The Kotel Kerfuffle

The latest crisis began when the government backtracked on its decision to create a state-recognized pluralistic prayer section at the Western Wall. In addition it approved legislation denying citizenship rights to converts who converted through private Orthodox or any non-Orthodox conversions.

The Kotel filled with thousands of worshippers

To be honest, I’m having a very hard time understanding what exactly happened, and what are the implications. I’m not going to venture an opinion here (contrary to my blog name!) and leave you to draw your own conclusions from the following links:

Does the Kotel fiasco mark a breaking point between Israel and the Diaspora?

[The government’s announcement] drew a slew of angry statements from politicians, Jewish groups and religious leaders on Sunday.

The recurring pronouncement in these statements was that with this decision, the government had delivered a decisive blow to the crucial relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, particularly US Jewry.

The government dealt a double whammy to liberal Jews on Sunday, with its ministerial committee approving explosive legislation that revokes the state’s recognition of citizenship rights for private Orthodox conversions, as well as the rights of Reform and Conservative converts to be registered as Jewish in the Interior Ministry.

These issues of religious pluralism are pushing away Jews who want a connection to Israel at the same as the Jewish state is fighting to keep world Jewry on its side when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and trying to draw the unaffiliated closer to their Jewish identity.

Researchers warned last week that Israel is losing the younger generation of American Jews, as a study released by the Brand Israel Group found that support for Israel has dropped 27 percentage points among Jewish college students in the US since 2010, with many taking issue with Israel’s record on human rights, tolerance and diversity.

The Reut Institute warned in March that ties between US Jews and Israel could reach a “breaking point in 2017,” accusing the government of a “blind spot” when it comes to the Diaspora.

Natan Sharansky, famed former Prisoner of Zion in the Soviet Union and now Chairman of the Jewish Agency, cancelled his meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu in protest at the Kotel decision. Today he writes in the Times of Israel that “We may solve the Kotel crisis but I’m not sure we may be able to rebuild trust”:

In an interview with The Times of Israel, he said the legislation on conversion approved by ministers on Sunday — which would cement an ultra-Orthodox monopoly over conversions to Judaism in Israel — would likely not go through in its current format. From his contacts with ministers and Knesset members, he said, he does not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can muster a majority to pass the legislation in its current form.

Natan Sharansky and Binyamin Netanyahu

As for Netanyahu’s shock decision to freeze implementation of a painstakingly negotiated agreement to give non-Orthodox streams of Judaism a recognized, formal role in the oversight of a permanent, pluralistic prayer area slightly to the south of the main Western Wall prayer area, Sharansky said he believed a “formula” would be found to enable the agreement to go ahead.

“You don’t have to call it ‘recognition,’” he posited. “But you do have to allow representatives of the Reform and Conservative to run the place where they pray. That’s the minimum condition from which all the negotiations started.” Sharansky said he couldn’t say what precise “formula” would be found, but “I believe that very quickly” it can be resolved.

At the same time, he expressed deep disappointment in Netanyahu’s handling of the affair — saying the prime minister had put narrow coalition interests above the wider needs of the Jewish people. He noted, incidentally, that he did not believe the government would have fallen if Netanyahu had resisted ultra-Orthodox pressure on the issues.

And he said that the precious trust that had been established between Israeli and Diaspora leaders, as the Western Wall compromise took shape in recent years, may have been damaged irrevocably.

He also highlighted staggering ignorance among Israeli government ministers about Reform and Conservative Judaism — streams of Judaism with which the majority of American Jews are affiliated. “When I said to the government a year or two ago, Do you know that 85% of AIPAC supporters are Reform and Conservative Jews, half of the government were shocked. They really thought they were supporters of boycotts of Israel, all these crazies from J Street, Breaking the Silence. That’s all.”

I have a great deal of respect for Sharansky so his words are worth listening to.

Amanda Borschel-Dan details the arrangements at the current mixed prayer section, and reminds us that there already is pluralistic prayer at the Kotel, and that is not going to be taken away:

The historic compromise was multifaceted in its impact: The egalitarian prayer would continue in the southern area of the Western Wall, but there would be one entrance for all to the Western Wall plaza, which would lead to the different pluralistic, men’s and women’s pavilions.

There was to be a joint committee of two Reform leaders, two Conservative leaders, two non-Orthodox women representatives, the Jewish Agency chairman and six government officials overseeing the southern area. The existing Orthodox prayer pavilion would be administered by [Rabbi of the Kotel] Rabinovitch. Additionally, the temporary prayer platforms would double in size and be more connected — giving much more access to the Western Wall for prayer in the Davidson archaeological park and room for up to 1,200.

Conservative Jews pray at the section prepared for prayer for the Women of the Wall at Robinson’s Arch in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 30, 2014. (Robert Swift/Flash90)

For some, this 2016 compromise was not a victory, but a defeat: Senior archaeologists decried the decision to repurpose a park devoted to millennia of national heritage. Additionally, many members of the Women of the Wall splintered off into another group, which calls itself the Original Women of the Wall, and is determined to continue prayer in the women’s section of the Western Wall plaza, not in the egalitarian section.

However, the main WOW group termed the compromise a feminist victory. “In approving this plan, the state acknowledges women’s full equality at the Kotel and the imperative of freedom of choice in Judaism in Israel. The creation of a third section of the Kotel sets a strong precedent in women’s status in Israel: women as administrators of a holy site, women as leaders, women as influential force not to be ignore or silenced,” wrote the Women of the Wall in a statement.

Whether it was the triumphalist statements broadcast by world Jewry, or a delayed regret, within days of the government decision ultra-Orthodox members of Knesset decried the deal — even after having accepted it and voted for it — and vowed to derail its implementation.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and former Religious Affairs Minister, explains how the Kotel compromise was going to work:


And one more person that is simply a must-read in my opinion is Vic Rosenthal, aka Abu Yehuda, who is  worth reading on every subject he touches, but certainly on this one. He explains what’s Behind the struggle for the Kotel“. First he provides a historical overview of the situation at the Kotel and how the religious struggle began, complete with a map of the area:

The Kotel and its various prayer areas

In 1988, the Women of the Wall (WoW) organization was founded in order to obtain the right for women to pray at the Kotel with Torah scrolls and wearing a tallit (prayer shawl). They did not ask for mixed prayer with men, just a relaxation of the rules concerning how they could pray with other women in the women’s section of the Kotel. This would not violate Orthodox halacha (religious law), but is in opposition to the rules established by the Rabbi of the Kotel and the customs of strictly observant Jews (among others, the prohibition against women chanting out loud in the presence of men).

The women held regular monthly prayer sessions and were faced with opposition from the Kotel management and sometimes verbal or physical assaults by Haredim. The group began a legal struggle to force the Kotel authorities to permit them to pray as they wished, in the existing women’s section. They continued to pray there regularly, and numerous members were arrested for creating disturbances and disobeying police.

Then the Reform movement entered the picture and shuffled all the cards – to the detriment of the WoW:

What had been a movement to permit women to pray with Torah scrolls in the women’s section of the Kotel became a movement to permit mixed-gender prayers, according to Reform and Conservative practice.

For four years, representatives of the government and the other involved parties engaged in negotiations under Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky to find an acceptable compromise. Finally, in January of 2016, a deal was made. An area that is currently occupied by an archaeological park at the south end of the Kotel next to Robinson’s arch (see photo above) would be permanently allocated to mixed-gender and other non-Orthodox worship, renovated and made accessible by a single entrance leading to both the new area and the original Kotel plaza. A committee consisting of representatives of the government and “non-Orthodox leaders” would manage the area, which would be outside of the jurisdiction of the Rabbi of the Kotel.

Hoffman, who had previously vehemently opposed the idea of a prayer area at Robinson’s Arch (she had called it “the back of the bus”) suddenly supported it. The Board of Directors of the Women of the Wall voted to move their services to this area when work would be completed, to the unhappiness of some of its more conservative members who felt that the original goals of the movement had been “betrayed.” The URJ put its full weight behind the compromise, because it represents an implicit recognition of the legitimacy of non-Orthodox Judaism by the state of Israel.

And here is the crux of the matter. The whole deal fell apart precisely because the Reform Movement were aiming for political legitimacy in Israel as opposed to a simple arrangement of prayer schedules at the Kotel and its environs:

So the demands of a few women for a small change in the rules concerning their Orthodox worship morphed into a challenge by the URJ, the standard-bearer of non-Orthodox Judaism, to the religious establishment and the government of Israel, to accept it as a legitimate partner. And this will never be acceptable to the Haredi parties.

URJ leadership in the US is furious, but it’s reasonable to ask them “what did you expect?” The overwhelming opinion of Jewish Israelis – not just Haredi, or even religious ones – is that Reform Judaism is not Judaism. And they are asking the Haredim to sit down with them as equals! They would as soon drive to the beach on Shabbat to barbecue pork cheeseburgers.

What will happen next? The Supreme Court will weigh in, and probably a new compromise will be worked out. The Haredi parties will not give in to anything that they see as legitimizing Reform Judaism, but mixed-gender prayer will probably continue to take place at the Robinson’s arch location. The original WoW who want to pray in the women’s section with Torah scrolls and tallesim will probably be out of luck. Rick Jacobs will continue to blame Netanyahu for everything, and continue to do his best to undermine Israel’s democratically elected government (because he understands democracy better than we do).

Who has lost out here are the women who had a reasonable demand, one that many Orthodox rabbis agree does not violate halacha. They might have gotten what they wanted if they had not chosen to ally themselves with an 800-pound left-wing gorilla with ulterior motives, the URJ.

It is all exceedingly sad that the Kotel, the last remnant of our Holy Temple, is being turned into a pawn for political gain by all sides.

And none of this is to address the haredi control of the conversion issue in Israel, with which I have serious issues.

Israel has enough on her plate to contend with (e.g. missiles from Syria and Gaza) without having to tear itself up over internal issues.

Once again we have to keep in mind that the Second Temple was destroyed through baseless hatred.

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Good News Friday

Another week with its troubles has gone by and thank goodness it’s Friday, as we welcome in both Shabbat and a new month, so it’s time for another Good News Friday installment.

Let’s start with Israel’s brilliant biomedical field. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute have discovered a molecule that can regenerate hearts! Literally mending broken hearts:

Research at the Weizmann Institute of Science has uncovered a molecule in newborn hearts that appears to control the renewal process. When injected into adult mouse hearts injured by heart attacks, this molecule, called Agrin, seems to “unlock” that renewal process and enable heart muscle repair. These findings are already pointing to new directions for research on restoring the function of damaged hearts.

Mending broken hearts

Human heart cells cannot regenerate

Prof. Eldad Tzahor, who led the study with Elad Bassat, Alex Genzelinakh and other team members in the Weizmann Institute’s Molecular Cell Biology Department, explains that following a heart attack in humans, the healing process is long and inefficient. Once damaged, muscle cells are replaced by scar tissue, which is incapable of contracting and thus cannot participate in pumping. This, in turn, leads to further stress on the remaining muscle and eventual heart failure.

The team carried out clinical trials on mice, and then progressed to humans cells:

“Clearly this molecule sets a chain of events in motion” he says. “We discovered that it attaches to a previously unstudied receptor on the heart muscle cells, and this binding takes the cells back to a slightly less mature state – closer to that of the embryo – and releases signals that may, among other things, initiate cell division.”

The team then proved that Agrin has a similar effect on human heart cells grown in culture.

What a fantastic finding! If Agrin can be developed to be used fully on humans think how many lives could be saved or improved. Kol hakavod to all the research team at Weizmann on their discovery.

Since we’re talking about hearts, here is an incredible, only-in-Israel story: A heart surgeon, who changed direction and became an El Al airline pilot (!), saved the life of a passenger during a flight, and then returned to the cockpit to land the plane!

An El Al pilot who decided to undergo retraining after years of working as heart surgeon, on Sunday saved the life of a female passenger on his plane en route from Ben-Gurion Airport to Bucharest, Romania, Ynet reported.

The pilot, who was the only doctor on the plane, took care of the ailing woman in the aisle, in plain sight of the other passengers, before returning to the cockpit to land the plane. The flight Captain replaced the bi-professional pilot while he was caring for the passenger.

“50 minutes before landing, I got a phone call from the flight service manager about a passenger who wasn’t feeling well,” the pilot told Ynet. “She seemed relatively fine to her, nevertheless it was decided to move her to business class so she would have more space. At that point, I reminded the captain that I was also a doctor and told the flight attendant to let me know if the passenger’s condition was getting worse.”

“Fifteen minutes before we started descending, the flight attendant called and said the passenger looked really bad and was having a hard time breathing. I told her I was coming over and, indeed, saw a woman who was in a poor state of consciousness, probably the fatigue phase after experiencing a heart attack.”

The pilot asked the crew to bring him the medical kit and began treating the passenger with medication. “Her condition improved gradually, she said that because of the pressure of the coming flight she forgot to take her pills,” he said.

Five minutes before landing, the pilot returned to the El Al cockpit to land the Boeing plane alongside the Captain. The passenger’s condition improved with medication, so much so that there was no need to even call for an airport ambulance.

What a brilliant story! Talk about Superman 🙂  Kol hakavod to the doctor pilot whose name is not being published for some reason. He deserves a medal for keeping cool under extremely difficult circumstances and bringing in a whole plane safely while saving a life. Refuah shlema too to the ailing passenger.

And now a complete change of pace. Dave Sharma, the outgoing Australian Ambassador to Israel, made a brilliant video where he gives “advice” about Israel to the incoming Ambassador. It is both hilarious and true (well, almost 😀   ) about Israel’s character. Watch and giggle:


Farewell Ambassador Sharma! You were a huge success in Israel and we wish you much more on your next job. I hope the incoming ambassador will be just as successful and have as good a sense of humour!

And one last beautiful item before Shabbat. Here is a fantastic video celebrating 50 years of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan (via Hadassah). I’m afraid there are no subtitles wither in Hebrew or English. (I will update as and when I find them). The Hebrew speakers should be able to make out most of the lyrics, the melody is from an Israeli popular song. The English speakers can enjoy the spectacular scenery and community spirit that went into the creation of this video:


And with this uplifting and joyous note I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!

Posted in International relations, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, support Israel, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israel in the Middle East – piggy in the middle

Israel is getting caught in the middle of intra-Arab feuds as well as the international rivalries playing out between Iran/Russia/Assad and the USA/Syrian rebels. The “playing field” is becoming increasingly perilous and we have to be constantly alert to the dangers on our borders.

Let’s start with the power play between Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza. Arlene Kushner explains:

Israel has been supplying a solid percentage (over 50%) of the electricity that was being used by the people of Gaza. Some additional electrical power was secured via one generator located in Gaza.

And a small additional percentage was provided (rather erratically) by Egypt.

With all of this, Gaza was not receiving electricity 24/7: there were substantial blackout periods.

Until very recently, in accordance with agreements reached when Hamas overthrew Fatah in Gaza in 2007, the Palestinian Authority continued to honor certain responsibilities for what goes on in Gaza. This included payment to Israel for the electricity provided – which is supposed to be taken out of the tax revenues collected by Israel for the PA.


Now the PA has begun doing battle with Hamas over control in Gaza. To that end, Mahmoud Abbas is attempting to substantially weaken Hamas.

About two months ago, the PA began to levy heavy taxes on the fuel it delivered to Hamas for Gaza’s electric generator. Subsequently, Hamas, saying the cost was prohibitive, shut it down. That reduced electricity to four hours a day.

Following this, the PA informed Israel that it was going to cut back by 40% on payments for the electricity supplied by Israel. The PA then specifically requested that Israel cut back on the electricity it delivered by a commensurate amount.

About two months ago, the PA began to levy heavy taxes on the fuel it delivered to Hamas for Gaza’s electric generator. Subsequently, Hamas, saying the cost was prohibitive, shut it down. That reduced electricity to four hours a day.

Following this, the PA informed Israel that it was going to cut back by 40% on payments for the electricity supplied by Israel. The PA then specifically requested that Israel cut back on the electricity it delivered by a commensurate amount.

This past Sunday, the Security Cabinet discussed the issue and decided that electric power would be cut back by 40%. This would mean that electric service would be provided to Gaza only some two to three hours a day. It is not clear how this cutback was to proceed – all at once, or in stages.

There are several reasons why the cutback may not be a good idea, but the most compelling is the fact that Abbas is using Israel for his own political ends. We should not be in the middle of a PA-Hamas power play.

And as to be expected, Hamas is using this crisis to stir up even more trouble:

Hamas officials have put out a statement saying that the cutback would be “catastrophic and dangerous because it harms all ways of life in Gaza. It will accelerate the deterioration of conditions and cause an explosion in Gaza.”

Arlene Kushner details even more convolutions in Abbas’ machinations:

Some analysts are saying that Abbas is trying to cause the collapse of Hamas, that he hopes the people will finally have had enough.

But Hamas leaders are not the type to tolerate a popular protest. In any event, Hamas will sidestep blame by telling the people that it’s Israel’s fault.

In fact, a representative of the PA, which requested the cutback, is also blaming it on Israel.

This where Arlene stresses the danger that Israel might get embroiled in a war not of its making. The electricity crisis might drive Hamas into a corner which might then launch a war to distract Gazans from their plight:

How convenient for Abbas, then, to promote a situation that might result in Israel fighting his battles for him. If Hamas attacked and we then took Hamas down, he would claim Gaza. Olso had originally allocated this area to the PA.

From that vantage point, he would have greater world prestige, greater leverage in several quarters. He would proclaim that the Palestinian people were now united in one state.

On the back of our war sacrifice.

There are undoubtedly many reasons to take down Hamas, but this, my friends, is not one of them.

Netanyahu of course is well aware of this situation and is trying to de-escalate it via talks with Egypt, with the latter agreeing to pick up some of the slack:

Egypt will provide hundreds of tons of fuel oil for the Gaza Strip’s only power station, a measure expected to ease the ongoing electricity crisis in the Palestinian enclave, local media reported Tuesday.

The Safa news agency, which is close to Hamas, citing an unnamed official, said that 500 tons of fuel a day will be trucked through the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, enough to bring the power station back on-line.

The power station was expected to return to operation by Wednesday, however, even at full capacity it cannot supply all of Gaza’s electricity needs.

And as if we didn’t have enough to worry about, look who Hamas has been cozying up to:

Israel’s northern border meanwhile has also become very volatile since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. The hostilities are spreading further towards Israel and there is imminent danger of Iran via its proxies taking control of the border region. Things got much more complicated a couple of days ago when the US shot down a Syrian warplane in Russian-controlled airspace, followed by the US shooting down an Iranian-made drone as well.

This prompted the Russians to threaten to shoot down any Western aircraft in the vicinity:

“Any aircraft, including the international coalition’s planes and drones, discovered west of the Euphrates River, will be accompanied by ground and air-based anti-aircraft defenses as aerial targets,” Moscow said in a statement Monday.

The Russians took provocative action by buzzing US Navy ships while Iran flexed its muscles by launching missiles ostensibly at ISIS as the Telegraph reports:

Meanwhile, an armed Russian warplane flew within five of a US reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea on Monday. US officials said the armed Su-27 buzzed past the American aircraft in a way that was “provocative” and “unsafe”.

An Iranian missile is launched at Islamic State targets in Syria, Sunday

In another first, Iran – another close Assad ally – fired ballistic missiles at IS targets in eastern Syria, in the province of Deir el-Zour, later on Sunday. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard described the strike as revenge for Islamic State attacks on Tehran earlier this month that killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 50.

Where does all this leave Israel, particularly as Iran mentioned Israel along with ISIS as being its chief enemy? Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Iran not to threaten Israel:

A day after Iran’s rare missile strike against Islamic State forces in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tehran not to test Israel’s resolve.

“Our security forces constantly monitor Iran’s activities in the area and its efforts to give sophisticated weapon systems to Hezbollah; we monitor their actions and their words, and I have one thing to say to Iran: Don’t threaten Israel,” Netanyahu said.

It is believed that the missile strike was also designed to draw a red line for Sunni terrorist groups and to deter the U.S. and Israel, since the missiles used are considered accurate and can fly some 430 miles.

The good thing is that the Iranian missiles were apparently a big flop:

Iran’s much-vaunted missile strike on Islamic State targets in Syria late Sunday was a flop, with six of the seven medium-range missiles it fired failing to hit their target, Israeli sources said Monday.

But sources quoted in Hebrew media on Monday evening said three of what they said were the seven ballistic missiles didn’t even make it as far as Syria, falling to earth in Iraq, and only one of the seven landed in its intended target, an Islamic State base in Syria’s mostly IS-held Deir Ezzor province. Another of the seven landed hundreds of yards away, in the city of Mayadin.

“If the Iranians were trying to show their capabilities and to signal to Israel and to the Americans that these missiles are operational, the result was rather different,” Channel 2 analyst Ehud Yaari said. It was “a flop,” said Ya’ari. “A failure.” Still, he added dryly, “it photographed well.”

Speaking to The Times of Israel later Monday, Ya’ari said his information was based on security sources, and that these sources were “amazed” at the poor performance of the Iranian missiles. “This is what they have to show for 30 years of missile development? Even Hezbollah can do better,” he quoted the sources as saying.

Ya’ari noted that Iranian officials, trying to cover up the extent of the failure, have been repeating over and over in the past few hours how successful the missile strike was.

Nevertheless Israel must not underestimate its enemy. Concern is growing in Israel over a Shiite corridor linking Iran to the Mediterranean:

As tensions between the US and Iran escalate in Syria, concern is growing in Israel that the Tehran regime is pressing ahead with its goal of carving out a land corridor stretching through Iraq and Syria to the border with the Jewish state, a leading expert on the region said on Tuesday.

Jonathan Spyer — a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center (GLORIA) in Israel who has reported extensively from Syria — told The Algemeiner that Iran’s ultimate goal was to “complete a contiguous corridor from Iran itself via Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and the border with Israel.”

The fast-multiplying confrontations in Syria involving US forces could spiral into a deeper conflict with both Russia and Iran, as both countries attempt to consolidate the territories under their control as ISIS weakens.

The eastern part of Iran’s land link — dubbed by some as the “Shiite corridor” — is reported to have already been secured. In a dispatch from the region earlier this month, Jerusalem-based journalist Seth Frantzman said Iraqi militias allied with Iran reached the border with Syria on May 29.

Spyer warned, “The advance of Iran’s corridor would have a major impact on the type of war Iran and its proxies could in the future wage on Israel. The weeks ahead will show whether the US and its allies on the ground will act to prevent this.”

Let us hope and pray that our leaders keep a steady course and a weather eye on all Israel’s fronts.

*My headline in no way implies that I accept the derogatory epithet of the Arabs calling the Jews “pigs and apes”. My wording is taken simply from the childhood game of one child standing between two others who are throwing the ball over his head.
Posted in Defence and Military, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hitting back at the UN

UN – Useless Nations

Perhaps under the influence of US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who has taken a staunchly pro-Israel stance and has castigated the UN several times for its anti-Israel bias; or maybe because of the wave of terror attacks hitting Western cities; but no matter the reason, it is heartening to see the change in atmosphere at the UN Human Rights Wrongs Council.

Once again, all the Western countries boycotted the annual “Agenda 7” Israel-bashing debate at the UN Human Rights Wrongs Council.

The world’s democracies collectively snubbed the UN Human Rights Council’s annual condemnation of Israel in Geneva on Monday, when none of their representatives attended the council’s presentation and debate on  “Item 7” — a permanent agenda item focused on the “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”

As was the case last year, the seats of all the democratic nations represented on the council were empty for the duration of the discussion, sparking protests from Arab countries.

The United States has never attended an Item 7 debate since the council was established in 2006 as a successor to the Commission on Human Rights. In an address to the council on June 6, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley charged that “Item 7 is a scandalous provision that must be removed.”

Hillel Neuer — executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch NGO — told The Algemeiner that the non-attendance at Monday’s session signaled a “significant stand by the Western democracies against prejudice.”

Neuer added that he himself had taken part in the debate primarily to point out why the democratic countries were absent. “Hopefully, one day Item 7 will be removed,” he said.

In his speech before the council, Neuer observed that “the US, Canada, Australia, all European Union member states, Japan, and other established democracies have boycotted this debate.”

Neuer continued: “The democracies are absent to protest prejudice — because this is the only agenda item that singles out one specific state, the Jewish state, for differential and discriminatory treatment. Not Syria, Sudan or North Korea is treated this way.”

Nonetheless, the absence of these countries did not prevent routine denunciations of Israel, with serial human rights abusers like Syria, Lebanon and Venezuela attacking Israel’s human rights record and depicting it as the “greatest threat to peace in the Middle East.”

This year’s Item 7 debate began with a report from the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, that slammed Israel for its record in implementing the recommendations of various UN bodies and officials since 2009.

Excoriating Israel for what he described as its “repeated failure to comply with the calls for accountability made by the entire human rights system,” al-Hussein warned that the Jewish state could face another negative advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if it did not begin implementing UN recommendations. In 2004, the ICJ ruled that Israel’s West Bank security barrier was a violation of international law.

Hillel Neuer did not take this vicious attack lying down.  This is what he had to say:

Mr. Chair, as I look around the room, I note for the record that, as Oman, Lebanon and others complained, the U.S., Canada, Australia, all European Union member states, Japan, and other established democracies have boycotted this debate.

I have stayed to explain why. The democracies are absent to protest prejudice — because this is the only agenda item that singles out one specific state, the Jewish state, for differential and discriminatory treatment. Not Syria, Sudan or North Korea is treated this way.

Democracies like the U.S. and Canada stayed away because this debate is designed to invert terrorist and victim. On Friday, next to holy sites in Jerusalem, Palestinian terrorists carried out two simultaneous stabbing and shooting attacks, killing 23 year-old Hadas Malka. Both ISIS and Hamas claimed responsibility.

To his credit, UN envoy Nikolay Mladenov condemned Hamas for praising the attacks as ‘heroic.’ Yet why is it that the ‘State of Palestine’ just spoke and refused to condemn the murder?
Why, instead, did his government condemn Israel for the deaths of the attackers, calling it a ‘war crime’?

The inversion of Friday’s terrorist attack is the same inversion underlying today’s report, which seeks to follow up the 2009 Goldstone Report that accused Israel of war crimes for responding to terror attacks by Hamas — just as France, the UK and every other democracy now must respond to Jihadist terrorism.

Finally, Mr. President, why is the UN still trying to implement the Goldstone Report, when its author Goldstone famously retracted its core charge?”

Adding to the scorn poured onto the HRC, the brilliant Anne Bayefsky of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, castigated the UN HRC for ignoring the very antisemitism present at the UN and at the HRC because it did not fit their agenda. Watch her video below:


Another example of antisemitism could have been heard quite clearly at the Security Council where a veteran Algerian “diplomat” compared Gaza to a concentration camp – for which he was condemned by a spokesman for the US Mission to the UN:

“Indecent and irresponsible remarks such as these are another example of the anti-Israel bias at the UN that has to end,” a spokesperson for the US mission to the UN told The Algemeiner following the speech at a Security Council meeting on “the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” given by Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and UN envoy to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

During his address, Brahimi — who spoke as a member “The Elders,” a body of global influencers gathered under the auspices of former US President Jimmy Carter — sympathetically quoted a Palestinian woman in Gaza who told him, “Israel has put us in a concentration camp.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon slammed Brahimi for having made “no mention of Israel’s legitimate right to defend its citizens.” Israel has faced three wars launched by Hamas from Gaza in the previous decade.

“The Security Council has provided a platform to antisemitic comments and a malicious blood libel,” Danon declared in a statement. “This one-sided obsession with Israel is beyond the pale. To accuse the Jewish state of using concentration camps is not only despicable, but it degrades the Security Council and the UN as a whole. We demand that the Security Council renounce Brahimi’s statement immediately.”

The US spokesperson added that American diplomats at the UN had been aware that Brahimi’s presentation might spark uproar. “We insisted on having an alternative briefer, which is why Michael Doran spoke today,” the spokesperson said.

Doran — a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC who served a senior director in the National Security Council under President George W. Bush — told the Security Council the UN “routinely accords Palestinian-Israeli relations a special status that hardly seems justified on the basis of objective observation.” He then criticized the UN for its lack of attention to a range of other regional security challenges, such as Iran’s arming of the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

You can watch Michael Doran’s address to the Security Council here:

I’m still at a loss as to why any Western countries still belong to the UN as it stands today. And of course this applies especially to Israel. It’s way beyond time for the UN to be disbanded and a new organization, consisting of only democracies, to be established in its stead.

Posted in Antisemitism, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Knaves rush in where the authorities fear to tread

As I wrote in my previous post, political correctness has severe consequences.  The West in general, not just the British, are slaves to PC-ness and the worst possible thing that one could do to them is to accuse them of Islamophobia or racism.  But if Muslim extremism is not confronted and stopped, whether because of political correctness or because of simple fear that we will be the next victims of Muslim violence, the man in the street is liable to take the law into his own hands.

The Finsbury Park Mosque, target of the van attack last night

We saw the upshot of this ineffectiveness of the authorities last night, immediately after the Al-Quds day rallies were over. However this time it appears it was an anti-Muslim attacker who rammed his van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers leaving the Finsbury Park mosque after Ramadan prayers last night, killing one person and injuring 10 others.

One man has died after a white hire van hit 11 worshippers leaving a Muslim welfare centre in north London.

The Metropolitan Police said eight people had been taken to hospital after the collision at the junction of Whadcoat Street and Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park.

Scene of the car ramming at Finsbury Park Mosque

A further two people were treated at the scene, where police arrested a man who had been held by members of the public amid angry scenes.

According to a witness who asked to be called Abdulrahman, which is not his real name, the driver of the van said: “I want to kill Muslims.”

Another witness, Adil Rana, 24, said: “The van was driving towards us to try and basically hit us at speed.

“When he got arrested, he was taunting, saying, ‘I’d do it again, I’d do it again’.”

The Metropolitan Police’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu, said: “This is being treated as a terrorist attack and the Counter Terrorism Command is investigating.

It happened outside Finsbury Park’s Muslim Welfare House, which is not far from the Finsbury Park Mosque.

Toufik Kacimi, chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House, said the man who was arrested had to be rescued by the imam at the centre to stop him being attacked.

Mr Kacimi said when he did so, the driver said to him: “I’ve done my bit.”

In a cynical bit of political bandwagon-jumping, the Mosque spokesman tied the attack to the murder of MP Jo Cox last year:

The Finsbury Park Mosque said in a statement on its website: “This is a callous terrorist attack, which coincides with the murdered MP, Jo Cox, anniversary.”

The Mosque spokesman complained about the lack of security for Ramadan:

Given we are approaching the end of the month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid with many Muslims going to local mosques, we expect the authorities to increase security outside mosques as a matter of urgency.”

I find this slightly ironic because the Jewish community has been forced to fund its own security for a very long time, in schools and community centers as well as synagogues, precisely because of the hate emanating from that very same Mosque. This is not to excuse the attack at all, but I thought I should just lay that thought out there.

The Times of Israel report adds:

The neighborhood has two mosques, and several hundred worshipers would have been in the area after attending prayers as part of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and end the day with an iftar meal at sunset.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called an emergency meeting in the wake of the apparent attack, which she called a “terrible incident,” saying, “All my thoughts are with the victims, their families and the emergency services on the scene.”

The chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque, Mohammed Kozbar, said the van crash was a “cowardly attack.” He complained that the “mainstream media” was unwilling to call it a terrorist incident for many hours.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan decried the incident as a “horrific terrorist attack.”

It is gratifying to learn that the Jewish community too decried the attack:

“It seems the van went on to the pavement where there were people drinking coffee after their fast,” Rabbi Herschel Gluck of the Jewish security group Shomrim told The Guardian, reportedly after rushing to the scene. “We are here to support the local community. The hurt are predominantly Muslim.”

It was also noted that the Finsbury Park Mosque was once (is it not still?) a hub of Jihadi incitement:

The mosque near Seven Sisters was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has since become more liberal. Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015. He preached there from 1997 to 2003, and was later extradited to the United States.

This is the Finsbury Park Mosque involved and its previous leader, which might explain why the attacker chose this particular target:

 The mosque became notorious when Abu Hamza al-Masri became the imam in 1997. Hamza, who had one eye and no hands and used hook devices, lied that the injuries were suffered when he fought for al-Qaeda against Russian forces in Afghanistan.

Abu Hamza

In a sermon he spoke about the need for Jihad: “Allah likes those who believe in Him who kill those who do not believe in Him. Allah likes that. So if you Muslims don’t like that because you hate the blood, there is something wrong with you.”

The mosque became a meeting point for militant Islam’s most notorious figures. Zacarias Moussaoui, 9/11’s alleged 20th hijacker, and shoe bomber Richard Reid, were among those to attend the mosque.

Hazam was suspended from Finsbury Park Mosque in April 2002 and sacked in February 2003 by the Charity Commission, a government body that regulates charities in England and Wales.

Hamza continued to preach his particular Islamist rhetoric outside the mosque until he was arrested in 2004 by police on charges of acts of terrorism. The terrorism charges were dropped but Hamza was kept in jail as US authorities sought his extradition.

Hazam was then charged by UK authorities with 15 various offences, including encouraging the killing of non-Muslims, and intent to incite racial hatred. He was found guilty of 11 charges in February 2006 and jailed for seven years.

After a lengthy extradition battle, Hamza was found guilty in New York in May 2014 of conspiring in a deadly kidnapping of 16 Western tourists in Yemen in 1998, trying to set up an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon and aiding al-Qaeda. Hamza, a former strip club bouncer, also revealed his injuries were received at an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan.

He was sentenced in January 2015, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The social media have been buzzing with comments about the double standards in the reaction of the authorities to this van-ramming as opposed to those carried out by Muslims against others. This Facebook post is a good example, and expresses the feelings of many:

Last night’s likely lone wolf revenge attack in Finsbury Park is being labelled “terrorist” by the UK media more quickly and unequivocally than Manchester Arena, London Bridge, and all the assorted Islamofascist atrocities across Europe and the world. And surely, in the light of those, the various ‘British’ Islamic associations can find reasons/explanations for last night’s incident, when they do so easily for those of their murderous coreligionists. Sickening.

If the British authorities, or those anywhere in the civilized world, do not get off their backsides and start dealing strongly and swiftly with the jihadists in their midst, then they cannot be surprised when citizens decide to take the law into their own hands.

However, note to any potential anti-Muslim terrorist: The radical Muslims will not learn the lessons a counter-terrorist will want them to learn. They will just draw the conclusion that they’ll have to carry out even more terror attacks in order to teach us heathens a lesson.

And the loop will continue as the West will learn the wrong lesson – let’s leave the radical Muslims alone because they’ll kill us.

Britain is in a very dangerous situation. However bad it is in Israel, how many counter attacks have there been by Israelis? And I don’t count graffiti on mosques or Arab cars etc. We can count them on the fingers of one hand. That’s because we trust the police and IDF to do their job, and we count on the courts to put the terrorists away. The fact that they get swapped in prisoner deals is a very dangerous thing for the same reason. But in general we know that the authorities will do what they should. It seems that in the UK at least people are obviously not feeling that.   Whether it’s justified or not, this feeling that citizens have been abandoned by the authorities is what causes counter-attacks.

Again, this is NOT to condone the attack or give it any support. On the contrary. Attacks like these can only lead to more counter and counter-counter attacks. They could bring Britain to the verge of civil war. The government MUST step in before it’s too late!

A good place to start would be the banning of next year’s Al-Quds day rally.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Al-Quds Day rally and pro-Israel counter-protest

Despite the protests and petitions, the hateful, hate-inspired and hate-preaching Al Quds Day rally took place in London as planned.  But it did not go unmet. The British Jewish community held a strong counter-protest with some excellent speeches, and then a contingent broke off to physically confront the Al Quds marchers. They almost managed to bring the march to a halt!

And then – disaster struck once again as another van-ramming attack occurred. But this time the tables were turned and the attacker (assuming this was a deliberate attack) was a “white man” who rammed his van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers leaving Finsbury Park mosque after Ramadan prayers. Sadly one person was killed in the attack and several injured.

Let’s recount yesterday’s events in more or less chronological order.

Here is the full video of the pro-Israel protest against the Al Quds hate rally:


If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, you can see the keynote speaker, Kay Wilson’s barnstormer of a speech starting at 21:45. Slide the timer across to watch her. You can read the highlights of Kay’s speech here:

It is both hateful and untrue to say that every Muslim is a terrorist.

It is also untruthful to claim that the terrorism now ravaging Europe is generic and not perpetrated by those belonging to the global Muslim community.

The denial is disingenuous, unhelpful, a patronising absolution of community responsibility and therefore a dangerous form of political correctness gone-mad.

After the attack, my wellbeing only took a turn for the good when I claimed my right to rage at those who murdered my friend.

For the wellbeing of this society, the British people also need to claim their rights to rage at a system that gags them from calling things for what they are, due to fear of being charged with hate speech and being in violation of the Public Order Act Section 5 – an act which increasingly deems values and traditions spawned from Judeo-Christian ethics as offensive.

Personally speaking, I find the blowing up of children at a pop concert and the slitting of young women’s throats on London’s streets far more offensive than a shop owner who hangs a “stop funding terrorism” sign and a Christian who screens Bible verses on a TV in his cafe.

The lawbreakers were told by the British police to take these things down because they were both offensive and an offence under the Public Order Act Section 5.

As a London-born survivor of Islamic terrorism, I too am offended.

I am offended by the allowing of the Al-Quds March Day (an Iranian-backed propaganda tool) that will take place in London on Sunday despite the Mayor expressing his concerns to the Metropolitan Police and a petition signed by thousands stating their outrage.

In the name of free-speech, people will march in support of organisations that the British government has designated as terror groups. It won’t be the first time that they will be allowed to chant hate, vilify “Zionists” and demonise Israel, the sole refuge for Jewish people in the Middle East, and also the lone democracy.

This appalling abuse of free speech coupled with the authorities selectively appropriating the Public Order Act Section 5, is what ensures that British Jewish schools, British Jewish institutions and British synagogues will continue to need security surveillance night and day.

These double standards and the gagging and harassing of individuals who speak question and challenge the system, is also what will guarantee the increasing familiar sight of police and ambulance crews, scraping parts of men women and children off the walls of a cultural arena and London’s streets.

Tragically, those double standards and the politically-correct gagging of protest is what led to the terrible anti-Muslim attack later that night.

But let us return first to the rally.  After the speeches, the pro-Israel rally  set off to confront the Al Quds marchers:

The Jewish counter-demo minced no words as they shouted “terrorists!” at the Al Quds marchers:


And like the elephant in the fable that was scared of a mouse, the Al Quds march was brought to a halt by the pro-Israel demonstrators:

Unfortunately this did not stop the hateful rally continuing on its way in the end. Watch and be sick:

One antisemite even tried to blame the Zionists for the Grenfell tower fire!

Israellycool has extensive coverage of the two rallies, including this outrageous antisemitic (not anti-Israel or anti-Zionist but actual real anti-Jewish) hatred :

And did the police do anything to stop this? After all, racism and incitement are illegal surely? Not when it comes to the Jews apparently. The absurdity of allowing to fly the flag of the “political wing” of Hezbollah when there is absolutely no distinction was pointed out several times, and The Judean People’s Front (☺) writing at Israellycool was on the case:

Aussie Dave has already pointed out the absurdity of the London Police following the IHRC guidelines allowing Hezbollah flags as long as protesters do so “to show support for the political wing of Hizbullah. This is because the political wing of Hizbullah is not a proscribed organisation.” [sic]

During the march, some protesters terror supporters, tried to follow these guidelines. Since there is no flag for the political wing, they resorted to placing stickers on their flags saying “this flag is to show my support for the political wing of Hezbollah.”

Sticker to show the “difference” between the “political” and “military” wings of Hezbollah

Not only is such a distinction foreign from Hezbollah’s own operating structure and statements, but it is a distinction that would not be acceptable for a terror group that didn’t specifically target Jews. There was an uproar recently as it was revealed that at least one of the recent London terrorists openly waved the ISIS flag in a tv documentary. But that outrage was apparently short-lived as thousands of people were then given the go-ahead to march with the flag of another genocidal terrorist organization on Al Quds Day.

It is outrageous that this march was ever allowed to go ahead at all.

But the Judean People’s Front are better people than me. They go on to have a satirical laugh at the expense of the British authorities and mock hypocrisy of this situation. Go and read!

Tragically though, this political correctness has severe consequences. We saw the upshot of the ineffectiveness of the British authorities in standing up to Muslim extremist hatred because of political correctness and the fear of being labelled Islamophobic or racist in the car-ramming attack on Finsbury Park later last night. More to follow in the next blog post. Stay tuned.

Posted in Antisemitism, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments