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Ivanka Waves Lulav in the White House

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 06:58

Rabbi Levi Shemtov,  Executive Vice President of American Friend of Lubavitch (Chabad), arrived at the White House on Friday with a lulav (palm branch) and etrog (citron). About thirty staffers took the opportunity to perform the mitzvah (Torah commandment) that characterizes the holiday of Sukkoth. Ivanka, the president’s Jewish daughter, exhibited a keen knowledge, reciting the blessings and performing the mitzvah precisely as dictated by Jewish law.

Ivanka Trump shakes the #Luluv at the White House today with Rabbi Levi Shemtov

— Jewish Insider (@J_Insider) September 28, 2018

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The event held in a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building is an annual White House tradition but the Chabad press reported that many present expressed the hope that next year’s gathering will be held in a Sukkah (booth).

Thousands Pray Hoshana Rabah at Kotel

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 06:30

Thousands of Jews prayed the special prayers for Hoshana Rabah, the final day of the Sukkot festival, at sunrise at the Kotel (Western Wall) on Sunday.

Thousands Feared Dead in Indonesian Tsunami

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 06:17

A 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia on Friday morning generating a six-meter tall tsunami that swept through the region. The death toll is currently at 832 but is expected to rise sharply as more reports come in. 821 of the deaths reported occurred in the city of Palu.

“The death toll is believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage, while many have not been reached,” said agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. He said a mass burial would be held Sunday for health reasons.

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Many of the hard-hit regions are without electricity or water. Rescue efforts are being hindered by the lack of heavy equipment. Roads are blocked and communications in many areas are down. About 17,000 people have been evacuated, the disaster agency said.

The quake was followed by around 170 aftershocks. It is the most devastating earthquake to hit Indonesia since 2004.

Its so close to my city. After earthquakes then we attack by tsunami again. Please pray for us


Sun, 09/30/2018 - 06:11

Even though Hashem’s (God’s) Temple had been destroyed for fifty years, Daniel continues to turn in its direction when praying. Indeed, Jews throughout the ages have maintained the tradition of praying facing Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), showing their eternal connection with their holy city. This is a fulfillment of King Shlomo’s (Solomon’s) wish when dedicating the Beit Hamikdash (Temple) (I Kings 8:48-49): “They turn back to You with all their heart and soul, in the land of the enemies… and they pray to You in the direction of their land which You gave to their fathers, of the city which You have chosen, and of the House which I have built to Your name – oh, give heed in Your heavenly abode to their prayer and supplication…” The deep bond between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem can be found throughout the Bible.

Watch: IDF Destroys More than 100 Grenades Thrown by Gaza Rioters

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 05:45

On Saturday, soldiers neutralized the numerous explosive charges and grenades – estimated at 100 – that had been thrown from the Gaza Strip during the riots near the border fence on Friday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office reported, issuing images of the controlled detonations near the security fence.

As it had done every Friday, Hamas yesterday sent tens of thousands of Gazans to riot by the fence. It is estimated that some 20,000 rioters participated, throwing grenades and explosive devices at IDF soldiers.

According to medical sources in Gaza, seven residents were killed and at least 506 were injured. Hundreds of Gazans marched on Saturday afternoon in the seven rioters’ funerals.

The rioters who operated in several locations along the border, sabotaged the security infrastructure, tried to break through the fence at several locations, and threw more than 100 improvised explosive devices and explosive grenades at IDF soldiers and the perimeter fence.

The IAF carried out two attacks in the northern Gaza Strip in response to the use of grenades and explosive devices.

The IDF Spokesperson on Saturday pointed an accusing finger at Hamas.

“Hamas continues its terrorist activities along the Gaza Strip, cynically using Gaza residents and endangering children sent to the fence as a cover for terrorist activities,” it claimed. Thirty five children and four women were injured Friday’s riots.

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“Hamas is responsible for directing the violent acts and for their consequences,” the statement said. “The IDF is determined to continue to act to protect the citizens of Israel against those who want to harm their security. The IDF is prepared to act in the face of similar attacks, and any attempts to carry out terrorist activities will encounter a severe response.”

During the day the terror from Gaza fire continued, as four fires broke out in the Gaza vicinity as a result of incendiary balloons, and were extinguished by firefighting and rescue teams with assistance from the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, regional security chiefs and JNF personnel.


For First Time Since Second Temple: Golden Vessel Used In Libation Ceremony [PHOTO SPREAD]

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 04:55

On Thursday, a bit of the former glory of the Temple was witnessed by three hundred people who took part in the full-dress reenactment of the Sukkot water-libation ceremony.

The group set out from the Dung Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem in the early evening, making its way down the steep steps leading to the Shiloah Spring. Led by six Kohanim (Jewish men descended from Aaron the Priest) and accompanied by music, the crowd sang and danced as they passed from the archaeological remains of the ancient City of David, through an Arab village, to the spring which was used in Temple times.

(Photo by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)

The Kohanim wore vestments that were made according to Biblical standards for use in the Temple and several played long silver trumpets that had been prepared by the Temple Institute for use in the Third Temple. One Kohen carried a silver vessel used for the libation while the High Priest carried a spectacular gold vessel prepared this year for this year’s service.

Kohanim (Photo by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)

“A vessel like this has not been seen since the Temples stood,” Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the Sanhedrin and an organizer of the event, told Breaking Israel News.

Golden vessel (Photo Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)

The procession then climbed to a plaza overlooking the valley, where a model altar had been constructed of wood. The ceremony, carried out precisely as it was performed in the Temple, took place closer to the Temple Mount than any other Temple reenactment thus far. An equal amount of water and wine were poured into two separate containers. The two liquids then spilled out onto the altar through openings in the containers.

(Photo courtesy Adam Propp)

The reenactment altar was decorated with large branches from a willow tree to replicate how the altar in the Temple was decorated for the holiday.

(Photo courtesy Adam Propp)

This was followed by the Priestly Blessing.

(Photo courtesy Adam Propp)

In Temple times, a libation of water was made together with the pouring out of wine at the morning service on the last six days of the week-long Sukkot holiday.

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Though not explicitly mandated in the Torah, the water libation is part of the oral tradition passed down from Moses. Sukkot is a joyous holiday and the water libation was the focal point of this joy. In the Temple, the ceremony would take fifteen hours with accompanying celebrations lasting all night until the Temple service began again the next morning.

(Photo courtesy Adam Propp)

“The basis of Sukkot is universal, bringing bounty to all 70 nations, as symbolized by the 70 bulls brought as sacrifices throughout the festival,” Rabbi Weiss said. “The world is facing many universal threats and coming together is vital. The Temple was a way in which the nations could come together in holiness, each nation bringing their aspect of holiness and connection with Hashem in order to avert these universal threats.”

