Tuesday, February 28, 2017

From Ian:

The Politics of Anti-anti-Semitism
The reason, I would suggest, is that anti-Semitism has become politicized, and has become entwined in the widespread disdain for No. 45. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not help by eagerly endorsing the alleged pro-Semitic qualities of Donald Trump at one of the two news conferences in which Trump ducked questions about anti-Semitism. Those comments might help Bibi deal with the egomaniac in the Oval Office, but he antagonized Jewish Americans who have well-grounded concerns about Trump’s seeming indifference to anti-Semitism. Netanyahu also put defenders of Israel in an awkward position by embracing not just Trump but his coterie of right-wing advisers. He might have been well advised to adhere to the Hebrew school admonition, “sheket, bevakasha!” That brings me to the other reason I’m feeling uneasy. It’s the way people who make me feel uneasy are jumping on the anti-anti-Semitism bandwagon.
In a statement, the American Studies Association said that it “strongly reproves the recent wave of attacks on synagogues, mosques, and religious community centers in North America and on the Jewish and Islamic people using those institutions.” The ASA, of course, is widely known not for “reproving” anti-Semitism but quite the opposite, a widely condemned resolution boycotting Israeli academics—a singling out of the Jewish state as part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has been denounced as anti-Semitic. Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist who “makes no secret of her opposition to Israel and support of BDS,” has raised significant money for the St. Louis cemetery—and believe you me, she is not keeping it a secret.
Yes it’s possible that Sarsour and the ASA are just bubbling over with empathy for the Jewish community that they have never shown for the Jewish state. It’s also possible that they are cynically exploiting the wave of anti-Semitism as political cover for their BDS advocacy. I lean toward the latter theory. It’s a bit like “Jew-washing”—the use of Jewish supporters in anti-Israel agitation—except that in this instance the Jews are safely dead.
Hard-pressed cemeteries are not going to turn down thousands of bucks, regardless of the motives of the donors. One can’t fault the cemeteries targeted by tombstone-topplers for holding their noses and taking whatever donations are given. But I’m reasonably sure what my Uncle Irving would have said if his parents’ cemetery was the target of a propaganda ploy. He’d have told them to keep their money. And he’d have suggested what they could do with it.
Shmuley Boteach: Donald Trump and the smear of antisemitism
When accusing a man of being an antisemite, let’s be a bit factual lest we falsely libel friends and label allies as foes.
Let’s cut through all the clutter and get straight to the main issues surrounding US President Donald Trump and allegations of antisemitism.
Firstly, to suggest that President Trump dislikes Jews would have us believe that he despises his own daughter and grandchildren when precisely the opposite seems to be true. Ivanka seems to be the apple of his eye. Indeed, when his daughter was dating Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew from a famously observant family, her father could have easily dissuaded her from converting but instead publicly supported her and threw a kosher wedding. It would also suggest that his strong support for Israel is inauthentic when it’s something he has worn on his sleeve for his entire adult life.
Trump as antisemite is not implausible but absurd and libelous.
OK, so Trump is definitely not an antisemite. One would even suggest that he’s a philosemite. He has surrounded himself with Jews who are his business colleagues, employees and friends. I know Orthodox Jews who have long worked for Trump and say that his respect for the Jewish faith has been exemplary.
But is Trump sending dog whistles to white supremacist supporters who dislike Jews? Was his failure until last week to publicly decry antisemitism a result of fear of alienating racist backers?
Alan M. Dershowitz: Ellison Was Defeated by His Own Actions Not by Any Smear
Those who believe that Democrats can win by attracting the kind of hard left radicals who voted for Green Party candidates such as Jill stein or Ralph Nader are blinking reality. The Democrats could never nominate a winning candidate far left enough for those hard left ideologues to abandon their extremist candidates. Extremists like Susan Sarandon seem to believe that a vote for Trump will hasten the revolution. This is how she put it: "Some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode."
Nor can the Democrats win by emulating the tactics of the Republican Party. The Tea Party did move the Republicans to the right by their uncompromising and obstructionist approach. But the United States has more tolerance-- unfortunately in my view -- for rightward movement (as long as it's not too extreme) than the Democrats gave for leftward movement.
The current leadership of the Democratic Party is reacting short term to a long term problem. They are responding to the loudest, shrillest and most demanding voices-- voices that are hardly representative of the tens of millions of voters they will need to remain competitive in upcoming races.
