Israel fires missile into Syria
Sunday, August 18, 2013 | Ryan Jones
Israeli forces stationed on the Golan Heights fired a missile at a Syrian military post across the border on Saturday, destroying an artillery piece that had fired several shells into Israel.
A number of shells landed in Israeli territory early Saturday morning. Israeli officials believed the incident to be spillover from ongoing battles in Syria, and not a deliberate targeting of Israel.
Nevertheless, Israel has repeatedly warned that it will respond with force to every act of aggression that endangers Israel’s citizens and sovereignty.
There was no immediate response from Syria.
Israelis remain concerned that it is only a matter of time before the situation along the border escalates.
It should also be noted that both sides in the Syrian civil war are enemies of the Jewish state, and would presumably have no problem bloodying Israel’s nose as part of their conflict with one another.
The regime of embattled dictator Bashar Assad is still officially at war with Israel, and has for decades sheltered and aided anti-Israel terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.
The Syrian rebels are composed largely of Islamist groups, many affiliated or allied with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, both of which ultimately seek the destruction of the “Zionist regime.”
As the fighting inches ever closer to the border, the situation is understandably very tense, and a cause for great concern in Israel.
United Nations admits bias against Israel
Sunday, August 18, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday finally admitted what most people already knew, that the world body operates with an unfair bias against Israel.
During a meeting with university students at UN Headquarters in Jerusalem, Ban was told that Israelis feel the UN and the international community at large discriminates against the Jewish state.
Ban acknowledged the “unfortunate situation” of automatic and unfair negative attitudes toward Israel and Israeli officials.
The UN chief tried to clarify that as a full-fledged member of the world body, Israel would always be treated equally along with the other 192 member states. But the grossly disproportionate number of resolutions passed against tiny Israel provided evidence to the contrary.
Israel declares war on polio
Sunday, August 18, 2013 | Ryan Jones
Decades ago, Israel joined a global effort to eradicate the polio virus, and for years it appeared that campaign had been successful. Now, polio has returned, and Israel is preparing to inoculate more than one million children to ensure the debilitating condition finds no more victims in the Holy Land.
On Sunday, 1,000 children’s clinics across Israel began administering an oral vaccination to children born after January 1, 2004.
Israelis still receive a polio vaccination as babies, but until now a dead sample of the virus was used. The new vaccinations use a significantly weakened live polio virus. The vaccination received as infants will protect the children from the live strain in the new vaccination, and, because it is still alive, that weakened strain will also spread to those around.
From the one million children inoculated, the vaccine is expected to spread to the entire population. Health Ministry officials stressed that while there was nothing to fear from the vaccine, the renewed polio threat is very real.
It is believed that the resurgent virus first made a comeback in Egypt last December. From there is crossed the border to the Bedouin community living in southern Israel. Now, it has been found in patients across southern Israel and into the populous coastal plain.
"The danger from this disease is real and imminent, and is not expected to disappear if the children go unvaccinated," warned a Health Ministry statement.
Belgium forbids Israelis to name child ‘Jerusalem’
Sunday, August 18, 2013 | Yossi Aloni
City Hall in Brussels, Belgium has refused to register the local birth of an Israeli baby because her parents named the child “Jerusalem.” The name does not appear on an approved list of monikers for children born in the European country.
Alma Jerusalem was born to Alinadav and Hagar Hyman, Israelis who have lived and worked in Brussels for the past three years. Hagar is a security agent with Israel’s El Al Airlines, and Alinadav works for the Israel lobby in the European Parliament.
"We are both Jerusalemites, we grew up in Jerusalem, we met in Jerusalem and we very much miss the city, so we decided to call our first child ‘Jerusalem,’" said the new father. "We actually argued over whether Jerusalem would be the first or middle name, and in the end decided it would be our daughter’s middle name."
When Alinadav went into the municipal offices in Brussels to get a birth certificate, he was shocked. “The clerk asked for the baby’s name, so I said ‘Alma Jerusalem,’” recalled the father. “After checking the computer, the clerk said Alma was OK, but that Jerusalem did not appear on the list of approved names, so could not be used for the baby’s name.”
Alinadav was certain the clerk must be joking. “There was a Finnish man in line next to me that named his child something in Finnish with 25 letters, and this name the Belgian clerk accepted, but not Jerusalem.”
Oddly enough, the clerk suggested that the Israeli family name their child “Bethlehem,” as that did appear on the list of approved names.
Finally, the clerk agreed to a compromise - the family could obtain an official letter from the Israeli embassy confirming that “Jerusalem” is a valid name for a child, and then the Belgian’s would provide a birth certificate. The only problem - the Israeli embassy is not providing consular services due to a Foreign Ministry strike at home.
"Now we’re trapped. We cannot take the baby to Israel because she has no passport, and without Israeli consular approval, the Belgians won’t register the birth," explained the father. "I cannot say if the refusal to call the baby Jerusalem is political, but the speed with which the clerk refused us compared to how quickly the [unpronounceable] Finnish name was approved raised suspicions."
Alinadav concluded: “If the decision is political, it probably didn’t come from upstairs, but rather from the clerk, who I am certain could have exercised discretion. I am very frustrated that in 2013 we have to pick names from approved lists, and we are both saddened that we cannot officially name our child Jerusalem, a city that is in our hearts and means so much to us.”
A Study in Contrasts - Palestinian Christians
Friday, August 16, 2013 | Aviel Schneider
When extremist Jews commit acts of aggression toward Palestinian Christians, Israel is quick to condemn those actions and hunt down the perpetrators. But that doesn’t stop said Christians and the international community from coming down hard on Israel.
By contrast, those same Palestinian Christians routinely shrug off even worse provocation from their Muslim neighbors.
Palestinian Arab Christians who were brave enough to speak out told Israel Today that the truth is that local Christians are too scared of the Muslims to behave any differently, and that in reality, Israel is the only safe place for Christians in the region.
The full story appears in the August 2013 issue of Israel Today
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(JTA) — New government regulations are threatening the pedagogical autonomy of Antwerp’s haredi Orthodox schools and sowing division between hardliners and moderates over whether to bring the community’s school system into conformity with secular educational standards.
Earlier this summer, the Flemish government issued decrees that would force both state-funded and private Jewish schools to teach mandatory curriculums that include evolutionary biology, human reproduction and other subjects considered taboo by Antwerp’s 18,000 haredi Jews.
Beginning this year, schools that refuse to comply stand to lose hundreds of thousands of euros in annual subsidies. Even private Jewish schools that don’t receive such public funding will be forced, beginning in September, to test their children on mandatory subjects. Two failures would lead to enrollment in a state-recognized school.
“For us, the new regulations could mean exile,” said Menachem, a father of eight from Antwerp and a member of the Satmar hasidic sect. “I will send my children to England. It’s tough, but it’s better than having their minds polluted.”
The prime minister of the Flanders region of Belgium has retracted his comparison of the security fence with the “ghettos during World War II.”
Kris Peeters, during his first-ever visit to Israel this week, stated, “I’m shocked by the separation wall that Israel is erecting. It reminded me of the ghettos during World War II. Strange, because the Jews were victims then.” Peeters met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during his visit.
Showing some understanding for the fence, he added: “On the other hand, we cannot imagine how it feels when a bomb could go off at any second.”
The retraction was reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which quoted Peeters’ spokesman as saying, “Every wall has two sides, and the prime minister saw both. The reference to ghettos was not meant as a comparison with the Nazi ghettos. The prime minister retracts his statement.”
The Belgian Jewish community was extremely upset with Peeters, who is the leader of the Flemish independent region of Belgium, and the Flemish-Jewish weekly responded, “The walls of the Warsaw Ghetto had only one side: The wrong side.”
“Any comparison between the Holocaust and the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is totally immoral,” wrote the newspaper’s editor Michael Freilich.
During his visit, Peeters visited Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and discussed the construction of a new Holocaust Museum in Mechelen, according to European Jewish Press. The city is located between Brussels and Antwerp, from where Jews in Belgium were deported to Auschwitz during WWII.