Israeli doctor treating Syrians hopes to save hearts and win minds

(This article is courtesy of the Times of Israel)

 

Israeli doctor treating Syrians hopes to save hearts and win minds

In 2013, Salman Zarka, then head of IDF medical corps in the north, sent injured Syrians who came to Israel’s border to a Safed hospital. Now, he’s running it

Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, speaks with a Syrian girl to whom he gave treatment (Courtesy).

Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, speaks with a Syrian girl to whom he gave treatment (Courtesy).

WASHINGTON — For Israeli soldiers guarding the country’s northern border, Shabbat morning is often, though not always, quite placid, even with a raging civil war unfolding miles away.

The Israel Defense Forces have naturally been vigilant to keep the Syrian conflict from bleeding into Israel, especially over the last year as Iran has sought to entrench itself in the beleaguered Arab state. But more often than not, it hasn’t been Syrians with weapons that head toward Israel’s borders: it has been Syrians with injuries.

That came to the fore on a fateful morning in February 2013, when seven Syrians arrived at the Israeli border in need of serious medical attention. The medics there provided them with care, but it soon became clear that this would not be enough to save their lives.

At the time, Salman Zarka was the head of the IDF Northern Command’s Medical Corps. He quickly determined that the wounded Syrians needed to go to a civilian hospital where they could receive a higher level of care.

The closest one was the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, an ancient city overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Zarka ordered that they be rushed to the facility, where they were treated, and some underwent surgery. Every single one of them survived.

Ten days later, they went back to their homes in Syria.

Now, Zarka is the director of Ziv — a position he’s held since 2014 — where he has continued to treat Syrians who come to the Israeli border in need of lifesaving medical interventions.

A Syrian man carries two girls covered with dust following a reported air strike by government forces on July 9, 2014 in the northern city of Aleppo. (Photo credit: AFP/AMC/ZEIN AL-RIFAI)

Since 2013, Ziv has played a small but pivotal role in the treatment of injured Syrians over the course of their country’s ruthless civil war. That is at least partly due to the hospital’s strategic location: roughly seven miles from the border with Lebanon and a little more than 50 from the Syrian border.

At first, Zarka thought 50 miles was too far for patients in critical condition (about a 30-minute drive with sirens), who, he feared, might not survive the trip.

“We decided that if we’re going to have a mission of saving lives, we’ll do it in the best way we know, and the best way with our experience was to have a military hospital just on the border so severe injuries can be treated there,” Zarka recently told The Times of Israel.

Therefore, in March 2013, after consultation with government officials, Israel built a facility on the border, near a Druze village.

But a year and a half later, it closed.

“We discovered it wasn’t needed,” said Zarka, who is Druze. “Most of the Syrians’ injuries were orthopedic. They did not require immediate medical attention and could wait to be treated at civilian facilities.”

Today, most of the burden falls on Ziv to treat Syrians who come to Israel asking for help. Since February 2013, the hospital has treated roughly 5,000 Syrians, according to Zarka.

The experience, he said, appears to have an impact on those rescued — many of whom had grown up thinking their southern neighbor was a villain.

Dr. Salman Zarka treats a wounded Syrian boy at the Ziv Medical Cener in Safed. (Courtesy)

“I’ve met many Syrians. When I met them at first, they were very afraid to meet their enemy and receive medical support from us,” Zarka said. “They didn’t always tell us the truth. We noticed that sometimes they changed their names. But things have changed. They have started smiling and speaking Hebrew. A number have told us that for many years they have been educated that we are the devil and need to be kicked back to the sea.

“Now,” he said, “they understand that we are more human than Assad.”

At Ziv, Syrians are treated confidentially to protect their identity from Syrian authorities, who would not take kindly to their accepting help from the Jewish state.

The patients stay anywhere from a few days to a few months. In a few rare cases, some have stayed longer than a year. While there, Zarka noted, they receive the same level of care as Israelis.

“We offer not just treatment for their injuries, we treat them according to the Israeli standards,” he said. “We do our best not just to try to save their lives, we try to improve the quality of their lives.”

Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance at the entrance to the emergency unit at Ziv Medical Center in Safed, northern Israel, on March 6, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

In one instance, a Syrian woman came to the border with her 10-year-old diabetic daughter after their village was bombed. The girl was unconscious and her mother thought she was dead. Shortly after they arrived at the border, the IDF brought them to Ziv, where the girl was treated for three months.

During that period, the medical staff trained the mother to care for her child once they left the unit — teaching her how to check her daughter’s glucose levels and how to give an insulin injection. They wanted to make sure she could keep her daughter healthy once they left.

When Ziv released her from the hospital, Zarka was fearful for both of their futures. “We were very worried especially about what would happen to this wonderful girl when she got back to Syria,” he said.

Four months later, however, that girl made it back to Ziv for a checkup.

“To see that she is surviving and gaining weight and in a better situation … you believe that you are changing something,” he said.

Zarka said when the girl returned she gave him a present: a drawing of the Israeli flag with a big heart and her name on it.

It said, “Todah Raba” — “Thank you” in Hebrew.

For Zarka, experiences like this one reveal the ability to influence the worldview of Syrians who might otherwise despise Israelis without actually knowing them. It may be a small sample size, he said, but that little girl will grow up grateful for the country that helped her while her own was trapped in a humanitarian catastrophe.

“She will believe Israelis are saving lives, that we are good people,” Zarka said. “Maybe some day, we will have a different relationship.”

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Israel: The Haredi establishment’s threat to constitutional democracy and equal rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

The Haredi establishment’s threat to constitutional democracy and equal rights: No marginal issue

The sex discrimination against women in public spaces is just the beginning of the havoc the ultra-Orthodox are wreaking on Israeli society

(Facebook)

(Facebook)

Veteran political analyst Anshel Pfeffer has published an incisive analysis of the dynamics now playing out on the right and far-right of the Israeli political spectrum, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu losing those who used to be his natural political partners: Liberman, Bennett, Shaked, Smotrich (“Netanyahu is Running Out of Natural Partners,” Haaretz, August 13, 2019). The Haredi establishment, he notes, is taking up that slack, however much it has been a reliable partner of his until now.

Pfeffer’s otherwise incisive analysis contains an appalling throwaway line about the Haredi establishment, one that expresses an all too common perception: “[Netanyahu] granted them total hegemony in the narrow areas of public policy and communal autonomy they care about.”

Narrow areas?

The ongoing dismissal, in particular on the left, of the threat to constitutional democracy posed by the religious establishment is a serious danger in its own right. Ben Gurion can be excused for not realizing the danger in giving blanket draft exemption to yeshiva students —  65 years ago. There is no excuse for such blindness now.

The Haredi establishment uses institutions of government, like the courts, and certainly, coalition politics, to further its own narrow, sectoral interests, while having no fundamental loyalty to these institutions. Deputy Minister of Health Litzman, who does not take a “deputy” salary, but a full one, and who has used his office richly (pun intended), for Haredi interests, as he defines them (the victims of the Haredi rapists he has protected, according to a pending indictment, are also Haredi), is “Deputy,” rather than full Minister, because his boss, the Gerer rebbe, and he, do not recognize the State of Israel. The State’s payouts, however, they very much recognize.

The threat to public space — in the news just this week, in the ruling of a court against sex discrimination in a public space in Afula — is huge and ongoing. As the Israel Women’s Network and other groups have noted, this is a war of attrition. Newly minted Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said this himself when, after a flurry of outrage about his call for a theocracy here, he acknowledged that such is not possible now — but that piecemeal steps can be and will be taken. This is why it is so important for Smotrich and his ilk not just to be members of Knesset but ministers, who have  broad discretion, staff, and budgets at their disposal. As with the abortion struggle in the US, piecemeal steps are the means to a larger goal.

If it is acceptable to discriminate against women in public space, we are back to demands for sex discrimination in buses, sidewalks, etc. We already struggle against demands for sex discrimination in universities and in the army, refighting the conclusion long ago reached on the basis of too much sorry experience, that there is no such thing as “separate but equal”; any such demands necessarily and inevitably entail discrimination. The Haredi establishment makes an argument for privilege: its religious “needs” and sexual objectification of women take precedence over equal civil rights. Marginal issue?

The Haredi establishment fully supports immunity legislation for Netanyahu, not only as a quid pro quo for his favors but because Minister of Interior Arye Deri, is under police investigation for serious financial crimes and Deputy Minister of Health Yaacov Litzman is too, with the police investigative unit recommending indictment.

The Haredi establishment backs legislation to gut the authority of the Supreme Court by giving the Knesset the power through simple majority vote to override any Supreme Court ruling. This would end the separation of powers and the very meaning of a Supreme Court as the arbiter of constitutionality.

The Haredi establishment runs a vast patronage system in the yeshivas and in the Chief Rabbinate. Keeping Haredi males illiterate and financially dependent on it is the base of that establishment’s power: perpetuation of this system is its call on the public purse. Its right to continue depriving that population of basic secular education — math, English, civics, history — is therefore, its prime demand, which government after government, yes, Labor-led, too — grants, with the rest of us paying for it with our taxes not once, in ever escalating subsidies, but perpetually, to support a growing, impoverished population. Why do yeshiva students get automatic exemption from army or alternative service and university students do not? Equal rights?

Study after study has shown the inflation of prices we pay for food in order to support the patronage system which is the kashrut kingdom of the Chief Rabbinate.

To dismiss all this as some marginal issue is beyond comprehension and effectively, collusion with the abuse the Haredi establishment hopes to keep perpetuating.

While Netanyahu, increasingly cornered by various dynamics, may be further sidling up to the Haredi establishment, his opposition in the Blue and White party is hardly showing awareness of, or determination about, the threat to constitutional democracy, equal rights, or rational government, posed by the Haredi establishment.

All this is anything but a marginal issue and, whereever we are on the political spectrum, we minimize it at our peril.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shulamit S. Magnus is a professor of Jewish history and an award-winning author of books on Jewish modernity and on Jewish women’s history.
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About BDS and Congressional and Other Manipulations

So many resolutions in Congress about BDS; ostensibly, these are about being for and against boycotts and the right to boycott though it is clear that, without mentioning BDS or Israel, specifically, that is what all this is about.

For some, it’s hard to follow the moves till now but the various motions and anti-motions are just beginning. All this has become a political live-wire between the Republican and Democratic parties, with the Republicans sensing a juicy opportunity to exploit Democratic division and paint that party as anti-Israel, or even ant-Jewish, facts be damned. When Jews and Israel, the Jewish state, become stand-ins for dividing lines between major parties and segments of popular opinion, it is not good news for the Jews. Some have felt that a choice between Jewish and constitutional, democratic commitments is what is called for in this moment. That is not true, at all.

There is no contradiction between upholding the Constitution and the constitutional right to free speech, including speech with which one disagrees, and supporting the right of individuals, or states, or the Federal government, not to give their private business, or government business, to entities that boycott Israel. Either boycotts are ok or they aren’t. And they are.

The question is selective use of them, and in particular, in this case, the language used in supporting them, and disgusting analogies that are employed, that are intended to serve, and that serve, to demonize Israel. Not to oppose specific policies but to continue an obscene discourse, promoted about no other state or people on earth, about a “right to exist.”

BDS, of course, is marketed as boycotting only Israeli products from over the Green Line but anyone with an honest interest in all this needs also to be aware of the founding history and continued purpose of BDS, which has nothing to do with selective boycott or specific Israeli policies, but with deliberately misleading people about the founding history and continued purpose of BDS. Anyone who wants to dissociate from settlements or products from over the Green Line cannot credibly dissociate from the larger context in which organized efforts to this end are being waged. Which does not mean that individuals can’t follow their consciences about this but that they need to be aware of their bedfellows, whose “conscience” may be running on an entirely different agenda.

Google, “BDS,” if you never have, and see what comes up; try to get the BDS founding charter. See the language used by the organization itself to define its goals; the dishonesty. Here is cut-and-paste, with interpolation by me, in caps:

“Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. (DOES THIS INCLUDE SELF-GOVERNING JEWS?).

“Israel is occupying and colonising (SIC) Palestinian land, (NOTE THE FAILURE TO DESIGNATE WHAT PALESTINIAN LAND IS INTENDED. THAT EXCLUSION IS QUITE DELIBERATE, SINCE THE FOUNDERS OF BDS CONSIDER ALL OF ISRAEL, PRE-1967, TOO, “PALESTINIAN LAND,” AND EQUATE ZIONISM WITH “SETTLER COLONIALISM” OF, E.G., THE BOERS IN SOUTH AFRICA. THE ISSUE IS NOT THE WEST BANK , OR 1967, AS IT IS FOR SO MANY WHO SEEK TWO STATES FOR TWO PEOPLES, THAT IS, A NEGOTIATED END TO THE NATIONALITY/ LAND CONFLICT HERE, BUT ISRAEL ITSELF. WHY DON’T BDS’ FRAMERS JUST COME OUT AND SAY THIS, THAT THE GOAL IS THE END OF ISRAEL? BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE A HARDER SELL TO NICE, LIBERAL PEOPLE, WHILE MISLEADING PEOPLE IS SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE), discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. (OK, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT OR DID NOT WANT TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT IN THE ABOVE COMMENT, HERE IT IS, THE RIGHT OF RETURN AND THE END OF ISRAEL. THIS, WHILE NO SIMILAR CLAIM HAS BEEN OR IS BEING PRESSED IN OTHER NATIONALITY CONFLICTS AND ABOUT OTHER STATES, NOT LEAST, ARAB STATES, CREATED SINCE THE END OF WORLD WARS ONE AND TWO. PALESTINIAN ADVOCATES, TO BE SURE, ARE ENTITLED TO MAKE AN EXCEPTIONAL CASE FOR THEIR CAUSE BUT THE REST OF US SHOULD BE AWARE THAT THAT IS WHAT THIS IS). Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law. (NICE! COMPARE ISRAEL, WITH ARAB MKS, MEMBERS OF THE SUPREME COURT, THE MEDICAL AND UNIVERSITY AND BANKING  ESTABLISHMENTS, ON THE BEACHES AND IN THE SWIMMING POOLS, IN THE BUSES, TRAINS, STREETS, CAFES, THEATERS– WITH APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA– OR NAZI GERMANY. BY ALL MEANS, DON’T CONFINE THE DISCUSSION TO THE OCCUPATION REGIME ON THE WEST BANK; MAKE IT ABOUT ISRAEL ITSELF. NEEDLESS TO SAY, DON’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE CORRUPT, REPRESSIVE, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (PA), NEVER MIND, HAMAS; OR ABOUT SEVERAL PEACE DEALS THAT THE PA REJECTED, UNDER WHICH THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A PALESTINIAN STATE, WITH A CAPITAL IN JERUSALEM, SEVERAL TIMES OVER, LONG AGO.)

“BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Thirteen years since its launch, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.” NOTE THE SLEIGHT OF HAND IN THE FINAL WORDS HERE, WHICH CHARACTERIZE ISRAEL’S EXISTENCE AS INHERENTLY ILLEGITIMATE.

Me again, straight up:

It’s a free country and people are free to support, or oppose, boycotts, or other political and economic activities, as they wish. Many liberals are pushing to boycott US states that have recently passed legislation banning abortion. That is their right. And individuals and governments can choose where they give their business: either boycotts are ok or they aren’t; it can’t be had both ways. Telling people they can’t support boycotts, punishing them via employment or other measures, is clearly unconstitutional. It is also politically, stupid.

It is stupid for people who support Israel to align that support with anti-constitutional , anti-democratic, anti-liberal measures. It may be more than just stupid; it offends the Jewish principles of many. But at the least, it is does not serve Israel’s interests, indeed, is very counter-productive to those interests. And to those of Diaspora Jews. This tactic is a set-up  for charges of that old, Jew-hating canard of Jewish “dual loyalty; or for accusations of “self-hatred” and “assimilation.” All this is lose-lose for Jews and we should not allow ourselves to be played like this.

We CAN, and indeed, must walk and chew gum at the same time . This may be, indeed, is, challenging, but not in fact, that complicated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shulamit S. Magnus is a professor of Jewish history and an award-winning author of books on Jewish modernity and on Jewish women’s history.
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Israel said bracing for likely Omar, Tlaib visit to flash point Temple Mount

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel said bracing for likely Omar, Tlaib visit to flash point Temple Mount

During secret meeting of National Security Council, senior officials agree to allow congresswomen onto holy site, but not accompanied by PA officials

In this photo from February 5, 2019, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, left, is joined by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, at US President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In this photo from February 5, 2019, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, left, is joined by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, at US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Israeli officials are preparing for the likelihood that US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib may seek to visit the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem during their visit to the country next week, Channel 13 reported Wednesday.

A “secret meeting” was recently held on the subject in Israel’s National Security Council led by Deputy National Security Adviser Reuven Azar, according to Channel 13.

There, the network reported that Azar said there was a high probability that Omar and Tlaib, who are both Muslim, will seek to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine at the holy site.

The participants at the meeting agreed that if the congresswomen choose to do so, it is vital that the Israel Police not permit their visit to be accompanied by officials of the Palestinian Authority, which would serve as symbolic backing by the US lawmakers for Palestinian claims of sovereignty at the site, the holiest place in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.

Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and now claims all of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital in a future state.

in 2017 the US, under the Trump administration, shifted years of policy, and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy to the city. However, the US said the move did not constitute and endorsement of specific borders.

Muslim worshipers perform the Eid al-Adha morning prayers at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Israeli officials were unanimous in their view that the two lawmakers, who have expressed support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, should be allowed to visit Israel and the Temple Mount, as preventing the visits could hurt relations with the United States, Channel 13 said.

As recently as Sunday, tensions at the flash point site boiled over into all-out riots after Muslim worshipers objected Israel’s allowing of some 1,700 Jewish visitors on the site during the Tish’a B’av fast day, which fell this year during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.

At least 61 Muslim worshipers were injured in the clashes, according to the Red Crescent. At least four Israeli officers were also lightly to moderately wounded, police said.

Last month Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said that she would visit Israel and the West Bank with Tlaib, a Palestinian-American congresswoman from Michigan. Omar and Tlaib are the first female Muslim congresswoman.

Last Saturday, Axios reported that US President Donald Trump criticized the Israeli decision to allow Omar and Tlaib to visit the country.

Trump said that if Omar and Tlaib wanted to boycott Israel, “then Israel should boycott them,” Axios said, quoting a source with direct knowledge.

However, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham denied Trump ever gave any kind of directive to the Israelis. “The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news,” Grisham told Axios on Saturday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) with Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, at the president’s guest house, in Washington, DC, February 14, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Last month Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said Israel would not prevent the lawmakers from coming to Israel.

“Out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel,” Dermer told The Times of Israel in a statement.

Under a controversial law that Israel enacted in 2017, the state can prohibit any foreigner from entering the country who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.”

Since then, the Interior and Strategic Affairs ministries have used the statute to deny visas to a handful of students, activists and artists upon their arrival to Israel.

The Foreign Ministry, however, can recommend the law be waived for visiting politicians or government officials out of diplomatic concerns.

Israeli security forces walk past the Dome of the Rock as they arrive at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019, as clashes broke out during the overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and the Tisha B’av fast (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Omar last month introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by Tlaib, ostensibly aimed at pushing back against laws seeking to clamp down on boycotts of Israel. The resolution, which does not explicitly mention Israel or the Palestinians, affirms the right of Americans to participate in boycotts as an expression of free speech under the First Amendment, citing boycott movements against Nazi Germany, the USSR and apartheid South Africa.

It currently has three sponsors — Omar, Tlaib and Democratic Georgia Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the US civil rights movement.

Omar, Tlaib and other BDS supporters say that in urging businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel, they are using nonviolent means to oppose unjust policies toward Palestinians. Israel counters that the movement masks its motivation to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

Omar has said she supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Tlaib, however, has advocated for a single-state outcome.

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Israel: Temple Mount status quo should be changed so Jews can pray there

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Minister says Temple Mount status quo should be changed so Jews can pray there

Gilad Erdan stresses new arrangement should come from ‘diplomatic agreements and not by force’; draws criticism from Jordan

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during a ceremony for the outgoing Jerusalem police chief at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on February 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during a ceremony for the outgoing Jerusalem police chief at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on February 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday said Israel should push to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, days after clashes at the Jerusalem holy site.

As part of an arrangement in place since the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan, non-Muslims are barred from praying at the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam.

Erdan, whose ministry oversees police responsible for security at the Temple Mount, voiced support in an interview for changing the existing arrangements there.

“I think there is in an injustice in the status quo that has existed since ’67,” he told Israel’s Radio 90. “We need to work to change it so in the future Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount.”

He clarified that he opposes introducing such a change unilaterally.

“This needs to be achieved by diplomatic agreements and not by force,” Erdan said.

Muslim worshipers perform the Eid al-Adha morning prayers at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The remarks drew a rebuke from Jordan, whose foreign ministry warned any change to the status quo at the Temple Mount could have serious consequences.

A ministry spokesman said Jordan, which Israel recognizes as custodian of the Temple Mount as part of the 1994 peace treaty between the countries, sent a letter of protest over the public security minister’s remarks through diplomatic channels.

Talk or even rumors of changes to the status quo arrangement at the holy site are typically met with vociferous protest from the Muslim world, which has accused Israel of attempting to “judaize” the site or expand access for Jewish pilgrims.

Some Jewish activists have pushed for Israel to allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount as part of the country’s commitment to freedom of religion. On Sunday Tamar Zandberg, a lawmaker from the left-wing Meretz party, tweeted that Jews have a right to pray there but the best way to guarantee freedom of worship is through a diplomatic arrangement.

The compound was the site of clashes between Muslim worshipers and police on Sunday over the entry of Jews during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, which this year coincided with the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av.

On Sunday, Jordan’s foreign ministry slammed Israel for using force against Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount after clashes erupted there.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as the Palestinians, also condemned Israel over the clashes.

Israeli security forces clash with Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

According to Erdan, 1,729 Jews entered the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, a new record high for a single day.

Initially, police announced Sunday that non-Muslims would be barred from entering the Temple Mount, where tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers had arrived during the morning. Hundreds of Jews had gathered at the gates leading to the holy site on Sunday morning.

But following an uproar from right-wing ministers and lawmakers, a first round of Jewish visitors was allowed to enter the site. Several dozen visited under close police escort, but Muslim worshipers began throwing chairs and other objects at the group, and the Jewish visitors left the compound shortly thereafter.

With fewer Muslim worshipers on site than there were in the morning, the second round of visits by Jews took place largely without incident.

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Israel: liberal US Jews say Trump fueling white nationalism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

After El Paso massacre, liberal US Jews say Trump fueling white nationalism

Reform leader accuses president of emboldening mass shooters by ‘demonizing asylum seekers and immigrants’

From left, Melody Stout, Hannah Payan, Aaliyah Alba, Sherie Gramlich and Laura Barrios comfort each other during a vigil for victims of the shooting August  3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

From left, Melody Stout, Hannah Payan, Aaliyah Alba, Sherie Gramlich and Laura Barrios comfort each other during a vigil for victims of the shooting August 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

WASHINGTON — Liberal American Jewish leaders, fuming at another mass shooting allegedly carried out by a white supremacist, took US President Donald Trump to task on Sunday, saying he had fueled xenophobia and division in the country for three years, while failing to press for stricter gun laws.

Their condemnations came after a 21-year-old gunman, armed with a powerful rifle, walked into a crowded Walmart on Saturday in El Paso, Texas — a majority Hispanic city on the border with Mexico — and opened fire. Authorities identified the assailant as Patrick Crusius from Dallas, who stalked shoppers in the aisles of the retail giant as he riddled them with bullets, leaving at least 20 people dead and another 26 wounded.

Crusius is suspected of being the author of a manifesto posted online before the attack, in which he said was responding to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in a statement that the shooter was reciting language frequently used by Trump — a sign that his influence was evident in the motivation for the attack.

“The El Paso killer was a white supremacist who wrote a ‘send them back’ manifesto, echoing the words of President Trump,” Soifer said. “Trump is responsible for fueling a fire of xenophobia and hatred in our country, and Republicans are responsible for allowing it to occur.”

Pallbearers carry the casket of Poway synagogue shooting victim Lori Gilbert-Kaye during a graveside service on April 29, 2019, in San Diego, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

Over the past year, two other mass shootings by white supremacists were preceded by similar manifestos — one written by John Earnest before the Poway synagogue shooting in April, and one authored by Brenton Tarrant before he opened fire on two mosques in New Zealand in March, killing 50 people.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, noted that the release of a manifesto before Saturday’s attack fit the same pattern.

“We have documented a rise in extremist activity, both online and in our communities,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “As with too many of these incidents, our experts have again been reviewing the apparent manifesto of an alleged shooter, as well as other elements of his online footprint, to evaluate potential extremist ties.”

Greenblatt went on to say that, if police confirm the manifesto’s authenticity, it will make the El Paso attack one of the deadliest acts of domestic terrorism in modern American history.

“If the suspect is the author of the manifesto, this latest act of domestic terrorism will be, according to the ADL’s Center on Extremism’s records, the third deadliest act of violence by a domestic extremist in over 50 years, and the second deadliest act of violence by a right-wing extremist in the same span, second only to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing,” he added.

US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on August 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump has been frequently criticized for his tacit welcoming of support from white nationalists. During the 2016 campaign, he refused to immediately reject the support of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

As president, he likewise refused to immediately condemn neo-Nazis and Klan members who marched in Charlottesville in August 2017, saying that “very fine people” were marching alongside them.

Most recently, he told four freshmen congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from. All four are American citizens, and three of them were born in the United States.

He has also implemented immigration policies that have been broadly condemned as inhumane — including the family separation policy of splitting up parents from their children at the border — to deter immigrants and asylum seekers from entering the country.

After the El Paso attack, Rick Jacobs, who heads the Union for Reform Judaism, lamented the inaction of politicians to effectuate stronger gun-safety measures.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, addressing delegates at its 2017 Biennial in Boston, December 7, 2017. (Courtesy of the Union for Reform Judaism/via JTA)

“It is not enough for elected officials to muster their ‘thoughts and prayers,’” he said in a statement Saturday. “Like millions of Americans I’m sick of the pathetic excuses offered by too many lawmakers for not passing strong and effective common sense gun laws.”

He then directed his indignation toward Trump. “And if we are to call on the leaders of our nation to address this epidemic of hate, a goal that, hopefully, almost all Americans cherish, we must ask: When will this president stop demonizing asylum seekers and immigrants, which serves to embolden those like today’s shooter?”

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Israel: NASA discovers possibly habitable super-Earth 31 light-years away

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

NASA discovers possibly habitable super-Earth 31 light-years away

US space administration’s exoplanet-hunting telescope finds new solar system, including 3 planets orbiting a star about a third of sun’s mass and 40% cooler

This illustration shows one interpretation of what new planet GJ 357 d may be like. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

This illustration shows one interpretation of what new planet GJ 357 d may be like. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

NASA’s exoplanet-hunting telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has discovered a new solar system with at least three new planets including one that has shown potential for being habitable, the American space administration announced.

The three planets were discovered orbiting GJ 357, a red dwarf — a small and cooling star — 31 light-years away, relatively close in space terms, said Rafael Luque of Spain’s Institute of Astrophysics in the Canary Islands, the lead researcher in the discovery team.

The star is “about one-third the sun’s mass and size and about 40 percent cooler than our star,” NASA said.

The TESS cameras “caught the star dimming slightly every 3.9 days, revealing the presence of a transiting exoplanet — a world beyond our solar system — that passes across the face of its star during every orbit and briefly dims the star’s light,” NASA added.

The planet known as GJ 357d — the furthest away from the star — was particularly intriguing as researchers estimate it could be habitable. The other two, GJ 357b and GJ 357c are deemed too hot.

Signs of habitability in any planet include a rocky terrain, a size similar to Earth and a distance from their sun — the temperate “Goldilocks” zone neither too close nor too far — that allows the right temperature for liquid water, a key requirement for life.

Given its distance from its star, similar to that of Mars to our sun, researchers estimate the planet has temperatures of -53 degrees Celsius (-63.4 Fahrenheit), Luque told AFP.

“That seems a little cold at first,” he said.

But “if this planet had an atmosphere (unlike Mars), it could retain the heat it receives from its star, and water could be liquid.”

This diagram shows the layout of the GJ 357 system. Planet d orbits within the star’s so-called habitable zone, the orbital region where liquid water can exist on a rocky planet’s surface. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

Researchers also estimate GJ 357d could be roughly the same size as Earth or up to twice the size.

“The planet weighs at least 6.1 times Earth’s mass, and orbits the star every 55.7 days at a range about 20% of Earth’s distance from the sun. The planet’s size and composition are unknown, but a rocky world with this mass would range from about one to two times Earth’s size,” wrote Francis Reddy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which oversees TESS as a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission.

The findings were published on Wednesday, July 31, in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“GJ 357 d is located within the outer edge of its star’s habitable zone, where it receives about the same amount of stellar energy from its star as Mars does from the sun,” said co-author Diana Kossakowski at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. “If the planet has a dense atmosphere, which will take future studies to determine, it could trap enough heat to warm the planet and allow liquid water on its surface.”

It is not the first potentially habitable planet to have been discovered close to us.

In 2016, the discovery of Proxima b at a mere four light-years from the solar system made waves.

But there is a hitch.

Proxima b and GJ 357d were discovered via so-called radial velocity, which involves looking for signs of a wobble in a star from the gravitational tug of an orbiting planet.

But Luque says the method is not precise enough to ascertain whether it actually is habitable.

As things stand, in order to measure its size, density and composition, the planet has to pass directly between its star and an observer, the so-called “transit” method, he says.

That has not been possible for Proxima b and other nearer potentially habitable planets, Luque says.

In the coming months, Luque and his team will be working to try and catch GJ 357d in “transit” to try and confirm it as a habitable planet.

“The probability that a planet passes in front of a star from our line of vision on Earth is pretty small,” he adds.

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Israel: 32 Parties register for September elections, down from 47

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

32 parties register electoral slates for September vote, down from 47 last time

Polls suggest only nine parties may enter Knesset; a party headed by cult leader’s four wives submits slate; one aiming to advocate release of Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir does not

Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party, speaks outside the Central Elections Committee in Jerusalem, August 1, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party, speaks outside the Central Elections Committee in Jerusalem, August 1, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

With 47 days to go until the September 17 national vote, all 32 parties set to run in the election, and their electoral slates, have been registered with the Central Elections Committee.

The committee’s doors opened Wednesday for the parties jostling for the Knesset’s 120 seats and closed at midnight Thursday.

The total of 32 factions is down from the last election cycle, when a record 47 parties registered for the April 9 vote. The smaller number is partially a result of mergers between parties after several weeks of horse-trading.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the list for his Likud party, followed by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose Kulanu party merged with Likud in May, was placed 5th. Gideon Sa’ar, Miri Regev, Yariv Levin, Yoav Gallant and Nir Barkat round out the top 10 for Likud.

The electoral ticket submitted by Blue and White was almost identical to the one that competed in April’s elections, with changes made only to the order of candidates below number 30 on the slate. Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi occupy the top four slots.

Lapid, who merged his Yesh Atid party with Gantz’s Israel Resilience to form Blue and White ahead of the previous elections in April, is set to take over as prime minister from Gantz during the term as part of a rotation deal, if Blue and White forms the next government.

Likud and Blue and White are expected to dominate the vote, with polls predicting around 30 seats for each, roughly the same as in April.

The newly-formed United Right, an amalgamation of the New Right and the Union of Right-Wing Parties, is headed by former justice minister and New Right leader Ayelet Shaked, followed by URWP’s Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich, with former New Right chair Naftali Bennett placed at four. Latest polls suggest it may be headed for about 11 seats.

New Right chairwoman Ayelet Shaked speaks to reporters in the West Bank settlement of Efrat on July 22, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Ayman Odeh, Mtanes Shihadeh, Ahmad Tibi and Mansour Abbas lead the newly reunited Joint (Arab) List, which is also polling at around 11.

On the center-left of the spectrum, and polling at around six seats, Labor-Gesher is headed by Labor chief Amir Peretz, followed by Gesher’s Orly Levy-Abekasis, and Itzik Shmuli and Merav Michaeli of Labor.

Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz leads the Democratic Camp’s list, followed by ex-Labor MK Stav Shaffir, Israel Democratic Party’s Yair Golan and Meretz’s Tamar Zandberg. Former PM Ehud Barak was placed 10th on the list. This alliance is seen heading for about nine seats.

Avigdor Liberman, who helped precipitate the upcoming election by refusing to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, heads his Yisrael Beytenu party, which could be the kingmaker between the blocs, polling at around 10-11 seats.

The religious Mizrahi Shas party will once again run under the helm of party leader Aryeh Deri, while its Ashkenazi UTJ counterpart will once again be headed by Yaakov Litzman. The two ultra-Orthodox parties are seen heading for 13 seats between them.

Most polls show no other parties beyond these nine with a realistic chance of garnering enough support to enter the Knesset. That includes the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Moshe Feiglin’s quasi-libertarian hard-right Zehut.

The Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party faced immense pressure to join forces with United Right, but in the end filed to run on its own slate. The party’s list of candidates is headed by Itamar Ben Gvir, followed by former Kahane spokesman and current Hebron community leader Baruch Marzel.

Next on the slate is activist Adva Biton, whose daughter Adele was killed as a result of a 2013 West Bank terror attack, Otzma Yehudit director-general Yitzhak Wasserlauf, and Benzi Gopstein, who heads the Lehava anti-miscegenation group.

Negotiations regarding the submissions continued until the last minute, notably the protracted effort to merge the extremist Otzma Yehudit party with the newly-formed United Right union.

Pressure to reach an agreement continued right up until the deadline, with party leader Ben Gvir saying he had been asked to hold out a little while longer by Netanyahu, who has been pushing for the merger on the grounds that right-wing votes could be wasted if Otzma Yehudit, whose name means Jewish Power, failed to clear the 3.25% electoral threshold.

Thursday also saw hopes dashed for a grand left-wing union made up of the Democratic Camp — itself a merger between Meretz, Barak’s Israel Democratic Party and Shaffir — and the recently announced Labor-Gesher partnership.

Gesher party chair Orly Levy-Abekasis (L) and Labor head Amir Peretz announce their joint run in the September election, in Tel Aviv, July 18, 2019. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Despite significant internal criticism over the decision, newly-elected Labor leader Peretz opted to run independently of the Democratic Camp, and instead position Labor as a left-leaning socio-economic party less focused on diplomatic and peace issues.

Below are all parties set to run in the election, in the order in which they registered:

1. The Da’am: Green Economy – One State
2. Social Leadership
3. Economic Power
4. Yisrael Beytenu
5. Zechuyoteinu Bekoleinu (“Our Rights Are in our Vote/Voice”)
6. Zehut
7. Uncorrupted Red White
8. Pirate Party
9. Mitkademet
10. The Gush Hatanachi (Bible Bloc)
11. Shas
12. Justice, headed by Avi Yalou
13. Kama
14. Kavod HaAdam
15. United Torah Judaism
16. Respect and Equality
17. Democracy Party
18. Noam
19. Blue and White
20. Israel Brothers for Social Justice
21. Seder Hadash
22. Likud
23. Popular Unity
24. Democratic Camp
25. Tzomet
26. Ichud Bnei HaBrit
27. Joint List
28. Otzma Yehudit
29. Secular Right
30. Tzafon
31. United Right
32. Labor-Gesher

The Kama (Advancing Individual Rights) party is headed by four wives of a polygamous cult leader, Daniel Ambash, who was convicted of sadistic abuse of his family members six years ago. Most of the wives have never renounced Ambash, a Bratslav ultra-Orthodox Jew. They still live together, view themselves as his wives and revere him. Aderet Ambash, chair of the new pro-polygamy party, said that the new faction aims to fight to keep the government from intervening in Israelis’ private lives.

A political party aiming to free Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at a peace rally nearly 24 years ago, did not register. It wasn’t immediately clear why the party, Nura Deliba, did not submit its list.

Orly Adas, the director of the Central Elections Committee, had earlier told Channel 13 there was no legal precedent to ban the party from registering to run, but said the Knesset panel would try to prevent it.

The effort to form the party, whose name means “fire of the heart in Aramaic,” was condemned by Labor’s Peretz, who said the party celebrating the assassination of the Labor prime minister “crossed a red line.”

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Israel: Jews are the canary in the coal mine for humanity

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

JULY 27, 2019
CURRENT TOP STORIES
INTERVIEW‘WHEN MY FAMILY WAS IN TROUBLE THE JEWISH WORKERS BACKED US’

New UK anti-Semitism adviser: Jews are the canary in the coal mine for humanity

Labour MP John Mann hopes new PM will keep him in role he was given in one of May’s last acts as premier; no love lost between lawmaker and some Corbyn allies in his own party

Labour MP John Mann with German Premier Angela Merkel at the International Coalition for Combating Antisemitism. (Courtesy)

Labour MP John Mann with German Premier Angela Merkel at the International Coalition for Combating Antisemitism. (Courtesy)

LONDON —  According to British Labour MP John Mann, “when it comes to fighting anti-Semitism, it’s not enough for us to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jewish community, when the anti-Semites are throwing the stones of hatred, of bitterness, of bile.”

“We have to stand in front of [Jews] in this fight. This must not be only the responsibility of the Jewish community,” he said.

On Tuesday July 23, in one of her very last acts as prime minister, Theresa May appointed Mann as the government’s adviser on anti-Semitism. He joins Lord Tariq Ahmad as adviser on freedom of religion and belief, and Lord Eric Pickles as the special envoy on post-Holocaust issues. All three of the posts are performed pro-bono.

Mann, a tall, fit and burly politician with a well-founded reputation for plain speaking, knows what he is talking about. For the last 15 years he has headed the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) against anti-Semitism, stepping down from his chairmanship only this week.

He co-founded, with Canada’s former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, the International Coalition for Combating Antisemitism. Both bodies have consistently produced deeply researched reports into the nature and level of anti-Semitism, making recommendations to governments.

Perhaps the single act which brought him to national consciousness was his 2016 confrontation with former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who had just claimed on a radio program that Adolf Hitler was initially a supporter of Zionism. Not mincing his words, Mann rounded on Livingstone in a building crammed with TV cameras, calling him “a Nazi apologist.” It put him definitively out of kilter with many colleagues in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle, but Mann did not care.

In his office — a more spacious part of the parliamentary estate than many backbench MPs enjoy — Mann is relaxed and confident as he talks to The Times of Israel about the background to his appointment, a newly-created role which he hopes the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, will continue.

But how is that Mann, 59, whose northern mining constituency of Bassetlaw is almost certainly home to few or no Jews, became such a vehement defender of the Jewish community?

The answer, as Mann himself told a Community Security Trust (CST) dinner in February, lies in his own family background. He is Labour through and through, a child of Labour activist parents, and even met his wife through the Labour Party.

Labour MP John Mann speaking at the Community Security Trust dinner in February 2019, after presenting red roses to four Jewish women MPs who had become the targets of antisemitic abuse. (Courtesy)

But it was the actions of his great-grandparents which set the scene for the Mann family.

“My great grandparents formed the Labour Party with Jewish workers in Leeds in 1906, and at every stage in their history, in their involvement in the Labour Party, stood alongside the Jewish community and defended the Jewish community,” Mann told the CST audience.

“When my family was in trouble, when my family was thrown out of work for forming the Labour Party in Leeds, the Jewish community, the Jewish workers, the Jewish Labour Movement, they stood and backed alongside my family,” he said.

Mann, who has been an MP since 2001, is still paying it forward in what he feels is a matter of moral principle.

“You cannot imagine how much hurt, how much shame, how much anger we have in what is defiling what has been not just my life, but my family’s existence. And many families’ existence down the generations,” said Mann. “That’s what’s at stake here. We’re not going to give in. We’re not going to hand over to these anti-Semites and those that stand by and encourage them and are silent.”

Labour MP John Mann in Hungary. (Courtesy)

For 15 years as chair of the APPG against anti-Semitism, Mann has been warning of the evils of Jew-hatred, which he describes as “the worst of racisms.” The genesis of his new role, he says, sprouts from a series of discussions that Jewish community leaders had with Downing Street.

“They wanted some sort of liaison person between the community and government,” said Mann.

In Germany the role is filled by a civil servant, while US President Donald Trump has just appointed a new special envoy, Elan Carr. Downing Street, says Mann, responded to the request from the British Jewish community and asked him to take up the post.

Though nominally the new job is a “point of contact between the Jewish community and government,” Mann is likely to step it up a notch. He is keen on practical consequences and points to the generous government provision of security finance for Jewish community institutions — including Jewish schools — as a direct result of the work and recommendations made by the parliamentary committee which he chaired. The new job, which is open-ended, will, he hopes, result in even more practical actions.

Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain’s opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism in the Labour party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London on March 26, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN)

His first target will be Jewish teenagers in the 16-19 age bracket.

“I have one overriding objective, and this I will say to the government: that Jewish teenagers feel secure and safe living here, that there is no impingement on their ability to be themselves and want to do well in this country, and to remain in this country, positively,” said Mann. “That’s the objective. But I don’t believe at the moment that it is the case.”

Jewish teens, says Mann, should be able to feel that they can prosper — not necessarily financially, but socially and culturally.

“A top priority will be to find out if my feeling on that is in fact accurate. So my first big piece of work will be to go and talk to those 16- to 19-year-olds, to get their perspective on how they see their position in our society,” he said.

Such information, he believes, “will be absolutely pivotal” in framing what advice he will subsequently give to the government.

“If the teens tell me they don’t feel safe here, that is a problem,” he said.

In 2006, says Mann, the APPG identified three strands of anti-Semitism: “traditional right anti-Semitism, which was just as virulent, despite all the education that’s been around — and that remains the case today. So the far right remains a problem for the Jewish community, and young Jews — from neo-fascists to terrorism.”

“Then there was Muslim anti-Semitism,” he continued, “which the committee said had not been a problem in the past because there were very few Muslims in Britain.

“Now there is a significant presence and therefore Muslim anti-Semitism is a bigger problem — and that is a fact. We have seen Islamists committing murderous attacks on Jewish communities in France, Belgium, Austria, Copenhagen…” he said.

Such attacks have not so far taken place in Britain, observed Mann, “because in my view the UK is better prepared, through the work of the CST — and I’m proud that our committee [the APPG] has played an important role in strengthening governmental support for the Jewish community.”

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigns for Lisa Forbes in Peterborough, England, on June 1, 2019. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

The third serious problem, identified in 2006, was far left anti-Semitism, thought dormant but now once again on the rise. Mann, no friend of Corbyn, says the Labour leader is the catalyst for some of the Jewish race hate, but warns that if Corbyn disappeared tomorrow, much of the anti-Semitism would still remain.

“The problem is deeper than Corbyn. Anti-semites within the Labour Party have been emboldened, and extremists have been attracted to the Labour Party,” he said.

To his great anger and disappointment, Mann has seen and charted an overlap between the three strands of anti-Semitism, with alt-right and far left groups using the same imagery, sometimes joined by Islamists. On some occasions, he says, it’s impossible to tell which of the three strands is driving the abuse.

“I’m not Jewish, but it hasn’t stopped people throwing vile anti-Semitic stuff at me, including violent threats. And some of the worst stuff, where police have been involved, I have no idea whether it is emanating from the right, the left, or Islamists,” he said.

Labour MP John Mann addresses press, speaking out on behalf of the children’s hospital ward in his constituency of Bassetlaw. (Courtesy)

Mann says that the increased use of the internet and social media is one of the biggest things to have exacerbated anti-Semitism, and warns that both the Jewish community and government must become a lot smarter and more savvy in dealing with online abuse.

As he takes up his new role, of one thing he is sure: “I represent a community that was comprised of coal miners. Coal miners who, when this country needed it, spent their lives underground digging coal. And what the coal miners in the colleries in my area did to warn against the impending doom was to take a small bird in a cage down the pit with them. A yellow canary,” he said.

“The Jewish community is the canary in the coal mine for humanity and for the safety and future of my grandchildren,” said Mann. “That’s why we have, whether we like it or not, no choice.”

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Shaked rejects rabbi’s comments: Women can do everything, including lead a party

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Shaked rejects rabbi’s comments: Women can do everything, including lead a party

Former justice minister responds after prominent Rabbi Shlomo Aviner says politics has ‘no place for the female role’ in explaining opposition to her leading the religious right

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during her farewell ceremony, at the Ministry of Justice offices in Jerusalem on June 4, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during her farewell ceremony, at the Ministry of Justice offices in Jerusalem on June 4, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Former justice minister Ayelet Shaked on Friday rejected the assertion by a prominent religious Zionist rabbi that politics “is no place for a woman.”

“Just a reminder that a woman can do anything — travel, be a mother, lead a party, even serve as city mayor, company director or head of state,” Shaked tweeted, accompanied by a photo of herself in Canada where she is vacationing.

Amid talk of uniting the fractious political parties of the national religious camp, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a former chief rabbi of the Beit El settlement and head of the Ateret Yerushalayim yeshiva, was one of dozens of rabbis who came out against allowing Shaked, a secular woman, to lead such a union.

The rabbis’ statement, published Wednesday by the Walla news outlet, merely expressed support for the current leader of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Rafi Peretz, and declared that the party must never be led by a non-religious candidate.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner at the dedication of a new kindergarten in the settlement of Beit El, on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

But Aviner said in an interview Thursday that he opposed giving Shaked a leadership role, while focusing on her gender.

While Shaked is “really wonderful,” he told the Kan public broadcaster, “every person has their own place. It’s not right, the complex world of politics is no place for the female role.”

Without naming Aviner, the Jewish Home party, which is headed by Peretz, released a statement Thursday afternoon distancing itself from the rabbi’s comments.

“Jewish Home was the first political party to establish an influential women’s forum to advance women leaders, and some 45 percent of the party’s members are women,” the statement read.

“The party also has reserved slots for women [on its Knesset slate] in order to ensure their proper and appropriate representation in the Knesset,” it added.

Union of Right-Wing Parties chairman Rafi Peretz (R) and National Union faction chair Bezalel Smotrich at the party’s 2019 election campaign launch, March 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Religious Zionism is made up of many different stripes and worldviews, but we know how to join together into a single party when necessary. We believe women have an important place in Israeli public life,” it concluded.

The founder of the Jewish Home’s women’s caucus, Sagit Peretz Deri, this week joined Ehud Barak’s new political party.

Aviner’s comments have drawn criticism from across the political spectrum.

Former Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli said she was “flabbergasted” by Aviner’s rejection of Shaked because of her gender.

“The presence of women, including religious women, in the public sphere is [an] obvious [issue],” she said in quotes carried by the national religious news website Srugim.

Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli speaks during a vote on the so-called Regulation Bill on December 7, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Centrist Blue and White party’s MK Orna Barbivai, who is the first woman to reach the rank of major-general in the Israeli military, said Aviner’s comments “will give a motivational push for women to enter politics,” according to Channel 12 news.

“Thank you to Rabbi Aviner for reminding me why I got into politics,” Blue and White MK Miki Haimovich told the Kan broadcaster.

Shaked, who served as No. 2 on Jewish Home’s Knesset slate and was justice minister from 2015 until last month, is among the most popular politicians on the Israeli right. Several prominent Likud leaders, including Welfare Minister Haim Katz, tried to bring her into the ruling party in recent weeks, but the move was resisted by other ministers and party officials.

Aviner, who moved to Israel from France in the 1960s, is a prominent and prolific writer and commentator on current events and is known for his ultraconservative views on gender. He has often espoused radical views on other issues that he insists are rooted in religious law, including that Jewish law forbids Jews from renting apartments in Israel to Arabs — a claim denounced by many other national religious rabbis. He has supported so-called conversion therapy, a discredited practice that is meant to discourage same-sex attraction.

In April, after a fire gutted the 13th-century Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Aviner said it may have been divine retribution for the mass-burning of Talmud volumes in the French capital 800 years ago.

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COMMENTS

Israel: Netanyahu’s legal problems mount as AG won’t delay his hearing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

TV report: Netanyahu’s legal problems mount as AG won’t delay his hearing

Following his resort to new elections, PM may now run out of time to pass legislation aimed at evading prosecution in three graft cases

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem on May 30, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem on May 30, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Taking a stance that could drastically reduce Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chances of avoiding prosecution in three corruption cases, Israeli state prosecutors will reportedly reject any request by his lawyers to defer his pre-indictment hearing beyond its scheduled date at the start of October.

The reports Thursday night also said that the attorney general is aiming to wrap up the Netanyahu cases before the end of the year. If so, Netanyahu, who on Wednesday night called new elections for September 17 having failed to build a governing majority after the April 9 elections, may not now have time to pass planned legislation aimed at protecting him from prosecution.

Netanyahu is facing indictment on three counts of fraud and breach of trust, and one of bribery, pending the hearing — his final opportunity to persuade the attorney general not to file charges against him. The hearing was originally set for July, but was postponed earlier this month to October 2-3, with the possibility of a final session a week later. The prime minister’s lawyers had sought a full year’s delay — a request that was dismissed by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who ruled that a speedy resolution of the matter was in the public interest.

Now that Israel is to hold new general elections in September, with Netanyahu having failed to put together a majority coalition after the April 9 election, his lawyers are widely expected to seek another delay in the hearing process. But senior officials in the state prosecution and law enforcement hierarchies quoted at length in TV news broadcasts Thursday night firmly rejected the idea.

“We will not agree to a further delay in the hearing,” a source quoted by Channel 13 news said. “Netanyahu has enough time to prepare for it. He intends to use the matter of [new] elections to seek another postponement? Let him try. It won’t work for him. He has plenty of time to prepare as necessary.”

In similar vein, Channel 12 quoted sources declaring that the announcement of new elections would “not have slightest impact” on the Netanyahu corruption cases. “The date for the hearing has been fixed, and it won’t move a millimeter,” a source was quoted saying.

The officials also noted that it is Netanyahu’s lawyers, rather than the suspect himself, who will appear at the hearing.

Netanyahu is widely reported to have tried to build a coalition after April 9’s election in which his Likud MKs and their allies would initiate or back legislative efforts to enable him to avoid prosecution — first by easing his path to gaining immunity via the Knesset, and then by canceling the Supreme Court’s authority to overturn such immunity.

This latter change would be achieved as part of a wide-ranging reform of the Supreme Court’s role, under which Israel’s justices would be denied their current quasi-constitutional authority to “override” legislation, and Knesset and government decisions, deemed unconstitutional. Plans for this “override” legislation have been described as marking a potential constitutional revolution in Israel, that would shatter the checks and balances at the heart of Israeli democracy.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit addresses an Israel Bar Association event in Eilat, May 27, 2019 (screen grab via Channel 13)

Mandelblit earlier this week castigated planned changes to the current immunity law as being apparently designed to help Netanyahu rather than being in the genuine interest of constructive reform. As for the so-called override bill, he said that it would cause “direct harm to the country’s citizens, who will be left exposed to the possibility of arbitrary decisions by the government. The individual will not have any protection from actions which… may in an extreme case, ignore the individual’s rights and so harm him illegally.”

Earlier this week, as Netanyahu struggled to muster a majority coalition, his associates were said to have warned him that snap elections would likely deny him the time needed to pass legislation shielding him from prosecution. Nonetheless, on Wednesday night, when he concluded that he could not muster a majority, he pushed through a vote to disperse the 21st Knesset, which was only sworn in a month ago, and set Israel on the path to new elections on September 17. He chose this course rather than allow for a different Knesset member, possibly opposition leader Benny Gantz, to have a turn at trying to build a majority coalition.

Netanyahu is widely expected to now seek a delay in the hearing process, by arguing that the recourse to new elections means he will not have sufficient time to prepare for the October hearing. “He chose to support new elections,” Channel 12 quoted a legal official saying in response. “That’s up to him.”

Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Netanyahu for fraud and breach of trust in the three cases against him, and for bribery in one of them, in February. The prime minister’s attorneys requested, and were granted, that the case files not be handed over prior to the April 9 national election in order to prevent information from leaking to the media and affecting the vote.

But after the election, the lawyers refrained for another month from collecting the material, citing a dispute over their fees. They have been accused of engaging in delay tactics.

Shaul Elovitch arrives at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for extension of his remand in Case 4000, February 22, 2018. (Flash90)

Netanyahu denies all the allegations against him, and has claimed they stem from a witch hunt designed to oust him, which he claims is supported by the left-wing opposition, the media, the police and the state prosecution, headed by a “weak” attorney general.

Case 1000 involves accusations that Netanyahu received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in exchange for favors; Case 2000 involves accusations that Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth; and Case 4000, widely seen as the most serious against the premier, involves accusations that Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for positive coverage from its Walla news site.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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