Monday, October 29, 2018

From Ian:

WSJ: Amalek Comes to Pittsburgh
Eleven Jews were murdered Saturday in their synagogue. I knew five of them.
There are not so many of us Jews in the world—something like 0.2% of the population—so we pride ourselves on punching above our weight. We introduced some of the foundational ideas of Western civilization: the sanctity of human life, uniform morality, freedom, concern for the downtrodden, the weekend.

Sadly we are also above average in attracting evil people who hate what we stand for. This murderer, like all anti-Semites, resents the ideas that we carry in this world. Concern for the downtrodden? Who’s more downtrodden than a refugee?

The archetype for all anti-Semites is Amalek. His cowardly specialty was picking off the old, weak and infirm stragglers at the back of the Exodus pack. Saturday’s murderer was Amalek brought to life, as he mainly killed old and mentally challenged members of all three of the resident congregations.

For a couple of years, I was the head of a congregation that merged with Tree of Life; for many years I was a late-arriving regular at the Shabbat morning service that was attacked. I knew five of the people who were murdered. They were more than good and lovely people. They were the stalwarts who would show up on time and help out.

Rose Mallinger, 97, would always be there, sitting next to her sister. Saturday she was next to her daughter Andrea who, like the whole family, is possessed of a permanent smile. Andrea was shot. Rose was murdered.

Cecil Rosenthal, 59, knew my wife from childhood. He had special needs and a youthful exuberance. His younger, thinner brother, David, had a more serious mien and spoke less. He too had special needs. Like his older brother, he was murdered.

Irv Younger, 69, was a sweet man with a shock of white hair who would do anything that needed to be done at the shul. Murdered.

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, was a member of Dor Hadash, a synagogue that rented space in the social hall. A family doctor, he escaped the initial assault and returned to help the survivors. He was murdered.

JPost Editorial: Never again
The shooter, Robert Bowers, has an active life on alt-right and antisemitic social media platforms, where he frequently engaged in Jewish conspiracy theories and trolled Jewish groups.

As the tragedy unfolded and Israelis became aware of the news after Shabbat on Saturday night, there was a sense of experiencing a death in the family. Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett announced that he would depart immediately to Pittsburgh, meet the local community and participate in the funerals of those killed in the attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video message Saturday evening saying, “The entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead. We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh.”

Opposition leaders like Avi Gabbay and Yair Lapid emphasized that although the attack took place in a Conservative synagogue, when Jews are targeted, the attacker is not looking at affiliations.

“If you are murdered for being Jewish, you are Jewish,” said Lapid, in a dig to those in Israel who do not recognize non-Orthodox Jewry as valid.

There is no Right or Left when determining how it’s possible in 21st Century America – built upon the foundations of religious freedom and equality for all, where Jews have enjoyed unprecedented opportunity and enjoy unlimited access to all forms of American society – that there are still people who are intent on completing Hitler’s Final Solution.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s horrendous attack, while the victims’ bodies were still warm and identities unknown, there were those who couldn’t restrain themselves from immediately pointing fingers.

Brendan O'Neill: The militarisation of anti-Semitism
And still people are downplaying the seriousness of anti-Semitism. Even now. Even following the worst attack on Jews in American history. Even after the slaughter of 11 mostly elderly Jews at a bris, the celebration of the birth of a child, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

This time they are diminishing the scale and depth of anti-Semitism by pointing the finger of blame for the Pittsburgh massacre at President Donald Trump. No sooner had Robert Bowers allegedly executed his act of racist mass murder than anti-Trump commentators were describing it as the bloody offspring of Trump’s supposedly white-nationalist worldview and his divisive rhetoric.

This slaughter was the ‘inevitable result’ of ‘Trump’s vile nationalism’, said the Nation. Inevitable. ‘Trump didn’t pull the trigger on Jews in Pittsburgh, but he certainly prepped the shooter’, says a writer for Haaretz. Hateful violence like this is a consequence of Trump’s rhetoric, says British columnist Mehdi Hasan: ‘He preaches hate. He incites violence. He inspires attacks.’

This rush to blame Trump for a massacre of Jews is not only profoundly cynical, where the militarisation of anti-Semitism is pounced upon to the cheap, low end of scoring points against a politician people don’t like.

It also has the effect of whitewashing the true horror of anti-Semitism in the 21st-century West. It is in itself a form of apologism for the new anti-Semitism to the extent that it dehistoricises and depoliticises it by presenting it as little more than a function of the new right-wing populism.

It presents violent anti-Semitism as yet another thing unleashed, or at least intensified, by Trump and by the political turn of the past two years. And this dangerously distracts public attention – purposefully, I suspect – from the fact that anti-Semitism has been growing and becoming increasingly militarised for more than a decade now, among the left as well as the right and within Muslim communities, too.

Gunman due in court as harrowing tales emerge from synagogue massacre
All three congregations were conducting Sabbath services when the attack began just before 10 a.m. Saturday in the tree-lined residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, about 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and the hub of the city’s Jewish community.

Speaking at a vigil in Pittsburgh on Sunday night, Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said about a dozen people had gathered in the main sanctuary when Bowers walked in and began shooting. Seven of his congregants were killed, he said.

“My holy place has been defiled,” he said.

In the basement, four members of New Light were just starting to pray — with the two others in the kitchen — when they heard crashing coming from upstairs, looked out the door and saw a body on the staircase, Werber recalled Sunday in an interview at his home.

Rabbi Jonathan Perlman closed the door and pushed them into a large supply closet, he said. As gunshots echoed upstairs, Werber called 911 but was afraid to say anything, for fear of making any noise.

When the shots subsided, he said, Wax opened the door, only to be shot and fall back inside.

“There were three shots, and he falls back into the room where we were,” he said. “The gunman walks in.”

Apparently unable to see Werber and the other congregants in the darkness, Bowers walked back out.

Werber called the gunman “a maniac” and “a person who has no control of his baser instincts.”

Perlman, who also spoke at the vigil Sunday night, said New Light lost three congregants.

“These three men, they cannot be replaced,” said Perlman, his voice breaking. “But we will not be broken. We will not be ruined.”
Flags Fly at Half-Mast for Victims of Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre
U.S. President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Sunday that the flag of the United States be lowered to half-mast at the White House, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels, “as a mark of solemn respect for the victims at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.”

The proclamation followed a series of statements in which the president said “All of America is in mourning over the mass murder of Jewish Americans at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We pray for those who perished and their loved ones, and our hearts go out to the brave police officers who sustained serious injuries. This evil Anti-Semitic (sic) attack is an assault on humanity. It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate.”

The flag of Israel also flew at half-mast Sunday at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, as the people of Israel mourned the fallen Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh.

Likewise, the flag of Israel flew at half-mast at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa as well, at the direction of the hospital CEO, Professor Rafi Beyar, who is currently in Pennsylvania. Beyar issued a statement expressing his shock and that of the Rambam Medical Center community over the massacre.

In France, the government did not fly the nation’s flag at half-mast. But in a gesture equally – or even more – meaningful to world travelers, the lights of the Eiffel Tower was set to go dark at midnight instead, in solidarity with the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.
Iranian Immigrant Starts GoFundMe, Raises Hundreds Of Thousands For Tree Of Life Synagogue Victims
An Iranian immigrant decided to send a message of unity following Saturday's horrific, anti-Semitic shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, setting up a GoFundMe for victims of the attack, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars overnight.

Shay Khatiri says he woke up Saturday morning in the home of a Jewish friend who was devastated by news of the attack on Tree of Life Synagogue, which left eleven people dead and six wounded, including four police officers. Inspired by his cross-cultural friendship he decided to help.

"She told me what happened and she was just broken," Khatiri told CNN. "Seeing how upset she was, I wanted to donate to the congregation."

But instead of donating from his meager bank account, Kahtiri pledged to ask members of social media to come together in the wake of the attack and do something to enrich the lives of survivors and of victims' families, and to help the suffering congregation. He set up a GoFundMe with the hopes of raising $50,000. By Sunday evening, he'd raised nearly half a million.

"I thought to myself, I could donate $18 or $36 — something like that. But that wouldn't make a huge impact," he said. "If I did something like this, maybe it could go viral and have a huge impact," Khatiri said.

"An anti-Semite attacked and killed several attendees to a baby’s bris at a Pittsburgh synagogue. This fundraiser is meant to help the congregation with the physical damages to the building, as well as the survivors and the victims’ families. Respond to this hateful act with your act of love today," the GoFundMe page reads.
US Muslims raise over $100,000 for synagogue victims
A crowdfunding campaign by two Muslim American groups has raised almost $100,000 for the surviving victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the relatives of the 11 killed.

The campaign on LaunchGood reached its initial goal of $25,000 within six hours and its second goal of $50,000 before the 24-hour mark, and is now targeting $125,000.

It was organized by CelebrateMercy and MPower Change, Muslim-American nonprofits.

“We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action,” the groups said in a statement.

Fundraising proceeds will go toward meeting the short-term needs of the injured victims and grieving families, including funeral expenses and medical bills.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate and violence in America,” the groups said. “We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”

At an interfaith vigil Sunday night, the head of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh pledged to support the Jewish community, and said Muslims were prepared to stand guard outside synagogues if needed.
Pittsburgh Steelers hold moment of silence for synagogue shooting victims
Minutes before kicking off against AFC North rivals Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers held a moment of silence at Heinz Field, located just six miles from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where a gunman killed 11 people at a synagogue over the weekend.

