Thursday, August 28, 2014

Letter From an IDF Soldier in Gaza

‘None of us wanted war, but when Israel was under attack we were proud to be able to defend the country we love’
By Jonathan in Tablet Magazine

The following is a letter written by Jonathan, a 24-year-old who grew up in suburban Maryland, to his family. He is currently in Israel serving in the Israeli Defense Forces as a sergeant in the Givati Brigade. He is one of hundreds of American volunteer soldiers known as “lone soldiers.” His unit has served in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.

August 9th, 2014

Letter From an IDF Soldier in GazaI’ve wanted to write this since I left Gaza.

Since I came out of Gaza I have stopped reading the international news. Some say we act disproportionately and with disregard for Gazan civilian life, and some outright say we are monsters and commit genocide.

I want to explain what the IDF is as I know it. Two months ago I was having breakfast at a family friend’s house when I got a text telling me to come back to base as soon as possible. I returned to base on the other side of the country within a couple of hours to receive orders. We were on high alert on the Gaza border. Hamas had started shooting rockets again and were threatening terror attacks within Israel. Around me were soldiers from all walks of life: secular Tel Avivians, Ethiopians, Kibbutzinks, religious Jews from the West Bank, Americans, and city kids from Jerusalem. As we spent weeks guarding the Gaza border with Israel we received donations of food, clothing, and toiletries from Israelis and Jews all around the world. The donations poured in and the support letters and children’s drawings we received made us smile.

As the weeks continued and the rocket fire worsened we prepared for a ground operation. After not seeing home for over a month, we entered Gaza with the mission to destroy the elaborate tunnel infrastructure Hamas had built to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks on settlements in Southern Israel. We would have rather been home with family and friends like normal kids our age in other countries; eating Mom’s cooking, playing guitar, going out to a bar with friends, spending a day on the beach. None of us wanted war, but when Israel was under attack we were proud to be able to defend the country we love.

Continue reading.

Love Israel? We do too. Follow our Israel board on    page.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For 25 Years, 'The Simpsons' Has Been Good for the Jews

By Mark I. Pinsky for The Arty Semite

For 25 Years, 'The Simpsons' Has Been Good for the Jews“The Simpsons” 25th anniversary marathon on cable network FXX — now airing every episode, plus the 2007 feature film — includes a surprising insight for careful observers: The award-winning cartoon sitcom is one of the Jews’ best friends.

For millions in North America and globally who have never actually met a Jew, “The Simpsons” has showcased us in a knowing, sympathetic, yet realistic way. The series has portrayed numerous important aspects of modern (and ancient) Jewish life in brilliant 23-minute bites. If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on “The Simpsons,” they — and we — would be well served.

Jews are part of the fabric of Springfield (The Simpsons’ home town), arguably a modern American version of Chelm, Yiddish folklore’s fabled village of nitwits. On the show, a Conservative synagogue (or Orthodox; it’s deliberately vague, like much in the series) has the unlikely moniker of Temple Beth Springfield. There’s a preserved-in-amber “old neighborhood,” straight out of New York’s Lower East Side (“Tannen’s Fatty Meats”), plus a Jewish “Walk of Fame,” featuring Sandy Koufax, Joan Rivers, Albert Einstein and Lorne Michaels.

Still, Springfield has lots of clueless gentiles, beginning with Protestant minister, Reverend Lovejoy, who keeps the local rabbi in a separate “non-Christian Rolodex,” and an elementary school principal who thinks Yom Kippur is a made-up holiday. No doubt in observance of the High Holy Days, the marquee of Lovejoy’s neighboring (but unneighborly) church reads: “No Synagogue Parking.” On a visit to New York, bad boy Bart Simpson mistakes three bearded rabbis for the Texas rock group ZZ Top. Homer, the family’s lovable doofus dad, is shocked to learn from his daughter that Mel Brooks is Jewish. He is so confused, he asks, in another episode, “Are we Jewish?”

Continue reading.

Follow us on    page.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Douglas Murray - Israel's Opponents

Douglas Murray on Canadian TV discusses the demonstrations and responses to Israel's Operations in Gaza.

"The outrage is focused because it's a Jewish state."
Correspondent:  "A lot of people are willing to back Hamas and I don't understand it."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hamas admits intimidating foreign press who reported wrong ‘message’

We got to those whose work was ‘immoral’ and made them change ‘one way or another,’ says spokeswoman, also acknowledging booting out journalists who sought to ‘film places where missiles were launched’

By Times of Israel staff

A Hamas official inadvertently acknowledged on Thursday that the group had strong-armed journalists in Gaza into a reporting style that suited its narrative, keeping many under surveillance and kicking out of the territory those who sought to film the launching of rockets at Israel.

In an interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV on Thursday, relayed and translated Friday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the head of foreign relations in Hamas’s Information Ministry, Isra Al-Mudallal, complained that “the coverage by foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip was insignificant compared to their coverage within the Israeli occupation (Israel).”

Continue reading.

Love Israel? We do too. Follow our Israel board on    page.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hamas Coup Against Abbas Foiled

IDF, ISA arrested 93 Hamas terrorists, who were directed by a Hamas HQ in Turkey to take over Judea, Samaria.

By Gil Ronen for

Hamas Coup Against AbbasA large scale operation mounted from May to August by the IDF and Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) foiled a Hamas network's plot to carry out a coup in the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria.

The news about the operation was under a gag order until today.

The Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria was controlled by a Hamas HQ in Turkey. The plot was to carry out a series of cruel terror attacks against Israel and create a situation of security instability, then take advantage of that situation to take over the PA.

Israel announced that 93 Hamas terrorists were arrested in the operation. Of these, 46 were taken to interrogation by the ISA. Hamas terror funds amountung to over 600,000 shekels (about $170,000) were confiscated and weapons including 54 guns, 6 handguns and 7 RPGs were seized.

The network was assisted by an additional array in Jordan and on carriers, who carried funds amounting to over 2 million NIS into Judea and Samria for the purchase of weapons and hideout apartments.

The military infrastructure was headed by Riad Nasser, 38, of Deir Kadis in the Binyamin region, who has served several stints in jail for Hamas terror activity.

Continue reading.

Follow us on    page.

Israeli court allows protesters to picket Palestinian-Jewish wedding

Anti-Arab group urges supporters to bring loudspeakers and horns to wedding of Mahmoud Mansour and Moral Malka

Orlando Crowcroft for The Guardian

ProtestersA Palestinian man and his Jewish bride-to-be are facing hostile protests in the Israeli town of Rishon Letzion after Israel's high court refused their application to ban demonstrations outside their wedding reception.

Mahmoud Mansour, 26, a Palestinian from Jaffa, has had to hire dozens of security guards after an anti-Arab group, Lehava, published details of his wedding reception online and called for Israelis to come and picket the wedding hall.

The group, which campaigns against assimilation between Jews and Arabs in Israel, is angry that Mansour's bride-to-be, Moral Malka, 23, is Jewish, although local media reported that she has already converted to Islam and the couple have had an Islamic wedding.

"We've been together for five years, but we've never encountered such racism. I always knew there were racists, but as long as you're not affected by it, until you feel it in your own body, you don't know what it is," Mansour told Haaretz on Sunday.

"If it were someone from her family, I would understand, but these people aren't related. Why do they care? Why are they getting involved? If they think they'll get us to give up on each other, it won't happen."

He said that hiring the security guards had cost over $4,000 (£2,400), half of which was being paid for by the wedding hall, but the remainder the couple had to find themselves. The court decided that protesters would be allowed to picket the wedding, but only at a distance of 200m.

Continue reading.

Love Israel? We do too. Follow our Israel board on    page.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Do Israelis Know How Much We Really Care?

Francine Klagsbrun; Special To The Jewish Week

Some mid-summer reflections:

How Much We Really CareI wonder if Israelis know how emotionally involved many American Jews are with the current fighting in Gaza. Do they know that for those of us who love Israel, Gaza is the only thing we seem able to talk about when we go out to dinner or stay home with the family or speak on the phone? Do they know that we weep with them at the loss of each IDF soldier, or that the news from Israel is the first thing we turn to in our newspapers (and rue the unfair coverage) and the last thing we Google about before going to bed? Do they know that we can almost hear the rocket sirens go off in our heads and feel the rush of fear they experience as they run to shelters?

I don’t think they know this. When I speak to friends in Israel, they’re grateful for my phone calls, but they talk of being isolated in a world that has become increasingly hostile to them. “Why aren’t American Jews marching on Washington?” an Israeli friend railed after the FAA briefly banned flights to Israel, making Israelis feel ever more isolated. There hasn’t been a march on Washington, but American Jews have held rallies and solidarity gatherings and recited prayers for Israel’s troops in every synagogue in the country. I’m not sure my Israeli friend knows about these things, because they’re rarely reported in the media. Attracting more attention are anti-Israel protests and “disproportionality” accusations about the country’s response to the missiles menacing it.

Continue reading.
Love Israel? We do too. Follow our Israel board on    page.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gaza Tension Stoked by Unlikely Alliance Between Israel and Egypt

Strategy of Squeezing Hamas Was Effective, but Helped Lead to Open Warfare, Officials Believe

By ADAM ENTOUS in Jerusalem and NICHOLAS CASEY in Gaza for The Wall Street Journal

TunnelsIsrael and Egypt quietly agreed to work in concert to squeeze Hamas after Egypt's military coup in 2013, a strategy that proved effective but which some Israeli and U.S. officials now believe stoked tensions that helped spur open warfare in Gaza.

When former military chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi rose to power in Egypt after leading the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Israel found the two countries had a common interest in suppressing the Islamist group that ruled Gaza. They worked to bring pressure on their shared enemy.

But a reconstruction of events leading up to the conflict over the past month found that in their determination to hem in Hamas, Israeli and Egyptian officials ignored warning signs of an impending explosion, U.S., Israeli and U.N. officials said.

Continue reading.

Love Israel? We do too. Follow our Israel board on    page.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lieberman slams plan to involve Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza

Foreign Minister's remarks completely counter Ya'alon, who said a few weeks ago that Israel supported deploying Abbas forces at Gaza crossings.

By Barak Ravid for Haaretz

Avigdor LiebermanForeign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is opposed to integrating Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas into any arrangement in the Gaza Strip following the cease-fire. Lieberman presented this stance at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Monday, a senior Israeli official said.

"To think of Abu Mazen [Abbas] as an ally in the Gaza Strip is a serious mistake," Lieberman said during the meeting. "Abu Mazen may act against Hamas in Gaza, but he also acts against us in the international forums. It is he who pushed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to establish a commission of inquiry and he who is pushing for processes against us in the UN Security Council in New York."

Lieberman's remarks surprised many of the MKs present, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon two weeks ago appeared before the committee with a completely opposite message.

Ya'alon emphasized that Israel wanted the Palestinian president's forces deployed at the Gaza borders, particular at the Rafah crossing with Egypt. That arrangement was to be part and parcel of any cease-fire agreement to end Operation Protective Edge.

Two of the Knesset members who participated in that meeting said that Ya'alon had stressed that it was Egypt demanding the returned presence of Abbas' forces at the border crossings, and that Israel supported the move. "We won't agree to recognize a unity government," Ya'alon said. "But different arrangements like control of the crossings is something we can accept. Abbas will control the crossings, but he won't control Gaza itself."

Love Israel? We do too. Follow our Israel board on    page.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Two Israels on Tisha B’Av

While Israel’s Orthodox community plunges into mourning tonight and tomorrow for the Jewish fast day of the 9th of Av, the country’s secular majority doesn’t relate to what’s seen as an irrelevant, vestigial commemoration.

By Don Futterman for Haaretz

Two Israels on Tisha B’AvTisha B’Av, like every other issue in Israel, has taken a back seat to the fighting in Gaza. This year it is colored by our sadness over the personal hurban, or devastation, for the families of soldiers and civilians killed in our war with Hamas. But most years, the secular public and Orthodox and traditional Israeli Jews live in parallel universes for the three-week period of semi-mourning leading from the 17th of Tammuz, 70 CE when the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem, to the 9th of Av, when both the first (in 587 BCE) and second Temples (in 70 CE) were destroyed.

In the Orthodox world, the 9th of Av, or Tisha B’Av, is not just another historical commemoration; its remembrance takes significant form in terms of everyday life. Religious radio stations and the weekly Shabbat newsletters distributed at synagogues debate the destruction and reconstruction of the Temple, the meaning of the three weeks, the nine days, and the Ninth of Av itself. Eating meat is forsaken during the last nine days, except on Shabbat, and music is avoided for the entire three weeks since both are considered signs of celebration. No weddings are scheduled, and men don’t shave, one of Judaism’s more visible mourning customs, and will continue to refrain for an extra 15 hours past Tisha B’Av, because the Temple burned until noon of the day after its destruction. Kinot – prayers of lamentation written over the centuries - are included in the daily service.

Continue reading.

Love Israel? We do too. Follow our Israel board on    page.