Saturday, May 18, 2019

05/18 Links: Arab Spring: the Second Coming?; Australia’s ruling Conservative coalition elected to surprise third term; US ambassador: German anti-BDS motion should apply to Iran's regime

From Ian:

Jonathan Spyer: Arab Spring: the Second Coming?
The camp of the generals is the camp of stability, the status quo, and of alliance with the West. The other side is with the notion of Islamic revival to the perceived glories of the Islamic past. Its partisans and allies are by definition the enemies of the West and Israel. The very fact of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem is seen as a reminder of how low the Islamic world has fallen.

But it is worth noting that neither of these sides is for civil society, institutions, secularization, representative government. The forces that do support all these exist but are immensely weak. For as long as this remains the case, the Arabic-speaking world is likely to remain under-developed and dysfunctional – whether generals or Islamists have the upper hand in any particular context.

Remedying the poverty of choices facing Arab publics is, of course, a matter that only Arabic-speaking societies ultimately can address. Until they do so, it will be in the interest of western governments to support the conservative and authoritarian forces preventing the disaster of further victories for political Islam.

As noted above, the Israeli interest in both Libya and Sudan is not in doubt. In Sudan, the departure of President Omar al-Bashir is entirely positive from the Israeli perspective. Under al-Bashir’s 30-year rule, Sudan made itself available as a conduit for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Gaza Strip, and acted as a portal for the entry of the Revolutionary Guards into Africa (the IRGC began to train Sudan’s army, and Sudan offered naval facilities for Iran’s use). For economic reasons, al-Bashir reversed course in 2015. But al-Bashir’s relations with Turkey and Qatar and the army’s support from Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia mean that his departure remains without doubt a net positive from the Israeli point of view.

In Libya, similarly, the victory of Haftar, backed by UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, would be a net positive for Israel – it would prevent the emergence and entrenchment of an ally of Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim brotherhood on the coast facing Europe. Though in this case it should be noted that even if Haftar takes Tripoli, Libya will be far from a return to stability under authoritarian rule. The south of the country remains largely ungoverned and penetrated by elements of the Islamic State. The West, meanwhile, harbors powerful Islamist militias with considerable public support who are likely to attempt a continued insurgency against Haftar even if his forces take the capital.
Palestinian activists don’t understand why they can’t enter the US
In December 1992, about nine months before the first Palestinian-Israeli peace accords were signed on the White House lawn, Hanan Ashrawi met with president George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office.

Now, 26 years later, she can’t even enter the United States.

Ashrawi, a longtime Palestinian spokeswoman and a current member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, tweeted Monday that her application for a US visa was rejected.

“It is official! My US visa application has been rejected,” she wrote. “No reason given. Choose any of the following: I’m over 70 & a grandmother; I’ve been an activist for Palestine since the late 1960’s; I’ve always been an ardent supporter of nonviolent resistance.”

Ashrawi is the most recent and most prominent of at least three Palestinian activists to be barred from entering the United States this year. In February, activist Osama Iliwat was denied entry at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and sent home. In April, Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, was not allowed to board a flight to the United States at the direction of the US government.

Iliwat and Barghouti held valid US visas. In March, Iliwat was told he was being deported due to a desire to immigrate to the US, which he calls spurious. Like Ashrawi, both Barghouti and Iliwat said they do not know why they were denied entry. Iliwat told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Customs and Border Protection officials questioned him over the course of eight hours about his activism before canceling his visa.

Australia’s ruling Conservative coalition elected to surprise third term
PM Scott Morrison praises ‘miracle’ victory after opinion polls favored opposition; Labor party had vowed to reverse Jerusalem recognition

Opinion polls prior to Saturday’s election had suggested that the coalition would lose and that Morrison would have had one of the shortest tenures as prime minister in the 118-year history of the Australian federation.

In December 2018, Morrison’s government recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move the Labor party vowed to reverse if elected.

His declaration was received with disappointment and even bitterness by the Israeli government, which considers the entire city its capital, and had hoped Canberra would follow the American example. US President Donald Trump on December 6, 2017, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, without making a geographical distinction or taking a position on the city’s borders. On May 14, 2018, the US relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Morrison, who initially said he was “open-minded” to moving his country’s embassy as well, in December announced the establishment of a “Defense and Trade Office” in Jerusalem instead. It opened quietly in March, without senior officials from either country in attendance.

