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Latest News in Israel – 15th December

Eleven hurt in vehicular ramming attack near Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge

Eleven men, women and children were wounded – including a 15-month-old boy – in a vehicular terrorist attack carried out by an east Jerusalem Palestinian man who was shot dead in his car by police near the well-traveled Western entrance to the capital Thursday afternoon.

At approximately 3 p.m., the suspect, identified by Palestinian media as Abd al-Muhsam Hasuna, 24, of Beit Hanina, drove his white vehicle into a large group of pedestrians waiting at a bus stop on Herzl Street, adjacent to the iconic Chords Bridge, said Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

“Officers and security personnel patrolling the area responded immediately and neutralized the terrorist as he attempted to exit the car with an ax, killing him,” said Rosenfeld minutes following the attack.

“Of the 11 injuries, one victim is a 68-year-old woman, and another is an infant. Both are in moderate condition; the nine others are in light condition.”

Rosenfeld said all of the victims were treated at the scene by Magen David Adom and ZAKA paramedics before being rushed to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Facility and Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.

Attack[1]

Israel Radio reporter, Miri Krimolovsky, said she witnessed the assailant’s car jump the curb and plow down the group on the sidewalk, before police and security officers killed the terrorist.

“I was about to turn left to Tel Aviv, [when] suddenly a car went up onto a bus stop, shots were immediately fired,” she said. “There are people in the stop… A number of people simply lifted up the car because there were people underneath it.”

Rosenfeld said traffic was suspended in both directions for 90 minutes, as police cordoned off the area, which was flooded by an overturned fire hydrant, to investigate if the suspect acted alone or is part of a larger terrorist cell.

A search of the man’s badly damaged vehicle uncovered a metal hand ax with a green handle.

ZAKA volunteer Yossi Frankel said he was among the first responders after receiving an emergency call at 3 p.m.

“The terrorist ran his car into a bus stop, ramming a fire hydrant, which made it very difficult to work because of flooding,” said Frankel.

“I helped one male victim, who is between 30 and 40, who was conscious with light-to-moderate upper body wounds. A one-and-a-half-year-old baby was also seriously injured and taken to the hospital.”

At 6 p.m., Hadassah University Medical center spokeswoman Hadar Elboim said the infant boy, who has been placed on a ventilator, was rushed into surgery in the pediatric trauma unit in an attempt to save his leg from being amputated.

“He’s in surgery now and is in very serious condition,” said Elboim. “But if anyone knows how to deal with this, it’s the doctors in this unit. They had to take him directly into surgery; they couldn’t wait.”

While she did not know the boy’s name, she said the family is asking the public to pray for him.

Meanwhile, Elboim said the 10 remaining victims are all in light condition, and will likely be discharged by tomorrow morning.

Frankel said ZAKA volunteers transferred the terrorist’s body to an area police station for forensic analysis and testing.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the security forces and citizens who helped save lives, and prevent greater carnage.

“We are facing a new kind of terror, that of individuals,” he told his Likud faction. “This presents a challenge, not only to us, but the entire world. I have no doubt we will overcome [the challenge].”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also praised the people on the scene for acting quickly to subdue the terrorist and prevent further injuries, and urged residents to not allow terrorism to force them to live in fear.

“As soon as possible, we must get back to routine, not give them a [sense of] achievement,” he said. “With all the pain of those injured, we must do this.”

Since the Palestinian terror wave hit the capital and West Bank in the beginning of October, 19 Israelis and a US citizen have been killed by gunfire or knife attacks, while over 100 Palestinians have been killed for carrying out attacks or rioting.

A poll recently published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 67 percent of Arab respondents supported stabbing attacks against Israelis and that, if the attacks were increased, they “would serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not.”

In the meantime, Rosenfeld said police will continue to operate at the highest level of alert throughout the capital.                (Jerusalem Post)

IDF strikes two Hamas military targets in response to Gaza rocket fire

The Israel Air Force attacked two Hamas owned infrastructure sites Sunday night in retaliation to a Gazan rocket attack on Southern Israel a few hours earlier. There were no injuries reported in the rocket strike.

The rocket triggered warning sirens warning sirens in Sderot and in the surrounding areas before exploding in an open area in the Sha’ar Hanegev Council.

Security forces launched a search of the area to locate the rocket’s remnants.

The IDF retaliation attack took place close to 1:00 a.m., striking two Hamas targets – one in the northern part of the strip and the second in the center.

The IDF said in a statement that it holds Hamas solely responsible for the happenings in Gaza, and vowed to “continue to act severely against any attempt to disturb the peace of communities in the South.”   (Jerusalem Post)

Survey: 60% of Palestinians support violent intifada against Israel

A new survey released by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah showed that a majority of Palestinian respondents support the current wave of terror stabbings and a violent intifada and oppose a two-state solution with Israel.

In the survey, consisting of 1397 adults throughout the West Bank and Gaza, 67 percent of respondents said they supported the use of knife terror attacks against Israelis. Almost three-quarters (73%) said they were against young school girls carrying out these attacks.

Another finding showed that 60% of those polled support an armed intifada and 66% think an escalation in violence would positively serve them.

A majority of respondents were opposed to a two-state solution with Israel (54%), an increase from three months ago when that same figure stood at 51%. Meanwhile, 70% were opposed to the idea of a one-state solution in which Arabs and Jews would have equal rights.

As far as coordination with Israel, 64% were in favor of forgoing the presence of Palestinian police in areas B and C of the West Bank if that meant there would be an end to security coordination with Israel.

Support for Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas also seemed to be quite low, with 65% of respondents in favor of him resigning. Likewise, 78% believed that PA institutions are corrupt.

In Gaza, 41% of respondents there said they were looking to emigrate, with Europe being the most favored destination.                 (Jerusalem Post)

IDF to send four more back-up battalions to West Bank

The IDF announced Sunday it would send four additional battalions to the West Bank, following an evaluation of the security situation.

The announcement comes two months after the IDF ordered four battalions to join existing military forces in the West Bank in the wake of ongoing Palestinian terrorism and rioting. The violence is not expected to abate anytime soon.

Two reserves battalion will be drafted as planned at the start of 2016 and be deployed to Judea and Samaria, and two conscripted battalions will enter the area as well, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said.

More steps to beef up security forces may occur in line with future evaluations, the military added.

By late October, it was clear to senior IDF commanders that Palestinian attacks are set to continue for a lengthy period, and they began making preparations accordingly.

“We are preparing for this to continue,” one senior source from the Home Front Command, which deploys battalions to the West Bank, told The Jerusalem Post in late October. “It won’t pass in two days. This can escalate and decrease in strength. We have to be prepared. It can go in any number of directions. We have to be ready for all scenarios.” (Jerusalem Post)

PM: Israel will do its part to combat global warming

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the climate agreement signed in Paris on Saturday night “important,” and said Israel – like all other countries in the world – has an interest in slowing down global warming, and pledged that Israel “will contribute its part.”

Netanyahu pointed out that Israel is leading in developing technology for wastewater purification technologies, recycling and desalinating water. In addition, he said, Israel has a plan for alternatives to oil in transportation.

The prime minister, who along with scores of other leaders attended the opening of the climate change conference earlier this month, said at the outset of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting that Israel would “reduce greenhouse gas emissions on behalf of future generations.”

In September, the government approved a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030.

The NIS 500 million program calls for NIS 300m. in financial support to companies over the next four years so that they can invest in energy efficiency.

It also called for an increase in renewable energy to 17% of the total energy production, a 17% reduction in electricity consumption and an improvement in public transportation that will result in 20% reduction in private vehicle usage.

Netanyahu said that halting global warming is a “complex international mission. It is built on the premise that large and small countries alike will not deviate from it. This demands international discipline, which is not easy, but for the good of humanity, I hope that it will be found. It will certainly be found in Israel.”

