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May 31, 2016 / 23 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Kahlon Says Netanyahu’s Coalition Safe – for Now

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, chairman of the Kulanu party, says he will not be the one to bring down the government of Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kahlon told Israel Radio in an interview on Sunday, “The government will last. We have large, important challenges, and you can’t bring down a government every month, you can’t go to elections every year. The government needs to function,” he said.

The finance minister’s party holds the lion’s share in the coalition next to the Likud.

The reassurance followed a threat Saturday night by Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett who told members of his Knesset faction that he is ready to vote against the appointment of new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also a member of Bayit Yehudi, stands to lose her job if the party leaves the coalition, as does Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.

New elections might still be an option, Shaked told Galei Tzahal Army Radio on Sunday.

In a Facebook post late Saturday night, Bennet said the security cabinet “commands the [IDF] chief of staff and the IDF, which makes fateful life-and-death decisions, must stop being blind. Today it is blind.” The cabinet ministers, he contended, “consistently have critical information withheld from them.”

Bennett contends “Saving lives I s more important than cabinet portfolios.” He has demanded real-time security updates, fact-finding visits to IDF bases and military zones, and easier access to classified information.

The 61-seat coalition is to be expanded by five more mandates when Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party’s membership is completed with his appointment as defense minister. But it may not survive the loss of Bayit Yehudi.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Rocked by Anti-Semitic Rape of Mentally-Handicapped Woman and Police Coverup

Friday, May 27th, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Tel Aviv (TPS) – A horrific gang rape of a mentally-handicapped Jewish woman earlier this month, allegedly committed by three Palestinian Authority Arabs who shouted anti-Semitic comments during the attack, has shaken Israeli society and stirred outrage – including towards the police, who apparently kept the case under wraps for weeks for fear of stoking tensions between Jews and Arabs.

The police announced on Wednesday it had arrested two Palestinian Authority Arabs for the rape of a 20-year-old disabled Israeli woman in southern Tel Aviv on Israeli Independence Day several weeks ago. Imad Al-Din Daraghmeh, 42, is accused of filming as he and two other attackers raped, urinated, and spit on the young woman – all while berating her with anti-Semitic slurs. He also allegedly threatened to murder her aunt and brother if she complained to the police.

The second Palestinian Authority Arab suspect arrested is underage and a third suspect escaped and remains at large.

Meanwhile, right-wing politicians and feminist activists are trading accusations of hypocrisy and selective attention to sexual violence, while the police is under fire for silencing the incident for almost two weeks in an apparent effort to avoid ethnic violence over the emotionally charged crimes.

“It’s an unfathomable horror,” wrote Likud lawmaker Yoav Kisch on Facebook on Wednesday. “The more details of the rape investigation involving the young girl that are revealed, the more I shudder.”

Yet Kisch also rebuked both the police and feminist activists for supposed silence.

“I am horrified at the police’s decision to silence the incident in order to ‘prevent riots,’ but it is mainly the silence that infuriates me. Where are all the heroines of women’s rights? Where are the celebrated feminists?” he asked, accusing his “left-wing colleagues” of not speaking out because the suspected perpetrators are Palestinians.

Michal Rozin, a Knesset member with the left-wing Meretz party, wrote a letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Wednesday blasting the police’s handling of the case, suggesting that the hush around the case allowed the third suspect to escape.

“This is unacceptable and seriously damages the proper procedure in such cases. I ask you to clarify whether this is a case of police negligence, in addition to the violation of the victim’s rights,” she wrote.

Some activists voiced concern about the politicization of the attack.

“This incident should not be silenced or taken lightly – it’s awful – but such stories also shouldn’t be used to slander a specific group. Those who did it are bad people regardless of their ethnicity,” argued Nitzan Levenberg, an Israeli journalist and feminist activist, in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

“The practice of expressing shock and outrage over violence against women only when the perpetrators are the ‘enemy’ exists all around the world,” she added. “It highlights the view of female sexuality as a tool of war, and such cases are used as a justification for bigoted and racist viewpoints.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, lambasted politicians and the press for not loudly deploring the attack.

“This is a shocking crime that must be condemned across the board. But for some reason such a condemnation hasn’t been heard – not in the press and not across the political spectrum,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday night.

Netanyahu then intimated that there is a double standard for Jewish victims as opposed to Palestinian ones – and that had the roles been reversed the public outcry would be much greater.

“One can only imagine what would happen in the reverse case,” he said.

Joshua B. Dermer and Michael Zeff contributed to this article.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Vilifying Israel, Ruining Venezuela

Friday, May 27th, 2016

“What does Israel plan to do with the Palestinians?” asked the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Rafael Ramirez. It was, of course, a rhetorical question.

Speaking at an informal session of the Security Council this month, the representative of a despotic, corrupt, and militarized regime – one that has bankrupted Venezuela, hijacked the judicial system to throw political dissidents in jail, and counts Iran and Syria among its closest allies – rained down anti-Semitic rhetoric upon the state of Israel.

Ramirez went on to flatly ask whether Israel was “trying to impose a ‘final solution’ on the Palestinians in the West Bank.”

In making the obscene comparison between Israel and the Nazis, the Venezuelan delegate engaged in the ultimate blood libel, accusing the survivors of the Holocaust of having turned into the same monsters who exterminated 6 million Jews and millions of others. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon publicly rejected such a disgusting comparison, as did other UN member representatives including France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

(Ramirez has since apologized privately to Israel’s UN ambassador, but has yet to do so in public.)

The Venezuelan remarks, of course, were meant only to fuel hatred. Ramirez never had any intention of addressing the subject of the meeting: the protection of civilians affected by the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and Israel.

Even worse, arguably, is the fact that these comments were made under the auspices of a process that is designed to increase dialogue and understanding, rather than boosting hatred and polarization.

I know this to be the case because I launched this process – and I am honored that it is officially named the Arria Formula. Its purpose is to enable members of the Security Council to discuss informally issues of critical importance to international peace and security.

Since it was introduced in 1992 in the midst of the genocidal war in Bosnia, at a time when I was serving as Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN, the Arria Formula has become a useful tool in the toolbox of Security Council proceedings.

Not once has it been used to promote racial hatred and anti-Semitism – that is, until Ramirez came along. His diatribe was a continuation of the policy of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who expelled the Israeli ambassador in Caracas during the Gaza war of 2009 during a national public broadcast, and spewed these words of hate: “From the bottom of my soul, I damn you Israel. You are a criminal and terrorist state that is openly exterminating the Palestinians.”

Be on high alert: All Venezuelan institutions, from the supreme court to the National Electoral Council, have been hijacked by the regime of Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, in order to give its ongoing assault on human rights the appearance of democratic legitimacy.

The scapegoating of Israel is by design – to distract Venezuelans and the world from what is a crime in progress.

Venezuela was among the first countries to recognize Israel, and we have had the good fortune of enriching our country with the talent and the work of thousands of Jews from all over the world.

While I was Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN, we were among the first states to sponsor a measure to revoke the infamous UN General Assembly resolution of 1975 that equated Zionism with racism. Twenty-five years later, my successor is behaving as though that resolution is still on the books.

Instead of shaming our people with its lamentable behavior, the Maduro regime should be more concerned with the magnitude of Venezuela’s unprecedented crisis. There is raging inflation, the world’s highest, that has destroyed worker salaries. Violent crime is out of control. The health care system is in a dismal state. There are blackouts and severe food and medicine shortages. People, understandably, are protesting in the streets.

And the Maduro regime is exploiting the emergency it created in dangerously authoritarian ways.

The regime has castrated the power of the National Assembly to legislate. Maduro just passed a decree that puts him and the armed forces in complete control, to rule without any kind of restrictions, as well as limiting the fundamental constitutional rights and guarantees of the people. In sum, he has created his own personal and dictatorial constitution.

The regime also ought to worry about judicial proceedings taking place in a New York court regarding two members of the Venezuelan presidential family who are facing federal narcotics charges. These proceedings are surely the first of many more to come.

The regime should focus more on its long train of abuses against the Venezuelan people and less on the horrific crimes it imagines Israel is longing to commit.

 

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Daily News. Copyright Daily News, L.P. (New York). Used with permission.

Diego Arria

Guggenheim Museum Website Calls Israel “Racist,” Falsely Claims it Censors Art

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Elder of Ziyon website}

The famous Guggenheim Museum in New York has a blog that says it “tells the Guggenheim’s evolving story, and offers insights on visual culture, urbanism, and the global art world, along with regular discoveries from the archives.”

It recently posted this outrageous piece by Chen Tamir, called “Censorship in Israel:

Over the past two years, the arts in Israel have been increasingly threatened by censorship and draconian government funding proposals. Some see this as the beginning of a culture war not unlike the one endured by the United States during the 1990s, when politicians used arts funding reform as a political tool to curry favor with conservative constituents. Freedom of speech is not treated with the same reverence in Israel as it is in the States; the country was not founded on a constitution that privileges such liberty. (Indeed, there is no Israeli constitution, a fact that some would consider a root cause of its racist and lopsided legal system and civic infrastructure.) The state of stagnation and worsening division in Israel/Palestine further entrenches the occupation, allowing more settlements to be built and inflicting further oppression on Palestinians. The metanarrative in Israel is one of continuous existential fear and victimization, which leads to the increased justification of insularity and nationalism, and the silencing of opposition.

Tamir includes many half-truths and absurd exaggerations as well as a complete disregard for the definition of “censorship.”

The calls for and instances of censorship over the past two years have been both top-down (from government officials) and grassroots (by private citizens calling for the removal of artworks). Some individuals have taken matters into their own hands and established paramilitary organizations that spy on human rights activists and organizations, most notably the extra-political group Im Tirtzu, which recently published a blacklist of “moles”—cultural producers of all stripes who support leftist organizations that they perceive as anti-Zionist.

Im Tirtzu is paramilitary?

And why is art that defames a nation free speech, but compiling a list of people behind that art is “censorship?”

Here’s another example of “censorship”:

Artist-choreographer Arkadi Zaides was criticized for a video and dance work incorporating footage from B’Tselem’s Camera Project (through which cameras are given to Palestinians to document conflicts with the army and neighboring settlers). The Museum of Petach Tikva, which presented the work, was asked by the municipality to close the exhibition early following pressure from a “concerned citizen,” while the Ministry of Culture withdrew its funding from the show (although the exhibition remained open until its scheduled end date a few days after this incident).

So, not a single person was deprived of seeing the show. How is that censorship?

Further examples include the redirection of arts funding to things like the Zionist Art Prize, and right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acting as temporary Minister of Education, vetoing the 2015 candidate for the Ministry’s annual literature prize.

That is not censorship either.

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev have been responsible for a string of incidents of or attempts at censorship, ranging from the banning of books and plays to a withdrawal of state funding from Jaffa’s Elmina Theater unless its director, Norman Issa, reversed his refusal to perform in a settlement in the West Bank. Regev, who previously served as the chief censor of the Israeli army, recently treated the director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Suzanne Landau (herself recently accused of self-censorship) to a surprise Friday-night phone call to ask about a work of art in a recent exhibition by Uri Katzenstein.

The only thing in this list that is actual censorship is the supposed “banning of books and plays.” Curiously, Tamir doesn’t mention their names, but almost certainly he is referring to the Education Ministry taking an anti-Israel novel off of its reading list as “banning,” which it isn’t. Almost certainly there has been no banning of any play as well.

It takes a while before we find out how Tamir defines “censorship”:  the refusal of a nation to fund art that directly attacks it.

Herein lies the crux of contemporary censorship: funding. As in the American Culture Wars, public funding is being manipulated to become a mechanism of censorship.

That is not censorship by any definition. Making it somewhat more difficult for an artist to make a living from public money is not censorship. I can make art if I want, but if the Guggenheim decides not to make an exhibition of my artwork and the government doesn’t fund me I am not being “censored.” If publishers aren’t interested in my poetry and the BBC refuses to air my play and MTV doesn’t want to air my music videos, I am not being “censored.”

The entire article is a string of lies that simply misuses the meaning of the word “censorship” to falsely paint Israel as a racist society.

The Guggenheim Museum should remove this article. Not because I support censorship – I emphatically do not – but because I do not believe that the museum should publish lies, fabrications and slander. Tamir has the full right to post her lies on her own website and the Guggenheim has the full right to reject publishing a litany of her lies and half-truths.

If supporters of the Guggenheim decide to withhold their funding to show their displeasure for the museum becoming a mouthpiece for anti-Israel propaganda, that isn’t censorship either.

Elder of Ziyon

State Dept. Says Liberman Appointment ‘Raises Legitimate Questions’ About Direction of Israeli Govt

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

The U.S. is not happy about the appointment of Israel’s new defense minister, Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman, to the coalition government. This became patently obvious at Wednesday State Department briefing (May 25, 2016) in Washington DC after a long round of questions on other topics — most of them about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s misdeeds during her tenure as Secretary of State — when the session was nearly over. There were just a few minutes left, said State Department spokesperson Mark Toner, who seemed almost to be waiting for someone — anyone — to ask the question.

And then finally, the very last one, squeezed in at the final second, a reporter managed to deliver the perfect pitch over home plate. Following is the question — clearly a softball — tossed to the harried spokesperson, who practically leaped to answer it, and his response.

Q: I know it’s like the fifth day in a row, but at least it’s now formally been announced that Avigdor Lieberman is to be Israel’s defense minister. Do you have any comment on the new Israeli government and his appointment to that job in particular?

Mr. Toner: I do. We have seen reports an agreement’s been reached to expand the coalition.

“We’ve also seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history. And we also know that many of its ministers have said they opposed a two-state solution.

“This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in – headed in, rather – and what kind of policies it may adopt, but ultimately we’re going to judge this government based on its actions.

“We’re going to work with this government as we have with every Israeli government that preceded it, with the goal of strengthening our cooperation, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel, and in our commitment to working towards a two-state solution.”

Hana Levi Julian

Tens of Thousands Rejoice in Lag B’Omer Celebration at Rashbi’s Tomb on Mt. Meron [video]

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

The mystical mountain of Mount Meron rang out with music and song into the wee hours of Thursday morning as Jews celebrated the holiday of Lag B’Omer at the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and that of his son, close by.

“Lag” stands for the two Hebrew letters, Lamed and Gimel, which equal 33. The holiday falls on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer – the seven-week period between Passover and Shavuot, the holiday marking the day on which the Nation of Israel received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Tens of thousands of Jewish men and women from all walks of life streamed into the area around the Tomb of the RaShBI, as he is called, and his son (who is also buried there), for this is the day on which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai left this world, and passed to the next.

Rabbi Shimon knew the Romans would soon come to capture him, as he was a great spiritual and Cabbalistic leader at the time. He therefore fled with his son to a cave where the two men were fed by a carob tree, and drank from a pure spring that miraculously appeared.

The rabbi and his son spent 12 years in that cave, until the death of Caesar. But when he emerged, he saw a farmer tilling a nearby field, and became so upset at the apparent “waste of time from Torah learning” that his gaze actually set fire to the field. The rabbi returned to the cave for another 12 months, to begin to adjust to normal day-to-day life.

It is to mark that fiery response by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai that bonfires are lit on the night of Lag B’Omer each year.

But the holiday also marks the cessation of the deadly plague that took the lives of 24,000 students of the Talmudic sage, Rabbi Akiva – which miraculously ended on this day as well. According to the Talmud, the plague was sent by Heaven as punishment for the students’ disrespectful behavior to one another; each was jealous of the other. They denigrated each other even as they competed to reach ever higher levels of spirituality.

The tradition of celebrating the holiday at RaShBI’s tombb in Meron spans thousands of generations, drawing Jews from around the world. This year, literally tens of thousands of Jews reached the site.

According to the Magen David Adom emergency medical response service, 150 people were treated on site for light burns, dehydration and excessive drinking. Of those, 17 taken to nearby Ziv Hospital in Tzfat and Poriya Medical Center for further care. Two were listed in fair to serious condition due to alcohol poisoning.

MDA and other medical services maintained a broad spectrum of staff and equipment at the site with two clinics, ambulances, first-aid motorbikes, tractor bikes and Segways.

Hana Levi Julian

Lag B’Omer Rocket Attack on Southern Israel

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Gaza terrorists launched a rocket attack on southern Israel at around 11:30 pm Wednesday night.

Most Lag B’Omer celebrations were just beginning to wind down at bonfires around the country.

“Initial inquiries suggest the rocket hit an open area in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council district,” an IDF spokesperson said.

Security personnel were searching the area to determine the exact impact site.

No injuries were reported.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/lag-bomer-rocket-attack-on-southern-israel/2016/05/26/

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