Saturday, March 18, 2017

From Ian:

UN Watch: Pressured by Nikki Haley, U.N. Pulls Richard Falk’s ‘Apartheid’ Israel Report, Head of Arab U.N. Agency Resigns
UN Watch welcomed today’s resignation by Rima Khalaf from her post as head of a Beirut-based UN agency, comprised of 18 Arab states, after what she described as pressure from secretary-general Antonió Guterres to withdraw a report accusing Israel of “apartheid.” The report appears to have been deleted today from the U.N. ESCWA agency’s website.
As revealed by UN Watch, the author of the report was disgraced ex-UN official Richard Falk, who had been denounced on repeated occasions by former UN chief Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders for espousing 9/11 conspiracy theories, blaming the U.S. and Israel for the Boston Marathon bombing, and spreading antisemitism.
Earlier this week, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley welcomed remarks by Guterres’ spokesman distancing himself from the report, but she demanded that the UN “withdraw the report altogether.”
“When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN,” said Haley today in reaction, “it is appropriate that the person resign. UN agencies must do a better job of eliminating false and biased work, and I applaud the Secretary-General’s decision to distance his good office from it.”
“Guterres deserves credit for doing the right thing,” said Hillel Neuer, who sparred with Falk repeatedly during the latter’s fraught 6-year term as the UN Human Rights Council’s investigator of alleged Israeli violations.
“But there is no question that the initial moral voice here was that of U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, and that it was U.S. leverage which prompted the UN to act.”
Hillel Neuer: Why the UK should expel UN official Richard Falk
This evening in Britain, Richard Falk – the UN official whose mandate is to investigate “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law” – will speak at the University of East Anglia, at the invitation of a Green Party activist.
Months after Britain denied entry to two U.S. bloggers whom it accused of promoting anti-Islamic sentiment, it is far from clear why the government is now applying a double standard by welcoming Falk – a notorious Hamas supporter, 9/11 conspiracist, and promoter of anti-Semitic theories, cartoons, and books – whom the UK government itself has officially condemned on at least three separate occasions for promoting what it described as anti-Semitism.
In blocking the American bloggers, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, the UK government in June found that their presence in the country was “not conducive to the public good” because they made statements that “may foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”
Are Falk’s actions and statements any less hateful?
Consider the facts
Walter Russell Mead: The Grey Lady Soft Pedals Richard Falk
In no sense can Falk be called an impartial or fair minded writer. The Times can and should do better than paying lip service to unnamed “critics”.
Here at Via Meadia, we’re used to this crazy UN stuff. Our core criticism isn’t of predictable haters commissioning a predictable hit job, but of the NYT for failing to give its readers a clear understanding of just who it was who produced this piece. The Times‘ incomplete account also makes top UN officials’ response to the apartheid accusation look weak and potentially irresponsible rather than principled:
The leadership of the United Nations, sensitive to accusations by Israel and the United States over what they have described as a deep anti-Israel bias, moved quickly to distance itself from the report and described it as a surprise.
“We just saw the report today,” Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Secretary General António Guterres, said at a daily news briefing. “It was done without any prior consultation with the secretary general. The report as it stands does not reflect the stance of the secretary general.”

Falk’s bias and animus are well known at the UN, and UN officials—who know much more about this than the Times decided to share with its readers—understood that this report was an ugly piece of junk and had no desire to be associated with it in any way. This probably wasn’t about appeasing Trump or Israel, but about a sense of professionalism and due caution asserting themselves.
What the Grey Lady’s readers won’t know due to the horrible framing is that what we have here is actually a good news story about the UN: a number of people in the organization have wised up to Richard Falk and want nothing to do with him. Instances of integrity and objectivity at the UN aren’t so common that they should be passed over in silence; the Times’ readers deserve to know that the long process of reform at the UN actually shows some occasional signs of being successful.
Ambassador Nikki Haley Blasted A U.N. Report That Accused Israel Of Being Guilty Of Apartheid

Beyond 'apartheid'--U.N. commission pushes legal and propaganda offensive against Israel
A just-published United Nations report that claims to find Israel guilty of the “crime of apartheid,” is only one element of a broader legal and propaganda offensive being pushed by an obscure U.N. regional commission to stigmatize America’s close ally and build support for the Palestinian cause, according to documents examined by Fox News.
The offensive has been gestating for at least two years within the U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), whose entire membership are Arab states, and is timed to this year’s 50th anniversary of the 1967 war between Arab states and Israel, which resulted in Israel’s control of the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
At least one additional report commissioned by ESCWA, attempting to create an “innovative” and “scientific” methodology for estimated the cost of Israel’s 50-year control of the territories, is still in the works, with the aim of demanding billions in reparations for Palestinians.
A third aspect of the strategy is an elaborate proposed propaganda campaign against the Israeli occupation, making use of U.N. institutions and a variety of diplomatic and media channels, to create a new , sympathetic “brand” for Palestinians as victims “that would cause a snowball effect, thus altering public opinion globally in record time,” as an ESCWA background paper puts it.
All three elements, including the now-notorious apartheid report, were given a thorough airing at the biennial high level meeting of ESCWA’s 18 members, one of them being the State of Palestine, held in Doha from December 13 to 15, 2016.
UN chief orders report accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’ pulled from web
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requested the removal of a report accusing Israel of apartheid from the website of the UN body that published it, Reuters reported Friday, citing an unnamed official in the international body.
Guterres had previously distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which is comprised of 18 Arab countries.
The report was still available online Friday morning US-time, but was later removed.
The United States on Wednesday had demanded that the report be withdrawn altogether.
“The United States is outraged by the report,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement. “The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”
Based in Beirut, ESCWA lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.
“That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising,” said Haley.
UN "Human Rights" Council Permits and Advertises NGO Event Reeking of Antisemitism
The session was entitled: "Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territory" and was sponsored by UN-accredited NGOs Meezan Association for Human Rights, the International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination(EAFORD), International-Lawyers.Org (all accredited with special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council), and by the Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ), which is not UN-accredited.
Such meetings use UN facilities that are deliberately in close physical proximity to the Council and its attendees from around the world. In addition, the UN distributes information about these NGO meetings in what is called a "Bulletin of Informal Meetings."
Here is just some of what was said at today's session:
Dr. Ahamad Amara, Legal Advisor, Meezan Organization for Human Rights:
"Israel has been working since 1948, and the Zionist movement before 1948, in what is a settler colonial project to settle in Palestine, to establish a Jewish home in the state of Palestine. This colonial project has come at the expense of the Palestinians, as we can notice in the last century. Israel's policies we can sum it up under a project of Judaization, the Judaization of Palestine, Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian territory], comes with settlements, but it aims to reconstruct the geography of Palestine. It comes with the reconstruction of the space and history and geography and heritage of Palestine. Together with this elimination and erasure of what is Palestinian, it has to be replaced with a Jewish presence, with a Jewish history, with a Jewish heritage, which it might have existed indeed, but it is being exaggerated and replacing the Palestinian, and it is being exploited, and here is the main problem, for political aspirations and ambitions that come at the expense of the Palestinians. Settlements are only one part of this, one expression of the policy of Judaization and the settler colonial project."
Palestinian leaders pan UN for scrapping Israel ‘apartheid’ report
Palestinian leaders on Saturday condemned the United Nations for scrapping an agency’s report that charged Israel is an “apartheid regime” guilty of “racial domination” over the Palestinians.
Published last week by the Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the report drew swift and vociferous criticism from US and Israeli officials, and led to the resignation of the agency’s director after the UN secretary-general ordered it removed from UN websites.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly called commission chair Rima Khalaf to congratulate her for resigning in protest at the UN’s rejection of her report, and to promise her the PA’s highest honors.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi accused UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of giving in to politically motivated intimidation in rejecting the report.
“Instead of succumbing to political blackmail or allowing itself to be censured or intimidated by external parties, the UN should condemn the acts described in the report and hold Israel responsible,” Ashrawi said, according to the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa.
She praised the report as a “step in the right direction” which highlighted “the true reality on the ground which is one of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and military occupation.” She also demanded Guterres “undertake serious and concrete measures to hold Israel accountable for its persistent violations of international law and human rights.”
Bethlehem's Christians ethnically cleansed by PA

Alan Dershowitz: A Supporter of Israel Must Have a "Bias" on Trump Travel Ban: The Newest Bigotry!
A recent panel discussion regarding the Trump travel ban was infected by the bigotry of one of the participants. The host, Don Lemon, called on former prosecutor, John Flannery, to express his views on the decision of a federal judge to stay the order. This was Flannery's response:
"...Here's Trump saying that we have to write rules. What have they been doing? They've been sitting on their hands doing nothing this entire time. And our dear colleague, Alan Dershowitz, I think, hopes that this may secure Israel and thinks that this is a bogus argument..."
I asked him what he was talking about, since in my dozens of TV appearances discussing the travel ban, I have never once mentioned Israel, and certainly never made the argument that the ban – which I oppose as a matter of policy – would "secure Israel."
He replied: "I think that's what you believe."
I shot back: "I never said a word about Israel. You know when you focus everything I say on Israel it really raises questions about your own bigotry and bias."
I then asked him directly "what does this have to do with Israel? you have to bring in Israel to attack me and criticize me? Is it because I'm Jewish? You know your bigotry is showing?"
He then said it has "everything" to do with Israel. He insisted that Israel is the "reason you're taking the position you are. Because of your own bias."
Grave Matter
What, specifically, set off all these alarm bells? There were two recent trends.
First, scores of bomb threats were called into Jewish institutions in February and March, especially Jewish community centers. Police believe some of the JCC threats were made by a disgraced left-wing journalist, Juan Thompson, trying to frame his ex-girlfriend. From the beginning, investigators suspected many if not most were made by one person using an autodialing program, perhaps from overseas, which then triggered inevitable copycat hoaxes.
But by the time cops had arrested Thompson, a narrative had formed: It was all Donald Trump’s fault. “The horrible, hateful rhetoric that was used in this election by candidate Trump and by a lot of his supporters directly connects to an increase since the election in anti-Semitic incidents, anti-Muslim incidents, and anti-LGBT incidents,” snapped New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in February. Senator Bernie Sanders, the runner-up to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, went before the left-wing lobby J Street and mournfully recounted that “in the last several months, since Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race, there has been a significant outbreak of anti-Semitism here in our country.”
The increasingly partisan Anti-Defamation League got in on the act. ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt filed a furious piece for the Washington Post on February 17: “Immediately after the election, we saw white supremacists celebrating and convening right around the corner from the White House, raising their arms in Hitler salutes. Barely a week after Trump’s victory, the FBI issued an annual report that noted that there were more hate crimes against Jews in 2015. . . . In the months since then, the Jewish community has been victimized by a surge of hate crimes, including waves of bomb threats against Jewish community centers, a torrent of verbal abuse and physical graffiti directed against Jews and relentless attacks on Jewish journalists and Jewish public figures on social media.”
Despite the fear engendered by these outrageous acts, they were hoaxes. It was the second recent trend that really mattered: Vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. There have been at least three incidents, with a fourth that was blamed initially by investigators on weather and neglect.
The desecration of Jewish burial ground is not a new phenomenon, which is why its recurrence is so striking and sobering. It is the last recourse of those who, disappointed in the Nazis’ inability to wipe out the Jews, turn to the next best thing: the destruction of Jewish memory.
Abbas said invited to White House mid-April
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will travel to Washington mid-April to meet with US President Donald Trump, Palestinian media reported Saturday.
There was no immediate confirmation of the report from the White House.
The report of Abbas heading to Washington came just after Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt visited Israel and the West Bank.
Trump spoke to Abbas for the first time over the phone last week and invited the Palestinian leader to the White House in the near future.
“President Trump has extended an official invitation to President Abbas to visit the White House soon to discuss ways to resume the political process, stressing his commitment to a peace process that will lead to a real peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said at the time.
Abbas was scheduled to visit Cairo on Sunday at the invitation of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Army Radio reported. The two were expected to discuss Trump’s initiative to reenergize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Phoenix billboard shows Trump next to swastikas, nuclear explosions
An artist/activist concerned than the US is moving towards "dictatorship" has created a roadside billboard in Phoenix, Arizona, depicting US President Donald Trump surrounded by Nazi swastikas and nuclear mushroom clouds that look like clowns.
Los Angeles artist Karen Fiorito said she made the billboard because she felt the country was moving towards "dictatorship."
Along Phoenix's Grande Avenue, the billboard was getting lots of attention from passersby, including one man who called it the "new world order".
The local NBC news affiliate said Fiorito had made a similar billboard in 2004 with former President George W.Bush and other top US officials.
'Known radical Muslim' dead after seizing soldier's gun at Paris airport
Security forces shot dead a man who seized a soldier's gun at Paris Orly airport in France on Saturday soon after the same man shot and wounded a police officer during a routine police check, the interior minister said.
The man was known to police and intelligence services, Interior Minister Bruno le Roux told reporters. A police source described him as a radicalized Muslim but did not identify him by name.
The anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation.
The busy Orly airport south of Paris was evacuated and security forces swept the area for bombs to make sure the dead man was not wearing an explosive belt, but nothing was found, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told Reuters.
"The man succeeded in seizing the weapon of a soldier. He was quickly neutralized by the security forces," Brandet said.
Noone else was injured at the airport.
Flights were suspended from both terminals of the airport and some flights were diverted to Charles de Gaulle airport north of the capital, airport operator ADP said.
Earlier, a police officer was shot and wounded by the same man during a routine traffic check in Stains, north of Paris.
Benjamin Netanyahu Syria strikes were to block transfer of weapons to Hezbollah
In a rare statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday acknowledged Israeli airstrikes in Syria, saying that they were conducted to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.
"Our policy is very consistent," Netanyahu said. "When we detect attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, and we have the intelligence and feasibility to carry out an operation, we will work to prevent it."
Netanyahu’s comments came after the IDF also made a rare confirmation of an Israeli airstrike in Syria, releasing a statement on Friday morning saying that that “several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria during the operation. One of the missiles was intercepted by the air defense systems of the IDF.”
According to the army, the jets were targeted with Syrian anti-aircraft missiles, of which one was intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system, heard as far away as Jerusalem, and two others landed in Israel but caused no damage or injuries. As a result of that, a rocket alert siren was heard in Aravot HaYarden Regional Council in Israel's Jordan Valley, the statement added.
Syrian media reported that four IAF jets took part in the raid, which occurred in the early hours of Friday morning, and claimed to have succeeded in shooting down an Israeli plane and hitting a second one as they were carrying out strikes near the city of Palmyra.
Israeli Military Analyst: Firing of Missiles at IAF Planes Is Indication of Syrian President Assad’s Bolstered Confidence Thanks to Russian Backing
The firing of S-200 missiles at Israeli Air Force planes on Thursday night was an indication of the bolstered confidence Syrian President Bashar Assad is feeling thanks to Russia’s backing of his regime, a veteran military analyst for Israel’s Channel 2 said on Friday.
One of the Syrian missiles was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow aerial defense system — the Arrow’s first-ever operational interception — and this is what differentiated last night’s events from previous reported IAF operations in Syria targeting Hezbollah-bound advanced weaponry shipments, Roni Daniel wrote.
While in the past the Israeli military declined to comment on such reported activities, on Friday it acknowledged its planes “struck several targets in Syria and were fired upon by anti-aircraft missiles.”
A policy of ambiguity, Daniel noted, suited both Israel and the Assad regime in recent years, as neither were seeking escalation.
Russia summons Israeli envoy, demands clarifications on Syria strike
Russia summoned the Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Gary Koren to provide clarifications Friday, less than 24 hours after Israel struck targets in Syria, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement explaining the reasoning behind the operation.
Moscow is heavily involved in Syria and strongly supports the regime of President Bashar Assad. Assad’s forces fired missiles at the Israeli jets overnight after the latter struck what Jerusalem said was a weapons convoy destined for the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.
Israel’s Channel 2 news reported Saturday night that Moscow was particularly concerned because the Israeli strike was close to areas where Russian troops are deployed.
Netanyahu said Israel would continue to target weapon convoys.
“Our policy is very consistent,” he stated in a Hebrew language video released to the press. “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah — when we have the intel and the operational capability — we act to prevent it. That’s how we’ve acted and how we will continue to act…and everyone needs to take this into account. Everyone.”
After Syria airstrike, Hezbollah says Israel fears Islamic State defeat
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday criticized Israel’s airstrike in Syria early Friday morning, saying the Jewish state uses “all kinds of excuses” to justify its military operations.
The Lebanese Shiite leader was referring to the airstrike which Jerusalem said targeted a weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah. Syrian military forces fired missiles at the Israeli jets that carried out the strikes. One was reportedly intercepted by an Israeli Arrow missile battery.
Nasrallah said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “went to marry [Russian President Vladimir] Putin” during his recent trip to Moscow out of fear that the Islamic State would be defeated.
Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on March 9, where they discussed the situation in Syria.
“If the Islamic State loses, what will you do with Iran in Syria?” the Shiite militia leader asked.
He called on Syrian rebel groups to stop fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad because “it serves Israel and the United States.”
2 rockets fired from Gaza, prompting IDF retaliatory strikes
Rocket sirens broke the Sabbath calm and sent residents throughout the Gaza periphery scrambling Saturday morning, as two projectiles were launched from the Strip.
One rocket exploded near the city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza, causing no casualties or damage. The second apparently fell inside Palestinian territory.
The Israel Defense Forces responded with tank fire and air strikes at several Hamas targets in the Strip. There were no reports of casualties.
Early Thursday, Israeli Air Force jets struck two Hamas installations in the north of Gaza in response to rocket fire from the territory at Israeli communities. In that incident a rocket landed in an empty field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council near Netivot. The rocket exploded on impact. No one was hurt and no damage was reported from the explosion.
Report: Palestinian youth killed in clash with Israeli troops
Israeli soldiers in the West Bank allegedly opened fire at Palestinian protesters throwing projectiles at them on Friday, killing a 16-year-old, the Palestinian health ministry said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said Palestinians had been throwing firebombs at vehicles traveling near the city of Hebron and that Israeli soldiers had been in immediate danger and fired at a suspect.
The spokeswoman said the military were checking reports the youth had died.
At least 239 Palestinians have been killed in Israel and the Palestinian Territories in a period of sporadic violence that began in October 2015 but has tapered off in recent months.
Israel says at least 159 were Palestinians who launched stabbing, shooting or ramming attacks on Israelis before being killed by Israeli security forces, while others died during clashes and protests.
Two American tourists and 37 Israelis have been killed in such incidents since October 2015.

Iraqi Cleric: The Iraqi Army Will Annihilate the Jews in the Battle of Armageddon
Iraqi cleric Sheikh Ahmad Al-Kubeisi said that the Jews were "the driving force" behind everything that has happened to Iraq. He said the there is an "historical enmity" between Iraq and the Jews and that in the battle of Armageddon, "the Iraqi army will annihilate the Jews, not leaving a single Jew in the world." The interview aired on the Iraqi Al-Fallujah TV channel on February 3.

Report: Hezbollah financier arrested in Morocco following US request
An alleged financier of the terrorist group Hezbollah was arrested in Morocco Thursday at the behest of US authorities, according to South African online publication News 24.
Lebanese businessman Kassim Tajeddine was reportedly detained in Casablanca on Sunday while on his way from Guinea to Beirut, his lawyer said in a brief statement.
“We now know there is an extradition order from the US authorities,” the lawyer added.
According to News 24, US Treasury officials believe Tajeddine is “an important financial contributor to Hezbollah," being listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist since 2009.
The US Treasury Department claims that Tajeddine, through a multinational business venture, used a money laundering scheme to funnel cash to the Shi'te militant organization.
Hezbollah, which remains a designated terrorist organization in the US, has representation in Lebanon's parliament and Cabinet.
Inside the Ring: Iran Behind Yemeni Rebels’ Explosive Boats
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels working to take power in Yemen are using a new weapon that is raising fears of seaborne attacks on both military and commercial shipping in the region.
The weapon is an Iranian-designed remotely piloted small boat filled with explosives, a defense official told Inside the Ring.
The exact number of the explosive drone boats is not known, but the rebels are believed to have enough to threaten ships that pass through the strategic sea lanes off the Yemeni coast. The Navy has intelligence photos of the deadly boats but declined a request to release them. The boats were first detected after one was used in an attack Jan. 30 on a Saudi frigate in the Red Sea.
Turkish daily depicts Merkel as ‘Frau Hitler’ on front page
A Turkish pro-government newspaper on Friday depicted Chancellor Angela Merkel on its front page in Nazi uniform with a Hitler-style mustache, labeling the German leader “Mrs. Hitler” amid a bitter war of words between Ankara and Berlin.
Right-wing tabloid-style daily Gunes (“Sun”) printed the picture along with the words in German: “#Frau Hitler” and called her an “ugly aunt.”
The mocked-up image took up most of the front page of the daily, with a Nazi swastika on Merkel’s “uniform” and another swastika next to her head while she is shown holding a gun.
Turkey and Europe are locked in a bitter spat after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from holding rallies to campaign for a “yes” vote in next month’s referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.
Erdogan has repeatedly accused Germany and the Netherlands of acting like “Nazis,” and claimed Merkel is “supporting terrorists.”
IsraellyCool: WATCH: Megan Phelps-Roper On Why She Left The Westboro Baptist Church
The Westboro Baptist Church, founded by Fred Phelps, is known for its particularly unhinged level of hatred for not only Jews and Israel (of course), but also LGBT people, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, American soldiers and politicians. They are pretty much equal opportunity haters. You can see them in action in previous posts here and here.
Phelp’s own granddaughter Megan Phelps-Roper underwent an amazing transformation, going from being a prominent Church member:
Watch her TED talk about why she left the Church.
Anyway, watch the video. It is 15 minutes well spent.

Croatia Jews to snub WWII death commemoration — again
Croatian Jews said Friday they would boycott for the second consecutive year a commemoration for victims of the country’s most notorious World War II camp, blaming authorities for failing to react to a pro-Nazi ideology revival.
Ognjen Kraus, who heads an umbrella association of Jewish groups, said they would “not attend” the official ceremony in Jasenovac on April 22 due to the ongoing trivialization of the role of the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime and its symbols.
“Nothing was done (about it) in the past year,” he told N1 television. “We cannot and will not ever reconcile with such politics.”
The Ustasha persecuted and killed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians, all of whom boycotted last year’s commemoration for Jasenovac victims over a resurgence in pro-Ustasha sympathies.
In January, the Jewish community also snubbed the official ceremony for International Holocaust Remembrance Day for the same reasons.
Norwegian left-wing party split on proposal to ban circumcision
A proposal to support a ban on ritual circumcision and label it child abuse is splitting the leadership of a liberal party in Norway that supports outreach to Muslim immigrants.
Socialist Left secretary Kari Elisabeth Kaski will push for language supporting the ban in the party’s official platform during a general assembly meeting this weekend, the Klasse Kampen far-left news site reported Thursday.
The plank would propose 15 years as the minimum age for non-medical circumcision of boys, pending their consent. Jews typically have boys circumcised at 8 days old in a ritual called brit milah. The Muslim variant typically occurs later in life but before the age of 13.
Party leaders Audun Lysbakken and Snorre Valen oppose the plan.
“For Norwegian Jews, such a ban would be difficult to deal with,” Lysbakken said. “From the minority’s perspective, this proposal therefore is deeply troubling and I hope those promoting it will reconsider.”
Israeli water-conservation device wins another prize
Jerusalem-based BwareIT picked up another trophy for BrighTap, its smart water meter sensor that monitors water temperature and consumption. The product won the innovation award at the UK Water Efficiency Product Awards 2017 at the House of Lords in London on March 7, 2017.
The awards are sponsored by Waterwise, an independent, nonprofit group promoting water efficiency in the UK and Europe.
BrighTap, an Internet of Things (IoT) meter, attaches to any standard water tap, pipe or hose to display water consumption and temperature in real time. It also stores that information for tracking through a monitoring system. The device is powered by the water that runs through it.
BwareIT was the only Israeli company in the running for the awards, which are sponsored by Waterwise, an independent nonprofit group promoting water efficiency in cooperation with water authorities in the UK and Europe.
Hip-Hope cushions falls to prevent fractures in elderly
When his elderly mother fell and broke a hip for the second time, former Israeli Air Force pilot and industrial and management engineer Amatsia Raanan searched for a product to prevent this most common serious injury in older people.
“Through her suffering I learned about the epidemic of hip fractures,” Raanan tells ISRAEL21c.
Each year, nearly 3 million seniors worldwide are hospitalized due to hip fractures. Many of them experience a drastic deterioration in quality of life. And the direct annual cost of treating hip fractures exceeds $15 billion in the US healthcare system alone.
Rather than focus on better ways to treat the broken bone, Raanan decided to leverage cutting-edge technology to protect the pelvis upon impact and avoid injury in the first place. He and three cofounders developed Hip-Hope, a smart wearable device designed as a belt.
Once Hip-Hope’s multi-sensor detection system senses an impending collision with a ground surface, two large airbags are deployed instantly from each side of the belt to cushion the hips, and a connected smartphone app sends an automatic alert message to predetermined recipients.
The 1-kilo (2.2-pound) device even has a built-in emergency call button that the user can activate in any situation of distress.
Mobileye An entry – not an exit
The Intel-Mobileye collaboration is now poised to go head-to-head with other giants aiming to dominate the autonomous driving world, such as Google, Apple and rival chipmakers NVIDIA and Qualcomm – the latter of which announced $47b. plans to acquire semiconductor firm NXP in October. Not to be taken lightly, the $15b. deal is actually Intel’s second-largest acquisition ever, a point that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich emphasized at a press conference held with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.
“We think of ourselves as an Israeli company as much as a US company,” Krzanich said that evening.
With Intel’s autonomous driving operations about to be headquartered in Israel, under Mobileye’s Prof. Amnon Shashua, the country will have an opportunity “to lead how these autonomous vehicles go out on their own, interact with cities, interact with government agencies and really set the standards for how this gets implemented into the world,” Krzanich said.
“[Shashua] will lead Intel’s overall autonomous vehicle efforts, across the whole company, not just here in Israel,” he added. “We will be folding in operations in the US underneath the operations here.”
All in all, the transaction is expected to bring Israel about $1b. in tax revenues and add about 3,000 jobs for Israelis, according to Economy Minister Eli Cohen.
In order to make an impact in the global automotive sector, companies need to be large enough to be viewed as a credible partner in such an enormous industry, with the capability to integrate software and hardware technologies, according to Gomes-Casseres.
“Mobileye and Intel both have a piece of that puzzle,” said Gomes-Casseres, who is also the director of the Asper Center for Global Entrepreneurship at Brandeis. “Putting them together is a very reasonable approach.”
Olympic judo medalist runs marathon to benefit the disabled
Millions of shekels will be raised for charity at the 2017 Jerusalem Marathon on Friday. Among the many organizations which will benefit is Shalva, the Israel Association for Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.
Team Shalva will be led by Olympic medalist, Ori Sasson and by Yehuda Yitzchak HaYisraeli, the soldier who was critically wounded in an effort to save kidnapped Hadar Goldin OB”M during the 2014 Protective Edge military operation in Gaza. Hydrotherapy at Shalva has boosted HaYisraeli’s rehabilitation of body and soul in his complex recovery. Now he is giving back to Shalva by joining Team Shalva.
Nearly 1,000 additional runners will be joining Sasson and HaYisraeli as part of Team Shalva, including Shalva’s children with disabilities, volunteers, soldiers, as well as 400 students and groups arriving from abroad. Together they raised over $1,000,000 to benefit Shalva.
This is not the first time Sasson has chosen to give money to Shalva. Sasson, who will run with his brother Alon, sold his judo suit from Rio for $100,000 to benefit Shalva’s children and is also launching a judo class for children with disabilities at the Shalva National Center, where he regularly volunteers.
Jessica Chastain on playing a Holocaust heroine in ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’
Still, Heck had many of their best (and rarest) remaining species transferred to Berlin for breeding purposes, leaving the zoo relatively empty. It was a decision the Zabinskis took full advantage of — Jan (played by Johan Heldenbergh) used the empty cages to store arms for the resistance and eventually went off to fight with the partisans himself. They also hid a close personal friend, sculptress Magdalena Gross (Efrat Dor, an Israeli actress).
And then they decided to do more. They convinced Heck to let them raise pigs on the grounds, ostensibly to feed the troops. Also, they promised to gather the slop accumulating in the nearby Warsaw ghetto to feed the animals. To Heck, it seemed like a win-win — but, in fact, the Zabinskis and other members of the resistance smuggled families into the zoo by putting them in barrels and covering them with the garbage intended for the pigs. Then they were hidden in empty cages and in a network of tunnels.
Nazi troops were a constant presence — a sneeze or a child’s cry at the wrong moment could lead to tragedy. In fact, there were several occasions when it seemed the jig was up, all of which heightens the tension in a taut, well-constructed film that follows the Zabinskis from prewar good times through the conflict and its ever-present danger and, ultimately, to the couple’s poignant reunion at the war’s end.
Thanks to the Zabinskis’ heroism, some 300 were hidden and ultimately transferred by the resistance to safety.

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