Saturday, May 05, 2018

From Ian:

Report: Kerry met Iranian foreign minister in attempt to salvage nuclear deal
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif two weeks ago in a bid to salvage the 2015 nuclear agreement signed between Iran and world powers, according to the Boston Globe.

Kerry reportedly met Zarif at the United Nations in New York for a second meeting in as many months amid threats by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the agreement by May 12.

According to the Globe, the Obama administration's top diplomat has also met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeir, French President Emmanuel Macron on two occasions, and spoken on the phone with the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in an attempt to save the agreement that he spent years negotiating with other world leaders.

Kerry refused to respond to the Globe report.

Reuters reported last week that Trump has “all but decided” to withdraw from the agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and to allow nuclear-related sanctions on Iran that were suspended under the nuclear deal to snap back into effect.

Zarif insisted on Thursday that his government has implemented its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers fully and in “good faith” – just days after Israel and the Trump administration accused the Iranians of lying about the nature of their nuclear work at its outset.

“Iran will not renegotiate what was agreed years ago and has been implemented,” Zarif said. “Let me make it absolutely clear, and once and for all: we will neither outsource our security nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith.”

How Malaysia Became a Training Ground for Hamas
It was like a scene out of the Mission: Impossible series. Two assassins on BMW motorbikes gunned down 34-year old Fradi Al-Batsh on the morning of April 21 in Kuala Lumpur. Al-Batsh was riddled with eight bullets before his attackers sped away.

Al-Batsh was a 34-year-old electrical engineer, a PhD in power systems and energy efficiency, and a lecturer at the British Malaysian Institute. As it turns out, he was also a loyal and active member of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, working on the development of drones and rockets. He may also have been negotiating arms deals on behalf of Hamas with the North Koreans.

Reports suggest that it was agents of the Israeli spy agency, the Mossad, who killed al-Batsh. This only seems logical. But less obvious is what a Hamas weapons developer was doing in Malaysia in the first place.

As it turns out, Hamas has a significant presence in Malaysia. For years, the terrorist group has used Malaysia to engage in financial activities and even plan operations from outside Gaza, particularly as the group has been forced out of its traditional Middle East areas of operations, such as Syria.

Malaysia doesn’t appear to be concerned about the optics of this Hamas presence. As the Inspector General of Police in Malaysia said at a press conference last year, “If they come in peace and do not create any problems, then what is the issue?”

The problem is that Hamas operatives don’t come in peace. In 2012, at least ten members of Hamas traveled to Malaysia for training to prepare for a cross-border attack against Israel. The group reportedly trained for kidnapping soldiers, anti-tank ambushes, and sniper attacks.
Malaysian police claim to find guns, van used by assassins of Hamas drone expert
Malaysian police said Saturday that they had located the weapons and the getaway vehicle used by the assassins who gunned down a Hamas rocket and drone expert in Kuala Lumpur last month.

Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun told reporters that authorities were currently attempting to locate the owner of the vehicle, according to the Malaysian newspaper the New Straits Times.

Fadi al-Batsh, said to be a rocket and drone expert, was on his way to dawn prayers on April 21 when he was assassinated by motorbike-riding gunmen, a killing his family and the Hamas terror group have blamed on Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

“After shooting the victim and fleeing on a high-powered motorcycle, the suspects immediately switched to a van and escaped,” Fuzi said, according to the New Straits Times.

The motorbike the two suspects were allegedly riding was found abandoned not far from where the assassination took place.

The police inspector-general also said that the two suspects had used fake passports from Serbia and Montenegro to enter Malaysia, “They are also believed to have passports from other countries,” he said.



In Gaza, setting fire to their own gas lines to fuel the flames of protest
The infiltration of Palestinian demonstrators into the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing on Friday evening caused damage estimated in the millions to infrastructure, mostly to pipes providing vital gas and fuel to the Strip.

Dozens of Palestinians broke into the Gaza side crossing on Friday evening, setting fire to the gas pipeline that supplies fuel to the Strip. They did not get through to the Israeli side.

These riled-up demonstrators first and foremost hurt themselves and the Gazan public. But despite Israeli army assessments that this was done with Hamas backing, from conversations with Palestinians in Gaza, a somewhat different picture emerges. One which suggests that the infiltration into the compound was initiated spontaneously by a mob that had no initial plans to do so.

