Saturday, December 20, 2014

From Ian:

#illridewithyou Hashtag Hypocrisy
In December last year, a gang assaulted 5 Jewish people as they were walking home from a Shabbat dinner. Not only were some of the victims injured, but the trauma of the event would have made them very wary of venturing out at night again.
In August this year, six drunken teenagers boarded a school bus taking children from 2 Jewish schools, hurling anti-Semitic abuse and threatening to cut the throats of its young passengers, some as young as 6 or 7. This incident would have been absolutely terrifying for the young victims.
Both these events happened in Sydney and were racist to the core; yet I can’t remember anyone from the Greens/Left rushing to accompany Jews walking home on Shabbat; there was no #illwalkwithyou campaign to make the Jews feel safe on the streets of Sydney. Similarly, the Greens didn’t offer an #illridewithyou gesture to the poor frightened Jewish kids.
If the Greens were really the compassionate and anti-racist party they claim to be, they wouldn’t be supporting the racist BDS movement, but would show empathy for Israel, the victims of a vicious jihad by Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror groups. In fact, their hashtag would read #illridewithjews
But don’t expect to see this any time soon!
Amb. Roet addresses UNSC on Threats to International Peace & Security


IDF aircraft strike Gaza following earlier rocket fire
The IDF struck a site belonging to Hamas in southern Gaza near Khan Yunis early Saturday morning, following an earlier rocket attack from Gaza into Israel on Friday afternoon, which exploded in open territory near the Eshkol Regional Council.
The reports are of at least two strikes by the Israel Air Force, which was reportedly assisted by the Israel Navy.
The Palestinian Interior Ministry tweeted that a medical source confirmed there were no injures resulting from the strike.
The IDF Spokesperson's unit said in a statement, "The IDF struck terror infrastructure belonging to the terrorist organization Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip. A direct hit was identified."
The IDF says the strike was in response to earlier rocket fire into Israel on Friday afternoon.
"The IDF will not allow any attempts to hurt the safety of Israel's civilians. The Hamas terrorist organization is the address, and they bear responsibility," said the IDF Spokesperson's Unit statement.
Hamas threatens retaliation following Israeli airstrikes
Hamas Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said that the Israeli airstrikes constitute “a grave violation of the ceasefire agreement.”
“We will protect and guard the resistance’s victory in the last conflict,” he said. “We call on Egypt as the guarantor of the agreement to act and stop the violations by the enemy.”
Another senior Hamas member said Saturday that “the resistance [as Hamas calls itself] has the right to respond to Israeli aggression at the time and place of its choosing.”
Ismail al-Ashqar warned that Israeli action “against Palestinian fishermen and agriculture workers [was] a dangerous escalation.”
Missile from Gaza not news for the BBC but Israeli response gets headlines
On the morning of December 19th a missile fired from the Gaza Strip hit the Eshkol region of the Western Negev in the third such incident since the ceasefire in late August which brought the fifty-day summer conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist organisations to a close. Like those previous incidents of missile fire, this one too was not reported by the BBC at the time.
During the night between December 19th and 20th, the Israeli air-force launched a retaliatory strike against a Hamas military installation near Khan Yunis. That event was considered news by the BBC.



Senators’ Letter Underscores Bipartisan Opposition to Palestinian UN Resolution
Opposition to unilateral Palestinian moves toward statehood at the UN gained bipartisan support in Washington on Thursday, with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) jointly authoring a letter to Foggy Bottom urging the State Department to veto Palestinian moves in the international body that would bypass direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The letter called on Secretary of State John Kerry to “make clear to all parties that the United States strongly opposes, and if need be will veto, any effort to bypass direct negotiations and impose peace terms on Israel through the United Nations .”
The draft resolution submitted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday included a demand for among other things a timeline for the withdrawal of Israeli security forces from areas the Palestinians intend to claim for a future state. Hours after the text of the letter was released, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that Washington would oppose any measures that set a specific deadline for the withdrawal of security forces and attempt to prejudge the outcome of direct talks between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Israel’s Critics Say Nothing as Hamas Rebuilds Tunnels With International Aid
The story goes on to detail some things that can’t come as a surprise. Even as it rebuilds its terror tunnels, Hamas is replenishing its supply of missiles and rockets. Given that the group has just kissed and made up with Iran, the flow of money and munitions into the strip by one means or another is bound to increase.
Though expected, this does increase Hamas’s leverage over the Palestinian Authority, which isn’t interested in making peace with Israel but will certainly never do so while it remains under threat from its erstwhile unity partner. Though many in Israel and elsewhere assumed Hamas would emerge weakened from a war in which Gaza was flattened and little material damage was done to the Jewish state, it is more popular than ever (especially in the West Bank which did not suffer much from the terror group’s murderous policies) and may soon be as much of a threat to Israel as it was before the fighting started. Indeed, if, as reports indicate, Hamas is working on ways to defeat Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system succeed, the danger will be far worse the next time the terrorists decide they wish to try their luck.
That is a daunting prospect for Israelis and poses difficult questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu who is now criticized for his handling of the war even if most of his critics would not have supported a bloody campaign to evict Hamas from Gaza and thus eliminate the threat for the future.
But it should also pose serious questions for those countries like the United States and its European allies that were so quick to bash Israel for its efforts to silence the missile fire and demolish the tunnels.
Kerry said to warn UN vote on Palestine would strengthen Israeli right
US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly told European Union diplomats that a UN vote in favor of the Palestinian resolution asking for recognition and an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines would, at this stage, only strengthen Israel’s hardline politicians, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett.
Kerry said the US would not allow the resolution to come to a vote before the Israeli elections, set for March 17, according to a report in Foreign Policy.
At a recent annual luncheon with the 28 European Union ambassadors, Kerry reportedly said such a move would benefit those who oppose the peace process, and intimated that the US may support a Security Council resolution if the wording were appropriate, but he did not elaborate.
“Kerry has been very, very clear that for the United States it was not an option to discuss whatever text before the end of the Israeli election,” a European diplomat told Foreign Policy.
Israel slams UN request it pay Lebanon for oil spill
The Israeli mission to the UN criticized the General Assembly’s approval of a resolution late Friday night asking Israel to pay Lebanon over $850 million in damages for an oil spill caused by an Israeli air force attack on oil storage tanks during Israel’s war with Hezbollah in July 2006.
The mission said the decision was typical of the General Assembly and is “part of many other decisions we are used to from the UN.”
“It’s made up of a known recipe of alternative history, manipulation, a large dose of politicization and a narrow view on the part of interest groups,” the Israeli mission said in a statement.
“The UN never bothered to check what the war cost Israel in damages and did not mention that the war broke out in response to the operation by the terror group Hezbollah,” the statement went on.
PA Criticizes Canada for Boycotting Anti-Israel Conference
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is upset with Canada for boycotting this week’s conference in Geneva which dealt with “respect for international humanitarian law in the PA assigned territories”.
On Friday, the top PA diplomat in Canada said Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government should not have boycotted the conference which, as expected, harshly criticized Israel over its construction in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem which the PA wants for its future state.
According to The Canadian Press, the diplomat, Said Hamad, said Canada should have joined other countries at the conference which examined the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Some 126 countries of the 196 international parties to the convention adopted a resolution Wednesday saying Israel’s “construction of settlements” does not conform to its international legal obligations as “an occupying power.”
Along with Israel and the United States, Canada boycotted the conference. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement before the conference that “Canada has conveyed its deep concerns and has communicated clearly that it will neither attend this conference nor lend it any credibility.”
IAF Jets Buzzed Syrian Military, Iron Dome Battery Deployed Near Tiberias: Reports (VIDEO)
Lebanese news agencies on Wednesday reported sighting Israeli Air Force jets flying over Quneitra, in the Golan Heights, where Syrian army and militant rebels forces are said to be engaged in fighting, Israel Radio reported.
Earlier reports indicated that Israeli warplanes also penetrated Syrian airspace in the Bekaa Valley, between Syria and Lebanon, and flew over Mt. Qasioun.
The Syrian army’s command and control facilities are located on Mt. Qasioun, as well as ammunition depots and heavy weaponry, and other facilities.
In parallel, the army would neither confirm nor deny to The Algemeiner that the IDF had, in recent days, deployed an Iron Dome battery in the hills overlooking Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee.
Israel Grants Palestinian Christians Travel Visas for Christmas
Israel has granted travel visas to Palestinian Christians ahead of Christmas.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, 700 Palestinian Christians living in Gaza will be able to visit family members in Israel or the West Bank. Additionally, 500 Palestinian Christians from the West Bank will be allowed to travel to Gaza to visit family there, and 200 Palestinian Christians from Gaza and the West Bank will be allowed to travel abroad for the same purpose via Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport.
Israel maintains restrictions on Palestinian travel from the West Bank and Gaza due to security concerns. The IDF said the Christmas visas are “confidence-building measures” with the Palestinian Christian population.
Egypt to reopen Gaza crossing Sunday
Egypt is to reopen the Rafah border crossing with Gaza Sunday for the second time in two months to allow those stranded in Egypt to enter the Palestinian territory, officials said.
The Rafah crossing is the only access point to the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel.
It was shut by Egypt in late October following a deadly bombing in the Sinai Peninsula, reopening briefly at the end of November to allow Palestinians stuck in Egypt to return home.
Police official Ali al-Azazi told AFP that a similar operation will take place from Sunday and only for two days.
Hamdallah urges Hamas to transfer Gaza authority to PA
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Saturday that several countries that pledged funds to help rebuild Gaza following Operation Protective Edge have indicated they will not transfer the money until the PA administers the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave.
During an interview with Sky News in Arabic, Hamdallah called on Hamas to follow through on its commitment to transfer control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority, as agreed in the reconciliation deal earlier this year.
Efforts to implement the unity pact signed in April between the PLO and Hamas have largely faltered following the November bombings of Fatah offices in Gaza, for which the PA has blamed Hamas, and amid tensions surrounding suspected Hamas attempts to overthrow PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
On Friday, UN and Palestinian officials said that only $100 million — of the $5.4 billion raised at a donor summit in Cairo in October — has been received, mainly from the US and Europe, and the Palestinians have been unsuccessful in securing additional funding since.
Qatar Should ‘Give Gaza’ 2022 Soccer World Cup to Ease Middle East Tensions, British Analyst Says
In an article for The Guardian, Tom Gross argued that Qatar, the Gulf Arab emirate that will host the 2022 World Cup, “should give the World Cup to Gaza.” The oil and natural gas-rich state “should pay for it too,” Gross wrote.
Speaking to The Algemeiner, Gross explained that his proposal would benefit both the Palestinians and Qatar. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas would, he said, be able to demonstrate their commitment to improving the lives of Palestinians by staging the world’s biggest sporting competition, creating jobs and driving up tourism. As for Qatar, Gross said, the “public relations disaster” that has overwhelmed media coverage of the 2022 World Cup – Qatar has been accused of bribing executive members of FIFA, the governing body of soccer, in its bid to stage the competition – could be alleviated by an act of practical solidarity with Gaza.
“The regime in Qatar may eventually regret holding the World Cup,” Gross said in his interview with The Algemeiner. “They are able to get away with all sorts of human rights abuses, for example against the migrant workers they’ve brought in to build the World Cup stadiums and other infrastructure, more than 2,000 of whom have died while laboring in slave-like conditions, because unfortunately the world doesn’t care that much. But the world does care about soccer, and the World Cup is such a popular event across the globe that a much wider section of humanity is going to learn about the abuses in Qatar.”
US and Israeli tech cooperation grows. BDS fails
While activists at Wesleyan were busy channeling their energies into getting 2 types of hummus in their dining hall (and calling it a huge victory for BDS), the US Department of Energy and the Israel Ministry of National Infrastructure Energy and Water awarded $4 million dollars in funding to 5 Israeli/ American collaborative projects under the auspices of the Bilateral Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) foundation.
The BIRD Foundation works to encourage cooperation between Israeli and American companies in a wide range of technology sectors by providing funding and assistance in facilitating strategic partnerships for developing joint products or technologies.
During its 37 years, the BIRD Foundation has invested in close to 900 projects.
An Update on the Bloodied Shoe Tweets
Yesterday, we wrote about some misinformation that was spread across Twitter by prominent journalists. Now that there have been corrections, that post could use an update. So here it is.
First, a summary of what we shared yesterday:
BBC Watch pointed out that a journalist on Twitter inaccurately described a photo of a little girl's bloodied shoe as having been taken Gaza during this summer's fighting between Hamas and Israel. Ironically, the journalist's misinformation came in the form of a "fact-check" type post, directed at those who had wrongly described the photo being from the recent attack in Pewshawar, Pakistan. BBC Watch also noted that a BBC journalist retweeted the photo — even though the BBC itself acknowledged the shoe belonged not to a Palestinian girl in Gaza, but rather to an Israeli girl in Ashkelon.
We pointed out here yesterday that at least two additional journalists had shared the misinformation. After we informed the journalists of their error, some were evasive, while others didn't immediately reply, perhaps because they had yet to see our call for a correction.
Now that enough time has passed for the dust to have settled, let's look at how the journalists reacted after being informed that they had inadvertently spread misinformation to untold thousand of people. First, the best news:
Rana Jawad, the BBC journalist mentioned by BBC Watch, commendably fixed her mistake. She updated her 15,700 Twitter followers with a clear post that included the word "correction" and a link to BBC's article describing the bloodied shoe as belonging to an Israeli in Ashkelon:
ISIS Slaughters 150 Females in Iraq for Refusing to Marry, Have Sex with Them
Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights claims the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) murdered 150 women simply because they refused to marry or perform sexual acts with the terrorists.
“At least 150 females, including pregnant women, were executed in Fallujah by a militant named Abu Anas Al-Libi after they refused to accept jihad marriage,” said the Ministry. “Many families were also forced to migrate from the province’s northern town of Al-Wafa after hundreds of residents received death threats.”
The militants buried the victims in mass graves in the city. The families who left lost many children after they were stranded in the desert.
ISIS Sharia Punishment Guide Calls for 'Stoning' Women for Having an Affair
Islamic State (ISIS) militants have released a comprehensive set of "guidelines" that call for harsh punishments such as "stoning" women for having an 'affair.'
The ISIS guide lists out 11 set of "offences and punishments" based on the principles of Sharia law. Islamic State militants, who are Sunni Muslims, want to establish an Islamic kingdom governed by the Sharia law. Since June after the group took over large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, it has been ruthlessly punishing people who break the Sharia law.
The ISIS penal code based on the Sharia law draws out some violent responses such as execution, crucifixion, mutilation, stoning and other forms of punishment for petty crimes such as stealing or even insignificant issues as a woman using make-up.

IS said to execute 100 foreign fighters who wanted to quit
An activist opposed to both IS and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is well-known to the British business broadsheet, said he had “verified 100 executions” of foreign IS fighters trying to leave the jihadist group’s de facto capital.
IS fighters in Raqqa said the group has created a military police to clamp down on foreign fighters who do not report for duty. Dozens of homes have been raided and many jihadists have been arrested, the FT reported.
Some jihadists have become disillusioned with the realities of fighting in Syria, reports have said.
ISIS Establishing Itself as Political Entity in Every Way
ISIS has been able to develop into more than just a terrorist militia, primarily through the takeover of existing government institutions in Syria and Iraq and their subordination to the new Islamic regime.
Some of the institutions in al-Raqqah include the Communications Department, which oversees the management of postal services and contacts.
Another, the Electricity Department, is responsible for repairing power lines and electrical water pumps. One of its first projects was providing power to villages around al-Raqqah.
Other local departments manage infrastructure work in the public domain, such as the maintenance and cleaning departments, as well as oversee the licensing of motor vehicles.
These departments work in conjunction with other government systems operated by Islamic State. Those include the education system, which is engaged in creating a new generation taught on the values of jihad, and the health system.
The other major government system is the Islamic legal system which enforces law and order through security forces and morality police.
At UN, Iran urged to show more flexibility in nuclear talks
Iran has not demonstrated sufficient flexibility in nuclear talks with six world powers aimed at ending a 12-year standoff with the Islamic Republic over its atomic ambitions, France and Britain said on Thursday.
The remarks, at the United Nations, came just after the completion of another inconclusive round of negotiations in Geneva this week between Iranian officials and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
"In spite of insufficient flexibility demonstrated at this stage by Iranian negotiators, we'd like to believe that Iran does seek a long-term agreement," senior French diplomat Philippe Bertoux told the U.N. Security Council.
"We would expect that Iran takes strategic choices and courageous decisions" in upcoming rounds of negotiations, he added.
Iran has know-how to build nukes, senior cleric claims
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami told Iranian military personnel that the Islamic republic had the means to enrich uranium to levels needed for nuclear weapons, the Guardian reported, citing an official Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp website.
“[We] can enrich uranium at 5% or 20%, as well as 40% to 50%, and even 90%,” the paper quoted Khatami saying. The report gave no indication when Khatami made the comments to officers in the western Kurdistan province.
Developing nuclear weapons, however, violated Islamic principles, he said.
Yemeni PM Threatens Resignation as Iran-Backed Rebels Tighten Grip on Capital
Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah said on Wednesday that his administration was prepared to resign over the growing interference into governing by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Reuters reports that Bahah issued his threat after “Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa raided state institutions and sacked public officials.”
"Armed Houthis on Wednesday prevented the director of Hodeida port, Yemen’s main Red Sea harbor where most of the country’s food imports arrive, reaching his office, with a view to replacing him, port officials said.
“The staff were so angry that they walked out in a demonstration and closed off the port,” one official said by telephone.
Separately, about 20 Houthi fighters broke into the state-run Safer oil company in Sanaa, kicked out the director and his deputy and locked their offices, company officials said.
Rockland County Jewish Legislator Receives ‘Islamic State’ Threat
A Jewish legislator in Rockland County is living in fear following the receipt of a threatening picture in which his face is superimposed on the body of a prisoner about to be beheaded by the Islamic State terrorist organization.
Legislator Aron Wieder (D-Spring Valley,) said the chilling color image was sent in an envelope postmarked from Monsey to his county office and that he opened it while the Legislature was in session on Monday.
“I opened the letter and I was completely shocked. I literally had shivers running down my spine,” Wieder said afterwards. “It’s meant to intimidate and to shock. If it’s someone who is sympathetic toward ISIS or someone who is hateful toward the Orthodox community is no matter, it’s equally disgusting.”
Barcelona soccer team ‘set to cut ties with terror-financing Qatar’
Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona has reportedly decided not to renew its sponsorship deal with a Qatari group linked to the country’s royal family because of Qatar’s alleged involvement in funding Islamic extremist terrorist groups.
Israel’s Channel 2 reported Friday night that Barcelona, arguably the world’s most popular soccer team, will not renew the deal, which has so far brought in close to $200 million, because of mounting concerns related to the gulf state’s involvement in financing terrorism. Israeli leaders have frequently charged that Qatar funds Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza, and the TV report also cited alleged Qatari funding of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Nusra Front, and other Islamist groups.
During this summer’s Israel-Hamas war, president Shimon Peres called Qatar “the world’s largest funder of terror.”
The endorsement deal, which is to expire in just over a year, was made with Qatar Sports Investments and allowed for the Qatar Foundation (2011-2013), an educational trust and charity organization, and Qatar Airways (2013-2015) to display their logos on the FC Barcelona players’ jerseys.
Italian town’s Arab Street decked with menorahs for Xmas
Having Hanukkah references among Christmas celebrations may be not that big of a deal in places where large and prominent Jewish communities live and thrive, but for a city like Cosenza, where only a handful of its 70,000 residents identify as Jewish — not more seven or eight, according to Calabrese — it is remarkable. There is no official Jewish community, nor synagogue or minyan in the town.
The public display of Jewish symbols, as with the menorah-shaped lights, is something that really speaks to Calabrese. His shop, which he invariably closes every Friday an hour before Shabbat starts, is adorned with a big Magen David. Last summer, when the three kidnapped Israeli teens were found murdered, he put an Israeli flag in the window of the store and closed it during the funerals.
The town has historical ties to now extinct Jewish communities. In southern Italy, Jews were expelled or forced to convert to Christianity at the beginning of sixteenth century. Many chose to keep their Judaism in secret, handing down traditions through the generations up till today, when some families aren’t even aware of the meaning behind their customs.
Hanukkah love in US armed forces
On Hanukkah, Jews around the world pay tribute to the Maccabees, a small band of Jewish soldiers who pulled off an improbable military victory.
Members of the Israel Defense Forces carry on that legacy today, and for Hanukkah, they too are recognized alongside their Maccabean predecessors with organizations across political stripes visiting military bases and bringing party supplies.
But for Jewish soldiers in the United States armed forces, this is less of a reality.
“Within the collective Jewish community, there is a lot of focus on the IDF. I don’t think there is even an awareness that there are Jews in the [US] military,” says Rabbi Ephraim Travis, a chaplain in the US military.
Manhattan’s Biggest Menorah Mystery, Solved
Ever wonder about that massive menorah perched on an office building terrace at Fifth Avenue and 48th Street during Hanukkah? You can see it from the street; the Hanukkiah sits on the 14th floor of 589 Fifth Avenue, overlooking one of the busiest stretches of Manhattan.
To the family it belongs to, though, the menorah is simply a longtime tradition, not a diamond district beacon.
“We don’t realize that all the cars driving down Fifth Avenue can see it,” admits Saul Goldberg, whose father, diamond macher William Goldberg, first put up the menorah nearly two decades ago on the terrace of his eponymous company’s Fifth Avenue offices.
Saul Goldberg, who now runs the family business, continues the tradition each year, bringing out the nearly seven-foot Hanukkiah and installing it in place atop the bustling avenue.
Goldberg describes his father, who died in 2003, as a very traditional Jew. “He was always very spiritual,” Goldberg says, adding that the elder Goldberg would go each year to the Chabad Lubavitch menorah lighting at the Plaza Hotel. About 15 years ago, Goldberg says his father and his close friend William Nelkin, another big name in the diamond district, were talking about Hanukkah, and his father said he’d like to have a great big menorah of his own.
“You do the menorah, I’ll pay for it,” Goldberg recalls Nelkin saying. His father hired a contractor, and a Hanukkah tradition was born.
Ancient clay seals may shed new light on King David
Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., said Mississippi State University archaeologist James W. Hardin.
This could indicate that Biblical accounts of David and his son Solomon described real kings rather than the backwater chieftains considered more likely by some archaeologists, said Hardin, an associate professor in the department of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures.
The six fragments of clay, once used to seal documents or expensive goods, are described in a brief article in the December issue of Near East Archaeology.
“They’re little bitty mud balls but they’re really important because of what they suggest about what’s going on,” Hardin, the lead author, said in a telephone interview from the university in Starkville.


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