Wednesday, December 26, 2018

From Ian:

Army finds, destroys fifth attack tunnel from Lebanon
The Israeli military announced Wednesday it had discovered a new cross-border attack tunnel from Lebanon, the fifth such subterranean passage it has uncovered since launching an operation to destroy the Hezbollah-dug tunnels.

The latest tunnel was dug from Ayta ash Shab, a village across the border from the farming community of Shtula, and entered Israeli territory, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The IDF said the tunnel was found “a number of days ago” and has now been destroyed.

“A short while ago, the tunnel was neutralized by an explosion,” it said in a statement.

Regional council heads and the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Syria were notified ahead of the explosion, the military said.

The statement did not mention Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group Israel has accused of digging the other tunnels.

The IDF reiterated it holds Lebanon’s government responsible for the cross-border tunnels.

“This is another blatant violation of UN Resolution 1701 and of Israeli sovereignty,” it said, referring to a UN Security Council resolution ending the 2006 Lebanon War, that requires all armed groups besides the Lebanese military to remain north of the country’s Litani River.

The military also said it would continue its efforts to locate and destroy attack tunnels from Lebanon.

The announcement by the military comes a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military was close to wrapping up the operation to find and eliminate the tunnels.

IsraellyCool: Linda Sarsour’s Monumental Christmas Screw-up
In a Merry Christmas message on Facebook to her followers, Israel-hater Linda Sarsour seems to have messed up. Big time (hat tip: Kweansmom).

You read that correctly. In that short message, Sarsour admits a whole bunch of things:

Jesus was Jewish (not a palestinian Arab as so many antisemites and Israel haters claim)
Jesus was a person of color. So much for the Jews are White. But in Sarsour’s defense, she has shown she has a hard time keeping track of her colors.
The word “Palestinian” used to apply to the Jews
There were Jews in the Holy Land at least in the time of Jesus – well before the Muslim conquest of the area.
She does realize Jesus was a “Zionist”, right? And that if he was alive today, he could be lynched if he wandered into the palestinian-controlled areas?

Thank you, Linda, for this gift. It’s like all our Christmases came at once
Ben & Jerry's political flavor doesn't suit all Israelis
Some Israelis want to boycott Ben & Jerry's for supporting left-wing US groups, while abroad BDS activists urge boycotting the ice cream because the brand operates in Israel.

In October, just before the US midterm elections, Ben & Jerry's launched a new ice cream flavor - Pecan Resist - chocolate and fudge mixed with pecans. The company said that it was part of a campaign to "lick injustice and celebrate those fighting to create a more just and equal country for all of us."

And who is creating the injustice and inequality, you might ask? Well, President Donald Trump of course. The company said, we cannot remain silent over the President's policies that are attacking and pushing back decades of progress on issues like racial and sexual equality, climate change, LGBT rights and immigrant and refugees rights - all issues that have always been at the core of our social mission for 40 years."

Pecan Resist was mainly launched to raised awareness among US voters and encourage them to vote. But the launch was also accompanies by announcement that Ben & Jerry's was donating $25,000 to each of four organizations spearheading the opposition to Trump. While many on the right in the US called for a boycott of Ben & Jerry's, Israeli ire was focused on women's rights organization Women's March, one of the four NGO's receiving Ben & Jerry's philanthropic bucks. One of the founders and co-chairs of Women's March is Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American liberal activist who has become a divisive figure in the Jewish community due to her anti-Israel activism and support of BDS.



Resolution Declaring Madrid ‘Space Free of Israeli Apartheid’ Fails in City Assembly
A resolution calling for the Spanish capital of Madrid to become a “Space Free of Israeli Apartheid” has been rejected by the city’s assembly, the Spanish Zionist group ACOM announced on Friday.

Introduced by the far-left Podemos party, the measure also urged the city to cooperate with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

The resolution was opposed by the three remaining parties in the 129-seat assembly, namely the conservative People’s Party — the body’s largest faction — as well as the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Citizens Party.

“All the political forces have united against Podemos in an act of democratic responsibility that we must celebrate,” ACOM said.

The group denounced the proposed measure as “a flagrant gesture of incitement of hatred against Jews,” warning that it aimed to prevent any commercial activity in Madrid with Israeli people or companies — thereby turning the center of Spain’s social, political, and economic life into “a ghetto that excludes the citizens of the Jewish state and every one that supports them.”

“ACOM is worried that if [these types] of initiatives are approved in Madrid other institutions might copy them, spreading this serious affront to human rights,” it added.

Dozens of Spanish city councils and private institutions have endorsed the boycott campaign or declared themselves “Free of Israeli Apartheid” in recent years, a reflection of a concentrated push by BDS activists affiliated with left-wing parties.
Despite media narrative, Palestinians are far from ‘woke’
Here’s the headline accompanying a Dec. 25th Independent article about Palestinian reaction to upcoming Israeli elections, written by their Mid-East correspondent Bel Trew.

At first glance, the headline likely wouldn’t seem controversial. However, if you reflect upon the assumption of the text, you can see an illustration of a larger pattern of media bias in their coverage the region. The headline is culled from a paragraph in which a Palestinian Christian named Sami laments the prospects for peace and a two-state solution if another Likud government is formed – a government the Indy reporter described as “the most right-wing” in Israeli history.

