Thursday, December 29, 2016

From Ian:

Prominent US National Security Journalist Explains Apology for Past Defense of Obama's Israel Record
The anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution the Obama administration allowed to be approved last week will “haunt Israel for years to come,” a prominent US national security reporter told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
Eli Lake — a Bloomberg View columnist — spoke with The Algemeiner three days after he posted — in the wake of the Security Council vote — a tweet apologizing to pro-Israel friends for his past defense of outgoing President Barack Obama’s record when it comes to the Jewish state.
“First of all, I want to make it really clear that I’m not posing as a great supporter of Obama’s foreign policy,” Lake explained to The Algemeiner. “I’m not even a partial Obama Kool-Aid drinker. But I’ve also written a lot about US-Israel military cooperation, particularly the military subsidy to Israel that the Obama administration has increased. This was really a tweet about conversations I’ve had with friends in which I noted that Obama had largely protected Israel at the UN — until last week — and I’ve described his approach as kind of tough love.”
However, Obama’s decision to abstain from last Friday’s Security Council vote was “unbelievable,” Lake said.
Netanyahu Targets Obama's Anti-Semitism With One Photo
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had earlier in the day expressed his gratitude to president-elect Donald Trump for his support of Israel during the crisis arising from the Obama Administration’s approval of the vicious anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution last Friday, targeted President Obama with one photo on Netanyahu’s Facebook page:
Netanyahu is exactly right. The UN Security Council resolution effectively declared Israel’s presence in the Old City of Jerusalem to be illegal, thus denying the Biblical claim to the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount was the site of the biblical Temples, the first of which was built by King Solomon almost 1,000 years before Christ, as stated in the Bible in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Jews trace their claim to King David, Solomon’s father, 3,000 years ago.
On the second night of Hanukkah, the holiday that celebrates the ancient Maccabean revolt against an oppressive regime seeking to target the Jews, Netanyahu fired back at the UN, “According to the U.N. resolution, the Maccabees did not liberate Jerusalem, they occupied Palestinian territory. According to the U.N. resolution, the villages that they started out from in the Modi’in area [north-west of Jerusalem], those villages and that area were occupied Palestinian territory. Of course the Palestinians arrived much later. We were here much earlier.”

Melanie Phillips: An open letter to Theresa May
Dear Prime Minister,
It was sickening to see that your government last week voted for the declaration of diplomatic war against Israel embodied in resolution 2334 passed by the UN Security Council.
Bad enough that Britain didn’t use its position as a permanent SC member to vote against this vicious resolution and thereby stop it in its tracks. Worse, far worse was that your government voted for it. In doing so, Britain signed up to propositions that repudiate law, justice and truth.
Now reports have surfaced that, yet more appallingly, Britain was actually instrumental in getting 2334 passed by helping draft the resolution and then stiffening New Zealand’s resolve in proposing it.
I don’t know whether that is correct. I suspect it may well be. I think, nevertheless, that you spoke from the heart the other week when you told the Conservative Friends of Israel of your admiration for Israel as a “remarkable country” and a “beacon of tolerance” and your warm feelings towards the Jewish people.
I also think, however, that you know little about the history of the Jews in the Middle East, the part played in that history by previous British governments or the infernal strategic aims of the people known as the “Palestinians”. I believe, therefore, you might not fully grasp the implications of supporting UNSC resolution 2334.
So let me spell out exactly what your government has done by voting in this way. (h/t Yenta Press)

USexit: The Case for Booting the UN out of America Grows Stronger
In brief, the actions of the U.S. government over the past week prove that President Obama, the U.S. administration, and the wider left-wing establishment cabal have learned nothing from 2016. They still believe that they — not "We The People" — control the political priorities of the nation.
Expect an invigorated USexit movement in the next few months.
And they fail to realise how putting a spotlight on an already morally questionable institution like the United Nations — replete with its Human Rights Council with the likes of Saudi Arabia chairing it — brings the UN itself, not Israel's settlement-building policies, into question.
