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ISAIAH 5:20

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 04:11

The Festival of Lights, Chanukah, begins on the 25th of Kislev. The central message of this month is the eternal power of light over darkness, the triumph good over evil. One of the most horrendous periods of evil in modern history was the Holocaust in which 6 million European Jews were systematically murdered. Many of these heroic survivors made their way to Israel and began their life anew in the Promised Land. The establishment of so many new families in the young State of Israel was a triumph of good over the evil of the Holocaust. Some 70 years after the end of World War II, the Holocaust survivor population of Israel is rapidly aging. There are heartbreaking numbers of elderly Holocaust survivors across Israel who do not have enough to eat. Moreover, many of these same survivors suffer in the bitter cold of the winter without the money to buy proper clothes and blankets to keep them warm. Provide a winter miracle to Israel’s elderly Holocaust survivors.

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When Trump Tweets, Let The Palestinians Tremble

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 04:00

Though the mainstream media loves to poke fun at US President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, his 280-character tweets often contain far more perspicacity than the entire contents of the editorial pages of the New York Times and Washington Post.

Indeed, in recent days, Trump has used the medium to highlight one of the most glaring inconsistencies in US foreign policy over the past two decades: Washington’s peculiar penchant for handing over hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars annually to those who are hostile to America and its interests, such as Pakistan and the Palestinians.

On January 1, in his first tweet of 2018, Trump pointed out that, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years,” adding that, “they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools.”

The Pakistanis, he correctly noted, “give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” This was a bold and timely declaration, one that succinctly cast light on the duplicitous game that Islamabad has been playing since September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

For years, the Afghan government has been complaining, and rightly so, about Pakistan’s policy of providing a safe haven for leading members of the Taliban insurgency who continue to wage war against Kabul.

Pakistan has also given refuge to the leaders of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-linked group that has carried out attacks against US-led forces in Afghanistan and that the Obama administration officially declared to be a terrorist organization in 2012.

Nonetheless, Pakistan has been happily pocketing piles of US cash while spitting in Washington’s face, endangering America’s troops and undermining its war on terrorism, all while professing to be doing its utmost to combat extremism.

Trump deserves praise for putting the Pakistanis on notice that they can no longer treat the US like a tourist who gets easily suckered in a foreign bazaar.

In July, his administration froze $50 million in aid to Pakistan, and by threatening to halt even more assistance, the president is sending a strong signal to the Pakistanis and others that taking advantage of US largesse is a thing of the past.

Having conveyed this message to Pakistan, the president then turned his attention to the Palestinian leadership, which has also been living high on the hog while simultaneously undercutting America and its foreign policy.

On January 3, Trump wrote, “It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.”

The Palestinians, he added, “don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel… with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” That is truly an excellent question, one that none of Trump’s predecessors had the wisdom or courage even to ask.

US aid to the Palestinians, according to a December 2016 Congressional Research Service report, has exceeded $5b. over the past two decades, despite the fact that the Palestinians “are among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid.”

In 2016 alone, Washington provided over $357m. in financial support to the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, in addition to the $355m. that year that it poured into UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

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But that has not stopped the Palestinians from defying the US at various international forums, denouncing it in no uncertain terms in its official statements and expressing solidarity with America’s enemies.

Just five months ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a congratulatory telegram to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un wishing him “health and happiness” even as the latter was threatening to attack the US with nuclear weapons.

And on December 14, as Palestinian Media Watch reported, Abbas’s Fatah movement posted on Twitter a photo of Trump alongside one of Adolf Hitler saying it saw no difference between the two.

That is hardly the proper way for recipients of American munificence to be acting, but the Palestinians have been getting away with such behavior for so many years that it has become virtually routine.

And therein lies the cleverness of Trump’s strategy. By bypassing traditional outlets of diplomacy and taking to Twitter, the president is able to get his message across in a direct and undiluted fashion, which is the most effective way of letting his intended audience know that he means business.

He has put the ball in the court of those who receive American aid, challenging them to choose between receiving US support or persisting in their errant and nefarious ways.

So here’s hoping that Trump continues to tweet and that the Palestinian leadership is made to tremble. Shaking things up and forcing Ramallah to realize there is a limit to US patience for its mischief-making is a step that is most certainly long overdue.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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Have We Lost All Our Marbles?

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 03:00

Apparently, yes. Or at least the Minister of Transportation, Israel Katz, has lost his marbles.

Katz got five minutes of news by announcing that the projected terminal alongside the Western Wall of the still-building rapid rail service from Tel Aviv will be named for US President Donald Trump.

For a man who likes to see his name on everything, the Western Wall (or at least the nearby railroad station) may be just another landmark.

No doubt there’ll be some Americans and Israelis cheering, but unless there’s a great change in presidential behavior and accomplishment before the station is actually built (if it ever is), we can expect the jeers to be louder.

For Israelis, it will be the height of shameful sycophantic behavior, substantially beyond the erection of seldom visited memorials to John F. Kennedy and 9-11, both at impressive sites in the Judean Mountains which might have been better left natural or used for projects more appropriate.

Leaving aside Israel’s duty to thank the US, Germany, Evangelicals, British, French, Danes, Russians, Czechs, and others for various kinds of assistance, the JFK and 9-11 Memorials came less from Israelis than from well-to-do and politically active American Jews, seemingly expressing a dual sense of patriotism.

For some time in the 1970s, the JFK Memorial was a routine stop on the route of tour groups. There was a kiosk nearby, selling soft drinks, candy, and ice cream.

Then tour buses went elsewhere, maintenance ceased, the kiosk fell into ruin, and the Memorial itself was locked and vandalized.

Years later the main floor was cleaned up but still locked.The building found its purpose with its lower level becoming clerical offices for the Israel National Fund.

The 9-11 Memorial fared even worse. Except for a visit by dignitaries at its completion, it seemed to pass into near-instant oblivion. In that, it joined many other memorials in a country with too many events and people to remember.

John Kennedy wasn’t all that much of a President and not all that much of a friend of Israel. The Cuban Missile Crisis and Alliance for Progress deserve some mention in the books, but so does the Bay of Pigs. The manner of his death marked the height of his career, and made him deserving of ceremonies, school and other site namings in the US, at least until his sexual quirks became known to the public.

9-11 was a significant event in the US but does not rank among the tragedies suffered in the history of Jews or the State of Israel.

A Trump Rail Road Station threatens to outdo Israel’s follies in memorializing American personalities and events. Citing Trump for a presidential visit to the Western Wall and recognizing Israel’s right to consider Jerusalem its capital may be due to some thanks. But a Railroad Station alongside the Western Wall? Much better to stick with the designation of Kotel, the traditional Hebrew name for a site that is as central as anything in Jewish faith and history.

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Among other things, the announcement may lessen the chances of Israel Katz among the replacements for Benjamin Netanyahu, whenever our long-serving Prime Minister finds himself indicted, pushed out by party colleagues embarrassed by revelations too many, or when he decides to leave office, ostensibly at his own volition, perhaps in a no-jail deal for himself and the missus.

There’s been no groundswell of rage at Katz’s decision, but that may reflect nothing more than the unknown number of years until the extension of the rail line to the Old City becomes a reality, and ample opportunity to give the station a more appropriate name.

