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Ha'aretz
Tid: Thu, 18.04-2019 16:21 Lokal fil generert: Thu, 18.04-2019 5:50
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Between anti-vaxxers and anti-Semitism: N.Y.C.'s Orthodox Jews' war against measles

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 17:24:42

NEW YORK As Mayor Bill de Blasio was declaring a public health emergency last week over a measles outbreak in Brooklyn's Jewish community, a heated debate on the issue broke out outside the news conference.

How can you take away my religious liberty? a young ultra-Orthodox mother, surrounded by friends, demanded to know of a Hasidic pediatrician on the sidewalk. Another declared: We're talking about the idea that God created all humans perfectly. Injecting them with something is like saying that God didn't create a perfect design.

First of all, it has nothing to do with Yiddishkeit, the doctor angrily replied, shaking his index finger at the group of mothers in front of him.


 Between anti-vaxxers and anti-Semitism: N.Y.C.'s Orthodox Jews' war against measles


After almost 20 years, Netanyahu may finally realize his vision for 'Durable Peace'

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 16:34:47

Benjamin Netanyahu has a solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. If you haven't heard of it, its because you haven't read chapter 8 of his book "A Durable Peace," the updated 2000 edition of Netanyahu's previous book, "A Place Among the Nations," published seven years earlier. The chapter, also named A Durable Peace, is the plan Netanyahu formulated, based on the lessons from his first term in office, after he lost the election in 1999.

Netanyahu's plan is pretty straightforward. Under it, Israel would retain some 60 percent of the territory with all the West Bank's Jewish population; the Palestinian Authority would have some 40 percent of the area with virtually the entire Palestinian population."

Israel needs 60 percent as it requires a land buffer that includes the Jordan Valley and the hills directly overlooking it and that would extend southward to the ridges above the Dead Sea... Israel must retain a security cordon around Jerusalem to ensure that the city is not choked by adjoining Palestinian areas. Israel must also keep its early warning stations at the heights of the Samarian mountains... Israel must maintain broad corridors of territory to facilitate movement from the coastline to the Jordan Valley buffer in times of emergency. Those corridors, not accidentally, include much of the Jewish population in Judea-Samaria... Equally, Israel must make sure that the main aquifer that supplies some 40 percent of the country's water, running at the lower part of the western slopes of the Judean and Samarian hills, does not come under Palestinian control.


 After almost 20 years, Netanyahu may finally realize his vision for 'Durable Peace'


Israel, Saudi angles to look for in Mueller's Trump-Russia report

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 15:20:17

Attorney General William Barr has provided only a glimpse of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the inquiry into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election, with many details expected to emerge when the document is finally released on Thursday.

Barr on March 24 sent a four-page letter to lawmakers detailing Mueller's "principal conclusions" including that the 22-month probe did not establish that President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign team conspired with Russia. Barr said he found insufficient evidence in Mueller's report to conclude that Trump committed obstruction of justice, though the special counsel did not make a formal finding one way or the other on that.

The attorney general has pledged to release the nearly 400-page report by mid-April, but has said portions will be blacked out to protect certain types of sensitive information.


 Israel, Saudi angles to look for in Mueller's Trump-Russia report


In first, Jennifer Lopez plans performance in Israel

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 15:16:55

This time, don't be fooled by the rocks that she's got Jennifer Lopez is set to perform in Israel for the first time.

Concert promoters confirmed the rumor Wednesday. Lopez, 49, will play at Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park on August 1.

The pop star and actress had been rumored to play in Israel in 2012 and 2016, The Jerusalem Post reported. It's her first tour in seven years.


 In first, Jennifer Lopez plans performance in Israel


For you were (not) slaves in Egypt: The ancient memories behind the Exodus myth

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 14:56:25

The Passover narrative is one of the greatest stories ever told. More than any other biblical account, the escape of the enslaved Hebrews from Egypt is the foundational story of the Jewish faith and identity, one that all Jews are commanded to pass on from generation to generation.

Also, it never happened.

For decades now, most researchers have agreed that there is no evidence to suggest that the Exodus narrative reflects a specific historical event. Rather, it is an origin myth for the Jewish people that has been constructed, redacted, written and rewritten over centuries to include multiple layers of traditions, experiences and memories from a host of different sources and periods.


 For you were (not) slaves in Egypt: The ancient memories behind the Exodus myth


A national unity government will serve no purpose

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 14:23:16

One can understand the longing of several pundits and politicians for a national unity government. The former are afraid of the implications of a narrow right-wing government, which will make its predecessor pale by comparison; the latter are afraid of the implications of such a government for their political future. But a national unity government won't save the rule of law nor the careers of those who are aiming to form such a government.

The desperate crawl towards a coalition, in the name of national responsibility of course, is not only terrible defeatism on the part of left-wingers. National responsibility doesn't mean letting a lunatic drive while you sit next to him  because if you don't, who knows what he'll do? The lunatic will drive in any case, you'll only be the one who shouts from the window: "It's all right, he has a license."

>> 13 lessons from Netanyahu's victory for Democrats hoping to beat Trump in 2020 | Analysis - The ultra-Orthodox military draft bill dividing Netanyahu's 'natural allies' | Explained


 A national unity government will serve no purpose


Fox News host rips Tlaib for saying she 'feels more Palestinian than ever' while serving in Congress

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 14:23:15

Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs ripped into freshmen Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar while discussing border security on Wednesday. Dobbs introduced the segment with Republican strategist Amy Tarkanian by quoting Tlaib's incredible remark that she never feels more Palestinian than in the halls of Congress.

Dobbs asked Tarkanian, doesn't it make you feel good to know that an American citizen serving in Congress feels more Palestinian than ever, rather than more American than ever, while serving in Congress?

Tarkanian responded by saying she is confounded by how there are people serving in Congress that are willing to desecrate on everything that has made America so great.


 Fox News host rips Tlaib for saying she 'feels more Palestinian than ever' while serving in Congress


This hot potato threatens Netanyahu's government even before it's formed

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 14:17:16

The main challenge facing the government Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to form is the enactment of a new military conscription bill. Already, this bill is threatening the establishment of the next government. 

Netanyahu will have to find a formula that can bridge the gaps on this issue between former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman who wants to return to this job and enact the conscription bill he submitted last term and the ultra-Orthodox parties, which oppose the bill.

>> Hoping to be repaid, ultra-Orthodox parties embrace Netanyahu moments after victory | Analysis - Ultra-Orthodox parties were this year's real winners, here's why - If Israel's left ever wants to regain power, it's got to stop hating the Haredim | Opinion


 This hot potato threatens Netanyahu's government even before it's formed


Russia denies recovering remains of Israeli spy Eli Cohen

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:45:50

Russia's Foreign Ministry has strongly rejected Israeli media reports claiming that Russian officials have taken the remains of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen out of Syria, where he was executed more than five decades ago.

Cohen infiltrated the top echelons of Syria's leadership in the early 1960s and obtained top-secret intelligence before he was caught and publicly executed in 1965.

Israeli media reported earlier this week that a Russian delegation took Cohen's remains out of Syria.


 Russia denies recovering remains of Israeli spy Eli Cohen


Netanyahu expected to hand Education Ministry to far-right party

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:36:01

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to award the post of education minister to the Union of Right-Wing Parties, despite the prime minister's indications during the election campaign that it should be retained by his Likud party.

The allocation of the education portfolio will be the subject of coalition negotiations, which officially began on Thursday after President Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming the next government on Wednesday.

The talks are being delayed, however, because the prime minister wants to meet first with Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon, the finance minister in the outgoing government, who is in Europe on vacation. Netanyahu is interested in merging Kulanu's party into Likud and is willing to reappoint Kahlon as finance minister and to give Kulanu Knesset member Eli Cohen a cabinet position as well.


 Netanyahu expected to hand Education Ministry to far-right party


U.S. halts recent practice of disclosing nuclear weapon total

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:35:55

The Trump administration has halted, without explanation, the recent U.S. government practice of disclosing the current size of the nuclear weapons stockpile.

The decision was revealed in a recent Department of Energy letter to the Federation of American Scientists, a private group that studies nuclear weapons issues and advocates for government openness on national security issues.

The Obama administration, in May 2010, had declassified for the first time the full history of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile from its beginning in 1945. It revealed that the warhead total stood at 5,113 as of Sept. 30, 2009, approximately the number that private experts had estimated and about 84 percent below the official peak number of 31,255 warheads in 1967.


 U.S. halts recent practice of disclosing nuclear weapon total


Ben Shapiro glorifies 'Judeo-Christian values,' absolves its anti-Semitism and preaches its Islamophobia

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:25:23

Ben Shapiro fervently denied he had been "politicizing" the blaze at Paris' Notre Dame cathedral when he called on his two million Twitter followers to "re-familiariz ourselves with the philosophy and religious principles" grounding such a "central monument to Western civilization, which was built on the Judeo-Christian heritage." 

Despite its platitudinous, quaintly archaic sound, "Judeo-Christian values" is a far newer, and deeply politicized, invention than it sounds, gaining currency since Eisenhower used it in 1930s as a clear riposte to fascism. It was later used as a go-to phrase to challenge communism, then as an umbrella term Republican evangelical conservatives used for their political stances, from abortion to military intervention.

