Saturday, March 30, 2024

From Ian:

JCPA: The Psychology of Palestinian Distortions and Deceptions
Global opinion has moved from outrage at Hamas on October 7, 2023, to criticism of Israel just months later. How? A Palestinian strategy manipulates perception to distort and present an alternate reality.

While the Hamas of October 7 was a vicious terror organization, the passage of time has shifted perception to “innocent Palestinians” who are “victims,” consistent with the ongoing Palestinian chronicle of victimization used as a central motif in their national narrative.

Facts and accurate information will not always effectively counter misinformation based on previous perceptions created by Palestinian sources. The “primacy effect,” where first impressions persist, plays a psychological role.

Palestinians distort reality by providing material for perceptions that feed a cognitive set that promotes favoring perceived victims who are presented as suffering, with images of casualties, poor housing conditions, lack of food, and emotional distress.

Western thinking that elicits sympathy for victims and absolves them of responsibility feeds into the deception strategy of Palestinian terror.

While contextual reality is the basis for accurate information, Palestinians distort this by using civilians as psychological human shields in a cognitive war.

Countering with the “truth” is likely ineffective unless the “truth” is framed in a context that appeals to the same cognitive framework of “fairness” and victim appeal that Palestinians have been using.

While sterile “counter-narratives” are ineffective, research suggests that adding emotive imagery and personalization can help change perceptions and reality.
Jonathan Tobin: Israel’s global isolation is caused by antisemitism, not bad policies
Sadly, nothing will make Israel be loved by the world. The Jewish state cannot be “rebranded” to associate itself solely with its stellar economy, scientific accomplishments, or the beauty of its scenery or the genius of its people. The only formula for Jewish survival is the one that Zionist statesman and thinker Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote about in his 1923 essay “The Iron Wall,” in which he preached that only when the Arab world realizes that it can’t defeat the Jews can peace be possible.

It should be remembered that the alliance with the United States, which is Israel’s greatest diplomatic asset, was not a gift given to the Jews by a benevolent American government in 1948. There was no alliance with Washington until after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, when it demonstrated its military strength and acquired the strategic depth that made its survival not quite so precarious.

That belief in Israel’s dominance was also what impelled some Arab states to give up the fight leading to peace deals like the 2020 Abraham Accords. However, if Hamas is allowed to emerge from the war it started by breaching Israel’s defenses not only alive but crowned as the victor, antisemites will not merely be encouraged. They will think that for all of its strength and accomplishments, the Jewish state that Jabotinsky envisioned lacks that iron wall that it still needs.

Those who care about Israel must take these lessons to heart and realize that the only solution to its current situation is for Jerusalem to ignore its critics and push through to victory, no matter how difficult that might be in terms of its military and diplomatic challenges. Only by clearly beating the Hamas criminals, as well as their many supporters and enablers, can circumstances ease a little. Anything less and a nightmare scenario envisioned by antisemitic foes—in which Israel truly becomes a pariah state—will be the inevitable result.
Lawmakers urge sanctions on International Court of Justice president
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers urged the State Department on Thursday to consider placing sanctions on the recently elected president of the International Court of Justice over his alleged anti-Israel bias if he does not recuse himself from the two Israel-related cases before the court.

“Judge [Nawaf] Salam’s clear and well-documented record of bias against the Jewish state and persistent violations of the ICJ charter make it abundantly clear that he will not be a fair and neutral arbiter in these cases,” nine lawmakers said in a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Thursday, calling the Lebanese jurist “wholly unfit” to hear the cases.

Salam, the letter notes, was Lebanon’s ambassador to the United Nations for a decade, during which time he voted against Israel on numerous issues and posted statements criticizing Israel. It also notes that he finished second in Lebanon’s prime ministership elections in 2019 and 2022, while he was on the court, which the letter describes as another breach of ICJ rules, although it acknowledges he was never a formally declared candidate.

The lawmakers said Salam is violating the charter by refusing to recuse himself from the Israel-related cases. They said his continued participation in ICJ rulings on Israel “underscor[es] the need for further action to secure Judge Salam’s recusal in compliance with the ICJ charter.” They called on the administration to restrict his travel to the U.S. and explore other sanctions if he does not recuse himself.

The letter also criticizes the ICJ cases against Israel more broadly, warning “one or more politically-motivated rulings against Israel will set a precedent that poses an international challenge to all states’ legitimate defense against terrorism” and threaten potential prospects for peace.

The letter was signed by Reps. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Keith Self (R-TX), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Bill Posey (R-FL), Neal Dunn (R-FL) and Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY).

Mixed messages coming from US on Israel weapons sales
Mixed messages are coming from the US on weapons sales to Israel with anonymous leaks to multiple media outlets over the weekend highlighting large previously signed deals that are still going through and the US’s top general publicly saying he had repudiated certain weapons requests.

Late Thursday, Gen. Charles Brown, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said Israel had not received every weapon that it had asked for, in part because US President Joe Biden’s administration was not willing to provide at least some of them.

Washington gives $3.8 billion in annual military assistance to Israel, its longtime ally. The United States has been rushing air defenses and munitions to Israel, but some Democrats and Arab American groups have criticized the Biden administration’s steadfast support of Israel, which they say provides it with a sense of impunity. US-Israel weapons dynamics

“Although we’ve been supporting them with capability, they’ve not received everything they’ve asked for,” said Brown.

“Some of that is because they’ve asked for stuff that we either don’t have the capacity to provide or are not willing to provide, not right now,” Brown added while speaking at an event hosted by the Defense Writers Group.

However, in a not-so-veiled statement balancing Brown’s public statement, top Washington officials leaked to The Washington Post and then other media over the weekend a reminder of a list of ongoing weapons sales that the US has approved for the future and that are still going forward.

The timing of the second leaked statement appeared designed to balance out concerns about how Israel and its supporters would perceive what appeared to be a loud and unusual public rebuke by Brown.

