Tuesday, February 18, 2020

From Ian:

British Comedian Confronts Holocaust Denier in New Documentary
In a new BBC2 documentary that aired on Monday, British Jewish comedian and presenter David Baddiel sat down with a Holocaust denier and challenged his conspiratorial views.

A clip from “Confronting Holocaust Denial” showed a frustrated Baddiel trying to argue logically with Irish antisemite Dermot Mulqueen, who expressed a range of vicious tropes, among them the medieval accusation that Jews murdered Christian children and that Jews “hate” Europeans.

Baddiel at one point countered, “If the gas chambers never existed, us Jews would have no reason to hate Europeans. Why would we hate Europeans for something that actually never happened?”

Mulqueen paused awkwardly in response, before stammering, “…because it’s profitable.”

After being arrested in 2015 for vandalizing private property in protest of Holocaust Memorial Day, Mulqueen unsuccessfully ran in Ireland’s 2016 general election as an independent MP.

In an interview with BBC HistoryExtra, Baddiel said he struggled with the question of whether exposing Holocaust deniers to the public provided them a platform to gain legitimacy.

“My feeling — and indeed the empirical fact — is that Holocaust denial won’t go away if we ignore it and therefore it’s better to confront it, and at some level try to understand it. That was my mission in this film,” explained Baddiel.
BBC: Confronting Holocaust Denial with David Baddiel
The Holocaust is one of the most documented, witnessed and written about events in history, yet one in six people worldwide either think the Holocaust has been exaggerated or deny that it took place. What has happened in the 75 years since the liberation of the camps to have so skewed the picture? And, if it matters, why does it matter?

In this timely and important film, David Baddiel explores the multi-faceted nature of Holocaust denial - in both historical and contemporary terms, in an attempt to understand what motivates this dangerous phenomenon and why it is on the rise, both in Britain and across the globe.

David begin his journey at Chelmno, the site of a huge extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland where 200,000 Jews were murdered. He learns of the extraordinary lengths German forces employed to conceal what they were doing – building huge crematoria to burn bodies, using ‘bone mills’ to grind down skeletons and scattering the resulting human ashes in surrounding woodland. For David, this is the starting point of Holocaust denial – where the Nazis themselves were attempting to deny their actions.

But the Germans were not alone in concealing the truth of the Holocaust. In the national archives in Kew, David uncovers an extraordinary memo issued by the Ministry of Information’s propaganda department, discussing how the atrocities of death camps should be reported to the public. The memo recommends reports focus on the camps' ‘innocent victims’, not criminals, and ‘not Jews’. This idea that the suffering of the Jewish people should somehow be played down was still dominant when the camps were liberated - many newsreels barely mention that the majority of victims had been Jewish. For David, anti-Semitism is fundamentally at the root of all Holocaust denial.

David discovers how, as the true scale of the Holocaust emerges in the postwar years, the numbers of people attempting to deny or to downplay its scale increases. There is a direct correlation between a higher profile of the Holocaust and rates of denial, something reflected in David’s own experience. As soon as this programme is announced by the BBC, David's Twitter feed fills with posts trying to deny the truth of the Holocaust. It begs the question whether David, by making the film, is himself fanning the flames of denial? And if so, should he be doing it?

New Forms of Old Hate: Confronting Assad’s Anti-Semitism in Germany
Now more than ever, Germany has its own domestic challenges again rising to the surface: the far-right ideology that has resurfaced throughout Europe in apparent response to the refugee crisis has provoked a resurgence of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia—particularly in Germany. On the one hand, many fear that if Germany fails to address its current situation, the world could relive one of its darkest moments in history. German-Jews have already been told by Jewish leadership to refrain from wearing Kippahs in public and remove mezuzot from their doors—many have begun to conceal their identity. The attempted attack on the Halle Synagogue—though prevented from becoming a full-blown massacre by a locked door—still led to a loss of life and demonstrates the repercussions of not actively addressing this issue. On the other hand, if this issue prioritized, as was publicly called for by Germany’s foreign minister, Germany will have the chance to confirm its position as a ‘land of opportunity,’ where people from around the world can reinvent themselves.

