sure that the horn is completely dry before cutting it.

Drill into the sawed-off end a hole of 1/8 inch using an electric drill until the bit reaches the hollow of the horn.

Use the rounded drill bits to carve a bell-shaped mouthpiece at the end of the shofar. The edge of the mouthpiece can be smoothed. Keinar tunes each shofar, adjusting the tone and timbre by shaping the mouthpiece.

What makes a Shofar Unfit for Ritual Use

There must be no holes or splits on the sides of the shofar. Paint or metal adornments render the shofar unfit for ritual use. The shofar may not be fitted with a mouthpiece. Shofarot appeared prominently in the Temple service and for some uses were fitted with silver mouthpieces, though for other purposes this was not allowed.

The outside of the shofar may be polished or engraved but nothing can be glued or attached to it, even if it is made from the same material.

It is forbidden to blow the shofar on Shabbat and it is, in fact, muktzah (forbidden to pick up or carry). This is true even when Rosh Hashanah falls on the Sabbath, in which case the shofar service is read but without the shofar being blown.

For ritual purposes, only one shofar may be sounded at a time.

Buying a Shofar

Keinar, a religious Jew, makes thousands of shofarot each year, selling most of them from his showroom in the Golan. He runs tours in which he explains his craft. He noted that in recent years, many shofar suppliers have chosen to import from Morocco and other countries rather than from Israel.

“Though a shofar made by a non-Jew or non-observant Jew is entirely kosher, I believe that it is better when a shofar is made by a Sabbath-observant Jew,” Keinar said. “The voice of the shofar is intended to pierce into the inner depths of the heart and soul. This is highly personal and is best done by a God-fearing Jew.”

In recent years, Evangelical Christians have become enthusiastic customers for Keinar’s wares.

“I don’t understand this but I certainly don’t object,” Keinar said. “There is no prohibition in the Torah that prevents non-Jews from blowing the shofar and if it wakes them up to serve Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’), it can only be a good thing.”

Ecological Impact of Gaza’s Incendiary Kites and Balloons

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 04:39

For more than 120 days, Gazan terrorists have sent incendiary kites and balloons toward Israel. The ecological damage that these devices have done – with flammable materials attached to their tails – is appalling. Thousands of acres of arable land will take a decade or more to recover. During this period, Israeli wildlife has also suffered death and destruction.

Fewest Number of Israelis Emigrating Since 1990

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 04:21

The rate at which Israelis are emigrating has reached an almost three-decade low. According to numbers published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) this week, approximately 15,200 Israelis left the country in 2016 for a year or more, the lowest number since at least 1990. Some 8,900 Israelis who lived abroad for more than a year returned in 2016, meaning that 6,200 more Israelis left the country than returned – the third lowest deficit since 1990.

Despite that deficit, 28,000 new olim (immigrants) made the move to Israel, meaning that there was a net population gain. These figures would seem to counter the received wisdom that Israelis are dissatisfied with a number of aspects about the country. There are constant reports that Israelis are fed up with the economic situation, the state of politics, Israel’s ongoing security issues and employment issues. However, perhaps there is a cognitive dissonance at play here. Israel is also ranked as the 11th happiest country, according to the World Happiness Index.

In 1990, some 24,700 Israelis left the country for pastures new. At the height of the Second Intifada in 2002 – 27,300 Israelis left for more than a year. As a percentage of the population, the current figure is much lower than the peak emigration – when there were 4.6 million people in Israel. Israel’s population today is approximately 8.5 million.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

According to the statistics, the average age of those leaving was 28, and slightly more men than women (53% to 47%) exited for extended periods.

Of the Israelis who left the country in 2016, more than half (54%), were immigrants, and about half of those had immigrated to Israel over the previous decade.

Approximately 50% of those Israelis who returned in 2016 had been away for under two years, while 22% returned having lived overseas for more than six years. Immigrants made up a high proportion of those who left after a relatively short period of time, but they made up 42% of those who returned.

According to the CBS, there were between 560,000 to 596,000 Israelis living abroad in 2016, not including children of Israelis born overseas. According to Jewish Agency figures, since the beginning of the state, some 3.3 million people have immigrated to Israel.