The Steelers earlier changed their three-star online logo to include a Jewish star and words “Stronger than hate.”

Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement before the game that the team was offering its support and condolences to families of victims.

“Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes or any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community,” the statement said. “With that in mind we will ask everyone to join in a moment of silence and prayer prior to our game this afternoon.”

There were other such tributes at NFL games elsewhere Sunday.
Netanyahu: ‘I Was Heartbroken and Appalled’ About Pittsburgh Shooting at Synagogue
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday issued a statement in response to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, saying that he was "heartbroken and appalled."

"I was heartbroken and appalled by the murderous attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue today," Netanyahu said.

"The entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead," he continued. "We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, we stand together with the American people in the face of this horrendous anti-Semitic brutality. We all pray for their speedy recovery of the wounded."

Emergency gov't panel including Mossad to convene after Pittsburgh attack
The Israeli government is looking into practical steps it can take to assist the North American Jewish community in wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, including the possible allocation of state funds for the security of US Jewish institutions.

Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett and Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog will hold meetings this week in the US with top Jewish leaders in New York where they are expected to explore possible programs and partnerships that the government can partner with to expand security for Jewish communities. Bennett is currently in the US and Herzog is scheduled to travel there later this week.

In addition, there are discussions to convene an inter-agency committee that periodically convenes to discuss the security needs of Jewish communities overseas.

The committee includes representatives from the Jewish Agency, the Diaspora Ministry, the Mossad, the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. Known as the "Emergency Committee", the group is considering convening next week after Bennett and Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog return from the US.

The Mossad has a special department called Bitzur which is focused on the security of Jewish communities overseas and works with foreign intelligence agencies to ensure their security.
Minister Naftali Bennett: Today we stand in the shadow of death
Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett addressed a memorial vigil in Pittsburgh on Sunday evening for the 11 members of the Jewish community murdered in the shooting attack at the Etz Chaim Congregation on Saturday.

"Nearly eighty years since Kristallnacht, when the Jews of Europe perished in the flames of their houses of worship, one thing is clear," Bennett said. "Antisemitism, Jew-hating, is not a distant memory. Antisemitism is a clear and present danger. But we will prevail. The Tree of Life will never be uprooted by hatred."

Bennett visited Pittsburgh as an official emissary of Israel to offer condolences and support to the Jewish community in the wake of the horrific tragedy on Saturday. Earlier on Sunday, in a visit to the Tree of Life Synagogue, he declared that the State of Israel stood alongside the Jewish community there “as one person with one soul.”

Bennett told the Pittsburgh community, "Our whole nation is feeling the pain you are feeling here after this heinous hate crime. I want to extend my condolences to the families of the victims." He added, "People who have seen so much in their lives could not imagine they would be gunned down in Shabbat prayer."

More than 4,000 people attended the vigil, including the governor of Pennsylvania, the mayor of Pittsburgh, senators, congressmen, President Trump's Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, Israeli Ambassador Ron Derma, and New York Israel Consulate General Danny Dayan.
Dani Dayan: United against hate
Today, I am torn. My heart hurts and can't believe it. I never thought that as an envoy I would have to deal with events like this one. On the other hand, in a time when every month some crazy, hate-filled person kills other people because of their sexual orientation or the color of their skin, it was clear that there would be a religiously motivated killing – how could there not be? – against us.

Our strength is repeatedly measured and tried by those who want to wipe us out, both in Israel and outside it. But we will never give in. We will preserve and be proud of our Jewish identity. Much can be written about the incident – politics, media, and everything in between. But the most moving point of the story is the deep, honest identification that Israel is expressing with the American Jewish community and vice versa. For us, it isn't international news – every Israeli broadcast began with the event, and it was the headline in all the papers. The people of Israel are deeply pained by the terrible events, as if they had taken place in our own country.

Next week, after spending Shabbat with the families of the victims, I will return to my seat in Manhattan, where I will have to ask myself tough questions about anti-Semitism in Israel's closest ally. I will have to draw conclusions and learn from them, and work to make sure that nothing like it ever happens again.

And we, as citizens of Israel, should think about what we're doing to strengthen the ties between Israel and the U.S. Jewry, and not only at times like these.
Shmuley Boteach: Politicizing the Massacre of Eleven Pittsburgh Jews Must Stop
In fact, if Robert Bowers had been a Palestinian and his eleven victims Jews living in Israel, he and his family would have been collecting their terror-pension for the rest of their lives. And until the passing of the Taylor Force Act, would have thanked us for the cash.

Ultimately, though, what makes the accusations of antisemitism against Trump especially unfair is the fact that beyond just having Jewish friends and associates, he is the first president of the United States to have Jewish children and grandchildren.

Even Trump’s worst enemies would admit that he loves and deeply cherishes his daughter Ivanka, who is herself an Orthodox Jew. He supported her decision to join the Jewish people through the strictest processes of conversion, before throwing her a kosher wedding. Through his daughter, Trump now has three Jewish grandchildren who attend Jewish schools. His son-in-law Jared Kushner and Ivanka regularly attend synagogue themselves.

For Trump, the looming threats facing Jewish community centers have become, if anything, entirely personal.

As yet more Jewish blood is absorbed into the earth, we cannot allow these events to be sharpened into spears to be hurled against political opponents. That would only deepen the divides within a nation that desperately needs to heal. We must instead take a moment to reflect upon who are the ones truly spreading hateful gospels against the Jewish people, and do everything in our power to ensure that they are weakened, silenced, and eventually brought down.
Conference of Presidents: "There Must Be Zero Tolerance for Intolerance"
"We are deeply saddened as we are outraged at the murderous attack at Congregation Etz Chayim, Tree of Life, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This hate-driven, murderous assault on innocent people attending a religious service must be condemned by all people who care about our society and country," Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Arthur Stark and Executive Vice Chairman/CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said Sunday.

"There must be concrete action at every level to address the promoters of hate and the sources of incitement to violence if we are to root out racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism, which has increased significantly in recent years. There must be zero tolerance for intolerance. No excuses no exceptions....It is noteworthy that this vile act takes place when the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht is being commemorated."

"We salute the first responders and all the law enforcement officers who confronted the killer at great personal risk. We pray for a speedy recovery of the police and worshipers who were wounded and mourn with the families of the victims."
Pittsburgh shooting reveals lack of security measures in U.S. synagogues
The murderous Sabbath rampage of Robert Bowers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation has raised questions about synagogue and Jewish community security across the US and around the Jewish world.

US President Donald Trump picked up on the concern immediately, telling reporters that if there had been an armed guard posted at the synagogue, Bowers could have been stopped immediately.

There are no standard security measures and procedures at all for synagogues and other Jewish community institutions, such as schools and communal centers, across the country, and individual Jewish communities are responsible for organizing their own security measures, or none at all.

The Tree of Life synagogue, currently housing three congregations, has had no security personnel at all until now for a regular Shabbat service, and the entry to the building has been unlocked allowing congregants easy and unfettered access. On weekdays, the door is locked and visitors gain access via an intercom system. That system was deactivated on the Sabbath.

David Friedman, vice president for law enforcement and community security for the Anti-Defamation League, noted the scattershot approach to community security across the country, saying that security measures depended on numerous factors including the location of the community, its size, and the type of institution in question.

He said that while in some synagogues in Washington DC, worshipers gain access through an intercom system opening steel doors, in other communities there is no security whatsoever.
PMW: PA: Don't kill American Jews (only kill Israeli Jews)
In an unusual move, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned yesterday's murder of 11 Jews in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh by the antisemite Robert Bowers:

"The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned the terror attack that was carried out yesterday against a synagogue in Pittsburgh, which is in the state of Pennsylvania in the US, and which cost the lives of Jewish American citizens and police officers. The ministry also condemned the harming of houses of worship by the same terrorists filled with an inherent and decayed fascist ideology, which is based on the supremacy of the white race and its hegemony." [WAFA, official PA news agency, Oct. 28, 2018]

This condemnation of the murder of Jews is a remarkable change from the standard PA messages to Palestinians. For years, PA policy has been to present the conflict with Israel as both a nationalistic war to destroy Israel and an Islamic war to kill Jews. Indeed, the messages of the PA leadership since the PA's terror campaign (2000 - 2005, the Second Intifada) has been to kill Israelis because they are Jews.

As recently as last week, Palestinian Media Watch reported on an antisemitic sermon in which the preacher taught that Hitler was one of a series of people sent by Allah throughout history to punish the Jews because of their evil behavior.
Accusing Trump of fostering violence is incitement
A hate crime is a despicable thing. That is why accusing someone of being responsible for a hate crime (like saying U.S. President Donald Trump may not have been the shooter, but he created an atmosphere that was conducive to the shooting) is a very serious thing. In fact, it is incitement.

The bodies strewn across the floor of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood were still warm when my colleagues here in Israel began to suggest that this heinous murder, committed by the vile neo-Nazi Robert Bowers, was carried out under the auspices of Trump. Revolting.

There were even those who broadcast out loud, on their microphones, their theories that the massacre perpetrated by Bowers was inspired by the "spirit of the times" in the United States since Nov. 9, 2016 – in other words, the day after the man the media believes was the wrong candidate won the presidential elections. The public doesn't feel that way, but what does the public know, right?