So expect a resurgence of the American Sovereignty Act and an invigorated USexit movement in the next few months.
There are, of course, a few reasons for the U.S. to maintain the United Nations on its home turf — not least the fact that the New York-based organisation allows the U.S. to spy on almost every country in the world from the comfort of downtown Manhattan.
But the Obama administration has now accidentally heaped pressure on this relationship, and the intelligence community has, as yet, not uttered a peep about it. Too busy working on undermining the next president of the United States with the whole Russia saga, perhaps.
Nevertheless, I fully imagine a USexit campaign could take root in 2017. And a chance for Donald Trump to drain the international swamp, too.
James Woods Back on Twitter, Can’t Stay Silent on Obama Backstabbing Israel
Outspoken conservative actor James Woods went silent on Twitter last month in protest of the company’s policy of censoring right-wing voices, but he can’t keep quiet anymore with the Israel debacle courtesy of the Obama administration.
Early on Wednesday morning, Woods resurfaced with the following tweet:
And then Woods posted a link to his blog rebuking Twitter’s tyrannical practices and immunity to being held accountable.
But it was President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s absolute blunder on the United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements which were his first strike since his return:
The world's most uninformed man leaving for the last time? Give him his Crackerjacks Nobel "Peace" Prize and sayonara
Woods’s presence at the liberal refuse dump commonly referred to as Twitter was welcomed by many. It is good to hear your “voice” again, James
Roseanne Barr Goes OFF On Obama Over Anti-Israel Nonsense
Roseanne Barr may be a Hollywood liberal, but when it comes to supporting and protecting Israel, she's clearly on the right side of things. The comedian and former TV star took to Twitter to blast President Obama over his latest move against the Jewish state.
Last week, Obama helped the United Nations Security Council pass the anti-Israeli-settlements resolution by choosing not to veto it, thus greenlighting the egregiously one-side measure that, as Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro puts it, effectively declares that "the Western Wall and Temple Mount are not historic Jewish territory." Worse, Israel says they have "ironclad information" that the Obama administration worked behind the scenes to craft the resolution and make sure it passed.
Over the weekend, Barr let her feelings be known about the situation by tweeting the following:
Roseanne Barr @therealroseanne
nazis enacted anti jewish laws on the eve of jewish holidays-exactly as @POTUS has done on eve of Hanukkah. Don't light candles 2night, BHO!
Roseanne Barr @therealroseanne
Liberal US Jews just helped Obama condemn the Jewish State to worldwide #BDS and Terrorism. If they light Hanukkah candles 2night=

‘Dangerous’ Netanyahu polices behind US-Israel tensions, NYT says
An editorial in Wednesday’s New York Times attributed the heightened diplomatic tensions between Israel and the United States to the “dangerous evolution in Israeli policy” under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the piece titled “Is Israel Abandoning a Two-State Solution?” the paper said the US abstention in the United Nations Security Council’s anti-settlement resolution vote last Friday and Secretary of State John Kerry’s Mideast peace speech on Wednesday had triggered “more than the usual amount of outrage, name calling and threats” by Netanyahu and his allies.
The prime minister’s bitter criticism of the Obama administration’s policies toward Israel “misrepresent the history of Israeli-American relations, malign Mr. Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, and confuse what should be a serious debate over the future of a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which seems further away every day.”
Netanyahu has condemned Resolution 2334 as “reckless and destructive” and not only blamed outgoing US President Barack Obama for withholding a veto but also accused him of actively formulating and orchestrating its passage. Washington has denied the allegations.
The New York Times editorial defended Obama’s Israel record, saying the outgoing president has “used the American veto and its diplomatic muscle more assiduously than any previous American president to shield Israel from unwarranted criticism.”
Tapper Grills Obama Admin on 'Moral Equivalence' Between Palestinians Killing and Israelis Building Houses
TAPPER: Part of the problem might be — there might be a disconnect for Americans, is the notion that, on one hand you have Israelis building housing settlements, and let’s posit for the sake of argument that they are destructive to the peace process, but on the one hand you have Israelis building housing settlements, and yet on the other hand you have Palestinian leaders who have been credibly accused of inciting violence that has resulted in innocent Israelis being killed. Hamas, a group the United States government categorizes as a terrorist organization, governs Gaza. If the West Bank had elections tomorrow, there is fear that Hamas would win the elections. The question for a lot of voters would be, why are you focusing on the Israelis?
RHODES: Jake, we’ve given Israel $38 billion in defense assistance in the last ten years. We defended Israel when they went to war in Gaza twice to stop the rocket fire coming from Hamas. Time and again we’ve supported their right to defend themselves. The resolution condemned incitement and violence. That’s one of the reasons we abstained because it had that balance. Secretary Kerry today condemned incitement, condemned violence. This is not a question of whether or not we’ve called out Palestinian sectarianism. We have. And we’ve saved Israeli lives with our defense for the Iron Dome Missile Defense System that has shot down rockets coming from Gaza. The problem with the settlements that people need to understand is that this is building deep inside of the West Bank. And what you hear in the United States often is rhetoric about support for a two-state solution. The reason this is worth focusing on, these are not just housing settlements, these are construction that are placed on Palestinian land, on what anybody who has looked at this issue understands to be a future Palestinian state. Jake, there is a term about building inside the blocks, that means building outside of the 1967 lines but within what people generally expect to be the borders of an Israel in a two-state solution. This is not even what’s happening. This is building deep inside the West Bank. I think part of what we’re trying to do is bring more attention on that and have people like you reporting on that. This is changing the facts on the ground and making a two-state solution nothing more than a talking point.
Daniel Pipes: Trump's Middle East policy revealed
President Bill Clinton hosted Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yassir Arafat more often in the Oval Office than any other foreign figure. Between 9/11 and ‎the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, George W. Bush's presidency was more defined by the Middle East than any ‎other issue. President Barack Obama arose from political obscurity in opposition to the Iraq War and faced his worst ‎humiliation in Syria. ‎
Trump and his team cannot wave away the Iran Deal, civil wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, Islamism, ‎uncontrolled immigration, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan going rogue, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi being in over his head, Saudi financial troubles, Palestinian ‎rejectionism, the price of energy, drug trafficking, and beyond. Moreover, going out of his way to insist ‎on the term "radical Islamic terrorism" and to declare an intention to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to ‎Jerusalem signal anything but a readiness to pivot away from the Middle East. ‎
Willy-nilly, these require a finely elaborated policy. Contrary to Seib, I predict Trump's simple ‎throwaway lines on the Middle East will leave little residue.
NGO: Hamas rocket attacks in 2016 lowest in 11 years
Hamas rocket attacks in 2016 are at their lowest point in 11 years and over the last two years represent less than 1% of the last 11 years attacks, according to a Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Center report published late Tuesday.
From 2006-2016, there have been 10,412 rocket attacks, at an average of 947 per year, the highest number being fired during Israel’s three wars with Gaza: 925 during the 2008-9 war, 845 during the 2012 war and 3,852 during the 2014 war.
Only 15 rockets were fired in 2016 and only 24 in 2015, leaving a total of only 39 rockets fired in the two years following the 2014 Gaza war.
In contrast, in the two years following the 2008-9 war, there were 261 rocket attacks and in the two years following the 2012 war (not including the end of 2014 which included the 2014 war) there were 412 rocket attacks.
The statistics presented by the report indicate Israel’s deterrence against Hamas firing rockets is still strong and stronger than it was after the 200-9 and 2012 Gaza wars.
Report: Arab Lawmakers Increasingly Visiting Palestinian Security Prisoners
Arab members of the Israeli Knesset have been increasing their visits to Palestinian security prisoners, a new report by Israel’s Shin Bet security agency revealed Tuesday.
The report found that, this year, Arab Members of Knesset (MKs) submitted 13 requests to visit arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti and 14 requests to visit Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
Barghouti, formerly the Palestinian Fatah party’s secretary general, is serving five consecutive life terms following his 2004 conviction on five counts of murder. Salah is serving a nine-month jail sentence following his May 2016 conviction on charges of incitement to violence and racism.
The Arab lawmakers also visited terrorist Mahmoud Jabarin, who killed three Israeli soldiers in 1992, and Bilal Kayed, an operative of the Salah a-Din Brigades who was convicted of a series of security offenses including plans to carry out terrorist attacks.
The Shin Bet said it is closely monitoring the rising trend of Arab MKs’ visits to jailed terrorists, particularly because these meetings are held in private rooms and lawmakers are not searched before entering the prisons.
Syrian army says countrywide ceasefire to start midnight Thursday
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ceasefire between Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government starting at midnight on Thursday.
The Kremlin statement came after Moscow, Iran and Turkey said they were ready to broker a peace deal in the nearly six-year-old Syrian war.
The Syrian army announced a nationwide halt to fighting but said Islamic State and ex-Nusra Front militants and all groups linked to them would be excluded from the deal. It did not say which unnamed groups would be excluded.
Several rebel officials told Reuters they had agreed to the ceasefire plan, but there was uncertainty over which groups were included in the deal, which was due to come into effect at 2200 GMT on Thursday.
Talks on a ceasefire picked up momentum after Russia, Iran and Turkey last week said they were ready to back a deal and adopted a declaration setting out principles that any agreement should adhere to.
BUYcott fights BDS in Canada
The Canadian Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) has responded to the boycott campaigns of the BDS movement by proposing an anti-boycott campaign of its own under the title BUYcott Israel. BUYcott aims to support Israel by encouraging the purchase of products and services from Israel. Purchasing Israeli-made merchandise is a great way to send a positive message of support for Israel, say the campaign initiators..
BUYcott has chosen eight items manufactured in Israel corresponding to the eight days of Hanukkah and is actively encouraging their purchase: Soda Stream, Elite coffee, Dead Sea Products (Ahava), Israeli wines, Naot shoes, books by Israelis, Israeli promotional brochures, and El Al flights.
CIJA has scored a number of victories over the past few years in foiling BDS initiatives. Among other things, the Canadian parliament has approved anti-boycott-Israel laws and the organization also prevented anti-Israel decisions in a number of universities.
NYT Corrects Headline on "More Settlements"
A December 26, 2016 online New York Times headline wrongly referred to Israel building "More Settlements." After contact with the paper, noting the print version carried an accurate heading that said Israel "Vows to Expand Settlements," the online headline was corrected. Israel is not building more individual settlements, but is expanding existing ones, which is a key difference. We commend The Times for the correction.
Selective BBC News reporting on terror arrests
An additional article – headlined “Melbourne Christmas Day ‘terror attack’ foiled, say Australia police” – also appeared on the BBC News website on the same day.
“Australian police have foiled a major terror attack in Melbourne on Christmas Day, officials say. […]terror-aus-23-12
The plot involved the use of explosives and other weapons, police say.
The alleged targets included high-profile locations around Melbourne, such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square and the main train station.
Six men and a woman were detained in Friday’s raid on suspicion of “preparing or planning a terrorist attack”, police say.
The woman and two men were later released.”

The arrest of a terror cell in an additional location had been announced the day before those two articles appeared.
“Israeli security agents busted a 20-member Hamas cell that was plotting suicide bombings and shootings against Israeli citizens in major Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Haifa, the Shin Bet disclosed on Thursday. […]
The suspects told investigators that between May and August 2016 they set up a lab in Nablus and produced nearly 15 pounds of TATP explosives intended for suicide bombings in Jerusalem, Haifa and bus stations across the country.
They also obtained M-16 rifles for attacks on Israeli civilians, and enlisted four suicide bombers. The terror cell was supported by a broad network of supporters who assisted in acquiring and storing weapons, transferring funds and hiding wanted persons.”

That story, however, was not deemed newsworthy by the BBC.
NPR Conducts Hostile Interview with Israeli Ambassador Over UN Resolution
All Things Considered's Robert Siegel conducted a hostile interview with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer over Israeli criticism of the Obama Administration's alleged role in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. The resolution has deemed Israel's settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) to be illegal. The U.S. acquiesced to this definition by failing to veto the vote as it usually does for one-sided resolutions unfairly targeting Israel.
Siegel injected his own opinion as fact at several junctures in the interview. Questioning Israel's decision to communicate with President-Elect Donald Trump, Siegel chides Dermer,
"You speak of appropriate channels, though. I mean, Israel is reported to have gone to Donald Trump as president-elect and urged him to call for a veto, which he did. No one sees that as appropriate channels. Do you?"
How does Siegel establish that "No one" sees that as appropriate? All we know is that he clearly doesn't.
When Dermer responds that he thinks it is inappropriate for the outgoing President to "radically change" American foreign policy in his last days in office, Siegel intones:
"but isn't that really not for Israel to decide, which - you know, there's an American president in office. He gets to exercise policy... president of the United States has powers to make foreign policy and to take actions in international bodies? That's not your business. That's just not Israel's business."
But it is Israel's business if it affects Israel. Dermer was not saying that Israel gets to decide how the President exercises his powers, he simply stated that he thought it was inappropriate.
Belgian actor blasts ‘criminal procreation policies of the Jews in Israel’
A well-known theater actor from Belgium told one of his country’s best-read weeklies that he is infuriated by the “procreation policies of the Jews in Israel.”
Wannes Cappelle, 37, made his remarks in an interview published Sunday in De Zondag.
“Those procreation policies of the Jews in Israel, to name one example, is simply a crime. It infuriates me,” Cappelle was quoted as saying in response to a question on whether he can “understand fear of the other” following what the interviewer defined as “A Trump, a Brexit, the acceptance of the far right in Europe.”
Before mentioning Israel, Wannes, who also is an award-winning musician, said “I find it difficult. Opposite [Donald Trump] you also have Bernie Sanders, which inspires hope. I try my best to be hopeful. Most of all I worry over overpopulation. The human race is too stupid to keep it under control.”
According to a 2014 study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, the Jewish state has “one of the highest birthrates in the developed world, with an average of three children per woman compared to an average of 1.7 children in the OECD,” the 35-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Taiwan leader urges reflection over Nazi parade row
Taiwan’s president on Thursday urged educators to reflect deeply on human rights and pass on those lessons to young people after a Nazi-themed parade held by Taiwanese students before Christmas sparked international furor.
The principal of Kuang Fu High School in northern Hsinchu city apologized and stepped down after photos and videos circulated online of students wearing mock Nazi uniforms while holding swastika flags and banners, some laughing and dancing.
A teacher also joined in the procession and was seen giving a Nazi salute as he stood inside a tank made of paper cartons, according to local media.
As the students marched, a compere announced: “Here comes Hitler, salute to him students, or the tank will crush you later or you will be taken to the gas chamber,” according to a video posted on Apple Daily’s website.
“This is not the students’ fault, it is our fault as grownups,” President Tsai Ing-wen told a meeting of the presidential human rights advisory committee.
She said Taiwan needed to improve education on human rights after failing to teach students “the real lessons” they needed to know.
Norway public broadcaster apologizes for spoofing Holocaust
Norway’s public broadcaster apologized for referencing Nazi death camps and the Jewish genocide in a satirical cartoon about the financial situation of university students.
“This cartoon should not have spoofed the Nazi genocide, and we’re sorry this reference obstructed what the sketch is really about,” a spokesperson for the NRK broadcaster wrote on Facebook last week following complaints about the video, which on Thursday remained accessible on NRK’s online satirical section.
It features three young characters who are taken by an older character on a tour of what appears to be a Nazi concentration camp similar to Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland. When the group reaches an oven full of ashes and the remains of a human ribcage, one of the students enthusiastically inquires whether the oven is for making pizzas.
The video, which opened the annual best-of compilation for 2016 of NRK’s Satiriks online satirical video platform, ends with the same students triumphantly holding up a rental contract while the other two students unload boxes at the concentration camp.
“The animated video is about the student economy, which often has students in desperate situations,” NRK wrote. “To make this point, we used visual references to a concentration camp.”
Israel M&A activity surged 34% to $16.8b in 2016 — PwC
Mergers and acquisition deals in Israel surged 34 percent in 2016, totaling $16.8 billion, accountants PWC said in their 2016 Israel M&A report. The acquisition of Allergan Generics by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which was not included in the PWC data, would have added $39 billion to that figure, the report said.
The data shows a year-on-year increase of 41% in the value of the average deal, while the number of deals closed increased for the first time in five years, recording a 25% growth year on year, or 120 deals vs. 96 deals last year. Concurrently, large-value deals were significantly more prominent in 2016, with 32% of deals — and 44% out of the inbound foreign investments — closed above $100 million.
“The sharp increase in overall deal value and the 41% upsurge in average deal value year on year point to a vibrant Israeli M&A market, available capital and the continued trend of deals conducted in respect of more mature companies than in the past,” said Liat Enzel Aviel, partner and head of transaction services at PwC Israel. “The low interest rate environment combined with the market players’ cash reserves are the main drivers of the growing M&A activity, especially in light of the weakening alternative investment channels, particularly the withdrawn IPO market.”
Enzel Aviel forecast that companies will “continue to be aggressive” in the M&A market and the global expansion of tech activity will continue to be a growth engine for M&A activity, with Israeli companies involved both as acquirers and targets. “The never-ending need to innovate, competitive pressures and consumer power are all expected to keep M&A a leading option for many investors,” she said.
Defeating projections, Israeli economy grows by 3.5% in 2016
Israel's economy has grown by 3.5% in 2016, defeating the Bank of Israel's original prediction on a 2.8% growth by 0.7%, the central bank's Research Department said Wednesday.
The bank's data indicated that Israelis' standard of living grew by 2.9%, private consumption rose by 5.9%, and per capita growth increased by 1.5%.
The Bank of Israel's had originally predicted a 0.5% per capita growth in 2016.
The passing year has also seen unemployment drop to a record low of 4.8%.
According to the data, the first quarter of 2016 was slow, but the economy began accelerating in the second quarter: Overall investments jumped by 10% -- double the original projection.
Imports, excluding defense imports, rose by 10.2%, and overall consumption, excluding defense consumption, grew by 4.3%.
Nevertheless, 2016 was a weak year for exports, which rose by only 2.2%, a fact the central bank attributed to the depreciation in dollar and euro exchange rates.
OurCrowd marks 4 years, $320m raised, 100 startups, 9 exits
It won’t be an ordinary anniversary party when Jerusalem-based OurCrowd showcases its lineup of startups to an expected 5,000 members of the global tech investment community at the 2017 OurCrowd Global Investor Summit, on February 16.
Launched in early 2013, OurCrowd’s equity crowdfunding platform enables accredited investors to put money into vetted startups, mostly Israeli, in which OurCrowd also has a stake.
In its first four years, OurCrowd has raised some $320 million for investment in about 100 portfolio companies and specialized funds. Two of its startups have had IPOs and seven have been acquired.
Some examples of other equity crowdfunding ventures help put those figures in perspective: Crowdcube, founded in 2011 to advance British startups, has raised more than £200 million (about $250 million) from more than 330,000 registered investors; two of its startups have had exits. San Francisco-based CircleUp, also founded in 2011, has brought $285 million in capital to emerging consumer-products brands and currently has 66 portfolio companies.
Uruguay opens $20 million security center fueled by Israeli technology
Uruguay opened a $20 million video surveillance monitoring center near the tourism capital of Punta del Este, with major support from Israeli technology.
Those on hand for the launch Tuesday in the city of Maldonado included the defense minister of Uruguay, the mayor of Maldonado, the Israeli ambassador to Uruguay, and representatives of the Israeli companies Elbit and Noa.