Earlier this year, Morrison said that Israel is “a beacon of democracy in the Middle East.”

With Eurovision finally here, Israel’s unfancied Kobi Marimi is unfazed, upbeat
A year’s worth of planning, exhaustive production efforts and a push to boost Israel’s international image all come to a head Saturday night as the country hosts the Eurovision Song Contest’s grand final in Tel Aviv.

Two semifinals have already aired, but Saturday’s main event is when the world’s eyes will well and truly turn to the Jewish state, as around 190 million viewers are expected to tune in to watch 26 countries battle it out to win the 2019 contest — and secure the right to host the show next year.

The Israeli production has promised a dazzling night, with singing stints by past Eurovision stars — both Israeli and otherwise — and a much-hyped appearance by the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna, who will perform two songs on stage.

Netta Barzilai, who secured Israel’s hosting rights in Portugal last year with her hit “Toy,” will, of course, be on hand. But Israelis are now looking to this year’s contestant, Kobi Marimi and his entry “Home,” to make them proud.

The song choice was criticized by many Israelis when it first debuted, with many complaining that it was not interesting, or catchy enough. And with the operatic track trailing with bookies, few expect him to pull off a win.

Still, the singer himself has proven popular with the public, and audiences are hoping his unique style and emotional commitment to his craft will land him in a respectable spot with viewers and judging panels.

Interviewed by Channel 12 news on Friday night, Marimi said he felt “Home” was “My song. I sing it. I love it.”

The 27-year-old said he was “so excited to be performing this song on this stage.”

He said he’d never had the confidence in the past to say he was a singer. “I was shy about it. I didn’t think it was serious or that anyone would take me seriously,” he recounted.

But now “I think I’ve come to a point at age 27 where I know who I am as a person, as an artist.”

Marimi added that with public expectations and criticism he had been forced to take Barzilai’s advice and grow thick skin ahead of the contest. And he said he was grateful for Israel’s Eurovision team for its selection. “They were really good about picking a song that fit me, my story and my character,” he said.
The 63-year-history of Eurovision in three minutes
An Israeli video artist compiled footage from the 63 Eurovision contests held every year since 1956, putting together a three-minute tribute mash-up that wowed viewers during this year’s first semifinal round.

The clip produced by Ophir Kutiel — known by his stage name “Kutiman” — includes black and white and colored footage spanning over seven decades, with some of Eurovision’s most iconic performers from Israel and around Europe.

Kutiman, who featured in the first and second Eurovision semifinals earlier this week, is known locally for the Kutiman Orchestra, a funk band that performs mainly in Tel Aviv.

He’s become even better known for his online music video project, called “ThruYOU,” which features a mix of samples of YouTube videos, combining various musicians and sometimes singers to create a wholly new kind of music compilation. Kutiman’s first “ThruYOU” video in 2009 received more than 10 million views in around two weeks.

He has since produced several more “ThruYOU” pieces, as well as a series of “Thru The City” videos, in which he is commissioned to create his unique compilations for various cities worldwide.

In 2016, Israeli filmmaker Ido Haar, released a documentary on one of Kutiel’s discoveries on YouTube, Samantha “Princess Shaw” Montgomery of New Orleans, and their journey to meet in person in Israel.

US ambassador: German anti-BDS motion should apply to Iran's regime
The US government’s highest-profile ambassador in Europe suggested in a tweet on Friday that the Bundestag resolution against the antisemitic BDS movement should also apply to Iran because it seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell wrote: “Fact: Iran regime calls for the destruction of Israel. No funding for Instex now?”

Instex, the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, is the finance mechanism set up by Germany, France and the United Kingdom in Paris to boost trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran and circumvent robust American sanctions on Tehran.

Grenell’s tweet was in response to Berlin-based Wall Street Journal correspondent Bojan Pancevski, who wrote on Twitter: “Germany parliament condemned the BDS movement as antisemitic, and it called on the government to withdraw funding for events or institutions affiliated to it.” Grenell’s message appears to have been designed to highlight the German government’s hypocrisy toward the Iranian regime.

Publisher backs out of novel about imagined Iranian attack on Israel
On April 16, Dzanc Books announced its latest release, “The Siege of Tel Aviv,” a novel that imagines an Iran-led attack on Israel that leaves the country decimated.

Author Hesh Kestin, a former journalist who had already published two novels with the small independent press, said the book was inspired by his experience living in Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Stephen King contributed a glowing blurb.

But a week later the Michigan-based nonprofit publisher announced it was axing the book amid a flurry of comments on social media, including from other authors published by Dzanc, alleging that the book is Islamophobic.

The book “perpetuates harmful narratives regarding Muslims that we cannot support, as a house,” Dzanc’s publisher and editor in chief, Michelle Dotter, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email.

Meanwhile, the 75-year-old Kestin, who lives in Southampton, New York, but spent two decades in Israel and served in its army, denies the allegations and says nixing the book is an act of censorship.

Kestin has received a $2,500 advance from Dzanc, which he will keep, and the publishing house said it is currently in talks with him to sell him remaining copies of the book. But Kestin told JTA in an email that he neither wants to pay for the books nor remove Dzanc’s name from them, which he says was another demand.

The incident is part of a larger discussion in publishing and beyond about cultural sensitivity.

As publishers hire “sensitivity readers” to ensure books do not contain inaccurate or stereotypical portrayals of minority groups, some say the focus on political correctness is stifling artists. They speak of a “cancel culture” in which publishers are quick to terminate books at the first whiff of controversy.
Syria accuses Israel of airstrikes on targets outside Damascus
Syrian state media accused Israel of launching a strike against targets outside Damascus Friday night and claimed the country’s air defenses intercepted a number of missiles.

“Aerial defenses detected hostile targets coming from the direction of Quneitra and intercepted them,” a military source was quoted by Syria’s SANA news agency as saying.

The state television channel showed footage of the night sky with a point of light firing up into it and the sound of explosions.

According to pro-opposition reports, the strikes targeted the First Division HQ of the Syrian Army Forces near al-Kiswah, south of Damascus. The site, some 50 km. from the Israeli border, is near Iranian and Hezbollah storage sites and air defense batteries.

Other local reports said the strikes targeted Iranian arms depots.

There was no comment on the strikes by Israel which rarely discusses alleged Israel Air Force operations on the northern front. Israeli officials, however, have repeatedly voiced concerns over Iran’s presence in Syria and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are red lines for the Jewish State.

In an effort to prevent sophisticated weaponry from reaching Hezbollah, Israel frequently carries out airstrikes against Iran and its allies in Syria. In January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel has a set policy of preventing Iran’s entrenchment in Syria.
Syria says air defenses intercept Israeli missiles, in 2nd incident in 24 hours
Syria claimed its air defenses on Saturday night shot down a number of missiles fired from Israel, for the second time in less than 24 hours.

The official SANA news agency said the military intercepted “hostile targets coming from direction of occupied territories.” Syrian state TV said the missiles were shot down over Quneitra and near Damascus.

On Friday night, Syrian state TV reported sounds of explosions near the capital, and aired footage of what it claimed were air defenses intercepting missiles fired from Israeli jets seen over Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights.

“Aerial defenses detected hostile targets coming from the direction of Quneitra and dealt with them,” the official SANA news agency quoted a military source saying, referring to a Syrian town in the Golan Heights bordering Israel.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported several explosions in the Al-Kiswah area outside the city, in the vicinity of Iranian and Hezbollah storage facilities and air defense batteries. The group added that it was not immediately clear if the explosions were caused by Israeli airstrikes or surface-to-surface missiles.

There was no response from the Israel Defense Forces, which rarely comments on reported strikes.
U.S. Releases Video of Iranian Training Facility in Lebanon, Close to Syrian Border
The U.S. Department of State released a video on Tuesday of what it said is an Iranian military training base in Lebanon, located near the border with Syria, amid concerns that Tehran is preparing for a two-front war with Israel.

Washington believes that the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) – which the United States designated as a foreign terrorist organization earlier this year – is attempting to establish a permanent military presence in Lebanon, where the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Hezbollah remains the foremost power.

“We see a small valley that goes down. This has a series of berms that are alternating, on the left and right. This is a training course for armored personnel carriers,” said Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Senior Fellow for Imagery Analysis at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

David Daoud, a research analyst on Hezbollah and Lebanon at United Against Nuclear Iran, explained that the immediate proximity to the Syrian border confirms that the facility serves at least two major objectives.