Yet while the German government has vowed to combat anti-Semitism, its threats so far have mainly consisted of unspecified consequences for individuals who attack German Jews. As a Syrian, I know that warnings alone are not enough to counter decades of anti-Semitic messaging. In febrile minds of extreme anti-Semites, attacking Jews can be seen as an honorable and courageous act. In many cases, these individuals have been conditioned since birth to perceive the Jewish people as their enemy, themselves victims of a narrative designed to prevent them from holding their country’s dictators accountable for the widespread misery felt throughout the Arab world.

Syrians must educate themselves on persistent history of Anti-Semitism, which did not start with the Holocaust—nor end with the creation of the state of Israel. Every Syrian who aspires to become a European citizen must refuse to be an anti-Semitic extension of their government. Germany, with its years of retraining its own population, has a lot to offer on this front, but the German government must make this a priority and a commitment with its deeds as well as its words.

A Europe unsafe for Jews will never be safe for other minorities. When Syrian communities throughout Europe come to recognize this reality, there is the remarkable potential for fostering a conducive environment for Jews and Syrians to respect one another, encouraging understanding and cooperation between neighbours and mutual support of minority communities throughout Europe. However, getting to this point will require a lot of effort and determination, both on the side of the German government and among Syrian communities themselves.

Bernie Sanders releases new ‘proud to be Jewish’ campaign video
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has released a new campaign video in which he says he is “very proud to be Jewish” and that he looks forward to “becoming the first Jewish president in the history of this country.”

The two minute and 40 second video also blames President Trump for a rise in anti-Semitic incidents and for empowering neo-Nazis in the US It includes footage of Trump saying things that many have interpreted as anti-Semitic, including comments about Jewish money at a Republican Jewish Coalition speech and his statement that Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal.”

It is Sanders’ second campaign video focusing on Jewishness.

During his 2016 run for the Democratic nomination, Sanders was at first reluctant to mention his Jewish heritage, although he was the first Jewish major-party candidate to win ever nominating contests.

This election cycle, he has emphasized his Jewishness.

Labour’s policy on Israel and the Palestinians should not be dictated by PSC
Bizarre as it may seem, the Jewish community may have reason to be cautiously optimistic about Labour’s leadership election.

The “continuity Corbyn” candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey, trails Keir Starmer after the second stage of the contest, nominated by only 164 CLPs (Constituency Labour Parties) to his 374 and 72 for Lisa Nandy’s insurgent campaign.

At the huge hustings meeting held by the Jewish Labour Movement last week Nandy wowed the crowd with her answers on antisemitism and whether she was a Zionist, helping her to win JLM’s nomination with 50.9% of the vote. Starmer gave solid answers, even if he was reticent to describe himself as a Zionist.

But this weekend both Nandy, the current Chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, and Long-Bailey signed a set of three pledges produced by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). Starmer has yet to respond.

The pledges read:
- “To oppose any proposed solution for Palestinians, including Trump’s ‘deal’, not based on international law and UN resolutions recognising their collective rights to self-determination and to return to their homes.
- To adhere to a consistent ethical UK trade policy, including in relation to Israel, in particular by applying international law on settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and stopping any arms trade with Israel that is used in violation of the human rights of Palestinians.
- To oppose the government’s proposed restrictive legislation regarding procurement and investment and, if that is passed, to promise that a future Labour government would make it a priority to rescind laws which restrict the globally recognised rights to freedom of expression and association to campaign for ethical trade policies.”
Irish MP Blames Mossad ‘Interference’ for Corbyn’s Defeat in UK General Elections
A newly-elected Irish parliamentarian recently claimed on Twitter that Israel’s foreign intelligence agency was responsible for UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s resounding defeat in the UK general elections last December, The Sunday Times reported.

