Wednesday, August 26, 2015

From Ian:

Update: Extent of EE's blocking of pro-Israel websites has got MUCH worse
On 3 August I reported on EE's censoring and blocking of pro-Israel websites on its UK Mobile network, while placing no such restrictions on any vicious anti-Israel sites. Despite having sent several emails to different departments in EE and a letter to Olaf Swantee ( the EE CEO) I have not even received an acknowledgement. And today I can confirm that things have got much worse. It is beyond doubt that a campaign of anti-Israel discrimination is taking place.
Here is what I discovered using EE 3G and 4G mobile network on an iphone with all the default security settings:
The following very popular and important sites are now blocked* whereas they were NOT previously
Elder Of Ziyon* Sultan Knish* Abu Yehuda Israel Matzav Pamela Geller Jihad Watch Robin Shepherd
The following sites were previously blocked and remain blocked:
My own site Edgar Davidson Daphne Anson Israpundit The Religion of Peace Bare Naked Islam
The following sites were previously blocked but are now unblocked (there was just one I could find):
IsraellyCool
PMW: Abbas presents Holocaust as something Jews "say"
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in a speech before a delegation of Polish journalists in Ramallah, referred to Jewish suffering in World War II as a Jewish or Israeli claim that he is willing to respect:
"They say they made sacrifices in World War II - we respect what they say."
He made this statement in the context of libeling Israel, as the second half of his statement accuses Israel of doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews:
"They should not treat us the way they were treated [by the Nazis]. We must not be a victim of the victim. I did not do anything bad to him."
It is striking that in his statement Abbas presents the Holocaust not as historical fact to be acknowledged but as something "Jews say" which he is willing to "respect." Additionally, his choice of terminology to describe the genocide of 6 million Jews completes his trivialization of the Holocaust:
"... they made sacrifices in World War II."
Palestinian Media Watch has documented that Holocaust denial and trivialization are repeated regularly by the PA.
Abbas compares Jews to Nazis: "They [Jews] should not treat us the way they were treated"


Palestinian minister of disinformation
Mustafa Barghouti’s “Obama can still do something for peace in the Middle East” (Aug. 17) misleads through omissions, misrepresentations, and falsehoods.
The author—who has previously falsely claimed that Jesus, a Jew from Judea, was a Palestinian Arab—argues that the “Palestinian plight” is one of “dispossession followed by occupation.” He fails to mention that Arabs became refugees not because of the creation of the state of Israel, but due to Arab rejection of the United Nation’s 1947 Palestine partition plan and then their violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for Arab and Jewish states, by attacking Israel. In that Arab war of aggression, Jordanian troops conquered eastern Jerusalem, destroyed synagogues and murdered or expelled Jewish residents.
Israel reunited the city (whose Arab population has since grown faster than its Jewish population) after successful defense from another Arab-initiated war or aggression in 1967. But Jordanian forces had seized what was then known as Judea and Samaria in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, in 1950 renaming it the West Bank, during an illegal occupation only recognized by Great Britain and Pakistan. Israel seized that land during the Arab-initiated ’67 war and remains the obligatory military occupational authority prior to a settlement negotiated according to U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), 338 (1973), the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian agreement, and related pacts.
As for the settlement's legality, the League of Nations Palestine Mandate Article 6, called for “close Jewish settlement on the land" west of the Jordan River. The U.N. Charter, Chapter 12, Article 80, upholds the Mandate’s provisions. Barghouti harps on the themes of Israel’s “occupation” and “illegal settlements.”
Brendan O’Neill: Anti-Zionists are not as different from anti-Semities as they’d like to think
To see much of the left sniffily write off criticisms of Corbyn as overblown, or sinister, confirms the left has a big anti-Semitism problem: it treats anti-Semitism as less bad than other prejudices.
Were a British politician to share a platform with a white nationalist or a crazy woman-hater, there’d be outrage. But it seems mixing with those who aren’t fond of Jews is okay, or excusable, less wicked somehow.
What’s behind this extraordinary double standard among those who pose as loathers of prejudice?
It springs from that phrase “anti State of Israel”. Sadly, today’s anti-Zionists are not as different from anti-Semities as they like to believe. What both sides share in common is an urge to find one thing in the world on to which they might pin the blame for every global, political and social problem.
The anti-Semite blames the Jew; the anti-Zionist blames Israel, seeing it and its Western backers as the cause of conflict, the sinister influencers of the media, and, as the Corbyn fuss makes clear, as aspiring controllers of the fate of British politics.
The left’s notable lack of genuine agitation over anti-Semitism springs from the fact that there is, however vaguely, a common link here. The modern left thinks dark forces control every aspect of our lives. So do anti-Semites.
The left can’t convincingly condemn anti-Semitism because, terrifyingly, it sees a little bit of itself in it.



Michael Lumish: My Radio Interview
Michael Burd of mighty J-AIR out of Melbourne, Australia, interviewed me early this month on his radio show Nothing Left. We talked for about half an hour concerning American Jewry's relationship with Israel. This was prior to the Trump Surge or the Sanders' Challenge and my assumption was that we were looking at another likely Clinton-Bush race for the presidency.
In any case, I can be heard on episode 67 that aired yesterday, August 25. Also interviewed during this episode, I am proud to say, is Isi Liebler and political scientist, Emanuelle Ottolenghi, so I am in very fine company, indeed.
My segment begins at about the thirty minute mark.
It would not have happened were it not for Shirlee of Jews Down Under fame.
Jewish Human Rights Group Seeks High Court Challenge to Leicester City Council's Israel Boycott
A Jewish organisation dedicated to opposing the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is seeking to take Leicester City Council to court over its recent decision to boycott Israel.
The organisation has accused the council of anti-Semitism, likening the council’s decision to the boycott of Jewish shops in Nazi Germany. The council has refuted the accusation.
Last November Leicester City Council voted in favour of a motion to support the BDS movement by undertaking a boycott of all goods produced in Israel’s West Bank. But Jewish Human Rights Watch says it believes Leicester City Council has singled out the Jewish State for special treatment in ways similar to traditional anti-Semitism in the past.
Director of JHRW Jonathan Neumann said: “Leicester City Council has taken steps down an anti-Semitic path under the guise of helping community relations in Leicester. Frankly this amounts to a get-of-out-town order to Leicester Jews.”
Matisyahu affair highlights Europe’s conflation of Jew and Israel
Recent examples of the conflation include Hitler salutes by Belgian soccer fans at a match last month in Charleroi between a local team and Beitar Jerusalem; Bosnian soccer fans in April chanting anti-Semitic slogans, including “kill the Jews,” at an impromptu pro-Palestinian rally they held in Vienna; and in Britain, singer-songwriter Alison Chabloz signing a blog post this month in which she questioned the existence of the gas chambers with the phrase “#FreePalestine.”
“The borderline of what is acceptable behavior toward Jews is shifting in Europe, and the people moving it are using Israel as one of their main vehicles,” said Manfred Gerstenfeld, an Israeli scholar whose work has focused on European anti-Semitism.
Earlier this year Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s former chief rabbi, said European Jews are facing a choice: “Live in Europe and criticize Israel or be silent — or leave Europe.” He pointed a finger at the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to put political and economic pressure on Israel.
For its part, the BDS movement has been adamant in rejecting accusations that it is the modern face of anti-Semitism. It was, however, a pro-BDS group in Valencia, Spain, that lobbied for and celebrated Matisyahu’s ejection from the festival.
After Spain, Matisyahu performs outside Auschwitz
Three days after a performing at a reggae festival in Spain that had previously disinvited him, Matisyahu brought his music to a synagogue near the gates of Auschwitz.
The Jewish-Amierican singer gave an intimate acoustic concert Tuesday night in the tiny Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot synagogue in Oswiecim, the town in southern Poland where Auschwitz was built.
“Played in the last remaining Synagogue outside of Auschwitz in the city Oświęcim. Peace and blessings,” Matisyahu wrote on his Facebook page. He also quoted a line from his song, “Jerusalem:” “The gas tried to choke but it couldn’t choke me.”
On Saturday night, he sang “Jerusalem” in front of thousands at the Rototom Sunsplash festival in Spain. Its organizers had initially cancelled his appearance due to pressure from the local branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement, which aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel. The festival reinvited him following widespread condemnation, including from the Spanish government.
The only one of Oswiecim’s synagogues to survive today, the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot synagogue forms part of the Auschwitz Jewish Center, a prayer and study center and museum founded in 2000. The concert marked the center’s 15th anniversary.
UK government dismisses petition to arrest Netanyahu
A petition on the British Parliament’s website urging the UK to arrest Netanyahu for “war crimes” has garnered over 84,000 signatures, but was dismissed by the government and described by a senior Tory MP as “completely absurd.”
“Under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained,” the British government said in a formal response.
“The UK is a close friend of Israel and we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation between our two countries across a range of fields. Our priority for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the achievement of a two-state solution, based on 1967 borders,” the statement also noted. “We continue to believe that negotiations will be necessary in order to achieve this, and that both parties need to focus on steps that are conducive to peace. The UK Government will reinforce this message to Mr Netanyahu during his visit.”
Vatican asks to be removed from Palestinian flag initiative at United Nations
The Vatican on Tuesday asked the Palestinian UN mission to remove all references to it from a draft resolution the Palestinians have prepared for the General Assembly calling for the flags of Palestine and the Holy See to fly at the UN
The Palestinian draft resolution, which was seen by Reuters, says that the flags of non-member observer states "shall be raised at the United Nations Headquarters and Offices following the flags of the member states of the United Nations."
The draft resolution specifically refers to both the Vatican and the State of Palestine, both of which are non-member observer states at the United Nations.
The initiative comes one month before the scheduled appearance of Pope Francis for a major speech before a high-level gathering of the 193-nation UN General Assembly on Sept. 25.
Currently, only member states' flags fly at UN headquarters. UN diplomats say the United States and Israel, which do not recognize Palestinian statehood, would likely be irked by any move to fly the Palestinian flag at UN headquarters in New York City.
Expert: PLO Has Failed in Everything
Middle East expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar of the Begin Sadat Center told Arutz Sheva Sunday that Palestinian Authority (PA) is about to “die totally” and that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas's resignation may stem from the fact that he does not want to be there when it “officially” breathes its last.
Kedar analyzed Hamas-Fatah relations and offered his idea for a stable solution for Judea and Samaria.


Terror Victims’ Lawyer Disappointed by Pathetically Low Palestinian Authority Bond Requirement
The lead attorney for 10 American families who secured $655 million in civil damages against the Palestinian Authority (PA) for past terror support expressed disappointment Monday with a judge’s bond order.
Kent Yalowitz, whose clients either lost loved ones or were wounded in terror attacks either carried out or aided by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA, had asked for $30 million monthly payments to serve as bond while a jury’s February civil verdict is appealed.
During a hearing Monday, U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels ordered the PA to deposit $10 million into an account within the next month. After that, the PA must deposit an additional $1 million per month. The money serves as a bond in the event the judgment is upheld after the PA’s appeal is resolved.
The installments are so insignificant compared to the PA’s resources that Yalowitz likened the amount to a “rounding error.”
US Clams Up on Whether Foreign Aid Helps PA Post Bond in Terror Suit
State Dept. spokesman John Kirby, who is supposed to provide information while making every effort to avoid embarrassing the government, made the Obama administration look a bit stupid Monday by turning on the tape recorder to repeat “no comment” over and over instead of directly answering questions.
Associated Press journalist Matt Lee asked:
Is that [$10 million bond]– in the Administration’s view, is that too much to be asking? Does this place an undue – does the Administration believe it places an undue burden on the Palestinians?
Kirby reiterated the facts of the U.S. intervention and concluded:
And I’m not going to be able to comment further.
Lee then asked:
Well, is the United States concerned at all that some or any of this money will be actual money that you might have provided to the Palestinians in the past?
Guess what Kirby answered?
I’m just not going to be able to comment further, Matt.
US lawmaker wants Israel military aid halted over Palestinian deaths
In a letter to the State Department officials last week, Minnesota representative Betty McCollum said the deaths of Nadeem Siam Nawara and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh in May 2014 demonstrated the “brutal system of occupation that devalues and dehumanizes Palestinian children.”
McCollum urged State Department officials to determine whether the killing of the teens was in violation of the Leahy Act, a US human rights law that prohibits the State and Defense departments from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.
Honest Reporting: Foreign Policy Rewrites Peace Process History
The Foreign Policy article states:
In 1993, the Israeli government signed the Oslo Accords, in which it officially committed to freezing settlement expansion. (Since then, settlements nonetheless have expanded drastically.)
This statement creates the impression that Israel has been in violation of its treaty commitments since the very day that it signed the Oslo agreements. This statement is also factually incorrect.
In fact, neither the Declaration of Principles (DOP) of September 13, 1993 nor the Interim Agreement (“Oslo 2″) of September 28, 1995 contains any provisions prohibiting or restricting the establishment or expansion of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Thank you to Foreign Policy magazine for acknowledging the error, amending the article and publishing the following correction:
*Corrected, Aug. 26, 2015: The Israeli government agreed to freeze settlement expansion in the West Bank in 2003 as part of the Roadmap for Peace plan. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Israel agreed to a settlement freeze in the 1993 Oslo Accords.
PreOccupied Territory: Israel Makes Green Line Red So Obama Will OK Crossing It (satire)
Israeli publishers will begin printing the 1949 cease-fire lines with Egypt and Jordan in red, instead of the original green, so that US President Barack Obama will no longer object to Israel’s policies on either side of it.
Officers of the Israeli and Jordanian militaries joined a United Nations representative in 1949 to determine the exact contours of the areas controlled by each country after the hostilities of Israel’s War of Independence ceased. The officers drew a line in green along a map of the region to demarcate the respective zones, which became, to the west, Israel, and to the east, the Jordanian-occupied West Bank. Jordan annexed the territory, but that move was only recognized by Britain and Pakistan. Israel drove Jordan out of the area in June 1967, and Israelis began reestablishing communities there. However, most of the world does not recognize Israel’s claim to the area, known by its Biblical names of Judea and Samaria, and demands that Israel remove its soldiers and civilians from Judea and Samaria in favor of an emerging State of Palestine.
Among those objectors is President Obama, whose insistence on the sacrosanct nature of a green 1949 cease-fire line is not matched by repeated violations of Obama’s own red lines on the part of Israel’s neighbors. The president made repeated statements regarding Syrian use of chemical weapons in its bloody civil war, stating that such actions constituted a red line that, if crossed, would prompt American military intervention to assist opponents of the Assad regime. When multiple instance of Assad’s force using such weapons came to light, Obama demurred.
Israel's Moroccan youth project likened to Da'esh
The fallout from the report that 30 young Moroccan Jews had been on an IDF-sponsored training course in Israel was going to be inevitable. The Jerusalem Post pulled the original article, but the damage had already been done. Not content with smearing the IDF, anti-normalisers in Morocco have gone a step further, accusing Israel of being no different from Da'esh (Islamic state), and plotting to subvert the Moroccan regime itself. This report in Ya Biladi takes a swipe at the Islamist PJD party, who are behind the campaign.
The recent trip made by thirty young Moroccan Jews in Israel as part of a program sponsored by the Ministry of Defence has renewed the anti-normalization campaign in the kingdom. They have written a letter to Abdelilah Benkirane, head of government asking him to order a "sincere" and "transparent" investigation into the incident.
Signatories of the letter demand "to identify those responsible" behind the organization of this program "and to take the necessary measures." They are also asking him to "make every effort to prevent further projects of this kind (...) and to prosecute any person involved in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in occupied Palestine."
NGOs that call the Israeli state an"apartheid" state say that the visit is "as dangerous as allying with Daesh ."
IsraellyCool: Pro-Israel Celebrity Of The Day: Joe Mantegna
Joe Mantegna, a great actor and apparently a great guy too.
Ammoland.com) – IWI US, Inc., a subsidiary of Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) Ltd., announces it will be donating two TAVOR® rifles to be auctioned off at the next “Bullets & Bagels” event to be held Aug. 23, 2015 at the Raahauges Range in Corona, California. Joe Mantegna, best known for playing Special Agent David Rossi in the acclaimed TV show “Criminal Minds” and for portraying Joey Zasa in “The Godfather Part III” will be conducting the auction. Proceeds from the auction will be going to Friends of the IDF, an organization dedicated to supporting the men and women soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces who defend the state of Israel and to the families of fallen IDF soldiers.
“IWI is proud to support the Jewish community. ‘Bullets & Bagels’ allows all who love guns, great food and Israel to get together, eat, shoot and shoot the breeze. It’ll be a blast. Don’t be surprised if you see me there myself. I could always go for some bagels and lox with a side of TAVOR®,” remarked Vice President of Sales and Marketing for IWI US, Michael Kassnar.
Palestinian Artist Kicked Out of Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’ for Protesting Israeli Participation in Exhibit
A Palestinian artist was kicked off the premises of a new “bemusement park” exhibit in Britain for protesting the presence of Israeli artists, the London-based, English-language edition of Al-Araby al-Jadeed reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, Shadi Alzaqzouq was escorted off the grounds of “Dismaland,” and told his paintings would be removed, after he placed a bed sheet over his work — with “R.I.P Gaza: Boycott Israel” written on it in coal – and laid it down “like a corpse” in front of his display.
He did this, he said, because he had not been informed by the event’s organizers that Israeli artists would be present.
Dismaland, a dark parody of Disneyland, set up Friday at the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare, is the brainchild of British graffiti artist Banksy, whose real name remains a secret, but whose left-wing political activism, including open advocacy for Palestinians, is well-known.
Israel said to ask diplomats to reverse American Airlines pull-out
Since American made the announcement last week, rumors have circulated in Israeli media that the decision was driven by political factors. However, the carrier has maintained that the decision to cancel its lone flight to Israel was based solely on financial considerations.
On Tuesday, the airline said the route lost the company $20 million in 2014, and that it had not made an annual profit since it started in 2009.
The Israeli business journal TheMarker on Sunday cited industry insiders who said the route was profitable and the US airline was simply trying to bolster its ties with its Arab counterparts. American Airlines is part of the OneWorld alliance of carriers, which means it shares flights and other services with Arab carriers such as Royal Jordanian and Qatar Airways.
Since merging with US Airways last year, American Airlines had operated Tel Aviv to Philadelphia flights on a daily basis.
For the five previous years, daily Tel Aviv to Philadelphia flights were carried out by US Airways. All 19 American Airlines employees based in Israel are expected to lose their jobs after the company ends operations in the country.
UK Labor Party leadership front-runner unlikely to attend anti-Israel rally
British Labor Party leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, who has been dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism, is not now expected to participate in an anti-Israel rally in Cardiff next month.
The protest is due to take place while Israel plays Wales as part of the European Championships soccer tournament qualifier series.
While media reports in recent days had stated that Corbyn will attend the rally, the Cardiff Palestine Solidarity Campaign website that promoted the demonstration on Tueasday did not list his name among the expected participants.
According to a Sunday report, Corbyn was among those touted by organizers as planning to attend the protest, scheduled for September 6. It is due to take place less than a week before the Labor Party unveils the result of its leadership election.
Jeremy Corbyn teams up with Moazzam Begg to help terrorists
This video from 2012 shows Jeremy Corbyn shouting for British terrorist suspects facing extradition to the United States.
His fellow speaker is Moazzam Begg, who needs no introduction here.
In the video you will also see Asim “Emwazi was a beautiful young man” Qureshi, Islamist fixer Carl Arrindell, the nasty piece of Labour work that is London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi, and insufferable Lindsey “Shibboleth” German. Another fine Corbyn crowd!
Corbyn claims the extraditions were coming to pass “without any process, without any accusations”. This is the shabbiest of lies. The judicial process was exhaustive and the US indictments were right out in the open.
Anti-Semitism Issue Again Confronts UC Regents
Back in June, the president of the University of California promised on national radio that the UC Board of Regents would vote in its next meeting — in July — on whether to adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.
It didn’t happen. There was no vote, no discussion, not even an agenda item.
No regent, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom or Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, spoke a critical word on the quiet disappearance of that item from the meeting.
But the question is slated to reappear when regents gather again Sept. 16-17 in Irvine, not as a policy opposing anti-Semitism, but as a general discussion of “tolerance” on campus.
UC administrators, of course, know all about tolerating anti-Semitism. No suspects have yet been found in several episodes of Nazi-like swastikas daubed onto university buildings and there have been no penalties for student government members who publicly questioned whether Jewish students can make fair and objective decisions or judgments on campus issues.
Sudanese blogger: Macaque monkeys descended from Jews
Al-Mosharraf, whose Elaph blog posts often contain anti-Semitic overtones, argues that some monkeys are Jews whom Allah punished for desecrating the Sabbath, as is told in the Quran. He included numerous photos of macaque monkeys in his post, and pointed out the similarities between their behavior and Jewish behavior.
The publication of such a blog post is unprecedented on the liberal Elaph, which has never published any content of this kind -- on the contrary, it has published articles condemning the custom of calling Jews "the offspring of apes and pigs."
While Elaph stresses on its blog section that it is not responsible for any content therein, it also notes that bloggers must abide by its Terms of Service, which include "not harming the monotheistic religions or schools of religious thought" and which specify that Elaph is entitled to delete any blog that fails to do so.
Jewish tombstones, WWII plane found in Polish rivers
As river levels in Poland fall to record lows amid a prolonged drought, Jewish tombstones and a Soviet fighter plane with the remains of its pilots have been found in the riverbank, evidence of Poland’s tortured 20th-century history.
Those discoveries follow the findings of stone fragments from the early 20th-century Poniatowski Bridge across the Vistula River in Warsaw, which the Germans blew up in 1944 as they crushed the Warsaw Uprising. The bridge was rebuilt after the war.
“The Vistula River is hiding no end of secrets. They are everywhere,” said Jonny Daniels, the head of Jewish foundation “From the Depths,” who waded Tuesday into a shallow area of the Vistula, picking up fragments of stones with Hebrew lettering.
Officials knew that archaeological remnants remained hidden under wild and murky waters of the Vistula River and its tributaries, but it was impossible to carry out searches for them until now. The Vistula, which flows 1,047 kilometers (651 miles) from the Beskidy Mountains to the Baltic Sea, is now at its lowest level since measurements started in the late 18th century.
Israeli doctors restore sight to 90 Kyrgyzstanis in marathon initiative
A group of doctors from Israel restored the eyesight of 90 adults and children in Kyrgyzstan earlier this month in an ambitious endeavor undertaken by the Eye from Zion organization.
Eye from Zion is a volunteer Israeli-Jewish group established to provide medical treatment to underprivileged populations around the world. The organization sends delegations of experienced medical professionals and advanced equipment to places where they are needed most. The Eye from Zion delegations perform surgeries together with local medical teams and instruct local doctors on modern medical techniques.
Many of the patients treated this month in Kyrgyzstan had been blind for years.
The delegation, which included Dr. Yonina Ron from the pediatric ophthalmology team at Schneider Children's Medical Center and Dr. Asher Milstein from Kaplan Medical Center, arrived in Kyrgyzstan a week and a half ago to perform complicated procedures such as cornea surgery, plastic surgery, tumor removal and the treatment of cataracts in children.
Israeli sisters’ A-WA electro-pop band goes global
A trio of sisters wearing hot pink hijabs piles into a dusty white Jeep and rambles across the desert. At home in the village, a man with a closely-cropped white beard shaded by his military cap whips a lash upon the cracked, sandy ground, while an elderly woman with sunken eyes and gold-painted fingernails puffs idly from a hookah as she sits in a rocking chair. She watches a crew of young men in blue track suits bounce around to what looks like a choreographed hip-hop routine, but really it’s a type of folk dance known as the “Yemenite Step.” Bright and colorful, these scenes were filmed to accompany the somber undertones of the Yemenite folk song, “Habib Galbi” (“Love of My Heart”), recently infused with electro-pop beats by A-WA — an Israeli band that has been gaining popularity from Tel Aviv to Tangier.
Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim, the three sisters who make up A-WA, told me during a Skype conversation that growing up, their lives resembled an Israeli “Little House on the Prairie.” The sisters, ages 26 through 32, are the eldest of six children, raised in Shaharut, a tiny farming village, in the Arava Valley of southern Israel. As children, they would perform at school concerts, run around barefoot, and “sing to the wind,” as one of the sisters put it. Their mother, of Ukrainian and Moroccan heritage, used to give them pots and pans as percussion instruments. “We blossomed at home,” said Liron. Four years ago, on a trip back home from Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, where the sisters now live, they began collaborating again and officially started their band A-WA. It’s pronounced “Ay-Wah” and means “yeah” in Arabic slang.
Gal Gadot, from the IDF to the silver screen
When asked if there was a prophetic moment in her childhood, one that pointed to the empowered women she has played in her accelerating movie career, Gal Gadot, who was born in a suburb of Rosh HaAyin, Israel, says, “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just to get attention.”
“Gal” (which rhymes with “all”) means “wave,” and “Gadot” means “riverbank,” so the water came naturally. As for attention, all through her teens Gadot received offers to model, which, ironically, did not interest her. “I was a dancer for 12 years—ballet, hip-hop, modern, jazz. I thought that I wanted to be a choreographer.” After she graduated from high school, during the time before she was to start her two years in the Israel Defense Forces, Gadot was asked to enter the competition for Miss Israel. Thinking it would be an experience she could tell her grandchildren about, she said yes, and then, “extremely surprised,” won. After the service Gadot started law school, but a few months later she was invited to audition for a James Bond film. She didn’t get the part, but she did land the role of the rather Bond Girl-ish Gisele in Fast & Furious, the fourth film in the Vin Diesel series. “It was a very, very big thing for me,” she says. “It was the first movie I’ve ever done and my second project as an actress.”
Kirk Douglas donating $80 million in new gifts
Actor Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne announced plans to donate $80 million in new gifts to an array of charitable causes.
In a Hollywood Reporter interview published Monday, Douglas, 98, said major beneficiaries will include Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The two already have donated millions of dollars through their Douglas Charitable Foundation.
While most of the beneficiaries are secular organizations, the couple also is donating to the Sinai Temple of Los Angeles, which houses the Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center.
Douglas is Jewish and the father of Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, who this year won the $1 million Genesis Prize, which is marketed as the “Jewish Nobel.”
In the interview, Douglas recalled his modest childhood as the son of Russian immigrants.
Global Index ranks Israel fourth best place to raise children
Israel has been ranked as the 4th best place to raise children by the Family Life Index
The Family Life Index ranks countries in such subcategories as availability and cost of childcare and education, quality of education, family well-being, and available leisure activities.


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