Saturday, June 06, 2020

From Ian:

Israeli Nobel laureate: We should annex now, not 'talk it to death'
Nobel laureate Professor Yisrael (Robert) Aumann gave a special interview to the Jerusalem Post sister publication Maariv ahead of his 90th birthday on June 8.

The Nobel prize winner is famous for holding right wing views. When asked, he said that Israel should annex the Jordan Valley and a portion (30%) of the West Bank on July 1 as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu said he will do “and not talk it to death.”

When asked about the chance of a peace agreement with the Palestinians he said that some things should not be a matter of compromise. “The Arabs are also not flexible, they say everything belongs to them”, he argued. "We Jews should not waiver in our conviction that this is our rightful historical homeland, “dating back thousands of years.”

Aumann won the Nobel prize in 2005 for the contribution his research of Game Theory made in the field of economics.

His research helped understand how seemingly irrational actions might, in reality, be rational when we take into account the situations they work with and the logic guiding them. For example, in his Nobel speech called "War and Peace," he explained how the seemingly irrational act of building enough nuclear bombs to destroy the planet is effective in preventing war because the other side can’t know if these weapons will be used or not.

Aumann joked with the reporter that until he won the prize, he worked in science. But as the prize tends to be the best sales promoter in the world, he said “I now work in sales”, referringg to the sales of his theories.
A tale of two countries: The politics of indigeneity in Israel
While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often thought of as a complex and highly-nuanced topic, any understanding of the conflict ultimately revolves around a single question, the question of who is indigenous to the land. All the differing perspectives on Israel boil down to whether they consider Jews or Arabs the original inhabitants of the region.

A common narrative regarding indigeneity is that Palestinians are the original inhabitants of the land, and anti-Zionists frequently make claims based on the premise that Palestinians are the indigenous people and Israelis are the occupiers.

Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, stated to the UN Security Council, that “[W]e are the descendants of the Canaanites who lived in the land of Palestine 5,000 years ago, and continuously remained there to this day.”

Linda Sarsour, an Arab-American activist tweeted, “Jesus was a Palestinian of Nazareth.”

Jonathan Cook wrote in The Electronic Intifada that Israel is systematically “Hebraizing” Arab city names in order to erase an Arab connection to the land, and accused Israel of turning al-Quds into Yerushalayim, al-Nasra into Natzrat, and Jaffa into Yafo. In doing so, the article assumes that the Palestinian connection to the land is longer than that of the Jews.

But do the facts support these claims that Palestinians are the original inhabitants of the land?

Linguistic analysis provides insight into this central question. In the 2nd millennium BCE, the inhabitants of Canaan, what is modern-day Israel, all spoke a language called Proto-Canaanite. Over time, their language underwent a phonetic shift known as the Canaanite Shift, which was characterized by a transition from an ā vowel to an o vowel. All the languages that descended from this Proto-Canaanite language had this o vowel in place of the ā, while the other Semitic languages from outside the region of Canaan kept the original ā.

The effect of the shift is still noticeable today. For example, the word for peace in Hebrew is Shalom, demonstrating the vowel shift, whereas Arabic keeps the ā vowel in Salām: Hebrew’s vowel shift indicates it was historically spoken in Canaan, while Arabic’s lack of the vowel shift suggests it developed outside of Canaan.

The Electronic Intifada article claims that the Arabic name of Yafa is the original term for the place, but as the true indigenous people would have used the vowel-shifted name of Yafo, as Hebrew does, the truth is laid bare: Arabic doesn’t fulfill the criteria to be a native language to Israel. The linguistic patterns of Arabic are consistent with the historical context –– Palestinians are Arabs, who are indigenous to the Arabian peninsula, but their indigenous claims do not extend to Israel.

Lawyer, 31, who 'hurled a Molotov cocktail at a NYPD van' is back in custody as bail decision is REVERSED after she said Mayor Bill de Blasio is to blame for not holding back cops during violent protests
The New York City lawyers accused of hurling a Molotov cocktail into a NYPD van are back in custody after a decision to release them on bail was reversed in court.

On Friday, the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York announced that lawyers Urooj Rahman, 31, and Clinford Mattis, 32, were back in federal custody after the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the bail decision by the District Court.

Meanwhile, a video has emerged that reveals Rahman blaming Mayor Bill de Blasio for not restraining officers for their own safety less than one hour before the alleged incident.

Last week, Rahman and Mattis were arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail at the police cruiser during volatile clashes over the death of George Floyd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

They were chased by police and charged with attempting to damage or destroy law-enforcement vehicle by fire or explosives, which carries a minimum of five years in jail and maximum of 20 years.

In a new video from May 30, Rahman claimed de Blasio should have pulled back the city's law enforcement like Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis did.

'I think the mayor should have pulled his police officers back in the way the mayor in Minneapolis did, she said, while standing near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

'I think the mayor should have done that, because if he really cared about his police officers, he should have realized that it’s not worth them getting hurt.'

Dems to Redefine Hate Crime as ‘Disagreeing with Ilhan Omar About Anything’ (satire)
Claiming that existing language did not go far enough to protect victims of racism and Islamophobia, House Democrats have passed a bill redefining the term “hate crime” to include “any criticism of, or disagreement with, Representative Ilhan Omar.”

The bill comes after Omar’s description of the September 11 attacks as “some people did something” sparked outrage and led to criticism that she showed a lack of sensitivity towards victims of the attacks. Her defenders, however, said these criticisms led to death threats against the Congresswoman.

“Clearly, there could only be one reason that someone would criticize an elected member of Congress, and that is sheer bigotry,” Representative Ro Khanna said on the House floor. “No criticism of Congresswoman Omar’s religious beliefs, her actions, or her political views will be tolerated.”

After initially resisting, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to bring the bill to the floor after several progressive party members threatened to lock themselves in their rooms until she agreed to do so. For some freshman lawmakers, however, the bill does not go far enough.

“While this bill may punish some bigots who openly criticize the Congresswoman, it will do nothing to discourage millions of others who think bad things but do not say them,” New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained. “We need to find a way to bring justice to anyone who thinks bad things about her. Like a ‘thought police’ – why hasn’t anyone else thought of that?”
NYC’s virtual Celebrate Israel parade postponed over George Floyd protests
First, the coronavirus moved one of the world’s largest demonstrations of support for Israel online. Now, the Celebrate Israel parade is being delayed to make time for New York Jews to hear from black leaders about racism.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York has postponed the parade, originally set for June 7, “[i]n recognition of the protests occurring across the country and in memoriam of George Floyd and the many other victims of racism and hate in America.”

In its place, the JCRC announced Friday that it would hold “An Online Conversation on Racism in America” on Zoom. “This virtual gathering will provide an opportunity for Jews and non-Jews alike to hear messages from prominent Black community leaders in New York,” the council said in a press release.

The event’s participants will include New York Attorney General Letitia James; Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Associations; Tamara Fish, the former president of the Jewish Multiracial Network; Rev. Charles Galbreath, senior pastor of the Clarendon Road Church in Flatbush, Brooklyn; and Samuel M. Pierre, chief of staff for New York City Council Member Farah Louis.
Coronavirus crisis in Israel: 257 new cases over the weekend
The number of coronavirus cases in Israel is exponentially growing. Over the weekend, between 7 p.m. Thursday and the same time Saturday, some 257 people were diagnosed with COVID-19. Among the newly infected are seven residents of a senior living facility in Or Yehuda.

“We need to assume that we are in an outbreak of unknown magnitude," said outgoing Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov during recent internal deliberations, according to the Hebrew media site N12. He said that the number of coronavirus cases continues to expand and that “it will take time until we understand the extent” of the challenge.

Sources in the meeting claimed he used the term "second wave," which he later denied.

Three more people died over the weekend, bringing the total to 295. Of the 2,407 active cases, some 21 are intubated.

However, it should be noted that the number of people being tested for the virus has nearly tripled. The Health Ministry reported that more than 16,160 people were tested on Friday and more than 7,000 on Saturday by 7:30 p.m., with the expectation that more people would be screened by midnight.

The increased screening comes on the backdrop of a change in testing policy, rolled out by newly appointed Health Minister Yuli Edelstein. Now, people with or without coronavirus symptoms can request screening.

Previously, testing was designated for those who were in quarantine and showed symptoms. For asymptomatic cases, people were eligible to be tested only if they had stayed in the vicinity of a confirmed coronavirus patient for more than 15 minutes or had returned from a country with a high rate of infections.
Holocaust survivor leaves hospital after beating coronavirus
Steffi Goldberger Berg, 92, a Holocaust survivor who lives in Broward Country, Florida, survived a coronavirus infection, according to a local ABC news report.

“Every single one did their best and took care of me like a baby,” Berg said, according to ABC.

She was treated by the medical staff at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale.

“The past 12 weeks have been unbelievable,” said Cindy Berg Vayonis, one of her daughters, according to ABC. “This is a miracle. This is a true miracle.”

However, in the process of surviving her infection Golberger Berg lost her husband, Willie Berg, to COVID-19. He died at their home in Fort Lauderdale in late March.

She and one of her daughters, who donated plasma to help treat her mother, were diagnosed five days after her husband died.

The two met in Shanghai after fleeing Germany during the World War II. After the war, they made Aliyah and moved to Israel, then settled in the United States in 1954.

Berg leaves behind three daughters, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Israeli company to develop thermal cameras that detect coronavirus
Foresight, an Israeli company, announced that it is developing mass-screening thermal cameras capable of detecting coronavirus symptoms, Israeli Auto Channel reported.

The system will be based on forward-looking infrared cameras, typically used on military and civilian aircraft, use a thermographic camera that senses infrared radiation (FLIR) thermal cameras, artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced algorithms designed to detect coronavirus symptoms. This could increase the likelihood to of detection and even minimize false positive results.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for public safety, prioritizing the prevention of another pandemic outbreak as the world begins to resume normal activities." said Haim Siboni, CEO of Foresight.

"Our extensive experience with thermal imaging and AI can be invaluable when applied to a detection solution for early symptoms of the coronavirus. Several prospective customers have already expressed interest in evaluating our unique technology," Siboni added.

Foresight specializes in developing technology designed to help prevent accidents for the automobile industry. The company’s systems are designed to improve driving safety by enabling highly accurate and reliable threat detection while ensuring the lowest rates of false alerts.
Scientists find link between COVID-19 severity and genetics
Genetic variations may be what causes different people to suffer from different symptoms of the coronavirus, according to a new study by European scientists, The New York Times reported.

The study, which has not been peer-reviewed yet, is the first to find a strong statistical link between genetic variations and COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Variations at two spots in the human genome are associated with an increased risk of respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients, according to the study. Patients with Type A blood were linked to a 50% increase in the likelihood in needing to get oxygen or go on a ventilator, reported the Times.

Oddly enough, variations in ACE2, the protein to which the virus attaches itself on the surface of human cells, did not seem to make a difference in the severity of the virus.

"There are new kids on the block now,” said Andre Franke, a molecular geneticist at the University of Kiel in Germany and a co-author of the new study, according to the Times.

While age and preexisting conditions have already been found to increase the risk of severe cases of COVID-19, geneticists are hoping that DNA tests could help identify at-risk patients as well.
Researchers race for coronavirus vaccine but question effectiveness
The race is on for a coronavirus vaccine, with more than 130 in development globally, including 10 in clinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organization.

Out of those 10, there are two leading candidates entering Phase 3 trials in the next month. One from US-based biotech company Moderna and the other a collaboration between the University of Oxford and UK-based biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

“From January when the virus was identified, to going into Phase 3, that’s unprecedented. That has never been done before,” Dr. Anna Durbin, professor of medicine and public health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told The Media Line. “But because of the urgency and the need for a vaccine, that’s why we are proceeding at risk.”

Accelerating the development process doesn’t impact safety. The risk refers to the cost of testing tens of thousands of people for an efficacy study and manufacturing millions and eventually billions of doses before knowing if the vaccine will even work in preventing the coronavirus, Durbin explained.

On Thursday, for example, AstraZeneca announced a $750 million deal with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to manufacture and distribute 300 million doses of the Oxford vaccine candidate by the end of 2020. AstraZeneca also inked a deal with the Serum Institute of India for one billion doses, with a goal of 400 million by the year’s end.
Israel Donates Wheelchairs to Coronavirus-Stricken Ecuador
Israel donated a shipment of wheelchairs on Friday to the mayor of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, one of the Latin American nations hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The wheelchairs will contribute to the recovery of patients with Covid19 in the Quito Temporary Care Center,” Amir Sagron — deputy chief of mission and consul of Israel in Ecuador — tweeted.

Ecuador, a country of 17 million people, has seen over 40,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and more than 3,000 deaths.
Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against Netanyahu’s annexation plans
Thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday evening to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to begin annexing parts of the West Bank next month.

Police initially sought to block the rally but backtracked Friday after meeting with organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Dozens of officers were securing the demonstration after police said attendance would be capped at 2,000, though the Haaretz daily put turnout at 6,000 people in what appeared to be the largest protest in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The demonstration was organized by the left-wing Meretz party and the communist Hadash faction of the majority-Arab Joint List, along with several other left-wing rights groups.

MK Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz, told the crowd that annexation would be a “war crime” and cost Israel millions as the economy is already reeling due to the pandemic.

“We cannot replace an occupation of dozens of years with an apartheid that will last forever,” shouted a hoarse Horowitz. “Yes, to two states for two peoples, no to violence and bloodshed,” he continued. “No to annexation, yes to peace.”

Horowitz said annexation was “a crime against peace, a crime against humanity, a crime that will result in bloodshed.”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Shtayyeh to EU: Impose sanctions on Israel, recognize Palestinian state
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has called on the European Union to impose sanctions on Israel to prevent it from extending its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. He also called on the EU to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Shtayyeh made his appeal during a phone conversation on Friday with EU President Charles Michel.

Shtayyeh stressed the importance of “serious and practical EU steps” to confront the Israeli plan, including imposing sanctions on Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital,” according to a statement released by the PA premier’s office.

The statement quoted Michel as emphasizing the EU’s “clear belief in the two-state solution and rejection of Israeli annexation plans, which contravene international law.”

The EU president reportedly told Shtayyeh that he would contact Israel and the US administration in a bid to stop Israel from implanting the plan.

Also Friday, Shtayyeh met in his office in Ramallah with Norway’s special envoy for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, and discussed with him the latest political developments in the region, particularly Israel’s intention to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
Jewish Group Attacks ‘Hypocrisy’ of Former Canadian Diplomats’ Letter Warning Against West Bank Annexation
An open letter by a group of retired Canadian diplomats calling on their government to oppose an Israeli plan to annex the West Bank met with a sharp response on Friday from a leading Jewish organization.

“We are disgusted with the blatant hypocrisy and double standards of the international community constantly directed against Israel. This letter is just the latest example of it,” Michael Mostyn — chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada — said in a statement. “The status of the territories in question is a subject of major debate in international law, and Israel’s claims are no less legitimate than anyone else’s.”

Mostyn was referring to the letter sent on Monday to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by 58 former Canadian diplomats and politicians calling on him to challenge the Israeli government.

“As you know, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced publicly his intention to ‘annex’ in the coming weeks a significant amount of land that Canada, and the international community, recognize as occupied Palestinian Territory,” the letter to Trudeau stated.

“Territorial conquest and annexation are notorious for contributing to fateful results: war, political instability, economic ruin, systematic discrimination and human suffering,” the group warned.

Mostyn observed that the letter made no mention of the fact that the “internationally accepted bedrock of all Middle East peacemaking has long been UN Resolutions 242 and 338, which call for negotiations to achieve a just and durable peace.”

Mostyn underlined that Israel had not yet formally presented its position on the future status of the West Bank, accusing the diplomats of rushing to condemn the Jewish state.

Police seemingly working to block release of video from shooting of autistic man
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court accepted a police request to bar the publication of minutes from a hearing on a petition filed by the family of an autistic Palestinian man seeking the release of security camera footage showing him being shot by police in the Old City.

The family of Iyad Halak, 32, filed the petition earlier this week. It also asked the judge to compel the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department to confirm whether it has collected the CCTV footage, amid their fears that law enforcement will not use it in the probe of the May 30 incident.

Halak was shot dead in Jerusalem’s Old City last weekend while he was on his way to his school for individuals with special needs. Police said he had appeared to be holding a gun, but Halak was only holding a cellphone — as his father told the media — and apparently had not understood officers’ orders to halt as he passed near the Lion’s Gate. His caretaker, who witnessed the incident, told reporters that Halak fled on foot and hid in a garbage room, where he was shot at least seven times.

The family noted in its petition that security cameras are installed in the alleys through which police chased Halak, as well as in the garbage room where he sought refuge.

When the court convened on Wednesday to discuss the Halak petition, police representatives requested the hearing be closed to the public. The officers presented a gag-order that has been placed over the case, but because it only covers publication of the involved officers’ names, the judge denied the request.
MEMRI: Turkish Government Charity Organization Operates In Regions Of Syria Controlled By Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham
The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On May 30, 2020, an event honoring fighters wounded in battles against the Syrian regime and its allies was held in the city of Idlib, Syria, which is controlled by Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS). The event, titled "My Steadfastness Has No Limits" and featuring the distribution of monetary grants to disabled fighters, was organized by the Turkish government-affiliated Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı (TDV) charity organization. It was extensively covered by the pro-rebel media, including the HTS news agency.[1]

On its website, TDV bills itself as having been "founded to support the activities of the [Turkish] Ministry of Religious Affairs, to help religious services reach more people, and for the raising of a generation employed in religious service," and states that it operates in 149 countries.[2]

TDV operates in northern Syria, both in regions where Turkey implemented its Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations that are now essentially under Turkish control, and in HTS-controlled areas. For example, on September 25, 2019, it was reported that the organization had, in conjunction with the Pakistan-based Bayt Al-Salam charity organization, erected 100 homes in Idlib province for families of orphans, the disabled, and slain fighters.[3]

As in the instance of the activity for the disabled fighters, it appears that TDV's activity in HTS-controlled areas is carried out with the approval of HTS, or at least with its knowledge of it. While previously there was a dispute between TDV and HTS over the administration of two refugee camps in HTS-controlled territory in Idlib, it was resolved that TDV would bring about the HTS-controlled Syrian Salvation Government's (SSG) approval of the appointments for the administration of both camps.[4]

Thus, the TDV joins the ranks of Turkish charity organizations cooperating with HTS.[5]
A New Level in the Cyber War between Israel and Iran
In cyber warfare, an attack on essential civilian infrastructure is considered a serious attack. According to media reports, Iran attacked Israel’s water infrastructure, and Israel responded with a cyberattack against infrastructure at the Iranian port in Bandar Abbas. While these were not the first attacks between the two countries, they illustrate that the conflict theater includes essential civilian infrastructure. Israel has so far managed to deal with cyberattacks against civilian infrastructure without suffering much damage, but it may become more vulnerable as the cyber arms race accelerates and Iran gains more sophisticated capabilities. Israel must assume that in the cyber realm, there will be further and more sophisticated attempts to attack than those that have been seen thus far.

Cyber warfare is conducted secretly and anonymously, unless one of the sides in the confrontation has an interest in exposing it. The attacks are generally launched without claiming responsibility or with denying responsibility, if at all ascribed. In the vast majority of cases, identifying the source of the attack is difficult. Attacks in cyberspace are considered to suit a "campaign between wars," since they enable the attacker to operate from afar, secretly, and avoid human casualties on both sides in order to avoid escalation. Cyberattacks allow information collection to enable cognitive warfare, send deterrent messages, increase pressure on military and civilian systems in order to achieve defense and political goals, and launch preventive actions. The Stuxnet attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, which was revealed in 2010, was a formative event regarding military cyberattacks on infrastructure. The attack on the command and control systems of essential civilian infrastructure is considered to be at a high level on the scale of seriousness of cyberattacks. The most serious attacks of this sort are those that endanger large civilian populations, for instance due to water pollution or accidents that result from attacks on transportation systems.

According to reports in the American media, Iran and Israel have exchanged blows in cyberspace, attacking each other’s civilian targets. Israel reportedly launched a cyberattack on May 9, 2020 against the Iranian port at the Shahid Raja’i port in Bandar Abbas in southern Iran, in response to an Iranian cyberattack against water and sewage infrastructure (“the water system”) in Israel.

The attack against the Israeli water system attributed to Iran was carried out at a number of points throughout the country on April 24 and 25, 2020 (before Israel’s Independence Day and at the start of the first stage of the exit from the coronavirus lockdown). At one facility, there were unusual data and “irregularities.” At another, a pump was disconnected from automatic mode (controlled) and put into continual operation, and at another water source, the operating system was taken over (Ynet, May 19). In one of the cases, the water pump stopped operating for a short time. The concern, presented by the National Cyber Directorate, was that during the coronavirus crisis, Israel would be forced to deal with a temporary lack of water, or with a mixture of chlorine or other chemicals at the incorrect balance, which could have caused damage to the point of a disaster.

Is Longtime Pro-Israel Congressman Eliot Engel in Trouble?
Longtime Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) is having a rough week. First, the pro-Israel Jewish lawmaker was caught in a hot-mic moment on Tuesday, and on Wednesday fellow New York Democratic congresswoman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) endorsed his progressive primary opponent, Jamaal Bowman, who has questioned the US-Israel relationship.

With comparisons already being made to Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset of former Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018, is Engel’s job in Congress in jeopardy as voters head to the polls on June 23 for primaries?

“Eliot Engel is a champion of the working people of New York and is one of the most effective members of Congress from any district when it comes to taking care of their constituents,” Josh Block, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and former head of The Israel Project, told JNS.

On Tuesday, Engel came under fire for a hot-mic moment, saying: “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.”

The remark was made at a news conference with local and state officials in which Engel asked to speak about the instability in his Bronx district over the death of George Floyd, 46, who died on May 25 in the custody of Minneapolis police. Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. told Engel that there wouldn’t be time for him to speak and, in response to Engel’s “I wouldn’t care” comment, said, “We’re not politicizing. Everybody’s got a primary, you know?”

In a statement later Tuesday, Engel said, “In the context of running for re-election, I thought it was important for people to know where I stand, that’s why I asked to speak. I would not have tried to impose on the Borough President if I didn’t think it was important.”

Engel, who heads the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, has served in Congress since 1989 and represents the heavily Democratic New York 16th congressional district, which currently contains parts of the Bronx and Westchester County. Yet over the decades that Engel has served, redistricting and demographics have led to significant changes in composition of Engel’s district, which today is minority-majority, with black and Hispanics making up over 55 percent of its residents.
Israeli BDS activist seeking asylum in Canada will be deported back to Israel
An Israeli activist who had tried to claim asylum in Canada as a refugee is getting deported back to Israel, reports, after he exhausted his last court appeal in December.

Gilad Paz, 38, who identifies as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, has been living in Montreal since 2016. A self-employed lawyer before leaving Israel who was also active in Amnesty International Israel and the left-wing Meretz Party, Paz claimed he was seeking asylum in Canada because he feared being “politically persecuted” in Israel.

In 2017, Israel passed a law that denies entry into the country for activists who support the BDS movement, though this does not apply to Israelis.

After Paz settled in Montreal, Israel’s then Consul General, Ziv Nevo Kulman, dismissed his refugee claim as “preposterous.”

Canada’s Border Services Agency is not moving to make him leave immediately, due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian treasurer is Josh Frydenberg.

U.S. Army Tests Israeli "Smart Scope" Designed to Kill Drones
Images of U.S. soldiers in the Syrian desert training with an advanced electronic aiming system on their rifles have offered the first indication that the Israeli-made device was being field tested by the U.S. military.

The photos — posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service — showed special operators at the al-Tanf base in southern Syria using the Smart Shooter SMASH 2000 sighting system mounted on their M4A1 carbines. They were shown firing on range targets and also at a box in the air suspended below a small drone.

The small arms fire control system allows the shooter to select a target and lock on while pressing the trigger, according to the Israeli manufacturer Smart Shooter.

But the electro-optical system — which includes image recognition software — blocks the action until the firing solution can guarantee a hit, when it automatically activates the trigger. It can be used in daylight and at night.

Smart Shooter, which has paired with German firearms maker Sig Sauer to offer its system to the U.S. and other militaries, said that the system allows any firearm — including machine guns and assault rifles — to be used to destroy flying drones.
Israeli’s crowdfunding effort seeks to save forests by buying a piece of them
The constant drip of bad news about the environment can be paralyzing and the sheer multiplicity of “World Days” for every animal and subject under the sun confusing and overwhelming.

It’s hard to know where to start to do one’s bit for the natural world.

That was the feeling of Uri Shanas, who earned a PhD in zoology from Tel Aviv University, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University and then joined the Department of Biology and Environment at the University of Haifa–Oranim.

“Around 20 years ago, I started to teach a course on nature preservation,” he told The Times of Israel ahead of Friday’s United Nations World Environment Day.

“Year after year, I taught the course and when you teach, you also get to understand more. I was shocked at the pace of extinction and at some stage, I started to think, hang on, it’s not logical that I should teach without doing anything about it.”

The result, many years later, was TIME – This Is My Earth — which, to the best of Shanas’s knowledge, is the world’s first international, democratic, volunteer-based, crowdfunded, nonprofit organization geared to buying land where biodiversity is rich but threats are imminent.

It costs a minimum of $1 per year to join the organization and to get to vote on which threatened habitat should be saved.

Individuals and organizations from overseas wishing to acquire land for environmental preservation have to fill out detailed forms and go through intense vetting by a scientific advisory board of international experts.

Three projects are put up on TIME’s website each year to be voted on. Each vote carries the same weight, no matter how much each member has contributed. The money raised is then split, pro rata, between the projects, according to the proportion of votes, but if not enough money has been raised to buy land for the less popular projects, it either waits until the minimum sum has been reached or goes into the pot for a project chosen by the majority.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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