Thoughts for Friday Erev Tisha B’Av

Today is not a regular Friday. It is Erev Tisha B’Av, and although we do not mourn on Shabbat (thus the fast is put off until Sunday), we are still carrying on in a more minor key than usual. Therefore this week’s Good News Friday edition will have a slightly different flavour.

British Chief Rabbi Efraim Mirvis brings us a thought-provoking video on the meaning of Tisha b’Av and the role we can play in transforming the mourning of the day into celebration:

You can read the full transcript at the Chief Rabbi’s website. Here are some excerpts:

If only we asked the right questions. Over this coming weekend there is one question that we are going to be hearing time and time again. It is “Eicha?” meaning “How?

‘Eicha?’ is all about sorrow. We are asking, how could this have happened? How could it be that we are facing such challenges that we are enduring such sorrow? Why is this happening to us?

But fascinatingly there is a nineteenth occasion in Tanach in which the same word appears, however, it is pronounced differently. It is also spelt ‘Alef’ ‘Yud’ ‘Kaf’ ‘Hei’, but this time it is “Ayeka.”

It features in Parashat Bereishit, right at the beginning of the Torah. After the original sin, when Hashem saw that Adam had fled, we read “Vayikra Hashem Elokim el Ha’Adam, Vayomer Lo Ayeka? – The Lord, God, called out to man and He said to him: Where are you?”

Hashem was saying to Adam, through this “Ayeka?” – This is not a time to hide away, it is also not a time to shy away from your responsibilities.

Our Prophets teach that Tisha b’Av is a “Mo’ed” meaning “A Festival,” – this indicates that in the course of time, the saddest of all of our days in the calendar will transform to become the happiest of days. We can contribute towards that happening if we transform “Eicha?” into “Ayeka?”

In times of difficulty, of crisis, tragedy and of challenge, instead of asking “How/why is this happening?” Instead we should ask, “What can I do about it?” “Where am I in this situation?” and “How can I contribute towards making this a better world?”

It all depends on asking the right question and behaving with responsibility.

These are very important thoughts to take with us through from Shabbat, which is supposed to be a day of mourning but isn’t, to Sunday, Tisha B’Av, which will be the day of mourning instead, but which we hope will turn into a day of joy.

And here is a beautiful video on the visceral link the Jewish people feel towards the Kotel – the last remnant of the Holy Temple where Jews are permitted to pray freely, since we are denied free access to the Har Habayit, the Temple Mount.

The video (English version here, I cannot embed it) tells the story of Jerusalem through its construction, destructions and reconstruction.

What better way to end this week’s post as we enter this strange Shabbat. May our mourning turn to joy and may this year’s fast be turned into a joyous festival as Jerusalem and the Temple are rebuilt.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

Posted in Israel news, Judaism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The effects of Labour’s disavowal of the IHRA definition of antisemitism

Reams of paper and countless megabytes of bandwidth have been expended on Labour’s outrageous redefinition of antisemitism, which it rewrote simply to suit itself and to excuse its own members (including its very own Dear Leader Corbyn) from accusations of antisemitism.

Here are a few more items on this subject, describing the outrage which greeted Labour’s new guidelines, and their practical effects:

It seems that Labour under Corbyn have ushered in the Messianic era because no less than 68 British Rabbis joined together to sign a letter condemning Labour’s move. (If you understand the axiom “Two Jews, three opinions) then you’ll understand the miraculousness of 68 Rabbis agreeing on anything!).:

A group of 68 British rabbis from across the denominational spectrum have signed an unprecedented letter urging Labour “to listen to the Jewish community” and adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

British Jews demonstrate against Labour antisemitism in March

In a sign of how frustrated British Jews have become with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, Orthodox rabbis joined the senior UK rabbis of Reform, Masorti and Liberal Judaism to “speak out with one Jewish voice” because “antisemitism within sections of the Labour party has become so severe and widespread”.

Among the Orthodox rabbis is Rabbi Avrohom Pinter, from the Charedi community.

One of the most unprecedented reactions to Labour’s redefinition of antisemitism came from veteran Labour MP and former Minister Dame Margaret Hodge who called Corbyn “an f**ing antisemite and racist”:

A Jewish MP who called Jeremy Corbyn a ‘f***ing anti-Semite and racist’ has doubled down on her words explaining that her grandparents were murdered by Hitler during the Holocaust and she would not abide the same hatred in her own party.

Dame Margaret Hodge MP blasted Jeremy Corbyn calling him an antisemite and racist

Dame Margaret Hodge accused the Labour leader of standing by and allowing the party to be infected by anti-Semitism and reiterated her desire to fight it.

In a moving article in The Guardian, Dame Margaret issued an emotional defence of her attack on Mr Corbyn hours after his office said she would be disciplined for the attack.

She wrote:  ‘Under his leadership the Labour party is perceived by most Jews, thousands of party members and millions of members of the public as an anti-Semitic, and therefore racist, party.

‘As our leader, he is now perceived by many as an anti-Semite.’

She added: ‘I am a Jew. My grandmother and my uncle were murdered by Hitler and many cousins and other relatives were slaughtered in the gas chambers.

Indeed, my grandfather was one of six siblings; we are the only surviving line left and that was because my parents were in Egypt when the war broke out.

‘I joined the Labour party to fight racism. In the 1960s the Labour party was the natural home for Jews. To find myself 50 years later, in 2018, confronting antisemitism in my own party is completely and utterly awful.’

Labour’s reaction to Margaret Hodge’s outburst compounded their offence. Instead of apologizing or trying to explain, they announced that “action will be taken” against her. How menacing!

A spokesperson indicated disciplinary measures would be taken against veteran MP Dame Margaret Hodge over her “unacceptable” comments, which came after the British opposition party adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that was slammed by Jewish leaders as unacceptably soft.

“Under the terms of PLP [parliamentary Labour party] rules, behavior has to be respectful between colleagues and not bring the party into disrepute,” a Labour official was quoted by The Guardian as saying. “The behavior was clearly unacceptable between colleagues. Jeremy’s door is always open to discussions with members of the PLP. Action will be taken.”

Let’s get this straight. Labour thinks her comments were unacceptable? And not their own behaviour? They consider her behaviour as “bringing the party into disrepute”? And not their own antisemitism and racism towards Jews? Their own behaviour is preposterous and doing more to bring their party into disrepute than anyone objecting to their bigotry.

Another Labour MP, John Woodcock quit the party in disgust, saying he will remain in Parliament as an Independent.

Labour MP John Woodcock, a prominent critic of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, on Wednesday announced he would resign from the British opposition party over what he described as its “tolerance” of anti-Semitism.

John Woodcock MP quit the Labour Party in disgust

In his resignation letter, Woodcock said the party has been “taken over by the hard left” and has “tolerated” anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is being tolerated and Labour has been taken over at nearly every level by the hard left, far beyond the dominance they achieved at the height of 1980s militancy,” he wrote.

He also said Corbyn “would pose a clear risk to UK national security as prime minister.”

Matters have come to such a head that Spectator columnist Stephen Daisley, in a hard-hitting article, wrote that Labour members must pick a side in the fight against antisemitism:

For over a year now, I have contended that Labour is institutionally anti-Semitic. Yet even among those members who agree, the response is one of indignation when I suggest that people who are anti-racist have no business
funding and campaigning for an apparently racist organisation. All of them say more or less the same thing: I won’t walk away. I’m staying to fight. We can change the party from within.

What follows does not come easy but none of this is easy. Labour members who insisted on ‘staying to fight’ Corbynism and anti-Semitism at first evoked sympathy for their loyalty to their party and the pathos of their situation. Then at the General Election, they lined up behind Corbyn and campaigned to make him Prime Minister. Those who have so often accused their leader of failing to match words and deeds were now guilty of the same.

For those who remain, Labour is in the blood and in the soul. However much they despair at what it has become, they cannot bring themselves to a separation that would feel like an amputation. That is a damnable situation to find yourself in but it does not deprive you of moral reasoning or excuse your failure to act upon it. Whatever makes you stay, you have – in most cases unconsciously – made the same calculation: that you love the Labour Party more than you hate anti-Semitism.

David Hirsh at Engage explains the problem with Labour’s redefinition of antisemitism:

The biggest specific problem with Labour’s homemade definition is that it declares that hostility to Israel could only be antisemitic if motivated by antisemitic intent. This is a radical break from everything which is accepted in the scholarly study of racism and in antiracist practice.

… The kind of antisemitism which is now legitimate in the Labour Party is pushed and defended by people who think of themselves as opponents of antisemitism. They have no antisemitic intent and so would not be found antisemitic by a tribunal using the homemade definition. Yet they still ostracize those who oppose antisemitism and they are responsible for a culture which nurtures and licenses antisemitic ways of thinking.

You could not even prove that Ken Livingstone himself is motivated by antisemitic intent. He probably isn’t.

The refusal of the Party to accept the IHRA definition is symbolic of its refusal to oppose left antisemitism. Today’s Labour Party is led by people who embrace political antisemitism. Their politics on this issue comes from the Soviet Union, from Durban and from the Iranian regime for whom Jeremy Corbyn worked as a propagandist. He did not mis-speak when he claimed that his friends in Hamas and Hezbollah were dedicated to peace and justice; that is his worldview and has been for decades. Corbyn isn’t going to endorse a definition of antisemitism which may influence people to judge his political friends to be antisemitc.

And as if to demonstrate exactly what Labour’s new self-defined antisemitism looks like, here is LBC broadcaster Ian Dale confronting a real-life antisemite. Just listen to the caller’s words:

 

The commenter below (proud to say he is my cousin’s son) describes exactly what is wrong with the caller’s words. Would they be considered antisemitic under Labour’s new guidelines? One can’t help but wonder:

To correct Ron’s assertion that Ashkenazi Jews are not of Jewish origin, there are multiple subcultures within Judaism, of which most Jewish people belong to the Ashkanazic and Sefardic subsections. There are further subsections such as Yemenite Jews, Ethiopian Jews and Adoni Jews to name a few. The difference between these subsections are country and region of origin, differences in beliefs, etc. To state that Ashkanazic Jews are not Jews or part of the Jewish religion is anti-Semetic, racist and downright ignorant.

British Jews are once again holding a protest against Labour antisemitism. If you are in London and can spare the time, please join in and show your support:

Demonstration against Labour antisemitism

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party has responded to the Jewish community and its own MPs‘ demands that it accept the International Definition of Antisemitism by adopting its own rewritten definition of antisemitism.

The Jewish community has been consistent and clear in demanding that the Labour Party follow the Government, police, other political parties and even its own MPs in adopting the International Definition of Antisemitism. Now the NEC has crossed the Rubicon and defiantly adopted its own deeply inadequate definition.

We have long stated that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is institutionally antisemitic and unsafe for Jews. We have watched as brave activists fought from within Labour to save their political home from the clutches of antisemitism. The anti-racist Labour Party of old is now dead and gone.

Labour’s leaders now want to “consult” on their handling of antisemitism.

Let’s tell them how we feel.

We will demonstrate on Thursday 19th July in Parliament Square at 18:30.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Escalation in the south: Hamas fires 200 rockets at Israel over Shabbat, IDF targets incendiary kite-launchers

While those of us lucky enough to live in the centre or north of the country enjoyed a pleasant Shabbat, other Israelis were not so lucky. The residents of the south, in the Gaza “envelope”, spent most of Friday night and Shabbat running in and out of their bomb shelters as Hamas dramatically escalated the violence, firing almost 200 rockets and mortars at Israel. Among other targets, a children’s playground, a home and a synagogue were hit in Sderot. Three civilians were injured in the house and several more suffered shock.

It all began when an IDF officer was injured by a grenade thrown over the Gaza border fence on Friday, for which the IDF retaliated. That is when Hamas upped the ante:

Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip launched over 174 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel throughout Saturday, the majority of them exploding in open fields, but with some landing inside Israeli communities, injuring three people and damaging buildings, officials said.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces launched its largest bombing campaign against Hamas targets in the Strip since the 2014 Gaza war, hitting dozens of targets, including two border-crossing attack tunnels and an urban combat training facility, the military said.

An aerial illustration of the Hamas Battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia. (IDF Spokesperson)

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, two Palestinian teenagers were killed in the Israeli strikes — in a building over a Hamas tunnel — and 25 others were injured by shrapnel.

From 1:30 a.m., over 174 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel from Gaza. The majority of them, well over 100, landed in open fields. Over 30 of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. A number landed within the fences of communities in southern Israel.

The three Israelis were wounded when rockets hit a home and a synagogue in the border town of Sderot. They were evacuated to the hospital in moderate condition.

 

A number of other projectiles that landed inside communities in the Eshkol region of southern Israel caused light damage to buildings and infrastructure. In some communities, the mortar shells knocked down power lines, causing temporary outages, a spokesperson for the regional council said.

“A team from the regional council and the electric company fixed the damage immediately, under continued mortar fire,” the Eshkol region spokesperson said.

Here are some tweets detailing the rocket attacks:

StandWithUs have a short video which summarizes the weekend’s events:

 

Unbelievably, or rather I should say following the usual pathetic pattern, instead of continuing to pound Hamas into the ground, the Israeli government began negotiating with mediators to get Hamas to stop its rockets and incendiary kites and balloons. As I commented on my earlier post, I can’t even begin to tell you how furious I am at our leaders who at the moment couldn’t lead us out of a paper bag. Hamas have been bombarding Israel with over 200 rockets over Shabbat and what have our leaders done?? Negotiated a ceasefire, that’s what!!! With bloody terrorists!!! What the HELL are they thinking? The IDF has been bombing empty buildings and tunnels instead of assassinating the entire Hamas leadership. They KNOW where they are and where they’re hiding the cowards, why the HELL are we not killing them?

What is the point of a ceasefire?? So they can go back to flying incendiary kites and balloons and burn the last bits of Israel that they haven’t burnt already?

In answer to my furious but impotent ranting, the Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff explains that it is all realpolitik. Israel has Iran on its mind, and the Gaza kites won’t change that:

But in practice, the IDF bombardment was an opportunity for Israel to destroy Hamas’s cross border tunnels it has long known about, and an effort to change the status quo with the Strip’s rulers regarding the increasing arson balloon and kite attacks.

There were those in Israel and in the IDF who believed that bombing empty Hamas facilities would cause the organization to panic and order its members to stop flying incendiary devices over the border that have burned thousands of acres of forests and agricultural fields in recent months. In addition, Israel hoped the strikes would appease residents of southern Israel and right-wing politicians who have been demanding a heavier response to the increasing arson attacks.

It’s doubtful the arson kite phenomenon will be stemmed, however, and thus the demands for action will only intensify.

Hamas was less than enthusiastic about the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal reached on Saturday. When it was informed the deal was going into effect, the terror group launched dozens of rockets at Israeli communities on the other side of the border to register its discontent without completely refusing to accept it.

And everyone knows — Israel, Hamas and Egypt — that the next round of fighting is on the horizon, and that the reality in Gaza is unlikely to change significantly in the wake of the weekend violence.

The Israeli politicians who are quick to announce the government must not tolerate the ongoing “kite terrorism” are not telling the public the truth.

Firstly, the kites are not the most urgent security threat facing Israel but more like third or fourth down that list. Gaza has been downgraded, and is now regarded to be a less critical threat to Israel than the one posed by the Iranian military along the northern border in the sunset of the Syrian war.

So long as Iran is trying to entrench itself near the Golan border, it’s doubtful the reality for the Israeli residents living near the Gaza border — where kites are sparking multiple fires every day — will radically change in the near future.

Secondly, Israel — though politicians from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government generally refrain from saying this in public — wants to ensure the survival of Hamas in Gaza. Not out of affection for the organization, but because the alternatives to that terrorist group ruling the Strip are either complete chaos or Israel re-occupying Gaza and ruling over its 2 million residents.

This may very well be true, I have no reason to doubt it. Nevertheless it is very bad politics from Netanyahu and his officials to a) not explain the situation to the citizens of the country, and b) most important, that he has not seen fit to even visit the south to express his sympathy. He is antagonizing his core voters by not showing any empathy beyond bombastic statements from the safety of Jerusalem, and all the realpolitik in the world will not help him if he is not voted in in the next general elections.

He should listen to the mayor of Sderot who called on Netanyahu to visit the south: and watch out for his political rivals who have been doing just that:

“I call, from here on, the prime minister and the cabinet ministers to be with the residents, to go down to the South and hear the sounds of their hearts at the end of the most difficult week that has been here since Operation Protective Edge,” Davidi said.

Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi

“Our feelings about the cease-fire are very difficult. It is Hamas who decides whether to open fire or to cease fire and not the State of Israel,” he said.

Zionist Union Leader Avi Gabbay also visited Sderot and spoke with the chairman of Sderot’s youth council Dvir Sasi, who told him that his seven-year-old neighbor was screaming that he didn’t want do die. “This is what the prime minister would have heard if he had bothered to come,” Gabbay said.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel visited the family’s house in Sderot on Sunday morning and sent his well wishes to the family. “I call from here to the prime minister to take serious steps and not to let Hamas dictate the agenda,” he said.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edlestein visited the home of the Buchris family, as well as the Rosenfeld family home, which was also harmed by projectiles.

“Hamas must not be allowed to change the rules in the region. We must act decisively against the heads of the organization, whose sole purpose is to harm us,” he said. “The solidarity between the residents here in Sderot is admirable, and it is even more evident in the difficult events we experienced over the weekend. I thank Mayor Alon Davidi for the spirit and the support he and his team give to the residents.”

Later, Edelstein visited the Sderot Trauma Center, which was established in the city after Operation Protective Edge.

Education Minister Naftali Bennnett also visited Sderot, and said: “Residents of Sderot and the Gaza envelope are entitled to security like any citizen of the State of Israel. We will oppose any cease-fire that allows Hamas to rearm for another round. This is not a cease-fire, it is a free pass for more rounds.”

“The residents of Sderot and the surrounding area tell us: ‘We are prepared to take it if you solve the problem.’ Therefore, all kinds of temporary truces on behalf of Hamas are unacceptable to us. This is not the way. The way is only through force, only through a thorough treatment of Hamas,” Bennett concluded.

Maybe this is why earleir today, after the ceasefire had a chance to take hold (sort of) the security cabinet decided – FINALLY – that the IDF should respond to all incendiary kites and balloons rather than simply sending warning shots. I simply cannot understand why this was not done right from the start:

There was an added bonus as a rocket launching terrorist blew himself and his son up without the aid of the IAF:

However, with the escalation of tensions, the army is not taking any chances and has moved an Iron Dome battery into Gush Dan (the Tel Aviv region) in the center of the country, reinforced batteries in the south as well as calling up some reserves.

Realpolitik aside, I am still of the opinion that if the IDF had been permitted to fire back with deadly force at the incendiary balloon and kite launchers right at the beginning, we would never have reached this perilous situation, and the government could have continued devoting its full attention to Iran.

I am sorely disappointed at our leaders’ short-sightedness.

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

Good News Friday

No matter what happens during the week, it’s always good to hear some good news before Shabbat so here is this week’s Good News Friday post.

Since I so frequently provide news from Israel’s technological sector, I thought it appropriate to start with a rising young (very young!) star who could well be in the forefront of the next generation’s tech wizards.

I’m talking about seven-year old Liel Levitan who won the European School Chess Champtionship:

Seven-year-old Liel Levitan was the top winner in the Girls U7 category of the European School Chess Championship 2018, held June 29 to July 8 in Krakow, Poland.

Liel Levitan, bottom right, competing in the Girls U7 category of the European School Chess Championship 2018. Photo: screenshot

The Israeli second-grader won with 6 points after playing seven matches. Her mother, Julia, filmed Liel accepting her medal while wrapped in an Israeli flag. Click here to see Julia and Liel’s interview with Israel’s Mako news channel (in Hebrew, but too adorable to miss even if you can’t understand the words).

Two of Liel’s three older siblings, Ronit and Yaron, also were among Israel’s 23-person delegation to the event. Ronit finished third in the World School Championship in 2011, when she was seven. The Levitans, who live in Tel Hai, play in the Israel Chess Federation’s Greater Haifa Club.

The winners of the European Championships 2018 receive free board and lodging to participate in the World School Championship 2019 to be held in Tunisia. [That will be interesting to see if the Muslim Tunisia will permit Liel to enter -Ed.]

Watch the video below.

Kol hakavod to Liel! She may be only little now, but she is a giant in chess already and I’m sure she will be hugely successful in the future. Mazal tov and kol hakavod to Liel and to her parents!

On the subject of science and technology, here is some more good news from Israel.

A home breast self-exam device developed by an Israeli has won a $360,000 WeWork Award:

JNS.org – The Jerusalem-based MonitHer home breast-exam system won the $360,000 grand prize at the WeWork Creator Awards on June 20, which was attended by 5,000 people.

Yehudit Abrams, inventor of the MonitHer breast exam device

The handheld ultrasound system enables women to monitor their own breast tissue for abnormalities within 10 minutes in the comfort of their own homes, utilizing artificial intelligence and cloud technology to detect potential anomalies. MonitHer can be used once a month, much more frequently than mammograms and with greater ease.

The new device was developed by American immigrant to Israel Yehudit Abrams, who researched ultrasound technology while completing her post-doc at NASA prior to making aliyah.

What a brilliant concept! So many women find it difficult to go to their doctors for all kinds of reasons. In this way they can monitor their own health at home and protect their health.

Kol Hakavod to Dr. Yehudit Abrams who has made aliya and brought such honour to Israel!

The next item shows that the US-Israel defence relationship is most definitely a two-way street: The US Army announced that it is purchasing tank defense systems from Israel for the whopping sum of $193 million:

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd announced Tuesday a contract worth over $193 million to supply its TROPHY missile defense system to the United States Army, The Times of Israel reported.

An American Abrams tank equipped with the Israeli-developed TROPHY active defense system (Leonardo DRS and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.)

The TROPHY, developed by Rafael and the Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group, is designed to protect tanks and other armored vehicles from missiles, rockets, and projectiles. The system is the only active defense system for armored vehicles in the world.

The deal was signed between Rafael and U.S.-based defense contractor Leonardo DRS, which will supply the American military with the systems, to be installed on the M1 Abrams battle tank. The TROPHY, known in Hebrew as me’il ruach, or windbreaker, will be manufactured in the U.S. and Israel.

Under the terms of the contract, Leonardo DRS will provide the U.S. army “with TROPHY systems, countermeasures, and maintenance kits,” the Israeli defense contractor said.

The TROPHY is installed on hundreds of ground combat platforms in the IDF, including Merkava Marks 3 and 4, as well as the Namer armored personnel carriers. Rafael has also signed supply contracts for an additional 1,000 IDF platforms.

At a conference, an official from the U.S. military said they were impressed by the system’s capabilities from live-fire testing on an Abrams tank equipped with the TROPHY. “I tried to kill the Abrams tank 48 times and failed,” said U.S. Army Col. Glenn Dean.

This is great news for both countries, providing excellent defense for the US Army and a valuable export commodity for Israel as well as being a huge vote of confidence in the Israeli Rafael Industries.

There is more good news on the Israel-is-not-isolated front as we learned that Slovakia is the next country to announce that it is moving its embassy to Jerusalem:

Slovak National Council Andrej Danko told President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday that Slovakia is on its way to moving their embassy to Jerusalem. On Tuesday the Slovak lawmakers said they are opening a cultural center in Jerusalem.

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and his Slovakian counterpart, President Andrej Kiska, are seen at a dinner held at the president’s house in Jerusalem on March 29, 2017. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.

The decision was made by Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini after Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called on them to follow the Czech Republic’s footsteps, who are opening an honorary consulate and cultural center in Jerusalem.

Slovakia will be joining the Czech Republic and Bulgaria as European Unions states who are breaking with EU policy on Jerusalem.

Kol hakavod to Slovakia for their principled stance, joining several other clear-minded countries. May this move be followed by many more countries!

And one last item which is very suitable for this week. Today is Rosh Chodesh Av, the 1st of the month of Av, on the 9th day of which (Tisha B’Av) we mark the destruction of the holy Temples as well as a whole list of other tragedies that occurred on or around the same date.  It is therefore so timely to learn of the discovery of more beautiful mosaics in an ancient synagogue at the archaeological dig in Huqoq (which I first wrote about 2 years ago).

In its eighth dig season, the vibrant mosaic flooring of a fifth century synagogue excavated in the small ancient Galilee village of Huqoq continues to surprise. The 2018 Huqoq dig has uncovered unprecedented depictions of biblical stories, including the Israelite spies in Canaan.

With its rich finds, the Byzantine-period synagogue busts scholars’ preconceived notions of a Jewish settlement in decline.

“What we found this year is extremely exciting,” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Prof. Jodi Magness told The Times of Israel, saying the biblically based depictions are “unparalleled” and not found in any other ancient synagogue.

“The synagogue just keeps producing mosaics that there’s just nothing like and is enriching our understanding the Judaism of the period,” said Magness.

A recently unearthed mosaic shows two men carrying between them a pole on their shoulders from which is hung a massive cluster of grapes (the same as the easily recognizable symbol of Israel’s Ministry of Tourism). With a clear Hebrew inscription stating, “a pole between two,” it illustrates Numbers 13:23, in which Moses sends two scouts to explore Canaan.

A mosaic found in the 2018 Huqoq excavation is labeled ‘a pole between two,’ depicting a biblical scene from Numbers 13:23. The images show two spies sent by Moses to explore Canaan carrying a pole with a cluster of grapes. (Jim Haberman)

These two newly published mosaics join a pantheon of others — from 2012 and 2013, two Samson depictions, to fantastical elephants and mythical creatures from 2013-2015, Noah’s Ark in 2016, and colorful and as yet unpublished Jonah and the whale in 2017.

During this year’s dig, the team also continued to expose and study rare 1,600-year-old columns, first uncovered in previous seasons, which are covered in painted plaster with red, orange, and yellow vegetal motifs. Other discovered columns, said Magness, were painted to imitate marble.

However, despite these “imitation marble” columns, this was no poor man’s synagogue. Much in the manner of King Herod decorating his palaces with painted faux-marble frescos, the columns and gorgeous mosaics point to a wealthy, flourishing fifth-century Jewish settlement, said Magness.

“In general, unless you’re in a really important church in the Byzantine period, you won’t find marble, rather this common local alternative,” she said. She laughed, saying there is a feeling of “one-ups-manship” in the construction of the Huqoq synagogue.

It’s amazing on the one hand, yet totally unsurprising on the other hand, to find so much rich Jewish history dotted around our land. Even after the hurban (Destruction), Jews continued to live in the Land of Israel and continued to live by the ancient Jewish traditions. Of course this also puts the lie to the absurd and slanderous assertions by antisemites and other Israel-haters that the Jews have no connection to the Land. On the contrary, our connection to this country is so obvious that it seems ridiculous that we have to rebut these claims over and over.

This wonderful archeological discovery is one more point of proof, if ever we needed it.

Kol hakavod once again to the archeologists and researchers who have uncovered this wonderful historical gem.

Despite today marking the beginning of the Nine Days, the countdown to Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, may we merit to see our complete Redemption, the Geula Shlema, speedily in our days, Amen.

I wish you all Chodesh tov and Shabbat Shalom.

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations, Israel news, Judaism, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Labour redefines antisemitism for itself to clear itself of antisemitism

For the many not the few? Or not the Jew? Labour’s resident antisemitic members Jeremy Corbyn, Shami Shakrabarti, Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker

The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has gone and done it again. Not content with alienating most of its Jewish constituents with its persistent antisemitic scandals, it has now redefined the very definition of antisemitism to permit Nazi comparisons, to exclude anti-Israel prejudice, accusations of Jewish dual loyalty and much more. In this way, it can proudly declare that it is free of antisemitism! Look! It says so in our constitution!

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) reports:

While claiming to have adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism, Labour has in fact butchered it by removing four of the manifestations of antisemitism that it cites, namely:

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour).
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

The significance of this cannot be overstated. The four examples that have been removed by the Labour Party are central to the understanding of post-Holocaust antisemitism and the antisemitism of  the far-left that now has the Labour Party in its grip. It is driven by the pro-Corbyn faction’s obsessive hatred of the Jewish state, and seems to be designed to give free rein to certain forms of antisemitic discourse that have no place in a liberal democratic society.

One of the most sickening aspects of this disgusting perversion of the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism is the underhanded way in which Labour persuaded the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) to go along with the change:

A letter signed by Luciana Berger MP and Ivor Caplin, the Parliamentary and National Chairs of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), and addressed to Jennie Formby, the current General Secretary of the Labour Party, reveals the extent of Labour’s duplicity. The letter alleges that the meeting at which the code of conduct was adopted took place without the JLM having sight of any of the documents discussed, that the JLM’s offers to participate in order to ensure transparency were repeatedly rejected, and that JLM representatives were left waiting in Ms Formby’s office lobby, only being allowed in to give evidence.

Outrage against this redefiniton of antisemitism, which was done solely in order to whitewash the real antisemites in the party so that Labour can claim it is not antisemitic, was roundly condemned across the board.

Nick Cohen, the Guardian’s resident center-left Jew (though he is not actually Jewish), wonders why Labour is risking alienating progressive Jews:

To see how deep the rot has penetrated, imagine a racist police force – it isn’t hard to do. Imagine a chief constable had endorsed fantasists who say black men are natural criminals and Muslim men are paedophiles. Imagine, to the relief of everyone who thought the police should fight crime rather than race wars, the chief constable announces that there is “no place for racism in my force”. If the chief constable then wrote his own definition of racism and drew its terms so tightly that hardly any officer fell within it, no one would find his conversion convincing.

Rather than building a popular front to fight Trump and Brexit, Labour has taken it upon itself to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. Don’t panic, the alliance isn’t a Jewish conspiracy. It states that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”. Its working definition is accepted by thousands of public bodies. But not the British Labour party.

…Recently departed Labour staffers describe as a “political project” the party’s decision to make Jews the only ethnic minority Labour denies the right to define the racism they face. Dissident leftists are already providing examples of the anti-Jewish hatred the new guidelines might allow.

… all conspiracies go back to Jews in the end. Antisemitism isn’t like other racisms. There’s almost a note of envy in it.

Whenever you raise leftwing racism, Labour activists accuse you of repeating Tory smears. You reply that politicians always smear their opponents: what matters is whether the accusation is true. They say: “Jeremy’s words have been taken out of context.” You show they have not. They say: “But what about right-wing Islamophobia?” You reply that a true anti-racist would fight both. That used to silence them. But now they will be able to produce the conclusive rejoinder that Labour has investigated and found to its relief and delight that antisemites barely exist.

Here is a series of tweets expressing the contempt which greeted Labour’s attempt to “Goysplain” antisemitism – i.e. a non-Jew explaining to a Jew what antisemitism really is:

If you want to see some absolutely stomach-churning antisemitism from Labour supporters on Twitter, read this tweet and click on the graphics below:

British Jewry have a new leader to represent them in the Board of Deputies, Marie Van Der Zyl, who is adamant that she will continue fighting the endemic antisemitism in Labour:

Her tone may be a little softer than that of her feisty predecessor, Jonathan Arkush, but the Board’s new president nonetheless shows a steely determination not to let Corbyn off the hook.

“We need to see action, not words from Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party,” she argues.

Marie van der Zyl joins demonstrators at March’s ‘Enough is Enough’ protest at the UK Parliament. (Courtesy)

Referring to the main slogan of the Jewish community’s unprecedented demonstration against systemic anti-Semitism outside the parliament building this past March, van der Zyl continues: “Enough is enough. We meant that.”

Later this month, van der Zyl and Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, are expected to meet with Corbyn to follow up the “disappointing” session the communal organizations held with the Labour leader in April.

“We have made a series of suggestions to Labour, and that represents the minimum — and that’s the absolute minimum — standards that we would expect,” she suggests.

Already, however, Labour seems to be falling well short of these demands.

For the sake of the British Jewish community I hope that Ms. Van Der Zyl can carry through on her pledges.

As for the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, why any Jew would still vote for them or support them is beyond me. They have made it plain that Jews are not welcome unless they are “good Jews” who will condemn Israel and give support to terrorists.

It is a terrifying thought that Jeremy Corbyn is one general election away from No. 10.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Chutzpah: Palestinian terrorists attack Kerem Shalom, then accuse Israel of crimes against humanity

Israel has finally plucked up the courage (again – I have my doubts this closure will last) to close down the Kerem Shalom crossing point into Gaza after frequent violence at the border.

Kerem Shalom crossing on fire in May 2018 after Palestinian terrorists attack it

And what was Hamas’ reaction? I’m sure you could have all written the script yourselves. They threatened even more violence! I’m sure that is going to persuade the Israelis to open up the crossing immediately. Not. They also had the chutzpah to accuse Israel of crimes against humanity. Let me just remind you: this is Hamas, the arch-terrorist group in our area, accusing Israel, the beacon of democracy and humanitarianism, of crimes against humanity:

The Hamas terror organization called Israel’s decision to close the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza a “crime against humanity” on Monday, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the move to respond to cross border violence.

“Netanyahu’s approval of additional measures to intensify the siege and prevent the entry of materials and goods to Gaza is a new crime against humanity,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

Barhoum also accused the international community of being silent on “the crime of the suffocating siege on the Gaza Strip,” and called on it to take “immediate action” to end the blockade of the Strip.

Kerem Shalom, the only cargo crossing between Gaza and Israel, has been subject to a strict blockade by Israel for the past 11 years that is meant to prevent terrorist groups from bringing weapons into the Strip. Egypt also tightly controls the nearby Rafah border crossing into the Sinai.

The Islamic Jihad terror group said the step was a “new declaration of war” and vowed to respond.

“Once again, the government of Zionist terror announces a war on the Palestinian people by intensifying its oppressive siege that has multiplied the suffering of the Palestinian people for more than 11 years,” it said in a statement.

“We are coordinating with the factions and forces to evaluate all developments, including the occupation’s most recent measures, which we are dealing with as a new declaration of war on the Palestinian people,” Islamic Jihad added.

Earlier, Netanyahu said Israel will be undertaking measures to pressure Hamas, including closing Kerem Shalom, the main commercial passageway between Israel and the coastal enclave.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said he had instructed the military “to take a number of steps” to respond to “Hamas provocations” on the border.

Over the past three months, weekly clashes have taken place on the Gaza border, with Israel accusing Hamas of using the demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks and attempt to breach the security fence. The “March of Return” protests have also seen Palestinians fly airborne incendiary devices toward Israeli territory, sparking hundreds of fires in southern Israel and causing millions of shekels in estimated damages.

Immediately after Netanyahu spoke, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that Kerem Shalom would be closed to all commercial goods into and out of the Gaza Strip.

But of course Israel is too good for its own good, and the siege is not really a siege at all:

The army said humanitarian aid, notably food and medicine, would still be allowed into Gaza, but would require special permission from the military liaison to the Palestinians, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon.

Do you know any other country at war which provides food and medicine to its enemy’s civilians at danger to its own existence, and bearing the cost itself?

And let us just take a moment to recall how the Palestinians themselves burned down the Kerem Shalom crossing!

Kerem Shalom crossing on fire after Hamas terrorists burn it down in May 2018

First they burned the aid deliveries themselves.

And then they burned the access roads to the Kerem Shalom crossing.

And despite Defence Minister Liberman’s threat to close down the crossing, Israel of course did no such thing. We set about repairing the crossing and resumed aid delivery. (Yes, we fulfill the definition of insanity by repeating the same actions expecting a different reaction every time).

For which we were “thanked” by yet more violence.

So tell me again why on earth Israel should provide even one bean to Gaza.

The Palestinians – Hamas, Islamic Jihad and those who voted for them, those who pay them to stay in power (I’m looking at you UNRWA and the EU), have the utmost chutzpah in protesting the closure of this crossing.

Israel has not received a word of sympathy, let alone help, in combatting the incendiary kites and balloons, launched and encouraged by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are burning the south of Israel at an alarming rate. All Israel gets is condemnations at the UN and calls for restraint from the rest of the world if a Palestinian fingernail is bent out of shape.

Just read these Facebook posts from the border communities with Gaza to see the horrific damage caused by this terrorist arson:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10161130806845144&set=gm.1833946073333865&type=3&theater&ifg=1

The search for shelter and food when your home has been burnt down.

Where are the cries and rage of the environmentalists of the world now? What is this deafening silence I hear? Why aren’t there protests objecting to the environmental destruction of this ecosystem here in the Negev? This isn’t an earthquake or tornado that are acts of God. This isn’t even “Global Warming” that will take years to control and needs powerful political lobbies and massive change of human behavior and habits. This is terrorists with primitive kites and balloons who need to be stopped.

If Israel does it, by shooting at them, we will be condemned… so where is the answer of the international community to this senseless, purposeful destruction of the environment and land that the Palestinians claim to love, claim is theirs and yet are primitively, ruthlessly devastating?

Photo credit: Ruth Eitan from Sapir College

Watch this video and weep at the horrific devastation caused by 100 days of arson:

 

Ynet also has a devastating photo essay of the damage caused by the Palestinian arson to the south of Israel:

An Israeli tractor against a background of a burning field #Israelonfire

Burnt wildlife from terrorist arson from Gaza #Israelonfire

I say let Gaza stew in its own juice. They deserve nothing from us. Let the world condemn us. Let them take a long walk off a short pier.

And it’s about time, way beyond time in fact, that Israel sues Hamas and/or the Palestinian Authority for punitive damages for the destruction they have caused with their arson, in addition to demanding a condemnation at the UN.  Failing that, Israel should demand compensation from the terrorists enablers at the UN and the EU.

(But sadly, as repeatedly in the past, I wait for the crossing to be reopened, or to stay open, in 3…2..1. Because our leaders do not have the courage of their convictions).

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments