Israel to the rescue! Iranian blogger given asylum in Israel

A story that could have come straight out of a spy thriller has just reached its final happy conclusion as the Iranian blogger Neda Amin, who had been living in Turkey for the last 3 years, arrived safely in Israel after being threatened by the Turkish authorities with deportation back to Iran and almost certain imprisonment, if not death.

Neda Amin, a Turkey-based, Iranian-born blogger for The Times of Israel’s Persian website, arrived safely in Israel on Thursday morning, and was met at Ben-Gurion Airport by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz.

Neda Amin is welcomed by David Horovitz on her arrival in Israel

Amin was being threatened with imminent deportation by Turkey. She feared that if no other country took her in, she would be sent back to Iran, where she feared for her fate.

After The Times of Israel alerted the Israeli authorities to her plight, government officials immediately responded and paved the way for her safe arrival in Israel.

“Thank you,” said Amin, over and over when she arrived, embracing Horovitz. “You saved me.”

Horovitz thanked all of the Israeli officials who had worked to ensure her well-being. “I’m proud to live in a country that responded so instinctively to help somebody who was in danger.”

Amin has blogged regularly for The Times of Israel’s Persian site, and has done some freelance work. “She feared for her life, and her work for the Times of Israel was apparently a factor, so I felt we had an obligation to ensure her well-being, and I am very grateful to all the Israeli officials to whom I turned for assistance for providing it, immediately,” said Horovitz. The officials at the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, he stressed, were particularly helpful.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who issued the visa for her entry into the country, tweeted Thursday: “Welcome to Israel!”

Amin had appealed to the United Nations in Turkey to protect her, noting that the UN previously designated her a refugee in 2015, and had also appealed to human rights organizations and others to intervene on her behalf.

The UN Watch NGO circulated a petition on Amin’s behalf, warning that she was “in grave danger should she be deported back to Iran.”

Amin, 32, left Iran for Turkey in 2014.

David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel takes well-deserved partial credit for Neda’s safe arrival, and also credits all the Israeli authorities:

She told us — in writing, and in a few very short phone conversations — that her life was in danger. She had been questioned repeatedly by Turkish police, and had now been told that she faced being kicked out of the country. Furthermore, if no country would take her in, she said she was told, she would be sent back to Iran — where the worst could happen

She said that she was supposed to have protection from the UN, but she did not believe that this would keep her safe. She had not written against the authorities in Turkey, but it had been made clear to her that her public criticism of the Iranian regime, and her writing for an Israeli site, were not tolerable.

After gathering more of her details, I contacted a few people — Israeli and others — who I thought might be able to advise me, and to help Neda.

And they did. The readiness to help was quite remarkable. Almost nobody told me there was nothing they could do or nothing to be done.

She said she has Jewish heritage — that her late father’s mother was Jewish. I don’t know if that was a factor in the Israeli response; I tend to think not.

I don’t know which of the people I turned to played the critical roles. (And I wasn’t the only one acting on her behalf: The NGO UN Watch started a petition for her, and the Jerusalem Journalists Association wrote directly to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.) What I do know is that very soon after I shared the details of Neda’s case, the Israeli authorities wheeled into action. Whatever checks needed to be made were evidently made. Whatever decisions needed to be taken were evidently taken.

She also contacted the Israeli authorities, and made a plea that she be allowed to come here.

Neda speaks a little English. It was enough for her to say to me, on the phone, “Mr. Horovitz, please save me.”

After gathering more of her details, I contacted a few people — Israeli and others — who I thought might be able to advise me, and to help Neda.

And they did.  The readiness to help was quite remarkable. Almost nobody told me there was nothing they could do or nothing to be done.

At the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Consul-General Shai Cohen and Yaffa Olivitski, who handles consular affairs, established contact with Neda, and went far out of their way to help. Paperwork was organized. And I was told that Neda was going to be allowed to fly to Israel, with an appropriate visa.

I had felt that since Israel in general, and The Times of Israel in particular, was a factor in her life being in danger, we had an obligation to try to ensure that no harm came to her. The State of Israel clearly felt the same.

Her departure was not entirely smooth. When she was first due to fly to Tel Aviv, and went to the airport, it turned out that she was missing a form that needed to be issued by Turkish police. She wasn’t allowed to fly without it. Unfortunately, her mobile phone was out of power at this point, and she wasn’t able to update us. She was off the radar for a few hours, and somebody somewhere put two and two together to make five, and leaked word to the Hebrew media that she had been arrested.

She hadn’t. And she wasn’t. And two days later — in the early hours of Thursday — she returned to the airport, form in hand, and was able to board her flight to Tel Aviv. With her dog, I might add — a 27-kilo German Shepherd named Chica who is the love of her life.

By her telling, the past year and a half has been difficult to terrifying. She says she was called in for questioning by Turkish security authorities no fewer than six times, accused of being a spy, offered large sums of money to work for them, threatened with deportation to Iran.

At one session, she asked them, “Is it illegal to write for Israeli media?” No, she was told. “So why all the investigations?” Because, came the answer, “We don’t like working with Israel, and we don’t like you working with Israel.”

Turkey’s behaviour is absolutely outrageous, though their record against journalists is dismal to put it mildly. This was an anti-Israel, even antisemitic, move from Turkey, and the matter should be taken up by Israel in the UN and other international agencies as a matter of urgency.

… She was told she would face deportation on or after August 5, and was fighting that order in the Turkish courts when Israel opened its doors to her.

David Horovitz expresses the feelings of all Israelis when he says:

But as a journalist who is frequently critical of much that is done here, who worries about many aspects of where this country is headed, I feel rather proud of the State of Israel today.

So do we all! Kol hakavod Mr. Horovitz for the part you played in Neda’s rescue, as well as to UN Watch  and all the Israeli ministries who pulled together and produced a near-miracle.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat HaDin

Now compare this brave lady, who risked her life and defied hostile authorities to tell the truth, with a Palestinian who lives in the lap of luxury yet slanders Israel day in and day out. I’m talking about chief Palestinian negotiator (though what he negotiates is anyone’s guess) Saeb Erekat, who is now in the queue for a lung transplant. This is the man who slanderously accused Israel of harvesting organs from Palestinians for transplants. Now, in an act of staggering hypocrisy, he wants an Israeli lung to be “harvested” for his own personal use.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the counter-terror NGO Shurat HaDin, has filed a request with the Israeli authorities asking that Erekat, who is not an Israeli citizen, be taken off the waiting list:

Nitzana Darshan Leitner, chair of Shurat Din, wrote: “It is inconceivable that anyone who calls for to boycott the State of Israel, initiates propaganda for sanctions against it, and leads the BDS movement to isolate and harm the State of Israel, now seeks the assistance of that same State of Israel when he needs it. Those who choose to boycott the State of Israel have enough self-respect to boycott all the services of the State of Israel.”

The letter brought further reassurances from heath authorities that Mr Erekat is not poised to receive a donor lung, but Avi Guez, lawyer for Shurat Hadin, still has “concerns” that Mr Erekat could end up getting special provisions.

As Darshan-Leitner wrote in her Times of Israel blog (ironically the same blogging platform as the couragous Neda Amin):

If israeli doctors are going to perform any procedures on Erekat, perhaps let them implant a sense of decency, honesty and self-respect as well.

Posted in Blogging, Incitement, Iran, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Note to Jackie Walker: What a lynching really looks like

As mentioned in my previous post, Labour’s Jackie Walker is trying to claim victimhood because she is being “lynched” by the Jewish community who are trying to silence her. She has a funny way of showing her fear. She seems triumphant in her victimhood. “See what a sad victim I am! See how they are silencing me!” – when of course nothing could be further from the truth. She has the full run of the airwaves and social media, and a platform (literally) at a world famous theater festival.

For her information, this is what a lynching really looks like. This lynching was committed by Palestinian Arabs against Israeli motorists:


On Saturday, Arabs in the Gush Etzion region held a funeral for an Arab terrorist who was eliminated while attempting to stab an IDF soldier.

Shortly after the funeral service, dozens of local Arabs set up a makeshift roadblock on Route 60, the primary north-south traffic artery in Judea and Samaria.

Holding cement blocks, bricks, and rocks, dozens of masked terrorists inspected passing Arab vehicles for any Jewish passengers, and attacked vehicles bearing Israeli license plates.

Even an armored police jeep came under assault, and was forced to call up the IDF for backup.

One Israeli driver who ran into the roadblock before the IDF deployed soldiers to take control of the situation came under a barrage of rocks and bricks, hurled by the masked Arab terrorists.

As can be seen in footage released by Channel 2 on Monday, the Arabs spotted the driver as he made his way towards the roadblock, and formed a lynch mob, hoping to block his escape and force him out of his car.

“They smelled me a kilometer away,” said the man, a resident of Tekoa. “They had made a roadblock there, and it was impossible to pass. Right away I drew my gun and cocked it, so they would see that I was armed – but that didn’t stop them at all.”

Luckily, however, the driver was able to pass through the roadblock when the assailants ran towards his car in an attempt to surround him.

This act of attempted murder plus the fact that the Arabs checked passing cars for Jewish passengers or drivers shows that this was pure antisemitism in action. They would have made the Nazis proud.

Another, not so scary but still serious, attempted lynching took place in Poland last week when the Hapoel Petach Tikva (yay PT!) soccer team was attacked by soccer hooligans after the match. But the gutsy Israeli footballers were too much for the hooligans who fled when the Israelis fought back:

Masked soccer hooligans attacked staff traveling with an Israeli soccer team following a friendly match in Poland, slightly injuring two men, officials said.

Polish media and police said that the attack happened on Wednesday evening in Suchocin, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) northwest of Warsaw, following a friendly between Hapoel Petah Tikva and a local Polish club.

A police spokeswoman, Kinga Drezek-Zmyslowska, said police were alerted after the match about an attack on two men who had traveled with the Israeli team.

She said the attack was apparently carried out by soccer hooligans and that police were trying to identify them. It was not immediately clear what caused the incident.

The Israeli team however, suspects the attack on its staffers was intentional and premeditated. A statement posted to the team’s official page said the game took place under police guard, and was incident-free. The team said that it wasn’t until after the officer left that the dozens of Polish fans descended on the Israelis.

Security camera footage shows the brawl unfolding near the stadium following the game.

The two Israelis staffers escaped the incident with minor injures.

“An Israeli group traveling abroad are always a target,” he added.

Indeed. Israelis and Jews travelling as a group – and singly too – form a tempting target for antisemites of the left and the right. But times have changed and we no longer take these attacks lying down. Even in soccer.

Hapel won the match 2-0.

Kol Hakavod Hapoel Petach Tikva! You did us proud when you fought back against the hooligans and you brought honour and fame to Petach Tikva. 🙂

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Culture, Arts & Sports, Defence and Military | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The twisted mind of Jackie Walker

Far left antisemitic Labour activist Jackie Walker is at it again – if she ever stopped at all. She has now written a play, “The Lynching”, modestly starring herself in two roles: the “speaking part” in which she plays herself (or her mother defending her), doubling down on her antisemitic claims, and one in which she is self-pityingly hanged in effigy – her way of blaming the Jews (surprise!) for “silencing” her.

Jackie Walker’s antisemitic play

Just wrap your head round her twisted thinking, as she inverts cause and effect, as Lucy Lips from Harry’s Place elucidates:

I think that I would be quite happily accepted in any gay rights group I joined. Even though I’m married to a person of the opposite sex I think that if I was personable, though people may be slightly bemused as to why I was there, I think they’d accept me.

If I started complaining that there wasn’t any room being made in the movement for gay people who didn’t believe in say gay marriage I expect I might be viewed in a more hostile light. I think people might be interested in whether I was actually gay at all and question what I was doing in their midst. I think that if I went further and used that suspicion from people as proof of my point which I then expanded upon to include the idea that there is something insidious in the whole gay rights movement hostility to me may increase.

If I took screenshots of the inevitable comments on social media calling me out as a tourist in the gay world who hadn’t done anything except attack gay people I think that more people in the movement would see me as a negative force. Naturally all the time I’d be saying how anti-homophobia I was…it was just that I hadn’t seen a definition of the term I could work with.

But also I would be embraced by some people.

The anti gay rights people, especially those opposed to gay marriage would embrace me. I would become their icon, their proof that on the one hand not all gay people are in favour of gay marriage and on the other that there is something vindictive within the gay rights movement and that gay rights only applies to those gay people who toe the line and agree with the nefarious agenda of the gay lobby. A lobby everyone is sure exists but no one can quite pin down.

Meet Jacqueline Walker, former Vice Chair of Momentum, who’s currently suspended from the Labour Party (for the second time). She’s just hit the Edinburgh Fringe complete with a little effigy of herself hanging from a rope. all the while complaining that the Board of Deputies of British Jews tried to have her show cancelled. I wonder why they might have wanted to do that?

Walker’s one-woman antisemitic play opened to a standing ovation at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (yes, that same festival that 3 years ago expelled an Israeli theatre group for the crime of being Israeli) over the weekend:

The UK’s Jewish Chronicle reported that Walker performed her show The Lynching beneath a banner saying, “Anti-Semitism is a crime. Anti-Zionism is a duty.” The show’s title refers to what she says was unfair treatment by her opponents, which ultimately led to her suspension from the Labour party amidst accusations of antisemitism.

At one point in her performance, Walker took on the character of her own mother speaking in Walker’s defense, in which she stated, “First, she [Walker] said Jews financed the slave trade. …The Jews were coming away from persecution from the Christians. They got involved in the slave trade, but what else were they supposed to do? This is not Jackie hating Jews. You can say this is Jackie showing off, showing how well she knows her history.”

Regarding the Holocaust, Walker’s character charged that it is wrong to mark the genocide of the Jews alone, asking, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Holocaust Memorial Day could be opened to all people. What a terrible thing… People say it is open to everybody. Others say, no it doesn’t include the terrible things that went on before the Nazis, things in the Belgian Congo when they killed 12 million …none of that is in Holocaust Memorial Day.”

Walker’s character also defends Corbyn, claiming that they are both targets of “enemies” who support Israel. Corbyn, she said, “has been accused of being a Jew-hater, but when he was just an MP he was a supporter of the Palestinians and he didn’t mind saying what he thought. He called some of the nasty people in the Israeli government criminal politicians.

The Chronicle report added that during the question and answer session following the show, Walker staunchly defended her positions on both the slave trade and the Holocaust, saying, “At the moment we are being told what history we can speak about and what history we cannot speak about. We have to have a way where it is possible to write about the Holocaust, holocausts and the slave trade and race and identity where there is openness, and we haven’t got that now and I think that is very dangerous.”

She also denied that the Jews are an oppressed people, asserting, “Millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues to this day on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews, and many Jews, my ancestors too, were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade.”

This woman is a disgrace to the Labour Party and a disgrace to British politics and culture. She should not be allowed a platform anywhere, much less in an international forum. Her bigotry and charlatanism are beneath contempt.

Melanie Phillips has a great commentary on Walker’s play- “Lionising the fringe“:

What happens to someone if they’re lynched? They’re set upon by a bunch of thugs and and murdered. Do you think someone who’s been lynched will then turn up on stage in their own show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? No, neither do I.

Well here’s a strange thing then. Jackie Walker, who should have been thrown out of the Labour Party over vile remarks about Israel and the Jews but wasn’t thrown out after all, has been appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe in a one-woman show called The Lynching, complete with an effigy of herself hanging from a rope, to justify her remarks and claim that she has been the victim of, ahem, a lynching over making them.

Walker was suspended from the Labour Party last May after writing on Facebook that “many Jews were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade,” and so were implicated in perpetrating “the African holocaust” in which “millions more Africans were killed” than in the Shoah. Asking “What debt do we owe the Jews?” she implied that Jews exploited their presumed victimhood in order to perpetrate atrocities against the Palestinians.

Following an internal party investigation, Walker was rapped over the knuckles for causing offence, cleared of antisemitism, hailed as an anti-racist and readmitted to the party by the end of the month. She was then suspended again after she (wrongly) criticised Holocaust Memorial Day for not being open to all who experienced a holocaust, questioned why Jewish schools needed particular security to protect themselves from possible attack and said the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party had been greatly exaggerated. She was stripped of her role as vice-chairman of the Momentum revolutionary Labour caucus but remained a member of its committee – and of the party.

Some lynching, eh.

The key fact about Jackie Walker, however, which has merely been reinforced by her Edinburgh travesty, is that she is troublingly obsessed by Israel and the Jews. In any normal universe, such a person would be treated as a (truly) fringe wacko of repulsive views and ignored. Instead, she is lionised. At Edinburgh she received a standing ovation (ok, there were only about 30 people in the audience, but still) with a banner fixed to the front of the stage reading: “Anti-Semitism is a crime. Anti-Zionism is a duty”.

I’m glad to hear she had such a small audience. No doubt she will blame the Jews for that too. But she still should never have been given a public platform. After all, if we Jews are going to be blamed for silencing her, we might as well actually do it!

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Culture, Arts & Sports | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Good News Friday

It’s Shabbat Nachamu (The Shabbat of Consolation) after Tisha B’Av, the mourning is over, it’s the summer holidays and wedding season, and it’s time for a proper Good News Friday installment at last.

Since my last post was about BDS, I’ll start with the same. An Israeli theatre group that was expelled from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the crime of being Israeli is opening once again in Edinburgh. There is an interesting back-story to this. Read on:

Three years ago, in what was an unprecedented move an Israeli theater group was unceremoniously kicked out of one of the world’s most esteemed theater festivals.

The Jerusalem-based Incubator Theater was supposed to perform one of their plays at the festival, but BDS activists disrupted their performances. After exerting pressure on the festival’s management, the latter decided—for the first time in the festival’s 50 years—to immediately cancel the Jerusalemite group’s remaining shows.

Nigel Goodrich, a Christian Scot, looked in abject horror at the Israeli group’s removal and refused to let it pass. In response, he founded the Shalom Festival last year, hosting Israeli artists at several Edinburgh cultural venues, simultaneously with the city’s famous Festival Fringe. The festival is set to take place again next week and promises to be even bigger.

Shalom Festival program

The festival is organized by Confederation of Friends of Israel-Scotland, an organization with 17 branches administered by volunteers who believe in dialogue rather than boycotts.

The festival was funded by contributions from several private donors and will take place over three days next week (August 8-10). On offer will be music, dance and theater performances, cinema and children’s workshops, with an emphasis on Israeli-Arab cooperation in Israel.

The Incubator theater group will put on its play, “The City”, on the festival’s opening night—the very same play that was booed off stage with harsh anti-Israeli statements just three years ago.

Also performing will be actress Meskie Shibru-Sivan, recounting the tale of her Aliyah from Ethiopia, in addition to the Jamaya group, whose members play world music.

Some of the Shalom Festival’s events will be considered an official part of the Edinburgh Festival’s lineup, only this time its directors will not be able to boycott or run off Israeli performances like they did three years ago since the festival is partially funded by British taxpayers’ money. Indeed, Britain enacted a law 18 months ago forbidding boycotting Israel in any publicly-funded event.

Of course those vile boycotters, who wish not to help the Palestinians but to prevent normalization with Israel under any circumstances (even if it harms the Palestinians they profess to love), and ultimately to destroy it, can’t leave well enough alone:

Nevertheless, it seems the Shalom Festival won’t enjoy the peace advocated in its name, as BDS activists have already announced their intention to once again demonstrate, sabotage and torpedo any and all Israeli performances. Consequently, the festival’s management is undertaking many security precautions to prepare for such an eventuality.

But this is not deterring the organizers:

None of this has discouraged the organizers of the Shalom Festival however. Nigel Goodrich, the festival’s director, said: “When the festival is over I’ll be able to say I did the right thing by Israel, the Jewish people and freedom of artistic expression.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also gave her blessing for holding the festival.

A hearty kol hakavod and huge kudos to Nigel Goodrich for having the courage of his convictions to found an alternate festival – which looks like it will be at least as successful as the Fringe Festival. Good luck to all the actors, directors and organizers! Don’t let the haters get you down.

Moving now to Israel’s biomedical sector, a Hebrew University scientist has helped develop a technology that could reduce the need for animal testing for new drugs:

After spending an average of $2.5 billion to develop a single new drug, sometimes pharma companies have to pull it from the market due to a bad outcome that was not detected in clinical studies.

That’s what happened in 2000, when a promising Type 2 diabetes drug called troglitazone led to unexplained liver damage in one of every 60,000 users.

The troglitazone mystery wasn’t solved until March 2016, when a novel “liver-on-a-chip” platform developed by Hebrew University of Jerusalem Prof. Yaakov Nahmias revealed what no animal or human tests could: even low concentrations of this drug caused liver stress before any damage could be seen.

Prof. Yakov Nahmias

“It was the first time an organ-on-chip device could predict information to help pharmaceutical companies define risk for [unexplained] toxicity,” Nahmias tells ISRAEL21c.

Shortly before that study, Nahmias’ liver-on-a-chip had revealed a new mechanism for Tylenol poisoning.

He licensed the technology from the university and spun off Tissue Dynamics to provide toxicology analysis of drugs and cosmetics.

L’Oréal was Tissue Dynamics’ first customer in October 2016. Major brands such as Unilever are expected to follow suit as they seek alternative models to evaluate new products now that European laws prohibit cosmetics makers from animal testing.

Tissue Dynamics’ liver-on-a-chip – as well as heart and brain chips coming soon – could greatly reduce the number of animal tests, the amount of time for drug evaluation and the astronomical cost of drug development. Not to mention the billions that pharma companies pay in damages when a drug proves harmful.

In 2018, the company expects to offer chips simulating a pumping human heart and a human brain that has functional neurons embedded with vasculature.

“Our goal is to have these three major organs, which are the target of a lot of drugs. In 2019 we will complete a large facility for manufacturing the chips,” Nahmias tells ISRAEL21c. “There is a lot of interest.”

Since that initial liver-on-a-chip was built in 2015, his lab has increased capacity and added more sensors and optimized controls. A complete metabolic analysis of a drug molecule that used to take about three months now takes about a week.

This is a fascinating and revolutionary development. It has enormous positive implications both for those who care about the well-being of animals but more importantly, for the more accurate testing for humans. Kol hakavod to Prof. Nahmias on his brilliant invention.

On a similar subject, Weizmann Institute researchers have discovered a cell that could help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease:

Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have discovered a new type of brain cell that could lead to the future treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

The research group has discovered a new subset of microglial cells, which are the brain’s immune cells. The new cells, which they called disease-associated microglia (DAM), are not found in the brains of healthy mice, and are correlated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Not only this, the scientists were also able to identify the specific proteins that cause the development of DAM cells.

The group used a “genetic microscope” – which was recently developed in the lab of co-head researcher Prof. Ido Amit – to analyze the immune cells in the brains of a mouse model that was engineered to have human genes with Alzheimer’s disease.

Importantly, the scientists were able to identify several proteins that caused disease-associated microglia cells to develop. Normally, microglial cells have a specific composition of proteins that allows them to function properly. This includes regulatory proteins that restrain microglia activity in the brain, and proteins such as TREM2, which recognizes the accumulation of fat-like molecules and dead cells. When the protein composition changes (due to mutations, or changes in quantity), the microglia cells transition into DAM cells.

In other words, mutations or changes in certain proteins, which usually occur due to genetic or environmental failures, cause early and dramatic onsets of Alzheimer’s disease.

The potential for therapy

“This is a completely new concept in comprehending Alzheimer’s disease…, the insight that microglial checkpoints, which are imperative for normal function, become an obstacle in the diseased brain,” Amit said in a statement.

If scientists can figure out how to prevent the proteins from mutating, or identify proteins that stop DAM cells from developing, it will have significant potential for Alzheimer therapy.

This potential therapy could go hand in hand with similar research from Ben Gurion University. Kol hakavod to Prof. Amit and his research team on their remarkable discovery. May it be bear fruit and lead to a successful cure for this terrible disease.

And now we head for the stars as we follow Venus, Israel’s first research mini-satellite, which was successfully launched this week:

Israel’s first exploration satellite, Venus, was successfully launched on a Vega launcher early Wednesday morning at the Guiana Space Center’s Kourou site.

The country’s first environmental satellite is a major project of the Israel Space Agency and the French space agency CNES. It was launched together with the OPTSAT3000, an advanced observation satellite designed for use by the Italian Defense Ministry.

Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, who observed the launch at the control room of Israel Aerospace Industries along with ministry director-general Peretz Vazan and Israel Space Agency director Avi Belsberger, said: “This is a morning of national pride for us.

“Venus is another testament to Israel’s vast technological capabilities in all fields, and we are a force of science, technology and space with which the whole world wants to cooperate. The findings that will be sent by the satellite will include data on the environment, agriculture, water and food,” added Akunis.

Environmental satellites have become very important in recent years because of problems on Earth resulting from crowding of the population, the decline in space for agriculture and raising food, pollution and natural disasters.

Weighing only 265 kg., Venus reached its position of 720 km. above Earth within 37 minutes and 18 seconds. The first sign with preliminary data was received on the ground five-and-a-half hours after launch, but the initial images will arrive a week later. Processed images will be sent to users three months after launch. Venus is due to remain in operation for 4.5 years, after which it will be shifted to a lower trajectory.

Some 110 research areas will be photographed around the world. When the satellite passes over Israel, Venus will photograph three swaths in the Galilee, the coastal area and the Negev where most national parks, forests, ecological stations and nature areas exist. The photos will also benefit university, government and state research institutes.

Although Venus is a joint project of Israel and France, all of the satellite’s hardware components were developed in Israel’s space industries.

Wow, this is amazing! To consider that tiny Israel with a fraction of the population and budget of larger countries has joined the international space-race and is a major participant is quite mind-boggling considering all the other challenges that Israel faces. Kol hakavod to Ofir Akunis, Minister for Science, Technology and Space, and to everyone else involved in this great project!

And now, to conclude, let’s come back down to earth, closing the circle in a way. After all the violence, mayhem and murder in Jerusalem and Halamish, here is a wonderful example of co-existence:

The placard reads:

The break-fast meal was donated by Mr. Muhamad Ben Iman and Mr. Ali Ben Khaled.

May the merit of our Mother Rachel stand by them for blessing and salvation, to always do good, and we say “Amen!”.

The caption reads:

Coexistence at the Tomb of Rachel: Muhamad and Ali decided to donate the refreshments for the end of the fast of Tisha B’Av at the Tomb of Rachel. The managers of the site did not get confused, and prepared a placard with the names of the donors to be included in the prayers.

What a wonderful gesture from two Arab citizens, to give food for the Jews to break their fast! And for the Jews to pray for them in return. Maybe the Mashiach really is on his way?

With this comforting thought – how appropriate for Shabbat Nachamu – I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in Boycotts and BDS, Culture, Arts & Sports, support Israel, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Boycotters boycotted! Hear them whine

Last week Israel finally did something they should have done a long time ago – they refused entry to 5 BDS bigots who wanted to travel to Israel only to stir up trouble.

Five members of an interfaith delegation to Israel were prevented from boarding their flight from Washington, D.C., reportedly due to their activism on behalf of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The Jewish Voice for Peace organization said in a statement Monday that the delegation tried to check into its Lufthansa flight at Dulles International Airport, only to be told that the Israeli government had ordered the airline not to let the five passengers aboard.

In March, the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, amended the Law of Entry to prevent leaders of the BDS movement from being allowed into Israel. The amendment applies to organizations that take consistent and significant action against Israel through BDS, as well as the leadership and senior activists of those groups.

Lufthansa spokesman Tal Muscal confirmed that the delegation members were not allowed to fly per the Israeli government’s request. Lufthansa was not made aware of the reason for the order.

Muscal said the airline must obey government requests like these to block passengers from boarding flights.

Who were these lovely people who even the too-liberal-by-half Israeli legislature declared persona non grata?

Three of the activists were from JVP, including a rabbi. The other two delegation members prevented from boarding the flight were Rick Ufford Chase of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship in Rockland County, New York, and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine in Los Angeles.

The other 18 participants with the Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine delegation arrived Monday morning in Israel and were allowed to enter after several hours of detention and questioning, according to JVP.

JVP states on its website that it supports boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

But what is sauce for the goose is not considered sauce for the gander, and the boycotters were not happy bunnies:

“Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” Rabbi Alissa Wise said in the JVP statement. “I’m heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.

JVP said it is believed to be the first time that the amendment has been enforced before passengers boarded their flights to Israel and the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their support of BDS.

You’d need a heart of stone not to weep at the injustice. Not. 😈

Israellycool wonders if Israel should be banning entry to these BDS bigots:

On one hand, I support free speech. But it is a right that cannot come at the expense of superseding rights, like the right to live in peace and security. Therefore for me, the litmus test is: could the individuals endanger the lives of our soldiers and civilians. Think people like Rachel Corrie, who tried to prevent the IDF from doing their jobs in stopping terrorists. Or any other ISM activists, really, known to lie to enter the country, cavort with terrorists and even assist them.

Such activities go beyond “merely” advocating for BDS.

In this case, for example, I fully support someone like “Rabbi” Alissa Wise being prevented from entering Israel. She advocates for Israel’s destruction, loves her terrorists, and thus represents a potential danger to all of us.

Screenshot of Rabbi Alissa Wise’s tweet to BDS antisemite Ali Abunimah

I think this vile attitude should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind as to the justice of the ban.

You can read more about the viciously anti-Israel activities of JVP at NGO-Monitor:

VP’s strategy is to create “a wedge” within the American Jewish community, while working toward the goal of eliminating U.S. economic, military, and political aid to Israel.

Furthermore they promote BDS, Palestinian “resistance” (we all know what that means. It’s a euphemism for terrorism), they ignore antisemitism, invoke the “Nakba” and are antagonistic towards the Jewish community.

The ADL, a pro-Israel but very liberal organization, also slammed JVP in a special report:

Jewish Voice for Peace’s hardline stance is demonstrated by its positions on BDS, willingness to partner with anti-Israel organizations that deny Israel’s right to exist and legitimize terror, and its refusal to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Share via Twitter Share via Facebook

These are not nice people. But if you need further convincing, just watch the following video of Rabbi Wise and her colleagues, and then read my fisking of their words below:


Rabbi Alissa Wise says: “Attempting to board a plane for Israel-Palestine.
Just her description of the country gives the game away. For the information of Rabbi Wise, there is no such place as “Israel-Palestine”. Our country is called Israel. You cannot force a country to exist just by renaming another country.

She then remarks: “As we watch Israel’s encroachment on the Haram el Sharif/Temple Mount….”
Excuse me? Israel is encroaching on the Temple Mount? There was not even a mention of the Palestinian terror attack from within the Temple Mount complex, in which two Israeli policemen were murdered, and which set off the crisis. What encroachment can she describe, besides the security forces searching the area for illicit weapons? Not to mention that for a Jewish Rabbi it is very strange that she would mention the Muslim name of the Temple Mount first.

Her next words are: “and the powerful and peaceful protests in Al Aqsa”
This woman is being deliberately, wilfully and maliciously ignorant.  Two Israeli policemen were murdered on Friday, 3 Israelis were slaughtered on Friday night, and three Palestinian protestors were killed in the riots that followed Israel’s closure of the Temple Mount after the terror attack.

This is what she calls peaceful??  I’d hate to see what “violent” looks like in her eyes. Probably Israeli police carrying out crowd control.

She mentions the humanitarian crisis in Gaza with very little electricity – without once mentioning that the fault lies entirely with Hamas.

Next we hear Shakeel Syed who makes the outlandish claim: “the holy land does not belong to any one group of people”
Oh yes it does, Mr. Syed. Israel belongs to the Jews. And to Israelis. Why should Israel be different to any other country? Just as Britain is for the English and France for the French, and just as those countries and every other country in the world controls who is allowed to come into its borders and under what conditions, so too Israel is permitted to allow or deny entry to whomever it deems fit.  This does not mean that Israel refuses to allow pilgrims of all faiths to visit their holy sites. As we all know – unless you are dishonest like JVP are – Israel has the most liberal laws on its books for freedom of religion.

Rick Ufford Chase: also traveling to Israel and Palestine. No such place.

Alana Krivo-Kaufman is “horrified and ashamed” at the ban and claims that “Israel’s government is not a democratic government.”
That’s funny. I could have sworn we have a democratically elected Knesset, with even Arab members and ministers. Message to Ms. Krivo-Kaufman: just because a legislature produces certain laws that you don’t like does NOT make it democratic. If I were you I would take up your complaints with the non-democratic Hamas.

And then we hear from Noah Habeeb who describes himself as an Arab Jew.  No Mizrachi Jew (a Sephardi, or one whose origins are in the east or Levant) who respects himself would describe himself as an Arab Jew. This man is using his Jewish identity to provide cover and credentials to the anti-Israel activity of JVP. as cover. He complains that “at the border there’s not true democracy“. Does the US let everyone in? Does he think American border police don’t question people?? Democracy does not mean letting everyone in regardless. Democracy means giving a voice to the people.

And the people of Israel have spoken.

Posted in Boycotts and BDS, Israel news | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The perversity and malice of Temple Denial

Even with the evidence in front of their eyes, there are too many ignoramuses, conspiracy theorists, religious supersessionists as well as plain old antisemites, who either deny the very existence of the two Jewish Temples or deny the Jewish connection to them.

Haaretz (!), of all places (!!), has republished an excellent article, originally from 2 years, ago, but which is particularly relevant at the moment, with lengthy quotes and interviews from leading archeologists who affirm that indeed, there were Jewish temples on the Temple Mount:

Was there once a great Jewish temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount? Yes. Does any scholar genuinely doubt there was? No, say archaeologists who have spent their lives studying Jerusalem. “I feel stupid even having to comment on it,” says Dr. Yuval Baruch, a leading Israeli archaeologist who has studied Jerusalem throughout his career. “Demanding proof that the Temples stood on the Mount is like demanding proof that the ancient stone walls surrounding Jerusalem, which stand to this day, were the ancient stone walls surrounding Jerusalem,” he adds.

The contention that there is no proof the Temples existed, let alone on the Mount, is an artifact of the recent Israeli-Arab conflict. Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition has always held the Mount sacred and none queried the existence of the Temples. “A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif,” published in English by the Supreme Muslim Council itself in 1925, states: “The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. As well as being sacred to Jews, the hilltop plaza, which could go back as much as 5,000 years, is sacred to Muslims as the place from which the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. No Muslim scholars would agree to be interviewed for this article.

Archaeologists cannot conclusively point to stones they know comprised the Second Temple, let alone the first one. But as Prof. Israel Finkelstein, a world-renowned expert on Jerusalem archaeology, spells out in an email to Haaretz, “There is no scholarly school of thought that doubts the existence of the First Temple.”

All the archaeologists Haaretz spoke with for this article believe that if Temple Mount could be excavated – which it never has been – such evidence would be found, even if many of the stones were repurposed over the centuries. But concrete finds definitively from the Temple exist in abundance, says Bar-Ilan University Prof. Gabriel Barkay, an archaeologist who has spent many years working in Jerusalem, and the area of Temple Mount in particular.

“Two copies of inscriptions prohibiting the entry of nonbelievers to the Temple have been found on Temple Mount, which Josephus wrote about. These inscriptions were on the dividing wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which prevented non-Jews from accessing the interior of the [Temple] courtyard,” Barkay says, adding that both were written in ancient Greek. The “warning” stone, which is at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, warns non-Jews of the perils of entering the sacred Temple. There were additional, similar inscriptions in Latin, he says.

Another inscription in stone, “To the trumpeting place,” was found in 1968 at the southwest corner of Temple Mount. “It is known that trumpets were blown at the corners of Temple Mount, to declare the advent of Shabbat and other dates,” Barkay explains. Josephus, the ancient historian of ephemeral loyalties, explains that it was customary for a Temple priest to “stand and to give notice, by sound of trumpet, in the afternoon of the approach, and on the following evening of the close, of every seventh day.” The stone is now at the Israel Museum.

That stone, or a copy of it, or a similar stone found at the same place, can be seen right there outside the southern wall of the Temple Mount, as I showed in my blog about my trip there before Yom Yerushalayim.

לבית התקיות להכריז – The place where the Levite would blow Shofar to announce Shabbat

Will more evidence be found? Massive, decades-long construction work by the Muslim authorities controlling Temple Mount caused great archaeological destruction, says famed third-generation Jerusalem archaeologist Eilat Mazar, of the Hebrew University.

“No wonder remnants of the First and Second Temples themselves have not been found,” Mazar writes in an email to Haaretz. “What has been found, including by my grandfather [pioneering archaeologist Benjamin Mazar], are the remains of magnificent buildings that support historic sources describing the construction of the First and Second Temples, and the surrounding compounds, in detail.”

While the Mount remains unexcavated, the City of David site right next to it has been and is being explored. “Remains uncovered over decades in excavations at the City of David, and the area connecting the City of David to Temple Mount, support, without reservation, the historic descriptions of the beginning of Jerusalem, and its development from a Canaanite town existing 5,000 years ago, to the heavily fortified Israelite capital 4,000 years ago, to the days of King David 3,000 years ago, to the city that developed northward in the days of King Solomon (around 10th century B.C.E.),” Mazar writes.

Over the last decades the Muslims played a disgraceful double game against the Jews on the Temple Mount. First they destroyed as much archeological evidence as they could, and dumped it as just so much garbage in a way that made it impossible to extrapolate any crucial evidence from it. And then they denied any Jewish history on the Mount because … no archeological evidence could be found!

(In the course of building El-Marwani, a new mosque sited underneath Al-Aqsa and dedicated in December 1996, the waqf – the Muslim religious trust – decided that a new emergency exit was needed from El-Marwani. Without coordinating with Israel, says Baruch, it extracted tons of material from Temple Mount – transporting it away in hundreds of trucks, mainly to dumps around the Old City. The Israel Antiquities Authority subsequently collected much of that material, which is now being examined in the “Sifting Project” – and this rubble may contain more evidence. However, this does not count as excavation.)

“The question of whether archaeological finds prove the existence of the Temple on Temple Mount is cynical and provocative,” says Barkay. “These are things known to anybody with culture and cannot be cast in doubt. We have dozens of literary sources, including Muslim sources, describing the Temple.”

“Muslim historians and geographers of the Middle Ages never doubted it,” says Baruch. “I don’t know a single description of Jerusalem in Arabic from the Middle Ages, or even the earlier period or later one, that does not relate to Haram al-Sharif as the site of the Temple.” Islam does not necessarily distinguish between the First and Second Temples, he adds. For them, Solomon built his temple there and that is that.

Historical evidence is abundant, too, and not only from Jewish sources. From the Babylonians and Romans to the Greeks and Persians, the Jewish Temples on the Mount were recorded.

It is clear that any honest person of sound mind could no more deny the existence of the Temples on the Temple Mount than the rising of the sun in the east. (I would not advise reading the comments to the article, some of which deny exactly this fact).

In case you should need some more proof, watch this video of evidence from the Babylonian destruction of the City of David. (via Reality):

During excavations organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the City of David Foundation (Elad) on the eastern slope of the City of David), structures built more than 2,600 years ago were found; unearthed after being covered over by layers of collapsed stone.

Underneath the stone, excavators found artifacts from the First Temple period, including charred wood, grape seeds, pottery, fish scales and bones, and pottery.

These findings, say researchers, hint at the affluence and character of Jerusalem, capital of the ancient kingdom of Judea. The artifacts also testify to the city’s destruction at the hands of the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE.

Among the excavation’s salient findings were dozens of storage jugs which stored both grain and liquids. Some of the jugs featured stamped handles with seals from the Kingdom of Judea.

Several of the seals discovered depict a rosette – a petalled rose. According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, Israel Antiquities Authority excavation directors: “These seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple Period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty. Classifying objects facilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields. The rosette, in essence, replaced the ‘For the King’ seal used in the earlier administrative system.”

And of course if the evidence exists to show that a city was destroyed it is obvious that the city existed in the first place! Kol hakavod to the archaeologists and all those involved in this extremely important discovery.

And one more item on this same subject of “Temple Denial”, or maybe it should be called “Jewish history and identity denial”: Melanie Phillips writes about Tisha B’Av as a day to teach the world:

The Temple, that is, that stood in Jerusalem on what is now called Temple Mount; the one to whose remaining stones Jews turn their faces when they pray as the site of their ancient holy of holies; the one that is the cynosure of their faith and whose existence and meaning are threaded through their prayers.

The Arab Muslims claim there never was a Jewish Temple there. Mahmoud Abbas, whose “doctorate” was in denying the Holocaust, denies there was ever a Jewish Temple there. He and the rest of the Arab Muslim world say it is a place that has only ever been sacred to Muslims. Their denial that the land of Israel was ever the Jewish homeland is centred on their claim that there never was a Temple in Jerusalem, only the al Aqsa mosque.

But al Aqsa was built on top of the ruins of the Temple, in order to bury and conceal it and thus bury and conceal the national history of the Jews – the only people for whom Israel was ever their national kingdom, thousands of years before Islam was even invented and the Arabs invaded as colonialist conquerers.

The original stones used to build the Temple’s foundations are still there. You can see them. Artefacts from the time of the Jewish King Solomon have been excavated. You can see them. Two inscriptions prohibiting the entry of nonbelievers to the Temple have been found on Temple Mount. You can see them. Stones hurled down from the Temple by the Romans in their orgy of destruction onto the street below remain where they fell. You can see them, as well as the ancient street itself. Hundreds of excavated mikvaot, or Jewish ritual baths, testify to the Jewish presence around the Temple thousands of years ago. You can see them.

But what the fast of Tisha b’Av itself also tells the world is that the Jews were in Jerusalem before the Babylonians, before the Romans, before the Christians and most certainly before the Muslims. What Jews mourn on Tisha b’Av is an actual historical event.

And that’s what so many in the west also don’t grasp – that the Jews alone are the indigenous people of the land, and that Judaism is based on an actual nation which practised its religion in the actual historic kingdom of Judea.

But because Islam holds that any territory ever occupied by Muslims remains Muslim for ever and can be ruled by no-one else, the Muslim world will not accept this. That’s why the war over Temple Mount is not being waged in the name of the Palestinians or even the Arabs but – according to Mahmoud Abbas amongst others – all Muslims.

It is an Islamic holy war – not just against the State of Israel but against Judaism itself. … But Judaism is inextricably composed of the people, the religion and the land. Those who want to strip away the land from the Jewish people are attacking Judaism itself.

Some Jews question why Tisha b’Av remains a day of mourning when Israel has been so triumphantly reborn from the ashes of history. But today it’s surely more important than ever to mourn. For the destroyers are still with us, the Temple Mount is still occupied and the stones are still being hurled down from it. The only difference is that the murderous destroyers hurling the rocks today are not the Romans but the Arab Muslims.

Read it all.

May our fasting be accepted as atonement for our sins, and may Hashem bring us the Geulah (Redemption) and rebuild the Temple במהרה בימינו אמן.

Posted in History, indigenous rights, Israel news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments
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