Sunday, February 10, 2019

From Ian:

Human Rights Watch head claims Israel interfering in UK politics
Human Rights Watch has lost all legitimacy regarding Israel, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Sunday after a senior HRW official supported a conspiratorial claim that Israeli manufactured the antisemitism crisis within Britain's Labor party.

Sarah Leah Winston, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, embeded a tweet on her Twitter account on Saturday from Asa Winstanley, a writer for the Electronic Intifada website that said, We're on the cusp of a major new wave of manufactured ‘Labour antisemitism crisis’ stories, much like spring/summer 2018. Buckle up”

Above the tweet, Winston wrote, “Why is this #israel interference in domestic UK politics acceptable? Is it only a problem when Russia does this?”

Nahshon tweeted in response that HRW “has lost all legitimacy when it comes to Isarel. Obsessive hatred and conspiracy theories worthy of the worst antisemites.”

Nahshon said that it has been a “long time” since the Foreign Ministry last cooperated with the organization.

Winstanley's article on the anti-Israel Chicago-based Electronic Intifada, headlined "Israel running campaign against Jeremy Corbyn," claimed that the Israeli government operates an application that urges its users to call out Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for antisemitism.

“This is the latest evidence of an Israeli campaign of psychological warfare against the UK’s main opposition party,” he wrote.

Blair on Labour Anti-Semitism

Caroline Glick: Time for the U.S. to End Aid to Lebanon
Not only is providing direct assistance to the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese government and Armed Forces illegal under U.S. law, it is undercuts U.S. policy towards Iran. The U.S. sanctions regarding Iran and Hezbollah have diminished Iran’s ability to support Hezbollah financially. Until the sanctions were implemented, Iran’s annual support for Hezbollah totaled $700 million. That assistance has reportedly diminished as a result of the U.S. sanctions. So if continued, U.S. support for the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese government and armed forces will make up for part of the revenues Hezbollah is losing as a result of U.S. sanctions.

Continued support for Lebanon also harms America’s reputation. Quite simply, a policy that ignores Hezbollah’s control of Lebanon will diminish U.S. standing in the region, harming its ability to deter its adversaries and enemies – first and foremost Iran and Russia.

The concern that Russia will fill the void in Lebanon is real. Today, Russia’s presence in Syria not only ensures the survival of the Iranian-controlled Assad regime, but also empowers Hezbollah and Iran to exert effective control over Syria. That, in turn, massively increases the likelihood of regional war between Iran, Israel, and Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon, with the active participation of their junior partner, Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Be that as it may, it is hard to see how concern over Russian empowerment in Lebanon outweighs the obvious drawbacks of continuing the current U.S. policy of arming and training the Hezbollah-controlled LAF and financing the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese government. If the U.S ends its support, then while it is true that others may fill the void, at least American taxpayers won’t be paying salaries of their enemies.

Finally, Hezbollah’s open control over Lebanon shows that Iran already won the contest of wills relating to who will control Lebanon. The fact that it is unpleasant to acknowledge this state of affairs is no excuse for exacerbating the situation by directly financing Iran’s Lebanese proxy.
Yisrael Medad: When A Congressman Compared the Jordan River to the Mississippi
When the US Congress had no problem supporting Zionism, criticizing pro-Arab diplomacy and...comparing the Jordan River to the Mississippi River:-
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives joined today in condemning on the floor of their respective Houses the granting of independence to Transjordan. One Congressman suggested that the matter to placed before the Security Council of the UNO by the U.S. delegation.

Senator Claude Pepper, Democrat of Florida, sharply attacked British policy in Transjordan and Palestine, in a general statement in the Senate on foreign policy with particular reference to the Iranian situation. The British Mandate over Palestine “should have been repealed a long time ago,” he said.

