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Latest News in Israel – 11th January

Changing trend? Arab Israeli youth condemn Jerusalem terror attack

“I am an Arab Israeli sending condolences to the bereaved families,” “God willing let them get healthy,” and “I feel pangs of conscience,” are just some of the solidarity posts put up by Arab Israelis on the Facebook page ,”Right-wing Arabs Tweet,” following Sunday’s terror attack in Jerusalem in which four IDF soldiers were killed.

The solidarity posts came after November’s string of fires in Israel saw Arab social media networks flooded with happy posts from Arab Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs from other countries, some of whom saw the fires as divine punishment for Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians.

It began Sunday night during the height of the media coverage of the terror attack in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood which was carried out by an Arab from the adjacent neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber.

An Arab youth named Amir Abu posted a solidarity message in Hebrew for the wounded soldiers and the bereaved Jewish families. “I am an Israeli Arab who condemns all of the terror attacks in Israel and shares the pain of the bereaved families.”

He added that “it hurts to see young people run over and killed because of baseless hatred – Enough already!”

His comments sparked a social media storm with thousands of Arabs and Jews responding to his post and supporting his sentiment. Nareman Mruwat, a young Arab woman donning a hijab in her profile picture wrote: “I am also a religious Muslim Arab who staunchly condemns the loathsome terror attack and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded, enough already, we’re sick of it!!”

She added that only the extremists who are given all the coverage in the media are heard and not the voice of sanity.

Hamid al-Hatib joined the condemnations wholeheartedly and did not hide his religious devoutness – “When you go to mosque and pray to the omnipotent Allah and afterward go out to spill blood and interfere with him deciding who will live and who will die. Al-Mut al–hayah fid Allah: meaning that death comes at the hand of God.”

Jewish Israelis who were exposed to these voices expressed excitement alongside some who were cynical. Ziv Rappaport responded to a post: “There are some very brave voices here from the Arab sector. I wish you would all come together as a political group and provide opposition to the terrorists on the Joint List (political party) who cause damage to the Arab public. Respect for the courage to voice your opinion.”  (Jerusalem Post)_

TV report of compromise : Trump’s ambassador could work from Jerusalem, with embassy still in Tel Aviv

A possible compromise over moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem could see Donald Trump’s ambassador working from an existing US consulate in the capital while the embassy itself remains in Tel Aviv, Israeli television reported on Tuesday.

Quoting unnamed Israeli Foreign Ministry officials, Channel 2 news said intended ambassador David Friedman, who has said he looks forward to working from the US embassy in Jerusalem, might instead merely work from the city with a small staff, while the Tel Aviv embassy remains intact and most of its operations and staff stay there.

The report noted that building contractors in neighborhoods near the existing consulate in Talpiot have received calls recently from would-be buyers seeking luxury homes for Americans.

In marked contrast to the talk of a compromise idea, however, CNN reported that Trump was pushing ahead with plans for the embassy move and telling allies that it will go ahead.

There is speculation the announcement of the move could be made on May 24, when Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day, marking the unification of the city in 1967, CNN reported on Tuesday. That date would be a few days before a waiver signed by President Barack Obama on moving the embassy expires.

European and Arab diplomats have warned Trump against the move, saying it could ignite the region. “It’s very dangerous,” a European diplomat told CNN.

Palestinian leaders on Tuesday called for prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest plans by Trump to move the embassy.

Over the weekend, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry warned that moving the embassy — and this effectively recognizing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem — would cause “an explosion” in the region and have a detrimental effect on Israel’s relationships with Jordan and Egypt.

In an interview with CBS News, Kerry said the move would cause “an explosion, an absolute explosion in the region, not just in the West Bank, and perhaps even in Israel itself, but throughout the region.”

It would also “have profound impact on the readiness of Jordan and Egypt to be able to be supportive and engaged with Israel as they are today,” he warned.

Trump and his team have spoken repeatedly of his intention to relocate the embassy to Israel’s capital, leading to wall-to-wall condemnations from Palestinian leaders.

On Friday the issue was the chief subject of religious sermons throughout the West Bank, with Palestinian Authority leadership instructing mosques it controls to focus on the matter, Israel Radio reported.

