Friday, November 25, 2016

From Ian:

Blaze in Jerusalem hills spreads and gathers force into Friday night
A major forest fire that broke out in the mountains outside Jerusalem on Friday afternoon spread and gathered force into the night.
Multiple teams of firefighters were battling the blaze in the Ma’ale Hahamisha and Nataf areas on Friday afternoon and into the night, and more were being deployed. At least 20 planes were said to be operating in the area, tackling the flames from the skies.
The fire expanded and progressed through the afternoon and evening. Initially none of the homes in Ma’ale Hahamisha or Nataf were thought to be in danger, police said, but in mid-afternoon they ordered the evacuation of Nataf, and said homes were under threat.
Some Nataf residents were taking refuge in the community center at the nearby Arab town of Abu Ghosh on Friday night.
Rama’s Kitchen, a famed Nataf restaurant, was destroyed, and much of the owner’s home was destroyed in the flames as well. A wedding was taking place at the restaurant when firefighters ordered an urgent evacuation.
By Friday evening, the nearby West Bank settlement of Mevo Horon was also in danger.
Channel 2 reported that initial suspicions were that the blaze was started by a petrol bomb thrown from the nearby Palestinian village of Katana. This report was not confirmed.


Caroline Glick: The ADL’s new bedfellows
Given the stakes, then, it makes perfect sense that the Arab American groups oppose Trump.
It also makes sense that Arab regimes threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran support Trump and eagerly await his inauguration.
And it clearly makes sense for Israel to welcome Trump’s election.
The only thing that makes no sense is the American Jewish campaign to demonize Trump. The ADL’s leadership of the campaign to smear Trump and his advisers while legitimizing BDS and supporting Israel-bashers is antithetical to the interests of the American Jewish community.
In adopting these positions, Greenblatt and the ADL along with their allies in J Street, Jewish Voices for Peace, If Not Now, The Forward, other far-left groups and mainstream groups that have lost their way show through their actions that they have conflated their Judaism with their support for the Left.
To the extent that the interests of the Jews of America contradict the positions of the Left, the Jews of America are behaving in an “antisemitic” way.
It is the responsibility of the segment of the community that understands “Jewish” is not a synonym of “leftist” to oppose the ADL and its backers. If they fail to do so, they will contribute to the descent of the community into powerlessness and irrelevance, not only in the era of Trump, but into the future.
Caroline Glick: Israel must 'seize the opportunity'
Jerusalem Post managing editor Caroline Glick told Arutz Sheva that she had a visceral feeling that Donald Trump would win the election but she was confused by the polls.
Glick feels it is an opportune moment to restore relations with the US which, during Obama's term, have reached their lowest nadir since the establishment of Israel.
She expressed the hope that the Trump administration will really move the US embassy to Jerusalem as the president-elect promised, an unprecedented move by the US
"This administration also endorses Israel's right to build wherever it wishes in Judea and Samaria and if we do build this could help push housing prices down which will enable young couples to buy homes," she noted.
However, she warned that all indications show that Obama intends to use his remaining months in office to damage Israel in the UN Security Council and "we must be aware of this."




Melanie Phillips: American Jews get it wrong
In President Obama, liberal American Jews have supported someone who has made Israel less safe and empowered its mortal enemies.
For years, Jews have been told they are too quick to see antisemitism where it doesn’t exist. This taunt has been used to dismiss real evidence of anti-Jewish attitudes as mere paranoia.
Now American Jews are lamentably giving credence to this false charge. For they have led the hysterical and demonstrably absurd accusation that Donald Trump and his head of strategy Stephen Bannon are antisemites.
During the presidential election campaign, Trump claimed that people like billionaire financier George Soros, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein were part of a global power structure which hurt ordinary people. This claim was said to be an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
This was ridiculous. There is a reasonable case for criticizing these people on these grounds. The fact that they happen to be Jews does not turn it into a rerun of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Trump not only has an Orthodox Jewish son in-law, daughter and grandchildren but has always expressed warmth, affection and admiration for Israel and the Jewish people.
Radical activists are threatening to burn down the edifice of Israel-Diaspora relations
Palestinian Arab arsonists set much of Israel ablaze this week, which is sad, but alas, expected bad behavior. Far more disappointing is the pyromaniac behavior of so-called “Jewish leaders” and commentators who are threatening to burn down the edifice of Israel-Diaspora relations.
It begins with Reform, Conservative and sundry feminist leaders who threaten Prime Minister Netanyahu with an “irreparable break” in relations with the Diaspora Jewish community if the Israeli government doesn’t follow through on the plan to build a large egalitarian space at the Western Wall.
This is followed by intemperate ultra-Orthodox leaders who call non-Orthodox movements “wicked and abominable.”
It continues with cries of “fascism” from liberal NGOS, backed by Diaspora Jewish funds, about every modest proposal for constitutional or judicial reform in Israel.
It grows into howls of dissent and fury by progressive peace activists across the Diaspora Jewish spectrum as Israel tenderly begins to consider (logical, inevitable, justified) adjustments to the hallowed two-state paradigm for relations with the Palestinians.
Wiped out ‘in the blink of an eye’: Only 35 Jews survived from a 2,000-year-old Greek community


It’s a land that has traded hands many times — Norman, Greek, Bulgarian, Byzantine Turkish. In fact, so diverse was this town that it attracted many different ethnic groups, including Jews.
However, during World War II, the previously quiet community, a home for the distinctive Romaniote Jews who settled there 2,000 years before, was extensively damaged and the Jewish population nearly wiped out. Just 35 of the original population survived; it had originally numbered at 900.
A new documentary, “Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria,” chronicles the history of that Sephardic community and documents the destruction of a minority population — one of many communities that had existed in Greece prior to WWII.
In October 1940, Greece was invaded by Axis forces. Initially, under Italian occupation, the Jewish community remained safe. But after Mussolini fell from power, the Nazis seized control of the town, and 763 Kastorian Jews were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Through never-before-seen archival footage, executive producer and director Lawrence Russo and co-director and producer Larry Confino tell the story of a vibrant community that has slowly faded from the consciousness of so many around the world — Jews and non-Jews alike. For the filmmakers, the story is personal, as their families have direct ties to Greece.
Dichter: Israel Can't Take Risks in the Golan Heights or the Jordan Valley
I met with Dichter this week for a lengthy conversation about terrorism, the region, and Israel’s strategic interests in the era of President-elect Donald Trump.
The meeting was a simultaneous tour of the Middle East and Dichter’s life. At 18, he enlisted in the IDF and served in the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, famously known as Sayeret Matkal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was then the senior team leader, and former prime minister Ehud Barak was the unit commander.
After his discharge, Dichter joined the Shin Bet and climbed the ranks until becoming its director in 2000.
After resigning in 2005, he entered politics, first as a member of the now-defunct Kadima Party, and then as a member of the Likud.
Following elections last year, Dichter was appointed chairman of the Knesset’s most important panel, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which gives him access to the defense establishment and Israel’s vaunted intelligence agencies. He is also frequently called upon to meet with foreign delegations. Just this past week, Dichter briefed the Belgian deputy prime minister, the Romanian foreign minister, and senior members of the Czech defense committee.
Dichter is of the opinion that terrorism can be defeated. When he was head of the Shin Bet, he famously said that “terrorism is like a barrel that has a bottom”, meaning that it has an end. While terrorism has dissipated in the years since, it has not completely disappeared. Nevertheless, Dichter remains confident that he was right.
But for that to happen, Israel – or any other country for that matter – can never let up its fight. It is a constant battle that never ends.
“Terrorism is like driving in a jeep in the sand,” he told me. “The worst thing to do is to stop since you will sink. You need to keep on driving. The same with fighting terrorism. You can’t stop.”
JPost Editorial: Trump in the Middle East
Trump does seem to have sympathy for Israel’s position vis-a-vis the Palestinians. He has expressed his intention to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and he purportedly agrees with Israel’s position that settlements are not an obstacle to peace.
But Trump is unpredictable. He has said, for instance, that he intends to be “neutral” with regard to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. But in a speech before AIPAC he said, “When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one.”
He has also flip-flopped on issues such as the use of torture, abortion and immigration. How he will act toward Israel in the event of renewed negotiations is therefore unknown.
Admittedly, it will be difficult for Trump to remain out of the Middle East altogether. The region has a way of imposing itself on US presidents by presenting challenges such the proliferation of weapons and terrorism. Trouble that originates from the Middle East has a tendency to spread.
Trump might have pledged “America first,” but he will have a hard time keeping up to that promise. Should we welcome this intervention as Ya’alon seems to be suggesting? We are not sure.
The In-Between Policy: How Obama And Clinton Unmade The Middle East
Van Dyke told TheDCNF Syria was a result of the “inaction of the Obama administration.”
There wouldn’t be an Islamic State if NATO intervened, he added.
The diplomatic failures in Syria should come as no surprise. Assad saw what happened to Gaddafi after making a deal with the U.S., so why would he follow in his disastrous footsteps?
For Clinton, the intervention in Libya seemed like an easy way to cement her legacy during a monumental moment in Middle Eastern history. As Scott Shane and Jo Becker of the New York Times noted in February, Libya had a small population of 6 million with no sectarian divisions, unlike Syria and Iraq. It also had plenty of oil. Libya was an easy target, or so it seemed.
“The end result is that in 2011 [and] 2012, America flipped sides,” said Hoekstra. “We decided to engage with exactly the groups that [Gaddafi] warned us about.”
He added that dictators like Gaddafi, Mubarak and Assad are hardly good men, much less legitimate democrats, but they do serve an important purpose.
“Who they are is strong-men that are keeping the lid on the powder keg.”
Obama admitted his regret over the Libyan intervention in an interview with the Atlantic’s Geoffrey Goldberg in April 2016, noting he had misplaced his faith in the European partners. He did not mention whether or not he regretted giving in to Clinton.
Israeli Jews of Iraqi descent meet Abbas in Ramallah
It’s dusk on Tuesday evening and a delegation of some 50 Israeli Jews of Iraqi descent are making a short but unordinary trip on a white coach bus to Ramallah to visit Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
As the bus crosses the northern Beit El checkpoint, approaching the de facto Palestinian capital, PA police cars and motorcycles turn their sirens on and escort the delegation, whose members hail mainly from Or Yehuda, a city near Tel Aviv, to the Mukata, the PA presidential compound.
On the bus ride over, Tamar Tzaliach, a retired businesswoman from Jerusalem who loves Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says she is not sure if Abbas is ready to make the compromises necessary for peace.
“I am skeptical; it is possible that he wants to make peace, but he needs to overcome the pressures around him and take a courageous step,” says Tzaliach, whose family comes from Baghdad and Basra.
Israel blasts France’s move to label settlement goods
France published an official notification Thursday urging businesses to use labels to identify goods produced in the Israeli settlements, prompting a swift condemnation from Israel.
It was not immediately clear whether the notice published in the French Official Journal is binding for retailers or a recommendation. A press official with the trade ministry said late Thursday she was not aware of the notification and couldn’t immediately say whether it was mandatory or advisory.
In Nov. 2015, the European Union recommended that its member states put special labels on exports from the West Bank, but said the technical guidelines on the indication of origin were “in no way a boycott.”
Israel condemned France’s decision, saying it lends support to an international movement calling for a boycott of Israeli goods over its policies toward the Palestinians. The EU rejects such comparisons. It says the measure is meant to educate consumers about the origins of the products they are buying, and has rejected the international boycott movement against Israel.
The French notice says that “under international law the Golan Heights and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are not part of Israel.” So it states that goods from those regions must be marked as such and not as originating from Israel.
Vatican buses promote trips to Jerusalem, “Palestine”
It was no secret that Catholic tourist maps and pilgrimage brochures omitted the name “Israel”, using instead the sanitized expression “Holy Land”, one of the visible effects of the Catholic “replacement theology”, which adopts a de-Judaizing language.
It was no secret that Catholic pilgrims spend virtually all their time visiting holy sites in Palestinian-run territory, staying in Palestinian Arab hotels and listening to Palestinian Arab tour guides. As a result, these pilgrims return filled with hatred towards Israel.
The Vatican bears a great responsibility in this ritual, since the “Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi”, which manages these tourist tours, is the Vatican office that organizes pilgrimages to Christian sites around the world.
That is why I was shocked when a friend sent me this picture from a bus in Rome, in which the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi sponsors a trip in “Palestine”, “the holy land”, with iconic Christian sites in Israel's capital city of Jerusalem.
Home of San Diego Jewish family vandalized with anti-Semitic message
The home of a Jewish family in the San Diego area was vandalized and an anti-Semitic message painted on its door.
San Diego police are investigating the incident that occurred on Tuesday night as vandalism and a possible hate crime, NBC San Diego reported.
The vandal reportedly opened a package left on the doorstep, stole some items, and left the message on the door, which reportedly referenced the mezuzah the family had posted on their doorpost in keeping with Jewish tradition.
The neighborhood, Carmel Valley, reportedly is one-third Jewish.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Barry Dolinger, spiritual leader of a Modern Orthodox synagogue in Providence, Rhode Island, told The Associated Press in an article available Wednesday that he was the victim of anti-Semitic taunting earlier this month. Young men in a car pulled over and yelled “Heil Hitler,” before driving away.
Report: British Revisionist Historian Portrayed in Movie ‘Denial’ Embarks on ‘Secretive Tour to Spread Vile Message’ Ahead of Film’s Release in UK
The British revisionist historian spotlighted in the movie “Denial” has embarked on what the UK’s Daily Mail called a “secretive tour” to “spread his vile message,” ahead of the film’s release in the country.
Holocaust denier David Irving confirmed the existence of his lecture series — which began November 23 and will hit 21 locations — but told the Daily Mail that the exact venues are to be revealed only to “vetted ticket-buyers, to evade anti-fascist protesters.” He also acknowledged that it may profit, due to publicity for the movie.
The film tells the story of Irving’s 1996 libel suit against renowned Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt — portrayed by actress Rachel Weisz — for calling him a denier of history in her book. Though Lipstadt is an American and the book was published first in the US, Irving took her to court in Britain, where the burden of proof rests on the defendant. This meant that Lipstadt and her legal team needed to prove that the Holocaust did, in fact, take place.
Irving lost the case and his reputation was tarnished, after the judge wrote in his decision that Irving is an “active Holocaust denier; that he is an antisemitic and racist, and that he associates with Right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.”
Irving, who was not involved in the film’s production, called its version of events “inaccurate.”
Gut microbes could be to blame for yoyo obesity
Dieters know all too well that losing weight doesn’t mean it’s gone for good. And research has shown that the phenomenon of weight cycling – the repeated loss and regain of body weight – can be bad for our health, upping the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes, fatty liver and other obesity-related diseases.
Now, a new Israeli study has shown in mice that gut microbes play an unexpectedly important role in exacerbated post-dieting weight gain.
As reported today in Nature, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science say that by altering the composition or function of the intestinal microbes – collectively termed the gut microbiome — the common weight cycling phenomenon, also known as yoyo obesity, may in the future be prevented.
The study was performed by research teams headed by Dr. Eran Elinav of the Immunology Department and Prof. Eran Segal of the Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Department. The researchers found that after a cycle of gaining and losing weight, all the mice’s body systems fully reverted to normal – except the microbiome.
Moreover, they found that for about six months after losing weight, post-obese mice retained an abnormal “obese” microbiome.
Study finds Hebrew U graduates among most employable
Graduates of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are more employable than half of the world’s university graduates, a new study has found.
An analysis of graduates’ employability published this week by the Times Higher Education ranked graduates of Hebrew University as the 67th most employable in the world out of 150 universities, and are the most employable students graduating in Israel.
Other Israeli institutions that made the ranking include Technion-Israel Institute of Technology at 122, and Tel Aviv University at 139.
The list is topped by California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The top five is rounded out by Cambridge University in England and Stanford University.
Hebrew University fared better than some notable US schools such as Georgetown University at 94, University of Pennsylvania at 98 and Northwestern University at 100.
Soldier who protected 200 American-Jewish POWs to be awarded
An American POW who protected 200 American-Jewish POWs during World War II will be posthumously awarded by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous.
The foundation will bestow its Yehi Ohr Award on Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, who refused to reveal to a German commandant during World War II which troops under his command were Jewish while being held at the Stalag IXA POW camp. The award ceremony will take place on Nov. 28 at the New York Public Library. His son, Pastor Chris Edmonds, will accept the award.
Edmonds was captured during the Battle of the Bulge by the German army on December 19, 1944. As the highest ranking officer in the POW camp, Edmonds was responsible for the camp’s 1,292 American POWs. The camp’s commandant ordered Edmonds to identify the Jewish soldiers in order to separate them from the other prisoners. Instead, Edmonds refused, and when the German commandant placed his pistol against Edmonds’ head, demanding that he identify the Jewish soldiers, Edmonds responded “We are all Jews here,” refusing to identify the Jewish soldiers, thereby saving their lives.
Edmonds survived 100 days of captivity, and returned home after the war, but never told his family of his actions. Edmonds died in 1985, and only long after was first recognized for his heroic actions. The foundation also will be honoring several of the surviving Jewish servicemen saved by Edmonds.
“Over the years we have worked with and honored many holocaust survivors and their rescuers, but the story of Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds saving 200 Jewish-American soldiers truly distinguishes the man and leader he was. Though unfortunately we were not privileged enough to honor him during his lifetime, we hope that this year’s Yehi Ohr Award will show the gratitude and appreciation that our nation has on behalf of his heroic actions that day,” said chairman Harvey Schulweis, who also created the foundation.




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