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Latest News in Israel – 10th August

IDF strikes Hamas targets following Gaza rocket attack

The Israeli Air Force targeted two Hamas posts on the northern Gaza Strip late Tuesday night following an earlier rocket attack from the Hamas-controlled territory, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

“Israel holds the terrorist organization solely responsible for activities on the Strip,” stated the IDF after the strike.

According The Jerusalem Post’s sister site Maariv, citing Palestinian media, there were a number of injuries resulting from the IDF strike, and one person was rushed to Al-Shifa Hospital located in Gaza City.

Recently acquired F-35 stealth fighter jets were reportedly used in the strike.

A spokesman for Hof Ashkelon regional council said that alarms were also sounded in the nearby villages of Zikim and Carmia on Tuesday evening. Military forces were dispatched to scan the area.

This summer marks three years since Operation Protective Edge, in which thousands of rockets, mortars and other projectiles were launched from Gaza towards Israel and the IDF caused extensive damage with air and ground offensives, aiming to eliminate the terrorist threat. The war lasted 50 days and saw 68 soldiers, and five civilians killed on the Israeli sides and upwards of 2,000 killed on the Palestinian side, more than half claimed by Israel to be combatants.

Since then Israel has held Hamas responsible for all fire from Gaza and customarily reacts by carrying out air strikes on the group’s bases and infrastructure. (Jerusalem Post)

Four new ambassadors to Israel present credentials

Australian ambassador Chris Cannan with his twin sons Nicholas and Alexander following the presentation of his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin.

Four new ambassadors – two resident, two non-resident – presented credentials to President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday: Chris Cannan of Australia; Pablo Mcedo of Mexico; Amara Camara of Guinea, who came in the flowing traditional robes of his country; and Talla Fall of Senegal.

Camara, a celebrated former freedom fighter, is his country’s resident ambassador to France and resides in Paris, while Fall is his country’s resident ambassador to Egypt and is posted in Cairo.

Because both are Muslim, Rivlin made a point of telling them that Israel has no war with Islam per se, but only with Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists.

Rivlin told Fall that he looked forward to the day when Senegal would have an embassy in Israel. He underscored that precisely because of the excellent relations Senegal has with Egypt, Turkey and Iran, Fall could play an important role in regional relations from where he sits in Cairo, and thereby be of assistance in changing the status quo.

Referencing the possibility of peace in the region, Rivlin said the first condition for peace was acknowledgment by Hamas of Israel’s right to exist. “It’s time that they recognized this,” he said. “If they want peace, they need to build confidence and not engage in temporary ceasefires while they work out new ways in which to engineer Israel’s destruction.”

Fall said he was happy to be in Jerusalem, which he characterized as “the city of peace and tranquility.”

He was particularly appreciative of the warm hospitality accorded to him. He may have had doubts before he came, given the lull in relations between Israel and Senegal for the first six months of this year. Senegal cosponsored an anti-settlement resolution at the UN Security Council in December 2016. As a result, Israel froze all aid to Senegal and recalled her ambassador. The situation was resolved in June when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Liberia where he attended the summit of the Economic Community of Western African States and met with Senegal’s President Macky Sall.

Fall credited Israel with having been the fourth country to recognize Senegal following its independence in April 1960. He noted that Israel had sent a large delegation headed by Yitzhak Rabin to the 1961 Independence Day celebrations.

Fall said he had come to Israel as a “true friend” because as a boy he had admired Abba Eban and Golda Meir.

Guinea severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 1967 and they were not renewed until July 2016. Camara said that was too long a hiatus and that he regretted the lapse, during which each country could have learned so much from the other.

Relating to the Greek national debt, which is currently in excess of 300 million Euros, Camara said that if a sum of this magnitude would be given to Guinea, “you have no idea what we could do with it.”

This is not the first time that Camara has been in Israel. In 2003 he was in Ramallah, but confessed that he spent most of his visit in Jerusalem. “Here, I saw the meaning of solidarity,” he said.

He was optimistic that Guinea and Israel can make up for lost opportunities and build a solid relationship and pledged cooperation at all levels.

Camara said he was familiar with Rivlin’s quest for equal rights and opportunities for all citizens of Israel, adding that equality was something for which he had striven in his own country.

Cannan was the first ambassador to present credentials to Rivlin, who welcomed him as an ambassador of a country friendly to Israel. Rivlin said he knew that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was doing a lot to enhance the relationship between the two countries.

Rivlin also mentioned the upcoming commemoration at the end of October of the one hundredth anniversary of the battle of Beersheba. He acknowledged the extent to which Australian soldiers contributed to the stunning victory that gave the Jewish population cause to think there was hope for the establishment of a Jewish state.

Cannan confirmed that there has been “a long and positive relationship” between the two countries, particularly this year, with Netanyahu’s visit to Australia in February.

There has also been a long defense and military relationship, he said, noting that Australian Multinational Force and Observers personnel are fighting terrorism on Israel’s borders.

The relationship has now developed a new dimension by way of innovation, Cannan said.

Rivlin thanked Cannan for Australia’s support at the United Nations, but neglected to mention that this is the 70th anniversary year of the UN Resolution on the partition of Palestine, in which Australia played a pivotal role.

Rivlin had several points of discussion with Mexican ambassador Pablo Mcedo, including the anticipated visit to Israel by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Netanyahu’s trip to Mexico next month. Rivlin also spoke of the sale by Kibbutz Hatzerim of 80% of its Netafim drip irrigation company to Mexichem for $1.5 billion. He mentioned having been to Mexico several times, both as minister of communications and as a member of Knesset. But his most memorable visit had been in 1986 for the FIFA World Cup that had initially been scheduled for Colombia, but for economic reasons had been moved to Mexico.

Rivlin was aware that after the Second World War, Mexico admitted a large number of Holocaust survivors and since then, every government of Mexico has had good relations with the Jewish community.

Mcedo said that Mexico’s friendship with Israel was “very solid and unwavering” and that the Jewish community was vibrant and plays a major role in Mexico’s economy and in other sectors.

Being posted to Israel was one of the highlights of his diplomatic career, said Mcedo, adding that he has already found friends here.

Rivlin related a conversation that he had with Nieto, and said that he appreciated Mexico’s willingness to listen to what Israel has to say.

Mcedo assured him that “Mexico will continue to listen and cooperate in the multilateral field.”                   (Jerusalem Post)

Saudi columnist praises Israeli justice system    

“When a citizen sees one of the most senior figures [in his country] brought to jail, he can wave his finger at the world and say, ‘We have justice here!'”

A senior columnist for the Saudi daily Al Jazirah – not to be confused with Al Jazeera – praised Israel’s justice system in his column last month. Dr. Jasser al-Harbash’s article, translated from Arabic by the Middle East Media Research Institute, stated that the justice system is the “secret of the Zionist entity’s advantage over his neighbors.”

According to Harbash, Israeli citizens can be certain that they have justice because the most senior leaders of Israel have been imprisoned. Everyone is held accountable, even presidents and prime ministers.

“When a citizen sees one of the most senior figures [in his country] brought to jail, he can wave his finger at the world and say: ‘We have justice here!’”

Harbash went on to write that this is a key difference between Israel, which he called “the oppressor,” and the neighboring Arab nations, “the victims.”

“When I saw the former Jewish prime minister in his small cell (from which he was released after serving two-thirds of his sentence), I looked away, not because I pitied him, but because it reminded me of the difference between the justice in the society of the oppressor [Israel] and the injustice in the societies of the victims [the Arabs] that surround it.”

Israel’s Arab neighbors, however, have no such justice in their nations. This difference, the column concluded, allows Israel to maintain its status as an “honorable” nation despite accusations of injustice from the Arab world.  (Jerusalem Post)

Survey: Most Israelis want recognition of civil and non-Orthodox marriages

A survey conducted by the Smith Institute revealed that the number of Israeli Jewish adults who would prefer more than one option for state-recognized marriages is growing significantly.

Uri Regev, head of the organization Hiddush, which promotes religious equality in Israel asserted that “A growing majority in the Jewish public expresses a preference for Israel to join the rest of Western democracies in having freedom of choice in marriage.”

The results of the survey, which polled some 800 Israeli Jewish adults, revealed two pieces of information: first, 67% would support recognizing different forms of marriage, including civil, Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox. According to Regev, ”the reality is changing more rapidly than what the government is convincing us”. The first year the survey was conducted in 2009, only 53% of those polled shared the same opinion.

The second part of the poll shows that, if given the option, 50% of respondents would prefer to marry outside the rabbinate. Out of that 50%, 84% of respondents who self-identified as secular said they would not marry through the rabbinate.

Regev believes that these numbers are indicative of a larger issue facing Israeli society, and sees the rabbinate as restricting Israeli citizen’s marriage rights. “The group that suffers most from the lack of marriage freedom are Russian immigrants and among them, those that are not recognized by Israel as being Jewish; they cannot marry at all. You have to include 350,00-400,000 Israeli citizens from the Former Soviet Union, whose numbers increase by 4,000 every year, that are not eligible to have a state-approved marriage. When you include the children from mothers who are not considered Jewish by the State, new immigrants still coming from FSU and the small amount of converts (that did not convert through the rabbinate), you end up isolating a huge part of the population”

He explained that “When you are deprived the right to marry, couples are forced to cohabitate or to go overseas to get married and this undermines successful immigrant absorption, and if that is not resolved, then I believe that we are headed down a threatening and dangerous path.”

Regev also pointed out that even if Israeli couples do marry civilly overseas, they still end up in the hands of the rabbinate should the marriage need to be terminated. Therefore, he sees a growing trend among young Israeli couples citing the Central Bureau of Statistics finding that 16% of Jewish Israeli couples between the ages of 25 and 29 are choosing to cohabitate and build a family without getting married.

“The irony is that insisting on a religious monopoly on marriages ends up undermining the institution of the family. To me, the right to marry and the right to having a family is much more a litmus test of our society because this involves everyone: Orthodox, Conservative and Reform,” concluded Regev.                   (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian tour guides accused of anti-Israel ‘brainwashing’ at Yad Vashem and elsewhere

Palestinian and Israeli Arab tour guides working in Israel are repeating incendiary falsehoods to foreign tourists they take to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem — including the refrain common among Palestinians that “Israel is doing the same thing to us as the Germans did to the Jews in the Holocaust.”

The Israeli Tourism Ministry grants Palestinian tour guides certificates in accordance with the 1994 Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords, which mandates that Israel allow Palestinian guides, certified by the Palestinian Authority, to guide tour groups in Israel.

However, several Israeli tour guides have revealed that Palestinian tour guides make anti-Israel assertions, not only at Yad Vashem and elsewhere in Israel, but also during other tours, such as those conducted by the Israeli Tourism Ministry to Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

“The problem is mainly with the Palestinian guides, but sometimes also with Israeli Arab guides,” says O., an Israeli tour guide. “The guide usually takes a group of tourists on one- to 10-day trips. … What he says, and how he says it, will shape their opinions of the place and the people.”

Tour guide Zvi Harpaz says he has heard the Palestinians slander Israel at Yad Vashem on numerous occasions.

“This is known in the tourism world, and this phenomenon has been around for many years. I myself heard a guide say that exact sentence to a group of American Catholic tourists, and I am not alone,” Harpaz says.

According to O., Palestinian and Israeli Arab tour guides tell tourists that “the Jews emigrated here from various countries 100 years ago and that is the totality of their history, and of course that they robbed the Arabs of their lands and denied them freedom of worship.”

These guides often respond to tourists’ questions about archaeological findings suggesting Jewish links to the land by saying they are merely part of a conspiracy concocted by the Jews, O. says.

“I have heard these things many times,” he says. “Sometimes you yell something in response, and sometimes you hold back because you don’t have the energy to argue again, and because yelling something for a minute at someone who is with them for the duration of the trip won’t really help.”

G., who has worked as a tour guide for 40 years, describes an instance in which he accompanied a group of 20 German tourists to Masada as part of a trip organized by an Israeli travel agency.

“On the way there, the bus passed by the separation barrier, and the guide on the bus, an Arab Israeli, made sure to tell them this was a wall that was constructed to expropriate land from the Palestinians and to restrict their freedom to go from place to place, without making any mention, of course, of the security needs and the suicide attacks of the Second Intifada that led to its construction,” G. says.

  1. says that in another case, when a tourist asked about the remnants of armored cars from Jewish convoys destroyed during the War of Independence in 1948-1949 that line Highway 1 and serve as a memorial to the victims, the guide replied that “they were just left over from traffic accidents. Anything that could testify to our connection to the place was simply erased, even at the price of a crude lie.”

According to O., these tours sometimes amount to “10 days of brainwashing, and there’s nothing better than seeing something for yourself, even if it has been taken completely out of context. Later, they connect what they were told to what they see on social media or on the news. These people go back to their countries and tell their friends everything they were fed by the Palestinian guide, as if it was the word of God. This is the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions movement] industry. … We are allowing it to happen.”

Why would an Israeli travel agency hire Palestinian guides? O. says the reason is simple: money.

“The cost of an Israeli guide is $225 a day, and the cost of a Palestinian guide is half that, and sometimes even less, not to mention drivers, who in east Jerusalem and in the territories usually do the work off the books,” O. says. “Our guides are more professional, and every Israeli guide tries, in their own way, to imbue a love of the country and of Zionism. … If you take a sunrise trip to Masada and have a Palestinian guide who won’t talk about the destruction of the Second Temple and will ignore Jewish history, even if there is no propaganda, it would be a less professional tour.”

In a statement, the Tourism Ministry said the issue “concerns 0.5% of tour guides in Israel, who guide only groups that set out from the Palestinian territories, and within the framework of the arrangement in place since 1967 and anchored in the Paris Protocol framework. The Tourism Ministry performs reviews, and in instances where a tour guide is caught committing ethical crimes and demonization, the ministry has contacted the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to revoke their license.”

According to the statement, the Tourism Ministry is working to amend the Tourism Services Law, with the aim of “strengthening the ministry’s powers of enforcement.”  (Israel Hayom)

Doing Israel’s humanitarian work

A team of Australian doctors has visited Fiji to consult and operate on members of the Fijian community in need of ENT assistance including a two-yr-old girl who had extreme difficulty in breathing.

Specialists belonging to the Australasian Jewish Medical Federation identified more than cases in need of Ear, Nose and Throat surgery.

The visit was arranged by the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem working through the Israeli embassy in Canberra and the new Israeli-based ambassador to Fiji.

Melbourne ENT specialist Michael Gordon told J-Wire: “This is the third mission we have conducted under the auspices of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The two-year-girl has been incubated from birth and her airway had always been obstructed. She has been unable to speak at all. We operated on her and are hopeful she will be OK within a month.”

Israel’s Roving Ambassador to the Pacific, Jerusalem-based Tibor Shalev Schlosser said “It is through projects like these where the worldwide Jewish community and Israel can collaborate together towards tikkun olam; projects where those who are able may use their skills and resources in aid of those less fortunate.”

The Australian team which performed the surgeries included two Jewish ENT surgeons and a Jewish anaesthetist supported by a religious Christian scrub nurse. (J Wire)

The corruption scandals plaguing Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, explained

By Ben Sales                              JTA

The corruption scandals plaguing Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, explained

He has a firm grip on the government, but a mounting political scandal might bring him down. Officials from his own party have begun to distance themselves from him, but he remains defiant.

Oh, and his son is in trouble, too.

Just one more thing Benjamin Netanyahu has in common with President Donald Trump.

Except there’s a difference: While Trump faces one sprawling scandal, the Russia affair, Israel’s prime minister is embroiled in at least two. Police are conducting two additional corruption investigations that indirectly involve him. His wife, Sara, will probably be indicted soon in a separate case. And a left-wing NGO just sued his son, Yair.

Netanyahu appeared to be in increasing peril as of last week, when Ari Harow, his American-born former chief of staff, became a state witness. Despite it all, Netanyahu has remained confident. He has accused the Israeli media of peddling “fake news” about the scandals. On Monday, responding to an article predicting his ouster, Netanyahu tweeted two words: “Won’t happen.”

But will it happen? After winning four Israeli elections, will Netanyahu be done in by his own misdeeds (or is it prosecutorial overreach)? Here’s a primer on the string of scandals and what they mean for the prime minister.

Netanyahu is under investigation for receiving gifts and taking bribes.

The two main corruption scandals involving Netanyahu both concern allegations of illicit dealings with rich and powerful men. In the first, called “Case 1000,” Netanyahu is accused of receiving expensive gifts from billionaires and then taking action on their behalf. In the second, called “Case 2000,” he is accused of striking an illicit deal with a newspaper publisher.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is alleged to have received tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood producer, and James Packer, an Australian casino mogul. The gifts include champagne, cigars, flights and hotel rooms.

In return, Netanyahu supposedly helped Milchan obtain a U.S. visa and Packer secure a residency permit in Israel. Netanyahu has acknowledged receiving the gifts but denies they were illegal or constituted bribes.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of conspiring with Arnon Mozes, the owner of the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot, to advance legislation hobbling  the free and pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom bankrolled by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Yediot, which has historically criticized Netanyahu, was to cover him more favorably in return. Although recordings of the conversations exist, Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

He’s mixed up in two other corruption scandals — and his wife and son are in trouble, too.

Now you know about Cases 1000 and 2000. Here’s some info on Cases 3000 and 4000, targeting Netanyahu’s associates, plus another scandal involving his wife and another his son.

Here’s a rundown:

“Case 3000” involves alleged corruption in the sale of German submarines to Israel. Police have accused businessman Michael Ganor of bribing government officials to become the negotiating agent for ThyssenKrupp, the German company that built the subs. In addition, Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, was simultaneously acting as Ganor’s representative during the negotiations over the sale.

In “Case 4000,” the director-general of Israel’s Communications Ministry, Shlomo Filber, is accused of illicitly allowing Bezeq, the national telephone company, to buy shares of YES, a satellite cable provider. Filber was appointed by Netanyahu, who also serves as communications minister.

Meanwhile, Sara Netanyahu is likely to be indicted for misusing public funds at the couple’s official residences. The Israeli first lady is accused of using government money to pay for private chefs at family events, a caregiver for her father and weekend electrical work at the couple’s home in the tony coastal town of Caesarea. The allegations have long dogged Sara Netanyahu, who sometimes comes off in the Israeli media as the country’s Marie Antoinette.

Finally Molad, a left-wing Israeli think tank, has sued Yair Netanyahu for libel. Yair, the eldest son of the Netanyahus at 26, wrote a Facebook post last week calling the group a “radical, anti-Zionist organization funded by the Fund for Israel’s Destruction” (a reference to the New Israel Fund, a left-wing NGO and bête noire of the Israeli right). Earlier that day, Molad had posted a listicle criticizing Yair Netanyahu’s political views and use of public funds.

Netanyahu could be nearing indictment — but might still stay in office.

So what does this all mean for the prime minister, who has governed Israel since the beginning of the Obama administration in his second go-round as prime minister? It depends on two factors: Whether he is indicted, and whether that creates enough pressure to force him to resign.

The fact that police are now working with Ari Harow, a confidant of the prime minister’s, means that he may provide information leading to an indictment. The recordings of Netanyahu’s conversations with Mozes, for example, were found on Harow’s phone.

Harow served two terms as Netanyahu’s chief of staff, and founded a consulting company between the two stints. Police have accused him of using his government position to advance his business interests. In return for becoming a state witness, Harow agreed to a plea deal in which he will perform community service and pay a fine rather than serve prison time.

But even with Harow’s testimony, the going will still be slow. According to a handy explainer in Haaretz, police are not expected to issue their recommendation until after the High Holidays late next month. If police recommend an indictment, it could still take several months until the attorney general formally indicts Netanyahu. Even then, he isn’t legally required to resign.

Which is why the prime minister’s fate may come down to pressure from fellow politicians and the public. A poll by Israel’s Channel 10 found that 66 percent of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign if indicted. There is intrigue within Netanyahu’s Likud party as well, with some ministers openly backing him while another, speaking anonymously, said he should resign if indicted.

(Un)fortunately, there’s a precedent for this decision: Nine years ago, facing multiple corruption scandals, centrist Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned even before police recommended an indictment. But stepping down didn’t help him, as Olmert was sentenced to prison in 2015 and served 16 months before going free in July.

Nor did resigning help Olmert’s Kadima party. His successor, Tzipi Livni, lost the subsequent election in 2009 — to Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinians’ “Creativity for Hate”

by Khaled Abu Toameh                 The Gatestone Institute


The angry reactions to the joint Palestinian-Israeli summer camp in the US should be seen in the context of the Palestinians’ strong opposition to all forms of “normalization” with Israel.

Most comments posted by Palestinians and other Arabs in response to the joint Palestinian-Israeli camp vilify the Palestinian girls and their families. The postings brand them as traitors, sluts, filthy people who are not ashamed to be seen in the company of Israeli girls. Then there is the barrage of abuse that is not fit for print.

Such campaigns will surely warn any Palestinian leader against seeking real peace with Israel.

Palestinian teenage girls are facing ridicule and hate for attending a summer camp for coexistence in the US. The camp, which brings Palestinian and Israeli girls together, is organized by Creativity for Peace, an organization in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since 2003, up to 20 Israeli and Palestinian girls, aged 15 to 17, each year have participated in the Creativity for Peace camp.

Photos of the Israeli and Palestinian girls enjoying their time together have enraged many Palestinians and other Arabs, who took to social media to express their disgust and outrage over the event and hurl abuse at the Palestinian participants.

The angry reactions to the joint Palestinian-Israeli camp in the US should be seen in the context of the Palestinians’ strong opposition to all forms of “normalization” with Israel.

The Palestinian girls who attended the coexistence camp are being accused, among other things, of injuring the feelings of their people by “promoting normalization” with the Israeli “enemy.”

Palestinian activists have waged a long-standing war against any form of “normalization” with Israel. Activists have repeatedly targeted even meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, especially in Ramallah and east Jerusalem, on the pretext that such encounters pave the way for “normalization” with Israel.

Some of these activists have resorted to threats, intimidation and violence to prevent such meetings from taking place.

At the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem, for example, two years ago, a group of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists tried to hold a conference. Just before the conference began, Palestinian activists stormed the hall. They chanted slogans against “normalization” with Israel and forced participants to call off the event. This was not the first incident of its kind at the hotel.

Or take the case of another group of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists who tried to hold a conference in Al-Bireh (the twin city of Ramallah), in 2014.

There, too, Palestinian protesters forced participants to cancel the meeting after attacking the hall and hurling abuse, especially at Palestinian “traitors” attending the conference. Palestinian Authority policemen had to rescue the Israeli peace activists and escort them out of the city out of concern for their safety.

Who are these individuals, so dedicated to derailing “normalization” with Israel?

They hail from a wide spectrum of Palestinian society, including Fatah, Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Palestinian People’s Party (formerly the Communist Party).

These factions are far more foe than friend when it comes to interrelations among each other, but when it comes to thwarting coexistence, they join together to unite and destroy.

To them, even Palestinian and Israeli children playing soccer together or attending joint musical concerts is anathema.

Now it is the turn of the Palestinian teens who attended the summer camp in the US to taste this venom.

As far as the enemies of “normalization” are concerned, those girls are nothing more than criminals. They played with Israeli girls, danced with them, and they even watched movies and went shopping together. Rising to the height of criminality — the biggest slap in the face of their people — these Palestinian teens shared sleeping quarters with the Israeli girls.

On social media, these Palestinian girls and their families are being condemned as “traitors” and “prostitutes.” Those are only some of the insults leveled against them, especially on innumerable Facebook accounts.

Those who are waging the smear campaign against these girls have already made up their mind — that this is a “Normalization Camp.” The Israeli girls attending the summer camp are being described as “settlers” in order to whip up Palestinian anger even more by making the Palestinian girls look as if they are socializing with “extremist Jewish settlers.”

In addition to attacking the children, many Palestinians also directed their outrage towards the parents for allowing their daughters to socialize with Israeli girls. “Regrettably, the absence of cultural awareness and national belonging among the parents is the number one reason (for such encounters),” remarked Mu’ath Al-Hims on Facebook.

The bulk of the humiliation, however, was reserved for the girls themselves. Palestinian activists spared no words in this regard.

Commenting on the photos of the Israeli and Palestinian girls at the camp, Tayseer Katot wrote: “This is disgraceful and undignified. This dispirited group [of girls] does not deserve to be called Palestinian.”

“Appalling and unfortunate” was the assessment of Majed Al-Hasayneh concerning the photos of the Palestinian and Israeli girls mixing together at the camp.

Even more descriptive was Mahmoud Abu Al-Bara’s post: “Prostitutes raised by Fatah (the Palestinian faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas).

Imad Chiri, another Facebook user, commented: “This is clear treason and shameless normalization.”

Most comments posted by Palestinians and other Arabs in response to the joint Palestinian-Israeli camp vilify the Palestinian girls and their families. The postings brand them as traitors, sluts, filthy people who are not ashamed to be seen in the company of Israeli girls. Then there is the barrage of abuse that is not fit for print.

The Palestinian girls being castigated on social media are the latest victims of a culture of hate into which Palestinians have been inculcated. This environment is the direct result of an ongoing campaign of incitement and indoctrination that aims to delegitimize and demonize Israel and Jews.

Only a handful of Palestinians dared to come out to defend the teenage girls and their families. Why? Two words: agreement and fear.

Such campaigns of abuse will surely, as they are doubtless intended to do, deter families from sending their children to such encounters with Israelis. What parent in his or her right mind would allow a child to be exposed to such an onslaught of hate?

In addition, such campaigns will surely warn any Palestinian leader against seeking real peace with Israel.

Rather than “creativity for peace,” the Palestinian line is more accurately “creativity for hate.”

To secure peace, Palestinians must accept Jewish history

The use of historical memories as weapons has fueled the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

By Yehudah Mirsky                 The Washington Post


Yehudah Mirsky, a former US State Department official, teaches at Brandeis University’s Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and is author of “Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution.”

Palestinians ended a boycott and entered the Dome of the Rock in the Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, for the first time in two weeks on July 27. But conflicts will persist until they acknowledge the historic importance of the site to Jews. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

On Friday, July 14, three Israeli Arabs who claimed loyalty to Hamas murdered two Israeli policeman at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. In response, Israel declared it would place metal detectors at the Mount, over the misgivings of the security services who feared escalation.

These fears proved well founded. The maneuver inflamed Muslim worshipers, who saw proof of nefarious Israeli intentions instead of enactment of a security measure common throughout the region. The next Friday violent clashes claimed the lives of three Palestinian Arabs, and later that day, a Palestinian stabbed to death a grandfather and his two adult children. The ensuing weeks have witnessed more violent and nonviolent Palestinian demonstrations. The situation was further inflamed last week when a record number of Jews visited the site to mark Tisha Be’av, the holiday commemorating the destruction of the ancient Temple.

This round of conflict stems from the way that both sides wield spiritually infused historical memories and associations as weapons in contemporary political warfare. Palestinians distort historical Jewish claims to this sacred space, inflaming Israeli passions, while a small but vocal minority of right-wing Israelis openly discuss restoring the ancient Temple at the expense of the mosques on the site, stoking Palestinian fears. This creates a vicious cycle that exacerbates problematic Israeli policies like aggressive Israeli settlement in some East Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Ending these distortions will be essential to any hope of achieving peace, or even coexistence, between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. A full third of Israeli Jews in a recent poll who rejected a two-state solution would change their minds if Palestinians would recognize the Jewish holy sites in the West Bank.

The history matters here. In 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, the focal point of the divine presence for Jews. The Temple’s very last remnant, the retaining wall on the western slope of the mountain, assumed divine importance. For millennia, Jews around the world turned toward the Western Wall when saying their prayers.

The Temple Mount also possesses deep spiritual meaning for Christians and Muslims. For Islam the Temple Mount, now named The Noble Sanctuary, was sacred thanks to religious traditions that marked it as an ancient site of prayer. It is also the place from which, in Islamic tradition, the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven to meet his prophetic predecessors.

Despite the centuries-old religious significance of the site, the modern political conflict over the Temple Mount actually stems from 20th-century antagonisms that transformed this holy site into a central political battleground in the war between Palestinians and Israelis.

The creation of the new West Jerusalem in 1869 represented one of the first stirrings of what came to be Zionism. Yet the early 20th-century Zionist movement was less invested in ancient Jerusalem than it was in new, avowedly secular projects like kibbutzim, the city of Tel Aviv and the Hebrew University. Zionists were content to leave the Temple Mount alone, and pious Jews forswore going there, per traditional Jewish law, which forbade them from doing so until the purifying advent of the Messiah.

By contrast, Palestinian nationalists in the 1920s relied upon the symbolic significance of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to shore up their own emerging ranks. Haj Amin al-Husseini, a new, young Palestinian leader who was then Mufti of Jerusalem, sought to Islamicize the political struggle with Zionism, not least because early Palestinian nationalism lacked secular rallying cries. He instilled the idea that anything Jews do on or near the Temple Mount, even something as seemingly innocuous as putting benches in the alley that then encased the Western Wall, was part of a plot to destroy its sacred mosques.

This move sparked decades of conflict that came to a head after British authorities denied Jewish refugees from Europe entrance to Palestine before and after the Holocaust. The resulting turmoil led to the United Nation’s vote to partition Palestine in November 1947, igniting a civil war and then the 1948 war between the newly declared Israel and the surrounding Arab states.

The war left Jerusalem divided between the new West city in Israeli hands and the old East controlled by Jordan. Under Jordanian rule, the Jewish Quarter was razed, Jewish tombstones turned to paving stones and Jews denied any access to their holy spaces there. This destruction fueled a lingering bitterness, and after Israel captured the territory in the June 1967 war, the Israelis razed the Mughrabi Quarter near the Western Wall to create today’s Western Wall plaza.

Israel also annexed much of East Jerusalem, a move still unrecognized by the international community. Israel did, however, leave the Temple Mount under the control of the Muslim clerics. In the ensuing decades, however, the Palestinian nationalist movement, like the Mufti nearly a century ago, has increasingly stoked fears about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as a rallying cry to make up for the lack of secular national spaces and symbols.

In doing so, the Palestinian leadership has adopted the spurious claim that no Jewish temple ever existed on the site as a central theme in Palestinian politics. Yasser Arafat even cited it to President Clinton to explain his unwillingness to accept Israeli claims during negotiations at Camp David. This distortion has compelled Israel, which for years was content to leave the Mount in the hands of Muslim clergy and defer discussions of sovereignty, to assert its own claims to the Temple Mount. Further inflaming the situation, the Muslim clerics supervising the site have failed to maintain its archaeological history, which arouses Israelis’ fears that they are trying to erase Jewish history — a clear signal that Palestinians will never accept the Jewish State.

Over the years, sporadic actions by Israelis have also stirred Palestinian anxieties about the Mount, like the early 1980s plot to destroy its mosques (whose members Israel jailed), or the provocative visit by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon in 2000. Recent years have also seen more and more religious Jews, in departure from past practice, visiting the Temple Mount, despite severe restrictions which forbid them from praying or even appearing to pray. They do so in no small part to assert the Jewish past there. While Palestinians fear that everything Israelis do at the Mount is part of a century-old plot to restore a never-existent Temple, these Jews see the real danger as Palestinian denialism of their history and heritage.

The international community has exacerbated these tensions by adopting the Palestinian line on Jerusalem. On July 4, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution denying Jewish claims to Jerusalem and alleging all manner of Israeli misdeeds. This sort of action stiffens Israeli resolve and empowers hard-liners who argue that there is no point in compromise: If Palestinians and their international allies refuse to even recognize Jewish history, there’s no chance of them accepting a Jewish state.

The decline of secular nationalism throughout the Middle East compounds this vicious cycle. Secular nationalist movements are struggling to sustain themselves without the kinds of passion, commitment and deep historical grounding that religion ignites. In the case of the Temple Mount, these pressures push leaders to wrap themselves in religion, which drives Jews and Muslims alike to press their ties to the spaces of their hallowed pasts even more firmly than before. This impulse makes compromise harder.

Finding a way to reconcile religious pasts with present-day geopolitical realities is as challenging as it is essential. Any hope for a sustainable future requires Palestinians to accept the historic tie and sacred nature of the Temple Mount for Jews. Rather than denying Jewish history, Palestinians must instead construct secular political institutions and partnerships with the many Israelis who would be glad to maintain a peaceful status quo on the Mount for the sake of a livable Jerusalem. Absent this, the Palestinians will find themselves without Israeli partners, and peace, or even coexistence, will be ever harder to achieve.

The Israel Institute of New Zealand created this great video explaining what being a Zionist is all about.

The Israel Institute of New Zealand created this great video explaining what being a Zionist is all about.

Posted by StandWithUs on Tuesday, 8 August 2017