“A hell of a pinpoint operation”

Double standards time:

The Coalition forces in Iraq comprise several Western countries and Middle Eastern allies, and their aim is the defeat of ISIS (or ISIL) in Iraq and surrounding territories.

On 5 September, 15 September and 3 December 2014, different sets of countries came together to discuss concerted action against ISIL. Present at all three meetings were the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, and Denmark.

The coalition of 5 September (10 countries) decided to support anti-ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria.[118]
The coalition of 15 September (26 countries) decided to support the Iraqi government militarily.[119]
The coalition of 3 December 2014 (59 countries) agreed on a many-sided strategy, including cutting off ISIL’s financing and funding and exposing ISIL’s true nature.[120]

Over the weekend a very unfortunate incident occurred: a site in Mosul was attacked by the Coalition and mass civilian casualties were caused as a result:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The US-led coalition against the Islamic State group said Saturday that it struck a location in west Mosul where dozens of civilians were reportedly killed by aerial bombing.


An Iraqi soldier stands guard at the frontline of the Old City of Mosul during the battle to recapture it from ISIS (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

“An initial review of strike data… indicates that, at the request of the Iraqi security forces, the coalition struck (IS) fighters and equipment, March 17, in west Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties,” it said in a statement.

Iraqi officials and witnesses say that strikes in west Mosul have killed several hundred people in recent days, but the number of victims could not be independently confirmed, and the toll from the specific strike referenced by the coalition was unclear.

The coalition said at the beginning of this month that “it is more likely than not, at least 220 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes”, while other incidents were still under investigation.

Dozens of bodies

“There are dozens of bodies still under the rubble,” Bashar al-Kiki, the head of the Nineveh provincial council, told AFP.

“Efforts to remove the bodies from under the rubble are ongoing,” Kiki said.

Nawfal Hammadi, the governor of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, said the coalition had carried out the strikes in the city’s Mosul al-Jadida area, killing “more than 130 civilians.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not blaming the Coalition. It is clear that ISIS has been using these civilians as human shields. If the Coalition backs off, ISIS win the territory. If the Coalition attacks, ISIS reckons it will win international sympathy:

“The Daesh terrorist organisation is seeking to stop the advance of the Iraqi forces in Mosul at any cost, and it is gathering civilians… and using them as human shields,” Hammadi told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Since the strike, there has not been one peep from the international community besides expressions of “concern” from the UN.

Let me take you back now to July 2014 when Israel was fighting Hamas in Gaza. There too, just like ISIS, Hamas gathered human shields to protect its weapon stores, its tunnels and its fighters. On 20th July Israel attacked a Hamas stronghold in Shejaiya and a large number of civilians (so Hamas claimed ) were killed.

To the “misfortune of Gaza’s residents,” Gantz said, Hamas “instead of building houses, schools, hospitals and factories” had built a war machine in residential areas.

He said Israel mourned the loss of life and injury among Gaza civilians, but emphasized that Israel had repeatedly warned residents of the area to evacuate because Hamas had deployed there. “We issued warning after warning,” he said, making phone calls, distributing leaflets and more. He said the IDF would make “every effort” to prevent civilian casualties, and that Israel was sending aid into Gaza, and had opened a field hospital on the border. No other army or country would act in this way, he said. But “in the end there is a mission, a moral obligation” to protect the people of Israel.

Overall, said Gantz, the IDF offensive against Hamas was proceeding well, and the soldiers were doing “fantastic work.” He said: “I’m proud of them. All of Israel should be proud of them.”

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were also killed in that attack and at the time, Israel was reeling from the bad news as well as from the constant rocket attacks on the country.

Did Israel receive any support from its ostensible allies?  Besides Canada, you can bet your bottom dollar it did not.Besides the usual suspects – the Palestinians, Iran and the Arab League, here is what the EU and UN had to say:

UN: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attack on Shejaiya “an atrocious action”,”Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians.”.[12][59]

 EU: The European Union said it “is particularly appalled by the human cost of the Israeli military operation in Shuja’iyya”.[13

Not much sympathy from the Americans either. Here is that peace-loving, so-sympathetic, former Secretary of State John Kerry, cynically calling Israel’s attack “a helluva pinpoint operation”:

Thankfully the United States is now led by an Administration that does not automatically side with terrorists, and appears to put Western interests ahead of virtue-signalling.

But I just thought I would put these double standards out there for us all to see.

Posted in Defence and Military, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Good News Friday

The clocks moved forward in Israel last night which is just as well because I have an extra hour to write my Good News Friday post!

Let’s start this week’s post with news from Israel’s biomedical sector. Israeli 3D printing technology helped in the separation of conjoined twins in America! (h/t Reality):

From 3D-printed shoes to 3D-printed cars, 3D technology is changing everything around us, even the medical world. An Israeli company has developed innovative software for 3D printing anatomical models that enable doctors to plan and practice in advance of complicated surgery using a 3D model that matches the anatomy of the patient. This innovative technology can even help them prepare for extremely complex operations, such as separating conjoined twins.

The company behind the software is Israel’s Simbionix, which 3D Systems bought for $120 million three years ago. At a recent medical conference, Colorado-based 3D Systems exhibited this new Israeli development, which allows doctors to print in three dimensions the organ or limb on which they are about to perform a surgical procedure and study it while holding it.

Perhaps the most phenomenal application of this Israeli technology is in helping separate conjoined twins. Jadon and Anias McDonald were born joined at the skull and shared blood vessels. Last fall, when they were 13 months old, they were finally separated during a 27-hour operation performed by doctors at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York, supported by 3D Systems technologies and training sessions.

The remarkable surgery was made possible thanks to a dedicated team that included several members of 3D Systems’ healthcare division, who were present in the operating room for the surgery, along with nearly 40 other healthcare professionals.

Practicing the procedure using a 3D printed model based on a patient’s CT

Using medical scans and imaging of the twins, 3D Systems was able to create 3D models to facilitate planning of the complex procedure. The surgery was performed by Dr. James Goodrich, who has told the media “this is about as complicated as it gets.”

Combining 3D printing and healthcare, this project was spearheaded in Israel, but is “used by renowned surgeons in the US,” she says. It showcases “how our training tools help prepare future surgeons.”

This is a jaw-droppingly awesome development. It reads like the best of science fiction, and yet here it is in glorious technicolour. Kol hakavod to the Israeli researchers who developed the whole concept, and to the American team who succeeded in separating the twins. This truly is the dawning of a new age in health care.

My next item goes in the opposite direction, back around a century ago from where Israeli archeologists uncovered a 100 year old, British military-issue liquor stash!

After battling their way up through Ottoman Palestine 100 years ago, British soldiers garrisoned in Ramle took a break from the fighting and tossed back a few drinks.

Many drinks, at that.

Excavations carried out last week during the construction of a new highway east of Ramle in central Israel turned up the remains of a building used by British soldiers in General Edmund Allenby’s army who were stationed there between November 1917 and September 1918. Outside the ruined building, archaeologists with the IAA found the soldiers’ garbage pit, in which were plates and cutlery, uniform buttons, belt buckles, and hundreds of liquor bottles.

A bottle of Dewar’s whisky with the label found at a World War I British camp near Ramle in March 2017 (Assaf Peretz, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)

Ron Toueg, an archaeologist with the IAA who headed the salvage operation, told The Times of Israel that the trove included three intact bottles of Gordon’s Dry Gin, a bottle of Dewar’s whisky, beer bottles, wine bottles, and bottles of mineral water, including one from Johannesburg, South Africa.

The dig also turned up several items that helped narrow down the time the building was in use: the silver tip of a British officer’s swagger stick marked with the letters RFC — Royal Flying Corps — which became the Royal Air Force in April 1918; and a medallion with the face of King Fuad of Egypt, who ruled from October 1917 until March 1922, with the words in French “Long live Fuad, king of Egypt”; and the bottom of pocket watch with an inscription for a one-year warranty by its manufacturer in New York.

A bottle of Gordon’s Dry Gin found at a World War I British camp near Ramle in March 2017 (Assaf Peretz, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)

“This is the first time in the history of archeology in Israel in which an assemblage of hundreds of glass bottles from a British army camp from World War I was uncovered,” Brigitte Ouahnouna, a researcher in the IAA’s glass department, said in a statement. “Interestingly, the glass bottles, which contained mainly wine, beer, soda and alcoholic beverages such as gin, liquor and whiskey, came from Europe to supply soldiers and officers in the camp.”

