Good News Friday

It’s the shortest Shabbat of the year and time is running short, but there is just time for a few items for Good News Friday.

My first item is the discovery of a rare 3rd century synagogue in the Golan Heights which has a beautiful mosaic floor (via DavidinPT):

Fragments of a mosaic depicting animal footprints were uncovered Monday during an excavation at a synagogue in the ancient settlement of Majdolia in the Golan Heights.

The mosaic (Photo: Mechael Osband)

The synagogue was active in the first century CE, after the Second Temple was destroyed, to the end of the third century CE.
According to researchers, this is the oldest depiction of an ornate colorful mosaic found in the area.
Researchers from Haifa University say there is not much insight into how Jewish life was lived, on the Golan Heights specifically and in Israel generally, during the third century.
“In the third century we see an interesting combination of the already established tradition of synagogues, following the destruction of the Second Temple, with new artistic elements that will later become widespread, such as colorful animal mosaics,” says excavation leader Dr. Mechael Osband of the Archeological Institute at Haifa University.
The Majdolia excavation site, which was uncovered five years ago, is dated to the middle of the Roman era, from approximately the middle of the first century to the abandonment of the settlement at the end of the third century.
Several years ago, archaeologists at the site discovered the remains of the synagogue – a rectangular building measuring 13 meters by 23 meters.
The discovery had vast importance to the historical record, as most experts assumed that the Jewish settlement on the Golan Heights ceased following the First Jewish–Roman War in 67 CE and the destruction of Gamla, a central trade and commerce hub in the area, during that period.
This new find strengths the notion that the Jewish settlement in the area continued even after the war.


What a wonderful discovery! Besides adding to our knowledge of the rich cultural history of the region, this ancient synagogue and mosaic goes to prove the presence of Jews in the Golan Heights (which our enemies claim belong to Syria) all the way back to ancient days.

Kol hakavod to the archaeologists of Haifa University, led by Dr. Mechael Osband.

From ancient history it’s back to the future, where Israeli scientists have possibly found a way to treat pancreatic cancer in 14 days! (via Reality):

A new treatment developed by Tel Aviv University could induce the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells, eradicating the number of cancerous cells by up to 90% after two weeks of daily injections of a small molecule known as PJ34.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat. Most people who are diagnosed with the disease do not even live five years after being diagnosed.

The study, led by Prof. Malka Cohen-Armon and her team at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, in collaboration with Dr. Talia Golan’s team at the Cancer Research Center at Sheba Medical Center, was recently published in the journal Oncotarget.

Specifically, the study found that PJ34, when injected intravenously, causes the self-destruction of human cancer cells during mitosis, the scientific term for cell division.

The research was conducted with xenografts, transplantation of human pancreatic cancer into immunocompromised mice. A month after being injected with the molecule daily for 14 days, “there was a reduction of 90% of pancreatic cells in the tumor,” Cohen-Armon told The Jerusalem Post. “In one mouse, the tumor completely disappeared.”

“This molecule causes an anomaly during mitosis of human cancer cells, provoking rapid cell death,” she said. “Thus, cell multiplication itself resulted in cell death in the treated cancer cells.”

Moreover, she said, PJ34 appears to have no impact on healthy cells, thus “no adverse effects were observed.” The mice, she said, continued to grow and gain weight as usual.

She added that she first published about the mechanism in 2017 when it was used to effectively treat triple-negative breast cancer implanted in xenografts. This type of breast cancer – which tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and excess HER2 protein – like pancreatic cancer, is very hard to treat and many women don’t live more than five years after being diagnosed.

She estimates that would take “at least two years on the condition that we get enough funding.”

First, she said, the group will test the treatment on pigs and then apply for permission from the FDA to administer humans with this molecule.

“I am optimistic,” Cohen-Armon concluded.

This news is breath-takingly good! This treatment has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives! Huge kol hakavod to Prof. Malka Cohen-Armon and Dr. Talia Golan on their incredible discovery. May they go from strength to strength, for all of our sakes.

And now to conclude this week’s post, here is a beautiful, super-patriotic video. I give you – Hatikva (via RRW):

I challenge you to have a dry eye at the end. 🙂

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, may we all have a quiet, peaceful, healthy and rainy weekend.

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, History, Israel news, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Jewish return to Hebron, just after 29th November

The 29th November, or as it is known in Hebrew “Kaf Tet beNovember”, a very significant date in Israeli history, fell last week.  It was the date of the UN Resolution, Resolution 181, to partition then-Palestine into two states, Israel for the Jews and Palestine for the Arabs. As we all know, the resolution was never implemented because the Arabs rejected it and immediately invaded Israel, resulting in Israeli independence and ignominious defeat for the Arabs.

