Gestures of support for Israel after the terror attack, but no change in EU policy

After this week’s terror attack Israelis were pleasantly surprised (if that’s the right term) and even gratified to see symbolic expressions of support extended to us from around the world. This is in stark contrast to previous attacks where, besides pro-forma lip service with words of comfort for the wounded victims and the bereaved, there was little identification or sympathy with Israel as a a nation. More often, we were cautioned to “exercise restraint” in dealing with the terrorists, as if we usually go on a carpet bombing rampage – and is if those nations themselves never seek retribution from their own terrorists.

Most surprising was the Turkey’s condemnation of the attack, even though, as Elder of Ziyon reports, the Palestinians were very unhappy with this:

Speaking at Esenboğa International Airport in  Ankara following his official visit to Iraq, Prime Minister Yıldırım offered his condolences for the victims in the Jerusalem and Baghdad attacks.

Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said separately, “We once again denounce a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. Humanity demands the world’s nations unite against terrorism.”

This has upset the terrorist supporters.

A Turkish hashtag called “Palestinian resistance is not terrorism” cropped up, and Islamic Jihad’s Palestine Today was proud that for a brief time the hashtag was trending.

Equally unusually, the cities of Berlin, Rotterdam and Paris lit up their monuments with the Israeli flag, in a similar way that other cities lit up their own monuments with French or German flags after terror attacks on their soil:

Several commentators noted the incredible similarity yet such a huge difference between two pictures of the Brandenburg Gate taken in the space of one lifetime:

Israellycool reports that even the usually lukewarm State Department issued a strong message of support:

For instance, the US State Department condemned the attack (which is expected), but the condemnation was actually strong, without any call for all sides to show restraint or work towards peace.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific vehicular attack by a terrorist in Jerusalem.‎ There is absolutely no justification for these brutal and senseless attacks. We‎ condemn the glorification of terrorism now or at any time and call on all to send a clear message that terrorism must never be tolerated.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the four Israeli soldiers who were killed, and we hope for a full and fast recovery of those injured.

That I did not expect.

The Jerusalem Post speculates that Europe’s Jihadist problem is making them more sympathetic to Israel (though I would have expected that support to arrive somewhat earlier, given the extent of Arab terrorism in Europe going back decades):

Is terrorism softening European attitudes toward Israel?

When a Palestinian terrorist used a car to ram and kill an Israeli soldier in eastern Jerusalem in 2014, the European Union urged “restraint” and, without condemning the attack, called it merely “further painful evidence of the need to undertake serious efforts towards a sustainable peace agreement.”

Two years later, however, European officials had a much different reaction to a similar attack in eastern Jerusalem, which killed four Israeli soldiers on Sunday.

“The European Union condemns the murder of these four young Israelis, as well as any praise or incitement for terrorist acts,” Brussels said in a statement, which unlike the 2014 communique omitted any reference to the fact that the attack happened in an area of Jerusalem that it considers occupied.

Unusually, following Sunday’s attack the Israeli flag was projected on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Paris City Hall, signs of solidarity with the Jewish state permitted by local authorities. Rotterdam City Hall flew the Israeli flag at half-mast.

To Eran and other observers of Israeli-EU relations, this change in tune is indicative of greater understanding and empathy in Europe to Israel’s fight against terrorism following a a wave of terrorist attacks on the continent beginning in 2012.

“I think it’s a new development that sincerely stems from the change in the mind of many people in Europe, in government and beyond, who now understand better than a few years ago the impact and influence of terrorism on the daily lives of innocent victims,” Eran told JTA on Wednesday.

He was referring to the cumulative effect of at least a dozen major attacks on Western European soil since 2012 in which local or foreign jihadists killed hundreds of victims using methods long associated with Palestinian terrorists.

The Israeli government, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, have been persistently drawing an equivalence between the attacks in Europe and attacks against Israelis by Palestinians.

“The terrorists who attack us have the same murderous intent as those in Paris,” Netanyahu said about the November 2015 Paris attacks. “It is time for states to condemn terrorism against us like they condemn terrorism anywhere else in the world.”

Some European leaders clearly see his point.

And yet…

Yet the gestures of empathy toward Israel will not likely carry over to EU policy, according to Eran, the former ambassador.

“These gestures are heartwarming and indicative of a positive change, but there is a clear distinction between empathy and policy in the corridors of the European Union, which is likely to remain as critical as ever of Israeli settlements and continue to oppose them on every international arena,” he said.

This was summed up succinctly by the staunch pro-Israel supporter and activist Colonel Richard Kemp:

Indeed, all these warm gestures of support and sympathy ultimately do nothing if they are not backed up by a change in policy. A good start would be to cancel the upcoming Paris “peace” summit:

Seventy countries, along with representatives of international organisations, have been invited to the Paris Peace Summit on 15 January 2017. This, less than a month after the controversial UN resolution 2334 was passed and five days before Obama leaves the White House. Further, the Security Council is scheduled to convene next Tuesday for its monthly debate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

According to a draft summary statement of the Paris conference, participating countries will stress that they won’t recognize any changes to the “June 4, 1967 borders” including in Jerusalem, except for any changes the two sides might agree during negotiations.

So far, this echoes Resolution 2334 in spirit. However, the proposed summit, like resolution 2334, has not met universal approval.

Israel’s Defence Minister Liberman called this the new Dreyfus Affair, likening this to an infamous Jew hating trial held in France in 1894. Israel has refused to attend the conference – preferring direct negotiations – while the Palestinians welcome the meeting.

Further, the US House of Representatives, which slammed UN Security Council Resolution 2334 – calling for it to be “repealed or fundamentally altered so that it is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel – has spoken out against the Paris conference.

Will those 70 nations – the number eerily reminiscent of the 70 nations who would go up to Jerusalem on the Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) to offer sacrifices to G-d at the Holy Temple – remember their support for Israel after the terror attack? Or will they sadly prove that their support is “from their lips and outwards” only?

Posted in International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Resolution 2334: Support from our friends in New Zealand

Protesters gathered outside Parliament on Friday, December 30, in support of Israel following the adoption of the UN Resolution 2334. Photo/Melissa Nightingale

Protesters gathered outside Parliament on Friday, December 30, in support of Israel following the adoption of the UN Resolution 2334. Photo/Melissa Nightingale

After UNSC Resolution 2334 passed, with the sponsorship of New Zealand among others, large protests against the government’s sponsorship of Resolution 2334 and in support of Israel took place outside the New Zealand parliament.

A New Zealand reader of mine, John McCormick, wrote to me telling me more about the protests which he helped organize, and the letter-writing campaign in which he took part, which involved very long drives as well as other expenses.  (See also the write-up at Jews Down Under). And this protest was not the only one he has organized:

I am one of the organizers of the recent protest rally held out side parliament buildings in the gardens. It is a four hour drive with out stops from Hastings to down town Wellington with out stops. We had one stop each way at a village called Shannon. It was a 14 hour round trip which we have done before. Did you read anything about it?

The first time was to support a protest at the 2014 NZ arts festival where the Be ‘er Sheva  dance company was the opening act and the far left under the name of BDS tried to stop the event we sang Hatikvah at them for 2 hours. The cops said we put on a great show. The BDS mob walked a way in the end. our trip on Dec 30 was organized quickly and we only gave people in wellington 48 hours notice to support us for security reasons. The leader is Pastor Nigel Woodley of  the Flaxmere Christian fellowship  church Hastings. He funds these events, This time the cost was the buses. I am chairman of the Hawkes Bay Provincial Friends of Israel Assn. a basically  secular organization.  I  have in the past amongst other things organized visits to Hawkes Bay for Israel Ambassadors.  Most of these are 3 day events with 10 or more appointments each time. Ambassador Gerberg now back in Jerusalem and his deputy Avital Mimran Rosenberg were here on December 7 for day and evening events

Pastor Nigel Woodley whom John mentioned in his letter compiled this video of the protests:

Christians from the Flaxmere Christian Fellowship in Hastings NZ, as well as from other Hawkes Bay Churches travel to Wellington to protest on the grounds of Parliament against the anti-Israel UN Resolution 2334 which outlaws Israeli settlement in the West Bank…

Besides the protests an open letter in support of Israel was sent to the Prime Minister of New Zealand:

Over two dozen pro-Israel groups and hundreds of individuals in New Zealand have penned a letter to Prime Minister Bill English strongly criticizing his government’s support for last week’s United Nations Security Council resolution targeting Israel.

“We are ashamed of the role of New Zealand in this travesty and feel betrayed by our government,” the joint letter states. “New Zealand partnered with Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela to sponsor the resolution, countries which do not share our liberal Western values. The resolution has been praised by Islamic Jihad and Hamas. This is nothing to be proud of.”

The letter to English — signed by 27 organizations, including the New Zealand Jewish Council, Zionist Federation of New Zealand, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem New Zealand and B’nai B’rith New Zealand, in addition to 900 Jewish and non-Jewish private individuals — said the country’s actions in the Security Council have brought “ignominy” on New Zealand.

“It [the resolution] has caused opprobrium among international commentators, calls for boycotts of our goods by supporters of Israel around the world, and demands for an end to our burgeoning relationship with Israel, from which New Zealand has more to gain economically,” the letter stated.

“As Prime Minister, we believe it is incumbent upon you to make a public statement on the Resolution and its implications,” the letter said, before calling on English to meet with the undersigned.

A letter-writing campaign was also organized and sent to the Hawkes Bay newspaper. Some of the letters at the link are against Israel, but many are in support, including from Pastor Woodley and John McCormick himself.

John McCormick also wrote an op-ed in yesterday’s Hawkes Bay newspaper (associated with the NZ Herald) in which he correctly asserts that direct negotiations are the only way to bring peace:. He brings up the outrageous UNESCO resolution denying any connection of Jews to Jerusalem as well as Resolution 2334:

I wonder just how well thought out UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (UNSC2334) was.

Its implications are far reaching. The immediate coverage and comment by Murray McCully and US Secretary of State John Kerry was all about settlements, but that’s not the most important part of the resolution.

New Zealand policy since 1947 has been based on that year’s UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181, which allowed for the establishment of a Jewish State and an Arab State (those actual names). The Jews declared the State of Israel; the Arabs spurned the opportunity for their state and invaded Israel.

UNGA181 said Jerusalem and environs, including Bethlehem, should be an international city. Reality was different, with the city divided by war after the Arab invasion in 1948. The ceasefire agreement with Jordan allowed for Jewish access to their Holy sites in the Old City. Not once did Jordan honour the agreement to allow Jews to visit the Temple Mount and Western Wall in the 19 years of its control from 1948 to 1967.

This failure to honour the agreement by Jordan has been part of the reason New Zealand has always supported the internationalisation of Jerusalem, but even this is not achieved with UNSC2334 – half of it is handed to the Palestinians and Jerusalem once more becomes a divided city.

Unesco actions in denying historical fact over Jerusalem just adds to the problem. The October 2016 Unesco Executive Board resolution defines Jerusalem as exclusively Muslim. This applies to all parts of the city including Christian sites and churches, not just the Temple Mount and the Old City.

The New Zealand Government has not condemned Unesco for its denial of historical fact. This along with its vote for UNSC2334, which denies Jewish residential status in the city Jews have been associated with for 3000 years, has turned NZ’s long standing policy on its ear.

He goes on to list all the historical facts: the Palestinian incitement and terror campaign against Israel; Israeli withdrawals and concessions; and reproaches the UN for its multiple one-sided anti-Israel resolutions.

He draws the entirely correct conclusion:

So where to now? On January 3 on Palestinian TV Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi, said: “We have refused and still refuse to say that Israel is a Jewish state.” The PLO was formed in 1964 when there was no Israeli occupied territory.

So until there is a Palestinian leadership that accepts Israel as the Jewish State nothing much will happen.

Murray McCully and Prime Minister Bill English need to justify their new policy:

1. Towards the Temple Mount and Holy sites;
2. To Jerusalem city and its status;
3. Future final borders in any peace deal.

Direct negotiation, not resolutions by the UN or Paris conference, is the best way forward.

One has to wonder why something that is so clear to the ordinary layman is so difficult to understand for politicians like McCully and John Kerry.

Huge kudos and thanks go to John McCormick, Pastor Nigel Woodley and all the hundreds of supporters around New Zealand, Christians, Jews, Muslims and of no religion, who go to such efforts to defend Israel, to give support where and when it’s needed, and who generally express their love for our country so warmly. Kol hakavod to all of them.

Posted in indigenous rights, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Elor Azaria case and the implications for the IDF

Elor Azaria with his mother in court on the day of his conviction

Elor Azaria with his mother in court on the day of his conviction

In my previous post reference was made to the Elor Azaria case (you can read about the original incident in this article), in that some of the soldiers hesitated to shoot at the attacker for fear of becoming “Azaria II”. This was refuted by other soldiers on the scene but the accusation still hangs in the air.

In short, Elor Azaria is an IDF soldier who last year shot dead a wounded Palestinian terrorist at point blank range after the terrorist was already disabled and on the ground. Azaria claimed the terrorist moved and he thought he might have a bomb strapped to him. The incident was filmed by that treacherous group B’tselem, and Israeli politicians could not restrain themselves from jumping into the fray, expressing opinions with little thought to the consequences of their big mouths.  I have little doubt their importune condemnations influenced the judges in Azaria’s case to a certain extent. Last week the verdict was handed down: guilty.

I have only written in passing about the Elor Azaria case because I couldn’t make up my mind who was in the wrong and who in the right.  Did Azaria take the law into his own hands? Yes. Was he justified? Maybe. Did the politicians speak out of turn? Many of them did. Did the IDF brass have verbal diarrhea? In many cases, yes again. In the end I think the reality is a lot more complex than the simplistic and bombastic headlines make out, and everyone is partly right and partly wrong.

For some excellent reading on the case, see Abu Yehuda on the Elor Azaria Verdict:

It’s important in this connection to note why the incident became a media circus. The shooting was videotaped by an activist for the left-wing NGO B’tselem and the tape shown over and over by the media. What would probably have been a simple matter – one way or the other – became a national affair….

Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter and conduct unbecoming of an IDF soldier.

The judges did not believe him, and the judgment was unrelievedly harsh. They rejected every one of his points of defense. They did not accept his explanation that he was afraid the terrorist had an explosive vest or that he was reaching for a knife. They found contradictions between various versions of Azaria’s story, and said that he appeared to be changing his story as he went along in order to improve his case. They gave significant weight to testimony that Azaria said “he stabbed my friend, he deserves to die” to another soldier immediately before the shooting. They did not accept arguments from a psychiatric panel that he suffered from PTSD or that he was significantly impaired by lack of sleep or other factors. They accepted the autopsy data that it was Azaria’s bullet that caused the terrorist’s death (and rejected the opposing view of former chief pathologist Yehuda Hiss, who did not examine the body). They did not credit the statements of several reserve generals who testified on Azaria’s behalf. Finally, they decided that the shooting was not merely an error,  but demonstrated “criminal intent.” Criminal intent!

I didn’t hear a word of excuse or understanding. The judges agreed with Chief of Staff Eisenkot and former Minister of Defense Ya’alon that the shooting was entirely unjustified. Had he been accused of murder, I believe that Azaria would have been convicted of that as well.

Among the most troubling aspects of this case were the statements condemning Azaria’s act made by Eisenkot, Ya’alon, other officers, and even PM Netanyahu (who later changed his tune) immediately after the B’tselem video was made public. Eisenkot and Ya’alon later said that it wasn’t the video that convinced them, that they already had received evidence from the chain of command – but surely it had something to do with their making public statements of this sort (in the US, this would be grounds for appeal).

Indeed, this is where everything went off the rails. Elor Azaria should have had a hearing with his commanding officer, and maybe gotten a weekend of guard duty and an explanation of the rules. Instead, thanks to a video camera probably bought with European money, another kind of soldier, one fighting the cognitive war against Israel, threw the nation into chaos. As usual, we walked right into this.

The distinction between law enforcement and war becomes blurred when terrorists are stalking us – and especially our soldiers and police – in the streets, with every day bringing reports of stabbings and vehicular attacks, as was the case when Azaria killed his terrorist. No, Azaria’s wasn’t a split-second decision where hesitation could be fatal, as the court noted, but our soldiers and police do face such decisions on a daily basis. Could not this verdict deter them from taking action in a situation that isn’t so clear-cut?

Soldiers don’t make good policemen anyway. They are trained to kill the enemy, not to detain suspects who have rights. Enemy soldiers in a firefight don’t have rights.

And we mustn’t forget that in the eyes of our enemies in today’s asymmetric war, no Jew in the Land of Israel, from a baby to an 80-year old grandmother, has a right to live. Possibly if the nation had an official death penalty for terrorism, soldiers wouldn’t feel the need to take the law into their own hands.

In this kind of war, is the principle that a terrorist deserves to die a bad one?

Caroline Glick drew some chillingly prescient conclusions from the trial and verdict in her column The IDF’s new social contract:

Over the years, the public’s growing awareness of B’Tselem’s unwavering hostility went hand in hand with its growing distress over what was perceived as the IDF’s willingness to sacrifice the safety of troops to prevent it from receiving bad press.

For instance, in 2012, a film went viral on social media that showed a platoon of combat engineers fleeing from a mob of Palestinians attacking with rocks, Molotov cocktails and slingshots.

When questioned by reporters, the soldiers said that they had repeatedly asked their battalion commander for permission to use force to disperse the crowd and they were repeatedly denied permission.

Retreat was their only option.

In 2015, another film went viral showing a group of Palestinian women hitting and screaming at a soldier trying to arrest one of them for throwing rocks at his platoon. He did nothing as he absorbed the blows. And no harm came to the women who assaulted him.

Along with the films, came stories that soldiers on leave told their friends and family about the IDF’s rules of engagement. The tales were always the same. The rules of engagement are so restrictive that all initiative is placed in the hands of the enemy. Not only can terrorists attack at will. They can flee afterward and expect that no harm will come to them, because what is most important, the soldiers explain, is to ensure that IDF maintains its reputation as the most moral army in the world.

This was the context in which Azaria killed the wounded terrorist.

The films of fleeing soldiers and the rules of engagement weren’t the only signs of our military leadership’s estrangement.

There were also the promotions given to radical lawyers to serve in key positions in the Military Advocate-General’s unit, and the red carpet treatment given to radical leftist groups like B’Tselem that were dedicated to criminalizing soldiers and commanders.

Since the shooting in Hebron, the General Staff’s treatment of the public has become even more disdainful.

Ya’alon and Eisenkot and his generals have repeatedly offended the public with comparisons of “IDF values” with alleged processes of barbarization, Nazification and ISIS-ization of the public by the likes of Azaria and his supporters.

Azaria is the first victim of a General Staff that has decided to cease serving as the people’s army and serve instead as B’Tselem’s army. The call now spreading through the Knesset for Azaria to receive a presidential pardon, while certainly reasonable and desirable, will likely fail to bring about his freedom. For a pardon request to reach President Reuven Rivlin’s desk, it first needs to be stamped by Eisenkot.

A pardon for Azaria would go some way toward repairing the damage the General Staff has done to its relationship with the public. But from Eisenkot’s behavior this week, it is apparent that he feels no need and has no interest in repairing that damage.

As a result, it is likely that Azaria will spend years behind bars for killing the enemy.

Moreover, if nothing forces Eisenkot and his generals to their senses, Azaria will neither be the last nor the greatest victim of their betrayal of the public’s trust.

And for clarity you can’t do better than Evelyn Gordon who wrote of the IDF’s self-inflicted wound:

In conversations with friends shortly after the incident, it was this that most infuriated them and aroused their sympathy for Azaria: They felt that the men in charge of the army, whose job was to ensure that any soldier suspected of wrongdoing receives a fair hearing, had instead rushed to judgment against him in order to appease a hostile world after B’Tselem made its video public. Moreover, they wondered whether Azaria could even receive a fair trial when the two men who must sign off on promotions for every senior military police officer, prosecutor and judge had already made it clear that they expected a conviction. Under those circumstances, would military justice officials risk their careers by exonerating Azaria if the evidence justified it?

But by immediately and publicly condemning Azaria – instead of saying, as the army usually does, that his conduct must be deemed unacceptable if proven, but meanwhile, the case is under investigation and the military justice system should be allowed to work without interference–they created an appearance that the deck had been stacked against the soldier. And since most Israelis weren’t following the minutia of the court hearings, that initial impression is what remained: In response to a video released by an irredeemably hostile organization, and whose authenticity had yet to be proven, the two men who headed the army had declared Azaria guilty even before the investigation began.

Based on the evidence, I see no reason to think Azaria was in fact convicted unjustly. But from the start, Eisenkot and Ya’alon created the appearance of injustice by routinely speaking out against Azaria when they should simply have kept silent and let the military justice system do its work. The result is that now, many Israelis still aren’t certain Azaria was convicted fairly, and that has translated into overwhelming support for an early pardon.

This case has sowed devastating distrust of both the army’s leadership and its justice system among a large section of the Israeli public. Yet much of that distrust could have been avoided had Ya’alon and Eisenkot simply kept their mouths shut. That neither man proved capable of doing so is a damning indictment of them, and a tragedy for Israel.

And on Sunday we saw the results of this betrayal of trust.  At least from certain angles of the CCTV videos of the truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem, armed IDF soldiers were afraid to shoot at a terrorist in the act of committing his act of murder for fear of being accused and taken to trial like Elor Azaria.

Something is really rotten in the State of Israel, at least at the political level of the military brass.

Posted in Incitement, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

4 killed in Jerusalem truck-ramming terror attack; as usual Palestinians celebrate

True to the spirit of the day, Asara BeTevet, the 10th of Tevet, one of the saddest days in the Jewish calendar, a Palestinian terrorist took the Israeli-licensed truck that he himself was licensed to drive, and rammed it into a group of off-duty soldiers on the Talpiot Promenade, killing four of them and injuring dozens more.   In shockingly brutal fashion, he then reversed his truck round and ran over the victims once more.

A truck rammed into a group of soldiers on a promenade in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem, killing at least four of them, in a vehicle-ramming attack on Sunday afternoon, police said.

The truck used by a Palestinian terrorist to kill 4 soldiers in Jerusalem

The truck used by a Palestinian terrorist to kill 4 soldiers in Jerusalem

Police chief Roni Alsheich called the incident a vehicular terror attack.

The soldiers were getting off a bus at the promenade, a popular tourist spot in southern Jerusalem, when a large flatbed truck ran into them.

At least 16 more people were injured, two of them very seriously, according to Jerusalem hospitals.

The four soldiers — three women and one man — were later named as Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel (20) of Givatayim, Cadet Shir Hajaj (22) of Maaleh Adumim, Cadet Shira Tzur (20) from Haifa, and Cadet Erez Orbach (20) from Alon Shvut.

According to police, the terrorist accelerated as he struck the group.

Eyewitnesses said that after the driver hit the soldiers with his truck, he put the vehicle in reverse and ran over them a second time.

Footage of the incident taken from a security camera showed the truck run into the group of soldiers as they stood next to a bus. The driver then attempts to turn the truck around and run over the group again as people scramble for cover.

Warning! Graphic video follows:

The driver of the vehicle was shot by both soldiers and by a civilian guide, police said. He died of his wounds.

“In a fraction of a second during which I was speaking with one of the officers, I saw the truck plowing into us. After a few rolls on the grass I saw the truck start to reverse and then I already understood that this was not an accident. I felt that my pistol was still on me, so I ran up to him and started emptying my clip. He went in reverse and again drove over the injured,” the guide, Eitan Rund, said.

The heroic guide asks – and answers – a very pertinent question:

Speaking to Israeli television, Rund questioned why soldiers hesitated, he said, before turning their own weapons on the driver. “I have to ask why it took a 30-year-old civilian to fire first,” he said, “when there were well-armed officers” present. He asserted that last week’s conviction for manslaughter of soldier Elor Azaria, who shot dead a disarmed, injured Palestinian assailant, was “definitely” a factor in the ostensible hesitation.

This answer, and the ostensible evidence in the video above, should be a shame for the IDF, and testament to the insidiousness of the delegitimization campaign against Israel and any attempts at self-defence by the IDF or even civilians.

However, an IDF investigation refutes the initial impression of fleeing soldiers, and says that the cadets did indeed open fire at the terrorist:

An investigation conducted by the IDF following Sunday’s murderous truck attack at the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem has found that a number of cadets opened fire at the terrorist, at which point one of the commanders ordered the rest of the cadets to take cover and stay away from the scene.

The investigation comes amid allegations that the soldiers who were at the scene were afraid to shoot at the terrorist who perpetrated the attack, in which an officer and three cadets were murdered.

There were hundreds of soldiers in the area when the attack occurred, about to take part in an educational program about Jerusalem as part of their training. The Haas Promenade, where the attack took place, overlooks the historic City of David. Surveillance footage showed many of the soldiers running away from the scene after the attack began.

On Sunday evening, however, Noam Kadar, a cadet who was present at the scene of the attack, rejected those allegations and said that the soldiers’ running from the terrorist had nothing to do with the Azariya case.

“Please stop listening to unsubstantiated reports by those who run to publicize rubbish and distorted information. Please stop spreading views which are based on baseless lies. Please stop trying to sell psychological explanations about what went on when I saw a truck run over my friends. OK?” Kadar wrote on Facebook.

“Don’t any of you dare to compare a semitrailer driving at 100 kilometers an hour (60 miles an hour) to a terrorist lying prone. Nobody was scared to shoot, people were scared to be run over because a terrorist had run amok with murder in his eyes,” she added.

No one can judge these soldiers or anyone else in the vicinity until they have been in their shoes.

The four victims of the attack will be laid to rest tomorrow:

One of the soldiers murdered in the ramming attack which occurred today in Jerusalem has been identified as 20-year-old Erez Orbach of Alon Shvut in the Etzion Bloc (Gush Etzion) south of Jerusalem, a cadet at the officer’s training school.

Cpl. Erez Orbach HY'D

Cpl. Erez Orbach HY’D

Corporal Erez Orbach Hy”d (may G-d avenge his blood) is the son of Keren and Uri Orbach, the oldest of six children. After studying at the Neve Shmuel Yeshiva High School in Efrat, part of the Ohr Torah Network headed by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, he went to study at the Hesder Yeshiva in Maalot and enlisted for his army service.

After his death his rank was raised posthumously to Second Lieutenant. He will be laid to rest Monday at 11 A.M. at the Kfar Etzion cemetery.

Shira Tzur Hy”d, 20, of Haifa, a cadet at the officer’s training school, was also raised posthumously to the rank of Second Lieutenant.

Shira Tzur HY'D

Shira Tzur HY’D

Second Lieutenant Shir Hajaj Hy”d, 22, of Maale Adumim, was posthumously raised to the rank of First Lieutenant. She will be laid to rest Monday at 2 P.M. at the Har Herzl Military Cemetery.

Shir Hajaj HY

Shir Hajaj HY”D

Second Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel Hy”d, 20, of Givatayim, was posthumously raised to the rank of First Lieutenant.

Yael Yekutiel HY'D

Yael Yekutiel HY’D

May their families be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May their memories be for a blessing.

ה’ יקום דמם. יהי זכרם ברוך

And as usual, our sick “peace partners the Palestinians” went out to celebrate the “heroism” of their “martyr”, handing out sweets and setting off fireworks.

Molly Livingstone posted on Facebook:

As though the tragedy and terrorism is not enough…here is the expected celebrations in the Arab village, Jabul Mukabar next door. This is the village the terrorist came out of today, and where many terrorist before him. Notice the police booth on the edge of my neighborhood, just to the right are the homes that have been attacked since the war in the summer of 2014. They have endured endless nights of riots, molotov cocktails, rocks and these celebrations.

The cycle doesn’t end until you choose to celebrate life and not death.

Please share to choose life with me.

#IsraeliLivesMatter #IAmHere #ArmonHanatziv #MyHome #Jerusalem #Survivors #LifeIsBeautiful

The terrorist’s sister is “thankful for his martyrdom” and in Gaza they were handing out sweets:

Israel’s public security minister says we won’t return the terrorist’s body to his family but (bla bla bla) I’ll believe it when I see it. Lately I have zero faith in any Israeli politician.

But I have even less faith in the Palestinian leadership which shows not the slightest tendency towards a wish for normalization, or even the slightest sense of humanity. When an act of cold blooded murder can be celebrated by their citizens with the active encouragement of their political leadership, how can anyone talk about peace? Or have the gall to blame the lack of peace on Jewish houses in Judea and Samaria?

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Good News to start the week

To make up for the lack of a Good News Friday post yesterday, here is some good news to start the week (despite tomorrow being a fast day).  (My apologies for yesterday’s last-minute crisis posting. The immediate crisis is over but this looks like it might turn into a longer-haul issue.)

Following on from the delegitimization campaign against Israel in the UN, led by our ostensible “friends”, it is hugely gratifying to learn that despite the boycott campaing, business is booming in Judea and Samaria:

In the Shahak industrial zone in northern Samaria 100 dunam have already been sold before the end of development, reveals Oz Damari, manager of the zone.

Rony Khoury, director of the Barkan industrial zone where 160 factories are located, says that there is a waiting list of 60 factories currently seeking to enter the industrial zone.

Shteinitz and Dagan visiting Shachak (Roei Hadi)

Shteinitz and Dagan visiting Shachak (Roei Hadi)

Due to increasing demand it was recently decided to establish another industrial zone in Samaria named “Nachal Rabba – Sha’ar Shomron”, to be located near the communities Sha’arei Tikva and Oranit, just a 15 minutes drive from the center of the country, closer than the Barkan industrial area.

The new industrial zone will be spread over 3,200 dunam (790 acres) and is expected to accommodate advanced manufacturing and hi-tech. The industrial zone will be owned by the Samaria Regional Council, the Local Council of Oranit, and the Local Council of Elkana.

Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council who promoted approval of the project’s establishment explains: “To my joy, it is absolutely clear that companies in the country are not affected by the boycott or the UN resolution. The attractiveness of industrial zones in Judea and Samaria is such that companies are unwilling to give the place up, we are unable to keep up with the demand and are constantly working to increase the industrial areas to meet the demand.”

He said, “It appears that foreign companies do not attach importance to the EU decision on the one hand, and on the other hand companies in our country are not willing to give up their cutting edge and are turning to new markets, such as Africa, India, China and others.” Dagan thanked Brig. Gen. Achvat ben Chur, head of the Civil Administration, who campaigned for the project with “professionalism and determination,” he said.

There is no need to emphasise the importance of this news, both from a purely economic angle and of course from the diplomatic and political aspect. Economics trumps politics after all!

In case anyone needs a reminder of the rich Jewish history of this land (I’m looking at you UNESCO!), another two amazing recent archeological discoveries go to prove our case.

Archeologists found more remnants of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judean Desert, not only of papyrus fragments but of other artefacts which help us understand the lifestyle of the cave-dwellers of the time:

New fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been found in the Cave of the Skulls by the Dead Sea in Israel, in a salvage excavation by Israeli authorities. The pieces are small and the writing on them is too faded to make out without advanced analysis. At this stage the archaeologists aren’t even sure if they’re written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic or another language.

The latest finds, two papyri fragments about two by two centimeters with writing and several fragments without discernible letters, were made during a three-week salvage excavation in the Cave of the Skulls this May and June by a joint expedition of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The excavations were led by Uri Davidovich and Roi Porat of the Hebrew University, together with Amir Ganor and Eitan Klein from the IAA.

Though the finds so far are small and many are from secondary dumps associated with modern looting of the caves, the excavations shed new light on human activities in the Judean Desert cliff caves. Despite the inhospitable conditions, they were occupied on and off for thousands of years, starting in prehistoric times and through the Roman period.

Hundreds of fragments of leather, ropes, textiles, wooden objects and bone tools were discovered inside the cave thanks to the aridity of the Judean desert, which preserved the organic material.

It sounds like a fascinating hoard and I’m sure it will shed more light on the way of life of certain Jewish sects at the end of the Second Temple period.

The second great find was the discovery by hikers of Second Temple-era etchings, including a Menorah, on the walls of a cave in the Judean Shephela:

Hikers exploring a water cistern in a Judean Shephelah cave had a close encounter with history last weekend, when they came across an ancient seven-branched menorah from the Second Temple period engraving on its bedrock walls.

Engraving of a seven-branched menorah found in a cistern in the Judean lowlands in December 2016. (Saʽar Ganor, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Engraving of a seven-branched menorah found in a cistern in the Judean lowlands in December 2016. (Saʽar Ganor, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Three members of the Israel Caving Club – Mickey Barkal, Sefi Givoni and Ido Meroz – said they decided to explore caves in the lowland region of South-Central Israel after hearing about their beauty off the beaten path.

“When we realized this is an ancient depiction of a menorah, we became very excited,” Meroz added. “Its appearance was quite distinct. We left the cave and reported the discovery to the Israel Antiquities Authority.”

The engraved image has a base with three feet, and depicts the menorah that stood in the Temple during the Second Temple period, the IAA said. Another engraving by the menorah included a cross, and what appears to resemble a key that is characteristic of antiquity, as well as other engravings, some of which have yet to be identified.

Additionally, adjacent to the cistern is a columbarium with dozens of niches that were used to raise doves in antiquity, the IAA said, noting that during the Second Temple period doves were used as part of the sacrificial rites in the Temple.

Moreover, according to Sa’ar Ganor, the authority’s district archeologist of Ashkelon, there are buildings and hiding refuges from the time of the Bar Kokhba uprising (2nd century CE) at the site, as well as buildings that date to the Byzantine period.

“It’s rare to find a wall engraving of a menorah, and this exciting discovery, which was symbolically revealed during the Hanukkah holiday, substantiates the scientific research regarding the Jewish nature of the settlement during the Second Temple period,” said Ganor. “The menorah was probably etched in the cistern after the water installation was hewn in the bedrock – maybe by inhabitants of the Jewish settlement that was situated there during the Second Temple period and the time of Bar Kokhba.”

The cross, Ganor said, was etched later on during the Byzantine period, most likely in the 4th century CE.

“The menorah is a distinctly Jewish symbol of the Second Temple period,” the archeologist continued. “To date, only two engravings of menorahs are known in the region of the Judean Shephelah: One on oil press at Bet Loya, where the same style menorah is depicted, and the other in a burial complex in the vicinity of Bet Guvrin. Other menorahs are portrayed on clay lamps from Beit Natif.”

Meanwhile, the hikers who discovered the engravings will receive a good-citizenship certificate, and be invited to participate in an upcoming archeological survey that the authority is conducting in the Judean Shephelah region.

Kol hakavod to the three hikers and what a perfectly timed discovery!

From the distant past to the cutting edge present and future, the Times of Israel brings us  six Israeli startups that could change your everyday life:

As any pro-Israel activist will tell you, innovators from the Jewish state have invented products and technologies you use all the time, from instant-messaging technology to Waze, the crowdsourced traffic app.

Israel’s tech scene is famously thriving, with about 5,000 startups across the country. Nearly 1,500 of those are in Tel Aviv alone — that’s one startup for every 300 residents of the city, the highest ratio in the world.

A new wave of Israeli companies is inventing more technologies to improve day-to-day life, and 16 of these innovators are in Las Vegas this week to present at the Consumer Electronics Show, one of the world’s premier technology trade shows that draws more than 150,000 attendees.

From slouch-prevention technology to a device that turns any surface into a touchscreen, here are six remarkable Israeli innovations participating in the show.

I found the following two inventions the most interesting:

In a global economy, not knowing English or another common language can be a barrier to doing business. Lexifone is an app that aims to solve the problem by making the “languages” section of your resume all but irrelevant.

Lexifone’s function is simple: It instantly translates whatever you say into the language of whomever you’re speaking to, and vice versa. So if you’re on a call to an associate in Rome, you won’t need to know anything more than “ciao” (actually you don’t even need to know that). It’s easy to understand why this would be especially useful in Israel, a country with a unique native language that few others speak. Lexifone works in 15 languages, from Arabic to Taiwanese Mandarin.

And the following technology for the hearing impaired:

As most people age, hearing loss occurs — yet Alango Technologies says only 15 percent of those with hearing loss use hearing aids. Why? Because they are often complicated to use and aren’t particularly effective.

So Alango developed HearPhones, a hearing aid technology that can be adapted to a pair of headphones, a Bluetooth set or any other external device that people often wear on their ears. By merging hearing aids with everyday devices, Alango makes them easier to manage (from an app on your phone, natch). Bonus factors: HearPhones technology also allows the device to become a Bluetooth headset or slow down rapid speech to make it easier to understand.

Kol hakavod to all the researchers and developers, keeping Israel at the forefront of technological progress anywhere in the world.

And for a grand finale, here is where technology meets humanity in an Israeli hospital – making what Israellycool calls “a huge genocide fail“:

Brought to you courtesy of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Abed and his wife Tamam from Kfar Kassam, 12 miles east of Tel Aviv, were newlyweds and delighted when she became pregnant with a girl. Then, in a routine ultrasound, the doctor saw a major problem. “It can’t be fixed,” their local doctor told them. Better to abort.

Said Abed: “We were devastated. The doctors we saw in other big centers also recommended an abortion. While we were absorbing this news, we happened to see a TV program about a baby with a similar problem who had been saved at Hadassah Hospital. We drove to Jerusalem. Dr. Dan Arbell, a pediatric surgeon, showed us photos of children with worse conditions who were now preteens and doing fine. It turns out that our baby was not in such desperate straits as the doctors had said. He gave us hope.”

Dr. Arbell, told them that Hadassah was willing to see them through the pregnancy and operate immediately after birth on their daughter.

Read the whole heart-warming story, how the birth defect was discovered, and fixed:

“The real challenge is the 2 inch hole in the abdomen,” said Dr. Arbell. “Sometimes the hole can’t be closed at the time of the initial surgery, and frequently numerous surgeries are required. We decided to make use of a plastic surgery patch called TopClosure invented in Israel by Israeli surgeon Dr. Morris Topaz, but never used on a newborn. TopClosure works by first stretching out the skin around the wound to avoid the need for skin grafts, and second by ensuring that the wound scars in an aesthetic and healthy fashion.

“We asked Dr. Topaz to join us for the surgery because we wanted to see if his invention would nurture the baby’s skin to close by itself. It worked! We are delighted, and optimistic that future surgery won’t be necessary. We are known for being willing to try to save babies whom some think are best aborted. Hence, we get three to five babies a year with serious disorders like this one. We’ll be further pioneering the use of this terrific Israeli invention.”

Said Ibtihaj’s Dad: Thank you isn’t a big enough word to express how we feel about the staff at Hadassah! You have saved our little girl and brought joy to us, our families and our whole community.”

The happy couple went home with their beautiful baby last week.

There can’t be much better news than that to start the week.

I wish you all Shavua tov, refuah shlema to those who need it, and an easy fast to those who are fasting tomorrow on Asara BeTevet.

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Shabbat Shalom

No time to post a Good News Friday installment. My apologies. Illness in the family. Looks like it is resolved, at least for Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom to all.

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