My initial reaction to this news was “I’ll drink to that!”. However…

Unfortunately, as far as the IAA has disclosed, all the bottles they found were empty.

Oh well, better luck next time. But what a fascinating discovery anyway! 🍾🍹🍷

And let’s finish off with a Hebrew lesson –  a short, slightly complicated, Hebrew lesson given by comedian Elon Gold. 😀


And for the slightly longer version, which is necessary to explain Hebrew slang, here is “Hebrew with Renny”. Enjoy! 😀

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Posted in Israel news, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The permanent anti-Israel bias in the UNHRC’s permanent Agenda Item 7

Useless UN

UN – Useless Nations

The UN Human Rights Wrongs Council has a standing Agenda Item Number 7 in which “Israel’s human rights abuses” are discussed. The very title of the Agenda item invites the inevitable biased conclusion.

Continuing their previous approach, the United States decided to boycott the UNHRC session in which Agenda Item no. 7 was debated. The State Department’s objections read as follows:

The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the UN Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item Seven: “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” Today’s actions in the Council are yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel. No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the Council. The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council.

As an expression of our deeply-held conviction that this bias must be addressed in order for the Council to realize its legitimate purpose, the United States decided not to attend the Council’s Item Seven General Debate session. It does not serve the interests of the Council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter. Later this week, the United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same.

The United States envoy to the Human Rights Council, Erin Barclay, set out the US’s position already at the beginning of March:

Even more encouragingly, the United States has given warning that in the absence of reform at the HRC, they might reconsider their participation in the Council altogether:

America is one of the council’s 47 member-states, but the Trump administration has warned that it could reconsider its participation unless a number of changes are made, including changes in the UNHRC’s treatment of Israel.

The US also pledged to vote against five anti-Israel resolutions the council is expected to pass later this week. The UNHRC will also likely approve seven resolutions regarding human rights abuses in seven other countries, including Syria and Iran.

The UN Human Rights Council is mandated to dedicate Agenda Item Seven to a discussion on human rights abuses in Israel at every session.

It is the only country against which there is such a mandate; all other human rights abuses, including those by Syria and Iran, are examined under Agenda Item Four.

“Today’s actions in the council are yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel. No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the council,” the State Department said. “The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the council. As an expression of our deeply held conviction that this bias must be addressed in order for the council to realize its legitimate purpose, the United States decided not to attend the council’s Item Seven General Debate session.”

The HRC was too much even for the Obama Administration in the end:

Under former president George W. Bush, the US refused to participate in all council debates, but former president Barack Obama believed it was important for the United States to engage the council.

The US held a UNHRC seat for six of Obama’s eight years in office.

Under his administration, the country always voted in support of Israel and in the last few years, it also refrained from participating in Agenda Item Seven debates.

The EU and most Western countries have followed suit. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Aviva Raz Shechter, who also boycotted the session, said: “The Human Rights Council is obsessed with Israel and continues to lose its standing.”

Standing up for Israel, in place of the Israeli envoy who was also boycotting the debate, were stalwart pro-Israel organizations.

Here is World Jewish Congress Representative Gabriel Rosenberg on the blatant bias in retaining Agenda Item 7:

And here is UN Watch’s unrelentingly persistent Hillel Neuer, addressing those benighted dictatorships and Arab states who condemn Israel for apartheid while they themselves are the greatest perpetrators of apartheid. “Where are your Jews?” he asks them pointedly:

Kol hakavod to the WJC and UN Watch, and kudos too to the State Department as well as other Western countries who boycotted the event. It is very encouraging to note that they can see the evil bias in this permanent agenda item which exposes the ludicrous, not to say outrageous, hypocrisy of the Human Rights Council.

Which then begs the question why do these countries – and I include Israel in this – even belong to the HRC any more? Why not disband it? Or simply set up a parallel Human Rights Council which will actually concern itself with real human rights abuses. They could do worse than start with the human rights abuses of the other participating members of the HRC.

