The ugly side of BDS – and the even uglier ugly side

Words fail me. Whenever you think the Israel-haters and those who would boycott us and want to destroy us, including the BDS movement and its fellow-travellers, could not sink any lower, they start to dig.

The following Facebook post (referenced in the above Times of Israel article), posted by Shamir Rabinovitch, the father of the 13-year old girl who is the subject of this article, speaks for itself.

Here is the translation of Shamir’s introductory words in Hebrew:

The BDS movement is here. Shachar reached out to a lecture (Jewish!) in Cambridge regarding horses, and she received an answer that despite the fact that she is so young she needs to understand that the lecturer does not help Israelis as long as there is an occupation and all that well-known bla bla bla of those self-righteous people (just say already that you want us to die and it would be more elegant). This is the reaction of this trickster, which incredibly was sent to a 13 year old girl, who has not yet manage to kill anyone and davka quite supports world peace and brotherhood.

The following tweet by David Collier preserves the Facebook post in a screenshot in case it is ever removed:

The story has gone viral all over the Jewish and Israeli media. Here are some Facebook reactions:

An enterprising reader wrote to Cambridge to complain:

letter no Haya


The reader got a quick reply! Denial and distancing is the name of the game. Good!


But the story gets worse!! As I said earlier, just when you think BDS can’t get any worse, they dig themselves in further.

The Jewish Chronicle contacted Marsha Levine for a reaction to the uproar she has instigated – and she justified her revolting answer to Shachar by saying the Israelis are the new Nazis!: (h/t Marcus Dysch):

Contacted by the JC on Tuesday, the American former academic defended her response.

She said: “I didn’t ask her to email me. I don’t know how she got my email address. I can do whatever I want. I didn’t invite her to email me. If she wanted to read anything I had written she could find it on the internet.

“I made the decision that I have the choice not to waste my time on people who tread on the rights of other people. I didn’t do anything to her. I said that when there is justice for Palestine I will answer her – that’s a fair answer. I’m a signatory to Jews for Justice for Palestinians and I sent her a link. I did it as a matter of conscience. The way Israel treats Palestinians is totally disgusting.”

Dr Levine said she wanted Miss Rabinovitch to stand up to violence when she grows up.

“The violence against Palestinians never stops”, the Cambridge-based former academic said. “The people who live in Gaza cannot get education, health, water. What does it say about Jews that they support that? Jews have turned themselves into monsters.

“I want this girl not to worry about horses. I don’t need people emailing me. I’m not an academic anymore. My research was all in the past. I’m doing other things now. I don’t see any obligation to further her ego or make her feel better about herself. I don’t think it’s about her – I think it’s about her parents.

“I gave her useful information which might help her for the rest of her life. I have to stand up for what I believe in.

“Benjamin Netanyahu wants ethnic cleansing. The Jews have become the Nazis. Jews are behaving just like the people who treated them. It’s not all Israelis or all Jews.

Our old sages had a saying: השנאה מקלקלת את השורה- which roughly translated means “hatred destroys clear thinking”. Never has an aphorism been truer or more apposite than in this case. This woman should be ejected and rejected from all free-thinking and freedom-loving society.

Posted in Academia, Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Israel marks the exodus of Jews from Arab countries

With the world’s obsessive focus on the plight of Palestinian refugees (who are the fattest, best fed and most educated of any refugees anywhere in the world) and with the current Middle East refugee crisis swamping Europe, it is of utmost importance not to forget the plight of the Jewish refugees who fled a hostile Arab world in 1947-48 after thousands of years of living amongst the Arabs.

Bataween of the blog Point fo No Return compares the ethnic cleansing of the Jews of the Middle East to the Arab refugees created in 1948 and remarks “In our major Nakba we are alone”:

Most of you will be surprised by this, but we Jews have a Nakba too, and it’s a major Nakba. It’s a Nakba which is marked on November 30, when we commemorate the expulsion and uprooting of about one million Jews during the 20th century from their homeland in the Arab and Muslim world. Thousands of years of Jewish presence in those countries, even before the era of Islam, had come to an end.

Unfortunately, our Nakba is private, as it has no international or even national support, it has no Israeli and foreign organizations which recognize it and work to raise Israeli and international awareness of its existence. It has no organizations to support it, write about it, interview us, photograph us, write scientific articles about us, the refugees who came from Arab countries.

The 30th of November was belatedly designated last year by the Israeli government as the annual Memorial Day for the Jews of Arab countries, and it was marked yesterday by the country:

Israel is marking on Monday its annual Memorial Day of the expulsion of some 850,000 Jews from Arab states and Iran.

At Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed that there be an expansion of education on the heritage of Jews from Arab countries and Iran, and that consideration be given to a proposal to establish a Prime Minister’s Prize for academic research into the issue.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to flee Muslim countries in the years preceding and directly after the 1948 creation of the State of Israel. Known collectively as Mizrahi Jews, the community has gained political power in recent years alongside increased recognition of its members’ refugee status and celebration of their cultures.

The cabinet discussion preceded a UN discussion of the subject scheduled for Tuesday. Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel (Likud) was scheduled to fly to New York City to speak at the UN session.

“For years, more than a million Jews lived in flourishing communities and had a rich cultural life in Arab countries and in Iran,” Gamliel said Sunday. “Our goal now is to tell their story.”

A ceremony held Monday in Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem will be the main national commemoration event.

The commemoration was legislated in 2014 and the Memorial Day was first officially observed that year. The date, one day after the UN voted to approve the Jewish-Arab partition plan of Palestine on November 29, 1947, was chosen for its symbolic significance, evoking the pressure against Jews to leave their homelands amid the anger of the local Arab populaces over the vote.

Jews in Arab and Muslim countries started flocking to Israel before the establishment of the modern state but the number of refugees surged after 1947, mostly at the direction of the Arab League.

Flourishing communities from across the Middle East dwindled and in many cases disappeared completely.

Today Jews of eastern descent make up more than half of Israel’s population.

The Foreign Ministry will hold official commemorations through its branches around the world in an effort to increase international awareness of the subject, especially the rights of refugees to receive compensation for the property they left behind.

According to a report in Hebrew-language paper Israel Hayom, the official ceremonies held by Israeli delegations to various countries will strive to emphasize the fact that some 850,000 Jews escaped persecution in countries in the Arab Middle East, Iran, Turkey and Africa, a number exceeding the estimated 700,000 Palestinians who fled their homes in what became the State of Israel in 1948.

The Ministry for Social Equality has been documenting the revoked rights, stolen property and lost heritage of communities hailing from Arab countries and Iran since October 2009, before the commemoration was legislated.

Lyn Julius of the Harif Organization for Middle Eastern and North African Jews, writes about “Remembering the Jewish refugees on 30th November“:

Linda Hakim left Iraq for London in 1970. But she has never been able to shake off the fear she had felt growing up as a Jew.

She heard mobs in Baghdad, after Israel’s Six Day War victory, screaming ‘death to Israel, death to the Jews.”

She will never forget the TV spectacle of nine innocent Jews — some only teenagers — swinging from the gallows in Baghdad’s main square in 1969 as hundreds of thousands sang and danced under the bodies.

Even when her family had boarded the plane bound for London having abandoned their home and possessions, they could not let down their guard. The Iraqi police arrested a classmate of Linda’s and escorted him off the plane. Even today, every time she sees a police uniform, Linda’s heart races.

Linda found a haven in England, and her children have grown up in freedom, tolerance and acceptance. But in its obsession with Palestinian refugees, the world has never recognised the trauma that a greater number of Jewish refugees from 10 Arab lands and post-1979 Iran went through — human rights violations, wholesale robbery, seizure of property, internment, even execution. The ethnic cleansing of the Arab world’s Jews preceded the persecution of its Christians, its Yazidis and others.

Lyn Julius makes the following very important point how anti-Western Jihad evolved from the Muslims’ antisemitism:

Refugees like Linda and their descendants make up more than half Israel’s Jews. To-date, their voices have been muffled, their stories unheard, their rights trampled on.

The antisemitism they suffered in Arab lands is still with us today. It has morphed into religious jihad — whether in the stabbings on Israel’s streets or in an attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Watch the 50-minute movie at the above link too.

Here is a shorter video (6 minutes) by the famous film-maker Pierre Rehov (who debunked the al-Dura hoax) about the Jewish refugees of the Middle East:


For more on the Jewish Refugees Commemoration Day, read my post from last year, including an extraordinary video of powerful speech by George Deek, the Israeli Ambassador to Norway, a Palestinian Christian whose family were also affected by the events of 1948. Here is the link. Read it all.

We must not forget! Nor must we let the world forget.

Posted in Antisemitism, History, Israel news, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post: A reader’s pictorial travelogue of his visit to Israel

Today is the 29th of November, the 68th anniversary of the UN’s Partition Plan for Palestine, which laid the basis for Israel’s independence. The day is known in Hebrew by a mish-mash of Hebrew numerics (with letters replacing numbers) and the Gregorian calendar as Kaf Tet be’November, and is usually marked by Arab agitation in the UN to undo what was done so long ago. Of course if they had accepted that partition plan, and not gone to war in 1948, the Palestinians would have had a state for themselves long ago. But that’s a whole other story.

However with perfect timing for the day, to celebrate the Jewish people’s existence and sovereignty in our own land, here is a wonderful travelogue with beautiful pictures taken by one of my readers.

The pictures and text are by Yves Peloquin, a reader from Canada, who wrote to me earlier in the year asking for suggestions of places to visit when he comes to Israel. I sent him a few ideas, but as you can see from the fabulous pictures below, Yves managed very well on his own. He visited here with his wife during October (just as the current violence started) and had the great fortune to enjoy glorious weather. A week or two earlier it was unbearably hot, and shortly after they returned to Canada we were under floods of water!

Enjoy the pictures of our beautiful country.

I came back from Israel a few weeks ago.  I had a great time in Israel. The country didn’t look like any other ones that I saw before.

I spent the first four days in Jerusalem (Arthur hotel), moved to Safed in Galilee for 4 days (  a great place owned by very nice people), went to the Dead Sea  (Ein Bokek)  for 2 days and came back to Jerusalem for another 4 days.

The first day, to better understand the size of the old city I walked around the whole wall in about 90 minutes. This is how I came in contact with the Jaffa gate, Zion gate, Dung gate, Golden gate, Lion gate, Damascus Gate, New Gate.

When you turn on the East side of the wall the Kidron valley is between you and the Mount of Olives.

All these small protuberance are tombs. Some people pay up to $30,000 to be buried here.

Some of these tombs are 2,500 years old. Here is  the huge tomb of priest Zachariah.

Then I entered the old city by the Jaffa gate. I don’t think any new visitor can truly  anticipate what he will find on the other side. There is a whole labyrinth of mostly covered narrow street, packed by a myriad of Arab’s souk, where you have to negotiate your passage among others individual tourists, tour groups, soldiers, and Arab merchants who will never miss the quick look that you will invariably throw in their souk (it then becomes a challenge for this Arab merchant  to make you walk in his boutique. How many times did I hear one of these: “Come inside my boutique, Vous parlez Français, English?  Where do you come from? I have nice scarves inside for your wife, Come taste my pomegranate juice, Today I will make a great special for you, etc.”) I quickly learned two rules to minimize the harassment; Don’t ask a price if you are not really interested by the item,  Never touch something if you don’t want to buy it.  And there is only one rule if you want to buy something: Never, ever pay the price they ask. They all love the negotiating game and you quickly realize that every price is inflated.

The narrow street are really something. They are made of stones that became polished by hundred years of usage.  You always walk up or down as it is rarely flat. Wherever you go you need to cross dozens of small slippery flight of steps. There are so many thing to distract you that sooner or later you will miss a step. Fortunately they are only a few inches and it is unlikely that you will hurt yourself. I know by experience.

If you are curious and after changing streets several times you finally reach the Western wall. Before my trip I often watched  an online webcam that shows the Wall live 24 hours a day  so I knew what to expect. But I was not prepare for the relatively small size of the wall (about 30 meters)  the solemnity of the site, the religious fervor of the Jews who were praying.

See below in the cracks of the wall the thousands of small pieces of paper containing requests written by believing people.

Here are some other great places I went:

The Solomon’s caves. A gigantic quarry where it is believe that Solomon and many other builders got the huge stone they needed to build Jerusalem. We walked half an hour through beautiful caves right outside the northern side of the Old City wall.

The Jerusalem Citadel with David’s Tower in the back. The tower, which has nothing to do with David, was named that way because at one point people believed that the citadel was the vestige of Davids’s palace.

Then we hired a private guide for a three hours visit of the archeological site of the Old City of David. This is the site that King David captured from the Jebusites. The next two pictures (not from me) show the map of the site and the Zedekiah’s tunnel that we walked through for 40 minutes with water up to the thighs at the beginning.  The visit was really worth it.

The Old city of David is on the south site of the wall near the Dung Gate. Just on the left there is the Zion Gate and south of it a cemetery with a very well known occupant (thanks to Steven Spielberg)

Just  after visiting the Old City of David, I came by the entrance of the 2,000 year-old fortress of the Chanukah villain Antiochus Epiphanes, while the workers were leaving for the day. At first they didn’t want me to have a peek but in the end, because I was a tourist, they let me in for a few minutes.  (I didn’t know that the site was link to that monster  Antiochus Epiphanes until I read Anne’s post about it).

At the Beit She’arim National Park  (in the Lower Galilee), recently added to UNESCO’s world heritage sites, we visited an old cemetery and its 30 rock-cut Jewish tombs. All the tombs were carved out of soft limestone. An amazing site to visit.

We went to Nazareth and drive up Mount of Precipice. The view of Mount Tabor and two small Arab villages was really great.

In the Zippori village we had a private tour of an olive plantation with the owner. No need to say that all we saw was quite new to us.

The guy uses an electric tool to comb the olives tree branch and dislodge the olives. The olives fall on a net at the bottom of the tree.  From a conveyor belt the olives are drop under a stone wheel and the oil is extracted.

Next a view from Tel Megiddo site.

Tel Megiddo, site of Armageddon

Next we went on a private tour on the lake of Galilee  with a great guy. A beautiful day,

A quick swim in the lake (the Kinneret, or the Sea of Galilee). The water was perfect. In the background, a view to the magnificent Arbel Cliff which we climbed down next morning.

The original thing with the Arbel Cliff is that you start at the top and go down for a three hours hiking. The views are quite spectacular.

We then stopped at a banana plantation, nobody around and we visited by ourselves (near Ginosar  on road 90):

At this stage bananas are as hard as an apple is.

Next, we visited Korazim national Park.

Next, after a short visit to the church of Beatitudes we found that view on our way back to Safed.  The picture doesn’t do justice to this great landscape.

Next, returning to the Jerusalem area, we visited Beit Guvrin Maresha National Park (a newly added UNESCO world heritage site). Could you guess what are these niches carved in the wall? (The wall is part of a huge cave found several feet under the soil.

Next we travelled to the Dead Sea. We found an impressive view of the Dead Sea near Ein Bokek.

Following that we spent one hour in the Negev Desert on a camel. (As usual I am following in the back, it has been like that since the wedding. I am sure she told the guide to put me there.) :-)

Next stop: Going down Masada after a few hours exploring the site.. We climbed it up early in total darkness (before 5h30 AM) with flashlights to see the sun rise.

We then returned to Jerusalem and visited the Israel Museum. We saw a display of an altar:

And here are beautiful cylinders used to keep the books of the Torah in a synagogue.

Next, we went to the Shrine of the Book, on the Israel Museum site, It was built to hold the Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts.

Inside the Shrine the manuscripts are displayed to the public:

This next picture was taken in Jerusalem on the corner of Malchei Israel Street. and Yona Street on a Thursday night. It is the heart of the Orthodox Jewish life.

Two days before leaving:  Going up to see the Dome of the Rock.

And view from Mount of Olives taken a few days before:

In spite of the violence in the  news we were never afraid wherever we went.

In the first week single soldiers were a common sight everywhere.  I went to the grocery store one night and the guy in front of me was with his girlfriend. He was holding a bottle of water in one hand and his rifle in the other. Once you have seen this you don’t mind them any more.   But in the second week they were never alone.

So I am back. My wife bought enough Olive oil for a year, she now washes herself with soap made of camel milk (yes I still have to sleep in the same bed), she brought several small bags of mud from the Dead Sea and so far, my daughters are still unaware of what their mother plans to do with it and with them (poor girls). At the airport of Tel Aviv she bought two bottles of wine at the Duty Free. We had to switch planes in Toronto with only 40 minutes before boarding for Montreal. Guess what? you cannot bring more than 100 ml of liquid in a plane in Canada, a bottle of wine is 750 ml. Because of the security we missed our plane and had to wait two more hours for the next one. My wife is better not to be seen drinking that wine while eating her Friday night pizza.

And to conclude:

In Israel cats are everywhere. Nobody owns them and they go everywhere.

Anne adds:

Yves, this has been the most enjoyable post that I’ve posted in a very long time. Thank you  for all the work!  Your photos are fantastic, so clear and beautiful, and your little comments brought your visit to life. I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit and I hope you come back again soon. I also hope your pictures will inspire other readers to come and visit.

I should note that indeed, most Israeli cats wander free, but not all. My own cat was once a street cat but is now house-trained and living a very pampered existence with me and my family. :-)

And lastly – your last paragraph had me laughing out loud! :-D

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Israel news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Good News Friday

So the world is melting down all around us while here in Israel, things aren’t exactly quiet and peaceful. But as I’ve mentioned many times, Shabbat is still approaching and we want to read some good news to put us into a better frame of mind. With that in mind, here is this week’s Good News Friday installment.

Hacking away at the Toyota Israel Tech Center event

Starting with the “Israel is not isolated” theme, Japan hosted an Israeli hi-tech delegation to promote innovation across its industries:

After running a successful hackathon in Israel in October, Toyota has decided that it wants more Israeli innovation – and this time it’s bringing that innovation to its home base.

This month, the company is holding an event during which members of an Israeli delegation are meeting some 50 representatives from the purchasing and R&D departments of the company.

The event is just one of several that the newly established Israel trade office in Osaka is setting up. The new branch, in one of the world’s leading financial centers, will open up new economic opportunities for Israeli companies, including Japan’s large automakers, said Amit Lang, director general of the Israeli Economy Ministry, who is in Osaka to inaugurate the new center as well as lead a delegation of Israeli automotive supply companies as part of his working visit to the country.

The goal of the Israeli delegation, organized with the Israel Export Institute, is to create business ties between Israeli companies and potential business partners in the field of auto services in an effort to increase exports to Japan, said Lang. It also aims at presenting Japanese companies with possibilities of investing in Israel.

“Over the past year, there has been a noted increase in the interest of Japanese companies in Israel in a variety of fields, evidenced by the arrival of Japanese companies to Israel and their willingness to host Israeli companies in Japan,” Lang said.

According to the Economy Ministry’s Foreign Trade Administration, trade between Israel and Japan reached $2.3 billion in 2014, with exports reaching $800 million and imports $1.5 billion.

This is excellent news for both Israel and Japan. Long may this mutually beneficial relationship continue and strengthen!

Speaking of the Far East, Israeli tech ties with China are also booming, and the ties are growing stronger:

China and Israel established diplomatic relations a mere 20 years ago, but the countries are steadily drawing closer over a common vision – expanding the innovation economy. Israel and China already have in excess of $10 billion in trade since the start of 2015, with China recently asking Israel to join the Asia Infrastructure bank as a founding member, suggesting that Israel may become a major economic ally.

The last year has seen a real surge in investment funds and private investors coming to Israel from the Land of the Dragon, in part due to the easy access to the Middle Eastern country’s markets and the riveting can-do attitude of local entrepreneurs that the Chinese say they can identify with.

It is Israel’s open, innovative and risk-taking approach to tech that initially attracted notable Chinese billionaire Li Ka-Shing to invest in ten Israeli companies, including Waze, in 2012 alone. Through his fund Horzions Ventures, Li set the stage for tech relations with Israel, showing his country’s business elite that it was financially sound and even necessary for the future of the Chinese economy to invest in emerging technologies.

According to Gigi Levi, one Israel’s top angel investors, China may even “look up” to Israel for its Startup Nation title. “Israel is a small nation that has managed to become a high-tech superpower,” he tells NoCamels, “This is something that is very appealing to the Chinese business person.”

The article reports that the Chinese are most interested in mobile phone technology and clean-tech, all of which are Israel’s specialities. It’s not all rosy of course. China comes with its own set of problems, both political and economic, but it is still a gigantic market ready for Israel.

A Tel Aviv beach

Next on my “Israel is not isolated” list is the news that a British travel group is to hold its annual conference in Israel:

While different organizations in the United Kingdom are calling for a boycott of Israeli products and institutions, the British Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) has decided to hold its annual conference in Israel of all places.

The three-day ITT Conference 2016 will take place in early June at the Hilton Tel Aviv Hotel. During this visit to Israel, the guests will tour different tourist sites such as the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi and Jerusalem.

ITT is a British institute dedicated to promoting and training professionals in the travel industry and its members include individuals involved in travel and tourism – whether employed by a travel agency, airline, tour operator, hotel, tourist office, car hire company or any other travel related business such as PR, law and marketing.

Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said ITT’s decision to hold its conference in Israel was a significant show of faith in the Israeli tourism industry.

This is really very good news, both for Israel’s tourism industry and for our trade relations with Britain. And of course it’s a very nice kick in the teeth for the BDS bigots. :-)

Kol hakavod to the ITT who made the excellent decision to hold their conference here. I’m sure the participants will have a fantastic time and let’s hope it will lead to many more British tourists visiting Israel.

On a similar theme, Jerusalem was chosen as one of the best cities in the world by the Conde Nast Travellers Readers’ Choice Awards:

Israel features in 11 categories in the Condé Nast Traveler’s 28th annual Readers’ Choice Awards. Jerusalem, El Al, and select Eilat, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv hotels were chosen as among the world’s best in their different travel groupings.

Jerusalem was named as one of the Best Cities in the World.

Goodness! El Al?? I well remember the days when El Al stood for “Every landing always late”. :-P

Seriously, well done to Conde Nast, and of course to our beloved Jerusalem.

itai adn his archeological find

Itai and his archaeological find

And now a cute archaeological story: An 8-year old Israeli “Indiana Jones wannabe” stumbled upon a 1st Temple-era figurine in Bet Shemesh:

An eight-year-old Israeli boy on a daytrip with his family in the Beit Shemesh area accidentally made an important archaeological discovery last week, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.

Itai Halpern of Pardesiya was granted a certificate of honor after discovering the head of a statue from the First Temple period and turning it in to Antiquities Authorities’ officials. Halpern’s school class was also invited to take part in an archaeological dig.

Halpern was hiking with his family when he picked up a round object from the ground. He soon realized that the ceramic object was the head of a sculpture.

The family quickly reported their discovery to the Antiquities Authority. Archaeologist Alexander Glick met the family and informed them that they had made a discovery of historical significance. Itai told Glick that he had recently seen an Indiana Jones movie and wanted to be like him when he grows up. Finding the statue was a dream come true for Itai.

Alon de Groot, an IAA expert on the Iron Age, identified the finding as the head of a sculpture of a fertility goddess.

De Groot added that “these figurines serve in our research as a marker for the area controlled by the Kingdom of Judah.”

How fascinating! I’m sure that Itai will never forget that day trip!

Israeli Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Aaron Ciechanover is interviewed by Ayala Shapira

Another child prodigy, a real heroine, is Ayala Shapira who was so badly burned last year in a terror attack and who has made a remarkable recovery. She still has a way to go in her rehabilitation from the terrible burns she received, but she doesn’t let that keep her down. This week she interviewed Israeli Nobel Prizewinner Aharon Ciechanover in his chemistry lab in Haifa University. This is what she writes:

The emotional meeting took place in Ciechanover’s laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine’s building at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. This is what she wrote:

When I got to interview the Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry I expected to see an honorable man, perhaps in a suit. I was surprised when a likeable man walked in wearing jeans, with dozens of car models made of wood lying on his desk. He was as energetic and enthusiastic as a child.

Prof. Ciechanover patiently answered my questions. I tell him that I also love technology and science and mathematics, and am very interested in learning and research. I reveal to him that every time a device breaks down at home I ask to take it apart and see how it is built and how it works.

“The important thing is to do what you most love in the best way,” he advised me. “If you love literature, you could be a great writer, and perhaps one day become a Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature.”

Prof. Ciechanover is right. Ayala is truly a remarkable girl who has gret determination to recover and get on with her life. With that indomitable spirit, she will indeed go very far indeed. Kol hakavod Ayala! You are a true hero of Israel, may you continue in your recovery from strength to strength!

And finally, on a happy but bittersweet note, as I write this post on Thursday evening (Fridays are too short in the winter) the postponed wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Biegel is taking place. Sarah is the daughter of Rabbi Yaakov Litman Hy’d who was murdered in a terror attack near Otniel just two weeks ago along with his son Netanel Hy’d, Sarah’s brother, as the family was on the way to Ariel’s Shabbat Chatan.

The shiva ended earlier this week, and now the family have heroically turned their mourning into celebration. Arutz Sheva has some amazing pictures and videos. Get your tissues ready!

Sarah-Tehiya Litman had to postpone her wedding after her father and brother were murdered in a drive-by shooting near Hevron almost two weeks ago, but on Thursday night she and her fiance Ariel Beigel went from tears to joy as they got married in Jerusalem.


Noa Litman is overcome with emotion at her daughter’s wedding


Aside from those attending, yet others are donating to help, and Jews have arrived from as far as the US and Canada to take part in the mitzvah (commandment) to bring joy to the bride and groom.

Action photo of the groom breaking the glass under the Chuppah

Action photo of the groom breaking the glass under the Chuppah

Litman’s father, Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, and her brother Netanel Litman, were gunned down by an Arab terrorist as they made their way to a Shabbat Hatan – the Sabbath celebration for the groom before a wedding – at Beigel’s home.

Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Biegel celebrate at their wedding

Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Biegel celebrate at their wedding

Shortly after the wedding ceremony, Sarah-Tehiya and Ariel thanked the public that arrived to help them celebrate.

“Up until two weeks ago no one knew or was interested in me and Ariel, and then in one moment on Friday at the peak of preparations dad and my brother were murdered by a cruel terrorist,” said Sarah-Tehiya.

“There isn’t a moment that I don’t miss Netanel’s smile, or father’s humility and modesty, and that will always accompany me,” she said. “But precisely from the pain in the month of courage before Hanukkah we will, together with all the nation of Israel, spread a great light of joy, giving and love that the nation of Israel has inundated upon us.”

Here is Sarah as she starts on her way to her wedding, throwing sweets to kindergarten children in celebration as her friends accompany her with singing:

And here is a short video of the Chuppah:

Just as all of Israel and the Jewish people have been invited to join in this wedding, and so many people have donated gifts and money to the young couple, I’m sure you all join me in wishing Sarah Techiya and Ariel a hearty mazal tov and all the blessings in the world for a happy future together. May they build a strong home in Israel, fill it with many children, and may the whole family be comforted by the blessed memory of their father Rabbi Yaakov Litman Hy’d and his son Netanel H’yd. I am sure they are smiling down from Heaven.

May the coming week hold only blessings and peace for all of Am Yisrael. I would also like to wish Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in International relations, Israel news, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Meanwhile, upheaval in the rest of the world

While we in Israel have been caught up with the wave of terror and violence that has been sweeping Israel in recent months, the rest of the world has not been standing idly by.

Paris, Brussels and the rest of Europe:

After the Paris massacre, the hunt for the perpetrators and associated terrorists has continued, with Brussels being the focus of the search and under a lockdown for the past few days, and even London being caught up in it for a few hours.

Belgian troops patrol Brussels as hunt for Paris perpetrators continues


AKP supporters celebrate their electoral win

With all that has been going on in our own backyard, it was easy to miss the Turkish snap elections held at the beginning of November. These elections were held because after last June’s elections, Erdogan’s AKP Party could not form a government. The election results were much more dismal than could have been hoped for, as Erdogan’s party regained his massive majority:

Turkey’s ruling party has reclaimed its majority in a stunning landslide victory, after tens of millions of people across the country turned out to cast their vote in today’s elections.

[…]  It is a huge personal victory for the 61-year-old President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s divisive strongman who may now be able to secure enough support for his ambitions to expand his role into a powerful U.S.-style executive presidency.

[…]  The party took more than 49 per cent of the vote, to secure 315 seats in the 550-member parliament with nearly all votes counted.

The Leftist pro-Kurdish HDP has also once again crossed the 10 per cent threshold it needed to secure seats in the new parliament.

Mr Erdogan called for a new election after Mr Davutoglu failed to form a coalition with any of the three opposition parties in parliament after the June vote.

Some believe, however, that Mr Erdogan never wanted a coalition government anyway and goaded Mr Davutoglu into trying to win back a majority in a new election.

The result will come as a shock to most analysts, who predicted that the AKP would once again fall short and be forced to form a coalition.

Most had predicted that the June elections had left Mr Erdogan weakened, with the main opposition and pro-Kurdish parties gaining ground against him.

The elections were preceded by two massive deadly bomb blasts in which over 100 people were killed, followed by much finger-pointing at “the usual suspects”, i.e. ISIS.  Or maybe the Kurds. Or both.  The Washington Post explains:

[…] the past few months have seen a worrying unraveling within Turkey, with the economy slumping, the decades-old conflict with Kurdish separatists flaring up, and suspected Islamist militants striking targets within the nation.[…] On Oct. 10, two bomb blasts ripped through a leftist peace rally in Ankara, the Turkish capital, killing 102 people. It was the worst terror attack in Turkey’s modern history. This week, the prosecutor’s office in Ankara pinned the blame on Islamic State militants, linking thee explosions to a deadly July bombing of a similar rally in the Turkish border town of Suruc.

Erdogan, meanwhile, declared that the Ankara bombing was possibly the work of a combined plot of jihadists, Syrian intelligence and the PKK, an outlawed Kurdish militant group that’s deemed a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the United States. It’s an outlandish theory that holds little water for most analysts, but it reflects Turkey’s own political divisions.

Russia and Ukraine:

A quick reminder that Russia invaded Crimea last year, preliminary to invading parts of eastern Ukraine. A civil war has been ongoing in the region ever since with several thousand casualties, and several Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in response. The UN even took time out from condemning Israel in order to hold a special meeting on Russia’s invasion.


Maybe out of a sense of vindictiveness, and probably also to create and keep a Mediterranean seaport for itself in Syria, Russia went to the aid of Bashar Assad in his brutal war against the rebels trying to depose him. Putin’s ostensible excuse was that he wanted to overcoem ISIS, which is the world’s favourite bogeyman at the moment.

However instead of bombing ISIS positions, Putin’s first targets were the Western-supported Syrian rebels. This transformed Russia into the world’s second bogeyman.

Similarly, with the new Turkish government in place, it seemed the stage was set for the Western powers to take on Bashar Assad and Iran in Syria. But Turkey, like Russia, was first of all looking out for its own self interest, and has been bombing Kurdish positions – those Kurds who are best placed to defeat ISIS, as well as bombing ISIS too.

Turkey vs. Russia

Yesterday Turkey inexplicably complicated matters by shooting down a Russian fighter jet over what it says is Turkish airspace, while Russia insists the plane stayed within Syrian airspace.

Turkish forces shot down a Russian Su-24 warplane near the Syrian border, Moscow confirmed Tuesday, although it denied that the jet had crossed the border into Turkey from Syria.

Russian plane being shot down over Syria-Turkey border

The Turkish army said that the plane had violated Turkish airspace 10 times within a five minute period and was shot down by two Turkish F-16s. However Russia insisted that the plane was inside Syrian airspace.

A Russian helicopter was also seriously damaged by fire, but was able to conduct an emergency-landing in regime-held territory.

Reports said two pilots had ejected from the plane and Turkish television pictures showed two white parachutes descending to the ground.

The CNN-Turk channel said Syrian Turkmen forces fighting the Russian-backed regime of President Bashar al-Assad captured one pilot.

Turkey’s Dogan news agency broadcasted footage of what it said was Russian helicopters flying over Syrian territory in an apparent search for the lost pilots.

But a video sent to Reuters in the hour after the crash – apparently of Syrian origin – shows a group of Syrian rebels of unclear origin gathered around the body of one of the pilots, announcing his death and shouting “Allahu Akhbar.”

Arutz Sheva has videos of the shooting down of the plane, pilots and helicopter:

Russia has ominously warned of “consequences” for this act without specifying precisely what it plans to do and accused Turkey of stabbing it in the back.

David Waywell on Tim Marshall’s blog, (Marshall was formerly foreign correspondent for Sky News), remarks that Turkey has done the impossible – it has given Russia the moral high ground and Putin will milk this for all he’s worth:

Turkey might be a member of NATO yet it’s Russia today claiming international legitimacy. They are sure to find people in and outside Western governments willing to agree with their assessment. Russia has cleverly positioned itself as a power fighting the threat of ISIS. Just days ago photographs emerged of bombs hanging from beneath Russian aircraft. On the bombs, written in Russian, was ‘For Paris’. It explains Putin’s calculated words today about Turkey’s actions being ‘a stab in the back’.

Turkey’s involvement in the Middle East is being quietly questioned with Western intelligence believing that there has been continued cooperation between the ISIS leadership and Turkish officials. In a choice between trusting Erdoğan or Putin, it’s not entirely sure that Western leaders wouldn’t choose Putin who rarely overplays his hand. NATO will do nothing to isolate Turkey (the alliance is older than current presidency) but it reminds us that there is more at stake than the future of Syria.


As if this was not enough, trouble has loomed once again in Tunisia, the “cradle” of the “Arab Spring” that turned into winter. An explosion hit a bus carrying Presidential guards, killing 12 people, and a state of emergency has been declared:

Tunisia’s president declared a 30-day state of emergency across the country and imposed an overnight curfew for the capital after an explosion Tuesday struck a bus carrying members of the presidential guard, killing at least 12 people and wounding 20 others.

The government described it as a terrorist attack. The blast on a tree-lined avenue in the heart of Tunis is a new blow to a country that is seen as a model for the region but has struggled against Islamic extremist violence. Radical gunmen staged two attacks earlier this year that killed 60 people, devastated the tourism industry and rattled this young democracy.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack against the presidential guard, an elite security force that protects only the president.

President Beji Caid Essebsi, who wasn’t in the bus at the time, declared the state of emergency and curfew on the Tunis region. He convened an emergency meeting of his security council for Wednesday morning.


Last week Islamist terrorists besieged the Radisson Hotel in Bamako, capital of Mali, eventually killing 27 people including an Israeli citizen:

An Israeli national was among 27 people killed Friday in a siege by Islamist terrorists at a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital of Bamako, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Saturday, according to the Israeli media.

He was named as Shmuel Benalal, who worked as an educator with the Koby Mandell Foundation charity and as a consultant to various governments around the world. He was working with the Mali government as an education consultant.

Benalal, 60, lived in Tzur Hadassah, and was married with three children.

What a terrible tragedy. May his memory be for a blessing. יהי זכרו ברוך.

The Foreign Ministry also confirmed that another Israeli was rescued from the hostage-takers by security forces, the Hebrew-language Walla website reported.

Islamist terrorists stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako on Friday morning, firing automatic weapons and seizing more than 100 guests and staff.

Shmuel Benalal (Courtesy)

The siege ended after some nine hours when local and French special forces carried out a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue, according to local television and security sources. The assault was claimed by al-Qaeda affiliate the al-Murabitoun group, led by notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar.


But finally, some good news, albeit far away on the other side of the world. Argentina’s elections brought the Kirchner era to an end, bringing in the right-leaning opposition:

Opposition candidate Mauricio Macri won Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday, marking an end to the left-leaning and often combative era of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who along with her late husband dominated the country’s political scene for 12 years and rewrote its social contract.

Mauricio Macri, new president of Argentina

Ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli, Fernandez’s chosen successor, conceded late Sunday and said he had called Macri to congratulate him on a victory that promises to chart Argentina on a more free market, less state interventionist course.

“Today is a historic day,” said Macri, addressing thousands of cheering supporters as horns were heard blaring across Buenos Aires. “It’s the change of an era.”

With 75 percent of the vote counted, Macri had 53% support compared to 47% for Scioli.

The 56-year-old former chairman of Boca Juniors football club is expected to be Argentina’s most economically liberal president since the 1990s and has vowed to ease foreign trade and dollar restrictions.

Cheering, dancing crowds of Macri’s supporters celebrated at a conference center on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, waving multicolored balloons and white and sky-blue Argentine flags.

For Isrel and the Jews, Macri’s election can only be a good thing, since Christina Kirchner’s government protected Iran in the Amia bombing and is felt to have had a hand in the Jewish prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s mysterious death:

Earlier this year outgoing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was cleared by prosecutors of helping to shield Iranian officials allegedly behind the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center.

Javier De Luca, prosecutor before the Court of Appeals, said there wasn’t enough evidence in late prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s investigation to warrant a probe.

Nisman had alleged Iranian officials ordered the bombing via Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. He later concluded that a 2013 deal between Argentina and Iran for the suspects to be investigated by a joint commission was a conspiracy designed to ensure they would never be brought to justice.

In January he filed a report accusing Kirchner, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and other figures close to the government of protecting high-ranking Iranian officials, including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in exchange for oil and trade benefits.

Four days later, on January 18, the prosecutor was found dead in his bathroom with a bullet through the head.

Since Nisman’s death, initially labeled a suicide, suspicion has fallen on Kirchner’s government of orchestrating his murder.

Maybe under the new government progress can be made both on the investigation and indictment of Iran for the Amia bombing and on solving the case of Nisman’s murder.

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Latest terror updates

This is just a quick posting to keep you updated on the latest terror attacks over the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, Monday, there were 3 attacks in which an IDF soldier was stabbed to death, a Palestinian man was stabbed by two Palestinian female teens, and a car-ramming in the Shomron.

Ziv Mizrahi Hy’d, murdered by a Palestinian terrorist on route 443

The worst attack yesterday took place on Route 443, one of the major highways linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Ziv Mizrahi Hy’d, an IDF soldier who had stopped at a filling station was stabbed to death by a 16 year old terrorist:

Ziv Mizrahi, who was murdered Monday in a terror attack on the road to Jerusalem, is not the first member of his family to fall to terrorism. Twelve years ago, his cousin Alon Mizrahi was murdered when an Arab terrorist blew himself up in an attack on Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem.

Ironically, Ziv lived on a street named for his murdered cousin.

Ziv, who lived in Givat Ze’ev, had been in the army for nine months when he was killed by an Arab stabber at the Dor Alon gas station on Road 443. In a statement, the Givat Ze’ev Regional Council said that the town was in mourning over the death of its son. The funeral for Ziv Mizrahi will be held Tuesday at 1 PM.

The attack occurred at about 3 PM Monday, when the sixteen year old terrorist approached a group of Israelis who were in the gas station after a small traffic accident. The terrorist managed to strike Mizrahi and wound him mortally, along with a second victim, who was injured lightly. Paramedics worked for long minutes to revive him, but were unsuccessful.

A few minutes after the attack, a woman came to the nearby IDF Modi’in Checkpoint, with injuries from a bullet. Officials said she was hit by a bullet that had been fired by soldiers at the stabber in the gas station.

The terrorist, Ahmad Jamal Ahmad Ta, from the village of Katana near Jerusalem, is the cousin of Anas Ta, a terrorist who carried out an attack at the same gas station last August.

Ziv’s late uncle, Alon Mizrahi Hy’d, was the heroic security guard at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem who tried to prevent a suicide bomber from entering the cafe:

Mizrahi’s uncle, Alon Mizrahi, was murdered in a terrorist attack at Jerusalem’s Cafe Hillel in September, 2003.

He was the security guard at the cafe in the German Colony, and died trying to prevent the suicide bomber entering the premises.

The bomber detonated the explosives as they struggled.

Seven people were killed in the attack, including Dr. David Applebaum, head of the emergency room at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and his daughter Nava, whose wedding was to have been held the next day.

Ziv’s funeral was attended by hundreds of people and he was movingly eulogized by his father:

Mizrahi’s father, Doron Mizrahi, whose brother was murdered 13 years ago in a terror attack in Jerusalem, eulogized his son.

“They will not destroy our spirit, we will cry and we will mourn. Next Wednesday I will return to work,” said the bereaved father.

“May the names of the haters of Israel be erased, the nation of Israel lives, it won’t help them, they won’t destroy our spirit. Thirteen years ago I lost my brother and thought that I had paid the price with that. Ziv saved his officer, he shot the terrorists with a knife in his heart – that’s Ziv, a hero of Israel.”

Another terrible loss for an Israeli family and for the people of Israel. May the family know no more sorrow and be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Earlier in the day, two female teenage Palestinian terrorists went on a stabbing spree with scissors outside Jerusalem’s busy Machane Yehdua market, but only managed to injure another Palestinian in a case of mistaken identity.

Two Arab female teens identified as attackers were shot after slashing at people near the busy outdoor market with scissors, according to police.

One victim was identified as a 70-year-old Palestinian resident of Bethlehem with stab wounds to his upper body.

Police identified the two attackers as 14 and 16 years old, from northern Jerusalem. The teenage girls were related to one another, police said

The 16-year-old died at the scene and the 14-year-old was detained, a police spokesperson said. She was taken to an Israeli hospital in critical condition, according to news reports.

Security camera footage shows how the incident unfolded:

In the video, one man who appears to be an older civilian fires at one of the girls as she lunges at him.

Then a uniformed man, who according to reports was a policeman, comes and fires at the other girl, who collapses against the wall just as another man tries to hit her with a plastic chair.

The second man then goes over to one of the girls and, it seems, kicks something out of her hand. Finally, he returns to the second girl, who is lying on the ground, and appears to fire at her again.

There was also an attempted stabbing (Hebrew link) at the IDF’s Shomron Brigade HQ, in which the terrorist was shot and wounded. There were no Israeli casualties thank G-d.

The level of attacks dropped off today, but not before a car-ramming at Tapuah Junction in the Shomron (Samaria) lightly injured 4 IDF personnel.

This evening a woman escaped injury when terrorists shot at her car near Bet El, although her car was hit.  A border police patrol was also attacked with rocks thrown by local Arabs.

Just another day in #IsraelUnderAttack.

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