Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2 Israeli Arabs confess to starting wildfires

For the full article go to “Times Of Israel”

Police chief Roni Alsheich says arson attacks are nothing new; cops prepared to treat cases as terrorism.

Two Israeli Arabs arrested on suspicion of deliberately starting brush fires have confessed to the crimes, police reportedly told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
The suspects were said to from the Israeli Arab towns of Umm al-Fahm and Deir Hanna in northern Israel, the Hebrew-language Ynet news website reported. The report did not specify which fires the two admitted to igniting or offer details on the suspects.
While many of the fires that ravaged towns and cities nationwide since Tuesday have been caused by negligence, officials say at least some of the blazes were started by nationalistically motivated Arab arsonists and have vowed to crack down on the perpetrators.
On Sunday, officials offered assurances that the wave of wildfires that swept across the country over the past six days had mostly come to an end, at least for the time being, but fresh blazes were later reported in northern Israel.
At least 35 people have been arrested since Thursday on suspicion of setting fires or inciting others to do so. More than 15 were Palestinians arrested by the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service, an army spokesperson said. At least 10 of those held are Israeli Arabs, according to Hebrew media reports. Police did not offer a detailed breakdown of how many were being detained for incitement and how many for arson.
Police chief Roni Alsheich said Sunday that there had been similar arson attacks in the past and that they should be considered acts of terror, Army Radio reported.
“If setting the fire was deliberate it is definitely terror,” Alsheich said during a visit to the West Bank settlement of Halamish, where a fire destroyed 18 homes on Friday night. “By the way, that is nothing new, there have been arson incidents in the past. The concentration of a relatively large number of days, and the number of incidents and the weather conditions, brought about these results but there is nothing new and there were incidents like this in the past.”
Alsheich said the security services are equipped to deal with terror and hinted that Israel was prepared to employ more stringent measures if necessary.
“We have good tools for dealing with terror — we haven’t yet taken advantage of them; we will review things and if we think that the measures are lacking we will demand them… There are sufficient measures in the Israeli book of laws.”
Earlier Sunday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said there was “proof” that 17 of 110 recorded wildfires were caused by arsonists, and authorities “were still investigating the other incidents.”
Authorities estimate that since Tuesday, some 130,000 dunams (32,124 acres) have been destroyed, approximately 30 percent more than a major blaze in the forests around Haifa six years ago.
Haifa city officials said Saturday that this week’s fires torched some 28,000 dunams (6,900 acres) of land in the city since Thursday.
At least 60,000 of the city’s residents were evacuated Thursday while firefighters battled to contain a blaze that had entered a dozen of the city’s neighborhoods from the nearby Carmel Forest.
Most had returned home by Sunday morning, but an estimated 1,600 residents remained without homes. Between 400 and 530 apartments were said to be completely destroyed by the flames. Dozens of homes in other locales have also been damaged by separate wildfires during the wave.
It was not immediately clear that the motive of all the arsonists was terrorism. Israeli security officials on Saturday night gave preliminary indications that weather conditions were the prime cause of the initial wave of fires. From Wednesday and into the weekend, security officials and politicians indicated that arson was being investigated in some cases.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday there was “no doubt” some of the fires were started deliberately. “There is a price to pay for the crimes committed, there is a price to pay for arson terrorism,” he said.
The Magen David Adom rescue service reported Saturday that among the 133 people treated by the organization for fire-related injuries, one was seriously hurt and three others were moderately injured.
Throughout the week, firefighting equipment from the US, Russia, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain, Canada and the Palestinian Authority joined Israeli crews in dumping tons of water and retardants on the fires around Israel and the West Bank.
Video of the week: Wild fires rage in Israel 


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Save a Child's Heart (SACH)

Save a Child's Heart (SACH) is an Israeli-based international, non-profit organization.We are known worldwide for our commitment to saving lives by improving the quality of cardiac care for children from developing countries and creating centers of medical competence in these countries.

Save a Child’s Heart provides life-saving cardiac surgery and other lifesaving procedures at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel. Our doctors and nurses also hold preoperative and follow up cardiology clinics in Israel and abroad on a weekly basis. Save a Child’s Heart offers a comprehensive training program within Israel for doctors and nurses from developing countries, and leads surgical and teaching missions to our partner countries. To date, we have saved the lives of 4,000 children from Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, and throughout the Middle East.

By mending hearts, regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality, or financial status, we contribute to a more peaceful and productive world; a happier, healthier world, and a better world for all children, and their families.

Since 1995, SACH has treated more than 4,000 children suffering from congenital and rheumatic heart disease, from infancy to 18 years of age. The annual number of children we treat has grown dramatically from 48 cases in 1996 to over 260 in 2015.

The children we help are treated at the Wolfson Medical Center and housed at the Legacy Heritage Children’s Home of Save a Child’s Heart, both located in Holon. They come from around the globe, from 50 countries where adequate medical care is simply unavailable.
Approximately 50% of the children are from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq and Morocco, more than 30% are from Africa, and the remainder are from Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas.

Incredibly, in today’s modern age, at any given moment there are thousands of children suffering from heart disease around the world who require our assistance.

If you know a child who needs our help, please use this Guidance and Referral Form form to send us their information. 

Video of the week: Save a Child's Heart (SACH) -  


Tuesday, November 15, 2016


by Tom Gross

During the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, there have been complaints about a strain of anti-Semitism among some of Trump’s supporters and in some of the campaign advertising, as well as the hounding of certain Jewish journalists. That Trump has insufficiently condemned this is, of course, a matter of great concern.

This dispatch, however, only focuses on Trump’s likely Israel policy.

Israel is unlikely to feature prominently in Donald Trump’s presidency (compared to under other recent presidents). But to the extent that it does, it seems Trump will restore close ties between the US and Israel after some shaky relations during Barack Obama’s two terms in office over the Iran nuclear program and other issues.

Three main persons seem to have emerged as Donald Trump’s advisors on Israel.

Jared Kushner, the president elect’s son-in-law, could play a major role in the Trump administration. There are even rumors that he may be chief of staff.

As Trump met privately with President Obama at the White House this morning, Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough walked with Jared Kushner around the South Lawn.

Kushner served as Trump’s shadow campaign manager throughout the presidential race. Kushner kept a relatively low profile on the campaign trail, sometimes standing silently to the side of the stage, during big primary nights and at rallies.

Kushner is a pro-Israel orthodox Jew, married to Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism and is bringing up Trump’s grandchildren in a kosher home.

As I have reported previously in these dispatches, Kushner along with the editor of the New York Observer (which Kushner owns) co-wrote Trump’s keynote address to AIPAC earlier this year.

David Friedman, 57, is Trump’s longtime lawyer and friend. There are rumors that Friedman may be appointed as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Friedman works at the New York law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP, where several subscribers to this email dispatch list also work, including former U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman.

Trump and Friedman are quite close and Trump paid a condolence call to the family Shiva at Friedman’s parents’ home in Long Island after his father died.

Unlike some of President Obama’s advisors, Friedman has said that it is unwise for the United States to try and impose any solutions on Israel and that it is up to Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate directly to reach an agreement.

Just as the present American ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, is a friend of Barack Obama, and is close to the Israeli opposition and to leftist American Jewish groups such as J-Street, so Friedman is closer to American pro-Israel conservative groups.

He grew up in Woodmere, in Long Island, New York. His father, the late Morris Friedman, was rabbi of a Conservative synagogue in North Woodmere, and president of the New York Board of Rabbis.

Friedman is a graduate of New York University Law School, and his family are longtime Republicans.

During the 1984 presidential race, Ronald Reagan became the first sitting American president to visit to a synagogue since George Washington in 1791, when he went to Friedman’s father synagogue and afterwards to the Friedman house for Shabbat lunch.

Friedman has, on various occasions, attacked the New York Times for its coverage of Trump. During the election campaign, he wrote in the Jerusalem Post that in some of its coverage of Trump, the New York Times “has the journalistic integrity of the worst gossip rag.”

“If only the Times had reported on the Nazi death camps with the same fervor as its failed last-minute attempt to conjure up alleged victims of Donald Trump, imagine how many lives could have been saved,” said Friedman

The third main Trump advisor on Israel is Jason Greenblatt, who serves with Friedman as co-chairman of Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee.

Greenblatt, 49, is the chief legal officer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization.
Greenblatt, an observant, yarmulke-wearing real estate lawyer, was educated at Yeshiva University and New York University School of Law, and lives in Teaneck, New Jersey.

He is friends with several subscribers to this email list, who tell me he is “a mild-mannered, soft-spoken family man, more liberal than Trump”.

Greenblatt also runs a parenting blog with his wife, Naomi, a psychiatrist who focuses on women’s mental health issues. They often write about “teaching their six children ethics and integrity”.
During the presidential campaign, Trump came under fire for tweeting and then deleting an image that many found anti-Semitic (a six-pointed star next to a picture of Hillary Clinton, overlaying images of money). In response, Greenblatt wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post arguing that Trump has always been respectful of his many Jewish friends and employees, and had encouraged Greenblatt to take time off work to observe the Sabbath. He said that the star was a sheriff’s star, not a star of David.

Unlike Trump, who during the campaign took a very hard-line on immigrants and refugees, Greenblatt, the son of Jewish refugees from Europe, has written positively about his immigrant heritage, saying that America had given “refuge” to his family members, who “benefited tremendously by being able to raise the next generation in freedom.”

It will likely be some time before Trump appoints members of his cabinet. But the three persons who are believed to be top of Trump’s short-list for secretary of state all have strong pro-Israel records.

They are: John Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2005-2006 in the George W. Bush administration. As long ago as 1991, Bolton played a key role in the successful U.S. effort to revoke the notorious U.N.’s “Zionism is racism” resolution while assistant secretary for international organization affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration.

Another possibility for secretary of state is Newt Gingrich, who served as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995-1999. Gingrich is a staunch supporter of Israel and has repeatedly criticized the Palestinian Authority for refusing to compromise and negotiate with Israel in recent years.

A third name in the running is Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker has said that the Obama administration “got fleeced” on the Iran deal. Corker criticized Obama for giving up on “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, and for effectively allowing Iran, “to move from having its nuclear program dismantled to having its nuclear proliferation managed.”

Tom Gross adds: I think Hillary Clinton, had she become president, would also, on the whole, have been pro-Israel, and more so than Barack Obama. But Israel was not (and nor should it have been) a major issue in this campaign.

Video of the week: Mike Pence gives direct message to Israel-


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hands off Jerusalem's neighbourhoods!

For the full article go to: JPOST EDITORIAL \ 11/05/2016
The expansion of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods to accommodate the city’s growing population is a matter for the municipality.

Last week’s latest US State Department condemnation of Jerusalem’s decision to approve new housing for residents of its Gilo neighborhood should not be shrugged off as just another routine example of its ongoing obtuseness regarding Israel’s sovereign capital. Its timing so close to the American election and the uncertainty of President Barack Obama’s intentions during the interim before his successor’s inauguration raises the question whether this does not in fact herald the approach of yet another unnecessary confrontation between our countries.

Amid a growing international campaign by the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions Movement to delegitimize Israel, the State Department’s continuing refusal to acknowledge simple facts of history must be taken in the same context of denying Israel’s legitimacy.
Last Wednesday the Jerusalem Municipality approved the addition of 181 housing units for the capital’s southwestern neighborhood of Gilo, home to some 40,000 mostly Jewish residents. In July, the US, EU and UN criticized Israel for plans to build there as counterproductive to – non-existent – peace negotiations for a future Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem.

The municipality’s approval was swiftly condemned by State Department spokesman John Kirby, who has previously said such a decision “raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.” As he added Wednesday, “We strongly oppose settlement activity.”

Housing construction in a long-established Jerusalem neighborhood – Gilo was founded in 1973 – cannot by definition be located in a “settlement.” But the meaning of words doesn’t matter to the European Union as well, which said the decision to build in “the settlement of Gilo, built on occupied Palestinian land in east Jerusalem, undermines the viability of a two-state solution.”

Almost half a century since Israel reunited its bitterly divided capital city – divided, like Berlin once was, by war – the media ignorantly parrot the Palestinian narrative that claims east Jerusalem as its future capital, as if the section of the city that the invading Arab Legion captured and which Jordan occupied for 19 years had been an historic entity. Consistent with this warped view, the foreign media insistently refer to Jews living in the heart of their historic capital as “settlers.”

They capitalize the term “East Jerusalem” as if it were a historical fact, like the erstwhile East Berlin. In simple truth, it is an ideology-driven, but geographically impossible term, especially with regard to Gilo. The capital’s southernmost neighborhood is on the other side of town from the area misnomered as “East” Jerusalem. Purchased by Dov Joseph for the Jewish National Fund during the 1930s, Gilo was once indeed occupied territory: it was Jordanian-occupied Israeli territory from 1949 to 1967, after which its Israeli sovereignty was restored.”

One country stands out in its defense of truth from those who seek to delegitimize Israel: Australia. Its attorney- general told the Senate last week that Australia will no longer refer to east Jerusalem as “occupied” territory. “The description of east Jerusalem as “Occupied East Jerusalem” is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful,” George Brandis said.

For three millennia, Jerusalem has been the capital of only three native Jewish states – Judah, Judea and Israel.

Jews have constituted the majority of Jerusalem’s residents since the pre-Zionist 19th century.

