Friday, November 17, 2017

  • Friday, November 17, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Palestinian Media Watch reported last week:

For almost a decade, the Palestinian NGO Defence for Children International - Palestine (DCI-P) has unjustifiably been accusing Israel of breaching the rights of Palestinian minors who are arrested on suspicion of committing terror attacks. Most recently, DCI-P launched a campaign in the US and in Canada under the title "No Way to Treat a Child", whose goal is "to challenge and end Israel's prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system."

Among other baseless claims, DCI-P argues that the Palestinian minors are arrested, interrogated in breach of all of their rights, prosecuted and sentenced to prison terms.

A recent interview with DCI-P's Accountability Program Director Ayed Abu Qteish on official PA TV, shows that the claims made by his own organization are false. Abu Qteish explained that Palestinian minors do in fact commit terror attacks, and they do it, not necessarily because they want to attack Israelis, but in order to enhance or maintain their status in Palestinian society.

Ayed Abu Qteish: "There are children who, when they were in prison, told the lawyer: 'I want to be imprisoned.' The first time [the child] was imprisoned, he didn't confess, and they released him because there was no evidence to convict him in the Israeli military court. The second time, there was no evidence either. The third time, he wanted to be imprisoned so that his image won't be hurt in the eyes of his friends, even though he is actually innocent... In several cases [Palestinian children] carried out stabbing operations because of the way the public looks at them. They realized 'the best way to clear myself of this image [of helping Israel] is to participate in resistance operations.'"
[Official PA TV, Personal Encounter, Oct. 11, 2017]
 PMW correctly points out that this interview shows that, contrary to DCI-P's claims, Israel does not unjustly convict kids.

But I think the most important part of this is the sheer hypocrisy of DCI-P. They claim to "defend" Palestinian children's rights, but they have nothing to say about a society where the kids are brought up to hate. To lionize stabbers and suicide bombers. To aspire to martyrdom. To gain social status by becoming terrorists and criminals.

One would think that the defense of children would include a mention of these actual things that can incarcerate, injure or kill children. But DCI-P is not an organization that cares about helping children, it is only meant to attack Israel under the pretext of helping children.

It is a shame that most people cannot tell the difference.

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  • Friday, November 17, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Yesterday I wrote about an absurd article in Arab America about how Arabs feel that Israeli Jews are engaging in cultural theft by incorporating "Palestinian" foods in their cuisine. For some reason, Polish or Russian or Moroccan foods are not "cultural theft" when Israelis eat them - but "Palestinian" foods are.

Now, I read that there was a conference on “Israeli Cuisine as a Reflection of Israeli Society” in Washington  yesterday - and the same absurd accusations, and more, were made by moronic Israeli leftists who participated.

From JTA:

[A]ppropriation was very much the theme of the next panel, “Israeli-Arab Food Politics.”

“There is a lot of politics behind the food you eat,” said the moderator, Johanna Mendelson Forman, who teaches a course at American called Conflict Cuisine: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table. “The kitchen has become the venue of new foreign policy.”
The three social scientists on the panel — Nir Avieli, Ronald Ranta and Ronit Vered, all Israeli Jews — advanced the theme that there was an original sin to Israeli cuisine: the repression of its origins among Palestinians.

Some of their arguments were salient and recognizable to anyone who has lived in Israel. For instance, there’s the tendency for Israelis to refer to “Arab cuisine” — and not Palestinian — although there are dishes adopted by Israelis that are specifically indigenous to Palestinians, such as maqloubeh, a meat, rice and vegetable concoction. (Solomonov is an adamant exception and refers to an indigenous Palestinian cuisine that he has incorporated into his repertoire.)
It is hard to research the origins of certain foods. Maqloubeh is generally regarded nowadays as "Palestinian" but not universally - some people say it is Iraqi. Some say it is Jordanian.  A version of the dish (same name which means "upside-down," , different recipe) was in a 13th century Baghdad cookbook. Is it such a crime to refer to dishes like these as "Arab?" It seems far more accurate, not an attempt to "erase" a culture.

On the contrary, the impression I get is that giving the "Palestinian" label to foods nowadays is far more of a political statement than Israelis referring to them as "Arab."

Other arguments from the academics, however, seemed a tad overeager to make a point about Israel and colonialism. Ranta, a lecturer on international relations at Kingston University in London, decried the “denial of an Arab Palestinian contribution” among Israelis to their cuisine, saying that the argument that many Jews of Middle East origin were likely to already be acquainted with the dishes was a “glaring example” of this denial.
Um....half of Israelis come from Sephardic parents.  Going back to maqloubeh - they certainly ate it before Israeli chefs incorporated it in their menus.

These guys are nuts.

But the self-hating Israelis reach the height of absurdity here:

Avieli, the president of the Israeli Anthropological Association, said that pizza was the most popular food in Israel, suggesting it was because Israelis despise their neighbors and long to be European.
“They are in the Middle East, what can you do? Where they would like to be is southern Italy,” he said.
Yes, the president of the Israeli Anthropological Association claims that Israelis liking pizza means they long to be in Italy and despise where they live.

It takes an academic to say something so breathtakingly stupid.

And notice how the deranged hate of Israel manifests itself: When Israelis like Arab food, it is to culturally appropriate/steal it. When Israelis like non-Arab foods, it is because they hate Arabs.

The only hate that is evident at conferences like this is the hate against Israeli Jews.

The idea that people eat foods because they taste good is apparently way too difficult to digest for self-hating Israeli "scholars."

How these halfwits manage to draw salaries for their scholarship is truly a mystery.

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  • Friday, November 17, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

The 2016 FBI hate crime statistics are out, and as in every year, anti-Jewish incidents dwarf all other anti-religious incidents - combined.

684 of the 1273 anti-religion incidents were against Jews.

Anti-Muslim incidents have gone up significantly in the past few years, though. 381 of the incidents were anti-Muslim. That number is more than double the 154 in 2014. (The antisemitic incident number in 2014 was 609.)

Breaking down the incidents further, anti-Muslim incidents tended to be much more violent than anti-Jewish incidents. 127 of the anti-Muslim incidents were assault (aggravated or simple), as opposed to  73 of the anti-Jewish incidents.

On the flip side, the antisemitic incidents were concentrated in destruction/damage/vandalism (489) and intimidation (238).

I read this to mean that Muslims are more likely to become the victims of sudden rage when someone sees a recognizably Muslim person in the street, while Jews are much more likely to be the victims of those who want to target the larger Jewish community by targeting synagogues and Jewish cemeteries.

The FBI doesn't look at the religion of the offender, only the race, so it is not clear how much of the anti-Jewish crime is done by Christians or Muslims or anyone else.

It is interesting that the relative uptick of anti-Muslim crimes follows the warnings of "Islamophobia" we were hearing about in years past when such crimes were far less prevalent. Cause and effect are not easy to distinguish, but it is almost like the warnings of Islamophobia are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

From Ian:

Evelyn Gordon: U.S. Jews and Israel’s Right to Be Heard
The growing divide between Israeli and American Jews was a major topic of conversation at this week’s annual meeting of the Jewish Federations of North America. It was also the topic of a lengthy feature in Haaretz, which largely blamed the Israeli government. Inter alia, it quoted former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro as saying, in reference to that majority of American Jews who identify as non-Orthodox and politically liberal, “There is an idea that has some currency in certain circles around the Israeli government that says, ‘You know what, we can write off that segment of American Jewry because in a couple of generations their children or grandchildren will assimilate.’”

I agree that the idea of writing off this segment of American Jewry has some currency in Israel. But in most cases, it’s due less to fantasies about liberal Jews disappearing than to a belief that Israel will have to do without them whether it wants to or not, because liberal Jews can no longer be depended on for even the most minimal level of support. And by that, I don’t mean support for any specific Israeli policy, but for something far more basic: Israel’s right to be heard, by both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.

Nothing better illustrates this than recent decisions by two campus Hillels to bar mainstream Israeli speakers from addressing Jewish students. At Princeton, it was Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, and at Stanford, it was a group of Israeli Arab veterans of the Israel Defense Forces. I can understand Hillel refusing to host speakers from the radical fringes. But how are Jewish students supposed to learn anything about Israel if campus Hillels won’t even let them hear from representatives of two of the country’s most mainstream institutions – its elected government and its army?

Both Hillels later termed their decisions a “mistake” – most likely under pressure from Hillel International, whose CEO, Eric Fingerhut, was the lead author on Princeton Hillel’s apology. But that doesn’t change the fact that at two leading universities on opposite sides of the country, the Hillel directors, both non-Orthodox rabbis, initially thought canceling the speeches in response to progressive students’ objections was a reasonable decision. Princeton’s Julie Roth thought it completely reasonable to deny her students the chance to hear an official Israeli government representative try to explain the government’s policies. And Stanford’s Jessica Kirschner – backed, incredibly, by the university’s “pro-Israel” association – thought it completely reasonable to deny her students the chance to hear from non-Jewish Israelis who don’t agree that Israel is an apartheid state.
Ben Shapiro: BDS is Antisemitism

A Leftist Crank on Fox News
There was no pushback from Carlson, usually known for his spunky, combative style. Nor did he bother to present a charitable version of the opposing argument. In the Washington Post, Brookings fellow and COMMENTARY contributor James Kirchick has written a strong brief for why the U.S. should make it harder for RT to access American airwaves. Yet I’m not quite persuaded of the wisdom of such restrictions. I worry about opening the door, even an inch, to government regulation of broadcast speech, even if that speech comes from an adversarial, autocratic regime. Perhaps such moves make sense in small, fragile, Kremlin-endangered states that lack a robust indigenous media. But in the U.S., with its large and diverse media market, the best antidote to Moscow’s lies is truthful reporting.

But never mind all that. What Blumenthal wanted to talk about were the real sources of malign foreign influence in Washington: the Jews. Or as Blumenthal put it to Carlson, “the Israel lobby and organizations like [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], which have been promoting a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, war on Lebanon, war on Iran, which is [sic] not required for some reason to register as a foreign agent, and I don’t why that is.”

Carlson didn’t offer a single critical note in response to any of this. Instead, he went on to underscore Blumenthal’s points, raising a knowing eyebrow here and there as his guest cast the pro-Israel lobby–a domestic, small-“d” democratic movement reflecting a broad opinion consensus among U.S. voters–as equally if not more malign than Putin’s infowar operations. And Blumenthal said all this, unchallenged, not on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now–but on Fox News.

The Blumenthal interview followed an earlier segment, in which Carlson approvingly quoted Noam Chomsky to the effect that American democracy represents a form of “manufactured consent”–i.e., that it is merely a more subtle form of dictatorship than those found in obviously unfree societies. I wonder: Which icon of leftist crankery will Carlson elevate next? Naomi Klein? Slavoj Zizek? The ghost of Howard Zinn? Tune in to Fox to find out.

  • Thursday, November 16, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Reading about Israeli political victories through the eyes of Israel-haters who are not used to having the tide turned against them is a lot of fun.


Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy

By Romana Rubeo and Ramzy Baroud
A proposed law at the Italian Parliament is set to punish the boycott of Israel. In the past, such an initiative would have been unthinkable. Alas, Italy, a country that had historic sympathies with the Palestinian cause has shifted its politics in a dramatic way in recent years. Most surprisingly, though, the Left is as implicated as the Right in the rush to please Israel, at the expense of Palestinian rights.

The sad reality is this: Italy is moving to the Israeli camp. This is not only pertinent to political alignment, but in the reconfiguration of discourse as well. Israeli priorities, as articulated in Zionist hasbara (official propaganda) have now become part of our everyday lexicon of Italian media and politics. As a result, the Zionist agenda is now part and parcel of Italian political agenda as well.

Italy’s anti-Fascist, anti-military occupation and revolutionary past is being overlooked by self-serving politicians, growingly beholden to the pressures of a burgeoning pro-Israel lobby.

The pro-Israel trend has been in motion for years. In a famous interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot in 2008, former Italian President Francesco Cossiga declared: “Dear Italian Jews, we sold you out”.

Cossiga was referring to the so-called “Lodo Moro”, an unofficial agreement, which was allegedly signed in the 1970’s by Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro and the leaders of The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP). Its understanding supposedly allowed the Palestinian group to coordinate its actions throughout the Italian territory, in exchange for the PLFP keeping Italy out of its field of operation.

The “Lodo Moro” is often used in Israeli hasbara to highlight Italy’s supposed failures in the past, and to continue associating Palestinians with terrorism.


In 1974, the Italian government advocated for Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat’s participation in the United Nations General Assembly; in 1980, it committed to the EEC Declaration of Venice, which recognized the Palestinian ‘right to self-determination’ and, expectedly strongly opposed by Israel and the US.

Throughout the 1980’s, the attitude of Italian government was openly pro-Palestinian, which often lead to foreign policy clashes with Israel and its American benefactors, especially during the so-called Crisis of Sigonella in 1985.

During a speech at the Italian Parliament, socialist Prime Minister, Bettino Craxi, went as far as defending the Palestinian right to armed struggle.

In 1982, the Italian President Sandro Pertini talked at length about the horror of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre in his traditional end of the year address to the Nation.

While center-left political forces supported Palestine to keep good relations with Arab countries, left-wing parties were mainly motivated by the anti-imperialist struggle, which then resonated within Italian intellectual circles.

But things have changed as Italy is now living in its ‘post-ideological age’, where morality and ideas are flexible, and can be reshaped as needed to confer with political interests.

Today, left-wing parties don’t feel the need to stand for oppressed nations. They are too beholden to the diktats of globalization, and are thus driven by selfish agendas, which, naturally brings them closer to the US and Israel.

While neo-liberal politics has ravaged much of Europe in recent years, Italy proved that it is not the exception.

In October 2016, Italy abstained from the vote on the UNESCO resolution, condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestinian East Jerusalem.

Even that half-hearted move angered Israel, promoting the Israeli ambassador to Italy to protest. The Italian prime minister moved quickly to reassure Israel.

Matteo Renzi spoke harshly of UNESCO’S proposal. “It is not possible to continue with these resolutions at the UN and UNESCO that aim to attack Israel”, he said.

One year earlier, Renzi had officially reaffirmed Italy’s commitment to Israel in the Israeli Knesset, declaring: “Supporters of ‘stupid’ boycotts betray their own future”.

During his inaugural speech, Italy’s current President Sergio Mattarella addressed the ‘menace of international terrorism’ by mentioning the attack in front of The Great Synagogue in Rome, in 1982. His words “deeply touched Italian Jews”, according to the right-wing Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post.

Zionist groups constantly try to sway Italian public opinion. Their strategy is predicated on two pillars: infusing Israel’s sense of victimhood (as in poor little Israel fighting for survival among a sea of Arabs and Muslims) and injecting the accusation of anti-Semitism against anyone who challenges the Israeli narrative.

The hasbara instruments are working, as Italian politics and even culture (through the media) are increasingly identifying with Israel. Worse still, the pro-Israel feeling is now completely accepted among left-wing political parties as well.

According to Ugo Giannangeli, a prominent criminal attorney who devoted many years to defending Palestinian’s rights, the Italian Parliament is working on several laws, with the sole purpose of winning Israel’s approval.

One of these initiatives is Draft law 2043 (Anti-discrimination act. It ought to be called the Anti-BDS act. The signatories compare boycott of Israel to “disguised anti-Semitism”. If approved, the legislation would provide exemplary punishment for BDS campaigners.

Among the signatories is Emma Fattorini, member of the Italian Democratic Party and also member of the “Committee for the protection and promotion of human rights”. Palestinian rights, are of course, of no concern to Fattorini at the moment since it appears nowhere in her ‘human rights’ agenda.

Another signatory is Paolo Corsini, who abandoned the Democratic Party and moved to left-wing party MDP – Articolo 1. Corsini was also the rapporteur of the “Agreement between Italy and Israel on public safety”, already ratified by the Italian Parliament. The agreement strengthens the relationship between the two countries at a more effective way, in exchange for Israeli sharing of information on public order and how to control mass protests.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

Right now, today, is a critical point in Jewish history. Maybe you don’t think so, because it’s easy to be distracted by the small stuff. But we need to step back and look at the forest instead of the trees.

Israel, a Jewish state reborn after almost two millennia, is facing a real threat to its survival – perhaps as great or greater than at any time since 1948. The threat is from Iran, which a) has taken control of Lebanon and built a massive rocket and missile installation aimed at our critical infrastructure, b) has achieved strategic dominance of critical territory in Iraq and Syria, will soon have its own troops and proxy militias on our Syrian border as well (with the acquiescence of the US and Russia), and c) either already has or could presently have nuclear weapons.

Iran’s enmity to Israel is a result of religious dogma, and of Iran’s determination to dominate the Mideast and become a world superpower by defeating the US. In the past few years it has moved steadily toward its strategic goals, which include eliminating the Jewish state that it sees as both an outpost of the US and the major obstacle to its local ambitions.

Some day historians will ask why an American president, Barack Obama, did so much to help one of America’s most dangerous enemies – and also to hurt the Jewish people. But that’s not my subject today.

At the same time that the Iranian threat grows, there is a pandemic of Jew-hatred spreading throughout the world. Europe at times seems to have regressed to pre-WWII conditions or worse, with Jews caught between re-empowered right-wing Jew-baiting, fierce Islamic hatred, and left-wing “intersectional” antisemitism. Similar phenomena exist in the US, although less severe so far – except possibly on university campuses.

But while some European Jews are starting to worry about their future, in America and in  Israel – where they absolutely should know better – they are acting irrationally, busying themselves  with trivia or even doing exactly the opposite of what’s needed to ensure their survival and that of the Jewish state and people.

To European Jews – and here I include the UK – I have a simple message: get out. The natives don’t like you (they never did, as Herzl noticed), and Islamification is proceeding apace. It can’t get better, only worse. I would like to see you make aliyah, but I understand the economic realities, and also the risk from the coming Mideast war. This is a decision you will have to make yourselves.

The US and Canada together have about half the world’s Jews, 90% of these are non-Orthodox, and the majority of them don’t have a clue about Jewish history or the Jewish state and the conflicts and issues surrounding it. They are geographically far from the Middle East, and can’t read Jewish texts or anything else in Hebrew. For most of them, their Judaism has become attenuated and even replaced by a form of liberal humanism that makes them blind to the dangers they face and drives them away from the Jewish state.  For these Jews I have several messages, depending on which of several groups they fall into.

To the supporters of J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now, the New Israel Fund, and so on: if you still have positive feelings about the Jewish people, please believe me that you are not doing it any favors, and find some other cause – helping the homeless in your own country is a good one – that will allow you to feel good about yourself without hurting your people.

To those who think that it is their duty to make Israel a better place by activism on behalf of Jewish pluralism, improving the treatment of our Arab citizens, protecting the rights of illegal immigrants or Palestinians, or even promoting the (impossible) “two-state solution:” please understand that you know less than nothing about these issues; and the fact that your parents were Jewish does not give you the right to intervene in our affairs. If you want to change things here, then make aliyah, vote, and send your kids to the army. Otherwise leave us alone.

To those that think that they are making things better by engaging in interfaith dialogue with Muslims, fighting “Islamophobia,” and favoring increased immigration from Muslim countries, you are being used. Don’t complain when the US and Canada have the same problems as Europe.

And now some suggestions for my fellow Israelis, for whom ignorance is not an excuse.

If you are the Prime Minister  you should be meeting with the Chief of Staff and insisting that he develop a plan and a timetable to fight and win the inevitable war with Iran and its proxies. Waiting to see what will happen and then responding is not a strategy for victory: preemption is.

If you are the Minister of Defense, in addition to assisting in planning for the unavoidable war, you should be directing massive resources toward strengthening the home front, especially in the north of the country, which will bear the brunt of Hezbollah’s 130,000 rockets when war breaks out.

If you are the police commissioner, you should investigate the seditious publisher of Ha’aretz Amos Schocken, his poison-pen writer Gideon Levy, or the arguably treasonous Breaking the Silence organization, rather than engaging in politically-motivated harassment of the Prime Minister and his wife.

If you are a Member of the Knesset, you should ask yourself whether the “status quo” concerning whether markets should be open on Shabbat in Tel Aviv is really a question that is worthy of your time right now.

The world and especially the region that we live in is undergoing great strategic shifts, and their direction is not to our advantage. It seems as though events are driven according to the plans of Iran and Russia, and we are playing defense.

Israel is a powerful country, but one with little strategic depth or capacity to absorb a surprise attack. The coming war promises to be extremely destructive, both for us and for our opponents. In addition to conventional warfare, it will see cyber attacks and possibly the use of electromagnetic pulse weapons.  Even the employment of nuclear weapons by one or both sides is not unimaginable.

Israel must be ready to win the “kinetic” war, the cyber battles, and the psychological warfare that will come along with them, while protecting her population and infrastructure. Not an easy task – but one that requires focus and unity of purpose. There are few obvious signs of this.

Of course I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. Maybe the PM is sitting with the Chief of Staff every day (after his regular police interrogation). Maybe they are working to ensure adequate shelters for the population in the north of the country. Maybe Schocken is planning to close his “newspaper” and move to Germany.

Most importantly, maybe the courageous decision has finally been made to launch a preemptive attack and not wait for thousands of rockets to fall.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
From Ian:

Benjamin Netanyahu: Regime cares more about hating us than helping Iranian people
Israel cares more for the Iranian people than its own government does, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday in a video message he issued from Jerusalem.

In the short message he repeated an offer that was initially made on Tuesday night to provide relief and technical assistance to regions in Iran and Iraq impacted by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck Sunday evening.

The most severe such quake in a decade, it left at least 445 people dead and injured more than 7,000.

“I saw mothers and fathers searching for their children, children buried under the rubble from this horrible earthquake. As a father, as an Israeli, as a Jew I wanted to help,” he continued.

“That is why yesterday I instructed that Israel offer medical aid via the Red Cross to victims of this disaster. Israel has no quarrel with the people of Iran. We never have. Our only quarrel is with the cruel Iranian regime, a regime that holds its people hostage, a regime that threatens our people with annihilation,” the premier clarified.

Case closed: Breaking the Silence spokesman lied
The Deputy State Prosecutor decided in coordination with the State Attorney to close the investigation against Breaking the Silence spokesman Dean Issacharof.

The investigation was opened after Issacharoff said in a video that he had beaten an Arab during his military service in Hevron. The comments had been made to highlight alleged human rights abused by the IDF Breaking the Silence claims take place in Judea and Samaria.

However, the investigation revealed that the events described by Issacharoff "did not happen at all."

The State Attorney's office said in its decision: "During the interrogation, the suspect was questioned, messages were taken from the suspect's company commander during the relevant period, and various investigation materials were collected. From all the evidence, it appears that the incident described by the suspect is suitable for only one incident, in which a Palestinian named Hassan Giulani was arrested in February 2014.

During his interrogation, Issacharoff did not deny the statements made by him, adding details about the date and circumstances of the incident in question. The suspect even noted that "I had to use force to stop him" and that it was not possible to handcuff the Arab without the use of force.

In his statement, Giulani confirmed that he was arrested after throwing stones at the soldiers, as the suspect described. However, Giulani denied that his arrest was accompanied by any kind of violence on the part of the soldiers, except for the use of force to handcuff him, which was required in view of his resistance to the handcuffing. Giulani claimed he was not beaten, not bruised, did not bleed, did not feel dizzy and did not pass out.

The investigation further revealed that Giulani had filed no complaint over excessive force during his arrest, and that there were no indications of any wounds or injuries to Giulani's body. In addition, Giulani's testimony matched that of Issachoroff's commanding officer, and not that of Issachoroff.


Dear people of Sutherland Springs, 

I am writing to you, from Israel, to tell you that I see you.

Half way around the world, with enough worries of our own, it was heart-breaking to hear of the devastating shooting in your community.

We know what it means to have our loved ones ripped from us.

I see you. I see your pain. I see the children who no longer have parents. I see the parents who yearn for their children but will never again have the luxury of embracing them or reading them a bedtime story. Who will watch other children grow up, knowing that theirs should be the same age, be having similar experiences but, instead, are a memory, frozen in time.

I see the kids who want to play with friends who are no longer alive. I see cousins, uncles, grandparents, friends who are left behind, not knowing how to go on living when other family members, other friends are dead.

I see gaping holes that can never be filled. Lives lost, love lost.

And those who are left behind, injured in body, hurting in soul. A community, like a person trying to get warm under a blanket only to discover that the blanket is full of holes…

I see you.

An insane, sick murderer is not the same as the ideological terrorists who attack us and yet, what is experienced by those left behind, is very similar. We know your pain. 

When people from abroad hear about attacks on my people they often see agenda, not people. They see politics, not humanity. Similarly, in your case, I saw the media jump on the issues of gun control, NRA and religion, whether or not Stephen Willeford is a hero (he acted heroically, all real heroes say that they are not heroes. Many, like Stephen, mourn those they did not manage to save). Much focus is put on agendas and very little attention to the people behind the headlines...

I am writing you to say that I see you.

I see decent, God fearing people, who just want to live their lives the best way they know how – just like us. I see people who would have preferred no one ever heard of their little town, if only they could have their loves ones back – just like us. 

I also see something else. I see opportunity.

You cannot control what happened to you. You do not have the power to turn back time and undo this horror. But, at the same time you are not powerless.

You have a power that seems lost to much of America. You have love. You have each other.

While people who live in other towns and cities do not know their neighbors, you already know yours well. You know how to look beyond self-interest, beyond the walls of your own home, to reach out to help a neighbor in need, to make your community a better, stronger, kinder place.

To you, We the People, still means something.

I am not writing to tell you how to deal with this tragedy. From everything I have read about your community, I believe your hearts and your faith will lead you to do what is right.

This horror will not divide you, instead it will make you stronger.

While the gaps in your individual families cannot be filled, it is possible to step closer to each other as a community. To be there for those who no longer have the ones they wish were there. Parents who lost children can do wonders for the children of others, children who no longer have their parents. Friends can do amazing things for husbands and wives who no longer have their spouse to rely on.
No murderer can break you. Only lack of love can do that.

I am writing you to say that your tragedy is also an opportunity. By being who you are, you provide a shining light to the rest of the Nation. My people are those commanded to be a “Light to the Nations.” We do our best to fulfil this task by being the best we can be, by returning darkness with light, by deliberately infusing happiness and positivity in the places where our attackers tried to create sorrow and horror. By living and living well, when others wish us dead.

You can do the same. 

Today, the USA seems enshrouded by darkness, division and anger. This makes America weak and a weak America makes the world more dangerous (believe me, I know). I pray the people of America look to you and remember what it means to be decent, regular folks who look out for each other.
This may just be the moment when you are the most powerful you have ever been, could ever be.
Dear people of Sutherland Springs, I see you. I see your pain and I see your light.

I pray for your injured to be healed, for your bereaved to find comfort and that the people of America see what I see when I look to you.

Blessings from Israel,

Forest Rain

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
  • Thursday, November 16, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
J-Street, led by J-Street U, started a new campaign this week called  "Stop Demolitions, Build Peace."

Acting exactly like any anti-Israel organization, J-Street U is "partnering" with six Arab communities in the West Bank to protect them from Israel demolishing illegal structures.

So for example, one of the communities being partnered with is Jabal al-Baba, a village I cannot find listed in the comprehensive Survey of Western Palestine indicating that it is not an ancient village at all. In August, Israel was accused of destroying a kindergarten there - but in reality it was an illegally erected shed that had never been in use.

Another community that J-Street is partnering with is Susya, which is simply an illegal village created after "occupation."  It didn't exist in 1999.

The slick video that J-Street produced for this effort claims, falsely, that Israel demolishes Arab communities and then builds Jewish settlements on the same areas.

J-Street falsely says in the video, "The Israeli government is engaged in a process of 'creeping annexation' in the West Bank. Central to this trend is the systematic demolition of Palestinian communities in the West Bank to make way for more Israeli settlements."

If there have been no new settlements built in decades, then what Arab communities have been destroyed and replaced by Israel?

If you consider Area C to be occupied, then Israel has the obligation under international law to uphold zoning laws on the land, although security concerns trump other considerations - again, under international law. When Israel demolishes a structure that was illegally built, it is following international law, not spurning it. The Palestinian Authority would do the exact same thing.

And Israel isn't destroying any communities unless they were set up illegally - in recent years - to begin with.

J-Street is once again shown to be completely anti-Israel, anti-international law and anti-truth.

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  • Thursday, November 16, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

There is a documentary making the rounds called "In Search of Israeli Cuisine."

From watching the trailer, it is clear that the chefs and experts in the film readily acknowledge the influence of the cuisine of the Arab world as influencing Israeli cuisine, even going so far as pointing to hummus and calling it "Palestinian" - which is of course absurd.

“Yemenite, Palestinian, Iraqi, Moroccan, Russian, Turkish… I don’t even know- how many countries are represented in one place,” says renowned chef Michael Solomonov as he points to an array of salads and appetizers that are ubiquitous to Israeli restaurants.

An Israeli baker says “Food is not political. It is what is grown on this land by the people who are living in it. If they are called Palestinians or Israelis, I don’t think the tomato cares.”

Arab America is very upset. To them, Israeli cuisine is political and even Israeli chefs admitting the influence of "Palestinian" food culture is cultural theft.

This statement coupled with calling Palestinian food “Israeli” though meant well, blatantly ignores the ethnic notions of what it means to be a Palestinian in Israel or the occupied territories. And though Solomonov might want food not to be related to politics, it is impossible and unrealistic to expect it to be so. Because food is a part of the culture and Palestinian culture is under attack in Israel, food can and does inherently become political.
Setting aside that Palestinian culture is essentially a myth, the experts in the film are elevating it beyond what it deserves to be - putting it on par with every other culture.

Komarovsky’s statement and Solomonovo’s movie do not take into account the inequalities Palestinians face in Israel which whitewashes Palestinian suffering. By calling Palestinian food in particular, Israeli, one justifies these actions and appropriates Palestinian cultures that the Israeli government tries so hard to destroy. At the bottom of this debate is the idea of privilege and who holds it in a society. Privilege is the invisible advantage and unearned benefits which are given to dominant and powerful groups because of identity traits.
This paragraph is a neat piece of hypocrisy. At the same time of asserting, without any evidence, that the Israeli government is trying to hard to destroy Palestinian culture (Israel has museums dedicated to Arab culture) the writer reveals that she doesn't admit that there is anything that can be considered Israeli cuisine. Because the chef mentioned many countries as contributing to Israeli cuisine, but this Arab writer does not accept that Israel has created a new and vibrant cuisine over 70 years. It isn't Jewish - it is Israeli.

So the only person denying a food culture is the Arab, not the Israeli Jew.

While Michael Solomonov and his associates did not consciously make the decision to participate in this cycle of oppression of Palestinians, it is something that happens automatically in privileged circles that interact with aspects of oppressed groups. The effect is the same. Because of the ethnic cleansing involved with the Palestinian people, Israeli words, and sentiments about Palestinian culture matter.
Where exactly is the ethnic cleansing of a people who didn't exist a hundred years ago and now say they are 12 million strong? A people who literally would not exist if Israel wasn't created?

The complaints given to the film are so over-the-top (and creative) that one wonders what Palestinians could accomplish if they spent one tenth of the effort they give towards being pissed off to doing something constructive.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

From Ian:

Why Many American Jews Are Becoming Indifferent or Even Hostile to Israel
All told, the two Jewish communities of the United States and Israel constitute some 85 percent of the world’s Jews. Although other communities around the globe remain significant for their size or other qualities, the future of world Jewry will likely be shaped by the two largest populations—and by the relationship between them. For that reason alone, the waning of attachment to Israel among American Jews, especially but not exclusively younger American Jews, has rightly become a central focus of concern for religious and communal leaders, thinkers, and planners in both countries.

True, other concerns have lately encroached: concerns in both countries, for instance, over the Trump administration’s still-developing stance toward the Israel-Palestinian conflict and, in the U.S., over a seemingly homegrown series of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism and bomb threats against Jewish institutions (most of the latter exposed as the work of a disturbed Israeli Jewish youth). But the larger worry—American Jewish disaffection from Israel—remains very much in place, and its reverberating implications were underscored during the waning days of the Obama administration, when by far the greater portion of American Jews stayed faithful to the president and his party even after his decision to allow passage of an undeniably anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations.

What explains the growing distance between many American Jews and the state of Israel? Two recent books ventured answers to that question, and both authors basically agreed that the problem lay with Israel, a country that had fallen out of sync with the progressive movement of history. To Michael Barnett in The Star and the Stripes, while most American Jews embrace “a political theology of prophetic Judaism” and exhibit “cosmopolitan longings,” Israel is “increasingly acting like an ethnonational state.” To Dov Waxman in Trouble in the Tribe, the movement of the Jewish state in an “increasingly illiberal” direction has forced young American Jews to “turn away . . . in despair, or even disgust.” Making a similar point was a newspaper column by the veteran Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas, aptly titled: “Sorry Israel, U.S. Jewry Just Isn’t That into You.” The reason, wrote Pinkas, was “the reality of decades of Israeli occupation” of Palestinian Arabs, compounded by “the dismissive, inconsiderate, and [at] times arrogant Israeli attitude toward [American] Reform and Conservative Jews.”

Not everyone has laid the blame on Israel, to be sure. Arguing explicitly to the contrary, Elliott Abrams in Mosaic located the source of the divide not in Israel’s policies or political culture but rather on the other side of the equation: the changed makeup of American Jews and American Judaism. Specifically, he pointed to the loosening of once-powerful communal bonds, as evidenced by the high rates of intermarriage and the move away from Jewish religious affiliation. In a published response to the Abrams essay, I added another factor: the gradual erosion of communal memory, especially of the Holocaust era and the history of the state of Israel itself.
Evelyn Gordon: The Red Cross Destroys the Laws of War Making War More Deadly
The International Committee of the Red Cross, self-appointed guardian of the laws of war, has embarked on an exciting new online project: destroying the very laws it ostensibly seeks to protect. Of course, the ICRC would put it differently; it would say it’s teaching the laws of war. The problem is that the “laws” it teaches aren’t the actual laws of war, as codified in international treaties, but a made-up version that effectively denies countries any right of self-defense against enemies that fight from positions inside civilian populations. And it is thereby teaching anyone unwilling to concede the right of self-defense that the laws of war should simply be ignored.

When Israel Hayom reported on the “Don’t Be Numb” project last week, it sounded so outrageous that I suspected reporter error. But the project’s website proved even worse.

The website has four sections – “behavior in war,” “medical mission,” “torture” and cultural property.” But the big problem is the first one, which consists of three questions users must answer correctly to receive a “medal of integrity.”

Question number one: “You’re a military commander. The enemy is hiding in a populated village across the front line. Can you attack?” The correct answer, according to the website, is “no.”

This is simply false. The laws of war do not grant immunity to enemy soldiers simply because they choose to hide among civilians, nor do they mandate avoiding any military action that might result in civilian casualties. They merely require that civilians not be deliberately targeted (the principle of distinction), that reasonable efforts be made to minimize civilian casualties, and that any such casualties not be disproportionate to the military benefit of the operation (the principle of proportionality).

The second question was, “What if you know for a fact that many civilians would be killed? Can you attack?” Since the ICRC had already ruled in the first question that attacking populated villages is never permissible, I’m not sure what purpose this question served; it would only make sense if the answer to the first question had been “yes” and this were a follow-up meant to explore the limits of the license to attack populated villages. But let’s ignore that incongruity and examine the question on its own merits.

The ICRC’s answer, of course, was “no.” But the correct answer is “insufficient information.” As noted, the laws of war don’t prohibit civilian casualties as collateral damage of a legitimate military operation. They do, however, require that such casualties not be disproportionate to the military benefit, and the question doesn’t supply the information necessary to determine whether this attack would be proportionate. For instance, how many civilian casualties does “many” actually mean – 10? 100? 1,000? Even more important, what price will your own side pay if it doesn’t attack? For instance, how many of your own civilians might be killed if you don’t stop the enemy’s rocket and mortar fire?
The Moral Case for High-Tech Weapons
Spurred by the digital revolution and pressured by Western moral standards about protecting innocent life, advances in battlefield technology have fundamentally changed the way we fight wars. Armies can now use pinpointed weapons to minimize civilian casualties. They can fire missiles at a single apartment in a crowded building, can identify the car of a terror cell leader and monitor it until it passes into an isolated area and be destroyed with a drone, and can use cyber tools to remotely disable weapons systems without ever dropping a bomb.

In short, precision weapons offer a more moral way to target enemies and their military assets, especially when non-state fighters use urban settings and civilians to shield themselves. These weapons, and their wise employment on the battlefield, are developments we should largely praise and sustain, even as important questions remain about how to employ them lawfully and about the true extent of their reduction of civilian casualties.

Many of the weapons that make precise combat possible have their origins in Israel. The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower, penned by Israeli journalists Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot, recounts how and why the small state has developed such advanced weaponry. The book largely takes the form of narrative ­­nonfiction rather than an essay or a policy report, telling a series of stories about how “Israeli chutzpah” grew the country into a military technology hub.

It was Saturday night. My son's laundry was sweet and clean, dry, and folded into a neat, solid square pile on the sofa. On top of this pile was a plastic ice cream container, repurposed, and filled with fresh-baked Toll House cookies, the hot, buttery aroma of which still lingered in the air. I remarked to my husband that I felt good: I'd done everything possible to take care of my son, to pamper him and give him a nice break from the hard work of soldiering.

There is satisfaction in that, I said to my husband, and it is felt on more than one level. I'd done my duty as a mother, been good to my child. But I'd also done whatever I could for an IDF soldier. We do love our soldiers, here in Israel. And when you help them, you're helping your country.

That was the heart of the thing: a love of sons, and a love of country, expressed in the most practical of terms.

How lucky am I, to be a mother of sons who serve my beloved country? I get to spoil IDF soldiers.

I get to spoil my sons.

Already on Wednesday, my son had written to ask if I'd make apple pies for Shabbos. I'd done that and more. I made fresh tehina sauce and roasted garlic for him to have with homemade sourdough challah. I prepared his favorite sweet and sour brisket and my famous mashed potatoes.

In between cooking tasks I got right down on the floor with his dirty laundry, to pretreat and make sure nothing important was left behind in his pockets. This might have been a disgusting task to someone else, but to me, it was an honor, the clothes having been anointed with the sweat of an IDF soldier. Soldier stench is an honest stench. Especially when that soldier is one who defends Eretz HaKodesh, the Holy Land.

When our soldier sons have leave, we, my husband and I, are doing everything we can to give them a break from the stress, to help them in any way possible. One week, my son came home after a grueling hike of many kilometers. He limped into the house. He had chafe. His feet were covered with blisters.

Not knowing what else to do, I took my prized bottle of Aveeno bath soap from America, and made a little foot bath for him. "Wow. That smells so good. What is that?" and then nothing more after that except a moan of pleasure that escaped his lips as his feet sank into the hot and foamy scented water. His enjoyment of this small gesture suffused my own heart with joy.

There is nothing I wouldn't do for him, or for my other boys in their service.

My husband, meantime, does what he can to give them rides to and from the Central Bus Station, quite a distance from our home. Yes. They could take the bus home. But they are tired, the boys. And they are carrying packs that are incredibly heavy. It's a backbreaking weight. And we Epsteins are kind of small.

The truth is that while Dov can ill afford the time away from work, not to mention the extra burden at the end of a hard week, those rides are important. The boys and Dov have come to call this time "road trip." They connect, father and sons. It's good for Dov and good for the boys. They talk army.

The boys know their father was in the army too, once upon a time. They feel comfortable talking with him about operations and army tactics. It's like a debriefing for them. And Dov gets to learn new tidbits from the seemingly bottomless well of IDF acronyms.

Aside from the road trips and guy time,  Dov tries to put aside spending money for them to take back with them, too, though the boys receive a small salary for their services. We don't want them to spend their money. We want them to save it for after the army, if they can. Money is tight with us, but we do the most we can to help them.

Weeks the boys don't come home, we miss them so. It's lonely and too quiet without them. We miss their goofing around, their hilarious impressions of celebrities. We wish they hadn't volunteered to stay on base over Shabbos.

At the same time, we're proud they went the extra mile, volunteering to do more than their share for their country. We worry about them. We scour the news and try to calculate the distance from where we know they are situated, to trouble spots making the news.

One has just finished serving, one is still in, and the third goes in next year.
You never think that your tender newborn baby is going to grow up to be a soldier. And when it happens, you find your love for them fair explodes in your heart. They look so handsome in their uniforms, raised on the soil of Eretz Yisroel, tanned, fit, and strong in olive green.

You want them to be safe.

And there really isn't anything you wouldn't do for them.

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