Thursday, April 19, 2018

From Ian:

The Miracle at 70
Seventy years ago, on the 14th of May, David Ben-Gurion and his Zionist compatriots were poised to declare the first Jewish commonwealth in almost two millennia. Israel’s founders, however, were delayed, bogged down in a matter of textual minutiae. Rabbi Yehuda Leib Maimon, rabbinic representative of the Religious Zionist movement, proclaimed himself unwilling to sign any Declaration of Independence that made no reference to the God of Israel. Aharon Zisling, the secular head of the socialist party Mapam, asserted that he could not affirm the existence of a God in Whom he did not believe. The British were departing, the Arab armies were descending, and the Jews were debating whether God existed.

It was Ben-Gurion himself who proposed a compromise: Israel’s Declaration of Independence would conclude by asserting that each signer placed his trust in the “Rock of Israel,” the Tzur Yisrael, a phrase from the Jewish liturgy inspired by the biblical reference to God as tzuri ve-go’ali, my Rock and my Redeemer.

By referring to the “Rock of Israel,” but refraining from any explicit mention of divine redemption, Israel’s declaration was one that both devout and atheistic Zionists could affirm. For believers in the Bible, the phrase could refer to the divine defender of the Jewish people; for the secular socialist signers of the document, the words could instead make reference to the flint-like resolution of the Israeli army. The compromise was accepted, and the modern Jewish state was born by eliding the issue of the existence of God.

For myself, a religious Zionist and American-history aficionado, the story is doubly painful. Thomas Jefferson, the deistic drafter of the Declaration in Philadelphia, produced a first version without any reference to the divine designs of history. The continental Congress, however, representing an America obsessed with the Bible, edited the dramatic closing of the original draft so that it made clear that the revolution was being launched with “a firm reliance on divine providence.”

John Podhoretz: The Septuagenarian
Israel is the 26th-richest country on Earth, according to the World Bank. Now, Israelis will tell you, not without reason, that the wealth numbers provide an improper view of everyday life in their country. The inequality gap is a Grand Canyon–like chasm there. It’s hard for the young to find good jobs and decent housing, in part because an overly intrusive government sector has made workplace mobility nearly impossible and an overregulated economy makes home construction prohibitively expensive. These difficulties are especially enraging to Israelis because they are self-inflicted wounds that result from what might be called “democratic-socialist entropy.”

But still, Israel is the 26th-richest country on Earth—and the fact that you’ve probably taken this in stride is the reason it’s so extraordinary. Israel’s emergence as a wealthy country is among the countless facts of 2018 that would have seemed unimaginable to the Jews of 1948. Seventy years ago, even poor American Jews like my grandparents would scrape together precious dollars to send to relatives in Palestine, so hardscrabble was their existence. And it remained an economic basket case for decades. In the 1960s, consumer goods of any kind were so scarce in part due to startlingly stupid tariffs imposed by the economically illiterate Labour government that any American traveling there would put out an APB and collect all manner of stuff to bring to family members who were studying in the Holy Land or had made Aliyah. In 1984, while Western nations saw renewed economic growth, Israel had an inflation rate of—get this—450 percent.

The nation broke the back of its inflationary spiral, and then in the early 1990s, something amazing happened: An entirely new economic sector kind of snuck into existence because the hidebound labor apparatchiks in control of communications had no idea what cellular telephony was or what it could do. They were still focused on controlling the landline monopoly called Bezek.

Gil Troy: The Continuing Promise of American Zionism
Sixty-nine years ago, a 28-year-old rabbi published an essay in Commentary entitled “American Zionism at an Impasse: A Movement in Search of a Program.” What, the young Arthur Hertzberg wondered in that October 1949 essay, will American Jews do now, after the great fight to establish Israel had ended so triumphantly a year earlier, in May 1948?
Hertzberg understood how helping the Jews over there in the Middle East had helped Jews over here in North America. After decades of American Jewish ambivalence about Jewish nationalism, the Holocaust had created an instant consensus for a Jewish state. The fight to create that state galvanized the community, rousing it from depression—and shielding it from guilt. By doing the right thing in the late 1940s, American Jews atoned for their failure to save more of their doomed brothers and sisters.

Hertzberg’s fear that Zionism was “a movement in search of a program” in 1949 proved wildly premature, because Israel would continue to call on and depend on the support of American Jews for its survival. The nation’s creation was followed by a host of new problems and opportunities that kept the global Jewish community engaged with Israel and kept alive the American Jewish connection to “peoplehood”—even as many American Jews abandoned religious practice entirely.

