Russian warship docks in Israel for first time
Monday, May 13, 2013 | Yossi Aloni
For the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel, a Russian warship docked at the port city of Haifa earlier this month. The “Azov” of Russian’s Black Sea Fleet came to Israel at the request of the Association of Russian War Veterans to help celebrate the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.
Jewish veterans of the Red Army who later immigrated to Israel were invited to participate in a ceremony aboard the massive ship.
However, there was another even more important, even historical, reason for the visit - with the looming collapse of the Assad regime in Syria, Russia is on the lookout for new Middle East alliances.
Russia has long maintained a large naval base in Tartus, the second largest port city in Syria. But with Syria’s ongoing civil war likely to end in that country descending into factional warfare and chaos, Russia is concerned for its interests in the region.
Recent reports are that Moscow is searching for a new Mediterranean seaport to maintain strategic balance in the region. Russian delegations have reportedly examined Egypt and Algeria.
But Israeli officials say that the Arab Spring has changed Russia’s view of Israel, and Moscow now understands that in this volatile and unpredictable region, the Jewish state is an anchor of stability.
"There are things on which we do not agree with Russia, but there is a general understanding that we defend the same principles of democracy and security," said one official in Jerusalem. "They share our concern over Islamic fundamentalism taking over the Middle East. The Russians realize now more than ever that you can rely on Israel."
The Russians very loudly publicized the Azov’s visit to Israel, and their decision to mark the victory over the Nazis together with Jewish veterans. “Russia is proud of its connection to this historical event, and wants to remind everyone that we fought on the right side,” read a statement from the Russians. “There is something to be understood from this for the contemporary Middle East. Where we decided to make anchor is a clear statement, both to the Israelis and the entire region.”
There was a general understanding that the Azov’s visit was not a one-time event, and that other Russian warships would come calling in the near future. Israelis officials did not deny that they are open to further cooperation with Moscow.
IDF clears land mines from Arab fields near Bethlehem
Monday, May 13, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
Once again demonstrating that it harbors no ill will toward the Palestinian Arabs, the Israeli army recently got to work clearing land mines from Arab-owned fields in the vicinity of Bethlehem.
Well, of course the Israeli army should do so, it probably planted those mines in the first place! Except that, no, the IDF didn’t do so. The mines were planted by the Jordanian army prior to the Six Day War in 1967.
The Jordanian-planted mines were meant to keep Israel from every again exercising sovereignty over Bethlehem, birthplace of King David and Jesus. And they were apparently planted with little or no thought for the danger posed to local Arab residents.
Thanks to the IDF Engineering Corps, the 13 dunams (3.2 acres) of land will soon be usable by the residents of the Bethlehem suburb of Husan.
Over the years, Husan has grown considerably, and a number of private homes now sit adjacent to the fields where the land mines were found. Four children have been killed and at least five more people wounded after inadvertently entering the fields in previous decades.
Israeli officials said the project is being enthusiastically supported by local Palestinian residents.
"The Palestinian side supports and encourages this project," said Lt. Col. Eyal Zeevi, who heads the Bethlehem Coordination and Liaison Administration. "This project has two goals: First, to eliminate ongoing danger to human life and ensure that all mines have been cleared. Second, to return the land to its rightful owners, for the use of the village as a community."
The Church of Scotland’s Freudian Slip
Sunday, May 12, 2013 | Tsvi Sadan
The Church of Scotland recently published a report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Christian perspective entitled “The Inheritance of Abraham - A Report on the Promised Land.” You won’t be able to find this report online, as it was quickly removed from the church’s website following sharp protest from Scotland’s Jewish community and Israeli officials.
There was nothing new in the report, per se. The Church of Scotland’s anti-Israel stance has been rather consistent. But the document did, in its brief appearance, reveal the true reason behind the church’s vehement opposition to the Jewish state.
The Church of Scotland’s anti-Israel position has nothing to do with human rights, but rather a theological argument. As I have said repeatedly, all the human rights accusations against Israel are nothing more than a clever mask for modern anti-Semitism, and the Church of Scotland’s theological argument is proof of this.
In its conclusion, the church document made the startling claim that only the dissolution of Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land would bring “peace and security and human rights,” and eliminate “racial intolerance, especially in the forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.” The Bible was used to support this vile and twisted moral position.
After providing scriptural “evidence” from Palestinian theologians, the document went on to state that “the lack of detailed archaeological evidence supports the view that the range of scriptural material makes it inappropriate to try to use the Hebrew scriptures to determine an area of land meant exclusively for the Jewish people.”
Another conclusion read: “Exclusivist tradition implied Jews had a special, privileged position in relation to God. But the prophetic tradition stood against this. The narrative of the Babylonian captivity demonstrated that God was not confined to ‘their’ land, nor was He concerned only for ‘them.’”
[Editor’s Note: It is important to note that the Jews as a whole have never made such claims. Such libels are the domain of historical Christian anti-Semitism.]
Another bizarre portion of the church document used the book of Jonah to somehow prove that Israel’s existence necessarily breeds evil. “The Book of Jonah is a key text for understanding the Hebrew Bible’s promise of the land to Abraham and his descendants,” according to the Church of Scotland. “Written at a time when Jewish people were turning inwards, the book presents Jonah as a Jewish nationalist to drive home the point: God’s universal, inclusive love is for all. God in Jonah is merciful, gracious, a liberator of the oppressed and sinful who looks for just living. …Jonah suggests a new theology of the land, because God was not confined within the Land of Israel, but also embraced the land of Assyria.”
The conclusion must be that, unlike Jonah, Israeli Jews today are unmerciful, ungracious, unjust and unloving.
The cherry on the cake, so to speak, was the Church of Scotland’s referencing of Jesus, who, according to this august body, “offered a radical critique of Jewish specialness and exclusivism … Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple means not just that the Temple needs to be reformed, but that the Temple is finished.” Of course, by extension, this also means that the right to Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel is finished.
Jews must not stand alone against misuse of Scripture, but must be joined by all who care for truth.
Did the EU just back Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount?
Sunday, May 12, 2013 | Ryan Jones
Israel might have just scored European Union support for finally allowing Jews the right to pray atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the holiest site in the world for Jews and many Christians.
Whether or not it was her intent, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Friday issued a call for religious freedom in Jerusalem that by definition must also include Jewish access to the Temple Mount.
"The High Representative is disturbed by recent events in East Jerusalem such as those that took place at Orthodox Easter, the unrest in the area of the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount and the temporary detention of the Mufti of Jerusalem. …It is essential that access to the holy sites in Jerusalem for peaceful worship for all denominations is fully respected," said Ashton’s spokesperson.
For years Israeli police have denied Jews and Christians the right to pray, even silently, atop the Temple Mount for fear of sparking a Muslim riot. Islamic officials follow every Jewish and Christian group visiting the holy site to ensure this restriction is obeyed.
The European Union has never before supported Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, and Ashton herself views the presence of Jews on the eastern side of the holy city as an obstacle to peace. As such, it is highly unlikely that she intended to throw her weight behind true freedom of religious expression for Israeli Jews in Jerusalem.
Report: Israel opens new diplomatic mission in Arab state
Sunday, May 12, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
A government document leaked by the Hebrew press on Sunday revealed that Israel had recently opened a new diplomatic mission in an unnamed Persian Gulf state.
The document was prepared for the Foreign Ministry as part of its economic plan for 2013-2014, and was reported on by the left-leaning daily Ha’aretz.
Israel has in the past operated diplomatic missions in Oman and Qatar, though both nations closed those offices for fear of appearing unsympathetic to the “Palestinian cause.”
In general, however, the Sunni-dominated Gulf States have moved closer to Israel in recent years in the shadow of the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Numerous media outlets have previously reported that the Gulf States would be all too happy were Israel to militarily neutralize Iran’s nuclear program.
Earlier this month, it was Qatar’s prime minister who sought to breath new life into the 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative on terms more friendly toward the Jewish state.
Egypt’s New Anti-Muslim Brotherhood Militia
Friday, May 10, 2013 | Ashraf Ramelah
Egypt’s Black Bloc grew out of a struggle for liberation from an authoritarian system, only after non-violent civil efforts had failed. Not to be confused with America’s Black Bloc, which is friend to likes of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s Black Bloc is an enemy to their country’s new Islamist rulers and fights for democracy and legitimate government.
Clad in black garb and ski masks, the faceless and nameless Black Bloc soldiers lock arms to create a human shield in defense of pro-freedom protesters — the Black Bloc’s number-one priority — in the streets and squares of Egypt. Experts in martial arts and ostensibly military-trained, Black Bloc warriors only recently surfaced in Egypt to safeguard fellow freedom-fighters from their arch-enemies, the foes of democracy: President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas gangs.
Originating out of a plan to protect women protesters from sexual assault, this huge band of men and women numbering in the thousands (the exact number is not known) form a dedicated and determined corps of combatants divided into local groups of 30-50 individuals.
The secret members of the “elite” Black Bloc guard first appeared in the streets of Cairo this January, when revolutionaries commemorated their two-year anniversary with protests in Tahrir Square. Now everywhere the Egyptian opposition stages protests, the rank-and-file Black Bloc, whose leaders remain unknown to them, dutifully move in to police the area on behalf of fellow protesters.
Deemed “terrorists” and “outlaws” by the Morsi regime, the shadowy Zorro-like heroes refer to their network as the “United Ghosts Revolution” and represent a just cause in the ongoing rebellion against Egypt’s Islamist government. The Black Bloc mission is to ensure that no more assaults, kidnappings, and torture occur from Morsi’s security forces [the Muslim Brotherhood militia] and so-called law enforcement. Many Black Bloc members carry firearms, most likely acquired through the illegal networks smuggling weapons from Libya and Gaza.
If the best defense is a good offense, the forceful Black Bloc has aggressively expanded its scope beyond the scene of gathered protesters and their protection. With a physical presence in more than eight cities across Egypt, the anonymous soldiers have claimed responsibility for ransacking at least eight separate Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party offices.
At first, the shrouded Black Bloc raised fears; the public saw them as terrorists. This wrong impression, however, was soon dispelled as their image as guardians took shape. Appearing first in the social media, the Black Bloc now has the moral support of more than 57,000 Facebook members for the purpose of countering Islamic supremacy and brutality.
Their core concern is to facilitate the pursuit of Western-style democracy. Its members claim no affiliation with existing political parties, as the group states that it “aims only to stand against the Muslim Brotherhood and any group exploiting religion to achieve political goals.” Their challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood has prompted a new crackdown by President Morsi and his Prime Minister, Hasham Kandil. The state now targets opposition protesters who wear black, tracking those who do and conducting investigations. By mid-February, Morsi began arresting members of Black Bloc and its sympathizers.
Running under the banner of “Allah, Country, Revolution,” the “outlaws” have been accused by Islamists of having Israeli backing and connections to Western funding.
In keeping with their mission statement, Egypt’s Black Bloc members claim they have nothing against state institutions per se, “but against control by a particular system, the supremacy of a certain group.” They further contend that “the best thing is to hit the existing system and its economy by sabotaging the system’s institutions and not ones belonging to the public.”
Ashraf Ramelah is on the Advisory Board of SION (Stop Islamization of Nations) and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization. In 2010, VOTC sued the Mubarak regime, which refused to change the religious ID card of a Muslim convert to Christianity.
Hamas says no peace with Israel under any terms
Monday, May 06, 2013 | Ryan Jones
While the American administration gets all excited over the Arab League making passing mention of its previous regional peace proposal, Western power-brokers are completely ignoring the fact that Palestinian powerhouse Hamas rejects the idea of peace with Israel under any circumstances.
After Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani commented last week that the Arab League would be willing to accept minor territorial compromise as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, US Secretary of State John Kerry got to work pressing Israel to accept the proposal.
As Israel feared, all it took was a gentle nudge and the slightest hint of successfully overseeing a peace deal to get Washington drooling, even if the hopes couldn’t possibly match reality.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to warn his American friends that while his government remains ready to make territorial compromise, the root of the conflict isn’t about borders, but about Israel’s very existence.
Hamas was so kind as to make Netanyahu’s point for him.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal stated that his group’s goal remains the “liberation of the Palestinian territories,” which Hamas views as encompassing the entirety of the State of Israel.
Mashaal said the Arab League proposal would harm the true Palestinian end goal by helping to integrate Israel into the region.
Unfortunately, Western leaders didn’t seem to be listening. Many in Israel continue to argue that it doesn’t matter if a reasonable agreement can be reached with the Arab League and Palestinian Authority if groups like Hamas continue to run the show on the ground. Until all of the Palestinian Arabs actually want peace with Israel, it simply isn’t going to happen.
Palestinian family defends murder of Jewish man
Monday, May 06, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
The family of 24-year-old Salam al-Zaghal is openly admitting to and defending his brutal murder of an Israeli Jew in Samaria last week.
"What he has done is the duty of all Palestinians who suffer from the aggression of the army and the settlers," stated al-Zaghal’s father, Ali al-Zaghal.
It should come as little wonder that average Palestinians think this way about their Jewish neighbors when their own leaders in the Palestinian Authority are setting such a terrible example.
Just a day after the murderous stabbing, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the killer on its official Facebook page. Such glorification of those who murder Israeli Jews is commonplace in the Palestinian Authority, and is one of the chief reasons that peace remains so elusive.
The victim in the attack was Eviatar Borovzky, a 31-year-old husband and father of five who was beloved throughout the Jewish communities of central Samaria.
Borovsky’s mother, Chaya, recalled for Arutz 7 the heart-rending conversations she had with her grandchildren following their father’s death.
"Five small children, five small orphans left behind. The youngest is one year old and the oldest is seven," she said. "I spoke to the third son, who is four-and-a-half, and he told me that a wicked Arab man murdered Daddy and Daddy died."
PHOTO: One of the victim’s sons hugs his father’s lifeless body as he is laid to rest in northern Israel.
Israel upset by Google’s recognition of Palestine
Monday, May 06, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
Israel on Sunday expressed its displeasure at Google’s decision last week to officially recognize “Palestine” as an independent state.
Up until last week, anyone visiting the localized version of google.ps would see the label “Palestinian Territories.” Now, that same page simply labels the localized version of Google as belonging to “Palestine.”
Google officials said the move was in line with the United Nation’s recent upgrading of “Palestine” to non-member state status, a de facto recognition of Palestine’s independence, as well as UNESCO’s open acceptance of a sovereign Palestinian state.
But Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin stated in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page that the Internet giant’s new policy will actually complicate reaching a peace agreement that results in the creation of a real Palestinian state.
"This is intervention by an international company in local politics, [and] does not serve the interests of either party in the long-term," wrote Elkin.
While many in Israel’s government agree that the peace process will lead to the creation of a Palestinian state, they argue that permitting the Palestinian Authority to achieve this goal in a unilateral way will only perpetuate the conflict.
The Israeli minister called on Google to rethink its “erroneous decision.”
“Disaster looms out of the north, even terrible destruction.” Jer 6:1
UN: 5,000 FLEEING SYRIA DAILY: The UNHRC has reported a disconcerting increase in the number of people fleeing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s atrocities. The committee estimates the number of displaced Syrians is rapidly approaching 800,000. Agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said “5,000 people are now crossing the borders of Syria into other countries every single day, so this is really a full-on crisis right at the moment.” There are now 787,000 Syrians who are registered or being helped as refugees, mainly in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. UNHRC sources warn there could be as many as one million Syrian refugees by June. Over 65,000 have been killed since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime erupted in March 2011. (Ynet) Pray for a merciful end to this ongoing deluge of violence in Syria. The peril it poses to the Syrian people as well as to Israel and the entire region cannot be underestimated. “Damascus has become feeble, she has turned to flee and panic has gripped her; anguish and pain have seized her, pain like that of a woman in labor.” Jer 49:24
THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST MORSI IN EGYPT: Thousands took to the streets across Egypt on Friday demanding that President Mohammed Morsi fulfill the goals of the revolt that brought him to power. Demonstrators marched from several locations in the capital to Tahrir Square and the presidential palace. “The people want the downfall of the regime,” the protesters chanted while others slammed interior ministry officials as “thugs.” Several hundred protesters also gathered outside the presidential palace chanting “Freedom, where are you? Brotherhood rule stands between us,” in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood movement from which Morsi hails. The protests come after several incidents of police violence last week that caused public outrage and sparked angry demonstrations. Last week the death of a pro-democracy activist, following days in police custody, caused fury and reignited calls for police reform. His death came just days after footage was aired live on television of a man stripped naked and beaten by riot police during demonstrations near the presidential palace. A former Egyptian presidential candidate said Sunday the brutal dragging and beating of the naked man was previously planned by the interior ministry in an effort to terrorize the public. Ahmed Shafiq said the widely circulated video of Hamada Saber was intended to send a message of fear to those protesting in the streets against the brutal reign of the Muslim Brotherhood. (Arutz-7)
HAMAS BLAMES ABBAS AFTER UNITY TALKS FALTER: Representatives of various Palestinian factions who met in Cairo over the weekend in a renewed bid to end the dispute between Hamas and Fatah concluded their discussions without reaching agreement on the formation of a Palestinian unity government and holding new elections. Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, held Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for the failure of “reconciliation” talks. Hanna Amireh, member of the PLO Executive Committee, said differences erupted between Hamas and Fatah as soon as they started talking about the details regarding the formation of a unity government and holding new presidential and legislative elections. According to Amireh, the Fatah and Hamas representatives were unable to agree on the dates for forming a new government and holding elections. A representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who attended the Cairo discussions, said the gap between Hamas and Fatah remains as wide as ever. (J.Post) The Hamas terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip is an offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood group, known as the “father of all terrorist organizations,” which now controls Egypt’s government. Pray there will be no unity between Fatah and Hamas in the coming days. Hamas is the terrorist foe behind years of rocket attacks against Israel’s southern communities from the Gaza Strip. Fatah is the wolf in sheep’s clothing still pretending sincerity regarding a peace agreement with Israel.
GET IT STRAIGHT: HAMAS DOES NOT ACCEPT ISRAEL: Every once in a while, world leaders and diplomats try to spin a certain piece of news to make it appear that even Hamas is willing to compromise and accept Israel’s existence for the sake of peace. The goal is obvious - to paint Israel and its policies as the sole obstacle to peace. But every time, Hamas wastes no time clarifying what everyone already knows: that it, the group which won the last Palestinian general election, does not and never will accept Israel’s right to exist in this region. The most recent example of this phenomenon took place late last month when Jordan’s King Abdullah informed US President Barack Obama that Hamas was ready to accept a two-state solution that guaranteed Israel’s future existence. Abdullah met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Damascus, where the latter was said to have expressed a sincere change of attitude toward the peace process. It took no time at all, and zero fact checking, for Western media, Israeli liberals, and international diplomats to adopt the story and begin shouting for Israel to return to peace talks with concessions in hand. Two days later, Hamas put the lies to rest. The reports of Mashal making peace overtures in his meeting with King Abdullah were completely baseless, Hamas officials said in a statement released to Palestinian media. “Hamas will not change its position” regarding Israel’s existence, senior Hamas official Yahya Moussa told Bethlehem’s Ma’an news agency. “We will never agree to giving the Zionist state one inch of the land of Palestine.” (Israel Today/Ryan Jones)
REPORT: HAGEL RECEIVING DONATIONS FROM ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS’: Republican opponents of former Senator Chuck Hagel welcomed the decision by the Senate Armed Services Committee last Thursday to postpone the panel vote on President Barack Obama’s highly controversial defense secretary nomination after he refused to release additional requested financial information, including details regarding compensation for speeches he delivered since leaving Capitol Hill. While Hagel has provided some information on his personal finances, he said he could not provide all of what has been requested because it was the property of private organizations that he was not authorized to disclose. Astonishingly, however, senate sources disclosed Thursday that they have been informed that one of the reasons Hagel has refused to release the documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is called “Friends of Hamas.” Last Wednesday 26 Republican senators sent a letter to the controversial nominee, asserting their opposition to the vote until he provided the requested information. “This committee and the American people have a right to know if a nominee for Secretary of Defense has received compensation from foreign sources,” the letter said. “Until the committee receives complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine whether you should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.” (Arutz-7) Pray full disclosure of the requested information will be forth coming from former Senator Chuck Hagel, most particularly that pertaining to possible financial ties to the terrorist group, Hamas. Past political statements made by the former senator are dangerously anti-Israel, in spite of his recent claims to be a friend of the Jewish state. Pray the right person will be placed in the vitally important slot of US Defense Secretary.
AHEAD OF OBAMA VISIT, LIEBERMAN SAYS PEACE DEAL IMPOSSIBLE: Soon after Obama’s visit to Israel in the spring was announced, White House spokesman Jay Carney played down expectations of Obama arriving with any new dramatic peace proposals, saying this was not the focus of the visit. Former FM Avigdor Lieberman also curtailed optimism on the issue, by stating Saturday that an agreement with the Palestinians was currently not possible. Lieberman in a television interview reviewed the recent assassination of the opposition leader in Tunisia, the terrorist murder last week of dozens of people in Iraq, and the killing of fresh multitudes in Syria on Friday. He said it was not realistic to think it possible in this environment to reach a comprehensive peace accord with the Palestinians. “Anyone who thinks that in the center of the diplomatic, political, and social tsunami that is shaking the Arab world it is possible to get a magical solution of comprehensive peace with the Palestinians does not understand,” he stated. “I am saying clearly it is impossible to reach a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians. It is impossible to solve the conflict, it needs to be managed.” (J.Post)
OFFICIALS: OBAMA COMING TO ISRAEL TO PREVENT STRIKE ON IRAN: The main purpose of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel in the spring is to warn PM Binyamin Netanyahu against attacking Iran, unnamed officials told Army Radio on Sunday. According to the sources, the urgency of the trip is because in his speech to the UN in September, Netanyahu had flagged the spring of 2013 as a significant time in the context of the Iranian nuclear threat. Therefore, they said, Obama is concerned the prime minister will decide to attack Iran now when he is backed by a new government and can establish a new security cabinet, without Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, two Likud MKs and opponents of such a strike who lost their Knesset seats in the recent elections. The officials told Army Radio the US president subsequently decided to transmit a direct message to Netanyahu: “Don’t attack Iran, let me handle matters with the Iranians according to my understanding, and if necessary I will take action, we have capabilities that you do not.” Netanyahu said Sunday that he and Obama agreed upcoming talks would focus on three central issues: Iran’s race toward nuclear weapons; the instability in Syria and how that impacts regional security, and efforts to move forward the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. (INN) Pray Israel’s leaders will have unshakable wisdom on issues of importance to the Jewish state and will not give way to pressures from the US whose citizens are in far less danger of nearby Islamist foes.
ISRAELI SURFERS RESCUE 8 DROWNING CHILDREN IN HAWAII: Three Israeli surfers went to the aid of eight children struggling in the waters off Hawaii on Saturday after huge waves began surging toward the coast. The three - Tzvika Elias, Yair Naftali and Gabi Liptz saw a group of children aged between 12 and 14 who had gotten into difficulties in the water. “As we neared the children we saw they had been swept out to sea and were being pounded by huge waves,” Elias said. “Yair and I tried with all our might to reach the group to try to get them away from the strong waves. Every time we managed to grab hold of one child, he was immediately swept away again. At a certain point, Gabi, who had already left the water, joined our attempts and managed to catch hold of some of the kids and get them safely to shore.” Yair Naftali told interviewers it took 40 exhausting minutes to rescue all of the children. The three were hailed as heroes by the children’s parents. (J.Post) A huge bravo to these brave Israelis!
Despite the relative calm in Israel since the end of Operation “Pillar of Defense” ended in November, officials in Israel believe that attempts by Hamas in Gaza to restock its arsenal–heavily depleted during the operation–have been highly effective.
Hamas politician’s wife: We must teach our kids to die
Tuesday, January 08, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
The wife of a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament recently demonstrated the stark difference between the dominant values in Israeli Jewish society that those that have sadly taken hold in much of Palestinian society.
In a December 2 interview with Al-Aqsa TV, Umm Osama, wife of Hamas lawmaker Khalil Al-Hayya, stated that a woman’s role is no less important than a man’s in “Palestine” because it is the mother who “instills in her children the love of Jihad and martyrdom for the sake of Allah.”
Umm Osama continued by noting that “Allah’s reward is Paradise…[and] Paradise requires from us our blood.”
When the interviewer agreed that “we want to die as martyrs,” Umm Osama responded:
"Indeed we do. I am constantly praying: ‘Allah, make the end of our days be in martyrdom.’ I pray for this even for my husband and my children."
It has been repeatedly pointed out that while such attitudes make genuine, long-lasting peace nearly impossible by ensuring the next generation of Palestinian Arabs hate Israel, it is also a form of child abuse for which those like Umm Osama appear wholly unrepentant.
It would be terribly wrong to say that all Palestinians think this way, but it must also be remembered that a large majority of Palestinian voters put Hamas in power in the last general election in 2006.
[Translation of the interview by The Middle East Media Research Institute - MEMRI]
Israel-US relations to remain strained after Hagel nomination
Tuesday, January 08, 2013 | Ryan Jones
Signs that US President Barack Obama’s next term will further strain US-Israel relations were evident on Monday in the aftermath of Obama’s official nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel as the new US Secretary of Defense.
Hagel has a long history of hostile positions toward Israel, and many analysts saw his nomination as Obama’s revenge for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supporting his rival, Mitt Romney, in the recent US presidential election.
During the last Bush Administration, Hagel refused to sign on to Senate resolutions that backed Israel is in its respective fights against Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism, and he criticized President Bush for failing to meet with Yasser Arafat.
Hagel later had unkind words for the pro-Israel lobby in America, and stated that US-Israel relations “must not come at the expense of our Arab relationships.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned that Hagel would be “the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of Israel in our nation’s history.”
Officials in Jerusalem were also uneasy over the appointment.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin echoed the feelings of most Israelis when he told local media that Israel should be concerned, but not scared by Hagel’s nomination.
Rivlin argued that while Hagel might take hostile positions toward Israel, it must be remembered that the Jewish state enjoys strong support from many other quarters in the US government, and one man cannot completely overturn that.
For his part, Hagel came out swinging on Monday, insisting that he has been nothing but a friend to Israel.
In an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star, the former Nebraska senator was adamant that there is “not one shred of evidence that I’m anti-Israel.”
Asked why he had not signed on to previous pro-Israel resolutions in the Senate, Hagel said he didn’t see the need to put his name to documents that provided moral, but not practical support. “They were counter-productive and didn’t solve a problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iran is perfectly pleased with Hagel’s nomination, viewing it as an effort by the Obama Administration to lessen tension between the US and the Islamic Republic.
Tehran likes Hagel’s hard-nosed position toward Israel, as well as his opposition to taking harsh action against Iran over its defiant nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said he hoped Hagel taking over the Department of Defense would result in “practical changes” in America’s foreign policy.
Q: Why do you think the mainstream media and international community ignores the crimes and viciousness of Hamas?
A: Honestly, I have no idea…. Maybe some people think that being silent in front of Hamas crimes may help the Palestinians to gain independence. There is nothing more wrong than this. Independence will begin only with the collapse of Hamas.
Q: When you say you wish for a “democratic government,” do you therefore oppose an Islamic state/Shariah law for Palestinians? Or do you think that democracy and Shariah are compatible and that HAMAS has just implemented it in a bad way?
A: I’m not a naive person. Sharia and democracy are two opposite concepts. Sharia law should not be the law of the state, simply because it is not democratic and it does not guarantee equality to citizens. There are many reasons why no one should be forced to follow Islamic law. One of these is that, as I said before, there are various interpretations of the ancient texts. Therefore, there can be no Islamic law that fits with all the different traditions. A democratic law would ensure respect for the opinions and peaceful coexistence.
Q: Do you support a Palestinian state that also accepts Israel’s right to exist and that does not engage in terror against it for the goal of exterminating it?
A: At this point we all should have realized that there can be only one solution: peace. I cannot deny the merit of Israel that guarantees the rights of the Arabs inside the country. This shows that coexistence is possible.
The interviewee in the exchange I’ve extracted above is Hisham A., a courageous young Gaza-born Palestinian man, talking to Jamie Glazov of Frontpage magazine about why he founded Muslims Against Hamas (see their Facebook page here and the entire interview here)
And, on the subject of the mainstream media’s blind eye, see BBCWatch’s current post, describing the Corporations’s duplicitous, ignorant reportage of Fatah’s celebrations in Gaza: what Hadar Sela demonstrates here really is an eye-opener (to the reader if not to the disgraceful BBC).