Sunday, February 25, 2018

From Ian:

Cheering Netanyahu says US embassy move will have ‘long-term implications’
The US decision to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will have “long-term implications,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, reiterating his praise of the announcement and thanking US President Donald Trump for the “historic” move planned for Israel’s 70th Independence Day anniversary in May.

“This is a great moment for the citizens of Israel and a historic moment for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told his ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “All the citizens of Israel will celebrate it together. It has long-term implications and great historic significance.”

Repeating comments he made in a Saturday night video praising the US announcement, Netanyahu thanked the Trump for the planned move, whose timing was announced Friday, following the US president’s declaration in December recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“I want to thank President Trump, on behalf of the entire government and the entire people, for both your leadership and friendship. President Trump you are a great friend to the State of Israel. We thank you,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu is expected to invite Trump to Israel in May to inaugurate the new US embassy, Hadashot TV news reported on Saturday.

The US State Department notified Congress on Friday that the Jerusalem embassy would open in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence, speeding up the process by converting a building currently housing consular services into the embassy.

The State Department confirmed the timing of the move.

Why is the U.S. speeding up its Jerusalem embassy move?
When Tillerson made his comments about 2020 and beyond, he was thinking of what it would mean to relocate an entire, permanent embassy, which is a huge production that entails having to find a site, negotiate terms, provide security, and build the building.

When it indeed appeared that this would take years, other eyes started to look into the matter, including those of Friedman, and other scenarios were evaluated, one of which was to do the move in stages.

The logic behind this was that if the decision was already made, then it should be implemented as quickly as possible. The idea was also that Trump, having made the decision against the advice of most of the world, should reap the political benefits and see it happen by at least the end of his first term.

But why wait that long? What is gained by waiting that long? If security is a concern, then the existing complex in Arnona – one of the most secure sites in Jerusalem – provides a solution. And what better time to do it then to have it coincide with the 70th Independence Day.

According to this explanation that the decision was based primarily on logistical considerations, the decision to make the move now is just the result of looking at the options and realize that it is possible to make the move much earlier – if done in stages – than originally anticipated.

Poland said to deny freezing controversial Holocaust law
Poland on Sunday reportedly denied an Israeli media claim that it would freeze its controversial new Holocaust law amid a dispute with Jerusalem, but confirmed that an official Polish government delegation would fly to Israel in the next few days to discuss the matter with an Israeli team.

Hadashot news on Saturday said that, in the wake of pressure and protests from Israel over the legislation, Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro had stated that the law will not be implemented “at this stage.”

It said a Polish delegation was due in Israel within days to instead try to hammer out an agreed text of the legislation, which has passed Poland’s parliament and been signed by its president but not implemented to date.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem called the development “an achievement” for Israel, the TV report said, following considerable discussion of the law between Warsaw and Jerusalem in recent weeks.

However, the Polish government’s spokeswoman, Joanna Kopczynska, rejected the report on Sunday and said the law would come into force as planned on March 1, Channel 10 reported.
Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro (YouTube screen capture)

“There is indeed a good chance for a meeting between a Polish team and an Israeli team to discuss the issue, but a date for that hasn’t been set,” Kopczynska said, adding that the Polish team had already been established.
The Dark Return of Polish Anti-Semitism
In the 1990s and early 2000s, post-Communist Poland sought to play a special role in promoting tolerance through Holocaust education. During this process, Poland became one of Israel’s most reliable European allies. In this climate of openness, there were no structural barriers to fresh historical inquiry. The work of one historian in particular, Jan Gross of Princeton University, became emblematic of a new school of historical research dedicated to answering the most vexing questions about Polish attitudes toward Jews. He wrote Neighbors (2001), which probed the 1941 massacre of hundreds of Jews by Poles in the village of Jedwabne, and Fear (2006), which related the events of the 1946 Kielce pogrom against Jewish survivors of the Nazis. In so doing, Gross quickly established himself as a bête noire for right-wing nationalists in Poland. So much so, in fact, that the new Holocaust legislation has been dubbed Ius Grossii—”The Gross Law”—in the expectation that Gross will be among its first targets.

Poland is not the only post-Communist state revisiting its wartime record. Similarly politicized battles over national identity and wartime collaboration have surfaced in Hungary, Latvia, Croatia, Romania, and Ukraine. These are in part products of mass disillusionment with the European Union, rising nationalist sentiment, and growing concern about Russian encroachment upon the former Warsaw Pact countries. But in Poland, the PiS government has demonstrated the extraordinary extent to which history can be politically manipulated—even in a democracy. The Polish historian Jan Grabowski, in a September 2016 paper delivered to the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, called this outcome a “state-sponsored version of history [that] seeks to undo the findings of the last few decades and to forcibly introduce a sanitized, feel-good narrative that has nothing to do with our knowledge of the past, but everything to do with national myths.”

In relation to the Holocaust, four main “national myths” currently prevail in Poland. The first myth holds that Poles were just as much the victims of the Nazis as the Jews were. To conceive of Polish history in any other way supposedly demonstrates a malicious hostility to the nation, or what Polish nationalists now call “anti-Polonism.”

The second myth holds that there was no Polish collusion with the Nazis, and that Poles experienced the Holocaust together with the Jews. But in thrall to the deceitful construction of the Holocaust as a Jewish tragedy, the outside world has supposedly chosen to believe fabricated tales of Polish collaboration.

The third myth maintains that Jews were the instigators of Soviet persecution of the Polish nation, as well as the agents of its execution. If the crimes of the Second World War are to be understood in their entirety, then, Jewish collaboration with the Soviet occupiers cannot be ignored.

The fourth myth claims that the Jews have written themselves into history as unadulterated victims purely for financial gain. It therefore follows that Israeli and Jewish objections to the IPN Act stem from a collective determination to compel Poland to pay restitution monies to the descendants of Jewish victims.
Tuvia Tenenbom: Reporter's Notebook: Catch the Pole
I used to come to Poland on a yearly basis, and I most remember my first time, when I was still a virgin Polish tourist. I was totally taken by the country, land of my forefathers, its people and its manners. Physically and mentally, the Polish people seemed to me very much like the people I knew best, the Ashkenazi Jews from the United States and Israel. They shared a similar sense of the comic, and always complained that nobody liked them.

No big surprise, you may say, since Jews have been living in Poland for about a millennium.


The first city I visited was Lodz, which was home to hundreds of thousands of Jews, when Jews still lived in Poland.

What struck me instantly was the Star of David graffiti all over. They must love Jews here, I said to myself. On Friday evening, when religious Jews welcome the Sabbath, I went to the synagogue, to be with the beloved people of Lodz.

I will never forget that evening.

When services ended, I approached one of the worshipers, an old Jew with a long beard, and I shared with him how impressed I was with the love I had seen pouring out of the streets of Lodz for the Jews. He stared at me, as one would stare at the most irritating idiot there ever lived, and he grabbed my left arm. “Love?” he asked. “When the war was over, very few of us survived. I was one of them. We took a train to the home we left during the war. In the middle of nowhere, as the train was moving, Poles got up and started shooting us, at every Jew they saw on the train. I jumped out and they were still shooting at me. But I survived. What the Germans had not finished, the Poles wanted to finish. Nobody here loves us.”

It would take me a couple more days to realize that the Stars of David weren’t signs of love but of hate. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
UKMW prompts Guardian correction to misleading caption for photo of far-right Polish demo
A Guardian article (Poland’s Jews fear for the future under new Holocaust law, Feb. 10th), on the controversial Polish law that imposes jail terms for those claiming that the country was complicit in the Holocaust, chose this photo to illustrate the piece.

At first glance, the photo appears to depict a far-right Polish demonstration in Warsaw, in support of the new bill, that included a pro-Israel contingent. In fact, the caption leads you to this conclusion:

“Supporters of the far-right National Radical Camp (ONR) gather in support of the Holocaust bill in front of the presidential palace in Warsaw on 5 February”
However, other photo agencies who covered the event, organized by the openly antisemitic All Polish Youth (MW), and which included antisemitic and anti-Israel chants and banners, tell a different story. Those few people holding Israeli flags were clearly pro-Israel counter protesters – a few Poles opposed to the Holocaust bill and opposed to the far-right demonstrators present that day.

Here’s one Getty photo of someone holding an Israeli flag, separated from the main demonstration by a line of police, representing a small counter demonstration.
David Singer: Abbas dumps Trump for the United Nations
Abbas is perfectly entitled to choose the United Nations path to pursue his agenda seeking to create a second Arab State in former Palestine – in addition to Jordan which comprises 78% of former Palestine. However he cannot possibly achieve that result facing a certain US veto in the Security Council.

Haley made Abbas's choices and America's intentions crystal-clear – warning Abbas:
"You can choose to denounce the United States, reject the U.S. role in peace talks, and pursue punitive measures against Israel in international forums like the UN. I assure you that path will get the Palestinian people exactly nowhere toward the achievement of their aspirations. Or, you can choose to put aside your anger about the location of our embassy, and move forward with us toward a negotiated compromise that holds great potential for improving the lives of the Palestinian people. Putting forward old talking points and entrenched and undeveloped concepts achieves nothing. That approach has been tried many times, and has always failed. After so many decades, we welcome new thinking."

Choosing the United Nations over direct negotiations with Israel will disqualify the PLO from participating in Trump’s proposed "ultimate deal" to end the Arab-Jewish conflict – details of which still remain shrouded in secrecy.

President Trump's "new thinking" could see Jordan and Egypt replacing the PLO in future negotiations with Israel to determine the allocation of sovereignty between these three States in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza – the last remaining 5% of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine still claimed by both Arabs and Jews.
Palestinian Authority 2018 Budget Allocates Funds to Pay Thousands of Hamas Members
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced the Palestinian Authority’s 2018 budget on Monday, which will stand at a total of $5.8 billion.

Some of the funds were allocated to the Hamas terrorist organization under the condition that Hamas allows the PA to assume some positions in Gaza in accordance with agreements.

The Palestinian prime minister stated that the budget deficit is expected to reach $1 billion, which he said, “requires restraint on government expenses and the correct management of the public’s money.”

Hamdallah noted that one of the priorities of the government is to reduce the gaps between the West Bank and Gaza Strip on an individual and general level.

Regarding the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian prime minister noted that despite the fact that the government has not been the authorized body in the Strip for over a decade, the PA government intends to give Gaza an annual development budget of some $100 million to cover the salaries of 65,000 employees and security personnel, among other things.

Then the Palestinian prime minister surprised everyone by noting that the new budget takes into account the salaries of 20,000 Hamas government employees in PA ministries “despite the fact that Hamas continues to control all the revenue from taxation and all other revenue and puts it in their coffers.”

Hamdallah also noted that the money would only be transferred after Hamas allows the PA to fulfill its role in the Gaza Strip without any delays or obstructions.
Palestinians becoming more extreme in their positions – poll
Palestinians are becoming more extreme in their positions, especially with regards to the two-state solution, peace negotiations and the level of trust in their leaders and factions, a public opinion poll published on Sunday showed.

The percentage of Palestinians who support “armed resistance,” including terror attacks, against Israel has also risen compared with previous surveys, according to the results of the poll, which was conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center in cooperation with the German foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

The poll, which was conducted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between January 27 and February 2, covered a random sample of 1,200 people and has a margin of error of three percent.

The findings showed that support for the two-state solution has dropped to 35%. In contrast, a poll conducted in February 2017 showed that 49% of those surveyed supported the two-state solution.

Meanwhile, the percentage of those who support a binational state has increased from 18% (in February 2017) to 23% in the current poll.
Israeli judoka wins bronze after Iranian pulls out of competition
After being gifted a place into the last 16 by the withdrawal of an Iranian opponent, Israeli judoka Tohar Butbul went on to win a bronze medal at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam in Germany on Saturday.

Butbul, competing in the under-73 kilogram competition, received a bye into the second round where he was supposed to meet the winner of the bout between American Nick Delpopolo and Iran’s Mohammad Mahdi Brimanloo. However, after Delpopolo had to pull out injured, Brimanloo made sure to disqualify himself by being overweight in the weigh-in ahead of the start of the competition, sending Butbul into the last 16.

It remains to be seen if the International Judo Federation decides to take action against Brimanloo and follow in the footsteps of the world wrestling governing body which banned Iranian Alireza Karimi for six months last weekend after he was found guilty of deliberately throwing a match last November to avoid facing Israeli Uri Kalashnikov.

The United World Wrestling wrote in a statement that Karimi violated regulations when he intentionally lost to a Russian competitor in the quarterfinals of the under-23 wrestling world championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, so that he wouldn’t need to face Kalashnikov, who went on to win a bronze medal.

Karimi’s coach, Hamidreza Jamshidi, was banned for two years for instructing his wrestler to lose.
Israeli satellite spies Russian stealth fighters at Syrian base
An Israeli satellite on Saturday revealed that Russia had deployed stealth fighters to Syria.

The Sukhoi Su-57 planes, the first of their kind, were spotted at the Khmeimim air base in the Syrian port city of Latakia.

In a statement, the Israeli satellite operator, ImageSat International, said that the Israeli Eros B satellite discovered two fifth-generation stealth planes, Sukhoi Su-57s. The planes are expected to carry out their initial "test" flights in Syria, and are not yet fully operational.

According to the RBK news agency, the jets were sent to Khmeimim for "a test in real conditions."

They carried out their first operation on Saturday.

On Thursday, Russian news outlets publicized photos of the Su-57s preparing to land at Khmeimim. Additional planes had landed at the base on Wednesday. At the time, the Kremlin referred questions on the matter to the Russian military, which refused to comment.
Stepping up protest against Israel, fuming church leaders shutter Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday closed its doors until further notice as church leaders angrily retaliated against what they see as a “systematic campaign” by Israel to harm the Christian community in the Holy Land.

Flanked by Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land Francesco Patton and Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus lll read out a statement and then locked the ancient doors of the church in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“We will decide when and how the church will re-open,” he said, likening Israeli policies to anti-Semitic laws enacted against Jews in Europe.

Believed to be the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected, the church localed in Jerusalem’s Old City is considered to be the holiest site for Orthodox and Catholic Christians. It was last closed briefly around 20 years ago in protest against Israeli policies.

The immediate trigger was the churches’ discovery that the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee was to discuss — and in all probability pass — a bill on Sunday allowing the state to confiscate land sold by the churches to private investors since 2010 and pay the new owners compensation.

It was also motivated by a recent decision by the Jerusalem Municipality to freeze churches’ assets until they cough up millions of shekels in what the city claims are unpaid taxes.
After Holy Sepulchre shuttered, bill allowing seizure of church lands shelved
Ministers on Sunday postponed a Knesset debate on a bill that would allow Israel to confiscate church properties, after Orthodox and Catholic church leaders shuttered Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre to protest the legislation and a new municipal tax policy.

The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee was to discuss on Sunday — and in all probability advance — the bill, which would allow the state to expropriate lands sold by the churches to private investors since 2010.

The advancement of the legislation, which was proposed by Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria and is backed by the Justice Ministry, is being fiercely opposed by church leaders, who have decried what they called a “systematic campaign” by Israel to harm the Christian community in the Holy Land.

Church leaders were also protesting a recent decision by the Jerusalem municipality to freeze churches’ assets until they cough up millions of shekels in what the city claims are unpaid taxes.
First Aid Under Fire: Israeli Officer Details Medical Challenges at Gaza Border
In emergency care during combat, every minute can make the difference between life and death.

Lt.-Col. Dr. Gilad Twig, the outgoing chief medical officer of the Gaza division, told JNS about the latest techniques that the IDF Medical Corps is employing to get its personnel ready for some of the toughest situations imaginable.

Twig has served as a combat battalion doctor for many years. He was once the doctor of the secretive, elite Shayetet 13 naval commando unit. For the past 18 months, he has been deployed on the Gaza border, where he has been helping to get the Gaza division better prepared for providing medical care under fire.

“The past 18 months have been the most significant time that I have served,” Twig told JNS. “The division is located very near to the Gaza Strip, with all of the implications of being in close proximity to Hamas [entails],” he said. “But [the division also gets to know the] civilian communities in the Gaza border area. This was a great opportunity to see the creativity of these communities, and to view just how significant the military’s role is here.”

Twig described some of the training programs that he oversaw to ensure readiness for combat situations, which can break out at a moment’s notice — as recent incidents have shown. Four IDF soldiers sustained injuries — two of them serious — when a bomb hidden in a flag mast planted on the Gaza border blew up on February 10.
Palestinian sentenced to life for murdering pregnant Israeli lover
At the time of her murder, Halimi was eight months pregnant and married to an Israeli man named Aharon. It was not clear who the baby’s father was.

At his first court appearance in August last year, Harouf insisted his affair with Halimi was not the motivation for the murder, telling reporters he acted in order “to free [Palestinian] prisoners,” and yelled that he would “kill all the Jews.”

The indictment, which initially listed Halimi as murdered in a domestic dispute, was later amended to include “nationalistic reasons.”

After the details of the story emerged last year, Halimi’s widower, Aharon, denied his late wife was having an affair and vowed to file a lawsuit against Israel Police for spreading false information about her.
Israel Navy kills Palestinian boatman after he strays from fishing zone
A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip died on Sunday after the Israeli navy fired on the boat he and two others were sailing in, a military spokeswoman said.

The navy opened fire after the boat ignored warnings and strayed from a permitted fishing area in the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel, the spokeswoman said. One of the men in the boat was seriously wounded and later died.

But the Gaza fishermen's union said the boat was targeted as it was making its way back to Gaza, and Nizar Ayyash, the secretary of the Gaza fishermen's syndicate, said in a statement that the men did not violate the maritime limit.

Israel maintains a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is dominated by Hamas Islamists. It patrols the waters to stop arms from being smuggled into the enclave and to stop militants trying to attack or infiltrate its territory from the sea.

"Israeli forces targeted a Palestinian fishing boat which was on the way back to Gaza shore, which led to the death of one fisherman and wounding two others," the fishermen's union said.

The military spokeswoman said a Palestinian vessel with three suspects aboard was shot at after it had deviated from the designated fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip.
Hamas Forbids Family To Erect Mourning Tent For Islamic State Rivals
Hamas has angered the family of a senior Palestinian jihadist after the group told them they would not be allowed to erect a mourning tent on behalf of their relative to receive condolences as is customary in Palestinian society.

Last week, the family was informed by Islamic State members in Syria that Muhammad Jibril, one of the most senior Palestinian jihadists fighting in the ranks of IS, was killed in a Russian air strike in Syria. Jibril, who was known as Abu Abdullah al-Gazawi within IS, was said to have been killed in a Russian strike near the Syrian city of Dir Azzuer, near the border between Syria and Iraq.

The family received the official announcement on Monday that his body had in fact been seen and Hamas’ security forces became aware that they had begun erecting a mourning tent to receive condolences. The authorities rushed to the family home to inform them that they were forbidden from erecting the tent.

“Hamas members have reached a new low by keeping Muslims from the commandment of comforting mourners,” according to Abu Baker al-Maqdesi, a senior Palestinian jihadist who fought in the ranks of IS in Syria and Iraq, and returned to Gaza after being wounded. “Hamas’ people, who have abandoned Islam, are mistaken if they think that they can fight young Muslims who want to join the ranks of the army of the Caliphate in this way.”

Jibril was previously a senior field operative in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassem Brigades, Hamas’ so-called military wing. He was sent on a special operational mission to Turkey in 2010 and traveled to Syria upon the breakout of the civil war there, joining the Jund al-Aqsa group, a jihadist militia that merged with IS last year.

According to al-Maqdesi, Jibril was one of some 100 Palestinians, mostly from Gaza, who fought in the ranks of this militia. Two years ago, as battles intensified between Jund al-Aqsa and other Syrian opposition militias, Jibril reportedly joined the ranks of IS along with 17 other Palestinians from Gaza prior to the merger with IS.
Eli Lake: Iran Wants to Join the World Order It Undermines
If you are a fan of unintentional comedy, I recommend checking out the Financial Action Task Force. This is the global organization of big banks and government agencies dedicated to combating money laundering and terrorism finance.

This week it met in Paris to discuss, among other things, whether or not Iran’s banking system should receive a clean bill of health.

The joke writes itself. The U.S. Treasury Department has spent more than 20 years tracing how Iran’s banks are used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, to finance terror groups. As National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told a conference in Munich this week: “When you invest in Iran, you’re investing in the IRGC. You might as well cut the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a check and say, ‘Please use this to commit more murder across the Middle East.’ ”

And yet, the world body dedicated to stopping the finance of terrorism punted. In the dry prose of bureaucrats, it called on Iran to “fully address its remaining action items.” This includes a loophole in a law pending before Iran’s parliament to address the state’s financing of terrorism. There is an exemption for groups “attempting to end foreign occupation, colonialism and racism.” And yet, the door remains open if the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism could just address some of these technical details.

All of this illustrates the problem with integrating states like Iran into the world order. Government envoys and ministers can be quite sensible one-on-one, but get a bunch of them in a room under the imprimatur of the “international community” and nonsense ensues. This is particularly true when it comes to Iran after the 2015 nuclear deal.

Consider an Interpol conference last July in Tehran. Law-enforcement experts from Central and South Asia met to discuss “Project Kalkan,” a new early-warning system to share terrorist information to prevent future attacks. What’s next, a prison-reform summit in Pyongyang?
Ryan Bellerose: The Difference Between Israel and North America In a Nutshell
It has come to light that there was in fact an armed guard at the Florida school. He just failed to do his job. We are all talking about guns but what we aren’t talking about is root cause, prevention and culture.

Israel deals with terror attacks regularly. The mass shooting, bombing and car ram attacks are all things that started in Israel in the past 30 years, so they have experience dealing with this stuff. My friends in the security industry in Israel are always shocked at how lax security is here.

As a former security contractor I can say this with a straight face: the state of security in North America is a joke. Multiple exits and entrances at most schools make control a nightmare. How do you prevent entrance when there are too many entrance points to effectively monitor, let alone control access? We have many potential solutions but they would require some actual work.

1. Restrict access, change building designs so that there aren’t 8-9 outside doors
2. Relocate police substations to either in the school or across the street
3. Have a minimum of 3 armed professional, vetted trained guards in every school
4. Have armored “safe rooms” built in the schools
5. Have someone actually monitoring students social media for warning signs
6. Teach young people how to look for warning signs themselves

In Israel, they have no problem restricting access because they make it so that schools have one or two access points and those access points are monitored and often guarded by armed guards. But there is something else that is very different in Israel and that’s the culture.
Pro-Palestine protest interrupts Brody Jewish Center, Hoos for Israel event
Over 10 people gathered at Clark Hall Thursday night to protest and disrupt an event hosted by the Brody Jewish Center and Hoos for Israel. University Police Department officers responded to the group gathering and sounds of shouting, and received a report that an assault occurred prior to their arrival. The UPD is continuing to investigate the incident, the department’s Crime Prevention Coordinator Benjamin Rexrode told The Cavalier Daily in an email.

Though the event — a panel of Israeli Defense Force reservists entitled “Building Bridges” — was hosted by the Brody Center, it was not necessarily religious in nature, according to Talia Sion, a fourth-year Nursing student and chair of the Jewish Leadership Council.

“[The event was] an event to promote conversation and respectful dialogue between students of different religious and political backgrounds,” Sion said. “The event was not organized purely by Jewish students nor aimed for just Jewish attendees.”

The protesters entered the event in Clark Hall and began chanting pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel mantras while holding similarly-natured posters. One poster read, “Anti-colonial, not anti-semitic, solidarity with Palestine.”

Rabbi Jake Rubin, executive director of the Brody Jewish Center, was present at the event and released a statement in response to the incident. He said that he and student leaders invited the protesters to participate in the program and share their concerns through conversations, but the protesters declined the offer and continued to disrupt the panel
Ex-London mayor Livingstone set to return to Labour after anti-Semitic remarks
A former London mayor appears poised to rejoin the British Labour Party as his suspension for anti-Semitic remarks comes to end.

Labour penalized Ken Livingstone in April 2016, after he claimed that Adolf Hitler was initially a supporter of Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.”

With his two-year suspension set to end in April, Livingstone will again be considered a full member of the UK’s main opposition party barring the emergence of further offensive comments, Labour sources told The Observer on Saturday.

The prospect of Livingstone’s return to the party has raised consternation among some Labour lawmakers, with MP Wes Streeting saying it will cause “irreparable damage to the party’s standing and reputation.”

Echoing Streeting, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth told The Observer that Livingstone “continues to bring the party into disrepute” and “has no place in the party.”

The decision to suspend and not expel Livingstone was strongly criticized by Jewish groups at the time, and came as the party grappled with allegations that it has been lax on anti-Semitism under leader Jeremy Corbyn.

With his expected return to the party nearing, Livingstone told The Observer he would take legal steps against Labour if a decision was made to expel him. He also claimed his suspension was the result of “fake news.”
Labour MPs Naz Shah, Chris Williamson and Clive Lewis must explain why they attended event organised by members suspended over antisemitism claims
Three Labour MPs, including the Shadow Treasury Minister, have attended an event in Westminster organised by suspended party members accused of antisemitism, the JC has reported.

The event was the launch of the Grassroots Black Left (GBL) group, aimed at revitalising black and ethnic minority participation in left wing politics, however the launch was organised by Labour Against the Witch Hunt, a group set up to protest what it says are false claims of antisemitism within the Labour party.

Labour Against the Witch Hunt has been going through its own internal identity crisis after members were expelled over antisemitism claims, leading to the establishment of a splinter group opposing what it called a witch hunt within Labour Against the Witch Hunt.

Labour MPs Naz Shah, Chris Williamson and Clive Lewis all attended the event, apparently happy to rub shoulders with Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, both of whom are currently suspended from the Labour Party pending disciplinary hearings.

In an article written in The Morning Star, Deborah Hobson, a chair of GBL, wrote: “Black party members, including disproportionately Muslims, have faced false charges of antisemitism yet the Chakrabarti Report told us that this form of prejudice is not rife in our party.” She went on to claim: “Islamophobia and anti-black racism are much more prevalent but those twin evils have been ignored by Labour. We demand the party leadership publicly defend its supporters who have been purged.”
A French newspaper reports on a topic the BBC avoids
Despite the fact that the BBC has a permanent presence in Beirut, the last time its audiences saw any reporting from southern Lebanon was over three years ago. Last year, Hizballah violations of UNSC resolution 1701 received no coverage whatsoever.
BBC News yawns over another violation of UNSC resolution 1701

Another UN SC resolution violation goes unreported by the BBC

Calls for a review of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon – UNIFIL – in August 2017 were not reported by the BBC in the English language until three weeks after the story broke.

The Jerusalem Post recently published an article which is based on a French newspaper’s interviews with UNIFIL soldiers based in south Lebanon.
US Neo-Nazi group celebrated killing of Jewish student
Chats and messages published over the weekend from a violent American neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen show members cheering the alleged murder last month of a gay Jewish teenager.

On January 10, the body of 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein was discovered in park in southern California with multiple stab wounds. Police later arrested Samuel Woodward, a high school classmate of Bernstein, and charged him with murder. Late last month, the investigation journalism nonprofit ProPublica reported that Woodward was a member of the virulently antisemitic hate group Atomwaffen Division. Chilling messages published over the weekend by ProPublica from the group show how they celebrated the murder - and plotted further violence.

One member of the group wrote "I love this" over the violent killing, while another praised Woodward for being a “one man gay Jew wrecking crew.” Another member lauded the murder, but lamented the price Woodward would pay. “Sam did something stupid,” wrote one member. “Not that the faggot kike didn’t deserve to die. Just simply not worth a life in prison for.”

Despite the likely loss of a member to the US penal system, one leader in the group saw a distinct upside to the media attention surrounding the murder. "We’re only going to inspire more ‘copycat crimes’ in the name of AWD," wrote Sean Michael Fernandez on January 30, according to ProPublica. "All we have to do is spread our image and our propaganda... The growing fear is what we set out to do and it’s working EXACTLY how I wanted it to since we took over 'leadership.' I couldn't have planned this better, seriously.”
Why is Israel scattering millions of flies around Gaza?
Every week, 33 million flies are scattered from airplanes onto orchards and agricultural farmland surrounding Gaza as part of a unique Agriculture Ministry project.

The planes take off with millions of male flies at the peak of their sexual maturity and drop them onto fields in an effort to naturally expel the harmful Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most destructive fruit pests.

The male flies, which are sterile, mate with the female flies infesting the crops, thus preventing the creation of the next generation of fruit flies.

This process is known as the sterile insect technique, an environmentally friendly and chemical free pest control method.

The innovative project is being carried out by Bio-Bee, one of the leading international companies in the field of biologically based pest management, located in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in Northern Israel.

As part of the maturing process of the male flies, they undergo sterilization in a radioactive facility. When they are scattered in the air by the planes, they are exposed to the ambient temperature and spring to life ready to mate with their female counterparts, which prefer them to the male fruit flies in the fields.

The flies are scattered over an area of some 35 dunams of fields and orchards near the Gaza border.
A soaring number of Jews acquired Portuguese citizenship in 2017
Nearly 1,800 descendants of Sephardic Jews acquired the Portuguese nationality in 2017 under a law enacted two years earlier, with another 12,000 still in the application process, officials in Lisbon said.

The tally for last year is six times higher than the total for 2016, during which the application of the law hit bureaucratic snags amid political changes.

The increase in naturalization under the law, which Portugal passed in 2013 and enacted in 2015 as a form of making amends for the persecution of Jews during the Inquisition that began in the 16th century, comes amid a host of initiatives by the government to strengthen the country’s ties to Jewish audiences and recognition of its Jewish heritage.

A similar push is underway in Spain, which passed a similar law of return simultaneous to the Portuguese one and which has naturalized more than 5,000 applicants. Spain and Portugal’s economies are heavily reliant on foreign investment and tourism, and both have high unemployment relative to the rest of the European Union — 17 and 8.9 percent, respectively – and especially among young people.
Why a southern US city is home to the largest Jewish film festival in the world
It’s opening night at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) and executive director Kenny Blank is all smiles. In its 18th year, AJFF is now tied as the largest Jewish film festival in the world.

On this particular evening, AJFF is screening “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,” a documentary by filmmaker Sam Pollard. An African-American and Puerto Rican convert to Judaism, Davis was considered to be one of the biggest entertainers of his time.

AJFF, which ran this year from January 24 through February 15, aims to be a platform for diverse Jewish voices, because the Jewish experience is almost impossible to define, said Blank. “The films that the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screens are as varied as what it means to identify as Jewish,” Blank said.

It’s difficult to gauge if other Jewish film festivals across the US would have chosen this particular documentary for opening night. But in Atlanta, the home of the Civil Rights Movement and the largest majority African-American city in the US, featuring a film with a Black-Jewish subject is part of the strategic programming that Blank said is the secret to the festival’s longevity.
A fan shakes hands with director Sam Pollard, right, at the opening night of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, January 24, 2018. (AJFF)

“In the early years we were presenting a pretty narrow selection of films that dealt with Jewish life in a limited fashion,” he said. “The range of subjects and genres was limited, but through the years we’ve made an effort to expand the programming.”

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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