“This must necessarily be done from a Biblical basis and from Jerusalem,” Rabbi Weiss said, citing a verse from the Prophets.

And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. Isaiah 2:3

The United Nations imitated this by establishing Israel as one of their first acts but they have strayed since then, the most egregious act being their attacks on Jerusalem which were attempts to delay the building of the Third Temple. President Trump clearly recognizes this and has called on the UN to either fix themselves or to disband.”

At the ceremony Rabbi Ariel announced the birth of the red heifer.

“This is the beginning of a long process that will, God willing, allow us to purify all of Israel, Rabbi Ariel said. “This is not us forcing God’s hand. We are simply performing mitzvoth (Torah commandments) as given to us in the Torah.


New Eichmann Film Puts the Lie to Hannah Arendt’s ‘Banality of Evil’

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 02:00

One of the most notorious lines – and lies – that grew out of the trial of Adolph Eichmann for his important role in the Holocaust, was what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil.”

Arendt was assigned to report on the 1961 trial of Eichmann in Jerusalem but, according to contemporaries, she rarely attended the trial. She came to Jerusalem having made up her mind in advance that Eichmann in particular and other perpetrators of the evils of the Holocaust were ordinary, banal functionaries. She reported on the trial with an agenda.

It was not necessary for her to actually observe and listen to Eichmann because to do so would undercut her thesis. So instead, she wrote a mendacious screed in which she constructed a stick-figure caricature of one of the most significant perpetrators of the Holocaust.

I use the word mendacious deliberately because Arendt knew better.

One of Hitler’s key supporters was Prof. Martin Heidegger, perhaps the most influential philosopher of his day. Arendt was his student and lover. And after the war she tried desperately to rehabilitate him. He was anything but banal.

Nor were Göring, Goebbels, Himmler, Hitler and the numerous doctors and lawyers who were tried at Nuremberg. Neither were the university students who began by burning Jewish books that ended by burning Jewish children. The perpetrators of the Holocaust – from those who organized it in Berlin to those who carried it out in the death camps and killing fields – included some of the most brilliant young men and women in Germany. Many left the university to participate in the “final solution” and returned to highly prestigious jobs in post-war Germany.

Adolph Eichmann who was anything but banal, as a perusal of the trial transcript reveals. In the film Operation Finale Eichmann is played by Ben Kingsley. Although the film partakes of Hollywood liberties – a romance between a beautiful doctor who in reality was a man and the film’s Israeli hero – Kingsley’s fictional portrayal of Eichmann is far more realistic than the allegedly non-fiction account by Arendt.

THE LATE Prof. Telford Taylor – who was my teacher, mentor, colleague and friend – had been the chief prosecutor at the Second Nuremburg Trial. He was invited to report on the trial as well and invited me along as his assistant and translator, but I had just been elected editor and chief at the Yale Law Journal and could not accept his offer – a decision I have long regretted.

When Taylor returned, he gave me his account of the trial, which varied enormously from that of Hannah Arnedt. Where she saw banality, he saw calculation, manipulation and shrewdness. These characteristics come through far more clearly in the film than in Hannah Arendt’s deeply flawed account. In the film we see a highly manipulative, shrewd judge of character who seeks to use his psychological insights to his advantage.

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Nor was Arendt’s book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, the only effort by Germans to attribute banality and ignorance to the perpetrators of the Holocaust. In Bernhard Schlink’s award winning book The Reader – which was turned into a critically acclaimed film starring Kate Winslet – a woman who actively participated in the mass murder of Jews is presented as embarrassed by her illiteracy. Readers and viewers come away believing that she may have been more typical of hands on perpetrators than the SS and Einsatzgruppen.

Deliberately distorting the history of the Holocaust – whether by denial, minimization, unfair comparisons or false characterizations of the perpetrators – is a moral and literary sin. Arendt is a sinner who placed her ideological agenda above the truth. To be sure, there are untruths as well in Operation Finale, but they are different in kind rather than degree. Some of the drama and chase scenes are contrived, but what else can be expected of Hollywood.

What is important is that Eichmann is presented in his multifaceted complexity, in the manner in which Shakespeare presented Iago, Lady Macbeth and many of his other evil villains – not as banal but as brilliantly evil.

It is essential to the memory of the victims of the Shoah, as well as to the future efforts to prevent recurrences of genocide, that we not simplify with ideologically driven and historically false oversimplifications such as “the banality of evil.” That mendacious and dangerous phrase should be struck from the historical vocabulary of the Holocaust and the trial of Eichmann, lest we look in the future for banality and miss the brilliance of those who would repeat Eichmann’s crimes.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

Monuments to the Caliphate in North-East Syria

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 01:00

In Raqqa, they were exhuming  a mass grave as we drove into the city.  It was by the municipality, in the center of the town.  A great gaping pit.  A group of men in blue municipality uniforms at work removing corpses.  A JCB accompanying them.  The bodies – mostly skeletons but with a little hair remaining on the heads of some of them, were wrapped in blue tarpaulin sacks and left aside as the work continued.  Some of the tarpaulin bundles were very small. These were the bodies of children, killed, perhaps by the Islamic State authorities, but just as likely by the coalition aircraft that had devastated the city prior to the entry of the fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The stench coming from the pit was very intense, a pungent, indescribable smell of putrefaction. The men wore masks against ingesting the foul air.  P. and I scrambled down the steep edge  and began to photograph them as they worked.

‘Some of these bones are probably of Da’esh men, anyway,’ the  foreman, who introduced himself as Jamshid,  remarked.  ‘They don’t care about graves and toward the end of the siege, they began to throw the bodies of their own men into these pits.  It was summer and they had precious little medicines left in the city.  They were frightened of epidemics, so they just threw the corpses into the mass graves and covered them up.’

One of the tarpaulin bags had been left open. From among the smaller ones.  You could see in there the roundness of a skull and an eye socket.

Nothing of this has anything to do with rest.  Such categories are useless for description.  Matter is not at rest.   One may come to understand in the contemplation of dead human matter the fascination for human sacrifice among very primitive peoples.  They wanted to grasp what exactly was the difference, at the exact point that living matter is turned into this. This inert, other stuff.  But there is no way to capture that. We only know that it is vastly, unutterable other.  Some cultures see the dead as impure, unclean.  Threatening to the living. There is something to this, too.  Unspoken, we and the Raqqa municipal workers were united in a slight sense of intangible danger, of participating together into a mission into some dangerous borderland.

In reality, there was no danger. What was left of the Islamic State was boxed in far to the south.  Raqqa was at peace. But we were located at an entrance point, like a gaping mouth, into the earth and that other realm.  In which lies war, corruption, and disappearance.

It was nearly a year since Raqqa had been liberated from the Islamic State. The city was still full of rubble. It was a sullen, tense and silent place in the slow afternoon.  Unexpectedly, wandering the city with my friends from the SDF, I felt a little like a representative of an army of occupation.  Too obsequious smiles from tradesmen, who beckoned us into their shops. Strange, sidelong, insinuating glances at Mustafa Bali, my old friend from Kobani, resplendent in his YPG camouflage.

‘We had a 10 day curfew here, a couple of weeks ago, to clear out IS sleeper cells.  They’re here. Those connected to the regime are trying to get organized, too.   Some of them are people who were with us before. Who think the regime’s coming back. Graffiti, demonstrations, that sort of thing.  No, nothing serious to worry about.’

That was ‘Haval Chia,’ the head of security in Raqqa city. He was a Kurd, maybe 40 years old, moustached, new to the notion of being part of the ruling authority. As were all the others.  But they’d grown into it fast.

The regime was winning the war and it was waiting on the other side of the Euphrates. Waiting to ‘reunite’ Syria and wipe out all this and put back the flag of the Ba’ath party all the way to the Iraqi border.  This was no longer somewhere in the distance.  It was coming forward, though slowly.  Like the armored suicide cars that IS used to operate at the start of the war.

Youd see them starting off, in the distance, from the jihadi’s lines.  They weren’t in any hurry. They knew at that time there were no weapons on the other side that could stop them. They’d approach like they had all the time in the world.  And you could run away or stay to face them when the explosion came.  That was how the regime wanted people to think of it.  Everything depended on the Americans.  If they stayed, nothing could cross the river. But who knew what they wanted. They didn’t seem sure themselves. And not only to do with Syria.

The regime were already here, anyway. But closed in. In Qamishli city and Hasakeh.  You had to be careful in Qamishli. The new confidence of the regime meant that they were asking foreigners for their I.Ds now.   It wouldn’t help to show them the little bit of paper that the Kurds had given you at the crossing at Fishkhabur. They’d already picked up a couple of unfortunates like that.

We’d almost stumbled in there ourselves.  Driving round Qamishli city with a driver from Kobani who didn’t know the geography of it. And who was  tired and young and maybe thinking about something else.  I’d noticed suddenly that there were crosses in the neighborhood and I’d heard that the regime’s area took in Christian areas. Then we’d seen the livid swastika type emblem of the SSNP and just a little further down a regime checkpoint and we’d turned around, very fast.

I had interviewed the leader of the SSNP a year earlier, in Damascus, under false pretences and they would have liked to talk to me.

This was how it was in Syria.  Everything nice and normal, even saccharine sweet like a Feyrouz song in the morning,  and then danger, from behind the curtain.

In Ein Issa, for example, at the SDF’s media center, I’d started talking in my kitchen Arabic to an Arab SDF fighter called Ali.  The Arabs tended to be more immediately  friendly than the Kurds and anyway I didn’t know Kurdish.  Of course within three minutes we were fast friends and I gave him my Facebook name and we shook hands warmly as we left. Then on the way back to Kobani as the light was fading I started thinking about regime information structures deep inside the Kurdish territories.  My Facebook profile revealed my residence in Jerusalem, in Israel. Ali, for all I knew, could be speaking to one of the various structures.  Making a phone call that evening to let them know who was passing through.  I was exaggerating, of course.  Not all or many of the Arab SDF fighters would be in contact with the regime.  And anyway I wasn’t important enough for something to be put on for my benefit so deep inside of Kurdish controlled territory.  But it was a reminder that nothing was ever really safe. Even when it seemed like it was.

That night back safe and cosy in Kobani I’d told P. to get us a different driver for the next day.  The following morning Mohammed Waisi arrived.  In his mid-50s but looking perhaps ten years older.  Mohammed was quiet, punctual, without airs.  A Kurd from Raqqa, but now living with his family in Kobani.

He didn’t speak much, until we were turning a corner outside of Ein Issa and he remarked ‘that was where my family and I were caught by ISIS in 2014.’  There was a short silence that followed. I encouraged him to continue.

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‘when ISIS came to Raqqa, our neighbors began to say ‘our state has come. Its time for you to leave.’  So the Kurds began to leave the city.  I took my family to Abu Sora, then on to Kobani city.  We had the idea of returning to Abu Sora because we thought Kobani would fall.  We were travelling with two of my cousins and their families. About twenty of us in all.  We were passing that corner when ISIS opened fire at us from the side of the road, so we had to stop.

There were about twenty of them.  They ordered us out of the car and separated the men and the women. The women they put back in the car.  They made us men kneel down with our hands on our heads by the road.  They told us that we were PKK and that they were going to execute us.

Then they were distracted by  a YPG vehicle that came upon the road and they all began shooting at it.  They must have fired about 1000 bullets.  So it turned back. We were all just waiting by the side of the road. They were going to kill us, but in the meantime an ISIS Emir had turned up.  A blond haired guy,  we thought he was a Russian or a Chechen.  He asked them what they were doing.  They said they had captured some PKK members and were going to execute them.   The Emir said that we weren’t PKK but were just civilians with women and children. An argument started.  All this while we were waiting by the side of the road, kneeling.  Eventually, they agreed to call their commanders. It seems that they told them not to kill us so they put us back in the cars and took us to Tel Abyad.

There were basements in Tel Abyad where they were holding prisoners.  One for men, and one for women.  We were the first to arrive there.  But in the days that followed, more Kurds came. There were maybe 200 people packed in down there. They gave us some soup once a day.  The commander down there was a guy called Abu Quteybeh.’

Mohammed said all this while keeping his eye on the road from Ein Issa to Kobani.  I told him we should talk more back in the town, so I could write down what he was saying, and he agreed.  After that, there was silence as we covered the ground.

Back at Kobani, in the garden of the makeshift hotel where journalists and aid workers stayed, we sat with Mohammed Waisi and he continued his account.

‘After we’d been there about a week, Abu Quteybeh brought a captured YPJ fighter. He held her by her hair and showed her to us and he said that in two hours they were going to behead her in the square and we would be brought out to watch it.  So two hours later we were all gathered there, and they brought her out and cut her head off.  She had been tortured a lot and she didn’t resist.  One man sat on her legs so she couldn’t move.  The other one, on the top half.  Everyone had to watch it. Even the children..’

We were silent for a bit, the three of us, and then P. said, ‘ISIS would do this,you know, to frighten people.’

Mohammed continued; ‘They took us outside once, when the jets were coming, and they made us stand next to a building, they stood about 200 meters away, and shone a light on us.’

‘We got out because my neighbor from Raqqa, who had escaped to Turkey, had a cousin who was an emir with ISIS, and when he heard that we had disappeared he contacted them, and so after a while we were released.  They said they’d investigated us and found that we weren’t from the PKK.  So they gave us three days to get out of Raqqa, after which they couldn’t ‘guarantee’ our safety, they said.  We got through the checkpoints and to Bab al Salameh, then into Turkey and finally across the border into the KRG. We stayed there til ISIS was driven out of Kobani.’

