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Latest News in Israel – 21st November

Noor Dahri was raised to hate Israel and Jews. Now he’s a Muslim Zionist. Here’s why.

This man was raised to be anti-Israel way before he ever met an Israeli or a Jew.

But, in 2014, this thinking Muslim used his brain, and not just the way he was raised, and decided that the truth is with the Jewish and Israeli side.

All of the anti-Israel propaganda is actually a guise for the ancient versions of anti-Semitism.

This man should be lauded for his bravery.

He is not what you would expect to be a speaker for Zionism, but his political and religious identities actually synthesize in a way that is truly eye-opening.  (Israel Video Network)

Netanyahu reacts to Trump’s rumored peace plan including Palestinian state

Israel’s attitude towards any peace plan will be determined according to its security and national interests, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, while adding that “these were made clear to our American friends.”

Speaking at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu related to news reports over the weekend that the Trump administration was at its final stages of drafting a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel’s Channel 2 had reported that Trump’s peace plan includes the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“With regard to President Trump’s plan, we heard plenty of speculations over the weekend; I am not planning to address them.  However our attitude towards this plan will be determined according to security and national interests of the State of Israel, and these were made clear to our American friends.

Earlier on, Netanyahu’s office categorically dismissed the reports as “not accurate,” adding that Israel’s “security needs and national needs of the State of Israel” would determine whether or not Jerusalem would approve of any peace plan.

Following the reports first aired on Saturday, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) threatened to quit the government.

Issuing a statement after Hadashot News revealed the key tenets of the rumored plan, Ariel, whose party vehemently opposes the notion of a Palestinian state, stated that his faction “will not remain in a government that recognizes a Palestinian state.”  (WIN)

Israeli minister reveals covert contacts with Saudi Arabia

An Israeli cabinet minister said on Sunday that Israel has had covert contacts with Saudi Arabia amid common concerns over Iran, a first disclosure by a senior Israeli official of such contacts.

Both Saudi Arabia and Israel view arch-foe Iran as a main threat to the Middle East and increased tension between Tehran and Riyadh has fuelled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together.

Saudi Arabia maintains that any relations with Israel hinge on Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

In an interview on Army Radio, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz did not characterise the contacts or give details when asked why Israel was hiding its ties with Saudi Arabia.

He replied: “We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries, and usually (we are) the party that is not ashamed.

“It’s the other side that is interested in keeping the ties quiet. With us, usually, there is no problem, but we respect the other side’s wish, when ties are developing, whether it’s with Saudi Arabia or with other Arab countries or other Muslim countries, and there is much more … (but) we keep it secret.”

Last week, the Israeli military chief, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, told an Arabic language online newspaper that Israel was ready to share “intelligence information” with Saudi Arabia, saying their countries had a common interest in standing up to Iran.

Saudi Arabia has ratcheted up pressure on Iran, accusing Tehran of trying to expand its influence in Arab countries, often through proxies including the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah group.

In answering what Israel could gain from contacts with Saudi Arabia, Steinitz said:

“The contacts with the moderate Arab world, including with Saudi Arabia, help us to stop Iran. When we fought to get a better nuclear deal with Iran, with only partial success, there was some help from moderate Arab countries vis-à-vis the United States and the Western powers to assist us in this matter and even today, when we press the world powers not to agree to the establishment of an Iranian military base in Syria on our northern border, the Sunni Arab world is helping us.”   (Jerusalem Post)

IDF soldier injured as patrol comes under fire on Egypt border

An Israeli soldier was lightly injured when an army vehicle traveling along the border with Egypt came under fire early Monday morning, the army said.

The soldier was taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment.

The IDF suspects that the gunfire was “spillover” from internal fighting between Egyptian forces and a Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate, but was investigating whether it may have been a deliberate attack, the army said.

Sinai borders Israel and also the Gaza Strip for a few kilometers at the northern end of the restive peninsula. Islamic State-affiliated gunmen attack Egyptian security forces, and vice versa, there on a regular basis.

In 2013, a 400-kilometer (245-mile) Israel-Egypt border fence was completed at an estimated cost of NIS 1.6 billion ($400 million), one of the largest construction projects in Israel’s history.

The peninsula has seen rising tensions, rampant gunfights and terror attacks as the Egyptian army battles both insurgent jihadist groups and criminal smugglers.

In February this year, an Islamic State-affiliated terror group claimed an attack that saw four rockets fired at the Red Sea resort city of Eilat in southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula.

The Islamic State Sinai Province said in a statement posted online, “A military squad fired a number of Grad rockets at communities of Jewish usurpers in the town of Eilat.”

Sinai Province was set up in 2011, ostensibly to attack Israel by firing rockets across the 240-kilometer (149-mile) border or sabotaging a gas pipeline that runs between Egypt and Israel.

But most of the fighting, by far, has been with Egyptian government forces, and attacks on Israel have been relatively rare.

Jihadists have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen since the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 unleashed a bloody crackdown on his supporters.

In 2011, assailants who came from the Sinai killed eight Israelis in a triple ambush north of Eilat. Israeli forces in pursuit killed seven attackers and five Egyptian police.

In 2013, four jihadists were killed by an Egyptian airstrike as they were about to fire a rocket at Israel, according to the Egyptian military.

And in 2014, two patrolling Israeli soldiers were wounded by unidentified men who fired an anti-tank weapon from the Sinai during an attempted drug-smuggling operation, according to the Israeli military.  (the Times of Israel)

Mexico says it will henceforth vote with Israel in international bodies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a message of gratitude to Mexico following its announcement that it would not vote against the Jewish state in upcoming votes at the United Nations.

“Thank you President of Mexico @EPN and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Videgaray for refusing to go along with one sided anti-Israel resolutions at the UN. Deeply value your friendship,” Netanyahu tweeted last week. The tweet included emojis of the Israeli and Mexican flags. EPN stands for Enrique Pena Neito, Mexico’s president.

Mexico reportedly has announced that it will change its voting strategy at the UN and other international bodies by putting a stop to votes in favor of Palestinian resolutions, reported the UnitedWithIsrael website last Wednesday.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Figari contacted Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Yoni Pelad and told him of the shift in strategy for upcoming voting related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported.

The declaration was made two months after Netanyahu visited Mexico during a trip to Latin America that also included Argentina and Colombia.

In mid-September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit countries in Latin America. He met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico City and signed several agreements that bolster the ties and cooperation between the two countries.

The relationship between the nations had been strained earlier this year by a tweet in which Netanyahu seemed to praise US President Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall on the Mexican border. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin later issued a statement apologizing for any misunderstanding.

In October, Mexico’s former UNESCO ambassador, who was fired last year for walking out of a vote on an anti-Israel resolution effectively denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem, was honored in Los Angeles. Andres Roemer received the Guardian of Truth and History Award from StandWithUs during a ceremony held Friday in Los Angeles, reported the Milenio news website.          (the Times of Israel)

Filmed crossing into Israel with sick kid, mother says all Syrians want to come

In unprecedented footage, the IDF allowed an Israeli TV crew to film it opening the border gates to Syria, and allowing in a group of mothers and their children, who were then transported to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment.

The footage, broadcast on Sunday night by Hadashot News (formerly Channel 2), also included interviews with several of the Syrian mothers, who expressed profound appreciation to Israel for the medical assistance.

Israel, which also maintains a field hospital on the border and has sent humanitarian aid to Syria, has treated 3,000 Syrians since it began offering medical assistance in the course of the civil war across the border, of whom almost 1,000 were children with chronic conditions. “The rationale” behind the outreach “is clear,” the report noted: “A humanitarian imperative alongside a security need. Someone whose family or friend is given medical treatment in Israel will presumably change his attitude to the enemy.”

“It has become unremarkable” for Syrian civilians to come to Israel for treatment,” one mother told the TV interviewer. “Everyone wants to come here. Adults too; not just the children.”

None of the faces of the Syrians were shown in the report, since the mothers and children will return to Syria when doing so is medically possible, and could face deadly repercussions if their treatment in Israel were to become known.

The TV report said 21 mothers and 23 children crossed the border on the recent night when the camera crew was allowed to film, and that the cases for treatment were selected by doctors in Syria. Several of the children were suffering with shrapnel wounds. One had severe asthma, for which his mother said no effective treatment was available in Syria.

Syrian Mothers

Syrian mothers and children board a coach en route to an Israeli hospital

The footage included tense minutes when the entry to Israel was being coordinated across the fence. The Syrian civilians were then shown walking across the border — carefully watched by armed IDF soldiers — then boarding a coach, with an accompanying ambulance, en route to Ziv Hospital in the northern Israeli town of Safed. The mothers wore headscarves and long coats; many of the children wore jeans.

“This must be very strange for them,” an IDF officer named Gil Giladi said at the border. “They’re dealing with ‘the enemy.’”

Speaking to the TV reporter, one Syrian mother said that, in the past, “Israel was thought of as the enemy… Now that you are helping us, most [on the Syrian side of the Golan] are with you. They love Israel. They see the true face… the reality.”

So who do they think of as “the enemy now?” the reporter asked.

“All of them: Islamic State, Hezbollah, Bashar [Assad]. They’re all the same,” answered one of the mothers.

No specifics were presented on where exactly in Syria the patients had come from, but one of the mothers said that the area where she lives is controlled by the Islamic State terrorist group, and that if any woman in that area leaves home with her head uncovered, she faces death.  “They execute people next to the mosque,” she said.

Footage in Ziv hospital showed an Israeli medical clown entertaining the children, as Sergei Kotyakov, a senior army officer in the so-called “IDF Operation Good Neighbor” initiative, described how the Syrians, initially wary, gradually come to realize “that nobody is going to harm them here. Quite the reverse. We’re here to help and provide assistance…. Then they start to talk, and to describe what they’ve been going through.”

The report included clips of the Syrian children in the hospital drawing paintings, some of which featured Israeli flags.

Syrian children paint at Ziv hospital in Safed, where they are receiving medical treatment, November 2017 (Hadashot TV screenshot)

“I wish we could stay here for good,” said another of the interviewees. If the border to Israel was open, “I’d be the first to cross,” she said.

How many Syrians would follow? the reporter wondered. “Would it be millions?”

“All of Syria would follow me,” she replied. “All the civilians left in Syria would come.”  (the Times of Israel)

Science minister’s mission to make Israelis the future leaders of humanity

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis found an incredibly receptive audience at Limmud FSU, an international Jewish educational organization for Russian-Jewish youth, in Oakland, California on November 18.

He spoke about Israel being a powerhouse of science, technology and innovation, positing two reasons for this: The first, he accredited to the “brilliant minds through the years,” and then asked the audience to guess the second reason.

“Immigration from the former Soviet Union,” a woman offered up.

“Exactly,” Akunis said, noting that in the late 1980s and early 1990s 1.2 million Jews from the former Soviet Union made aliya. This, he said, was a great boost to the sciences and is reflected today in the success in the hi-tech spheres and in the innovations in math, science and chemistry.

“Israel is one big Silicon Valley,” Akunis said, “and I’m very proud that it reflects the positive aspects of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The truth is we are a powerhouse of innovation and of start-ups.”

Akunis has served as the Science and Technology Minister for two years, and prior to that was the deputy minister of environmental protection in the Prime Minister’s Office. His dreams are big and he makes no apologies for them.

“Israel must lead the future of humanity,” he said. “We must make the next generation of Israelis – and that includes Jews, Arabs and Druse – part of the world of tomorrow.”

As such, Akunis has big plans that he either wishes to implement or has already implemented.

He spoke of one of the most important industries of the future, cybersecurity, and how there are currently close to 200 start-ups in Israel solely focused on it. “Per capita, that’s the largest number of [these start-ups] in the world,” he said.

The need for cybersecurity is crucial, Akunis said, because the threats against Israel are “not only missiles and bombs and terrorists with knives but also cyber-attacks.” He added that in 2012 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established a national cybersecurity headquarters in the country.

In its efforts to ensure that the next generation of Israelis are at the forefront of science and technology innovation, Akunis spoke of how the ministry is spending its half-a-billion-shekel budget on various initiatives.

One of those is the “science basket”, a pilot program that transfers funds to local municipalities and encourages them to invest in programming in the science and technology fields that are most relevant to their constituents.

Another project Akunis has implemented is science summer camps for children, which cost the families only 80 shekels per week. “They were a huge success last summer,” Akunis said, “and [this year] we hope to bring in even more students.”

He is also focused on ensuring that Israel produces more female scientists and is implementing a science and technology program for girls in high school.

Another goal of his is to increase international cooperation between Israel and other countries around the world, touting memorandums of understanding that have been signed with Russia, China, South Korea, Vietnam, the US, the Czech Republic and Australia.

Speaking of his visit to Beijing in December 2015, when he met Science Minister Wan Gang, Akunis said: “[Gang] said to me, ‘We want to hear from you how to be a hi-tech nation.’”

The importance of cooperation and collaboration with other countries is not only good for research and for the economy, Akunis said. “When we need to decide about issues in the UN, for example, they will see the beautiful face of Israel and not what they think they know about Israel via the media.”

He added that with the exception of Iran and North Korea, everyone around the world wants to cooperate with Israel when it comes to science and technology. And that’s a good thing, he said, “because even [in the US] you hear a lot of nonsense about Israel – about democracy, about the stability of the government, and our attitude to our neighbors. Our attitude is very good. We want to talk to them, we want to collaborate with them. We want them to be part of the new world.”   (Jerusalem Post)

It’s a new world — where Israel shares intelligence with the Saudis

By Yonah Jeremy Bob                        The Jerusalem Post


You could sense mouths dropping across the world on Thursday.

Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the head of the Israeli Army, had just said publicly in an interview with a Saudi journalist that he is ready to share (read: probably already has shared) intelligence with Saudi Arabia.

It is shocking, that a country which not that long ago was a mortal enemy of Israel – and still in many conversations, such as regarding the Palestinians, is ready to condemn Israel – could be on the receiving end of some of the Mossad’s and the IDF’s greatest secrets.

Maybe we are all still sleeping and dreaming? No, it is very real. And according to two top intelligence and national security experts, Ram Ben-Barak and Yaakov Amidror, this bombshell is far more a confirmation of a clear and continuous trend than might appear to the untrained eye.

Ben-Barak is the former deputy chief of the Mossad and the former director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry.

Amidror is a former national security adviser, major-general, and is currently at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.

Ben-Barak said Eisenkot’s announcement was “not a surprise. The Saudis are struggling against terror, Islamic extremism and Iran’s extending itself throughout the region. This worries us and them. When you have unity of enough interests, it is natural to work together – more on a partnering basis than just on one isolated interest.”

He said, “If we can stop someone or if we can give intelligence to them to stop [a common adversary]” and “also collect intelligence and work together on bigger things related to the Shi’ites and to processes related to Judea and Samaria,” these are all worthwhile endeavors.

Asked about reciprocation, the former deputy Mossad chief said, “Cooperation is always a two-way street,” explaining that Eisenkot’s statement should be taken to mean Israel is “ready to both give and receive. This is how it works with all intelligence organizations.”

Of course, this still leaves open what the intelligence-sharing parameters will be. Even with its closest allies, a country usually does not share every piece of intelligence.

Ben-Barak said that the “system for setting parameters of sharing is very organized and exact about what can be shared and how it can be shared.

It is not at the discretion of a lower- level agent. There are decisions about what is important and what is not. When information is shared it relates to something happening,” and to a goal that the state focuses on achieving.

In terms of how information is shared, he said that “sensitive information is usually given over orally,” as opposed to large amounts of less-sensitive intelligence that the US and Israel share on an automated, electronic basis. Still, Ben-Barak did not think that one could assume that the new level of publicly-endorsed intelligence cooperation meant that Israel would necessarily, for example, get the green light from the Saudis to fly through their airspace to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

He did not discount such a possibility if “relations get warmer over time,” but said that overflights were a “very advanced level” of cooperation.

Amidror echoed some similar messages, but also emphasized key points of his own.

He said, what was important about the event was not so much that Eisenkot said he was ready to share intelligence with the Saudis, but more importantly that Saudi Arabia had permitted or even sent one of its journalists to publicly travel to Tel Aviv to meet with the current IDF chief.

The former National Security Council chief said Saudis had met with other former top Israeli officials like Amos Yadlin, Dore Gold and himself (he met with former head of Saudi intelligence Turki bin-Faisal al-Saud in Washington, DC, last year), but not with current ones, at least in public. “Someone in Saudi Arabia understands that relations with Israel need to change… they have crossed the Rubicon,” he said.

He added that, “The IDF has never had a problem with giving intelligence to actors [who] are fighting with Iran or ISIS. Any actor in the world who comes to fight Iran and says I need something to fight them,” Israel would be likely to cooperate “to fight such a common enemy.”

Amidror agreed that Israel giving intelligence to the Saudis does not mean it has gotten something back, like the right to fly through Saudi airspace toward Iran. But he went even further, saying that “there could be a condition of exchanging intelligence, but not necessarily.”

Meaning, Israel helping another country fight Iran is its own reward for Israeli interests, possibly even without immediate reciprocity.

Neither Ben-Barak nor Amidror said that Eisenkot’s statement was directly connected to the current proxy conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia over Lebanon, although the timing coincided closely with the conflict over former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri.

Iran and the Saudis are putting pressure on Hariri to either officially resign as prime minister (the Saudis) or remain in office to help legitimize Hezbollah (Iran).

Amidror said Hezbollah had used Hariri to make Lebanon “appear to be a normal state when really there is an organization there called Hezbollah without whom you can do nothing.”

He said Hariri’s move “had shown there is not really a state of Lebanon separate from Hezbollah… they have lost their camouflage.”

This was a view which Israel had long expressed and which, he said, the Saudis and Hariri’s move had now proven to be correct.

He added with some flare that if Hariri goes back to Lebanon, “he should have good life insurance.”

Likewise, Ben-Barak said he thought that Hariri faced “a serious threat” from Iran and Hezbollah and that the Saudis had not held him hostage, even if “there was Saudi pressure on him to do what he did.”

He said, “Hezbollah wants to be a legitimate part of the political process in Lebanon. In fact, Hariri’s father [Rafik Hariri, one of Lebanon’s previous prime ministers] disturbed them, and now the son has revealed their true selves – that they are not part of Lebanon. It is very embarrassing” for Hezbollah.

Ben-Barak was also unsure whether Hariri would really come back to Lebanon.

He said that the Saudis’ actions in the affair show “they are ready for conflict and not [for] compromise” with Iran.