Monday, December 18, 2023

From Ian:

Seth Mandel: How Hamas Turned Gazans’ Dreams Into a Nightmare
Hamas. The terror group’s takeover of the strip turned the intifada from a temporary murderous outburst into a governing strategy. We now see what resulted from the billions of dollars in aid that flowed into the strip since: the construction of a second Gaza underneath the first, this one open to the kleptocratic Iranian satraps only.

Second, Israel’s blockade of Gaza was Swiss cheese. It never stopped necessities from entering the strip and didn’t even prevent the importation and smuggling of non-essential goods. Hamas merely stopped anything and everything from reaching Palestinians. The blockade wasn’t useless, however: It slowed Hamas’s ability to construct a region-destroying terror infrastructure. The tunnel system revealed yesterday was clearly meant for a vehicle-dependent invasion resembling the Oct. 7 massacre. The only thing lifting the blockade would have accomplished is to enable more death and destruction in the same time frame.

Finally, the tunnels unquestionably vindicate the extent of the Israeli invasion post-Oct. 7. Any significant part of the tunnel network left operational increases the chances of all this happening again—the resource diversion, the war.

It needs to be destroyed or otherwise neutralized, and Gaza’s terrorists must know and so must the public. Israel has the opportunity now to close the book on Hamas’s generational theft of the Gaza Strip. Perhaps Hatem Abu Eltayef’s descendants will one day see the Gaza of their dreams, possible only once Hamas is out of their way.
Bassam Tawil: The Curious Case of the Biden Administration and Hamas
Hamas is currently fighting to keep on ruling Gaza and the opportunity to regroup, rearm and destroy Israel -- which is why it is pleading for a ceasefire. Hamas's eyes are now set on the Biden administration and the United Nations, which they hope will prevent Israel from stopping the Hamas reign of abuse.

Did anyone call for a ceasefire when the US was routing ISIS in Syria and Iraq, or demanded that the US end its military campaign by a certain date?

The Hamas official... is saying that Palestinian terrorism pays -- even the US administration is turning against Israel.

The grotesque irony, of course, is that -- no matter how careful Israel is to avoid civilian casualties -- the more the West blames Israel for civilian deaths, and the more Hamas will place civilians in the line of fire in order to keep the international community blaming Israel.

The Biden administration should be telling Hamas, not Israel, to minimize the number of civilian casualties. The real cause of these casualties, besides Hamas, is therefore actually the Biden administration, the United Nations and the international community: they incentivize Hamas to place their own people in harm's way to be killed -- the more the better -- so that everyone can then accuse Israel. The act of blaming Israel for the casualties that were orchestrated by Hamas is, in fact, what is causing them. Hamas can only be looking around and saying to themselves, "Hey, it's working! So let's keep on doing it!"

If Israel were engaged in "indiscriminate bombing," it would not have asked Palestinian civilians to move to safe zones. If this were a war against the Palestinian population, Israel would have bombed the Gaza Strip only from the air, without risking the lives of its soldiers.

The message Biden is sending to the terrorists is: Hold on, we are with you and we want to remove Netanyahu and his government from power.

[T]he mounting pressure by the Biden administration on Israel to end the war is a sign that the US does not want to see Hamas destroyed. Hamas is undoubtedly hoping to be rewarded for their October 7 carnage with an independent, Iran-backed Islamist Palestinian state right next to their "mark," Israel.
In Israel’s Time of Need, Jewish Hollywood Has Failed the Audition
I understand: publicists, many of whom are Jewish, are advising clients that supporting Israel may be perceived as racist. Taking a stand in defense of the Jewish state might result in forfeiting a backlot bungalow or jeopardizing a three-picture deal.

Maybe, but how can you live with yourself?

So, for anyone in the entertainment industry who still has a soul and maintains a massive social media following, instead of posting narcissistic inanities, consider this:

Now is the time to be proud of your Jewish nose. Now is the time to hang a mezuzah on your doorpost. Now is the time to interrupt conversations where a moronic social justice warrior libels Israel as an apartheid state. Now is the time to withhold checks to universities that see Jewish students as legitimate targets of the “resistance.”

Now is the time to do more reading about the Middle East and Israel’s place in it. Now is the time to determine whether your local elected officials are backing America’s ally rather than the enemies of liberalism, free speech, open inquiry, feminism, gay rights, the rule of law, and the very concept of western civilization, itself.

Now is the time to emulate Jewish celebrities like Bill Maher, a liberal Democrat who isn’t afraid to speak the truth about the barbarians at Israel’s gate.

Now is the time to let philosemites like Jon Voight and Paul McCartney know how much you appreciate them.

And Adam Sandler: It’s time for a new Hanukkah song.

We’re ready for your screen test, Hollywood. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, might be over, but don’t let it go dark.
Stephen Fry: I fought for Gay Pride - today we need to fight for Jewish Pride
Since October 7 there have been 50 separate reported incidents of antisemitism every single day in London alone, an increase of 1350% according to the Metropolitan Police. Shop windows smashed, Stars of David and swastikas daubed on walls of Jewish properties, synagogues, and cemeteries. Jewish schools have been forced to close. There is real fear stalking the Jewish neighbourhoods of Britain. Jewish people here are becoming fearful of showing themselves. In Britain, in 2023.

My Jewish grandparents loved Britain, believing that Jews were more welcome here than in most countries. I am glad they aren’t alive now to read newspaper stories that would have reminded them of the 1930s Europe that they left. They believed Britishness meant being fair and decent, but what can be more unfair or indecent than race hatred, whether antisemitism, Islamophobia or any kind?

So what is my message this Christmas? The simple truth that we are all brothers and sisters. It’s naive, but it’s as good a message as any other. At this time in the face of the greatest rise in anti-Jewish racism since records began, Jews should stand upright and proud in who they are. Standing upright means speaking up and calling out venomous slurs and hateful abuse wherever you encounter them.

Knowing and loving this country as I do, I don’t believe that most Britons are ok living in a society that judges hatreds of Jews to be the one acceptable form of racism. So speak up, stand with us, be proud to be Jewish or Jew-ish - or, if not Jewish at all, proud to have us as much a part of this great nation as any other minority.

And so this mad quintessential queer English Jew wishes you all peace, joy, and a very merry Xmas, formerly known as Twittermas. And now let’s all exhale that great sigh that Jews have sighed for thousands of years. Oy.

(This is an edited version of Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message, broadcast on Christmas Day)

My toughest 2 months as a journalist
Ever since our lives changed beyond recognition with the horrifying Hamas massacre on October 7 and the outbreak of Operation Swords of Gideon, our brave fighters have been brought to their final resting place on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem practically every day. One after another, the flowers of our hearts wilt on the Mount of Tears where our heroes are buried, after sacrificing their lives for us.

In all my many years as a journalist, I have never experienced such an awful and heart-wrenching succession of funerals as I have been covering over the past two months on Mount Herzl. Almost every day I cover the funeral of yet another fallen soldier. The pain torments the soul. The voices of grief and weeping from the bereaved families are seared into my heart and shake my soul.

I was especially moved by that Sunday, November 12, when I attended four military funerals on that mountain of sorrow and valor. Thousands came to pay respects to the fallen, in gloomy and empowering silence, filling the paths leading to the graves. As if sharing the bereavement with the families, embracing them with warmth on behalf of the entire People of Israel.

Alongside the heart-piercing loss of the bereaved families, many of the eulogizers display immense and empowering nobility at the difficult moment in their lives. Grieving parents and siblings cry out for unity in a cracked voice over their loved ones' graves. They plead from the depths of their souls for the fighting to continue until the IDF defeats our enemies. They weep for their beloved who fell with unparalleled dedication defending our one and only state.

We are going through difficult days. One sorrow chases another. Too many coffins of our fighters, draped in the flag of Israel, are brought with honor to their final resting place. But on Mount Herzl it is clearly evident that faith in God and the righteousness of our path still beats strongly, providing hope and anticipation for better days ahead of tranquility and happiness in our land.
Officer tasked with arranging constant IDF funerals nearly died after heart gave way
A bereavement officer in the Israel Defense Forces nearly died early on in the war against Hamas in Gaza, after her heart quite literally was torn.

Capt. (res.) Sivan Sekeli Ben Zichri went into cardiac arrest a month and a half ago, due to the extreme psychological stress brought on by her job. She almost didn’t make it, but staff at Sheba Medical Center acted fast and brought her back from the brink.

She still has a way to go in terms of rehabilitation, but is on her way to what she and her doctors hope will be a long-term full recovery.

Ben Zichri told her story in an interview with Kan news that aired on Sunday.

On October 8, a day after the savage attacks by Hamas on Israel resulted in 1,200 deaths and 240 hostages taken to Gaza, Ben Zichri was called up for reserve military duty. She was assigned the task of informing families that their loved ones had fallen in action, as well as planning and overseeing the soldiers’ funerals.

Among those who died on the day of the attack were nearly 300 soldiers.

“There were so many funerals, far more than we had previously seen,” she said.

When asked whether she could detach herself emotionally, she answered that it simply was not possible.
PodCast: An Extraordinary Introduction to the Birth of Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (with Haviv Rettig Gur)
Israeli journalist Haviv Rettig Gur takes us on a deep dive into the origins of Israel--how European Jew-hatred gave birth to Zionism and the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. He then turns to the rise of Palestinian terrorism and explains why the Palestinian experience and the Israeli experience are so incompatible. Along the way, Gur places the Holocaust in a much broader European context. I learned an immense amount from this conversation and hope you do, too.
Peace Can Only Be Achieved by Destroying Hamas
So long as Hamas remains in charge in Gaza, so long as it even just remains a functioning organization, there can be no lasting peace. That means any talk of negotiating a ceasefire in Gaza under present conditions is naive in the extreme.

Of course, it's disturbing to see images day after day of displaced Palestinians living in rubble. But those seeking peace that will last for more than a few months must accept that Israel's current military campaign to root out the remnants of Hamas must continue.

Anyone who has seen the footage of Hamas' butchers euphorically and triumphantly celebrating their shootings, beheadings, maimings, immolations and rapes of innocent Israelis on Oct. 7 can be left with no doubt Israel is up against a heinous evil in Hamas.

At the end of the Second World War, did the Allies agree to ceasefires with Germany or Japan and leave the Nazis and the emperor in charge before firebombings killed tens of thousands in Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo, just because the thought of so many civilian deaths upset their modern sensibilities?
Yisrael Medad: Fundamentals in Comprehending the Arab Conflict with Israel
I suggest that there are, at the minimum, five basic components that underline the approach of the proponents of Palestine that need be recognized, as a first stage. It is only in the second stage that specific public diplomacy efforts need be suited to them. A third stage is to develop a more aggressive and uncompromising, as well as a fearless, approach. I emphasize that I am referring to the framework of the messaging at this point.

In the first instance, pro-Palestine proponency denies any Zionist claim, beginning with Zionism as a legitimate movement of national liberation. For them, being Jewish is defined as being solely religious. Those campaigning on behalf of Israel are immediately at a disadvantage in that to counter that opening gambit means Zionists deny Palestinian nationalism and that sounds bad. Moreover, as a result of resurgent neo-Marxism, being Jewish is enjoying “white privilege” and being part of the class of oppressors. In this presentation, they also attempt to avoid the charge of anti-Semitism while, intersectionally, aligning themselves with Blacks, as well as allowing progressive Jews to join on the bandwagon.

The second element is the usage of fabricated claims, events and even historical processes to both deny any right Jews may assert while also promoting a narrative of Palestine that never existed. One of the more outlandish was that of Saeb Erekat who declared he is “the son of Jericho. I am 10,000 years old … I am the proud son of the Netufians and the Canaanites. I’ve been there for 5,500 years before Joshua Bin Nun came”. A former Chief Archaeologist of the Palestinian authority suggested bones found at Shiloh were but those of a chicken his grandfather had eaten 50 years previously. And yet, when any pro-Zionist uses Biblical history that is automatically canceled since in any case, Arabs have been in the country “from time immemorial“.

Third, the objective of pro-Palestinianism is not to reach a compromise or to arrange accommodation or to create conditions favorable to coexistence. The end goal is eliminationist in character. There is no question of the configuration of borders, or numbers of refugees that may be permitted to return or whether Jewish communities can remain in Judea and Samaria. No middle ground exists. It is a zero-sum project and has been since, at least, the Arab Congress in Jerusalem of 1919 when Zionism was rejected and the territory set aside as Palestine be rejoined to Syria as it was, they claimed, but Southern Syria. At Camp David Two, Yasser Arafat refused offers of over 95% territorial being granted by Ehud Barak at the prodding of Bill Clinton to a “Palestine” and continued to do so as did Mahmoud Abbas negotiating with Ehud Olmert and Tzippi Livni.

A fourth component is the device of rhetoric obversity by which I mean the orchestration of language to mean not what was originally intended as well as the expanding of their meaning to include new definitions. For example, pro-Palestine pundits will point to the word “colonization” in the literature of Zionist luminaries knowing that the word meant, at the time, agricultural settlement. The Land of Israel was not a colony but rather the kibbutzim and moshavot were named “colonies”. Lately, there is “apartheid” and “genocide”.

Rhetorical techniques are linguistic methods of persuasion by which people are induced, emotionally and even sensationally, into thinking that an idea or position is more favorable than it otherwise would be. To get pro-Zionists to debate or discuss politics on their rhetorical terms has been the major cognitive victory of the pro-Palestinians.

Only once these fundamental elements are understood can a proper, adequate and assertive push-back to the PPPPs be formulated. Yet the true goal should be not a reactive response and defense but a series of proactive initiatives undermining the narrative the pro-Palestine proponents have succeeded in fashioning that has taken over the minds and thinking of so many.
Israel Can Never Go Back to the Way It Was Before
Kibbutz Kfar Aza, once home to 800 people, is now a crime scene.

On Oct. 7, Hamas rampaged into the community, killing 62 people and taking 18 captive.

Kibbutz resident Ilanit Suissa said, "My heart is not just broken because of the holocaust that took place here, but also because my whole agenda and ideology has broken down."

"I really believed in peace, I was one of the people who fought for it" as a writer and filmmaker. All that changed on Oct. 7.

For her, it is not just Hamas that stands guilty. She also blames ordinary Palestinians - "I can't imagine I will ever speak to someone from Gaza. Unfortunately, I feel every one of them had a part of what happened."

Men from Gaza used to come to the kibbutz to work. Evidence suggests some took the opportunity to gather information for Hamas, from the layout of homes to entry codes for the kindergartens.

Michael Milshtein, who previously headed the Department of Palestinian Affairs in Israeli Army Intelligence, had insisted Hamas was wedded to its jihadist roots and was planning to strike Israel.

He says, "The world that existed until Oct. 7 has changed. It has exploded the considerations of everyone in the military and politics."

As he explains, this means the notion of two peoples living in harmony as good neighbors in two states has gone.
How Jews Escaped Their Dismal Fate
Throughout history Jews have suffered mass murder on a regular basis over two millennia. No matter the location or era, Jews were prisoners of an inescapable sinister circle: Enter a society, live and thrive there for some time, and soon enough be robbed, attacked, murdered or expelled.

This closeness to death, accompanied by latent, primal fear, followed Jewish existence and persisted in this people's subconscious minds. Jews carry with them a chronic sensation of inevitable doom. This same fear, this feeling of inevitable catastrophe, is what most Jews felt on Oct. 7.

Jews need to defend themselves. There is no other way to assure freedom and flourishing if their precondition, self-protection, is outsourced to the goodwill of others. A Jewish state can always fight back. On May 14, 1948, something changed. Jews gained the power to defend themselves.

These past few months we have witnessed rallies calling for mass murder, condemnation, denunciations of Jews - all while the Jews have had to endure a barrage of horrific images and testimonies of the massacres. Yet Jews in Israel, instead of crying over their inevitable doom, are striving for victory in the face of their enemies.

Jews are human beings with self-respect. They won't accept gratuitous and unwarranted attacks or vicious rapes. They won't accept mass murder - never again. Jews will defend themselves, as a people, in their own homeland. Finally.

The writers are co-authors of The Classical Liberal Case for Israel.
For one acclaimed Egyptian author and activist, speaking out against Hamas has come with a price
Like many others in the Middle East, when Dalia Ziada, an acclaimed Egyptian author and civil rights activist, woke up to the news of fighting between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7, she thought it was just another round of clashes between the old foes, who for 16 years have regularly exchanged tit-for-tat rockets and airstrikes.

At least that was how it was being reported in the Arabic media in her home country, Ziada, 41, told Jewish Insider in an interview last week.

Two days later, however, the longtime participant in interfaith programs between Jews and Muslims was invited to join a video conference call organized by Israel’s Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs. The presentation included the screening of footage from Israeli CCTV cameras and bodycam images filmed by Hamas terrorists themselves as they carried out barbaric atrocities against Israeli civilian communities and revelers at a mass music festival.

“The call was in Arabic, and I saw the videos they had collected, including from the cameras carried by the Hamas militants,” Ziada, an award-winning writer and political analyst specializing in governance, geopolitics, and defense policy in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, told JI.

“I saw with my own eyes how proud they were of their work and of what they had been doing, I saw they were killing people for no good reasons, raping women and kidnapping people in their pajamas from their homes, including the elderly, toddlers, children,” she continued. “There was blood everywhere, it was horrific and so shocking.”

“As soon as I finished watching, I decided I had to tell the truth,” stated Ziada.

With some 88,000 followers on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Ziada wrote a post taking Egyptian media to task for whitewashing Hamas’ actions on Oct. 7.

“I wrote ‘our media is lying, here is the truth, here is what happened,’” she recalled.

Ziada, who has a reputation as a well-respected commentator on regional issues, was then invited by the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies to speak about the reaction in Egypt to Hamas’ attack and Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza. She recorded two podcasts with senior researcher Ofir Winter – one in English and one in Arabic. While she condemned “every drop of blood that is shed, whether Palestinian or Israel,” Ziada also noted that she fully supported Israel’s efforts to eliminate Hamas.

Ziada, who co-founded the Cairo-based Liberal Democracy Institute (LDI) and also serves as the executive director of the Center for Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean Studies (MEEM), is still coming to terms with what happened next.

“The INSS interview, particularly the one in Arabic, went viral,” she recounted. “And I mean, it went viral in a negative way.”
Eugene Kontorovich: Biden’s ‘violent settler’ Israeli visa ban would bar those who simply disagree with his terrible policies
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced visa restrictions on Israelis in response to “settler violence.”

Britain and Belgium plan to follow suit, and other European Union countries will likely jump on the blacklist bandwagon.

The United States frequently uses such visa restrictions to block those guilty of gross human-rights abuses, tyrannical foreign despots and nationals of state sponsors of terrorism.

But this is a far cry from that — it’s simply a big step in the Obama-Biden administrations’ deep delegitimization of those who oppose a “two-state solution.”

The president has broad power to deny entry to foreign nationals — despite the furor over President Donald Trump’s executive orders in this area.

Barring those guilty of crimes is certainly an excellent reason for exclusion, and the Biden administration should enforce such limits far more vigorously at the porous southern border, where millions are coming from the world’s most violent countries.

But the new “violent settler” ban is in fact not about settlers or even violence.

It is instead a vastly vague prohibition that gives the administration discretion to exclude Israelis whose mere beliefs, place of residence or religious practices don’t comport with the Bidenites’ foreign-policy views.

The administration can ban anyone “involved in undermining of peace, security or stability in the West Bank.”

The restrictions are not limited to criminal or violent acts.

Team Biden considers Jews living in the West Bank — especially building or buying homes there — an “obstacle to peace,” despite the US position that such communities are not illegal.
France to act against 'radical' Israeli settlers, pushes to defuse Lebanon tension
France will impose measures on Israeli settlers who have attacked Palestinians in the West Bank, its foreign minister said on Monday, a day after meeting Palestinian farmers in Ramallah, who had been targeted in recent weeks.

UN figures show that daily settler attacks have more than doubled since Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the ensuing assault on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the violence this year, including in attacks by settlers.

"We will not accept these acts. France will not wait any longer. We've asked Israeli authorities to put an end to this and it will take national measures against certain radical Israeli settlers," Catherine Colonna told a news conference in Beirut after a two-day visit to Israel, Ramallah and Lebanon.
NGO Monitor: FIDH Declares Total Political War Against Israel
On December 12, 2023, the Paris-based international NGO, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), announced a resolution headlined, “Israel’s unfolding crime of genocide and other crimes in Gaza and against the Palestinian People.” It had been written and adopted during a meeting of FIDH’s international board in November 2023.

The resolution packages several false accusations related to the current war (“Israel’s use of starvation as a tool of warfare” and “forced displacement”), alongside recurrent themes of antisemitic NGO demonization (“apartheid,” “systematic domination and oppression over the Palestinian people for over 75 years”), to disingenuously conclude that “Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people constitute an unfolding genocide.”

This resolution – which was clearly influenced by Al-Haq, an FIDH member and represented1 on FIDH’s international board – is part of a campaign of atrocity inversion, aimed at portraying Israel as the worst violator of human rights in the world. NGOs accuse the Jewish State of genocide in order to distract from the October 7 Hamas pogrom, the world’s deadliest one-day massacre in more than 20 years (see NGO Monitor’s report: “NGO Atrocity Inversion: False Accusations of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing to Distract from Hamas Massacre”).

FIDH’s recommendations reflect an anti-Israel agenda and the erasure of Hamas, including calls for “an immediate and permanent ceasefire”; “entry of unrestricted humanitarian aid”; intervention by the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice; “economic sanctions, arms embargo, and other countermeasures”; and criminal arrests and prosecutions.

The eight-page resolution devotes one short paragraph to the October 7 “attack by Palestinian armed groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” FIDH ignores the horrific murder, torture, rape, and desecration of bodies perpetrated against Israelis, and refrains from defining Hamas as a terror group.
‘Politico’: Dan Shapiro named to top Pentagon Middle East role
The U.S. Department of Defense named Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, on Monday as the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East affairs, according to Lara Seligman, who covers the Pentagon for Politico.

Shapiro, who is currently senior advisor for regional integration in the U.S. State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau, will assume the Pentagon’s top Middle East policy role, according to Seligman.

In his new role, Shapiro replaces Dana Stroul, who completed a three-year term in the position, in which she guided “the development of U.S. Department of Defense policy and strategy for Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen,” per the Pentagon.

Shapiro “has many years of experience and a good understanding of regional realities,” wrote Gerald Steinberg, founder of NGO Monitor. “Wishing him success.”

The position at the State Department that Shapiro is reportedly vacating is, under the new National Defense Authorization Act, being upgraded to a Senate-confirmed, presidential envoy for the Abraham Accords at the ambassadorial rank.
Chuck Schumer Praised the 'Humanity' of Anti-Israel Group Whose Leader Was 'Happy To See' Hamas Murder Jews
Two decades ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said the Council on American-Islamic Relations has "ties to terrorism" and called for the federal government to cut ties with the controversial anti-Israel group. Schumer, now the Senate majority leader, has flip-flopped since then on CAIR, which is back in the national spotlight after its founder said he was "happy to see" Hamas attack Israel.

Last year, Schumer said in a letter of support for CAIR that the United States is "fortunate" the organization is "fighting for the sake of our freedoms." In 2015, he applauded CAIR for its "determination to continue to spread humanity" and to "cultivate and encourage mutual understanding amongst Americans of all backgrounds and cultures," according to a letter CAIR cited in fundraising literature.

That's a far cry from what Schumer said during a 2003 Senate hearing, when he slammed CAIR's leaders for having "intimate connections with Hamas" and said the group was known to have "ties to terrorism." In 2009, Schumer submitted a letter to the FBI that noted CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas front group. Schumer said federal agencies ceasing work with CAIR "should be government-wide policy."

These statements could prove awkward for Schumer, who seeks to position himself as Democrats' pro-Israel voice. CAIR founder and executive director Nihad Awad said last month that Israel "does not have that right to self-defense." Awad, a former spokesman for the Islamic Association for Palestine, a Hamas front group, said he "was happy to see" Hamas fighters attack Israel on Oct. 7.

While Schumer has not responded to Awad's inflammatory comments, the White House denounced them as anti-Semitic. The White House faced scrutiny for selecting CAIR earlier this year to serve on its National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

Rishi Sunak: ‘Too many lives have been lost’ in Israel-Hamas conflict
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has reiterated the government’s call for a ‘sustainable ceasefire’ saying that ‘too many lives’ have been lost in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Speaking to reporters in Scotland earlier today, Sunak said: “Israel obviously has a right to defend itself against what was an appalling terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas, but it must do that in accordance with humanitarian law.

"It's clear that too many civilian lives have been lost and nobody wants to see this conflict go on a day longer than it has to," he added.

"That's why we've been consistent - and I made this point in parliament last week - in calling for a sustainable ceasefire, whereby hostages are released, rockets stop being fired into Israel by Hamas and we continue to get more aid in."

His intervention comes as the Israeli Defence Forces faces accusations from the Catholic Church both in the UK and the Vatican that worshippers in Gaza’s largest Catholic church were deliberately targeted.

The Pope has accused the IDF of terrorism and a senior cardinal, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols accused Israeli forces of killing Christians in ‘cold-blood.’

Spokesman Mark Regev rebutted the claims saying:"We don't shoot people who are going to church to pray, it just doesn't happen, that's not the way the IDF operates,"

"Could they have been killed [in the crossfire] by Palestinian terrorists who were shooting at our people indiscriminately? I don't know."

New Poll Registers Strong Support for Hamas Among French Muslims

South Africa says its citizens serving in IDF could face prosecution back home

JustGiving backs down on withheld funds for IDF ‘militia’ phone chargers

Israel announces Iran, Hezbollah were behind Ziv Hospital cyber attack

Israeli woman wounded after terror shooting near Jerusalem

Auschwitz slams Israeli council head's plans for Gaza Strip
The Auschwitz Museum in Poland criticized an Israeli council head on social media Monday for calling to turn the Gaza Strip into an empty museum similar to the former Nazi concentration camp, outright comparing it to terrorism.

The remarks in question were made by Metula Council head David Azoulai during an interview with 103FM. He called for all Gazan Palestinians to be sent to refugee camps in Lebanon, and then a security buffer zone should be established in Gaza made empty to resemble Auschwitz.

"The entire Gaza Strip should be emptied and leveled flat, just like in Auschwitz. Let it become a museum, showcasing the capabilities of the State of Israel and dissuading anyone from living in the Gaza Strip," Azoulai said. "We should leave Gaza desolate and destroyed to serve as a museum, demonstrating the madness of the people who lived there."

"David Azoulai appears to wish to use the symbol of the largest cemetery in the world as some sort of a sick, hateful, pseudo-artistic, symbolic expression," the museum posted on X, formerly Twitter. "Calling for acts that seem to transgress any civil, wartime, moral, and human laws, that may sound as a call for murder of the scale akin to Auschwitz, puts the whole honest world face-to-face with a madness that must be confronted and firmly rejected.

"We do hope that Israeli authorities will react to such shameful abuse, as terrorism can never be a response to terrorism."

Son of Hamas Reveals Shocking Details About Hamas and the Israel-Palestine Conflict
In this episode, the podcast delves into the life of Mosab Hassan Yousef, a man who grew up as the son of a Hamas founder and later became a spy for Israel. The conversation reveals his upbringing in a strict Muslim family, his life in Hamas, and the dramatic shift that led him to work for Israeli intelligence.

He gives an inside look into the intricacies of the Hamas mission, its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, and the tribal mentality that fuels the Israel-Palestine conflict. The episode continues with a discussion about the convoluted relationship between Israeli intelligence and Hamas, offering a rare glimpse into the tactics used to navigate a complex political landscape.

Mosab also provides insights into the future of Gaza, the threats posed by Hamas, and the potential ramifications for the Palestinian Authority. His candid account sheds light on the harsh realities of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the rise of anti-Semitism.

What we discuss:
(00:01) - Son of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood
(12:39) - Childhood Trauma and Arab Culture
(28:18) - Hamas Brutality and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
(41:50) - Undercover Operations and Manipulation Within Hamas
(54:26) - From Hatred to Espionage
(59:42) - Revealing Involvement With Israeli Intelligence
(01:04:53) - The Orchestrated Operation to Manipulate Hamas
(01:14:40) - Barbaric Massacre and Hamas Brutality
(01:30:18) - Analysis of Hatred and Palestinian Conflict

Report: Antisemitism varies widely on American college campuses
The Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., has released research revealing the most antisemitic academic institutions in America according to surveyed students. It comes in the context of Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after the terror group’s murderous attacks and hostage-taking on Oct. 7.

The analysis draws on 2,000 Jewish students spread out at 51 colleges with large Jewish populations and replicates research methodology from a 2016 study.

Students reported a variety of levels of hate, with a majority describing a hostile climate against Jews. They also showed more concern for antisemitism from the political left rather than the right. Jews at colleges with the highest reports of bigotry expressed fears of violence.

The poll asked students how they identified ideologically. A majority (54% ) called themselves “liberal,” 7% “extremely liberal,” 15% “moderate” and 21% “conservative.”

According to “In the Shadow of War: Hotspots of Antisemitism on U.S. College Campuses,” the most problematic schools are designated “highest antisemitic hostility” and represent the upper 25% of worst hate, per student reports.

Twelve schools fall into this category: Boston University; Columbia University; George Washington University; New York University; The Ohio State University; Queens College, CUNY (City University of New York); University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Diego; University of Michigan; the University of Pennsylvania; University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Israelis being ‘unofficially boycotted’ in global academia, says report
According to the National Council for Civilian R&D, there have been cancellations of invitations to joint conferences, rejections of articles for publication and grants to Israeli researchers, and more, all of which could seriously harm Israel’s scientific and economic standing

A letter sent by the National Council for Civilian Research and Development to the Knesset's Science and Technology Committee states that there is a "quiet unofficial boycott of Israeli researchers'' in Western academia. It warns that this boycott poses "dangers to Israel's scientific standing and could harm the Israeli economy." The paper was published in preparation for a discussion expected on Monday in the committee on the challenges of research and development in the war.

According to the paper, written by the council Chairman Prof. Peretz Lavie and policy advisor Debbie Kaufman, "scientific research ties between Israel and the world are reflected in the exchange of researchers within the framework of agreements with academies across the world, in scientific conferences, the provision of sponsorships for prestigious programs and post-graduate scholarships, international scientific organizations and active membership in international research facilities. All of these provide recognition, familiarity, exposure and international scientific standing. Damaging these ties could harm the Israeli economy, which relies on scientific capabilities as a start-up country." The council points out that "over the years, Israel, despite the scientific recognition it receives, fights for its scientific rights in the face of antisemitism." According to the study published in an emergency discussion held by the council at the beginning of this month, "Israel is being subjected to an unusual wave of antisemitism, and there is a rise in hatred towards Jews and Israelis. Since October 7, a sort of quiet boycott of Israeli researchers has begun, of the kind that has never been seen before. This boycott is reflected in the cancellation of invitations to joint conferences, the rejection of articles for publication, the rejection of grants to Israeli researchers, and more."

The council calls on the government to take immediate steps to address threats to Israel's scientific standing. They have urged the government to "not cut research budgets of the Ministry of Science and the Council for Higher Education; strengthen the bi-national foundations that support joint research with researchers from countries around the world; call for Israeli and leading Jewish scholars abroad to move to Israel and strengthen support for their absorption; and allocate designated funds for the purposes of international scientific conferences in Israel for the hosting of foreign scientists and for Israeli scholars to travel to conduct research abroad." The council says that Hamas’ October 7th attack and Israel’s war against Hamas must not “be a turning point in the level of research and in Israel's scientific relations with other countries.”

Professor Rivka Carmi, the head of scientific NGO ScienceAbroad which helps to repatriate Israeli scientists back to Israel, says that “campuses are implementing a sort of hidden boycott that could significantly endanger Israeli research capabilities, mainly because the Israeli academy is based on peer evaluations." She says that there has been “a significant deterioration in the personal security of Jewish and Israeli students on campuses. On several campuses, students were asked to take down Jewish/Israeli signs and even enter the campuses through back doors. Researchers feel that the campus has revoked their right to exist."

Prof. Michal Neeman, who leads an academic whose aim is to respond to antisemitism on campuses worldwide, mentioned that academic boycotts have been issued in several countries, including Ireland, Spain, and Italy. Other scholars are saying that more and more people worldwide are trying to distance themselves from Israel, whether by rejecting articles or delaying the shipment of materials to research labs.

Prof. Daniel Zeifman, the head of the National Science Foundation, says that there are “senior Jewish scientists in the US who would be happy to join the academy in Israel and settle here due to rising antisemitism. These are significant scientists who, if they come, would be a significant asset to the Israeli academy. I recommend establishing a special fund that would enable such moves.”
Bari Weiss: Why DEI Must End For Good
How did the congressional hearing on antisemitism last week go so awry?

Was the resignation of University of Pennsylvania’s president just another cancellation, only this time on the other side of the political aisle?

How can we fix our broken universities? And what’s at stake if we don’t?

Bari’s thoughts on these questions and more on today’s episode.

Glenn Loury & Tabia Lee: Black DEI Director Fired for "White Supremacy"
When Tabia Lee was hired as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at a California community college, she was excited at the opportunity to defend the goals and values that had animated her career in education until then. She realized something was deeply wrong when she—an African American—was accused by a colleague of “whitespeaking, whitesplaining, and supporting white supremacy” for suggesting a plan to make meetings more effective. Another unpleasant surprise came after meeting with Jewish students, who approached her with fairly modest requests. When Lee relayed the requests to her superiors, she was told of an unwritten policy of ignoring them on the grounds that “Jews are white oppressors.”

In an eye-opening conversation, Lee takes the economist Glenn Loury on a journey into the bizarre world of DEI, and explains how DEI bureaucracies don’t simply ignore anti-Semitism but foster it—contributing to the present campus crisis.

Wellesley College President Denounces Extreme Anti-Zionist Rhetoric, Rebuffing School Faculty
Wellesley College President Paula Johnson has pushed back on faculty pressuring her to condone certain anti-Israel rhetoric on campus, stating in an open letter that the Massachusetts school interprets “some” anti-Zionist speech as harmful to Jewish students.

Johnson, who has served as college president since July 2016, made the declaration on Saturday in response to a faculty letter demanding that she go on record saying that no criticism of Israel or Zionism should be described as antisemitic.

“I want to be clear that Wellesley will not make such a statement,” Johnson said. “Some anti-Israel and anti-Zionist speech can, in fact, create a hostile environment for many of our students.”

Johnson added that the faculty members’ own statements in their letter, which accused Israel of committing a “genocidal assault on Gaza,” are part of the problem.

“The letter ignores how opinions and statements of the kind expressed in the letter can threaten the existence of Israel and increase fears for Jewish students on our campus,” she wrote, emphasizing the college’s commitment to balancing its policies prohibiting hate speech with its mission to foster academic freedom and free speech. “Again, Wellesley strongly rejects any invitation to contribute to these harms.”

Wellesley College, the alma mater of former US Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright, is currently being investigated by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) over allegations that it contravened Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by failing to respond to an antisemitic incident that took place in October.
Law firm halts Harvard student recruitment post-testimony on ‘genocide’

Barnard senior, a Black-Native American Jew, has some words for pro-Palestinian peers
When Barnard College senior Noa Fay hears students on campus chanting “Globalize the Intifada” or describing Israel as an example of settler colonialism she finds it both ironic and offensive.

“The people not buying that Jews are indigenous to Israel? I don’t know how they can say that or justify that,” said Fay, who is Black, Native American and Jewish.

Fay has often found herself speaking out against the open antisemitism that erupted on campus after the Hamas-led massacre of October 7. She’s spoken at a press conference outside the Columbia University campus gates in early October, she’s given interviews on air, and, on November 14, she spoke at the “March for Israel” demonstration in Washington, DC.

“I’ll speak to whoever will listen in these dark times. It’s not in my spirit to silence myself,” the 22-year-old political science major said, in conversation with The Times of Israel in the courtyard of the School of International and Public Affairs.

When Fay, who grew up in a kosher home in Brookline, Massachusetts, applied to Barnard College, friends and family warned her about the school’s reputation: There was the yearly apartheid wall put up by the Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, along with frequent demands that the university divest from Israel and sever ties with Tel Aviv University. A professor’s office was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti not once, but twice, and a swastika was found on the steps of Low Library.

“Still, I paid it no mind. I never took it seriously,” Fay said. “It didn’t seem threatening to me, and so I thought, ‘How crazy could it be?’”

Greta Thunberg slams COP28 climate deal and Israel, waves Palestinian flag

PreOccupiedTerritory: Israel Stymies Progressive Foes By Identifying As Palestine (satire)
The country formerly known as a Jewish state adopted the attitude today of pro-transsexual activists in the West, declaring itself “Palestine” and thus automatically branding its opponents as TERNs, or Trans-Exclusive Radical Nationalists.

“We identify as Palestine,” announced Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “Therefore we are Palestine, and anyone who has long claimed to be ‘pro-Palestine’ must now automatically support our continued existence, safety, and security, or else be deemed an irredeemable hateful bigot. Gender is fluid, and all the more so national identity, which has no link to biological markers at all, even in popular conception. Anyone who tries to exclude us from the Palestinian community must be ostracized themselves.”

The announcement through the progressive world into turmoil, if only briefly. Initial reactions ranged from knee-jerk objection to studied silence. Within hours, human rights organizations and other prominent groups in the progressive world had adopted a consensus that followed the same pattern as when women’s organizations were confronted by mass rape of Israeli women by Hamas on October 7: delay, minimize, deny, ignore, or rationalize.

As with students feeling “unsafe” on higher education campuses, the high principles of the progressive activists and movements took the step of explaining that those high principles cease to apply if Jews as a group begin to benefit from them.
EU launches investigation into Twitter for ‘failure’ to tackle Hamas propaganda
The European Commission (EU) has launched a formal investigation into X/Twitter over alleged dissemination of misinformation and propaganda related to Hamas.

The Commission announced a full probe into Elon Musk’s company for the first time under the Digital Services Act (DSA), a new set of laws for social networking companies.

The investigation will examine whether X/Twitter have broken new EU rules governing online services. After the conclusion of the investigation, any confirmed breaches of the online governance regime can face a range of major sanctions, including fines of up to 6% of global annual turnover.

After an investigation, the EU can also apply interim measures, such as changes to its algorithms or stricter monitoring of illegal content, where it believes there’s a risk of serious harm for users.

X/Twitter has been criticised since Hamas’ terror attack on Israel on October 7 for allegedly failing to counter misinformation and violent content on the social network.

EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said on Monday: “Today’s opening of formal proceedings against X makes it clear that, with the DSA, the time of big online platforms behaving like they are ‘too big to care’ has come to an end.

“We now have clear rules, ex ante obligations, strong oversight, speedy enforcement, and deterrent sanctions and we will make full use of our toolbox to protect our citizens and democracies.”

It comes several weeks after Breton wrote to Musk asking him to crack down on “the spreading of terrorist and violent content and hate speech” on the site.
LA Times Reaches Moral Bankru

Washington Post Columnist Lambastes US for Supporting Israel’s War Against Hamas

In Full-Page Toronto Star Ad, HRC Unmasks The True Face Of Hamas


Breakfast Television Uses Footage Of Pro-Israel Vigil For Hostages To Promote Pro-Palestinian Ceasefire Advocacy Event



MEMRI: Miami Imam Dr. Fadi Kablawi: We Cannot Go Back To Pre-October 7 And Trust The Jews; Establishing Shari'a Law Is Freedom For Mankind, Humanity; Oh Allah, Shake The Ground Beneath The Feet Of The Plundering Jews

MEMRI: Growing Criticism Of Hamas And Its Officials By Gaza Residents: They Brought A Needless War Upon Us; Our Lives Are Worthless In Their Eyes; We Yearn To See The End Of Hamas

7 Shipping Companies Suspend Red Sea Transit Due to Houthi Attacks

WSJ Editorial: The Houthi Assault on Global Shipping
The Biden administration is contemplating the use of military force in response to continuing attacks on commercial shipping by the Houthi militia in Yemen. It's about time. The Houthi missile attacks pose the most significant threat to global shipping in decades, and they will continue unless a global coalition unites to stop them.

The well-armed Houthis, whose missiles and drones are targeting commercial ships willy-nilly, have long been a regional threat, but now they are becoming a global menace. Their attacks are making the Red Sea non-navigable. This will have major economic consequences if it continues.

The question is whether the U.S. and other Western navies are merely going to play defense and catch missiles as the Houthis set the terms of battle. And make no mistake: Iran is ultimately responsible for this Houthi offensive. The arms come from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran activated the Houthis to pressure the West to pressure Israel to stop its defensive campaign against Hamas in Gaza.
The National-Abu Dhabi Editorial: Houthi Attacks Won't Help a Single Palestinian
Yemen's Houthi rebels cannot have it both ways. If one of the Houthis' goals is to end Western interference in their country and the region, then repeatedly staging attacks that are almost guaranteed to draw a Western military response reveals either cynicism or unsustainable doublethink.

How capturing a Bahamas-flagged, Japanese-operated cargo ship and its civilian crew made up of seafarers from Bulgaria, the Philippines, Mexico and Ukraine helps Palestinians in any practical way is a question only the rebels can answer, but few can argue that rationally it does.
Iran Hoped to Profit from Israel-Hamas War, But Big Gains Still Elude It
Tehran has yet to reap tangible strategic gains from the Israel-Hamas conflict. Iran's diplomacy with the West, aimed at easing U.S. sanctions, has halted due to its support for Hamas. Billions of dollars that the U.S. had pledged to Iran in a prisoner-release deal sit effectively frozen.

Iran is urging Arab countries that had established diplomatic ties with Israel to renounce them, but none has. At the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Tehran's proposals for economic reprisals against Israel were rejected by Gulf countries, Egypt and Jordan.

Iran has long called for U.S. forces and influence to be expelled from the Middle East, but the Gaza war has also rekindled America's mission of defending its interests in the region.

Moreover, Israel is now for the first time intent on destroying Hamas, and doing so would deprive Iran of an important member of its anti-Western alliance. "The complete destruction of Hamas would be an embarrassment to Iran and create concerns among Iran's partners in the region that perhaps [the Iranians] aren't as reliable as they thought," said Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Morocco’s Jews ponder future: ‘This is not the country we knew’

Algerian soccer player facing jail time in France after sharing antisemitic clip

Will Smith and Kanye West pictured together on an international Emirates flight headed from Dubai to Los Angeles

Evangelical group funds renovations of Israeli bomb shelters
A prominent Christian evangelical organization in Jerusalem has renovated 140 underground bomb shelters in the Upper Galilee as intermittent Hezbollah attacks from Lebanon continue for the third straight month, the group announced on Monday.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem funded the $775,000 project, refurbishing 73 shelters in the town of Shlomi and 67 in the city of Ma’alot-Tarshiha, both near the northern border.

The shelters had fallen into disrepair since they were last used during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, with deficiencies including a lack of proper lighting, ventilation and plumbing. An old bomb shelter in Ma’alot. Photo by Jonathan Parsons/ICEJ.

Nine portable above-ground bomb shelters were also delivered to Shlomi with the Christian Zionist group’s financial assistance, and an additional nine are in the works.

Shlomi and Ma’alot-Tarshiha are among the communities evacuated when Hezbollah began firing on northern Israel, 10 days after the war with Hamas broke out in the south when the Palestinian terrorist group invaded the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7.

The ICEJ, the largest evangelical organization in the Holy Land, has worked on behalf of the Jewish state for four decades. Many evangelical Christians believe that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land is foretold in the scriptures and heralds the coming of the messiah.

“On behalf of Christians around the world, we want to help the residents of vulnerable communities on Israel’s border feel secure enough to return to their homes as soon as possible,” said ICEJ spokesman David Parsons. “The Jewish nation and people are facing hatred and threats here and around the world, but our love for Israel is greater still.”
Arise and Rebuild
At a house on Kibbutz Be’eri, bullet marks and grenade craters pock all four walls and the ceiling of the small bedroom where the Bachar family had retreated to stay alive on Oct. 7. Thirty exit holes from bullets could be counted on the inside of the bedroom’s door. In the frame of an upended, fractured futon rested a pink-covered children’s book, Little Cat, Big Cat.

The bedroom is where Hamas terrorists that day murdered the family’s mother, Dana, and her 15-year-old son, Carmel, and nearly murdered the father, Avida, and 13-year-old daughter, Hadar. Though the room was fortified, it failed to protect the Bachars.

The terrorists torched the house. It remains a burnt-out wreck of a two-story skeleton, a charred maze of walls stripped as if they were bark, that a visitor couldn’t imagine once hosted family meals and discussions and card games and arguments and movie nights and lovemaking and child-rearing.

The Bachars’ home is one of 100 on the kibbutz so ravaged that they’ll be razed and cleared.

But Be’eri also shows signs of life and a future, much of it thanks to its young-adult cohort who’d moved away from the kibbutz but returned to lend a hand in the hour of greatest need.

Some had relocated to Tel Aviv post-army to study and work. Others received military-reserve call-ups post-Oct. 7, only for their commanders, sensitive to the emotional upheaval, to dispatch them back to Be’eri to help the kibbutz cope.

Approximately 30 Be’eri natives in their 20s and 30s—among them the Bachars’ eldest child, son Rotem, 22, who’d been traveling in India on Oct. 7—are back and have committed to remaining, at least for the short term.

“We paused our lives,” said Ella Dvori, 22, who was set to visit India in November but canceled the trip and now intends to stay at Be’eri to assist for at least another year. “We’re not doing it for money, but for love. Now is the time to give back to the place we grew up in. The Tel Aviv apartment can wait.”

Mission to Israel
I found it unthinkable that any Israeli would elect to live there—especially after Oct. 7. In the wake of a trip to a devastated kibbutz, I realized how wrong I was.

The check-in line for the 1 a.m. El Al flight on Nov. 11 snaked around the JFK terminal and then extended in what seemed to be 15 different directions. Next to me, a frustrated man in his 60s asked the employee who was trying (and failing) to direct traffic if this was the first outbound flight to Israel since the start of the war. He’d been in a “holding pattern” for two hours, and had just been ushered toward another line to hold some more. Nearby, a policeman had given up directing traffic, throwing his hands across his chest defiantly. All around me, groups of people jutted out from their designated positions like tentacles on a moving jellyfish. There were yeshiva students returning to seminary. Families with small children returning home. An elderly Christian couple, who, when asked by staff whether they were flying “economy or premier,” replied: “We’re here for solidarity.”

“Economy or premier?” the airline employee asked again.

“Solidarity,” the man emphasized, appearing irritated. “We’re here to stand with Israel!”

And then there was the group to which my mother and I belonged: 30 Syrian Jewish women—mothers and daughters, grandmothers, sisters—who made the decision to fly from New York to Israel to assist in what way we could, to listen, and to see with our very own eyes what most of us had been watching obsessively on a screen since Oct. 7. The group’s organizers called it a “mission.” There had been a handful of such missions from Brooklyn in recent weeks. From Barkai Yeshivah. From two prominent synagogues in Midwood. From Flatbush Yeshivah. Our group was traveling with another from Magen David Yeshivah. Together, we buzzed through the terminal, an amalgamation of excitement and nerves.

“For which purpose are you traveling to Israel?” security personnel asked. Unable to find the words, my mother piped in from beside me: “Achdut”—a common Hebrew phrase whose literal translation means brotherhood. But like many evocations aired in the past month, its meaning had come to embody so much more.

“Achshav?” Now? His confusion bordered on amusement. You chose to come here now?

“B’seder,” he said, in the flippant way Israelis tend to receive information they don’t necessarily agree with. He waved us through with a smile. Yalla. Onward.

2000 years on, search for Temple menorah continues
The possibility that the menorah that was used in the Second Temple in Jerusalem is hidden deep in the cellars of the Vatican has excited researchers, rabbis, and adventurers for many generations. It is, after all, the menorah that was used by the Temple priests for the daily candle-lighting ceremony and in which the Hanukkah miracle took place (although most likely it was one similar to it), that gave birth to a tradition that continues to this day.

Let's jump to the latest development in this 2,000-year-old story. Recently, the Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu said that his son, Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, was contacted by an Italian parliamentarian, whose name was not mentioned, with the most unusual suggestion: to jumpstart the process of the return of the Temple vessels, including the menorah, looted by the Romans from Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple, which – he said – were indeed in the Vatican.

This surely would have made headlines had not many attempts been made in the past to locate the vessels and substantiate the claims about their whereabouts.

For instance, in 2002, in a meeting between then-Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican Oded Ben-HUr and Pope John Paul II, the two agreed to document all Jewish art objects kept in the Vatican. Hebrew University researchers, who were in charge of the project, examined the possibility of the menorah being kept there as well but found no evidence on the matter.

Research on the carved menorah on the Arch of Titus in Rome, however, is more established and is no less fascinating.

The prevailing assumption among researchers is that the famous stone relief, which depicts the menorah and other vessels carried by the Roman soldiers on their triumphal procession from Jerusalem to Rome in 71 CE, was created based on the real gold seven-lamped candelabra. Other items looted from the Temple include the Gold Trumpets, the fire pans for removing the ashes from the altar, and the Table of Showbread.

The candlestick, however, that was looted from Jerusalem, might not have been the original menorah used by the Temple priests in their service. It could have been one of the replacement menorahs that were stored in the Temple in case of malfunction or disruption.

This hypothesis is based on the fact that the appearance of the Arch of Titus menorah does not match the description of the menorah in Jewish sources. For instance, the base of the arch menorah is different in that it has three levels that depict various sea and dragon-like features, which was not the case with the original, as any images of animals or creatures were associated with the sin of idolatry.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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