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Latest News in Israel – 19th January

Pregnant woman moderately wounded in Tekoa stabbing

A teenage Palestinian terrorist on Monday stabbed a woman in the settlement of Tekoa, southeast of Jerusalem in the West Bank, moderately injuring her.

The attacker, identified later as 19-year-old Othman Muhammad Sha’alan, was shot by an armed civilian after fleeing the scene, outside a clothing warehouse in the community. Although the IDF initially said he was dead, the army later amended its statement, saying he was evacuated to a hospital for treatment.

Magen David Adom paramedics reported they were called to treat the injured woman, Michal Froman, who suffered from wounds to her upper body. She is the daughter-in-law of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, a former rabbi of the community who was known as a peace activist

“On one of the streets in the settlement, we saw an approximately 30-year-old woman sitting in a car,” MDA paramedic Yoni Silman said. “She was fully conscious, after having been stabbed on the street.

“People put her into the car as she suffered from stab wounds to the upper body,” he continued. “We put her in the ambulance and gave her medical treatment. She was in moderate and stable condition.”

Froman, who is pregnant, was evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for further treatment. Her condition was initially described as “serious.” After surgery, the hospital said that Froman was not in life-threatening danger, and that the fetus was stable.

After attacking Froman, the stabber fled the scene and was shot by security forces next to a nearby horse farm. He had entered Tekoa through a hole in the perimeter fence, reports said.

In what appeared to be a precautionary move, Tekoa residents were instructed in a text message to remain in their homes and lock their doors until further notice. The settlement also told residents who employed Palestinian workers to take them out of the community.

“In light of a situational assessment and following recent terror attacks, security measures have been taken in the communities in the Etzion Bloc and all Palestinian workers have been instructed to leave the communities by the Etzion Regional Brigade commander Col. Roman Gofman,”.  an IDF spokesman said.     (The Times of Israel)

Netanyahu vows killer of Otniel mother will be caught

Prime Minister Benjamin on Sunday vowed to catch the terrorist who stabbed to death a woman in front of her teenage daughter in the West Bank settlement of Otniel, as officials expressed shock over the crime.

Dafna Meir was slashed to death by a suspected Palestinian assailant who entered her home and then fled. Troops launched a massive manhunt for the attacker, entering a nearby Palestinian village and declaring the area a closed military zone.

Meir’s 15-year-old daughter reportedly witnessed the attack and gave security authorities a description of the assailant after he fled the scene.

“Dafna Meir, mother of six, was brutally murdered this evening by a Palestinian terrorist inside her home in Otniel,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page, referring to the victim’s four children and two foster children living with the family.

“In the name of all Israelis, I want to give strength to all the children of the family. All of us are hurting and share in the painful grief. We will find the terrorist, and he will pay the full price for this heinous murder,” he wrote.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also promised to catch the killer.

“We will not rest until we settle accounts with the terrorist, wherever he is,” Ya’alon said in statement. “Today’s murder at Otniel teaches us yet again what a cruel enemy we are up against.”

President Reuven Riviln spoke to the head of the Har Hebron Regional Council Yohai Damari to express his condolences and support for the community.

“This is a horrific tragedy, and I am with you with all of my heart,” he said. “This is shocking and terrible. At this time of grief, disbelief, and pain, I am sure you are focused on doing all that is needed in order to help the family and all the residents of the community.”

Damari thanked the president for the call and promised to pass on Rivlin’s condolences to the Meir family.

“I greatly appreciate your calling at this difficult time and I will pass on your words to the family,” he said. “I have faith and trust that the security services will find the terrorist sooner or later, and that they are doing everything possible in order to return a sense of security to the community as swiftly as possible.”

Zehava Galon, leader of the dovish Meretz party, called the killer “cruel and inhuman.”

“I am shocked by this terrible attack and sure that every effort is being made to find the murderer and prosecute him to the full extent of the law,” she said.

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni called the killing “heartbreaking.”

“The fact that she was raising two foster children testifies to her character, and in her death she did the the most terrible and unimaginable motherly thing, she protected her daughter with her body. I send full backing to the security forces in the hunt to catch the murderer,” she wrote on Facebook.

The killing was the latest in a string of terror attacks that have gripped the country over the last four months, killing some two dozen Israelis and injuring over 300 more, according to figures released Sunday by the Magen David Adom rescue service.

Over 100 Palestinians have been killed over the same period, most of them in the course of attacks on Israeli civilians and troops, according to police and the army.     (The Times of Israel)

Days before murder of Otniel mother of six: ‘Sometimes it feels like Russian Roulette’

Before she was fatally stabbed in a terror attack in her home, Dafna Meir penned an article in her community’s bulletin, describing the feelings of insecurity she said many Israeli citizens foster.

18.1.16

Dafna Meir pictured with her husband Natan.

A mere two days before Otniel resident Dafna Meir was killed Sunday in a stabbing attack at her home, the mother of six had penned an article in her community’s weekend bulletin, describing the feelings of insecurity she said many Israeli citizens currently foster.

“Lately, I have had a lot of objections in light of the security situation, thoughts about what is necessary and what is unnecessary to do, about fears, about my husband and children,” she wrote. “The situation is not easy and sometimes it feels like Russian Roulette.”

A funeral procession for the 38-year-old terror victim is set to embark from the West Bank settlement of Otniel at 9 a.m. Monday morning before arriving at 11 a.m. at Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery.

On Sunday evening, a Palestinian terrorist entered Meir’s home and stabbed her to death in front of her teenage daughter. The eldest Meir daughter, Renana, fled upstairs with two of her younger siblings during the time of the attack and called their father.

The attacker then fled the scene in the South Hebron Hills and remained at large.

Security forces as of Monday morning were continuing with an extensive manhunt for the terrorist responsible, seemingly a Palestinian who worked in construction in the settlement.

Police said they were checking whether the attacker worked in Otniel.

According to Channel 2, security forces have so-far arrested five Palestinians and were checking for any link to Monday’s brutal attack.

The stabbing was the first time Palestinian terrorists have executed a fatal attack inside a settlement since March 2011 when five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death in their home in Itamar.

“I want to give strength to all the children of the family. All of us are hurting and share in the painful grief. We will find the terrorist, and he will pay the full price for this heinous murder,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

Meir was a nurse at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. She is survived by her husband Natan and six children Renana, 17, Akiva, 15, Noa, 11, Ahava, 10, Yair, 6, Yaniv 4.

(Jerusalem Post)

IDF bans Palestinian workers from Gush Etzion

Etzion Brigade Commander Col. Roman Gofman issued an order Monday morning to remove immediately all Arab workers from the Gush Etzion communities, including from stores and businesses.

The order was made following a security assessment by the Etzion Brigade commander and the Judea and Samaria Division following a severe escalation in deadly Arab terror attacks on Jews in the region.

On Monday morning, a 30-year-old pregnant woman was stabbed by an Arab terrorist in the town of Tekoa, after he broke into a clothing store where she was working and stabbed her multiple times in her upper body.

The pregnant victim, identified as Michal Froman, was evacuated to Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tzedek hospital in moderate condition.

Monday’s attack came after an Arab construction worker on Sunday evening brutally murdered Dafna Meir in front of her children, after the terrorist broke into her home in Otniel, several miles south of Gush Etzion.

39-year-old Dafna Meir was laid to rest Monday morning in the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood after a funeral that began in Otniel.

Security forces on Monday continued a widespread manhunt for the murderer of the mother of six.

“In light of a situational assessment and following recent terror attacks, security measures have been taken in the communities in the Etzion Bloc and all Palestinian workers have been instructed to leave the communities by the Etzion Regional Brigade commander Col. Roman Gofman,” said an IDF spokesperson.

The duration of the order was not immediately known.

This is not the first time the IDF has imposed such measures on Arab workers in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

In July of 2015, the IDF issued a region-wide ban out of concern that some Arab employees might take revenge on their Jewish coworkers or employers over the arson attack on a family in the Arab village of Duma.

A similar temporary ban on Arab workers in the region was also ordered in November 2015, after 21-year-old Hadar Buchris was stabbed to death in an attack at the Gush Etzion junction.                 (Arutz Sheva)

IDF chief: Iran deal raises specter of proxy wars with Israel

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said Monday that Iran will likely honor the nuclear deal reached with world powers in the coming years, but intensify its proxy war with Israel through the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and other armed groups. He also anticipated that Iran would start allocating increased funds to terror groups, and called the deal a “strategic turning point” as regards the challenges to Israel.

Still, Eisenkot said the landmark agreement could present Israel with opportunities in the future.

He also warned that terror in the West Bank was unlikely to abate anytime soon.

“The [nuclear] deal presents a number of challenges, But also opportunities” in the coming five years as Iran acts more behind the scene, Eisenkot said.

He did not elaborate on what the opportunities could be, but Israeli officials in the past have pointed to an opening for increased cooperation with Sunni Gulf states also opposed to Iranian hegemony in the wake of the agreement.

The IDF chief spoke at the annual Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv just two days after the implementation of the nuclear accord struck last summer between Tehran and world powers, and the lifting of American and European nuclear sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

He said that despite short term adherence to the protocols of the nuclear deal, Iran will nonetheless work toward obtaining nuclear arms in the next 15 years — the amount of time Iran agreed not to enrich uranium beyond low levels.

“We still place Iran high up in our priorities,” Eisenkot said.

Eisenkot said Iran is giving Lebanese terror group Hezbollah approximately $1 billion a year, and that the Shiite organization remains “our central threat.”

“Hezbollah is funded, trained and even led by Iran,” he said.

He acknowledged that “there is no doubt that the accord between Iran and the West is a strategic turning point.”

“The IDF needs to be prepared for the breakout of war in a very short period. It would be a mistake to put all our resources into the fight against terror,” he said.

Israeli estimates put Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal at 100,000 short-range rockets capable of striking northern Israel, plus several thousand missiles that can reach Tel Aviv and central Israel, and hundreds more that can reach across the entire country.

However the Iranian-backed group has been bogged down battling Sunni rebel groups in Syria in an effort to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, suffering heavy casualties along the way.

Despite occasional cross-border flare-ups with Israel, officials believe the group is not interested in another large scale conflict with the Jewish State akin to the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Eisenkot warned that a more immediate threat was daily violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which he warned would continue “for years.”

Calling the spate of stabbing attacks the “most worrying,” he noted that Monday morning’s stabbing of a pregnant woman in a settlement was the 101st attack on a civilian or soldier since hostilities escalated in late September.

Palestinian children, he said, were being educated by the sword and the Koran.

He also warned about possible threats from the Islamic State terror group, which he claimed has greater support in the West Bank and Gaza Strip than in any Arab state, with 16% approval, and said its adherents could turn their sights against Israel and Jordan.

In Gaza, Eisenkot warned that with Iranian backing, Hamas could restart hostilities with Israel. He said the sporadic rocket fire at southern Israel in the past year was carried out by radical Salafist groups in the Gaza Strip who are opposed to Hamas, and that the area was quieter in 2015 than at any point since the 1970, but the quiet might not last.

“Hamas is busy rehabilitating its abilities with Iranian aid instead of focusing on rebuilding the [Gaza] Strip,” Eisenkot said.

Sketching out Israel’s strategic priorities, the chief of staff, who took command of the Israeli armed forces last year, said the two ascendant issues were the growing threat of terrorist groups and cyber warfare, while weapons of mass destruction and conventional wars between states were of diminishing concern — “though the IDF is still prepared for it.”

It used to be that armies were either preparing for war or waging it, Eisenkot said. Now you must to do both at the same time, constantly employing force.        (The Times of Israel)

Netanyahu hints at understanding with US about deterring Iranian threat

A day after implementation of the Iran nuclear deal went into effect, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel’s policy toward Iran remains the same: it will not let the Islamic Republic obtain nuclear weapons.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to closely monitor Iran’s compliance with with its international agreements regarding the nuclear deal, its ballistic missiles and involvement in terrorism. “The international community must take sharp and aggressive sanctions on every infraction,” he said.

Netanyahu, who fought an ultimately losing battle against the deal for years – including going toe-to-toe against US President Barack Obama over the matter – said that without Israel leading the fight to impose crippling economic sanctions on Tehran, “Iran would have had nuclear arms a long time ago.”

The bulk of those sanctions have now been removed.

“Israel’s position was, and remains just as it was: not to allow Iran to get nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu stressed. He added that it is “clear” that Iran will now have more resources to turn to in its “terrorist and aggressive activities in the region and the world.” But, he added, “Israel is prepared to deal with every threat.”

Netanyahu noted that Israel is currently in the midst of concluding a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding with the US which will govern the level of US military aid to Israel over the next decade. He hinted that this was part of the deterrence architecture being built to counter Iran, saying that the MoU is “important to rebuff the threats in the region, first and foremost – of course – from the Iranians.”

Under the current 10-year MoU, which expires next year, Israel received some $3 billion in annual military aid from the US, a figure now expected to rise.

Netanyahu also spoke again at the opening of the cabinet meeting against Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s comment last week that an investigation should be made into “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians during the current wave of terrorism.

Calling her comments “absurd” and a “complete distortion,” he referenced an incident that happened in Sweden on October 10, when a man with a sword killed three people before being killed by Swedish security forces. He asked whether that, too, could be called “extrajudicial killing” that needed to be investigated in the light of international law.

Netanyahu said that he hoped this type of double standard does not spill over into the meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday expected to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

“Attacks on Israel, imbalance toward Israel, will not help the EU be a partner in the discussions on the Middle East,” he said. “Beyond that, it is also inappropriate, not right, and we will not accept it.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Stabbing attack thwarted in West Bank, assailant shot dead

A Palestinian knife attacker was shot while trying to stab Israeli soldiers at Hativa Square near Nablus, not far from the headquarters of the Samaria Territorial Brigade on Sunday afternoon. There were no injured Israelis in the attack.

The assailant tried to stab the IDF soldiers securing the square who opened fire and killed the suspect.

On Friday, IDF shot and killed two Palestinians in a stone-throwing clash near the Gaza border, a Palestinian medical official said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said dozens of Palestinians had been rioting in the area and some had tried to breach the border with Israel. She said soldiers fired warning shots in the air before shooting at people across the fence.        (Jerusalem Post)

New Israeli video shows PA’s incitement

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office on Sunday released a new video showing the constant incitement by Palestinian Authority (PA) officials and media against Israel.

Israeli officials have warned that this incitement is the root cause for the current wave of terrorism against Israelis, but Western countries insist that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas is a “peace partner” for Israel.The release of the video coincided with Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan presenting ministers at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting with the index of incitement in the PA.

The findings of the index indicate a rise in incitement in the PA, sponsored by the leadership and religious figures, in the institutions of formal education and massive exposure of the culture of incitement to the international community.

Ministers were presented with examples from children’s and youth programs on the official Palestinian Authority television channel featuring – inter alia – children calling for the murder of Jews, incitement by Abbas himself encouraging terrorism, and incitement in new media.

Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ministry Director General Sima Vaknin noted that approximately 37% of terrorists are under 20, 39% are 21-25 and the remaining 24% are over 26.

Minister Erdan emphasized, “I intend to methodically expose the Palestinian culture of incitement among relevant communities around the world.”

Erdan’s proposal is one of several proposals for action in dealing with the phenomenon of Palestinian incitement that were presented to the Cabinet:

Establishing an economic threat to the Palestinian Authority in the form of freezing assistance or conditioning it on a halt to the discourse of incitement;

Mapping legislation against incitement on social networks in various countries and in the European Union;

Increasing open and concealed presence on social networks; and

Exposing the culture of incitement to the international community.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also directed that the materials be distributed to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and EU member state foreign ministers, and to all Foreign Ministry missions around the world.

https://youtu.be/fLOdaCSv_Z4                                                                                   (Arutz Sheva)

Israel Navy closely watching Hamas force build up, preparing for underwater threats from Gaza

The Israel Navy is keeping a close eye on Hamas in Gaza as the terrorist organization busily rebuilds its offensive capabilities, which now appear to include a potential to wage underwater combat.

If fighting breaks out with Hamas, the IDF assesses that the Islamist organization would likely seek to surprise Israel from multiple directions, including from the sea. The IDF feels it must prepare, accordingly, for a wide range of possible seaborne assaults, including bomb-laden boat attacks.

The Israel Navy has been developing swift underwater detection and alert systems in the event that Hamas divers, such as the sea commando unit that went into action during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, were to be employed again.

The navy’s focus on confronting underwater threats is remarkable considering how seaborne combat was almost unheard of on the southern coast before 2014, and commanders have been busy in recent months developing ways to contain the threat.

New weapons are being loaded onto naval vessels, designed to destroy a submerged enemy.

Meanwhile, the Navy’s 916 Squadron is carrying out continuous patrols of the Gaza coast. Its vessels are tasked with gathering intelligence on what goes on in the Hamas-run territory.

The squadron has seen Hamas carry out rocket-firing experiments, in which projectiles are launched into the Mediterranean Sea, to test them after they come off of Gaza’s domestic weapons-production lines.

The navy does not appear to have noticed anything unusual in the range of the latest rocket trials, or in their frequency.

Additionally, Hamas has not been aiming for Israel’s offshore gas drilling platforms.

Instead, it is working to restock spent supplies and ensure that the new rockets work, IDF sources say.

The IDF has been closely following Hamas’s force buildup closely so as to develop its own counter-measures, which include adapting weapons systems and tweaking battle doctrines to match emerging threats.

The Navy, for its part, can be assumed to be improving its sea-to-shore missile-strike capability with longer ranges and increased accuracy.

This branch of the IDF remains keen on integrating itself with the ground forces and IAF, and to bring its sea-based firepower to bear accurately in any conflict.           (Jerusalem Post)

Park to be dedicated in name of terrorist on site of his destroyed home

The Municipality of Surda/Abu Kash in the Ramallah area decided on Sunday to name a public park after Muhannad Halabi, who killed two Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City last October.

The new park will be built on the site where Halabi’s house existed before it was demolished by the IDF earlier this month.

Halabi, a 19-year-old Palestinian law student at Al-Quds University from a village near Ramallah, went on a shooting and stabbing spree in October killing two before he was shot dead by police.

The attack took place at the Lion’s Gate on Succot as the victims were en route to the Western Wall. Halabi stabbed a couple and their toddler son and then grabbed a pistol from one of his victims and began firing wildly into the crowd until a border police officer shot him from 50 meters away, killing him.

The victims of the attack, one of the first in the current wave of terror attacks that have plagued Israel over the last four months, were Rabbi Nehemia Lavie, 41, an Old City resident who worked at the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, near the place he was killed, and Aharon Benita from Beitar Illit, the father of the toddler also wounded in the attack.

Meanwhile, Palestinian activists announced on Sunday that they have collected a total of 650,000 Shekels in donations to build a new house for the Halabi family following the launch of a crowdfunding campaign.

The campaign, used by Palestinians to protest against Israel’s house demolition policy, may become a tremendous success since many Palestinians view Halabi as the “hero who ignited the Third Intifada’s fire.”

Many Palestinians were outraged that the Palestinian Authority did not act to stop the house’s demolition by closing the roads leading to the structure and preventing the approach of the Israeli forces.

Following the destruction of their house on January 9, the entire Halabi family gathered around the ruins and took a selfie picture in which all family members are seen smiling and flashing the victory sign.

The family members’ smiles just after losing their house are consistent with the behavior of many young Palestinians during the current terror wave which has seen Palestinian terrorists tend to smile to the camera, even when they are already arrested or physically injured by Israeli security forces. The phenomenon, known in Arabic as Ibtisamat (smiles) has even become a popular hashtag on Palestinian social media.             (Jerusalem Post)

UNRWA admits the West Bank is a great place to live (but tells the world the opposite)

From an UNRWA job posting:

The Director of UNRWA Operations acts as UNRWA’s representative in the West Bank where s/he directs UNRWA’s programmes… for a population of more than 750,000 registered Palestine refugees.

The Director leads UNRWA’s responsibility for addressing the needs of Palestine refugees in the West Bank whoselimited rights, restricted movement and an Occupation contribute to their marginalized existence.

The job description itself says that Israel oppresses Palestinians whose lives are miserable.

Employees are required to take the Palestinian side of the issues:

Client Orientation: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be “clients” and seeks to see things from clients’ point of view; establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect…

But, the posting emphasizes:

UNRWA is a United Nations organization whose staff are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity, neutrality and impartiality.

How, exactly, can people be neutral when they are explicitly told to empathize with one side?

While UNRWA employees are told to push the narrative of how awful life is for Palestinians, the UNRWA website that tries to attract employees completely contradicts the description of “limited rights, restricted movement and an Occupation:”

Working for UNRWA in the West Bank is challenging and rewarding. Jerusalem is a family-friendly duty station.

Public transportation is very common in the West Bank. Local residents use either buses, taxis, or their private cars when commuting to the various locations in the West Bank, which are generally easily accessible.

… An increasing number of cafes, restaurants and hotels have wireless internet connections.

Generally speaking for international staff, living in the West Bank is a remarkable experience with many highlights including the kindness and generosity of the people and the incredible array of sites to explore that are of historical and religious significance. … This duty station is otherwise known for its accessibility to modern facilities including shopping centres, gyms, and swimming pools in Jerusalem and Ramallah. There are also many coffee shops and bars that provide special menus in a fabulous atmosphere.

While UNRWA writes reports about how terrible the water situation is in the West Bank, they tell employees to enjoy the fabulous swimming pools available to all Palestinians.

While UNRWA tells the world that checkpoints are oppressive, it tells its employees that travel through those checkpoints for local residents is easy.

The entire reason that NGO workers love to work in the West Bank is because it is safe, because they have easy access to all the amenities of modern life – and because Israel won’t do anything to them when they write report after report on how terrible life is there.                (Elder of Ziyon)

Israeli junior fencers snubbed by Saudi Arabians in world cup event

Israel’s junior epee fencing team ended the world cup competition in Basel, Switzerland in eighth place on Sunday, but the event was marred by yet another unsporting incident by representatives of an Arab country which doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Saudi Arabia team didn’t show up for the first contest of the day against the Israelis, who were handed a win, but were left with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Dr. Vladimir Shklar of Israel, who was named in November as the new President of the European Fencing Confederation (EFC), said he will not let the incident go unnoticed.

“This may not be a new phenomenon, but it doesn’t make it any less serious,” said Shklar. “In two weeks I’ll raise the issue in the International Fencing Federation executive committee meeting in Lausanne and demand urgent action. I’ve fought this in the past and will continue to fight this unsporting phenomenon.”                 (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Acts of “Peace”

by Guy Millière           The Gatestone Institute

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7240/palestinian-acts-of-peace

Because terrorist acts against Israelis are almost never described as terrorist acts, Israel is the only country that is found guilty of defending itself against terrorism. Israel is the only country living next to a terrorist entity, and asked not to treat it as a terrorist entity.

The illusion of the Oslo Accords was that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) could become a respectable, law-abiding government, renounce violence, and abide by an agreement. The lies of the Oslo Accords were that the PLO, representing the “Palestinian people,” was ready to exchange “land for peace” and actually desired to create a state living in peace side by side with Israel.

Many Europeans are falling for Joseph Goebbels’s formula, that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Israel is now — solely from propaganda and the falsification of history — possibly the most unjustly demonized nation in history.

Israel is the only country that is always supposed to make “more concessions” to enemies who do not even hide their destructive intentions.

The Greek Parliament, on December 22, 2015, voted unanimously on a motion calling on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to recognize the “State of Palestine.”

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who was on an official visit to Athens, took the opportunity to say that the PA would no longer accept being called by any other name, and that passports with “State of Palestine” would be issued with this name.

The Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, Tzipi Hotevely, responded by saying that Mahmoud Abbas was following a “flawed path that will lead him nowhere.” Israel’s former Ambassador to Canada, Alan Baker, in a report for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, noted that this was a “clear and flagrant violation of the Oslo agreements.”

Abbas may well have chosen a “flawed path,” but he seems to be going forward with it, doubtless hoping to increase the number of countries that recognize the non-existent “State of Palestine.”

Abbas also continues to violate the once much-trumpeted Oslo Accords — but they were violated from the start. They effectively did not even exist. They were based on an illusion, and based on lies.

The illusion was that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) could become a respectable, law-abiding government, renounce violence, and abide by an agreement.

The lies were that the PLO, representing the “Palestinian people,” was ready to exchange “territories for peace” and actually desired to create a state living in peace side by side with Israel.

The illusion was quickly shattered. In 1993, as soon as the Oslo Accord was signed, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, while visiting Johannesburg, compared it to the truce of Hudaibiya, a temporary agreement Muhammad signed with the Qurayesh tribe in 628 AD. In the truce, Muhammad had promised not to attack the tribe for ten years; but two years after that, when he had assembled more troops, he broke the truce, attacked with full force, and massacred the Qurayesh.

When Arafat became Chairman of the Palestinian Authority a few days later, he wasted no time in showing that the PA was still the PLO and that he had renounced exactly nothing.

Murderous attacks have hit Israel ever since then. They only declined when Israel built a defensive security barrier.

In the decade after Oslo, 1,400 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks; thousands more were injured but survived, still mutilated.

In 2000 the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades came into being — the “military” wing of the “moderate” Palestinian Authority ruling party, Fatah. As the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades organized suicide attacks and planted bombs, other Islamist terrorist groups also gained in importance, especially Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Palestinian Authority created anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish media from the start. PA schools were established and immediately began teaching that hating Jews is important.

Palestinian Authority leaders negotiated with Israel, but the PA would never recognize Israel as a state for the Jewish people.

The PA also never stopped demanding innocent-sounding, “poison pill” concessions that would have meant the destruction of Israel. These included the “right of return,” possibly for almost as many Palestinians as Israel’s population. This demand has been a constant that woulddemographically overwhelm the Jews with Palestinians — as if France were required admit 60 million Muslims.

Sadly, the Palestinians have only increased their violence. There have been more than 11,000 rocket attacks on a country not even as big as Vancouver Island. But most political leaders and journalists in the West stubbornly refuse to see it this way.

Successive Israeli governments have been prompted to behave as if they could not see that an unending series of onslaughts was happening to them. The Israelis have been told behave as if they had before them people with whom they could actually agree. It would be as if France were ordered to reach an agreement with al-Qaeda.

The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s remark, that Israel has to “negotiate as if there were no terrorism,” was repeated to them endlessly, as if terrorist murders were not daily taking place all around them.

Some Israeli governments offered to cede almost everything to the Palestinians. Ehud Olmert in 2008 went so far as to propose a total withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (the entire West Bank), and to abandon Israel’s control over the Old City of Jerusalem; many Israeli political and military leaders told him such a withdrawal was a suicidal proposition. The Palestinians turned it down without so much as a counter-offer.

Over time, lies gain ground. Palestinians terrorist acts are often no longer described as terrorist acts but as “acts of resistance” against the “occupation.”

The Palestinian Authority is now trying to be recognized as “State of Palestine” in the hope that words will make it so, despite its own signed commitments to negotiations, meaning that it too might have to offer something — maybe an end to incitement (already agreed to under Oslo. but never implemented); the end of the conflict, perhaps recognition of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority is now an “observer state” at the United Nations. Abbas, now in the eleventh year of his four-year term, is received everywhere as a legitimate President. He does not say — and no one else does either — that he would not be alive today if Israel were not protecting him. Hamas has long been trying to kill him and supplant his government with its own.

Almost no one dares translate into English the bloodthirsty remarks Abbas makes in Arabic.

Palestinian leaders rewrite history, and many Europeans even buy it. Many now believe that the Palestinian people existed since “ancient times,” and are one of the most “oppressed” peoples on earth.

Palestinian leaders often state — without even being contradicted even by the Church! — that Jesus was a Palestinian. They deny he was born a Jew in a Jewish family. They asked — and got ! — UNESCO (in which “Palestine” has been a full member since 2011) to rename ancient Jewish sites as Islamic. According to a resolution passed on October 21, 2015 by UNESCO’s General Conference, Rachel’s Tomb is now “Bilal bin Rabah Mosque” and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron is the “Ibrahimi Mosque.”

In most Western media, Judea and Samaria are presented as “occupied Palestinian territories” and Israel is described as the “occupying power.”

The presence of Jews in the West Bank — home to the Jews for nearly 4,000 years — is depicted as an “illegal intrusion.” Yet people who presumably pass out at even the thought of ethnic cleansing anywhere, seem to have no problem with all Jews being expelled from Judea and Samaria — and a future “State of Palestine.”

These lies have placed Israel in a dangerous position.

Israel has a powerful army and a prosperous and dynamic economy. But Israel, a very small country, is possibly the most-threatened nation in the world. And because terrorist acts against Israelis are almost never described as terrorist acts, Israel is the only country that is found guilty of defending itself against terrorism. Israel is also the only country living next to a terrorist entity, and asked not to treat it as a terrorist entity.

Many Europeans are falling for Joseph Goebbels’s supposed formula, that If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Israel is now — solely from propaganda and the falsification of history — possibly the most unjustly demonized nation in history.

It is a country subjected to incessant diplomatic offensives by its enemies, end even by people — such as J Street and the New Israel Fund — that call themselves “friends.” Israel is the only country that is always supposed to make “more concessions” to enemies who do not even hide their destructive intentions.

The Oslo Accords have been described as an act of peace. They were actually — for the Palestinians — an act of war.

They were a huge victory for the PLO, which was able to advance from there to other victories. The Palestinians set out, in their never-rescinded plan, to take over Israel by “stages” in their “Ten Point Plan.”

The current Israeli government, like those that preceded it, adopts a defensive attitude, and seems to manage the status quo.

Malicious attacks continue from self-righteous Jew-haters, who pretend it is only Israel they dislike. The BDS movement keeps trying to find traction; fortunately, Israel has expanded its commerce to the Far East, where it is booming. The European Union recently decided to ask member countries to put discriminatory labels on products made by Jewish businesses located beyond the “borders of 1967”, which were only armistice lines (at the Arabs’ request) — and never borders to begin with. Smear campaigns against Israel grow and disseminate their venom.

In Israel, Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked proposed a law requiring non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Israel to declare all funding from foreign governments. “The blatant intervention of foreign countries in the State of Israel’s internal matters through funding is an unprecedented phenomenon that violates all the rules and norms of relations between democratic countries,” she stated.

The proposal is a step in the right direction: in the United States, organizations financed from abroad are subject to severe constraints.

More needs to be done. Inside Israel, various NGOs, under the pretext of “free speech,” circulate seditious, anti-Israeli propaganda. They are internal enemies. They forge false evidence and send it to countries who want to drag Israel — but no other country — to the International Criminal Court. Such NGOs should be should be treated as the internal enemies that they are.

During the last years of his life, because he encouraged suicide attacks and incited children to seek death as martyrs, the Israeli government confined Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to his Muqata presidential compound in Ramallah.

Because Mahmoud Abbas, the current Palestinian leader accused Israeli Jews of “desecrating” Al Aqsa Mosque with their “filthy feet,” and added that “blood spilled in defense of the holy site is pure,”, he bears direct responsibility for the current wave of murders of Israeli Jews. The Israeli government could confine him to his Muqata as they did with Arafat, and truthfully explain that a man who is guilty of incitement to murder innocent civilians going about their daily lives must not be allowed to roam freely.

The Israeli government could also honestly say that no negotiations are possible with an organization that supports terrorism, and teaches children to hate Jews.

The Israeli government could go even further, and explain to the world that the Palestinian Authority itself is still a terrorist organization, and cut off all political, economic and financial relationships with it.

The Western world should be asking Israel to stop supporting an organization, the Palestinian Authority, that daily backs terrorism; and Israel should be asking the Western world to stop supporting an organization, the Palestinian Authority, that supports terrorism and is on its way to creating yet another terrorist state — especially at a time when the international terrorist threat is so intense and pervasive.

Of course, many European leaders would probably answer that they see only one terrorist state: Israel. Surreally, an EU court in December 2014 even removed Hamas from the EU list of banned terrorist organizations.

For now, while chaos is gaining momentum in the Middle East, the “Palestinian question” is far from a central concern for Muslim countries in the region. The main aim of Saudi Arabia is to survive the attempts to destabilize it coming from Iran. Some Saudi leaders might now evenregard Israel as an ally.

In Egypt, the priority of its President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is to contend with the deadly conflict in the Sinai.

At the same time, Iran is busy spreading terrorism and racing toward nuclear weapons capability, as well as the intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver them. Iran is also breaking records executing its own citizens; holding political prisoners on trumped-up charges; saving what remains of the Assad regime in Syria and, with Russia, bolstering the power of the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon.

Both Iran and the Islamic State do not hide their genocidal intentions towards Israel. Recently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s “Supreme Leader,” unveiled his plans for Israel’s destruction.

In the midst of all this, John Kerry recently said something right: “Circumstances” lead “to seriously consider the possibility of the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.”

The wave of murders triggered by Abbas at the beginning of September has had catastrophic effects on the finances of the Palestinian Authority. After Mahmoud Abbas has left the scene, an attempted takeover by Hamas or ISIS is virtually inevitable.

Kerry correctly added that “several Israeli ministers have made clear their opposition to a Palestinian state.” It would be more accurate to say that several Israeli ministers seem to think that creating a state destined to become a terrorist state would be an extremely bad idea.

A few days ago, Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told high-level government officials that Israel has to “prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, but be prepared in case the collapse occurs.”

Opinion polls show that more than 75% of the Israeli Arabs define themselves as Israeli, and that more than 60% of them unreservedly define Israel as a Jewish country. The polls alsoshow that 18% of Israeli Arabs support violence against the Jews.

For two decades, Israeli Arabs and Arabs living in Judea and Samaria have been poisoned by propaganda from the Palestinian Authority — from textbooks; from official statements such as naming stadiums, streets and public squares after terrorists, and from the PA government-controlled media. The Palestinian people deserve a better leadership than this. Their current destructive leadership, and the even more destructive leadership that could well follow it, should not be encouraged — by treacherous Europeans or anyone else.

Signs increasing that American support for Israel could begin to crack   

by Leslie Susser              The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=438338

American leaders spelled out in the bleakest terms what it would mean for future Israeli generations and where a one-state reality dominated by Israel would leave the Palestinians.

In December 2015, in a well-orchestrated sequence of unprecedentedly blunt public statements, the US administration warned Israel of the consequences of a policy leading inexorably to a single Israeli-Palestinian state under Israeli control. In such circumstances, Israel would not be able to be both Jewish and democratic; it would be internationally reviled; and the US would be powerless to do much about it.

American leaders spelled out in the bleakest terms what it would mean for future Israeli generations and where a one-state reality dominated by Israel would leave the Palestinians. They painted a picture of endemic violence and severe economic costs for both sides as a large Palestinian underclass without equal rights struggled to be free.

In the short term, if there is no change of course, the Americans fear the imminent collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, leaving Israel facing a huge security and economic burden.

The American leaders presented their latest warnings as the pained counsel of deeply concerned friends. But the harsh, pejorative terms they used in describing the future Israel is headed for raises serious questions.

For example, for how long and to what extent will America remain supportive, if the government persists with its current policies, and under what circumstances would American support for Israel start to crack? For now, the high level of strategic cooperation between the two countries remains untouched. The $40-$50 billion military aid package for the ten-year period 2017-2027 will almost certainly come through and the authorizing memorandum of understanding will probably be signed by US President Barack Obama before he leaves office. But already Washington’s new, more critical tone suggests diplomatic fissures, which could quickly widen, leaving Israel exposed to inimical international diplomatic and economic initiatives.

The turning point in the level of American frustration with Israel was US Secretary of State John Kerry’s futile late November visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah. His aim was to put a damper on Palestinian violence and start rebuilding trust between the parties.

The plan was to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make some economic concessions to the Palestinians and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas take action to end incitement and terror against Israel in return. Over time Kerry hoped this would evolve into a more detailed program to improve the quality of everyday Palestinian life, de-escalating the violence and creating conditions for reengagement on a two-state solution.

BUT ALTHOUGH Netanyahu had suggested economic moves to help the Palestinians in an early November meeting with Obama in Washington, he failed to deliver. Under the circumstances, Abbas also refused to go along with Kerry’s plan. Twenty months after the collapse of his ambitious Israeli- Palestinian peace effort, the American secretary of state left the region deeply dismayed and concerned about the future.

It was then that he decided to ratchet up the warning rhetoric.

The first opportunity presented itself a week later at the 2015 Saban Forum, an annual high-level Israeli-American dialogue sponsored by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. Kerry told the gathering that he had found Abbas more despondent than ever, that the Palestinian leader had spoken of a widespread “sense of hopelessness” among the Palestinian people and insisted that as a result of its failure to deliver on the peace process, the PA was in serious danger of collapse.

That, Kerry warned, could have horrendous consequences for Israel. First, there was no saying “in a world buzzing with Daesh and jihad and Hamas” who might take over; second, the 30,000 Palestinian security forces helping to maintain order would no longer be around. “Without the PA security forces, the IDF could be forced to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers to the West Bank indefinitely to fill the void. Are Israelis prepared for the consequences this would have for their children and grandchildren, who serve in the IDF, when the inevitable friction leads to confrontation and violence?” Kerry challenged.

There would also be heavy financial costs.

“Without the PA, Israel would also shoulder the responsibility for providing basic services in the West Bank, including for maintaining schools, hospitals, and law and order,” Kerry observed. And he went on to ask, “Are Israelis ready to make up for over a billion dollars a year in assistance that the PA would no longer see provided by the international community because it’s no longer there? What about the additional billion dollars a year in development-related assistance, most of it for the West Bank? What would happen if the Palestinian economy and private sector collapsed under the pressure and there was widespread unemployment and poverty?” Without using the apartheid word, Kerry painted something akin to an apartheid picture of a unitary state from the river to the sea run by a Jewish minority. “Would millions of Palestinians be given the basic rights of Israeli citizens including the right to vote, or would they be relegated to a permanent underclass? Would the Israelis and Palestinians living in such close quarters have segregated roads and transportation systems with different laws applying to Palestinian enclaves? Would anyone really believe they were being treated equally? What would the international response be to that, my friends, or to a decision by Israel to unilaterally annex large portions of the West Bank?” Kerry followed up his devastating critique in the December issue of The New Yorker.

In a profile by chief editor David Remnick, he added that one of the biggest problems was that the current Israeli government simply had no answers to these legitimate and crucial questions, no strategy, no direction and no plan. “It is not an answer to simply continue to build in the West Bank and destroy the homes of the other folks you’re trying to make peace with and pretend that’s a solution.” he declared derisively.

The fact that Kerry, a lifelong friend of Israel, felt it necessary to resort to language reminiscent of the most critical European leaders is significant. Clearly, the immediate diplomatic goal is to get the Netanyahu government to wake up to the dangers and adopt what, in the American view, would be more rational policies. But it also suggests the beginnings of what could prove to be a significant shift in official American thinking on Israel. The question Kerry didn’t ask – the elephant in the room – is how long can America keep backing a government responsible for the emergence of a state of affairs its secretary of state describes in such unflattering terms.

Obama delivered a similar message, albeit in a much lower key. In an early December meeting in Washington, he told President Reuven Rivlin that the stalemate in Israeli- Palestinian negotiations was making it increasingly difficult for the US to block international peace efforts Israel opposed.

Over the past few years, Obama explained, Kerry had staved off inimical international moves by telling the initiators that he was leading a viable peace process and urging them to give him the time he needed to pull it off. Now he had nothing to tell them.

The upshot could be holes in the diplomatic umbrella with which the US has traditionally shielded Israel. For example, peace plans now being worked on by France and New Zealand for submission to the UN Security Council may escape a US veto – unless there is some substantial Israeli quid pro quo.

THAT THE new public articulation of tough questions for Israel is now administration policy was clearly underlined by Samantha Powers, Washington’s United Nations ambassador.

At a mid-December conference in New York, organized by the left-leaning Haaretz daily and the New Israel Fund, Powers argued that continued settlement “raises questions about Israel’s long-term objectives.” She excoriated both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships for a lack of “sufficient commitment from either side to create conditions for peace.” And, echoing both Obama and Kerry, she asked, “What do we say to those in the international community who are frustrated by the lack of a two-state solution?” “What is the explanation for settlement building in areas that will be part of a future Palestinian state?” “What answers does Israel have for its well-wishers in the UN and what concrete policies that advance a two-state solution?” The Israeli government hopes to ride out the storm. Officials point out that the Obama administration has little more than a year left in office. But the chances are that there will be more continuity than change in the next administration – especially if front-runner, fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton makes it to the White House.

Clinton also spoke at the early December Saban Forum and delivered a message that in essence was not very different from Kerry’s. “Inaction is not an option and a one state solution is no solution, but a prescription for endless conflict,” she declared. And she also warned that if the PA collapsed, “the alternative could be the black flag of ISIS.”

In a jab at Netanyahu’s frequent denigration of Abbas, Clinton praised the Palestinian leader for his “stalwart” commitment to security cooperation with Israel and insisted that he was the best option around. “He has certainly been willing to explore different ways of cooperation and confidence building.

And I’m well aware that he has his problems and there’s a lot of questions about his standing, but, you know, you have to start where you have to start from. And I think it’s been unfortunate that he’s been in many eyes marginalized when there really is as yet no alternative,” she declared.

Clinton also spoke of taking the US-Israel relationship to “the next level,” without spelling out what that may be. It seemed as if she was contemplating offering a large carrot to any Israeli government that worked seriously with her for a two-state solution and wider Middle East peace. Israel, she said, should try to leverage common interests with moderate Arab governments, the Arab States should update their 2002 peace initiative, and Israel should respond to it.

Obviously this American administration and any administration that succeeds it are still a long way off from taking any punitive measures against Israel. On the contrary, the current administration is committed to foiling attempts by the BDS movement and others to delegitimize the Jewish state.

But Kerry’s description of the nature of the single state to which Israel is heading implies stern moral censure and suggests future American distancing from Israel should such a reality evolve.

In the view of the current American administration, Israel holds excellent cards for a bright future, but is playing its hand very badly. Its blunt warnings are intended to bring the Netanyahu government to its senses before it is too late.

Should this shock treatment fail, as it very well might, Israel could find itself on a dangerous collision course with a well-disposed but frustrated ally finally running out of patience.

Why Pope’s Visit to Rome’s Great Synagogue Means So Much to Italian Jews

By Rossella TercatinJanuary             The Forward

http://forward.com/opinion/330298/why-popes-visit-to-rome-ghetto-means-so-much-to-italian-jews/#ixzz3xd5SXbAI

In 1986, Pope John Paul II made history by paying a visit to Rome’s Great Synagogue.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI visited that synagogue again.

In 2016, Pope Francis visited for the third time.

As our ancient rabbis were fond of saying — and as Rome’s current chief rabbi Riccardo Di Segni pointed out during the papal visit on Sunday — an act repeated three times becomes a hazaqa, a fixed habit.

But just because Pope Francis’s visit shows his desire to continue on the conciliatory path set forth by the Catholic Church decades ago, that does not mean we should take his gesture for granted.

As an Italian Jew whose grandparents came here when they were vulnerable political refugees fleeing Rumania in the 1950s, I certainly don’t. And I believe that my fellow Roman Jews don’t either. The pope’s gesture has a very concrete meaning for us, engraved in the memories of the people who still live, and nowadays also thrive, on the very same streets where their ancestors were cruelly persecuted and often pressured or forced to convert.

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As a matter of fact, I believe that if you want to understand the meaning of Pope Francis’s visit (as well as his predecessors’), there is no better way to do it than by looking at the geography of Rome.

Less than two miles separate the Vatican from the Great Synagogue, which is located where the Jewish Ghetto stood for over three centuries. In 1555, the pope established the Ghetto on the opposite bank of the Tiber River, in one of the most dangerous and insalubrious areas of the city. There, Roman Jews lived in inhumane conditions. They were forced to attend weekly sermons in church, subjected to periodical rites of humiliation, and banned from most professions, until the newborn kingdom of Italy conquered Rome in 1870.

The very same neighborhood today constitutes the pulsing heart of Roman Jewish life. It features kosher restaurants, Jewish shops, the community day school and offices, plus the Great Synagogue itself, which was built between 1901 and 1904 to celebrate the emancipation that had at last been achieved.

And yet, the ancient Ghetto is also the same area where the Jews of Rome were arrested, then sent to Auschwitz by the Nazi fascists during the infamous raid of October 16, 1943. And it’s where a Palestinian commando carried out a terror attack on October 9, 1982, at the end of the service of the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret, murdering a two-year-old boy, Stefano Gaj Tachè, and leaving dozens injured.

That’s why, in those few square miles, every reference to fighting anti-Semitism and hate is not to be taken lightly. This includes the fight against the anti-Semitism rooted in Christian theology — especially considering that (despite improvement from the days of forced conversions) religious prejudice toward Jews is still present in the most traditional and least educated segments of the population.

And that’s why the message of Pope Francis, who spoke about rejecting anti-Semitism in every form, who reiterated the irrevocability of the covenant between God and the Jewish people, who paid tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and to the survivors who attended the visit, cannot be underestimated.

This message comes on the heels of decades of improved Catholic-Jewish relations. In the past 50 years, since the promulgation of “Nostra Aetate,” the declaration that marked the first significant move toward reassessing the Church’s hitherto-contemptuous approach to Judaism, many significant steps have been taken. The most recent one is the document issued by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Jews last December, explicitly stating that Jews do not need to believe in Jesus to obtain salvation. It’s a far cry from the days when the nuns used to warn my dad at summer camp that he was bound to go to hell if he didn’t embrace Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

That’s not to say that there aren’t still challenges to be overcome. The pope’s take on the state of Israel is an especially sensitive issue for the proudly Zionist Italian Jewish community. During his visit to the synagogue, Pope Francis didn’t call the Jewish state by its official name; instead, he chose to refer to it as the “Holy Land” in the passage of the speech where he invoked the necessity of praying to God “to help us in applying the logic of peace, reconciliation, forgiveness and life in Europe, the Holy Land, the Middle East, Africa.”

Despite the unanimous applause that greeted the pope’s address, this choice of language didn’t go unnoticed.

“There is still a long way to come,” as Di Segni stressed in an interview with the Italian Jewish newspaper Pagine Ebraiche hours before the papal visit. But after Sunday, there is a little more trust that the people from both banks of the Tiber can walk on it together.

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