Friday, April 17, 2015

From Ian:

The bombing that wasn't
Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the question of why the Allies did not bomb the death facilities remains • The tremendous frustration felt by prisoners, who watched helplessly as bombers flew over them again and again, remains unabated.
Alongside military and tactical considerations, there were also very deep political and moral trends that precluded the bombing of the camps. The failure to intervene was the result of a tragic confluence of factors ranging from a lack of understanding, bureaucratic opposition, problematic timing and tense political circumstances. There was also the fear of sacrificing "precious" lives (those of the pilots) in order to save Jewish victims, who were thought of as less important by war planners.
Had Allied POWs been among those imprisoned in Auschwitz, "I think that they would have devoted much more thought to bombing the camps," Werrell said.
The tremendous frustration felt by the camp inmates -- who watched helplessly as the bombers flew over them time and again without dropping any explosives on the factories of death -- remains unabated. That frustration was compounded by the knowledge that even after Allied commanders refused to allocate forces for rescue mission, pilots did fly sorties to provide supplies to the combatants of the Warsaw Uprising (even while taking casualties). There was also the bombing of a French prison, a direct hit that was ordered in the hope of preventing the execution of 13 partisan fighters.
When it came to Auschwitz, there were no pilots available.
Haaretz's Gideon Levy Spreads His Anti-Israel Poison Abroad
The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz has a minimal following in Israel. According to a recent Target Group Index (TGI) survey, Haaretz‘s readership amounted to only 5.8% of the news market. And even this minimal share is higher than it was last summer during the IDF's Operation Protective Edge to stop Hamas rocket fire. At that time, numbers were even lower due to a slew of cancellations that were prompted by columnist Gideon Levy's Op-Ed demonizing Israeli pilots for carrying out their military orders. Most Israelis recognize Haaretz for what it is, an ideological newspaper with a far-left editorial policy that appears more interested in advocacy than in objective news gathering.
Gideon Levy serves on Haaretz's editorial board, penning a weekly column, "Twilight Zone," as well as political editorials for the newspaper. He is known in Israel as an acrimonious, anti-Israel ideologue and activist, recently arrested for spitting and cursing at IDF soldiers, who often invents his own facts to support his radical agenda. His fan base consists primarily of fellow Israel haters and activists, while mainstream Israelis and journalists dismiss him as a dishonest propagandist.
Discredited by the mainstream in his own country, Levy has taken to spewing his vitriol and promoting boycotts against the Jewish state in foreign countries where he can try to influence uninitiated audiences with dishonest calumnies against Israel. He sells himself as a heroic truth-teller who has "made it his mission," as one recent Canadian interviewer described him, "to bear witness to Palestinian life in the occupied territories." Levy acknowledges his countrymen's disdain for him, but does not attribute this to his libelous fabrications. Rather, he tries to cultivate an image of himself as a whistle blower who has incurred the hatred of his countrymen for allegedly exposing the nasty truth about them. He is aided and abetted in this task by anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic organizations and foreign journalists all too ready to believe the worst about Israel and grant this dishonest ideologue the platform from which to disgorge propaganda against his country.
Verdict on judicial review of Southampton conference cancellation: The anti-Semites lose.
The conference organisers own barrister suggested that terrorists would not strike at the conference because it would be an ‘own goal’ ( at least it shows they are aware whose side they are on).
The conference organisers attempted to discredit Sussex Friends of Israel. Firstly by stating they are not a Jewish group (and therefore imply they could not be a target for a terror attack) and secondly by continually connecting them with the EDL as two groups ‘working together’. SFoI were the only referenced element of the Jewish protests. It was a dirty tactic they repeated several times
The conference organisers astonishingly commented that the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen were in no way related to Israel or Palestine. Whilst anti-Semitism predates Israel and exists away from it, I do not know of any sane person that does not believe there is a correlation between events in Israel and the amount of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe.
The conference organisers argument was known to be weak. They had been warned there was little chance of success. They were therefore ordered to pay partial defence costs.
The conference organisers were battered; there was no a single point they attempted to put across that was accepted.
In the end it was so one-sided I almost began to feel sorry for them (okay, not quite).

Memorial Day to honor 116 more fallen soldiers this year
Number of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism rises to 23,320, including 67 killed in summer's Gaza war • The 116 who died in the last year leave 131 bereaved parents, 187 siblings, 11 widows, and 26 children, two born after their fathers' deaths.
Next Wednesday's Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism will include a ceremony honoring the 116 soldiers and former soldiers who died over the last year, 67 of them killed in Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer.
One of the 67, Golani Brigade Sgt. Oron Shaul, was never buried as Hamas fighters took his body, leaving the Israel Defense Forces to classify him as a fallen soldier with an unknown grave.
The 116 deaths include 35 war disabled who died from their injuries over the past year.
The 116 soldiers who died over the last year have left behind 131 bereaved parents, 187 siblings, 11 widows, and 26 children, two of whom were born after their fathers died.
This year's deaths raise the number of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism since the beginning of political Zionism to 23,320. Among them are 553 fallen with graves unknown.
Netanyahu makes Time's list of 100 most influential people
Time Magazine has listed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as one of its "100 Most Influential People" in its 2015 edition, to be published April 27.
Netanyahu's entry was written by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who was Netanyahu's commander in the Israel Defense Forces and later his defense minister.
"I knew Bibi, decades ago, as a soldier and young officer under my command facing real fire. He was determined, effective and focused. Character does not change. Chickensh-t he is not," Barak wrote.

FBI director: Holocaust museum program a must for new agents
FBI director James Comey called the Holocaust the most significant event in history and said that’s why a US Holocaust Memorial Museum program on its lessons is mandatory for new agents.
Speaking Wednesday at the museum’s National Tribute dinner in Washington, Comey made a point of noting that new special agents and intelligence analysts must attend the Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust program.
“It is of course significant because it was the most horrific display in the world of inhumanity,” Comey told the 1,000 donors, dignitaries and survivors at the dinner. “But I believe it was also the most horrific display in world history of our humanity, of our capacity for evil and for moral surrender.”
He added, “Good people helped to murder millions. And that’s the most frightening lesson of all. That is why I send our agents and our analysts to the museum. I want them to stare at us and realize our capacity for rationalization and moral surrender.”
German blacksmith creates replica of stolen Dachau gate
A wrought-iron gate bearing the cynical slogan “Arbeit macht frei,” or “Work sets you free,” that was stolen from the former Dachau concentration camp in November will soon be restored, thanks to the work of a German blacksmith tasked with making a replica of the symbol of Nazi cruelty.
Working off photos and drawings of the original gate, Bavarian blacksmith Michael Poitner, is forging the letters over a coal fire in his blacksmith shop near Dachau in southern Germany, bending them into shape and laying them into the gate.
The gate — measuring 190 by 95 centimeters (75 by 37 inches) — will be set into a larger iron gate shortly before the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by US forces on April 29, 1945.
Poitner said Thursday he first felt ambivalent about recreating the infamous Nazi slogan, but in the end decided it was important to help restore the original state of the concentration camp.
The Necessity of the Fighting Jew on Campus
How do Jews declare their freedom?
We spend each year celebrating holidays that honor the Jewish people’s defiance against oppression and our quest for liberty in a handful of holidays. These include Passover, Purim and Chanukah.
While these three holidays only represent a microcosm of how prideful the Jewish people are of the stories of justice, freedom and liberty, greater stories must be told in the same manner that we honor the sacrifices of Mordechai, Judah and Moshe.
In fact, Jews can celebrate the latest miracles of the past one hundred years.
The problem, of course, remains that most Jews do not fully comprehend the links between our contemporary victories and those of antiquity. Whenever a Jew hears the word “Zionism,” they are often reminded of a vicious Jew-hating campaign of the collectivists, the Islamist extremists, and the neo-Nazis to ostracize its champions. This remains especially true on college campuses, when Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace demonize the term completely out of historical context to uphold their deplorable, false narrative. Jewish or pro-Israel students do not repeat the true Zionist story, mostly out of fear of campus censorship initiated by opinionated professors and catalyzed by their intolerant peers.
This article was rejected by The Huffington Post. It was run in the Times of Israel
24 Days, 26 Murderers: The Story of Ilan Halimi
Algerian born French filmmaker, Alexandre Arcady, has directed a small masterpiece. 24 Days is a gripping and somber police drama. Even though we know the outcome, we are nevertheless at the edge of our seats, fearing what we might see next, knowing what is to come, wanting to reach out to the anguished family, perhaps to comfort them.
This film fictionalizes a searing, heartbreaking, Jewish and French tragedy. In 2002, the world was shocked when al-Qaeda released their pornographic death video of Daniel Pearl’s be-heading in Pakistan. This eternally haunting image was, incredibly, surpassed by the information, sans image, that in 2006, Ilan Halimi, a young French Jew of Moroccan origin had been kidnapped and tortured for three whole weeks by a mainly Muslim gang, aptly named “The Barbarians.” Youssouf Fofana (“Django,” in the film—commandingly played by Tony Harrisson) led 26 people who were “in” on this almost surreal and dastardly deed; twenty-four additional people knew about what was happening but refused to make a single anonymous call to the police. They did this, ostensibly, for money.
In a sense, France prepared the ground work for just such an atrocity. It persecuted Captain Alfred Dreyfus which ironically led to the creation of the state of Israel. The very assimilated Austrian journalist Theodore Herzl covered Dreyfus’s trial, understood that the Jews were endangered in Europe and urgently needed their homeland. He pioneered a vibrant Zionist movement.
Charlie Hebdo's dead editor in posthumous attack on left-wing French intellectuals
It slams Islamists who apply the Koran to the letter as if they were "putting up Ikea shelves", and are ready to "cut the infidel's throats along the dotted line otherwise God will deprive me of Club Med in the afterlife".
But it saves its heaviest salvos for Left-leaning intellectuals, described as "ridiculous demagogues" for accusing Charlie Hebdo of going too far by publishing drawings of Mohammad. Many then joined mass street demonstrations after his death under the 'Je Suis Charlie' banner.
"The suggestion that you can laugh at everything, except certain aspects of Islam, because Muslims are much more susceptible that the rest of the population, what is that, if not discrimination?," it asks.
"It's time to finish with this disgusting paternalism of the white, left-wing bourgeois intellectual seeking to prove himself among the 'poor unfortunate undereducated'," it goes on.
Lawsuit Barrage Against Leftist 'Settlement Boycott' Groups
The Legal Forum for Israel is preparing to submit a series of lawsuits against leftist organizations that call to boycott products from Judea and Samaria, after the High Court this week ruled that those calling to boycott the state of Israel must pay compensation for their economic damage.
Attorney Yifa Segel of the Forum told Arutz Sheva that "we were witnesses in recent years to calls to boycott goods, an academic boycott, an artist boycott and more, they made blacklists against us."
According to the attorney, since the law against boycott groups which was authored by Likud MK Ze'ev Elkin passed, there has been a dramatic decrease among the leftist organizations.
"Some dropped their activities drastically, and some still continue," she said.
Segel said the lawsuits her organization is planning to launch will have a serious impact on the leftist organizations promoting boycotts, and will deter them significantly.

Target of anti-Israel witch hunt stands up for freedom of speech
Led by a former Pessin student Lamiya Khandaker, the letters condemned Pessin’s use of language in a Facebook post in which he ambiguously compared the situation in Gaza to a “rabid pit bull chained in a cage, regularly making efforts to escape” while the liberal world looks on and decries its imprisonment.
Impassioned, Khandaker wrote, “I am infuriated, repulsed and depressed. I feel unsafe… I had not understood the exact importance of my role as Chair of Diversity and Equity until actual encounters with subtle institutional racism were taking place at our academic institution.”
Previously, in mid-February, Pessin had been approached by Khandaker via email about the language in the post. Pessin immediately wrote back to clarify he was not talking about all Palestinians, rather Hamas, and that she had misunderstood his intent. He apologized and deleted it.
He thought that was the end of it, when really, the nightmare had only just begun.
In conversation with The Times of Israel this week, Pessin, who is on medical leave from the college, audibly shrugged and said, “The one-sentence version is a Connecticut College student affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine basically went through all of my writings about Israel, everything on Facebook and the Huffington Post, until she could find one thing she could twist out of context to look racist against Palestinians to ignite a whole campus storm in the name of defending racism.”
Pessin, who is Jewish and the author of several popular works on philosophy, said he is a strong pro-Israel advocate “on the side,” but he has kept his advocacy out of the classroom.
Israelis said to suffer boycott at German parliament
According to the program’s website, the initiative is meant to provide “exciting ways of teaching young people about the significance of friendly cooperation based on shared political and cultural values.”

However, according to Channel 10, controversy brewed this year when — for the first time — representatives were grouped according to their region, and Israelis were placed alongside Palestinian and Lebanese delegates in one of the program’s central events. The Arab representatives then said they would refuse to appear alongside the Israelis on the same stage.
Initially a solution appeared to have been found whereby the three nations would be accompanied on stage by delegates from several other countries. But the Lebanese and Palestinians backtracked, demanding that the Israelis sign a document that recognizes the “illegality” of the occupation, alleged Israeli crimes against Palestinians, and other such clauses.
The IPS leadership at first warned the Arab representatives that they would be expelled from the program should they persist in their refusal, but eventually caved and allowed them to appear on stage with other Arab nations, while the Israelis were forced to appear alone.
Anti-Semitism 101 at University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine plans to host an event on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which falls this year on Thursday. The purpose of this event is not to commemorate the Holocaust but rather to vandalize the day by painting Israelis as modern-day Nazis.
This perverse ahistorical comparison fits squarely under the State Department definition of anti-Semitism. According to Pitt, however, this is academically enriching and students can be given incentives to attend.
As stated on Web pages advertising this event, “SJP Holocaust Rememberence [sic] Day” … “qualifies and is offered as [Outside the Classroom Curriculum] credit.”
According to the Pitt website, OCC is “designed to help students receive a well-rounded education … and ultimately gain a competitive edge.” By recording one’s attendance at 70 events over four years in 10 different “goal areas,” students can earn the right to “graduate with distinction” and qualify for a $1,500 Pitt Advantage Grant, among other “perks.” Any student can use attendance at SJP’s event to eventually be honored and rewarded by the university.
Did George Galloway Just Retweet an Implicit Threat to British Jews?
George Galloway is the pro-Hamas, pro-Hezbollah MP from Bradford West who routinely demonizes Israel, Israelis and the state’s Jewish supporters in the diaspora. Though Galloway has blocked us, a pro-Israel activist who hasn’t been blocked forwarded a snapshot of the following retweet by Galloway from just a couple of days ago.
The tweet was sent by a pro-Palestinian activist named Baz Hussain on April 14. It was tweeted directly to George Galloway, and shows Hussain with a Palestinian flag outside of the Bradford Reform Synagogue. Three Jews, including what appears to be a child, are outside the synagogue doors.
The photo, we’ve learned, is from last August and depicts Hussain taking part in a protest against Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub, who was speaking at the synagogue. Taub was speaking to the Jewish community in Bradford in defiance of Galloway’s declaration that the community was an “Israeli-free zone”.
Hussain adds the following to the photo of himself outside the Bradford synagogue: “Let me at em George…”.
Galloway retweeted this to his 239,000 followers.
UC Santa Barbara student senate votes down anti-Israel resolution
The University of California, Santa Barbara, student senate narrowly voted down an Israel divestment resolution.
Following an eight-hour debate, the resolution was defeated early Thursday morning in a vote of 13 against and 12 in favor, with one abstention. The Associated Students Senate president cast the deciding vote against the resolution.
The resolution, written by Students for Justice in Palestine, called on the university to divest from companies selling equipment to the Israeli government for use in the West Bank. The resolution singles out Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon, Motorola, Caterpillar and General Electric.
Dozens of students spoke during the student government’s public forum, according to the Daily Nexus, the student newspaper.
20 Watchdog Groups Want UC Riverside Anti-Semitic Course Removed
On Thursday, twenty Jewish and education advocacy groups organized by The AMCHA Inititative wrote the University of California (UC) Riverside chancellor calling on him to cancel an anti-Semitic course being offered this quarter. The class, titled, “Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid,” is being taught by Tina Matar, an undergraduate student in UC Riverside’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter.
The letter to the chancellor read: “The course schedule is filled with egregiously one-sided, anti-Israel readings and films that falsely paint Israel as a settler-colonial and apartheid state, hold Israel to a double standard to which no other democratic country is held, vilify and demonize Israel and Israel’s supporters, and argue for an end to the Jewish state; these tropes are all considered anti-Semitic according to the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.”
As the groups assert that Matar will likely attempt to politically indoctrinate the students, as the course syllabus indicates, they said that the course violates University policy. The letter also asked the university to investigate the Office of Undergraduate Education and the R’Course Governing Board, which must approve student-led classes.
Lynch faces Sydney University sanction
Sydney University has issued a “show cause” letter to academic Jake Lynch, threatening him with disciplinary action over his conduct at a public lecture last month which was interrupted by pro-Palestinian students.
...The “show cause” letters ­allege breaches of university rules by a number of people at the melee in which students, one using a megaphone, shouted and chanted pro-Palestinian slogans as retired British colonel Richard Kemp, a vocal defender of the ­Israeli Defence Force, was giving his talk.
In a statement yesterday, the university said it had issued letters to 13 people as a result of an investigation launched by vice-chancellor Michael Spence which followed dozens of complaints against Professor Lynch, the protesting students, the security guards who manhandled the protesters as Professor Lynch urged the guards to stop, and members of the public, including one who has admitted throwing water at the protesters, Jewish semi-­retired English literature lecturer Diane Barkas.
Ms Barkas, as revealed by The Australian yesterday, rejects Professor Lynch’s claims that she kicked him during the fracas, but admits trying to grab his mobile phone.
Professor Lynch held up a $5 note in front of Ms Barkas and ­repeatedly said he would sue her and it would cost her money, which he said he did only to try to stop what he claims was her ­assault.
The investigation found one staff member, five students and two contractors engaged by the university “may have engaged in conduct that breached the university’s codes of conduct”, and that five members of the public also engaged in untoward behaviour.
73-year-old Jewish lady denies academic’s claim that she kicked him between the legs
The Jewish woman at the centre of allegations of anti-Semitism levelled against Sydney University academic Jake Lynch has ­denied she kicked the pro-Palestinian professor in a melee last month when students disrupted a public lecture.
The woman, whom The Australian can reveal as semi-retired English literature lecturer and sometime stand-up comedienne Diane Barkas, 73, did admit to pouring water on the demon­strators as they loudly drowned out an address by retired British army colonel Richard Kemp....
Ms Barkas told The Australian yesterday that while she could not know what was in Professor Lynch’s mind, she found his ­action in waving a $5 note in front of her face and threatening that she would lose a lot of money in a lawsuit consistent with the sort of anti-Jewish remarks she endured as a child at school in England.
Another CNN Screwup: The 32-Year-Old 'New Settlement'
Nearly three decades after it was established, CNN has “discovered” the town of Mevo Horon – and declared it an “illegal settlement,” according to Yehudit Tiar, one of the town's long-time residents. “When I contacted them, they themselves admitted that they weren't clear on the dates. It just goes to show the quality of research and level of believability in the mass media.”
The “discovery” of CNN was apparently made over Passover, when the news network broadcast a story about a “new settlement” that was “causing distress to three Palestinian villages.” Tiar found out about it when a friend called her to congratulate her on the “new settlement,” describing the TV report.
Mevo Horon in located in Samaria, south of Modiin and a kilometer east of Ayalon (Canada) Park. Although it is in lands liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, it is barely two kilometers in all directions from the 1949 armistice lines, and does not abut any Arab villages.
BBC’s Yolande Knell promotes Muslim Brotherhood messaging
One might have perhaps thought that in the four years which have passed since the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt, BBC correspondents would have had the opportunity to garner enough understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood to prevent them from repeating the same face value acceptance – and amplification – of its messaging as was seen in BBC coverage of the events at the time.Knell MB art
However, if the article titled “Muslim Brotherhood: From rapid rise to sharp decline” produced by Yolande Knell on April 13th is anything to go by, not only is that is definitely not the case, but Edward Mortimer’s description of Muslim Brotherhood statements being naively “accepted … at face value” by BBC “expert commentators” may be in need of review.
Knell has no comment to add on the use of the phrase “democratic process” by a supporter of an organization which states that its intention is to create a state ruled by religious law which discriminates against women, non-Muslim minorities and others.
French PM launches action plan against anti-Semitism, racism
France’s prime minister announced Friday the government would pour 100 million euros into a major anti-racism and anti-Semitism action plan devised in the aftermath of the deadly Paris jihadist attacks.
The program, which among other measures increases penalties for crimes deemed to have been fueled by racism and anti-Semitism, comes as at a time when acts against Muslims and Jews have shot up in France.
“Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners, homophobia are increasing in an unbearable manner,” Manuel Valls said in the Paris suburb city of Creteil, the scene of a brutal attack on a Jewish man and his girlfriend in December.
Why Does the Muslim World Deny the Holocaust?
A conference on Holocaust denial in the Muslim world was held at Bar-Ilan University this week ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, featuring numerous academics, several journalists, and Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch.
At the event Arutz Sheva got a chance to speak with Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University, a renowned expert of Arabic and the Arab world.
Kedar argued the Arab world denies the Holocaust "because any acknowledging that the Holocaust actually was is in their view legitimizing Israel, and giving Israel (a reason) to live and to exist."
"They deny the Holocaust, they deny the Jewish history, they deny the Jewish connection to this country," he explained.
While much of the Arab world denies the Holocaust, Dr. Kedar noted that alternately some are taught about the Holocaust, but they are taught to think poorly of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler not for his genocide, but rather "because he didn't finish the job with the Jews."

Israel, India team up to cure cancer
Days after the Technion announced that a team led by Nobel Prize laureate Professor Aaron Ciechanover had discovered how proteins could be used to suppress cancer and control tumor growth and development, the institute revealed that it had entered into an exclusive agreement with India’s Sun Pharmaceuticals — the world’s fifth-largest specialty generic pharmaceutical company and India’s top pharmaceutical company.
Under the agreement, researchers from the Technion and Sun will conduct studies on how high concentrations of two proteins can protect tissue from tumors. A study published in the medical journal Cell this week discussed how the proteins can suppress malignancies.
Along with Ciechanover, the research team included Dr. Gila Maor and Professor Ofer Binah. In a statement, Ciechanover said that the research held a great deal of promise of an effective drug for treating cancer, “although this is not a certainty, and the road to such a drug is long and far from simple.”
The deal with Sun is just one of several R&D ventures between Israel and India, on both the business and government levels. So far, the two countries have signed seven bilateral economic and R&D agreements, including one that fosters joint projects on space travel and satellite development.
India’s Tech Mahindra to set up R&D Centre in Israel
India’s IT firm Tech Mahindra is partnering with US-Israeli technology company Comverse Inc. to set up a research and development centre in Israel.
Tech Mahindra provides IT and Networking solutions to telecom companies worldwide. Comverse Inc. offers business solutions to telecom service providers. Its portfolio includes value added services, revenue and customer management.
Tech Mahindra is part of Mahindra Group, a $16.5 billion Indian multinational. The technlogy company employs more than 98,000 people in 51 countries.
According to press release issued by Tech Mahindra, both companies have agreed on a strategic partnership. The statement did not disclose financial details of the proposed R&D Centre.
Israeli Newspaper Estimates Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Spent Almost $1M on Israel Trip
Israeli newspapers are reporting that on their recent trip to Israel, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West spent nearly $1 million on various expenditures.
Among the luxurious big ticket items the celebrity couple paid for was a presidential suite at a top hotel, a flight on a private jet and armored vehicles, among other things.
The couple, who traveled with their daughter, North, and Kim’s sister Khloe, rented the private jet to transport a team of 25 people that accompanied them, including photographers, make-up artists, assistants and security guards from Armenia. These expenses alone cost them approximately $200,000.
When they landed at the airport, they were greeted by reception staff from Leopard – a VIP services company, ensuring that their arrival in Ben Gurion would run smoothly, according to Israel’s Channel 2.
How Sabra hummus conquered America
A couple of decades ago, almost no one in America ate hummus. It was hard to find, the chickpea pastes labeled as hummus were pretty lousy and no one could pronounce the food correctly.
Americans still can’t pronounce hummus, but now it’s available at nearly every supermarket in the country – not to mention at airports, NFL stadiums and in large tubs at Costco.
Much of America’s hummus explosion can be traced to one company, Sabra, which was in the news last week after an outbreak of listeria in Sabra hummus prompted a major recall. Its rival Tribe has also gotten a fair amount of attention.
Just how did an Israeli-founded hummus company conquer America? For one thing, it got bought by food giant PepsiCo. It also did a lot of sampling events, TV advertising and partnerships.
Israel Post issues Cyrus Declaration stamp
In the year 539 BCE, after uniting the Persian and Median kingdoms under his rule, king Cyrus subdued the Babylonian Empire. In 538 BCE King Cyrus made a public declaration granting the Jews the right to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
Many modern biblical researchers were skeptical about the wording of the declaration as described in the Book of Ezra. Among other things, they claimed that it was improbable that a Persian king would have made a declaration in Hebrew or declared that he was acting as a messenger of the God of Israel.
But archeological excavations conducted in the ancient city of Babylon in 1879, discovered a clay cylinder bearing a long inscription in Akkadian. The inscription included a plea made by King Cyrus to the Babylonians in which he declared that he had acted on behalf of the Babylonian god Marduk. "I, Cyrus King of Babylonia… Marduk the Great Lord… blessed me… and I built for them a permanent Temple. I gathered all their inhabitants and restored their place of residence." This archeological discovery strengthened the view that Cyrus was sympathetic and supportive of all the peoples under his rule and that the Declaration which appeared in the Bible was an accurate reflection of history.
The Cylinder of Cyrus appears in the foreground of the stamp, with decorations inspired by Persian art in the background.
Postcard from the past
A new translation of the Latin accounts of one of the most famous 15th century pilgrims to the Holy Land, Friar Felix Fabri, includes unique, humorous descriptions of Solomon's Stables, the Tomb of Absalom, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and more.
In a sheet that he wrote as a guide for pilgrims to the Holy Land, which he appended to his account of his travels, Fabri also warned visitors "to be sure not to laugh as they walk together to visit the holy places." He cautioned them "to take care to avoid passing by the tombs of Muslims," since "the Muslims become very angry on seeing pilgrims near their tombs ... and throw stones at anyone who passes by there, believing that this disturbs the rest of the deceased."
A preacher and pilgrim of Swiss descent, Fabri visited Israel in 1480 and 1483 during the late Mamluk period, roughly 35 years before the Turks conquered the country, and wrote Latin accounts of his travels. His writings show that he was a colorful, sharp-tongued cynic blessed with a sense of humor, unlike the sober seriousness of the writings of many other pilgrims who traveled to the Land of Israel.
Although Fabri visited all the sites that were visited by other well-known pilgrims of his time -- such as Rabbi Meshullam of Volterra, the German pilgrim Bernhard von Breidenbach, and Rabbi Obadia ben Avraham Bartenura -- his works differed from theirs in spirit. He took a much freer tone and was less restrained by convention, and was not afraid to poke fun at his co-religionists and lash out at the Muslims and a little at the Jews as well, all in lighthearted language.

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