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Latest News in Israel – 20th October

UNESCO adopts Jerusalem resolution denying Jewish link

After Mexico’s UNESCO ambassador walked out of vote on resolution denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem, Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen suggested way Mexico could try to trigger  re-vote • However, ratification goes forward without new vote.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Tuesday ratified its controversial resolution that denies any Jewish link to the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The ratification went forward despite a surprise last-minute attempt to trigger a re-vote after Mexico chose to withdraw its initial support for the motion. Mexico ultimately retracted its request for a re-vote, but announced at Tuesday’s meeting that it had changed its stance on the issue.

Mexico’s UNESCO ambassador, Andres Roemer, who is Jewish, walked out of last Thursday’s vote on the resolution in a personal protest against his country’s support for the resolution, threatening to resign over the matter. His action was followed by an appeal from Israeli UNESCO Ambassador Carmel Shama Hacohen urging him to make use of a rare provision that would allow Mexico to change its position in a re-vote.

Mexico was expected to put the clause to use at a UNESCO Executive Board meeting Tuesday, effectively canceling the original vote and re-tabling the issue. Instead, the resolution was not reopened for discussion and the ratification of the resolution proceeded as expected.

Mexico was one of 24 countries to vote in favor of the controversial resolution last Thursday, but was expected to abstain or oppose it in a re-vote.

A statement from the Mexican Foreign Ministry said the change in stance reflects “the undeniable link between the Jewish people and the cultural heritage in east Jerusalem,” as well as a deep appreciation for Mexico’s Jewish community.

Speaking before UNESCO’s decision to move forward without a re-vote, Hacohen said of Mexico’s plans to prompt a re-vote: “W e won’t give up and we will fight until the end and against all odds. Yesterday, I was in constant contact with the Mexican ambassador, who really touched my heart. In our last conversation, he told me that his resignation is inevitable, but that at least we can smile about managing to change Mexico’s stance with certainty into the future. I immediately asked him why only in the future if we can still change this vote, and I showed him the loophole in the UNESCO procedures that allows this. He then said, ‘If this is the case, I need to let the president of Mexico know right away; let me go run and deal with this.'”

Hacohen called Mexico’s plans to move forward with the provision a “diplomatic and moral achievement for Israel.”

At the same time, Brazil expressed discomfort with the text of the resolution and hinted that it may not support such positions going forward, despite backing it this time.

Israel unsuccessfully attempted to delay UNESCO’s scheduled ratification of the resolution. Concerned that Israel’s stance would prove popular, Arab countries in the body succeeded in pressuring UNESCO Executive Board chairman Michael Worbs, who had criticized the wording of the resolution, to suspend himself from chairing Tuesday’s meeting, stopping him from rescheduling the ratification. (Israel Hayom)

Morocco tipped off Israeli intelligence, ‘helped Israel win Six Day War’

Israel largely has Morocco to thank for its victory over its Arab enemies in the 1967 Six Day War, according to revelations by a former Israeli military intelligence chief.

In 1965, King Hassan ll passed recordings to Israel of a key meeting between Arab leaders held to discuss whether they were prepared for war against Israel.

That meeting not only revealed that Arab ranks were split — heated arguments broke out, for example, between Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Jordan’s king Hussein — but that the Arab nations were ill prepared for war, Maj. Gen. Shlomo Gazit told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper over the weekend.

On the basis of these recordings, as well as other intelligence information gathered in the years leading up to the war, Israel launched a preemptive strike on the morning of June 5, 1967, bombing Egyptian airfields and destroying nearly every Egyptian fighter plane.

During the war, which ended on June 10, Israel captured the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

King Hassan secretly recorded the 1965 meeting because he did not trust his Arab League guests, Yedioth said.

He initially allowed a joint team from Israel’s internal and external intelligence services, the Shin Bet and the Mossad — a unit known as “The Birds” — to occupy an entire floor of the luxury Casablanca hotel where the conference was to be held. However, fearing that the agents would be noticed by the Arab guests, the king told them to leave a day before the conference began.

Still, according to Rafi Eitan — an Israeli politician and former intelligence officer, who co-led “The Birds” together with Mossad legend Peter Zvi Malkin — the Moroccans “gave us all of the needed information, and didn’t deny us anything,” immediately after the conference ended. It was not clear whether Eitan spoke to Yedioth or had made the comments in the past.

Meir Amit, Mossad chief at the time, described the Morocco operation as “one of the crowning glories of Israeli intelligence ” in a memo to then-prime minister Levi Eshkol.

The Arab leaders had secretly convened in September 1965 at the Casablanca hotel, together with their military and intelligence chiefs, to discuss whether they were ready for war against Israel, and if so, whether they should create a joint Arab command for such a conflict.

There was agreement about the need to gear up for war, Yedioth Ahronoth reported, and the military commanders spoke openly about their capabilities.

The recordings of the discussions were given to the Research Department of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, where they were translated into Hebrew.

“These recordings, which were truly an extraordinary intelligence achievement, further showed us that, on the one hand, the Arab states were heading toward a conflict that we must prepare for. On the other hand, their rambling about Arab unity and having a united front against Israel didn’t reflect real unanimity among them,” said Gazit, who headed the research department at the time.

Thanks to the recordings, along with other sources, “we knew just how unprepared they were for war,” Gazit continued. “We reached the conclusion that the Egyptian Armored Corps was in pitiful shape and not prepared for battle.”

The commander of the IDF Armored Corps at the time, Maj. Gen. Israel Tal, “dismissed our opinion with scorn,” Gazit said, “saying that their situation couldn’t be that grave. We later saw who was right.”

The information in those recordings gave the Israeli army’s top brass the feeling “that we were going to win a war against Egypt. Prophecies of doom and the feeling of imminent defeat were prevalent among the majority in Israel and the officials outside the defense establishment, but we were confident in our strength.”

Gazit was appointed head of Military Intelligence after Israeli intelligence failed to anticipate Egypt and Syria’s attacks on Israel on Yom Kippur, October 1973.   (the Times of Israel)

IDF asks Russia to revise coordination in Syria

The IDF has approached the Russian Defense Ministry to request that new coordination procedures be developed now that Russia has stationed S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Syria, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

News of the IDF request first appeared in the Russian newspaper Izvestia.

Earlier this month, Russia’s defense ministry sent an S-300 missile system to its naval facility in the Syrian city of Tartus, in a measure meant to bolster its security.

The S-300 system is a series of long range surface-to-air missile systems that was developed to intercept ballistic missiles and which has already made headlines in the context of Russia’s sale of the system to Iran.

Russia’s sale of the S-300 systems to Iran, originally agreed upon in 2007, has been repeatedly delayed due to Western pressure given that UN nuclear sanctions ban the delivery to Iran.

“In the context of the hotline between [Israel and Russia], the Israelis sent us a request to develop new procedures and open-fire rules to be added to the existing coordination mechanism,” a Russian source told Izvestia on Sunday, adding that the request was made in an effort to prevent Russian missile systems in Syria from firing at Israeli aircraft by mistake.

“We are currently developing our response and will send it to the Israelis in the context of the agreed upon procedures between the [two] sides,” the source said, according to Haaretz.

Alex Tenzer, an expert on Russian-Israeli relations, told Haaretz that the reinforcement of Russian forces in Syria and particularly the stationing of the S-300 missiles is part of a Russia battle against the United States, and not against Israel.

Israel and Russia have a joint mechanism to coordinate military operations in Syria, and in particular concerning the use of Syrian airspace. The mechanism was agreed upon during a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Putin late last year.

The S-300 system is considered one of the most advanced aerial defense systems in the world. Beyond the system’s advanced radar, which is capable of identifying and tracking a large number of targets at a particularly long range, the anti-aircraft missiles themselves have a 200-kilometer (125-mile) range.

In recent years, several reports had appeared regarding Russia’s intention to transfer S-300 missiles to the Syrian army, noted Haaretz. On each occasion, Israel applied heavy pressure on Russia at the highest levels, including talks that on Israel’s behalf involved former President Shimon Peres, current President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu with both Putin and with his predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev.

As of now, Russia has not provided the missile system to the Syrian army.  (Arutz Sheva)

Australian Greens leader slammed for Peres critique

The leader of the Australian Greens party was slammed by fellow lawmakers and a Jewish group for attacking the late Shimon Peres in a speech in the Senate.

Speaking on October 13, two weeks after the former Israeli president died at 93, Sen. Richard Di Natale sought to counter depictions of Peres as a statesman and a peacemaker.

“It is important to put on the record that Shimon Peres has been described as an architect of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, which to this day remains outside the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency; that he was the father of the settler movement, which involves the confiscation of large swaths of Palestinian land; and that in 1996, he oversaw Operation Grapes of Wrath, which involved the death of 154 civilians in Lebanon and involved the shelling of a United Nations compound, which killed 106 sheltering civilians,” Di Natale said.

“While he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, members of that committee have expressed regret that the prize could not be recalled on the basis of the actions that followed,” he said.

The left-wing lawmaker was referring to reports in 2002 that after Israel launched a massive anti-terror operation in the West Bank, while Peres was serving as foreign minister, individual members of the Norwegian prize committee said they regretted giving Peres the honor for having helped broker the Israeli-Palestinian accords.

Parliament member Michael Danby of the Labor Party blasted the remarks the following day, saying that Di Natale, “to his shame, denigrated” Peres” and “again showed his total insensitivity and his hatred of a Jewish state.”

He added: “It was unprecedented for the head of a political party to attack the recently deceased head of state who was known for values of peace and reconciliation with which the fake Green party ostensibly identifies.”

Danby also defended Peres’ role in Israel’s acquisition of nuclear technology, calling it a “fail-safe” following the near extermination of European Jewry during the Holocaust.

Di Natale made his remarks after major party leaders in the parliament offered motions commemorating Peres and emphasizing his Nobel Peace Prize.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issued a statement calling Peres “a world-renowned statesman, as was attested to by the eloquent eulogies at his funeral by most of the world’s leading political figures, including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.”

“Unlike Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who said Peres’s death is ‘a heavy loss for all humanity and for peace in the region,’ Senator di Natale could find not a single positive thing to say on Peres’s passing,” the statement said. “The Senator’s graceless criticisms of Shimon Peres shortly after his passing reflect poorly on himself and the Australian Greens, and suggest that their leader is a political captive of the extremists in his party.”  (JTA)

How UNESCO erases history

by Yair Lapid                    The Times of israel


Bob Dylan, who was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, has a wonderful song called “Forever Young,” which begins with the words: “May God bless and keep you always, May your wishes all come true.”

Dylan says he took those wonderful lines from an ancient Jewish prayer which appears in the Book of Numbers, chapter 6, verse 24. That prayer is the earliest scripture ever found. It was discovered carved into silver tablets from the days of the First Temple. They were found in a cave in Jerusalem, written in ancient Hebrew. Researchers dated them to around 600 BCE. Already then, Jerusalem was a vibrant Jewish city where life, trade, prayers and even disputes took place in Hebrew.

Hebrew was also the language used by Jesus 600 years later when he entered Jerusalem riding a donkey.

Maybe that’s why the latest decision by UNESCO is so offensive and infuriating; it denies the connection between Jerusalem and Jews (and Judaism). They don’t bother to explain the decision, but just arbitrarily decided that the Temple Mount and Western Wall Plaza, which lies next to it, belong to the Palestinians, while using only the Arabic names of the two places (despite the fact that the Al Aqsa Mosque was built on the ruins of the Jewish Temple some 1,300 years later).

UNESCO decided to wipe out the history as it really was for political reasons. Along the way, it wiped out its own integrity, its goals and any remaining faith and respect anyone may have had for the organization.

What is even more embarrassing is that democratic nations with an understanding of history ­ countries like Italy, France and Spain ­ abstained from that vote. Are Christians in Europe willing to silently allow the deletion of 3,000 years of Jewish history and 2,000 years of Christian history? I know it sounds like I’m intentionally taking it to the absurd extreme, but why is it absurd when it comes to Europe and not when someone tries to deny not only Israel’s present, but also its past?

This resolution is so extreme, and its motives so offensive that it even created discomfort within UNESCO. The Chairperson of the UNESCO Executive Board apologized for it and said that regarding the Jewish connection to Jerusalem he is, “very well aware of that and personally would never deny that.” The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, distanced herself from the decision and clarified that “Jerusalem is the city of King David.” I take my hat off to them both for their honesty but it only emphasizes the madness: two leaders of UNESCO have to state publicly that what is written in the Bible and in the history books is right, because the organization they lead argues the opposite.

I wasn’t surprised. The obsession of some UN organizations towards Israel is no secret. In the past decade, the UN Human Rights Council has passed 61 resolutions condemning human rights violations across the world, from the 400,000 murdered in Syria through Afghanistan to Iraq and other conflict zones in the world. In that same decade, the organization passed 67 resolutions condemning Israel. That isn’t a typographical error. The UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel, a democracy that abides by international law and protects minority rights, more times than the rest of the world combined.

Other UN organizations have also taken part in this madness. In 2014, for example, the UN General Assembly had 24 condemnation resolutions and 20 of them were against Israel, while only 1 dealt with Syria. The World Health Organization condemned only one country in its last report, Israel. The condemnation focused on what the World Health Organization called “the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights.” It didn’t mention the fact that on the other side of the Golan Heights, in Syria, tens of thousands of children are being murdered and that Israel’s only involvement in health issues is that we bring injured children from Syria into our hospitals for treatment.

I could go on with examples, but I think the point is clear. Facts apparently don’t concern the various UN organizations. When you tell them the only logical explanation is anti-Semitism, they appear shocked and say it’s appalling that Israelis always use that argument. Really?

Do you have another explanation for the obsessive focus on one nation, one group, on conflict? Do you have another explanation for why the only Middle Eastern country to guarantee freedom of religion for everyone (try to think of another) is the one attacked on a daily basis?

Do you have another explanation why UNESCO ignores the fact that Israel, the Jewish state, bans Jews from praying on the Temple Mount so as not to offended Muslim sensibilities?

Do you have another explanation why the resolution condemns the fact that the Jews who visit the Temple Mount are “right wing,” which is a blatant intervention in internal Israeli politics? What does it matter to UNESCO which side of the political map they come from? Who wrote that clause into the decision?

Aside from the fact that the resolution is scandalous, it’s also dangerous. The Temple Mount is the most sensitive site in the Middle East, maybe the world. The wave of terrorism against Israel this past year broke out because of conspiracy theories, spread by Islamic fundamentalists, that Israel was trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount. Israel stated and explained that we have no intention of changing the status quo or impinging on Muslim rights. I’m a member of the opposition government in Israel, but on this I can testify that our government speaks the truth and stands by it, despite the difficulties.

When young Palestinians who have already been fueled by incitement against Israel read a decision like this one by UNESCO, they become convinced that the conspiracy theories are true. The next stage is that they take a knife, a gun or a Molotov cocktail and carry out a terror attack. People will die. Innocent people who have done nothing wrong will die. That’s usually what happens when irresponsible organizations get involved in complex situations which they don’t understand.

When UNESCO’s Executive Board votes to ratify this resolution those countries who abstained should cast a real vote and take a stand. They can stand for history, facts and truth or they can admit they have a problem with Jews, which is just a reminder why our people need a strong and free country.

Member of Knesset Yair Lapid is the Chairperson of Yesh Atid, a former Finance Minister and member of the Security Cabinet, and currently sits on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

UNESCO is so Anti-Semitic, it should be wound up

by Michael Rubin   Newsweek


By denying Jerusalem’s Jewish and Christian history, UNESCO shows it’s not fit for purpose.

On October 13, 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a body charged with protecting and defending culture and cultural heritage, voted on a resolution denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

The good news, as UN Watch noted, is that the resolution passed with only a plurality. Normally, anti-Israel resolutions pass with overwhelming majorities.

Still, the resolution is itself so toxic that it delegitimizes UNESCO and raises questions about its continued existence. In effect, UNESCO has become so polluted by political hate that it has embraced a resolution that advances a counterfactual narrative completely at odds with the archaeological, cultural and historical record.

It is one thing to criticize Israel and Israeli politics, but it’s quite another to suggest that there is neither Jewish history nor legitimate ties to Jerusalem. That’s akin to saying Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was never a church or that C órdoba cathedral was never a mosque.

In effect, rather than advance cultural preservation, UNESCO is laying the groundwork for ethnic and sectarian cleansing.

Among the countries voting for the UNESCO resolution were China, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Mexico. In effect, they demonstrate how easy it is to abet hatred and anti-Semitism so long as the money coming from Arab states and Iran is right.

Again, diplomatic opposition to Israeli policies is no excuse, as UNESCO is supposed to be a cultural institution. The abstainers, however ­among them France, India, Argentina, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, Greece and Italy­ really are no better. After all, at issue is a clear matter of historical fact.

Only six countries­ the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia­ opposed the resolution.

Organizations form for good reasons. Few foresaw how the U.N. Human Rights Commission (later the U.N. Human Rights Council) would transform itself into a body to launder and excuse the worst human rights violations.

When the U.N. founded the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the organization genuinely hoped it could resettle Palestinian refugees in Arab countries within a few years and disband; its founders never would have believed UNRWA would become a mechanism to launder money for terrorists and hide their weaponry.

UNESCO is simply the latest organization that has outlived its utility and now threatens more harm than good.

The U.N. General Assembly and Security Council are valuable as places for countries to meet and discuss common problems, but outgoing U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been far more interested in traveling and grandstanding than repairing the internal rot that infuses the organization over which he presides.

Already, some U.N. diplomats are scrambling to paper over the UNESCO resolution and, feeding from the trough of bloated U.N. salaries, why shouldn’t they? But sometimes, when gangrene sets in, the best recourse is amputation.

It’s time to let UNESCO fade into the dustbin of history and allow a new organization­ perhaps one less beholden to politics and therefore outside the formal mechanisms of the U.N.­assume the responsibility to protect cultural heritage.

Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. He instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan on regional politics, and teaches classes regarding Iran, terrorism and Arab politics on board deploying U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen and both pre- and post-war Iraq, and he spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. His book Dancing With the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes examines a half-century of U.S. diplomacy with rogue regimes and extremist groups.

Unprepared but able to improvise

by Yossi Melman                             The Jerusalem Post


The IDF managed to destroy 31 tunnels – not because they followed a pre-arranged, trained doctrine – but because they improvised.

IDF soldiers tunnels Gaza

Soldiers from the elite IDF Engineering Corps Yahalom unit train for tunnel warfare

The three Bs – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz – were the ones at the helm during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Netanyahu boasted to journalists in recent months that the trio, the political and military echelon, acted in harmony and fully in concert with each other.

But on Tuesday, the military correspondent of Army Radio revealed details of a secret report about the IDF’s lack of preparation for Hamas’s attack tunnels into Israel.

That revelation caused a crack in the united front of the three Bs.

According to the report, which is more of an internal IDF inquiry, the army was not operationally ready to deal with the tunnel threat.

“On the eve of the operation, field commanders were not properly briefed,” the report noted, “and the tunnels were for most of them an enigma.” The report adds, “There was recognition of the threat, but its dimensions were not understood.”

The report, prepared by Maj.-Gen. Yossi Bachar, also states that while units such as the Combat Engineers Corps and some special forces were trained and briefed on the tunnels challenge, most of the formations thrown into the battle lacked knowledge how to neutralize them once they were exposed.

In short, the IDF managed to destroy 31 tunnels – not because they followed a pre-arranged, trained doctrine – but because they improvised.

It must, however, be emphasized that the report doesn’t negate the claim that the military had advance intelligence about most of the tunnels.

In other words, the report deals with the tactical operational aspect, and not the intelligence-political- strategic dimension.

That aspect will be addressed by the state comptroller, who is due to publish his own detailed report in the future. Based on leaks of the draft report, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira has claimed that Netanyahu and Ya’alon were neither sensitive nor attentive enough to take the threat of attack tunnels seriously.

Both men deny the accusation, and both provided the comptroller with data on the many inner cabinet meetings they convened and the specific instructions given to the military to deal with the challenge.

In response to the leaked report, army sources said that the Bachar report is an old, internal inquiry, which shows how seriously the tunnels problem is dealt with by the army.

The report well serves current Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot; under his leadership the army is giving special intelligence, technological and operational attention to the tunnels.

The leak also serves Netanyahu and Ya’alon well, who can argue that they are not the ones to be blamed. The question is whether Gantz – known for his easygoing and soft-spoken behavior – will be ready to quietly absorb the accusation.

IDF celebrates Sukkot near Iron Dome

IDF celebrate Succot near an Iron Dome placement

Naftali Bennet takes us on an unforgettable tour of Jerusalem

Move the video around with your finger or mouse for the full 360° experience!


A Special Sukkot Holiday Greeting from the IDF

Here is a special Sukkot holiday greeting from the Israeli Defense Forces, which also explains what the holiday is all about.

The holiday of Sukkot is a time of great joy for the Jewish people.

This holiday is a connection to the period that the Jewish people spent wandering the desert after a gruelling, brutal exile as slaves in Egypt.

No matter the holiday, the IDF always makes sure to send out special greetings to the people of Israel and all over the world.