Friday, April 20, 2018

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: An open letter to the Muslim world
Dear Muslim world,

The State of Israel is 70 years old today and I am writing from its capital city, Jerusalem.

I realize that for most of you, the words I have just written will cause your gorge to rise. In Israel, they are a source of jubilation.

Israel’s rebirth as the Jewish national homeland out of the ashes of the Holocaust was in itself an astonishing achievement, unique in the annals of the world.

For it to have survived the unparalleled attempts to destroy it ever since is regarded by many as nothing short of miraculous.

Yesterday was Israel’s annual remembrance day. When the sirens sounded, the country paused and bowed its head. It’s the day when Israel mourns the price in blood it has had to pay for existing at all: 23,646 fallen Israeli soldiers and 3,134 Israeli civilians murdered through terrorism.

More than 26,000 dead—with most of the military casualties consisting of Israel’s precious young who must be conscripted to defend their country—purely because there are people determined to prevent the Jews from living in their own ancestral homeland.

But you know all about that because you are the people killing them.

You are the people who have been trying to destroy the Jewish homeland for the better part of a century. Look how hard you’ve tried. You’ve used war. You’ve used terrorism. You’ve used the Palestinian Arabs as pawns. You’ve used the diplomatic game. You’ve used economic boycotts.

Despite all this, you have been forced to watch as Israel has not only survived but become the strongest state in the region, stronger even than many countries in the developed world.

Einat Wilf with Shany Mor: Celebrating the argument
Zionism and the State of Israel are unique examples of a movement of national liberation, and a state, established as ongoing debates, claim Einat Wilf with Shany Mor. Democratic debate about the character and future of the state has been at once a necessity, a virtue, a strength and a saving grace; in fact it has defined who we are. Here’s to the next 70 years of the argument.

What is the Jewish state? This is the title of a talk I thoroughly enjoy giving, particularly to delegations – mostly of non-Jews – who come to Israel for the first time. At the outset, I promise that, if successful, at the end of my talk, my listeners will be more confused about the issue than they are at present.

In the talk, I walk through the span of Jewish history, emphasising the manner in which modernity gave birth to a wide variety of Jews, including devout atheists and committed Zionists such as myself, all the way to Haredi Jews, whose raising of the walls is in itself a modern phenomenon, conceived in response to the challenge of modernity. Once their heads spins with Zionist atheists, Haredi Jews, Religious Zionists, Reform and Conservative, and just plain Yom-Kippur-synagogue-attending-Shabbat-driving-shrimp-eating Jews, I explain that in the absence of a Pope and a Church hierarchy, and given that Jewish texts and traditions created over thousands of years offer sufficient material to support every possible world view, we have no way to determine what is the ‘right’ way to be Jewish and the ‘wrong’ way to be Jewish. We are then left with no choice but to do what Jews are known for doing: arguing.

From here emerges my definition of the Jewish state – the definition to end all definitions, if I may: The Jewish state is the one state in the world where we get to argue about what it means to be the Jewish state. Herein lies the essence of the Jewish state: the ongoing debate about its very nature. And this has been the case ever since the days of the First Zionist Congress. Zionism and the State of Israel have always been sites of an ongoing and fierce debate about the very fundamental question of what it means to be the Jewish state.

This has been the key insight of Zionism. Contrary to the common view that great undertakings require unity, Zionism progressed through unity-in-diversity. Yes, there was a broad agreement to move forward to some form of Jewish self-government – there was no agreement even that it should be a state – but beyond that, everything has been up for debate.
JPost Editorial: From Truman to Trump
Truman’s conflicting policies seem to reflect conflicting influences. Truman was a Christian Zionist who was a fierce believer in Jewish statehood in the Holy Land for religious reasons. From a moral perspective, he was haunted by the Holocaust and saw in a Jewish state rectification of a historic injustice. Pragmatically speaking, he realized that Americans would oppose large-scale immigration to the US and that the creation of a Jewish state would provide an option.

At the same time, Truman was up against the US State Department and the British government, which were pro-Arab and which, therefore, strongly opposed US involvement in the creation of Israel for fear it would hurt relations with Arab nations. Also, Truman, who sought, and won, the US presidency in the 1948 election, factored in the Jewish vote in electoral considerations. Perhaps he realized that his de facto support for Jewish statehood was enough and that it was politically unnecessary to be more outspokenly pro-Zionist in a way that would hurt his relations with the State Department, the British and the Arab world.

Undoubtedly, Truman’s support was instrumental in helping bring about the creation of the state. The tradition continues with President Donald Trump, who has proven to be a real friend of Israel and who in a tweet for Independence Day, reiterated his promise that next month the US Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Still, the real work of building a viable Jewish state was not, and still is not, in the White House or in the UN’s corridors, but on the ground in the Land of Israel. It is no less than amazing that a group of ragtag emigrants from Europe and Arab countries and refugees from the Holocaust, who did not even speak the same language, managed to come together and fight to overcome a vastly larger Arab military force. To this day we have never asked a single US soldier to fight our fight.

As we celebrate the state’s 70th year of existence, its creation remains an odds-defying story of how improbable developments came together leading to a wildly successful endeavor.

And US support for Israel, which began with Truman and continues to this day with President Donald Trump, has been critical to this success.

The Red Mailbox
Back to this memory: I was just returning from the Yom Kippur War and as I walked up the path to my building, I noticed that my mailbox was painted red. It was the only one among all the mailboxes marked in red. Even the few letters in my mailbox were glued together by that red paint.

Of course, I was stunned, even a little angry, and I immediately turned to an elderly gentleman who usually sat at the entrance of the building sipping tea with nana (mint) leaves. He seemed to be some kind of senior leader who took care of the building’s affairs, and he wore a beautifully knit skullcap. I told him that I very rarely had anything to say concerning anything to do with the building and that I could not, for the life of me, fathom what these residents had against me personally so as to so visibly single out my mailbox.

He said that there was no reason to be upset or offended, and that my return alive and healthy may well have been because of them and their actions. He said that they knew that I was away fighting for the State of Israel and the Jewish people and so they painted my mailbox red so that the Angel of Death would skip over my threshold — just like in the Passover story when our ancestors painted their doorposts red so that the Angel of Death would skip over the Jews.

It was at that moment that I realized that the blood flowing in the veins of these new immigrants, whose mentality I could not understand, was the same Jewish blood that flowed through mine. The simple fact was that we were all Jews in our Jewish homeland. In that one moment my whole attitude began to change and I actually began to establish unlikely friendships with some of those neighbors. I understood their love of their fellow Jew, their love of the Land of Israel and their love of the IDF.

This was my lesson in not judging others based on superficial things.

This is my Israel.
Daniel Gordis: Israel's First 70 Years Have Surprised the World
In November 1947, one day prior to the expected United Nations vote on partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the CIA urged President Harry Truman not to throw his weight behind the idea. America would have to defend the new Jewish state when it faltered, the CIA’s secret memorandum warned, adding that “the Jews will be able to hold out no longer than two years.”

Several months later, David Ben-Gurion was about to declare the establishment of the State of Israel. Seated among the dozen or so men who would determine the fate of the state-to-be, he famously turned to one of his top military commanders, Yigael Yadin, and asked him if he thought a new Jewish state would survive the military onslaught that the Arabs would inevitably launch. Yadin, who would later serve as chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, replied that he thought the Jewish state would have a 50-50 chance.

Today, those bleak assessments feel like ancient history. As the modern Israeli state celebrates 70 years, the prevailing sentiment is one of extraordinary accomplishment. American Jewish leaders were incensed in 1948 when Ben-Gurion came to the U.S. and spoke about the fledgling state as the new center of the Jewish world; today, that status is nowhere in doubt.

In 1948, there were some 650,000 Jews in Israel, who represented about 5 percent of the world's Jews. Today, Israel’s Jewish population has grown ten-fold and stands at about 6.8 million people. Some 43 percent of the world’s Jews live in Israel; this population overtook American Jews several years ago and is now the world’s largest Jewish community. Israel’s birthrate, even among secular Jews, is higher than that of any other OECD country, and significantly higher than that of American Jews (who now account for some 34 percent of Jews worldwide).
Israel Receives Well-Wishes From Around Globe as It Celebrates 70th Independence Day
Israel has received well-wishes from around the world as it celebrates its 70th Independence Day.

US President Donald Trump tweeted, “Best wishes to Prime Minister @Netanyahu and all of the people of Israel on the 70th Anniversary of your Great Independence. We have no better friends anywhere. Looking forward to moving our Embassy to Jerusalem next month!”

Netanyahu replied, “Thank you, President Trump! We too have no better friend than America. We are greatly looking forward to your moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital.”

Acting US Secretary of State John Sullivan stated, “The State of Israel has prevailed over every challenge it has faced over the past 70 years. In just a short time, the people of Israel have created a successful nation that has flourished and continues to thrive.”

“Israel and the United States have an unshakeable bond that has endured and grown even stronger over the past seven decades,” Sullivan continued. “As President Trump said in Jerusalem last May, ‘…let us never forget that the bond between our two nations is woven together in the hearts of our people — and their love of freedom, hope, and dignity for all.’ The United States will continue to be a steadfast ally of Israel and will stand together with you today, and always.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said, “Best wishes to those celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the State of Israel. Israel is a close friend and partner of the UK and we fully support Israel as a Jewish Homeland. We look forward to continuing cooperation between our two countries.”
Israel Prize recipient Miriam Peretz moves nation with call to unity
Bereaved mother and educator Miriam Peretz touched the hearts of every Israeli on Thursday while accepting the lifetime achievement Israel Prize for strengthening the Jewish-Israeli spirit.

In a moving speech at the event marking the end of Independence Day, Peretz asked Israelis to celebrate their shared values rather than focus on what divides them

"Among the prize recipients, there are those who have experienced a tragic loss but have continued to hold their heads up high, and they continue to work toward the betterment of society," she said. "If we go out and seek those who are not like us, we will feel and see the happiness that fills their eyes of sorrow; and even if we have a gulf between us, we will know how to bridge it. We all want to live and we all pursue peace; this home belongs to all of us, and no political camp has exclusive ownership over patriotism," she said. " We all want to see our grandchildren build a home here, travel the country and enjoy its scenery. We all hope that we can build an exemplary society based on the values of the biblical prophets and that is why we have a shared responsibility. In this puzzle called Israel, there is a place for everyone and even if only one piece is missing, it will be incomplete. That is why I am unwilling to give up on any part of my nation."

Peretz was born in Casablanca, Morocco, and came to Israel in 1964 at the age of 10 and later became a teacher and school principal. A mother of six, her two oldest sons were killed in the line of duty while serving in the IDF Golani Brigade – Uriel was killed in Lebanon in 1998 at the age of 22 and Eliraz was killed in the Gaza Strip in 2010 at age 31.

After her sons' deaths, Peretz became an inspirational speaker and has devoted her life to educational activity with teenagers and soldiers, and continues to work as an educator.

Arab MKs participate in Palestinian march mourning Israel's founding
Some 10,000 people, including Israeli Arab lawmakers, participated Thursday in a march mourning Israel's founding.

The "March of the Uprooted" is organized by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and is held annually on Independence Day to mark the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel's War of Independence, known in Arabic as the "Nakba" ("catastrophe").

Arab MKs, public figures and mayors in Arab towns, as well as left-wing and human rights activists participated in the march, which took place near Atlit, a coastal town south of Haifa.

Protesters hoisted Palestinian flags and shouted slogans condemning the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some chanted, "This is our land," "We will never give up the fight," and "We'll sacrifice our lives for Palestine."

"This is the day when the Palestinians are united in memory and grief for shattered families. What happened then [in 1948] was a nakba – a human and national disaster by any measure," said Joint Arab List MK Ahmad Tibi.
Global community must recognize Hamas tactics in Gaza
If a protest is worth 1,000 words, then a glance at two very distinct protests is worth an entire thesis on why Israeli-Palestinian peace remains elusive.

As in any democracy, countless non-violent demonstrations take place in Israel and the West Bank in which no one is harmed. For Israeli security forces, even raucous protests are nothing new. However, far from holding peaceful protests on the Gaza border over the past two weekends, Hamas orchestrated violent clashes aimed at escalating the conflict – regardless of the costs to Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Last Saturday, Hamas again mobilized tens of thousands of Gazans to approach the Israeli border fence, where there have been violent (and tragically fatal) clashes with Israeli soldiers.

Within hours of the first such protests on March 31, the UN Security Council convened an emergency session and issued a statement condemning the “killing of civilians.” The UN Secretary General and various Western politicians called for an independent investigation, with a speed and emotion conspicuously absent on other pressing global matters.

All ignored the fact that, according to the Israeli military, most Gazan fatalities were operatives of Hamas and other terror groups, two of whom were killed after firing assault rifles at Israelis. (The Israeli military has said it will investigate any reports of civilian casualties.)

Ironically, Hamas was honest in this regard, publishing pictures of its slain “martyrs” dressed in combat gear. Hamas has since offered payments to protesters who are injured (the more serious the injury, the higher the payment).

Perhaps as disturbing, some in the West claimed that the protest was about legitimate Palestinian rights. They ignored the fact that Hamas’s “great march of return” is a clear statement that the group maintains its claim – expressed in the Hamas Covenant – to the entire land. To insist that Palestinian rights can only be realized by denying the rights of Israelis is to destroy any hope for peace and, ultimately, condemn another generation of Israeli and Palestinian children to conflict.
Ahead of Renewed Riots, Israel Drops Leaflets Warning Gazans Not to Approach Border
The IDF dropped leaflets in the Gaza Strip on Friday warning Palestinians not to approach the border fence with Israel as the military braced for fresh clashes along the frontier.

Thousands of Palestinians were expected to gather along the Israel-Gaza border, as they have every Friday over the past month for mass demonstrations that have turned violent and during which Israeli forces have killed 31 Palestinian rioters.

Each week, rioters have hurled stones and burning tires near the border fence, where Israeli army sharpshooters are deployed.

Israel has accused the Islamist terrorist group Hamas of staging the riots and trying to carry out attacks.

“The Hamas terror organization is taking advantage of you in order to carry out terror attacks. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is prepared for all scenarios. Stay away from the fence and do not attempt to harm it,” said the leaflets scattered by Israeli aircraft in the early morning in areas along the border.

Senior Likud MK appeals directly to Gazans in Arabic: ‘Quit terror’
A senior member of the Likud party, who once headed the Shin Bet internal security service, on Friday took to Facebook to issue a direct appeal to the residents of the Gaza Strip to eschew violence and abandon leaders advocating terror against the Jewish state.

Speaking in fluent Arabic, Avi Dichter — currently chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign and Affairs and Defense Committee — warned that the current clashes on the Gaza border with Israel, dubbed the March of Return, risked turning into another great Nakba — the Arabic word for catastrophe, used by Palestinians to describe Israel’s Independence and their displacement in 1948.

“You won’t see any return, not through violence and not through chaos,” he warned.

In 1947, the UN General Assembly offered to split the British Mandate of Palestine into two states — one Jewish, the other Palestinian, Dichter recalled. “You chose to wage war against Israel and that ended with you in Gaza,” he said.

“I know you, Gaza residents. Your memory is like the memory of someone ill with Alzheimer’s disease. Wake up!!”
Greenblatt says Palestinians have 'right to protest dire circumstances'
President Donald Trump’s top Middle East envoy affirmed the right of Palestinians “to protest their dire humanitarian circumstances” in the Gaza Strip adding that they should do so at a safe distance from Israel’s border with the strip and with no violence.

“Palestinians in Gaza have the right to protest their dire humanitarian circumstances,” Jason Greenblatt said on Twitter late Thursday. “Organizers & leaders should focus on that message, not stoke the potential for more violence with firebombs & flaming kites, and must keep a safe distance from the border.” He referred to reports of violent provocateurs among the protesters.

There was no affirmation of the Palestinian “right” to protest in Greenblatt’s previous pronouncement on the protests, on April 5; Instead, it was a stern caution to protest leaders “to communicate loudly and clearly that protestors should march peacefully; should abstain from all forms of violence; should remain outside the 500-meter buffer zone; and should not approach the border fence in any way or any location.”

Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian negotiator with whom Greenblatt is friendly, said recently that Greenblatt’s statements only consider Israeli sensibilities. Greenblatt had said earlier there was “no truth” to Erekat’s accusation.
Islamic Jihad sets sniper sights on top IDF commanders in threatening new video
The Gaza-based, Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on Thursday released a video showing IDF soldiers and senior officers in the crosshairs of a sniper, threatening the commanders on Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

In the video, the sniper appears to train his sights on Israeli troops and officers at the Gaza border fence. Among those seen is Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Defense Ministry’s outgoing head of liaison to the Palestinians, as well as Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir.

“You murder our people in cold blood and think you are protected, when the scopes of our snipers have been set on your senior commanders,” the terror group wrote in Hebrew and Arabic at the end of the video.

The video shows the sniper in a house in Gaza along with other Islamic Jihad members while observing the generals, who are seen alongside other IDF soldiers.
Israel threatens to kill Hamas leaders in response to Islamic Jihad video
A senior Israeli minister threatened to resume assassinations of Hamas leaders after the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on Thursday released a video showing IDF soldiers and senior officers in the crosshairs of a sniper.

“The threats by the PIJ Terror organization to shoot at IDF officers by snipers from Gaza, constitutes crossing a red line,” Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz tweeted. “Hamas must know that any attack on IDF commanders at the border to Gaza will immediately lead to a renewal of targeted killings of the Hamas leadership.”

Iranian general warns all Israel air bases ‘within reach,’ no escape but the sea
The vice commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned Israel Friday that its airbases are “within reach” and Iran’s “hands are on the trigger and missiles are ready,” in apparent reaction to Israel’s publication on Tuesday of a map showing five Tehran-controlled bases in Syria, and boasted that Israel will have nowhere to go but the sea.

“Israel: Don’t trust in your airbases; they’re within reach,” Hossein Salami wrote on Twitter, also making similar comments in a fiery speech.

Israel, said Hossein Salami, was living “in the dragon’s mouth.” Both northern and western Israel were “in the range of our missiles,” he threatened, in a speech given in Tehran.

“Wherever you are in the occupied land, you’ll be under fire from us, from east and west. You became arrogant. If there’s a war, the result will be your complete elimination,” he said.

“Your soldiers and civilians will flee, and you won’t survive. And you’ll have nowhere to run, except to fall into the sea.”
Area C is Strategically Vital for Israel
This dispute should be presented in its true colors. It involves contrasting understandings of Israel’s national mission and the issue of reclaiming the Jewish ancestral homeland, as well as different ways of assessing the security aspects of the situation. The dispute is not between those advocating judicious pragmatism and those caught up in an ideological vision that ignores the constraints of reality. The latter, too, are committed to pragmatic navigation that surmounts obstacles. It appears, though, that not only are the two parties’ goals different, but their compasses are differently calibrated.

In line with the traditional security concept of the pioneering Zionist movement, my pragmatic navigation regards extensive settlement of Area C as the key to strategic stability. The more Israelis settle in this area, the more others will come to view Israel’s presence as an unalterable reality with which it is best to reconcile. That is why the EU chose to get so openly involved in shaping this territory in the Palestinians’ favor.

Goodman’s recommendations run counter not only to the vision of the settlement enterprise in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, but also to the way in which Rabin viewed Israel’s national interests in this territory.

“The only way to maintain the existing situation is to change it.” With those words Goodman ended his article. I certainly agree. The dispute, however, is over the direction of the change. Contrary to Goodman’s recommendations, Israel must increase its settlement activities with the goal in mind of three million Jews living in Area C, notably the Jordan Valley. Given that this area is almost totally bereft of Palestinian population, such a development is bound to strengthen Israel’s national security while having a negligible impact on its demographic balance, and none whatsoever on its continued existence as a Jewish and democratic state.
Romanian minister says country to move embassy to J'lem, but president denies
Romania will soon move its embassy to Jerusalem, Liviu Dragnea, the president of the Chamber of Deputies and a member of Romania's ruling party said Thursday.

Speaking in an interview with the Romanian TV channel ANTENA 3, Dragnea revealed that the decision was made Wednesday night.

Romania will become the fourth country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, following the United States, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed in a speech to diplomats at the President's Residence in Jerusalem Thursday that more countries were on the way. He said preferential treatment would be given to the first 10 countries that move their embassies.

"One way to advance peace is to move your embassies here," Netanyahu told the diplomats. "President Trump's decision to move his embassy here says simply that peace must be based on truth. Recognizing reality is the path to build peace."

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely flew to Romania on April 10 in what her office described as the first leg of a campaign to persuade countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem.
Israeli Writer Amos Oz: All Countries Should Follow Trump and Move Embassies to Jerusalem
Every country should “follow the example of President Trump” and move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem, famed Israeli author Amos Oz said in an interview published on Wednesday.

The author of A Tale of Love and Darkness made the comment during a conversation with the German publication Deutsche Welle on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. Oz was talking about being born in Jerusalem in 1939, when the Holocaust was starting to unfold, and his views on the city today as it stands. He said he has “mixed feelings” about Jerusalem and was unsure of what will happen to the city in the future, but was certain about what should happen with the embassies in the Jewish state.

Following his remarks about President Trump, Oz — a long-time advocate of the two-state solution — added, “simultaneously there should be an embassy of all countries in the world in East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine.”

Oz added that he would take part in celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary. He explained, “If I compare the kind of world into which I was born to the world of today, it’s not that today’s world strikes me as paradise or as heaven, but I was born into the world of Nazi Germany…I think that this very rough, cruel, bloody world of today is less bloody, cruel and hopeless than the world of the early 1940s.”
Netanyahu: At least six states in ‘serious’ talks to move embassies to Jerusalem
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday at least six countries were in talks with Israel to move their embassies to Jerusalem. He implored countries to follow the United States and Guatemala in making the move, saying it would advance peace efforts, and promised “preferential treatment” to the first ten embassies relocated to Israel’s capital.

“We’re happy about [US] President [Donald] Trump’s decision to move the embassy here. It says a simple thing: Peace must be based on truth,” Netanyahu told foreign diplomats at an Independence Day event at President Reuven Rivlin’s official residence.

“Recognizing reality is the way to build peace. You cannot build peace on the basis of lies because it crashes against the rocks of reality,” he added. “The fact that Israel has a capital city, that the Jewish people has had a capital city for 3,000 years named Jerusalem, is undeniable. It is time to acknowledge that fact.

“I am happy to say there are at least half-a-dozen countries seriously talking with us about relocating their embassies to Jerusalem, and thank you Guatemala for doing so. There will be more following in your steps,” the prime minister said, without identifying the countries.
Preparations for US Embassy move completed
Israel and the US have nearly completed the preparations necessary to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The historic move is scheduled for May 14.

Among the preparations are road signs, as well as an access road for the Embassy built behind the current US Consulate.

The new Embassy will be an interim embassy facility in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, converting what is currently used as a US consulate into a temporary embassy. It will house US Ambassador David Friedman's office, and a small portion of the staff currently located at the embassy in Tel Aviv.

The Arnona compound will be expanded, with the addition of a new annex, likely by the end of 2019.

On Thursday, a report claimed that US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner would represent the administration at the Embassy's opening ceremony.
EU Parliament passes law against Palestinian incitement
The European parliament in Brussels adopted on Wednesday legislation preventing the transfer of funds from the European Union's PEGASE to the Palestinian Authority, if those funds are to be used for education to hatred.

THE EU Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control approved the change in March and this week it received the final approval.

PEGASE, which is described as a mechanism "to channel EU and international assistance as a contribution to the building of the Palestinian State," is the PA's main source of funding.

The new legislation determines that classes and instruction program funded using EU funds must reflect shared values such as peace, liberty, tolerance and non-discrimination in the education system.

The Israeli research institute IMPACT-SE at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which studies and analyzes official text books around the world, aided the European Union in formulating the legislation.

The institute's chief executive officer Marcus Sheff pointed out that "it's very strange that the PEGASE foundation has been transferring some 3 billion euros to the Palestinian Authority over the past 10 years - with large parts of this money going to the Palestinian education system - while all of those years the EU made no real attempt to ensure that the Palestinian students receive an education that is in line with European values of peace and tolerance."
Israeli checkpoint stops another massacre
I’ve had some very interesting correspondence lately. One exchange was with a senior official of a major American Jewish organization. Another was with a prominent Jewish writer.

Each of them had been publicly quoted as criticizing Israel for “occupying” the Palestinian Arabs. I wrote to them to point out that way back in 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew Israel’s forces from the areas where 98% of the Palestinians reside—thus effectively ending the “occupation.”

In both cases, they sent me the same response. They claimed the “occupation” still exists, because Israel maintains checkpoints that hamper the Palestinians’ freedom of movement. Likewise, former U.S. envoy Dennis Ross has claimed that Israel “controls the movement” of Palestinians and therefore is still guilty of “occupying” them.

This week, one of those checkpoints stopped yet another massacre of Israeli Jews. It happened at the northern checkpoint called Reihan. A Palestinian Arab truck driver tried to cross from Palestinian Authority territory into Israel. The soldiers did a routine check of the vehicle’s roof. They found a quantity of powerful explosives hidden in the truck’s air conditioning system.
Hamas lays down conditions for prisoner swap
The Hamas terror organization insists Israel release all of its terrorists and follow the Geneva Conventions during the time the terrorists are in prison.

Hamas does not follow the Geneva Conventions.

In a statement, Hamas promised to redouble its efforts to release all terrorists via an "honorable deal."

As a precondition to a prisoner swap, Hamas insisted Israel release all "Shalit deal" terrorists who were re-arrested due to renewed involvement in terror activities.

IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was captured in 2006 in a Hamas attack. He was released in 2011, in exchange for over 1,000 convicted terrorists. Since then, Hamas has promised and carried out additional kidnappings, in efforts to replicate a similar deal.

Hamas demanded Egypt, which has served as a go-between on the issue, press Israel to release the Shalit deal terrorists. They also requested that the Red Cross press Israel to implement the Geneva Conventions.

Turning to the imprisoned terrorists, Hamas said, "Our enemy does not understand anything but the language of force," promising to do everything in its power to force Israel to release them.
Key faction threatens to boycott rare PLO parliament session
A Palestinian Liberation Organization faction said on Thursday it would not attend a meeting of the most important Palestinian political congress in years because it wants more factions to be included.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it would boycott the rare Palestinian National Council session, after a requested postponement to allow factions like Hamas and the Islam Jihad to attend was not granted, the group said in a statement issued in Cairo on Thursday.

The PFLP is the second-largest PLO faction after Fatah, the group headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO. The faction's absence would be a blow to Abbas' efforts to win a broad consensus on resolutions.

"The PFLP's decision will lead to weakening the legitimacy of the PNC meeting and the legitimacy of decisions it may take," said Gaza-based political analyst Hani Habeeb.

The 700-member council session is scheduled to convene in Ramallah on April 30 to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital last December, a shift in U.S. policy that has outraged the Palestinians.

State Department Maintains Iran Not Violating Nuclear Deal
A senior State Department official maintained in a tense exchange before Congress this week that Iran is not violating the landmark nuclear deal, despite evidence the Islamic Republic continues weapons and enrichment activities that go against the intention of the agreement.

State Department official David Satterfield, an acting assistant secretary in the bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told lawmakers on Wednesday that Iran continues to abide by the deal.

Under tense questioning by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.), Satterfield repeated a line of talking points rejected by many Republicans in Congress.

"Has Iran violated the letter of the JCPOA?" Zeldin asked, using the official acronym for the deal.

"The IAEA has not found significant violations," Satterfield responded.
US: Russia, Syria trying to 'sanitize' chemical attack site
The Pentagon said on Thursday that while there were no signs the Syrian government was preparing to launch a chemical weapons attack, President Bashar Assad still retained the ability to launch limited attacks.

U.S. assessments following the U.S., British and French joint missile strikes on Syria last weekend show they had only a limited impact on Assad's ability to carry out chemical weapons attacks.

"They do retain a residual capability. It is probably spread throughout the country at a variety of sites," said Lt. Gen. General Kenneth McKenzie, joint staff director.

"They will have the ability to conduct limited attacks in the future, I would not rule that out," McKenzie said during a Pentagon briefing.

The United States, France and Britain destroyed three targets tied to Syria's weapons program. The most important of them was the Barzah Research and Development Center, which U.S. intelligence concluded was involved in the production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology.
International inspection vehicles arrive at site of Syria chemical weapons attack
A vehicle that appeared to have a license plate of the kind used by international organizations was in the area close to the site of the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Douma on Friday under Russian escort, a Reuters witness said.

The arrival of the vehicle comes three days after a UN security team turned back while doing reconnaissance in Douma or the visit of a team of international inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Journalists were not allowed to approach the convoy that included the vehicle by Syrian security forces. The identity of the car's occupants or which organization they belonged to was not clear.

Meanwhile, the United States has said that it has credible information that Russia and Syria are trying to "sanitize" the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria while denying access to the area by international inspectors, the State Department said on Thursday.
Russia’s ‘moral obligation’ not to sell air defense to Syria is over — Lavrov
The US attack on Syria has absolved Russia of its “moral obligation” to hold back on supplying an advanced air defense system to Syria, the Russian foreign minister said Friday.

His remarks came a day after a former head of Israeli military intelligence said that if Syria obtained the advanced S-300 system, Israeli would probably blow it up.

Sergey Lavrov claimed that the Russians had made their red lines clear to the Americans before the attack by the US, UK and France a week ago.

That attack was launched in response to a suspected gas attack mounted on April 7 on Douma, near Damascus, in which more than 40 people were reported killed. Western powers blame the attack on Syrian President Bashar Assad.

It targeted a scientific research facility near Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of the city of Homs, and a third location near Homs that contained both a command post and a chemical weapons equipment storage facility, the US military said.
Haley Stands by Allies, Slams Russia Following Release of Report on U.K. Nerve Agent Attack
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday spoke to theU.N. Security Council following the release of a report on the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, United Kingdom, calling on members to condemn the use of a Russian nerve agent on British soil.

Haley thanked the U.K. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Karen Pierce for her update on events in Salisbury before discussing the broader danger of chemical weapons attacks of its nature and calling on the international community to take a firm stand against the use of chemical weapons.

"None of us will be immune from this threat unless we immediately start rebuilding our consensus against chemical weapons," Haley said.

Later in her remarks, warned against the danger of the use of weapons of mass destruction becoming "routine."

"There is nothing more troubling than the idea that the use of a weapon of mass destruction becomes routine," Haley said. "Last year it was Malaysia and Khan Shaykhun. Last month it was Salisbury. Last week it was Douma."

Haley also called out Russia specifically, referring to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons's (OPCW) independent report that confirmed the U.K.'s lab analysis that the agent used in the Salisbury attack originated in Russia.
What makes Iron Dome so important to Israelis?
Ahead of the 70th Independence Day celebrations, a majority of Israelis decided the Iron Dome air defense system was the greatest Israeli invention of all times. That was not an easy choice, considering we are blessed with creative minds, scholars and entrepreneurs who excel in world-renowned, out-of-the-box thinking, from academics to the NASDAQ (in which Israel is the most represented country after the US).

In a way, the choice of Iron Dome is obvious: It’s a purely Israeli project, the result of persistent swimming against the current, and it concretely affects a broad range of aspects in the lives of citizens. Iron Dome is not just a military invention, but rather a defense system that helps to prevent wars and potentially bring peace.

The choice of most Israelis is therefore a hopeful one.

The credit for the Iron Dome system goes first and foremost to its developers, eight of whom won the Israel Defense Prize in 2012. That group of eight convinced me of the system’s merits and I decided to authorize its development.

My decision to approve the project faced tremendous pressures from the senior ranks of the defense system, the government and the media saying I should not have done so. When I met the team of developers at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, I asked them to make an exceptional effort and work on the project two shifts a day. They returned to me and said: “Amir, considering its national significance, we will work nonstop, three shifts a day.” They are worthy of all respect and appreciation.

Two experiences in the past decade made me understand that one cannot compromise the defense of the home front.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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