In contrast, Palestinian Arabs have not ruled Jerusalem for a single day. Arab dynasties have ruled it temporarily, between 638 and 1099, under the Ottoman Empire, and under the Jordanian occupation between 1949 and 1967.

Political influence over language is also reflected in the use of the term “West Bank.” In the best of rainy seasons, the Jordan River is only a few meters wide. The claim that its western bank extends for some 65 kilometers, encompassing Judea and Samaria, demonstrates how politicized terminology drives the ongoing conflict. In fact, the Jordanian government marketed the term in the 1950s in an attempt to legitimize its occupation of the region.

Before Israel’s War of Independence, the British Mandatory authorities referred to the region as Judea and Samaria.

The expansion of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods to accommodate the city’s growing population is a matter for the municipality. It is not the concern of third parties such as the US State Department, which would be doing all of us a favor by simply studying the facts.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Britain’s self-inflicted wound

Full Article - Jerusalem Post, By ANNE HERZBERG \ 10/31/2016

It is beyond hypocrisy for the UK to complain about the abuse of its legal system at home, while funding the very same campaign against Israel.

On October 4, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that, during times of armed conflict, the UK would suspend application of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The move was prompted by what May described as an “industry of vexatious claims” against British soldiers for alleged misconduct during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon added that the UK’s “legal system has been abused to level false charges against our troops on an industrial scale.”

The “industry” in question consists of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and lawyers that zealously seek to prosecute British troops, while largely ignoring the terrorist organizations and their financial and material backers to which the military is responding.

There are currently more than 2,000 “lawfare” cases pending in the UK, and hundreds of complaints were referred to the International Criminal Court.

Reportedly, the British government has already spent more than $120 million on such matters.

It is not surprising that the British government took such a decisive step to protect its soldiers. Radical activists have long favored the use of courts to constrain counter-terror operations, micro-manage military decision making, and harass military and political officials from Western countries. For some utopians, this is seen as a means of banning warfare altogether.

And, as noted, the scale of the litigation in the UK has reached overwhelming proportions.

Ironically, for more than a decade, the UK has served as a primary location for similar campaigns targeting Israelis, and the British government has actively supported these NGOs with tens of millions of pounds to implement their agenda.

Palestinian political NGOs such as the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Haq and Al Mezan, and their British attorneys badger Israeli officials traveling to the UK by seeking arrest warrants for bogus war crimes charges. While these efforts are largely designed for propaganda impact and none has advanced in the courts, many high level meetings and diplomatic engagements in the UK have been disrupted as a result. For instance, in July, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni was served a police summons for suspicion of involvement in “war crimes” in Gaza due to anti-Israel activists, leading to tensions between Israel and the UK. Of course, the same fringe activists eagerly targeting Israelis have never lined up at the magistrate’s door to obtain warrants when Palestinian officials or other terrorism-linked individuals come to London.

Many of these organizations have enjoyed British government largesse, either directly or via the European Union. Between 2005 and 2009, PCHR, in partnership with OxfamNOVIB (based in the Netherlands), received nearly $330,000 from the EU ostensibly to campaign against the death penalty. PCHR used this funding for legal strategy sessions for contemporary and future universal jurisdiction cases singling out Israeli officials involved in military operations against Hamas. British courts were just one of the venues where PCHR routinely sought arrest warrants against Israeli officials.

The UK is also the primary financial backer of “vexatious claims” on an “industrial scale” in Israel itself.

Since 2011, Britain has funneled a staggering $20 million in taxpayer funds to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and local NGOs, which in turn have flooded Israeli courts and administrative bodies with lawsuits.

The scope of NRC’s interference in the Israeli legal system, thanks in part to the UK government, is unprecedented.

With its government financing from the UK, EU and Norway, the NRC has funded more than 4,000 cases in Israel, according to official documentation.

These cases have included some of the most controversial and contentious issues relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Epitomizing this abuse, in a public presentation an NRC-affiliated lawyer commented that the strategy behind the UK-funded project is to undertake “every possible legal measure to disrupt the Israeli judicial system... to increase the workload of the courts and the Supreme Court to such an extent that there will be a blockage.”

It is beyond hypocrisy for the UK to complain about the abuse of its legal system at home, while funding the very same campaign against Israel. The UK has now had a taste of its own lawfare medicine and is reacting accordingly

Will its leaders now realize the immorality and absurdity of wholesale funding for lawfare attacks that target Israelis seeking to protect citizens from terrorism? The author is the legal adviser of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research organization and the author of NGO ‘Lawfare’: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab Israeli Conflict.

Video of the week: Can a Desert Nation Solve the World's Water Shortage?