More recently, it's been adopted by the hard and far right to claim supremacy for white Western culture that clearly excludes Muslims, whitewashes Christian anti-Semitism and uses Jews as a convenient fig leaf for legitimacy and "inclusion."


 Ben Shapiro glorifies 'Judeo-Christian values,' absolves its anti-Semitism and preaches its Islamophobia


Israeli ultra-Orthodox party says ready for new election if Lieberman insists on draft law

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:23:35

As coalition talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu's Likud party begin in earnest following last week's Knesset election, officials with the United Torah Judaism party have said they would not join a Netanyahu-led coalition if ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students don't continue to be exempt from military conscription. If the dispute over legislation mandating the drafting of ultra-Orthodox men is not resolved in the coalition talks, United Torah Judaism would have no problem heading for new elections, the party said Tuesday.

We will insist that everyone who is studying Torah full time be able to continue studying without interference. We are telling the campaign heads throughout the country to remain on full alert, officials from ultra-Orthodox party said, implying that they are prepared for new elections.

Netanyahu would not have a majority government absent the participation of both United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beiteinu in his new coalition, but Yisrael Beiteinu has insisted on passage of legislation mandating the draft of the yeshiva students. On Tuesday, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said that if presented with choice of joining the governing coalition or heading for new elections, it would opt for new elections.


 Israeli ultra-Orthodox party says ready for new election if Lieberman insists on draft law


The surprising ancient origins of Passover

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:23:26

The Passover Seder is one of the most recognized and widely practiced of Jewish rituals, yet had our ancestors visited one of these modern-day celebrations, they would be baffled.

Not only does our modern Seder wildly diverge from the Passover of old: during antiquity itself the holiday underwent radical changes. Below we chart as best we can - considering the shortage of historical documentation - the origins of Passover, from the dawn of Israelite people to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and the consequent establishment of the embryonic Passover Seder, which modern Jews would recognize.

As the centralized Israelite state took shape about 3,000 years ago, , the religion of the people varied from place to place and took variegated forms, hints of which we can see in the Bible, virtually the only historical narrative we have of this period. Among the different folk beliefs and frankly polytheistic practices these proto-Israelites practiced, the springtime rites seem to have had special status. Two of these rituals would later become subsumed by Passover: Pesach and Hag Hamatzot.


 The surprising ancient origins of Passover


Who wrote the Passover Haggadah?

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:21:47

After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, the Jewish religion faced one of its greatest challenges: adapting to this new reality, in which a central focus of religious observance was suddenly and brutally gone.

The Jewish leadership reestablished the Sanhedrin, the Jewish legal council recognized by the Romans, in the city of Yavne. Handed the daunting task of leading the Jewish people down a new road was Rabban Gamaliel II, who resided over the Sanhedrin assembly as Nasi.

Gamaliel and his fellow rabbis strived to adapt Judaism as best they could to the new circumstances. Among their efforts was a profound reform of the Passover ritual.


 Who wrote the Passover Haggadah?


Dispute flares among U.S. officials over Trump administration Iran arms control report

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:19:23

A new Trump administration report on international compliance with arms control accords provoked a dispute with U.S. intelligence agencies and some State Department officials concerned that the document politicizes and slants assessments about Iran, five sources with knowledge of the matter said.

U.S. President Donald Trump is intensifying a drive to contain Iran's power in the Middle East, which has raised fears that his administration wants to topple the Tehran government or lay the groundwork to justify military action.

The administration says it is trying to halt Iranian "malign behavior" in its support for Islamist militants in the region and denies seeking the overthrow of the Islamic republic's government.


 Dispute flares among U.S. officials over Trump administration Iran arms control report


Trump now expects payback from Netanyahu. It could blow up the Middle East

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:11:14

The planet is suffering from a leadership deficit. It is hard to remember a time when so many of the leaders of the world's most influential countries were so inept, corrupt, weak, malevolent or all of the above.  

Worse, unlike past moments of misfortune in this respect - take Europe in 1939, for example - we lack the one or two strong leaders who might stand up to confront and counteract the defects of the others. Even worse, today's cadre of defective statesmen and stateswomen are actually made worse by collaborations among one another in which both deficits and wrongs are compounded.

There are few examples of one bad leader making another bad leader even more egregiously awful as clear and odious as the mutually enabling, dysfunctional relationship of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump. 


 Trump now expects payback from Netanyahu. It could blow up the Middle East


How can Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller honestly celebrate Passover?

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:06:16

Among the revelations in Vicky Ward's explosive book, "Kushner, Inc.," is her own exploration of the Kushner family's self-perception, which she traces across three generations. In particular, Ward describes the harrowing World War II experiences of Rae Kushner.

Before she became the Kushner family matriarch, she escaped a ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland through a tunnel, spent days hiding in the forests, and eventually joined the Bielski partisans before making her way to America when the war ended.

>> Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller Are the Most Assimilated Jews in America


 How can Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller honestly celebrate Passover?


Armed group attacks air base in southern Libya held by Haftar

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:04:45

An armed group on Thursday a major air base in southern Libya held by eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar on Thursday after he moved most of his forces north to try to seize the capital Tripoli, officials said.

The eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces managed to repel the assault on the Tamanhint air base near Sabha, the main city in Libya's south, two eastern military officials said.

An LNA soldier was killed at the base's main gate, one official said, describing the attackers as "militia".


 Armed group attacks air base in southern Libya held by Haftar


Poll: Church membership in U.S. plummets over past 20 years

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:01:59

The percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has plunged by 20 percentage points over the past two decades, hitting a low of 50% last year, according to a new Gallup poll. Among major demographic groups, the biggest drops were recorded among Democrats and Hispanics.

Gallup said church membership was 70% in 1999 and close to or higher than that figure for most of the 20th century. Since 1999, the figure has fallen steadily, while the percentage of U.S. adults with no religious affiliation has jumped from 8% to 19%.

Among Americans identifying with a particular religion, there was a sharp drop in church membership among Catholics dropping from 76% to 63% over the past two decades as the church was buffeted by clergy sex-abuse scandals. Membership among Protestants dropped from 73% to 67% percent over the same period.


 Poll: Church membership in U.S. plummets over past 20 years


The man who rescued the Israeli left

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:52:54

One thing is clear: MK Issawi Freij of Meretz rescued the Zionist left. Without him Meretz would not have passed the electoral threshold. The words of Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, who said that "Meretz survived the tsunami thanks to the Arab voters" were honest and accurate. There was a reason she visited Kafr Qasem on Election Day. It's a fact that of the 156,362 voters who voted for the party, almost 40,000 are Arab citizens between a quarter and a third.

The percentage of Arabs who voted for Meretz in the 2019 election was significantly higher than in the 2015 election. In 2015 Meretz received about 12,000 votes in the Arab communities, and about another 2,000 to 3,000 in the mixed Arab-Jewish cities. 

In the 2019 election, in the Arab communities alone 33,620 people voted for the party, with an additional several thousand in the mixed cities.


 The man who rescued the Israeli left


Pete Buttigieg shuts down anti-gay hecklers at Iowa event defends free speech

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:47:48

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that President Donald Trump is kind of like a Chinese finger trap you know, the harder you pull, the more you get stuck. He warned that Democrats shouldn't get bogged down in trying to knock him flat with some zinger.

In Iowa for the first time since officially launching his campaign, Buttigieg discussed how to defeat Trump after drawing an audience of more than 1,600 people at a Des Moines rally.

During the event, an audience member asked what he should tell his friends who say America isn't ready for a gay president. Buttigieg replied, Tell your friends I said Hi.'


 Pete Buttigieg shuts down anti-gay hecklers at Iowa event defends free speech


North Korea says it tested new kind of 'tactical guided weapon'

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:05:53

North Korea said Thursday that it had test-fired a new type of "tactical guided weapon," its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear negotiations.

The test, which didn't appear to be of a banned mid- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle negotiations, allows Pyongyang to show its people it is pushing ahead with weapons development while also reassuring domestic military officials worried that diplomacy with Washington signals weakness.

>> North Korean hackers cited in rare attack in Israel


 North Korea says it tested new kind of 'tactical guided weapon'


Israeli police detain journalists documenting Temple Mount activists, confiscate equipment

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 11:41:00

Two journalists were detained for five and a half hours overnight Wednesday and their equipment confiscated after they documented Temple Mount activists trying to smuggle goat kids into Jerusalem's Old City.

Haaretz journalist Hagar Shezaf and Walla Journalist Yotam Ronen are making an independent film on the Temple Mount activists and were accompanying two activists who were trying to smuggle the goats in the trunk of their car.

Every year, activists try to reach the Temple Mount to conduct the Passover sacrifice. In most cases, they are arrested by police awaiting them.


 Israeli police detain journalists documenting Temple Mount activists, confiscate equipment


Release of Robert Mueller's long-awaited report on Russia to shed new light on probe

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 10:32:16

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report on Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election will be released on Thursday, providing the first public look at the findings of an inquiry that has cast a shadow over Donald Trump's presidency.

Attorney General William Barr's planned release of the nearly 400-page report comes after Mueller wrapped up his 22-month investigation last month into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia and questions about obstruction of justice by the president. 

Its disclosure, with portions expected to be blacked out by Barr to protect some sensitive information, is certain to launch a new political fight spilling into the halls of Congress and the 2020 presidential campaign trail, as Trump seeks re-election in a deeply divided country.


 Release of Robert Mueller's long-awaited report on Russia to shed new light on probe


Israel's new army chief has an ambitious plan

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 09:35:26

Three months into the tenure of Aviv Kochavi as chief of general staff, his plans for the IDF are starting to become clearer. The general outline has been marked out and preliminary steps have already been taken. But whether the ideas being formulated by the general staff go forward is dependent on others.

First, the next cabinet will have to make time to discuss them, after the coalition negotiations and the assignment of portfolios. Then and this is the most important hurdle budgetary adjustments will have to be made before the new five-year plan can be approved.

It seems as if Kochavi is expecting abundant resources to be allocated toward his procurement plans. But it's the politicians who will decide how much of a priority military procurement will be compared to other pressing issues, from hospital overcrowding to the failing public transportation system.


 Israel's new army chief has an ambitious plan


Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom in Turmoil

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 08:07:41

Saudi Arabia is the Middle East's biggest paradox. It is a country where Islamic law is its constitution, the extremist Wahhabi doctrine dictates its citizens' way of life, and its democratic institutions like the parliament, as well as universal values such as freedom of expression and the status of women are not part of the official or public lexicon. It also produced Osama bin Laden and most of the 9/11 terrorists. And it is considered the United States' strongest ally in the Middle East.

In a country that possesses unimaginable wealth by virtue of its oil and natural gas, there are enclaves of abject poverty. In a kingdom with one of the most modern armies in the Middle East, there is not enough professional manpower to operate its fighter jets (so it has to enlist Pakistani pilots). This is a country with enormous diplomatic weight that wields huge leverage over Arab and Western countries, yet it has failed time after time to resolve regional conflicts.

Riyadh remains barely involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although it is Saudi Arabia which tabled the Arab Peace Initiative that won the support of Arab countries. Its efforts to effect fundamental change in the Lebanese government ended in fiasco, and it kept its distance from the civil war in Syria although it could have opened a front there against its archrival, Iran. And the war it launched in Yemen has been going on for four years with no end in sight. Moreover, Riyadh is directly responsible for one of the most serious internal Arab conflicts, born after it imposed sanctions on Qatar and dragged Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with it into a needless and dangerous situation.


 Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom in Turmoil


Israeli envoy: No West Bank annexation before unveiling of Trump's peace plan

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 06:37:56

Israel's U.N. ambassador said Wednesday he believes his government will take no action on annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank until after the Trump administration releases its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Danny Danon told a group of reporters he thinks the United States will present the plan between May and the summer.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged in the final stretch of his campaign that he would annex the settlements if he was re-elected. He was asked Wednesday to form a government following his election victory.


 Israeli envoy: No West Bank annexation before unveiling of Trump's peace plan


Up in smoke: Making sense out of Israel's medical marijuana mania

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 03:44:05

At last count, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was home to 19 medical marijuana companies with a combined market capitalization of 3.4 billion shekels ($950 million). Many of them have seen their share price soar by hundreds of percent.

The industry is abuzz with mergers and acquisitions, plans for initial public offerings on Wall Street, negotiations with global companies and hiring of big names as executives and advisers. And, of course, there's Israel's global reputation as a medical marijuana research and development power and the government's approval of exports as of this month.

Yet, the industry isn't just about smoke but about mirrors, too: Most of the 19 companies traded on the TASE have no sales, or even a license to grow or process medical marijuana. The ones that do sell are losing money, which should come as no surprise. The domestic market to which they had been confined until exports were approved is just 40,000 users who pay a fixed 370 shekels a month.


 Up in smoke: Making sense out of Israel's medical marijuana mania


The scariest thing about Election Day

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 01:18:04

Warnings have been heard in recent years to the effect that Israel's liberal democracy has gone into retreat. Prof. Zeev Sternhell, an international expert on European fascism, said in 2014 that Israeli democracy has become increasingly eroded The water is already very hot. It hasn't yet boiled, but it could do so tomorrow morning. It's on the brink of boiling over. (Signs of fascism in Israel reached new peak during Gaza op, says renowned scholar, Aug. 13, 2014).

The signs can be seen clearly: attacks on human rights organizations; limitations on freedom of expression in general, and on freedom of artistic and academic expression; legislation that harms Israeli Arab citizens; threats aimed at the Supreme Court and the attorney general; attacks on the rule of law; and religionization of the military and the school system.

Joining these signs on Election Day last week was the placement of cameras and recording devices at polling stations in over 1,000 Arab locales, with the goal of reducing the voter turnout of Arabs. This is a terrifying development. Especially because it reminds one of the methods white racists used and have continued to use in the American South since the end of the Civil War and also used by Republican Party activists to limit black participation in elections. Estimates are that these methods have reduced black voter turnout by tens of percent.


 The scariest thing about Election Day


By cutting off relations, South Africa has branded Israel with the mark of Cain

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 01:01:14

Because of the election battle, an important item fell by the wayside that should have resonated here: South Africa has decided to downgrade its relations with Israel to the level of liaison bureau, which will not deal with bilateral relations. Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane, who was recalled to protest the killing of demonstrators in Gaza, will not return. South Africa has essentially severed diplomatic relations with Israel. We're left with Chad.

One can, of course, take comfort in the arms of the Brazilian president, admire the president of the Philippines, hug the prime minister of Hungary, and take pleasure in U.S. President Donald Trump. But South Africa is not just any country; it's a symbol of justice, despite all its difficulties, corruption and crime. By cutting off relations it has stamped the mark of Cain on Israel's forehead.

The Foreign Ministry's response to the move only illustrates how low Israeli propaganda can go. It's a nod toward the country's Muslim population, because of the approaching elections, was the unbelievable Israeli explanation for the break. How miserable, how insulting to the intelligence, how ignorant and repulsive that is. It wasn't the killing of demonstrators in Gaza, or solidarity with the oppressed, or South Africa's own legacy, just a gesture to the Muslim voter. With pathetic responses like this, it would be better for the Foreign Ministry to continue to disintegrate. We have no need for it.


 By cutting off relations, South Africa has branded Israel with the mark of Cain


A safe space for everyone

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:41:09

At the start of the school year, Osher Band, a transgender girl, was physically and verbally attacked at her high school, ORT Henry-Ronson in Ashkelon. She was also threatened with a knife. According to her mother, the school said it couldn't protect her, so she could stay home.

Since then, for more than six months, Band hasn't gone to school. So far, no other educational framework has been found for her, yet her mother recently received a letter warning her of possible criminal proceedings if she didn't send her daughter to school.

Last week, Band returned to school and was promptly attacked by one of the girls in her grade. She was hospitalized with traumatic brain injury. The school added insult to injury by accusing Band of provocative behavior.


 A safe space for everyone


Haaretz Cartoon

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:38:04

 Haaretz Cartoon


Netanyahu hints at immunity from indictment, but Likud lawmakers claim ignorance

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 23:11:01

No one who has been following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Facebook page this week could help wondering whether he's openly campaigning for a law that would give him immunity from prosecution. Since the start of the week, he has shared two articles favoring immunity one published in Israel Hayom by regular columnist Haim Shine and one published in Yedioth Ahronoth by former justice minister Daniel Friedmann.

But Knesset members from Netanyahu's Likud aren't sure whether he actually wants to pass legislation that would protect him from standing trial, or whether he plans to run the country while standing trial. They also aren't sure whether a new immunity law is actually needed, even if he does want to avoid a trial.

>> Netanyahu's next coalition: Annexation for immunity from indictment | Analysis - Black flags of immorality and illegitimacy flutter over annexation and Netanyahu's immunity | Opinion


 Netanyahu hints at immunity from indictment, but Likud lawmakers claim ignorance


Israel hails 'record' year in arms exports, despite $2 billion decrease

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 22:06:37

Israel's Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that 2018 was a "record" year for defense-related exports, but its own data shows a decline of almost $2 billion compared to the previous year.

In a statement released by the ministry's International Defense Cooperation Directorate, it said the scope of contracts signed in 2018 was slightly over $7.5 billion, in what export branch head Col. (res.) Mishel Ben-Baruch called "another record breaking year in Israeli security export."

>> A settler's quixotic battle against Israeli arms exports to murderous regimes


 Israel hails 'record' year in arms exports, despite $2 billion decrease


Meet the Korean-American woman leading Jewish Renewal movement

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 21:50:44

SooJi Min-Maranda rarely sees other Jewish people who look like her.

I often feel very isolated as a Jew of color living in the Midwest, she said.

Min-Maranda, who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband and two children, was born in Korea but moved with her family to the United States at the age of 3.


 Meet the Korean-American woman leading Jewish Renewal movement


After election defeat, Labor Party to consider early leadership vote

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 21:26:45

Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay announced on Wednesday that he would hold a convention within 45 days to discuss the party's collapse in last week's election, when it won only six our of 120 Knesset seats, its historically poorest showing at the ballot box.

The convention will decide whether to move up a leadership race to choose a new chairperson, or name a temporary head instead of Gabbay pending a primary election that the party's constitution says must be held 14 months after the election.

None of Labor's lawmakers are in a hurry to succeed Gabbay, because serving as temporary chairperson would mean they could not contend for the permanent position.


 After election defeat, Labor Party to consider early leadership vote


U.S. should suspend sanctions because of floods in Iran, says Rohani

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:58:49

President Hassan Rohani says the U.S. should suspend sanctions against Iran because of the recent massive floods that have claimed dozens of lives.

State TV quoted Rohani's as saying on Wednesday that "if U.S officials were wise, they should have announced they would suspend the sanctions for one year because of the floods in Iran."

Rohani is also quoted as saying the White House was "inhumane and filthy" for declining to allow cash support to the Iranian Red Crescent.


 U.S. should suspend sanctions because of floods in Iran, says Rohani


'Us and them is over': Netanyahu officially tasked with forming governing coalition

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:46:53

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin officially tasked on Wednesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming Israel's 35th government, following two days of consultations with representatives of all parties elected to Knesset.

"In a democracy, the majority rules, and the majority has spoken," Rivlin said in a ceremony held in his official residence in Jerusalem. "You have won, for the fifth time, the trust of this dear nation."

"This was a tough election campaign. Things were said that should not have been said, from all sides; not in a democratic state and not in the Jewish state," he said. "The iron wall should be between us and our enemies, not inside our own home, not between us."


 'Us and them is over': Netanyahu officially tasked with forming governing coalition


Opposition candidate declared Istanbul mayor as Erdogan appeals against results

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:33:18

Turkey's main opposition candidate was declared Istanbul's mayor on Wednesday after election recounts were finally completed, despite an appeal still pending by President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party to re-run the vote in the country's largest city.

The final result of the March 31 local elections showed a narrow victory for the secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Turkey's commercial hub, ending 25 years of control by the AK Party (AKP) and its Islamist predecessors. 

The loss is especially hard for Erdogan, who launched his political career in Istanbul as mayor in the 1990s and has triumphed in more than a dozen elections since his Islamist-rooted AKP came to power in 2002. 


 Opposition candidate declared Istanbul mayor as Erdogan appeals against results


To reduce your carbon footprint, take longer vacations

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:25:37

Isabel Lissner, 29, lives in Copenhagen, and Michal Wimmer-Luria, 44, lives in Hadera; Isabel is arriving from Copenhagen

Hello, Isabel. Can I ask what you'll be doing in Israel?

I'm here to work. It's my first time in Israel, and I'm here to train inspectors in a program called the Green Key a certification that hotels get if they're very environment-friendly and to promote another program, the Blue Flag. That's a label of quality that's given to beaches and marinas that are friendly to the environment. Michal is our representative in Israel, and I came to meet her.


 To reduce your carbon footprint, take longer vacations


Scientists revive some brain functions in dead pigs hours after death

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:59:10

Once upon a time, there were three little piggies (in fact, more than 100) who had no idea they would achieve worldwide fame because some of their brain function was resurrected hours after their death.

The pigs did not realize what happened when vascular circulation and certain cellular functions in their brains were revived. As lead author Zvonimir Vrselja of Yale's neuroscience department and the team reassure in their paper in Nature: They found no sign that the brains had regained consciousness in any way, shape or form. This is probably just as well.

The scientists weren't trying to bring the pigs back to life anyway. It was the opposite of the goal to have consciousness restored, spelled out co-author Nenad Sestan of Yale.


 Scientists revive some brain functions in dead pigs hours after death


'I'm sick of seeing people dying'

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:56:05

Jack Gracie, 29, lives in Edinburgh; arriving from Vienna

Hello, can I ask what your plans are in Israel?

My girlfriend lives in Mazkeret Batya.


 'I'm sick of seeing people dying'


Turkey considers new trade mechanisms with Iran to bypass U.S. sanctions

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:55:40

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday Turkey is looking into establishing new trade mechanisms with Iran, like the INSTEX system set up by European countries to avoid U.S. sanctions reimposed last year on exports of Iranian oil.

Those sanctions followed President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw unilaterally from a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers to pressure Iran to curtail its nuclear programme and stop backing militant proxies in the Middle East.

Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey's opposition to the sanctions and said Ankara and neighbouring Iran needed to keep working to raise their bilateral trade to a target of $30 billion, around triple current levels.


 Turkey considers new trade mechanisms with Iran to bypass U.S. sanctions


Lebanon to endure unprecedented austerity or face catastrophe, PM says

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:39:51

Lebanon faces catastrophe if the government does not agree what may be the most austere budget in its history, the prime minister said on Wednesday, urging national unity and saying everyone should be ready for sacrifices if necessary.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's government is finalizing a 2019 state budget expected to follow through on its promise of difficult and painful reforms to put the public finances on a sustainable path.

The budget is seen as a critical test of its will to enact reforms that economists say are more pressing than ever for an economy that has suffered years of low growth. State finances are strained by a bloated public sector, high debt servicing costs and hefty subsidies spent on the power sector.


 Lebanon to endure unprecedented austerity or face catastrophe, PM says


Notre Dame fire may be divine punishment, says prominent settler rabbi

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:39:03

The conflagration at Notre Dame de Paris that badly damaged the ancient cathedral on Monday was possibly divine punishment, an influential Israeli rabbi said on Wednesday, invoking a 13th-century burning of Jewish scriptures.

Addressing the fire at the 856-year-old church in Paris in a Q&A article published on religious-Zionist Israeli news website Srugim, French-born Shlomo Aviner, now the rabbi of West Bank settlement Beit El, also said it is a mitzvah - a deed done from religious duty - to set fire to churches in Israel, but warned that shouldn't be done anyway, because they would then have to be rebuilt.

>> Fire at Notre Dame: 21st century destroys symbol of 12th century | Analysis - Ben Shapiro lauds the 'Judeo-Christian' heritage of Notre Dame. Twitter objects


 Notre Dame fire may be divine punishment, says prominent settler rabbi


Trump doubles down on Omar 9/11 attack video

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:30:12

U.S. President Donald Trump isn't backing down from his tweets about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.

Trump was asked Tuesday that the video tweet has led to direct threats on life. Any second thoughts about that tweet and the way it was produced and put together?

No, not at all, Trump replied. 


 Trump doubles down on Omar 9/11 attack video


A suggested Passover seder menu

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:19:48

I love the art of planning menus for large parties or even just for dinners with friends. I like the menus to be colorful: purple beets, green beans, red tomatoes, yellow squashes, orange, well, oranges... then I know the menu is varied enough and, as a bonus, has all the vitamins as well. I want some dishes to be spicy, some sour, some a little sweet, some crunchy and some soft. Protein and starch.

But when it comes to holiday menu planning, especially major ones like the Passover Seder that's approaching, it gets more complicated. To start with the obvious, it needs to be kosher for Passover. No flour, no bread. For some, no legume, rice or corn either.

I want to include a dish that my grandmother used to make (that's easy. matzo ball soup), and one of my mother's recipes (fried leek patties, yum!). It gets harder when you come from a mixed family, like mine. I want to add something from the Iraqi side of the family, and the Iraqi charoset of dates and walnuts in the shape of little balls is perfect for that.


 A suggested Passover seder menu


Lord Balfour Trump is coming

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:17:47

Now, after the stars have aligned and the building blocks of the next government are falling into place, it's time for the American deus ex machina to dictate the terms of the American mandate. The deal of the century, as U.S. President Donald Trump's vision for Middle East peace is grandiosely called, is finally going to be published. And judging by the hints and speculations that have accompanied its labor pangs the latest of which was a report in the Washington Post it won't include recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

Thus Israel and the Palestinians can expect a plan based on Trump's arrogant statement in September 2018 that If the Israelis and Palestinians want one state, that's okay with me. If they want two states, that's okay with me. I'm happy if they're happy. One could expand on that romantic poetry by adding, If both sides are happy, that's okay with me. And if one side is happy, that's also okay with me.

>> The true cost of Israeli settlers' annexation dream | Opinion - Trump now expects payback from Netanyahu. It could blow up the Middle East | Opinion


 Lord Balfour Trump is coming


Simple Passover nosh, for Jews who don't want to be slaves in the kitchen

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:59:47

There are many advantages to making your own chrein (which is, for those who missed out on their Jewish education, a spicy horseradish sauce).

It is simple to make and most recipes include horseradish, beets, vinegar, salt and sugar. You can control its strength by adding as much horseradish as you like and you add nothing that sounds like Cellulose or Xanthan Gums, whatever that means (and yes, some store bought horseradish chreins do include it). Of course it will also give you the satisfaction of preparing yet another dish by yourself.

The chrein recipe I've attached here is from a wonderful restaurant in Haifa, called Maayan Ha'Bira (spring of beer, in Hebrew), a famous Ashkenazi institution in town. Their chrein is strong and tangy and goes well with their chopped liver and smoked meat. It will work well with your gefilte fish as well.


 Simple Passover nosh, for Jews who don't want to be slaves in the kitchen


Shells kill 7 in Tripoli neighborhood as Haftar's two-week siege rages

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:49:18

Shells slammed into a densely-populated district of Tripoli overnight, piling misery on civilians from a two-week assault by commander Khalifa Haftar's forces to take Libya's capital from an internationally-backed government.

About 10 GRAD rockets hit the southern residential area of Abu Salim just before midnight on Tuesday, witnesses and authorities said, killing at least seven people, mainly women, and wounding 17. Some of them lost limbs.

Both sides blamed each other for the attack, the most intense yet on a residential area. Abu Salim is near a main point of entry into the city of about 2.5 million people.


 Shells kill 7 in Tripoli neighborhood as Haftar's two-week siege rages


Fearing death, runaway Saudi sisters appeal for world's help

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:44:48

Two Saudi sisters took to Twitter on Wednesday to plead for international protection and a safe haven, saying their lives would be at risk if they went back to the conservative kingdom.

The women, in their 20s, said they had arrived in the former Soviet republic of Georgia and needed help from the international community to find a new country to call home.

"We are in danger. We need your support to deliver our voice. We want protection. We want a country ... (that) welcomes us and protects our rights. Please help us," the pair wrote on a shared Twitter account named GeorgiaSisters.


 Fearing death, runaway Saudi sisters appeal for world's help


14 best value-for-money Israeli wines for Passover

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:35:15

Do you have to bring a holiday gift for this year's Passover seder? Local wine is always the best solution. 

In recent months we have tasted dozens of Israeli wines and were surprised every time. Small boutique wineries are already making wines that are sufficiently polished to compete honorably head on with the large ones, and the commercial wineries, for their part, are drawing inspiration from methods used in far smaller wineries.

>> Think you're planning a big seder? Try organizing one for 4,500 guests - The Passover Haggadah, now an action-packed graphic novel


 14 best value-for-money Israeli wines for Passover


Kushner: Mideast peace plan won't be unveiled before June

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:29:54

WASHINGTON The Trump administration's Middle East peace plan won't be released before June, said Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser.

Kushner told a group of ambassadors that the plan will only be revealed after the conclusion of the Islamic month of Ramadan, which begins in early May and ends in early June.

The document outlining the U.S. plan is over 50-page long, Kushner added, saying it includes a political section and an economic section.


 Kushner: Mideast peace plan won't be unveiled before June


Omar raises $830K for re-election despite Trump backlash

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:26:48

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who's engaged in an intensifying feud with President Donald Trump, has raised nearly $830,000 in the first quarter for her re-election campaign, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.

The Minnesota Democrat a Somali American and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress drew many out-of-state contributions and had just over $600,000 cash on hand as of March 31.

Omar won election in November to a reliably liberal Minneapolis-area seat. Her remarks in recent months on Israel and the power of Jewish influence in Washington have drawn intense criticism and accusations of anti-Semitism, and prompted speculation that she might face a primary challenge. But no challenger has emerged, and progressives across the country have rallied to her side.


 Omar raises $830K for re-election despite Trump backlash


Sudan officials: Ousted president moved to Khartoum prison

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:04:28

Sudan's ruling military transferred ousted President Omar al-Bashir to a prison in the country's capital as hundreds of people marched Wednesday to a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, calling for a quick handover of power to a civilian leadership.

The significance of the transfer of al-Bashir, who was ousted last week by the military after four months of street protests against his 30-year rule, was not immediately clear.

The military has said it would not extradite him to the International Criminal Court to face charges of war crimes and genocide in the region of Darfur, but would instead put him on trial at home. However, it did not rule out that a subsequent civilian government could someday hand over al-Bashir to the ICC. A pariah in many countries of the world, the ousted president doesn't have many options.


 Sudan officials: Ousted president moved to Khartoum prison


Pro-Kurdish lawmaker injured as Turkish police disperse election protest

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 18:02:47

A lawmaker from Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition was injured when police fired water cannon to disperse protests against results of the March 31 local elections in southeastern Turkey, a Reuters witness at the demonstrations said.

Last week, the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) said it was being targeted in an "organised political plot" after the High Election Board (YSK) ruled that several HDP mayors-elect could not take office because they had previously been dismissed from their jobs under a government decree.

Demonstrators gathered in the Baglar district of Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast, to protest the YSK's decision to give the mandate to the second-placed candidates, members of President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party.


 Pro-Kurdish lawmaker injured as Turkish police disperse election protest


Iranian female boxer cancels return home to avoid arrest

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 17:51:28

The first Iranian woman to contest an official boxing bout has canceled plans to return home after an arrest warrant was issued for her in Tehran, her representative said on Wednesday as Iranian authorities issued a denial.

Sadaf Khadem beat a French boxer, Anne Chauvin, in the bout, which took place in western France on Saturday.

Her representative, Clara Dallay, told Reuters that authorities had issued arrest warrants against her and fight organizer Mahyar Monshipour.


 Iranian female boxer cancels return home to avoid arrest


Once again, Israel's courts collaborate with government anti-Arab housing policy

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:32:17

Once again the Supreme Court is allowing the demolition of Arab homes, this time in Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood, because they were built without building permits, even though the land belonged to the builders.

Once again the courts (both the Jerusalem District Court and Supreme Court) that dealt with the request to delay the demolition orders refused to address the substantive argument regarding the failure of the authorities to approve construction plans in these areas for years, leaving residents no real choice but to build without a permit.

>> Read more: Supreme Court okays demolition of 500 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem - Jerusalem to demolish Palestinian homes in 'peace forest,' let settlers build


 Once again, Israel's courts collaborate with government anti-Arab housing policy


UAE hails Trump's veto of U.S. Congress resolution on Yemen

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:00:45

United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash hailed President Donald Trump's veto of a congressional resolution that sought to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

"President Trump's assertion of support to the Arab Coalition in Yemen is a positive signal," Gargash said on Twitter early on Wednesday.

The decision is both "timely and strategic" Gargash added.


 UAE hails Trump's veto of U.S. Congress resolution on Yemen


Will Khashoggi's murder foil the Saudi-Israeli thaw?

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 15:58:18

The Saudi-Israeli relationship is one of the less-talked-about axes in the Middle East, despite its importance. It's a delicate relationship. On the one hand, common rival Iran is bringing the two sides closer. On the other, Saudi Arabia portrays itself as the leader of the Arab world, so the Palestinians' woes don't let it demonstrate friendship with Israel publicly.

The links between Israel and Saudi Arabia are based on security and business interests. For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Saudis are key in Washington's efforts to isolate the Iranian regime. The common interest is so strong that Netanyahu was one of the few leaders to publicly defend Saudi Arabia after the killing of Khashoggi last October.

Like the United States, Israel worried that moves to remove Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the murder would lead to the fall of the Saudi regime. The fall of the Gadhafi regime in Libya in 2011 flooded the Middle East with weapons that had been looted from the dictator's warehouses. A similar development in Saudi Arabia could turn out much worse because of Riyadh's advanced weapons acquired from the United States. In the wrong hands, they could endanger Israel as well.


 Will Khashoggi's murder foil the Saudi-Israeli thaw?


Saudi Arabia, oil superpower, now forced to play by others' rules

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 15:56:35

Saudi Arabia is in the midst of change. Its rulers have realized that the black gold which gave it international leverage for decades is a double-edged sword. The reason is simple: The Saudi economy is based mainly on oil and the kingdom sharply feels any decline in the scope of commerce or a big drop in oil prices worldwide. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has recognized the problem, said that the country must be weaned off crude oil.

According to OPEC, the organization of oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia, in 2017 the kingdom produced 13 percent of all of the world's oil, a market slice similar to Russia's. That same year the United States, Iraq and Iran produced 12 percent, 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively. OPEC countries hold most of the world's oil reserves, which gives a clear and significant advantage to Saudi Arabia.

But the 2017 figures don't reflect the situation in the past. In the middle of the last decade Riyadh produced almost twice as much oil as the United States. Over the years, Saudi oil dominance has manifested itself in American dependence, which had its roots in the post-World War II period, when the U.S. began rapid industrialization and economic growth. The energy crisis of the 1970s highlighted Saudi oil power more than anything else: After the 1973 Yom Kippur War OPEC declared an oil embargo on the United States and the cartel's gradual cutback on production led to a global recession.


 Saudi Arabia, oil superpower, now forced to play by others' rules


Saudi Arabia: Granting a license to drive, keeping a license to kill

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 15:56:18

When human rights activists talk about Saudi Arabia, they are likely to note that the country holds the dubious record of third highest rate of executions in the world, behind only China and Iran. The kingdom doesn't hesitate to impose the death penalty even for non-violent crimes, such as trafficking and using drugs, witchcraft and adultery. Some people mention that when the figure of executions comes in comparison to population size Iran takes first place and Saudi Arabia second.

Saudi Arabia's penchant for the ultimate penalty symbolizes its attitude toward human and civil rights, and yet it seems that the kingdom is not ostracized the way the regional enemy Iran is, or African countries that persecute their citizens.

That doesn't mean that human rights are not a sensitive issue in Saudi Arabia, and even if the world doesn't pressure Riyadh, not everyone in the kingdom is silent. Prominent are the women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul and attorney Waleed Abulkhair:


 Saudi Arabia: Granting a license to drive, keeping a license to kill


How the Saudi royal rivalry rattles the entire Middle East

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 15:55:52

Imagine a family with 43 brothers, each of whom has dozens of children and hundreds of grandchildren, every one of them confident that he is the one worthy of being king. That, in a nutshell, describes the Saudi royal family.

The traditional Saudi system determines that succession passes between brothers, namely, among the sons of the kingdom's founder Abdulaziz Ibn Saud. The system served its purpose well, but was changed in 2007, when King Abdullah set up an Allegiance Council, a family forum with the authority to choose the crown prince and appoint the next king. Abdullah, however, did not implement his own decision and instead picked two crown princes on his own his brothers Prince Sultan and Prince Nayef, each of whom died of natural causes before having the opportunity to head the dynasty.

Abdullah's decision to change the system of succession, followed by his decision to appoint Prince Muqrin as deputy prime minister which traditionally serves as a springboard to becoming king angered the Sudairi wing of the royal family. These are the sons of Princess Hussa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi, one of the more prominent wives of founder King Ibn Saud. These princes felt that King Abdullah was trying to push them away from power, while strengthening other factions of the royal family. As the aging king approached death, the conflict simmering under the surface only intensified.


 How the Saudi royal rivalry rattles the entire Middle East


Mohammed bin Salman has shattered Saudi diplomacy. What happens now?

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 15:55:18

In addition to its huge investments in the West, Saudi Arabia has provided loans and aid to bail out regimes; this and control over global oil prices are the foundations of Saudi diplomacy. In this way, the kingdom has created debtor states that sometimes have to give something back.

Such countries include Lebanon, which has enjoyed investments in the billions of dollars, and Egypt, which has become financially dependent on Riyadh. A partial list also includes Jordan, Sudan, Pakistan, the Philippines and Morocco. Saudi Arabia also employs millions of workers from Arab and Asian countries.

But yes, the Saudis require something in return. In the same way Western countries are asked to ignore human rights abuses in the kingdom, Egypt was asked to hand over the Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran. In 2002, Riyadh forced the Arab League to adopt Saudi King Abdullah's initiative for Middle East peace. Another good example of the give-and-take is the coalition fighting Iranian-supported rebels in Yemen, a coalition that even includes distant Senegal.


 Mohammed bin Salman has shattered Saudi diplomacy. What happens now?


EU's Mogherini: Abandoning two-state solution will deepen Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 14:45:22

Federica Mogherini, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs, said Tuesday that abandoning the two-state solution for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would deepen the chaos in Israel and the entire Middle East.

During a discussion in the European Parliament on the possible annexation by Israel of the West Bank and the United States' recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Mogherini said, The two-state solution is not only fading away. It is being dismantled piece by piece. She added that the EU and the Arab League both agreed on this position.

>>Read more: Meet the world's last, best hope to prevent Israel's annexation of the West Bank | Opinion 


 EU's Mogherini: Abandoning two-state solution will deepen Israeli-Palestinian conflict


Roger Waters urges Madonna not to perform at Eurovision in Tel Aviv

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 14:44:02

Former Pink Floyd front-man Roger Waters urged Madonna not to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in May, after the European Broadcasting Union had confirmed the pop icon's participation in the event last week.

Waters, in an Op-Ed published by The Guardian, called on all those taking part in the song contest to show sympathy for the Palestinians and the dire economic situation in the Gaza Strip, which is under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

>> Opinion: Roger Waters can continue to growl, but Eurovision has a more serious problem 


 Roger Waters urges Madonna not to perform at Eurovision in Tel Aviv


Nancy Pelosi: Ilhan Omar is not anti-Semitic, no taint of anti-Semitism in Democratic Party

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 14:19:54

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi slammed U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday for politicizing the 9/11 terror attacks in an attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who she defended against accusations of anti-Semitism.

I don't think the congresswoman is anti-Semitic. I wouldn't even put those in the same category, Pelosi, America's top Democrat, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Pelosi also rejected any allegations of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party.

We have no taint of that , she added, suggesting that Trump was only resorting to that attack as he "is out of ideas," but refused to further attack Trump while overseas. And just because they want to accuse somebody of that doesn't mean that we take that bait.


 Nancy Pelosi: Ilhan Omar is not anti-Semitic, no taint of anti-Semitism in Democratic Party


Ancient Christian manuscripts digitised at monastery beneath Mount Sinai

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 14:06:29

At St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Egypt's Mount Sinai, the silence in the library is broken only by low electrical humming, as an early manuscript is bathed in green light.

A team from Greece are photographing thousands of fragile manuscripts, including some of the earliest copies of the Christian gospels, using a complex process that includes taking images in red, green and blue light and merging them with computer software to create a single high-quality colour picture.

There is a tangible sense of urgency to the mission.


 Ancient Christian manuscripts digitised at monastery beneath Mount Sinai


IN PHOTOS: A dive into Israel's mermaid community

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 13:30:55

Last year, Shir Katzenell made a drastic life change, leaving a prestigious job in the Israeli army to pursue a childhood dream: becoming a mermaid.

Ever since getting hooked on Disney's The Little Mermaid as a kid, Katzenell confided, she has longed to turn into one. While her friends moved on, Katzenell's enchantment with mermaids endured. She fantasized about swimming underwater alongside fish in a 10-pound tail and sequined bikini. Then she actually gave it a try.

As it turns out, she's not the only one.


 IN PHOTOS: A dive into Israel's mermaid community


Which 2020 Democrats are Hollywood celebs donating to - and one surprise donation by a Murdoch

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 13:13:04

From Ben Affleck and Susan Sarandon to Anna Wintour and Willie Nelson, celebrities lined up to give money and a dash of star power to their favorite Democratic presidential candidates ahead of this week's first quarter fundraising deadline.

For months, candidates in the crowded field of more than a dozen contenders have aggressively courted key figures in music, television, publishing and film, who are one of the party's most reliable sources of campaign cash. Although many donors remain on the sidelines, contributing to lackluster fundraising hauls, an early snapshot included in the campaign finance reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission this week offers a glimpse of who is drawing attention from entertainment industry in the early stages of the race.

When you talk about Hollywood, yes, we are talking about movie stars and writers and directors, but we are also talking about people with decades of experience with presidential campaigns, said Yusef Robb, a longtime California political strategist. Earning support from somebody with a lot of connections in the political world couples with their star power, which people in the chattering classes notice.


 Which 2020 Democrats are Hollywood celebs donating to - and one surprise donation by a Murdoch


Ben Shapiro lauds the 'Judeo-Christian' heritage of Notre Dame. Twitter objects

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:59:41

Conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Katie Hopkins lauded the Judeo-Christian heritage of the Notre Dame Cathedral while lamenting the devastating fire that ripped through the iconic Paris building on Monday leaving many of their fellow Twitter users to cry foul on their knowledge of history.

Hopkins tweeted, A terrifying manifestation of the truth of Judeo-Christian cultures Western Europe. We are aflame. And powerless to quell the fire. We watch in horror as our countries burn.

Shapiro, meanwhile, became involved in a Twitter spat with Bernie Sanders' press secretary, Briahna Joy Gray. In response to his initial comment of Absolutely heartbreaking. A magnificent monument to Western civilization collapsing she wrote: Pretty sure it's a monument to God but go off Ben. To which he replied: It is. And that is why it is a central monument to Western civilization, which was built on the Judeo-Christian heritage.


 Ben Shapiro lauds the 'Judeo-Christian' heritage of Notre Dame. Twitter objects


Columbine copycat threat by woman with gun shuts Denver-area schools

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:59:10

Denver-area public schools will be closed Wednesday as authorities search for a young Florida woman who flew to the city and bought a gun after becoming "infatuated" with the mass shooting at Columbine High School.

The FBI said Sol Pais, 18, is "considered to be extremely dangerous" and "made threats to commit an act of violence in the Denver metropolitan area" just days before the 20th anniversary of the attack that killed 13 people.

All schools in the Denver area were urged to tighten security because the threat was deemed "credible and general," said Patricia Billinger, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety. Columbine and more than 20 other schools outside Denver lock their doors for nearly three hours Tuesday afternoon before Wednesday's complete closures were announced.


 Columbine copycat threat by woman with gun shuts Denver-area schools


The Passover Haggadah, now an action-packed graphic novel

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:57:54

At Passover each year we are reminded that even though the original story is generations old, we are supposed to engage with the narrative as if we were slaves in Egypt. Unfortunately, most Haggadahs are about as engaging as a Maxwell House percolator.

This year, however, two Jewish artists have created a vibrant addition to the alternative Haggadah canon: a graphic novel version of the Passover story that also takes readers through the seder.

>> Opinion: Passover 2019: The 10 plagues of Pharaoh Netanyahu and a word about his worst enemy - hope


 The Passover Haggadah, now an action-packed graphic novel


U.S. 'concerned' over misused funds allegations at UNAIDS

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:57:43

The U.S. government says it is "concerned" about allegations of misused funds at the U.N.'s AIDS agency after a report by The Associated Press this week revealed ongoing financial and sexual misconduct problems at the agency.

In a statement late Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said the government remains "committed to ensuring that UNAIDS has a clear and robust approach to eliminating all forms of harassment" within the organization.

Earlier this week, the AP reported the U.N. AIDS agency remains embroiled in unfinished misconduct investigations involving a whistleblower who went public last year with claims she was sexually assaulted by a top deputy.


 U.S. 'concerned' over misused funds allegations at UNAIDS


Trump vetoes resolution to end U.S. involvement in Saudi-led Yemen war

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:52:16

President Donald Trump has vetoed a congressional resolution that sought to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the White House said on Tuesday.

"This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future," Trump said in the veto message.

>> Analysis: Yemen's war is a mercenary heaven. Are Israelis reaping the profits? - Explained: How the UAE extends its military reach in Yemen and Somalia - with deadly results


 Trump vetoes resolution to end U.S. involvement in Saudi-led Yemen war


The true cost of Israeli settlers' annexation dream

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:44:04

The dam has finally broken, or has it? Benjamin Netanyahu, who until the election had refused to explicitly back the idea of annexing all or part of the West Bank, finally said a few days before the vote that he favored some sort of sovereignty over the Green Line.

Bibi made his move only after being pushed to the wall by Channel 12's Rina Matzliach about why he had done nothing about annexing settlement blocs like Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion. Who says we aren't? We're on the way, we're in discussions on this and other things." And, after being repeatedly pressed, he finally said:  I am going to extend sovereignty.

As a historic moment, it failed the drama test, especially compared to his Bar-Ilan address a decade earlier in support of a two-state solution: We do not want to rule over them . We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land. That was visionary and thoughtful. It was expressed eloquently in a forum appropriate for a major policy statement.


 The true cost of Israeli settlers' annexation dream


Israel, Hamas, hail victory in ending hunger strike. But real success is the timing

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 11:45:24

The moment the agreement ending the hunger strike by Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails was struck, both sides hastened to trumpet it as their own stunning achievement. In Gaza, a movement for prisoners heaped praise on Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' leader in the Strip, for the organization's triumph in the negotiations. Israeli media for their part lauded the wisdom and toughness of the Israeli negotiators.

The truth seems to lie somewhere else, contrasting both narratives. As a seasoned security source put it, after the past year of tension along the Israel-Gaza border, the main achievement is that Israel and Hamas managed not only to climb a tree two days before the election on April 9, but managed to climb back down two days before the Palestinian prisoners' day.

>> Read more: Gaza leader says 'finger on the trigger,' but Hamas and Israel are nearing agreement | Analysis - Wounded Palestinian prisoners left in rain with no food or toilets in 'night of the atrocity' - Hamas pressure could force Israel to deal with prisoners' hunger strike days before election | Analysis 


 Israel, Hamas, hail victory in ending hunger strike. But real success is the timing


Union's Horesh purchases 33% of Super-Pharm

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 11:01:59

Businessman George Horesh, the controlling shareholder of Union, is buying 33% of the Super-Pharm pharmacy chain at a 1.7 billion shekel ($476 million) valuation.

Horesh will be paying 560 million shekels to Leumi Bank, Discount Bank and Super-Pharm controlling shareholder Leon Koffler. Union has business in the fields of vehicles, retail and real estate.

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 Union's Horesh purchases 33% of Super-Pharm


Israel begins demolishing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem neighborhood

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 10:39:13

Large forces of police and Jerusalem city officials began demolishing Wednesday morning Palestinians homes in the Wadi Yetzol section of East Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood on the outskirts of the Old City of Jerusalem.  

The police have demolished two houses so far and the neighborhood residents said they fear more houses will be demolished.

Palestinian witnesses said several residents were wounded in clashes with the security forces during the demolition.


 Israel begins demolishing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem neighborhood


Israeli Army demolishes home of Ofra shooter

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 06:50:51

Israeli army bulldozers entered the West Bank village of Kobar Wednesday morning to demolish the home of Saleh Omar Barghouti, who carried out a shooting attack in the settlement of Ofra in December, Palestinian sources say.

Eyewitnesses said a large number of IDF soldiers entered the village at 3 A.M. An Israeli military bulldozer destroyed the family's home, and forces left the village three hours later. There were no reports of confrontations within the village.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz 


 Israeli Army demolishes home of Ofra shooter


Israeli ambassador to U.S. Jews: I am confident Trump plan will consider Israel's 'vital concerns'

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 05:04:53

WASHINGTON Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer spoke Tuesday at a White House reception for American-Jewish community leaders ahead of Passover.

The event, whose attendees were mainly supporters of the Trump administration from the Orthodox community, was held during a period of growing speculation regarding Trump's Middle East peace plan, which may be unveiled after the holiday.

Quoted in the Jewish Insider, Dermer told the crowd: I know a lot of people are concerned that the peace plan is going to be coming out soon. But I have to say, as Israel's ambassador, I am confident that this administration given its support for Israel will take Israel's vital concerns into account in any plan they will put forward.


 Israeli ambassador to U.S. Jews: I am confident Trump plan will consider Israel's 'vital concerns'


Shikun & Binui's new CEO gets one of Israel's top salaries

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 04:05:44

Housing & Construction Holdings' incoming CEO will be one of Israel's best-paid salaried employees, after the construction company's board approved his terms Tuesday.

Eyal Lapidot is expected to receive annual compensation of 8 million shekels ($2.2 million), including his salary and grants, plus stock options worth another 34 million shekels.

The company, also known in Hebrew as Shikun & Binui, paid his predecessor Moshe Lahmani a salary of 145,000 shekels a month, a signing grant of up to six monthly salaries, an annual grant of 2.6 million shekels, 205,000 shares contingent on the company's performance, and 2.1 million options that would come due between 2019 and 2021.


 Shikun & Binui's new CEO gets one of Israel's top salaries


Israel's captive' regulators fail to properly supervise banks, Knesset committee says

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 03:37:55

Israel's financial regulators failed to prevent the country's banks from making unwise loans to major borrowers including a number of high-profile tycoons, a special parliamentary committee said in its final report published Tuesday.

The report says the banks took a systematic approach under which tycoons received generous credit terms and the public paid the price by subsidizing the debt and suffering a loss when the loans weren't repaid.

>> Read more: A new generation of tycoons rises in Israel - 'No deal if Netanyahu doesn't sign': Tycoon's statements shed new light on bribery case


 Israel's captive' regulators fail to properly supervise banks, Knesset committee says


Gaza leader says 'finger on the trigger,' but Hamas and Israel are nearing agreement

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 02:57:32

The meeting between the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, and the leaders of other Palestinian factions a few days before Israel's April 9 election has provided a large number of details about the understandings that are taking shape between Hamas and Israel with the mediation of Egyptian intelligence.

A review of Sinwar's full remarks shows that he is preparing the ground in Gaza for a long-term cease-fire with Israel in exchange for a considerable improvement in the economic situation in Gaza. The senior Hamas official's justifications for such an accord in his talks with the other factions actually show how far the talks have gone.

Sinwar was careful to emphasize that Hamas has not violated its principles in its indirect negotiations with Israel: The negotiations have never been direct, he noted, and do not include recognition of Israel. Any agreement is not diplomatic, meaning that it is unrelated to the Trump administration's peace plan. It also has nothing to do with the issue of missing or captured Israelis, and is not a substitute for internal Palestinian reconciliation efforts between the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah and Hamas.


 Gaza leader says 'finger on the trigger,' but Hamas and Israel are nearing agreement


For would-be MKs, Knesset loss means millions in campaign bills

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 02:43:50

Likud's election victory didn't just mean 35 Knesset seats for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party. It also meant that the party would be getting significant funding from the state to cover its election campaign expenses.

Not all the contenders in Israel's recent elections were so lucky, however. Particularly for parties that found themselves outside the Knesset, the campaign is over and now it's time to pay the bills. For many parties outside the Knesset, this means that well-off backers will find their guarantees are being cashed in.

>> Read more: Israeli ultra-Orthodox party says ready for new election if Lieberman insists on draft law - The second winner of the Israeli election | Opinion 


 For would-be MKs, Knesset loss means millions in campaign bills


Nearly all complaints about Israeli buses justified, Transportation Ministry says

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 02:28:42

The Transportation Ministry received more than 41,000 complaints against the companies operating Israel's trains and buses last year, and around 90% were found to be justified.

The 41,000 represents an all-time record number of complaints and a significant increase over the 35,000 for 2017 and the 20,000 for 2016. In 2012, there were only 2,562 complaints.

>> Scathing report highlights decade-long failure of public transportation in Israel


 Nearly all complaints about Israeli buses justified, Transportation Ministry says


Hebrew University president rebuts critics: Army ties won't change academic life on campus

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 01:46:54

Prof. Asher Cohen, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the university will continue to cooperate with the IDF, rejecting the criticism of its winning a tender to run an academic excellence program for Military Intelligence officers in training. Even though the presence of the soldiers on campus will have an effect, the nature of the classes will be completely determined by the teaching faculty, said Cohen.

We are not asking for discussions to be conducted differently, and neither has the army asked for it. The army has not made any request to change anything in the content of the courses, added Cohen.

>> Read more: Hebrew University to host Israeli army base on campus - Fake news? Not at Hebrew University | Opinion


 Hebrew University president rebuts critics: Army ties won't change academic life on campus


Pesticides ban reduces toxins in pregnant women

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 01:24:21

The government's decision to ban the use of a few types of pesticides seven years ago has led to a significant decline in concentrations of these substances in the bodies of pregnant women and their children.

The substances are poisonous for human beings, which people are often exposed to when eating fruits and vegetables. Exposure to these substances can damage children's motor functioning and respiratory system.

>> Read more: Widely-used herbicide in Israel linked to Parkinson's stirs debate - Drones in the air and sensors in the ground: How Israeli farmers plan to feed billions


 Pesticides ban reduces toxins in pregnant women


Why did you meet with Arabs?'

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 00:54:22

Laura Mandel, a U.S. citizen and board member of the Abraham Initiatives, which promotes equality between Jews and Arabs, was detained Saturday night at Ben-Gurion International Airport as she was flying home to San Francisco. As reported by Noa Landau on Tuesday, she was asked by security inspectors what she had done in Israel, what the NGO was all about, who its members are, and, to top it off, Why would an American Jew be interested in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel?

>> U.S. member of Jewish-Arab NGO questioned at Israeli airport, belongings taken

After more than an hour of questioning, having every item in her hand luggage examined and undergoing a pat-down, Mandel was allowed to board her flight, but without her personal belongings. Among the items taken from her and checked into the plane's hold was a sweater she wanted for the long flight, since she was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, along with personal hygiene products, her phone and laptop, glasses, a pillow and a book. When she asked to be allowed to take her medication onto the plane with her, she was given a cup of water by security personnel and told to take the medicine in front of them.


 Why did you meet with Arabs?'


Polish diplomat who saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust named Righteous Among the Nations

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 00:35:09

Yad Vashem on Tuesday declared a Polish diplomat who saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust a member of the Righteous Among the Nations, some 60 years after he died.

Konstanty Rokicki, the Polish vice consul in Switzerland during World War II, supplied false passports to hundreds of Jews, a few dozen of whom are still living thanks to him.

>> Read more: The unknown story of the Polish diplomats who saved Jews form the Nazis - Researchers unlock the mystery of Polish diplomats who rescued Jews


 Polish diplomat who saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust named Righteous Among the Nations


Hundreds of Gazans asked to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem - Israel let 200 go to Jordan

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 00:06:22

The Christian world will be celebrating Easter this week and next. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, this holiday, which symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus, is considered the principal festival, as opposed to Western (Catholic and Protestant) Christianity, which places more emphasis on Christmas in December.

According to the calendar of Western Christianity, Easter will begin this coming Sunday, April 21, and will last for two days, but the religious ceremonies began already this past Sunday, Palm Sunday, when the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem is celebrated.

>> Read more: Fire at Notre Dame: 21st century destroys symbol of 12th century | Analysis - Gaza leader says 'finger on the trigger,' but Hamas and Israel are nearing agreement | Analysis


 Hundreds of Gazans asked to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem - Israel let 200 go to Jordan


Trump administration releases updated map of Israel including Golan Heights

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:48:57

WASHINGTON The Trump administration presented a new official U.S. government map of Israel on Tuesday, which includes the Golan Heights as part of the country. The map was shared on Twitter by Trump's special envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt.

Unlike the Golan Heights, which U.S. President Donald Trump recognized as part of Israel last month in the run-up to Israel's election, the West Bank still appears on the map as a separate territory that is not officially part of Israel.

Greenblatt wrote, Welcome to the newest addition of our international maps system after @POTUS issued a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.


 Trump administration releases updated map of Israel including Golan Heights


During first 100 days in office, army chief of staff Kochavi demonstrates restraint under fire

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:23:49

There doesn't appear to be a good period to be named Israeli army chief of staff. With the Gaza Strip constantly shifting from the brink of a deal with Israel to the brink of war; when the West Bank and the north continue to present their challenges and when the drafting of ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students continues to occupy the Knesset agenda, the situation from the outset isn't ideal, to put it mildly. But even taking all of that into consideration, it doesn't look like Aviv Kochavi could have found a worse 100 days to begin his term as successor to Gadi Eisenkot.

There were two main events presenting obstacles in his way even before he was sworn into office. One was the saga of his appointment, which became a power struggle between the defense minister at the time, Avigdor Lieberman, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It wasn't clear whether Kochavi was the preferred candidate or the leading compromise candidate. The second event, also political, was the fact that the Knesset was dissolved and new elections were called some three weeks after Kochavi became the 22nd chief of staff.

If the first event was unpleasant, the second turned a complicated situation even more complicated. That was particularly true because Netanyahu's main rival in the election was the head of the Kahol Lavan party, Benny Gantz, who had been army chief of staff in 2014, when Israel fought a war with Hamas in Gaza. Gantz took heat during the election campaign over the conduct of the war.


 During first 100 days in office, army chief of staff Kochavi demonstrates restraint under fire


Haaretz cartoon

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:19:44

 Haaretz cartoon


Groups, politicians condemn Israel's treatment of NGO member at airport

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 22:55:25

Organizations and politicians have condemned Israel's treatment of Laura Mandel, a board member of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, at Ben Gurion International Airport after she was questioned and separated from her belongings.

Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, released a statement saying: "The Netanyahu government has shown once again that it is now a matter of policy to use border crossings as interrogation chambers and opportunities for political targeting. The government is demonstrating that the test for entering the country is a political one -- either you agree with this government or you're subject to questioning, intimidation, or refusal."

>> Read more: Palestinian BDS founder Barghouti on being denied entry to U.S.: Israel outsources repression - Are you next? Know your rights if detained at Israel's border - U.S. Member of Jewish-Arab NGO questioned, separated from luggage at Israel's airport


 Groups, politicians condemn Israel's treatment of NGO member at airport


Israel-Hamas talks almost derailed over Palestinian prisoners, group's chief says

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 22:46:01

Talks to calm tension between Israel and Hamas were nearly derailed over the issue of Palestinian prisoners, who ended a week-long hunger strike on Monday. Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas Political Bureau, said Tuesday afternoon.

To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz

Last week, Palestinian security prisoners from Hamas and Islamic Jihad began a hunger strike over the installation of cellphone jamming equipment in Israeli prisons. The strike ended Monday after the Prison Service agreed to install public phones in prisoners' cellblocks and allow them to make supervised calls to relatives.


 Israel-Hamas talks almost derailed over Palestinian prisoners, group's chief says


Think you're planning a big seder? Try organizing one for 4,500 guests

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 22:37:35

The Jewish Agency is organizing what it says will be the world's biggest-ever Passover seder, in Ethiopia this Friday.

Some 4,500 Falashmura descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were pressured to convert to Christianity in past centuries along with 80 Israeli volunteers, will be attending Friday night's seder in Gondar, which is being funded by the UJA-Federation of New York.

The Ethiopian participants have spent the past few years living in transit camps in the northwestern Ethiopian city, awaiting the opportunity to immigrate to Israel.


 Think you're planning a big seder? Try organizing one for 4,500 guests


Israeli court rejects senior Human Rights Watch official's petition against deportation

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 22:18:28

The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday denied a petition by the Israel and Palestine director of the group Human Rights Watch that was filed seeking to halt his deportation after his Israeli residency permit was revoked. The permit was withdrawn over claims that the group's local director, Omar Shakir, supports the boycott of Israel. Shakir's lawyers said they would appeal the district court decision to the Supreme Court. 

Shakir, who is a U.S. citizen, had his residency permit revoked by Interior Minister Arye Dery last May for what the minister deemed his activity against Israel. Dery made the decision after the Strategic Affairs Ministry issued a directive stating that Shaker frequently retweets and shares content on BDS against Israel, a reference to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

The district court stayed Shakir's deportation to enable him to file an appeal to the Supreme Court.


 Israeli court rejects senior Human Rights Watch official's petition against deportation


Israeli transgender girl hospitalized with brain injury after assault in school

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 21:42:36

Osher Band, a 15-year-old transgender girl from Ashkelon, hasn't gone to school for more than six months. At the beginning of the school year, other students attacked her verbally and physically, including threatening her with a knife. As a result she remained at home, fearing for her life.

But she hasn't been able to find another school, and her mother recently received a letter threatening possible criminal proceedings if Osher didn't return to school. A week ago as a result, she returned to her school, the ORT Henry Ronson High School.

But a classmate promptly attacked her and she was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. Osher said that her teachers failed to help her. They also asked her not to come to school with hair extensions and long nails so as not to attract attention to herself. The school disputes her account.


 Israeli transgender girl hospitalized with brain injury after assault in school






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