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6th November – Latest News in Israel

Inside a Jerusalem hospital during the stabbing attacks

During the recent wave of terror attacks, a news crew joined Dr. Ofer Merin, Deputy Director General and Director of Trauma Services at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital, and the staff of its Trauma Unit for 96 hours.

They witnessed victims being brought in,  staff treating the wounded and supporting the families of the wounded.

Visiting Israel: 10 things you must do in Tel Aviv


US: Apology from PM’s media chief for calling Obama anti-Semite was ‘warranted’

An apology by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new media adviser for calling President Barack Obama anti-Semitic was “warranted,” the White House said Thursday. A spokesman stopped short, however, of explicitly accepting the apology or of condemning Netanyahu’s controversial decision to appoint Ran Baratz to the powerful position.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said White House officials “have seen the reports about this individual’s previous comments about US officials, and also seen the reports about his apology. In this case it is readily apparent that that apology was warranted.”

He added that “obviously the decisions that Prime Minister Netanyahu has to make about who will serve his government and represent him and his country are decisions that he rightfully will make on his own.”

Later in the same press briefing Thursday, Earnest said the incident would not harm US-Israel relations.

Former university lecturer Baratz, 42, was tapped Wednesday by Netanyahu as his new media adviser and head of public diplomacy and media in the PMO. But a slew of his controversial comments then quickly came to light. These included Facebook posts in which he said Obama’s foreign policy vis-a-vis Iran and Israel amounted to “modern anti-Semitism,” and mocked numerous other leading figures including Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest speaking to reporters, October 7, 2015. (Screen capture/White House video)

White House spokesman Josh Earnest speaking to reporters, October 7, 2015. (Screen capture/White House video)

Netanyahu, who said he was unaware of Baratz’s comments when he made the appointment, distanced himself from his incoming adviser earlier Thursday, calling the remarks “inappropriate,” and insisting they “do not reflect my positions or the policy of this government.”

“I have just read Dr. Ran Baratz’s posts on the Internet, including those relating to the president of the state of Israel, the president of the United States and other public figures in Israel and the United States,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Those posts are totally unacceptable and in no way reflect my positions or the policies of the government of Israel. Dr. Baratz has apologized and has asked to meet me to clarify the matter following my return to Israel.”

That statement indicated that Netanyahu would not take Baratz with him to the US this weekend, as he had reportedly been planning to do, and appeared to leave him room to cancel the appointment if necessary. Opposition leaders and some of his own Likud party ministers have advised him to do so.

Netanyahu is set to meet Obama in Washington on Monday for the first time in a year, in what is intended to be a meeting aimed at healing relations after the bruising public row between the prime minister and the president over the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran. Baratz’s comments about Obama already seem to have cast a shadow over the visit.

Baratz apologized for his comments Thursday, saying he regretted posting “the hurtful things that I published online in relation to the president, the US president and other public officials.”

“I’m sorry that I didn’t inform the Prime Minister in advance about them. These postings were written hastily and sometimes humorously, in a manner appropriate for a private person writing on the Internet,” he said. He said it was “clear” he would have to behave differently in his official role, and that he would try to clarify things with Netanyahu.

In March, hours after Netanyahu addressed the US Congress regarding the dangers of signing a nuclear deal with Iran, Baratz took to Facebook to criticize Obama’s policies.

“Allow me to diverge from my usual moderate ways and be a bit blunt,” Baratz wrote on March 3. “Obama’s response to Netanyahu’s speech – this is what modern anti-Semitism looks like in Western liberal countries. And it is of course accompanied by a lot of tolerance and understanding for Islamic anti-Semitism; so much tolerance and understanding that they’ll even give them [an atomic bomb].”

Baratz had taken aim at Kerry on October 18, 2014, after Kerry linked the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the rise of the Islamic State terror group, portraying a speech by the secretary as comical.

“I went to see Kerry’s speech, where he linked Israel and the Islamic State, and it was pretty hilarious, so I summed it up for you: After his term as secretary of state, Kerry can look forward to a flourishing career in one of the comedy clubs in Kansas City [where a gunman shot and killed three people at Jewish sites in April 2014], Mosul or the Holot detention facility,” where Israel confines many of the African migrants who have entered the country on recent years, Baratz wrote.

“This is the time, then,” Baratz also wrote, “to wish the secretary of state success and count down two years on the calendar with the hope that someone in the State Department will then wake up and begin to see the world through the eyes of a man with a mental age above 12.”

Last week, Baratz mocked Rivlin for flying back to Israel from the Czech Republic in economy class. “I think it says a lot that the president flies in economy class, goes around the plane and shakes hands with everyone,” Baratz wrote. “In particular it says that he’s such a marginal figure that there’s no concern for his life.”

He went on to suggest sending Rivlin over the Syrian border on a paraglider, a journey made by an Israeli Arab recently in a quest to join the Islamic State group.

Baratz has also posted comments deriding Defense Minister Ya’alon as uninspired and monotonous.

Baratz’s appointment still has to be approved by the cabinet.

Netanyahu in August appointed another Obama critic, Likud colleague Danny Danon, as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations. Danon is an avid supporter of Israel’s West Bank settlements and an equally fervent opponent of the establishment of a Palestinian state. In 2012 he said Obama has “not been a friend of Israel,” and his policies have been “catastrophic.” He has also slammed the Obama administration for trying to force Israeli “capitulation” on the Palestinian issue.                      (The Times of Israel)

Jerusalem police remove roadblocks in some Arab neighborhoods

Roadblocks will be removed from the main entrances to several east Jerusalem neighborhoods where violence occurred, police announced on Wednesday, following a relative restoration of security in the capital.

Removal of the barriers is aimed at freeing up traffic in the neighborhoods, in an effort to “enable the greater public to get back to their regular and safe daily routines,” police said, citing “the achievement of a certain amount of stability.”

The most recent terrorist attack in the capital took place on Friday at the Ammunition Hill light rail stop, when an Arab man stabbed a Jewish man before being shot dead by police. A second Jewish man was accidentally shot in the leg by police in the ensuing crossfire.

The victims are now in satisfactory or good condition.

Prior to Friday’s attack, more than 5,000 deployed Border Police officers – aided by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF – had succeeded in preventing any serious attacks in the city for nearly two weeks.

Numerous roadblocks and checkpoints were erected last month in neighborhoods known to harbor assailants during the height of a wave of terrorism that claimed several Jewish lives in the city, and left more than a dozen Israelis seriously wounded.

A temporary 5-meter-high concrete wall placed at the entrance of Jebl Mukaber in the capital’s southeast, where several terrorists who carried out attacks lived, spurred debate internationally and locally over whether the city should be permanently divided.

However, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat have long been resolute that the “united model” for the capital must remain in place.

Roadblocks in Wadi Joz and Sheikh Jarrah in the city’s northeast have already been removed, while those in Abu Tor and Silwan in the southeast are in the process of being taken down, police said.

Additionally, the roadblocks in Isawiya and Jebl Mukaber will be eased, the force said.

Meanwhile, police emphasized that heightened security and “all available measures against terrorist perpetrators and those who break the law” will remain in effect.   (Jerusalem Post)

Terrorist killed after attempting to stab IDF soldier at Gush Etzion Junction

A Palestinian man who pulled out a knife and attempted to stab a soldier at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank was shot dead by the army on Thursday.

Soldiers from the Shimshon Battalion, a part of the Kfir Infantry Brigade, opened fire after seeing the attacker lunge forward with a knife.

No soldiers were hurt in the incident.

The soldier who shot the terrorist and thwarted the attack, referred to as “T” by the army, described the incident: “While we were guarding the Gush Etzion junction, we noticed a suspect. We called on him to come across the street to where we were. When he arrived, he pulled out a knife to stab a friend that was with me. At that moment, I cocked my weapon and shot him.”

T, the IDF soldier who thwarted a terror attack at Gush Etzion Junction on Thursday

T said that during a previous attempted stabbing attack last week, he shot two other terrorists.

In light of the continuous spate of Palestinian knife attacks on Israelis in the Gush Etzion junction area, the IDF doubled the number of units securing the area last week.

Military sources said that the move is part of a wider effort by the Judea and Samaria Division and Central Command to protect civilians from knife terrorism plaguing the Gush Etzion junction very frequently in recent weeks.

“We are preparing for this wave of terrorism to become prolonged, and we are preparing for the potential of an escalation,” one of the sources said. “We are adjusting the way we activate forces to deal with knife attacks.”

Col. Roman Gofman, commander of the IDF’s Gush Etzion Brigade, issued instructions to step up patrols around a gas station in the area, and at other spots prone to knife attacks.

Concrete blocks have been set up around bus stops and hitchhiking posts, and cameras, which dot the area, help the IDF investigate past incidents and evaluate the security situation.

The Gush junction is an area where Jews and Palestinians frequently interact, making it a terrorism hot spot in the West Bank.            ( Jerusalem Post)

Majority of Israeli Jews back killing terrorists on the spot

Every Palestinian who has perpetrated a terror attack against Jews should be killed on the spot, even if he has been apprehended and no longer poses a threat, a majority of Israeli Jews believe, according to the monthly Peace Index poll released Thursday.

Asked to what extent respondents agree with that viewpoint, one third said they strongly agreed, 19.7 percent moderately agreed, 17.1% moderately disagreed, 26.6% totally disagreed, and 3.5% did not know or declined to respond.

But only 4.4% of Jewish respondents said they owned a personal weapon that could be used to kill terrorists.

The poll, sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, was conducted last Wednesday and Thursday amid headlines of stabbings in Israeli cities. The Midgam Research institute polled 600 respondents who constitute a representative sample of the adult Israeli population.

The findings of the poll indicate that Israeli Jews favor taking more severe action against terrorists. Close to 80% backed destroying the family home of a Palestinian who murdered Jews for nationalistic reasons but only half as much said they support destroying the home of a Jew who murdered Palestinians.

More than 70% said punishments given by Israeli courts to Palestinian terrorists were too light but only half as much said sentences given to Jews who attacked Palestinians were too light.

Asked if the current terror wave had changed their daily behavior, 64% of Israeli Jews reported that they have not changed their daily habits, such as taking public transportation and altering shopping routines, due to the security situation. But 57% said they feared that they of someone important to them would be harmed in an attack.

By contrast, the Arab public expressed greater fear. Some 78% answered that they were apprehensive about being harmed and a majority (53%) did report a change in their daily habits.

Despite the terror wave, more than half of Jewish respondents said they favor conducting diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians. But only 4.4% strongly believe such talks could lead to peace in the coming years and only 18.8% moderately believe.

Asked what grade institutions should be given for how they have dealt with the terror wave, 93% of Jewish Israelis gave a good grade to the IDF, 84.5% gave a good grade to the state police,  71% to the Shin Bet security service, and less than 40% said they would give high marks to the government.

Among Arab Israelis, none of the institutions got good grades. Only 31.3% gave good grades to t IDF, 27.7% to the police, 15.3% to the Shin-Bet, and just 23.9% said they would give high marks to the government.

More than half of Jewish respondents (58%) consider that in the current state of affairs, Jews should not be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount.

When asked, “Is Netanyahu’s policy toward the conflict with the Arab world over the question of prayer on the Temple Mount good or poor from Israel’s standpoint?” 49% of Jewish Israelis and 65.5% of Arab Israelis responded that it is very poor or moderately poor.

The maximum margin of error for the poll is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.                      (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian charged with diverting Gaza rehabilitation materials to Hamas terrorists

A Gazan has been indicted for diverting building materials meant for reconstruction in the Strip directly to Hamas’s armed wing, the Shin Bet said on Wednesday.

The suspect, named by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) as 36-year-old Tamer Ahmed Muhammad Barim of Bani Suheila, was arrested trying to enter Israel at the Erez crossing on the northern Gaza border on August 31. His arrest remained under a gag order until Wednesday.

A Shin Bet spokesman said the agency did not clear the arrest for publication until Wednesday because there were additional “investigative steps” necessary for the case that required it be kept confidential.

The case was reported more than a month after Barim was indicted in the Beersheba District Court on security charges including assisting a terrorist organization.

The spokesman added that Barim “knew why he was being arrested” and that the investigation was in process for some time before the arrest. The Shin Bet would not reveal how many times Barim made these shipments to the Gaza Strip or if he has any suspected accomplices in Israel.

The Shin Bet said that Barim managed to circumvent UN inspectors who supervise imports to the Strip, allowing him to divert hundreds of tons of building materials provided by foreign donors for the rehabilitation of civilian infrastructure damaged during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

On Wednesday, the Shin Bet said the case – which was investigated in collaboration with the Southern District of the Israel Police – represents “further testimony of how Hamas exploits donor funds meant for the rehabilitation and development of the civilian infrastructure in the Strip for the purposes of terrorism.”                      (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Arab woman ‘sent by Gazan terror group to spy on Israel, carry out attacks’

Security forces arrested a 40-year-old Israeli-Arab woman in October at the Erez Border Crossing between Gaza and Israel and charged her on Thursday with entering Israel from Gaza, to carry out terrorist attacks on behalf of a jihadist organization.

The woman, Nasrin Hassan Abdullah Hassan, is married to a Gazan resident, and had been living in the Strip in recent years.

She was arrested last month, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) domestic intelligence agency said on Thursday, after trying to cross into Israel.

During questioning, “it emerged that in October 2013 she was recruited by the Katim Al-Muhajadin (Holy Warriors Battalions) organization, which has carried out a number of terror attacks against Israeli targets in recent years, including rocket fire at Israel,” the Shin Bet said.

“It also emerged that she was recruited to carry out terrorist attacks within Israel, due to her being an Israeli citizen with freedom of access within Israel, and to and from the country,” the Shin Bet added.

During two previous stays in Israel, in January and July 2014, she allegedly received instructions from the Gazan jihadist organization to gather intelligence on Israeli government buildings and infrastructure sites in Haifa, including Haifa port, a train station in the northern city, an Interior Ministry branch, a court house, a synagogue, and security arrangements at these sites.

“Upon her return to the Gaza Strip, she passed on this information to the terror organization, clearly knowing that it will be used to carry out terrorist activities,” the Shin Bet stated.

Hassan’s mission did not end with spying for terrorists, according to the Shin Bet. She also “agreed to carry out attacks in Israel for the organization, and to that end, she received training in how to prepare an explosive device,” the intelligence service added.

In line with instructions from her handlers, Nasrin attempted – and failed – to recruit Israeli Arab citizens for attack missions.

“The activities by this Israeli civilian are severe. She chose to join a terror organization in the Gaza Strip, assist it in its efforts to carry out attacks in Israel, and made cynical use of her Israeli citizenship,” the Shin Bet said.

The Southern District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed an indictment with the Beersheba District Court against the mother of seven for spying on Israel.

The woman joined the terror group for payment, according to the charge sheet, and allegedly used her smart phone to take pictures of strategic Israeli installations in Haifa (Jerusalem Post).

Masked assailant reportedly stabs off-duty Hatzolah worker in New York

A masked assailant on Tuesday reportedly stabbed an off-duty worker for the Hatzolah emergency medical service organization in Brooklyn, New York, according to local media.

Local NBC affiliate 4 New York news reported that police and fellow Hatzolah volunteers said authorities were searching for the suspect who attacked and seriously wounded David Katz, a volunteer for the EMS group that mostly serves Jewish communities.

Katz was reportedly not wearing a Hatzolah uniform at the time of the attack, however he was in possession of a radio from which he managed to call for help.

Following the incident in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, Katz was evacuated to a hospital and was listed in stable condition.

According to local reports, police were not investigating the attack as a hate crime                                (Jerusalem Post)

MK Oren labels EU products at supermarket in protest over anticipated guidelines

Kulanu MK Michael Oren went to a supermarket on Emek Refaim Street in the capital’s German Colony neighborhood and placed blue EU stickers on crackers, cookies and beer from Spain, France and Germany to protest the pending publication of guidelines to enable EU member states to place consumer labels on exports from east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

“The EU decision to label Israeli products is anti-Semitic,” Oren said. “There are dozens of border disputes and ‘occupations’ in the world but the EU decided to single out Israel. They are not labeling products from China, India or Turkey – only Israel.”

Oren complained that the decision completely ignored the fact that six Israeli prime ministers tried to negotiate a two-state solution but the PLO rejected their offers. He said the EU had not taken into account that the Palestinian Authority is refusing to negotiate with Israel and is actively inciting to commit terrorist attacks against Jews.

The former ambassador to the US questioned why the EU would take steps that could result in hundreds of Palestinians losing their jobs. But he said the oddest decision was to label products from the Golan Heights at a time when there is no functioning Syrian government with which Israel could negotiate a peace agreement.

“Do they want us to give the Golan to ISIS?” Oren asked.

“Israeli consumers need to know that when they buy European products, they are supporting the EU’s anti-Semitic policies.”

Oren, a historian, noted that European anti-Semitism predates Christianity. European labeling of Jewish products in the past led to dark days for Europe, he said.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid will travel to Berlin on Thursday to meet with German officials and protest the marking of Israeli products, which he called a de facto boycott. Lapid will speak at an event in which legislators from 16 countries will meet to discuss how to better support Israel in their local parliaments.

The event is organized by the Israel Allies Foundation.

EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen defended the decision on Tuesday, saying the EU does not recognize areas outside the pre-1967 lines as part of Israel, so products exported to Europe from there cannot be labeled Israeli.                                                                                            (Jerusalem Post)

Abbas demands Temple Mount status quo be restored to 1999

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that Israel must restore the status quo that prevailed on the Temple Mount before the year 2000.

Abbas claimed that Israel was trying to alter the status quo at the holy site. “We have affirmed more than once to the relevant parties that what Israel is seeking to implement now [on the Temple Mount] is inaccurate, incorrect and a distortion of the reality,” Abbas said at a PLO Executive Committee meeting in Ramallah.

“We are currently working with the brothers in Jordan in order to restore the situation that prevailed before 2000 so that we could protect our holy sites from continued assaults by settlers.”

Abbas accused Israel of pursuing “assaults” on Palestinians and the Aksa Mosque. He said that settlers must stay away from villages, cities and lands of Palestinians.

Abbas repeated his appeal for providing international protection for the Palestinians. He said that during his recent trip to the Netherlands, he presented the International Criminal Court with files about Israeli “assaults” and “summary executions.”

Following the meeting, the PLO Executive Committee issued a statement in which it endorsed recommendations by a special committee to “define security, political and economic ties” between the Palestinians and Israel. It was not clear whether the committee had in fact suspended all ties with Israel.

The PLO leaders warned Israel against pursuing “provocations and incursions against the Aksa Mosque and its compound.”

They accused Israel of seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount.

The PLO committee called for respecting the sanctity of the entire compound, “with all its 144 dunams [14.4 hectares],” as a holy site for Muslims. It also strongly denounced Israel’s recent security measures in east Jerusalem and Hebron following the spate of terrorist attacks against civilians and soldiers.                     (Jerusalem Post)

Knesset approves minimum jail time for rock throwing

The Knesset on Monday enacted minimum prison terms for rock-throwing attacks against vehicles or pedestrians.

In a vote of 51 to 17, lawmakers approved a series of amendments to Israel’s Criminal Law, raising the minimum prison sentence for rock throwing to three years. Among the law’s provisions, parents of a minor imprisoned for rock throwing will now be denied state benefits for the minor for the period of the incarceration.

The law was passed as a “temporary provision” that must be renewed by the Knesset in three years’ time.

“Setting minimum sentences is an extraordinary step,” the bill’s own explanatory preface says. “But the uniqueness of the [rock-throwing] phenomenon and its scale, which have expanded of late, justify as an extraordinary measure the establishment of minimum punishments in this case as a temporary provision,” it states.

The minimum sentences are meant “to create deterrence,” said Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky, chair of the Knesset’s Constitution Law and Justice Committee.

“Throwing a stone is attempted murder, and it is appropriate that it has a minimum sentence,” he said, railing against the assumption of ‘It’s just a rock.’”

The law also strips parents of a minor imprisoned for rock throwing of welfare grants and other benefits linked to the minor for the duration of the incarceration.

The law was criticized by Arab lawmakers.

“You can’t quench a fire with diesel fuel,” Joint (Arab) List MK Jamal Zahalka said. “This law is fuel on the fire.”

Zahalka also railed against the cancellation of some benefits for the parents of imprisoned minors. “There is no logic to punishing a father whose son threw a stone and didn’t hit anything, while the father of a child who stabs his friend in school goes unpunished.”

The law gives judges discretion to cancel the minimum sentence in “extraordinary circumstances.”                      (the Times of Israel)

IAI’s GroundPoint advanced target location system ready for export

Israel Aerospace Industries is offering foreign buyers an advanced surface target location system, a version of which the IDF’s Combat Intelligence Collection units use around the clock on Israel’s borders.

IAI said its geo-locating targeting system, GroundPoint, tracks enemy locations up to 20 kilometers away, and transmits their precise coordinates for GPS-guided precision strikes.

The IDF’s Combat Intelligence Collection units, which carry out reconnaissance and surveillance on the borders with Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, have been operating a version of the system called “Matan.”

Matan, like its export counterpart, acquires targets far beyond borders, and broadcasts their precise coordinates to other military units.

In the IDF, data flows from Matan through the Tamnun [Octopus] command and control system, and then on to platforms that can use the information to open fire.

Tamnun is a mobile device that is carried by a soldier in a backpack. Its introduction had led to the creation of a new combat field role.

The relatively recent technology means that tanks, artillery units or the air force can receive coordinates and fire on them very quickly.

During peacetime, Military Intelligence will analyze and store the GPS coordinates of enemy targets.

“GroundPoint has already gained field experience achieving geo-location of targets with an accuracy of 2-3 meters in a range of up to 20 km.,” IAI said.

The system went on display last month at the 2015 Annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Meeting & Exposition in Washington.

Boaz Levi, IAI corporate vice president and general manager of the Systems, Missiles and Space Group, said, “Accurate geo-location of targets can now be achieved in the field and allows armies to engage targets immediately.”                      (Jerusalem Post)

Australia is looking at Israel’s incredible startup scene to see what they can learn

Australian Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy is currently touring Israel, trying to unearth secrets of the country’s “startup miracle”.

There is a lot to learn from. Israel has one of the world’s highest concentrations of startups in the world and is a global leader in research and development.

This World Bank chart shows the amount spent on research and development as a percentage of GDP. Israel is at 4%, around double the global average. The latest data for Australia showed a research spend of 2.4% of GDP.

Israeli research is so vaunted, that a study conducted by the city of Tel Aviv shows there are more than 298 “foreign research and development” centres in Israel, collectively employing more than 58,000 people.

On top of this, the more than 3000 Israeli startups employ almost 20,000 people. And the entire hi-tech industry employs 300,000 people. This is in a country with a population of just 8.4 million.

By comparison, a Price Waterhouse Coopers report found Australia had only 1500 startups, despite having nearly three times the population.

You can see the density of Israel’s startup scene in this map:


While there activity across the entire country, the highest concentration is in Tel Aviv. And as well as startups, the map also includes more than 62 accelerators, 40 co-working spaces, 60 “tech-community” spaces, and almost 70 investors in a country with just 8.4 million people.

The total number of startups is growing at almost 40% year-on-year for Tel Aviv, and 26% for Israel as a whole.

They’re also successful. Data from CBInsights shows a steady increase in the amount of big, venture capital-backed exits by Israeli companies.                      (The Times of Israel)

Israel reportedly seeking to acquire stealth version of F-15

Foreign media reports: As part of “compensation package” of military aid U.S. is set to offer Israel in wake of Iran nuclear deal, Israel wants to receive F-15SE Silent Eagle • Israeli officials decline to confirm reports.

Within the framework of talks over the “compensation package” of military aid the U.S. is set to offer Israel in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal, Israel has, according to foreign reports, asked to receive the stealth version of the F-15 fighter plane, the F-15SE Silent Eagle.

This request by Israel was reported by a number of foreign media outlets, including Flightglobal.com. Israeli officials declined to confirm the reports.

The F-15SE was meant to be Boeing’s answer to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter plane, but Boeing has as yet not found a buyer for it.

Israel has already ordered 33 F-35s and is set to receive its first two by the end of 2016.

The backbone of the current Israeli Air Force fleet consists of non-stealth F-15s and F-16s.                          (Israel Hayom)

In face of attacks, Israelis take stab at jokes

Humor? It’s a pretty common response to fear. Israelis, caught in the midst of a near-daily procession of attacks that have continued for more than a month, are always looking for a reason to laugh.

And so, as the spate of knife attacks and terrorist incidents puts the country on edge, a coterie of comedians — some professional, some not — are honing their gallows humor.

There are endless spoofs from local satirical shows, such as “Eretz Nehederet” (“A Wonderful Country”) and “Hazinor” (“The Pipeline”), featuring hapless security guards and goofy self-defense sendups.

One memorable clip from “Hazinor” shows a guy doing everything with his Magnum ice cream popsicle in hand — including playing piano, washing the dishes, running and shampooing his hair — spoofing on an Israeli border policewoman in Afula who helped neutralize a terrorist in the bus station without letting go of the half-eaten, chocolate-covered popsicle in her hand.

But it may be the lesser-known funny people posting videos on YouTube and Facebook who get even bigger laughs.

That was the aim of Or Paz and Naomi Rosin, two friends and sometime-comics who are gaining viewers every day with their look at a stabbing scenario.

“You can’t help but wonder, what if someone tried to stab you and you did this?” said Paz, an accounting student who produced his own video, “The Worst Accent in the World,” with his friend and fellow comic, Naomi Rosin.

“This” is a nonsensical bit of comedy that Paz put together with Rosin, in which his character, a knife-wielding Arab, is confronted by hisRosin’s Arabic-accented Hebrew-speaking Israeli, his intended victim, as she tries to convince him that she’s really an Arab.

“I love Arab food,” she tells him. “Like French toast?”

When he tells her to stab another Israeli in order to prove that she is really an Arab, that Israeli tells her that he’s an Arab as well.

Then the three end up eating plates of hummus together, until Rosin turns on both of them — utilizing a Russian accent this time — and stabs both, telling them that it’s revenge for Mother Russia.

“It’s nonsense but for real, because the situation is so crazy that people are acting insane,” she said.


The two wrote and filmed the video over the course of a week, said Paz. They filmed in a hidden alleyway in Tel Aviv, said Rosin, so that no one would see them with knives and assume the worst.

Then there’s the insider’s edition of the current situation from Shalom Shore, an Old City of Jerusalem resident who strung together a series of satirical multiple-choice questions for his “Have I Been Stabbed Yet” website.

“It’s an absurd idea,” said Shore, a blogger and copywriter. “It’s the things we have to come to terms with given the news we’re dealing with.”

For Shore, who lives just down the street from one of the attacks, the website is just a way to deal with an unreal situation.

“Do you live in Jerusalem,” is the first question. “Hell, no!” is the first option for an answer.

“I came up with the questions within about 15 minutes,” he said. His partner was app developer Dan Bystrisky.


So far, there have been 200+ visits to the site, and over 100 people filled out the survey. (Those are better stats than the ones achieved by his “Kill Me, I’m Jewish” T-shirts, which are offered for sale at the end of the survey. Only one of those have been sold so far, said Shore.)

There’s also Rogatka, a Jerusalem-based production house that suggested employing a ball of fire to combat attackers wielding knives.

“We were sitting in the studio on one of those crazy days,” said Shlomo Blass. “I had ordered a sandwich that came an hour late because the delivery person hadn’t shown up for work, because he was shot in some kind of demonstration. It just showed how crazy it all is.”

Two hours later, they had shot the video in a backyard using a smartphone and special effects from their studio to create the ball of a fire.

It was just for fun, said Blass, but even light hearted content can be powerful enough to get an idea across.

“We were making light of all these videos that we’ve all been exposed to lately, in which some 30-second clip will make you into some kind of Rambo who can protect you against a crazy attacker,” said Blass. “Those videos are just trying to help, but it shows you how absurd this whole situation is.”

He may have been referring to videos made by someone like Krav Maga Girl Lior Bitran, who shows viewers how to take down an attacker.

The 26-year-old karate black belt has been studying self defense since she was four years old, and then took on Krav Maga, an Israeli self defense system, when she went into the army.

She began teaching Krav Maga to civilians when she finished the army, offering courses for women’s self defense because she doesn’t want women to be “wet rags.”

“I want every woman to know how to defend herself,” she said.

Bitran turned to videos a month ago with her YouTube channel, Krav Maga Girl, just as the knifing attacks began around Israel.

“It’s to give Jewish people confidence,” she said. “Krav Maga is Israeli and we want to give them our invention to defend themselves.”

Yet the proof may be in the number of views. Krav Maga Girl’s video has just over 10,000 views, while Blass’s ball of fire has already reached more than a million.

Laughter is clearly the best defense mechanism. Or it may be that it’s more fun to laugh than it is to practice Krav Maga.

Blass said he initially put his video up on Rogatka’s Facebook page, which has some 5,000 followers. From there, it began accruing views, and was then picked up by “Hazinor” as well as several news and morning shows.

It can be the simplest ideas that gain traction, said Blass, who added that they’re currently working on another video.

For now, though, he’s known as the guy who can hold a ball of fire. Desperate times call for desperate measures.                 (The Times of Israel)

Why the BDS campaign can’t tolerate Israeli moderates


For the BDS campaign’s narrative of Israel as a radically essentialized evil to work, those most amenable to nuance and dialogue – like Israeli academics and my late friend Edward Said – must be the first to be boycotted.

By Dan Rabinowitz                 Ha’aretz

In 2001, Edward Said partnered with Daniel Barenboim to create what Said’s widow since labeled the most important project of his life: the East West Music Diwan, a platform for Palestinian and Israeli young music talents to meet, rehearse and perform together. In 2012 the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel denounced the Diwan as “undermining Palestinian civil resistance.”

I am an Anthropologist at Tel-Aviv University, proud to have been a personal friend of Edward Said. I am currently involved in an effort to curb attempts to boycott Israeli universities, attempts which, like PACBI, are inspired by BDS – the Palestinian movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. The uphill battle in which my colleagues and I are engaged often makes me think of Edward’s legacy.

How did Said’s Diwan and Israeli universities end up being targeted by BDS?  “Boycott, divestment and sanctions” suggests an economic emphasis. Given the success of economic pressure elsewhere – South Africa and more recently Iran stand out as two examples – why does BDS neglect mainstream Israeli economic institutions? And why is it so eager to boycott Israeli universities, inhabited by individuals who, like Said in his time, are overwhelmingly in favor of dialogue and compromise?

This is not the only puzzle surrounding BDS’s strategic choices. BDS’ homepage suggests that Israeli universities would be boycotted until they “call on Israel” to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, end the Gaza siege, give Palestinian citizens equality and recognize Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

These are reasonable demands (even the refugee clause is worded moderately). Hidden between the lines, however, is a procedural impasse: universities cannot, must not and do not state institutional positions on political issues. The condition, in other words, is one which universities can never meet, a recipe for indefinite boycott. Another version of a boycott, to be debated by the American Anthropological Association on November 20, suggests it will be enforced until such time when Israeli universities ‘end their complicity’ with the injustices inflicted on the Palestinians. Israel does inflict injustices on Palestinians, but making universities accountable for them is ludicrous, and a condition as vague as ‘when universities end their complicity’ is a new procedural quagmire. Who decides whether or when “complicity” has “ended?” Are universities everywhere ‘complicit’ with unseemly actions by their governments?

BDS is in the academic boycott business too long for these procedural blunders to be put down to oversight. Other elements of BDS’ strategy in fact suggest they were deliberate. BDS’ insistence on Israel’s withdrawal from the territories it took in 1967 suggests a two-state solution.

But statements by BDS leaders and supporters over the years reflect vehement opposition to this formula and a consistent preference of a future with no Israel. They are aware of course that such an endgame, complete with the negation of the right of Jews to self-determination, is hard to sell. So they embellish it. The demands from Israel, designed to be interpreted by innocent  bystanders as a call for a two-state solution, obfuscate a more sinister vision that has no place for Israel; and a call designed to ostracize Israeli universities indefinitely tries to pass as an effort to correct their moral fabric.

A vision of a future with no Israel explains BDS’ disinterest in economic sanctions. A stick-and-carrot ploy, economic sanctions nudge the target to do right under pressure now and enjoy benefits later. For example, economic sanctions of the type now contemplated by the European Union could force Israel to withdraw and to accept a Palestinian state, with the carrot coming later as renewed international support, so vital for Israel’s survival. Coy language on its website notwithstanding, BDS wants none of this. This is why economic sanctions, useless when the target is not assigned a future, are irrelevant for BDS.

Academic and cultural boycott, on the other hand, fits BDS’ endgame perfectly.  Israel’s intransigent and violent conduct in recent years brought international sympathy for it to an all-time low. BDS operatives hope this fall from grace could soon be followed by an ultimate collapse, and see an opportunity: demonize Israel as a radically essentialized epitome of evil, and you might expedite its ultimate demise.

This tactic has willing partners on the Israeli right, where politicians thrive on cultivating “the world is all against us” ethos. What it cannot tolerate are Israeli moderates. A vibrant, credible intellectual milieu, where academics and artists embrace complexity and nuance, openly criticizing the occupation and the government, subverts BDS’ essentializing mission.

Those who question the over-simplified, self-righteous, monolithic tale of evil colonial oppressors and angelic indigenous victims must be marginalized and silenced. Particularly when they include the likes of Said, Barenboim and Noam Chomsky. The more amenable to dialogue we are the more “boycottable” we must become.

Those who believe that Israel should not have been created or that it now no longer has the privilege to carry on have a right to their opinion. But they have obligations too. They must come clean about seeking a post-Israel endgame; they must specify the process they think might lead there; and they must openly and realistically assess the price those on the ground might have to pay for it.

The conversation could grow tense, but at least it will be honest. This is essential if stakeholders and observers are to reach decisions based on real positions, not duplicitous manipulations.

Prof. Dan Rabinowitz teaches Anthropology at Tel-Aviv University. A former President of the Israeli Anthropological Association, he is cofounder of Anthropologists for Dialogue on Israel and Palestine.

This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW