Wednesday, May 16, 2018

05/16 Links Pt2: Making Up International Law For Fun and Sport; Western celebrities, Israel and inferiority complexes

From Ian:

Noah Pollak: Making Up International Law For Fun and Sport
Media coverage of Hamas's attacks on the Israeli border have been, as usual, a dumpster fire of idiocy and ignorance. Hamas itself now admits that "50 of the 62 martyrs" were card-carrying terrorists. One of the heads of Hamas just boasted to an interviewer: "This is not peaceful resistance." No facts or admissions will intrude on the media narrative, which is that Israel is diabolically slaughtering civilians because Israelis enjoy killing people.

One of the tropes that is being repeated everywhere is this one, promoted here with complete credulity by the New York Times:
International law allowed for the use of lethal force only as a last resort in the face of an immediate threat to life or serious injury, Mr. Colville noted. Those laws "appear to have been ignored again and again," he added.

"An attempt to approach, or crossing or damaging the green line fence do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition," he said.

This farcical claim originates with "human rights" groups such as Human Rights Watch (whose Israel director, Omar Shakir, is a BDS activist) and Amnesty International (which calls for an arms embargo on Israel).

The problem is this alleged requirement of "international law" doesn't exist. It is made-up, an example of the new trend of human rights groups claiming "international law" that doesn't actually exist in, say, the Geneva Conventions, but is merely what these groups wish was enshrined in international law because it gives their hatred of Israel a sheen of moral high-mindedness and impartiality.
‘The Ugly American’: Official Palestinian Authority Daily Demonizes US History and Politics in Attack on Jerusalem Embassy Move
The Palestinian Authority’s main daily newspaper launched a vitriolic attack on the United States this week, following the opening on Monday of the new American Embassy in the Israeli capital, Jerusalem.

In language reminiscent of Palestinian propaganda targeting the legitimacy of Zionism and Israel, an official editorial in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on May 15 portrayed the US as a nation bereft of moral principles, and a creature of colonialism.

“None of the American administrations were noted for nobility of spirit or for human traits such as compassion, tolerance and understanding of the other,” the editorial — translated by analysts at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) — stated. “America has always employed brutal policies towards small and poor nations. That is how it behaved toward the Native Americans, whom it called ‘Indians,’ during the violent and blood-soaked period of its birth.”

The editorial went on to strongly recommend the writings of Munir Akash — a Syrian-born American academic who has previously accused the US of promoting the mass sterilization of women in the developing world.

The editorial brandished “The Ugly American” — a factually-based political novel about US diplomacy in Southeast Asia that caused a sensation in the late 1950s when it was first published, but is a less-familiar cultural reference today — as the main evidence of US malign intent throughout its 242-year history.

“It would be difficult to continue relating all the stories that appear in The Ugly American, which are full of bloodshed, systematic violence, a culture of brutality and attacks on small nations,” the editorial asserted — listing alleged traits of the US that are routinely associated with Israel and Jews in the Palestinian media

Douglas Murray: The Suicide Of Europe
"The civilization born of Judeo-Christian values, ancient Greek philosophy and the discoveries of the Enlightenment is staring at the abyss, brought there by its own hand," says Douglas Murray, author of "The Strange Death of Europe," in a new PragerU video. "To put it starkly: Europe is committing suicide."

"How did this happen?" asks Murray. "It’s a complicated story, but there are two major causes. The first is the mass movement of peoples into Europe. This has been going on steadily since the end of World War II but sped up massively in the migration crisis of 2015, when more than a million migrants poured into Europe from the Middle East, North Africa and East Asia."

The second cause, argues Murray, is that "Europe lost faith in itself — its beliefs, its traditions and even its very legitimacy."

PMW: Trump drowns, Israel comes to an end, because "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine" - in Fatah animation
In response to the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem yesterday, and in condemnation of the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Abbas' Fatah Movement posted an animated video on Facebook showing US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drowning in the ocean. Posted text and a sign in the video declare that "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine":

The video shows Netanyahu and Trump floating on a raft at sea with Israeli and American flags and a sign saying "US Embassy" in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Trump is holding a piece of paper on which is written "Jerusalem capital of Israel," while a recording of his statement "and Jerusalem is Israel's capital" is heard. Immediately after his declaration the raft breaks in two, and Trump drowns together with the Israeli flag; Netanyahu jumps into the water and disappears. The embassy sign flips, and the reverse side of it reads: "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine." A ship flying the UN flag and the flags of a number of countries including Ireland, Turkey, Lebanon, and other Arab states then pulls up to stop by the raft. On the ship an elderly woman wearing a Palestinian flag and a younger woman dressed in black are waving.
US and Israel will drown in the ocean, says official Fatah Facebook

Seth Frantzman: Western celebrities, Israel and inferiority complexes
Floyd Mayweather, the boxer, was apparently hanging out at a mall in Dubai in early May. He wasn’t the only one. A long list of other famous people were nearby. Most of them didn’t even get their photos taken, because no one cared. Meanwhile, in Israel, some people were unhappy when rapper Azealia Banks tweeted after having a bad experience with airport security that she wouldn’t return to the country.

She joins a long list of celebrities – some no longer famous or only so in the 1970s – whose stories the media tell us in the hope Israel gained the latest stamp of approval. Every musician who comes to Israel somehow becomes a bellwether of Israeli success. Nick Cave is coming. Victory. Lorde didn’t come. Sad. Roger Waters dislikes Israel. More sad. But Israel has got Jon Bon Jovi, Elton John and Alanis Morissette.

But wait. Just when you thought things were going well, some group that supports a boycott of Israel puts out a new meme. Apparently Mel Gibson, Woody Harrelson, Javier Bardem, Danny Glover and Matt Damon have not come to Israel. I don’t even know who Bardem is. Wasn’t Harrelson only good in that movie about basketball? Does Israel need Mel Gibson?

The obsession with celebrities and the need for approval from them is a constant theme in Israel’s media. It is not so much a theme among average Israelis. They tend to be content with their own celebrities and couldn’t care less about some singer from the 1980s who didn’t come to the Jewish state. Unfortunately major media tend to interpret these celebrity visits, or lack thereof, as if the country’s reputation and future depends on them. It’s a bit like the pathetic kid at the playground in constant need of affirmation from the local football star. “Oh, please, please, come over here and give me attention, just a tiny bit.”

The peak of this celebrity-affirmation obsession came when Natalie Portman canceled an appearance at an award ceremony. She was awarded the Genesis Prize and was supposed to come to receive it in Israel. Instead she chose not to. It was never entirely clear why. She implied that it had something to do with the clashes in Gaza, while others said it had more to do with the attendance at the ceremony of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The real reason is probably more complex. But what is not complex are the reactions to her decision.
Machine gun fire from Gaza hits nearby Israeli homes, no injuries
Several homes in the Israeli city of Sderot were hit by machine gun fire, apparently fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip, causing damage but no injuries, in one of three cross-border exchanges on Wednesday, the army said.

According to the city of Sderot, the shots were aimed at an army aircraft that had been flying overhead, and the bullets struck the homes as they fell back down to earth.

“A short while ago, shots were fired at an [Israel Defense Forces] aircraft. Rounds hit a number of homes in Sderot,” the city said in a statement.

This was one of three exchanges of fire that took place on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, shots were fired at Israeli soldiers stationed on the border, according to the army. There were no reports of injuries.

In response, an IDF tank fired on a Hamas military position in the northern Gaza Strip, the military said.
DEPRAVED: Chelsea Handler Compares Netanyahu To Hitler And Gaza to Auschwitz
If it wasn’t clear how much Chelsea Handler hates Israel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from her attack on Nikki Haley on Tuesday, two tweets she sent 15 minutes later made it abundantly clear, as she likened Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler and the Palestinians in Gaza, who are bent on Israel’s destruction, to the millions of Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust:

It would be like Hitler saying Auschwitz is all about HELPING the Jews stay warm. @nikkihaley
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) May 15, 2018

now the bibi craizies are running the show, unchecked and will effectively turn gaza and the left bank into starvation camps or mental asylums, if not already and bomb iran into submission... there will be a religious term for this. i think the evangelicals call it the rapture.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) May 15, 2018

Handler’s insane hatred of Israel and Netanyahu was condemned on Twitter:
MSNBC hosts: Trump's pro-Israel moves are 'appalling'
MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski slammed the Trump administration over its handling of the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday, lamenting that the White House did not demand Israel bar the expansion of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria in exchange for the move.

Speaking with NBC and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell Monday night, Brzezinski expressed support for Mitchell’s claim that President Trump’s pro-Israel moves vis-à-vis Jerusalem were “appalling”.

“It just to me is appalling that we have no vision at all,” Mitchell said of the embassy move.

“We got nothing for it, no pullback on settlements. There’s no balancing act here.”

“Really,” said Brzezki in agreement.

As Mitchell spoke with Scarborough and Brzezinski, MSNBC ran a banner on screen reading “A Tale of Two Cities: Ceremony in Jerusalem, Deadly Violence in Gaza”.

Scarborough and his fiancé and cohost Brzezinski also ripped the Trump family, including First Daughter Ivanka Trump, over its participation in the grand opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
BBC WS airs ‘Great Return March’ falsehoods and more
Listeners then heard false claims regarding the ‘Great Return March’ in which the majority of those killed during violent rioting since the end of March – rather than “in the last week” – were shown to be linked to terror organisations. Worricker made no effort whatsoever to challenge those falsehoods.

Hassan: “Absolutely, but if you want to talk about violence now, now in the last week Israel have killed 50 innocent people in Gaza who were just protesting peacefully. So violence is…what’s important is what’s happening now.”
Worricker: “Well let’s talk about what’s happening now because clearly there is a reason for having this conversation beyond the film that you made. We’re going to see in the coming days the American embassy in Israel moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And we’re going to see the anniversary of the events of 1948 which led to the creation of the State of Israel, so Israelis will celebrate that. Palestinians will regard that as – to use their word – a catastrophe. In other words, the sides are so, so, so far apart. Do you see any hope of anything changing?”
Apparently Worricker is not aware of the fact that Israelis will not be celebrating “in the coming days” an event they have already marked. Listeners then heard promotion of elimination of the Jewish state.
Hassan: “I think there’s always hope. I think nothing will ever stay…nothing ever stays the same. Things have to move. And I believe in a one-state solution. I’ve always believed in it. And…”
Worricker: “One state rather than two?”
Hassan: “Yeah. I think…wouldn’t you want a one-state solution? Why would you want a two-state solution? But what needs to happen is you have to create a humane environment and an equal environment for everyone. And then we can move forward.”
Worricker: “When you look at the way the Palestinians – particularly those in charge, whether it’s in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip – the way they have tried to conduct the campaign that they have conducted in recent years, when you look at the failings and the shortcomings, what should they have done differently?”
Hassan: “As a Palestinian I feel we are in our worst point of history. We don’t even have a proper political position. So lots of shortcomings are appearing and I agree with you but I also find them a natural conclusion to an unnatural and unjust situation.”

Worricker closed that second and distinctly less confrontational interview at that point.

As we see listeners to this long item heard inaccurate claims concerning US policy on Jerusalem and Israel’s Independence Day celebrations. Audiences also heard inaccurate claims relating to the events on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip and – as was the case in the very few reports produced when Israelis actually did celebrate the 70th anniversary of their country’s independence – promotion of the ‘Nakba’ and the campaign to eradicate the Jewish state known as the ‘one-state solution’ was also in evidence.
BBC News website coverage of May 14 Gaza rioting
As we know the BBC News website refrained from providing its audiences with any background information on the topic of preparations for the violent climax to the ‘Great Return March’ events.

Hence, audiences reading the site’s coverage of the events of May 14th had no idea that Hamas had planned that day in advance with the intention that a particularly high number of rioters would breach the border fence with the aim of forcibly entering Israeli territory and reaching nearby communities.

BBC audiences were not aware that Hamas had urged participants to “bring a knife or a gun” and to use them “to capture soldiers or residents of Israel” who, it stipulated, should be handed over to Hamas to be used as hostages.

The BBC News website produced a ‘live’ page titled “As it happened: Gaza protest violence” which actually included more entries relating to the same day’s ceremony marking the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem than it did reports on the events along the Israel-Gaza Strip border. Notably, no fewer than nine statements condemning Israel were also published on that live page, including some from political NGOs which engage in ‘lawfare‘ against Israel.
Indy evokes Syrian use of chemical weapons in accusing Israel of “gassing” a baby in Gaza
However, an official Independent editorial published around the same time as McKernan’s piece essentially ignored evidence that the girl may have died from a pre-existing condition, and used the incident to impute maximum Israeli guilt.

Here are the relevant paragraphs of the May 15th editorial, titled “Donald Trump has ruined any chance of a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict – and the American public knows it”.

When a single act of arrogant diplomacy can, utterly predictably, contribute to dozens of deaths – including, possibly, that of an eight-month-old infant from teargas poisoning – then, yes, there are special places reserved for such political leaders.

In this context it is worth reminding ourselves of the worldwide wave of revulsion against chemical weapons we have seen in recent weeks. Palestinian victims deserve the same sympathy and protests as anyone else when their children suffer from gassing.

These words clearly have the impact of conflating the Israeli use of non-lethal tear gas with illegal and deadly chemical weapons used by despotic regimes such as Syria. There’s no other conclusion that can be reached in their evocation of “the worldwide wave of revulsion against chemical weapons we have seen in recent weeks”, an apparent reference to the Syrian sarin and chlorine attack in Douma last month which killed dozens of civilians. The Indy uses a disputed allegation that Israeli tear gas resulted in the death of a baby in Gaza to tie Jerusalem to massacres involving “gassing” of innocent men, women and children.

There hasn’t been a shortage of inflammatory, misleading and inaccurate media claims during coverage of recent Gaza riots, but the insinuation of Israeli malevolence in this Indy editorial is among the worst we’ve reviewed.
BBC Breakfast blames Israel for Gaza baby death
Viewers of the May 15th edition of BBC Breakfast (aired on BBC One and BBC News) saw an interview conducted by Louise Minchin with a representative from the Israeli embassy in London, Michael Freeman.

Although the interview was presented as being about “violence in Gaza where 58 people were killed by Israeli troops”, the footage that viewers were shown throughout nearly a quarter of the item was in fact not filmed in the Gaza Strip and did not reflect the events along the border.

At 01:16 in the video below, Louise Minchin stated that a baby had been killed on May 14th.

Minchin: “Fifty-eight people have been killed. We understand that some of them were children, including a baby. Is this not excessive force?”

BBC’s Middle East editor ‘explains’ Gaza violence
However, Jeremy Bowen’s entire ‘explanation’ went like this:

“This is the outside wall of Shifa, Gaza’s main hospital, celebrating paramedics, fire-fighters. Emergency services were very busy here yesterday and inside the hospital there are a lot of people with gunshot wounds. There is shock here in Gaza at the scale of the killing. Yes, they were of course expecting casualties but more than fifty is a lot. That’s the biggest number killed since the war of 2014.

The thing about Gaza, the thing about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is that the issue at the heart of it doesn’t change. And that issue is that there are two peoples on one piece of land and until they can find a way to share it, they will continue to suffer.”

Completely absent from Bowen’s ‘why can’t they just get along?’ narrative was the fact that Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip almost thirteen years ago, relinquishing all territorial claims to it. Also missing was Hamas’ existential commitment to Israel’s destruction – as expressed in its founding charter, in the ‘rationale‘ behind its ‘Great Return March’ and in its continued use of terrorism against Israeli citizens.

The problem, therefore, is not that “two peoples” cannot find “a way to share”. The problem is that major factions within one of those peoples cannot tolerate the existence of the other under any circumstance.

That simple fact is precisely what Jeremy Bowen has avoided telling the BBC’s funding public for the past thirteen years and – as his latest trite report once again demonstrates – he will likely continue to do so.
The embassy move only angers the usual suspects. Even the Arab leaders have bigger problems now
So Israel’s U.S. embassy is where it belongs: Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. It took its sweet time getting there, but, thanks to the last person on Earth most Americans want to credit for any foreign-affairs success, Donald Trump, there it is. Mazel tov.

The usual suspects are bruiting their dismay and/or outrage, convinced that the embassy gambit will act as a provocation to the Palestinians and an obstacle to the “peace process.” Except there has been no peace process for years (arguably never on the Palestinian end), and everything Israel does in its own interest is seen as a provocation to Palestinians — or rather to Palestinian spokespeople. Palestinians themselves seem on the whole pretty sanguine about this development.

For times have changed. As the years go by, and a new generation of Palestinians considers the lay of the land politically, realism has taken hold of most of them. Realism demands the admission that Israel, now 70 years old, is not only the most stable country in the region, but the most united, prosperous and powerful — and there to stay. In 1951, the first State of Israel Bonds were issued with the hope of raising $25 million. They raised $50m. Those first investors thought it would be a miracle if they were repaid. They were. Today annual sales top $1 billion.

Nobody with eyes to see — except a few thousand hysterical Hamas-goosed Gazans — really believes Israel can be overcome by brute Arab force, even combined brute force of the kind that was supposed to take Israel out in 1967, and spectacularly failed. And that was when Israel was much weaker militarily by comparison to today. And that was when the Palestinians were useful to neighbouring Arab countries as an Israel-bashing club on the world stage.
Honest Reporting on i24 News: Is the US embassy legal?

Suburban Paris synagogue nixes chief rabbi event amid fear of violence over Gaza
Amid fears of anti-Semitic violence at anti-Israel protests in and around Paris, a synagogue of a southern suburb cancelled for undisclosed reasons an event featuring the city’s chief rabbi.

The event planned for Wednesday evening with Rabbi Michel Gugenheim at the Yaguel Yaacov synagogue in Montrouge was postponed abruptly hours before it was scheduled to begin. The Consistoire, French Jewry’s organization responsible for religious services, sent out an email to all of the recipients of its correspondence telling them the event had been postponed indefinitely.

The cancellation comes amid warnings by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, of an elevated risk for anti-Semitic violence at or around rallies planned for Wednesday over deadly clashes between Israeli forces and protesters near Israel’s border with Gaza on Monday.

Contacted by JTA, a Consistoire spokesperson and the spokesperson of the Jewish community of Montrouge declined to divulge any information regarding the reason for the cancellation.

Other communal events are scheduled to take place as planned, including a lecture by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday evening at a hotel in central Paris that is being organized by the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.

Currently, an anti-Israel protest rally is planned for Wednesday evening at Republique Square, which is located about a mile away from the hotel where the CRIF event is scheduled to take place.
Israeli lawmakers move to recognize Armenian genocide amid Turkey row
Amid fears of anti-Semitic violence at anti-Israel protests in and around Paris, a synagogue of a southern suburb cancelled for undisclosed reasons an event featuring the city’s chief rabbi.

The event planned for Wednesday evening with Rabbi Michel Gugenheim at the Yaguel Yaacov synagogue in Montrouge was postponed abruptly hours before it was scheduled to begin. The Consistoire, French Jewry’s organization responsible for religious services, sent out an email to all of the recipients of its correspondence telling them the event had been postponed indefinitely.

The cancellation comes amid warnings by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, of an elevated risk for anti-Semitic violence at or around rallies planned for Wednesday over deadly clashes between Israeli forces and protesters near Israel’s border with Gaza on Monday.

Contacted by JTA, a Consistoire spokesperson and the spokesperson of the Jewish community of Montrouge declined to divulge any information regarding the reason for the cancellation.

Other communal events are scheduled to take place as planned, including a lecture by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday evening at a hotel in central Paris that is being organized by the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.

Currently, an anti-Israel protest rally is planned for Wednesday evening at Republique Square, which is located about a mile away from the hotel where the CRIF event is scheduled to take place.
Guatemala opens embassy in Jerusalem with festive ceremony
Guatemala has opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, the second country to open an embassy in the Israeli capital after the United States.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales dedicated the embassy Wednesday, two days after a high-powered American delegation marked the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was fitting for Guatemala to be one of the first countries to relocate its embassy since Guatemala also followed the U.S. to be the second country to recognize Israel 70 years ago.

"You were always among the first," he said. "We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now."

Netanyahu said he was happy to welcome the Guatemalan delegation and said he wanted to discuss ways to promote bilateral ties. He also promised that he would kick off his next visit to Latin America in Guatemala City.

At Wednesday's ceremony, Morales said his country was bringing a message of "love, peace and fraternity" to Israel. The Guatemalan Congress recently passed a law designating May 14 "Israel-Guatemala Friendship Day."
Christian Allies celebrate U.S., Guatemala embassy moves in Knesset
Political and religious leaders from Israel, the US and Guatemala gathered in the Knesset on Wednesday to celebrate the American and Guatemalan embassies’ move to Jerusalem.

Knesset Christian Allies Caucus director Josh Reinstein explained that the embassies moving to the capital is proof that the caucus’s premise works.

“We’re celebrating the biggest victory of faith-based diplomacy that the world has ever seen,” Reinstein said. “We had this idea that you can take people who have biblical support for Israel and turn it into real political action and we can start doing things that people thought was unheard of, and that’s exactly what happened this week.”

The Christian Allies Caucus is a multiparty caucus of 19 members of Knesset, aiming to foster communication between Israeli legislators and Christian leaders and politicians around the world. There are 38 Israel Allies Caucuses in nations worldwide, under the auspices of the Israel Allies Foundation.

Congressman Juan Manuel Díaz-Durán, chairman of the Guatemalan Israel Allies Caucus, spoke at the event on behalf of his government.
Palestinians blast Guatemala over Jerusalem embassy opening
The Palestinians castigated Guatemala over the opening of its Jerusalem embassy earlier Wednesday, accusing the Central American nation of violating international law and using Christianity to justify the move.

“The Guatemalan government has chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, to side with violations of international law and human rights, and to take a hostile step against the Palestinian people and the Arab World,” said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Guatemala’s opening of its embassy in Jerusalem made it the second country to do so after the United States, which inaugurated its mission on Monday.

Wednesday’s embassy opening was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, who touted the move as “a new era in relations between us.”

Erekat accused Guatemala of using a “fundamentalist” Christianity to justify what he called a violation of internal resolutions.
Palestinians recall envoys to 4 EU nations that attended US embassy reception
The Palestinian Authority has recalled its envoys to Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria after their ambassadors attended an Israeli reception marking the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem, it said Wednesday.

The statement from the PA’s foreign ministry said the EU nations’ ambassadors had attended the reception on Sunday, a day before the US opened its Israel embassy in Jerusalem.

The embassy move and Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has deeply angered Palestinians, who see the eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.

The ministry “sees this participation as a grave breach of international law and United Nations resolutions which confirm that Jerusalem has been occupied since 1967 and ban countries from moving their embassies there,” the statement said.

“The recalls are to consult with our ambassadors to these states about their positions and their commitment to the EU’s positions.”
'Freedom Flotilla' sets sail from Sweden to the Gaza Strip
Three ships linked to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition left Gothenburg in Sweden on Tuesday, determined to break the blockade of Gaza, The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication Maariv reported.

The flotilla was led by a fishing boat named Al-Awda (Arabic for return), which left the Norwegian port of Bergen on April 30, and also included the Heria (Arabic for freedom) and Maird, named after Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate and BDS activist Mairead Maguire, who was on board a 2010 flotilla.

In the coming weeks, a fourth ship called Palestine is expected to join the flotilla, which will pass through ports in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. The crew, which consists of activists from 20 countries, including Israel, will change several times during the journey.

According to Canada Boat to Gaza website, the flotilla is expected to reach the Gaza Strip within 75 days.

“In response to the brutal Israeli blockade, for seven years the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has carried out nonviolent direct actions aimed at raising international awareness and putting pressure on the international community to end the blockade,” a statement on the website reads.
Human Rights Watch sues to block activist’s expulsion from Israel
The Human Rights Watch group on Wednesday filed a lawsuit asking an Israeli court to block the planned deportation of its local director.

Israel this month ordered Omar Shakir to leave the country, claiming he supports boycotts of Israel. HRW said that neither it nor Shakir, a US citizen, support boycotts, and accused Israel of trying to muzzle criticism of its human rights record.

The lawsuit, filed against Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, also accused Israel of improperly enforcing an anti-boycott law. It said the law, used to prevent boycott activists from entering the country, does not apply to people who are already in the country with valid visas.

“This outcome is blood-curdling as it means the creation of databases on the political views, opinions and statements of civilians,” the suit says.

In a video posted to his Twitter feed, Shakir said HRW has only called on businesses to stop operating in the West Bank, where, he claimed, entities “benefit from and contribute to serious violations of international law.”

“We also support the right of people to express themselves through nonviolent means including participating in boycotts,” he said.
NGO Monitor: Statement on Human Rights Watch Suit Against Israel
Today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that it was initiating legal proceedings against Israel over the decision to cancel the work permit of Omar Shakir, one of its employees. In response, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, stated:

Petitioning the courts on this matter may be counterproductive for Human Rights Watch, demonstrating their false denials on continual support for BDS campaigns against Israel. As documented systematically by NGO Monitor, HRW’s and Shakir’s statements include several substantial omissions and misrepresentations, including the absurd claim that “neither HRW – nor Shakir as its representative – advocate boycott, divestment or sanctions against companies that operate in the settlements, Israel or Israelis (sic).”

HRW and Shakir have falsely portrayed this issue as Israel’s attempt to silence criticism. Rather, the decision follows directly from his and his employer’s promotion of demonization and political warfare against Israel. Campaigns include BDS targeting Israeli banks and soccer teams, support for the UN blacklist, and lawfare in the International Criminal Court.

Disagreement over Israel’s policy of denying visas to pro-BDS activists and groups is entirely legitimate and part of the democratic debate. However, this debate must be conducted through facts, and not on the basis of ideological spin and obfuscations by HRW and its supporters.
Iran Ayatollah Reveals Iran's Peaceful Nuclear Intentions: 'We Will Turn Tel Aviv And Haifa To Rubble'
Now that President Trump has nixed the Iran nuclear deal, the Iranian mullahs who run the country are feeling freer to express themselves more clearly and reveal their murderous ambitions regarding the U.S., Israel, and the Gulf States, while acknowledging their nuclear goals aren’t peaceful at all.

As The Washington Free Beacon reports, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Iranian Assembly of Experts which answers to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, told his audience at a weekly prayer service in Tehran that Iran is "strengthening its missile power on a daily basis" and is just about to turn "Tel Aviv and Haifa to rubble," as translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Khatami added that Iranians are "more unified and stronger than ever" in their commitment to "Death to America." He targeted Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, saying they will be "America's cannon fodder.” He ranted, "The Islamic Republic is strengthening its missile power on a daily basis, so that Israel, that plundering regime, will not be able to sleep, and nightmares will constantly be present before its eyes. If Israel makes a mistake, we will turn Tel Aviv and Haifa to rubble … Mr. Trump! A few days ago, you said that the ‘Death to America' [slogan] was fading in Iran. This is Tehran, the heart of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the people here, more unified and stronger than ever, say: ‘Death to America!'"
Russian deputy FM says Iran must make concessions to save nuke deal
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday the nuclear deal with Iran could not be preserved without some concessions from Tehran, Reuters reported, citing the Interfax news agency.

However, Ryabkov added that Moscow did not believe the accord could be amended to include limits on Iran’s actions in the Middle East or its ballistic missile program, as has been demanded by US President Donald Trump.

Ryabkov said the missile program was a legitimate measure by Tehran in preserving its security.

And he warned that Iran could yet follow in Washington’s footsteps in withdrawing from the 2015 accord.

Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister began talks in Brussels Tuesday on the final leg of a global tour rallying diplomatic support for the deal after the abrupt withdrawal by the United States.
US concerned Iran may start harassing ships in Gulf again
Iranian behavior in the Gulf is entering a “period of uncertainty,” the head of the US Navy said Monday following President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal.

US officials have in recent months credited the Iranian military for stopping years of “unsafe and unprofessional” interactions that had included Iranian vessels zooming within a close distance of US warships.

But on May 8, Trump yanked America from the Iran nuclear deal, leading to questions about how Tehran will react.

“It’s a period of uncertainty that we are entering into,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said.

“We certainly have to remain alert, even more alert than usual to just be open to any kind of response or new development or something like that.”

He noted that so far, there had been no change in Iranian behavior.
Iran in Panic Mode, Scrambles to Save Nuclear Deal
The Iranian ruling regime is racing to save the landmark nuclear deal after President Donald Trump bucked European powers and walked away from the agreement with a vow to reimpose a package of harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic, according to U.S. officials and regional experts who say the hardline regime is scared about losing the sweetheart deal.

Leading Iranian officials have been locked in tense meetings with European countries and former U.S. officials to ensure they continue to uphold the deal and keep doing business with the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, one of the country's lead negotiators, held a series of meetings with European Union countries on Tuesday to plead with them about saving the deal and ensuring Tehran remains open for business as the United States tees up a package of sanctions that could cripple Iran's already ailing economy.

European leaders also have been pleading with members of Congress, where they are being met with a cool reception, according to multiple sources familiar with these closed-door talks.
Labour UK candidate quits race after Holocaust comments revealed
A staunch ally of Labour UK chief Jeremy Corbyn and a leading candidate for a special election to fill a vacant parliament seat dropped out of the race Sunday, after it was revealed that she had equated Israel’s efforts at self-defense to the Holocaust.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, cofounder of and executive director of UK Black Pride, had until recently been the front-runner for the Labour Party’s primary for a special June 14th election to fill the vacancy left by moderate Labour MP Heidi Alexander.

The district, Lewisham East in Greater London, is considered a “safe seat” for Labour.

Just days before the primary, however, the Guido Fawkes blog revealed comments made by Opoku-Gyimah over social media during last year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, claiming that Palestinian Authority Arabs were suffering from “genocide”.

“Today is the day when we remember all those affected by the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur – I’m adding Palestinian to the list”,” Opoku-Gyimah wrote in a January 27th, 2017 Facebook post.

Opoku-Gyimah previously came under fire after it was discovered she had hired Josh Rivers, the former editor of the UK-based Gay Times, to work at UK Black Pride. Rivers was forced to resign from the Gay Times following revelations that he had mocked Jews, homeless people, and disabled children.
IsraellyCool: A Couple of Telling Images & Footage from Yesterday’s Worldwide Nakba Day Rallies
Yesterday, March 15th, was the day the palestinian Arabs and their supporters commemorate as Nakba Day, an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that preceded and followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948 the failure of the Arabs to annihilate Israel during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

Rallies were held all over the world and, as usual, some of those involved did not get the memo to be on their best behavior and hide their true intentions and feelings about Jews.

Like these protesters in Sydney, Australia, who let the cat out of the bag that they do not want peace, just no Israel.

CAMERA Prompts NY Times Update on US Embassy Location
In a May 11 story about the American embassy in Jerusalem, the New York Times claimed the new embassy is partially located in east Jerusalem: “The embassy is partly in predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem and partly in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem.”

Map of Jerusalem armistice lines between 1949 and 1967. Created by Tamar Hayardeni under Creative Commons license, modified by CAMERA.

In fact, the embassy compound sits partly in so-called western Jerusalem — the section of the city that has been under Israeli sovereignty since 1949 — and partially in a demilitarized zone that rested between what was Israeli Jerusalem and the section of the city occupied by Jordan. The embassy building crosses into a portion of No Man’s Land that, according to an agreement between Israel and Jordan shortly after the two sides signed their 1949 armistice agreement, was designated for use by the Jewish state.

After CAMERA contacted the newspaper about its language, and noted that earlier New York Times coverage correctly distinguished between No Man’s Land and the eastern sector of Jerusalem, the language was corrected. It now states:

The embassy is partly in predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem and partly in a gray area between the west and predominantly Arab eastern section of the city.
Netta's 'Toy' hits top 10 on iTunes globally
If you can’t get the chorus to “Toy” out of your head – well, you’re not alone.

The winning song from Israel’s Netta Barzilai at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest just entered the top 10 on the global iTunes charts.

Barzilai’s song has just slid into 10th place, coming in four spaces head of Cyprus’s “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira, who came in second place at the Eurovision. “Toy” is also beating out Charlie Puth’s “Done for Me,” Justin Timberlake’s “Say Something” and Drake’s “Nice for What.”

Among just European countries, “Toy” comes in as the No. 3 song overall, two spots ahead of “Fuego.”

In Israel, of course, “Toy” is No. 1, and has been for weeks. But “Toy” is also No. 2 in Sweden, No. 3 in Spain and No. 6 in Germany.

And accolades and congratulations for the singer have poured in from all over.
Earliest evidence of bridle use found on 4,700-year-old donkey from Bible’s Gath
Dental analysis of the teeth of a 4,700-year-old donkey indicate the first evidence of equid bridle bit wear in the Near East. It is some 600 years earlier than commonly thought, and predates the arrival of horses to the region.

An international team of multidisciplinary researchers published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE Wednesday. In the article, the authors dispel the common belief that bit use entered the Near East only upon the introduction of horses in the region from the Middle Bronze Age and onward (after 2000 BCE).

Their conclusions were reached through careful study of the wear patterns on teeth from a donkey from the Early Bronze Age, which indicate the use of a soft, biodegradable bit, predating horses in the region by centuries.

According to article co-author Prof. Aren Maeir, from Bar-Ilan University’s Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, “the technological solution for controlling these animals is as least 600-700 years earlier.” Maeir is head of the 20-year Tell eṣ-Ṣâfi excavations where the donkey was uncovered in 2008.
Newly decoded 5th cent. ‘curse’ scroll shows Jews used magic to play the ponies
When a typical nailed-shut 5th century curse scroll was uncovered by the University of Princeton in a 1930s excavation under the hippodrome in the city of Antioch (now in Turkey), the team of archaeologists didn’t realize what a unique find they had in hand.

It would take almost another 90 years to discover that the amulet, made of thin lead, is the only known example of a curse written by Jews against a chariot horse racing competitor.

In the curse, written in a Jewish dialect of Aramaic in Hebrew lettering, the gambler beseeches God and his panoply of angels to thwart the competing horse and cause him to “drown in the mud,” said Tel Aviv University doctoral student Rivka Elitzur-Leiman, who recently deciphered the miniature 8.8 x 2.1 cm lead tablet.

Horse racing at the time had the emotional involvement and popularity of soccer today, explains Elitzur-Leiman. The doctoral student was tapped to decipher this scroll because she is studying Jewish magical amulets — for protection or curse — from the 4th-7th centuries for her dissertation. She said it was another piece of a growing body of evidence for the long and rich tradition of magical use by Jews of the era.
The Temple Mount Sifting Project, Fourteen Years On
In the 1990s, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement (since outlawed by Israel as a terrorist group), together with the Jordan-run waqf, which administers Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, decided to build a large new mosque on the Temple Mount. To enable construction—and in violation of Israeli law—thousands of tons of dirt were removed from the Mount, thus making impossible a proper archaeological excavation where artifacts can be evaluated based on where they were found, but also making a huge quantity of artifacts accessible to Israeli researchers. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira, realizing this, began the Temple Mount Sifting Project, staffed largely by volunteers, in which the dirt is mined for archaeological treasure. Here they report on some of their most significant finds, beginning with some of the oldest:

The finds . . . include five arrowheads; three are made of iron and the other two are made of bronze. One of these bronze arrowheads dates to the beginning of the First Temple period (10th century BCE) and is Judahite, the other dates to the last days of the Temple [6th century BCE] and is Babylonian. It was likely shot into the city by the Babylonian army during the attack which led to the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE. . . .

To date, the Sifting Project has recovered more than 6,000 coins, ranging from the first Judean coins minted during the Persian period (tiny silver coins dating from the 4th century BCE) to others minted in modern times. These coins attest to the rich past of the Temple Mount. A particularly exciting find is a rare silver coin minted during the first year of the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome (66/67 CE). The coin features a branch with three pomegranates and an inscription in ancient Hebrew script reading “holy Jerusalem.” The reverse side of the coin features an omer (an ancient half-cup measuring unit) and is inscribed “half shekel.” The coin is well preserved although it bears scars of the conflagration that destroyed the Second Temple in 70 CE. . . .

Finds from the Byzantine Period (324–638 CE) include about a half-million mosaic tesserae which are unique in their size and style, thousands of roof-tile fragments, [and] pieces of Corinthian capitals and chancel screens from church structures and floor tiles. The plethora of Byzantine-period artifacts stands in contrast to the commonly held view that in the Byzantine era the Temple Mount was desolate or, according to some sources, a garbage dump. Clearly, this view is mistaken.

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