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Anti-Israel Boycott Movement Dealt Major Setback in Cambridge, MA

4 hours 18 min ago

The mayor of Cambridge, Mass., announced last week that a proposed BDS resolution calling on the city to boycott a company doing business with Israel will not appear on the agenda of the next city council meeting, dealing a major setback for BDS advocates.

The proposed resolution was put forward by MA Against HP—a coalition of pro-BDS groups that includes Jewish Voice for Peace, which called on Cambridge not to renew its participation in a program to receive Hewlett-Packard products at a discount and to terminate their relationship with HP. On its website, MA Against HP, accuses the software company of helping Israel “maintain their occupation of Palestinian land” through its technology used by the Israeli government and military.

The group had sought for the resolution to be considered at an April 23 city council meeting.

Situated directly north of Boston, Cambridge is home to both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a statement late last Thursday, Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern said that while the HP issue “concerned him,” he was also concerned about anti-Semitism within the BDS movement.

“As I began to learn more about the issue, I looked more closely at the BDS movement. I became equally concerned about some of their stances and positions,” he said. “As much as I don’t want Cambridge to be indirectly supporting those who engage in human-rights violations, I also don’t want Cambridge associated with a movement that has made anti-Semitic comments.”

Jeremy Burton, executive director of Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, whose group worked alongside the New England affiliates of the American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League to meet with Cambridge city officials, praised the efforts by the Boston Jewish community to come together to combat the BDS movement.

“The efforts of a broad range of our members, partners and individuals in the Cambridge community—both within and beyond the Jewish community—are making a difference. We, and they, are being heard, and several members of the Cambridge City Council are taking their concerns seriously.”

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Lital Carmel, Boston regional director of the Israeli-American Council, similarly praised the mobilization of the Boston Jewish community to act against the BDS resolution.

“I think what we see in the Jewish community is really heartwarming,” Carmel told JNS. “It is phenomenal that JCRC and other Boston Jewish community organizations are so well-organized and in this together—from petitions and letters to city council members to a planned rally. Every organization knows what their role is and is communicating to their own constituencies about this.”

“In my over 10 years working in the Jewish community in the United States,” emphasized Carmel, “this is one of the better examples of how the Jewish community should come together and mobilize against efforts like this.”

According to JCRC, an effort is now underway to put together an alternative resolution with the Cambridge City Council “that affirms a commitment to the protection of human rights, but steers clear of bigoted attempts to single out Israel or any other country.”

Nevertheless, Burton added: “But this is not over. We have to keep organizing and speaking up and working with those councilors who are willing to consider another course of action. Until that happens, we need to be ready every week to mobilize if this is on the agenda.”

Earlier this year, an anti-BDS bill that would have made it illegal for state agencies to do more than $10,000 worth of business with companies that discriminate on the basis of national origin failed to make it past a committee in the Massachusetts legislature.

Some 25 states have passed similar anti-BDS legislation in recent years.

The post Anti-Israel Boycott Movement Dealt Major Setback in Cambridge, MA appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

The Future of Israel Looks Good

4 hours 48 min ago

Introduction

At 70, Israel stands strong, yet debates about its health persist. The radical Israeli Left seems most concerned about the country’s future, arguing that there is great urgency in solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; otherwise, Israel is doomed. The Left contends that Israel’s democratic character, its international legitimacy, and its ability to withstand protracted conflict all are threatened by the ongoing stalemate.

Indeed, Israel has faced existential threats from its neighbors since its establishment. And as a small state, its existence is precarious. Moreover, Jews with a historical consciousness remember that a Jewish state was twice destroyed by powerful empires. So nothing can be taken for granted.

However, this article argues that time seems to be on Israel’s side. A review of the balance of power between Israel and its foes, and of the domestic features molding Israel’s national power (such as its economy, social cohesion, and political system), and of Israel’s standing in the international community, validates the assessment that Israel has the dominant hand for the foreseeable future.

The National Security Arena

The balance of power between Israel and its neighbors is the critical variable in Israel’s quest for survival in a bad neighborhood. As long as the power differential between the Jewish State and its foes is growing, then Israel’s capacity to overcome regional security challenges is assured.

Israel has built a mighty military machine that has been successful in overcoming many military threats, benefiting from skilled and well-motivated manpower, as well as advanced weapons. The military victories have signaled to Israel’s foes that Israel cannot be destroyed by force. Its military superiority largely has contributed to the decline in the intensity of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The last large-scale conventional military encounter that involved aircraft and tanks was in 1982. Moreover, a peace process with Arab states has started, effectively lowering the chances of an Arab-Israeli large-scale conventional war.

Since 1982, Israel has employed force primarily against armed organizations, such as Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist organizations, and Islamist militias, which use a combination of methods: terror, suicide bombings, and guerilla tactics. Israel also increasingly faces the use of missiles launched at its strategic assets and population centers. Terrorism is the weapon of the weak and terrorists are less dangerous than states, although the struggle against them often is costly in blood and treasure.

The capabilities of non-state organizations to harm Israel is amplified by the support they receive from nation states, such as Iran. For example, the arsenal of over 100,000 missiles in the hands of Hizballah poses a very serious challenge for Israel. The enemy strategy is to inflict pain on Israel and to test its resolve. Israel has established a multi-layered anti-missile system, but this is unlikely to provide foolproof defense.

Israel’s anti-missile systems are impressive. The Iron Dome batteries deployed to intercept missile threats of up to 70 kilometers registered an impressive record of 88 percent interception rate in Gaza encounters. The David’s Sling missile defense system for meeting threats of up to 300 kilometers is also operational. Israel also deployed Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 interceptors, designed to work against long-range missiles. The defensive perimeter established reflects the excellence of Israel’s military industries, an important component in Israel’s military superiority. But again, these systems cannot provide a full defense in view of the numbers of missiles arrayed against Israel.

Israel has also developed a nuclear option, buttressing its image of a strong state. Such weapons serve as a constant reminder that attempts to destroy the Jewish state could be extremely costly. They have a deterrent value primarily against hostile states.

In contrast, Israel’s rivals in the Arab world suffer from great weakness. Their stagnant societies still grapple with the challenge of modernity as the upheavals in the Arab world indicate. Their ability to militarily challenge the status quo is limited.1

In short, over time Israel has become stronger, while its enemies, with the exception of Iran, have become increasingly weaker.

The only grave national security challenge in the region is a nuclear Iran. Such a development is not only a direct threat to Israel, but also could start a chain of nuclear proliferation, a change in the regional balance of power, and an Iranian takeover of the energy resources in the Gulf and Caspian Basin. While the world has become more attentive to Israel’s perspective on this matter, the international community, by supporting the July 2015 JCPOA, has failed to stop Iranian progress in the quest for a nuclear arsenal. It is quite possible that Israel may be left on its own in dealing with the Ayatollah’s nuclear aspirations. Fortunately, obstruction and perhaps even destruction of the Iranian nuclear program is not beyond the capabilities of Israel.

A Strong Economy

Military and economic power are related and reinforce each other. Israel’s edge over its Arab neighbors continues to grow also because of its economic prowess. Israel’s strong economy is a result of wise economic policies, stressing market values, and adapting to globalization. Israel is one of the most developed market economies with substantial, though diminishing, government participation. The main driver of the economy is the science and technology sector. Israel’s manufacturing and agriculture, despite limited natural resources, is highly developed and sophisticated.

In recognition of Israel’s economic achievements, Israel was admitted in 2010 to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which brings together the 33 most developed countries that are committed to democracy and market economy.

After years of annual growth rates above 5 percent, the economic expansion has been slowing down. In 2016, the growth was 4 percent and in 2017 it was 3.4 percent. Yet, the long-term projection for 2020 is 4.1 percent. Israel also managed to reduce its debt/GDP ratio from 100 percent in 2002 to 74 percent in 2012 and to 61.9 percent in 2017. The forecast is the continuous decline, while most of the world experiences a soaring ratio. Israel’s 2012 budget deficit and unemployment were 4.2 percent and 6.9 percent respectively. In 2016, the respective figures were 2.5 and just above 4 percent. These figures are much lower than the OECD average. Indeed, all international economic institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank commended Israel’s economic performance and expressed confidence in its long-term viability.

Israel is also an attractive site for overseas investors, particularly in the high-tech area.2 Scores of major US manufacturers, including General Electric, General Motors, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Apple, and others, have R&D centers in Israel. Some 300 US high-tech companies have R&D presence in Israel, and many overseas entrepreneurs invest in and/or acquire Israeli high-tech companies. Israel is a global leader in microchip design, network algorithms, medical instruments, water management and desalinization, agriculture, missile defense, robotic warfare, and UAVs. The successful integration into a globalized economy also testifies to the fact that Israel is not isolated in the international community – an issue discussed below.

Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin, as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed. Most important, 4.5 percent of its GDP goes to research and development, the highest proportion in the world.

Israel’s robust demography, a record high fertility rate in Western countries of three births per woman, provides a tailwind for its economy. Moreover, Israel’s government is developing programs for training better the Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox sectors to increase their participation in Israel’s workforce. Additional qualified manpower is an important element in economic growth. Moreover, the natural gas findings in Israel’s economic zone in the Mediterranean allow Israel to enhance its economic viability and achieve energy independence.

Sustained economic growth requires responsible economic policies and ability to resist populist demands. So far, Israel’s political leaders have met this challenge, and there are signs that the political system has internalized the need to continue such policies.

Despite the remarkable economic progress, Israel’s 2016 GDP per capita is $37,292 (less than most Western countries), leaving room for further improvement. Nevertheless, Israel’s 2016 $318,7 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined, Moreover, Israel’s expanding economy can afford larger defense outlays to meet its national security challenges, and the resources to ensure continued R&D for winning future wars.

