Sunday, July 28, 2019

From Ian:

Ben-Dror Yemini: BDS, J Street and the willful blindness of the liberal peaceniks
The thing is, J Street knows that the essence of the BDS movement is not peace but hatred. At its core is not a two-state solution but the elimination of the State of Israel. It is not anti-violent it is anti-Semitic. It is not a proponent of freedom of speech, but rather seeks to silence every speaker who expresses a different position.

The fact that Jews and Israelis support such a movement does not indicate blindness, for when it comes to blindness, the presentation of facts is supposed to change attitudes. But this is not the case here.

BDS supporters are afflicted with the oldest hatred, so why does J Street, whose movers and shakers support peace and two states, raise their eyes to the heavens and support Omar's proposal, which has an anti-Semitic motive? It seems that it is mainly because hypocrisy has become a central component of what was once a "peace organization."

There is no connection between J Street's official platform and its activities. Granted, Tzipi Livni, Tamar Zandberg and Stav Shafir will attend the organization's upcoming conference in late October, and there will be sane statements made there. But an ultra-liberal obsession has led the organization to activities that are mainly anti-Israel: They even protest Birthright, claiming it is a one-sided organization.

But he fact is that the initiative behind Taglit-Birthright Israel was a byproduct of the anti-Israel brainwashing on campuses. So what do they want, for Judith Butler and Norman Finkelstein to be included in a "balanced" program? What balance does J Street in its campus operations?

Did they invite Dr. Einat Wilf to give a series of lectures on campuses about the book she wrote (with Adi Schwartz) on the so-called Palestinian right of return? Not a chance, but they are happy to complain about others.

The liberal camp was supposed to play an important role. J Street is a legitimate organization that, at least when it was founded, represented a large proportion of the prevailing views among American Jews. Their pro-peace, pro-Israel slogan is also excellent. I am in favor.

But somewhere along the line it all became a fraud. Whoever supports Omar is neither pro-peace nor pro-Israel – they are helping a campaign that opposes Israel's very existence. This did not just happen to J Street – it happened to too many bodies that purport to speak in the name of "peace" and "human rights."

It has afflicted many, and there is no comfort to be found in that. (h/t IsaacStorm)

An open letter to the founder of J Street
So my question is, is there anything other than national suicide that Israel can do to help their adversaries wash out the shame of the establishment of a Jewish state on land claimed by the Arabs as their own? You will recall that in 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered to return the entire 'West Bank' plus extra acreage only to have his offer ignored. Other prior offers received the same response.

Shouldn’t the history of Arab rejectionism be included in J Street’s pro-Israel narrative? And while we’re at it, why does J Street not have the desire to compliment and be proud of Israel for all the good it does, the countries it helps, the people it cures (including Arabs), the kids it educates and the water it desalinates distributed to all the communities including Arab ones.

If J Street does not believe that Israel is my country right or wrong, then what can it possibly accomplish by presenting itself as a Jewish organization that believes that my county Israel is always wrong.

What a sad depressing attitude. Surely as Jews, you ought to be proud of the renewal of a Jewish country after 2000 years.

Mr. Ben-Ami, it would appear that many people, organizations and countries believe that supporting Israel is a moral crime. I beg you to think about the implication this has not only for Israel but for our children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s time for J Street to use its brains and resources to fight antisemitism, but first it has to accept the Reverend Martin Luther King’s opinion that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.
The United States Condemns BDS
By a vote of 398 to 17, the US House of Representatives almost unanimously condemned the boycott movement against Israel, alienating Reps Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Republicans oppose them, Democrats oppose them, and America stands pro-peace and anti-BDS.

(h/t MtTB)

When You Understand Israel’s May 1948 Borders, You Understand There is No “Occupation”
The 1949 Armistice Lines which were established and understood to be temporary, somehow morphed into the minds of many as the 1967 “borders,” implying a new sense of permanence, even though the war did the exact opposite – it reestablished Israeli control of the entire Palestine Mandate and reclaimed its boundaries of May 1948.

Israel did itself no favors. Rather than clearly state that its borders had been reestablished, it “annexed” the eastern portion of Jerusalem which had been under Jordanian control and only established military rule over the West Bank. It did this – much like it handed control of the Jewish Temple Mount to the Jordanian Waqf – in the hopes of winning over global support for peace. So much for that theory.

No Palestinian Land / No “Occupation”
As the history above details, the Palestinians quest for self-rule has been aspirational. The global community has attempted to create a new sovereign Arab Palestinian country, or to somehow give the Arabs who reside in Gaza and the West Bank self-determination. The Arabs in Gaza got self-determination in 2005 when the Israeli troops left the area, and the majority of Arabs in the West Bank also have some self-determination in “Area A” and to a lesser extent in “Area B” when Israel handed control of select lands to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of the Oslo II Accords of 1995.

But there is no “Palestinian Land” beyond these lands which the PA controls. [See Featured Image] The balance is Israeli territory as it was from the time Israel declared its independence. The 1967 War did not begin “occupation” of “Palestinian Land”; it brought Israeli territory back under Israeli control from the Egyptians and Jordanians who invaded Israel back in 1948.

As the only “Palestinian Land” that exists today are those which Israel handed to the Palestinian Authority, it is impossible for there to be any “occupation.”

Antisemitism, anti-Zionism and ‘the occupation’
In the final analysis, the issue of human rights is paramount, and pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel organizations and propagandists have focused the world’s attention on the issue of “occupation” in their efforts to destroy Israel. They present a simple paradigm: Israel is persecuting Palestinians and the Palestinians are, therefore, victims. As a mantra, no critical thinking is necessary. The images are also enhanced by presenting a chilling turn-around: Jews were persecuted by the Nazis, and now Israel persecutes Palestinians; the Holocaust in Europe is being re-enacted in Israel/Palestine and the Jews are culprits.

This has resulted in a unique and unusual alliance between Muslim and Christian Jew-haters who share a common enemy. It also provides room for some Jews who see Israel as a threat to their religious and national identity.

For 25 years, thanks to the Oslo Accords, Israel and the international community have enabled a corrupt, violent, terrorist-supporting dictatorship that has not produced anything of value and which subjugates its own people. That is the real occupation. And that is where “Palestinian liberation” and “ending the occupation” must begin. Condemning Israel, however, is only an excuse for their own failures.

“The occupation” will end only when Palestinians and their leaders decide to accept Israel’s right to exist and prefer to send their children to school rather than train them to become suicidal “martyrs.” It will end only when the Palestinian Authority and Hamas end their programs of hatred, incitement and support for terrorism. It will end only when they decide to end the conflict, as they promised in the Oslo Accords. It will end only when they decide to develop their human resources rather than support an anti-human, antisemitic and anti-Zionist ideology.

The problem, therefore, is not only the existence of Jewish communities (“settlements”) in Area C of Judea and Samaria, but whether the nation-state of the Jewish people has the right to exist at all. Is the conflict over territory or is it conceptual and ideological? Do Palestinians and their supporters want to end the conflict or perpetuate it?
Trump’s peace plan rings alarm bells in Jordan
A controversial US plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace could spell the demise of Jordan and turn it into a “Palestinian state,” Jordanians and analysts warn.

The initiative launched by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner at a June conference in Bahrain dangles the prospect of $50 billion in investment into a stagnant Palestinian economy.

But it fails to address key issues and demands of the Palestinian side, such as the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Israel’s occupation in the West Bank, and the Palestinians’ claim of a right to return to homes within Israel from which they fled or were expelled after Israel’s creation in 1948.

The Palestinian Authority boycotted the Bahrain forum, accusing the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump of using the prospect of cash to try to impose political solutions, and of ignoring the fundamental issue of occupation.

Trump has taken the landmark step of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Kushner has suggested the peace plan may not mention a Palestinian state.

Kushner is returning to the Middle East later this month to push his economic plan, which has been rejected by the Palestinians and criticized by Jordan.

“No economic proposal could replace a political solution that ends the occupation,” Jordan’s foreign ministry spokesman Sufyan al-Qudah said.
Seth J Frantzman: Russia and Turkey are becoming allies, overshadowing Israel - analysis
As Turkey and Russia grow closer, they inevitably also grow closer in their efforts to end the Syrian conflict, as well as other regional and international issues. This has led Turkey away from its traditional alliance with the US, and focused on a new alliance structure with Russia and other allies, for instance a Turkey-Qatar and Russia-Iran alliance, in which they share certain interests. In the long term, a closer block of Russia-Syria-Iran-Turkey-Qatar may emerge, alongside other powerful states such as China, India, and central Asian actors, some of which seek to challenge the US.

This has long-term implications for Israel because Israel is a close US ally that opposes the rising power of Iran in the Middle East. Israel enjoyed close relations with Turkey up until the mid-2000s, when things soured under Turkey’s current administration. Russia and Israel enjoy good relations today, but what happens if their interests begin to not coincide in places like Syria, where tensions already exist?

Some recent headlines represent the growing alliance. The National Interest says that Turkey stockpiled F-16 parts prior to acquiring the S-400, knowing US relations would suffer. Russia has recently restored some visa-free travel from Turkey. Russia and Turkey are discussing joint production of civilian aircraft and helicopters. Tass News says that they may also begin joint exploration for energy in the Mediterranean.

Taken together, it is clear that a defense and energy alliance is growing. Israel has its own energy interests in the Mediterranean and its own defense relationships. The long-term effect of the Russia-Turkey alliance is in its infancy, but joint defense work and energy exploration should be taken more seriously by neighbors in the Middle East.
Sanders would ‘absolutely’ consider cutting US military aid to Israel
Vermont Senator and leading 2020 Democratic US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders would “absolutely” weigh withholding US military aid to Israel to pressure the Jewish state into making policy changes.

Speaking with Jon Favreau on his Pod Save America podcast, Sanders, according to most polls the second-place Democratic candidate, agreed that the $3.8 billion US military aid package could be used as “leverage” against the Jewish state.

“Our policy cannot just be pro-Israel, pro-Israel, pro-Israel,” Sanders said. “It has got to be pro-region, working with all of the people, all of the countries in that area.”

He emphasized, however, that he believed in Israel’s “absolute” right to peace and security.

“I have family in Israel. I am Jewish. I am not anti-Israel,” he said. “Okay, I believe that the people of Israel have, absolutely, the right to live in peace, independence and security. End of discussion – that is what I fervently believe.”

At the same time, he blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what he said was the rise of “an extreme right-wing government with many racist tendencies.”

Foreign Ministry’s NIS 50m plan aims to help nations move embassies to Jerusalem
The Foreign Ministry is said to be preparing a new NIS 50 million ($14.2 million) plan to encourage and subsidize the move of embassies to Jerusalem.

Some 86 embassies of foreign states are stationed in Tel Aviv, while just two — those of the United States and Guatemala — are in Jerusalem, both having moved to Israel’s capital last year.

Now, the Israel Hayom daily reported Sunday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who was appointed to the post in February, is drafting a plan that will prioritize encouraging more embassies to make the move, including setting aside funds to help governments that decide to take the plunge.

The plan is expected to be presented to the cabinet for a vote in the coming weeks. The text of the cabinet decision will characterize encouraging more embassies to move to Jerusalem as a “national diplomatic and strategic goal of the first order,” the paper reported.

The Netanyahu government has depicted US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 as a “historic” turning point, which was followed up by the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May of last year. Guatemala followed suit soon after.
Why have more countries not moved their embassies to Jerusalem? - report
So far, only the U.S. and Guatemala have formally moved their embassies to the holy city.

Where are some other countries holding? Israel Hayom offered an overview:

Paraguay inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem last May under the leadership of its previous president, Horacio Cortez. However, when the country’s new president Mario Abdo Benítez took office, he reversed the decision.

Hungary opened a trade ministry in Jerusalem as an extension of its embassy, which remains in Tel Aviv. Although this is a formal diplomatic presence in the capital, the Central European country has made it clear that it does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Honduras and Romania have both stated they are interested in moving their embassies to Jerusalem. However, while Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă would likely make the move, President Klaus Iohannis has stated that he opposes such a transfer.

Honduras requested that if it would open an embassy in Jerusalem, then Israel should open a full embassy in Honduras, which the Jewish state has not yet done.

Finally, Slovakia announced last March that it would open a trade ministry in Jerusalem as well.

The report cited two reasons why more embassies have not made the move. The first is that members of the European Union were threatened against doing so. The second concerns the US: Most of the countries considering such a move are seeing greater American support, mainly in the economic sphere, and the administration for its own reasons has been reluctant to comply with those requests.
Why Hezbollah Truly Threatens Israel
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah recently issued a new threat to Israel’s cities and sensitive sites, boasting of his terror organization’s ability to hit targets deep inside the country.

The threats came in a televised speech, serving as a reminder of the ambitious arms race that the Shiite terror army is engaged in, with the massive assistance of its state sponsor Iran.

The Lebanese Hezbollah is the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor, and its surface-to-surface firepower arsenal — estimated at around 150,000 projectiles — is larger than most state armies.

The IDF’s main war preparations focus on the offensive and defensive operations needed to deal with this threat.

On July 12, Nasrallah told the Al-Manar television station, which is affiliated with his terror organization, that Hezbollah has improved its offensive capabilities. Displaying a map, he threatened strikes on strategic Israeli targets including Ben-Gurion International Airport, the Dimona nuclear facility, a power plant in Hadera, Ashdod sea port, and ammonia tanks in the city of Haifa. Hezbollah makes no distinction between civilian and military targets, and has made the goal of terrorizing Israeli civilians a top priority in future wars.

Nasrallah also threatened to hit the IDF headquarters in the heart of Tel Aviv, as well as a series of air force bases.
Ted Cruz: Growth of Hezbollah in Latin America remains unchecked
US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) urged Latin America to acknowledge Hezbollah’s significant presence in their home countries and the terror that the organization perpetuates within their borders.

“AMIA bombing was not the first or the last terrorist attack carried out by Hezbollah in Latin America or around the world, and yet over two decades after the bombing, Hezbollah is still very much alive and active in the tri-border area that encompasses the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay,” warned Cruz, at an event on Thursday commemorating the 1994 AMIA bombing in Argentina in which 85 Jews were murdered and 330 injured. “The growth of Hezbollah in Latin America remains unchecked.”

“Hezbollah continues to radicalize people in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil through mosques and schools that preach the group’s extremist agenda,” said Cruz. “It’s time for Latin America to reckon with the significant and the dangerous presence of Hezbollah in the region, and it’s also time for the larger international community to combat Iranian proxies wherever we find them – in Latin America and the Middle East.”

He commended Argentina for blacklisting Hezbollah.

“Last week I sent a letter to [US] Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo, encouraging him to urge his Brazilian and Paraguayan counterparts to acknowledge Hezbollah’s significance in their home countries and the terror that Hezbollah perpetuates within their borders,” the senator said.

According to Cruz, “In order to keep Iran in check, we need to support our allies, especially Israel, and combat Iran’s proxies in Lebanon, Latin America and around the world. When the Ayatollah says ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel,’ I believe him.”
Cyprus police arrest British woman in rape claim, all Israelis released
The 19-year-old British tourist who claimed that she was gang-raped by 12 Israelis in the Cypriot resort town of Ayia Napa was arrested on Sunday, while the Israelis were released after she admitted that the sexual intercourse was done with her consent, according to Israeli media.

After the woman got angry with the youths for taking videos and pictures of the act, she falsely reported rape, which led to her arrest for giving false testimony and the decision to release the suspects.

Attorney Nir Jeslovich, who represents some of the Israeli suspects, claimed that, "As I have argued throughout the process, there was no rape in Cyprus. The young men who went on a vacation that became a nightmare will go home today, and everyone will return to their homes and families. The Cyprus Police conducted a thorough, professional investigation."

Originally, 12 Israelis were arrested for the alleged rape that occurred in Ayia Napa, after she claimed that the suspects gang raped her in a hotel room. While admitting to have willingly gone there with one of them, she claimed that the other 11 showed up and raped her.

Three Israelis have admitted to have had sexual intercourse with the girl, but claimed that it done with her consent, while the other nine denied having any physical contact with her.
British tourist said to admit she made up gang rape since she felt ‘humiliated’
The British tourist who had claimed she was a victim of a gang rape in Cyprus has revised her testimony to say that the sex was consensual, explaining that she filed the complaint against 12 Israeli teenagers because she felt humiliated after they filmed the act without her consent and booted her from the hotel room, Hebrew-language media reported Sunday.

After five of the suspects were freed last week, the remaining seven were released from custody Sunday, police said. They and their families celebrated outside the court, dancing and singing religious songs.

The 19-year-old woman is now under arrest and “is facing charges of giving a false statement over an imaginary offense,” a police spokesman said earlier. “Rape never took place,” another police source said.

She will be indicted in court on Monday, a police source was cited by Israeli media as saying. Police were said to have summoned her friends to give testimony.

Cypriot media said that she is suspected of filing a false complaint against the Israelis because they filmed her during the sex acts without having received her consent to do so.

Writer who said Israelis are lax about sex crimes accused of sexual assault
A columnist who penned an article accusing Israelis of having a lax attitude toward crimes of a sexual nature was accused on Saturday of himself sexually assaulting a fellow journalist.

Haaretz journalist Hadar Kane publicized Saturday a series of text messaged from 2016 in which she confronted Dror Feuer over his unwanted advances on her, and in which he apologized.

The text messages resurfaced after Feuer on Friday published a column in the Globes financial daily saying allegations of Israeli teens carrying out a gang rape against a tourist in Cyrprus should not have come as a shock, as sexual misconduct is rampant in Israel.

“When the journalist who harassed you writes a column about the rotten culture that led to the rape in Cyprus #MeToo,” Kane wrote in a Facebook post responding to the column.

Kane attached the 2016 text message conversation to the post, in which she told him how inappropriate his actions had been.

“Dror, it’s not cool to try to kiss a woman who told you several times that she was not interested. It’s really not cool to make sexual suggestions after she has made it clear several times that she likes women. And it’s really really not cool to touch her [private areas] against her will,” she had written.
Two children lightly hurt in West Bank stoning attack
Two Israeli children were lightly injured when their car was hit by stones outside the northern West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron late Saturday night.

An 11-year-old boy suffered a head wound and a 8 year-old-girl had cuts to her face from glass shards, the Hatzalah rescue service said.

They were treated by Israel Defense Forces medics, according to the rescue service. A baby in the car was also hit by flying glass but did not require treatment.

Police opened an investigation into the suspected attack, the Walla news site reported.
Palestinian indicted for sexual assault of Israeli girl, 13, in Ashdod
Indictments were filed Sunday against a Palestinian man suspected of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Israeli girl he befriended while doing renovation work near her home.

Prosecutors filed charges of sexual assault and indecent acts at the Beersheba District Court against Ashraf Karga, 38, from Halhul, north of Hebron in the West Bank.

According to court papers, the suspect befriended the girl while working on a construction project at an apartment building close to the girl’s home in the southern city of Ashdod. After they became acquainted, the suspect took the girl to the building he was working on, where he sexually assaulted her on a number of occasions, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors asked that Karga be held until the end of proceedings.

After an investigation was opened in late May, police said Karga fled to the West Bank. He was arrested earlier this month following a manhunt. At the time, Hebrew-language media reported he voluntarily turned himself in to police when he heard he was wanted in Israel, and that he denied the allegations against him.

How Tehran Tries to Drown the Fish
A tougher profile, attacks on tankers and other soft targets, gesticulations by Hezbollah and Hamas, and more hostages are one aspect of the scheme that Tehran is currently working on. The other is a desperate attempt at appearing ready to enter into "constructive talks". That yarn is marketed by Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is still retained to play Foreign Minister in Western forums and TV studios.

In New York, Zarif added the promise of addressing another demand, that the so-called "nuke deal" be rehashed to make limits on Iran's nuclear program permanent rather than limited to 10, 15 or 25 years. That could be done, at least in part, by Tehran signing the Additional Protocols of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), something that the Islamic Republic had promised to do during Obama's presidency but didn't.

Trump's sanctions, which cost the US nothing, are placing the Islamic Republic under a degree of pressure it has never known. This is why Khamenei, his huffing-and-puffing notwithstanding, is ready to do what he is told, provided he can save a minimum of face. His chief aim at present is to survive the rough patch created for him by Trump. That could be done if he is allowed to sell even a million barrels of oil a day to finance his pet projects and surrogates at home and abroad. Will Trump be tempted to declare victory and let the Islamic Republic off the hook at a time it is reeling under pressure?

The US and its closest allies will have to decide whether to let the Islamic Republic off the hook yet again, and, as always, in exchange for partial and largely cosmetic concessions.
Iran condemns UK during meeting with Oman's foreign minister
Iran President Hassan Rouhani condemned the UK while meeting with Oman’s Foreign Minister in Tehran, saying that the seizure of an Iranian tanker by UK Royal Marines earlier this month was to the “detriment” of the UK, and that Iran will “stand against any kind of violation of regulations that endangers the security of navigation in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz or Sea of Oman.”
Clearly Rouhani’s comments are intended as a veiled threat to the UK. Iran has already seized a UK tanker in response, and London has said it will attempt to protect its ships from more Iranian harassment.

But Iran’s message to Oman, which is a strategic state sitting at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, is that Tehran seeks closer ties, and that the two countries have common interests. This is important because the recent tensions between Iran and the US, as well as Iran and other countries in the region, has spilled over into the Gulf of Oman. This includes the sabotage of four tankers on May 12, the attack on two more on June 13, and the downing of a US drone in June. The US has blamed Iran for the recent sabotage and attacks on tankers, but the US has not put forward a viable plan to stop Iran’s harassment of shipping.

Rouhani’s statements about the UK in the presence of the Omanis sends a signal about Iran’s overall desire to control the Straits of Hormuz and claim that the entire area is a key to Iran’s “security.” Iran has previously threatened to do as it pleases in the straits, and angered by US sanctions, has shown that it can threaten ships using a variety of means, including missiles, drones and speed boats.

“The presence of foreign forces does not only contribute to the security of the region, it is also the main cause of tensions,” Rouhani said, according to Mehr News.
Guardian looks to the future to demonise Israel today
The Guardian’s Alison Flood begins her July 25th review of a new science fiction book by Palestinian writers imagining “what their country might look like in 2048” with a historical inaccuracy of her own:
Twelve acclaimed Palestinian writers have imagined what their country might look like in 2048, 100 years after the Nakba saw more than 700,000 people expelled from their homes, in what is believed to be the first ever collection of science fiction from the occupied territories.

As we noted to Flood – who appears to have copied and pasted that stat from the book’s website – in a tweet, and to editors in a complaint, there are no serious historians who claim that all 700,000 Palestinians were “expelled” during the 1948 war. Historian Benny Morris has demonstrated that the overwhelming majority fled due to the war, which, let’s remember, was an Arab war of annihilation against the nascent Jewish state, not because of an expulsion order. In fact, the Guardian itself almost always is careful with their language about this issue, merely claiming that “some were expelled and some fled”.

In the piece, Flood also quotes Basma Ghalayini, the editor of the collection, in her introduction describing what she terms Israel’s “totalitarian” occupation of the West Bank, an extraordinarily misleading framing given that most West Bank Palestinians are ruled (militarily and administratively) by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and that it is Ramallah – not Jerusalem – which routinely exercises authoritarian control over its Palestinian population.

Later, she quotes Ghalayini insinuating that Zionism is racist, when she writes “Everything in that area that was former Palestine is determined by how Jewish you’re considered to be”, a claim undermined by the fact that 25% of Israel’s citizens are not Jewish, yet enjoy equal rights under the law.

Newly discovered account of 1933 Reichstag fire casts doubt on Nazi narrative
An account by Hans-Martin Lennings, a former member of the Nazi paramilitary SA group, was found in the archives of a Hanover court. In the account, Lennings stated that he drove Van der Lubbe to the Reichstag on the night of the fire.

According to his testimony, when Lennings, Van der Lubbe and other SA members arrived they noticed "a strange smell of burning and there were clouds of smoke billowing through the rooms," indicating that the fire had already started when they arrived.

Lennings also stated in his testimony that he and several colleagues protested the arrest of van der Lubbe. He stated, "We were convinced that van der Lubbe could not possibly have been the arsonist, because according to our observation, the Reichstag had already been burning when we dropped him off there."

Lennings also claimed that he and other witnesses were detained and were forced to sign a notice denying any knowledge of the incident. Lennings said that to escape further punishment, he escaped to the former Czechoslovakia; several colleagues who were with him the night of the fire were executed.

The former SA member, who died in 1962, gave his testimony in a 1955 affidavit in the event that the Reichstag fire case ever went back to trial.

Van der Lubbe was posthumously pardoned by the German government in 2008, under a 1998 law lifting the convictions of people who committed crimes against the Nazi regime.
Memorial unveiled for Ukrainian Jews massacred in Holocaust
Among those who attended the ceremony were the district’s Governor Eiom Vasilovitz, Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Leon, RCE general director Rabbi Arye Goldberg, Chief Rabbi of orphanage and Western Ukraine Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm, and members of the Jewish community who survived the massacre.

Goldberg said during the ceremony that the RCE and its 700 plus rabbinical members across Europe have taken this “very important mission upon themselves” and is in the process of an extensive operation to locate and establish tombstones on other Jewish mass graves in Ukraine.

“We are collecting evidence and as many testimonies possible from elderly Jews and Ukrainians who still remember,” Goldberg explained. “We then locate the mass graves and only after a team of experts confirms the findings, we establish tombstones for the memory of the victims.”

RCE and European Jewish Association chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin emphasized that “the special activity for locating and establishing tombstones on the tombs of the victims was held in parallel with the effort to further and renew Jewish life throughout the Ukraine, as well as the restoration of synagogues and mikvahs.”

Ambassador Leon recited the kaddish prayer during the ceremony, and said that the embassy was conducting “a special program for training Ukrainian teachers on how to teach the lessons of the Holocaust in schools throughout the country.”

Leon said he “calls upon the new Ukrainian president and members of the Rada (Parliament in Kiev) to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definitions of antisemitism.”
Israel, U.S. carry out successful test of Arrow-3 missile over Alaska
In face of Iran's continued development of long-range missiles, Israel and the United States completed a series of tests of the new long-range Arrow-3 ballistic missile defense system in Alaska, including the successful interception of an "enemy" target.

The series of experiments over the course of 10 days saw three successful interceptions. It was the first time that such a test took place outside of Israeli territory and took place at Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska (PSCA) in Kodiak, Alaska.

In the exercise, the system was tested against targets similar in behavior to advanced ballistic missiles being developed by Iran and future threats which Israel might face. Israel and the United States remain concerned that Iran has continued to work on both its nuclear program as well as its ballistic missile program despite international criticism.

The successful test was attended by the Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer.

The series of experiments successfully demonstrated the missile’s capability against exo-atmospheric targets. An American AN-TPY2 radar participated in the test and successfully demonstrated operational connectivity between the systems.

“Ten challenging years of development have culminated in this moment: the Arrow 3 weapon system completed a test campaign, during which an Arrow 3 interceptor completed full interception of the target,”said Moshe Patel, the director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization.

Netanyahu: Execution of Arrow 3 anti-missile 'perfect'
Israel has the ability to defend itself against ballistic missiles launched against it from anywhere in the world, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, announcing the successful test of the Arrow 3 anti-missile defense system in Alaska.

“The Arrow 3 intercepted ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting that was attended by US Ambassador David Friedman. “The test succeeded beyond all imagination.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watching the Arrow 3 test at the weekly cabinet meeting (Credit: Yanir Cozin/Maariv)He added that the execution was “perfect,” and Arrow 3’s hit on the target was a “bull’s eye.”

“Today Israel has the ability to act against ballistic missiles launched against us from Iran or anywhere else,” Netanyahu said. “This is a tremendous achievement for Israel’s security. Let our enemies know that both on defense and on offense we can defeat them.”

The test explains Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer's mysterious visit to Alaska last week.

“Over the last few weeks, we have conducted three secret breakthrough tests on the Arrow 3,” Netanyahu said. “These tests were conducted in Alaska, with the full cooperation of our great ally, the United States.”

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