The Democrats can win only by regaining their traditional base among working class rust belt voters they lost to trump. These voters will never support the kind of radical left wing candidates promoted by the Keith Ellison wing of the party.
Ellison's appointment as the deputy to Tom Perez the man who defeated him elevated unity over principle. His past history and current voting record should have disqualified him for any office within the Democratic Party. But despite that unfortunate appointment, I will remain in the Democratic Party and work from within to move it back to its vibrant liberal center and away from its radical fringe. I will also work to maintain bipartisan support for Israel and against efforts by the hard left to abandon the only democracy in the Middle East.
It will be a daunting task but it is worth the effort. We won the fight against Ellison, though it was close. We must continue to win if the Democratic Party is to remain competitive.

Keith Ellison’s Rise to Second-in-Command at DNC Worries Some Jewish Democrats
Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said he was “very troubled” that Ellison “could be treated as a legitimate candidate, and could do so well in the voting, despite his extremist positions and attitudes.” In an interview with JNS.org, Hikind said it is “scary” that polls show that “a large segment of the Democratic Party is more sympathetic to the Palestinian Arabs than to Israel.” Ellison’s role as the party’s second second-in-command could accelerate that trend, the Assemblyman fears.
Dr. Harold Brackman, a scholar of black-Jewish relations, and an expert on the Nation of Islam, said that Ellison’s “near-miss” should be “disconcerting, not only to friends of Israel, but to those concerned about indications of a rising tide of antisemitic incidents in this country, as well as worldwide.”
Jewish Republicans view the latest developments similarly. Fred Brown, the communications director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, called the choice of Ellison as deputy chairman “a horrifying development for our country, the Democratic Party and Jews everywhere.” Noting Ellison’s “longtime hostility to Israel” and the fact that he “renounced the Nation of Islam only when the political pressure became too great,” Brown said that the elevation of Ellison in the DNC’s hierarchy “has cemented the Democrat Party’s lurch into the extreme.”
Some Jewish political observers, however, are less alarmed. Former DNC spokeswoman and pro-Israel activist Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi pointed out that “the two main candidates in the DNC race each reached out significantly to the Jewish community, and each had some key Jewish supporters.”
New DNC Chair Perez Engaged Islamists, Ignored Reformers
Tom Perez has defeated Rep. Keith Ellison in the race to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but don’t rest easy: Perez also has a concerning record and chose Ellison as his deputy chairman.
When he was the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, he included Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups and their allies in discussions about counter-terrorism training and investigations and laws punishing alleged “hate speech” against the religion of Islam. Muslim and non-Muslim critics of such Islamist groups were not a part of Perez’ outreach on these issues.
Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor responsible for locking up the “Blind Sheikh” behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, rightly pointed out at the time that the result of excluding the Islamist groups’ rivals is that officials like Perez “are making these Islamist groups into the representatives of Muslims in the United States.”
In 2012, Perez wouldn't answer what should have been a very easy question posed by Rep. Trent Frank (R-AZ) while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution :
“Will you tell us here today that this Administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?"
His answer was a series of stammers and assertions that it was hard to answer.
7 more JCCs, ADL office evacuated in latest bomb scare
The Anti-Defamation League’s San Francisco office was evacuated, and an additional seven Jewish Community Centers were also cleared after receiving bomb threats on Monday evening, bringing to 29 the number of Jewish institutions targeted on Monday.
Secure Community Network, the security arm of the national Jewish community, reported evacuations in Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona; Orange County, Palo Alto, San Diego and Long Beach in California; and Mercer Island in suburban Seattle, Washington state.
The most recent evacuations bring to 28 the number of JCCs and Jewish schools evacuated on Monday, the fifth wave of threats since the beginning of the year.
Earlier evacuations on Monday were reported in JCCs in Asheville, North Carolina; Birmingham, Alabama; York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Tarrytown, Plainview and Staten Island, New York; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Davie, Florida; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Wilmington, Delaware.
With few safeguards, Jewish cemeteries make easy targets for vandals
Sometime between the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 17, and the following Monday morning, vandals damaged 170 gravestones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish cemetery outside St. Louis.
Beyond that, cemetery staffers aren’t sure when the attack happened. Groundskeepers leave at 4 p.m. Fridays, and the cemetery is open to the public, unstaffed, all day Sunday. An employee discovered the damaged headstones Monday morning.