The moment the incident began, Hamas officials in charge of security at the site realized that trying to stop it could cause deaths and injuries, and so pulled back and allowed the demonstrators to do as they pleased.

The Kerem Shalom crossing is the main entry point for merchandise entering Gaza. It’s difficult to think of a place more critical to the Strip’s own economy.

In the past, 900 truckloads of merchandise entered through the crossing every day. Today that number is down to about 300 a day, due to the economic crisis in Gaza which has led to less demand.

It is members of the Palestinian Authority that are in charge of operations at the crossing, not Hamas. And so the vandalism at the site wasn’t just an expression of rage against Israel but against the PA too.
Kerem Shalom crossing set ablaze on Palestinian side by protesters
Hundreds of Palestinians set fire to and damaged the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Friday evening. The law-breakers damaged fuel and gas pipes that serve the people of Gaza, said the IDF.

"This is a cynical act which damages the well-being of the people of Gaza and the humanitarian efforts carried out by Israel and other countries," the IDF spokesperson stated.

On the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, infrastructure was set on fire and damaged, reported Maariv.

"The Kerem Shalom riot is happening on the Palestinian side of the crossing and includes causing damage to the infrastructure, I don't see the Palestinian Authority paying for the damages soon", said Maariv reporter Tal Lev-Ram.

An Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post that, based on initial visual information, the office of the crossing management was looted and destroyed, the fuel tank which served the generator was set on fire and petrol pumps suffered damage.

Around 10,000 Palestinians took part in protests on Friday along the Gaza-Israel border and violent clashes with the IDF were monitored in five locations. The Gaza Ministry of Health reported that the number of wounded protesters stands at around 430 people.




Video shows Gazans breaching border, entering Israeli territory unchallenged
A Palestinian video aired on Al Jazeera over the weekend shows demonstrators at Friday’s Gaza border protests breaching the border and entering Israeli territory unchallenged.

Around 15 people can be seen in the clip crossing over to the Israeli side of the security fence. The protesters are then seen running around, celebrating. One wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and brandishing a butcher’s knife jumps up and down while crying “Allahu Akbar.”

After a short time the protesters are apparently spotted by Israeli troops, and can be seen running back into Gaza.

The army said in a statement that the Gazans were identified by soldiers monitoring the border and a patrol was dispatched to the scene. Soldiers fired tear gas at the infiltrators and forced them back over the border.

Gazans have been holding weeks of protest at the Gaza-Israel border, encouraged by the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, and whose leaders say the ultimate goal of the protests is to erase the border and “liberate Palestine.”

On Saturday, the army said troops identified several Palestinians who breached the border and placed Molotov cocktails near the security fence in the south of the Strip before returning to Gaza. In a second incident soldiers fired at a group of Palestinians who attempted to sabotage the fence in southern Gaza, and they retreated.
In new videos, IDF accuses Gazans of faking injury, taking small kids to riots
The Israeli army on Saturday night published video clips from demonstrations by Gazans at the border which it said showed protesters faking injury in order to manipulate world opinion, and using young children at the forefront of border riots.

In one clip released by the IDF, Gazan youths are shown rushing a seemingly injured youth toward safety on a stretcher through clouds of smoke and dust. Toward the end of the clip, however, the youth appears to fall off or get off the stretcher, and then gets to his feet, now seeming quite unharmed.

“Throughout Hamas’s activity, fake injuries and the exploitation of women and children are rampant,” the IDF said in a tweet.

“This was all intended to disguise terror activity, including hurling explosives & grenades, attempted infiltrations, & burning Israeli land.”

In a second clip, very young children are seen at the protests, rolling tires, and standing close to older Palestinian youths; the IDF alleges that Gazans are deliberately placing young kids near to rioters, as human shields.

Border riots continued at the weekend for a sixth week.


MEMRI: YouTube Censors MEMRI, Removes – For 'Harmful Or Dangerous Content' – MEMRI TV Translated Clip Exposing Statements By Anti-Semitic Gaza Religious Scholar At 'Return March'
A MEMRI TV clip posted on April 24, 2018 on the MEMRI TV YouTube channel translated and exposed anti-Semitic statements by Gaza religious scholar Khaled Hany Morshid. The MEMRI TV clip shows Morshid at the Gaza "Return March" stating in a religious lecture that "one of the greatest duties... and best forms of worship... is to fight those Jews." He goes on to state that in order to stop the Jews, the "sword of jihad for the sake of Allah is brandished and they are made an example of," and adds: "I call upon every Muslim: Do not stand idly by and let those Jews spread corruption... You must carry out glorious deeds against them."

YouTube: "Video Removed: Inappropriate Content"

The same day, YouTube removed this MEMRI TV clip from the channel, with the message: "Video Removed: Inappropriate content."

YouTube also posted on the page a notification explaining that the video had been "flagged for review" – that is, by YouTube users – and that YouTube had subsequently "determined that it violates our guidelines." It added, "We've removed it from YouTube and assigned a Community Guidelines strike, or temporary penalty, to your account" and warned: "If you receive three or more of one of the types of strikes listed above, we may have to disable your account."
Hamas leader: Our blood will go to Jerusalem
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said on Thursday that the “March of the Return” processions in Gaza sent a clear message to all sides that it was impossible to implement the "deal of the century", a reference to the peace plan being put forward by the Trump administration.

Speaking at a conference in Gaza, Zahar said that the processions demonstrated that the Palestinian decision would remain in the hands of Hamas and the resistance organizations until the liberation of “Palestine”.

"The attempt to instill fear in the lives of the settlers has already done its part, and if we look at what is happening around us, we will find that they fled because they are thieves, and what happened to them will happen in the north of the country as well," Zahar said.

"The blood of the Palestinian people, spilled on this land, will go from here to Jerusalem,” he vowed.

Since March 30, Gazans have been holding weekly marches towards the border with Israel, clashing with IDF soldiers and throwing rocks, firebombs and kites with flaming objects attached.
At least six said killed as large explosion rocks central Gaza
A large blast rocked the central Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least six people, witnesses and the Hamas-run health ministry said.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear, but Palestinian media reports said it was an “work accident,” a term usually used to describe the accidental detonation of explosives being prepared by one of the terror groups in the Strip.

The Ynet news site, quoting sources in Gaza, said the men, including senior members of the Hamas military wing, had been trying to dismantle an old Israeli missile that had failed to explode.

The health ministry said several bodies had been brought to a local hospital.

It identified the dead as Taher Essam Shahin, 29, Wissam Ahmed, 37,Musa Ibrahim Salman 30, Mahmoud Walid, 34, Mahmoud Mohammed al-Touashi, 27, and Mahmoud Saeed Hilmi al-Qshahawi 27. It called them all “martyrs.”

The IDF said it was unaware of the cause of blast.
New Report Warns: At Interpol, Palestinian Authority Will Pursue Political Warfare Against Israel, Domestic Opponents
The Palestinian Authority will use its recently-granted membership of Interpol — the global association of national police forces headquartered in the French city of Lyon — to both pursue its political war against Israel and harass domestic opponents of its policies, the author of a new report on the issue warned on Friday.

The decision at Interpol’s General Assembly in September 2017 to grant membership to the PA was a “serious error,” Ted R. Bromund — a senior research fellow at the Washington, DC-based Heritage Foundation — told The Algemeiner.

Earlier this week, Bromund published his extensive report on the implications of Interpol’s decision to admit the PA — itself indicative, he wrote, of “a diplomatic defeat for the United States” stemming from “the US failure to recognize that Interpol, founded as an apolitical association of police organizations, is becoming a body through which other nations pursue political agendas.”

“The PA sought Interpol membership as part of its broader political war with Israel,” Bromund said. “Palestinian spokesmen have also made it clear that they intended to abuse Interpol by using it to harass their Palestinian opponents.”

In his report, Bromund highlighted several potentially grave consequences that could arise from the PA’s Interpol membership, among them the arrest and extradition of Israeli officials to the West Bank or to the International Criminal Court. Bromund stressed that “the most likely targets are in fact Palestinian opponents of the Palestinian Authority.”
Israel withdraws from race for UN Security Council seat
Israel withdrew on Friday from the election for one of two seats on the United Nations Security Council in 2019 and 2020.

“After consulting with our partners, including our good friends, the State of Israel has decided to postpone its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council,” a statement from the Israeli mission said. “It was decided that we will continue to act with our allies to allow for Israel to realize its right for full participation and inclusion in decision-making processes at the UN.”

The statement added: “This includes the Security Council as well as an emphasis on areas related to development and innovation.”

A source at the UN told Reuters the decision to withdraw was made after Israel realized it had a very low chance of winning. Israel, Germany and Belgium were competing for two seats allocated to the Western European and Others Group.

The 193-member UN General Assembly is due to vote next month on two new members of the five-member Security Council for a two-year term starting January 1, 2019.
US fails to win UN backing for statement criticizing Abbas
The United States failed Friday to win United Nations Security Council backing for a statement rejecting as “unacceptable” remarks by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas about Jews that included “vile anti-Semitic slurs.”

Kuwait, a non-permanent council member that represents the Arab Group of countries, objected to the draft statement, arguing that Abbas had already apologized and that it was one-sided, diplomats said.

The proposed statement expressed the council’s “serious concern” about Abbas’s remarks, which “included vile anti-Semitic slurs and baseless conspiracy theories, and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East.”

It called on him to “refrain from anti-Semitic comments.”

Security Council statements are adopted by consensus of all 15 members.
10 days before embassy opens in Jerusalem, Israel still not sure if Trump coming
Ten days before the official opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli officials still do not know if US President Donald Trump will attend.

Trump surprised Jerusalem late last month when he said he was considering attending the embassy’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. During a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the White House on April 27, Trump said he “may go.”

Channel 10 news reported Friday night that a week later, neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Foreign Ministry knew whether the president was coming.

The report said authorities were taking the possibility into account in their preparations for the May 14 event.

The ceremony will be attended by 1,000 dignitaries, 250 of them American. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is set to lead the US delegation, which will include 40 members of Congress and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump.
New U.S. Ambassador to Germany calls on companies to end Iran trade
Richard Grenell, the newly confirmed US ambassador to Germany, said in an exclusive interview with Fox News on Thursday that German companies should stop trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran because Tehran sponsors terrorism.

When asked by Fox News' Martha MacCallum on her show "The Story with Martha MacCallum" about the Iran nuclear deal, Grenell, a seasoned foreign policy expert, said Iran is a "state-sponsor of terrorism, they spend billions of dollars to spread terrorism around the world. Why would a country want to do business with them? So I think it is going to be incumbent on me to explain to German businesses that they do not want to do business inside of Iran. It is just not right."

Grenell said that "there is room for German companies to stop doing business inside of Iran. We can't have that. You look at what Iran does. Their human rights records."

The European Union extended its human rights sanctions on Iran last month but declined to impose new penalties on the regime for widespread repression of civil liberties, according to human rights groups.

Grenell slammed Iran for destabilizing Syria. Iran is the main financial sponsor of Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Grenell, who was sworn in as ambassador to Germany on Thursday, is sharp critic of Iran's nuclear program and a strong supporter of the Jewish state.
Tunisia bid for Youth Olympics blocked over ban of Israelis
A bid by Tunisia to host the 2022 Youth Olympics has been blocked because the country recently banned Israeli athletes from a competition, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)S said Thursday.

“After Tunisia banned Israeli athletes from participating in a taekwondo event, the IOC has frozen all contacts with the local National Olympic Committee with regard to its candidature for the Youth Olympic Games 2022,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a statement.

"We had to address the issue of the increase in governments requesting boycotts of sport events for political reasons. Some governments abuse sport for their political purposes. This is against the mission of sport and of the Olympic Games, which bring people together and unify people regardless of any political differences,” he continued.

“These boycotts are against our essential values. We are here to watch this carefully and to act," added Bach.

In April, four young Israeli athletes were banned from competing in the taekwondo world junior championship event in Tunisia.

The competitors were banned by order of a court in the capital Tunis, which was responding to a lawsuit filed by the National Commission for Supporting Arab Resistance and Opposing Normalization and Zionism against the president of the Tunisian taekwondo federation.

Tunisia, like most Arab countries, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. (h/t Zvi)
Protester arrested for trying to hang anti-Netanyahu sign at Giro d’Italia
Police on Saturday arrested one of the organizers of a weekly demonstration against government corruption, after he tried to hang a sign protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along the route of the Giro d’Italia bicycle race in Tel Aviv.

Yishai Hadas was detained while carrying a sign reading “Crime Minister.”

Police said he was held because he planned to interfere in the race. The Giro d’Italia, one of the most prestigious road cycling races in the world which is taking place in Israel for the first time. It entered the 167-kilometer (104-mile) second stage Saturday as competitors rode down the Mediterranean coast from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

However, Israel Radio quoted Hadas’ lawyer as saying that it was to prevent the prime minister any embarrassment in the race, which has been billed as a public relations coup for Israel.

The lawyer accused police of violating his client’s right to free speech.
MEMRI: Lebanese Journalist: Hizbullah Settling In Syria As Part Of Iranian Plan To Change Its Demography
In his April 21, 2018 column in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, titled "Hizbullah Resettling in Syria," Ahmad 'Ayyash referred to the policy of transfer and forced demographic change that the Bashar Al-Assad regime has been conducting in Syria over the past several years, with the assistance of Hizbullah and its other allies. [1] According to 'Ayyash, this is actually an Iranian "settlement project," which involves expelling residents from various parts of the country and resettling these areas with Shi'ite members of Hizbullah and of other Iran-backed militias, who prevent the original residents from returning to their homes. He warned that the presence of these new settlers in Syria may not be temporary.

The following are excerpts from his column:
"Hizbullah's involvement in the Syria war is not confined to military action aimed at propping up the Syrian regime. [Its goals] extend much further than that, and have to do with an Iranian settlement project whose implementation began several years ago. The aim [of this project] is changing the demography [of Syria] by settling [it with members of] Iran-backed [Shi'ite] militias from Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries in the region.

"Naturally, the world is currently occupied with the implications of the chemical [weapons] issue, which came up again after the Assad regime used such weapons... in Douma, near Damascus. But while addressing the issue of the chemical weapons, [the world] is ignoring the ongoing plan of demographic cleansing, as part of which tens of thousands of Syrians were transferred from their homes in Ghouta to northern Syria several days ago, and thousands of others left eastern Al-Qalamun, near Damascus, [as part of a move] 'brokered by Russia'...

"[These] tens of thousands of Syrians left their ancestral homes, where their families had been living for generations, just as hundreds of thousands of [other] Syrians had previously left their homes in Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Al-Qusayr. The world is oblivious [to the fact] that Iran has been acting vigorously to fill the demographic vacuum [left by these Syrians], with Hizbullah acting as the chief executive arm of this [project]. Whoever doubts the existence of this Iranian plan can read statements made by Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to Supreme Leader [Khamenei], as quoted by the Iranian news agency Mehr. [He said]: 'The Islamic awakening on our resistance front begins in Tehran and extends to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Palestine, and will soon include Yemen as well. Were it not for Iran's support, Baghdad and Damascus would have been occupied by ISIS today, and Beirut would have been occupied by Israel.'
Turkey: Erdogan's World of Terrorists Includes Everyone but Terrorists
Anyone who freely thinks for himself regarding Turkish President Erdoğan's one-man rule, at home or abroad, can get the label "terrorist."

On April 25, a Turkish court sentenced 14 staff members of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to prison on charges of "terrorism," and handed down sentences ranging from 2½ years to 7½ years.

When Erdoğan is not fighting hundreds of millions of "terrorists," including almost the entire European continent, the U.S. and probably half his own nation, he is busy cultivating deeper ties with countries such as Russia, Sudan and Iran.
Jewish headstones smashed in Athens cemetery
Unknown assailants destroyed several Jewish headstones in a cemetery in a southwestern suburb of Athens, Greek police said Saturday, announcing they would launch an investigation.

“Marble grave headstones were damaged in the Jewish part of the Nikaia cemetery,” a police spokesman told AFP, without giving further details.

The head of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), Minos Moissis, said he was “very angry” about the desecration, in a Facebook post that included pictures of two broken headstones.

Jewish graves and Holocaust memorials have been a recurring target of vandals in Greece, often by members of the far-right.

The vandalism comes amid rising anti-Semitism in Europe, after a spate of recent incidents across the continent.
German rappers Kollegah, Farid Bang charged with hate speech
State attorneys in the western German city of Dusseldorf are investigating a scandal-laden German rap duo for hate speech, a city spokesman said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Ralf Herrenbrück told the regional daily Westdeutsche Zeitung that two hate speech charges had been made against Kollegah and Farid Bang. A Jewish person had pressed one of the charges, he said.

Prosecutors are examining the duo's lyrics from their latest album, "Junge, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3" ("Young, brutal, good looking 3"), and earlier songs as part of their investigation, Herrenbrück said.

Read more: Rappers Kollegah, Farid Bang stir controversy at Germany's biggest music awards

'Commit another Holocaust'

Both rappers have been at the center of an anti-Semitism scandal after they won a prize in April at Germany's 2018 Echo music awards.

The winning album included a song in which the rappers say their bodies are "more defined than Auschwitz inmates." In another, the duo sing: "Commit another Holocaust, come with a Molotov cocktail."

The Echo awards' organizers scrapped the event after German media, musicians and Holocaust survivor associations sharply criticized them for awarding the rap duo a prize. Some winners of previous Echos had also returned their Echo awards in protest.


Shakira to play her first Israel gig in Tel Aviv in July
Pop superstar Shakira is to play her first ever concert in Israel this summer, Hadashot TV reported Saturday night.

The show will be at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park on July 9, the report said.

The Colombian-born singer, 41, whose father’s parents immigrated to the US from Lebanon, has sold over 140 million records in her career, making her the top selling South American singer ever and one of the best selling artists of all time.

The TV report said she would likely come under pressure from the BDS movement that seeks to boycott Israel, but noted that she has been to Israel before: Shakira has never played in Israel, but she participated in Shimon Peres’s 2011 presidential conference.

Shakira said on that trip that education was the best way to achieve global stability and peace.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Peres, after meeting Israeli and Palestinian school children on her visit to Jerusalem, she said she had come to Israel to share some of her experience working in the field of education through her charity The Barefoot Foundation.
At Tribeca Film Festival, Spielberg Reflects on ‘Schindler’s List’
Shooting “Schindler’s List” took an emotional toll on director Steven Spielberg, but he got by with a little help from a friend. Spielberg told a sold-out crowd at the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that during the shoot, comedian Robin Williams would call him once a week from San Francisco.

“He would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone, and I would laugh hysterically cause I had to release so much,” Spielberg said. “But with the way Robin is on the telephone, he’d always hang up on you on the loudest best laugh you’d give him,” without even saying goodbye.

Spielberg, who was joined by other actors from the film in conversation with New York Times critic Janet Maslin — as part of The Tribeca Film Festival — responded to a recent survey showing that millennials didn’t know much about the Holocaust. Spielberg said that while he thinks a good amount of attention was paid to the Holocaust at the time of his film — and that he started the Shoah Foundation to disseminate the stories of survivors — it is up to schools to do more.

“It’s still a voluntary educational option,” Spielberg said. “It’s not a pre-requisite to graduate high school, as it should be. It should be part of the social sciences, social studies curriculum.”

As Spielberg and the cast gathered to mark the 25th anniversary of the film’s release, he said it was true that Martin Scorsese was at one point a possible director for the film — but said it was false that Mel Gibson was considered for the leading role. The role of Oskar Schindler, the man who saved 1,200 Jews from death, of course went to Liam Neeson.
Ukraine, the place Golda Meir fled from, now embraces her as a hero
Kievian tourist sites proudly declare Golda Meir as "a true daughter of Kiev" with modern Ukrainians viewing her as a role model for heroism and nation building. "For us, she is an example of a person who made great changes in the country," said Ukrainian-Jewish member of parliament Georgiy Logvinsky, who is also the head of the Ukrainian parliament Jewish committee.

"We are very proud of the fact she was born here," he said. "Ukraine today has the fourth largest Jewish community in the world and it is the only country led by a Jewish prime minister [Volodymyr Groysman]and I always hear my colleges in parliament use quotes by Golda Meir such as 'We will have peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us'. In Ukraine we are now in a state of war [with Russia, in Donbass] and we try to learn from Israel and Israeli leaders. I personally learned from Israeli leaders during my stay in Israel and that helps the Jewish community here. When she was prime minister, Meir sent a letter to Henry Kissinger who was serving as the US secretary of state and was a Jewish-American asking him to help Israel. He wrote back: 'I am an American citizen, then the state secretary, then a Jew.' She responded by saying: 'It's OK, we read from right to left.'"

"I always use this line," said Georgiy Logvinsky.

Like many of the leaders, writers and poets of the Jewish pre-state community in the land of Israel, Golda Meir was born in Kiev, Ukraine. To mark her 120th birthday I went to look for her home in number 5 Basseyna street in Kiev.

The original shack in which Meir lived is long gone, and modern offices and flats now stand there. Like most old houses in this beautiful city, the building is impressive and tasteful. One store offers expensive shoes of the sort Meir, who was raised in poverty, could only have dreamed of. A relief with her image was placed on the entrance of the building by the Jewish Agency and the city of Kiev and now adorns the entrance to the building.



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