Car-rammings in Stockholm and Israel

I did mention on Friday that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  Besides the horrific chemical warfare perpetrated by Butcher Assad against his own people (more in separate post) there were two terrorist car-rammings in which several people were killed.

On Thursday a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into two soldiers standing at a bus stop outside Ofra in the Binyamin region, killing Sgt. Elchai Taharlev and wounding another soldier.

Elhai Taharlev studied at the Mekor Hayim yeshiva high school in Kfar Etzion in Judea and, afterward, at the hesder yeshiva in Tekoa in the region. He is survived by his parents, three brothers and three sisters. Elhai’s father, Rabbi Ohad Taharlev, heads Midreshet Lindenbaum for Women in Jerusalem, one of the educational institutions of the Ohr Torah network founded by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin..

Sgt. Elchai Taharlev HY’D

The Talmon community in which Elhai lived said in response: “On the eve of the Passover holiday, the Taharlev family and, with them, the residents of the Talmon community received the tragic news. Our dear Elhai was murdered. A talented youth, modest, and very, very beloved. The pain breaks the hearts of friends, neighbors, kids in the youth group and all the members of the community who knew Elhai and loved him.”

“This is the third neighbor we are losing: Roi Arbel, father of 5; Gil-ad Shaar (who also studied at Mekor Chaim yeshiva and was one of the three boys kidnapped and murdered on their way home three years ago, ed.) and now Elhai, were taken from us by evil human beings. Spring won’t bring comfort to this great pain. We embrace the family, and we ask the Creator of the Universe to put an end to our sorrows.”

What a huge loss to his family, his community and the nation. May Elchai’s memory be for a blessing and may his family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

The following day a similar attack was carried out – in peaceful Stockholm of all places. A terrorist drove a truck into a crowd of shoppers, killing 4 and injuring dozens more:

STOCKHOLM — A truck crashed into an upscale department store in central Stockholm on Friday, killing at least two people, according to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who said all indications were that it was a terror attack. One person was arrested.

The rear of the truck that was rammed into the shoppers in Stockholm

Swedish radio put the death toll at three. [This has been since updated to four -Ed.]

“There are deaths, and many injured,” Nina Odermalm Schei, a spokeswoman for Swedish intelligence agency Sapo, told AFP.

“Sweden has been attacked,” Lofven said. “This indicates that it is an act of terror.”

From the second link:

The attack occurred just before 1300 GMT at the corner of the store and Drottninggatan, the city’s biggest pedestrian street, above ground from Stockholm’s central subway station.

Thick smoke billowed from the scene, while the area was blocked off by police and crowds gathering around the police cordon.

Police vans circulating in the city using loudspeakers urged people to go straight home and avoid large crowds.

The centre of the usually buzzing city was in lockdown, with the central train station evacuated and other stores quickly emptied of shoppers.

The Stockholm metro was also completely shut down for several hours before resuming in the early evening, with the attack taking place at the city’s T-Centralen station, through which all the city’s lines pass.

I send my sympathies and condolences to the people of Stockholm, to those who lost loved ones, and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

What struck me, and many other pro-Israel activists, was the reaction of institutions like the BBC as well as our “usual suspects”, the UN:

The BBC did not use the word “terror” or “terrorism” in its report on the car-ramming near Ofra:

As usual – and in sharp contrast to many of the BBC’s reports on the vehicular attack in London just two weeks ago – the article does not include the words terror, terrorism or terrorist.

Even the terror organisation which subsequently praised the attack is described in tepid language:

“The Palestinian militant group, Hamas, praised what it called the “heroic” attack.”

In fact, as reported by the Jerusalem Post, Hamas had rather more to say than that.

It is worth remembering that since the surge in terror attacks in late 2015, the BBC has consistently failed to provide its audiences with any serious reporting on the topic of incitement and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials. Readers are hence unable to judge for themselves whether or not what ‘Israel says’ is accurate.

Likewise, it is noteworthy that the portrayal of terrorism as being attributable to “frustration rooted in decades of occupation” conforms to a guidance document for members of the international media put out by the PLO in November 2015.

We should therefore not be surprised that in the BBC’s report on the Stockholm attack, in its timeline of car-ramming attacks in Europe and the US, does not mention any of the numerous attacks in Israel (h/t Neil Turner). Yes, the BBC could claim in its defence that the timeline specifically mentions only Europe and the US. But this begs the question why is Israel not included in this timeline, since Israelis were the first and primary victims of such attacks until recently.

No prizes for the correct answer to my rhetorical question. The answer is institutional anti-Israel bias.

As for the UN – just see the tweets below. Need I say more?

This could all be summed up as “it starts with the Jews but it does not end there”.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, Media and journalism, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good News Friday – Shabbat Hagadol edition

It’s Shabbat Hagadol tomorrow, the last Shabbat before Pesach, so despite the Middle East going to hell in a handbasket, this week’s Good News Friday post is going to concentrate on Pesach news and fun. There’s time enough to worry about the world after Pesach.

Let’s start with that most unfavourite of all pre-Pesach tasks – spring cleaning. You will be happy to learn that even the Kotel gets a thorough cleaning in time for the festival, with the thousands of notes removed for respectful burial:

Workers cleared the Western Wall of thousands of notes Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Led by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Western Wall’s rabbi, the crew painstakingly dug the scraps of paper from the Wall’s crevices before burying the notes in a ceremony.

The notes contain prayers addressed to God from Israelis, visitors, and worshipers worldwide who send their requests from abroad.

Let’s move on to some Pesach fun (h/t Reality) with a cute medley of Pesach songs accompanied by some great dance moves:

 

Cocktail – file photo unrelated to the article

From one kind of fun to another, besides the 4 cups of wine that we drink at the Seder, here are ten Passover cocktails to match each one of the 10 plagues. First there is a summary of the halachic dietary requirements for Pesach, and the options for swapping one kind of (non-Pesach) alcohol for a permitted kind. And then we get to the most important bit: (Note: I take no responsibility for the kashrut of the following cocktails. This is up to the readers – or drinkers – themselves). Here’s one sampling:

Plague 1: Blood
Cocktail: Red Nile

The original eye-opener. Great way to start the plagues, perfect for weekend brunch of fresh fruit, coffee, matzoh brie, and Sephardic dried-fruit-and-cumin haroseth.

Ingredients:
2 oz potato vodka
4 oz tomato juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz Arak
1 tsp white horseradish
6 drops Texas Pete
3 drops Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Cocktail Bitters (no corn syrup)
Dash salt
Dash pepper
Carrot stick for garnish

Directions: Fill a burgundy glass with ice. Combine ingredients in dry shaker. Shake until well-mixed, then pour into ice-filled glass. Garnish with 6-inch carrot stick.

Go to the link to get the recipes for the next nine. Le’chaim! 🍷 🍾

And to conclude, here is one very heartwarming piece of real news: the birth of quadruplets in Shaare Zedek Hospital last month:

A set of healthy quadruplets was born at the Shaarei Tzedek medical center from a spontaneous pregnancy. The quads were born during the Purim festival after they had undergone a long journey, as they travelled from Mexico to Israel in their mother’s womb.

Quads born in Shaare Zedek

The 24-year-old couple married about two years ago and decided to move to the husband’s birthplace in Mexico. The couple did not immediately succeed in getting pregnant but now have four healthy children.

The babies, two boys and two girls, were born by caesarean delivery in the 33rd week of pregnancy and weighed 1.5 kg on average.

“Cases of spontaneous birth of quadruplets are very rare,” said Professor Arnon Samuelov, the head of the maternity department in Shaarei Tzedek and the doctor who performed the operation. “Even in extra-uterine pregnancies such births are uncommon.”

The happy mother described her shock at hearing about the unusual pregnancy: “In the two years that we did not succeed in getting pregnant I felt that we should go back to the land of Israel and the moment I found that I had a multiple pregnancy I knew it was time to return. I am grateful that we have come back and that the children were born in Israel.”

Multiple births are not unknown to the family as the grandmother of the babies had herself given birth to triplets, but the couple still cannot believe that after the two-year wait they have four healthy children.

What a marvellous story! It brings to mind the womenfolk of the Children of Israel in Egypt who, it is said, gave birth to 6 children at one go. Heartiest mazal tov to the happy (if shocked) parents, and how wonderful that they came to Israel to give birth. May the parents enjoy גידול קל (an easy upbringing) and may the children bring nachat and joy to the entire family.

And now – back to the kitchen for last minute preparations.

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom. May this Shabbat Hagadol usher in the true Geulah (redemption).

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

Guest Post: The Left’s Jewish Problem

This is a guest post by frequent contributor Brian Goldfarb, who responds to the latest antisemitism scandal in the Labour Party.


The Left’s Jewish Problem

This is a journalistic “rapid response” to the failure of the Labour Party to expel Ken Livingstone, having found him guilty of antisemitism. How crass of them.

The title of this article is taken from the book of the same name by Dave Rich, employed by the Community Security Trust in the UK. It arises out his Ph.D. thesis and the title accurately reflects the concerns and contents of the book. It’s in paperback and you should read it. The article is mine, only the title is borrowed: we happening to be writing about the same issue.

I realise that what I left out of the last article I wrote for this site (some time ago now) was how the Labour Party got like it now is. In practice, that can be summed up in 4 words, though they will need expansion: Ken Livingstone and Gerald Kaufman. The late Sir Gerald typified much that is wrong in the Labour Party: at one stage, when a fellow (Jewish) Labour MP rose to speak in the House of Commons, he was heard to say “Oh, it’s the Jews again”, despite the fact that he was himself halachically Jewish, though he would probably have wished it otherwise.

Here he is in another offensive accusation against the Jews:

If this hadn’t been obvious before today, then it should now be crystal clear, when the Party, instead of expelling Livingstone, merely suspended him for, effectively, a further 12 months, a sentence he has threatened to appeal. It is not denied (other than by Livingstone himself) that he has made antisemitic comments repeatedly, but these are not deemed a sufficient offence to actually get rid of him. However, the situation is so bad that those not actually on the lunatic left of the Party are appalled by this. Tom Watson, Deputy Leader, and probably the only Front-Bencher in the Parliamentary Party that Corbyn cannot sack (literally: he is elected by the whole movement and is there until he stands down or is replaced by the whole Party), Sir Keir Starmer, a possible future leader of the Party and the Shadow Brexit Secretary of State, and Sadiq Khan, Labour Mayor of London, have all called for Livingstone to be expelled. Even Corbyn has, according to one source called for his latest comments (after being suspended for a further term) to lead to a further investigation, this time by the national Executive Committee, and thus by a larger and probably more public body.

Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:

And here is Jeremy Corbyn’s surprising reaction:

This possibly means that Corbyn can thus be re-classified as an anti-Israel rather than antisemitic, though I have my doubts that this view is accurate of someone who calls Hamas and Hezbollah “friends”.

If anyone doubts that Livingstone is antisemitic, they need only refer back to the television interview that led to all this, the one that resulted in John Mann, MP, confronting Livingstone after it and coming close to actually assaulting him. In the course of that appearance, in part,Livingstone said, between 09.12-09.20 minutes into the segment (it’s amazing what can be said in 8 seconds)

“a real antisemite doesn’t just hate the Jews in Israel, they hate the Jews in Golders Green and Stamford Hill…”

So someone who ONLY hates the Jews in Israel isn’t a “real” antisemite, whatever that means? And that lets Livingstone off the hook?

This is the same interview in which he said that Hitler was really a Zionist until he went mad. This was while attempting to defend Naz Shah, MP for Bradford, who had made stupid comments and posted links to antisemitic sites on her Facebook page, all of which she has since repudiated, handsomely apologised for and made serious contact with the local Jewish community (tiny though it is) and asked them to educate her in the ways of the Jewish community in the UK and their links to Israel.

Sadly, this problem dates back many years. On one level, it dates back to the 19th Century, when August Bebel, a German Social Democrat, was led to note that “antisemitism is the socialism of fools”: that is, the adoption by elements of the Left of the view of the far Right that Jews controlled the world through their control of the world’s finances. Which is why, of course, that at the time Bebel made his pronouncement, the vast majority of Jews worldwide were in poverty.

All that said, people like Livingstone are only the tip of the iceberg. This issue was the same one that concerned Colin Shindler in his book (which I reviewed here:  “Israel & the European Left”: as far as the Far Left are concerned, to be part of the Left, you must give up your previous identifications. For Jews, this means becoming part of the generality and denying national identities. It’s either Israel of the proletariat. And Israel is, of course, after 1967, a part of the colonialist/imperialist world. I grossly over-simplify, of course, but the article and/or Shindler’s book need to be read to understand this position. Which is one Corbyn and his Far Left acolytes and comrades have adopted.

This results in the Labour Party’s leader and a small section of its members and supporters (including MPs and MEPs) becoming apologists for terrorists, antisemites and, in some cases, at least borderline antisemites themselves. (You need to understand that by “supporters”, I mean those like me who are lifelong Labour voters, who may or may not have been members. The implication is that should Corbyn remain Leader, the Labour Party has little chance of winning the next election: but one should never say “never” in relation to politics. The impossible may happen. Sadly.)

We need to remember that, for nearly 7 decades the Labour Party had treated all who qualified as workers as equals. And this was despite the tendency of the likes of Ernest Bevin (Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour Government) to be an Arabist – largely, it must be noted, because of the importance of Arab oil to the UK economy. And Jews repaid the favour: they flocked into the Labour Party and the trade unions; they were over-represented among Labour MPs in the Labour landslide in 1945 and remained so for much of the rest of the century and beyond.

So, what changed? There are those who say that the turning point was 1967 and Israel’s temerity in successfully defending itself from 3 major armies and essentially destroying them in 6 days. At this point, for them, Israel stopped being a victim and became…what? For most observers in the UK, Israel became a safe country, able to defend itself from those who wished it and its citizens harm. The Far Right antisemites will never be other than what they are and, for my purposes here, can be put to one side.

The far Left (or parts of it), however, fell victim to a particularly pernicious mind-set. Israel moved, for these people, from having the status of victim, thanks to centuries of oppression, prejudice, discrimination and even attempted extermination, to becoming a member of the club of imperialist/colonialist (maybe that should be, for them, a hyphen rather than a slash, though the distinction is narrow – just right for Far Left ideologues).

In an odd way, this shift is summed up by a column by the sometime journalist and satirist (and now full-time novelist and playwright) Michael Frayn. Back in 1967, he wrote an article in The Guardian, still then a genuine Left-Liberal paper, after the 6-Day War that it was a shame that Israel had won. If they had wanted the sympathy and support of the West, they should have lost, and “we” would have picked up the survivors from the beaches of Tel Aviv…Remember, Frayn is a satirist.

However, for those steeped in a Stalinist or Trotskyite background, this transition to becoming a colonial/imperialist power was not a matter of satire but of political “reality”. Such people really do believe in the “socialism of fools”. It matters not a whit to people like this (even if they had been alive and grown-up enough to understand what was going on) that after the 6-Day War, the Arab nations propounded their “three no’s”; or as Abba Eban put it, “on the morrow of victory…the vanquished demanded surrender”.


Anne adds:

Brian, thank you once again for shedding light on the twisted mindset of the rancid Left (as you so succinctly described it) which cannot tolerate a strong, independent Israel. It becomes clear from the way these hard-Leftists object when they are called antisemites, that they have endless sympathy for dead Jews but not so much for live Jews, particularly if they live in their own nation state.

What a sad state of affairs!

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Livingstone, Labour and Antisemitism – David Hirsh

Ken Livingstone has been in the news again for his same old “party trick” of conflating Zionism with Nazism, and then having the temerity to deny that being “only” anti Zionist does not make one an antisemite.

Well, in his case it certainly does!

And yet Livingstone was once again let off the hook by the Labour Party which declined to expel him for his vile bigotry, instead delivering him a mere slap on the wrist in the form of a suspension.

A slap on the wrist for him and a slap in the face of British Jewry.

And Red Ken remains unrepentant, comparing the tribunal to a show trial in North Korea: (via Harry’s Place):

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/849338047711891456

 

Harry’s Place also bring to our attention the revolting Guardian cartoon by Steve Bell which supports Livingstone in his claim of a “kangaroo court”.

And Marc Goldberg discusses the malign effect Livingstone’s words have had on British Jewry, putting them on the defensive:

Every op-ed in the Jewish Chronicle or Jewish News and even in the nationals seems to be rushing to explain to Joe Public that NO Zionists weren’t actually complicit with Hitler in the Holocaust. Naturally the more people read denials the more they’ll think there’s no smoke without fire.

Cheers Ken.

And this is why I wonder if it’s Ken’s genius. If you really hate Jews pushing this idea is a wonderful way of casting aspersions on us and our ideology of national liberation. And maybe it’s right that people try to educate the public on what the Haavara agreement was but I’m not playing ball. But I’m sorry to disappoint anyone out there but no, Zionists weren’t in league with Hitler.

Marc’s concluding words hold an important lesson for us:

Anyone who expected more hasn’t been paying attention. Anyone who attempts to explain why Ken’s misguided or wrong is howling at the wind.

Now go and read David Hirsh’s article below.

 

Engage

This piece, by David Hirsh, is from the Jewish Chronicle

Ken Livingstone has been suspended from Labour membership for two years, counted from last April, when he said on the radio that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism – this was before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’.

But he is unrepentant.  On the steps of his tribunal, he gave interviews saying that Hitler intervened on behalf of the Zionists against the Yiddish speaking rabbis in Germany and that the SS was giving training to Jews to help them in Palestine.

Why should the two years not begin when he went on Radio 4’s Today programme on the morning of this verdict, when he said that these allegations of antisemitism were invented by the Jewish Chronicle to silence criticism of Israel and to smear Jeremy Corbyn?

Why not start the suspension from 1982, when Livingstone, who was at…

View original post 767 more words

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Good News Friday

It’s a great feeling to continue the good news from yesterday into today, towards Shabbat, so here is my latest Good News Friday installment.

First up is a blast from the past, as Israeli students unearthed a 2,000 year-old Jewish town:

Israeli 11th-graders from a Jerusalem high school recently helped uncover a 2000-year-old town with an impressive array of ritual baths and underground systems used by rebels during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

Inside one of the ritual baths uncovered in the excavation. (Assaf Peretz/IAA)

The 240 students were working in an original and rewarding way to reduce travel costs for a heritage trip to Poland. They spent an entire week on archaeological excavations in Ramat Beit Shemesh, far from their computers and air-conditioned classrooms.

In recent months, they discovered the remains of a Jewish town dating to the Second Temple period.

As in many other instances in Israel, the findings were chanced upon while conducting excavations prior to the building of a new residential neighborhood.

The town, whose ancient name is unknown, has so far yielded eight ritual baths, cisterns and hiding refuges, along with rock-hewn industrial installations. The houses themselves have not survived and their stones were taken to construct buildings in later periods.

“The town’s extraordinary significance lies in its imposing array of private ritual baths, which were incorporated in the residential buildings,” Sarah Hirshberg, Shua Kisilevitz and Sarah Levevi-Eilat, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), explained in a statement. “Each household had its own ritual bath and a cistern. Some of the baths uncovered are simple and others are more complex and include an Otzar, or collecting basin, into which the rainwater would drain. It is interesting to note that the local inhabitants adhered strictly to the rules regarding [ritual] purity and impurity.”

Underneath the dwellings and rock-hewn installations, another surprising discovery was unearthed, dating back to the Bar Kokhba Revolt against the Romans (130-135 CE)—a winding labyrinth of hiding refuges connected to sophisticated and elaborate complexes.

What a fascinating find! Kol hakavod to the enterprising students who helped uncover the distant past in order to defray costs in revisiting our more recent past:

“This unique project, which connects the country’s past and Israel’s heritage with Holocaust studies and the journey to Poland, provides students with an educational experience in which they are exploring and investigating,” said Dafna Menashe Baruch, principal of Boyer High School, which these students attend.

She said that by stepping outside the classroom and working in the field on an archaeological dig, students are exposed to many different worlds of knowledge, a “valuable educational program that connects the past with the present”.

“It’s fantastic that we, Israeli students in the 21st century, are getting the opportunity to find out about the country and are unearthing a Jewish settlement from 2000 years ago with our own hands,” said student Shelly Kozlovich. “With the money we’re making, we’ll pay for our trip to Poland and learn there about the Holocaust – an event that had a huge influence on Israel’s establishment. It’s a great way of closing a circle.”

Indeed, Israel’s past, both distant and more recent, is never far from the surface. I think all Israeli schools should undertake such activities in order to enlighten their students.

And now from the past, back to the present at high speed – by train that is. In a sign that the Messiah might really be on his way, the high speed train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is finally coming down the rails:

This rail line will revolutionize travel between the country’s two biggest cities, bringing residents and visitors into the heart of Israel quickly for work or leisure.

Currently it takes about an hour to drive the approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, though traffic jams often lengthen the trip. An old scenic train route chugs along from the remote southwest corner of Jerusalem, winding around the hills and making several stops before reaching Tel Aviv two hours later.

This is the highest railroad bridge in Israel, at 95 meters. Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman

When it opens in the first half of 2018, the high-speed route will take less than 30 minutes, including a stop at Ben-Gurion International Airport. It will service Tel Aviv’s existing four railway stations and a new transportation hub alongside Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station and light-rail stops.

The fast train is the biggest Israel Railways projects in the past decade and one of the biggest infrastructure projects in modern Israeli history, costing the government just under $1.9 billion. Nine bridges and four tunnels enable as straight and flat a route as possible.

Tracks are being laid in all the newly dug tunnels for the fast train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman

“The bridges are up, the tunnels are dug; now we’re working on the electro-mechanics and putting down the rails,” says Israel Railways spokeswoman Batsheva Segev Landau at the Israel Railways Visitor Center in Sha’ar Hagai.

10 years in the making

Getting to this moment took more than 10 years due to massive engineering and environmental conundrums.

I beg to differ: it has taken something like 2,000 years!

“One of the biggest challenges with this line is the topography because trains can’t go beyond a 3 percent slope up. Coming up to Jerusalem you can either go around the mountains — as the Turks did on the line from Jaffa to Jerusalem, which is very slow — or make tunnels through the mountains or bridges over them,” Landau explains.

Tunnel 3 is the longest in the Mideast, at nearly 12 kilometers (7.4 miles). Emergency connecting tunnels were dug every 250 meters.

Each surrounding stone removed in the tunneling was numbered and replaced to cause the least possible disturbance to the landscape.

The earthquake-proof balanced cantilever bridges – including the highest railroad bridge in Israel at 95 meters over the Arazim Valley, and the longest at 1,250 meters spanning the Ayalon River – are supported by very few legs to leave the valleys pristine.

Seriously, this is brilliant news. So many people I know commute from the center to Jerusalem and the traffic is horrendous and becoming daily ever more so.  Despite what the article says, the drive is more like 1.5-2 hours, especially at peak hours. I can hardly wait for the train to finally go into action. Kol hakavod to everyone involved in this massive project. Read the rest of the article to understand the huge engineering feat the train project entailed.

With the care involved in preserving the environment in the train project, is it therefore any wonder that Tel Aviv is the seventh greenest city in the world?

Tel Aviv, Israel, is among the greenest cities in the world, ranking No. 7 on a prestigious list compiled recently by MIT researchers in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

Tel Aviv, Israel’s cultural and financial center, has launched several green initiatives in recent years, including city-sponsored bicycle and car-sharing services.

According to city officials, the number of trees in Tel Aviv (excluding trees in parks) has doubled over the past decade, reaching 260,000, averaging 5,000 trees per square kilometer.

“We’ve cleaned up vacant lots to make room for parks and promenades,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement. “Today, our hard work has paid off, and our green city provides a high quality of life.”

Kol hakavod to Mayor Huldai and the residents of Tel Aviv who all cooperate together to keep the city – once a dirty and polluted place – into a beautiful, environmentally friendly city.

Moving now to the biomedical field, Israeli researchers have developed a blood test to diagnose lung cancer:

Israeli scientists from the Rehovot-based company Nucleix succeeded in developing a first of its kind blood test to diagnose lung cancer.

The new test is able to diagnose the disease long before it spreads in the body, thus increasing the chance of survival, as many patients usually die within a few months of the diagnosis.

Each year, approximately 1.8 million new lung cancer patients are diagnosed, a 1.59 million of whom will die within the first year post-diagnosis. Most cases are discovered by chance, after a screening test, or due to abnormal symptoms such as prolonged cough, bloody cough, breathing difficulties or weight loss.

Diagnosis of the disease is usually done via a CT scan, but its level of accuracy is not high, and in 25 percent of the cases, the lung scan shows lesions of which only 3% are indeed cancerous.

The new test was developed by Dr. Elon Ganor, CEO of Nucleix, in collaboration with his colleagues Dr. Danny Frumkin, Dr. Adam Wasserstrom and Dr. Ofer Shapira. The test is based on the genetic characterization of cancer.

What an incredible development! This has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Kol hakavod to Drs. Ganor, Frumkin, Wassterstrom and Shapira on their remarkable development. May they continue to save lives through their invaluable work.

And one last very heart-warming item for today. Just over a year ago, Dafna Meir was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in her home in front of her children. A few weeks ago her daughter Renana announced her engagement. This week, Dafna’s widower Natan announced his own engagement to Zohar Morgenstern:

Just over a year after his wife was brutally murdered by an Arab terrorist in their home in Otniel, Natan Meir is engaged to be married – just weeks after his daughter announced her own engagement.

Thirteen months ago, an Arab terrorist broke into the Meir home and stabbed 39-year old Dafna Meir, a hospital nurse, to death in front of her young children.

Dafna was survived by her husband, Natan, the couple’s four children and two foster children.

Earlier this month the Meir family celebrated the engagement of Dafna and Natan’s oldest child, Renana.

Renana Meir and Ohr Cohen get engaged

Renana’s fiancé, Leiba Ohr, proposed to her on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple Mount.

On Monday Natan Meir announced that he too was engaged to be married.

Natan Meir and Zohar Morgenstern announce their engagement

Natan and Renana have shown us all that life is stronger than death, and that even the greatest horror and sorrow can be overcome with strength and support. Kol hakavod to father and daughter on their courage in starting out anew. They are a testament to Dafna’s strength of character and faith, and her memory will never be forgotten.

And of course a hearty Mazal Tov to Natan and Zohar, and to Renana and Ohr. (Interestingly, both the names Zohar and Ohr mean “light” in differing versions. May they both help to bring light to the Meir family and to all of Israel).

And now, with this happy thoughts, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.

Posted in History, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Some good news on the diplomatic front

Refreshing winds of change are blowing on the various diplomatic fronts facing Israel in recent days, a remarkable turn of events for Israel and her supporters who are more used to lawfare and demonization.

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, who has already proven her pro-Israel credentials at the UN, declared at the AIPAC conference this week an end to Israel-bashing at the UN since “there’s a new sheriff in town!”. You can read the entire transcript at the link, or simply watch this great video:

More support for Israel at the UN comes from the UK, in another sign of the times under the leadership of PM Theresa May. The UK put the UN Human Rights Council “on notice” after its continued anti-Israel activity:

The United Kingdom on Friday put the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) “on notice” over its “bias against Israel”, after the Geneva-based body adopted four resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a fifth condemning alleged human rights abuses in the Golan Heights.

In a scathing statement, the UK’s Mission to the United Nations lamented that while five resolutions were passed condemning Israel, not one condemned neither incitement nor terrorism on the part of the Palestinians.

The statement warned that the UK would vote against future resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the UNHRC did not change its “absurd” and “disproportionate focus on Israel.”

“Our enduring commitment to the universality of rights is also our source of enduring disappointment with the Council’s bias against Israel,” the statement read, noting that 68 of the Council’s 135 country-specific resolutions have been against Israel.

“Justice is blind and impartial. This selective focus on Israel is neither.”

The statement came as the Council adopted five resolutions under the body’s Agenda Item 7, which mandates discussion of Israel’s human rights record at every UNHRC session. Israel is the only country for which such a mandate exists.

This resounding support for Israel was followed by the UK’s former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson calling the UN criticism of Israel’s bombing of Hezbollah absurd:

Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, has condemned the UN human rights council criticism of Israeli bombing of Hezbollah positions in the Golan Heights as “absolutely preposterous” and “a profound absurdity”.

Former British FM Boris Johnson

He was speaking after the UK mission to the UN in Geneva put the UN “on notice” that it would vote against all resolutions about Israel’s conduct in the occupied Syrian and Palestinian territories unless the human rights council ended what the UK mission described as anti-Israel bias.

The change in tone is quite astonishing given the Foreign Office’s Arabist “camel corps” reputation.

Meanwhile, at the EU, a new Friends of Judea and Samaria caucus has been formed to counter the anti-Israel propaganda and support the communities of Judea and Samaria:

Some 15 parliament members and around 150 other participants came today (Tuesday) to the central complex of the European parliament in Brussels for the inauguration ceremony of the group “Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament.”

The establishment of the group is the culmination of the efforts of the foreign relations department of the Regional Council of Samaria.

Head of the Council Yossi Dagan said of the event, “For some time now, they have been speaking to us, and not with us. We have come here in order to change that situation and in order to advance, by means of this group, the human rights of Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria, who can take nothing for granted. From the right to build to the right to organized emergency medical services, nothing can be taken for granted. This is a serious phenomenon, and the “Friends” will fight for this issue as other issues are fought for within the walls of the parliament.

MEP Petr Mach, head of the Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament, said at the event: “We decided to establish a new group in the EP because we want to inform the public and the members of the parliament of how taxpayers’ money is used to support terrorism in Israel, of how, at a time when Palestinian merchandise comes into Europe without being taxed, Jewish products are specifically taxed.”

“We want to notify the public and the members of parliament of this injustice and we want to work together to cancel the taxation on Jewish products and put an end to the supportive funding, whether direct or indirect, of terror in Israel, and Judea and Samaria in particular. This conference is a first step. The group established now will work from inside the parliament for the interest of Judea and Samaria,” he added.

One of the main attractions at the event was 14-year old Ayala Shapira, who was so terribly burnt in a firebombing near her home in the Shomron 2 years ago.  Ayala is a good friend of my granddaughter, and I can confirm that she still has to walk around with that pressure mask on her face.

You can watch her in action here:

and you can read the full transcript of her moving words and admire her fighting spirit here:

I am Ayala, almost fourteen. I live in El Matan in the Shomron; I like to read, write stories and draw. I would like to describe to you what it feels like to have a terrorist attack directed at you.

The truth is, at the moment it happened I didn’t really understand what was happening. I saw a ball of light coming towards us. My father quickly stepped on the brakes. The ball of light shattered my window and landed between us. It was a Molotov cocktail.  I remember that everything around us was burning. I thought I was going to die.

Afterwards, I started to act.  I tried to open my door, but wasn’t able to.  I was sure that the central door lock had melted in the heat, but then, my father opened the door from the other side.  My entire left side was on fire, but I couldn’t free my seat belt with my left hand, so I put my right hand into the flames, too. Then, I just started running. My father told me to roll around on the road to put out the fire burning me.

Only then did I begin to feel pain. I told my father that his shirt was also on fire and I asked him to also roll around on the road, but he didn’t stop. He wanted to save me first. 

I was hospitalized for eight months; that’s where I understood that my life was about to change drastically. Sometimes, I really miss being outside and feeling the sun and doing all the things I want to do.  The hardest thing is when people look at me. I see it.  I most appreciate the people who don’t try to hide it; they look at me but ask what happened to me – why am I all covered up?

Ayala Shapira with her mother Ruth speaks at the Friends of Judea and Samaria caucus at the EU

One of the terrorists who threw the Molotov cocktail at our car was a sixteen year old boy – only a few years older than me. He did it, among other reasons, to help his family economically; he knew that if he is put into prison, the Palestinian Authority would take care of them. 

I want you to remember that sometimes when you think you are contributing to a peaceful cause, you’re actually contributing to murder, pain and war.

Ayala’s mother Ruth pointedly noted to the Europeans:

While our lives changed, the lives of the terrorists’ families changed, too. They receive a salary every month from The Palestinian Authority- a reward for their terrorist attacks. This is money they receive from you, from the countries of the European Union, who transfer hundreds of millions of Euros a year to the Palestinian Authority without any supervision.

By doing so, the countries that this Parliament represents, cause the murder of israelis. All of this is enabled by the European taxpayer. Hundreds of millions of Euros are transferred annually from the European Union to the Palestinian Authority, which finances, among other groups, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Organization, schools named after terrorists who murdered children, schools calling for terror, and others.

I call out to you, members of the European Parliament, members of the Group of Friends of Judea and Samaria – to stop this kafkaesque absurdity; to stop the encouragement of killing and destroying families done by the countries this House represents.

Maybe this will be the start of a change for the better in the European Union.

And one last item of good news (before tomorrow’s installment) is the appointment – finally – of the staunchly pro-Israel David Friedman as US Ambassador to Israel:

Bankruptcy attorney David Friedman has been sworn in as US envoy to Israel, becoming President Donald Trump’s first ambassador to take office.

US Vice President Mike Pence (L) administers the swearing-in ceremony for David Friedman (C) as the US ambassador to Israel

Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office Wednesday to Friedman, who is Trump’s former bankruptcy lawyer.

Pence called Israel the United States’ “most cherished ally,” while Israel’s envoy to Washington Ron Dermer was present for the ceremony.

The Senate confirmed Friedman’s nomination by a vote of 52-46 last week, largely along party lines.

“David, you literally were born for this job,” Pence said. “It is because of families like yours that the Jewish people are such a beautiful thread in the fabric of this nation.”

The son of an Orthodox rabbi, Friedman has been a fervent supporter of Israeli settlements and an opponent of Palestinian statehood.

Speaking after taking the oath, Friedman said that the fact that he was the first envoy approved by the Senate and sworn in “speaks volumes about how highly the Trump-Pence administration prioritizes our unbreakable bond with the State of Israel.”

Mazal tov Mr. Friedman. May you build a true bridge of friendship between our two great nations.

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