Friday, October 23, 2015

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Ted Cruz: A fresh approach to American foreign policy – and US-Israel relations
US Senator Ted Cruz, the conservative Republican firebrand from Texas, is running for president. Up until a few weeks ago, his candidacy was met with indifference as the media and political operatives all dismissed the viability of his candidacy. But that is beginning to change. The voices arguing that Cruz, the favorite of Tea Party fiscal conservatives and Evangelical Christians may have what it takes to win the Republican nomination have multiplied.
Since arriving in Washington four years ago, Cruz has arguably been Israel’s most avid defender in the Senate. During Operation Protective Edge in July 2014, Cruz used his authority as a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee to force the Obama administration to end the Federal Aviation Commission’s ban on US flights to Ben-Gurion Airport. Cruz announced at the time that he would put a hold on all State Department appointments until the administration justified the flight ban.
Rather than defend its position, the administration restored flights to Israel after 36 hours.
Last summer Cruz led the national opposition to US President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. He brought thousands of activists to the Capitol to participate in a rally he organized calling for Congress to vote down the deal. Rather than use the rally as a means to promote himself, Cruz invited Republican front-runner real estate developer Donald Trump to join him at the rally. Trump’s participation ensured that the event received wide coverage from the national media.
I interviewed Cruz by telephone from the campaign trail earlier this week about his views on the purpose of American foreign policy, US-Israel relations, the Iran nuclear deal and the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
Elliott Abrams: A New Middle East Policy
Recently a group of Republican national security experts, mostly academics and former officials, joined to produce Choosing to Lead, a volume aimed at describing what a foreign policy for a new Republican administration in 2017 should look like. I contributed the chapter on Israel and the Arabs, and it can be found here.
Here’s one paragraph:
Sharing common enemies, Israel and its Arab neighbors have obvious common security interests. They face a dangerous enemy in Iran, newly enriched by the end of international sanctions and the unfreezing of more than $100 billion in assets. They also face a group of non-state and semi-state actors, the jihadis of al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the powerful Iranian-backed Hizballah. Meanwhile, the prospect of major conventional warfare between the Arab states and Israel is virtually nil. What is so striking now is that, although the United States managed to maintain balanced and friendly relations with Israel and the Arabs for decades, even when they were nearly at war (and sometimes even when they were at war), today we have poor relations with both sides just when their own relations are the least fraught in their history.
Israeli Journalist Under Fire From European Counterparts for Exposing Extent of French Antisemitism (INTERVIEW)
Israeli journalist Zvika Klein has recently become the target of hostile international media outlets and BDS activists for a feature he produced eight months ago.
Two France 2 reporters, Thierry Vincent and Julien Nativel, decided to put Klein’s thesis about French antisemitism to the test, by producing a video of their own, using the same model. Vincent, though not a Jew, donned a kippah and spent days wandering around Paris. The finished product was released last week.
Lo and behold, as Vincent said he had expected, the results were nothing like those of Klein.
“In the 12 days [I spent] with a kippah [on my head], I experienced no violence or insult,” Vincent asserted. “Antisemitism exists, as all the numbers say, but how is my video so different from that of Zvika Klein? Who is this journalist?”
Casting aspersions on Klein — whose newspaper is one of two media outlets owned by American-Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (the other one being Israel Hayom) – was easy for Vincent to do on political grounds. The left-wing leanings of his network, as well as its unfavorable coverage of Israel, are no secret.
Still, he did make a special trip to Jerusalem a few weeks ago to meet with Klein and interview him for a broadcast. It was during that session, Klein told The Algemeiner, that Vincent revealed he had created his own video, which yielded opposite results. Far from taunting him, Vincent showed, the public was friendly.
“I told him I was glad to hear that his experiences as a ‘Jew’ in Paris were positive, because all the French Jews I’ve spoken to say they’re afraid to be visibly Jewish,” Klein said. “And I stood by my own findings, which are more in sync with statistics about French antisemitism than his.”
What Harriet Sherwood didn’t tell you in her report on JK Rowling’s anti-BDS letter
However, there’s a striking omission in Sherwood’s own article. She failed to note her own support for boycotts against Israel, a position she made clear in her swan song at the Guardian in April of 2014.
Sherwood is of course entitled to her view that Israelis are “shielded from the [daily grind] of occupation”, and so perhaps only the “economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium” of boycotts will force Israelis “to take notice”.
However, Guardian readers, it seems, deserve to know that the author of a report critical of JK Rowling’s decision to prioritize Israeli-Palestinian co-existence over “discriminatory” boycotts is herself on record supporting a campaign of exclusion against the Jewish state.

Caroline Glick: Crazy like a fox
Then of course there was The New York Times with its stunning “background” piece purporting to provide its readers with historical context regarding the competing Israeli and Palestinian claims regarding the Temple Mount. The Times reported as fact the false claim that there is a debate among respected academics regarding whether the Jewish temples were actually located on the Temple Mount.
In other words, the Times unabashedly participated in the Palestinian project of rewriting history in a manner that erases Jewish history from the Jewish homeland.
Netanyahu recognizes that the media have sided with the Palestinians in their war to destroy Israel through a mix of terror and propaganda.
He knows that the only stories they will report on are stories with an anti-Israel angle. It is reasonable then to assume that he decided to use their embrace of every possible angle of attack as a means to get the truth out about the nature of the war.
By exaggerating Husseini’s importance in the Holocaust, Netanyahu gave the media a means of attacking him. But by doing so, he forced the Times to report on the Palestinians’ founding father’s role in destroying European Jewry and his desire to carry out the Final Solution in the Middle East. They would have ignored the issue if Netanyahu had not exaggerated his actual role.
Due to his “gaffe,” every Western media outlet reported on Husseini’s actions. Some even mentioned that in his PhD dissertation, current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the Holocaust was both a myth and a joint Zionist-Nazi project. For most Westerners, this is the first they’ve heard of the fact that the Palestinian’s George Washington was a Nazi war criminal.
Like I said, crazy as a fox.
JPost Editorial: Holocaust lessons
Third, focusing so much on the mufti’s role during the Holocaust comes across as a defensive strategy sometimes employed by Israelis to counter Palestinian claims that they are being asked to pick up the bill for the crime of European Christians. If it can be proved that Palestinians, or at least Palestinian political leadership, were complicit in the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry – so the argument goes – then it is only fair that Palestinians be asked to pay for their actions during World War II.
But Jews did not come to the Land of Israel to punish Palestinians, they came because this is their homeland, it is the place to which they have been yearning to return for nearly two millennia.
Finally, allegations such as the one made by Netanyahu only obscure the actual role that the mufti played in the Holocaust. It is a matter of historical record that he recruited Muslim troops to fight alongside the Nazis and that he lobbied the Germans to prevent prisoner exchanges or other deals that would have saved thousands of Jewish refugees, including children.
The Holocaust teaches us to be wary of leaders who incite to violence and repeatedly threaten to exterminate another people.
Ben-Dror Yemini: Netanyahu's Mufti myth
In effect, many historians attribute the Mufti with splintering Arab society in the Mandate of Palestine. Even after Rommel's defeat in the Battle of El Alamein, the Mufti continued in his genocidal attempts and even crafted Operation Atlas in an effort to poison the water in Tel Aviv with the use of German paratroopers. The operation failed.
The fact that the Mufti was a devout Nazi is not up for debate. In all matters concerning the systematic murder of Jews, he seems to have been a Nazi before the Nazis even existed. But Wisliceny's claims created controversy among historians.
In any case, there's no reason to give Hitler a free pass. He certainly didn't need the Mufti in order to hate the Jews and the Mufti didn't need him. They simply found soul mates in one another. After all, birds of a feather flock together.
Netanyahu, Husseini and the historians
Netanyahu added the following:
Unfortunately, Haj Amin al-Husseini is still a revered figure in Palestinian society. He appears in textbooks and it is taught that he is one of the founding fathers of the nation, and this incitement that started then with him, inciting the murder of Jews – continues. Not in the same format, but in a different one, and this is the root of the problem. To stop the murders, it is necessary to stop the incitement. What is important is to recognize the historical facts and not ignore them, not then and not today.”
Here the Prime Minister is on rock solid ground. Far from denouncing Husseini for spreading lies, absurd conspiracy theories and radical anti-Semitism, he has remained a revered figure in Palestinian political memory. The absurdities for which Husseini became famous in the 1940s have continued to play a far too prominent role in the Palestinian political culture ever since. He did incite others to murder Jews. He did spread ridiculous conspiracy theories comparable to those of the Nazis. He did all that he could to help the Nazis in a failing effort to spread the Holocaust to the Middle East and to win the war in Eurpoe. He left behind a legacy of hatred, paranoia, religious fanaticism and celebration of terror so long as it was aimed at Jews and Israelis. The Palestinian authority and Hamas even more so has kept that legacy is alive and well and fills the heads of Palestinian teenagers with rubbish that has led to the terror wave of recent weeks.