Netanyahu Presents ‘2030 Security Concept’ to Cabinet, Massive Defense Budget Increase

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 03:48

Israel’s defense budget will be gradually increased to 6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the coming years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday as he presented a document labeled “Israel’s Security Outlook 2030” to the Security Cabinet.

Netanyahu outlined the anticipated threats for the coming decade and presented the need for building of the necessary force and the principles for operation of the force.

The document’s full details is classified and will soon be presented in full by the prime minister to the Knesset Subcommittee on Intelligence Affairs and Secret Services, the IDF General Staff Forum, the Mossad and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

The increase in the defense budget will total sum 0.2% to 0.3% of GDP, translating at some NIS 2-4 billion per year. Netanyahu said the defense budget would be re-examined once Israel’s GDP hit $500 billion. Israel’s GDP currently stands at some $350 billion. It marks a recent reversal of policy, where the defense budget has made up a smaller proportion of GNP.

“Due to our small area, the population concentration and the numerous threats around us, Israel will always have security needs that are much greater than any other state of similar size,” said Netanyahu. “Today the Israeli economy is strong enough to allow for this supplement. In any case the increase will be enacted while maintaining a responsible budgetary framework.

In the last 20 years we have cultivated a free economy in order to serve national needs, especially security. Against the accumulated threats we are at a turning point. Today we are called upon to invest more in security in order to defend our achievements and ensure continued economic growth.”

Anti-Israel Democrat Wins Minnesota Primary

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 03:08

Minnesota state lawmaker Ilhan Omar, who has labeled Israel as an “apartheid regime” that has “hypnotized the world,” is favored to take a seat in Congress after winning her Democratic primary on Tuesday in a heavily Democratic district in her state.

She will face Republican Jennifer Zielinski in November.

If Omar wins, she would replace another Israel critic, Rep. Keith Ellison, who is running for Minnesota state attorney general. Ellison, the Deputy Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is known for associating with the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Omar isn’t the only Muslim American critical of Israel running for Congress. In Michigan last week, Rashida Tlaib won her primary and runs unopposed in November. She has called for cutting U.S. assistance to Israel, which she has called “discriminatory”—a move that has been condemned by groups like the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA).

In light of Omar’s victory, the JDCA told JNS on Wednesday it “strongly condemns Ms. Omar’s past statements characterizing Israel as an ‘apartheid state,’ as well as her egregious allegation that Israel is ‘hypnotizing the world’ to ignore its so-called ‘evil doings.’”

“Now that Ms. Omar has emerged as the Democratic candidate, JDCA will not support her candidacy – and certainly will not endorse her – because her views are not aligned with our positions and values,” said the group.

Whitewashing Far-Right Parties in the Middle East

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 02:00

When France went to the polls in 2017, CNN described an interview with the “far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.” In March, France24 reported on Italy’s elections as a choice between “the populist Five Star Movement, three-time former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing coalition and the ruling center-left Democratic Party.” Hungary voted in national elections in April and The Guardian wrote about “Gergely Karacsony, the leading left-wing candidate.”

Pakistan went to the polls last week and Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf came in first. France24 reported that prior to his win there had been a “rotating leadership between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party.” The Guardian reported that the PML-N had complained about the vote. CNN noted that the “Pakistan Muslim League came in second with 64 seats and the Pakistan People’s Party won 43.”

Notice the difference. In Pakistan there is no “right” and “left” or “far right.” The closest most Western media came to apply the labels they apply throughout the West to Pakistan was France24 describing the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam as “religious.” Only Al-Jazeera labeled some of the parties in Pakistan’s elections as “far right” and others as “religious supremacists.”

The absence of political spectrum terms “right” and “left” affects every country from Morocco to Pakistan, except for Israel. In Israel elections, major media describes a political spectrum spanning far left to far right. Even though India and Pakistan share similar histories, The Independent described “far-right populism” in India, but not “far-right populism” in Pakistan. If there isn’t “far-right” populism in Pakistan, perhaps there is “far-left populism?” Nope. Neither that. It is as if the greater Middle East exists in an apolitical universe. There are left- and right-wing parties in South America, in sub-Saharan Africa, and in East Asia and Australia.

What explains the inability of major media, particularly in the West, to use terms “right, far right, left, far left” or “conservative, liberal” for the Middle East? Hamas and Fatah are not described as “right-wing religious” and “center-right nationalist,” although that’s what they might be called if they ran in Bulgaria or Denmark. There are slight exceptions to this rule. Reuters refers to “Islamist Hamas” and AP refers to Hamas as an “Islamic militant group.” But what happened to terms such as right-wing, far right, right-wing extremist, far-right conservative?

To erase these terms (and in the process sanitizing and whitewashing most of the politics across dozens of countries), major media even created new terms for some political divides, like that in Iran. In Iran, there are “hardliners and moderates.” That’s it. There are no “right-wing” parties. No centrists. No populists. No alt-right, obviously. Mahmud Ahmadinejad is called a “brash, populist hardliner.” When Roy Moore ran for Senate in Alabama, he was called “reactionary,” a “far-right Republican” and a “controversial conservative” by the same publications that can’t use similar terms for Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad.

Of interest, Turkey tends to get some “right” and “left” descriptions because of its proximity to Europe. BBC described “fiery nationalist Meral Aksener” and “center-left CHP,” the “Islamist-rooted AKP,” the “nationalist MHP” and “pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party.” Okay, but actually the AKP is a right-wing party, the MHP is also a right-wing party and the HDP is a left-wing party. It’s not just “pro-Kurdish,” its roots are in left-wing politics. So why can’t Western media say so?

The decision to remove “right” and “left” from the political landscape of the greater Middle East is partly an Orientalist way of othering the region. The argument is that countries from Morocco to Pakistan, primarily Muslim countries, cannot be understood on this spectrum, they are so different. Even when they share a history and political traditions, such as India and Pakistan, one country is devoid of right-left politics.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

The second reason for the disappearing descriptions is because of a conscious effort to whitewash the politics of these countries. Pakistan’s politics primarily span the extreme religious right to the nationalist right. Iran’s politics also span the far-right religious conservatives to the extreme far-right religious conservatives. There simply are no left-wing parties in most of these countries. In Pakistan, almost every politician supports the death penalty for blasphemy. If a politician in the US supported the death penalty for blasphemy they would obviously be “extreme far-right religious.” If Le Pen is “far right,” then certainly so is Ahmadinejad, and the AKP and Hamas and Hezbollah and the PML-N and many other parties.

A third reason why the region lacks a political spectrum is that in the West the term “left” generally means “good” in media parlance while right, or far right will be a stand-in for “bad,” “racist,” “nationalist” or “religious conservative.” Throughout the Middle East, almost every party is either nationalist or extreme right conservative. The decision not to label them as such is a way to quietly sanitize them for the reader. There is a deeper agenda here. Hamas and Hezbollah, for instance, are regularly called “religious” but then said to provide “social services.” Then they are quietly moved into the “left-wing” column as providing the “poor” with “social justice.” Of course, the KKK also had “social services,” but it was not a leftist party. Hamas and Hezbollah share more in common with the KKK than Karl Marx. But some people want us to see them as more Marx than murderers.

It’s time to take the gloves off and label politics from Morocco to Pakistan. In a globalized world, the various parties and movements do not exist in a vacuum. Political Islamist parties are right wing. They aren’t “hardliners.” Maybe they are “populists,” but then label them what they are. Nationalists are nationalists. They aren’t just the “leading party” and the “opposition.” Are there left-wing, secular style parties in this region. Yes, there are. A few. Are there liberals? Yes, there are. Let them be liberal and define the rest of the politics as “conservative,” which is what it is. Stop the charade of calling parties in Israel and India “far right” while labeling Palestinian and Pakistani parties as just their names, without a judgment as to where they sit on the spectrum. End the charade of telling us that Bulgaria and Russia have a political spectrum but not Kazakhstan and Iraq.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Middle East Forum

Israel is Right to Question Radical Extremists Who Come to Visit

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 01:00

In the UK, there are hate laws whereby enemies of the country are denied entry.  The United States has a myriad of laws and systems to ensure that those opposed to America do not enter its boundaries.

Recently, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs announced that those who support boycotts of the country will not be allowed in, with Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan noting: “The anti-Israel boycott campaign seeks not to promote peace but to undermine Israel’s national security and existence.”

Hence, despite the New Israel Fund’s (NIF) outrage, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in a repeat of what happened last year to a senior official of the New Israel Fund (NIF), this week two Jewish-American women affiliated with NIF-funded organizations, and radical extremist Peter Beinart were detained upon entry to the Jewish State.  It is perfectly justified given that these individuals, and their patron organization, The New Israel Fund continue to openly support a boycott of the country. The NIF is at present under government investigation.

Recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “The New Israel Fund is a foreign organization that receives funding from foreign governments and elements hostile to Israel. … The ultimate objective of the fund is to erase Israel’s Jewish character and turn it into a state of all its citizens, alongside a Palestinian nation-state that is free of Jews on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital. For decades the fund has funded anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian organizations, including those who slander IDF soldiers such as Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, and those who fight for Palestinian terrorists, such as Adalah.”

People affiliated with this organization should be questioned upon arrival – they are hostile to the country they are attempting to visit.

Last year, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s Finance Minister can “impose fines and withhold funding from Israeli NGOs calling for boycotts of businesses in all or parts of Israel and the power to file lawsuits against those NGOs.” New Israel Fund (NIF) sponsored organizations, including Gush Shalom, Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) challenged that ruling in court – and were opposed.

According to the  Anti-Boycott Bill which passed Israel’s Supreme Court, a boycott is “Deliberate avoidance of economic, social or academic ties or ties to a person or other body just because of his connection to the State of Israel, its institutions or regions under its control, in order to harm it economically, social or academically.” The words “regions under its control” is specifically mentioned, as it denotes and includes those who specifically call to boycott the ‘West Bank’ aka Judea and Samaria.

This policy is a continuation of one whereby Prime Minister Netanyahu recently said, “The boycott generators do not see the settlements in Judea and Samaria but the settlements in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Beersheba, Haifa, and of course, Jerusalem, as the focus of the conflict.”

Netanyahu noted “We must not cave into the pressure, [we must] expose the lies and attack the attackers. We shall unite forces in Israel and abroad, expose our enemy’s lies, and fight for the Israeli citizens’ right to live their lives peacefully and safely.”

[wpipa id=”94167″

Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Labor Party added “For years, I’ve devoted efforts in the fight against the boycott movement. We will fight to protect Israel’s good name. This is a diplomatic intifada being waged by the haters of Israel.”

Left-leaning Centrist Yair Lapid, said that the boycott “… is not about policies, or about the settlements, or about the peace process; this is classic anti-Semitism in a modern disguise.”

Justice Hanan Meltzer described boycotts as “political terrorism,” clarifying that the State of Israel has a right to defend itself from them.

The Israeli government has said in no uncertain terms “you cannot stand with Israel while also supporting a boycott.”

Supporters of the New Israel Fund, including Oz Benamram of White & Case, David Myers of UCLA, leaders of the Leichtag Foundation should expect to be questioned when visiting Israel.  If you support a boycott of Israel, you are no friend of the country. 

The New Israel Fund is beyond the pale. Decent people must oppose all anti-Israel boycotts and disassociate themselves from the NIF. The State of Israel is right to question those who support a boycott and harm Israel.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

Two Israeli Universities in World’s Top 100 Institutions

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 08:40

The prestigious Shanghai Ranking of world universities on Tuesday listed two Israeli academic institutions in the world’s top 100, marking an impressive rise since last year.

The Haifa-based Technion — Israel Institute of Technology — was listed as Israel’s premier university for the third year in a row in the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy’s Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018. It ranked 77th, a rise of 16 places from its 93rd placing in last year’s list.

Israel’s first university – The Hebrew University of Jerusalem – celebrating 100 years since the laying of its cornerstone, was ranked 95th. It marked the university’s return to the top-100, just a year after its fifteen-year presence in such elite company had come to an end.

“The trend of improvement compared to last year’s Shanghai ranking is evidence of hard work and uncompromising striving for excellency,” commented Hebrew University President Prof. Asher Cohen.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

“We are proud that again, the Hebrew University is recognized as one of the world’s 100 leading universities,” he said, adding that the competition was getting harder every year due to “significant investment” by East Asian countries in academic institutions.

The Technion’s president, Prof. Peretz Lavie, commented that, “We constantly measure ourselves and improve regardless of international rankings, but of course a high place in the Shanghai ranking is an exciting stamp of international recognition of the Technion’s excellence,” he added.

There was no change in the rankings of Israel’s other universities. The Weitzmann Institute of Technology was included in the group of institutions ranked 101-150, the Tel Aviv University was in the group ranked 151-200, and both the Bar-Ilan University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev remained in the group ranked 401-500.

The top-10 rankings remained the same as the 2017 edition of the list, with two Ivy League schools – Harvard and Stanford – taking the top two spots respectively, and the UK’s University of Cambridge placing third.

Perseid Meteor Shower

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 06:07

Thousands of people gathered in Israel’s Negev Desert to witness the Perseid Meteor Shower. Clear, moonless nights provide ideal viewing conditions, but viewers are treated to less impressive show than in previous years.

Philippines’ Duterte Confirms Israel Visit

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 05:37

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is set to make an official visit to Israel next month, his government recently announced.

The September 2-5 trip, will be the first visit by a Filipino leader since diplomatic ties were established between the two countries in 1957.

Duterte and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss how to develop deeper ties on several issues, including counter-terrorism and security. Israel is a key weapons supplier to the Philippines, which is fighting Islamic terrorists and communist guerillas.In addition, the leaders will also likely speak about attempts to prevent drug-trafficking, the possibility of direct flights from Israel to the Philippines and agricultural cooperation

The Filipino leader is a highly controversial figure. Two years ago he sparked outrage after likening the Philippines’ deadly drug war to the Holocaust. He faced global condemnation for attempting to compare his crackdown on drugs with the Nazi attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); });

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said. This was a particularly offensive comment, as the majority of Holocaust scholars agree that approximately 6 million Jews were murdered during Nazi rule. Duterte later retracted his comments and apologized to the Jewish community, saying that his remarks were aimed at those who were comparing him to Hitler. He also highlighted that the Philippines granted safe haven to more than 1,000 Jewish refugees who fled the Holocaust.

Duterte has praised Netanyahu in the past, “for his steadfastness in safeguarding Israel’s national interest from any element.”

The Philippine president will also meet with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, although Israeli human rights activists have pleaded that this meeting not take place. “Certainly, there is no place for a mass murderer and a person who supports rape, shooting women in their sexual organs and bombing schools to meet with Israel’s president,” said human rights attorney Eitay Mack. Philippine police claim they have killed more than 4,000 drugs suspects, with many others murdered by unknown killers. Rights groups allege the total dead in the campaign is more than 13,000.

Duterte is set to fly to Jordan after his visit to Israel and he is not thought to be meeting with any Palestinian Authority officials.

NUMBERS 28:9

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 05:04

Shabbat, the seventh day of the week, is a reminder that God is the creator of the entire world. Just as He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, we use our creative powers to work for six days, and rest on the seventh. By keeping the Shabbat, we affirm our belief in Hashem (God) as the Creator who is continuously responsible for everything that happens in the world. The Land of Israel also has a Shabbat of its own, once every seven years. By abandoning the fields during the Sabbatical year and putting our sustenance in the hands of the Lord, we affirm our belief that He is intimately involved in everything that happens in our lives. We owe all of our success to Him, and we believe that He will provide for us, even if we are not working the land.

Netanyahu Held Clandestine May Meeting With Egyptian President Sisi

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 04:36

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in May.  According to reports, Netanyahu flew to Cairo with a small delegation on May 22 and discussed a Hamas cease-fire. The met publicly for the first time in September 2017.