Official Palestinian television also broadcast excerpts from several such sermons, in which clerics urged their followers to wake up to the danger. One warned relocating the embassy would be an attack on the Muslim faith and against history. Another said it was an assault on Islam’s holy place and on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Some Israeli reports have quoted relatives of the terrorist who rammed his truck into Israeli soldiers in East Talpiot on Sunday, killing four of them, had been impacted by one such sermon at his local mosque.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday warned Trump not to move the embassy. He invited Trump to visit the Palestinian territories, but also said: “We call on you not to implement your statement… because we consider it as an aggressive statement, when you say you want to move the embassy to Jerusalem.”

The PA president said moving the embassy would throw the peace process into a crisis it would not necessarily overcome, according to Israel Radio.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their intended capital. An American decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would signal US acceptance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The status of Jerusalem is one of the core issues that would need to be resolved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on Palestinian statehood.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem and the Old City after capturing the areas in the 1967 war. The UN Security Council last month branded all such land occupied Palestinian territory — a designation furiously rejected by Netanyahu, who ridiculed the notion that the Temple Mount and Western Wall could be defined in this way. The US abstained in the vote, allowing the resolution to pass, infuriating Israel, and drawing criticism from Trump.

Abbas said Friday that any action that affects the status of Jerusalem would cross a red line and that the Palestinians would not put up with it.

Palestinian negotiator Erekat said last month that he will resign, the peace process will be over for ever, the PLO will revoke its recognition of Israel and the US will be forced by Arab public opinion to close all its embassies in the Arab world if the Trump administration moves the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In a statement issued by the Trump transition team days earlier announcing Friedman as Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel, Friedman said he aimed to “strengthen the bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region,” and that he looked “forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on December 12 that moving the embassy “is very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump.” Conway told radio host Hugh Hewitt in a lengthy interview: “He made it very clear during the campaign, and as president-elect, I’ve heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”  (the Times of Israel)

UN seeks to blacklist Israeli firms operating beyond Green Line

The United Nations Human Rights Council is reportedly working on a “blacklist” of Israeli companies operating beyond the Green Line with aim of declaring them illegal.

The list, an initiative prompted by the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, is scheduled to be released in March, but a source familiar with the issue told Israel Hayom Monday it may only come out in June.

The move reportedly aims to bar the presence of any Israeli company beyond the Green Line. If adopted, the list could deem even private security firms protecting Israelis in Judea and Samaria from terrorist organizations, as illegal.

The list is said to be the brainchild of known BDS activist Richard Falk, formerly the U.N.’s special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. Falk first came up with the idea for the blacklist six years ago, while in office, and he has been strongly advocating for it ever since, this time with the support of several Arab U.N. members.

In an effort to thwart this initiative, NGO Monitor, a watchdog group that promotes greater transparency among foreign-funded Israeli nongovernmental organizations, has recently sent the Human Rights Council a position paper explaining that such a list would be a violation of international law and the UNHRC’s own guidelines against discrimination based on national origin, arguing that as no such blacklists exist for any other conflict zone in the world, it would in effect be targeting Jewish-owned businesses.

“The U.N. Human Rights Council discriminates against Israel by applying double standards to international law,” the position paper noted.

“The list may also harm companies conducting business with Israel, which is consistent with the ultimate goal of [the BDS movement], which is isolating and attacking the State of Israel and undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.”

NGO Monitor’s legal adviser Anne Herzberg called the initiative “another chapter in the U.N.’s double standards and long and shameful, anti-Israel obsession.”   (Israel Hayom)

Multiple arrests made in Jebl Mukaber, Old City in terror investigation

On Tuesday, two days after the capital’s mass-casualty truck-ramming attack, police arrested more than a dozen suspects accused of aiding the terrorist, rioting in his east Jerusalem neighborhood, and spray painting graffiti in the Old City praising the murders.

On Monday, police arrested nine suspects in the volatile community of Jebl Mukaber, including five of the killer’s family members, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld on Tuesday.

“After the initial attack on Sunday, police entered the terrorist’s neighborhood, where family members and other possible accomplices connected to the attack were arrested,” said Rosenfeld.

“Special patrol units in the Jebl Mukaber neighborhood also prevented the set-up of a mourning area for the terrorist on a rooftop of a house.”

Police operations continued on Monday in the Arab enclave, known for being a breeding ground for terrorists, when a mob of residents rioted, throwing firebombs and rocks at officers in the area.

“The Border Police responded with non-lethal weapons and secured the scene,” he said. “None of the officers were injured and three suspects were arrested, who have been arraigned at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

On Tuesday, Rosenfeld said four more men were arrested in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter for spray painting graffiti on walls lauding Sunday’s mass murderer as a hero and “martyr.”

“CCTV surveillance cameras in the area recorded the vandalism, and police were able to identify and locate all the suspects involved,” said Rosenfeld.

Following Sunday’s attack, which killed four soldiers and wounded 17 others, Rosenfeld said a checkpoint was erected at one of Jebl Mukaber’s entrances.

“Hundreds of extra officers have been deployed to patrol the rest of the neighborhood, where they are checking all vehicles, including trucks, to prevent further attacks,” he said, noting that the investigation into the attack is ongoing.

“Security measures will continue as long as necessary to find potential suspects and vehicles that may be used in another attack.”  (Jerusalem Post)

IDF reveals recent significant increase of violent incidents across West Bank

Figures by the IDF show a significant increase in the number of violent incidents in the West Bank in the past few months, indicating Israel may be in the midst of a worrisome trend.

At a briefing held at the IDF’s Judea and Samaria headquarters in Beit El on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that Israel is on the cusp of witnessing serious regional developments.

“We know that we are standing before dramatic diplomatic changes, some of which are very good for Israel, but – unfortunately – we have not yet stabilized the situation,” he said. “But from what I saw today, the IDF and security force efforts are significant. They have had a number of significant breakthroughs – in technology, intelligence and other areas – that are leading in the right direction.”

According to figures obtained by The Jerusalem Post, there has been a surge in the number of attacks in the past few months, primarily rock-throwing incidents, with 346 stone-throwing attacks recorded in September, 375 in October, 420 in November and 344 in December.

In the first 10 days of January, there have been 169 stone-throwing attacks recorded, which at that rate would make over 500 stone-throwing attacks by the end of the month.

According to the army, there were 56 Molotov cocktails thrown at IDF soldiers or civilians in September, 67 in October, 72 in November, 56 in December and 26 in the first 10 days of 2017. There have also been nine shooting attacks between the months of September and November, with another six recorded in December. Nine stabbing attacks were recorded in September, with another five between October and November, and five in December alone.

While stone-throwing incidents are the most common type of attack, according to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) figures, there has been overall rise in attacks of different types in the past few months, with 455 attacks recorded in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since September.

This is a significant increase from the 228 terrorist attacks or attempted attacks the Shin Bet recorded from October 2015 through February 2016.

Not only does the Palestinian Authority not condemn terrorist attacks, but inside Fatah there are those who praise them, Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

The PA did not condemn the attack in Jerusalem that killed four soldiers and injured 15 other victims.

The security forces displayed for Netanyahu some of the more than 450 weapons that were confiscated in Judea and Samaria over the last year. In addition, some 40 weapons workshops were discovered and dismantled.

“In 2015, almost no workshops were discovered,” Netanyahu said. “In 2016, 43 of these were found – equipment was impounded, arrests of those responsible were made, the workshops were closed. There are great efforts on our behalf to prevent the manufacturing and distribution of weaponry.”

Netanyahu said that tremendous efforts were being made against Palestinian terrorism in Judea and Samaria within the realms of intelligence, arrests, raids and operations.

He said that an indication of the successes the security forces have had in crippling the manufacturing of weapons in the territories is that the cost of a weapon in the West Bank is now six times what it was in June, when terrorists shot up a cafe in the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv.

Israeli security forces, including the Shin Bet intelligence agency, the IDF and police, have increased their efforts to uncover unofficial workshops producing explosives and other illegal weapons, such as the locally made Carl Gustav gun.

There have also been a number of large-scale terrorist attacks foiled by security forces in the West Bank in the past year, most recently by a Hamas cell planning a series of suicide attacks in Haifa and Jerusalem. According to the Shin Bet, the cell had also planned to carry out shooting attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.

While Israeli security forces foiled over 100 potentially major terrorist plots by organized cells in 2016, the main threat remains the “lone-wolf” attacker.

Over the past year and a half, violent attacks have been perpetrated by a different type of terrorist than previous intifadas. Referred to as “Facebook terrorists” by some IDF officers, the majority of attackers have been young Palestinians influenced by what they see in the media or online who then grab a simple item, like a kitchen knife, and carry out an attack.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who accompanied Netanyahu, slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for directing imams to incite against Israel in the mosques.

“This incitement has direct ramifications on the ground,” he said. “We are following this, and all the efforts to turn the attack [in Jerusalem on Sunday] into an incident to incite.”

Liberman said threats, pressure and international conferences will not impact the situation.

“Instead of sitting and talking with us, the attempt to frighten us and incitement are negative contributions to stability and a diplomatic process,” he said. “I hope we will know how to extract a price from the other side for all this incitement and these efforts to frighten us.”  (Jerusalem Post)

After 16 bomb threats in a day, FBI to coordinate with JCCs in ‘new reality’

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security will be assisting local Jewish community centers in bolstering security after 16 Jewish community centers received bomb threats on the same day.

On Wednesday, officials from the FBI and Homeland Security will conduct a conference call with US Jewish communal leaders to discuss Monday’s incidents, what they stem from and how to craft protocols to handle such incidents in the future. Some communities already receive federal grants to provide for security.

The bomb threats, none of which appear credible, hit JCCs up and down the East Coast, in addition to two in the United Kingdom, prompting evacuations of buildings and campuses. According to Jewish communal security officials, the bomb threats came both from robocalls and from live telephone calls. It remains unclear whether one person or group was behind all the threats.

The US JCCs affected ranged from one in northern New Jersey to several in the Southeast — including in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In addition, JCCs in Maryland, Delaware, Tennessee and Pennsylvania received threats. Several Jewish institutions also received bomb threats last week.

The simultaneous threats were unprecedented, according to Paul Goldenberg, the director of the Secure Community Network, a group affiliated with the Jewish Federations of North America that coordinates security for the Jewish community.

“We’re in a completely different world now than we were a couple years ago,” Goldenberg told JTA. “What is unprecedented is in the shortest period of time we received a substantial number of bomb threats. These offenders are leveraging technology to intimidate and/or terrorize communities.”

The FBI is investigating the bomb scares, according to Goldenberg.

One of the threatened communities, in Wilmington, Delaware, received a bomb threat at 11:45 a.m. Monday and evacuated some 200 people from a complex housing four Jewish organizations. Everyone from preschoolers at a Jewish day school to senior citizens eating lunch left the building within a few minutes. They returned about 90 minutes later.

Seth Katzen, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Delaware, said communal officials were in touch with local FBI and police, who responded immediately, and that the evacuation was completed without panic.

“There was a scare, but a manageable uneasiness,” he told JTA. “Everyone moved extremely well. It was to create panic and inconvenience, which it did. That is our new reality.”

Neither Goldenberg nor the Anti-Defamation League explicitly tied the bomb threats to the rise of anti-Semitic attacks during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. Goldenberg said making such a link may be tempting, but would be premature given that the offender has not been identified.

The New York Police Department, as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center, have released reports of a rise in hate crimes following the election. Goldenberg expects more attacks on religious institutions to take place in 2017.

“In the last 16 months we’ve seen an increase in harassment, intimidation, and as a direct result of some of the rhetoric and usage by extremists of social media,” Goldenberg said. “It’s easy to tie this into the election. I think that the current situation in the US and abroad has allowed for some extremists to have a methodology.”

Over the past two years, Jewish federations in major urban areas have hired coordinators — mostly former federal law enforcement officials — to ensure that all local Jewish institutions are secure and prepared to face threats. More than 20 such security coordinators have been hired.

Brenda Moxley, director of community security for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, was hired last year after serving as assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s criminal branch in Miami. She ensures that more than 120 area Jewish institutions are prepared for incidents such as Monday’s, in addition to being in touch with law enforcement officials.

Moxley said the need for such procedure first arose following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and that Jewish institutions are now beginning to be proactive in responding to threats.

“Every day, it’s important to be vigilant,” she told JTA. “It’s not about being paranoid; it’s just about being prepared.”

Others point out that Jewish institutions began “hardening” their security after the 1999 attack on the North Valley Jewish Community Center near Los Angeles, when a white supremacist opened fire in the JCC lobby and wounded five people.

In April 2014, a 73-year-old neo-Nazi opened fire at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, Kansas, and Village Shalom, a nearby Jewish retirement community, killing three people.  (the Times of Israel)

Once again, Palestinians never miss a chance to foster Israeli unity

by Gil Troy                    The Jerusalem Post


We are one with the families of the four young idealists massacred. We are one with the 17 wounded and their families, too. We join Left and Right in repudiating Hamas for lionizing this murderer.

Abba Eban’s enduring insight that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity needs amending: the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to boost Israeli unity, either. On Sunday, as The New York Times delighted in a polarized Israel sacrificing the army and national unity “on the altar of ultranationalist ideology,” a sadistic Palestinian truck driver – along with his Palestinian cheerleaders – unified us in sorrow. Amid intense reactions to the Azaria verdict punishing the shooting of a disarmed terrorist, this hit-and-run terrorist emphasized the murderous context in which Israeli kids must make split-second life-anddeath decisions.

As Israelis texted back and forth to see who escaped terrorism’s luckless lottery – which one Haaretz columnist that morning justified as “resistance to the occupation” – as the Palestinian wheel of misfortune crushed two dozen families, “citizens” weren’t “waging war” against “the citizens’ army.” We were one; we are one.

We are one with the families of the four young idealists massacred. We are one with the 17 wounded and their families, too. We join Left and Right in repudiating Hamas for lionizing this murderer. We join Left and Right in denouncing the Gazans who celebrated this despicable act. We unite in condemning the international enablers whose excusing of Palestinian incitement puts their fingerprints all over the deadly driver’s steering wheel.

We unite in lamenting that terrorism targeting us doesn’t merit headlines elsewhere. And we all share the same prayer, whatever our chosen political prescription for ending this conflict: that these will be the last victims – even as we wonder with dread, “who’s next”? Some media commentary nevertheless was harsh: one commentator sneered that two young women who clutched each other’s hands as they ran away from the runaway truck “thought they were at Disneyland. ” Wow. Consider the crazy pressures Israeli kids endure. If soldiers overreact as Sgt. Elor Azaria did, they’re arrested. If they react normally by scattering, as some officer cadets did in Sunday’s attack, they’re mocked. Honor the heroes who ran toward the truck and killed the terrorist, but don’t punish the others.

They’re suffering enough guilt and trauma. Remember, at first it looked like a traffic accident – even to the tourguide hero who shot first. The whole incident took 28 seconds – reflecting a miraculously rapid, lifesaving response which included many cadets (with no time for anyone to think about the Azaria verdict). And remember, the terrorists are guilty, not the victims.

When I was these kids’ age, my big dilemmas involved whether to major in history or political science, and whether to order plain or mushroom pizza at night. How dare I judge them, without humility – and how dare my fellow laptop warriors in the American Jewish community do the same, despite never having been on either end of a gun.

The mass mourning this mass murder evoked proved that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot was only half-right when he said, “An 18-year-old man serving in the army is not ‘everyone’s child.’” The IDF is a people’s army populated by “our kids,” who invest heart and soul – and sometimes body and life itself – in protecting us. Older teens are will o’wisps. Treating them only as kids condescends; treating them only as adults overshoots.

Rather than fearing a robust argument about the Azaria verdict, let’s welcome it. But let’s retire two inflammatory words: “murderer” and “hero.”

Murder is “the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought”; in March 2016, pummeled by a spate of terrorist violence, Azaria didn’t wake up one morning planning to kill a terrorist. Azaria was armed only because his country drafted him to defend it. That’s not the profile of a murderer; he’s no threat to society.

By contrast, a hero is “a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character.” Shooting a disarmed terrorist is disreputable and dishonorable.

By contrast, another medic, my heroic friend Martin Friedlander, in 2002 gave mouth to mouth resuscitation to a terrorist who had just blown himself up, explaining, “I am a medic, and have trained all my life for this kind of episode.”

Marty understood the act’s absurdity – which was part of its nobility.

“I… would have shot him dead if I’d known what he was about to do,” Marty said, “but 20 seconds later was trying to save the life of a human being.”

Rather than being pardoned, which would neutralize the verdict’s moral message, Azaria deserves a creative sentence. He was a terrible soldier who violated the IDF chain of command and code of ethics. Sentence him to finish his military service in a military jail. When his three years end, he should rejoin the civilian population, to try becoming a true hero in that world.

Last Saturday night, when Yael Yekutiel, Shir Hajaj, Shira Tzur and Erez Orbach were still alive, anticipating their Jerusalem adventure, a lovely man named Capt. Ziv Shilon organized a unity rally. Despite having lost his arm fighting in Gaza, he hasn’t lost his faith in Israel. Shilon decided to make a stand at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, “even if it is by myself,” calling for “solidarity and mutual love.”

Thousands attended, from Right to Left.

Fortunately, the rally occurred before the terrorist attack. It shows that we don’t need Palestinian violence to unite us. We must foster unity ourselves, with more grace, understanding, humility, self-criticism and love for our fellow Israelis, Jews and humans – even when we disagree.

Palestinians: Glorifying Mass Murderers

by Bassam Tawil      The Gatestone Institute


The murderous legacy and personality of Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas mass murderer who masterminded a wave of suicide bombings, are being glorified not only by his Hamas supporters, but also by the “moderate” Western-funded Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by Mahmoud Abbas.

Ayyash won his reputation on the murdering and maiming of hundreds of Israelis, most of them innocent civilians. Had he fought for peace and coexistence, Ayyash would have been condemned as a “traitor” and gone down in history as a “defeatist” and “surrenderist.”

“The mosque that produced the mujahed [warrior] Ayyash is continuing to produce heroes.” – Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is in these mosques that Ayyash was taught that Islam permits people like him to build bombs and dispatch suicide bombers to blow up buses. It is also in these mosques where he was taught that devout Muslims are best engaged in spilling Jewish blood.

Children and youths who attend prayers at these mosques are being fed the same hate-speech rhetoric that their hero Ayyash was exposed to in his childhood. Hence it is no surprise that the mosques in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue to this day to churn out new terrorists, many of whom aspire to become like Ayyash – mass murderers.

Thus, despite Fatah’s double-talk about a two-state solution and “peace” with Israel, mass murderers still take top billing in its hall of fame. Fatah is also making it known that its former leader, Yasser Arafat, approved of such terrorism against Israel.

The voices of the Palestinians who reject this education for wholesale slaughter are being marginalized by the European leaders doing business with the still-wealthy members of the Arab elite who fund these imams and these mosques.

These European leaders wrongly image that if they get rid of Israel, it will be only Israel. They fail see that Israel is just the first course. They imagine that if they accede to Muslims’ wishes, they will be safe. What they fail to see, as in France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Britain, is that they will be next.

Palestinian youths are being urged to follow in the footsteps of Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas mass murderer who masterminded a wave of suicide bombings that killed and wounded hundreds of Israelis. Ayyash’s expertise in manufacturing explosive devices earned him the nickname “The Engineer” and turned him into a hero in the eyes of many Palestinians. The bomb-maker was killed by Israeli security forces on January 5, 1996, thereby ending one of the bloodiest chapters of Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

Two decades later, this arch-terrorist is still being revered as a hero and martyr. His murderous legacy and personality are being glorified not only by his Hamas supporters, but also by the “moderate” Western-funded Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by Mahmoud Abbas.

A few years ago, the PA decided to honor Ayyash by naming a street in Ramallah after him. The street sign was posted in Ramallah, the headquarters of the PA where Abbas lives and works, and reads:

“Yahya Ayyash, 1966-1996, born in Nablus, studied electrical engineering in Bir Zeit University. Was a member of the (Hamas military wing) Iz ad-Din al-Qassam, and was linked by Israel to a number of bombings. He was assassinated by Israel in his Beit Lahia (Gaza Strip) home on January 5, 1996.”

This week, Palestinians took to social media to glorify the arch-terrorist further, depicting him as a role model and urging youths to follow in his footsteps.

On Twitter, for instance, they launched a hashtag entitled, “Be Like Ayyash.” The campaign encourages Palestinian youths to admire the bomb-maker and endorse his “jihad” (holy war) against Israel. Activists posted video clips, songs, poems and portraits praising and lionizing Ayyash and his terrorism. The campaign, according to the sponsors, is also designed to acquaint Palestinians with the “humane and leadership qualities” of Ayyash and remind them of his “heroic actions.”

Unsurprisingly, the social media campaign has attracted the attention of thousands of Palestinians and Arabs, who heaped praise on the Hamas bomb-maker-turned-icon. Ayyash won his reputation on the murdering and maiming of hundreds of Israelis, most of them innocent civilians. Had he fought for peace and coexistence, Ayyash would have been condemned as a “traitor” and gone down in history as a “defeatist” and “surrenderist.”

This Palestinian “engineer” is not being glorified because he used his expertise to help improve the lives of Palestinians. He is being lauded because he used the education he received to build bombs and dispatch suicide bombers to kill Israelis.

One activist hailed Ayyash as “The Master of Men and the Moon of Palestine.” He added: “We are proud of you, Hawk of Iz ad-Din al-Qassam!”

Another activist posted: “Oh history take note – the engineer of Palestine used to divert the path of Zionist buses towards hell!” (a reference to the suicide bombings that targeted Israeli buses).

Here is what another Palestinian had to say about the mass-murderer: “Yahya Ayyash is an idea, and ideas do not die. Although the resistance in the Gaza Strip has developed its weapons, the bombing of a bus has a special flavor!”Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, joined the chorus of terror glorifiers by offering his own post commemorating the anniversary of the death of Ayyash. “Yahya Ayyash did not die,” wrote the leading Islamic scholar, considered the spiritual father of Muslim Brotherhood. “He is alive in the conscience of all Palestine. The mosque that produced the mujahed (warrior) Ayyash is continuing to produce heroes.”

Sheikh al-Qaradawi is right in two important ways. The first of these is that Ayyash was indeed “produced” by a mosque. Those close to Ayyash describe him as a devout Muslim who used to spend much of his time in mosques, where he was undoubtedly exposed to anti-Semitic hate-speech and indoctrination at the hands of preachers and imams.

It is in these mosques that Ayyash was taught that Islam permits people like him to build bombs and dispatch suicide bombers to blow up buses. It is also in these mosques where he was taught that devout Muslims are best engaged in spilling Jewish blood.

Al-Qaradawi is also right when he says that the mosques are continuing to produce “heroes.” This is true because incitement and anti-Semitism remains a main theme of the Friday prayer sermons. Children and youths who attend prayers at these mosques are being fed the same hate-speech rhetoric that their hero Ayyash was exposed to in his childhood. Hence it is no surprise that the mosques in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue to this day to churn out new terrorists, many of whom aspire to become like Ayyash – mass murderers.

“Ayyash was only 29 years old, but he became a legend that instilled fear in the hearts of the Zionists,” remarked another social media activist. “He was transformed into an exemplary engineer inspiring new generations.”

Hamas leaders, for their part, chose to celebrate the anniversary of the death of their terrorist by voicing hope that Palestinian youths would look at him as their role model and follow in his footsteps. “The students of Yahya Ayyash are the hope of the Palestinians,” said Hamas spokesman Hussam Badran. He said that Ayyash continues to serve as an inspiration for youths who wish to join the jihad against Israel.

That Ayyash was a Hamas member has not prevented the rival Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas from joining the campaign of glorification.

True, Hamas and Fatah are rivals and they despise each other. But when it comes to murdering Israelis, they wholeheartedly agree. In truth, Fatah would have preferred if Ayyash had been one of its own. Had that been so Fatah would have been able to boast (instead of Hamas) of the “heroic” attacks engineered by the beloved terrorist.

Still, in the eyes of Fatah, this Hamas arch-terrorist is a hero because he killed and wounded hundreds of Israelis. On one of its Facebook pages, Fatah had these words to say about Ayyash: “The revolutionaries never die; Fatah pledges to remain committed to the martyrs and the path of Yasser Arafat.”

Thus, despite Fatah’s double-talk about a two-state solution and “peace” with Israel, mass murderers still take top billing in its hall of fame. Fatah is also making it known that its former leader, Yasser Arafat, approved of such terrorism against Israel. This Fatah stance should not come as a surprise to those who have been following its leaders’ and activists’ statements and actions. The glorification of terrorists has always been an integral part of Fatah ideology. Most recently, Fatah celebrated its 52nd anniversary in a series of Facebook posts glorifying Palestinian terrorists.

Some would argue that the absence of education for peace with Israel on the Palestinian side is largely responsible for the failure of the peace process. However, this assessment falls short of the full truth. That truth is that the same Palestinian children who are not educated toward peace with Israel are educated toward killing Israeli civilians, as many as possible. The continued glorification of terrorists and the encouragement of youths to join the jihad against Israel and Jews, as well as the celebrations marking the death of Ayyash, demonstrate this truth. Where, the international community might ask, are the voices of the Palestinians who reject this education for wholesale slaughter?

Their voices are being marginalized by many European leaders comfortably doing business with the still-wealthy members of the Arab and Muslim elite who fund those imams and mosques. These European leaders wrongly image that if they get rid of Israel, it will be only Israel. They fail see that Israel is just the first course. They imagine that if they accede to Muslims’ wishes, they will be safe. What they fail to see, as in France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Britain, is that they will be next, and that what they have been seeing is just the start. That is how the Muslims in a few hundred years took over Persia, Turkey, southern Spain, all of North Africa, and most of Eastern Europe.

For anyone who treasures freedom – including many Arabs and Muslims who do not want to live under terrorist Islamic dictatorships but are strong-armed from speaking out – the United Nations is now poisonous place. It has been taken over by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — 56 Islamic countries plus Palestine. It is now the seat of the universal caliphate. In this, it is assisted by dictators, despots and the many dhimmi-European leaders who together command a permanent voting majority and have been lately been busy rewriting historical facts. Nothing good can come from it. Freedom-loving countries should run.

Palestinian state will not lead to Middle East peace

by  Bret Stephens             The Australian/The Wall Street Journal


Diplomats from some 70 countries will assemble in Paris on Sunday for another Mideast conference, intended to preserve the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. The timing is not accidental: with five days to go in the Obama administration, there are whispers that the conference may lead to another UN Security Council resolution, this time setting out parameters for an eventual Palestinian state.

The question is: For what?

Climate change aside, the cause of Palestinian statehood is the central obsession of contemporary global politics. It’s also its least examined assumption.

Would a Palestinian state serve the cause of Mideast peace? This used to be conventional wisdom, on the theory that a Palestinian state would lead to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours, easing the military burdens on the former and encouraging the latter to address their internal discontents.

Today the proposition is ridiculous. No deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah is going to lift the sights of those now fighting in Syria, Iraq or Yemen. Nor will a deal reconcile Tehran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to the existence of a Jewish state. As for the rest of the neighbourhood, Israel has diplomatic relations with Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, and has reached pragmatic accommodations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

What about the interests of Palestinians? Aren’t they entitled to a state?

Maybe. But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans, Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots, Rohingya, Tibetans, Uighurs or West Papuans — all of whom have distinct national identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood?

If so, what gives Palestinians the preferential claim? Have they waited longer than the Kurds? No: Kurdish national claims stretch for centuries, not decades. Have they experienced greater violations to their culture than Tibetans? No: Beijing has conducted a systematic policy of repression for 67 years, whereas Palestinians are nothing if not vocal in mosques, universities and the media. Have they been persecuted more harshly than the Rohingya? Not even close.

Set the comparisons aside. Would a Palestinian state be good for Palestinian people?

That’s a more subjective judgment. But a telling figure came in a June 2015 poll conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion, which found that a majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state. No doubt part of this owes to a desire to be connected to Israel’s thriving economy. But it’s also a function of politics. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas just entered the 13th year of his four-year term. Fatah rules the West Bank through corruption; Hamas rules Gaza through fear. Humanitarian aid is routinely diverted for terrorist purposes: One terror tunnel stretching from Gaza to Israel consumed an estimated 800 tonnes of concrete and cost $US10 million ($13.6m) to build. Every three years or so, Hamas starts firing missiles at Israel, and hundreds of Palestinian civilians get killed in the crossfire. How does any of this augur well for what a future Palestinian state might bring?

But isn’t a Palestinian state a necessity for Israel? Can it maintain its Jewish and democratic character without separating itself from the millions of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River?

In theory, Israel would be well-served living alongside a sovereign Palestinian state that lived in peace with its neighbours, improved the welfare and respected the rights of its people, rejected extremism and maintained a monopoly on the use of force. In theory, Palestine could be the next Costa Rica: small but beautiful.

But Israelis don’t live in theory. They live in a world where mistakes are mortal. In 2000 and 2007 Israeli prime ministers made good-faith offers of Palestinian statehood. They were met on both occasions with rejection, then violence.

In 2005 Israel vacated the Gaza Strip. It became an enclave of terror. On Sunday, four young Israelis were run over in yet another terror attack. The ideal of a Jewish and faultlessly democratic state is a noble one. Not at the risk of the existence of the state itself.

The Paris conference takes place on the eve of a new administration that’s indifferent to prevailing orthodoxies regarding the Palestinians.

David Friedman, Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel, is unequivocal in his support for the Jewish state, determined to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, unscandalised by settlements and unmoved by suggestions that Israel’s safety requires the empowerment of her enemies.

These heresies alone recommend him for the job.

Meanwhile, anyone genuinely concerned with the future of the Palestinians might urge them to elect better leaders, improve their institutions, and stop giving out sweets to celebrate the murder of their neighbours.