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Latest News in Israel – 2nd September

IDF hunting for Palestinian gunman who shot and injured soldier in Nablus

The IDF and Shin Bet intelligence agency have launched an intensive hunt for a Palestinian gunman who shot and injured an IDF soldier overnight between Wednesday and Thursday near Joseph’s Tomb.

Paramedics evacuated the soldier, in moderate and stable condition, to the Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva.

The search for the attacker is focused on intelligence leads, army source said.

The shooting occurred as the IDF secured 16 buses of Jewish worshipers who arrived at the holy site, during which several riots broke out.

During the disturbances, Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails and burning tire at security forces, who responded with riot dispersal means. The IDF said prayers went on without disruption.             (Jerusalem Post)

Police do damage control after Alsheich remarks

The Israel Police on Wednesday sought to hamper criticism of Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich’s controversial remarks regarding policing of Ethiopian Israelis, amid demands emanating from the Ethiopian-Israeli community for an apology and the top cop’s resignation.

Alsheich has not retracted the comments, but instead sought to clarify them.

On Tuesday he said that some officers are “naturally” suspicious of Ethiopian Israelis. “When a policeman meets a suspect [of Ethiopian descent or other groups with higher crime rates], naturally he is more suspicious than with others. We know this. We have started to deal with this,” Alsheich said at the Israel Bar Association Conference in Tel Aviv, causing an uproar among Ethiopian Israelis and some MKs.

On Wednesday, Alsheich spoke with Ziva Mekonen-Degu, the executive director of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, seeking to clarify his comments. “When there is an increase in crime there is over-policing.

When a police officer sees an Ethiopian he translates the color of the skin so anyone who walks down the street is a suspect, and we are educating the officers how to deal with this,” Alsheich said during the meeting, Walla reported.

Alsheich continued, comparing the issue of over-policing facing Israelis of Ethiopian decent to policing issues that faced other Israeli communities. “This process is what we went through with the waves of immigration in Israel.

Many have forgotten what we went through with the Yemenites, with the Russians, the Moroccans and those from the Caucasus,” he said. “What occurs today with the community of Ethiopian descent happened with all the immigrant communities,” Walla reported.

A police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday in an emailed statement that Alsheich’s comments from the previous day referred to “a phenomena accompanied by all waves of immigration to Israel that are a part of the process of socialization with the society.”

Despite attempted clarifications, many in the Ethiopian-Israeli community are still not satisfied.

In a statement on Wednesday, MK Avraham Neguise called for Alsheich to issue an apology. “The police commissioner’s words again raised the lack of trust between the community and police. Although he called and told me what he meant, once again I urge the police commissioner to stand up and apologize to the community and the Israeli society,” Neguise said.

Hana Elazar Legesse, spokeswoman for the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, called Mekonen-Degu’s conversation with Alsheich “terrible” because the police chief did not retract his offensive statement.

“It is a pity that [Alsheich] continues to whitewash and continues to expound his beliefs; we are not immigrants, we are citizens of Israel,” she said. “This is a huge problem because a man who stands in such a significant position cannot be able to say these things – he needs to resign.”

Police spokeswoman Merav Lapidot appeared on Channel 10’s morning show and said that Ethiopian- Israeli youth are seen “just like our kids.” Lapidot contended that Alsheich’s statements were misunderstood.

“The police chief says that if there is a problem in understanding the message it was probably delivered the wrong way,” said Lapidot.

Police had issued a clarification a few hours after Alsheich’s statement saying that the comments “had no intention to harm Israelis of Ethiopian origin,” but were meant to improve police efforts in Ethiopian communities.

The police are also taking responsibility for “over-policing” in the communities.

“In the 26 police stations located in communities of Ethiopian-Israelis we teach officers differently, they take responsibility and review the case files for years back. In places where an Ethiopian youth has a single offense of insulting an officer or obstructing an officer in the line of duty we throw out the cases; that’s [those cases] over-policing,” Lapidot said.

“After a thorough self-examination we found that indeed there is over-policing with regards to officers and the Ethiopian community,” the police said in their clarification of Alsheich’s comments.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan backed the commissioner in a statement on Tuesday. “The police chief did not justify the phenomenon of over-policing against Israelis of Ethiopian origin. He did just the opposite. He said boldly that there is such a problem and the police are taking care of it,” Erdan said.

