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5 hours 34 min ago

The creation of Adam and Eve on day six of creation is often regarded as the pinnacle of creation. Since the beginning of time, the relationships between humans and Hashem (God) have been complex and dynamic. Genesis 3 tells of the sin of Adam and Eve, which results in the couple being banished from Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). Following this sin, the land’s prosperity becomes a means of measuring man’s adherence to Hashem; for the Jewish nation, this means following Hashem’s rules and keeping His Torah (Bible). When the Jewish nation adheres to the word of Hashem, the land of Israel flourishes. Scholars and historians have noted that in periods of Jewish exile from the Land of Israel, the land lay fallow and uninhabitable. In the past 70 years, since the Jews returned to Israel from the four corners of the world, the Land of Israel has been prophetically transformed from a wasteland into a blooming and prosperous country. On the seventh day of creation, Hashem ceased the creative process and rested. The seventh day of every week is called Shabbat. On Shabbat, it is customary for Jews to greet each other with the phrase “Shabbat Shalom” (Have a peaceful Sabbath).

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Israeli Scientists Simulate Mars Environment in Israel’s Negev

6 hours 19 min ago

Six scientists and technical experts “landed on Mars” on Friday, or rather, a secret and isolated site near Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel to participate in the D-Mars Project, a first-of-its-kind simulation in Israel in conjunction with the Israel Space Agency and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.

From Feb. 15-18, participants will be disconnected from the world, conduct experiments, live in a structure designed to be compatible with conditions on Mars, and will move around wearing space suits. The purpose of the project is to research and simulate possible life on Mars in the near future.

“Space agencies around the world are already busy with preparations for the journey to Mars and [finding] solutions to the multitude of technological challenges on the way to getting there,” said ISA head Avi Belsberger.

“Among the challenges people are trying to solve: building a spaceship and engine suitable for the lengthy journey, the effects of cosmic radiation on human beings, shipping and erecting a structure there, life in a small and isolated group, communication with earth and more,” he said. “Israel has already contributed to preparing for the mission to Mars, and in the technological developments to protect people against radiation.”

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Mars’ simulations take place in a small number of places around the world. A large simulation is currently underway in Utah, where Weizmann Institute of Science research student Roy Naor was sent by the ISA to represent Israel.

Mitzpe Ramon, in the Negev Desert, is considered one of the only places on the planet with conditions relatively similar to those on Mars. The area resembles Mars in terms of its topography, geology, aridity, appearance and isolation.

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Israel Security Agency Thwarts Attempt on Defense Minister’s Life

6 hours 58 min ago

Security forces arrested members of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) cell, who planned to assassinate Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman by placing a roadside IED on the route leading to the settlement of Nokdim, south of Bethlehem, where he resides, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) released for publication Sunday.

Among those arrested are Awad Mahmoud el-Asakra (25), an Islamic Jihad operative who was in administrative Israeli custody between 2015 and 2017 for planning terrorist attacks, and Muhammad Ali el-Asakra (32), also an Islamic Jihad operative, who was incarcerated twice in the past for involvement in PIJ terror cells and for planning attacks against the IDF.

Two terror suspects, Awad and Ali al-Asakra.
(Shin Bet)

The investigation of the two uncovered that they had worked to receive funding from agents in the Gaza Strip in order to purchase explosives meant for the attack, but were unsuccessful in doing so. When they were unable to purchase the required materials, they decided to build a non-functioning “dummy device” in order to receive recognition and funding to carry out real attacks in the future. The investigation also uncovered that at least one of the suspects’ motivation was the desire to be arrested and a prisoner’s stipend from the PIJ – a prevalent motivation in the Bethlehem area.

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In 2014, a similar attempt on Liberman’s life was thwarted, when a Hamas cell headed by Ibrahim Salim Mahmoud Zhir sought to obtain an RPG launcher in order to fire it at Liberman’s motorcade during Operation Protective Edge.

The investigation of the el-Asakras uncovered that the two were aware of this previous attempt on Liberman, and opted for the roadside bomb method under the impression that it would be the only effective method against the heavily guarded Liberman.

The Shin Bet noted that the plan was uncovered and thwarted in it’s very early stages.

A second PIJ cell operating in the area was also uncovered by Shin Bet, this one with the objective of carrying out shooting attacks against civilian and IDF targets in the Gush Etzion area.

According to the Shin Bet, these arrests, as well as the operative’s attempts to receive funding from Gaza, are testament to the increasing attempts by the PIJ to escalate the situation in Judea and Samaria using local operatives.

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Plane Crash in Southern Iran Kills All 66 Onboard

7 hours 16 min ago

An Iranian airplane carrying 60 passengers and 6 crew members crashed in southern Iran on Sunday, killing everyone onboard.

“An ATR aircraft of Aseman Airlines with 60 passengers and about six crew disappeared from radar this morning,” Aladin Borujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, was reported to have told the semi-official ISNA news agency.

“Observation by people (in the area) indicates a crash.”

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Rescue efforts to reach the crash site are facing roadblocks due to inclement weather.

“The weather is currently cloudy and rainy and rescuers are searching for the plane but they have not sighted it yet,” said spokesman for Iran’s emergency services, Mojtaba Khaledi, according to Press TV.

“Despite the poor weather conditions, relief groups are continuing their search.”

According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the crash site is  around 23 kilometers (14 miles) from Yasuj, some 500 kilometers south of Tehran.


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IDF Strikes 18 Terror Targets in Gaza After 4 Soldiers Injured in Explosion

10 hours 59 min ago

Hours after 4 Israeli soldiers were injured from an explosion near the Gaza Strip border fence, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed that it struck 18 targets in Gaza overnight belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization.

“Earlier this evening, IDF fighter jets attacked additional terror targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization, in response to the acts of terrorism earlier today,” the IDF spokesperson’s unit said in a statement.

Following its routine, Israel held Hamas responsible for any terror acts emanating from Gaza.  Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

“The IDF views with great severity the incident in which popular and seemingly spontaneous demonstrations were used for terrorist activity and an attempt to destabilize the Gaza Strip,” the spokesperson said.

“The Hamas terror organization is accountable for this incident and its consequences, as well as everything happening in and from the Gaza Strip, above and below ground.”

The operations “below ground” have included the construction of an underground network of terror tunnels, many of which have been destroyed by Israel.

“Eight targets were attacked in a military compound near Deir el Balah, which belongs to the Hamas terror organization, including weapon-manufacturing and training infrastructures,” the statement added. “In addition, an IDF tank targeted two observation posts.”

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The IDF abstained from confirming a statement made by Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam brigades in which the terror organization claimed to have launched anti-aircraft missiles against Israeli jets during the operations on Saturday night. The IDF spokesperson however, said that no projectiles were fired at Israeli communities.

“During the attacks, sirens sounded in southern Israel,” the spokesperson noted. “All of the sirens that sounded earlier this evening are false alarms, and no projectiles were launched at Israeli territory.”

Speaking abroad from the Munich Security Conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed a response to the explosion on Saturday injuring four Israeli soldiers.

“Today’s incident on the Gaza Strip border is severe,” he stated. “We will respond appropriately. I send my wishes for a quick recovery to the wounded.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin echoed Netanyahu’s remarks.

“We will not be quiet in the face of any type of terror against our soldiers who are protecting the lives of the citizens of Israel,” he said.


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Finding One’s Neshomeh*

11 hours 42 sec ago

It is the time that Israeli leaders, academicians, and the Israeli public find their way back to the synagogue and rediscover their neshamot. But this is easier said than done. Many have entered and left without sensing any spiritual significance. In fact, many have entered and been discouraged and dismayed.

To attend synagogue is an art. People must come with a sincere urge to discover their Jewishness, to reconnect with their inner being and with the Jewish people. To enter the synagogue is to hope for a metamorphosis in one’s soul and a transformation of one’s personality.

When the well-known Jewish Philosopher Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) decided to leave Judaism and be baptized, he enacted this resolution by first attending the High Holiday services in a shtiebel (a small Orthodox synagogue) in Berlin. This was a final farewell to his former religion with which he never had a relationship. Arguing his case, he wrote: “We [Jews] are Christians in everything. We live in a Christian state, attend Christian schools, read Christian books; in short, our whole culture rests entirely on Christian foundations. Therefore, if a man has nothing to hold him back, he needs only a slight push…to make him accept Christianity.” (Quoted by Samuel Hugo Bergman, Faith, and Reason: Modern Jewish Thought (NY: Schocken Books, 1961), p. 57.)

To his utter surprise, profoundly touched by the services, he underwent a deep religious metamorphosis and left the small synagogue with such a love for Judaism that he not only called off his decision to become a Christian but decided to try and become a religious Jew. Consequently, he made a very intensive study of Judaism, wrote some remarkable works about his newfound religion, and turned into one of the most important thinkers of Judaism in modern times. (Rosenzweig’s most important work is The Star of Redemption. For a thorough critique, see Eliezer Berkovits, Major Themes in Modern Philosophies of Judaism (NY: Ktav Publishing House, 1974) chap. 2.)

What happened to Rosenzweig during those few hours in that small synagogue? What turned his whole life around and eventually transformed him into a deeply religious Jew? How is such a metamorphosis possible, especially in a man of such great intellectual perception? Rosenzweig, after all, had spent years contemplating the possibility of converting to Christianity. He had discussed this with many of his friends who had encouraged him to do so. Still, within a few hours, he decided to disregard his earlier decision and become a committed Jew!

The answer to these questions may be found in a highly significant midrash that tells of a Jewish apostate, by the name of Joseph Meshita, who helped the Romans destroy the Temple.

“When the enemies [the Romans] desired to enter the Temple Mount, they said, ‘Let one of them (the Jews) enter first.’ They said to Joseph Meshita, ‘Enter and whatever you bring out is yours.’ So he went in and brought out a golden lamp. They said to him, ‘It is not fitting for a common person to use this, so go in again, and whatever you bring out is yours.’ This time, he refused. They offered him three years’ taxes, yet he still refused and said, ‘Is it not enough that I have angered my God once that I should anger Him again?’ What did they do to him? They put him into a carpenter’s clamp and sawed him and dismembered him. He cried, ‘Woe to me that I angered my Creator!’” (Yalkut Shimoni Bereishit 115:12. I am indebted to Rabbi Yissocher Frand of Baltimore for making me aware of this midrash.)

Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, the famous Ponevicher Rav, once commented that this midrash conveys the mighty impact that the Temple had on human beings. The moment Joseph Meshita entered the Temple he underwent a spiritual metamorphosis. He suddenly realized that he was a Jew and that he had been deeply touched by the unique and holy atmosphere in the Temple and by the symbols, he found there. He still managed to take out a golden lamp, but once outside he realized that he could no longer enter the Temple a second time. His newfound neshama did not allow him to do so. Even when the Romans offered him great amounts of money and then threatened to torture him to death, he could not defile the House of God again.

In his weekly parsha commentary, Rabbi Yissocher Frand (Parashat Toldot: “100% for the Sake of Heaven” (1995/5756).) suggests that this midrash explains Franz Rosenzweig’s sudden transformation when he entered the small synagogue in Berlin. Once he saw Jews in prayer, tallitot over their heads and in deep concentration, his neshama awoke, and his Jewishness was restored.

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This, however, needs further explanation. In what way do a synagogue and prayers suddenly awaken a Jewish soul that was totally removed from anything Jewish? What was in the Temple that made Joseph Meshita feel the overwhelming spiritual power to the extent that he could not go in the second time? As suggested above, it relates, first of all, to the attitude one has even before entering the Temple, or a synagogue. After all, many went in and were disappointed, and even discouraged. Others defiled the sanctuary and showed no remorse. As is well known, Titus entered the Temple and had intercourse with a harlot in the Holy of Holies. (Gittin 56b.) But even if one enters with the right approach, what turns this experience into a religious metamorphosis?

Here, we encounter the world of Jewish symbolism. According to kabbalistic thought, the physical symbols in the Temple, such as the altar and the menorah, are tangible reflections of the Ein Sof (the Infinite Divine matter), which descends into this world. These symbols are not fully comprehensible since their essence belongs to the metaphysical world. Like some rituals, they touch on an aspect of human existence that cannot be reached in any other way. They are, however, identified by the subconscious, which has its root in the Divine, since man was formed in the Divine image. Consequently, they evoke in people an overwhelming recognition of the higher world, which gives them the unique feeling that they are looking into their own soul. This is the apperception of the neshama. The Temple was the representation of heaven on earth, and its symbols caused the soul to hear a perpetual murmur coming from waves far beyond the reach of any human. Such a divine manifestation would ultimately lead to the metamorphosis that Joseph Meshita experienced when he entered the Temple.

Similarly, Franz Rosenzweig discovered his own neshama while attending the service at the shtiebel in Berlin. Once he saw the symbolic objects, richly adorning the interior of the synagogue (representing the Temple), and simultaneously heard and read the prayers of the High Holidays, he entered the heavenly realm that had been continuously hovering within his soul. It revolutionized his inner being and brought heaven to earth. This happened not only from observing what took place in that small synagogue but also from a desire to penetrate and become part of a highly significant religious experience.

This is what we suggest all Jews and Israelis try to accomplish: to enter a small synagogue filled with dedicated and passionate worshippers, and then to release all external and artificial components from their souls; to penetrate the surroundings in which they find themselves, and then to let go. This is far from easy, and indeed requires great courage, but the sudden feeling of belonging, which will result from an encounter with what we call the world of the neshama, will be unexpectedly blissful.

Much, however, depends on which synagogue the newcomer enters. Some synagogues are so devoid of any spiritual atmosphere that they repel the visitor who is seeking a religious experience. Many regular synagogue-goers do not realize the harm they do when they go through the motions of prayer without connecting with what they actually say. They show no enthusiasm or fire in their souls; in fact, they often look bored, as if waiting for the service to be over. While it is no doubt praiseworthy – and should not be underestimated – that they come, many of them daily, to the synagogue and participate in the services, for newcomers such behavior can be a letdown and often causes them to turn their backs on Judaism.

Attending synagogue must be a homecoming; it will spare the Jewish world a great amount of self-imposed harm.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Times of Israel

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Religion and Politics in the Feud Between Saudi Arabia and Qatar

12 hours 12 sec ago

Since the advent of the French Revolution, Western culture has aspired to separate church and state, believing that religion deals with the status of man– the individual and the community – and God, while politics deals with administering the lives of the public, those who believe in various religions as well as atheists who believe in none.  One result of religion’s removal from the political sphere was that a Jew (Leon Bloom in France, Benjamin Disraeli in Britain) could become prime minister if he was considered worthy of the role.

The Middle East, however, is a totally different reality. Religion in the Middle East is an inseparable part of politics and is often the main actor in political situations. That is how we have a political party called Hez b’ Allah –  (God’s party),  war is called Jihad (a war commanded by the Koran) and a country can be called an Islamic Republic (Iran).  Most of the Constitutions of Middle Eastern countries state clearly that Islam is the basis of their systems of law. The rule in the Middle East is that “Religion and state are twins” – Din wa-Dawla Tawaman – born at the same time and living together in harmony.

Often rulers, especially those whose legitimacy is questioned by their subjects, try to obtain religious approval for their regimes.  I dedicated an entire chapter to the public efforts of Syrian monarch Assad aimed at his being considered a bona fide Islamic ruler, although he is an Allawite. Being an Allawite means he is viewed an idol worshiper and therefore, someone who not only usurped the throne but deserves to be killed as a heretic.  He should, by all accounts, be forced to make the choice between converting to Islam or being killed.

The King of Jordan used his own funds to cover the Dome of the Rock with gold leaf in order to achieve legitimacy for his monarchy and make up for the fact that his grandfather Abdullah was brought in by the British to rule the Trans-Jordan Emirates.

Egypt’s President Sadat prayed at the Al Aqsa Mosque on his first visit to Israel in November 1977 in order to grant his visit, vehemently opposed by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a religious stamp of approval.

Saudi Arabia is also the product of mixing religion and politics. The Royal House of Saud is closely connected to the Ben Baz and Al Shaykh families, scions of Islamic scholars whose responsibility it is to grant a religious stamp of approval to the House of Saud’s monarchic ambitions, its rule over the kingdom, its citizens and economy. This is not a simple thing to accomplish since the family’s members hail from Ramat Najd in Central Saudi Arabia and are seen as foreigners everywhere, especially in Hijaz in the western part of the peninsula.

The Saudi kings call themselves “Servants of the Holy Places”, the term holy places referring to Mecca and Medina. This title is meant to grant their rule over Hijaz an Islamic religious seal of approval and to give it meaning, to cement this, they invest billions of petrodollars in improving the infrastructure of these cities: roads, bridges, railways, and accommodations for those coming to the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The Saudi government has a Hajj Minister and its investment in Mecca and Medina is especially obvious in comparison to the terrible state of neglect in which the other cities find themselves, Most noticeable is the city of Jeddah which lost over a hundred residents to flooding brought on by heavy rains.

The title “Servant of the Holy Places” is most important in the royal family’s eyes. They sign their letters with it, mention it over and over in public speeches. But things are not at all simple, and there are those, led by Shiite Iran, who question the right of the Saud family to control the places holy to all Muslims. The Shiites claim that the Sunni house of  Omayad stole the rulership over Islam from them in the middle of the 7th century and must return it to Ahl albeit  – the family of Mohammed – that is, the house of Ali ben Avi Talab, Mohammed’s son-in-law and cousin and on to their children forevermore.

The Iranian-Shiite demand to gain control in Mecca and Medina infuriates the Saudis because they see the world through the lenses of the Hannibalic school and its Wahhabi branch which considers Shiism a form of heresy, no more and no less. That is why every time Iranian pilgrims attempt to worship in accordance with their Shiite beliefs at the Hajj, the Saudi security forces in charge of maintaining the public order during the Hajj treat them with brutality, using truncheons and rifles, leaving dead and wounded in their wake.

Internationalizing the holy places

Seven months ago, in June 2017, relations between Qatar and the Saudis, Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt deteriorated to a new low.  Qatar’s relations with the rest of the Arab world have been tense since the day in 1996 when al Jazeera began its satellite broadcasts, spouting anti-establishment propaganda  supporting the Muslim  Brotherhood and its offshoots such as the Egypt-based ‘Jihad,’ Tunisian ‘al-Nahda,’  Palestinian Hamas and ‘Islamic Jihad.’

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The sanctions placed on Qatar by the Saudis and their allies are still in place, with Qatar surviving only because of the help of powerful nations – headed by Turkey and Iran – who protect its interests. Iran has been sharing a gigantic gas field with Qatar, providing the small country with all its needs after the Saudis blockaded the country. Turkey has sent armed forces to Qatar to protect the country from a possible Saudi invasion.

Qatar has taken out its rage at the Saudis via al Jazeera – the most-watched channel in the Arab world, a veritable magnet for Arab viewers – attacking the Emirates and Saudis in every possible way.

Over the last few days, Qatar has brought the conflict with the Saudis to new heights, touching the raw nerve of Saudi control in Mecca and Medina by suggesting the cities become internationalized Islamic sites. If this occurs, the Saudi monarch will not be able to use the title “Servant of the Holy Places,” will cease to gain legitimacy from that title. Internationalizing Mecca and Media will give every Arab nation the right to express its opinion on how those sites are run and Shiite Iran and Sunni Qatar, now staunch allies will have the influence on decisions about Islam’s holiest sites to the detriment of the House of Saud and despite their fury.

The internationalization idea for Mecca and Medina has greatly disturbed Saudi tranquility.

Saud Qahtani, advisor the Saudi ruler, tweeted (my additions in parentheses, M.K.) : “the cells run by Azmi (Bashara, former Israeli MK, a Christian who is an al Jazeera commentator and is pro-Arab nationalism rather than Islamism) and the shadow government of the arrogant Qataris on al Jazeera, are pushing what they call the internationalism of the two holy sites! My personal advice as a citizen of the Gulf to that scarecrow: See this as a hint from above:  He (the Saudi monarch) has no need of a ready army and circling airplanes. There are 300 jeeps which will not stop except for food (nothing else will stop them). And they will hang you along with your brave soldiers. At that point, neither Azmi (Bashara) or anyone else will be able to help you. They (the Qataris) do not fight with anyone but live by means of foul schemes, lies, and humiliation. They establish illusionary organizations (the Muslim Brotherhood) in far-off countries (the US and Europe) and shadow media (al Jazeera)  and call for internationalizing the holy sites in order to create the false impression that they have nothing to do (with that idea). The Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubayr, has warned them most clearly in the past that this is a declaration of war. Do not test the patience of the great powers, you dwarves.”

There can be no clearer threat to Qatar from the Saudis. Saud Qahtani expresses not only the Saudi ruler’s intentions – or shall we say Suleiman, his son and heir’s intentions – but also the way the Saudi monarchy views Qatar: with disgust, repulsion and the feeling that they have had quite enough of the Al Tanis, the Qatari ruling family’s behavior.

Is this a declaration of war?  I do not know, but one thing is certain, the relations between Qatar and its supporters, Iran and Turkey, vis a vis the Saudis, United Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt are becoming more and more strained. The important question, however, is how Trump sees the picture. And we must not forget that Turkey once controlled Mecca and Medina and what Qatar is saying is really Erdogan’s wish to turn the clock back to the days when the Ottoman’s ruled Hijaz.

Israel, too, has scores to settle with Qatar for its wholehearted support for  Hamas, and for the half-billion dollars Qatar has put aside to invest in wresting Jerusalem from Israel, this in addition to its incitement to anti-Israel terror on al Jazeera 24 hours a day.

The number of Israelis who will be upset if the Saudis invade Qatar is minimal – and all of those are members of the Israeli branch of the Muslim Brotherhood Islamic Movement.

Who said it is boring in the Middle East?

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News

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The Latest Situation in Israel’s Northern Border

13 hours ago

Over the weekend, a series of extremely significant events happened in the skies over northern Israel and Syria.  An Iranian drone, dispatched from Syria, flew over the Golan Heights, violating Israeli sovereignty and Israeli airspace. Within one minute, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) downed the drone and immediately embarked on a military campaign that struck at Iranian military sites inside Syria.

The Israeli military’s response was excellent. It was immediate. It was direct. And it was harsh. It struck down 12 military targets within Syria, which included four Syrian defense missile batteries, and four Iranian sites. Unfortunately, one IAF jet was downed and its pilot remains in serious condition.

On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said at a Cabinet meeting, “I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. This morning, Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. This demonstrates that our warnings were 100% correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security.”

According to Amos Yadlin, the Executive Director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who spoke on a conference call for The Israel Project, this recent military action “is perhaps the most serious event since the second Lebanese war or the alleged Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007.  It is serious because for the first time we have targeted Iranian sites in Syria, and a lot [of] Iranian bases, which leads Damascus exposed. The rules of the game are not changing. There is a determination by Iran to build a serious military force inside Syria and Lebanon, and we have a serious determination not to allow this to happen.”

Thanks to the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal, the Iranians are using much of their recently acquired wealth to build factories inside Syria and Lebanon.  The Iranian mullahs, Turkey’s Erdogan, and Russia’s Putin are all using what is left of the decimated country of Syria, after its protracted seven-year civil war, to flex their muscles.

This is a very dangerous situation.

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The Iranians are turning Syria into a Shiite military base and weapons factory. Many of these weapons are being transferred directly into the hands of Hezbollah.

According to MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Lebanese, pro-Hezbollah website Dahiyaboasted that Hezbollah has 70,000 missiles ready to launch at Israel, and by the end of the year, they will have 500,000.

Unfortunately, much of the Sunni world, who is just as fearful of an Iranian crescent as Israel is, is sitting back and letting Israel do its job (although I am certain they are applauding).

But Israel knows what it has to do to survive in the Middle East. And it has never been easy. Now, thanks to the newly enriched and emboldened Iran, the Levant might become the theater in which the attempt for Shiite hegemony will have to be confronted.

Watch this space.

Reprinted with author’s permission from EMET Online

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Netanyahu Holds Up Piece of Iranian Drone at Munich Security Conference

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 23:30

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held up a piece of the Iranian drone that infiltrated Israeli airspace last week, during his address at this year’s Munich Security Conference.

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Polish PM Claims Jews Also Perpetrated Holocaust

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 16:13

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended his country’s controversial new law concerning the  Holocaust by acknowledging on Saturday that there were Polish perpetrators in the same way there were Jewish perpetrators.

At the Munich Security Conference, Ronen Bergman, a journalist for Israeli news Yediot Ahranot questioned Morawiecki about the new law which criminalizes talk of Poles’ complicity in Nazis’ crimes. Bergman noted that his mother was a holocaust survivor who had barely escaped after her Polish neighbors planned to turn her over to the Gestapo. He questioned whether relating her experiences which implicated Poland in the Holocaust would be considered in violation of the law.

Morawiecki replied that his government would not prosecute people who claimed some Poles participated in the Holocaust.

Morawiecki responded, “It’s not going to punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukraine and German perpetrators.”

צפו | ראש ממשלת פולין בתשובה לשאלתו של @ronenbergman: “בשואה היו פושעים פולנים, כמו שהיו פושעים יהודים” • @DorGlick עם הפרטים המלאים והתיעוד >>

— חדשות עשר (@news10) February 17, 2018

He emphasized that the Nazi death camps, most of which were located in Poland, were not, in fact, Polish.

“There were no Polish death camps… There were German Nazi death camps,” Morawiecki said.

Morawiecki explained the law was aimed to prevent falsely attributing Nazi crimes in Poland under Nazi occupation to Polish government policy at the time. He said that last year Polish embassies had to respond 260 times to statements referring to “Polish death camps.”

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Morawiecki’s statement as being “outrageous”.

“There is a problem here of a misunderstanding of history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people. I plan to talk to him soon,” Netanyahu said.

This is not the first time this type of statement claiming Jewish responsibility for the Holocaust was made by a Polish official.

Last week, an adviser to Polish President Andrzej Duda, Andrzej Zybertowicz wrote on Twitter: “Yes, many Poles were complicit in the Nazi crimes. And I regret this very much. But isn’t there also the truth that many Jews were complicit in the Nazi crimes?”

More than three million Polish Jews, over 90 percent of the pre-war Jewish population, was killed in the Holocaust.

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Explosion on Gaza Border Fence Injures 4 IDF

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 14:32

An explosive device detonated on the Israeli border with Gaza targeted an IDF patrol, injuring four soldiers, two severely.

The device exploded at 3:45 PM when a patrol made up of Golani infantry soldiers and members of a combat engineering unit stopped to remove a flag that had been placed on the fence the previous day during a protest.

The soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to Soroka hospital in Beersheba for treatment, where three of them were rushed into surgery.

An IDF tank retaliated by firing a shell at a military installation in Gaza near where the explosive attack took place. Palestinian media said the observation post targeted by the IDF in response belonged to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Saturday evening, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck six Hamas targets.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the incident from Germany where he is attending a security conference.

“The incident on the Gaza border is very serious. We will respond appropriately,” said Netanyahu. He also sent his wishes for a rapid recovery to the soldiers.

“This was a severe terror attack that has the potential to destabilize the region,” said IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, adding that Hamas is responsible for the attack.


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Israeli Olympic Figure Skater Wows Judges with Hava Nagila Routine

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 04:22

Israeli Alexei Bychenko qualified for the Olympic finals on Friday with a figure skating routine set to the classic Jewish tune of Hava Nagila.

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Nikki Haley Slams Iranian Presence in Syria as Dangerous to US Forces [WATCH]

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 04:05

At a meeting of the UN Security Council briefing on the Syrian civil war in Wednesday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slammed Iran while defending the Israeli downing of an Iranian drone that penetrated Israeli airspace.

“Iran was once again doing what it does – risking conflict and testing the will of its neighbors and opponents to resist its aggression,” Haley said o the UNSC. “Israel rightly took action to defend itself. The United States will always stand by our ally when confronted with provocations from Iran, Hezbollah or the Assad regime.”

Haley’s remarks refer to an incident last Saturday when an Iranian drone was sent out from a Syrian military base into Israel. In what marked the first armed contact between Israel and Iran and the most significant conflict between Israel and Syria in recent years, an Israeli Air Force (IAF) Apache helicopter shot down the drone inside Israeli airspace and the IAF launched retaliatory strikes in Syria which included knocking out the Iranian-manned base controlling the drone. Heavy anti-aircraft response shot down an Israeli F-16.

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Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon praised Haley’s remark in a tweet he posted.

As @nikkihaley said earlier today in the Security Council, the US & Israel will always stand together in the face of Iran’s aggression and provocations as it attempts to destabilize the region. The international community mustn’t stand idly by as the Iranian threat grows rampant.

— Ambassador Danon (@dannydanon) February 14, 2018

Haley linked the incident to an attack by Syrian forces against US troops which she called a “wake-up call”.

“Last week, (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s) pro-regime forces launched an unprovoked attack against the Syrian Democratic forces and advisor from the (US-led) defeat-ISIS coalition,” Haley continued. “This was a large attack involving numerous tanks, artillery, and fighters. The (US-led) coalition acted in self-defense to repel the attack.”

“The United States will always reserve the right to act in self-defense,” she emphasized to the council. “This attack shows the recklessness of the pro-(Assad) regime fighters.”

Haley asserted that the Assad regime has “become a front for Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies to advance the irresponsible and dangerous agenda for the Middle East.”

“Iran’s mask has been removed. It is clear that they are using Syria as a launchpad for activity against Israel,” he said. “Iran is dragging the region into an adventure and will pay the price for it.”

Haley also pointed her finger in accusation at Russia’s role in Syria, saying they have enabled Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

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Palestinians Claim Jerusalem Anti-Terror Measures “Change Muslim Character of City”

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 02:18

The completion of a new watchtower on Wednesday as a response to numerous stabbing attacks at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem sparked Palestinian outrage for its “assault on Islamic heritage”.

Khaled Abu Toameh reported in Times of Israel that the Palestinians were planning a series of protests in response to the watchtower. Two more watchtowers are being planned for the Damascus gate.

Yousef Natsheh, a senior official with the Islamic Waqf Department, denounced the installation of the watchtower as an “assault on Islamic heritage and an attempt to change our history.”

He accused Israel of using security as an excuse to “distort” Damascus Gate and alter the Arab and Islamic character of Jerusalem.

“What’s happening at Damascus Gate,” he added, “is morally, scientifically, and ethically unacceptable.”

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“This is another Israeli assault on Jerusalem and its Arab population,” charged a senior Fatah official living in the city. “Israel is mistaken if it thinks we will allow it to pursue with its plan to Judaize Jerusalem and empty it of its Arab residents.”

#Israel forces establishes a control room on the Damascus Gate in the old city of #Jerusalem. #HandsOffJerusalem #BDS

— Dr. Basem Naim (@basemn63) February 15, 2018

The Middle East Eye (MEE), a  news portal covering events in the Middle East that has published several articles supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, connected the security measures to US President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Construction at the Damascus Gate area – one of the most popular entrances used by Palestinians – started a month after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” MEE wrote.

MEE quoted Mahdi Abdul Hadi, the head of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) based in Jerusalem.

“The checkpoints at Damascus Gate are aimed at paralyzing any Palestinian social, religious and youthful movements in this site,” Hadi said. “What we are witnessing are military and police procedures, under the umbrella of security, to push out Palestinians from their city.”

This reaction is similar to protests in July against the installation of metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount. After a Palestinian terror attack launched from inside the Temple Mount claimed the lives of two Israeli policemen, metal detectors were installed at the entrances used by Muslims to the compound. Muslims boycotted the site and waged protests outside the site which frequently turned violent. In response, the Israel government removed the security measures. Currently, Muslims who enter the site do not pass through any security measures. Jews who enter the site must undergo body searches and other security checks.

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Israel to Host 50 Parliamentary Officials at Forum in Knesset

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 01:15

The Knesset will host its largest ever conference next week, to be attended by 50 secretaries general and directors general of parliaments from around the world.

Among the conference participants will be representatives of the parliaments of Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the European Union, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, and Latvia. Directors general and secretaries general from Lithuania, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Nepal, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda and Ukraine are also set to attend.

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Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein noted the fact that the Knesset is among the few parliaments to hold such a conference “is indicative of the great appreciation parliaments around the world have for us. They are coming from all ends of the earth to hear about the work of the Knesset and discuss the development of the world’s parliaments.”

Participants will tour numerous sites in Jerusalem, such as the Old City, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the City of David archaeological site. They will also meet with Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage and Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin.

Members of the Knesset International Affairs Division, which organized the conference, were said to have been surprised by the number of countries whose representatives expressed interest in attending.

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Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:32

Fish are highly symbolic creatures in Judaism. Fish lack eyelids and so their eyes are never closed. This fascinating phenomenon serves as a reminder that metaphorically God’s eyes never close and that his gaze is never averted from His children. Fish also serve as symbol of fertility and continuity of the children of Israel. In Genesis 48:16 Jacob blesses his grandson Efraim in the name of his fathers Abraham and Isaac. Jacob’s blessing to Efraim is that his descendents should “grow into teeming multitudes upon the earth.” The Hebrew word in that verse that connotes growth is v’yidgu (וידגו), which is derived from the root word dag (דג) or fish. Just as fish can birth many young at once, so too does Jacob bless his grandson with fertility and perpetuity.

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Syrian Chemical Weapons May Spill Into Israel: Foreign Ministry

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:30

A classified cable sent to Israeli ambassadors by Israel’s Foreign Ministry warned that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad may again utilize chemical weapons in an ongoing civil war, and such chemicals may spill over into Israel, according to Israel’s Channel 10 news.

The cable warned that Israel would react with severity against Syria if chemical weapons were used anywhere near the Israeli border.

“It must be made clear that such an incident would require Israel to respond in the strongest possible terms,” the cable stated. “We must convey the message that Israel will not allow this and will defend itself, its citizens and its sovereignty.”

Ambassadors were asked to inform senior political leaders in the countries where they’re stationed of the threat of an escalation of hostilities if Iran is continued to be allowed to entrench in Syria. The cable also encouraged ambassadors to call for international pressure on Iran to halt aggression towards Israel and ongoing support for Hezbollah.

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The ministry sent the warning to 15 Israeli ambassadors around the world as part of guidelines issued on addressing the topics of Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah terror organization in their host countries, following a military escalation this week between Israel and Syria.

Syrian anti-aircraft missiles downed an Israeli F16 after Israel shot down an Iranian drone that penetrated Israeli airspace, and then retaliated on numerous military installations in Syria, including the drone’s launch site. After the F16 was hit, Israel launched another set of reprisals that reportedly neutralized up to half of Syria’s air-defense capabilities.

Though Syria’s government denied owning chemical weapons, calling them “immoral and unacceptable,” a joint investigation team of experts from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons concluded that Assad used Sarin nerve gas in an aerial attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 100 people in April, and used chlorine gas in at least two attacks on his opponents in 2014 and 2015.

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Poland to ‘Re-Examine’ Law Returning Stolen Property to Jewish Survivors

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:00

The Polish government has decided to “re-examine” a draft bill to compensate Holocaust survivors for property confiscated from Jews during World War 2, Ynet reported, citing the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), which expressed a concern that the Polish Justice Ministry would slip the bill into cold storage for the foreseeable future.

WJRO chairman Gideon Taylor his expressed deep concern about the move, and called on the Polish government to expedite and improve the bill. “We call on the Polish government to enact a just and fair law for all those whose properties have been confiscated, including Holocaust survivors from Poland and their families,” he said, adding, “The survivors who waited more than 70 years can not wait any longer.”

It is believed that the reason for returning the law to the Justice Ministry is the wave of anti-Semitism sweeping Poland, and the government’s fear that returning property to Jews would not win them friends in the Polish public.

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The draft bill, which was published in October and sparked an international storm (the WJRO criticized it harshly because it included clauses that effectively prevent any reparations to the vast majority of the survivors and their families), was supposed to be approved by the end of 2017.

According to the bill, a survivor who wishes to file a claim must be a Polish citizen (today) who lived in the country when their property was confiscated by the communist regime. Under these conditions, most survivors who left Poland during or immediately after the Holocaust would not be able to file a lawsuit.

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NFL Players Awed By God’s Presence in the Holy Land

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:31

Barely one week after the Super Bowl, seven of the top NFL players are on a six-day tour of Israel after landing in the Jewish state on Tuesday night. Their visit has already evoked feelings of awe and wonder at the sense of spirituality and connection with God in the land of Israel.

“In Israel, more than anything, you know that you are standing on holy ground,” Vic Beasley of the Atlanta Falcons told reporters.

Vic Beasley Jr in Shiloh (Photo courtesy Westray Communications)

Beasley made his remarks during a tour of Shiloh, the home of the ancient Tabernacle for 369 years.

The whole community of B’nei Yisrael assembled at Shilo, and set up the Tent of Meeting there. The land was now under their control; Joshua 18:1

He had also taken the time meditate on the Biblical story of Hannah praying for a son at the site of the Tabernacle.

In her wretchedness, she prayed to Hashem, weeping all the while. I Samuel 1:10

Beasley is known for using his religious belief to overcome personal and professional challenges. He frequently posts Bible verses on social media and has spoken in interviews about how his faith in God helped him to cope with his father’s recent death.

Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins, considered one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, had a similar experience in Shiloh.

“There is a power that comes over you, an aura you can’t really describe,” Norman said.

He also spoke of a prayer session that the players had at the site.

“Me and my brothers we said a prayer. It was an energy, a force. You know that something is powerful here. God is moving in a powerful way. You can experience his awesomeness.”

Norman is active in the churches of Greenwood, South Carolina where he lives. He has also been involved in charitable initiatives including donations of large sums towards hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

The other NFL players on the tour were Chris Harris Jr of the Denver Broncos, Avery Williamson of the Tennessee Titans, Austin Seferian-Jenkins of the NY Jets, Mitch Schwartz of the Kansas City Chiefs, and his brother Geoff who retired in 2017 after a 9-year career playing for several different teams. Some of the players were joined by their family.

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The trip to Israel is the first visit for Geoff and Mitch Schwartz, who are both Jewish.

One of the NFL entourage blowing shofar (Photo courtesy Westray Communications)

In addition to touring the many Jewish and Christian sites as well as experiencing life in the Holy Land, the players will also be meeting with Israeli officials including President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  

The players will even take time out of their busy schedules to encourage the growth of American football in Israel. They will meet with Israel Football League (IFL) players on-field at the Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem and pose for photos as well as sign autographs for Israeli football players and fans. Currently, there are 1,350 active football players in Israel as well as a semi-professional tackle league and dozens of high school teams.

The trip was organized by America’s Voices in Israel, a nonprofit that provides high-profile Americans with the opportunity to experience Israel firsthand.

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Israel Sweetening the Lives of Diabetics

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 10:02

An Israeli company is finding a way to provide diabetics with a diet that is just as sweet as one with a higher degree of carbohydrate intake but has practically no effect on blood sugar levels.

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