Saturday, January 02, 2016



The West Should Stop Apologizing for the Middle East
Review: Efraim Karsh, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East’
If there is one proposition on which there is a consensus among Middle East experts—from academia to the media, and to politicians who echo them both—it is that the “root cause” of present problems in the region are the Western imperialists who imposed their will on its hapless indigenous peoples. According to this narrative, Western powers had been nibbling at the margins of the Ottoman Empire and seized on the opportunity offered by its siding with Germany in World War I. Secret agreements between imperialist powers determined new political boundaries without regard to the needs or interests of those who lived in the region, or to any promises made in the past.
As he did in his 1999 Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in Middle East (written with his wife Inari), Efraim Karsh, professor emeritus of Middle East Studies at Kings College, London and currently professor at Bar Ilan University, again turns the conventional wisdom on its head. He writes that Britain, France, and Russia begged the Ottoman Empire to stay out of World War I, promising to ensure the Empire’s survival if it did. Moreover, Karsh insists “the depiction of Muslims as hapless victims of the aggressive encroachments of others, too dim to be accountable for their own fate, is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth.”
The Western powers did play an important role, but the process “was nothing like the caricature portrayed by the standard historiography,” where Europeans and Americans sat at a table creating states. Rather, as the book’s title indicates, the tail often wagged the dog, with the resultant map and rulers, “the aggregate outcome of intense pushing and shoving … in which the local actors, despite their marked inferiority to the great powers, often had the upper hand.”
Tel Aviv shooting suspect identified as Nashat Milhem
Police on Saturday identified the suspected gunman in Friday’s shooting attack in Tel Aviv as Nashat Milhem, a 29-year-old resident of Arara, a village in Wadi Ara in northern Israel.
Security forces have known the identity of the suspect since Friday, but a gag order had prevented him from being named until Saturday evening.
Milhem, an Israeli Arab who was jailed for five years for a 2007 attack on a soldier, is suspected of shooting and killing two people and wounding seven more in Friday’s attack in central Tel Aviv. He was still on the loose on Saturday evening.
Haaretz reported an internal conflict within the security establishment over the decision to release Milhem’s name. While police pushed for its publication, believing revealing the suspect’s name and an up-to-date photo could help efforts to apprehend him, the Shin Bet internal security service prefered to continue working in a clandestine manner. Eventually it was decided to go forward with the publication.
Condition of 2 critically injured in TA attack improves
The condition of two victims critically injured in Friday’s deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv slightly improved Saturday after one underwent emergency surgery for a bullet wound to the head, and the other for stomach injuries sustained in the incident. Two Israelis were killed in the attack.
One of the injured individuals, Ido Lazan, was treated at the Ichilov Hospital and, though still in serious condition, his life was no longer considered to be in danger. The second injured man, whose name was not published, remained hospitalized in Ichilov as well.
Five others were wounded in the attack, three in moderate condition and two with light injuries. The three people who sustained moderate wounds were taken to Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, according to the Magen David Adom rescue service. All were said to have improved late Friday. The two who were lightly injured were released from the hospital by Saturday evening.
Two Israelis, Alon Bakal, 26, who was the manager of the Simta Bar targeted in the attack and Shimon Raimi, 30, from Ofakim, were killed in the attack.



Victims of Tel Aviv shooting to be buried Sunday
The funeral of Alon Bakal, 26, will take place in Carmiel at 3 p.m. Thirty-year-old Shimon Ruimi will be buried in Ofakim, also at 3 p.m.
The two were murdered Friday when a shooter opened fire in the city’s busy Dizengoff street at around 2:30 p.m. Bakal was a manager at the Simta bar, one of the locations hit by the gunman. Ruimi was at the bar to attend a friend’s birthday.
Six more were wounded in the attack. The shooter fled and scene and remained at large on Saturday, despite heavy police deployment and extensive searches throughout the city.
Alon’s father David paid tribute to his “very special” son Friday, and warned that the ongoing violence is costing the lives of the young generation of Israelis.
“We are losing our good kids,” Bakal’s father said from Ichilov Hospital, Walla reported.
“[Alon] studied law and business management, he was a thriving and happy child. He lit up every place he went, he made everyone laugh,” his father said. “Have no doubt, he was a very special child. He was very special to us. Yesterday he sent me a message: ‘I am having fun, I love to live.'”
Edgar Davidson: Two people die in bar in unspecified city of unspecified country
A terrorist with an automatic weapon waited for a bar in central Tel Aviv to fill with people before opening fire, killing at least two and many seriously injured. The attack has apparently been claimed by Islamic Jihad. Compare those facts with the above screenshot I just took from skynews.com. Not only is the story considered less important than a bomb plot in Munich, but Sky News refuses in its headline to mention even the name of the city let alone the country. And the report itself does not mention even the possibility of terrorism.
UPDATE
I am now shocked and saddened to discover that one of the victims was family member Alon Bakal (aged 27), first cousin of Yaniv Rachamim my late brother-in-law who also died at a tragically young age. May his memory be a blessing.
 Security forces believe Dizengoff gunman is still in Tel Aviv area
A massive manhunt for an Arab Israeli gunman who carried out a deadly attack in Tel Aviv on Friday afternoon continued throughout Saturday, as the killer remained at large despite a rigorous search by security forces. Police believe that the gunman, who is known to them but cannot be named, is still in the area.
Thousands of police, Border Police and other members of the security forces were engaged in the manhunt for the killer. Police urged the Israeli public Saturday to be on the alert, and to report any suspicious individual to them.
Two people were killed and two others seriously wounded in the shooting near the Dizengoff Center Mall, just before 3 p.m. Friday. Five more were lightly or moderately injured when the gunman walked out of a health foods shop on Dizengoff Street, and began spraying bullets from his automatic machine gun.
Roads around the site of the attack remained closed as the manhunt continued Saturday. Security forces were also searching abandoned warehouses and building sites in the Tel Aviv area, Channel 2 television reported.
Police fear that the suspect may seek refuge in an apartment or in a crowded place, the Haaretz daily said, adding that special police units are on high alert for such an eventually. The police suspect that the gunman has a small sum of money that will allow him to get by in the short term.
Large contingent of police at family home of suspected Tel Aviv gunman
A large contingent of police forces were present Saturday afternoon at the Wadi Ara home belonging to the family of the suspected perpetrator of Friday's deadly shooting attack outside a bar in Tel Aviv.
Security forces removed from the house in the northern town of Arara the suspected attacker's brother and computers.
The father of the 28-year-old Israeli Arab suspected of carrying out the attack was questioned by authorities on Friday and Saturday.
"I am a law-abiding Israeli citizen. I heard that my son did what he did, but that is not how I raised him, I am sorry," said the suspect's father. "I went to the police and assisted security services. I join in the sorry of the families and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded."
The father of the suspect reportedly contacted police after recognizing his son in security footage broadcast on television following the attack.
Father of Tel Aviv gunman: ‘Stop him before he kills again’
The father of the Arab Israeli gunman believed to have carried out Friday’s deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv urged security forces on Saturday to detain his son as soon as possible, fearing that he would strike again.
“What is important to me now is that they reach my son and arrest him, because he is still armed,” the Ynet news website quoted him as saying. “And just as he murdered two people, he can murder more.”
He added: “I am worried and I want to hear that he is in police hands.”
Security forces know the identity of the 29-year-old gunman, who has been on the run since the attack at a bar on the bustling Dizengoff Street on Friday afternoon. A gag order has been placed on details of the investigation, however, including his name.
Police urged the Israeli public Saturday to be on the alert, and to report any suspicious individual to them. Thousands of police, Border Police and other members of the security forces were engaged in a manhunt for the killer.
The man’s father, a volunteer police officer from Wadi Ara in northern Israel, contacted the authorities after recognizing his son in footage of the attack shown on television.
‘Gun used in Tel Aviv attack was previously confiscated by police’
Nashat Milhem allegedly took the weapon from a safe at the Milhem home in Arara, northern Israel, before he set off to carry out the attack in which two Israelis were killed and several others injured.
The gun was confiscated in 2014 by officers of the Iron Police Station in northern Israel, and was returned to Muhammad Milhem two months ago, Channel 2 said. It was held by police after a complaint was filed from a man who said he had been threatened with the weapon by a member of the Milhem family.
The weapon is a Falcon sub-machine gun, which is hardly available in Israel, Channel 2 said. A weapons expert said there were perhaps 10 like it in the country. On Friday, the weapon was initially misidentified as an improved Carl Gustav gun.
Muhammad Milhem works as a security guard, and is also a police volunteer.
Brother of alleged Tel Aviv killer held as accomplice to murder
Juadat Milhem, the brother of the alleged Tel Aviv gunman Nashat Milhem, was arrested on Friday, and is being held on suspicion of direct involvement in the murderous attack on Dizengoff Street.
Juadat Milhem was remanded into custody for five days by Haifa Magistrates Court on Saturday. The court accepted a request from the state that he be barred from seeing a lawyer for three days.
He is suspected of being an accomplice to murder, and of premeditated manslaughter.
His lawyer said Juadat had nothing to do with the attack.
A day on, a subdued Tel Aviv reels from deadly shooting
Tel Aviv, famous for its exuberant street life and 24-hour partying, had a subdued air Saturday as it reeled from a deadly shooting attack at a bar on the busy Dizengoff Street in the heart of the city.
The recently revamped Sarona center was noticeably quiet Saturday morning, with far fewer visitors than on previous weekends, and cafes across Tel Aviv — widely known as the “city that never stops” — were far from bustling.
Locals gathered in the morning to light candles outside the Simta bar, where an Arab Israeli gunman killed two people and wounded seven others on Friday afternoon, traditionally when Tel Avivians pack into bars and cafes to mark the start of the weekend.
Most of the pubs and eateries on Dizengoff were shuttered following the attack, while those cafes that did open were uncharacteristically underpopulated.
Suspect in Tel Aviv shooting is Arab Israeli from Wadi Ara
Security sources identified the suspect as a 29-year-old resident of Arara, a village in Wadi Ara in northern Israel. The suspect’s father, said to be a security guard and a police volunteer, recognized his son in video footage of the attack, and called the police. Ahmed Milhem, a relative, said the suspect also stole his father’s weapon from a safe at their home.
The killer was acting out of “Islamist” motives, having been incited to violence, Channel 2 said.
But his former lawyer and relative, Sami Milhem, told Channel 2 that the man was suffering from mental health issues. “He is not of sound mind,” Sami Milhem said. He confirmed that the suspect had previously served time in jail. The suspect’s father was a volunteer with the police, Milhem said. He said that he had last seen the suspect at a wedding about a month ago, and he had seemed “stoned.”
Channel 2 reported that the killer’s cousin was shot dead in a police raid in 2006, when the cousin was found to be storing weapons. Subsequently, in a 2007 incident, the killer attacked a soldier with a screwdriver and tried to grab the soldier’s gun to avenge his cousin’s death, and was jailed for five years. After that incident, the suspect was given a psychiatric examination and found to require treatment, Israel Radio said. Relatives said he was depressed and had been working in various casual jobs of late.
Report: Copy of Koran found in Tel Aviv gunman's backpack
A copy of the Islamic holy text Koran was found inside the backpack being carried by the gunman who opened fire on a crowded Tel Aviv street on Friday, killing at least two people, Channel 10 reported.
VIDEO: Tel Aviv gunman buys vegetables, then pulls out rifle and starts shooting
Israeli police have sealed off thoroughfares in central Tel Aviv in what appears to be a door-to-door search for the gunman that killed at least two people and wounded seven others just moments earlier.
Authorities have blocked off Ibn Gabirol and Arlozorov Streets to traffic. Residents who live in these areas are escorted to their homes by police.
In new closed-circuit footage that has emerged in recent hours, the suspect is seen calmly buying vegetables in a store adjacent to the bar that was the primary recipient of a hail of bullets fired from what appears to be a semiautomatic rifle.
The clip shows the suspect, a bespectacled man dressed in black with a backpack who appears no older than 30, purchasing vegetables in a nutritional supplement shop just near a bar.
The gunman is seen calmly putting back the vegetables he picked out, opening his backpack, and then producing a semiautomatic rifle. He then begins to fire indiscriminately.
Hamas welcomes Tel Aviv attack
The Hamas terrorist group on Friday welcomed the shooting attack on a pub in Tel Aviv in which two people were murdered, though it did not claim responsibility for the act.
"The shooting attack in Tel Aviv at the start of the new year is a clear sign that the entire Zionist entity will be exposed to acts of resistance," said a Hamas spokesman in Gaza.
"Our enemies will not enjoy security as long as our people do not enjoy it," he declared.
BBC’s Kevin Connolly promotes irrelevant speculation on Tel Aviv shootings
BBC News coverage of the shooting attack which took place in Tel Aviv on the afternoon of January 1st included an article which continued to appear on the BBC News website under the headline “Tel Aviv shooting: Two dead, Israeli police say” long after the murders had been confirmed and the identities of the victims released into the public domain.
A filmed report for BBC television news programmes was also posted on the BBC News website under the title “Tel Aviv attack: Footage emerges of gunman“.
In that filmed report, BBC Jerusalem bureau correspondent Kevin Connolly told viewers:
“At first the motive for the shooting wasn’t clear. There were speculations it was linked to criminality and may even have been a hate crime against the gay community. But gradually it emerged that the police had identified a suspect and that the killings were almost certainly linked to the long-running dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.”
IAF hits Hamas in Gaza, as Israel warns of fierce response to rockets
The Israel Defense Forces warned early Saturday that it would continue to act strongly against any attempts to attack Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip, hours after IAF fighter jets hit four targets belonging to the Hamas terror group in response to rocket fire Friday night.
The army said that the targets hit by Israeli warplanes overnight Friday included training camps and two “terrorist infrastructures” belonging to Hamas.
“The Hamas terrorist organization is solely responsible for all terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement. “The IDF will continue to act strongly against any attempt to disrupt the quiet in the southern communities.”
Five rockets were fired Friday night at Israel from Gaza, which has been under Hamas rule since 2007. Two of the rockets fell in open areas in the area of the southern city of Sderot, and three exploded before they crossed the border.
There were no reports of injuries or damage.
Islamic State-linked group claims responsibility for Gaza rockets
Gunmen affiliated with the Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility Saturday for firing rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip late on Friday night.
The Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis Islamist group issued a statement hailing its attacks on “occupied Palestine” and gloating that it had “turned night into day” for residents in the Sderot area.
Nonetheless, Israel has said it holds Gaza’s Hamas rulers responsible for any attacks out of the Hamas-run Strip.
Gaza Jihadists Request Money, Arms Fighters Ahead of 'War in Holy Land'
Salafi militants in Gaza have released a video under the banner “prepare us,” in which they call on Islamic State sympathizers and other jihadists to help them “get ready for war in the Holy Land.”
The video is the latest in a propaganda campaign of Islamic State loyalists in Gaza, urging supporters abroad to send them “arms, funds and fighters for the impending war against the Jews.”
A senior Salafi fighter told Breitbart Jerusalem that many adherents of jihadi militias such as the “Shura Council of the Mujahideen” and “the Army of Islam” have been persecuted by Hamas.
For about four months, he said, Salafi sources have stepped up efforts to establish a major organizational infrastructure that have met with initial success. Salafi and jihadi organizations, mainly in the Persian Gulf region, have shown interest, he said.
In the campaign against Salafi groups, Hamas troops confiscated tens of thousands of dollars, rockets and other weapons that have been smuggled into the Strip, the fighter said.
Most of the jihadists in Gaza have pledged allegiance to Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, while fewer have allied themselves with al Qaeda and its leader Ayman al Zawahiri.
Islamic State Claims Credit for Shooting at Russian Tourist Attraction
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Naryn-Kala fortress in Dagestan, in which shots were fired at a tour group, killing one and wounding 11 others.
“A statement posted to IS’s main channel on the Telegram messaging app said the attack had targeted Russian intelligence agency officers,” the BBC reports.
Although initial reports described the slain victim as a border policeman, RT.com now says “the person killed was a warrant officer with the FSB (the Russian Federal Security Service),” while one of the injured was “a member of the Russian border service from the city of Bryansk.”
RT.com also reports security agencies believe there were three attackers, rather than the originally reported two, identifying the leader of the group as Abutdin Khanmagomedov.
The Interpreter names the other two gunmen as Radzhap Ismailov and Nariman Bashirov, and says their gang, called “Yuzhnaya,” has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. The same group allegedly fired shots at fire trucks a few weeks ago. All three suspects remain at large.
Al Qaeda Demands U.S. Adopt Metric System (satire)
Calling it his group’s ultimate and final demand, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a message this week, threatening massive attacks against U.S. targets unless Americans immediately and exclusively begin using the metric system.
“For years, we have fought against the American crusaders for their imperialism, their attacks on Muslim countries and their support for infidel regimes,” Zawahiri explained in the video. “But it seems like now ISIS has got that covered, so if the Americans will just adopt the metric system, like the rest of the damn world, we will give up on striking the American infidels and we will disband.”
The speech was both Zawahiri’s longest and his most passionate, as the al Qaeda leader railed against the American system of measurement for its confusing conversion ratios, arbitrary boiling and freezing points for water, and its lack of prevalence throughout the rest of the world.
“I mean, in the metric system everything is divisible into tens, and volume and length are easily convertible,” Zawahiri explained. “While I disapprove of the Americans’ theft of Arab resources and their rejection of Sharia Law, at least on these issues, I get where the Americans are coming from. But not using the metric system? That’s just baffling.”
American officials vehemently rejected al Qaeda’s demand, calling it a dramatic escalation.
“Every country has to choose,” President Obama said in a speech from the Oval Office. “Either you are with the forces of freedom and democracy, or you are with the metric system.”
Expert: Impossible To Defeat ISIS Without Knocking Iran Back Down To Size
Defeating ISIS requires fighting against Iran first, Lee Smith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and senior editor at The Weekly Standard, argued in a lecture to the Middle East Forum, which was published on their website Tuesday. A recording of the talk is available at the link.
Smith began his talk by explaining why Iran presents a greater threat that the Islamic State.
I think that by and large we have incorrectly prioritized our threat level here. I believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a much more serious serious threat to U.S. regional interests and to U.S. allies than the Islamic State is. And the primary reason for that is simply is that Iran is a state with the resources of a state. This is not to dismiss at all the very serious threat that ISIS poses to the United States and our allies, of course not just in the region, but also now as we see in Europe as well. … Iran is the main issue and this is not just because of the nuclear weapons program but this is also because of Iran’s larger regional project where it now controls, as it says, four Arab capitals, as the Iranian officials like to boast – Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sanaa.
Later in the talk, Smith explained that if the Obama administration wishes to win back the trust of the Iraqi Sunni tribes who contributed to the surge during the Bush administration, it must first fight against Iran’s influence across the Middle East.
Iran: ‘We’ll make missiles for as long as US supports Israel’
Iran will keep producing missiles for as long as the United States supports Israel, the head of the Revolutionary Guards Corps vowed Friday, as a war of words between Washington and Tehran continued in the aftermath of Iranian rocket tests last week.
The US had warned that the tests violated the terms of previously signed agreements as well as those of a July 2015 nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers, and could result in fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Washington has since said that plans for new sanctions were on hold.
“Today the Americans speak about Iran’s missile development program and they want to impose new sanctions on Iran,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted General Hossein Salami as saying in a speech during Friday prayers in Tehran.
“We tell the Americans that we will further expedite enhancement of our missile capabilities as long as they massacre the Palestinian children, as long as they bury Yemen’s oppressed children in their houses, as long as they displace the Muslim nation of Syria, as long as they attack the houses of the Pakistanis, as long as they occupy the Islamic lands and as long as they support the Zionist regime to bomb Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.”
Salami also said that Iran had so many missiles that it had nowhere to store them, AFP reported.
Fury in Iran and Iraq as Saudis execute top Shiite cleric
Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed a prominent Shiite cleric behind anti-government protests along with 46 other men, drawing angry condemnation from Iran and Iraq.
The execution of Nimr al-Nimr and the others, including Shiite activists and Sunnis accused of involvement in deadly al-Qaeda attacks, was announced by the Saudi interior ministry.
It prompted calls for demonstrations, with the brother of the 56-year-old cleric warning it could stir more trouble in oil-rich Eastern Province where Shiites complain of marginalization.
“This action will spark anger of (Shiite) youths” in Saudi Arabia, said Mohammed al-Nimr.
The interior ministry said the 47 men had been convicted of adopting the radical “takfiri” ideology, joining “terrorist organizations” and implementing various “criminal plots.”
A list published by the official Saudi Press Agency included Sunni Muslims convicted of involvement in al-Qaeda attacks that killed Saudi and foreigners in the kingdom in 2003 and 2004.
Daphne Anson: British BDSers Boast about the Bygone Year (video)
"Ending the Occupation" is, inevitably, a phrase uttered here, but with the dedication to the "Right of Return" an altogether more sinister scenario is, of course, discernible.
Anti-Israel activists Ben White, Sarah Apps, Professor Jonathan Rosenhead of London University, and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi are featured in this po-faced little video.
Repellent as the activists are to watch, it always helps to know what Israel's detractors are thinking.
‘Turkey needs Israel,’ says Erdogan as he pushes reconciliation
Turkey must accept that it needs Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday, as the two countries seek to thrash out a deal on normalizing ties.
NATO member Turkey was a key regional ally of Israel until the two countries fell out over an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009 and an IDF raid on a flotilla bound for Gaza a year later that killed 10 Turkish nationals.
Erdogan further raised hackles in Israel with his sometimes inflammatory rhetoric towards the Jewish state, but the atmosphere has transformed following the revelation last month the two sides were making progress in secret talks to seek a rapprochement.
“Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region,” Erdogan said in remarks to Turkish reporters published in leading dailies Saturday.
“And we too must accept that we need Israel. This is a reality in the region,” said Erdogan.
“If mutual steps are implemented based on sincerity, then normalization will follow.”
Turkish Leader Started Talking About Hitler. It Didn't End Well
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes the Third Reich presidency of Adolf Hitler is a good example of the kind of executive power he would like to have.
In an interview late Thursday with reporters, Erdogan was asked if it is possible his proposed plan to transform the president from a ceremonial office to the role of chief executive could work without disrupting Turkeys unitary political structure.
“There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany,” the head of state replied, according to Reuters. “There are later examples in various other countries.”
Erdogan and his ruling AK Party are looking to change Turkey’s constitution after winning back the majority in parliament in last November’s elections. Opposing parties would also like to revise the constitution, but they do not support the plan to create a more powerful presidency as they feel it would potentially lead to the office becoming too authoritarian.
A Smorgasbord of Swedish Anti-Semitism
Sweden is a country where using the word "mass immigration" usually gets criticized just for sounding racist. Only anti-Semitism does not get criticized. In Sweden, all other forms of racism -- even things that some say could be classified as racism -- are criticized, and ruthlessly.
TV4, one of the most important Swedish media outlets, in 2015 described anti-Semitism as simply a "different opinion."
"What is history for us is not the history of others. ... When we have other students who have studied other history books, there is no point in discussing facts against facts." — The administration of an adult-education school, in a reprimand to a teacher who said the Holocaust actually took place.
"The Jews are campaigning against me." — Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
There are fewer than 20,000 Jews in Sweden; more than 20,000 Syrians received asylum in 2014 alone. That is why so few politicians -- who are eager to win the votes of immigrants -- talk about Arab anti-Semitism.
Arrests made in attack on Jewish man in Brooklyn
Eldin Sabovic, 17, and Baskim Huseinovic, 19, were arrested on Thursday, the New York Post reported. They were charged with robbery and assault. The attack is not considered a hate crime.
The attack took place on Sunday in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a large Orthodox Jewish population. The victim wore a kippa. The attack was recorded on a nearby home’s surveillance video.
The victim, whose first name is Eli, was walking down a residential street of single-family homes when a man came from behind, punched him at least four times and threw him to the sidewalk. With the help of an accomplice, the assailant then stole the victim’s iPhone and wallet.
The victim was kicked in the head several times, before the assailant and his accomplice, both wearing hoodies, according to WPIX-TV, fled the scene in a black car driven by a third man.
New Documentary ‘Alyad’ Depicts Jewish Life in the Soviet Union
It’s been almost 24 years since the fall of the Soviet Union. It seems to me that most young people do not know about refuseniks—Soviet Jews who were denied permission to emigrate to Israel—except Nika Vashakidze, 34, the Moscow-based director and producer of Alyad, a new documentary film that explores the complex reality of Jewish life in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s, which was at once strictly prohibited and tacitly tolerated. Alyad premieres on Wednesday at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York.
The title of the film is a tribute to the phenomenon of young Soviet Jews congregating alyad, or “near,” the Moscow Choral Synagogue on Arkhipov Street; it features rare, sometimes unbelievable, archival footage. Here’s one incredible scene: Jews standing outside loudly (in the repressive Soviet Union!) offering Hebrew lessons. My father, a former refusenik, had previously told me about this nearly-fantastical occurrence—to my great disbelief. But seeing it on the big screen was another story, to the point where I began frantically messaging my parents: How could these meetings have occurred so openly? (My mother responded: Not “open” open, but not very covert either. It’s like pot usage for personal use—it’s still illegal but they may or may not go after you.)
“I didn’t want to talk about that which is normally discussed when you talk about refuseniks,” Vashakidze explained, in Russian. “I have a very different story: no one is fleeing, no one is struggling, no one is suffering. I am describing almost a different planet. But it’s true, and it existed. And these were the concrete events of these people’s lives.”
Top trends to watch in Israel in 2016
As the New Year approaches, we asked experts in every area of innovation we cover – technology, health, culture, environment, travel and social action – to look into their crystal balls and predict the three biggest trends in Israel for 2016.
From mega exits to digital healthcare, sustainable agriculture and shared economy companies, our experts gave us a great deal of exciting things to think about.
Follow ISRAEL21c’s coverage of innovation news in these areas over the coming year and see if their predictions were right.
Bar Refaeli announces pregnancy
Recently-married Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli announced her pregnancy on Instagram on Thursday, posting a photo of a positive home pregnancy test stick.
She wrote: “2016 is going to be like…” followed by a baby icon and a bottle icon.
Fans were ecstatic, with the photo gaining 52,000 “Likes” and over 3,000 well-wishing comments within 5 hours.
For Refaeli, the news must come as a welcome respite from her legal troubles — the model is being investigated for potential tax offenses, and earlier this month spent 12 hours in questioning at the Tax Authority offices in Tel Aviv. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
These singing sisters are wildly popular in Yemen. And they’re Israeli Jews.
With their ebony hair and Yemeni accented Arabic, singing sisters Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim would probably not seem out of place on the streets of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.
But the sisters, collectively known as A-Wa, or “yes” in Arabic slang, are actually descendants of Yemeni Jews who immigrated to Israel decades ago.
Today, they live in Tel Aviv.
While siblings singing sweet harmonies together might not be big news, these Jewish sisters — who mix near extinct Yemenite poetry with fast-paced hip-hop and electronic beats — just might be.
Their first song, “Habib Galbi” (Love of My Heart), is an updated version of an ancient song passed down orally through multiple generations of women. Released this year, the video clip accompanying the song has gone viral on YouTube, drawing more than 2 million views and thousands of comments from around the globe.


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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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Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

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