Posted in Antisemitism, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Terror returns to London

Police secure the area on the south side of Westminster Bridge close to the Houses of Parliament in London, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, during a terror attack in which 3 people were killed by an assailant, including a policeman. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

In an attack horrifically reminiscent of scenes that have occurred in Israel, three people (later reports talk of 4 or even 5 victims) were killed yesterday in a car-ramming and stabbing terror attack on the streets of London outside the Houses of Parliament, carried out by a British-born terrorist:

At least three people, including a police officer, were killed and twenty people were reported injured in a vehicular ramming attack near the British Parliament in London Wednesday afternoon, according to media reports.

According to witnesses, a car mowed down a dozen pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge before crashing into the gates outside of the Portcullis House, The Sun reported.

Two men have reportedly been shot by police after attempting to to stab officers outside of the Houses of Parliament.

“We heard a loud bang, lots of shouting and saw men running around. Someone rushed through, attacked a policeman,” a witness told The Sun. “He appeared to be carrying a knife or a gun. We then heard gunfire, five or six rounds.”

In addition to the three victims. the terrorist was also killed.

The London police announced that they are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely condemned the attack. “Israel expresses its deep shock at the terror attack in London today and its solidarity with the victims and with the people and government of Great Britain. Terror is terror wherever it occurs and we will fight it relentlessly.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said: “Israel stands as one with the British people as we all work together to defeat the scourge of terrorism. We send our condolences and wish a speedy recovery to all those injured.”

The Times of Israel adds:

A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage at the heart of Britain’s seat of power Wednesday, mowing down pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before stabbing an armed police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Four people were killed, including the attacker, and about 20 others were injured.

Scene of the terror attack in London

Lawmakers, lords, staff and visitors were locked down as the man was shot by police within the perimeter of Parliament and just yards (meters) from entrances to the building itself. He died, as did two pedestrians on the bridge, and the police officer.

A doctor who treated the wounded said some had “catastrophic” injuries.

In the House of Commons, deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle announced that the sitting was being suspended and told lawmakers not to leave.

After leaving a trail of destruction on the bridge in a gray SUV, the attacker managed to get through tall iron gates and into Parliament’s New Palace Yard, a cobbled courtyard in the shadow of the Big Ben clock tower.

Just yards to the right is the entrance to 1,000-year-old Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the parliamentary complex, busy with visitors and school groups. Beyond that, a corridor leads to the building’s Central Lobby, flanked by House of Commons and House of Lords chambers.

Prime Minister Theresa May was among lawmakers near the Commons at the time of the attack, and was quickly ushered away by security officers and driven back to Downing St.

To get that far, the attacker would have had to evade the armed officers who patrol the Parliament complex in pairs, as well as Parliament’s own security staff, who don’t carry guns.

The attack unfolded within sight of some of the city’s most famous tourist sites, including the London Eye, a large Ferris wheel with pods that overlook the capital. It stopped rotating and footage showed the pods full as viewers watched police and medical crews on the bridge, which has at its north end Big Ben and Parliament, two iconic symbols.

“The whole length of the bridge there were people on the ground,” witness Richard Tice told Sky News. The London Ambulance Service said it had treated at least 10 people on the bridge, and British port officials said a woman was pulled from the River Thames, injured but alive.

The Daily Mail illustrates the path taken by the terrorist:

This is the path of destruction in London on Wednesday when pedestrians on Westminster Bridge were mowed down by a frantic driver before a police officer in the Houses of Parliament was stabbed. The terror began at the south London end of the bridge when a driver in a Hyundai 4X4 mounted the pavement, mowing down the first pedestrians. He continued along the pavement, ploughing through at least a dozen people in total, before coming to a stop at the Houses of Parliament where he crashed his Hyundai 4X4 into railings. Either he or another attacker then burst through Old Palace Yard at the Houses of Parliament where a police officer was stabbed.

British Prime Minister Theresa May denounced the attack as sick and depraved:

“The full details of exactly what happened are still emerging. But, having been updated by police and security officials, I can confirm that this appalling incident began when a single attacker drove his vehicle into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring many more, including three police officers,” she continued.

“This attacker, who was armed with a knife, then ran towards Parliament where he was confronted by the police officers who keep us – and our democratic institutions – safe. Tragically, one officer was killed. The terrorist was also shot dead.”

May stressed that the United Kingdom’s threat level will continue to be set at severe and added that “the location of this attack was no accident.”

“The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our capital city, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech,” she continued. “These streets of Westminster – home to the world’s oldest Parliament – are engrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe. And the values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere. That is why it is a target for those who reject those values.”

“But let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before: any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure,” May said.

One of the heroes of the day was MP Tobias Ellwood who administered CPR to the wounded policeman, unfortunately unsuccessfully:

Ellwood, a former soldier, administered chest compressions, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and improvised to stem the flow of blood from the policeman’s wounds until an air ambulance landed in the grounds. The policeman as since reportedly died, taking the total to two victims in the attack.

Tobias Ellwood MP administers CPR to a wounded policeman

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister, who has responsibility for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, was photographed administering aid to the stricken policeman in the immediate aftermath of the Wednesday afternoon attack. He was later seen with blood on his hands and face.

Alistair Burt, who served as middle east minister before Ellwood, told Jewish News: “Tobias Ellwood is the very best of us. To rush towards trouble is the action of a brave man, and my admiration of my colleague knows no bounds.”

Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green said: “Tobias reacted magnificently. The experience must have been painful given his family loss in a terrorist incident. The police acted amazingly well. Day in day out they protect us and put their life’s at risk. Sadly Tobias’s actions couldn’t save the police officer.”

Mr. Ellwood lost his brother Jon in the Bali terrorist attack in 2002.

Israel sent its condolences to the British after the attack and Tel Aviv City Hall was lit up with the UK flag in solidarity:

A timely reminder of what the world faces today:

As for the ridiculously excruciating wonderment at the “motives” of the terrorist, here is the inimitable Kay Wilson, noting every possible descriptor of the terrorist except the obvious one:

I suggested that maybe he is upset at the prices in Marks & Spencer. That would be enough to set off anyone!

Interestingly, the BBC has finally discovered “terror” – a term never used when an attack occurs in Israel. As one wit on Harry’s Place remarked:

In a shocking new development, the BBC has rediscovered the word terror. Jewish community says “It’s a total surprise. We did not see that coming.”

In all seriousness, compare today’s reporting on the BBC to the way they reported the terror attack in Israel last year, in which 4 Israeli soldiers were killed – the headline read “Jerusalem lorry attack: Four soldiers killed” – as if a lorry was radicalized and decided independently to ram some soldiers, rather than a vicious cold-blooded terrorist – and you get an idea of the ingrained bias at the BBC. (h/t Neil Turner).

The end result is that when terrorism in Israel is minimised in the media, it simply emboldens the terrorists to think that such attacks are acceptable everywhere.

It starts with the Jews but rarely ends there. Let’s hope that Theresa May lives up to her promises to crack down on extremism.

I join all Israelis in sending my sympathies to the British people, condolences to those who lost loved ones, and wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded.

Posted in Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

UN-fair anti-Israel apartheid accusation withdrawn

The UN can’t seem to get enough of bashing Israel.  Not only did the Human Rights Wrongs Commission condemn Israel last week for the umpteenth time, but yet another UN agency, one that I’ve never heard of, called the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), issued a report condemning Israel for its “apartheid practices” which Israeli rightfully condemned:

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations slammed the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on Wednesday after the commission released a report accusing Israel of establishing “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”

The report, titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” says that “available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.”

The Beirut-based commission slammed Israel’s Law of Return, “conferring on Jews worldwide the right to enter Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship regardless of their countries of origin and whether or not they can show links to Israel-Palestine, while withholding any comparable right from Palestinians, including those with documented ancestral homes in the country,” as a policy of “demographic engineering” meant to uphold Israel’s status as the Jewish state.

The report further accuses Israel of “practices” that have fragmented Palestinians, arguing that it is the “principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime.”

Danny Danon, Israel’s UN envoy, hit back at the report, saying the “attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie.”