Leaving aside the question regarding whether the current government is indeed the most right-wing in history, this framing, which permeates the article, sets up a dichotomy between putatively ‘far-right’ Israelis – in the context of a media which normally uses the word “right” as a pejorative – and, presumably, the more ‘progressive’ Palestinians who “fear” Israel’s dangerous rightward lurch.

Though this political contrast is the subtext of the article, Trew never explicitly assigns an ideology to the Palestinians, which is consistent with the manner in which reporters refrain from analyzing the ideology of Palestinians and their leaders – an omission nurtured by the tendency to view Palestinians as victims only, devoid of agency. The media frame the conflict almost exclusively in terms of what Israel does or doesn’t do, which denies news consumers a fuller understanding of the conflict.

If journalists were to take Palestinian views and decisions seriously, their readers would see that Palestinians and their leaders are far more ‘right-wing’ than Israelis and their leaders on matters ranging from the treatment of women, support for violence and attitudes towards minorities. Polls from Pew Global and Anti-Defamation League (in 2013 and 2014) reveal the following:

40% of Palestinians think suicide bombing is sometimes justified.
89% of Palestinians think homosexuality is immoral.
89% of Palestinians think women must always “obey” their husband.
89% of Palestinians favor the imposition of sharia law into their society.
45% of Palestinians think honour killings are sometimes justifiable.
93% of Palestinians hold antisemitic views.

Palestinians, it seems, are not quite the peace and social justice warriors of media lore. They are arguably ‘far-right’, and certainly far from ‘woke’.
BBC News recycles seven month-old misinformation
In the early hours of December 26th the BBC News website published a short report headlined “Syria military says Israel strikes hit Damascus weapons depot“.

The BBC was unable to provide its audiences with much factual information on the story, the details of which are still unclear.
“Loud explosions have been heard close to Syria’s capital Damascus overnight, in what the Syrian military says were Israeli air strikes on a weapons depot.

A Syrian military official told state media the depot was hit, and three soldiers were injured. Syria said most of the missiles were intercepted.

Israel has not confirmed the strikes. It said it activated its air defence systems to bring down a Syrian missile.”


Readers did however find the following opaque statement:
“Israel has on numerous occasions targeted Iranian and Hezbollah sites in Syria that it regards as threats to its own security.” [emphasis added]

No effort was made to provide BBC audiences with the essential background information concerning Iran’s transfers of weapons and military equipment to the terror group Hizballah via Syria in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701. Readers were likewise not informed of the relevant context of the build-up of Iranian and Iranian sponsored military forces in Syria.
A New York Suburb Uses Zoning to Keep Jews Out
Even before its formal incorporation as a municipality, the town of Airmont in Rockland County, New York has sought to keep Orthodox Jews from moving in by manipulating its zoning laws to make their lives difficult. Hiram Sasser, who has represented local Jews’ anti-discrimination claims in court, writes:

Airmont was born in bigotry. In the mid-1980s, an organization called the Airmont Civic Association (ACA) pushed for [its] incorporation, which came in 1991. Almost immediately, the federal government filed suit against the new town, alleging it had been formed for the purpose of excluding Jewish citizens through zoning restrictions on their places of worship.

In 1987, legal testimony revealed that ACA’s original president, James Filenbaum, had openly stated that “the reason [for] forming this village is to keep people like you out of this neighborhood.” He was directing his comments toward Jews.

Over the past several months, attorneys . . . who have been investigating claims of discrimination by Airmont’s Orthodox Jewish residents confirmed that, indeed, village officials are up to their intolerant tricks again. In fact, their zoning ordinances, approval process, and associated fines are so egregious, it will likely take multiple lawsuits to sort through them fully. . . .

One, filed this week, seeks to recover the thousands [of dollars] rabbis have spent trying to get permission to pray with others in their own home, along with punitive damages to prevent this [kind of discrimination] from happening again. The other, filed late last month, seeks $25 million in damages from the village for the discriminatory impact its zoning scheme has had on the local school. . . . One rabbi even faced the prospect of a year in jail for simply welcoming his neighbors into his home for prayer.
French Police Launch Search for ‘Yellow Vest’ Protesters Who Accosted Elderly Jewish Woman on Paris Metro
French police opened an investigation on Wednesday into allegations that an elderly Jewish woman was subjected to antisemitic invective while traveling on the Paris Metro last weekend, after she approached three supporters of the “yellow vests” social protest movement with a request to stop their abusive chants and gestures.

France’s interior minister, Christophe Castaner, described the incident as “vile and unbearable,” and promised that “everything will be done to identify these individuals.”

“They must answer for their abject acts,” Castaner wrote on Twitter as reports of the incident emerged on Sunday.

