Thursday, November 14, 2019

From Ian:

Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief Warns of ‘Astronomical’ Level of Antisemitism on US College Campuses
College campuses across the US have seen a “very significant” rise in antisemitism in recent times, Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief Dovid Efune warned in an interview with Fox 55/27 Illinois last week.

“According to one study, 54% of Jewish students have witnessed or experienced antisemitism on campuses in the United States,” Efune said. “According to another study at Brandeis University, 75% — I mean, these are astronomical numbers.”

“There’s a group based out in California called the AMCHA Initiative, and the biggest predictor they found of antisemitism on an American college campus is the presence of a group called Students for Justice in Palestine, SJP,” Efune explained.

“There’s also a sort of new environment when it comes to white supremacist ideology,” he added. “The rise of different social media platforms that have allowed such hatred to coalesce and to really form communities has also resulted in a rise in hate crimes from the right.”

Deportation of Shakir is a win for democracy
BDS can easily be seen as a type of hate speech associated with no shortage of violent and otherwise illegal acts.

Viewing BDS in this light is perhaps best understood in the context of Natan Sharansky’s “Three-D Test” for identifying anti-Semitism. This criteria, which has been utilized by the State Department, holds as anti-Semitic acts that delegitimize, demonize, or apply double standards against Israel. Sharansky himself has gone on record that BDS fails this test.

Shakir’s pending deportation can also be interpreted through trends in contemporary leftist thought. In recent years, and especially in the same virtue-signaling, “woke” circles that routinely target Israel, it has been all the rage to call for various restrictions on speech deemed offensive to certain communities.

Whether through attempts to ban mainstream commentators like Ben Shapiro from college campuses or outright suggestions that those saying abhorrent things should be prosecuted, there are foundations in progressive thought for Israel to take aggressive action against those engaged in “verbal violence.”

What constitutes verbal violence against Israelis should, of course, be determined by Israelis and not the European Union and other outsiders. In the same way one might be accused of “whitesplaining” for attempting to delineate what people of color can consider racist, Israeli Jews, like other historically marginalized communities, should be afforded the same courtesy in determining for themselves which speech constitutes an attack on their personhood. BDS fits the bill.

From the perspective of mainstream democratic theory to contemporary leftism activism, Israel’s decision to deport Omar Shakir is well within its rights. Like all democracies, Israel has room for improvement. Providing a staging ground for Shakir’s hate speech is not one of them.
DC Charity Is Accused Of Violating Anti-Terrorism Act By Providing Monetary Support To Hamas
A U.S.-based charity violated the Anti-Terrorism Act by knowingly providing monetary support to Hamas and other designated terrorist organizations responsible for launching incendiary devices into Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to a civil lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday.

The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), a Washington, D.C.-based charity, acts as a fiscal sponsor for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), an umbrella organization that promotes and sponsors Hamas and at least four other State Department-designated terrorist organizations, Tablet Magazine reported in 2018.

The lawsuit, filed by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), an Israel-based public benefit company, and three U.S. families living in Israel, seeks to hold USCPR civilly liable for providing material support to terror organizations that have caused tens of millions of dollars in damages to victims living in southern Israel.

The USCPR’s role as BNC’s fiscal sponsor enables U.S. citizens to make tax-deductible donations to the BNC, the lawsuit states. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has been widely condemned as an anti-Semitic effort that denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. (RELATED: Ilhan Omar Feuds With Nancy Pelosi Over Anti-Israel BDS Movement)

“It is money that flows through to the BNC, which is made up of these terror organizations, and that’s very clear from the documented evidence,” Richard D. Heideman, the senior counsel representing the plaintiffs, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

  • Thursday, November 14, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
While Islamic Jihad has been declaring victory in this week's fighting, claiming that they got Israel to agree to various demands (the first of which was no more targeted assassinations!), the people of Gaza - at least the more militant ones - know better.

The PalDF forum, mostly with Gazans sympathetic to Jihad, have been dismissive of Islamic Jihad claims. One message said that Islamic Jihad couldn't win because it was controlled by Iran remotely.
Another asked if Hamas, which didn't join in, is still a member of the "axis of resistance." A number of them expressed frustration that not a single "Zionist" was killed in the rocket barrage.

The AmadPS news site has a disclaimer on its header saying that the "Battle of Gaza" revealed that the "axis of resistance" is a political lie.

In northern Gaza, hundreds - maybe thousands of people demonstrated against the cease fire! They were chanting, "We want to hit Tel Aviv! And the people want to hit Tel Aviv!"

This is the Gaza that the Western media does not want you to know about.

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Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

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IRGC sealTehran, November 14 - Leaders of the Islamic Republic asserted again their commitment to combating the existence of the Jewish State until no more Palestinians remain as proxies for that combat, officials in the capital declared today.

An official announcement by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Defense today, in conjunction with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - Quds Force, declared these and other Iranian entities willing to fight Israel down to the last Palestinian.

"So sacred is the mission to liberate Palestine from the usurper and so devoted our we to the freedom of our Palestinian brethren that we will not rest until every last Palestinian is expended in the prosecution of that holy duty," the statement read. "If it takes seven more decades to undo the injustice of Western Zionist colonialism in the home of Al-Aqsa, no matter how many Palestinian lives it costs, so be it. To this we pledge our honor and our souls."

Iran has served as the chief financier and source of arms for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the terrorist organization operating out of the Gaza Strip that has fired the vast majority of the hundreds of rockets aimed at Israeli civilian areas in the last several days. The Islamic Republic has pursued a similar agenda via Lebanese in Lebanon, Syrians and other in Syria, and Yemenis in Yemen, paid to put themselves in harm's way in order to advance Iran's regional ambitions, one of which appears to be the use of non-Iranians as cannon fodder.

"Our Palestinian brothers may remain calmer and more steadfast in their efforts to expel the Zionist invader, now that they know how much we continue to support them, and will continue to support their efforts," the statement continued. "We encourage you, O Palestinians, to drive out the imperialist dogs, persisting in your dedication to this sacred task as long as necessary. We will supply you with whatever you need until there are no more left of you to supply."

"Now go forth and fight, brave soldiers!" the Iranians exhorted their Palestinian allies. "Our mighty treasury stands behind you, as we do. About a thousand kilometers behind, to be more specific, because we, uh, we don't want to get in your way or anything. Yeah. We would just be a nuisance, fighting there with you or doing anything directly. This is your fight, after all. In which we support you. Every last one of you."

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From Ian:

Gaza’s Terrorists Are Finally Isolated and Exposed
During this week’s conflict, Israel has not yet targeted Hamas, Gaza’s governing terrorist organization. But there’s now much speculation about what Hamas will do in response to the flare-up. Islamic Jihad has no governing control of Gaza, but, as the current violence demonstrates, it can easily draw the Strip into conflict. And it is Hamas’s failure to curb Islamic Jihad’s continued provocations against Israel that has led to the present crisis.

As Abu al-Ata ramped up his campaign against the Jewish state, Israel warned Hamas that it wasn’t going to take it forever. “Via publications in various media outlets; messages conveyed by Egyptian intelligence; and warnings via international mediators,” writes Avi Issacharoff at the Times of Israel, “Israel repeatedly urged Hamas to take action.” Hamas didn’t act. Israel did.

If Hamas doesn’t now work to get Islamic Jihad in line, the fighting could easily escalate. And, as we’ve seen in the past, Gaza will suffer far more than Israel in any prolonged exchange. But what’s different this time is that Gaza’s endlessly self-inflicted woes don’t inspire the same degree of international sympathy they once did, at least not where it counts.

Sunni Arab kingdoms are now more-or-less allied with Israel against Iran. They’re not interested in upsetting that relationship for the sake of a reckless terrorist group that’s backed by Iran. What’s more, Islamic Jihad’s attack on Sderot broke a commitment that the group made to Egyptian authorities in October about maintaining calm in Gaza. The broken pledge angered Egypt, which had even released some Islamic Jihad prisoners (reportedly with Israel’s consent) as a show of good faith in negotiations. Finally, in the United States, it’s highly unlikely that the Trump administration—a steadfast defender of Israel’s right to self-defense—will stoop to the kind of moral equivalence articulated by Obama administration officials whenever Israel targeted its enemies.

For now, Hamas has formally condemned the assassination of Abu al-Ata. If it stops there and makes Islamic Jihad hold back, then it may spare some Gazans further misery. But Hamas is not known either for restraint or responsive governance.
Jonathan Tobin: Self-defense for everyone but Israel
By treating Israel and its efforts at self-defense as morally equivalent to the actions of Islamic Jihad and the Hamas terrorist regime ruling Gaza, the Jewish state’s critics are not just undermining Jewish security, but dooming Palestinians trapped in the Strip to continued siege and mistreatment at the hands of their terrorist masters.

Lastly, there is the question of Netanyahu’s alleged cynical manipulation of the security situation for his own political benefit.

At this point, there is virtually nothing the prime minister can do that would not be subjected to criticism. When he demonstrates a reluctance to use force, he is accused of being indecisive. When, as is the case now, he acts on the advice of his security chiefs and orders the Israel Defense Forces to eliminate a threat, he is accused not only of inflaming the situation but of doing so merely in order to gain some tactical political advantage.

Yet after more than 13 years of service as Israel’s leader, if there is one thing widely known about Netanyahu, it is that he is extremely cautious about risking the lives of Israel’s soldiers and more interested in deterring war than in risking an escalation to prove a point or demonstrate his toughness. Criticize him all you like for his policies or his personality, but when he has ordered the armed forces to act, it has only happened after every other option has been tried.

Even if this latest bout of violence does not escalate into all-out war and leads to a temporary calm between Israel and Gaza returns, observers should not ignore the two factors that rest at the heart of the problem: Palestinian rejectionism and Iran.