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, who represented the country at the talks, said Israel hopes to reduce pollution caused by vehicles, move to renewable energy and save more energy.

Gabbay, before the cabinet meeting, told reporters that Israel supported the agreement and was part of the negotiations.   (Jerusalem Post)

Civilian security guards deployed at Jerusalem bus stations

Aiming to prevent terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Transportation Minister Israel Katz launched a civilian security unit on Sunday that will be stationed along public transportation routes around the capital.

In its first phase, the 300-person unit includes security guards, former combat soldiers and dozens of special security vehicles, which will operate along traffic arteries and between public transportation stops during all bus operation hours, the Transportation Ministry said.

The guards have been equipped with uniforms, handguns, walkie-talkies and certificates issued by the Israel Police – authorizing them to conduct body and luggage searches as well as detain suspicious parties, the ministry added.

“Your mission is to act with decisiveness and responsibility,” Katz told the guards on Sunday. “On one hand, with decisiveness to prevent in every way possible all injuries or threats to public transportation passengers, and on the other hand, to act responsibly.”

The unit, which was established with the approval of the security cabinet, will be conducting both undercover operations and activities out in the open, according to the ministry. Members of the unit were specially recruited, and all have passed rigorous screening exams and have undergone specialized professional training in shooting, krav maga self-defense, identifying suspects and first aid.

“The essence of preparation and correct operation of the security guard can reduce the threat to a minimum and even prevent it,” Katz said.         (Jerusalem Post)

Pollard appeals to ease parole conditions

Former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard’s attorneys will ask Judge Katherine Forrest of the US District Court in New York Monday to ease the conditions of his parole from prison.

Pollard was allowed to leave his North Carolina cell on November 20 after serving 30 years of his life sentence for conspiracy to commit espionage without intent to harm the United States. He moved to New York City, where he is living with his wife, Esther.

His parole conditions require him to wear an electronic ankle bracelet at all times for GPS tracking of his whereabouts and to be subjected to unfettered monitoring and inspection of his computers and those of his employer.

Not only can he not move to Israel as he desires, he cannot leave his home before 7 a.m. or come home after 7 p.m.

The parole conditions have put in limbo an offer Pollard received to become a research analyst in the finance department of a respected investment firm. Pollard, 61, suffers from chronic leg and ankle swelling, which makes the ankle bracelet problematic to his health. The bracelet also requires violating the Jewish Sabbath.

The American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists wrote US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch last week, urging the Department of Justice to accept a request by Pollard to relocate to Israel, or alternatively, to ease his parole restrictions by eliminating ankle or leg monitoring and home and employment computer surveillance. In its letter, the organization expressed concern that Pollard’s parole restrictions interfered with his ability to practice his religion, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“Mr. Pollard has expressed remorse for his actions, has been a model prisoner during the entire term of his incarceration, and is now aging and in deteriorating health,” AAJLJ president Alyza Lewin wrote. “There is no reasonable probability that Mr. Pollard will commit any future crimes. The interests of our country and the interests of justice would best be served if the Department of Justice were promptly to consent to any request by Mr. Pollard to unite with his wife and move to Israel.”

Sources close to the Pollard case said there were no plans for him to meet in New York with Israeli leaders visiting the city, such as President Reuven Rivlin or Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

When he was paroled, Rivlin released a statement saying that “throughout the years, our pain was Pollard’s pain.”

Barkat tweeted a picture of Pollard and Esther along with the words “Waiting for you in Jerusalem.”               (Jerusalem Post)

Danon to ‘Post’: UN quietly admires Israel, but publicly bashes it

Two months after taking office as ambassador to the UN, former minister of science, technology and space Danny Danon seems to have found his bearings.

“I have been in the position for two months but it feels like two years,” he told The Jerusalem Post, sitting on the leather couch of his office in the Israeli Consulate in New York, located on a block of Second Avenue renamed “Yitzhak Rabin Way.”

When asked about his first impressions on the job, Danon said there is “a public UN and a quiet UN.”

“During the day, I have many meetings with ambassadors and officials and quietly you see that there is a lot of appreciation, I would even say admiration for Israel,” he explained.

However, he said, publicly, the UN exhibits a strong anti-Israel bias.

“There are many countries whose sole mission at the UN is to bash Israel,” he said.

“We are fighting against hundreds of people who wake up in the morning and think: What can we do to bash Israel at the UN?” Danon added that he found the Jewish state to always be at the center of discussions and that most reports coming out of the international body, regardless of the issue they relate to, contain a section about Israel.

“It’s very hard living in New York, which is a semi-Jewish city, and walking to the UN,” he said. “In New York, you feel the support of Jews and non- Jews alike, but when you walk into the UN it’s a different ballgame.”

Although he doesn’t believe the UN’s support will come overnight, Danon thinks it is important to look at the “moral quality” of those voting with Israel rather than the number of countries doing so.

“When you look at the UN the way it was built 70 years ago, it was with good intentions, but the strong democracies are not in charge in the UN and there is a majority of small countries, most of them are not democratic, who have the control.”

Since the beginning of his term in the international body, Danon has engaged in what he calls a blame game with his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Mansour, at a time when Palestinian stabbing attacks and shootings reached a peak in Israel.

“He blamed Israel and I blamed him for the incitement, and he blamed us for ‘harvesting’ the terrorists’ bodies, then I blamed him for blood libel,” he detailed. “The blaming game will continue, but at the same time we have to create and generate activity that will show other sides of Israel.”

Showing “other sides of Israel” is part of Danon’s diplomatic plan at the United Nations.

He believes Israel needs to engage both in defense and offense.

“In terms of defense, I believe in zero tolerance,” he said. “When someone is lying, we will call it, we will chase it, we will fight it.

“In terms of the offense, we want to be active at the UN,” he explained.

Danon’s team at the Israeli mission has organized several events in recent weeks touching upon topics ranging from water technology to Jewish refugees from Arab lands and the commemoration of Kristallnacht.

“Every time we generate activities, people look at what we’re doing. It shows that we are a strong player in the UN,” he said.

This month, Danon is the chairman of the Western European and Others Group at the world body, and plans to use this position to illustrate Israel’s engagement at the UN.

“It’s a marathon. It looks like a boxing ring sometimes, but it’s more of a marathon because there is no knockout here. You have to keep up,” he told the Post.

As the conflict with the Palestinians has been put on center stage both at the General Assembly and especially at the Security Council, which held several sessions on the issue in recent weeks, Danon called on Israel’s allies and “those who want to get involved” to stop supporting Palestinians in these forums.

“The more easy victories they will have in the UN, the harder it will be to promote the negotiations,” he said. “For example, they had a celebration about raising their flag here. So what? It’s not helping the lives of the Palestinians and I think it’s actually creating the opposite [result].”

When asked about the argument that Israeli settlements are what blocks the advance toward peace negotiations, Danon answered that he just “can’t accept it.”

“I don’t think that the fact that you have a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria is the reason for the conflict, and the situation in Gaza is the best example for that,” he said.

“We uprooted Jewish families and we haven’t received a new peaceful neighbor. The very presence of Jews in the Land of Israel is not accepted since 1948 by many countries in the UN, by the Palestinians.

“Settlements are being used against Israel. I don’t think that it’s a main cause. I think our enemies will find other explanations to fight against us,” he added.

Danon also addressed last month’s decision by the European Union to allow the labeling of products made in the West Bank to signify that they were not made in Israel, saying it is “unacceptable.”

In light of the German government’s decision to back the resolution after Israel sought its help in convincing EU member states to reject it, Danon said he supports the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I think his argument is very valid: We expect from countries who work with us and with whom the bilateral relationship is very good, to have the same kind of relationship [with Israel] also within international organizations like the UN or the EU,” the ambassador said.

“It is unacceptable that you have a very good relationship with Israel, but when it comes to an international organization you don’t care and you support the group that you belong to. That’s something that we will work hard to change.

“Some members in the EU will work with Israel privately and quietly, but when it comes to an international organization, including the UN, they won’t be on our side,” he said. “They know who is to blame here and maybe they have to pay a price for doing so, but when you have evil against good forces, you have to choose the good forces.”

Danon told the Post he believes that by the end his term at the United Nations, “the way Israel is seen will be different.

“We will not convince our enemies. The enemies will ignore the reality and they will be full of hatred,” he said. “But I think we need to convince many countries in the middle and move them from the position where they are to being fair and looking at the facts. It is not easy but I think it is possible.”               (Jerusalem Post)

Ukrainian government returns Torahs confiscated by Communists

They came dancing into the Brodsky Choral Synagogue, a giant Romanesque building in downtown Kiev, tallit-covered Torah scrolls in their arms. Some 80 years after the communist rulers of what was then a Soviet republic confiscated the holy books in a crackdown on religious freedom, senior administration officials and lawmakers brought them back.

Thursday’s delegation included Boris Lozhkin, the director-general of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine; Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko; Oleg Lyashko, leader of the Radical Party; and 70 parliamentarians.

“I am proud to return these Torah scrolls to the Jewish community. They belong to you,” Petrenko told attendees, including community leaders and Israeli Ambassador Eliav Belotserkovsky.

Thursday’s ceremony comes only weeks before President Petro Poroshenko is expected to arrive in Jerusalem for a state visit, and marks the end of a multiyear legal saga that pitted the capital’s Jewish community against their government.

“The return of the Torah scrolls is a real miracle of Hanukka,” Moshe Azman, the rabbi of the synagogue and the head of one of Kiev’s two Chabad hassidic communities, told attendees. “We are witnessing an independent Ukraine overcome the totalitarian past and build a free future.”

Return of Torahs[1]

Ukrainian officials return the Torah scrolls to the Brodsky Choral Synagogue in Kiev on Thursday

After a wave of protests and street battles swept pro-Russian president Victor Yanukovich from power in early 2014, Moscow has vociferously accused the post-revolutionary government of fascism and anti-Semitism.

While such claims have been forcefully disputed by both local Jewish leaders and the government, several moves – such as the appointment of a suspected neo-Nazi to a senior police position and the passage of a bill extending recognition to a nationalist militia that collaborated with the Nazis – have raised questions about Kiev’s commitment to combating racism.

Meanwhile, nearly a year after announcing that it would appoint a special envoy to monitor anti-Semitism, the Foreign Ministry still has not filled the position.

Asked if he believed that the return of the scrolls was motivated by a desire by Poroshenko to curry favor with the Israelis prior to his trip, Azman replied in the negative, telling The Jerusalem Post that “we have been working for a long time to get them back.”

“There is no connection. We pushed to get them back.”

He recalled having received 18 other scrolls from the Kiev Archive during the Yanukovich period, stating that recovering such artifacts is a “hard bureaucratic situation.”

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk only signed the order to release the scrolls the day before the ceremony, he said.

According to Israeli-Ukrainian journalist Shimon Briman, much of the credit for the return of the scrolls belongs to lawmaker Georgy Logvinsky, who used his close connections with the Justice Ministry to push for their return.

As for any political implications, he speculated that Yatsenyuk’s willingness to return the scrolls could be seen as the prime minister scoring political points against Poroshenko purposefully prior to the latter’s Israel trip.

Despite last week’s ceremony, however, further scrolls are still being held in government archives across the country, Briman added.

During the event, Lyashko called for streets named after communists to be renamed after former prime minister Golda Meir, who was born in Kiev, and Ukrainian Jewish Zionist leader Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Community leaders honored a Jewish soldier killed last year while fighting for Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk. (Jerusalem Post)

After 68 years, a Syrian great-grandmother comes home… to her Jewish family in Israel

She was 16 when she disappeared from pre-state Israel, and had been assumed dead. This week, Rachel Elkayam was reunited with her relatives, closing a heart-wrenching circle

Sixty-eight years after she last saw her family, an 85-year-old, silver-haired, Jewish great-grandmother returned home to Haifa in northern Israel this week — having spent her entire adult life living as an Arab woman in the neighboring enemy state of Syria.

Rachel Elkayam, the third of 10 children, was a 16-year-old girl living in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Haifa in 1947 when her parents moved the family to Tel Aviv. Conflict between pre-state Israel and the Arab world was escalating, ahead of the following year’s declaration of Israeli independence and the full-scale war that then erupted, and the Elkayams believed they would be safer in the center of Israel than the north. But Rachel, a rebellious child, had fallen in love with one of her Arab neighbors, Fuad, and was pregnant with his child. “I loved him, and he loved me,” Rachel Elkayam told Israel’s Channel 2 news in a report on her remarkable life story, broadcast on Friday night.

Fuad’s family came to Tel Aviv to find her, and she went back to Haifa with them, and married her young love in a ceremony that she kept secret from her parents. In fact, from the day she disappeared in Tel Aviv, the family never knew what had befallen her, and always presumed that she was dead.

What actually happened was complicated, heart-wrenching, and almost defies belief. Not long after their secret marriage, Fuad was shot in the streets of Haifa by a sniper — “I never saw him again,” said Rachel — and he died in a local hospital. Her parents-in-law decided to flee Israel, for Syria, and insisted that she come with them; she was, after all, carrying their grandson in her womb. “I didn’t want to go,” Elkayam recalled tearfully, in the mixture of Arabic and halting Hebrew with which she spoke throughout the report.

Later, in Syria, Fuad’s family told her she could leave if she wanted to, but without her son. “I couldn’t do that,” she said. “I loved the child.”

And so she stayed in Syria — a Jewish mother, with her Jewish child, as part of her new Arab family. The family then married her to one of Fuad’s brothers, and she had eight children in total over the years. When she and her second husband would fight, she confided gleefully in the TV interview, “I would curse him in Hebrew: ‘Kiss my butt.’” She’d also call other members of the family “a bunch of old shoes” in Hebrew, she said. It was a small pleasure, she smiled, to be able to insult them in a language they couldn’t understand.

Rachel Elkayam[1]

Rachel Elkayam at Ben Gurion Airport, December 2015

Elkayam said she “always wanted to come back, but I couldn’t” and that she had tried to at least establish contact with her family in Israel — a difficult task given the relentless hostilities between the two countries. She once gave a visitor from Germany, who said he was eventually traveling on to Israel, a note to her parents assuring them that she was alive and well, but it was apparently never delivered. Her parents passed away assuming she had died, never knowing that she had become a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother just a few hours’ impossible drive away — across the northern border.

When major wars broke out — notably in 1967 and 1973, she said — she would secretly listen to Israel Radio on a transistor, praying not to hear the name “Elkayam” read out among the dead. As a minor act of defiance, she also kept her personal phone book updated in Hebrew.

She would have died in Syria, her story never known to her family in Israel, were it not for the actions of one of her grandsons. In London last year, he went to the Israeli Embassy and told a staffer that his grandmother in Syria had told him that she was actually an Israeli Jew from Haifa. And so it was that Geula Elkayam, one of Rachel’s siblings, received a phone call from London asking her if she had a sister named Rachel.

This past Tuesday, December 8, Rachel Elkayam, now 85, was flown to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, via a third country and by means of an undoubtedly highly complex and sensitive diplomatic process. Waiting in the arrivals hall were members of her family, some of whom she had not seen for 68 years, others whom she had never seen at all. They cried over her as she was pushed out to them in a wheelchair, and wrapped her in an Israeli flag, which she kissed.

Then they drove her home to Haifa, where her brother Amnon, 71, a toddler when she disappeared, took her on a small tour of the neighborhood and the city. She visited her parents’ graves, and was wheeled to the view she said she most wanted to see, of the Mediterranean coast — with Syria, where she had spent her life, to the north.

When major wars broke out — notably in 1967 and 1973 — she would secretly listen to Israel Radio on a transistor, praying not to hear the names of her relatives read out among the dead

The TV report ended with a scene of Rachel and her old-new family together in Haifa celebrating this week’s Hanukkah — the Jewish festival of lights, a festival also resonant with tales of triumph over the odds. Soon Elkayam plans to travel to Europe, where some of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren live.

The report, understandably, did not specify where she had lived in Syria, under what name, or whether any of her children and descendants still live there. It also did not detail how she got to Israel, beyond acknowledging the help of the Haifa municipality, the Israeli Interior Ministry, and the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, which is centrally involved in Israel’s relations with Diaspora Jews.

Rachel Elkayam, the report said, has already re-registered as an Israeli citizen and been given her new Israeli identity card. The clerk at the Interior Ministry had assumed, speaking to her, that she was a Muslim, the report said. She had proved that she was a Jew by reciting the first words of the Shema, the central Jewish prayer: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”          (The Times of Israel)

Telling a distorted story

Israel, the designated villain, never gets an even break

Washington Times Editorial

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/1/editorial-the-distorted-story-of-israel/

The Israeli-Palestinian confrontation is complicated, and would be even without the bad faith that is the region’s chief export. Many elements in the conflict go back to the 1930s, and are layered one atop the other, making peace impossible and even cease-fire difficult.

The European elites and the blind left in the United States argue that the mere Israeli presence on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem is a form of violence. No one can ignore the constant interplay between the Israeli military power, which maintains its presence there, and the Palestinian population. Many Palestinians, who dare not say so, welcome the security these Israeli forces offer. They can see the alternative, of descent into the chaos in nearby Muslim countries, close at hand.

The outbreak of knife attacks during the Jewish High Holidays this fall, often against civilians and sometimes against the wrong brand of Muslim, was clearly terrorism by the Palestinians. The fact that the knife fighters are often adolescents, schooled from infancy to hate Jews, in schools sponsored by the United Nations, is particularly reprehensible.

The Israelis are usually accused of using “excessive force.” The bare statistics are used as an argument that, since more Palestinians die than Israelis, it’s obvious that the Israelis are the aggressors. But self-defense often results in “collateral damage,” and whose fault is that?

Presenting these episodes by identifying the Palestinian dead as victims — as is done often in the international media — distorts reality. The London Guardian, which is reliably left-wing, reported the death of a Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli guard under a typical headline: “Palestinian shot dead at Damascus gate in Jerusalem after stabbing Israeli guard.” The severe wound the assailant inflicted on the guard was barely mentioned. A similar account in the London Daily Mail was only a little better: “Jerusalem’s streets run red with blood: Israeli police shoot dead man who stabbed border guard at Damascus Gate — the 99th Palestinian to die in latest wave of violence.” The attack on Pearl Harbor might have been headlined: “Americans slay two Jap pilots taking Sunday-morning flight over Pearl Harbor.”

President Obama encourages such reporting with his pretense that there’s “a negotiating process” at work to resolve the dispute, and he knows there is not. The Palestinians are divided by a bitter rivalry between the secular Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas, which is crazed by distorted religion. This bitter dispute, which feeds the violence, is rarely even hinted at in the international media.

Our colleagues add to the impasse with a twisted version of events. “You’d be hard pressed to find an example of terror in the world — outside of Israel — where mainstream media outlets prioritize the fate of the perpetrators over that of their victims,” concludes U.K. Media Watch. The beat — and the beat-up of Israel — goes on.