Rep. Gordon McDonough, California Republican, urged the State Department to consult with the British Foreign Office “to assure the British that the heroic and creative Hebrew people, who have already worked such marvels in transformation in the insert of Palestine, can, by their friendship and trust, be infinitely better guarantors of western principals of peace and freedom in the Near East than can illiterate, comedic Bedonine,” McDonough asked that the American delegates to the UNO be instructed to investigate this matter in the Security Council.

Rep. Angnatua Bennett, New York Republican, compared the separation of Palestine and Transjordan to a situation that might develop should the U.S. be divided at the Mississippi. He recalled the treaty of 1924, in which Great Britain promised not change the status of Transjordan under the Mandate without the approval of the U.S. Government. “To my knowledge,” he said, “that approval has not been granted.

Senator Owen Browster, Republican of Maine, told the Senate that the State Department should “investigate the sudden creation of this new independent state of Transjordan.”

JTA, April 4, 1946.

MEMRI: Articles In Jordanian, Palestinian Authority Press: America's Moves Vis-à-vis Venezuela Are Barbaric Imperialism
U.S. President Donald Trump's official recognition of Venezuelan National Assembly President and opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's president, in place of Nicolas Maduro, evoked harsh criticism in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA), from both officials and columnists. Jordan issued no official response to the events in Venezuela, but one of its MPs called on the parliament to issue a statement of support for Maduro, saying that he merits this because of his support for the Palestinian cause. A columnist in Jordan's Al-Dustour daily harshly attacked the U.S. for the "injustices" it has committed throughout history, and called it an enemy of the peoples who was and will be the embodiment of barbaric imperialism. A columnist for the government daily Al-Rai wrote that the U.S., the head of global imperialism, constantly plots coups and assassinations like the "coup" that is currently taking place in Venezuela.

As for the PA, whereas its Foreign Ministry expressed only veiled criticism of the U.S., Fatah Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani slammed the U.S. intervention in Venezuela, calling this part of Trump's policy that seeks to impose agendas on the world and denies the will of the peoples, usurps their resources and deprives them of freedom. A columnist in the PA mouthpiece wrote that the U.S. was behind the events in Venezuela and called to support Maduro.

The following are excerpts from statements by Jordanian and PA officials and columnists on this topic.

Al-Dustour Columnist: The U.S. Is The Enemy Of The Peoples, The Embodiment Of Barbaric Imperialism

In his January 27 column in the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, Rashid Hassan, who frequently writes critically of the U.S. and Israel,[1] attacked the U.S., enumerating what he called the atrocities it has perpetrated throughout history. He also claimed that its hostility towards Venezuela is due to the latter's support of the Palestinian people and its opposition to the American hegemony and barbarity. He wrote: "The U.S. has clarified to all its short-sighted, corrupt, feeble and always cowardly [supporters] that it will never change. It will never change but rather stay as it is: an invader, a Pirate Morgan[2] and an enemy of the peoples. [It will remain the same] U.S. that exterminated more than 30 million Indians and killed three million Vietnamese, one million Iraqis and three million Afghans; the U.S. that was the first in history to use atomic bombs, to attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the U.S. which embraces the fascist Zionism, which the U.N. has condemned as a racist fascist movement; the U.S. which does not want the Palestinian people to realize its right to self-determination and an independent state, and insists on leaving [them] dispersed throughout the world or else as slaves in Netanyahu's empire; and the U.S. that recognizes occupied Arab Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity, in flagrant violation of international law.
Palestinian suspect reenacts murder of Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem forest
A Palestinian man suspected in the murder of an Israeli teenage girl reenacted the crime on Sunday at the location in a forest just outside Jerusalem where her body was found last week.

The Israel Police, Shin Bet security service and Israel Defense Forces investigating the brutal murder of Ori Ansbacher, 19, increasingly believe that Arafat Irfayia, who is said to have told investigators that he left home with a knife on the day of the killing, had a terror motive.

Irfayia, 29, has begun to cooperate with investigators, security officials said. Elements of the investigation remain under a gag order.

He was arrested in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday on suspicion of killing Ansbacher a day earlier, in a case that has sparked outrage across the country.

On Sunday Irfayia returned with police to the woods near the Ein Yael nature center on the outskirts of Jerusalem where Ansbacher was found.

Early indications are that the attack was a spontaneous act, after Irfayia ran into his victim, Channel 13 reported.

Ansbacher’s aunt Na’ama Cohen, speaking with media, said she felt sure Irfayia went looking for an Israeli to kill.
Ori Ansbacher's killer confesses and recreates scene for investigators
Security officials say that Arafat Irfaiya, 29, from Hebron has confessed to killing Ori Ansbacher, 19, and reconstructed the murder for police on Sunday ahead of his arraignment in court.

IDF troops meanwhile mapped the killer’s home ahead of its likely demolition. Troops entered Hebron before dawn on Sunday to measure the structure “to evaluate ways to demolish it,” the army said in a statement.

Irfaiya was arrested in a joint operation by the IDF, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Border Police’s Yamam counter-terrorism unit in an abandoned building near the Jamal Abdel-Nasser Mosque in el-Bireh, which adjoins Ramallah, following intelligence received by security forces.

According to reports, authorities received information that he was hiding in the mosque and proceeded to raid it on Friday evening. When Irfaiya was not found, troops confiscated security camera footage from the neighborhood and returned later that night to conduct a second raid on a nearby abandoned building, where he was arrested without putting up a struggle.

The knife he is believed to have used in the murder was found during the arrest.
Justice minister urges death penalty for suspect in Jerusalem murder
A senior Israeli minister told prosecutors on Saturday to pursue the death penalty for a Palestinian suspect in the grisly murder of an Israeli teen in Jerusalem last week.

Arafat Irfayia, 29, was arrested Friday on suspicion of killing Ori Ansbacher, 19, in a wooded area of southern Jerusalem on Thursday, in a case that has sparked outrage across the country.

Authorities suspect Irfayia may had a nationalistic motive, according to Hebrew-language press reports, but are also probing if the attack was sexual in nature.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Channel 13 news Saturday that “the military prosecution needs to ask for the death penalty.”

Shaked and other ministers have insisted that the murder was a terror attack, though most details of the incident have been kept under gag order.

“We should not hide the truth,” she told the news channel. “He killed Ori because she was a Jewish girl.”
Netanyahu: 'Pay-for-slay' law will be implemented next week
Let there be no doubt that Israel will deduct money that the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists and their families from the tariffs and duties it collects monthly on behalf of the PA and transfers to Ramallah, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that by the end of the week, the “necessary staff work will be completed to implement the law” to deduct the money from the amount transferred to the PA.

“Next Sunday I will convene the security cabinet and we will make the necessary decision to offset the funds. The money will be deducted, no one should have any doubt about it,” he said.

The PA has acknowledged that its annual budget for these payments in both 2017 and 2018 was NIS 1.2 billion.

It said last week that if Israel deducts the funds, the PA will not accept any of the money Israel transfers to it under terms of the Oslo Accords – more than $100 million a month.

On July 7, the Knesset passed legislation introduced by Avi Dichter (Likud) and Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) requiring the Defense Ministry to inform the security cabinet of how much the PA pays in “welfare payments to terrorists and their families,” which will then be deducted from the amount Israel transfers to the PA each month.

This legislation followed passage of the Taylor Force Act in the US, which ended most US assistance to the Palestinians unless the PA stops payments to terrorist and their families, so called “pay-to-slay.”
IDF readies to raze home of Jerusalem murder suspect, indicating terror motive
The Israeli military on Sunday began preparing to demolish the home of a Palestinian man suspected of murdering a 19-year-old Israeli woman in Jerusalem last week, further indicating that security forces believe the gruesome killing was terrorist in nature.

Arafat Irfayia, 29, was arrested in Ramallah on Friday on suspicion of killing Ori Ansbacher in a wooded area of southern Jerusalem on Thursday, in a case that has sparked outrage across the country.

In the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning, the Israel Defense Forces entered Irfayia’s home in the West Bank city of Hebron in order to measure the structure “to evaluate ways to demolish it,” the army said.

The Israel Police, Shin Bet security service and IDF are still investigating the grisly murder, but increasingly suspect that Irfayia had a nationalistic motive.
PMW: PA minister ignores brutal murder of young Israeli woman but criticizes Israel for searching in mosque for murderer
Three days ago, a 19-year-old Israeli woman, Ori Ansbacher, was stabbed several times and brutally murdered in Jerusalem. DNA from the scene led Israel to the Palestinian, 29-year-old Arafat Arfiah, who was captured after soldiers entered a mosque and seized footage from its security camera.

PA Minister of Religious Affairs Yusuf Ida'is completely ignored the fact that a young Israeli woman had been attacked, stabbed, and murdered by a Palestinian, but was quick to "condemn" Israel's entering the mosque to search for the terrorist as an "attack," according to the PA's official daily. Moreover, not only was there no reference to the murder in the minister's quote, this entire article in the official PA daily did not even mention the terror attack and murder as the context of Israel's search to the mosque.

Absurdly, the minister complained that the Israeli soldiers' entrance into the mosque lacked "any consideration for its sanctity and its religious and spiritual value." Concerned about "sanctity" and "spiritual values," he didn't even mention the innocent 19-year-old Israeli victim:
"[PA] Minister of Religious Affairs Yusuf Ida'is condemned the attack against the sanctity of the Jamal Abd Al-Nasser Mosque under baseless and unacceptable pretexts. Ida'is said in a press statement that this cowardly attack against a religious and sacred place of worship, without any consideration for its sanctity and its religious and spiritual value, constitutes part of a series of daily attacks against our Islamic and Christian holy sites, and particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the pearl of Palestine, by the occupation forces and unbridled settlers and under political cover of the right-wing occupation government." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 9, 2019]

The headline did not mention the murder either, but focused solely on the "occupation's raid":
"The occupation raided the Jamal Abd Al-Nasser Mosque, the Sateh Marhaba neighborhood and Al-Quds Street in El-Bireh"

Media reports in Israel have stated that the Palestinian has confessed to the murder, but that it is not yet clear based on his statement if it was nationalistically motivated - meaning an act of terror -or criminally motivated.
At lightning speed
Indeed the killer was located very quickly, the result of the forensic findings in the field and the Shin Bet's technological and operational abilities, which allowed them to get to the killer by Friday evening. He was found in an abandoned building in Ramallah, where he had escaped to after spending a few hours hiding out in a mosque next to his work.

The investigation into the killer, Arafat Irfaiya, stalled because he required medical treatment for injuries sustained during his arrest. From the initial details, it seems the entire incident unfolded at random. While the murderer did leave his home in Hebron with a knife – not an unusual detail in and of itself – he only decided to harm Ansbacher upon encountering her. As of Saturday night, the Shin Bet has been unable to determine whether Irfaiya intended to murder Ansbacher as soon as he saw her or if he was dragged into the act. The Shin Bet has also yet to ascertain whether Ansbacher's murder was the result of a criminal attack that went wrong or whether she was killed simply for being Jewish. Past incidents have shown that this likely a combination of factors; a criminal incident that is tied to a nationalistic motive.

At 29, the killer is relatively older, and he has a security past. He was detained in 2009 after exhibiting suspicious behavior in the vicinity of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. A search of his belongings uncovered a knife, and he was sentenced to a few months in prison. There is no information that points to Irfaiya having engaged in criminal or terrorist activity following his release. The Shin Bet will now try to ascertain whether or not he belongs to a terrorist organization, although the details of the case thus far indicate he acted alone.

Ansbacher is the first terrorist victim of 2019. In recent months, security forces have escalated their activity in Judea and Samaria and the Jerusalem periphery following an uptick in attacks. But along with the relative calm that has been achieved, this has also led to security forces being spread thin. Yet it is doubtful if more expansive activity could have prevented this fatal encounter.

The 40th Anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Khomeini's regime also still scores highest in the world when it comes to executing people per capita. According to Amnesty International, Iran leads the entire world in the number of children it executes. Despite hopes that the violence and hatred would eventually diminish, instead, during the last 40 years, the regime's promotion of anti-Christian and anti-Semitic sentiments has continued to spread and grow.

Even more surprising than Iran's flourishing indifference to the rule of law is that some Western politicians and governments have attempted, and are still attempting, to appease this inhumane regime. Former President Obama led the charge to lift four rounds of established UN sanctions against the ruling mullahs, and famously -- with no quid pro quo -- reportedly gave the mullahs at least $150 billion; under Director of National Intelligence James Clapper removed Iran and Hezbollah from list of terror threats to U.S. interests, and sidestepped sanctions to give Iran secret access to the US financial system. The mullahs, not surprisingly, used it to promote terrorism, fund their Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and advance their aggression.

Currently, the European Union is trying to come up with new mechanisms to circumvent US sanctions and make it easier to continue trading with Iran's regime.

Forty years of the Iranian regime should be a sufficient lesson for the international community to make clear that appeasing the Iranian leaders will do exactly nothing either to protect the people of Iran or the global community. Concessions, for the ruling mullahs, only translate as weakness: they will seize any opening as an opportunity to increase their power. The only language to which the fundamentalist regime will respond is economic, political and, if necessary, military pressure.

As long as powerful governments continue to coddle the current regime, eruptions of violence and crimes against humanity will continue.

Will the global community just stand back and do nothing for another 40 years?
Mossad, MI6 smuggled Iranian nuclear scientist to the UK - Report
Mossad, British secret services and the CIA extracted an Iranian nuclear scientist out of Tehran and provided him with a safe haven in the US, the Daily Mail reported on Sunday.

The Iranian scientist is thought to have been smuggled into the UK on an inflatable boat alongside other Iranian migrants who crossed over to Lydd at the beginning of 2019.

The plan is said to have been drawn up in October when the Mossad helped the 47-year-old technician escape to Turkey, and from that location he joined the flux of Iranian immigrants attempting to reach the UK.

The BBC reported that the influx of Iranian migrants into the UK has increased recently due to a decision by the Serbian government to accept Iranian tourists without asking for a visa. This was meant to increase tourism and trade between the Islamic Republic and Serbia but also enabled some Iranians to escape into Europe.

"It was determined infiltrating him into a group of fellow migrants preparing to cross the Channel by boat offered one solution," a British secret service official told the Daily Mail.

Once in the UK, the man was questioned about the current status of the Iranian nuclear program and flown to the US. The scientist reportedly also helped with the 2012 assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. The Mossad has long been suspected of standing behind the assassination.

Israel is said to have launched a secret operation to dissuade scientists from taking part in the Iranian nuclear program by eliminating those it deemed valuable. Israel has never confirmed or denied such claims.

Rabbis for Human Rights Helps World Council of Churches Engage in Damage Control
Almost fifteen years ago, the Israeli nonprofit Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) lambasted the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) for demonizing Israel. It happened after the PCUSA passed a divestment resolution at its General Assembly in 2004. In addition to calling on the church’s money managers to divest from the Jewish state, the resolution portrayed Israel as singularly responsible for the suffering caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In response to this outrage, RHR published a letter condemning the church for failing to offer “one word of criticism to the government of the Palestinian Authority despite its manifest multitude of profound sins against God and the Human Rights of Palestinians and Jews.” RHR also condemned the PCUSA for ignoring “the homicidal ideologies that have so sadly taken hold among some of our Palestinian neighbors.”

The letter closed with a call for the PCUSA to repent of its actions and to rethink its “relationship with the Jewish People and their State.” It was one of the most principled and unequivocal condemnations of Christian antisemitism to come down the pike since BDS became all the rage in mainline Protestant churches.

The folks at RHR must have lost this letter in their archives, because these days they are defending — not rebuking — another Christian institution that is facilitating in the same process of demonization that the PCUSA engaged in a decade and a half ago. To make matters worse, the group’s president, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, engaged in the same type of one-sided discourse that RHR condemned in 2004.
BDS attempts to derail proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel and South Africa
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and South Africa’s biggest dairy producer Clover could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.

Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.

The deal would buy out Clover for $354 million - an estimated NIS 1.2 million - and bring a much needed financial boost to South Africa’s struggling economy and Clover, which has run into financial difficulties.

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa (BDS SA) has vehemently opposed the possible deal, accusing CBC of being “complicit” in human rights abuses and violating international law. It also threatened a “militant but peaceful campaign” if the deal goes through.

CBC is Israel’s leading manufacturer and distributor of popular beverages including Coca-Cola, Fuze Tea and other well-known drinks.

Following the announcement of the proposed deal last week, CBC chief executive Aran Oelsner said in a statement that "Clover is one of South Africa's best-loved brands and we are excited at the opportunity to build on its heritage.

Finnish volunteers in SS units took part in WWII Nazi atrocities, Finland says
Finnish volunteer soldiers serving in the Nazi Waffen-SS units on the eastern front in World War II took part in the massacres of Jews, Russian prisoners of war, and civilians generally during the German march eastward through Ukraine and into the Caucasus from 1941 to 1943, a new report from the Finnish State Archives reveals.

“The sub-units and men of SS-Division Wiking engaged during the march into the Soviet Union and the drive through Ukraine and the Caucasus were involved in numerous atrocities,” the report, made public on Friday, relates.

“The diaries and recollections by the Finnish volunteers show that practically everyone among them must, from the very beginning, have been aware of the atrocities and massacres.”

A total of 1,408 Finns volunteered in the Waffen-SS from 1941 to 1943. They served in the well-armed 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, one of the 38 divisions of the Waffen-SS distinguished by its complement of volunteer recruits from an assortment of northern European nations stretching from Estonia to Belgium and including the Scandinavian countries.

The path of the Wiking division’s advance through western Ukraine and into the Caucasus during this period reads like a litany of Nazi killing fields of Jews and others.
‘We Fled From Antisemitism’: French Jewish Woman Recalls Her Family’s 2017 Ordeal in Major TV Interview
A French Jewish woman has spoken in public for the first time about her family’s harrowing experiences with antisemitism in the Paris neighborhood where they lived for nearly a decade, in an interview with one of France’s most popular talk shows.

49-year-old “Stella,” who is married with children, spoke with Europe 1 host Olivier Delacroix on Thursday about two antisemitic episodes in 2017 that, she said, had driven the family out of their home. Now, Stella said, she and her husband continually debate whether their family should make aliyah to Israel.

For nine years, Stella and her family lived in a house in the suburb of Romainville, which lies about five miles to the east of central Paris. “We felt good, we never had the least concerns,” she said. “We loved the neighborhood, everything was always open on a Sunday, we knew all the store owners.”

Life for the family changed dramatically in March 2017, when they awoke one morning to find that their house had been ransacked while they slept. To her shock, Stella learned from the police forensics team dispatched to their home that the intruders had gained entry through their daughter’s bedroom window. Much as the family wanted to believe that they were the targets of a routine burglary — “one that could happen to any family,” as Stella put it — only a few items were actually stolen from the house. More suspicious was the spectacle of family photographs taken in Israel that had been ripped up and scattered on the floor.

Shaken by the invasion of their home, Stella and her family took a ten-day vacation in April. Shortly after their return in early May, Stella was preparing to drive her daughter to school when she saw to her horror that the word “Juifs” — ”Jews” — had been scrawled in large letters on the driver’s side of the family car.
Jewish cemetery desecrated in Manchester
The Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England, was vandalized on Saturday, during which the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, who died last year, was desecrated.

Local police in Manchester's Whitefield neighborhood declared the vandalism a criminal act rather than antisemitic, basing their conclusion on copper having been stolen from a bathroom on the cemetery grounds.

MP Ivan Lewis reacted to the desecration, calling it "an absolute disgrace."
20 swastikas spray-painted near Bondi Beach in Australia
More than 20 swastikas have been spray-painted on a mural and a shopping center near the iconic Bondi Beach in the Australian city of Sydney, with local officials and Jewish groups condemning the incident as an “expression of blatant racism.”

The Nazi symbol was daubed in gold paint in the early morning hours of Sunday, Australian media reported.

Police in the state of New South Wales (NSW) said in a statement that “officers from Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command attended and found a section of the mural wall had been defaced with approximately 20 symbols.”

A short time later three more were located at a shopping center at Bondi Junction.

Vic Alhadeff, head of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, released a statement condemning the graffiti.

“The swastika represents the ultimate in race hatred and the people of Bondi and indeed all Australians of goodwill will stand together in condemning this shocking display. The Jewish community is appalled at this expression of blatant racism,” he said.
The Jews of Dubai are on the map
They have lived in the country under the radar for many years, but the Jews of the United Arab Emirates are now officially recognized - and their existence has been revealed - by the government for the first time.

On the occasion of the historic arrival of Pope Francis in the United Arab Emirates - the first visit by a Catholic pope to the Arabian Peninsula – the country is also publishing the book "Celebrating Tolerance," which mentions all of the UAE's religions – Muslims, Armenians, Buddhists, Copts, Hindus and Jews.

The book's preface was penned by UAE Minister of Tolerance Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, effectively giving a government sanction to the recognition of local Judaism.

In Abu Dhabi, the Pope attended a conference promoting moderate Islam, to which 150 religious leaders from all over the world were invited.

Among the invitees was Rabbi Mark Schneier, head of the Jewish-Muslim Interfaith Foundation in the US. Schneier is a common sight in the palaces of the Persian Gulf, and serves as advisor to kings and princes of the region. He was also among the writers of the newly released book.

During the visit, Rabbi Schneier met for the first time with the Jewish community in Dubai, which has until now operated under the radar. "They meet every Shabbat in a synagogue that is located in a private house, with an ark and a Torah scroll, and they perform kiddush," said Schneier. "They have a chairman but not a rabbi. But now thanks to the official recognition, there are talks about establishing a proper synagogue, a kosher and even a mikveh (ritual bath)."

According to Schenier, there is a thriving Jewish community already in existence in the Persian Gulf.
How an Israeli with cerebral palsy enlisted in the IDF
Roi Schiffman is not your average IDF recruit. Despite the odds Schiffman - who was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that causes partial paralysis - was drafted into the IDF on Thursday.

"We decided to raise Roi like any a normal child and expose him to anything and everything that other children his age are exposed to," Schiffman's father said.

"Our dream was to see Roi become a soldier in the Israeli army just like everybody else," said Roi’s mother."Our dream was to see Roi become a soldier in the Israeli army just like everybody else," said Roi’s mother.

For the past two years Schiffman, who is wheelchair-bound, volunteered at the Palmahim Air Force Base. He was helped by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s "Special in Uniform" program, which aids youths with disabilities integrate into the IDF.

"I am an officer on an air force base, and it's the greatest time in my life," Schiffman said regarding his volunteer work.

Schiffman excelled during his volunteer experience and caught the attention of former defense minister Avigdor Liberman, who later helped Schiffman obtain an official draft notice from the IDF.

"Our dream was to see Roi become a soldier in the Israeli Army just like everybody else," said Schiffman's mother. “Being a part of Special in Uniform was a privilege, and Roi wanted to be drafted into his service from a military induction center, just like everybody else."

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