Peace without normalization is not peace

Mahmoud Abbas: Me? Condemn terror? You’ve got to be joking!

After the terrorist attack on Passover eve, when Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrachi was shot dead and his pregnant wife and one of their children injured by a Palestinian terrorist, it was rumoured that Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas had condemned the murder.

But no. Abbas refutes such a malicious lie, and denies condemning the murder:

Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s office wasted no time on Wednesday in denying reports that he condemned the terrorist attack the occurred near Hevron on Monday.

The attack left Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi dead and two others, including his pregnant wife, wounded.

Leftist MKs who met with Abbas on Wednesday as Mizrahi was being buried told Israeli media that Abbas had condemned the murder, as well as “all other terror attacks.” The supposed condemnation was seen by many as a ploy to bolster the PA’s image.

However, something was apparently lost in translation in the meeting between Abbas and the leftist MKs, as Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh recalled Abbas’s statements quite differently.

Rudeineh quoted Abbas as saying “we are against violence and a return to violence,” but not specifically condemning the Hevron attack at all.

What does it say about Palestinian society that their leadership feel obliged to NOT condemn a terrorist murder of Israeli civilians? And if Abbas did indeed condemn the attack, what does it say about his society that he feels the need to deny the condemnation? Is he afraid of being murdered by his compatriots or of being deposed by one of his many rivals?

Prof. Mohammed Dajani visits Auschwitz with 27 Palestinian students

A similar story of Palestinian intransigence is noted when an independently-minded Palestinian Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Read what happened next:

Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a few weeks ago as part of a project designed to teach empathy and tolerance. Upon his return, his university disowned the trip, his fellow Palestinians branded him a traitor and friends advised a quick vacation abroad.

Dajani said he expected criticism. “I believe a trip like this, for an organized group of Palestinian youth going to visit Auschwitz, is not only rare, but a first,” he said. “I thought there would be some complaints, then it would be forgotten.”

But the trip was explosive news to some, perhaps more so because it took place as U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were in danger of collapse, and emotion surrounding the decades-old conflict is high.

Controversy was also heightened by rumors — untrue — that the trip was paid for by Jewish organizations. It was paid for by the German government.

Dajani said that many Palestinians think the Holocaust is used by Jews and Israelis as propaganda to justify the seizure of lands that Palestinians say are theirs and to create sympathy for Israel. Others, he said, think the Holocaust is exaggerated or just one of many massacres that occurred during World War II.

“They said, ‘Why go to Poland? Why not teach our young people about the Nakba?’ ” Dajani said.

[...]One reader said that taking Palestinian students to Auschwitz was not freedom of expression but treason.

Other critics of the trip included newspaper columnists, TV analysts and fellow researchers in the West Bank.

While the Palestinian students were visiting Auschwitz, a parallel group of Jewish Israeli students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Tel Aviv University ventured to Bethlehem to hear Palestinians from the Dheisheh refugee camp tell their story. The responses of both groups of students — Israelis and Palestinians — would then be analyzed.

[...]

A firebrand in the Fatah political movement when he was young, Dajani said he is now a proponent of moderate Islam and moderate politics. He founded a group dedicated to both, called Wasatia, in 2007. His writing and conversation are filled with references to tolerance, reconciliation and dialogue. He supports two states for two peoples and thinks Jerusalem should be shared by Israelis and Palestinians.

“He is a theologian and a pragmatist, and in that regard, he is unique here. He is also extremely brave,” said Matthew Kalman, a commentator at the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz who broke the story of the Auschwitz trip and who has followed Dijani’s career for years.

“He is also a proud Palestinian nationalist,” Kalman said, who regards the Israelis as occupiers. “But he thinks if you want to engage the Israelis, you have to understand where they’re coming from.”

The trip to Auschwitz was part of a trilateral research project called “Heart of Flesh — Not Stone,” named for a passage in the Book of Ezekiel and designed to not only increase empathy but also to study it. Organized by one of the oldest faculties of Protestant theology in Europe, at the Center for Reconciliation Studies at Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany, the trip was paid for by the German Research Foundation, a funding agency.

Some of Dajani’s detractors accused him of trying to brainwash Palestinian youth.

A university student who went on the trip but asked not to be named because of the charged atmosphere said the visit changed him. “You feel the humanity. You feel the sympathy of so many people killed in this place because of their race or religion.”

“Most people said we shouldn’t go,” the student said. “It is a strange thing for a Palestinian to go to a Nazi death camp. But I would recommend the trip.” He said it did not diminish his desire for a Palestinian state.

[...]

Many Palestinians today oppose what they call “normalization,” which they say seeks to paper over the injustice of the Israeli military occupation by encouraging joint projects between Israelis and Palestinians as if they were both equal, the one not subject to the greater power of the other. Such joint efforts, they reason, will only prolong the occupation by providing Israelis with cover.

[...]

In a statement last week, Dajani wrote: “I will go to Ramallah, I will go to the university, I will put my photos of the visit on Facebook, and I do not regret for one second what I did. As a matter of fact, I will do it again if given the opportunity. I will not hide, I will not deny, I will not be silent. I will not remain a bystander even if the victims of suffering I show empathy for are my occupiers. And this is my final statement on this issue.”

One can but admire Professor Dajani’s bravery in going against the mainstream Palestinian opinion.  But contrary to the “bravery” of Western opinion-makers going against mainstream thought, the risk to Dajani is very real and very physical.  Being called a traitor in Palestinian society is almost a virtual death sentence. He is literally putting his life on the line for opposing Palestinian group-think.

And again, as we can see from the Palestinian voices mentioned in the article who speak against normalization with Israel, what kind of society is this that Israel is expected to make peace with?

Well-meaning do-gooders (and plenty of not-so-well-meaning meddlers) constantly prod Israel to talk to the Palestinians and concede huge tangible assets for the sake of a peace piece of paper. They try to encourage Israel by saying that “you make peace with your enemies, not with your friends”. But this is not true. You make peace with your enemies after they have decided to stop being your enemiesafter they have given up attempting to destroy you, and after they accept your right to exist as a free and independent nation, and not while they are still trying to delegitimize you.

These are just two small examples of all that is wrong with the lopsided “peace” negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.  These are besides the preposterous demands made by Abbas for him to agree to continue talking.

Posted in Academia, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Good News Friday

Too much matza, wine and sun have made me lose track of time and I’ve almost left it too late for this week’s Good News Friday edition, so this is going to be a quickie.

An Israeli-developed item which is sure to take everyone’s fancy is  a pocket-sized printer:

Today you carry everything you need in your pocket. The smartphone revolution has made your phone, PC, camera and navigation device so portable – they are always available at your fingertips. However, there’s one product many of us use daily that still requires a lot of space and will never fit in your pocket (unless you have exceptionally large pants) – the printer.

A fresh Israeli Kickstarter campaign aims to change all that with the ZUtA Pocket Printer. The cute teardrop-shaped robot printer can be placed on any page and scurries back-and-forth, printing as it goes along. The campaign has a lofty goal of $400,000, but the project shows great promise.

“We live in a world where people are constantly on the go and are running their chores everywhere,” says Tuvia Elbaum, who is the entrepreneur behind the project. “But there’s one office tool that’s still stuck behind, hasn’t changed in the past decade and isn’t mobile.” The ZUtA (Aramaic for “small”) printer is just 10cm high and 11cms in diameter, which might not fit in your jeans, but definitely makes it much more portable than any standard printer.

What a brilliant idea! And what a cute shape it is too!  :-) .   Kol hakavod to Tuvia Elbaum and all those who backed his Zuta project.  An extra kol hakavod because the developers come from JCT – the Jerusalem College of Technology, aka Machon Lev, where my son-in-law is studying electronics. [Who says nepotism is dead?  ;-)  ].  Watch the printer in action:

Hani Alami

My next item is more of a political development but it is welcome good news just the same (via Brian Goldfarb): A Palestinian entrepreneur who sees Israel as an ally, not a foe. This is not something to be sneezed at in today’s hostile atmosphere.

It’s not too often that you find a prominent Palestinian agreeing with Economics Minister Naftali Bennett — but Ramallah-based entrepreneur Hani Alami is unique in that respect and many others. “There is plenty of blame to go around for the political situation,” Alami told the Times of Israel in an exclusive interview. “There are no men of vision on either side. But economically, there is no reason the two sides cannot cooperate, and in fact that would benefit both the Israelis and Palestinians.”

[...]

While Alami does not care for most of Bennett’s positions, he is in favor of advancing tech and economic cooperation. “On this I do agree with him,” said Alami.

Alami is well-qualified to discuss matters of high-tech cooperation. A self-made mogul, Alami runs Coolnet, a Ramallah-based internet service provider that specializes in bringing service to rural areas where broadband is afraid to venture. The Coolnet site unhesitatingly lists several Israeli partners, including Radwin, Radcom, RadVision and Ceragon. Last September, Alami rushed to rescue Israeli telecom firm Alavarion, a 4G communications company, from bankruptcy with a $10.5 million “care package.” Since then, Alami sold his stake in the company, he revealed, saying that he didn’t think the company would be able to solve its debt issues.

For Alami, partnering with Israeli firms — and with Israelis — is natural. He knows all the top Israeli tech figures, even tech guru Yossi Vardi, and is as at home in Tel Aviv as he is in Ramallah. Alami is most passionate about Jerusalem, especially East Jerusalem, where he says there could be an active entrepreneur scene that would benefit everyone in the city — Israeli or Palestinian, Jewish or Arab.

[...]

“We both see Jerusalem differently, and we have that right — Israelis can see it as their capital and Palestinians can see it as theirs. But that has nothing to do with providing opportunities for all residents. If you say that the city is one unified unit, then providing equal treatment and equal opportunity is an obligation.” Alami said he held a meeting with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and told him exactly that. “If we are one city, help us,” Alami recalls telling Barkat. “If not, let us go our way.” Barkat got the message, Alami added, and a number of programs are being formed, many involving Israeli and multinational companies and support from the municipality.

The better off Palestinians are, the better off Israelis will be, Alami said. “It’s in Israel’s interests to promote economic stability, regardless of the politics.

[...]

Alami realizes that his ideas contrast sharply with those of the radical groups, some of which prefer to see the Palestinians remain in a constant state of “struggle,” rather than build successful lives without an independent Palestinian state. He notes that Fayyad’s reforms and the growing Palestinian middle class have not diminished their drive for self-determination. “Even though things are much better economically than they were, people are no less interested in the politics of the region.”

Many of those radical positions are espoused by foreign groups, some represented by NGOs that operate in the PA. Alami emphasizes the foreignness of those groups. “Their agendas are not always our agendas,” said Alami. “I have even been approached by governments for support of ideas for projects that they apparently feel strongly about, but that, in my judgment, will not benefit Palestinians. I tell them politely but firmly, thanks but no thanks.”

Israel has its own agendas and interests. In the tech field, though, Alami thinks they are closely aligned with the Palestinians’. “I strongly agree with the Israelis who see the region as having a great tech potential,” he said. “The Palestinians need help and Israel has the resources to provide it, and many in Israel have told me that they want to help.”

Many Israeli tech executives already work on projects to raise the level of technology education and entrepreneurship among Palestinians. All of them work “under the radar” in order to prevent bad publicity — or worse — that would ruin the delicate ties that many in the tech industry on both sides, Alami included, have struggled to build. “It’s a matter of time,” he said. “We’ve come a long way since we started and we have a way to go, but the idea of tech cooperation with each other is something we all want and will eventually come to the fore.”

You don’t need to agree with all Alami’s politics and statements in order to agree with the most salient points – that economic and cultural cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, i.e. normalization, would be to the greatest benefit of both sides.

Kol hakavod to Hani Alami. Would that there were many more Palestinians like him.

To conclude this week’s special Pesach edition, here is a photo of yesterday’s Birkat Cohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Kotel, via police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld’s Twitter feed. Look at the amazing sight of the Kotel filled to overflowing with Jewish pilgrims fulfilling the mitzvah of aliya le’regel (pilgrimage to Jerusalem on the Festivals).

Birkat Cohanim, Pesach 5774, 2014

My hubby and I made our own aliya le’regel to Jerusalem yesterday afternoon, and experienced several miracles, all in the form of lack of traffic jams both to Jerusalem and within the city itself. Truly Mashiach-zeit!

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

For in every generation they rise up to destroy us

Two separate acts, committed at opposite ends of the world by two separate people joined by one motivating factor – hatred of Jews and the desire to kill them – threw those words from the Vehi She’amda poem in the Seder service into sharp relief on the eve of Pesach.

The arrest of the Overland Park, Kansas City, shooter

The first heinous act was committed by an American Nazi. There is no other way to truly describe him: a former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan with a history of violence and extreme hate towards blacks and Jews, and even a prison sentence behind him. Glen Cross (or Miller, he seems undecided about his own name) took himself to the Jewish community center in Kansas City and opened fire, killing a grandfather and grandson. He then proceeded to a Jewish sheltered housing community and killed a woman there. Ironically, all three victims were people he probably would have preferred to have kept alive, since none of them were actually Jewish.

From the Jerusalem Post report:

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas — Sunday’s attack on the Overland Park Jewish Community Center and the Village Shalom retirement community has officially been labeled a hate crime, Overland Park police chief John Douglass told reporters on Monday, less than 24 hours after three people were killed outside those buildings.

On Tuesday, state prosecutors announced that the suspect would be charged with three counts of murder. Police identified him as Frazier Glenn Cross, Jr., 73, from neighboring Missouri.

They said the suspect also goes by the names Frazier Cross, Frazier Glenn Miller and Glenn Miller.

[...]

Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the Kansas City FBI office, would not comment further on what groups Cross might be affiliated with, but the FBI, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League identified the suspect as a white supremacist and former high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Cross was arrested in 1987 and served a five-year sentence for possession of a hand grenade after becoming notorious for perpetrating hate crimes against African-Americans.

Kaste added that he had been known to the FBI but was not being actively watched for potentially disruptive or violent behavior.

Police confirmed the identity of the victims: Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, a freshman at Blue Valley High School who had come to the JCC to audition for the singing competition “KC Superstar.” Corporon died in or near his car in the parking lot.

Underwood succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.

The third victim was identified as Terri LaManno, nee Hastings, 53, of Kansas City, who was visiting her mother at Village Shalom.

None of the victims appeared to have been Jewish. Corporon and Underwood were affiliated with the Methodist Church of the Resurrection in nearby Leawood, Kansas, while LaManno was affiliated with the St. Peter’s Parish Catholic Church in Kansas City.

Jacob Schreiber, CEO of the JCC, which serves the greater Kansas City area, read a short statement in which he said the victims and their families were “dear to us” and that the JCC leadership’s “heartfelt prayers are with them.” Schreiber added that he had been “heartened by the outpouring of support” from the community. “It strengthens us as we move forward from this tragedy,” he said.

Logan Cole, a teenage witness to the crime said:

“It could have been such a different situation,” she explained. “I’ve never felt this unsafe calling myself Jewish, and that’s really hard. That’s something that shouldn’t happen.”

Young Ms. Cole has had a rude awakening in the one country in the world without a solid history of antisemitism. Sadly what she experienced in America is something that is well-known both in Europe and the Middle East.

We send our condolences to the families of the victims and wish refuah shlema to the wounded.

Scene of the terror attack

Scene of the terror attack (Flash 90)

The next act of anti-Jewish terror was committed right here in the heart of the Jewish homeland, just before Pesach began. An Israeli man was shot dead and his pregnant wife injured in a drive-by shooting near Hebron, as the family made its way to the wife’s parents for the Seder.  We later learned that the victim is a senior police officer and was previously a senior IDF officer in the famed Intelligence 8200 Unit:

 

Terrorists opened fire on a family car near Hevron in Judea, murdering the family’s father as he was driving, mere minutes before the Passover holiday began on Monday afternoon.

The man, a police officer in his 40s from the center of the country, was killed instantly by the gunfire. He was from Modi’in, security sources told AFP on condition of anonymity.

His pregnant wife was wounded, and evacuated to the hospital in a condition defined as moderate to critical. Additionally a nine-year-old child was lightly wounded in the gunfire.

Paramedics who rushed to the scene attempted to resuscitate the man, but were forced to pronounce his death at the scene. His wife was wounded by bullets that hit her in the waist.

An IDF helicopter was dispatched to scour the area for the terrorists, and likewise large IDF forces were sent out on the search.

The nearby Arab village of Idhna, located to the west of Hevron, was closed as part of the IDF operation, given that the shooter apparently came from the village.

Israelis in another car say they saw a man in a helmet on the side of the road firing a Kalashnikov assault rifle. IDF spokesman Peter Lerner said it was unclear if the attack was the work of a lone shooter, a shooter with accomplices, or a “local terrorist organization.”

“A great loss to the family and the security forces”

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich arrived Tuesday at the Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem to visit the injured widow of the murdered man.

“I met the widow, she is a very strong woman. I knew her husband, a member of the security forces, we worked closely together,” remarked Aharonovich after the visit.

Regarding the murdered man, Aharonovich noted “he was a very ethical and professional man, this is a great loss to the family, and of course to the security forces.”

Aharonovich hinted that the attack was carried out by a group of terrorists, and not a lone shooter.

“She (the wounded woman) told me that the family was on its way to Kiryat Arba to have the seder meal, and one or more terrorists stood and opened fire,” described the minister.

It was a “murderous terrorist event, the act of a terror organization that attacked,” according to Aharonovich. “She was wounded by several bullets and her husband was apparently murdered on the spot. The children sat in the car in back.”

Baruch Mizrach HY’D

The victim was Baruch Mizrachi, a top police intelligence and crime officer:

The victim of a shooting attack outside Hebron Monday night was named late Tuesday as Baruch Mizrahi, a 47-year-old father of five who filled a variety of senior positions in Israel’s military and police intelligence forces.

Mizrahi, who was gunned down in a terror attack as he was driving with his family to a Passover seder, was a senior officer in the IDF’s intelligence force, and more recently a senior police intelligence and crime officer, Army Radio reported.

On Tuesday night, Mizrahi’s colleagues in the police force mourned his loss, saying he would be missed both as a colleague and as a friend.

“This is a loss for his family first and foremost, and a great personal and professional loss to the force and the department, to the police force and to the state of Israel,” Mizrahi’s commander said.

“Beyond being a first-rate professional, he was a true friend who volunteered for every mission with dedication and faith, and lent a sympathetic ear to those under his command, to his colleagues and to his commanders. His presence could not be missed. Baruch devoted his entire life to his two great loves — his family, and the State of Israel.”

Mizrahi, who served in the military for 25 years, filled a variety of senior roles. In June 2011, he was drafted into the police force, where he served as head of the technology department in the police intelligence force.

His pregnant wife Hadas, 28, was moderately injured in the attack. One of their sons, a 9-year-old who was in a second vehicle, was wounded by shrapnel. He was operated on overnight Monday, and released on Tuesday.

What a tragic loss for the family and for the country as a whole. May Hashem avenge the death of Baruch Mizrachi HY’D and bring comfort to his family and friends.

The IDF meanwhile are scouring the village of Idhna from where the terrorist emerged. Despite the fact that the victim was a senior police officer, it is doubtful he was deliberately targeted because his was not the only car that was shot at:

According to an eyewitness, at around 6:00 p.m. a man dressed in black, wearing a helmet on his head, opened fire with an AK-47 rifle at cars passing by, Channel 10 reported. Two cars were struck but managed to flee, after which the Modi’in family was struck by the gunfire.

Shots were also fired at an IDF position near the Tarqumiyah checkpoint. No injuries were reported in that incident.

Binyamin Netanyahu was absolutely right when he laid the blame squarely at the door of the Palestinians for their anti-Israel incitement. The PA didn’t even offer a pro-forma condemnation of the shooting:

As security forces continued their hunt for the perpetrators of the Passover eve attack that killed senior Israeli police officer Baruch Mizrahi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the Palestinian Authority for the “reprehensible” attack, blasting it for failing to condemn the fatal shooting.

Speaking on Tuesday evening, the prime minister said the attack was a result of Palestinian incitement against Israel, which continued in the form of the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to denounce the killing.

“This reprehensible murder of a man who was traveling with his family to a meal for the Festival of Freedom is the result of the incitement for which the Palestinian Authority is responsible,” Netanyahu said.

The blog This Ongoing War (written by the parents of Malki Roth, killed at the Sbarro terrorist attack in 2001) addresses the international media attention (or lack of it) as well as Palestinian incitement (some emphases are added):

To this hour. relatively little media attention (for example, at the BBC) has been given outside Israel to the killing – coming as it has on the twelfth anniversary of the Park Hotel Seder Night massacre in Netanya - or its impact on terrorism-addicted Palestinian Arab society. Two American newspapers are notable exceptions.

The Los Angeles Times wrote that two of the three major terrorist forces in the Palestinian Arab sphere, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both “praised the attack but did not take responsibility for it“.

And the NY Daily News ["Hamas praises shooting that killed Israeli man, wounded his wife and son"] quotes Ismail Haniyeh, the “prime minister” of the Gaza Strip saying the murder “brought back life to the path of resistance” against Israel. He warned Israelis to expect more of the same from Palestinian Arabs, and particularly in “the West Bank [which] will be the future point of our struggle with the enemy.] We believe him.

As for the third of the major terrorist groups, Fatah, and its nominal head, Mahmoud Abbas (marking the tenth year of his four-year term as ‘democratically’ elected president of the PA), there are reports of anger among Israeli sources at their failure to condemn the assault.

We strongly prefer to ignore that genre of strictly-for-the-Western-media play-acting. Mealy-mouthed, plainly insincere expressions of Arab protest have a long and nasty history. One of Yasser Arafat’s bodyguards, Muhammad Al-Daya, shed a little light on the rules of that pathetic condemnation-of-terror charade just a fortnight ago in an interview with the BBC.

As with the thugs from Hamas and Islamic Jihad when they speak in Arabic on matters pertaining to terror, the terrorists ought to believed.

Palestinians riot on the Temple Mount

That same official Palestinian incitement is what leads the Arabs to believe that the Jews have no historical ties to the Temple Mount and no right to pray there. This inevitably gives rise to riots on the Temple Mount aimed at preventing Jews from exercising their inalienable rights to free worship at Judaism’s holiest site.

However, instead of actively confronting this incitement and terror in a similar manner to the IDF hunting down terrorists, the Israel police prefer a quiet life, and simply close off the site to Jews in order to avoid provoking the ever-seething Arab street.  Unfortunately for them, there are occasions, such as Jewish festivals, when Jewish prayer cannot be prevented. This morning another Arab riot erupted on the Temple Mount and the police had to use force to restore order:

According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the violence began as officers stationed at Mughrabi Gate unlocked the passageway at approximately 7:45 a.m.

“Police units immediately went to the top of the mount and used stun grenades to secure the scene,” he said.”Officers stayed there for an hour to ensure order and visitation continued as scheduled.”Rosenfeld said there were no injuries reported and arrests are expected later in the day.

The violence comes three days after two police officers sustained light injuries upon opening the Temple Mount’s Mughrabi Gate entrance for visitation, when a throng of Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at them.

According to police, the violence began shortly before 8 a.m. on Sunday, when two petrol bombs and a barrage of rocks were hurled at the officers without provocation.

“Riot control units were promptly dispersed to the Temple Mount, where non-lethal stun grenades were used to disperse the rioters,” said Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld shortly after the incident.

Rosenfeld said the two officers were treated at an area hospital, and have since been released. At least two arrests were made before the holy site was temporary closed down, he added.

“Security assessments were made following the incident and it was decided to limit visitation to prevent any further disruptions,” said Rosenfeld.

The contested holy site was opened later Sunday afternoon for restrictive visitation to avert more violence, he said.

[...]
Although the Supreme Court upheld Jewish prayer rights there, the court allows police to prevent any form of worship if it believes such activity will incite a “disturbance to public order.”

Just as we are disappointed in the American authorities having turned a blind eye to the violent proclivities of Glen Miller Cross, so too we should be furious at our own police and judicial system for caving in to the incitement and violence of the Palestinians, especially at our holiest site.

To remind you of those word in the headline, here is the paragraph we read at the Seder:

והיא שעמדה לאבותינו ולנו
שלא אחד בלבד עמד עלינו לכלותנו
אלא שבכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותנו
והקדוש ברוך הוא מצילנו מידם

And in English:

And this (G-d’s promise) is what stood by our forefathers and us,
for not only one person stood against us to destroy us;
but in every generation they stand against us to destroy us,
and the Holy One Blessed be He saves us from their hand. 

Here is the song performed by Yaakov Shweky and Yonatan Razel:

Posted in Antisemitism, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Chag Kasher Vesame’ach – Happy Pesach

The Seder plate, Matza, wine and the Hagaddah

This blog is going on semi-vacation over the next week during the Pesach (Passover) festival until after the chag (it finishes on the night of 21st April).  If you would like to learn more about Pesach, have a look at Aish’s website or Chabad.

Not only has every Jewish housewife (and house-husband) over-exerted themselves with Pesach cleaning; the Kotel too has undergone its annual Pesach cleaning:

As elsewhere in Israel, the people responsible for the Kotel (Western Wall) are getting ready for Passover by doing a general cleaning – in their case, of the notes that have been stuffed into the cracks of the Kotel by the millions who visit it every year.

In a custom that has become universal – with non-Jews, as well as Jews, writing out prayers that are “left” in the wall for G-d to address – the wall is filled with notes of all sizes and shapes, all containing pleas for good health, happy families, and myriad other needs. According to Jewish tradition, a prayer rendered at the Kotel – the wall outside the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount – has a special power.

Kotel-cleaning device for Pesach

To make way for the new notes, the management of the Kotel – which is headed by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Rabbi of the Kotel and the Holy Places in Israel – removes the notes every year before Passover. The notes are then taken to a special site in the Mount of Olives cemetery, where they are stored.

The notes were removed Sunday wth a special device that is capable of picking up the small notes that are stuffed into the crevices of the Kotel.

We’ll be having a full house for Seder with our son + 5 kids, and our daughter and son-in-law. And my parents for lunch the next day as well! Luckily we’ll be able to recover over the rest of the festival, perhaps with some day trips to Jerusalem and other beauty spots. On the other hand we might end up with some more “slavery”, helping our son and his family unpack in their new home. :-)

For your Pesach enjoyment, here is a very funny video by the Israeli religious comedy team Underdoss (doss being the self-denigrating name for religious) about the travails of getting rid of and burning the chametz the day before Pesach.

I would like to wish all my readers, along with all of Klal Yisrael, a chag kasher ve’sameach – a happy and Kosher Passover. May we all merit to celebrate in rebuilt Jerusalem “speedily in our days” as we say in the Seder.

!חג שמח

לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה

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Israel prepares for action against Iran

The US’s delusional optimism about achieving a deal with Iran

There have been some interesting developments in Israel’s security sector which gives rise to opinions that Israel is preparing for action against Iran.

The evident reason for Israel’s preparations is the US’s headlong rush to a nuclear deal with Iran, irrespective of the program’s dimensions. First we hear the bumbling fool John Kerry freely admit:

Iran was likely about two months away from being able to produce enough material for one nuclear bomb, though would not necessarily have the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon.

Then we hear more (Via War Sclerotic), about the US’s desperation to achieve a deal, any deal, with Iran. As Debka reports:

Iran and the six world powers embarked Tuesday, April 8, on two days of negotiations in Vienna for a final and comprehensive nuclear accord, with both the US and Iran resolved start drafting the document for resolving the long-running dispute in mid-May. debkafile reports that in its haste for progress, the Obama administration has set aside consideration of the Iranian nuclear program’s military dimensions. As a senior Israeli security official put it: “The Americans are ready to take Tehran’s assurance that its program is purely peaceful at face value.”

Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday, April 7 in a brief comment that what concerns Israel is that the negotiations have not so far addressed Iran’s nuclear weapons program or delivery systems – a reference its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

[...]

His comment also paled compared with the sharp exchanges between Israel’s defense chiefs and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs, during his three-day visit last week. Those exchanges brought to the surface the profound US-Israeli differences on the state of Iran’s nuclear program and the scope of its threat. When he visited Riyadh on March 28, President Barack Obama tried to reassure Saudi King Abdullah that “the United States would not accept a bad nuclear deal with Iran.”

Gen. Dempsey too sought to allay Israel’s fears about the final nuclear accord under discussion between the six world powers and Iran.

Neither Riyadh nor Jerusalem was convinced. They agreed to couch their rift with Washington diplomatically as “tactical differences.” But the Saudis and Israelis also agreed to continue working together on the Iranian nuclear question.

No sooner had Obama departed Riyadh and Dempsey Jerusalem, than a US spokesman issued an upbeat  statement that no second interim nuclear accord would be necessary after the one signed last November, and there was no bar to getting down to drafting the final accord document and have it ready for signing by July 20.

This optimism seemed to have no visible rationale, but the Iranians saw their chance of a fast deal for major sanctions relief.

American delusional optimism saw no problem even with Russia’s malign influence over the proceedings:

Washington also brushed aside the warning heard form Russia’s senior negotiator Sergey Ryabkov that Moscow might “take the path of counter-measures” on Iran if pushed too far on Ukraine. On arrival in Vienna, he said stiffly that Russia not involved in the Iran talks “to please the Americans or Iranians” but because it “meets the national interest” to find a solution. But, he added, Russia has no special expectations from this round of talks.

The standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine cast a heavy cloud over the Vienna meeting. But Washington refused to be put off its diplomatic stroke by this impasse, or even the mammoth $50 billion barter deal  Moscow and Iran are near closing for Iran to sell Russian 550,000 barrels of oil per day in lieu of various Russian goods, including foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals.

Against this very worrying background of America’s going for appearance over substance, ignoring the harsh realities of the Middle East, it is reassuring to know that Israel has just launched a new spy satellite, the Ofek 10:

The Defense Ministry and Israeli Aircraft Industries launched a spy satellite into orbit from Palmahim Air Base on Wednesday night.

The satellite, called Ofek 10, uses radar systems for observation.

It was carried into space by a Shavit (“Comet”) launch vehicle.

It soon entered orbit, and is scheduled to undergo a series of checks to ensure that key functions are working correctly.

The SAR (Synthetic aperture radar) satellite has advanced day and night photography capabilities, and will work in all weather conditions, the Defense Ministry said.

The launch was jointly carried out by IAI and the Defense Ministry’s Space Administration, which is a part of the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure.

Debkafile asserts that the timing of the satellite launch was no coincidence – it was in response to the Americans’ refusal to deal with Iran’s acceleration of its nuclear program.

Also this week, the Israel Air Force welcomed the arrival of a new ‘Samson’ C-130J Super Hercules squadron:

The C-130J Super Hercules enhances the IAF’s long-range capabilities which include airborne supply, transportation of troops and cargo, aerial refueling for helicopters and planes, electronic warfare, maritime patrol and special operations.

Over the past year, squadron members have trained in Italy and in the United States in order to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the aircraft and its capabilities.

This is the first ‘Samson’ C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to join the newly established ‘Samson’ squadron. More are scheduled to arrive in July 2014 and over the course of 2015.

The Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benjamin (Benny) Gantz, spoke at the ceremony: “Today we mark a new peak in the IDF’s capabilities. Over its 50 years of service, Hercules planes took part in military aid missions, civilian, and humanitarian operations. The “Samson” aircraft joining the IAF today is an innovative and revolutionary addition to our forces. This type of aircraft gives the IDF extended operational flexibility and strengthens our long range capabilities, making us more accurate and powerful than ever. The progressive systems the “Samson” aircraft is equipped with will allow us to execute more complex operations than in the past- we will be able to operate faster, in all weather conditions, in greater distance, in lower altitude and in maximum discretion.”

New Super Hercules jet for the IAF

Here are more interesting details about this aircraft:

The IAF purchased the long version of the Hercules C-130J from Lockheed- Martin which allows for an improved carrying capacity: instead of 64  paratroopers the short version can carry, the Hercules C-130J can accommodate in its cargo hold 94 paratroopers and their equipment. Alternatively, the cargo hold can accommodate four military SUVs instead of three, or transport 128 soldiers.

More importantly, the range of flight for the “Samson” is nearly 4,000 km, allowing the IAF to neutralize all threats, both near and far.

[...]

The 4,000 km range of the new Super Hercules jet

Now that the “Samson” has arrived in Israel, many more computer systems designed by Israel will be added to the plane. These Israeli systems will assist the “Samson” in its jobs of transportation of troops, rescue, and efficient and safe supply.

The mid-air refueling ability of IAF aircraft will be easier than ever before with the coming of the “Samson.” “The ‘Samson’ has the ability to fly closer to other aircraft in order to supply gasoline, making much easier this delicate operation,” said Colonel A.

With its great holding capacity and technological innovation, this new giant of the skies will bring a major strategic advantage, which will strengthen the IDF’s ability to carry out its mission of protecting Israel’s borders and citizens.

It is slightly ironic to note that the aircraft was purchased from the United States. Therefore an American product will be assisting Israel in combatting the very country, Iran, which the United States themselves are so reluctant to confront.

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Good News Friday

This past week has been a rather difficult one for Israel, and yet, as always, we can find plenty of good news to brighten our Shabbat, so here is my latest Good News Friday installment.

The first item will be a must for everyone who owns a smartphone – The StoreDot charger that charges a phone in 30 seconds!

The company produces “nanodots” derived from bio-organic material that, due to their size, have increased electrode capacitance and electrolyte performance, enabling batteries to be charged in minutes.

The multifunctional nanodots are chemically synthesized bio-organic peptide molecules that change the rules of mobile device capabilities. The nanocrystals are made from peptides – short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. StoreDot’s bio-organic devices, such as smartphone displays, provide much more efficient power consumption, and are eco-friendly. While other nanodot and quantum-dot technologies currently in use are heavy metal based and often toxic, StoreDot nanodots are biocompatible.

Based in Ramat Gan, StoreDot bio-organic innovators are developing and commercializing peptide-based technology based on their discovery of self-assembled nanodots of biological origin. The company aims to develop cost-effective, nature-inspired, environmentally friendly technology.

Watch the charger in action:

What an incredible invention! I can just picture the lines outside the store the minute the charger becomes commercially available. And the fact that they’re “green” too is all the more impressive. Kol hakavod to the innovators at StoreDot. I hope they enjoy huge success.

One dead jellyfish – one potential diaper?

Another Israeli technological innovation is turning jellyfish into paper towels!

Cine’al Ltd., an Israeli nanotechnology start-up, is developing technology to turn jellyfish into “super-absorbers,” making the much-disdained sea creature suitable for use in diapers, tampons, medical sponges, even paper towels.

[...]

Unlike most sea creatures, jellyfish are mostly useless. Some species are eaten in the Far East and mucin, a chemical extracted from the creatures, is used in drug delivery systems. For the most part, they’re useless, even dangerous, pests, as jellyfish swarm not only near beaches, but near intake pipes as well, often clogging them up. This happened last November in Sweden, when jellyfish got into the pipes and clogged up the water intake systems of a nuclear power generator in Sweden, forcing it to shut down.

Cine’al sees a potential use for the scourge. Hydromash, the dry, flexible, strong material Cine’al is developing, is made from jellyfish and is allegedly several times more absorbent than the “quicker picker-upper” paper towels from the popular TV commercials.

“Right now, these items are made of synthetics, which take hundreds and thousands of years to break down,” said Ofer Du-Nour, chairman and president of Cine’al and head of investment firm Capital Nano. The latter invests in early-stage nanotechnology companies that are based on research emerging from Israeli universities.

[...]

The result is a product that absorbs several times its volume, bio-degrades in less than 30 days and can compete with SAP on price, Du-Nour said. It’s perfectly safe, he added, and offers a potential to clear up landfills and clear the oceans of the endless swarms of jellyfish, which can now be seen as commodities worth harvesting instead of pests.

Just thinking about it makes me feel sick but if they can get rid of those revolting creatures, more power to them!  As CEO Du-Nour says:

“There are too many jellyfish in the sea, and too many Pampers in landfills. Cine’al may have the ultimate answer to both those issues.”



Kol Hakavod to Cine’al and Du-Nour for having the imagination to even think of using jellyfish for such an enterprising innovation. Once again, we find Israelis at the forefront of improving the environment.  I’m sure we all wish them every success.

Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, winner of the 2014 season of ‘Master Chef’ on April 5, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

My next item is from a different field altogether. Putting the lie to accusations of apartheid, the winner of Israel’s Master Chef competition is an Israeli Arab woman who is also a highly-qualified microbiologist and mother of three.

When Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, a 33-year-old Israeli Arab, clinched the title of Master Chef on Saturday night, it was all part of a plan. The mother of three, a trained microbiologist with a PhD and a thriving scientific career, has for years been looking for a way to leverage her love of cooking and her passion for peace into a school where Jews and Arabs can cook alongside each other and literally taste a better future for this country. A native of the Israeli Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, she says she entered the Master Chef competition to make that dream a reality.

[...]

Where did you learn to cook?

I started joining my grandma when I was four years old. I used to sit on the counter in the kitchen and just get involved and watch my grandma really closely. I learned all the basics of Arabic cooking from her. And then my mom, she was much more modern, she used to buy all these cookbooks and I started reading them. She exposed me to other cuisines by buying these books, and a lot of times she would translate them for me because my Hebrew wasn’t yet all that good.

And then I took my own personality into the food. I am bold, I don’t care, I will do things and I have the guts to make twists with food. I’m not afraid to make changes.

[...]

Were you worried that being a minority, you would be discriminated against?

It’s a very fair competition. If I didn’t know how to cook, I am sure that I would have gone home in the very early stages. This is a cooking show and the judges are actually tasting and criticizing the food. They give you a chance to prove yourself and if you’re talented enough, you can win. It’s a very fair competition.

[...]

Now that you’ve won and can plan your cooking school, what will it be like?

I have always believed deeply, as have my husband and family, that the only way to have a better future for our children in this country is to teach them to live together. The inspiration for the school was my son’s school [The Hand in Hand school where Jewish and Arab children study together in bilingual classrooms], and I was always really inspired by the community there. At celebrations of different holidays, parents come, bring their food, and exchange recipes. I thought it was a very nice idea to do that in a school for cooking.

I want the school to be in a mixed area, and it will teach different cuisines. People can share a curiosity for learning and for food, and they will sit together and work in pairs, and as they cook you’ll have a chance of creating friendships between people.

It’s a scientific fact that food causes joy. So there will be a good atmosphere there, and it will be an easy way to create friendships between different kinds of people.

What wonderful news both for Mrs. Atamna-Ismaeel and for Israeli society. Would that all Israel’s Arab citizens feel similarly about living in peace with and Israel.   Kol hakavod to Nof Atamna-Ismaeel on her win and kol hakavod for her plans for her future.

Tourists at the Kotel (Western Wall) in the Old City of Jerusalem

My next item brings us the excellent news that a top tourist site, Trip Advisor, has placed Jerusalem as no. 4 on its list of its 10 “destinations on the rise”:

TripAdvisor put the capital in fourth place in a list of the “top ten destinations on the rise” worldwide.

The announcement came as Israel’s Tourism Ministry announced record-breaking numbers of tourists in the country for the first quarter of 2014.

Among the reasons listed by TripAdvisor to visit the city are its “profound cultural and historical significance.”

“The year 2014 began with the momentum of a record-breaking year for incoming tourism in 2013,” said Tourism Minister Uzi Landau.

Some 302,000 visitors came to Israel during March and 776,000 tourists arrived since the beginning of the year, an increase of 3% over the same period in 2013. The first quarter figures have steadily increased over the past three years, the ministry noted.

The Tourism Ministry reported in January that 2013 saw a record number of tourists coming to the country, and that Jerusalem was the most-visited city.

According to the figures a record 3.54 million tourists entered the country in 2013, half a percent more than in 2012.

Jerusalem saw 75% of tourists passing through it during their trips to Israel. The most-visited site was the Western Wall, with 68% of tourists stopping there.

What a fantastic boost to Jerusalem and Israel’s tourism figures, which will be sure to promote Israel’s standing in the world as well.  Let the boycotters eat dust! The tourists keep flooding in!

I want to thank reader Reality for the last 3 links in this week’s installment.

photoTo finish this week’s edition I want to wish my dear hubby Mazal Tov on his 60th birthday. Many happy returns עד מאה ועשרים (until 120). I can’t believe I’m married to an almost pensioner! :-)  We had an impromptu party at our house a couple of days ago with all our children – but without the grandchildren since it’s a minute before Pesach and the house is upside down.

I also want to wish our son and his family בשעה טובה on finally moving into their new house in their Shomron community. The house has been over 2 years in the building, courtesy of Obama and his cursed freeze, but now it’s finished. May they live many long, happy and fruitful years in their beautiful house, and as the Jewish tradition of bringing bread (or Matza since it’s nearly Pesach), salt and candles to a new house illustrates, may they always have food, money and light in their house.

And with all that good news, may we all have a good rest so that we come back refreshed, ready to tackle the last-minute Pesach preparations.

Shabbat shalom everyone!

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