In 1959, Hertzberg published a seminal anthology, The Zionist Idea, for the purpose of establishing the movement’s intellectual and ideological roots. At the time, Israel was fragile and the Zionist conversation was robust. Today, Israel is robust and the Zionist conversation has turned fragile. Israel’s 70th anniversary offers an opportunity to reframe the Zionist conversation—asking not what American Jews can do for Israel, but what Zionism can do for American Jews. Hertzberg understood that Zionism wasn’t only about saving Jewish bodies but saving Jewish souls. As the celebrations of Israel’s 70th birthday begin, Zionism’s capacity to save our souls remains vital.

Many American Jews in the 1950s helped their fellow Jews settle in the new land. The fundraising short from 1954, “The Big Moment,” featuring Hollywood stars including Donna Reed and Robert Young, celebrated the secular miracle. “When you support the United Jewish Appeal, you make it possible for the United Israel Appeal to help the people of Israel,” the short told its viewers. They could help “rush completion of new settlements, new housing for the homeless, the irrigation of wasteland acres…. Israel’s people who stand for freedom must not stand alone.”

On 70th anniversary, Netanyahu says Israel’s light will beat enemies’ ‘darkness’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a fiery address at a torch-lighting ceremony marking Israel’s 70th Independence Day, declared that the Jewish state is becoming a “world power” and said its light will overcome its enemies’ “darkness.”

“We’re turning Israel into a rising world power,” Netanyahu said at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem before lighting a torch on behalf of all the governments of Israel since the founding of the state.

The prime minister thanked US President Donald Trump for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy to the holy city next month.

Calling Israel’s current relationship with the United States a “historic one,” Netanyahu said, “Thank you, President Trump! Thank you America!”

Alluding to unprecedentedly bellicose rhetoric from Iran, the prime minister vowed that no one would “extinguish” Israel’s “light.”
ToI asks the experts: What are the most important finds of Israeli archaeology?
November 29, 1947. Even as the United Nations voted to end British Mandatory rule and establish two states — Jewish and Arab — in Palestine, the founder of Jewish archaeology in the Land of Israel held in his hands one of the greatest historical treasures of all time: the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In his journal that evening, Prof. Eleazar Sukenik wrote, “Today I have been shown a piece of a scroll. I do not dare to write down what I think of it.”

The next day, Jewish settlements throughout the land were attacked, but the Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor knew that, before the window of opportunity closed, he must travel to Bethlehem and purchase whatever fragments he could.

Quickly, Sukenik sought safe passage advice from his son, an underground Jewish defense officer named Yigael Yadin (later a general, then a politician, who eventually followed in his father’s archaeological footprints).

According to the transcript of a 1950s lecture, Yadin told his father, “As a military man, I answered that he ought not to make the journey; as an archaeologist that he ought to go; as his son — that my opinion had to be reserved.”
IDF Blog: Top 10 innovations from the past 70 years
The IDF has acquired groundbreaking technological innovations during its 70 years, so we compiled a short list to share some of our favorites.

1. The “Iron Dome” Air Defense System
For many years, rockets have been launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip. As a result, an air defense system called the "Iron Dome" was deployed in southern Israel in 2011. The objective: to protect Israeli civilians from this constant threat by intercepting the rockets.

Accuracy, speed, and capacity - 3 adjectives that describe the “Iron Dome.” With a range of up to 43.5 miles, it was able to intercept 692 rockets during Operation Protective Edge. In addition, in November 2012, during Operation Defensive Pillar, a record high of 421 interceptions were made in just 8 days.

As soon as a rocket is launched by the enemy, the radar station detects and tracks its course, and then immediately launches a missile to intercept and neutralize the enemy rocket before it causes damage to civilians or property .

2. The “Trophy” System
You may think that a tank is an all-powerful and invincible vehicle, but this is not the case. Anti-tank missiles are able to damage tanks beyond repair, so the “Trophy” System was established to counteract this threat.

The “Trophy” detection system creates a 360-degree protective shield around the tank. When an enemy launches a missile against a tank equipped with a “Trophy,” the system instantly detects and neutralizes the threat by firing a missile of its own to explode the enemy missile.
A Holocaust survivor recalls fighting in Israel’s War of Independence
Mordechai Schachter didn’t know he would soon be a soldier when he traveled from his native Romania to prestate Israel in 1948. He was a 17 year old with a passion for Zionism, leaving behind a country that was becoming increasingly anti-Semitic a few short years after at least 270,000 Romanian Jews died during the Holocaust.

