Good News Friday

It’s been a crazy (but enjoyable) couple of weeks with the birth of our new grandson, the “Sholom Zochor” (a Friday night reception) to welcome him, the brit (circumcision) – the baby is called Akiva Menachem ♥ – and then going straight into Shabbat and Shavuot. So it’s kind of a relief to get back to what counts for “normal programming” and present you with a Good News Friday installment.

My first two items are connected to French Muslims, of all things!

A French Imam, accompanied by other Muslim leaders, recently arrived in Israel, and visited the Barkan Industrial Zone in Samaria, where he blasted BDS and said that dialogue was the only way forward:

Dozens of Muslim leaders, led by Iman Hassan Shalghoumi, head of the Imams Conference in France, visited the Barkan industrial zone in Samaria on Friday.

Imam Hassan Shalghumi, Yossi Dagan and Sheikh Abu Khalil Tamimi. Credit: Roi Hadi

The extraordinary delegation met with Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Sheikh Abu Khalil Tamimi of Ramallah, as part of the international hasbara (public relations efforts) activities of the Samaria Council and the Elant organization in France.

Imam Hassan Shalghoumi of France, known for his pro-Israel views, spoke about the visit to the factories in Barkan which employ both Jews and Arabs. “We saw a company in which Israelis and Palestinians work together. I salute them. I support the policy of the head of the Samaria Regional Council to expand and deepen the dialogue. Let us pray that there will be more people, mothers, sisters – that no mother will cry – neither Israeli nor Palestinian. ”

Next to Shalghoumi sat Yael Shevach whose husband, Rabbi Raziel, was murdered in a shooting attack in Samaria in January 2018. “To my right is a woman who lost her husband a year ago, left alone with six orphans. Which right allows you to take a life? The Torah of Moshe forbids murder. And also for us, the Muslims, murder is a horrible sin. The greatest sin is to take a life. The solution is dialogue.”

“There will soon be an international peace conference (the Bahrain conference) and there are those who refuse to go. I think it’s wrong – one should always go and engage in dialogue. Sit around the same table even if you disagree – dialogue can save us.” Shalghoumi also mentioned the activity of the BDS in France, saying that it contradicts the laws of the Koran.

Sheikh Tamimi of Ramallah said that “every problem can be solved through negotiation and dialogue and with good relations with each other. Spreading hatred is not the way of Islam. We all live together and we can understand each other through dialogue. God willing, the future will be better for us and for our children.”

“We believe that the true path of peace starts first and foremost through mutual peace, and not through the terror of the Palestinian Authority,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan told the Muslim delegation. “We do not believe in peace on paper and through apathetic politicians, but in creating mutual respect and relations that begin from below, from economic development and cooperation.”

Benjamin Touati, the deputy director of the ELNET organization, spoke about the decision to bring the Muslim delegation to visit Samaria. “What’s important to us is to show people the real reality on the ground, so that they will not only be fed by what they were told in the mosques and the media. It was a very powerful and important tour. The Muslim leaders were surprised to discover that people living in Judea and Samaria live a completely normal life. As far as we are concerned, these people are becoming ambassadors of peace in the Muslim community in Europe.”

What a fantastic initiative by the ELNET organization! Kol hakavod to the organizers on the Israeli side, but greatest kudos go to the Muslim leaders, from both France and Ramallah, who broke with convention and courageously took the path of dialogue in order to bring peace between Jews and Muslims a little closer, even daring to meet with those much-demonised “settlers”   who Let us hope there will be many more meetings like this, and maybe attitudes on the ground will change.

Moving now to the world of Israel’s biomedical industry, which I have not written about for a while, there is amazing news from Sheba Medical Center where a researcher has discovered a potential treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer:

“In the history of oncology, there have been only two or three studies that have shown some benefits for pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Raanan Berger, head of Oncology for Sheba Medical Center, the country’s largest hospital, located in the Tel HaShomer neighborhood of Ramat Gan. “This is a very rare breakthrough.”

Pancreatic cancer is … the 4th leading cause of cancer death, and less than 3% of patients with metastatic disease survive longer than five years after diagnosis.

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Dr. Talia Golan, head of the Pancreatic Cancer Center at Sheba Medical Center in Israel. Photo: courtesy

The research was conducted by Dr. Talia Golan, the head of Sheba’s Pancreatic Cancer Center. Specifically, her research centered on evaluating the safety and testing the efficacy of a new drug treatment regimen known as POLO in order to treat a specific type of metastatic pancreatic cancer in carriers of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutation, which runs largely in Ashkenazi Jews and typically makes these individuals susceptible to breast and ovarian cancers.

“The POLO trial using the medicine Lynparza offers potential hope for those who suffer from metastatic pancreatic cancer and have a BRCA mutation,” Dr. Golan said.

Lynparza is also known as olaparib.

“This treatment also exemplifies the advent of ‘precision medicine’ based on a specific genetic biomarker, BRCA 1 and 2,” she said.

Berger told The Jerusalem Post that the study is the next phase of an earlier study done by Sheba in 2015 that showed that olaparib, a pharmacological inhibitor of the enzyme poly ADP ribose polymerase, show benefits for patients with different cancer types harboring mutations from BRCA 1 and BRCA 2.

Specifically, patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma harboring these BRAC mutations showed promising results in this prior study.

“Based on that experiment and some similar ones, this new study for pancreatic cancer was initiated,” Berger said.

….

Berger said the results show that those patients from around the world who received the treatment – a round of chemotherapy and then several treatments with olaparib – did much better than those who did not receive the drug in terms of response, time to progression and quality of life.

The implications of this research are enormous! What a huge potential to save thousands of lives every year! Kol hakavod to Dr. Talia Golan and the research team at Sheba Medical Center. May they go on to ever greater success!

One final item for today, and it’s one that is so typically Israeli and is sure to bring a smile to your face – a story about an immigrant absorption center that has become almost a matchmaking service for its residents. 🙂

Ulpan Etzion, the absorption center of the Jewish Agency, is popular among young immigrants to Israel, but for a different reason than you may have thought. On Thursday of this week, another semester of Ulpan Etzion ended, during which 216 young immigrants from 40 different countries studied together. During the course of the semester, a total of 32 immigrants, who met each other for the first time at Ulpan Etzion paired off into 16 couples, according to a Ynet report on Friday.

“It was worth coming to Israel to find love here,” Dana Rubel, a social worker from New Jersey, told Ynet. Rubel met her fiancée, Eitan Amzalag, a lawyer who immigrated from France, at Ulpan Etzion. Dana and Eitan became engaged three weeks after meeting each other and are currently planning their wedding which will take place in October in Jerusalem. “It was love at first sight,” Dana said. “We both love each other very much, love Jerusalem where we met and love Israel.”

Argentinian economist Yechezkel and English psychologist Laura also met at Ulpan Etzion. “We met in the first week of school and we’ve been together since,” they told Ynet. “Now that we finished our studies in the ulpan, we’re moving to the same neighborhood in Tel Aviv, where we’ll continue to be a couple.”

“Sometimes I feel like a matchmaker,” director of Ulpan Etzion Ziva Avrahami said to Ynet. “I attend the weddings of ulpan graduates who immigrated to Israel from different parts of the world and met here by us. I feel like I’m a family member from the groom’s side as well as the bride’s side. It’s a great privilege to run an absorption center where every morning you feel a sense of mission and have an opportunity to engage in meaningful work.”

I think that is the most wonderful bonus to receive from your work: not only job satisfaction but the added value of bringing happiness to other people. What more could anyone want?

Heartiest mazal tov to all the new couples, and may the next batch of immigrants produce even more happy marriages!

On this happy note I wish you all a quiet peaceful and safe weekend. Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Posted in Family, International relations, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The insane lunacy of the anti-Zionist Left

In their zeal to avoid accepting any kind of Zionism ever, anywhere, any time or any place, the anti-Zionists (yeah, lets call them antisemites for short) are turning themselves inside out and devouring their own in their desperate attempt to not only deny any legitimacy to Zionism, but to avoid even minimal contact with Zionists so as not to be “contaminated” by them. Sounds like classic antisemitism? It is exactly that, in a new dressing.

A classic example of this lunacy was demonstrated just this past week. First look at this amazing post by Joseph Cohen of the Israel Advocacy Movement, about the person he met at the Al Quds March in London two weeks ago:

The woman he met, Zena Abdullatif, herself posted about the meeting on her Facebook page:

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And then the trouble began.

The reaction of the Jews and Israel supporters? “What a great meeting!”. “Nice surprise!”. In short, the Jews and their supporters approved of this civilised meeting between a British Palestinian and a British Jew, and the fact they could talk to each other in a polite and unthreatening manner despite not agreeing with each others’ positions.

The reaction of the Palestinian supporters however? Terrifying, especially for Zina, the brave lady who talked to Joseph Cohen. David Collier wrote about the initial blowback that Zena received from her erstwhile supporters, which entailed severe condemnation for her having the gall to speak to a Zionist. As if just speaking to a Zionist contaminates her for life:

What happens when an anti-Israel activist takes a leap of faith and opens a positive dialogue with a Zionist? Well – here is one story.

Seeing a ‘Zionist’ as anything other than the ‘devil’ is anathema to the anti-Israel movement. Zena had made a mistake, she had painted a ‘Zionist’ as human and then publicly shared this with her friends. In their eyes she may as well have become an IDF soldier. The response to her Facebook post was swift and vicious. One of the first to comment was Kevin Stead:

But much of the attack focused on Zina. She was told she was stupid, easily manipulated and what she was saying would ‘disgust’ and ‘shame’ real activists. ‘Brainwashed’ was a word floated around a lot and she was openly ridiculed. Dozens and dozens of posts calling her out. Eventually, battered and bruised, Zina opened another post trying to explain herself – and the attacks continued there. Several of those who were attacking her are known to me through my research into antisemitism. Some of the messages directly contained pure antisemitism – like this ‘star of satanism’ post:

What was visible on Facebook is of course only part of the story. It was clear that Zina was receiving private messages too. Only she knows how many. Her response on Facebook began as defiant, but little by little she was worn down by some of the hundreds of negative responses she received. She deleted the original post and the others where she had stood defiant. There was partial retraction, talk about ‘making mistakes’ and eventually she broke.

The truth is that I do not know a single Zionist, that would attack me for opening dialogue with the ‘other side’. Building bridges, having dialogue is a central part of our ideology. If you are telling the truth, if you are on the side of ‘right’, then speaking about it with those who disagree with you is always going to be a basic part of your strategy. The only ones who are afraid of talking are those who have an ideology built on shaky pillars.

Zina’s crime was that she spoke to a Zionist. She didn’t agree with him, she held her ground and did no more than see positive in the dialogue itself. For one brief moment she showed the courage to question and for anti-Israel activism this is an unspeakable crime. Any attempt by ‘our side’ to reach out to her, will be seen as a further attempt to brainwash. The only change can come from within and all dissent is instantly silenced.

How on earth is it possible to build bridges with such a twisted ideology of blind hate? The answer of course is that it isn’t possible. Zina and people like her are locked inside the bubble unable to get out. The mid-way point does not exist. They are caught in a pincer movement between Islamic antisemitism and western antisemitism. You either see Zionists as inhumane or you cannot stand with ‘the cause’. When courage speaks up – it is vilified. This is why even after seventy years there is no peace, nor any sign of it on the horizon.

Make no mistake. Zena is no proto-Zionist. She is a hard-core Palestine-supporter, as David Collier notes:

Zina is no half-hearted activist. She manages the ‘Palestine Issue Magazine’ on Facebook, which has over 19000 followers. The page regularly uses terms like ‘Apartheid’ and ‘Genocide’, as it pushes an ‘Electronic Intifada’ version of politics and history. Shortly before she had uploaded the positive message about Joseph, Zina had posted a ‘love this’ comment alongside a video of the Neturei Karta burning an Israeli flag. As for antisemitism, her own page is devoid of Mossad or Rothschild conspiracy. Having said that, in her world, Israel is a racist endeavour and the word ‘Zionist’ is clearly a ‘curse word’.

But that pro-Palestine CV is not enough to save Zena from the hatred of the anti-Israel lunatics. In his follow-up post David Collier documents Zina’s hounding by her erstwhile “friends”, to the extent that she had to call in the police. David compiled a YouTube video based on a Facebook video in which Zena described the harrassment:

Yet more anti-Jewish hatred and lunacy was on display at the Washington “Dyke March” (how I hate that title). Just like in previous years, Jewish Pride flags were disallowed because they displayed the Magen David! How is that a sign of hate? Well, the Israeli flag has a Magen David, so a Magen David appearing anywhere at all – even on a necklace, or maybe a tombstone, or a synagogue, would be a hate symbol…. or something like that (roll eyes here).

The anti-Israel left is so insane that they cannot separate a Jewish symbol from an Israeli symbol – which in any event does not represent hatred at all. Moreover hundreds of other countries have religious symbols on their flags. Think of any Muslim country, or Switzerland or England with their crosses…. you get the picture.

Israellycool has the story:

 

The flag was not the flag of Israel, but only a flag with the Star of David, the religious symbol of Judaism. Had a Muslim dyke carried a flag with the Crescent Moon on it, do you think anyone would have dared demand it be removed (despite the fact most of the countries with that symbol on it treat gay people abominably)?

Me neither.

It’s not just the lunatic left however. The equally lunatic evil far right were caught desecrating an Israeli flag at the Detroit pride rally.

As Dave of Israellycool notes,

Jews continue to be the whipping boys and girls, even within already marginalized communities.

Another example of the insane conspiratorial way of thinking is the way presenter Adam McKola talked about Israeli star actress Gal Gadot:

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What a disgusting thing to say, all because Gal Gadot fulfilled her civic duty and served – in a non-combat role – in the IDF.  The Israel haters simply cannot help themselves and go into a Pavlovian response at the mere sound of the word “Israel”.

Thankfully today the Jewish community no longer takes these insults lying down, and protested the slander to McKola’s employer:

And all this is without mentioning the Jew-hatred that has now thoroughly infiltrated the British Labour Party, to the extent that an antisemite was elected this week to represent Peterborough in Parliament:

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Lisa Forbes with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

British Jews are protesting the election to Parliament of a candidate for the Labour party who “liked” a Facebook post saying Prime Minister Theresa May has a “Zionist Slave Masters agenda”, JTA reports.

The lawmaker, Lisa Forbes, on Thursday won a special election in the eastern English city of Peterborough, defeating a Brexit Party candidate and leaving the Conservative Party candidate far behind.

The Peterborough vote was held after the constituency’s former representative in the House of Common was jailed for lying over a speeding offence.

After Forbes was nominated the Labour candidate, it emerged that in April she had “liked” a post making the assertion about May. In 2014, she praised a post that repeated the conspiracy theory that the Mossad and CIA are behind the Islamic State terror group.

“I have enjoyed reading this thread so much,” she wrote about the 2014 post.

In a statement on Friday, the Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote the case typifies Labour’s spiraling anti-Semitism problem, which last month led the country’s foremost government watchdog on racism to initiate an official probe of Labour.

Forbes said the controversy over the “Zionist Slave Masters” was the result of a misunderstanding.

“I actually liked a video of children praying about what had happened in New Zealand and hadn’t paid much attention to the text above,” she wrote in a statement.

She did not address the 2014 post, which had no video.

“I’m really sorry. I just hope that people will understand that I don’t have a bad bone in my body towards any race of people and anti-Semitism is just something I condemn completely,” she added, according to JTA.

The incident is the latest in a series of troubling anti-Semitism involving Labour members. Dozens of Labour members who have been suspended and, in some cases, expelled from the party due to anti-Semitism over the last few years.

It’s a very strange situation that we Jews are in. On the one hand, outside of Israel, Jews are mocked, villified, harrassed and attacked. Jewish institutions everywhere need strong security including security guards, bars on windows, alarms, metal detectors, bullet-proof windows and doors and more. Yet Israel’s position in the world has never been better in the past 2,000 years! Yes, we are surrounded by murderous enemies and in international forums we are constantly attacked. And yes, we have our internal problems like any other country. But our economy is thriving, our army is strong and our population is for the most part happy and thriving.

Maybe that is the lesson that we need to learn.

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

Chag Shavuot Same’ach!

shavuot

Chag Shavuot Same’ach!

The festival of Shavuot (“Feast of Weeks” or Pentecost), beginning on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night), is the culmination of the 7 weeks (hence the name) of counting the Omer – Sefirat Ha’Omer. We are instructed by G-d (ויקרא כ”ג:ט”ו – Lev. 23:15) to count, from the 2nd day of Pesach, 7 weeks, at the end of these 7 weeks, a measurement (Omer) of first fruits (bikurim) were brought as a sacrifice to the Temple in a joyous parade.

The one-day festival also commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish People at Mt. Sinai, and we mark this by learning Torah throughout the night (or at least for part of the night), including a special text that is customarily read – the Tikun Leil Shavuot. Synagogues have all-night study sessions, as do schools, youth groups and social groups (including my own women’s group). It is a wonderful feeling to be outdoors in the middle of the night and still see groups of people going to and from their study sessions.

If you would like to learn more about Shavuot, here are some more resources: Judaism 101 and Aish.com.

On Shavuot we eat dairy foods, for various reasons, including the following possible explanations:

Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jews. Included in the Torah are the laws of kashrut (kosher dietary laws), which tell Jews what can and cannot be eaten and in which combination. For instance, dairy and meat cannot be mixed in the same meal and animals must be killed in a certain way in order to be considered kosher. Before the Torah was given the concept of kashrut did not exist. Hence, one explanation for the eating of dairy on Shavuot is that when the Jews received the Torah they did not have the tools they would need to prepare kosher meat. As a result their first meal after receiving the Torah was a dairy meal. (Mishnah Berurah 494:12; Talmud – Bechorot 6b.)

Another possible explanation has to do with Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs). Verse 4:11 says “milk and honey are under your tongue” and some have said that the Torah is like the milk in this verse. Like milk, the Torah sustains us. Hence, a dairy meal on Shavuot celebrates the nourishing quality of the Torah.

The Revelation at Sinai (when the Torah was given to the Jews) occurs directly after their Exodus from slavery in Egypt. This journey is described as one “from the misery of Egypt to a country flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:8-17). Thus, eating dairy on Shavuot commemorates the sweetness of freedom and the new life that lay before the Jewish people.

I have to admit the cheesecake is one of my favourite parts of the festival! 🙂

We also decorate our synagogues and homes with flowers and greenery to commemorate the way that Mt. Sinai burst into flower in honour of the Torah.

In the morning we read Megillat Ruth (the Book of Ruth) in the synagogue for a couple of reasons: the story takes place at harvest time; and more importantly, Ruth, an ancestor of King David, was a Moabite convert who voluntarily became a member of the Jewish nation.

On the subject of Ruth, Sivan Rahav Meir has written a beautiful post about its meaning and its relevance for today:

I was asked to speak at the Kugel High school in Holon this week about Megillat Ruth and what its message is. I looked for answers and saw that Dr. Yael Ziegler offers an explanation that is very fitting to these pre-election days:

In the Book of Ruth there are seemingly no top headlines, just simple, small everyday deeds. Ruth does acts of kindness for her mother-in-law Naomi and no one knows about it in real time. Boaz behaves kindly and generously with Ruth, and no one gives him a prize for it. Little by little, Ruth and Boaz build a new family that is based upon good middot (character traits), trust and care for others. From these little moments, a new dynasty grows, and thus, from a collection of good, non-dramatic deeds, the most dramatic thing happens: King David is born.
The Book of Ruth makes us get used to looking at reality in a deeper way, with attention to details that are seemingly marginal, yet in the end enter the world of eternity. Who cares about some foreign girl who gleans some sheaves for food? What importance does an old widow even have? Even today one can ask oneself why is it important if we did another little kind deed when no one knows about it? Who cares at all about another Mitzvah or a smile or help we give, what does it even matter? The Book of Ruth teaches us that these are indeed the most important things.

When we see the polarisation of our society and the hatred from one sector to another, we could be tempted to fall into despair. But the following story and video (which also tie in neatly as a Good News Friday item) perfectly illustrate the theme of kindness which Sivan referred to in her post above.

My translation below is followed by the original Hebrew post and the video:

Let’s assume for a moment the question of enlisting the ultra-Orthodox on the side – take half a minute and look at the video, you will see a revolution that comes without politicians, journalists, rabbis or charlatans. Without hatred and without barriers.

For more than a decade, Aharon Gross, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, has come out every week to pamper IDF fighters everywhere, and he comes with a group of ultra-Orthodox who open barbecues and pamper those who protect us with all our heart and generosity. On the newspapers, because they are not looking for honor, but feel a sense of mission of bringing people closer and showing gratitude towards the soldiers.

This is the desired change. The fact that the Haredim that you are used to seeing on your TV screens demonstrating against the military draft do not represent the general community. Slowly and quietly we are seeing more recruits and perhaps the most important part here – their recognition of the Israel Defense Forces. True, for the general population it’s simple common sense but only those who grew up behind those walls can understand the meaning and courage of those Haredim to reach the general sector and actually feel part of the State of Israel

בואו נניח לרגע את שאלת הגיוס של החרדים בצד – קחו חצי דקה והביטו בסרטון, תראו מהפכה שמגיעה ללא פוליטקאים, עיתונאים, רבנים או שרלטנים. בלי שנאה ובלי מחסומים.

אהרון גרוס, חרדי מבטן ומלידה, כבר למעלה מעשור יוצא מידי שבוע לפנק את לוחמי צה”ל בכל מקום. הוא מגיע עם צוות של חרדים שפותחים מנגלים ומפנקים את אלו ששומרים עלינו מכל הלב ובנדיבות, וללא כל תמורה או עזרה חיצונית. לא ראיתם אותם מרוחים על העיתונים, כי הם לא מחפשים כבוד, אלא מרגישים תחושת שליחות של קירוב לבבות והכרת הטוב לחיילים.

זה השינוי המיוחל. האימרה שחרדים שאתם רגילים לראות דרך מסכי הטלוויזיה יוצאים בהפגנות נגד גיוס, לא מייצגים את כלל הציבור. לאט לאט ובשקט אנחנו רואים יותר מתגייסים ואולי החלק החשוב כאן – הכרה בצבא ההגנה לישראל. נכון, לאוכלוסיה הכללית זה היגיון מאד פשוט, אבל רק מי שגדל מאחורי החומות, יכול להבין את המשמעות והאומץ של אותם חרדים להגיע למגזר הכללי ובעצם להרגיש שייכות וחלק במדינת ישראל.

 

Kol hakavod to Aharon Gross and his wonderful group of haredi friends who show us the beautiful side of Judaism and of Israel, and also prove to us that we shouldn’t believe everything we read in the press.

Wishing my family, friends and all of Am Yisrael Shabbat Shalom and Chag Same’ach!

!חג שמח

Posted in Israel news, Judaism, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Chag Same’ach! Yom Yerushalayim 5779 – 2019

Prayers this morning at the Kotel for Yom Yerushalayim

Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of Israel’s miraculous win over combined Arab forces in 1967, began last night (Saturday night) with festive prayer services in synagogues around the country. This year we mark the 52nd  anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, as well as the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights (and the Gaza Strip but that’s another story) in the Six Day War. The day is not a national holiday in Israel but it is marked with special ceremonies, prayers and celebrations in schools, municipalities, youth clubs, and of course throughout Jerusalem.

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Unfortunately not everyone is happy about our celebrations – specifically the Palestinian population who have been whipped up into a nationalistic and religious fervor by their political and religious leaders, and see it as an affront to even entertain the thought of Jewish visitors on the Har Habyit – the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the world for the Jews.

This year, in a marked change from previous years, and despite many challenges, the Israel Police decided to open the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors today in honour of Yom Yerusahalyim, despite the day occurring in the final days of Ramadan, which is always a very volatile period in the calendar.

Clashes erupted between Palestinian rioters and police on Sunday morning at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, as hundreds of Jews were allowed into the holy site to celebrate Jerusalem Day — the 52nd anniversary of the unification of the capital in the Six Day War.

Chairs and other objects hurled at police forces by Palestinian rioters at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound on June 2, 2019. (Israel Police)

Chairs and other objects hurled at police forces by Palestinian rioters at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound on June 2, 2019. (Israel Police)

It was the first time in three decades that non-Muslims were let into the site during the final days of the month of Ramadan, which coincided this year with Jerusalem Day. Police had earlier announced the contested compound would be closed to Jews and tourists, with the High Court of Justice rejecting a petition against the closure and leaving the final decision up to police.

Police said in a statement that “a riot began that included the hurling of stones, chairs and various objects.”

“Subsequently, Jerusalem District Commander Maj. Gen. Doron Yadid ordered police forces to enter the Temple Mount and deal with the rioters,” it added.

Palestinian reports said at least one person was detained and removed from the site.

Police said later in the morning that clashes were renewed and that hundreds of rioters threw rocks and chairs at Israeli security personnel.

Watch these “peaceful Muslim worshippers” and see how they treat what they claim as their 3rd holiest site. What an utter disgrace!! It’s not as if the Jewish visitors wanted to enter the actual mosque. All they want to do is walk around the area on the outside.

I have to say, kol hakavod to the Israel Police who for the first time in a long time did the right thing. Instead of punishing the Israelis who want to visit their holiest site on Jerusalem’s celebratory day and closing the Temple Mount to them in order to “keep the peace”, the police permitted Jewish visitors to ascend, and instead confronted and arrested the Muslim rioters. There is no reason why this shouldn’t always be the case. Appeasing violence always leads to more violence.

The ToI article continues:

Left-wing NGO Ir Amin said the violence was renewed after police closed the entrance to the Al Aqsa Mosque, and worshipers attempted to gain entry.

Hundreds of Jewish activists showed up early Sunday morning at the Temple Mount entrance, demanding access to the site — the holiest in Judaism and the third-holiest to Muslims, who refer to it as the Al Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary. Following a security assessment, police decided to let them in after suppressing the Muslim demonstration.

Meanwhile, thousands of Jews flocked Sunday to the nearby Western Wall — the holiest site where Jews are allowed to pray — to mark the occasion.

Police were deployed in force and on heightened alert in Jerusalem Sunday, with tighter security inspections performed at checkpoints connecting the city to the West Bank in light of Friday morning’s stabbing terror attack in the capital’s Old City, in which two Israeli civilians were injured — one of them seriously.

A Palestinian teenager had stabbed two Israelis inside the Old City before being shot dead by Israeli police.

The most sensitive event is expected to be a parade that will go through the streets of the Old City in the afternoon and is frequently marked by tension with local Palestinians.

Regarding the stabbing terror attack on Friday mentioned above, both victims are thank G-d improving:

The very seriously hurt victim is now breathing on his own, though he is still in serious condition:

A man seriously injured in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday is now breathing without the help of a respirator, according to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

The hospital says Gabriel Lavi’s condition has improved but he remains in intensive care.

In addition to Lavi, 16-year-old Yisrael Meir Nachumberg sustained light-to-moderate wounds in the stabbing near the Damascus Gate.

May they both have a speedy refuah shlema.

Besides the Palestinians, you know who else is angry with us? Jordan. Yes, the country that broke every rule in the international law playbook, expelled every single Jew from the Jewish Quarter in 1948 and desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of olives and blew up every single synagogue in the Jewish Quarter is condemning Israel for allowing Jews (gasp!) to visit – not to pray! – their holiest site:

Jordan is condemning the “provocative Israeli policies” at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City after clashes between police and Muslim worshipers at the holy site.

“We unequivocally condemn the continuation of Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa, by the break in of extremists [to the Temple Mount] in a defiant manner with the backing of security forces,” Jordan’s foreign ministry says in a statement, according to the Ynet news site.

The statement also warns against “the dangerous ramifications of the provocative Israeli policies, which could lead to a new escalation of violence that threatens the entire region.”

I bet you didn’t know that Chutzpah was an Arabic word.

And besides the Palestinians and Jordan? The European Union, that’s who. The very same EU which continues to pay “aid” money to the Palestinian authority who revolve it to pay salaries to terrorists or their families as a reward for killing Jews – in other words “pay for slay”. The EU don’t like that Israel is building housing in its own capital!

The European Union on Saturday criticized plans for new construction in Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhoods, saying that Israel’s policy was an “obstruction to peace.”

“The policy of settlement construction and expansion in East Jerusalem continues to undermine the possibility of a viable two state solution with Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, which is the only realistic way to achieve a just and lasting peace,” the statement read.

“The European Union is strongly opposed to Israel’s settlement policy, including in East Jerusalem, which is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace,” it continued.

Well no, dear Euros. Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state only, and will never be the capital of any Palestinian state should it come into being. and building housing – what they call settlements and we call homes for Jews – are not illegal and international law has nothing to say about it. See Eugene Kontorovich for details.

So Chutzpah is now a European word as well.

But let’s not concentrate only on the bad stuff. Today is a chag, a festival, where we rejoice for Jerusalem and in Jerusalem.

The traditional annual flag dance, in which tens of thousands of Israeli youth participate, dancing through the Old City with flags in their hands until they reach the Kotel, is under way at the moment and hopefully it will continue with no unusual incidents:

Sivan Rahav Meir, as always, has some beautiful things to say;

Three reasons to rejoice today:

First of all, we do not only celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem. We also celebrate the rescue of Tel Aviv. Those who were here during the days before the break of the Six Days War – can tell you. The whole existence of the young State of Israel was in danger in 1967. Our 19-year-old country was not only saved; it grew several times in size, and returned to the biblical areas of the Land of Israel.

Second, because of the fulfillment of the dream. Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize Laureate, once said that Jerusalem connects people to each other in a mysterious, inexplicable way. When a Jew visits it for the first time, he says that this is not his first time. It is a return home. A friend of mine, a new Olah from Ethiopia, told me years ago how every time she and her siblings saw, in their childhood in Addis Ababa, a stork flying in the sky, they used to cry to it: “Stork, stork, how is Jerusalem doing?”
Natan Sharansky once said how, when he was convicted together with his friends of treason in “Mother Russia”, they were asked by the court to sum up their defense arguments. Sharansky then said: “I have nothing to say to this court, but to the People of Israel and to my wife I say: Next year in Jerusalem”. We are living within a 2,000-year-old prophecy, that is being fulfilled.

Third and most important: We are happy today because of the enormity of the present challenge, because of the great chance we received precisely in our generation, of all generations. We won the lottery, and now, what do we do with this treasure? Our mission is to turn all this energy, all the ancient oaths and yearnings and prayers, which are thousands of years old – into something practical, to make the Heavenly Jerusalem (ירושלים של מעלה) and the Earthly Jerusalem (ירושלים של מטה) united, to make sure that this place will indeed announce an alternative culture to the whole world. We’re on our way there.

Chana Zemer, editor of the Davar newspaper (a famous secular newspaper, closed in 1996), wrote in the newspaper after the arrival of our soldiers to the Western Wall: “ובא לציון גואל. Redemption came to Zion. For two thousand years – eighty generations – the Jews turned to the East: during Shacharis, Minchah and Ma’ariv. Thousands of years have not blurred the national memory with which a Jew is born, just as he is born with all of his bodily organs. All the biblical verses are coming alive in front of our very eyes.”

People do not write like this in newspapers anymore, and yet we must not forget the great great grandparents of all of us could have never imagined that they would ever merit to pay Arnona (city tax) in Jerusalem, to be stuck in traffic jams in it and also to quarrel and argue about its character. We merited to do so.

(Photo taken by: איתן אסרף – החיים בזווית שלא הכרתם : eitan asraf)

Such deep and true words which we all need to take to heart.

Keeping in mind the huge sacrifice paid by our young nation and our courageous soldiers, here is a very moving video by Yoram Zamush who was the commander of the IDF paratroopers platoon that led the breakthrough into Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967.

It gives me the shivers to watch and to listen to those faraway sounds, which are yet so close to our collective memory.

 

Wishing Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria, who were also liberated in 1967, Chag Same’ach! We continue to enjoy your reunification and rebulding!

Posted in Defence and Military, Incitement, indigenous rights, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Good News Friday

It’s been a while since I last wrote a regular Good News Friday post, so this is a kind of return to normal programming (for the moment):

Since I’m in celebratory mood after the birth of our grandson this week, my first item is very relevant. 🙂  Recently Israeli scientists got to partying with 5,000 year old beer! (That’s some aging!):

The pottery used to produce beer in antiquity served as the basis for the new research, led by Dr. Ronen Hazan and Dr. Michael Klutstein, microbiologists from the School of Dental Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI), and Dr Yitzhak Paz from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The team examined the colonies of yeast that formed and settled in the pottery’s nano-pores. Ultimately, they were able to resurrect this yeast to create a high-quality beer that’s approximately 5,000 years old. No fooling.

Beer cruse from Tel Tzafit and Gath archaeological digs, from which Philistine beer was produced. / Yaniv Berman, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Many cooks were invited into this brewery to isolate the yeast specimens from the ancient debris and to create with it an actual beer. First, the scientists reached out to vintners at Kadma Winery, which still produces wine in clay vessels, proving that yeast may be safely removed from pottery, even if it had lain dormant in the sun for years.

The yeast was then photographed by Dr. Tziona Ben-Gedalya at the Judea Region Research and Development Center. Following her initial examination, the team reached out to archaeologists Dr. Yitzhak Paz from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAI), Professor Aren Maeir at Bar Ilan University and Professors Yuval Gadot and Oded Lipschits from Tel Aviv University.

The archaeologists provided shards of pottery that had been used as beer and mead (honey wine) jugs back in ancient times, and, quite miraculously, still contained yeast specimens. Mind you, these jugs date back to the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Narmer (roughly 3000 BCE), the Aramean King Hazael (800 BCE), and to Nehemiah (400 BCE) who governed Judea under Persian rule.

The researchers, with the help of HUJI student Tzemach Aouizerat, cleaned and sequenced the full genome of each yeast specimen and turned them over to Dr. Amir Szitenberg at the Dead Sea-Arava Science Center for analysis. Szitenberg found that these 5,000-year-old yeast cultures are similar to those used in traditional African brews, such as the Ethiopian honey wine tej, as well as modern beer yeast.

Now it was time to recreate the ancient delight. Local Israeli beer expert Itai Gutman helped the scientists brew the beer, which was sampled by Ariel University’s Dr. Elyashiv Drori, as well as by certified tasters from the International Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), under the direction of brewer and Biratenu owner Shmuel Nakai. The testers gave the beer a thumbs up, deeming it high-quality and (even more important, possibly) safe for consumption.

The team testing a sample of their own ancient brew at the lab of the Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Ronen Hazan from the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine had this to say (Hold my beer?): “The greatest wonder here is that the yeast colonies survived within the vessel for thousands of years—just waiting to be excavated and grown. This ancient yeast allowed us to create beer that lets us know what ancient Philistine and Egyptian beer tasted like. By the way, the beer isn’t bad. Aside from the gimmick of drinking beer from the time of the Pharaoh, this research is extremely important to the field of experimental archaeology—a field that seeks to reconstruct the past. Our research offers new tools to examine ancient methods, and enables us to taste the flavors of the past.”

Dr. Yitzchak Paz of Israel Antiquities Authority said: “We are talking about a real breakthrough here. This is the first time we succeeded in producing ancient alcohol from ancient yeast. In other words, from the original substances from which alcohol was produced. This has never been done before.”

Prof. Yuval Gadot, Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures said: “We dug at Ramat Rachel, the largest Persian site in the Judaean kingdom, and found a large concentration of jugs with the letters J, H, D – Yahud – written on them. In a royal site like Ramat Rachel it makes sense that alcohol would be consumed at the home of the Persian governor.”

Prof. Aren Maeir, of Bar-Ilan University’s Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology said: “These findings paint a portrait that supports the biblical image of drunken Philistines.”

Oh, don’t be so judgmental…

I’ll drink Lechaim to that! 😀

Kol hakavod to all these intrepid researchers and archeologists who set out to discover how beer was made in those early days. What an amazing achievement to recreate 5,000 year old beer!

Another reason to celebrate was provided by the Israeli team which attended the Asian Physics Olympiad – and won the gold, silver and bronze medals!

The Israeli team won three medals in the Asian Physics Olympiad – gold, silver and bronze – as well as an honorable mention in the May 5-13 event held in Australia.

Aviv Tillinger won the Gold medal and 4’th absolute place, the highest award given to an Israeli yet in this competition.

Eyal Walach won the silver medal, Eran Man won a bronze medal and Omri Ravad won an honorable mention.The other teammates were Liad Ronick, Ziv Kohn, Teddy Klaytman and Yonatan Hassoun. All are high school students currently in school.

The competition includes two five-hour-long university-level exams, one in theory and the other in how to run an experiment. The topics students are asked on include X-ray jets from massive black holes, the properties of magnetic fluids and an investigation of the components used for a quantum-computer.

Not every moment in the event was spent on science, as youth from around the world were encouraged to meet their fellows and to get to know their culture, to travel together and even attend a few parties.

Israel is meant to host the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in July 2019, the event will include members from roughly 80 countries.

What a fantastic victory for the Israeli team! Kol hakavod to all these brilliant young people who did us so proud – and of course gave great nachat to their families as well as being a huge boost for themselves.

With all this nachat and celebrations I shall sign off for Shabbat as we are off to celebrate the birth of our new grandson. The excitement is in the air as we look forward please G-d to the brit on Monday.

Wishing you all a quiet, safe, cool Shabbat. Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Israel turns into Italy – Knesset dissolves 7 weeks after the elections

Israel turned into the Middle Eastern version of Italy tonight as Binyamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition, and the Knesset voted to dissolve itself – a mere 7 weeks or so after the last elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits before a vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset on May 29, 2019, at the Knesset in Jerusalem. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

As far as I understand (and I may be wrong in which case please correct me in the comments) the coalition crisis centered around the clash between coalition wannabe Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party who made the center of their platform the demand for full conscription for the haredim (the Ultra Orthodox). The haredi parties in turn flatly refused to compromise. This resulted in both parties digging in their heels, thereby hobbling Netanyahu’s attempts to form a workable coalition.

Avigdor Liberman, leader of Yisrael Beytenu, at the Knesset session to dissolve itself

Having been given a 14 day extension by President Reuven Rivlin, both because of the coalition crisis and because of the mini-war with Hamas last month, Netanyahu could go no further.

Read all about it at the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel and Arutz Sheva.

This article in Yisrael Hayom gives a good analysis and background to the haredi conscription imbroglio:

Among key issues that have collapsed the 21st Knesset before its ministers have even been sworn in is the enlistment, or lack of, haredim serving in the military. As part of agreements established and signed at the creation of modern-day Israel between leading rabbis and the founding father and country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, strictly religious males were granted exemptions from mandatory military service so they could pursue Torah study in Jewish learning institutions.

In a country in which military enlistment for all other Jewish males (and for females) is compulsory, these exemptions unfairly distribute the burden of military service. In addition, it has become clear that these exemptions do not necessarily support serious Torah study in many cases.

So it is reasonably understandable why those forced to serve and send their children to defend the Jewish state have grown tired of these exemptions. A law passed in 2012, known as the Tal Law, further entrenched the exemptions. Yet Israel’s High Court, as it often does, ruled to overturn the legislation and has forced the government to replace it with an alternative framework to increase the number of religious conscripts.

Towards the end of the last government, a new law was proposed that would slowly increase those numbers while penalizing individuals and communities that refused to serve with steep fines and even incarceration. The law passed its first reading in the Knesset prior to the calling of early national elections. Following the polls, the religious United Torah Judaism and Shas parties emerged as the strongest parties prepared to enter Benjamin Netanyahu’s incoming governing coalition. They have demanded that the law be adjusted to further loosen the enlistment target numbers, as well as reduce the penalties for refusing to serve.

Deputy Health Minister Shlomo Litzman of the UTJ at the Knesset session

Yet during the current negotiations, the smaller Yisrael Beytenu Party led by the former defense minister and right-wing Netanyahu-rival Avigdor Lieberman has demanded that the new law be passed as is and implemented as a pre-requisite to entering the government. Unable to forge a compromise, Netanyahu is thereby unable to form a majority governing coalition. And with no other likely Knesset members able to form a governing coalition, including the Blue and White Party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, the Knesset is voting to quickly disband itself and send the country into snap elections for the second time in less than six months.

The irony of the crisis is two-fold. First, the issue of religious enlistment, while important, is far down on the list of immediate national security and economic priorities. Second, it is the High Court’s deadline for passage of a new enlistment law that has forced the government to contend with the issue at a time when it otherwise would be more than willing to kick the can down the road.

As students of Tanach and the Talmud, strictly religious males are knowledgeable about the historical geography of the Jewish state. To them, cities like Hebron, Bethlehem and Shechem (referred to by Arabs as Nablus) have unique religious significance as the burial grounds of Jewish forefathers and foremothers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Haredi males, and the rabbis who guide them, have opted against military service for several reasons. The first is that although it is a Jewish army, the IDF is by no means a religious army. Its guiding principles and leadership do not inherently lend themselves to creating an especially religious-friendly environment.

The integration of women into the military, and particularly their roles as trainers of men in handling weapons and in national recruitment offices, creates an uncomfortable situation of immodesty for strictly religious men. In addition, army units do not facilitate daily Torah learning, while also establishing (sometimes important) exemptions from religious laws that contradict with military duties.

As such, penalizing religious males for skipping the army makes complete sense from a level of fairness, if the issue was being waged in a vacuum. Fining and/or jailing religious males from opting out of army service, however, fails to address the very reasons they are avoiding joining the army, to begin with.

https://www.ynetnews.com/PicServer3/2012/07/05/4024960/3_wa.jpg

Soldiers of the Nachal Haredi battalion complete their training course

If the government was serious about increasing the number of strictly religious conscripts, it would seek to address these issues head-on and create a better framework for service – building on the already successful concept of Nahal Haredi religious units, for example.

If the court and non-religious parties determine how and when these religious men are to serve in the military, then government crises like the one dooming Netanyahu’s barely elected government will persist as an issue well into the future.

Add to this noxious mix the political rumblings about the proposed Immunity Law, which would grant immunity from prosecution to politicians as well as a sitting prime minister – and which was intended to protect Netanyahu from the various corruption charges being leveled against him – and the coalition crisis was pretty much inevitable.

Even with the immunity law being adapted so that it won’t apply to Netanyahu himself, it was a step too far for many in the Knesset, including from within the Likud.

So here we go again. The new elections are being called for 17th September, and if anyone expects a different result to the previous one, they are probably insane – at least according to the famous truism widely attributed to Albert Einstein:

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Which is a necessary trait in order to live in this crazy country.

Posted in Israel news | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments