Thursday, December 31, 2015

From Ian:


This Is What Happens When BDS Infiltrates Social Causes That Have Nothing to Do With Israel
If intersectionality, as applied to Israel, sounds like a contrived excuse to blame the Jewish state for everything under the sun, that’s because it is. Anti-Israel circles understand that their cause isn’t even on the radar of the average college student. By hitching their wagon to issues with greater popular appeal, pro-Palestinian activists seek to expand their tent and build a coalition larger than the handful of students fanatic enough to spend their college years slandering Israel.
Ironically, this disturbing phenomenon is hardest not on conservative-leaning Jewish students, but on left-wing Jewish activists who don’t support BDS. Social justice work is increasingly seen as a “package,” and one cannot be for racial justice, gender equality or humanitarianism without also swearing allegiance to the cult of Israel-despisers.
Left-wing Jews hew to the same social vision as the progressive community – but Israel and BDS are thorns for those who still believe in Zionism. An anecdote is instructive. At Brown, where this author is a freshman, student groups organized several events around the Syrian refugee crisis. One of the events was to take place at Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream store, but had to be moved to a new venue after a member of Students for Justice in Palestine circulated a report accusing the ice-cream company of doing business in Israeli settlements. Jewish activists found it particularly uncomfortable being invested in this sundry activist cause while at the same time weathering the rising tide of anti-Israelism.
This discomfort is particularly dangerous because left-leaning young Jews are a weak link in the American-Jewish community’s relationship with Israel. As any exit poll can tell you, American-Jews do not, on the whole, vote based on Israel. American Jews vote for candidates who share their liberal social values. Thus, liberalism trumps pro-Israelism for most secular Jews. What will be when liberal Jewish students are forced to choose between their allegiance to Israel and their commitment to social justice? What will happen when not supporting BDS is seen as a fatal tribal weakness? The answer should frighten anybody concerned with the future of the Diaspora’s relationship with Israel.
The stench of imperialism
If anyone is still unsure that Europeans have difficulty coming to terms with the fact that Israel, as a sovereign nation, will not let the European Union meddle in its internal affairs, the debacle ‎over the NGO bill should remove all doubts.‎
Army Radio reported on Sunday that the EU furiously protested the ‎proposed legislation. According to the report, based on what Army Radio said was a leaked ‎internal EU document, EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen met with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked several weeks ‎ago. He called upon Israel to refrain from taking actions that will "make more complicated" the ‎space in which Israeli nongovernmental organizations operate, claiming that this would impinge on freedom of expression ‎and association. According to the report, the ambassador said that while the request for ‎transparency was legitimate, the draft law is aimed at organizations critical of the government. ‎‎
"This will have a negative impact on Israel's image and on Europe's relating to it as an open and ‎democratic society," he was quoted as saying. Faaborg-Andersen also reportedly said that placing ‎restraints on civil society is something "we see mostly in tyrannical regimes. We call on Israel to ‎remain in the family of democratic states and not to join this worrying trend."
Naturally, the EU is very unhappy with having its meddling in the internal affairs of Israel limited ‎in any way, especially since it has been able to do so with impunity up until now. However, to ‎claim that Israel would be breaching any human rights, such as freedom of expression or ‎association, by implementing the NGO bill is taking the hyperbole beyond all red lines.
UN Watch: The Top 10 Biggest UN Watch Moments in 2015
10. Head of Gaza Inquiry forced to resign
On the same day that the UN appointed William Schabas to head its Gaza probe, UN Watch released videos of his anti-Israel statements—and led a 6-month campaign demanding his removal. “I have opinions like everybody else about the situation in Israel,” Schabas insisted to the media, only “they may not be the same as Hillel Neuer’s or Benjamin Netanyahu’s, that’s all.” Yet by February 2015——after his paid legal work for the PLO was exposed—Schabas resigned in disgrace.
3. Under pressure, UNRWA suspends employees for incitement.
In an unprecedented acknowledgment of wrongdoing, UNRWA was recently forced to suspend several employees, after UN Watch published three reports documenting how UNRWA teachers regularly incite to racial hatred, anti-Semitism and terrorism on social media. UN Watch identified more than 30 perpetrators, and organized petitions to pressure key governments.
2. Top commanders refute UN Gaza Inquiry
When the UN inquiry into the 2014 Gaza war presented its biased report in June, UN Watch was there to respond with a counter-report, and gave a UN platform to top military experts. Major General Mike Jones and Lt. Col. Geoffrey Corn from the U.S. military, and British Colonel Richard Kemp, all took the floor in the UN debate. The distorted findings of the UN probe—falsely accusing Israel of war crimes—were contrasted with those of the experienced military officers, who explained how Israel acted in self-defense, and to minimize casualties.



Does the UN do any good?
The UN’s strenuous production of commemorative propaganda this year, to mark the 70th anniversary of its founding proceedings in San Francisco, have not helped matters. There were roving photo exhibitions, high-minded addresses to conferences and performances of the United Nations Symphony Orchestra (there really is such a thing), and the Egyptian pyramids, the Empire State Building in New York, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lampur were all lit up in blue light. Lovely.
But none of it, not the performances of Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang, not the Sept. 21 celebrations of the International Day of Peace, nor the grand United Nations Day concerts on Oct. 24, could conceal that the UN is looking more and more like its predecessor, the League of Nations, in its twilight years. The League was sustained by delusions right up until 1939, putting the cause of global peace and security into hiatus until the Axis Powers were finally crushed in 1945.
To imagine that the happy Canadian enthusiasm for the UN is universal is to ignore not only the grievances of Israel, which is routinely and ritually traduced by the UN’s absurdly named Human Rights Council, which is itself is little more than an arrangement of cushions for the big backsides of some of the world’s most notorious torturers. It is also to ignore the UN’s squandering of its credibility, noticed most loudly and acutely among the world’s 350-million Arabs, more than a billion South Asians and another billion Africans.
What is the "Mandate for Palestine"? And what was "Palestine"?
The “Mandate for Palestine,” an historical League of Nations document, laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, a 10,000-square-mile area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law and valid to this day.
The legally binding document was conferred on April 24, 1920, at the San Remo Conference, and its terms outlined in the Treaty of Sèvres on August 10, 1920. The Mandate’s terms were finalized and unanimously approved on July 24, 1922, by the Council of the League of Nations, which was comprised at that time of 51 countries.
The Mandate weathered the test of time: On April 18, 1946, when the League of Nations was dissolved and its assets and duties transferred to the United Nations, the international community, in essence, reaffirmed the validity of this international accord and reconfirmed that the terms for a Jewish national home were the will of the international community, a “sacred trust.”
Some may confuse the “Mandate for Palestine” [The Trust], with the British Mandate [The Trustee]. The “Mandate for Palestine” laid down the Jewish legal rights in Palestine. The British Mandate, on the other hand, was entrusted by the League of Nations with the responsibility to administer the area delineated by the “Mandate for Palestine.”
The name "Palestine" was the name given by the Romans to the area when they conquered Judea and tried to erase the memory of Jewish independence; it is a geographic name, not a national one, and during the Ottoman Empire period and the ensuing British Mandate, those living in it were Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs.
Douglas Murray: Will politicians finally admit that the Paris attacks had something to do with Islam?
Written after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January and revised after the Paris attacks in November, Douglas Murray’s piece on politicians’ responses to Islamic terror attacks was The Spectator‘s third most read article of 2015:
The West’s movement towards the truth is remarkably slow. We drag ourselves towards it painfully, inch by inch, after each bloody Islamist assault.
In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’. It was said by George W. Bush after 9/11, Tony Blair after 7/7 and Tony Abbott after the Sydney attack last month. It is what David Cameron said after two British extremists cut off the head of Drummer Lee Rigby in London, when ‘Jihadi John’ cut off the head of aid worker Alan Henning in the ‘Islamic State’ and when Islamic extremists attacked a Kenyan mall, separated the Muslims from the Christians and shot the latter in the head. It was what President François Hollande said after the massacre of journalists and Jews in Paris in January. And it is all that most politicians will be able to come out with again after the latest atrocities in Paris.
IDF Reservists Call Comrade From Breaking the Silence ‘a Liar’
A group of Israel Defense Forces reservists who served in the army with Avner Gvaryahu, a leading member of whistle-blowing group Breaking the Silence, released a video in which they “tell the truth” about what really went on in their unit, the Israeli news website 0404 reported on Wednesday, and posted the clip on its Facebook page.
“I was there every night during the period he [Gvaryahu] talks about,” says one former member of Gvaryahu’s staff, at the opening of the video. Nothing happened “the way he describes,” he said.
Another former soldier bemoans the harm done to Israel when Gvaryahu goes around the world recounting stories about the IDF, without giving the full picture of what the soldiers are up against, and how they often “endanger their lives” precisely in the sincere effort to prevent harming innocent people.
A third says that even the argument about how “moral” the Israeli army is — or is not — should take place at home, not abroad.
A fourth says that Gvaryahu’s stories are false, and this causes him to question the rest of the “evidence” provided by Breaking the Silence.
Disrupt 'Breaking the Silence' - get a pizza pie!
Following yesterday’s arrival of “Breaking The Silence” at Tel Hai College, located near the city of Kiryat Shmonah, one enterprising pizzeria owner from the town promised a free pizza to anyone who interfered with the extremist left wing organization.
Eran Bitton posted on the internet that he would give a free pizza to any student who photographs or films himself interrupting or interfering with Breaking the Silence's lecture at the college. “Call me and the pizza is on the way," wrote Bitton.
In an interview with Channel 20, Bitton said “the college did not notify anyone that the organization was coming to give a lecture. They did it quietly, and underhandedly. That is what really upset us. I was furious, so I said that anyone who goes and interferes will get a free pizza.”
Bitton reported that there was a lot of interests generated and that a demonstration involving 300-400 people was held outside the college to protest the lecture.
People called Bitton to tell him that they were going to protest, but that they didn’t want the pizza. They were going to protest for the betterment of the country and to remove these people from their town and college.
 Israeli Government Approves Huge Budget to Improve Condition of Arab Sector
The Israeli government approved a NIS 15 billion budget on Wednesday to reduce the socioeconomic gap between the country’s Jewish and Arab sectors, Israeli news site Walla reported.
The money will fund a five-year plan aimed at improving the Israeli Arab community’s access to welfare and police services, as well as improving transportation and infrastructure in Israel’s Arab towns and cities.
The program, proposed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, along with Budget Department Director Amir Levi and Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, was approved after three cabinet hearings, one on Sunday and the other two on Wednesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the budget “a significant increase” in the state’s allocations for assisting the Arab minority.
Sadat in Jerusalem: Behind the Scenes
On November 9, 1977 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat surprised the Egyptian People’s Assembly and all those in attendance (including, as it happened, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat) by setting aside his prepared text and declaring that he was “ready to travel to the ends of the earth” to protect Egyptian lives and that “Israel will be surprised to hear me say that I am willing to go to their parliament, the Knesset itself.” Ten days later, on November 19, Sadat landed in Israel for his historic two-day visit.
Sixteen months before Sadat’s visit, I had returned to active duty with the IDF after many years immersed in the study and teaching of Arabic literature at The Hebrew University. At the request of then-Minister of Defense Shimon Peres I became the head of the Department of Arab Affairs for the military government of Judea and Samaria.
At that time, Palestinian public life was dominated by the October 1974 resolution of the Arab Summit in Rabat, according to which the PLO was the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people everywhere. We at the Department of Arab Affairs in Judea and Samaria were keenly aware of the momentous implications of this decision, but the significance was less clear to Israel’s decision makers at the time. Perhaps their failure was the innate tendency of self-proclaimed pragmatists to underestimate the importance of programmatic, ideological declarations. Or maybe it stemmed from the simple fact that so many Arab summit resolutions were never implemented.
Paris attacks ‘coordinated from Belgium’ by unknown terror leader
The Paris attacks may have been coordinated by phone from Belgium by at least one terrorist leader whose identity remains a mystery, it emerged on Wednesday from the ongoing investigation.
The French newspaper Le Monde has been given access to some 6,000 reports and documents compiled by investigators, showing that the terrorists in Paris were being commanded and controlled by mobile phone from the Brussels area “in real time” while the attacks were being carried out.
Two of the teams were in contact with two different Belgian mobile phone numbers during the evening of the attacks. Both phones were at the same location in the Brussels area that evening, phone records show.
Meanwhile, the third team, which targeted the national stadium in the suburb of Saint-Denis, maintained phone contact with at least one of the other two terror squads, who gunned down people at cafes, bars and at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris.
Investigators have concluded that “at least one man was overseeing the operations” from Brussels, Le Monde reported. “This suspect has not yet been identified.”
Charlie Hebdo to run special issue on anniversary of attack
French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday said it would release nearly a million copies of a special issue to mark a year since jihadists killed a dozen people in its Paris offices.
The 32-page double issue — featuring a selection of drawings by the cartoonists who died in the attack, as well as by current staff and messages of support — will be released on January 6.
The provocative weekly became a household name when two Islamist brothers gunned down 12 people at its offices over its cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed.
A survivors’ edition released a week after the January 7, 2014, attacks sold a record 7.5 million copies and boosted the magazine’s circulation.
Charlie Hebdo said it had already received large orders for the new special issue from overseas, including 50,000 from Germany.
Cancellations, Restrictions, Tightened Security Worldwide for New Year's Eve
Terrorist threats hang especially heavy over major cities as 2015 draws to a close.
Memories of the atrocity in Paris are fresh, along with fears of what a comparably armed and motivated terrorist squad could do to a huge throng of revelers at the New Year’s Eve celebration in a major city. Intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Europe are reportedly nervous about a terrorist threat of some kind.
Following is a list of major New Year’s Eve cancellations and restrictions:
Brussels: Belgian authorities decided to cancel the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display in Brussels, following a string of counterterrorist raids across the country. These raids resulted in the arrest of two men from a biker gang “inspired” by ISIS who were planning a New Year’s attack, but they evidently did not represent the full extent of the threat.
Paris: The city of Paris also decided to ban fireworks, replacing them with a mere 10-minute light show projected onto the Arc de Triomphe. Citizens are reportedly choosing to stay home on New Year’s Eve in unprecedented numbers. Parisian hoteliers and restaurant owners reported a stunning 50 percent drop in bookings for the holiday night. A hotel manager is quoted by The Local saying it’s the first time in 15 years his establishment will not be fully booked for New Year’s Eve, while a caterer reported a “catastrophic” number of cancellations.
Russia Pushes Back Against Designating Hezbollah, Hamas Terrorist Organizations
While Washington and Moscow agree that ISIS, al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra constitute the main terrorist threats in Syria, Russia has pushed back against a similar designation for Lebanese Hezbollah and the Gaza-ruling Hamas, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Tuesday.
“We are not even discussing Hezbollah and Hamas with the Americans,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.
“Our opinions coincide as regards the main terrorist organizations. These are ISIS, al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra. These are the main ones, and there is a definite consent about them,” said Gatilov, and according to the report, Russian officials repeatedly deny that Hezbollah and Hamas will be added to that mix.
The comments come as Russia continued its military campaign in Syria, battling terrorist groups while simultaneously helping preserve the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, one of Russia’s closest Mideast allies.
US said to prepare new Iran sanctions for missile test
The Obama administration is preparing new sanctions against companies and individuals for Iran’s ballistic missile program, Reuters cited unnamed sources saying Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the US Treasury Department was preparing sanctions against several individuals and companies in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates related to Iran’s ballistic missile program. Treasury and the White House declined to comment on the Journal report, which was attributed to anonymous US officials.
The US on Wednesday accused Iran of launching a “highly provocative” rocket test last week near its warships and commercial traffic passing through the Strait of Hormuz, exposing how tensions between the two countries could escalate even after a landmark nuclear deal.
The strategic Persian Gulf waterway, which sees nearly a third of all oil traded by sea pass through it, has been the scene of past confrontations between America and Iran, including a one-day naval battle in 1988.
Iran blasts reported new US sanctions on missile program as illegal
Iran condemned on Thursday as arbitrary and illegal reported US plans for new sanctions on international companies and individuals over Tehran's ballistic missile program.
"As we have declared to the American government ... Iran's missile program has no connection to the (nuclear) agreement," state television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari as saying.
In Washington, sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday the US government was preparing the sanctions, which the Wall Street Journal said would target about 12 companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their suspected role in developing Iran's missile program.
"Iran will resolutely respond to any interfering action by America against its defensive programs," said Jaber Ansari, rejecting any new sanctions as "arbitrary and illegal".
Being Jewish and Pro-Israel in College: 2010 vs. 2015
I graduated from college just about a year and a half ago, and although much has stayed the same, it’s getting more difficult for Jewish students.
When I entered college in 2010, my professors were accommodating when I needed to miss class for the high holidays. Yet there always seemed to be a bonding event on Yom Kippur, and I had to miss tennis practices if I wanted to be on the Hillel board and attend Shabbat services and dinner. These little things made me feel different from the other students, but by far the greatest source of difficulty as a Jewish student on campus was the way I related to Israel.
I remember receiving a terribly inaccurate email, passed through my school’s list serve, calling Israel an apartheid state that commits war crimes. I remember getting an eviction notice put on my door, “mocking the eviction notices sent to Palestinians by the IDF.” I remember someone coming up to me in the dining hall asking me how “you [Jews] could do all of those terrible things to the Palestinians.” I remember being ostracized in a class and receiving a grade less than I deserved because the paper had pro-Israel content. I remember sitting in a meeting hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine, the group leader asking all the other students to disregard my opinion and that of my friend because we were from the pro-Israel group. I remember when I found swastikas drawn in the bathroom stalls on multiple occasions.
It was difficult being on a campus that was dogmatically critical of Israel, with an undercurrent of anti-Semitism. I have surmised that nearly all Jews around the world face the same problems that I faced in college. And on my campus, the Claremont Colleges, it is only getting worse.
BDS’s Economic Impact Isn’t The Point
The argument that an anti-Israel boycott is doomed to failure because Israel provides goods integral to the global economy is a good one.
However, this does not address BDS’s divestment and sanctions components. Sanctions would be economically damaging to Israel and the sanctioning nation alike, but are very unlikely at least in the United States, and even in Europe.
Divestment is more plausible and potentially quite destructive. Many Israeli companies are publicly listed and enjoy a variety of partnerships with international companies, universities and other institutions. Many international companies have facilities in Israel, or partnerships, joint ventures or other on-going relationships with Israeli companies. If, for instance, public retirement systems or mutual fund companies in the United States that have assets in the trillions of dollars divested from all Israeli companies, companies doing business in Israel and companies with cooperative agreements with Israeli companies, the economic impact is potentially enormous.
HonestReporting’s Top Content of 2015
We had a busy year, with media critiques, news roundups, videos, graphics, social media posts, highlighting our growing community. As 2015 draws to a close, here’s a lookback at what HR readers were buzzing about.
1. Most-Read Media Critique: This January meltdown led to Jim Clancy’s firing from CNN. Readers were outraged. In terms of our most-read posts, this won by a landslide.
2. Most Popular Shareable Image: Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh explains the real agenda behind the BDS movement. This graphic struck a chord with readers. And if you haven’t shared it yet, it’s not too late . . .
Top Ten MidEast Media Mangles for 2015
Top Ten MidEast Media Mangles for 2015
1. Wave of Palestinian Violence Accompanied by Spate of Bad Journalism
Some correspondents and headline writers are doing a fine job reporting the terror attacks in Israel, but all too many others are failing at this task, relying on the passive voice, euphemism, and imprecision to obscure Palestinian terror attacks and even recast terrorists as victims of arbitrary Israeli violence. In a particularly noxious example, The New York Times incorrectly and absurdly described a butterfly knife wielded by a Palestinian attacker – a type of knife known to be used by street gangs and illegal in a number of countries and U.S. states – as a "Boy Scout"‑type knife. This was the third New York Times article mentioning the incident. In all three pieces, the brandishing of a knife was described merely as an Israeli allegation. In the latter two articles, Palestinian allegations that the knife was planted were given equal weight to Israel's description of the man holding a knife, despite the fact that he is shown on video wielding the knife. The Times issued a peculiarly worded and weak “correction.”
UK Media Watch’s most popular posts in 2015
Here’s a look back at our most popular posts in 2015.
UK Media Watch would like to wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year!
1. Telegraph and Daily Mail retreat in face of Pallywood story about child ‘activist’
2. Is Guardian cartoon on Charlie Hebdo blaming the victims?
3. Yes, George Galloway is Antisemitic
4. Daily Express bizarrely puts Israel atop list of worst places to be Christian this Christmas
5. Sky News commemorates Auschwitz by suggesting that Jews fuel antisemitism.
Daily Telegraph: Jerusalem’s Old City ‘Under Threat’
Israel’s doing a very fine job of caring for its UNESCO Heritage Sites, thank you very much.
There’s no reason for a Daily Telegraph slide show to include Jerusalem’s Old City in a slide show of heritage sites under threat.
The Telegraph will likely defend itself by saying the under threat label follows UNESCO’s lead: the Old City is on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.
Whatever urban development issues supposedly threaten Jerusalem’s Old City don’t remotely compare with Islamic State’s looting and destruction of Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan, sites and antiquities. Or Saudi airstrikes damaging the Old City of Sa’na (Yemen). Or the Lord’s Resistance Army poaching elephants on a wide scale in Garamba National Park (Congo).
When will NY Times Break the Silence about its implicit anti-Israel bias?
The Times also doesn’t cover military groups that praise Israel. Earlier this month a group of generals from around the world found that Israel’s conduct of Operation Protective Edge last year was “exemplary.” Ben Cohen reported for The Tower:
The High Level Military Group (HLMG), which authored the report, was established earlier this year with a remit to examine “the implications for warfare where democratic nations are engaged in fighting enemies who disregard the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) but exploit our own nations’ adherence to LOAC for their gain.”
Rafael Bardaji, a spokesman for the group, emphasized that “In the absence of the appropriate military and legal expertise, the cumulative failure of international institutions and organisations to come to a more accurate assessment of events during the 2014 Gaza Conflict, their attempt to impose unwarranted legal norms, and their failure to make important moral distinctions between the adversaries is a problem not just for Israel.”

In other words a group of military professionals from U.S., Europe, South America, and Asia reviewed Israel’s conduct and found it above reproach, unlike the way the war was reported in the Times.
The New York Times reported on an advocacy group, Breaking the Silence, but failed to investigate its funding, and would not normally report on a similar advocacy group in America. And it also failed to report on a group that offered different conclusions than Breaking the Silence.
So why did it report on Breaking the Silence? Because it makes Israel look bad. I can’t think of any other reason.
Lab-made chicken, impossible technologies and bouncy chairs for school
It’s been a phenomenal year for ISRAEL21c. We’ve broken every record for Internet hits since we were founded in December 2001, and have seen our social-media traffic rise by 60 percent in the last year alone.
In July, we launched our newly designed website, and in November launched two unique and exciting new projects – ISRAEL21c Español, our new Spanish language site, and EDUCATORS21c, a monthly e-newsletter designed for educators who want to make today’s Israel vibrant and alive for their students.
A cursory glance at some of the main headlines on Israel in the mainstream press this year would make for chilling reading, but at ISRAEL21c we focus on the technological advances, the cultural developments and the incredible humanitarian projects emerging from Israel that are making life better for millions of people around the world.
This is the Israel that the world rarely sees, and it’s our mission to bring these stories into focus. Thanks to your help, that’s exactly what we are doing.
2015 was red-hot year for Israeli high-tech scene
Israeli high-tech startups were red hot in 2015, and are entering 2016 as exciting commodities for investors worldwide, according to numerous end-of-year market reports.
Forbes, the World Economic Forum and the Heritage Foundation all rank Israel among the 30 best economies in the world in which to do business.
“2015 was a strong year for exits and investments in Israeli startups,” according to the Ethosia Human Resources report.
The “Israel 2015 High-Tech Exit Report” published by PwC showed that the total deal value from acquisitions increased by 44 percent.
In 2015, Israeli high-tech mergers and acquisitions (M&As) rose to $7.2 billion from $5 billion in 2014, according to PwC.
Best New Restaurant in US is Israeli
Many people come to New York City with big dreams. Many of them return home disappointed, others work for years before seeing results, and very few make it within a year.
Meet the exception: Chef Nir Mesika from the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Motzkin, who has made it big time. Eight months ago, Mesika opened a restaurant called Timna in the East Village. Last week, it was chosen as the Best New Restaurant in the United States by the readers of USA Today and 10Best.
The 10Best Readers' Choice Awards is one of the most popular year's end summaries in the American mainstream media.
"When we heard we were selected, I actually had trouble breathing for a few seconds," Mesika said Monday, his only free day during the week. "It's an insane feeling, completely delusional.
"Now that I have calmed down a bit, I can honestly say that it's not that surprising. Not after all the hard work we put into this place. We invested our entire souls in here. But for someone to say that I, Nir Mesika of Kiryat Motzkin, am the chef of the best new restaurant in the US? That's unbelievable."
Israel To Open First College For Students With Autism And Learning Disabilities
The first Israeli college designed to accommodate students on the autism spectrum and with learning disabilities is set to open in March 2016.
The college, to be called BE Academic College, which will be run jointly by Beit Ekstein, an organization devoted to helping people with learning and developmental disabilities, and the Open University, a distance-learning school with multiple branches across Israel. BE Academic College will be based at Beit Ekstein’s campus in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim. The school will offer three programs designed to give its students a boost to enter the workforce: psychology and education, psychology and communications, and economics and computer science.
“Out of close familiarity with the world of graduates with learning disabilities comes the establishment of the BE Academic College, whose goal it will be to make academic learning possible by building a supportive and adapted curriculum,” Beit Ekstein said in a statement.
In order to serve its target population, the college will not have entrance requirements, and will offer specialized career guidance for the students. Upon completing the four-year program, students will receive a degree from the Open University, an institution accredited by the Israel Council for Higher Education.
Iraq’s Last Jews Need Our Help
The violent persecution and near genocide of Iraq’s Yazidis and Christians have made headlines around the world. Less well-known is the story of Iraqi Jews, who face near eradication. As millions flee Islamic militants in Iraq, one man has emerged to help rebuild the Jewish remnant.
When I met with Sherzad Omar Mamsani, the Jewish representative to the Kurdish government, in December 2015, he proudly wore his kippah in public — an act of bravery and defiance against those who would see him and his people wiped out in Iraq. He told me that, contrary to reports of only a half dozen, there are as many as 430 Jewish families left in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
Although most of these Jews have kept a low profile in public, they experienced a renewed sense of hope with Sherzad’s appointment by the Kurdish government. Sherzad is working in the relative safety of the Kurdish zone to rebuild Iraq’s remaining synagogues and Jewish holy sites, and is helping rewrite the Jewish portion of Kurdish school lessons on Iraq’s religious history.
That history matters because Iraqi history is Jewish history, too.
Roman Aqueduct Excavated in Arava Region
An aqueduct which transported water into agricultural land was excavated at the “Biblical Tamar” site near Ein Hatzeva, a cooperative village in the central Arava valley. According to legend Tamar, which is mentioned as part of the southern border of the Promised Land, was built by King Solomon.
The ancient aqueduct is more than 1,000 years old, and it is possible that it was built as far back as the Roman period (63 BCE to 324 CE). It was discovered during archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the Biblical Tamar site in the Arava in recent weeks. The aqueduct was initially uncovered during works by the Arava Drainage Authority to regulate the flow of the Hatzeva spring.
The aqueduct is located in one of the largest archaeological sites in the south, which spans across ten acres. According to legend, “Biblical Tamar” was built in the wilderness by King Solomon, near today’s Ein Hatzeva. It is mentioned in biblical descriptions of the southern border of the Promised Land.
Hatzeva, or Biblical Tamar, developed around an abundant spring called Hatzeva Spring (Ein Husob). The spring is located at the intersection of roads going west toward Ma’aleh Akrabim and the Negev Mountain, east to the copper mines of Edom, north towards the Dead Sea and south to Yotvata and the Red Sea. During the First Temple a major citadel was built here alongside a settlement, and later another fort accompanied by an Edomite temple next to it, whose ritual vessels were discovered on the site.
A reason to celebrate
When Israel was ranked 18th out of 188 countries and territories in the world on the United Nations Human Development Index a few weeks ago, it didn't make nearly big enough of a splash. Since 2013, Israel has climbed from number 19 on its way to the coveted top 10 First World democracies (the very high human development group).
According to the 2015 Human Development Report, titled "Work for Human Development," the Human Development Index is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
How ironic that the U.N. is the author of this report. Being one of Israel's worst detractors, it still must acknowledge and publicize the facts indicating Israel's great success.
We are currently facing difficult times here in Israel. Certain events at times spark disunity and contention, eroding what should be a united front against those that wish us only harm. Jews everywhere -- among them many Israelis -- love to criticize Israel and point out every possible flaw. Well, here is a suggestion: If the urge to look for the negative grips you, stop and take a deep breath. Remember how far Israel has come -- how the story of Israel's rise to the top of the world once sounded like an impossible madman's dream to every Jew on the planet, never sounding more far-fetched than when the Nazi extermination camps were liberated a little over half a century ago.
Royal Mail to issue stamp honoring ‘British Schindler’
Britain’s Royal Mail announced it will issue a commemorative stamp featuring Sir Nicholas Winton, known as the “British Schindler,” in March.
It will be part of a set of six stamps honoring British humanitarians, the Jewish News website reported.
Winton, who helped rescue 669 children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, died July 1 at 106. An online petition calling for the stamp set up later that month by the Jewish News garnered nearly 106,000 signatures.
Hundreds of recommendations for new stamps are received each year, with the process usually taking around two years, according to the Jewish News, which said it was expedited in Winton’s case due to the intense public interest. The Royal Mail commissions 12 new stamps each year. Final approval for the stamp must be given by the queen.
The baptized son of Jewish parents, Winton was a 29-year-old stockbroker when he arrived in Prague in December 1938. He was planning to go on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, but changed his plans when he heard about the refugee crisis in Czechoslovakia, which had just been occupied by the Nazis. In the following nine months, he organized eight trains that carried children, the vast majority of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia to safety in Britain.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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