We may be saved by arguments among professionals below the level of Minister Katz. There is already a light rail in place that passes by three of the Gates to the Old City. from what’ll be the Central Railroad station elsewhere in Jerusalem, planned to open within a year. Katz’s Trump Station will require a three-kilometer tunnel under a large swath of western Jerusalem as well as ancient, sacred, and sensitive sites alongside and within the Old City. And it may have trouble competing with another grandiose idea coming out of the Jerusalem Municipality: a cable car that will begin in the German Colony neighborhood, pass over the Valley of Hinnom where ancient Judaens sacrificed children to one or another god, and terminate alongside the Dung Gate near the Western Wall.

There’s already a mini-groundswell against both problematic ideas…

Some may see the Western Wall as an appropriate focus for treating Jerusalem’s landmarks as something more spectacular than Disneyland. For others, it is the most sacred symbol of a faith and a people that have withstood threats for 3,000 years. And it is also a tinderbox where misjudgment can produce yet another threat of unknown, but dire consequences.

Protest if you wish, but it’s too early to make the signs and schedule a demonstration.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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Spanish Courts Deal “Significant Blow” to BDS Movement in Spain

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 02:00

Spanish Courts have suspended its anti-Israel boycotts in the municipality of Castrillón, in Oviedo, Spain, said a press release by The Lawfare Project, an American litigation fund that mobilizes against anti-Israel law abuse.

During the last week of 2017, a district court in Oviedo issued a writ of interim injunction against the City Council of Castrillón for its discriminatory boycott of Israeli products.

Fifty Spanish municipalities have passed resolutions in favor of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in recent years, more than any other European country, but the tide may be turning. Of those resolutions, 20 have been labeled as discriminatory and have been undone in court and municipal repeals.

According to Times of Israel, Spain is standing up to BDS because trade and tourism with Israel are tempting during economic crisis. However, it may be temporary as “deep-rooted anti-Semitism still has strong foothold,” Times of Israel reported.

The City Council of Castrillón had previously restricted public procurement and municipal relations with Israeli institutions, companies, and organizations and adopted a “free spaces from Israel apartheid” designation. On the basis of breach of free speech and the academic freedom, the court issued a similar write of interim injunction against the city council in June. But the city council “decided to revoke its own boycott and write a new piece of boycott legislation that would theoretically be impervious to legal challenges.”

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The Lawfare Project hailed the newest verdict as a “significant blow” to the Spanish BDS movement, saying it paves the way for further legal action against the implementation of BDS.

According to The Lawfare Project, “The decision came shortly after another court in Barcelona struck down a boycott provision passed by the City Council of El Prat de Llobregat, in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, stating that the boycott is in breach of free speech and the academic freedom of the individuals targeted by the campaign.”

The Lawfare Project has seen great success in securing writs of injunction and favorable court decisions against the Spanish boycott campaign in various Spanish courts, securing 46 to date, including 19 in the last eight months. Doing so has established a court doctrine in Spain against boycotts.

“The Spanish Courts have supported our legal reasoning that boycotts of Israel infringe on human rights, violate free speech, and are tantamount to discrimination on account of national origin and personal opinions,” said Ignacio Wenley Palacios, The Lawfare Project’s Spanish Counsel. “The City Council of Castrillón passed this boycott with the notion that it would be impervious to legal challenges. We have proven them wrong.”

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Sexual Harassment East and West

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 02:00

“I say that when a girl walks about like that, it is a patriotic duty to sexually harass her and a national duty to rape her.” — Nabih Wahsh, Islamist lawyer, on Egypt’s al-Assema TV, October 19, 2017.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 sparked off increasingly revolutionary movements across the Islamic world, and in the process saw women in many countries denied the freedoms they had started to acquire under earlier regimes. The veil returned widely, notably in Turkey, following the growing power of authoritarian and fundamentalist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with women’s rights being increasingly denied.

We urgently need to drop our unwillingness to contrast Western and Islamic values — whether regarding violence, treatment of religious minorities, anti-Semitism, or treatment of women. There are also growing numbers of Muslims, as we are seeing today in Iran, who find wider Islamic attitudes abhorrent and work hard, mostly against the odds, to bring their faith closer to modern values.

For a time, one could not open a newspaper or visit an online news site without finding yet another scandal about sexual harassment. Lawyers are presumably going to have a field day for years to come. In the UK, a further wave of accusations has shaken an already shaky parliament and the Government, whose Cabinet is increasingly in disarray. In the US Congress, Hollywood and elsewhere, similar claims are still being made, with #MeToo stories being shared by women, while there is an unknown number of accusations in US statehouses.

Sex scandals in the West are far from new.[1] The irony is that this brings us face to face with attitudes to the same problem in the Islamic world.

For many years in the West, it was common practice for sexual harassment and rape among celebrities and public figures to be hushed up. To secure silence, abusers often used bribes or threats. Young women feared the loss of their careers or reputations; in many instances, the police would reject claims of abuse. This happened more than once in the UK when young victims of “Asian” grooming gangs were not believed by social workers and police; in Europe, authorities tried — and still try (see herehere and here) — to cover up harassment and rape committed by Muslim migrants. There will be a lot of work to do to protect women and children from the excesses of so many men.

Just watch and marvel at this short clip from a debate on Egypt’s al-Assema TV, aired on October 19, 2017, or read an English transcript. The Director-General of al-Assema is Brigadier-General Muhammad Samir, a former spokesman for the Egyptian armed forces. His appointment has been criticized on the grounds that it is “a miserable attempt by the military regime authorities to nationalize the media, unify its message, and block any opposing voices against the government”. In that sense, al-Assema represents a semi-official voice.

The debate on Egypt’s al-Assema TV included a lawyer, Nabih [el] Wahsh, an Islamist who has filed countless hesba [2] cases against intellectuals, artists, religious leaders and government ministers for acts he deems immoral or blasphemous. With Wahsh on air were three women: Shadia Thabet, a member of the Egyptian parliament, Abeer Soleiman, a women’s rights activist, and Ashgaan Nabil, a life coach.

Wahsh began by stressing that, regardless of Egypt being a civil state, it had to conform to Islamic religious rules and norms. On that basis, he engages in an argument which leads him to the following confrontation with Soleiman, whom he effectively silences by bullying her:

Nabih Wahsh: “Are you happy when you see a girl walking down the street with half of her behind showing?”

Abeer Suleiman: “Do you think that we don’t care about our girls?”

Nabih Wahsh: “I say that when a girl walks about like that, it is a patriotic duty to sexually harass her and a national duty to rape her.”

Abeer Suleiman: “No, no, no, no! I totally oppose this kind of talk. This is sexual harassment live on air…”

Nabih Wahsh: “It is a national duty to rape such a girl! What she allows herself to do constitutes depravity.”

Egyptian lawyer Nabih Wahsh recently advocated on television for sexual harassment and rape in retaliation for the temptation caused by uncovered women. (Image source: MEMRI)

This open espousal by a lawyer of sexual harassment and rape in retaliation for the temptation caused by uncovered women was backed by a heavily-covered member of parliament and followed by a “life coach” urging ten-year prison terms for homosexuals — all during a television broadcast — would, of course, finish their careers anywhere in the Western world within minutes. Men behave badly in Europe and the United States, and some very badly indeed; but to boast publicly about wishing to do so would be unthinkable.[3]

In the West, however, women have been fighting back for generations. The rise of sane feminism (as distinct from its shrill and politically-correct cousin)[4] has elevated the status of women in all the democracies and given courage to the many women who now find themselves empowered to call out powerful men who have sexually abused, groped and raped them.

There are feminists in the Islamic world. Countless books have been written about them and the growth of feminism in countries from Egypt and Iran to Indonesia. During the twentieth century, progress in establishing women’s rights was made in several places: the veil was abandoned, more women moved into professional life and even into politics — notably, the assassinated Benazir Bhutto, the first Muslim woman democratically elected (twice) as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Real advances, nevertheless, have been slow. Even as things were starting to improve for women, religious minorities, and others in some countries, such as Turkey, the Salafi style of fundamentalist Islam, based on a demand to return to the practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the first three generations of his followers (salaf means “predecessors”), was already underway from the early years of the twentieth century, notably through the work of the Egyptian writer Rashid Rida. For Rida, and later for Salafis down to the Islamic State enterprise, reform meant turning away from the Western models that had inspired new legislation, and back to the earliest days of Islam as embodied in the Qur’an, the ahadith (sayings and acts of the prophet), and the biographies of Muhammad. In 1928, another Egyptian, the schoolteacher Hasan al-Banna, established the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading revivalist movement in Islam since the 1920s, which remains to this day a major international force for reviving fundamentalist Islam.

Ironically, one prominent individual to have been caught up in the current wave of harassment revelations is Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University. Ramadan’s grandfather was none other than Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Masquerading as the respectable voice of modern Islamic thought and practice, Ramadan has been exposed by several writers as a front for the Brotherhood and its anti-Western values. French journalist Caroline Fourest published an exposé, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, in which she shows how he says one thing to his Western audience and quite another to Muslims in France and abroad.

The American author Paul Berman wrote clearly of this in a long article about Tariq Ramadan in New Republic:

Ramadan’s harsher critics would argue that in speaking… the way he did on these abstract and historical questions, not to mention on his grandfather’s ideals, he was cagily deploying a “double discourse” — a language intended to deceive Western liberals about the grain of his own thought. An accusation of “double discourse” has dogged Ramadan for many years in France. It is a chief complaint against him, and a big source of anxiety among his critics. Fourest, in Brother Tariq, documents what appears to be rather a lot of “double discourse,” instances in which Ramadan appears to have said one thing to the general public and something else to his Muslim audiences.

In his many books and lectures, Ramadan has promoted the worldview of the hardline Brotherhood while posing as a Western-style philosopher in tune with modern liberal values. That is the basis for his duplicity: the Islam he promulgates in carefully phrased and disingenuous terms has nothing in common with Western values at all. It is this ability to pull the wool over the eyes of thinkers and politicians, a deception that has given him a professorship at Oxford University, that makes him a truly dangerous individual.

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In addition to Caroline Fourest’s series of articles in the French journal Marianne, detailing Ramadan’s use of sexual harassment, rape, and general misogynist practices, he has also been accused by the American academic Phyllis Chesler “of having violently raped, battered, humiliated, confined, and death threatened them [his victims] if they talked”.

In response to these claims, Oxford University acted promptly, placing him on leave while his predations are investigated and, as seems likely, subjected to criminal charges. Not surprisingly, as the journalist Abigail Esman has pointed out:

Tariq Ramadan’s many fans – more than 600,000 people follow him on Twitter and he has more than 2 million Facebook followers – have had plenty to say. He is innocent, they are certain. In their comments on both social media sites, they assure him that Allah will protect him. The women are liars, or part of a conspiracy: against Muslims, against the Muslim leader himself, against Islam – all the insidious, but entirely predictable, work of the world’s Jews.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 sparked off increasingly more revolutionary movements across the Islamic world, and in the process saw women in many countries, across the Islamic world, denied the freedoms they had started to acquire under earlier regimes. The veil returned widely, notably in Turkey, following the growing power of authoritarian and fundamentalist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with women’s rights being increasingly denied. Erdogan recently condemned Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad ibn Salman’s vow to engender a “moderate Islam,” calling it a fake Islam supposedly imposed by the West.

Men in Western democracies certainly have much to be ashamed of; the women who call out predators are right to do so. If identifying powerful figures who manipulate vulnerable women will help create a more level playing field for both sexes in countries that have worked hard to put all citizens on a basis of equality, it cannot but be a boon for democracy. Whatever we have done wrong, we have also done much to rectify distortions in our societies. The very fact that in the West, such men are considered shameful and contrary to our better values is itself a sign of how far things have changed.

The Islamic world in general remains enmeshed in ancient attitudes, going backward rather than forwards, despite sterling efforts by various reformers to confront patriarchy in several Muslim countries, efforts backed by many Muslim women.[5] Those attitudes are rooted in a wide range of assaults on women and their lives: female genital mutilation (FGM) sanctioned by religious tradition; honor killings even for girls who have been raped; legally-enforced marriage to a woman’s rapistfloggings and stonings for women suspected of marital or pre-marital adultery, or even who have been raped; veiling; marital rape; and denial of independence (a woman must always be subject to a male guardian – father, brother, uncle, male cousin — whose permission is needed for most things). Beyond this, it has always been permissible for Muslim men to capture or buy non-Muslim women as sex slaves, as we have seen recently with Boko Haram and Islamic State, and in Saudi ArabiaMauritania, Singapore, Sudan, Mauritius, Libya, the United States and Europe.

Muslim men, however, have enormous freedoms. They may marry four women; they can divorce a wife by merely pronouncing “I divorce you”; if they are Shi’is, they can take temporary wives through nikah mut’a,[6] (“pleasure marriage”), that can be contracted for hours or months or years, and as easily terminated. If they are Sunnis, they can take temporary wives through nikah misyar, (“traveler’s marriage”), used in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to allow men to keep wives in towns they visit from time to time or, more widely, by married men who seek legal mistresses.

Polygamy continues to be popular, even for Muslim men living in the West. A website set up by British businessman Azad Chaiwala, “Secondwife.com“, which enables men to find further wives in the way non-Muslims use dating sites, has over 100,000 members, including 25,000 in the UK. Although polygamy in Britain carries a seven-year prison term for men, the Muslim version is seemingly exempt as it is considered a religious arrangement. Muslim men in Britain and on the Continent are never prosecuted as polygamists, even though Islamic marriage laws place women in jeopardy in respect of divorce and child custody. The government has even encouraged polygamous marriages to be contracted abroad, and at one point offered £10,000 in benefits for families with four wives.

We urgently need to drop our unwillingness to contrast Western and Islamic values — whether regarding violence, treatment of religious minorities, anti-Semitism, or treatment of women. It is not only non-Muslim Westerners who are entitled to make such comparisons — there are also growing numbers of Muslims, as we are seeing today in Iran, who find wider Islamic attitudes abhorrent and work hard, mostly against the odds, to bring their faith closer to modern values.

Many Western politicians, churchmen, and sundry do-gooders choose to find no fault in Islam and describe any form of criticism as “Islamophobia” — even punishing honest critics of the religion or the actions of some of its followers for daring to breach the code of silence and multicultural acquiescence. These would-be moralists do no favours to us, to Muslim women and children, or to Muslim reformers. Ours is not a perfect civilization. But crying mea culpa, while passing over the problems of a civilization that also has faults, does not seem the way to assuage a communal guilt.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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500,000 Year Old Village Casts Light on Ancient World in Israel

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 01:30

A half-million-year-old archaeological site discovered in the Sharon region has given researchers an important window into ancient life in the region,” the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University Archaeology Department said in a joint statement Sunday.

“The extraordinary quantity of flint tools uncovered in the excavation provides significant information about the lifeways of prehistoric humans during the Lower Paleolithic period,” said excavation director Maayan Shemer.

Shemer said that half a million years ago, the availability of potable water, food and flint nodules to make tools made the region, adjacent to the modern Arab city of Jaljulia, favorable for human activity.