In spring 2015, thousands of Ethiopian Israelis took to the streets protesting racism and police brutality, leading to the formation of an interministerial task force that sought to address racism towards Ethiopian Israelis. The committee released a 170-page report with 53 recommendations for government offices, including the police, in July 2016.           (Jerusalem Post)

Israel, Iran and Pakistan said cooperating on landmark science project

Israeli scientists are reportedly participating with colleagues from Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and Jordan on a $100 million project to develop the Middle East’s new particle accelerator — the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications, or Sesame.

Construction of the site, which is due to be formally inaugurated next spring in the hillside town of al-Balqa, northwest of Amman, is underway and the first experiments are expected to take place this autumn, The Guardian reported.

Sesame’s members are Iran, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Bahrain — a group among which diplomatic discomfort is rife: Iran and Pakistan don’t recognize Israel, for example, nor does Turkey recognize Cyprus.

Iran’s participation continued even after two of its scientists, who were involved in the project, quantum physicist Masoud Alimohammadi and nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, were assassinated in operations blamed on Israel’s Mossad, The Guardian said.

“We’re cooperating very well together,” said Giorgio Paolucci, the scientific director of Sesame told The Guardian. “That’s the dream.”

“I don’t know how many places there are where all these governments have representatives who have the opportunity to come and talk to each other,” he added.

Progress on the accelerator is made through government officials meeting, discussing technicalities and coming to agreements, unaffected by the enmity they may feel outside the conference halls, the report said.

The aim of Sesame is to “foster scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighboring countries” and prevent or reverse regional brain drain “by enabling world-class scientific research in subjects ranging from biology, archaeology and medical sciences through basic properties of materials science, physics, chemistry, and life sciences,” Sesame says on its website.

It also aims to build “scientific and cultural bridges between diverse societies, and contribute to a culture of peace through international cooperation in science.”

At 130 meters in diameter, Sesame’s particle accelerator is smaller than the Large Hadron Collider, the structure in Switzerland that last year detected the “God particle” also known as the Higgs boson, an elementary particle that gives other fundamental particles their mass, the Guardian said.

Even so, the project is sophisticated enough to have many applications and offer research opportunities, the report said.

Sesame is a synchrotron — a large device that accelerates electrons around a circular tube, guided by magnets and other equipment, close to the speed of light. This creates radiation that is filtered and flows down long pipes in which instruments are placed, to gather the radiation and undertake experiments.                                (the Times of Israel)

PM Netanyahu: Education is key for a stronger Israel

“Our goal is to revolutionize the school system. This revolution will be based on two things: Excellence and Zionism,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, at the beginning of a cabinet meeting focusing on the new school year, set to begin Thursday.

“I know that there is a lot of excitement in homes all over Israel, especially from those who are going to school for the first time, and we join them in this excitement. Every one of us recalls themselves, as children or parent, enjoying this time. It’s a wonderful moment,” said Netanyahu.

“I mentioned Zionism, and what I mean by that is heritage. First of all, we must put in the effort to learn the Bible, as this is the basis for why we are here. We must also learn about the other aspects of our heritage, the history and legacy of the State of Israel, and the history of the nation of Israel. We must learn about Zionism the modern age to cleanse the lie about our right to be here; that our presence in just. These are all important things, but we must not forget to learn about another important legacy: The Israeli nations’ contributions to the world.”

Education, he continued, “is a critical word here — education. This is the foundation of the new world and the foundation of the future of the State of Israel as a strong nation among nations.”

Netanyahu and several ministers harshly criticized Education Minister Naftali Bennett over issues they felt the ministry had dealt with inadequately. Bennett retorted, saying he is one of those who “acts and not just talks.”

“Last summer we worked hard to be ready and able to begin the new school year, and we are well prepared. Last year we focused our attention on making the school system more personal with smaller classes, adding an extra caretaker in kindergartens, revolutionizing math in school, and forming a national program in English,” Bennett said. “This year we will shift gears. Over the 2016-2017 school year, Israeli children will learn in a more personal, more professional, and more principled school system.”

