Ghassan Jarrar says his life is meaningless without Khalida. In his office at the children's toys and furniture factory he owns in Beit Furik, east of Nablus, its chairs upholstered with red fake fur, the face of the grass widower lights up whenever he talks about his wife. She's been incarcerated in an Israeli prison for 20 months, without trial, without being charged, without evidence, without anything. In two weeks, however, she could be released, at long last. Ghassan is already busy preparing himself: He knows he's liable to be disappointed again, for the fourth successive time.
Khalida Jarrar is Israel's No. 1 female political prisoner, the leader of the inmates in Damon Prison, on Mt. Carmel, and the most senior Palestinian woman Israel has jailed, without her ever having been convicted of any offense.
The public struggle for her release has been long and frustrating, with more resonance abroad than in Israel. Here it encounters the implacable walls of the occupation authorities and the startling indifference of Israeli public opinion: People here don't care that they're living under a regime in which there are political prisoners. There is also the silence of the female MKs and the muteness of the women's organizations.
A Hezbollah-aligned TV network aired on Friday a previously unseen video of a 2015 incident along the Israel-Lebanon border, where two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded after an anti-tank missile had been launched at their vehicle. A Spanish UN peacekeeper was also killed in the attack.
The video aired on Lebanese Al Mayadeen shows the launch of the missile and the moment of explosion in the disputed Har Dov area.
25-year-old Cap. Yochai Kalangel and 20-year-old Sgt. Dor Chaim Nini, both from the Givati Brigade, were killed in the attack, seen as Hezbollah's response to the assassination days earlier of Jihad Mughniyeh, son of slain Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh and the organization's Golan Heights commander, attributed to Israel.
Party slates must be filed by this Thursday, exactly 45 days before Election Day on April 9. This past Thursday saw a little merger action, albeit modest, as right-wing parties Habayit Hayehudi and National Union forged an electoral alliance.
The Negev and Galilee Development Ministry, headed by Arye Dery, funded more than 200 gender-segregated events in the past three years, in violation of Israeli law and an explicit cabinet resolution.
Many of the events were not specifically religious in nature, suggesting a spillover into cultural and activities events.
The ministry's underwriting of separate events for men and women went against a government resolution adopting the recommendations of an interministerial team appointed to fight the exclusion of females from Israel's public sphere.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday he was mystified by U.S. policy on northeastern Syria after U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops, because it would only benefit Iran, which Washington wants to be tough on.
The troop withdrawal, which Trump announced in December, rattled U.S. allies fighting Islamic State in northeastern Syria. On Friday, speaking at a security conference in Munich, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said the United States would keep its capacity in the region.
>> Read more: Russia may call shots in Syria, but U.S. Mideast dominance remains unchallenged - The absence of strategy in Washington's Syria policy
A four-year-old boy drowned in his home in the southern Israeli city of Eilat on Monday, but has not yet been buried because he has no guardian who can approve holding a funeral. His burial is but one of several unanswered questions about the boy's life, and death - from the circumstances of the mother's arrival in Israel last year from Ukraine to the his final hours.
The 26-year-old mother is suspected of murdering her son and is being held for psychiatric observation and evaluation because of her mental state, while the boy's body is kept in the National Center for Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir in Tel Aviv. The boy's biological father still lives in Ukraine and the police are trying to bring him to Israel to allow the funeral to be held. The mother's present husband, who is not the boy's father, cannot legally take the place of the father.
>> Read more: Number of Eastern Europeans denied entry in Israel up tenfold since 2013
Twenty Palestinians were wounded Friday by live fire in clashes with Israeli forces along the Gaza border, the Gaza Health Ministry reported, while Israel Police said a Border Police officer was lightly wounded in the leg from shrapnel after an explosive device was thrown at him.
The Palestinian Red Crescent cited 109 wounded protesters, of which 16 hit by live fire and two by rubber bullets.
Friday's demonstration was the 47th in a row since the weekly protests began in March. The Israeli army said 11,000 Palestinians came out to protest, with some throwing stones, grenades and other explosives at soldiers. One Palestinian was arrested for trying to cross the border in northern Gaza.
George Zreik, a hardscrabble salaried driver, immolated himself last week outside the school his daughter was attending, creating a nationwide uproar in Lebanon.
Zreik could not meet the payments he owed his daughter's private school and only asked the school for a document certifying that his daughter was studying there, so he could register her at a government school. The prestigious school informed him that he could not get such a document before paying his debts. All the fury that had accumulated within him for months, during which he had first removed his son from the school, then realized that his daughter would likewise not be able to complete her studies there, erupted in one outburst. He felt trapped inside a fiendish circle and decided to take his own life.
His story instantly made major headlines in Lebanese media, which blamed the new government that had been appointed only 10 days earlier, following a long and torturous gestation period lasting nine months.
Israel's Central Elections Committee ruled on Friday it was illegal for the Labor Party to operate public buses on Saturdays, amid ongoing debate in Israel over public services on Shabbat.
Justice Hanan Melcer, the committee's chairman, said the proposed bus line in the central city of Rishon Letzion constitutes "a gift" to voters, ahead of the April 9 election.
Ultra-Orthodox party Shas asked the committee earlier on Friday to prevent Labor from following through with its campaign push, dubbing it "cynical and confrontational". Labor chairman Avi Gabbay said his party remains committed to advance public transport on Shabbat, adding it "will not let Shas decide" on the issue.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu's on Friday refused to clarify in person earlier comments regarding Poland's complicity in the Holocaust, however his office released a statement saying Netanyahu's comments were misrepresented and that he meant certain Poles, and not the Polish government.
Replying to a Haaretz question whether Poles collaborated with Nazis during the Holocaust, Netanyahu said, "Shir will answer you," referring to his spokeswoman.
"In a briefing, PM Netanyahu spoke of Poles and not the Polish people or the country of Poland . This was misquoted and misrepresented in press reports and was subsequently corrected by the journalist who issued the initial misstatement," said the statement.
I hate Netanyahu, Rami Livni wrote in a Haaretz opinion piece in late November. He has hurt me ¦ he has managed to take away our love for our country, because Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for the brutalization of Israeli society, Livni charged.
This was a crybaby piece basically asserting that because Livni hasn't been able to make Israeli society think as he does, he hates Netanyahu. And what should anyone with healthy reasoning derive from this foundational text? That there has never been and never will be a worse prime minister than Netanyahu. The next candidate will apparently be Satan.
I wouldn't be discussing this violent piece had Livni's op-ed this week in Hebrew not provided the insight that it isn't actually Netanyahu who's responsible for the brutalization of Israeli society, but anyone who doesn't agree with Livni. It turns out he really dislikes the Likud party's new Knesset slate as well. Suddenly Likud's ticket has changed from a gang of clowns to a gang of thugs.
Although the election is less than two months away, politics hasn't completely knocked security developments out of the headlines. Incidents on the Syrian front exchanges of threats that occasionally lead to exchanges of fire between Israel and the Iranian and Hezbollah forces are getting the most attention. But the biggest risk of a major eruption of violence in the lead-up to the election is still in the south, in Gaza.
The IDF military intelligence assessment for 2019 includes, as it has for the past two years, a strategic warning about a deterioration on the Palestinian front. Shifts in the internal power relations in the Palestinian Authority and in the security relationship with Israel, in light of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' 83 years of age and expected decline, could lead to an escalation of terror from the West Bank and even to a wider confrontation. In Gaza, the ongoing severe crisis involving the civilian infrastructure continues to put pressure on the Hamas government and could push it into another clash with Israel, despite the understanding (that has become a cliché by now) that neither Israel nor Hamas is interested in a full-scale war.
Not by chance, the first official visit scheduled by new IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi was to the Gaza division. The chief of staff also approved a plan, with an accelerated timetable, to improve the IDF's preparedness for various combat scenarios in Gaza. This plan has been given budgetary priority over preparations in other areas.
The policemen entered Jennifer Zeng's house at 2 in the morning; they woke her and her family and told her she was under arrest. The leaders in Beijing have an eye on you, one of them said. When she asked him what the official reason was for her arrest, he thought for a moment and said in all seriousness, For your thoughts.
Shortly afterward Zeng entered a labor camp officially called a reeducation camp in Beijing and the gates locked behind her. On the first day they made us sit with our heads down, looking at our feet. They forced us to stay that way, unmoving, for 15 to 16 hours, in the sun, until it got dark. Many older women fainted. At a certain point I asked for a paper and pen to ask that they stop this, and when they heard this, two policemen came at me with electric prods. They pushed me outside, dragged me along the ground in the courtyard and used the electric prods all over my body. It was terrible, indescribable. I closed my eyes, I waited for it to be over, until in the end I lost consciousness.
Zeng at the time had a master's degree in biochemistry and was part of China's social elite. She was married and had a daughter, and was even a member of the Communist Party that has ruled China for 70 years. Her sole crime, she stresses, was that she belonged to the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that combines exercises, meditation and the belief in three principles truth, compassion and tolerance. Although the Chinese government had been supportive of the movement in the early 1990s, after a few years, in which it swept up so many followers, reaching 70 million and exceeding membership in the Communist Party, the government which sees any mass movement as a threat to the regime began to crack down.
The young Syrian woman walked on stage and began telling the story of her brother's kidnapping in the early years of her country's civil war, wiping away tears as she recalled the 2013 incident that changed her life.
The woman, who identified herself as Mae from a government stronghold in the central city of Homs, said Ihsan's kidnapping in 2013 turned her into a more tolerant person, despite the eight-year conflict that has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced half the country's population.
Inside the theater in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Syrians from other parts of the country who support rival factions listened carefully to what she said.
The Dome of the Rock has dominated the Jerusalem skyline for 1,300 years and sparked debate among scholars of early Islam as to why such a lofty structure was really built.
For years there has been two accepted answers to the question of why the shrine was erected 691 years ago on the Temple Mount. A recently published article by an Israeli researcher now provides a third explanation, which has stirred up controversy anew.
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If Iran tries to block the Bab al-Mandab strait, I'm sure it will find itself facing an international coalition determined to prevent it. This coalition will include all Israel's army branches as well, declared Benjamin Netanyahu in August, following Iran's threats against American sanctions.
Such a coalition had already been set up in 2015 by Saudi Arabia, who partnered with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Pakistan. Israel is also an unofficial partner. Israeli cyber companies, gun traders, terror-warfare instructors and even paid hitmen operated by an Israeli-owned company are partners to the war in Yemen.
>> Read more: Revealed: Israel's cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays - How the UAE extends its military reach in Yemen and Somalia - with deadly results | Explained
Israeli networking software company DriveNets said on Thursday it raised $110 million in its first round of financing led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Israel's Pitango Growth, with the participation of several private investors.
The new financing will help the company expand its product portfolio and penetrate new markets, it said.
DriveNets said its software allows communication service providers to handle growing demand without sacrificing profitability. Bringing networking to the cloud can accelerate new service rollouts, it said.
An Israeli content marketing company removed an anonymous campaign on behalf of the Likud targeting Benny Gantz because the company does not run political campaign material.
Taboola is an Israeli company that promises to draw traffic to sites by microtargeting users, promoting stories its customers want by placing them in the recommended for you and in the "around the web slots at the bottom of other stories, usually news articles.
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Following Israel's expulsion of an international observer force from the volatile West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian activists are trying to fill the void by launching their own patrols to document alleged Israeli settler violence.
Armed with video cameras and donning blue vests, the activists say they will replace the Temporary International Presence in Hebron. The group has enlisted 18 volunteers and began its work this week.
By expelling the international monitors, the Israeli government wanted to hide the Israeli settlers' and soldiers' violations, but we will not let them get away with that, Issa Amro, an activist leader, told The Associated Press. We will document any attack by photos and words, and we will circulate it all over the world.
The Karaite community has rejected the Jerusalem Development Authority's request to build a roof over the community's ancient cemetery in the Hinnom Valley in the capital. The authority plans to run a cable car line to the Western Wall over the cemetery and without the roof, the project faces a major problem for religious reasons.
According to Orthodox Jewish tradition, Jews who are kohanim descendants of priests are not permitted to enter cemeteries and it is expected that rabbinical authorities would ban them from using the cable cars if the line passes over an unroofed Karaite burial ground.
Members of the country's 40,000-strong Karaite community, which accepts the authority of the Hebrew Bible but not of the Oral Law that is codified in the Talmud, said they had not been consulted or given notice of the plan. Planners said it would be difficult to find an alternative route for the cable car that does not run above another cemetery.
NEW YORK - Mayor Bill De Blasio vowed to stamp out once and for all manifestations of anti-Semitism and condemned the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement at a rally against anti-Semitism held at a Brooklyn Synagogue on Thursday. It's a very sad reality, but anti-Semitism is alive and well in this world, in this city, in this country, he said. History tells us, if you take it lightly, people will be hurt and people will die and we will not allow that in New York City.
>> Read more: Ilhan Omar has sparked panic in AIPAC - No, America's activist left is not inherently anti-Semitic. It's our home As a city which prides itself on tolerance, De Blasio said, New York should be the example to the entire world of what it means to protect our Jewish community. At a press conference held by the mayor and NYPD officials on January 3, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that out of the 361 hate crimes that have been recorded in New York City in 2018, over 50 percent were anti-Semitic in nature. De Blasio revealed at Thursday's event that numbers for the first few weeks of 2019 show a continued rise in such incidents. As of February 10, there has been 47 hate crimes reported in New York City compared to 27 during the same period in 2018. Over two-thirds of the hate crimes, 32 incidents, targeted the Jewish community. I want to give this message loud and clear to anyone who has hatred in their heart and they're thinking of going out and scrawling something on a subway or a front door, they're thinking of attacking an individual because of what they're wearing or because of the language they speak: If you do that, we will find you. We will arrest you and you will go to prison. Period, he said to the sound of loud applause. In his speech De Blasio mentioned the October 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history and called it a wake-up call to the danger. Every New Yorker should be part of solving this crisis, he continued. When we say, if you see something, say something, that's not just about terrorism, that's about anything that would tear us apart. The mayor also reiterated his support for Israel, saying it was created not just as a dream of a homeland for people who had lost their homeland, but also as a refuge from a world filled with hate. Democrats and Republicans with equal fervor need to say Israel must exist so the Jewish people know they are always protected, he stated. And maybe some people don't realize it, but when they support the BDS movement, they are affronting the right of Israel to exist and that is unacceptable. Consul General of Israel in New York Dani Dayan welcomed De Blasio's remarks adding that the State of Israel stands alongside the American Jewish community and will continue to work together with the authorities against growing anti-Semitism. Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and the recent physical assaults against Jews in Brooklyn are worrisome and require action, Dayan said in a statement. "Never again is now and we must fight with all our might against the anti-Semitic beast. "
WARSAW - Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted Friday that his country was a victim to Nazi occupation after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the Poles collaborated with Nazis during World War II.
Polish President Andrzej Duda also took to Twitter on Friday, suggesting, in response to Netanyahu's statement, that Israel should not host the meeting of the Visegrad nations set to be held in Israel next week.
Duda said he was prepared to make Poland the location of the meeting as Israel is no longer a good place for the summit. Later, the Polish governmnet said they had received clarifications from Netanyahu that his statements had been misunderstood by the media, thereby ending the crisis.
The election campaign will get underway in earnest at the end of next week, once the contours of the political map are more clearly drawn. All the tedious questions, conjectures and guesses will end at 10 P.M. on February 21, when the final party slates will be presented with great pomp and circumstance to the Central Elections Committee.
No longer will we have to wonder who's going to hook up with whom, or tortuously follow the eternal agonizer, that contemporary Prince Hamlet, Gabi Ashkenazi. What's past will be prologue, the doubts will vanish. The wait for the final party slates will be replaced by the wait for decisions by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on the three investigations involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The shifts in Knesset seats recorded this week in the polls did not upset the basic assumption underlying campaign 2019: Netanyahu will be the next prime minister. The Likud-right-ultra-Orthodox bloc is maintaining its advantage over the center-left-Arab bloc. And with Likud ahead of Hosen L'Yisrael by at least 10 seats there's no question of who President Reuven Rivlin will charge with the task of forming the next government.
WARSAW - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau uploaded to the premier's official YouTube page a video in which Arab leaders can be heard endorsing Netanyahu's message that Iran poses the biggest threat to the region during a discussion at the Warsaw Middle East summit that was held behind closed doors.
Moments after Haaretz reported on the video, it was taken down from YouTube.
The video was added in a discreet way to an announcement by the prime minister on a different topic, but while briefing reporters in Poland he hinted several times that he expected journalists to find out what was said in the discreet discussion. Netanyahu hinted as well that his team was in possession of the recording of the discussion, but that he could not leak it.
President Donald Trump vowed on Thursday to declare a national emergency in an attempt to fund his U.S.-Mexico border wall without congressional approval, a step likely to plunge him into a battle with Congress over constitutional powers.
Conceding defeat in his earlier demand that Congress provide him with $5.7 billion in wall money, Trump agreed to sign a government-funding bill that lacks money for his wall, but prevents another damaging government shutdown.
The bill, passed overwhelmingly by both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, contains money for fencing and other forms of border security. But it ignores the wall, which Trump in his 2016 campaign promised Mexico would pay for, arguing it is needed to check illegal immigration and drugs.
The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, called the self-declared interim president and opposition leader Juan Guaido a CIA agent who serves the interests of the United States and the Zionists in an interview with the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese media group, Al-Mayadeen.
He added in the interview posted on Tuesday that he feels love for the noble Palestinian cause, and sent words of encouragement to the Palestinian and Arab prisoners confined in Israeli jails.
Maduro denied that there are Hezbollah operatives acting in Venezuela. And he blamed the United States for trying seize the wealth and oil of Venezuela.
Poland is asking for a correction after NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell said that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was against the Polish and Nazi regime.
he 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a heroic act against the German Nazis who established the ghetto & carried out the #Holocaust. During WWII Poland was attacked &occupied by the German Nazi regime, the Polish Embassy in the United States wrote in a tweet Wednesday to MSNBC.
The World Jewish Congress also called for a retraction.
Bezeq said Thursday it would ask the High Court of Justice to overrule the Communications Ministry and allow it to merge its business units into a single company immediately. Bezeq said its board had approved the suit on the grounds that the company had met all of the conditions for ending structural separation set in a 2012 agreement with regulators opening its infrastructure to competitors. Israel's largest telecoms group has long sought to merge its core landline business with its mobile, satellite television and internet units to save costs and enable it to offer bundled service plans to customers. The move would also unlock 1.2 billion shekels ($330 million) in tax losses amassed by its Yes satellite TV unit. The ministry has refused out of fear that Bezeq might use its market dominance to deter competition. Bezeq shares ended down 0.5% at 3.17 shekels. (Nati Tucker)
Plantext to be first Israeli cannabis company to be traded overseas
Plantext is on its way to becoming the first Israeli medical marijuana company to trade overseas, its CEO Doug Sommerville said this week. Rather than conduct an initial public offering, the Israeli-Canadian startup reached an agreement three weeks ago to merge with the BB1 Acquisition Corporation, a shell company listed on Toronto's TSX Venture Exchange. Plantext, which is developing and commercializing marijuana formulations to treat inflammation-related conditions, has a licensing agreement with the Israeli government's Volcani Agricultural Research Institute. It is preparing to launch its first product, for inflammatory bowel disease, in Israel in the current quarter and later in Canada. The company was founded in 2014 by Oded Sagee, a former Volcani researcher. Sommerville was president of Teva Pharmaceuticals Canadian unit from 2008-14. Plantext has raised $4.5 million to date at a $26 million valuation and is in the process of raising $5 million more. (Guy Erez)
When it was launched in late November, American Outlets was touted as Shufersal's online revolution. Israeli shoppers finally had a homegrown alternative to Amazon, Asos and eBay to do their clothing and other shopping with a Hebrew interface.
Israel's biggest supermarket chain, Shufersal, saw American Outlets and a host of other websites it has launched to sell everything from vacations to electronics and furniture as turning into Israel's Amazon. American Outlets offered at least 2.5 million fashion items from the United States.
Two and a half months later, Shufersal is trying to figure out where it went wrong. Sales have been so poor and customer dissatisfaction so high that the retailer weighed shutting down American Outlets altogether and rebuilding it before relaunching it.
Hadassah Medical Center announced Thursday the end of a two-day doctors' strike at the organization's two hospitals in Jerusalem.
The physicians began striking Tuesday to protest the management's decision not to hire seven medical residents who were due to begin rotations at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Kerem and Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus on February 1.
On Wednesday night, the strike was suspended for two days to allow the labor court to hold uninterrupted hearings between the medical center and the Israel Medical Association. On Thursday morning, management was asked to submit all relevant information on the residents' hiring, including signed employment contracts.
To hear Benjamin Netanyahu, his request to receive millions of dollars from two tycoons who testified in Case 1000 (champagne and cigars) to pay for his legal defense is only a common citizen's attempt to defend his most basic rights against the mighty bureaucratic machine that is the state.
Shamelessly, a prime minister who has been in office for 10 consecutive years is describing his legal struggle as a fight against the authorities. In a document sent to the State Comptroller's Office's permits committee, his attorney wrote: The huge expenses the state has invested demonstrate the endless budget and resources at its disposal, and underscore the individual's helplessness, whatever his personal fortune, to defend himself single-handedly against that critical mass piling up against him. ¦ Whether it's one of those cases the Supreme Court called dinosaur cases' ¦ a private person who is flesh and blood, whatever his public status, stands alone in his defense against the state's infinite power. Kafka couldn't have said it better.
>> Read more: Bibistan vs. Israel | Opinion - Indictment draws closer as attorney general rejects Netanyahu's legal requests
A total of 5,043 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip did not receive their regular monthly salaries or government allowances from the Palestinian Authority at the beginning of February, Palestinian media outlets and human rights organizations have said.
Palestinian sources have told Haaretz that the withholding of the payments came on direct instructions from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office to the Palestinian Authority's Finance and Planning Ministry, but the sources said they were unable to obtain any further information on the matter from the ministry.
>> Qatari money calms Hamas, but doesn't guarantee long-term quiet in Gaza | Analysis
Senior personnel at the Achva Academic College altered documents submitted to the Council for Higher Education to conceal that one of its programs had failed to meet academic requirements.
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Haaretz has learned that the college president, Professor Shosh Arad, instructed senior officials there the dean and program leader to alter the program schedule for the master's degree program for mathematics instruction. These instructions were issued to cover it up that a junior staffer had given a seminar as part of the program, contrary to the council's requirements.
It's not clear whether we're dealing with cause or effect, but both the Labor Party and Meretz which are at the most critical junctures in their history are currently headed by leaders who are not terribly popular among their constituents.
Internal battles are common to all human organizations, especially an one laden with intrigue like a political party. In this case, it is accompanied by a severe leftist pathology: a chronic, tongue-clucking disapproval marked by an unabating passion on the part of both activists and voters to decapitate their leaders and crown new ones, only to cut their heads off again, and again.
>> Read more: Boxed in left and right, Meretz holds primary election | Analysis - The Israeli left should learn from Trump | Opinion
For years, the cartel of the universities fought against the establishment of a university in Samaria. The arguments presented were professional but the main reason was political. And Haaretz also brought all of its influence to bear in support of the cartel. Yet the battle failed. The university is thriving with an enrollment of 15,000 students (10 percent of them Arabs) in four faculties and two professional schools. The medical school, whose establishment received (apparently final) approval a few days ago, will be the third. Now all the fury is being directed here.
Three years ago, when the founding of the medical school in Ariel was announced, another stage of the battle began, one that continues to this day. Again, for professional reasons, of course. The severe shortage of doctors in this country and the necessity for so many medical students to study abroad, often at inferior medical schools in Eastern Europe, were of no concern to the opponents.
Fifty-eight percent of the doctors in Israel had to study abroad. Tuition and living expenses at the best schools in Italy, the Czech Republic and Hungary ranges from 750,000 to a million shekels ($205,000 to $274,000) per student. It doesn't take much imagination to understand how much hardship could be relieved by having another medical school in Israel. The fight against the new medical school is also being fueled by the fact that Netanyahu supporters Miriam and Sheldon Adelson are the main patrons and financiers of this school.
The headstone of Sarah Ayal, in Jerusalem's Har Hamenuhot cemetery, describes her as woman with a noble soul, modest in her ways. It also says she contributed greatly to Israel's security. The combination of her modesty and the secrecy required by her work may explain why Ayal remains unknown to the general public 15 years after death, despite her great artistic talent.
Only after her death, during the shiva, did we begin to hear the stories, said her granddaughter, attorney Dafna Rosenne-Singer. Doyens of the defense establishment praised Ayal and told the family about her secret operations as a photographer, details of which even today can't be published.
Later, her family discovered documents, badges and medals attesting to the fact that real stories existed behind her veil of silence. These included medals from three wars and an Intelligence Corps badge.
The first time filmmaker Julie Cohen entered the U.S. Supreme Court to interview Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she was carrying a large container filled with bagels, cream cheese and an assortment of pickled and smoked fish.
Herring and salmon were the unlikely first steps on a journey that has led Cohen to the Academy Awards on February 24. Together with her co-producer and co-director Betsy West, Cohen is nominated for an Oscar for RBG the acclaimed documentary telling the story of Ginsburg's life and accomplishments, and offering a behind-the scenes look at the diminutive 85-year-old Jewish justice who became an unlikely pop culture icon.
That first interview with Ginsburg back in 2013 was for a very different documentary: The Sturgeon Queens, recounting the family history of Russ & Daughters, the legendary appetizing store on Manhattan's Lower East Side. While doing her research, Cohen learned that Ginsburg was the store's most famous lifelong customer she had shopped there since she was a child and continued to visit the store into her 80s.
Winter, Liam Neeson and blood-drenched revenge tend to go hand in hand in the 21st century. The Irish film star, who made his name in dramas such as Michael Collins and Schindler's List, made a dramatic career change in his mid-fifties. Since Taken (2008), the 66-year-old Neeson seems to be living a double life in Hollywood: esteemed dramatic actor and prolific action star. His new picture, Cold Pursuit, joins the growing list of action movies, but this time Neeson adds a comic infusion to the thriller persona he's been cultivating.
Cold Pursuit is a remake of a Norwegian film, Kraftidioten, released five years ago. The director, Hans Petter Moland, thus enters the small club of filmmakers, among them Michael Haneke with his Funny Games, who have remade a film they've directed, this time for an English-speaking audience. The laid-back action and black humor were adapted specially for snow-covered Colorado by the scriptwriter, Frank Baldwin, and alongside entire scenes that were translated into English, new characters with an American twist have been added.
Neeson plays Nelson Nels Coxman, a snowplow driver who lives a simple life in a small, remote town that lives on ski tourism. His symbolic job enables him to remove obstacles from the path of the local population, and this allows everyone to pay him very little attention. He is the maintenance man of the invisible routine, the kind that's noticed only when it disappears. Nels lives with his wife, Grace (Laura Dern), in a wooden house located in a pastoral setting. At the beginning of the movie, he receives the Citizen of the Year award and delivers a clumsy and confused speech about order. But at that very moment, his son dies mysteriously, and the event upends his tranquil existence.
The rabbinical property trusts institution in Jerusalem has been paralyzed for two months, since the deputy attorney general urged to suspend the country's chief Ashkenazi rabbi's decision to replace the head of the rabbinical court panel that deals with the trusts.
The story began in December 2018, when David Lau, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel, transferred Rabbi Shlomo Shtasman from Jerusalem to a parallel rabbinical court in Tel Aviv. The move came after the Shtasman began an investigation into alleged large-scale malfeasance at the Jerusalem trusts, or hekdeshot in Hebrew.
A hekdesh is a legal entity, usually dating back to the Ottoman era, that holds property designated for a specific purpose, like educational institutions or synagogues.
Let's pause for a moment to recall the circumstances that led to the establishment of the Joint List. Fear of losing Knesset seats after the electoral threshold was raised pushed the leaders of the diverse Arab parties Islamists, nationalists and communists to run together.
But running on a single joint ticket didn't increase the number of Arab Knesset members. Before the formation of the Joint List, the number of Arab lawmakers was almost identical 12 to 13. That's the ceiling of what these parties can obtain in an election. Following the Joint List's establishment, the polls showed no chance of exceeding this ceiling; in many polls, the number even declined.
Some people say the Joint List is a vehicle for forming a blocking majority that would prevent the establishment of a right-wing government after the election. There could be no greater mistake. Putting all the Arab representatives into a single basket isn't an obstacle to a right-wing government, but it is an obstacle to the possibility of creating a civic national discourse that crosses ethnic and communal boundaries.
WARSAW - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday addressed controversial Polish legislation the caused a rift between Israel and Poland, blasting Poles for collaborating with Nazis during World War II.
"The Poles collaborated with the Nazis and I don't know anyone who was ever sued for such a statement," Netanyahu said at the Warsaw conference on the Middle East, which he is attending.
He was referring to the controversial Holocaust law, which criminalizes anybody accusing the Polish nation of complicity in Nazi crimes.
UPDATE: Israel's deputy health minister suspected of aiding headmistress avoid extradition
Growing up in an especially cloistered ultra-Orthodox home and community in Melbourne, Australia, the three sisters were required to have their books vetted by their school or parents. Any depictions of male-female interaction of any kind were whited out and taped over even fairy tales.
Television and movies were prohibited. Even mail-order clothing catalogs weren't allowed into their home. They learned nothing about their own bodies or sex.
Israel Police questioned Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on Thursday on suspicion that he intervened in an expert medical opinion in favor of an Australian former school principal accused of sexually abusing minors.
Litzman, whose office denied any wrongdoing, allegedly tried to use his standing as deputy health minister to prevent Malka Leifer's extradition to Australia, where she could face charges for 74 incidents of sexual assault and rape. Litzman is suspected of attempting to have her officially declared mentally unfit to stand trial.
>> In Israel, Australian sisters recount alleged sex abuse by ultra-Orthodox principal
The Haifa District Court's decision this week permitting Haifa's mayor to intervene in artistic content at municipally owned arts institutions to "maintain public order" is a dream come true for Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who has sought to curb artistic expression that she found offensive.
The district court issued the ruling in support of a decision by Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem to have the municipally owned Haifa Museum of Art remove "McJesus," a sculpture that sparked violent protests following an outcry by the city's Christian Arab community. "McJesus," which depicted a crucified Ronald McDonald, the McDonald's mascot, was featured in a display on the commercial use of sacred images.
Since taking office as culture minister, Regev has tried time and again to exert her influence over institutions, municipalities and local councils to present certain works of art and refrain from exhibiting others. She has seen nothing wrong with such intervention and hasn't hesitated to make her censorship demands public. She also hasn't hesitated to cut state funding to institutions that fail to accede to her dictates.
Seven new candidates will run for the Israeli Knesset as part of Benny Gantz's Hosen L'Yisrael party ahead of the April 9 general election, including an openly gay ex-mayor, an ultra-Orthodox woman and former Tel Aviv deputy mayor Asaf Zamir.
Hosen L'Yisrael announced Thursday that former Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker Moshe Matalon will join its ranks, alongside Eitan Ginzburg, the first openly gay mayor who lost the vote in Ra'anana during the October election.
Ultra-Orthodox activist Omer Gilinsky Yankelevitch will run on the party's slate as well as the head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, Alon Schuster, former Culture and Sports Ministry's Director General Orly Fruman and Gadi Yevarkan, who used to head the pre-military leadership academy Be'eri.
The founders of NSO Group, the controversial Israeli cybertechnology company, are buying it back, the firm reported on Thursday.
NSO did not release the terms of the deal but an industry source said that the management buyout assigned the company a market value of a billion dollars.
NSO stated that its management and founders, Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavi, together with the European private equity fund Novalpina, are buying a 60% stake in company from the U.S. private equity fund Francisco Partners, which owns the majority interest. Hulio and Lavi are expected to put up $100 million.
Carrying Syrian flags and pictures of President Bashar Assad, hundreds of Arab Druze who live in the Golan Heights gathered on Thursday to mark the annexation of the territory Israel captured from Syria in the 1960s.
Dressed in traditional black garb and white hats, the protesters chanted, pledging loyalty to Syria.
This land is the land of our fathers and grandfathers, the land is ours. No one has the right to it other than the Syrians, said Qasem Mahmoud al-Safadi from the village of Majdal Shams.
More than 100 different religious denominations are currently represented among the ranks of the American military evidence of the widely diverse profile of American society. Today, religious pluralism is considered to be a blessing, but that wasn't always the case. It was only following World War I that the different branches of service allowed chaplains to wear insignia other than the Christian cross, and there was authorization to use the Star of David (as well as the Latin Cross) in marking soldiers' graves.
A new trend in religious pluralism in America's armed forces has become evident in recent years, as the policy regarding one's appearance in uniform becomes more flexible. Recently, the army announced that it would allow men to keep their beards for religious reasons, and the same with turbans for Sikh men, hijabs for Muslim female soldiers and kippot for Jews. The shift has been slow and has been driven by several lawsuits, one of which was filed by Rabbi Mendy Stern from Chabad, and helped open the door for bearded men of all faiths.
One of the first beneficiaries of the new policy is Rabbi Michael (Michoel) Harari, 37, who has served for about two years as chaplain of an elite army combat battalion. At present he lives with his wife and their six children at the Joint Base Lewis-McCord, outside Tacoma, Washington.
WARSAW - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that statements by Arab leaders at the Warsaw conference on the Middle East which he is attending have laid the groundwork for the Arab public to accept nornalization of ties with Israel.
Arab foreign ministers speaking in front of the world together with Israel about a common enemy is a "process of legitimization of a global and Arab public opinion," the premier noted.
>> Netanyahu defends confirmation of Syria strike: I wouldn't reveal things they don't know - In Warsaw, dream of Arab NATO against Iran shows its cracks | Analysis
WARSAW - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Thursday his decision to confirm Israeli strikes on Syria that were reported earlier in the week.
Discussing the reason Israel usually maintains ambiguity when addressing its actions along the northern border with Syria, Netanyahu said:"I wouldn't reveal things they don't know. When our airplanes are flying over the area they know very well that it's us there. We have a clear policy: to demonstrate our determination to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria."
>> Read more: Netanyahu blurs the line between security and propaganda | Analysis
U.S. President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia had not noted any big changes suggesting the United States was moving to withdraw its troops from Syria, following an order from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Putin said Trump was trying to fulfill his election campaign promises by ordering the troop withdrawal, but that he was not always able to fulfill his promises because of what Putin described as internal political issues.
The top U.S. commander overseeing American forces in the Middle East said on Sunday that the United States is likely just weeks away from starting the withdrawal of ground troops from Syria.
The FBI's former acting director said he began an obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigation involving U.S. President Donald Trump and his ties to Russia shortly after Trump fired bureau Director James Comey in May 2017, CBS News reported on Thursday.
Former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe said he was disturbed by his conversation with Trump following Comey's dismissal and got the investigations started the following day, according to excerpts from an interview with "60 Minutes" to be broadcast on Sunday.
"I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency and won the election for the presidency and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage," McCabe said. "And that was something that troubled me greatly."
The first-ever primary election for Israeli left-wing Meretz party on Thursday saw MK Ilan Gilon, MK Michal Rozin, and MK Esawi Freige retaining their place among the first five slots on the party's slate.
The top slot on the party's ticket is reserved for Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg.
Eighty-three percent of eligible voters cast ballots as candidates vied for a high enough on the party ticket to have a reasonable chance of securing a Knesset seat as polls project the party will hold on to its current five seats in the April 9 national election.
It's a strange conundrum: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently suspended a law intended to protect the most economically vulnerable in Palestinian society. And that suspension was received with public acclaim.
The Social Security Law is meant to guarantee financial security to those unable to work due to old age, illness, disability, or maternity leave. It's a social and economic human right, but after months of protests, debate and strikes, the Palestinian people shot it down.
The key to this unlikely state of affairs is one crucial piece of information: Israel currently holds between 3 and 30 billion shekels in social benefits belonging to 125,000 Palestinian who worked in Israel since 1970. That pile of money was supposed to fund the social security net.
WASHINGTON - Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar launched an online fundraising campaign titled "We Won't Be Silenced" after being condemned for a tweet widely seen as anti-Semitic, this despite apologizing for her comments.
Omar was sharply criticized after tweeting earlier this week that support for Israel in the United States was all about the Benjamins. When asked what she meant, the Minnesota representative answered: "AIPAC!"
She issued an apology on Monday, saying that "Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes."
Fox News rejected a national ad buy for a 30-second spot for the Oscar nominated short documentary Night at the Garden, which also warns against a fascist resurgence.
The Hollywood Reporter first learned of the rejected ad buy, which was slated to run during Fox New's Hannity program. The Hollywood Reporter reportedly viewed an email correspondence in which Fox News national ad sales representative told the distributor's media-buying agency on Wednesday that CEO Suzanne Scott (our CEO') said the ad was not appropriate for our air.'
Sean Hannity, the host of "Hannity," is a prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump - having even appeared at a rally with him during the 2018 mid-term elections.
WARSAW - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Iran advocates for 'another Holocaust' and accused Washington's European allies on Thursday of trying to break U.S. sanctions against Tehran, calleing on them to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
"Sadly, some of our leading European partners have not been nearly as cooperative. In fact, they have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions," Pence said during a conference on the Middle East organized by the United States in Warsaw.
>>Read more: In Warsaw, dream of Arab NATO against Iran shows its cracks | Analysis
The four Arab parties in the joint Arab List are preparing to disband their association and run separately in the April election, as the negotiating teams for Hadash, Ra'am, Balad and Ta'al say the talks this weekend will be critical.
Separate runs would exacerbate the risk the parties, each on its own, won't pass the 3.25 threshold seats in the next Knesset. But the parties have been riven by mutual distrust, and amid mutual accusations, are bracing to contend divided.
>>Read more: Arab MKs must not shy away from seeking power | Opinion
Twentieth and 21st century lightning rods clashed in Congress' hallowed halls in the persons of Elliott Abrams, the Jewish Reagan era official often accused of looking away from atrocities in Central America and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., the freshman fresh out of an anti-Semitism controversy.
Abrams appeared Wednesday before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss his latest job, the Trump administration envoy to efforts to pacify Venezuela. Much of the West, including the United States, reject the presidency of socialist president Nicolás Maduro, and consider the country's leader to be National Assembly President Juan Guaidó.
>> Ilhan Omar just doesn't get why Americans support Israel | Opinion - Thanks to Ilhan Omar, U.S. Jews just gor their Jeremy Corbyn moment | Opinion
Ofer Cassif is fire and brimstone. Not even the flu he's suffering from today can contain his bursting energy. His words are blazing, and he bounds through his modest apartment, searching frenetically for books by Karl Marx and Primo Levi in order to find quotations to back up his ideas. Only occasional sips from a cup of maté bring his impassioned delivery to a momentary halt. The South American drink is meant to help fight his illness, he explains.
Cassif is third on the slate of Knesset candidates in Hadash (the Hebrew acronym for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), the successor to Israel's Communist Party. He holds the party's Jewish slot, replacing MK Dov Khenin. Cassif is likely to draw fire from opponents and be a conspicuous figure in the next Knesset, following the April 9 election.
Indeed, the assault on him began as soon as he was selected by the party's convention. The media pursued him; a columnist in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Ben-Dror Yemini, called for him to be disqualified from running for the Knesset. It would be naive to say that this was unexpected. Cassif, who was one of the first Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in the territories, in 1987, gained fame thanks to a number of provocative statements. The best known is his branding of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as neo-Nazi scum. On another occasion, he characterized Jews who visit the Temple Mount as cancer with metastases that have to be eradicated.
The American, European, Arab and Israeli summit being held on Thursday in Warsaw is intended to build an international coalition to apply pressure on Iran and force countries who refuse to take part in American sanctions U.S President Donald Trump imposed on Iran in November to participate. But for now, this summit is more like a party and many of those invited have arrived wearing a mask to block bad odors.
The star of the summit was supposed to be Iran, but the deep disagreements between some of the European countries and the Trump administration on the question of sanctions has caused some participants, such as Germany and France, to send low level representatives. The British foreign minister announced he would be present for only a short time; Turkey, an important member of NATO and an ally of Iran, will not send a representative and said that the Turkish embassy in Warsaw would follow the events of the conference. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman and Israel will be represented by high level delegations of heads of state, prime ministers and foreign ministers while Egypt will be represented its deputy foreign minister.
>>Read more: Warsaw summit will test U.S. gamble on Israeli-Arab pact against Iran | Analysis - How Trump is forcing Europe to give up on the Iran deal | Explained
Actor Jussie Smollett says he's pissed off that some have doubted his claims about being attacked outside his Chicago apartment last month.
The actor who stars in the Fox drama Empire made the comments during an interview with ABC News that's set to air Thursday on Good Morning America. A preview clip from the interview was posted online Wednesday.
Smollett says he was attacked Jan. 29 by two masked men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him. Smollett, who is openly gay and Jewish, told the police that his attackers tried to tie a rope around his neck and said this is "MAGA country." Chicago police have made no arrests and said they have not found surveillance video that shows the attack.
Turkey is going ahead with a purchase of Russia's S-400 missile system, a Turkish parliamentarian said ahead of an informal Friday deadline which a U.S. official said Washington has set for Ankara to respond to a rival U.S. offer.
NATO member Turkey has repeatedly said it is committed to buying the Russian missile defense system, despite warnings from the U.S.-led alliance that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air defense system.
>>Read more: How Erdogan got Egypt into bed with Israel | Opinion
WARSAW - Jared Kushner, senior aide to U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday both Israel and the Palestinians will have to compromise in the administration's peace plan, which will be presented after the upcoming Israeli election in April.
Kushner was speaking at a closed session at a U.S.-orchestrated convention on the Middle East in Poland.
>>Read more: One thing Netanyahu said this week may have killed Trump's peace plan - Warsaw summit won't create alliance against Iran, but may embolden Israeli-Arab relations
U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has apologized for her offensive tweet that suggested Israeli influence in the U.S. Congress was "all about the Benjamins." But that does not mean that the core issue underlying the controversy surrounding the tweet, Representative Ilhan and new voices critical of Israel in U.S. politics, is likely to fade away.
I'm not going to defend Omar. Her own apology was unequivocal and the tweet itself was, at best, inexcusably insensitive. But it is vitally important we distinguish between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. And, as importantly, we also must recognize the massive response against Rep. Omar for what it is - a spasm of fear about our changing times.
>> Aaron David Miller: No, Israel and America Aren't Breaking Up. Don't Believe the Hype
Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting the leaders of Turkey and Iran for talks about a Syria peace settlement as expectations mount for an imminent and final defeat of the Islamic State group.
During the summit Russia told Turkey it had no right to create a "safe zone" inside Syria unless it sought and received the consent of President Bashar Assad, signalling tensions as a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict began.
But, speaking ahead of the start of the Sochi summit on Syria, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Ankara would need Assad's green light to create any safe zone inside Syrian borders.
A few months ago, I found myself in the audience of a play being performed for young people at a school in central Israel. In the final scene, dulcet tones wafted from the stage as the actors sang a song about love: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels; / but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. The music played on, the words flowed to its melody: If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, / but have not love, I gain nothing.
Some in the audience wiped away a tear, others swayed back and forth and joined in the singing. But probably few of them either on stage or in the audience realized that these words were not written by the playwright or by singer-songwriter Avraham Tal, who set the words to music. The text is from the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (13:1-3), usually referred to as 1 Corinthians, in the New Testament.
Jews unfamiliar with the sacred texts of Christianity may identify the New Testament with the story of Jesus' life and crucifixion alone. To most of us, verses like, He who does not love does not know God; for God is love, sound like something from a song by Shotei Hanevuah (the Israeli band Fools of Prophecy). But it comes from the First Epistle of John (1 John 4:8).
Ariel University in the West Bank will be allowed to establish a medical school, the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria decided on Wednesday.
All 11 of its members unanimously reached the decision, which comes after the Council for Higher Education in Israel's Planning and Budget Committee, responsible for funding higher education in the country, objected to the plan.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit allowed the West Bank council to make the decision just hours before it dissolved. On Thursday, the council's authority was transferred to the Council for Higher Education in Israel.
By the laws of electoral mathematics, Meretz should be doing well in the upcoming election. The party that ran to its right in 2015 and received 24 seats, Zionist Union, has been dissolved. Of its constituent parts, Labor is currently around seven seats in the polls and Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah has disappeared from the charts. To Meretz's left, the Joint List has also split into two warring parties, and together they are polling less than the 13 seats they won in 2015. Surely some of these leftist votes should have wandered to the party in the middle?
They haven't. In nearly all the polls, Meretz is either stuck with the same five seats it has in the current Knesset or else it's down to four, hovering perilously close to the electoral threshold. Where have all those voters gone?
The answer can be found in the meteoric rise of Benny Gantz's centrist Hosen L'Yisrael party and in the lack of excitement among Meretz's natural voters for the party's current leadership or any of the main candidates running in the primary for the party's Knesset slate.
This week, I got into a Twitter war with Auschwitz. Yes, really. I sparred with @AuschwitzMuseum, the official Twitter account for the memorial at the concentration camp in which my grandmother was once an inmate, which ended in them blocking me.
For months now, Auschwitz Museum's Twitter account has promoted a narrative that Polish non-Jews were in no way complicit in the Holocaust.
It frequently challenges tweets that note that Polish anti-Semitism predated and contributed to the atrocities, and pushes the line that indigenous Polish anti-Semitism has no relevance to Auschwitz: "Talking about complicity between the occupiers and local civilian population in the history of Auschwitz is false."
Iranian President Hassan Rohani blamed the United States and its regional allies on Thursday for a suicide bombing in southeastern Iran that killed 27 members of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards, Iranian state TV reported.
The force said on Wednesday a suicide bomber driving a vehicle laden with explosives had attacked a bus transporting members of the Guards in the province of Sistan-Baluchestan.
To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz A militant Sunni Muslim group, Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic minority Baluchis, has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iranian media have reported.
ARAVA INSTITUTE FOUNDER HONORED: The Arava Institute, the environmental studies center based at Kibbutz Ketura, honored its founder, Alon Tal, at its second annual awards ceremony in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. The Arava Institute for 22 years now serves as a proof of concept' that indeed much more unites us in this troubled neighborhood than divides us, Tal, a native of North Carolina who is now chair of Tel Aviv University's public policy department, told Haaretz. The remarkable leap of faith, especially by the extraordinary Jordanian and Palestinian students, reminds us that there are no shortage of partners in our efforts to bring about a bit of harmony between humans and this corner of the Earth. Mira Awad and Rivka Michaeli were also honored. David Broza gave an acoustic performance, during which he invited Tal to accompany him on the fiddle during a rendition of Mitachat Lashamayim.
RUNNING FOR CHARITY: Marathons have become a traditional occasion for dedicated runners to fundraise for their favorite charities, and the Tel Aviv race next Friday is no exception. Many of the charities involve groups started by native English speakers in Israel, and two such causes are Jeremy's Circle and Beit Issie Shapiro. The first is named in memory of Jeremy Coleman and is dedicated to creating a supportive community for children growing up with cancer in their families or who suffered a cancer loss. Find the team of six runners to support by visiting www.jgive.com and searching for Tel Aviv marathon (in English). Over a dozen employees of publisher Eric Cohen Books have committed to run in the name of Beit Issie Shapiro, which develops and provides innovative therapies and services for children and adults with disabilities. Donations can be made at www.beitissie.org.il
ELECTION EXPLAINER: For internationals living in Tel Aviv, the upcoming Knesset election on April 9 provokes myriad questions: How it works, who are the candidates and, in general, what's going on with them? Enter Haaretz journalist Omer Benjakob, who will be giving a talk on the election at Ulpan Bayit on Tuesday. It's like an election explainer but in person, Benjakob, who hails from New York City, told Haaretz. It's for people who follow Israel and are into this, but are missing the foundational terms. This talk gives a chance to learn the fundamentals of Israeli politics to level the playing field in a safe, educational space. Hebrew teacher Yaron Sivan, who founded the independent Hebrew school in his living room, first brought Benjakob in for an election talk in 2013 after the political parties weren't interested in speaking because of the predominantly noncitizen crowd. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Just like Netta Barzilai, Kobi Marimi is an unconventional performer who possesses an odd charisma mixed with huge talent. But Marimi's mission to win the competition and score a home-field victory 40 years after Gali Atari did it with Halleluya will be incomparably harder.
When Barzilai won the finale of The Next Star, the show that selects Israel's Eurovision contestant, a year ago, it came after 20 years of Israel failing to win the big contest. Marimi will have to soar over the high bar that she subsequently set. Anything less than a victory in the Eurovision finale in Tel Aviv is liable to be deemed a failure. And if that weren't enough pressure, there are already television promos screaming for a double featuring dramatically edited footage of the Hallelujah win that came after the A-Ba-Ni-Bi win. The ads conveniently ignore our 1999 failure at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem (where the group Eden placed fifth following Dana International's victory the previous year).
Now the work starts for Marimi and the Kan broadcasting corporation, as they attempt to find the right song. Toy was a knockout from the start, singled out as a serious contender as soon as it was released. This year, Israel's guaranteed spot in the final as the host country actually holds some danger as the five founding countries whose place in the final is assured each year (because they are also the main financers of the European Broadcasting Union) can attest.
Do you ever wonder why Republicans in America are so resolutely opposed to the idea that climate change is real? After all, it's not as if the party normally takes sides on scientific controversies like whether Pluto is a planet, cold fusion, or the extinction of the eastern puma.
It's true that the addressing climate change is bad for business, which naturally arouses GOP anxiety. But then again, the end of life on earth as we know it, wouldn't be great for business either. Even Trump can appreciate that property values in Manhattan will collapse if the island is under several feet of water due to rising sea levels.
The real reason that climate change arouses such visceral anger among Republicans and other conservatives isn't the science. It's the conclusions the science requires, namely that governments must lead a coordinated worldwide response.
WARSAW - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday it is impossible to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran.
Pompeo is in Warsaw to participate in a conference on the Middle East co-hosted by Poland and the U.S. State Department that was originally supposed to focus on Iran, but the title was later changed to Promoting a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East.
>>Read more: Warsaw summit won't create alliance against Iran, but may embolden Israeli-Arab relations | Analysis
The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a resolution that would end U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the war in Yemen, as many lawmakers sought to push President Donald Trump to toughen his policy toward the kingdom.
It was the first time the House of Representatives has ever supported a war powers resolution, but the 248-177 vote - almost entirely along party lines - would not be enough, however, to overcome Trump's promise to issue what would likely be his first veto.
>>Read more: In Yemen, after four years of catastrophic conflict, is peace finally on the horizon? | Explained
WASHINGTON The Trump administration's plan for peace in the Middle East is once again making headlines after a long absence from the news cycle. President Donald Trump's senior advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are currently in Warsaw to promote the plan, during the international summit on the future of the Middle East. And later this month they will travel to several Arab countries to discuss the plan with respective leaders there.
At the same time, though, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement this week that all but ensures the plan's failure.
Speaking to a group of right-wing and religious-Zionist pundits in Jerusalem, Netanyahu promised that if he wins the upcoming Israeli election (which for now remains the most likely scenario), he will form a religious, right-wing governing coalition and won't offer a partnership to his centrist challenger, Benny Gantz.
The most senior Republican in the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, refused to apologize on Wednesday for a tweet in which he accused three Jewish billionaires of trying to buy the midterm elections.
McCarthy was asked about the tweet, which was criticized for having an anti-Semitic undertone, after he attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, for her tweets about AIPAC. Well, that had nothing to do about faith - that was about Republicans versus Democrats, McCarthy said on Wednesday, in reply to a question from Fox News.
>> Ilhan Omar just doesn't get why Americans support Israel | Opinion - Thanks to Ilhan Omar, U.S. Jews just gor their Jeremy Corbyn moment | Opinion In his tweet from October, which he later deleted but never apologized for, McCarthy wrote: We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. He ended the tweet using the hashtag MAGA - initials for Trump's Make America Great Again slogan.
Rapyd, whose platform lets businesses and consumers pay or be paid by whatever payment method they choose, said on Wednesday it had secured $40 million in capital. The round was led by General Catalyst and Stripe, joined by Target Global, IGNIA and others at a company valuation of $300 million. Using Rapyd's platform, businesses can integrate payments like bank transfers, e-wallets, or cash into any digital application. More than half of all transactions worldwide are done by bank transfer, but merchants find it difficult to complete them. The market opportunity for online merchants, the gig economy, online lenders and banks looking to provide access to funds instantly, is constrained due to the challenges of accepting and making local payment methods and cash transactions, said Raptd CEO Arik Shtilman. Founded in 2015, Rapyd has offices in London, Singapore, Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv and employs 150 people. It plans to add 30 to its payroll. (Irad Atzmon Schmayer)
Mellanox CEO demands Xilinx up its bid to acquire company
Mellanox CEO Eyal Waldman rejected an offer to buy from the U.S. company Xilinx over last weekend, saying he would settle for no less than $125 a share, TheMarker has learned. Investment bankers from Barclays, which is representing Xilinx in the negotiations, arrived in Israel for a meeting they hoped would close the deal but were told by Waldman that Xilinx would not only have to raise the price but increase the cash component of the deal. For now, at least, the talks have been scuttled. Waldman's minimum price is a 24% premium on Mellanox's market cap on the Nasdaq. However, even after its shares have chalked up a 16% rise in the last 12 months, the company still trading at a low 16.1 times 2019 forecast earnings. Thanks to new products, Mellanox enjoyed strong shares growth and increased market share last year and expects a strong 2019. Mellanox was unchanged at $100.75 in early trading Wednesday. (Yoram Gabison)
Bondholders backing alternative to Moti Ben-Moshe for Africa Properties
Is life in Israel better than ever? It depends who you ask, but if you ask the Central Bureau of Statistics their answer is a pretty unequivocal yes. Not only have Israelis' material lives improved, but since 2017 their quality of life has also been enhanced in such areas as environment and personal security.
The figures, which were released by the CBS this week, showed that in the 70 parameters it measures, life in Israel improved in 35 of them. Twenty-five showed no significant change and only 10 were worse.
That caps a long-term improvement: Since 2002, when the CBS began first measuring quality of life, 36 parameters that have been surveyed since the start showed an improvement and just five showed deterioration.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Wednesday unveiled a wide-ranging plan aimed at expanding and subsidizing publicly funded daycare centers for children under age 3.
The program calls for initially issuing monthly vouchers for families that want to register their children in state-subsidized daycare like those operated by WIZO and Naamat and offer discounts for those enrolling in private centers. The result would be monthly costs of 1,200 shekels ($329), about half the average now, meaning families stand to save 15,000 annually per child.
The plan also calls for building more public daycare centers and renovating existing one with the aim of eventually creating enough centers that the government would no longer have subsidize private alternatives.
Contrary to the practice of the security establishment, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week confirmed that Israel attacked two Hezbollah positions in Syria on Monday. By doing so, the prime minister once again violated the policy of ambiguity that Israel has maintained regarding such attacks over the years.
The logic behind this vagueness is that it allows Iran, Syria and Hezbollah to restrain themselves despite the attacks against them. Dramatic headlines would embarrass the leaders of these enemies and force them to respond.
But in the battle for the Israeli electorate, Netanyahu assumes that Israel's military ambiguity serves his political rivals, while headlines that glorify Israel's offensive capabilities under his rule constitute free and effective election propaganda.
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday dismissed a request by an Israeli woman to get pregnant with the sperm of Ari Nagel, an American who has donated sperm openly and at no cost to women all over the world.
The justices accepted the Health Ministry's position that it was forbidden to accept sperm donations from Nagel because the donations are not anonymous and he does not plan to actually parent the children that result. Nagel has fathered 35 children in this fashion, along with the three children he has with his current wife.
The petitioner, a single 42-year-old woman, sought to undergo in-vitro fertilization with Nagel's sperm. In 2017 she contacted the Sperm Bank Medical Center to perform the procedure but was refused, after the Health Ministry legal adviser had determined that the sperm donation was not legal. Nagel had already donated sperm to six Israeli women without the Health Ministry being aware of it since his frequent donations had not yet been publicized.
The family of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who helped save thousands of Jews during World War II, was shocked to discover last month that a memorial grove planted in his memory 34 years ago by the Jewish National Fund had been destroyed to build a residential neighborhood in Beit Shemesh. The sign honoring him had also been removed.
Attorney David Shor, whose father was saved by Sugihara, told Haaretz that he was shocked to the core. As an Israeli, I am ashamed by the way they have disgraced the honor of this Japanese national hero, he said. Shor is working with the JNF to correct the injustice; the JNF has promised to examine the matter and to plant a new forest in his name.
Sugihara, sometimes referred to as the Japanese Schindler, was Japan's consul-general in Kovno, Lithuania, during the war. In the summer of 1940, many Jewish refugees were seeking to flee Lithuania, but the Soviet Union, which had annexed the territory, made leaving conditional on obtaining a transit visa. In violation of his government's orders, Sugihara signed visa after visa to Japan, paving these refugees' way to freedom. He produced 1,600 such visas according to Yad Vashem, although Sugihara himself estimated the number at 3,500. He was transferred just before the consulate was closed in the fall of 1940. For disobeying his government, Sugihara was dismissed after the war.
A Yasur helicopter sits on the helipad, engines roaring, propellers whirling. Inside pilots, flight mechanics and security guards sit waiting. But Benjamin Netanyahu is busy filming a video for Twitter.
I'm about to take off from here, from Jerusalem, to the naval base in Haifa and I would really like to take you with me inside the base, but they have this strange rule you're not allowed to be filmed with soldiers. Who are they? They is the Central Election Committee which banned him from continuing to use IDF soldiers as props in his election campaign. They is the state.
>> Read more: Gantz blasts Netanyahu: Bragging about secret army ops could endanger soldiers - One thing Netanyahu said this week may have killed Trump's peace plan | Analysis
"Let me breathe a little air," said East Jerusalem resident Mohammed (a pseudonym) a few days after being released from over three weeks in jail as the main suspect in a double murder in Jerusalem. On Tuesday, he was released from house arrest and on Wednesday he returned to the Jerusalem District police headquarters, where he had been kept in a cell, after the police located his personal effects.
"From the very beginning, I told them that I had no connection to the murder and they didn't show me any evidence," he told Haaretz. "In the last interrogations they told me they had a testimony from some woman. I told them: That means I'm guilty?' They told me that I'm suspected of murder. Do you know someone from East Jerusalem who is not suspected of something?"
>> Read more: Israeli politics and SpongeBob: Conversations with Palestinian security prisoners
It was only a month after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences declared a new category in the Oscar race last summer that it declared that category dead. The very idea of a separate prize for most popular movie sparked criticism and protest on the social networks, where it was seen as little more than a clumsy attempt to appease fans of Black Panther, who see it as a leading Best Picture contender.
After the dust settled, the academy's president, John Bailey, admitted that the move had been prompted by the faltering ratings of the televised Oscar awards ceremony, which have hit an unprecedented low. There's desire to expand the award to millennials, Variety reported Bailey as saying, at an event in Poland.
In fact this year's Academy Awards competition, which culminates with the ceremony on February 24, is generating renewed interest in several categories, in light of the large representation of women, minorities and foreigners, but also due to the range of genres that received surprising nominations.
The Labor Party chose the next generation of the Zionist left, and in certain aspects it's worse than the far right. At the spearhead stand two ambitious, socially conscious, leftist and superbly ethical young people, do-gooders with a conscience: the promising Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli.
Not since the days of Lova Eliav has Labor had such outstanding examples as these two. Where haven't they volunteered, where haven't they enlisted to help the needy, where didn't they break out in tears in the face of their bitter fate? The two represent that monstrous Israeli invention, that terrifying mutation: Do-gooders on an ethnic basis, fighters for the needy depending on nationality. Compassion for Jews only. To be good in a bad situation by shutting your eyes and acting with moral blindness.
>> Israel's Labor Party just elected a new king and queen | Analysis - Will Labor's vibrant primary be remembered as turning point - or gala on the Titanic? | Analysis
Last week, the police arrested Valery Sakovic, 64, in the 1993 murder of Vardit Beckerknut. Using recent developments in technology, police were able to connect Sakovic to the murder using a DNA sample found at the scene of the crime. Judge David Shaul Gabai Richter extended Sakovic's remand by 10 days on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the Jerusalem District Court rejected the police's appeal against lifting the gag order on the case, allowing the press to report on the proceedings.
The body of Vardit Beckerknut, a 27-year-old photography student who lived in the Judean Hills kibbutz of Kiryat Anavim, was found in the Eshtaol forest near Beit Shemesh in November 1993. Her body showed signs of violence and suspected rape. She had last been seen waiting for a ride from Tel Aviv, and was suspected to have been killed by a man driving a Subaru. Despite extensive efforts over the years, and even though a DNA sample believed to belong to the murderer was collected at the scene, her murderer remained at large for 26 years.
In his interrogation, Sakovic, a Belarusian immigrant and divorced father of two, admitted he was at the scene, but denied any involvement in the murder. He was arrested on the basis of evidence obtained using new technology that did not exist at the time of the murder, recalling the recent solving of the 1998 murder of Noa Eyal. A few weeks ago, police detectives arrived at the Welfare Ministry housing where Sakovic resides and obtained a DNA sample with his consent, which matched the DNA found at the murder scene.
Portraits of a prominent Holocaust survivor that were daubed with swastikas in Paris this week have been restored by the artist who made them.
An unknown person was discovered Monday to have attacked images of Simone Veil, the survivor of Nazi death camps and a European Parliament president who died in 2017. They were painted on mailboxes near a town hall in the southeast of the French capital.
On Tuesday, artist Christian Guemy, who also goes by the name C215, tweeted a photo of the restored images.
A Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates who describes himself as a second-generation Palestinian refugee has apologized for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel social media posts.
This slander campaign is using five-year-old Facebook posts from my impassioned college days, posts that upon my reflection and with the blessing of time, I sincerely regret and apologize for, Ibraheem Samirah said in a statement dated Friday. I am so sorry that my ill-chosen words added to the pain of the Jewish community, and I seek your understanding and compassion as I prove to you our common humanity. Please do not let those who seek divide us use these words out of context of time and place to accomplish their hateful goals.
>> Read more: Thanks to Ilhan Omar, U.S. Jews just got their Jeremy Corbyn moment | Opinion - Ilhan Omar criticized by fellow Democratic lawmakers: 'No place for anti-Semitism'
A former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with revealing classified information as well as research about her former colleagues to representatives of the Tehran government, prosecutors said Wednesday.
A Justice Department indictment charges Monica Elfriede Witt, who defected in 2013 and is currently at large, along with four Iranian hackers who, prosecutors say, used the information she provided to target former colleagues in the U.S. intelligence community.
The indictment says the four Iranians were acting on behalf of the government-linked Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. All four remain at large.
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