There was silence and we sat around the table.  And finally, ‘While we were out of Raqqa my house was bombed and damaged. Now the neighbors began to build and repair it and they are living there.  We’re trying to get it back.  I spoke to Haval Chia, he’s a relative of mine. But he told me to be patient as they don’t want to inflame problems between Kurds and Arabs in Raqqa. ‘

Mohammed Waisi told us his story in low tones and never became animated.  Only later, in Raqqa city, when he took us to the site where his house had been, he began to weep and could not continue. Not knowing what to do, I have him a manly slap on the shoulder, of the type that army comrades give one another. It felt absurd then, as it sounds now.

Later, I asked him how the experience of all this had changed him.  He thought for a moment, and replied ‘I don’t enjoy anything anymore,or even feel anything. I used to like taking my grandson to the market and introducing him to people and so on.  But nothing really makes me feel anything anymore.’

We worked with Mohammed Waisi for another couple of days. We didn’t mention any of this again.  After that I left and crossed the border back to the KRG.

Islamic State brought out the monstrous element that waits not that far from the surface in any human situation.  It is important also of course to remember the specifically Arab and Sunni Islamic context in which it arose.    What it has mainly left along the landscape and in the minds of people are a series of horrifying monuments to itself and to the brief moment when it exercised its insane sovereignty across eastern Syria and western Iraq.

The Caliphate might have been short lived. But the forces that engendered it have not disappeared or been replaced by others.  In north east Syria, there is a contrast between the tranquility that seems evident, the solidity of it which one feels, and the extreme fragility which your intellect tells you is surely the reality.  In such cases, one should distrust ones’ feelings and emotions.  For now, the land is quiet.  But the war and the things that generated it are latent, and alive, and will manifest themselves again soon.  In the meantime, the monuments remain.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jonathan Spyer


Fri, 09/28/2018 - 07:26

The term ‘bread of display,’ or ‘shewbread,’ refers to twelve special loaves that were placed on the Table, one of the vessels in the sanctuary of the Mishkan (tabernacle), and later in the Beit Hamikdash (temple). Each loaf represents one tribe of Israel. Each week, the loaves were replaced and the old ones were eaten by the Kohanim, priests. Jewish tradition teaches that a miracle surrounded the bread of display. When the priests received them a full week after being placed on the Table, the loaves were still as warm and fresh as they were when they were first baked. This was a reminder of Hashem’s (God’s) constant watch over His sanctuary and His people.

IDF Releases Photo of Alleged Hezbollah Missile Site Close to Beirut Airport

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 07:14

The Israeli military released images of three sites in Beirut that it claims are being used by Iran’s Lebanese proxy – Hezbollah – to hide underground precision missile production facilities.

The sites, located within close proximity of Beirut’s international airport, were first revealed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

The production facilities, which are used to convert regular missiles into more accurate precision guided ones, are not currently believed to be up-and-running. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) asserted that they were currently under construction with Iranian supervision.

It has been reported that the target of Israel’s controversial missile strike in Syria last week – the one in which a Russian military plane was downed with the loss of 15 servicemen’s lives – was machinery used in the production of precision missiles – which was en route to Hezbollah.

According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the precision missiles are capable of striking within 10 meters (32 feet) of their intended target. Following restocking after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah is estimated to have between 100,00 and 150,000 missiles in its arsenal. Most are not believed to be equipped with precision technology.

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They army said the facilities are “another example of Iranian entrenchment in the region and the negative influence of Iran.”

In addition to his direct warning to Iran, Netanyahu also relayed a message to the Lebanese terrorist group. “Israel knows, Israel also knows what you’re doing. Israel knows where you’re doing it. And Israel will not let you get away with it.” He added that Hezbollah was using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields.

The three missile sites included the Ouzai neighborhood on the water’s edge and close to the airport’s runway; underneath a soccer field used by a Hezbollah-sponsored team; and a third site abutting the Rafik Hariri airport runway.

In May, Netanyahu said Israel was “operating against the transfer of deadly weapons from Syria to Lebanon or their manufacture in Lebanon.”

In recent years, Israel has acknowledged conducting hundreds of airstrikes in Syria, which it says were aimed at both preventing Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and blocking the transfer of advanced munitions to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Ari Fuld Memorial Video: Thanking IDF Border Patrol

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 06:03

Ari Fuld z’l was a passionate supporter of all of Israel’s Defense Forces. He visits the Border Police after new recruits had finished a long hike – and prior to them receiving their berets.

Israel Grapples with Fallout of Russian Jet Downing

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 05:47

Russia remains furious over the downing of its plane in Syria. Israel continues to deny responsibility, claiming poorly managed Syrian air defenses were to blame. Where will this lead, especially in light of Russia supplying Syria with upgraded air-defense systems?

At UN, Netanyahu Reveals Hidden Iranian Nuclear Site

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 04:24

In his latest address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the existence of a hidden Iranian nuclear site – dealing yet another blow to Iran’s claims that it does not seek to clandestinely build atomic weapons.

The prime minister referenced Israel’s attempts to expose Iranian lies – including a daring raid in February earlier this year, in which it secured thousands of documents from Iran’s secret atomic archive. “We obtained over 100,000 documents and videos that had been stashed in vaults in an innocent looking building in the heart of Tehran.”

Netanyahu described how in May, he had come before the international media to present a short summary of Iran’s contravention of the Obama-era nuclear deal – which Israel vehemently opposed. Israel’s premier added that although he presented clear evidence to the P5+1 and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of Iranian mendacity nothing has been advanced. Netanyahu was critical of the IAEA, admonishing it the organization for having not demanded to inspect a single site – despite his revelations. Given the inaction, the prime minister decided to reveal Israel’s evidence of a second secret nuclear site.

“Today, I am disclosing for the first time that Iran has another secret facility in Tehran—a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and materiel from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.

In May, we exposed the site of Iran’s secret atomic archive, right here, in the Shor-abad District of Tehran. Today I’m revealing the site of a second facility— Iran’s secret atomic warehouse. It’s right here, in the Turquz-abad District of Tehran, just there miles away.”

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Netanyahu accused the Iranians of attempting to clear up the site as quickly as possible, in advance of any potential inspections. He accused the Iranian regime of removing 15 kilograms of radioactive material and secreting it around the city of Tehran.

He also had a message for the “Tyrants of Tehran,” saying that Israel knows what the regime is up to and that it would never allow it to develop nuclear weapons.

“And Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever and wherever we must act to defend our state and defend our people.”

Israel’s prime minister also attacked the deal that allowed a relaxation of sanctions on Iran for greater transparency about its nuclear ambitions. In short, he said, it had not worked. Iran used the extra money that flooded its economy to fuel its vast war machine. He accused the mullahs in Iran of funding terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Saudi Arabia.

He applauded America’s re-imposition of sanctions against Tehran and aimed a shot at European “appeasement,” as the European Union tries to circumvent them.

Thousands March Through Jerusalem’s Streets in Support of Israel

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 03:24

With flags from all over the globe waving high, a colorful march of some 80,000 Israelis and foreign friends of Israel descended on the streets of Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon for the annual Jerusalem March to celebrate Israel and pray for peace.

More than 6,000 pilgrims from over 100 nations joined the 3-kilometer popular parade, held annually during the Sukkot holiday, including large groups waving flags and traditionally dressed from countries including Brazil, China, Switzerland, Malaysia, the United States, South Africa, and Peru and singing. The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) is behind the event, now in its 39th year.

The Chinese-speaking delegation – one of the biggest with 500 representatives – arrived in Israel for the march, walked holding six small sukkahs, the temporary hut constructed for use during the Jewish festival of Sukkot,  differently decorated.

Pilgrims from Brazil represented the biggest delegation with 900 people. Other large delegations arrived from Ivory Coast with 600, the United States, 500, and 250 people from the Philippines.

This year’s event centered on the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state.

“Every year the participants to the march rise, as tourism in Israel which is on rise 15% up as well,” ICEJ Vice President David Parsons said.  “Sixty-percent of the pilgrims who arrived in Israel are from Latin America and Africa, the developing countries, where evangelical churches are growing the fastest.”

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According to Parsons the interest of the pilgrims from developing countries doesn’t come only from religious reasons but also because they admire the spirit of the country

“Developing countries watch Israel from the last 70 years, from the time orphans from the Shoah arrived to the high-tech nation and admire it, they want to take the spirit of Israel to their nations,” Parsons said.

Several foreign participants said that they arrived in Israel to attend the march to fulfill a prophetic will and out of a sincere Christian love for the nation of Israel and their belief that “worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles”(Zechariah  14:16).

“When the Messiah will come the entire world will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles because it will mark the return of Jesus. I am here today because I believe the Messiah is arriving,” said Domeniq Quelter, a 55-year-old from Oensingen, Switzerland, who has come to the march every year for the last 11 years.

Emily and Pamela, daughter and mother from Dallas, Texas marched while waving U.S. flags, said they came to connect with the Jewish people and to support Israel. “I want to show my love for Israel, ” said Emily. “And we also like very much the food and the wine here,“ her mother added.

“This march is a declaration of love,“ added Joseph Evangelista, a pilgrim who arrived from Brasil. “The world Christianity love Israel and also Israel is important for all Christians;we all came from Abraham.”

Me and My Friend in the House of God

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 06:30

It is said that when man plans, God laughs; so when my dear friend and colleague, Shlomo Vile called me late last night to invite me for a Sukkot ascension to the Temple Mount, I could hear God laughing in the background. Of course, I said ‘yes.’ Shlomo is an amazing man and if he had invited me to sit on a beach and munch on rocks I would have agreed, knowing it would be an uplifting and spiritual experience. I figured walking with Shlomo where the Temple once stood would be a trip to heaven and, as it turned out, I wasn’t too far off.

We arranged to meet at the entrance to the Temple Mount at 7:30 in the morning, which would require a very early start to arrive at the Western Wall, pray, drink some coffee, and still arrive on time.

The next morning, I woke up before dawn and got ready for a day of work reporting for Breaking Israel News, packing my laptop and camera along with my tallit and lulav. As I headed out the door, I was a bit anxious. I had come to Jerusalem for Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days of Sukkot) and was staying with a friend in a unfamiliar section of Jerusalem. Jewish men are required to immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath) before visiting the Temple Mount and I had no idea where the nearest mikveh was. Rather than worry, I decided to leave it in God’s hands. I stepped outside and saw a man walking down the dark street.


“Excuse me,” I said to the stranger, hesitant to ask such an incongruous question. “Do you know if there is a men’s mikveh near here?”

He looked surprised and said, “Well, actually, yes. Just around the corner. I happen to be going there now and I’ll show you the way.”

Ten minutes later, I was alone in the tiled room, dunking under the water. Ten minutes after that, I was standing at the bus-stop feeling rather blessed that I barely had to wait three minutes for the bus to arrive. Had I paid more attention, I would have heard God snickering in the background. When I opened my wallet to show my bus pass to the driver I saw that the pass was gone. Jerusalem bus drivers only accept the cards which must be charged with credits before boarding. I stood there on the swaying bus, struggling for mental and physical balance.

“I don’t know what to do,” I admitted. “I don’t have any cash on me since my card had plenty of credits on it. I am going to the Temple Mount to meet a friend and really can’t be late.”

The driver, a young Sephardi man, inspected me in the rear view mirror. “You’re going to the Temple Mount?” He thought about it, looking around at the empty bus.”Go sit before you fall down.”

On the Temple Mount (Credit: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)

Ten minutes later I got off the bus near Jaffa Gate and began walking toward the Kotel (Western Wall), winding my way through the narrow and twisted alleys of the Old City. Since leather shoes are forbidden on the Temple Mount, I was wearing an old pair of Crocs, their soles worn smooth. They offered little traction on the ancient stones under my feet and to make matters even worse, the streets were soaking wet. In Israel, you can pack your umbrella away after Passover and rest assured you probably won’t need it until well after Sukkot; so the slick stones perplexed me. Near the Cardo (one of the city’s ancient Roman arteries), my way forward was blocked by an Arab working a pressure washer, solving the riddle of why I could barely keep my footing.

I had fifteen minutes until I needed to meet Shlomo, which I figured gave me plenty of time to grab a coffee first. When I arrived at the stairs leading down to the Western Wall Plaza, I nearly dropped my coffee; the plaza was overflowing with people, far more than I had ever seen on any other Chol Hamoed  visit. It was as if Jerusalem had burst to life, becoming the number one global tourist destination overnight. As I approached the line to enter the Temple Mount, I realized that there were hundreds of people, Jews mixed in with non-Jews, all waiting their turn.

I called Shlomo. “Where are you?”

“I am almost inside,” he answered.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” I said. “I just got in line and it looks like it will be quite some time until I get up to where you are. You’ll have to go in without me, We’ll do it together some other time.”

Half an hour later, I finally made it to the head of the line where a police-woman asked for my identification. As I handed her my photo ID, I noticed the man standing next to me hand over his card as well.


“Shlomo!” I shouted. “I thought…”

The rest of my sentence was drowned out by an annoying group of angels that wouldn’t stop laughing.

As we entered the wood tunnel that led up to the Temple Mount, our conversation became a sharing of deep thoughts and Biblical quotes, as it always does when we get together. I am not always that focused on holy matters but I suspect that Shlomo is, at all times and with everyone he meets. He is certainly that way with me and it brings out the absolute best in me. Our observations before entering the Temple Mount were focused on how there was clearly an awakening going on, an unstoppable uprising of Jews.

“But it is amazing how many non-Jews are here,” Shlomo noted, citing Psalm 126.

“Our mouths shall be filled with laughter, our tongues, with songs of joy. Then shall they say among the nations, “Hashem has done great things for them!”

“This is what I am looking at right now,” Shlomo said. “Non-Jews are coming to Israel to see what Hashem has done for us. And that is having an effect on us. Everyone, including you, looks happy. It is the Sukkot Effect.”

“To be honest,” he said. “It is embarrassing. God told us to build His house and to do the Temple service. But we aren’t doing it. It seems that having the non-Jews remind us about this is what is bringing us to it.”

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As we entered, I realized this was the third time I had been here. But not only was I not becoming apathetic, the growing familiarity allowed me to focus on details I had missed before. On my first visit, I had been dumbfounded by the sheer size of the place. While the world focuses on the Muslim structures, the gold and silver domes, they actually obscure the true nature of the site. The air glows with holiness.

Along the walkways are endless piles of cut stones, each one a witness of what once stood here and what needs to be built again. After all the political fairy-tales are told in the hallowed halls of government, after the echoes of peace plans and Middle-East agendas die down, these stones will still be here, bearing silent witness, waiting for me, or my children, or my children’s children, to reach out for them.

But the place is nothing if it is empty, and on this morning, it was full to overflowing. Jews and non-Jews moved through the site, God’s holy mountain, each a unique product of prophecy. A shiny-faced father with a new kippah on his head, a loud American tourist, who brought his children to see what he didn’t understand but what he knew was important.

“Kiss the stones,” he instructed his children, a nervous smile on his face. “Let’s take another selfie to send to your teacher in Hebrew school.”


Temple Mount at Dawn (Credit: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)

I silently blessed him for following the slender thread of spiritual heritage that led him back to stand by me and all the other Jews who had answered the Biblical imperative to come to God’s house for the holiday.

“Please, no praying,” the young Israeli policeman reminded the group. “It’s nothing personal. If it was up to me, I would let you pray. I want you to, but those are the rules for now.”

“It’s okay,” an older man with a thick beard replied. “We won’t cause any trouble. What’s your name? I’ll say a prayer for you too.”

“Rachim ben (the son of) Avital,” the policeman said, as the older man closed his eyes in deep meditation.

A man with a sad smile approached me. I realized I knew him from when I lived in Gush Etzion.

“My rabbi said that the lack of sacrifices has allowed the world to become apathetic about blood,” he said. “Murder used to be unthinkable, a rarity. Now, amazing men like Ari Fuld can be stabbed in cold blood and one week later, the world has forgotten. That is not the way the world should be. We need to do our job here and fix the world.”

I lifted my camera to take a photo of one of the many olive orchards on the mount and I heard a shout in Arabic. A Waqf guard was sitting under the tree that I was about to photograph. He was waving his finger angrily at me.

“No picture,” he said.

I shrugged. I had discovered a glitch in my camera unique to the Temple Mount. When I had carefully set up the photo, I had not seen him in the screen. I certainly wasn’t interested in taking a picture of an Arab security guard.

We continued toward the exit and I overheard a conversation between two men in my group.

“I turn my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come?” one man asked the other as they walked next to two diligent Waqf guards.

“My help comes from Hashem, maker of heaven and earth,” his friend answered him casually, adding, “He will not let your foot give way; your guardian will not slumber.”

“You know,” Shlomo said to me. “We already know how this will end. We just have to figure out what role we want to play in it.”

I nodded, trying to figure out how a small-town boy from New Jersey, a former motorcycle enthusiast and classically trained chef, fit into prophecy.

As we neared the exit, many in the group turned around, walking backward out of respect for the place. I held up my fingertips, not towards the mosque, but towards the empty space surrounding it that will one day be filled with something else entirely.

“Goodbye, abba,” I whispered, kissing my fingertips. “I’m glad I came to visit you in your house. I’ll try not to wait so long until next time.”


We walked through the iron doors, stepping into the dim light of the Arab Quarter. I looked back, catching a last glimpse before the police closed the door. Suddenly, I was sobbing uncontrollably, my forehead pressed against the grimy wall of the shuk (Arab market). Images flew through my mind. I had done teshuva, repented, become a religiously observant Jew. I had left my sinful behavior behind. I was a good husband, a proud father, I prayed and kept kosher. But the final step, the one thing I need so desperately to fix my life, was entirely outside of me. God demanded I be moral, which I understood. God required me to be religious and I consented. But God had other demands that made no sense. He wanted a house, he wanted service, he wanted a House of Prayer for all nations. And he had given that job to my ancestors in a way that implicated me as well. I could not be whole until I answered that call and in the craziest scene ever, non-Jews were coming from all over the world to make me live up to this.

When I first started down this path to being a Jew, my rabbi said it would be difficult. But what he neglected to tell me was that it is actually impossible without friends like Shlomo. He didn’t tell me that once I started, entire nations would be lining up to cheer me on and keep me to the straight and narrow.

Well, here I am, with tears soaking my beard. Where do I go from here?

Tracing the High Priest’s Footsteps on the Temple Mount

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 06:09

In Hebrew, the word aliyah means “to ascend.” When I became a bat mitzvah at the age of 12, I ascended the bimah (elevated platform) to read the Torah and mark becoming a responsible Jewish adult who fulfills mitzvot (commandments).

About 10 years later, I immigrated to Israel, which in Hebrew is referred to as making aliyah (going up). By returning to my Jewish homeland, I became an official part of the Jewish state with a front row seat to Jewish history.

Aliyah is also the word we use for going to Jerusalem, rooted in the past when the Jewish Temple stood and Jews would “go up” to Jerusalem to make sacrifices and serve Hashem. This year, hours before Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, I made my third aliyah, ascending to the Temple Mount.

The experience was exciting and powerful, but it was also tinged with sadness and frustration, and in the end, hope.

For the Jewish people, an aliyah to the Temple Mount represents the pinnacle of sanctity. As Rabbi Daniel Sperber, spiritual leader and teacher of Talmud and Jewish custom previously explained to me, “there is in Jewish thought a hierarchy, a spectrum of sanctity, based in the Mishnah (oral Torah) that says there are degrees of sanctity,” a concept called kedushat hamakom (sanctity of space). In Judaism, the Temple and its holy of holies was the most sacred place in the world – the place where God gathered dust to create Adam, the first human, the site of the binding of Isaac and where God’s divine presence is most revealed.

There, during Temple Times, the Kohen Hagadol (High Priest) would make sacrifices on behalf of the Jewish people. Jews and non-Jews alike would bring sacrifices on Yom Kippur, as well as for the festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Until today, even in light of the destruction of the First and Second Temples, Jews pray toward this site and aspire for the rebuilding of the Third Temple.

Leading up to my third aliyah, I spoke to Jewish activists, politicians and rabbis about the Temple of the past and future to better understand the importance of what I was about to do. Each maintained that the greatest step Jews and Christians can take to usher in Geula (redemption) is to take the possibility of a Third Temple seriously by yearning, praying and advocating for it – as well as by ascending to the Temple Mount.

In 2014, Member of Knesset Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a Temple Mount activist, survived an assassination attempt. He was shot four times in the chest for campaigning to expand Jewish access, freedom and civil rights on the Temple Mount – “to return it to its biblical intent as a house of prayer for all nations.”

He explained that Jews and Christians can only go up to the Temple Mount during certain days and hours and they are not allowed to pray there, although the Jordanian Waqf (an Islamic religious endowment that monitors the site) sometimes ignores quiet prayer during times of relative calm.

As he spoke about the significance of going up to the Temple Mount, I understood that ascending would be meaningful religiously as well as an effective way to show the world, including Israel’s leaders that Jews seek to connect with our holiest site. Outside of praying for a shana haba’a b’yerushalayim (next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem) after Passover and Yom Kippur, this would be my first active display of yearning.

Once I decided I would go up on the Temple Mount, I needed to choose a date and time to do so. Similar to the concept of sanctity of space, there is also a concept in Judaism called kedushat hazman (sanctity of time). As Rabbi Sperber told me, Yom Kippur is the most sanctified time on the Jewish calendar, followed by festivals and Shabbat. So with the holiest day of the year soon approaching, my aliyah date became clear to me – I would go up as close to Yom Kippur as possible. As the Temple Mount was not open for Jews on Yom Kippur itself, I would go up just hours before the holiday.

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On the morning of the big day, I arrived to the one entrance allowed for Jews. After going through a metal detector, I had to leave my identification at the entrance and was met by my guide, Michael Miller, as well as accompanying Israeli border guards who were tasked with keeping us safe and ensuring that we would follow strict rules: maintaining modest behavior and dress, not praying out loud or straying from the group and moving aside for Muslims, who are given the “right of way” on the Temple Mount.

“It is a miracle that we can come up here,” Miller told our group.

As we were given the green light to go up the ramp towards the Temple Mount, everyone began to clap and sing. Once we entered the Temple Mount platform, we saw the Dome of the Rock – a 7th century CE Islamic shrine built on top of the even shtiya (rock of foundation) and considered by most authorities and scholars as the location of the Temple’s holy of the holies.

As we toured around the area, the police surrounded us in what seemed like a combination of herding, hurrying and protecting. The waqf, dressed in white shirts, stood watching us from afar. As we reveled in our holiest site, some attempting to pray under their breath, Muslim children played soccer just meters away.

While I understood and truly felt the importance and potential of the Temple Mount, I was saddened by how far it is from a place of prayer for all nations. Jews and Christians, while protected, have few rights. The political tension is palpable, impeding one’s ability to connect to God in the place that one should be able (and allowed) to feel it the most.

On Tisha B’Av, the Jewish people mourn the loss of the Temple. Being on the Temple Mount, barred from praying at our holiest site, evoked a sense of that same mourning and exile, a potential lost. I finally understood first hand what Joshua Wander, an independent public relations consultant in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, had meant when he told me, “Wherever the most holiness is, you also have the most impurity.”

After taking some pictures and walking around the Temple Mount platform, we dedicated the aliyah to our good friend Ari Fuld, an American-Israeli Jew who had been murdered just days before. As an activist, Fuld had reported on assaults against Jewish members of Knesset who went up to the Temple Mount, treatment of Jews by the Waqf and arrests of Jews for praying on Judaism’s holiest site.

Then, we were briskly led out, walking backwards toward the exit as to not turn our backs on the Holy of the Holies. At the exit, there was a short prayer service and we were led back to our starting point.

With just 20 minutes left before the closing of the Temple Mount for Jews, we were asked if we wanted to go up again – most of us agreed, and we went up once more. This time, we were allowed to take pictures closer to the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim mosque that today sits on the Temple Mount. But the police stopped us from going up the stairs toward the dome, which is forbidden for Jews.

As I reflected, I came to understand the connection between my three aliyot.

Upon my first aliyah – my bat mitzvah – I assumed responsibility for Jewish law, ethics and tradition. I assumed a Jewish consciousness and entered into Jewish life as a fully-fledged member of the community, with all the responsibilities that come with it.

That aliyah led me to immigrate to Israel. I fulfilled the main aspiration and tenet of the Zionist movement – to settle the land of Israel.

That second aliyah led me to my third, ascending the Temple Mount where I stood at the nexus of Jewish responsibility, agency and consciousness, in pride, excitement, sadness and frustration.

I do not know what my next aliyah will be. But I do know that I now have a deeper understanding of the Jewish vision and hope that next year we will see a rebuilt Jerusalem.

Netanyahu Meets With Trump in New York Ahead of UNGA Appearance

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 05:28

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. President Donald Trump in New York, ahead of his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and profusely thanked him for his continued support.

Netanyahu was effusive in his praise of the U.S. president, remarking that he personally, and the State of Israel had much to be thankful for. Netanyahu initially thanked President Trump for his strong statement at the UNGA, “against the corrupt terrorist regime in Iran. You back up your strong words with strong actions. And I think that the fact that you brought American sanctions to bear has cut the cash machine of Iran and its campaign of carnage and conquest of the Middle East.” He added that Israelis and Arabs who lived in the Middle East were encouraged by such strong leadership.

The prime minister also commented that Trump had always been supportive of Israel within the confines of the United Nations building. He said that nobody had backed Israel like Trump had – and presumably that also included the U.S. Administration’s indefatigable ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

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The decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was also praised, with Netanyahu noting, “You’ve changed history, and you’ve touched our hearts.”

In his final thank you, Netanyahu referenced the support in the Trump administration of Israel’s right to self-defense. The Israeli premier reiterated that Israel would continue to do whatever it saw fit to restrain the advance of Iran in Syria, the use of its proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and anywhere else it felt threatened.

I think, and I say this objectively, that the American-Israeli alliance has never been stronger. It’s stronger than ever before under your leadership. And I look forward to working with you and your team to advance our common interests – security, prosperity and peace with Israel’s neighbors, and for the region. And we can do it with you,” Netanyahu concluded.

In addition to his meeting with Donald Trump, Netanyahu also held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Ari Fuld in Action

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 04:33

Ari Fuld was a constant and consistent defender of Israel. In this video of clips from different sources, Fuld’s passion for Israel and his hatred of the lies spread against it, clear. He challenged people who disagreed with him with facts, not feelings.

Fmr Israeli Commander: God Protected us in Battle

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 04:19

During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, IDF soldiers fought ferocious battles against largely Syrian and Egyptian attackers. Effie Eitam was leading a routine reconnaissance patrol on the Golan Heights when his unit was ambushed.  Involved in the some of the heaviest fighting of the war, none of Eitam’s unit’s members were either killed or wounded.

Healthful Lifestyles Can Prevent Breast Cancer and Other Malignancies

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 03:45

Cancer is the most frightening disease for most people, and among women, it is breast cancer that terrorizes them the most. In Western countries, one out of every eight or nine women will contract the tumor in some form during her lifetime, and one out of 100 breast cancer cases occur in men.

But there is good news. In about a third of cases, breast cancer and other tumors can be prevented by adopting healthful lifestyles. And in Israel, the mortality rate from breast cancer has been declining by 2% every year – and 25% since 2005. Better treatments have turned the cancer for many into a chronic illness rather than a fatal one.

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the non-profit Israel Cancer Association (ICA, recently held a press conference to mark the event. Established in 1952, the nationwide organization has significantly reduced the prevalence of cancer and increased the rate of survival, thanks to research, encouragement of early detection, public information campaigns and support for cancer patients. It also represents Israel in international organizations that fight cancer.

The ICA has saved many lives by getting many women to get a subsidized biennial mammogram. The age for going for a first breast scan and every two years until they are 74 is 50 for most women. For women at high risk because they have or had a first-degree relative who took sick or because they themselves contracted the cancer – the age to start getting a mammogram every year is from 40.

When well-known women make public the fact that they were diagnosed with breast cancer, they increase awareness and early detection by other women. Among such personalities have been Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton John; singers Kylie Minogue, Marianne Faithfull and Sheryl Crow, actresses Maggie Smith, Suzanne Somers, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christina Applegate, Cynthia Nixon and Jane Fonda; tennis player Martina Navratilova; journalist and activist Gloria Steinem; and many others

Healthful lifestyles may not only prevent breast cancer but also increase recovery rates. The ICA quotes scientific studies that show avoiding obesity and maintaining a healthy body weight; doing regular exercise; drinking little or no alcohol; and not smoking significantly reduce the risk. Avoid processed, fried, salted, canned and smoked foods. Women who give birth can also cut their risk by breastfeeding their babies.

New research at Harvard University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston shows that eating a lot of vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of breast cancer significantly. A total of 182,145 American women aged 27 to 59 from the Nurses’ Study (one of the most extensive studies ever conducted on risk factors of chronic diseases) completed questionnaires about their eating habits. Among the vegetables that were most protective were broccoli, green beans, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes. Among the beneficial fruits were apples, pears, oranges, peaches, apricots, plums, bananas, grapes, grapefruit, strawberries and blueberries.

Cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, arugula, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, watercress, and mustard greens), as well as orange and yellow veggies, are very healthful, reducing the breast cancer rate by 11%. “Our study highlights the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially aggressive breast tumors,” wrote the researchers in the International Journal of Cancer in June 2018.

Researchers from Scientists in Spain and Austria who examined the relationship between eating times and taking into account people’s sleep and lifestyle – as well as classifying men and women according to whether they were “morning” or “evening” people – found that those who didn’t work night shifts and slept well at night were less likely to get breast or prostate cancer or to develop cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

Patients who went to bed two hours after dinner were 26% less likely to contract prostate cancer and 16% had lower breast cancer risk than those who went to bed right after dinner. “This study demonstrates the importance of the biological clock in nutrition and cancer studies, and their possible contribution to cancer prevention recommendations,” the authors wrote. Breast cancer was found to be lower among those who regularly ate dinner before 9 p.m. than in those who ate supper after 10 p.m.

Researchers have also found that there is a link between obesity in boys and an increased risk of breast cancer at a later age. Because it is harder to diagnose breast cancer in men, it is found in older men and at more- advanced stages.

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Recovery rates of breast cancer patients here are among the highest in the OECD. Survival rates in Israel reach 89.7% among Jewish women and 84.4% among Arab women. Other countries around the world can learn from Israel on how to prevent and deal with the malignancy.

Seventy-eight percent of patients are diagnosed over the age of 50, even though Jewish women of Ashkenazi (Western) origin are at higher risk of having the BRCA genetic mutation that can cause the tumor to erupt at a younger age.

A total of 22,481 women diagnosed with breast cancer who have either recovered or are still coping with the disease live in Israel today; 19,889 were diagnosed with the invasive disease.

ICA director-general Miri Ziv, said that today, “the most effective way to fight breast cancer is early detection. When it is diagnosed at an early stage, the chances of healing increase to 90% or more. I call upon all women to take responsibility for their health and to adopt a healthful lifestyle, which has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce the risk of disease.” In addition, women need to undergo physical examinations by their doctor and mammograms, as well as an ultrasound exam if possible and be familial with their body so as to catch any changes and report them immediately.

Prof. Lital Keinan Boker, deputy director of Israel’s Center for Disease Control in the Health Ministry, noted that 4,846 new patients with invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in a year, of whom 4,140 on average are Jewish (85%), 470 Arab (10%) and 236 of other ethnic or religious background.

In 2015, about 1,000 Israeli women – Jewish, Arab and others – died of invasive breast cancer, which causes about a sixth of all cancer deaths in Jewish women and about a quarter of cancer deaths among Arab women.

According to the OECD data for 2013, the number of new cases in Israeli women in 2012 was slightly higher than the average of 34 countries in the OECD, putting Israel in 16th place. But more Israeli women survive the tumor, and the rising survival rates are very encouraging.

More than 71% of Israeli women aged 50 to 74 go for mammograms when called in by their health maintenance organization (HMO), which is much higher than the OECD average of 60.8%. Early detection through screening programs has been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality and to change the course of the disease.

In addition to the possibility of having a mammogram at one’s HMO clinic, the ICA set up a special team of women who perform the scans for free in mobile vans that travel around the country, especially to the periphery.

The fully equipped vans offer women – including those who are religiously observant and especially insistent on modesty – complete privacy. Since the beginning of the mobile activity, the vans have been able to significantly reduce the gaps between the various sectors and to provide mammography screening for women of low socioeconomic status and women living in the periphery.

Already in 2011, the gaps between Jewish and Arab women were narrowed. In the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sector, the proportion of female examinees is on the rise but still 10% lower than the national average. The ICA mammography unit continues to make early diagnosis possible for women, leading to a reduction in mortality due to breast cancer in Israel.

On average, about 50 Israeli men are diagnosed with the tumor per year.  The cause is not yet clear, but some men seem to have a higher-than-average risk due to being over 60 years of age and having first-degree relatives (men or women) who have or have had breast cancer.