As long as the culture of Palestinian politics rewards the shedding of blood and punishes peacemaking, the Palestinian Authority, PIJ and Hamas will continue to replicate this scenario. The true cycle of violence isn’t one in which Israel is forever being blamed for causing trouble by killing terrorists, but the one in which Palestinians remain locked in a dynamic of endless war they can’t escape.

Secondly, the Middle East continues to pay the price for President Barack Obama’s appeasement, empowerment and enriching of Iran. Tehran’s fingerprints are all over every escalation of fighting between Gaza and Israel, as well as threats to the Jewish state’s northern border. Its ability to fund and promote PIJ gives it leverage over Hamas and ensures that the conflict with Israel stays as hot as possible. The best way to prevent violence between Israel and the Palestinians is to keep the pressure on Iran by stepping up sanctions that limit its ability to cause trouble in the region and fund terrorism.

The discussion about Israel and the Palestinians in the United States continues to be driven by liberal critics of Israel who think that the conflict is driven by Israeli intransigence and Netanyahu’s belligerence. But this week’s violence is one more reminder that the problem has little to do with those factors and everything to do with a toxic Palestinian political culture, prompted by Iran’s malevolent desire to foment violence.

BESA: Gaza Fighting Highlights Differences between Hamas and Islamic Jihad
While Hamas views the use of violence as a means for increasing the volume of trade with Israel and securing the inflow of Qatari money to enhance the welfare of the Gaza population, Islamic Jihad seeks confrontation as part of an Iranian strategy to deflect attention from its Syrian military buildup and regional expansion.

Hamas must take into consideration its popular base, which includes 50,000 men and women whose salaries depend on Hamas' retention of control of Gaza.

Most Gazans live in a society that is almost exclusively Sunni and suspect Islamic Jihad members of being Shiites in disguise. This is why in elections in Gaza universities and trade unions, Islamic Jihad secures a mere 2-3% support.

At Abu Ata's funeral procession just hours after his killing, it was hard to count more than 100 participants. No flags of other Gaza organizations were visible.

Islamic Jihad's paltry popular base means its dependence on Iran is all the greater. Moreover, PIJ can operate purely as a fighting arm without the need to take into account the welfare of the Gaza population.

Hamas leaders are keenly aware who wags Islamic Jihad's tail, the reasons behind its activities, and the ways its strategy contradicts Hamas' current agenda. However, Hamas can only constrain rather than stop Islamic Jihad because it needs Iran as well.

  • Thursday, November 14, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Some pro-terror Palestinian media is trying to turn Islamic Jihad terrorist Baha Abu-al Ata's daughter Lian into a poster child for the horrors of Israeli aggression.

Lian was interviewed shortly after her parents were killed by an Israeli airstrike early Monday morning.

She said that they rarely saw her father and he usually didn’t sleep at home because "the occupation" always chased him, and that they always missed him. Monday was her birthday and it was supposed to be a surprise that he is home, and instead of that, he was “martyred” and he took her mother with him too.

Lian vowed that she would get even as soon as she grows up, and she is upset that so far there was no revenge. She is angry that she did not hear about any dead Jews, although from the moment that her daddy was “martyred”, there were supposed to be lots of rockets aimed at the Jews to burn and kill them.

She was also upset that her party plans didn't work out.

Israeli intelligence must have found out about Baha's plans to sleep there overnight, and probably take advantage to be with his wife (he could have come in the morning to surprise her with lots of people around - he arrived at 3 AM.)

 It sounds like Lian's birthday gave the IDF the opportunity to finally eliminate Baha Abu al-Ata.

(h/t Ibn Boutros)

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  • Thursday, November 14, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs  - Occupied Palestinian Territories recently created an interactive webpage (powered by Microsoft PowerBI) where you can create queries for different statistics on casualties in Israel and the territories since 2008.

Some of the statistics are obviously wrong. For example, if you query Israeli civilians killed from Gaza aggression since 2008, it says there were 8 men killed - no women or children.

Yet Daniel Tregerman, 4, of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, was killed from a mortar attack in 2014. Flora Gez and Shula Karlinsky were killed in a terror attack by Gazans who infiltrated Israel in 2011. Altogether I count 23 civilians killed by Gazans since  2008 - 15 Israeli Jews, 4 Israeli Arabs or Druze, 1 Palestinian Arab, 3 foreign workers. This is significantly higher than OCHA's numbers.

As with Amnesty's "Gaza Platform," sexy analytics are no substitute for accuracy, and in both cases the neat interactive graphics imply that the statistics are accurate - and they are not. Not by a long shot.

There's another problem, even beyond publishing blatantly false statistics.

The UN's OCHA-OPT categorizes three of those eight civilians they count to be "settlers" - even though they were all living within the Green Line:

Why are they considered "settlers" - and what difference does it make if they were?

Here is the UN graphic of all Israeli fatalities since 2008. There are three categories - civilians, "civilian-settler" and security forces:

Looking at Israeli civilian victims of terror within Israel outside Gaza shows 41 killed - but 33 of them are called "settlers":

Of course, of the 65 civilians killed in Judea and Samaria attacks, 64 of them are considered "settlers."

How does the UN categorize some Israeli civilians as "settlers?" And, more importantly - why? By creating this artificial distinction, the UN is giving the impression that murdering civilian "settlers"  is somehow more justified that killing plain "civilians."  Yet international law makes no distinctions between civilians and "settlers."

So why does the UN?

It is difficult to interpret this in any way other than the UN is saying that Jews who live in Judea and Samaria (or even some Jews living in certain sections of Israel itself) are more deserving of death than "real" civilians.

This also implies that the UN considers some areas of Israel even within the Green Line to be "occupied" and its citizens "settlers." Otherwise these statistics make no sense - none of the victims in the south and few within the Green Line could remotely be considered "settlers" unless the UN is using something like the 1947 partition lines as Israel's borders.

OCHA-OPT ignored my request for clarification of their methodology.

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  • Thursday, November 14, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
There is no one accepted definition of terrorism, but of the dozens of definitions adopted by various countries, most mention the basis for the etymology of the word - an act meant to inspire fear and terror in the public for political purposes.

Palestinian media has been filled these past days, as they were during previous rocket barrages, with photos and videos purporting to show Israeli civilians (often called "settlers") in fear of the rockets.

It is perverse. There is joy at seeing Israelis run for cover or shouting for their loved ones to take cover in the seconds before a rocket will hit the area.

If Israeli media would gleefully publish videos of panic-stricken Gazans, Israelis would be rightly vilified worldwide for how callous they are at the very real fear that ordinary Gazans have of airstrikes. But these sorts of articles are widespread in Palestinian media.

Part of it comes, no doubt, from sites that are associated with terror groups themselves. The honor/shame mentality wants to show that these groups matter - they can affect the lives of the hated enemy. The thing they hate most is being marginalized and ignored. Like a toddler, they are gratified at the grown-ups taking notice of their tantrums.

But part of it is also that they have embraced terror as their very identity. They don't have any realistic military goals against Israel, but making ordinary Israelis run for safety is something they can do. It is a reflection of their impotence that makes them so happy to pretend that their rockets matter.

And they want to see Israelis panic so much that they are willing to risk the lives of their own people just to get those videos and photos. Just so they can pretend to their audience that they are big and strong enough to get a reaction - they are not totally irrelevant.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

After Israel killed a military commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) organization in Gaza, PIJ responded with (as of 18:00 Wednesday afternoon), 400 rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. This skirmish in the hundred year war against Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael will certainly not be the last. If you are wondering why they do this, knowing that the IDF will strike back painfully, destroying infrastructure and killing their people, and knowing that there is zero chance that it will cause the Jews to abandon their homeland, there is an answer. It is an answer that explains much in the history of the conflict, as well as many otherwise inexplicable events.

The answer is to be found in one of the first principles of Palestinism and its corollaries.

But first, what is Palestinism? It is the belief that the Palestinian Arabs were unfairly victimized, dispossessed, colonized, raped, punished, expelled, murdered, degraded, castrated, etc. by the Zionist Jews who created the State of Israel, which continues to do all these things to them. Palestinism holds that this is the single greatest injustice in the world today, and only the replacement of the world’s only Jewish state by an Arab state can rectify it.

I can’t prove it, but I’m sure that although most Palestinists would demand that Israel be replaced by a Palestinian state, if Israel were to disappear, the Palestinian Cause itself would fade away. That is, it is not actually about obtaining justice for this particular group of Arabs as much as it is about getting rid of the Jewish state.

Since it is impossible to establish the truth of Palestinism by historical analysis (because it is not true), it must be accepted on faith. It is therefore more like a religion than a hypothesis.

So what is the principle of Palestinism that causes them to fight pointless battles? I like to state it this way: for Palestinists, it is always preferable to hurt Jews than to help Arabs. Ironically, Jews are more important to them than Palestinians, in a negative way of course.

There is no end to examples.  For example, economic resources in the hands of Hamas – even aid specifically intended to improve the conditions of life in Gaza – are always redirected toward offensive weapons to use against Israel. Instead of providing clean water, electricity, or waste treatment facilities, Hamas prefers to dig attack tunnels, manufacture rockets, and raise armies. Back in 2007, six people were killed when the bank of a lagoon full of human waste collapsed. But on the same day, Qassam rockets were fired at Israel.

Historically, the hurt/help principle explains why Palestinian Arab leaders did not accept any of the several offers of statehood they received, starting with the Peel Commission in 1937. It explains why the Arab states (more Palestinist than the Palestinians themselves) forced the 1948 refugees into camps and refused to allow any solution other than reentry into Israel, even for the great grandchildren of the original refugees. It explains why the PLO and the UN refused to allow refugees in Gaza to move into new neighborhoods built for them by Israel after 1967. It explains the persistence of UNRWA and the whole massive edifice of Palestinist institutions created by the UN. Of course, the ultimate expression of the principle is suicide terrorism, where the terrorist sacrifices him or herself in order to murder Jews.

One corollary is that any action or policy that hurts Jews is good, even if it will also hurt Arabs. So Palestinians cheered when Saddam’s scuds or Hezbollah’s rockets hit Israel, even though they could not be aimed precisely enough to kill only Jews.

Another corollary is that the more unhappy, angry, and unfree Palestinians are, the better it is, at least as long as the anger can be directed at the Jews and Israel.

As you have probably noticed, you don’t have to be a Palestinian or even an Arab to be a Palestinist. In fact, it’s better not to be, since then you don’t have to suffer the consequences yourself. You can call for a two-state or even one-state solution from your home in Berkeley or North Tel Aviv while enjoying the benefits of living in a free society, when – if you got your way – Palestinians would live under a corrupt, oppressive, dictatorship run by the PLO, Hamas, or some even worse regime. Ask the Arab citizens of Israel whether they prefer living as a minority in the Zionist entity that they constantly criticize for being “racist” or to join their relatives in the PA areas or Gaza Strip; the great majority are satisfied with their lives in Israel.

Nevertheless, Palestinism is the religion of the UN, the EU, the human rights establishment, most academics in the humanities and social sciences, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, and many of those who call themselves “progressives.”

Failure to understand the hurt/help principle has led to well-meaning attempts to end the conflict ending in massive debacles. The most egregious example is the Oslo accords, where there was an expectation that legitimization and massive amounts of aid would improve the economic condition of the Palestinians, and that they would then concentrate on building their own state instead of attacking ours. Of course, the opposite happened. To this day, there are proposals to end the simmering war with Gaza by improving the economy there, all of which ignore the fact that their economy is a disaster because they insist on keeping the war simmering (and sometimes, like today, boiling).

But it is a mistake that we keep making, over and over. Shimon Peres imagined a New Middle East, where economic cooperation overrode political conflict; but without ending Palestinism, economic improvements – if they are possible – simply translate into weapons for more conflict.

If the conflict will ever end – and it’s hard to be optimistic – Palestinism, with its phony history and promise of sweet revenge for the eternally aggrieved, will have to be discredited, and the mechanisms created to perpetuate it will have to be dismantled.

There is one bright spot: for the first time in decades, an American administration has taken steps to defund UNRWA, the UN machinery that nurtures Palestinism while stimulating the growth of the “refugee” population (its soldiers) geometrically. This structure, created by antisemitic European hypocrites and Israel’s Arab enemies, is astronomically expensive and only the participation of the US, the world’s largest economy, has made it possible.

It could be that Donald Trump’s greatest contribution to the survival of the State of Israel could be in killing UNRWA, something far more important in the long run than the location of the US Embassy.

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From Ian:

David Singer: Release of Trump Deal Could Break Israel Elections Deadlock
The release of President Trump’s long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated deal of the century could be just the catalyst required to persuade Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu bloc of 8 members to join Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s bloc of 55 members to form Israel’s next Government.

Trump has previously announced that he would not present his plan to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict until a new Israeli government was formed – but Trump’s position could be dramatically altered as the current political uncertainty in Israel seems to be leading to a third election being called within the space of 12 months.

New Right chairwoman Ayelet Shaked has been trying in the past week – unsuccessfully so far – to create a situation that would bring Liberman’s bloc and Netanyahu’s bloc together to enable a new government to be sworn in.

Shaked has reportedly met with Liberman. Afterwards, she also met with United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov Litz man and Degel Hatorah chairman Moshe Gafni.

These meetings focused on a compromise on issues of religion and state – and especially the Draft Lawrequiring ultra-orthodox youth to do military service – which would allow the parties to sit together in government – as was the case throughout much of the term of the last elected Government.

Both sides reportedly were willing to listen but found it too difficult to compromise. Liberman's side is interested in recording an achievement on the Draft Law – while the ultra-orthodox seek to prevent the law from becoming too sharply-worded.

President Trump must be champing at the bit at the continuing failure of the major political parties in Israel – Likud and Blue and White – to form a Government of National Unity – that would have heralded the release of Trump’s peace proposals in September.

Trump says he worries about Israel as missiles fly, jokes at political deadlock
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he was watching missiles fly into Israel with concern, and also joked at Israel’s political system. Speaking at a Jewish event, he quipped that if impeached he could move to Israel and quickly become prime minister.

“What kind of a system is it over there, right, with Bibi and…? They are all fighting and fighting,” Trump said, addressing an event hosted by the Orthodox organization America First in New York City.

“We have different kinds of fights. At least we know who the boss is. They keep having elections and nobody is elected,” he quipped, eliciting laughter.

Israel is currently in a political deadlock after an unprecedented second election within a few months, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his rival Benny Gantz having a clear path to a governing coalition. There is a looming possibility of the country going to the polls soon for the third time in a year.

The crowd welcomed Trump like a king — literally. In presenting Trump, the host, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson, recited a traditional blessing said when meeting a king or a state leader.

Genie Milgrom, 63, always felt uncomfortable in the Roman Catholic milieu in which she was raised. She seemed to gravitate to the Jewish kids, all the way back to summer camp, the year she was seven. As time went on, she found she was thirsty to learn more about Judaism, and finally, at 35, she converted with an orthodox Beit Din. Then, a series of events led Milgrom to the realization that she was one more in a long line of crypto-Jews, and she had the documents to prove it.
Here is the shortened form of her story: Milgrom’s grandmother died on a Friday, and the funeral was held the next day. That meant Genie, as an orthodox, Sabbath-observant Jew, could not attend. Upset, she asked her mother why they couldn’t delay the funeral to the following day, a Sunday, so that she might attend. Her mother explained that it was family custom to bury relatives immediately, and that set the wheels in Genie’s mind turning. It was not a Catholic, but a Jewish custom to bury relatives as soon as possible.
Then, the day after the funeral, Genie’s mother handed her a box that her grandmother had specified be delivered upon her death. In the box were a Star of David earring and a hamsa pendant, the symbol of a hand used by Sephardic Jews to ward off the evil eye. Genie thought of some of the odd customs of her grandmother, like checking eggs for blood, or burning a bit of the dough when she made bread or cake. A light went on and she knew the truth: her grandmother must have been a secret Jew, what used to be called a Marrano and is today called a converso or crypto-Jew.
Genie began a search for her roots that culminated in the discovery that her maternal grandmothers had all been crypto-Jews going all the way back to the Inquisition: for a grand total of 15 documented, crypto-Jewish grandmothers. That’s when Genie decided to visit a rabbi. She wanted to be declared Jewish from birth. After all, she’d always felt Jewish. And now she knew it was because she was Jewish. Had been Jewish all along.
Genie's great great great grandmother was the great great grandmother to both her grandparents who were cousins
It took many more years of research and documentation but at last Genie had everything she’d been told she needed to be declared Jewish from birth by a prominent rabbinical court in Israel. Including the fact that she had now documented 22 grandmothers of straight matrilineal Jewish descent! “It took them two and a half years to translate everything from medieval Spanish and Portuguese to Hebrew,” Genie said, “but in the end, I got a beautiful letter saying that, while I came to Judaism one way, through conversion, I was in fact born Jewish.”
The letter Genie received included the phrase, “God works in mysterious ways.”
The cover of Genie's cookbook Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers is a compilation of photos of her mother, maternal grandmother, great grandmothers, and great great grandmothers
Genie wrote up her story in My 15 Grandmothers, and has now written a cookbook based on family recipes, Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers: Unique Recipes and Stories from the Times of the Crypto-Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. Never idle, today Genie travels around the world, talking about her experiences and raising awareness of the bnei anusim. I spoke with Genie to learn more about her life and her work:
Varda Epstein: You always felt you didn’t fit into the Roman Catholic world in which you were raised. And you always gravitated to Jewish friends and were thirsty to learn about their customs. Eventually, you converted only to subsequently discover your genealogy of 15 Jewish grandmothers. I think I understand, but can you tell me in your own words why was it so important for you to be declared a Jew from birth?
Genie Milgrom:  The reasons vary. Initially it was important so that I could validate all the feelings I had as a child that didn’t make sense. Then it was because I had such joy in being Jewish and I had not converted my children: I wanted that they should also be part of my ancestry. Finally, and still today, it was to prove that it can be done, so that all the bnei anusim* that are struggling to return only with documents and no conversion, could know that it is totally possible.
Varda Epstein: Was your desire to be declared Jewish difficult to explain to Jews of other streams, who may not accept the concept of matrilineal Jewish descent? I once met a converso who resisted conversion, feeling that she was “Jewish enough.”
Genie Milgrom: Yes, I do get those quizzical looks still today, but most people at the end of the day understand that to make aliyah or be married in Israel, given the religious climate there, it must be done this way. People in tune to the politics about this in Israel understand this much more.
Varda Epstein: Okay, so I’m kind of fascinated with the whole thing of you’re wanting to be declared Jewish from birth. How much of your intuition about your Jewish background do you credit to your Sephardi heritage? Is intuition more of a Sephardi characteristic, do you think? Did all the women in your family have intuition?
Genie Milgrom: Yes, all the women in my family are tuned in to each other. At least for sure my maternal grandmom, mom, sister, me, and my daughter. We know what the other is thinking, we understand intuitively what is going on with each other, we work on the same types of projects at the same time without the other knowing. Scientists now say there is genetic memory in our DNA. I believe this to be true, one-hundred percent.
Varda Epstein: Your new book, Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers, sounds like it is as much a history as a cookbook, reflecting your crypto-Jewish heritage. Can you tell us about some of the recipes that give a hint to a family that was hiding its Jewish heritage?
Genie Milgrom: The recipes, you could tell, spanned many grandmothers. The papers were thinner and with pencil-markings, others already with pen, and some newer ones from the 1900s, were typed. They were all stained and I could just feel my grandmothers through the papers.
I have a fake pork chop recipe made of bread and sugar and milk and we have histories that tell us that the crypto-Jews would throw a real pork chop into the fire to make believe they were eating pork! 
Chuletas (imitation pork chops)
There was a cake called Bollo Maimon (Maimon's cake) eaten at that time, which evokes the name of Maimonides, the great Jewish scholar. Meat and milk were never mixed. There were several recipes for cakes made with cornstarch or potato starch, which would be suitable for Passover.
Bollo Maimon (Maimon's Cake)
Bollo Maimon

A light and fluffy Bundt cake that is both kosher for Passover and parve.

Genie says: “My grandmother always told me this was a recipe from Salamanca, a large city a bit south of Fermoselle, and an hour and a quarter drive. These are still all Spanish recipes but I find it interesting that my grandmother made the distinction that this particular recipe was NOT from Fermoselle.
“I find this to be an unusual recipe in that it can be used for Passover because there is no flour. My grandmother also told me that it could be eaten after any meal. I did not understand at the time but that means that the recipe is parve and not dairy, as the Jewish dietary laws do not allow milk to be eaten after a meat meal.
“This may well have been one of the original Sephardic cakes. The name of the famous Jewish Sage, Maimonides, was Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon. Is there a correlation? We will never know, but if there is no connection, then it is truly an odd name for a cake!”
·         10 medium eggs
·         1 cup cornstarch or potato starch
·         2 teaspoons baking powder
·         1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for decoration


1.       Separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form peaks.
2.       Mix all the other ingredients well, including the egg yolks.
3.       Fold in the egg whites and place in a greased Bundt pan.
4.       Bake at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
5.       Sprinkle with powdered sugar on top.
Varda Epstein: How did your family members feel about your conversion?

Genie Milgrom: It was not simple. I can’t imagine a family that would embrace this change. yet as hard as the conversion was, I am certain it was harder when they learned everyone was Jewish from birth.
Varda Epstein: How does it work to be a crypto-Jew? Is it only certain customs that are handed down, or at some point, do the elders have a talk with their descendants, explaining what’s what? Is it different for every family?
Genie Milgrom: It was different for all families but what we know is that the children were usually told at bar/bat mitzvah age. Customs that were strong for the family were passed down and mostly the ones to do with cooking. While very few customs about praying were handed down, holidays were observed but on different days to ward off suspicion.
Genie Milgrom accepts an award for her global work on the return of the bnei anusim or descendants of crypto-Jews at Young Israel of Kendall, in Miami.  
Varda Epstein: We already know you’re a woman of intuition. What did it feel like when you visited Fermoselle?
Genie Milgrom: This was a moment of knocking my breath out at every turn. I could feel the walls and the rocks and stones and I knew where to turn and I was walking and looking for streets that I just knew instinctively. It was eerie at best.
Genie Milgrom's first trip to Fermoselle, in background.

Varda Epstein: Do you think your ancestors made the right decision to go into hiding? What would you have done, in their shoes?

Genie Milgrom: I cannot say, honestly. I do not know why they stayed. I know many stayed because the elderly could not travel, yet I think my family may have thought they would hide for a little while and then maybe an attitude of “This too shall pass” set in. I don’t know what I would do. It would depend on how old the family members were, but knowing how little I like change, I may have chosen to stay and do what they did.

Aerial view of Fermoselle
Varda Epstein: Have your children come around to accepting your conversion? Do they think of themselves as Jewish?
Genie Milgrom: My children always accepted my conversion and subsequent knowledge that they are Jewish but they are not like me in observance. They consider themselves Jewish by ancestry.

The Douro River is the natural boundary between Portugal and Spain. It is known as Duero in Spain, and Douro in Portugal
Varda Epstein: What’s next for Genie Milgrom?
Genie Milgrom: I am working very hard on gathering Inquisition files around the world digitized and published, so others do not struggle as I have. I also will be publishing a Cuban kosher cookbook and a children’s book with the child retelling the story of the Jews that went into hiding.
Genie speaks to the EU Parliament about the bnei anusim.

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  • Wednesday, November 13, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Over the summer, the Palestinian media and social media were seemingly outraged at the horrific "honor killing" of Israa Gharib. Posters were made, hashtags were used, and everyone seemed to agree that there was a major problem that needed to be addressed in Palestinian society on gender-based violence.

But it seems things are now back to normal.

This story from PCHR was barely reported.

On Wednesday afternoon, 06 November 2019, (R. ‘A’. K.) (18), a woman from Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, arrived a dead body showing signs of torture at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.  Police and Public Prosecution officers arrived at the hospital and opened an investigation.  Next day morning, the public Prosecution referred the body to the Forensic Department in al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to identify the death circumstances.  The Forensic Department later said that she has a hematogenic shock due to severe beating that led to cerebral bleed.

The police arrested a relative of the deceased and opened an investigation on suspicions of her murdering.  The investigations are ongoing, but till now did not conclude any results that would identify the reasons and motives.
For some reason, when the victim was murdered by her family, PCHR doesn't even write her full name - effectively protecting the family from any shame at having killed their daughter/sister.

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From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: Israel’s maximum restraint and the myth of a ‘clean war’
Israel may have provoked this round of rocket fire from Gaza through the targeting of at least one senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander. Jerusalem understood the severity of the situation, which is why much of the country from the areas around Gaza to Tel Aviv was almost shut down on Tuesday. This is a reflection of social cohesion as much as it is the government’s need to herd people out of the way of rockets. Israelis understand this kind of war.

Within 24 hours, there have been more than 250 rockets fired and there have been some injuries. But Israel is showing maximum restraint in a sense. This is part of a pattern since March 2018, with terrorist groups in Gaza feeling like they can fire rockets almost with impunity. Impunity is the right word because they understand the balance of power here.

Every Hamas commander and Islamic Jihad commander knows they can be targets. But they also know generally how the response works. You fire rockets, your rocket teams will die. You fire rockets, your bases will be struck. But civilians will mostly go unharmed. This isn’t 2002; this isn’t 2009. Israel has achieved extraordinary precision in its use of judicious and proportionate responses.

But the devil is in the details with proportionality. A rocket strike for an airstrike? Not even. It’s more like several rocket launches for an airstrike. This is the “clean” war. The war in which the Iron Dome defensive system intercepts almost 90% of the projectiles that are calculated to hit civilian areas. There are few casualties. There are many near misses. This is a revolution in warfare, one that has been pioneered by western military powers since the late 1980s. This concept even has a theory named after it, the Revolution in Military Affairs.
The use of technology enables the ability of sophisticated states like Israel to fight what is called “asymmetric” war. That means Israel has munitions and platforms galore, from drones to F-16s, to F-35s, to different missiles and precise artillery. It’s not even a question of “can the target be hit,” but which of dozens of options would the military like to use. Gaza is a closed space. It’s airspace and sea approaches are controlled by Israel. What goes in and out of the strip is mostly controlled by Israel or monitored by Israel and Egypt. There are no surprises. Maybe anti-tank missiles and sniper fire pose some threat. But gone are the days of the Qassam threats, the tunnels and even Hamas “commandos” trying to get through the sea to Israel.
Honest Reporting: Israel Under Fire - 36 Hours Later
In the past 36 hours, over 350 rockets (and counting) have been fired towards Israel by Palestinian Islamic terrorists. Israel has retaliated by destroying terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip and in turn, neutralizing 13 terrorists, mostly from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The situation is continuing to escalate.

JCPA: Iran and the Death of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Leaders
The PIJ is the Palestinian organization closest to Iran and is heavily dependent on the financial and military aid that Tehran provides. The relationship between the PIJ and Iran is conducted mainly through the headquarters of the organization’s external leadership in Damascus, which holds contacts with the Gazan leadership. Unlike Hamas, which retains political and operational independence, the PIJ is more attentive to Iran’s agenda and to the directives that come from Tehran. The group declared a state of emergency in the wake of al-Ata’s killing.

In recent years, Tehran has supplied the PIJ with rockets, sniper rifles (Iranian-made AM-50 Sayyad-Hunter based on HS.50 rifles that the Austrian Steyr-Mannlicher company sold to the National Iranian Police) , and anti-tank missiles, all the while continuing to train its operatives in Syria and Iran in manufacturing and operating rockets, missiles small arms, and explosive devices (IEDs, EFPs).

The PIJ is a critical part of the Iranian strategy of wearing down Israel and at the same time, keeping threats away from the Iranian border. Thus, Iran sees the PIJ as part of its first line of defense strategy. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Iran is working similarly with Hizbullah in Lebanon and Syria, the Popular Mobilization Force in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen to promote its influence and interests against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

The current round of escalation, which now involves Israel and the PIJ in Gaza, again reveals the tight ties between Iran and the PIJ, which consist an important component in the “resistance front.” It also highlights the uniqueness of PIJ from the other organizations in Gaza, which are less dependent on Iran.

Iran, which still has not paid a price for its unprecedented attack on the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, can draw encouragement from this round of fighting in which the PIJ is conducting on its own fighting without Hamas support. It demonstrates to the Sunni Arab world, which is caught up in internal fights for survival, that Iran and its key proxies are continuing their uncompromising struggle against Israel, despite the price paid from time to time. Iran also has an interest in countering Egyptian attempts to calm the streets in Gaza, in which Baha Abu al-Ata was also involved. The joining of the fray by Hamas will further weaken Egypt’s role as it strives to restore calm and get Hamas to restrain the PIJ.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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