Shabbat Shalom

I’m on vacation in the north of Israel with my entire family: all the children and grandchildren, over 20 of us in all.

We’re staying in a “zimmer” which is Israelis’ quaint term for a holiday villa, in a tiny little village near Meron.

We’ve been having a great time seeing the sights and are now getting ready for Shabbat.

So no good news Friday this week, but it is our 36th wedding anniversary today which is pretty good on its own. 😊🍾🍷

So I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and see you next week.

Posted in Israel news | 5 Comments

How children are treated in the Middle East: compare and contrast

In recent days there were some wonderful stories and some horrific stories concerning children, emanating from the Middle East.

The bad news first: A suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a wedding party in Gazientep, Turkey, killing over 50 people. Not only were the majority of the victims children under 14, but possibly the worst part of this was that the bomber was just a child himself:

ISTANBUL—Turkey’s president blamed Islamic State for turning a youth into a human bomb at a crowded outdoor wedding party in southeast Turkey’s largest city, killing at least 51 people in a weekend attack that underscored how the war in neighboring Syria is destabilizing the region.

Mourners weep after wedding party suicide bomb in Gazientep, Turkey

The bombing in Gaziantep targeted a largely Kurdish neighborhood and turned a celebratory summer evening into a scene of anguish and mourning, as the couple recovered on Sunday from injuries sustained in the massive Saturday blast and investigators worked to identify the charred body parts of guests and family members.

Dozens of funerals took place on Sunday, including ceremonies for 29 children who forensics teams had managed to identify. Nearly 100 people, including many women and children, were wounded in the attack.

It is unclear how the attacker penetrated the event. President Erdogan also said it was unclear whether the suspected young bomber triggered the explosives on his own, or whether they were detonated remotely. The local prosecutor’s office said it had recovered fragments from a possible suicide vest, and in a statement said that more information would be released about the identity of the attacker in due time.

A similar attack by a child bomber was thankfully thwarted at the last minute, this time in Iraq:

On Sunday, a would-be child bomber was captured by security guards in Kirkuk — a city in northern Iraq with a large Kurdish population. Broadcaster Kurdistan 24 aired footage of guards apprehending the teen and stripping him of his suicide vest before he could strike.

Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk province, told CNN that the thwarted bomber was a 15-year-old who arrived from Mosul — the largest city under ISIS control — a week earlier. Following an earlier suicide attack in the city Sunday, the guards noticed something odd about the teen and stopped him before he struck his target, a Shia mosque.

“He is trained and brainwashed,” Karim told CNN.

“They tell them if they do this, they will go to heaven and have a good time and get everything that they ever wanted.”

Mia Bloom, a Georgia State University professor who is an expert on child soldiers and terrorism, said ISIS made wide use of children in conflict, typically employing them as bombers or snipers, either attached to adult fighting units or operating on their own.

The organization has eulogized more than 250 child attackers on its channels on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app the terror group widely uses.

ISIS has lured children “through a variety of tricks and treats, the way pedophiles lure in young kids,” she said.

But often — if child soldiers are internally displaced persons, as the thwarted Kirkuk bomber was reported to be, or otherwise vulnerable — they may feel “that they had no choice but to join … perhaps in exchange for food or protection or not upsetting the authorities in Raqqa or in Mosul.”

Child bombers who are coerced often deliberately fail to launch their attacks, as the teen in Kirkuk may have done, she said.

These stories are chillingly reminiscent of the child suicide bomber who was thwarted, or rather who changed his mind, at the IDF checkpoint near Shechem in 2004:

There is one shining light of humanity in the Middle East, and that of course is Israel. Compare the way those poor children have been weaponised – literally – by their handlers, to kill themselves along with as many civilians as possible, either by brain-washing or threats against themselves or their families, with the lengths to which Israel goes in order to save the lives of children from all over the world, even from enemy countries.

Last week we learned about an unlikely Facebook friendship that led to Afghan boy treated for heart disease:

A baby boy born in Afghanistan with multiple heart defects received life-saving surgery in Israel thanks to a Facebook friendship and a covert operation that traversed enemy borders and diplomatic lines.

Yehia was born to Afghani parents in Peshawar, Pakistan, with major heart defects, The New York Times reported. His parents had no way of paying for the surgery needed to save his life.

ehia in the days before his surgery. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

During a trip to their homeland they spoke with an English-speaking relative, Farhad Zaheer, living in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, who reached out on social media to his contacts. Anna Mussman, 69, a daughter of Holocaust survivors living in Israel, answered his call. According to the Times report, Zaheer remembered Mussman because she had commented kindly on his previous posts.

Mussman contacted Simon Fisher, executive director of the Israeli charity Save a Child’s Heart. “I realize helping a child from a country which Israel has no diplomatic relations is not easy, but perhaps possible,” she emailed him. “Thanks so much and Shabbat Shalom.”

It was not simple to arrange, and involved calling in all sorts of favors and using many different contacts, but ultimately Yehia was brought to Holon’s Wolfson Medical Center, and was operated on in an eight-hour surgery.

Yehia’s family members did not want to give their last name out of fear of reprisals for having sought treatment in Israel. Yehia is the first Afghan to have been treated by Save a Child’s Heart, joining children from over 50 other countries who have been saved by the organization.

I note in passing that the NYT article linked here couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Israel and quoting Palestinian activists who accuse Israel of “medicine-washing”, i.e. using its humanitarian work to “cover up the crimes of the occupation”. Well, if that’s how they feel they are welcome to boycott the benefits of this wonderful organization. As the ToI article explains:

Save a Child’s Heart, whose $3.5 million annual budget is covered mostly by private Jewish donors, has saved the lives of over 4,000 children. Half of the patients come from Gaza and the Palestinian Authority. It has also saved hundreds of lives in, among other countries, Nigeria, Zanzibar and Tanzania, China, Iraq and Ethiopia.

And now, the most wonderful story that has been in the news for some time now reached a happy conclusion last week: A wounded Syrian girl who had been brought to Israel for treatment was discovered to have cancer too, and she has now been successfully cured of that too:

She was one of the 140 Syrian civilians – men, women and children – that Rambam doctors, nurses and other personnel have treated over the past three years of civil war there. However, the departure of “B” was especially emotional for everyone. Wearing a white dress and shoes and a little silver crown, “B” was the guest of honor at a farewell party held by an entire department, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druse stood together with tears in their eyes, hugging her and worrying about the future that awaits her.

Syrian girl, “B”, says goodbye to her Israeli caregivers at Rambam Health Care Campus. Photo courtesy

The girl arrived at Rambam’s Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital in early February as a small, scared, and wounded child. Once she recovered from the injuries that brought her across the border to Israel, the medical team noted from her blood tests that she suffered from a blood disease that was due to poor bone marrow function.

For Israeli children with this disease, the treatment is straightforward and generally yields good results: A bone marrow donor is found, the child is isolated from infection, the bone marrow transplant is performed and, if all goes well, the child recovers.

However, for a Syrian child, the entire process is much more complicated.

At this point, the Israeli government stepped in to help “B”’s medical team, led by Dr. Irena Zeidman and Dr.

Ayelet Ben-Barak. They managed to reach the child’s relatives in Syria and bring back blood samples from several family members to find out if they were potential donors.

“I’ll never forget when they first brought in those test tubes, discreetly wrapped in dish towels,” recalls Iris Porat, one of the nurses who cared for “B” throughout her hospitalization.

Happily, “B”’s brother was a perfect match.

With the help of the government, “B”’s brother crossed the border from Syria and was brought to Rambam.

It wasn’t easy for the mother and daughter, who had arrived from what is still considered an enemy country, to spend more than six months completely cut off from their family. Grace Yaakov, a social worker in the pediatric oncology department, worked tirelessly to create a support system for the two. Non-profits from the Arab sector, as well as parents of Jewish and Arab patients, all, did their part to support “B,” who sometimes spent weeks in isolation.

They showered her with clothing, home-cooked food, books, movies, and games, anything to help the two feel more at home.

The girl captured everyone’s hearts with her clever, happy, and curious personality. She especially enjoyed the holiday celebrations and even dressed up in costume for Purim. She also lost no opportunity to share how much she missed her siblings and the spring near her small village, somewhere in the battle zone in Syria. Yesterday, “B’”s hospitalization came to an end.

The happy, smiling girl – who said she dreams of one day becoming a fashion designer – entered a room with tables of cakes and gifts, the sound of clapping and the drumming of traditional Arab darbuka drums. A slide show of photos from “B”’s time at Rambam was shown, and Ashwak El-rabia, an Arab nonprofit that assists children with cancer, gave her a tablet in which she could store her memories and a backpack for her first year of school.

After all the parting messages, some of which were painstakingly read in Arabic by Jewish doctors and nurses, the mother asked to read her own thank you wishes. In a small voice, she said: “I would lie if I said that I expected the kind of humanity I discovered here. I am grateful for your care and sensitivity; may God protect you. And we will always remember what you did for us.”

Just watch this heart-warming video for a cure from the nasty stuff at the beginning of this post:

I admit I have tears in my eyes as I read these two feel-good stories. The lengths to which our country – the army, the government, medical staff, social workers and civilian volunteers – is almost beyond belief. I doubt there is any country in the world which makes such gigantic efforts to save lives, even those of its enemies.

May all our efforts help to bring about peace speedily in our days.

And as a good friend of mine constantly reminds me: “Another reason why I’m so proud of our crazy little country”.

Posted in International relations, Mideast news, Slice of Israeli life, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The 87th anniversary of the 1929 Hebron Massacre

On this day 87 years ago one of the worst Arab massacres of Jews occurred in the ancient Jewish city of Hebron.

Prof. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has written an excellent recounting of the horrific events of the 1929 Hebron Massacre:

Hebron is a hot spot in many ways. Hebron and its immediately surrounding Arab areas are the single largest source of terror attacks during the so-called Knife or Stabbing Intifada.

It’s also a place where anti-Zionist and left-wing “liberal Zionist” American Jews love to gather to protest the Jewish “settlers” who live in a tiny section of the city. That section is under Israeli military control by agreement with the Palestinian Authority, with good reason. Hebron has a long history of violence directed at Jews.

Hebron had one of if not the oldest continuous Jewish communities in the world, dating back several hundred years at least. Until 1929.

On August 23, 1929, the Arabs attacked the Jews of Hebron along with numerous other Jewish communities.

But in Hebron it was particularly vicious. It was a blood frenzy in which the Jews were set upon with particular glee and slaughtered with knives, machetes and anything else available.

August 23, 1929, marked the beginning of two days of murderous rioting against the Jewish population of Hebron. More generally, it marked a week’s worth of disturbances in British-controlled Palestine, in which Arabs attacked and killed their Jewish neighbors, with there being some attacks by Jews on Arabs.

At the end of a week of violence, 133 Jews were dead, and 110 Arabs had been killed, nearly all of the latter by British security forces.

By far, the worst of the violence against Jews took place in Hebron, at the time a city of some 21,000 residents, of whom some 700 were Jewish and the remainder Arab Muslims.

As with attacks earlier in the 1920s, it was a Jihad against the Jews:

According to Dutch-Canadian journalist Pierre Van Passen who was in Palestine at the time, fabricated pictures of Muslim holy sites in ruins were handed out to Hebron Arabs as they were leaving their mosques on Friday, August 23, 1929. The captions on the pictures claimed that the Dome of the Rock was bombed by the Zionists. That evening, armed Arabs broke into the Yeshiva (Talmudic academy) and murdered the lone student they found. The following day, an enraged Arab mob wielding knives, axes, and iron bars destroyed the Yeshiva and slaughtered the rest of the students there. A delegation of Jewish residents on their way to the police station was lynched by an Arab mob. The mob then proceeded to massacre Hebron’s Jews — both Sephardi and Ashkenazi — who had lived peacefully with their Arab neighbors for years. With only one British officer supervising, the Arab police made no attempt to prevent the massacre.

The head of Hebron’s Ashkenazi community, Rabbi Ya’akov Slonim, had been on good terms with his Arab colleagues and offered his home as a refuge to Hebron’s Jews, believing that they would be spared. But the mob broke in and killed the Rabbi, members of his family and all those assembled there….

In total, sixty-seven Jews were killed and 60 were wounded. The Jewish community in Hebron was destroyed.

Watch this disgusting video of an Arab woman who fondly remembers the massacre:

Read the rest of the article if you have the stomach for it.

Aussie Dave at Israellycool also has a very good overview of the terrible events of that day:

Looking at newspaper articles of the time, we can gain additional insight.

Like this Palestine Bulletin report from Monday September 2, 1929. Note in particular:

  • The Hebron massacre was part of a widespread Arab campaign of riots and massacres around Palestine – in Jerusalem, Motza, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Tzfat, in addition to Hebron – with over 100 Jews killed and over 200 wounded
  • The frightened Jews of Hebron being assured by the Arab district officer that there was nothing to be afraid of
  • Some of the murderers coming from an Arab village with friendly relations with the Jews
  • The terrorists murdering prominent Jews who had established good relations with the Arabs, and who, in one case, had even spent large sums on Arab education
  • The Muslim world claiming the Jews had provoked the “disturbances”
  • Muslim leaders asking the Jews be disarmed, as if that was the problem
  • Nowhere in the report are the Arabs referred to as “Palestinians”

Click to enlarge

There is much more at the post. Go and read the rest.

The following post on Facebook gives us the first-hand account by a British policeman – who was also Jewish – and who recorded the events as they happened. Below is my free translation:

The British Cavalry policeman in the picture below was called Hanoch Brodzitzki z”l.

And why is that of interest today? Because Hanoch, the British policeman, was serving in Hebron at the time of the crazed and vile massacre in 1929. Today many people have written about all the details fo the murder, and the crazed thirst for Jewish blood. And here in front of our eyes is the testimony of a Jewish policeman who was present in Hebron and even testified that he killed six murderers during the riots.

A summary of Hanoch’s testimony reached my late father z”l many years ago from the hands of Hanoch himself. My father went to Hebron, to the Machpela Cave (Cave of the Patriarchs), to the Avraham Avinu neighbourhood and Bet Hadassah, as a sort of closing the circle from Hanoch.

Hanoch left his Chumash (his Hebrew Bible) in which he wrote the chilling testimony. You are welcome to look at it. together with his Chumash, Hanoch passed on the murder weapons that he picked up in Hebron during the pogrom. My father passed on one of the weapons to the Hebron Museum where it lies as a silent witness to that terrible pogrom.

May their souls be bound up in everlasting life. HY’D.

Another horrific testimony from the massacre was passed on by the grandfather of pro-Israel activist Rachel Steinmetz. Rachel brings us the story of her grandfather’s cousin, Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l, who was murdered in the massacre:

The stories of Arabs storming Jewish homes while police casually watched has been written many times over and I won’t elaborate on the details, but the barbaric savagery which left 67 murdered and dozens injured is beyond belief. Over a couple of days, the Hebron community was wiped out and Jews in Jerusalem, Safed, Tel Aviv, Haifa and moshavim were attacked, maimed, raped, robbed, looted and murdered in a variety of creative ways. The casualty list is a lengthy one.

This massacre isn’t just a blurb in a history book for me, it’s personal. My grandfather Rabbi Ephraim Rubin zt”l rarely opened up about his childhood in Jerusalem, but after my first trip to Israel, he shared a shocking story. He was nine in August of 1929 and his 17-year-old first cousin from Petah Tikva came for a visit, accompanied by his mother. His cousin was traveling from Jerusalem to his yeshiva (seminary) in Hebron after a break. Rumors of Arab unrest were circulating and his aunt asked her son to stay home for a few more days, but Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l was eager to get back to his learning and insisted he’d be fine. His mother’s intuition kicked in, and, increasingly agitated and upset, she ran back and forth between her sister (my great-grandmother and namesake Chaya Rochel Rubin zt”l) and the bus stop at Sha’ar Yafo hoping to change his mind. This went on for several hours, as the bus only left when full. Unfortunately, the bus filled up, Eliyahu Yissachar zt”l left to Hebron, and he was soon after brutally murdered.

Over Shabbat, the violent Arab mob moved from home to home, torturing, raping, looting and murdering the defenseless Jews. They eventually made their way to Beit Burland, where many of the yeshiva students stayed, and after surrounding the building, began breaking down the doors. Avrohom Dov Shapira zt”l grabbed a knife and fought back valiantly, but was killed. Then they went after Zvi Heller zt”l and Shmuel Izak Bernstein zt”l. Moshe Aron Ripps zt”l asked for a brief moment to say vidui (‘confession’), but they cut him down before he could finish. My cousin Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l was reportedly so badly wounded, he was nearly cut in half, but languished painfully for almost a full day. Horrifying. His final whispers were “I am the third victim in my family.”

The final words of Rachel’s post are so vitally important for us to understand the delegitimization and incitement against Israel, against “the settlers” and against Jews everywhere, that is still ongoing today:

The small Jewish community of Hebron today understand the history of our people and the massive crime that took place over that bloody Shabbat. That’s why they have staked their spot in Hebron in lieu of a much cozier life. They are bravely standing up to world opinion, to those who smear them and try to portray them as some sort of obstacle to world peace. On this day, the 87th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of a 3,000 years old Jewish community, I am asking you to please think of Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l and the 66 other Jews martyred during the Hebron Massacre of 1929. There is no legitimate reason that a Jew should be unable to live safely in Hebron or anywhere else in the world. If anyone suggests otherwise, tell them about my cousin and his friends who were murdered for the crime of being Jewish, decades before “occupation.”

Posted in Antisemitism, History, Incitement, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hacked emails reveal: George Soros’s foundation claims to promote democracy – by undermining democracy

George Soros, leftist philanthropist who funds anti-Israel NGOs

Ever since Wikileaks broke a few years ago, hacking scandals have become, if not boring, then almost routine. Another day, another hacked file dump it seems. But last week’s latest hacking announcement has taken the world by storm.

George Soros, the very left-wing, ultra-liberal, progressive philanthropist is a (to be very charitable) an enigmatic character with a very strange history. There are those who accuse him of being a kapo during the War, but I’m not sure that was a fair description. And even if he was, he was just a child and couldn’t have had much choice. His Wikipedia bio says:

Soros was 13 years old in March 1944 when Nazi Germanyoccupied Hungary.[21] When Jewish children were barred from attending school by the Nazis, Soros and the other schoolchildren were made to report to the Jewish Council, which had been established during the occupation. Soros later described this time to writer Michael Lewis:

The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper…. It said report to the rabbinical seminary at 9 am… And I was given this list of names. I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, “You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported.”[22]

Soros did not return to that job and went into hiding the next day. Later that year, at age 14, Soros lived with and posed as the godson of an employee of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. The official was at one point ordered to inventory the remaining contents of the estate of a wealthy Jewish family that had fled the country; rather than leave Soros alone in the city, the official brought him along.[23] The next year, 1945, Soros survived the Battle of Budapest, in which Soviet and German forces fought house to house through the city.

He eventually made his way to England, studied economics and eventually made his fortune.

As far as the hacked emails scandal is concerned, this part of his biography is very relevant:

Soros is a well known supporter of American progressive and American liberal political causes.[12] Between 1979 and 2011 Soros donated more than $11 billion to various philanthropic causes.[13][14] He played a significant role in the peaceful transition from communism to capitalism in Eastern Europe (1984–89)[9] and provided one of Europe’s largest higher education endowments to the Central European University in Budapest.[15] Soros is also the chairman of the Open Society Foundations.

It is this Open Society Foundation which is at the centre of the latest scandal.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the hacked emails reveal Soros’s plan to fight “Israel’s racist policies”:

WASHINGTON— Hacked emails show that the Open Society Foundations, led by George Soros, has as an objective “challenging Israel’s racist and anti-democratic policies” in international forums, in part by questioning Israel’s reputation as a democracy.

The documents are available on a website, reportedly backed by Russia, that uses anti-Semitic stereotypes to attack Soros.

They reveal that Open Society, which was founded and is chaired by the hedge fund billionaire and philanthropist, gave close to $10 million since 2001 to groups advancing the rights of Arab Israelis, with an emphasis in recent years on countering what one document says are Israel’s “restrictive measures” against minorities.

“In recent years the radicalization of public opinion and consecutive Israeli right wing governments have resulted in more restrictive measures against Palestinians within Israel,” a Sept. 1, 2015 review of Open Society’s Arab Regional Office’s work said.

It cites as an example the Jewish Nation State bill, advanced by its sponsors to entrench Israel’s Jewish status, but decried by some Arab Israelis as further marginalizing non-Jewish minorities. The bill has yet to pass.

Among achievements listed in the Sept. 1 document, the Arab Regional Office includes increased advocacy by “Palestinian citizens of Israel,” or PCI, in international forums, challenging Israel’s “racist” policies in the face of its reputation as a democracy.

The document advocates the “development of a more organized and efficient PCI advocacy and presence in international forums (UN, EU, US) especially in light of the increasingly limited domestic avenues available for seeking justice.”

“In shifting to international advocacy, PCI’s [sic] are up against Israel and its image as a democratic state before the international community, therefore Palestinian civil society organizations in Israel feel the pressure of filling this gap by strengthening their relations with international actors and systems such as the European Union and United Nations to put their issue on the international agenda,” it says.

“There have been a number of successes in challenging Israel’s racist and anti-democratic policies in the international arena and influencing EU-Israel bilateral negotiations,” the document says.

The reason I called Soros enigmatic at the beginning of this post is because his  philanthropic activity on the one hand promoted democracy in Eastern Europe, yet on the other hand promoted extremely anti-Israel organizations in the West.

Former communists in the Eastern Bloc have for years reviled Soros for promoting democracy and free markets in their countries. At the same time some Jewish groups have labeled Soros, a child survivor of the Holocaust, as anti-Israel.

The philanthropy that he extended to Palestinian and other anti-Israel NGOs that work to undermine Israel’s sovereignty has been extremely damaging for Israel: (my emphases):

An Aug. 6, 2015 document details Open Society’s Arab Regional Office funding of civil society groups in Israel since 2001, amounting to $9,591,801. The group obtaining the most money is Adalah, a legal rights group for Arab Israelis, which received a total of $2,688,561 over the period.

Another grantee is the New Israel Fund, a clearinghouse for Israeli civil rights groups, which received $837,500 from 2002-2015.

Notably, the Sept. 1, 2015 Arab Regional Office review depicts as a positive a controversial initiative, the 2007 Democratic Constitution, calling it one of several “important cooperation efforts among leading OCI civil society groups.”

That document, which the review describes as “the most direct and substantive challenge posed by Palestinian citizens to their status in the Jewish Israeli state” was decried by pro-Israel groups at the time as promoting an outcome that would all but remove Israel’s Jewish character.

Adalah was one of the drafting bodies, and the subsequent controversy led the New Israel Fund in 2010 to revise its funding criteria to reject any group that “works to deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereign self-determination within Israel.” The NIF policy was not retroactive, and it still funds Adalah.

And the final kicker:

NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog, uncovered among the DC Leaks trove a separate document prepared by Open Society’s European Policy Institute, suggesting questions for September 2014 hearings to confirm senior European Union foreign policy officials.

Among the questions are one that promotes labeling products from West Bank settlements and another that favors the ascension of the Palestinian Authority to the International Criminal Court. Israel adamantly opposes both policies.

The hacked emails revealed even more damaging information in connection with the Iran nuclear deal. The Times of Israel had wondered where the anti-nuclear group Ploughshares had received its funding. The answer lay with various sources, one of which was very likely George Soros’s Open Society Foundation,  as Adam Kredo explains in the Washington Free Beacon:

An organization that played a key role in the White House’s effort to mislead the public and Congress about last summer’s nuclear agreement with Iran requested $750,000 for this campaign from a foundation backed by liberal billionaire George Soros, according to funding documents leaked to the public.

The art of Newspeak as demonstrated by Ploughshares

The Ploughshares Fund, a liberal organization cited by top White House officials as a chief architect of the Obama administration’s campaign to push the Iran deal, requested the cash from Soros’s Open Society Foundations so that it could pay off “experts and validators” of the administration’s diplomacy with Iran, according to a funding proposal titled, “Defending Iran Nuclear Diplomacy.”

Ploughshares was cited by senior White House officials as a chief architect of this campaign, which flooded the media with various experts touting the deal.

Ploughshares requested the $750,000 in order to solidify its pro-Iran network and bring others into the fold, according to the funding request.

This included efforts to “broaden and better coordinate circle of experts and validators who support diplomacy, including prominent US, European and Israeli military and diplomatic personalities, as well as Iranian human rights and civil society leaders,” according to the document.

Ploughshares raised concerns that opponents of the deal would scuttle negotiations before the administration achieved a final agreement.

“One potential risk is that unforeseen events or actions by opponents in the US, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Israel somehow make a deal impossible before the grant is fully implemented,” the document states. “Another potential risk is that negotiations on an accord or implementation phases extend beyond timeframe of the grant, and opportunities to derail diplomacy persist after resources might have been expended.”

The money would be used to facilitate “mainstream and social media outreach by validators along with other public and private efforts to shape the debate in support of an agreement and continued diplomacy,” the request states.

It is not clear whether Ploughshares request was actually answered however.

One of the strangest things about this hacking dump has been the almost total media blackout about it outside of Israeli, Jewish or conservative media outlets (via Debby P):

Scandal: Leaked documents released a few days ago provide juicy insider details of how a fabulously rich businessman has been using his money to influence elections in Europe, underwrite an extremist group, target U.S. citizens who disagreed with him, dictate foreign policy, and try to sway a Supreme Court ruling, among other things. Pretty compelling stuff, right?

Not if it involves leftist billionaire George Soros. In this case, the mainstream press couldn’t care less.

On Saturday, a group called DC Leaks posted more than 2,500 documents going back to 2008 that it pilfered from Soros’ Open Society Foundations’ servers. Since then, the mainstream media have shown zero interest in this gold mine of information.

We couldn’t find a single story on the New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, CBS News or other major news sites that even noted the existence of these leaked documents, let alone reported on what’s in them.

I admit I found that hard to believe so I carried out a Google search on “George Soros hacked emails”, and besides an article in the UK Independent, I did not find any other articles in the foreign mainstream media (i.e. excluding Israel).

The IBD article concludes:

Thomas Lifson, writing in the American Thinker blog, said “Soros got the U.S. and other accomplices to intervene in the internal affairs of a sovereign state…. How is this not huge news?”

How, indeed.

If Soros were a rock-ribbed conservative who supported Republican candidates and causes, you can bet that a swarm of reporters would right now be lustily tearing into these documents determined to expose any and every shred of evidence of influence peddling and misdeeds.

But because Soros is a hard-core leftist, he apparently gets a pass. Shameful.

Even if there was no conspiracy to hide Soros’s record, one cannot help but wonder at the silence of the media. We should be thankful to Wikileaks for enlightening us as to the massive power that George Soros wields in the halls of government, no matter his politics. No unelected individual should be able to influence governments to that extent. Soros talks about promoting democracy. Using his money to influence governments, and even to undermine them in the case of Israel, is the absolute opposite of democracy.

He should practice what he preaches.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Incitement, indigenous rights, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Agnes Keleti – The most decorated Jewish Olympic champion that almost nobody ever heard of

In general, and with very few exceptions, the Jews are not known for their sporting ability. From the Greeks and Romans with their Olympic Games, marathons and worship of the human body, through to nowadays, we Jews are more renowned for our brains than our brawn. Yes, we have Aly Raisman, the American Olympic superstar, and Mark Spitz who won 7 gold medals in the ill-fated 1972 Olympics, but Israelis are once again bemoaning our lack of medal-power (although there is still hope with the rhythmic gymnastics team), notwithstanding the two bronze medals won this year by judokas Yarden Gerbi (trained by former silver medallist Yael Arad) and Or Sasson.   The one notable exception on Israel’s record was gold medallist Gal Fridman in the sailboard competition in 2004. You can see Israel’s sad showing at the Olympics at this table.

But unbeknownst to most of us, there was a much more decorated Jewish Olympic champion back in the 1950s. Her name is Agnes Keleti, and she is still alive and well, living in Israel, and still practicing gymnastics at the age of 95!

Here is her story via Kveller:

Before Aly Raisman, there was Holocaust survivor Agnes Keleti. Keleti was born in Hungary, where she began gymnastics at age 4. She was supposed to compete in the 1940 and 1944 Olympics, but because of World War II, they were canceled. As a result, she went into hiding to survive–although many of her family members were killed in Auschwitz.

Due to an injury, she was unable to compete in the 1948 Olympics, and didn’t compete until the 1952 games at age 31–where she won four medals. Then, in the 1956 Olympics at age 35, Keleti became the oldest female gymnast ever to win gold. She still practices gymnastics to this day.

 

 

What an amazing story! Agnes shows that where there is a will there’s a way. And of course she also proves that yes – Jews CAN do sport!🙂

May Agnes Keleti continue to enjoy a long, happy and healthy life until 120!

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Good News Friday

They say a week is a long time in politics. It’s also a long time in the Jewish calendar. This time last week we were gearing up for the saddest day in the year, Tisha B’Av. Today, in 180° contrast, is one of the happiest days of the Jewish year. It is Tu B’Av, the 15th of Av, known in modern-day Israel by the kitschy name of “Festival of Love,”, a sort of Jewish Valentines’ Day. The reality behind the story is a lot more serious and yet holds within it so much hope.

Israelite girls dance in the vineyards in white dresses on Tu B’AV

Ariella Brown compares Tu B’Av to Tisha B’Av and reminds us of the day’s Biblical tradition:

On the 9th, we mourn the continued state of destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, which reflects the state of a loss that we feel in our relationship with G-d. While the first Beis Hamikdash was destroyed for cardinal sins, the second was destroyed and remains so because of sinas chinam, baseless hatred.  Many suggest that the remedy for that is   ahavas chinam, baseless love.  The more precise term for love that demands nothing in return was already set by Chazal in Pirkei Avoth as ahava she’eyna tluya badavar love that does not depend on anything.

With that in mind, it’s possible to take a new perspective on what the young women say to the men in the vineyards as described in Taanis 31a

The daughter of Israel go out and dance in the vineyards. Anyone who lacked a wife went there….Our rabbis learned: The beautiful ones among them would say: “Raise your eyes to beauty, for a wife is only for beauty.” The girls who had yichus [well established, reputable families] would say, “Raise your eyes to family, for a wife is only for children.” The ugly ones among them would say, “Take what you take for the sake of Heaven, and adorn us in gold jewelry.”

The first two groups appeal to love on the basis of beauty or family connections. But the last group ask for love without an appeal to anything external at all. That is true love for the essence of the person and not the individual’s physical, material, or social assets.  It is ahava she’eyna tluya badavar.

Rachel Sharansky Danziger casts an almost cynical but ultimately clear-eyed view of the day’s history:

After some members of the Tribe of Benjamin committed a terrible atrocity (gang raping a woman to death), their fellow Benjaminites refused to deliver them to be executed. Appalled, the other tribes declared war against the Tribe of Benjamin, and vowed never to wed their daughters into that tribe. After several defeats, the confederated tribes won and killed all but 600 Benjamin men.

Once the dust settled and tempers cooled, the Israelites realized that their vow practically guaranteed the extinction of a whole tribe. They sought a way to wed their daughters to the Benjaminites and preserve the tribe without breaking their promise. Tu B’Av, a day when maidens traditionally danced in the vineyards, supplied them with the perfect solution: The Benjaminites were invited to abduct brides from among the dancers, thus procuring wives without the consent of any non-Benjamin man.

We commemorate The Plan for the Conservation of the Tribe of Benjamin by celebrating romance with balloons and stuffed teddy bears. But frankly, where is the romance in abduction?

That said, Tu B’Av is worthy of commemoration.

Romantic or not, the Tu B’Av story demonstrated an incredibly powerful commitment to the nation of Israel as a whole. By seeking compromises and refusing to lose any of the nation’s distinct components, the Israelites proved that they placed peoplehood over principles, and connections over divides.

With this all in mind, Tu B’Av is a traditionally very popular day for weddings in Israel and it marks the height of wedding season here.

A perfect icon for Tu B’Av is this wonderful couple featured in this love story: both are Holocaust survivors who are celebrating 70 years of marriage!

Having virtually grown up in labour camps, the teenagers were both wasting away when their eyes first locked in the Czestochowa camp in Poland.

“I lost my mind,” Sigi says.

“When I saw her, the whole world was turning around me. I saw a pair of beautiful eyes and I heard bells ringing.”

It was New Year’s Eve 1944, 18 days before the camp was liberated by the Red Army.

“I had no interest in girls, because I was a skeleton,” Sigi says.

“There was a pair of beautiful eyes looking at me, with a smile like I never saw in my life.”

Holocaust survivors Sigi, 93, and Hanka, 91, after 7 decades of marriage

He approached her and they talked.

Before returning to his barracks he gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“I remember the first kiss,” Hanka says as she puts her hand on her face.

That is exactly what she did on that first day, because she says, she wanted to hold onto it forever.

Sigi had stood out in an environment where the inhumane conditions had left most people shells of their former selves.

Sigi had been working in the munitions workshop making bullets for the Nazi German army.

He says he had been sabotaging the factory line — making bullets too small for the gun barrels.

When he received word that the Gestapo were looking for him, he found a hiding spot in a nearby abandoned construction site.

He says only Hanka knew where he was hiding.

“She was the only person I could trust my life with,” he says.

Hanka says she risked her life to keep him alive — smuggling him small pieces of her bread ration and a blanket that she had made to keep him warm on -15 degree nights.

Then one night, she came for a second visit.

This time she was smiling and had her arms out.

The camp was being liberated.

“They’re gone,” she told him.

“We are free.”

The next day they were married.

Does anyone still have a dry eye? Read the rest of the amazing story and I’m sure you will be weeping tears of joy too. Heartiest Mazal tov to the wonderful couple. May you continue to enjoy good health and happiness and nachat until 120!

Going back to those Biblical times now, amazing Biblical mosaics have been unearthed in a 5th century synagogue in the Galilee:

A set of mosaics depicting two scenes from the Hebrew Bible has been discovered by archaeologists carrying out excavations at a fifth century synagogue in Israel’s Galilee, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced this week.

“This is by far the most extensive series of biblical stories ever found decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Prof. Jodi Magness, who led the excavations along with assistant director Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The arrangement of the mosaics in panels on the floor brings to mind the synagogue at Dura Europos in Syria, where an array of biblical stories is painted in panels on the walls.”

The panels on the floor of the synagogue’s nave, the central part of the structure’s hall, illustrate two biblical stories: Noah’s Ark and the parting of the Red Sea. The panel centering on the former scene depicts an ark and pairs of various animals, while the latter shows large fish swallowing Pharaoh’s soldiers among overturned chariots.

“These scenes are very rare in ancient synagogues,” Magness added. “The only other examples that have been found are at Gerasa/Jerash in Jordan and Mopsuestia/Misis in Turkey [Noah’s Ark], and at Khirbet Wadi Hamam in Israel and Dura Europos in Syria [the parting of the Red Sea].”

Mosaics were previously discovered at the site in 2012, and excavations have been ongoing since. In 2012, Magness’s team excavated a mosaic showing Samson lighting the Philistine’s fields on fire with flaming foxes (as told in the Bible’s Judges 15:4) in the synagogue’s east aisle. The following summer, the team found a mosaic depicting Samson shouldering the gate of Gaza (Judges 16:3). A mosaic uncovered in 2013 and 2014 portrays the first non-biblical scene found in an ancient synagogue, thought to be the legendary meeting between Alexander the Great and the Jewish high priest Jaddua in Jerusalem. A panel found in 2015 besides this scene features a Hebrew inscription surrounded by figures of humans, animals, and mythological creatures including cupids.

This is wonderful for researchers, archeologists, historians, and tourists alike. And of course for anyone interested in the history of the Jewish nation in its indigenous homeland of Israel. Kol hakavod to Prof. Jodi Magness, Shua Kisilevitz and all the other researchers involved.

And now back to the future with Israel’s biomedical industry. Israel has been scoring great success in the fight against skin cancer:

A three-pronged approach to fighting skin cancer in Israel appears to be showing success. Over the past five years, an aggressive campaign predicated upon awareness, identification and research has apparently been responsible for significantly lower skin cancer rates in the Jewish state.

Under the direction of the Israel Cancer Association, newly created skin care apps such as “DermaCompare” and the development of immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda, the campaign appears to have made noticeable headway in fighting the disease.

“We were third in the world in the incidents and mortality after Australia and New Zealand and it was, of course, because we have a lot of people who come from Europe with light skin,” Miri Ziv, the Director General of the Israel Cancer Association told The Media Line. “In the last five years, Israel dropped to the 20th country with the highest incidents (of skin cancer) and in terms of mortality, we dropped to number 13 for men and number 20 for women.”

According to Ziv, the ICA has worked tirelessly for the past half-decade trying to promote a more sun-smart attitude. “We disseminated our sun-smart stuff in TV programs and in the media. Every summer we launch the early detection project and we encourage people to avoid sun bathing from 10-4.” Ziv cited the achievement that while melanoma is still rising significantly for most of the world, it has stabilized in Israel.

“Take, track, treat” is the slogan for Emerald Medical Applications’ newest app, DermaCompare, released just six months ago. The app, which is FDA approved, uses air force image processing and big data analytics to track suspicious moles by asking users to take photos of themselves while clad only their underwear and upload to the images to the app.

“Our enemy is the mole,” Lior Wayn, founder and CEO of DermaCompare told The Media Line. “DermaCompare is based on three layers of suspicion. The first is the idea that we can take the measurement of any mole and we can find something suspicious in the first photo. The second is based on the idea that moles have changed and the common practice is to take photos every six or seven months. The third is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to suggest which moles might be suspicious over time.”

The app, which is free to download everywhere, has a partnership with physicians in countries like Israel and the United States. “While there are other apps like this available, we are the only app to have two modules – one for the home user and one for the doctor – and we are the only app that is doing auto comparison instead of manual comparison,” Wayn added. In some cases, though, precautionary measures and early detection aren’t enough.

These statistics are fantastic, and the new app quite incredible. There is no need to stress the importance of these developments. A huge kol hakavod to all the researchers and developers involved. May they go from strength to strength to benefit millions of patients the world over.

And one last item, with an ironic twist in its tale tail (via Reality): an Israeli scientist has possibly proven Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole theory:

In groundbreaking new research published this week in one of the world’s top science journals, an Israeli physicist may have proved one of Stephen Hawking’s most important predictions about black holes, successfully demonstrating that the mysterious celestial bodies are slowly evaporating.

A supermassive black hole about 70 million times bigger than the earth’s sun, located at the center of spiral galaxy M8

Professor Jeff Steinhauer of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Physics has taken a small step and a giant leap toward verifying the “Hawking Radiation” theory, which challenges the conventional understanding that nothing can escape a black hole, according to the study, published in Nature Physics.

Dr. Jeff Steinhauer

The theory, first proposed by Hawking in 1974, suggests that subatomic light particles are sometimes ejected back out of a black hole, taking with them tiny amounts of energy, resulting in a gradual decrease in its mass over time until it evaporates completely.

But more than 40 years later, no one had been able to prove the theory, mainly because light particles from black holes are too small to be detected from Earth.

Steinhauer and his team of researchers were last year able to recreate conditions similar to those of a black hole in a lab, using sound waves in order to study how subatomic particles behave on its edge, known as an event horizon.

Read the rest of the abstruse experiment – and here is the sting in the tail:

Ironically, Hawking supports the academic boycott of Israel, and in 2013 canceled his participation in a Jerusalem conference organized by then-president Shimon Peres.

I would love to see Hawking’s face when he realizes it was an Israeli who proved his so-far unproven theory! Schadenfreude is a very good way to end the week.🙂

And with these happy thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in History, indigenous rights, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments