Good News Friday – Shabbat Chanukah edition

We are right in the middle of Chanukah, entering Shabbat Chanukah in a few hours, so here is a special, Chanukah-themed Good News Friday post.

Let’s start with a very well timed for Chanukah, incredible archeological find – a Hasmonean-era oil lamp literally stumbled upon by a mother and her young daughter in the Bet She’an area: [The Maccabees from the Chanukah story, who fought the Romans were known as Hasmoneans]:

Last week, while out for a stroll near their home in the historic Beit She’an Valley, a mother and her seven-year-old daughter discovered a rare, intact 2,200-year-old clay lamp.

While Ayelet Goldberg-Keidar and her daughter Hadas, residents of Kibbutz Beit Alfa, were on an afternoon hike climbing the mounds near Kibbutz Nir David, Hadas suddenly noticed a pottery vessel lying at the mouth of a cave.

Excitedly, Hadas picked up the vessel and her mother — coincidentally an archaeology student at Haifa University — quickly realized that this was no ordinary lamp.

Seven-year-old Hadas Goldberg-Keidar from Kibbutz Heftziba with the intact 2,200-year-old clay lamp next to a porcupines’ cave in the Beit She’an Valley. (Israel Antiquities Authority)

She explained to her daughter that it appeared to be an oil lamp used by ancient people and that they would need to hand it over to researchers at the Israel Antiquity Authorities for study.

“Guessing that this was connected to antiquity theft, I hurried to get in touch with the theft prevention unit at the IAA,” said mother Ayelet.

However, archaeologist Nir Distelfeld, the IAA’s theft prevention inspector for northern Israel, pointed to a more prickly culprit: porcupines.

“Innocent porcupines, digging out their den for the winter, are responsible for the excavation of this intact lamp,” said Distelfeld. Adding a fun fact about the protected wildlife species, he said, “Porcupines prefer archaeological sites because the earth is less packed due to man’s activities in the past.”

Upon receiving the archaeological find from the family, Dr. Einat Ambar-Armon, an expert in clay lamps, dated it to the Hasmonean period.

“The lamp is typical of the Hellenistic period, which began in the 2nd century BCE, the historical period that is known to all of us as the Maccabean Wars against the Greeks,” said Ambar-Armon, the IAA’s regional head of education and community outreach.

During this period, said Ambar-Armon, such lamps were produced from molds: the top and bottom pieces were constructed separately and then connected in a new technique that allowed for their mass production, which she attributes to western-influenced innovation.

You can read more about the development of a the proto-production line in the fascinating article at the link.

Kol hakavod to Ayelet and young Hadas Goldberg-Keidar on their important find and their good citizenship, for which they were awarded a certificate from the Antiquities Authority.

Moving through the centuries back to today, here is some local patriotism to make the headlines ☺.  The biggest Chanukia (Menorah) in Israel was set up in Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikva – and it is made up of 15,000 balloons! (via Reality who works in Schneider):

Largest Chanukia in Israel in Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikva – made of 15,000 balloons!

Here is a rough translation of the article:

The Chanukiah, probably the largest in israel, was put up at the initiative of the Tikva U’Marpe [Hope and Healing] organization which works in the pediatric nephrology department and “Asaf  Balloons”.  The Chanukiah is amde up of 15,000 balloons, is 40 meters high and 35 meters wide. It was designed and engineered by the artist “Asaf Balloons” and carried out by volunteers from Tikva U’Marpe, and with the assistance of snapplers from Sport Attraction.

The children of the hospital and their families enjoyed having their photos taken next to the giant Chanukiah.

What a beautiful idea to surprise and entertain sick children, and to celebrate Chanukah at the same time. Kol hakavod to Tikva U’Marpe and all the volunteers who helped bring this giant Chanukiah into being for the enjoyment of these sick children.

And one more inspirational item for Shabbat Chanukah. Here is a fantastic video, via Aish.com (via my cousin Faigie): Charlie Harary explains how we Jews fight darkness with light:

The second part of the video was extraordinarily inspirational in my opinion. I hope you think so too.

And on this inspirational note I wish you all Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh tov for the coming week, and Chanukah Same’ach!

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Israel news, Judaism, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The never-ending fight against delegitimization

Even before Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration there was no shortage of anti-Israel agitation going on, as readers of this blog know well. But times are changing, and so are the attitudes of those confronting this bigotry, in particular the Israeli government which has finally woken up to the threat of BDS and delegitimization and is starting to act in a coordinated manner to combat it – with some success.

Just a few items from the last few weeks:

Israel bans Swiss diplomats from visiting Gaza:

Israeli authorities announced on Thursday [30th Nov.] that Swiss diplomats will not be allowed to access the Gaza Strip because of their ongoing contacts with the EU and US-classified terrorist group Hamas.

Switzerland, a non-EU country, does not recognize Hamas or Hezbollah as terrorist organizations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that Israel declines to comment on the ban.

Swiss diplomats meet Hamas members

A photograph of Hamas leader Yayha Sinwar and Swiss diplomat and representative for the Palestinian Authority, Julien Thöni, at a joint Tuesday meeting sparked irritation from Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, according to a report in the Swiss daily Basler Zeitung.

How “neutral” can you get? Switzerland, which benefits from a “halo” image of a human-rights benefactor, does not recognize one of the pre-eminent terror organizations in the world as a terror organization? This is mind-boggling. I am pleasantly surprised that Israel has found the backbone to stand up to this Swiss hypocrisy, not to say idiocy.

Due to more European double-think, Israel pulled out of a German exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls:

Despite the German’s decrying the latest manifestations of antisemitism in their country this week, following the anti-Trump protests, the government itself cannot find it within itself to acknowledge Israel’s own Jewish history, encapsulated by the Dead Sea Scrolls:

Israel has pulled out of a planned exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Frankfurt because the German government would not guarantee their return if claimed by Palestinians or Jordanians.

No country on earth would allow its precious artefacts to be exhibited in another country if that country would not guarantee their return. What gives the Palestinians the right to claim the Dead Sea Scrolls as their own? They contain pieces of parchment describing Jewish history, Jewish laws, and Jewish customs of Jewish sects who were hiding in caves in the desert during the Roman occupation. They have no connection whatsoever to the Arabs, whether in the form of Jordan or the Palestinians – who only came into being in 1964!

Fragment of the Hebrew Bible from the Dead Sea Scrolls (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

The chutzpah of the Arabs to attempt to claim these scrolls as their own is paralleled only by the Germans’ bending over backwards to accommodate these potential claims.

The Frankfurt Bible Museum announced that it has canceled the exhibit which was scheduled for a September 2019 opening. Its director, Jürgen Schefzyk, said he regretted the German government’s decision, adding that neither Holland nor Austria would have hesitated to issue general immunity guarantees.

According to German news reports, the government guarantee would have blocked Palestinian or Jordanian authorities from contesting the provenance of the scrolls, which are among the oldest known texts related to the Hebrew Bible.

“Because of the unwillingness of both ministries to give the necessary declaration, as Qumran lies in today’s West Bank, the Israel Antiques Authority is not letting the material out of the country and the Bible Museum had to cancel its plans,” Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor of Frankfurt, told The Jerusalem Post.

Becker expressed outrage at Germany’s foreign and culture ministers on Thursday, sending letters to Culture and Media Minister Monika Grütters and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel asking them to change their position to support the exhibition.

“If Germany is unwilling to clearly express the legal status of the fragments of Qumran as Israeli world-cultural-heritage goods, it would dramatically change the coordinates in our German-Israeli relations. And it would mean the construction of a wall toward the places of the birth of Christianity in the holy country, because it would be the same for Bethlehem, Jericho, east Jerusalem and many other places of Jesus’s work,” Becker said.

Kol hakavod to Mr. Becker. He should be leading the German government, not their painfully PC leadership. Interestingly:

Becker, widely considered one of Israel’s strongest supporters in the federal republic, led a legislative effort to ban BDS activity in Frankfurt.

Becker said that the German government’s decision to not guarantee a return of the scrolls also damages Germany’s relations to Christianity in the Middle East. He noted that in consideration of “Palestinian sensitivities, the special relationship to Israel weighs more significantly.”

Here too I am delighted that the Israeli government had the courage of its convictions and refused to play along just to “make nice” with a foreign government, however friendly it might be.

And here is another piece of excellent news: The Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled was prevented from entering Italy –  this shortly after she addressed the European Assembly in Brussels:

ROME —Leila Khaled, a member of the US and EU-designated terrorist Palestinian group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who is conducting  speaking tours across Europe to promote the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, was prevented from entering Italy.  She was denied entry at Fiumicino airport near Rome.

Leila Khaled, Palestinian terrorist, denied entry to Italy

The move came a week after the European Parliament decided to ban members of terrorist organizations from addressing the body. The decision came after Khaled spoke at an event in September in the European Assembly in Brussels, using the stage to incite to violence against Jews  and comparing Israelis to the Nazis.  She glorified terrorism and trivialized the Holocaust.  “Don’t you see a similarity between Nazi actions and Zionist actions in Gaza?,” she declared. “While the Nazis were tried in Nuremberg, no one has ever tried the Zionists,” she said.

Israeli Minister for  Public Security Gilad Erdan and several pro-Israel groups had complained to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani regarding Khaled’s speech.

Kol hakavod to Italy for carrying through on the European Parliament ban. And kudos too to the European Parliament for instituting this (very belated) ban on terrorists and terror groups.

Just a reminder of who Leila Khaled is:

Leila Khaled was a key member of a terrorist cell that hijacked TWA Flight 840 in 1969. A year later, she participated in the attempted hijacking of EL AL Flight 219. She lives in Jordan.

Olga Deutsch, Europe Desk director at the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, applauded Italy’s decision to deny entry to Khaled.

‘’We have long warned European governments that they have been funding radical, politicized NGOs, including those linked to the PFLP terror group and which were involved with Khaled’s event,’’ she said.

However, these successes notwithstanding, we still have a long way to go and there is no end in sight. The pro-Israel educational and activist NGO Stand With Us produced a video showing the highlights – or rather the lowlights – of the last week’s demonstrations around the world where pro-Palestinian, i.e. anti-Israel, protests descended rapidly into outright antisemitism, calling for Israel and the Jews’ destruction (as I mentioned in my post on the subject last week).

 

Let us keep up the good fight. Remember the lesson of Hannukah – the few against the many, the righteous against the evil, the weak against the strong. With G-d’s help we beat the enemy then and we shall beat them again today.

Posted in Incitement, International relations, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Chanukah Same’ach! Happy Chanukah!

1st night of Chanukah

Chanukah has just begun here in Israel, and we have our Menorahs – or Chanukiyot as they are called in Israel – lit up at the window.

It is one of my favourite chagim, since it requires very little preparation but lots of eating! 🙂  This week we’re looking forward to several get-togethers with our children and grandchildren, as well as our niece’s son’s barmitzvah.

Unfortunately my father-in-law is hospitalized after a heart attack so we’re not in full festive mode. Nevertheless my husband will be heading over to the hospital to light candles for his father there (and let’s hope he doesn’t burn the hospital down or set off the sprinkler system!). 😀  Thank G-d my father-in-law seems to be on the road to recovery and we hope he will be home in the next day or two. Meanwhile I am heading out to Kedumim to a Yoram Gaon concert. Yay!! ♥♥♥

When we recap the last week’s events, with Donald Trump’s declaration of the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and we hold it up against the backdrop of Chanukah, we can see what a miraculous event it was, and what perfect timing it was.

Chanukah in Jerusalem

Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after it was desecrated by the occupying Greeks. This became possible by the miraculous military victory of the small and weak Jewish army led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers from the Hasmonean dynasty against the mighty Greek army.

But beyond the simple military victory there occurred an amazing miracle of a spiritual nature – the miracle of the single cruse of pure oil that was found, which enabled the rededication of the Temple to take place. The oil was only enough to burn for one day, while 8 days were needed to prepare a new batch of pure olive oil for the Menorah. The miracles continued when that little cruse of oil sufficed for the full 8 days. Thus we celebrate Chanukah for 8 days, lighting candles each night of the festival.

For more background and history of Chanukah/Hannukah/Channukah (which can be spelled with any combination of n’s, k’s, h’s and optional c’s🙂 ) read Aish.com. In my previous years’ posts I wrote:

There are several customs associated with Channukah, chief amongst them eating foods made with or fried in oil (to commemorate the miracle of the jar of oil), especially latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jam-filled doughnuts – or jelly donuts for the Americans amongst us) and playing with the dreidel, a little spinning top. According to tradition, under Greek rule it was forbidden to study Torah, so students would gather in secret. If they were discovered by the Greeks they would pull out dreidels and pretend to be gambling or playing games.

As has become my custom, here is a cute Chanukah-related videos: The Maccabeats singing Candles on the Sill ( parody of “Castle on the Hill” originally performed by Ed Sheeran):

Amazingly the usually anti-Israel Independent has two nice articles about Chanukah: Everything you need to know about Chanukah food, and Eight cities to visit during Chanukah.

Happy Chanukah everyone! Enjoy the festival and the lights.

!חג אורים שמח

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, History, Judaism | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

They just can’t help themselves: Predictably outrageous international reactions to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

The Israeli flag flies over the Old City of Jerusalem

Just like the Palestinians and their supporters simply can’t help themselves but resort to violence whenever a political decision is not anti-Israel enough, similarly the UN, the EU, and many other countries, whether civilised or not, feel it incumbent upon them to condemn Israel or the US or both if an action or statement is undertaken from which Israel benefits.

The case of Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration was no exception. We could have written the script ourselves.

The UN convened an emergency discussion to “debate”, i.e. to condemn, Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

Washington’s move left it isolated as one after another fellow UN Security Council members — Russia, France, the UK, China, Egypt, Jordan and a host of others — condemned the announcement.

The debate unfolded at a largely symbolic emergency meeting of the council — no vote on a resolution was planned, as the US has veto power — two days after Trump reversed two decades of US policy on the holy city.

The meeting was convened by eight of the 14 non-US members of the council. It seemed a vivid show of the discord triggered by Trump’s announcement, which included plans to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Asked what he expected to come from the UN meeting, one diplomat said: “Nothing.” Another said the session would show US “isolation” on the issue.

That very attitude is the essence of what is wrong with the UN. They are all about empty declarations on the one hand, or about rejectionism – opposing the US and Israel almost automatically. This time it is the US in the hot seat, being isolated for its views. More often it is Israel in this position.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour spoke of the “global consensus” against Washington’s recognition and said Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ultimately move the US embassy there should be reconsidered and rescinded.

Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour at the UN Security Council, December 8, 2017 (United Nations)

“There can be no just and lasting solution to the Palestine question without a just solution” to Jerusalem, he said, calling the city “the heart of Palestine.”

This is a flat-out lie. When Jerusalem was in the hands of “Palestine”, aka Jordan, during the years 1949-1967, the Jordanian Arabs (or Palestinians or whatever they want to call themselves) did absolutely zilch for Jerusalem besides emptying it of Jews in a horrific act of ethnic-cleansing never acknowledged by the world. They destroyed 58 synagogues and turned the Western Wall into a rubbish dump. They severely damaged and partially destroyed the ancient, 3,000 year old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, using some gravestones for latrines. THIS is called “being the heart of Palestine”??? I hate to think what their brain looks like. Their mendaciousness is beneath contempt.

Even before the UN debate, individual countries also chided him for his recognition of reality. Sweden led the charge with the demand for the UN debate:

Replies came thick and fast, for example:

Turkey accused Trump of “putting the region in a ring of fire”. The only “ring of fire” is the one of their own making. Again: violence is a choice. The Turks don’t HAVE to whip up their streets into a frenzy. They could also call for calm and restraint. But pigs could also fly.

Erdogan had earlier threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Israel if the president recognized Jerusalem as the capital.

To be honest I did not realise that Turkey and Israel had renewed relations at all. Would it be such a great loss if Erdogan carried through on his threat? He is forever trying to hold Israel hostage to his tantrums. Maybe it’s time to call his bluff.

Theresa May at the debate in the Commons about Trump’s declaration

Britain said Trump’s declaration was “unhelpful”. The British would know all about being unhelpful in the Middle East, particularly during the infamous White Paper years of 1939-1948 when the doors of Palestine were shut to the fleeing Jews of Europe.  Prime Minister Theresa May said:

‘Our position on the status of Jerusalem has been clear and long-standing: it should be determined in negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.

As Arlene Kushner below remarks, the two parts of the above paragraph contradict each other. Either Jerusalem’s status should be determined in negotiations, or it should ultimately be a shared capital. But there is no point in negotiations if the “ultimate” solution is pre-determined. And if if it is OK to determine that the capital should be shared, it can equally be acceptable to pre-determine that it is the Israeli capital.

France’s Emanuel Macron urged Trump to desist from his declaration – to no avail evidently.

Even the US State Department itself has not caught up with the statements of its President, and is still not listing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital!

The United States still will not formally recognize Jerusalem as being located in Israel on official documents, maps, and passports, despite President Donald Trump’s announcement earlier this week that America is formally recognizing the holy city as Israel’s capital, according to State Department officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

Despite Trump’s declaration, which was formally codified on Wednesday into U.S. policy, the State Department is taking a more nuanced position on the matter, drawing some ire in Congress among pro-Israel lawmakers who accuse the State Department of undermining Trump’s efforts.

State Department officials this week had difficulty stating as fact that Jerusalem is located within Israel, instead trying to parse the issue as still subject to diplomatic negotiations.

State Department officials who spoke to the Free Beacon about the situation said that while it supports Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it is not yet at the point where it will list Jerusalem as part of Israel on passports, maps, and official documents. This means that official documents, such as passports, will not, at this point, list “Jerusalem, Israel” as a place that exists.

The State Department’s careful parsing of the issue has already drawn outrage on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are describing this as part of an effort to undermine the Trump White House’s clear-cut declaration on the matter.

Arlene Kushner sums up the situation excellently when she writes that the world is crazy:, making note of the pretzel-logic needed to explain the EU’s position: (last emphases are mine):

But look at the line-up that includes: France, Germany, Sweden, Italy and the UK, as well as the EU, Russia, etc. etc.

Incredibly, EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini declared that the Trump declaration “has the potential to send us backward to even darker times than the ones we are already living in.”

….

There is an inherent lack of logic in the position routinely embraced by these nations and the EU:  They insist that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is premature because this issue must be resolved via negotiations. And besides, they insist, Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

That is to say, they have no trouble prematurely advancing a scenario that has not been determined via negotiations, as long as it is their scenario.

Thank goodness for the breath of fresh air that is US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. She launched a blistering attack on the UN that was condemning the President, accusing it of causing more damage to Middle East peace than advancing it.

UN Watch brings us the full text of her speech:

“Thank you, Mr. President. The Jewish people are a patient people. Throughout three thousand years of civilization, foreign conquest, exile, and return, Jerusalem has remained their spiritual home. For nearly 70 years, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel, despite many attempts by others to deny that reality.

The American people are less patient. In 1948, the United States was the first nation to recognize the independent state of Israel. In 1995, the U.S. Congress declared that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel, and that the U.S. Embassy should be located in Jerusalem.

Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all agreed with that position, but they did not act. They delayed, in the hopes that a peace process would produce results – results that never came.

For 22 years, the American people have overwhelmingly supported that position, and they have waited . . . and waited. This week, President Trump finally made the decision to no longer deny the will of the American people…

Israel, like all nations, has the right to determine its capital city. Jerusalem is the home of Israel’s parliament, president, prime minister, Supreme Court, and many of its ministries.

It is simple common sense that foreign embassies be located there. In virtually every country in the world, U.S. embassies are located in the host country’s capital city. Israel should be no different.

The United States took this step in full knowledge that it will raise questions and concerns. Our actions are intended to help advance the cause of peace. We must recognize that peace is advanced, not set back, when all parties are honest with each other. Our actions reflected an honest assessment of reality.

I understand the concern members have in calling this session. Change is hard. But we should never doubt what the truth can do. We should never doubt that when we face the truth, believe in the human spirit, and encourage each other, that peace can happen.

To those who have good faith concerns about the future of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, let me again assure you that the President and this administration remain committed to the peace process.

To those who do not act in good faith – to any person, leader, country, or terrorist group that uses this week’s decision as a pretext for violence – you are only showing yourselves to be unfit partners of peace.
Finally, I will not let this moment pass without a comment about the United Nations itself. Over many years, the United Nations has outrageously been of the world’s foremost centers of hostility towards Israel.

The U.N. has done much more to damage the prospects for Middle East peace than to advance them. We will not be a party to that. The United States no longer stands by when Israel is unfairly attacked in the United Nations. And the United States will not be lectured to by countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly.”

Once again, kol hakavod to Nikki Haley who is not afraid to speak truth to power and put the UN in its place. Let’s hope her words start to sink in and begin to have an effect.

Binyamin Netanyahu, on a trip to Paris, was not backwards in coming forward to counter French Prime Minister Emanuel Macron’s pleas to Trump to refrain from his declaration:

Prime Minister Netanyahu ridiculed continued opposition to President Trump’s declaration, and the ongoing refusal of most of the international community to acknowledge the reality that Jerusalem is and has been the Jewish capital city.

“There is an effort, continually, in UN forums – UNESCO, and elsewhere – to deny the millennial connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. And that’s absurd.”

“You can read it in a very fine book – it’s called the Bible,” Netanyahu said. “You can read it after the Bible. You can hear it in the history of Jewish communities throughout our diaspora – ‘Next year in Jerusalem’,” continued Netanyahu, referencing a phrase from the Passover Seder.

“Where else is the capital of Israel, but in Jerusalem? Where is our Knesset – our parliament? Where is our supreme court? The seat of our government? The Prime Minister’s Office? The President’s Office? It’s not in Beer Sheva, it’s not in Ashdod – these are wonderful cities, but its in Jerusalem.”

And there has been other positive fallout from Trump’s declaration. A few countries have expressed their interest in moving their embassies to Jerusaelm too:

The Phillipines sent a message to Israel:

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte sent a message to Israel that he wanted to move his country’s embassy to the capital, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported Wednesday.

The Czech Republic too, always a good friend of Israel, is similarly weighing up an embassy move, and Hungary joined in:

The Czech Republic and Hungary have broken ranks with the European Union on President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the EuObserver reported this week. Czech president Milos Zeman on Thursday announced: “[Trump’s decision] makes me truly happy […] We may, sooner or later, follow the United States.”

Both countries refused to endorse the EU’s statement that was going to express “serious concern” on the part of the entire organization of states. As a result, the statement was issued only by the EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

Just imagine a day in the not too distant future when it will be simply a matter of course for countries to have their embassies in Jerusalem. They should be brave like the Czechs and Phillipines, and give it a go. I’m sure the sky will not fall in.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, indigenous rights, International relations, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

They just can’t help themselves: Predictably violent reactions to Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

The reactions to Donald Trump’s historic speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel were as predictable as they were outrageous and violent. In this post I will record only the civilian protests and anti-Israel violence:

Inside Israel:

The Palestinians of course did what comes naturally to them:

They rioted – in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Gaza and elsewhere. Disgracefully, Arab members of the Knesset took part in a protest in Umm El Fahm (an Arab town within Israel) against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. So much for “loyal” members of the opposition. An Israeli journalist reported that he was almost lynched in Wadi Ara.

They threw stones  – injuring three people on a bus in Wadi Ara (near the above Umm el Fahm).

A 9 year old girl was injured this morning in Gush Etzion by rocks thrown at the family car:

Car damaged by rocks thrown by Palestinians

Elsewhere they used ambulances as cover for throwing stones – contravening all human rights and Geneva Conventions

Stone thrower using an ambulance as cover to throw stones

They launched rockets at Sderot – one of which hit a kindergarten – and which only by a miracle did not kill or maim anyone.

Damage to a Sderot kindergarten from rocket fired from Gaza

The Israeli Air Force hit back – and of course the press got it all backwards. See Peter Lerner’s tweets:

An Israeli bus came under fire between Ofra and Bet El but thank G-d there were no injuries.

Worst of all, earlier today, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed and severely wounded a security guard at Jerusalem’s central bus station:

A Palestinian terrorist stabbed a security guard in the chest,  seriously wounding him, at the entrance to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station on Sunday, before being tackled by police and a passerby, officials said,

Graphic video footage from the scene showed the terrorist slowly handing his belongings to the security guard, who was checking travelers at the door to the station, before suddenly taking out a knife and plunging it into the guard’s chest.

The terrorist then tried to flee the scene, but a police officer and civilians chased after him and tackled him to the ground. Police denied media reports that the terrorist had been shot or killed. He was taken into custody for further questioning.

The victim, 46, was taken to the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment where doctors were battling to stabilize his condition and save his life, said Dr. Ofer Merrin, the head of trauma center.

“The knife, unfortunately, hit his heart. His condition has stabilized, but I cannot say that there’s not threat to his life because, like I said, he’s in serious condition,” the doctor said, adding that he was unconscious and connected to a respirator.

Update:

Outside Israel:

Antisemites – yes, common-or-garden Jew-haters, not “pro-Palestinian” or merely “anti-Zionist” activists – attacked the central shul in Gothenberg, Sweden where students were holding a party.

Gothenberg synagogue attacked by firebombs

Yes! A synagogue! Why not at the Israeli Embassy which would make more sense (though equally unacceptable)? Because despite all claims to the contrary, all those “pro-Palestinian” anti-Israel “activists” are at heart raving antisemites.

The Swedish government itself is not much better:

The kosher restaurant in Amsterdam attacked by a Muslim

A kosher restaurant in Amsterdam was attacked by a Muslim  – not because of Jerusalem but because of “the miserable situation in Palestine” according to the attacker. As if attacking a Jewish restaurant is going to improve the situation in the Middle East. Again, as above, it would have made more sense to attack the Israeli embassy (not that I am recommending this). The reactions of Dutch MK’s and the Dutch police are significant for their contrasting attitudes:

But police sources told daily Het Parool Friday that during questioning the man did not mention the US declaration. He also denied having any anti-Semitic sentiments, saying he vandalized the kosher restaurant, which is owned by Dutch Jews, to protest “the miserable reality in Palestine.”

If he is so not antisemitic, why attack a Jewish restaurant?

… On Thursday, a dozen-odd lawmakers, including Han Ten Broeke of the ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, patronized the restaurant as a sign of solidarity and condemned it as an anti-Semitic incident.

The Palestinian is suspected of vandalism, which he admitted to in his investigation. Prosecutors did not say yet whether they will recommend prosecuting him and if so, whether they will indict him for a hate crime.

If this is not a hate crime I don’t know what is.

In London, there were outright calls to murder Jews at a shameful demonstration protesting Trump’s Jerusalem declaration. David Collier brings us the report:

The event itself was full of religious incitement and anti-Jewish hatred. The crowds were chanting anti-Jewish (not anti-Zionist) statements in Arabic. Calling for a war to free Al Aqsa, and reciting the phrase ”Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud’ ( Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews,  The Army of Muhammad Will Return ) – in reference to the attack by Muslim soldiers on native Jews in Khaybar in 628ad.  There were also cries of death to America and Israel. You can see a short clip of the footage here:

… Within the crowd, comments about ‘bloodsuckers’ could be heard, also ‘believe me we’ll eat your blood’, along with other antisemitic statements. These groups, all of them, need to be held to account for aligning with blatant anti-Jewish activity in London.

Establishment inaction

In the name of Free Speech, cries of ‘death to America’ ‘death to Israel’ and calls for an Islamic war against Jews go unanswered on our streets. The Jews of the UK look around and ask themselves when somebody, anybody, will take any notice. Our Government and police operate a strategy of containment. Let them get on with it, they think, because again, the alternative is to face the hate down – the last thing that any Western government really wants to do.

One day it will have to act, because this type of hate, will eventually force the issue. In the meantime, for as long as only ‘Jews’ are the target – it is far more convenient for everyone to pretend that the toothache will go away all by itself.

Protestors in Vienna, Austria, too, also used that same kind of antisemitic cry:

Earlier that day in Vienna, hundreds of participants in a rally shouted in Arabic, “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.” The cry relates to an event in the seventh century when Muslims massacred and expelled Jews from the town of Khaybar, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia.

Again – just to remind you all, when these haters claim to be “only” anti-Israel or anti-Zionist, they are in fact out and out antisemites. Judge them by their actions not by their words, as Avi Mayer remarks:

As for the culprit in chief leading the charge against Israel – I am speaking of the UN here, in typical form they held an emergency session to discuss Donald Trump’s declaration. It would be funny were it no so dangerous to consider how ridiculous the UN looks, calling an emergency debate to discuss a statement which actually changes nothing on the ground, while that same UN cannot get its act together to bring some kind of end to the real conflicts raging right now in the Middle East: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, ISIS in Sinai and more.

I would call them pathetic but they are much worse than that. They are criminally insane cowards.

More on the UN, as well as all the rest of the hypocritical international community, in my next post.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, indigenous rights, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Good News Friday

It’s been a very exciting week this week, and it’s a great feeling to close the week with another Good News Friday installment.

Besides the actual news of Trump’s speech recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the timing should be noted too. The speech took place just a day after the 69th anniversary of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s announcement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – 5th December 1949.

Chabadniks (Lubavitcher Hassidim) will assure us that the timing was perfect for another reason. The speech took place on 19th Kislev, the date that the original Lubavitcher Rebbe was released from the Tsar’s prison, and from that year on, the date is a great festival for Chabad.

But it’s not only Donald Trump who vocally supports Israel. Listen to this amazing speech by Vice President Mike Pence at the 70th anniversary of Resolution 181:

Brian of London describes Pence’s speech and quotes the highlights:

You can watch the whole speech above, but here are the most important passages:

We gather today on the eve of a historic anniversary to celebrate what happened here, in this very hall, 70 years ago when the United Nations declared to the modern world an ancient truth, that the Jewish people have a natural, irrevocable right to an independent state in their ancestral and eternal homeland. (Applause.)

So in May 1947, less than two years after its inception, the United Nations formed the Special Commission on Palestine to propose paths forward for that region.

And on November 29, 1947 — 70 years ago tomorrow — the General Assembly gathered in this great hall and passed Resolution 181, calling for creation of the Jewish State of Israel. (Applause.)

Now to be clear: Israel needed no resolution to exist, for Israel’s right to exist is self-evident and timeless.

Nor did that resolution create the State of Israel. For Israel was born of the sweat and the sacrifice of the Jewish pioneers who risked everything to reclaim their beloved lands, with — in those well remembered words — “with a plow in one hand and a rifle in another.”

They turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, and an age-old dream into a reality. And their striving and their sacrifice laid the foundation for what took place in this hall 70 years ago.

And only six months later, the Jewish State of Israel was born — answering the ancient question first asked by the prophet Isaiah: “Can a country be born in one day, can a nation be born in a moment?”

It happened when on May 14, 1948, Israel declared “the natural right of Jewish people to be the masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state.” (Applause.)

While Israel was built by human hands, it’s impossible not to see the hand of heaven leading its people, writing their history in the restoration of this ancient people to their land of their birth.

In fact, the God of Abraham told His people, “Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there I will gather you and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.”

The quoting of prophet Isaiah is fantastic. If you want to understand how important that passage of Isaiah is relating to the rebuilding of Israel, Rabbi Lord Sacks wrote an extensive commentary. We’d expect nothing less from such a deeply religious mensch as Mike Pence, so it stands out dramatically as different from pretty much everything we’ve seen for almost a decade coming out of the USA.

Read the rest of the article – it’s excellent.

Turning now to a completely different subject, the following story demonstrates Israel’s care and concern for its neighbours in the entire region, even for its enemies, which Trump and Pence described so well (and which the antisemites deny or twist the facts about).

The IDF has expanded its medical facilities for Syrian civilians caught up in the civil war and has now equipped a maternity hospital over the Syrian border:

The Israel Defense Forces has equipped a new maternity clinic over the border in Syria, as part of its Operation Good Neighbor instituted a year and a half ago to provide medical, infrastructural and civilian aid to Syrian victims of the ongoing civil war.

An Israeli soldier cradling a child at the Israeli field hospital near the Syrian border. Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesman’s Office

The hospital reportedly was opened in November in response to an urgent request from Syrian doctors who saw that many women could not get to the existing maternity hospital due to the difficult conditions.

The clinic is staffed entirely by Syrian healthcare workers using equipment donated by the Israelis. More than 200 pregnant women so far have sought medical care at the new clinic, and 30 women have given birth there.

“We took a decision not just to sit on the fence and see people slaughtered and suffering every day – we decided to help them. And we understand that it might change their feeling about Israel a little bit – that we are not Satan,” the IDF commander of Operation Good Neighbor told The Jerusalem Post.

The IDF’s Mazor Ladach field hospital for Syrians includes a playroom and provides hot meals, hygiene products and medicine to take home. Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesman’s Office

Last September, the IDF set up a secure field hospital, Mazor Ladach (literally, Bandaging Those in Need) on an unused Israeli military post in the southern Golan Heights. The Israeli staff has cared for hundreds of Syrians already, according to the Operation Good Neighbor commander.

Mazor Ladach includes a playroom and also provides hot meals. “A Syrian mother who comes with her children leaves the clinic with healthier children and an aid kit from the State of Israel that includes food, basic hygiene products, and medicine,” wrote the commander on the IDF’s official blog.

In addition, over the past five years an estimated 4,000 wounded Syrians have been transported to Israeli hospitals for treatment.

I am so proud of our crazy little country! Kol hakavod is to mild a term to salute the IDF and its medical teams as well as the government authorities who worked towards providing this urgent medical care for the civilians of our enemies.  Hopefully these actions will change attitudes (they are already) and make new friends out of our potential enemies.

And one more item from Israel’s medical sector. An extraordinary story of Mark Lewis, a British Jew who was suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) and underwent successful stem cell treatment in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem has been made into a UK Channel 4 TV documentary.

A prominent Jewish lawyer has taken part in a ground-breaking clinical trial at Israel’s Hadassah hospital that offers treatment which could finally offer a “miraculous” cure for the 2.5 million sufferers of multiple-sclerosis.

Mark Lewis — best known as the media lawyer who took on Rupert Murdoch over the newspaper phone-hacking scandal — is one of 48 patients to have participated in the revolutionary year-long trial at the internationally renowned hospital in Jerusalem.

At the Israeli hospital, Mr Lewis was injected with stem cells derived from his own bone marrow, directly into the spinal fluid.

Speaking to the JC before a Channel 4 documentary this week about his treatment, he said he had benefited immediately afterwards from “a miraculous 60 per cent improvement in my condition”.

He added: “Within minutes I had feeling and movement back that I had not had for years.”

“The Herzl quote they speak about a lot in Israel sums it up,” he said. “ ‘If you will it, it is no dream’.”

Watch this fantastic clip about Mark Lewis’ treatment and results:

Mr. Lewis’ observations about Israeli society are heart-warming, and it is great that they will receive a wide audience:

Mr Lewis praised the pioneering Israeli technology used by the multi-faith medical team at the university hospital at Ein Kerem. “The trial is the complete antithesis to BDS,” he said. “It is Israeli technology treating everybody with a team that has no concept of religion, nationality or whatever.

“It is purely about helping people, whoever and whatever they are — no matter what god they do or do not believe in.”

Mr Lewis said the sense of unity among the medical team was striking. “The leading professor was born in Greece and is Christian but is now an Israeli citizen. There was a Muslim doctor, there was someone from the former Soviet Union and there was a specialist who is the sister of someone known to be an Israeli ‘settler’.

“But all I noticed was this real sense of everybody pulling together to try and crack this thing.”

Research into the treatment’s efficacy for MS patients began at the Hadassah in 2007. It was one of the first experiments in which advances in stem cell treatments were applied to neurological diseases.

By a stroke of luck, Mr Lewis was holidaying in Israel nine years later when he heard from a friend that the hospital was seeking patients for the full-time trial.

Since being diagnosed with MS, Mr Lewis’s symptoms have grown progressively worse and he feared he would have to give up work within a few years. His life expectancy was put at just 65 years.

Mr Lewis said the first thing he did on flying out to Israel to begin the trial was to visit the Kotel to say prayers.

As to the treatment itself:

The treatment is extremely painful for the patient. In order to be injected directly into the spinal fluid doctors insert the needle, which is four inches long, between the patient’s vertebrae.

“I cannot describe to you the pain,” Mr Lewis said. “That injection took about one hour and 20 minutes — I thought I was going to faint.”

The patient’s own bone-marrow stem cells are first extracted, then enhanced and then injected into the spinal cord.

Each patient then undergoes monthly neurological evaluations including MRI scans and techniques to detect neuro-regeneration.

In addition, electrophysiological and visual tests are performed of patients’ brains with up to five complete neuro-cognitive evaluations performed for each patient.

Professor Karussis Dimitrios, Hadassah’s internationally renowned neuroimmunologist, will then write a report on the results allowing other medical facilities around the world to use the findings.

Mr Lewis says that some of the initial positive responses to the treatment have now began to fade and he believes another shot of injections would bring similar benefits.

“Think of it in the same way as if you were suffering from diabetes. You wouldn’t just be given one insulin shot and then told you were finished being treated.

“The treatment was over a year ago now – and I am ready for another shot. But that may never happen of course. It depends on the final results of the trial and the goodwill of the hospital.”

Kol hakavod to Professor Karussis Dimitrios and the entire research team at Hadassah Hospital for discovering and implementing this treatment. May Mark Lewis have a full and speedy recovery, refuah shlema, and may all the other countless sufferers of MS benefit from this treatment too.

On this optimistic note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom. This week we celebrate the first days of Chanukah, so I wish you all Happy Chanukah, חג אורים שמח as well!

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