The center, which will be fully operational next year, monitors 1,200 cameras in 375 spots. The Israeli technology consists of hardware and software equipment, including the high definition cameras with License Plate Recognition, or LPR, technology.
“I am very happy to see that the dream of bringing the best of Israeli technology and knowledge to Uruguay is already a reality,” the ambassador, Nina Ben-Ami, told the AJN news agency.
The executive director of the Punta del Este Jewish community, Fabian Schamis, said he was proud to be a member of the “core team from whom this dream was conceived, cared for and materialized.”
100 lone soldiers in Garin Tzabar program begin their IDF service
A hundred lone soldiers are beginning their journey with the IDF through the Garin Tzabar program, following their welcome ceremony at Kibbutz Avivim on Wednesday.
These lone soldiers came to Israel from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, France, Russia, Ukraine, Switzerland and Thailand.
Founded in 1991, Garin Tzabar helps young Jews and Israelis living abroad who want to return to Israel to serve in the IDF.
The ceremony was held in cooperation with the Israel Scouts youth movement – which, with over 80,000 members, promotes Zionist education with an emphasis on leadership and social responsibility – as well as the Immigration and Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency.
“I am happy that I made aliya, although it’s not easy,” said 23-year-old Jenna Tabachnik from Florida. “For many of us, this is a dream come true.
We always felt that these are our people and this is our state, and we now have the opportunity to join the army and play a significant part in protecting the State of Israel and its citizens.”
Menorah exhibit brightens prospects for tiny Italian Jewish community
In the early 1990s, a member of the tiny Jewish community of Casale Monferrato in Piedmont, Italy, pondered what could be done to ensure the community’s future.
“Currently there are two Jewish families who reside in our town, plus a few dozen people who identify as members of the community despite living somewhere else; 20 years ago the situation was not much better,” says designer Elio Carmi.
In the context of such unpromising demographics, plus “an economic recession that is certainly not inviting for the young,” he asked himself how the community could “build a vision for the future,” Carmi says in a phone conversation with The Times of Israel.
The area has a rich Jewish history. Jews have lived in Casale since at least the 16th century, and the synagogue is considered among the most beautiful in Europe.
“We didn’t want to just say, ‘OK, it is time to shut down.’ We needed an idea, a plan that would allow us to maximize the results with limited resources,” explains Carmi, who is the current vice president of the community of Casale and sits on the council of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.
7 facts about menorahs, the most enduring symbol of the Jewish people
We all have our favorite hanukiah. Whether it’s of ornate silver, passed down through generations, or the “menurky” (the menorah-turkey hybrid popular during Thanksgivukkah), no matter which hanukiah we light before gobbling our latkes and sufganiyot, we should pause to remember that all menorahs are inspired by the menorah.
Becoming not only Judaism’s oldest symbol, but also the Western world’s oldest continuously used religious symbol, the menorah once stood in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The seven-branched candelabrum (nine-branched for Hanukkah) has been a source of fascination and illumination for Jews, Samaritans, Christians and also Freemasons for three millennia.
Steven Fine, a cultural historian specializing in the Greco-Roman period, has a new book out that tells us everything we ever wanted to know about the menorah. Published by Harvard University Press, “The Menorah: From the Bible to Modern Israel” traces the menorah from the lost artifacts of Moses and the two Israelite Temples to its best known images from antiquity and the Middle Ages, and on through its powerful use as a national symbol today.
The Dr. Pinkhos Churgin Professor of Jewish History and director of the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies, Fine has recently been immersed in the study of the image of the menorah on the Arch of Titus. The arch was originally dedicated after the Emperor Titus’ death in 81 CE and celebrates his victory in the Jewish War of 66-74 CE, which climaxed with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in the summer of 70 CE.
One of the two bas reliefs on the arch depicting the triumphal procession held in Rome in 71 CE shows Roman soldiers carrying the spoils of war through the city, including the famous menorah and other treasures of the destroyed Temple. These were put on display in Rome in the Temple of Peace not far from the arch, and have been lost to history.

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