Three murdered in Palestinian terror attack in Har Adar

After a period of quiet, another Palestinian terror attack struck Israel today, at the gates of Har Adar, a quiet little community in the Jerusalem foothills:

Three Israeli security officers were killed and one was seriously hurt in a terror attack outside the Har Adar settlement near Jerusalem early Tuesday morning, police said.

According to police, the assailant arrived at the rear entrance of the settlement and opened fire on a group of security personnel, including Border Police officers and the community’s private guards, who were opening the entrance to Palestinian workers.

The terrorist, a laborer from the nearby Bayt Surik village, was shot and killed by security forces at the scene, police said.

The 37-year-old approached the entrance to Har Adar just before 7 a.m. as part of a group of Palestinians who work in the settlement.

He “aroused the suspicion” of officers on the scene, who called for him to stop. The terrorist then took a pistol out of his shirt and shot at the Israelis, before being gunned down, police said.

He killed a Border Police officer and two private security guards, all in their 20s. They all sustained gunshot wounds to the upper body. (Initial reports that they had also been stabbed were incorrect.)

The victims included a Border Police guard and two private security guards, one of whom was a local Arab:

The three Israelis killed in a terror attack at the Har Adar settlement Tuesday were named as border policeman Solomon Gavriyah, 20, and civilian security guards Youssef Ottman, 25, from Abu Ghosh and Or Arish, 25, a resident of Har Adar.

The 3 victims Hy’d from Har Adar: Solomon Gavriyah, Youssef Ottman and Or Arish, (Courtesy)

A third civilian — the head security officer of Har Adar — was seriously injured in the attack. He underwent surgery at the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem after suffering two bullet wounds and his condition was later described as stable and moderate.

Gavriyah was from the central Israeli community of Be’er Yaakov. He was posthumously promoted to staff sergeant. Police said in a statement that he had joined the Border Police for his mandatory national service and had recently been serving as a policeman in the Jerusalem seam area along the boundary with the West Bank.

He will be buried at 5 p.m. in the Be’er Yaakov military cemetery. He is survived by his parents, two sisters and a brother.

Ottman was a resident of the Arab Israeli community of Abu Ghosh, close to Har Adar. He was expected to be buried later in the day in his hometown.

Arish’s funeral was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan tweeted that he had spoken with the mayor of Abu Ghosh about Ottman’s death.

“I spoke just now with Abu Ghosh Mayor Issa Jaber and I gave my condolences over the murder of security guard Youssef Ottman. The cursed terrorist carried out his plot this morning, but our way will win,” Erdan wrote.

In an interview with The Israel Project, Jaber described Ottman as “a quiet guy who got along with everyone.”

What a terrible loss to their families and communities. May Hashem avenge their blood and may their families be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Note that the Palestinian terrorist had no need to sneak around or smuggle himself over any checkpoints. He was a legal worker with a work permit in Israel:

Police said the terrorist, a father of four, had a legal work permit, making him one of the few Palestinians with such a document to commit a terror attack in recent years. His permit was of a lower level and was only applicable for work inside Israeli settlements, like Har Adar, which lie along the “seam line” between the West Bank and Israel, according to the Shin Bet security service.

He was identified as Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal. The Shin Bet said he did not have a known history of involvement in terrorist activities.

The security service said Jamal appeared to be suffering from “significant personal and family problems” and that there was a history of violence in the family.

The Shin Bet also noted that the terrorist’s wife left him several weeks ago and moved to Jordan, leaving him with the children.

Before carrying out the attack, he left a note saying he was “a terrible husband” and that his wife had “nothing to do with what will happen,” Israel Radio reported.

His wife leaving him, and being a “terrible husband” is no excuse for going out and killing three innocent people. As the Israeli police chief Roni Alsheich remarked,

Responding to questions about the rarity of attacks from Palestinians with work permits, Alsheich said, “To my regret there is no profile for a terrorist.”

“It could just be someone who is fed up with everything and decides to take out his rage in an attack,” he said, adding, “The incitement [against Israel] is constant.”

But whenever Israel demands of the Palestinian Authority to stop their incitement Israel is reprimanded by the world for nit-picking, or is simply not believed. Words not only have meaning but they have enormous influence. It is beyond time that the PA was forced by the international community to comply with its commitments to prevent incitement.

As for the craven international media, Honest Reporting illustrates how their slanted reporting skews the picture, always against Israel’s advantage. Again, words not only have meaning but have a real-time influence on the reader. I don’t expect this to change any time soon, despite the sterling efforts of media watch organizations such as Honest Reporting. Israel is too tempting a target, and the world always seems to want to believe the worst of us.

Posted in Incitement, Media and journalism, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran and North Korea provoke Israel and the West

We were offline for 3 days and we seem to have missed a possible outbreak of WW3!

This Ongoing War reports that on Tuesday the Iranians sent a drone over Israel which Israel successfully shot down:

All the ominous recent talk about Iran’s massively increased financial capacity – thanks to its JCPOA deal with the Obama administration – to feed its voracious appetite for military adventurism in our part of the world just became significantly more worrisome this afternoon.

The Israeli Air Force intercepted what it believes to be an Iranian-built drone, sent by the Hezbollah terrorist organization, with a Patriot missile after it attempted to cross into Israeli airspace on Tuesday, the army said. The military also scrambled fighter jets to the area, but ultimately did not need to use them as the interceptor missile was able to destroy the target. [According to an IDF spokesperson] the air force monitored the unmanned aerial vehicle from its take-off from Damascus airport to the demilitarized zone that separates the Israeli and Syrian Golan Heights. [When it crossed] the Syrian border and entered the demilitarized zone — but not Israeli airspace — the IDF “decided to intercept it,” [the spokesperson] said. [IDF Patriot intercepts apparent Hezbollah drone from Syria“, Times of Israel, September 19, 2017]

The sabre-rattling of Iran’s entire power structure is generally taken seriously around here. An Associated Press report reminds us that Israeli leaders across the military and political spectrum are

worried that as the Syrian civil war appears to be winding down, Iranian and Hezbollah forces will maintain a permanent presence in the neighboring country. Netanyahu was to address the U.N. General Assembly later on Tuesday, with Iran at the top of his agenda… [Netanyahu] has repeatedly warned that Israel will not accept a military presence by Iran or any of its Shiite allies in the Syrian border area near Israel. Israel has largely stayed out of the fighting in Syria. But it has carried out dozens of airstrikes on alleged arms shipments bound for Hezbollah. It fears the group will gain sophisticated weapons and smuggle them from Syria into Lebanon.

On Friday Iran escalated and test-fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel – despite pressure from Donald Trump to refrain from doing so:

Iran tested a new ballistic missile that is reportedly capable of carrying multiple warheads, the nation’s state-run broadcaster announced Saturday.

Iran unveiled the ballistic missile Friday at a military parade in Tehran and successfully tested it the same day, Press TV reported. The report also said Iran released footage of the test-launch.

Test-firing of the Iranian Khoramshahr missile, launched from an unknown location. (Screenshot/PressTV)

Called the Khorramshahr missile, the weapon has a range of 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) and can carry multiple warheads, according to Press TV.

“The Khorramshahr missile has become smaller in size and more tactical and it will be operational in the near future,” the broadcaster said.

The missile was launched from an unknown location. With the claimed range, the missile would be easily capable of reaching Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Speaking during Friday’s parade, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would press ahead with strengthening its missile capabilities and military defenses, Press TV reported.

Israel protested the Iranian missile test, calling it a provocation to the US and a threat to the entire free world:

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday called an Iranian test of a missile that could reach Israel, test a provocation to the United States and a threat to the whole world.

Earlier in the day Iran said it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile, in defiance of warnings from Washington that it is ready to ditch a landmark nuclear deal over the issue.

“The ballistic missile that was fired by Iran is not only a a provocation and a slap in the face for the United States and its allies — and an attempt to test them — but also further proof of the Iranian ambitions to become a world power and threaten countries in the Middle East all the the countries of the free world,” Liberman said in a statement.

“Imagine what would happen if Iran would acquire nuclear weapons. That is what it is striving for. We cannot allow it to happen.,” Liberman said.

Iran continued its provocations as it displayed its S-300 air defense missile system to the public today.

With excellent timing considering these Iranian provocations, Israel carried out a second attack in as many weeks on a Syrian weapons depot outside Damascus:

Israeli warplanes early on Friday morning struck a Hezbollah weapons depot outside Damascus, Arabic-language media outlets reported.

