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Heal O’ Israel, Head Injuries from Playing Contact Sports Could Harm Teenagers

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 09:17

My 16-year-old son plays football at school. He gets a lot of bumps on the head. It worries me that this kind of playing may cause harm to his brain. Am I being overly protective and nervous, or is there danger? C.R., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich replies:

In fact, playing such contact sports as teenagers can pose harm, according to a new study at the University of California at Berkeley, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Playing high school football changes the teenage brain, said the researchers, who found in an MRI (magnetic resonance instrument) study that repeated blows to the head – even during a single season of football or soccer – can cause microscopic changes in the brains of young players.

The researchers used a new type of MRI scanner to take brain scans of 16 high school players aged 15 to 17, before and after a season of football. They found significant changes in the structure of the grey matter in the front and rear of the brain, where impacts are most likely to occur, as well as changes to structures deep inside the brain. All participants wore helmets, and none received head impacts severe enough to constitute a concussion.

The study, which is the cover story of the November issue of the journal Neurobiology of Disease, is one of the first to look at how impact sports affect the brains of children at this critical age, the researchers said.

“It is becoming pretty clear that repetitive impacts to the head, even over a short period of time, can cause changes in the brain,” noted study senior author electrical engineering and computer sciences Prof. Chunlei Liu of Berkeley. “This is the period when the brain is still developing, when it is not mature yet, so there are many critical biological processes going on, and it is unknown how these changes that we observe can affect how the brain matures and develops.”

One bang to the head may be nothing to sweat over, they continued. But mounting evidence shows that repeated blows to the cranium – such as those racked up while playing sports like hockey or football or through blast injuries in military combat – may lead to long-term cognitive decline and increased risk of neurological disorders, even when the blows do not cause concussion.

Over the past decade, researchers have found that an alarming number of retired soldiers and college and professional football players show signs of a newly identified neurodegenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in which there is a buildup of pathogenic tau protein in the brain. Though still not well understood, CTE is believed to cause mood disorders, cognitive decline and eventually motor impairment as a patient gets older. Definitive diagnosis of CTE, however, can be made only by examining the brain for tau protein during an autopsy.

These findings have raised concern over whether repeated hits to the head can cause brain damage in youth or high school players and whether it is possible to detect these changes at an early age, the researchers added.

“There is a lot of emerging evidence that just playing impact sports actually changes the brain, and you can see these changes at the molecular level in the accumulations of different pathogenic proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and dementia,” Liu said. “We wanted to know when this actually happens – how early this occurs,”

The brain is built of white matter, long neural wires that pass messages back and forth between different brain regions, and grey matter, tight nets of neurons that give the brain its characteristic wrinkles. Recent MRI studies have shown that playing a season or two of high school football can weaken white matter, which is mostly found nestled in the interior of the brain. Liu and his team wanted to know if repetitive blows to the head could also affect the brain’s gray matter.

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“Grey matter in the cortex area is located on the outside of the brain, so we would expect this area to be more directly connected to the impact itself,” Liu said.

The researchers used a new type of MRI called diffusion kurtosis imaging to examine the intricate neural tangles that make up gray matter. They found that the organization of the gray matter in players’ brains changed after a season of football, and these changes correlated with the number and position of head impacts measured by accelerometers mounted inside players’ helmets.

The changes were concentrated in the front and rear of the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for higher-order functions like memory, attention and cognition, and in the centrally located thalamus and putamen, which relay sensory information and coordinate movement.

“Although our study did not look into the consequences of the observed changes, there is emerging evidence suggesting that such changes would be harmful over the long term,” Liu said. Tests revealed that students’ cognitive function did not change over the course of the season, and it is yet unclear whether these changes in the brain are permanent, the researchers say.

“The brain microstructure of younger players is still rapidly developing, and that may counteract the alterations caused by repetitive head impacts,” said first author Nan-Ji Gong, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley. However, the researchers still urge caution – and frequent cognitive and brain monitoring – for youth and high schooler pupils engaged in impact sports.

“I think it would be reasonable to debate at what age it would be most critical for the brain to endure these sorts of consequences, especially given the popularity of youth football and other sports that cause impact to the brain,” Liu concluded.


I am a 71-year-old man. I have been a geologist for 50 years and spent every year outdoors in Canada’s Arctic looking for diamonds, uranium and gold. I don’t smoke; I am overweight. I weigh 185 pounds. I exercise, walking in the winter and biking in the summer for abut 40 minutes a day. I drink wine only very moderately, but I have had pre-diabetes for many years.

I was just told this month by my doctor that this has developed into fully fledged type-2. I have been to a dietitian, but it didn’t help. My doctor has given metformin for many years to prevent pre-diabetes from turning into diabetes, and I have also been on Januva for a few months.

My wife says that one is born with a set number of heartbeats, so why use them up exercising? But I would still like to know what other diabetes drugs could help me. P.P., Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Israel Diabetes Council chairman Prof. Itamar Raz replies:

The best kind of drug for this condition is sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT-2 inhibitor, which is also called gliflozin. This is a new class of diabetic medications for the treatment of type 2 diabetes that have also been found to benefit the heart and functioning by reducing the absorption of glucose via the kidneys.

The medication, commercially known as Forxiga, works by initiating glycosuria – excretion of glucose into the urine. Normally, urine contains no glucose because the kidneys are able to reabsorb all of the filtered glucose from the tubular fluid back into the bloodstream. Glycosuria is nearly always caused by high blood glucose levels, most commonly due to untreated diabetes. SGLT-2 inhibitors reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus by inhibiting the glucose reabsorption pathway which results in glucosuria.

The effect of the drug will begin in several days. But you must continue to exercise regularly, eat a proper diet and go to your personal physician or diabetologist for consultation and prescription of the drug if it is suitable for you.

If you want an Israeli expert to answer your medical questions, write to Breaking Israel News health and science senior reporter Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at with your initials, age, gender and place of residence and details of the medical condition, if any.

Netanyahu Claims Human Cost Prevented Harsher Response to Gaza Attack

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 07:52

In an open dialogue with new recruits, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained his controversial decision to show restraint in the military response to the rocket attack from Gaza two weeks ago.

On Monday morning, the prime minister arrived at IDF induction center at Tel Hashomer to greet incoming Armored Corps recruits.

“We know that the supreme goal of the military is, first of all, to defend our state and if it is forced on us, to be victorious in war. You are joining generations of fighters who wrought miracles and wonders,” the prime minister told the recruits. “The entire world admires the IDF and does so, not just because of the technology and tools, but because of the personnel.”

“In the end, you are victorious not only by being defensive; you are victorious by being on the attack,” Netanyahu said.

“As Prime Minister what concerns me is the fact that I know there are no free wars and no free battles,” Netanyahu said in a thinly veiled reference to recent events. “There is always a cost and the cost is very dear and I always think about the cost. When war is inevitable, we will use all force and strength and do so in the best way possible.”

Netanyahu’s remarks seemed to be referring to the recent conflict with Gaza. Two weeks ago, a Kornet Hamas forces fired a Kornet anti-tank rocket at a bus on the Gaza border, seriously wounding one IDF soldier.

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That began a two-day barrage of almost 500 rockets fired at Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza. One Israeli was killed and at least 19 injured.

The IDF retaliated with airstrikes that struck at least 160 military targets in Gaza. Many of the residents of the beleaguered communities bordering Gaza felt the response was inadequate and the took to the streets in protest, demanding the government provide a more permanent solution to the ongoing attacks.

The Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman agreed, leading him to resign, saying that a ceasefire was “capitulation to terror.” Minister of Education Naftali Bennett sought an appointment to the position vacated by Liberman, leading to a crisis that threatened Netanyahu’s slender coalition.

Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi detailed the human cost Netanyahu was referring to in an interview with IDF radio two days after the attack.

“At the end of [a Gaza] operation, with hundreds of funerals of young Israeli soldiers, we’d be back in the same place where we are now,” Hanegbi said.

Hanegbi was challenged by the interviewer who pointed to a rocket that struck a kindergarten that was, fortunately, empty at the time of the attack.

“The empty kindergarten — that’s always talked about. But those 500 coffins — of the Israeli youths that would come back if we sent them into [Gaza]…would not be empty,” Hanegbi responded.

International Investigation Documents Serious Complications from Breast Implants

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 07:40

Women who undergo a mastectomy due to breast cancer and those more fortunate who merely want to augments their bust have for years been undergoing surgery for the insertion of breast implants filled with silicone or saline (salt water).

While there have been numerous complaints about leaking as well as some immune reactions and other problems, patients have continued to want them and plastic surgeons to implant them.

But now, a global investigation just published by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper has revealed serious safety concerns caused by breast implants, plus a lack of clinical supervision of the women and failure to track long-term outcomes.

Some of the implants are pre-filled, while others are filled during the surgery. Silicone gel-filled implants are silicone shells filled with a plastic gel. Although many women say that the gel-filled implants feel more like real breasts than saline, they pose more of a risk if they leak.

The disclosures come from an analysis of official health records obtained through freedom of information requests and interviews in several countries by members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. In the United Kingdom alone, there were 1,459 official reports of incidents related to breast implants in the last three years.

The investigation established links between popular textured implants and a rare type of cancer; the use of non-clinical-grade materials by leading manufacturers, according to evidence found by Dutch investigators; reports of ruptured implants, pain, disfigurement, allergic reactions and other symptoms; and huge numbers of women missing from clinical trials designed to monitor safety. The reports came from patients and healthcare workers. In three-quarters of cases, women needed another operation.

A recent large-scale study in the US confirmed links between breast implants and a range of rare illnesses, including several linked to the immune system. While the majority of those who took part said they were satisfied with their implants, researchers found women had higher incidences of two serious autoimmune diseases – Sjögren’s syndrome and scleroderma – than the general population.

Sjögren’s syndrome causes symptoms including a dry mouth and eyes, and swelling of the jaw, while scleroderma results in the immune system attacking the connective tissue under the skin and around internal organs. There were also higher incidences of rheumatoid arthritis, stillbirth and melanoma.

In the past, The Guardian reported, large-scale clinical studies of breast implants showed low rates of serious complications. However, there is now growing evidence that a significant number of women also experience problems and that in many case, the long-term outcomes are not tracked.

A third of reports involved “material separation” – meaning that the shell and the inside of the implant came apart or ruptured in some way. A quarter of the reports involved a leak. In 11 cases the implant was recorded as having “migrated”, and in six it had burst. 

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The investigation also revealed ongoing inadequacies in oversight, nearly a decade after the scandal by the French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) fraudulently sold hundreds of thousands of implants containing industrial-grade silicone.

Australia has set up a national breast devices database, but even there, experts said they struggle to get information quickly enough, The Guardian reported.

Dr. Nigel Mercer, a plastic surgeon who advises Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency on breast implants, said the registry was vital for revealing problems but needed to be compulsory. “Without the registry we have no idea how big a problem is. It does make sense from a public health point of view for it to be mandatory.”

In several countries, including the US and Canada, evidence was found of manufacturers combining hundreds of patient complaints into single “adverse incident” reports filed to regulators, covering up the true frequency of complications.

Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration ordered companies to file adverse events individually, rather than allowing them to report huge numbers of cases in one go. This led to a dramatic rise in the number of reports linked to breast implants – from 353 in 2016 to 4,651 in 2017, and 8,352 in the first six months of 2018.

The report concluded: “This study demonstrates silicone implants are associated with an increased risk of certain systemic harms.”

Associate Prof. Mark Clemens, a specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas and one of the report’s authors, said: “We did see a statistical association with rare diseases. There were diseases that women with implants had at a higher rate than the general population’s and we need to study that further. He stressed that proving a link was not the same as proving that the implants caused the complications, and that more work is needed to study patients who had experienced problems.

The Israel Society for Plastic and Esthetic Surgery commented immediately on the report. Its chairman, Dr. Meir Cohen, said: “We are updated with all new information and are always concerned about women’s health and rights. These are rare and known side effects that we reported to the Health Ministry three months ago in a position paper. We must remember that esthetic treatment has complications and risks, and therefore every woman must remember that plastic surgery or aesthetic treatment of any kind is done only by a plastic surgery specialist.”

Cohen said the society recommends that women who have undergone breast augmentation or breast reconstruction who have no complaints should contact their surgeon 10 years later for a checkup. He added that the society was happy that no direct causal link was proven between undergoing an implant and the complications.

“We call upon the Health Ministry to adopt our recommendations for a uniform certificate of implantation when approval is given for the importation of implants into Israel and at the same time to establish a national database to document complications in the field of esthetic medicine.”  The Israeli Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery represents 300 specialists in plastic surgery and to promote and develop the profession in treatment, teaching and research.


Tue, 11/27/2018 - 06:22

The last verse in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) calls upon the Jewish people to ascend to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). After decades of Babylonian rule, Cyrus grants permission for the exiled Jews to return to their land and rebuild the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah), that after seventy years Hashem (God) would return the Jewish people home (Jeremiah 29:10). Just as He fulfilled His word to return the People of Israel to the Land of Israel after the first exile, today as well God has begun to fulfill His promise to gather the exiles from the four corners of the earth and to bring the ultimate redemption (Deuteronomy 30:3-5). Since the establishment of the State of Israel, millions of Jews have returned home from over one hundred different countries. How fortunate are we to witness the beginning stages of the tre­mendous miracle of the ingathering of the exiles. May we soon merit the final fulfillment of the complete redemption of Israel and the entire world. The Israel365 Daily Inspirations devotional includes this and hundreds more inspirations to keep you uplifted throughout the year.

Israel and the US: Terrorism As the Tie That Binds

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 05:46

As scenes of tear gas being used against angry foreigners hurling rocks and storming the fence on the U.S.’s southern border appear in the media, they are a stark reminder of similar images depicting the conflict on Israel’s southern border. A closer look reveals that seemingly unconnected events in Israel were precursors, opening up the door for similar horrors to befall the rest of the world.

As per God’s promise to Abraham, world events can be predicted without the aid of prophecy simply by inspecting how the nations treat his descendants.

I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.” Genesis 12:3

Divine intervention into the realm of international politics seemed to appear at landmarks in the political efforts to force Israel to relinquish land in what was euphemistically referred to as “the peace process.” Steps toward forcing Israel to compromise the Biblical borders of its land were frequently accompanied by natural disasters.

These coincidences linking politics with natural disasters began in 1992 when President George Bush, Sr. opened the Madrid Conference with an expectation that Israel would trade “Land for Peace.” While the politicians plotted against Israel, the “Perfect Storm” hit the Eastern United States. The president returned home to Kennebunkport, Maine to his nearly destroyed home.

Hurricanes, scandals, and financial crises accompanied every step forward, most notably when less than two weeks after the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, Hurricane Katrina struck.

Though it may seem that the U.S. and Europe have vastly different security concerns than Israel, a closer look reveals a synchronicity that indicates the possibility of a spiritual cause and effect relationship; as if a door was opened in the Holy Land. If the world allowed Israel to suffer, giving tacit approval, that particular type of evil was then allowed to spread out to the rest of the world.

Border Threats

On March 30, the Palestinians began a weekly series of protests along the border fence separating Israel from Gaza. Tens of thousands of civilians showed up, claiming their desire to cross the border into Israel and retake allegedly confiscated property. Hamas began to direct the events and the protests turned violent. Initially planned to last six weeks, almost eight months later the riots are still continuing.

Gazans regularly throw stones, use slings and other devices to amplify the effect. Gazans routinely cut the fence and attempt to force entry into Israel. Firebombs and hand grenades have been thrown at troops and improvised explosive devices have been set on the fence. One soldier was killed by sniper fire from the Gaza side of the fence and another wounded. Thousands of tires have been burned in an attempt to obscure the IDF’s field of vision.

IDF troops charged with protecting the border have resorted to live-fire. Palestinian sources claimed 168 dead and more than 15,000 injured. Hamas and Islamic Jihad identified many of those killed as members of their military wings.

Israel faced international criticism for the use of force in protecting its borders from hordes of people. In June, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Israel for using “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate” force against a “peaceful assembly.”

The U.S. is facing an almost identical crisis. In mid-October, a group of Hondurans set out with the intent of illegally crossing into the U.S. Though estimates vary, Kirstjen Nielsen, the current Secretary of Homeland Security, said in a recent statement to the press that there were two groups comprising 8-10,000 people, mostly single adult men including at least 500 known gang members and criminals. Nielsen reported that members of the caravan have been involved with violent encounters with authorities along the way, using incendiary devices.

On Sunday, images depicting the border separating San Diego from Mexico became almost identical to those depicting Israel’s southern border as hundreds of migrants rushed the security fence en masse, some throwing stones at U.S. border agents. The agents resorted to using tear gas to prevent the migrants from crossing the border. Just as Israel was forced to close the Erez Crossing as a result of Gazan violence, the U.S. closed the border for several hours.

Incendiary Kites/California Wildfires

On March 30, Hamas began to hold its weekly March of Return riots along Israel’s southern border. In addition to civilians challenging the security fence, Hamas organized terrorist cells charged with sending aerial incendiary devices into Israel. Using thousands of kites and balloons, these cells destroyed more than 6,200 acres of nature preserves and farmland in Israel, causing millions of shekels in damage. In addition to the aerial incendiary attacks, Gazans burned thousands of tires in an attempt to obscure the field of vision of the IDF soldiers protecting the border. The thick toxic smoke created an environmental hazard to Gazans and Israelis alike.

In an attempt to assuage international criticism of the IDF attempts to cope with the arson terrorism, Israel entered into Egypt-mediated ceasefire talks with Hamas. In the first week of November, when the draft of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire was published, California’s deadliest wildfire on record broke out, killing at least 76 people.

The two events seem dissimilar as Israel’s fires were ignited intentionally as politically motivated terrorism. California’s fires were the result of unintentional arson. But the two events may have much in common. In 2012, Al Qaeda’s English language magazine Inspire issued a threat, urging supporters to light fires in America’s forests. The magazine went on to give detailed instructions on how to ignite an “ember bomb,” recommending Montana because of the rapid population growth in wooded areas.

“In America, there are more houses built in the [countryside] than in the cities,” the article stated.

A few months later, Russia’s security chief, Aleksandr Bortnikov stated that this threat of arson terrorism had already been actualized and that Al-Qaeda was complicit in recent forest fires in Europe.

The threat of this new type of terrorism is quite real in Israel, Europe, and the U.S. An article published last year in UCLA’s online magazine by Holly Buck, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, confirmed this danger.

“In theory, multiple fires could be planned and executed to create a disaster equal to a multi-megaton nuclear weapon — delivering similar results with much less effort and risk,” she wrote.

She cited a 2005 doctoral thesis written by a U.S. Marine Corps major which suggested such an attack could be initiated by incendiary balloons with the most devastating effects being produced in California.

Though the recent California wildfire is known to have been artificially created, whether the cause was intentional or inadvertent is still unknown.

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Ramming attacks

The first official ramming attack in Israel took place in 2001, when a Palestinian affiliated with Hamas drove a bus into a crowd of pedestrians, killing eight people and wounding 26. Six months later, an Islamist rammed a car into a synagogue in Lyon, France. Israel has suffered countless attacks of this type since that first attack, including at least nine that resulted in fatalities.

Significantly, this tactic began to be used in other parts of the world. In 2006, an Iranian-American drove an SUV into pedestrians on the campus of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill to “avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide” and to “punish” the United States government. While no one was killed in the vehicle-ramming attack, nine people were injured.

There have been at least three more ramming attacks since 2006 in the U.S. including one in New York City, and ten more in Europe. In 2016, a Tunisian Islamist drove a truck through the promenade in Nice, France, killing 86 people.

Bus Bombs/9-11

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda were perpetrated against the United States. Four passenger airliners were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. Armed with box-cutters, the terrorists took over the cockpits and flew two of the planes into the two towers of the World Trade Center and a third plane into the Pentagon. 9/11 in the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history, with 2,996 people killed and more than 6,000 injured.

Though horrifying on an unprecedented scale, there were events that set the stage, paving the way for 9/11. Though it was not the first time airliners had been hijacked, 9/11 was the first time terrorists had hijacked an airliner with the primary intent of killing the passengers in a manner that would mean their inevitable deaths as well, in what is referred to as a “suicide attack.”

Suicide attacks have historically been used in war but the first terrorist attack against civilians officially classified as a suicide attack took place in Israel. On 6 July 1989, Abd al-Hadi Ghanim of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza grabbed the steering wheel of the #405 Tel Aviv-Jerusalem bus, running the bus into a steep ravine. Sixteen civilians died in the attack — including two Canadians and one American, and 27 were wounded.

Though officially classified as a suicide attack, Ghanim did not die. After being treated in an Israeli hospital, Ghanim was convicted and given 16 life sentences for murder, hijacking and terrorism. On 18 October 2011, Ghanim was released to Gaza as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, giving a tacit pass to the horror he had committed.

For the twelve years leading up to the 9/11 attacks, there were an average of 3 attacks per year killing approximately 18 people per year. In the ten months leading up to the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. there were 30 suicide attacks in Israel killing 55 people, marking a four year period in which Israel was struck by 127 suicide attacks.

Rabbi Ken Spiro, a historian and Senior Lecturer and Researcher for Aish HaTorah Yeshiva, noted that there are parallels connecting events that happen to the Jews and Israel and what happens to other countries but emphasizes that it is impossible to draw conclusions.

“There is certainly something here, some connection. Obviously God is involved in these events because nothing happens without Him. But it is impossible to ascribe specific meanings to these things since there are no prophets today.Nothing happens by accident but it would be incorrect to label the events in the U.S. as divine retribution. America is hardly the country that is the most guilty of Israel bashing, especially now that U.S.-Israel relations are so good. This is puzzling and requires a lot of thought since there are many levels of understanding: geopolitical as well as religious. God is acting behind the scenes but with a much bigger perspective.”

“This raises the question of why we don’t see these events happening more in European countries that are the real hypocrites. If an Islamist rams his car into Jews in Israel, he is labelled a militant in the British press but if he does it in London, the same media calls him a terrorist. There’s no metaphysics there that one event is related to the other.”

Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific end-of days author and prominent scholar, noted that a simple inspection of the timeline of these events indicates some type of connection.

“When anti-Semitism happens to the Jewish people, it doesn’t stop there. It goes out into the world,” Rabbi Winston told Breaking Israel News, noting a glaring example from modern history. “That was clearly the case in the Second World War, which started with the Jews.”

“How many other nations can you say this is about,  that if you go against them, or allow evil to happen to them that it will come back and hit you in the face?” the rabbi asked. “On the level of social morality, it tells us that if you don’t stop evil when it comes after the Jews, it will go after you in the end.”

“Unfortunately, no one ever listens,” Rabbi Winston said. “This is partially due to apathy but the main issue that there is so much cognitive dissonance in the world.”

Cognitive dissonance is a theory in psychology describing the mental discomfort experienced by a person who simultaneously holds contradictory beliefs. The discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a person’s belief clashes with new evidence.

“People don’t internalize what they are witnessing so it continues to happen over and over again. For believers in God, these events are chizuk (reinforcement) for what they already know. If someone doesn’t believe in the hand of God guiding history, they would have no explanation for why these ‘coincidences’ keep coming up.”

“In Biblical times, it was a universally accepted belief that God influenced events. The only difference between then and now was in those days we had prophets telling us about it. We don’t have prophets today to interpret these events. I am just a person who is looking at these events and asking questions, trying to connect the dots. And this is the answer I am getting.”

“One of the main reasons people would refuse to look at the events in this way is that the implication of divine influence in history is that they would have to acknowledge God and live their lives accordingly. Many people don’t want to be spiritual and this influences how they view events.”

Czech President Says Two-State Solution Not Possible

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 05:08

Czech President Miloš Zeman, who arrived in Israel Sunday for a three-day state visit, expressed his doubts that the creation of a Palestinian state would be helpful in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I was inspired by your idea about one state with two nations. And I know this idea is provocative. Any big and great idea is provocative,” Zeman told President Reuven Rivlin during an official meeting in Jerusalem.

“I wonder what will be your arguments for this idea because for many, many decades, there is a discussion about two independent states,” he said. “But frankly, I do not see an independent state in Gaza because I understand Hamas as a terror organization and not as a state.”

As part of his trip, Zeman will inaugurate the “Czech House” in Jerusalem on Tuesday, which is generally accepted to be a first step before inaugurating an official Czech embassy in Jerusalem.

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“In the current situation, our friendship is more important than ever,” Rivlin told Zeman. “‏We welcome your support for the eventual move ‏of the embassy of the Czech Republic ‏to Jerusalem. ‏Jerusalem is the city of peace. ‏May peace begin in Jerusalem, and may it spread from Jerusalem to all the world.”

In April, Zeman announced that the Czech Republic would begin the process of moving the Czech mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Zeman was scheduled to address Israel’s Knesset on Monday—reports indicate that the first word of his speech will be “Shalom”—and lay a wreath at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. He will also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum and have lunch with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.

The Czech embassy has been located in Tel Aviv since 1949. Israel and the Czech Republic have enjoyed diplomatic relations except during the years of the Communist regime in Prague between 1967 and 1990.

#Giving Tuesday, 24 Bible Verses About Giving

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 04:40

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Giving Tuesday marks the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It was devised as a way of helping to focus people’s minds on not only receiving – gifts etc. – during the Christmas and holiday season, but to also give something back. Everybody knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, days given over to rampant consumerism. #Giving Tuesday is the ideal counterweight to that.

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, and let there be food in My House, and thus put Me to the test—said God of Hosts. I will surely open the floodgates of the sky for you and pour down blessings on you.” ~Malachi 3:10

“If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that Hashem your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman.” ~Deuteronomy 15:7

“Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs.” ~Deuteronomy 15:9

“Hashem will open for you His bounteous store, the heavens, to provide rain for your land in season and to bless all your undertakings. You will be creditor to many nations, but debtor to none.” ~Deuteronomy 28:12

“Honor Hashem with your wealth, With the best of all your income.” ~Proverbs 3:9

“A man’s gift eases his way And gives him access to the great.” ~Proverbs 18:16

“A generous person enjoys prosperity; He who satisfies others shall himself be sated.” ~Proverbs 11:25

“Who am I and who are my people, that we should have the means to make such a freewill offering; but all is from You, and it is Your gift that we have given to You.” ~1 Chronicles 29:14

“Do not withhold good from one who deserves it When you have the power to do it [for him].” ~Proverbs 3:27

“Seek the favor of Hashem, and He will grant you the desires of your heart.” ~Psalms 37:4

“All day long he is seized with craving While the righteous man gives without stint.” ~Proverbs 21:26

“Speak up, judge righteously, Hampion the poor and the needy.” ~Proverbs 31:9

“The wicked man borrows and does not repay; the righteous is generous and keeps giving.” ~Psalms 37:21

“He further said to them, ‘Go, eat choice foods and drink sweet drinks and send portions to whoever has nothing prepared, for the day is holy to our Lord. Do not be sad, for your rejoicing in Hashem is the source of your strength.’” ~Nehemiah 8:10

“Give to him readily and have no regrets when you do so, for in return Hashem your God will bless you in all your efforts and in all your undertakings.” ~Deuteronomy 15:10

“But each with his own gift, according to the blessing that Hashem your God has bestowed upon you.” ~Deuteronomy 16:17

“The people rejoiced over the freewill offerings they made, for with a whole heart they made freewill offerings to Hashem.” ~1 Chronicles 29:9

“The generous man is blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.” ~Proverbs 22:9

“He who gives to the poor will not be in want.” ~Proverbs 28:27

“You shall serve Hashem your God, and He will bless your bread and your water.” ~Exodus 23:5

“He said, ‘If you will heed Hashem your God diligently, doing what is upright in His sight, giving ear to His commandments and keeping all His laws, then I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians, for I Hashem am your healer.’” ~Exodus 15:26

“I will bless those who bless you.” ~Genesis 12:3

“Blessed are they who bless you.” ~Numbers 24:9

“In sincerity, justice, and righteousness— Nations shall bless themselves by you And praise themselves by you.” ~Jeremiah 4:2


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Brazilian Delegation Lands in Israel

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 04:18

A delegation of high level officials and civilians from Brazil landed in Israel. They sang and danced at Ben Gurion airport to mark their arrival. New Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, is weighing up moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

Miracle at Golan Heights: True Story

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 03:35

The 1973 Yom Kippur War witnessed some of the heaviest fighting in Israel’s history. On the Golan Heights, a mysterious wind suddenly appeared to help IDF soldiers get through a field covered with land mines.

Maj. Gen. Kochavi Confirmed as New Chief of Staff

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 03:20

Israel’s Security Cabinet officially confirmed that Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi will be the country’s 22nd Chief of Staff. Kochavi started out in the paratroop regiment and was once head of the Northern Command. He replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot in the role.

Berlin Jews Call for a More Inclusive Religious and National Reality in Germany

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 02:32

On April 17, 2018, an Arab-Israeli man wearing a kippah (skullcap worn by religious Jews) was attacked on a Berlin street, lashed with a belt as the attacker repeated the Arabic word for Jew, “Yahudi.” Although the young victim was not in fact Jewish, the event prompted discussion in the Jewish community regarding religious expression in Berlin.

Jews still report various forms of discrimination based on their religious expression In the city where Hitler signed a decree that led to the systematic extermination of 6 million Jews.

Ármin Langer (Credit: Eliana Rudee/Breaking Israel News)

Berlin resident Ármin Langer, journalist and author of A Jew in Neukölln, writes of Jewish life in his district. Langer wears a kippah while studying and praying and claims that he has been asked “many times” by Berliners why he does not wear a kippah on a regular basis. “Many fetishize a kippah here,” he told Breaking Israel News. “It makes them happy to see [physical evidence] of Jewish life thriving in Berlin post Second World War.”

The number of Jews living in Berlin is a far cry compared to Berlin’s pre-Second World War population of 160,000 Jews (after the war, only 8,000 – just five percent – of Jews were left in Berlin). According to the latest population statistics of 2017 recorded by the Jewish Data Bank, there are about 116,500 Jews living in Germany.

While some believe that the Jewish population is increasing in Berlin, the epicenter of the Holocaust, the Jewish Data Bank records a different trend. “Despite wide reports of a huge increase,” noted the 2017 report, “the community-registered population in Berlin diminished from 10,009 at the beginning of 2007, to 9,865 in 2016 and 9,735 in 2017. There is, though, some evidence that Jews who are registered elsewhere might in reality be now living in Berlin.”

According to Langer, when one wears a kippah or identifies oneself as a Jew, “nobody treats you as a normal human being,” for better or worse. “There is both anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism, both of which treat Jews as a homogenous collective.”  

A large majority of the members of the Jewish community in Berlin are Russian speaking Jews who immigrated after the fall of the Soviet Union, cited, a Jewish heritage tour site in Berlin.

“As a Jew, it is quite obvious that I don’t belong here,” said Langer, who was born in Germany and grew up in Austria and Hungary. Langer posed that he often experiences anti-Semitic comments, whether he is wearing a kippah or not. “The other day at a party, someone found out I was Jewish and his first question was whether I come from a wealthy family.”

As a German, Langer also reported being asked if he likes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – the prime minister of Israel. “I am German – he’s not my prime minister,” said Langer, who posed that Germans have an “exclusive concept of national belonging and collective.”

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Langer expressed his hope that Germany will “learn from America,” a country that he believes has a more inclusive concept of nationality. “Stereotypes are deeply rooted in European culture.” Despite this fact, Langer expressed his belief in the power of education for a more inclusive reality.

Similarly to Langer’s experiences, Dalia Grinfeld, head of the Jewish student union in Germany, told Breaking Israel News that when wearing a magen david (Jewish star) necklace in Berlin, “people ask where I’m from with the mindset that you can’t be Jewish and German at the same time.”

Dalia Grinfeld (Credit: Eliana Rudee/Breaking Israel News)

Grinfeld spoke of hiding her necklace when walking in certain areas of Berlin, fearful of physical attacks. “The fact that Jews are scared to show that they are Jewish is a big problem. We need a different mindset in Germany of understanding that diversity is good,” claimed Grinfeld.

Indeed, according to an Ipsos study on the inclusiveness of nationalities that was conducted in 27 countries with more than 20,000 adults aged 18-64, “In Belgium, Chile, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Russia, and Spain, only Christians and atheists are seen by majorities as “real” nationals.”

The survey found that only 46 percent of Germans believe that a Jew can be a real German, with 29 percent saying they were “unsure” and 25 percent responding that Jews can be real Germans. Not only do the majority of Germans believe that Jews cannot be real Germans, but according to Langer, “in Berlin, people consider religious people to be pre-enlightened.”

Such beliefs may affect the way Jews and other religious minorities choose to dress as an expression of their religion. “This affects people of color and people who wear any religious symbol that is not a symbol of Germanness – affecting minorities such as Jews and Muslims – those who are visibly ‘other’” said Langer.

Dissatisfaction among Jews regarding their ability to fully express their religious identity in Berlin raises the question of how Berlin can create a space more inclusive for religious expression and collective.

As Langer expressed, the fact that Germany is home to the second most number of immigrants in the world, leading to diverse religious realities in Berlin, necessitates “a new reality of belonging.”

The New Israel Fund Encouraged the Airbnb Boycott of Israel

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 02:00

The extremist American Jewish non-profit organization, The New Israel Fund (NIF) is yet again part and parcel of boycott efforts against the State of Israel.  Along with its stated policy of endorsing a boycott against Israel, non-profit organizations financed by the NIF were integral to influencing Airbnb’s decision to remove listings for homes in “Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank.”

As a report by NGO Watch noted, “This change in policy was a clear result of a coordinated and well-financed campaign targeting the company by NGOs involved in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel, led by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), in concert with the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), at least three Israeli groups, and the Palestinian Authority. The funders responsible for this campaign include a number of European governments as well as the US-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund.”

Who are these Israeli non-profits?

Kerem Navot co-authored a November 2018 report with Human Rights Watch, entitled  “Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land:

Tourist Rental Listings in West Bank Settlements” which alleges that that Airbnb (and “facilitat[e] Israel’s unlawful transfer of its citizens to the settlements.” Kerem Navot is funded by NIF, and the organizations leaders come from NIF backed organizations.

Who Profits  posted a profile of Airbnb, listing its owners, investors, contact information, and details on “listings on Airbnb’s website …in … illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories.”

Airbnb was also featured in the NGO’s October 2017 report and accompanying political campaign, “Touring Israeli Settlements Business and Pleasure for the Economy of Occupation.”

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A media outlet financed by NIF, +972 published an article “Airbnb lets you vacation in illegal West Bank Settlements,” which claimed discrimination  alleging “thinly veiled discrimination along ethnic or national lines.”

Airbnb was wrong and its decision is racist and Anti-semitic.

Supporters of the New Israel Fund, including Oz Benamram of White & Case,  the Leichtag Foundation and the Jewish Communal Fund must stop providing funds to organizations that encourage boycotts of the Jewish State.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

Syria, Gaza, Afghanistan: The Endless Wars

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 01:00

In mid-November, Israel and Hamas fought a 24-hour conflict in which Hamas fired 460 rockets at Israel and the Israeli air forces responded with 160 air strikes. At the same time, the U.S.-led coalition and its Syrian Democratic Forces partners resumed the offensive against the Islamic State in Syria. The two operations, 500 miles from one another, appear distinct, but both are part of the new kind of conflict that is dominating this century. These are conflicts that tend to go through cycles, with no clear end in sight.

From Ukraine to Yemen to Afghanistan to Somalia, such conflicts are paramount. At a briefing on Nov. 14, U.S. Special Representative for Syrian Engagement James Jeffrey suggested the United States would remain in eastern Syria until all “Iranian-commanded forces” had departed. This could mean another open-ended engagement much like that in Afghanistan.

The wars that dominate the world today are hybrid conflicts, consisting often of a series of small wars. The “long war” is defined by the U.S. transition from post-Cold War era to global conflicts in the war on terror. This includes the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and across the Sahara in Africa, to the Philippines. A recent Stratfor article noted that the Taliban controls 47 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts and that ISIS is still capable of threatening Iraq. Since that article was published in August, the Taliban has increased its influence. Two sources on the ground in Syria, on the frontline with ISIS in Hajin, confirmed to me that the extremists are difficult to defeat and have been able to counterattack U.S.-backed forces over the past month.

How we got here is relatively well known. One hundred years ago, after the armistice in the First World War, the concept of war tended towards decisive victories that ended with treaties. During the Cold War, Western armies came to face insurgencies in places such as Malaya and Vietnam. When the Cold War ended, the United States entered a period of “small wars,” such as the U.S. intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo and humanitarian intervention operations in Somalia and Haiti. “Small wars are thus an extension of warfare by additional means, providing political leaders with a range of military options beyond just physical violence with which to further political objectives,” the Small Wars Journal says.

Oddly, the “long war” was supposed to have ended under the Obama administration. President Obama wanted to roll back or end U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today the United States is operating in at least 90 countries where 8,000 U.S. special operations forces are based. Gen. Raymond Thomas III, U.S. Special Operations Command chief, told the House Armed Services Committee in February that his forces “continue to grow in scale, importance and demand,” operating in 10 more (undisclosed) countries between 2017 and 2018. Operations are conducted in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, across the Sahel in Africa, and in areas called the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahara.

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The role of U.S. forces is only one part of an interlocking strategy that includes numerous U.S. allies such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, or governments from Afghanistan to Niger to Somalia. Israel, for example, has managed an endless conflict with the Palestinians that goes back decades. In Gaza, this conflict is fought against Hamas, which recently fired more rockets in one day than it ever fired before in a single 24-hour period. Israel is developing technologies that stop rockets and using sophisticated methods to warn civilians in Gaza of impending airstrikes. In one case, reported by The Telegraph’s Raf Sanchez, an Israeli soldier spent 45 minutes on the phone with a Palestinian civilian, warning him to leave his home.

For the American public these endless, irregular wars don’t appear to carry much of a human cost. Compared with a war such as Vietnam, there have been relatively few U.S. casualties in Syria or Afghanistan. That is because the United States has transitioned from leading operations to working “by, with, and through” local forces. This is the diametric opposite of the bloodletting of the First World War that ended 100 years ago this month. Battles such as Belleau Wood in World War I resulted in more U.S. casualties than the United States has suffered in fighting ISIS over the past four years.

That might make these endless wars easy for most civilians to ignore, but it doesn’t decrease their importance. This century may end up being one in which the United States and its allies are fighting one long endless war.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Hill

The Dire Consequences of Rewriting Western-Muslim History

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 00:00

How can a fundamentally weak Muslim world be a threat to an economically and militarily superior West?

One of the least explored answers to this conundrum revolves around an antithesis—namely, how the West portrays Islam today, compared to its actual historic experiences with Islam.

In fact, from Islam’s first contact with Western civilization and for over a millennium thereafter, Muslims behaved not unlike the Islamic State and on the same conviction: that Islam commands war on—and the enslavement or slaughter of—non-Muslims.

During this perennial jihad that began in the seventh century, almost three-quarters of Christendom’s original territory—including all of North Africa, Egypt, Greater Syria, and Anatolia—was permanently swallowed up by Islam.

European nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim occupation (sometimes for centuries) include: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Iceland, Denmark, England, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, and Sardinia.

Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries alone, approximately five million Europeans were abducted and enslaved in the name of jihad.  (Exactly how many were kidnapped during the great Arab slave raids on Europe between the poorly documented eighth and eleventh centuries is unknown.)

The largest Islamic army ever to invade European territory—some 200,000 martyrdom-seeking jihadis—came as late as 1683 to conquer Vienna, but failed.

Yet even as the Ottoman Empire was beginning its slow retreat from eastern Europe, the Muslim slavers of the so-called Barbary States of North Africa wreaked havoc all along the coasts of Europe—reaching even Iceland.  The United States of America’s first war—which it fought before it could even elect its first president—was against these Islamic slavers.  When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams asked Barbary’s ambassador why his countrymen were enslaving American sailors, the “ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that … it was their right and duty to make war upon them [non-Muslims] wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners….”

In short, for well over millennium—punctuated by a Crusader-rebuttal that the modern West is obsessed with—Islam posed an existential threat to Western civilization (as copiously documented in my new book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West).

After writing, “For almost a thousand years, from the first Moorish landing in Spain [711] to the second Turkish siege of Vienna [1683], Europe was under constant threat from Islam,” Bernard Lewis elaborates: “All but the easternmost provinces of the Islamic realm had been taken from Christian rulers…  North Africa, Egypt, Syria, even Persian-ruled Iraq, had been Christian countries, in which Christianity was older and more deeply rooted than in most of Europe.  Their loss was sorely felt and heightened the fear that a similar fate was in store for Europe,” as wave after wave of Islamic attacks crashed against the continent.

Yet no sooner did Europe neutralize Islam that it forgot all about its ancient antagonist. As historian Hilaire Belloc (b. 1870) observed during the peak of Western might and Muslim weakness:

Millions of modern people of the white civilization—that is, the civilization of Europe and America—have forgotten all about Islam. They have never come in contact with it. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past.

But worse than just “forgetting,” the West has rewritten history to fit its postmodern paradigms. Today, whether as taught in high school or college, whether as portrayed by Hollywood or the news media, the predominant historic narrative is that Muslims are the historic victims of intolerant Western Christians (as I was once informed during a televised interview).

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Even otherwise objective history books contribute to this distorted thinking.  They talk of “Arab,” “Moorish,” “Ottoman,” or “Tatar”—rarely Islamic—invasions, without mentioning that the selfsame rationale—jihad—impelled those otherwise diverse peoples to assault the West.

But all this is history, it might be argued.  Why rehash it? Why not let it be and move on, begin a new chapter of mutual tolerance and respect, even if history must be “touched up” a bit?

This would be a somewhat plausible position if not for the fact that, all around the globe, many Muslims are still exhibiting the same imperial impulse and intolerant supremacism of their forbears (reportedly 215 million Christians are currently experiencing “high levels of persecution,” mostly in the Muslim world; others are experiencing a genocide in the name of jihad).

None of this should be surprising: in classrooms all across the Islamic world, Muslim children are taught to glorify the jihadi conquests of yore—while despising infidels.  Thus, while the progressive West demonizes European/Christian history—when I was in elementary school, Christopher Columbus was a hero, when I reached college, he became a villain—Mehmet the Conqueror, a pedophile whose atrocities against eastern Europe make the Islamic State appear tame, is praised every year in “secular” Turkey on the anniversary of the savage sack Constantinople.

It is often said that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.  What does one say of those who rewrite history in a way that demonizes their ancestors while whitewashing the crimes of their persecutors?

The result is before us.  The history recounted in Sword and Scimitar is not repeating itself; sword waving Muslims are not forcing their way into Europe.  Rather, various Western European nations are opening their doors to and lying prostrate before Islamic aggression. In Germany and the United Kingdom, crime and rape have soared in direct proportion to the number of Muslim refugees accepted.  Sweden alone—where rape has increased by 1,472% since that country embraced “multiculturalism”—is reportedly on the verge of collapse.

In the future (whatever one there may be) the histories written about our times will likely stress how our era, ironically called the “information age,” was not an age when people were so well informed, but rather an age when disinformation was so widespread and unquestioned that generations of people lived in bubbles of alternate realities—till they were finally popped.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Raymond Ibrahim

Israel on Brink of Diplomatic Ties with Bahrain

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 14:10

Israel is currently in the late stages of forging diplomatic relations with the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain, media reports revealed Sunday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the process on Sunday in a surprise announcement he made during his historic meeting with the visiting president of Muslim-majority Chad, Idriss Déby.

“Very soon, we will be holding visits in other Muslim countries,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu and his ministers have visited a number of Persian Gulf states in recent weeks. Although he did not specify his next planned Arab destination, local media said Israel was already talking to Bahrain about establishing official ties, making it a likely port of call.

Meanwhile, Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen said Monday that he had been invited to attend a conference next year in Bahrain.

Cohen told Army Radio the invitation was to a conference in the first quarter of 2019 “in the realm of technology and high-tech, in which the State of Israel is certainly a leader.” He did not say whether he planned to attend.

Asked to elaborate, an Israeli official familiar with Cohen’s affairs said the event to which he had been invited was the Startup Nations Ministerial conference on April 15, a forum for public policymakers to discuss how to promote entrepreneurs.

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The official, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter, said the invitation originated with the Manama government and was relayed to Israel by Switzerland.

For some time now, Bahrain has taken a relatively friendly stance toward Israel. Last month, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, a member of the royal family and also of the island country’s Sunni minority, came out in support of Israel and strongly criticized Iran.

In May, the sheikh backed Israel’s right to self-defense and said that “as long as Iran has breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles, any state in the region, including Israel, is entitled to defend itself by destroying sources of danger.”

Bahrain shares Israel’s animosity toward Iran, and is an active member of the Sunni coalition against Iran in the Arab world. Its forces are currently fighting alongside the Saudis in the civil war in Yemen.

On Saturday, Bahrainis voted in a parliamentary election from which opposition groups were barred, amid a crackdown on dissent. Activists had called for a boycott of the vote, describing it as a “farce.” The government said the election is “democratic” and put voter turnout at 67%.

The Sunni ruling Al Khalifa family has kept a lid on dissent since the Shiite opposition staged a failed uprising in 2011. Saudi Arabia sent in troops to help crush that unrest in a mark of concern that any power-sharing concession by Bahrain could inspire Saudi Arabia’s own Shiite minority to rebel.

A Very Fine Line

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 10:04

Iran’s allegedly “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani has called Israel a “cancerous tumor.” He doubled down by suggesting that Israel was a “fake regime” established by Western countries. This moderate language seems suspiciously similar to the supposedly hard-line Ayatollah Khamenei. It perfectly exemplifies the fine line between moderates and hard-liners in Iran.

(Credit: Feintooner)

India Commemorates 10 Years Since Mumbai Terrorist Attacks Killed 160

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 09:31

On Monday, India solemnly commemorated the 10th anniversary of a series of horrifying attacks in Mumbai, in which 10 Pakistani Islamist terrorists killed 166 people including a rabbi, his pregnant wife, and four other victims who were targeted for being Jewish.

The US State Department marked the day by offering a new $5 million reward for the capture of the remaining attackers while calling on Pakistan to cooperate in bringing the terrorists to justice. The U.S. already has a $10 million bounty offered for Hafez Saeed, the mastermind of the attacks, and $2 million for Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, two leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Islamic terrorist organisation based in Pakistan. Pakistan arrested Saeed, intermittently placing him under house arrest but released him last year.

“It is an affront to the families of the victims that, after 10 years, those who planned the Mumbai attack have still not been convicted for their involvement,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

On November 26, 2008, 10 members of LeT landed on a beach in dinghies. Over the next four days, they carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, (formerly known as Bombay) the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The attacks included a siege of the Taj Hotel in which the terrorists held hundreds of hostages at gunpoint. Also targeted by the terrorists was a hospital for women and children, which was saved by alert staff who locked the doors while being attacked.

On the first day of the attacks, the Nariman House, an outreach center for Chabad Lubavitch branch of Hasidic Judaism, was taken over by two terrorists. On the first day, 9 hostages were rescued from the first floor. The following day, the house was stormed by commandos fast-roping from helicopters onto the roof, covered by snipers positioned in nearby buildings. After a long battle, one commando and both perpetrators were killed.

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Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka,, who was six months pregnant, were murdered with four other hostages inside the house by the attackers. Wounds on some of the bodies indicated that they may have been tortured and mutilated. Several of the bodies were covered in tallit (four-cornered fringed prayer shawl) including Rivka Holtzberg’s, leading witnesses to speculate that the rabbi managed to cover the bodies before he was killed.The rabbi’s two-year-old son, Moshe, was rescued by his Christian Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, who hid in a closet, coming out when she heard the boy calling her name. She found him covered in blood, standing over his parents’ bodies. Samuel grabbed the boy and ran from the house.

Sources investigating the series of attacks discovered the Chabad House was prominent, perhaps the most prominent, target in the eyes of the attackers. DNA, an English language Indian news site, made this claim two months after the attack.

“The terrorists themselves were in no doubt that Nariman House was the prime focus,” the DNA article read. “For this was the place which housed a Jewish centre, and the fanatics from Pakistan were clear that they wanted to send a message to the world from there.”

“The Mumbai crime branch, which is investigating the terror attacks, has found that the terrorists’ handlers in Pakistan were clear this operation should not fail under any circumstances. The rest of the operations…were intended to amplify the effect.”

According to radio transmissions picked up by Indian intelligence, the attackers “would be told by their handlers in Pakistan that the lives of Jews were worth 50 times those of non-Jews.”

Moshe, the Holtzberg’s orphaned son, lives with his grandparents in Israel. Samuel, the Indian nanny who save baby Moshe, now lives in Israel after being granted honorary citizenship in 2010. Samuel later revealed in an interview  that she was not supposed to be at the Chabad house that evening because she usually visited one of her sons on Wednesday evenings. She stated that “God kept me there because God already knew what would happen.”She works for ALEH in Jerusalem and still has a relationship with Moshe.

Ramming Attack Wounds 3 IDF Soldiers

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 07:26

A Palestinian terrorist ran over three IDF soldiers in Gush Etzion just south of Jerusalem. Two soldiers were lightly wounded and the third was taken to the Ein Kerem Hospital in moderate condition. The attack occurred just after noon as the soldiers were carrying out engineering work on a road between Beit Ummar and El-Arub. Another soldier shot and killed the terrorist as he fled the scene of the attack.

BREAKING: A terrorist rammed his vehicle into 3 soldiers in Al-Arroub, south of #Jerusalem injuring them. An additional soldier at the scene of the ramming attack successfully neutralized the terrorist before anyone else was hurt.

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDFSpokesperson) November 26, 2018


Mon, 11/26/2018 - 06:48

“Operation Magic Carpet”, also called “Operation On Wings of Eagles” based on this verse, secretly airlifted almost fifty thousand Yemenite Jews to Israel between June 1949 and September 1950. Many of the Yemenite Jews had never seen an airplane before, and they likened the ride from Yemen to Israel as a fulfillment of this verse, “I bore you on eagles’ wings.” This Operation was just one example of the fulfillment of the State of Israel’s responsibility toward all Jews worldwide, summarized by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in a speech he delivered to the Zionist Congress in 1992: “Our responsibility also extends to all Jews throughout the world… World Jewry should know that we are responsible for them and will do all we can to assist them when they are in need.”

Genetic Study Supports Ark Story but Religious Scientists say ‘Who Cares?’

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 06:40

A recently published study of mitochondrial DNA seems to support the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark, concluding that most species existing today all came into existence at the same time about 100,000 years ago, with each species beginning with one set of parents. Several religious scientists received the news with ambivalence and one prominent rabbi noted the inherent flaws in the scientists’ initial axiom.

Mark Stoeckle from The Rockefeller University in New York and David Thaler at the University of Basel in Switzerland recently presented the results of their study of the DNA barcodes of 5 million animals from 100,000 different species. The barcodes are small segments of DNA found outside the nuclei of living cells, what are referred to as mitochondrial DNA, passed down from the female progenitor to her offspring. With each reproduction, mutations enter into the barcode, as they do when you repeatedly photocopy a document. By measuring the accumulated errors scientists are able to infer the passage of time.

The two scientists came to some remarkable conclusions. They concluded that 90 percent of all animal species alive today come from parents that all began giving birth at roughly the same time, fewer than 250,000 years ago. The study also concluded that species are quantized. This means that instead of there being a broad continuum of animal varieties resulting from millions of years of gradual evolution, creatures fall into very distinct, widely separated populations.

According to their study, something happened 100-250,000 years ago that created entirely new populations from previously existing species, beginning with a limited gene pool, possibly even a single pair.

“This conclusion is very surprising,” Thaler wrote in his study. “I fought against it as hard as I could.”

The researchers suggested some possible causes for this cataclysmic reboot of life on Earth.

“Ice ages and other forms of environmental change, infections, predation, competition from other species and for limited resources, and interactions among these forces,” they suggested in their paper.

But the phenomenon, they noted, was clearly inherent to all living things on the planet.

“All of animal life experiences pulses of growth and stasis or near extinction on similar time scales,” they wrote.

This scenario, one in which humanity begins anew alongside animal species, seems familiar to believers in the Bible as a description of what took place when Noah left the Ark, accompanied by his family and all of the animals. But Professor Natan Aviezer, a physics professor at Bar Ilan University who is a learned and devout Jew, denies that there is any Biblical relevance to the study.

“The Torah does not talk about Japan, or Europe, or Asia,” he said. “The Torah is a book of Jewish history, focusing on the relationship between God and the Jewish people. Jewish History is the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. If you read the story of Noah, you might ask how the kangaroos got to Australia. The answer is that they never left Australia. Floods in Israel don’t kill kangaroos in Australia.”

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“If you look at the size of the Ark, there is no way it could have held all the species in the world. But it did hold all the species from this region,” Professor Aviezer concluded.

Dr. Lee Spetner,an applied biophysical physicist with a Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who also happens to be an observant Jew, said that the study was unnecessary as proof of the Bible’s relevance or accuracy.

“It sounds like the flood story in the Torah, describing all the species starting from a pair,” Dr. Spetner said. “But I wouldn’t take any of these scientific announcements as a  reinforcement or proof of the Torah. I don’t need any reinforcements. Do you?”

Spetner noted unlike faith in God, science frequently changes its conclusions.

“You have to be careful using these scientific theories as a support since tomorrow they can come out saying something completely different,” Spetner warned.

Dr. Spetner addressed the glaring contradiction between the scientific theory of the development of species and the Biblical account: the timeline.

“It is interesting how the scientists seem to be coming around but the Torah disagrees with their 100,000-year estimate,” Spetner explained. This was not an impasse for the religious physicist, who explained why scientific theories are based on time scales of hundreds of thousands of years as compared to the 6,000 year timeline proposed by the Bible.

“Whenever we examine the past we are making inferences based on what we find in the present,” he maintained. “Scientists have to make an assumption that the laws of physics and nature were the same in the distant past as they are today. That is understandable since there is nothing else they can do.”

“But the Torah makes a much different assumption,” he said. “The Torah says that during the Six Days of Creation, the laws of nature were much different than they are today. The Torah also says that the laws of nature from the first man until the Flood were much different than they are today. The scientists’ estimate of time can’t be expected to correspond to the Torah’s measurement of time. They rely on what we consider to be invalid assumptions. It is a reasonable assumption from their point of view and the only method available to them.”

The study also opened up the possibility of an inbuilt cyclical evolutionary process of creation and finality. Rabbi Yosef Berger noted that this is a necessary aspect of a belief in a Creator.

“This is described in the Talmud,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News. “The world was created and destroyed several times before God created this world.”

“Western culture believes the world is like a huge machine,” Rabbi Berger said. “They think it was made, like a automobile, and will keep running until something breaks or until it runs out of fuel.”

“Believing in Creation implies Messiah, a time when things were designed to end,” the rabbi said. “For us, that is at the end of 6,000 years, very soon indeed. Of course, this is only comforting for those that realize this world is much more than its physicality. After the Messiah, the spiritual aspect of Creation will continue.”