Twenty-two parliamentarians from 18 countries around the world are in Jerusalem for the annual Israel Allies Foundation conference in Jerusalem and will focus on attacking the Boycott Israel (BDS) movement.
They also will discuss the threat of a nuclear Iran on Israel and the Western world, and Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.
The three-day conference starts on Tuesday and is sponsored by the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). Represented countries are Britain, Italy, Slovakia, Holland, Greece, Hungary, Czech Republic, Greece, Finland, Canada, South Africa, Uganda, Guatemala, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.
President Reuven Rivlin, several Knesset Members and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will address the visitors on Tuesday.
They will tour Judea and Samaria on Wednesday, including the Rami Levi supermarket between Jerusalem and the communities of Beit El and Ofra. Arabs who work with Jews in the market will speak with the delegation.
The group also will visit Bat Galim Shaer, the mother of one of the boys kidnapped and murdered by Hamas last summer.
On Thursday, the parliamentarians will draft and sign a resolution declaring their support for Israel and vowing to take a stance against racist, anti-Israel movements such as BDS.
The Palestinian Authority now owes the Israel Electric Corporation $400 million (1.7 billion. shekels) despite the trumpeted agreement nearly a year ago in which Israel resumed transferring tax collection revenues to the PA for the umpteenth time.
The debt-ridden regime in Ramallah supposedly would use some of the money to cut the debt for electricity, but Israel Electric CEO Ron Tal says the debt has grown to an “insane” amount.
He wants to start cutting the power to the Palestinian Authority, but that is unlikely to happen because the world would start screaming, “War Crime! War Crime.”
In the United States, and elsewhere, if someone does not pay for water or electricity, the municipality or utility company pulls the plug, without being charged with a war crime.
But there is hope, sort of.
The World Bank has announced it is transferring another $25 million to the Palestinian Authority from its “Palestinian Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund” that the Bank manages to support the PA budget.
The World Bank stated:
The funds contributed by the governments of Norway and the United Kingdom will help support the urgent budget needs of the Palestinian Authority (PA), providing inter alia support for ongoing macroeconomic and public financial management reforms.
Since the fund was established in 2008, the World Bank has turned over to the Palestinian Authority a staggering $1.38 billion.
The World Bank statement did not mention anything about what reforms, if any, the Palestinian Authority has carried out, and instead it said the PA economy is suffering from a lack of foreign aid.
Off to the rescue is Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who will travel to New York this month for one of the Palestinian Authority’s favorite events, a donor’s meeting at which countries pledged billions of dollars for Ramallah.
Most of the pledges, especially from Arab countries, remain as pledges, just as the debt to the Israel Electric Corp. remains a debt.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is calling on the United Stated to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the United States, according to the Huffington Post.
Durbin wants to see the US bringing in 100,000 Syrian refugees, in the next fiscal year.
He had previously suggested the US bring in 65,000 Syrian refugees.
Just recently, Lebanon’s Education Minister Elias Bou Saab warned UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron that he believes that two percent of the refugees entering Europe are Jihadist members of ISIS.
Cameron was visiting Lebanon to review the refugee situation over there first hand, pledging that the UK would donate an additional $92.6 million (60 million pounds) to Lebanon to assist with the Syrian refugees in their borders.
Saab said he based his number on what they found among the refugees located in Lebanon.
The UN Refugee Agency disagrees with Saab, and said such claims are both unprovable and unhelpful to the refugees, according to a report in the UK Independent.
On Monday, the British government appointed a special minister to deal with the arrival of 20,000 more Syrian refugees that the UK has agreed to accept, according to a report in Lebanon’s Daily Star. The UK has already absorbed 5000 Syrian refugees since 2011.
Back in the US, Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is unhappy with any ideas to resettle Syrian refugees in the US, due to the Jihadi risks.
Certainly, if Saab’s numbers are right, then Senator Durbin’s humanitarian proposal could unintentionally bring in thousands of ISIS terrorists onto US soil.
Huckabee proposed a very different solution to the Syrian refugee crisis, according to the Washington Post:
“I just read that Saudi Arabia has offered to build 600 mosques for all of the Muslims that will come to the U.S. or to Europe,” he said. “I’ve got a better idea: Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia host them, and we will send some assistance through our charitable organizations for some hospitals and schools? We will design the curriculum for those schools. They won’t be madrassas to teach terrorism.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu underlined his “unconditional readiness” to resume talks with the Palestinian Authority today (Thursday, Sept. 10) in London with his British counterpart, Prime Minister David Cameron.
Speaking to reporters prior to their meeting, Netanyahu said, “I want to say here, at 10 Downing that I am ready to resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians with no conditions whatsoever to entering negotiations, and I am willing to do it immediately.”
Cameron added in his remarks that Britain “remains staunch in our defense of Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself.”
There have been scattered pro-Palestinian and BDS (boycott, divest and sanctions) demonstrations in the area where meetings are taking place. However, security personnel are ensuring the protesters are kept far from the Israeli officials and their staff members.
Netanyahu and his wife Sarah arrived Wednesday for a two-day visit. Wednesday evening the Israeli prime minister met with British Jewish leaders and told them to avoid being apologetic when defending Israeli actions.
“This is an important struggle for public opinion and it has to be done with determination while saying in a clear voice that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and is standing at the front in the struggle against radical Islam,” he said.
Netanyahu noted at the outset of his meeting with Cameron that the Middle East is “disintegrating” in the face of radical Islam. The prime minister pointed to the damage being spread by Shi’ite Islam embodied by Iran and the Sunni extremism of Da’esh (ISIS), and said he wanted to discuss with Cameron ways to “roll back the tide of militant Islam both in the Middle East and North Africa.”
A third issue he wanted to raise with Cameron, he said, was the progress being made in Israeli and British centers of technology, and exploring what might be accomplished in various technologies by working together.
Immigration to Israel is up 13% compared with last year, with most of the rise from France and Ukraine among 97 countries whose citizens made Aliyah.
Approximately 3,600 Jews from North American have moved to Israel since last Rosh HaShanah, approximately the same number as the year before,
In the past 12 months, 29,500 Jews made Aliyah, compared with 26,000 in the Hebrew calendar year of 5774.
Most of this year’s immigrants came from the former Soviet Union – 14,100, compared with 10,800 last year – and from Europe, from where approximately 9,000 people came on Aliyah, 600 more than the previous year.
There was a modest increase in Aliyah from South America.
The two largest sources of Aliyah were France, with 7,350 immigrants compared with 6,700 in 5774, a 10% increase), and Ukraine, with 6,900 immigrants compared to 4,600 last year, a 50% increase.
The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption have been running programs in both countries in order to encourage Aliyah and remove barriers to the immigrants’ integration in Israeli society. Aliyah from Russia also saw a significant 23% increase with the arrival of some 5,900 immigrants this year compared to 4,800 in 5774.
Also in Europe, some 690 immigrants arrived in Israel from the United Kingdom, a 13% increase when compared with the 612 who came last year. Some 400 arrived from Italy, a 30% increase, compared with 300 last year, and 290 came from Belgium, similar to last year’s figure.
Immigrants to Israel came from 97 countries across the world. One immigrant each came from Andorra, Angola, Namibia, Paraguay, the Philippines, and Slovakia.
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said:
For the past few years, the majority of immigrants to Israel have been coming from free and democratic Western countries. These immigrants’ free choice to live in Israel, and their preference for Israel over other countries, is the true triumph of Zionism.
Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Ze’ev Elkin estimated that Aliyah in the civilian calendar year of 2015 will be the highest in a decade, with 30,000-35,000 new immigrants expected.
Thousands of the new “olim” are young college graduates in engineering and technology, and more than 1,000 are doctors and other medical professionals.
The three most popular destinations in Israel were Tel Aviv-Yafo, which welcomed some 3,500 new immigrants, the coastal city of Netanya with 3,400, and Jerusalem, which some 3,000 new immigrants made their home in 5775.
A British Member of Parliament has accused Britain of supporting an “aggressive” Iranian regime “at the expense of our long-term allies in the region” following the British reopening of its embassy in Tehran.
Conservative MP Guto Bebb told Tazpit that UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond’s hopes for Iran as a reformable regime are “misguided” and also warned that the agreement will spawn a nuclear arms race.
The Aberconwy MP, who called for a parliamentary debate in June to discuss the Iranian nuclear deal then under discussion, added that the latitude given to the Iranian government would have been unacceptable to the UK government a year ago.
Bebb stated that he advocated the continuation of sanctions which he said were proving to be effective measures against Iranian aggression.
Rejecting Philip Hammond’s parliamentary remarks that the deal represented a victory for diplomacy and assurances to Prime Minister Netanyahu in July that it removes the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, Bebb told Tazpit that he is amazed “that the Foreign Secretary seems to consider this a success story; his predecessor Liam Fox considers this to be completely unacceptable.”
He predicted that the deal will likely result in a nuclear arms race in the region beginning with Saudi Arabia. Recounting meetings with representatives of British allies in the region, Bebb claimed that they had all expressed concern for any deal which provides Iran with too much flexibility.
While expressing his concern for Israel’s security, Bebb insisted that fears of a nuclear arms race were not restricted to Israel and that the debate he called “was not an issue for Israel alone.”
Addressing Israel, the MP told Tazpit that it is important to “understand the difference between a peaceful and democratic state that is trying to live within its own borders and Iran that will use its nuclear capacity to dominate the Middle East.”
In July 2014, the British Conservative Friends of Israel, of which Bebb is a member, issued a statement decrying the economic sanctions relief which, they said will serve to embolden terror groups funded by Iran.
Radiocarbon dating on the parchment of what is believed to be the world’s oldest Qur’an may totally change the course of Islamic history.
University of Oxford scientists tested in July a fragment of a Qur’an that may pre-date the birth of the prophet Mohammed.
The Islamic text, which consists of two parchment leaves, contains parts of Suras (chapters) 18 to 20. It was written with ink in Hijazi, an early form of Arabic script.
The text, written on sheep or goat skin parchment, lay unrecognized in the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham, England for nearly 100 years, according to The Independent. The parchment was part of the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern documents gathered in the 1920s, and is believed to be the oldest in the world.
If the Oxford University testing is correct, the text could predate the birth of Mohammed, or could have been written during the prophet’s childhood.
Radiocarbon dating performed in July by the University of Birmingham indicated the parchment was at least 1,370.
But radiocarbon testing performed by Oxford University produced different results, dating the text back farther, to between 1, 371 and 1,448 years ago. Scholars have been careful to point out that the ink was not tested.
If the latter findings are correct, this Qur’an was written between 568 CE and 645 CE.
Islam’s prophet Mohammed is believed to have lived between 570 CE and 632 CE.
“It destabilizes, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Qur’an emerged – and that in turn has implications for the history of Mohammed and the Companions,” historian Tom Holland, told The Times of London on Tuesday.
His colleague at Oxford University, Dr. Keith Small, said it also “gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Qur’an’s genesis, like that Mohammed and his early followers used a text already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda.”
Professor David Thomas of Birmingham University, a professor of Islam and Christianity, told The Independent, however, the radiocarbon dating seems to “support a traditional view.”
Thomas noted the testing also reveals which kind of animal was used to create the parchment. This indicates which animal was sacrificed for the holy task, and therefore at which period it was written.
According to Islamic tradition, the prophet continued to receive revelations from the year 610 until his death. “If we were to take the early dating [as fact] then it overthrows Islamic history as it is understood,” the professor said.
“It would mean that the Qur’an existed substantially as it has been passed down, before Mohammed – before the traditional date of the beginnings of his revelations, or maybe even before he was born.”
“On one of the four surfaces of our fragments we have a chapter division, which would seem to suggest that we we have was once a fully-formed Qur’an, possibly as early as the sixth century,” Thomas said.
“In the middle of the seventh century there was a great expansion out of Arabian peninsula, and while there were a number of factors involved it is often explained at least in part as a religious movement.
“If that is the case, why would there be such a time lapse between a religious text coming into being in, say, 570, and a movement 60 years later? It doesn’t add up.”
The Birmingham manuscript will go on public display at the university exclusively to ticket-holders for a month in October, with plans for an academic workshop to discuss questions over the text.