The new arms packages include more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, said sources, who confirmed a report in The Washington Post.
New York congressman: ‘Disgusting’ that Biden, Schumer play politics with Israel in election year
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) introduced H.Res.1107 on Tuesday expressing Congress’s sense “that Israel must be in full support of any negotiation or agreement relating to the Israeli-Hamas conflict, including a two-state solution or similar long-term plan relating to Israel and Palestinians for it to move forward.”

The resolution, which doesn’t appear to have co-sponsors yet, will put House Democrats on record to “really show if they’re supporting Israel,” D’Esposito told JNS.

It will also demonstrate whether his colleagues across the aisle “are committed to eradicating the terrorist organizations that have caused so much damage, or are they willing to stand because of politics, with the leadership of their party,” D’Esposito said.

The resolution states that the “United States should continue to support Israel and should not attempt to force Israel to take any course of action that is against its best interests.”

Any conversations about peace, a two-state solution or dealing with Israel’s war with Hamas requires cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem, D’Esposito told JNS.

“This can’t be the United States overplaying their hand,” he told JNS.

He criticized the recent speech by Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Senate floor, in which Schumer called for fresh Israeli elections to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then U.S. President Joe Biden’s lack of public comment opposing the speech.

“It’s comparable to, in the days following Sept. 11, that a foreign country would call for the removal of the president of the United States of America. I just find it completely preposterous,” D’Esposito told JNS.

“The Schumers and the Bidens of the United States of America should not try to force Israel to take any course of action, threatening funding, threatening resources, if they don’t get their way,” he added. “That’s not the way that we should be engaging with one of our greatest allies.”
Sen. John Fetterman’s top communication staffers resign after backlash over politician’s pro-Israel stance
Three top communication staffers in Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman’s office left for other left-leaning offices, all within the span of a month.

The departures come as the Pennsylvania Democrat has made headlines for his stances on Israel and immigration, separating him from his fellow Democrat colleagues.

Joe Calvello formerly worked as Fetterman’s Director of Communications both in his Senate office and on his 2022 campaign. A statement released earlier this month by the City of Chicago announced that Calvello would be joining as Chief Strategy Officer in Chicago Democrat Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office.

“It’s an absolute honor and a privilege to come to Chicago and serve the people of this great city,” Calvello said in the statement released.

Fetterman’s Deputy Communication Director Nicholas Gavio shared on X on Friday that he would be joining the Working Families Party as Mid-Atlantic Communications Director.

Gavio also worked on Fetterman’s 2022 campaign as well as in Sen. Bernie Sander’s, I-Vt., office.

The Working Families Party is a progressive minor political party whose platforms include raising the minimum wage, increasing taxes on the rich, and environmental and educational reform. The party has previously been associated with notable Dem politicians, including “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Fetterman’s Press and Digital Aide Emma Mustion also took to X earlier this month to share that she was joining Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s campaign office as a press secretary. Mustion worked on Fetterman’s 2022 Senate campaign as well.

Thousands of Israelis block highways, call for hostage release and new elections
Thousands of protesters rallied around the country to protest the government and call for the release of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza on Saturday evening.

The main demonstrations took place on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, the site of weekly anti-government protests, that have also been the location of several press conferences and speeches made by the families of the Gaza hostages and politicians.

The police blocked Begin Road in Tel Aviv as protesters lit bonfires outside the Kirya military headquarters. These protests have already seen severe clashes between police and protesters, with police arriving with additional forces.

Police arrests 16 people
Chants of "shame" were called by protesters as the police tried to push them away from the central bonfires that were lit on Begin Road.

The police said 16 people had been arrested in Tel Aviv.

Earlier this evening, the families of the hostages held a press conference where they spoke of the fact that they had not seen or heard from their loved ones in 176 days and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the war and hostage negotiations. Their statements called for the state to hold new elections to replace Netanyahu.

The Ayalon Highway was blocked by protesters in both directions, and it has been reported that water cannons are deployed by police to disperse the protesters.
Israel agrees to exchange prisoners for bodies of IDF soldiers killed in 2014 war
Israel has agreed to a proposal forwarded to Hamas that includes the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two IDF soldiers who were killed in Operation Protective Edge a decade ago, according to a Saturday report by KAN.

The proposal was forwarded to Hamas, but they have not yet responded.

The proposal also includes the release of prisoners who were formerly released in the Gilad Shalit deal but were then arrested again.

The Shalit deal was an agreement in 2011 between Israel and Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who was held hostage by Hamas from 2006 to 2011 and was released in exchange for 1,027 prisoners held by Israel.

The possible deal with Hamas
As for the possible deal with Hamas, the offer is expected to be on the table again as part of the negotiations that will resume in Cairo in the coming days, according to three sources involved in negotiations cited by KAN.

Shaul's brother said in an interview with KAN in the first days of the current war against Hamas to "not miss the opportunity again to get my brother back; my family has been abandoned."

Simcha Goldin, Hadar's father, spoke at the beginning of the war at a press conference of relatives of the families of the kidnapped and missing, and said, "The voice from here must be uniform and clear - if the state does not return all the captives and missing, Israeli society will collapse."
Palestinians to end ‘martyr’ payments soon, US official tells ‘Politico’
The Palestinian Authority is close to signing a deal to shutter its program compensating families of terrorists, instead launching a general social-welfare service, Politico reported on Friday.

The “martyr payments,” also called “pay for slay,” cost the Palestinian Authority “$300 million annually, at 8% of its budget,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and other members of Congress stated last July.

“There’s been a great deal of work on this behind the scenes, and the progress is encouraging,” a senior Biden administration official told Politico.

“Another administration official confirmed changes to the system were expected soon,” Politico added. “That said, as with all things involving Israel and the Palestinians, new roadblocks could emerge.”

'A revitalized PA is essential': US State Department welcomes PA cabinet nominations
The State Department said it welcomed the nomination of a new Palestinian Authority Cabinet, a spokesperson said on Friday.

“The United States looks forward to working with the new cabinet to promote peace, security, and prosperity and will be engaging this new government to deliver on credible reforms,” the State Department said.

Last week Biden administration officials maintained they will reserve judgements on new PA members until they see what actions the government takes.

“A revitalized PA is essential to delivering results for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza and establishing the conditions for stability in the broader region,” according to the State Department.

FDD: U.S. Weighs Funding Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Gaza
Latest Developments
The Biden administration is deliberating options for post-war Gaza, including possibly funding a peacekeeping force in the enclave, senior U.S. officials told Politico in a March 28 report. According to one of the unnamed officials, Washington is “working with partners on various scenarios for interim governance and security structures in Gaza.” In one scenario, the Pentagon would help fund a multinational peacekeeping force that would not include U.S. troops. U.S. funding would go towards “reconstruction, infrastructure, humanitarian assistance, and other needs” and would “supplement contributions from other countries,” Politico reported, citing U.S. officials.

An anonymous Defense Department official said that the Biden administration has “had conversations on the margins with regional partners” about what those governments would be willing to contribute to the force but that the plan has not received significant consideration from the Israelis. The White House, State Department, and Defense Department are all reportedly involved in the private talks.

Expert Analysis
“Day after planning for Gaza is essential, but the path forward is full of unanswered questions and serious pitfalls. Who will want to put their troops into Gaza as peacekeepers if Hamas continues to operate there conducting an insurgency? If we want to have a better chance for a better day after, then give Israel the time, space, and means to defeat Hamas first. Any attempt to install a peacekeeping force in Gaza before Hamas is soundly defeated would be courting disaster.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“Judging by the 2006 expansion of Lebanon’s peacekeeping UNIFIL force that failed miserably in achieving any of its missions, one must look with skepticism at a similar force that might be deployed in Gaza. Unless Israel can find reliable Palestinian partners that can keep the peace, it is unlikely that alien troops can do the job despite the generous funding that global powers are willing to make available.” — Hussain Abdul-Hussain, FDD Research Fellow

“The UN can’t be trusted to handle this. Members of the PA security forces are committing terrorist attacks. Qatari and Turkish involvement are non-starters. The Saudis and Emiratis might fund it, but would they actually send anyone? Would Egypt? Who will fund, who will participate, who will coordinate, and on what timetable remain key unanswered questions.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Israeli Plans for Post-War Gaza
In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented a plan for post-war Gaza that envisioned Israel retaining security control with “local officials” unaffiliated with terrorist groups in charge of civil affairs. The plan also involves replacing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency with “responsible international aid organizations.”

Washington has repeatedly said that a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority (PA) should govern post-war Gaza. But concerns remain over the PA’s ability to govern an independent Palestinian state. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is in the 20th year of a four-year term, has presided over a corrupt and ineffective government that has lost legitimacy among the Palestinian people. The PA also continues to provide controversial welfare payments for Palestinian terrorists or their surviving families and allows Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups to operate in the West Bank without significant limitations. Netanyahu previously ruled out the PA retaking control of Gaza, stating during a November press conference that “there isn’t going to be in Gaza a civilian authority that teaches its children to hate Israel and to destroy Israel.”

Peacekeeping Failures in Lebanon
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) constitutes an example of how another multinational peacekeeping force in the region has failed to achieve its mission. UNIFIL is tasked with securing the Israel-Lebanon border and helping the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) establish “an area free of any armed personnel, assets, and weapons” south of the Litani River, as stipulated in its UN mandate. However, UNIFIL’s 10,000 peacekeepers from 49 countries have looked the other way as Iran-backed Hezbollah’s arsenal has grown to an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles. Since October 7, UNIFIL has failed to prevent Hezbollah from attacking Israel from southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL has also refrained from standing up to the LAF, which has repeatedly blocked the peacekeeping mission from fulfilling its mandate. According to the Israeli military, the LAF limits UNIFIL’s access to “illicit sites,” concealing Hezbollah’s “prohibited military operations.”
Palestinians reject proposal to introduce Arab multi-national force in Gaza
Al-Mayadeen, a Hezbollah-affiliated network, reported on Saturday that "Palestinian factions" in Syria rejected the proposal to establish a multi-national military force of Arab countries with the backing of the US. This force would be responsible for controlling law and order in Gaza and escorting humanitarian aid convoys.

"Arab countries, together with the US, are trying to rescue the IDF from the situation it has found itself in Gaza. The Palestinian people are capable of choosing their leaders and institutions that will manage the Strip," the report stated.

It was previously reported that Israel is interested in the advancement of an Arab force to both solve the issue of the looting of humanitarian aid convoys and prevent widespread hunger in Gaza. It would also to enable the creation of a Palestinian alternative to Hamas rule in Gaza.

A senior Israeli official said that "such a move will build a governing body in the area that is not Hamas and will solve Israel's problem with the US regarding the humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

This official also noted that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant discussed the possibility of establishing a multi-national force during discussions with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and in talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. All of this was in the framework of promoting a plan for "the day after" the war in Gaza.

According to the Israeli official, this Arab-led force would only stay in Gaza for a limited transition period. It would be responsible for securing the temporary pier that the US intends to build off the coast of Gaza. This force would also escort the humanitarian aid convoys to ensure they reach the people who need it most rather than remain vulnerable to looting by terrorists.

Additionally, Gallant asked the US to cooperate in promoting the establishment of this multi-national force, emphasizing to the Americans that this would take the form of political and material support, with no US troops entering the ground in Gaza. The senior Israeli official added that senior officials in the IDF and Defense Ministry had discussed the issue in recent weeks with representatives from three Arab countries, including Egypt.

IDF kills additional senior Hamas officials at Shifa Hospital
Soldiers killed several Hamas senior officials in face-to-face combat at Gaza's Shifa Hospital on Saturday, the IDF said.

Forces from the elite Shayetet 13, Duvdevan, and Nahal Brigade Reconnaissance units conducted a targeted raid where intelligence officials determined the terrorists were located. At the targeted location, armed terrorists came out of the emergency room to fire on the soldiers.

Several terrorists were eliminated in the raid, including senior Hamas leader Ra’ad Thabat, as well as Mahmoud Khalil Ziqzouq, who was the deputy head of the rocket unit in Gaza City.

In addition, terrorists Fadi Dewik and Zakariya Najeeb were eliminated in an encounter in the maternity ward. Dewik, who carried out a shooting attack in the Adora settlement in 2002 in which four people were murdered, was released in the Gilad Schalit deal of 2011.

Najeeb was a senior operative in Hamas’s West Bank headquarters and was responsible for linking the West Bank and Gaza Strip in directing terror attacks. He, too, was released in the Schalit deal.

The terrorists eliminated
Forces from the army’s 401st Brigade and Shayetet 13, under the 162nd Division’s command, have been continuing to operate in the area of the hospital to fight Hamas terrorists using the medical facility.

They have reportedly been operating under intelligence provided by the Military Intelligence Directorate and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which revealed the presence of the senior Hamas members in the hospital.

Israeli drone strikes UN vehicle during exchange with Hezbollah, four wounded - report
According to Lebanese reports, four people were injured in the strike.

Four United Nations observers were wounded on Saturday when a shell exploded near them as they were carrying out a foot patrol in southern Lebanon, the UN peacekeeping mission said, adding it was still investigating the origin of the blast.

The UNIFIL statement said the targeting of peacekeepers is "unacceptable." Two security sources had told Reuters the observers were wounded in an Israeli strike but the Israeli military denied striking in the area.

One of the security sources said the car carried three UN technical observers and one Lebanese translator. That source, and a second security source, said that the Israeli strike had left several of those in the car wounded.

Various responses to the incident
There was no immediate comment from the UN peacekeeper mission in southern Lebanon UNIFIL, which accompanies technical observers monitoring the Blue Line, which delineates the border between Lebanon and Israel.

Israel did not carry out an airstrike on a vehicle carrying United Nations observers in southern Lebanon on Saturday, the IDF said.

"Contrary to the reports, the IDF did not strike a UNIFIL vehicle in the area of Rmeish this morning," the IDF said.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the 'targeting' of UN forces in southern Lebanon that wounded three observers.

‘Multiple factual flaws’: Israel contests UN-backed report on imminent famine in Gaza
Israel on Friday contested a recent UN-backed report on the humanitarian situation in Gaza that said famine was imminent and likely to occur by May in northern Gaza, and by July in other parts of the Strip.

The report by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) further heightened global concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in the war-torn Strip.

The IPC uses a complex set of technical criteria. Its most extreme warning is Phase 5, which has two levels, catastrophe and famine. Famine is assessed as at least 20% of the population suffering extreme food shortages, with one in three children acutely malnourished and two people out of every 10,000 dying daily from starvation or from malnutrition and disease.

In northern Gaza, “the upward trend in non-trauma mortality is also expected to accelerate, resulting in all famine thresholds likely to be passed imminently,” the IPC said.

The study said the number of people projected to experience “catastrophic hunger” across the besieged enclave between now and mid-July had nearly doubled to more than 1.1 million, or about half the population, since the IPC last reported in December, when there was already record hunger.

COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, said in a response Friday that “the report contains multiple factual and methodological flaws, some of them serious.”

It argued the report grossly underestimated the amount of water available per person per day (claiming over 20 liters versus the report’s assessment of less than 1) while noting it lacked key information amid the chaos of the conflict — as acknowledged by the IPC report — and subsequently relied on incomplete data, including from Hamas.

“Given the difficulty in conducting surveys and samplings, the remotely conducted surveys, or third-party surveys within the Gaza Strip, diminish the reliability of the data,” COGAT said.

'When we arrived in Gaza, the terrorists grabbed my daughter and showed her off to the cheering crowd - boasting they'd stolen a little Israeli girl': A haunting interview with a mother held hostage by Hamas with three children
At 6.30am on October 7 last year, Avichai Brodutch and his wife Hagar were woken by the sound of wailing sirens as thousands of rockets rained down on their small farming community less than two miles from the border with the Gaza Strip.

Such attacks had become part of life on a kibbutz so near enemy territory and the couple immediately followed a well-established routine.

Hagar quickly woke their three children and led them all to a small safe room, while her husband rushed outside to watch the deadly firework display in the sky above them.

But this time something was different.

Suddenly Hagar heard her husband screaming: 'The terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming!' Scores of paragliders soared over the border wall that divided Gaza and Israel and headed towards the kibbutz of Kfar Azar, with its population of just under 800.

Avichai, a 42-year-old trainee nurse who doubled as a security guard for the community, immediately grabbed his uniform (his gun was kept in the kibbutz's armoury) and headed for the front door. As he did so, he heard a faint knock.

His heart pumping, he peered through the peephole. At first he couldn't see anyone but, when he looked down, he was confronted by a sight he will never forget: his neighbors' three-year-old daughter shaking with fear and drenched in blood.

He opened the door to let her in and Hagar rushed the little girl to the safe room where her own children were already hiding.

In the minutes that followed, she pieced together the horrifying ordeal that Avigail Idan had gone through before heading for the home of her father's best friend.

'It wasn't her blood, it was her parents' blood,' Hagar explains in her first sit-down interview. 'She saw how terrorists, dressed in military uniforms, killed her mother.

'Her father picked her up and tried to run away with her brothers. But they killed him too. She was in his arms when they killed him and he fell on top of her. They let her go and she ran to our house.'