Science Minister Ofir Akunis talked about the changes in the science curriculum his ministry is introducing this school year, saying, “Its goal is strengthening math, physics, computer, robotics, chemistry, and medical studies in informal education. These are the subjects that fortify the country as a trailblazer and leader in innovation.” (Israel Hayom)

Egyptian Military Band Plays ‘Hatikvah’ as President Officially Welcomes New Israeli Ambassador

An Egyptian military band played the Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah” as the Jewish state’s new ambassador presented his credentials during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Cairo, the Hebrew news site Ynet reported.

According to the report, Ambassador David Govrin, whose appointment was approved in April, arrived in Egypt earlier this summer. But he was officially welcomed on Wednesday by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who also received the credentials of the new ambassadors to Egypt from Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Mexico, Myanmar, the United Arab Emirates and Somalia.

“I’m very proud to be appointed to this position in Egypt — the mother of the world, a land of ancient culture and history,” Govrin said, adding that a close Jerusalem-Cairo relationship was vital to achieving peace and stability in the region.

In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel, though the relationship was at times strained over the years. However, Israel-Egypt ties have improved since Sissi took power in 2013, after ousting his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

With shared regional interests — including the containment of Iran and combating ISIS in the Sinai and Hamas in Gaza — relations between Israel and Egypt have continued to blossom.

In July, Sameh Shoukry became the first Egyptian foreign minister to visit Israel since 2007. During his trip, Shoukry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where they reportedly watched a soccer game on television together.

However, as reported earlier this month, normalization of the relationship with Israel remains a sensitive topic for much of the Egyptian public. This was evident during the Summer Olympics in Rio, when Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby was pressured by fans not to “shame Islam” by competing against Israeli rival Ori Sasson. Then, after he lost the match, El Shehaby refused to shake Sasson’s hand.

Govrin replaced Haim Koren, who served as Israel’s envoy in Cairo for two years.

As reported an Egyptian Parliament member came under fire earlier this year from fellow lawmakers after he hosted Koren at his house for dinner.

Watch Govrin introducing himself to the Egyptian people last month below:                                            (the Algemeiner)

Gruesome discovery in Germany raises questions about Holocaust-era experiments

Amid recent construction efforts at a branch of a German research institute in Munich, dozens of anatomical parts were uncovered dating back to the WWII era, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

According to the report, the mostly brain and brain parts found in the building were remains from those murdered in Nazi human experiments, which were inhumanely conducted on prisoners including children, the mentally ill and people with disabilities during the Holocaust.

The remains were found at a branch of Munich’s Max Planck Institute, which was originally founded as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute that was strongly associated with Nazi theories of racial eugenics. The institute regularly received human body parts from Nazi members such as the infamous Auschwitz physician Josef Mengele.

According to the radio report, the Yad Vashem World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration had not been previously aware of the remains stored at the institute.

An investigative committee established to review the recent findings have been trying to identify the victims. The task of sorting and identifying the remains before burring them in a mass grave – as has been done with similar samples found in previous years – could take months, if not years, according to Army Radio.

At Germany’s Max Planck Institute, where the brain remnants were found, it was reportedly believed that all samples taken from victims of the Nazi regime had been located and buried in the 1990s.

However, the discovery some seven decades after the horrors of the Holocaust appears to disprove this belief.

According to the German institute, the anatomical samples were likely linked to Nazi physician and neuroscientist Julius Hallervorden.

Hallervorden became the head of the Neuropathology Department of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research in 1938.

Army Radio cited a German statement published on the Max Planck Institute’s website that read: “We are ashamed of these findings, and shocked by the findings in the archive.”

“We will update the public of any additional information to maximize transparency” on the matter, the announcement added.     (Jerusalem Post)

Using young cells to fight age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness in people over age 60. About 90 percent of those with AMD have the “dry” form for which there is no approved therapy.

And so the race is on to find a cure. The potential is huge, as products for treating the much smaller population of those with wet AMD ring up about $5 billion in annual sales.

The Israeli company Cell Cure Neurosciences in Jerusalem has thrown its hat in the ring with a treatment of injectable human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells — the essential “helpers” for the eye’s photoreceptor cells — produced from pluripotent stem cells using a propriety technology.

CEO Charles Irving explains that with age, RPEs get run down and fail to provide the photoreceptors with the nutrients and pigments they need to function.

“The photoreceptor cells can only make it a little longer on their own before dying, and that’s irreversible,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “Our goal is to enable, for the first time, transplantation with new RPE cells so we can save the photoreceptors that haven’t already died and stop the progression of the disease.”

He likens AMD to a forest fire burning through the retina. The damage can be tolerated until it reaches the “houses in the village,” in this case the macula’s pinhead-sized fovea.

“If disease reaches the fovea, you have essentially lost central and color vision. We want to stop the ‘fire’ before it reaches the fovea. We do that by putting in young cells not susceptible to the aging process,” Irving says.

Clinical trials

Cell Cure Neurosciences’ OpRegen is being clinically tested for safety on advanced AMD patients at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem. The company won fast-track approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for further trials in the United States.

The study is in four cohorts encompassing 15 patients: the first three patients received a low dose of OpRegen, the next three will receive a medium dose, and the following three will get the high dose intended for treatment. In the fourth cohort, also to be recruited in the United States early next year, six patients with less severe dry AMD will receive the high dose to test OpRegen’s efficacy at an earlier stage.

“These first studies are to show there is no harm in putting the new cells into the retina and that they will engraft properly and organize themselves to support the photoreceptor cells,” Irving says. “The next studies will look at whether they do their job to stop the progression of the disease.”

The ability of the cells to organize themselves – proven in the company’s animal studies — is critical to understanding the uniqueness of Cell Cure’s approach to regenerative medicine.

The more prevalent experimental approach is to organize the replacement RPE cells on a patch for implantation in a surgical procedure requiring special training. In contrast, OpRegen is injected as a suspension in a short, one-time procedure using the existing skill set of retinal surgeons.

Cell therapy has wider potential than do biologic treatments now being explored, says Irving. Pharmaceuticals such as monoclonal antibodies can only try to prolong the life of aging RPEs rather than replace them.

Still, Irving says, “We’re at the beginning of the race and there doesn’t have to be only one winner. There is no approved therapy right now so there is place for a few players.”(Israel 21C)

Israelis, Palestinians ‘battle’ in tabletop game

The Israelis and Palestinians were facing off in Jerusalem again — but this time they actually seemed to be enjoying each other’s company.

Dozens of Israelis and Palestinians, some with yarmulkes on their head and some with headscarves, gathered at a historic former train station in the divided city on Wednesday night for a backgammon tournament.

They smoked hookah water pipes, munched on ruby-red watermelon slices and listened to a band play Arab music as they matched wits in the board game popular throughout the Middle East.

For a few hours, concerns about violence and territory could be put aside for at least the illusion that the two peoples could live together.

“I remember the time when I spent nights here, in Tel Aviv or in Haifa,” said Abud, a Palestinian Christian in his 50s from Bethlehem who declined to give his last name.

“I had Israeli friends who came to see me in Bethlehem, to eat hummus or falafel.”

In front of him on the other side of the game board, Baruch Mehri, a retired Jewish man in his 70s originally from Iraq, took the opportunity to dust off his Arabic.

He and Abud traded insults while doubling over with laughter.

“As someone from Iraq, this atmosphere, the music, the language, the game, it’s what I dream of for this country,” Mehri said.

Brief co-existence

The tournament was organized over four nights in both the Palestinian and Jewish sections of Jerusalem. They required no special security.

Wednesday’s games were held in an area along the line between mainly Palestinian east and mostly Jewish west Jerusalem, at an Ottoman-era train station now home to bars and restaurants.

While Israelis and Palestinians live side-by-side in Jerusalem, there is very little mixing and constant tension. True coexistence remains a far-off dream.

But events like Wednesday’s backgammon tournament can provide a break from ever-present passions in a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

It was a group of young Palestinian and Israeli activists that decided to make a play at temporary peace with one of the world’s oldest board games.

They called it “Jerusalem Double” — a reference to when a player ups the ante of points and forces his opponent to match or concede.

Veiled Palestinian women, ultra-orthodox Jews wearing black yarmulkes, families pushing strollers and excited children gathered to watch at the train station.

“You know, for many people, this is the most interaction that they will have with an Arab or a Jew,” said Zaki Jamal, a Jewish man and one of the organizers.

Play fights

Mahmud al-Rifai, a Palestinian organizer, said that 150 people attended on the first night, while even more were at the second.

He said it included those who spoke of what they described as the good old days — perhaps with the help of an overly generous memory — when Jews, Muslims and Christians mingled more easily.

“The situation is not what the politicians try to sell to us,” he said. “Look at how much Jerusalem residents want something like this.”

In Arabic and in Hebrew, the game is called “shesh besh,” mixing Turkish and Persian to say “6” and “5”, as well as “tawle” for the Palestinians.

Palestinian men perform a traditional dance during a backgammon tournament between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem on August 31, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN).

Palestinian men perform a traditional dance during a backgammon tournament between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem on August 31, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN).

It’s a popular game among men who gather at cafes from the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian political capital, to Tel Aviv, Israel’s seaside commercial center.

Tournament organizers realized that the Palestinians played a variation called “mahbussa,” unknown to Jewish players.

The Israelis clear the checkers when they reach the edge of the board, while Palestinians stack them.

The difference — perhaps symbolically — caused endless lighthearted disputes between Abud and Mehri.

One volunteer proposed to mediate, leading the two men to break out in laughter.

For organizer Jamal, “there is something with backgammon that brings different people here — not only the usual peace activists, but also people who have no desire to talk about politics.”

“I think that we have put our finger on something,” he said.                      (the Times of Israel)

The “Other” Palestinians

by Khaled Abu Toameh                  The Gatestone Institut


  • Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since 2011. But because these Palestinians were killed by Arabs, and not Israelis, this fact is not news in the mainstream media or of interest to “human rights” forums.
  • How many Western journalists have cared to inquire about the thirsty Palestinians of Yarmouk refugee camp, in Syria? Does anyone know that this camp has been without water supply for more than 720 days, and without electricity for the past three years? In June 2002, 112,000 Palestinians lived in Yarmouk. By the end of 2014, the population was down to less than 20,000.
  • Nor is the alarm bell struck concerning the more than 12,000 Palestinians languishing in Syrian prisons, including 765 children and 543 women. According to Palestinian sources, some 503 Palestinian prisoners have died under torture in recent years, and some female prisoners have been raped by interrogators and guards.
  • When Western journalists lavish time on Palestinians delayed at Israeli checkpoints, and ignore bombs dropped by the Syrian military on residential areas, one might start to wonder they are really about.

It seems as though the international community has forgotten that Palestinians can be found far beyond the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These “other” Palestinians live in Arab countries such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, and their many serious grievances are evidently of no interest to the international community. It is only Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that garner international attention. Why? Because it is precisely these individuals that the international community wield as a weapon against Israel.

Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the civil war in 2011. But because these Palestinians were killed by Arabs, and not Israelis, this fact is not news in the mainstream media. This figure was revealed last week by the London-based Action Group For Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), founded in 2012 with the goal of documenting the suffering of the Palestinians in that country and preparing lists of victims, prisoners and missing people in order to submit them to the databases of human rights forums.

Yet the “human rights” forums pay scant attention to such findings. They are indeed too busy to take much notice, wholly preoccupied as they are with Israel.

By focusing their attention only on the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, these “human rights” forums continuously seek to find ways to hold Israel responsible for wrongdoing, while ignoring the crimes perpetrated by Arabs against their Palestinian brothers. This obsession with Israel, which sometimes reaches ridiculous heights, does a great disservice to the Palestinian victims of Arab crimes.

If you take some numbers, according to AGPS, 85 Palestinians were killed in Syria in the first year of the civil war in 2011. The following year, the number rose to 776. The year 2013 saw the highest number of Palestinian victims: 1,015. In 2014, the number of Palestinians who were killed in Syria was 724. The following year, 502 Palestinians were killed. And since the beginning of this year (until July), some 200 Palestinians were killed in Syria.

How were these Palestinians killed? The group says that they were killed as a result of direct shelling, armed clashes, torture in prison, bombings, and as a result of the besieging of their refugee camps in Syria.

Yet the plight of its people in Syria does not seem to top the list for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah. Pride of place on that list goes to assigning blame to Israel for everything the PA itself has caused. For PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior officials in the West Bank, the Palestinians in Syria simply do not rate. In fact, in a step that boggles the mind, the PA leadership is currently seeking to improve its relations with the Assad regime in Syria — the very regime that is killing, imprisoning and torturing scores of Palestinians on a daily basis.

In a move that has enraged many Palestinians in Syria, the Palestinian Authority recently celebrated the inauguration of a new Palestinian embassy in Damascus. “They [the PA leadership] have sold the Palestinians in Syria and reconciled with the Syrian regime,” remarked a Palestinian from Syria.

Another Palestinian commented: “Now we know why several PLO delegations have been visiting Syria recently; they sought to renew their ties with the regime and not ensure the safety of our refugee camps or seek the release of Palestinians held in [Syrian] prisons.”

Others accused the Palestinian Authority leadership of “sacrificing the blood of Palestinians.” They pointed out that the Syrian regime, by permitting the opening of the new embassy, was rewarding the PA for turning its back on the plight of the Palestinians of Syria. The Palestinians complained that PA diplomats and representatives in Damascus, to whom they appealed in the past for help, have ignored their calls.

International media outlets regularly report on the “water crisis” in Palestinian towns and villages, especially in the West Bank. This is a story that repeats itself almost every summer, when some foreign journalists set out to search for any story that reflects negatively on Israel. And there is nothing more comfortable than holding Israel responsible for the “water crisis” in the West Bank.

But how many Western journalists have cared to inquire about the thirsty Palestinians of Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria? Does anyone in the international community know that this camp has been without water supply for more than 720 days? Or that the camp has been without electricity for the past three years?

Yarmouk, which is located only eight kilometers from the center of Damascus, is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. That is, it was the largest camp. In June 2002, 112,000 Palestinians lived in Yarmouk. By the end of 2014, the camp population had been decimated to less than 20,000. Medical sources say many of the residents of the camp are suffering from a host of diseases.

These figures are alarming, but not to the Palestinian Authority leadership or mainstream media and “human rights” organizations in the West. Nor is the alarm bell struck concerning the more than 12,000 Palestinians languishing in Syrian prisons, without the right to see a lawyer or family members. These include 765 children and 543 women. According to Palestinian sources, some 503 Palestinian prisoners have died under torture in recent years.

Sources say that some of the Palestinian female prisoners have been raped by their interrogators and guards. Huda, a 19-year-old girl from Yarmouk, said she became pregnant after being repeatedly gang-raped while she was held in Syrian prison for 15 days. “Sometimes, they used to rape me more than 10 times a day,” Huda recounted, adding that as a result she suffered severe bleeding and lost consciousness. She also told an hour-long story of how she was held in a cell for three weeks with the bodies of other prisoners who had been tortured to death.

Such stories rarely make it to the pages of major newspapers in the West. Nor are these stories discussed at conferences held by various international human rights organizations, or even the United Nations. The only Palestinian prisoners the world talks about are those incarcerated by Israel. The Palestinian Authority leadership never misses an opportunity to call for the release of Palestinians held by Israel, most of whom are suspected of or have been found guilty of terrorism. But when it comes to the thousands who are being tortured in Syria, the PA leaders in Ramallah are deadly silent. For the sake of accuracy, it is worth mentioning that the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have sometimes contacted the Syrian authorities regarding prisoners — but it turns out that the two groups were just seeking the release of some of their members.

Reports from Syria say that three Palestinian refugee camps remain under strict siege by the Syrian army and its puppet Palestinian groups. Yarmouk, for instance, has been under siege for more than 970 days, while the Al-Sabinah refugee camp has been under siege for more than 820 days. The Handarat camp has been facing the same fate for over 1000 days. Most of the residents of these camps have been forced to flee their homes. In Yarmouk, 186 Palestinians have died of starvation or lack of medical attention. More than 70% of the Daraa camp has been completely destroyed due to recurring shelling by the Syrian army and other militias.

The Palestinians of Syria would have been more fortunate had they been living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Then the international community and media would certainly have noticed them. Yet when Western journalists lavish time on Palestinians delayed at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, and ignore barrels of explosives dropped by the Syrian military on residential areas in refugee camps in Syria, one might start to wonder what they are really about.

The accelerating erosion of the post-Zionist Hebrew media

by Isi Leibler                    The Jerusalem Post


Haaretz, Israel’s oldest Hebrew daily newspaper, was established in 1918 by a group of left-leaning businessmen. In 1937, Salman Schocken bought the newspaper and it was edited by his son Gershom until his death in 1990.

Although its circulation was never high when compared to the tabloids Ma’ariv and Yediot Aharonot, it has for many years been regarded as the most influential intellectual newspaper in Israel, with its readership including leading political and economic elites. It was considered a liberal newspaper although its economic section was conservative, and it published many outstanding feature articles.

After Gershom died, his son Amos assumed the role of chairman, CEO and publisher. In August 2006, 25 percent of the shares of Haaretz were sold to the German publisher M. DuMont Schauberg, whose father was a Nazi Party member and whose publishing enterprises promoted Nazi ideology.

Although he passionately denies being post-Zionist, Amos imposed his radical left-wing ideology on the newspaper, which has now been transformed into a vehicle that provides much of the anti-Israeli sentiment and even anti-Semitic lies and distortions that are a boon to our adversaries.

It is difficult to comprehend the depths to which this once highly regarded newspaper has descended.

There are still a number of level-headed commentators, such as Ari Shavit and Shlomo Avineri, and occasional “fig leaf” conservative columns contributed by Moshe Arens and Israel Harel. But the opinion section is overwhelmingly dominated by delusional anti-Zionists such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, who promote the idea that Israel was born in sin. Levy repeatedly reiterates that Israel is one of the most brutal and tyrannical regimes in existence today and treats Palestinians the same way the Nazis treated Jews, and repeatedly accuses the Jewish state of apartheid. Even publisher Schocken wrote a column titled “Only international pressure will end Israel apartheid.”

Such views would be more appropriate for publication in the Palestinian media than in an Israeli newspaper.

Furthermore, even the reporting became as opinionated as the op-eds, frequently totally distorting news events and placing Israel in the worst possible light.

The reporting has also become selective, a prime example being the suppressed coverage of prime minister Ariel Sharon’s alleged corruption so as not to create problems for the Gaza disengagement.

If Haaretz was restricted to an Israeli audience its impact would be minimal as it has a low circulation and few Israelis are influenced by it. The real problem is the English-language edition and its Internet site, which is monitored by diplomats and quoted by the global media. It serves to demonize and delegitimize Israel to countless readers throughout the world, who are under the illusion that they are reading a reputable liberal Israeli newspaper. Pro-Israel Diaspora activists who would normally have protested the bias and even the anti-Semitic slant of anti-Israeli media outlets have been confronted by editors who defended their approach on the grounds that it reflects the editorial policies of a respected Israeli daily.

The damage is incalculable. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that in recent years, the newspaper has caused more harm to the image of Israel than the combined efforts of our adversaries. Nothing demonstrates this more than the front-page headlines in 2009 based upon unsubstantiated evidence from the discredited Breaking the Silence group which first promoted the lie that Israeli soldiers were committing war crimes.

After successive days in which Haaretz highlighted this blood libel, the IDF chief military advocate general released a report describing the accusations as “categorically false.” Instead of apologizing and expressing remorse, Haaretz responded sarcastically, suggesting that while the report showed the IDF to be “pure as snow,” implying that the accusers —fighters and commanders from some of its best combat units — were a bunch of liars and exaggerators.

Despite the unequivocal repudiation of these false allegations, the damage was done. The global media enthusiastically highlighted the news from the “influential” Israeli newspaper. This paved the way for subsequent allegations of Israeli war crimes, culminating in the now discredited Goldstone Report, which remains a central feature of the defamation leveled against us by our adversaries.

In this context, it should be mentioned that the recently appointed editor of the English edition, Noa Landau, is the life partner of Avner Gvaryahu, one of the most vocal and vicious activist leaders of Breaking the Silence.

Another notable example was the 2014 Haaretz Conference held in New York, where in deference to Palestinian Authority spokesman Saeb Erekat, who addressed the conference, the Israeli flag was removed from the podium.

The situation has continued to deteriorate, with more readers canceling subscriptions, even including many prominent left-wing supporters who can no longer tolerate the ever increasing anti-Israel hysteria that fills the pages of the paper.

Irit Linur, a liberal columnist for the weekend edition, wrote to Schocken: “I feel that the State of Israel fundamentally revolts you. …I don’t want to subscribe to a newspaper that tries in every way to make me ashamed of my Zionism, my patriotism and my intelligence – three qualities that are most precious to me.”

Uzi Baram, also a respected leftist, wrote a column stating that even left-wing readers don’t want to read a newspaper “that is ashamed of its Zionism and which believes that without boycott from abroad, Israel has no chance of changing its position.”

The harshest blow came from liberal American journalist icon Jeffrey Goldberg, who is regarded as the principal media source used by US President Barack Obama in relation to Israel and Jewish affairs. Goldberg erupted after two American Jewish historians published an article in Haaretz accusing the UN of establishing a Jewish racist state that is today an extension of Western colonialism. They proudly announced that they would never set foot in any synagogue that supported Israel.

Goldberg also responded to a recent Levy op-ed titled “Yes, Israel is an evil state” – which described Israel as an entity based on “pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake.” He announced that he was canceling his subscription, tweeting that “when neo-Nazis are emailing me links to Haaretz op-eds declaring Israel to be evil, I’m going to take a break.” He also noted that “I can read anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli things like this on other websites. There really no need for an Israeli website like this.”

Sadly, Schocken’s delusional response was predictable.

He expressed regret that the critics failed to recognize that, far from being a post-Zionist, he would not be deterred from ensuring that Haaretz maintained a Zionist program. Having had a lengthy personal discussion with Schocken on this theme, I can state with confidence that he is genuinely convinced that he is on the side of the angels and does not appreciate the immense harm that Haaretz’s anti-Israel demonization, delegitimization and political agenda have inflicted upon us abroad. Nor does he recognize the extent to which Haaretz has divorced itself from any semblance of political reality in terms of the nation.

Like peas in a pod: ISIS and Palestinians: Both groups indoctrinate children to kill Israelis

By Ziva Dahl                              The Washington Times


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s assertion that a 14-year-old Islamic State suicide bomber detonated explosives at a wedding in southern Turkey, killing 54 people including 31 children, is currently in question. What is not in question is that ISIS’ use of children as suicide bombers is surging. The day following the wedding bombing, a 13-year-old ISIS suicide bomber was captured in Kirkuk before he could kill.

As appalling as this reality is, we shouldn’t be surprised by this horrific abuse of children. In its second intifada, Palestinians used child suicide bombers to murder Israeli civilians. During 2000-03, 29 suicide bombings were carried out by Palestinian children under the age of 18, and more than 40 other children were involved in thwarted attacks.

Just like the Palestinians, ISIS uses children as tools of jihad. It maintains an army of child soldiers, called “cubs of the caliphate,” indoctrinating them with the group’s version of Islam and forcing them to participate in beheadings, crucifixions and other vile acts. ISIS has released footage showing youngsters practicing decapitation on teddy bears. These mock execution games prepare them to star in videos where children behead prisoners. ISIS is sending more children into battle as suicide bombers than ever before.

Although the Palestinians are not currently using the tactic of child suicide bombings, they vigorously pursue a campaign to capture the hearts and minds of Palestinian children. Poisonous incitement to hate and kill Jews and achieve “martyrdom” comes from all directions — Palestinian state-run television, radio and print media, summer camps, school textbooks and religious pronouncements. Music videos extol the virtues of killing Israelis. Preschoolers are brainwashed by cartoons, puppet shows and Mickey Mouse-like characters, indoctrinating them to see Jews as evil-incarnate “infidels.” Palestinian and United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools display posters of martyrs on their walls, use textbooks that deny Israel’s right to exist, and objectify Jews and Christians as subhuman creatures — a message that’s reinforced by imams’ vituperative sermons in Palestinian mosques.

Every attempt is made to indoctrinate youngsters into the Palestinian “cult of martyrdom” (Shahada), which mandates that all Muslims, as a religious duty, aspire to die for Islam in combat against “infidels.” “Martyrs” become role models. Schools, summer camps and soccer teams are named after these terror “heroes.” Hamas’ Facebook page captured the message: “We bring [our children] up on love of Jihad and Martyrdom-death.” Women are taught, “Every mother should sacrifice her child for Palestine.” Martyrdom is the ultimate virtue — Jews are the ultimate evil. For children indoctrinated into this barbaric culture of hatred and death, killing Jews for Islam is like eating ice cream.

In the recent wave of Palestinian terrorism, dubbed the “stabbing intifada,” at least 36 violent attacks against Israelis have been carried out by Palestinian children, ages 11 to 17, usually using knives. Five Israeli civilians have been killed and many other victims wounded. Palestinian knife-wielding kids who die during their attacks are hailed as heroes, with the Palestinian Authority paying their parents for the sacrifice. Given that Palestinian social media offers instruction on “How to stab a Jew,” it’s not surprising that a majority of their children believe that this current terror wave “serves the Palestinian cause.”

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