A Strong Society

People who portray Israel as a deeply-divided society – a society split into separate tribes – are mistaken. In fact, social cohesion in Israel is greater than ever before. Most of Israel’s social rifts have been bridged creating a stronger society. This is good news for the ability of Israeli society to withstand the inevitable tests of protracted conflict in the future.

Significantly, the acerbic ideological debate over the future of the territories acquired in 1967 is over. The Sinai that was traded for a peace treaty in 1979, the Golan Heights that was de facto annexed in 1981, and Gaza that was evacuated in 2005, is no longer bones of contention.  Over two-thirds of Israelis oppose any territorial concessions in the Golan Heights. The civil war in Syria has only solidified such positions.

Concerning Judea and Samaria, there is a great majority in favor of partition – which is the historical Zionist approach. But large majorities also insist on retaining the settlement blocs, holding Jerusalem (the Temple Mount in particular), and the Jordan Rift. The establishment of a Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994 amounts to another de facto partition, albeit a messy one. Skepticism over the state-building ability of the Palestinians is widespread, but very few Israelis advocate annexing the cities of the West Bank. Moreover, Israel built a security barrier in the West Bank in 2002, signaling the determination to disengage from the main Palestinian population centers and marking a potential future border.

The current territorial debate is not couched in ideological reasoning, but in a pragmatic assessment of what is needed for Israel’s security and what is least costly in terms of domestic politics. The expectations of the mid-1990s for peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians have been replaced by a real consensus that peace is not around the corner. The Israeli public is largely reconciled to the idea that Israel will have to live by its sword for the foreseeable future, and most of the public is ready to pay the price of the long-term struggle. Managing the conflict with the Palestinians has become the mainstream position in Israel, for lack of a better option.

Israelis reject the argument that the continuation of the current impasse in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations inevitably constitutes a demographic dynamic leading to a bi-national state. Israel’s willingness to partition the territory, and the ability of the political system to disengage unilaterally from territory heavily populated by Arabs, nullifies the “demographic” argument. Just as Israel is not concerned by the numbers of babies born in Amman, Jordan, it is not overly concerned by the fertility rate of the Arab woman in Nablus, in the West Bank either.

Israelis understand that, alas, they are locked into a long-term, tragic conflict with the Palestinians; and they have the patience to wait for better times. Palestinian rejection of Israeli partition proposals (from Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2007) has strengthened the feeling of “ein breira” (there is no choice) – meaning the conflict must simply be managed. This consensus is an important asset in terms of Israel’s ability to fight future wars, if necessary. And thus, criticism of far Left in Israel and of foreign observers regarding Israeli West Bank policy can be dismissed. It hasn’t cracked the Israeli consensus.

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Similarly, debates over Israel’s preferred economic regime have long disappeared. Nearly all Israelis agree that capitalism is the best way to create further wealth. Government policies along such lines are widely supported. The Likud and primarily Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu advocated a market economy and have been in power for most of the last two decades.

Another long-simmering social rift, the Ashkenazi-Sephardic cleavage, is gradually attenuating. The number of “intermarriages” is on the rise, obfuscating ethnic differences. The past three decades have seen a dramatic increase in the proportion of university students of Sephardic origin and a similar growth in the ranks of the senior officers of the IDF. Their numbers in municipal and national politics increased significantly.

The only rift within Israeli society which is still of great social, cultural, and political importance is the religious-secular divide. Despite efforts to mitigate the consequences of the growing estrangement of the secular sector from traditional values and Jewish culture, we are in the midst of a Kulturkampf.3 However, this situation does not differ greatly from the afflictions of identity politics faced by other Western societies.

Moreover, the conflict is not between two clearly defined camps. The number of those defining themselves as secular is diminishing (only 40 percent), while a growing number of Israelis identify themselves as traditionalists, in the middle of the orthodox-secular continuum. The proportion of the Orthodox in society is also growing. Precisely because there are Jews of different degrees of observance and knowledge, there is room for mediation and a modicum of understanding.

Not everything is perfect in the Israeli society and economy. There is some violence in the streets and in the schools; the education system has problems; the gap between rich and poor is too large; economic competition is insufficient, and housing prices are too high. Nevertheless, a Gallup poll of 2017 rates Israel eleventh in the world in terms of happiness. As well, over 90 percent of the Jews in Israel consistently are proud to be Israeli. Ascribing dissatisfaction and discord to Israeli society at large is simply wrong.

A Flourishing Democracy

Part of the frustrated Israeli Left argues that Israel’s democracy is in danger. The frustration stems from the fact that for more than two decades the Left has failed to garner support in the electoral arena for its policies. Yet Israel’s democracy is alive and well. It is far more vibrant and open than it was during the days of the Labor Party’s hegemony (1948-1977). The end of the hegemonic party era democratized Israel’s political system, allowing for new forces to appear on the political stage and for greater social mobility.

The erosion of socialist practices and privatization of a centralized economy contributed to the growth of a non-Ashkenazi middle class. Social mobility has also been enhanced by a greater access to higher learning. During the post-1977 period, a large number of colleges of varying quality were opened and competed with the established universities for students and resources. Over time Israel has also seen slightly less influence of central power at the municipal level, allowing for the emergence of new foci of power and a new venue for leadership recruitment.

A pivotal component of any democracy is the judicial system. The ascendance of the Israeli Supreme Court to its current elevated status started after the decline of Labor. It was Prime Minister Menachem Begin who encouraged a more active role for the Supreme Court, and he was instrumental in the nomination of the interventionist Aharon Barak to the Supreme Court in 1978. The independence of the police and the judicial system in Israel has drastically increased in recent years. Israel’s judicial system fearlessly prosecuted a president, prime minister, and cabinet ministers, becoming the subject of envy in many democratic states. Attempts to curtail Supreme Court activism are underway by appointing more conservative judges. Redressing the balance among the government, Parliament and Supreme Court is part of a democratic process.

The media – the watchdog of democracy – was totally transformed after 1977. The mobilized written and electronic press disappeared. In their place, a plethora of media outlets with different agendas emerged. Most of the written and electronic media, as well as the new social media, is free and fills its duties as the watching dog of the politicians. There is also greater sensitivity and corresponding legislature for equality among women and disadvantaged groups.

The IDF is a favorite address for criticism. It is accused of having disproportionate clout in the decision-making process and of breeding militarism in Israel’s society. Nothing is further from the truth. Labor convictions are no longer a necessary condition for being appointed to the position of chief-of-staff. The military actually became more representative of the demographic trends and the growing social mobility. Its ranks include new immigrants, Sephardi, and members of the national-religious camp, the latter making part of the Ashkenazi old elite feel uncomfortable.

After 1977, the military displayed more professionalism and has actually been more obedient in accepting the judgment of the elected political leadership in decision-making.4 The military was kept in the dark during the negotiations of the September 1993 Oslo Accords. It also recommended against the May 2000 unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. The three most important strategic decisions since 1993 were implemented despite lack of support from the IDF, proving that Israel does not have an army-dominated militaristic government.

While there is always room for improvement, Israeli democracy is thriving and fares better on most scores that in the past. Complaints from the Left about Israeli democracy is basically sour grapes, stemming from the fact that the wisdom of the Left has been rejected by the electorate.

The International Arena

Since Israel’s establishment, Arab countries have sought to isolate Israel and deny it international legitimacy. Yet a review of Israel’s contemporary interactions with the international community shows that Israel is not at all isolated. The international campaign to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel (BDS), initiated by the Palestinians, has failed to make a real dent on Israel’s diplomatic status and flourishing economy and has only marginally affected its cultural life.

Vicious criticism of Israel, particularly at the morally bankrupt United Nations, has the little practical effect on bilateral relations between Israel and most states. At the end of 2017, Israel had diplomatic relations with 158 states out of 193 UN members. Considering that most Arab states and additional Muslim countries do not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, Israel’s diplomatic network cannot be much wider.

The emergence of a victorious US at the end of the Cold War bode well for Israel, a valued American ally. Many important countries decided to improve relations with the Jewish state which was perceived as a good conduit to Washington and a strong state, militarily, economically and technologically. The year 1992 marked the establishment of ambassadorial relations by important states such as China, India, Turkey, and Nigeria.

Following its win in the 1991 Gulf War, the US convened the November 1991 Madrid conference, which marked greater Arab acceptance of Israel. The Arab League peace initiative (2002) and the Arab states’ presence at the Annapolis gathering (2007) indicate the continuation of this trend. While the rise of Islam in the region is problematic for Israel, Egypt and Jordan still cling to their peace treaties with Israel. Israel strengthened its informal dealings with Arab states in the Gulf and in the Maghreb. Israel conducts extensive, if quiet, trade relations with the Arab world, nullifying much of the Arab economic boycott’s impact. Moreover, the ascendance of Iran in Middle East politics and its nuclear threat makes Israel a potential ally of the moderate Sunni Arab states.

Significantly, relations with the Muslim world have improved as Israel has established cordial relations with Muslim states that emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet empire in the Caucasus and Central Asia, such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The Muslim identity of their populations hardly hinders relations with Jerusalem in areas important to their national interests.

The ups and mostly downs in Israeli-Palestinian relations have a little impact on how states conduct their bilateral relations with Israel. Actually, the failures of the Palestinian national movement and the ascent of Hamas in Palestinian politics have elicited greater understanding for the Israeli predicament. The 9/11 attacks and the rise of the Islamic State organization further sensitized much of the world to Israel’s dilemmas in fighting Palestinian terrorism. Moreover, the challenge of terrorism and radical Islam have pushed many states to seek cooperation with Israel in counter-terrorism.

The two most populous and dynamic states on the world scene – India and China, rising global powers – evince a high level of friendship for Israel. Both are old civilizations that have not been burdened by anti-Semitic baggage. They treat the Jewish State with reverence, seeing in Israel an old civilization that has reached remarkable achievements. Israel also has been very successful in forging a strategic partnership with India.

Finally, Israel’s ties with the most important country in the world, the US, have greatly improved since 1973. The increasingly institutionalized strategic relationship is very strong. The US will continue to be the leading global power for some time to come, which is good for its small ally Israel.

It is noteworthy that the level of the American public support for Israel has remained remarkably stable over the past four decades, at around 65 percent. This also translates into congressional support, and it stands independent of any Jewish lobby. Even Israel’s use of force, which is criticized in many parts of the world, is well accepted and seen similar to the American way of war.5

The events of the “Arab Spring” also have strengthened Israel’s status as a stable and reliable ally in a region fraught with uncertainty. The Netanyahu government survived with relatively little damage from President Barack Obama presidency and has lived to see President Donald Trump move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Hopefully, this move will be emulated by other states, lending even greater international legitimacy to Israel.

Conclusion

Despite that not everything is perfect in the Holy Land, Israel’s time vector seems to be positive. Israel is a prosperous and vibrant democracy that maintains strong internal social cohesion. In parallel, Israel’s international status has improved, and support for Israel in the US, its main ally and the main hegemonic power in international affairs, remains very high. Moreover, the Jewish state is widely recognized as an entrenched reality even by Arab and Muslim states. Israel has built a mighty military machine that can parry all regional threats. The IDF remains the most capable military in the region, with the motivation, equipment, and training to overcome the capabilities of any regional challenger. Only, a nuclear Iran would be a negative game changer in the strategic equation, and everything should be done to prevent this development.

Discontinuities in Israel’s political, social, and economic fortunes are unlikely. This means that time is on Israel’s side. The zeitgeist of this epoch, which stresses democracy and free-market values, also favors Israel – as opposed to its Muslim opponents. They remain in great socioeconomic and political crisis.

At 70, Israel is a great success story. If it continues prudent domestic and foreign policies and remains successful in transmitting a Zionist ethos to future generations, its future looks bright. While peace with all Israel’s neighbors is desirable, that eventuality is not a necessary condition for Israel’s survival or prosperity in the medium- to long-term.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

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Israel Alarmed After Video of M-16 Shootings at Bedouin Wedding

5 hours 18 min ago

Israeli police said on Sunday that they would renew efforts to crack down on illegal weapons after a video of a Bedouin wedding party shooting automatic weapons into the air caused outrage in Israel.

Police have identified and arrested several people seen in the video shooting M-16 assault rifles from their cars in Israel’s south. The groom was among those detained, according to a police statement.

The ownership of firearms is strictly regulated in Israel, with most Israelis ineligible to possess them. Those who do pass background checks and qualify for personal weaponry are typically restricted to one personal defense weapon, usually a pistol. Weapons more advanced than handguns are reserved for law enforcement and army personnel.

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Police said they seized “unprecedented” numbers of illegal weapons in 2017, “especially in Arab communities.”

Southern Israel has encountered many incidents of lawlessness from members of the Bedouin community, with Israel Defense Forces’ bases and farms in the Negev fighting a trend of theft by Bedouins who live nearby.

On Sunday, police announced that two Bedouin Israelis were arrested in March for selling guns stolen from army bases to a Palestinian black-market weapons dealer.

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Natalie Portman’s Double Standards

5 hours 47 min ago

Natalie Portman’s refusal to come to Israel has created quite a buzz. From The Washington Post to The Guardian, from The Telegraph to Reuters, the headlines are similar and homogeneous: “Portman won’t visit Israel due to recent events.”

Most reports attributed the actress’ refusal to the events in Gaza, following claims that innocent people had been shot. In a clarification statement issued Saturday, Portman implied that she decided not to come to Israel because of the refugee issue.

But the clarification arrived too late. The refusal to come to Israel was seen, rightly, as a move aimed at reinforcing the boycott. Israel’s haters haven’t received such a significant gift in a long time.

The protest, any protest, is part of the democratic discourse. There is a difference, however, between the public debate in Israel and Portman’s boycott, because Israel has been receiving a hefty, exaggerated and obsessive dose of demonization. Portman didn’t help the relevant criticism; she helped the demonization campaign.

Countries like Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, and definitely in the United States have been making the decision on refugees and asylum seekers. The decisions generate criticism and a public debate, as well as judicial decisions. But no one has chosen to boycott those countries, or ceremonies that are held in those countries, or the leaders of those countries, because of controversial decisions.

When it comes to a boycott of Israel or “only” of the Israeli prime minister, the boycott is much more serious, because Israel is the only country in the world forced to deal with a propaganda of horrors. The claims against Israel are based on a worldwide propaganda of lies. It’s not that Israel can’t be criticized. But people of moral and conscience should speak out against the propaganda of horrors rather than reinforce it.

Portman’s move joins the march of double standards against Israel. When Israel defends itself against jihad organizations, like Hamas and Hezbollah, every Israeli response is turned into “crimes against humanity.” Is every country allowed to defend itself, excluding Israel? Are the US, France, and Britain allowed to strike in Syria—although it doesn’t pose an existential threat to them—while Israel is forbidden to retaliate against those who are trying to harm it and who also happens to hold an ideology of annihilating Jews? The boycott supporters are not just hypocritical. They are carrying out a moral crime against one nation of all nations.

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Dear Ms. Portman, we’ve had enough of these double standards, even when they come from those who claim to “love Israel.” Anyone who loves Israel should understand it’s a democracy. Anyone who loves Israel doesn’t use double standards and doesn’t boycott. Anyone who boycotts Israel bolsters our haters, the demonization campaign and the boycott movement, which opposes Israel’s actual existence.

Portman says she doesn’t want to bolster Benjamin Netanyahu by appearing beside him. Well, I have news for Portman. We constantly voice claims against the prime minister. Even you, Ms. Portman, have voiced blatant criticism against Netanyahu in the past. And although the prize committee includes a member representing the prime minister, the committee decided to give you the prize. That’s Israel’s democracy. We are proud of it.

We know that our law enforcement systems are functioning. We have already sent a president and a prime minister to jail. We aren’t proud of it, but we do take pride in the fact that Israel is a law-abiding state. The current prime minister is under investigation too, because Israel is a democracy and a law-abiding state. But a boycott? Absolutely not. That is not the way to fix something. That’s the most efficient way to bolster Israel’s haters.

The BDS movement is already celebrating following Portman’s boycott and has even added her to its ranks. No clarification on the issue is going to help. By refusing to come to Israel to receive the prize, Portman gave a prize to the anti-Israel propaganda, which isn’t fighting for a more liberal, humane or democratic Israel, but for Israel’s destruction. I assume that wasn’t Portman’s intention, but that’s the result. Portman is invited to review the reactions, in the world and on social media, to her boycott announcement. If she has any integrity, she’ll realize she has made a mistake.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News

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Christian and Jewish LeaderS Honor Muslim Country’s Ties With Israel, on Capitol Hill

6 hours 18 min ago

Nearly two-dozen Jewish, Christian and congressional leaders turned out last week for a special event on Capitol Hill to honor Azerbaijan’s longstanding support for Israel amid its 70th-anniversary celebrations.

The event, attended by Northwood Church’s Founding Pastor Bob Roberts Jr., Eagles’ Wings founder and executive director Bishop Robert Stearns, and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s President Rabbi Marc Schneier, focused on the close relationship that Azerbaijan and Israel share, and how it should serve as a model for other Muslim nations.

“On the eve of Israel’s 70th anniversary, today we celebrate the authentic relationship between the Muslim nation of Azerbaijan and Israel. There are 57 Muslim nations, but when it comes to their support of Israel, Azerbaijan is number one,” said Schneier.

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Azerbaijan, a predominantly Shi’ite Muslim country in central Asia bordering Iran and Russia, has enjoyed close relations with Israel for the past 25 years. Both countries cooperate closely on security, geopolitical and military issues, and have expanded economic relations in recent years, especially in the field of high-tech.

Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the United States Elin Suleymanov said that Israel is one of his country’s “strongest” partners in the region.

“Azerbaijan is proud of its history of inclusiveness and its vibrant Jewish community,” said Suleymanov. “Our strong, growing partnership with Israel has a special meaning today as Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary and Azerbaijan marks the Centennial of the first-ever democratic republic in the Muslim world. The relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel stands as a pioneering example of what is possible.”

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NATO’s Turkey Challenge

6 hours 48 min ago

In an inarticulate but important statement, then-National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said in a December 2017 closed-door session that the Islamist threat has been “myopically” treated in the past: “We didn’t pay enough attention how [Islamist ideology] is being advanced through charities, madrassas and other social organizations.” Alluding to prior Saudi support for such institutions, he noted that it “is now done more by Qatar and by Turkey.”

Dwelling on Turkey, he added that “A lot of Islamist groups have learned from” its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP). The Turks, he went on, offer a model of “operating through civil society, then the education sector, then the police and judiciary, and then the military to consolidate power in the hands of a particular party, which is something we’d prefer not to see and is sadly contributing to the drift of Turkey away from the West.”

McMaster’s frank comments raised eyebrows for breaking with the usual Washington patter that nostalgically recalls the Korean War followed by decades of near-sacral joint membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). His mention of Turkey drifting away from the West raises several questions: Beyond pious words, how real is the NATO alliance in 2018? Should Turkey even remain a NATO partner? Does NATO still have a mission in the post-Soviet era? If so, what is it?

NATO and Islamism

To understand NATO’s mission, let’s return to the alliance’ founding on April 4, 1949. The Washington Treaty establishing it had enunciated a clear goal: to “safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of member states’ peoples founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.” In other words, NATO-protected Western civilization. At the time, yes, that meant allying against communism, so NATO focused on the Soviet threat for 42 long years. Then, one day in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact vaporized, the alliance faced a crisis of success.

An existential period of self-questioning ensued, asking whether the alliance should continue to exist and whom it might be protecting against. (As it turns out, Russia eventually returned as an opponent, but that is not our topic here.) The most convincing answers offered held that, yes, NATO should continue, and mobilize defenses against the new great totalitarian threat, Islamism. Fascists, communists, and Islamists differ one from the other in many ways, but they share a common dream of radical utopianism, of molding a superior human who exists to serve his government.

The new Islamist enemy rose to global prominence just as the prior one had been defeated, quickly dispelling airy notions about a liberal consensus or the “end of history.” In 1977, Islamists took power in Bangladesh; in 1979, in Iran. Also in 1979, the government of Saudi Arabia turned sharply toward radicalism. In 1989, Islamists took over in Sudan; in 1996, in most of Afghanistan.

Jihadi attacks on NATO members, and especially the United States, proliferated during this period. Some 800 Americans lost their lives to Islamist violence before 9/11, with the attempted 1993 World Trade Center bombing offering the best insight into the Islamists’ supreme ambitions.

By 1995, this threat had become sufficiently apparent that NATO Secretary General Willy Claes compared Islamism to his organization’s historic foe: “Fundamentalism is at least as dangerous as communism was.” With the Cold War over, he added, “Islamic militancy has emerged as perhaps the single gravest threat to the NATO alliance and to Western security.” In 2004, former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar made similar points: “Islamist terrorism is a new shared threat of a global nature that places the very existence of NATO’s members at risk.” He advocated that the alliance focuses on combating “Islamic jihadism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” He called for nothing less than “placing the war against Islamic jihadism at the center of the Allied strategy.”

So, right from the beginning of the post-Soviet era, perceptive leaders called for NATO to focus on Western civilization’s new main threat, Islamism.

The Islamist Threat

Two countries then symbolized that threat: Afghanistan and Turkey. They represented, respectively, unprecedented external and internal challenges to NATO.

Article 5 of the NATO charter, the critical clause requiring “collective self-defense,” was invoked for the first and only time not during the Cuban missile crisis or the Vietnam war but a day after the 9/11 attack. To emphasize: not the Soviet, Chinese, North Korean, Vietnamese, or Cuban Communists but Al-Qaeda and the Taliban hiding in the caves of a peripheral country (Afghanistan) prompted a member state to take this momentous step. That’s because Islamists, not Communists, dared strike the American centers of power in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Further, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are but a small part of the global jihad movement. The Iranian nuclear buildup, now with a legitimate path to making bombs within the decade, represents the single most deadly problem, especially when one factors in the apocalyptic regime ruling in Tehran and the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse attack.

Small-scale attacks present less danger but occur constantly, from a mosque in Egypt to a bridge in London to a coffee shop in Sydney. Islamist insurgencies have sparked civil wars (in Mali, Libya, Yemen, and Syria) and semi-civil wars (in Nigeria, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan). For five months, a branch of ISIS held the city of Marawi in the Philippines. Jihadi attacks occur in non-NATO countries with Muslim majorities and minorities alike: Argentina, Sweden, Russia, Israel, India, Myanmar(Burma), Thailand, and China.

Jihadis have also struck many NATO members, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Bulgaria. Beyond political debilitation and terror, these attacks have seriously impaired military capabilities by reducing training and distracting up to 40 percent of the active military forces from their core mission and instead of doing police work – protecting synagogues, schools, and police stations.

And then there is Turkey.

Dictatorial, Anti-Western, and Anti-NATO Turkey

In the good old days, NATO provided Turkey with security, primarily against the Soviet Union; in turn, Turkey offered it an invaluable southern flank. Even today, Turkey has NATO’s second largest military; combined with Americans, they make-up, 3.4 million out of 7.4 million troops; together, the two countries contribute 46 percent of the total from 29 allies.

But much changed with the AKP’s parliamentary victory in November 2002. Erdoğan famously stated soon after that “Turkey is not a country where moderate Islam prevails,” and he lived up to that promise, with his government sponsoring Islamic schools, regulating male-female relations, alcohol, mosque building, and more broadly seeking to rear a “pious generation.”

Erdoğan’s rule has built on Islamism’s despotic nature: he rigged elections, arrested dissident journalists on terrorism charges, created a private army, SADAT, had his police engage in torture, and staged a coup d’état. On the last point: the alleged coup of July 2016 gave the government the opportunity to detain, arrest, or fire over 200,000 Turks, shutter some 130 news outlets, and jail 81 journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls Turkey “the world’s biggest prison for journalists.”

Without many noticing, a near-civil war now rages in Turkey’s southeast, as Erdoğan appeases his new Turkish nationalist allies by trying to eliminate the expression of Kurdish language, culture, and political aspirations. Fear spreads, totalitarianism looms.

NATO’s direct problems with Turkey began on March 1, 2003, when the AKP-dominated parliament denied American forces access to Turkish airspace to conduct the war against Saddam Hussein.

The Turkish government threatens to overrun Europe with Syrian refugees. It obstructs NATO relations with close allies such as Austria, Cyprus, and Israel. It has sponsored a turn of Turkish opinion against the West, in particular against the United States and Germany. As an example of this hostility, the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, tweeted in September 2017 that he prayed for more storm damage after two major hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, ravaged parts of the United States.

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Ankara has taken Germans and Americans as hostages for political leverage. Deniz Yücel, a German journalist of Turkish origins, was jailed for a year until the German government agreed to upgrade Turkey’s tanks. Peter Steudtner, a German human rights activist, spent several months in jail. Andrew Brunson, the Protestant pastor, is the most conspicuous American hostage but there are others, including Ismail Kul, a chemistry professor, his brother Mustafa, and Serkan Gölge, a NASA physicist.

To put this in personal terms, I (and many other analysts of Turkey) cannot even change planes in Istanbul out of fear of being arrested and thrown in jail, serving as a hostage to be traded for some real or imagined Turkish criminal in the United States. Imagine that: Turkey, a supposed ally, is the only country in the world I fear arrest on arrival.

Dissident Turks in Germany have either been assassinated or fear assassinations, such as Yüksel Koç, co-chair of the European Kurdish Democratic Society Congress. Additionally, thugs in Turkish government employ have attacked Americans in the United States, most notably, at the Brookings Institution in 2016 and at Sheridan Circle, outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, in 2017.

The Turkish government sides with Tehran in various ways: it helped the Iranian nuclear program, assisted with the development of Iranian oil fields, helped transfer Iranian arms to Hezbollah, and joined in supporting Hamas. The Iranian chief of staff visited Ankara, perhaps to develop a joint effort against the Kurds. Ankara joined the Astana talks with the Iranian, Russian, and Turkish governments to decide Syria’s destiny.

Erdoğan has quasi-joined the Shanghai Cooperative Organization; while a bit of a sham, it is the closest thing to a Russian-Chinese counterpart to NATO. Turkish troops have engaged in joint exercises with Chinese and Russian militaries. Most significantly, the Turkish armed forces are deploying the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, a step wildly inconsistent with NATO membership.

Then there is the Aegean Army. Yiğit Bulut, a top aide to Erdoğan, stated in February 2018 that Turkey needs a force “fortified with Russian and Chinese-made fighter jets because one day [the U.S. government] … may very well consider attacking Turkey.” Not exactly, you might observe, the sentiments of an ally.

And if that sounds conspiratorially kooky, the possibility does exist, as of this writing, of a U.S.-Turkish confrontation in the Syrian town of Manbij. Tensions have reached such a point that a White House statement informs us that President Trump “urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces.”

Turkey Distorts NATO

In addition to its hostility, Turkey’s presence in NATO distorts the alliance. NATO should be about fighting Islamism. But if Islamists are already within the tent, how is the alliance going to do so?

This dilemma became public in 2009, with the term of Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Schefferending in July. A consensus existed that the new secretary general should be the Danish Prime Minister since 2006, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. In other words, he was the country’s prime minister during the Danish cartoon crisis. When Muslim-majority country governments, including the Turkish one, pressed him to take actions against the cartoons, he very correctly stated: “I am the Prime Minister of a modern, free country, I can’t tell papers what to print or not to print, it’s their responsibility”. He even refused to meet with a delegation of ambassadors from Muslim majority countries.

Three years later, however, with Rasmussen a candidate for secretary general of NATO, the Turkish government had its say. Then-Prime Minister Erdoğan recalled the cartoon crisis: “I asked for a meeting of Islamic leaders in [Denmark] to explain what is going on and he refused, so how can he contribute to peace?” A lot of bargaining followed, ending in a compromise: Rasmussen was appointed secretary-general on condition he publicly appeases Erdoğan, which he did: “I would make a very clear outreach to the Muslim world. To ensure cooperation and intensify dialogue. I consider Turkey a very important ally and strategic partner, and I will cooperate with it and our endeavors to ensure the best cooperation with the Muslim world”. Translated out of bureaucratese, he said: “I wouldn’t do anything to upset the prime minister of Turkey.”

This signaled, obviously, not a robust NATO leading the fight against Islamism, but an institution hobbled from within and incapable of standing up to one of its two main threats for fear of offending a member government. I personally witnessed this when a NATO Parliamentary Assembly delegation walked out of a meeting my organization had prepared, in deference to its Turkish members.

What to Do

NATO faces a dilemma and choice: Freeze Turkey out, as I advocate, or to keep it in, as is the institutional instinct. My argument holds that Ankara takes steps hostile to NATO, is not an ally, and obstructs the necessary focus on Islamism. In short, Turkey is the first member state go over to the enemy camp, where it will likely remain for a long time.

The argument to keep Turkey in boils down to Yes, Turkey under Erdoğan is wayward but NATO membership allows a modicum of influence over it until it returns, as it will eventually. Or, in Steven Cook‘s formulation, “Turkey remains important less because it can be helpful but more because of the trouble that Ankara can cause.”

So, which is a higher priority? Free NATO to fulfill its mission? Or maintain influence over Ankara? It comes down to a sense of how long Turkey will remain Islamist, dictatorial, and heading toward rogue status. Seeing the wide anti-Western consensus in Turkey, I want NATO free to be NATO.

Analysts (including myself in 2009) who agree with this conclusion sometimes say, “throw Turkey out”; but NATO lacks a mechanism for expulsion, as no one imagined the current problem back in 1949. That said, many steps are available to diminish relations with Ankara and reduce Turkey’s role in NATO.

Abandon Incirlik Air Base: Ankara capriciously restricts access to Incirlik (prompting German troops to depart it) and the base is perilously close to Syria, the world’s most active and dangerous war zone. Plenty of alternate sites exist, for example, in Romania and Jordan. According to some accounts, this process has already begun.

Pull American nuclear weapons: Incirlik hosts an estimated 50 nuclear bombs; they should be removed immediately. This vestige of the Cold War makes no military sense and, reportedly, planes based at Incirlik cannot even load these weapons. Worse, it is just conceivable that the host government might seize these arms.

Cancel arms sales: The U.S. Congress overrode an Executive Branch decision in 2017, rejecting a proposed personal arms sale in response to the Turks’ DC thuggery. Far more importantly, the sale of F-35 aircraft, the most advanced fighter plane in the American arsenal, must be blocked.

Ignore Article 5 or other requests for help: Turkish aggression must not drag NATO members into war because of the Kurds, and they have made this clear. In reaction, Erdoğan needles NATO for the benefit his domestic audience: “Hey NATO, where are you? We came in response to the calls on Afghanistan, Somalia and the Balkans, and now I am making the call, let’s go to Syria. Why don’t you come?”

Distance NATO from the Turkish military: Stop sharing intelligence, do not train Turkish personnel and exclude Turkish participation in weapons development.

Help Turkey’s opponents: Stand with the Kurds of Syria. Support the growing Greek-Cyprus-Israel alliance. Cooperate with Austria.

In brief, Communists never provoked Article 5 and no NATO member ever entered the Warsaw Pact. Islamism, in the shape of Al-Qaeda and Erdoğan, has scrambled the old verities almost beyond recognition, requiring new and creative thinking. NATO needs to wake up to these problems.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Daniel Pipes

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Jews and Christians Join Together in Day of Praise for Israel’s 70th

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 11:12

Last Wednesday night, approximately 350 Jews and Christians came together in an emotional ceremony organized by the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC). In a uniquely Israeli experience, the ceremony took them from the depths of sadness over Israel’s losses in wars for survival, to the heights of joy on Israel’s 70th anniversary.

When the ceremony was complete, Yom Hazikaron (the day preceding Independence Day and set aside to remember fallen soldiers and terror victims) had ended and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 70th Independence Day, had begun. The multi-faith gathering joined together in Hallel, comprising Psalms 113 – 118, which is recited as an act of praise and thanksgiving.

David Nekrutman (Photo via Facebook CJCUC)

“Imagine churches around the world saying Hallel, praying the same liturgy, on Yom Haatzmaut,” David Nekrutman, director of the CJCUC, told Breaking Israel News. “There is no reason this can’t be happening right now and so many reasons it should. So many people on both sides want it to happen.”

Under the direction of Nekrutman, the CJCUC held its bi-annual Day to Praise event at the  John Hagee Center for Jewish Heritage at the Academic College in Netanya. The group recited Yizkor, lit a memorial candle and recited Psalms as Yom Hazikaron, had ended.

“The Christians came to be with us in our grief on Yom Hazikaron, reciting Psalms and the Yizkor (the memorial prayer for the deceased) service,” Nekrutman said. “They got to experience the Jewish tradition of going directly from the sadness of losing our soldiers into the joy of Hallel which is the expression of prophecy.”

Nekrutman was enthusiastic about the event’s impact, which has seen increased attendance over the four years since its inception.

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“On our day of praise, Jews and Christians were saying the same words, for the same reasons, on the same day,” Nekrutman said. “Some people have been waiting 30 years for this.”

Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, Associate Director of the CJCUC who spoke at the event, sees joint prayer as a Jewish imperative of the highest order, though one that he says may be difficult for both Christians and Jews, citing the Prophet Zephaniah as an explanation.

For then I will make the peoples pure of speech, So that they all invoke Hashem by name And serve Him with one accord. Zephaniah 9:3

“The Hebrew says we will serve God with ‘one shoulder,’literally ‘shoulder-to-shoulder,’” the rabbi explained. “This makes a lot of Jews and Christians uncomfortable, worshipping God together, so closely connected, physically and spiritually.”

Rabbi Pesach Wolicki (photo via Facebook CJCUC)

Rabbi Wolicki understands that with two millennia of difficult relations between Christians and Jews, this type of gathering that brings people from the two religions into close contact may seem unlikely.

“My great grandparents in Poland would have thought it absurd that millions of Christians would thank God for the good he has done to Jews, but that is what happening today,” he said.

Despite the discomfort of two religions with such a difficult past coming together, Rabbi Wolicki sees this union as necessary to the Jews for the realization of Biblical prophecy as stated in Psalms.

“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!” Psalms 126:2

“Christians praying for Israel is not a convenient political agenda,”.Rabbi Wolicki explained. “It is an essential piece of the prophetic puzzle. If we had everything we needed for a Jewish geula (redemption), the Temple and the Messiah, even if we had everything we needed politically and economically, these prophecies about Israel’s future geula wouldn’t be complete with these Christians coming to praise Hashem (God, literally “the name”).”

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DEUTERONOMY 22:7

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 07:29

The Torah (Bible) talks about the importance of chasing a mother bird from its nest before taking its fledglings. Commentators believe this reflects the state of the Jewish People in exile. The mothers bird who has been chased away cries about the separation from her children. When Hashem (God) hears these cries, he compares the suffering of the mother bird to His own fate. Hashem’s presence has been driven out of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple), and His children have been driven into exile. The Jewish People must return to their homeland and restore the Beit Hamikdash so that Hashem’s presence can once again dwell in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).

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Russia Warns Of ‘Catastrophic’ Consequences If Israel Strikes S-300 Defense System in Syria

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 06:30

Russia could be about to supply the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria and has warned of “catastrophic” consequences for all sides should Israel attack the missile batteries, according to a report in the Russian daily Kommersant, citing anonymous military sources.

According to Kommersant, Russia could supply the long-range surface-to-air missiles free of charge to Damascus within the framework of its military aid to the Bashar Assad regime.

The report said that components of the S-300, including radar stations, control posts and  launchers would soon be delivered to Syria by the Russian military either by air transport or via the Russian Navy, which has a base at Tartus on the Syrian coast.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that following a joint United States, French and British strike on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack by regime forces, Moscow was no longer morally bound not to supply Assad with the S-300 system.

“We promised not to do it around a decade ago at the request of our partners, and we took into consideration their argument that this would destabilize the situation, despite this [S-300] being a purely defensive system,” Lavrov said.

“We heeded their call. But now we have no such moral obligation,” he added.

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Russia had originally signed a contract in 2010 to supply Syria with four S-300 batteries, however after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war the following year and following pressure from Israel, Moscow cancelled the deal.

Kommersant noted that while Jerusalem has yet to respond to the current reports that Moscow will supply Syria with the anti-aircraft system, whose range extends into Israel itself, former high-ranking military officials, including the ex-head of military intelligence Maj.-Gen (ret) Amos Yadlin have said that the IDF would likely react by striking the S-300 batteries.

“If I know the air force well, we have already made proper plans to deal with this threat. After you remove the threat, which is basically what will be done, we’re back to square one,” Yadlin said in regard to the possible deployment of the S-300 in Syria during an interview with Bloomberg news last week.

According to Russian military experts interviewed by Kommersant, it would take some three months to train Syrian officers to manage the S-300 and during that time, Russian military advisers would be stationed at the batteries alongside Syrian experts. If Israel were to decide to inflict rocket strikes on the locations of the S-300 deployment, the consequences, according to Kommersant’s sources would be “catastrophic for all sides.”

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Impact of 2 Fallen Soldiers Continues Through Agricultural Youth Camp

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 06:30

Two former IDF soldiers who passed away in 2014 continue to impact the world for the better through a new agricultural youth camp in Israel’s southern Negev region.

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How Islam Took Over the Bible

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 04:30

Many of the political conflicts between the Arabs and Israel can be traced back to Biblical stories the Quran usurped and reworked in disturbing manners to suit the goals of Islam. Some scholars recognize this phenomenon as an even more egregious form of Replacement Theology than Christianity ever was, leaving no room for compromise.

“The entire basis of the regional conflict is based on religion and begins inside the holy books,” Dr. Bat-sheva Garsiel, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar Ilan University, told Breaking Israel News. “Islam agrees that God gave the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai but the details and the differences are what fuel the conflict.”

Muslims believe the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Jibril (Gabriel ) over a period of 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE. Written more than 500 years after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 CE and almost 2,000 years after Rabbinic sources claim God gave Moses the Torah at Mount Sinai, the Quran acknowledges that it is based the Torah. The Torah basis is unmistakable as there are  no less than 50 characters in the Quran that have their sources in the Bible.

The commonalities between the Quran and the Jewish Torah are indeed extensive and Dr. Garsiel has written several authoritative books on the convergence of Judaism and Islam. She believes the differences between the texts are significant have real-world implications.

The common elements shared by the Torah and the Quran first appear at the very beginning, with the story of Adam and Ḥawwā (Eve) and continue with Cain and Hābīl (Abel). For the most part, the stories in the Quran and the Torah are very similar. These common elements are intentional from the side of Islam.

“Islam  believes that both the Quran and the Torah came down from heaven at Sinai,” Rabbi Garsiel said. “The Arabs of Muhammad’s time respected the Jews and held them in high regard. Scholars of Islam believe that because of the status of Jews, Muhammad learned directly from Jews in Saudi Arabia.”

“Ibn Ishaq, a Muslim Arab author who wrote about the life of Muhammad less than one hundred years after his death, wrote that Muhammad used to go to the Jewish readings of the Torah which the Jews read first in Hebrew and then in Arabic for the Arabs who came to hear the reading.”

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Dr. Garsiel noted that there are many differences in the Biblical accounts as they are related to in the Quran.

“Since Muhammad did not write it down, many of the details differ from the Jewish tradition though the main themes are the same,” Dr. Garsiel said. “The Muslims explain this by saying that Jews changed the Torah. There are also some aspects of the Torah, for example some of the laws of keeping kosher, that Islam believes are specific to the Jews and not relevant to the Muslims.”

These similarities, rather than bring Islam and Judaism closer, are actually the basis for the inter-religious conflict, beginning with the story of Abraham, who is described very differently in the Quran.

“Abraham is revered as the biological father of Isaac but he is described in the Quran as establishing Islam,” Dr. Garsiel explained. “Despite Abraham being a devout Muslim, the people around him did not believe in Allah. This did not change until Muhammad who re-established Islam and purified the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia (Islam’s holiest site) which, according to the Quran, was first established by Adam.”

The textual conflict between the Quran and the Torah continues with the Jewish patriarch, Isaac and the Arabic patriarch, Ishmael.

“When it comes to the Binding of Isaac, there is an ongoing dispute within Islam as to which of Abraham’s son was on the altar,” Dr. Garsiel said. “The Quran only describes him as ‘the son.’ This is a dispute with major implications since the son who was on the altar has greater merit. This is further confused since many of the aspects of Isaac in the Torah were adopted by the Quran to describe Ishmael.”

This dispute between Ishmael and Isaac is still expressed today in the ancient city Hebron. At the heart of the city is a large structure built by King Herod, the king of Judea in the first century BCE. The structure is the location of the Cave of the Patriarchs, the burial site of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs. Abraham’s purchase of the site is mentioned in the Torah.

And then Avraham buried his wife Sarain the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre—now Chevron—in the land of Canaan.Genesis 23:19

Despite the Quran’s rejection of Isaac’s spiritual relevance and his bloodline, Islam has laid claim to the Cave of the Patriarchs and in the 12th century, the entire site was converted into a mosque. Though Muslim interest in the site is clearly due to the significance of Abraham and his purchase of the site as it is related in the Quran. Nonetheless, it is, ironically, the Hall of Isaac that is designated for solely Islamic use and Jews are forbidden to enter.

“Isaac is revered by the Muslims because he was related to Abraham and Ishmael,” Dr. Garsiel said as an admittedly less than optimum explanation for the current situation in the Cave of the Patriarchs.

The burial site of Moses is unknown and therefore, not a source of dispute. But he is the Biblical character whose representation in the Quran has been the basis of the century-long conflict in Israel between the Muslims and the Jews.

“Moses in the Quran is more or less similar to what the Torah wrote about him,” Dr. Garsiel said. “The biographical details are almost identical. The Quran wrote that Moses brought the Jews out of Egypt and God gave them the Torah at Mount Sinai. It does not mention the Jews going into Israel. The Jews went into ‘the Holy Land’ or the “Promised Land’. This is understood to be ‘Greater Syria,’ which includes parts of today’s Syria, Israel and Jordan.”

On the basis of the Quranic Exodus narrative the Jews should have a clear claim to Israel, but it is specifically this story which is the basis of Islam’s rejection of the Jewish State.

“Modern Islam, especially radical Islam, has changed the precise meaning of what is written in the Quran in this regard,” Dr. Garsiel said. “Islam believes that the land was indeed promised to the Jews but since the Jews sinned, the land, all of ‘Greater Syria,’ no longer belongs to the Jews.”

“They acknowledge that Jerusalem and Israel was Jewish, are still Jewish in their essence, but it is no longer relevant,” Dr. Garsiel emphasized.

Another interesting difference between the Quran and the Bible that has present day political implications is based on the differences between the versions as they relate to the story of the Prophet Samuel anointing King Saul.

“In the Bible, Samuel initially resists the imperative to anoint a king,” Dr. Garsiel noted.

Shmuel was displeased that they said “Give us a king to govern us.” Shmuel prayed to Hashem. I Samuel 8:6

“In Judaism, a flesh-and-blood king is not the optimal condition,” Dr. Garsiel explained. “In the Quran, Samuel is immediately enthusiastic, indicative of the Islamic emphasis on its role as a political structure.”

This conflict over Biblical narratives is even greater between Islam and Christianity with regards to their different interpretations of Jesus. Dr. Timothy Furnish who teaches history at Reinhardt University, has a PHD in Islamic studies. As a devout Lutheran, the appearance of Jesus in the Quran is personally significant to Dr. Furnish.

“The Quran does tell about Jesus as a Muslim Prophet,” Dr. Furnish told Breaking Israel News. “But the Quran changes many of the details, denying the role Jesus has in Christianity. The Quran specifically rejects the crucifixion story and resurrection, and the Hadiths (Islamic oral traditions) explain that Judas was crucified in his place. Islam claims that Jesus went straight to heaven without dying.”

“In the hadiths, it is written that when the Mahdi (the Muslim messiah) arrives to conquer the world for Islam, Jesus will also arrive and work with him,” Furnish continued. “He will kill all the swine since they are impure and break all the crosses since the crucifixion never happened. He will offer the Christians the choice of converting to Islam or dying.”

Dr. Furnish described Islam as basing itself upon Replacement Theology, a belief that it has replaced all previous religions. Replacement Theology was a core tenet of Christianity. Subsequent to and because of the Holocaust, some mainstream Christian theologians and denominations have rejected Replacement Theology, also known as supersessionism.

“Tahrif, Islamic Replacement Theology, is a much more extreme form than Christianity ever was,” Dr. Furnish claimed. “There are many branches of Christianity that allow for other religions, but there is no branch or interpretation of Islam that allows for any other religion.”

Dr. Garsiel agreed with Furnish’s characterization of Islam.

“As its basis, Islam believes that every other religion, especially Judaism and Christianity, are no longer valid,” Dr. Garsiel said. “Islam acknowledges that the Torah and New Testament were both given from heaven but since Muhammad’s arrival, there is no place for other religions in the world. At its core, Islam believes that everyone must be Muslim.”

 

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What’s The Biblical Significance of the Number 7?

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 03:30

The number seven is particularly significant in the Bible and in Judaism.

Not only does it represent creation of the world itself (“On the seventh day Hashem finished the work that He had been doing. Genesis 2:2), it also relates to holidays, blessings, the Land of Israel, Jewish traditions and luck. In fact, mazal-מזל=luck has the Hebrew numerological value of 77!

“It is well known that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh,” said Roni Segal, academic adviser for the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, an online Hebrew language and Biblical studies organization, to Breaking Israel News. “What’s fascinating to note is that the entire world functions on a seven day week, whether they are Bible believers or not. Many people don’t realize that a seven day week is a Godly creation.”

 

For over 3,000 years, the seven-branched menorah-candelabrum has been a symbol for Judaism and is now an emblem for the State of Israel. Used in the Holy Temple in ancient Jerusalem, the menorah represents the mission of the Jewish people to be a “light unto the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6)

Though the Jewish people have 613 Biblical commandments, non-Jews are meant to live by what are commonly known as the seven laws of Noah. These are: not worshipping idols, not cursing God, not murdering, not committing adultery or sexual immorality, not stealing, not eating the flesh torn from a living animal and establishing courts of justice.

There are seven patriarchs and matriarchs from which the Jewish people were formed: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.

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Two Jewish holidays each last seven days, the Feast of Tabernacles-Sukkot, as it says, “You shall live in booths seven days.” (Leviticus 23:42) and Passover, as it says, “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.” (Exodus 12:15)

On Sukkot, there is a custom to symbolically invite seven important Biblical “guests” into your sukkah: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David.

The holiday after Passover is Shavuot, which actually means “weeks,” as in the Feast of Weeks. It is a Biblical commandment to count each day and each completed week for seven weeks, from Passover to Shavuot, to demonstrate the anticipation of the day when God gave the Jewish people the Bible.

In ancient times, part of the Shavuot celebration was for farmers to bring the seven special species the Land of Israel is praised for to the holy temple in Jerusalem. They are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (Deuteronomy 8:8).

 

In contradistinction, it is a Biblical commandment to let the Holy Land lie fallow every seven years for one entire year. Called “shemittah-שמיטה”, it is also referred to as the sabbatical year, shvee-it-שביעית, which means “seventh.” The Bible states, “In the seventh year, the land shall have a Shabbat of complete rest, a Shabbat of Hashem: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.” (Leviticus 25:4)

At Jewish weddings, the bride encircles the groom seven times to symbolically demonstrate that her husband is the center of her universe.

In addition, seven blessings are said under the wedding canopy. Following the wedding, each night for seven days, parties are made for the new bride and groom. These parties are called “sheva brachot-שבע ברכות” (seven blessings), and the same seven blessings said at the wedding are repeated at this celebration.

The significance of the number seven not only relates to worldly matters like holidays and agriculture but is also connected to a mourner. When any one of seven close relatives dies – father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister and spouse – the mourner sits in his or her home for seven days and accepts condolences from visitors. This is called “shiva-שבעה” after the number seven. Shiva is considered an important process for an individual to begin to confront and overcome his or her grief.

“Not only does seven play a particularly meaningful role in Judaism, but also several other numbers have Biblical and historical significance,” said Segal to Breaking Israel News. “Many ritual practices are related to numbers and numbers help us better understand God and the purpose of creation. Studying the Hebrew view of numbers is important to better understanding the Bible and Divinity.”

To learn more, click here.

Written in coordination with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies.

 

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Trump Asks Netanyahu if he Really Wants Peace With Palestinians: Report

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 02:30

In a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the approval of building projects in Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly asked the prime minister if he truly cared about making peace with Palestinians.

According to a report by the Axios news site, Trump thought Netanyahu’s plan to approve the building of new homes in Jewish communities in the disputed territory would anger Palestinians “so, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, [Trump] bluntly asked [Netanyahu] whether or not he genuinely wants peace.”

The report did not indicate Netanyahu’s response.

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Axios that the U.S. president “has great relationships with a number of foreign leaders but that doesn’t mean he can’t be aggressive when it comes to negotiating what’s best for America.”

Trump’s administration has made efforts to bring about negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Trump named his longtime attorney Jason Greenblatt his Middle East envoy and empowered his son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, to try and bring the parties to the table. But following Trump’s December 6 announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with members of the Trump administration or take part in any talks facilitated by the United States.

Trump asked Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements” when the prime minister visited the White House in February 2017.

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Time to Cut JVP Down to Size

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 02:00

Jewish Voice for Peace is a marginal group, by all accounts. The Jewish-run, anti-Zionist organization has perhaps a couple of dozen employees and anywhere between a few dozens and a couple of hundred committed activists in the US. Its positions – that Israel is evil and must be destroyed and that Jews should be disenfranchised and ostracized because they support Israel – is anathema to the overwhelming majority of American Jews.

Yet despite the fact that its bigoted positions are rejected by just about everyone, this group, which the Anti-Defamation League has listed as “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the United States,” is becoming increasingly influential in the US.

As the ADL report on JVP notes, in recent years, the little group has received millions of dollars in donations and has vastly expanded its operations. It has 35 chapters across the US including at several campuses. It has nearly a half million followers on Facebook and 75,000 followers on Twitter.

JVP doesn’t only attack Jewish supporters of Israel. It also attacks Judaism. JVP’s “rabbinical council” issues resolutions and publications in the name of the Jewish religion that are inherently antisemitic.

In 2012 for instance, JVP’s “rabbinical council” published an “alternative Haggada,” which included anti-Israel themes inside the Passover story of the liberation of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. One of the four cups of wine for the Passover Seder was dedicated to the BDS movement. Readers were instructed to add an olive to the traditional Seder plate to symbolize Palestinian suffering under Israeli rule.

JVP is open about its determination to serve as a Jewish fig leaf for antisemitic groups and operations. Its website states this mission explicitly, arguing that the group’s Jewish veneer gives it a “particular legitimacy in voicing an alternative view of American and Israeli actions and policies” and the ability to distinguish “between real antisemitism and the cynical manipulation of that issue.”

It is a sign of the confusion within the American Jewish community that JVP’s strategy meets with success not only among the general public, which may not understand how marginal and extreme JVP’s positions are but within the Jewish community itself.

Consider a development this week at New York University.

On Monday, 51 campus groups published a declaration committing their members to adopting the BDS program including by boycotting two NYU Jewish student groups.

The pledge that NYU College Libertarians, the Asian American Women’s Alliance at NYU, and their comrades in 49 other student groups signed committed them to “boycotting NYU’s pro-Israel clubs, Realize Israel and TorchPAC, by not co-sponsoring events with them, as well as boycotting off-campus pro-Israel groups such as Birthright-Taglit, the Maccabee Task Force, Mosaic United, Zionist Organization of America, American-Israeli [sic] Political Action Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.”

There are two remarkable aspects to this declaration. First, it is remarkable that so many groups were willing to affix their signatures to a document that is so openly antisemitic. They found nothing objectionable about committing themselves to ostracize two Jewish student groups and six national Jewish organizations, which together represent the views of the overwhelming majority of American Jews.

The group that spearheaded the NYU anti-Jewish boycott is Students for Justice in Palestine. SJP is behind nearly every BDS initiative in the US. And JVP, which is a member of the coalition that pushed the NYU anti-Jewish boycott, serves as SJP’s Jewish fig leaf at NYU and on campuses throughout the US.

In any discussion about JVP and its role in legitimizing and normalizing anti-Jewish discrimination and hatred, it is important to bear in mind the nature of its partner and leader SJP.

In 2016, Jonathan Schanzer from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies revealed SJP’s pedigree in congressional testimony.

Schanzer explained that SJP, which is run by Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, is not a legal entity. It is just a name. SJP is a shell group directed in every way by a Chicago-registered organization called American Muslims for Palestine, which Bazian heads.

American Muslims for Palestine devises all of the SJP campaigns. It provides talking points to SJP chapters ensuring that the SJP message and operation is identical across all campuses.

American Muslims for Palestine is not a registered nonprofit. Its fund-raising arm, also chaired by Bazian, is called American for Justice in Palestine Education Foundation. Schanzer noted that AJP’s IRS Form 990s revealed that it raised $3.2 million in contributions between 2010 and 2014. Yet in apparent breach of the US tax code, AJP reported neither the sources of the funds nor how they were used.

Most important, Schanzer revealed that Bazian, American Muslims for Palestine and American for Justice in Palestine are up to their armpits in Hamas ties.

Before establishing SJP, AMP, and AJP, Bazian and his colleagues worked for three linked organizations: the Holyland Foundation, KindHearts and the Islamic Association for Palestine. All three were shut down following the 2008 verdict in the Holyland Foundation terrorism financing trial. That verdict found that the Holyland Foundation and its sister organizations KindHearts and the Islamic Association for Palestine were all terrorism financiers that raised funds for Hamas and al-Qaeda.

Schanzer noted that there is no evidence that Bazian and his associates at the follow-on AMP-AJP groups raise funds for terrorist groups now. But all the same, at AMP’s annual conference in 2014, participants were invited to “come and navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism.”

No doubt ignorant of all of this, and immunized from allegations of Jew-hatred by JVP’s advocacy for the resolution, 51 campus groups at NYU decided to side with SJP-AMP-AJP and blackball two mainstream Jewish groups.

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Which brings us back to JVP and its pivotal role in advancing Jew-hatred in America, and to the second remarkable aspect of the NYU operation.

The response of the affected Jews at NYU make clear the corrosive effect JVP is having on the Jewish community’s capacity to defend itself against open discrimination.

Realize Israel and TorchPAC’s reactions to this egregious act of discrimination directed against them are notable for their docility.

Speaking to JTA, Realize Israel president Adela Cojab described the campus climate on Israel as “one of animosity.”

Cojab expressed surprise “about the scale” of the assault.

“I didn’t expect so many people and so many groups to turn against students the way they have,” she said.

Cojab then added, “They’re creating a rift between students that doesn’t exist. You can advocate for a cause without singling out two student groups, especially NYU groups that have been on this campus and have been contributing in a meaningful way to NYU campus life.”

TorchPAC president Rebecca Stern told JTA that her group wants to open a dialogue with the groups that just officially ostracized her group.

“They aren’t student groups that we particularly know much about, so we’re working on trying to talk to people and to see what exactly it is about this specific resolution that drew them to adopt it. We really want to establish ourselves as a tolerant, discussion-based community.”

Cojab’s and Stern’s decision to respond with passive, nonjudgmental statements to an openly bigoted assault against them personally, and against the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community which shares their positions generally, is noteworthy. It is similarly noteworthy that the response of the NYU’s professional Jewish leadership was arguably even more timid.

In a statement to JTA, the executive director of NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Life, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, said that the groups’ open ostracism of the Jewish campus groups “is a source of sorrow and disappointment to me.”

Sarna added, “The university should be about people coming together, not about people refusing to speak to those with differing views.”

The docile response of the affected Jews at NYU to their colleagues’ decision to ostracize them and ban them from the wider student body is an extreme example of the confusion and weakness of the Jewish community. JVP and other anti-Israel Jewish groups are making significant progress in their bids to paralyze the Jewish community from within. They work avidly to sow doubt, confusion, and embarrassment among American Jews about whether they have a right to civil rights and protection, let alone to respect and support when they express their support for the Jewish state.

An event in Durham, North Carolina, earlier this week points to the way that JVP is subverting the Jewish community.

This week, Durham, North Carolina, became the first US city to adopt BDS as official policy. The city council adopted a statement calling for the police department to ban all exchange programs with Israel.

The statement was the result of an intense, months-long lobbying campaign led by JVP.

According to sources inside the Durham Jewish community, JVP members have taken leading roles in two area synagogues and the local Jewish federation. Sandra Korn has been a JVP member since at least 2015. She is a trustee and the head of adult education at Durham’s Judea Reform synagogue.

Korn is also a staff member at the Durham/Chapel Hill Jewish Federation, employed as a youth teacher. She teaches religious studies at all area synagogues.

Korn allegedly led the BDS campaign at the city council. She was allegedly joined in her efforts, Lara Haft. Like Korn, Haft is a JVP member and Federation staffer. Haft teaches religious studies at Beth El synagogue in Durham.

Korn’s Judea Reform synagogue has something called the Israel Discourse Advisory Committee. Three of its members signed a letter to the city council in support of BDS.

Consider the impact that committed JVP activists are having on the Jewish community in Durham. The parents who pay good money to send their children to Hebrew school are in all likelihood uninterested in teaching their children that Passover is a cautionary tale about Jewish venality. And yet, it can be assumed that students who emerge from Korn’s and Haft’s classrooms will not be joining pro-Israel organizations when they go to college. It can be taken for granted that these Jewish youth, whose parents took the trouble to join a synagogue and send them to Hebrew school, will not understand why Jews have just as much of a right to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state as everyone else has to advocate on behalf of issues that matter to them.

There are two ways to deal with Jewish Voice for Peace. First, while the Obama administration refused to investigate Students for Justice in Palestine and its parent group’s ties to terrorist groups, the Trump Justice Department and Treasury Department can easily inquire into their pedigree. The federal government can take action against them if, as seems likely, investigators discover operational ties between these groups and illegal terrorist organizations.

Second, the Jewish communal groups need to block JVP activists and sympathizers from gaining positions of power and influence over their local institutions. Among other things, this requires investing in Jewish educators to attract more Jewish Americans to these professions.

JVP is punching above its weight because the Jewish communal leadership is punching beneath its weight. It is time to correct this imbalance.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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Israel Arrests 19 Suspects From Hamas Terror Cell in Samaria

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 01:30

Nineteen terror suspects were arrested in the Ramallah area in Samaria overnight on Saturday, in an operation carried out by the Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet security forces and Israel Border Police.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that 15 of the suspects were arrested after receiving instructions from Hamas officials in Gaza to perform terror operations throughout Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank.

A car that was purportedly given to the group in payment for their services was impounded by security forces. Also, a printing press used to publish and disseminate Hamas materials was shut down.

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“The exposure of such activity once again demonstrates Hamas’s unrelenting efforts to instigate terror activity in Judea and Samaria by transferring funds, providing missions and disseminating messages, without taking into account the impact on the fabric of life of the Palestinian residents in the area,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

“The IDF and Shin Bet will continue to act decisively against all terrorist activities in Judea and Samaria, and against terrorist operatives who will be in contact with Hamas terrorist operatives in the Gaza Strip.”

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Selling Illusions

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 01:00

One front of Hamas’s “March of Return” is a war of words – to project a sympathetic brand of the Palestinians as victims in order to influence global public opinion.

While the terrorist group’s young recruits dress in kaffiyehs and sling Kalashnikovs over their shoulders, its leaders in coat and tie take their cues from leftist media and Madison Avenue’s finest – with techniques author William Safire calls “the gimmicky, slick use of the communications media to play on emotions.”

Possibly due to Israel’s superior defense technology, Hamas is emphasizing the war for public opinion – a strategy Islamist scholars call “jihad of the pen.” It has found a partner in the biased, anti-Israel media. But the truth is its Achilles heel.

During the 2014 war, Hamas cynically used footage of crying, distraught or wounded women and children to blame Israel for the hostilities they themselves started and inflamed by deliberately placing civilians in the line of fire.

They’re at it again in their extended protests at Israel’s border, dispatching women, children, and youth to the border fence, deliberately mixed with armed terrorists to bait IDF soldiers, willing to endanger their people for political gain.

Many major news outlets play into Hamas’ hands by overlooking the terrorist group’s strategy, said CAMERA, a media watchdog. For example, CNN reported: “The goal of the marches, Palestinians say, is to cross the border fence and return to their lands that became Israel seven decades ago.” A fair and balanced report would require a counterbalancing statement from Israel as to its land, which this story ignores, along with Hamas’s intent to use the march to subvert Israel’s 70th Independence Day and undermine US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by that date.

Scholar Bassam Tawil, for the Gatestone Institute, provides a clear perspective: The march aims first to force Israel to accept the “right of return” of millions of Palestinian “refugees” and their descendants, rendering the Jews a minority in their own country. “The next step would be to kill or expel the Jews and replace Israel with an Islamic state.”

Mimicking the Soros-funded activists bused to US cities for racially charged, anti-police demonstrations, Hamas forced bus drivers to transport protesters to the border, jailing those that refused, and paying off more than 20 bus companies, according to Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Further honing its branding and disinformation campaign, the terrorist group billed the march as “peaceful and non-violent” protests that would not approach or breach the border fence. But no one was surprised when, from day one, the “peaceful” protesters hurled rocks and firebombs, and fired weapons at the IDF soldiers defending their country’s borders, as militants mingling with the mob attacked border-fence sections, trying to infiltrate the country.

Despite the evidence, Hamas supporters and politicized media jumped on the buzzwords “peaceful,” “nonviolent” and “freedom of expression” in what looks like a well-orchestrated attempt to deny Israel’s right as a sovereign state to defend itself from aggression.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi: “We condemn Israel’s violence against peaceful protesters and the innocent lives who want to practice their right of expression to reject the occupation.”

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EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy leader Federica Mogherini: “Freedom of expression and…

assembly are fundamental rights that must be respected.”

PLO Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour: The “peaceful demonstrators posed no threat whatsoever to Israel or its heavily armed soldiers, yet its trigger-happy soldiers used live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem: “By the people maintaining that [these] marches are peaceful [we] strike a blow against the propaganda…

spread by the occupation.”

Let’s put these comments in perspective.

Media and PR strategists know that the effectiveness of a media or ad blitz depends on who’s listening – the “target” audience.

The fantasy of an Israeli “occupation” is as illusory as Coca-Cola’s classic ’70s TV ad, in which scores of fresh-faced youth from nations where Coke targets international sales dreamily harmonize: “Coke, it’s the real thing.” While Coke is a popular beverage, it’s no more “the real thing” than the “occupation” – a deceptive slogan to market the Palestinian political agenda.

Hamas changed its tune with a different audience and exposed the absurdity of its bogus claim to Israel’s land when political leader Fathi Hammad confronted Egypt for withholding fuel. In a TV broadcast translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, Hammad urged Egypt to reconsider: “Half my family is Egyptian. We are all like that. Brothers, half the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis.”

Even top PA religious-affairs adviser Supreme Sharia Judge Mahmoud Habbash knows better. In a TV statement translated by Palestinian Media Watch, he accused Hamas of “slogans of heroism”: “Afterwards you discover they’re only selling illusions, trading in suffering and blood, trading in victims, [saying]: ‘You Palestinians, our people, go and die so that we’ll go to the TV and media with strong declarations.’ These [Hamas] acts of ‘heroism’ don’t fool anyone anymore.”

Let’s hope Habbash is right.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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Trump’s Daughter Ivanka and Son-in-Law Kushner to Attend Opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 00:30

A sizeable delegation of American dignitaries will arrive in Israel to attend the official dedication ceremony for the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, according to Sunday report on Israel’s Channel 10 news.

U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, senior adviser to the president Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka, Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham are among the estimated 40 politicians who will arrive from the United States as part of a 250-person American delegation.

U.S. President Donald Trump will reportedly not be in attendance.

Images of newly minted road signs directing drivers to the U.S. Embassy have been circulating on social media, confirming that concrete steps were being taken towards implementing Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement that the United States would move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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The ceremony will take place in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood on May 14, which will mark the secular 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. The United States currently operates its Jerusalem consulate in Arnona. The new embassy will operate out of that space temporarily, and is expected to complete construction of additional office space at the compound to meet its needs.

A brand-new embassy complex will be constructed in the coming years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that Israel’s Foreign Ministry will host a celebratory reception for “guests” coming to Israel on the occasion of the U.S. embassy dedication. He did not elaborate further at the current time.

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Shame on Natalie Portman

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 00:00

Israeli born Actress Natalie Portman today announced she would not take part in the prize ceremony for the Genesis Prize, slated to be held in Israel in June 2018. The Genesis Prize Foundation, which awards what it calls the “Jewish Nobel,” had previously named Ms. Portman this year’s awardee, until she notified Genesis that“ [r]ecent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel” and that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”

The Genesis Prize Foundation canceled the prize ceremony, saying that its organizers “fear that Ms. Portman’s decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid.”

Shame on Natalie Portman for bowing to those who boycott Israel.

Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev hit it right on the head noting that,“ …Natalie Portman fell into the hands of the BDS supporters. Portman, a Jewish actress born in Israel, joins those who tell the successful, wondrous founding of the State of Israel as ‘a tale of darkness and darkness.’

Sane people must agree with Hillel Neuer of UN Watch who told Portman that “If 30,000 rioters were at your borders & approaching your family in Los Feliz, and they were orchestrated by a terror group that advocates the murder of all Jews, I believe you would ‘in good conscience’ support officers doing their best to protect you.”

Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East, where all religions are protected, where women have equal rights.  Israel is a beacon of light.

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Shame on Natalie Portman for standing against Israel.

The Genesis Prize “honors individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement along with their commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people.” They must revoke their decision to award her the prize immediately.

Shame on Natalie Portman.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

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Iran Threatens to Resume Nuclear Program if Trump Pulls Out of Deal

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 23:00

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif told CBS on “Face The Nation” that the Iranian regime is prepared to resume its nuclear program if US President Donald Trump decides next month to pull out of the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Tehran, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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Hamas Threatens to Attack Israeli Targets Abroad After ‘Martyr’ is Killed in Malaysia

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 07:00

Hamas threatened to strike at Israeli targets overseas in response to Israel’s alleged role in the killing of a Palestinian professor and engineer over the weekend who was affiliated with the terrorist organization.

“Israel has an ‘open account’ with the Palestinian people and has now taken the war between the sides overseas,” said head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday.

The professor, 35-year-old Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh was killed in a drive-by shooting on Saturday, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. According to local officials, al-Batsh at the time was walking to a local mosque for prayers at dawn when two gunmen on a motorcycle shot him.

Hamas, which also referred to al-Batsh as a “martyr” who worked for the Palestinian cause, had blamed the Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence agency.

“We blame the Israeli Mossad of carrying out the assassination of Dr Fadi al-Batsh,” Haniyeh had said.

Al-Batsh’ family made a similar statement saying, “we accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination.”

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According to Malaysian Home Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, al-Batsh was “an electrical engineer and an expert at making rockets.” Israeli media outlets also described him as an expert on drone technology.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported that if the Mossad had any role in the killing, it was to prevent advanced weaponry and technology from being shipped to Gaza from overseas. However, the Mossad and Israel’s political echelon have remained mum on Israel’s alleged role in the killing of al-Batsh.

Israeli Intelligence Minister, Yisrael Katz fired back at Haniyeh’s threats against Israel.

“Gaza is much closer than Malaysia,” he said. (An attack against Israel) would cross a red line and would lead Israel to renew a policy of targeted assassinations of senior Hamas officials in Gaza, and Haniyeh could be one of them.”

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