At the end of 1947, Schachter had boarded one of two boats of 7,500 Jews each that were to take them to the promised land, despite a British ban on Jewish emigration there. Many of the passengers were lone children whose parents sent them on the boats to escape Romania. Schachter’s parents had meant to come, but his father fell ill before the trip, so they stayed behind.

The journey went as planned until the boats hit the Dardanelles, a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey. There they were met by seven British ships. Passengers decided not to fight back since a significant portion of them were children and elderly; their boats were rerouted to Cyprus. Three months later, the British agreed to allow the children, including Schachter, to go on to Palestine.

Schachter remembers arriving in Ranaana, and eating hamentaschen and oranges on his first week there. In Ranaana he also met one of his three brothers, who had arrived in prestate Israel four months earlier. Five weeks later he was ordered to join the army, where he was taught how to shoot a gun and given an Italian rifle from World War I and 25 bullets. Others got “whatever they could find,” Schachter recalled.

“Everybody had a different type [of weapon] at that time. They had very little ammunition,” he told JTA on Monday at his home in this northern New Jersey township about 11 miles from Manhattan.
With daffodils, Poland marks 75th anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
People in Warsaw pinned paper daffodils to their clothes as the Polish capital began a day of commemorations Thursday on the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Sirens will wail, church bells will toll and newscasters on TV, politicians and regular citizens are wearing the daffodils in what has become a symbol of mourning for the Jews who died fighting, as well as the millions of other Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

President Andrzej Duda is to preside over official commemorations and will pay homage to the hundreds of Jewish fighters who took up arms in the 1943 rebellion against the German forces that occupied Poland during World War II. The revolt ended in death for most of the fighters yet left behind an enduring symbol of resistance.

There is also to be an “independent” gathering by Poles furious at a government that sometimes seems to tolerate or even support anti-Semitic views despite its official denunciations of anti-Semitism. Open Republic, an association that fights anti-Semitism and xenophobia, said it was organizing its ceremony in opposition to what it called the “hollow nationalist pomp” of the government, recalling how the prime minister earlier this year paid tribute to a Polish wartime insurgency unit that had collaborated with the Nazis.

The Children’s Book That Introduced Young Americans to the New Jewish State
Were I a librarian specializing in Jewish children’s books, I would warmly recommend Habibi’s Adventures in the Land of Israel to young readers and their parents. Its clear, unadorned prose, ornamented by a series of equally straightforward black-and-white illustrations as well as a map, follows the exploits of a red-headed, blue-eyed, pre-bar mitzvah age American boy with the improbable name of Habibi. Together with his frisky dog, Yow, a little black spaniel who understands Hebrew, they travel the length and breadth of pre-state Israel, where generous, kindhearted people abound at every turn and “everything is wonderful.”

But then, I’m not a librarian. More to the point, Habibi’s Adventures in the Land of Israel is not readily available. First published in 1951 by Bloch Publishing Co., it is out of print. Still, the book is worth noting—and saluting—both on its own terms and as an indication, a proof-text, of Zionism’s allure among earlier generations of American Jews.

The volume’s sprightly content was based on the experiences of its author, Althea O. Silverman, who visited the yishuv in the late 1940s. “My young friends,” she wrote in a preface, “you may read this book simply as the tale of Habibi’s exciting adventures. But you will be interested to know that these stories are built around events that really did happen. What Habibi saw, and all the incidents, are true.”
Poll: 82% of Israelis proud of the country, half fear war is near
On the eve of Israel's Independence Day, 81% think that the country is a good place to live, while 73% believe that is is an established fact.

A special poll conducted this week for The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv by the research institute Panels Politics, headed by Menachem Lazar, for Israel's 70th Independence Day shows that the majority of citizens are proud to be Israeli, think Israel is a good place to live and are optimistic fo the country's future and their own. At the same time, though most of the public believes that Israel is an established fact, the security tensions in the north are having an effect and most fear the possibility of war.

The Internet poll, which reached 587 participants, of whom 484 were Jews and 103 Arabs, shows that 82% of the country's citizens are proud to be Israeli, of whom 56% are very proud and 26% mostly so. On the opposite side of the spectrum, 15% state that they are not proud to be Israeli, perhaps as a result of the similar statement made by radio anchor Kobi Meidan, who later apologized for his words.

Among those who are not proud of their Israeliness, 9% "are not very proud" and another 6% "are not proud at all." The analysis of the results indicates that 93% of right-wing and centrist voters are proud to be Israeli, while only 59% of those on the left feel pride.

In a direct connection to the level of pride in the state, the poll shows that there is a consensus among 81% of the public that the State of Israeli is a good place to live. Among these respondents, 36% say that Israeli is a "very good" place to live and 45% think that Israeli is a "relatively good" place to lead one's life.
Gangsters for Zion
In 1945, the Jewish Agency, the pre-state Israeli government headed by David Ben-Gurion, created a vast clandestine arms-purchasing-and-smuggling network throughout the United States. The operation was placed under the aegis of the Haganah, the underground forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, and involved hundreds of Americans from every walk of life. They included millionaires, rabbinical students, scrap-metal merchants, ex-GIs, college students, longshoremen, industrialists, chemists, engineers, Protestants and Catholics, as well as Jews. One group, who remained anonymous and rarely talked about, were men who were tough, streetwise, unafraid, and had access to ready cash: Jewish gangsters.

The arms-smuggling operation was centered in a rented two-room suite in the Hotel Fourteen, located at 14 East 60th Street in New York. Teddy Kollek, who later became the popular longtime mayor of Jerusalem, ran the day-to-day operations of the arms procurement efforts, kept tabs on everything and oversaw all the comings and goings. Kollek was careful that those who visited the office not be people who would attract the attention of law enforcement agencies, especially the FBI.

According to Leonard Slater in his book The Pledge, Dan Fliderblum, a young electronics engineer from the New York suburb of Yonkers, had been recruited to set up a network of secret radio transmitters in Palestine to link isolated settlements and forewarn them of British search parties seeking illegal arms. He recalled being in the Hotel Fourteen suite in 1947, when a group of Jewish gangsters from Brooklyn came to see Kollek. “The mobsters offered to help in any way they could. One of them said, ‘If you want anyone killed, just draw up a list and we’ll take care of it.’ Kollek politely thanked them, but declined their offer.” Fliderblum later immigrated to Israel, changed his name to David Avivi, and became a leader in the future Israeli electronics industry.

After the Holocaust, the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine was seen by Zionists as a matter of life and death. Many Haganah people sent to the United States believed that anyone who could help should be approached regardless of who or what they were. Yehuda Arazi was one of those who held this view. Arazi, a close aide to Ben-Gurion had been a daring and resourceful Haganah underground agent in Romania, Hungary, and Italy during the war. Ben-Gurion sent him to America and authorized him to purchase the kinds of heavy armaments the Haganah had heretofore been unable to obtain. This included aircraft, artillery pieces, tanks, antiaircraft guns and other forms of heavy equipment.
New York Times Greets Israel’s 70th With Piece Claiming 1948 Was ‘Catastrophe’
The New York Times is marking Israel’s 70th birthday with an op-ed piece describing the Jewish state’s creation as a “catastrophe.”

The article also offers a historically false account of events in Haifa in 1948.

The Times article, by Ayman Odeh, who leads the vestiges of Israel’s Communist Party, begins:
HAIFA, Israel — Seventy years ago, the world changed around my family. The establishment of the state of Israel represented self-determination for Jews, but a catastrophe — “nakba” in Arabic — for Palestinians. In the area around the Mediterranean city of Haifa, where my family has lived for six generations, only 2,000 Palestinians of a population of 70,000 remained. My grandparents, A’bdel-Hai and A’dla, were among them. Their neighbors were expelled and dispossessed, and never allowed to return.

Luckily, the case of Haifa just so happens to have been the topic of extensive research by the eminent historian Efraim Karsh, who published his findings in 2000 in an authoritative and meticulously documented article in Commentary headlined, “Were The Palestinians Expelled?”

Professor Karsh wrote, “By early April 1948, according to Rashid Hajj Ibrahim, the head of the National Committee, the city’s Arab populace had dwindled to some 35,000-40,000.”

Professor Karsh reported that the town’s Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, “pleaded with the Arabs” to stay. Professor Karsh wrote:
Yaacov Salomon, a prominent Haifa lawyer and the Hagana’s chief liaison officer in the city, followed suit, assuring the Arab delegates that he “had the instructions of the commander of the zone . . . that if they stayed on they would enjoy equality and peace, and that we, the Jews, were interested in their staying on and the maintenance of harmonious relations.”
Polarization on Israel thrives at America's fringes
In January, one of the nation’s premier research centers published a poll that caused something of a tizzy. It had found, according to its press release, a wider gap between Democrats and Republicans on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict “than at any point since 1978.”

The Pew Research Center – which polls Americans on this question every year – discovered more Republicans sympathetic toward Israel in the context of the conflict than at any other moment in modern times. Democrats, on the other hand, were found increasingly divided, now equally likely to support the Palestinian cause, ostensibly at Israel’s expense.

Overall, Pew concluded that 79% of Republicans sympathize with Israel in its historic struggle with the Palestinians, compared with only 27% of Democrats. Americans more favorably inclined toward Israel are less likely to believe a two-state solution is possible than those inclined toward the Palestinians.

And belief in the possibility of peace is correlated with age: the younger you are, the more hopeful you are likely to be that an agreement can be reached.

The poll seemed to confirm long-held fears over increased politicization of Israel in the United States – a core national security concern for the Israeli government, which relies on bipartisan support in Congress for foreign assistance, defense aid and diplomatic support. The basis of the poll was called into question by Democrats who consider themselves fervent supporters of the Jewish state and also advocates of Palestinian statehood, including former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and the Brookings Institution’s Tamara Cofman Wittes.
Dozens protest for Palestinian right of return on Israel's Independence Day
Dozens participated in the "Procession of Return" near Atlit on Thursday, Israel's Independence Day, to protest for the right of return for Palestinian 'refugees'.

The "Procession of Return" has been taking place since 1998 and was organized by the Association for the Protection of the Rights of the Displaced, which unites local committees of dozens of villages from around Israel, a spokesperson for the organization said.

The association and the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee called upon the Arab public and different Jewish groups to participate in the march in order to emphasize the rights of Palestinian 'refugees' in general and in particular their right of return.

According to spokesperson, an estimated 3 out of 10 Palestinians in Israel were displaced.

MK and Chairman of the Ta'al Party Ahmad Tibi, who participated in the march, stated that "This is the day marking the erasure of more than 500 Arab villages and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes. This is the day when the Palestinians unite here with memory and grief over shattered families and brothers who have been separated in all directions."
JPost Editoiral: Signs of Change
As Israel turns 70, a bit of optimism is in order along with an open-eyed recognition of the many challenges that face us.

Tehran’s expansionism, which can be seen as the filling of the vacuum left by America’s retreat from the region under former president Barack Obama, has resulted in an Iranian military presence on Israel’s northern border.

Amir Eshel, former commander of the Israel Air Force, admitted recently that the number of sorties that Israel has carried out in Syria since 2012 to prevent Iran from smuggling arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon or for other goals is approaching triple digits.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s security services are poised to thwart an Iranian attempt to harm Israel’s diplomats abroad in response to Israel’s actions in Syria.

With Donald Trump signaling his intention to pull US troops out of Syria and with Russia’s Vladimir Putin unable or unwilling to restrain Iran, a clash seems nearly unavoidable between Israel and the Islamic Republic.

On the other hand, Iran’s meddling in the region has led to a dramatic realignment of interests.

In the not too distant past, serious people such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis – as head of US Central Command in 2013 – claimed that America’s perceived bias in favor of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians meant that the US “paid a military security price.” He argued that none of “the moderate Arabs” could come out publicly in support of Americans because they “don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians.”
Seth Mandel: The Palestinian Authority Loses Its Authority
Obama did two other things that backfired on the Palestinian Authority. One was the Iran nuclear deal, which gave tacit American support to Tehran’s expansionism in the Middle East, scaring Sunni regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Egypt into strategic alignment with Israel. The other was more subtle but just as consequential: He helped orchestrate the passage of a UN Security Council resolution that deemed East Jerusalem, home to Judaism’s holy sites, occupied Palestinian territory.

The UN resolution at first seemed to be a clear gift to Abbas. But in reality, it was a ham-handed attempt to tie the hands of President-elect Donald Trump, who would be taking office just a month later. Trump wouldn’t have it. In the first year of his presidency, he publicly declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announced that his administration would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (While a new embassy compound is being built, the White House plans to officially designate the existing consulate in Jerusalem as the embassy in time for Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations on May 14.)

The Jerusalem moves have been an unmitigated humiliation for the PA. They undid the damage to the U.S.–Israel relationship inflicted by Obama. Worse for the PA, Trump called the Palestinian bluff. Contrary to the fears of Western observers, and the ill-disguised morbid hopes of some in the media, the region did not go up in flames. The “terrorist’s veto” did. And the coordination that such a move required between the United States and its Arab allies made crystal clear just how isolated the Palestinian Authority has become—how vulnerable it is to the politics of the Arab world, and how impervious to Palestinian politics the Arab world has become.

It took four decades, but the dog is once again wagging the tail.
What the thick tire smoke at the Gaza-Israel border means
Mr. Abbas and his Fatah political party and Hamas in Gaza, currently led by Mr. Al-Sinwar, are battling for control over the Palestinians. This conflict, essentially a civil war, began in 2007 when Palestinians in the Gaza Strip rejected the leadership of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah in favor of Hamas. The border riots have escalated the chess game, with each side trying to position itself as the more effective and legitimate leadership.

Mr. Al-Sinwar has succeeded in putting Gaza back on the international stage and Mr. Abbas is worried he may lose the political advantage if Hamas‘ border campaign bolsters its popularity with the Palestinian public.

In an attempt to gain international credibility for Hamas and to gather domestic support in its conflict with Mr. Abbas, one of Hamas‘ top leaders, Ismail Haniyeh, gave a speech in front of a billboard displaying pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, implying that Hamas was engaged in a peaceful struggle for freedom.

A Palestinian Authorty (PA) government spokesman, speaking from Ramallah, said that Hamas‘ use of the pictures and quotes of the three famous pacifists was intended to cover up its crimes and insisted that Hamas is sabotaging efforts to achieve “national reconciliation” and continues to issue “hostile statements” against Fatah and the PA government. PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat criticized Hamas, saying that these icons would be “astonished” by Hamas‘ claim about the “peacefulness” of the demonstrations.

Unhappy with Hamas‘ massive press coverage and eager to show that it too is capable of mobilizing the masses, Fatah has launched a series of rallies in the territories in support of Mr. Abbas, jailed leader Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli prisons.

The Palestinians’ leadership is bifurcated, each side bent on destroying the other. They willingly sacrifice their people on the altar of self-interest. We are witnessing an internecine war between a third-world Palestinian kleptocracy and a Palestinian terror group, neither capable of responsible governance. But the mainstream media is happy to ignore this reality to sell you a fiction about the peaceful Palestinian march for freedom at the Gaza border. “It is a tale told by [idiots], full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Independence Day terror attack said foiled as troops find hidden bomb
Officials said a large-scale terror attack planned for Independence Day had been averted after security officials arrested a Palestinian at a checkpoint in the northern West Bank on Wednesday with a “powerful explosive device” stashed in his truck.

The truck was stopped at the Reihan crossing by security inspectors, who found it also carried merchandise intended for use in Israeli settlements, with the bomb hidden “in its roof,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Police sappers were dispatched to defuse the bomb, the statement said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the “vigilance and professionalism” of the Crossings Authority personnel, which “led to the exposure of an explosive device and to the thwarting of a large-scale terror attack on our 70th Independence Day.”
In ‘glitch,’ IDF accidentally calls up reservists on Independence Day
The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday morning, Israel’s Independence Day, accidentally sent out an automated emergency call-up of Israeli army reservists, before quickly canceling the summons.

The army clarified that the automated phone messages were sent in error, saying, “This was a glitch that will be investigated.”

The IDF stressed that there was no call-up of reservists.

“This is a notification of cancellation! This is a notification of cancellation!” the military said in its second message. “The message sent from the information center about your unit is incorrect. There is no need to show up.”

The IDF said it realized its mistake relatively quickly. The initial messages were received at about 8 a.m. and the retraction was sent out a few minutes later.
Presidential citations awarded to 120 outstanding IDF soldiers
President Reuven Rivlin hosted the annual Independence Day ceremony at his official residence on Thursday, to award the army’s annual citations for distinguished service to 120 Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

The Independence Day event began at 9:30 a.m. and was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

“It is no secret, that during these celebratory moments, IDF soldiers and security forces are on high alert,” said Rivlin at the ceremony. “It is no secret that we are facing Iranian attempts to directly harm the State of Israel. Dear soldiers, we see the burden of responsibility placed on your young shoulders. Thank you.”

Ahead of Israel’s Independence Day, the military was preparing for the possibility of a direct attack by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ air force, in response to a strike on Iran’s air base in Syria earlier this month that was attributed to Israel.

Iranian officials have made increasingly bellicose remarks following the April 9 strike on the T-4 air base, near Palmyra in central Syria, which killed at least seven members of the IRGC, including the head of its drone program, Col. Mehdi Dehghan.

The annual musical event at the President’s Residence sees Israel’s leaders hand out commendations of excellence to troops, while reminiscing about their own military service.
IDF exposes Jenin weapons factory
Menashe Regional Brigade forces operated last night in the Jenin area during which they raided an illegal weapons factory.

The forces confiscated a large amount of equipment: welding machines, discs, lathes, and other tools used to manufacture weapons. The IDF Spokesman's Office said "the IDF will continue to act to eliminate terrorist equipment as part of the war against weaponry to protect the security of Israeli residents."

Additionally, during the night, an IDF force identified and shot five Arabs who approached the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip, at least one of whom was armed.
Abbas warmly welcomes terrorist released after 20 years in jail
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed a terrorist immediately upon his release from a 20-year sentence in Israel prison for murder, in an hour-long meeting that focused on Palestinian prisoners.

Rajaei Haddad was saluted by other Fatah members as “a leader, a hero, and a fighter.”

Palestinian Authority TV showed footage of the meeting between Abbas and Haddad, who spent two decades in prison for his role in the November 1997 murder of yeshiva student Gabriel Hirschberg in the Old City of Jerusalem, in an April 10 television report. The report stressed “that our leadership gives top priority to the issue of our prisoners.”

Haddad told viewers of Abbas’ concern for the well-being of all the jailed Palestinian terrorists.

“The president asked me about each and every one,” Haddad said. “We sat together for a full hour and he listened to me. He asked me about the prisoners, listened to me, and wrote down everything. The president sends his regards (to the prisoners).”

Haddad was released from jail on March 14. He was the lookout for the terror attack on Hagai Street, signalling to Ayman al-Sharbati when he saw two yeshiva students approaching. Al-Sharbati, who is still in prison, opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, killing Hirschberg and seriously wounding the other student.
Upcoming Vote Could Strengthen Hezbollah’s Hold over Lebanon
The upcoming Lebanese elections scheduled for next month could lead to the formation of a “Hezbollah government,” a political scientist told Agence France-Presse in a report published Wednesday.

The elections would be the first since 2009 and would be held according to Lebanon’s new election law passed last year. The 128 members of parliament have had their terms extended three times over fears of spillover from Syria’s civil war and dissatisfaction with the previous voting law.

Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist group, ended a deadlock that allowed the election of pro-Hezbollah president Michel Aoun in October 2016. This enabled the formation of government which passed the new election law.

The new law changes the method of voting, from voting for individual candidates to voting for lists of candidates. In addition, the new election scheme would replace a majoritarian system with a proportional one. The proportional apportionment of seats in parliament was a change insisted on by Hezbollah. It is believed that this will give Hezbollah an outright majority of seats in the next parliament.

Also, according to the new law, for the first time, Lebanese who live abroad will be allowed to vote.
Iranian-Backed ‘Sleeper Cell’ Militants Hibernating in U.S., Positioned for Attack
Iranian-backed militants are operating across the United States mostly unfettered, raising concerns in Congress and among regional experts that these "sleeper cell" agents are poised to launch a large-scale attack on the American homeland, according to testimony before lawmakers.

Iranian agents tied to the terror group Hezbollah have already been discovered in the United States plotting attacks, giving rise to fears that Tehran could order a strike inside America should tensions between the Trump administration and Islamic Republic reach a boiling point.

Intelligence officials and former White House officials confirmed to Congress on Tuesday that such an attack is not only plausible, but relatively easy for Iran to carry out at a time when the Trump administration is considering abandoning the landmark nuclear deal and reapplying sanctions on Tehran.

There is mounting evidence that Iran poses "a direct threat to the homeland," according to Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and chair of its subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence.

A chief concern is "Iranian support for Hezbollah, which is active in the Middle East, Latin America, and here in the U.S., where Hezbollah operatives have been arrested for activities conducted in our own country," King said, referring the recent arrest of two individuals plotting terror attacks in New York City and Michigan.

"Both individuals received significant weapons training from Hezbollah," King said. "It is clear Hezbollah has the will and capability."
Why Hasn’t the U.S. Cracked Down on Hizballah in Latin America?
The Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist organization Hizballah maintains an extensive network in South and Central America, where it plans attacks, engages in money laundering, and, most importantly, runs a major drug-smuggling operation that it uses to finance its military operations. During the Obama administration, a major American effort to unravel Hizballah’s illicit activities in the Western hemisphere was rolled back, most likely in pursuit of accommodation with Iran. Emanuele Ottolenghi argues that Washington must get tough with the jihadist group:

The White House has to show that it is prepared to take the lead by designating Hizballah . . . a Transnational Criminal Organization under U.S. law. . . . Although the Hizballah International Finance Prevention Act of 2015 required that the White House determine whether Hizballah meets the criteria for [this] designation, the Obama administration declined to do so. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed legislation seeking to spur the executive branch into action, while giving its agencies sharper tools to go after the terror group. Yet the administration has not acted. . . .

To date, no Latin American country has designated Hizballah as a terrorist organization. . . . However, the United States can achieve much of the same effect [merely] by persuading other countries to recognize Hizballah as a narco-trafficking threat under their own laws. Yet for that request to be credible, the U.S. must do so first. . . .

[Take, for example, the] Ayman Joumaa network in Colombia, which laundered drug proceeds through a complex scheme involving used-car businesses in the United States and customers in West Africa. The Eastern District of Virginia indicted Joumaa in 2011 based on Drug Enforcement Agency evidence, but he remains at large. Even after the Joumaa case uncovered the prominent role of used-car sales, they remain an important part of Hizballah’s money-laundering schemes through West Africa. . . .
Iran’s Blinding Hatred of Israel Lies at the Heart of Its Grand Strategy
Since 2011, the Islamic Republic has poured blood and treasure into Syria to prop up Bashar al-Assad, in the process prolonging the country’s civil war, increasing the bloodshed, and contributing to regional instability. What motivates Tehran’s commitment to this unpopular ruler? Karim Sadjapour argues that it is the desire to use Syria as a launching pad for attacks on Israel:

Distilled to its essence, Tehran’s steadfast support for Assad is not driven by the geopolitical or financial interests of the Iranian nation . . . but by a visceral and seemingly inextinguishable hatred for the state of Israel. As senior Iranian officials like Ali Akbar Velayati, a close adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have [repeatedly] said, “The chain of Resistance against Israel by Iran, Syria, Hizballah, the new Iraqi government, and Hamas passes through the Syrian highway.” . . . So long as the seventy-eight-year-old Khamenei remains in power, this hatred will justify Tehran’s continued commitment . . . to supporting Assad’s use of all means necessary—including chemical weapons—to preserve his rule.

Though Israel has virtually no direct impact on the daily lives of Iranians, opposition to the Jewish state has been the most enduring pillar of Iranian revolutionary ideology. Whether Khamenei is giving a speech about agriculture or education, he invariably returns to the evils of Zionism. . . .

The number of Syrian deaths since 2011 (an estimated 500,000, though the UN has stopped counting) is more than five times greater than the approximately 90,000 Arabs (roughly 20-30 percent of them Palestinian) killed in the last 70 years of the Arab-Israeli conflict. . . . Indeed since 2011 far more Palestinians have been killed by Assad (nearly 3,700) than by Israel, including by chemical weapons. . . .
Foreign Ministry produces Disney-quality video telling Israel's story… in Farsi
To mark the state’s 70th birthday, the Foreign Ministry produced a Disney-quality, 10-minute animated video that starts in ancient times with a shot of a child bringing the first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem, and culminates with the wonder of modern Israel.

And the narrator is speaking Farsi.

“This is the story of the people of Israel in its land,” the narration begins. “King David made it his capital 3,000 years ago, and his son Solomon built the holy temple there.”

The story the proceeds through the ages,: The destruction of the Temple, the exile to Rome, the Age of the Talmud, Maimonides, the Spanish Inquisition, clinging to the hope to return, pogroms, the Balfour Declaration, the Holocaust, the State Israel – its wars and successes.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Media Covering Decades Of Arab-Israeli Conflict Already Tired Of Iran Protests (satire)
Several months into civil unrest in Iran, the protests and their violent suppression now attract little or no coverage in Western media, participants noted today, the same media that engages in breathless commentary on minor developments in the century-old struggle between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land.

Protesters and security personnel alike noted today that as economic woes, religious coercion, and political dissent explode in episodic demonstrations that the mullahs in Tehran greets with deadly force and which may threaten the stability of the regime and region, outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, British Broadcasting Corporation, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, and the Associated Press no longer find these protests a fresh or compelling development to report, preferring to focus on abortive unrest in the Gaza Strip that has little potential to effect noticeable change in a conflict that has simmered since the late nineteenth century.

“We get a nod here and there in someone’s Twitter,” acknowledged Waddamai Chopdlivar, whose daughter has been jailed for removing her hijab in public. “But mostly, the big Western media folks have gotten bored of our campaign for freedom, since it’s already a few months old – maybe a few years, if you draw a direct line to the Green Movement of the previous decade. That must be old hat compared to the vial freshness of Jews and Arabs slugging it out over the course of a hundred-forty years or so. I can just feel the relevance and newness of yet another violent encounter between Arab rioters and Jews. No wonder they get all the attention.”

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