CALM BEFORE THE STORM ALONG THE GAZA BORDER?

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Hamas and Israel both say they don’t want another war, but are ready for one.

A day after a large-scale Israeli retaliation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip gives a sort of misleading image of calm in southern Israel.

That same feeling of calm was also apparent shortly after Israel’s first retaliatory strike late Monday morning. A number of buses had just let out a dozen tourists who had come to the Black Arrow Monument, a memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers of the Paratroop Brigade in the years leading up to the Sinai Campaign of 1956, and which lies just 900 meters from the border with Gaza.

The tourists, who played musical instruments and took selfies with the blooming anemones, paid no attention to the smoke that was rising from the strip. It was indeed the quiet before the storm.

Over the course of the day on Monday, the IDF struck several Hamas targets with air strikes and artillery shells after the launching of a single rocket at southern Israel and later on gunfire targeting Israeli troops working on the border fence. The missile, whose launch was reportedly claimed by a small jihadist group, caused no damage or injuries when it hit in a field near Ashkelon.

Later on Monday evening, the IDF released a statement that the strikes were not only in response to the day’s attacks from Gaza, but also “for acts of aggression which have occurred over the course of the last month.”

Hamas released a statement saying that the terrorist group “holds the Israeli occupation fully accountable for the repercussions of the latest escalation that was launched against the Gaza Strip.”

Israel recently decided to change its policy regarding rocket fire from the Strip, deciding to no longer resort to a limited, measured response. The new policy, which was crafted by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, allows the IDF to strike all Hamas targets, assets and infrastructure in response to any rocket fire from the Strip.

That policy became apparent following the launching of a rocket at the southern town of Sderot in August by an Islamic State-linked Salafist group, when the air force struck Hamas targets 50 times – the most intense Israeli reprisal attack on Gaza since the Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Launches from Gaza in the past year have been infrequent, with fewer than 20 in 2016. Most of them have been claimed by small jihadist groups, many times as a means to pressure Hamas by raising tension between the terrorist organization and Israel. Hamas has cracked down on these small groups, recently carrying out a wave of arrests among Salafi, jihadist, and pro-Islamic State organizations.

Nonetheless, Israel considers Hamas to be responsible for any fire coming from its territory.

Yoram Schweitzer, head of the Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict at the Institute for National Security Studies, told The Jerusalem Post that while Monday’s retaliation was “significant, it was as per IDF considerations.”

Following a rocket strike “there is a scale that Israel determines” in order to assess what is a necessary response,” Schweitzer said, adding that in the August, the IDF may have taken advantage of the incident “to eliminate potential Hamas targets and to send a signal to Hamas.”

Since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has invested a significant amount of money and effort into its military capability.

In the next war, Hamas aims to inflict painful strategic blows on Israel with short- and long-range missiles, by kidnapping and killing Israeli civilians and soldiers via their attack tunnels, to using weaponized drones, infiltrating Israeli territory by the group’s naval commando forces and even cyber warfare against the IDF.

The terrorist group has also been investing in its drone capability.

While Hamas has yet to carry out an attack against Israel with drones, in recent years Hamas drones have sometimes breached Israeli airspace, causing the IDF to scramble jets.

Both the Islamic State group and Hezbollah have used weaponized drones to carry out attacks, and in October 2016 The New York Times reported that the Pentagon was struggling to deal with the aerial threat posed by ISIS. The terrorist group recently posted several pictures with advice on how to weaponize a small quadcopter with Russian-made anti-tank hand grenades, RPO anti-tank rockets and an anti-tank rocket launcher. The terrorists also claim to have used drones to drop explosive devices onto Iraqi and Syrian troops.

It is not hard to imagine that Israel could face a similar threat, as Hamas is reportedly producing drones that can carry explosive devices.

And while Israel has advanced anti-missile systems such as the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow, those systems don’t have 100% accuracy when shooting down small, but potentially dangerous, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can infiltrate Israeli airspace.

Like their attack tunnels, using weaponized drones is “a calculated risk,” Schweitzer said, adding that Hamas “must be very cautious about using this type of weapon.”

According to Schweitzer, “Israel must prepare for this threat, as its enemies will use this advanced technique to attack it.” Nevertheless, if the group does decide to use weaponized drones, “Hamas knows that if they use this, the retaliation will be very deadly, it will be an act of war.”

The group has also constructed military outposts along the border with Israel, patrolling the border area and arresting any individual who tries to cross into Israel. The Jerusalem Post has learned that individuals from Gaza try on an almost daily basis to cross into Israel, with an increase during the winter months, due in part to their desperation to escape the dire economic reality of the Strip.

According to a source in the Gaza Strip, Hamas considers anyone who wants to cross into Israel as suspicious, arresting and subjecting them to hours-long interrogations.

The worsening economic situation in Gaza led to widespread protests in the Strip in January, and while Turkey and Qatar stepped in to avert a crisis, the growing anger of Gaza residents is a ticking time bomb that can explode at any time. When that happens, Hamas may very well instigate a military escalation to deflect that anger toward Israel.

“I cannot say what will be the tipping point for Hamas, but they will be very cautious not to attack Israel,” Schweitzer said, stressing that, “If the group does retaliate, it will be a measured response.”

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

Fordham U. blocks Students for Justice in Palestine chapter

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College bars formation of chapter of anti-Israel group, says singling out single nation not permitted.

Fordham University will not allow students to form a Students for Justice in Palestine group because it does not allow groups that solely promote one country’s interests.

According to a Tuesday statement from Fordham, a Jesuit school in New York City, an SJP group would act more like a political lobby than a traditional campus club.

“Fordham has no registered student clubs the sole focus of which is the political agenda of one nation, against another nation,” the statement read. “The narrowness of Students for Justice in Palestine’s political focus makes it more akin to a lobbying group than a student club. Regardless of the club’s status, students, faculty, and staff are of course free to voice their opinions on Palestine, or any other issue.”

There is also no pro-Israel student group at Fordham. There is a Jewish students’ club, but its description does not mention Israel.

Palestine Legal, a pro-Palestinian legal advocacy group, sent a letter protesting the decision to Fordham President Rev. Joseph M. McShane. The letter says that denial of an SJP chapter could constitute a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.

Fordham’s decision “not only violates the free speech, associational and academic freedom principles to which Fordham claims to adhere, but also raises civil rights concerns,” Palestine Legal’s letter read. “Fordham has betrayed principles of free speech to which it promises to adhere.”

Original Artricle: Arutz Sheva

Trump’s UN ambassador blasts world body’s anti-Israel bias

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Nikki Haley will blast the global body over its treatment of Israel at her Senate confirmation hearing.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, will blast the global body over its treatment of Israel at her Senate confirmation hearing, according to prepared testimony seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

“Nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel,” Haley will say in the opening remarks for her appearance on Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Any honest assessment also finds an institution that is often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers,” the speech says, according to Reuters.

Noting that the United States contributes 22 percent of the UN budget, far more than any other country, Haley’s speech says, “Are we getting what we pay for?”

She also promises to work with U.S. lawmakers to pursue what she described as “seriously needed change” at the United Nations, according to Reuters.

The UN’s anti-Israel bias is well-known and was even acknowledged by its former Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, before he stepped down at the beginning of this month.

Ban also admitted the UN’s anti-Israel bias during a 2013 session with Israeli students, though the comments were not widely reported by Israeli media at the time.

Despite his admission of the bias, the global body just recently passed a series of anti-Israel resolutions during its annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”.

Haley’s hearing comes weeks after the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334 which was critical of Israel’s presence in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Some Republican lawmakers, led by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, have threatened to cut U.S. funding for the UN following the anti-Israel resolution.

Graham and fellow Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas last week introduced a law that would block taxpayer dollars from going toward the UN, in response to Resolution 2334.

Original Article: Artuz Sheva

IDF ARRESTS FORMER PALESTINIAN GOVERNOR AND FATAH LEADER

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Israeli forces reportedly arrest former Tulkarem and Jenin governor, Talal Dweikat, early Wednesday.

The IDF arrested Talal Dweikat, a former Tulkarem and Jenin governor, who also served as a general in the Palestinian Authority intelligence services, early Wednesday morning for allegedly partaking in weapons trade.

“The occupation forces arrested Dweikat after raiding his house and searching his belongings in Askar,” Wafa, the official PA news site, reported.

A Shin Bet spokesman said that Dweikat was arrested “for his involvement in advanced weapons trade,” without elaborating on details.

In addition to Dweikat, the IDF arrested two others in Nablus and raided Dweikat’s brother’s home, Sarhan Dweikat, who also has the rank of general.

Dweikat, who was elected to the Fatah Revolutionary Council in December, formerly served as a head of the PA intelligence services in Nablus in the early 2000s and was appointed as Tulkarem governor in 2006, where he oversaw the rehabilitation of the PA security forces in the aftermath of the second intifada.

In 2012, Dweikat was appointed Jenin governor, serving until 2014 when he accepted a position as an advisor in the PA presidency.

Fatah spokesman Munir Jaghoub responded to Dweikat’s and other Palestinians’ arrests, saying that they confirm Israel’s hostile mentality.

“The Israeli arrests and attacks are intensifying day after day against Fatah’s leadership and cadres all over the homeland, sending a clear message to the Palestinian people and its leadership that the current situation is incredibly difficult and complicated…and that the occupation’s mentality is only that of killing, destruction, arrest, and denying Palestinian rights, requiring all of us to take a serious stand and confront its arrogance,” Jaghoub told Wafa.

The IDF holds that it carries out arrests of suspects, who pose a security threat to Israel.

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

Security cabinet orders arrests, closure of Jerusalem terrorist’s village

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After truck-ramming attack which killed four, police increase presence in Jabel Mukaber, ministers call to destroy family home as soon as possible.

In response to Sunday’s truck-ramming terror attack, the security cabinet decided late Sunday on a series of measures intended to deter new Palestinian attacks.

After convening Sunday night at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, the committee of 10 ministers voted to deny the release of the terrorist’s body to his family, in order to prevent the family from holding a public funeral at which his actions would be celebrated.

Fadi al-Qunbar, 28, a father of four from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, rammed his truck into a group of IDF soldiers touring the Jerusalem’s Haas Promenade in the city’s south.

Among the responses chosen by the ministers, the Qunbar family home will be destroyed at the earliest possible time — limited only by possible court appeals available to the family.

Standing family — unification requests by members of the Qunbar family to allow relatives from Gaza to come live with them in Jerusalem will be denied.

The neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, from which multiple terror attacks have originated over the past year, has been encircled by security forces, who placed a cordon on the village and begun carrying out security checks for anyone leaving the area toward other parts of Jerusalem.

The cabinet also ordered the security services to detain and investigate anyone found praising or celebrating the attack, after claims surfaced that some residents of East Jerusalem cheered and distributed sweets to passersby after the attack.

It also gave permission for security agencies to place anyone who expresses support for Islamic State, as Qunbar reportedly did, in administrative detention, a controversial counter-terror measure that allows the indefinite detention of terror suspects without trial.

Nine people were arrested in the immediate aftermath of the attack, including five family members of the terrorist. Police carried out multiple raids into Jabel Mukaber in the afternoon and evening hours.

Palestinian media reported that Qunbar was affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a secular terror group, but Qunbar’s family insisted he was “religious,” and Israeli intelligence believes he supported the Islamic State jihadist group.

The four soldiers who were killed in the attack were named on Sunday evening: Yael Yekutiel, 20, Shir Hajaj, 22, Shira Tzur, 20, and Erez Orbach, 20. All will be buried on Monday at military cemeteries around the country. Sixteen more people were injured, two of them very seriously.

Original Article: The Times Of Israel

HAMAS HOLDS RALLY IN GAZA TO CELEBRATE TERRORIST RAMMING THAT KILLED 4 ISRAELIS

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“The message of our Islamic party Hamas is a message of encouragement and support for every jihadi who carries out an attack that puts an end to the acts of the Zionist enemy.”

Thousands of Hamas activists and supporters took to the streets of Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza on Sunday night to rally against Israel and praise the terrorist ramming attack in Jerusalem which killed four Israelis.

Earlier on Sunday, a Palestinian rammed his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers on a popular promenade in Jerusalem, killing four of them in an attack which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said had likely been inspired by Islamic State.

Chanting anti-Israeli slogans the protesters marched to the rally where sweets were handed out in celebration.

“The message of our Islamic party Hamas is a message of encouragement and support for every jihadi who carries out an attack that puts an end to the acts of the Zionist enemy,” Hamas leader Fathi Hamad, who led the rally, told Reuters.

The Palestinian Islamist group routinely praises those who carry out street attacks against Israelis.

The Palestinian attack in Jerusalem was the deadliest in months and targeted officer cadets as they disembarked from a bus that brought them to the Armon Hanatziv promenade which has a panoramic view of the walled Old City.

The military said an officer and three officer cadets were killed and that 17 others were injured.

Police identified the truck driver as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem and said he was shot dead. His uncle, Abu Ali, named him as Fadi Ahmad Hamdan Qunbor, 28, a father of four from the Jabel Mukabar neighborhood.

Following the attack, Netanyahu said that access limitations were imposed in and around the east Jerusalem neighborhood and that further actions will be taken by Israel.

Late on Sunday, police were seen patrolling the area and stopping vehicles for checks. Palestinians threw fireworks at the forces, but no casualties were reported.

Actions inspired by Islamic State in Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem have been rare and only a few dozen Arab Israelis and Palestinians are known to have declared their sympathy with the group.

A wave of Palestinian street attacks, including vehicle rammings, has largely slowed but not stopped completely since it began in October 2015 and 37 Israelis and two visiting Americans have been killed in these assaults.

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

Netanyahu calls to pardon Elor Azaria after Hebron manslaughter conviction

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“IDF soldiers are everyone’s sons and daughters,” the prime minister wrote in his Facebook post.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the manslaughter conviction handed down Wednesday to Elor Azaria for killing a neutralized terrorist as a “difficult and painful day.”

Netanyahu said he supported a pardon for the soldier.

“This is a difficult and painful day for all of us,” he said in a statement that came some eight hours after the conviction, long after many other politicians had already reacted. “First and foremost for Elor and his family, IDF soldiers, and many citizens and parents of our soldiers, myself included.”

“I call on all citizens to behave responsibly toward the IDF, its officers and the chief-of-general staff,” he said. “We have one army which is the foundation of our existence. IDF soldiers are everyone’s sons and daughters and they must remain above all disagreements.”

Netanyahu has come under criticism over the last nine months for various comments he made on this issue, initially criticizing the soldier, but later calling the family to express support.

Immediately after the incident, Netanyahu issued a statement that “the IDF expects its soldiers to behave with composure and in accordance with the rules of engagement,” adding that the incident in Hebron does not “represent the values of the IDF.”

Two days later he wrote a Facebook post saying, “The IDF is a moral army that does not execute people. IDF soldiers have absorbed with their bodies the terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and deserve support.” He said he trusted that the IDF would conduct a thorough and fair investigation “as it always does.”

Nevertheless, he called Azaria’s father shortly afterward. Months later he defended that phone call, saying he told Azaria’s father to have faith in the army.

“You know what I told him? Word for word: Place your trust in the IDF, in the chief of staff, in our commanders and soldiers and our justice system,” Netanyahu said. (He went on to compare Azaria’s parents to those of soldiers who die or go missing in combat, a statement he later apologized for following a public outcry.)

In April, Netanyahu said, “Our soldiers are not murderers. They act against murderers, and I hope that the way will be found to balance between the action and the overall context of the incident.”

The next day he said that he was certain that the military court would take into account all the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“As a father of a soldier and the prime minister, I want to say again that the IDF backs up its soldiers,” he said. “In my familiarity with the military justice system, I am convinced that the court will consider all circumstances regarding the incident.”

The trial of Azaria, who was caught on film in the March 24 incident, has divided the nation, as was evidenced by the violent clashes between police and Azaria supporters outside the courtroom.

A panel of three judges determined after the contentious eight-month trial that Azaria’s shooting of Sharif was not justified. Sentencing was due to be handed down at a later date.

The judges rejected Azaria’s claims that he had acted in self-defense, fearing that Sharif may have been wearing an explosives vest.

They pointed to testimony of several people on the scene that Azaria had originally said that Sharif needed to be killed out of revenge for stabbing a soldier. Only later did Azaria’s defense come up with the story that he feared Sharif may still be dangerous, the judges said.

The judges took more than two hours delivering their verdict, shooting down the defense’s claims one after the other.

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

Fatah: ‘Bloodshed will follow if Trump moves US embassy to Jerusalem’

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“I believe that any American act of stupidity will ignite the Palestinian territories,” says senior Fatah official.

The Palestinians will start a new violent uprising if Donald Trump’s incoming White House administration relocates the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a senior Fatah official indicated this week in an interview translated by MEMRI.

“I believe that any American act of stupidity will ignite the Palestinian territories,” Fatah Central Committee member Sultan Abu al-Einein told Egypt’s Alghad TV on Sunday.

Al-Einein, an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also pointed to Israeli “arrogance” and settlement activity along with the potential US maneuver as provoking Palestinian violence.

“We must prepare for a confrontation with the new US administration, which has clearly and audaciously declared that Israel and its settlements are legitimate and legal,” he asserted.

The Palestinian official charged that Washington and Jerusalem “will bear responsibility for the return of the bloodshed in the Palestinian territories.”

The Trump team has said that the US president-elect considers moving the embassy a “very big priority.”

Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Trump repeatedly said he would move the US Embassy if elected – a political promise past US presidents have frequently made, yet has never been held.

Longstanding US policy is to treat the status of Jerusalem as an issue to be settled in final-status negotiations with the Palestinians.

Trump’s pledge to move the mission has been met with mixed reactions from Israeli officials.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has questioned whether it would be wise for Trump to prioritize moving America’s embassy upon taking office. Meanwhile, Israel’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer has backed the potential move as “a great step for peace.”

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

Fatah thanks UN members for giving it ‘permission’ to kill Jews

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Fatah movement publishes threatening, violent image thanking 14 nations which voted for anti-Israel Security Council resolution.

Fatah’s official Facebook page posted a picture of “Palestine” last week. The picture includes the entirety of Israel painted in the colors of the PLO flag, being used to stab the word “settlement,” Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported.

The text above the image reads “#Palestine will defeat the settlement.”

After the UN Security Council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution condemning any and all Jewish presence over the 1949 armistice lines, Fatah published an updated version of the same picture, this time with the words “thank you” added above the names of the 14 countries which voted in favor of the resolution. A puddle of blood was also added to the bottom of the picture.

According to PMW, the image shows that “Fatah is saying more Israelis will pay with their lives as a result of the UN resolution.”

The US is not mentioned, despite its abstention having been the factor which allowed the resolution to pass. The US broke with its long-standing policy of vetoing one-sided resolutions at the Security Council and allowed the resolution to pass unopposed.

Original Article: Arutz Sheva

UN vote tops Wiesenthal list of top 10 antisemitic, anti-Israel cases in 2016

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Jewish human rights organization releases its 2016 ranking.

The US abstention from a recent vote against Israeli settlements at the UN Security Council topped the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s annual list released Tuesday of the 10 worst outbreaks of Jew-hatred and anti-Israel incidents.

The Jewish human rights organization ranked the Obama administration’s move as the top case, charging that it erased Jewish history.

“The most stunning 2016 UN attack on Israel was facilitated by President [Barack] Obama when the US abstained on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for settlement construction. It reversed decades-long US policy of vetoing such diplomatic moves against the Jewish State,” wrote the center.

The organization added: “It also urges UN members ‘to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967,’ effectively endorsing BDS.”

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn along with former British politician Baroness Jenny Tonge ranked second.

According to the ranking, “antisemitism in the [Labour] party has greatly escalated.

Corbyn, who previously called Hamas and Hezbollah his ‘friends,’ also promoted his strategy adviser Seumas Milne, a Hamas proponent.”

France earned the third spot for “singling out Israel. Amid a backdrop of devastating and murderous Islamist terrorist attacks, continued targeting of French Jewry and reports of the refusal of some Muslim police officers to guard synagogues, the French government became the first member of the European Union to implement the requirement of labels on all Israeli goods produced beyond the Jewish state’s 1967 borders.”

Fourth place included a list of BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) actions targeting Israel.

“Leaders of the German Teacher’s Union (GEW) local in Oldenburg have called for a total boycott of Israel. In September, the Oldenburg GEW local published a pro-BDS article by Christoph Glanz, a public school teacher and fanatic opponent of the Jewish state.

Glanz, who has tried posing as a Jew to avoid charges of anti-Semitism, recently called for the eradication of the State of Israel and relocation of its Jews to southwestern Germany,” notes the list.

Also included in spot four were the United Church of Christ, which overwhelmingly voted to endorse BDS, as well Ryerson University in Toronto, where the student union voted to endorse the BDS movement.

The head of the far-right US-based National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer, garnered the fifth spot for being “America’s 21st century Nazi.”

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas ranked sixth.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center cited past comments later retracted by Abbas in which he referred to false claims that Israeli rabbis had called for the poisoning of Palestinian wells.

“Just a week ago, a group of rabbis in Israel announced, in a clear announcement, demanding their government, to poison, to poison, the water of the Palestinians. Is this not incitement? Is this not clear incitement, to the mass murder of the Palestinian people?” Abbas had initially said.

The list also pointed to a Hamas TV program that aired a play in which Palestinian children dressed in military fatigues and armed with guns and knives “kill” those acting as Israelis.

The explosion of antisemitic attacks in the Netherlands catapulted the country to the seventh slot. At a high school “some of the graduates broke out in song with the lyrics, ‘Together we’ll burn Jews, because Jews burn the best’- a chant sometimes heard in the country’s soccer stadiums,” wrote the center.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was ranked eighth for worrying about terrorists and not their victims “Commenting on the violence in Israel of knife-wielding Palestinian terrorists, and measures taken by Israeli police in their wake during the so-called ‘Knifing Intifada’, Wallstrom, called for an investigation into what she called ‘extra-judicial killings’ by Israeli police,” she was quoted as saying.

The ninth slot covered antisemitism in the sports arena. Outbreaks of antisemitism were cited in the US, the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, the United Kingdom and Poland.

The last spot went to Poland for its persecution of “prominent historian Jan Tomasz Gross, who documented Polish participation in the murder of Jews in wartime Poland.

He is in the crosshairs of Polish authorities who are considering charges that could put him behind bars for three years for ‘harming the country’s reputation.’”

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

UN Security Council passes anti-settlement resolution, US abstains

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After the United States abstained from voting, the UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding Israel stop building settlements on Palestinian territory, a reversal of US practice to protect Israel from United Nations action.

The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump. Israel and Trump had called on the United States to veto the measure.

It was adopted with 14 votes in favor, to a round of applause. It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

Thanks to Israel, I Can Have a Merry Christmas

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Leader of the Aramean Christian community Father Gabriel Nadaf explains why a Jewish and democratic Israel is crucial for Middle Eastern Christians.

The following article was published prior to Christmas in 2014. As the world continues to see the heart breaking pictures from Aleppo, Iraq, and other war torn areas throughout the region, it is without a doubt that the message of this article is as applicable as ever.

Right now, while Christians the world over are celebrating Christmas, entire communities of the followers of Christ cannot rejoice. The Middle East and parts of Africa continue to drown in rivers of blood, with various minorities being targeted by radical Islamic organizations such as ISIS, Hamas, Jabhat al-Nusra, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and others.

The Christians there are stuck in the middle of a maelstrom of genocide and ethnic cleansing occurring on a daily basis through horrific acts of rape, crucifixion, theft, expulsion, destruction, burning of churches, forced conversions, abduction of nuns and the murder of priests, children, women and the elderly. Sometimes the murderers slaughter whole families, sometimes they murder some in front of the rest and then let the others live with the nightmare. People who can flee to the west, and those who can’t leave or who wish to remain must live with the danger.

The Middle East is effectively being cleansed of Christians. In the beginning of the 20th century, Christians constituted some 20% of the population in the region. Today, it’s 4% and falling. 77% of Iraq’s Christians have fled since 2000, in addition to the thousands who were murdered or forcibly expelled. 450,000 Christians have fled Syria since the civil war began in 2011, for fear they would share the same fate.

Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, had a clear Christian majority. Since 1995, when Israel handed the city to the Palestinian Authority, Christians have been leaving in droves. Today, Christians are only 15% of the population, some say it’s even less. Elsewhere in Palestinian controlled areas, Christians are also leaving, and in Hamas controlled Gaza, the situation is even worse.

Middle Eastern Christians are not just targets for abuse and murder, but are also regularly treated as second class citizens and coping with racism and religious, economic and social discrimination. All because they adhere to Christianity, which espouses peace and goodwill to all mankind.

This bears repeating again and again: Christians in Arab countries live as second class citizens, without rights, with their property stolen, their honor trampled, their children sacrificed and the slaughter ongoing.

Amid the chaos of the Middle East, only one island of sanity can be found where Christians are not persecuted, where they enjoy freedom of religion and ritual, freedom of expression, and where they can live in peace without fear of genocide. That island is the State of Israel. The state in which I and my Christian brothers were born allows Christians complete freedom. Jews and Christians live in Israel in peace and as good neighbors. This is not just because Jesus was born in Jewish Bethlehem and was born a Jew, but because Christians and Jews share a common heritage and a shared hope for a peaceful coexistence.

Israeli Christians are an inseparable part of the population’s fabric, and as its citizens they may elect and be elected to its parliament and local municipalities, rights they use regularly. As a demographic group, they are the most educated community in Israel, are integrated in the legal system as lawyers and judges, serve as officers in the police and the IDF, and occupy various positions in government offices and institutions. You can find many of them as students and faculty in universities, in the health system, on sports teams, in culture, and throughout the private sector. The churches, monasteries, and Christian sites are preserved and run by the various churches entirely freely.

Middle Eastern Christians were always taught that the Arab nation is as one, made up of Muslims and Christians: “We are brothers with a common enemy – the State of Israel,” so they told us. But in recent years, Christians have woken up from the lie which accompanied them for decades, encountering instead a reality of discrimination, persecution and death. This reality has brought Christians in the State of Israel to search for our true identity and return to our authentic roots, before the Arabs and Islam came to the region.

We, the Christians of the State of Israel and the Middle East, are not Arabs, but Arameans in our heart and soul. Jesus Christ spoke Aramaic, one can find Aramaic Holy Books in Middle Eastern churches and before the Muslims invaded, most of the Middle Eastern Christians spoke Aramaic.

This year, the State of Israel recognized the Aramean nation in the population registrar, and is in fact the first state in modern history to recognize this nation, thus allowing Christians to return to their historic identity which was blurred in the Middle East with a nation not their own over the centuries. Unfortunately, the world is not aware of this fact and does not thank the State of Israel which protects Christians and allows them a life of freedom. To the contrary, many in the international community have chosen through ignorance, anti-semitism and incorrect information to criticize Israel with the clear intent of harming and weakening it.

A few months ago, I held a number of meetings with senior officials from the European Parliament and at the European Commission in Brussels. When I told them about the freedom of Christians in Israel, I was shocked to learn that some of them knew nothing about this, and some even admitted that this was the first time that they had received such information on Christians in Israel. The reason for this is that the information that does reach the European Commission on a regular basis is partial and distorted, portraying Israel as a persecutor of Christians.

To me, this is a double crime. Those who choose to lie and distort information passed on to the media, the political establishment or the authorities while hiding the truth and with the sole purpose of hurting the State of Israel for political motives, thus gives aid to extreme elements which strive to destroy the Jews, Christians, Druze, Yezidis and other minorities. Through this illegitimate method, the international community contributes to the worsening of the already difficult humanitarian situation in the Middle East and also bears the responsibility for the situation which forces Christians from their homes. It is time that the world woke up, looked reality in the eye and understood the evil which strives to destroy the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.

The world is trying to weaken Israel and make it easy prey for terrorism. By doing so, they pass a death sentence on Christians in the Middle East and the Holy Land, where Jesus Christ our Lord was born. NGOs and pseudo-Christian organizations, which have not yet freed themselves of the old anti-semitism, who are not familiar with the history of the Holy Land and who disgrace Christianity, act in Israel and the Palestinian Authority and receive millions of Euros from EU countries and institutions.

These organizations adopt a clear anti-Israel policy, sometimes under the cover of “social” and “human rights” activity but with the clear political aim of harming the State of Israel. The results of this activity both directly and indirectly harm the rights of Israeli Christians, who wish to integrate into Israeli society, and harming the delicate fabric of relationships between communities in the State.

Just a few days ago, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) published a report on human rights in Israel in 2014. The report is slanted, manipulative and dangerous. This report, which contains chapters on “Arab minority rights”, “Freedom of Expression” and “Harming of Freedom of Expression During Protective Edge” completely ignores the issue of Christians striving for full integration and which represent true coexistence. The report does not refer once to the Arab incitement, persecution and violence, the attempts to silence us, the intolerance and attempts to harm our freedom of religion and ritual. These have been a regular occurrence over the past two years, including explicit calls for my murder and the murder of my friends from the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum.

The only mention of Christians in this manipulative report is the investigation of a citizen, who as part of an ongoing campaign of incitement published a picture of Recruitment Forum members on his facebook page along with a veiled threat. This is tagged by the report authors as an example of “policing” the internet and harming free speech. This report, which completely ignores our situation, exposes the bias of the ACRI towards anything which doesn’t fit their political agenda. It is a good example of how EU-funded organizations actually harm the rights of Jews and non-Jews in the State of Israel.

The international community must understand that if the Reaper’s scythe reaches the Land of Israel, then no Christians will remain in the birthplace of Christianity. There will no longer be a living basis for the Faith of Christ. Only by standing alongside Israel and understanding that ensuring its Jewish identity will ensure its democratic regime will ensure the continuing flowering of the Christian community here, which looks fated to be the last remnant of Christianity in the Middle East.

Original Article: MiDA