Honest Reporting makes an important point about the composition of this unesteemed commission:

The New York Times notes that the Beirut-based ESCWA is “composed entirely of Arab member states; most do not recognize Israel,”

As the Times of Israel remarked on commission’s members:

The report was compiled by Richard Falk, a Princeton professor emeritus with a long track record of vehemently anti-Israel rhetoric who previously was the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and by Virginia Tilley, an American political scientist who authored the book “The One-State Solution” in 2005.

The ugly mug of an ugly antisemite, Richard Falk

Haley described Falk as “a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories.”

Richard Falk has a long, long record of vicious anti-Israel activity, as readers of this blog will know.

Here is Ambassador Nikki Haley talking about the biased report (via Israellycool):

And here is UN Watch’s short video about the main instigator of the report, the revolting antisemite Richard Falk:

How anyone could consider this a fair investigation is beyond me. It is obviously only the sort of thing that the UN could think up.

To put this into its right context, the commission first created the title and “job description” of the report, and then “found” (or rather, invented) the facts to fit their verdict. In the words of American Jewish leaders: (emphases are mine):

World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer called the report — authored by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley — “a sad attempt to reinstate the infamous 1975 UN resolution that considered Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination” and said UN leaders and member states should “dissociate themselves from this report and to condemn it for what it is: a piece of vile anti-Israel propaganda that has not basis in fact.”

The authors of the report, Singer went on to note, “seem to live in a parallel universe. They don’t care about facts when these don’t fit into their one-sided narrative. It is sad to witness how time and again the United Nations is being hijacked by people whose agenda it is to deny the Jewish people’s right to a democratic and free state in its ancient homeland, Israel.”

The very good news is that the US has demanded that the report be pulled:

The United States on Wednesday demanded that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres withdraw a report by a UN body accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians and of racially dominating them.

UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres

Guterres distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) but US Ambassador Nikki Haley said it should be scrapped altogether.

“The United States is outraged by the report,” said Haley in a statement. “The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”

Based in Beirut, ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab countries, according to its website, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.

“That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising,” said Haley.

And now, the best news, (via Brian Goldfarb) after all the brouhaha, is that the head of the ESCWA has resigned over pressure from the Secretary General of the UN himself to withdraw the report:

The head of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has resigned over pressure she said she received from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to withdraw a report published earlier this week that accused Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime” that “dominates the Palestinian people as a whole,” according to Reuters.

Rima Khalaf resigns

Under Secretary-General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf made the announcement on Friday in Beirut, Lebanon — where the 18-member ESCWA is headquartered.

As of Friday, a link to the report could no longer be found on the front page of the ESCWA website.

Nikki Haley was delighted with this news as was Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon:

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon also praised Guterres, stating, “The secretary-general’s decision is an important step in ending the bias against Israel at the UN. Anti-Israel activists do not belong in the UN. It is time to put an end to practice in which UN officials use their position to advance their anti-Israel agenda.”

“Over the years,” Danon continued, “Khalaf has worked to harm Israel and advocate for the BDS movement. Her removal from the UN is long overdue.”

The damage has now been partly undone. Partly because while the report has been withdrawn from the Web, the reports in the international media, especially in print, are now out there – and what has been read cannot be unread, what has been seen cannot be unseen.

The UN under the new Secretary General Antonio Gutteres seems to be heading in a better direction than the past, but if Gutteres really wants to improve its standing he could do worse than start by disbanding such blatantly biased and one-sided commissions such as ESCWA which seem to have no purpose other than bashing Israel.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Good News Friday

Another week has rushed by and it’s time for another Good News Friday post.

Let’s start with some economic news for a change. This week the hi-tech giant Intel acquired the Israeli autonomous-car company Mobileye for a staggering $15 billion!

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) has confirmed that it is acquiring Israeli vehicle safety and automation systems company Mobileye N.V. (NYSE: MBLY). Intel announced that it will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding ordinary shares of Mobileye for $63.54 per share in cash – an equity value of about $15.3 billion and an enterprise value of $14.7 billion. The deal is the biggest ever exit in the history of Israeli industry.

Prof. Amnon Shashua, co-founder of Mobileye

Intel said that the acquisition of the Jerusalem based company will position it as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles. Intel estimates the vehicle systems, data and services market opportunity to be up to $70 billion by 2030.

Intel said that the acquisition will combine the best-in-class technologies from both companies, spanning connectivity, computer vision, data center, sensor fusion, high-performance computing, localization and mapping, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Together with partners and customers, Intel and Mobileye said they expect to deliver driving solutions that will transform the automotive industry.

The even better news is that Mobileye will be remaining in Israel and retaining its workers:

Intel added that the combined global autonomous driving organization, which will consist of Mobileye and Intel’s Automated Driving Group, will be headquartered in Israel and led by Prof. Amnon Shashua, Mobileye’s cofounder, chairman and CTO.

Mobileye has a long record of excellence in its field:

Mobileye was founded by Shashua and Aviram in 1999. The company initially developed camera-based technology for warning about road hazards and preventing collisions, which formed the basis for systems for driverless cars.

Mobileye’s anti-collision technology

Mobileye was floated on Wall Street in 2014 and currently has a market cap of some $10.5 billion. Its share price has shot up about 30% since first reports of the deal with Intel broke.

Kol hakavod to Intel for recognizing the advantages of acquiring Mobileye, and of course huge mazal tov to the founders of Mobileye and all its workers for bringing it to such a massive “exit”.

No Camels asks what was so special about Mobileye and answers its own question:

A developer of cutting-edge autonomous driving technologies – including pedestrian detection, collision warning systems, and others – Mobileye is now considered the leader in advanced driver assistance systems aimed to prevent road collisions.

According to Intel Israel‘s spokesman Guy Grimland, “Intel’s advanced computer chips are developed and manufactured in Israel; we also develop ultra-fast internet locally; our virtual reality revolution is happening here. And now, the autonomous car revolution will also take place here. The fact that all the hottest technologies are developed in Israel is a testament to Intel’s enormous appreciation of its Israeli branch. This makes me proud.”

Intel employs some 10,000 people locally, in manufacturing, research and development, and more. It’s one of the largest exporting companies in the Startup Nation.

According to Uzi Scheffer, General Manager of SOSA, which connects Israeli innovation to international corporations, Intel’s “historic purchase of an Israeli tech company… is further proof that forward-thinking corporations are willing to invest the money and resources needed when they find the right innovative technologies. After years of hard work, Mobileye is showing that staying the course and making the right connections are key to obtaining success.”

The success of the founders will now trickle down to Mobileye’s employees (many of who hold stock options), and even to Israeli citizens, through taxes. While the founders and employees are expected to earn billions from Monday’s acquisition, the State of Israel will also realize taxes of at least $1 billion, according to estimates.

This is really good news all round for everyone involved, including even the State itself.

Talking of the State of Israel, our economy grew by 4% in 2016:

Israel’s economy grew 4% in 2016, according to the second revision of GDP figures published today by the Central Bureau of Statistics. For the sake of comparison, GDP grew 3.2% in 2014 and 2.5% in 2015. Per capita GDP was up 2% in 2016, compared with 1.2% in 2014 and 0.5% in 2015.

According to the figures published by the Central Bureau of Statistics during 2016, the current revision shows that private consumption, which rose 6.3% in 2016, was the main engine in GDP growth. Per capital private consumption was up 4.2% in 2016, after rising 2.3% in the two preceding years.

So much for all the doom-sayers predicting the end of Israel!

This improved economy and rise in revenue looks likely to bring about tax cuts! (Though don’t hold your breath waiting, just in case):

Updated budget performance figures published today by the Ministry of Finance show that state tax revenues jumped 10% in February, compared with February 2016. State tax revenues totaled NIS 51.8 billion in January-February, 6.4% more than in the corresponding period last year.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon

Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon promised at the beginning of the year that he would lower taxes again if tax revenue figures continue to exceed the forecasts. Ministry of Finance sources predicted that Kahlon would decide the matter according to the figures for the first quarter (as he did last year), and it therefore only remains to wait for the March figures. Kahlon plans to tackle income tax and VAT this time, after having cut VAT by 1% two years ago.

Now that would be excellent news!

One very important driver of the Israeli economy is its bio-medical industry. Yet another Israeli discovery is a drug to fight leukemia:

Sam Fields, a Jewish-American professional hockey player, was diagnosed with CML [myeloid leukemia] in 2003 at the age of 27.  At the time, his doctors told him he only had two weeks to live. “They gave me a death sentence,” Fields said in an interview.

Amazingly, Fields, who is now 40-years-old, has been cancer free for almost 15 years. He attributes his being alive today to Gleevec, a cancer drug which was still in an experimental phase in 2003 when he first started taking it, but which has now come full circle.

Dr. Brian Druker, who led the original clinical development of Gleevec, co-authored the worldwide study which included 1,106 participants at 177 cancer centers in more than 16 countries. The study, published in the March 9th edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that Gleevec keeps chronic CML at bay a full decade into treatment — with no signs of additional safety risks.

Prof. Eli Canaani, discoverer of Gleevec

The story really begins  back in 2001, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) granted priority review for imatinib mesylate, sold under the name Gleevec, as an oral therapy for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML.

The nearly 11-year long follow-up study showed an estimated overall survival rate of 83.3 percent. According to the National Cancer Institute, prior to Gleevec’s 2001 FDA approval, fewer than 1 in 3 CML patients survived five years past diagnosis.

Gleevec was in fact invented in the 1990’s by biochemist Nicholas Lyndon, although it’s success is most often attributed to Dr. Druker, who pioneered its use for the treatment of CML.

But Druker’s work was built on groundbreaking scientific research carried out in the 1980’s by an Israeli researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Professor Eli Canaani, working together with visiting American hematologist Robert Gale. At Canaani’s lab in Israel, he and Gale were the first to discover that when two key genes had a deviation in which they swapped pieces of genetic material, the result was a fused protein that triggered the cancer.

“If Dr. Brian Druker is the father of Gleevec, then Professor Eli Canaani is the grandfather,” Eric Heffler, national executive director of the Israel Cancer Research Fund, a charity that supports cancer research in Israel and funded Canaani’s research said.

Huge kudos and kol hakavod to Dr. Druker and especially to Prof. Eli Canaani for their discovery that has saved so many lives and will (please G-d) save many more.

And now one last heart-warming item for Shabbat. Today the Jerusalem Marathon took place, marking 50 years of the reunion of Jerusalem, and the severely wounded soldier Yehuda HaYisraeli, who is making a remarkable (though very long and arduous) recovery, took part in it:

The 2017 Jerusalem Marathon marks 50 years since the reunification of the capital and is the largest marathon to ever take place in the city, breaking records both in the numbers of Israeli and foreign participants with over 30,000 marathon runners.

Yehuda HaYisraeli (left) takes part in the Jerusalem Marathon (Screenshot )

Most notably among them is Olympic judoka medalist Ori Sasson who won the bronze medal in Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Also representing Israel at the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan in judo in the +100 kg (+220 lbs.) category, Sasson won a silver medal for Israel in the inaugural European Games. In doing so he won the silver medal in the 2015 European Judo Championship. True to August 2016, he is rated third in the world for this weight.

Sasson’s name made international headlines during the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics when he defeated Egyptian judoka Islam El Shahaby in the first round. When the match concluded, Sasson tried to shake his opponent’s hand, but El Shahaby refused.

Ori Sasson ran together with Israel’s veteran hero, from Operation Tzuk Eitan, Yehuda Yitchak Hayisraeli, who was injured trying to save Hadar Goldin z’l. Yehuda’s comrades came out to join him and Ori in supporting Team Shalva.

Someone else who ran to support Team Shalva was my cousin’s grandson Moshe who flew in from Toronto only last night to participate in the 10 km run. Another cousin’s son, Matan, flew in from London to run 22 km (!!) which he succeeded in completing in 1 hour 48 minutes (!!) in support of Camp Simcha UK.

My nephew Nadav as well as my sister-in-law, her husband and two grandchildren took part in the 5 km “fun run” as well.

Kol hakavod to all these wonderful, energetic and public-minded youngsters (and not-so-youngsters) who took part in this great event to support Jerusalem and so many other important institutions.

May their efforts and their mitzvot be well-rewarded.

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

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