By now her husband had left home to coordinate the kibbutz's resistance to Hamas's invasion, and Hagar and her three young children - Ofri, ten, Yuval, nine, and Oriya, four – as well as Avigail, cowered in the safe room in the dark, hidden under blankets.

For four hours they hid silently there until Hagar heard the sound of the front door being smashed in.

The 40-year-old community manager quickly texted her husband, 'They're coming', and stationed herself by the door, determined to use all her strength to keep it shut.

But she was no match for the attackers and, as 14 armed men barged into the room, shouting in Arabic, she desperately screamed: 'It's only kids! It's only kids! Please don't do anything!'

That was the moment Hagar and the children became five of the 253 hostages taken by Hamas during its lethal invasion.

Oct. 7 triggers Jewish moms in Arizona to take steps to protect themselves
Jewish mom chat groups on WhatsApp and other platforms cover lots of topics, including prayer requests for the sick, book clubs, opportunities to volunteer. But that has changed since Oct. 7 for some in the state of Arizona who, like religious women in Judea and Samaria, have been spending time at the local shooting range.

Messages about private shooting classes at gun ranges abound, as do discussions about Taekwondo self-defense courses.

Sunny Levi, 46, an Orthodox Jewish mother of six in Scottsdale, told JNS that her services have been in demand since the terrorist attacks in southern Israel six months ago, with triple the number of people attending compared to before then.

“Every woman should know how to defend herself,” she said. “It is important that you know where to hit someone to knock them out, how to stop the blood flow to the brain, to disable them and even to kill them if needed.”

“When a person has the knowledge on how to protect themselves, they have more confidence and that makes them less of a target,” she added.

Farah Tataro, 40, a petite young widow and Jewish convert who lives in Phoenix, told JNS that she went to her first gun-training class in 2023.

“I was really nervous. I have never held a gun before,” she said. “But when I left, I felt empowered. I need to be ready. I have to protect my family.”
JNS story spurs multistate probe of investment firm’s possible anti-Israel actions
When Ashley Moody announced on Friday that she is leading a coalition of state attorneys general in investigating whether a major investment firm is engaging in anti-Israel practices, the Florida attorney general cited JNS reporting.

“Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East, and in Florida, we unequivocally support their right to exist,” Moody stated. “The BDS movement has one goal, the complete elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The allegations against MSCI are deeply disturbing, and we have called for a quick response from the company’s leadership directly addressing our concerns.”

“As reported by the Jewish News Syndicate, ‘Like Morningstar, which allegedly assigned damaging ratings to a dozen companies that it said committed “human rights violations” simply for conducting business in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, MSCI’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) ratings appear to downgrade companies for the same reason,’” the Florida attorney general stated.

Based in New York, MSCI manages some $5.2 billion in assets. JNS has reported for more than two years on anti-Israel bias at the Chicago-based Morningstar financial services firm, which manages and advises on about $264 billion in assets.

The coalition is made up of attorneys general from 18 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

The group of 18 is probing whether MSCI “is embracing the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, movement against Israel,” Moody announced.

“As evidenced by our efforts against Morningstar, we oppose the BDS movement in all forms, especially given the recent rise in antisemitism across the United States. Having said that, one of the allegations against MSCI is uniquely egregious,” the group of 18 wrote in the March 28 letter to Henry Fernandez, chairman and CEO of MSCI.

“According to JNS, MSCI deducted ESG points from an Israeli company specifically because of the company’s ‘participation in the construction of security and surveillance barriers designed to protect Israelis from terrorists.’ It is unthinkable to us that MSCI would stand by this position following the terrorist attacks on Israel last October,” the group wrote.
The Israel Guys: Why is No One Talking About this New IDF Operation in Gaza?
There was a massive new IDF operation that just happened in Gaza that either no one is talking about, or if they are, they are getting it very wrong. We’re going to break that down, along with why Israel is stopping direct flights to South Africa.

Protesters calling for Gaza ceasefire demonstrate outside USNS Harvey Milk in SF
A group of demonstrators calling for a ceasefire in Gaza rallied outside the Navy ship known as the USNS Harvey Milk in San Francisco Friday.

The new fueling and supply vessel was expected leave San Francisco for Virginia. But protesters chained themselves to the vessel as part of an ongoing call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Protest organizers said they planned the event as part of their ongoing call for a ceasefire in the now six-month war between Israel and Hamas.

"The United Nations Security Council successfully passed a cease fire resolution without a U.S. veto. They have consistently vetoed these cease fire resolutions until now,” said Wassim Hage with the Arab Resource Organizing Center. “And we believe this is a direct impact caused by movements made by people of conscience."

Organizers added they say they chose the ship because they heard reports it was headed to the Middle East and House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi was going to be in the ship for a special event.

The ceremony aboard the USNS Harvey Milk had already wrapped up and Pelosi had already left the scene as demonstrators were able to get to the ship.

Man is arrested for terror offence at pro-Palestine protest as organisers claim 200,000 people joined the march in London including The Crown star Khalid Abdalla
A man has been arrested on suspicion of a terrorism-related offence at a pro-Palestinian protest in central London, where hundreds of thousands gathered to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

More than 200,000 people took part in the demonstration, according to estimates by organisers, with crowds marching from Russell Square to Trafalgar Square.

And away from the centre of the capital protesters were taken away by police officers as they tried to disrupt the Boat Race.

Photos showed a pair of men with a huge banner by Chiswick Bridge, close to the conclusion of the Oxbridge race.

The activists had glued themselves to the bridge, according to organisers Youth Demand, in protest to the sale of weapons to Israel and new oil and gas licenses.

In a video posted on social media, they called for people to join their cause, saying: 'Join us and you can do cool stuff like this as well!'

The force said: 'Our officers have been deployed to a number of public order events across the capital today.

'Away from central London, officers along the course prevented protestors from disrupting the Boat Race and have made a number of arrests.'

The demonstration in central London, organised in part by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, included speeches from The Crown actor Khalid Abdalla, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and MP Diane Abbott.

The Metropolitan Police said officers made an arrest on the Strand in relation to inviting support for a proscribed organisation.

The man has been taken to a police station in central London and remains in custody.

Shocking scenes from the event showed one man shouting that he 'fully supports Hamas' as he is dragged away by Met officers.

New Study: Diversity Officers at U.S. Colleges are Anti-Israel
A new study by Heritage senior policy analyst Jay Greene, Ph.D., found that an overwhelming number of DEI hires are spewing antisemitic views about Israel on social media. Greene breaks down his findings on this week's episode.

Michelle Cordero: From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Michelle Cordero, and this is Heritage Explains.

Cordero: It's becoming increasingly obvious that the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, has exploded on college campuses, but what's been less talked about is the staff at these universities who are helping to facilitate it.

Cordero: Did you know that the average U.S. college employs 45 DEI officials, and that number is growing? DEI offices are led by people with titles like Senior Associate Vice President for Diversity and Equity, and of course these central offices all have subordinates. Additionally, almost all universities have something like a multicultural affairs center. Most also have women's centers, LGBTQ centers, and Hispanic/Latino centers. These centers have directors, assistant directors, program assistants, graduate and undergraduate interns and administrative staff.

Cordero: To help understand the scope of this type of staffing at our universities, Heritage created an interactive graphic that allows you to explore DEI personnel levels at 65 universities. You can even compare the ratio of DEI personnel to core teaching personnel like history professors or special accommodation staff. Sadly, this is just the beginning of this story. Jay Greene, the Heritage researcher behind the interactive graphic, recently published a new report. It turns out that an overwhelming number of these diversity officers at colleges across the country also hold anti-Israel views. After this short break, we'll talk to Greene about his findings.

Cordero: The Biden administration has been in power for almost a year, and the radical left has been imposing its dangerous ideology on America. Not only do they want to expand government control and promote cancel culture, but they also want to rewrite our nation's history, indoctrinate American students in our public school system, attack our traditional values of honor, liberty and justice for all, and implement a Marxist agenda that unleashes socialism throughout our country.
Harvard sees dip in applications following antisemitism, plagiarism controversies
Harvard University suffered a 5% drop in admission applications following its highly publicized antisemitism and plagiarism controversies.

The Ivy League school published data on its incoming Class of 2028 on Thursday, announcing the acceptance of 1,937 students from an application pool of 54,008.

This marks a small downward tick in applications from last year — approximately 3,000 fewer.

In December of last year, the Harvard early application pool saw a 17% decline from the year before, receiving 7,921 early applications, compared to 9,553 applications in 2022.

The November 1, 2023, application deadline came before Harvard's then-President Claudine Gay's congressional testimony that ignited discussions about institutional leaders' reluctance to adequately condemn antisemitism.

'Twistory, not history': B.C. activists lobby government to teach anti-Israel account of 1948 war
Pro-Palestinian activist groups in British Columbia have sent an open letter to the province’s NDP government demanding a new curriculum featuring politicized content on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The statement was sent to Minister of Education and Child Care Rachna Singh and insisted the province’s social studies curricula be overhauled to include reference to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The activists refer to the event, which began after five Arab nations invaded Israel following its declaration of independence, as the “Nakba” — “catastrophe” in English.

“Over 700,000 Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their homes, more than 15,000 were massacred, and over 500 of their villages were destroyed,” the letter claims. (Those statistics cited are at odds with historic evidence.)

“To uphold our commitment to social justice, decolonization, and reconciliation, it is imperative that we ensure students do not leave the education system completely ignorant of the history of Palestine and Israel. We cannot have yet another generation grow up believing it’s ‘too complicated’ or ‘too sensitive,'” it concludes.

Israeli historian Benny Morris, considered one of the war’s preeminent scholars, called the proposal a distortion of “what happened in 1948.”

“It omits the fact that the Palestinians launched the war in defiance of the proposal by the international community,” Morris said over the phone, referring to the United Nations partition plan adopted in November 1948. “That’s not in there and neither is the second part of the war, which was launched by the Arab states when they invaded Israel in May 1948,” he continued.

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Morris pointed to this crucial context explaining the subsequent conflict. In the late 80s, Morris wrote a ground-breaking book about the subject, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, and in 2008 he wrote a definitive history of the conflict, entitled 1948.

“It doesn’t explain why 700,000 Jews were uprooted from the Arab states in which they had lived until 1948, under pressure by Arab societies and Arab governments, creating a Jewish refugee problem,” Morris continued. “None of this is explained or touched upon at all in that proposal they made.”
Biggest teachers’ union to blame Israel for war in Gaza
Britain’s biggest teaching union is to blame Israel for the war in Gaza and publish “educational resources” about the conflict for teachers.

Leaders of the National Education Union (NEU) are calling on their 300,000 members to actively campaign for Palestine and “increase understanding” of the conflict.

The union’s executive board has backed a motion, to be discussed at the annual conference next week, which declares that “Israel’s hard-right, racist government is the main driver of conflict, violence and war in Palestine and Israel”.

The motion, which also calls for the NEU to support the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War Coalition, will be debated despite laws that forbid teachers from pushing their political views in classrooms.

Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, said the motion was “wholly inappropriate” and “completely ignore[s] the horrific terrorist attacks committed by Hamas on October 7”.

She added: “Teachers have a duty to remain politically impartial and to ensure all sides of contested views are presented fairly and without bias or prejudice.

“These proposals will cause significant hurt to members of the Jewish community and the thousands of Jewish children and parents in British schools.”

The motion comes after Daniel Kebede, a militant trade unionist and pro-Palestine campaigner took over as general secretary of the union last year.

Mr Kebede, a former teacher in the North East of England, was embroiled in an anti-Semitism row last year when a clip emerged of him speaking at a rally in Newcastle, where participants were heard calling to “globalise the intifada”.

In a statement, the union said the slogan was an expression of “solidarity” with Palestinians and Mr Kebede and the union condemned “all acts of anti-Semitism and any attacks on Jewish people”.

Pro-Hamas riots erupt in Jordan causing inner divisions to resurface
Violent clashes between Jordanian forces and protesters erupted in the past couple of days, including instances of stone-throwing and arson aimed at the country’s security forces.

These confrontations are taking place against the backdrop of the nation’s large anti-Israel protests, many of which included openly pro-Hamas chants.

One of the main promoters and leaders of these demonstrations is the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, a group aligned with Hamas for their shared ideological origins. It is active on both the social and the political level through its party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF).

Following the clashes, several activists of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested, including two prominent members of the IAF’s youth sector, Moataz Al-Harout and Hamza Al-Shaghnoubi.

In a rare statement that implies criticism of the country’s leadership, Secretary General of the Muslim Brotherhood’s party, Murad Adaileh, denounced the arrests, deeming them “outdated” and adding that they would be “of no use in stopping the Jordanian youth movement which supports the Palestinian people’s jihad and heroic resistance, and rejects Zionist crimes in and state of Arab incompetence.”

One viral picture showed posters carried during a demonstration addressed to the Jordanian army, calling it to heed the calls of children and women in Gaza or take vengeance on their enemies and free the land, adding the hashtag: “Where’s the army of Al-Karamah?”

This is a word meaning both ‘dignity’ and the name of a 1968 battle in which the Jordanian army forced the IDF to retreat from a retaliatory operation on Jordanian soil.

Iran Debuts 'Gaza' Drone In Qatar, Signaling Global Military Ascent
The news of Tehran regime’s military-industry complex showcasing its “Gaza” drone at Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) surprised few industry observers.

Until DIMDEX entered the stage in 2008, Turkey’s Istanbul International Defense Industry Fair, “IDEF” (1993-present), UAE’s Abu Dhabi International Defense Exhibition, “IDEX” (1993-present), and Pakistan’s Karachi International Defense Exhibition and Seminar, “IDEA S” (2000-present), did enjoy unrivalled seniority over Qatar’s DIMDEX as regional biennial military exhibition hubs. But Iran’s effective “show” of its military hardware at DIMDEX 2024, the Qatari military exhibition just took the whole concept of arms deals and commerce to a grand new level.

Certainly, this is not Iran’s first rodeo at DIMDEX as the Iranian military industrial complex has been an enthusiastic participant at Qatar’s military expo for quite a few years. Since 2014, Qatar and Iran have become increasingly aligned in a cold war against Saudi Arabia and their military and security cooperation and sponsorship of non-state antagonists such as Hamas has bonded them in an unprecedented way.

From 2018 onwards, Iran has offered a far more diverse arsenal of missiles and drone technology at Qatar military expo. The Iranian military tech have passed muster in a half dozen proxy conflicts across the world over the past decade. The list is long and diverse. Ethiopia put Iranian drones in battlefield in Ethiopia-Tigray conflict with utmost effectiveness. Houthis use the same technology in their relentless and frequent assault on shipping lanes in the Red Sea. The very Iranian drones supplied to Iraqi-Shia militia have killed US service members in Jordan recently. The Hezbollah of Lebanon and Hamas use Iranian supplied drone technology against Israel. And last but not least, Putin’s Russia has unleashed thousands of Iranian Shahed suicide drones upon hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians.

Since Apartheid South Africa, itself a major arms supplier and subject of multiple sanction regimes on an international scale by the 1980s, the Tehran regime has effectively beaten the multitude of sanction regimes imposed upon it by the Euro-American alliance. Whilst the Mullahs’ decades long deepening strategic entente with Russia and China has been fundamental to the success of their sanction thwarting measures, it is Western complacency that has arguably “enabled “the Iranian regime’s meteoric rise to its present “drone” mastery.

Iran International journalist stabbed, wounded outside his London home
British counter-terrorism detectives are investigating after a journalist working for a Persian language media organization was stabbed in London on Friday amid fears he had been targeted because of his job, police said.

Police said the man, aged in his 30s, was attacked and sustained an injury to his leg in the incident in Wimbledon, southwest London, on Friday afternoon.

Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the victim was prominent British-based Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati, who hosts a show on the Persian language television news network Iran International, which is critical of Iran’s government. Last year, Zeraati interviewed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Police said his injuries were not believed to be life-threatening and he was in a stable condition.

“This cowardly attack on Pouria is deeply shocking, and our thoughts are with him, his family and all of his colleagues at Iran International,” Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ general secretary said in a statement.

In January, Britain imposed sanctions on Iranian officials it said were involved in threats to kill journalists on British soil.

UK official apologizes to Jewish family after birth certificate defaced
The head of the UK Passport office offered a personal apology to the family of a young baby whose birth certificate was vandalized in February, the Telegraph reported on Friday.

“Israel” had been scribbled out on the official document.

Tom Pursglove, the immigration minister, told the source that Abi Tierney, the director general of the Passport Office, has “apologized unreservedly [and] directly” to the family and provided them with a replacement certificate.

Pursglove confirmed the investigation was still ongoing, six weeks after it had emerged that the baby’s birth certificate was damaged and defaced.

He added that a “small number” of the contractors’ staff remained suspended as the investigation continued to identify the individual responsible.

“I continue to take this incident extremely seriously, and while I cannot preempt the outcome of the investigation, my officials are in no doubt of the need to ensure that such an issue is not repeated in the future. Please be assured that the appropriate action is being taken,” he said.
‘Kill Jews’ cocktail rocks Spanish town’s Holy Week: ‘An expression, it’s not racist’
It’s the week before Easter in León, an ancient city in northwest Spain, and locals have poured into the streets to knock back glasses of wine-lemonade, an annual festivity that’s sometimes punctuated with a cheerful cry: “Matar judíos,” or “Kill Jews.”

“Semana Santa,” or Holy Week, is the most important religious period in Spain. León’s celebrations are particularly spectacular, marked by 10 days of music, sermons and about 30 processions, featuring some 16,000 penitents. It’s also a high season for visitors — in 2002, the city’s Holy Week was declared a “Festival of International Interest for Tourists.”

One fixture of these frenzied days is a Leonese cocktail made from red wine, lemons, cinnamon and sugar, sometimes with oranges and figs. Here it is called “limonada,” and virtually every bar in Barrio Húmedo, the city’s nightlife-packed medieval quarter, is plastered with signs advertising their version. It’s a local tradition to drink 33 limonadas during Holy Week, representing the age of Jesus when he was crucified.

It’s also a centuries-old tradition for revelers seeking limonadas to say they are going out to “kill Jews.”

“It’s an expression here,” Margarita Torres Sevilla, a professor of medieval history at the University of León, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “For example, you tell me, ‘Have a drink with me? Okay, let’s go kill Jews.’ Another typical sentence of Holy Week is, ‘How many Jews have you killed? Three, four, five [limonadas]? Oh, you have killed a lot.’”

In León, a city of about 124,000 that has no visible Jewish community, locals told JTA the phrase is not seen as vulgar or antisemitic. Some bars celebrate it as a point of pride in the city’s heritage, using the phrase as a hashtag when advertising their seasonal specials on social media.
Prominent Utrecht rabbi alleges anti-Semitism in shopping center assault
The police in Utrecht were investigating an incident in which a rabbi was allegedly hit in the head at the Overvecht shopping center. The rabbi, Aryeh Heintz, spoke with the Telegraaf about the incident on Friday. Heintz said he was struck by an attacker who told him he had no business being at the shopping center “dressed as a Jew.”

The victim said he entered the discount store, Action, but the offender followed him, and pushed him. Heintz said members of the public intervened to prevent the victim from being hit again.

The rabbi also alleged that Action would not allow Heintz to remain in the store long enough to take a photo of his attacker. Heintz claimed the manager kicked him out even though he was the clear victim. A spokesperson for Action disputed the man’s story, saying that Heintz was only told he was not allowed to take photos in the shop, and that he could obtain video footage if needed.

Police confirmed to ANP that they responded to the scene after the incident was reported at about 3 p.m. The rabbi pressed charges against the man. Officers were able to secure camera footage of the incident, and they were carrying out an investigation into the case. The police said they have not yet interviewed the other person involved in the altercation.

Heinz was uninjured in the attack, and has previously been subjected to abuse because of his religious beliefs. “I’ve had a swastika on my door before, but mostly they just curse. We really notice that anti-Semitism is getting worse. But I won’t let terrorists rule my life. If I have to go to Overvecht, I will go. Maybe I’ll be a bit more careful,” he told the newspaper.

Heinz, who also has long-standing ties to Brooklyn, New York, has been a rabbi for nearly 37 years. He worked as a spiritual counselor at the Ministry of Justice and Security for over 26 years.

“It is terrible that we are no longer safe in the Netherlands.” his wife told the Telegraaf.
At funeral, Joe Lieberman eulogized as ‘mensch’ committed to his Jewish faith
Former Vice President Al Gore and other politician dignitaries remembered the late Joe Lieberman Friday as a “mensch” who both bridged partisan political divides and wasn’t afraid to go against mainstream political currents, during a packed funeral service for the four-term US senator.

Noting there is no English equivalent for the Yiddish term, Gore — who ran for president on a Democratic ticket with Lieberman in the disputed 2000 election — told mourners at a synagogue in Stamford, Connecticut, that they could find its meaning just by looking at his former running mate, who passed away this week at 82.

“Those who seek its definition will not find it in dictionaries so much as they find it in the way Joe Lieberman lived his life: friendship over anger, reconciliation as a form of grace,” Gore said. “We can learn from Joe Lieberman’s life some critical lessons about how we might heal the rancor in our nation today.”

Top Connecticut Democrats, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Gov. Ned Lamont — Lieberman’s one-time rival for the Senate seat — shared similar sentiments.

Lamont said his acquaintance with Lieberman started on “an inauspicious note” when they ran against each other in 2006. After Lamont defeated the incumbent Lieberman in the Democratic primary for his Senate seat, Lieberman ran as an independent and defeated Lamont.

Lamont said Lieberman loved Frank Sinatra songs, especially “My Way.” “He did it his way,” Lamont said. “He never quite fit in that Republican or Democratic box. I think maybe in an odd way I helped liberate him because when he beat me — he beat me pretty good, by the way — he won as an independent.”

Lamont said Lieberman “was always a calming presence” and a “bridge over troubled waters as you see the partisan sniping from both directions.”

Blumenthal recalled Lieberman’s “tremendous accomplishments,” including helping to form the Department of Homeland Security and championing civil rights, voting rights, women’s reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights. “But the greatest accomplishment of his life was his marriage to Hadassah and their children and grandchildren,” Blumenthal said.

Services were held at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford. For Lieberman, a self-described observant Jew who followed the rules of the Jewish Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, the congregation played a key role early on in his life.

He once recalled how the congregation’s former synagogue building was “a place that gave me the first sense of religion; a very special uplift,” according to a posting on the congregation’s website.

File: Former Sen. Joe Lieberman of Conn., right, speaks with a reporter at the Capitol in Washington, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) “I feel very lucky — my adherence to the Jewish tradition is really an asset,” he said. “Religious Catholics and Protestants find a bond of common value with my beliefs and stand. It is this that makes me so proud of being an American.”

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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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