Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman
The Eurovision song contest is a platform for people throughout the world to compete and show their talent. This year, it is being held in Tel Aviv, Israel. And of course, Israel-haters are trying to boycott that. What are they trying to stop? Unity? Peace? Entertainment? Israel boycotters clearly do not care about creating peace – they just want to disrupt, destroy, and ruin anything that gives Israel a good name.
This entertaining song is a fun way to show the world a side of Israel that they won’t see in the media. (Israel Unwired)
Artist Nirit Levav Packer stands in front of her sculpture of Neta Barzilai made from dolls, Tel Avi
Artist Nirit Levav Packer stands in front of her sculpture of Neta Barzilai made from dolls, on the Tel Aviv beach promenade
Over 150 terrorists released in Shalit deal have returned to terrorism, responsible for 10 Israeli deaths
Over 150 terrorists released as part of the deal between Israel and the Hamas terror organization to release IDF soldier Gilad Shalit have returned to terrorism and have been involved in the death of at least 10 Israelis.
Israel released 1,027 terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails in 2011 in return for the release of Shalit, who was abducted by Hamas on the Gaza border in 2006.
Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari was quoted in 2011 in the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Hayat as confirming that the terrorists released in the deal were collectively responsible for the killing of 569 Israelis.
The terrorists signed a document on their release in which they stated they would not return to terrorism. However, 15 percent of them have, and many have been rearrested and incarcerated.
Btsalmo, an Israeli human rights organization, petitioned the IDF for data on the released terrorists, and the IDF has confirmed that 100 have been rearrested for security and terrorism offenses, were resentenced and sent back to prison.
The IDF collected evidence against another 56 terrorists who were brought before a special committee which rescinded the agreement with them and sent them back to prison. Another two terrorists are still on trial.
Some who have not been rearrested are active in generating terrorists against Israelis.
Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in the summer of 2014. The terrorist behind the abduction is Muhammad Kawasmeh, who was released in the Shalit Deal and planned the attack from Gaza.
Baruch Mizrahi, Danny Gonen, Miki Mark, Malachi Rosenfeld, and more recently, IDF soldiers Yovel Mor-Yosef and Yossi Cohen and the baby Amiad Yisrael Ish-Ran were killed by terrorists who were bankrolled by a terrorist released in the Shalit Deal who operates out of Jordan.
Michael Litvak, Btsalmo’s legal authority, stated that it has again been proven that released terrorists return to terrorism, and called on the new government to enact the death penalty for terrorists.
“The release of terrorists generates an endless cycle of bloodshed,” he said.
He underscored that a terrorist attack is a severe infringement of human rights, and therefore the release of terrorists is support of human rights abuse.
“The State of Israel is obligated to provide security to its citizens and protect their human rights, including the basic right to life,” he added.
He vowed to continue operating against the release of terrorists and for more stringent punishments against terrorists and their families. (J Wire) Staff
Ramadan ‘Iftar’ Kosher Meal in Hebron Brings Israeli ‘Settlers’ and Palestinians Together
On Monday, Palestinian businessman Sheikh Ashraf Jabari hosted a several key Israeli leaders from Judea and Samaria for an Iftar meal, the festive meal Muslims throughout the world enjoy upon breaking their dawn-to-dusk fasts throughout the month-long Ramadan festival.
Among Jabari’s guests were Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, Hebron Jewish community leader Yishai Fleisher, and Heather Johnston, who leads the Israel-US Friendship Association (USEIA), in addition to members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Judea and Samaria (JSC), reported Arutz Sheva.
“It is a great honor to host all of you in my home,” said Jabari, according to the Arutz Sheva report. “This meal is a reinforcement in light of the ongoing trend in which the economic-business relationship and the strengthening of relations and friendship lead us all to a more positive place.”
Jabari added, “Breaking the fast together at a joint meal in Hebron clearly symbolizes our ability to bridge all gaps.”
The meals is yet another example of the growing trend of Palestinian business leaders choosing to set aside political issues to focus on improving economic prospects for the Arab sector.
A byproduct of the willingness of people like Jabari to work with Israelis are cultural events like the Iftar meal in Hebron, which featured kosher food so that the Orthodox Jewish Israelis could enjoy the feast as well.
Dagan, along with co-founder of the JSC Avi Zimmerman, stressed the importance of economic ties between Israeli and Palestinian business leaders.
Dagan mentioned “economic, human, industrial and economic investment,” while Zimmerman commented, “We are acting out of a vision to bring about mutual fertilization and equal partnership in all economic-business aspects between Israelis and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.”
The meal arrives just three months after an economic forum in Jerusalem that featured Israeli leaders from Judea and Samaria and Palestinian Muhathars charged with overseeing local and municipal-level initiatives. (United with Israel) Staff
Australian Labor Party seeks to cancel recognition of West Jerusalem as capital
Australia’s Labor Party, leading the polls by just 2% in a tight race with the Liberals that will be decided on Saturday, said that if it unseats Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, it would reverse Canberra’s decision last year to recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) published on Monday a list of answers that the Liberals, Labor and Greens provided on issues of importance to Australia’s Jewish community.
Asked about the Jerusalem issue, Labor said, “We support the widely held view of the international community that the future of Jerusalem needs to be decided by the parties to the Middle East conflict as part of a negotiated peace settlement. That is why Labor does not support unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in Government would reverse this decision.”
A poll conducted for the Australians on Monday found that the Bill Shorten-led Labor party is clinging to a 51-49 lead over Morrison’s Liberals. According to Australia’s 2016 census, there are some 91,000 Jews Down Under, or 0.4% of the population, and some 604,000 Muslims, representing 2.6% of the population.
Morrison’s decision to recognize part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December was made as a result of his saying two months earlier that he was “open” to the idea of recognizing Jerusalem and moving the Australian embassy there. That comment was made in the heat of a key by-election held in a heavily Jewish area of Sydney where David Sharma, the Liberal party’s candidate and Australia’s former ambassador to Israel, was running for a seat. Sharma lost the election.
In December, Morrison recognized west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in April opened a Trade and Defense Office in the Migdal Ha’ir office tower on King George Street there.
Labor, in its answer to the ECAJ questionnaire, called Morrison’s move a “shameful act” that “put his own domestic political interest before the national interest. He decided to junk longstanding bipartisan foreign policy in a cynical attempt to win votes.”
The move, according to Labor, was a “desperate political tactic” taken against the advice of the relevant agencies and without consulting Australia’s “partners and allies,” or either the Israelis or Palestinians.
“The result of the chaos and confusion has been clear. Mr Morrison caused offence to some of our nearest neighbors, harmed Australia’s international reputation, and our nation’s interests,” the statement said.
The Liberal Party, in its answer to the Jerusalem question, said that Morrison “made it clear that it is the fundamental right of every country to determine its national capital. As a result of the Morrison Government’s decision, Australia recognizes West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government. The Morrison Government further looks forward to moving the Australian Embassy to west Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after final status determination.”
As to whether Australia should recognize “Palestine” as a state outside the framework of a negotiated agreement, a position adopted in December by Labor’s National Conference with the caveat that this will be a decision for the future Labor government to take, the party did not give a clear response in its answer provided to the ECAJ.
“A Shorten Labor Government would ensure that any decision taken contributes to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and to progress towards a two-state solution,” the party said.
The Liberals, in their response, made clear they were opposed to such a move. “Australia has long held that aspirations for Palestinian statehood can only be realized through direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel,” their statement read.
Regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, both parties expressed opposition. But while the Liberals calling it an “antisemitic” campaign, Labor sufficed by stating that it has always opposed the movement and believes “a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only come from open dialogue and discussion between the parties, not from a policy of exclusion.” (Jerusalem Post) Herb Keinon
Madonna refuses calls to back out of appearance in Israel
American pop music star Madonna is refusing to cancel her planned appearance in Israel for the Eurovision song competition, despite pressure from the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be,” Madonna told Reuters on Tuesday.
“My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict. I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace.”
The BDS movement, which has called for the cultural, academic, and economic isolation of Israel to force the Jewish state to withdraw from Judea and Samaria, has urged performing artists invited to the Eurovision competition in Tel Aviv not to attend.
Madonna has visited Israel repeatedly in the past, however, including performances in 2009 and 2012. She is expected to arrive in Israel on Wednesday on the private plane of Israeli-Canadian philanthropist Silvan Adams.
The 60-year-old pop singer is expected to perform two songs from her new album at the Eurovision in Tel Aviv on Saturday. (Arutz Sheva) David Rosenberg
Trump election a boon to Israeli settlements, data shows
Israel began increasing its spending on settlements in Judea and Samaria following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press.
Both supporters and detractors of the settlement movement have previously referred to a “Trump effect,” claiming the president’s friendlier approach to the settlements is leading to additional settlement construction.
While the new Israeli figures obtained in a freedom of information request do not prove a direct connection, they indicate this process may already be underway, showing a 39% increase in 2017 spending on roads, schools and public buildings across Judea and Samaria
Hagit Ofran, a researcher with Peace Now, said it appears that Trump’s election has emboldened Israel’s pro-settler government.
“They are not shy anymore with what they are doing,” she said. “They feel more free to do whatever they want.”
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, offered even sharper criticism. “This proves that the current U.S. administration encouraged settlement activities,” he said.
For decades, the international community and the U.S. have expressed concern over the settlements. But since taking office, Trump has taken a different approach. The White House has urged restraint but refrained from the blanket condemnations of its Republican and Democratic predecessors.
“The Trump administration is undoubtedly the most friendly American administration of all time,” said Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha). “In contrast, the Obama years were extremely hard for Israel. Now we are making up for lost ground.”
The government statistics, released by the Finance Ministry, show that in 2017, Trump’s first year in office, Israeli spending in Judea and Samaria rose to 1.65 billion shekels, or $459.8 million, compared to 1.19 billion shekels ($332.4 million) in 2016.
The 2017 figures were the highest in the 15 years of data provided by the Finance Ministry, though spending also climbed in 2016, when then- President Barack Obama, a vocal critic of the settlements, was a lame duck, and his relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were cool.
In contrast, the lowest year of Israeli spending was 2009, when both Netanyahu and Obama took office, when it was 760.7 million shekels. The data included only the first half of 2018, so full-year comparisons were not available.
The figures include only government spending, so construction and purchases of private homes are not included. Israel also does not include items like police, education, health and military spending, saying such services are provided to all Israelis regardless of where they live.
In addition, spending in east Jerusalem is excluded.
But even with these caveats, the data provide a valuable snapshot of Israel’s priorities. The figures include spending on public construction projects, such as roads, schools, social centers, synagogues, shopping malls and industrial parks. They also include special development grants for local governments and mortgage subsidies.
The areas with the strongest growth in 2017 were in school construction, which jumped 68%, and road construction, which rose 54%.
Revivi, who is also mayor of Efrat, said the spending was badly needed.
He said that school spending was legally required because of the fast-growing population. He also said that roads in Judea and Samaria have been in “dire condition” for years, and there is a drastic need for improvements.
Netivei Yisrael-the National Transport Infrastructure Company, which oversees road construction, said it carries out its projects at the instruction of the Transportation Ministry. In Judea and Samaria, these projects often allow settlers to bypass Palestinian villages to minimize friction.
In a statement, the company said it is “proud to lead a long line of projects throughout Israel, including Judea and Samaria, with the goal of improving safety for travelers and saving lives.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett declined to comment, while Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz did not respond to a query. Both men are strong supporters of the settlements. Netanyahu’s office also did not answer a request for comment.
But Peace Now’s Ofran said that road construction has deeper implications. She said new roads bring easier commutes and a better quality of life for settlers, drawing more people.
“We see it very immediately, after the opening of a road, a big boom in construction along the road,” she said. “I think the investments we have these years in the roads are dramatic and will allow the expansion of settlements dramatically. That is very worrying.”
In recent months, both Peace Now and settler advocates have released reports claiming that Trump’s policies have laid the groundwork for a settlement boom in the near future.
In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem repeated the White House policy. “While the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity doesn’t help peace,” it said. (Israel Hayom) AAP and Staff
War Crime!: Placing a Note in the Western Wall
by Alan M. Dershowitz The Gatestone Institute
- I urge all visitors to join me in a conspiracy to violate the UN Security Council Resolution…Obama, himself, engineered the Resolution. He pushed it through the Security Council despite some reservations by other members, including Egypt, which believed that the Resolution itself could become a barrier to a negotiated two-state solution. After all, if Israel’s control over Judaism’s holiest site is deemed illegal, then Israel would have to negotiate its legality with the Palestinians.
- These Jewish areas were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 and lawfully recaptured by Israel in a defensive war, started by Jordan when it fired mortars at civilian targets inside pre-1967 Israel…. Yet there were no United Nations Resolutions, campus protests or other organized shows of opposition by the international community. Only after Israel liberated these historically Jewish areas, did the world, and Obama, decide — in violation of international law — that they were illegally occupied.
- Declaring the Western Wall to be illegally occupied territory is akin to declaring the Vatican, Mecca or other religious, holy sites to be occupied by those who pray at them. The Western Wall is lawfully part of the nation state of the Jewish people. It will remain so as long as Israel exists. If there is to be any hope of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the world must recognize that historic, moral and legal reality.
Last week, in Israel, I committed a flagrant violation of international law. This “war crime” consisted of placing a note asking for “peace, salaam, shalom” in the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. The reason the note requesting peace constituted “a flagrant violation of international law” and a “war crime” is that the United Nations Security Council, in a Resolution adopted in December 2016, declared that all areas captured by Israel during the 1967 War are illegally occupied territories. That includes the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and the access roads on Mount Scopus to the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital.
Former US President Barack Obama demanded that his permanent representative to the United Nations not veto this one-sided, wrong-headed, ahistorical, bigoted, and anti-peace Resolution. Obama changed American policy by allowing such a resolution to be enacted by the Security Council as revenge on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, quite correctly, opposed the very bad deal Obama made with Iran enabling it to develop nuclear weapons.
Although Obama himself had once stood in front of the Western Wall and placed a note in it, he now apparently regards Judaism’s holiest place as territory illegally occupied by Israel. He is dead wrong, but that does not change the Security Council Resolution.
So now I, and doubtless many others, have not only willfully and deliberately committed a violation of international law, we are also guilty of a war crime, because building or using civilian structures on illegally occupied territory is a war crime; and Israel built, and I used, the promenade in front of the Western Wall after Israel recaptured it during a defensive war.
Let me be clear: I intend to commit this crime during every visit to Israel. Call it an act of civil disobedience, or call it an act which simply recognizes the absurdity and illegality of the Security Council Resolution, despite its passage and lack of veto by the United States, which abstained.
The United States abstention was designed to give the Obama administration political cover at home. It could claim that it did not vote for the Resolution. But it did much more than vote for the Resolution. Obama, himself, engineered the Resolution. He pushed it through the Security Council despite some reservations by other members, including Egypt, which believed that the Resolution itself could become a barrier to a negotiated two-state solution. After all, if Israel’s control over Judaism’s holiest site is deemed illegal, then Israel would have to negotiate its legality with the Palestinians. This would give the Palestinians an incomparable bargaining chip. As a former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority once rhetorically asked me, “How much would Israel be willing to give up to get back its most important religious shrine?”
Israel will never accept the Security Council Resolution. Nor should any decent person. I certainly do not, and will continue to violate it during every visit to Israel, by putting notes in the Western Wall, eating kosher falafel in the Jewish Quarter and driving on the access road to Hebrew University, and if I need to, Hadassah Hospital. I urge all visitors to join me in a conspiracy to violate the Security Council Resolution.
These Jewish areas were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 and lawfully recaptured by Israel in a defensive war, started by Jordan when it fired mortars at civilian targets inside pre-1967 Israel. During the Jordanian occupation, King Hussein engaged in war crimes by ordering the destruction of ancient synagogues, burial places and other historical sites and by “ethnically cleansing” this historically Jewish area of all Jews. Yet there were no United Nations Resolutions, campus protests or other organized shows of opposition by the international community. Only after Israel liberated these historically Jewish areas, did the world, and Obama, decide — in violation of international law — that they were illegally occupied.
Declaring the Western Wall to be illegally occupied territory is akin to declaring the Vatican, Mecca or other religious, holy sites to be occupied by those who pray at them. The Western Wall is lawfully part of the nation state of the Jewish people. It will remain so as long as Israel exists. If there is to be any hope of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the world must recognize that historic, moral and legal reality.