Israel News for January 31, 2017

Jordan in DC
Yesterday Jordan’s King Abdullah held private meeting with US VP Pence followed by a meeting with US Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon. Among other issues, like the fight against ISIS and the war in Syria, the King discussed the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the proposal to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Trump is expected to greet Abdullah at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday.

Abdullah is the first Arab leader to meet with the new US administration. He will apparently not be meeting with the president. PM Netanyahu is due to meet with Trump on February 15th.

When announcing Netanyahu’s upcoming visit, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters,
“I think that with respect to Israel and the Jewish people specifically, there’s been no better friend than Donald Trump when it comes to protecting Israel, building a better friendship with Israel. You look at what Prime Minister Netanyahu’s talked about: He welcomes this administration. He appreciates the friendship and respect that he has shown to Israel and the Jewish people.”
For further reading click here.

Embassy Move
President Trump discussed the issue of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem in a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said, “We’re studying it very long and hard. You know it’s a very big decision because every president for the last number of presidents, large number, they’ve come in and they were going to do it and then all of a sudden they decide they don’t want to get involved. I’ve always liked the concept of doing it, I will tell you that.”

He also said, “We are doing very detailed studies on that, and we’ll come out very soon. I hate to do that because that’s not usually me — studies — usually I do what’s right. But this has two sides to it; it’s not easy, and I will make a decision over the not-too-distant future.”

Do you think Trump will move the US embassy to Jerusalem?

For further reading click here.

Pathetic Reaction
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the reaction of Jewish groups to the omission of Jews from the Presidents Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, which was apparently written by Jewish aide Boris Epshteyn, “pathetic”. We’ve already said our piece regarding this in yesterday’s issue, so if you want to read more about Spicer’s statement click here.

Bus Crash Heroes
Last week’s tragic bus crash that killed two passengers and injured seven also produced some unlikely heroes. Moments after the Egged bus broke through the barrier and tumbled down a thousand foot cliff, the twelve members of the Azzeh family, a Palestinian family living in a nearby village were rushing down the hill in their pajamas to help.

After calling authorities to report the crash the family members did what they could to help the wounded until rescue teams arrived. Then they worked together with the rescue workers throughout the night.

Jamal, Samih, and other members of the Azzeh family said they didn’t think about the broader political context around them when they went to aid the bus crash victims. “We acted because the victims of the bus crash are people. Our lord does not allow us not to help them. It did not matter that they were Jews – we would have helped anyone.”

Jamal added that he and his wife believe it is important to consider other people’s humanity before anything else. “We grew up with the values of love, tolerance and peace, and we teach our kids these values as well. We gain nothing from despising and hating others.”

The Azzeh family have received numerous phone calls of thanks along with visits from IDF and security officials. The army coordinator’s office also presented them with certificates of appreciation for their heroic actions.

Most of their neighbors have praised their actions, while a small number criticized them for helping Jews.

For further reading click here.

Israel Books
If you’re searching for any book on Israel or the Holocaust, Click here. We get a small commission for anything you buy on Amazon for a full 24 hours after you use the link. In other words, if you end up buying a computer and lawnmower, we get the commission on that too. It’s a great way to support us while getting great deals on your shopping. And it doesn’t cost you a cent! So please use this link for all your Amazon shopping.

Israel News for January 30, 2017

Inexcusable Omission
On Friday the White House released a statement in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day that blatantly omitted any mention of reference to Jewish victims.

The statement read:

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

“Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

“In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”

There is no doubt that millions of innocent civilians were killed during WWII. But the Holocaust was specifically a war against the Jewish People in which millions of Jewish men, women and children were systematically starved, tortured, gunned down and gassed for no other reason than their DNA.

The Holocaust represents a tragedy in which a million and a half Jewish children were torn from their parents, rounded up and marched into gas chambers. No Mr. Trump, this did not happen to any other “innocents”, just to our Jewish innocents.

To separate the Holocaust from the Jewish People is tantamount to Holocaust denial.

We’d like to believe that it was just a careless mistake, despite you Chief of Staff’s attempts to say it wasn’t. We know that you, Mr. President, have Jewish grandchildren that would have been marched into those gas chambers too and so, there’s no possibility that you could knowingly make the sort of statement that you released. But we aren’t so sure that some of the people who now work for your administration, as well as some of those who supported your election, feel the same way and know the truth about the Holocaust.

There can be no diplomatic or policy related reasons for denying the connection between the Holocaust and the Jewish People.

So Mr. Trump, we need you to come out and clearly state that your White House statement was a mistake and that the Holocaust was specifically a war against the Jews. If you can’t do that then we can only assume that you either don’t believe it to be true or you are unable to admit when you’ve made a mistake. In either case, it would be very hard to trust you going forward.

Please do the right thing.

Normalization Bill
PM Netanyahu announced yesterday at the weekly security cabinet meeting that the Normalization Bill, which will legalize Jewish settlements built on land claimed to be owned by Palestinians. Netanyahu said, “Tomorrow we will submit to the Knesset what is being called ‘the normalization law.’ The law is designed to normalize the status of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria once and for all and prevent recurrent attempts to harm the settlement enterprise.”

The bill would legalize about 4,000 housing units in 55 outposts in the West Bank on land that is claimed as privately owned by Palestinians. It would allow the Israeli government to recognize construction built with government assistance and in good faith — meaning the builders did not know it was private land. The bill does not include the Amona outpost.

The bill provides a mechanism for compensating Palestinians whose lands will be seized. A landowner can receive an annual usage payment of 125 percent of the land’s value as determined by an assessment committee for renewable periods of 20 years, or an alternate plot of land if this is possible, whichever he chooses.

Consideration of the bill by the Knesset had been suspended after it passed an initial reading in early December until the start of the Trump administration. Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said the bill violates local and international law and would likely be overturned by the Supreme Court.

The vote is scheduled to be held on Tuesday. The bill is expected to pass.

For further reading click here.

Mexico Tweet
On Saturday night PM Netanyahu decided to show his support of President Trumps wall building plans by tweeting, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.” That did not go over well in Mexico, whose Foreign Ministry stated, “The Foreign Ministry expressed to the government of Israel, via its ambassador in Mexico, its profound astonishment, rejection and disappointment over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s message on Twitter about the construction of a border wall. Mexico is a friend of Israel and should be treated as such by its Prime Minister.”

The Mexican FM summoned Israeli ambassador to Mexico Jonathan Peled for a formal reprimand. The organization representing the Mexican Jewish community issued a statement saying it “forcefully rejected” Netanyahu’s comment, while several prominent Mexicans of Jewish origin sharply criticized the Israeli leader on Twitter.

A spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Emmanuel Nahshon, tweeted shortly after the PM’s tweet that the PM “referred to our specific security experience which we are willing to share. We do not express a position on US- Mexico relations.”

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) criticized Netanyahu for meddling in the affairs of Mexico and negatively effecting the Jewish community there. He asked the PM to tweet an apology, which Netanyahu refused to do, claiming that he wasn’t addressing Mexico at all, but just the wall.

So Deri tweeted his own attempt at diplomacy saying, “I just now spoke with PM Netanyahu on the need to continue warm relations between Israel and Mexico. The PM told me that Israel will not interfere in the dispute between eh US and Mexico on funding the fence. We will continue to strengthen the relations with Mexico in which much of the Jewish people live in dignity.”

By the way, Israeli company Magal Security Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: MAGS) is one of the firms seeking contracts to help build the US-Mexico border wall.

For further reading click here.

UN Chief Attacked
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres came under fire from Palestinian officials for saying the unthinkable: that the Temple on the Temple Mount destroyed by the Romans was Jewish. The nerve!

The Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Affairs minister said that Guterres, “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs and overstepped his role as secretary general…and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.”

Guterres also said, according to Israel Radio, that he had no intention of pushing for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, though he believes in the two-state solution and would assist in that goal if asked.

Ahmad Majdalani, a Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member, said that the statements “undermine the trustworthiness of the UN as a body that should support occupied peoples.”

For further reading click here.

Rabbi Shteinmann
Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, the 104 year old leader of the Haredi community, was hospitalized over the weekend in critical condition. Doctors this morning said that his condition has improved slightly, as prayers continue to be recited throughout the worldwide Jewish community.

PM Netanyahu opened the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday saying, “We are changing today’s schedule a bit on account of Rabbi Shteinman’s illness. I would like to wish him a fast and full recovery. He is a very important man not only in the Haredi world, but also in the Jewish community as a whole, and I join the vast public wishing for his wellbeing and recovery.”

President Reuven Rivlin spoke with Mayanei HaYeshua Medical Center CEO, Rabbi Shlomo Roshiled, and with MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and said, “My prayers go out to this outstanding rabbi of the generation, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman.” He added that “he is in the best hands. Thank you for your kind and devoted care; we will keep him in our prayers.”

May he experience a full and speedy recovery.

For further reading click here.

Kushner Shabbat
Ivanka and Jared Kushner reportedly hosted their first official Shabbat dinner at their new Washington DC home with several very important guests in attendance. The guests included the Department of Commerce cabinet secretary appointee Wilbur Ross and his wife, the PResident’s Strategic Communications Director Hope Hicks, Former president of Goldman Sachs and top economic policy adviser Gary Cohn, Department of the Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin and his partner Louise Linton and Ivanka’s unofficial adviser Dina Habib Powell. Chabad Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the rabbi of their local Orthodox shul, was also seen outside of their home.

To see photos and videos click here.

Holocaust Book
In the spirit of Intenational Holocaust Remembrance Day, here’s a book called Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Polandby Jan Grabowski, which documents the systematic hunt for Jews hiding in with Polish farmers or in the countryside in an area of southern Poland near Tarnow. Most of the hunting was done by the Poles, who then either handed the Jews over to the Germans or simply murdered them themselves. The book is based on actual local government documents and eyewitness testimony. If you want to begin to understand why so few Jews survived in Poland, you must read this. To read more reviews and get the book, click here

If you’re searching for any book on Israel or the Holocaust, Click here. We get a small commission for anything you buy on Amazon for a full 24 hours after you use the link. In other words, if you end up buying a computer and lawnmower, we get the commission on that too. It’s a great way to support us while getting great deals on your shopping. And it doesn’t cost you a cent! So please use this link for all your Amazon shopping.

Israel News for January 27, 2017

Bus Tragedy
An Egged passenger bus (462) traveling from Jerusalem to Ariel yesterday veered off of Route 60 during stormy weather and fell 300 meters (1000 ft.) off a cliff into a ravine near the settlement of Eli. Two men were killed and seven injured. One of those killed was the bus driver, 37-year-old Avishai Kroani from Ariel, a husband and father of five. The other person killed was Ofir Rahmanov, a 23 year old resident of the Ramot neighborhood in Jerusalem.

United Hatzalah volunteer, Michael Chai Cohen, who arrived on scene stated: “We had to walk for 10 minutes in the rain and mud until we reached the bus. We requested helicopters to help evacuate the injured. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we found several victims who were unconscious and without a pulse. Others sustained varying degrees of injuries.”

To see photos of the crash and rescue click here.

Embassy Move
When asked about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump told Fox News today, “I don’t want to talk about it yet. It’s too early.” Apparently it’s a bit more complicated than he thought when he promised, “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March.

Regarding the $221 million that was transferred  to the Palestinian Authority by former President Obama shortly before Trump was sworn in as president, the president said “We’re going to see what happens. I don’t want to talk about it.” But yesterday PA officials announced that they have already received the money, so it’s unclear what Trump could do about it now.

Regarding the importance of repairing the US-Israel relationship, Trump responded,  “It is repaired. It was repaired the minute I spoke to Netanyahu.”

For further reading click here.

Aliyah Drop
In 2016, a total of 27,000 people immigrated to Israel versus 31,000 in 2015, according to Immigration Ministry numbers. That represents a 13% decline in the overall rate of Aliyah. Around 7,000 immigrants were from Russia, 5,500 from Ukraine, 5,000 from France, 2,900 from the US and hundreds from Brazil, UK, Belarus and South Africa.

For further reading click here.

Iceland Flights
Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW Air has requested slots from the Israel Airports Authority for six weekly flights between Ben Gurion International Airport and Icelandic capital Reykjavik. WOW is planning to start the flights in June.

WOW Air hopes not only to encourage tourism between Israel and Iceland but primarily to eat into the lucrative Israel – North America stopover flight market. Passengers traveling from Tel Aviv to Reykjavik will then have the choice of vacationing in Iceland or travelling onto nine locations in Canada and the US: Montreal and Toronto, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

For further reading click here.

Holocaust Remembrance
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945 by the Russian army. The day was designated by the UN in 2008.

As part of Holocaust Remembrance Day I’d like to share the story of my own family.

My father’s family lived in a small town called Mosciska in Eastern Poland, which is today part of the Ukraine. The town had around 2,500 hundred Jews, about half of the entire population, included scores of our relatives.

Not long after the Nazis occupied Mosciska in the summer of 1941, they launched an aktzia to roundup the Jews, most of whom were deported or murdered. My father, who was then 8 yrs old, hid in the fields along with his older sister and mother. My grandfather hid in the forest, but was captured by a farmer and taken to the train station. Luckily, the train had already left and he ended up being released. The family moved into the ghetto along with all of the remaining Jews.

At that point my grandparents decided to send my father away to hide with a Christian woman in a city in central Poland. There he posed as her nephew for over two years. Meanwhile, my grandmother’s uncle and his son had gone into hiding (after his wife and other children were murdered) with a Polish farmer in the area. He arranged for another farmer, who had been employed by our family, to hide them.

To make a very long story very short, for the next two years my grandmother and grandfather, along with their daughter (my aunt), and my grandfather’s two single brothers, hid in a barn behind a secret wall they constructed. Unlike most Jews who attempted to hide in Poland and the Ukraine, they survived.

After liberation they picked up my father and went on to build a new life in America. Other than one of my grandmother’s sisters who survived in a labor camp with her husband, where she gave birth to her first child, and my grandmother’s uncle and his son, the rest of our very large family perished in the Holocaust.

My mother was just 2 yrs old when the Nazis attacked Warsaw in 1939. My grandparents decided to flee the city. They ended up in Uzbekistan with thousands of other Jewish refugees. My grandfather joined the Polish People’s Army (communist). He fought on the front lines to help drive the Nazis out of Poland. After the war they returned to Poland where they lived for over 10 years until immigrating to Canada. Other than one of my grandfather’s six brothers and one of my grandmothers sisters, their entire families perished in the Holocaust.

May the memories of the millions of martyrs be blessed and remain with us forever.

Holocaust Resistence
In commemoration of Intenational Holocaust Remembrance Day we wanted to recommend an excellent book called Isaac’s Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Polandby Matthew Brzezinski, that recounts the gripping story of Jewish resisitence in the Warsaw Ghetto and afterwards through the eyes of several fighters. To read more reviews and get the book, click here

If you’re searching for any book on Israel or the Holocaust, Click here. We get a small commission for anything you buy on Amazon for a full 24 hours after you use the link. In other words, if you end up buying a computer and lawnmower, we get the commission on that too. It’s a great way to support us while getting great deals on your shopping. And it doesn’t cost you a cent! So please use this link for all your Amazon shopping.

israel news terror raid

Israel News for January 26, 2017

IDF Operation
An IDF paratrooper was seriously injured last night after an explosive device was hurled at security forces conducting operations in the Jenin Refugee Camp to arrest two wanted Hamas activists. The soldier is being treated Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where his condition is improving.

In a separate overnight operation, security forces conducted a sweep in which nine wanted Palestinian suspects were arrested in the West Bank and a workshop containing 8 weapons-producing machines was raided in Hebron.

For further reading click here.

Lebanese Spies
Lebanese security forces announced yesterday that they uncovered a five member spy cell that was working for Israel. Reports say two of the cell members were born in Lebanon, two are from Nepal and one is a Palestinian refugee. The five admitted to transferring information during phone calls with people affiliated with the Israeli embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Britain and Nepal. The five suspects are set to be arraigned as authorities attempt to make further arrests in the case.

For further reading click here.,7340,L-4913157,00.html

New Construction
On Tuesday PM Netanyahu and DM Lieberman announced their approval of permits to build 2,500 housing units in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). Almost all of the units will be inside major settlement blocs including 902 in Ariel, 652 in Givat Ze’ev (just outside Jerusalem), 154 in Oranit, 112 in Ma’aleh Adumim, 78 in Alfei Menashe, 21 in Efrat, 18 in Elkana, 87 in Betar Illit and 4 in Gush Etzion. An additional 385 units are earmarked for settlements in the Shomron regional council and 86 units for the Binyamin regional council.

The announcement came two days after the Jerusalem Municipality granted permits for 560 new units in Ramot, Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramat Shlomo, all neighborhoods in east Jerusalem (beyond the Green Line).

The US had no reaction to the announcements, The UN discussed the matter but took no action in the Security Council. Germany and France both condemned the new construction. The EU also condemned the new construction saying that it, “further seriously undermine the prospects for a viable two-state solution. It is regrettable that Israel is proceeding with this policy, despite the continuous serious international concern and objections, which have been constantly raised at all levels. Continued settlement expansion, illegal under international law as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334, goes directly against long-standing EU policy and the recommendations of the Quartet Report. A negotiated two-state solution is the only way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties and to achieve enduring peace.”

Meanwhile, Lieberman said that, in parallel to these moves, he will present plans for security cabinet approval to establish a Palestinian industrial zone near Tarkumiya, south of Hebron, which will be one of the largest industrial areas in the territories.

For further reading click here.

Missile System
Israel and the US have successfully completed tests of the David’s Sling missile defense system, which is designed to stop long-range rockets, drones and cruise missiles. The system is intended to supplement the Iron Dome system, which targets short-range rockets, and the Arrow system for long-range ballistic missiles.

For further reading click here.

Syrian Refugees
Interior Minister Arye Deri recently approved a humanitarian plan under which Israel will absorb around 100 child refugees from Syria. To read more about the details of the plan, click here.

Jerusalem Biography
If you want to learn the history of Jerusalem from a book that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end, you must read Jerusalem: The Biographyby Simon Sebag Montefiore. It’s the kind of book that you’ll read more than once and keep on your shelf as a go to reference. I personally love it. I think you will too. To read more reviews and get the book, click here

Israel News for January 24, 2017

Obama’s Gift
According to an AP report, the Obama administration released $221 million of aid to the Palestinian Authority last Friday, just hours before the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Congress had initially approved the Palestinian funding in budget years 2015 and 2016, but at least two GOP lawmakers — Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — had placed holds on it over moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated.

The Obama administration had for some time been pressing for the release of the money for the Palestinian Authority, which comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development. According to the notification sent by the administration to Congress informing them that it would release the funds on Friday, the funds will be earmarked for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, to support political and security reforms and to help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state.

Quite a farewell gift.

For further reading click here.

Embassy Move
In a meeting with Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi at a conference of Mediterranean countries in Spain yesterday, European Union Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini stated that the EU countries will keep their embassies in Tel Aviv, despite Trump’s promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Whether the US will actually move the embassy has not yet been determined.

For further reading click here.

Giuliani in Jerusalem
Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is part of a White House team responsible for strengthening the US governments cyber security, arrived in Israel today. Giuliani is traveling to Israel for his law firm, Greenberg Trauring, and while there he is expected to meet with Netanyahu.

For further reading click here.

Government Pot
The Ministries of Agriculture and Health will provide NIS 8 million in funding for 13 medical cannabis studies. The studies, which will be financed through a fund operated by the chief scientist unit, will deal with biochemical and medical aspects, as well as improving medical cannabis crop yields.

The Ministry of Agriculture today said that funding the studies was a pioneering step for Israel that could enable researchers to conduct basic and applied research for five years, during which tools and infrastructure would be developed to facilitate the next generation of cannabis plant products for medical use.

Among the biochemical and medical studies approved by the Ministries of Agriculture and Health are identification and specification of new ingredients in strains of medical cannabis, the use of cannabis and its effect on vision, involvement of cannabis in the development of colon cancer, treatment of multiple sclerosis using cannabis, the use of cannabis to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, and a test of the plant’s ability to delay the development of harmful bacteria.

The 13 cannabis studies to receive state support will be conducted by drug companies, universities, research institutes, and hospitals. Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel said, “The program shows that agriculture is important in all aspects of life.”

For further reading click here.

Road Fatalities
After the fatal car accident that killed four people in northern Israel Monday, Giora Rom, the head of the Israel National Road Safety Authority said that Arab drivers in Israel are the cause of the high rate of road deaths in the country. He said, “The problem here is wild driving that hikes up the high percentage of casualties in the Arab sector.” He added that, “they are 20% of the population in Israel but accounted for a third of road deaths in 2016 and half of all deaths since the new year.”

For further reading click here.

Jerusalem Biography
If you want to learn the history of Jerusalem from a book that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end, you must read Jerusalem: The Biographyby Simon Sebag Montefiore. It’s the kind of book that you’ll read more than once and keep on your shelf as a go to reference. I personally love it. I think you will too. To read more reviews and get the book, click here

Israel News for January 23, 2017

Trump and PM
President Trump and PM Netanyahu spoke on the phone yesterday. The President invited Netanyahu to meet in early February. According to a White House statement regarding the call, “The Prime Minister expressed his desire to work together with President Trump on their shared vision to promote peace and security in the region without having gaps between the US and Israel. The two leaders discussed the Iranian deal, the peace process with the Palestinians and other issues.”
The White House said that the two “discussed ways to advance and strengthen the special relationship between the United States and Israel and the security and stability of the Middle East. The President emphasized the importance the US places on close military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and binding partnership between the two countries.”
The statement also mentioned that the two “agreed to continue to discuss regional issues closely, including the Iranian threat,” and that President Trump once again confirmed the US’s unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security and stressed that the fight against ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups is a top priority for the US government.
According to the statement, “President Trump stressed that a Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement can only be achieved through direct negotiations and the US will work closely with Israel to achieve this goal.”

No mention was made of the promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the security cabinet voted unanimously to postpone a vote on the annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim until after the PM’s meeting with Trump.

For further reading click here.

Embassy Move
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement yesterday regarding the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem that, “We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject.” White House sources said no announcement of an embassy move was imminent.

During his presidential campaign Trump promised to move the embassy. So did Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. But despite a law passed by Congress in the 1990’s, no President has yet to do so, despite their promises. Doing so apparently has ramifications that they believed to be detrimental to US policy and interests in the region. Will Trump, who clearly articulated a policy of “America First” at his inauguration, make the move even if he decides that it will harm US political and economic interests?

If Trump determines that in order to fulfill his promise of eradicating radical Islam from the face of the earth, the US requires the cooperation of “moderate” Moslem countries to form a united coalition to fight ISIS and other terror groups, could he decide that moving the embassy will damage that opportunity and not be the best thing for America?

Does “America First” equal “Israel First”?

War Crimes
Knesset Member Tzipi Livni, who in previous governments served as Foreign Minister and Justice Minister, has cancelled a planned trip to Belgium, where she was supposed to attend a conference on security for Jewish communities. The cancellation came after an announcement by a federal prosecutor in the Belgian Justice Ministry that Livni would be detained and questioned in connection with war crimes charges upon landing in Brussels.

For further reading click here.

IDF Social
The IDF has released a new guide for soldiers on how to use social media, in the wake of recent attempts by Hamas to hack the phones of soldiers. In a video a soldier explains how he was fooled by a Hamas operative using a fake Facebook profile: “She sent me a message on Facebook. We spoke a lot over a few days. She said she was a prison guard, and I told her I was in the army. Then she asked me to download this chat app so that we could talk more. I downloaded it, but it did not work. I tried to reach her again on Facebook, but she didn’t answer.”

The chat app was actually a spy tool used to collect information and track location even when the phone was turned off. While the IDF claims that no material intelligence damage was caused by the hacking of dozens of soldiers, the potential for major security leaks is huge. For example, since phones have GPS tracking, it’s very possible for sensitive military locations to be revealed.

Hopefully, soldiers will now be more careful with whom they “friend” and what they download.

For further reading click here.

Shiva Call
PM Netanyahu visited the Belzer Rebbe, who is sitting shiva for his mother. The PM spoke about how his faith is the foundation that keeps him strong. Te Rebbe blessed the PM and his wife.

To view photos and a video click here.

Shark Warning
If you’re planning to go swimming near Hadera in northern Israel, you should reconsider. Around 150 bull and sandbar sharks have been spotted in the area.

To watch video click here.

Jerusalem Biography
If you want to learn the history of Jerusalem from a book that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end, you must read Jerusalem: The Biographyby Simon Sebag Montefiore. It’s the kind of book that you’ll read more than once and keep on your shelf as a go to reference. I personally love it. I think you will too. To read more reviews and get the book, click here

Israel News for January 20, 2017

Embassy Move
The incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer held his first news conference yesterday during which he told reporters to “stay tunes” for details on Trump’s plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. He said, “There will be a further announcement on that. The president has made clear that Israel has not gotten the respect it deserves.”

Spicer said that Trump had been consulting with his choice for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on whether to make the move.

Friedman is the only one of the three who has publicly stated his desire to move the embassy. Do Kushner and Tillerson agree?

Would moving the embassy immediately be a good negotiating tactic in what Trump has called the toughest negotiation ever, or would the mere threat of moving it be a more powerful tool to pressure the Palestinians into making a deal?

Regarding Kushner’s potential to succeed at his new role as Senior White House advisor with a special focus on the Middle East, Trump addressed Kushner saying, “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can. OK. All my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal in the world to make. And I’ve seen it, but I have a feeling that Jared is going to do a great job.” [Looks like Trump is feeling some “nachas”]

If you’re wondering what the leftist academics think about Trump and his Jewish advisors and supporter, here’s what Columbia University Professor of Modern Arab Studies Rashid Khalidi recently said:

“So they have a vision whereby the occupied territories aren’t occupied, they have a vision whereby there is no such thing as the Palestinians, they have a vision whereby international law doesn’t exist, they have a vision whereby the United States can unilaterally cancel a decision in the United Nations.

And unfortunately, these people infest the Trump transition team, these people are going to infest our government as of January 20. And they are hand in glove with a similar group of people in the Israeli government and Israeli political life who think that whatever they think can be imposed on reality.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians participated in PA sponsored demonstrations against the planned embassy move in Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron.

For further reading click here.

Better Travel
Traveling between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem just got a lot easier and safer with the opening of the new Harel Tunnels on Highway 1. The road, which connects Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is infamous for its extreme curves and traffic congestion. The new tunnels, which run under the city of Mevasseret Zion and the most dangerous stretch of road, will hopefully change that.

At a ribbon cutting event PM Netanyahu said, “The Harel Tunnels that we are inaugurating, together with a bridge that eliminates the dangerous curve, which they called the curve of death — and with the train that will soon run on these tracks — all these will provide a boost for Jerusalem.”

According to estimates by the Transportation Ministry, the tunnels and bridge are expected to cut travel time from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to about 30 minutes (from about 50) if there is no traffic congestion. [That’s a big if.]

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Must See
Israeli artist Shahak Shapira has created a unique online collection of images called “Yolocaust”, which communicates a clear and shocking message. The photos are of people taking selfies at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. But when you mouse over the image, something happens. Instead of explaining it to you, you need to see it for yourself. Click here.

Israel Books
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Israel News for January 19, 2017

New Missile System
After years of research and development, the Ministry of Defense Homa Administration (Israel Missile Organization), part of the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, and the US Missile Defense Agency delivered the first new Arrow 3 advanced air defense system interceptors to Israel air force air defense units.

The Arrow 3 can intercept ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads while they are still in outer space. That means if someone (like Iran?) launches a nuclear missile at Israel, the Arrow 3 can intercept and destroy it before it reenters the atmosphere, thus avoiding any damage or fallout from the explosion. In the event that the Arrow 3 misses, the Arrow 2 missile defense system will kick into action and get the job done. Of course, there’s always Iron Dome as a last resort.

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Funeral and Protest
Hundreds attended the funeral of Sgt. Maj. Erez Levi, the police officer who was killed in yesterday’s terror car ramming attack in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. Levi leaves behind a widow and two small children.

Police were in the village to carry out demolition orders on several illegally built structures when the terrorist rammed his car into them, killing Levi and injuring 5 others including another police officer and an Arab MK. The terrorist was shot and killed. Several Arab MKs participated in the protest and violence against police in Umm al-Hiran.

Many Arab communities have called a general strike today to protest the demolitions. The Arab Monitoring Committee also announced three days of mourning as an expression of solidarity with the family of the car rammer, claiming that he was not a terrorist but just someone killed intentionally by police.

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Trump Forgets Not
Donald Trump spoke to Yisrael Hayom reporter Boaz Bismuth in Washington yesterday who asked him, “You haven’t forgotten your promise about the embassy in Jerusalem?” Trump replied, “Of course I remember what I told you about Jerusalem. Of course I haven’t forgotten and you know I’m not a person to breach promises.“ Trump added, “I can’t wait to start working with Israel. At the end of the week the relationship between us begins in earnest.”

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PA Vacation
If you’re using the travel website to plan your next vacation getaway to Israel, you might end up in Palestinian territory. That’s because several luxury hotels in the Palestinian Authority are getting rave reviews on the site.

One of the leading PA hotels is Movenpick, a 170 room five-star hotel in Ramallah, which received a near-perfect rating of 9.6 from the website. The rating weighs indices such as cleanliness, service, diversity of facilities and services, and meals.

Another five star Ramallah hotel, the Palestine Plaza, received a 9.0 rating. It’s 100 rooms are located on the 15th to 20th floors of the tallest building in the PA.

If you’re looking for a more pilgrimage oriented experience, the Jacir Intercontinental, a five-star hotel in Bethlehem, rated 8.9. The 250-room hotel offers its guests a tennis court, heated swimming pool, spa, and nightclub.

A night in one of these hotels can run you anywhere from NIS 440 to over NIS 1,000 per night. Tourists are coming from abroad as well as from Israel.

Apparently things aren’t as bad as you think in the PA.

[But I’d recommend sticking with Tel Aviv and Jerusalem over Ramallah and Bethlehem, for so many reasons…]

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for January 18, 2017

Ramming Attack
A Bedouin, believed to be a member of the Islamic Movement terror group, rammed his car into police early this morning in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel. Israeli police officer Sgt. Maj. Erez Levi, 34, was killed. Five people were wounded including another policeman and Arab MK Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List party. The terrorist was shot dead.

The police and security forces had arrived at the village to carry out demolition orders against several illegally constructed homes. Residents of the village also fired on the police, who returned fire. Police described the attack as similar to the one in Jerusalem last week, where a terrorist rammed his truck into soldiers.

For further reading click here.

Stabbing Attack
Last night a terrorist holding a knife charged at soldiers manning a checkpoint near Tulkarm. The soldiers from the Home Front Command’s Shahar Battalion warned him to stop. When he did not, the battalion’s deputy commander, a major, shot at the terrorist and killed him.

To watch a video of the attack click here.

Ma’aleh Adumim
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) announced in the Knesset that the Ministerial Committee on Legislation will debate a bill, on Sunday, to annex Ma’aleh Adumim. The city of over 37,000, considered to be a settlement, is located just minutes to the east of Jerusalem along Highway 1 in the West Bank (Judea).

Right-wing lawmakers believe there is enough support in the Knesset for its passage, given that the government and many Israelis hold that Ma’aleh Adumim will be part of Israel’s final borders in any final status agreement with the Palestinians. The debate on the annexation bill taking place days after the inauguration of Donald Trump is no coincidence.

But will Trump support annexation? Does it fit into his negotiation strategy? Is pushing the issue just days into his new administration such a good idea?

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Brazil Approves Ambassador
After a year and a half without one, Israel finally has an ambassador in Brazil. The Brazilian government approved Israel’s appointee Yossi Shelly, a close confidant of PM Netanyahu. Brazil refused to endorse Israel’s original appointee, Dani Dayan, because of his history as a settlement leader. Dayan is now serving as Consul General of Israel in New York.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement following Shelly’s nomination, saying that it marks a new chapter in the two countries’ relationship, and that the nomination is sure to strengthen their ties in the fields of trade and commerce.

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Traffic Fines
The Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee approved an order yesterday to increase punishments for serious crimes, including traffic violations. Drivers who run a red light will now be fined NIS 1,500. However, failing to yield to pedestrians will only cost drivers NIS 250. Last year 376 Israelis died in traffic accidents. Will stricter fines help?

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Israel News for January 17, 2017

New Law
The Knesset yesterday passed a law that recognizes verdicts by military courts in the West Bank as admissible evidence in legal procedures in Israeli civilian courts. This is expected to Israelis much and time and money when suing Palestinians in Israeli courts, who have already been convicted in military courts in the West Bank.

Opposition members blasted the new law as the first step in annexing the West Bank. The Attorney General had also warned that the law could have severe international repercussions as it could be a violation of international law.

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Drone Crash
An IDF Skylark drone crashed in southern Lebanon yesterday, near the Israeli border. The IDF is investigating the circumstances of the malfunction that caused the drone to crash. The Lebanese army is searching for the drone.

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Corruption Scandals
There are several investigations and potential investigations into various corruption allegations relating to PM Netanyahu. The PM denies all of the allegations and nothing conclusive has been made public by police, nor have nay charges been filed. So until there’s something conclusive to announce, we’re going to leave this whole affair on the back burner. No sense speculating about things that might not be true, right?

Car Share
The Tel Aviv municipality is getting into the car rental business…sort of. The municipality announced today a plan for a car-sharing venture called Autotel in which 260 cars will be distributed around the city and will be available to be rented by the minute.

Autotel will be a subscription service available any Israeli resident or tourist. Tel Aviv residents will get a special digital card that will give them automatic discounts on usage fees.

The service will be ordered through a special app that will display to the subscribers a list of the available vehicles in their proximity, and enable them to order a car up to 15 minutes in advance. Monthly subscriber fees will be NIS 40-50. The per-minute rate has not yet been set, but the municipality said that it would be 30-40% cheaper than taxi rates.

Subscribers will receive an electronic card that will open the cars. Another option is to type a code in the app. The car can be taken from where it is parked and parked at a another location in the city, in contrast to current carsharing ventures, which require that the vehicle be returned to the location from which it was taken.

The municipality will allocate 520 special parking spaces. The cars will also be allowed to park in spaces on the city streets with blue and white markings and even in space reserved for people living on that street.

A telephone assistance center will operate 24 hours a day to handle any technical problems with the service or the cars. The service will be available in Hebrew and English.

For further reading click here.

Jonah Tomb
Did you know that the what is traditionally believed to be the tomb of the biblical prophet Jonah is located in the Iraqi city of Mosul? In 2014 ISIS blew up the shrine when they conquered the city. Now Iraqi forces have retaken the tomb in their offensive to reconquer Mosul. According to the biblical account, Jonah travelled to Nineveh, which is located on the outskirts of Mosul, to warn its residents to repent. Apparently, they could use a refresher.

For further reading click here.

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