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Latest News in Israel – 8th December

Israeli critically injured in Hebron stabbing; attacker shot dead

An Israeli man was crtically wounded in a stabbing attack Monday afternoon, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel Police said the terrorist was shot dead by security forces at the scene.

The Magen David Adom rescue service said the victim, a man in his 40s, sustained several stab wounds to the upper part of his body and was evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Police say the victim arrived at the hospital’s trauma center in severe condition where he was connected to a respirator. MDA said he was in a stable condition upon arrival at Shaare Zedek, where he was treated for multiple stab wounds to the chest.

MDA paramedic Zaki Yahav said the injured victim was slipping in and out of consciousness when they arrived at the scene.

“We put him in an intensive care ambulance with the aim of getting him to the hospital quickly,” he said. “We gave him life-saving treatments as we drove, including stopping the bleeding… He is in serious condition.”

Hebron has been a flash point in the recent wave of stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks that has swept the country since October.

On Saturday, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman was arrested close to the Tomb of the Patriarchs after pulling out a knife in a suspected attempt to carry out a stabbing attack.

On Friday an Israeli soldier was lightly injured in a stabbing attack in Hebron. The two Palestinian assailants were shot dead at the scene in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, according to initial reports. They were later identified as Taher Fanun, 19, and Mustafa Fanun, 16, cousins from Hebron.

The only shared city in the West Bank, Hebron has seen constant friction between the community of several hundred settlers and the much larger Palestinian population.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs, shared by Jews and Muslims who both revere it as the final resting place of the Biblical Abraham and his kin, has been a particular source of tension in the city.           (The Times of Israel)

Two wounded after stabbing attack in Jerusalem    (Sunday night)

Three people were wounded, two moderately and one lightly, during a terrorist vehicular and stabbing attack on Yirmiyahu Street in Jerusalem on Sunday night, Magen David Adom reported.

A ZAKA rescue and recovery unit said that the terrorist first tried to run over a child, then drove his car into a pedestrian, and then exited his vehicle brandishing a knife and started stabbing victims, including a police officer on a motorcycle.

One of the victims was reportedly stabbed by the assailant, while the other was injured in the car ramming.

A third person was treated for shock.

The terrorist, shot and killed by security forces who rushed to the scene, was identified as an Arab in his early twenties from Beit Hanina, a neighborhood north of Jerusalem.

Two victims, a man in his 60s and an additional man in his 20s, were taken for treatment at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.  (The Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu rebuffs Kerry’s warning on binational state

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday blamed the Palestinian Authority for the stalemate in peace talks and seemed to hit back at comments made Saturday by US secretary of State John Kerry, who warned that a lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could lead to the end of the Jewish state.

“Israel will not be a binational state,” Netanyahu said emphatically at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “But in order for there to be peace, the other side must decide that they also want peace, and unfortunately that is not what we are seeing.”

Netanyahu reiterated previous claims that the Palestinian Authority has been inciting the current wave of violence, citing a visit Saturday by PA chief negotiator Saeb Ereket to the home of the family of a man who had carried out a shooting attack last week and was killed in the course of the attack.

“Not only does he not condemn the attacker; he offers condolences to the family and therefore gives support and encouragement to acts of terror,” he said.

Netanyahu’s comments came a day after Kerry told the Saban Forum at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, that current trends were leading to a one-state solution, and that Israel would not be able to maintain its Jewish and democratic nature in such a scenario.

“The status quo is simply not sustainable and the fact of the matter is that current trends, including violence, settlement activity, demolitions, are imperiling the viability of a two-state solution,” Kerry warned. “And that trend has to be reversed to prevent this untenable one-state reality from taking hold.”

Kerry, who was criticized this fall for seeming to assert a connection between settlement growth and the recent upswing in terror attacks against Israelis, emphasized Saturday that although “settlements are absolutely no excuse for violence — and we are clear about that,” at the same time “continued settlement growth raises honest questions about Israel’s long-term intentions and will only make separating from the Palestinians much more difficult.”

“I can’t stress enough that the terror attacks are devastating the hopes of Israelis who want to believe that peace is possible and the violence must stop,” Kerry said, “but Palestinian hopes are also being dashed by what they see every day. They’re focused on a reality that few others see – that the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority contemplated by the Oslo process has in many ways been reversed.”

Kerry also excoriated Israeli building in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli administrative and security control, as increasing Palestinian disillusionment and distancing the prospects for a two-state solution. In pointed remarks, Kerry called out Israeli government ministers who have voiced skepticism toward a two-state solution.

“Nearly all of Area C, which comprises 60 percent of the West Bank, is effectively restricted for any Palestinian development, much of it claimed for Israeli state land or settlement councils,” Kerry told attendees.

“We understand there was only one Palestinian building permit granted for all of area C for all of last year and settler outposts are regularly being legalized while demolition of Palestinian structures is increasing. You get it?”

Netanyahu also hit back at comments made Friday by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström suggesting Israel was conducting extrajudicial executions of Palestinian stabbers.

“I denounce the outrageous comments by the Swedish foreign minister,” Netanyahu said. “It seems she expects Israeli citizens to offer their necks to those who want to stab them. It will not happen and we will continue to protect the lives of Israeli citizens.”

Wallström made her remarks in the Swedish parliament after three MPs accused the government of being biased toward the Palestinians and against Israel. In response, she condemned stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, but added that Israel’s response was “disproportionate,” citing as ostensible proof the higher number of Palestinian casualties compared to Israeli ones.

Israel’s response involved “extrajudicial executions,” she was quoted saying, and was “disproportionate, so the number of dead on the other side is greater than the original death toll by several degrees.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry also issued a strongly worded statement in response to the comments.

“It’s an outrageous statement. Delusional, impudent and detached from reality. In Israel, every criminal is brought to court, including terrorists,” the statement read. “Israeli citizens are dealing with terrorism, which gets a boost from such irresponsible and mendacious statements.”

The Foreign Ministry in Stockholm issued a clarification of Wallström’s remarks, arguing that they had been misinterpreted.

“The foreign minister never said that Israel is carrying out extrajudicial executions,” said Wallström’s office. “The foreign minister made a general statement about international law and the right to self-defense, and the importance of proportionality and judiciousness. She was referring to both sides.”

Sweden has been among the countries most critical of Israel’s handling of the conflict with the Palestinians. Following the November 13 attacks in Paris, in which terrorists killed 130 people, Wallstrom asserted that the attacks were rooted in the frustration of Muslims in the Middle East, including that of Palestinians.             (The Times of Israel)

‘Palestinian refusal to accept Jewish state is core problem’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said the issue preventing a peace agreement with the Palestinians was their refusal to recognize a Jewish state.

“It is because the Palestinians have not been willing to cross the emotional and conceptual bridge of a state next to Israel, not one instead of Israel,” Netanyahu said from Jerusalem in a video address to the Saban Forum in Washington. “The only workable solution is not a unitary state, but a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu dismissed suggestions by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that continued construction in Judea and Samaria raises questions about Israel’s intentions.

“They refuse to recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people in any boundary,” Netanyahu said of the Palestinians. “That was and remains the core issue.”

At the beginning of his address, Netanyahu expressed his condolences to the U.S. over the San Bernardino mass shooting last Wednesday that left 14 people dead.

“Nobody should underestimate the United States,” Netanyahu said. “It was and remains and will be the leader of the world precisely because it is so rooted in the values that make societies great.”

Speaking about the dangers posed by radical Islamic terrorists in the Middle East, Netanyahu said, “We will not allow any one of these violent medieval forces threaten our country and threaten our people.”

The prime minister also said the long-standing claim that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the main source of strife in the Middle East “was never true, but now it’s demonstrably false.”           (Israel Hayom)

Terrorists have tried and failed to attack Israel’s gas rigs, says NSC head

Terrorist organizations have already tried – and failed – to attack Israel’s natural gas infrastructure, Israel’s National Security Council head Yossi Cohen told a Knesset panel on Sunday.

“Already during Operation Protection Edge, there were attempts to damage our platform, and luckily, these weapons were not accurate enough and did not succeed in causing harm,” Cohen said.

While those attempts may have failed, Cohen warned that the “means of fighting possessed by the terror organizations that surround us are more sophisticated and precise and our vulnerability is increasing.”

The NSC head was addressing the Economic Affairs Committee Sunday morning, during the ninth of a series of final advisory discussions that are a prerequisite toward implementing the country’s long-disputed natural gas outline.

Despite receiving government approval in August, fully activating the outline now requires the economy minister to invoke a legal clause to sidestep the Antitrust Authority’s objections – Article 52 of the 1988 Restrictive Trade Practices Law (the Antitrust Law). To do so, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who because economy minister when Arye Deri resigned from the position in early November – must first consult with the Economic Affairs Committee. Netanyahu can invoke Article 52 by citing national security interests and foreign policy concerns.

Cohen discussed how Israel’s security in the Middle East will increasingly face challenges, but can also be strengthened by relationships it has cultivated with its neighbors – including Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece and potentially Turkey.

“We have a no-less significant interest in creating strategic economic relations, also by means of Israeli gas, with the countries I mentioned,” he said. “As our strategic relations become deeper both internally and externally, the status of Israel in our region will improve.”

Although Israel possesses warships dedicated to protecting gas infrastructure, Cohen stressed his concerns that regional terrorism campaigns continue to pose a threat to such facilities. As a result, he explained, it is critical to both ensure supply redundancy at home and cement relations with friendly neighbors.

“At the present time, it is correct to export and sell, and stabilize the Israeli gas market in Israel,” Cohen said, “the sooner the better.”        (The Jerusalem Post)

‘IDF training for possibility of an ISIS strike from Sinai or Golan Heights’

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressed concerns regarding the Islamic State threat on Israel in an interview with Israeli radio channel 103 FM on Monday.

“Let’s break down the threat into three possible scenarios,” said Amidror, “There’s no need for hysteria,” he said.

He said that the description of an ISIS attack on Israel as imminent is exaggerated.

“Islamic State can strike Israel in one of three ways,” Amidror said.

The first would be through the establishment of an IS affiliated terror cell within the Arab Israeli community. “This cell would have access to enough weapons, intelligence, and explosive materials to carry out a Paris-style attack in Israel,” Amidror said.

The Shin Bet would be able to handle this threat, according to Amidror.  “Up until now the Shin Bet’s coverage of Arab Israelis has not been bad,” he said. Only two of the assailants in the recent wave of terror that struck Israel were Arab-Israelis.

This first possibility is not of utmost concern, Amidror said. “It would be very hard to organize and carry out an attack on the scale of Paris, in Israel. Not impossible, but hard.”

The second scenario in which an IS terror cell could strike Israel, the former security adviser said, is through the creation of cells among Palestinians in the West Bank or east Jerusalem. “It would be easier for them to organize in those communities,” he said. “Those types of environments foster a less-tolerant view of Israel,” he said. “That’s where Hamas terror cells arose in the past, so we need to take into consideration the possibility that a similar IS terror cell could arise in the future.”

Amidror assured that the Shin Bet was properly monitoring this possible scenario as well.

The third way that IS could exert its influence into Israel, according to Amidror, is through cross-country borders. “IS could come from across the border,” he said. “The IDF drilled for this scenario recently.”

Amidror said that IS is exerting influence in Egypt – training heavily in Sinai – and forming cells in the Golan Heights.

“There could always be a surprise cross-border attack, but the IDF is prepared for this possibility,”  Amidror assured.             (The Jerusalem Post)

IAF strikes Hamas target in Gaza after cross-border shootings

The Israel Air Force struck a Hamas target in northern Gaza overnight between Sunday and Monday, in response to a cross-border shooting targeting an IDF engineering vehicle on Sunday afternoon.

The vehicle was struck by multiple rounds fired from Gaza, the army reported on Sunday.

The incident occurred on the border between Israel and southern Gaza, where soldiers heard gunfire, and discovered the rounds lodged in the vehicle, which was near the border fence. There were no injuries in the incident.

It was the second time in recent days of cross-border gunfire.

Gunfire originating from the Gaza Strip struck an IDF vehicle on Friday afternoon during a military patrol of the border region between Israel and the southern Strip. Soldiers reported hearing gunfire during the patrol, and discovered a bullet lodged in the vehicle.

There were no injuries. “We are examining this incident,” the IDF Spokesman Unit said.           (The Jerusalem Post)

Israel Draws Up Document Justifying Legality of Settlements, Property Claims to West Bank

Israel is preparing a document providing the legal justification for Israeli settlements, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Thursday evening.

According to the report, the document – which spells out why settlement construction in the West Bank is completely legitimate and does not violate international law — will be translated into multiple languages and distributed to all Israeli embassies in the world.

The document is part of an initiative spearheaded by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who is guiding the Ministry’s legal team.

Channel 2 highlighted certain clauses of the document, among them passages stating that Israel’s property claims to Judea and Samaria are valid, as the land “was never under the legitimate sovereignty of any country,” and  because the “Jewish affinity to Judea and Samaria is thousands of years old.” The settlements, according to the document, are not new; nor do they constitute “colonization.”

According to Channel 2, the document also says that the settlements were established under the supervision of the Supreme Court, and that the Disengagement – Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 – was a unilateral political move, not the fulfillment of any kind of legal obligation.

Hotovely, according to the report, is going to convene legal minds from across the world to examine the document, which is being undertaken with the knowledge of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has also been serving as Foreign Minister since the forming of his new government less than a year ago.

The document is based almost entirely on the Levy Report, Channel 2 claimed, referring to the 2012 “Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria,” authored by a three-member judicial committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy, which concluded that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not an “occupation,” and that settlements are legal under international law.             (The Algemeiner )

The ‘scent’ of terror: New dagger perfume available for purchase in Gaza


New dagger perfume available for purchase in Gaza‏.

The latest perfume trend in Gaza is a new scent being sold in a bottle shaped like a dagger, the Palestinian symbol of resistance in the latest wave of terror to strike Israel in recent months, according to reports by Alkahleej, a United Arab Emirates based media site.

In the face of an economic downturn, Gazan vendors and business owners are using their creativity in an attempt to encourage buyers and increase sales. The latest gimmick introduced to the market is the “Dagger perfume,” an intricately detailed perfume bottle made out of a piece of glass in the shape of a blade with a silver handle and tip accented with red jewels.

According to one of the vendors who spoke to Alkahleej, “the fragrance is dedicated to martyrs,” and is intended to help people remember the “value of revenge and continued fighting.”

The Gazan vendor noted that the perfume was unlikely to sell in large quantities due to the high price tag.

This is not the first time that war and perfume have come together. The citrus scented “M-75” perfume, which hit the shelves during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, was named for the missiles Hamas Islamist militants shot at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the eight-day conflict that ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce. The green and black missile shaped bottle was intended to give consumers a chance to smell victory according to Rajaey Odwan, director of Gaza’s Continental Style perfume company which markets imported fragrances.             (The Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Hosts ISIS Commander in Gaza to Expand Terror Cooperation

According to the report, Shadi Al-Mani’i (also known as Abu Mus’abi) — commander of Wilayat Sina, ISIS’ Sinai branch — is meeting with heads of Hamas’ military wing to discuss expanding cooperation between the two terror organizations.

Al-Mani’i has been wanted by Egyptian authorities for years and was even targeted in a failed assassination attempt last May. He has been accused of masterminding a number of terrorist attacks on Israelis, among them the 2011 attack on Route 12, in which nine Israelis were killed, and the firing of rockets at Eilat.

His visit to Gaza reflects the strengthening of ties between ISIS and Hamas. According to Israeli and Egyptian intelligence, nrg reported, Hamas has already been using its tunnels to smuggle advanced weapons to ISIS in the Sinai, which have been used in combat against the Egyptian army.          (The Algemeiner )

Ya’alon: US is ceding leadership in Mideast to Russia, Iran

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called upon the US to play a more influential role in combatting the Islamic State terror group and in the Middle East in general, and warned of increased Russian and Iranian influence in the region, during a Friday evening address at the Brooking Institution’s Saban Forum.

Speaking before an audience that included former peace negotiators Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, as well as a number of members of Congress, Ya’alon described the security ties between the US and Israel as “superb,” even stressing US President Barack Obama’s efforts to speed up the renewal of a key defense agreement between Jerusalem and Washington.

Ya’alon, who has occasionally touched nerves in Washington with his strident criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry, trod relatively carefully when asked if Obama was acting correctly in response to IS and the Syrian civil war.

“This is a global challenge [and] I believe the United States should be the leader of the Western world in order to meet this challenge,” Ya’alon said.

Overall in the region at present, he stressed unhappily, “Russia is playing a more significant role than the United States.” Added Ya’alon: “We don’t like the fact that King Abdullah of Jordan is going to Moscow, the Egyptians are going to Moscow, the Saudis are going to Moscow.” He summed up: “The United States should play a more active role in our region.”

He emphasized that it was desirable “to avoid Western boots on the ground on one hand,” but noted that on the other hand “you can’t defeat Daesh [the Arabic acronym for Islamic State] without boots on the ground.”

“You need to empower local boots on the ground,” Ya’alon added, suggesting that the US should do more to support both moderate Sunni groups and Kurdish forces. “Western troops in our region should be the last resort,” he said.

Ya’alon also emphasized the danger of increased Iranian involvement in Syria, noting that “the only terror attacks in the last two years from the Syrian side in the Golan Heights were perpetrated by the IRGC” – the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The defense minister said that Syrian President Bashar Assad – who has been propped up by Iran for years – doesn’t like the IRGC operations on the Golan border, but is powerless to do or say anything about them.

In the absence of US leadership in the region, Ya’alon warned, Russia was playing a dominant role in the Syrian conflict. Furthermore, he said, Israel is “worried about” the involvement of Iran in the multi-party talks on Syria convened by Kerry in Vienna.

“The Vienna process, which I’m not sure will be successful, provides Iran the opportunity to gain power, to gain hegemony,” Ya’alon suggested.

Describing Syria as an “omelette, even shakshuka [an Israeli dish with poached eggs],” Ya’alon suggested that the “broken eggs” of Syrian society would be near impossible to put back together again. “Syria is going to suffer from chronic instability for a very long time. We can’t see the end to this tragedy.”

Although Ya’alon has quieted his rhetoric against the Iran nuclear deal since it was reached in July, he stressed that “we still consider the deal a historic mistake.”

“What we have achieved is to delay the Iranian nuclear program for 10-15 years,” he said, describing the end date for this period as “around the corner.” In the meantime, he said, it is no coincidence that Jordan and Egypt have both expressed an increased interest in acquiring civilian nuclear know-how from Russia. Another byproduct of the deal, he said, was a conventional arms race in response to increased Iranian capacity to fund militant groups in the region, now that sanctions are being lifted and foreign money once again flowing into the country.

Ya’alon argued that although the recently released International Atomic Energy Agency report demonstrated that Iran had “cheated the West again and again and again,” he now “believes that they are going to comply” with the terms of the agreement.

“Why? Because they need the money for their economy,” he concluded. “Iran is under economic pressure but is still committed to becoming a military nuclear power,” he emphasized.

Ya’alon also touched upon the recent thaw in relations between Washington and Jerusalem in the aftermath of the fight over the nuclear agreement.

“The relationship between our two defense establishments is superb, superb, not less than that,” he gushed. Obama himself, Ya’alon revealed, has directed that a new 10-year memorandum of understanding regarding defense aid be concluded in the next two months. The renewal of the memorandum is a top priority for Israel, and Ya’alon has met repeatedly with his US counterpart Ash Carter, to discuss it.

Turning to the current violence at home, the hawkish minister condemned Palestinian incitement as a root cause of the months-long uptick in violent attacks by Palestinians against Israeli targets.

“We do not want to rule over the Palestinians,” Ya’alon said, but complained that the prospects for peace were limited by poor Palestinian governance. “Since the dawn of Zionism, we have not had a Palestinian leadership that recognizes the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state,” he said.

Ya’alon advocated a slow, gradual approach toward Palestinian statehood, emphasizing that as defense minister, he would recommend that even in a final arrangement, Israel retain control of the Palestinian state’s “external boundaries.”

“We don’t want to govern them, but we shouldn’t be in a hurry,” he said. “Let’s make progress slowly, slowly.”                (The Times of Israel)

Ex-Cambridge professor who boycotted Israeli 13-year-old under police investigation

The British-American Jewish academic who told a 13-year-old Israeli girl that she would not answer her questions for a school project until there is peace in Palestine is under police investigation.

The Cambridgeshire Constabulary confirmed on Friday to the London-based Jewish Chronicle that it was investigating a complaint about a comment by archaeozoologist Marsha Levine, a former academic at the University of Cambridge, who told the Jewish Chronicle in response to an interview about the girl’s request that “the Jews have become the Nazis.”

The Jewish Chronicle’s reporting of the email exchange between Levine and Shachar Rabinovitch of Zichron Yaakov, and later comments reportedly triggered a complaint to the police from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. The police are investigating the comments as a possible hate crime, according to the Chronicle.

Shachar Rabinovitch had sent an email to Levine last month asking for her help to learn about the early history of the horse and the use of horses by humans in ancient times, as part of a school assignment.

“I know you are a very important person and I’ve read your article about horses and I love horses very much and it will be an honor if you will answer my questions,” the girl wrote in her email to Levine.

Levine responded that she is a member of the Jews for Justice for Palestinians organization and that she supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

“You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people,” the academic wrote, and referred her to the Jews for Justice for Palestinians website.

The girl’s mother, Shamir Rabinovitch, posted the email exchange on Facebook.              (The Jerusalem Post)

The Boycott Israel movement is driven by bigotry

BDS bullies want everyone in Christendome to refuse to have anything to do with Israel, but they are an ugly, vindictive movement


By Brendan O’Neill                The Daily Telegraph (UK)

There are many weird and angry political movements in the 21st-century West. But it’s hard to think of any as ugly, vindictive and packed with prejudice as the Israel-bashing BDS movement.

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Its backers want every institution, retail outlet and right-minded person in Christendom to refuse to have anything to do with Israel and its apparently wicked wares and people.

They want us to stop buying Israeli produce. To refuse to read books written by Israeli academics. Even to refuse to listen to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, lest its beautiful music infect our minds and make us think for a dangerous split second that Israel might just be made up of people like us.

The ugliness of BDS was thrown into sharp relief yesterday, when it was revealed that a former Cambridge academic refused to answer a 13-year-old girl’s curious questions because the girl is an Israeli.

Marsha Levine, a supporter of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, is an expert on horses. Israeli schoolgirl Shachar Rabinovitch emailed her to ask her some questions, saying “I know you are a very important person and I’ve read your articles about horses”.

“You have to ask yourself: what is there to gain from not talking to a 13-year-old girl? How does that solve anything?”

Shamir Rabinovitch, father of schoolgirl

Ms Levine’s response was like something out of a Grimms’ fairytale: an angry woman barking irrationally at an innocent, inquisitive girl who made the mistake of (virtually) knocking on angry woman’s door.

“I’ll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians”, she said. “You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people.”

And that was it. Ms Levine refused to respond to a schoolgirl’s questions about horses because the schoolgirl lives in a part of the world where there is conflict. Actually, scrap that. She refused to answer the girl’s questions because of the girl’s nationality. Nasty stuff.

Ms Levine’s response is warped on so many levels. It’s just cruel to crush a girl’s curiosity after she has sent you a sweet, respectful email. And to hold a 13-year-old responsible for what her government does is bizarre. It takes the foul idea of collective guilt to a new, barrel-scraping low.

At least those who viewed all Germans or Japanese people as bearing the sin of responsibility for what their rulers did tended only to be thinking about the adults in those nations. BDSers seem to think even Israeli kids must answer for Israeli government action; that even the innocent are guilty.

Let’s just be thankful Shachar was only asking for Ms Levine’s thoughts about horses rather than for help after falling off her bicycle or something. “I’m sorry, but I will not dress your wounds until all the Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been dismantled.”

“Some people claim Ms Levine’s batty smackdown of a schoolgirl was an extreme act”

Some people claim Ms Levine’s batty smackdown of a schoolgirl was an extreme act, a case of a BDS acolyte taking the Israel-avoidance thing too far.

In truth, it has exposed the rotten heart of a movement that fancies itself as progressive but is in fact driven by bigotry.

BDS activists claim to be putting economic pressure on Israel in an attempt to make it change its ways. But actually their main concern is with keeping themselves and their lives Israeli-free, refusing to pollute their minds with Israeli academics’ ideas or their bodies with Israeli apples or olives.

BDS is a forcefield erected around the chattering classes of the West to protect them from the stuff and thinking of one nation and one nation only. It’s a moral purity movement, designed to deflect the products of a people that Europe’s pseudo-progressives have judged to be uniquely evil. Even their kids.

My dictionary defines a bigot as someone who “does not like other people who have a different way of life”. Could there be a better description of the Israel-allergic blowhards of BDS?

BDS bullies have shouted down Israeli theatrical productions, booed the Israel Philharmonic when it played at the Proms, yelled at Israeli academics who have the temerity to visit Western campuses. This isn’t a rational movement for change in the Middle East; it’s a visceral expression of rage against a whole nation, against what many Western liberals view as a non-people, a pariah people.

Far from being progressive, BDS is censorious, effectively silencing Israeli universities by repelling their academics from the West. It is shot through with ugly double standards, so that Israeli artists are harried in a way that artists from China or Zimbabwe never are. And worst of all it has ugly echoes of that darkest moment in European history, when Jewish produce was boycotted and Jewish books were burnt by Europeans who also considered themselves good citizens taking a stand against a problematic, polluting people whose things and ideas threatened European values.

And now, even Israeli children are being shunned, shamed, told they aren’t fit to engage with us decent Europeans. You know who else thought certain children were legitimate targets for prejudicial fury and punishment? Do I have to say it?

Who Is Stealing Palestinian Land?

by Khaled Abu Toameh            The Gatestone Institute


The lands that once housed Jewish settlements were supposed to transform the Gaza Strip into the Middle East’s Singapore.

Instead, all the grandiose and ambitious plans went down the drain when Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. Since then, the entire Gaza Strip has been transformed into a base for various Islamist groups, which have used Gaza to launch terror attacks against Israel and threaten Egypt’s national security.

By stealing their people’s land and distributing it among their followers, Hamas and Fatah are further undermining the Palestinian dream of establishing a proper state based on the principles of democracy, accountability, transparency and the rule of law.

The beleaguered Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, has found an original way to solve its financial crisis. The movement is now planning to pay its unpaid civil servants with former Israeli settlement land in the Gaza Strip.

Abandoned by Israel in 2005 as part of the “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip, the land was supposed to provide a solution to the severe housing crisis in the Palestinian-controlled area. Back then, there was much talk about building new housing projects for thousands of Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli “disengagement” prompted some oil-rich Arab countries to propose plans to help solve the severe housing crisis in the Gaza Strip. The lands that once housed Jewish settlements were supposed to transform the Gaza Strip into the Middle East’s Singapore.

Instead, all the grandiose and ambitious plans went right down the drain when Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. Since then, the entire Gaza Strip has been transformed into a base for various Islamist groups. In addition to suppressing and intimidating the local population, these groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other jihadi militias, have used the Gaza Strip to launch terror attacks against Israel and threaten Egypt’s national security on the other side of the border.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which was ousted from the Gaza Strip by Hamas, has since failed to provide any kind of assistance to the 1.8 million Palestinians living there. Today, it is clear that the PA’s chances of returning to the Gaza Strip are zero. The Palestinian Authority is, in fact, lucky still to be in power in the West Bank.

Were it not for the presence of the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority would have collapsed long ago and Hamas leaders would be sitting today in the office of PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Several attempts during the past few years to end the dispute between Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and Hamas have failed to bridge the wide gap between the two parties. For now, it appears that Palestinians will have to live, for many more years, with the reality that they have two separate states — one in the West Bank and another in the Gaza Strip.

Last year’s “reconciliation” agreement between Fatah and Hamas, which resulted in the formation of a Palestinian “national consensus” government, came at a time when the Islamist movement was facing its worst financial crisis. This crisis was the direct result of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi’s relentless war on Hamas and other terror groups in the Sinai Peninsula.

Hamas leaders were hoping that the “reconciliation” accord with Abbas would at least help them solve the issue of tens of thousands of their civil servants in the Gaza Strip who have not received salaries for more than a year. In other words, the cash-strapped Hamas was hoping that the new “national consensus” government, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, would pay salaries to tens of thousands of Hamas employees. The money, of course, was supposed to come from the U.S. and the EU countries that continue to fund the Palestinian Authority.

However, Abbas has since refused to pay the Hamas employees for two reasons. First, he knows that such a move would invite American and EU sanctions against his government. Second, Abbas fears that once he pays salaries to the Hamas civil servants, he would be empowering the Islamist movement and helping it further tighten its grip on the Gaza Strip.

After months of failed negotiations between Abbas and Hamas to solve the crisis of the unpaid civil servants, the Hamas authorities decided to lay their hands on 1000 dunams (247 acres) of land — part of which once housed the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip — and distribute them among its employees.

The controversial decision, which is being denounced by many Palestinians as “the biggest land theft,” was taken by members of the Palestinian Legislative Council during a meeting in Gaza City last week.

Ziad al-Thatha, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, explained that the confiscated land would soon be distributed among civil servants who have not received salaries for more than a year. He said that the seized land would also be used to cover the debts of several municipalities in the Gaza Strip.

Another top Hamas official, Salah Bardaweel, defended the decision by arguing that the Palestinian Authority had also previously seized 7000 dunams (1729 acres) in the Gaza Strip for its own interests.

So what Hamas is actually saying is: If the Palestinian Authority was able to steal large portions of land in the Gaza Strip in the past, there is no reason why Hamas too should not have a taste of the cake.

The Palestinian Authority and many Palestinians have expressed shock over Hamas’s decision to compensate its employees with parcels of land. But besides strongly condemning the move by Hamas, Abbas and his lieutenants in Ramallah know that there is nothing they can do to prevent the land-grab.

The Palestinians are once again paying a heavy price for the continued power struggle between Fatah and Hamas and failed leadership — both in the West bank and Gaza Strip. By stealing their people’s land and distributing it among their followers, Hamas and Fatah are further undermining the Palestinian dream of establishing a proper state based on the principles of democracy, accountability, transparency and the rule of law.