According to reports and a monitoring group, the three separate strikes were carried out near the Damascus International Airport, an area known to be a stronghold of the Iranian-backed terrorist group.

“Israeli warplanes targeted with rocket fire a weapons depot belonging to Hezbollah near the airport,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

There were no reports of casualties or damage.

It’s hard to believe there was no damage considering the pictures that emerged after the attack:

Images of the alleged Israeli strike uploaded to social media showed smoke and a large ball of fire from the area near the airport.

This led to yet another absurd accusation by the Syrians in the UN that Israel is backing terror gangs.  Since Syria is the biggest terror-backer in the Middle East outside of Iran, and its regime has murdered almost half a million of its own citizens and driven millions more into exile, this would be very funny if it were not so dangerous.

Today, the day after Rosh Hashana, Netanyahu convened the security cabinet to discuss the Iraninan missile threat:

During the gathering, scheduled for 4 p.m., the prime minister was also expected raise the subject of the Iranian military presence in Syria, the Ynet website reported.

On Saturday, Iran said it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile, in defiance of warnings from Washington that it is ready to ditch the landmark nuclear deal over the issue.

Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday called the test a “provocation” to the United States and a threat to the entire free world.

“The ballistic missile that was fired by Iran is not only a a provocation and a slap in the face for the United States and its allies — and an attempt to test them — but also further proof of the Iranian ambitions to become a world power and threaten countries in the Middle East and all the countries of the free world,” Liberman said in a statement.

“Imagine what would happen if Iran would acquire nuclear weapons. That is what it is striving for. We cannot allow it to happen,” Liberman said.

Last Monday, Netanyahu met with Trump,  Netanyahu, focusing on the Iran nuclear deal and the Islamic Republic’s military expansion in the region.

Israeli officials have raised their concerns over Iran extending its military influence into Syria –in particular to areas near the border with Israel — by way of its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah that has been fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime as it battles against an insurgency now in its sixth year.

During his speech to the UN General Assembly last Tuesday, Netanyahu urged an end to the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran that saw the lifting of sanctions in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear program to prevent it producing weapons.

He also brought it up in his meeting with Trump. After the meeting, the White House said in a statement that the two men had discussed efforts to counter “Iran’s malign influence” in the Middle East, as well as “optimism in the region” about Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Binyamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump meet before the UN General Assembly opening

As mentioned above, Netanyahu’s speech (full text here) to the UN focused on the Iranian threat:

This year, though, Netanyahu went all in. Israel’s policy vis-a-vis the nuclear accord is very simple, he declared: “Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it.”

A clever soundbite, to be sure, but Netanyahu also explained what that means, at least partially.

“Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions, until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability,” he said. “Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation. But above all, fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause.”

In advocating to reopen the Iran deal, Netanyahu — who said he had discussed with Trump ways to “fix” the agreement — is betting mainly on the power of sanctions. It was crippling sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating in the first place, his thinking goes, and with even harsher sanctions, the Islamic Republic can be forced to entirely dismantle its nuclear ambitions.

Supporters of the deal, which Iran signed with six world powers, disagree. They posit that it took years and many rounds of tough negotiations to create the sanctions regime, and that it would be impossible to do the same thing over again.

Even if the US were to unilaterally withdraw from the deal, and again impose harsh sanctions on Iran, other major players — such as Russia, China, Japan and others — are unlikely to follow suit, neutering the impact of US sanctions to a degree.

US President Donald Trump too condemned the Iranian regime:

In Iran, Trump said, the trappings of democracy mask a “corrupt dictatorship.” The country must be forced to “end its pursuit of death and destruction. Above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.”

He also did not spare any blistering criticism of the Iranian nuclear deal:

calling it “an embarrassment to the United States.”

And as if all this were not enough. North Korea continued to poke the West in the eye, with yet another nuclear test and a second missile launch towards Japan. This led Donald Trump to to threaten the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling him “Rocket Man“:

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said, in a disparaging reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

The US escalated in retaliation, with bombers and fighters buzzing North Korea in a show of force:

US bombers flew off the east coast of North Korea Saturday in a show of force designed to project American military power in the face of Pyongyang’s weapons programs, escalating already sky-high tensions.

Minutes after the military show of force was announced, North Korea’s foreign minister assailed US President Donald Trump at the opening of his address to the United Nations, calling him a “mentally deranged person full of megalomania.”

As a certifiable megalomaniac, Kim Jong Un certainly has the expertise to make a diagnosis.

US bombers have carried out similar show of force flights as the United States and the international community struggle to rein in North Korea’s weapons programs.

But this was the furthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any US fighter or bomber aircraft has flown off North Korea’s coast in this century, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” White said.

“We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”

A shallow 3.5-magnitude earthquake that hit North Korea near its nuclear test site Saturday was likely an aftershock from the hermit state’s latest nuclear test on September 3, a nuclear test ban watchdog and other experts said.

The bomber flight and quake came at the end of a week that saw a blistering war of words between Kim and Trump, with the US leader using his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly to warn that Washington would “totally destroy” the North if America or its allies were threatened.

Was Trump right to double down on the war of words with North Korea? Some are worried that this will make the North Koreans even more paranoid and cause them to escalate still further. But I’m sure there are others who will say that appeasement has been tried and found wanting, and in fact has led us to this point. Maybe it’s about time some strong rhetoric, and maybe a proper show of force as we saw this week from the US, should be employed. The North Koreans certainly don’t listen to reason.

In parallel, it would seem that a similar strategy should be used against Iran. They have pocketed every concession and continued on regardless, while the world looks on, only too eager to be rid of the sanctions so that they can all start to do business again.

And if Israel has to be sacrificed in the rush towards the world’s filthy lucre, they don’t seem to care one jot. Once again, Israel will have to defend itself, and in the final event it will also end up defending the world, not that the world will thank us for our efforts.

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations, Iran, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Shana Tova Umetuka – 5778

Shana Tova!

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins tonight, and lasts for 2 days, until sundown on Friday night.  This year, since Rosh Hashana falls on Thursday and Friday, we then run straight into Shabbat, giving us a 3-day festival (so I won’t be online again until Sunday at the earliest).  The Jewish year follows the lunar calendar, and the number counts the number of years since Creation. This year we will mark the beginning of 5778.

To quote from previous Rosh Hashana posts, Rosh Hashana is not marked by great parties and merry-making for the Jewish New Year is also known as the Day of Judgement, the day when all humans are held accountable before Heaven for their good deeds and bad, and their fate for the coming year is decided. A good part of the two days of the festival is spent in emotional and uplifting prayers in the synagogue where we acclaim G-d as the King of Israel and as King of the whole universe, and where we ask Him to write us in the Book of Life, which remains open until Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) in 10 days time, giving us time to repent and atone for our sins.

The holiday is marked with the blowing of the Shofar (the ram’s horn), which is meant to literally sound an alarm to wake us up from our bad ways and return us to the righteous path.

Here’s a short clip to give you an idea of what the Shofar sounds like. In the synagogue it will be sounded altogether 100 times in two sets of 30 and 4 sets of 10.

We also eat sweet foods to symbolise our wish for a sweet New Year. A classic staple at the Rosh Hashana table is the apple, which is round, symbolising the cycle of the year, dipped in honey for a sweet new year.

https://i2.wp.com/eteacherhebrew.com/sites/eteachergroup.com/files/images/95509177.jpg

Even our Challahs are baked in a round shape to symbolise the circle of life and the circle of the year. They are often extra-sweet and have raisins inside for added sweetness. Here are my very own challot freshly baked out of the oven 🙂

On the second night of Rosh Hashana it is traditional to eat a fruit from the new season. The most popular fruit is the pomegranate, because of the beauty of its shape, because it is one of the 7 species of produce native to the Land of Israel, and because it is traditionally believed that it has 613 seeds, the same as the number of mitzvot (commandments) that a Jew is commanded to keep.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/67/92/37/67923724a5b3001e4b9e6074e01652dc.jpgTheresa May, the British Prime Minister, invited dignitaries of the Jewish community to a reception to wish us all Shana Tova. She also expressed strong support for Israel:


The US President Donald Trump also wished us Shana Tova, reaffirming the unbreakable bond between the US and Israel:

Every Rosh Hashana, the Israeli Bureau of Statistics issues the latest population figures, and this year, as in every previous year, we are delighted to learn that our population has grown, now hitting 8.7 million:

Israel’s population stood at 8.743 million on the eve of the Jewish new year, up some 156,000 people from the previous year.

The population growth rate was 1.8 percent, similar to recent years, according to data published Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics to mark Rosh Hashanah.

Jews make up nearly three-quarters of the population at 6.5 million, while Israel’s almost 1.8 million Arabs make up just over one-fifth of the population. Those of other backgrounds, such as Druze, non-Arab Christians, and those not categorized as members of a religious group, make up less than 4.5% of the population, at 396,000 people.

Israel’s birth rate was 3.11 on the year, with 181,405 babies being born.

The birth rate, the highest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of mostly Western developed economies, was four times greater than the death rate, with 43,000 people dying over the last year.

I am proud to say that our family “contributed” two babies to this wonderful total. ❤

Shaked

Yonatan is shocked at the news!

The article continues:

The country also saw 27,000 people move to Israel over the last year, of whom 25,000 were new immigrants. Of the new immigrants, the highest number came from countries in the former Soviet Union, followed by France and the United States.

The CBS said Israel’s population would continue to grow in the years ahead and is expected to reach 10 million people by 2024 and 20 million by 2065.

The even better news comes at the end:

Among Israelis aged 20 years and over, 88% said they were content or very content with their lives, while only 6% said they often felt lonely.

Considering the volatile and dangerous region in which we live, this is fantastic news on all levels – the immigration rate, the birth rate, and the level of happiness. It shows that we are on the right path, that Hashem is with us, and that we are doing something right after all! Long may this continue!

And yet with the turmoil all round us in the Middle East we shall have to pray with special fervour to Hashem that He grant us a year of tranquillity and peace, and that He grant our leaders and the leaders of the free world the wisdom and the courage to act wisely and for the good of all of us.

If I have offended anyone during this past year I ask forgiveness of them and sincerely apologize.

May I wish all my family, friends, and readers worldwide שנה טובה ומתוקה – Shana Tova Umetuka.  A Happy and Sweet New Year.  May we all be blessed with a year of good health, joy, prosperity and peace.  May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

תכלה שנה וקללותיה, תחל שנה וברכותיה

Let the current year and its curses be over, let the new year and its blessings begin.

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a happy new year.

Posted in Israel news, Judaism, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Good News for the end of the year

I missed my Good News Friday post last Friday because I ran out of time before Shabbat. This Friday will be the second day of Rosh Hashana so I won’t be posting a good news installment then either. So I decided to bring you some good news today to close the year before we head into 5778.

Let’s start with a huge public relations success for Israel in London – and a great #BDSFail while we’re at it 😈  15,000 people attended the largest-ever Israeli cultural festival in Europe:

JNS.org – The largest-ever Israeli cultural event in Europe, TLV in LDN, attracted some 15,000 people to the five-day event to celebrate Israeli culture and diversity in London.

The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, the British Jewish community and the British Embassy in Israel hosted the event Sept. 7 – 11.

Some of Israel’s top female singers, including Ethiopian-Israeli Ester Rada, performed for hundreds of locals during Sunday’s celebration, under the theme “Woman in Power,” at the historic Roundhouse Music Hall in London.

“We came from Tel Aviv to bring you love,” said Rada, as she opened the evening before a soul music performance from Maximilian Blumin.

Israeli-Arab singer Mira Awad also performed and sang in English, Hebrew and Arabic, with Yemenite-Israeli trio A-WA concluding the three-hour show with their performance.

The festival saw some 15,000 Londoners revel in Israeli culture, fashion and cuisine. Locals enjoyed culinary workshops provided by Israeli master chefs, as well as performances from an eclectic group of 120 Israeli vocalists, and an LGBT party over the weekend.

The haters can’t help hating – but they were overcome by Israeli desserts! 😀

The festival encountered some opposition, and saw some anti-Israel BDS protestors demonstrate at the event. An unusual scene unfolded when Israeli Chef Shaul Ben Aderet handed out sweets to the protestors, which had originally been prepared for festival attendees.

Watch the pathetic protestors who are only worried that the desserts are Israeli, heaven forbid!

 

The importance of this festival should not be understated:

“Recently, thousands of Londoners have had the chance to experience Israeli culture, something which we can and should be proud of, especially in places where individuals try to portray in a bad light,” said Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan, who initiated the festival in collaboration with the British Jewish community.

Kol hakavod to all the organizers of this wonderful festival, from Minister Gilad Erdan to the British Jewish community. May we see many more of these joyful festivals in the year to come.

One country, or rather one nation with (hopefully) a country in the making, is the Kurds, and their support for Israel is extraordinary. This is a sign of respect and thanks for the support that they receive from Israel for their desire for a country of their own. We have just seen the amazing spectacle of Israeli flags flying at Kurdish independence rallies: as Seth Franzman reports in the JPost:

In recent weeks Israel flags appeared frequently among the sea of Kurdish flags at pro-independence rallies across Europe and in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. In Cologne in late August and then Geneva and Oslo, Israel flags were waved proudly by attendees. On September 16 the blue and white appeared at rallies in Brussels, Hamburg and Stockholm. The unprecedented embrace of the Israeli flag comes amidst Israel’s support for Kurdish rights and historic connections between the two nations.

The rallies are in response to an independence referendum planned by the Kurdistan Regional Government for September 25. Announced in June, the Kurdistan parliament in the autonomous region in northern Iraq approved it on September 15. Since September 5 the Kurdistan region and diaspora communities have been holding increasingly large rallies in support of the nation’s hopes for independence. This has been more than 100 years in the making, say many Kurds. The Kurdish people live in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq, divided by the colonial borders set down after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. In Iraq they have enjoyed autonomy since the 1990s. After three years of war against ISIS the local government thinks it is time to show the world that the people want independence.

The international community’s response has been tepid. On September 15 the White House released a statement saying the United States does not support the intention to hold a referendum. Other members of the international coalition fighting ISIS, who have been working with the Kurds and the Iraqi government, have also pressured the KRG to postpone. Israel is the only country to openly back Kurdish aspirations. “Israel supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on September 13. Speaking at the ICT’s World Counter-Terrorism summit on September 11, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said, “Israel and countries in the West have a major interest in the establishment of the state of Kurdistan.”

While Israeli flags never appear in the Middle East unless they are being desecrated, Israeli flags are often also banned from rallies in Europe because they are seen as inflammatory:

Even across Europe and the West, Israeli flags are often a point of controversy, banned from events or the recipient of ire at anti-Israel protests.

Yet the Kurds have no problem with Israel. On the contrary they appreciate our support.

As the referendum date nears, there is a growing presence of Israeli flags and a feeling that the West has not stood by Kurdish democratic desires and demands for the same freedoms and referendums that have been held in Western states such as the Scottish referendum or Brexit. So far the flags have not engendered much controversy. Historically in Arab nationalist circles, Kurdistan was accused of being a “second Israel.” Ofra Bengio noted in a 2014 article for Middle East Quarterly that as early as 1966 Iraqi defense minister Abd al-Aziz al-Uqayli used this accusation. Given the long history of accusations against Kurds, it seems the visibility of the Israeli flag represents the maturation of decades of cultivation of this unique relationship.

The fear is that trouble will erupt after they hold their independence referendum, which looks likely to pass. Let us all support the Kurds and their demand for independence. They are a much more worthy nation to have a state of their own than any of our neighbours, in particular the invented Palestinian nation. I wish them luck and success in their endeavour.

Changing the subject completely now, here is a wonderful, heart-warming story of generosity and kindness of spirit. In “a Bat Mitzvah from the heart” we read about a young American girl who preferred giving to the elderly rather than enjoying an opulent party for herself:

When Eva was 3-years-old, she took the cookie given to her at nursery school and broke it in half to share with her grandfather, who had brought her to school that day. “You didn’t get one,” she said. “Let’s make sure you have one.”

Since then, Eva has blossomed — and so has her love for seniors. In her New Jersey hometown, she spends much of her free time in local nursing homes and assisted living facilities, listening to the life stories of the senior residents. Eva seems to revel in their histories, their anecdotes, and their mere presence, says her mom, Heather. “Ever since a class trip to a senior center about four years ago, Eva has really connected with members of the older generation,” continues Heather, “so we help her foster that connection by maintaining the relationships.”

When the time came to plan her bat mitzvah, Eva forwent an opulent dance party with her friends, opting instead for a chesed-based, inclusive celebration with seniors… in Israel.

Eva’s family was apprehensive, at first, by the logistics of such an event: where would be the best place, how many people could they involve, and what kind of activity would work for the seniors? Then they thought of Melabev, a day center for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and where Eva’s great grandmother had been a client for many years.

Recalling one of the famous Paint Nights Eva and Heather attended as the craze swept America, and the fun they had that evening, Eva suggested it as her bat mitzvah activity. But would they find it in Israel?

One of the seniors enjoying the Paint Party at Eva’s Bat Mitzvah

The answer was a resounding YES! Heather found Nina, the owner of Paint Party Events Israel, and together with Dvora and Nina, Eva’s family hosted an inspiring, magical simcha for nearly 50 seniors.

The bat mitzvah started out with a sing-along for the group with more advanced dementia. “Most can’t speak, but their eyes lit up. New people, and especially kids, are an attraction around here,” Dvora explains.

Nancy, the activity manager for the group with more advanced dementia and a 13-year Melabev veteran, added, “Music is very therapeutic for our clients. It uses a different part of the brain than the part that forms words; the part that has deteriorated. People who have lost their capability to communicate via words can still sing a song; they often remember every single word, even if they’re normally non-verbal. And my seniors love to sing!” Eva’s grandmother played keyboard and everybody belted out melodies — from old-school Israeli folk to “You Are My Sunshine”. She even took requests! Afterwards, all the seniors with verbal skills gave a bracha to Eva.

“Everyone felt magnetic. Energized,” described Dvora. “They felt honored to be included. To be respected.”

The paint party followed, with both the beginning stage and middle-stage dementia groups, and succeeded beyond expectations. “It was remarkable,” declared Dvora. “There were people who never participate in art, who participated in this! Something about being part of a simcha, something about the youth being here. It looked like a party, it felt like a party, it was a party.”

Eva approached every single member of the party individually. They each gave her a bracha and she said something about them and their painting.

It was a powerful experience. Dvora explains, “When the younger generation not only acknowledges but also respects and includes the elderly in their life and their simcha, it generates tremendous joy and a real feeling of I’m still somebody.

“Our clients, at this event, were recognized. They were full fledged participants in the bat mitzvah. The simcha came to them. They were honored.”

Dvora continues, “The most telling result is that all these seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia… the were moved. It made an impression. They remember a special event with a special girl. They remember a feeling. They don’t remember her name or the balloons, but we couldn’t believe that they all retained an impression. There is a cognizance locked in there about it, and we are so proud of Eva for fostering that. We are grateful.”

This story has brought tears to my eyes. Eva is such a special girl, I wish we knew her full name so that we could thank her properly. Her act of chesed – loving-kindness – is extraordinary in one so young, and even in people of a more mature age. She is a shining example to all of us and a credit to her parents and her community. Kol hakavod too to Melabev and PaintPartyEvents who joined together with Eva and her family to make this wonderful party happen.

!מי כעמך ישראל – who is like unto Your people Israel!

And one more item on the subject of support in the community: The town of Karnei Shomron adopted a young couple from Brazil with no family, and with no means to make a wedding. The children of the town held craft and fun fairs to raise money, and the yeshiva boys made sure it was a joyous occasion. The local council provided the setting in their beautiful park, and the wedding took place this week:

Karnei Shomron’s mayor Igal Lahav wrote on his Facebook page (my translation):

The youngsters took upon themselves a task before Rosh Hashana to assist a young couple, new immigrants from Brazil.

Within a month the production was organized. The celebration is taking place now at Hapisga Park, with the help of the Karnei Shomron chapter of Bnei Akiva, dozens of youngsters and with the help of the local council.

Mazal tov and to the young couple and wishing a successful start to their new life. And to the youth – you are amazing, with a huge heart … and thank you for the privilege of being able to participate.

I echo Mayor Lahav’s congratulations to the young couple. May their lives be filled with joy and success. And I also echo his warm appreciation to the youngsters of Karnei Shomron – of whom I am proud to count my grandchildren, who eagerly took part in the fundraisers and joyfully attended the wedding yesterday. You can see one of them in one of the pictures 😉

Kol hakavod to every one who had a part to play in this important mitzvah.

May the coming year be filled with many more such celebrations!

For the moment I wish you all a continued good week. Stay tuned for my Shana Tova post tomorrow. 🙂

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, International relations, Israel news, Mideast news, Slice of Israeli life, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Rogue’s Gallery at the UN Human Rights Council

In the unlikely event that we might have forgotten what the UN is really about (hint: it is not all sweetness and light, or democracy and peace), here is UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer to remind us, as he reports on last week’s Human Rights Wrongs Council debating imposing sanctions on dictatorships. The panel of course was populated by a rogue’s gallery of dictators:

Even within the rogues’ gallery that is the U.N. human rights Council, today’s council panel attacking Western democracies for imposing sanctions on dictatorships was the mother of all rogues’ galleries.

The panelists:

1. Lead panelist was UN expert Idriss Jazairy, who described Putin’s Russia as a human rights victim. Coincidentally, as UN Watch revealed today, Jazairy received $50,000 from the Russian government. As Algerian ambassador to UN, he once said “antisemitism targets Arabs.”

2. Alena Douhan, a Belarus academic with a soft spot for Russia, whose doctorate was on the principle of “non-interference” in countries’ “internal affairs.”

3. Alfred de Zayas, the Cuban-appointed expert for a “democratic and equitable international order.” Zayas has defended Iran’s right to nuclear weapons, and writes books claiming Germany suffered a “genocide” in 1945. Zayas is a hero to Holocaust deniers.

4. Jean Ziegler, co-founder & 2002 recipient of the Qaddafi Human Rights Prize. In his presentation, Ziegler actually defended the murderous Maduro regime of Venezuela, which he said was being victimized by a U.S. “economic war.”

5. Panel Chair: the ambassador of Venezuela’s Maduro regime, Jorge Romero. He effusively thanked Ziegler for his kind words.

6. Peggy Hicks, a top official in the office of UN high commissioner Zeid, delivered the opening statement. A former Human Rights Watch official, we hoped she would provide a dissenting voice. Instead, she echoed the same line. And when Ziegler spouted pro-Maduro propaganda, Hicks was silent.

Welcome to the U.N. human rights council.

Watch the video:

 

UN Watch was also busy with Venezuelan opposition figures who held a panel objecting to the plenary address by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister at the Human Rights Council:

GENEVA, Sept. 11, 2017 – Venezuelan opposition figures, family members of political prisoners, and human rights activists gathered today at the 47-nation U.N. human rights council to refute the plenary address by foreign minister Jorge Arreaza.

Venezuelan opposition figures, family members of political prisoners, and human rights activists protest the plenary address of the Venezuelan FM at the Human Rights Council

UN Watch, the Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group, together with Venezuela por Iniciative, organized a panel of leading Venezuelan voices, at a side event held below the human rights council chamber, to represent the views of the pro-democracy opposition.

UN Watch has submitted a draft resolution (en español) calling or the suspension of Venezuela from the UNHRC, which has been published as an official UN document.  Executive director Hillel Neuer urged member states, especially Peru on behalf of the Lima Group, to adopt a resolution.

Diego Arria, the former Venezuelan ambassador to the UN and Security Council president, called for the dictator Nicolas Maduro to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. Click here for Arria speech | En Español

Julieta Lopez, aunt of pro-democracy leader and political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez. Click for speech.

Rosaura Valentini, wife of political prisoner Yon Goiechocheca, said people are completely dehumanized. Child mortality declined to 1950s figures. Elderly die for lack of essential drugs. There is widepsread malnutrition. Mayors have been taken prisoner, despite having been chosen by the vote of the people. Violinist playing music was also taken as a prisoner. Hundreds of protesters are taken as prisoners. Click here for UNHRC plenary speech.

Unfortunately it appears that UN Watch’s appeal to bar the Venezuelan Foreign Minister has fallen on deaf ears at the UN HRC. Sadly that was unsurprising. Our expectations from that rogues gallery of villains could hardly sink any lower.

Nevertheless Hillel Neuer and UN Watch have to be commended for their unstinting work in pursuing dictators and tyrants at the UN, showcasing their bias and hypocrisy for all the world to see.

Posted in Incitement, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shabbat Shalom

No time for a Good News Friday post this week so I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in Israel news | 2 Comments