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Latest Israel News – 19th July

Caroline Glick interviewed on the Bolt Report

Video of American-Israeli journalist Caroline Glick on what she makes of the push by some Labor figures to recognise Palestine as a state. On The Bolt Report, Sky News Australia

She will be in Sydney this weekend and will be at Central Synagogue for Shabbat lunch and on Sunday at Mizrachi for brunch. (Bookings are essential)

WATCH: American-Israeli journalist Caroline Glick on what she makes of the push by some Labor figures to recognise Palestine as a state. On The Bolt Report, Sky News Australia

Posted by The Bolt Report on Monday, 17 July 2017

Two IDF soldiers hurt in West Bank ramming attack; assailant killed

Two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in a suspected car-ramming attack near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba on Tuesday.

According to the army a Palestinian arrived at the entrance to the village of Beit Anun and accelerated into the troops. Forces responded by firing their weapons at the man, killing him.

Magen David Adom reported that it had evacuated the two soldiers in their 20s in light condition and fully conscious to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital.

“When we arrived on the scene we identified two youngsters in their twenties fully conscious and able to walk. They suffered from wounds to their limbs and faces after being hit by a vehicle,” MDA paramedic Zaki Yahav said.

According to initial reports, two pedestrians in their 60s were also wounded in the suspected attack.

Since October 2015, Palestinians have stabbed, run over, and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, including some foreign tourists, in a wave of violence in the West Bank and Israel. While the violence has decreased since its peak in the winter of 2016, when there were almost daily attacks, there have been several deadly attacks in recent months.

On Friday, two Israeli policemen were killed in a shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City outside the Temple Mount complex by three Israeli-Arabs from the town of Umm el-Fahm.

Following the attack, Israel barred entrance to the contested holy site for two days. On Sunday, the compound was reopened under new security measures, drawing protest by Muslim religious authorities over the installation of metal detectors at its entrances.

Last week, another Israeli soldier was wounded in a car-ramming attack near the West Bank settlement of Tekoa after a Palestinian assailant drove into a number of soldiers at a junction in Tekoa, northeast of Hebron. He then exited the vehicle, armed with a knife, and attempted to stab IDF soldiers standing nearby.

The assailant was shot dead by security forces after he exited his vehicle.

In April Sgt. Elchai Taharlev was killed after he was struck by a Palestinian driver at the Ofra Junction on Route 60, northeast of Ramallah. The driver, 21-year-old Malek Ahmad Mousa from the nearby town of Silwad, served four months in jail for attempting an attack at the settlement of Adam last year, military officials said and the ninth attack in the past two years to be carried out by residents of Silwad.       (Jerusalem Post)

Clashes break out in Old City as Temple Mount tensions heat up

Clashes broke out between Muslim worshipers and police in the Old City of Jerusalem for the third night in a row on Tuesday, in response to Israel placing metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount compound following a terror attack in the area.

According to police, after evening prayers at a gate outside the Temple Mount, a group of Muslim worshipers “started throwing rocks and bottles at the officers” who were stationed in the Old City.

In response, the officers used riot dispersal equipment — notably rubber bullets and stun grenades — to break up the clashes, police said.

In videos from the scene, people can be seen running away as stun grenades echo across the Old City’s narrow alleyways.

The Red Crescent said 34 people were injured, including 14 people needing hospitalization. One person had a serious chest injury, a spokesperson said.

Police said two officers were lightly injured in the fighting

Police said the area had calmed after the clashes.

“The area’s quiet,” a police spokesperson said.

Similar clashes broke out at the site on Sunday and Monday nights as well, as Muslim worshipers held protest prayers against the metal detectors outside the Temple Mount gates.

The detectors were set up on Sunday after a deadly terror attack that left two Israeli cops dead on Friday. Following the terror attack, Israel made the rare move of closing the compound, reopening it to Muslims on Sunday and to non-Muslims on Monday.

The metal detectors were touted as part of increased security measures, after police said the attackers stashed their weapons on the Temple Mount.

Israel’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount was immediately denounced by the Waqf officials who administer the holy site. They called the move “Israeli aggression.”

On Tuesday evening, lawmakers from the Joint (Arab) List visited the Lions Gate outside the Temple Mount compound, also calling for removal of the detectors.

“We who seek peace and not war call on [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to immediately cancel the decision [to install the detectors] and return the situation to what it was before, to allow freedom of worship without any limits,” said MKs Ahmad Tibi and Osama Sa’adi in a statement.

To protest the new security measures, Waqf officials have staged protests in the Old City, gathering large groups of men to pray just outside the Temple Mount and encouraging others to avoid entering the flashpoint holy site.

However, these protests, which begin peacefully, often develop into minor clashes between the worshipers and police.

Earlier on Tuesday evening, the police said that while many Muslim worshipers had decided to protest the metal detectors, others have accepted them and visited the Temple Mount.

The assertion came as members the Waqf trust, which administers the holy site, persisted in their calls for Muslims not to enter through the metal detectors installed Sunday.

The police statement added that visits from Jews and tourists also continued Tuesday, though not without incident. Security forces removed two Jewish visitors from the compound, detaining them for further questioning.

“The Israel Police continues to act to enable a return to a safe routine in the Temple Mount area, its entrances and the wider area,” the statement said.

Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the site but are prohibited from praying there.

The Palestinian Fatah movement has called for a “Day of Rage” on Wednesday to protest the new security measures.

The organization headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for marches in the West Bank toward Israeli checkpoints in protest of the new measures and announced that Friday prayers, when many worshipers go to the Temple Mount, would be conducted in public squares instead.

Palestinian officials denounced a “fierce and organized attack” by Israel against East Jerusalemites. They called for maintaining the delicate status quo at the Temple Mount, according to which the Jordanian Waqf manages the site while Israel controls access. Muslims accuse Israel of breaking the status quo by instaling the metal detectors.

Misinformation regarding Israeli plans to make changes to the status quo surfaces frequently, roiling the Palestinian street and angering the Arab world.

The “Day of Rage” announcement came amid a night of unrest in East Jerusalem and the Old City as Palestinian rioters clashed with police, hurling stones and firebombs and blocking roads. At least 15 were injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Police officers called to Lions Gate in the Old City to disperse protesters blocking a road were attacked with rocks and other objects.  (the Times of Israel)

PA: Only precondition for talks is that Israel announce commitment to two states

The Palestinian Authority informed US President Donald Trump’s administration that their only precondition to reviving peace talks is that Israel announce its commitment to the two-state solution, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the Chinese Xinhua newspaper on Monday.

“We are ready to engage in negotiations when Israel announces that it is committed to the two-state solution as the primary and only solution,” Maliki said in an interview in Bejiing, where he is accompanying PA President Abbas on a four-day visit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he supports a two-state solution, but many ministers and members of his government strongly oppose it.

Maliki’s comments came less than a week after Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt visited Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss ways to revive the peace process.

Since the collapse of the last round of peace talks in May 2014, the Palestinians have demanded that Israel freeze settlement building and release Palestinian prisoners before restarting negotiations.

However, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has – without mentioning preconditions – said on multiple occasions in the past several months that he is ready to meet with Netanyahu.

Abbas, who is slated to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, told Xinhua in an interview published on Sunday that he is open to minor land swaps with Israel in a final peace deal.

“We say that they must be small percentages and equal in terms of size and quality of land,” Abbas said.

Land swaps refer to exchanges of territory between Israel and the Palestinians in which the two sides would agree to modifications to the 1967 border in a final agreement.

Practically, land swaps would allow Israel to maintain some settlements and the Palestinians to annex some parts of Israel.

According to leaked documents, the Palestinians offered former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a 1.9% swap of land in 2008, in which Israel would be able to keep Gush Etzion and other settlements straddling the Green Line, while the Palestinians would annex various territories in Israel along the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The leaked documents also showed that Olmert offered Abbas a 6.8% exchange of land, in which Israel could keep settlements such as Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim, whereas the Palestinians would gain territories around the West Bank and Gaza.  (Jerusalem Post)

White House: Trump shares Israel’s goal to prevent Iranian rush through Syria

The Trump administration shares Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns over Iran’s presence in southern Syria, and is working with Israel to prevent it, a White House official told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Netanyahu seemed to question that commitment over the weekend in Paris, outlining to reporters his opposition to a ceasefire agreement negotiated among Russia, Jordan and the US holding in southwestern Syria since July 11. Israel fears the agreement grants Tehran de facto freedom of movement in a region close to its border.

It was a rare rebuke of Trump from Netanyahu, who considers the new president a strategic and political ally.

“Both governments – the United States and Israel – are rightly concerned about Iran’s malign influence in the region,” a White House official told the Post. “A core goal of US policy in Syria is to ensure that no vacuum is created which Iran can fill.”

Trump officials claim the ceasefire is a successful diplomatic achievement that has prevented Syrian bloodshed and demonstrated the value of cooperating with Moscow. Trump himself said that he is negotiating a second ceasefire that would govern another section of the war-torn country. But critics question whether Russia and Iran are using the pause in fighting to consolidate their gains and regroup for a new offensive.

Another administration official told the Post last week that Israel was “not a party to it [the negotiations], but were consulted,” after a national security adviser to the president claimed on CNN that Israel was directly involved in the ceasefire negotiations. Areas under the agreement’s jurisdiction are close to the Golan Heights.

A State Department official acknowledged that Israel was indeed consulted “at each step of this important process.” In a phone call with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday, Netanyahu reportedly expressed his concerns with the ceasefire and its consequences.

“We have stayed in close touch with Israel throughout this effort,” the official told the Post on Monday. “The secretary made clear that we are committed to pursuing an agreement that de-escalates violence and saves lives while also addressing the very real security concerns of Syria’s neighbors, including Israel. Those efforts and our intensive consultations with Israel will continue.”

Israeli diplomatic sources said that Iran is working to establish air, land and sea bases in Lebanon– a development which Jerusalem cannot tolerate. Their designs extend into southern Syria, Netanyahu asserted.

Jerusalem maintains that Iran is not only interested in sending military advisers to Syria, but also is keen on establishing ground and air bases there, something that could radically change the situation in the region. He said that Israel would oppose any agreement in Syria that enables Iranian backed Hezbollah presence there. (Jerusalem Post)

Former IDF General: Israel Will Use Force to Counter Iran, Hezbollah Build-Up in Syria

One of Israel’s most highly-regarded national security experts has warned Iran and its proxies — Hezbollah in Lebanon and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus — that the Jewish state will not hold back on using military force to counter Tehran’s growing presence in Syria.

Retired IDF Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror — who served as the national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and currently is a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University — said that if the Iranians continued exploiting the recent Syrian ceasefire negotiated by Russia and the US to boost their presence in the country, “that might lead the IDF to intervene and to destroy every attempt to build infrastructure in Syria.”

“We will not let the Iranians and Hezbollah to be the forces which will win from the long and very brutal war in Syria and to move the focus into Israel,” Amidror declared on Monday, speaking on a conference call organized by The Israel Project.

Amidror observed that even if Iran was unable to achieve its much-vaunted “land corridor” from Tehran to the Mediterranean coasts of Syria and Lebanon, an increased number of bases in Syria for both Iranian and Hezbollah forces would still represent a profound threat.

“Israel should prevent it whatever will be the price,” Amidror said, adding that he could not “see who will stop it.”

“If that is in the interest of Israel, we should strive to be sure that our interests will be kept,” he said.

Iran has already leased a military airfield from the Syrian government in the center of the country to station fighter aircraft, Ynet reported on Monday. Iran is also said to be negotiating with the Assad regime to establish a land base for Shia militiamen and a port in the city of Tartus.

“The establishment of an air and sea base and the attempt to permanently station 5,000 Shiite fighters on Syrian soil are not acceptable to us, and will have heavy consequences,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

“We will not accept it,” Lieberman explained during an interview with a Russian news outlet. “We insist that there be no trace of Iranian presence on Syrian soil, and we insist on this arrangement in every settlement.”

Lieberman’s comments followed a rare moment of discord between Netanyahu and the Trump administration over the ceasefire. On Sunday, Netanyahu, who was visiting Paris, telephoned US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to explain his opposition to the deal, based on its potential to expand Iran’s hostile activities in Syria. The Israeli prime minister is understood to have raised a number of objections with Tillerson, including Israel’s insistence that Iran and allied militias stay away from Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan, and its opposition to the stationing of Russian troops in those “safe zones” agreed under the deal that are close to Israel.

Amidror expressed understanding for the strategic thinking of both the US and Russia.

“For the Russians, to keep the continuation of the regime in Damascus which from their point of view is a strategic goal,” he said.  “The Americans goal is to destroy ISIS, and that was their strategic goal.”

But neither of these aims, he continued, offered much comfort to Israel.

“Israel should take care for its strategic goal and this is to prevent the Iranians and Hezbollah from building launching pads in Syria,” Amidror stated.   (the Algemeiner)

Israel says it will expand space for non-Orthodox prayer at Kotel despite freezing agreement

Israel’s government told the nation’s Supreme Court that it plans to expand and upgrade a space for non-Orthodox prayer at the southern section of the Western Wall near Robinson’s Arch.

The government made the declaration in documents submitted to the court in response to a petition filed by the non-Orthodox Jewish movements and the Women of the Wall group that calls on the state to create the permanent space for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall.

Haaretz reported that the government also asked the court to dismiss the case, since it has frozen an agreement that would have provided the permanent prayer space, equal access to the site from the Western Wall plaza and allowed the liberal groups to administer the area.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau already has allocated the more than $5 million needed to upgrade and improve the non-Orthodox prayer space, and said it will take 10 months to complete.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on July 30.

“We are not buying the substitute Kotel Agreement that the State is trying to sell to the Supreme Court,” Anat Hoffman, chairperson of Women of the Wall, said in a statement issued after the documents were filed.

“We hope that the Supreme Court will insist on our right to receive a prayer plaza in which we can pray according to our custom, whether by full implementation of the agreement, or by re-dividing the current prayer plaza into three sections: men’s, women’s and egalitarian.  (Jerusalem Post)

Ancient Roman amphitheater in Caesarea sold to foreign buyer

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Israel has secretly sold the ancient Roman amphitheater and hippodrome in the coastal city of Caesarea to an anonymous foreign buyer.

Some 172 acres of land, including a large chunk designated as a historic national park, were sold to the Saint Ventures Limited holding company, which is registered in the Caribbean, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.

Earlier this month, the church secretly sold about 123 acres of property in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Jerusalem to several private real estate developers.

The Greek Orthodox Church is one of the largest landowners in Israel, including 1,110 acres in Jerusalem that it acquired in the 19th century. The church leased the land to the Jewish National Fund in the early 1950s for a period of 99 years, with an option to extend the lease.

Israel’s Knesset building is built on such leased land, according to The Times of Israel.

King Herod established Caesarea about 2,000 years ago, and significant archaeological discoveries continue to be made there. The amphitheater is now in use as a concert venue; the port area has been turned into a tourist attraction. (JTA)

Maccabiah ends with spectacular ceremony

Filled with record-breaking performances, team spirit, and international Jewish unity, the 20th Maccabiah Games came to a satisfying end at the closing ceremony in Latrun on Monday night, entitled “Higher. Better. Together.”

Maccabiah 2017 began on July 4, with games preceding the opening ceremony on July 6.

While the Maccabiah participants enjoyed excelling in their respective sports, many agreed that the convivial environment and new friendships were the best part of their time in Israel. “The atmosphere was the most exciting thing for me,” said Felipe Zyman, who represented Brazil in judo.

Peter Berry of the USA , who won a bronze medal in wheelchair basketball, expressed his excitement for the closing ceremony before it commenced. “I’m just here to have a good time and meet new people,” he said.

Pre-ceremony, the athletes traded country apparel, collecting paraphernalia from as many teams as possible in commemoration of the international friendships they’ve made along their Maccabiah journeys.

They also enjoyed a variety of complimentary Kosher food prior to the event, from hummus and pita to Asian noodles.

Maren Angus, who won a gold medal as a player on the USA softball team, said the most special part of the Maccabiah Games has not been her success in the competition, but rather meeting so many fellow Jews. “I come from a really small town in Tennessee, so I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place with this many Jewish people in my life,” she admitted.

The ceremony began with the audience on its feet, as a group of young Israeli dancers came onstage to teach everyone a spirited routine to the Maccabiah theme song.

International supermodel Bar Refaeli was then welcomed to the stage as the celebrity MC for the evening. She expressed her pride in the Maccabiah Games and its representation of the Jewish people.

The 20th Maccabiah came to an end last night with a spectacular closing ceremony in Latrun.

After a speech by Natan Sheransky, chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency, who passionately told the audience, “We all will build our home together,” the crowd began to chant “am yisrael chai!” Hope for a strong Jewish homeland couldn’t have been more evident than when the crowd rose once again for the singing of Hatikvah.

“This is a wild celebration for the soul,” said Refaeli of the closing ceremony. The participants, hailing from 80 different countries, will leave on their flights back home tonight “bursting with adrenaline, but with a bit of Israel in [their] hearts.”

Israeli artists performed energetic renditions of international pop hits such as Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk,” complete with background dancers, a light show and fireworks.

“The Maccabiah is reaching higher and higher,” said President Reuven Rivlin in a video statement. His words matched the theme of the closing ceremony show.

Later in the evening, a video about former IDF soldier Ahiya, who was blinded in combat, played for the audience. Detailing his courage in battle and strength in rehabilitation, the video showed him getting back into the swimming pool and rock climbing. In this year’s Maccabiah Games, Ahiya won two gold medals as part of the Israeli Paralympic rowing team.

Ahiya then took the stage to a standing ovation along with his seeing eye dog. “I can’t see you, but I can feel our strength as the Jewish people, and when we are together, no one can ever stop us.”

After an impressive beatboxing performance by Josh of Orthobox, made famous by America’s Got Talent, a large cast broke out into song and dance to a vibrant, modern medley of popular Jewish songs such as “Oseh Shalom.”

“Take with you the excitement, the love, and especially the togetherness,” said Refaeli, encouraging the Maccabiah athletes to keep the Games and their time in the Holy Land with them always.

“Israel will be in your hearts and you will be in ours,” said Rivlin in a second video statement. To finish the ceremony with a bang, a spectacular fireworks display followed his words, sending the athletes of the 20th Maccabiah Games home in style. (Jerusalem Post)

Medal Table

Pos         Country                Gold      Silver     Bronz    TOTAL

1              Israel     115         101         102         318

2              USA       31           41           33           105

3              Australia              5              10           4              19

4              Ukraine                3              8              2              13

5              Canada 5              5              3              13

6              Great Britain      2              3              6              11

7              France  2              5              4              11

8              South Africa       6              1              3              10

9              Russia   1              1              8              10

10           Argentina            3              2              3              8

11           Hungary               2              4              2              8

12           Germany             3              0              4              7

13           Czech Republic  0              2              2              4

14           Mexico 1              1              2              4

15           Holland 2              1              1              4

16           Switzerland        1              1              1              3

17           Brazil     1              1              1              3

18           Poland  2              0              0              2

19           Italy       0              1              0              1

20           Kazakhstan         0              1              0              1

21           China     0              0              1              1

22           Slovenia               0              0              1              1

23           Venezuela          0              1              0              1

24           Lithuania              0              0              1              1

25           Spain     1              0              0              1

26           Ireland  0              0              1              1

27           Georgia                0              1              0              1

28           Sweden               0              0              0              0

29           Portugal               0              0              0              0

30           Uzbekistan         0              0              0              0

31           Serbia   0              0              0              0

32           Chile      0              0              0              0

33           Kyrgistan             0              0              0              0

34           Costa Rica            0              0              0              0

35           Vietnam               0              0              0              0

36           Belarus 0              0              0              0

37           Cuba      0              0              0              0

38           Slovakia                0              0              0              0

39           Belgium                0              0              0              0

40           Norway                0              0              0              0

41           Honduras            0              0              0              0

42           Colombia             0              0              0              0

43           Peru      0              0              0              0

44           Uruguay               0              0              0              0

45           Thailand               0              0              0              0

46           Gibraltar              0              0              0              0

47           Morocco              0              0              0              0

48           Paraguay             0              0              0              0

49           Greece 0              0              0              0

50           Finland 0              0              0              0

51           Guatemala          0              0              0              0

52           EMC       0              0              0              0

53           Jamaica 0              0              0              0

54           Hong Kong          0              0              0              0

55           Cayman Islands 0              0              0              0

56           India      0              0              0              0

6 reasons why Macron’s speech about the Holocaust in France was ground breaking

By Cnaan Liphshiz                         JTA

7 reasons why Macron’s speech about the Holocaust in France was groundbreaking

It wasn’t the first time that a French president acknowledged his nation’s Holocaust-era guilt, but Emmanuel Macron’s speech Sunday was nonetheless groundbreaking in format, content and style.

Delivered during a ceremony at the Vel d’Hiv Holocaust memorial monument exactly 75 years after French police officers rounded up 13,152 Jews there for deportation to Nazi death camps, the 35-minute address was Macron’s first about the Holocaust since the centrist won the presidency in May.

Evocative and more forthright than any of the speeches on the subject delivered by Macron’s predecessors, his address “relieved the feeling of isolation” experienced by many Jews due to anti-Semitism today, according to Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur of the Liberal Jewish movement in France.

Macron’s speech “made me proud to be French and Jewish,” she said.

Here are six significant ways that the address differed from those of previous French presidents, including in scope; the unusual role played at the event by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; its references to present realities, and Macron’s emotional delivery.

Monsieur le Premier Ministre

It was the first time that an Israeli head of state attended the annual commemoration for the Vel d’Hiv deportations of July 16-17, 1942, named after the Velodrome d’Hiver stadium that used to stand near the monument.

Netanyahu was invited despite objections on Muslim websites, by the Communist Party  and the party of the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon — although the invitation came from the CRIF federation of French Jewish communities and not by the Elysee Presidential Palace, as reported by some French media. The Elysee, which organized the event, did not object publicly to Netanyahu’s attendance and facilitated it.

The arrival of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in a motorcade whose limousines sported gold-fringed Israeli flags electrified the predominantly Jewish audience of 1,200 people. Holocaust survivors in their 80s and 90s approached the monument railing to catch a glimpse of the Israelis as others reacted with thunderous applause.

They oohed and applauded as Netanyahu delivered the first part of his speech in French, which he speaks with a thick accent and some errors, but understands without requiring translation. And they nodded as he urged Macron to stand with Israel and fight “the cancerous spread of militant Islam” and “hate that starts with the Jews but never ends there,” as Netanyahu defined it.

But their enthusiasm for Netanyahu was dwarfed by the deafening applause they gave Macron when he responded to Netanyahu.

Anti-Zionism and the reinvention of anti-Semitism

Addressing Netanyahu, Macron assured the Israeli leader and listeners that “we will continue our fight against terrorism and the worst kinds of fanaticism,” adding: “So yes, we will never surrender to the expressions of hatred; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”

Articulated in recent years by Manuel Valls, a former prime minister of France, Macron’s statement was the first time an incumbent president in France equated anti-Zionism – a fairly popular sentiment in France – with anti-Semitism. It triggered several emotional yelps from the audience and applause so vigorous, it caused the tarp strung up over the monument plaza for security reasons to vibrate.

There was another wave of applause when, unusually, Macron and Netanyahu hugged publicly after Netanyahu’s speech.

Deeper, farther

Much of Macron’s speech was devoted to establishing France’s complicity in the murder of 25 percent of its Jewish population during the Holocaust and deconstructing apologist views on the subject.

Speaking plainly and avoiding metaphors, Macron sounded less like a politician than a historian or a prosecutor who is committed to factual accuracy.

In the first admission of Holocaust culpability by a French president, Jacques Chirac in 1995 said that “Frenchmen, the French state assisted the criminal folly of the occupier,” resulting in a failure to uphold the nation’s values and an “irreparable crime.”

And Francois Hollande in 2012 said the roundups were a “crime committed in France, by France.”

But the Macron address delivered Sunday “was a precedent-setting speech that went deeper, on a pedagogic level, than addresses that preceded it by French presidents,” said Serge Klarsfeld, a historian and one of France’s leading researchers on the Holocaust.

Macron’s speech was the first presidential address that named individual collaborators who helped the Nazis kill Jews, including René Bousquet, a police chief who was indicted for planning the Vel d’Hiv roundups, but died in 1993 before his trial.

“France organized the roundups,” Macron said. “Not a single German participated.” And so France “in almost every aspect organized the death” of the victims.

More jarringly to many French ears, he said the collaborationist Vichy government “was not replaced overnight” by the free French government that succeeded it after the country’s liberation in World War II.

“Ministers, civil servants, police officers, economy officials, unions, teachers” from the Vichy government were all incorporated into the Third Republic that replaced it, Macron said.

By touching on France’s perceived failure to purge itself of collaborators and their legacy, Macron differentiated himself from all of France’s presidents after Francois Mitterrand. Klarsfeld praised Macron for pointing out how Mitterrand and postwar leader Charles de Gaulle “remained silent on the historical truth” about collaboration “in favor of appeasement and reconciliation.”

Macron said he “does not judge” his predecessors who remained silent on the issue.

During his speech, Macron said “It is very convenient to view Vichy as a monstrosity, born of nothing and returned to nothing.” But it is “false. We cannot base any pride on a lie.” Rather than weaken the French nation, as argued by National Front politicians, admitting its guilt “opened the path to correcting” its faults, Macron said.

Refuting revisionists

Speaking about the Vichy puppet government, Macron deconstructed the main revisionist talking points put forward by the French far right led by the National Front party under Marine Le Pen. In April, Le Pen argued that the government’s actions in World War II do not represent France as a nation.

“I reject the attempts to absolve one’s conscious by those who claim Vichy wasn’t France,” Macron said. No other French president had said this in these terms.

L’affaire Halimi

Responding to repeated pleas by French Jews – including at the Vel d’Hiv event during a speech by CRIF President Francis Kalifat – Macron for the first time commented on the death of Sarah Halimi.

Halimi, a 66-year-old physician, was killed by a Muslim neighbor, Kobili Traore, who shouted about Allah before he killed her. Halimi’s daughter said that Traore had called her a “dirty Jew.” Yet in what CRIF considers a “cover-up,” the indictment filed against Traore last week does not categorize the killing as a hate crime.

In his address, Netanyahu counted Halimi among other French Jews murdered in recent years by Islamists.

Macron replied: “Despite the denials of the murderer, the judiciary must as soon as possible provide maximum clarity on the death of Sarah Halimi.” Klarsfeld said it was a strong message that will “probably induce change” in how Traore is tried.


A rational and analytical thinker with a background in banking and economics, Macron surprised many of his listeners with the apparent intensity of his intonation and body language during the speech.

“Above all, the speech was special for his palpable emotion,” Horvilleur said.


Like many others Horvilleur, the Liberal rabbi, was “deeply moved” by Macron’s remarks at the end of his speech about how the children deported from Vel d’Hiv informs how he views his role as president.

Children “who wanted to go to school, graduate, find work, start a family, read, watch a show, learn and travel,” he said. “I want to tell those children that France has not forgotten them. That she loves them. That their tragic fate demands of us never to give up to hate, rancor or despair.”

The first medic to respond to the Temple Mount terror attack was Muslim. Here’s his story.

By Andrew Tobin                             JTA

The first medic to respond to the Temple Mount terror attack was Muslim. Here’s his story.

When Nedal Sader first heard the crackle of automatic weapon fire Friday morning, he couldn’t believe it was coming from the Temple Mount.

As a Muslim, he regarded the complex just outside his apartment as a sacred and peaceful place. He prayed there nearly every week.

But as a seasoned first responder, he knew what gunshots sounded like echoing off the stones of the Old City. He finished  dressing, threw on his medic’s jacket and raced to the scene.

Sader, a 37-year-old nurse and father of five, was the first medical professional to arrive at the Temple Mount following the attack in which two Israeli Druze police officers were shot dead. The three Arab-Israeli gunmen were then killed by police on the scene.

Amid the carnage at the politically and religiously fraught complex, Sader said he simply tried to save whomever he could.

“It doesn’t matter who the person is,”  said Sader, a Muslim volunteer with United Hatzalah, the Orthodox Jewish-run ambulance service. “Whoever needs help most gets help first.”

Sader joined the mostly haredi rescue service in 2012, soon after his father died of a heart attack while waiting for an ambulance. He said he hoped to improve emergency medical care in the Arab quarter of the Old City, which like other Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem has long suffered from lack of services. It is illegal for Jewish medics to enter Arab villages or neighborhoods without a police escort because of security concerns.

“I had to do something,” he said. “I didn’t want the same thing to happen to anyone else in my neighborhood or in Israel.”

United Hatzalah has about 300 Muslim, Druze and Christian volunteers EMTs, paramedics and doctors, who account for about 10 percent of the total, according to spokesman Raphael Poch. He said the organization began recruiting Muslims to serve their own neighborhoods about a decade ago.

“We formed the organization to respond in every community in Israel,” Poch said. “Because we’re community based, that means engaging Muslim volunteers.”

Sader said that in the past five years, he has responded to seven major Palestinian attacks in the Old City, often on a motor scooter provided by United Hatzalah. When responding to calls, Sader said, he leaves on his helmet and sometimes his sunglasses to avoid being identified as Arab. He also tries not to speak much.

“I don’t want to deal with being seen. Some Arabs might get upset. Some Jews might get upset,” he said. “I focus on helping people. That’s what’s important.”


Nedal Sader sitting on his United Hatzalah motor-scooter in the Old City of Jerusalem

After Friday’s attack, police officers on the Temple Mount saw Sader coming and urged him to treat their fallen comrades. But he had to wait for a moment until the attackers — later identified as cousins from northern Israel – were subdued.

The first casualty Sader came upon was one of the slain officers, whom he quickly determined was beyond help. Moving southward, he passed the bodies of two of the attackers and saw the third prone on the ground, surrounded by police. The officers directed him to the second fallen officer and, finding no pulse, he began CPR.

Soon thereafter, the subdued gunman leapt up and attacked the officers surrounding him with a knife — a moment that was caught on video. The resulting hail of police bullets, which killed the attacker, whizzed around Sader as he applied compression with the help of another officer. Still, he continued for about 15 minutes, until an ambulance arrived. But the officer was never revived.

When it comes to the tensions on the Temple Mount, Sader said both Arabs and Jews are to blame. The former site of the ancient Jewish temple is the holiest in Judaism. Meanwhile, two Arab prayer sites, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, make it among the most important places in Islam as well.

Since Israel captured the Temple Mount from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, the site has become a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some Jews, mostly from the Orthodox national religious community, never accepted Israel’s decision to keep the mount an exclusively Muslim prayer site after the war. Although Israel insists it has no plans to change the status quo, Palestinian suspicions to the contrary helped fuel the first and second intifadas, or uprisings, and the wave of stabbings and car-ramming attacks that started in October 2015.

Sader, who like most Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem has opted not to pursue Israeli citizenship, said violence is unacceptable in such a religious place. But as is common in the Arab world, he denied historic or religious claims by Jews to the mount and said he opposed allowing Jewish prayer and new security measures introduced since the attack.

He did seem to concede the Western Wall to the Jews.

“I respect the Kotel and other holy places, and I think people should respect our holy place,” he said, using the Hebrew term for the Western Wall.

On Friday night, Sader headed to his paid job. He worked a 24-hour shift in at the Terem medical clinic in the mostly haredi West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit. He said he respects religious Jews and their customs, and does not openly smoke or speak on his cellphone during his breaks on Shabbat, when Orthodox Jews eschew such activities.

Typically, Sader said, he can get some sleep on the Shabbat shift. But this time he found himself pacing the halls all night, even when there were no patients to care for.

“After a day like that, you can’t sleep,” he said. “But I’m OK now. We’re used to stuff like this. It wears off after a little while.”