+61 3 9272 5644

Latest News in Israel – 13th November

Luxury Alongside Poverty in the Palestinian Authority

In communities throughout the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, a surprising degree of luxury exists alongside the poverty. This study includes “A Photo Album of Palestinian Luxury in the West Bank,” with 98 photos that offer a more complete picture of living standards there. The truth is that alongside the slums of the old refugee camps, which the Palestinian government has done little to rehabilitate, a parallel Palestinian society is emerging.

http://jcpa.org/article/luxury-alongside-poverty-in-the-palestinian-authority/

Dennis Prager Just Silenced Oxford University With This Speech

http://bit.ly/1SIhcnG

Interesting Hebrew University Student Response

An Arab (Moslem) student, addressed a question to the Hebrew University Student Association. Read the response he received.

“Hi, as an Arab student, who pays 400 shekels at the start of each year, I would like to ask you: Why does the Student Association hold its ‘Student Day’ on the day Jerusalem was conquered? Why should the Student Association ignore the Arab students, who constitute a sizable percentage of the students of Hebrew University? Why should that Association indirectly prevent them – knowing they cannot celebrate on that date – from taking part in the largest, most heavily funded event of the school year, an event that should be intended for all students, and one which every student should be able to attend without hesitation…?”

Here is the response he received from a member of the Student Association:

(and people ultimately were  able to find out who that person is – Itai Haetzni. Look for him on Facebook and compliment him. He deserves it)

“Ya Sahbi! [Arabic for “Dear buddy]

Student Day is celebrated precisely on the anniversary of Jerusalem’s liberation from Moslem conquest very intentionally! And if there is anyone who has to rejoice, it is you and your friends, the University’s Arab students, and I shall explain briefly why: Had you not been liberated from the yoke of the Jordanian conquest, you, in all likelihood would have been downtrodden, impoverished, uneducated, and perhaps would have found yourself decapitated as well -Al Qaeda and ISIS-style.

You don’t have to like it, but listen sweetheart: Your life under Israel’s “occupation” is better than it would be under any other regime in the Middle East. In Syria, you’d be slaughtered in battle, through bombings or poison gas. In Lebanon, you’d be drafted into Hezbollah and killed in its service or oppressed/killed in a civil war. In Iraq, your head would be chopped off. In Yemen, you’d be shot in the street. In Egypt, you’d be violently liquidated by the police, the Salafists or the Moslem Brotherhood. Apparently, even if you lived in Jordan (you certainly wouldn’t want to live in any other country I mentioned) you’d be dirt poor and uneducated. Perhaps you’d be living in the Cairo cemetery in Egypt, in a mud hut in Northern Jordan, or in a destroyed refugee camp outside Damascus Your dignity would be crushed, your rights trampled, yet – without a doubt – you would be “independent” and “not occupied”. How lucky for you! After all, what does it matter if someone chops off your head, humiliates your wife, steals your money, or forces you to live a certain way? The main thing is that you are living under an “independent-Arab” regime, and not – G-d forbid – under the rule of those murderous Jews…

So, the Day of Jerusalem’s Liberation is, more than anything else, your holiday, pal. Thanks to “Calamity Day” [the Israeli Arab name for Israel Independence Day] and “Defeat Day” [the Israeli Arab name for Jerusalem Day] you can read and write, use the Internet and buy what you want just like in any other Western country. You can express your opinion in public, without fear of being arrested or killed. You can choose to be religious or irreligious, as you wish. You can study in university what you want, at the State of Israel’s expense, and enjoy Israeli Social Security; running water; reliable electricity and a feeling of genuine personal security. You needn’t fear that a government clerk will break into your house and demand a bribe, or rape your wife. Even if you commit a crime, no one’s going to cut off your hand, stone you or hang you.

This is your holiday, habibi, and the University celebrates Student Day especially for you. Sure, we Jews are celebrating the return to our historic homeland, a national celebration without a doubt. But you? You’re celebrating your own private celebration simultaneous to the general celebration. You’ve won a better life for yourself, when the alternative was to drown in the morass of thick blood that all the other countries of the Middle East are drowning in.

Mazel tov, man!”

Netanyahu: The European Union should be ashamed of itself

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the European Union should be ashamed of itself for approving new guidelines on Wednesday for labeling products made in territories that Israel captured during the 1967 Six Day War.

The areas that will be subject to the new labeling guidelines are the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

The Prime Minister joined both coalition and opposition members of Knesset in criticizing the decision.

“The EU decision is hypocritical and creates a double standard that only addresses Israel and not the 200 other conflicts that exist around the world,” a prepared statement released by Netanyahu read.

“The EU has decided to only mark Israel and we are not prepared to accept that Europe is singling out the side that is being attacked by terror,” he added.

But the prime minister did not express worry over the new guidelines’ effects on the Israeli economy.

“The Israeli economy is strong and will withstand them [the guidelines], it is the Palestinians on the other hand, who work in Israeli factories, who will be harmed,” Netanyahu said

(Jerusalem Post)

Israel suspends talks with EU amid settlement tagging scrap

Israel on Wednesday suspended dialogue with the European Union regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Foreign Ministry said. The move came in response to an EU decision to issue guidelines for the labeling of products manufactured in Israeli settlements.

The ministry indicated in a statement that Israel was withdrawing from several bilateral forums dealing with the Palestinian issue.

“We have suspended the subcommittee on diplomacy, the subcommittee on human rights and international organizations,” the ministry said. “The remaining dialogues [with the EU] are continuing as planned. Clearly, we won’t damage Israeli interests.”

“It is very important to the Europeans to be involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to hold a dialogue with us on the subject, but in light of their behavior it was decided to suspend all conversations with them about the matter,” added Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

The suspension was communicated to EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Anderson, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry Wednesday evening for a formal dressing down.

The ministry’s political director, Alon Ushpiz, told Faaborg-Anderson that it was regrettable that the EU took the step at a time when Israel is facing a wave of Palestinian terror attacks. Israel’s envoy to the EU, David Walzer, also informed European officials in Brussels of the measures.

But Faaborg-Andersen insisted that the new guidelines were “a small technical addition to something that has existed for a very long time: the trade facilitation between products coming from Israel proper, within its 1967 lines, and products coming from beyond the Green Line.”

He said he wanted “to emphasize strongly that this is not a boycott.”

Wednesday’s move by the European Council, which will also apply to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, underscores the EU’s unhappiness over Israel’s continued expansion of settlements on territory that Palestinians are seeking for a future state.

According to the guidelines published, the labels will need to point out that the product is made in an Israeli settlement, and not just the geographical origin.

The Foreign Ministry warned that the plan could affect bilateral ties and accused Brussels of applying a double standard to Israel, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the position of foreign minister, slammed the EU for the decision.

This move is “hypocritical and applies double standards, targeting Israel when there are over 200 other conflicts around the world,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“The EU has decided to label only Israel, and we are not prepared to accept the fact that Europe is labeling the side that is being attacked by terrorism,” he said.

“The Israeli economy is strong and will withstand this [decision]. Those who will be harmed will actually be Palestinian workers in Israeli factories [over the Green Line]. The European Union should be ashamed of itself,” Netanyahu continued.

The EU defended the move, saying it was technical rather than political and meant to streamline policies across member states.

“The Commission is providing guidance to the EU member states and economic operators to ensure the uniform application of the rules on indication of origins of Israeli settlement produce,” European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

Israeli politicians from the left and the right criticized the EU, with some calling the move “anti-Semitic.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said it was “a shameful step giving a prize to terrorism and the people behind it.”

“Even if this or that European has a dispute with the State of Israel regarding the status of the territory and its future, the decision to label products is pure hypocrisy,” he said.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, of the dovish Zionist Union party, called the decision “dangerous and detrimental” and said it would damage peace efforts.

He compared the move to the UN’s decision to equate Zionism with racism 40 years ago and said the words of his father — then ambassador to the UN Chaim Herzog, who went on to become Israel’s president — still rang true.

“This decision is based on hatred, falsehood and ignorance, devoid of any moral value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper, and we must treat it as such,” he said, quoting his father.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, meanwhile, welcomed the EU decision as a positive development but said it did not go far enough.                        (The Times of Israel)

Netanyahu backpedals on possibility of unilateral pull out

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday walked backed a comment he made a day earlier suggesting that an Israeli unilateral pull out from the West Bank was possible under the right security conditions.

“The prime minister didn’t speak of a unilateral withdrawal but of the possibility of unilateral steps, specifically those that would strengthen Israel’s security and diplomatic interests in the face of terror,” Netanyahu’s Likud party said in a Hebrew-language statement to the press, some 12 hours after Netanyahu made his remarks during an event at a progressive Washington think tank, the Center for American Progress.

“The interpretation of the prime minister’s comments yesterday in the US is misleading and inaccurate; the prime minister will not evacuate [settlements] and will not uproot [people]. That mistake will not be repeated,” said the statement, in reference to the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, when over 8,000 Israelis left or were forcibly removed from their homes in settlements in the Palestinian enclave.

Netanyahu also tweeted a condensed, first-person version of the statement, concluding: “I have no intention of evacuating or uprooting towns. That mistake won’t recur.”

Earlier Wednesday in Washington, Netanyahu — initially dismissive of the idea — appeared to say that such a pullout from the West Bank was “possible” if it had the international community’s backing and fully satisfied Israel’s security concerns.

In the wide-ranging interview with the Center for American Progress’s president and CEO, Neera Tanden, the prime minister struck a somewhat pessimistic note, arguing that the Palestinians are currently unwilling to make peace with Israel. But it could be, he added, that regional Arab countries might pressure them into an agreement. He also suggested that the complex issue of Jerusalem is unsolvable and that the city would have to remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Netanyahu reiterated his demands for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish state and for an Israeli “long-term security presence” in the West Bank. While this is the “right formula” for a peace deal, it is unlikely to happen in the immediate future, he said.

Later on, during a question and answer session, David Makovsky, the director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, asked Netanyahu how he intends to prevent Israel from becoming a bi-national in the absence of a negotiated solution.

“Unilateralism works less well than a negotiated solution,” the prime minister responded. “In any case, the main problem that we have is the [need for] acceptance of the principle that Israel will take care of security in the areas west of the Jordan.”

The trouble with the 2005 Gaza Disengagement was that Israel did not only withdraw all settlers but also that it left no security forces there, Netanyahu added. As a result, the coastal enclave has become a launch pad for rockets threatening all of Israel, he said.

“Unless you have an Israeli capability to actually prevent the use of territories that we hand over in a civilian sense, that we can patrol it from a security point of view — that’s where you get into trouble.”

In addition to the rockets, Israel is now facing “terror tunnels,” which further complicates a potential withdrawal of IDF troops from the West Bank, Netanyahu said. “Any delineation of a border would be hundreds of kilometers, so you’d have thousands of tunnels, and these are terror tunnels from which terrorists can emerge and take people hostage or kill them or squirrel them back.

“The only way you deal with that, is to assure that from a security point of view, Israel has [control], for the foreseeable future, until you can prove otherwise, that somebody else can responsibly take that territory, Israel has the security control. I don’t see the Palestinians agreeing to that,” Netanyahu said.

“Unilateralism… I suppose that’s possible too, but it would have to meet Israeli security criteria and that would also require broader international understanding than exists,” he concluded.                              (The Times of Israel)

‘Hezbollah weapons warehouses were the target of Wednesday’s Israeli airstrikes in Syria’

The target of Israel’s alleged airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday evening were Hezbollah weapons warehouses, Arab media affiliated with the opposition to Syrian Preisdent Basher Assad reported Thursday.

Pro-Assad operatives on Facebook said that the strikes, adjacent to Damascus airport, struck “military outposts near the airport, and there is a high probability that it was IDF warplanes that struck.”

New portal ‘Damascus Alan,’ which is affiliated with the Assad regime, reported that heavy damage was caused to army outposts around the airport, all of which went up in flames. The site did not specify what damage was caused to the outposts, but they said that nobody was hurt.

Syrian opposition activist Ahmed Yabrudi said: “Israeli warplanes entered from south Lebanon, arrived at Qalamoun and flew above the international airport in Damascus where they struck nearby military outposts.”

He added that “the Israeli planes remained in Syria’s skies for a half hour, and there is no information about the outposts that were hit – except that they belonged to Hezbollah.”

Official Syrian media failed to report on the air strikes attributed to Israel.

Israeli defense officials also declined to comment on the foreign media reports.

However, Israel did previously announce a strict-policy of intolerance towards threats to the state, such as weapons transfers to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The last reported Israeli strike in Syria, on October 31, targeted numerous Hezbollah targets in Syria’s south.

In the October alleged attack, Syrian media reported that up to a dozen Israeli war planes conducted the mission close to the Lebanon-Syria border in the Qalamoun Mountains region. Estimated targets included a weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah fighters traveling through Syria.

The alleged attack on Wednesday night would be the second attributed to Israel since Russia began operating in the area.

Israel has reportedly struck Hezbollah in Syria several times over the past year.                    (Jerusalem Post)

Security forces: Israeli Arab carried out October stabbing attack in Eilat

An Israeli Arab from the Wadi Ara city of Umm al-Fahm has been arrested for a late October stabbing attack in Eilat, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) cleared for publication on Thursday.

The suspect, named by the ISA as Nidal Yusef Yunes Jabarin, aged 24, allegedly stabbed and lightly wounded a woman in the city on October 29th, after “he had been influenced by videos of stabbing attacks which have been published recently,” the Shin Bet said in a statement on Thursday.

Jabarin, had been living in recent years in Eilat, the Shin Bet added. He was not known to security forces prior to the incident.

The stabbing on October 29th took place across from a grocery store on Golani Brigade Street in the city. Police at the time said a man had stabbed and lightly wounded a local woman with a small paring knife before fleeing on foot.

Hours later Jabarin was arrested not far from the scene of the crime after dozens of detectives, Border Police officers, and IDF Special Forces soldiers fanned out across the small southern Israel city.

Police announced the arrest at the time, but said that same night that they were unable to determine for certain if the stabbing was criminal or nationalist. The Southern District Police secured a gag order on the case that same night, and no further details were published until Thursday.

Southern District police said in their statement on Thursday that Jabarin has confessed to the crime and that in the coming days they expect him to be indicted for the attack.       (Jerusalem Post)

Bloody October: 11 killed in 609 attacks

Eleven people were killed and 80 wounded during a bloody month that also saw 609 attacks carried out, according to data on the wave of terror published by the Shin Bet on Wednesday.

According to the statistics, which cover the month of October, the deadly terror attacks took place in Jerusalem, the West Bank and areas inside the Green Line. Among the dead were 10 Israelis and one foreign citizen.

Among the wounded, 26 were Israelis (18 civilians and 18 members of security forces) who were moderately injured or worse.

The statistics also showed that four Israelis were killed in shooting attacks, five in shooting and stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and one in a vehicular attack.

The Shin Bet’s data also showed that four terror attacks were carried out by Jews: two arson attacks on Palestinian vehicles and two stabbing attacks.

The breakdown of the data on terror attacks revealed that 11 of them occurred in the area of the Gaza Strip (compared to four in September), 485 in the West Bank (151 in September), 117 in Jerusalem (68 in September) and seven in areas inside the Green Line (compared to none in September).

The attacks that came from the Gaza Strip included five incidents of rocket fire (seven rockets in total), four incidents of sniper fire, one incident of an anti-tank missile being fired and one incident of a Molotov cocktail being thrown.

The Jerusalem and West Bank-based attacks included 36 stabbings, 23 shootings with a light weapon, 57 incidents involving an explosive device, three vehicular attacks, one explosion of a gas canister and 482 incidents of Molotov cocktail-throwing.

Inside the Green Line, six stabbings attacks occurred along with one shooting with a light weapon.                       (Ynet News)

Father of five thanks terror attack for saving his life

“The terror attack I underwent saved my life.” So said Daniel Cohen, a 31-year-old father of five daughters. A resident of Rishon LeTzion, Cohen was stabbed by a Palestinian Muslim terrorist last week in an attack; an 80-year-old woman was also hurt in that attack, as was another Israeli.

Cohen’s story took a surprising turn for the better, however, when doctors operating on him detected a potentially life-threatening tumor in his colon – and removed it.

The Israeli news site NRG reports that Cohen said, “The Creator brought me this operation in order to save my life, and in addition, the attack itself was miraculous in that I was not hurt in any vital organs. I have received my life as a present from all directions.”

A smiling Cohen, a kashrut inspector who is now resting in his parents’ home, told the story on Radio Kol Chai: “I was in the central bus station waiting for a bus to take me to the next eatery that I was to check. Nothing seemed suspicious, but suddenly the terrorist attacked me and choked me. I felt my neck about to break. He took out a knife and tried to behead me, and then he tried for my throat. But I turned my head, and he got me in my jaw. He threw me to the floor and stabbed me along my left side, in the chest, shoulder, and stomach.”

Cohen was not ready to give up, however: “I grabbed his leg and tried to stand. I punched him, but I couldn’t get the knife away from him. Someone tried to throw a garbage can in our direction, and then the terrorist ran away… I was in a very bad state. I ran up to a bus and rapped on the door, and the driver quickly let me in. Some passengers tried to stop my bleeding but… I started to say Shma Yisrael.”

A Magen David Adom (Red Jewish Star) ambulance and crew arrived and took him to the nearest hospital – Assaf HaRofeh in Be’er Yaakov. He underwent a four-hour operation, which not only succeeded, but enabled the doctors to find a tumor in his large intestine that he did not know about.

Cohen admitted that “lately I had felt some pains in that area, but I didn’t have time to deal with it. The attack simply saved my life.”

A resident of Bnei Brak, Cohen said that his wife originally took the new situation “pretty hard,” but “especially now, simple faith carries the day. A person doesn’t imagine to himself what could happen as a result of being stabbed.”

The attack occurred last Monday when a 20-year-old terrorist from Hebron stabbed a woman on the main street in Rishon LeTzion, Herzl Ave., and then ran further down the street and stabbed Cohen. He then continued into a store, where he found himself trapped inside by an alert female passerby.         (Arutz Sheva)

ISIS in Sinai threatens to attack Israel

Islamic State released a new video Tuesday threatening to attack Israel, but did not reveal when the attack would take place.

“The video is focused on the war against the Egyptian military.

The threat to Israel comes at the end, where it says that they will reach the Jews,” Rafael Green, director of the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), said on Wednesday.

Expressing the terrorist group’s intention to attack Israel at an unspecified time, the speaker quoted the well-known hadith: “Judgment Day will not come until you fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and trees will call, ‘O Muslim, o servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews.’”

The 14-minute video “And Then They Will Be Vanquished,” a response to the Egyptian army’s recently launched Operation Martyr’s Right, should be taken seriously, but needs to be put into proportion, said Green.

The speaker is a masked gunman who urges Egyptian soldiers to repent or be killed for attacking jihadists in Sinai. He claimed that the army is trying to push out the local population in order to defend Israel.

The speaker threatens Israel, saying that the jihadists have not forgotten it, in spite of their current focus on the war against the Egyptian government.

He vows that his group will resume its attacks on Israel “soon.”

He also vows that Islamic State will lead the Islamic nation, which will “rise up and uproot you [the Jews].”

“He warns them that the mujahedin will penetrate deep into the territory of the ‘tyrants,’ hinting at planned operations within Egypt itself, rather than in the Sinai Peninsula,” notes the report.

“Indeed, this apostate army has failed to carry out the mission it was tasked with, and was embarrassed in front of the public and in front of its masters,” he declares.

These messages were spoken as footage of civilians allegedly killed by the Egyptian army and blown-up tanks and dead Egyptian soldier were shown.

The speaker vows that his group will raise its flag over the Cairo Tower, a famous Cairo landmark.

In the summer, Islamic State threatened to turn the Gaza Strip into another of their Middle East fiefdoms, accusing Hamas of being insufficiently stringent about religious enforcement.

The video statement, issued from an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, was a rare public challenge to Hamas, which has been cracking down on jihadists in Gaza. Islamic State opposes Hamas’s truces with Israel and reconciliation with the US-backed rival Palestinian faction Fatah.

“We will uproot the state of the Jews. You and Fatah, and all of the secularists are nothing.

You will be overrun by our creeping multitudes,” said a masked Islamic State member in the message addressed to the “tyrants of Hamas.”    (Jerusalem Post)

Lawmakers work on legislation to deal with imprisoning child terrorists

Lawmakers worked on bills to lower the minimum age for a prison sentence, after Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Pisgat Ze’ev, committed by 12 and 13 year olds.

Currently, minors under the age of 14 cannot be sent to prison, though some are sent to a home for troubled youth.

MK Anat Berko (Likud) submitted her bill on Monday, before the attack happened, and asked that the legislative process for it be accelerated.

The legislation proposes that the minimum age for a prison sentence be waived in cases of minors who commit crimes with a nationalist motive.

According to Berko, a professor of criminology whose expertise is in Palestinian suicide bombings, more young minors are likely to be recruited to commit acts of terrorism.

“The recruiters take advantage of the loophole in the law, knowing that the children won’t be sent to prison,” she stated. “Even the children know that, so it is easier to convince them to go out and attack.”

Berko called to “urgently stop the loophole that could cost human lives.”                                 (Jerusalem Post)

New IAF drone’s star set to rise

Drone[1]

The Hermes 900 drone

The Israeli Air Force introduced a new unmanned aerial vehicle into its operational lineup Tuesday, in a move a senior officer said would “revolutionize the drone world.”

The Hermes 900 Kochav (“Star”), which became operational this week, is a medium-size multi-payload unmanned aerial vehicle, designed for long-endurance tactical reconnaissance, surveillance, and communications missions.

Manufactured by Elbit Systems, the Hermes 900 can remain airborne for over 30 hours, and can fly at an altitude of 30,000 feet.

The innovative drone is equipped, among other things, with state of the art electro-optical and infrared sensors, synthetic aperture radar capabilities, and advanced communications and electronic intelligence systems.

The Hermes 900 is the first drone included in the IAF’s UAV lineup in 16 years, and it means to improve on its predecessor, the Hermes 450, an advanced drone that can remain airborne for 20 hours.

A military source said that the Hermes 900 was first used during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, when the IAF decided to put the then still-under-development UAV to the test, which it passed with flying colors.                                 (Israel Hayom)

Prehistoric ‘Stonehenge’ monument in Golan Heights fuels mystery

Driving past it, one of the most mysterious structures in the Middle East is easy to miss. The prehistoric stone monument went unnoticed for centuries in a bare expanse of field on the Golan Heights.

After Israel captured the territory from Syria in a 1967 war, archaeologists studying an aerial survey spotted a pattern of stone circles not visible from the ground. Subsequent excavations revealed it was one of the oldest and largest structures in the region.

Known as Rujm el-Hiri in Arabic, meaning the “stone heap of the wild cat”, the complex has five concentric circles, the largest more than 500 feet (152 m) wide, and a massive burial chamber in the middle. Its Hebrew name Gilgal Refaim, or “wheel of giants”, refers to an ancient race of giants mentioned in the Bible.

It is up to 5,000 years old, according to most estimates, making it a contemporary of England’s Stonehenge. Unlike the more famous monument built with about 100 huge stones topped by lintels, the Golan structure is made of piles of thousands of smaller basalt rocks that together weigh over 40,000 tons.

“It’s an enigmatic site. We have bits of information, but not the whole picture,” said Uri Berger, an expert on megalithic tombs with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Stone[1]

“Scientists come and are amazed by the site and think up their own theories.”

No one knows who built it, he said. Some think it might have been a nomadic civilization that settled the area, but it would have required a tremendous support network that itinerants might not have had.

There could be an astrological significance. On the shortest and longest days of the year – the June and December solstices – the sunrise lines up with openings in the rocks, he said.

Standing on the ground inside the complex, it looks like a labyrinth of crumbling stone walls overgrown with weeds. From on top of the five-meter-high burial mound, it is possible to make out a circular pattern. Only from the air does the impressive shape of a massive bull’s-eye clearly emerge.

Shards of pottery and flint tools were found in various excavations to help date the site, Berger said. Scholars generally agree that construction started as early as 3,500 BC and other parts may have been added to over the next two thousand years.

The complex is in an area now used for training by Israel’s military, but visitors can explore the walls and crawl into the 20-foot-long burial chamber on weekends and holidays.

(Jerusalem Post)

Europe’s settlement product labeling hurts Palestinians, not Israelis

by Dan  Diker                 The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/landedpages/printarticle.aspx?id=432607

Ironically, Palestinian-backed boycott activism against Israel threatens to destabilize the Palestinian Authority.

The European Union’s recent decision to label products manufactured in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank is not merely a technical move as EU officials have claimed. Their intention seems clear enough: to draw European and global consumer attention to these products as a first step in boycotting them. European governments mistakenly believe that labeling and boycotting Israeli products manufactured in Jewish settlements will cause economic pain to Israeli businesses over the green line and cause them to fail. Politically, many European leaders and their political class believe that boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) will logically bring Israel to leave the settlements altogether and return to the 1949 armistice lines (1967 “borders”) thereby paving the way for a Palestinian state along these lines.

Their logic is misguided.

In fact, the newly approved EU labeling policy and Europe’s well known sympathy for BDS have already yielded unintended consequences. Labeling and boycotts have had minimal effects on Jewish settlement economics; instead, BDS harms the Palestinian economy. It has already resulted in the termination of hundreds of Palestinian employees of the public company Soda Stream that operates along with several hundred other companies in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Zone some 15 minutes outside of Jerusalem. Some 4,000 Palestinians are employed there. BDS provocations against Soda Stream brought corporate management to move the company’s factory from Mishor Adumim to the Negev. The BDS cost: Close to 1,000 Palestinian workers, who had earned some 5,000 to 6,000 shekels monthly plus all Israeli worker benefits that are protected by Israeli law, lost well-paying employment. Those newly unemployed Palestinian workers will now need to seek employment in Palestinian cities of the West Bank at a monthly salary of some 1,500 shekels without social or medical benefits.

Soda Stream CEO Daniel Birnbaum has lashed out at BDS antics, telling the British Guardian recently, “It’s propaganda.

It’s politics. It’s hate. It’s anti-Semitism.” Birnbaum also noted that Soda Stream was only marginally economically affected by BDS. Therein lies Europe’s miscalculation. Their labeling and ongoing BDS pressure has had a negligible outcome on Israeli settlement businesses. However, it has had a deleterious effect on tens of thousands of Palestinian workers and their families who depend on Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in the West Bank’s Area C industrial zones.

Palestinian affairs analyst Pinchas Inbari reminds us that the possible snowball effect of BDS actions and Palestinian workers and managers losing their jobs can incite destabilization of the Palestinian Authority. The PA has led vociferous public BDS campaigns, particularly of late. One remembers former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad’s calls to burn settlement products.

Growing Palestinian economic frustrations can easily trigger a “Palestinian Spring” as economic grievances triggered the Islamic revolutions in Libya, Egypt Syria, Tunisia and Sudan.

Soda Stream may well be only the beginning of a tsunami of Palestinian unemployment. It characterizes a larger BDS threat. Tens of thousands of Palestinians are employed in hundreds of factories in some eight industrial zones in Area C of the West Bank that falls under Israeli control according to the Oslo interim accords.

Saad Shaher, the head of the Palestinian professional association in the West Bank, publicly called on PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas in an emotional plea on Palestinian television to avoid causing the closing the West Bank industrial zones before a suitable alternative is found.

Shaher’s calls apparently fell on deaf ears. What is likely to happen is that if the current BDS campaign rolls forward and the EU product labeling generates BDS momentum as can be expected, tens of thousands of Palestinian workers and their families will lose their jobs and ensuing Palestinian anger and frustration will be directed at the PA in Ramallah.

European leaders would be well advised to consider that their enthusiasm for settlement product labeling and support for BDS is not seriously affecting Israeli settlements.

Rather its hurting Palestinians working in the West Bank industrial zones. Ironically, Palestinian-backed boycott activism against Israel threatens to destabilize the Palestinian Authority.

The author is a Fellow and project director, Political Warfare, at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Previously, he served as secretary general of the World Jewish Congress.

Brussels Embraces the Anti-Israel Label

Officials need to step back and ask why such a double standard is once again being tolerated in the European Union.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/brussels-embraces-the-anti-israel-label-1447273331

by  Moshe Kantor                    The Wall Street Journal

It’s long been said that one of the cornerstones of Europe is fairness. Many politicians here often talk about giving people “a fair chance” in life. But now it seems we’ve reached the limits of that fairness, and it ends at Israel.

On Wednesday the European Union began implementing a labeling regime that requires the clear identification of certain products made in the West Bank. It’s now no longer enough to say where these products came from, as with products from anywhere else in the world. The labels must now also show whether the goods came from an “Israeli settlement.” Officials claim that this is meant to target what they view as Israel’s “occupation,” but what this really does is differentiate and discriminate between goods produced by two peoples living and working in the same territory.

There are strong factual and legal arguments to be made against this designation. For one, these measures restrict Israel’s trade, in violation of numerous multilateral treaties, including the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.

But there is also an inconsistency in the application of this designation. Not only does the EU not penalize any other nation for what may be deemed to be an occupation, but it actually profits from some of them.

Last year, for instance, the EU signed an agreement with Morocco extending their fisheries treaties into Western Sahara. The Moroccans have been accused of occupying that region and conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous people there. Yet the agreement allows the EU and Morocco to profit from this occupation.

In northern Cyprus, the EU provides direct grants and funds to the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It even offers an aid program to Turkish Cypriots, even though the Turkish invasion and transfer of its population has been condemned by the United Nations.

If there were substantial or legal differences between these cases and Israel’s, the EU surely would have been forthcoming with them. But no explanation has ever been or could be given.

There is, however, one crucial difference that the EU appears to ignore.

The EU, being a signatory and witness to the agreements in the Israel-Palestinian peace process, has made a commitment that no steps should be taken to change the status of the territory or predetermine the outcome of negotiations. The EU has made no such legal commitment to any other conflict in the world. One would therefore have expected the EU to take a more balanced, equitable and fair approach to its relationship with Israel.

This is a sad indictment of a union that was created in part to free itself from the conflicts and prejudices of the past. Seventy years ago, another double standard existed, when Jewish businesses in Europe were deliberately singled out and labeled, giving rise to a certain sensitivity among the Jewish people toward such actions. Those in the EU who are now pressing for labels on products made by Jews should step back and ask why such a double standard is once again being tolerated.

The EU needs to see sense and return to playing a constructive role in the much sought-after peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It must not take unilateral and possibly illegal measures against one side of the conflict and single out one people in the world. That’s not only unfair, it’s clearly discriminatory.

Mr. Kantor is the president of the European Jewish Congress.

A call for unity and outrage

by Isi Leibler                  The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/CANDIDLY-SPEAKING-A-call-for-unity-and-outrage-432730

The world is experiencing a clash of civilizations, with satanic forces seeking to revert to the Dark Ages. In this context, the behavior of the Palestinians has now descended to such barbaric depths that in a rational world, Israel should have the unequivocal support of all civilized people.

However, hypocritical global leaders, devoid of moral compass, have abandoned us. They relate to Israel and those seeking its destruction with moral equivalence and opportunistically collaborate with rogue states.

Moral relativism has paved the way for a realpolitik in the democratic world which no longer relates to concepts like good and evil.

George Orwell undoubtedly could have devoted another book to the doublespeak adopted in relation to Israel. Global leaders are not merely indifferent to the fact that innocent Israeli citizens are targeted for assassination by youngsters transformed into frenzied religious lunatics by their leaders. They even condemn Israelis for defending themselves.

Western leaders refuse to recognize that in the same way the Nazis successfully transformed Germany into a society endorsing genocide, Palestinian leaders have inculcated children, from kindergarten onward, with the notion that being killed in the process of murdering Jews is the highest form of religious martyrdom.

Our “peace partner,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, “blesses the blood” shed in killing Jews, glorifies debased murderers, and provides millions of dollars of funds received from foreign governments as monthly salaries to those murderers in jail and pensions for their families. The bloodlust generated by frenzied lies about Jews threatening to destroy al-Aksa mosque and substituting it with a Jewish Temple is promoted through the mosques, schools, media and Facebook and via other social media.

Yet while mayhem prevails in the Middle East, as millions of people have been displaced from their homes and hundreds of thousands have been butchered, the European Union carries a resolution effectively paving the way for sanctions against Israeli products produced over the Green Line. It is a shocking reflection on the cynicism of Europeans, whose soil was drenched with Jewish blood during the Holocaust, that they so cravenly betray Israel, the only democratic state in the Middle East – an oasis of tranquility in a sea of barbarism, which is surrounded by neighbors openly baying for its destruction.

Even the president of the United States, our purported ally, contributes toward this poison by calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and chairman Mahmoud Abbas to reduce the incitement.

Israel is on the front lines and must seek more effective means of publicizing the fact that the current Palestinian Authority is a criminal regime that promotes a culture of death – a barbaric society whose feral hatred of Jews and Israel is on a par with Hamas and Islamic State.

We must repeat again and again that the Arab-Israel conflict is not a dispute between two peoples over land. The reality is that the Palestinian Authority (no less than Hamas) adamantly refuses to recognize Jewish sovereignty, as evidenced when both Yasser Arafat and Abbas even declined to make counteroffers when prime minister Ehud Barak and subsequently prime minister Ehud Olmert offered 97 percent of the territories previously occupied by the Jordanians.

In order to make the world understand, Israel must focus on two issues: national unity and a far more aggressive presentation of our narrative and exposure of the criminal nature of our adversaries.

National unity is crucial and will immensely strengthen us. It is scandalous that in the current circumstances, our government operates on the basis of a hairline majority of one, virtually neutralizing any flexibility of the prime minister.

The fact is that today there is a genuine consensus among Israeli Jews, the vast majority of whom believe that to annex the territories and absorb millions of additional Arabs would result in a binational state and the end of the Zionist dream. In addition, with the absence of a peace treaty and security, there is also firm opposition to ceding additional territories to the corrupt PA whose hatred of Israel is indistinguishable from Hamas, which in the absence of the IDF would in all likelihood have assumed control over territories.

Even the prominent left-wing ideologue Professor Shlomo Avineri and one of the key architects of the Oslo Accords, Dr. Yossi Beilin, admit that those proposals no longer apply as the PA’s present leadership has proven to be utterly opposed to the existence of a sovereign Jewish state. There is also a broad consensus concerning the disastrous agreement consummated by the Obama administration with Iran.

Under these circumstances, the Zionist political parties should unite to face the challenges. Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog, Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman all share ambitions to become prime minister. But now, if they share any concern for the national interest, they should temporarily set aside their personal ambitions and unite. Likewise, Prime Minister Netanyahu should make every effort to enable them to join his government with dignity.

Needless to say, Herzog, Lapid and Liberman would actually enhance their status with voters if they demonstrated a willingness to act in the national interest during these critical times instead of behaving like petty feuding politicians.

A unity government would curtail the continuous calls on Netanyahu to be more accommodating when he has already reached a total stalemate with the duplicitous Abbas. No other opposition leader has a realistic formula for moving beyond Netanyahu’s current policies until such time as Palestinian leaders arise who are genuinely committed to coexistence. This is currently not on the horizon. Indeed, Netanyahu has ceded far beyond what the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had repeatedly personally pledged were red lines which he would not cross.

A unity government would largely neutralize the poisonous propaganda emanating from delusional Israeli and Jewish leftists who, despite being fringe elements, inflict tremendous damage on Israel’s standing by dismissing all of Netanyahu’s policies as emanating from the extreme Right.

Such a government would also unite Jews in the Diaspora, many of whom are reeling under the pressures they face and would be reassured that their support for Israel is not for a narrow government or right-wing group, but effectively endorses the will of the nation.

The second component is a need for the government to revolutionize foreign policy and cooperate with Jews and friends of Israel to promote Israel’s narrative, which is distorted by Arabs and extreme leftist propaganda.

The Palestinians’ cult of death and their ongoing determination to destroy Israel must be exposed; they are the underlying reasons why negotiations are doomed to fail in the foreseeable future, despite the fact that Israel has undertaken to conduct talks without preconditions.

We must also repeatedly expose the hypocrisy and double standards displayed by Western nations.

Many may argue that it is not worth the effort because the power of the Arab bloc, anti-Semitism and the prevailing cynical and immoral approach adopted by most Western countries in relation to foreign policy which, it is claimed, will transcend truth and morality.

Yet ultimately truth is invariably vindicated and we must exert major efforts to prevent our narrative from being distorted and ensure that our own future generations retain their national pride and appreciate the morality of our cause.

Let us be clear: Israel is confronted by painful challenges.

But don’t be influenced by the prophets of doom. Life goes on in Israel. We have faced far greater threats in the past and overcome them. Terrorism dates back long before the state was even established and has never ceased.

We must also retain a sense of perspective. While each casualty is a human tragedy that impacts on the entire nation, far more Israelis are killed in road accidents than by terrorist attacks. It is also important to be assured that Israel has never been as strong as it is today and has the capacity of defending itself and deterring the combined forces of all the barbarians seeking our destruction.

How Bad is Israel’’s Wave of Violence?

http://www.momentmag.com/how-bad-is-israels-wave-of-violence/

by Mark Lavie              Moment Magazine

“This is the worst situation Israel has faced in decades,” said a worried and angry friend, repeating an assessment he’d heard. That was a few hours after I arrived in Baltimore on Oct. 21, straight from the “front” in Israel, about three weeks after Palestinians began attacking Israelis, mostly in stabbings.

While there must be no dismissal or flippancy about the killing of Israelis, there is a need to put this series of attacks into its proper perspective.

A few days before flying to the U.S., I was on an Israeli TV news program talking about media coverage, and the two anchors did what I have done so often that my wife covers her ears­they compared the death toll from the terrorist attacks to the death toll on Israel’s highways during the same period. At that time, they said, it was terrorists: 12, highways: 19.

Local Israeli reporting has gone off the deep end. After the first two attacks in quick succession­the shooting deaths of a couple in the West Bank in front of their children and the fatal stabbing of two men in the Old City of Jerusalem­Israeli TV channels quickly labeled the affair a “wave of terror” and started expanded newscasts, reporting every attack in breathless and intimate detail.

That’s totally predictable in Israel, which is a bipolar society in many ways. As a whole, people believe that the situation is either wonderful or awful, with little middle ground. Historical perspective is not found often in day-to-day discourse in Israel. It comes, if at all, only later.

Such overblown rhetoric is not justified­at least, not yet. The sad fact is that attacks like these are not uncommon in normal times, if there is such a thing. Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli vehicles in the West Bank practically every day. Firebombs are not uncommon. Palestinians are often caught with knives or pipe bombs in their bags at checkpoints, and there are frequent attempted stabbings of soldiers and police.

There are two differences this time: Palestinians are targeting civilians along with soldiers and police, and­just as important­the incidents are being reported. In those so-called normal times, such attacks don’t make the news, even local news, unless someone is seriously injured or killed. The reporting itself has blown this wave of violence out of proportion.

Let’s be clear. This is far from the worst wave of violence Israel has had to deal with, even in this century. It’s not a “third intifada.” References to the past are the standard human way of dealing with troubling events of the present. That said, a wave of stabbing attacks amounts to much, much less than the two Palestinian uprisings, which were actual “waves of terror.”

As a radio correspondent, I was on the scene of the Palestinian atrocities of those two uprisings. I walked through the rubble of blown-up restaurants. I picked my way through the smoking skeletons of Jerusalem buses hit by suicide bombers. Thousands died in those two conflicts.

As of now, a dozen Israelis and 48 Palestinians labeled by Israel as attackers or would-be attackers have been killed in a wave of violence that has centered mostly on Jerusalem. Another 27 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank and on the Gaza border.

What’s happening now, painful as it might be, is not a threat to the existence of the Jewish state. It’s not a reason for people to cancel trips to Israel, and it’s not a reason for Israelis to stay off the streets or stop riding buses. Though some Israelis are showing that level of fear, most are just stepping up their vigilance while going about their regular daily lives­ the right response under the circumstances, despite the hysterical local media treatment.

Coverage in Western media, by contrast, has come under criticism in pro-Israel circles on two counts­the perception that Palestinian suffering his played up, while Palestinian attacks and Israeli victims are underplayed.

These are elements of a decades-long Western media over-emphasis of Israel and the Palestinians, far beyond the actual importance of their story. Three dozen fatalities in a month barely go noticed by general media anywhere else. As an illustration, here in Baltimore, 213 people were murdered in the first eight months of 2015. I haven’t seen any front-page articles about that outside Baltimore itself. So while one can ask why Western media coverage of Israeli-Palestinian violence is one-sided­ depending on one’s point of view­ one can also ask why there’s much coverage at all.

There is less overall coverage of this wave of violence than there has been in the past. That is easily explainable by the fact that there is a much larger and more important story developing in the Mideast­Syria, with its millions of refugees, hundreds of thousands of dead and active Russian involvement­ not to mention that there’s a presidential campaign underway in the U.S., soaking up much media attention.

That leaves less room in the media for the usual out-of-proportion obsession with Israel and the Palestinians­and that’s a good thing.

Mark Lavie has covered the Middle East as a foreign correspondent for more than 40 years. He is the author of Broken Spring.

Theater of the Palestine Solidarity Movement – Alex Ryvchin (Spectator-UK)

In Galway, Ireland, they stood huddled in the corner of the lecture theater whispering ominously. Then the leader surged forward, arms flailing, voice bellowing, clad in the colors of Palestine. Professor Alan Johnson, a respected political theorist and one of British Labour’s most astute thinkers, stoically continued his address. He presented his analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, unsparing in his criticism of both sides, and stated the progressive case for peace: two states for two peoples.

But the protesters weren’t there to engage with ideas, or to advance a negotiated, peaceful outcome to the conflict. They were there to “resist.” What they were resisting in that lecture theater on the western coast of the Irish Republic is not clear. But there they were. Seething Westerners draped in keffiyehs and kitschy woven Palestine bracelets, the essential uniform of today’s fearless “revolutionary.”

For the Israel-haters, Palestinians are helpless victims, totally without agency and therefore without fault. They exist only as an abstract construct of untarnished innocence, an idealized nation of goatherds and olive farmers. But this deception is only one half of the equation. To complete the resistance fantasy, one must conceive of a villain worth opposing, “the Zionist Jew” – an equally mythical figure, evil beyond redemption. If the traditional racist stereotype of the Jew is greedy, ruthless and cunning, wait till you meet the Zionist.

Yet Zionism is no more or less than the secular, national movement of the Jewish people. Like the national movement of the Palestinians, it sees the nation-state as the expression of a people’s right to self-determination. Israel has twice traded territory for peace treaties (with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994). It does not aspire to impose the religion of the majority on others. But fighting real Zionism, a people’s inalienable right to self-determination, hardly qualifies as the noble struggle about which self-righteous Westerners fantasize.

The anti-Israel movement is defined by symbolic acts that change nothing. Adherents celebrate when pro-forma anti-Israel resolutions are driven through hospitable forums and pop stars are intimidated into cancelling their gigs in Tel Aviv. How this improves the life of a single Palestinian has never been established.

The writer is the public affairs director for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW