Sunday, June 02, 2019

From Ian:

A glimpse of 19th century Jerusalem
What did Jerusalem look like 150 years ago? It seems we are the first generation to be able to answer this question with any degree of certainty, thanks to prints that have been preserved in the National Library, from the early days of photography in the Land of Israel.

The last few decades of the 19th century saw large surges of visiting tourists, researchers and pilgrims who explored the Holy Land as part of a predetermined route of tourist sites in the Near East. Most did not have cameras, which were heavy and cumbersome devices in those days. The Orient and the spirit of the Bible which they wished to absorb are clearly visible in the pictures produced by the few professional photographers who worked here. The most famous of these was Félix Bonfils.

The landscapes are vast and empty, perhaps because of the difficulties involved in photographing passers-by. Cameras of the period used special glass plates, which were coated with light-sensitive chemicals, a technique that required long exposure. In certain cases, when the composition demanded it, 19th-century citizens of Jerusalem can indeed be spotted in the pictures, resembling extras on an elaborate and majestic movie set.

52 years later: Israel and the superpowers
The welcome news that Russia decided to forego its sale of S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria reminds many of newspaper headlines from 52 years ago, which incidentally also appeared around the festive Shavuot holiday. The main photograph in the Maariv daily was of an SM-2 surface-to-air missile, captured during the Six-Day War. The particularly long missile was dubbed “a flying electric pole,” which accelerates at great speeds toward its high-altitude target. This missile, together with its more advanced models – the SA-3 and SA-6 – downed a large number of Israeli planes throughout the War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War.

Many years have passed, and the balance of power between Israel and its neighbors has shifted considerably: Israel now has complete air superiority and the risk of losing aircraft is negligible. While there is no room for complacency, the current reality is utterly different. The air force and other military branches are developing anti-missile and radar systems, which greatly reduce the potency of the Russian-made SA-300.

The latest news illustrates that Russia of today is not the Soviet Union of 50 years ago, nor is it the Russia of the previous decade. The willingness to convene a joint security summit in Israel (not a “peace summit”), with senior American counterparts, enhances Israel’s standing.

Two days before the outbreak of the Six-Day War, France was still an ally of Israel. However, then-French President Charles de Gaulle chose to impose an embargo that effectively quashed the sale of French planes and weapons to Israel and mainly spare parts for equipment. This crisis gave birth to Israel’s independent development of weapons systems, including the Merkava tank, and the Nesher and Kfir fighter jets. This, essentially, was the backdrop for the tremendous growth spurt of Israel’s defense industry. The Soviet Union, for its part, continued arming Arab countries without restraint.

Amid the backdrop of the current diplomatic developments – the strengthening of Israel-U.S. ties; the special relationship between Israel and Russia; recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which was captured in the Six-Day War; the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and other achievements – I recall the words of then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who said: “We’re happy where we now stand.”
California Democrats soften resolutions critical of Israel
The Resolutions Committee of the California Democratic Party substantially rewrote draft resolutions fiercely critical of Israel that were put forth by far-left Democrats in California for the state party’s convention.

Four of the rewritten resolutions were passed by the committee on Friday at the party’s state convention in San Francisco, and two were withdrawn, J. The Jewish News of Northern California reported Sunday.

The original authors of the four passed resolutions withdrew their names and co-sponsorships due to the significant changes, according to the report. (JTA has yet to obtain the text of the revised resolutions.)

One resolution, authored by David Mandel, a state Assembly delegate from the Sacramento area who reportedly holds dual US-Israel citizenship, suggested that the Israeli government is partly responsible for the atmosphere inspiring last October’s massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Other resolutions urged a rollback of US President Donald Trump’s Israel policies including recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights; condemned Israel for clashes with Palestinians in Gaza without mentioning provocations or attacks by the Hamas leadership there; and directed party officials to take a subsidized trip to Israel only if they spend the same amount of time visiting Palestinian villages and leaders.

Democratic Majority for Israel, a lobbying group that calls itself “the voice of pro-Israel Democrats,” praised the California Democratic Party in a statement Friday for rejecting the one-sided resolutions attacking Israel.

New Book Documents Ties Between BDS Campaign and Terror Groups
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs just released an electronic “book
,” documenting the ties between the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and Palestinian terror groups.

The book, written by Dan Diker and Adam Shay lays out the connection between Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)—effectively the clearinghouse in the United States for all BDS activity—and BDS National Committee (BNC), based in the West Bank, and comprised of members groups that have been designated as terrorist groups by the U.S.

The report asserts that BNC is “a coalition that includes the umbrella terror group ‘PNIF’ (Palestinian National and Islamic Forces), which is comprised of EU-and U.S.-designated terror groups Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), amongst others.”

The key revelation in the book is:
It is little known in the West that Arab and Islamic terror groups sit and strategize together with PACBI as equal members of the BNC. For example, one of the other founding members of the BNC is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine,23 known outside of the Palestinian-controlled territories as the “Palestinian National and Islamic Forces” (PNIF). PNIF was founded by Yasser Arafat, forrmer Chairman of the PLO and Palestinian Authority, and Marwan Barghouti, former commander of Fatah’s Tanzim terror wing and leader of the Islamist Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. Barghouti is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for the murder of Israelis in terror assaults.

PNIF is comprised of five U.S.-designated terrorist organizations24 including: Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front – General Command (PFLP-GC), the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

PMW: Fatah calls for violence in order to prevent the Jerusalem Day Parade to the Western Wall
Palestinian Media Watch turned to the Israeli police to warn about violence that the Fatah Movement has called for today, Jerusalem Day. Yesterday Fatah posted on its official Facebook page a call to Palestinians to "come... to the Damascus Gate at 5:00 p.m. in order to emphasize the Arabness and Islamicness of Jerusalem to the herds of settlers who want to desecrate the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the streets and alleys of Jerusalem."

5:00 p.m. this afternoon is the time that the traditional Jerusalem Day Parade is scheduled to pass that location on its way to the Western Wall. The purpose of Fatah's call was to have Palestinians violently disrupt the parade.

In the notice published on the Fatah Facebook page, three events in which Palestinians used violence to achieve political gain were stressed as precedents for today's call to Arabs:

"As the [Palestinian] public has succeeded in thwarting the Zionist plan of imposing a division of [prayer] times and the invasions during the Jewish holidays in September 2015; and the cancellation of the decision to place metal detectors at the Al-Aqsa Mosque gates during the Lion's Gate protest; and the opening of a place of worship at the Gate of Mercy by force after a Zionist closure that had lasted 16 years."
How Muslims transformed Jerusalem into a sacred city for Islam
Historian Daniel Pipes points out that Jerusalem is not mentioned in Quran, in Muslim prayers, never became the capital of a sovereign Muslim state, or served as a center of Muslim culture or scholarship. Not much of political significance originated in Jerusalem either.

In contrast, Jerusalem appears in the Torah 669 times and Zion (which generally denotes Jerusalem or other times means the land of Israel) 154 times, or 823 times altogether.

How did Jerusalem’s status transform from being a neglected or an almost insignificant sacred city into considerable part of Arab-Muslim life asks historian Yitzak Reiter. In Islam, a site’s sanctity is not static. The hierarchy of the holiness during Islam’s formative years can change as a result of political and social conditions.

Historian Moshe Gil explains that in the early years of Islam, Jerusalem was called IIiya. Muslims used the name IIiya even in the tenth century. It was also known as Madinat Bayt al-Maqdis, City of the Temple. The Arabs began to use the name al-Quds, the Arabic name for Jerusalem, only in the eleventh century. The city did not become sacred to the Muslims until the Umayyad period (661-750). Until then, it was holy only to the Jews.

The transformation of Jerusalem into a Muslim holy city began after Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, completed in four years in 692 writes Gil. The al-Aqsa mosque, which was also built on the Temple Mount by Abd al-Malik’s sons, took about ten years to construct, from 706-717.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation Condemns Any Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said it condemns any position adopted by an international body that supports prolonging the occupation of Palestinian territories, including a US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital.

The OIC summit in Mecca said in its final statement on Saturday that it opposes what it calls all illegal Israeli measures aimed at changing facts in the disputed territories including Jerusalem, and undermining the two-state solution.

It urged member countries to take “appropriate measures” against countries that move their embassies to Jerusalem.

The OIC also refused to accept any proposal for peaceful settlement that did not accord with what it termed Palestinians’ legitimate inalienable rights, the final statement said.

It stressed the importance of amassing support for the budget of the Palestinian government to continue its work.
Arabs riot as Jews are allowed to enter Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day
Following the report that Jews will be allowed to enter the Temple Mount for Jerusalem Day, riots broke out on the Temple Mount on Sunday, according to the Police Spokesperson's Unit.

The commander of the Jerusalem district, Maj.-Gen. Doron Yedid, ordered the police to enter the Temple Mount and take care of the rioters.

As the police attempted to enter the place, Arab worshipers began throwing stones, chairs and other objects at the forces. The forces responded with riot dispersal means.

Jews are generally forbidden to enter the compound during the last days of the month of Ramadan. The police, however, allowed the entrance of Jews especially for Jerusalem Day.

After the riots subsided, Jews slowly began entering the area.
Jordan, Palestinians condemn ‘raids’ on Temple Mount
The Palestinian Authority and Jordan on Sunday condemned “Israeli raids” on the al-Aqsa Mosque after Muslim worshipers clashed with the police in protest against Jewish visits to the Temple Mount.

The worshipers threw stones, chairs and other objects at the forces, who responded with riot dispersal means.

PA governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Gheith, accused Jewish “settlers” and policemen of “rioting” inside the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in a “blatant violation of the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan.”

He said that the Muslim worshipers who were at the compound came there to “affirm the Islamic identity” of the site and express their rejection of Israeli schemes to “Judaize” it and change its feature.”

“The settlers are trying by all means to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque to impose a fait accompli and divide it in time and space [between Muslims and Jews],” Gheith added. He also accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of working toward instigating tensions in Jerusalem “to cover up his financial corruption.”

The Islamic Wakf Council in Jerusalem and other Islamic institutions accused the Israeli police of protecting and encouraging Jewish “extremists” and “settlers.” They also accused the police of using “repressive measures” to disperse Muslim worshipers protesting Jewish visits to the Temple Mount.
PMW: PA school teaches kids to anticipate the end of Israel and the "liberation of Palestine"
A Palestinian teacher and her school's principal appeared on official PA TV, and the teacher openly expressed the school's educational methodology, teaching students about the anticipated end of Israel. An exhibition at the school featured a map of "Palestine," which included all of Israel and the PA areas, and displayed numerous small ripped Israeli flags and large whole Palestinian flags. The flags represent Israeli sovereignty being replaced by Palestinian sovereignty over all of Israel. To make sure there is no doubt about the meaning, the teacher stressed: "We hope to liberate Palestine." The PA TV host thanked the principal for this quality education of Palestinian children:

Teacher Manal Al-Tanbour: "Allah willing, this is our vision, and we hope to liberate Palestine, break the chains, smash the check points, tear down the separation wall like the Berlin Wall was torn down, Allah willing, and may we achieve the liberation of Palestine."

Official PA TV reporter: "An impressive image and a map that we hope to achieve soon. We wish for the liberation of... I want to thank you very much for this initiative. I want to thank the school principal who is with us for this good effort to educate our male and female students."
[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, May 16, 2019]

PMW has documented that the PA continuously promotes the message of one "Palestine" and no Israel. The PA transmits this message via its map of "Palestine" in which the PA includes the entire area of Israel. Such maps hang in PA ministries and offices, are featured on diplomas and honorary plaques that are frequently distributed, and are printed in PA school books. PMW found this map colored in the Palestinian flag in a school book for 7th grade:

PMW: 27% of Israeli Arabs voted for Zionist parties in recent elections
Now that the newly elected Israeli Parliament has been dissolved due to Prime Minister Netanyahu's inability to form a government, Israeli Arabs will again be experiencing the Israeli democracy in the next elections, which are set for September 17, 2019.

The next elections will once again prove wrong the Palestinian Authority's claim that Israel is an "apartheid state" as Israeli Arabs will be able to exercise their voting rights on equal terms with Israel's Jewish citizens.

Palestinian Media Watch has taken a look at the statistics from the recent Israeli elections and they prove the existence of a thriving Israeli democracy.

Responding to the results of the Israeli elections held in April this year, PLO Chief Negotiator and Fatah Central Committee member Saeb Erekat, said that the vote shows Israel has a "policy of apartheid and racial segregation":

"The preliminary results of the Israeli elections have clearly showed that the Israeli voters have voted to keep the situation as it is. They have voted to continue the occupation. They have voted to continue the apartheid and the racial segregation. In reality, the competition during the election campaign was over who on the Israeli side could continue the status quo, the policy of apartheid and racial segregation, but at a reduced cost." [Official PA TV News, April 10, 2019]

A comparison focusing on the rights of Israeli Arabs compared to the rights of Black South Africans under the Apartheid regime shows that the reality could not be more different.

More than 25% of Americans say Israel unimportant to their Jewish future
Not even three-quarters (72%) of American Jews and only a little more than half (53%) of French Jews think that a thriving State of Israel is vital for the long-term future of the Jewish people, according to a new study by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

The AJC on Sunday released its first-ever concurrent surveys of the attitudes of Jews in France, Israel and the United States, the three largest Jewish communities in the world.

In addition to the above findings, the study showed an increase in American and French concern about their own security.

Some 65% of American Jews said they feel less secure than they did a year ago. Similarly, half of French Jews say the situation in France in terms of security is worse than a year ago.

A majority of French Jews (58%) have personally experienced antisemitism, and more than half (56%) say they do not think that France is effectively combating the growing number of hate crimes.

Strikingly, a majority (55%) of French Jews have considered emigrating from the country in the past year for various reasons. Around one-fifth (21%) said it was for economic reasons, 17% for fear of the Jewish community’s future and another 12% are worried about France’s future.

For Americans, the climate on college campuses seems to be the most worrisome. Some 57% of US Jews say it has become increasingly uncomfortable for pro-Israel students on college campuses.
In Gradation Speech, US Ambassador to Israel Slams Obama Mideast Policies
In a commencement speech on Thursday to Yeshiva University graduating students, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman slammed the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel compared to that of the current one.

“Should Israel still negotiate with the Palestinians even though Israel did not steal their land? Of course, it should, precisely because we are not suggesting, as our predecessor did—that Israel return to the bargaining table as a thief returning to the scene of a crime,” he said. “Precisely for that reason, there is a basis for discussion.”

Friedman said “the overwhelming majority of Palestinians are not consumed by hatred nor are unwilling to live in peace. Many are well-educated, many of them want what everyone wants—peace, security, good schools, and a better and more dignified way of life. We need to help them get there—not by perpetual handouts that create a culture of dependency and corruption.”

Who fired the missile toward Mount Hermon?
The rocket fired at the Hermon on Saturday is considered an aberration, and is particularly serious because unlike previous incidents, there were no reports in the past few days about any Israeli strike or provocation in Syria. The incident comes after another one last Monday, when a Syrian anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli Air Force combat jet that was on routine maneuvers in Israeli airspace.

As it always does, the IDF responded to the missile with a series of strikes inside Syria. The targets included two Syrian artillery batteries, a number of intelligence sites, and an outlook post, as well as a Syrian air defense battery. Syrian state news outlets reported that three Syrian soldiers were killed and seven wounded in the strikes. While the airstrikes were taking place, Syria activated its anti-aircraft defenses against the Israeli planes. The IDF even reported that its own air defenses were utilized against the Syrian missile.

The Israeli defense establishment has yet to announce who was responsible for the missile fired on Saturday. In January, a surface-to-surface missile was fired at the Hermon while the site was packed with visitors enjoying the snow. At the time, Israel pointed the finger at Iran. Then, in contrast to the incident Saturday night, the missile was fired after foreign media reported that Israel had carried out airstrikes near Damascus. After the missile was launched, Israel struck targets in Syria belonging to Iran’s Quds Force, because Iran was behind the attack, as well as Syrian military targets, because the missile had been fired from inside sovereign Syrian territory.
Foreign fighters among 10 killed in IDF Syria strike after rocket fire — report
Seven “foreign fighters” were among the 10 killed in Israel Defense Forces airstrikes on several military targets in Syria in the predawn hours of Sunday morning in response to two rockets that were fired from the country at the Golan Heights on Saturday night, a war monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights did not specify the nationalities of the foreigners, but in an earlier statement said that Iranian and Hezbollah targets were hit in the strikes.

Beginning at 4:10 a.m., Israel Defense Forces helicopters and planes attacked several targets connected to the Syrian army, including two artillery batteries, several observation and intelligence outposts, and an SA-2 type air defense unit, the IDF said in a statement.

Syrian media reported that Israel also struck several targets connected to Iran and is proxy militias in Syria, in the area of al-Kiswah, south of Damascus. These strikes reportedly targeted weapons caches and a military training facility.

The Israeli army refrained from specifying who it believes fired the two rockets at the Golan Heights — one of which landed inside Israeli territory, the other in Syria — but said it “sees the Syrian regime as responsible for all attacks against Israel from Syrian territory.”
Mount Hermon ski resort releases video footage of rocket attack from Syria
The Mount Hermon ski resort on Sunday released a video recording by a security camera of the moment a rocket from Syria landed close to the site on Saturday and the billows of smoke that followed.

Shrapnel from the rocket hit and damaged one of the ski lift cables, which was not in use.

On Saturday, the army announced that it had identified two rockets that had been fired toward Mount Hermon from Syrian territory.

Alarms were not triggered because it was clear that the missiles would not land in populated areas.

IDF using new intelligence system to decrease surprise attacks on troops
The IDF has begun to use a new system to alert troops to suspicious movements by Palestinians in the West Bank in an attempt to decrease the chance of troops being caught by surprise.

The system includes sensors, radars, analytics and visual intelligence which are all connected to one main system in a special operations room established as part of the project, which the military hopes will assist in foiling attacks in real time and prevent manhunts of terrorists who get away following an attack.

The military has understood that many soldiers are slow to respond to surprise attacks, and that troops must decrease the time it takes them to act. Therefore in the coming months, troops stationed in the West Bank will receive smartwatches which will alert them to approaching threats in an attempt to decrease surprise attacks.

The Judea and Samaria division of the IDF has also formulated a new operational concept to define the range of operational actions and norms aimed at increasing its ability and ability to deal with attacks.

The concept, which relates to all stages of troop training, aims to ensure that every combat soldier is able to make correct decisions under pressure and in a short period of time, such as overpowering an attacker at a maximum speed.
Israel's Supreme Court freezes deportation order for Human Rights Watch director
Israel’s Supreme Court has issued a ruling allowing the local director of Human Rights Watch to remain in the country while he fights a deportation order.

A lower court in April ordered Omar Shakir to leave the country, saying his activities against the West Bank settlements amount to a boycott of the country. Israeli law bars entry to those who have publicly supported a boycott of Israel or its settlements.

Shakir, who is a U.S. citizen, had appealed to the court to allow him to stay for the duration of the proceedings.

In Sunday’s ruling, the Supreme Court did not set a date, but said the appeal should be heard in the current court year ending July 21.
Indictment filed against Israeli-Arab woman who joined Syrian terror group
An indictment has been filed against an Israeli-Arab woman who returned to Israel after she joined the Jabat al-Nusra terror group in Syria, the Shin Bet cleared for release on Sunday.

According to a statement released by the Shin Bet, 22-year-old Renwa Rasmi Muhammad Shanawi from the village of Jadeidi-Makr near Acre, was arrested last month after she returned to Israel.

While being questioned by the Shin Bet, Shanawi admitted that she had contacted a Syrian citizen who had suggested that she come to Syria and join the ranks of Jabat al-Nusra. Shanawi agreed to the proposal out of a desire to commit "martyrdom” and stole money from her family to purchase a plane ticket to Turkey.

According to the indictment, Shanawi first began to view jihadist content since 2017 and had shown an increased desire to die for what she viewed as “the humiliation of Muslim worshipers” by Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque.

When she arrived in Turkey, she threw out her Israeli SIM card and purchased a Turkish SIM card which also allowed for her to make calls in Syria. She then spent several days in Istanbul, during which she made contact with a member of the Jabhat al-Nasru organization by phone, who instructed her to come to the Turkish city of Antakya, and from there to the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Syria.
Balloon carrying suspicious object found in southern Israeli community
Police sappers were called to a community in the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council in southern Israel Sunday afternoon, after a helium balloon tied to a suspicious object landed there.

A photo showed policemen and the balloon on a road in the middle of an orchard.

Sappers dealt with the object, and no damage was caused to the surrounding area.

It was not clear whether the balloon originated from the Gaza Strip. The regional council’s territory is located east of Ashdod. However, that possibility was likely, as recent days have seen multiple incendiary balloons launched from the Strip land in Israeli territory, sparking fires in border areas.

Since last March, airborne incendiaries from Gaza have caused fires that burned thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves in Israel, causing millions of shekels’ worth of damage.
Israeli Consortium Begins Gas Streaming Trial to Egypt
The Tamar Gas Consortium, responsible for operating Tamar, one of Israel’s largest natural gas fields, began a trial to stream gas from Israel to Egypt on Friday, four people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity told Calcalist. The test marks the final stage before commencing commercial streaming between Israel and Egypt, the people said.

In February 2018, the Tamar consortium banded together with the consortium operating Israel’s largest gas field Leviathan to sign a $15 billion deal with Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings, which would see Israeli gas fields providing Egypt with 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a 10-year period.

The trial is expected to be completed this week. Should no issues be detected, Tamar will begin commercial streaming to industrial clients in Egypt, the people said.

UK bank account drops from pro-Iranian, Hezbollah group behind Al-Quds-Day
The United Kingdom Lawyers for Israel announced on Sunday that the British bank TSB no longer appears on the donation section of the website for the radical Islamic IHRC, which has links to Iran and the UK designated terrorist organization Hezbollah.

In a statement sent to The Jerusalem Post by Caroline Turner, Director of UKLFI, the organization wrote: “TSB bank details have disappeared from the ‘other ways to donate’ page of the website of International Human Rights Commission (IHRC), organizer of the annual al-Quds Day march in London which promotes the Hezbollah terrorist organization.”

Turner said “There are many organizations that purport to be charitable but have links with and are cheerleaders for vicious terrorist organizations. Banks should not be providing financial services to such organizations.”

The UKLFI statement noted that: “The page had given donors the bank details of the related charity, IHRC Trust’s TSB bank account, so that they could make their donations through bank transfers. Now a message says that the page is ‘being updated.”’

MEMRI: Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif Reiterates Iran's Lie, Promoted By Obama Administration, That Supreme Leader Khamenei Issued Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons; No Such Fatwa Ever Existed
At a May 27, 2019 joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo, U.S. President Donald Trump clarified that he has no interest in regime change in Iran but that he does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons.[1]

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded immediately to President Trump's statements, tweeting Iran's false claim that it is not seeking to obtain nuclear weapons because doing so was banned by a fatwa issued by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei:

Also, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist, reiterated the false claim that a Khamenei fatwa banned nuclear weapons, during a May 28 visit to a Tehran exhibition. He said: "The Supreme Leader of the Revolution [Khamenei] issued a fatwa and also a regime edict according to which there is a religious ban on possessing nuclear weapons. We published this as a document at the UN..."[2]

The Fatwa Served Iran In Nuclear Negotiations With The Europeans – As An Alleged Religious Guarantee That It Will Not Develop Nuclear Weapons

It should be noted that the "document at the UN" to which senior Iranian officials refer is a letter by Cyrus Nasseri, Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the August 2005 IAEA Board of Directors meeting. The letter reported that such a fatwa had been issued by Khamenei. However, this document is not the fatwa; the fatwa itself is not to be found anywhere (see Appendix II of MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 825, Renewed Iran-West Nuclear Talks – Part II: Tehran Attempts to Deceive U.S. President Obama, Sec'y of State Clinton With Nonexistent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa By Supreme Leader Khamenei, April 19, 2012).

Iranian President Hassan Rohani himself stated in a May 2012 interview that he had come up with the idea to say that Khamenei had issued such a fatwa in a November 2004 Friday sermon. However, no such fatwa can be found on Khamenei's fatwa website, neither in November 2004 nor on any other date. Rohani's initiative was aimed, he said, at presenting this to the Europeans as a guarantee that Iran would not strive for nuclear weapons (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1022, The Official Iranian Version Regarding Khamenei's Alleged Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa Is A Lie, October 3, 2013).

As MEMRI has shown in numerous past reports, no such fatwa has ever existed. Iran's claiming that there is such a fatwa – in an attempt to use it as a substitute for intrusive oversight apparatuses – was promoted by the Obama administration, even though no one could produce the fatwa. In fact, in 2012, U.S. media reported that the Obama administration had used this nonexistent fatwa as justification for reviving nuclear negotiations with Iran. For example, on May 11, 2012 in The Washington Post, David Ignatius wrote that President Obama had sent a message to Khamenei, delivered in March 2012 by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that his "fatwa banning nuclear weapons would be a good starting point for negotiations."[3]
German antisemitism commissioner seeks end of tax breaks for BDS groups
Uwe Becker, commissioner of the Hessian federal state government for Jewish life and the fight against antisemitism, announced in late May that pro-BDS charities and NGOs should not receive favorable tax reductions, demanding a public review of their nonprofit status.

In a statement sent to The Jerusalem Post titled, “Antisemitism must not be regarded as charitable: Hesse’s antisemitism commissioner demands review of associations,” Becker said: “If associations in our country support the work of antisemitic organizations, then these may not be privileged fiscally.”

Becker added that “For example, the association ‘Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East’ is an official supporter of the antisemitic BDS movement and resolutely supports its goals.”

The newly appointed commissioner, who served as the deputy mayor and treasurer for Frankfurt, said “The BDS movement supports the demand for boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions against Israel, and has been aggressively exerting pressure on artists, scientists and companies for years to prevent any cooperation with the Jewish state.”

In April 2018, Becker told the Post that the Cologne-based Bank for Social Economy was banned from conducting business with Frankfurt – Germany’s financial capital – because of the bank’s account with the pro-BDS group Jewish Voice.

“The city of Frankfurt will, in the future, only work with banks that do not maintain business relations with the antisemitic BDS movement, and, accordingly, with BDS organizations,” said Becker at the time.

Becker said in his statement as commissioner to combat antisemitism: “I am convinced that when an association joins forces with antisemites, it cannot be considered a privileged nonprofit organization. The association Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East does not only appear as a committed supporter of the antisemitic BDS movement, only recently the association has also supported the appearance of the convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh in Germany. Anyone who acts in this way must not be privileged by the state, which is why I am in favor of a restrictive examination of the privileged nonprofit status of such associations.”

The removal of the favorable tax status of BDS groups could impact their fund-raising situation and cause banks to close BDS accounts. Germany’s federal parliament classified BDS as antisemitic in May.
Kicking anti-Semitism to the curb
Asked why soccer clubs get involved in social initiatives, Bruce Buck, the chairman of the Chelsea Football Club, offers a simple answer: Didier Drogba.

Drogba, for those who haven’t been paying attention to world soccer over the past two decades, was the Ivory Coast striker who played for Chelsea from 2004 to 2012, the club’s golden age during which the 2004-2005 season, for the first time in 50 years, Chelsea won the England Football League Championship. It then went on to win again the following year -2005-2006 and again in the 2009-2010 season.

Buck cites a poll from a few years back that found that the most famous African of all time was the late South African President Nelson Mandela. Drogba was second.

Drogba became hugely popular not only due to his phenomenal ability as a striker on the field, but mainly due to his national leadership: In his 20s, he led an effort to end the civil war in his country, calling on leaders, often right after a match, to end the conflict between Christians and Muslims. His efforts bore fruit, and today, Drogba is admired across the Ivory Coast and the entire African continent.

When Buck talks about Drogba, it is clear that social initiatives can be more effective when they involve soccer stars and not politicians. With one quick selfie, a player with 20 million followers on Instagram can do more than any address at the U.N. General Assembly could ever hope to achieve. The connection between star athletes and their fans is almost mystic, and it is thanks to this mysticism that messages can be disseminated with remarkable efficiency.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg reportedly to visit Israel in August
Sheryl Sandberg, the billionaire chief operating officer of Facebook and the author of two books, is set to visit Israel in August, financial website Calcalist reported, without saying where it got the information.

Sandberg, who has been the second in command to the social media giant’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and who is considered one of the most powerful figures of the tech world, will be coming to Israel on a private family visit and not for business reasons, Calcalist said. Facebook has R&D as well as sale activities in Israel.

A spokeswoman for Facebook in Israel declined to comment.

As chief operating officer, Sandberg is in charge of Facebook’s business dealings, including the ads that make up the bulk of the company’s revenue. She has steered Facebook from a rising tech startup into a global business with revenues at almost $56 billion in 2018.

Together with Zuckerberg, however, Sandberg has recently been in the line of fire as Facebook has faced a number of scandals involving fake news, elections interference, hate speech, and a privacy scandal.
Fourth-grader unearths 9th century gold coin during educational dig
A ten-year-old girl experienced the thrill of being an archaeologist when she spotted something sparkling during an educational dig on Thursday and discovered a ninth century gold coin.

Shira Sofer, a fourth-grade student at the Bachar Rousseau school in Tzur Moshe, near Netanya in central Israel, is one of hundreds of children taking part in a Lev HaSharon Regional Council archaeology program.

They are working at a village from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (the Talmudic and Geonic period, 5th to 11th centuries CE), among excavations that have revealed dwellings along with the everyday objects owned by their ancient owners, such as pottery, glass, coins and weights.

“I saw something sparkling so I just picked it up,” said Sofer.

Archaeologist Achia Cohen-Tavor of Dagesh Archaeological Tourism, who is managing the excavation on behalf of Ariel University, said, “This is a coin minted by one of the caliphs of the Abbasid dynasty from Baghdad, who then ruled the Land of Israel, and they made one dinar, about 4 grams of gold, and it is probably dated to the end of the ninth century CE.”

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