Thursday, December 21, 2017

From Ian:

UN defies Trump, rejects US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital by 128-9
Non-binding General Assembly motion brands US president's decision on holy city 'null and void'; US envoy Haley notes '65 countries refused to condemn the United States'
The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday defied warnings from the United States and overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and calling on countries not to move their diplomatic missions to the city.

A total of 128 countries voted in favor of the text, defying the threats — that were forcefully reiterated in an address before the vote by US envoy Nikki Haley — to cut aid to countries that opposed the motion.

Nine countries — the US, Israel, Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Honduras — voted against the resolution.

There were 35 abstentions, including a number of countries that had been widely expected to support the move, such as Colombia, Mexico, Malawi and Rwanda. A further 21 countries did not vote at all.

By abstaining, Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Romania and the Czech Republic broke European Union consensus on the vote. The EU had previously vehemently rejected any attempt to change Jerusalem’s status in the absence of a final peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

Haley tweeted after the vote that “65 countries refused to condemn the United States” — totaling the no votes, the abstentions and the no-shows.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, in a video, that “Israel completely rejects this preposterous resolution. Jerusalem is our capital — always was, always will be.” However, he added, “I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theater of the absurd.” He thanked US President Donald Trump and Haley for their “stalwart defense” of Israel and the truth.

Full text of Nikki Haley’s speech to UN General Assembly on Jerusalem

Hillel Neuer: The 10 most insane UN anti-Israel actions of 2017
5. Dubravka Simonovic, the U.N. expert on violence against women, visited Israel and the territories and concluded: When Palestinian men beat their wives, it’s Israel’s fault.

UN Watch’s executive director took the floor to challenge the U.N. investigator’s report: “Why did you fail to mention that official Palestinian TV regularly broadcasts Islamic preachers who tell the people how to beat their wives?”

In reaction, the Egyptian chair of the meeting broke with parliamentary protocol: “I would like to say thank you, but I can’t,” said Ambassador Amr Ramadan. “Because I think that you need to respect this council more.”

4. In its ritual annual scapegoating of the Jewish state, the UN General Assembly adopted 20 one-sided resolutions against Israel—and only 6 resolutions on the rest of the world combined. Tomorrow, at an emergency meeting called by the Arab and Islamic states to condemn the United States over its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a 21st resolution will be adopted criticizing the Jewish state.

3. UNESCO negated its mandate to protect world heritage by adopting a resolution recognizing Hebron—second holiest city in Judaism because of the Tomb of the Patriarchs—as a Palestinian world heritage site.

UN Watch revealed that UNESCO had rejected its own experts’ advice, who opposed the Palestinian nomination on account of failing to properly recognize Hebron’s Jewish and Christian heritage.

2. UNRWA launched a global campaign showing the picture of an 11-year-old girl, “Aya from Gaza,” in a bombed-out building—portraying Israel as a cruel oppressor of Palestinian children—but UN Watch exposed it as a fraud: the photo was actually from Syria. The story went viral online. UNRWA suffered massive embarrassment, and was forced to remove the photo worldwide.

1. The office of U.N. human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein spent the past year preparing to inflame the anti-Israel boycott campaign by drawing up a blacklist of companies that do business in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and other Jewish communities over the 1949 armistice line. The report is due to be submitted this month, and presented before the council in March. UN Watch will take the lead in countering the blacklist, what Nikki Haley this week called the “ugly creation” of the UNHRC.

Bethany Mandel: Is The Liberal Media Giving Linda Sarsour A Pass On A Sexual Assault Cover-Up?
Earlier this week, the Daily Caller published a piece alleging that Women’s March founder and Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour covered up sexual harassment during her time as executive director of the Arab American Association. A woman named Asmi Fathelbab accused Sarsour of ignoring complaints against a man named Majed Seif who she claimed would regularly rub his erection against her.

Sarsour is a well known bugbear of the conservative media, and for good reason. Breitbart has called Sarsour a “fake feminist”, while Fox News portrayed Sarsour as a symptom of worsening anti-Semitism in America. Not to be outdone, the National Review called Sarsour “a radical apologist for terrorism and Israel’s Arutz Sheva prefers to call her “a crybaby terrorist”.

I, too, have called her out for things I thought were moral failings.

Naturally, conservatives were thrilled at what they saw as the beginning of Sarsour’s downfall. Mike Cernovich was especially tickled. “It was a woman, not the Daily Caller, who accused Sarsour of covering up sexual harassment,” he tweeted.

But rather than blossoming into a full-throttled media attack against a person in the #MeToo era who was accused of covering up alleged sexual assault, the story just sort of died down and went away.

As Fathelbab, the woman accusing Sarsour, put it when she reached out to me, left-wing outlets “wouldn’t come near it with a ten foot pole.”

“It feels like everyone is saying ‘believe all women, except this one’,” she told me.

Read more:
Eli Lake: Obama's Alternative Facts on the Iran Nuclear Deal
Obama officials reached for comment disputed elements of Meyer's reporting. Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Obama, pointed to some European arrests of Hezbollah operatives after the implementation of the nuclear deal. But Meyer says officials with Operation Cassandra noted that these suspects were nabbed after the Obama Justice Department shot down efforts to prosecute these operatives in U.S. courts.

A particularly cringe-inducing response came from a senior national security official who suggested, anonymously, to Meyer that agents in a DEA operation might unwittingly botch a CIA or Israeli intelligence operation within Hezbollah.

That's doubtful, at least for the CIA. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2011 the agency's Beirut station, which tracked Hezbollah, was put out of business after most of its sources were arrested that year. It's highly unlikely the agency would have been able to build up its source network in a few short years. What's more, the CIA director for Obama's second term, John Brennan, had openly discussed his view of trying to separate Hezbollah hardliners from Hezbollah moderates in Washington policy forums. The decision to go soft on Hezbollah looks entirely deliberate.

So was all of this worth it? We know what the West got out of the nuclear deal: a temporary suspension of Iran's nuclear program and increased transparency into its stockpiles, enrichment facilities and laboratories. At the time the Obama administration told us that in exchange, the U.S. had to lift only the crippling nuclear sanctions against Iran. It turns out the price was much higher.
Former Treasury Official: Trump Administration Needs to Target Hezbollah’s Drug Smuggling
In the wake of a report earlier this week that the Obama administration ended an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking operations in the Western Hemisphere in order to secure the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, a former United States Treasury Department official outlined steps that the Trump administration could take to effectively combat Hezbollah’s narcotics empire, in an op-ed published Monday in the New York Post.

Jonathan Schanzer, formerly a terror finance analyst at the Treasure Department and currently senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote that in order to fight Hezbollah’s narcotics empire in the Western Hemisphere, President Donald Trump first needs to appoint a new chief for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who understands “the growing convergence between transnational organized crime and terrorist groups like Hezbollah.”

Once the agency has a new qualified leader, the DEA must be directed to “[fight] narco-terrorism abroad,” and supported to carry out this mission. The drug problem in the U.S. should be the jurisdiction of local law enforcement.

Once the DEA is positioned to fight Hezbollah’s drug trafficking, Schanzer argued that the Treasury Department should name Hezbollah a Transnational Criminal Organization, which would subject it to a wider range of economic sanctions.
Congress to Investigate Obama Scheme to Nix Investigation into Hezbollah Terrorists
Lawmakers are launching an investigation into Obama-era efforts to thwart a longstanding U.S. investigation into the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah, according to multiple congressional officials and insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Obama administration worked behind the scenes to thwart a decade-long Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into Hezbollah and its highly lucrative drug trade in Latin America, according to a report in Politico. These officials are believed to have run interference on the investigation in order to avoid upsetting Iran and jeopardizing the landmark nuclear accord.

Senior Obama officials in the Treasury and Justice Departments are said to have undermined the DEA's investigation at multiple junctures in order to avoid angering Hezbollah's patron Iran, which could have jeopardized the landmark nuclear agreement.

Congress is now taking steps to formally investigate the reports, which multiple sources described to the Free Beacon as part of a larger Obama administration effort to overlook Iran's global terror operations in order to cement the nuclear deal.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Oversight Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that he and other top lawmakers are examining evidence that could implicate top former Obama officials, including National Security Council official Ben Rhodes, the architect of the former administration's self-described pro-Iran "echo chamber."
Hezbollah, narco-terrorism, and the Awans
Yesterday, Scott called attention to the blockbuster story in Politico about how President Obama derailed a law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. Obama did so because he was desperate to secure a nuclear deal with Iran.

I agree with Scott that the Politico story is well worth reading in full, despite its length. The report is, as Scott says, “incredibly rich.”

I want to call attention to one small potential nugget. Part I of the story is called “A global threat emerges.” It is subtitled “How Hezbollah turned to trafficking cocaine and laundering money through used cars to finance its expansion.”

The “used cars” reference made me think of a post I wrote about the Awan scandal. This scandal, readers may recall, involves House staffers, most notably staffers of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with ties to Pakistan who are accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.
Shunned by Palestinians, Trump envoy tells Netanyahu he’s still working on peace
US President Donald Trump’s chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as part of the administration’s efforts to advance peace, the American official said.

The meeting took place as tensions with the international community and the Palestinians remained high in the wake of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Palestinians said the move disqualified the United States from its historic role as peace broker with the Israelis.

Greenblatt was accompanied by US ambassador to Israel David Friedman in what the peace negotiator called in a Tweet “a check-in as the Administration continues with its peace efforts which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Officials from Netanyahu’s office offered no further information on the meeting.

On Tuesday, Greenblatt met with the European Union’s special representative for the Middle East, Fernando Gentilini, as well as with Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of the COGAT defence ministry unit responsible for activities in the Palestinian territories, the US envoy said on Twitter.
Hamas terror cell planned to kidnap MK Glick, IDF Arabic spokesman
A Hamas terror cell arrested by the Shin Bet planned to kidnap Likud MK Yehuda Glick and IDF Arabic-language spokesman Maj. Avichay Adraee, according to the indictments filed against them on Wednesday.

The indictments against cell leader Muad Ashtiyah, 26, and Mahmoud Ramadan and Ahmed Ramadan, both 19, also revealed the three later changed their plans. To make it easier to carry out the attack, they decided to try to kidnap an IDF soldier or an Israeli settler instead.

Ashtiyah acquired weapons for the planned abduction and recruited the other two members. According to the indictment, to kidnap Glick or Adraee, "the defendant learned about them and gathered information on them using the internet."

Glick has survived an attempt on his life before being elected to Knesset over his activism work to allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

On October 30, 2014, after an event in Jerusalem, Islamic Jihad member Mutaz Hijazi shot and seriously wounded him. The terrorist was shot dead by police at his home in east Jerusalem the next day, at the end of a manhunt for him.

In addition, an animation video portraying an assassination of Glick made the rounds on Palestinian social media pages a year and a half ago.

Despite his uniform and rank, Maj. Adraee is considered one of the more well known figures in the Arab media. In an interview with Ynet a year ago, he said he had more than 1 million followers on Facebook, 160,000 followers on Twitter, tens of thousands of followers on Instagram and several million views on YouTube. Adraee has also become a source of information that many leading Arab news sites rely on.

But his popularity also carries with it criticism, and he's been threatened, had caricatures drawn of him, had imitations done of him and suffered verbal abuse.
Police: Hikers who shot Palestinian rock thrower acted in self-defense
The Israel Police believe that two fathers who fatally shot a Palestinian rock thrower while chaperoning a group of children on a bar mitzvah hike in Samaria last month acted in self-defense, and plan to recommend that the case be closed.

On Nov. 30, a group of young hikers was surrounded by a number of Palestinians, who began throwing rocks at them, forcing them to seek shelter in a cave. Three of the boys in the group sustained minor injuries in the attack.

The chaperones – parents of some of the children – started firing warning shots at the rock throwers and, when the shots went unheeded, killed one.

"The parents felt that their lives were in danger and there was a real threat to their safety and that of the children," the police summation stated.

A separate investigation into the shooting, conducted by the IDF, also found that the parents had acted in self-defense.

The police investigation probing the actions of the two fathers in question is due to conclude within a few days, and the case file will then be submitted to the Central District branch of the State Attorney's Office, which will decide whether to pursue charges.
IDF chief visits Gaza attack tunnels, amid lingering tensions
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Wednesday toured two of the recently discovered attack tunnels dug by Palestinian terrorist groups from the Gaza Strip into Israel

The visit came amid lingering tensions with the coastal enclave, following a two-week period of near-daily rocket attacks from the Strip.

During Eisenkot’s trip to the area, he met with the head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, Israel’s chief military liaison to the Palestinians, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head of the Gaza Division, Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, and the commander of the Northern (Gaza) Brigade, Col. Avi Rosenfeld, the army said.

In addition to hearing briefings from the officers and holding a “situational assessment,” Eisenkot also entered what remains of the two tunnels and inspected some of the newly developed military hardware used to locate and map them.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman declared that there would be no more attacks.

“The ‘drizzle'” — the term used for sporadic rocket attacks — “is not continuing. We’ve already had one day of total quiet,” Liberman said on Tuesday, following a meeting with the heads of mayors and regional council leaders from the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.
Two in Kosovo plead guilty to plotting attack on Israeli soccer match
Two men in Kosovo pleaded guilty Wednesday to planning attacks against Israelis during a soccer match in Albania last year.

Kenan Plakaj and Besart Peci were part of a group of 19 men detained in a series of arrests in Kosovo and neighboring Albania and Macedonia ahead of a World Cup qualifier in November 2016, which was originally due to take place in the northern town of Shkodra. Nine people were eventually charged.

The prosecutor claimed some of those arrested had made contact with Lavdrim Muhaxheri, a former Islamic State commander in Syria who has since reportedly been killed, Reuters reported.

Plakaj pleaded guilty to making explosives, after half a kilo of materiel for bomb-making was found at his home, according to the report.

Sentences for the two were not announced.

In June, four people were charged with planning to “carry out a terrorist attack against soccer players and fans from Israel who were coming to Albania for the match in November,” Kosovo’s prosecution office said in a press release at the time.
Palestinian reconciliation ‘collapsing’ over weapons dispute, Hamas leader says
Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar said on Thursday that the Palestinian reconciliation process is failing over a dispute about the future of the terror group’s weapons.

“Whoever doesn’t see that reconciliation is collapsing is blind,” said Sinwar, in a meeting with local Gaza youth and social media activists.

“Some people want reconciliation on Israeli and American terms, which means handing over weapons and the tunnel and rocket capabilities,” he added.

An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a December 1 deadline for the terror group to fully transfer power in the Gaza Strip back to the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, though that was later pushed back to December 10.
Masked operatives from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, a military wing of the Hamas terror group, ride vehicles as they commemorate the 30th anniversary of their group, in Gaza City, December 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

In Gaza, the situation has remained essentially unchanged despite the deadline, with Hamas police still patrolling the streets, while crippling electricity shortages endure.

Hamas claimed earlier in December that it had handed over control of all government ministries, but Fatah’s top negotiator later said “obstacles” remained.
Hamas Warns Gazans Not to “Like” Israel’s Arabic Facebook Page
Hamas’s internal security agency has warned Gazans not to “like” Israel’s Foreign Ministry’s Arabic Facebook page lest they fall into the sights of the “occupier,” The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

The head of the ministry’s Arabic diplomacy department, Yonatan Gonen, told the Post that warning against the Facebook page was one of a series of warnings issued by the security agency about “new ways” Israel was seeking to “bring down” Gaza’s residents and recruit agents.

The ministry’s Arabic Facebook, which was created in 2011, now has nearly 1.4 million followers across the Arab world and has had 166 million page views this year so far.

According to the foreign ministry, the call by Hamas to avoid its Arabic Facebook page is not uncommon. Frequently in the Arab world, there are calls for citizens not to visit the Israeli government’s Arabic pages, including those of the Prime Minister, the IDF and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Among the reasons people are told to avoid the pages are because they are for recruiting “collaborators,” that they corrupt young people, and that they are a “normalization trap.”

According to Gonen, the goal of the Arabic Facebook page is to show Arabs the real Israel.

“The repeated calls we hear each week to refrain from surfing our pages just underlines the power of getting messages across on social media,” Gonen told the Post. “Obviously we are not trying to recruit any agents, rather only brand and represent Israel as it really is.”
#NoWayToTreatAChild: A Cynical Campaign to Manipulate Palestinian Children
In a video that has gone viral, a young Palestinian approaches two Israeli soldiers. She hits, prods and slaps them. She is trying to provoke a reaction that will be caught on camera — and show the ugly violence of the Israeli army. The soldiers respond with professionalism and restraint, and ignore her attack.

The Palestinian in question is Ahed Tamimi, best known from a 2015 video showing her biting and hitting a soldier, as well as from regular demonstrations in Nabi Saleh. News reports have variously identified Tamimi as 16- or 17-years-old, although a number of observers on social media have pointed to documents from 2011 that would put her current age at 18.

Following the release of the video, Tamimi was arrested for her assault. Despite the ambiguity about her age, this triggered a widespread Twitter campaign calling for her release, under the hashtag #NoWayToTreatAChild.

The use of this hashtag is not accidental or random — and, like the video, it reflects the cynical manipulation of children’s rights that is emerging as a dominant theme in anti-Israel activism.

“No Way to Treat a Child,” or NWTTAC, is a campaign coordinated by Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs, many of which also promote the BDS movement against Israel. Through concerted efforts to falsely accuse the IDF of violating the rights of Palestinian minors, they seek international sanctions against the Jewish state.

The leading group behind the campaign is a Palestinian NGO, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P). The agency, reportedly tied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group, has joined with US-based pro-BDS organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace to lobby the US government to “use all available means to pressure relevant Israeli authorities to end the detention and abuse of Palestinian children.”
German Media Report Highlights Hezbollah Indoctrination of Lebanese Children
The vehement anti-Israel and anti-US indoctrination Lebanese Shia children receive in their early years was highlighted in a Deutsche Welle article published this week.

The German media outlet quoted Fatima — who brought her six-year-old son Ali to a recent Hezbollah rally in the Dahieh neighborhood of southern Beirut — as saying, “This is the right age to learn about how the Jews took our land…America helps Israel regularly and imposes war on us and now the Satan wants to give our mosque to the Jews” — a reference to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Ali himself said, “Jews and Americans are my enemy.”

In a speech delivered by video at the rally, according to the Deutsche Welle report, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah — whose group has been heavily engaged in the Syrian Civil War in recent years as an ally of the Assad regime — declared, “After victory in Syria and Iraq, we will focus on Israel.”

The report also described Hezbollah-run summer camps at which kids are put through fitness exercises, fighting training and religion lessons.

“We all want to fight for Hezbollah one day, inshallah,” 14-year-old Hezbollah boy scout Abbas was quoted as saying. “I want to crush Israel under my feet.”
Human Rights Watch Defends Former Argentine Government Against Charge of Collusion With Iran in AMIA Bombing Cover-Up
The influential NGO Human Rights Watch rose to the defense of the previous Argentine government on Wednesday — two weeks after a federal judge indicted former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and several of her senior colleagues for allegedly colluding with Iran in the cover-up of Tehran’s responsibility for the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

In a statement, HRW claimed that there was “no evidence that would seem to substantiate those charges.”

“Relatives of victims of the AMIA terrorist attack deserve justice for this heinous crime,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at HRW. “But, instead of promoting accountability, this far-fetched indictment further tarnishes the credibility of the Argentine judiciary over the AMIA attack investigations.”

HRW’s statement was quickly followed by the publication in The New York Times of an opinion piece by one of the indicted officials, former Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who favorably cited the organization in asserting his innocence of the collusion charges leveled by federal judge Claudio Bonadio.

Neither the HRW statement nor Timerman’s piece disclosed the human rights organization’s institutional connection with the ex-foreign minister. Timerman was a founder and former leader of the NGO Americas Watch — later absorbed into Human Rights Watch.

Describing himself in his Times piece as a “political prisoner,” Timerman adamantly denied that he had committed treason in negotiating a 2013 pact with Iran that would have established a joint “truth commission” to investigate the AMIA bombing — in which 85 people died and hundreds more were injured after a truck packed with explosives smashed into the organization’s headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires.

The pact with Iran was subsequently voided in 2015.
AG to assist in defamation suit against ‘Jenin, Jenin’ director
In a rare move, the attorney general on Wednesday announced he would be presenting a civil libel suit against an Arab Israeli filmmaker on behalf of an army reservist officer who claims he was defamed in the director’s controversial 2002 documentary “Jenin, Jenin.”

Lt. Col. (res.) Nissim Magnagi filed his suit against the filmmaker, Mohammad Bakri, in November 2016, demanding NIS 2.6 million ($745,000) in damages and an end to the documentary being screened. In the interim year, the case has been argued back and forth in a series of briefs by the two men’s attorneys.

As the case appears to be coming to a head, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit became involved, an uncommon move as the government’s top lawyer generally handles criminal, not civil, cases.

“The attorney general decided to take part and support the suit by Lt. Col. (res.) Magnagi, in light of the public interest that exists in the case,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

This is the second defamation suit to be brought against Mohammad Bakri for his film “Jenin, Jenin,” which falsely alleged the Israel Defense Forces massacred civilians in the West Bank city during the Operation Defensive Shield military campaign at the height of the Second Intifada.
BBC News gives a sentimental account of the first Intifada
December 9th marked thirty years since the beginning of the first Intifada and on December 20th the BBC News website published a filmed report on that topic made by Eloise Dicker and Nida Ibrahim and headlined “‘It was an uprising from the heart’“.

“This picture of a woman throwing a stone at Israeli forces in Beit Sahour became iconic and the woman’s identity remained a mystery, until now.

Thirty years on, she has spoken to the BBC about the photograph.”

Whether or not that photograph can really be described as “iconic” – i.e. widely recognised – is of course debatable. BBC audiences are told that:
“This picture of a woman throwing a stone was taken almost 30 years ago but the woman’s identity was not known. The stone was aimed at Israeli forces in Beit Sahour, a village in the occupied West Bank.”

The woman – Micheline Awwad – then identifies herself in the photograph.
Awwad: “This is Micheline. It’s me. Of course it’s me.”

Viewers are then told that:
“In 1987, Palestinians began an “intifada”, or uprising, against Israeli rule. It lasted until 1993. Violent clashes led to the deaths of around 1,400 Palestinians and 271 Israelis.”

Although those statistics are credited to B’tselem, a look at the political NGO’s website shows that the total figures it gives for Palestinian casualties between December 9th 1987 and December 31st 1993 are lower by 196 than the number presented by the BBC. The subject of the nearly one thousand Palestinians killed by other Palestinians in those years did not make it into this BBC film.
HR Gets Fake News Removed from Mail Online
An otherwise decent story for the Daily Mail’s Mail Online site caught our eye. The story concerning Hezbollah’s reaction to US President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration included a separate section at the end.
Were Israeli troops really demolishing graves in a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem?

Other than photos of Israeli border police present next to some graves, the story offered no further background, context or facts.
We went looking for an explanation. Given the inflammatory nature of the story and its capacity to generate anti-Israel feeling, you’d expect Palestinian media to cover this incident.

Wouldn’t other international press cover the story?
There was nothing.
Nor was there any record of this incident in the Israeli press.

Because it was fake news.
Ex-journalist gets 5 years in prison in Jewish threats case
A former journalist from St. Louis who terrorized his ex-girlfriend and then made bomb threats in her name to Jewish groups was sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison after the ex-girlfriend told the court the case shows "domestic terrorism is rooted in violence against women."

U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel said Juan Thompson, 32, committed domestic terrorism with threats in the name of New York social worker Francesca Rossi on a dozen occasions against Jewish community centers, schools or other facilities nationwide.

The threats came early this year, when more than 150 bomb threats were reported against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 states and two Canadian provinces. Authorities blamed most on an 18-year-old Israeli-American Jewish hacker arrested in Israel in March.

The judge said Thompson created a sustained campaign against Rossi "to terrorize her and cause pain" to others.

Thompson, who pleaded guilty in June to cyber stalking and making fake bomb threats to a dozen Jewish facilities, apologized at the sentencing, conceding, "There are wounds ... that will probably never heal."

Thompson's sentence was a year longer than prosecutors had requested, but the judge said it was warranted for a man who overcame an abusive childhood to graduate from Vassar College in 2013 and then turn his intelligence, social media expertise and creativity into "weapons against others."

"His intelligence and creativity made him such a horror," the judge said.
Man arrested for anti-Semitic slurs at Israeli-owned cafe in Berlin
A man in Berlin is under investigation for incitement, slander and resisting police officers after uttering anti-Semitic slurs against an Israeli restaurant owner in a scene caught on video that drew widespread criticism.

Police say the 60-year-old suspect approached restaurant boss Yorai Feinberg outside his premises in Berlin Tuesday. In the scene filmed by a friend of Feinberg, the man said “No one will protect you. You will all land in the gas chambers.”

He also said “It’s only about money with you” and “no one wants you here,” among other things.

Feinberg hailed a passing police car. Officers took the man away, and police said he also insulted them.
Texas Imam: Judgment Day Won’t Start ‘Until Muslims Fight the Jews in Palestine’
The founder of an Islamic institute in Houston, Texas claimed that Judgment Day “will not start until Muslims fight the Jews … in Palestine,” during a sermon condemning the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month.

Sheikh Raed Saleh Al-Rousan of the Tajweed Institute suggested on Dec. 8th that Jews “killed the prophets and the messengers of Allah,” according to a video recording translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Al-Rousan cast doubt on claims that Jews “lived in Palestine for thousands of years,” alleging instead that Britain “brought Jewish [people] from different countries to live in Palestine. So do not tell me Palestine is the country of Jewish [people].”

These allegations contradict genetic and archaeological evidence linking Jewish populations to what is now modern-day Israel, where Jews have maintained a presence for centuries. Under British rule, Jewish immigration to the territory was at times limited, while Arab immigration faced no similar restrictions.

Al-Rousan — who studied in the Islamic University of Al-Madina in Saudia Arabia, and later received a master’s degree in Islamic Studies from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana — also cited a saying attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which claims that “Judgment day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews.”

“The Muslims will kill the Jews,” the imam preached in Arabic, “and the Jews will hide behind the stones and the trees, and the stones and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him, except for the Gharqad tree, which is one of their trees.”

Al-Rousan reiterated this message in English, saying, “The hour [i.e. Judgment Day] will not start until Muslims fight the Jews there, in Palestine. And they know that fact. And the Muslims will have the victory.”
Poland promises $28 million to restore Warsaw Jewish cemetery
Poland’s government pledged $28 million to restoring the Warsaw Jewish cemetery, making the preservation project one of the largest of its kind in European history.

Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski told World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer about the funding on Monday following a December 8 vote in the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, WJC wrote in a statement Monday. More than 400 lawmakers voted in favor and only four opposed, with six abstaining, TVN reported.

Singer and several others from the WJC delegation to the country this week were joined in its visit to the Jewish cemetery on Monday by Anna Chipczynska, the president of the Jewish Community of Warsaw.

The government is expected to transfer the funds to Poland’s Cultural Heritage Foundation, which will implement the restoration in cooperation with the Warsaw Jewish Community.
From smartphones to smart tanks, the IDF is raiding the civilian sector for tech
Going to war? Don’t forget your virtual reality goggles.

The Israeli army is gearing up for the future by adapting revolutionary technologies from the civilian world — from artificial intelligence to telecommunications to virtual reality.

Technology will continue to play a huge part in the battlefield of the future, said the head of the IDF’s Lotem C4i technological division, a brigadier general who can be identified only by the Hebrew initial Resh, as the division unveiled its latest innovations in a briefing with reporters last week at an army base south of Tel Aviv.

The high speed of technological changes globally requires that the IDF speed up its response time and consistently upgrade the technology it offers its soldiers, said Resh.

“We need to provide immediate solutions,” he said. But these don’t necessarily all need to come from in-house developments: The plethora of technologies being spewed out by the civilian world offers the IDF the opportunity to dip into “all of the goodies” that are out there and adapt them to the needs of the army, he said.
NATO orders Elbit infrared counter-measures system
NATO has ordered additional J-Music direct infrared counter-measure systems from Israel's Elbit Systems to protect its tanker/transport fleet.

The order for the self-protection systems is worth $46 million. The systems, together with the company's Infrared-based Passive Airborne Warning Systems, are to be delivered to NATO over a four-year period.

"The MMF [Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet] users are very pleased that the Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft are going to be equipped with Elbit Systems' J-Music DIRCM system," Col. Jan der Kinderen, chairman of the MMF Steering Group, said in a press release. "This will greatly add to the safety and operational flexibility of the total fleet."

The MMF features Airbus A330 aircraft, the company said.

Elad Aharonson, general manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR Division, added that the "follow-on contract that extends the supply of J-Music DIRCM and PAWS IR missile warning systems to NATO's MMF program, attests to Elbit Systems' technological and operational competitive advantage in addressing the intensifying threat of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles."
The 5 hottest Israeli entertainment exports of 2017
It’s been a busy year for the Israeli entertainment industry – after all, a native was the third-most searched-for actor on the globe in 2017! But the glamorous Gal Gadot isn’t the only thing that got audiences talking about Israel.

US late night comedian Conan O’Brien filmed a travel special here in September, the entire fourth season of the Amazon show Transparent was set in Israel – though filmed in LA, and Reza Aslan set an episode of his CNN show Believer here.

But plenty of the global buzz was produced right here in the Jewish state, and still got audiences around the world talking. Here are the five biggest exports of 2017:

1. Gal Gadot
There’s no two ways about it – Gal Gadot is not just the hottest Israeli export of 2017, she’s arguably the most-talked-about citizen of the Jewish state ever. The Rosh Ha’ayin native has quickly become one of the biggest names in showbiz, and an icon and role model around the world. Her portrayal of Wonder Woman in the superhero’s standalone film this summer rocketed her past her already modest fame toward legendary status. But to the delight of Israeli fans, she’s a legend who hasn’t forgotten her roots. From speaking Hebrew on Saturday Night Live to whipping out a bar of Elite milk chocolate while a guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Gadot doesn’t hide her pride in her country. And with a sequel to Wonder Woman already slated for 2019, we can rest assured that she’s a superstar who isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

2. ‘Fauda’
Who would have thought that a TV show about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would prove so popular? Turns out when you pack in action, violence, drama and of course, great writing, the audiences and the buzz will follow. The Yes original series first hit Israeli airwaves in early 2015 and got excellent reviews. But when it was picked up by Netflix in December 2016 with English subtitles, it suddenly received global attention. The show made The New York Times’ list of top shows of 2017, and Yes renewed it for a third season before the second has even aired – a rare move for Israeli TV. When Conan O’Brien was in Israel in September, he even filmed a fake scene for, as he put it, “one of my favorite shows.”
How the 1917 Battle of Jerusalem surrender flag ended up in Greenville, Ohio
Few at Israel’s commemoration in December marking the centennial of the surrender of Jerusalem to the British during World War I would know that the main portion of the surrender flag is housed at a museum in Greenville, Ohio.

Even visitors to the Garst Museum and Darke County Historical Society in this small city 40 miles northwest of Dayton are likely more aware of its exhibits about Darke County’s Annie Oakley, and the 1795 Treaty of Greenville with Native American tribes, which opened much of Ohio to European-American settlement.

But for more than 50 years, the 1917 Jerusalem surrender flag has been on exhibit as part of the permanent collection at the Garst.

A smaller portion of the surrender flag is on exhibit at the Churchill War Rooms of the Imperial War Museums in London.

“This flag represents probably the most significant and historic artifact in this museum for what it represents to world history,” said Dr. Clay Johnson, president and CEO of the Garst Museum since 2010, and the museum’s only full-time employee.

The surrender flag is part of the third major exhibit area at the Garst, which focuses on the life of Darke County native Lowell Thomas (1892-1981), the longtime news reporter and world traveler.
Smells like heaven: Israeli farm recreates Magi's gifts to Jesus
The aromatic plants bestowed on the infant Jesus are being cultivated by an Israeli entrepreneur who aims to transform the gifts of the Christmas story into therapeutic balms and incense.

Manger aside, the baby Jesus may have been swaddled in pleasant and pricey fragrances, thanks to the presents that the Christian Bible says were given to him by the Wise Men of the East.

The frankincense (pungent and sweet) and myrrh (sharp and piney) recounted in the Gospel of St. Matthew are being grown by Guy Erlich, a businessman who hopes to revive the rare plants' use for commercial ends.

And what about gold, the third gift brought by the Magi according to the New Testament story?

Some Christians believe this refers to the precious amber resin of the Balsam of Gilead, an aromatic mix resembling citrus and cinnamon that Erlich also cultivates on his farm in the Judean desert.

"I see myself as a modern Magus," he told Reuters.

"I decided to focus on plants that no one else in the world grows. Since those plants, those medical plants of the Bible were in medical use for so many years, there must be something about them and it is our duty to look for it."

Dried and crushed resins of all three plants smolder in a nearby censer, filling the air with heavenly smells of fruity freshness.
Record breaking 20% increase in Christmas pilgrims to Israel expected
Tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims are expected to arrive in the country over the Christmas holiday, capping a record-breaking year that included 3.5 million tourists, the Tourism Ministry said on Wednesday.

Noting that a 20% increase of Christian visitors is expected over Christmas compared to last year, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin expressed pride in the record numbers of annual visitors.

“Israel invites the faithful from all religions to pray, worship and visit all the holy sites in Israel in freedom and security,” he said.

“I am proud to take this opportunity to announce that this year we have broken all previous records for incoming tourism, and are set to end 2017 with a record 3.5 million tourists – half a million more than the previous record.”

Levin attributed the record growth to the ministry’s ongoing international tourism campaign.

According to the ministry’s statistics, more than half of the 2.9 million tourists in 2016 were Christian, and approximately 120,000 of the tourists who visited last December were Christian pilgrims.

The vast majority of Christian tourists visit Jerusalem, with about 40% visiting Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the ministry said. The most visited sites by Christians included the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jewish Quarter, Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, Mount of Olives, Capernaum, Church of the Annunciation, and City of David.

Anticipating a 20% increase over Christmas, the ministry said it is offering free shuttle service on buses every 30 minutes between Jerusalem and Bethlehem beginning on Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.

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