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Sanhedrin Invites Christians to Inaugurate Universal Rosh Hashanah

12 hours 52 min ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There IS a Doctor in the House

13 hours 55 min ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israeli Scientists Implant First Knee Replacement That Regrows Cartilage And Bone

15 hours 41 min ago

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

PSALMS 104:35

16 hours 5 min ago

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

Month of the Shofar

16 hours 17 min ago

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

Biblical Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Making a Shofar

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

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Animals Kosher for Shofar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What makes a Shofar Unfit for Ritual Use

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

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

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

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

Buying a Shofar

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

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

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

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

Ecological Impact of Gaza’s Incendiary Kites and Balloons

18 hours 40 min ago

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

Fewest Number of Israelis Emigrating Since 1990

18 hours 57 min ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 hours 30 min ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-Israel Democrat Wins Minnesota Primary

20 hours 10 min ago

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

She will face Republican Jennifer Zielinski in November.

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

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

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

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

Whitewashing Far-Right Parties in the Middle East

21 hours 19 min ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reprinted with author’s permission from Middle East Forum

Israel is Right to Question Radical Extremists Who Come to Visit

22 hours 18 min ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

Two Israeli Universities in World’s Top 100 Institutions

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 08:40

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perseid Meteor Shower

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 06:07

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

Philippines’ Duterte Confirms Israel Visit

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 05:37

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NUMBERS 28:9

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 05:04

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

Netanyahu Held Clandestine May Meeting With Egyptian President Sisi

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 04:36

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

Hezbollah Chief Claims Terrorist Group Stronger than IDF, Ready for War

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 04:09

In a televised address marking the 12th anniversary of the end of the 34-day Second Lebanon War with Israel in 2006, Hezbollah general secretary Hassan Nasrallah boasted that his forces were stronger than the Israeli army and prepared for a fresh war with Israel.

Nasrallah claimed that the Trump administration was “mistaken” in thinking sanctions would lead to riots in Iran that would topple the regime, or even force Iran to reduce support for activity abroad.

Last week the US began restoring sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in May. The administration says the renewed sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to halt its support for international terrorism, its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programs.

“Iran has been facing sanctions since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979,” Nasrallah said. “He (Trump) is strengthening the sanctions but they have been there since 1979 and Iran stayed and will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the victory of its revolution.”

The Hezbollah leader spoke to thousands of supporters gathered at a rally south of Beirut, where they watched his speech on giant screens as it was broadcast from a secret location.

Iran has been backing Hezbollah financially and militarily since the terror group was established after Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

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A number of protests have broken out against the Iranian regime for the country’s precarious economic situation, with demonstrators calling for an end to military adventurism and financial support for terror groups abroad.

According to the US, Iran sends Hezbollah an estimated $700 million a year.

Speaking about the restoration of the sanctions by Washington, Nasrallah said: “I can tell you and I have accurate information they are building dreams, strategies and projects that Iran will head toward chaos and the regime will fall. This is illusion, this is imagination and has nothing to do with reality.”

He added that Hezbollah is not scared of a possible war with Israel.

“No one should threaten us with war and no one should scare us by war,” he said, adding: “We are not scared or worried about war and we are ready for it and we will be victorious.”

“Hezbollah might not be the strongest army in the Middle East but it is certainly stronger than the Israeli army,” Nasrallah said, according to Lebanese news outlet Naharnet. “Because we have more faith in our cause and greater willingness to sacrifice.”

“The resistance in Lebanon — with its arms, personnel, expertise and capabilities — is stronger than ever,” Nasrallah said.

Most analysts believe Hezbollah has been significantly weakened by years of fighting in Syria to bolster President Bashar Assad. However, Israeli officials say the terror group still has a massive missile arsenal that can threaten much of the country, and that a war will be incredibly damaging to both sides of the Lebanese border.

Nasrallah said Israel would fail to force Hezbollah away from the Syrian Golan border, where Jerusalem fears it and other Iranian proxy groups will set up bases to use for attacks against the Jewish state, and has pushed for Russia to enforce a buffer zone.

“The Israeli enemy, which has been defeated in Syria, is insolently seeking to impose its conditions in Syria, but this will not happen,” he said.

As reported by The Times of Israel

Coming Home: 239 North American Immigrants Arrive in Israel on Nefesh B’Nefesh Flight

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 03:23

On Wednesday, August 15th a flight of 239 Israeli immigrants from 24 US States and three Canadian provinces landed in the Jewish homeland as a part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight. The aliyah (immigration to Israel) flight included 30 families, 90 children and 57 future Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers.

Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh is dedicated to revitalizing North American and UK immigration to Israel by minimizing financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of aliyah. Once with a retention rate of just 40 percent of immigrants, Nefesh B’Nefesh has helped ensure that 90 percent of immigrants remain in Israel. The government mandated aliyah organization has assisted more than 57,000 Western immigrants, contributing to the social, economic and demographic welfare of Israeli society while infusing the country with idealistic enthusiasm and optimism.

Sofa Landver, Minister of Aliyah and Integration welcomed the new immigrants to the Israeli family in the Jewish homeland. “North American aliyah (immigration) both strengthens Israel’s economy and boosts the country’s national pride,” she said.

As young as two months through 81 years old, the average immigrant’s age on the charter flight was just 30 years old, representing emerging leaders, 27 medical professionals and 13 Jewish community professionals.  

The flight, Nefesh B’Nefesh’s 59th charter flight to Israel, was sponsored by Colorado local Heidi Rothberg in coordination with Jewish National Fund USA, and facilitated by Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Karen Kayemet L’Yisrael (KKL), JNF USA and Tsofim-Garin Tzabar.

According to Doreet Freedman, Vice President of Partnerships at Nefesh B’Nefesh, Heidi Rothberg’s father was instrumental in building Israel, growing up with David and Paula Ben Gurion. Her donation, facilitated by JNF, allows these 239 immigrants to follow their dreams.

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“Nefesh B’Nefesh and JNF share a vision of building a vibrant Israel. Where JNF was once planting trees, today they are planting people,” she told Breaking Israel News.

“It is not easy to pick up your roots and move, join an army and another country that does not speak your native tongue, but Nefesh B’Nefesh makes this possible and successful,” Ron Werner, senior lay leader of JNF USA, told Breaking Israel News. “Today we say hinenu– we are here and we are thriving.”

At the farewell ceremony at JFK, Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York, congratulated the immigrants on their decision to take part in the “most amazing adventure of the Jewish people,” maintaining that by making aliyah, the immigrants are the stars, protagonists and scriptwriters of the history of the Jewish people.

To the future IDF soldiers, he said, “You are the link reconnecting Jewish history to this adventure that is the State of Israel. Dozens of generations of Jews persecuted and massacred all around the world could only dream about taking part in a Jewish army and defending Jewish life.

Aaaaand they’re off! 239 soon-to-be Olim will land 7 am Israel time. Watch it live. https://t.co/N3G07Wx4dY #LiveLoveIsrael @JNFUSA pic.twitter.com/C0mjdPxi7y

— Nefesh B’Nefesh (@NefeshBNefesh) August 14, 2018

Upon arrival to Israel, a special welcome ceremony was held at Ben Gurion Airport including: Landver; MK Dr. Michael Oren, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office; Yehuda Scharf, Director of Aliyah, Absorption and Special Operations Department of the Jewish Agency; Yoram Elgrabli, Managing Director of El Al North America; and Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.

“You just took an active role in Jewish history,” said Oren, who claimed that at its core, Zionism is Jewish responsibility. “Only here in this land can we as Jews take responsibility for the wellbeing of this country, and there is no greater Zionist responsibility than making aliyah,” he said.

“We are coming here to show that Israel will remain strong, Israel will remain vital and Israel will remain the nation state of the Jewish people.”

Shapiro Versus Ocasio-Cortes: The Great Debate That Never Was

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 02:58

Last week, conservative political pundit Ben Shapiro challenged Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, ,the 28-year-old Democratic Congressional candidate, to a debate. The challenge was so important to Shapiro that he offered to donate $10,000 to her campaign or a charity of her choice. Ocasio-Cortes refused to debate Shapiro and thus began a battle royale on social media.

It’s a shame, because such an event would be an interesting match. Even though they are both young and rising stars, the two could not be more diametrically opposed. Thirty-four year-old Shapiro is a strident republican and conservative. An Orthodox Jew from Los Angeles, he graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. Though he did not support Donald Trump in the last elections, Shapiro was a sharp critic of Hillary Clinton, frequently referring to her as “the worst candidate in history.” He was even more critical of Bernie Sanders’ platform of social reform. Shapiro is a strong supporter of Israel and his wife is Israeli.

Ocasio -Cortes is of Puerto Rican descent and was raised in the Bronx. She worked as a campaign organizer for Bernie Sanders’ unsuccessful presidential bid and is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. She supports progressive policies such as Medicare for All, a job guarantee, tuition-free public college, ending the privatization of prisons, and enacting gun-control policies; all of which Shapiro opposes. She has stated that she supports the impeachment of President Trump and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). In addition, she has already established herself as a harsh critic of Israel, referring to the IDF shooting Hamas terrorists attempting to cross the Gaza border fence  as a “massacre.”

Last Wednesday, Shapiro challenged Ocasio-Cortes via twitter, noting that she has been called “the future of the Democratic Party.” He cited claims by Ocasio-Cortes that Republicans were afraid to debate her.

Hey, @Ocasio2018, what do you say? pic.twitter.com/lKDtmMc8Us

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 8, 2018

She responded via twitter, comparing the challenge to an unsavory sexual proposition.

Just like catcalling, I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions.

And also like catcalling, for some reason they feel entitled to one. pic.twitter.com/rsD17Oq9qe

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) August 10, 2018

Shapiro did not take kindly to the accusation of impropriety and this led to a twitter storm of  sharp responses.

“Discussion and debate are not ‘bad intentions,’” he wrote in one tweet. “Slandering someone as a sexist catcaller without reason or evidence does demonstrate cowardice and bad intent, however.”

Catcalling must mean something different in Queens.

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 10, 2018

In a phone interview with the New York Times, Shapiro denied there was anything sexist about his offer.

“I would offer Bernie Sanders $50,000 to debate, absolutely,” he said, referring to the Vermont senator. “What in the world does this have to do with her being a woman?”

The exchange has led to open debate on social media with sharply divided opinions, with Ocasio-Cortes supporters noting that she has no obligation to debate a non-politician. Many have criticized her response as unfair, ascribing sexist intent to Shapiro’s straightforward challenge. It is interesting to note that Elle published an article about the challenge. Despite the anti-Shapiro bent of the article, a survey showed that 87 percent of respondents felt she “missed the mark when she compared Shapiro’s invitation to catcalling.”

Ocasio-Cortes’ refusal to debate is an ironic turnaround. A newcomer to politics, her upset victory in the primaries over Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley came after he refused to debate her on several occasions, sending a surrogate in one specific instance. Ocasio-Cortes felt face-to-face debates were such an important part of the democratic process that she went to his office to throw down the gauntlet in person.

My opponent seems to be avoiding a debate, and isn’t acknowledging me. It’s just the 2 of us.

So weekend I stopped by his office, said hello, & asked for a debate in person.

I am the 1st Congressional challenger in 14 years. The Bronx and Queens deserve to know their options. pic.twitter.com/RPVwXyn3Kc

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) May 17, 2018

Shapiro’s challenge comes after many articles on his website, The Daily Wire, have questioned Ocasio-Cortes’ public speaking abilities. He challenged her claim made during a recent interview on Pod Save America in which she said the Democratic party had made a tactical error in focusing on the upper-middle class.

“The upper middle class is probably more moderate but that upper middle class does not exist anymore in America,” she said.

Shapiro cited statistics, saying her claim “should come as a shock to the millions of members of the upper middle class in America, the fastest-growing class in America for decades.”

In another Pod Save America, Ocasio-Cortes was asked how the government would pay for the social programs she advocated. In an article about the interview, Shapiro described her answer as “two minutes of complete babbling” which he summed up in two words: “Um-what?”

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In another article, Shapiro challenged her claim that the cost of socialized medicine could be offset by the savings on funerals.

“And we’re also not talking about why we aren’t incorporating the cost of all the funeral expenses of those who die because they can’t afford access to health care,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with CNN. “That is part of the cost of our system.”

Shapiro dubbed that the “strangest reason ever why socialized medicine is cheaper.”

Shapiro has dedicated many articles to the growing list of Ocasio-Cortes’ speaking gaffs. Ocasio-Cortes, for her part, does not appreciate being criticized and feels it is a sexist attempt to silence her entirely.

1st time female candidate makes small slip on a budgetary figure during extemporaneous interview: “This girl is SO uninformed! She needs to stay quiet until she knows everything!”

Incumbent male Congressman brings a snowball to Congress to “disprove” climate change:

UK: Boris Johnson Sparks ‘Burka-Gate’

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 02:00

“I believe that the public will see this for what it is — an internal Conservative party witch hunt instigated by Number Ten against Boris Johnson, who they see as a huge threat.” — Tory MP Andrew Bridgen.

“Taken to its logical conclusion, the anti-Johnson brigade’s stance would mean that nobody is allowed to offer their view on any matter in case it causes offence. Is that really the kind of country we want to live in? … We live in a country that used to believe passionately in free speech. As we all know, even when exercised with care and responsibility, free speech can and does offend some people. But timid politicians who take the easy option and prefer not to tell people what they really think about things like the burka are killing this vital right.” — Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

“Boris Johnson should not apologise for telling the truth…. [female facial masking is] a nefarious component of a trendy gateway theology for religious extremism and militant Islam…. The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim. Although this deliberate identity-concealing contraption is banned at the Kaaba in Mecca it is permitted in Britain…” — Taj Hargey, imam at Oxford Islamic Congregation.

Former foreign secretary (and possible future prime minister) Boris Johnson sparked a political firestorm after making politically incorrect comments about the burka and the niqab, the face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women.

The ensuing debate over Islamophobia has revealed the extent to which political correctness is stifling free speech in Britain. It has also exposed deep fissures within the Conservative Party over its future direction and leadership.

Pictured: Boris Johnson (the Foreign Secretary) leaves 10 Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on June 12, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

In an August 5 essay published by the Daily Telegraph, Johnson argued that he was opposed to Denmark’s burka ban because the government should not be telling women what they may or may not wear in public. Johnson wrote:

“What has happened, you may ask, to the Danish spirit of live and let live? If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree — and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran. I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes….

“If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery [one-on-one meetings between MPs and their constituents] with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled… to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly. If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber, then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct.”

The response from senior Conservatives was immediate.

Prime Minister Theresa May said that Johnson “was wrong” in the language he used to describe women who use the burka. She added that Johnson had “clearly caused offense” and demanded that he apologize:

“I do think that we all have to be very careful about the language and terms we use. And some of the terms Boris used describing people’s appearance obviously have offended. What’s important is do we believe people should have the right to practice their religion and, in the case of women and the burka and niqab, to choose how they dress. I believe women should be able to choose how they dress.”

Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis also called for Johnson to apologize, as did a long list of current and former ministers and MPs. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve threatened to quit the party if Johnson became leader.

Tory peer Mohamed Sheikh, founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, said that Johnson had “let the genie out of the bottle” and called for Johnson to be removed from the party.

Conservative Member of the House of Lords Sayeeda Warsi — who herself has said that she hopes women in Britain will stop wearing the Islamic face veil within the next 10 or 20 years — accused Johnson of “Islamophobia” and said he should be required to attend diversity training:

“In his Telegraph piece, Johnson was making a liberal argument. He was saying that we shouldn’t ban the burqa, as Denmark has done. But his words signaled something else. He said — not only to those Muslim women who veil, but to many more who associate with a faith in which some women do — that you don’t belong here….

“He set out a liberal position, but he did it in a very ‘alt-right’ way. This allowed him to dog-whistle: to say to particular elements of the party that he’s tough on Muslims. Yet again, he’s trying to have his cake and eat it….

“An apology is now due. But what happens if, as looks likely, it doesn’t come? Every time incidents like this occur in the party and there are no consequences, it sends out a clear message that you can get away with Islamophobia.

“As far as Boris Johnson is concerned, this is surely time for the promised diversity training scheme to kick in.”

Johnson has refused to apologize, and the Conservative Party has now launched an inquiry into whether Johnson’s comments violated its code of conduct, which states that Tory officials and elected representatives must “lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance” and not “use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others.”

Britain’s most senior police officer, Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, said that she had consulted hate-crime specialists and determined that Johnson’s comments did not break the law:

“I know that many people have found this offensive. I also know that many other people believe strongly that in the whole of the article, what Mr Johnson appears to have been attempting to do was to say that there shouldn’t be a ban and that he was engaging in a legitimate debate.

“I spoke last night to my very experienced officers who deal with hate crime and, although we have not yet received any allegation of such a crime, I can tell you that my preliminary view having spoken to them is that what Mr Johnson said would not reach the bar for a criminal offence.”

Johnson’s supporters jumped to his defense. North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said:

“It’s hard to see what he should apologise for. He has defended people’s right to wear the burka whilst saying it is an inelegant garment. Neither of those proposals are unreasonable.”

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen accused May of orchestrating a politically motivated “witch hunt” against Johnson:

“I believe this is politically motivated, by the internal politics of the Tory party, by politicians who want to humiliate and destroy Boris Johnson. I believe that the public will see this for what it is — an internal Conservative party witch hunt instigated by Number Ten against Boris Johnson, who they see as a huge threat.”

In a blog post, Bridgen elaborated:

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“Looking at those who have jumped on the bandwagon of protest, the vast majority appear to be ardent Remain campaigners, who still bewildered that the public could have a different viewpoint to them, still seek to lay the blame at their defeat at the door of Boris Johnson. These same people remained stoney silent when lifelong Remainer Ken Clarke enlightened us with his views of the burka: ‘I do think it’s a most peculiar costume for people to adopt in the 21st century, but that’s not to me for decide, when they’re not engaged in some serious issue such as giving evidence. That’s the bit that I think it’s almost impossible to have a proper trial if one of the persons is in a kind of bag’…

“It is clear that this is not about standing up for the rights of Muslim women to wear the burka, if that is what they really want to do? This is about getting Boris. The great irony of all of this is many EU Countries who those criticising Boris are desperate to stay in political union with have in fact banned the burka. Not the fringe countries but France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and now Denmark, with a partial ban even in the uber-liberal Netherlands.

“I myself, am the chairman of the All-Party Parliament Group for Uzbekistan, a country which is 90% Muslim, enjoys great religious harmony and interestingly which banned face coverings in 1992.

“Unfortunately, in using this issue as a stick to beat Boris, Theresa May and some of the members of her government have shown themselves to be once again totally out of step with the views of the majority of members of the Conservative Party and indeed of the public as a whole.”

The former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, wrote:

“I wonder how many of those who are now jumping up and down calling for Johnson to have the Conservative whip withdrawn [disciplinary measure], or to be expelled from the party altogether, actually read his original Telegraph article which has apparently offended them so much. Had they done so, they would surely remember that he states he does not believe the burka and niqab should be banned in Britain – a ban which is already in full force in EU nations like France, Germany, Denmark, Austria and Belgium.

“Having set out his liberal position, he then augments it by taking up the feminist argument that he thinks it is ‘oppressive’ to force women to cover their faces in public. For emphasis he offers his opinion that it is ‘weird’ and ‘bullying’ to expect them to do so. And then he says it is ‘ridiculous’ that women should go around ‘looking like letter boxes’.

“Absurdly, this opinion has been seized upon as ‘Islamophobic’ or ‘racist’. An essentially liberal commentator is being pilloried for expressing his belief using, what I accept, is rather playful language. But to suggest he should be kicked out of his party is nothing but lunacy. To Boris I say: stand firm…

“Taken to its logical conclusion, the anti-Johnson brigade’s stance would mean that nobody is allowed to offer their view on any matter in case it causes offence. Is that really the kind of country we want to live in? Remember – ironically, we are talking in this case about a politician who has stated he thinks it illiberal to ban the burka…

“We live in a country that used to believe passionately in free speech. As we all know, even when exercised with care and responsibility, free speech can and does offend some people. But timid politicians who take the easy option and prefer not to tell people what they really think about things like the burka are killing this vital right.

“By allowing politics to become too PC, they are damaging democracy in such a way that it will be extremely difficult for future generations to repair, ultimately condemning them to a society where nobody is allowed to be honest about anything.”

An imam at Oxford Islamic Congregation, Taj Hargey, wrote that Johnson did not go far enough:

“Boris Johnson should not apologise for telling the truth. His evocative analogy is unfortunate but he is justified in reminding everyone that the Wahhabi/Salafi-inspired fad of female facial masking has no Koranic legitimacy. It is, however, a nefarious component of a trendy gateway theology for religious extremism and militant Islam.

“The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim. Although this deliberate identity-concealing contraption is banned at the Kaaba in Mecca it is permitted in Britain, thus precipitating security risks, accelerating vitamin D deficiency, endorsing gender-inequality and inhibiting community cohesion.

“It is any wonder that many younger women have internalised this poisonous chauvinism by asserting that it is their human right to hide their faces?

“Johnson did not go far enough. If Britain is to become a fully integrated society then it is incumbent that cultural practices, personal preferences and communal customs that aggravate social division should be firmly resisted.”

Rowan Atkinson, a British comedian also known as Mr. Bean, defended Johnson:

“As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson’s joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one. All jokes about religion cause offence, so it’s pointless apologising for them. You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required.”

A Sky Data Poll published on August 8 found that 60% of Britons surveyed said that it is not racist to compare Muslim women wearing burkas to bank robbers and letter boxes, while 59% were in favor of a burka ban.

An August 1 poll of Tory members by ConservativeHome found that Johnson’s popularity had almost quadrupled since he resigned on July 9 after clashing with May over her vision for Brexit. He is now at the top of the list of favored successors to May.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute