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Latest News in Israel – 31st August

Lieberman Slams Israeli Media: A Soldier Can’t Fulfill His Misson With a Lawyer Beside Him

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized media coverage of the Elor Azaria trial on Monday, saying that “a person who fights daily and for many months against terror and terrorists can’t go on a mission with a lawyer beside him.”

Azaria, 19, is currently on trial for manslaughter after shooting and killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a wounded, and incapacitated Palestinian terrorist, in the Tel Rumeida settlement of Hebron last March.

“Sometimes, a person’s judgement is right and at other times not,” Lieberman said, “but a situation in which every soldier needs a lawyer before going on a mission is unsustainable.”

The defense minister, who was talking during a tour of Bedouin villages in the Negev, added that the Israeli media “needs to remember that in the State of Israel, as in all democratic countries, convictions are made by a court of law and not by the media.”

“So long as a person has not been convicted, he’s innocent,” Lieberman continued. “That applies to Elor [Azaria] as well as to the soldier from the Nezach Yehuda battalion.” The latter was a reference to a soldier who is currently under investigation for killing a Palestinian last week.”

He added that he expected the media to “make an effort to strengthen Israel’s deterrence against its enemies, rather than deterring Israeli soldiers in the struggle against terrorists.

Asked whether he would prefer a supportive media, Lieberman replied that he wants “a free media, not a media that deters IDF soldiers.”

Regarding his tour of Bedouin settlements, in which he was joined by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, Lieberman said that the purpose was to “act to normalize Bedouin settlement and incorporate them into Israeli society.”

The situation requires all government agencies to “cooperate and adopt a uniform platform,” he said. “The Authority for the Development of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev is doing excellent work, for which we have waited many years, and not there is finally work and a plan that we will support with all our might.”                          (Haáretz)

Danon: Middle East envoy’s remarks ‘disconnected from reality’

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon on Monday night sharply criticized the remarks by the UN’s Middle East Envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who earlier blasted “Israeli settlement expansion” while speaking before the UN Security Council.

“Complete disconnection from the facts on the ground,” Danon said, adding, “Israel will continue to build in its eternal capital of Jerusalem, just as the nations of the world will continue to build in their capitals without asking the permission of the United Nations.”

“The UN should concentrate on the main obstacle to a solution in the region, which is the Palestinian refusal to condemn terrorism and return to the negotiating table,” the Ambassador continued.

Danon added that Mladenov’s statements are a “prize to the Palestinians,” in fact distance the chances of reaching a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs and illustrate the hypocrisy of the UN regarding Israel.

Mladenov had said in his remarks that “Israeli settlement expansion” has surged in the two months since the diplomatic Quartet called to end it.

The Quartet report, released in July, called on Israel to stop its construction in Judea and Samaria, but also criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its incitement to terrorism against Israelis.

“Its recommendations continue to be ignored, including by a surge in Israeli settlement-related announcements and continuing demolitions,” Mladenov charged.

The Prime Minister’s Office rejected Mladenov’s assertions in a statement released Monday evening.

“The remarks of the UN envoy to the Security Council today distort history and international law and only distance peace,” it said.

“Jews have lived in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the attempt to incessantly deny the relationship of Jews to their historical land and the stubborn refusal to acknowledge that they are not foreigners there,” continued the statement.

“The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris are illegal. The Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing of Jews in its future state is horrifying, and the UN should be condemning it instead of adopting it.”                      (Arutz Sheva)

In Saudi Arabia, signs of an effort to break the Israel taboo

Saudi state-run media appears to be softening its reporting on Israel, running unprecedented columns floating the prospect of direct relations, quoting Israeli officials, and filling its newsholes with fewer negative stories on Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians.

The public shift – from outlets such as al-Arabiya and Riyadh newspaper, among other local or state-owned outlets – reflects secret, under-the-table contact between the Arab kingdom and the Jewish state that has been a work in progress for years.

But media movement marks a new phase in that diplomatic process, according to some experts on the kingdom, who see signs of a monarchy effort to prepare Saudi society for debate that had previously been off limits.

“The key here is that everybody understands this is not going to turn around overnight, and its probably not going to convince a lot of people. But that’s not really the point,” said David Pollock, an expert on the region at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The point is to establish this as a debatable proposition, and to break the taboo of even debating about it – about the prospect of normalizing relations.”

“Once you’ve done that, you’ve made it legitimate,” Pollock added. “There are suddenly two sides.”

One column called for Saudis to “leave behind” their “hatred of Jews,” and another said that talks between the two nations should be direct, without intermediaries, based on Saudi national interests.

Those national interests appear to align with Israel primarily on the issue of Iran, which has dominated the Saudi news cycle in recent months– from Islamic Republic activities in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Saudi conservative Islamists view Iran, the Shi’ite and Hezbollah as “much worse than the Jews,” Pollock commented. “So that kind of takes the edge off – and actually pushes them in the same direction.”

An official in the Foreign Ministry said there have been some positive signals from Riyadh – such as an interview that ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer gave recently to the Saudi media, and one that Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold had last year with a Saudi website – but that there is no sense this is part of an organized campaign to prepare the ground for better ties.

“These are positive signs, but I would not say they are game changers,” the official said. “Good things are happening. But rather than seeing this as trying to prepare the ground for something, I’d say it is a sign that there is less enmity.”

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office concurred. He acknowledged a few articles of late from “some pretty big journalists” against hating Jews, but said that he knows nothing about it coming from the top as part of an organized campaign.

Quiet talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia began leaking into public view in June, when a handshake between Gold and former Saudi government adviser Anwar Eshki raised eyebrows. Putting to rest any doubt that the handshake was an isolated affair, Eshki led a Saudi delegation to Jerusalem the following month that was publicly acknowledged.

Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud also shared a stage with Israel’s former military intelligence chief, Amos Yadlin, in 2014.

A similar effort is under way in Egypt, Pollock said.

“I gather from talking to some of the people who are directly involved with it that there are different camps – different schools of thought in these countries,” said Pollock. “There is definitely internal opposition, and it’s very delicate, and fragile. But in both countries, the government and the establishment media – and their spin-offs and allies – are pursuing a deliberate strategy to do this.”               (Jerusalem Post)

Haifa team produces Intel’s ‘fastest-ever’ processor

Intel Corp. announced Tuesday its most advanced, next-level processor, whose development was led by its facility in Haifa, Israel, with the promise of a double-digit rise in computer performance, longer battery life and better security.

The seventh-generation new Intel Core enhanced 14-nanometer-plus processor, called Kaby Lake, is its “strongest and fastest ever,” Intel said in a statement, and aims to meet the demands of increased connectedness and internet use, and growing consumption of high-quality video, ultra-high-definition (UHD) premium and user-generated content, 360-degree video formats, Virtual Reality and digital sports content. It will power ultra-thin notebooks and two-in-one laptop-tablet hybrids.

Built on the foundation of the Skylake processors, which Intel launched last year and were also led from Israel, the Kaby Lake processors are more than 70 percent faster than a 5-year-old PC and 3.5 times better in 3D graphics performance, the company said in a statement.

The new processors will have a longer-lasting battery — 9.5 hours of 4K video playback — and better security, and will enable more natural and intuitive interactions of users with their PCs, Intel said.

“The seventh-generation processors push our performance forward,” Ran Senderovitz, general manager at Intel Israel Development Centers, said in a phone briefing with reporters.

The Israeli team, with its colleagues worldwide, has pushed the boundaries of “global technology to new places,” he said. “We are talking about amazing technologies, technologies of 14nm. So it is like taking a hair and dividing it by 8,000.”

The new processors increase productivity with an up to 12 percent faster speed for application processes compared to the previous, sixth-generation, Intel processors, and an up to 19% faster speed for internet use, Senderovitz said. “To present year after year a double-digit performance improvement requires a lot of innovation and determination,” he said.

The challenge of the Israeli team, which led the efforts and worked in collaboration with Intel’s other global developers, was to make these processors faster and more energy-efficient and also support high-quality video and virtual reality, as required by users today.

“Today computers are at the center of our creativeness,” Senderovitz said, used for everything from editing music to viewing and creating UHD video content and gaming.

Israel has traditionally been an important development center for Intel, with local teams coming up with some of the company’s most important products – among them the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and last year’s Skylake, which are in many of the computers currently in use.

Kaby Lake will allow computers to dispense with a fan and have a small battery, making them light and thin, some of them just 7 millimeters thick and weighing 1.3 kilograms.

“We are getting closer to a level in which computers are becoming as thin as smartphones,” Senderovitz said.

The first computers with the new processors are expected to hit the market in September and will be aimed initially at private customers and small and medium businesses.

Intel expects to see over 100 computer designs using the Kaby Lake in the fourth quarter of the year. Additional products, targeted at enterprises, workstations and enthusiasts’ notebooks and desktops, are expected in January, Intel said.

The processors will be included in a variety of designs and price ranges, which may also include features like hassle-free facial recognition and Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 technology, a single-wire USB Type C connection that supports up to 40 Gpbs transfer speeds. The processors will also allow some PCs to offer users touch, voice and stylus interaction, Intel said.

Intel has been operating in Israel since 1974 and directly employs around 10,000 workers in its Kiryat Gat production center and in four development centers, in Haifa, Yakum, Jerusalem and Petah Tikva. The Haifa center is Intel’s largest outside the US.                   (the Times of Israel)

3,000 year old treasures dated to the time of King David unveiled

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem offered a unique preview on Monday of an exhibition showcasing 3,000 year-old artifacts recovered from Khirbet Qeiyafa which archaeologists believe could be the biblical city of Sha’arayim, meaning ‘Two Gates’, that is mentioned in the story of the battle of David and the Philistine giant, Goliath.

Khirbet Qeiyafa, overlooking the Elah Valley southwest of Jerusalem, is an ancient fortified city that was discovered around a decade ago. But it was not until the second year of excavations in 2008 that archaeologists realized they had stumbled upon what was possibly the earliest physical evidence of a Davidic city dating back to the 11th Century BCE.

Over the course of seven years, excavations revealed a walled city with two equally large and dominant gates – a highly unusual feature for a relatively small city. The Elah Valley divided the lands of the Israelites and the Philistines, whose champion warrior was felled by the young shepherd boy David’s slingshot. When archaeologists excavated the gates they were reminded of the ancient city of Sha’arayim that featured in the famous story.

Other significant clues that pointed to the presence of a Judean stronghold are the absence of pig bones among the scores of animal remains, and most significantly, two inscriptions written in the Canaanite script that were found on a jar and a pottery fragment which are believed to be the earliest known example of Hebrew writing.

The excavations were supervised by Professor Yosef Garfinkel, Yigal Yardin Chair of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who described the find as a ‘Biblical Pompeii’.

Garfinkel told Reuters Television that archaeologists were stunned to discover the ancient ruins lay barely 20 centimeters below the surface. Built on hard stone, carbon-dating of charred olive pits excavated from the foundation layers of the site determined that the city existed between the late 11th Century BCE and early 10th Century BCE, the beginning of the Kingdom of Israel.

Despite strong evidence that suggests Khirbet Qeiyafa could be the lost city of Sha’arayim, Gurfinkel said that archaeology could neither prove nor disprove the Bible, but that it could establish that “what is written in the Bible fit(s) the geographical situation and the anthropology of the period. The story of David and Goliath and the city are located in exactly the same location; they’re from the same period, so it cannot be a coincidence,” he said.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem director, Amanda Weiss agrees that the evidence, when considered in its entirety, points strongly to a Davidic period site.

“..if you look at the whole site and its history, you see a Judean stronghold on the border of the Philistine, between the Philistines and the Judeans in the Elah Valley from the time period of David. It’s incredible historical evidence all coming together at the same time,” Weiss told Reuters.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem will open the new exhibition on September 5, entitled “In the valley of David and Goliath,” which will provide an opportunity for visitors to go back in history to the time of Israel’s greatest King David.                                              (Jerusalem Post)

French doctor, 33, realizes his dream of IDF service

A 33-year-old French doctor broke the mold when he enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces four months ago. Fifteen years older than the recruits who were beginning their mandatory service with him, Dr. David Smadja was the oldest lone soldier in IDF history.

Smadja, the son of doctors living in Paris, completed his medical studies in France and made aliyah less than two years ago, aged 31. He studied Hebrew in an ulpan, an intensive Hebrew language program, before joining the IDF.

After completing basic training, he continued on to a course in military emergency medicine, and began working as a doctor in the Givati Brigade’s Shaked Battalion on Sunday.

“I studied medicine for 11 years in France, including completing a residency as an eye doctor in the U.S. and Paris,” said Smadja, who has two brothers, one also a doctor and the other a tour guide in Israel.

“The decision to make aliyah and serve in the army came to me over 10 years ago, when my brother, who is two years older than me, came to Israel and served as a lone soldier in the Paratroopers’ Special Forces. My parents and I visited my brother in Israel many times. I was impressed with the country and the army, and I decided that I also wanted to go for it,” he said.

Dr. David Smadja IDF Oldest man to serve doctor

Dr. David Smadja

“I knew that I had to first finish school and my residency, and only then would I realize my dream [of making aliyah]. I didn’t for a moment abandon my dreams of making aliyah, coming to Israel, and serving in the IDF. A year and a half ago, I made aliyah, and after completing ulpan, I signed up to serve in the army as a lone soldier for a year and a half.”

Smadja continued, “After the course that I have just finished, I will serve as a doctor in the Shaked Battalion. It’s important to serve in the IDF and to contribute to the security of the country, as a doctor, as a fighter, as a soldier. It doesn’t matter how. Everyone in his own field.”                              (Israel Hayom)

Kibbutz Dance Company comes to Australia

The Kibbutz Dance Company has returned to Australia after 23 years to perform its latest work, Horses in the Sky, until September 3 at the Sydney Opera House.

Veteran KDC artistic director and choreographer Rami Be’er describes the piece as “bringing together dreams and a sense of impending apocalypse.” It is set to a soundtrack including Björk and Elvis Presley.

Kibbutz Dancers Sydney Opera House

Kibbutz Dancers

During their stay, the KDC will also be holding master classes for local dancers as well as a special workshop entitled “Dancing for Parkinson’s.”

This internationally acclaimed dance class invites participants to attend a class and work on their coordination, balance and stamina – physical abilities often affected by the disease.              (Jerusalem Post)

A baller against all odds

Itay Erenlib lost both of his legs and was seriously injured in his arm in an IED explosion in Nablus during his IDF service. After a miraculous recovery that amazed all of his doctors, Erenlib returned to the army to finish his service, got a degree in life sciences and is now training to play wheelchair tennis at the Rio Paralympic Games next month.

by Yehuda Shohat                                Ynet News


Few are the two-legged people who live their lives like Itay Erenlib does. Fewer are those who only have one leg, and can do what he does. Except that he is living, perhaps more so than anyone else, with two prosthetic legs: One over the knee, the other in the ankle-area.

“I have a room full of legs: For climbing, running, swimming…” Erenlib jokes, as he removes his prosthetics to sit comfortably in the wheelchair with which he plays tennis.

Ever since he nearly lost his life in an IED explosion in Nablus, leaving part of his body there, he has mananged to repeatedly amaze his doctors.

“I guess the doctors, occupational therapists and physiotherapists in this field are the most pessimistic people in the world,” he says, amused.

“He has a three-to-five percent chance of living,” the pessimist physicians told Erenlib’s parents. “He wouldn’t make it out of the ICU,” they informed. “You won’t be able to walk, and certainly not without crutches,” the doctors went on to assess.

Despite this, Erenlib is very much alive: walking, running, climbing mountains, having fun, working, and in about two weeks—he will also represent Israel in the Paralympics in Rio and try to win a medal in wheelchair tennis. This, too, is seemingly an almost impossible challenge. But those who know him and the incredible journey he’s had won’t dare bet against him.

‘Closer to death than to life’

Captain (res.) Itay Erenlib, 31, was born and raised in Petah Tikva. He is the eldest child of Dov, who worked at Yedioth Ahronoth’s Distribution Department, and Sherry, who works as a teacher’s assistant in special education.

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Erenlib in training Paralympics

Erenlib in training

In his teen years, he played a little bit of basketball for Maccabi Petah Tikva, and in 2003 he enlisted in the IDF, joining Sayeret Tzanhanim (paratroopers commando unit), where his father also served. There, he also became an officer, and fought in the Second Lebanon War as a team commander.

After the war, he was transferred and commander over another team, and in July 2007 he was deployed to Nablus.

“We were supposed to enter an ambush inside the Nablus Casbah, locate militants and find explosives labs,” he recounts. “Before leaving our vehicle, we sent a dog twice to sniff around and make sure the alley was clear. When the dog returned, we started moving towards the ambush and as soon as we got there, an explosive was set off. We were all wounded: Lev was moderately wounded, Amos and Yishai lightly, and I was critically hurt.”

Surprisingly, Erenlib did not lose consciousness. “The doctors couldn’t figure out how that happened, either,” he says. “I lost one leg on the spot, and the other stayed with me for another month in the hospital.”

Do you remember these moments?

“Yes, I was fully conscious. I remember talking to the doctor, asking him what was the situation of my soldiers. When the battalion commander, Yaron Finkelman (currently the commander of the Givati Brigade), and the company commander showed up, I told them: ‘You cover upstairs, I’ll cover here.’ I guess I wasn’t aware of the injury I suffered and I was more interested in what happened to the guys who were with me. I was acting as if we had just finished a training exercise, when you check the situation of the people in your team: ‘Number one is fine, number two is fine, number three is fine.’ When the company commander showed up, he asked me ‘Erenlib, what about you?’ And I said, ‘I’m 100 percent’ I was busy with the mission.”

At the hospital, he was sedated, and for two months he fought for his life. “I was closer to death than to life,” he says, as if it was a thing of no importance. “Everyone here can be credited with the fact I have the privilege of being here now: Liron, the doctor in the field; the medic Ziv, who put the arterial tourniquet on me; and most importantly the doctor who treated me—and became a sort of a second father—the late Dr. Danny Simon, from the Tel HaShomer Medical Center.”

You woke up two months later, and then what?

“When I opened my eyes, my mom, out of excitement, started screaming and ran outside. She couldn’t believe I was calling her ‘Mom’ again. My dad asked me if I was still tired. I said I was. I didn’t know I had been sleeping for two months. All I knew were the dreams I had, some related or close to reality. I was heavily sedated.”

And you woke up with no legs, and a hand that doesn’t function.

“As far as I was concerned, I had woken up to a different reality, one I had to deal with. After all, I am still the same person, with only a slight change. Listen, I realized I had been injured, that something serious had happened to me. But I also knew that you could and should deal with any difficulty. Despite the pessimism from the doctors, I said, ‘Okay, this is what they’re saying. Now is my test with myself. I want to be back at health level 97 (the IDF’s highest ranking for top health), no less.'”

Back to Nablus

Erenlib wasn’t joking when he was talking about retaining health level 97. Half a year after his injury, he amazed his doctors—by walking. A few months later he was back in uniform. At first, he returned to the paratroopers, and then he served with other units. As part of his service, he also returned to Nablus, where he was wounded.

“The first powerful moment I remember from my rehabilitation was making a tree from ceramics, for Dr. Simon, who is a very special man,” Erenlib says. “Over the tree I put a worm that represents life—as they say, ‘man is like the tree of the field’—and added the quote: ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.’ I told myself that when I can walk again and use my hand, and when I can walk the 1.5 kilometers from the rehab center to the trauma center at Tel HaShomer, I’ll give him this tribute. And so it was. It was very meaningful to both of us.”

Is this something you ever believed would happen, when you woke up and realized what had happened?

“Mentally, they always say: ‘Don’t think about the end of the journey, focus on the next step, what you are doing tomorrow morning.’ So the first step was to be able to stand up. The second step was to be able to balance on one leg, and then to be able to walk. Then, walk for half a kilometer, a kilometer, and two kilometers. And then—running, climbing, going down the stairs and any other possible step.”

What did the doctors say about this?

“That I was crazy. I think every time, they were a little more amazed—but I wasn’t. Everything I wanted to do—I did. Even if it wasn’t easy. You fall, get up, fall again, and get up again, until you succeed. I believe that if a person wants to do something—any person, and any action—he can do it. I believe everyone has the willpower. The question is how and when he uses it, and if he believes in himself.”

Not everyone goes through the same difficulties as you did.

“That’s the message I put across in lectures to children, young people before the draft, soldiers, and adults. I may have dealt with something difficult in live—or rather experienced; I call it an experience, because it has a better connotation—but everyone deals with something that to them is unique: An English test at school, a bruise, a breakup, a bad date. The question is how you deal with that difficulty, and how long it takes you. It’s important to keep in mind that anything can become a goal to strive for, and there is no goal that cannot be achieved. You might fail on the way—but don’t stop smiling, learn from your failure, believe, and next time you’ll succeed.

The crazy game of tennis

Itay spends almost every free moment he has on the tennis court or in fitness training: Working on another move, improving his serve, his forehand and backhand shots, his speed and his response time. It is likely that tennis also played a part in his miraculous recovery, and his attitude of a winner.

“Before tennis, I tried swimming, running, climbing, table tennis and basketball. And then I did a trial tennis training session and fell in love,” Erenlib says, delivering a stroke and then reprimanding himself for what he saw as poor defensive shot. “This is a completely crazy game, and the most important thing about it is staying sharp and focused.”

And unlike team sports, you are only dependent upon yourself.

“This way, I focus on myself, my abilities, and not in my rival’s abilities—except for making tactical modifications (to my game play). I focus on me, my energies, I encourage myself.”

Does it also help you in everyday life?

“Yes, I learned how to be positive. In life, not everything we come across is positive, but you learn something from anything—even from the negative.”

Erenlib in training

Erenlib in training Paralympics

Erenlib in training

What’s positive about your injury?

Erenlib laughs. It appears he’s heard this question one too many times. “Look, at first, I wasn’t being positive,” he admits. “But after about four months, I realized (something). Primarily, I learned who are the people truly close to me—my friends and my amazing family, thanks to whom I’m here. They still support me, no matter if I win or lose. It’s a great privilege for any person to know who the people who truly love him are, those who will truly be there for him.”

Are there those who would abandon people at such moments?

‘”At the end of the day, life is not always good. There are crises and health problems. You mature as the years go by. We won’t always be at the height of our physical and mental abilities, and in those moments, when you’re down, that is when friendship is measured. Those who stay by your side in moments like these are true friends, people you’d want to stay close to, those you could trust.”

In the time that has passed since he was officially released from the IDF—merely four years ago—Erenlib has finished a BA in life sciences. He dreams of returning to school after the Paralympics and finishing a degree in medicine.

“I admire the late Dr. Simon and the people who worked with him so I could live today,” he says. “That is why I studied for a paramedical degree. We’ll see what the future holds after the games.”

What options are you considering?

“I want to do things that have to do with saving lives or security.”

Any plans to return to the IDF?

“I don’t know, maybe. Anything could happen.”

The prostheses as shoes

We meet at Beit Halochem in Tel Aviv, a center built for disabled IDF veterans. The massive complex includes a multipurpose gymnasium, classrooms, treatment rooms, rest accommodations, culture halls, cafeteria, massage and hydrotherapy unit, shooting gallery and 350-seat auditorium.

Erenlib receives at the center both support and conditions fit for a professional athlete. He has a regular tennis coach, Nimrod Bichler; tactics coach Ronen Morely; fitness trainer Yuval Luthbeck; mental coach Yoel Abarbech; “and the agent from here, Merav Bushari,” he adds.

“There are a lot of people who surround me, expecting and waiting: Beit Halochem, the National Paralympic Committee, the Toto Winner (sports betting pools). There is support. I’m very proud to be representing the State of Israel. The most important reason to why I returned to the military is the desire and the belief that it is a privilege to contribute to the country, and if I am given the opportunity to represent Israel in the Paralympic Games—I’ll grab it with both hands and make the most of it.”

Even though among the general public, even if you win a medal, it’s doubtful you’ll become a household name. And it’s likely sponsors won’t be knocking down your door, either.

“Look, I’m a Paralympic athlete, and I work very hard—at least as hard as any Olympic athlete, if not more. I train three times a day, dedicate my life to it. We receive some support, but there’s still a way to go.”

Did you watch the Olympics?

“Yes, I was an ardent viewer.”

How did you feel about the treatment to the Israeli delegation?

“People need to remember that every athlete have been burning the midnight oil for their own ends. You have to remember how much work they put into it. Athletes always aspire to succeed, certainly when we’re representing the country and going there with the Israeli flag. Forget the medals, the fact these athlete got to the Olympics already says they’re among the best in the world in their field—and more power to them for that. Any athlete that gets there has expectations of himself to reach the top. I haven’t met an athlete yet who says ‘Okay, I came here, I might make it to the final, I might not.’ I always want to get as far as I can, and as far as possible.”

How far can you get?

“As far as I’m concerned, I go there to make the best of it. Of course the goal is to get as far as possible. I’ve always aspired to excel everything—and the same goes for Rio. I come to give everything I have, and that is what I’ve been working towards for a long time.”

He is ranked fifth in the world, with four strong tennis players ahead of him. He will have to defeat at least one of them to win a medal.

“That’s the money time,” he says. “And if you come with positivity and the right energy and you’re prepared for this competition, you can probably make it happen.”

In Rio, Erenlib will compete in the Quad category (the highest disability rate) in both singles and pairs with veteran tennis player Shraga Weinberg. Because his right hand was also injured by the IED, he has to tie the tennis racquet to his hand with duck tape.

“It very much limits his movement,” says coach Nimrod Bichler, “but on the other hand it ensures the racquet won’t fly out of his hand, which is something that could happen when the hand is not strong enough.”

“At first, I couldn’t use my hand at all,” Erenlib notes, “and I was able to return it to almost-maximal functionality.”

Erenlib gets up from his wheelchair for a few minutes to show that he could play standing up as well. After a few failed hits on my part, I admit defeat. Erenlib, it appears, is amused by my poor physical shape.

“I don’t feel the disability in my daily life,” he says. “I live exactly like you, or anyone else: Go to the pub, travel, work.”

Are there still moments in which you think of what life could’ve been like?

“No. Enough, that’s over with. Just like you put on shoes, I put on the prostheses. These are my shoes.”

Where is this attitude coming from?

“I do everything in life at 200 percent. I always demand the most of myself, and beyond. Then, when you examine your own performance, you go over every step. If you weren’t good enough, and didn’t invest enough in it—you tell yourself ‘Shame, I blew it.’ But if you know you gave a lot of yourself—you’re at peace with yourself. To me, personally, this is very important. And the most important thing is the willpower that urges me on in every challenge and every activity.”

You really are the Usain Bolt of dealing with difficulties.

“Not Usain Bolt. I don’t like his arrogance. I hate arrogant people. If he had humility, he might’ve been able to be a role model. I believe there’s strength in humility, like Rafael Nadal. To me, he is a role model in his game.”

The New Normal: Today’s Arab Debate over Ties with Israel – David Pollock (Fikra Forum-Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

At the security and intelligence levels, direct contacts between Israeli and Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, and other Arab officials have become so frequent and mutually useful as to be routine.

What is noteworthy today is that the issue of dialogue with Israel is being actively and openly debated in major Arab media. Some Egyptian writers and academics most critical of ties to Israel acknowledge that the younger generation, turned against Iran, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood by their own government, is losing some of its animosity toward their Israeli neighbors.

While Arab publics overwhelmingly dislike Israel (and Jews), solid majorities in most recent surveys, on the order of 60%, nevertheless voice support for a “two-state solution,” which implies peace with the Jewish state.

In the past two years, polls in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and the UAE show that “the Arab street” is much more concerned about the conflicts with Iran, Assad, and ISIS than about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The conclusion is clear: today a broader regional approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking, rather than a strictly bilateral Israeli-Palestinian one, offers somewhat better prospects of success.

For an increasing number of Arabs, Israel may not be a friend, but could become a partner.

The writer is a fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Fikra Forum to support Arab democrats.