Since the appearance of the mass “yellow vests” protests in mid-November — named for the reflective yellow jackets worn by its participants, who initially came together to protest a now-withdrawn government fuel tax — concerns have risen about the violent behavior of some of the movement’s supporters, along with the infiltration of antisemitic elements from the far-left and right. A number of antisemitic and anti-Zionist signs have been spotted at the demonstrations, along with hundreds of similar posts by “yellow vests” supporters on social media.
UMass student asked to remove ‘F*** Nazis’ sign because it’s not inclusionary
A University of Massachusetts student was asked to remove a sign from her dorm window saying “F*** Nazis, you are not welcome” because it did not foster a sense of inclusion.

Nicole Parsons, a junior, said she put up the sign following an incident in which a swastika was scrawled over a Happy Hanukkah sign on campus, BuzzFeed News reported Sunday.

“I thought maybe if I hang the sign up, maybe the person who drew the swastika will see it and see someone condemning their actions, even if the administration doesn’t do it,” she told BuzzFeed.

However, she soon received an email from a residence director informing her that although the sign was “permitted under Freedom of Speech,” he would “also like to discuss the impact on the community that this sign has had.”

“There are some in the community who have expressed that the sign should be taken down as it has created mixed emotions in the community on how to proceed, issues of inclusion, and the ability to be active members of their community,” the RA, Eddie Papazoni, wrote. “While Residence Education cannot force you or your roommate to take the sign down, I am asking that you or your roommate take the sign down so that all students can be a part of an inclusive residential experience, as well as having a respectful environment to be a part of here on our campus.”
The Goldene Medina exhibition at Hebrew U portraying SA Jewry
The Goldene Medina exhibition showing the history of South African Jewry, which began 175 years ago with the arrival of Litvaks and Anglo/German Jewish settlers who were fleeing antisemitism and poverty in Europe, is on display at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus. South African Jews developed into a strong, prosperous, and very unified minority in the vastly multi-tribal South African society. Still today the South African Jewish community is known for its Zionism and unmatched support of Israel.

Professor Gideon Shimoni of the Department of Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem explains why: “The vast majority of South African Jews came from Lithuania where Zionism was very strong and they brought that along in their baggage."
6 archaeology stories from 2018 that made me rethink my world
Turning swords into plowshares, a small group of United States military veterans spent several weeks this summer at Israel’s Beit She’arim National Park archaeological excavation. Unlike many who join seasonal excavations, the former military personnel were as much digging for healing as for artifacts.

While reporting on the field of archaeology, I have been privileged to cover many important finds that may shift the way we understand the ancient world. In this case, it is the very act of looking that shifts the way the veterans see the world today.

In a Skype conversation with Stephen Humphreys, founder of the American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR), the former US Airforce aircraft maintenance officer said, “As soon as I touched the dirt, I fell in love.”

In my September article, “US vets combat PTSD by sifting through the past at archaeological dig in Israel,” Humphreys said that for his former troops, coming to a land where military service is still largely compulsory helped his veterans feel normal again. Likewise, they felt at home with Israel’s notoriously brusque communication style.

But it was while physically digging into the past that the US veterans’ traumatic experiences in the Middle East (most served in Iraq or Afghanistan) began to recede.

The Beit She’arim dig is headed by Haifa University’s Dr. Adi Erlich and Rona Evyasaf. It is a community excavation open to all — from children to the elderly. The only prerequisite is a desire to work, said Erlich. So the team of veterans found itself alongside Israelis from all walks of life — Jews, Arabs — washing dishes, digging, pushing wheelbarrows.

While being careful to minimize the hype, Humphreys described the excavation as a very healing experience.

Archaeologist Erlich agreed: “I see that excavation, the physical work, dirt, is very good for processing experiences. It’s a way to forget yourself in the past, and understand you’re a very small part in a larger cosmos.”

Here are five other stories from 2018 which made me rethink my world.
‘And who by fire’: To the loving memory of Rona Ramon
It is time to share these thoughts that I have held in my heart for nine long years.

A week ago, Rona Ramon passed away after a struggle with cancer. Although we never met, Rona held a unique place in my heart; I knew her in a way that no one else could have known a mother.

Rona lost her husband, Ilan, the first Israeli astronaut, in the 2003 disaster of the Columbia space shuttle. But my own connection with Rona’s story came about six years later, in 2009. It was a few days before Rosh Hashana, when around 10:00 p.m., I heard on the news that an Israeli military plane had crashed. I felt my heart skip a beat, since I serve in an IDF unit that is charged with identifying the remains of combat victims. When my phone rang, I knew who was calling even before I recognized the IDF caller-number. I was needed.

An hour later, I was issued my uniform and my orders, and joined my unit. To identify the bodies of the dead is a job that no one should ever have to do, in or out of the army; the soldiers I was assigned to work with were being given an unspeakable burden. Looking around me, I saw a unique group of humans who share one thing: all of us were living “outside the camp” – like the lepers we read about in Scripture. There were ultra-Orthodox who had volunteered for a few months; some settlers who live as if we are writing a new chapter of the Bible; a few ex-Hasidim, like me, trying (and mostly failing) to understand how to be an Israeli, outside the secure walls of the ultra-Orthodox world; some looking like secular Israelis, although their bodies still moved like yeshiva students. Clearly, not a single one of these men would have chosen this dark service; it was as if the military system had used our broken hearts to convince us to fulfill this holy and horrible role.



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