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Latest News in Israel – 25th November

Israel strikes Hezbollah positions in Syria, killing 13

Unconfirmed Syrian media reports said Tuesday that Israel carried out some four airstrikes on Syrian regime and Hezbollah positions in the area of Syria’s Qalamoun mountains on Monday night.

A report by Al-Souria Net, a pro-opposition outlet, said eight Hezbollah fighters and five Syrian soldiers were killed in the raids, which hit the border region between Lebanon and Syria.

“After several hours of reconnaissance flights above the area, Israeli planes suddenly launched two raids on a joint Assad forces and Hezbollah position,” Al-Souria Net reported. “This was immediately followed by a third raid.. The Israeli planes resumed their attack with a fourth air raid after several minutes, targeting a Hezbollah position in western Qalamoun.”

The report said there were “dozens” injured in the airstrikes, four of them critically. The wounded were transferred to local hospitals for treatment.

Israel is reported to have been behind a series of air raids on Syrian soil since the Syrian civil war began in March 2011, apparently aimed at preventing advanced weapons shipments from Iran from reaching arch-enemy Hezbollah via Syria.

Jerusalem has not openly admitted to being behind such operations. It has, however, warned that it will not permit the Lebanon-based terror group to obtain what it calls “game-changing” advanced weaponry.

On November 11, an alleged Israeli raid was reported near the airport in the Syrian capital Damascus, according to Israel’s Channel 2 television, which cited Syrian media reports. The reports were unconfirmed but according to Syrian opposition groups, the target was a weapons shipments likely intended for Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, Israel’s Channel 10 said.

In April, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also declared that Israel would not let Iran equip Hezbollah with advanced weapons — without discussing an alleged airstrike that reportedly hit surface-to-surface missile depot the day before. Hezbollah has a strong military presence in Lebanon as well as in Syria, the two countries lying on Israel’s northern borders.

In September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a staunch ally of Assad, in an effort to avoid military confrontations in the country.

Netanyahu said that he told Putin in “no uncertain terms” that Israel would not tolerate Tehran’s efforts to arm Israel’s enemies in the region, and that Jerusalem has taken and will continue to take action against any such attempts.

“This is our right and also our duty,” he said. “There were no objections to our rights and to what I said. On the contrary: there was readiness to make sure that whatever Russia’s intentions for Syria, Russia will not be a partner in extreme actions by Iran against us.”               (The Times of Israel)

IDF Lt.-Col. among 4 injured in ramming attack at Tapuah Junction in West Bank

Four people including two IDF soldiers and a Border Police officer were injured in a Palestinian vehicular ramming attack near the Tapuah junction in the West Bank on Tuesday morning, according to Magen David Adom.

One of the soldiers injured hold the rank of Lt.-Col.

Paramedics treated one of the wounded for moderate injuries in the head and stomach. Three other victims were treated for light injuries. They were all evacuated to Rabin Medical Center – Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikvah.

Border police on the scene shot and wounded the 21-year-old Palestinian driver. The driver was considered to be in moderate condition and received treatment on the scene.

A school bus full of children passed through the junction at the time of the attack. The Samaria Regional Council provided psychological treatment for the students and teachers.

The attack on Tuesday morning comes on the heels of a day of violence experienced in the West Bank on Monday.

A Palestinian terrorist on Monday afternoon stabbed to death Israeli soldier Ziv Mizrahi at the Dor Alon gas station along Route 443 in the West Bank, which is a main artery that leads to Jerusalem. Two others were lightly wounded in the attack.

Another soldier at the gas station immediately shot and killed the Palestinian.

Route 443 is a main artery leading to Jerusalem. Mizrahi, who is a resident of the Givat Ze’ev settlement will be buried at 1 p.m. on Tuesday in Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl Military cemetery.

Also on Monday, two teenage Palestinian girls were shot moments after stabbing a 70-year-old Arab man in the head with scissors in the heart of downtown Jerusalem on Monday morning.

A 27-year-old Israeli security guard who came to the Palestinian man’s rescue sustained light wounds to his hand when hit by police shooting at the assailants.

The unidentified 70-year old Palestinian man, from Bethlehem, and the unidentified guard were treated at the scene for light wounds by Magen David Adom paramedics before being transferred to an area hospital.

One of the teenage terrorists was declared dead at the scene and the other was listed in critical condition.

Additionally, a vehicle hit a pedestrian and sped off near the West Bank settlement of Homesh on Monday, leading security forces on a manhunt for the suspect.

An 18-year-old man was lightly injured in the hit-and-run event and was evacuated to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva.

It was not immediately clear if the incident was an accident or a deliberate car ramming attack                                         (The Jerusalem Post)

Man hurt in West Bank hit-and-run; security forces searching area for suspect

A vehicle hit a pedestrian and sped off near the West Bank settlement of Homesh on Monday, leading security forces on a manhunt for the suspect.

An 18-year-old man was lightly injured in the hit-and-run event and was evacuated to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva.

It was not immediately clear if the incident was an accident or a deliberate car ramming attack.

Police have set-up roadblocks in the area and are currently searching for the suspected perpetrator.    (The Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu: Terrorists’ families won’t be able to work in Israel

Israel will revoke work permits from families of terrorists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday during a visit to the Gush Etzion Junction which over the last few weeks has repeatedly been the site of terrorist attacks.

Netanyahu said that the terrorists’ families “know that it has in its midst someone who is extreme or someone liable to attack, and a family like that does not have the right to work in Israel.”

Netanyahu enumerated a number of other steps that the government would take to deal with the wave of terror from individual attackers that has extended now for some two and a half months.

Netanyahu said that every Palestinian car driving on the main roads will be checked, and that bypass roads — such as one around the Gush Etzion junction —  will be constructed at the recommendations of the security services.

In addition, he said, that the government was preparing to deal with incitement on social media through “various means.” He did not elaborate.

Faced with growing criticism from Gush Etzion residents that the government is not doing enough to provide for their security, Netanyahu said that the security forces in the region have been increased significantly, and that they are going into Palestinian towns and villages and conducting numerous arrests.

“There is no limitation on the activities of the IDF and the security services,” he said. “On the contrary, there is full [government] support, and that is important.”

Netanyahu contrasted the situation today to what it was in 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield at the height of the second intifada.

At that time, he said, there were terrorist command centers and thousands of armed men in the territories.

Operation Defensive Shield, he said, was conducted to provide Israel with the freedom of action in Judea and Samaria that it enjoys today, “and we are using it every day and night, to act against plans, or attackers, or weapons storehouses.”

The result is that the today there are not the hundreds of deaths a year that there were during the second intifada when there were armed attackers and suicide bombers. “We don’t have that now, and we we are doing everything to ensure that this will not be,” he said.

Netanyahu was accompanied on the visit by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, and other top security officials. During the visit he met with Gush Etzion regional Council head Davidi Pearl, Efrat local council hear Oded Ravivi, and Kiryat Arba local council head Malachi Levinger.                    (Jerusalem Post)

IDF sets up more checkpoints, makes arrests, as bid to quell terror gathers steam

New measures are being introduced in the West Bank to tackle the wave of Palestinian terror attacks that has swept Israel over the past two months.

A wave of stabbings, shootings and vehicular rammings have killed at least 22 victims since the beginning of October, including seven in the last week alone. Over 80 percent of the perpetrators have come from the West Bank.

Overnight Monday, IDF soldiers set up checkpoints surrounding Hebron, Hawara and Nablus, as well as around villages adjacent to the Etzion settlement bloc, according to Channel 10 news.

Security forces were reportedly checking all Palestinian vehicles leaving the Hebron area, with hundreds of troops added to the IDF forces deployed to the area to secure the new checkpoints.

Security officials said 16 West Bank terror suspects were arrested overnight Monday, including 12 Hamas activists. A joint force of IDF soldiers, Border Police and the Shin Bet security agency carried out the arrests.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced tighter controls on Palestinian vehicles and an increase in the number of so-called “bypass roads” that create separate routes for Palestinians and Israelis.

Visiting the Etzion Junction in the West Bank Monday, Netanyahu said the army was stepping up its operations in the West Bank and has been given free rein in the area to preempt terror attacks. He urged Israelis to be resilient in the fight against terror.

“On the offensive side,” Netanyahu said, “we’re going anywhere [we need to]. We’re entering [Palestinian] villages, we’re entering towns, we’re entering homes, and conducting widespread arrests. There are no restrictions on the activities of the IDF and the security forces. On the contrary – there’s full support, and this is vital.”

Netanyahu said that security forces are taking preventative action in the West Bank “day in and day out” to put an end to the current situation in which “hundreds of Israelis are killed every year by suicide bombers and other attackers.”

In a measure that underlines the sharply increased friction in day-to-day interaction between Israelis and Palestinians, Israel is also reportedly considering barring all Palestinian workers from supermarkets, factories and other facilities in the Etzion Bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem, an area that has seen several recent terror attacks, according to Channel 2 news. The Palestinian news site Ma’an said 2,000 Palestinians could be affected.         (The Times of Israel)

Hundreds gather at Gush Etzion Junction to protest terror

“In a normal country the good people are free to go where they want and the bad people are behind bars,” exclaimed Yehudit Dasberg at a protest Monday at the Gush Etzion junction.

The impromptu gathering came a day after Hadar Buchris had been stabbed to death at the junction and four days after three were killed in a shooting attack at Alon Shavut.

The demonstration was organized within 24 hours by Rivka Epstein Hattin, a piano teacher from Alon Shavut.  More than 400 mothers and their children came to demand safety for their children and an end to terrorism.  Buses brought seminary students from Efrat, Migdal Oz, Kfar Etzion and other Jewish communities.  “We will continue to be in this country, it’s our right…and not give in,” said Malcha Puterovsky, to the crowd.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl said drastic measures must be taken to ensure the safety of Israelis traveling through the junction. “We believe this area should be completely separated from the Arabs, because this is our heart, the center of our lives,” Perl said.

New security measures are already taking shape at the junction. Palestinian traffic heading north on the 60 was being routed around the junction via a newly carved side road that reconnects to the 60 after the junction. Concrete blocks and soldiers were deployed to defend against attacks. Several Palestinian taxi drivers, stuck in the massive jam created by the protest, chatted with the women present and seemed to nod in agreement that people should not be stabbed in attacks.

Several speakers emphasized the feeling that Gush Etzion has been abandoned by the state and that the government must make it “part of Israel,” in one speaker’s view.  Others demanded the area be annexed to Israel, or that all Palestinian traffic on road 60, the main road that leads through the junction and the site of numerous attacks in the last month, be checked.                     (Jerusalem Post)

Abbas accuses Israel of carrying out ‘extrajudicial killings’ of Palestinians

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas repeated his charge on Monday that Israel is seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount and carrying out “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians.

Abbas said that the current wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis was the “inevitable result of diminishing hopes, the continued strangulation, siege and pressure and the lack of sense of security and safety felt by our people.”

He called on the international community to provide protection to the Palestinians.

In a statement released by Abbas’s office on the occasion of “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” the PA president noted that he had previously cautioned of the “grave consequences of what is happening in and around Jerusalem, including severe restrictions imposed on our people, violations of their civil, political, economic and cultural rights.”

Abbas accused Israel of attempting to “change the identity, historical and demographic character of Jerusalem.” He also accused Israeli security forces of providing protection to settlers and extremists who attack Christian and Muslim holy sites.

Abbas claimed that Israel’s actions were aimed at changing the historic status quo at the Temple Mount. “All of these actions and violations would risk turning the conflict from a political and legal one to a religious conflict, which will have disastrous consequences for everyone,” he warned.

Abbas also repeated his charge that Israel was seeking to establish “temporal and spatial presence at Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram Al-Sharif.”

Abbas said that the “continuation of the Israeli occupation and its persistence with colonial settlement activities, cruel arrests and detention of civilians, extrajudicial killings of our youths and children, the blockade of Gaza, home demolitions, repeated brutal attacks by Israeli terrorist settlers and provocations against their holy sites affirm Israel’s arrogance and intransigence, its violations of international law, its rejection of peace and its adherence instead to the ideology of colonial expansion, subjugation and greed.”                (Jerusalem Post)

PM to Kerry: Calm must return before we make West Bank gestures

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday that Israel would only implement trust-building measures with the Palestinians when the violence against Israelis abates entirely, a senior Israeli official said.

During their meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Israel would only agree to take steps to improve the security and economic situation for Palestinians in the West Bank when calm is fully restored, according to the official.

There is no settlement freeze, nor will there be one, Netanyahu continued, according to the senior official. If the international community wants Israel to okay building plans for Palestinians, it should recognize Israel’s construction in the settlement blocs, the prime minister declared.

Netanyahu told Kerry that the core problem driving the terror attacks is “religious incitement” by the Palestinian Authority spread via social media, especially surrounding the Temple Mount, according to the official. “The PA participates in the incitement,” Netanyahu is said to have told Kerry.

After his sit-down with Netanyahu, Kerry met with President Reuven Rivlin, telling him that he condemns Palestinian violence and no amount of frustration can justify the attacks.

“This is a challenge to all civilized people. We all have a responsibility to condemn that violence, to make it clear that you know no frustration, no politics, no ideology, no emotion justifies taking innocent lives,” Kerry said, according to Rivlin’s spokesperson, echoing comments he made earlier with Netanyahu.

“I stand here with you to express our outrage at this kind of violence, to condemn this violence, and to make it clear that Israel not only has a right to defend itself, but has an obligation to do so.

“The United States will continue to stand with Israel in support of your desire to live in peace and stability, without that violence,” he said.

It was Kerry’s first visit in Jerusalem in over a year. He was scheduled to head to Ramallah later Tuesday, for a sit-down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

(The Times of Israel)

IAF jets bomb Hamas targets in central Gaza Strip

The Israeli military announced late Monday that its air force had struck targets in the central Gaza Strip in retribution for Palestinian rocket fire earlier in the day.

According to the IDF, the air force attacked a number of installations in central Gaza belonging to Hamas’ military infrastructure.

“The IDF views Hamas as being the party responsible for what takes place in the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement.

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel’s Eshkol Regional Council Monday morning, the IDF confirmed.

No injuries or damage were reported in the incident. Red alert sirens were not activated, as the projectile exploded in open territory.

Last Tuesday, residents in the south were on edge after the Iron Dome missile system fired an interceptor missile at what it thought was an incoming rocket.

Apparently there was no rocket, although residents of the South did hear an explosion, which is believed to have been the interceptor.

Previous to today’s launch, the last confirmed rocket to be fired into Israel was on October 26th, when a rocket exploded in the vicinity of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, also causing no casualties or damage.                       (Jerusalem Post)

Jonathan Pollard loses his job due to parole conditions

An employer who had intended to give a salaried position to Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard retracted the offer Monday, because the conditions of his parole would have prevented him from doing his job.

Pollard received an offer to become a research analyst in the finance department of a respected investment firm. But his parole conditions require him to wear an electronic ankle bracelet at all times for GPS tracking of his whereabouts and to be subjected to unfettered monitoring and inspection of his computers and those of his employer.

He cannot leave his home in New York City before 7 a.m. or come home after 7 p.m., which makes it difficult to travel to and from work, to attend prayer services, or to accept invitations to dinner on the Sabbath and holidays from friends and relatives.

Speaking at the Louis Brandeis award dinner of the ZOA in New York on Sunday night, Pollard’s attorney, Eliot Lauer, said that due to the conditions, his client is “still not free,” despite leaving prison on Friday after serving 30 years of a life sentence. He asked the Jewish community to continue to struggle for Pollard’s freedom.

“The parole commission’s unnecessary conditions make it virtually impossible for him to obtain a normal job in New York City,” Lauer said. “The employer who offered him work took back the offer because federal authorities asked to install monitoring devices in the company’s computer system if it employed him.”

Pollard must also answer every phone call or knock on his door in the middle of the night, because it could be a test by a parole officer that if failed could lead to him being sent back to prison.

The Free Pollard campaign continued to ask Knesset members on Monday to refrain from criticizing the conditions of his parole and to leave the battle to his attorneys who are trying to obtain a date for a hearing before a district court judge in New York as soon as possible. At least a dozen MKs, including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), rejected that request and released statements Friday criticizing the conditions.

“Everyone must display responsibility and restraint in hopes that it will lead to improving the situation on the legal track,” a campaign spokesman said.   (Jerusalem Post)

CBA signs start-up deal with Israel’s chief scientist

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has signed an agreement with the chief scientist of Israel to arrange collaboration on technology and innovation with Israel’s flourishing start-up scene.

Avi Hasson, Israel’s chief scientist since 2011, is in Sydney this week with a group of Israeli experts on start-ups, venture capital and government funding. It is understood CBA is the first bank in the world to be granted access to a program established by Mr Hasson to link promising Israeli start-ups with global companies willing to test their ideas and provide feedback. Global companies that are also part of the program include US giants Microsoft, General Electric and Procter & Gamble.

The memorandum of understanding between Mr Hasson and CBA signed on Monday will allow Australia’s largest bank to access emerging technology from Israeli start-ups and to use the Office of the Chief Scientist to tap into the community of technology companies in areas of interest to the bank.

CBA’s chief information officer David Whiteing said CBA would initially seek to collaborate with start-ups working on cyber security and big-data analytics.

Given the spectre of conflict that pervades its society, Israel has developed a world-leading cyber security tech industry, which banks are eager to engage with to fortify their IT systems.

“Israel’s cyber security expertise has evolved naturally from its constant vigilance, both online and off,” a recent article in Fortune said. “Ensuring that its people remain able to take on threats and at all levels has become central to Israeli governmental strategy, and transformed what began as a cottage industry into a thriving sector of the nation’s economy.”

CBA also wants to work with Israeli “agritech” companies. Mr Whiteing said the agreement could be used to bring insight back to CBA’s rural customers.

“If we can help a farmer understand techniques and technology available to him to to produce more with less – less rain, less capital, less land, less water – that is important, as more of our farmers become players on global markets,” he said.

There would also be opportunities around the internet of things and nanotechnology, which Mr Hasson has made a priority.

CBA has an internal team monitoring potentially disruptive technologies, including the internet of things, fintech and the blockchain.

The Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel, part of the Ministry of Economy, was established in 1974. Before taking up the role five years ago, Mr Hasson spent a decade in the technology venture capital industry and another decade working for telecommunications companies.

CBA senior executives have been travelling to Israel for a number of years and a delegation crossed paths earlier in November, with a trade mission led by Assistant Innovation Minister Wyatt Roy.

Mr Roy will appear on a panel with Mr Hasson at an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney on Friday, which 250 people are expected to attend.

The federal government is expected to release its innovation statement in December.               (Sydney Morning Herald)

Archaeologists shed light on diets of Galilee residents 10,000 years ago

A joint study by researchers of the Weizmann Institute and the Israel Antiquities Authority examining ancient fava seeds exposed in excavations at Neolithic sites in the Galilee, sheds new light on the diets of prehistoric inhabitants from 10,000 years ago.

Seeds unearthed in the past few years in the area west of the Jordan River, illustrate that ancient humans’ diet at the time consisted primarily of fava beans, lentils and various types of peas and chickpeas, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Monday.

Moreover, according to the archeologists, state-of-the-art techniques used to analyze the buds determined the fava seeds that were found date back to 10,125–10,200 YBP, making them the world’s oldest domesticated seeds.

“The multitude of fava seeds found at the Neolithic sites excavated in the Galilee during the past few years indicates the preference placed on growing fava beans,” the IAA said.

“These well-preserved seeds were found in excavations, inside storage pits (granaries) after they had been husked. The seeds’ dimensions are a uniform size – a datum showing they were methodically cultivated, and were harvested at the same period of time, when the legumes had ripened.”

The researchers noted that keeping the seeds in storage pits is also reflective of long-term agricultural planning, whereby the stored seeds were intended not only for food, but also to ensure future crops in the coming years.

“The identification of the places where plant species that are today an integral part of our diet were first domesticated is of great significance to research,” the IAA said.

“Despite the importance of cereals in nutrition that continues to this day, it seems that in the region we examined, it was the legumes, full of flavor and protein, which were actually the first species to be domesticated.

“A phenomenon known as the agricultural revolution took place throughout the region at this time: Different species of animals and plants were domesticated across the Levant, and it is now clear that the area that is today the Galilee was the main producer of legumes in prehistoric times.”

The cultivation process lasted thousands of years, the researchers added, during which certain characteristics of wild species changed, and domesticated plant species were created.

“To this day, most of the chickpeas grown in the country are cultivated in the Galilee region,” the IAA said.

The study was conducted by archaeobotanist Valentina Caracuta, of the Weizmann Institute, with Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto and Dr. Lior Regev, in cooperation with IAA archaeologists Dr. Kobi Vardi, Dr. Yitzhak Paz, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily, Dr. Ianir Milevski and Dr. Omri Barzilai.              (Jerusalem Post)

Inconvenient Truths About the Middle East Peace Process

by Aaron David Miller   The Wall Street Journal


John Kerry is off to the Middle East again. His itinerary might surprise you, though.

The secretary isn’t going to the region to coordinate strategy withVladimir Putin, François Hollande, or meet with Iraqi Prime MinisterHaider al-Abadi (his deputy is already in Baghdad); or to deal with the putative political transition in Syria. No, instead the trip will focus on Israelis and Palestinians, in addition to a stop in the UAE where he’ll presumably talk Syria.

Having spent most of my professional life chasing after and believing in Arab-Israeli peace–particularly Israeli-Palestinian peace–I can understand the addictive power of the problem for U.S. presidents and secretaries of state. And this secretary of state, more than any of those for whom I worked, really believes not only in the importance of the issue but also in his own capacity to somehow solve it. Touching base with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas might make some sense, particularly consulting with the Israelis on Syria and Russia.

But as Mr. Kerry makes yet another foray into the world of the never-ending peace process, here are some inconvenient and politically incorrect truths worth bearing in mind.

First, if there is any key to stability in the angry, broken, dysfunctional  Middle East, it certainly isn’t a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Yes, a resolution now would certainly boost U.S. credibility and take an important issue off the table. But given the region-wide melt down – Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen in varying forms of chaos and dysfunction; a rising Iran, and  the threat from ISIS — it’s no longer credible to argue that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a priority or that it’s even possible now.  A two-state solution may well be the least-worst outcome. But with all the other failing states  in the region, it’s worth considering why the U.S. would want to risk a failed or weak Palestinian one.

Second, even if that two-state solution were theoretically possible sometime, it isn’t now. Rarely has any peace process been as unready for prime time as this one is at the moment. President Barack Obama has repeatedly acknowledged this. Neither Mr. Netanyahu nor Mr. Abbas is ready to pay the price on any of the big issues like Jerusalem or refugees.

Mr. Abbas can’t rein in Hamas and silence all of the guns of Palestine. And he can’t control the Palestinians who are killing Israelis with knives, guns and cars — many of whom are from areas of Jerusalem that Israel has controlled since 1967. And not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Netanyahu really isn’t interested in helping to deliver Palestinian statehood, let alone becoming its father.

Third, much of the interest in dealing with the peace process is coming from Washington. And clearly, it would be a good thing if Mr. Kerry could help tamp down the current wave of violence. Perhaps Mr. Netanyahu could take some interim steps and Mr. Kerry might build on them. That might interest Mr. Abbas, who has used the violence to warn that the status quo isn’t sustainable even as he fears that it could undermine his control and benefit Hamas.

The bitter truth here is that the Obama administration cares too much about this issue and the parties themselves too little. What’s missing is the kind of local ownership that would make Israelis and Palestinians invest in a   serious negotiating process and a solution because they want and need it.  John Kerry can’t do that for them.

If the Obama administration wants to keep its hand in the issue, tamp down the violence and try to manage the conflict in hopes for keeping a political solution alive, terrific. But it shouldn’t start believing its own talking points. The Middle East is on fire. And there are much more important things to do.

Will the Threat From ISIS End the Double Standard on Israel?


by Abraham Cooper    The Algemeiner

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche posited, “You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist.” Such moral relativism underpins the double standard that allows international leaders and powerful media to promote a crusade against ISIS terror while at the same time cast a blind eye to barbaric targeting of Israel and Jews.

The problem is that moral relativism ­ or, more accurately, immoral relativism ­ empowers terrorism and inevitably dooms any campaign to defeat global terrorism.

Meanwhile, the antisemitic world headquarters in Tehran is busy forging its latest “blame the Jew” big lie ­ that Israel and “Zionist aggression” lurk behind the 11/13 Paris attacks. Iran’s FARS News Agency has “once again confirmed that French Jews were informed that the tragedy would happen. Just as it happened in the September 11 attacks 14 years ago.”

And while most of the world mourned innocents murdered on a Friday night in Paris, Gaza erupted in a pro-ISIS celebration, allowed by supposedly anti-ISIS Hamas. They burned the French Tricolour in celebration of the Paris terror attacks as a blow for ending Zionist oppression. In an interview to the Iranian news agency, Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki praised “the heroic acts being carried out by the young Palestinians against the Israeli enemy,” while equating Israelis and Nazis. Each of these murderers immediately enter the Palestinians’ online Hall of Fame of Terror.

The sickness and evil of anti-Israel bigotry is nourished by Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement. She tweeted, “I haven’t accused Israel of involvement. Still, Bibi is upset about the European settlement boycott. So who knows.” And then posted a cartoon showing a grotesquely caricatured Jew saying “Merci [thank you]” to an ISIS fighter, because “Everything is working out as planned. Soon those white goyim will be on their knees.”

What is shocking is how important leaders in democracies, wittingly or not, actually undermine the anti-ISIS campaign. In Sweden, where the Jewish community had to cancel all evening activities and shutter its synagogues until further notice, Foreign Minister Margot Allstrom has linked Paris terror to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in an appalling way. She refers to the Middle East, “where not least the Palestinians see that there is no future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.” Her use of “we” suggests moral solidarity, not with Jews under threat in Israel or in her own country, but with Palestinian terrorists.

Secretary of State John Kerry further muddied the waters by declaring at the US Embassy in Paris: “There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo [last January in Paris], and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of ­ not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, ‘OK, they’re really angry because of this and that’.” Back in Washington, he tried to dial back the comment, but the damage had been done.

A few days earlier, State Department spokesman John Kirby reacted to the unending terrorist stabbings and shootings of innocent Israeli civilians by stating: “Individuals on both sides of this divide are – have proven capable of, and in our view, are guilty of acts of terrorism.”

The first post-Paris terror incident in France was the stabbing of an Orthodox Jewish teacher by an ISIS sympathizer. The world reacted with a collective yawn.

In the Jewish state, a year and a day after two Palestinians used meat cleavers to literally butcher Rabbis at prayer in a Jerusalem Synagogue, terrorists murdered Jews at prayer in Tel Aviv and gunned down an American Yeshiva student and two Israelis on a West Bank road. Much of the reportage defaulted to the “cycle of violence” in the Holy Land and listed statistics of how many died on “both sides.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote on Facebook: “Behind these terrorist attacks stands radical Islam, which seeks to destroy us, the same radical Islam that struck in Paris and threatens all of Europe. Whoever condemned the attacks in France needs to condemn the attacks in Israel. It’s the same terror. Whoever does not do this is a hypocrite and blind.”

But while leaders quietly appreciate the real-time intelligence Israel is providing to France and the media dutifully reported that Israeli radar was the first to detect evidence that a bomb brought down the Russian jet over Sinai, sympathy for Israelis cut down by terrorist is rarely expressed and Palestinian terrorism is rarely condemned.

The war on terror is indivisible. After France’s 11/13, the world has another opportunity to launch a global action plan.

A key starting point is to reject the “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” mantra that provides moral cover for those who direct or benefit from terrorism. It has worked especially well for  Palestinian leaders. Why stop terror, when millions keep flowing in from donor nations, when human rights NGOs maintain a stoic silence when Jewish blood flows and when diplomatic legitimacy continues to expand?

Hopefully, ISIS will disappear at some point. But if the scourge of our time is to defeated , civilized civilized people must set a single standard in the war to eradicate terrorism.  Otherwise, new deadly acronyms of terror will emerge.  And we and our children will be no safer.

11 Outrageous Examples of Palestinian Incitement


One of the Palestinian Authority’s core obligations under the terms of the Oslo Accords is ending the popular anti-Israel incitement that permeates official Palestinian institutions and civil society. The PA’s failure to condemn calls to violence against Israelis, magnified by its own frequent contributions to the toxic rhetoric, has led to a dangerous swell in anti-Israel public sentiment that periodically bursts in lethal waves of terror against civilians. This incitement poisons the very foundation of peaceful coexistence, particularly when spread by Palestinian leaders whose cry for a national struggle against Israel spills into public discourse. When PA officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas, routinely lionize murderers and deny Israel’s legitimacy, it’s not surprising that Palestinian social media and popular culture follow suit.

Multiple surveys of Palestinian public opinion have found widespread, consistent supportfor terror attacks against Israeli civilians, as well as negative perceptions of Jews. Dan Polisar, the provost of Shalem College, explained in a recent article for Mosaic that these polls reveal the extent to which “Palestinian perpetrators of violence reflect and are acting on the basis of views widely held in their society.”

Below is a collection of some of the most outrageous examples of Palestinian incitement that stoke this extremism, which has erupted in series of stabbings, shootings, and car ramming attacks that claimed more than a dozen lives over the past two months.

  1. The PA’s UN representative accused Israel of harvesting Palestinian organs.

In a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, wrote that Palestinians shot by Israeli security forces “were returned with missing corneas and other organs, further confirming past reports about organ harvesting by the occupying power.” Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, called Mansour’s accusation a blood libel.

  1. The PA condemned Israel for shooting two terrorists who carried out stabbing attacks in Jerusalem.

On October 4, the PA called on the international community to intervene after two Palestinian men, Fadi Aloon and Muhannad Halabi, were killed by security forces in Jerusalem. Notably, the PA failed to mention that Aloon was shot after stabbing an Israeli teenager near Jerusalem’s Old City, while Halabi was shot after murderingRabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Banita, and wounding Banita’s wife and their 2-year-old baby. The PA issued no condemnation of the attacks.

  1. A Palestinian village, law association, and multiple government officials honored a terrorist who killed two Israelis and injured a mother and her child.

The Surda-Abu Qash municipality in the northern West Bank decided to rename a street after Muhannad Halabi on October 13, less than 10 days after he killed two Israeli men and wounded a mother and her child. The mayor of the municipality, where a memorial to the terrorist was erected, called him “a pride and badge of honor for the whole village.”

Halabi was also praised by the PA Bar Association, which awarded him a law degree posthumously, as well as by Abbas’ advisor Sultan Abu Al-Einein, who wrote in a Facebook post, “We loved you, Muhannad. We loved you, while you sowed life for all Palestinians.”

At a rally held in honor of the terrorist, Fatah official Jamal Muhaisen declared that Palestinian men have a right “to cause Israeli women to cry.” Fatah, the dominant political party in the PA, is led by Abbas.

  1. A Palestinian cleric in Gaza called on men in the West Bank to form stabbing squads and cut Jews “into body parts.”

In an October 9 sermon at a mosque in the Gaza city of Rafah, Sheikh Muhammad Salah “Abu Rajab” exclaimed, “My brother in the West Bank: Stab the myths of the Talmud in their minds! My brother in the West Bank: Stab the myths about the temple in their hearts!” A video of the sermon with a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute is embedded below.

Oh people of Al-Abrar Mosque and the people of Rafah – from this mosque of yours, you have the honor of delivering these messages to the men of the West Bank: Form stabbing quads. We don’t want just a single stabber. Oh young men of the West Bank: Attack in threes and fours. Some should restrain the victim, while others attack him with axes and butcher knives.

Do not fear what will be said about you. Oh men of the West Bank, next time, attack in a group of three, four, or five. Attack them in groups. Cut them into body parts.

  1. Thousands of Palestinians attended a hate-rally in Rafah.

During the October 16 rally, a sprawling crowd waved butcher knives, meat cleavers, and other weapons while encouraging more terror attacks against Jews. A number of children were brandishing the lethal blades. A video of the rally is embedded below.

  1. A Palestinian official called a shooting attack in Beersheba that killed two and injured 11 an “act of heroism.”

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association and a possible successor to Abbas, made the remarks during an interview with official Palestinian media on October 19. Two days earlier, he glorified the recent Palestinian stabbing attacks,saying, “I am proud of them and congratulate all those who carried them out.” In 2013, Rajoub said that if Palestinians had a nuclear weapon they would have used it against Israel “this morning.”

  1. Mahmoud al-Habbash, an advisor to Abbas and a Supreme Sharia Judge, called Israel “Satan’s project.”

“The conflict here in Palestine between us and the criminal occupation and its criminal leaders, is a further manifestation of our trials,” al-Habbash said during a broadcast on an official PA television channel on October 23. “This is a conflict between two entities, good and evil, between two projects: Allah’s project vs. Satan’s project, a project connected to Allah, which is his will – true and good – and a project connected to oppression and Satanism, to Satanism and animosity, occupation and barbarism.”

Al-Habbash was appointed to his post by Abbas in 2009. Earlier this year, he said that the Western Wall is part of the al-Aqsa Mosque and that “non-Muslims had no right to it.” In 2014, he declared before an audience of PA officials, including Abbas, that young jihadists who go to fight in Syria should direct their attention to Jerusalem instead. Abbas applauded his remarks.

  1. Hashtags and images encouraging murder went viral on Palestinian social media.

According to reports published by the Middle East Media Research Institute and The New York Times last month, Palestinian social media has been alight with hashtags such as “Poison the  Knife before You Stab” and “Slaughtering the Jews,” as well as violent images and how-to guides encouraging more terror attacks against Jews. “One crude cartoon making the rounds on Facebook, including on the official Palestinian TV page before it disappeared late Tuesday, depicts an Israeli soldier as an ape, accompanied by a pig, over a bloodied youth,” the Times wrote. “Another has a close-up of a menacing blade, and is captioned: ‘This is not difficult. To the closest kitchen, and go in the name of God.’”

  1. Violent songs, including “Stab, Stab” and “Run Over, Run Over the Settler,” became popular sensations.

In October, The New York Times reported on some of the “nationalistic” tracks dominating Palestinian airwaves.

“Stab the Zionist and say God is great,” declares one, a reference to the spate of knife attacks since Oct. 1. “Let the knives stab your enemy,” says another. A third is called “Continue the Intifada” and comes with a YouTube warning ­ the video shows the Palestinian woman who pulled a knife at an Afula bus station surrounded by Israeli soldiers pointing guns.

“Resist and carry your guns,” the song urges. “Say hello to being a martyr.”

  1. Abbas referred to all of Israel as occupied Palestinian territory before the UN Human Rights Council.

“Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, haven’t you wondered: For how long will this protracted Israeli occupation of our land last?,” the Abbas asked on October 28 in Geneva. “After 67 years [i.e., Israel’s creation], how long? Do you think it can last, and that it benefits the Palestinian people?”

Abbas then spoke of “holy sites which have been desecrated every other second again and again for seven decades now, under an occupation that does not quit killing, torturing, looting and imprisoning.”

The mention of 67 years or seven decades indicates that Abbas was speaking about the time of Israel’s establishment in 1948, rather than 1967, when Israel assumed control of the West Bank.

  1. The PA’s official newspaper ran an op-ed claiming that Israel was behind the terror attacks in Paris.

The op-ed, which was published in al-Hayat al-Jadida on November 15, two days after the deadly attacks in France, said that the search for the terrorists must extend to “the last place reached by the octopus arms of the Mossad It is clear that its ‘Mossad’ will burn Beirut and Paris in order to achieve [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s goals. He, who challenged the master of the White House, hides in his soul enough evil to burn the world.”

A day earlier, the official Facebook page of Fatah posted an image equating Israel with ISIS.

Dishonorable mention: UNRWA employees spread anti-Semitic graphics on social media.

Though the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN body dedicated to Palestinian refugees, is an international rather than Palestinian institution, UNRWA officials have been repeatedly caught using social media to incite violence against Jews. Reports by the monitoring group UN Watch and blogger “ Elder of Ziyon” last month exposed employees who shared violent graphics, hashtags, and called on Palestinians to “stab Zionist dogs.”

Initially, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness responded to the reports by calling them “baseless,” and attacking the credibility of UN Watch. It was only after much pressure that UNRWA investigated the allegations and eventually suspended a number of employees over the incitement.

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