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Latest News in Israel – 1st June

Reviving Hebrew: The Modern Language of the Ancients

Eliezer Ben Yehuda, author of the first modern Hebrew dictionary and editor of the first Hebrew-language daily newspaper, became known as the “reviver” of the Hebrew language.

One man was the driving force behind the revival of the ancient language of Hebrew.

A visionary linguist who realized the dream of transforming an ages-old language to meet the modern needs of life in the Land of Israel, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, author of the first modern Hebrew dictionary and editor of the first Hebrew-language daily newspaper, became known as the “reviver” of the Hebrew language.

Watch how today’s Hebrew was brought to life by Eliezer Ben Yehuda (1858-1922) and see why young people keep visiting his house in Jerusalem.        (MFA)

Lieberman Sworn in as Defense Minister After Stormy Knesset Session

MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) was sworn in as defense minister in the Knesset on Monday evening, after a political crisis between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Habayit Heyudi’s Naftali Bennett put the nomination in jeopardy.

The Knesset voted 55 in favor of Lieberman’s appointment and 43 apposed. MK Benny Begin (Likud) abstained. With his appointment as minister, Lieberman resigned from the Knesset, allowing his party’s Yulia Melinkovski to take his place in the parliament in his stead.

Speaking at the Knesset after the ceremony, Netanyahu and Lieberman announced their commitment to the two-state solution and their willingness to negotiate with the Arab nations over the Arab Peace Initiative.

“We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” Netanyahu said.

Lieberman seconded Netayahu’s statement and said that his party was a long-time supporter of the two-state solution. “There was a lot of speculation about what the policy of the government would be. I want to remind people that for many years Yisrael Beytenu decided, and I spoke more than once about recognizing, that same solution of two states for two peoples,” he said.

“I think that President al-Sisi’s speech was very important and has created a genuine opportunity. We must try to pick up the gauntlet,” Lieberman added, referring to statements made by the Egyptian president earlier in May urging Israel to resume talks with the Palestinians and neighboring states.

“I absolutely agree that the Arab [Peace] Initiative also has some very, very positive elements that enable a serious dialogue with all our neighbors in the region,” he added.

Lieberman, the leader of a far-right party which is mostly supported by immigrants from the former Soviet Union, joined Netanyahu’s coalition earlier this month in a surprise move after negotiations to bring the center-left Zionist Union into the coalition failed.

Lieberman’s swearing in as defense minister was uncertain until Sunday, as Habayit Hayehudi’s Naftali Bennett posed an ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his faction would vote against the nomination in the Knesset unless changes were made to the way the security cabinet works.

The crisis was effectively ended when Bennett and Netanyahu accepted a proposal from Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who suggested that acting National Security Council chairman Yaakov Nagel or one of his deputies should serve as “security cabinet secretary,” responsible for briefing the ministers on defense and diplomatic developments.

Lieberman’s swearing in ceremony was preceded by a lengthy discussion in the Knesset, when one-by-one opposition lawmakers took the podium to bash the nomination and criticize Netanyahu’s political conduct in recent weeks.

“I say to Israel what I said on the day I resigned Netanyahu’s cabinet: Netanyahu isn’t the solution – he’s part of the problem,” MK Amir Peretz (Labor) said. Peretz, who was subjected to criticism over his purported lack of credentials when he served as defense minister in Olmert’s government, added: “I have no personal issue with Avigdor Lieberman. I have no problem with a civilian stepping into the Defense Ministry.” He said that he’s sure that Lieberman would tone down his rhetoric once he assumes office, and wished him luck.

His fellow party member Miki Rosenthal was more critical. “This is a racist man, a violent man convicted of assaulting a person, this is an irresponsible man whose promises and actions have nothing to do with each other, and of course this is a corrupt man – Lieberman’s ties with all sorts of questionable individuals is highly troubling,” he said.

MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) clarified that he wasn’t concerned with the new defense minister. “There are more dangerous people. The prime minister, for example. Since the election he stole Lieberman’s agenda and raised incitement against Arabs to a dangerous art form,” he said. Tibi went on to attack Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog’s attempts to join Netanyahu’s coalition. “Usually, the opposition ousts the government. This time, the government ousted the opposition and crowned Lieberman.”     (Haáretz)

Netanyahu, Liberman partially endorse Arab peace initiative

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his acceptance of some elements of the so-called Arab Peace initiative as a basis for talks on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said Monday evening at the Knesset in Jerusalem. “We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples.”

Also known as the Saudi Initiative, the plan is a proposal which the Arab League in 2002 adopted and which calls for Israel’s withdrawal of land captured in 1967 and a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee issue in exchange for full normalization of ties between Israel and the league’s 22 member states. Critics of Israel’s response to the proposal argue Jerusalem never gave its answer to the offer.

Yet critics of the Saudi Initiative have said that the language on Palestinian refugees is too vague given what Israeli prime ministers, including Netanyahu, have described as the Palestinian leaderships dream of ending Israel’s existence as a Jewish state by flooding it with people whom the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority consider refugees. They also maintained that withdrawing from the Golan Heights would expose Israel to excessive risk.

But Netanyahu said on Monday that he welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi recent offer to help broker a peace deal with the Palestinians, with help from other Arab states, which el-Sissi made in a speech earlier this month. “We welcome the recent speech by Egyptian President el-Sisi and his offer to help advance peace and security in the region,” Netanyahu said.

Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s newly-appointed defense minister, said that “President Sissi’s speech was very important; it creates a genuine opportunity that obligates us to pick up the gauntlet,” adding: “I certainly agree that in the Arab Peace Initiative there are some very positive elements that will enable us to conduct serious dialogue with our neighbors in the region.”

Next week, France’s foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, is preparing to host in Paris a summit devoted to discussing a French initiative for talks, whose premise Israel opposes because it reportedly sets a deadline, after which France will recognize a Palestinian state regardless of the talks’ outcome. Netanyahu also objected to the absence of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians in the details of the proposal.

Neither Netanyahu nor Liberman mentioned the French initiative in their speeches at the Knesset.             (JTA)

Ya’alon Reaches Out to U.S. Donors in Preparation for Potential PM Run

Former Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon has begun the first phase of launching a potential run for prime minister as head of a new political party, or by forming an alliance with former disgruntled colleagues, by reaching out to potential donors in a letter sent in English and independently obtained by Jewish Insider.

“I entered politics out of a sense of commitment to the State of Israel and its security and for this reason I am not considering quitting the public or political arena,” Ya’alon, who resigned from the Netanyahu government earlier this month, wrote. “I regard this period as a ‘time-out’ after which I intend to return and run for Israel’s national leadership.”

In a move that shocked the political world and his colleagues in the Likud Party, Ya’alon resigned from the cabinet and the Knesset after negotiations with Yisrael Beiteinu advanced and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his long-time rival Avigdor Lieberman the defense portfolio.

Ya’alon explained the surprising move by refusing to “sacrifice the needs of our nation or the security of our citizens in favor of political or personal agendas.”

He added, “Of late I have found myself in disagreement with the prime minister and with certain ministers and members of the Knesset over a number of fundamental issues both morally and professionally. I am saddened to witness the fact that a small and extreme minority are taking over sectors of the Likud party and influencing parts of Israel’s complex society. It is unfortunate that some of Israel’s most senior politicians have chosen the path of separation and incitement instead of reducing the flames of conflict.”

Ya’alon concluded his letter by thanking his donors for their support over the years, adding, “I sincerely hope that we will keep in touch, and hope that you will always feel free to continue to remain in contact with me in the future.”

The content of the letter was first reported by The Jerusalem Post.

A poll published on Friday showed that if elections to the Knesset were held now, a new party headed by Ya’alon, former Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, would win 25 seats. That would put the new party ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud, which would fall to 21 seats from its current 30.

In 2015, during the Likud primaries, Ya’alon raised 1,167,503.48 shekels from 201 contributors. Top U.S. donors include the Falic family, Ken Bialkin, Ken Abramowitz, Adam Milstein, Melvin Salberg, Lawrence Feigen, Eric Mandel, the Asher family, David Kronfeld, among others.

Read the full letter below:

Dear Friend ,

I hope this letter finds you in good health.

About a week ago, I informed the prime minister that I wished to tender my resignation as a member of the Government and of the Knesset.

I entered politics out of a sense of commitment to the State of Israel and its security and for this reason I am not considering quitting the public or political arena. I regard this period as a “time-out” after which I intend to return and run for Israel’s national leadership.

In the past in whichever capacity I served whether in uniform or in the Cabinet as a Minister I have always had Israel’s best interests in mind particularly pertaining to her security. I have always refused to sacrifice the needs of our nation or the security of our citizens in favor of political or personal agendas.

I worked closely with the prime minister in a most professional and practical manner for a lengthy period time.This mutual co-operation was most effective while leading “Operation Protective Edge” and for this I thank him. Of late I have found myself in disagreement with the prime minister and with certain ministers and members of the Knesset over a number of fundamental issues both morally and professionally.

I am saddened to witness the fact that a small and extreme minority are taking over sectors of the Likud party and influencing parts of Israel’s complex society.

It is unfortunate that some of Israel’s most senior politicians have chosen the path of separation and incitement instead of reducing the flames of conflict. A strong leadership should be driven by a sense of moral standards and this path should be pursued even in the face of opposition. When leadership is driven by electoral considerations and swayed by public opinion this is an avenue I can no longer traverse with a clear conscience.

I do not regret the moral and professional stand that I took and am unwilling to alter my opinions. I realize the personal cost – ending my position as Minister of Defense.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your friendship and support over the years and sincerely hope that we will keep in touch.

I have always considered the naturally strong bond between Israel and World Jewry of prime importance. It is vital to the State of Israel and I am personally very grateful for all you have done and are continuing to do to strengthen that bond.

In conclusion – on a more personal note may I express my appreciation for your friendship and hope that you will always feel free to continue to remain in contact with me in the future.

With best regards

Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon                                      (Haáretz)

Israel intercepts Gaza-bound drone shipment

Terror organizations have taken to trying a new way to send drones and weapons into the Gaza Strip – by mail.

Israeli security forces intercepted a mailed shipment of 10 motorized drones at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza, the Defense Ministry announced Tuesday.

A transmitter and receiver used to transmit video signals at 5.8GHz signal, which is not approved for use in Israel and the Palestinian Authorities, was also confiscated.

Over the past few weeks, terror organizations in Gaza have been caught attempting to send weapons and drones through the mail. Security forces have witnessed the phenomenon of drones being sent in disassembled pieces.

Security checks by the Defense Ministry’s Crossings Authority’s and the Shin Bet (Israel’s security agency) at the Erez Crossing have thwarted dozens of attempts to send weapons through the mail.             (Jerusalem Post)

Normalization talks with Turkey advancing

Israeli and Turkish officials confirmed on Monday that, after six years, the two countries are close to normalizing ties.

“We are close to reaching a deal, but we are sill not there,” a senior Israeli official said.

Two of Ankara’s three conditions for reaching an agreement have been met, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.

Turkish and Israeli officials plan to hold more meetings toward the restoration of high-level diplomatic ties, he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

The two sides remain at odds over Israeli restrictions on the flow of goods into Gaza as well as the IDF’s aerial and naval blockade of the Strip.

Ankara is insisting that Israel lift all its restrictions on Gaza, including the military blockade.

Israel has refused to cede to this request.

Jerusalem and Ankara lowered the level of their diplomatic ties in 2010 after the IDF halted a Gaza-bound flotilla intent on breaking Israel’s naval blockade.

The IDF killed 10 Turkish activists in the violent clashes that broke out when they forcibly boarded the Mavi Marmara ship. Ambassadors from both countries were recalled, but the embassies remained open. Lower level ties, including tourism and business, have continued.

In 2013, both countries pledged to reconcile their differences and work toward restoring normal ties after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called former Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and expressed regret for Israel’s role in the deaths.

He did so at the tail end of a visit by US President Barack Obama, who had worked behind the scenes to bring both countries to the negotiating table.

Israeli and Turkish officials have worked out an Israeli compensation mechanism for the Mavi Marmara incident.

Ankara also is looking to mend its ties with Russia, which soured after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria last year.

Kurtulmus said the two countries do not have insurmountable problems, adding he thinks ties with Russia will be fixed in a “short while”.

Netanyahu will fly to Moscow next month to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between the Israel and Russia.                           (Jerusalem Post)

CRIF’s new president: French Jews’ situation worst since 1945

French Jews are experiencing the most difficult situation they have encountered since the end of World War II, the newly-elected president of France’s umbrella of Jewish communities said.

Francis Kalifat, 64, said Sunday that his first priority as president of CRIF is to fight against the anti-Semitism that he said was responsible for the situation he described.

“The fight against anti-Semitism is our main cause because French Jews are in the most difficult situation they have experience since World War II,” Kalifat said during an interview with Radio J shortly after his unanimous election to succeed Roger Cukierman as president.

Kalifat, who was born in Algeria and is the first Sephardic Jew to hold the position since CRIF’s establishment in 1944, was the only candidate running this election.

His presidency, which will become effective next month, comes at a time of record emigration by Jews from France, partly because of anti-Semitic violence that included hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents annually in recent years, and dozens of physical assaults. Since 2012, attacks on Jewish targets by French Islamists in France and Belgium claimed the lives of 12 people. Last year, roughly 8,000 French Jews left for Israel — the highest number on record for any year, which made France for the second year straight Israel’s largest provider of newcomers.

“I think all of our force needs to be united to fight against this anti-Semitism in all its forms, because we see this new anti-Semitism advancing under the guise of anti-Zionism,” added Kalifat, a businessman and longtime activist for Zionist and Jewish causes who is CRIF’s 11th president.

Fulfilling a role similar to Britain’s Board of Deputies of British Jews, CRIF is widely considered to be the main representative political body of French Jews, hosting French presidents and prime minister at events and gala dinners several times a year. The CRIF presidential election takes place every three years.

France’s Jewish community in predominantly Sephardic, with Ashkenazi Jews estimated to constitute a minority of 30 percent of the community. Roughly half of French Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Hundreds of thousands of Jews later immigrated to France from North Africa, replenishing the community’s ranks. Yet CRIF has had a succession of Ashkenazi presidents, in what some critics said reflected a disconnect between the organization’s constituents and its leadership.

Following his election by the CRIF executive council, Kalifat delivered a speech that he began by recalling his parents.

“My mother, a real Jewish mother, was always understanding, warm and tolerant,” he said. “My father was a police official who loyally served our country and taught me humbleness, patience and respect for others but above all — a sense of duty.”    (Arutz Sheva)

The Left vs. Israel

By Daniel Pipes            Washington Times

www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/30/daniel-pipes-left-vs-israel/

Since the creation of Israel, Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims have been the mainstay of anti-Zionism, with the Left, from the Soviet Union to professors of literature, their auxiliary. But this might be in process of change: as Muslims slowly, grudgingly, and unevenly come to accept the Jewish state as a reality, the Left is becoming increasingly vociferous and obsessive in its rejection of Israel.

Much evidence points in this direction: Polls in the Middle East find cracks in the opposition to Israel while a major American survey for the first time shows liberal Democrats to be more anti-Israel than pro-Israel. The Saudi and Egyptian governments have real security relations with Israel while a figure like (the Jewish) Bernie Sanders declares that “to the degree that [Israelis] want us to have a positive relationship, I think they’re going to have to improve their relationship with the Palestinians.”

But I should like to focus on a small illustrative example from a United Nations institution: The World Health Organization churned out report A69/B/CONF./1 on May 24 with the enticing title, “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan: Draft decision proposed by the delegation of Kuwait, on behalf of the Arab Group, and Palestine.”

The three-page document calls for “a field assessment conducted by the World Health Organization,” with special focus on such topics as “incidents of delay or denial of ambulance service” and “access to adequate health services on the part of Palestinian prisoners.” Of course, the entire document singles out Israel as a denier of unimpeded access to health care.

This ranks as a special absurdity given the WHO’s hiring a consultant in next-door Syria who is connected to the very pinnacle of the Assad regime, even as it perpetrates atrocities estimated at a half million dead and 12 million displaced (out of a total pre-war population of 22 million). Conversely, both the wife and brother-in-law of Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, whose status and wealth assures them treatment anywhere in the world, chose to be treated in Israeli hospitals, as did the sister, daughter, and grand-daughter of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Israel’s sworn enemy.

Despite these facts, the WHO voted on May 28 to accept the proposed field assessment with the predictably lopsided outcome of 107 votes in favor, 8 votes against, 8 abstentions and 58 absences. So far, all this is tediously routine.

But the composition of those voting blocs renders the decision noteworthy. Votes in favor included every state in Europe except two, Bosnia-Herzegovina (which has a half-Muslim population) and San Marino (total population: 33,000), both of which missed the vote for reasons unknown to me.

To repeat: Every other European government than those two supported a biased field assessment with its inevitable condemnation of Israel. To be specific, this included the authorities ruling in Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Making this European near-unanimity the more remarkable were the many absented governments with large- to overwhelming-majority-Muslim populations: Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, and Turkmenistan.

So, Iceland (with effectively no Muslims) voted for the amendment and against Israel while Turkmenistan (which is over 90 percent Muslim) did not. Cyprus and Greece, which have critical new relations with Israel, voted against Israel while the historically hostile Libyans missed the vote. Germany, with its malignant history, voted against Israel while Tajikistan, a partner of the Iranian regime’s, was absent. Denmark, with its noble history, voted against Israel while Sudan, led by an Islamist, did not.

This unlikely pattern suggests that monolithic Muslim hostility is cracking while Europeans, who are overwhelmingly on the Left, to the point that even right-wing parties pursue watered-down left-wing policies, increasingly despise Israel. Worse, even those who do not share this attitude go along with it, even in an obscure WHO vote.

Muslims, not leftists, still staff almost all the violent attacks on Israel; and Islamism, not socialism, remains the reigning anti-Zionist ideology. But these changes point to Israel’s cooling relations with the West and warming ones in its neighborhood.

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.

Invented in Israel but produced in China

Mifold portable childrens seats