Honest Reporting: Dr. Jonathan Spyer Makes Sense of the Middle East
With the rise of the so-called Islamic State, multiple groups fighting each other in the disintegrating states of Syria and Iraq, the bitter Sunni-Shia conflict and the competing interests of state actors and their proxies, the Middle East has never been more confusing for the casual observer. Not to mention the recent Iranian nuclear deal that has the potential to alter the balance of power within the region.Dr. Jonathan Spyer: HonestReporting Speaker Series
To make sense of it all, over 90 people joined HonestReporting to hear Dr. Jonathan Spyer, the Director of the Rubin Center, IDC Herzliya and a fellow at the Middle East Forum on July 23 in Jerusalem.
Using his experiences traveling to some of the Mideast hot spots, including most recently Iraq, Dr. Spyer expertly wove together the various threads that link the multiple conflicts affecting the region as well as addressing the impact of the Iran’s nefarious influence and the effects on Israeli security and diplomacy. He addressed how those Arab states that lacked a unified national identity or national institutions have imploded over the course of the past five years, for example Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, while others that did have strong national identities and institutions such as Egypt or Tunisia, have avoided this scenario.
Dr. Spyer explained how with the collapse of states, older sub-state, primordial identities have resurfaced forming the basis of the various political and military groups battling over the remains of those collapsed states. He traced the beginning of the process to Syria in the summer of 2012 when the Assad regime took a strategic decision to pull back from a very large swathe of territory in the country’s north and east in the belief at that time that he could reconquer the area in the future. Instead, what is clear is that this ushered in the creation of separate entities – a Sunni rebel entity, a Kurdish entity. The Sunni rebel entity has further splintered into other entities including Islamic State and Al-Nusra. Dr. Spyer also outlined how Iraq had also split into separate entities.
Elliott Abrams: Bensouda Saves the ICC
In a recent blog post, I noted the 2-to-1 decision by a “pre-trial chamber” to overturn the decision of International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda not to proceed against Israel in the Mavi Marmara case. This was the first time such a decision of the ICC Prosecutor had been overturned.Israel rejects ‘flawed’ war crime claim by rights group
As several people who wrote in comments added, the chamber didn’t force Bensouda to prosecute–just to look at the case again. So she did. Last week she said she was “carefully studying the decision and will decide on the next steps in due course. The decision on whether to open an investigation depends on the facts and circumstances of each situation.”
Having looked again at the facts and circumstances, she has stuck with her decision. In a very quick reply to the judges, she told them that their decision failed to consider “the unique context of violent resistance aboard the Mavi Marmara.” She’s absolutely right.
And she has done the ICC a great favor. As my original blog post noted, there has always been political pressure on the ICC to become–like the U.N. Human Rights Council–an Israel-bashing enterprise. That would destroy whatever chance the tribunal has of gaining legitimacy. The first ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo of Argentina, avoided that trap, and now Bensouda is doing the same. She has saved the ICC from driving into a dead end where only politics and bias could be found.
Israel accused Amnesty of “a false narrative – claiming that four days of military operations by the IDF were in direct response to the killing and kidnapping of one IDF soldier,” the foreign ministry said, referring to the Israel Defense Forces.
“It seems that Amnesty forgot that there was an ongoing conflict – during which the IDF was operating to stop rocket fire and neutralize cross-border assault tunnels, and Palestinian terrorist organizations were actively engaging in intensive conflict against the IDF from within the civilian environment.”
Last summer’s 50-day war took a heavy toll on Gaza, killing 2,251 Palestinians, including more than 500 children according to Palestinian tallies. Israel claimed as many as 1,000 of the casualties were fighters.
Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.
Israel officially blames Hamas for Palestinian civilian casualties, noting that the group, which rules Gaza, often launched attacks from within residential areas.
Suspects from extremist Jewish group indicted for arson of Church of Loaves and Fishes
Almost a month and a half after a historic Christian church was torched in an act that drew worldwide condemnation, northern district prosecutors on Wednesday indicted two men believed to have set the building alight in an act of religious and racial hatred.Fresh clashes erupt at Beit El; state appeals demolition order
The men, named as 20-year-old Yinon Reuveni of Ofakim and 19-year-old Yehuda Asraf of Elad, face charges of aggravated arson, destruction of property motivated by hostility toward the public and conspiracy to commit a crime, and Asraf was indicted on charges of aiding and abetting a crime and conspiracy.
The Shin Bet Israel Security Agency on Wednesday named two other suspects who have yet to be indicted as Mordechai Meir, 18, from Maaleh Adumim, and Moshe Urbach, 24, from Bnei Brak. The fifth suspect arrested in the case is an unnamed minor from Ramle, according to the agency. The Shin Bet said that Asraf, Urbach, and the minor had all been living off and on over the past six months on illegal West Bank outposts, and that other than Asraf, all of the suspects have been banned from the West Bank in the past on suspicion of violent assaults on Palestinians or Palestinian-owned property.
Clashes between settlers and security forces erupted anew Tuesday evening in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, ending a tense calm that had fallen after earlier protests over the evacuation of two illegal structures at the site.Netanyahu approves 300 new West Bank homes as lawmakers call for calm
Protesters were hurling stones at Border Police officers as hundreds remained gathered at the settlement north of Jerusalem, among them right-wing members of the Knesset, Israeli website Ynet reported.
The state on Tuesday afternoon lodged an appeal with the High Court against the demolition of the so-called Dreinoff buildings, reportedly built on private Palestinian land seized by the Israel Defense Forces in the 1970s.
Five people were detained for questioning, as the clashes resumed, Ynet said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved construction of 300 housing units in the Beit El settlement on Wednesday, as bulldozers flattened two structures in the same settlement after a court ruled they were built on Palestinian land.Druse students left with sense of pride after meeting with Netanyahu
The demolitions of the unfinished Dreinoff apartment buildings spurred loud denunciations from some lawmakers, while others protested the violent response of settlers trying to stop authorities from removing the two partially constructed buildings.
Bulldozers began tearing down the buildings at midday, after the high court turned down a 11th-hour petition against the demolition, ruling the buildings were sitting on private Palestinian land that was seized by the IDF in the 1970s.
Jewish Home party leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett praised the prime minister’s decision to approve the new housing units and also called for nonviolence by the protesters.
“I praise the prime minister for his quick, correct and Zionist decision,” he tweeted.
Dozens of Druse students who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on Monday left with a positive impression, the mayor of Majdal Shams told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.Jordan jails eight for plots against Israel, US
The students had received scholarships from a program fully funded by International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) in memory of late Druse IDF officer and former Majdal Shams mayor Maj. Salim Shufi.
The scholarship program was established in 2013 for Druse university students who have performed either IDF or national service.
The current mayor of the northern village, Dolan Abu Saleh, said Tuesday that the event with the prime minister and other important figures had given the students a sense of pride.
“The memory of Shufi continues to be with us, as he did much for the security of the state,” said Saleh, who also attended the event.
Jordan handed down jail sentences Wednesday against seven of its citizens and a Syrian for planning attacks on US soldiers in the country and on the Israeli embassy, a judicial source said.Hamas Threatens UNRWA With Violence
The plots in question would have involved “terrorist acts” against the US service personnel at a Jordan military base in al-Moaqar in 2006 and against the Israeli embassy in Amman in 2008, the source said without elaborating.
The charges included “plotting to commit a terrorist act, and possession of weapons and explosives for use” in those acts.
The Jordanians were all arrested in May 2014, but no details were provided on their identities or the surrounding circumstances.
The Hamas movement that holds de facto rule in Gaza on Tuesday sent a threatening message to UNRWA, the UN body tasked with "Palestinian refugees," which recently admitted it's going bankrupt and will have to close schools.Hamas calls for ‘revolt’ against Palestinian Authority
In an announcement published by the terror group, it said UNRWA is "giving up its role" of providing services to "refugees," a status designated to the Arabs who left Israel in the 1948 War of Independence as well as their now roughly five million descendants. That hereditary "Palestinian refugee" status operates in contradiction to all other refugees in the world, who are all handled by the UNHRC.
In a not-so-subtle threat of violence, Hamas said UNRWA's cutbacks are worsening "the already aggravated situations in all areas where Palestinian refugees exist, which could result in things spinning out of control."
It added that UNRWA's announcement that it will have to close schools is "nothing but a political game designed to damage the education sector under the guise of financial and technical difficulties."
Deputies of the Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza on Wednesday renewed calls for a “revolt” against the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority over its sweeping arrests of anti-Israel militants.Possibility opens for UN to destroy ISIS
The deputies, in an act of defiance, held a meeting in the parliament building in Gaza City, which has not convened officially since 2007 when Hamas expelled PA security forces after a week of deadly clashes.
They called for “an uprising and a revolt against the political arrests” carried out by the PA in the West Bank and for Palestinian factions to adopt “a firm stand against the Authority’s crimes against the resistance and its members.”
The MPs condemned the PA’s security cooperation with Israel under the 1993 Oslo accords as amounting to “high treason” that served “Zionist security” interests.
On July 7, Hamas accused the PA of having arrested “more than 200″ of its members in the West Bank, in a sweep that MP Khalil al-Haya charged was aimed solely at “assisting the occupier.”
China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, America and the European Union (E3/EU+3) – the Septet – have shown a rare degree of international cooperation in signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear horizons.Turkey Uses ISIS as Excuse to Attack Kurds
Such welcome unanimity presages the possibility of a United Nations Security Council Resolution under Chapter VII Article 42 of the UN Charter authorizing military action against Islamic State – already declared a threat to world peace and security in Security Council Resolutions 2170 and 2199.
1. Russia and Iran backing the Assad regime in Syria.
2. America, France, Germany and the United Kingdom forming part of the London 11 supporting rebels attempting to overthrow the Assad regime.
3. China and Russia vetoing Security Council resolutions aimed at resolving the Syrian conflict.
4. Shi’ite Iran – backed by Russia – focusing on preserving its interests in Iraq, the first Arab country to be ruled by a Shi’ite government since Saladin overthrew the Fatimids in Egypt in 1171.
Turkey's government seems to be waging a new war against the Kurds, now struggling to get an internationally recognized political status in Syrian Kurdistan.Turkey Revealed to be Cooperating with ISIS
On July 24, Turkish media sources reported that Turkish jet fighters bombed Kurdish PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) bases in Qandil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
Turkey is evidently unsettled by the rapprochement the PKK seems to be establishing with the U.S. and Europe. Possibly alarmed by the PKK's victories against ISIS, as well as its strengthening international standing, Ankara, in addition to targeting ISIS positions in Syria, has been bombing the PKK positions in the Qandil mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the PKK headquarters are located.
There is no ISIS in Qandil.
As expected, many Turkish media outlets were more enthusiastic about the Turkish air force's bombing the Kurdish militia than about bombing ISIS. "The camps of the PKK," they excitedly reported, "have been covered with fire."
Damning evidence was found when US special forces killed Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Sayyaf in May, revealing that NATO-member Turkey has in fact been collaborating with the brutal jihadists.Turkish Situation Last Straw for Israel (satire)
The British Guardian reported on Sunday that when Abu Sayyaf's compound was raided in eastern Syria, it was discovered that Turkey is the main buyer of smuggled ISIS oil which was managed by Abu Sayyaf to economically prop up the terror group.
The report quoted a senior Western official, who told the Observer that the findings at the compound showed direct deals between Turkish officials and ISIS leaders is "undeniable."
"There are hundreds of flash drives and documents that were seized there,” the official said. "They are being analyzed at the moment, but the links are already so clear that they could end up having profound policy implications for the relationship between us and Ankara."
"We are at a phase in this war where things that have been in the shadows for a long time are now being exposed to daylight. Hezbollah is dominant in the west of Syria, and the Turkish role, however you wish to define it, is also becoming clearer. This is an important time for them. Will they now see ISIS as a threat to their own sovereignty? ...A lot of damage has been done from this."
Israel has confirmed in an interview with The Mideast Beast (TMB) that this nonsense with Turkey has convinced it that it’s time to leave the region.HonestReporting CEO: Corrosive Atmosphere on Campus Harming Young Jews
“Look I’ve been trying to make this work since at least 1948, but shit is just getting more messed up by the day. I wake up this morning, pick up my copy of The Jerusalem Post and discover that Turkey is bombing ISIS and the Kurds at the same frigging time.”
“But, last time I looked anyway, Washington is arming the PKK against ISIS to avoid getting their hands messy. But Turkey is letting the US operate from their air bases for the first time. So you’re gonna have American F-16s taking off to support the PKK and Turkish F-16s taking off behind them to bomb their asses. Like I said, messed up.”
As college campuses across North America become entrenched in battles over Israel led by the BDS movement and other forces of delegitimization, how much hostility is being directed at Jewish students?Surprise, surprise: As campus Jew hatred grows – Jews defend Israel
That’s the question behind a new study released on Tuesday, and the findings are enough to give pause to anyone thinking about the atmosphere on campus.
According to the study presented by Brandeis professors Leonard Saxe and Theodore Sasson, one third of Jewish students in the US and Canada experienced verbal harassment and a quarter have been blamed for Israel’s actions because they are Jewish. Some 75% of students had been exposed to one of six anti-Semitic statements such as “Jews have too much power,” or “Israelis behave like Nazis.”
On the plus side, however, the hostile environment, even in the wake of last summer’s Gaza war, did not weaken Jews’ connection to Israel. “A third [or respondents] report feeling “very much” connected to Israel and another third report feeling “somewhat” connected. These levels of connection are higher than those found among similar individuals in 2014, before the Israel-Hamas conflict,” the report states.
HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams, who returned to Israel last week after two years at Brandeis under the tutelage of Prof. Saxe, said the study serves as a warning to Jewish leaders about the long term effects of the current climate on campus.
Most Jewish students today are sophisticated. Most distinguish between criticizing Israel and Jew hatred.Voice of Israel: Pro-BDS Students Do a ‘180’ after Visiting Israel
They see that the new Jew hatred begins with a harsh, disproportionate, obsessive overreaction against Israeli policies. It has now metastasized into open season on Jews and Jewish sensibilities for fanatic students and professors who call themselves “progressive” but are acting abominably, betraying liberalism with their intolerance, insensitivity and insane support for totalitarian terrorists against democratic Israel.
In response, most Jewish students are not abandoning Israel. The Jew haters – and BDS/boycott proponents – have become the most effective on-campus recruiters for Jewish involvement and the pro-Israel movement since detestable Yasser Arafat died. Saxe and his team surveyed 3,199 students who had applied to attend Taglit-Birthright this year, some of whom did not participate because (potential donors take note) there was not enough room for them. The pre-trip pool was large enough - and politically diverse enough - to provide a representative sample of young Jewish college students.
Both the Hamas war against Israeli civilians last summer and the campus war against the Jews this academic year increased Jews’ support for Israel: one-third “report feeling ‘very much’ connected to Israel and another third report feeling ‘somewhat’ connected.” These figures are higher in 2015 than in 2014. They reflect a decade-long trend, whereby twenty-somethings feel more connected to Israel than thirty-somethings, because of the Birthright Bounce.
Visiting Israel and seeing the real Israel intensifies Jews’ (and non-Jews’) connection to Israel.
Passionate Israel advocate, blogger and radio personality Rolene Marks tells VOI's Josh Hasten about the ultimate anti-Israel fail.Breaking! Anti-Israel academic boycotters STILL don’t like being boycotted
Marks, an immigrant to Israel from South Africa, says that a group of South African pro-BDS student leaders recently visited Israel — and had a complete change of viewpoint. They returned home stating that Israel is not an Apartheid state, only to be suspended by the South African Student Congress for the “sin” of having gone to Israel in the first place.
It seems that the situation is even worse at UI-UC (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign) than suspected for the pro-boycott cheering section.The Biggest Mistakes Pro-Israel Advocates Make #14: How To Be Incredibly Sexy
Two pro-BDS Anthropology professors Martin Manalansan and Ellen Moodie complain bitterly about their current situation, “Waiting” in the Neoliberal University: The Salaita Case and the Wages of an Academic Boycott:
It is important to note that the boycott has not harmed the vigorous exchanges in the STEM departments and colleges. Instead, the boycott has hit hard on vulnerable humanities and humanistic social sciences, especially those in the interdisciplines such as gender, women’s and ethnic studies. Now the former university system president Bob Easter has forecast new austerity measures, telling us: “Some programs will not survive.”
The UIUC boycott has become unwittingly complicit with the planned dismantling of these interdisciplines by the neoliberal university and the revanchist state. If ongoing events in Wisconsin and North Carolina are any indication, the unintentional crippling of these fields becomes part of the eventual undoing or weakening of these critical knowledge sites where vital critiques of local and trans-national landscapes emanate. Will ethnic studies and other interdisciplines be the necessary collateral damage in the boycott such that we lose the very sites and people that think critically about why we need to act ethically in a political world, whether within the BDS or in other movements?
Well, of course, STEM is free from impact. The STEM professors are almost completely absent from the BDS movement. They are academics, not propagandists with Ph.D’s.
And of course, Humanities and Social Sciences programs are on the chopping block.
Not because the faculty are anti-Israel, but because they have turned themselves into societal laughingstocks, bizarre caricatures of disgruntled parasites on society who have lost the respect of just about everyone outside of their relatively small academic circles. You act like clowns, but express shock when people treat you like clowns.
Mistake #14: Lacking Confidence!Brazilian singers came to croon, not cancel
Real confidence is magical. It is magnetic. It draws people to you. And it is a big missing piece in Hasbara. It is different from arrogance because it is authentic, inclusive, open, and kind. It is egalitarian, not supremacist. It is telling the world that you are proud of your culture, here to stay, and that anyone who disagrees should #@&$ off in the nicest way possible.
Arab culture is an honour-shame tribalist culture, so this confidence and tribal pride is built into it, while all we do is apologize for everything. While we definitely should be the bigger person and apologize for the things we screw up – that kind of humility and heart is something I admire so much about Israelis – we shouldn’t apologize for existing and taking back what was stolen from us. This is Israel, not Canada. We don’t say sorry to burglars when they try to rob our house, so why should we say sorry to the Palestinians for leaving their land in 1948 in the throes of a defensive war that their people started.
Given the Palestinian and Arab governments’ immense confidence (or hubris, I would say), we look like little pipsqueaks next to them. They already outnumber us, they assert themselves without appearing off-putting to Western audiences, they are proud and they all say the same arguments without stuttering and looking at their feet. They form a solid, cohesive unit and, bolstered by their confidence, they are the popular clique of Mean Girls and we are the Science Nerd sitting all by herself in the cafeteria, tutoring everyone in math for nothing in return, as stray french fries and spitballs are continuously launched at her. I was Israel in high school.
World-famous Brazilian singers and political activists Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso took a stand against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Tel Aviv on Monday.Why is the Guardian giving a platform to Hizb ut-Tahrir?
“We faced pressure not to come to Israel and to cancel the concert we’re going to do tomorrow, but we decided not to cancel because we prefer to talk, to open dialogue,” Veloso said. “I’ve been to Israel a few times before this and I have always loved this place, but I know the situation is heavy, it’s hard.”
Veloso and Gil performed Tuesday night in Tel Aviv. The Monday event, sponsored by the New Israel Fund, also featured Israeli and Palestinian artists and activists. Their message was clear: More dialogue, not less, should be the way forward.
“It’s legitimate to boycott or call for a boycott. That’s democracy. But we believe the answer is to talk with the Israeli public, the Israeli leaders, and try to persuade them that this is good for Israel,” said Rachel Liel, the executive director of the New Israel Fund. “Let civil society flourish, let the debate take place.”
Gil and Caetano are known for their activism against the Brazilian military dictatorship in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The longtime friends and collaborators were both jailed and later exiled from Brazil due to their political activities and music.
Oborne refers to a leaflet published by Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1999 called The Muslim Ummah will never submit to the Jews. Oborne writes: “It contained unpleasant language, some of which I read out to Wahid, and invite him to denounce the article. He refuses.”BBC India provides another example of BBC double standards on terrorism
It is worth reciting some of this ‘unpleasant language':
“In origin, no one likes the Jews except the Jews… The American people do not like the Jews nor do the Europeans, because the Jews by their very nature do not like anyone else. Rather they look at other people as wild animals which have to be tamed to serve them… The Jews are cowards, they are a people of money and not a people of fighting… Know that the Jews and their usurping state in Palestine will, by the Help and Mercy of Allah (swt), be destroyed ‘..until the stones and trees will say: O Muslim, O Slave of Allah. Here is a Jew behind me so come and kill him’.”
Wahid twice declines Oborne’s invitation to denounce the leaflet. It was written out of the anger of the Middle Eastern conflict, he explains, saying that HT is ‘anti-Zionist’ but not antisemitic.
Wahid’s claim is laughable. The leaflet is rife with classical antisemitic imagery about Jews, including Jews in America and Europe. Nor is it a one-off. This HT press release from 2010 is even worse, using what can only be described as genocidal language about Jews:
“O Muslim Armies! Teach the Jews a lesson after which they will need no further lessons. March forth to fight them, eradicate their entity and purify the earth of their filth”.
You would have to travel to the farthest fringes of British neo-Nazism to find comparable language about Jews from the white far right. It is doubtful that a swastika-bearing skinhead talking about killing Jews or calling on followers to ‘purify the earth of Jewish filth’ would be a regular dinner companion for Peter Oborne, or the subject of a friendly interview in the Guardian.
Last month we noted on these pages that whilst in its coverage of the June 26th attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait the BBC made ample use of the word terror, that term was absent from its coverage of the November 2014 attack on worshippers at the synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem – as is generally the case in BBC reporting on terrorism in Israel.BBC R4 recycles Jeremy Hardy’s stereotyping of Israelis
Despite the professed policy of “achieving consistency and accuracy in our journalism” which appears in the BBC’s Guidance concerning “Language when Reporting Terrorism“, there is in fact a lack of consistency in the corporation’s coverage of that subject, as has been recorded here on numerous occasions.
And whilst the guidance claims that “[w]e try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution” and “we don’t change the word “terrorist” when quoting other people, but we try to avoid the word ourselves” on the grounds that “[t]he word “terrorist” itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding”, the BBC’s coverage of the recent memorial services for the victims of the 2005 London terror attacks rightly did not “avoid the word”.
On July 27th the BBC India Twitter account promoted an article about that day’s attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab with the following oddly worded Tweet.
BBC India @BBCIndia
India rebels attack police station
In other words, the attacks on civilian targets including a bus, an eatery and a health centre indicate that the method used to carry out this attack was terrorism.
Once again we see that the BBC fails to distinguish between method and aims and as has been noted here previously:
Last September BBC Radio 4 aired an edition of the programme “Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation” titled “How to Define Oneself in Terms of Regional, Cultural and Geopolitical Identity Without Tears” in which comedian-cum-political-activist Hardy promoted crude stereotypes and factual inaccuracies.Israel Demolishes CNN Offices, Cites Biased Reporting (satire)
“Nevertheless, even some of Israel’s most passionate critics today are people who supported its founding in 1948. They argue that although Israeli governments are increasingly racist and colonial, the founding principles were noble. Other critics would see even that view as rosy-spectacled but whatever you think about that period, the State of Israel exists and one of the frequent demands of its government is that others recognize its right to exist. I’m not sure any state has rights. Whether a person has rights is a moral question – they’re not like kidneys – but at least ethical judgments apply more sensibly to human beings. We’d all say a person has a right to a house. We wouldn’t say the house has rights. No-one thinks a house has a right to exist: certainly not an Israeli driving a bulldozer.
Let’s imagine that all Israel’s critics recognize its right to exist as a de-facto state. That wouldn’t guarantee its continued existence in its present form or any other. Even now we don’t even know where its borders are supposed to be, so what are we ratifying? That’s what happens when you’re greedy: you keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger – people have trouble recognizing you.
In a move the Foreign Press Association blasted as collective punishment and a violation of press freedom, the Israeli government ordered the demolition of several CNN offices Wednesday after the network provided “inaccurate and biased coverage” of November’s terror attack in a Jerusalem synagogue.Munich upholds ban on Holocaust street memorials
IDF D9 Bulldozers razed CNN’s regional offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv following the report, as journalists from the network watched helplessly from the parking lot.
“Everything I have was in that office – my desk chair, my press pass, an unopened bag of Skittles,” CNN reporter Ben Wedeman told The Mideast Beast, as tears welled in his eyes. “Now if I want to hit deadline I’m going to have to find a café with Wifi.”
The office demolition came in response to a CNN ticker that mistakenly reported that the terror attack took place in a mosque rather than a synagogue. CNN also used the headline “4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians Dead in Jerusalem” without mentioning the two Palestinians were the armed attackers.
“These office demolitions will provide deterrence that will save the Jewish State from negative press,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained during a press conference. “The next time a reporter thinks about writing a misleading or slanted headline, they’ll know their coworkers will also suffer the consequences.”
Munich Wednesday gave its approval for plaques for individual Holocaust victims to be installed throughout the German city but upheld a ban on Europe’s biggest memorial project after months of anguished debate.Southern Israel Solar Field of 134 Acres Connected to Electric Grid
The decision by the city council in the birthplace of the Nazi movement will pave the way for some Holocaust victims to be honoured with personalised brass plates at their last-known addresses.
However a long and emotional campaign to bring to Munich the two-decade-old Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks) project, in which coaster-sized brass plaques are embedded in the pavement in front of the victims’ former homes, was voted down.
The strongest opposition came from an unexpected place: the leader of Munich‘s 4,000-strong Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch, who argued that victims’ memories would be desecrated once more when passers-by walked on the plaques.
A French national electric company subsidiary hooked up the 134-acre solar field in the Arava in southern Israel Wednesday, making the solar farm the largest in national electric grid.Israeli Trained Indian SWAT Team Ends Terror Siege at Gurdaspur Police Station
Arava Power jointly owns the solar field with the French company, EDF Énergies Nouvelles Israel.
Planning for the solar field began six years ago, and constructing finally began seven months ago, more than year after financing was arranged.
The farm consists of 140,343 solar panels.
The French subsidiary in Israel also building another solar park and has wind power projects in the pipeline.
Solar energy provides only a tiny fraction of Israel’s electricity, but the long-term is that the sun will be the source for 27 percent of the country’s electric by 2050.
An Indian SWAT team behind the neutralization of an apparent terrorist siege at a police station near the Pakistan border in the Punjab state was putting the skills it gained from Israeli training to the test for the first time, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.Ivory Coast to learn from Israel how to combat terrorism
The team of 28 commandos were “were among the 80 personnel who were selected for being trained by a special team from the Security and Protection Training School, Israel, in 2010,” said the report, adding that this was the first major operation since their training in 2010.
“This was their first operation since they were trained. And they have done well,” said a senior Indian intelligence officer, according to the report.
Their job was to flush the terrorists out of the police station in the city of Gurdaspur, where the Punjab commandos joined a SWAT team from northern Indian Jammu and Kashmir state as well.
The SWAT teams eventually killed the three terrorists who stormed the station, Indian media reported, but not before they claimed the lives of three civilians and three police officers. Pakistan condemned the attack.
The Israeli training underscores increasing ties between India and the Jewish state, especially regarding counter-terrorism and security. Indian President Pranab Mukherjee will become the first head of state in India to visit Israel, in October.
Soro and his delegation came to Israel to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation, and to study how to cope with the growing threat of terrorism, which until recently was something with which the Ivory Coast was unfamiliar, until it erupted in neighboring Mali.Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’
Soro attributed the surge in terrorism to world wide unemployment, noting that today in many countries young people are increasingly effecting change and the decision making process.
“The so called 'Arab Spring' was started by young people,” he said, “and in Africa unemployed young people are the infrastructure for terrorist recruitment.”
Rivlin, in welcoming his guests pointed out that both Israel and the Ivory Coast are democracies facing difficult challenges in implementing their democratic values. In Israel’s case he said, one of those challenges was being a Jewish and democratic state with Arabs accounting for 20 per cent of the population.. “We have the problem of two nations in one state,” he said. “This creates a difficult mission for democracy.”
Rivlin also spoke of the social gap between the rich and the poor.
“These are both problems that pose a danger for democracy,” he said.
While the democratic systems of neither Israel nor the Ivory Coast are ideal, Rivlin conceded, “We have nothing better.”
Rivlin said that the Ivory Coast – in fact all of Africa, were important to Israel.
Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film.Israeli archaeologists find remnants of landmark synagogue destroyed by Nazis
The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter.
The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.”
Rogen plays the only Jew in the trio, and a conspicuous Jew at that. Throughout the trailer he is seen wearing a holiday sweater with a large Star of David embroidered onto the front. His two buddies in the film are played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie.
Israeli archaeologists announced on Wednesday that they have unearthed remnants of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, one of the most historic and treasured landmarks of European Jewry destroyed by the Nazis during their occupation of Lithuania in World War II.
Using underground detection radars and equipment, scientists searching in an area near a school in Vilnius found what they believe to be pieces of the synagogue that is widely considered to be the most important institution of Lithuanian Jewry.
One of the oldest and most historic buildings in Vilna, the Great Synogogue was built in the 1600's and remained an important fixture within the Lithuanian Jewish community until it was severely damaged during the Holocaust.
This monumental discovery was led by Dr. Yochanan Zeligman and Dr. Richard Freund from the archaeology department at University of Hartford.
Archeological excavation on the site is stated to begin in 2016. Researchers hope that the site will give them a glimpse into how Jewish live thrived in Vilna post World War I.
"We are very excited about this discovery, as this synogogue stands as a grand memorial to the Jewish community of Vilna," said the team of researchers.