The Prime Minister has erred in his understanding of the timing of Hitler’s decision-making, but he is right about Husseini’s disastrous impact on Palestinian political culture. I hope that the discussion his comments have generated will draw more attention to the now abundant scholarship on Husseini’s role in collaborating with the Nazis in their failed efforts to murder the Jews of North African and the Middle East during World War II. We need more public discussion about the atrocious legacy he left behind that has been playing itself out, yet again, in the knife attacks on the streets of Israel’s cities. That legacy of a political culture that venerates violence and anti-Semitism is a huge barrier to successful diplomacy and resolution of the old conflict. The more decision-makers in Washington cast a harsh glare on the enduring impact of Husseini’s legacy, the more likely they will enhance the now dim chances for diplomatic success. If they can’t find the words to speak clearly about it, diplomacy will stand little chance of success.
Ten Things You Need to Know About the Mufti of Jerusalem
Recent news has renewed interest in Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and founder of Palestinian nationalism, and has also shined a spotlight on the ties between Palestinian nationalism and Nazism. Here is what you need to know:
6) Husseini’s “fusion” of European anti-Semitism with Islamic views of Jewish evil has been adopted by Islamists around the world.
In a 2009 article in The Wall Street Journal citing Küntzel’s work, Daniel Schwammenthal wrote that the mufti’s “fusion of European anti-Semtism—particularly the genocidal variety—with Koranic views of Jewish wickedness has become the hallmark of Islamists world-wide, from al Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah.”
During his time in Berlin, the mufti ran the Nazis’ Arab-language propaganda radio program, which incited Muslims in the Mideast to “kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion.” Among the many listeners was also the man later known as Ayatollah Khomeini, who used to tune in to Radio Berlin every evening, according to Amir Taheri’s biography of the Iranian leader. Khomeini’s disciple Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still spews the same venom pioneered by the mufti as do Islamic hate preachers around the world.
Muslim Judeophobia is not—as is commonly claimed—a reaction to the Mideast conflict but one of its main “root causes.” It has been fueling Arab rejection of a Jewish state long before Israel’s creation.
After Holocaust remark, White House warns Netanyahu against incitement (not satire)
Comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the week, which implicated the former grand mufti of Jerusalem in the decision to proceed with the Holocaust, amount to inflammatory rhetoric stoking tensions on the ground between Israel and the Palestinians, the White House said on Thursday.
In a speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that Palestinian Haj Amin al-Husseini was directly responsible for encouraging Adolf Hitler not just to expel Jews from Europe, but to exterminate them. Netanyahu has since clarified that he had no intention of absolving Hitler for responsibility for the Holocaust.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the Obama administration has no doubt who was responsible for the genocide, which involved the systematic murder of six million Jews.
"The inflammatory rhetoric needs to stop," Earnest said.
New Republic Editor in Twitter War Over Refusal to Condemn Abbas’s Glorification of Mufti
A Twitter feud erupted on Thursday between a Jewish writer and a senior editor at The New Republic, who refused to condemn Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for praising the Nazi-supporting Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.
New Republic editor Jeet Heer published a piece on Wednesday that accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “dangerous historical revisionism,” in connection with his recent comments about the Holocaust. Netanyahu was lambasted for saying that Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini had persuaded Adolf Hitler to exterminate, rather than expel, the Jews of Europe.
On Thursday, novelist David Sachs took to Twitter to ask Heer when he would similarly criticize Abbas, who called the Mufti his “hero” in 2013.
“When do we get your thoughts on the safe and cute promotion of the Nazi-supporting Mufti as a hero by Abbas?” Sachs asked Heer, before adding, “You seem strangely determined to draw attention anywhere except Abbas’ promotion of the Nazi Mufti.”
Heer responded by citing a statement by Abbas that denounced the Holocaust, though the New Republic editor still refused to criticize Abbas’s glorification of al-Husseini. This rebuttal did not suffice for Sachs, who kept trying to get Heer to criticize Abbas.
Regev asks FIFA to act against inciting PA soccer chief
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev on Wednesday called on FIFA to take action against Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, following his recent inciting remarks against Israel.
In a recent interview on Palestinian Authority TV, Rajoub advocated murdering Jews in Judea and Samaria.
Actually, he told the interviewer, if not for world opinion it would be fine for Palestinians to blow themselves up on buses, at malls, etc. throughout Israel. But at least for now, he said, “the world will not accept bus explosions in Tel Aviv, so it is better we do not perpetrate those kinds of attacks.”
But the world would have no problem accepting – and even praising – attacks against “settlers,” so terrorists should concentrate on those, he added.
In response, Regev contacted the acting president of FIFA, demanding that Rajoub be condemned and that his attempts to take advantage of FIFA in order to promote hatred and incitement against Israel be thwarted.
Independent grossly misleads on the roots of First, Second and “Third” Intifadas
Williams then provides a brief history of the First Intifada:
The first intifada broke out in 1987. The Palestinians were largely unarmed and the conflict was characterised by images of young men and boys throwing rocks at Israeli troops. A flash point that led to the intifada was when Israeli forces killed four young Palestinians at a Gaza checkpoint. Then an Israeli soldier opened fire on a group of Palestinian protestors killing a 17-year-old boy.
To begin with, the First Intifada was not fought by “largely unarmed” Palestinians. Over 200 Israelis were killed during the conflict (between 1987-91) with not only stones, but Molotov cocktails, knives and guns. (In fact, the first attempted suicide attack was launched during the 1st Intifada.)
Also, Williams misleads over the ‘spark’ of the First Intifada when he claims it was started when “Israeli forces killed four young Palestinians at a Gaza checkpoint.” In fact, four Palestinians were killed in a auto accident in the Jabaliya refugee camp between an Israeli truck driver and a car carrying Palestinian workers. Though immediately after the accident a false rumor spread that the killing were intentional, there is no serious account which corroborates this claim.
Additionally, a history of the First Intifada titled ‘Intifada‘, by Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari, published in 1990, explains in great detail that the intifada was in fact sparked in part by false rumours which spread after Palestinians were killed in the auto accident. The authors noted that the rumours – advanced in the Palestinian media – suggested that it wasn’t an accident at all “but a cold-blooded act of vengeance by a relative of the the Israeli stabbed to death in Gaza’s main market two days earlier.”
Much like today, the Palestinian media kindled the flames and turned the rumor into “fact.” A huge wave of protests began, and along with it the long, violent Intifada.
UK Media Watch prompts Indy correction to 2nd Intifada claim
A Oct. 9th article in The Independent by Lee Williams (Intifada: What is it – and what does a third uprising mean for the region?) included the following passage:
The second uprising in 2000 involved far more than rocks and stones. Also known as the “Al Aqsa intifada” the conflict was set off by Ariel Sharon’s visit to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, officially in Palestinian territory. Palestinians claimed that Israelis were planning to retake the mount where the Al Aqsa mosque is situated – one of the holiest shrines in Islam.
However, as we pointed out in our communication with Indy editors, the Temple Mount is not “officially in Palestinian territory”. Rather, it’s under the administrative control of the Jordanian Islamic Waqf, and under Israeli security control. Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there.
Additionally, we complained about the failure of the article to note that the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism.
Their editors agreed, and revised the passages accordingly.
Facebook moves against Hamas in West Bank
Facebook has shut down Hamas’ accounts and groups on the social media site amid worsening unrest as Palestinian youths target Israelis in a wave of attacks.
“Facebook has closed, over the past two days, a large number of pages run by and close to the Hamas movement’s media in the occupied West Bank,” the Islamist group said in a statement issued Wednesday.
Hamas said the closures came after a “wide-ranging and organized complaint campaign” that it said was supported by direct pressure applied by the Israeli Telecommunications and Foreign ministries on Facebook’s administration.
The statement added that the closed Facebook pages had “played a key large role in supporting the Al-Quds intifada,” in reference to the spate of protests, riots and violent attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and Israel proper since early October.
Selective framing, inaccuracies and omission of context on BBC’s Hardtalk
Many of the questions posed by presenter Stephen Sackur during the interview provide an opportunity to look at the way in which inaccuracies, falsehoods and selective framing can be casually promoted by an interviewer.
In his introduction, Sackur frames audience views of the programme’s subject matter by depicting a wave of terror attacks carried out by Palestinians on mostly civilian Israelis as equivalent violence “between Israelis and Palestinians”, whilst portraying attacks in which people were deliberately sought out because of their ethnicity as “random” and their perpetrators as “suspects”. [all emphasis in bold added]
“The latest paroxysm of violence between Israelis and Palestinians has conjured up a host of horrifying images. Israelis stabbed in random street attacks. Palestinian suspects shot dead by Israeli police when seemingly no longer a threat. An innocent bystander beaten to death by an incensed Israeli crowd.”
In that last sentence Sackur refers – as is evident later on in the interview – to Haftom Zarhum who was killed during a terror attack at the main bus station in Be’er Sheva on October 18th. As the post-mortem showed, Zarhum’s death was actually caused by bullet wounds sustained when members of the security forces shot him after mistaking him for a second terrorist – but that does not prevent Sackur from promoting an inaccurate and context-free version of the story.

Yonit Levi to Charlie Rose: Israel Unfairly Portrayed In World Media
Israeli Channel 2 news anchor Yonit Levi recently appeared on Charlie Rose.
Displaying surprisingly good English (at least to me), Yonit talks about current events in Israel – including the Obama-Netanyahu relationship, Iran and media bias against Israel (bearing in mind the interview was recorded before the recent terror attacks, although it aired during them).
Report: Israel breached Iran airspace in 2012 in what US thought was dry run for strike
Israel violated Iranian airspace in 2012 in what was perceived by the US as a dry run for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, even as American officials concealed secret talks with Tehran, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The newspaper says that the US “closely monitored Israel’s military bases and eavesdropped on secret communications” during 2012, fearing that the Jewish state was planning an attack on the Fordow nuclear site.
The report paints an image of two long-term allies increasingly suspicious of each other, who kept their own secrets and engaged in covert activities.
According to the report, “[n]erves frayed at the White House” when the US discovered Israeli air activity over Iran, and Washington dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Mideast and also prepared attack aircraft, in case, as one senior American official told the Journal, “all hell broke loose.”
Iranian Atomic Energy Chief: We Have Entered New Phase in Nuclear Activity
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said the Islamic Republic has entered a new phase in nuclear activity, Iran’s semi-independent Tasnim News Agency reported on Wednesday.
Ali Akbar Salehi highlighted the progress Tehran has made since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
In this “new phase,” according to Salehi, Iran “will be able to witness an expansion in our [nuclear] activities and its acceleration, particularly in the field of constructing nuclear plants.”
Salehi also expressed his hope that the AEOI would be able to use future nuclear facilities to expand operations in “desalination of water for those living in southern Iranian provinces,” as well as, “health, industry, agriculture and construction of new [nuclear] plants.”
Former State Department Official Says Nuclear Deal Will Not Moderate Iran
A former U.S. State Department official who served as an adviser on Arab-Israeli negotiations explained why he believes Iran will not moderate its stance after the nuclear deal is implemented in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday
Aaron David Miller, an author and Middle East analyst, began by asserting that Iranian moderation after a nuclear deal “was always a long-term bet,” and that it was “clear now…that the Islamic Republic [of Iran] regime is not moderating its repressive and authoritarian character but consolidating it.”
Evidence of this, wrote Miller, was Iran’s increasing involvement in Syria, now alongside Russian forces.
“Qassem Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guards al-Quds force, is personally directing a coordinated effort with Russia, the [Assad] regime, Hezbollah and pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia militias,” wrote Miller, noting that the, “Iran, Russia, Assad alliance is a new and likely enduring Middle East reality.”
Further proof, according to Miller, is Iran’s recent test of the Emad (Pillar) guided long-range ballistic missile, which could potentially carry a nuclear warhead.
Permalink to Top Iranian Commander Killed in Syria
Iran confirmed Friday that one of its generals was killed late Thursday during clashes in central Syria, bringing the total number of Iranian killed in action in the war-torn country this week to eight, according to state-controlled news reports.
Brig. Gen. Reza Khavari, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is actively working to combat rebels seeking to depose President Bashar al-Assad, “was martyred in clashes” with opposition forces, some of which are being armed by the United States.
Khavari was “fulfilling his duty as a military advisor,” according to Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency.
At least seven other IRGC members part of the country’s Ansar Corps, which carries out clandestine activities outside the Islamic Republic’s borders, have also been killed in Syria in the past two days.
An IRGC official told Fars News on Friday that the “IRGC has boosted the number of its advisors in Syria in recent days following government troops’ striking victories in multiple fronts across the nation.”
Carter Center Confirms Former U.S. President Talked with Putin, Gave Syrian Maps to Russian Embassy
The Carter Center, the nonprofit organization founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, confirmed on Thursday that Carter corresponded with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian war and provided reports and maps to the Russian embassy in Washington.
The Washington Free Beacon reported on Carter’s recent comments about Putin, in which he said the two “have a common interest in fly fishing” and have exchanged email addresses. Carter said he offered to send maps of the Syrian conflict to Putin amid reports that Russian forces have been targeting U.S.-backed rebels, not the Islamic State terrorist group as Moscow has claimed.
“So in the future, if Russia doesn’t bomb the right places, you’ll know it’s not Putin’s fault but it’s my fault,” he said.
Syrian doctors: Russia bombed nine hospitals
Nine Russian air strikes have hit hospitals or field clinics operating in war-torn Syria, killing civilians and medical staff, a Syrian medical organization said late Thursday.
The Syrian-American Medical Society, which operates several facilities in Syria, said a deadly strike earlier this week "adds to the previous estimated eight Russian air strikes on hospitals in Syria, as well as the 313 attacks on medical facilities since the start of the conflict."
It said several of its facilities had been hit in Russia's bombing campaign, including in the Mediterranean coastal province of Latakia and the central province of Hama on October 2 and in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday.
The latest strike killed two medical personnel and at least 10 civilians, and wounded 28 civilians, it said.
Russia has strongly denied reports that its aircraft hit the hospital in the Idlib province town of Sarmin, describing them as "fake."
Russia, US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia start talks on Syria
The top diplomats of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States started key talks on Friday in Vienna to try to find a way to end the Syrian conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - whose government backs Damascus - was meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry along with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who all support Syrian rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
The crunch talks are part of a diplomatic flurry aimed at stopping the conflict in Syria, which has cost more than 250,000 lives over the past four and a half years.
Washington, Riyadh and Ankara are looking to sound out Lavrov after the embattled Syrian strongman made a surprise visit to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin this week.
Syria's Assad flies to Moscow to thank Russia's Putin
The visit is believed to be Assad's first foreign trip since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011 and comes three weeks after Russia launched a campaign of air strikes against Islamist militants in Syria.
"I would like to express enormous gratitude to the whole leadership of the Russian Federation and to the Russian people for the help they are giving Syria," a Kremlin transcript quoted Assad as saying. "Thank you for standing up for the unity of Syria, and its independence. Those political steps that have been taken by the Russian Federation since the start of the crisis have not allowed events in Syria to develop following a tragic scenario.
"If it was not for your actions and your decisions the terrorism which is spreading in the region would have swallowed up a much greater area and spread over an even greater area."
Putin hailed the Syrian people for standing up to the militants "almost on their own," saying the Syrian army had notched up serious battle field success in recent times.
Anti-Israel THIRD GRADE event in Ithaca (NY) – Controversy not going away
In a wonderful article in The Tatler, the Ithaca High School student newspaper, student journalists explored the story, Community Erupts against Pro-Palestinian Guest Speakers at BJM:
Questions swept Ithaca noting a recent event at Beverly J. Martin (BJM) elementary school: controversial activists spoke to the third grade about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as guests on September 18.
This incident was first addressed by Superintendent Luvelle Brown at a BoE meeting on September 22 as “something that I’m not happy about, nor should anyone be happy about,” as the guests were “very controversial figures invited unbeknownst to the principal.”
Brown’s comment was made in response to outcry from many parents and Ithacans over the guests’ controversial stances. …
While al-Tamimi claims he supports nonviolent, passive resistance, he has been arrested by Israeli authorities over a dozen times, including in 2012 when he solicited protesters to throw stones.
More controversially, however, footages of these confrontations have raised debates worldwide on social media, where supporters of both sides have interpreted them in different ways. Images and videos of these incidents, usually involving youths harassing Israeli soldiers, were recorded by Palestinian and Israeli activists and reporters from multiple angles.

I was particularly pleased (and somewhat surprised) that the student journalists had read my posts at Legal Insurrection, since I had no contact with them:
A law professor at Cornell, William A. Jacobson, wrote in his website Legal Insurrection, “Tamimi’s children and other children from the village of Nabi Saleh are encouraged to confront Israeli soldiers in the hope of provoking a reaction.” He added, “This all is a very dangerous exploitation that puts the children at risk. Yet Tamimi glorifies and encourages the use of children for such purposes.” Jacobson also filed a letter to the district demanding answers to questions to the district’s policies on Israel and Palestine and aspects of political discourse in ICSD.
Not to be outdone by high school journalists, the Ithaca College student weekly magazine, Ithaca Week, also did a write up and video about the controversy:

Berkeley panel rejects Israel divestment resolution
A Berkeley, California, commission rejected a resolution to divest from companies that do business with Israel.
The Berkeley City Human Welfare and Community Action Commission voted 5-2 against the resolution, with one abstention, on Wednesday night.
City Attorney Zach Cowan said the issue was not within the purview of the commission, which generally addresses issues of local poverty, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
In September, Berkeley City Councilman Darryl Moore removed commissioner Cheryl Davila, who he appointed, from her position over the divestment proposal. Davila was removed just before the panel took up the issue at its Sept. 16 meeting.
Moore reportedly said he asked his commissioners to discuss with him any controversial issues they were working on. Davila worked on the resolution for nearly a year without discussing it with Moore, the Mercury News said.
Berkeley Human Welfare Commission rejects BDS bill
An open letter to the commission, signed by Rabbi James Brandt of the Jewish Federation, Rabbi Yonatan Cohen of Beth Israel, Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Netivot Shalom and Rabbi Yoel Kahn of Beth El in the Berkeley, as well as many others expressed dissatisfaction with both the content of the resolution and the process involved in bringing it to the Commission.
From the letter:
We were deeply troubled, however to learn about the resolution before the Human Welfare and Community Action Commission recommending that the Berkeley City Council list Israel under the Oppressive States Business Policy” Not only is this resolution completely unbalanced in its representation of the heartbreaking and complex conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, it is also a major distraction from the vitally important work of the HWCAC. It is disturbing that so much time and resources are being spent by the HWCAC on a divisive international issue unrelated to its mission, at a time when we all need to work together to improve our beloved city….
Additionally, we were shocked to learn that the HWCAC has been discussing this issue for a year without consulting anyone outside the small circle of supporters of divestment. This represents a grave breach of process and diligence that should have been undertaken when considering such a sensitive and controversial issue…”
Students Supporting Israel: Progressive and Pro-Israel: A College Student's Dilemma
I decided to be the change I wanted to see. If my classmates were truly the progressives they claimed to be, they would welcome a new perspective. I organized the few pro-Israel students I knew and with the help of a new grassroots organization, Students Supporting Israel, I launched my campus’ first ever pro-Israel organization in September 2014. We aimed to create space on campus for pro-peace and pro-Israeli voices. We embraced dialogue with opposing viewpoints and appreciated the beautiful complexity of the Jewish State. Our classmates did not. Our student government denied us official recognition accusing Israel of committing ‘genocide against the Palestinians’ and one student government member even threatening to resign if our group was chartered. Gone was my naïve idealism of what college campuses were. My free speech had just been stifled. I felt anger. I felt alone, abandoned my college’s community.
But I soon learned I was not alone. As a leader of a Students Supporting Israel chapter, I was a part of a fast-growing family. I began receiving calls and emails of support from pro-Israel students around the country. Most of these people I had never even met before. That did not matter. They were part of the same Students Supporting Israel grassroots movement and they knew that if a pro-Israel student voice was shut down in Minneapolis, their voices could be next. This solidarity dispelled my anger and loneliness. With the support of an entire movement, I now felt empowered.
We launched a campaign to get the student government decision overturned by campus administrators. In less than two weeks we succeeded. But we were not content. We wanted to ensure nothing like this ever happened on our campus again. We became proactive, hosting Israeli speakers and holding educational sessions about the Jewish State.
I still identify as a democrat. But that label has become less important. As a student supporting Israel I strive create what I wish to see on college campuses nationwide: an environment where everyone can clear and confidently stand up for what they believe in. For me that is progressivism and Israel. Contrary to many college campus environments – these are not mutually exclusive.
Chinese College Hosts Israeli-Jewish Film Festival
The first student-organized Israeli film festival in China was recently held at a Beijing university, and drew more than 100 Chinese students. From September 22-25, students participated in the Israeli and Jewish Film Festival held at the China Agricultural University. Students learned about Israel’s culture and history, as well as about Jewish traditions and food (bagels were served, for example).
The film festival organizer, Qi Li, told Tazpit Press Service that there had never been an official Israeli-Jewish film festival to her knowledge in China. “I’m proud to say that this is the first Chinese University Israeli Film Festival,” Qi Li said to TPS.
“I think it’s important to educate the young generation about Israel and let them know that there are many academic and economic opportunities in Israel,” said Qi Li.
The students watched the films “Israel Inside,” “Above and Beyond,” “The Prince of Egypt” and “Wunderkinder.”
“Students found that the films were a great way to learn about Israel. Moreover, the event also brought together students who traveled to Israel and those students who plan to visit Israel in the future,” Qi said. Students were able to see other sides to Israel, and not just the conflict often depicted in Chinese media.
IBM showcases Israeli breast cancer-detecting research
IBM, one of the world’s biggest hi-tech companies, showcased cutting-edge research from its Haifa Research Lab as one of its top innovations of the year at an annual press event in Zurich last Thursday.
The company is developing a technology to help doctors and radiologists diagnose diseases in images.
Radiologists who spend hours on end looking for hard-to-find aberrations on medical images can suffer from eye fatigue and lose productivity and accuracy over the course of the day. Imagine looking at Where’s Waldo posters for hours, in black and white, and having to determine whether Waldo is present at all.
IBM’s system combines natural language understanding and machine learning from their Watson program, best known as the computer that won Jeopardy! against the reigning champions in 2011, with imaging expertise.
“IBM asked itself how can we use this great technology we created and use it for something more important than a game on TV,” said Flora Gilboa-Solomon, the researcher who is leading the study in Haifa.
Israeli Cancer Detection Startup Wins $200,000 Medical Innovation Prize
MobileODT, a company that uses mobile phones to detect cancer and other diseases, is this year’s winner of the 2015 MedTech Innovator competition. The Israeli startup beat out 300 early medtech startups from around the world to receive a $200,000 prize.
The MedTech winners were announced at the AdvaMed 2015 conference in San Diego, one the leading gatherings of medical technology professionals in North America.
Briteseed, an American medical diagnostic imaging company, won second place and $50,000. MedAware, an Israeli company that leverages big data and sophisticated algorithms to stop prescription errors that uses sophisticated algorithms to avoid prescription errors, was one of the runners-up.
Meet the tech companies from Israel taking London by storm
The son of former Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in London recently as part of far-reaching expansion plans for his start-up, which is taking the publishing world by storm.
Shaul Olmert, CEO of PlayBuzz, a competitor to US media company BuzzFeed, made the visit following a rapid period of success at his Tel Aviv-based firm. During this time, the groundbreaking website, populated by user-generated quizzes, listicles and polls, has secured $19.8 million (£12.8m) in funding, has notched up the most shares on Facebook among publishers – where it has left behind established rivals such as the Huffington Post and Fox News ̶ ̶ and is seeking a position as one of the world’s leading media companies.
Olmert told Jewish News that in common with a new wave of Israeli start-ups, newly focused on disrupting traditional consumer industries, UK expansion and growth is key to his long term expansion.Playbuzz2
“London is a top priority,” says Olmert.
“We have gone from one million to 10m unique visitors in the UK in the past six months, through the website and key partnerships with publishers, such as Sky, The Independent, The Sun, Comedy Central, the Cabinet Office and many others.
We have just opened an office in London with a team of five employees in the UK and have plans to expand much further going into 2016.”
This new trend in the start-up nation has involved such hungry, cash-rich Israeli-based firms – always known for their hi-tech knowhow – creating a sudden wave of popular, simple to use products and services from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Ra’anana, in a content and format that UK consumers are lapping up.
The effects are transforming traditional UK sectors that have not changed in decades.
IsraellyCool: Master Works Once Banned in Germany Now in Jerusalem
How nice to have a letter about cultural boycotts supporting Israel. It is wonderful to have Harry Potter on the side of freedom from tyranny.
However, there was a bigger BDS cultural fail this week.
Just before setting off to Germany, PM Netanyahu set off a media storm with a speech he made to hundreds of delegates at the opening of the 37th World Zionist Congress, meeting in Jerusalem, Israel. His reference to Hitler and the Mufti and the destruction of the Jews got attention. (I was there and I thought he was preaching to the choir. Then, I stopped dead in my tracks. He had my full attention!)
My US-born, WWII veteran father would not buy even a pen made in Germany. My how things have changed! The Israel Museum is celebrating its 50th birthday with a year of special exhibits. Both the head of the leading German museum and the Ambassador of Germany to Israel attended the opening of “Twilight Over Berlin.” Master works from Germany are on loan and now on display in the Israel Museum. Who could have imagined this 50 years ago?
Many of the art works were classified ‘degenerate” and banned in Germany by the Nazis. Each work has a story.

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 11 years and over 22,000 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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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 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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