For one, Daoud said, the location shows “how compromised the eastern Lebanese-Syrian border is to entry of ‘resistance axis’ elements and the Lebanese state’s inability to properly police its territory against Iranian penetration.
What Does EU Probe into Palestinian Textbooks Mean?
The European Union announced it would investigate Palestinian textbooks over allegations of incitement to violence against Israelis. What does this mean for the Palestinians and does it make a difference ultimately? Panelists Ariel Kahana, Yemini Ben-Dror and Yariv Oppenheimer debate.

Israel says no evidence troops killed Palestinian paraplegic in 2017 Gaza riot
The Israeli army on Friday closed a criminal investigation into the death of a paraplegic Palestinian man shot during clashes on Gaza’s border with Israel in 2017, saying the probe found no evidence that its soldiers fired the fatal bullet.

The army said 29-year-old Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh was killed in a “violent riot” to which troops responded by opening fire toward the lower body parts of “main instigators.” It said the investigation found Palestinians threw improvised explosives, Molotov cocktails and rocks at troops on that day.

As part of its investigation, the military said it tried to obtain the bullet that killed Abu Thurayeh, but authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip denied its request.

Witnesses at the time said no gunfire came from the Palestinian side. Palestinians and human rights groups claimed he was shot by an Israeli sniper.

Abu Thurayeh, hailed as a symbol of heroism by Palestinians for persistently raising a Palestinian flag from his wheelchair at demonstrations, died of bleeding in his brain after a bullet struck his head, according to medical records obtained by The Associated Press. The same findings were detailed in a report by the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service reviewed by the AP.

The reports did not specify who fired the bullet or what caliber it was.
Eli Lake: John Bolton Is Exactly What Trump’s Iran Policy Needs
Iran has historically attacked U.S. targets with its proxies when it assesses it will not face direct military reprisals. Iran used proxy forces to lay roadside bombs during the U.S. war in Iraq, for example, because its judgment at the time was that Bush lacked the support, in Congress or with the public, to respond with a strike inside Iranian territory. (In retrospect, this assessment was correct.) When Iran believes the U.S. will use force, however, it backs off. Iran has not mined the Persian Gulf, despite occasional threats to do so, because the U.S demonstrated three decades ago that it will destroy the Iranian navy if it tries.

This is where Bolton comes in: He’s kind of a one-man psychological warfare operation. If Iran’s leaders believe Trump’s advisers are trying to constrain him, they may assess they can get away with a proxy attack on U.S. positions. If they think Trump is trying to constrain his national security adviser, they may decide not to.

Bolton himself seems to understand this. I am told he deliberately brought a yellow pad to the White House podium earlier this year during a briefing on Venezuela that said “5,000 troops to Colombia.” The idea was to persuade Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro not to imprison or attack the opposition. So far, that bet has worked. Bolton may be following a similar strategy with Iran, with recent reports that he had ordered the Pentagon to provide war plans if Iran restarted its drive for a nuclear bomb.

Of course, this strategy is fraught. As tensions rise, so does the risk of miscalculation. And while the older generation of Iranian officers remembers when the U.S. sunk its navy, says Michael Rubin, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute, the younger generation “knows only American weakness.”

It’s fair to point out the risks. It’s irresponsible to allege some kind of conspiracy to trick the U.S. into a war. It’s understandable why Zarif would push this nonsense; less so is why any Democrat would.

MEMRI: Incitement Against Jews By U.S.-Based Neo-Nazi And White Supremacist Members Of Pro-Palestinian And BDS Facebook Groups

Many pro-Palestinian and BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions against Israel) groups maintain Facebook pages. These pages also serve as a platform for U.S.-based neo-Nazis and white supremacists, whose posts on them can include blatant incitement against Jews.

Parameters Of The Study

The anti-Jewish incitement in these posts includes support for Nazi ideology; expressions of racial hatred and demonization of Jews, including specifically American Jews; conspiracy theories regarding Jewish plans to take control of the world and destroy Western moral values; and calls to action against Jews.[1]

The period covered by this study was January 2016 through April 2019, and the study covered posts by members of the Facebook groups who a) appear to reside in the U.S, and b) espouse neo-Nazi and/or white-supremacist ideology.

It is noteworthy that these individuals are also generally against vaccinations, believe in various conspiracy theories, primarily concerning 9/11 and "chemtrails," and also deny the Holocaust. Many of their posts express admiration of Nazi ideology. They might be devout Christians or blatant atheists, and several members identify with the Confederate South. These individuals were also identified by public Facebook pages that they had "liked," such as "Crush Social Marxism," "Goyim know," various "European Beauty" pages, neo-Nazi pages, and so on. Certain types of "memes" – images or GIFs with a caption added – are also used by those included in this study.[2]

None of the antisemitic posts in these groups were removed by the group's moderators; in fact, often the moderators themselves endorse such posts and even post similar statements themselves.

Groups Examined For Neo-Nazi And White Supremacist Members

See Appendix for more about the groups:
  1. Boycott Israel:[3] Public group with 10,000 members.
  2. BDS FIRST:[4] Public group with about 2,000 members.
  3. Stand with Palestine:[5] Public group with 60,000 members.
  4. ANTI ZIONIST – BOYCOTT ISRAEL:[6] Closed Facebook group with 4,000 members.
  5. A group for Palestine and its friends:[7] Closed group with 24,000 members.
  6. Boycott Israel.... Support the BDS:[8] Closed group with more than 35,000 members.
NYU Tel Aviv Students Slam Department Over Boycott, Amid Criticism by Faculty, Administration
Multiple students who attended New York University’s study abroad program in Tel Aviv expressed dismay that it was boycotted by a department at the school, joining complaints shared by NYU’s administration and hundreds of faculty members against the move.

The Department of Social and Cultural Analysis (SCA) announced on May 2nd that it passed a resolution “by a majority vote” pledging non-cooperation with NYU-Tel Aviv, over objections to entry restrictions affecting Palestinians and “members of groups that are critical of government policies.”

A 2017 amendment to Israel’s entry law barred access to foreigners who are identified as key proponents of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign, among them leaders of National Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, which maintain NYU chapters.

NYU’s administration pushed back against the SCA decision, reiterating that no students who sought to study in Israel were ever denied entry to the country, while noting that no SCA faculty were involved with the Tel Aviv program, meaning there was no “practical effect to the vote.”
Stanford Whines About Anti-Jihad Speaker
Andrew Klavan of The Daily Wire spoke at Stanford University on Tuesday and the administration was not too happy. The school referenced a video in which Klavan critiqued jihad, with the vice provost for student affairs and dean for religious life claiming that Andrew “distorts the tenets of the Muslim faith, equating Islam with violence and barbarism” and expressing dismay with the event happening during the month of Ramadan, reported Campus Reform.

Oh so we’re not allowed to criticize an ideology for one entire month per year? And that’s the other thing: Andrew’s not criticizing Islam as a religion, but rather political Islam, Islam as its performed as an ideology. This is also why, quite frankly, there’s a good case for not making religion a protected class. Activists often try to conflate religion, ideology, and race, suggesting that being anti-terror attacks, anti-beheading gays, etc. means you have a problem with people who have a different god or a different skin color.

It’s all smoke and mirrors but anyways, the Stanford administrators also said “we understand it can be deeply frustrating and painful to see speakers invited to campus whose ideologies disparage members of our community.” Good. If there are people who sympathize with jihad on campus, I think they might deserve a bit of disparagement.

Activists urge Airbnb users to shut accounts over Israeli settlements
Campaigners on Wednesday called on supporters of the Palestinian cause to deactivate their Airbnb accounts, at least temporarily, to protest the vacation rental firm’s listings in settlements in the West Bank.

After Israeli pressure, the company last month reversed course and scrapped plans to bar homes in settlements from listing on the site.

The decision led to fresh anger from groups opposed to the settlements, which most countries consider illegal under international law.

A range of organizations including Jewish Voice for Peace and the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy have backed a call for an at least temporary deactivation, with organizers saying thousands had pledged to do so.

“Ultimately we would like Airbnb to reverse its decision but we know that won’t be easy,” Salem Barahmeh, executive director of PIPD, told AFP.

“But I think what we ultimately want to do is end this culture of impunity where international companies are allowed to be complicit in supporting war crimes and Israeli settlements that have been responsible for displacing Palestinians.”
In Tel Aviv, 3% of apartments rented out permanently via Airbnb — report
There are some 5,000 to 7,000 Tel Aviv apartments that are rented out on a permanent basis via Airbnb and are thus unavailable to residents, a report, in Hebrew, by Yes In My Back Yard Tel Aviv (YIMBYTLV) shows.

YIMBYTLV is a movement that aims to fight rising prices of housing in Tel Aviv and advance regulation against homes that have been transformed into hotels.

Around 2.4 percent of the homes in the city have become permanent Airbnb rentals, a figure that is five times higher than in New York and 12 times that of Berlin, the report said. In some quarters, the situation is even worse, with Airbnb permanent rentals taking up 16% of all apartments in Kerem HaTeimanim, a neighborhood in central Tel Aviv that is undergoing gentrification, and 8% of all apartments in Neve Tzedek, a fashionable and expensive neighborhood in southwestern Tel Aviv.

Most of the apartments rented out permanently via Airbnb are two to three rooms. Since they are not available for regular rental, prices go up in accordance with a shrinking supply, YIMBYTLV said.

YIMBYTLV suggests limiting the number of days that apartments in the center and south of the city can rented out via the vacation rental operator to 60 per year, to deter investors who buy apartments and then rent them only to tourists rather than residents.
Police Investigating String of Arson Incidents at Chabad Centers in Boston Area
Massachusetts police are investigating three recent arson incidents that took place at two Chabad centers in the Boston area.

The first occurred last Saturday night, at Chabad of Arlington. Firefighters called to the scene discovered wood shingles burning on one side of the building, which also serves as the home of Rabbi Avi Bukiet, his wife Luna and their children.

On Thursday night, Bukiet and his wife, Luna, smelled smoke again.

“I ran out and saw that someone had started another fire,” Luna Bukiet was quoted as saying by

Later on Thursday night, a fire broke out at a Chabad center in another Boston suburb, Needham.

There were no injuries in any of the incidents.

Police are trying to identify individuals seen in security camera footage from both scenes.

Rabbi Mendel Sharfstein — the director of the Global Security Commission at Chabad headquarters — stated, “We are in touch with local emissaries regarding these concerning incidents, as well as members of law enforcement to ensure that the matter is investigated thoroughly. We hope they can make a determination soon about who was behind these heinous acts.”

New York's Measles Outbreak and Anti-Semitic Sentiments
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in New York have come to face persecution for allegations that they do not vaccinate their children and could be a catalyst for spreading the disease. Is the measles outbreak becoming a means for an anti-Semitic lashing out? Haaretz's Danielle Ziri analyzes.

El Al Israel Airlines to launch nonstop flight to Las Vegas
A nonstop flight between Israel and Las Vegas will launch next month.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday that El Al Israel Airlines will operate a flight between Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and McCarran International Airport starting on June 14.

The 14-hour flight to Las Vegas will depart from Tel Aviv on Friday mornings. The flight back to Israel will leave Las Vegas on Saturday nights.

The airline’s vice president of commercial and industry affairs, Michael Strassburger, said that Las Vegas has become a popular destination for Israelis so the airline added the flight to meet demand.

The airline currently has nonstop service to seven North American destinations: Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, San Francisco and Toronto. In February, the airline announced that it would begin service to Orlando later this year.
Mayo Clinic and Israeli Health Companies to Create New Medical Technologies
The Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic has signed a memorandum of understanding with the US branch of the Israel Innovation Authority to collaborate with Israeli firms to co-create new medical technologies, announced the two groups.

The MOU was signed on Tuesday at the MIXiii Biomed Conference and Exhibition in Tel Aviv.

“The focus of the cooperation will be health technologies, including in medical devices, diagnostics, software solutions and therapies, the parties said in a statement. The aim is to accelerate the availability of medical innovations to the public and introduce Israeli health-care technology” to the United States, reported The Times of Israel.

“The health market and especially pharma are among the fastest-growing industries in the world,” said Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen in a statement. “The agreement signed between a global health-care brand such as Mayo Clinic and the Israel Innovation Authority constitutes a vote of confidence in Israel’s startup industry and innovations, further highlighting Israel’s key position in shaping the health landscape of the future.”
Reel Crime StoryHarvey Keitel to play Meyer Lansky in gangster biopic
Veteran US actor Harvey Keitel is headlining a new biopic about Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky, who was a close friend and contemporary of notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel, the distributors said Saturday.

Entitled “Lansky,” the film focuses on the latter part of his life when the now retired-boss of Murder Inc. was in his 70s and living anonymously in Florida’s Miami Beach, Voltage Pictures said.

When Lansky takes on a journalist to tell his story, played by “Avatar” actor Sam Worthington, the FBI use him as bait to entrap the underworld kingpin whom they suspect of stashing away millions.

The film is in pre-production with shooting due to start in August.

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