Good News Friday

Another week has flown by and it’s time for my latest Good News Friday installment.

An OTI WAVE system attached to a Samsung smartphone

We’ll start this week’s post with the very latest hot-off-the-press news from Apple, whose latest development has made one Israeli firm into a big winner:

An Israeli company is poised to cash in on one of the new products and technologies Apple just announced. Its Apple Pay system is ideal for Rosh Pina-based On-Track Solutions (oti), a major player in the mobile wallet business. With Apple announcing that a new NFC (near-field communication) solution for mobile payments will be built into the new iPhone 6, 6+ and Apple Watch, oti said that it would bring the same capabilities to older iPhones, via add-on hardware.

That was enough for investors to bid up the price of oti’s shares on the NASDAQ, and oti stock was up some 75% at one point Wednesday before settling down by the end of the trading day.

Although less “glitzy” than the hardware products announced by Apple at a conference Tuesday, like Apple Watch and iPhone 6, Apple Pay may yet have as big an impact as other Apple devices.

Another oti solution for iPhones is the company’s NFC Insert, comprised of a thin film NFC antenna that connects to the iPhone operating system via the SIM card. The antenna folds onto the backside of the iPhone, where it is protected by any standard case. Several mobile operators around the world are currently piloting this product, which oti calls “cleverly unobtrusive.”

“With the launch of Apple’s iPhone 6, the oti WAVE becomes the leading cost-effective solution for existing iPhone and iPad models that enables secure NFC payment transactions,” said oti’s CEO, Ofer Tziperman. “Apple’s adoption of NFC technology is a strong validation of our long-term vision and investment in NFC technology, as well as that of our partners and business customers,” he said.

Here’s a short video of the NFC technology:

Kol hakavod to OTI on their clever developments and mazal tov on their success. Let’s see the BDS bigots try to boycott Apple! :-)

LOOK – the eyeglass tracker

Another Israeli technological product is bound to be of enormous advantage to a huge number of people - LOOK, the smart tracker to find your glasses!

Anyone who wears glasses knows the disaster of misplacing your specs. Not only do you spend hours frantically  turning over every single thing in your house, but you do so blindly because, without your glasses, you can’t see a thing.

If you know all to well what we’re talking about, then you will probably be happy to hear about the LOOK glasses locator. Launched as an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that is hoping to raise $50,000, the tiny LOOK chip easily attaches to most any pair of glasses to help the user locate them with a Bluetooth-connected device. Created by CEO Dafna Ariely (the mom of the bestselling author of Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely) after she couldn’t find her own glasses, LOOK is the smallest attachable glasses locator that’s hoping to shake up the market.

You may be thinking to yourself—someone has to have thought of this already—but the truth is that LOOK is the first Bluetooth-connected and fashion-conscious glasses tracker that fits on the arm of most glasses. The user is able to track their glasses with an application that causes the chip to beep, informing the user when they are approaching the mystery location of their glasses. According to the creators, the chip is so light that it doesn’t add additional weight to the glasses, measuring only 35 mm long and 10 mm wide.

Watch the video to see how LOOK works:

What a brilliant idea! As a glasses-wearer since the age of 2 (!) I am forever losing my glasses. As they say in the article, I need my glasses to find my glasses. This device will save me hours of frustrated searching and temporary blind-as-a-batness.

Kol hakavod to the Arielys for coming up with this ingenious device. I hope their Indiegogo crowd-sourcing brings them in enough funding to mass-produce the LOOK. I know I will be a devoted customer!

Naomi Elishuv plays her violin

I’ll conclude this post with a wonderful heart-warming story from Israel’s bio-medical field: Israeli neuro-surgery helped a world-renowned violinist regain her ability to play after suffering from hand tremors for decades:

Israeli neurosurgeons at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center helped former world-renowned violinist Naomi Elishuv overcome hand tremors to regain the ability to perform, in a remarkable surgery that had Elishuv playing Mozart while they operated on her brain.

“This is the first time ever that I have performed brain surgery on a person who played the violin during the operation,” said Professor Itzhak Fried, Sourasky’s director of functional neurosurgery.

According to Fried, the surgeons implanted a brain pacemaker with electrodes in the area of Elishuv’s brain that was the source of the hand tremors which prevented her from playing, and the electrodes emitted impulses to suppress the tremors.

“It’s a shame that I didn’t know about this operation before,” said Elishuv, who was forced to give up playing the violin nearly two decades ago. “Now I’m going to live again.”

Watch Naomi Elishuv play Mozart before and during surgery below:

At the end of the video the doctor asks Naomi how she is feeling. She answers “I’m controlling” – meaning she can control the bow.

What a fantastic story! Kol hakavod to the neuro-surgeons who performed this delicate operation. We wish Naomi Elishuv a full recovery and may she continue to entertain us with her violin for many years to come.

And on this note I wish you all Shabbat shalom!

Posted in Israel news, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The land theft that wasn’t

Panoramic view of Gush Etzion

Israel is once more in the dock of international opinion, accused of land theft, land grabbing, illegal settlement building, expansionism, imperialism and global warming. OK, I made that last one up.

The “crime” was (as I mentioned in my post of last week) the designation of 4000 dunams of empty land as “state land” making it now possible for Israel to build on it.

A quick recap of the salient points:

The IDF on Sunday conferred the status of state land on 4,000 dunams in the Gush Etzion region, thus ending the civil administration’s investigation into the possibility that parcels were private Palestinian property.

The new designation for an area known as Gevaot opens the door for settlers to advance plans to build a fifth city in the West Bank on those dunams.

There is a 45-day period for objections to be raised. The land had previously been listed as survey land, a designation that prevented settlers and the army from moving building plans through the planning system.

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said that it had acted under guidelines from the senior political echelon, issued after the end of the IDF’s mission Brother’s Keeper, to return the bodies of three teenagers Hamas terrorists kidnapped and killed in June.

Gush Etzion, the southern gateway to Jerusalem (from Israelstreet blog (click to enlarge)

As I also mentioned in my post, the chances of something actually being built any time soon are pretty low, as the Israelstreet blog describes the Farce at Gva’ot:

1. In 1982, the then Israeli cabinet approved developing the site as an IDF base.

2. In 1984, the IDF actually created the base and stayed there until 1996 at which time it closed the base.

3. In 1996, the Shvut Yeshiva (in which the 3 Israeli teenagers studied) began using the modular buildings left behind by the IDF as its home. The yeshiva has remained in place until today.

4. In 1998, the Gush Etzion Regional Council developed plans to build a 6000 home city where the base had been located.

5. In 2000, the Regional Council abandoned the plans.

6. In 2008, the Regional Council resurrected the plans and petitioned the government in 2009 for action following the collapse of the Annapolis Peace Talks.

7. In 2012, the Israel Defense Ministry finally acted and authorized the construction of 523 houses.

8. In 2013, the Israel Defense Ministry froze the project.

9. Two months ago, in response to the murders of the teenagers, the Gush Etzion Regional Council renewed its call for development.

10. All of which brings us to yesterday’s decision, and the fact that all those opposed to the decision have 45 days to appeal.

Nevertheless, as mentioned above, international opinion is outraged.  However all that calumny, condemnation and contumely pointed at Israel is completely misplaced, as we shall see below.

Jerold Auerbach in the Algemeiner asks:  To settle or not, that is the question and gives us a potted history of Gush Etzion:

… The Etzion bloc, located between Jerusalem and Hebron, currently comprises 18 communities with nearly 40,000 residents. Its modern origins are traceable to 1927, when Yemenite immigrants and ultra-Orthodox Jews established “Migdal Eder,” named after the biblical site (mentioned in Genesis 35:21) where Jacob pitched his tent after burying Rachel. Destroyed during the violent Arab riots of 1929, when the ancient Jewish community in nearby Hebron was also decimated, it was rebuilt between 1943 and 1947, only to be demolished yet again by marauding Arabs on the eve of Israel’s independence. More than 200 Jewish residents, who fought valiantly to the bitter end, were massacred. By Knesset decree, the day Gush Etzion fell became – and remains – the day of remembrance for Israeli soldiers killed in military action.

Following the Six-Day War, Hanan Porat, a child survivor of the Gush Etzion carnage, was determined to restore his vanquished community. Impelled by the politics of memory, he joined Rabbi Moshe Levinger and lawyer Elyakim Haetzni in urging “a Jewish vengeance of building, rebirth and return” in Hebron and Gush Etzion. Their resolute efforts were crowned with success. But in the eyes of the world (including myopic secular Israelis), the current Jewish inhabitants of these ancient Jewish communities are “settlers,” illegally occupying “Palestinian” land. In fact, like their ardent Zionist predecessors ever since the 19th century, they have returned to the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

Arlene Kushner similarly explains why Israel can allocate 1000 acres for housing (via Daled Amos):

The land in question is largely in Gush Etzion, a bloc of Jewish communities south east of Jerusalem that is solidly tied to Israel’s history – and to the modern history of Jews in the Land even before the founding of Israel.  See:

It is unthinkable that this area would ever be part of a “Palestinian state,” and the notion that building here would render the “two state solution” impossible is unmitigated nonsense.

It is simply that the world has decided we have no rights to land beyond what is referred to as the “pre-1967 border” but is in fact a 1949 temporary armistice line.  An irrational fixation with that “Palestinian state” persists at all costs.  A fixation that we must counter.

In point of fact, the Oslo II Interim Agreement, as elucidated in a briefing by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “established a division of the West Bank into three areas: Area A, where the Palestinians had full control, Area B where there was mixed Israeli and Palestinian security control but full Palestinian civil control, and Area C, where Israel had full military and civilian control. Israeli responsibilities in Area C included the power of zoning and planning.  The territory which Israel declared as state land is within Area C.” (Emphasis added)


Oslo aside for the moment, matters of land allocation in Judea and Samaria are complicated precisely because Israel has not annexed the area. There is a layering of laws going back to the pre-Mandate Ottoman period; the Mandate period (1922 – 1948), when Great Britain was the administrator; through the period of illegal Jordanian occupation (1949 – 1967; and since to the present with Israel as administrator.

Broadly, land in Judea and Samaria falls into one of three legal categories: state land, private land, and land whose status is to be determined. The area in question had the status of territory whose status is to be determined.  However, an investigation was required before the change of status to state land could be announced: That lengthy investigation, completed this summer, determined its status.  No private Arab ownership was uncovered. Now there will be a window of opportunity for those who might wish to contest this finding.  And as we are looking at a bureaucratic process, it will be some time before any actual building is done.

This, then, is what the furor is about.

Delving deeper into the legalities of the disputed territories, Elder of Ziyon points us to the article explaining that Everything you know about settlements is wrong:

Just as Israel was being denounced far and wide for settlement expansion, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released one of its regular reports on settlement activity. What it reveals is that Israel’s actual settlement construction pace has reached a historical low. Only 507 housing units were approved for construction by Netanyahu’s government in the first six months of 2014, a 71.9 percent decrease from the same period in 2013, with about one-third of those being built inside the major blocks that it is understood Israel will keep in any final status agreement. For a population of over 300,000 Israelis living in the West Bank, that pace of construction does not even allow for natural population growth, much less rapid expansion.

What’s Netanyahu doing? His government’s pattern in recent years is clear: build energetically in the major settlement blocks and in Jerusalem, while restraining growth beyond the West Bank security fence in areas that may become part of a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu doesn’t come out and say this clearly for a simple political reason: The settler lobby would condemn it and indeed is already threatening him with political revenge for restraining settlement growth. British and U.S. diplomats, as well as the American and European press, may be fooled by Palestinian and Peace Now complaints that Bibi is gobbling up Palestinian territory, but the settlers live in those places and know better — construction is slowing down.

At the end of the day, the annexation is a symbolic move. Those lands are going to remain Israel’s no matter what: They are populated by some 20,000 Israelis, adjacent to the pre-1967 border, and were recognized in previous negotiations as part of the areas Israel would keep and for which it would swap Israeli land elsewhere. Most recently, the leaked “napkin map” of the 2008 negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas marked all 1,000 acres as falling under eventual Israeli control.

At this point, the mindless refrain on settlement construction seems to have assumed a life of its own. But anyone who’s serious about addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should ignore the speeches and the rote condemnations, and study the numbers. The vast expansion of Israeli settlements in the future Palestinian state is simply not happening.

Oded Revivi, the Mayor of Efrat in Gush Etzion, is the right person to tell us that It’s time to learn the facts about Judea and Samaria:

 The recent furor surrounding the government’s decision to declare nearly 1,000 acres at Gvaot in Gush Etzion “State Land” is a classic example of the ignorance of history and law that governs most discussions of Israeli actions beyond the internationally hallowed “Green Line.” Media headlines around the world screamed about “annexation” and “land grab,” the Palestinian Authority declared it a “crime” and foreign ministries around the world have demanded the reversal of the decision. However, few articles, press releases or communiques mention the crux of the matter; the legal and historical status of the land in question.

Of course there is land privately owned by Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, what many call the “West Bank” in seeming deference to the Jordanian occupation, which invented the term as juxtaposition to its eastern bank. These areas, like privately owned territory anywhere in the world, cannot be touched unless there is very pressing reason for a government or sovereign power to do so. These areas, according to Ottoman and British records, constitute no more than a few percent of the total area, meaning the vast majority is not privately owned.

However, to contend that these territories are “Palestinian” on a national level is problematic. To claim an area belongs to a particular nation requires the territory to have belonged to that people, where they held some sort of sovereignty that was broadly recognized.

All of these criteria have been met historically by the Jewish people, and none by the Palestinians.

In fact, the Jewish people were provided with national rights in these territories not just by dint of history and past sovereignty, but also by residual legal rights contained in the League of Nations Mandate, which were never canceled and are preserved by the UN Charter, under Article 80 – the famous “Palestine Clause,” that was drafted, in part, to guarantee continuity with respect to Jewish rights from the League of Nations.

For the past almost 2,000 years, since the destruction of Jewish sovereignty and expulsion of most of its indigenous people, it remained an occupied and colonized outpost in the territory of many global and regional empires.

The Ottomans were the most recent to officially apportion the territory, in what they referred to as Ottoman Syria, which today incorporates modern-day Israel, Syria, Jordan and stretching into Iraq. Before The Ottoman Land Code of 1858, land had largely been owned or passed on by word of mouth, custom or tradition. Under the Ottomans of the 19th century, land was apportioned into three main categories: Mulk, Miri and Mawat.

Finally, Mawat was state or unclaimed land, not owned by private individuals nor largely cultivated. These areas made up almost two-thirds of all territory.

The area recently declared “State Land” by the Israeli government, a process which has been under an intensive ongoing investigation for many years, is Mawat land. In other words, it has no private status and is not privately owned.

Many claims to the territory suddenly arose during the course of the investigation, but all were proven to be unfounded on the basis of land laws.

Interestingly, it should be clearly understood by those who deem Judea and Samaria “occupied territory” that according to international law the occupying power must use the pre-existing land laws as a basis for claims, exactly as Israel has done in this case, even though Israel’s official position is that it does not see itself de jure as an occupying power in the legal sense of the term.

If none of the above convinces you, then maybe the threat of Hamas overpowering Fatah (who are not exactly tzaddikim themselves) and taking over the territories should give one pause for thought as Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Hamas says: give us the West Bank so that we can destroy Israel:

If the West Bank had one quarter of the weapons that the Gaza Strip has, Israel would be eliminated in one day. This is what Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told worshippers during a sermon he delivered on September 5.

Zahar, who, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, spent his time in hiding, was speaking during Friday prayers at Martyr Abdullah Azzam Mosque in Gaza City.

“If only the West Bank had one quarter of what Gaza has of resistance tools, the Israeli entity would end in one day,” Zahar declared, reiterating the claim that Hamas had scored a “big victory” in the war.

The Hamas leader went on to criticize those who still have doubts as to whether Israel could be destroyed.

“Those who were skeptical as to whether Palestine could be liberated are no longer doubtful after the enemy was hit from the Gaza Strip,” Zahar said. “Can you imagine what would happen if the enemy is targeted from the West Bank, which makes up 20% of the size of Palestine?”

Even the Iranians seem to think that the time has come to turn the West Bank into a launching pad for attacks on Israel.

During the war in the Gaza Strip, a senior Iranian commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohamed Reza Naqdi, announced that Tehran had plans to “arm Palestinians in the West Bank” in order to destroy Israel.

Naqdi boasted that the weapons used by Hamas and other Palestinian groups during the recent war had been manufactured and supplied by Iran.

The threats by Hamas and Iran regarding the West Bank show why it is critically important for Israel (and the Palestinian Authority) to insist on the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip as part of any long-term cease-fire agreement.

Even more significantly, these threats underline the need to keep the West Bank a demilitarized area in any future peace agreement, especially one that would see the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.

Moreover, these threats support Israel’s insistence on maintaining permanent security control over the border with Jordan. Without such a presence, Iranian-made weapons would easily find their way into the West Bank.

What Hamas and Iran are saying is that if and when Israel pulls back to the pre-1967 lines, they, together with other Palestinians, would bring weapons into the West Bank to achieve their goal of eliminating the “Zionist entity.”

Add to this toxic mix the threat of ISIS on our northern and eastern borders and Israel would be mad to consider giving up any of the territory up to the Jordan River.

And the world is not only mad, but evil to expect and demand Israel to do so.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The West lacks a strategy to tackle ISIS

The West’s confrontation with the imperialist barbaric ISIS terrorists is floundering, and the reason is chiefly because the West lacks any coherent strategy.

Daniel Pipes was interviewed for a magazine recently and gives us the transcript in a fascinating article in which he explains both how ISIS rose so quickly, where it gets its support from, and why the West is finding it so hard to tackle it.  In short, the West has no plan:

First, the insidious role of Turkey:

What role does the Turkish government play in this conflict?

It’s the primary backer of ISIS. Without Turkish support, ISIS would not be where it is. Qatar is important, too, as a major source of financial support, but Turkey provides more than that: arms, refuge, training and medical assistance. There are even reports of retired Turkish soldiers serving in ISIS.

But why should the Turkish government have any interest at all in encouraging problems along its own border?

Erdoğan had such close personal relations with Bashar al-Assad that he and his wife vacationed with the Assads. When the troubles began in early 2011, Erdoğan gave Assad (good) advice on how to respond. But Assad rejected Erdoğan’s views and Erdoğan, who has a volatile personality, responded with great anger. Since then, Erdoğan has done everything to bring down the Assad regime, including support for ISIS.

So it all boils down to the vanity of one man?

In large part, yes. Erdoğan dominates Turkish politics. Especially since the elections of 2011, he has done whatever he wishes.

Indeed, Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil, writing about anti-Jewish attitudes in Turkey at the Gatestone Institute, says that according to at least one Turkish judge, there are 44 million Zionists in Turkey!

… upon Erdogan’s election victory on March 30, he had written that, “The losers (at the ballot box) are Zionists and their conspirators.” Just imagine a Turkish Jew having a legal dispute with a Muslim Turk and facing this judge in the courtroom…

There was one problem, though, about the judge’s logic. If all of those Turks who do not love Erdogan are Zionists, election results show that there are nearly forty-four million Zionists in Turkey!

Returning to Pipes’ article:

Do you think that President Obama – or, for that matter, anyone else who holds power – has a plan to stop the jihadi forces in Iraq and Syria?

I see no plan. Western governments are sending arms, hoping that these go to the better – or less worse – elements in Syria, but that hardly constitutes a plan.

President Obama himself admitted (or proudly declared, I’m not sure of his standpoint) that “we don’t have a strategy yet“.  Considering that ISIS, or in its previous incarnation as assorted Jihadist groups, has been a known threat for years, it is incomprehensible and nothing short of a disgrace that the leader of the world’s only superpower didn’t have any strategy ready.

But the President made clear any plan to go after ISIS in Syria would take time and require a regional strategy. “We’re not going to do that alone,” he said.

Among the options Obama said he requested from the U.S. military were plans to make sure ISIS does not overrun Iraq.

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq are working, he said.

“The terrorists of (ISIS) are losing arms and equipment,” Obama said, and Iraqi and Kurdish forces are making inroads.

Map of ISIS, Syrian and Kurdish areas of control of Syria and Iraq

However Obama’s faith in the Kurds’ military prowess might be misplaced as Jonathan Spyer writes that the Kurds are having difficulty fighting ISIS although they confirm that US airstrikes helped them beat ISIS at Mosul Dam.

Today, not only the existence of Iraq is in jeopardy. So is the existence of the KRG itself, assailed by the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham (ISIS), whose harsh brand of Islam is terrifying locals and appalling the world.

A single war between ISIS and the Kurds is now under way, stretching along an enormous front line from Jalawla, near the Iraq-Iran border, all the way to Jarabulus on the frontier between Syria and Turkey.

ISIS has not forgotten Erbil. A terror campaign has begun here. There are mysterious explosions of a type familiar to residents of Iraqi cities further south. Last week, a car bomb ripped through a central neighbourhood, wounding several people.

But Kurdish forces are hunkering down, facing the jihadis with grim determination. With the help of U.S. air cover and Iraqi special fores, they are beginning to reconquer some of the areas lost. Most significantly, these include oilfields near Mosul, retaken this week, and the Mosul Dam, which provides water and electricity for much of northern Iraq.

The Kurds are well aware of what an ISIS victory would mean. After the jihadis took the Mount Sinjar area (Shinghal in Kurdish), they unleashed a series of atrocities that shocked even this most hardened of lands.

At the fly-blown Newroz refugee camp in northern Syria, Yezidi refugees described what happened when ISIS fighters appeared in their villages near the mountain and the peshmerga fled.

“We tried to withdraw all the women and kids from the village. People who could get to the mountains were safe, people who stayed were killed,” said Kawa, 30, who was lucky enough to escape with some of his family.

The refugees’ bitterness at their abandonment by the peshmerga remains raw and palpable. But still more tangible is the sense of stark horror as they recall the jihadis’ actions.

The peshmerga’s failure to hold the line at Sinjar was a shock, both for observers and inhabitants of Kurdish northern Iraq. Gen. Haraki blames it on the help afforded ISIS by local Sunni Arabs.

But the peshmerga’s initial failure was not only the product of local Sunni support for ISIS. These once-vaunted fighters had not taken part in combat for 20 years. Deprived of modern equipment by the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad and the West, which remains suspicious of Kurdish separatist ambitions, they found themselves outgunned and initially outfought by the jihadi blitzkrieg.

But, as the refugees’ testimony suggests, other Kurdish forces appeared at Mount Sinjar mountain — the ragged and formidable fighters of the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) militia from Syria and PKK guerrillas from Turkey.

Armed only with Kalashnikovs and light machine guns, but with much combat experience, these fighters succeeded in opening a road from Sinjar up to Jezza, Rumeilan and then to the refugee camp outside Derik. Tens of thousands of lives may have been saved because of this action.

ISIS has been notably unsuccessful in its efforts to make progress in this little-reported front of the Syrian war.

The opening of the corridor from Mount Sinjar was the most notable achievement yet for the YPG/PKK.

It indicates that, for all their undoubted fanaticism, the jihadis are not invincible and can be turned back when met by equal commitment and greater skill.

This puts the lie to Obama’s ridiculous statement (in the CNN article above) that:

… “the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS … is unrealistic,” Obama said, insisting that a strong, trusted Iraqi government is critical to ousting the Islamist terror group permanently.

Returning to Spyer’s article, he demonstrates precisely how wrong Obama is:

The opportunity, meanwhile, is that Kurdish sovereignty has already emerged as a more benign successor entity in a contiguous line across the old border — and Kurdish forces are today the only ones engaged in earnest against a savage force universally acknowledged to constitute an enemy of humanity.

Gen. Haraki’s statement that the break-up of Iraq represents the solution may well be heard more widely and insistently in the months ahead. This is a war to create new borders, and to hold back the advance of a savagery not seen in the Middle East for a generation.

A hypothetical map of a “new Levant” in the region of Iraq and Syria

Daniel Pipes agrees with Haraki’s estimation about the break-up of Iraq – and Syria:

Should US and European politicians acknowledge that the map of the Middle East could be reshaped, too?

The Middle East is being reshaped. There is no Syria, there is no Iraq, and there is virtually no border between Lebanon and Iran. Kurdish autonomous regions exist in both northern Iraq and north-eastern Syria. Western policy must indeed adjust to the new realities on the ground.

Unfortunately the West seems to be waking up much too slowly and too late to the dangers and new realities enumerated by Daniel Pipes. The Jihadis are already coming home to roost in Europe – or were created in Europe and exported themselves to the Middle East.

A still image from security camera footage of Nemmouche opening fire at the Jewish Museum in Brussels | Photo credit: EPA

For example, the French terrorist who shot up the Jewish Museum in Brussels earlier this year, killing 4 people including 2 Israelis, has been fingered by a French journalist as the captor who held him hostage in Syria and tortured him:

The reporter, Nicolas Henin, said he recognized Mehdi Nemmouche from video shown to him as part of an investigation. He did not elaborate on the nature of the probe, but mentioned that “a judicial procedure” had been launched while he was still a hostage.

“After the arrest of Mehdi Nemmouche I have been shown a few audiovisual documents that allowed me to recognize him formally,” Henin, who was freed on April 20 along with three other French journalists, told a news conference.

He said Nemmouche beat him and although he wasn’t sure if other Western hostages received the same treatment, he heard Syrian prisoners being tortured in the same building.

However, despite the greater number of Muslims living in France than anywhere else, it appears that Britain is Jihad Central (Londonistan as Melanie Phillips put it), and is only now (h/t Henry) waking up to the dangers:

On Monday last week British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed legislation to prevent citizens who joined the Islamic State and other terrorist groups from re-entering Britain to “wreak havoc.” His proposal followed the Aug. 19 release of a video showing a jihadist who spoke with a British accent appearing to behead American journalist James Foley. One day after Mr. Cameron’s announcement, the Islamic State posted a video showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff, ostensibly by the same Briton.

The jihadist’s nationality shocked Britain and the world. It shouldn’t have. Scotland Yard estimates that at least 500 Britons have traveled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State. British-born terrorists have been the most numerous, violent and influential of European jihadists since well before 9/11.

Why Britain? The reasons include the nation’s tradition as a sanctuary for dissidents; a defendant-friendly judiciary; a law-enforcement system with few Muslim informants; a profligate version of multiculturalism; and the misfortune of having Pakistan as the main source of Muslim immigrants.

…the U.K. takes pride in multiculturalism. But as Amartya Sen, the Nobel-laureate economist, puts it, what Britain has is “plural monoculturalism.” This does not promote the mixing of different cultures in a national culture, but rather focuses on preserving cultural identity.

Britain has fewer Muslims than France or Germany, yet its jihadists exceed the number in those countries.

Nowhere else in Europe have authorities felt the need to release a jihadist head count, but in confidential briefings no Belgian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish security official offered me estimates at a fraction of British appraisals. Britain possesses a deeply rooted and insular radical Islam culture. This is why British investigators are having such a tough time identifying the murderer of the two Americans and why British tweets praising the killings abound.

America has to face up to its responsibility as a world superpower – whether it likes it or not – to provide logistical, military, humanitarian and political support to the opponents of ISIS and its Jihadist allies, even if they have to turn up their nose at the idea of an independent Kurdistan.

Update (h/t Elchanan): Israel is rumoured to have been supplying intelligence data to the US and its allies for the campaign against ISIS.

Europe too has to confront the Jihadists in its midst and tackle their ideology and their malign influence amongst the genuinely peaceful Muslims.

If they don’t live up to these expectations we can look forward to ISIS taking control of huge swathes of the Middle East, including oil reserves, destablising the entire region.

Posted in Defence and Military, Mideast news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sunday morning videos: Israel advocacy

Here are three great videos about Israel advocacy which you should watch:

I wrote about Matti Friedman’s searing essay slamming the international media for their anti-Israel bias and one-eyed view of the Middle East conflict. It was a long essay, excellently written and very well-worth the read.  But if you didn’t have the time to read it through you can now watch (via Israellycool) a 5 minute clip of Friedman explaining his thesis on CNN, a prime culprit:

Another indefatigable defender of Israel is Melanie Phillips who spoke last week at an Honest Reporting conference in Jerusalem. Here she is in a (1 hour long!) video on how Western Jewry is paying the price for Gaza:

And in case all of that was not enough, here is American commentator Bill Whittle (whom I got to hear about via the Conservative Kitchen Table blog) making the case for Israel, as the video’s blurb says:

makes the historical and moral case for Israel, and shows just who, indeed, are the tyrants and aggressors in the Middle East

All the speakers above make Israel’s case so clearly, one has to wonder how anti-Israelism has gained such a strong foothold in the world.

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Catching up on the news

There’s a fair bit of news out there which I’ve wanted to catch up on but I ran out of time during the week, so here’s a quick summary of the main points I missed.

Jewish-American journalist Steven Sotloff, beheaded by ISIS terrorists

The big news of this week was the dreadful murder of the Jewish-American journalist Steven Sotloff, beheaded by the barbaric ISIS terrorist group. Not only was he American, he had Israeli citizenship too, and had lived in Israel for a while, studying and earning a degree at the IDC in Herzliya.

Steven Sotloff, the American journalist whose beheading features in a gruesome video issued Tuesday by the Islamic State group, was an Israeli citizen who had lived and studied in Israel.

Sotloff, the grandson of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Florida, came to Israel in 2008 to pursue an undergraduate degree at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. His Israeli citizenship and Jewishness were suppressed by the media while he was alive in an effort to protect him from his Islamist captors.

Sotloff, 31, was captured by ISIS terrorists in northern Syria last August while working as a freelance journalist and covering the civil war ravaging Syria. His captors were apparently not aware of his Israeli citizenship or his Jewish faith.

The Daily Telegraph has more about the “cover-up” of Sotloff’s Jewish identity:

A former hostage who spent time with him in captivity told the Israeli website Yedioth Aharonoth: “He used to pray secretly in the direction of Jerusalem. He would see in which direction [the Muslim kidnappers] were praying and then adjust the angle.”

Mr Sotloff kept a careful count of the number of days he had been held so he could work out the date and observe Jewish religious festivals on the right days.

During Yom Kippur “he told them he was sick and didn’t want to eat”, the former hostage said.

A network of 150 friends and acquaintances worked throughout his time in captivity to remove all online references to his faith whenever they arose, according to one report.

Avi Hoffman, editor of the Jerusalem Report, said: “We refused to acknowledge any relationship with him in case it was dangerous for him.”

American media organisations also decided not to publish the fact that he was Jewish.

After Mr Sotloff was murdered by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, tweeted: “Cleared for publication: Steven Sotloff was Israel citizen RIP.”

When he was reporting in Muslim countries, Mr Sotloff reportedly told anyone who asked about his background that his surname was Chechen in origin and he had been raised as a non-practising Muslim, without attending mosques.

The Times of Israel has a similar story but notes Sotloff’s “complicated” relationship with Israel:

“Like most of us, he came here and he became very critical of the government,” said Hillary Lynne Glaser, who studied conflict resolution, international relations and counter-terrorism alongside Sotloff.

“I’m not so sure it was about the Israeli-Arab conflict, I think it was more how they treat their own people. But he still came back to visit,” she said, noting that Sotloff was in Israel as recently as last year to celebrate the wedding of a former IDC roommate.

“He didn’t hate it enough to not come visit,” she said. “He still considered it his home.”

A friend of his writes in the Times of Israel about the day Steven came on Aliya, or as he put it, “the day Steven Sotloff chose to become an Israeli”.

It seems from the various reports that he was an excellent journalist, and no matter what Sotloff’s attitude towards Israel was, he did not deserve to die – and certainly not in as dreadful a manner as beheading.

May his family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may his memory be for a blessing.

One could say that Sotloff took huge risks in travelling throughout the Muslim world, but particularly to Iraq and Syria in recent months.

May Hashem avenge their blood. Eyal Yifrah, Gil-ad Shayer and Naftali Frenkel, murdered by terrorists

However that cannot be said of the three Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shayer and Naftali Frenkel who were kidnapped and murdered in June this year. Some of the kidnappers were arrested over a month ago and this week the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping was indicted.

The Shin Bet released on Thursday further information about the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in June, including the transfer of money from Gaza to Hebron to fund the triple killing and the failed escape to Jordan of Hussam Kawasme, who allegedly helped bury the three teens on his land and was indicted Thursday in a military court.

Kawasme, 40, was arrested on July 11. He later admitted to his role in the attack and fingered other family members and acquaintances, detailing their role in the June 12 killing of Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, after the three Israeli teens were abducted from a hitchhiking post in Gush Etzion in the central West Bank.

The two men suspected of carrying out the murders, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu-Ayshe, are still at large.

The officer revealed that the terror attack is believed to have been a local initiative rather than a directive from above, and that, according to Hussam Kawasme’s confession, Marwan Kawasme arrived at his house at one in the morning on the night of the attack and said: “We wanted to kidnap one, we kidnapped three. We got tangled up. We killed them.”

The two men at the heart of the attack were the brothers Hussam and Mahmoud Kawasme. The latter, who lives in Gaza, was released from a 20-year sentence in an Israeli prison for his role in a 2004 suicide attack in Beersheba and exiled, as part of the Gilad Shalit deal, to the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.

Hussam, whom the Shin Bet said played a “staff officer role” in the attack, asked his brother for, and received, NIS 220,000 ($61,000) in cash in order to fund an attack, the Shin Bet said.

With the money, which was allegedly hand-delivered to Hussam’s mother in envelopes, he bought two rifles and two handguns from Adnan Zaro, 34, of Hebron, and two cars – one for the abduction and one for the escape.

After disposing of the bodies and torching the newly stolen Hyundai i-35 used for the kidnapping, the Shin Bet said, Marwan Kawasme arrived at Hussam’s house and explained the complications in the plan. The two then allegedly decided to retrieve the bodies and to bury them on a plot of land that Hussam had recently purchased.

The Shin Bet said that the land had not been bought for this purpose, Haaretz reported.

On June 30, once the bodies were found by an Israeli search team, Hussam, the owner of the land, was forced to go on the lam. “He planned to flee to Jordan on a forged document, along with two other family members,” the Shin Bet said. But in an intelligence operation “he was found and arrested in his [East Jerusalem] hiding spot in the refugee camp of Shuafat.”

All told, eight operatives and accomplices allegedly directly related to the crime were arrested. The information they revealed was passed on to the military court system.

Such a nice family, the Kawasmes. (/sarcasm). And what a bright idea it was to release all those terrorists in the Shalit deal.  Who could have foreseen what it might have brought? (/more sarcasm).

Some more sad news this week when Joan Rivers passed away at the age of 81 when she went into cardiac arrest during throat surgery.  She was a staunch supporter of Israel and never held back in saying exactly what she thought.  I posted a video of one of her impassioned defences of Israel only a few short weeks ago.

Joan Rivers z”l

The Times of Israel has a round-up of celebrities’ reflections on the passing of Joan Rivers z”l.

Rest in peace, funny lady. May her family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may her memory be for a blessing.

Moving on to more regional news, more mortar shells have landed in the Golan Heights, once more an inadvertent spillover from the war raging there between ISIS and its allies, and the almost equally brutal Assad regime.

ISIS fighting in Syria

Israel is not only being hit accidentally. According to Israeli terrorism specialists, the Israel-Syria border is becoming a magnet for ISIS terrorists:

Israel’s frontier with Syria, where militants recently kidnapped 44 U.N. peacekeepers, has become a magnet for Islamist activity and Israel itself is now a target, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and security analysts said on Tuesday.

The Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-linked group fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, has established a major presence in the region and is poised to carry out attacks across the borders where Syria, Israel and Jordan converge, analysts said.

Iran’s fingerprints can be seen in Syria, including on the Golan Heights, in attempts to use terror squads against us,” Ya’alon told an economic conference.

“We now have Jabhat al-Nusra [the Nusra Front], which is basically al-Qaida, on the border with Israel, and Israel is a legitimate target for Muslim militants all over,” said Aviv Oreg, a retired Israeli intelligence officer and a specialist on al-Qaida.

Oreg said it was only “a matter of time” before the Islamist groups now engaged in fighting in Syria turned more of their attention towards Israel.

“I cannot tell you exactly when, but it’s very risky. It only needs one suicide bomber to cross the fence and attack an Israeli military patrol or a tractor full of farmers going to work in the fields,” he said.

But while Israel may be alarmed, it is not clear that Israel is a strategic priority for Nusra or other radical Sunni Muslim groups.

Their focus since 2011 has been the overthrow of Assad, a campaign that has bogged down from infighting in their ranks and Shiite Muslim Hezbollah’s intervention on the side of Assad.

If Israel is attacked in any serious way, the retaliation would likely be intense, setting back the insurgency and opening the way for Assad’s forces to further reclaim the initiative.

The kidnapping of Fijian UN peacekeepers and the escape of the Fillipino peacekeepers means that UNDOF has effectively become irrelevant (if it was ever relevant in the first place) as the article continues:

Stephane Cohen, the former chief liaison between the Israeli army and the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, said the U.N.’s mandate was now meaningless. With the Philippines, Ireland and other contributing nations set to withdraw from the mission, it was questionable whether the United Nations could continue monitoring the area.

“UNDOF is collapsing and the mandate has not been relevant for at least two years,” said Cohen, now a defense analyst with the Israel Project, a pro-Israel advocacy group.

“Eighty percent of the border area is now in the hands of [Syrian] opposition forces,” he said, adding that if more nations withdrew, the militant presence would only rise.

For now, Israel is merely remaining vigilant.

Israel’s vigilance has recently been tested by Hamas’s attempts to infiltrate into Israel via tunnels and by sea. Now our vaunted technological ability is developing methods to counter these threats.

An Israeli tech firm is aiming to detect tunnels using seismic vibrations:

Something that looks like a can of soda could be Israel’s high-tech answer to the network of tunnels that Hamas has created under the Gaza border.

A destroyed terror tunnel in Rafah, Gaza

A sensor known as a geophone can detect underground movement based on the sound generated by the movement, the Israeli defense firm manufacturing the device says. The firm,  Elpam Electronics, says the geophone is capable of finding the location of a person crawling as far down as 32 feet.

If this system can be properly developed and become operational, the positive implications for Israel are enormous.  What a pity that it wasn’t up and running before so many of our soldiers lost their lives. Let us hope that the system will go on to save many more lives in the future.

Another defensive system which was already operational during the last war is the Aqua Shield, to thwart marine terrorism:

DSIT’s system spotted Hamas divers several kilometers from the Ashkelon coast.

One of the prominent events in Operation Protective Edge was the elimination of a Hamas terrorist squad sent by sea to Zikim on the Ashkelon coast in order to carry out a large-scale terrorist attack. The thwarting of the attack was unquestionably a very great achievement in many aspects: the rapid operational response, the encounter between the IDF unit and the terrorists, and above all the early detection of the threat, which made appropriate preparation possible.

There are currently two companies in the world capable of dealing with undersea threats. One of them is Israeli company DSIT, a world leader in undersea technology.

DSIT’s flagship product in the market today is called Aqua Shield, a land-based sonar designed to protect stationary targets, such as coastal facilities and drilling sites. The detection range of this product is a few kilometers. Of course, it also offers Point Shield, a smaller mobile system with a shorter range, designed for vessels moving about in the open sea.

Kol hakavod to DSIT and similar companies who are putting their efforts into developing and operating defensive systems for the benefit of the whole nation.

I’ll conclude for now with an opinion piece rather than a news item, an excellent piece by Brett Stephens in the Wall Street Journal who writes about Obama’s curious rage.  (If the link won’t open fully, Google the title and click on one of the links to get around the WSJ paywall):

Barack Obama “has become ‘enraged’ at the Israeli government, both for its actions and for its treatment of his chief diplomat, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. ” So reports the Jerusalem Post, based on the testimony of Martin Indyk, until recently a special Middle East envoy for the president. The war in Gaza, Mr. Indyk adds, has had “a very negative impact” on Jerusalem’s relations with Washington.

Think about this. Enraged. Not “alarmed” or “concerned” or “irritated” or even “angered.” Anger is a feeling. Rage is a frenzy. Anger passes. Rage feeds on itself. Anger is specific. Rage is obsessional, neurotic.

Think about this some more. In the summer in which Mr. Obama became “enraged” with Israel, Islamic State terrorists seized Mosul and massacred Shiite soldiers in open pits, Russian separatists shot down a civilian jetliner, Hamas executed 18 “collaborators” in broad daylight, Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria came close to encircling Aleppo with the aim of starving the city into submission, a brave American journalist had his throat slit on YouTube by a British jihadist, Russian troops openly invaded Ukraine, and Chinese jets harassed U.S. surveillance planes over international waters.

Mr. Obama or his administration responded to these events with varying degrees of concern, censure and indignation. But rage?

If Hamas had honored any of these cease-fires it could have saved Palestinian lives. It didn’t. Mr. Obama is enraged—but not with Hamas.

As for Israel’s supposed ill-treatment of Mr. Kerry, the president should read Ben Birnbaum’s and Amir Tibon’s account of his secretary’s Mideast misadventures in the July 20 issue of the New Republic. It’s a portrait of a diplomat with the skills and style, but not the success, of Inspector Clouseau. Mr. Obama might also read Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit’s assessment of Mr. Kerry’s diplomacy: “The Obama administration,” he wrote in July, “proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends.”

Ouch! Read it all, if only to understand what motivates the most powerful man in the world.

I’m not sure what’s more scary: Obama’s curious rage or ISIS on our borders.

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Good News Friday

It’s time for another Good News Friday installment, and this time it will be back to my “regular” style as opposed to a war edition.

Kazunari Okada

My first item combines two of my favourite fields: international relations and hi-tech. The Japanese Innovation Center is ready to take a chance on Israel:

For decades, Japanese corporations hesitated to dip a toe into the Israeli high-tech scene, just watching the successes of the Start-Up Nation from afar. Now, after years of work by Kazunari Okada, director of the Japan Innovation Center (JIC), one Japanese conglomerate appears ready to take a chance on Israel.

In October, Toyota’s ITC (InfoTechnology Center), an important R&D arm of the Japanese car giant, will be holding the first ever tech event for a large Japanese corporation in Israel — a hackathon in which Israeli programmers and entrepreneurs will present their ideas on improving car safety and performance.

That’s the kind of thing Okada is hoping to see more of. “I realized already years ago that Japan was missing out on something important,” he told The Times of Israel in an exclusive interview. “People in Japan know Israel from the news, and of course as a religious center holy to Western religions. But these are both not very relevant to most people in Japan, so awareness of the more esoteric points of Israel has been very low.”

As savvy businesspeople, Japanese executives have increasingly been looking at what Israel has to offer in the area of high-tech – and they have begun to realize that they are late to the party. [...] Total trade between the two nations in 2013 was a relatively modest $1.83 billion, but they signed a research and development support pact last month that might provide a boost in the high-tech sector.

Okada believes he can change that. He has dedicated the last two and a half years to trying, via the JIC. The group runs programs in Israel and especially in Japan, where it organizes seminars and events introducing Japanese business people to Israeli companies.

Okada, who is working with Japanese accelerator Samurai House to get the ITC event off the ground, is very excited about the upcoming hackathon. “This could be the icebreaker,” he said. “If Toyota can do it, why not Honda, Mazda, and all the rest? Working together, Israel and Japan can do some amazing things, and I firmly believe that the relationship between both countries will soon grow significantly.”

Kol hakavod to Mr. Okada and the people on the Japanese and Israeli sides working to get this relationship into high gear. I wish them all the success in the world for the benefit of both countries, and I’m sure the world will benefit from the results too.

An Israeli navy Dolphin-class submarine (photo credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Mixing international relations with defence now, a fourth advanced German submarine is on its way to the Israeli Navy:

“At this very moment, after leaving Germany, the INS Tanin, the Navy and the State of Israel’s fourth submarine, is making its way to Israel,” Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg said at a ceremony for graduates of a naval course. “It can dive deeper, go farther for a longer time and can operate at a level we have not seen until today.”

The impending arrival of the INS Tanin will bolster a submarine fleet has seen dramatic increases in the number and duration of its operational at-sea deployments over the past several years.

Israel is also scheduled to receive a fifth Dolphin-Class submarine from Germany, the INS Rahav, later in 2014.

The new submarines have engines that don’t require surfacing to acquire new air supplies, effectively expanding Israel’s naval (and, reportedly, nuclear) reach and allowing for more distant and long-lasting operations.

In 2012, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported that Israel’s submarine fleet has nuclear capabilities and that Berlin is aware of this but has opted to publicly remain mum about it in order to avoid having to defend the deals.

The submarines, according to Der Spiegel, are equipped with Israeli-designed Popeye missiles, which can carry a warhead of up to 200 kilograms. The nuclear warheads are produced at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, the report said.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If my grandparents were alive today, they would not believe their eyes and would think the newspapers were writing fiction. I find it almost incredible myself that a mere 70 years after the Holocaust the Germans are providing Israel with such advanced submarines.

Yes, I’m sure German guilt feelings are playing a part in this, but nevertheless, we have to thank Germany for providing us with the edge necessary to fight our deadliest enemies – who by chance happen to be the deadliest enemies of the West too.

Does anyone think that Israel and the Arab terrorists will one day manage to make peace in the same way as Israel and Germany? Somehow I doubt it.

An aerial view of the Tamar gas processing rig, 24 km off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon

In a similarly surreal fashion, Israel has signed a $15 billion deal to sell natural gas from its Leviathan field to our former enemy, Jordan:

Israel signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan Wednesday, under which it will supply the Hashemite Kingdom with $15 billion worth of natural gas from its Leviathan energy field over 15 years.

The new deal is the largest collaboration with Jordan to date, and will make Israel its chief supplier, according to the Globes business news website.

The final agreement will be subject to the approval of Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, who is expected to confirm it. According to Globes, the US was involved in the negotiations. US envoy Amos Hochstein was said to attend the signing of the memorandum.
Representatives of the Delek Group Ltd. and Nobel Energy Inc. were in Jordan to sign the agreement.

Shalom hailed the agreement, and referred to it as “a historic act that will strengthen the economic and diplomatic ties between Israel and Jordan.”

“At this time, Israel is becoming an energy superpower, which will supply the energy needs of its neighbors and strengthen its standing as a central source of energy supply in the region, and I welcome it,” he said in a statement.

The Jordanians turned to Israel because their supply of natural gas from Egypt had been halted by repeated terrorist attacks on the gas pipeline from Egypt, a Channel 2 report said.

This is fantastic news for both parties.  Just as once we couldn’t imagine Jordan becoming an economic partner, maybe the day might yet come when all our enemies turn their “swords into plowshares”. We can dream anyway.

To conclude this week’s installment, here is a wonderful heart-warming story from the IDF (h/t Hadassah). The following is a swearing-in ceremony of new recruits. But these are no ordinary recruits. They are all handicapped in one way or another: blind, deaf, etc. All the soldiers had exemptions from serving in the IDF – and all were determined to serve despite it all.

Here’s a rough translation of the article.

With tears of emotion we doff our hat to them and thank them! Here’s a Swearing-in ceremony that you do not see every day, and many have never seen! They do not have to serve in the military at all, they have an exemption - they suffer health problems - deaf, dumb, blind, epilepsy, a disease that affects blood clotting and more.

All this did not prevent this group of wonderful, young amazing people who decided to serve two to three years and ensure that they contribute their share for the Land of Israel, just like everyone else and even more importantly - though greatly challenged but with will power and determination not found anywhere else in the world! Some of them will even continue to Officers Courses in the future. You can not stop them. You can not stop such a powerful motivation to contribute to others, as it exists among them.

During the very moving swearing-in ceremony held in Zrifin – possibly the most emotional military ceremony ever – they vowed and pledged to fulfill all the tasks and protect the people of Israel - according to each job receives.

The News Channel 0404 thanks you dear soldiers. Thank you! Love you!

Watch this video of the ceremony and note the signing language at the end as the recruits sing Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem.

I challenge you not to have a tear in your eyes at the end!

And on this moving note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.

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