Good News Friday – reach for the moon edition

This week’s Good News Friday edition is all about Israel reaching for the moon – literally!

Last night, Israel made history as only the 4th country in the world to launch a spacecraft to land on the moon. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, the craft hasn’t actually reached the moon yet, but so far so good: the launch went off perfectly, the separation of the lander from the Falcon 9 rocket that was carrying it was successful, and for the moment the spacecraft is in its proper orbit on the way to the moon.

The Israeli spacecraft was named Beresheet, which translates so aptly as “In the Beginning” or “Genesis”. I prefer the first option, it sounds both more Biblical and more lyrical, plus I think it’s more suited to the program itself.

The website No Camels has a couple of articles about Beresheet. First, it writes about the chutzpah, dreams and ingenuity behind Beresheet:

The first Israeli spacecraft to be sent to the moon, Beresheet, will be launched in the early hours (Israel time) of February 22, 2019 from Cape Canaveral Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced at a press conference in Ramat Gan on Monday. At the event, the representatives detailed the chutzpah, big dreams, and ingenuity behind the project that has the space community in Israel and abroad in a frenzy.

If all goes according to plan, the Israeli spacecraft bearing the national flag will make space history on April 11, 2019, when Beresheet is scheduled to land on the moon.

“Eight years ago, we ventured on this journey that is now nearing completion in about two months when we land on the moon,” said South African-Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn, the president of SpaceIL.

“We are making history and are proud to be part of a group that dreamed and realized the vision that many countries in the world share, but so far only three have realized,” he added at the press conference.

When Beresheet touches down on the moon, Israel will become only the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the lunar landscape, after the US, the former Soviet Union, and China. And while the other missions cost billions of dollars, the SpaceIL project cost $100 million, mostly privately funded and with minimal input from the state. That figure, says SpaceIL CEO Dr. Ido Anteby, is “tens of millions of dollars cheaper than other space missions.”

Kahn, who donated $40 million to SpaceIL, hailed the project as “an example of Israeli ingenuity,” and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin declared the mission a national project.

“I am delighted and proud that you decided to turn this project into not just a wonderful technological achievement, but also an educational undertaking. You are an example of groundbreaking, audacious Israeli innovation,” Rivlin said on Sunday when meeting with SpaceIL and IAI representatives.

“I couldn’t be prouder than to give this gift to the people of Israel and make it part of the Israeli ethos of technology, daring and a generous dose of nerve,” said Kahn.

Indeed, the SpaceIL initiative is a proud moment for Israeli space sciences. It also highlights Israel’s trademark of making the seemingly impossible possible.

The unmanned spacecraft, packed with local blue-and-white technologies, is brimming with firsts.

Beresheet, Israel’s first moon rocket

When it launches between Thursday and Friday at around 03:45 a.m. Israel time (East coast time 21/2/19 around 20:45pm), it will mark the first time a spacecraft piggybacks to enter Earth’s orbit as SpaceIL will grab a rideshare on a SpaceX Falcon rocket.

Beresheet is also the first lunar lander that is a private initiative, rather than a governmental project. It is the smallest spacecraft by heft, weighing just 600 kilograms with full fuel tanks and upon landing an approximate 180 kilograms. Its measurements run two meters in diameter and 1.5 meters tall when standing on its four folding legs.

And because of its small size, the spacecraft will log the longest journey – 6.5 million kilometers – as it orbits around Earth until landing on the moon. The craft’s fuel tanks are tiny in order to keep its size compact and thus must use orbits to reach the moon instead of flying in a more direct path.

“How much chutzpah is it to get to the moon? It’s a huge amount of chutzpah whichever way you look at it. I’m not sure chutzpah wouldn’t have been a better name than Beresheet for the spacecraft,” joked Opher Doron, IAI’s Space Division General Manager.

It was the audacity and daring of three young engineers that even made this mission a possibility.

“It feels like a dream, it’s really an exciting moment,” Yonatan Winetraub, a co-founder of SpaceIL, said at the press conference.

Winetraub, together with entrepreneurs Yariv Bash and Kfir Damari came up with the idea to put an Israeli spacecraft on the moon over drinks at a pub in a city on the outskirts of Tel Aviv in 2011. The three enrolled in Google Lunar XPRIZE Challenge, a competition that ended without a winner in March 2018.

When Google announced it was ending its challenge, SpaceIL vowed to continue working on its mission. After all, it was never toward the $20 million purse that the SpaceIL founders geared.

The mission also puts Israeli engineering knowledge and advanced development capabilities in the global spotlight.

“The three founders, their vision, their chutzpah and their audacity gave us, all the engineers and everyone who took part in this project, an amazing present. An amazing engineering adventure,” said Anteby.

“It was very exciting to work with SpaceIL on this project and also interesting from an engineering point of view. This was an inspiration,” Inbal Kneiss, Deputy General Manager, Space Division, IAI, tells NoCamels.

Kol hakavod sounds too banal and too small a congratulation for all these incredibly talented and ingenious developers Yonatan Winetraub, Yariv Bash and Kfir Damari, and the incredibly generous Morris Kahn who donated so much to make this project possible.

To see an animation of how the spacecraft will orbit the earth, as explained in the article above, and then arrive at the moon and its landing, watch this video helpfully provided by Israellycool:

And how can we have a moon launch without a bunch of statistics? No Camels provides us with those impressive details too from inside Israel’s Beresheet Spacecraft:

If all goes according to plan, the lunar lander Beresheet, whose name in Hebrew means “In the Beginning/Genesis,” will blast off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 3:45 am Israel time on Friday. [It indeed launched successfully – Ed.]

Beresheet is remarkable because almost everything about the unmanned spacecraft goes against convention.

Beresheet is set above a the communication satellite (the main passenger of the launch) It began as a dream by three young engineers and not a government program, making it the first privately funded space probe to shoot for the moon. It cost just $100 million to plan and develop, whereas other space missions in the past have run in the billions of dollars.

The SpaceIL team

But as Israel has shown time and again, when it comes to technological prowess, size doesn’t matter.

Indeed, this small spacecraft has big hopes riding on it.

“It was very difficult to raise money for this mission because it was really a mission impossible,” said South African-Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn, the president of SpaceIL. “I didn’t realize it was impossible and the three engineers who started this project didn’t realize it was impossible, and the way we in Israel think, nothing is impossible. We dare to dream. And we really are making this dream come true.”

From a physical design point of view, Beresheet has been likened to a gold-colored robotic spider. It is roughly the size of a washing machine, reaching a height of 1.5 meters, about two meters in width, and weighing just 600 kilograms.

The design of the craft changed twice since its first inception in 2011 until the final touches were made last year.

The SpaceIL spacecraft was originally designed to meet regulations set out by the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize competition, an international contest that challenged the world’s engineers to create and send the first private lander to the Moon. The SpaceIL crew chose to continue with the mission – with or without the prize money – and kept dimensions of their lunar lander to a minimum and with as low redundancy as possible.

A multi-disciplinary team of some 250 engineers, scientists, and computer scientists from the non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) designed, engineered and developed Beresheet. The actual building of the spacecraft from full-scale development took just four years.

“The navigation control system and the simulator were developed from scratch and they are very sophisticated,” Opher Doron, IAI’s Space Division General Manager, told a prelaunch press conference in Ramat Gan.

Doron tells NoCamels that the “main computer and computer chips, as well as other pieces of technology and the cameras, are Israeli-made.”

One of the main issues facing the SpaceIL and IAI team was how to land the spacecraft on the Moon without it breaking apart. So, they created four foldable landing legs with energy absorption mechanisms to ensure a soft landing.

“The structure is Israeli, the landing legs are Israeli, the main computer is Israeli, the design of the spacecraft is Israeli… most of the technologies onboard and the engineering is Israeli. It is an Israeli mission,” says Ido Anteby, CEO of the SpaceIL. “Of course, there are some parts of the sub-systems that come from vendors around the world. But almost all the technology onboard is Israeli.”

Indeed, Beresheet truly shows off Israel’s prominent technological and engineering innovation and expertise. It highlights the country’s aptitude in creative thinking, resourcefulness, and advance research.

Israel’s tech expertise in space sciences is already world-renowned. The country is known for developing and manufacturing advanced technology solutions for satellites, unmanned and robotic systems, radars and more.

There is an Israeli-developed space-qualified CMOS (complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor) sensor aboard the Parker Solar Probe.

The country is a mecca for satellite development.

“Israel is blessed with human capital and brain power. We can create effective solutions that afterward become global standards. We want to change the game of satellites as flash drives did to floppy discs,” Raz Itzhaki Tamir, co-founder & CEO of NSL Comm and an expert on nano space technology, tells NoCamels.

Even NASA has taken interest in this little spacecraft. The space agency is allowing the Israeli team to use its Deep Space Network to communicate with Beresheet in deep space.

The spacecraft is built to withstand extreme environmental conditions during launch, in space, during landing and for its lunar stay. Yet, IAI and SpaceIL engineers noted at the prelaunch press conference that once on the moon, the spacecraft will only function for about two Earth days. In that time, Beresheet will take a selfie, gather imagery of the Moon, and transmit information back to the mission control room in IAI’s space facility in Yehud.

SpaceIL engineers hope the spacecraft will land in an area on the Moon known as Mare Serenitatis because this region is supposed to have some “magnetic anomalies” that the Israeli team hopes to analyze using an onboard magnetometer. SpaceIL is conducting a scientific experiment together with the Weizmann Institute of Science to take measurements of the Moon’s mysterious magnetic field.

On board, there’s also a time capsule and a nano-Bible microscopically etched on a small metal disc the size of a coin.

Landing a spacecraft on the moon will bring an extraordinary achievement in engineering and the country’s technological capabilities. SpaceIL hopes it will advance and promote science and research.

“It’s exciting,” says Doron. “It’s a great technological achievement.”

You can watch the actual launch, which took place at 3.45 this morning Israel time, on this video. To skip the speeches and watch the launch, skip to 16 minutes along:

If you want to watch all the speeches and the exciting build-up in the Israeli control room in Yehud, you can see it all here. The launch itself starts at around 16 minutes:


Once again, a huge kol hakavod to the entire team of SpaceIL, from the three original developers, through the whole research and development team, the IAI, and the philanthropists who made it all happen.

And let us not lose sight of the fact that this wonderful universe, this planet Earth and it’s moon which governs the Jewish calendar, was all created by Hashem, the Master Designer himself.

Now when we look to the heavens as we pray on Shabbat we can see a little piece of Israel flying above us.

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

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

The “Magnificent Seven” split from the British Labour Party

Former Labour party MPs, (From Left) Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, and Gavin Shuker (Getty Images)

After months, years even, of antisemitism and Jew-baiting in the Labour Party, and the lack of response by Jeremy Corbyn, 7 brave MPs announced their departure from the Labour Party on Monday, forming an informal political group (as opposed to a party) called simply “The Independent Group”:

Seven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.

They are: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

Ms Berger said Labour had become institutionally anti-Semitic and she was “embarrassed and ashamed” to stay.

Mr Corbyn said he was “disappointed” the MPs had felt unable to continue working for the policies that “inspired millions” at the 2017 election.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the “honourable thing for them to do” would be to stand down as MPs and seek to return to Parliament in by-elections.

One of the few Labour officials with a sense of proportion and fairness was deputy leader Tom Watson:

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, in a video message on Facebook, urged the “hard left” to stop celebrating the departure of the seven MPs, saying it was “a moment for regret and reflection not for a mood of anger or a tone of triumph”.

“Betrayal narratives and shouting insults at the departed might make some feel better briefly but it does nothing to address the reasons that good colleagues might want to leave,” said Mr Watson.

He said Luciana Berger’s decision to quit was a “wake-up call for the Labour Party” over anti-Semitism, saying: “We were slow to acknowledge we had a problem and even slower to deal with it.”

Labour had to “broaden out” and become more tolerant, he said, adding: “I love this party. But sometimes I no longer recognise it, that is why I do not regard those who have resigned today as traitors.”

Here is Luciana Berger’s speech announcing her resignation:

You can read how it all unfolded on Twitter on this unrolled thread by the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

Here is Luciana Berger’s statement (click to enlarge):

Here is Mike Gapes’ statement:

But where was Jeremy Corbyn during the crisis? Almost entirely absent besides a short statement:

“I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945. “Labour won people over on a programme for the many not the few – redistributing wealth and power, taking vital resources into public ownership, investing in every region and nation, and tackling climate change. “The Conservative Government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan. When millions are facing the misery of Universal Credit, rising crime, homelessness and poverty, now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all.”

Note that he doesn’t address the Independent Group’s complaints at all. The man is obtuse and dim-witted, besides being an antisemite and raving Marxist. He is not fit to lead any kind of political party.

The Independent Group already have their website up and running. Here is their mission statement:

We are leaving the Labour Party to sit as the Independent Group of Members of Parliament.

Our primary duty as Members of Parliament is to put the best interests of our constituents and our country first. Yet like so many others, we believe that none of today’s political parties are fit to provide the leadership and direction needed by our country.

Our aim is to pursue policies that are evidence-based, not led by ideology, taking a long-term perspective to the challenges of the 21st century in the national interest, rather than locked in the old politics of the 20th century in the party’s interests.

As an Independent Group we aim to recognise the value of healthy debate, show tolerance towards different opinions and seek to reach across outdated divides and build consensus to tackle Britain’s problems.

The Independent Group of MPs

Each of us has dedicated decades to the progressive values that were once held true by Labour, values which have since been abandoned by today’s Labour Party.

Labour now pursues policies that would weaken our national security; accepts the narratives of states hostile to our country; has failed to take a lead in addressing the challenge of Brexit and to provide a strong and coherent alternative to the Conservatives’ approach; is passive in circumstances of international humanitarian distress; is hostile to businesses large and small; and threatens to destabilise the British economy in pursuit of ideological objectives.

For a Party that once committed to pursue a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect, it has changed beyond recognition. Today, visceral hatreds of other people, views and opinions are commonplace in and around the Labour Party.

It is not simply that our values are no longer welcome in the Labour Party; the values we hold mean that, in all conscience, we can have no confidence in the Party’s collective leadership, competence or culture.

To fix our broken politics, we are clear that we want to develop a different approach. We recognise that every member of our group has the right to be heard and a duty to lead. We commit to support each other and treat each other with respect.

Sitting as the Independent Group of MPs we appeal to colleagues from all parties to consider the best interests of the country above short-term party-political considerations and choose to do likewise.

Kol hakavod to them. Whether one agrees with their actual policies or not is almost besides the point. If these 7 MPs can grow to become a bigger group and bring about a more rational and reasonable type of politics in Britain, where people can debate and even agree to disagree, it can only be for the good.

The Jewish Labour Movement said:

The Labour Against Antisemitism group’s statement:

You can read more about the Jewish Labour Movement and their reconsidering their future with the Labour Party after 99 years of partnership at this Jewish News link.

And here are some responses to the mass resignation. Some haters just couldn’t help themselves and simply proved the group’s point; others displayed some self-reflection and regret:

Talking of bullying, bigotry and intimidation, the Independent Group had hardly formed when it was already being accused of being in the pay of Israel! It’s quite incredible that there are people in positions of power who think that a politician cannot possibly want to disagree with “the great Leader” unless they are in the pay of the Jews Israel:

It is exceedingly sad to realise that this melt-down on the left has been going on for years. Brian Goldfarb reminded me of an article of his on Engage Online which was posted exactly six (!) years ago on this very same subject of the Looking Glass world of anti-Zionism on the progressive Left. As Brian noted:

The article was first delivered as a talk to the Jewish residents of Cambridge (not including the transient students) on 10 December 2012 and then posted on the Engage Online website on 18 February 2013. Re-reading it, it struck me that, with the resignation of 6 Labour MPs from the Parliamentary Party, this article has, sadly, regained its relevance.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Maybe the courageous move of these 7 MPs will be the harbinger of a new wave in British politics. Let’s hope that many more politicians will join this new group and bring about a fairer, more balanced trend in British politics.

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

Good News Friday

After all the bad news of the past few days we need some good news to lift our spirits before Shabbat, so here is my latest Good News Friday post.

Israellycool posted a lovely video of an Israeli female Muslim bus driver who says she gets more encouragement from the Jewish drivers than the Arab ones:

Ynet has interviewed one of them, and I’ve gone ahead and translated some of the most interesting and telling parts. The tale of the tape: she is treated normally by her Jewish compatriots, and, in fact, receives more encouragement from them than her Arab brethren.

What a great video and what a lovely lady! Kol hakavod to her for breaking cultural and religious stereotypes, and good for her for praising her Jewish workmates and customers. So much for the apartheid myth!

We all know that education is key to progress in any culture and society. It is therefore excellent news that finally, after years of delays and challenges, a new medical school has been approved to open in Ariel University.:

The Council of Higher Education in Judea and Samaria approved Wednesday the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine at Ariel University.

Ariel University campus

The proposal to establish the medical school was approved unanimously.

The decision to bring the subject to the approval of the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, a branch of the Main Council for Higher Education in Israel, was made by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, in a legal opinion published earlier.

The Main Council for Higher Education’s Planning and Budgeting Committee had recently voted down its own previous approval of the medical school, claiming that one of the voting members had a conflict of interest, but Mandelblit said that this negative vote was not binding and that the issue could be brought to the Judea and Samaria branch for a decision.. The Judea and Samaria branch is slated to join the main council within a short time.

The establishment of the Faculty of Medicine in Ariel was promoted by the Minister of Education and Chairman of the Council for Higher Education, Naftali Bennett, and received the approval of an external committee composed of independent professionals.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett expressed his satisfaction with the decision. “I am glad that the CHE has made the right decision to benefit of the State of Israel. There is a serious shortage of doctors in Israel, and there is a need to establish a faculty – and there is a university that is suitable to do so. This is the right thing to do for academia, the medical world and the Israeli public.”

Kol hakavod to the Education Minister and to the Council for Higher Education that finally made the right decision. Israel is in desperate need for more doctors and the only way to obtain those is to teach and train more. May the new medical school be a great success.

Talking of Israeli medicine, here are two amazing new developments: An Israeli startup has produced a device for treating burns without ever having to touch the patient:

Imagine being able to treat burn injuries without causing added pain to the burn victim when dressing a wound. An Israeli nanotechnology company focused on the development and manufacturing of portable electrospinning technology for medical applications, has created a device that does just that and more.

Nanomedic Technologies Ltd, based in Lod, a city just outside of Tel Aviv, has developed a breakthrough medical device that looks like an oversized glue gun, which helps burn victims skip the unbearable pain usually associated with dressing changes in burn treatment.

“It’s like a bandage but a very highly advanced bandage. It is for very serious wounds — second-degree burns, surgical wounds, large opened and partial deep wounds,” Dr. Chen Barak, CEO of Nanomedic, tells NoCamels. “We will also treat chronic wounds and dermal diseases.”

The Spin-Care device for treating burns patients

Nanomedic developed the SpinCare device, a portable wound care system that creates an on-the-spot nano-fibrous layer for tissue repair and healing without any contact from the caregiver. The device is used in European and Israeli hospitals and is set for commercial market release later this year.

“The unique aspect of our device is that we manufacture on-site a transient skin layer, a protective layer that remains on the wound throughout the healing process. The polymer solution we use is proprietary, with characteristics specific to the treatment for the wound,” says Barak.

“The protective layer is applied from about 20 cm away from the wound, without touching the wound. It feels like a delicate wind on the wound. You apply it once and it remains on the wound for the healing process,” says Barak. “It can take two to three weeks but the layer is there to protect the wound and to allow underneath healing of a new skin.”

There is also a reduced risk for infection, she says, because the wound is never touched. “You don’t need to replace it. Typically, the major pain that patients complain about is the traumatic changing of dressings. Here you skip this step and this is crucial for the patient and for the caregiver. After our application, you can go back to regular day-to-day life, including early showers and free movement,” says Barak.

For the thousands of new burn victims every year, this is optimistic news.

This is fantastic news for burns and wounds patients. Kol hakavod to Dr. Chen Barak and Nanomedik Technologies. May they go on to ever greater success.

And the second item (via Reality) is about the Israeli dogs that can detect cancer by smell:

Somewhere in Southern Israel, a first-of-its-kind venture trains dogs to locate early signs of cancer.

The name of the laboratory is “Dog Prognose“. It allows a person to send a saliva sample (in a small plastic container), and receive an immediate answer as to whether they have cancer. The cost of the test is NIS 399, just a little over $100.

Uri Bakeman, professional dog trainer and owner of the laboratory, told Army Radio that “the most important issue is that this test detects the disease at its earliest stage, since the dogs can identify the characteristic signs of the smell of the disease. If the dog sits down after sniffing the sample, it means it is suspicious.”

In a recent study conducted by Prof. Pesach Schwartzman of Ben-Gurion University, it was determined that various types of cancer share an odor that dogs are capable of identifying.

A famous case involved Daisy, a dog who managed to correctly identify 500 cases of cancer, and smell a total of 6,500 samples. Daisy, who worked for “Medical Detection Dogs”- a foundation in the UK – passed away last year.

Daisy was a pioneer in sniffing out cancer cells in breath and urine samples, and even detected her owner’s breast cancer in its early stages.

What an incredible development! Think how many lives can be saved, and at such a minimal cost. Kol hakavod to Uri Bakeman and his Dog Prognose laboratory, and of course a huge kol hakavod to those beautiful dogs who, true to their description as man’s best friend, can save so many human lives.

With these inspiring thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

In memory of Ori Ansbacher Hy’d, Palestinian terror victim

On Friday I made brief mention of the horrific murder of Ori Ansbacher Hy’d, a 19 year old National Service volunteer who was raped and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist who admitted he committed the heinous offence due to his wish to become a martyr.

Arafat Irfaiya, a 29-year-old man in Israeli custody for raping and brutally murdering 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher of Tekoa on Feb. 7, told Shin Bet security service interrogators that he wanted to be a martyr and left his home in Hebron that day looking to kill a Jew.

According to a report on Israel’s Channel 13 news, Irfaiya sprinted across the security border separating between pre-1967 Israel and Judea in order to evade detection by security cameras and came upon Ansbacher in the forest.

“I entered Israel with a knife because I wanted to become a martyr and murder a Jew,” Irfaiya reportedly said. “I met the girl by chance.”

Channel 13 reported that Irfaiya had served time in prison for security-related crimes in the past, namely attempting to enter the Temple Mount in Jerusalem armed with a large knife. He allegedly told police that if he were released, he would “come back here with a knife.”

Irfaiya was arrested near Ramallah in southern Samaria. His house in the Judean city of Hebron has been prepared for demolition, in accordance with Israeli policy for terrorist murderers.

The horrific nature of the crime has prompted calls throughout Israeli society for the death penalty for the murderer.

But I don’t want to focus any more on the terrorist. There is plenty in the media if you want to learn more about him or his crime. I want to concentrate on Ori, the beautiful young girl who could have been any of our daughters.

Ori’s mother Na’ah, in a moving display of grace under pressure, asked the public to “add light to the world” (Ori’s name means “my light”):

Ori Ansbacher Hy’d

The mother of Ori Ansbacher on Saturday called on the public to carry out acts of kindness in order “to add light to the world” in memory of her daughter, who was brutally murdered in Jerusalem on Thursday.

As she spoke, rallies in memory of Ansbacher were taking place in Tekoa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Hebron Saturday night, as the murder continued to send shockwaves through the country.

“I ask from those who are listening to us and for whom our words are entering their hearts, to do one small thing to add light to the world — one act of kindness and maybe we will preserve Ori’s [soul] in the world and maybe we will have some comfort by adding light to the world,” said Na’ah Ansbacher, referring to her daughter’s name, which means “my light” in Hebrew.

“It’s important for us that the world know who Ori was,” she said. “Ori was a child of light, adding so much light in the world. She cured broken hearts wherever she went, be it with her girlfriends, the boys and girls she worked with in her national [volunteer] service, even people she did not know.

“Sometimes when I spoke with her I felt that it was not a conversation between a mother and a daughter, but that she was my teacher,” Na’ah Ansbacher added. “Recently she talked a lot about compassion — that she wanted to be compassionate toward realities that were difficult for her, with people who were hard on her.”

Na’ah Ansbacher said that her daughter had been a poet whose work “brought expression to who she was in the world.”

“Ori taught us to marvel at the sunrise, the sunset, the blooming, the sun, the rain, the world,” she said.

In Jerusalem, mourners gathered at Zion Square in the center of the city to light candles and sing songs in memory of Ansbacher.

In Tekoa, a settlement of some 3,000 people southeast of Jerusalem, several dozen people gathered at a central traffic circle to hold a vigil in memory of Ansbacher.

And in Hebron, dozens of people chanted “we will not be silent” outside the home of Arafat Irfaiya, 29, who was arrested Friday as the prime suspect in the murder.

Prime Minister binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara visit the Ansbacher family sitting shiva for Ori Hy’d

Ori Hy’d sounds like such an unusual, talented and spiritual young woman. Sivan Rahav Meir writes:

Hundreds of youth, many of them who knew Ori Ansbecher HY”D well, gathered last night near the place where she was murdered, at Ein Yael. Here are a few things that I heard there: The organizers of the Bnei Akiva youth movement explained that they feel like Jerusalem was violated and made dark, and therefore we must gather there in order to sanctify and light it with soulful songs and prayers. Rabbi Avi Bildstein, the rabbi of Teko’a, the community in which Ori lived, said that in the weekly Portions we read about the most antithetical reality – about the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), about global perfection, about connecting all the good _middot_ (character traits) that we have into one place. This is our task.

Israeli youth gather in a vigil n memory of Ori Ansbacher Hy’d at Ein Yael, the place where she was murdered

Ori’s friends, who shared with her the same apartment in the National Service, asked of the audience something:
“Every evening, at the end of the day, Ori had a custom. She used to gather all of us in a circle and ask us to do something that she called ‘a thorn and a flower’. Every one of us would tell all the others about something disturbing and annoying that happened to her that day, about a ‘thorn’, and every one would tell about something good that happened to her during the day, about a flower. It instilled in us a great sense of proportion. Now, since the murder, the apartment is empty without her. Everything seems full of thorns. But we are sure that Ori would have wanted us to make an effort and find some flowers as well. We ask of whoever can do this, to adopt this custom.”

My heart breaks when I read this eulogies, as these young people remember their friend with a pure soul full of light. My own granddaughter went out with her friends to the crossroads near their school to paint the road barriers, just to do “something good” in memory of Ori, rather than just to sit in school and be miserable.

That is the ripple effect of Ori’s sweet character on our young people, and on our entire society.

The vicious murder affected even Palestinian society. In great contrast to the usual adulation of Palestinian terrorists and the celebrations at the murder of a Jew, Palestinian groups are steering clear of the murderer, albeit because he raped her:

Palestinian terror groups and the Palestinian Authority appear to have quietly renounced the confessed murderer of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher because he also allegedly raped her.

Palestinian terror groups usually laud and embrace the killers of Israelis, while the PA and affiliated organizations such as the PLO and Prisoners Club finance their legal defense and support them and their families with stipends and grants.

But, Fares explained, if the rape allegation is confirmed, “then from our perspective this becomes a criminal case. We’re against the idea that anyone who commits a criminal act can then try to cloak themselves in the nationalist flag.”

Irfaiya is currently represented by the Israeli public defender’s office.

As yet, Irfaiya’s family has not asked for a Palestinian-funded legal defense, Fares said.

Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad had praised or otherwise acknowledged Irfaiya’s crimes as of Tuesday afternoon, an unusual silence for the terror groups following the murder of an Israeli by a Palestinian.

Meanwhile, a senior member of Fatah serving a term in an Israeli prison told Haaretz that he condemns Irfaiya’s act. He said he and his compatriots in the prison had appealed to the Palestinian Authority not to pay Irfaiya a salary or fund his defense.

“This sort of behavior is completely unacceptable to us; someone who does this sort of thing isn’t human,” he said. “After all, if an Arab girl had been there, he would have done the same thing to her. There’s nothing nationalistic about his deeds. His act shames the Palestinian people and we are shocked by it and share in the family’s sorrow.”

He added: “Even if there was no rape, a murder like this is unacceptable. The victim wasn’t a soldier, and this wasn’t wartime. If you want to be a hero, you don’t go and murder an innocent woman who went into the woods to read a book.”

He said Irfaiya could be placed in the ward reserved for Hamas prisoners, as Fatah-affiliated prisoners “will never accept someone like that here. The man should be sent to the criminal ward and be punished for what he did to this woman. If we get hold of him, no one will be able to prevent him getting hurt.”

I admit I am very surprised, in a positive way, at this reaction. The murder of a young woman has never seemed to bother Palestinian terrorists before. Was it the fact that he committed rape too? Or is Palestinian society slowly rejoining the human race?

Another positive sign was a group of Palestinians who paid a shiva call to the bereaved Ansbacher family:

A group of around 30 Palestinians and Jews affiliated with the NGO Tag Meir paid a consolation visit to the home of terrorist victim Ori Ansbacher in Tekoa on Tuesday.

“I wanted to comfort the family and let them know that killing Jews is no less awful than killing Palestinians,” said Ragi Sabeetin from Hussan in the West Bank. “When there is death, we all suffer.”

Hussan is 12 km. west of Tekoa, where the Ansbachers live.

Tag Meir helps fights against hate crimes, racism, terrorism, and price tag attacks, and encourages tolerance and peace.
Sabeetin said the family welcomed the Palestinians with open arms, and that had the visit not centered on their pain, he thinks they would have felt like friends and guests in the Ansbachers’ home.
“They were nice and calm and patient people. It hurts us all,” Sabeetin said, describing the Jews of Tekoa as his neighbors.
He said that he does not see peace in the immediate future, but he hopes that his children will one day “get through this difficult period and live in a different way.”

The group was accompanied by MK Mossi Raz (Meretz), who said “There are no words to express the anger and sorrow. I’ll do anything to ensure that she is the last victim.”

If this is the direction that Israeli-Palestinian relations are heading then this is a very good sign. If only these people are not just a very small minority.

I wish I had the eloquence to add words of comfort for the family and friends of Ori Ansbacher, indeed for all of Am Yisrael.

May Hashem comfort the family and friends of Ori Hy’d amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May the memory of Ori Hy’d be for a blessing, and may she continue to be an inspiration for all of us.

יהי זכרה ברוך.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Terrorism | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Good News Friday

I’m hardly in the mood for a Good News Friday post today after hearing the dreadful news of the brutal murder of Ori Ansbacher, a young National Service girl, in a forest near Jerusalem yesterday.

However, as always I don’t want to go into Shabbat without some good news, so here are a couple of items to lighten our spirit.

In the south of Israel, instead of the Red Alert siren annoucning incomign rockets from Gaza, the annual “Red South” – Darom Adom – flower festival is taking place, celebrating the blooming of thousands of wild red poppies and anemones all over the region (via Reality):

The incendiary kite launched from Gaza touched down in the Gvaram conservation area on November 2, 2018, launching a fire that raced across the rolling hills and quickly turned everything black. Walking across the blackened landscape of the 12,000 dunam (3,200 acres) of forests that burned in the area around the Gaza border, charred grasses crunched underfoot and the smell of smoke lingered in the air. Fires sparked by flaming balloons and kites launched from Gaza also burned 4,000 dunam (988 acres) of farmland.

Just three months later, the charred black that encompassed most of the Gvaram conservation area has been erased by an explosion of green and red. Winter grasses blanket the burned ground and the traditional red anemones, or kalaniyot, have burst forth across the fields and forests with a vigor not seen in the past decade.

“It’s not actually that there are more kalaniyot this year, even though it feels like it,” explained Kobi Sufer, the regional director of the southern coastal area for the Nature and Parks Authority, as the kalaniyot dotted the field behind him. “In past years, all of the undergrowth was so high that you couldn’t always see them.”

But after incendiary kites from Gaza burned some 16,000 dunams (4,000 acres) over six months, the kalaniyot bloomed this year without competition from other plants, creating a veritable carpet of red flowers, dancing in the wind.

Visitors at the Be’eri nature reserve, February 4, 2019. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

The contrast between the blackened fields of the summer and fall and the lush green and red is difficult to comprehend, even for the people who live here. “Someone comes here today looks around and says, no way this place burned,” said Sufer. In some places, the red flowers grow so thickly, it feels like the poppy field from the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy falls asleep.

The annual Darom Adom (Scarlet South) Festival kicked off on January 31, with five weekends of events during February and March featuring one of the most dramatic blossoming of kalaniyot in the past decade.

The festival, which attracted more than 60,000 visitors for the opening weekend, celebrates the kalaniyot that bloom every year in February, providing a riot of red under blue skies. The festival features dozens of free workshops, tours, concerts and children’s activities at a variety of spots across the Gaza periphery.

Isn’t amazing that the fires started by our enemies to destroy us and our land have actually given forth more beautiful flowers than ever before? We give thanks to Hashem for His bountiful nature, and send our warmest wishes to the residents of the south who surely deserve a successful and joyous flower festival.

And here is Israeli commentator and inspirational speaker Sivan Rahav Meir on this week’s Torah portion, Terumah:


Major Ohr Sahar, company commander in the IDF, sent me the following idea, which he wrote to his soldiers about this week’s Portion, Teruma:
“The Portion begins with generosity: ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, that they take for Me an offering; of every man whose heart maketh him willing, ye shall take My offering’. The whole Nation volunteers to participate and take part in the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), to give some of their possessions in favor of its construction. But in the book titled ‘Orchot Tzadikim’ (a book from 15th century Germany about Jewish ethics) it is written that there are three types of generosity:

The first: generosity with one’s money.

The second: generosity with one’s body.

The third: generosity with one’s wisdom.

That is, contrary to what we are used to thinking, Teruma (donation, contribution) is not just with money. Generosity of the body can be expressed with visiting the sick, listening to those who need attention, consoling mourners and also truly sharing in another’s joy. In this day and age in which people constantly talk about the ‘generation of screens’, generosity of the body is important, even just looking deeply into another’s eyes. Our wisdom can be shared generously too. We can study with others and give them advice. The main point here is that you do not have to be rich, having a lot of money, in order to donate and contribute of yourself. If we properly look around us, we will find countless opportunities to be generous.”

This is a wonderful message to take with us into Shabbat.

May the coming week bring us no more sorrow, only joy and good health.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, a quiet and peaceful Shabbat.

Posted in Israel news, Judaism, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Amnesty International and BDS – antisemitic and terror-supporting

A while back I blogged about Airbnb boycotting Jewish-owned holiday homes in Judea and Samaria. We were all infuriated at this anti-Jewish bias, but then found ourselves different outlets to organize our holidays. One excellent site is TripAdvisor.

We should therefore be equally outraged at Amnesty International, that self-righteous, hypocritical human rights organization, which has engaged in an anti-Israel campaign, complete with video, urging TripAdvisor amongst other holiday sites to remove its listings of holiday homes in Judea and Samaria, and lambasting them for not complying with this egregious demand.

Shame on Amnesty, Sham human rights organization.

Kol hakavod to TripAdvisor for not giving in, which would be the easy and fashionable thing to do, and for standing firmly on their apolitical principals. Here is their reasoned response to Amnesty’s demand:

TripAdvisor believes that travelers coming to our site or app should have access to all relevant information available about a destination, including businesses currently open in those locations.

To this end, we aim to provide travelers with an apolitical, accurate and useful picture of all accommodations, restaurants and attractions that are currently open for business around the world.

We understand that this issue is a sensitive matter with cultural and political implications. The listing of a property or business on TripAdvisor does not represent our endorsement of that establishment. We provide the listing as a platform for guests to share their genuine experiences with other travelers. As such, we do not remove listings of properties or businesses that remain active and open for business.

With respect to where a location is listed on a map, TripAdvisor’s practices aim to be consistent with the travel industry and Internet search standards.

Shame on Amnesty Shamnesty for its disgusting anti-Israel bias, which overshadows its official calling of working to promote human rights.

They have gone to such an extreme that, as Elder of Ziyon noted, they couldn’t stop themselves from tweeting over and over about their boycott demand:

NGO Monitor published this video countering Amnesty’s boycott campaign, and accusing the organization of antisemitism in its delegitimization of Jewish history in Israel:


And not to over-egg the pudding, but I can’t help a large dose of schadenfreude as the Guardian (!) accuses Amnesty (!) of a toxic working culture:

Amnesty International has a “toxic” working environment, with widespread bullying, public humiliation, discrimination and other abuses of power, a report has found.

A review into workplace culture, commissioned after two staff members killed themselves last year, found a dangerous “us versus them” dynamic, and a severe lack of trust in senior management, which threatened Amnesty’s credibility as a human rights champion.

It added: “As organisational rifts and evidence of nepotism and hypocrisy become public knowledge they will be used by government and other opponents of Amnesty’s work to undercut or dismiss Amnesty’s advocacy around the world, fundamentally jeopardising the organisation’s mission.”

The report, undertaken by the KonTerra Group and led by psychologists, to look into lessons learned following the suicides in 2018, found bullying and public humiliation were routinely used by management.

On a similar theme the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs issued a report this week, “Terrorists in Suits”, investigating the activities of dozens of anti-Israel NGOs. Shockingly, but probably unsurprisingly, they revealed that there are over a hundred  links between terror groups and BDS-promoting NGOs:

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy (MSA) released its “Terrorists in Suits” report on Sunday, revealing over 100 links shared between the internationally-designated terrorist organizations Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) with at least 13 anti-Israel BDS promoting NGOs.

“Terrorists in Suits” (Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy)

Elaborating on a previous report, the ministry reveals how Hamas and the PFLP are utilizing a network of NGOs promoting boycotts against Israel as an additional tactic in their ultimate goal of dismantling the State of Israel. These organizations have successfully placed over 30 of their members, 20 of which have served time, including for murder, in senior positions within BDS-promoting NGOs.

The report documents how boycott organizations and terrorist designated organizations raise finances together, share the same personnel, and showcases that contrary to popular belief, these officials have not abandoned their support for terrorism, but instead, continue to maintain organizational, financial, and active ties with terrorist groups.

The Israel-boycott organizations in question were also shown to have received millions of euros in funding from European countries and philanthropic foundations, while gaining access to additional funds through financial, crowdfunding and banking systems.

Over the past year, and following MSA activities to expose NGO terror ties, several European countries have announced the reexamination and decrease in funding granted to organizations which promote boycotts against the State of Israel.

The report also showed how members of terrorist organizations operate under the guise of “boycott activists” to gain access, and meet with, senior Western government officials and exert pressure to release convicted terrorists held in Israeli prisons.

The report’s conclusion should apply to Amnesty International as much as to any other NGO:

Removing the ‘mask’ of the NGOs

The new report aims to decidedly remove the “mask” of NGOs promoting BDS by exposing in an in-depth study the true nature of this scheme, the ministry said.

“Terrorist groups and the anti-Israel boycott campaign have united in their goal of wiping Israel off the map,” Erdan said. “Terrorist groups view boycotts as a complementary tactic to terror attacks. Following the exposure of over 100 links between terrorist groups and leading BDS organizations, I urge all governments and financial institutions to investigate the activities of these BDS organizations, and immediately end all funding and support which they provide to them.”

It can’t happen a moment too soon. These NGOs and the terrorists funding and active within them are a prime mover behind the latest rise in antisemitism worldwide. They must be reorganized if not dismantled forthwith.

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