President Obama on Friday renewed America’s 33-year-old state of emergency against Iran.
The status was instituted by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 following Iran’s Islamic revolution, and allows the President greater autonomy in imposing sanctions and dealing with “unusual and extraordinary threat[s] to the national security, foreign policy and economy”.
Obama’s announcement followed a Treasury Department decision to impose additional sanctions against Iranian officials and institutions oppressing and censoring Iranian citizens.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said sanctions against Iran were meant to keep Iran from cutting Iranians off from the world with an “electronic curtain”.
Officials being sanctioned include the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and the Press Supervisory Board.
Thousands of Syrian refugees poured across the border into Turkey on Friday after heavy fighting between Syrian opposition and loyalists to President Bashar Assad led to the deaths of 46 people in two days in the northeast and 68 throughout the rest of the country, including 47 civilians.
According to the United Nations, over 9,000 Syrians fled to Turkey in the span of one day, with 2,000 others escaping to neighboring countries. Approximately 408,000 Syrians are considered refugees in the area.
The UN anticipated that 700,000 Syrians would ultimately make their way to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq to escape the civil war, and that 4 million people would need emergency aid.
The Tazpit News Agency reports that on Friday afternoon 30 Palestinians and foreign and Israeli anarchists protested and blocked the road in front of the Rami Levy supermarket, this time in Gush Etzion.
Security forces arrived and broke up the protest. One anarchist was arrested.
Rami Levy is a popular supermarket chain that employs both Arab and Jewish workers, and clients from both sectors shop there side by side.
“There’s nothing like a photograph of an innocent child caught up in military conflict to elicit sympathy, rage, and at times, international intervention.
On a media stage far away from Hollywood, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where photographers gather every Friday to document repetitious scenes of Palestinian residents and international activists clashing with Israeli soldiers, Palestinian activists are placing their children in ever-more-visible roles. Unlike scenes in “Wag the Dog,” a black comedy, there’s nothing funny about parents exploiting their own children to score propaganda points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Days later, photos of the distraught girls appeared in Australia’s Fairfax media outlets alongside a Page-1 article charging the Israeli army with the routine abuse of Palestinian children. “An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh,” stated one caption in the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Slamming the article’s “unnamed sources, hearsay and propaganda,” Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, also charged that the Palestinian leadership “blatantly use[s] children” and “presents a fable where Israel’s curtailing of violence is tantamount to abuse of children.”
Chester was not specifically addressing the photographs of the appealing young Tamimi girls under the thumb of the Israeli military, but he may as well have been.
A’hd is the daughter of Narimen and Bassem, prominent activists in the Popular Resistance, and Marah’s father is Naji, another leader in the weekly demonstrations.
In other words, the girls’ parents are among those who determine the protests’ strategies. Rather than keeping their children at a safe distance from the often-violent clashes, the parents encouraged their children to play highly visible roles in the confrontation with the army.
Narimen is a participant in B’Tselem’s video project, in which the prominent Israeli NGO distributes video cameras to Palestinians to “present the reality of their lives to the Israeli and the international public.”
This is not the first time she has exploited children and distorted reality. In a 2011 video of the arrest of an 11-year-old stone-thrower, Narimen filmed as a Palestinian man instructed the boy’s mother not to join him on the police vehicle, even while Israeli authorities repeatedly asked her to board the van. Later media reports falsely claimed that the Israeli police forbade his parents from accompanying him.
Despite complaints about her cynical exploitation of Palestinian children in order to produce anti-Israel propaganda, Narimen has not stopped using children as props. To the contrary, she has since enlisted her own daughter.
In a 16-minute video posted on the Nabi Saleh Solidarity blog, the two girls can be seen leading a crowd marching toward a spring that the army has deemed off-limits. A’hd and Marah are filmed at length, cursing the soldiers and trying to get around them. Marah can be seen running some distance to approach and confront soldiers. And when Narimen and two other women are arrested, the girls refuse to let go, interfering with the arrests. An army spokesman later said that the detainees, who were held for a few hours, had been throwing rocks.”
Here’s a screen capture from the video.
Here’s photo taken that day promoted on pro-Palestinian sites.
The site where the photo was published, Nabi Selah Solidarity, added the following:
“The actions of A’hd Tamimi and Marah Tamimi, the two young girls who attempted to prevent the arrest of non-violent resistance leader Nariman Tamimi by Israeli Occupation Forces on Friday, was recognised on Monday. A’hd is the daughter of Nariman and Palestinian non-violent resistance leader Bassem Tamimi who was jailed for over year for leading the non-violent resistance in Nabi Saleh. Marah is the daugher of Naji Tamimi, another Nabi Saleh non-violent resistance leader who was also jailed for over a year for his non-violent opposition to Israel’s military occupation.”
But, the exploitation of the two girls has not ended.
“A video shot at a Friday protest in the village of Nabi Salih, in the central West Bank, captured a striking image: that of a young Palestinian girl [A'hd Tamimi] attempting to provoke Israeli soldiers. Soon thereafter the girl is joined by many other seemingly young-looking people from the village.
A senior IDF source told Ynet that intelligence indicates that pro-Palestinian activists pay Palestinian children from Nabi Salih and other nearby villages to confront the soldiers. “The soldiers are briefed on the fact that these protests are staged for the sake of provocation, so that they could be filmed acting violently and so that those videos could be distributed worldwide in an effort to harm the IDF’s image,” the officer said.
According to Ynet, Abir Kubati, spokesperson of the popular protest coordination committee, said: “I don’t understand what the army wants – they send soldiers into a Palestinian village and then dare to depict themselves as victims because the residents don’t welcome them.”
“You’re a traitor! I know you speak Arabic. Our soldiers are stronger than you! I’ll smash your head,” the 10-year-old girl is heard in the video screaming at the soldier in Arabic, according to a translation provided by Ynet.”
Placing innocent Palestinian children in potentially dangerous situations, cynically hoping for a media coup stemming from any overreaction by IDF soldiers, is indeed shameful.
However, such provocations by the Tamimis pale in comparison to an antisemitic Palestinian political culture which consistently sends messages to their youth that martyrdom – dying, or even murdering Israeli Jews, to advance the Palestinian cause – is one of the most important political values they should aspire to.
Here are a few clips of chilling child abuse, routinely sanctioned by Palestinian society, which the Guardian won’t report.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is insisting that Israel does not consider Egypt’s government a “shocking dictatorship”, after Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad made the statement to students in Herzliya on Friday.
Gilad called the Egyptian Spring and recent elections a “tremendous historic change in Egypt”, and insisted that Israel’s relationship with Egypt has deteriorated since president Muhammed Morsi was voted in. “Out of desire for democracy has grown a shocking dictatorship,” the Associated Press quotes Gilad as saying. “Where are all the young people who demonstrated in Tahrir square? They have disappeared.”
In response to the stabbing of a Jewish man on Friday night, scores of Jewish residents of the historic Mount of Olives in Jerusalem took to the street in protest, demanding to be afforded the peace and security found in other parts of Israel’s capital city.
Walking back from prayers at the Western Wall on Friday night, a man in his 30s and his friend were attacked by two Arab men who leapt from a waiting car. One of the assailants stabbed the Jewish man in his back and both fled. The victim was treated at the scene by a Magen David Adom paramedic and an emergency room physician from Shaarei Zedek hospital, both of whom are residents of Maale HaZeitim, one of the Jewish neighborhoods in the area.
The victim was taken to Hadassah Ein-Kerem hospital by ambulance in moderate condition, with a stab wound to his kidney. This marks the first time a Jew was stabbed in the neighborhood since its establishment, more than a decade ago. It is an escalation in the violence which includes numerous rock throwing and other attacks. Residents demanded more police presence and stricter measures against anti-Jewish incitement and violence.
At an emergency meeting held by the Jewish community’s security committee, residents expressed their outrage at the Jerusalem Police department’s failure to provide basic protection to citizens, and issued a list of recommendations for local law enforcement, who they say do not take security threats or calls for police assistance seriously. Among complaints were inability to reach officers in a timely manner via the national police phone service, unwillingness for police to investigate charges of threats or harassment against Jews by Arab neighbors, and an overwhelming lack of police presence in an area known to be hostile toward Jews within the Jerusalem municipality.
Maale HaZeitim, and the new adjacent community of Maalot David, are a 15-minute walk from Jerusalem’s popular and ancient Old City, and enjoys a view of the Temple Mount.
When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, the redactor of the Mishnah known as “Rebbi,” lay dying, he made his sons promise him that after his death they would set the Shabbat table and light the candles for him every Friday night.
There is a connection between the righteous, the world to come and Friday night. All are invested with kedushah (holiness). Kedushah is synonymous with peace. Shabbat is synonymous with peace. Shabbat Shalom. Peace is a state of harmony between body and soul when they no longer fight each other and no longer pull in different directions.
Perhaps nobody suffered more from internal strife than King David. Abigail’s words of farewell to King David as he lay dying were “May your soul be bound up in the bundle of life.” In the world to come, when the body is separated from the soul, there is eternal peace.
The soul, having left the body, settles in its eternal resting place under God’s heavenly throne. This, however does not happen immediately. According to the Talmud, for the first twelve months after death, the soul wanders restlessly between heaven and earth trying to reunite with the body. The lifelong partnership with the body, however volatile it may have been, is not easily terminated. It is only when the soul has reached the eternal level of holiness that it finally comes to rest in the presence of God.
Hence the Kaddish is recited during the first eleven months of restlessness to assist the soul in its quest for peace. On Friday night we rest in peace from the physical toil of the week and have a taste of the world to come. Indeed, Shabbat is referred to as a mirror of the world to come.
Few people have managed to live in eternal peace during their own lifetime. One such person was Rebbi, who lived in the second century. As he lay dying, he lifted his ten fingers toward heaven and said, “You know that I toiled with my ten fingers in the study of Torah. May it be your wish that there be peace in my place of eternal rest.” The Torah is a tree of life to those who cling to it. Its roads are harmonious and its ways are peaceful. No wonder, then, that Rebbi, who toiled his whole life in the streets of the Torah, found peace during his own lifetime. Indeed, he was known as our holy Rebbi, Rabbeinu Hakadosh.
It seems that Rebbi was so content in this world that he did not want to leave. “Why are you crying?” asked Rabbi Chiyah, the disciple of Rebbi. “You know it is a good omen to die with a smile.”
“I am crying on account of the Torah I will no longer be able to study and the commandments I will no longer be able to perform,” answered Rebbi.
Rebbi’s disciples did not want him to leave either. Neither, of course, did his “maidservant” (Amtei deRebbi). So they decreed the day a public fast and gathered around Rebbi’s home in the mountain village of Tzipori and prayed for his recovery.
“Anybody,” they warned “that breaks the news of Rebbi’s death will himself be put to death.” And as long as they prayed, Rebbi did not die. But he suffered terribly. And his “maidservant” could see him suffer no more. So she ascended to the roof carrying an earthenware jug. She turned her eyes heavenward and cried out, “the angels seek to take Rebbi and the people seek to keep Rebbi. May it be Your wish that those above overcome those below.”
But the disciples would not stop praying and would not release Rebbi from his suffering. So Rebbi’s “maidservant” held the earthenware jug aloft and cast it down into the street below where the disciples stood praying. The crash of the earthenware on the street below silenced their prayers for an instant and Rebbi’s soul departed. “Bo b’shalom” – come in peace – the angels greeted him.
The soul of Rebbi was equally at peace both in this world and the next. His soul did not suffer the distress of the wandering souls. And so we are told that each Friday night when Boi B’shalom was recited, he would return home, sit at the Friday night table and say Kiddush for his family. One Friday night, however, a neighbor saw him. Fearing that those who saw him would elevate him in their minds above his peers, he departed and was never seen again.