Friday, December 30, 2016

From Ian:

Do Palestinians Want Peace? Here Are 5 Facts That Say No.
In Secretary of State and Professional Asshat™ John Kerry’s execrable speech on the Arab-Israeli conflict on Wednesday, the man whose face is a living rockslide declared that the true obstacle to peace was Israel building bathrooms in Efrat and East Jerusalem. Kerry repeatedly maintained that Palestinians want peace with Israel. That’s eminently untrue, and it’s been untrue for the entirety of the so-called peace process and long before.
Here are five demonstrations that the “Palestinians want peace” notion is an outright lie, and that Palestinians actually prefer a continued conflict that maintains the possibility of the full-scale destruction of the Jewish State.
1. Palestinian Response To Kerry Speech. Hilariously, just after Kerry ripped into Israel in unprecedented fashion and declared that if Israel stopped all settlement building and moved to reverse settlements, as well as splitting Jerusalem, Palestinians would embrace peace, the Palestinians openly scoffed at him. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki immediately stated that Kerry had not proposed anything new, and refused recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. So much for Kerry’s proposed peace deal.
2. Palestinians Have Repeatedly Refused Kerry’s Deal. In 2000, far-left Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered over 90 percent of Judea and Samaria, all of the Gaza Strip, a land-link between the two, Palestinian control over the mosques on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as well as cash for Palestinian refugees. Arafat ran away from the table. Even useful idiot Thomas Friedman stated about Arafat, “He came with no compromise ideas of his own on Jerusalem. He simply absorbed Mr. Barak’s proposals and repeated Palestinian mantras about recovering all of East Jerusalem.” Just months later, Arafat launched an Intifada. In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered nearly 94 percent of Judea and Samaria, plus another six percent of Israeli territory, a link to the Gaza Strip, withdrawal from East Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, and placement of the Old City under international control. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas walked away from the table.
UN vote legitimizes Arab myth about Israel
The UN resolution legitimizes the Arab myth that Jews (and Christians) have no historical connection to the Holy Land, and that the 430,000 Israelis living in the West Bank and the 200,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalem are illegal occupiers. At one time, the Palestinian Authority went so far as to claim that the Jews, and implicitly Jesus, had never lived in the Holy Land. Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, said that the events depicted in the Old and New Testament took place in Yemen. This contortion of history was necessary to validate the claim that Jews are mere “occupiers” and not legitimate inhabitants of the so called “occupied territory.”
However, we should remember that what is referred to as the “occupied territory” is land that was historically occupied by Jews since biblical times. Going back to the first census taken in 1820, Jews always constituted a majority of the population in Jerusalem. The Old Quarter of Jerusalem, now a part of the “occupied territory,” was and is almost entirely occupied by Jews and houses the Western Wall — a remnant of King Solomon’s Temple sacred to the Jews.
History teaches that the Jordanian army were the illegal occupiers of that ancient city during the 1947 war for Israeli independence. The conquering Jordanian army immediately burned down all of the synagogues, forbade the Jews to pray at the Western Wall, and used the sacred tombstones from the Jewish cemetery as urinals. The UN, which created the State of Israel, said nothing during that occupation nor did it condemn those atrocities. The UN did not raise its voice when, on three occasions, Arab nations — without provocation — invaded Israel. The UN also remains silent in the wake of ongoing persecution of Jews and Christians, as well as the desecration of their faiths, in many Arab nations.
UN Wants To Label Any Business Doing Business With Israel, Also Begin Growing Small Mustaches
For those who are ignorant of exactly how the Nazi regime of the 1930’s started targeting Jews even before its “Final Solution” was implemented, the United Nations is showing exactly how the process of isolating Jews before destroying them starts.
Last Friday, the UN General Assembly’s Budget Committee approved a budget that included spending $138,700 for a "database" of all companies that conduct business - directly or indirectly - relating to Israeli "settlements" territories that Arabs claim is theirs. Israel tried proposing a deletion of the funding for the blacklist, but the Committee voted against Israel, 151 to 6. The six countries supporting Israel were Australia, Canada, Guatemala Israel, Palau and the United States, but the Obama Administration, as usual, was acting duplicitously, as it voted against the blacklist but then later voted for the UN budget as a whole anyway. Six countries abstained: Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, Georgia, Honduras and Ghana.
The idea of a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) blacklist originated last March 24, when the UN Human Rights Council resolved to create such a list, although the funding was not in place. But not only was the idea proposed eight months ago, the December budget states the $138,700 will be used "to pay for one staff member to create the database over a period of 8 months and present a report" to the Human Rights Council in March 2017. Thus the UN backdated approval of an expenditure for something it was already doing.

Obama's 'Pro-Israel' Presidency Is Fake News
Take for instance this gem from the Huffington Post. Actual headline: “How It’s ‘Absolutely’ Possible For Steve Bannon To Be Pro-Israel And Anti-Semitic”. Never mind the fact that the Huffington Post has no evidence.
Self-satire news outlet Salon chimed in with, “Jewish Americans are worried about the rise in anti-Semitism after this election cycle.”
Fake news isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, for the mainstream news media, it’s practically a business model. The media’s propagation of fake news vis-à-vis the notion that Barack Obama and his administration are remotely pro-Israel dates back to his initial run for office.
Obama’s close ties to former Jimmy Carter adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski – who in an interview with Salon, accused Israeli Jews of “buying Congress’s influence” – were effectively ignored. Obama is on record (in 2007) praising Brzezinski as “someone I have learned an immense amount from.”
The Los Angeles Times to this day refuses to release a 2003 tape of Barack Obama praising virulent anti-Semite and Palestinian-terrorism apologist Rashid Khalidi – whom the LA Times instead referred to as “a harsh critic of Israel”, and the New York Times dubs, “a passionate defender of Palestinian rights.”
Prof. Phyllis Chesler: Op-ed: The NYTimes does it again!
The New York Times has done it again! Just when I think they couldn’t possibly be any worse—they have the power to surprise and disgust me anew.
Six days ago, 14 nations on the UN Security Council (with America’s abstention), voted in Resolution 2334--and we know that Obama was behind this resolution, just stay tuned for “iron clad” evidence.
Yesterday, Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, delivered his shameless lecture in which, as Israel’s “friend,” he demanded that it commit suicide by appeasing terrorism even further in the pointless, fruitless process known as the “two state solution.”
And today—the New York Times devotes five articles—yes, five separate articles, to further buttress and defend Kerry’s vision.
Under a bold headline: Kerry Says Israel Keeps Sabotaging Peace Prospects, we find two articles; both are front page right hand “lead” articles. David E. Sanger (Kerry Rebukes Israel, Calling Settlements a Threat to Peace) spends 1,612 words “voicing frustration at Netanyahu.”
Right next to him, Peter Baker (In John Kerry's Mideast Speech, a Clash of Policies and Personalities), spends 1,320 words claiming that the “two state solution nears the end of its shelf life.” Both articles continue on page A10 and take up the entire page. The pull quotes read: “A bluntness rarely heard from U.S. diplomat about a close ally,” and “Kerry plays for history, while Netanyahu and Trump play for time.”
This is not straight news reporting. This is an editorial. Really, it is rank propaganda.
Joel B. Pollak: Israel Almost Never Benefits from Compromise
The painful lesson that Israelis — including those in the “peace” camp — have learned is that compromise leads to war. Now, President Barack Obama has taught them a new lesson: namely, that they cannot trust the guarantees on which compromises are made. When Israel pulled out of Gaza, President George W. Bush acknowledged that some settlement blocs in the West Bank would remain in place in a peace deal. The recent UN Security Council resolution that Obama allowed to pass breaks that promise and implies even the Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem is a “flagrant” violation of international law.
The burden must on the Palestinians, not the Israelis, to show they can compromise. Kerry followed the Palestinian narrative in suggesting that the West Bank — 22% of the area of Palestine under the British Mandate — was a kind of compromise. In reality, the only “compromises” the Palestinians have made are those they have been forced to accept — temporarily, in their view — after their wars against Israel have gone awry. Official Palestinian ideology still rejects the Jewish right to statehood.
Obama and Kerry’s latest moves to pressure and isolate Israel will only encourage Palestinians to continue to reject the peace process and to make maximalist demands. White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes claims that Obama had “tried everything” before turning to the UN Security Council to force Israel to compromise. But that is a lie. Obama never applied real pressure to the Palestinian Authority, and kept aid flowing to the Palestinians when Congress wanted it to stop. The administration claims that the UN Security Council resolution also criticized Palestinians — but it only condemned terror in the abstract. It did not blame the Palestinians, and gave them no reason to compromise. A new approach is long overdue.
You are the racist, actually, not me
I am an Orthodox Jewish settler raising seven children in the West Bank. I’m also an American citizen and I voted for Donald Trump. Yeah, I’m that lady. I opened a local business here, and I did so on purpose — to respond to BDS anti-settler activities by encouraging Jewish West Bank residents to work in the West Bank and keep their own businesses local in the West Bank. I believe in annexation and I do not support a two-state solution.
And that makes me a peace-loving, Palestinian-respecting individual. I’m not the racist. You are.
You, my liberal, anti-settler, anti-Trump friends who hate my views — if not me (yet) — are the racists. I have spent a lot of time particularly in the past three months being told by US Democratic voters and UN supporters what a monstrous racist group of people we are, those people “like me.”
I’ve finally had enough. I’ve invited so many of you to engage and hear from real people instead of judging, and you show no interest. Apparently, it’s preferable to let television and the New York Times inform your views on my little corner of the world.
Shaun Ley’s multiple Middle East mangles on BBC Radio 4
An item in the December 28th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’ related to the speech given by the outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry on the same day. Throughout that item (from 07:59), host Shaun Ley promoted several inaccuracies.
Ley told listeners that:
“Last week President Obama authorised a change of tactics towards Israel. The US opted not to deploy its veto on a Security Council resolution condemning building by Jewish settlers on what had been Palestinian land until the Six Day War.
Prior to the Six Day War Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem came under Jordanian occupation following that country’s attack on the newly declared Israeli state in 1948. That occupation was not recognised by the international community. Before the Jordanian invasion, the same areas were administered by Britain under the terms of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. Prior to British conquest during the First World War, the areas were controlled by the Ottoman Empire for some 500 years. Nevertheless, Ley promoted the totally inaccurate claim that Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem were “Palestinian land” until 1967.
BBC News amplifies PLO’s interpretation of the two-state solution
Notably, that BBC portrayal of the two-state solution promotes and amplifies the Palestinian interpretation of it as meaning a Palestinian state on all of the territory occupied by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967.
Further, the BBC told its audiences that various international bodies and countries are ‘committed’ to that concept when in fact the UN, the EU, Russia and the US in their ‘Quartet’ capacity support “an agreement that […] resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties; and fulfils the aspirations of both parties for independent homelands through two States for two peoples”. Those “permanent status issues” defined in the Oslo Accords of course include borders and Jerusalem.
Noteworthy too is the fact that the BBC’s portrayal of the two-state solution does not include the all-important phrase “two states for two peoples” – a definition which would require Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state.
HRC Responds to Anti-Israel Letter in Penticton News
Today, HRC Executive Director Mike Fegelman responded to an anti-Israel letter in the Penticton News. Here’s the letter in full which was published today:
Frank Martens recent letter (Penticton Western News, Dec. 23, Thinking of others) is a perfect example of how when baseless accusations are left unanswered, they risk becoming accepted as conventional wisdom.
Since time immemorial, the root cause of the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has been the fundamental rejection of the Jewish State’s right to exist and to exercise self-determination. Had Palestinian Arabs agreed to the 1947 Partition Plan, dividing the land into two states, a Jewish and an Arab state, with Jerusalem under international supervision, the conflict wouldn’t exist today. But instead, Palestinians continued their previous rejectionist dictum by adopting the notorious Khartoum Resolution of 1967: no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel and no recognition of Israel.
Most egregiously, Marten’s presenting Jews as foreigners or colonizers of their own ancestral and biblical homeland is tantamount to historical revisionism. In reality, when the British Mandate over Palestine expired on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council proudly declared the establishment of the State of Israel. Immediately after, five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded Israel in a war of annihilation. As Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League said at the time: “It will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.” Though Israel won this war, it lost almost 1 per cent of its population as over 6,000 Israelis were killed in the costliest of all of Israel’s wars – all of which were initiated by Arab nations with genocidal intent.
The “Nakba” narrative referred to by Martens seeks to paint Palestinians as perpetual victims and to portray Israel’s creation as an original sin requiring of rectification. Accordingly, present-day Palestinian aspirations have continually been defined as a conquest to replace and conquer the Jewish state.
Netanyahu, again opposing Kerry, says Palestinian issue ‘relatively marginal’ in Mideast
Nearly a week after 14 nations, including four permanent members of the UN Security Council, voted in favor of a resolution demanding Israel stop settlement activity in territory claimed by the Palestinians for a future state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Thursday that the Palestinian issue was relatively “marginal.”
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for Israeli Air Force pilots in the Hatzerim air force base a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Israel’s settlement enterprise was killing any chance of peace, Netanyahu said that “with all due respect to those who talk about the heart of the conflict in the Middle East,” the greatest and most genuine catastrophe affecting the region was “the scope of the destruction of [neighboring] states and cities, the mass slaughter of innocents, the endless flow of refugees to other continents” — a reference to the raging civil war in Syria — and not “our conflict with the Palestinians, which is a relatively marginal issue.”
The real issue, Netanyahu argued, is “the collapse of whole nations, of whole states in civil wars, and in the wars of radical Islam over the future of the Arab and Muslim world.”
“In just a few months in Syria, in Yemen and in [South] Sudan, more people were killed than in a hundred years of conflict [with] the Palestinians…[and these killings] have nothing to do with us,” he said, adding that “our hearts are with the innocent civilians suffering the evils of war.”
Argentina's ex-president suspected of cover up for Iran after 85 killed at Jewish center
An Argentine appeals court on Thursday revived a case accusing former President Christina Fernandez of trying to cover up Iran's alleged role in the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center in 1994.
The prosecutor who first brought the allegation, Alberto Nisman, died mysteriously in January 2015, and a judge later threw the case out for lack of evidence. But that ruling was revoked on Thursday, opening Fernandez to prosecution.
"The evidence does not allow for a clear dismissal of the possible commission of illicit acts," the country's official CIJ Judicial Information Center said in a statement. "The accusations must be weighed in advance of dismissal."
Argentine courts have accused Iran of sponsoring the attack, which killed 85 people at the AMIA Jewish community center.
6.58 million each: Palestinians claim they’ll be as numerous as Jews in ‘historic Palestine’ in 2017
An Israel Central Bureau of Statistics report published in September found that Jews make up close to three-quarters of the Israeli population at 6.4 million residents, while Israel’s almost 1.8 million Arabs make up one-fifth of the population, which totals 8.58 million. Those of other backgrounds, including non-Arab Christians and those not categorized as members of a religious group by the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, make up less than 5% of the population, at 380,000 people.
A November report from the ICBS found that fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women were identical for the first time in Israeli history in 2015.
Jewish and Arab women had given birth to an average of 3.13 children as of last year, the report said.
In 2000, the fertility rate among the country’s Arab population stood at 4.3 children per woman, while the fertility rate of Jewish women was 2.6. Since then the gap has narrowed as the Arab rate dropped off and the Jewish rate steadily increased.
According to the PCBS report, the average fertility rate for Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in the period 2011-2013 was 4.1 children per woman.
Canadian MP: As PM, I will move Canadian embassy to Jerusalem
Following the passage of the recent anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council and subsequent condemnation by US Secretary of State John Kerry of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem as being illegal, candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada Kellie Leitch vowed to move the Canadian Embassy to Jerusalem if elected as Prime Minister.
“In the wake of the recent UN vote and the comments of John Kerry, Canada must demonstrate its support for Israel. As Prime Minister, I will move the Canadian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem”, Leitch posted on her official Facebook page.
In an earlier post, Leitch had said: “The Conservative Party of Canada stands for democracy and with Israel. As leader I will protect and strengthen the special bond between our people.”
Stormy debate erupts over bill to ban Breaking the Silence from schools
A stormy debate broke out in the Knesset’s Educational Committee Wednesday morning over a proposed bill to ban all groups “that work to damage the IDF” from entering any academic institutions, with one government lawmaker branding an opponent of the measure a “traitor.”
The bill, which was proposed on Tuesday by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, is primarily directed at the Breaking the Silence organization, but gives the education minister the power to ban any group deemed hostile to the IDF from entering schools.
Founded in 2004 by a group of veteran Israeli army combatants, Breaking the Silence collects reports, usually anonymously, about alleged abuses by soldiers in the West Bank. It has often locked horns with the Israeli political and military brass and critics have denounced its reports as dishonest, inaccurate, and part of an advocacy campaign intended to harm Israel’s image overseas.
During the debate, Likud MK Amir Ohana labeled Breaking the Silence as one of the leading organizations in “the industry of lies against the State of Israel and the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces,” while adding that “we need to put an end” to the group’s “poison,” according to minutes of the meeting on the committee’s website.
Egypt Is Expanding Its Military Capabilities. Should Israel Be Worried?
Shortly after being appointed defense minister by Egypt’s then-president Mohammed Morsi, Mohammed Abdel Fattah el-Sisi launched a large-scale rearmament program, which included the purchase of submarines from Germany and the implementation of previous arms deals with the U.S. After overthrowing Morsi in a coup, Sisi has continued to rearm, striking deals to procure helicopters, ships, aircraft, and more from France and Russia with the financial assistance of the Gulf states. Yet, note Yiftah S. Shapir and Kashish Parpiani, Egypt hardly needs such arms. It is already well-supplied by the U.S., and its major threats come from insurgents in the Sinai and guerrillas in Libya and Sudan, all of whom can be combatted without so extensive an arsenal. Shapir and Parpiani suggest an alternative explanation:
[T]he large arms acquisitions should be seen in the broader context of Sisi’s doctrine and vision for Egypt, in place from the moment he assumed power. This vision sees Egypt resuming its former position as a regional power in the Middle East, with the capacity to project its power throughout the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Africa. . . .
The mere possibility of sending a landing force armed with battle tanks and accompanied by attack helicopters to [Yemen] or even as far away as Iran should give Egypt a strong say in the region. Egypt achieved this capability [through its recent purchases], with a great deal of financial aid from the Gulf states—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait. Thus this process should be seen in part in the context of the Saudi-led coalition against Iran. . . .
Stabbing foiled at West Bank checkpoint, assailant wounded
Security forces shot and wounded a Palestinian woman on Friday at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank as she tried to carry out a stabbing attack, police said. There were no other injuries.
“She approached the security forces with a knife in her hand. She did not respond to the calls of the soldiers to stop,” police said, adding that the threat was “neutralized.”
Soldiers fired at her legs when she refused to stop.
She was “lightly” wounded and arrested, police said.
There have been a series of attempted stabbings at the Qalandiya checkpoint, a major crossing point between Jerusalem and the Qalandiya refugee camp north of the capital.
Lebanon Forms Unity Government With Hezbollah
Lebanon’s parliament on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to approve a national unity government, which includes representatives of the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.
Lawmakers voted 87 in favor, four against and one abstention, to approve Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri’s cabinet. He had presented the 30-member cabinet earlier this month, having been asked to form a government by President Michel Aoun, who was elected several weeks previously.
Under long-standing agreements, Lebanon’s positions of power are divided to reflect the country’s complex ethnic mix – the president must be a Maronite Christian, its Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and parliament’s speaker a Shi’ite Muslim.
Hariri’s government also incorporates a wide cross-section of Lebanon’s political and ethnic spectrum, including two members of Hezbollah, the Shi’ite group classified a terror organisation by the United States. Hezbollah’s military wing appears on the European Union and British list of terror organisations.
On taking office earlier this month, Hariri pledged to “preserve our country from the negative consequences of the Syrian crisis.” Hezbollah is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and continues to fight alongside his forces in Syria’s bloody civil war.
Satellite Pics Suggest Iran, North Korea Cooperating on Nuclear Research
The discovery of a working North Korean missile site that was previously thought to be inactive may suggest that the country is cooperating with Iran on ballistic missile and nuclear technology, Voice of America reported Wednesday.
Satellite images taken and analyzed by the intelligence firm Strategic Sentinel discovered a missile silo in Geumchang-ri, a mountainous area in North Pyongan province, where American intelligence believed that the country was conducting nuclear weapons research in the late 1990s.
According to Strategic Sentinel, the missile silo has dimensions very similar to one known to exist in Tabriz, Iran.
“If this Iranian site is housing missiles and the North Korean site that we have uncovered is the exact same dimension, then it’s quite possible that the site that we have uncovered is housing missiles as well,” explained Strategic Sentinel founder Ryan Barenklau. He also suggested that the two countries could be collaborating on nuclear research.
Iran’s Western partners risk blood on their hands
One of the major questions for policymakers following Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president is what to do about Iran? This is a puzzle not just in Washington but in Europe, too.
Since the conclusion of nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, European countries have signed hundreds of memoranda of understanding and declarations of intent, and have engaged in negotiations for contracts in practically every field of economic activity: banking, finance, oil and gas, transportation, infrastructure, engineering, even dual-use technologies that could see both civilian and military applications.
Italy has led the way. Following former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s example, government ministers have announced dozens of initiatives and programs with their Iranian counterparts. These initiatives involve not only trade but also defense. The Italian Navy, for example, has carried out joint anti-piracy exercises with Iran.
The nuclear deal has represented the best opportunity for all those who have vested interests in Iran’s supposedly lucrative market to promote a misleading depiction of the country’s ruling regime. According to this deeply flawed narrative — seemingly taken for granted by most European institutions and member states — President Hassan Rouhani’s Iran has suddenly stopped being a major threat to international and regional stability. The truth could not be more different.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Spokesman: Settlements Will Spark War That Will Lead to Israel’s Destruction
Ongoing Israeli settlement construction will spark a war that will lead to the Jewish state’s “complete destruction,” an Iranian military official said on Thursday, the Tehran regime-aligned Tasnim news agency reported.
A day after US Secretary of State John Kerry assailed Israel’s settlement policies and less than week after the UN Security Council passed an anti-settlement resolution, General Ramezan Sharif — a spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — stated that further settlement building would “definitely provoke a reaction.”
Sharif — according to Tasnim — also called the US abstention from last Friday’s Security Council vote a “sign that Washington has come to realize the course of events and continued settlement construction will result in the collapse of the Zionist regime of Israel.”
Iranian regime officials often issue exterminationist threats against Israel and predict the country’s demise.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Saudi Arabia Bans Women From Using Google Drive (satire)
New restrictions on women and driving are scheduled to come into effect on Sunday, the most important of which involves a prohibition on women’s use of the online document management utility known as Google Drive.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport announced this week that new behaviors on the information superhighway have made it necessary to reformulate age-old laws barring females from getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. As such, he explained, the new regulations aim to keep women away from controlling devices using the term “drive.” The restrictions are part of a larger set of limits on female behavior that seek to maintain the kingdom’s moral character and traditional values.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference, Prince Ali Hassan ibn Klaud laid out the revamped regulations, which assign penalties to women for using Google Drive. Under the new rules, men in charge of women – i.e. husbands, brothers, fathers, or other legal guardians – can also face fines for allowing such depravity to occur under their watch.
“New technology calls for new types of enforcement and monitoring,” noted the prince. “It may have taken regulations a while to catch up with the pace of change, but we are doing what we can. For a brief period in the 1980’s a proposal was debated in the ministry regarding women’s access to drives of various sorts – both hard and soft drives, as I recall – but women’s use of computers was so limited back then that it hardly seemed a worthwhile pursuit to regulate it. Things have changed, however, and we must maintain the modesty and dignity of the Saudi woman.”
Two menorahs vandalized in Brooklyn
Two menorahs have been vandalized on Brooklyn playgrounds during Hanukkah.
One in the Prospect Heights neighborhood was twisted and knocked off its base, according to the news website DNAinfo. In adjoining Park Slope, a menorah had a branch torn off and its wiring ripped out and cut.
Rabbi Mendy Hecht of the Chabad of Park Slope, who set up the menorahs, discovered the vandalism Tuesday when he came to add candles and the menorahs were not there. Subsequently he was told by the New York City Parks Department that they had been removed.
“Taken out of its place, torn apart, broken … That’s something more than I’ve ever experienced,” Hecht said, according to DNAinfo.
The Parks Department said the agency is working with the New York Police Department to monitor the situation.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams denounced the acts, as did the Anti-Defamation League.
Immigration from Russia, Brazil increases in 2016
Some 27,000 people made aliyah in 2016, compared with 31,000 the previous year, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency for Israel said on Thursday.
Despite the overall drop, the number of olim from Russia and Brazil increased, with 7,000 arriving from Russia in 2016, up from 6,600 in 2015, and 760 arriving from Brazil, up from 497 in 2015.
Immigration dropped from Ukraine (5,500 in 2016 compared with 7,221 in 2015), France (5,000 in 2016 compared with 7,900 in 2015) and the United States (2,900 in 2016 compared with 3,070 in 2015). Some 650 olim came from the United Kingdom, 620 from Belarus, and 272 from South Africa in 2016.
The figures show that most olim tend to be young, with more than 5,000 of the olim in 2016 ages 17 or younger, 9,500 ages 18 to 35, and 3,000 ages 36 to 45. Some 4,600 olim were 46 to 65 and slightly over 3,000 were 66 or older.
Some 11% of the olim this year settled in Tel Aviv, 10% in Jerusalem, 9% in Netanya, and 8% in Haifa.
IDF launches programs to encourage Bedouin, Christians to enlist
The Israel Defense Forces has stepped up efforts to encourage Bedouin and Christian teens to volunteer for army service, offering a range of varied options in a bid to entice them to join up.
Bedouin and Arab Christians, like all Arab citizens of Israel, are exempt from compulsory military service, but an estimated half of those eligible choose to sign up for the IDF.
In the past few months the army sent letters to Bedouin youth approaching enlistment age inviting them to volunteer and laying out their options, Haaretz reported on Thursday.
“Today, more than ever, the IDF allows you to serve meaningfully in a variety of roles and positions that contribute to the IDF and to you personally,” the letter read.
Some 80 Bedouin have already signed up this year for a special two-year army program, which is shorter than the 30 months that Jewish men usually serve. In addition to their army training, the course gives recruits the opportunity to earn a truck-driving license in an attempt to make volunteering more attractive.
This Breathalyzer Claims To Detect Lung Cancer And 17 Different Diseases
Scientists have developed experimental breath analyzers, but most of these devices only focused on a single type of disease, such as cancer.
Researchers from the Israel Institute of Technology have created a device that can identify 17 different diseases, including lung cancer or Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers developed an array of nanoscale sensors to detect the components in breath samples from more than 1,400 patients who were either healthy or had one of 17 different diseases, such as kidney cancer, Parkinson’s disease, pulmonary hypertension and other diseases. Each sample was then passed through the breathalyzer, which could detect the types of chemicals and in what quantities.
As the researchers report in the journal ACS Nano, the data from the breathalyzer could detect if a person is suffering from diseases almost nine out of ten times. Each of the diseases, whether its kidney cancer or multiple sclerosis, had its own “breath point.” (h/t Alexi)
Wiesenthal Center’s Marvin Hier to deliver prayer at Trump inauguration
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, will offer a prayer at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Hier reportedly will offer readings, recite an original prayer and give Trump and incoming Vice President Mike Pence each a benediction at the Jan. 20 ceremony.
“Since the first inaugural ceremony, our leaders have paid tribute to the blessings of liberty that have been bestowed upon our country and its people,” Tom Barrack, the chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said in a statement issued Wednesday announcing the six faith leaders who will participate in the inauguration. “I am pleased to announce that a diverse set of faith leaders will offer readings and prayers at the swearing-in of President-elect Trump and honor the vital role religious faith plays in our multicultural, vibrant nation.”
IsraellyCool: Actor Mark Pellegrino Takes To Twitter To Defend Israel While Holidaying Here
My buddy Mark Pellegrino is currently in Israel as part of the latest group of celebrities brought here by America’s Voices in Israel.
As I’ve posted before, he’s a huge mensch and one of the most articulate celebrities I know on this issue.
Case in point: check out is tweets from Israel: he’s here visiting and taking in the sites and sounds, yet also makes sure to defend Israel from unfair criticism.
Ancient Jerusalem gets virtual restoration in new mobile app
Australia-based Lithodomos VR, which focuses on "bringing the ancient world to life using virtual reality" has recently released a new mobile application that allows users to experience the Jerusalem that existed some 2,000 years ago, before the Second Temple was destroyed.
According to a Jewish Business News, the new app lets visitors to Jerusalem's landmarks, such as the Western Wall, to see what is before them not just as it is today, but as it appeared to the contemporaries of the Roman empire.
"Imagine if when looking up at the Temple you could see how it once looked when the Second Temple -- as it was fully renovated by Herod -- stood in all of its glory," Thursday's report said, "and this is fitting at Hanukkah time as the holiday is a celebration of how the Second Temple was rededicated by the Maccabees after they defeated the Greeks and established Jewish home rule in Israel for the first time in the more than four centuries since the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians."
Lithodomos VR's app is called Ancient Jerusalem and is compatible with devices that run Android. It is the company's first mobile application.

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