Reada Cronin, 46, is a Sinn Fein representative from Kildare North in the Dail Eireann — the lower house the Orieachtas.

““Mossad. Interference. In. The. British. Election. Brits. Being. Led. By. The. Nose,” read one of her tweets.

“Mossad have involved themselves in dirty tricks in elections not too far away,” charged another.

Responding to one commenter who dismissed her view as conspiratorial, Cronin wrote, “When the Nazis come back, and they’re on the march, it’ll be Jeremy Corbyn will stand with you. You are a disgrace to your forefathers.”

Additional tweets that have since been deleted asserted that the Mossad’s alleged actions were “blatant as f***,” and that Corbyn was a “principled man” who was a victim of “lies, deceit, fake news, and the sinister activities of the Mossad Secret Service.”

Amnesty report equates IDF defense with Iranian action against protesters
Amnesty International has labeled 2019 a "year of defiance" across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in a report released on Tuesday.

The study focuses on mass uprisings and human rights abuses, and equates the Israel Defense Forces’ use of “excessive, including lethal, force against demonstrators" in the Gaza Strip with the violent suppression seen during protests in Iran and Iraq.

“The shocking death tolls among protesters in Iraq and Iran illustrate the extreme lengths to which these governments were prepared to go in order to silence all forms of dissent,” wrote Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for MENA. “Meanwhile, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel’s policy of using excessive, including lethal, force against demonstrators there continued unabated.”

It also celebrates the International Criminal Court’s decision to charge Israel with war crimes committed against Palestinians.

"The announcement by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that war crimes had been committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and that an investigation should be opened as soon as the ICC’s territorial jurisdiction has been confirmed, offered a crucial opportunity to end decades of impunity," the report reads. "The ICC indicated that the investigation could cover Israel’s killing of protesters in Gaza."
Anti-Israel Protesters Disrupt Talk by Renowned Holocaust Scholar Deborah Lipstadt at UC Berkeley
Renowned Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt was disrupted by a group of anti-Israel activists during a talk on antisemitism at the University of California, Berkeley, last Thursday.

In a Twitter thread posted on Sunday, Lipstadt pointed out that her lecture was on present-day antisemitism and had nothing to do with Israel, implying that the protesters had targeted her because she was a Jew speaking on Jewish issues.

“My talk was about antisemitism here and now,” she said in a Twitter thread posted on Sunday. “Not about Israel. Three protesters positioned themselves next to me with signs attacking Israel.”

“In the talk, when I spoke about antisemitism from the left, I mentioned that many people refuse to see antisemitism as legitimate,” Lipstadt said. “They dismiss claims of antisemitism as simply being a sop to protect Israel. This is the only prejudice those on the left refuse to take seriously.”

“I want to thank the protesters for making my point more clearly than my words could,” she stated.

Lipstadt noted she had ignored the protesters, as she had “far more important things to discuss.”

Well-known for her work on Holocaust denial, Lipstadt shot to prominence in 1996 when Holocaust denier David Irving sued her for libel.

Berlin’s commissioner to fight antisemitism slams university for BDS event
The city-state of Berlin’s commissioner to combat antisemitism, Lorenz Korgel, on Monday criticized Humboldt University for holding an event with an alleged academic antisemite who promotes the BDS campaign targeting Israel.

“If anti-Israeli boycott and delegitimization campaigns are directly supported, the line regarding Israel-related antisemitism was crossed. The Berlin Senate has clearly taken a stand against campaigns of this kind,” Korgel told The Jerusalem Post.

The Post reported last week that the Berlin-based Humboldt University, which expelled Jewish academics and students during the Nazi-era, hosted an anti-Israel event with the pro-BDS academic Georg Meggle.

Dr. Elvira Groezinger, vice chairwoman of the German branch of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told the Post on Monday that Humboldt University “defies scientific integrity and ethics. Apparently, the old antisemitic GDR [German Democratic Republic] spirit still prevails there, which Jeffrey Herf describes so well in his latest book Undeclared Wars against Israel.”
Pro-Israel Activists Urge Durham Jewish Federation to Drop Mayor With BDS Ties From Event
A group of pro-Israel activists in North Carolina is calling on the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill to rescind an invitation to Durham Mayor Steve Schewel to speak at a Feb. 20 event, citing the mayor’s role in a 2018 city council resolution banning police training with Israel.

“We believe the Federation’s promotion of Schewel is part of a systemic problem plaguing Jewish institutions today—that is, the normalization of pro-BDS rhetoric that is jeopardizing the Jewish people and silencing strong Zionist voices,” according to a letter obtained by JNS from the North Carolina Coalition for Israel and Fight Back Now.

“We therefore implore the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill to rescind its invitation to Schewel to introduce this event. Moreover, we urge Jewish Federations in the United States to implement policies prohibiting BDS activists from being given a platform by the organizations,” the group said.

Schewel is scheduled to offer a “special introduction” for an event titled “Ignited Talks: The State of Black Durham” at the Levin Jewish Community Center at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 20.

“It’s long overdue that our Jewish leaders and institutions actively defend us from the toxic BDS advocates and sympathizers who are making this country so hostile to Zionists,” said Kathryn Wolf, a Durham resident and executive director of Fight Back Now, a non-profit advocacy group battling the “Deadly Exchange” campaign nationally.

“We live in a region in North Carolina that is rife with anti-Zionism,” she continued. “It’s a daily struggle to confront the constant barrage of pro-BDS speakers, seminars and events here. When our leaders undermine us by elevating BDS proponents, it’s hurtful, of course, but more important, it’s harmful.”
University of Illinois Student President Vetoes BDS Bill
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student president has vetoed a BDS resolution that was passed last Thursday by the student government.

The bill will now likely be heard again by the student government, where it will need a two-thirds majority to override the president’s veto.

The resolution called on the university to divest from “companies that profit from human-rights violations in Palestine and other communities globally,” as well as from firms that provide weaponry and technology to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to a copy of the resolution obtained by JNS ahead of the vote, which included endorsements from half of the student government’s leadership committee.

The final vote was 20 in favor, nine against and seven abstentions.

Shortly after its passage, the BDS resolution was also swiftly rejected by the university’s administration, saying that such resolutions do not “represent the university administration.”

“ISG resolutions are non-binding, and the university has no plans to act on this one,” the university said in a statement. “We are committed to dialogue and to supporting students as they navigate challenging conversations about diversity and inclusion, and we will continue to plan programming designed to build understanding of different perspectives on complex and divisive issues.”

BBC WS radio jumps on the Gaza comparison bandwagon
Last week we saw how an edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ highlighted a redundant comparison between the situation in Idlib, Syria, and the Gaza Strip which was made by interviewee David Miliband of the NGO the International Rescue Committee.

BBC Radio 4 promotes a redundant comparison

The February 13th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ – presented by Tim Franks – also included an item on the topic of the humanitarian crisis in Idlib (from 30:06 here), most of which was given over to an interview with David Miliband that was also promoted as a stand-alone item.

During that six-minute interview Miliband again brought up the subject of the Gaza Strip in one sentence.

Miliband: “Just to give your listeners a sense; the density of population in the Idlib province is now greater than the density of population on [sic] the Gaza Strip which historically has been seen as one of the most confined areas in the world.”

Franks later brought up that statement again, describing Miliband’s statement as a ‘statistic’.

Franks: “…and as you say – and I haven’t heard this statistic before – the idea that there’s a greater concentration of people there now than there is even in the Gaza Strip…”

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the population density in the Gaza Strip was 5,453 persons/km2 in mid 2019. According to the department of planning in New York City – where David Miliband resides – the population density is around 10,424 persons/km2 and in the city of London, from which ‘Newshour’ is broadcast, the population density is reported to be on average 5,590 persons/km2 with some districts having a population density of 11,200 persons/km2.
BBC News recycles a well-told Nazareth story
“Shared interests” (as expressed in the article’s closing quotes from the two entrepreneurs) are of course not the same as “easing hostilities”, “heal[ing] conflict” or “promoting tourism to ease Israel’s tensions” and sharp-eyed Hebrew fluent readers may have noticed the political ‘Nakba’ graffiti in the background of the article’s second photograph.

While the majority of visitors to the BBC News website will of course not click on the link to read the academic paper, those who do will find quotes from “Interviewee B” who is the same Suraida Shomar Nasser appearing in Sherriff’s article.

“Interviewee B described the importance of engaging guests in this story in very strong terms:
I sit with guests – [and] many of them are Jews – and I share with them that [my] grandpa [Fauzi Azar] fought against the occupation. And [sometimes they] ask me, “Do you still call it occupation?” I say, “Excuse me, maybe for me it is still occupation.”. … . Sharing this story with [our] guests is giving us [an opportunity] … to tell [visitors] that here are Arab Christians. Ok, we have Israeli identity cards but it doesn’t mean that we don’t feel [a sense of] belonging to the Palestinians, or we are not Palestinians anymore. […]

Interviewee B sees the guesthouse as a potential empowerment vehicle for acknowledging and validating her family’s experience in this conflict. This is important because of Interviewee B’s minority status in Israeli society. The tourism element is also important here because it is the inn’s guests that create the opportunity to share this experience. Without guests, there would be no audience with which to transfer the story.”

There is no obvious reason for the BBC’s decision to publish this article at this particular time beyond the fact that its messaging and agenda fit the ‘Crossing Divides’ mission of telling “stories about bringing people together in a fragmented world”. However what BBC audiences find is a superficial report by a freelance journalist with no known Middle East expertise on a brief visit to Israel which casts no new light on one already well-told story and makes no effort to provide background information and context to what it blandly touts as “Israel’s tensions” and “divided communities”.
YouTube bans white nationalist Nick Fuentes’ channel for hate speech
The YouTube channel of white nationalist Nick Fuentes has been banned for hate speech.

Fuentes leads the Groyper Army, a group of young far-right activists who want to push mainstream conservatism towards white nationalism. He has questioned the number of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust and believes that Israel has a malicious influence on US policy.

Fuentes revealed the news about his channel to his 86,600 Twitter followers on Saturday.

He announced that his YouTube show will continue next week on DLive, a live streaming website on blockchain.

In 2018, Fuentes said he avoids the term “white nationalist” for purely tactical reasons.

“The reason I wouldn’t call myself a white nationalist — it’s not because I don’t see the necessity for white people to have a homeland and for white people to have a country,” Fuentes said. “It’s because I think that kind of terminology is used almost exclusively by the left to defame and I think the terminology and the labels that we use — I don’t think that we can look at them outside of the context of their connotations in America.”
As Belgian City of Aalst Readies for 2020 Carnival, Experts Warn Against Crude Antisemitic Caricatures
Three prominent Belgian academics have called on the annual carnival in the city of Aalst to withdraw the antisemitic caricatures which — as in previous years — are scheduled to appear at the 2020 event beginning this weekend.

In an oped that was widely quoted in the Belgian media on Tuesday, the three professors, who lecture on the history of antisemitism at their respective universities, reminded carnival organizers that the crudely antisemitic images that will be on display in Aalst have licensed mass violence against Jews in the past.

“Of course we realize that a float on a carnival procession in itself will not cause genocide, but we also know from history that when extreme violence has come at us, it started with these small steps, and with people who felt powerless and therefore looked away,” the academics — Vivian Liska, Didier Pollefeyt and Klaas Smelik — stated.

An ostensibly lighthearted jamboree with its origins in the Middle Ages, the Aalst Carnival was recognized in 2010 by UNESCO — the UN’s cultural and educational agency — as belonging to the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

But that status was withdrawn by UNESCO last December over what the agency condemned as a “recurring repetition of racist and antisemitic representations.”

The carnival’s last outing, in March 2019, included a float with two giant figures of observant Jews depicted as caricatures with side curls and large noses, sitting on bags of money.
Anti-Semitism in the Netherlands hits all-time high in 2019
The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the Netherlands reached an all-time high in 2019, according to the Center for Information and Documentation Israel.

In 2019, 182 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in the Netherlands, an unprecedented number in the 30 years in which the CIDI has documented the issue, marking a 35% rise compared to 2018. For instance, 2018 saw 18 anti-Semitic incidents labeled "harmful abuse," compared to 44 such incidents in 2019.

The past year also saw two physical assaults due to anti-Semitism. The CIDI said that up to this point 2014 had been the worst year in terms of anti-Semitic incidents (171), but at that time the spike was caused by harsh reactions to Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza; while 2019 offered no such supposed context for the rise in anti-Semitism.

However, the real picture of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands is far bleaker, according to the CIDI, as most victims of anti-Semitic attacks – verbal or physical – don't report them to the authorities "because they believe nothing will come of it."

Speaking with Israel Hayom, CIDI Director Hanna Luden said the organization would soon publish a comprehensive report on online anti-Semitism.

"Of course enforcement [of community guidelines] must be increased online and on social media sites – which influence actual behavior to a worrisome degree. The [Dutch] government and companies also need to buck up and fight – on the national and international fronts – against the phenomenon of libels, hatred and verbal abuse that have a direct effect on the 'real world.'"
Tel Aviv Ranked 16th Most Economically Influential City in the World
Tel Aviv has been ranked the world’s 16th most economically influential city, ahead of Zurich, Amsterdam and Jakarta, according to a ranking by CEOWORLD magazine.

The ranking took into account cities’ overall economic activity, strength of the finance and banking industries, political and demographic influence, quality of life and competitiveness in business, culture and politics.

Tel Aviv scored a total of 74.37/100 points, closely behind Riyadh and Dubai. The Mediterranean business hub saw off cities such as Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

London came in first in the ranking, scoring 85.5 points. The top 10 was complemented by New York, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, Berlin, Shanghai, Brussels, New Delhi, and Toronto.

Just last year Tel Aviv was ranked 21st in Time Out magazine’s famed list of the world’s 48 best cities. It ranked best in the Middle East.
Israeli researchers develop technology producing water from air
Researchers at Haifa’s Technion–Israel Institute of Technology say they have developed a standalone system capable of producing water from air, including in desert regions.

Described as the “first technology of its kind in the world,” the energy-efficient system aims to assist small and isolated communities far from freshwater and saltwater sources.

Unlike existing water-from-air technologies, based on cooling condensation techniques, the system is based on a two-stage cyclic process: first separating moisture from air by absorption using a highly-concentrated saline solution, and then separating the moisture by condensing the vapor under sub-atmospheric pressure conditions.

“Besides being energy efficient, the new technology offers an additional advantage: as part of the process the water undergoes also pollutant removal processes,” said Prof. David Broday, who developed the technology with Prof. Eran Friedler.

“Our technology turns water into a commodity as it enables water to be produced anywhere in the world, without being dependent upon existing sources of liquid water.”
Israel Police Set to Get First Hijab-Wearing Muslim Lieutenant
Sabreen Saadi is set become the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman to attain the rank of lieutenant in the Israel Police.

“I always love to share stories about Arab Israelis since their stories are seldom heard in int’l media,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arab media spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman, tweeted on Monday. “Congrats to Master Sgt. Sabreen Saadi, a Hijab wearing muslim police officer, who will soon become a lieutenant with the Israeli police!

Saadi comes from a traditional Muslim family in a Bedouin town in northern Israel. She told Yediot Ahronot she had received some threats from others in her community over her choice of career path, but said she was not deterred, stating, “I fear only God.”

Since 2016, when the Israeli government established a special unit aimed at improving policing and security in the country’s Arab communities, more than 600 Arab men and 55 Arab women have enlisted in the Israel Police. Eight new police stations have been established in the Arab sector, with the intention of adding ten more.
An Israeli Combat Medic Risks His Life to Save Lives
One Friday afternoon, after yet another challenging mission, Guy M. changed out of his fatigues and headed home for a restful Shabbat.

The 24-year-old combat soldier and paramedic in IDF Unit 669 was desperately in need of a chance to stop and breathe, but the reprieve never came.

“We’d been planning a major operation behind enemy lines and the pieces fell into place that weekend, less than 24 hours after we’d returned from our last mission," he says.

"So that’s how I found myself changing back into my blood-stained uniform, boots still covered in mud from the last rescue, getting onto a helicopter and flying off on a mission.”

Guy’s story illustrates the life of a combat soldier in Unit 669, the Combat Rescue and Evacuation Unit of the Israel Air Force, whose duties often run at a furious pace - from rescue missions to secret military operations.

Guy served for about five years in Unit 669, and throughout this entire period – from strenuous training to through life-saving rescues and the most daring of military operations – he carefully documented his experiences.

The result was the best-selling book "From Zero to One Hundred," a compelling narrative about one of the IDF's top special ops units.
Its release was approved by military and ministerial censors, on the condition that Guy’s last name remain secret.

The book does far more than describe the experiences - often harrowing - of a combat soldier in a special ops unit. It is also a journal that reveals his inner thoughts and feelings.
Canaanite temple uncovered in biblical city destroyed by Joshua
A Canaanite temple and many artifacts have been uncovered in a city that, according to the Bible, was destroyed by the Israelites when they entered the Land of Israel after 40 years in the desert. The discovery shed light on the extensive ruins of a structure dating back to the 12th century BCE in Lachish, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced Monday.

The team was led by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel from the university’s Institute of Archaeology and Prof. Michael Hasel from Southern Adventist University in Tennessee. It presented its findings in The Journal of the Council for British Research in the Levant.

“Joshua proceeded with all Israel to Lachish; he encamped against it and attacked it. God delivered Lachish into the hands of Israel. They captured it on the second day and put it and all the people in it to the sword,” reads Joshua 10:31-32.

Among the crucial findings were a pottery shard featuring the Hebrew letter samekh, which represents the oldest-known engraving of the letter, gold artifacts and cultic figurines, including figurines depicting the warrior god Ba’al, who is mentioned dozens of times in the Bible – including several instances where the Israelites turn to its cult in spite of the commandments of God.

The site of Lachish was first identified in 1929 by William Foxwell Albright, who is considered the founding father of Biblical archaeology, Garfinkel told The Jerusalem Post.

“The city was a major Canaanite center city, as we know from historical sources,” he said. “There is no other site in this region as prominent. It is the right location, the right place, and the name ‘Lachish’ was found on some inscriptions found there.”
Garfinkel’s team first started excavating the site in 2013.
Rivlin to make first official visit to Australia
ISRAELI President Reuven Rivlin will make his first official visit to Australia this week at the invitation of Governor-General David Hurley, the president’s office said in a statement.

Rivlin will leave on Tuesday and is expected to arrive in Australia on Friday.

“I am excited to be visiting Australia for the first time as president,” the President said ahead of his trip.

“The relations between Israel and Australia are well-established and strong. They are based on shared values and true friendship that bridge the huge distance between us – not only countries, oceans and time zones, but also different cultures and traditions.”

During his time in Australia, Rivlin will meet with members of the Jewish community in Sydney and Melbourne, and mark the centenary of the United Israel Appeal organisation.

He will be officially welcomed by Hurley in Canberra next Wednesday and will meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison as well as other senior political figures, the statement said.

A business delegation from the Manufacturer’s Association of Israel and Israel Export Institute will accompany the president on his trip.

Also on his itinerary is opening the Australian Securities Exchange with a traditional ringing of its bell, and a visit to a warship.

The trip Down Under will also include stopovers in the Fiji Islands and Los Angeles.

Rivlin will return to Israel on February 27.

Further coverage in this week’s AJN.

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