While the man who was condemned as Vladimir Putin puppet is getting ready to change the drapes in the Oval Office, and considering as his Secretary of State ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson – whom Putin awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship, Israel, too, appears to bask these days in the Kremlin’s new, sunny sphere of friendly smiles and sunshine.
Relations between Russia and Israel are at their highest point ever, President Putin Envoy to the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said at “The 10th Convent of RISA (Russian International Studies Association): 25 years of Russia’s Foreign Policy,” a conference hosted this week by the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, TASS reported.
According to Bogdanov, President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold regular telephone conversations. “This year bilateral contacts have been unprecedentedly intense,” Bogdanov told the conference.
“Russia’s leadership places great importance on boosting trade, economic and investment cooperation with Israel,” Bogdanov continued, noting, however, that “unfortunately, turnover statistics are a bit disappointing, though Israel remains one of Russia’s biggest economic partners in the region.”
According to Bogdanov, “Given the unfavorable global economic situation and the strength of the US dollar compared with the Russian ruble, in 2015 our turnover (sales) with Israel dropped by 31% to $2.3 billion. At the same time, we have been constantly working to restore turnover to its previous level.”
Bodganov stated that “it is no exaggeration to say that relations between Russia and Israel are now at their highest point ever.”
According to Anna Borshchevskaya, a Fellow at The Washington Institute, Putin pursued improved ties with Israel since he came into office in March of 2000, and the two countries have significantly improved relations on a number of fronts. “Russian and Israeli officials hold meetings and telephone conversations on a regular basis and maintain multiple open channels of communication,” she wrote in 2015. “The two countries have an agreement on visa-free tourist travel for their citizens. Israel is home to over a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union, which bolsters Russia’s ties to Israel. Russian is the third most popular language in Israel after Hebrew and English. Economic relations between the two countries have especially improved, exceeding $3 billion in 2014, a figure slightly higher than Russia’s trade with Egypt the same year. Military relations improved as well, [so much so that] in late 2015, according to press reports, Israel sold ten search drones to Russia, despite Israel’s concerns about Russia’s military and political ties to Iran.”
Для жизни (Google Translate says it means L’chayim).
Rabbi Adin (Even Yisrael) Steinsaltz, 79, was rushed to Sha’are Zedek Medical Center on Wednesday after he suffered a possible stroke.
The Israel Prize-winning Torah scholar underwent a catheterization procedure to remove a cranial blood clot. He is reportedly awake and responsive to his surroundings in the intensive care unit at the hospital.
Born in Jerusalem in 1937, Rabbi Steinsaltz is known to Jews around the world as a teacher, philosopher, social commentator, and spiritual mentor.
He was referred to by TIME magazine as a “once-in-a-millennium scholar,” who has devoted his life to making the Talmud accessible to all Jews, in The Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud and a simpler book called, “The Essential Talmud.”
The rabbi authored many other volumes, including: “The Thirteen-Petaled Rose,” a discourse about Jewish existence and belief, “We Jews,” “My Rebbe,” and “A Guide to Jewish Prayer.”
The family has asked the public to please pray for the recovery of Rabbi Adin ben Rivka Leah.
In a large-scale dragnet Police and Border Guard forces on Monday morning arrested six eastern Jerusalem Arab suspected of incitement to violence and terrorism using social networks. The suspects have been taken for interrogations aimed at examining their possible ties with terrorist organizations.
According to the investigation, the suspects have disseminated over the past few months, through their Facebook and Instagram pages, content that was inciting and encouraged acts of violence and terrorism. Those posts were followed by thousands of users who supported their messages.
Furnished with arrest and search warrants issued by Jerusalem Magistrate Court, Police confiscated the suspects’ personal computers, mobile devices, and removable media.
The investigation has been supervised from its inception by the State Prosecution and the Jerusalem District Prosecution.
The Police spokesperson’s office issued a statement saying, “This operation continues the ongoing police activities in its determined effort against incitement to violence and terrorism on the social networks. These violations are potentially highly dangerous by definition. Police will continue its professional, dedicated and uncompromising action against inciters and will treat them firmly.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looked tired Sunday afternoon (Dec. 4) as he sat down with lead columnist Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic to address an Israeli-American audience at The Saban Forum in Washington, D.C.
Israel, he said, “is moving in the wrong direction.”
The United States, meanwhile, has “never ever shied away from vetoing a resolution or standing up against an unfair and biased resolution at the UN, at the Human Rights Council, at UNESCO, you name it!” Ever a loyal ally, America stands strong for Israel — but there is “no status quo” and as a friend who feels “genuinely passionate about Israel,” John Kerry felt duty bound to try to help Israelis correct course if possible.
The Secretary begin speaking at the time stamp 44:08.
“I have to share with you facts,” Kerry told the participants, after running down the list of benefits Israel had enjoyed under the administration of President Barack Obama. “I come to you as somebody who is concerned for the safety and the security of the State of Israel, for the long-term ability of the State of Israel to be able to be what it has dreamt of being, and what the people of Israel, I believe, want it to be.”
Apparently, Israel’s electoral process, its legislative branch via the Knesset, its parliament, and its judiciary via the High Court of Justice and its Supreme Court, apparently aren’t relevant as a reflection of that desire.
“I’m here as someone defending Israel’s need for security,” Kerry went on, adding, “The questions I raise about Israel are not because I don’t care about Israel, but because we do care,” suddenly switching to the magisterial “we” form.
“It’s because we want to be able to see this thing develop into the full-blossomed beacon that Israel has the potential of being,” he continued, listing the numerous fields in which Israel is leading the way, such as agriculture, technology and finance, pointing out how Israel could be “sharing with Egypt, with Jordan… (could it be that Mr. Secretary has forgotten Israel has peace treaties and natural resource agreements with both of these nations?) … with the Emirates, with Saudi Arabia, with all of these countries.”
But, he said, the issue is: “Where are we going?
“Let me tell you,” he warned, “There.will.be.no.separate.peace.between.Israel.and.the.Arab.world.
“I want to make that very clear to all of you,” he emphasized. “The Arab world is in a very different place now. There will be no advance and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and without the Palestinian peace. Everybody needs to understand that. That is a hard reality.
“There is a basic choice that has to be made by Israel. Are there going to be continued settlements.. or is there going to be separate and the creation of two states?”
Kerry began a long discussion about the Oslo Accords, explaining their origin and sketching out a quick review of their progress and what he believes was the outcome. But the Secretary skipped over some parts, mixed up the timeline and didn’t mention all the terror attacks and violations by the Palestinian Authority that led to the Oslo Accords never quite being carried out the way the script was originally written.
“Now, when Oslo was signed in 1993, … there were 110,000 settlers in the West Bank. Today there are 385,000 settlers… about 90,000 settlers living outside of the barrier, and the barrier, I want to remind everyone here, was established by Israel. It’s a line — not a border, but still a line, established by Israel. There are 129 settlements, and there are about 100 outposts, and outposts, as you all know, are illegal,” Kerry said, his voice beginning to rise with outrage.
“Many of these outposts are built on what is considered to be private Palestinian land,” he stated, without offering a shred of proof, documentation, or even one source for the claim.
“Since Obama became president, the population outside of the barrier in the West Bank has increased by 20,000 people,” he said.
“Leaders, again, in Israel — certain leaders — are fond of saying, “well, the settlements aren’t the reason and the cause for the crisis. No, they’re not. I’m not pretending they are. I’m not here to tell you that the settlements are the reason for the conflict. No, they’re not. But I also cannot accept the notion that they do not affect the peace process. That they aren’t a barrier to the capacity to have peace.
“And I’ll tell you why I know that. Because the Left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace and the Right that supports it, openly supports it, because they don’t want peace.
“They believe it’s the greater Israel. They are pursuing a policy of Greater Judea – Samaria, building out into the West Bank, because they believe it belongs to them, and they want it to block the peace!
“Because they want those places to belong to Israel. That’s the history of the settler movement, my friends.
“Out of the mouths of ministers in the current government come profoundly disturbing statements publicly, to whit: Naftali Bennett, said a few days ago, weeks ago, This represents the end of the era of the two-state solution. And, more than 50 percent of the ministers in the current government have publicly stated they are opposed to a Palestinian state, and there will be no Palestinian state.
“So this is the predicament. This is where we find ourselves… Let me give you the alternatives here, folks.
“What is your vision of a unitary state?
“Are you going to run the schools? Are you going to continue to have these roads that are completely checkpointed and blocked that lead to this little island all by itself of the settlement? And the Palestinians are going to live over here? (With this, the Secretary swept his hand over to the other side, a gesture to show isolation; a gesture that showed his frustration and angst.)
“Are they going to vote? And if they’re a majority of the population, are they going to have a Palestinian prime minister of Israel?
“Is it going to be a Jewish State?” Kerry asked. He sounded close to despair.
It’s a new week in the Holy Land but some things are still around, like attacks on the roads of Judea, Samaria, the Binyamin region, Gush Etzion, mixed neighborhoods in Jerusalem and the like.
Early Sunday afternoon in the Binyamin region, local sources reported a stoning attack near the junction leading to the Arab town of Hizme. The attackers were hurling rocks at Israeli forces stationed at the site. No physical injuries were reported. All personnel returned safely to base.
Late in the day, around dusk, Arab terrorists firebombed the western side of the security fence around the Jewish community of Kiryat Netafim, igniting a fire in the process. Security personnel were able to extinguish the blaze, and IDF forces searched for the attackers.
At about the same time, other Arab attackers hurled rocks at Israeli drivers traveling on the highway between the Jewish communities of Psagot and Kochav Ya’akov. No one was physically injured but at least one vehicle was damaged. Israeli security forces were deployed to the site.
Jerusalem of Gold became Jerusalem of Dark on Thursday night when the season’s first winter storm snapped trees and brought down power lines in the capital city, leaving residents to cope with increasing cold weather on their own.
Winds of at least 40 kilometers per hour (25 miles per hour) and driving rain came down in sheets, causing local flooding and loosening up the root systems of old bushes and trees.
A number of parked cars in the city were damaged by falling trees, and several neighborhoods in Jerusalem lost power for varying periods of time as well.