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Yosef Kirmeh and Levana Melichi killed by Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem

Latest News in Israel – 10th October

Jerusalem terror: Two dead, six wounded after gunman fires from car before being shot by police

Two people were pronounced dead Sunday after a terrorist opened fire on Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, according to Israel Police. Six other people were wounded. The terrorist was neutralized following a brief police chase.

The attack took place next to police headquarters in Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill, not far from the light rail. The area has been closed off by police and light rail service stopped in the area.

Initially, a 60-year-old woman was listed in critical condition, while an officer from the Police special forces, was in serious condition. They were taken to  Hadassah University Medical Center on Mount Scopus, but succumbed to their wounds and died on Sunday afternoon, according to the head of Hadassah Medical Center, Prof. Ze’ev Rotstein. The families of the victims were notified.

According to an initial police investigation, a terrorist driving in a car came to a nearby junction, opened fire and hit a civilian. The suspect fled the scene, driving in the direction of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Police motorcycle forces chased after the suspect’s vehicle, stopping him in Sheikh Jarrah. When the terrorist saw the officers, he opened fire in their direction. The officers shot back at the suspect, successfully neutralizing him.

Three others were in moderate condition following the attack. One was taken to Hadassah University Medical Center on Mount Scopus, the second was taken to Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem while a third was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

An additional three people were lightly wounded, with two of them going to Shaare Zedek and one going to Hadassah’s campus on Mount Scopus.

Hamas praised the “heroic Jerusalem operation” and said it considers the attack a “natural response to the occupation’s crimes and violations at the expense of our people and holy sites.”

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that the operation is “confirmation of the continuation of the intifada.” He added that adding that all the “occupation’s” attempts to break and liquidate it will fail.                       (Jerusalem Post)

Jerusalem terrorist attack leaves trail of death and destruction

As a police helicopter hovered above, dozens of plainclothes and uniformed officers cordoned off the area surrounding the small, white, bullet-riddled car that a terrorist drove during two shooting attacks within a one-mile radius, leaving two dead and many wounded.

A forensics and bomb-disposal team carefully surveyed the area for explosives and evidence, as Arab children as young as five anxiously watched the scene unfold behind police lines, where journalists aggressively jockeyed for position to film the carnage.

The terrorist died during a gunfight with two Special Patrol officers who pursued him on a motorcycle into the capital’s Sheik Jarrah neighborhood, but not before shooting them both, as well as an unidentified woman caught in the crossfire.

One of the officers, Advanced Staff Sgt. Major Yosef Kirma, 29, died an hour after being shot in the head at close range. He was buried on Mount Herzl approximately five hours later at a ceremony attended by his wife, parents, two brothers, and hundreds of officers.

His unidentified partner sustained a gun wound to his leg. He is expected to recover.

The officers gave chase moments after the 39-year-old terrorist shot and killed a 60-year-old woman named Levana Malichi, near the Ammunition Hill light rail stop, across from Police headquarters. An unidentified man standing near her was also shot, but not fatally.

An empty nearby silver SUV with its windows shot out, remained in the middle of one of the capital’s busiest thoroughfares, which police blocked off in both directions. Yeshiva students and other Israelis looked on behind police lines from the sidewalk.

Light rail service was temporarily suspended, as heavy morning traffic was redirected.

Less than a mile away, amid a trash-strewn intersection in Sheik Jarrah, two officers mounted on horseback kept watch to ensure the growing Arab crowd remained civil. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan arrived soon after to hold a press conference.

Details of the lone-wolf attack could not be divulged due to a gag order and ongoing investigation, he said, although Erdan conceded that incitement on social media may have inspired the killer, who was previously arrested for incitement.

“It has an impact,” he said. “It pushes people out to the streets to commit acts of murder and terror.”

Still, he assured the public that thousands of officers are actively patrolling the city during the High Holy Days to prevent, or respond to, any other attacks.

A few minutes after Erdan left the scene in a government SUV manned with security personnel, Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich arrived to hold a press conference of his own.

“The people of Jerusalem are strong and well-versed in dealing with attacks like this,” he assured reporters. “They know how to return to normal.”

Yom Kippur would begin soon, Alsheich added, and then Succot. People should not change their daily lives, he said.

Moments later, as the terrorist’s car was finally towed away, and a green municipal street-cleaning truck swept away its remaining shattered glass, a blind elderly Arab man with a white cane sat at a nearby bus stop, nervously fingering prayer beads, as reporters left the scene.  (Jerusalem Post)

Defense minister: We’re not looking for adventures in Gaza

Israel is “not seeking any adventures,” and “no one is pushing for escalation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” but the state is determined to protect the safety of its citizens, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday in response to the intermittent rocket fire against Israel.

On Thursday, a mortar landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, a day after a rocket struck a residential street in the southern city of Sderot.

Speaking at a ceremony for outstanding IDF officers and non-commissioned officers at Palmach House in Tel Aviv, Lieberman said that when it comes to defending the citizens of Israel, there would be “no compromise.”

“Any fire from the Gaza Strip toward sovereign Israeli territory will be met with a forceful response,” the defense minister said.

