Thursday, December 10, 2015

From Ian:

Col Kemp: The need for the closest friendship between Britain and Israel
Ninety-eight years ago tomorrow (December 11) General Sir Edmund Allenby entered the Holy City after defeating the Ottoman forces in the Battle of Jerusalem. This was one of Britain’s great victories in the First World War and a much-needed uplift for our national spirit, reeling from the 300,000 casualties sustained in the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium that ended the previous month.
This anniversary reminds us of the shared history and values of Britain and the State of Israel; and, with the perils we face in the world today, of the need for the closest friendship between our two countries.
According to Lieutenant General Sir George Macdonogh, director of British military intelligence during the Great War, Allenby’s conquest of Palestine in 1917 and 1918 was made possible by the Jewish intelligence network, Nili. Led by the distinguished botanist Aaron Aaronsohn and his sister Sarah, Nili took tremendous risks to pass vital information on the Turks to Allenby’s forces. Some, including Sarah, sacrificed their lives to help the British.
Within Allenby’s army was the Jewish Legion: the 38th, 39th and 40th Battalions of The Royal Fusiliers, which had been raised in the British Army to fight the Ottomans. Formed and led by British Christian officer Lieutenant Colonel John Patterson and Russian Zionist leader and soldier Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the Legion was made up of Jews from Britain, the US, Palestine, Russia, Canada, Argentina and the Ottoman Empire. They fought valiantly in battles to the north of Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley.
The Jewish Legion was the first formed Jewish fighting force since the Maccabees, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called John Patterson the godfather of the IDF.
Gerald Steinberg: Amnesty International and the Tragedy of Human Rights Day
In the past year, Amnesty’s moral bankruptcy was further highlighted by exposure of wider connections to terrorists. In August, The Times (London) published a series of articles revealing that Yasmin Hussein, the NGO’s Director of Faith and Human Rights and formerly Director of International Advocacy, has links to the Muslim Brotherhood and possibly to Hamas. Hussein’s husband, Wael Mussabeh, holds a position in the Human Relief Foundation (HRF), a member of the Union of Good, an organization designated by the US and Israeli governments as involved in funding terror groups. Before working at Amnesty, Hussein was employed at Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), also banned by Israel in 2014 for its alleged financial connections to Hamas.
In addition, Amnesty’s lack of credibility in accusations and allegations of human rights violations and war crimes is increasingly visible. In 2015, the organization associated itself with a flashy project known as “forensic architecture” based on pseudo-scientific methodologies. In a series of publications, Amnesty officials marketed what they referred to as the Gaza Platform, an “online tool” that purports to “map Israeli attacks” during the 2014 conflict. A promotional video titled “CSI: Gaza” intersperses highly emotive images of dead children with shots of staffers purporting to be remotely “investigating” the Gaza “crime scene”.
However, the Gaza Platform provides no real evidence, relying exclusively on publications by Palestinian NGOs which themselves have no credibility, no independent verification capabilities, and often contradictory allegations. Information that is essential for the establishment of war crimes allegations – such as the location of enemy forces and military targets, nature of combat, and intelligence available to commanders at the time of the fighting – is entirely absent. And the “Gaza Platform” based on “forensic architecture” fails to mention more than 4,000 rocket attacks from Gaza. (This exercise in propaganda was funded by a European Research Council grant.)
In contrast, in many places where real atrocities and human rights violations are committed daily, such as in Syria and Iran, Amnesty is irrelevant. The limited human rights reporting that does take place is provided by local groups with much smaller budgets, and by people with more interest in the substance than in the public relations aspects.
EU Makes Up Bogus Laws to Target -- Guess Who?
Israel's occupation of the West Bank is fully legal under the terms of UN Resolution 242 (1967), which was carefully drafted to guarantee Israel's rights to remain there until such time as there is a "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
When the EU states that its aim is "to ensure the respect of Union positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the Union of Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967," it refuses to recognize the validity of UN Resolution 242, and it gives no proper explanation of what is meant by "sovereignty."
As only Israeli armed forces will be required to withdraw in the event that such boundaries are created, the presence of Israeli settlements there will remain legal under the terms of the original League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which stipulates that there should be close Jewish settlement in all areas. Those Mandate provisions were incorporated in the UN Resolution 181, which established a Jewish and an Arab state.
The European Union has never demanded that China, Morocco, Russia, Pakistan or India -- all with territories under dispute -- label goods in ways like those demanded of Israel.
"The EU does not have a general set of rules for dealing with occupied territories, settlements or territorial administrations whose legality is not recognized by the EU. Rather, the EU has special restrictions aimed at Israel." -- Law Professors Eugene Kontorovich (Northwestern University) and Avi Bell (University of San Diego).

David Singer: Israel Sheds PLO As Negotiating Partner
Whilst the issue of a “demilitarized Palestinian State” is one possibly capable of being further negotiated – the issue of recognizing the Jewish State is definitely not.
Recognition of the right of Jewish self-determination in Palestine – whilst simultaneously recognizing the right of Arab self-determination in Syria, Lebanon and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) – has always been an issue with the Arabs – since these decisions were first made at the San Remo Conference in April 1920 establishing the Mandates for Palestine, Mesopotamia and Syria and Lebanon.
These decisions delivered to the Arabs 99.99 per cent of the lands won from the defeated Ottoman Empire in World War 1 whilst setting aside the remaining 0.01 per cent for the Jews.
95 years of bloody conflict between Jews and Arabs has ensued since then because the Arabs wanted – and still want – 100 per cent of the Ottoman Empire pie and have never been prepared to settle for 99.99 per cent.
Netanyahu points out where the Arab world now finds itself in 2015 because of such Arab irredentism:
“And what we see is the old order established after the Ottoman Empire collapsing and militant Islam, either of the Shiites, Shiite hue led by Iran, or the Sunni hue, led by ISIS, rushing in to fill the void.”
JPost Editorial: The Jewish Nakba

On November 30, the Israeli Mission to the UN held an event to honor the untold stories of some 850,000 Jewish refugees who were forced to flee their native Muslim countries following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
This annual commemoration could become a key to resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, if it is utilized to resolve the refugee issue – Palestinian and Jewish refugees – once and for all and remove it from the agenda, where it has been another obstacle to overcome.
This is not going to be easy. While there have been several legislative gains on the issue, both in the US and Israel, the Palestinian propaganda juggernaut has persuaded world public opinion that the term “refugee” is synonymous with the term “Palestinian.” A massive counter effort is required, not by the usual perpetrators of the unfortunately named “public diplomacy,” but by public relations professionals.
The Palestinian Nakba narrative must be seen in direct parallel to the Jewish Nakba. The basic facts of the history of this conflict must become known so that the world recognizes that two peoples suffered and were uprooted.
David Horovitz: Rivlin’s one-hug solution, Bibi’s dog, and the ‘unelectable’ Donald Trump
You’ve got to love Reuven Rivlin. You’ve got to love the way our avuncular president cheerfully bumbles his way through those well-constructed texts his excellent English-language speechwriters pen for him, mangling the words here and there but still managing to convey the good will at their heart.
You’ve got to love the way he so publicly wrestles with his foundational dilemma — his conflicting core beliefs that all the land from the river to the sea is the birthright of the Jews and that democracy is the birthright of all, including the Palestinians who almost outnumber us.
You’ve got to love the glee with which he has embraced the presidency, so plainly reveling in the capacity to reach out to disaffected and disadvantaged Israelis — Jews and Arabs — even if, as president, there is little he can provide by way of practical assistance.
You’ve got to love that after the cerebral, grave, ostensibly visionary presidency of Shimon Peres, we now have a backslapping, hevre-man president — a president who, at Wednesday’s candle-lighting Hanukkah ceremony at the White House, veritably smashed his hand from on high into President Obama’s (as can be seen in the clip below) — no cool, polite, perfunctory grip, this — and doubtless would have bear-hugged the leader of the free world if the opportunity had presented itself. (I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the broadly smiling Obama enjoyed his time with Rivlin just a tad more than his meetings with our prime minister.)
Rivlin: Obama 'concerned' about Abbas's future
President Reuven Rivlin told reporters on Wednesday that, during his meeting at the White House with U.S. President Barack Obama, the American president expressed concern over the future of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in light of the disconnect with Israel.
"The president expressed his concern and his uncompromising commitment to Israel," Rivlin was quoted by Haaretz as having said during a press briefing at the White House after the two leaders participated in a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony following their meeting.
Rivlin said Obama "expressed great concern" over the stalemate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"He sees the disconnect as unproductive, but he did not seem optimistic about the possibility of restarting dialogue with the Palestinians,” said Rivlin, who added he told Obama that he believes there is a need to renew the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.
"I told him that maybe it should be done in stages, and maybe we should discuss [the possibility of] an interim period."
Rivlin Lights White House Menorah Amid Reaffirmation of Strong US-Israel Ties
US President Barack Obama reaffirmed “the unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel while celebrating Hanukkah with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the White House on Wednesday.
The two presidents held a private meeting before attending a Hanukkah celebration that included lighting the White House menorah. At their meeting, Obama told Rivlin the US wanted to be helpful in reducing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, which have recently peaked in a spate of stabbings and other violent attacks lasting several months.
Obama said it was critical for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “unequivocally condemn” the attacks, fight incitement and pursue dialogue with Israel.
“Although obviously this is a time at which the prospects of serious peace may seem distant, it’s important that we continue to try,” Obama said in the Oval Office.
At Memorial for Victims of Genocide, Israeli Envoy Says UN Could Have Done More
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon criticized the institution for failing to heed the warning signs of potential genocides since the end of World War II and the Holocaust.
On Tuesday, during a debate at the first-ever International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of This Crime, Danon said “the United Nations failed to heed the warning signs of potential atrocities,” such as the Rwandan genocide of its Tutsi population and the Bosnian massacre in Srebrenica.
“We must be ever vigilant to prevent atrocities in the future. We must not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by political considerations,” said Danon.
Danon is also serving this month as chairman of the UN Western Countries Group, which includes Western European countries, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey. He recently replaced Ron Prosor as Israel’s permanent representative to the UN.
Letters to Editor - U.N. agency responds
In a Herald op-ed, Jeff Robbins said the U.N. Relief and Works Agency’s “embrace of anti-Semitism is an open secret” (“U.N. relief agency fosters hate,” Dec. 6). However, UNRWA takes seriously all alleged violations of U.N. principles, the agency’s neutrality and its social media policies. We condemn and will not tolerate anti-Semitism or racism in any form.
UNRWA is aware of the allegations raised by Robbins regarding social media. Every allegation brought to UNRWA’s attention has either been or is being assessed and, if the facts warrant it, investigated. In some cases, UNRWA determined that some alleged employees do not work for the agency or are no longer on the staff. Very regrettably, in a number of cases so far we have found staff Facebook postings to be in violation of our social media rules. These postings have been removed and the staff have been subject to both remedial and disciplinary action including suspension and loss of pay.
UNRWA has an established investigative, adjudicative and appellate process that is followed, much like that of the U.S. government for its employees. We continue to take these allegations seriously.
— Chris McGrath,
 Washington, D.C., liaison officer, U.N. Relief and Works Agency
(h/t Yenta Press)
Israel Drops Opposition to Renewal of U.S. Funding to UNESCO at Kerry's Behest
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acceded to the U.S. administration's request that Israel stop opposing a resumption of U.S. funding of UNESCO.
America stopped funding the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization four years ago, after it voted to admit Palestine as a member.
Senior Israeli and American officials said that Netanyahu's change in policy, made at the behest of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, will likely persuade Israel's friends in Congress to include renewed funding for UNESCO in the next foreign aid budget.
An old law enacted by Congress requires America to stop funding any UN agency that accepts the Palestinians as a full member state. Thus UNESCO's vote to admit Palestine in October 2011 automatically triggered a funding cut-off...
For several months now, senior administration officials have been trying to persuade their Israeli counterparts to stop opposing a resumption of funding, but the Foreign Ministry refused to compromise on the matter until recently.
Former ICC prosecutor: High Court approval could save settlements from war crime label
Where the Israeli High Court of Justice has approved specific settlements as legal, this could provide a complete defense to any allegations that they are war crimes, former International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Moreno-Ocampo is in Jerusalem lecturing at the The Fried-Gal Transitional Justice Initiative at the Hebrew University Law School.
Although Moreno-Ocampo has stepped down from his post, he was the boss of the current ICC chief prosecutor who will decide whether or not the settlements qualify as a war crime, is considered highly influential internationally and his statement could be a major coup in the debate over the issue.
Moreno-Ocampo did not by any means say that the settlements were legal under international law.
But he did say that “Israel’s High Court is highly respected internationally” and that anyone prosecuting Israelis regarding settlement activity would be incapable of proving criminal intent if those Israelis explained that they honestly believed their actions were legal once ratified by the country’s top court.
Medical Aid Group Rebuffed On ‘War Crimes’ Tribunal for Hospital Attack
Doctors Without Borders has failed to secure a single country to support its call for an independent investigation into the Oct. 3 U.S. attack on its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, according to Jason Cone, the group’s U.S. executive director.
The White House also gave the group a cold shoulder despite President Obama’s normally effusive support for non-governmental humanitarian groups.
Of 76 countries that are part of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission that could call for an investigation, “unfortunately none of them stepped forward publicly to endorse the investigation or pushing at least publicly for the U.S. Government to consent to it,” Cone told The Daily Caller News Foundation during a sparsely attended rally across from the White House.
Soldiers Contradict Pentagon Account Of Doctors Without Borders Strike
Two soldiers told a congressman the U.S. strike on an Afghanistan hospital in October was not an accident as the Pentagon claims, but an intentional strike on what the military thought had become a Taliban command center.
A powerful and precise gunship fired on the Doctors Without Borders hospital for more than 30 minutes, killing 31 civilians and destroying the building in what Doctors Without Borders is calling a war crime. The military characterized the strike as some kind of accident in reports that have changed over time.
The accounts Hunter heard from the two servicemen involved in the strike suggest Afghan troops on the ground lied to U.S. forces about the state of the hospital, Hunter tells Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in a letter Tuesday obtained by ABC News. (RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Ignored Geneva Rules Before U.S. Attack)
U.S. special forces soldiers called in the strike because Afghan forces reported the hospital was being used as a Taliban command center, the unidentified soldiers tell Hunter. U.S. forces didn’t realize it was still operating as a hospital.
Turkey accuses Russia of 'ethnic cleansing' in Syria
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused Russia on Wednesday of "ethnic cleansing" in Syria as well as strengthening Islamic State jihadists, in a new escalation of tensions between Ankara and Moscow after the downing of a Russian warplane.
"Russia is trying to make ethnic cleansing in the northern Latakia (region) to force (out) all Turkmen and Sunni populations who do not have good relations with the (Syrian) regime," Davutoglu told foreign reporters from his Istanbul offices.
He said Russia wanted to purge the northwestern Syrian region of unwanted elements to ensure the security of its air and naval bases in Syria.
"They want to expel, they want to ethnically cleanse this area so that regime and Russian bases in Latakia and Tartus are protected," he said. "They don't want to see any Sunni Arab or Turkmen population in that part of Syria. That is the purpose."
Michael Oren: The E.U.’s Targeting of Israel Awakens a Tragic Anti-Semitic Past
European shoppers will not see Tibetan products labeled “Made in Chinese-Occupied Tibet” or certain Cypriot goods marked “Made in Turkish-Occupied Cyprus.” Nor will they see tags on items imported from the more than 200 disputed territories worldwide. From this month on, only one country will be branded on European grocery shelves: Israel.
The decision of the European Union (E.U.) to mark all Israeli products from Judea and Samaria—the West Bank—and the Golan Heights represents a return to the darkest chapters in the continent’s history. The move hurts most the very people it is intended to help. And it will cost the E.U. the key diplomatic role long sought by its leaders.
By singling out the Jewish State, the E.U. evokes its 2,000-year history of anti-Semitism, which was often characterized by the labeling of Jewish goods. For Israelis, at least, European labels immediately recall the word Jude painted on Jewish stores by the Nazis. But Israelis also know that the marking of Israeli products from the West Bank means they will be boycotted—what market will even stock them?—and opens the door to the embargo of anything made-in-Israel.
For that reason, Israeli leaders from both the left and the right have denounced the E.U.’s resolution. “I vigorously oppose this harmful and unnecessary move,” Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Camp (formerly, the Labor Party) declared. “It serves only one purpose—the continuation of hate and conflict in the area. Labeling products is a violent act of extremists who want to worsen the situation even more.”
It is also damaging to those about whom Europeans supposedly care. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank are employed by Israeli-run firms. Such enterprises serve as vivid examples of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians and hold out a hopeful vision for the future. But the E.U.’s labeling campaign will force many of these businesses to close down and lay off their workers.
Professors band together to fight anti-Israel rhetoric and BDS
The Academic Engagement Network (AEN), a diverse network of college and university faculty and administrators on campuses across the United States addressing issues relating to Israel, announced its official launch on Wednesday.
Noting that campuses across the US are "roiled" by calls to endorse BDS as well as attempts to link Israel with a host of unrelated issues, AEN stressed a need to counter such anti-Israel rhetoric and activity.
According to Mark G. Yudof, president emeritus of the University of California System, who chairs the AEN board of advisors, attempts have been made to silence Israel Studies scholars as well as attack the objectivity of Jewish students on campus.
“In the face of activities aimed at vilifying Israel, AEN members aim to stir robust discussions relating to Israel on campus, promote and protect academic freedom and freedom of expression, stand for human rights for Arabs and Jews, and engage colleagues and students to better understand complex issues."
“College students as well as faculty and administrators are often uncertain how best to respond to BDS efforts,” said Ken Waltzer, AEN’s executive director. “Network members will have access to advice, materials, resources, and best practices elsewhere to assist them to respond constructively to BDS and related initiatives on campus.” (h/t Yenta Press)
Legal Insurrection obtains TRO preserving records of anti-Israel 3rd Grade event
If you’ve wondered why I’ve been relatively absent from the website the past few days, it’s because I had to deal with a completely unexpected problem regarding my Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) regarding Bassem Tamimi’s appearance before third graders at the Beverly J. Martin School (BJM).
In brief, and incredibly, the teachers union in the Ithaca school district appears to have instructed its members not to produce records responsive to my FOIL Request contained on personal electronic devices and email accounts. [See Update, as to whether there has been a change of position on this.]
So I went to court and obtained a Temporary Restraining Order preserving records pending a court determination on the merits.
Details and full copy of Court Order below.
You will recall that my report on the event exposed the anti-Israel nature of the presentation, as the ICSD Superintendent later acknowledged after his investigation.
The details are laid out in my post, Superintendent: Third Grade event “politically skewed, inflammatory” against Israel.
Tamimi is the Palestinian activist best known for using children, including his own. to confront Israeli soldiers in the hope the soldiers will react and create a viral video and photographic moment.
Daily Mail misleads on alleged ‘connection’ between #Israel and al-Qaeda
The Mail provides literally no evidence for any of these claims: that “all” Syrians treated by Israel are her “sworn enemies”; that Israel is “support[ing] … Sunni militants” to blunt Iran’s power in Syria; that “many” of the treated casualties “belong to Salafist groups who harbour a deep-seated hatred of the Jewish State”; and especially not for the incendiary accusation that Israel has any relations with Nusra. To the contrary, the actual evidence in The Mail article contradicts many of these wild statements.
For example, The Mail ups the rhetorical ante by saying that “some” of the people Israel treats “openly admit that they intend to kill Israelis.” This could be true, but that is not the evidence presented here. Instead, The Mail finds Syrians in Israeli hospitals who say things like, “Thanks to Israel for letting me in,” and, “The butcher Assad is my enemy. Israel is not my enemy.” One man even testified to changing a negative assessment of the Jewish State because of the treatment offered. The nearest The Mail gets to evidence of any kind for its statement is that while most medical staff are pleased to see this reaction, “Other medical staff … believe that the militants were lying” about being grateful to Israel, and one “Christian Israeli Arab social worker said that many hospital staff resented having to treat them.”
The accusation that “many” of the people Israel treats are “Sunni militants” or “Salafist[s]” is especially unbelievable because those forces are weak in the areas Israel provides treatment. Israel actually does have contacts with the rebellion, namely the sections that have been vetted by the Islamist-averse Central Intelligence Agency, if only for logistics reasons—as Israel does now with Russia for “deconfliction” purposes. The rebels run the area and to move in without coordination opens up all kinds of hazards. The rebels in this zone are part of al-Jabhat al-Janubiya (The Southern Front), an alliance of Free Syrian Army (FSA)-branded nationalist rebels that receive support from the Jordan-based, U.S.-supported Military Operations Centre (MOC).
BBC 4’s Storyville and the ‘Censored Voices’ that weren’t
In other words, BBC audiences are encouraged to believe that they are viewing previously “long-withheld” material subjected to dark Israeli government censorship not once, but twice. But is that actually the case?
As Martin Kramer has documented, Loushy has in fact publicly acknowledged that her own film “was not censored at all”. Regarding the claims of earlier censorship, Kramer’s research shows that the story is nowhere near as simple and straightforward as Loushy and the BBC make out.
Shortly after the June 1967 war, a book entitled Siaḥ Loḥamim (“Soldiers’ Talk”) appeared. It consisted of transcripts of tape-recorded discussions and interviews involving some 140 officers and soldiers, all kibbutz members. […]
The book struck a chord: Soldiers’ Talk was a phenomenal success, selling some 100,000 copies in Israel, and its kibbutznik editors and participants became minor celebrities, frequently appearing on the lecture circuit and in the media. Its fame also spread abroad: in the words of Elie Wiesel, this was “a very great book, very great,” thanks to “its integrity, its candor. No sleights of hand, no masks, no games. This is the truth, this is how it was.” Eventually the book was translated into a half-dozen languages, most notably in an abridged English version under the title The Seventh Day: Soldiers’ Talk About the Six-Day War. The dialogues even provided fodder for a play performed in New York.”

In other words, the written version of that piece of oral history was not “long withheld” at all. As Kramer reveals, the first edition of the book “was printed privately for circulation in kibbutzim. Clearly marked “internal, not for sale,” and issued between drab covers in October 1967, it didn’t trigger the need for approval by the censor.”
Berlin court convicts Danish imam for seeking murder of ‘Zionist Jews’
A German criminal court has fined Danish imam Sheikh Abu Bilal Ismail for incitement to hatred after convicting him of calling at a Berlin mosque for the extermination of Jews during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.
The Jerusalem Post obtained a copy of the 16-page court verdict on Tuesday.
It said that Ismail had been fined €1,300 for delivering a fiery anti-Western and anti-Jewish sermon in July 2014 in which he said it was necessary to “destroy the Zionist Jews...,” and to “count them and kill them to the very last one. Don’t spare a single one of them...
Make them suffer terribly.”
The verdict said that Ismail considered Jews as “criminals who kill prophets and children and Jews are worse than wild beasts in the world of the jungle,” and that “Allah should kill Jews.”
Putin initiates law against anti-Semitic Biblical commentary
At the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Duma (Russian Parliament) has legislated a law outlawing "distorted and/or extremist" commentary of Scriptures.
The purpose of the unusual law, it is widely understood, is the prevention of cynical advantage being taken of Biblical verses for anti-Semitic purposes.
Russian history has seen many instances in which anti-Semitic elements announced "shocking new revelations" from the Bible and Rabbinic writings to encourage violent anti-Semitism.
Putin, a former KGB agent, has long been known to oppose anti-Semitism, and violent attacks against Jews in his country have in fact been on the decline in recent years. He also conducts warm relations with Israel – even as he does the same with Iran.
Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia, said that the law is truly important in the fight against Russian anti-Semitism. He publicly thanked "my friend President Putin who bodily blocks all anti-Semitic phenomena" and the members of the Duma for "proving that Russia respects the beliefs of all its citizens."
Catholics should not try to convert Jews, Vatican says in landmark document
Catholics should not try to convert Jews and should work with them to fight anti-Semitism, the Vatican said on Thursday in a major new document that drew the Church further away from the strained relations of the past.
Christianity and Judaism are intertwined and God never annulled his covenant with the Jewish people, said the document from the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Jews.
"The Church is therefore obliged to view evangelization to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views," it said.
It also said Catholics should be particularly sensitive to the significance to Jews of the Shoah, the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, and pledged "to do all that is possible with our Jewish friends to repel anti-Semitic tendencies."
"A Christian can never be an anti-Semite, especially because of the Jewish roots of Christianity," it said.
Israeli fintech teams up with Australia’s biggest bank
Israeli financial technology is set to make its way Down Under, after the Economy Ministry’s Chief Scientist Avi Hasson signed an agreement with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to develop joint research and development projects.
The bank, said Hasson, is the biggest Australian company to strike a deal with Israel for technology.
The bank is the first Australian firm to join the Economy Ministry’s Multinational Corporations (MNC) program, which works with dozens of international tech and non-tech giants to develop new products and technologies in Israel for use around the world. Under the agreement with the bank, the Chief Scientist’s Office will scout for Israeli technologies meeting the bank’s needs and provide financial support for completing necessary R&D.
Tel Aviv to be home to one of two Australian high-tech hubs
Australia has decided to create two high-tech incubators abroad, one in Tel Aviv and the other in Silicon Valley in California. The country's $1.1 billion "Ideas Boom" project was announced this weekend by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The project is aimed at helping Australia become a leader in the field of new technologies, while the money allocated to the project will be distributed by the Australian government over the next four years.
"Landing Pads will be created in key global innovation hotspots including Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv to give Australian entrepreneurs and startups a short-term operational base," said Australia's Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb.
"This is a valuable new resource for Australian companies and will help foster the innovation and entrepreneurialism we need to create new jobs and build the industries of the future," Robb said.
Israeli Bodybuilder Wins Mr. Universe Competition
He was a slim and unconfident teenager who just wanted to build some muscle and improve his looks. Now he’s Mr. Universe. Danny Kaganovich, 23, recently became the first Israeli to win one of the bodybuilding world’s biggest titles.
“I started training at age 16 at home, watching YouTube videos and reading on the internet, because I wanted to get strong and to improve my looks and confidence,” Kaganovich smiles. “I was very thin: I weighed 60 kilos, which is half of what I weigh today. I saw that my muscles were responding well, so I signed up at a gym.”
After a year of intensive exercise, Kaganovich, who lived in Be’er Sheva, decided to compete in the Israeli Mr. South competition. It was his first competition, and he won.
UK envoy: Bilateral trade thriving despite talk of boycotts, product labeling
The perception of the boycott movement of Israel is overstated, and in terms of Israeli-British ties, “what we are seeing is the exact opposite of boycotts,” British Ambassador David Quarrey said on Wednesday.
Quarrey, speaking to a group of journalists, said that annual trade between the two countries has now reached the record level of nearly $7 billion.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics numbers, in 2014 the two countries conducted $6.3b. worth of trade, with almost $4b. of that being Israeli exports to the United Kingdom.
Britain, which has emerged as a center of Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment activity against Israel, was in 2014 the third largest market for Israeli exports in the world, following the US and Hong Kong.
“All the talk of boycotts is extremely frustrating at time when we perhaps have the greatest breadth and depth of the relationship than ever before,” the ambassador said.
UJA-Federation of New York Wall Street Dinner Raises Record-Breaking $27 Million
UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street Dinner raised a record-breaking $27 million for UJA-Federation’s annual campaign. The sold-out dinner, which drew a record turnout of more than 1,900 leaders from the Wall Street community, celebrated 40 years as one of New York City’s leading philanthropic events.
BlackRock President Robert S. Kapito, chair of UJA-Federation’s Wall Street & Financial Services Division, opened the event at Hilton New York on December 7, 2015. “The leaders in this room are those who step up, those who assume heavy responsibility to lighten the burden of people they’ve never met. They show us the possibilities of what happens when we come together for good.”
Wall Street Dinner Chairs Tom Shapiro, president and chief investment officer of GTIS Partners, and Leon Wagner, chairman and chief executive officer of LWPartners LLC, presented The Gustave L. Levy Award to Steven A. Tananbaum, managing partner and chief investment officer of GoldenTree, in recognition of his leadership and achievements in the Wall Street community and his enduring commitment to UJA-Federation.
Hanukkah Dig, Israeli High School Students Thrilled to Find Hasmonean-Era Coins
A team of students from Israel’s Handasaim Herzliya High School found three coins from the historic Hanukkah-era Hasmonean dynasty while on an archaeological dig. The coins were minted during the rule of King Alexander Jannaeus in the 1st century BCE.
“The students’ excitement was contagious,” said archaeologist Dr. Eitan Klein of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which organized the excavation of the ruins at Adulam Park. “It’s very nice to see their enthusiasm as they connect with the past and with the fascinating world of archeology for the first time.”
Almog Simoni, one of the students who found the coins, told Israel Hayom, “They told us we found something important. We were in shock — complete shock. Everyone was really happy, and the archeologists were surprised as well.”
Student Amit Omer, who also helped find the coins, added that “there was an image of the sun on one of them. They told us that these coins were made about 100 BCE and that they were used for about 200 years, after Alexander Jannaeus’s rule, which makes them very important.”
Byzantine-era potsherd from Temple Mount may contain engraving of holy site’s menorah
The relic was recently discovered at the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem, which sifts through the thousands of tons of ancient debris illegally discarded from the contested holy site by the Islamic Wakf in 1999.
Although archaeologist Zachi Dvira, co-founder and director of the project, could not see the entire design of the broken sherd, he said that it likely represented an attempt to draw the Temple’s menorah.
“Based on its clay type and texture, the potsherd dates to the period of Byzantine rule over Jerusalem, from 324 to 640 CE,” said Dvira.
“What makes this discovery significant is that it originated upon the Temple Mount itself. The design of the menorah inscribed on the potsherd may shed light on an age-old debate regarding the appearance of the menorah that stood in the Heikal (hall) of the First and Second Temples.”
Israeli, US Jewry bring Hanukka cheer to Paris Synagogue ceremony
A grand ceremony took place Wednesday night at the Paris Great Synagogue on Rue de la Victoire.
The beautiful old building, with its tainted glass windows, presented a spectacular background for some of Israel’s top musicians in the special “Let there be Light” Hanukka show.
Colorful lighting and an orchestra turned the synagogue almost into a scene out of fairytale.
Thousands of Parisians joined Jews from around the world on the fourth night of Hanukka, in tribute to the January Paris attacks at Hyper Cacher and Charlie Hebdo.
The evening opened with family members of the victims killed at the Hyper Cacher attack last January lighting the Hanukka candles.
The kadish prayer was also recited, followed by greetings delivered by Israeli ambassador to Paris Aliza Bin-Noun. The second part of the evening was dedicated to the joys of Jewish and Israeli musical hits, with the crowd cheering and singing along.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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