Archive for April 19, 2019

Shot fired at Israeli troops from Gaza; IDF strikes Hamas posts in response

April 19, 2019

Source: Shot fired at Israeli troops from Gaza; IDF strikes Hamas posts in response | The Times of Israel

No one injured in exchange, which comes as unofficial ceasefire agreement between Israel and terror group said to advance

An Israeli Merkava battle tank near the border with the Gaza Strip near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz in southern Israel, March 15, 2019 (Jack Guez/AFP)

An Israeli Merkava battle tank near the border with the Gaza Strip near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz in southern Israel, March 15, 2019 (Jack Guez/AFP)

A gunshot was reportedly fired at Israeli troops serving along the Gaza border on Friday, prompting a number of retaliatory strikes against nearby Hamas positions, the Israel Defense Forces said.

No injuries were reported on either side.

The IDF said the soldiers were targeted while at the security fence. According to outlets in the Gaza Strip, the incident occurred east of the Gazan city Deir al-Balah.

A short time later, an Israeli tank and aircraft targeted two Hamas observation posts along the Gaza border, the army said.

“An IDF aircraft and tank attacked two military positions belonging to the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip in response to a shot that was fired a short time ago at troops near the security fence,” the IDF said.

The fire came as troops were gearing up for the weekly protests and riots along the Gaza border that have been held almost every Friday for more than a year.

The exchange also came amid ongoing efforts to implement a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

On Thursday, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said Israel had agreed to lift restrictions on importing many “dual-use” goods into Gaza as a part of the understandings with terror groups there.

For the past several years Israel has heavily restricted the entry of products that it labels “dual-use,” meaning that they can be used for both civilian and military purposes. Palestinians in Gaza have long been required to receive special permits to import goods that Israel categorizes as dual-use.

“We extracted from the occupation the lifting of the restrictions and the ban…on 30 percent of these materials,” Hayya told the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV in a long interview late Wednesday.

Hamas senior political leader Khalil al-Hayya during a press conference at the end of two days of closed-door talks attended by representatives of 13 leading political parties held in the Egyptian capital Cairo on November 22, 2017. (AFP/Mohamed El-Shahed)

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, a Defense Ministry body responsible for liaising with Palestinians, declined to confirm or deny Hayya’s comments.

“We do not respond to foreign reports,” COGAT said in an email.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to respond to a request for comment.

According to a World Bank report that was issued on Wednesday, there are 118 goods that Israel classifies as dual-use in relation to Gaza and 56 to the West Bank. Those pertaining to Gaza include several chemicals, machinery including drilling equipment, jet skis and many other materials and products.

The report said World Bank estimates found that “easing dual-use restrictions could bring additional 6 percent growth in the West Bank economy and 11% in Gaza by 2025, compared to a scenario with continued restrictions.”

Hayya also warned that if Israel did not abide by the recent ceasefire understandings, Palestinians in Gaza would renew launching incendiary and explosive-laden balloons into the Jewish state, nighttime protests in the border region between the Jewish state and the coastal enclave, and other measures.

Palestinian protesters hold balloons before loading them with flammable material to be flown towards Israel, at the Israel-Gaza border in the central Gaza Strip on June 14, 2018. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

“[Israel] not abiding….would mean the rough tools would return. Everything and more than the rough tools would return,” he said. “We say that we will not accept the siege staying in place.”

“Rough tools” refer to the launching of incendiary and explosive-laden balloons into Israel and other activities along the border, which have included setting off small explosions, lighting tires on fire and pointing lasers at IDF soldiers.

Since early April, the launching of balloons and nighttime protests have essentially been halted.

Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar recently brokered ceasefire understandings between Israel and Hamas, which Hebrew media reports have said include an end to violence emanating from the Gaza in exchange for the Jewish state easing some of its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.


100 families to celebrate seder in Warsaw Ghetto for first time since 1943

April 19, 2019

Source: 100 families to celebrate seder in Warsaw Ghetto for first time since 1943 | Jewish News

Chief rabbi of Chabad Poland will host historic Passover meal in the Polish city at the heart of what was once the Jewish ghetto

Jewish prisoners in the Warsaw Ghetto. Picture Credit- Muzeum Getta Warszawskiego

Jewish prisoners in the Warsaw Ghetto. Picture Credit- Muzeum Getta Warszawskiego

For the first time since Nazi troops stormed the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 to kill or deport its residents, 100 Diaspora Jewish families are to celebrate a Passover Seder at the site.

Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler, the chief rabbi of Chabad-Poland, will host the special Seder in the heart of what was formerly the Warsaw Ghetto with Jewish families from Israel, Europe and the US.

It is being held 76 years to the day since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out on 19 April 1943, the eve of Passover, when Nazi German troops stormed in. They had expected the deportation process to last three days, but were ambushed by Jewish rebels.

Stambler said it would be “a magnificent show of spiritual triumph, families of Ghetto survivors celebrating the Jewish festival of redemption together”.

Among those flying in will be Yosef Nachum and Nakmi’a Ben-Shem (previously Feldschuh). Their daughter Sharon described how her aunt – child prodigy Josima Feldschuh, the celebrated young pianist of the Ghetto – died on 21 April 1943, just before her 14th birthday, while in hiding.

“Her very last meal took place the prior evening, the Seder night of 1943,” she said. “This year, we will be joining the Seder in Poland together with her family. We will be in her city, precisely on the day that she passed away.”

Rabbi Shalom Stambler and his son Yossi , who will lead the seder in Hebrew

She added: “It is deeply meaningful to us to be celebrating Passover together as free Jews in a place where so many, including our own family, perished tragically.”

Other guests include members of the Spielman family, whose uncle Vlaidslav was a world-famous pianist, and Albert Stankovski, director of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, which is currently being constructed by the Polish government.

“Before the war, approximately one third of Warsaw was Jewish,” said Stankovski. “Commemorating pre-war Jewish Warsaw and celebrating the growth of the current Jewish community is of the utmost importance to us. The Passover celebration is a vital part of this process.”

The Warsaw Ghetto Museum will be housed in the historic building of the former children’ hospital established by Jewish families Bersohn and Bauman as a clinic for children of all faiths. The exhibition at 60 Sienna Street will open on the 80th anniversary of the Uprising.

The communal Passover Seder, which will initially be divided into three – given in Polish, Hebrew and English – is Rabbi Stambler’s latest effort to rejuvenate the community and spread awareness of Jewish identity and Jewish life in Poland.

Among the young Lubavitch rabbis travelling to Poland for the event is Rabbi Levi Goldschmidt, a great-great grandson of Rabbi Tzvi Hersch Gur-Aryeh, a Jewish dignitary in Warsaw before the war. Gur-Aryeh was killed in the Ghetto on Pesach, hours after covertly baking matzah.

Stambler, whose 13-year old son Yossi will lead the Seder in Hebrew, said: “It is very significant for us to be celebrating Jewish holidays, and particularly the Seder night, which symbolises Jewish freedom and the day that we united as a nation, in a place that not long ago others sought to destroy us.”


The Right’s victory over the leftist media

April 19, 2019

Source: The Right’s victory over the leftist media –

In Jerusalem, I saw many people, women and men, religious and secular, young and old, rejoice at the Likud election victory party. Attendees understood that the Blue and White party was an invention of the media, which had 3-D printed the slogan “Anyone but Bibi” to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

At the Likud victory party in Jerusalem this week, I saw many people, women and men, religious and secular, young and old, rejoice. The revelers’ cheers were mainly an expression of the Right-wing’s victory over the leftist media. Attendees had internalized that the Blue and White party list was an invention of the media, which had 3-D printed the slogan “Anyone but Bibi” to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Channel 12 reporters Guy Peleg and Amnon Abramovitch have continued the election campaign as if it was not democratically decided by Israel’s citizens. The election failure creates new energies, which produce familiar headlines from days past.

Former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak has written more than once that the court has no sword or purse, but it does have the public’s trust. There is sometimes a sense of a dispute over the definition of the word “public.” The Israeli Left has already proved numerous times that in its opinion, the public, which it sees as a herd of ignorant, troublemaking, reckless fools, is of no importance to modern liberalism. It is only the “progressive and enlightened public” that is deserving of attention and appreciation. In the eyes of the judicial elite, the public is the “legal community,” which includes judges, lawyers, academics and commentators that serve as the link between the court and the masses.

In recent days, we received an instructive lesson on how the collaboration between the judicial elites and those under their command in the media operates. As soon as the possibility Likud party member Yariv Levin would be appointed justice minister was raised, Peleg railed against the move, claiming he could not fathom Netanyahu would give him the portfolio with the knowledge “his affairs are expected to be heard in court.” A sharp message that warned it would not be wise to appoint a contrarian minister unwilling to align itself with the judicial system’s takeover of the activities of government authorities. Levin’s possible appointment was immediately and crudely compared to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s appointment of Professor Daniel Friedman to the role of justice minister.

I did not laugh when Abramovitch joked that the significance of Levin’s appointment would be another year in prison for Netanyahu. This was the darling of the judicial elite issuing an explicit threat at Netanyahu. Now the only thing missing from this story is for them to try to frame Levin. We’ve seen this before. The judicial elite knows how to frame appointees and thwart appointments of those they do not hold dear. Former Supreme Court Vice President Elyakim Rubinstein joined the “gevalt” campaign against the appropriate and important trend of decentralizing government power among the authorities, as is accepted in enlightened states.

The power accumulated by the Supreme Court and its representatives in government authorities fractures the foundations of democracy. Justices are supposed to resolve conflicts and protect the minority from the oppression of the majority. Israel is one of the only democratic countries in the world in which a majority needs protecting from the usurpation of the minority, which under the auspices of the court, tries to lead society without having been elected to do so.

The issue of the judicial system’s growing power is also given intense expression in the fundamental constitutional issue of the immunity of public officials. In 2005, following the double votes in the Knesset, the law that grants Knesset members immunity was amended with remarkable speed. The amendment allows the attorney general to file an indictment against a member of Knesset directly with the court, without the need to first remove the immunity, at their own discretion. This genuinely harms and significantly distorts the immunity of lawmakers, immunity that is essential to their ability to carry out their mission.

The significance of the amendment is that lawmakers do not have immunity unless they ask to activate it while also detailing the reasons they require the immunity. In a majority of enlightened democracies, including France, England, Canada, the Scandinavian states and many others, it is law enforcement that must convince parliament to remove immunity, and not the other way around. The issue of lawmaker immunity should be re-examined, in particular at a time when the balance between the government authorities in the country must be restored. Leaders were elected to lead, attorney generals to serve as legal advisers and judges to judge.

The Passover holiday is an expression of freedom out of unity. May we be able to eliminate the bitterness and together, out of fraternity and friendship, exhaust all of the good and beauty that exists in our lives in the Land of Israel. A very happy holiday indeed.


והיא שעמדה – That which stood for our ancestors​ applies to us as well 

April 19, 2019

From the Passover Hagadah.

Happy Pesach!

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְלָנוּ, שֶלֹא אֶחָד בִּלבָד עָמַד עָלֵינוּ לְכַלוֹתֵינוּ, אלא שבכל דור ודור, עומדים עלינו לכלותנו, וְהַקָדוֹשׁ בָּרוּך הוּא מַצִילֵנוּ מִיָדָם.

That which stood for our ancestors​ applies to us as well. For it was not only one individua​l who stood up against us to destroy us. Rathe​r, in every generatio​n they stand up against us to destroy us. But the Holy One, Blessed Be He, redeems us from their hands.

–  JW

Right from Wrong: A Passover tribute to President Trump

April 19, 2019

Some of the cynics among us, tend to throw in a few digs at the dinner table about how we wouldn’t need so much saving at the last minute if divine intervention had kept us from needing it.

By Ruthie Blum
April 18, 2019 20:38
US President Donald Trump. (photo credit: REUTERS)

According to an old joke that never wears out its welcome, the theme of all Jewish holidays is: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”

On Passover, this humorous description is fine-tuned to include a quip about how the Israelites have been freed from Egyptian bondage only to become enslaved in the kitchen, after spending weeks obsessively scrubbing the house to rid it of any vestige of a breadcrumb or other leavened item.

There is, of course, a serious purpose to Passover and other Jewish holidays: to express gratitude to God for rescuing us – his “Chosen People” – from annihilation at the hands of our endless enemies.

Some of the cynics among us, and there are many, tend to throw in a few digs at the dinner table about how we wouldn’t need so much saving at the last minute if divine intervention had kept us from needing it in the first place. This complaint is best expressed in the common Jewish wisecrack – uttered while looking heavenward – “Hey, could you choose somebody else for a change?”

Comedy aside, it is completely understandable for Jews to feel war-weary, particularly as a people who prefers the pen to the sword. But, being as stupid as we are smart, our response to this form of malaise is to turn our pens on one another and fear the world’s wrath whenever forced to use our swords. No wonder God gets so exasperated.

Luckily, such frustration has not been exhibited by the administration in Washington. Indeed, since assuming office in January 2017 – after being rejected and ridiculed by a majority of Jewish voters – US President Donald Trump proceeded to implement one stunningly pro-Israel policy after another.

This was especially surprising, considering the claim on the part of his detractors that he was actually an isolationist. The slogan “Make America Great Again,” his opponents said, was code for “Keep America out of the World’s Business.”

Equally amazing was his immediate grasp that guaranteeing Israel’s security and well-being is consistent with and a boon to American interests. His predecessor, Barack Obama, certainly didn’t see it that way. Unless maybe he did, in some convoluted fashion. After all, his hostility to Israel stemmed from the same poisonous root as his dim view of the United States. Not that US Jews seemed to notice. Or care.

Which brings us to another joke, this one Israeli, which circulated widely in 2012: “If Obama personally nuked Tel Aviv before the election, the Jewish vote in America would go down to 70%.”

What was not amusing in the least, however, was Obama’s second victory. His abominable treatment of both America and Israel was even worse.

It was thus that conservative Jews (in the political, not religious, sense) cast their ballots for Trump, the “anybody but a Democrat” candidate. One thing that was obvious to these apparently unlikely backers of someone like him was that whatever else the New York real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star turned out to be, it couldn’t be worse for America and Israel than Hillary Clinton and her party of progressives.

Still, it was a gamble. For better or worse, Trump had never been in politics. Opting for a novice to become the leader of the Free World felt a bit risky.

On the other hand, early in his first term, Obama actually told a group of Jewish leaders, “When there is no daylight [between the US and Israel], Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs.”

He also boasted about “leading from behind,” and announced that the United States was no different from other countries; certainly not superior to them.

At least Trump was vowing to reverse course. He pledged to wrest America from the throes of policies that were turning it into a global laughing stock, and promised to have Israel’s back.

So, in spite of his assertion that he could succeed at brokering a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority where all previous US administrations had failed, right-wing Jews voted for him anyway.

It should be noted that this is not why he won the election. Jews may loom large in the eyes of antisemites, but we are a tiny minority everywhere other than in Israel. And even in the Jewish state, we number only a few million.
Clearly, none of this mattered to Trump. He had an agenda and ran with it, naysayers be damned. Or blessed, as Israel would turn out to be with him in the White House.

In December 2017, less than a year into his presidency, Trump announced that his administration was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. His UN ambassador at the time, Nikki Haley, then vetoed a Security Council resolution denouncing the move and calling for the recognition to be rescinded.

On May 8, 2018, Trump canceled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 nuclear deal with the Iranian regime that never stopped enriching uranium or spinning centrifuges, while testing long-range ballistic missiles and threatening to wipe Israel off the map.

A week later, on May 15, the US Embassy in Jerusalem was officially opened. The same day, the US blocked a UN Security Council statement calling for an independent investigation into the deaths of Palestinians along the Israel-Gaza border, caused during violent weekly protests spurred and funded by Hamas. This is because the Trump administration rightly accepted Israel’s version of events, which was that the killings had been committed in self-defense.

On June 1, the US vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for “international protection” for Palestinian civilians. The Trump administration clearly understood that the only Palestinian “civilians” in danger are those attacking Israelis with knives, Molotov cocktails, rocks and rockets.

On August 31, the Trump administration confirmed that it would cease funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) over its anti-Israel activities and perpetuation of a false refugee problem.

On September 10, the Trump administration closed the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington and subsequently revoked the visas of the PLO envoy and his family members, forcing them to leave the US.

On September 17, the Trump administration cut $10 million of funding for bogus “conflict resolution” programs aimed at bringing about reconciliation between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, and for Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Last month, in mid-March, in its annual global human rights report, the US State Department replaced the word “occupied” with “Israeli-controlled” in its reference to the Golan Heights. The significance of this change in language became apparent on March 25, when Trump signed a presidential proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the territory. This week, the US administration published an official map reflecting the new reality.

Whether something similar is in the works for Judea and Samaria remains to be seen, but in the same State Department report, the word “occupied” was also removed from references to the West Bank. Nor did the Trump administration express disapproval with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for promising, during his reelection campaign, to extend Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in that area.

Meanwhile, last week, Trump designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization.

At the Passover Seder this evening, Jews around the world will be singing “Dayenu,” each verse of which recalls an additional act of God’s kindness to the Children of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt. The point is not simply to thank him for these acts, but to acknowledge that every one of them – in and of itself – is so great that it would have sufficed.

It would be both blasphemous and ridiculous to compare Trump’s behavior to God’s. Still, many Israelis have been drawing a bemused Dayenu parallel in relation to the US president’s policies toward the Jewish state.
How could we not?

This is not to say that no cynics lurk among the pro-Trump Israelis. You know, the ones who cannot stop worrying about the contents of his “deal of the century.” These people suspect that the many and varied carrots Trump has provided the Jewish state thus far are probably a precursor to a very large stick.

Waiting for the other shoe to fall is a Jewish affliction, but in this case it is unwarranted, regardless of the details of the peace plan. Nothing that the Trump administration has done to date suggests that Israel will be blamed for the Palestinian intransigence that is certain to continue.

We’re winning. Let’s eat.

76 Years Ago: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

April 19, 2019



What is Freedom?

April 19, 2019