Tuesday, May 16, 2023

From Ian:

A new low in Israel-bashing
Targeting terrorist leaders and their bombmakers is legal according to international law.

The only way to avoid civilian casualties when fighting terrorists embedded in civilian neighborhoods is never to attack the terrorists. That would reward the terrorists by granting them immunity as they plot and execute attacks and hide rockets in civilian homes.

Perhaps the French and the U.N. missed the story that PIJ leader Abu al-Ata was hiding inside a Gazan hospital to make himself immune to attack. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies said using “civilians to shield its weapons or fighters from lawful attack, the terror group committed a war crime in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

I have seen firsthand how Israel tries to avoid civilians in responding to missiles launched from civilian areas in Gaza. Israel often releases videos of aborted drone and missile strikes because civilians were in the line of fire. One example was on May 11, when an IDF pilot said, “There is a child here outside. Forty meters. Two. Hold fire. Hold fire.”

Yet when a missile aimed at Israeli civilians misfired in Gaza and killed four Palestinian civilians, including a 10-year-old child, the French made their best impression of famed mime Marcel Marceau, remaining mute.

The Obama administration defended targeting terrorists during our wars with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Jeh Johnson, Obama’s general counsel at the Department of Defense, said, “Under well-settled legal principles, lethal force against a valid military objective in an armed conflict is consistent with the law of war.”

Harold Koh, Obama’s State Department legal advisor, said, “A state engaged in an armed conflict or legitimate self-defense is not required to provide targets with legal process before the state may use lethal force. … The principles of distinction and proportionality … are implemented rigorously … in accordance with all applicable laws.”

In war, bad things happen to innocent people. Conflating civilian deaths associated with the legitimate targeting of terrorists with the accusation that Israel specifically targets civilians is a new low in Israel-bashing. Knowing that hostilities with asymmetric actors will plague the West for decades, it would behoove our government to articulate the rules of engagement with an enemy that places civilians in harm’s way for military and political gain.

Paris, let’s end the hypocrisy of pretending you don’t know that the IDF is unsurpassed in avoiding civilian casualties, while Iran’s proxy Palestinian terrorist organizations have deliberately aimed for civilian casualties for decades, targeting Israelis and drawing fire on their own involuntarily martyred “human shields.”
Stephen Daisley: The inconvenient Palestinians
His name was Abdullah Abu Jaba and I want you to remember it because it’s the last time you’ll hear it. He was a Palestinian from Gaza, reportedly a father of six, and was killed in the latest clashes between Israel and Palestine Islamic Jihad. You haven’t heard of Abu Jaba because he was an inconvenient Palestinian, one who cannot be held up as the latest victim of Zionist aggression. Pictures of his weeping widow and confused children will not fill your social media timeline. Major media outlets will not compete to tell human interest stories about how he played with his children or how his family will cope without him. No US congressmen or British MPs will demand justice for him.

Because Abu Jaba was not killed by Israel, but by Palestine Islamic Jihad. He was a labourer and working on an agricultural building site near Shokeda, a tiny Israeli village near the boundary with Gaza, when a PIJ rocket strike hit on Saturday. He was not protected by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system which only targets rockets heading for populated areas. Abu Jaba and a number of other men were working in a remote field despite an evacuation order issued by the Israeli army. A father will take whatever risks are necessary to put food on the table. Abu Jaba was 34, his eldest child is said to be 11.

He was one of the 18,000 Palestinians from Gaza who go to work in Israel every day. His brother, Hamad, is another. Hamad was seriously injured in the same attack. Israel’s defence ministry has recognised Abu Jaba as a terror victim, meaning his widow and children will receive the same compensation payments that go to Israeli families bereaved by terrorism. Palestinian guest workers in Israel can encounter suspicion, hostility and racism. It’s a relief, albeit a small one, that the Jerusalem bureaucracy will do right by Abu Jaba’s loved ones.

Abu Jaba is not the only inconvenient Palestinian. Among the civilian casualties recorded in the past week were Palestinians Ahmed Muhammad a-Shabaki (51), Rami Shadi Hamdan (16), Yazan Jawdat Fathi Elayyan (16), and Layan Bilal Mohammad Abdullah Mdoukh (10). Each is believed to have perished after Palestine Islamic Jihad rockets fell short and dropped inside Gaza instead of Israel. They join other inconvenient Palestinians, such as the 14 Gazans — half of them children — killed by misfired Palestinian rockets last August, and Mahmoud Abu Asabeh. Abu Asabeh, a Palestinian working in Ashdod, was killed in 2018 when a rocket from Gaza hit his apartment building. He was 48 and had five children.
NGO Monitor: NGO Ties of PFLP Bus Bombers
On May 8, 2023, Israel announced that it had arrested a six-member cell from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) responsible for manufacturing and planting a bomb on a bus in the town of Beitar Illit, on March 9, 2023. Authorities named the six suspects: Mohammad Al-Barq, Wisam Owainah, Ahmed Abu Naima, Mazen Abdallah, Rami Al-Ahmar, and Nour Mahmoud – all members of the PFLP’s student organization.

Based on open-source information, NGO Monitor has determined that at least two members of the cell have ties to European-funded NGOs. Mohammad Al-Barq volunteered at the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), and Wisam Owainah participated in a project organized by ActionAid. Notably, both previously expressed public support for PFLP terrorists and terrorism, an obvious indication to both the NGOs and their donors that these are terror-supporting individuals.

These links add to the approximately 50 PFLP-linked NGO board members, officials, and employees named in NGO Monitor’s February 2023 report, “Clear and Convincing: The Links between the PFLP and the European Government-funded NGO Network.”

Mohammad Al-Barq
According to the open source information, as of April 2023, Mohammad Al-Barq had been an active member at PMRS since at least December 2017. As documented by NGO Monitor, PMRS officials have participated in PFLP events, among other links.

On April 3, 2023, PMRS President Mustafa Barghouti wrote that “the prisoner volunteer Mohammad Al-Barq’s family” was honored and invited to the PMRS’ celebratory Iftar dinner, which Baraghouti himself also attended.

Q & A, Hosted by Jay Nordlinger: Sharansky on Russia and Ukraine, Oppression and Freedom
Natan Sharansky has been a world hero since the 1970s. He was a prisoner in the Soviet gulag for nine years. Afterward, he wrote one of the great prison memoirs: “Fear No Evil.” On May 8, he published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post: “Why Putin’s repression is worse than what I endured under the Soviets.” With Jay, he talks about the Kremlin’s current political prisoners, and the war on Ukraine, and related subjects. To listen to Sharansky is a bracing and instructive experience.
Tunisian president claims Djerba synagogue shooting wasn't antisemitic
Tunisian President Kais Saied claimed on Saturday that the attack in Djerba, in which two Jews and three police officers were killed, wasn’t antisemitic.

According to the Tunisian newspaper La Presse, Saied spoke during his visit to the Ariana district near the capital on Saturday. A video of the visit and the president’s statements was published by Saied’s office as well.

The shooting took place near the ancient El Ghriba Synagogue (also known as the Djerba Synagogue) in the Tunisian city. The two Jewish cousins who were murdered in last Tuesday night’s shooting were Aviel Hadad, 30, who was also an Israeli citizen working as a goldsmith in the local market, and Ben Hadad, 42, who lived in France and came in order to celebrate the festivities.

According to La Presse, Saied said that “here, in this place where I stand now, Tunisian Jews fleeing the Nazi forces who had pitched their tents here found refuge in this house, that of my grandfather.”

Saied responded to Western accusations of antisemitism and said that “these parties do not hesitate to make the false accusations of antisemitism while they turn a deaf ear when it comes to dealing with the plight of the Palestinians who are dying every day. The Palestinian people will succeed against all odds to triumph and recover their despoiled land.”

Saied referred to those calling the attack antisemitic as “the forgers of history bent on distorting history, falsifying facts and spreading untruths” and accused them of plotting “conspiracies against the state and endangering social peace.” Saied added that foreign parties leveling accusations of antisemitism were displaying “a garish duplicity of attitude and a short memory in grasping history, real history.”
Days after two Jews shot dead, Tunisian president compares Israel to Nazis
Two Jewish cousins were among those murdered on May 9 near a Tunisian synagogue. Four days later, Tunisian President Kais Saied compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany.

“While Tunisians protected Jews during the Holocaust, today elderly, women and children are being bombed in Gaza,” he said.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, called on European governments to condemn Saied’s statement, which he said implies “that the Jews of Tunisia are responsible for the bombing of Gaza.”

“Through such wanton remarks, the president continues to incite further hatred and even attacks against the country’s Jewish community, heaven forbid,” Goldschmidt said. “Since the attack, the Jewish community of Djerba has not been visited or contacted by any members of the government. The Tunisian president together with the relevant authorities should instead be offering support to the Jewish community and working to ensure its safety.”

Aviel Haddad, 30, a dual Israeli-Tunisian, was killed on May 9 alongside his cousin Benjamin Haddad, a 42-year-old French citizen. Three security personnel were also killed when a Tunisian National Guard member opened fire on people near Ghriba Synagogue on May 9 as Lag B’Omer celebrations were underway. A dozen others were injured.
The Geopolitics of U.S. Engagement in Sudan
Indeed, reviving vanished ties between the Soviet Union and both the Middle East and Africa has always been part of Putin’s strategic plan, and Sudan offers a gateway to both regions. Putin showed a direct interest in Sudan when, in December 2020, it was announced that Russia would build, under a 25-year lease, a naval facility capable of mooring nuclear-powered surface vessels at Port Sudan, directly across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia, one of Sudan’s top trading partners. Meanwhile, the Wagner Group’s growing influence in Darfur is helping Moscow to establish a corridor through Sudan to Russia’s established positions in Libya and the Central African Republic.

In the incipient Sudanese civil war, Russia is astutely supporting both sides. The Russian military engages with Burhan, while Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin aids Hemeti. Burhan and Hemeti hail from very distinct parts, geographically and culturally, of a huge country. Burhan represents the north, close historically to the Egyptians, and is respected among the Khartoum elite. Hemeti is from Darfur, which, for all intents and purposes, is a separate country that, thanks to an accident of British imperial history, is stuck inside the borders of modern Sudan.

Both sides are prisoners of what seems, for now, to be an unbridgeable ethnic divide. The likelihood that one of them will emerge as a decisive winner in firm control of the entire country is about nil. Whichever way the conflict plays out, Russia will likely retain a foothold.

A primary strategic goal of the United States is to reduce the size of that foothold and, if possible, eliminate it. That will be no mean task, but the Biden team has partners who can help. Like the Russians, the Israelis also engage with both Burhan and Hemeti. Jerusalem seeks to retain Sudan as a signatory to the historic Abraham Accords. In Sudan, as with so many other issues these days, Saudi and Israeli interests align. Like Jerusalem, Riyadh has also avoided the temptation to pick a winner.

That brings us back to Blinken’s engagement with Riyadh. If U.S. President Joe Biden places the Saudi-brokered talks between Burhan and Hemeti in the correct strategic frame, he will see them as one means to help bring the United States’ Middle Eastern partners, including Israel, closer together. The talks can serve as a tool not just to stabilize the Red Sea region but to deny it to Russia and China.

While Blinken’s rhetoric pays lip service to a democratic transition in Sudan, the administration’s actions suggest that it understands that a strategy centered on democracy promotion is destined to fail. China, Russia, and Iran seek to undermine the U.S.-led order globally. The only way to elevate Washington’s status in the Red Sea is by directly working with allies who can, in this case, negotiate a cease-fire between Hemeti and Burhan. Therein lies the true opportunity: to restore relations with Arab allies and to develop the Abraham Accords into a strategic instrument in the competition with Moscow and Beijing.

Israel files charges against killers of American-Israeli Elan Ganeles
Israeli military prosecutors on Monday filed charges against two Palestinians in connection with the murder of American-Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles on Feb. 27 near Jericho.

The Israel Defense Forces arrested Louie Maruf and Maher Shalon on March 1 while operating in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp in the Jordan Valley, close to where the murder took place.

According to the indictments, the two men planned the shooting together, purchasing a gun, ammunition and a car. The defendants then drove along Route 90 and began looking for Israeli vehicles and escape routes.

“The defendants shot at several Israeli vehicles, and when they noticed the vehicle driven by the late Elan Ganeles, they approached him and opened fire that penetrated the windshield of the vehicle and caused his death. The defendants then shot at another Israeli vehicle and then fled the scene and burned the vehicle they were using to carry out the attack,” the IDF statement said.

The two are being charged with intentionally causing death in a group—the military court’s equivalent of murder—along with other charges.

It was decided after the indictments to extend the detention of Maruf and Shalon until the end of the legal proceedings.

The home of one of the suspects was mapped for demolition in March.

The Israel Guys: Gaza Fires Rockets at Israel Hours After Agreeing to a CEASEFIRE
Thank God the Gaza war seems to have come to a conclusion. Unfortunately, Israel now lives in a horrible reality where they have to trust the word of terrorists to stop killing Israeli families. The Palestinian Authority is demanding that the International Criminal Court arrest Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir for suggesting that Israel stop terrorism in the West Bank.

Seth Frantzman: Syria's Assad may come in from the cold to attend climate conference - analysis
Attending a climate conference can make sense for Syria’s regime because some experts have blamed climate change for the regime’s crackdown and the war that resulted in 2011.

Over the last decade, it has become a common theme in some sectors to claim that the Syrian civil war was driven by climate change. DW had an article in 2021 that claimed that “researchers agree that climate change alone cannot be blamed for the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011.”

This shows that the Assad regime massacring thousands of people, and bombing its own cities and driving millions into displaced persons camps was not only caused by climate change, it was also people and human action behind the guns and bombs that also caused the war.

However, experts have argued that environmental changes may have helped “fan the flames” of the conflict, according to a piece at INSS in May 2021. In addition, it is believed that drought helped collapse Syria’s agricultural system and this fueled the war.

It has never been fully explained how climate change forced Syria’s regime to have a one-party one-family dictatorship or how Syria’s climate forced Syria to deny basic human rights to people or how it got Syria’s regime to deny citizenship and rights to the Kurdish minority.

It is not likely that the Syrian regime attending a climate event will lead to any answers about how climate change fueled the conflict or if anything has been done since then to address this issue in Syria or most of the countries in the wider region. It does appear that climate disasters, such as the low water levels of the Tigris River or other ecological disasters are not being fully addressed, and considering Syria will require billions of dollars to rebuild, it’s not clear how climate issues will be at the forefront.

Obviously, the invitation to Assad is merely symbolic, there’s not much likelihood that Syria will be focusing on climate issues while the country is divided and still in conflict.
Seth Frantzman: Why does Iran need 200,000 pro-Iran militiamen in Iraq?
A new report at Middle East Eye last week said that the “Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary umbrella group has doubled in size over the past two years, making it the third-largest force in the country, documents related to Iraq’s draft budget seen by Middle East Eye suggest.”

The report claimed that these pro-Iranian militias that became an official state-backed paramilitary force in 2018 now need some 3.56 trillion Iraqi dinars ($2.7 billion).

The Hashd or PMU was raised in 2014 after the fatwa by Ayatollah Ali Sistani, which encouraged young men to defend Baghdad from the ISIS offensive that year. Eventually huge numbers of men flocked to the banners of various units. There were dozens of Hashd brigades, most affiliated with various existing militias. Groups like Badr date back to the 1980s. Some of the groups like Kataib Hezbollah are closely linked to Iran’s IRGC. Some of these groups have threatened Israel over the years, such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq’s Qais Khazali and the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba group.

What matters is that groups that had a few thousand men under arms ballooned into 100,000 fighters. Then they strong-armed the Western-backed Abadi government to make them an official force. Then when Abadi was chucked out of power, having been used by Iran, Qasem Soleimani and the Hashd to frustrate Kurdistan’s independence referendum in 2017, the Hashd or PMU came to control swaths of the state. This was the Iranian IRGC model, similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, but even more powerful in some ways.

Pro-Iran militias in Iraq and the confusing numbers: "Unknown knowns"
Now the groups apparently want even more money for a shadow army of militias. It’s not clear if these men are all actually under arms or they are ghost units – units on paper – that are used to siphon off and divert Iraq’s limited state resources so that the money can flow to Tehran or to Syria where it is used to threaten US forces and Israel.

Prof. Phyllis Chesler: I am still shocked by the New York Times
I’ve been writing about antisemitism/anti-Zionism/Jew-hatred for a long time—and thus, I’ve also been documenting how The New York Times, my once (and sometimes still) beloved hometown newspaper, massively, insanely, obsessively, and dangerously distorts the news about Israel and the Jews.

Given their record about how they buried the Holocaust, I should no longer be surprised or shocked when I come across yet another grossly misleading headline, pull quote, article series, and photos. And yet, I still am, each and every time. But encountering this also makes me nauseous, frustrated, heartbroken, frightened.

This level and quantity of propaganda will—it already has—led to educated, American Jews’ decision to distance themselves both from Israel and from visibly religious Jews. How else will they be able to keep up, get ahead, remain safe?

But now, let us praise the Lord! Although The New York Times did cover Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s blocking of Representative Rashida Tlaib’s plan to host an “event at the Capitol commemorating the displacement of Arab “Palestinians” when the state of Israel was created,” it did not hold forth on the subject as it has done in the past.

Arab “Palestinians” have celebrated their "tremendous loss" and their even more canny self-sabotage by memorializing that loss, thereby empowering themselves to present themselves as the world’s most sacred victims; they don “Jewface,” condemn the Israeli government as “Nazis,” and claim that their non-acceptance of the UN 1948 Partition Plan (which Israel did accept) and subsequent attack of 5 Arab armies on Israel leading to an Arab military defeat 75 years ago is equivalent to a Holocaust-era “genocide.” To do so they have abandoned all reason. The fact that the Arab population in Jerusalem, Haifa, Gaza, and the disputed territories in the 'West Ban'k have only increased exponentially does not deter such propaganda, nor does it have the Western media questioning such a blatant, even laughable lie.
Rep. Matt Gaetz Calls For Defunding Radio After NPR Affiliate Airs Louis Farrakhan Speeches
Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz called to end federal funding for radio until a National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate stops playing Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speeches during a weekly show.

Final Call Radio, which airs every Sunday night on NPR affiliate WEAA 88.9, labels itself as “The Official Voice of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan” and plays his speeches where he makes antisemitic comments. WEAA received over $250,000 in funding in 2021, which is the latest year they uploaded, from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CBP) which is entirely funded by Congress.

The radio station airs in the Washington D.C.-Baltimore area.

Farrakhan has a history of “railing against Jews, white people and the LGBT community,” according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“Farrakhan has embarked on a wide-ranging campaign specifically targeting the Jewish community, a campaign that has featured some of the most hateful speeches of his tenure as head of NOI,” the ADL’s website reads. “Farrakhan has alleged that the Jewish people were responsible for the slave trade and that they conspire to control the government, the media and Hollywood, as well as various black individuals and organizations. He frequently denies the legitimacy of Judaism – or Jewish claim to the land of Israel — arguing that Judaism is nothing more than a ‘deceptive lie’ and a ‘theological error’ promoted by Jews to further their ‘control’ over America’s government and economy.”

“How did the Jewish people own most of the basketball players? Have you ever considered how did they become so rich, so powerful, so influential? The Synagogue of Satan calls me a hater, anti-semitic, homophobic, anti-white, anti-American. They keep you from a man that has truth in his mouth that will set you free,” Farrakhan said in a speech that aired on the NPR affiliate.

“Joe Biden says white supremacy is the nation’s greatest threat, but his administration is busy subsidizing the broadcast of Nation of Islam propaganda. Taxpayers should not be supporting Louis Farrakhan’s hateful rhetoric. I’m calling to halt any and all taxpayer funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting until WEAA stops airing Final Call Radio,” Gaetz told the Caller.
Guardian's Gaza coverage is a master class in deception
On Saturday, a ceasefire was reached between Israel and the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a group which seeks Israel’s annihilation, ending the fighting which began five days earlier.

Naturally, the Guardian’s postmortem on the conflict, written by Bethan McKernan and Hazem Balousha, had all the elements of bias we’ve come to expect: omitting vital context, erasing terrorists’ use of human shields while ignoring Israeli measures to avoid civilian casualties, and blaming Israel for hostilities while denying agency to Palestinians.

First, here’s how the Guardian frames the casualty count, in the piece (“Gaza ceasefire ends five days of fighting that left dozens dead”, May 14).

The violence – the most significant bout of fighting in the region in months – left 33 Palestinians dead, including at least 10 civilians, and killed an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from Gaza working in Israel.

McKernan and Balousha fail to acknowledge the main take-away of the numbers: that the ratio of civilian to terrorist fatalities was roughly 1:2 – showing that the IDF operation, in which 422 terrorist targets in the strip were struck, was the most successful from a humanitarian perspective in memory. In fact, all of the ten civilian casualties mentioned in their report evidently occurred in the IDF’s opening salvo, which killed three senior PIJ commanders who were responsible for directing rocket fire at Israel.

The Guardian also fails to report that four Palestinian civilians were likely killed by misfired PIJ rockets – including three children. Such misfires reportedly accounted for 20% of the 1,478 rockets and mortars fired at Israel by the terrorist group during the war.
GB News presenter in hot water after reposting Nazi-linked imagery
A GB News presenter is facing calls for his sacking and Ofcom involvement after retweeting an anti-vaccination social media post that depicts, among other offensive imagery, Microsoft founder Bill Gates as a Nazi experimenter.

Neil Oliver, who hosts a weekly opinion show on GB News, retweeted the image on Friday with the comment, “Bill Gates: the text book example of the danger posed by rich and powerful people utterly devoid of empathy or care for individual human life.”

The image features Nazi, Satanic, and Illuminati imagery with reference to the New World Order – a conspiracy involving a shadow totalitarian world government – Jeffrey Epstein, Dr Anthony Fauci – former chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden –the United Nations, and big pharma. Neil Oliver

Writer and broadcaster Matthew Sweet said on Twitter that the image seemed “to make mockery of the Holocaust by depicting Bill Gates as a Nazi experimenter with a swastika and IG Farben logo, which is presumably a reference to slave labour in Auschwitz”.

“Think how recently something like this would have caused national outrage. Now it’s just a normal Friday night on Twitter for a host with show on Ofcom regulated television,” Sweet added.

Nazi-linked jewels set record of $156M at auction
A collection of 700 jewels belonging to the wife of a billionaire businessman who grew his wealth as a member of the Nazi Party came up for auction through Christie's auction house in London on May 10.

Anticipated to fetch $150 million, the collection was to be sold all together and one of the most sought-after pieces, the Sunrise Ruby, was said to be worth $15 to $20 million on its own.

"This sale is indecent … this sale is also to finance a foundation with the mission to safeguard the name of a former Nazi for posterity," said Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France.

The jewels were previously owned by Heidi Horten, who was married to Helmut Horten. She inherited a billion dollars upon his passing in 1987. Heidi died in June 2022.

Many of the jewels ended up fetching much lower prices than estimated. The Sunrise Ruby sold for 13 million francs ($14.6 million). A diamond ring believed to be worth as much as 3.2 million francs sold for about $1.28 million.

However, ultimately the collection did sell above its lower estimates, earning $156 million.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Christie's to put the sale on hold so that further research of any connections to "Nazi-era acquisitions are completed. Don't reward those whose families may have gained riches from targeted Jews."
German church to cover antisemitic medieval sculpture but not remove it
A medieval antisemitic sculpture on the capital of a column in St. Peter and Paul cathedral in Brandenburg an der Havel in Germany will not be removed, church officials stated on Monday.

The sculpture of a "Judensau" (Jew sow) which is carved into a column about two meters above ground will instead be permanently covered up, the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia announced on its website.

Removal deemed impossible
The removal of the sculpture and its exhibition accompanied by historical explanation elsewhere were discussed, but deemed impossible for structural reasons and because of the sculpture's problematic terracotta material, said Bishop Christian Staeblein, who is chairman of the church's supervisory board.

It was then decided to enact “a form of visual elimination.” This way the sculpture will still be available for historical engagement with this medieval form of Jew-hatred, according to Staeblein.

Staeblein clarified that there was "neither any doubt about the antisemitic statement that emanates from this relief, nor about the guilt of the churches for actively promoting hatred of Jews and antisemitism." He added that he saw it as his task now "to deal with this heavy, shameful legacy in a conscious and appropriate manner."
Israel and Cyprus working on deal to build natural gas pipeline, processing plant
Cyprus and Israel are working on a deal to build a pipeline that will convey natural gas from both countries to the east Mediterranean island nation, where it will be liquefied for export by ship to Europe and potentially elsewhere, the Cypriot energy minister said Monday.

Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou said Monday he would soon visit Israel to hammer out a formal agreement. Once the deal is signed, the pipeline could be completed in 18 months.

It will take 2 ½ years to build a liquefaction plant on Cyprus once investors are secured.

So far, five sizable gas deposits have been discovered off Cyprus’s southern coastline. Israel has 11 such fields: the biggest, named Leviathan, contains an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet (623 billion cubic meters) of gas.

Papanastasiou said he would meet later this month with energy companies licensed to explore for oil and gas inside Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone — including French Total, Italy’s Eni, ExxonMobil and Chevron — to scope out ways of collaborating on projects that would expedite getting their gas discoveries to market.

The minister said Israel agreed to the proposal pitched by the Cypriot government for the pipeline and liquefaction plant, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disclosed on Sunday.

“The eastern Mediterranean has enough [gas] deposits. Most are inside Israel’s exclusive economic zone, but Cyprus has sufficient quantities as well for this project to materialize,” Papanastasiou told reporters.

The minister explained that this project was a truncated version of the EastMed pipeline idea. That proposal – for a 1,900-kilometer (1,300-mile), $6 billion pipeline designed to convey regional gas directly to Europe — has in recent years fallen out of favor.

Instead of a direct pipeline connection to Europe, processed gas from Cyprus could reach international markets by ship.
Israeli judo champion Inbar Lanir talks to i24NEWS
Judo Champion Inbar Lanir joins to talk about her recent gold medal in Qatar

Upcoming dramatic film ‘Jerusalem 67’ will chronicle Israel’s Six-Day War victory
A high-profile movie project depicting Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War could star “Jane the Virgin” actress Yael Grobglas.

Oded Raz — known for directing the Israeli box office hit “Maktub,” which now streams on Netflix — will direct “Jerusalem 67,” Variety reported on Friday.

Grobglas — a French-Israeli actress who starred in last year’s holiday rom-com “Hanukkah on Rye” — is in “advanced negotiations,” according to Variety, to play the lead role: “a civilian haunted by a painful childhood who leaves her family to serve on the frontlines of war.”

Variety added that the film has been a passion project for New York-based lawyer Joseph Schick, who has been developing it for a decade. It is slated to begin shooting in Israel in August, amid a spate of recent conflict and an atmosphere of division spurred by the election last year of the country’s most right-wing government in history.

“In 1967, Israel had social, cultural, economic divisions and it wasn’t a perfect society by any means. And I think what happened then is a reminder of how to handle that situation,” said Shick, who noted that the cast will be mostly Israeli.

The filmmakers considered shooting abroad before Israel enacted a tax-incentive program aimed at spurring more domestic film production, according to Variety.

“Jerusalem is a is a very special place to shoot,” said Raz. “It’s not an easy city to film every day. Something can happen because of the political situation but this environment and this atmosphere creates a special energy.”
Ancient tablet found on Mount Ebal predates known Hebrew inscriptions
An early Hebrew inscription from Mount Ebal near Nablus that was found on a folded lead tablet during an excavation in the 1980s recently underwent x-ray tomographic measurements to reveal hidden text.

Epigraphic analysis of the data revealed a formulaic curse written in a proto-alphabetic script likely dating to Late Bronze Age that predates any previously known Hebrew inscription in Israel by at least 200 years.

The finding has just been published in the journal Heritage Science by Prof. Gershon Galil, a researcher at in Jewish history and biblical studies at the University of Haifa; Scott Stripling of the Archaeological Studies Institute in Katy, Texas; Ivana Kumpova, Daniel Vavrik and Jaroslav Valach of the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics the Czech Academy of Sciences; and Pieter Gert van der Veen at the Department of Old Testament and Biblical Archaeology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany.

The inscription was: “You are cursed by the God YHW.”

In December 2019, an expedition on Mount Ebal to wet sift the discarded material from excavations led by Adam Zertal – a prominent but controversial University of Haifa archaeologist who died at the age of 79 in 2015 – from decades earlier, yielded a small, folded lead tablet.

The east dump pile from which the object emerged contained the discarded matrix from two structures that he interpreted as altars dated to the Late Bronze Age II and Iron Age I. The earlier and smaller round altar lay underneath the geometric center of the later and larger rectangular altar.

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