“Hamas wields an iron hand in Gaza, and when it wants something or to prevent something, it knows how to do so. So even when it comes to the various ‘rogue’ [terrorist] organizations, they should try harder. I say again, we have no intention of initiating any military campaign. However, we will not accept any [rocket] fire, any provocation, against the citizens of Israel by whoever it might be, or any attack on Israel’s sovereignty. Not rocket fire, and not a flotilla,” Lieberman said.

However, residents of the south took little comfort in the defense minister’s words.

“The truth is, we’re really sick of this situation,” said Sderot resident Rachel Barsheshet.

“We don’t want any escalation and we don’t want them shooting at us, or us shooting at them,” she added.

“We’re in the midst of the High Holidays and the random shooting by factions in the Gaza Strip who oppose Hamas rule by shooting at us really stresses us out. We would want this all to stop because there’s really no reason to shoot at us, but if it does happen, I have 100% faith that the IDF will know how to counter any threat,” Barsheshet said.

Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni added that “we aren’t willing to go back to a routine of rocket fire from Gaza. We trust the political echelon and the security forces to take whatever action is needed to maintain the calm and the security of the residents. We are in contact with security officials, and haven’t received any changes to the defense instructions. We’re going on with our lives as usual.”

On Wednesday, the IDF upped the intensity of its retaliatory strikes in Gaza after the rocket hit on Sderot. The military initially responded with tank fire, but on Wednesday afternoon hit a series of Hamas infrastructure targets in an unusually broad spate of airstrikes, which were reminiscent of the airstrike tactics employed against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip in August, when the military struck two strategic Hamas targets.

The recent series of strikes indicates that Israel is trying to change the rules of the game by abandoning the relatively limited responses to intermittent rocket fire on Israeli communities. However, the Israeli Air Force is still holding itself in check, and no one in Gaza was wounded in the airstrikes.

A Salafi group in Gaza claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket attack on Sderot. The Israeli security establishment believes that Hamas is not seeking an open conflict with Israel, and is even arresting Salafists who are trying to provoke Israel.  (Israel Hayom )

Hamas understands that Israel has changed the rules of the game

Another round of blows between Israel and Gaza has been concluded successfully. The success can be found in the fact that both sides contained the events and they did not escalate the situation beyond control, which could have led them to the brink of a new war.

This is an achievement given that we are 26 months after the previous Gaza war and the quiet is being kept, more or less. What’s more important is that the behavior of both sides makes it clear that they are not interested in another round of violence.

This is clear based on Thursday’s events, which were actually a response to Wednesday’s events. A rocket was fired at Sderot and hit a street, miraculously failing to wound anyone or cause damage to homes.

The rocket was fired by a salafi-jihadist group that represents ISIS in Gaza. It is the same organization that has fired all of the rockets in recent months. The group’s goal is provocation – to cause great harm to people and property in Israel, in order to draw an aggressive response which will drag both sides into war. The jihadists hope that Israel’s blows will bring about the collapse of Hamas rule in Gaza. Both sides are aware of this and are acting to prevent the escalation.

Israel’s response to the firing of the rocket was two-fold. First of all, the IDF directed tank fire at Hamas positions. This was a routine response of the type we have seen in the last two years, which is based on Israel’s doctrinal position. Israel sees Hamas as the sovereign power in Gaza and therefore as the party that is responsible for what goes on there.

However, contained in Israel’s response was another basic principle. It stems from a decision by the political and military echelon to take advantage of every such rocket launch to hit strategically important Hamas targets. Therefore, the IAF struck in Gaza, dropping a sizeable number of bombs. This is the second instance in which this has happened.

Hamas understands that Israel is changing the rules of the game from what they were up until about two months ago.

On the one hand, Hamas cannot allow Israel to implement a strategy that gives it the upper hand. On the other hand, the group understands that it is in a difficult political situation (internationally isolated), and that from a military standpoint, it has still not recovered and regained its capabilities in two areas: rockets and tunnels.

Therefore, the organization is showing restraint and issuing the obligatory threats, which as of now it cannot back up, and minor responses. That is what happened on Thursday. A rocket was fired at open territory in order to send a message, but not to take the chance that it would do harm.

Israel contented itself with sending a message of its own. The IDF responded to the rocket with tank fire alone, not deploying IAF aircraft to hit strategic targets. This was a clear signal to Hamas that, as far as Israel is concerned, this week’s round is over – until the next time.    (Jerusalem Post)

Danon welcomes selection of former Portugal PM as new UN chief    

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon welcomed on Wednesday the selection of former prime minister of Portugal Antonio Guterres as the next Secretary General of the UN.

Guterres is poised to replace Ban Ki-Moon as the next United Nations Secretary-General in January 2017. The Security Council is expected to formally recommend him to the 193-member General Assembly for election on Thursday.

Danon wished Guterres luck in his new position and said that “the State of Israel hopes, and expects, that the UN under his leadership will act in the spirit of its founding principles as a fair body able to differentiate between good and evil and will end its obsession with Israel.”

“I hope that this change in leadership will bring an end to the organization’s hostility towards the Jewish state,” he continued.

In his congratulatory statement, Danon also encouraged the Guterres to appoint a special envoy to combat anti semitism, and to accept. On behalf of the United Nations, responsibility for ensuring the return of the remains of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul held by Hamas, to Israel.

As the new Secretary General takes office, a number of organizational personnel changes are expected to follow.

Antonio Guterres was the socialist prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. He also has experience serving at the UN as he was the International body’s High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years, from June 2005 to December 2015.

The Security Council has been holding informal secret ballots since July in a bid to reach consensus on a candidate. Guterres has come out on top of all the polls.

The Security Council, presided this month by Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, will adopt a resolution, traditionally behind closed doors, recommending that the General Assembly appoint Guterres for a five-year term.  The resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes to pass.

Thirteen people were nominated in the race to become the next UN chief.                 (Jerusalem Post)

Senior official: US rebuke over Shiloh ‘alibi’ for policy change

A senior government official has called U.S. condemnation of the construction permits issued for some 100 apartments next to Shiloh, “disproportionate,” saying it is meant to serve as a “cover” and an “alibi” for U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to change American policy and to present a diplomatic plan, according to a report by Channel 2 News.

The new apartments will be used to provide homes for the residents of the outpost of Amona, which is under demolition order.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the planned construction “a setback” to the efforts to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the White House strongly condemns the construction, which he said amounted to the creation of a new settlement.

Along with the unnamed Israeli official, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett called the condemnation “a disproportionate response.”

“It’s strange that while children are being massacred in Syria, the administration is concerned with building permits for a few apartments in Israel,” he said.

While the Prime Minister’s Office did not officially comment on the U.S. rebuke, the Foreign Ministry, which is currently headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did release a statement following the U.S. condemnation.

According to the statement, “The 98 housing units approved in Shiloh do not constitute a ‘new settlement.’ This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shiloh and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint. The units are intended to provide a housing solution for the residents of Amona who must leave their homes in accordance with the demolition order issued by Israel’s High Court of Justice.”

The Foreign Ministry further said that “Israel remains committed to a solution of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. The real obstacle to peace is not the settlements — a final status issue that can and must be resolved in negotiations between the parties — but the persistent Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state in any boundaries.”     (Israel Hayom)

Israel detains female pro-Palestine activist boat captained by Hobart woman

(ABC News on “this ship of fools” as described by Dr. Paul Moon, Professor of History at Auckland University of Technology )

The Israeli military say their navy has detained a boat bound for Gaza, captained by a woman from Hobart carrying pro-Palestine women activists.

Activist organisation Freedom Flotilla Coalition said the boat was seized in international waters, making this an act of piracy.

The group is calling for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.

“At 15:58 (CEST) on October 5, we lost contact again with the Zaytouna-Oliva and presume that the Israeli Occupation Navy has surrounded it in International Waters and has forced it off its course to Gaza,” the organisation said in an update on their website.

Hobart woman Madeleine Habib, the captain of the Zaytouna-Oliva flotilla, is one of 13 female pro-Palestinian campaigners who have been detained.

The Israeli military said the navy escorted the boat to Ashdod port early on Thursday.

The Women’s Boat To Gaza mission ­ coordinated by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition ­ described the incident as “kidnapping” on their Twitter page.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition released an “in case of capture” video on YouTube shortly after the alleged kidnapping.

“If you’re seeing this video, it’s because I’ve been captured in international waters by Israeli forces,” said Ms Habib in the video.

“I urge you to contact the Australian Government, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and request my immediate release.”

The boat was en route to the Gaza Strip and was trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of the territory.

DFAT yet to confirm ‘kidnapping’

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is “seeking to confirm reports that an Australian woman has been detained by Israeli authorities”, a spokesperson said.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam called on the Australian Government to appeal for the release of the women.

“I understand a NZ Greens MP was on board and an Australian citizen was actually the skipper,” he said.

“It’s an international crew, the boat was intercepted in international waters so we’re calling on our Foreign Minister to urgently establish the safety and wellbeing of the crew of that vessel and they should be allowed to go on their way.

“The Australian Government must step up in support of these peaceful campaigners who have put their safety at risk to bring attention to the untenable situation on the Gaza strip.”

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition said that other women on the Zaytouna-Oliva include 1976 Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire and retired US army colonel Ann Wright.

The Zaytouna-Oliva is part of the Women’s Boat to Gaza mission ­ one member of a coalition of pro-Palestinian groups mostly based in Europe.

The coalition has sent several aid boats bound for Gaza, but the last one successfully reached Gaza in 2008.

In 2010, Israel raided a Turkish-led flotilla bound for Gaza, killing 10 Turks.

Members of Gaza flotilla detained and issued deportation notices

Eleven of the 13 women who were aboard the Zaytouna-Olivia all-female Gaza-bound protest boat were sent to Givon Prison and issued deportation orders on Wednesday, while two Al Jazeera journalists were deported immediately.

The Zaytouna-Olivia, which set sail from Barcelona in September, was seized by the Israeli Navy around 35 nautical miles off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening and towed to Ashdod Port without incident, the IDF said on Wednesday. There were no injuries in the operation. The two journalists deported were Mina Harballou and Khadija Benguena.

Muna Haddad, a lawyer with the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is representing four of the 11 women, including Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire. According to Haddad, the detention and deportation orders are illegal.

“The woman were part of a humanitarian journey to help deal with the difficulties the people and women of Gaza face,” she said. “The Israeli military illegally forced the boat arrive into Israel 35 nautical miles [from the coast], outside the zone that the IDF has declared for its blockade.” The other seven women are being represented by Attorney Gabi Lasky.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon reiterated to The Jerusalem Post the Israeli stance that the seizure of Gazabound protest vessels is legal if there is “a clear intention to breach the blockade.”

Haddad said the women are requesting to be immediately returned to their countries of origin and are protesting their detentions as illegal. They also object to an Israeli ban on the women from entering Israel for 10 years.

Yehudit Ilani, a spokeswoman for MK Haneen Zoabi, was on the protest boat for about a week, but left it in September.

Ilani said the boat was a peaceful mission to focus international attention on the Gaza blockade and the humanitarian situation in the Strip. “There was a huge amount of attention and [the intention was] to hear the voices of the people of Gaza, especially the women of Gaza. We are making sure that Gaza stays in the world’s focus,” stated Ilani, who does not represent Zoabi in her affiliation with the protest.

Zoabi was on the Mavi Marmara protest ship in 2010, when Israel Navy commandos landed on the ship, were attacked, and killed nine Turkish attackers. A 10th died three years later from his injuries.

The Israel Navy sent both female and male combat personnel to commandeer the protest boat. In a statement on Wednesday, the IDF said “the takeover process was short and without casualties.”

Ilani said IDF measures to treat the protesters humanely, including the use of female personnel, would have no great affect on the protest movement.

“It doesn’t matter, even if the IDF came with truck loads of flowers – the very act [of taking over the boat] is illegal,” she stated.   (Jerusalem Post)

The Gaza Tunnels Get Too Much Attention

By Efraim Inbar               Begin-Sadat Center   (BESA)


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The threat to Israel of terror attack tunnels from Gaza is exaggerated. Thus the Israel Ministry of Defense’s plan to build a very expensive subterranean wall around the Gaza Strip, reaching a depth of dozens of meters, makes no strategic sense. It is a waste of money and effort, and hands Hamas a public relations victory.

The attack tunnels dug by the Hamas from Gaza into Israel are great for the public relations of terrorists. They make for a deeply unsettling image that intensifies the threat perception among Israelis. Terrorists want to be feared and the tunnels seem to achieve that goal, despite their limited destructive potential.

In January 2016, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot played into the hands of the Hamas terrorists by saying that countering the tunnel threat was the army’s “number one mission this year.” Eisenkot’s statement showed that he prioritized the tunnel threat over Hezbollah’s growing rocket capability to Israel’s north or the threat from IS in the Sinai. Moreover, he belittled the serious nuclear threat from Iran.

Similarly, Education Minister Naftali Bennett gave in to the popular mood and exaggerated the threat of the Hamas tunnels. He accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of leaving the cabinet in the dark about the grave danger of the tunnels until after Operation Protective Edge had begun. A leaked draft of a report by the State Comptroller also criticized Netanyahu, then-Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Yaalon and then-IDF CoS Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz for failing to anticipate the Hamas tunnel threat.

In any case, in the summer of 2014, Israel went on a ground attack to destroy tunnels that crossed into Israeli territory. Heavy fighting ensued, particularly in Shujaiyeh, a neighborhood of Gaza City. Forty-one Israeli soldiers were killed and many more injured during the ground phase, which ended after 32 tunnels were destroyed.

Following the development of the Iron Dome system, which has largely neutralized the rocket threat from Gaza, tunnels became an important tool in the Hamas arsenal. They are a low-tech challenge and quite difficult to handle. So far, Israeli efforts to develop technologies to locate tunnels have achieved only partial success.

Yet the tunnels’ potential ability to cause significant damage to Israel is itself limited. True, they enable terrorist attacks and/or the hijacking of dead or alive Israelis. While Israeli inhabitants around Gaza are most directly affected and obviously the most concerned, this type of threat, while undoubtedly disturbing, is not new.

Acts of terrorism have always been considered by the national security establishment as secondary to dangers that affect Israel’s territorial integrity or threaten its very existence. The tunnels cannot threaten strategic targets within Israel, such as power stations or airports, as Hamas missiles have done in the past. Investing in defense against missiles is important; spending money to negate the effects of tunnels is much less so. Limited resources dictate that spending be prioritized in accordance with the relative magnitude of the threats to be faced.

Nevertheless, the defense establishment, prodded by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is planning a giant project – a 60-kilometer wall around the Gaza Strip that will reach a depth of dozens of meters. Initially, a trial section will be erected at a cost of 600 million shekels ($158 million). This “Maginot Line” around Gaza, if completed, could become one of the most expensive projects in Israel’s history.

The high priority allocated by Israel to the problem of the tunnels is totally unjustified. First, it is not clear that the planned Gaza Wall would be effective in preventing Hamas underground projects. Concrete walls can be penetrated, as bank robbers have shown. Israel should not underestimate the ingenuity of the engineers employed by Hamas.

Second, this ambitious project diverts resources from financing more important needs of the IDF. One very pertinent example is the neglect of ground forces due to financial considerations. Beefing up ground forces is an imperative in dealing with the looming threats of accurate missiles and a number of other serious contingencies.

Third, the tremendous effort to handle the tunnel threat unnecessarily magnifies the power of the enemy to harm Israel. The mammoth wall project is a public relations gift for Hamas. Moreover, its timing is problematic, as there are signs that Hamas is getting tired. The rounds of violence have taken their toll on Gaza. It looks as though Israel’s “mowing the grass” strategy, and the growing regional isolation of Hamas, may have created a modicum of deterrence. Hamas seems reluctant to initiate hostilities.

The project to build a wall around Gaza appears to be motivated by domestic politics. It is intended to calm the understandable concerns of the inhabitants of the southern region with regard to the tunnel threat. It enables the government to relieve the constant political pressure by stating that it is “doing everything possible” to find a solution. It is, however, a wasteful populist response.

Above all, it makes no strategic sense.

How France’s Failure to Confront Anti-Semitism Led to Its Failure to Stop Terrorism

Allegedly there is no anti-Semitism in France ­only Jewish “communalism.”

by    Shmuel Trigano                  Mosaic Magazine

Shmuel Trigano, a professor of sociology emeritus at Paris University, is the author of 24 books, including French Jews: Fifteen Years of Solitude (2015). In 2001 he created the bulletin Survey of the Jewish World and the journal Controverses to document and publicize the rise of anti-Semitic violence in France.


Listening to French politicians, journalists, and intellectuals responding to the seafront massacre in Nice in mid-July of this year, or to the murder two weeks later of a priest in the village of Saint Etienne du Rouvray, one could not escape a feeling of déjà vu. By now, official France has developed a carefully scripted ritual for reacting to such Islamist attacks. Prior to this past summer’s events, the script was most conspicuously deployed in the wake of the killings at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, and before that on the occasion of a jihadist spree in Toulouse in 2012; but its use can be traced back much farther in time.

The ritual opens with an outpouring of compassion for the victims, as public officials, stunned by the horror of the event, appear too deeply engulfed in emotion to process its significance or formulate what might be done about preventing its recurrence. This is followed rapidly, almost reflexively, by a choreographed rite of “no-linkage,” whereby politicians assure the public that the latest bloodshed “has nothing to do with Islam.” With a barrier thus erected to any rational consideration of the killers’ self-professed motives, it is but a short step to the third phase: solemn warnings against the dangers of “Islamophobia,” itself a concept mobilized solely for its utility in a larger strategy of evasion.

The object of this strategy, which derives much of its moral force from an implicit parallel with the socially sanctioned French struggle against all forms of racism, is to foreclose any ideological or political debate about Islam. The term “Islamophobia” itself­meaning fear of a religion rather than fear of murderers who invoke or otherwise identify themselves with that religion­is meant to imply that anyone engaged in criticism of Islam or its proponents is by definition suffering from a psychiatric disorder. And this gives the game away: would an atheist’s critique of Christianity or of Judaism be described as a phobia? The question answers itself. By means of this term, one religion, and only one, is singled out for official protection.

Refusing to name the enemy­always “terrorism,” never jihadism­declining to condemn it or rally citizens to join the fight against it, officials smartly move on to the only possible conclusion: “we have to learn to live with terrorism.” Surrendering to what is supposedly an impregnable fact of nature, the government masks its supine posture with empty slogans of social solidarity: “We stand together!” “Disunity is what [ISIS] hopes for!” “Let us remain united!”

By now, however, the ritual, though still embraced by French elites, has become entirely ineffective. Each successive attack has served to confirm the public’s deepening anger over the government’s failure to confront the threat and restore security. Addressing the public after the slaughter in Nice, French leaders were met by taunts and catcalls. And little wonder: at present, counterterrorism efforts amount to putting a bandage on a wooden leg.

The flaw,as I say, goes back a long way, and its etiology is worth exploring. Today’s failures exist on a continuum that stretches back to the dawn of the 21st century, and specifically to the persistent and blatantly anti-Semitic attacks that began to proliferate at that time. The years between 2000 and 2002 witnessed 500 such incidents of anti-Jewish violence. All were greeted by a total blackout on the part both of government authorities and of the media­as also, it pains one to record, on the part of compliant Jewish institutions. So as not to admit that the actors almost uniformly were Muslims of African origin, facts were concealed or distorted, and the perpetrators’ clearly anti-Semitic motives were hidden behind a veil of euphemisms.

There ensued a decade and more of downplaying or ignoring anti-Semitic violence, an exercise that afforded its practitioners much experience in the art of denying the realities of jihadism and thereby contributing to the current confusion. Daniel Vaillant, who served as minister of the interior from 1995 to 2014, would later admit that the administration of then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (1997-2002) had explicitly ordered the blackout so as not to “add fuel to the fire.” This shameful cover-up would have serious implications for France and French democracy. In effect, France sacrificed its Jewish citizens on the altar of “public order” and the ideal of vivre ensemble (living together)­a slogan constantly tossed about by the government. But as one group of citizens (an element of the Muslim community) continued to act violently toward another (Jews), public order was not in fact maintained. Vivre ensemble meant instead, that one group, a kind of scapegoat, could be attacked by members of another group with impunity.

Inevitably, as the years went by and reports of the attacks began to be circulated more openly, theories were advanced to “explain” the anti-Semitism by reference to social or psychological factors affecting the Muslim immigrant population. Cited among the social factors were poverty, unemployment, and “social apartheid” (a phrase later used by Prime Minister Manuel Valls); among the purported psychological factors were Arab “humiliation” (supposedly an effect of colonialism) and garden-variety mental illness­anything but religiously motivated hatred of Jews. To the extent that anti-Semitism was acknowledged at all, blame was placed squarely on the shoulders of the extreme right, despite the fact that the right had been totally uninvolved in any of the attacks. Even today these so-called explanations, which vaguely indict French society but implicitly exonerate the attackers, have not lost their appeal to French politicians, despite their waning plausibility to voters.

Worse yet, it became convenient to blame the problem on Israel, and thus by extension on French Jews themselves. The more the Islamic nature of the attacks was suppressed, the more Israel and “Zionism” were brought forward for ritual indictment. Jospin’s foreign minister, Hubert Védrines, went so far as to declare that, in the light of “what was going on” in the Middle East, he “understood” why the “youngsters of the suburbs” attacked their Jewish fellow citizens. Such statement paved the way for a political alliance to be formed between Islamists and (mainly) leftist foes of Israel. The media, led by Agence France-Presse (AFP), cooperated by presenting a systematically distorted version of the Palestinian jihad against the Jewish state.

In its turn, the “respectability” of anti-Zionism gave respectability to plain anti-Semitism. An early move in this direction was the coinage of the term “intercommunity conflict,” as if the victims of jihadism were at least equally as culpable as their persecutors, and as if the problem was not France’s to resolve but theirs. The introduction of the Israel-Palestinian issue into the equation then tipped the moral scale in favor of the perpetrators. The “two communities” (a pointed expression introduced earlier by President François Mitterrand) continued to be lumped together, but one of them was now, as it were, innocent by association with a just cause, the other guilty by association with an unjust one. When Jews had the temerity to insist on naming the religion or ethnicity of their attackers, they were called “racist” or, worse yet, communautariste. Literally meaning “communalist,” the term refers to those who place their own ethnic, religious, or social community above the well-being of the republic as a whole­one of the harshest adverse judgments in French political discourse.

Thus were the victims informed that they were not victims. In the meantime, the government, instead of cracking down on violence and restoring order to the immigrant neighborhoods, opted for a policy of “conciliation” and “pacification.” Toward this end it decided to orchestrate a “dialogue of religions,” as if all religions were at war and it was somehow up to them to make peace among themselves. Politicians, and soon thereafter the educational system, began to hold up, as a model for present-day France, a mythic version of medieval Spain where Jews, Christians, and Muslims allegedly lived together in harmony (under Muslim political domination, naturally).

All this was equivalent to acknowledging the defeat of the state­whose most basic responsibility was to prevent a Hobbesian war of all against all­and the abandonment of the French republican ideal whereby all are guaranteed the rights of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Instead, the Jews, their synagogues and communal institutions placed behind police barriers for their protection, were symbolically deprived of those rights and isolated from the rest of French society.

Two events shattered the strategy of denial and utter irresponsibility.

On March 11, 2012, Mohammed Merah, born in France to an Algerian family, shot and killed a French Muslim paratrooper in Toulouse. Four days later, he killed two more Muslim soldiers in uniform. After another four days, he killed three Jewish children and a rabbi at the Ozar HaTorah school before dying in a shootout with police. It was only then, when the media discovered that a Frenchman (journalists repeatedly referred to him as the “Frenchman Merah”), without any personal connection to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, could become a murderer of Jews and a murderer of French soldiers that France began to accept, with professions of astonishment, that it had a problem.

But the response was another dodge. The fact that Muslim soldiers had been among Merah’s victims licensed official condemnations of Islamism, which, however, was still fastidiously cordoned off from Islam­this, despite the explicit ruling of the Islamic theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi that the death of Muslims could accompany the murder of non-Muslims should a “martyr” consider this necessary for the success of an operation. (The same justification would be invoked this past summer in connection with the wholesale massacre in Nice.) At a “spontaneous” demonstration in Paris in the wake of Toulouse, marchers again reviled the right-wing and chauvinistic National Front­the least responsible party.

The second event, and the one that more truly alerted French society to the danger within, was the January 2015 mass murder atCharlie Hebdo, followed two days later by the killing of four shoppers at a kosher supermarket. Without the first set of murders, those at the kosher market would certainly have been consigned to the “Jewish” box and not regarded as presenting an issue affecting France as a whole. Now it was becoming clearer that all of society was threatened.

Still, this realization hardly led to greater sympathy for Israel (or, by extension, for French Jews) or even to a better understanding of the threat to France. In this respect, the AFP’s habitual differentiation of the two cases was (and remains) illuminating. A terrorist who killed Israeli Jews­in the lingo of the French media, the latter were always “settlers”­ was thereby exculpated. The terrorist who killed Frenchmen was condemned, although barely and even then with no mention of his jihadist motives.

The Charlie Hebdo wakeup call thus proved of brief duration. To this day, government obfuscation continues, and so does the media’s complicity in it. Following the July massacre in Nice, a lengthy cover story in the left-wing daily Libération­dramatically entitled “Why?”­tried to make sense of a situation that the paper’s authors and editors themselves had helped to create. Among the paper’s other excrescences over the years, three whole pages of newsprint were devoted to lauding The Anti-Semitic Temptation, a book by the sociologist Michel Wieviorka that maintained, supposedly on the basis of thorough investigation, that there was no anti-Semitism per se in France, only Jewish “communalism,” which had understandably provoked the inhabitants of the “working-class [read: Muslim-immigrant] suburbs.”

In sum,France’s flaccid and morally retrograde response to the emergence of the “new” anti-Semitism in the early 2000s does not merely form a backstory to the escalating violence that was to come; it was a causal factor in that violence. It taught the terrorists that they could develop their networks and carry out their attacks with almost total impunity. This in turn encouraged them to take on ever more ambitious targets and shift from attacking only Jews to attacking soldiers, cartoonists, and eventually, as at the Bataclan theater in Paris and more recently in Nice, crowds at public events. By covering up the reality of anti-Jewish violence, by blaming it on the far right or on the Jews themselves, and by symbolically separating Jews from society, the French government and media only confirmed the message: nothing to worry about here. Most perniciously, by accepting and propagating the anti-Zionist argument, they helped bring Islamism into the mainstream.

The results can be seen today in leaders who now appear to believe their own politically correct rationalizations. While the murderers and their inciters continue to speak of themselves as soldiers in a religious and civilizational war against the West, their designated targets speak foggily in terms of abstractions like “radicalization,” “terrorism,” or even “barbarity,” and then incoherently proclaim that “life must go on” as if there were nothing seriously amiss. No wonder the public is by turns bewildered, apathetic, frightened, and angry. The average Frenchman may have no real or deep understanding of what has brought his society to this pass, but he has certainly learned what attentive Jews have known for a decade and more: the French governing class is incapable of confronting the problem at hand and appears to be sinking slowly into morbidity.

The recent ban on the burkini is a perfect synecdoche for official France’s ineptitude and incapacity to name things as they are. Fixated on the little things, the pawns on the board­or on the beach ­politicians, intellectuals, and media personalities avert their eyes from the chess masters’ progress toward their goals. The novelist Michel Houellebecq pithily summed up the situation in his latest book, Submission, by placing the following words in the mouth of his hero, whose Jewish girlfriend is leaving for Israel in the face of the Islamist advance: “There is no Israel for me: a rather poor thought, but an exact thought.”

Palestinians: Abbas “The Jew”

by Khaled Abu Toameh               The Gatestone Institute


The unprecedented outcry over Abbas’s participation in the funeral of an Israeli leader is further proof of the degree to which Palestinians have been radicalized.

This is what happens when you unleash a tidal wave of hate against Israel and its leaders in the media, mosques and public rhetoric. In light of this brainwashing, how do you expect your people to respond when you, in any way, associate with an Israeli leader?

If attending the funeral of an Israeli leader, especially one who devoted the past two decades of his life to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, draws such condemnation, it is easy to imagine the result of a Palestinian leader making a peace overture to Israel.

Even if the current condemnation eventually dies down, it will have sent a message to future Palestinian leaders: “No peace with Israel, not in our time, and not in any time.”

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is facing a barrage of criticism for attending the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. The fury directed towards Abbas comes as no surprise to those who are familiar with the unrelenting campaign of anti-Israel incitement that has been taking place for many years in Palestinian society.

If attending the funeral of an Israeli leader, especially one who devoted the past two decades of his life to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, draws such condemnation, it is easy to imagine the result of a Palestinian leader making a peace overture to Israel.

President Abbas is now receiving a dose of his own medicine. This is what happens when you unleash a tidal wave of hate against Israel and its leaders in the media, mosques and public rhetoric. This is what happens when you inform your people that Israeli leaders are “war criminals” who ought to be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court. This is what happens when you drive into your people that Jews are desecrating with their “filthy feet” Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. This is what happens when you accuse Israel of “ethnic cleansing”, “extra-judicial executions” and “poisoning” Yasser Arafat.

In light of this brainwashing, how do you expect your people to respond when you, in any way, associate with an Israeli leader?

It is hard to believe that Abbas and his cronies were surprised by the current wave of reprobation. But the degree of vitriol was perhaps not predicted.

Abbas is now getting it from all quarters. The denunciations are coming not only from his political foes in Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), but also from groups and figures belonging to his ruling Fatah faction.

Palestinians say that the 81-year-old Abbas, who is now in his 11th year of his four-year term in office, is facing his most serious challenge to leadership. And there are no signs that the recriminations are subsiding. On the contrary, each day brings with it yet another flood of reproof, prompting Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah to issue a stiff warning to those who are exploiting the situation to “incite” against Abbas. However, the threats have failed to deter his critics from proceeding with their attacks on him and calling on him to step down.

One of those who have already paid a price for criticizing Abbas’s attendance of the Peres funeral is Lieutenant Colonel Osama Mansour, who holds a senior position in the PA’s Military Liaison Apparatus. In a post on Facebook, the PA officer strongly condemned Abbas’s move:

“If you alone decided to participate in the funeral of the killer of our sons, then you erred. And if you took the decision on the basis of what you were told by your advisors, then they have misled you.”

Hours after the post appeared on Facebook, Mansour was suspended from his job. Later, he was arrested by PA Military Intelligence Service officers who raided his house and conducted a search, during which they destroyed furniture, according to his family. A PA court has since ordered Mansour remanded into custody for fifteen days.

The suspension and subsequent arrest of the officer sparked a new wave of rage against Abbas and his security forces. Palestinians took to social media to protest the crackdown on the officer, hailing him as a hero and denouncing Abbas as a “dog” and Israeli “collaborator.” Some suggested that the officer was worthy of being appointed as a minister in the PA Cabinet for his courageous remarks.

But the move against the senior officer did not deter many Abbas loyalists from coming out against him for going to the funeral of Peres.

Fatah’s “Youth Movement,” known in Arabic as Al-Shabiba, issued a statement calling on Abbas to “apologize” to the Palestinians for committing a “grave mistake.” Abbas’s participation in the funeral was “humiliating and degrading” for the Palestinians and a form of “treason,” according to the statement. The group pointed out that Abbas’s move was in violation of Fatah’s regulations, which envisage the “full liberation of Palestine and eliminating Israeli occupation economically, politically, militarily and culturally.” Addressing Abbas, the group stated:

“Mr. President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas. You have committed a crime against our people by equating the executioner with the victim. We will not allow treason to become a viewpoint.”

Several senior Fatah officials sought to distance themselves from Abbas’s decision to attend the funeral of Peres by claiming that they had not been consulted beforehand.

One of them, Tawfik Tirawi, who previously served as commander of the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service in the West Bank, announced that he was personally opposed to Abbas’s gesture. He clarified that Abbas did not seek the opinion of the Fatah leadership before he went to the funeral:

“Had I been personally consulted as a member of the Fatah Central Committee, I would have made it clear that I am against participation in principle, because this is a funeral of a Zionist who wallowed, from head to toe, in the blood of our people and other Arabs.”

Tirawi went on to describe Peres as the “engineer of the Israeli nuclear project which is designed to foil any plan to retrieve our land.”

The widespread protests against Abbas’s decision to participate in Peres’s funeral took a violent turn on October 3, when PA policemen used force to break up a peaceful demonstration in Ramallah. Organized by the PFLP, the protest was yet another sign of the strong sentiments many Palestinians harbor not only against Abbas, but also Israel.

Palestinian lawyer Muhanad Karajeh, who works for a Ramallah-based human rights organization, reported that he was asked by the organizers to be present in order to document the event. The lawyer stated he was severely beaten by PA security officers during the protest. “I was repeatedly beaten in the face and different parts of the body,” he recounted. “I know some of the officers personally. They tore my suit although I told them I am a lawyer. They humiliated me and cursed me and my profession.”

In a desperate act to counter the spreading protests, Abbas’s aides organized impromptu marches in support of the Palestinian Authority president. The PA leadership summons Fatah activist-thugs to take to the streets whenever it feels the heat. Carrying photos of Abbas and the yellow Fatah flags, scores of Fatah members marched in the streets of Ramallah in a show of force and as a message of warning to those who would censure Abbas. “We stand behind our historic leadership and President Abbas,” declared top Fatah activist Osama Qawassmeh. “Fatah is a red line and it is facing a conspiracy.”

On social media, the attacks on Abbas were quite ruthless. Palestinian activists circulated cartoons ridiculing Abbas. One of them depicted Abbas as a rabbi in Israeli military uniform and a Jewish skullcap weeping next to Peres’s grave. Another cartoon featured an Arab laying a wreath on a boot next to Peres’s photo.

On Twitter, activists launched hashtags called, “Offering Condolences On the Death of Peres is Treason” and “Normalization is Treason.”

Hamas was not silent about Abbas’s “treason.” Mahmoud Zahar, one of the leaders of the Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip, opined that according to Islamic teachings, Abbas qualifies as a Jew. “We hope that he will join Peres in Hell,” Zahar said. “Abbas is an Israeli product. The man who claims to represent all the Palestinian people has stood up against all Palestinians and Arabs.”

A large group of Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and political activists signed a petition calling on Abbas to apologize for attending the Peres funeral, characterizing the move as an “historic and political mistake.” At least 150 Palestinians and Arabs signed the petition, which stressed that Abbas’s decision came as a “shock” to Palestinians.

The protests have, meanwhile, spread to Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and neighboring Arab countries. At the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus, thousands of Palestinians chanted slogans calling for the removal of Abbas from power. The protest came during a funeral of a Palestinian man who had been shot dead a week earlier by Palestinian Authority policemen.

The unprecedented outcry over Abbas’s participation in the funeral of an Israeli leader is further proof of the degree to which Palestinians have been radicalized. Frustration with Abbas and his policies is not new. More and more Palestinians have in recent years expressed rage over his “lenient” policies towards Israel. A particular bone in their throat is the continued security coordination between PA security forces and Israel. They perceive this cooperation with the Israelis as “treasonous”. Many Palestinians are also angry with Abbas for his refusal to share power and pave the way for the emergence of new leaders.

The blame for the radicalization of the Palestinian people lies squarely at the feet of Abbas and the rest of the PA. If you promote boycotts of Israel, expect to be attacked when you break that boycott by associating with any Israeli, alive or dead. Protests tend to subside, but even if the current condemnation eventually does die down, it will have sent a message to future Palestinian leaders. The message is: “No peace with Israel, not in our time, and not in any time.”