Monday, March 31, 2014

J Street’s hypocrisy must be exposed

J Street’s 'Big Tent’ is open only to one side - the anti-Israel and BDS-supporting hard left of its own position; pro-Israel centrists are censored.

By Alan M. Dershowitz

JStreet HypocrisyJ Street, the American organization that calls itself pro-Israel and pro peace but that always seems to be taking positions that are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, is asking America’s Jewish leadership to have a big tent and to open its doors to J Street. While I generally support that position, it is imperative that J Street’s hypocrisy be exposed. J Street insists that all major pro-Israel organizations be open to speakers who favor opposing views—such as supporters of the BDS movements, supporters of the single secular binational state approach, and those who oppose Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

In the abstract, this open tent policy seems commendable. We should be committed to the open marketplace of ideas in which views prevail on their merits not on the basis of exclusion.

Now let’s see how J Street itself fares with regard to an open tent policy. It has categorically refused to allow speakers like me, who oppose J Street’s policies on Iran and other security matters, to speak to its members at its conventions. I have repeatedly and persistently sought an opportunity to present my perspective—which is shared by many American supporters of Israel—at the J Street convention, or at other events officially sponsored by J Street. When J Street invites BDS supporters and those oppose Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people to speak at its events, it claims that it does not necessarily support these positions, but it believes in encouraging its members to hear views that are different from its official positions. That is total nonsense. J Street only wants people to hear views to the anti-Israel hard left of its position. It categorically refuses to allow its members to hear views that are more centrist and more pro-Israel, such as my own.

Continue reading.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interactive map of Israeli startups

Interactive Startups

Here is a neat interactive map of Israel's startups, as well as other relevant contacts for those who want to create/invest in/research startups in Israel.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

UK Universities Minister Rejects Academic Boycott of Israel

In a visit to Hebrew U., Minister of State for Universities and Science seeks to dispel 'misperceptions' about UK hostility to Israel.

By Ari Soffer for Arutz Sheva 7

Britain's Minister of State for Universities and Science has sought to dispel misperceptions that UK universities were boycotting their Israeli counterparts, or that the UK is an "unfriendly or hostile place" for Israeli students.

UK MinisterDuring a visit yesterday to Jerusalem's Hebrew University, David Willetts said that such perceptions were to blame for a marked decline in the number of Israelis choosing to study in the UK.

Meeting at the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus with leaders of UK and Israeli academia, Willetts "emphatically" clarified "that there are no boycotts of Israeli academics, or Israeli students, or British-Israel academic exchanges. Those would be completely wrong, and there is no [UK] university that is boycotting Israel."

"When I try to make sense of the decline of numbers of Israeli students coming to study in Britain, I worry that part of it is the perception in Israel that Britain is an unfriendly or hostile place."

Yet in fact, he explained, the reality is very different.

"What we know from the measures that are taken is that, fortunately, Britain is one of the European countries that scores best on having very, very low anti-Semitism," he said. "Any individual example of anti-Semitism is unacceptable, but we pride ourselves on being an open and tolerant society."

The Minister invited participants to explore ways to encourage a greater exchange of students and closer academic and research links between Israel and the UK. He suggested that "we need to change perceptions [of British attitudes to Israel]" and "build closer research links and academic exchanges, which will also lead to student exchanges.”

Willetts also met with Israeli Minister of Education, Rabbi Shai Piron (Yesh Atid), and officials from the Hebrew University.

The President of the Hebrew University, Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, lauded Willetts for his efforts to increase "academic and research cooperation" between the two countries, which he said was "a hallmark of the strong UK-Israel relationship" in general.

"We continue to see a healthy appetite for collaboration between our universities, which leads not only to joint research but also to improved understanding between our nations. Through initiatives such as the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange (BIRAX) program, we are continuing to strengthen our ties for the benefit of Britain, Israel and the world," Ben-Sasson continued, and expressed hope that

British anti-Israel activists have often been at the forefront of the campaign pushing for boycotts against Jewish businesses in Israel. On the same day as Willett's visit to the Israeli capital, the UK's Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced that it would push for an international boycott of the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA).

UK university campuses in particular are often cited as hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment, but a recent Arutz Sheva report suggested that organized anti-Israel activity by students may be on the decline.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rolling Stones confirm June 4 Israel show

Legendary British band will perform in Park Hayarkon; tickets start at NIS 595

By Jessica Steinberg for Times of Israel

The Rolling Stones confirmed Tuesday that they will perform in Tel Aviv on June 4 as part of their “14 On Fire” world tour.

“It’s the first time in 35 years that I have no words to describe the enormity of this event,” said producer Shuki Weiss, who has been trying to get the renowned band to Israel for much of his career.

The concert had been rumored for months, but organizers were only able to announce the official confirmation at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

“This is a historic moment,” said Weiss, who has produced many of Israel’s largest concerts. “It’s a huge honor to bring the Rolling Stones to Israel, an honor for the country, the citizens, and mostly for the fans who have waited for this moment.”

The Rolling Stones longtime band members, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood, have been touring England and the US for the last year. The band will treat Israeli fans to some of its classic hits, including “Gimme Shelter,” “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll,” “Paint It Black,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and “Tumbling Dice.”

Continue reading.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Loyola students work to overturn divestment vote

Student government president invites pro-Israel representatives to present position at meeting Tuesday

Students at Loyola University are mobilizing to convince the president of the student government to veto a resolution calling on the university to divest from companies that do business in Israel.

Loyola StudentsThe Loyola United Student Government Association voted March 18 to call on the university to remove its holdings from eight companies that provide equipment to Israel for use in the West Bank. The vote on a measure proposed by the Loyola chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine passed 26-0 with two abstentions.

The efforts to overturn the vote are being undertaken with the support of the Jewish United Fund’s Israel Education Center and Metro Chicago Hillel, according to a statement issued by the two organizations.

Pedro Guerrero, the president of the United Student Government Association, or USGA, met with representatives of the university’s pro-Israel community and JUF’s Israel Education Center director on March 19, the day after the vote. Guerrero has 13 days from the approval of the proposal to veto the resolution.

Guerrero invited the pro-Israel students to present their position at the next meeting on March 25. He will then decide whether to uphold or veto the resolution.

The university has issued a statement saying the resolution passed by the student government is not the position of the university.

“The resolution calling for the University to withdraw or refrain from investing in certain companies providing products and services in Israel is a proposal being discussed by student government,” said the statement. “It is not the position of Loyola University Chicago and we have not adopted this proposal. As a university, we welcome open dialogue and debate on differing points of view. Proposals like this one benefit from broader campus discussion.”

If the proposal is vetoed, the student Senate can override the veto with a two-thirds majority vote. If approved, the resolution becomes the official position of the student body and is presented to the administration.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Why Recognizing Israel as 'Jewish State' Is Key to Peace

Palestinians Must Finally End Resistance to Zionism

By David Hazony for Forward Mobile
AbbasJFMIt often happens in sensitive negotiations between longtime adversaries. At a certain point they start talking in code.

Silent looks, secret words, raised eyebrows — messages only they understand. The baffled mediator stops everything and says, “Hey, what’s going on between you two?”

That’s how you know the most serious issues are finally on the table.

We have reached that moment in the talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and it is taking place around the words “Jewish state.”

Seemingly out of nowhere, questions over Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security and refugees have been eclipsed by something that seems entirely symbolic: Will the Palestinians recognize that Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people? The Israelis have declared it a deal breaker, while the Palestinians, with the backing of the Arab League, have rejected it outright.

What is the argument really about?

Symbols have a tendency to be, well, symbolic. In this case, accepting the Jewish state (rather than just a political entity called “Israel”) is understood by both sides to represent the ultimate, public and final abandonment of the long-standing explicit Palestinian goal of eradicating Israel, whether through violence or through the relocation of millions of people of Palestinian descent currently living in refugee camps around the Arab world.

To accept the Jewish state is to create the minimal conditions for an end to the conflict. It is to signal to the Palestinian factions, divisions, functionaries and public, as well as the whole global pro-Palestinian machine, that the era of “resistance” is reaching its end.

Both sides know it, and always have. Indeed, since the very beginning of the Zionist enterprise, rejection of the “Jewish state” idea — whether Jewish in character, in purpose, religiously or demographically, or any other reasonable definition— has always been the real core of the problem.

It was the core of the problem when murderous Arab mobs began attacking unarmed Jewish civilians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, culminating in the slaughter of the Jewish community in Hebron in 1929.

 Continue reading.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

IDF Continues to Prep Iran Strike

 Israeli defense minister: ‘We have to look out for ourselves’

BY: Abraham Rabinovich for The Washington Free Beacon

IDF Prep for Iran StrikeJERUSALEM—Israel’s political leadership has ordered the Israel Defense Forces to continue preparations for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities despite the interim agreement arrived at last November between Teheran and Western nations, Ha’aretz reported today.

Three Knesset members who attended parliamentary briefings by senior army officers said the order had come from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The cost of these preparations, whose nature was not spelled out, would be at least $2.9 billion this year, they said.

Ya’alon, who in the past had opposed an Israeli pre-emptive strike, said this week that Israel could not rely on President Barack Obama to lead an action against Iran if negotiations fail. He cited the Ukraine crisis as an example of the administration projecting weakness. “We have to look out for ourselves,” he said in a lecture.

Netanyahu, in an address before a pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington earlier this month, said that Western willingness to let Iran continue to enrich uranium “would open the floodgates” to its development of nuclear weapons. Said Netanyahu: “That must not happen. And we will make sure it does not happen.”

The Knesset briefing was given by deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Brig. Gen. Agai Yehezkel, a planning directorate official.

Knesset members asked them whether there was justification in expending billions in view of the ongoing negotiations aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. In reply, the officers said they had a clear directive from the political leadership, namely Netanyahu and Ya’alon, to continue readying the armed forces for a possible attack on the nuclear sites regardless of the negotiations.

Meanwhile, Israel is urging the American administration and a number of senior congressmen to approve the sale to Egypt of 10 Apache attack helicopters. An Israeli official said the helicopters are crucial to Cairo’s fight against Jihadi fighters in Sinai.

Many in Congress oppose renewal of American military aid to Egypt until the army there transfers power to an elected civilian government.

There has been close cooperation between Israel and the military leadership in Egypt since the ouster last year of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. A delegation of senior Egyptian officers and officials of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited Israel last week for talks with Israeli counterparts.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Woman Who Saved Syria’s Jews

From TheDailyBeast
Judy Feld CarrThree decades ago, Judy Feld Carr started smuggling members of Syria’s minority Jewish community out of the country. She talks to The Daily Beast about her secret work saving people from slaughter under Assad.

In Syria's three-year war, which is becoming more sectarian by the day, much has been made of the fate of the country's minorities. Christians, Druze and Kurds in the country have enjoyed more column inches dedicated to their plight over the last three years than ever before. But one Syrian minority is almost never spoken of—the Syrian Jews.

“If they were there now, what would have happened? I know what would have happened. It would have been the slaughter of the Syrian Jewish community, that is for sure," says Judy Feld Carr matter-of-factly. Delving into why this slaughter never happened uncovers a story of spy-craft, subterfuge and tightly-kept secrets.

In the late 1970's, Feld Carr, a Canadian mother and musicologist, was reading a newspaper when she was struck by an article about 12 Syrian-Jewish men who tried to escape into Turkey overland from Qamishli, in the north of the country. They stepped on a land mine and Syrian border guards watched them die.

She was so moved by the story that she decided to track down members of Syria's Jewish community. She began cold-calling numbers in Syria until she eventually hit upon a contact. "I sent a telegram to the Rabbi in Damascus asking if he needed religious books and prepaid [for his response]." she explains. "Who would have ever believe, an answer came back with a shopping list! That was the beginning, the first opening since 1948."

In the decades following the creation of the state of Israel, Syria's Jewish community had become isolated, says Sarian Roffe, a historian of the Syrian Jewish community. "After Israel's creation that was it. They shut the doors because they didn't want people to go to Israel and fight against them," she says. "So the doors to leave Syria were closed and there was increased persecution."

Continue reading.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Abbas is a true partner for peace, says Peres

President Shimon Peres expresses sheer support for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who will meet with US President Obama later Monday.

Noam (Dabul) Dvir for YnetNews

Abban and ObamaPresident Shimon Peres said on Monday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a "true partner for peace." Peres made the remarks upon an expected summit later Monday in Washington between Abbas and US President Barack Obama.

During a meeting Peres held with human right activist Rose Mapendo, the president stressed that Abbas is a man of principle who objects to violence and terror.

"We are at a crucial stage of the negotiations and we must do everything we can to ensure they carry on," said Peres. "There is clear majority and agreement on a solution of two states for two people."

Peres added: "We must continue working with the Palestinian Authority and Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). He is a good partner and I am glad our government is negotiating with him. Disagreements are a normal thing and that is why there are negotiations – to solve disputes. There are also issues that we do agree on such as the war on terror."

The president also addressed the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama earlier this month. "They had a good meeting and now we wait to see what the meeting between the American president and Abu Mazen will bring about. It is in everyone's interest to find a way to overcome the gaps and there are critical decisions we must make in the upcoming weeks."

To conclude his remarks, Peres said that "negotiations are a process of creation. We all await peace; it is the heart's desire for all Israelis and Palestinians."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Queen Esther: Patron saint of crypto-Jews

Faced with threat of execution for Jewish observance, Sephardi conversos created the festival of Santa Esterica to replace Purim

By Ronit Treatman for

Crypto EstherAccording to tradition, around 1,900 years before the Spanish Inquisition, a baby girl named Hadassah was born in the Persian Empire. She was orphaned at a very young age and her cousin Mordechai assumed custody of her. Under his tutelage, she internalized the spark of her Jewish identity.

After a few years, an opportunity presented itself, and Mordechai placed her in King Ahasuerus’ harem. He told her that her name was now Esther.

Mordechai told Esther that she was still a Jew, but that she must not let anyone know. If she was lucky, one day she could be the queen of Persia. It is said that she was a vegetarian, to avoid eating non-kosher meat. Queen Esther seemed to be fully assimilated, yet she never forgot who she really was. She hid her Judaism, and eventually married King Ahasuerus.

When the Spanish Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella established the Spanish Inquisition in 1478, many Jews converted to Catholicism outwardly. Inwardly, they kept practicing Judaism in secret, becoming anusim, conversos, or crypto-Jews.

Queen Esther was an inspiration to the anusim in that she modeled a way for them to remember and retain their true, hidden Jewish identity while integrating into the society around them. The conversos implemented a strategy to be able to continue practicing Jewish customs while hiding their observance by inserting a Jewish tradition into a Catholic practice or “syncretism” — the mixing of rituals from different religions.

When the Roman Catholic Church formally recognizes a person as a saint, this person is canonized. A person who has not been canonized may, however, still be referred to as a saint if it is believed that they are “completely perfect in holiness.” The crypto-Jews took advantage of this loophole.

 Continue reading.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Assad is starving Palestinians to death in a Syrian camp, and nobody cares

150,000 used to live in Yarmouk, now there are 20,000; Israel worries about the Golan, where Islamists control much of the border area

By Avi Issacharoff for TimesofIsrael

Palestinians in SyriaIt’s been three years since the civil war broke out in Syria, and there is no end in sight. More than 120,000 people have been killed so far. Two-and-a-half million Syrians are refugees. The damage to the country’s infrastructure is estimated at $3 billion.

On the ground, a fragile equilibrium holds between the regime and its opponents. President Bashar Assad’s army manages limited gains in key regions, like the coastal area near Tartus and Latakia, and in major cities like Aleppo and Damascus. But the regime is far from defeating the rebels, and has, to some extent, come to terms with rebel control over certain areas, like the Kurdish region in northeastern Syria.

Assad’s opponents, for their part, continue to show weakness and fractiousness, as a motley assortment of groups — some radical Islamists, others secular — fight the regime and fight each other. The Syrian army today numbers close to 230,000 men. Facing them are 120,000 rebels, two-thirds of whom are considered Islamists — 10 percent are affiliated with al-Qaeda — and they’re all killing each other.

It is interesting to recall how this war started, with an incident so minor that no one would have paid attention to it if it happened today. A group of kids in the city of Daraa, near the border with Jordan, daubed some anti-Assad graffiti. Syrian policemen arrested the children, beat them, and took them to jail. The city’s residents demonstrated against the arrests, and from that point onward, the bodies began to pile up.

This week, too, and last week, and the week before that, shocking pictures came out of Syria, and it seems that everyone, even Syrians, has grown used to them. The killing of women, children, and the elderly has become a routine occurrence, so commonplace that the average news viewer in Israel and across the entire Middle East is no longer affected by it. Another village destroyed by aerial bombing, more refugees fleeing for their lives, more bodies strewn across the streets.

 Continue reading.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Former FBI Agent Says Leading Muslim Group a 'Hamas Front'

Former FBI counter terrorism expert calls on Americans to pressure government to shut down Council on American-Islamic Relations.

By Orli Baruch and Ari Soffer for Arutz7Sheva

Former FBI Counterterrorism expert John Guandolo, known for his controversial calls for Americans to "expose Al Qaeda agents" in their neighborhoods, has reiterated his calls to the public to pressure officials to prosecute the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for supporting terrorism.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, the author of the book explained how CAIR - which claims to be a "civil liberties" organization representing moderate Muslims in the US - was established by Islamist leaders closely linked to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot. The organization was set up specifically to provide propaganda and other forms of nonviolent support for Hamas, which is a designated terrorist group in the US.


The Brotherhood first established a presence in the US in the 1950s, and by the 1960s had set up several front groups, including the US-Palestine Committee. Guandolo describes how the FBI documented a key meeting of the Committee in 1993 at which the two men who would later found CAIR - Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad - were present.

At the meeting, "those two men specifically discussed with other Hamas leaders creating a public relations front for Hamas that wasn't affiliated with Hamas," Guandolo relates, "and less than a year later CAIR is created in Washington D.C."

Since then, he says, CAIR has actively supported Hamas in the US, and should qualify for prosecution for providing material support to a terrorist group as a result.

He points out that the organization is among several "unindicted conspirators" in the 15-year investigation surrounding the Holy Land Foundation, which in 2001 was shut down after being designated as a terrorist organization by the US government.

Faced with the evidence, Guandolo says he can't understand why the group is still operating legally.

"The question we as Americans need to be asking is: 'Why is this Attorney General and Department of Justice not indicting and prosecuting CAIR and its leaders?'"

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Time for Plan B for Mideast conflict

Op-ed: Palestinians will never accept any peace plan, no matter how reasonable it seems to Israelis and Americans.

Lawrence J. Epstein for Ynetnews

KerryThe quixotic, well-meaning search for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is futile, and it always has been. That statement is not offered as an ideological trumpet call for annexing the West Bank or an emotional cri de coeur. Rather, it is meant to provide a realistic perspective, one needed to see future prospects with clear eyes.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope Secretary Kerry is able to effect a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Most Israeli Jews would welcome a two-state solution that protects Israeli security and provides the Palestinians with a homeland where they can rule themselves. I agree with this view. But, with the best intentions, the most brilliant of plans, and the most earnest willingness to work hard, neither Secretary Kerry nor anyone else will find a way to conclude a peace treaty. That is because the Palestinians will never accept any plan, no matter how reasonable it seems to the Israelis and the Americans.

In 1905, Naguib Azoury , a Maronite Christian, wrote what became the first significant analysis of the Zionist movement from an Arab nationalist viewpoint. The book, commonly called "Le réveil de la nation arabe" ("The Awakening of the Arab Nation"), includes a preamble with an apocalyptic appraisal of Arab-Jewish relations. The awakening Arab nationalism and the Jewish attempt to restore a nation in their ancient homeland were, Azoury claimed, destined to clash permanently until one of the movements permanently defeated the other. Azoury expressed the Arab view openly and perceptively. But his conclusion was simply not believed by the Jews, by the Americans, or by the Europeans.

Continue reading.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The next Kotel battle: Reading from the Torah


I am a progressive religious liberal Jewish woman and as I go into the army 10 hours from now, these are some of my hopes.

It’s Rosh Chodesh Adar bet and I’m at the Kotel.

Kotel BattleI’m joined by family and friends, including one friend who, in her uniform with a gun strapped over her shoulder, and a tallit wrapped around her, danced to the psalms of Hallel.

Thirteen months ago my mother, myself and eight other women were detained by the Jerusalem police for wearing prayer shawls at a similar Rosh Chodesh service. The men and women in their blue uniforms were under orders to strip us of our prayer shawls.

The injustice was so blatant, especially to world Jewry, that after over 24 years of banning women from this practice, the public outcry and the courts finally allowed this most basic of religious practices. This is a huge victory for pluralism and tolerance.

However, on this day, my IDF friend stood by my side and I was honored with a non-aliya to the Torah in honor of my upcoming induction.

Instead of the regular prayer, I sang a makeshift blessing over the siddur from which we read the story of Pinhas.

Pinhas was extreme, he murdered couples to keep the daughters of Israel from intermarrying.

His extremism blinds him to anything outside his passion and point of view. Radicalism is also the story of Purim. Achashverosh decrees the murder of all the Jews in Persia and then, hafuch! – decrees the death of the would-be murderers Haman and his sons. All balance is missing.

Extremism is the reason I didn’t celebrate my army induction with an aliya to an actual Torah at the Kotel. The sliver of Jews who control that place with an iron fist do not allow me, or any woman, to read from a Torah at our holy site.

And it’s extremism that scares me. The religious extremism of Pinhas and the political extremism of Achashverosh.

I am a progressive religious liberal Jewish woman and as I go into the army 10 hours from now, what I hope for is the Sinaitic model of mamlechet Cohanim where we are all called to engage in Torah and the Jewish relationship with God, just as we are all called to protect our nation with the guns we carry in the IDF.

It is not lost on me that my induction to serve the Jewish state coincided with the mass haredi (ultra-Orthodox) demonstration against enlistment.

Half a million men, dressed in their blackand- white uniforms, not only object to donning the green uniform of our country, but also object to my free expression of how I want to serve God and celebrate the New Moon. I hope to be back at the Kotel on Rosh Chodesh as often as the IDF will allow me, but my real hope is that the right of women to read from the Torah will be achieved.

The author is a Honorary International Vice Co-Chair of Rabbi's for Women of the Wall, and she recently drafted to the IDF. She can be followed on twitter at @purplelettuce95.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Netanyahu: Israel Longs for Peace With the Arabs

 Ryan Jones for IsraelToday

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday went somewhat outside what some would describe as his “comfort zone” and waxed eloquent about how Israelis long for peace with the Arabs and the benefits that an end to the conflict will bear.

Bibi at AIPAC“We all have so much to gain from peace. Peace would be good for us. Peace would be good for the Palestinians,” Netanyahu told the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gathering in Washington. “But peace would also open up the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and leading countries in the Arab world.”

The Israeli leader went on to explain that “many Arab leaders – and believe me, this is a fact, not a hypothesis, it’s a fact – many Arab leaders today already realize that Israel is not their enemy, that peace with the Palestinians would turn our relations with them and with many Arab countries into open and thriving relationships.”

“Think of the possibilities,” Netanyahu urged his audience, noting that the “combination of Israeli innovation and Gulf entrepreneurship, to take one example,” could bring about a solution to the region’s water and energy problems and catapult the Middle East forward on the international stage.

Unfortunately, Netanyahu continued, it would seem Israel does not have in the Palestinian leadership a partner that is ready to achieve that glorious future. “President Abbas, recognize the Jewish state and in doing so you will be telling your people the Palestinians … the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute,” Netanyahu said in a direct plea to the Palestinian leadership.

The Palestinian Authority immediately made clear that it does not share Netanyahu’s vision for the future.

In remarks to the AFP, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath called Netanyahu’s speech “an official announcement of a unilateral end to negotiations” and a contravention of the “rules of the peace negotiations.”

Shaath reiterated that the Palestinian leadership would never agree to recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, nor would it relinquish its quest to flood sovereign Israel with millions of so-called “Palestinian refugees.”

Meanwhile, report circulated that when Netanyahu met US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, the latter promised to put increased pressure on the Palestinians to meet the terms of a new American framework proposal, which includes many of Israel’s conditions for peace.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

In seizing Gaza-bound missiles, Israel prevented a game-changer

The Iranian rockets were likely on their way to Islamic Jihad militants, not Hamas, to provide them with a capability to strike greater Tel Aviv.

By Amos Harel for Haaretz

Gaza-bound missilesOnly one thing went wrong during Israel’s naval raid in the Red Sea Wednesday morning – the timing. It’s easy to imagine that it was slightly disappointing, at least to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Had it taken place during his address to the AIPAC conference in Washington on Tuesday, he really could have gone to town. It was all there in a nutshell, everything Netanyahu has been warning us about for years: Iran, Syria, long-range missiles, the threat in the Gaza Strip. The axis of evil is alive and well, and against all the odds our brave warriors go forth and neutralize these threats far from Israel’s borders.

But the missed PR opportunity need not detract from the significance of the operation itself. Intercepting a ship carrying long-range missiles bound for the Gaza Strip was a first-rate accomplishment, from both the intelligence and the operational perspectives.

In Israel’s ongoing war to keep advanced weaponry from falling into the hands of terrorists, which has included air strikes attributed to Israel near the Syrian and Lebanese borders, this is an impressive success. It would not have been possible without the close coordination of the state intelligence agencies and superb intelligence analysis. Also critical to its success were the excellent operational capabilities of the Israel Navy in general and the elite naval commando unit Shayetet 13 in particular.

Another factor that must be considered is the calculated risk taken by the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff. The Klos-C can be added to the list of boats that were successfully intercepted in the Red and the Mediterranean seas, including Karine A., Victoria and the Francop.

The volume of goods smuggled from Iran to the Gaza Strip has declined down in recent years, a result of naval interceptions and air strikes against weapons convoys in Sudan, attributed in the foreign media to the Israel Air Force.

 Continue reading.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IDF Captures Top Hamas Operative in West Bank

From Algemeiner

Hamas – Israeli soldiers operating in Hebron on Tuesday night arrested Ayyub al-Kawasma, a senior Hamas operative who has been on Israel’s wanted list since 1998, Israel Hayom reported. The joint operation of the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security agency was carried out by the IDF’s elite Duvdevan unit.

Kawasma, 50, is believed to be a top leader in the Hamas military wing in the West Bank. Formally Israel’s most wanted terrorist, he is alleged to have taken part in organizing numerous terror attacks during the Second Intifada, which caused hundreds of Israeli casualties.

A statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that Kawasma, who had been serving time in a Palestinian prison since 2010, was released some two weeks ago and immediately began planning terror attacks against Israel.

According to Palestinian eyewitnesses, Kawasma was arrested while attending a family event.

Meanwhile, a Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel on Tuesday night exploded on the Gaza side of the border.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

John Kerry Makes No Apologies

Delivers his best speech on Israel to his toughest audience yet

By Yair Rosenberg for Tablet Magazine
John Kerry has come a long way since deciding to take on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as the defining endeavor of his diplomatic career. Tonight at AIPAC, he delivered a ringing and robust defense of his efforts to resolve both the Iranian nuclear threat and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but in a key that even the most skeptical of Israel’s supporters could understand, if not entirely accept. Showcasing the subtle sensitivity to Jewish insecurities he has honed giving interviews to Israeli media, coupled with his familiar stentorian tones, Kerry managed to make his policy points while avoiding the landmines that have bedeviled him and many other diplomats.

Kerry at  AIPACHe opened with a paean to Israeli and American exceptionalism, calling both democracies “lights unto the nations,” and reassuring the assembled delegates that “as Israel faces significant challenges to her future, it is America who will stand firmly by her side.” Then came the turn to Iran, the greatest source of tension between AIPAC and the current administration. “We will not permit Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon–period,” Kerry avowed, to a standing ovation. Only after catering to the crowd’s comfort zone did Kerry defend diplomacy, with one-liners carefully crafted to dispel any accusations of naivete. “This is not a process about trusting Tehran, it is about testing Tehran,” he said. “And you can be sure that if Iran fails this test, America will not fail Israel.”

Finally, Kerry pivoted to peace. “No one needs to explain the importance of peace and security to a mother who has just sent her daughter to the army,” Kerry said, taking care to avoid the patronizing tone that has often characterized the rhetoric of Western diplomats towards Israel and her supporters. He praised Netanyahu’s “demonstrated” courage and “guts” in pursuit of peace, as well as Palestinian President Abbas’s staunch opposition to violence. And he acknowledged Israel’s fears of being pressured into a deal that would bring a Potemkin peace. “When Bibi looks me in the eye and says, ‘I can’t accept a deal with the Palestinians that doesn’t make the people of Israel safer,’ we agree 100 percent,” Kerry said. “We will never let the West Bank turn into another Gaza.” (Conveniently, he avoided mentioning the words “settlements” or “occupation.”)

For good measure, Kerry then joined the BDS-bashing brigade, unequivocally rejecting the movement calling for blacklisting Israel, and following in the footsteps of AIPAC President Bob Cohen and Sen. Chuck Schumer, who earlier in the evening deemed the BDS movement “a modern form of what we call anti-Semitism.” Kerry piled on: “We must also stand together and with a single voice reject arbitrary and unwarranted boycotts of Israel. For more than 30 years, I have staunchly, loudly and unapologetically opposed boycotts of Israel, and I will continue to staunchly, loudly and unapologetically oppose boycotts of Israel. That will never change.” AIPAC may not have won on Iran, but it’s clear that both the administration and Congress are happy to condemn the highly unpopular BDS movement as a consolation prize.

Kerry closed on a personal note, recalling a visit to Masada many years ago. There, at the urging of his guide, Yadin Roman, Kerry shouted across the desert “Am Yisrael Chai”–the nation of Israel lives–and listened to its echo reverberate across the plain. Both Israel and AIPAC, he said, secure that survival. And peace, he implied, would ensure it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Documentary on oldest Shoah survivor wins Oscar a week after her death

Herz-Sommer(JTA) — A documentary about the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor won an Oscar one week after she died.

Alice Herz-Sommer, who died in London on Feb. 23 at the age of 110, was the subject of “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” which won the Academy Award for documentary short on Sunday night.

The Prague-born Herz-Sommer, a concert pianist, was a prisoner in Theresienstadt.

In accepting the Oscar, the film’s director, Malcolm Clarke, said he was struck by Herz-Sommer’s “extraordinary capacity for joy” and “amazing capacity for forgiveness.”