Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From Ian:

Edwin Black: Controversial ‘New Israel Fund’ Received More Than $1 Million From US State Department
The controversial New Israel Fund and its social change and political lobbying organization – known as SHATIL – have received more than $1 million from the State Department under a program designed to create political change, reform, and activism in the Middle East. The government program, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), has extended more than $600 million in grants to political and social activists and reformers in 18 Middle East countries, mainly with unstable or challenged political environments in need of democratic improvement. “
MEPI supports organizations and individuals in their efforts to promote political, economic, and social reform in the Middle East and North Africa,” according to the agency’s official self-description.
The list of nations in which MEPI operates includes such countries as Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, and Yemen.
However, MEPI’s sphere of engagement also includes Israel – ironically the only pluralistic, stable, and democratic nation in the Mideast. Among the leading recipients for MEPI grants in Israel is the New Israel Fund and its SHATIL organization. The NIF is an international, US-based 501(c)(3) charitable organization that has generated intense acrimony within the Jewish community and Israeli establishment for its highly politicized activities.
JCPA: World Vision: Strategies for Fund-Raising and Support for Hamas
WORLD VISION AND HAMAS
The overall effect of World Vision’s media appearances and publicity regarding the fighting in Gaza in 2014 obscures the fact that, on four separate occasions over the past decade (2006, 2008–2009, 2012 and 2014), Hamas initiated wars that it could not win against a country that cannot afford to lose. During these armed conflicts, Hamas has endangered the lives of Palestinians, especially children, by launching rockets from schoolyards and by using hospitals as command centers for its leaders. As we have noted above, Hamas summoned civilians to the rooftops of buildings after a warning that these buildings would soon be under attack. Moreover, Hamas launched rockets at civilian populations. A Palestinian Authority official in the West Bank has called this a crime against humanity.10 Furthermore, during the war in 2008–2009, Hamas diverted food and fuel from their intended recipients as part of its policy of increasing the suffering in the Gaza Strip in order to make Israel look bad.11 It has used cement and other building materials allowed into the Gaza Strip—ostensibly for the benefit of Palestinian civilians—in order to construct tunnels that can penetrate Israel and serve as a means to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians.
The policies of Hamas are intended to create a humanitarian crisis. It has succeeded in doing so. As an “advocacy” organization, World Vision is obliged to point this out and to hold Hamas accountable. However, WV contributes to the propaganda war against the Jewish state conducted by Hamas by directing almost all of its criticism against Israel and by protecting Hamas from condemnation. Thus, World Vision helps Hamas in its use of what Alan Dershowitz refers to as “the dead baby strategy.” To be sure, World Vision occasionally criticizes Palestinian elites, but it does so cautiously and even-handedly. During the fighting in 2014, Kevin Jenkins, president of World Vision International, criticized Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. His comments, however, often were followed by a condemnation of Israel, thereby effectively minimizing his critique of Palestinian leaders, as follows: “If we are to keep our moral compass, the world must make it clear that those firing rockets into Israel and bombing homes in Gaza are doing wrong.” The above statement presents a false moral equivalence between Israel, which acts in self-defense, and Hamas, which initiates the attacks on Israel and seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.

Hirsi Ali Confronts Jon Stewart About Islam
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose new book Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now was released this week, was interviewed by Jon Stewart on his Daily Show Monday night, and proceeded to educate the host as to the need for Islam to be reformed. The interview began with Stewart mocking the title, asking, “Why does Islam need a reformation …now?”
Hirsi Ali replied, “Because too many people are dying in the name of Islam, too many women live under oppression, too many Jews are being demonized, too many gays are being killed in the name of Islam, too many Christians are being killed in the name of Islam. I think it really has … the answer is to have the reformation now.”
Stewart, unsatisfied with the world-wide killing of non-Muslims as a reason to reform Islam, retorted, “Aren’t we having the reformation now?” asserting that Martin Luther wanted a “purer form of Christianity.”
Hirsi Ali pointed out that there are a growing number of people wanting to reform Islam, and said bluntly to Stewart, “I hope you stand with them.”
Stewart, cornered, struck back by asserting, “I think people single out Islam as though there is something inherently wrong with it that wasn’t wrong with other religions … If Christianity went through almost the exact same process … I get the sense that you think Islam is different from other religions.”
Hirsi Ali had a ready response: “Christianity went through that process of reformation and enlightenment and came to a place where the mass of Christians, at least in the Western world, have accepted tolerance and the secular state, the separate of church and state, respect for women, respect for gays.”





S. African Jews urge ‘yarmulke protest’ against anti-Semitism
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies on Tuesday urged citizens to demonstrate against anti-Semitism by wearing yarmulkes to their local cinemas, in the style of Orthodox Jews, this coming weekend.
The show of unity was called after three Jewish teenagers were physically and verbally assaulted at a Johannesburg shopping mall on Saturday night.
According to the SAJBD the three victims, who were all wearing yarmulkes — traditional Jewish head coverings — had gone to The Zone in Rosebank when they were accosted by three men, who were described as Indian South Africans. As one of the men punched one of the teens, another attacker shouted: “You f*cking Jew” and “Your f*cking people are killing our innocent children.”
Charges were filed against the three assailants. The SAJBD said it had obtained security camera footage of the incident that would be used to bring the men to trial.
Mother of Terror Victim Demands Death Penalty
The Ofer Military Court has begun the sentencing process of Maher Al-Hashalmoun, the Palestinian terrorist who murdered 26-year-old Dalia Lemkos as she waited at a bus stop in Gush Etzion.
Dalia's mother, Brenda Lemkos, has demanded that the court give Al-Hashalmoun the death penalty as a means of deterrence. '
"His life is not worth anything, he did not expect to live in the attack and he will do it again," the bereaved mother stated to Arutz Sheva. "It's hard to imagine the fear Dalia felt when she was stabbed over and over again."
IDF Gearing Up for Conflict in Judea, Samaria
The IDF is preparing for the possibility of a conflagration in Judea and Samaria, according to Israel Hayom. Central Command is carrying out training exercises and acquiring the needed equipment for dealing with the threat.
The reasons for the assessment that a violent confrontation is near include the tense atmosphere in diplomatic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), the PA's complaint against Israel at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and Israel's freezing of PA tax revenues in response, the report says.
"At this point, Abu Mazen has a vested interest in maitaining stability on the ground,” IDF officials told the paper, referring to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas by his kunya name. But as time goes by, they said, matters may deteriorate into violence.
The main cause for potential Arab anger, in the IDF's view, is Israel's freezing of PA tax revenues. Israel has thus far frozen about NIS 1.5 billion in the course of three months, in addition to another NIS 1 billion that were already frozen.
On the other hand, the number of work permits for PA Arabs who seek employment in Israel has been increased.
Islamic Jihad gaining strength in the West Bank
Islamic Jihad is gaining strength in Judea and Samaria, representing a new terrorist threat. Senior IDF officials from the Central Territorial Command consider Islamic Jihad to be a small yet highly focused entity, making it a dangerous and disturbing addition to the plethora of actors in the territories.
Islamic Jihad’s central base is in the Gaza Strip, and it has been a loyal Iranian proxy for many years, depending on Tehran for funds, training, and weapons.
Iran, for its part, has attempted to get money into the West Bank to spread its influence, so far with very limited success, due to Israeli security efforts and the Palestinian Authority’s resistance to Iranian sponsorship.
A second force that is emerging in the West Bank is the Fatah Tanzim, which was once a dominant terrorist group during the years of the second intifada. Youths from Fatah Tanzim are not bound by an agreement that older members came to with Israel in the previous decade, which saw Israel remove them from the wanted list in exchange for a cessation of terrorist activities.
Residents of Israel’s South: We Hear Sounds of Digging Again
Frustrated residents on Israel’s border with Gaza have reported hearing sounds of digging coming from under their houses, Israel’s Channel 2 said on Monday. According to the report, the locals are convinced that Hamas, the terror group that controls the coastal enclave, has returned to its construction of terror tunnels at full pace.
“Today, I sat on the couch in my living room, and felt everything shaking underneath me,” said a resident of one of the Kibbutzim bordering Gaza.
Increasing the frustration of residents is the response from the military. IDF officials who examined the matter rejected the claims made by the residents that Hamas was digging tunnels underneath their homes. Last weekend, IDF officials came to the area and conducted special testing on the ground, which showed no indications that tunnels were being dug into the area, or that anything unusual was occurring.
“I do not know whether to trust what the army says, or if there is even really a tunnel here. There is terrible uncertainty over this,” one resident said.
PreOccupied Territory: Israeli Left Regrets Granting Suffrage To Non-Ashkenazim (satire)
The stunning electoral loss last week has ideologues and pragmatists on Israel’s political left wondering whether their predecessors made a mistake in allowing suffrage to Jews of non-European ancestry.
Mizrahim, as they are popularly known, account for about half of Israel’s Jewish population, but enjoy a much lower share of the country’s wealth, academic degrees, and political influence. Their electoral clout proved decisive in handing incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a convincing victory last Tuesday, as the Left’s campaign failed to resonate with periphery-dwelling, non-academic, non-European Jews who suffered decades of discrimination at the hands of the party that ran the country through its first thirty years and eventually became Labor. That display of ingratitude now has significant numbers of leftist Israelis reconsidering the wisdom of allowing a vote to anyone from a household earning less than the median income.
Just weeks ago, few in the Tel-Aviv-centered Zionist Union alliance, lead by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, would have thought that granting all adult citizens a vote would pose such a threat to democracy. But in the wake of the disastrous choice by so many of those unfortunate to have been born outside the Ashkenazi elite, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the darker-skinned “brethren” of those who actually know what they are doing would not know democracy if it bit them on their uneducated backsides.
Israeli Arab jailed for fighting in Syria
An Israeli court on Monday sentenced an Arab citizen to 11 months in prison for traveling to fight alongside Syrian rebels in the Jewish state’s war-torn neighbor.
Several Israeli Arabs have been arrested after returning from Syria, where armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad is now dominated by jihadists, including the Islamic State group.
Yusef Nasrallah traveled via Jordan to Syria where his intention was to “die as a martyr alongside rebels” fighting Assad, the court said in its verdict.
But two days after reaching Syria, Nasrallah was arrested by the Assad regime and spent eight months in prison where he was “tortured and interrogated.”
Australian Principal Tells Students Islamic State Was Created by Israel
The principal of an Islamic school in Melbourne tells his students that the Islamic State terror group was created by Israel and Western countries as a tool to control oil in the Middle East, Australia’s The Age reported on Monday.
“They are trained and equipped by them: [the] evidence is all the shiny new equipment,” said Al-Taqwa College Principal Omar Hallak. ”We don’t believe Muslims are creating IS.”
Hallak said he tells the almost 2,000 students at Al-Taqwa College, Victoria’s largest Islamic school, not to join Islamic State because it was created as a scheme by Western countries. He told the publication that he shows students “evidence” that Islamic State terrorists are “not linked to Islam” and that killing innocent people “is not the Islamic way.”
Australia a puzzling hotbed of Islamic State recruiting
A nightclub bouncer who reportedly became a terror group leader. A man who tweeted a photo of his young son clutching a severed head. A teenager who is believed to have turned suicide bomber, and others suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State movement. All of them, Australian.
The London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence reports that between 100 and 250 Australians have joined Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria. Given Australia's vast distance from the region and its population of just 24 million, it is a remarkable number. The center estimates that about 100 fighters came from the United States, which has more than 13 times as many people as Australia.
Experts disagree about why the Islamic State group has been so effective recruiting in Australia, which is widely regarded as a multicultural success story, with an economy in an enviable 24th year of continuous growth.
Possible explanations include that some Australian Muslims are poorly integrated with the rest of the country, and that Islamic State recruiters have given Australia particular attention. In addition, the Australian government failed to keep tabs on some citizens who had been radicalized, and moderate Muslims have been put off by some of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's comments about their community.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler: Palestinian Journalist Chronicles Brutal Life of Muslim Sister Wives
Polygamy is widely practiced in Gaza—and the women (or “sister wives”) are not happy about it.
So says Asmaa Al-Ghoul, who has just exposed this practice in an article for Al Monitor. Al-Ghoul is a heroic feminist Palestinian journalist who, in 2009, was fired for her work in which she exposed honor killings on the West Bank and in Gaza; she was harassed, threatened, and nearly arrested by Hamas for this work. I interviewed her at the time by phone and published a series of articles about her.
Now, she reports that polygamy is practiced by both rich and poor in Gaza. Anecdotally, she describes “hostility” and “hatred” between a pair of “sister-wives” who visited a beauty parlor together.
Swiss delegation arrives in Gaza, holds talks with Hamas
A senior source exclusively told the PIC reporter that the Swiss delegation assigned to discuss the Swiss paper on Gazan employees arrived in Gaza Strip on Monday.
The Swiss delegation’s visit aims at discussing Hamas’s proposals and remarks regarding the Swiss Road Map solving the former government-appointed civil servants, the source said.
The source pointed out that the delegation is holding separate talks with Hamas and other Palestinian factions as well as UN institutions in Gaza to discuss the employees file to follow up on previous efforts made by the delegation.
The Hamas leader Basim Naim had earlier told the PIC that Hamas accepts the Swiss initiative as a basis to solve the employees’ issue by integrating them in the ministries and official institutions.
The Swiss initiative offers a solution for Gaza employees’ crisis by integrating the employees, who were appointed after 2007 by the former government in the Gaza Strip, in the government service in order to include their salaries in the budget of the Palestinian Authority. (h/t Bob Knot)
Hamas Launches New Digital Propaganda Outlets
When the Hamas terrorist movement arose in 1988, the mosque was the main platform for spreading its ideas. Today, more than 26 years later, Hamas has a well-oiled media machine that operates TV channels, newspapers and websites. In order to become more open to the outside world, Hamas recently launched a range of new digital communication tools in several languages and on different platforms.
This week, Ismail Haniyeh, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau that runs Gaza with an iron first, launched the new official website of the movement in its new format. He did so from the reconstructed house that is now a shrine to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of Yassin’s targeted killing. During the launching of the new site, hamas.ps/ar/, Haniyeh said, “The website will strengthen the relations with the public.”
The Iran-backed terror organization said it uses the media as a tool to directly transfer its worldview to the world, “so it can hear from us, and not about us.” According to Haniyeh, these communication channels makes Hamas more open to the world. In his eyes, the movement’s official website is an official document, an archive, and a legacy conservation tool.
Hamas: Gaza 'Still Occupied' By Israel
Hamas has launched a new propaganda campaign against Israel - this time, claiming with the support of Palestinian Arabs and "human rights" organizations that Gaza "is still under Israeli Occupation."
In a broadcast on Hamas's new website, former Hamas government head Ismail Haniyeh stated that Gaza was "liberated" from the "occupier," and that the liberation is "proof that fighting can fulfill the hopes of our people and realize aspirations of a return to freedom and independence."
Haniyeh apparently failed to forge the connection between the terms "liberation" and "freedom," however.
"Our problem, our enemy, and our struggle is for the land of Palestine, and our gun is aimed only at the occupier, who steals our land," Haniyeh stated.
"We are not fighting the Jews because they are Jews, but we are fighting those who occupied the country and plunder the holy places and expelled our people and carried out massacres."
Haniyeh also stressed Hamas's determination to establish a Palestinian 'Right of Return' to Israel and to secure terrorist releases.
Military Officials Say Hezbollah on the Brink of War
The Lebanon-Israel border has been relatively quiet over the past several months, with no incidents recorded since January.
But another war could be on the way - and it will cost billions of shekels, experts say.
Military Intelligence officials, the IDF, and the defense establishment are all preparing for an inevitable full-fledged war with Hezbollah, Walla! News reports Tuesday - due, at least in part, to the increasing boldness of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
"Today more than ever, Nasrallah is willing to take risks with Israel that could get out of hand, instead of being perceived by Israel as weak," a senior defense official told the daily.
As such, Hezbollah has become more brazen in its open readiness to attack Israel, military sources stated. According to several IDF reports, Hezbollah terrorists have begun openly patrolling up and down the border - sometimes in civilian clothing, sometimes wearing Lebanese Army uniforms - and documenting on camera what happens each day on the border fence and documenting "engineering work."
Russia and Lebanon against Saudi, Qatar push to condemn Hezbollah at UN
Russia and the Lebanese government oppose Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s efforts at the UN Human Rights Council to condemn Hezbollah for its fighting in Syria, Lebanese media reported on Monday.
“This is absolutely illogical, because Hezbollah stands by the legitimate regime and does not fight it,” Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin said after speaking to Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, according to the Lebanese Daily Star.
Zasypkin claimed that the Syrian government was defending itself with Hezbollah’s help from a “terrorist offensive,” according to the report.
The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were pushing for an anti-Hezbollah clause in the closing statement of the Human Rights Council’s annual conference.
The Lebanese foreign minister argued against the move.
Southampton Univ. Loud on Israel, Silent on UK Rape Epidemic
Apparently the British don’t care much for their daughters. That can’t be true. But I only know what I read in the papers.
So I’m reading that it’s beginning to dawn on British parents that their daughters are being sexually assaulted at a rate that can only be called an epidemic.
We expect this to be happening in Muslim countries like France, Denmark and Sweden. But the English speak our language.
My own introduction into the crisis came some time ago from a report about Rotherham, where the locals took it in stride, that their girls, some as young as 8, were being sexually molested by Pakistani Muslim men. People were afraid to speak up. They’d be labeled Islamophobic. So they let it go, and the raping of thousands continued. Read this for the timeliest drama about the clash of civilizations.
So now we know that Rotherham is not alone. The problem is widespread and you would expect some action to be taken.
Well, yes, absolutely, but not about that – how about this?
The University of Southampton does not have the time and does not wish to be bothered about the fact that its neighbors are being sexually violated. That it’s happening next door and up the street, so close to home, well, well, dear, dear, but there is other business to attend to miles away – namely Israel.
‘Apology’ from the Red Rattler Theatre!!
Personally I do not for one moment believe the sincerity of this apology. I was very involved in this Green/Leftist area during the Marrickville Council’s boycott of Israel and the BDS action against Max Brenner.
I’ve seen these people in action and they hate with a vengeance.
I think they saw the groundswell against them and saw this being referred to the AHRC – Australian Human Rights Commission AND it maybe costing them money in legal fees.
Honest Reporting: When the Media Poodles Attack
HontestReporting’s Yarden Frankl joins VOI’s Josh Hasten in-studio to discuss this week’s media coverage of Israel. Topics include: syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer’s article about “media poodles” who bemoan the victory of Prime Minister Netanyahu because they are convinced that his reelection marks the death of the peace process; a Market Watch column claiming Israel launches military attacks during major sporting events so that fewer people notice; anti-Semitism in Australia; and another United Nations attack on Israel.
Times of London editorial misleads on Israel’s so-called Arab population bomb
This is the broader context within a claim in a March 19th Times of London post-election editorial, Myopia in Israel, on Binyamin Netanyahu’s putative reluctance to support the creation of a Palestinian state under current circumstances.
The [Netanyahu] offered young Israelis no sense of how the country should evolve if it rejects a two-state solution. Matching the prospect of an Iranian bomb, Israel is faced with a demographic time bomb. The birth rate among Arab families in Israel is so high that at some point Arabs will form a majority. The choice will be even more uncomfortable than the one posed on election day. It will be between Israelis having a Jewish state or a democratic one.
After we complained to Times of London editors that the language was misleading and confusing, they changed the sentence in bold. It now reads: “The birth rate among Arab families in Israel has been high enough to cause fears that at some point Arabs will form a majority.”
Though the revised language still renders the sentence extremely hard to decipher, even the narrow claim that some fear that “at some point Arabs will form a majority” due to “high birthrates” is very misleading.
UK Media Watch prompts Telegraph correction to false charge by ‘radical’ British artist
The Telegraph reporter didn’t challenge Bansky’s allegation that “no cement has been allowed into the area”, despite the fact that Reuters and other media outlets have reported that cement is indeed entering Gaza under an agreement struck with the UN. Thus, Telegraph readers are left with the false impression that Bansky’s claim is accurate.
After a series of emails with Telegraph editors, they agreed to add an additional sentence (in bold).
In the less than two-minute long video published on the artist’s website, Banksy refers to the “development opportunities” then adds that no cement has been allowed in to the area. However, small amounts of cement are now entering the territory under an agreement stuck by the United Nations allowing in reconstruction materials under tight restrictions.
Whilst the correction is of course welcome, the new claim that only “small amounts” of cement are entering Gaza is also a bit misleading.
Report of Argentine ‘Nazi jungle bolt-hole’ debunked
There is little evidence that a group of buildings in the Argentinian jungle was a secret hideout for Nazi war criminals and in fact probably predated World War II by many years, the researcher who made the supposedly shocking find told the Guardian Monday.
The stone structures, located in the steamy heart of the Teyú Cuaré national park, were touted as having been recently discovered by archaeologist Daniel Schavelzon, who suggested they were used by on the run Nazi war criminals after Germany’s defeat.
But Schavelzon said linking the find of some German coins and other wares to a supposed Nazi bolt-hole was “speculation on my part” that was blown out of proportion by the press.
“There is no documentation, but we found German coins from the war period in the foundations,” Schavelzon said.
Video Campaign Combats BDS, Calls For Investment In Israel
On campuses around the world calls for colleges, universities and church groups to join the BDS movement abound. BDS stands for Boycott, Divest, Sanctions and is a movement primarily aimed at Israel.
But a new video campaign seeks to get people to invest in Israel as a hub of innovation and technology.
The video opens by citing Jewish physicist Albert Einstein laid the foundation for the laser in 1917 while Ted Mainman, another Jewish physicist fired the first laser in 1960.
From there the video goes on to explain the explosion of technological innovations in Israel over the years. Israel has been so successful in developing tech companies that it has been dubbed "Start-up Nation."
"The idea is to remind people that many of the technologies that we take for granted, have Jewish origins," said video creator Brett Segal in an email to Truth Revolt.
Jewish Innovations - Virtual History Lesson - The Laser


Israel to host international Cybertech conference
Cybertech 2015, one of the biggest international cyber solutions conferences in the world, is scheduled to take place in Israel this week. The conference, organized by Israel Defense magazine and co-sponsored by the National Cyber Bureau at the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry, and the Economy and Trade Ministry, will be held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center on March 24-25.
According to the organizers, over 5,000 people are expected to attend the two-day conference, described by Israel Defense as "a summit of leading cybertech and cyber security companies and officials from Israel and the world over."
Delegations from 50 countries, including the United States, China, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Italy, Finland, the U.K. and Brazil, to name a few, are set to participate in the conference, where some 100 Israeli and international companies will present the latest innovations in the field.
China giant Alibaba teams up with Israeli VC for investments
The announcement was made ahead of an annual meeting of the firm’s investors and partners later Monday. The amount of the investment was not announced, but sources said that it was “substantial.”
According to a company source, JVP, with some $1 billion under management, attracted Alibaba’s attention with several of its recent “wins” – exits for companies like security firm CyberArk, which listed on the Nasdaq last year, and CyActive, which was recently bought by Paypal for $60 million. Altogether, some 20 JVP-invested firms have achieved exits since the firm was established in 1993. In 2012, VC industry monitor PEHub ranked JVP as one of the top ten VCs in the world, and one of only two outside the US in that category.
While Alibaba has already invested in Israeli start-ups – in January, the company announced a $5 million investment in Visualead, a start-up that develops QR (Quick Response) code technology – the investment with JVP will give Alibaba entrée to the heart of the top technologies being developed in Israel today. Among JVP’s projects, for example, is the Beersheba Cyber-Security Incubator, located in the Beersheba Advanced Technologies Park, which is home to the Israeli R&D facilities of several multinationals, including Deutsche Telekom, EMC, and Singtel.
A million hacks a day, but Israel’s electric grid survives
That Israel is a favorite target of hackers is common knowledge – but the sheer number and sophisticated level of those attacks is not as well known, according to the Israel Electric Corporation.
On the eve of the annual CyberTech conference in Tel Aviv Monday, IEC chairman Yiftah Ron-Tal said that during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, the company’s servers and infrastructure were attacked nearly a million times – a day.
“If we compare the number of cyber-attacks in the war to the relative number of missiles fired by Hamas, Israel’s electric grid was hit by two ‘cyber-missiles’ a day throughout 2013. In 2014, that would have been 15 a day,” said Ron-Tal, adding that, with all due respect to a missile that could destroy a single target, a “direct hit” on the electrical grid would have brought the entire country to its knees.
Preventing those kinds of attacks is a major motivator for Israel to develop the world’s best cyber-security technology, said Dr. Eviatar Matania, chairman of Israel’s National Cyber Bureau.
Opera in Jerusalem’s market
Shoppers at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda were alternately charmed, annoyed and dismissive of the opera singing heard in the open-air market Monday morning.
Two Israeli Opera singers, Shahar Levi and Tali Ketsef, performed pieces of Carmen and La Boheme in the market stalls, surrounded by chunks of cheese and crates of tomatoes and cucumbers.
The event was mostly a photo opportunity for the upcoming opera festival in June, said Lydia Weitzman, a spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, one of the sponsors of the week-long event planned for the capital in June.
Scheduled for June 24-28, the opera festival is centered around two performances of “L’elisir d’amore” (The Elixir of Love), a love story written by the 19th century Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. The opera will be performed by the Israeli Opera with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra on June 26 and 27 at Sultan’s Pool, an outdoor performance space situated under the Old City walls.
There will also be operettas, concerts and children’s operas performed around the city throughout the long weekend, aiming to draw adults and kids to the musical event.


Yehuda Avner, a devoted public servant who lived Israel’s history
It wasn’t until Ambassador Yehuda Avner, who died Tuesday in Jerusalem at age 86, wrote his well-received 2010 memoir, “The Prime Ministers,” that he realized that for most of his life he had been living Israeli history.
An ambassador and close adviser to five prime ministers, he had enjoyed both a front-row seat and a behind-the-scenes view at some of the most key moments in the young state’s developing story.
“Only after I finished my book did I realize that I was living the first 50 years of Israeli history. I never set out to write a history. I set out to write a story to bring these people I worked for and with to life,” Avner told The Times of Israel in October 2013 upon the release of a documentary film based on the first half of his book. (A film on the second half is currently screening at film festivals and is scheduled to open in US theaters this summer.)
“I didn’t have such clarity of mind at the time,” Avner recalled of the times when the events he recounted were actually unfolding. “It was all rather stressful and I was immersed in the job I was there to do.”
Avner was secretary and speechwriter to prime ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, and adviser to prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres. Later he represented Israel as a diplomat in New York and Washington, and eventually as Israeli ambassador to Great Britain and non-resident ambassador to the Republic of Ireland (1983-1988), and ambassador to Australia (1992-1995).


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