Even less is known about Saturday night’s attack on the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, which saw at least 100 gravestones toppled. Unlike the St. Louis-area cemetery, which is surrounded by a fence and employs groundskeepers, Mount Carmel is run by volunteers, with only a sidewalk separating it from the street.
“There was nothing,” said Steve Rosenberg, chief marketing officer for Philadelphia’s Jewish federation. “It’s wide open. Anyone can walk right in. They can’t find anything that’s closed off to anyone.”
White House: President Trump ‘Deeply Disappointed and Concerned’ by Ongoing Antisemitism Upsurge Across US
President Donald Trump is “deeply disappointed and concerned” by the ongoing upsurge in antisemitism across the US, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday.
At a White House press briefing, Spicer referred to the recent desecration of two Jewish cemeteries — in St. Louis and Philadelphia — and the spate of telephone bomb threats targeting Jewish institutions.
“The president continues to condemn these and any other form of antisemitic and hateful acts in the strongest terms,” Spicer said. “No one in America should feel afraid to follow the religion of their choosing freely and openly. The president is dedicated to preserving this originating principle of our nation.”
On Monday, bomb threats were called into Jewish community centers and schools in 11 states.
“Antisemitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities,” David Posner — director of strategic performance at the JCC Association of North America — said in a statement.
Bipartisan Congressional Antisemitism Task Force Relaunches in Wake of Recent Incidents Across US
A bipartisan congressional task force for combating antisemitism has been relaunched following an uptick in anti-Jewish incidents across the US, the group announced Monday.
“At home and abroad, we continue to witness antisemitism that is both dangerous and complex,” the task force members said in a statement, citing the vandalization of Jewish graves and bomb threats targeting Jewish centers and schools in America, as well as the ongoing harassment and violence aimed at Jews around the world. “In light of recent events, it is more important than ever that Democrats and Republicans work together to root out hatred and racism in all its ugly forms. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress to find innovative solutions that match the 21st-century face of this ancient bigotry.”
According to the statement, the task force “serves as a forum for educating [House] members on this distinct form of intolerance and to engage with the Trump administration, foreign leaders and civil society organizations to share best practices and collaborate on solutions to rebuff this systemic problem.” The task force members will also work to promote Holocaust remembrance and explore innovative way for American politicians to confront and condemn hate worldwide.
The task force is comprised of more than 100 Republicans and Democrats, and headed by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), Ted Deutch (D-Fla), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill).
‘Threat’ forces police evacuation of Sydney Jewish Museum
THE Jewish Museum in Sydney was evacuated on Tuesday following a reported bomb threat.
NSW Police has confirmed that they are in attendance at the scene and a threat was made against the museum.
Images from the scene show backed up traffic and sniffer dogs.
The Australian Jewish News reported occupants allowed to re-enter the building at 3pm.
In a statement, Police told news.com.au, “an operation is underway at a museum on Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, following a threat that has been made.
“A building is being evacuated by police as a precaution while the area is searched. No further information available at this time.”
Following the all-clear, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said, “The NSW Police secured the area, the all-clear was subsequently given and we were assured that there is no risk to the facility or to the community.
“We wish to express our gratitude to the NSW Police for their swift response.”
Miami Beach residents find swastikas etched on their cars
Miami Beach detectives are investigating after several people came outside Sunday to find that their cars at swastikas etched on them.
“It's disgusting!” said Kim Rosenfeld, whose family’s Range Rover parked near 28th Street and Prairie Avenue had been vandalized. “I think it's a hate crime.”
Police said that there were several officers, detectives and crime scene units investigating in the area not far from Bayshore Municipal Golf Course.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many cars had the offensive symbol.
Doug Eaton said his wife was leaving for the gym when she discovered that there was a swastika drawn on the hood of their Range Rover.
“Obviously, it was to offend our neighbors,” said Eaton, who isn’t Jewish. “They didn't know we weren't Jewish, but a majority of the neighborhood is Jewish and it was designed to offend them. It's a very offensive sign.”
Earlier this month, a swastika was spray-painted on the side of a car parked across from a home in Boca Raton.
Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz: Animosity Towards a Sovereign Jewish State Is the Root Cause of the Conflict
True peace requires addressing the deep sources of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Those lay with the Arab and Muslim reaction to the return of the Jewish people to powerful sovereignty in their ancient homeland. As far as Muslim theology and Arab practice were concerned, the Jews were non-believers, only to be tolerated, never as equals. They should have never been allowed to undermine Muslim rule over the lands which the Jews claimed as their homeland but the Arabs viewed as exclusively theirs since conquering them in the seventh century.
The return of the Jewish people to restored sovereignty in their ancient homeland required Arabs and Muslims to accept that a people, whom they have for centuries treated as inferiors, worthy of contempt, were now claiming equality and exercising power in their midst. This unnatural historical development, in Arab eyes, led Arab governments to take revenge and forcefully expel hundreds of thousands of Jews living in their midst, often in communities predating the birth of Islam, just after the establishment of the State of Israel.
It is also the reason why Arab states kept the Arabs who were displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and their millions of descendants as perpetual "refugees" - to deprive the Jewish state of legitimacy and peace.
It is the reason that even after losing repeated military wars against the State of Israel, Arab countries have continued their diplomatic and economic war against it to this day.
This attitude towards the Jewish state is an Arab - and Muslim - issue, and not only a Palestinian one. The Palestinians are the thin end of the wedge by which the Arab and Muslim world wages its war against a sovereign Jewish people.
If the word "peace" is ever to truly describe the situation between Israel and its neighbors, it requires the Arab and Muslim world to accept the Jews as their equals and as an indigenous people who have come home.
Anne Bayefsky U.N. Human Rights Council — Get Out of the Quicksand or Drown
The U.N. “Human Rights” Council starts its main annual session on Monday in Geneva with elected members and human-rights aficionados such as Saudi Arabia, China, and Qatar settling into their seats. The question hanging over the head of President Trump is whether his administration will take its place beside these other states and legitimize the most anti-Israel, twisted bastion of moral relativism in the U.N. system.
Barack Obama deliberately designed a quicksand trap before leaving office. He put the U.S. forward for Human Rights Council membership in a U.N. election that occurred just ten days before the American presidential election. Attempting to rule from the grave, Obama knew full well that the U.S. would be occupying a three-year spot that officially commenced on January 1, 2017. The Bush administration had refused to join the Council, or to pay for it, when the Council was first created as a faux renovation of the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission back in 2006. Joining the Council was one of Obama’s very first foreign-policy moves in 2009.
The only way out of the quagmire for the Trump administration, therefore, is to resign.
The State Department’s Obama holdovers are pushing hard for the status quo. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told Politico, “Our delegation will be fully involved in the work of the HRC session which starts Monday.” This result would be the very opposite of draining the swamp.
Moreover, the only survivors in the U.N. Human Rights Council swamp are the crocodiles. There is a permanent agenda of ten items that governs proceedings at every Council session. One agenda item is devoted to human-rights violations by Israel, and one generic agenda item is for all other 192 U.N. member states that might be found to “require the Council’s attention.” In classic State Department double-talk, the Obama administration promised that by joining the Council, the U.S. could reform the Council agenda from the inside. The Obama administration tried and predictably failed. But it then justified staying on the Council — despite back-of-the-bus treatment for the Jewish state — as a price worth paying for other people’s human rights. Pitting minorities against each other was, after all, an Obama specialty.
Extending Israeli Sovereignty to the Golan Heights Can Check Iranian Expansion
At his meeting with Donald Trump earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu sought support for Israel’s formal annexation of the Golan, a territory it has held since 1967. Zvi Hauser argues that such a move would benefit both Israel and the U.S.
International recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, which makes up only 1 percent of what was until recently Syria, isn’t only in Israel’s interest, but above all in the interest of all those who wish to stabilize the region and block Iran’s growing influence in it. [Moreover], the moderate Sunni states won’t fight a move that means exacting a territorial price from the Shiite axis of evil.
[Ultimately], reality on the ground is stronger than past fixations. There is no horizon on the Golan Heights but the Israeli one. Neither [allowing] radical Sunni factions [in Syria to take the territory] nor [letting] the Iran-Hizballah-Assad alliance establish a foothold on the Sea of Galilee will contribute to stabilizing the region and rehabilitating it.
The international community must come to terms with the geostrategic implications of the Middle East’s collapse. The Middle East’s borders as we knew them in the last century are evaporating before our eyes. Recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan is a self-evident move in reshaping the region by the demarcation [of new borders]—especially in the Syrian-Iraqi area, which has irreversibly changed. . . .
Netanyahu: Still no agreement on settlements with Trump
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told MKs from his ruling Likud party on Monday that he still has not reached an agreement with US President Donald Trump regarding the construction of new homes in West Bank settlements.
Netanyahu said that although he is working with the White House to establish a “mechanism” for coordinating settlement construction, “things are not as simple as you think they are,” unnamed participants in the Likud faction meeting told the Haaretz daily.
Trump’s presidency “is a historic opportunity, but [we] need to know the limits of this opportunity,” Haaretz quoted Netanyahu as saying.
Netanyahu’s comments were reportedly made during a heated argument between Likud lawmakers who support annexing large swaths of the West Bank and those in favor of separating from the Palestinians while still maintaining security control over the area.
UN Watch: U.S. May Pull Out of U.N.'s Human Rights Council - Hillel Neuer on i24 News

U.N. Watch: Defund this lesson plan
A new report by a United Nations monitoring group documents 40 instances over the past year in which school teachers and staff with a U.N. agency in the Middle East not only spewed anti-Semitism on their Facebook pages but also called for acts of terrorism against Israel.
Such depravity that instills Israeli hatred among Palestinian children is inexcusable. Never mind that these cases, documented by U.N. Watch, follow dozens of similar cases in 2015 involving employees with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
And there's no mistaking the mindset behind the messages:
• In Lebanon, UNRWA teachers venerated Adolf Hitler and praised terrorists.
• In Jordan, UNRWA staffers celebrated the death of Israeli soldiers and the murder of civilians.
• In Gaza, UNRWA teachers glorified knife attacks and acts of terrorism.
• In Syria, UNRWA teachers denied the Holocaust and incited violence.
As the report points out, this unbridled hatred permeates “the very existence of (UNRWA), its structure and operations and core political mission.” A mission, by the way, that the U.S. funded to the tune of $380 million in 2015, according to U.N. Watch.
Even if the despicable Facebook posts are removed, the poisoned mindset remains. If indeed Team Trump is serious about cutting America's U.N. funding, it should start with the share that goes to the UNRWA.
Blistering Gaza war report scorches Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Gantz over tunnel failures
Israel’s state comptroller took military and political leaders to task for their failure to prepare adequately for the threat of attack tunnels ahead of the 2014 war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in a pair of long-awaited, highly critical reports published on Tuesday.
The reports found significant gaps in the military’s intelligence in the lead-up to the war, as well as a lack of clearly defined operational plans for how to destroy the tunnels. Those failings may have led, the report said, to the unnecessary deaths of Israeli soldiers during the 50-day conflict.
But the Prime Minister’s Office bore the brunt of State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s criticism, for its failure to sufficiently brief members of the security cabinet about the subterranean threat.
While the reports were only released to the public on Tuesday, most of the critiques they contain have been reported on widely for months, as versions of the scalding documents circulated among relevant politicians and defense officials — and were leaked by them — as early as May 2016.
One report deals with the performance of the government and military during the conflict, dubbed Operation Protective Edge in Israel, and in the lead-up to it in general, with special attention paid to Hamas tunnels and Israel’s lax preparations for dealing with their threat. A second, shorter report deals only with the tunnel threat, but in far greater detail.
Analysis: The Gaza conflict report and the paradox of Israel's wars
In addition to these four figures, two others were criticized by the Comptroller in his report. Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yoram Cohen and then-National Security Council chief Yossi Cohen, who today heads the Mossad. However, the report does not recommend personal measures be taken against them either.
Even if the Comptroller would have recommended that they be held personally responsible, it is doubtful that this would actually happen. There is no culture of taking responsibility in Israel. To the contrary, there is an escape from responsibility and a tendency to pass the buck, as we saw in the last few days leading up to the publication of the report, when all of the senior military and political officials entrenched themselves in their positions and pointed the finger at each other.
There are few people who were given positive feedback in the report. One of them is OC Southern Command Sami Turgeman and the other is Yoav Mordechai, who at the end of June 2014, weeks before the war broke out, warned in defense establishment discussions that "the Gaza Strip is descending into crisis...which has reached an unprecedented point." In other words, it is possible that if the government of Israel understood the severity of the economic and humanitarian crisis in Gaza and acted accordingly, perhaps the war was preventable.
Despite the comptroller report, it is impossible to ignore the built in paradox in Israel's wars. The committees of inquiry and the various reports from the state comptroller or other bodies criticize and censure both the military and political echelons, as it is their job to do. However, some of the wars with which these critics found the most flaws and failures actually brought Israel the best results strategically.
Peace with Egypt was achieved after the Yom Kippur War. Quiet has been kept on the Lebanese border for eleven years following the Second Lebanon War with Hezbollah in 2006 and we are currently experiencing the longest period of quiet on the Gaza front since 1968 - and this quiet will continue, according to many estimates, because Hamas is deterred and has no interest in embarking on a fourth round of violence in a decade. This can be called deterrence, or it can be called the cunning of history.
Army accuses comptroller of tunnel vision in Gaza war report
The Israel Defense Forces pushed back against some of the criticisms leveled at it in a harsh state comptroller report on the 2014 Gaza war published Tuesday, and especially the assertion that its intelligence on tunnels in the Strip was lacking in the lead-up to the conflict.
“On the eve of Operation Protective Edge” — the Israeli name for the war — “the IDF had substantial information regarding the majority of Hamas’s terror tunnels and the nature of its underground terror network,” the military said in a statement.
“These intelligence efforts to address the attack tunnels enabled infantry forces to locate the majority of the tunnels and reveal their routes,” the army said.
The State Comptroller’s Office report criticized the prime minister, defense minister and military for failing to adequately prepare for the Hamas attack tunnels used during the conflict. The security cabinet was also said to have been poorly informed of the threat posed by this subterranean attack infrastructure.
With that point as well, the army took apparent umbrage.
Heads of ‘Gaza Envelope’ Regional Councils Express Hope That Israeli Political, Military Echelons Will Learn From, Implement Findings on Failures of Operation Protective Edge
The heads of local authorities in the “Gaza envelope” in southern Israel expressed hope on Monday — in the wake of a report that Hamas has 15 terror tunnels leading into the Jewish state, and ahead of the release of the State Comptroller’s Report on the failures of Operation Protective Edge — that the defense establishment is implementing lessons learned from the 2014 war, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
“We trust the political echelon and the army to learn from the report’s findings and recommendations, and to continue addressing the issue of the tunnels,” said Sdot Negev Regional Council head Tamir Idan. “I am not familiar with the information about the 15 tunnels in question, but I am certain that if they do exist, they are being tackled with the utmost seriousness by the relevant authorities… the tunnel threat created a new reality on the ground, which has taken a toll on the area’s civil resilience. We are aware of the threat and its major impact on our residents, which is why we are following and will continue to monitor how it is being handled.”
Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council head Alon Schuster said, “I would like to reiterate and reemphasize that the IDF acted and is still operating in the area to safeguard the security of the residents. The underground barrier currently under construction will not just prevent the digging of new tunnels, but will destroy existing ones…It appears that a solution to the problem is drawing near.”
Merhavim Regional Council head Shai Hajaj criticized what he called the “hysterical debate, full of political accusations, surrounding the release of the Comptroller’s report,” calling it “a waste of time and ineffective in fixing what was defective.”
Arab Israelis Are Joining the IDF in Growing Numbers: Officials
Israel — The Star of David is the best-known symbol of Jewish identity and of patriotism for the state of Israel.
So it may come as a surprise that a six-pointed star hangs around the neck of Sgt. Yossef Saluta, a Muslim Arab.
The 20-year-old poses proudly wearing the necklace and his Israeli army uniform, a rifle slung over his shoulder. He is among a tiny but growing number of Arab Israelis to defy tradition — and often their communities — to serve in the Israeli military.
"There is more openness among Arab Muslims that are not Bedouins to volunteer and join the army," according to Col. Wagdi Sarhan, the head of the minorities unit in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). "We're talking about recruitment of dozens of Arab Muslim youth and we are hopeful that the numbers will grow."
Four years ago, the number of Arab Israelis who volunteered for military service was under 10. Today it stands in the dozens, according to Sarhan.
Egypt deports top Palestinian official on arrival at Cairo airport
Egyptian airport security denied entry to a senior Palestinian official on Monday and deported him, sources at Cairo airport said.
Jibril al Rajoub, a confidant of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and a high-ranking member of the central committee of Abbas's Fatah movement, was told he was on a no-entry list and put on a flight to Jordan, the sources said.
The sources gave no other reason for the deportation of Rajoub, a former security chief in the Palestinian Authority who now heads its Higher Council for Youth and Sports and the Palestinian Football Association.
Monir al Jaghoub, a Fatah official in the West Bank, said on his Facebook page that Rajoub had been invited by the Arab League to attend a conference in Cairo on terrorism.
After learning that Rajoub had been refused entry to the country on the orders of the Egyptian intelligence services, the Palestinian delegation withdrew from the event, Jaghoub wrote.
Neither Egypt's foreign ministry nor Rajoub could be reached for comment. (h/t Yenta Press)
Facebook shuts down Palestinian ruling party’s official account
Facebook on Monday closed the official page of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party amid a crackdown by the social media giant on Palestinian incitement.
In a statement on its Twitter account, Fatah, which is headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that Facebook closed the account after it posted a historical picture of former Fatah leader Yasser Arafat holding a rifle, standing alongside Fatah leader Mahmoud al-Aloul.
The page, which had garnered over 70,000 likes, routinely posted material that glorified Palestinian terrorism and martyrdom.
On February 15, Aloul was elected the first-ever vice president of Fatah by the party’s central committee.
Munir al-Jaghoub, who heads Fatah’s Information Department in the Office of Mobilization and Organization, wrote on his personal Facebook page that this was actually the second time the social media giant had closed Fatah’s account, but he did not specify when the first time was. Jaghoub was not available for a comment. (h/t Yenta Press)
Palestinian Authority to hold municipal elections in West Bank only
The Palestinian Authority government announced on Tuesday that it will hold municipal elections set to take place on May 13 in the West Bank without the Gaza Strip, ending hopes that the Ramallah-based Palestinian governing body would be able to organize the first nationwide elections on the same day since 2006.
The PA, which dominates the West Bank, failed to convince Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, to hold elections in the small coastal enclave.
Over the past several weeks, the PA dispatched Hana Nasser, the chairman of the PA Central Election Commission, Husam Zomlot, an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and a number of other officials to Gaza to convince the Hamas leadership to participate in the planned municipal elections and facilitate their taking place in Gaza.
Tariq Rishmawi, a PA government spokesman, squarely placed the blame on Hamas for the elections not taking place in Gaza.
“Hamas is responsible,” Rishmawi said in a telephone call. “Hamas informed us that it will not allow for elections to take place in the Gaza Strip.”
Islamic State bolsters hold on north Sinai as army pulls back
In the past three days, Islamic State fighters in Egypt’s volatile northern Sinai region abducted four men accused of collaborating with the government, three of them during a brazen raid in the middle of a public market.
Two of the men have been found slain while the others remain missing; Egyptian officials say that one of the slain men had his eyes plucked out and was set on fire before being shot to death.
Women are being threatened with punishment if they don’t wear the niqab and farmers are being forced to pay financial tribute to IS under the guise of the “zakat” mandatory Islamic donation to charity.
The militants have set up their own checkpoints especially on the roads around the city of Rafah, which borders the Gaza Strip. Passengers are forced to recite from the Quran before being allowed to pass, according to area residents and tribal leaders.
This recent show-of-strength campaign by IS loyalists in northern Sinai comes on the heels of a recent easing of the military campaign against them and represents a move to reassert their control over the local civilian population, according to residents, tribal leaders and officials.
Hizbullah Efforts To Impose Religious Standards In Public Spark Anger Among South Lebanon Residents
In the last six months there have been increasing reports in the Lebanese media regarding Hizbullah's efforts to enforce compliance with Islamic standards in various towns in South Lebanon. This religious coercion is manifest in announcements issued by municipal and local councils that are controlled by Hizbullah representatives, ordering the closure of liquor stores or banning the free mixing of men and women in public places. These measures sparked protest among sectors in South Lebanon that support Hizbullah as a resistance organization but do not necessarily agree with its religious policy. In many cases the protest caused the local councils to rescind the orders. Criticism of the measures was also voiced in the Lebanese press, including even in the daily Al-Akhbar known for its support for Hizbullah.
This report reviews some of the coercive measures taken by Hizbullah and some of the critical responses to them.
Banning Gender Mixing In Public Places, Events
In July 2016 the Lebanese press reported that the city council in the town of Jebchit, in the Nabatiyah Governorate in South Lebanon, had banned women from internet cafes and entertainment venues and also ordered to close these venues during prayer times, in order to "preserve the residents' peace of mind and in consideration of the shari'a and moral [standards]." The owners of these businesses protested that the city council was not authorized to issue such an order. A report in the pro-Hizbullah Al-Akhbar daily noted that the residents of the town are religious but nevertheless oppose religious coercion. One of the residents quoted in the daily even likened the order to measures taken by ISIS.
New Hezbollah Sign Placed on Israel-Lebanon Border Threatens ‘Account Not Settled,’ Displays Potential Infiltration Routes Into Jewish State
Hezbollah recently placed a large sign on the Israel-Lebanon border bearing a threatening message to the Jewish state: “The account is not settled.”
On the sign, according to the Hebrew news site nrg, are images of Hezbollah leaders, including the late Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a February 2008 car bombing in Damascus that the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist group and foreign media outlets attributed to Israel.
The sign also displays a map showing potential infiltration routes from southern Lebanon into northern Israel. Hezbollah has vowed that its fighters will seize parts of the Galilee region during a future war.
“We can see the sign very clearly…it’s hard to miss it,” a resident of the northern border kibbutz of Malkia was quoted by nrg as saying.
Last week, as reported by The Algemeiner, Israel’s military chief told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the IDF was “operating under the radar to prevent Hezbollah from getting stronger.”
Australian arrested on charges of helping ISIS develop missile tech
Australian counter-terrorism police arrested an unidentified man after a raid on a countryside property on Tuesday and accused him of seeking to help the Islamic State group by developing missile technology, the first arrest of its kind in Australia.
Dozens of police, including a dog squad and some officers with metal detectors, raided a property in Young, about 270 km (170 miles) southwest of Sydney, earlier on Tuesday, pictures on Australian media showed.
Ian McCartney, Assistant Commissioner of counter-terrorism for the Australian Federal Police, said police will allege the 42-year-old man had been advising the radical Islamist group on how to develop the technical capability to detect guided missiles and to build their own missiles.
"We will also allege that he has been researching, designing and modelling systems to assist ISIL's efforts to develop their own long-range guided missile capabilities," McCartney said, using another common term to describe Islamic State.
Other police alleged the man had been attempting to research and design a laser missile-warning device.
'Dress up like a Jew and make sure you have plenty of weapons under your coat': ISIS fanatics issue chilling call to 'terrorise' Jewish people in the West
ISIS fanatics have issued a chilling call for fellow extremists to 'terrorise' Jewish communities in the West.
Brainwashed supporters were advised to 'dress up like a Jew' and conceal weapons under their coats before 'unleashing the pain of the Muslims' on their victims.
The terrifying call to arms emerged on an ISIS-linked Telegram channel called Lone Mujahid - a chat room where aspiring terrorists are encourage to carry out 'lone-wolf'-style attacks.
In a recent post, jihadists were urged to carry out attacks on Jewish communities in the West.
The chat room post said: 'IF YOU'RE STILL IN THE WEST! Dress up like a Jew! Go to your nearest Jewish area! Make sure you have plenty of weapons under you coat!'
It then urges followers to 'unleash the pain of the Muslims'.
Islamic State looting uncovers ancient palace beneath Jonah’s Tomb
Archaeologists in Iraq say they have made an unexpected discovery under a site destroyed by Islamic State traditionally thought to hold the tomb of the biblical prophet Jonah.
Under a mound covering the ancient city of Nineveh, beneath a shrine destroyed by IS, they found a previously undiscovered palace built in the seventh century BCE for the Biblical Assyrian King Sennacherib and renovated by his son Esarhaddon.
The Nabi Younus shrine in Mosul — which was built on the reputed burial site of a prophet known in the Koran as Yunus and in the Bible as Jonah — was a popular pilgrimage site.
In July 2014, weeks after overrunning Mosul and much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland, IS militants rigged the shrine and blew it up, sparking global outrage.
In mid-January, Iraqi troops in Nineveh liberated the site.
“(It is) far more damaged than we expected,” Culture Minister Salim Khalaf said.
But IS also dug tunnels beneath the shrine searching for artifacts to plunder.

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