The media is certainly not responsible for what happened in Pittsburgh on Saturday. But neither is Trump. Bowers is responsible. He is the murderer. He is the criminal. Those looking for the root cause can find it in the sick ideology that has already taken millions of Jewish, black, Romani, Christian and Muslim lives. Faced with racism, we are all brothers.

As for Bowers, he actually viewed Trump as being too soft, and worse, he hated him for maintaining close ties with the Jews. But the media chose to focus on Trump's war on illegal immigration and his fight against violence and anti-Semitism, from the left end of the political spectrum too. That's what he was trying to do last year, when he made that controversial remark after the neo-Nazi attack in Charlottesville. He did not come out in defense of neo-Nazis. He just wanted to point out that incitement and instigation of violence were not exclusive to the Right – there are also instigators on the Left.
Media Tout 'Jewish Leaders' In Pittsburgh Telling Trump He's Not Welcome. They're Lying. Those 'Jewish Leaders' Are Professional Progressive Activists.
Over the weekend, the press began a narrative drumbeat suggesting that President Trump was somehow responsible for the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on Saturday – the deadliest anti-Semitic shooting in American history. On Monday, key members of the press amplified that message by quoting supposed Pittsburgh Jewish leaders saying the same thing. Here, for example, was Maggie Haberman of The New York Times:

Bend The Arc, the group quoted here, wrote a letter stating:
For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence. President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism. Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted. You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country. President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.

So, is Bend The Arc really a group of “Jewish leaders”? Only in name. The group is merely a Leftist political action group with a Jewish label. Their stated mission is “rising up in solidarity with everyone threatened by the Trump agenda to fight for the soul of our nation.” Their missions include the election of “progressive champions” and the implementation of “progressive legislation and policies, like criminal justice reform and economic equity.”

Who runs Bend The Arc? Alexander Soros, George Soros’ son. When he started the PAC, Politico noted, “Soros, who formed his own foundation in 2012 to promote social justice and human rights, has given $1.2 million to Democratic candidates and groups in the last three elections.” (It should be noted here that criticism of the political viewpoint of major Democratic donors is not anti-Semitism; it is normal politics.) The director of Bend The Arc was Hadar Susskind, formerly a staffer at the anti-Semitic front group J Street, which spends its days attempting to undermine the safety and security of the state of Israel.
DC Professor: Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack Not a Hate Crime; Media, Zionist Lobby Distort It
Abeer Kayed, professor of political science at Howard University, Washington D.C., said that the Pittsburgh synagogue attack was "strictly political" and not a hate crime, but that the media was trying to distort the motive. Professor Kayed said that this had to do with "the power of the Zionist lobby here" and with "the historical significance of the role of the Jews in American life." It is "as if they get the credit for the existence of the United States," she said, adding that U.S. President Trump was responsible because the "hatred and racism in his rhetoric" motivated such crimes. Her remarks were broadcast by the U.K.-based Al-Araby TV channel on October 28, 2018, a day after the attack.

Hamas Commander killed at Gaza border when ‘hand grenade’ exploded prematurely
A “work accident” is a commonly used term to refer to Palestinian terrorists who die by their own hand when explosives or explosive devices they are handling detonate prematurely. We have covered many such incidents.
  • Senior Hamas terrorist Imad al-Alami *accidentally* shoots himself in the head
  • Hamas explosives chief accidentally blows himself up
  • Palestinian rocket commander ‘accidentally’ blows himself up
  • Hamas terrorist killed when attack tunnel collapses on him
  • Gaza: Two PFLP terrorists killed when rocket they were firing exploded prematurely
  • Hamas Bomb Expert Blows Himself Up
We appear to have another member of the club, during Hamas-led attempts to breach the Gaza border.

These border attacks began last spring under the name of the “Great March of Return.” From the start, these were not mere protests, but military-style attempts to tear down the border fence, with minors often put out front for the cameras. Huge tire fires were set to create a smokescreen.

The overwhelming majority of those killed near the fence were military members of various terrorist groups.

In the past two months, the attacks have become increasingly violent, and openly military.

IEDs and hand grenades are thrown by the hundreds, accompanied by rocket and mortar fire. Israel has retaliated with aircraft strikes on empty Hamas and Islamic Jihad facilities. But the trajectory of the violence could lead to a full scale war if, as has happened in the last few days, Palestinians fire rockets at major Israeli cities.
Activists Block Kerem Shalom Crossing, Preventing Goods Entering Gaza
Early Monday morning, a group of residents from the south together with activists from the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu blocked the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza.

The group prevented dozens of trucks from delivering supplies into the Gaza Strip, in protest of the continuous rocket fire on the settlements of southern Israel.

“Enough is enough, we are sick and tired of this,” said Liana Peretz, one of the protest’s organizers who lives in Kibbutz Kerem Shalom.

“It is inconceivable that my kids need to wake up in the middle of the night and run to bomb shelters, or need to be afraid of balloons and kites. The time has come for the government to wake up and do something,” she said.

Alon Schvartzer, Director of Policy for Im Tirtzu, said that his group of activists had arrived to show solidarity with the people of the south.

“We cannot tolerate a situation in which residents in our country are subject to unrelenting acts of terrorism,” said Schvartzer.
Islamic Jihad vows to respond to deaths of three Palestinian teens
Islamic Jihad on Monday said that armed groups in the Gaza Strip will respond to the death of three Palestinian teenagers who were killed in an IDF strike in the coastal enclave a day earlier, the Islamic Jihad-linked Palestine Today reported.

“Islamic Jihad affirmed…that the resistance will respond to this crime in a way that is proportionate to its size and the great fury it has caused among our people, nation and free people in the world,” the terror group said in a statement, according to the Palestine Today report.

The IDF said on Sunday that it carried out an airstrike targeting three Palestinians who were attempting to damage the fence in the border region between Israel and Gaza.

The army added that the Palestinians were “apparently in the process of planting an explosive device” in the southern half of the Strip.

Later on Sunday, the Hamas-run Health Ministry pronounced the three Palestinians dead and identified them as 14-year-old Khalid Abu Said, 14-year-old Abdel-Hamid Abu Dhaher and 13-year-old Muhammed al-Satari.

On Monday, Aisha Abu Daher said her son Abdel-Hamid had “nothing to do with resistance” and denied her son had any links to terrorists.
Seth Frantzman: Oman visit only latest point of support for Israel
Across the region, Israel appears to be enjoying points of support. For instance, the visit to Muscat was celebrated in Omani media. Israel’s national anthem was also played in Doha during a sporting event, and Israeli athletes were recently in the UAE. Some voices in the Gulf are sharing the news online with obvious approval. The National in the UAE highlighted the visit and had a special photo gallery devoted to it, while noting that UAE ally Saudi Arabia had stressed that “Iran is the primary driver of instability in the region.”

The subtle message was that Iran is the problem, and Oman’s gesture to Israel is good for the region.

The Oman visit has caused many to wonder about the hypocrisy in the Middle East. For instance, a commentator on Al Jazeera in Arabic said she rejected “normalization” with Israel, but many on Twitter kept asking why it is that Doha hosts Israeli athletes with the Israeli flag. Kurdish commentators in northern Iraq also noted that the Kurdish region has often been excoriated for having relations with Israel, while the Omanis are now reaching out. Halal for them, haram for us, wondered one man, using the Arabic words for acceptable and forbidden.

Iranian media is perplexed by such a public welcome to Israel in Oman. For many years, Tehran has tried to keep alive the notion that Israel is the sole problem in the region, with annual “Jerusalem Day” events, and by constantly talking about Israeli threats. But the Syrian civil war, in which Iran partnered with the regime in Damascus and was seen as aiding the slaughter of civilians, has harmed Tehran’s image. All that the Iranian media could do was stress that Israel’s visit to Oman was not as good as it seems. The “sultanate was only offering ideas to help Israel and Palestinians to come together,” Iran’s Press TV, claimed. Tasnim News carried an article about IRGC commander Mohammed Ali Jafari giving a speech for Arba’een, a Shi’ite pilgrimage, claiming Muslims should unite against “global arrogance,” which tends to be a reference to the US and Israel.
Al Arabiya: After Netanyahu's Visit to Oman
The nonchalant reactions of the Arab public and media over the Omani announcement that they received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Muscat, Oman's port capital, illustrates how much the region has changed from the past.

The non-pragmatic way of dealing with the conflict has harmed the Palestinians and hasn't deterred the Israelis. The Arab culture of rejecting relations and normalization with Israel is deeply rooted and still alive, but what's new is that it is no longer the engine moving the policies of Arab governments.

Israel has played an important role in hitting Iran's growing influence in Syria. It took up roles that Arab countries couldn't achieve. With this, a military balance in the region was achieved, and Israel became integral to regional security after it was once considered a poisonous apple that everyone avoided dealing with.

Iran's strong involvement in the Syrian war is what prompted Israel to enter and become a major player, especially when both America and Turkey failed in the face of the Iranian regime's expansion and hegemony in Syria, after it was clear that it is building an empire with chaotic militias.

Even those who reject Israel in the context of the Palestinian cause found themselves compelled to welcome the intervention of Israeli air forces which dramatically changed the situation in Syria and curbed Iranian threats in the region.

Without Israel's intervention, stopping the Revolutionary Guards' expansion - that succeeded on the back of the Russian military and political presence - would not have been possible.
JCPA: PLO Council Meeting in Ramallah – to Be or Not to Be
We called sources in Ramallah the morning after and they told us that the “Fronts” [primarily the PFLP and PDFLP] and the Mohammed Dahlan faction of the PLO did not arrive. But Abbas was talking about something deeper – that delegates preferred to go to “cafรฉs” instead in taking part in this “fateful” session. He declared, “We are at a point of to be or not to be. We are besieged from all directions.”

According to our sources, on the morning after (October 19, 2018) there was to be a closed-door session at which Abbas would reveal his cards. The sources believe Abbas is determined to take back Gaza from Hamas completely and will not let paymaster and Hamas-supporter, Qatar, bypass him. According to my sources’ assessment, however, there little chance that Qatar would listen to him.

As for the steps against Israel, such as canceling the Paris Protocol of the Oslo II Accord of September 1995, my sources estimated that it would be very difficult to carry out. As for the canceling coordination with the IDF – it is not on the table.

Another issue on the table is a formal dissolution of the PLC – the Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislative body of the Palestinian Authority.

that is under the control of Hamas. As a matter of fact, as far as Ramallah is concerned, this body is already finished its life. It has not convened since Hamas captured Gaza, and Fatah “rogue” delegates are arrested despite the fact that they are immune from arrest.

Abbas seeks to terminate the council formally to avoid legal claims by Hamas’ “speaker,” Aziz Dweik, that he is the rightful successor to Mahmoud Abbas in an interim period. Fatah will not let that happen at all costs.
Abbas: Hamas serves US interests by refusing to cede control of Gaza
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lashed out against the United States, Israel and Hamas in a speech to the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah on Sunday, saying that Hamas' insistence on maintaining exclusive control over the Gaza Strip is playing into the hands of the U.S. and Israel.

"The era in which we now find ourselves is the most dangerous for the Palestinian people," Abbas said.

"There will be no Palestinian state established on temporary borders, no Palestinian state without Gaza, and certainly no separate Palestinian political entity in Gaza.

"Seeing as there is no more room to maneuver toward a solution, the time has come to implement the decisions we have reached on the issue of relations with Israel, the Americans and Hamas," he said.

Abbas said the Palestinians were facing difficult and important decisions, but did not go into detail. Instead, he rebuked the Hamas leadership for what he called its "shameful" handling of the Palestinian plight.

"Why do they look on from the sidelines at a sinking ship and instead of helping bring people together, they boycott the PLO Executive Committee conference?" he said. "If this is Hamas' position, they should give up their public Palestinian role."
Poll finds most Israelis see EU as a foe rather than a friend
A majority of Israelis view the European Union as adversarial rather than friendly toward Israel, according to a new poll commissioned by a foreign policy think tank published Monday.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they consider the EU “more of a foe,” while only 18% view it as “more of a friend.” Twenty-seven percent had no opinion on the matter.

Among Jewish Israelis polled, the gap is even wider: 61% have a negative view of the 28-member union, while only 16% said they consider it a friendly entity. Arab Israelis are split on the question: 27% of respondents said the EU was “more of a friend” and 25% said it was “more of a foe.” Nearly half had no opinion.

The poll was commissioned by Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, a left-leaning think tank based in Ramat Gan. It was carried out last month by the Rafi Smith Institute, which said it used a representative sample of Israel’s adult population (700 men and women, Jews and Arabs).

“The survey points to disturbing trends regarding neighboring regions,” said Nimrod Goren, the head of Mitvim. “Most of the public views the EU as an adversary of Israel and not as a friend, despite it being a major political, economic, civil and security partner of Israel.”
Report: Israel sold $250m. of sophisticated spy systems to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia and Israel held secret meetings which led to an estimated $250-million deal, including the transfer of Israeli espionage technologies to the kingdom, Israeli media reported on Sunday, citing an exclusive report by the United Arab Emirate news website Al-Khaleej.

Some of the spy systems, which are the most sophisticated systems Israel has ever sold to any Arab country, have already been transferred to Saudi Arabia and put into use after a Saudi technical team received training in operating them, the report added.

The exclusive report also revealed that the two countries exchanged strategic military information in the meetings, which were conducted in Washington and London through a European mediator.

Such cooperation would not be the first of its kind between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In September, Al-Khaleej reported that Saudi Arabia had purchased Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to defend itself from Houthi missile attacks.

The deal, which was reportedly mediated by the United States included further plans to reach an agreement on broad military cooperation between the two countries.
Pakistani president: Report untrue, we will not forge ties with Israel
Pakistani President Arif Alvi says his country will not establish ties with Israel and that it supports the Palestinians because the Gaza Strip has faced "unprecedented atrocities," just like the northern Indian state of Kashmir.

Alvi told reporters Sunday that recent speculation about an Israeli jet landing at an Islamabad airport was baseless.

He was speaking before departing for a three-day visit to Ankara, his first official overseas trip since entering office last month. Alvi is traveling to Turkey at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Israeli journalist Avi Scharf tweeted on Thursday that a private Israeli business jet had flown to Islamabad from Tel Aviv and remained in the Pakistani capital for nearly 10 hours, sparking media speculation.
Israel and Vietnam celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations
Dmitry, a 26-year-old Israeli from Jerusalem traveling in Vietnam, could not believe what he was witnessing.

"Suddenly, in the middle of Hanoi, I heard Israeli songs," he said ecstatically. "I told myself I had to be hallucinating, but it was actually happening."

Dmitry was describing the large celebration put on by the Israeli Embassy in Vietnam on Saturday to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which brought thousands of Vietnamese to historic Ly Thai To Square for a display of Israeli technology and a mass Israeli folk-dancing session.

The event was almost surreal, especially considering the past animosity between the two nations. For the better part of the past quarter-century, the government in Hanoi has usually contacted Israeli ambassadors only when it wanted to summon them and issue rebukes for Israel's alleged mistreatment of the Palestinians, in keeping with Vietnam's past as an ally of the Soviet Union. Vietnam even hosted Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat several times during the Cold War and afterwards.

Israel and Vietnam established official diplomatic ties in 1993, but it took 12 years before Hanoi opened an embassy in Tel Aviv. In 2010, when Israel suggested that then-President Shimon Peres visit Hanoi, the Foreign Ministry was told such a visit would be premature.
New Brazilian President Vows to Move Embassy to Jerusalem
President Donald Trump called Brazil’s President-elect Jair Messias Bolsonaro (Messias stands for precisely what you think it does) on Sunday to congratulate him on his election victory. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement that both men agreed to “work side-by-side to improve the lives of the people of the United States and Brazil, and as regional leaders, of the Americas.”

Like Trump, Bolsonaro has been described is an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, who vowed to follow in the US president’s path and move Brazil’s embassy there from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

He uses Israel as an example of a well run, modern state, free from the insanity of Western liberalism. Here’s a tweet he shared, were he commented: “In Israel 90% serve in the military (men and women) and the weapon becomes a citizen’s right.” It’s not clear if he meant that Israelis who served in the army are entitled to carry a gun (which is true, with some conditions), or that Israelis get to take home their service gun (we wish).
MEMRI: Sale Of East Jerusalem House To Jews Sparks Uproar In Palestinian Street, Mutual Accusations Between PA President 'Abbas And His Rival Dahlan
The Palestinian street is in an uproar after a right-wing religious Jewish organization purchased a three-story building in Jerusalem's Old City, near Herod's Gate. The house, originally owned by the distinguished Joudeh family, was sold in April 2018 to a company registered in the Caribbean, apparently a straw company.

The news of the sale sparked a storm in the Palestinian mainstream and social media, including mutual accusations between Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud 'Abbas and his rival Muhammad Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah in 2011. Dahlan and his associates accuse 'Abbas of being responsible for the sale of the property to the Jewish organization. They claim that in 2016 Fadi Al-Salamin, a Palestinian political activist who resides in the U.S. and is considered to be an associate of Dahlan, was about to buy the house, but the PA torpedoed the sale for political reasons, namely due to Salamin's ties with Dahlan. Furthermore, an activist who lives near the house claims that PA officials, including general intelligence chief Majid Faraj and former Jerusalem district governor 'Adnan Al-Husseini, knew about the deal with the Jews in advance and were even involved in it. The PA, on its part, has long been accusing Dahlan and his associates of buying property in East Jerusalem with the intent of selling it to Jews. Similar allegations against Dahlan, and also against the UAE, were recently made by Kamal Al-Khatib, deputy chairman of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which is leading the "Al-Aqsa Is in Danger" campaign. It should be noted that he voiced similar accusations against them in 2014.

In response to the uproar, the PA announced that it would form an investigative committee to look into the affair and would punish those responsible. In addition, senior PA officials, among them Al-Aqsa preacher Ikrima Sabri and Palestinian Mufti Muhammad Hussein, reiterated fatwas banning the sale of property to Jews and stating that whoever does this is an infidel and a traitor against the homeland.

The promise of an investigative committee failed to quell the storm, however, and former PA officials, as well as the Jerusalem daily Al-Quds, continued to level harsh criticism at the PA. They accused it of poor management and of preoccupation with personal and political rivalries at the expense of national issues, and even hinted at its possible involvement in the sale of the building.

Alongside the mutual accusations between the PA and the Dahlan camp, PA officials, as well as Palestinians in social media, also directed accusations at Israel and the U.S., and some social media posts even called for self-sacrifice for the sake of Jerusalem. This charged affair may indeed lead to a flare-up of the armed Palestinian struggle against Israel.

This report reviews the affair and the controversy it sparked among the PA, Dahlan's camp, the Islamic Movement in Israel, the Palestinian public in East Jerusalem, and additional circles.

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