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July 30, 2016 / 24 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Brussels’

Israeli President in Brussels: Israeli-EU Relations Independent of Peace Deal

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – President Reuven Rivlin said that current European Union (EU) efforts to bring about a final arrangement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should not overshadow the importance of bilateral ties between Israel and the EU, following a meeting in Brussels with President of the European Council Donald Tusk.

“The advancement of peace in the Middle East is a vital interest for Israel,” emphasized Rivlin. “At the same time, I believe that the bilateral relations between us can grow and develop independently.”

The Israeli president, who met with Tusk as part of a several day tour throughout Europe in which he is scheduled to meet with dignitaries of Belgium, the EU and NATO, viewed the Israeli-EU relationship as having great prospects of success.

“This is my first visit to the institutions of the EU as president of the State of Israel, and I see it as a sign of the great importance of relations between Israel and the European Union,”  said Rivlin.

“The EU is an integral partner with Israel in the fields of trade, science, environment and culture,” he continued.

Rivlin also claimed that Israel’s ties with Europe were founded on common values.

‘We share the fundamental values of democracy, freedom of expression, liberalism and human dignity,” Rivlin added. “These values are a solid basis on which to expand cooperation in other areas.”

President Tusk concurred with Rivlin. “We share many values and join forces together on a variety of issues,” Tusk said. “There is a deep partnership between the EU and Israel.”

Tusk touched on the need for the continued partnership between Israel and the EU in the battle against terrorism.

“I expressed to the president my condolences on the recent terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, and we discussed ways to deepen our cooperation against terrorism,” Tusk said. “There is no better place than Brussels to discuss this issue today.”

The European Council president added that a peaceful resolution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is of vital importance to the European Union.

“A sustainable peace is a very high priority for the European Community,” Tusk stressed. “The EU is ready to support peace with unprecedented assistance and cooperation with both sides.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Analysis: Trump Giving Israel a Bad Name with ‘Profiling’ Comment

Monday, June 20th, 2016

“I think profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country,” GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, using Israel as an example for a place where this method is flourishing and yielding results. “You look at Israel and you look at others, and they do it and they do it successfully. And you know, I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to start using common sense,” he said.

Sadly, as Israel is being drawn with increasing frequency into the US presidential elections, with the Democrats using the Israeli-Arab conflict as a battle field between the Sanders and Clinton proxies, bits of prejudice and misinformation about the life and politics of the Jewish State are coming to the fore and, more often than not, spreading more ignorance than knowledge about it.

Donald Trump’s cartoon depiction of Israel’s security forces’ strategies is a case in point. A few years ago, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected on a promise to do away with police racial profiling, because it perpetuated decades of abuse when African-Americans and Latinos would be routinely stopped and frisked by police. But predictive profiling, which takes into account multiple elements in an individual’s manner and appearance, is a crucial component of law enforcement work, and it’s much more complex than just skin color and religion.

Not according to the BBC, which informed its listeners on Sunday: “Profiling uses ethnicity, race and religion to determine whether a person has or is likely to commit crimes.”

And, sadly, this is probably what Trump meant when he shared with Face the Nation what he had taken from Israel’s security strategies. In a sense, Trump’s and the BBC’s notions of profiling come down to the store detective who spots a black person coming in and sticks to them expecting that they are more likely than others to shoplift.

If Israel’s security forces had used this yardstick in their approach to predictive profiling it would have choked not just its international airports, but traffic on the streets in many cities, too. If all you need to be in order to trigger security response is dark-skinned or Muslim, three-quarters of Israelis would spend their days and nights in police stations.

Chris Weller, who last year reported in Business Insider about his experience as a foreign, non-Jewish traveler at Ben Gurion airport, noted that “no flight leaving Ben Gurion has ever been hijacked, and the airline servicing Israel, El Al, hasn’t seen an attack in more than 30 years.” And yet, dozens of El Al and other flights leave Ben Gurion every day, and passenger traffic is brisk and efficient.

Israel employs, on the streets of its cities as well as in its airports, an intelligence driven system that relies on good communication, alert operatives, and multi-layered screening. Daniel Wagner, co-author of the book “Global Risk Agility and Decision Making,” cites Raphael Ron, a former director of security at Ben Gurion for 5 years, who said the passenger-oriented security system there is focused on the “human factor,” and is “based on the assumption that terrorist attacks are carried out by people who can be found and have been stopped through the use of this simple but effective security methodology.”

Unlike all US airports, departing passengers in Ben Gurion are not asked to take off their shoes during physical screening processes. Instead, passengers are interviewed by trained agents before they get to the check-in counter. So that the area in front of the check-in is not conceded to potential terrorists, as was the case recently in the Brussels airport attack. The interviews last one or two minutes for the most part, so that the line of passengers is moving quickly, and when the agents (they work in pairs) do suspect someone, based on factors such as vocabulary, general behavior, dress, age, race, religion and destination—they may be detained and questioned for as long as it takes.

But the scrutiny at Ben Gurion begins well ahead of the passenger’s arrival at the terminal itself. Every vehicle first passes through a security checkpoint where armed agents examine it, have a brief exchange with the driver, and assess their risk level. Meanwhile, the vehicle is gauged by a weight sensor, and an undercarriage scan. Then, outside and inside the terminal building agents are always mingling with the crowd pouring in, aided by hidden surveillance cameras that are monitored around the clock. Suspicious people would be challenged without waiting for them to reach a counter or a metal detector. An agent would approach them and strike a conversation to assess their mental state and risk level.

All of that well coordinated system relies on a broader intelligence infrastructure that uses informants, social network scrutiny and surveillance — traditional police methods which Israel’s security forces have been using and improving over the past decade and a half both in green line Israel and in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Chris Weller offered an excellent example for the way Israel combines computer technology with the human factor, to create a smooth, reliable, fast and effective communication system regarding predictive profiling. “I learned that before any passenger ever gives up his luggage to the fine folks at Ben Gurion International, an employee places a neon yellow sticker on the back of your passport. On it is a 10-digit number. The first number, ranging from one to six, indicates your perceived threat level to whomever else you’re passed along. I got a five.”

And so, with a simple bar-coded sticker, the first agent who meets the passenger communicates his impressions to the next agent down the line without having to exchange one word or even a gesture. Leftwing writer Lia Tarachansky complained a few years ago about the same system:

“So I enter the line … My Israeli-Palestinian roommate tells me he’ll wait while I answer the security lady’s questions. She sees I speak Hebrew, she asks if I packed my own bags and she gives me a ‘1’ as expected. I’m white and I’m an Israeli, therefore I’m probably a Zionist. High from excitement and privilege I ask if my friend can come with me to the check-in. She says of course and asks for his ID. Her face changes.

“Where it says the Jewish birth date the line in his ID is blank. i.e. not Jewish. i.e. Palestinian.

– you know this man?

– yes

– how?

– he’s my roommate

– where?

– Jaffa

– wait here.

“She looks at his last name. It’s Christian, i.e. Arab. She disappears with our passports. The roommate looks at me and we both know what’s going to happen. When she comes back her smile is gone. She tears the ‘1’ off my bags and angrily puts on a ‘3’ as though to say ‘you didn’t tell me you have an Arab friend!’ Her face says ‘don’t you see you’re [expletive] it all up for us?!’”

Tarachansky described in her vivid style just how unhappy she was with the Israeli security system, but the fact is that even in her anti-Israeli narrative one can see that no one was hurt in the encounter she described, no one was manhandled, no one even missed their flight. But the system quickly spotted and responded to the potential threat, and the response was to replace a passport sticker. This hostile depiction of the Israeli method is, in fact, a song of praise to a rational, sophisticated and effective security system.

One wonders whether Donald Trump, or the media, understand the full depth of this system when he describes Israel’s success in police work and security as “profiling.”

JNi.Media

Analysis: Can Ha’aretz Be More Racist than Donald Trump? You Betcha

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Late last month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was condemned universally, when everyone but Ann Coulter called him a racist and a bigot for suggesting federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel should have recused himself from the Trump University trial because his parents were born in Mexico, and he, Trump, as he so aptly put it, is “building a wall.” Trump went on to tell various reporters that although the judge was born in Indiana, he must be a Trump hater, on account of “I’m building a wall.” He also told one reporter that the same obligation to recuse themselves should also apply to Muslim American judges in Trump-related cases (the candidate generates thousands of them, literally).

The fact that both House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- Kentucky) called on their party’s nominee to tone down the racism should tell us just how much they loathed his outburst.

On Friday morning, Ha’aretz op-ed writer Uri Misgav, in reviewing the recent Supreme Court decision that sided with the Chief Rabbinate and against the AG in prohibiting “alternative” kosher certifications, wrote the following:

“The ruling was by a majority of two to one. The two judges who preserved the corrupting power in the hands of the Rabbinate were Rubinstein and Noam Sohlberg. Both wear a yarmulke, [and are] religious Orthodox, who grew up and developed on the high road of Religious Zionism. They put the cats in charge of the cream. This was a very strangely composed panel. In fact, it was so strange that it’s not strange at all: of course it was intentional. With the assumption that it’s better to let the religious handle these issues which are close to their hearts. Except that the logic should have been the complete opposite of that. There’s a clear conflict of interests here. At stake was the tension between state and religion. The secular judge, incidentally, had the minority opinion.”

The paragraph above is dripping bigotry, not only accusing supreme court judges of being unable to examine a case on its merits, suspending their personal views—which is something we expect of every judge in every trial—but that somehow the powers-that-be on the court assigned the two religious Orthodox judges because the case belongs in their ghetto. The root of Trump’s bigotry and the root of Misgav’s bigotry are the same: they both assume that judges belonging to the group they hate are inevitably partial, interested parties in the cases they try.

But then Misgav focuses on Judge Sohlberg, calling him a criminal, because he resides in Alon Shvut, at the heart of Gush Etzion, an area which even Misgav agrees will never be handed over to Arab rule, even as part of a two-state agreement. Writing for a newspaper that has printed many miles of allegations against rightwing activists and politicians who have threatened the Supreme Court for its unprecedented activism, Misgav actually exposed Sohlberg to prosecution by a European court as a war criminal. The scenario is simple: Judge Sohlberg lands in Brussels, someone on the same El Al flight identifies him and calls over the Gendarmes, showing them the English translation of Misgav’s attack, demanding that Sohlberg be taken into custody until the war crime charges against him are verified. Unrealistic? Probably, but when MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) last summer announced, “We have to take the blade of a D-9 [bulldozer] to the High Court of Justice,” Ha’aretz took his expression of rage at face value.

It appears Ha’aretz is willing to see Israeli high court justices’ lives be put in jeopardy just to advance the paper’s political ends. So much for tolerance and liberalism.

David Israel

Continental Chutzpah: EU Building on Israeli Land, Warning Against Demolitions

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

The European Union over the past few years has been erecting illegal structures in Area C, which according to the Oslo agreement is under Israeli control. After several rightwing NGOs have complained, the IDF set out to demolish some of those structures. By rights, they should have taken all of them down, what with their being built without a permit. Israeli media publicized the demolition of those structures, some of which actually flew the EU flag — like those mythical cat burglars who leave their personal business card in the open safe. But last week the EU chutzpah has reached unprecedented highs when Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the Danish diplomat who since 2013 has been the ambassador of the European Union to Jerusalem, met with Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Gen. Yoav Mordechai, to warn him that if Israel keeps demolishing those “Palestinian homes” it would damage relations with Brussels.

According to a senior Israeli official who spoke to Ha’aretz, the meeting was tense and loaded. The ambassador accused Israel of hurting the “weakest Palestinian populations.” What the senior official did not share was that those structures are a means by which the EU has been challenging Israel’s claim to sovereignty in Area C (the PA is currently in charge in Areas A and B). It has to do with the diametrically opposed views of Israel and the EU of what constitutes the “two-state solution.”

Essentially, the Israeli politicians who are now in government, as well as more than a few in the opposition, envision a future peace deal that turns Areas A and B into an independent Palestinian entity, either as a state or an autonomy. The same Israeli leaders envision some permanent legal solution for the upwards of 400 thousand Jews living in Judea and Samaria, all of them in Area C, most likely with Israel annexing the large settlement clusters and giving away the rest of the land.

Virtually no one outside Israel supports this idea at the moment. Even Israel’s best friends in the world envision the ousting of the Jews from Area C, possibly while allowing Israel to retain eastern Jerusalem. How would that actually be done—no one cares to say, nor where would Israel gather the tens of billions of dollars required for such a move, never mind whether the settler population would acquiesce or opt instead for resistance that would make the traumatic evacuation of 8,000 Jews from Gaza’s Gush Katif look like a picnic. Meanwhile, while Area C in Israel’s view is eventually going to be annexed as part of a peace deal — to the Europeans Area C is Palestinian land ready to be redeemed.

Which is why the EU has been relentless at challenging Israel’s claim to Area C. And it’s why they’ve come up with the delusional notion that taking down 531 illegal Arab structures in 2015, 75 of which had been built by the EU, was damaging the two-state solution. Because the two-state solution the Europeans envision is without any Jews in Area C.

For the same reason, Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen was complaining that Israel is quick to condemn and demolish those illegal structures, but at the same time refuses to give Arabs permits to build legally in Area C. Because while the Arabs view Area C as soon to be part of free Palestine, Israelis plan to keep most of it, thank you very much.

There’s going to be another meeting with the EU envoy, on June 15, this time at the Israeli foreign ministry. The Europeans are going to demand a freeze on demolishing Arab structures in Area C, while at the same time also demanding a freeze on Jewish construction in the same Area C. And at some point something will have to give.

David Israel

Israel to Open Permanent Office at NATO Headquarters in Brussels

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced Israel will accept an invitation from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to open a permanent office at its Brussels headquarters in Belgium.

The invitation allegedly came after Turkey lifted a veto that blocked the upgrade five years ago. If true, it is another move that signals a warming of the ‘big chill’ between Ankara and Jerusalem since 2010.

“This is something we worked on for many years,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“I think this is important to Israel’s standing in the world. The countries of the world want to cooperate with us because of our determined struggle against terrorism, because of our technological knowledge, our intelligence deployment and other reasons.”

Israel is currently a participant in the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue, together with Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Mauritania and Morocco.

Hana Levi Julian

Departures Resume at Brussels International Airport

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Brussels Airport Company announced the reopening Sunday of Levantem International Airport, about six weeks after Da’esh (ISIS) suicide bombers blew up its departure hall, killing 16 people and wounding many others.

“The reopening is an important moment for the entire airport community and Belgium,” said Brussels Airport Company CEO Arnaud Feist.

A symbolic reopening took place on April 3.

But starting Monday, the airport’s departure capacity will reach at least 80 percent of its former takeoffs prior to the attacks, with 111 check-in counters operating in the departure hall and 36 more open in temporary buildings.

The two bombers detonated explosives in suitcases on March 22. A third suicide bomber blew himself up on a metro train in the city subway system a short while later. Altogether the trio murdered a total of 32 people and wounded hundreds of others.

Hana Levi Julian

Belgium ID’s Brussels ‘Man in Hat,’ But Warns ‘May Be More Terror Cells’

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Belgian investigators have finally identified the mysterious “man in the hat” — the third man in video footage that showed the two suicide bombers who blew up Zaventem International Airport in Brussels last month.

Authorities said that Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini, who is in custody, admitted to being the man in the photo with the two terrorists.

“After being confronted with the results of the different expert examinations, he confessed his presence at the crime scene,” Belgian federal prosecutors told reporters Saturday.

Abrini, 31, was also the last identified suspect at large from the Nov. 13 massacre in Paris. He was one of four suspects charged Saturday with “participating in terrorist acts” in connection with the March 22 suicide bombings in Brussels. The attacks on the city’s international airport and metro system killed 32 people and wounded 270 others.

According to Belgian federal prosecutors, Abrini was detained Friday in a raid carried out in Brussels. He told police that he threw away his white vest in a garbage bin, and sold the hat that was seen in the footage. His fingerprints were found in France in a car used by the Paris attackers, and in Brussels, in an apartment used by the airport bombers.

A Belgian-Moroccan petty criminal known to police, Abrini was a childhood friend of Paris terror suspect brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam. He also had ties to the group’s ringleader, Abdelhamid Abbaoud, who died in a shootout with French police shortly after the massacre.

While Brahim Abdeslam died in Paris as a suicide bomber on Nov. 13, his brother Salah had second thoughts and fled instead; he returned to Brussels and hid in his old neighborhood for the next four months. He was arrested on March 18, four days before the attack on the airport and metro system.

The fact that the two bombers were together with a terror suspect intimately connected with the Nov. 13 Paris massacre only reinforces the reality that Da’esh (ISIS) has succeeded in establishing a tightly woven network of terrorists in major cities across the European continent.

Further reinforcing that point is the arrest of Osama Krayem, who left Malmo, Sweden, to fight with Da’esh in Syria. He is accused of being the No. 2 terrorist in the March 22 bombing of the Brussels metro station, killing 16 people. He is also accused of being at a shopping mall where the luggage used in the bombing of the airport was purchased.

A Rwandan nation, Herve B.M. was arrested at the same time as Osama Krayem and allegedly offered assistance to him and Abrini, prosecutors said.

Belgium is still maintaining a second-highest terror alert, because “there are perhaps other cells that are still active on our territory,” Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon told RTL television on Saturday.

A total of 162 people have been murdered in Europe by Da’esh (ISIS) in less than half a year. Most of the operatives responsible for the murders have had connections in Belgium and/or France, as well as Syria.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/belgium-ids-brussels-man-in-hat-but-warns-may-be-more-terror-cells/2016/04/10/

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