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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘israelis’

Breaking the Silence: Teaching Hebron’s Real Jewish History to Young Israelis

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

In recent years, radical-Left NGOs have marked Hebron as a strategic target through which to facilitate and promote international pressure on Israel. Rightwing Jewish movement Im Tirtzu is planning to change that, inviting thousands of Israeli students to visit the city of Hebron on regular tours aimed at strengthening the historical national connection to the city. The program, run by Im Tirtzu and the Jewish Community of Hebron, exposes students to the realities of Hebron, their main goal being “to connect more students to the history of Hebron and to strengthen each student’s deep connection to the place.”

Tour organizers expect a turnout of 5,000 students throughout the academic year.

The first tour takes place on Thursday, leaving from Bar-Ilan University on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. According to Im Tirtzu, the tours provides a balancing point of view in a milieu where radical, anti-Israel groups use tours of the city to slander and delegitimize Israel. They will visit the Cave of the Patriarchs, David HaMelech Street, the ancient Jewish cemetery, Tel Romeda, Beit Romano, and the Hebron Heritage Museum.

The program organizers have discussed potential run-ins with radical anti-Zionist groups during the tour, concluding that “if students on the tour encounter foreign journalists, European MPs, or anti-Israel propaganda tours led by radical Left NGOs, they will be permitted to provide them with educational materials that expose the hypocrisy and double standards of the delegitimization campaign against Israel.”

“Of course,” the organizers stress, “there must be an emphasis on appropriate conduct and politeness.”

The program is expected to run at all the Israeli universities and colleges with Im Tirtzu groups, including Hebrew University, the Technion, and Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion, Bar-Ilan, Haifa, and Ariel universities.

Spokesman for the Hebron Jewish Community Yishai Fleisher noted that “Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs are at the foundation of the People of Israel and represent our historical right to the land. It is astonishing that the anti-Zionist narrative brazenly chooses to rip out these deep historical roots – entrenched in Jewish consciousness and borne out by archaeological proof – in their slanderous tours of the city. Apparently, they believe that the Jews and the world have forgotten history, and so they promote a false narrative depicting Jews as foreigners and as occupiers of their own country.”

Fleisher expressed his hope that the Im Tirtzu tours will help “thousands of students to learn the historical truth of Hebron that will strengthen their connection to the city. They will also learn about the heroic spirit of Hebron that is much-needed today. In the end, the program will empower the students, the State of Israel’s presence in Hebron, and the entire Zionist narrative.”

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg has written the leaders of the Jewish Community of Hebron that “Im Tirtzu recognized that radical organizations are trying to harm one of the most important historical locations of the People of Israel. Bringing hundreds and thousands of students to Hebron this year and in upcoming years is the best answer to all those who are trying to rewrite the history of Israel.”

“These tours,” Peleg continued, “will ensure that the historical connection to Hebron will be passed on to the next generation of Israelis who will see with their own eyes what’s happening in the city and will learn about the lies perpetrated by radical organizations.”

Peleg expressed his commitment that Im Tirtzu would help keep Hebron at the heart of the Israeli consensus “despite the efforts of foreign-agent organizations.” Noting that Jewish history in Israel began in Hebron, with the purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs some 3,500 years ago, Peleg promised that Im Tirtzu would help “the future of Israel continue to prosper in Hebron.”


#Pyroterorism on Israelis’ Minds as Fires Continue to Rage, Thousands Evacuated

Friday, November 25th, 2016

On the fourth day of blazing fires throughout Israel, new eruptions are being reported in the north and in the Jerusalem area. Overnight between Thursday and Friday, Beit Meir, a religious moshav in the Jerusalem hills, some nine miles from Jerusalem, just off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway 1, was evacuated due to a forest fire nearby. 25 firefighting crews with 60 firemen are in the area, struggling to prevent the fire from reaching local homes. Some of the homes have caught fire, though, and sustained damage.

When the Beit Meir locals initially reported the fire, they also reported seeing several suspicious looking people running away and police launched a manhunt. Shortly thereafter one man suspected of involvement with setting the fire was arrested.

Fire investigators are already working in various scenes even as the fires continue to rage, seeking clues to help figure out if a particular fire was started due to negligence or arson. According to Fire Commander Ran Shelef, Head of the Investigations Department in the National Fire and Rescue Authority, the difficulty in establishing whether a fire was set deliberately has to do with the fact that in arson cases the fire destroys most of the evidence. In Haifa, on Thursday, for instance, investigators were certain that at least some of the fires were the result of arson, but they failed to come up with conclusive evidence.

The primary goal in an arson investigation is to locate the origin of the fire, Shelef told Ha’aretz. “In a four to five room apartment you need to reach the one room where the fire started and examine the evidence regarding the cause of the fire.” In an open field this task is much harder, Shelef explained. “The topography is of no help to us, and some of the vegetation is gone. What’s even more difficult to establish are the circumstances – one little match and you got yourself a blaze. You don’t need accelerators, an ignition device or any other special apparatus.”

One of the key clues in such cases, according to Shelef, would be discovering more than one starting point for the fire. “Two starting points that cannot be explained,” he said, would be a dead giveaway for arson.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited Haifa to support and thank the hundreds of firefighters who are still fighting the blazes in city neighborhoods that had seen some 65 thousand residents evacuated, also discussed pyroterorism. “Any fire that’s caused by arson, and by incitement to arson – is terrorism for all intent and purposes, and we will deal with it accordingly,” Netanyahu said. “This is my directive to the security forces, police, the GSS, and the IDF: we will repay every act of lawlessness. Anyone who will try or has tried to burn down parts of the State of Israel will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

In Beit Meir, Jerusalem District Police Commander, Major General Yoram Halevy, told reporters that “evaluations, the quick arrival of rescue and police forces and an effective deployment of the forces prevented an incident where many could have been hurt. The fire spread at a very fast pace and reached some homes. In a very short time, all the residents were evacuated and we scanned for some who may have been left behind. At this point we have control over the fire and the efforts to put out the fire will continue. Our mission is to allow residents to return to their homes as soon as possible.”

“At this point a suspect has been arrested and taken for an interrogation,” Halevy reported.

David Israel

Amos Oz: Israelis Abroad Feel Better Because of ‘Breaking the Silence’

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Author Amos Oz said that one of the things that allow Israelis to feel good about themselves outside Israel are organizations such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, and Peace Now. According to Oz, those who throw rocks at Breaking the Silence are the heirs of those who threw rocks at the prophets of Israel in biblical times. Oz spoke at an unofficial Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, ceremony that awarded a prize to Breaking the Silence.

When University President Prof. Rivka Carmi decided in June to cancel giving the Berelson Yitzhak Rabin Award for increasing the understanding between Jews and Arabs award to the controversial group, the general consensus in Israel was that Breaking the Silence had lost its legitimacy and credibility because it transformed from being invested in airing and fixing irregularities committed by the IDF to becoming yet another force attacking Israel in the foreign media. It also no longer provided the IDF with the evidence it collected, relying strictly on anonymous testimonies.

According to NGO Monitor, Breaking the Silence receives around $1 million annually in donations from Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Christian Aid (UK), Switzerland, France, CCFD (France), Medico International (Germany), Misereor (Germany), AECID (Spain), EU, ICCO (Netherlands), Norway, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Open Society Institute, and the New Israel Fund.

The group’s literature and videos have been cited numerous times by groups and individuals supporting the BDS movement and perpetrating on-campus anti-Israeli activities in Europe and the US.

A group of university lecturer on Monday gave Breaking the Silence its own crowd-funded award of roughly $5,000, in a ceremony that was conducted under heavy security in a school auditorium. A group of students who protested the award, citing a 500-name petition signed by their peers, were asked to leave. Amos Oz, the keynote speaker, said, “I ask myself why such organizations raise such hostility in so many people,” and mused that “people want to feel good, and Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem don’t let them feel good.”

Oz then compared these groups with other historical groups who were called traitors only to turn up as humanity’s guides. “Even Herzl, who said ‘If you will it, it would not be a fairytale,’ was called a traitor,” Oz said, declaring: “When I’m called a traitor, I pick it off the floor and wear it on my lapel with honor.”

One of the students protesting outside the award ceremony said, “There’s a huge difference between criticism and slandering and delegitimizing Israel around the world.” He told Walla that to give an award to Breaking the Silence is “an illogical act of madness.”


Trump to Israelis: Together We’ll Stand Up to Iran [video]

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

A taped one-minute address by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, screened at an election rally organized by Republicans Overseas Israel in Jerusalem Wednesday, left no room for doubt: should he be elected, Trump would be the biggest friend Israel has ever had — huge.

“My administration will stand side by side with the Jewish people and Israel’s leaders to continue strengthening the bridges that connect not only Jewish Americans and Israelis but also all Americans and Israelis,” Trump told the 200 or so in attendance at the event and the few dozens watching the rally live on Facebook. “Together, we will stand up to enemies like Iran bent on destroying Israel and her people. Together, we will make America and Israel safe again.”

It was a small crowd, admittedly, but the folks, many in Trump T-shirts and “Make America Great Again” baseball caps, made up for their number with enthusiasm, booing and crying “Lock her up” each time the name Hillary Clinton was mentioned.

“I love Israel and honor and respect the Jewish faith and tradition,” Trump told his Israeli-American voters. “For me, respect and reverence for Judaism is personal. My daughter Ivanka and my son-in-law Jared are raising their children in the Jewish faith.”

Trump’s VP, Gov. Mike Pence, told the Jerusalem rally: “Israel’s fight is our fight, Israel’s cause is our cause,” noting that Israel is “not just our strongest ally in the Middle East, it is our most cherished ally in the world.” Also, Pence said, Israel is “hated by too many progressives, because she is successful and her people are free,” and so, “Let the word go forth that Donald Trump and I are proud to stand with Israel.”

Local speakers included Caroline Glick, Trump’s adviser on Israel David Friedman, and David Peyman, Trump’s head of Jewish outreach, who told the gathering that he had delivered a note from Trump to God at the Kotel. Friedman promised that “a Trump administration will never pressure Israel into a two-state solution or any other solution that is against the will of the Israeli people.” Friedman warned against the seductive messages Trump’s opponent had given the AIPAC conference in March, saying “Hillary Clinton’s words are the cheapest currency on the political marker.”

According to media reports over the summer, Friedman and Trump’s other adviser on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, suggested the candidate stop elaborating on his vision of two states for two peoples living peacefully side by side. This after Trump had told Maggie Haberman and David E. Sanger of the NY Times in March: “Basically I support a two-state solution on Israel. But the Palestinian Authority has to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Have to do that. And they have to stop the terror, stop the attacks, stop the teaching of hatred, you know? The children, I sort of talked about it pretty much in the speech, but the children are aspiring to grow up to be terrorists. They are taught to grow up to be terrorists. And they have to stop. They have to stop the terror. They have to stop the stabbings and all of the things going on. And they have to recognize that Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. … And if they can’t, you’re never going to make a deal. One state, two states, it doesn’t matter: you’re never going to be able to make a deal.”

Trump concluded: “Now whether or not the Palestinians can live with that? You would think they could. It shouldn’t be hard except that the ingrained hatred is tremendous.”


Do Israelis Fear Trump?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

When it comes to Israel, we know the majority of American Jews are not one-issue voters. But the assumption is that Israelis view American elections solely through the prism of their own security. That’s why a new poll from the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University showing that a large majority of Israelis think Hillary Clinton will apply greater pressure on their country to do things they don’t like than Donald Trump would. Yet the same poll also shows that a sizeable plurality would prefer she be elected.

The poll shows that 57.2 percent of Israelis said Clinton would pressure Israel more and were split as to which candidate would be “preferable from Israel’s perspective with 34.5 percent giving the Democrat the nod while 34.3 said it was Trump. Yet they favored Clinton over Trump by a 41.8 to 24.3 percent margin. This seemingly contradictory result isn’t solely the function of Israelis sharing the negative view of Trump’s misogyny, nativism and the influence of the Breitbart.com alt-right within his campaign that colors the attitudes toward the billionaire on the part of liberal American Jews. Though it’s likely that many Israelis are also appalled by his rhetoric, it’s not clear that cultural issues are driving opinion in the Jewish state. The assumption on the part of Republican Jews is that a Clinton victory would be a third term for President Obama, who has been consistently viewed with distrust, if not hostility, by the majority of Israelis for the last eight years. Clinton was Obama’s first secretary of state and spoke of being the “designated yeller” at Prime Minister Netanyahu in a series of fights with Israel that were ginned up by the administration specifically in order to create more “daylight” between the two allies. While her husband was very popular in Israel, Hillary can’t count on the memory of Bill Clinton’s ability to share the pain of Israelis such as his moving “Shalom chaver” tribute to Yitzhak Rabin. Clinton’s defense of the Iran nuclear deal is another strike against her.

This contradiction can be partly explained by the fact that many, if not most Israelis agree with Clinton’s statement (discovered in the Wikileaks document dump) that even the pretense of a peace process with the Palestinians is better than nothing. The poll shows they’d like their government to keep trying to talk with the Palestinians — as Netanyahu has done with his repeated invitations to Abbas to return to direct negotiations — even if they have very little confidence that anything will come of it.

But the reluctance to embrace Trump has to frustrate those Republicans who point to his statements saying he would not pressure Israel, would recognize Jerusalem as its capital, and see him as a rejection of Obama, whose threats to betray Israel at the United Nations after the election have Jerusalem worried.

The problem for Trump is that his unpredictable nature has convinced many in Israel that he can’t be trusted to maintain the alliance. This goes beyond various statements in which at times he has said he would be “neutral” between Israel and the Palestinians. The contradictions in Trump’s foreign policy statements and clearly don’t count on him keeping faith with them in a way he won’t with other U.S. allies.

On Iran, which is Clinton’s weak point on Israel, Trump also has problems. Though he is in accord with most Israelis on the Iran deal, they have noticed that he is also willing to approve of Tehran’s involvement in Syria. There’s no way Trump can crack down on Iran on the nuclear question while viewing it as an ally against ISIS and no guarantee that he won’t wind up thinking he can do business with the Islamist government.

More to the point, Trump’s isolationist tendencies would seem to work against the idea that he would be helpful to Israel. Obama’s determination to abandon the Middle East to Russia and Iran already has some Arab nations scared enough to tentatively embrace Israel. If Trump acts on his isolationist views it might produce problems as great as those created by Obama’s lead from behind strategy.

But the bottom line is that many Israelis may prefer the devil they know in the person of Clinton to a leap into the unknown with Trump. They understand where Clinton stands and what they can expect, both good and bad, with her. But Trump’s unpredictability reads like a recipe for instability to Israelis. The leaks that assert that Netanyahu views Clinton as “more instinctively sympathetic to Israel” than Obama may be not so much as an effort to ingratiate the prime minister with the likely winner as a sincere evaluation of the possibility that Clinton may not prove nearly as hostile as the incumbent.

Other than those Americans who maintain dual citizenship, Israelis can’t vote for president of the United States. But it appears that at least with respect to attitudes toward Trump, most American and Israeli Jews may be in accord.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Poll: Israelis More Troubled by Cost of Living than War

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

For openers, according to the new survey conducted by Prof. Camil Fuchs on behalf of Walla, with a representative sample of 646 respondents, (542 Jews, 104 Arabs), 56% of the respondents consider the life in Israel to be very good, on the eve of the new year 5777. 40% said it was “mediocre,” and only one percent said their life was “very bad.” The Jewish and Arab data on this question are very similar.

Nevertheless, despite this rosy picture, 23% of the Jewish respondents have considered leaving the country, compared with 77% who said they did not entertain this option. Only 13% of the Arab respondents admitted that they weighed the possibility of immigrating.

The new survey reveals a new trend in the Israeli public — despite the “wave of terror” that began a little over a year ago, only 24% of Israelis agree that security is the most serious problem faced by the country. 36% suggested the cost of living was more worrisome, and 17% believe political corruption is Israel’s biggest problem.

Israelis do not view peace with the Arabs in the PA or in Gaza as a realistic possibility. 64% believe there will never be peace between Israel and the Arabs of Judea and Samaria or Gaza, and the 24% who say it could happen do not expect it in the next five years. A mere 4% say peace is around the corner, and will be here in less than five years.

When asked who are the highest functioning public servants today, the respondents came up  with the following top 10 list (10 points being the best, 0 the worst):

1. Health Minister Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) — 6.71

2. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot — 6.7

3. President Reuven Rivlin — 6.2

4. Justice Minister (and JNi’s Woman of the Year) Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) — 5.9

5. Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich — 5.8

6. Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett — 5.7

7. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) — 5.4

8. Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) — 5.3

8. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) — 5.3

10. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) — 5.2

Among the Arab respondents, MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List) received the highest score, 7.7, ahead of his Knesset faction’s Chairman Ayman Odeh who scored 7.1.


Israelis Ignore Warnings, Flock to Turkey for High Holiday Vacation

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Despite warnings by the counter-terrorism center against travel to dangerous Middle east destinations, Israelis this Rosh Hashanah are flocking to the clear blue waters of southern Turkey. Search indicators of the tourism website HotelsCombined show a 40% rise in searches from Israel for hotels in Turkey, again, despite specific warnings against going to Turkey this season. The demand is greatest for the coastal cities along Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore: Antalya, Belek and Alanya, but demand for Istanbul vacations has also gone up by 30% compared with last year.

Israelis are taking warnings regarding Egyptian vacations more seriously, and while Israeli demand for Cairo hotels is up, requests for the Sharm Al Sheikh hotels at the southernmost tip of the Sinai peninsula have dropped by 22% compared with a year ago.

HotelsCombined CEO Eyal Segal says the sharp rise in Israeli demand for Turkish vacations is the result of an increase in the number of flights between Israel and Turkey, the thawing in the relationship between the two countries, and the reduced hotel prices in Turkey, just in time for the Jewish holidays.

“Israeli tourists by now have figured that every place is dangerous, which is why eco

nomic considerations overcome security concerns, and the average Israeli is not quick to panic about a flight to a country about which there have been warnings,” Segal said, noting that “regarding the Sinai, there we see a greater adherence to the warnings because tourists stand out and can be easily marked in the desert, as opposed to the big cities where they feel that the disappear in the crowd.”


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israelis-ignore-warnings-flock-to-turkey-for-high-holiday-vacation/2016/09/27/

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