“We associate the industry found on site to Homo Erectus – a direct ancestor of the Homo Sapiens, the human species living today. A geological reconstruction of the prehistoric environment shows that the human activity took place in a dynamic environment,  on the banks of an ancient stream possibly Nahal Qaneh, which now flows approximately 500 meters south of the site,” Shemer said.

“This environment is considered to have been rich with vegetation and herding animals, a ‘green spot’ in the landscape,” she added.

According to Prof. Ran Barkai, head of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, the site will enable archeologists to trace the behavior of our direct prehistoric ancestors and reconstruct their lifestyle.

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“It’s hard to believe that between Jaljulia and Route 6, just five meters below the surface, an ancient landscape some half-a-million years old has been so amazingly preserved,” Barkai said. “The past of all human beings is buried in the earth, and we have a one-time opportunity to travel back half a million years and better get to know the ancient humans who lived here before us,” he said.

Researchers at the site found hand axes, the dominant tools used by prehistoric humans as well as other stone tools. For more than a million years, hand axes were used, possibly to dismember large animals such as elephants. Others say that hand axes were the “Swiss Army knife” of the Stone Age and had additional uses such as hunting, hide working and working plant and vegetal material.

According to IAA archeologists, some of them are higher quality than the others as the production was made by craftsmen and others- by someone less qualified

Shemer added that nobody expected to find such amazing findings both, both in terms of their preservation state and their implications about the  understanding of ancient life in Jaljulya. “There are only two sites whose estimated age is close to Jaljulia, in central Israel: One in Kibbutz Eyal, approximately 5 km to the north, and the other, dated to a slightly later cultural phase, at Qesem Cave located approximately 5 km to the south.

“We see here a wide technological variety, and there is no doubt that researching these finds in-depth will contribute greatly to the understanding of the lifestyle and human behavior during the period in which Homo Erectus inhabited our area,” said Shemer.

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2017 Was Tough But Successful Year for Israeli Army

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 01:30

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) recently published the latest statistics on terror attacks in Israel for 2017. The numbers show that Israel’s soldiers, in conjunction with  intelligence, did an impressive job protecting the country and her citizens.

• There were 99 terror attacks in Judea and Samaria in 2017 compared with 269 attacks in 2016.

• During operational activities in Judea and Samaria, IDF soldiers captured 10,061,120 shekels of “terror money” intended to fund terrorist attacks or reward terrorists for carrying out attacks.

• 3,617 terrorists were captured in 2017 as compared to 3,143 terrorists in 2016

• Security forces closed 42 shops used to manufacture weapons in Palestinian Authority-run areas in Judea and Samaria.

• No infiltrators from the Egyptian border managed to enter Israel in 2017.

• For the past several years, the IDF has been assisting Syrian residents in the Golan Heights during their grueling civil war. The army has been assigned to handle humanitarian aid from Israel. In 2017, 917 Syrian victims were treated by Israeli doctors at the border, 2,679 patients were transported and treated at the American Mazor Ladach Hospital near the Israel-Syria border, 542,880 liters of fuel was transferred, 694 tons of food was donated, 6,351 baby diapers and 14,138 boxes of prenatal multivitamin were provided.

Unfortunately, not all the news was as good. Terrorist fired 35 rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip. In 2016, only 15 rockets were fired into the Holy Land. However, the IDF quickly retaliated by attacking 59 targets in Gaza. The Israeli army succeeded in destroying rocket launchers, outposts, training camps, weapons production sites, observation posts and more.

In addition, although there was a decrease in the number of terror attacks, the number of Israeli victims increased. In 2017, 20 Israelis were murdered in terror attacks and 169 were injured. By comparison, in 2016, 17 Israelis were murdered and 263 were injured.

“Every moment of every day IDF soldiers work to protect Israel’s citizens against her enemies,” stated Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, an organization which provides for the welfare of Israel’s soldiers to Breaking Israel News. “We must continue to be diligent in providing Israel’s soldiers with what they need to succeed in their missions. They never rest on their laurels and neither should we.”

To donate to Israel’s brave soldiers, please visit here.

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Sephardic Chief Rabbi Comes Out in Opposition to Capital Punishment

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 01:00

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yaakov Yosef came out Saturday night against capital punishment, saying that implementing the death penalty in Israel would put Jews abroad in danger, and adding that religious authorities have “always opposed capital punishment.”

Yosef noted that many security officials also oppose capital punishment.

“It’s not a matter of right- or left-wing,” Yosef said. “There is simply no benefit to be gained. If the law were to be implemented against a Jew, it would violate Jewish law (halacha). And even if a terrorist were to be sentenced to death – can you imagine the outcry around the world between the time that the sentence was handed down and the time it was carried out? It could put Jews all over the world… in danger. And for what?”

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The proposal to introduce capital punishment in Israel for terrorists, tabled by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, sparked a political storm last week despite winning initial approval in the Knesset plenum: Coalition member United Torah Judaism abstained from the vote, saying they wanted to consult with Ashkenazi rabbinic leaders before voting, and National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz said that voting the proposal into law would be the “worst thing Israel could do to itself and predicted the measure would not become law.

“I decide to vote in favor only after Netanyahu said that after the preliminary vote, the bill would return to the Cabinet for more deliberations,” Steinitz told the Israel Broadcasting Corporation (Kan) last Thursday. “This law is the worst thing Israel can do to itself; the damage will exceed the benefit on an international level,” he said.

Former Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, Attorney General Avichai Mandleblit and Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman also oppose the law.

Implementing capital punishment would be a “barbaric throwback to a primitive age,” MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union).

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Islamic Terrorists or Tragic Heroes?

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 01:00

The so-called mainstream media’s approach to and apologies for Islamic terrorism have become as predictable as they are farcical.  In a recent piece titled, “A Mysterious Act of Mercy by the Subway Bombing Suspect,” the New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman portrays would-be suicide bomber Akayed Ullah—whose foiled attempt at Times Square subway last month could have massacred countless Americans—as just another Muslim youth angered at and responding to the mistreatment of Muslims, that is, a Muslim with legitimate “grievances.”  This is clear from the opening sentences:

Before Akayed Ullah returned home to New York from his native Bangladesh … he had one last thing to do — an all-night bus ride by himself to help Rohingya refugees [Muslims].  After visiting relatives here in the capital city, Dhaka, he traveled across the country, slept in a mosque and under a tree, and passed out a few hundred dollars of medicine in the crowded refugee camps.  “When he left [America], he seemed happy,” said his mother-in-law, Mahfuza Akhter. “But when he returned, he was so upset. He said those people were living in hell, each and every minute.”

“That lonely trip across Bangladesh in September remains a mystery,” Gettleman goes on to opine, wondering whether Ullah was “following his own heart, reflecting some sort of inner struggle as he headed toward his first known act of violence and self-destruction.”  Gettleman claims to base this “tragic hero” image of the would-be Muslim suicide bomber on “extensive interviews with more than a dozen friends, relatives, and acquaintances,” all of whom (opportunistically?) say that Ullah was “outraged by injustices inflicted on Muslims.  He was also described by several people who know him well as loving and giving.”  According to Gettleman, such claims “still leave a hole as to why Mr. Ullah did this.”

And so it goes. To anyone paying attention, the NYT’s portrayal of Ullah is virtually boilerplate; the duplicate structure of the portrayals of all Islamic terrorists who strike at the United States.  Recall, for instance, when Abdul Razak Ali Artan—an 18-year-old Muslim refugee from Somalia, who was receiving aid from Catholic charities—rammed his car into a building at Ohio State University, then got out and stabbed people with a butcher knife, hospitalizing some 13 people.   CNN, NBC, the Washington Post and many others sought to rationalize away Artan’s violence by citing one of his Facebook posts where he wrote, “Seeing my fellow Muslims being tortured, raped and killed in Burma led to a boiling point. I can’t take it anymore.”

The problem with both Ullah’s and Artan’s supposed “grievances” is twofold.  First, the obvious: how, exactly, does terrorizing and slaughtering Americans make up for the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Burma/Myanmar?  If Ullah and Artan were primarily motivated by the suffering of the Rohingya, shouldn’t they have sought to terrorize and kill Burmese—not Americans?

Secondly, while media and other “experts” routinely portray such Muslim terrorists as being motivated by the “love” they feel for fellow Muslims—as when former CIA Michael Scheuer described Osama bin Laden as a man of love, comparing him to Robin Hood—this “love” is itself another reflection of Islamic supremacism and the flipside to the Islamic doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity: just as Muslims are obligated to hate and fight non-Muslims, so are they “obligated to befriend a believer—even if he is oppressive and violent toward you—while he [the Muslim] must be hostile to the infidel—even if he is liberal and kind to you” (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 64 ).  Or as the Koran (48:29) more succinctly puts it, Muslims “are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves.”

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Simply put, Ullah’s terror attempt is a byproduct of Islamic teachings that make the non-Muslim enemy number one, regardless of any real or imagined “grievances.”  The reason Ullah struck the U.S. as opposed to Myanmar is probably because the latter has more “draconian” security measures that made America an easier target.  Ironically, Bangladeshi authorities, who said Ullah “was closely following several jihadist websites,” come closer to the mark:  “He seemed to have this hatred for America,” said Monirul Islam, the chief of Bangladesh’s counterterrorism police operations. “We’re not exactly sure where it came from.”

While the answer is self-evident—the hatred came from jihadi websites that preach hate for all infidels 24/7—at least Bangladeshi authorities do not offer silly and sappy motivations such as “grievances,” which is more than can be said for so-called mainstream Western media and their nonstop efforts to portray Islamic aggressors as “tragic heroes.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Raymond Ibrahim

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Netanyahu Wants Artificial Islands To House Infrastructure

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:30

Israel is examining the possibility of constructing artificial islands off the coast of Israel to host vital infrastructure facilities and free space for residential construction, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said he was setting up an advisory team to push the project ahead. “Israel is one of the most crowded countries on earth and the projection is that by the middle of the century, it may become the most crowded country on earth,” Netanyahu said

According to the World Bank, Israel is currently the 27th most crowded country on earth, with 395 people per square kilometer (in comparison). But according to demographer Sergio Della Pergola, from Be’er Sheva northward Israel has the highest population density in the Western world: Forty percent of the country’s population lives within a 10-kilometer strip along the coast.

The length of Israel’s Mediterranean coast is about 196 km of which only about 53 are natural open beach.

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“We have a coastline that houses crucial infrastructure such as desalination plants and power plants. What we are suggesting is that we build artificial islands off the coast of Israel that will be able to house these facilities and vacate space,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister said he had been looking into artificial islands off the coast of Israel since his first term in office in 1996. “Back then we began looking at artificial islands, but opposition from environmentalists and issues of feasibility put a stop to it,” Netanyahu said. “But in the 20 years that have passed since then, technology has advanced immensely and has also become far more environmentally friendly. We can also answer questions of economic and ecological feasibility. It is definitely within reach.”

The prime minister said the research team would be led by Avi Simhon, head of the National Economic Council.

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Arab League to Support Palestinian Bid for Full UN Membership

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:00

The Palestinians will seek full membership in the United Nations with the backing of the Arab League in response to the recent U.S. policy changes on Jerusalem, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Saturday.

“We will confront the decision by seeking a [U.N.] resolution, an international one, to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital,” Safadi said.

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Safadi’s comments came after a meeting of six Arab foreign ministers—from Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA)—in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas said last month that the Palestinians would seek full membership in the U.N. and ultimately apply to join all 522 official international organizations in response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcement of plans to move the U.S. embassy to that city.

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Money Means Nothing

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:00

Evidently, money means little when it comes to projecting military power. How else to explain the fact that the US is in a tizzy because of threats and actions by Russia, by Iran, and even by dirt-poor North Korea – all of which have economies that are minuscule in comparison to America’s? What counts more than money is the miscreants’ will to use firepower ruthlessly, with no consideration for concepts such as “international law” or morality. This“gangster” mentality, by which a person or government acts in any way which furthers self-interest, regardless of consequences, has been adopted by some relatively poor states. It is a tactic used by the weak to counteract much stronger adversaries. And it can work!

“With limited financial and military resources at its disposal, Tehran relies on its feud with Washington to raise its profile and secure allies abroad.” Hilal Khashan. The same applies to Russia and N. Korea. All three use jiu-jitsu against the most powerful country in the world, the US.

Gangster regimes such as Iran and N. Korea threaten the US by name with annihilation, with not so much as a whimper by America’s allies. Israel is even threatened with total destruction in the halls of the useless United Nations. There were no outcries against these threats by UN Ambassadors, threats which are specifically outlawed by the UN Charter, Article Two, Section 4: All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. This prohibition is honored only by its violation.

Below is a chart of the 2017 military expenditures of selected countries, showing a disparity of 100:1 from the strongest to the weakest according to military budgets:

USA $600 billion

Saudi Arabia $57 billion

Russia $45 billion

South Korea $44 billion

Germany $39 billion

Israel $16 billion

North Korea $8 billion

Iran $6 billion

Reviewing these rounded-off figures, it’s quickly apparent that the size of a country’s military budget has little relation to its potency or clout. Saudi Arabia’s huge expenditures have not produced a powerful army, far from it, while Iran’s and N. Korea’s modest budgets finance the two biggest global threats. The US spends 100 times what Iran does, yet Iran threatens America with impunity and has even driven a wedge between it and its European “allies,” who are content to try to appease the “tiger,” hoping it will eat someone else (usually Israel.) This failed strategy was even adopted by the US when President Obama made a rapprochement with Iran his top foreign policy goal.

The JCPOA, aka the Iran nuclear deal, was ironically consummated just a century after European states stood by as a defeated Germany rebuilt its military machine after WW1, eventually starting WW2. The JCPOA looks to be a similar failed mistake. Trump’s efforts to strengthen the JCPOA are vigorously opposed by the Iranians, who view nuclear weapons, or the threat of using them, as a cudgel to hammer the Middle East (and even further afield). The Europeans, blinded by their pacifistic tendencies as well as their greed for commercial ventures, help Iran by stymying Trump’s agenda to amend the agreement. The result: the US is resisted and branded a warmonger.

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During the last century and until now, weaker powers have gained relative strength. They have profited from the stronger powers’ refusal to use their economic weight and firepower early on when it was possible to prevent malevolent, weak countries from building their arsenals. Today’s giant problems, Iran and N. Korea, could easily have been prevented several decades ago by the judicious use of realpolitik by the US, helped by its allies – who have turned out to be allies only economically, not militarily.

Despite all the money the wealthier nations have spent on arming themselves, poorer nations have used the “guns not butter” policy (investing in weapons – not civilian goods), coupled with gangster mentality to gain power. Only a hardening of foreign policy coupled with realpolitik can turn this around, at least in the case of Iran. As for N. Korea, a more militaristic strategy may be necessary since negotiations have only been used by the North Koreans to confound the West and to give three successive Korean dictators time to build their arsenals.

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Iran’s Mullahs: Dictators Who Need A Perpetual Enemy

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:00

Nikki Haley, America’s formidable ambassador to the United Nations, has done it again. The Iranian uprising has been hard to “see,” and cell phone videos, photos, Facebook posts and Twitter allow us only sporadic peeks. And even those are being shut down in places, as the Islamic regime works to close Iranian access to the wider world. Ambassador Haley used her microphone to spread the slogans of the protestors:

  • “Let go of Palestine”
  • “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life (only) for Iran”
  • “Leave Syria. Think about us.”
  • “Don’t be afraid; don’t be afraid, we’re all together.”
  • “Feel some shame (Khameini). Let go of the country.”
  • “All these brigades have come out to the street; they’ve come out against the leader.”
  • “Political prisoners must be freed.”
  • “Independence, freedom, Iranian Republic.”

For all that the mainstream media, and erstwhile members of the Obama “echo chamber” would have us believe this is an economic uprising, it is inextricably tied to the political desire of the Iranian people for freedom and a government that responds to their needs and aspirations. It is inextricably tied to Iranian nationalism – and tied to the choices of their government to spend national treasury on war. Yes, the Iranian economy is terrible – even after the easing of trade sanctions and the delivery of pallets of cash by the Obama administration. But the Mullahs running the Islamic Republic are not interested in the economy, the people, or nationalism. Months ago, I wrote in a different context:

The mullahs in Iran are not Iranian or Persian nationalists, they are Shiite supremacists. When the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran in 1979 after fourteen years of exile, he condemned all nationalism as “sherk,” which means associating other beings or things with God. He said what mattered was Islam, not Iran or any other country, according to the Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, Chairman. Khomeini declared war on the United States, on Israel, and on the West. The declaration was real and has military as well as political implications, but it was also a way of deflecting attention from Iran’s declaration of war on Sunni Islam.

IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami backed me up in late November:

Today, the mighty Basij has crossed the boundaries of this land. Our destiny has become linked to the destiny of Iraq, of Syria, of Lebanon, of Bahrain, of Yemen, of Pakistan, of Afghanistan, and of everywhere throughout the Islamic world. We knew that we were all in the same boat and that therefore, we had to unite and fight on the same front. This was God’s promise.

No matter how many pallets of cash arrive in Tehran, if the government sees its existential duty as war abroad, expanding the boundaries of the Shiite empire, there will never be enough money to create a healthy economy within the borders of a single country.

With this in mind, the failure of the mainstream media to support the demonstrators becomes clearer, and a path for the United States becomes clearer as well.

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The Washington Post believes “moderates” in the government can work to restore calm. John Kerry was overwhelmed with “humility” about “how little we know about what’s happening inside Iran,” although he had precious little humility when he assured Americans that the Iran deal would moderate the Mullahs. Catherine Ray, EU spokesperson was five days late, tweeting Tuesday, “The #EU is following the demonstrations in #Iran. We have been in touch with the Iranian authorities.” To give them a chance to make their case, no doubt. Most revealingly, The New York Times published former Obama administration official Philip Gordon, who demanded “quiet” from the Trump administration, lest the Mullahs blame us for their troubles. Susan Rice, spinner of the tale of Benghazi, retweeted his plea.

News flash #1: “They” don’t blame America for actual things the U.S. has done. Dictatorial governments need a perpetual enemy – Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, the USSR and now Russia, Iran, and China have royally ruined their own countries and harmed their own people, and they perfectly well know that they can’t fix it and mostly they don’t want to. (The Palestinians are a step ahead, having pre-ruined any possible State of Palestine.) American attempts to curry favor with dictators in the hope that it will a) make them nice, or b) keep them from blaming us for their mess will fail. Always.

That means news flash #2: The United States has little incentive to be tiptoe around the Mullahs. We, therefore, have two jobs: to amplify the voice of the Iranian uprising; and to make it as hard as possible for Iran to operate in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, squeezing the Mullahs between their internal and external foes.

The course of the uprising is not yet clear, but its success would be the harbinger of the Middle East free of a malign influence. We can’t abandon the people of Iran.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jewish Policy Center

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Will Iran’s Regime Again Unleash Immense Brutality Against Protesters?

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 05:00

In 2009, shortly after President Barack Obama entered the office, millions of people rose up against the ruling theocratic regime of Iran. The demonstrations began in response to the disputed election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had been favored by the ruling mullahs. The election had taken place on June 12, 2009, and two hours after the polls had closed, the results were announced, causing people to immediately take to the streets. By the next day, the peaceful demonstrators were met with the club-wielding Basij, a pro-government paramilitary group.

By June 19, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the election a “divine assessment” and declared that protests would no longer be tolerated. By June 22, video footage of a beautiful young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, who had been fatally shot by the Basij while demonstrating, quickly spread throughout the internet and grabbed international attention.

Unfortunately, there were many more anonymous Nedas. The government used this time to purge the opposition party as well as to conduct arbitrary arrests of journalists and human rights activists. The Basij came out on horseback and began to trample on demonstrators. Hospitals were prohibited from reporting the amount of casualties. Many of the demonstrators had been carted off to the notorious Evin Prison to be tortured and raped. Many have never been seen or heard from again.

In the midst of all of this, freedom-loving dissidents throughout Iran were holding up signs saying “down with the dictatorship” and “Obama, where are you?”

The leader of the free world was silent during the initial days of the protests, and when he finally did speak, President Obama’s words were, at best, muted. He said, “It is up to the Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be.”

These people were looking towards the U.S. as the moral leader of the world, and one word from the president might have made a critical difference.

One cannot help but contrast this to the words of President Donald Trump regarding the new anti-regime protests in Iran. On Sunday, he tweeted, “Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”

One has to marvel at the amazing courage of today’s demonstrators in Iran, who are able to protest despite the known brutality of the regime. Today’s Iranian protesters took to the streets because of government corruption, inflation and lack of economic opportunity. They are puzzled that their regime received $150 billion in unfrozen assets due to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, yet none of this has trickled down to the common man. They are probably disgusted that most of the key sectors of the economy are controlled by the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

We have no way of confirming this, but we are hopeful that the demonstrators might also be motivated by disgust over the regime’s foreign policy; it’s aggressive behavior and meddling in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Gaza; and its support for terrorist entities such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

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We know that at the time I am writing this, the demonstrations have spread to seven cities, and that they are robust and impressive in size.

There is a lot more, however, that we do not know. We do not know whether or not the regime will once again unleash its immense brutality against the demonstrators. We do not know whether or not these demonstrations might blossom into a genuine threat to the regime.

What we do know is that most of Iran’s current population has been born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and that more than half of Iranians are younger than 35. Many of them despise the country’s oppressive and brutal theocracy and would love to experience the beautiful taste of Western liberties.

We hope that just as we used Radio Free Europe to overthrow the chokehold of the former Soviet Union, we are also using Voice of America in Farsi to support the Iranian demonstrators. We hope that the CIA is on the ground doing whatever it can to support the legitimate voice of the opposition. We hope that we are using cyber technology to enable the demonstrators to break through the obstacles that the mullahs are imposing on social media and other methods of communication. We hope that the Iranian regime knows that if the outcome is at all similar to the unfortunate result in 2009, both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. will not hesitate to come together and impose crippling sanctions against Iran for its human rights violations.

We hope for the stability of the region and the world, but mostly for the Iranian people, that this odious regime can be overthrown. But in the meantime, we hope that there will be no more Nedas.

Reprinted with author’s permission from EMET Online

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Ancient 2,700-Year-Old “Governor’s Seal” Found in Jerusalem

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 04:30

Archeologists found a small clay seal near the Western Wall in Jerusalem which historians now believe prove the Biblical claim that Ancient Jerusalem had governors.

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The Lawyers’ War on Trump

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 04:00

The original civil war was fought by farmhands and factory workers, freed slaves and young boys turned soldiers; the new civil war is being fought by lawyers in blue or gray suits not with bullets, but with bullet points.

From the Mueller investigation to Federal judges declaring that President Trump doesn’t have the right to control immigration policy or command the military, from political sabotage at the DOJ by Obama appointees like Sally Yates to Patagonia’s lawsuit over national monuments, the cold civil war set off by the left’s rejection of the 2016 election results has been a paper war largely waged by lawyers.

“The biggest threat to New Yorkers right now is the federal government,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York recently declared. The radical leftist pol who had once vowed to do everything possible to elect Hillary Clinton was explaining his hundred lawsuits against the government on everything from net neutrality to the travel ban meant to keep out the Islamic terrorists running over tourists near Ground Zero and bombing commuters in the tunnels off Times Square.

Islamic terrorists have killed thousands of people in New York City in the last two decades. Net neutrality’s current death toll hovers around zero. The Federal government is far less of a threat to New Yorkers than their own government which insists that Islamic terrorists should be able to kill them. But it is a great threat to a class of political lawyers whose ranks include AG Schneiderman, Hawaii’s Judge Derrick Watson, Mueller’s team, Sally Yates, the ACLU and countless other #resistance combatants.

The blatant secessionism of the AG’s premise is no longer extraordinary. Not when California’s Jerry Brown tours the world signing independent environmental treaties. Schneiderman is one of a number of blue state attorney generals who have decided that their primary focus shouldn’t be enforcing the law, but resisting the Federal government. But Scheiderman is also articulating the central tenet of the new #resistance which, despite Antifa’s antics, is more dedicated to legal sabotage than actual violence.

It’s still a paper civil war. For now.

The loss of the two elected branches of government has forced the left to default to the unelected third. Like AG Schneiderman, the left’s legal civil war appears to reject the authority of the Federal government. But despite the posturing, blue staters aren’t serious about seceding. Nor have they become newfound converts to the rights of states to go their own way when they disagree with D.C.

New York and California’s #resistance apparatchiks aren’t rejecting the authority of Federal judges. They’re turning to them and relying on them. Instead, they’re rejecting the authority of elected Federal officials. Their secession isn’t Federal, it’s democratic. They want a strong central government. They just aren’t willing to allow the American people to decide who gets to run it.

That’s what the civil war is about.

Will the American people govern themselves? Or will Mueller, Schneiderman, Watson, Yates and ten thousand other elites with law degrees be allowed to turn elections into a meaningless farce?

Federal judges have seized previously unimaginable amounts of power by not only blocking orders that had always been considered an essential part of presidential authority on flimsy premises that when dissected amount to a critique of President Trump’s character (not to mention the sovereign entitlement of the University of Hawaii to set national immigration policy for the entire country based on its urgent need for Syrian grad students), but by demanding that agencies under the control of the President of the United States enact their orders, such as accepting transgender military recruits.

The absurd outcomes of these rulings, that the University of Hawaii can set national immigration policy, but not the President of the United States, and that fitness to serve in the military can be determined by a Federal judge, but not by the military or the commander in chief, are only an irrational side effect of a conflict between the elected branches of government and an unelected class of political lawyers.

The Mueller investigation has to be seen in the context of a battle between the democratic powers of the people to choose their own representatives and the lawyers who actually run the government. Elections are being replaced by investigations and litigation as the engines of government. You don’t need to win an election to investigate elected officials. You don’t need public support to sue either.

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Government by litigation and investigation shifts power away from voters to lawyers. What was meant to be a last resort for redressing serious violations instead becomes the primary test for holding political office? When investigation and litigation become more powerful tools than an election, then a politician must court the political-legal class ahead of the country’s voters and put his obligations to them first.

That intended outcome is also the cause of the conflict.

President Trump refused to put the political class ahead of the voters. The legal civil war is being fought to reaffirm the centrality of the establishment over the voters. The civil war is a conflict between the political class and the people. It’s a struggle over the tools of government being waged with those tools.

Populism isn’t always a threat to the establishment. Obama’s populism didn’t threaten the establishment because its purpose was to reaffirm its power. Hope and Change just meant building a coalition that would vote for more government power in exchange for political goodies. But Trump’s populism challenges the existence of the establishment and its ability to distribute those goodies.

Politicians often run against the political machine. But most just want to pull the levers. Trump has challenged its power and its existence. And that is what set off the civil war.

Legal conflict is the last stage before a physical conflict. The lawyers’ war is a last-ditch effort by the establishment to wrest physical control of the government from President Trump. Unable to give the orders as the representatives of the people, the left is asserting every possible valid and invalid legal stratagem to run the government anyway. And to run President Trump out of town.

If its legal gambit fails, the left will default fully to mass protests, street violence, and terrorism.

But the beauty of the legal gambit is that it allows the left to make common cause with establishment non-radicals like Mueller or the FBI’s Strzok who disprove of President Trump without sharing the left’s larger political agenda. A civil war fought by lawyers is cleaner and less ugly than one fought with bombs and bullets. If President Trump can survive the lawyers’ war, his opposition will be split between radicals who support violence and an establishment that wants to keep things running.

That is the Mueller test.

If the Democrats can’t sweep into office on the investigation’s coattails, the whole thing dies with a whimper. As Trump reshapes the judiciary, the judicial activism will matter less. The lawyers’ war will either end with the next election. Or it will begin in earnest. And only voter turnout will decide that.

Meanwhile, the civil war continues. It’s a civil war fought with paperwork. But its outcome will determine whether the “government of the people, by the people, for the people” that President Lincoln invoked in the Gettysburg Address will thrive or “perish from the earth.”

Governments are run by bullets and paper, by force and process. Today’s civil war is still a paper war. But if the paper civil war fails, the rest of it may be fought the same way as the original civil war.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Sultan Knish Blog

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Israeli Journalist “Sneaks” Into Syria

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 03:30

Israeli journalist Jonathan Spyer entered Syria on a British passport and met twice with a top Syrian Minister.

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Considering Netanyahu’s Transformational Leadership

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 03:00

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most underappreciated leader Israel has ever had.

In the near future, he will likely take Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s title of the longest-serving premier.

Yet, Netanyahu is not only perceived as being a leader of less significance than Ben-Gurion. He is considered a less consequential leader than prime ministers like Levi Eshkol, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, whose records in office are far thinner than Netanyahu’s.

Both Netanyahu’s detractors and supporters view his long stewardship of Israel as largely inconsequential because Netanyahu has not overseen any grand, headline-grabbing initiatives.

He didn’t declare Israel’s independence, as Ben-Gurion did. He didn’t lead Israel through the 1967 Six Day War and so oversee Israel’s greatest military victory to date, as Eshkol did. He didn’t recognize the PLO, like Rabin. He didn’t withdraw from Gaza like Sharon did. He hasn’t withdrawn from Judea and Samaria, as Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert tried to do. He didn’t surrender south Lebanon to Hezbollah, as Barak did.

True, grand initiatives like all of these have left their marks on Israel – for better and for worse. And no, Netanyahu has no grand initiative in his record.

But when you stop and think about what Netanyahu has accomplished during his more than a decade in office, it rapidly becomes clear that he has adroitly and successfully transformed Israel for the better in a way that no leader except Ben-Gurion has done.

Netanyahu has operated in a media environment more hostile than any his predecessors ever faced. Despite this, beginning with his first term in office in the late 1990s, Netanyahu authored and implemented the economic reforms that transformed Israel from a sclerotic socialist backwater into a prosperous first world economy. All of Israel’s citizens have benefited from the change. Consider, for instance, that when Netanyahu replaced Olmert in office in 2009, Israel’s per capita GDP stood at $27,000. By 2016, it had risen to $37,000.

Rather than seeking to transform Israel’s diplomatic weakness through a grand gesture of appeasement to the PLO, as so many of his predecessors tried to do, Netanyahu opted, instead to leverage the economic prosperity he engendered. He turned Israel’s economic strength into the foundation of a new, far more powerful diplomatic strategy. It served to return Israel to Africa after a forty year absence.

More importantly, Netanyahu used Israel’s comparative economic advantages to develop strong diplomatic and economic relations with China, India and other major markets and great powers for the first time in Israel’s history.

As for Russia, far from the spotlights, Netanyahu has skillfully and quietly cultivated a strong personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin based on mutual respect. Military and intelligence officers credit the understandings Netanyahu has reached with Putin regarding the war in Syria as the reason Israel was able to avoid getting sucked into the conflict on its northern border while still protecting its strategic interests.

As for Israeli-US ties, for eight years, Netanyahu deftly ducked and parried and waited out Barack Obama’s presidency. He kept Israel strong and safe and able to defend itself despite Obama’s support for its enemies and hostility toward the Jewish state.

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No other Israeli leader could have withstood the Obama administration’s pressure to make strategically cataclysmic concessions to the Palestinians. So too, no Israel leader would have been capable of leading the opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran as Netanyahu did.

Had Netanyahu remained silent as Obama gave the keys to the nuclear club to the ayatollahs, Obama and his echo chamber would have successfully demonized opposition to the deal.

It was Netanyahu with his unswerving, reasoned opposition to the centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy that empowered Republicans and even some Democrats to maintain their public opposition to the deal. Their opposition, in turn, paved the way for President Donald Trump’s decision last October to refuse to certify Iranian compliance with its terms.

As for Trump, Netanyahu has deftly cultivated his relations with the new president. Trump’s respect for Netanyahu’s statesmanship empowers the president to break with the failed Middle East policies of his predecessors and base his policies on support for America’s allies and opposition to its enemies.

So yes, it is true that Netanyahu’s long tenure in office has been largely undramatic. But his record of accomplishments makes clear that drama is not what we should be seeking.

Under his quiet, workaday leadership, Netanyahu has transformed Israel into an economic and military power. He has cultivated good relations with Israel’s regional neighbors and with the nations of the world.

He has developed constructive and mutually beneficial ties with all the major world powers while preserving and enhancing Israel’s strategic alliance with the US. All of these accomplishments render Netanyahu one of Israel’s most successful leaders. Indeed, they place him second only to Ben Gurion as the most significant leader Israel has ever had.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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In a Foolish Decision, Likud Gave BDS a Valuable Gift

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 02:00

Minister Gilad Erdan called on Likud Central Committee members to attend a special meeting Sunday evening to vote “in favor of free construction in all of Judea and Samaria and in favor of applying Israeli law to Judea and Samaria so that Jewish residents living there will finally be able to enjoy the Israeli law.”

I listened to his words and couldn’t believe my ears. Is this Erdan speaking?

Erdan is the minister of strategic affairs. He is in charge of the battle on anti-Israel propaganda. He knows that one of the main arguments made by that propaganda is that Israel imposes an apartheid regime, which applies two separate sets of rules on different populations.

In practice, Israeli law already applies to the settlements and to the settlers. There is a difference, however, between a law that is applied in accordance with the military governor’s orders, temporarily, and Knesset legislation. When is a demand to apply Israeli law attached by senior Likud members to a demand for “free construction in all of Judea and Samaria,” who needs BDS?

Oddly enough, there is only one person—or almost only one person—who is standing up against this march of folly, and he is likely having trouble understanding the new rebels too. His name is Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s not that the prime minister has become a leftist, but he knows exactly what all the Israel-friendly countries are thinking. He also knows that the American administration sees the settlements as serious trouble in need of a stop sign.

Right-wing speakers in general, and Likud speakers in particular present the current US administration as an ardent supporter of any Israeli whim. President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement has increased their appetite. But when it comes to the settlements, it’s a major deception.

Trump himself has made clear that going forward with the settlement enterprise harms the peace process, and an official administration statement said that “the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful.” That was diplomatic language. In practice, the current administration opposes an expansion of settlements just like previous administrations.

The thing is we don’t need the American administration or a peace process which we have lost track of, to know what’s good for Israel. International experience makes it clear that mixing hostile populations is a sure recipe for a bloody conflict. The Right is leading us into that exact disaster. The result will be one big state, which is neither Jewish nor democratic, but a bleeding state of conflict. It will be that way even if the Palestinians are given full rights, as the radical left wants and as some right-wing people want, and it will be that way even if the Palestinians have no rights, as others on the Right want.

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The 900 Likud Central Committee members signed the demand for the special meeting so they could vote in favor of applying Israeli law and unlimited construction. Senior Likud members believe there is no escape from a further radicalization to the Right because that’s the direction—if not the direction of Likud voters, then definitely the direction of members of the Likud institutions. There is a need for decisions that contradict the prime minister’s stance, and mainly contradict the national interest, to satisfy the raging appetite of some Likud Central Committee members for more nationalistic decisions, even if they’re anti-national.

There are moments which call for leadership. Gilad Erdan, precisely because of his position, precisely because he is in charge of fighting anti-Israel propaganda, could have been the one to say something about the real national interest. There’s no need to adopt the Left’s views, but there was a need for a clear statement against the new initiative.

Only several days ago, Erdan received an addition of tens of millions of shekels for fighting the anti-Israel boycott movement. In a foolish decision, Likud decided to give BDS a much more valuable gift.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News

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Report: Religious Jews’ Ascent to Temple Mount Up 75%

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 01:30

The number of visits by religious Jews to the Temple Mount has increased by 75% in 2017, compared to 2016, according to the Yera’eh organization, which encourages Jewish ascent to the Temple Mount.

In the past year there have been 25,628 religious Jews’ visits to the Temple Mount, compared with 14,626 last year, 11,001 visits in 2015, 11,754 in 2014, and only 5,658 visits by religious Jews in 2009.

Religious Jews are counted separately from the other visitors, and are not allowed to enter the Temple Mount compound without police escort.

Assaf Fried, spokesman for the Temple Organizations Headquarters, who promote Jewish ascent to the Temple Mount, attributes the increase in visits to the fact that, other than one attack on the Temple Mount in July, 2017, in which two Border Police officers were killed by Israeli Arabs, security in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount is perceived by the Israeli public as being relatively calm.

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“Three years ago when you came to the mountain, you knew you were coming to a battlefield,” Fried said. “You’d know they’d yell you. Today a Jew who goes up to the mountain feels that he is welcome,” Fried said.

Here are the stats issued by Year’eh at the conclusion of the civil year 2017:

Religious Jews were allowed to be on the Temple Mount for 11% of the year, or 1,023 hours out of 8,760.

Religious Jews were allowed to go to the Temple Mount on 63% of the days of 2017, or 232 days out of 365.

86 Jews were arrested or detained on the Temple Mount on suspicion of “Jewish behavior” in 2017. This behavior ranged from saying a blessing on an apple, through closing one’s eyes and whispering, to crying, “Sh’ma Israel,” to bowing and prostrating.

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