Hundreds protest reported Gaza ceasefire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Hundreds protest reported Gaza ceasefire, block Sderot roads with burning tires

Some demonstrators in rocket-battered town clash with police, chant ‘Bibi go home’; protesters said planning rally in Tel Aviv Wednesday

Protesters burn tires at the entrance to the southern town of Sderot, Novermber 13, 2018 (Hadashot screenshot)

Protesters burn tires at the entrance to the southern town of Sderot, November 13, 2018 (Hadashot screenshot)

Hundreds of people were demonstrating Tuesday evening at the entrance to the town of Sderot over Israel’s reported agreement for a ceasefire with Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers, after a 25-hour period that saw over 460 rockets fired at Israeli communities near the Palestinian enclave.

Protesters were blocking roads and burning tires, with some chanting, “Bibi go home,” using a nickname for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Confrontations were reported between protesters and policemen.

Police said they were working to restore order, saying they would “allow freedom of expression and lawful protest” but not “disturbance of public order, violence towards policemen and civilians and riots on major roads.”

Some 500 people were reported to be taking part in the protest.

According to Hadashot TV news, some southern residents planned further demonstrations and road blockages in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to protest the truce.

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Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay expressed support for the protesters, saying it was a “justified” response to the government “forsaking” them.

He said the government had failed the south by “neglecting” the issue of Gaza since the 2014 war.

“This is not the time for another fragile truce,” he said. “This is the time for a true diplomatic initiative in Gaza, that will lean on the recommendations of the security establishment.”

Hamas and other Gaza terror groups said Tuesday they had accepted an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire with Israel. Terms of the deal were not immediately known, and there was no immediate comment from Israel. But a senior Israeli diplomatic official appeared to confirm the reported armistice.

“Israel maintains its right to act. Requests from Hamas for a ceasefire came through four different mediators. Israel responded that the events on the ground will decide [if a ceasefire will go into effect],” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

Many southern residents were unhappy with the decision.

“It’s better that we suffer in shelters and they put an end to it once and for all,” Reut Bassis of Sderot told Hadashot. “A month from today the same thing will happen…it doesn’t make sense that our lives are like this.”

Another Sderot resident, Miri, said: “The IDF is hitting empty buildings, while sending them trucks with cement and construction materials. Where’s our self-respect? We’ve been at war for 17 years.”

Another man, Yohanan Cohen, said he had lost faith in the prime minister. “I’ve been a Likud man for 40 years but I promise I won’t vote Likud anymore. We’re captives of Hamas.”

People gather outside a house that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on November 13, 2018. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Channel 10 news reported Tuesday evening that at least four senior ministers opposed the decision.

The report said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett proposed an alternative response, but it was rejected by the other ministers.

An unnamed minister who attended the seven-hour meeting Tuesday told the news outlet that no vote was held to determine the next steps. A source with direct knowledge of the discussions confirmed to the Times of Israel there was no vote.

The source confirmed there were several disagreements between cabinet members, some of which were the focus of debate for a number of hours. They would not comment on the content of the disagreements.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the security cabinet released a statement that read, “The security cabinet discussed the events in the south. The cabinet received briefings from the IDF and defense officials on the [IDF] strikes and widespread operations against terror targets in Gaza. The cabinet instructed the IDF to continue its strikes as needed.”

According to the military, over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of 25 hours on Monday and Tuesday. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens more, and causing significant property damage.

A home in the southern Israeli town of Netivot that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018. (Israel Police)

In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”

In recent weeks, Egyptian and UN mediators had appeared to be making progress in brokering informal understandings aimed at quieting the situation.

Last week, Israel allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million to Gaza to allow cash-strapped Hamas to pay the salaries of thousands of government workers. At the same time, Hamas has lowered the intensity of violent border protests in recent weeks.

The fighting on Monday and Tuesday cast doubt over understandings previously brokered by Egypt and UN officials to reduce tensions. Just a day earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had defended those understandings, saying he was doing everything possible to avoid another “unnecessary war.”

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Father of slain IDF officer: ‘I hope this is the final loss for Israel’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Father of slain IDF officer: ‘I hope this is the final loss for Israel’

Special forces soldier who died in secretive Gaza Strip mission gone awry is recalled as contributing to social activism, raising children with patriotic values

Israeli soldiers stand guard in Nahal Oz, southern Israel, near the border with Gaza, November 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Israeli soldiers stand guard in Nahal Oz, southern Israel, near the border with Gaza, November 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

The father of a senior special forces officer who was killed overnight during an operation in the Gaza Strip said Monday he hopes that his son’s death will be the last Israel suffers.

The army described the incident, in which another officer was moderately injured which sparked hours of clashes, as an intelligence-gathering mission that went awry.

Most details of the raid, including the identity of the officer who was killed, remained subject to a military censor and could not be published.

“This is a great loss,” the father said, according to a report from Hadashot news television. “I hope it will be the final loss for the people of Israel.”

A close relative said that the officer, who has been identified by the military only by the Hebrew initial “Mem,” joined the army after high school and had remained in the service ever since.

The lieutenant colonel was 41 years old, was married with two children and lived in a town in northern Israel.

“He was a social activist and contributed greatly,” the relative said. “The family didn’t know what he did aside from the fact that he was a senior officer in an elite unit. His family was exemplary, his wife works in the medical sector and helps children.”

A close acquaintance of Lt. Col. Mem said he volunteered in various organizations and “raised the next generation with values of patriotism, and values of contributing and volunteering.”

“He began to think of the future, of advancing in the civilian security establishment,” the acquaintance said. “Or alternatively, he considered progressing through the military establishment.”

Palestinians stand next to the remains of a car allegedly used by Israeli special forces during a raid in Gaza, which was was later destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Condolences and commiserations over the death of the officer came from senior Israeli figures including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Netanyahu tweeted: “I bow my head in sadness at the loss of Lt. Col. Mem, a glorious fighter who fell during an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip.”

The injured soldier, who has also not been identified, regained consciousness Monday morning, and was not in life-threatening danger, Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center said in a statement.

After he regained consciousness, his wife and children were allowed to see him for a short time.

His mother, who was also at the hospital intensive care unit where he is being treated, told Hadashot news of her relief that he was still alive.

“I pray that my son recovers as soon as possible,” she said. “It is a miracle that I got him back alive. I couldn’t bear to see his children, my grandchildren, crying. It was hard. I left the room.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett also paid a visit to the officer at the hospital and declared that the deceased soldier and his wounded comrade were “national heroes.”

“I send my deepest condolences to the family of Lt.-Col. Mem, and wish a speedy recovery to those wounded,” Bennett said.

The wounded officer’s brother told Hadashot news that he still had not seen his sibling.

“The whole family and I are praying for his health,” the brother said. “We believe God is watching over him. We want to thank all the people who are interested in his welfare.”

A helicopter carrying a wounded Israeli soldier who was injured during an operation in the Gaza Strip lands outside Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center on November 11, 2018. (Twitter)

IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said Monday that the overnight mission in Gaza was intended as an intelligence-gathering mission by IDF special forces operating deep inside Gaza, not an assassination or kidnapping attempt.

At some point during the operation, the Israeli troops clashed with local Hamas fighters, killing a senior commander and several other members of the Gaza-ruling terrorist group.

The IDF unit called in aerial support — aircraft to bomb the surrounding area — and made its away out of the Gaza Strip.

Manelis said the soldiers operating in Gaza overnight “became trapped in a highly complex situation but they had responded “heroically, hit those who threatened them and extracted themselves to Israeli territory.”

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, seven Palestinians in total were killed in the exchange and another seven were injured.

Following the raid, Palestinian terrorist groups launched at least 17 projectiles — rockets and mortar shells — at southern Israel. Three of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. The rest fell in open fields outside populated communities, one of them causing light damage to a greenhouse in the Eshkol region.

Hamas accused Israel of sabotaging an emerging ceasefire agreement that was brokered by Egypt and supported by Qatar.

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Giving cancer patients hope is as valuable as giving them medicine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Giving cancer patients hope is as valuable as giving them medicine

Israeli cancer patients rely on ICSN’s volunteers and services to help them cope, fight, and recover

Families grappling with the double pressures of watching their children suffer through cancer while simultaneously having earn a living benefit most from ICSN's services, such as transport and financial assistance.

Families grappling with the double pressures of watching their children suffer through cancer while simultaneously having earn a living benefit most from ICSN’s services, such as transport and financial assistance.

To recover from cancer, having the best doctors, treatment, or medication is not enough. Without hope and personal connection, the prognosis for cancer patients is decidedly poorer. This is exactly why Israel Cancer Support Network (ICSN) offers cancer patients and their families the warmth they need to survive emotionally and the firm support they need to meet the challenges of suffering through painful cancer treatments. 

The emotional, physical, and fiscal strain of treating cancer, from arranging doctors’ appointments to meeting personal expenses and trying to maintain a “normal” family life, are hurdles that many have a tremendously difficult time overcoming.

In less than a decade, ICSN has helped over 11,000 families dealing with cancer, giving 50,000 car rides to cancer patients in need of transportation to the hospital and back. That comes out to 150 trips each day. ICSN uses a network of volunteers to create a community of support throughout Israel. Over 2,000 multilingual volunteers from the Jerusalem metro area and further away take time out of their busy lives to transport cancer-stricken children and adults to and from the hospital, around the clock year-round.

But these services represent only a fraction of what ICSN does.

ICSN sets up fully stocked, 24/7 coffee stations in cancer wards so that patients and families can savor a hot drink at any hour of the day. In its 15-year history, the organization has served over a million cups of coffee to cancer patients. ICSN also assists patients with the herculean task of gaining access to top doctors with long waiting lists for appointments.

The bottom line is that ICSN’s services are integral to the recovery of those who use them.

Many families suffer extreme difficulties as a result of cancer treatment and the financial damage caused by months of treatments can be crippling. Patients often lose their jobs due to the inability to work while parents miss countless hours of work accompanying their children to treatments. ICSN eases the burden by offering cash stipends and gift certificates to cover the cost of household help, including shoes, clothing, basic food items and life-saving drugs.

But beyond the financial, physical, and logistical help they provide, ICSN most importantly furnishes cancer patients with hope.

“A smiling volunteer driver picking you up in the middle of the night with his car to take you to the hospital is just as valuable as the cancer treatment itself,” said Shlomi, a recipient of ICSN’s services.

Personal outreach has a distinct therapeutic effect, according to Professor Dina Ben-Yehuda, director of Hematology at Hadassah Ein-Kerem and professor of Hematology at Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. “When you battle a disease like cancer, the supporters are just as important as the fighters.”

During the High Holidays, ICSN goes the extra mile to give cancer patients in need the serene conditions in which to celebrate and usher in the new year.

ICSN functions entirely through donations with no external support.

Learn more about how you can help cure cancer.

Islamic Jihad calls ceasefire as Israel hits back at 30-plus rockets from Gaza

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL NEWS PAPER)

 

Islamic Jihad calls ceasefire as Israel hits back at 30-plus rockets from Gaza

Iran-backed terror group says it will halt fire after talking with Egypt; no acknowledgement of deal by Israel, which strikes IJ targets in 95 raids

Palestinians check damage to buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on October 27, 2018 after salvos of rocket fire from Gaza. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Palestinians check damage to buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on October 27, 2018 after salvos of rocket fire from Gaza. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Islamic Jihad announced Saturday it had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to end an escalating exchange of fire with Israel, as Israeli jets struck sites in the Gaza Strip belonging to the Palestinian terror organization.

A spokesman for the group told the Gaza-based Safa news site that a ceasefire agreement went into effect following Egyptian communication with its leadership.

He said Islamic Jihad would remain committed to the ceasefire as long as Israel did likewise.

There was no immediate acknowledgement of the ceasefire declaration in Israel, which in the past has denied proclamations by Gaza-based terror groups regarding understandings to end fighting.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other top security officials at the time of the announcement.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other top military officers at Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 27, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

A few hours after Islamic Jihad announced the ceasefire, the Eshkol Regional Council lifted orders that residents must remain in close proximity to bomb shelters.

Restrictions remained in place, however, limiting gatherings outdoors to 100 people and those indoors to 500.

The declaration by Islamic Jihad to end the rocket fire came as the Israel Defense Forces said fighter jets struck eight targets tied to the Iran-backed terror group in three separate military facilities after Israel was hit by salvos of rockets from Gaza overnight and on Saturday morning.

The Gaza targets included weapons production sites and a factory that makes parts for subterranean tunnels, the army said, adding that the later was near a school.

The top IDF spokesperson earlier blamed Iran and Syria for the Islamic Jihad rocket attacks. Though he did not accuse Hamas of taking part in the launches, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis reiterated that Israel considers the terror group responsible as Gaza’s rulers.

Another IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the rocket strikes were ordered by operatives from the overseas branch of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stationed in Syria and warned Israel may not limit its response to Gaza.

“From our perspective, part of the address by which we will deal with this fire is also in Damascus and the Quds Force,” he said. “Our response is not limited geographically.”

Israel Defense Forces

@IDFSpokesperson

1. This Palestinian Islamic Jihad cement factory, which was used to build cross-border terror tunnels, was built RIGHT NEXT TO a , putting the children of at risk.

View image on Twitter

Israel Defense Forces

@IDFSpokesperson

2. We also struck this Islamic Jihad weapons manufacturing facility – they use their weapons to try to kill innocent Israeli civilians, we use our weapons to destroy their weapons. pic.twitter.com/bKqyBsaZwf

34 rockets were fired at Israel overnight and Saturday morning, according to the IDF, 13 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Two of the rockets fell in Gaza and the rest landed in open areas.

The Defense Ministry’s liaison to the Palestinians said a mortar launched during the barrages struck the ambulance terminal at the Erez border crossing, the sole pedestrian passage between Gaza and Israel.

In response to the rocket fire, Israeli aircraft and attack helicopters attacked 95 targets in Gaza belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The army said the targets included military and weapons manufacturing facilities through the Strip, a factory in Khan Younis producing cement used in subterranean tunnels and a four-story building in Gaza City headquartering Hamas security services.

The IDF said in a statement Saturday morning it “views with great severity the rocket attacks tonight against Israeli communities.” It blamed Hamas for creating “a terror-enabling atmosphere…near the border fence which led terror groups in the Strip to carry out tonight’s attack.”

A four-story building in Gaza City’s Daraj neighborhood belong to Hamas’ General Security Services is seen on October 27, 2018, moments before it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. (Israel Defense Forces)

Palestinian sources speaking to the Ynet news website claimed the attacks were carried out against the objections of the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza, though this had no official confirmation.

Israel views Hamas as ultimately responsible for any attacks emanating from the territory it controls, regardless of the source.

In response to the rocket barrages, the IDF’s Home Front Command overnight issued instructions restricting gatherings in the Gaza periphery: up to 100 people in open areas and 500 people in closed spaces.

The rocket fire comes amid a deadly flareup in violence in the Gaza Strip. Earlier on Friday, thousands of Palestinians gathered at five locations along the border, burning tires and throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

Five protesters were killed and another 170 were injured in the clashes with IDF troops, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said. One of those killed was blown up by his own hand grenade, which exploded prematurely, witnesses said.

Earlier this week, a rocket was launched at southern Israel from Gaza, triggering sirens in a number of communities in the Eshkol region, ending a week-long stretch of relative calm in the coastal enclave. In response to that attack, the IDF said it hit eight Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including training bases and a weapons production facility.

A picture taken on on October 27, 2018 shows an explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The ramped up tensions are likely to complicate the mission of Egyptian mediators, who have intensified their shuttle diplomacy to achieve calm and prevent a full-blown conflict between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel.

Weekly large-scale riots by Gazans, and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, have become a mainstay along the Strip’s security fence since March 30, as part of a Hamas-led effort known as the “March of Return.”

These demonstrations take place each Friday, regularly sending massive amounts of thick smoke into the Israeli communities nearby, as Palestinians burn tires along the border and send incendiary devices affixed to balloons into Israel to spark fires.

The period since March 30 has also included a number of significant flareups and extended clashes. Another rocket launched from the Gaza Strip last week struck a home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, causing significant damage, but no injuries as the family inside had reached their bomb shelter in time.

In recent weeks, the situation along the border has grown more precarious, as indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas — with the Egyptian military and United Nations acting as intermediaries — have reached a critical turning point.

A Palestinian holds a Palestinian flag as he uses a slingshot to hurl rocks at Israeli troops during clashes near the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on October 26, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israel has called for a cessation to all violence, including both the clashes on the border and the daily arson attacks that have burned large swaths of land in the south, in exchange for certain economic incentives and an easing of the blockade around the coastal enclave, which is imposed by Israel to prevent Hamas importing weapons.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures. Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seized control of the Strip in 2007 and seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border.

The Associated Press and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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Netanyahu defends freezing Western Wall deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Blaming ‘ultra-Orthodox street,’ Netanyahu defends freezing Western Wall deal

PM tells US Jewish leaders in Tel Aviv that spats over the site and conversion can easily be overcome and that he’s worried more by the loss of Jewish identity in the Diaspora

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish federation's annual General Assembly in Tel Aviv, on October 24, 2018 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish federation’s annual General Assembly in Tel Aviv, on October 24, 2018 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Addressing North American Jewish leaders in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his controversial freezing of a compromise deal to expand the pluralistic prayer platform at the Western Wall, blaming pressure from the “ultra-Orthodox street,” and arguing that religion and state issues in Israel have always been settled with “ad hoc compromises” and “slowly evolving arrangements.”

While the agreement — made in January 2016 and suspended a year and a half later — will not be fully implemented, he vowed that a new “refurbished” prayer platform will open very soon.

Dismissing the discussion over the wall and other contentious matters, such as conversion, as issues that can easily be “overcome,” Netanyahu said the biggest problem facing world Jewry today was the loss of Jewish identity, and that the development of Jewish consciousness and pride in the minds of young Jews was the Diaspora’s most important mission.

Asked about Diaspora Jews’ concerns regarding the lack of religious pluralism in Israel, Netanyahu replied by noting that even the country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, had failed to bridge the gap between the secular majority and an ultra-Orthodox minority, without which he was unable to form a government.

“These are two conflicting principles — you can’t resolve it with a unifying principle. You resolve it by a series of ad hoc compromises, and they evolve over time,” Netanyahu said at the closing plenary of the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly.

“From time to time, the status quo is challenged. It evolves in step-functions. By the way, most of human progress until recently has been step functions. You sort of settle on a status-quo and it goes up to a certain point, and then it changes,” he continued.

On the matter of who would be authorized to perform conversions to Judaism, Netanyahu said that during his first term as prime minister he had found a good compromise with the Yaakov Ne’eman Commission, which survived for 20 years before it was challenged. The current government then commissioned a report by Moshe Nissim, which Netanyahu said was a “good compromise,” but added that he is currently unable to pass it. “It depends on the political realities,” he said.

Turning to the Western Wall, he recounted negotiating a compromise deal calling for a pluralistic prayer platform at the holy site that would be “accessible in an uplifting way” to everyone. That blueprint included the creation of a joint entrance to all three prayer areas — the pluralistic one and the two gender-separated sections to be used by Orthodox worshipers.

“We had technical drawings, the whole thing. Part of that [agreement] had explanatory notes, when I brought it to the government, which would imply an indirect recognition in Israel of the Conservative and Reform streams,” Netanyahu said. “And that was okay. People agreed. Then it was challenged, immediately, by the ultra-Orthodox street, and they basically said, you know, ‘Choose: You have a government, no government.’”

Netanyahu also said that members of the opposition may attack him for caving to the pressure, but that he has proof that they had themselves had made offers to the ultra-Orthodox parties “that exceed the ones given by Likud.”

Rather than canceling the agreement, he merely suspended it, Netanyahu said. “Keep it there. Don’t cancel it. But move with what the agreement actually says you do, which is refurbish the plaza.”

Netanyahu noted that work started on Tuesday to put back the boulder that fell out of the wall on to the egalitarian platform in July.

“This should speed up the conclusion and I expect the plaza to be completed [soon],” he said. “We finished nearly all the regulatory work, which was just impossible, but we’re getting there. That plaza will be there, refurbished, new, safe, very beautiful.”

Israel is and will remain the home of all Jews, the prime minister went on, to applause from the audience. “I don’t care whether they’re Conservative or Reform or Orthodox, and I don’t care if they’re completely secular or non-believing.”

The egalitarian prayer platform at the Western Wall’s Robinson’s Arch archaeological area. (Eilat Mazar)

The balance between religion and state in Israel is different from the system that exists in the US or elsewhere, he went on, “But it is what it is here. This is what we have: a series of slowly evolving arrangements.” Ultimately, those arrangements reflect the “evolution of the Israeli electorate,” he said.

Toward the end of his appearance, as his host, outgoing JFNA chair Richard Sandler, was about to bid the prime minister farewell, Netanyahu asked to make another point, stressing what he said really worries about him about Diaspora Jewry.

“What I’m concerned with when it comes to the Jewish people is one thing, and that’s the loss of identity. It’s not the question of the Wall or conversion; we’ll overcome that. It’s the loss of identity,” he said.

Paraphrasing an article by Ammiel Hirsch, Netanyahu said that those who are not concerned with Jewish survival will not survive as Jews.

“There is some basic truth to that,” he said. “Jewish survival is guaranteed in the Jewish state, if we defend our state. But we have to also work at the continuity of Jewish communities in the world by developing Jewish education, the study of Hebrew, having the contact of young Jews coming to Israel.”

What is needed is a new approach, suitable for the internet age, that will help Diaspora Jews “understand that their own future as Jews depends on continuous identity,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s protecting Jewish identity and developing Jewish consciousness that is the most important thing. It transcends politics; it touches on the foundations of history,” he concluded. “We’re one people. Let’s make sure that every Jewish child in the world knows how proud they should be to be Jews.”

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Israel: Supreme Court nixes deportation of US student accused of BDS support

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Supreme Court nixes deportation of US student accused of BDS support

Lara Alqasem’s lawyers hail ruling rejecting state’s attempt to bar her entry to study; interior minister calls decision a ‘disgrace’

US student Lara Alqasem at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on October 17, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

US student Lara Alqasem at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on October 17, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that an American student accused of advocating boycotts of Israel can enter the country, putting an end to a weeks-long saga that drew scrutiny of an Israeli law allowing alleged anti-Israel activists to be barred from entry.

Lara Alqasem, 22, had been held in detention for 15 days after arriving in Israel for a master’s program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The state alleged that Alqasem, who headed the local chapter of the pro-boycott Students for Justice in Palestine group while she was a student at the University of Florida, currently supports the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

In court, Alqasem insisted that she has not participated in boycott activities for a year and a half, and promised not to engage in BDS in the future. State lawyers argued that Alqasem’s deletion of her social media aroused suspicion and that she remains a threat.

In accepting her appeal, the Supreme Court overturned a ruling by a lower court that upheld the ban on her entry under a 2017 law forbidding BDS activists from entering Israel.

Alqasem, whose father is Palestinian, was released shortly after the Supreme Court decision.

Justice Neal Hendel, one of three Supreme Court judges who heard the appeal, affirmed in the ruling that while the state has the authority to bar BDS activists from the country, the law was not applicable in Alqasem’s case.

Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on April 23, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“In this case, preventing the entry of the plaintiff does not advance the purpose of the law and it was even argued, for example, by the Hebrew University that it harms Israeli academia,” Hendel wrote.

“The fight against boycotts is fitting and vital, as are the actions taken by the State of Israel on the matter. However, the concrete action before us clearly deviates from the range of reasonableness and cannot be accepted,” he added.

Alqasem’s lawyers praised the Supreme Court ruling and her “principled and brave stand” against the ban on her entry, calling it a “gross misapplication” of the anti-BDS law.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law. Israel has the right to control its borders, but that right does not give the Interior Ministry unchecked power to turn away anyone it deems unwanted,” attorneys Yotam Ben Hillel and Leora Bechor said in a statement.

“Lara has ensured that no one else should be denied the right to enter Israel based on sloppy Google searches and dossiers by shadowy smear groups,” they added, referring to the sources of the state’s argument that Alqasem supports the BDS movement.

“Lara’s case proves that thought-policing has no place in a democracy.”

Hebrew University, which joined Alqasem’s appeal, also welcomed the court’s decision.

“The Hebrew University of Jerusalem looks forward to welcoming our newest student, Lara Alqasem, as she begins her MA in Human Rights & Transitional Justice at our law school next week,” it said in a statement.

View of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus seen from Jerusalem’s Old City, on June 10, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Supreme Court ruling also was also welcomed by left-wing lawmakers and organizations, while right-wing politicians assailed it.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, whose ministry is tasked with enforcing the law, called the ruling a “disgrace.”

“Where is our national dignity? In the US would she also dare to act against the state and demand to remain and study there? I’ll examine ways to prevent the recurrence of a case like this,” he wrote on Twitter.

Thursday’s ruling was a blow to Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, whose ministry oversees anti-BDS efforts. He rejected a promise from Alqasem not to take part in boycott activities while in Israel as insufficient and was the most vocal opponent of allowing her to enter the country.

AP contributed to this report.

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Israel: Liberman urges cabinet to okay ‘serious blow’ to Hamas in Gaza

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Signaling war, Liberman urges cabinet to okay ‘serious blow’ to Hamas in Gaza

Defense minister says daily riots along security fence cannot continue, believes large military campaign could bring 4-5 years of calm

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday called on his fellow ministers to approve a large-scale military campaign against the Hamas terror group in Gaza in light of ongoing riots and violence along the Strip’s security fence.

“I’ve held a series of meetings with the head of the Southern Command, the head of the [Gaza] Division, the brigade commanders, the battalion commanders, also with soldiers. My impression is that they all have reached the understanding that the situation as it is today cannot continue,” Liberman said.

According to the defense minister’s assessment, a “serious blow” to Hamas would result in four to five years of calm along the Gaza border — akin to the quiet that persisted from the end of the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, until the start of the current round of clashes in late March, a few limited skirmishes notwithstanding.

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have participated in a series of protests and riots dubbed the “Great March of Return,” which have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks and bombings as well as the sending of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel.

Some 155 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been injured in the clashes with IDF troops, according to AP figures; Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the dead were its members. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the border.

Palestinian protesters carry tires as smoke billows from burning tires at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza city, on October 12, 2018 (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

The riots began as weekly events, but in recent weeks — due to both an internal Palestinian conflict and failed indirect negotiations with Israel — the clashes have become a daily event.

The defense minister said the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and convinced him that a full-scale military action was necessary in Gaza was the rioting that took place along the border last Friday evening, after Israel allowed additional fuel into the Strip that had been purchased by Qatar.

“We have exhausted all other options in Gaza,” Liberman said during a visit to the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza Division headquarters near the Strip.

“Now is the time to make decisions,” he added.

Liberman said “persuasions and international cooperation” have failed to bring about a negotiated armistice with the Hamas terror group, leaving only the possibility of military action.

“We need to strike a serious blow at Hamas,” he said. “That’s the only way to bring back quiet.”

The security cabinet, which approves such military campaigns, met Sunday to discuss the possibility of an attack against Hamas, but ultimately decided to wait until the week’s end in order to give negotiators a chance to convince the group to abandon its current violent tactics.

An Egyptian military intelligence delegation reportedly arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to meet with Hamas officials in an attempt to calm the situation.

On Wednesday, the cabinet is due to meet again.

“[A strike on Hamas] must be the decision of the security cabinet,” Liberman told reporters following his meetings with senior IDF officers.

The defense minister said he was taking Hamas at its word that what it sought to achieve with the riots was an end to the blockade that Israel and Egypt have imposed on Gaza since Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007 — a measure that Jerusalem and Cairo say is in place to prevent arms and hostile forces from entering the coastal enclave.

“When Hamas says that it’s going to continue rioting on the border until there’s an end to the blockade, we need to accept that as it is, without interpretations,” Liberman said.

“Getting rid of the blockade has one meaning… allowing Hezbollah members and Iranians into Gaza,” he said, referring to the powerful Lebanon-based terror group.

A Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl a stone during clashes at the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip on October 3, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Asked if the government was seeking to ensure lasting quiet for southern Israelis — beyond the four or five years that Liberman said a campaign would bring — the defense minister said that for now he was “only looking at the short term.”

“But if we get four or five years of quiet, we need to take advantage of it,” he said.

Liberman acknowledged that such a campaign would come at a cost to the IDF, as Hamas’s weapons have become more powerful and more accurate.

The defense minister also briefly discussed the criticism he has faced from within the security cabinet, notably from Education Minister Naftali Bennett, over the violence in Gaza.

Bennett has accused the defense minister of failing to address the problem and holding back the military from attacking Hamas.

Liberman brushed off Bennett’s critiques, saying he had “deleted” him from his life.

“I don’t know a Minister Bennett,” Liberman told reporters with a smirk.

Asked about the disappearance and alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government, the defense minister refused to comment.

“I’ll leave that to the international community. We have enough problems here,” he said

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Israel’s Liberman: No fuel or gas will enter Gaza until all violence stops

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Liberman: No fuel or gas will enter Gaza until all violence stops

Army says several Palestinians breached security fence on Saturday, returned to Gaza; firefighters tackle 4 blazes caused by arson balloons near Israeli communities

Palestinian protesters carry tires as smoke billows at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza city, on October 12, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Palestinian protesters carry tires as smoke billows at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza city, on October 12, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Israel will not allow any more fuel into the Gaza Strip until violence against Israel from the Hamas-run enclave halts “entirely,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Saturday.

“Until violence in the Gaza Strip stops entirely, including the launching of incendiary balloons and the burning of tires near Israeli communities, the supply of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip will not be renewed,” he said.

Israel on Friday halted the transfer of fuel to Gaza in response to heavy rioting and attacks at the border fence. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, whose terror group seeks to destroy Israel, vowed Saturday that mass rallies would continue until the “siege on Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and all the lands of Palestine is lifted.”

On Saturday afternoon two Palestinians breached the border in the north of the Strip and hurled an object at an unmanned IDF post. They then returned to Gaza. Security forces arrived at the scene to inspect the suspicious object.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on July 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Later in the evening the army said a number of attempts to breach the security fence were identified, some of them successful.

“In all of the events, the suspects were under surveillance from the moment of the crossing and returned to the Gaza Strip immediately,” the military said.

“In addition, a suspect who crossed the security fence from the northern Gaza Strip was apprehended near the crossing point without any weapons in his possession. The suspect was transferred to security forces for further questioning.”

Since the morning, firefighters worked to extinguish four blazes caused by incendiary balloons near Israeli towns in the Gaza periphery, a spokesman for the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services said.

One flaming balloon landed near a grocery store in Kibbutz Givat Brenner, near Rehovot. A civilian found the balloon and extinguished it. Police were called to the scene.

An incendiary balloon that landed in Kibbutz Givat Brenner on October 13, 2018 (Courtesy)

Police, meanwhile, said four such balloons discovered in recent days in the central towns of Rishon Lezion, Bat Yam, and Modiin had all probably come from Gaza, according to the Walla news site.

Police sappers who examined the balloons found the incendiary devices they carried identical to those used in Gaza. Police noted that the distance between Gaza and the cities in question was not great, and said balloons could easily cross such distances on air currents.

Earlier, during funerals for some of the Gazans killed in the previous day’s border riots, Haniyeh said: “The strength of will and the determination of our people in the March of Return will lead to victory over the crimes of the occupation. The blood of the martyrs brings us closer to victory over the Zionist enemy.”

He added that “our marches are not for diesel fuel and dollars, but a natural right of our people.”

Palestinians carry the bodies of Ahmad al-Tawil (R) and Ahmed Abu Naim (L), who were killed the day before during a protest along the Israel-Gaza border fence, during their funeral in Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on October 13, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Seven Palestinians were reported killed in intense clashes with Israeli security forces along the Gaza border Friday afternoon, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Gaza media outlets said at least 150 protesters were injured.

In the most serious incident, the army said assailants planted a bomb at the fence in the south of the Strip, blowing a hole in it. Some 20 Gazans then infiltrated the border and approached an IDF snipers’ post. Most turned back, but three who did not were shot and killed, the IDF said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech in Gaza City on January 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Liberman’s order to halt the transfer of fuel into the Gaza Strip in response to the incident came only days after Israel began allowing fuel donated by Qatar to be pumped into the Strip to allow increased power for residents.

“Israel will not tolerate a situation in which fuel is allowed into Gaza while terror and violence is used against IDF soldiers and citizens,” a statement from his office said Friday.

On Saturday minister and security cabinet member Yoav Gallant described the terrorist group as Israel’s “weakest and most aggressive enemy, a puppy that barks and shouts.”

He slammed Hamas for its actions in Gaza, saying it was “using the blood of civilians to provoke international attention.”

In recent days Qatari-bought fuel had begun entering the Strip to allow operation of its only power station, in a bid to alleviate conditions in the blockaded Palestinian enclave. Hundreds of liters of fuel have since passed into the territory.

Israel facilitated the delivery over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, hoping it would help ease months of protests and clashes.

A Qatari official told the Reuters news agency that the $60 million fuel donation came “at the request of donor states in the United Nations, to prevent an escalation of the existing humanitarian disaster.”

Housing Minister Yoav Galant speaks at the 15th annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group, on February 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

For months residents of the strip have been receiving only four hours of electricity a day on average. Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s resident humanitarian coordinator, told the Reuters news agency the delivery will add a few more hours of electricity to Gaza’s 2 million residents.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in a 2007 near civil war and multiple reconciliation attempts aimed at restoring the PA to power in Gaza have failed.

Abbas says that making deals with Hamas amounts to recognizing their control over Gaza in place of the PA and has sought to block the fuel deliveries. He has reportedly threatened to cut off funds to Gaza in response to the fuel transfers.

Israel fears further deterioration in Gaza could lead to another round of war on the southern border.

Both Israel and Egypt enforce restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Israel says the blockade is necessary to keep Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip from arming or building military infrastructure.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Earliest known stone carving of Hebrew word Hebrew word For Jerusalem Found  

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

  • The inscription as it was found in the excavation near the Jerusalem International Convention Center, winter 2018. (Danit Levy, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • Danit Levi, director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, beside the inscription as found in the field near the Jerusalem International Convention Center, winter 2018. (Yoli Shwartz, IAA)
  • The unique inscription from Jerusalem, as displayed at the Israel Museum alongside other artifacts from the Second Temple period, October 2018. (Laura Lachman, Courtesy of the Israel Museum)
‘EVERY CHILD WHO KNOWS A FEW LETTERS OF HEBREW CAN READ IT’
‘Jerusalem’ found Earliest known stone carving of Hebrew word For Jerusalem Found  

Unearthed in what was an artisan’s village 2.5 km from ancient Temple, inscribed column from 100 BCE features Aramaic, Hebrew, two of the languages used by Jerusalemites of the era

Main image by Danit Levi, Israel Antiquities Authority

The earliest stone inscription bearing the full spelling of the modern Hebrew word for Jerusalem was unveiled on Tuesday at the Israel Museum, in the capital.

While any inscription dating from the Second Temple period is of note, the 2,000-year-old three-line inscription on a waist-high column — reading “Hananiah son of Dodalos of Jerusalem” — is exceptional, as it is the first known stone carving of the word “Yerushalayim,” which is how the Israeli capital’s name is pronounced in Hebrew today.

The stone column was discovered earlier this year at a salvage excavation of a massive Hasmonean Period Jewish artisans’ village near the Jerusalem International Convention Center, at what is now the entrance to the modern city, by an Israel Antiquities Authority team headed by archaeologist Danit Levi.

“A worker came to me in the office towards the end of the day and excitedly told me to grab my camera and writing materials because he’d found something written,’” Levi told The Times of Israel, ahead of the column’s unveiling Tuesday.

‘My heart started to pound and I was sure everyone could hear it. My hands were trembling so badly I couldn’t properly take a picture’ — archaeologist Danit Levi

At first, the excited worker could not clearly explain what he had found, and Levi thought it was graffiti.

“I was picturing red spray paint in my mind and couldn’t understand how that happened because the latest dating could only be 2,000 years ago or earlier,” said Levi.

Danit Levi, director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority near the Jerusalem International Convention Center, at the Israel Museum on October 9, 2018, for the unveiling of an unusual stone inscription. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

But when she saw the professionally chiseled Hebrew lettering inscribed into the stone column, she realized it was something unusual. Brushing off the dirt, she began to read what was written.

“My heart started to pound and I was sure everyone could hear it. My hands were trembling so badly I couldn’t properly take a picture,” said Levi, who dates the column and its inscription to 100 BCE.

The 80 cm. high column has a diameter of 47.5 cm, said Levi, and would have originally been used in a Jewish craftsman’s building. It presumably belonged to or was built with money from Hananiah son of Dodalos.

While inscribed in a Jewish village — Levi said there is evidence of ritual baths as well as other finds bearing Hebrew lettering at the site — the column was eventually reused in a plastered wall, found in a ceramic construction workshop in use by the Tenth Roman Legion, that would eventually destroy Jerusalem in 70 CE.

Hananiah may have been one of the several potters of the village located a mere 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) outside of ancient Jerusalem, who created vessels used by Jerusalemites and pilgrims for everyday cooking and Temple offerings. Industrial areas such as this one, said Levi, are always found outside of urban areas to avoid the city’s pollution.

Strategically located near clay, water, and fuel for their kilns, the village was also on a main artery leading to the Temple — which is used until today, noted the IAA’s Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch at the unveiling.

Jerusalem during the Second Temple, said Baruch, was one of the largest cities in the east, with a population of at least 50,000 residents, which swelled by as many as hundreds of thousands, during the three annual pilgrimage festivals. The excavated artisans’ site is approximately 200 dunams, “larger than a small village,” which would have been necessary to cater to the needs of the pilgrims ascending Temple Mount.

The inscription as it was found in the excavation near the Jerusalem International Convention Center, winter 2018. (Danit Levy, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The stone inscription is now on display at the Israel Museum in a room of the archaeology wing that is dedicated to Second Temple period artifacts discovered in Jerusalem, including a new piece which the inscription, “Ben HaCohen HaGadol,” or son of the High Priest. On a platform upon which the Jerusalem column stands are stone vessels and pottery, perhaps even created by Hananiah himself.

The inscription, labeled as Aramaic at the Israel Museum, gives some insight into Hananiah. Written in Hebrew letters, he is called “Hananiah bar Dodalos,” the Aramaic word “bar” used to denote “son of.” The name of his father, “Dodalos,” said the archaeologists, is a nickname for artists of the time, based on Greek mythology’s Daedalus.

New director of the Israel Museum Prof. Ido Bruno said he was pleased to continue a fruitful collaboration between his institution and the IAA. He noted that the short inscription, found only a seven-minute walk away, is evidence of a long history of ceramic craft and industry.

Bruno added that, as a Jerusalemite himself, he was excited to see the word “Yerushalayim.”

“Every child who knows a few letters of Hebrew can read it,” said Bruno, “and understand that 2000 years ago, Jerusalem was written and spelled like today.”

Is the inscription in Hebrew or Aramaic?

The unique inscription from Jerusalem, as displayed at the Israel Museum, October 2018. (Laura Lachman, Courtesy of the Israel Museum)

According to the Israel Museum’s new display text accompanying the inscription, it is written in Aramaic. According to scholars at the Academy of the Hebrew Language, however, the crown jewel of the inscription, the word “Yerushalayim,” clearly indicates the use of Hebrew, not Aramaic.

In Aramaic, the word would have been spelled “Yerushalem,” said Dr. Alexey (Eliyahu) Yuditsky, who works as a researcher for the academy’s Historical Dictionary Project.

“The spelling with the letter ‘yud’ points to the Hebrew pronunciation,” said Yuditsky from his Givat Ram office.

The more difficult question, said Yuditsky, is what is Aramaic and what is Hebrew during this era? They are sister languages and many Jerusalemites would have spoken both fluently, and even used them interchangeably.

Opening a book by epigraphist Ada Yardeni on Bar Kochba’s Cave of Letters, a trove of administrative documents dating to circa 131-136 CE, Yuditsky randomly pointed out a Hebrew contract in which Jews signed names both using the Hebrew “ben” for “son of” and the Aramaic “bar,” illustrating its undifferentiated nature during this era.

The use of “bar” in the new Jerusalem inscription, Yuditsky said, does not at all necessarily mean it was written in Aramaic.

Artifacts taken from a Roman Legion ceramic building materials workshop from an excavation near the Jerusalem International Convention Center, now displayed at the Israel Museum, October 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

The spelling of the name Hananiah son of Dodalos could have been “international,” said Yuditsky, and he would have spelled it this way, whether in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or Latin.

While, according to archaeologists, this inscription is the first of its kind uncovered in stone, the fact of finding a full spelling of Jerusalem is not such a rare occurrence for the time period, Yuditsky said.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, which may have been written as early as 400 BCE, but are definitely at least contemporary or earlier than the stone inscription, offer dozens of physical examples of the full spelling of “Yerushalayim.” Written in the same Hebrew font, a random example Yuditsky found in the IAA’s digital scan of the War Scroll jumped off the page in clear, modern-appearing script.

“You can find it [the spelling] in the Dead Sea Scrolls without end,” said Yuditsky.

Dr. Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, at the unveiling of an unusual stone inscription now on display at the Israel Museum, October 9, 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ Times of Israel)

But for this writer, it is something quite different to look at a computer screen at the digitalized Dead Sea Scrolls and to see a waist-high column inscribed with the name of the State of Israel’s capital.

Jerusalem archaeologist Baruch, well aware of the many travels and trials the Hebrew language passed through, traversing continents and historical time periods, in seeing this new inscription, he said he was moved that “some aspect of the Jews’ language was preserved the same way, from ancient times until today.”

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COMMENTS

NY Jewish school officials knew of abuse by teacher who molested 12 students

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

NY Jewish school officials knew of abuse by teacher who molested 12 students

Outside investigation finds that administrators at SAR Academy were warned about Stanley Rosenfeld’s sexual assault of young boys, but re-hired him a decade later anyway

A view of SAR Academy in the Bronx, NY, June 2018. (Google Street View)

A view of SAR Academy in the Bronx, NY, June 2018. (Google Street View)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Officials at a New York Jewish day school knew of allegations against an administrator who abused at least a dozen of the school’s students, according to an investigation.

The report, which was published Friday, found that Stanley Rosenfeld sexually abused at least a dozen students at SAR Academy, a Modern Orthodox school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Another teacher, Rabbi Sheldon Schwartz, was found to have acted inappropriately with at least four students.

Rosenfeld, a convicted sex offender, has admitted to molesting hundreds of boys throughout his life, including at SAR, according to the report.

JTA has reached out to Schwartz through his attorney seeking comment on the accusations against him.

T&M Protection Resources, an external firm with experience investigating sexual assault allegations, conducted the probe that examined allegations of child sex abuse by Rosenfeld, an assistant principal at SAR in the 1970’s who also taught English there a decade later. The school commissioned the investigation in January, soon after learning of the allegations.

The firm interviewed nearly 40 witnesses, as well as both Schwartz and Rosenfeld. T&M was able to interview Schwartz, however, only before hearing allegations of his inappropriate behavior.

Illustrative photo of an empty classroom. December 10, 2014. (Maxim Dinshtein/FLASH90)

“We want to extend our most sincere gratitude to the individuals who came forward to report instances of inappropriate behavior and abuse,” SAR’s leadership wrote in an email sent Friday linking to the report. “We remain heartbroken that our alumni suffered abuse while in SAR’s care, but we also are deeply inspired by their bravery.”

SAR’s announcement of the inquiry in January prompted two other Jewish day schools that had employed Rosenfeld to launch their own investigations: the Ramaz School, an elite Modern Orthodox Jewish day school in Manhattan, and Westchester Day School, in New York City’s northern suburbs. Ramaz published its external investigation in August, which found that administrators learned of Rosenfeld’s abuse after he had left the school but failed to act on the information.

Rosenfeld, now 84, was convicted of child molestation in 2001 for abusing a boy while employed at a Rhode Island synagogue. The Forward, which has investigated Rosenfeld’s abuse in a series of articles, discovered that he is living in a nursing home and is a registered sex offender.

The T&M report found that Rosenfeld would abuse young boys by inviting them to his home for Shabbat, where they would sleep over for one or two nights. At night, he would hover over their beds and fondle their genitals or other parts of their bodies. Some former students said Rosenfeld would stop the abuse after boys made it clear that it made them uncomfortable. Others reported laying motionless until the ordeal ended. Former students said the abuse caused them emotional suffering.

“One former student explained that during the night, he awoke to Rosenfeld’s hands on the former student’s penis inside the former student’s pajama bottoms, that Rosenfeld quickly removed them and then justified his presence in the twin bedded room where the boys were sleeping by saying that he heard the former student make a noise and wanted to check on him,” the report said.

The report also says that former students remember feeling as if Rosenfeld had drugged them while sleeping at his house. During those sleepovers, the report says, former students remember Rosenfeld urging them to wrestle with him while both he and the student were in their underwear. Rosenfeld would use the wrestling as a way to molest the boys. He also molested boys on the weekend retreat he would hold after they graduated from the eighth grade.

Rosenfeld, according to the report, also would abuse boys while at school, in addition to molesting at least one girl there. He asked a student to sit on his lap, where he fondled him, and also drew close to students or would corner them in public spaces before molesting them. In addition, the report says he physically abused students, slamming them against the wall and, in one case, grabbing a student’s face and putting it in the snow.

“Some of these students also reported that they heard their classmates talk about Rosenfeld and comment that they had also been touched or fondled by him and heard others more generally joke with one another about Rosenfeld’s fondling of boys,” the report says.

Illustrative: Until New York State passed a new law, most Jewish private schools were at a disadvantage when it came to funding for classroom technology. (Courtesy HAFTR)

T&M found that at least one faculty member alerted the principal at the time, Rabbi Sheldon Chwat, that she had seen Rosenfeld touch a boy’s groin in a school office. In addition, the investigation found that two parents of former students may have told SAR administrators about Rosenfeld’s misconduct, though no parents reported that directly to T&M. Chwat left the school in 1983 and died in 2014.

It is unclear whether Rosenfeld left the school in 1977 due to these reports. But someone the report identified as a “senior member” of SAR recalls Chwat saying that Rosenfeld was leaving because he was “the kind of person that has a proclivity or interest in students” and “not the person who should be with kids full-time.”

Regardless, Rosenfeld was rehired to teach sixth-grade language arts part-time in 1986 for one year. SAR’s assistant principal at the time, Rabbi Joel Cohn, asked the principal at the time, Rabbi Yonah Fuld, if there were any concerns regarding Rosenfeld. Cohn recalled that Fuld, who had been an associate principal while Rosenfeld was employed at SAR, eventually said “for a short amount of time, I think it’s OK.”

Fuld does not recall that exchange, nor does he recall Rosenfeld returning to teach at the school, the report says. It is unclear whether the administrators who hired Rosenfeld in 1986 knew of the abuse allegations. Fuld no longer works at the school and now lives in Israel.

In addition to its findings on Rosenfeld, the report found that Schwartz, a Judaic teacher, acted inappropriately with at least four students during the 1970’s. The report said Schwartz would wrestle with boys and also draw uncomfortably close with students and have them sit on his lap.

Rabbi Yonah Fuld, the former principal of the SAR Academy in New York, in 2018. (screen capture: YouTube)

Schwartz, according to the report, also would act as an enabler for Rosenfeld’s abuse, urging students to stay with Rosenfeld for Shabbat while frequently staying there himself as well. Two former students said they separately told Schwartz that Rosenfeld had abused them — one following a Shabbat and the other immediately after the abuse occurred.

In both cases, the former students recall Schwartz telling them that the experience was a dream. In the latter case, Schwartz played board games with the student to calm him down.

Schwartz’s attorney told JTA that he fully denies having known about Rosenfeld’s abuse.

Schwartz taught at SAR until January, when he was suspended pending the investigation. He was later fired and is now suing SAR for wrongful termination.

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