UN resolution 181: The map of partition, 1947, which the Arabs rejected

Despite the Israeli victory both in 1948 (a bitter, partial victory) and the stunning victory in 1967, the Jewish holy city of Hevron, in which the Cave of Machpela (the Cave of the Patriarchs where our Jewish forefathers and foremothers are buried) is located, was made Judenrein already back in 1929 after the horrific Hebron Massacre.

For many years, the small community of 800 Jews in the ancient city of Hebron lived in peace with their tens of thousands of Arab neighbors. But, on the night of August 23, 1929, the tension simmering within this cauldron of nationalities bubbled over, and for a period of three days, Hebron turned into a city of terror and murder as the Arab residents led a rampaging massacre against the bewildered and helpless Jewish community.

By the time the massacre ended, 67 Jews lay dead – their homes and synagogues destroyed – and the few hundred survivors were relocated to Jerusalem.  The aftermath left Hebron barren of Jews for the first time in hundreds of years.

Significantly this sorry situation remained thus for decades, even after 1967:

In 1948, Israel gained its independence from Britain, but Hebron was captured by King Abdullah’s Arab Legion during the War of Independence and ultimately annexed to Jordan.

When Israel finally regained control of the city in 1967, a small number of survivors from the massacre again tried to reclaim their old houses. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan supposedly told the survivors that if they returned, they would be arrested, and that they should be patient while the government worked out a solution to get their houses back.

Years later, settlers moved to parts of Hebron without the permission of the government, but for those massacre survivors still seeking their original homes, that solution never came.

The Jewish community of Hevron have been struggling for decades against the injustice of not receiving proper government permission to build or even reside in Hevron, not even in buildings which were purchased by Jews decades ago, and for which all the relevant papers have been presented.

Naftali Bennett approves a new neighbourhood in Hevron

But just a few days ago – two days after 29th November – we heard  the dramatic announcement by newly appointed Defence Minister Naftali Bennett that he has approved the building of a new Jewish neighbourhood in Hebron!

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced the approval of a new Jewish neighborhood in Hebron on Sunday, generating strong praise from the settlement community and condemnation from Palestinian rights organizations.

The neighborhood will be constructed at the site of what is known as the wholesale market, which was purchased by the old Hebron Jewish community at the beginning of the 19th century, but which became a center for Palestinian commerce when the city came under Jordanian rule.

Under the new construction plan, the old market stalls building will be destroyed and several apartment blocks built, which will include as many as 70 units in total, a spokesman for the Jewish community said.

Due to legal requirements, the ground floor of the apartment buildings will be reserved for market stalls, so as to uphold demands of the Supreme Court, although it is unlikely that Palestinian tradesmen will gain access to the old market area due to security considerations.

The neighborhood is the second to gain approval since 31 units were approved for the nearby Hezekiah neighborhood in 2017, which was the first neighborhood to gain approval since 2002 when 10 housing units were approved in the Tel Rumeida district of the old city of Hebron.

According to a statement from the Defense Ministry, the construction project will double the number of Jewish residents in the city.

The Jewish community are ecstatic, but of course there are the usual rejectionists and nay-sayers:

The Jewish community in Hebron lauded Bennett’s announcement, saying it thanked him “from the bottom of our hearts” for a decision that “will restore Jewish life to Jewish property in Hebron. Removing the land of those who were murdered from the hands of the murderous mayor of Hebron” is a matter of “historic justice for which the Jewish people had been waiting for 90 years.”

The reference was to the 1929 Hebron massacre in which 67 Jews were murdered, and the land where the new neighborhood is to be built was eventually seized by the Jordanians and used to establish a wholesale market.

The community also thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former justice minister Ayelet Shaked and former defense minister Avigdor Liberman for their help in bringing about the authorization of the neighborhood.

There was also heavy criticism of the initiative, with Peace Now insisting that “it is ethically inadmissible to settle beyond the sovereign borders of one’s state, in an area where one’s own military exercises effective control over a local population and prevents it from acquiring full rights.”

The organization argued that expanding settlements hampers efforts to come to a political agreement with the Palestinians, and therefore “perpetuates Israel’s military rule over the Palestinians at the cost of the latter’s freedom.”

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg denounced the plan, and described the Jewish community in Hebron as “the capital of apartheid” because of the separation of the Palestinian and Israeli populations in the city.ism,” and that a new neighborhood there would be “a victory for Kahane against Israel,” referring to Meir Kahane, founder of ultra-nationalist political party Kach.

There is no mention by Zandberg of the reason for this separation – because of the murderous nature of some of the Palestinian residents.

Bennet’s announcement didn’t come out of the blue. A year ago the Supreme Court ruled that the market could be transferred to the Jewish community. Since Bennet was appointed Defence Minister 2 weeks ago, Hevron’s Jewish community urged him to approve the rebuilding of the neighbourhood – with the desired result:

A year ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Hevron market land could be transferred from the Arab Hevron municipality to the city’s Jewish community but nothing has been done to advance the project yet although the land is desperately needed for new housing. The market was built on land which belonged to Hevron’s Jewish community before the community was destroyed in the 1929 Hevron Massacre.

Now we have to wait to see if this new approval will be implemented on the ground. It’s a good start – let’s hope it is carried through to the finish. It’s about time that the Jews are allowed to return to their rightful and historic homes in one of our holiest cities.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Good News Friday

This post is not going to be a regular Good News Friday post though it will contain what I consider several good news items.  In any event the news keeps overtaking me before I can get around to writing a post.  The one thing I am not going to write about is the indictments against Binyamin Netanyahu. My own views are pretty clear on the subject but I’m not prepared to air them in public as yet. I’m waiting to see how things develop.

What I do want to write about is what appears to be a new Israeli policy regarding the rocket fire from Gaza. Until last week, every round of rocket fire was followed by the IAF bombing empty buildings, even if they were ostensibly strategic targets. There was definitely no disincentive to the terrorists to cease their rocket fire. The only way the attacks stopped was when Israel conceded to their demands for cash, easing of the blockade in some way, or some other extortionate demand.

Well, Israel has a new Chief of Staff, Gen. Aviv Cochavi and the name of the game is “no more Mr. Nice Guy”. Following the Islamic Jihad rocket fire the air force counterstrikes killed 34 Palestinian terrorists, a death toll far higher than in previous rounds of fighting.

An added benefit, if that’s the right term, to this round, codenamed Operation Black Belt, was that Hamas stayed entirely out of the fighting, to the extent that they banned the usual riots and violence on the Gaza border, even preventing the launch of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.

After the close of Operation Black Belt, rockets were suddenly launched into northern Israel from Syria, possibly in retaliation for the attempted assassination last week of a terrorist leader in Damascus, and possibly in revenge for the Trump administration’s acceptance of the legality of the settlements. In retaliation Israel hit back extremely hard at Iranian targets in Syria, killing at least 11 fighters:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israeli airstrikes hit Al-Kiswah, near Damascus, Sa’sa and, next to the Golan Heights, Mezzeh Military Airport in Damascus, Jdeidat Artouz between Damascus and the Golan Heights, as well as Damascus suburbs Qudsaya and Sahnaya south of the capital.

The report claimed that multiple weapons depots operated by Iran’s Quds Force were destroyed in the attacks, along with Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries.

Eleven fatalities have been confirmed, SOHR said, including seven ‘foreign combatants’, a phrase used by the observatory usually to refer to Iranian soldiers operating in Syria, though the group could not confirm if all of the seven foreign soldiers were Iranian.

A senior Israeli security official confirmed that the rules have changed, we’ll hit back for every attack:

“We’re changing the rules of the game and the equation. We will respond to even relatively small attacks, even if the effect is limited, our response will be very harsh. We will not accept Iran firing at the State of Israel.”

Despite the increased intensity of Israel’s retaliation, the official said the IDF was still not attacking targets in Iran itself, but may strike closer to home if Iranian forces continue attacks on Israel.

“We still haven’t hit and haven’t threatened the head of the Iranian ‘octopus’, but it’s possible to see the attacks moving from the hand to the arm, and approaching the head.”

A fascinating bonus to the Israeli airstrike in Syria is what appears to be an Israeli counter-missile defense system for their airforce. The Syrian missile system became confused and their missiles were “returned to sender”!

Something very strange seems to have happened during the Israeli Air Force’s large-scale attack on Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria overnight.

In a video released by IntelliTimes, which is reportedly of the Syrian missile system launching rockets at the Israeli Air Force last night, one clearly sees Syrian missile after missile become “confused”, turn around, and return to the ground and explode…

The blog estimates that this may indicate a loss of radar lock after the launch, or another proactive action that prevented the missiles from starting their course toward the target.

Security sites reported in the past that Israel wanted to install radar blocks on its F-35 aircraft which would enable the aircraft to bypass enemy radar systems. Similar reports have suggested that the IAF F-35 planes are equipped with a system that prevents its detection by enemy radar.

There is a lot of speculation as to how Israel could have done this. Whatever the method, this could be a game changer.

Watch the video showing how this happened:

This is an incredible development, and even if there had been speculation about Israel’s capabilities beforehand, to see it in action is something else altogether.

Thank G-d for these miracles and thank the brilliant engineers who developed these systems!

With the new strong Israeli stance in mind, it is very interesting to learn that some Arab thinkers are calling to abandon boycotts of Israel and to engage with it instead:

Boycotting Israel is a failure, and has only helped that country while damaging Arab nations that have long shunned the Jewish state, according to a small new group of liberal-minded Arab thinkers from across the Middle East who are pushing to engage with Israel on the theory that it would aid their societies and further the Palestinian cause.

Eglal Gheita, an Egyptian-British lawyer, speaking via video link to the Arab Council for Regional Integration in London.Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times

The group has brought together Arab journalists, artists, politicians, diplomats, Quranic scholars and others who share a view that isolating and demonizing Israel has cost Arab nations billions in trade. They say it has also undercut Palestinian efforts to build institutions for a future state, and torn at the Arab social fabric, as rival ethnic, religious and national leaders increasingly apply tactics that were first tested against Israel.

“Arabs are the boycott’s first — and only — victims,” Eglal Gheita, an Egyptian-British lawyer, declared at an inaugural gathering this week in London.

Calling itself the Arab Council for Regional Integration, the group does not purport to be broadly representative of Arab public opinion. Its members espouse a viewpoint that is, to put it mildly, politically incorrect in their home countries: Some have already been ostracized for advocating engagement with Israel and others said they feared retribution when they return.

Still, the few dozen members include more than a few well-known figures in places as far-ranging as Morocco, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, many of whom have begun to speak out, to varying degrees, in favor of engagement with Israel. The most recognizable name — to Western eyes, at least — may be that of Anwar Sadat, nephew and namesake of the Egyptian president who struck the first Arab peace treaty with Israel. He is also a critic of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who was expelled from Egypt’s Parliament in 2017.

One of the council’s main organizers, Mustafa el-Dessouki, the Egyptian managing editor of an influential Saudi-funded newsmagazine, Majalla, said that as he has wandered the region in recent years he has met many like-minded Arabs “who had kind of been waiting for somebody like me to come along.”

Of course it’s not all rainbows and roses, most of these liberal Arabs still hold some very harsh views of Israel; and some of these thinkers are being ostracised in their home countries for their daring views, but the very fact that they have organized themselves into an official group and have gone public with their opinions shows that the Arabs are starting to face up to reality. Give it another 100 years and there may yet be peace. But every great journey starts with a small step, and this group certainly forms the first steps towards acceptance of Israel.

Kol hakavod to them all on their courage in very difficult circumstances.

And on this hopeful note I wish you all Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom. This week we welcome the new month of Kislev, the month in which Chanuka falls, the festival which celebrates the victory of the Jews over the Greeks, the few over the many, the weak over the strong. This seems to reflect this week’s headlines!

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Posted in Defence and Military, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

US Administration: The settlements do not violate international law

History was made on Monday evening when US Defence Secretary Mike Pompeo made the historic announcement that the US refutes the concept of the illegality of the settlements – otherwise known as Jewish homes and factories in Judea and Samaria.

He said that this was not an issue of international law at all, but an internal Israeli legal issue. He also listed the times that the US changed and rechanged its position on the settlements,

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the American government does not consider Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to be in violation of international law.

Addressing reporters at a press conference Monday, Pompeo said: “The Trump Administration is reversing the Obama Administration’s towards Israeli settlements. US public statements on settlement activities in the West Bank have been inconsistent over decades.”

“In 1978, the Carter Administration categorically concluded that Israel’s establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law. However, in 1981, President Reagan disagreed with that conclusion and stated that he didn’t believe that the settlements were inherently illegal. Subsequent administrations recognized that unrestrained settlement activity could be an obstacle to peace, but they wisely and prudently recognized that dwelling on legal positions didn’t advance peace,” Pompeo explained.

He accused former US Secretary of State John Kerry of changing “decades of this careful, bipartisan approach by publicly reaffirming the supposed illegality of settlements” in December 2016, at the end of the Obama Administration.

“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan,” Pompeo declared. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

He further stated that the Trump Administration recognized the authority of Israeli courts on the legality of specific Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

He added: “We are not addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank. This is for the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate. International law does not compel a particular outcome nor create any legal obstacle to a negotiated resolution.”

Watch the video:

Behind the scenes of this historic announcement, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely confirmed that there had been ample preparation:

On moves that preceded the U.S. announcement, she says there were indeed talks that prepared the ground for it: “When David Friedman took office as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, we had an in-depth conversation and I asked about prospects for an historic change in Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria policy, and he said it should be done in steps. The first phase is Jerusalem and the change will come later.”

US Ambassador David Friedman and Deputy FM Tzipy Hotovely

“There were a lot of talks, by Dermer, myself, by the Prime Minister, and political activity at ambassador level. We pushed for it to be our legacy to lead a change in relation to settlements and the lie of the ‘occupation’. We saw this happen step by step, first, in a statement by the State Department that the settlements were not an obstacle to peace, then that the U.S. ambassador came to events across the Green Line as opposed to his predecessors, then the attitude toward Jerusalem and moving the embassy and there was progress in these directions, they no longer used the term ‘occupation’ and terminology changed. Even in the Deal of the Century, it’s clear that Jewish settlements will remain in place.”

Hotovely emphasized in her remarks that “David Friedman played an important role during this time. He is an ideological player who came on a very sympathetic U.S. government mission and had a significant contribution in this regard and should be commended for it.”

Hotovely dismissed the anger of the Palestinians at the announcemnet, saying that they had rejected President Trump from the moment he became president:

“This isn’t about the recent declaration. From the moment Trump began his tenure the Palestinians boycotted him and considered him pro-Israeli. Those who think the problem of the Palestinians is the identity of the ruling party in the United States should be reminded that the big explosion was in the Obama and Kerry era, the most positive era for them when they didn’t allow Jews to build even one brick in Judea and Samaria. Even then, they didn’t deign to come and talk, so they can’t come with clean hands. They’re serially contumacious.”

According to former “peace processors”, the announcement is “the logical next step of the Trump administration’s efforts to reframe the basis on which Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations take place”, although they think the timing is connected to Israel’s political shambles:

Previous policy decisions have had a similar effect: from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv to withholding funding from the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees and seeking to redefine eligibility for refugee status.

“The administration has gone about dismantling the core elements that have constituted a traditional approach to a two-state solution,” said Aaron David Miller, a State Department veteran who worked under both Republican and Democratic presidents. The latest move “fits within the broader context of what the administration has been involved in,” he said.

But the timing of the announcement — two days before Blue and White chief Benny Gantz must form a government or see Israel face new elections — adds another dimension.

It seems, at least in part, designed to bolster Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he faces one of the toughest political battles of his life.

“I tend to think this was in the works for a while, and this was something that Netanyahu wanted credit for,” said David Makovsky, a special envoy to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the Obama administration. “He sees this as kind of unfinished business from his tenure. I think it’s related to that and I tend to think there was a mind meld between Netanyahu and Ambassador David Friedman.”

The leftists, and those committed to the dead-horse “two state solution” are of course dismayed at the implications of the announcement. Maybe they should have urged the Palestinians to accept the deals offered to them at Camp David and Oslo.

Meanwhile despite the US urging that this declaration is not a green light to expand settlements, Binyamin Netanyahu approved the advancing of a bill that will annex the Jordan Valley settlements:

Likud MK Sharren Haskel proposed the annexation bill weeks ago, but decided to fast-track it in light of the change in US policy.

“The bill has the prime minister’s full backing,” Haskel said.

In the days before the September 17 election, Netanyahu announced that if re-elected, he would annex the Jordan Valley, and his cabinet voted to legalize the Mevo’ot Yeriho outpost in the Jordan Valley as a new settlement.

Haskel submitted a request to exempt her bill to annex the Jordan Valley from the mandatory six-week waiting period for any new legislation so that it can go to a vote in the plenum next week. The request will be subject to a vote in the Knesset Arrangements Committee, led by Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn while his party’s leader Benny Gantz has the mandate to build a government.

Haskel called on Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Gesher to join the Likud’s efforts to annex the Jordan Valley, “in light of the one-time-only chance that we have before us” with US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Let’s see if our egotistic politicians, on both sides of the plenum, can get over their egos and make use of this historic opportunity to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jewish communities in the Jordan Valley, before it’s too late. And while they’re at it, they should do the same for every single community in Judea and Samaria too.

As the Elder of Ziyon noted on Twitter:

“Insisting that Judea and Samaria must be Judenrein is the real bigotry”.

Not to mention the real apartheid.

Posted in International relations, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

#IsraelUnderFire – massive rocket attack after Islamic Jihad leader killed

Last night Israel carried out a targeted assassination on the leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza. The pinpoint operation killed the terrorist and his wife. There was another mysterious attack in Syria in which the son of another terrorist leader was killed, but Israel is keeping shtum about that attack, not admitting or denying anything.

Regarding the killing of Baha Abu-Al Ata, the Times of Israel reports:

At approximately 4 a.m. Tuesday, Israeli Air Force jets fired precision ammunition at a building in the Shejaiya area of Gaza City where Abu al-Ata was staying, killing him, in a joint operation by the IDF and Shin Bet security service. A woman was also killed and two other people were injured in the strike, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

According to the IDF, Abu al-Ata was planning to carry out rocket attacks and other terrorist activities against Israel and was also directly responsible for several cases of rocket fire over the past six months.

“We know that he was behind most and almost all of the PIJ’s attacks against Israel going back to the 25 of August, including before Memorial Day,” Conricus said, referring to several cases of rocket strikes.

The military said it had sent a number of warnings to Abu al-Ata — through unidentified mediators — to call off his operations, but they went unheeded.

“We tried to send a message to Abu al-Ata and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad that we are aware of his actions and to persuade him to stop these attacks. Obviously, these warnings were not successful,” said IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus.

Conricus said the assassination did not signify “a return to previous policies of what has been termed in the media ‘targeted killings.’”

The army spokesman said the military saw its chance on Tuesday morning when Abu al-Ata was relatively isolated and the risk to civilians was less.

“The missiles were fired from fighter jets with the intention of not bringing down the entire building, but just the floor where he was located,” Conricus said.

Palestinians inspect the damaged house of Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu Al-Ata after an Israeli attack in Gaza city, on November 12, 2019. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

He said he was aware of the reports of additional casualties in the strike, but could not comment on the matter.

Conricus said the military did not believe that Abu al-Ata was acting on the orders of Iran, which backs the PIJ, but was “more a local terrorist who acted unchecked.”

Who was Baha Abu-Al Ata, the Islamic Jihad leader killed today?

The 42-year-old chief of Islamic Jihad’s Al Quds Brigades’ Gaza Strip branch was considered one of the most radical terrorists in Gaza – even within Islamic Jihad – Abu Al-Ata was seen as a rising force within the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave, due in part to his close ties with Tehran, and the decline in Hamas’ popularity in Gaza.

Baha Abu al-Ata (center), Islamic Jihad commander (Reuters)

Under Abu Al-Ata’s watch, Islamic Jihad in Gaza has undertaken to obtain longer-range, more powerful rockets for its attacks on southern – and even central Israel.

A string of rocket attacks on Israel this year have been attributed to Islamic Jihad’s Al Quds Brigades – and Abu al-Ata.

Shortly after the operation which killed Abu Al-Ata and his wife, the IDF said that the Islamic Jihad terrorist was responsible for hundreds of terror attacks, adding that another one was imminent.

“Al Ata was directly responsible for hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. His next attack was imminent.”

Along with rocket attacks, Abu al-Ata was also responsible for a number of other terror attacks against Israeli targets, including sniper attacks on Israeli soldiers and the use of drone aircraft armed with explosive devices.

The IDF believes Abu al-Ata to have been personally responsible for planning and ordering the majority of all terror attacks on Israel over the past 12 months.

In earlier years, Abu al-Ata personally led major attacks on Israel, including a deadly 2008 infiltration attack in which four terrorists crossed into Israeli territory and killed two Israelis at the Nahal Oz fuel depot.

Anyone with half a brain could have predicted what would come next: a massive barrage of rockets on southern Israel, which then extended to more southern areas of central Israel such as Ashdod and Yavne, and which eventually targeted Tel Aviv and Holon:

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday ordered schools closed in southern and central Israel, including the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, as terror groups in the Gaza Strip began firing dozens of rockets at cities and towns throughout the country in retaliation for the assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior commander Baha Abu al-Ata.

“We are prepared for several days of battle with an aerial defense shield, including in the center of the country,” IDF spokesperson Hidai Zilberman told reporters Tuesday morning.

Approximately 50 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip at central and southern Israel on Tuesday as of 9:10 a.m., according to the IDF. Soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system shot down 20 of those incoming projectiles, the military said.

As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, a 35-year-old man was lightly injured by rocket fire outside the town of Gan Yavne, and six were brought to the hospital with injuries sustained while running to bomb shelters or with panic attacks. An 8-year-old girl was also in serious condition in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon after she lost consciousness suddenly during the rocket attack at 8 a.m. It was not immediately clear if her collapse was caused by the attack.

The IDF Home Front Command ordered all schools and non-essential businesses closed in the following areas: the Gaza periphery; the Lachish region; the western Negev; the central Negev; and the Shfela region. The IDF also forbade gatherings of more than 100 people.

Israelis take cover from rocket fire on Route 4 near Rishon Lezion on November 12, 2019. (Exposure Photography School)

Schools were also closed in the Dan region, including Tel Aviv, and in the Yarkon region. Businesses were temporarily ordered shut there as well, but were allowed to reopen on Tuesday morning, providing there was a bomb shelter nearby, the military said. In the Dan and Yarkon regions, the IDF forbade all public gatherings of more than 300 people.

It was the first time that the IDF ordered a closure of schools and businesses in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area since the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.

As of this writing my brother who lives in Modiin was in his bomb shelter with his 4 children, and my daughter who lives in a community nearby was at home in her basement apartment (itself forming a shelter) with her daughter whose day-care was closed.

Watch this miracle in action, as a rocket hits a big intersection on a major highway, Route 4, near Gan Yavne, which would barely qualify as “south”. One man was lightly injured in the blast. It chills the blood to think what might have been:

Here is the same video, taken from the perspective of the videocam of a bus driver on the spot:

Here are some photos and videos of the results of the rocket fire which “only” caused property damage and mild injuries (no one mentions the psychological damage caused by these rockets):

The kitchen of a home hit by a rocket in southern Israel

The video in this tweet is very similar to what my own phone looks like:

Stay tuned with the Times of Israel liveblog.  It’s going to be interesting (in the Chinese curse figure of speech) for a while.

I wonder if anything will change now that Naftali Bennett has been appointed Defence Minister (as of Friday afternoon). Maybe he will (finally) take a stronger stance against the terrorists in Gaza instead of constantly appeasing them and even giving in to their extortion with injections of cash, free fuel and electricity.

Posted in Defence and Military, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

81 years since Kristallnacht

It was the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht yesterday, the massive pogrom against the Jews organized by the Nazi regime in Germany in 1938, signalling the beginning of the Shoah, the planned genocide of the Jews. There had in fact been many anti-Jewish laws enacted over the years since Hitler came to power in 1933, but Kristallnacht marked a new level of violence.

Sadly, every year I find that I write about the same subject – the fact that despite the Shoah, despite the evidence in front of our eyes of what such Jew-hatred leads to, antisemitism, aka Jew-hatred, is constantly rising around the world. Yet when Jews, or their supporters, call attention to this prejudice, they are at best ignored and at worst villified and attacked, sometimes physically, for daring to call this hatred out and for challenging the hateful bigots.

The British Labour Party is a case in point. I have almost stopped documenting the occurrences of antisemitism because it would become a full time job plus overtime. It is quite mind-boggling how low they can go, and yet, as I said above, when the party members are called out over their bigotry, they either deny it, or they “gaslight” the Jews by claiming they have been misunderstood, or they go on the attack and say the Jews brought it upon themselves for opposing their sainted “Dear Leader” Jeremy. The bigotry is also very often disguised as “anti-Zionism” as if hating the one Jewish country in the world is not a cover for Jew-hatred.

For example here is the resignation letter (finally!) of one of the antisemites-in-chief of the Labour Party, Chris Williamson. Although he is resigning because he was accused of antisemitism, his letter includes several antisemitic tropes. He just can’t help himself!

The British Jewish community feel the situation has become so bad that even senior Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain (not a right-wing conservative by any stretch of the imagination!) published a letter urging his congregants to vote “anybody but Labour”:

The Maidenhead synagogue minister revealed he had sent the letter to 823 families who are members of the Berkshire shul across 16 different constituencies suggesting that “a Corbyn-led government would pose a danger to Jewish life as we know it.”

Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain

Rabbi Romain – author of The Jews of England and former chair of the Movement for Reform Judaism –said he had decided to send out the letter on Wednesday evening despite receiving a negative reaction from rabbinic colleagues who had said he should not be party political.

He argued that more direct action was needed ahead of the December 12 General Election – a move he said was part of Jewish values.

His letter is a departure from an understanding that rabbis should not suggest to people how they should vote.

When the election was announced, the Board of Deputies said it would be producing its “Jewish manifesto” as it does for every poll but stressed: “As always, we will make no recommendation on how individual Jews should vote, as we trust that members of our community are fully able to make for themselves the decision about which parties and candidates best represent their interests.”

In his letter, Rabbi Romain wrote: “I should stress that the problem is not the Labour Party itself, which has a long record of fighting discrimination and prejudice, but the problem is Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn-led Labour, has at best, let antisemitism arise within its ranks, or at worst, has encouraged it.

“This has never happened under any previous Labour leader, whether under Tony Blair on the right, Neil Kinnock in the centre or Michael Foot on the left, so the finger of responsibility really does seem to point to Jeremy Corbyn.

“I am therefore suggesting we should each put aside all other considerations and vote for whichever party is most likely to defeat Labour in whatever constituency we are in – even if we would never normally vote for that party.”

The Jewish Chronicle itself, usually a bastion of even-handed apolitical opinion, published an open letter instead of an editorial, addressed “to all our fellow British citizens” – meaning all the non-Jewish British citizens, explaining the danger of a Corbyn premiership:

The vast majority of British Jews consider Jeremy Corbyn to be an antisemite. In the most recent poll, last month, the figure was 87 per cent.

Putting oneself in the shoes of another person, or another group, can be difficult. But we believe it is important — and urgent — that you do that. Perhaps the fact that nearly half (47 per cent) of the Jewish community said in that same poll that they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Mr Corbyn wins on December 12 will give you an indication of what it feels like to be a British Jew at a time when the official opposition is led by a man widely held to be an antisemite.

There is racism on all sides of politics and it must be called out wherever it is found. History has forced our community to be able to spot extremism as it emerges — and Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in 2015 is one such example.

Throughout his career, he has allied with and supported antisemites such as Paul Eisen, Stephen Sizer and Raed Salah. He has described organisations like Hamas, whose founding charter commits it to the extermination of every Jew on the planet, as his “friends”. He has laid a wreath to honour terrorists who have murdered Jews. He has insulted “Zionists” — the word used by antisemites when they mean “Jew” because they think it allows them to get away with it — as lacking understanding of “English irony”.

Instead of listening to and learning from mainstream Jewish bodies such as the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council, Mr Corbyn has treated them and their recommendations with contempt — and given support to fringe organisations set up solely to deny the existence of Labour antisemitism.

Is it any wonder Jews worry about the prospect of Mr Corbyn as prime minister?

In an extraordinary turn of events, two Labour MPs, Ian Austin and Tom Watson, resigned and told their supporters they should vote in the upcoming general election in December for Tory leader Boris Johnson!

It’s hard to imagine two hardier Labour loyalists than Ian Austin and Tom Watson. They were part of a crack squad who plotted Gordon Brown’s route to No 10, both fervently committed to their leader and party.

After Jeremy Corbyn took the reins, other MPs rather hoped that the team who so successfully dispatched Tony Blair might repeat their trick. They tried. But with the election weeks away, both have had to admit that they failed. They have now had to ask themselves whether they’d still vote Labour, and have resolved the dilemma in spectacularly different ways.

Both have always seen Corbyn as a tool of the hard Left, whose combination of Bolivarian socialism and IRA sympathy would be electorally toxic in normal political times. They fully expected him to fail in the last election, but when he didn’t they had to decide what to do next time.

Stay and fight, Watson urged colleagues: why hand the party over to the fanatics? Naive, Austin (eventually) concluded: the Corbynites have won. To stay is to serve them, to become a useful idiot in their diabolical project.

The Tories were astonished to have Austin’s endorsement, especially as he didn’t even try to fish for any kind of favours beforehand. Sajid Javid’s speech today – promising an extra £100 billion of spending over five years – is all aimed at Labour seats. But Austin has now given them an argument more potent than any promise from a Treasury dossier: that a victory for Corbynites would be a calamity for the Labour movement and the country. And as a consequence, traditional, patriotic Labour voters need to vote for Boris Johnson next month.

The Labour Party may be the worst example of institutionalized antisemitism prevalent in Europe at the moment but lest we think the rest of Europe loves its Jews, think again. Antisemitism is on the rise all over Europe, and not only there. The Jew haters cannot bear us whether alive or dead. Cemetery desecration is a “thing” nowadays, and in the past few months Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated and gravestones destroyed in Denmark, (80 gravestones vandalized), in Omaha, Nebraska in the US  (75 gravestones toppled), in the city of Strand in South Africa, and in the Estonian capital of Talinn, to name just a few.

Beyond politics and cemeteries, Jewish life is becoming extremely difficult for students on campus worldwide, with the “social justice warriors” and “intersectionalism” who demand justice and equality for everyone except for Jews, particularly Zionist Jews. It is therefore no surprise that one of the major pro-Palestinian (read: Jew-hating and Israel-hating) organizations on campus, Students for Justice in Palestine, has been declared an “antisemitic force on campus” at Harvard (via Elder of Ziyon):

The National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) is an “antisemitic force on campus,” according to a new 96-page report about the organization.

A swipe at the bigotry of the SJP

The document, published by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) in advance of NSJP’s annual conference being held November 1-3, tracks the history of the organization and highlights how NSJP “promotes antisemitic rhetoric” and is “associated [with] violence and terror, ideologically and politically.”

The study, titled “National Students for Justice in Palestine and the Promotion of Hate and Antisemitism on the University Campus: The Threat to Academic Freedom,” is authored by Charles Asher Small, David Patterson and Glen Feder.

“For centuries, the most violent antisemitic attacks on Jews, including expulsions and pogroms, were rationalized by a need to bring justice to other groups,” said ISGAP chairman Natan Sharansky. “Today, the new antisemitism is brought to the world of academia under the pretext of justice for Palestinians.”

In the report’s foreword, Sharansky says that demonization, delegitimization and double standards against Jews are now being applied to the Jewish collective in the State of Israel.

“All those who value both justice and academic freedom should be resistant to it,” he said.

The report cites dozens of incidents, mainly on social networks, in which traditional antisemitic tropes are used by NSJP local chapters.

In 2017, for example, Students Supporting Israel at City College in NY described on their Facebook page a reaction by SJP members to the visit of Dani Dayan, the Consul General of Israel in New York. According to the post, “Comparisons to Hitler and Nazis were hurled by students… Rather than listening to what the speaker had to say, they put their antisemitic hate on blast, demonizing the Jewish State of Israel and all who would support it.”

Harvard’s NSJP chapter, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, posted on their Facebook page in 2012 that “Zionism is racism. Women who immigrated from Ethiopia eight years ago say there were told they would not be allowed into Israel unless they agreed to be injected with the long-acting birth control drug Depo Provera, according to an investigative report aired yesterday on Israel Educational Television.”

Stony Brook University’s SJP also had multiple inflammatory posts, including one noting that “together, we can create a domino effect to ensure Zionism is an extinct ideology.”

“Would university administrators permit the KKK to have a national conference on campus?” asked Small, who is also executive director of ISGAP. “They are really poisoning the atmosphere.”

Read the whole sorry story at the link.

But let us return to the original inspiration for this sad post. Here is a short video on the moral failure of the world on Kristallnacht.


As always I would refer you to my Family History pages, and in particular the account written by my father Oskar Prager of his experiences as a 9 year old boy in Fuerth, Germany, on Kristallnacht.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments