Archive for May 2, 2019

Herman Wouk’s “War and Remembrance” – Opening Sequence and titles 

May 2, 2019

On this holocaust memorial day, I would like to recommend my father;s books The Winds of War and War and Remembrance.  They place the destruction of the European Jews in the proper context of World War II.

My father worked on these books for 18 years and any historian will tell you they are the most accurate in history of any and all books written on the subject.

For those who prefer to watch the mini-series based on the books they can both be seen in their entirety on YouTube at the following address:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQOTg1-qdx_-SmLxlg-RERQ

– JW

Sirens wail as Israel remembers victims of the Holocaust

May 2, 2019

Source: Sirens wail as Israel remembers victims of the Holocaust

Marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, ceremonies were to be held in honor of the six million murdered during the Nazi genocide; the names of those perished read aloud in the Knesset throughout the day
Israelis stood in silence while a two-minute siren was heard across the country, in remembrance of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Pedestrians stood in place, buses stopped on busy streets and cars pulled over on major highways – their drivers standing on the roads with their heads bowed.

Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day   (צילום: עמית הובר, מוטי קמחי, יאיר שגיא,רכבת ישראל )

In homes and businesses, people stopped what they were doing to pay homage to the victims of the Nazi genocide, in which a third of world Jewry was annihilated.

Israelis observe 2 minute silence (Photo: AFP)

Israelis observe 2 minute silence (Photo: AFP)

A wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem memorial followed, with Israeli leaders – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin – as well as Holocaust survivors in attendance. Other ceremonies, prayers and musical performances took place in schools, community centers and army bases around the country.

The names of those who perished in the genocide were to be read aloud in the Knesset throughout the day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lays wreath (Photo: AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lays wreath (Photo: AFP)

Rivlin, who also spoke at the “Every Person Has a Name” ceremony in the parliament and read the names of his ill wife’s relatives, murdered by the Nazis.

“Every year we come here to Yom HaShoah and read the names of Holocaust victims,” Rivlin said. “But there are so many names that we will never know, despite the never ending efforts to find them. My wife’s Nechama’s cousins, children, infants, babies who left no name behind. No-one knows their names. They were here, and now have gone. May their memory be a blessing.”

President Reuven Rivlin (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)

President Reuven Rivlin (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)

The annual remembrance is one of the most solemn on Israel’s calendar. Restaurants, cafes and places of entertainment shut down, and radio and TV programming are dedicated almost exclusively to documentaries about the Holocaust, interviews with survivors and somber music. The Israeli flag flew at half-staff.

The Holocaust runs deep in Israeli public consciousness. The state was established in 1948, three years after the genocide ended with the conclusion of World War II, as a place of refuge for Jews across the world. Hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors who had lost their families fled there and made it their home.

According to the Hebrew calendar, Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising – the most significant, yet doomed, act of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust that helped shape Israel’s national psyche, symbolizing strength and the struggle for freedom in the face of annihilation.

The March of the Living goes ahead in Poland, the Auschwitz concentration camp (Photo: Yossi Zliger)

The March of the Living goes ahead in Poland, the Auschwitz concentration camp(Photo: Yossi Zliger)

President Reuven Rivlin touched on the surging anti-Semitism in Europe, which he said “is once again rearing its head, fueled by waves of immigration, economic crises and disillusionment with the political establishment.”In veiled criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu, he urged the government to rethink its cultivation of alliances with nationalist parties in Europe who have anti-Semitic pasts.

Netanyahu has come under fire for embracing a string of eastern European leaders who have lavished Israel with political support while promoting a distorted image of the Holocaust and sought to diminish their culpability while making heroes out of anti-Soviet nationalists involved in the mass killing of Jews.

 

Iran’s Al Qods Brigades and Hizballah on battle alert on day before next US sanctions – DEBKAfile

May 2, 2019

Source: Iran’s Al Qods Brigades and Hizballah on battle alert on day before next US sanctions – DEBKAfile

The day before new US oil sanctions against Iran go into effect on May 2, DEBKAfile reports heightened war preparations by Al Qods units in Iraq and Syria, and by Hizballah in Lebanon.

Iran’s Al Qods Brigades fighters have disappeared from their regular bases in Syria and Iraq – whether having gone to ground in prepared hideouts or scattered across wide spaces to elude possible attack. In Lebanon, Hizballah, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, has replaced the veteran war commanders of its contingents in southern Lebanon opposite Israel with younger men, better able to lead the units which have been recast in new, more mobile array.

Two additional steps by Tehran are revealed here:

  1. The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have called off plans to deploy a line of surface missiles in western Iraq. The plan was to unleash a missile attack on Israel in coordination with a parallel Hizballah barrage from western Syria and Lebanon. There are at least two reasons for cancelling this operation. One is Tehran’s acute shortage of funds, even after slashing the paychecks of serving officers and men. Iran may also have run up against opposition in Baghdad and its reluctance to lay Iraq open to American or Israeli payback.

2. DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources also reveal that Iran has suspended its supply of missile components to Yemen’s Houthi insurgents for them to assemble and arm with precision guidance gear. This is good news for Saudi Arabia, since it means that the Houthis will have to cut down on their surface missile strikes against the oil kingdom’s cities in order to reserve enough for their own use in decisive battles. Once again, Iran may be pulling in its horns because it is strapped for cash. Tehran may have found that in its present dire financial straits it can’t afford to both prepare for a war escalation with the US and Israel and at the same time keep up its military assistance to its Yemeni ally. Another less optimistic theory is that Iran is scraping together those missile components for its own use and that of Hizballah, in readiness for major military confrontations in Syria and Lebanon.

 

Iran: US backs Israel, in no position to declare Muslim Brotherhood terrorists

May 2, 2019

Source: Iran: US backs Israel, in no position to declare Muslim Brotherhood terrorists | The Times of Israel

Tehran FM slams Washington for ‘supporting the biggest terrorist in our region, and that is Israel,’ says Islamic Republic rejects all efforts to blacklist Islamic movement

In this photo from April 24, 2018, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the 72nd High-level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace at United Nations Headquarters in New York. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

In this photo from April 24, 2018, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the 72nd High-level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace at United Nations Headquarters in New York. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

DOHA, Qatar — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday criticized the United States for seeking to blacklist the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.

“The United States is supporting the biggest terrorist in our region, and that is Israel,” Zarif told reporters on the sidelines of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue in Doha.

“Trying to designate others as terrorists, the United States (is) not in a position, theoretically and practically, to start naming others as terrorist organizations,” he said when asked about US President Donald Trump’s bid to designate the Brotherhood as a terrorist group.

“We reject any attempt by the United States in this regard.”

In April, the US declared Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization.

The Brotherhood, a nearly century-old Islamist movement born in Egypt with pockets of support across the Arab world, was designated a terrorist organization by Cairo after the military in 2013 ousted Mohamed Morsi, a democratically elected president with roots in the movement.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. (photo credit: AP/Egyptian Presidency)

Egypt’s then-president Mohammed Morsi, right, meets with Iran’s then-foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, September 18, 2012. (photo credit: AP/Egyptian Presidency)

Placing the Brotherhood on Washington’s list of foreign terrorist organizations would make it a crime for any American to assist the group and would ban from the United States its members, who are active in political parties in several countries.

The terrorist designation would delight Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as well as Saudi Arabia, which despite its ultra-conservative Wahhabi ideology disdains the Brotherhood due to its support for political change in the kingdom, including over Riyadh’s alliance with Washington.

Egypt made peace with top US ally Israel 40 years ago and remains one of the largest recipients of US aid, at more than $1 billion a year.

 

With Shoah speech attacking Iran and NY Times, PM displays post-election resolve

May 2, 2019

Source: With Shoah speech attacking Iran and NY Times, PM displays post-election resolve | The Times of Israel

Three weeks after he won new term, prime minister’s blistering Holocaust memorial address underlines his personal conviction that he is uniquely capable of leading Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 1, 2019 (Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 1, 2019 (Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90)

In a fiery, spellbinding speech of less than 20 minutes on Wednesday night, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showcased the oratorial mastery that helped him win reelection just three weeks ago, and showcased, too, his personal conviction that he is uniquely qualified to lead the Jewish state.

Addressing the nation at the start of the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu delivered an address that built from astonishing stories of Holocaust suffering and heroism, as told to him by a group of survivors with whom he had met on Tuesday, to a resounding assertion of Israel’s legitimacy and denunciation of its critics.

Speaking at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem to a large audience that heard him in absolute silence, and to a nation watching on TV, the prime minister hailed survivors such as Fanny Ben-Ami, who as a 13-year-old led a group of children to safety in Switzerland from France but who turned back when she realized that a three-year-old girl in their group had been left behind in the demilitarized zone. “Fanny went back to get her,” the prime minister marveled; she “zig-zagged under gunfire” to bring the toddler to safety: “An angel of salvation, aged 13.”

He went on to detail visits he has made in recent years to European countries “whose land is soaked with the blood of our brothers and sisters, and where we were turned into human dust,” but that have today become some of Israel’s greatest admirers and supporters. In these lands, he said, “I felt terrible pain at the disaster that befell us,” but simultaneously “immense pride to represent our people, that rose from the ashes in our independent state.”

Unable to protect themselves, millions of Jews in the Diaspora were condemned to their deaths, he recalled bitterly. “In exile, our abysmal weakness doomed us to our fate.” But now, restored to their homeland, the Jews have achieved “a miracle of revival” and their country has become a rising world power.

For all of Israel’s achievements, Netanyahu said, it dare not be complacent in the face of its enemies. This assertion, he insisted, preempting critics who accuse him of whipping up fear among Israelis, was not a case of “artificial scaremongering.” Even the greatest world powers must always be aware of the dangers they face, he noted. Indeed, “awareness of danger is a condition for living.”

The “paradox” of Israel’s revival, he said, was that it has been accompanied by an ongoing rise in anti-Semitism. “The extreme right, the extreme left and extremist Islam,” he said, “agree on only one thing: hatred of the Jews.”

“This hatred is expressed in despicable attacks on worshipers at synagogues, as took place a few days ago in San Diego and before that in Pittsburgh; in the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and in the publication of caricatures and article dripping with hate, even in newspapers considered respectable ” — a reference to last week’s anti-Semitic cartoon in the New York showing Israeli guide-dog Netanyahu leading a blind US President Donald Trump.

A caricature of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump published in The New York Times’ international edition on April 25, 2019, which the paper later acknowledged ‘included anti-Semitic tropes.’ (Courtesy)

Such material was not legitimate criticism, he argued, but “hatred — systematic, poisonous, false — aiming relentlessly to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish nation state.”

As he has done year after year in these annual Holocaust Day speeches, Netanyahu cited Iran as the latest entity seeking to eliminate the Jewish nation, and declared that “Israel will not present its neck for the slaughter.” Rather, it would defend itself, with one of the world’s strongest armies, he said. “To those who seek to wipe us out, I say, precisely from this place: We have returned to the stage of history, to the front of the stage… We have beaten our enemies in the past, and with God’s help we will beat you.”

Netanyahu also hailed Trump for standing with Israel in this battle. Now that the US had withdrawn from the Obama-era 2015 nuclear accord, was sanctioning Iran, and had branded Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terror group, Israel was no longer alone.

Benzion, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

Benzion, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu (Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

Finally, Netanyahu recalled his late father, the historian Benzion, who he said had bequeathed him the imperative to repel existential threats to the Jewish people. The obligation he had received from his father, said the prime minister, was summed up in the command: “Never again.”

Netanyahu spoke not merely with his trademark assurance, but with ferocity. Three weeks ago, he was standing on Netanya beach, wiping away sweat, as he implored Israelis enjoying a day off work for the elections to shake off the sand and go vote for him. His election victory — against the most significant political threat he has faced for years in the shape of ex-IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party — was a triumph of personal will. He threw himself utterly into the campaign, using means fair and sometimes foul, tirelessly pitching for every conceivable vote.

It is not cynical to suggest that he believed he had to win in order to bolster his prospects of escaping the allegations of corruption that threaten him. But Netanyahu also believes he had to win because he is certain that he, and only he, can keep this country safe and thriving in the face of its enemies. Wednesday night’s speech was almost incandescent proof of that.

 

Two rockets fired into Israel from Gaza; Israeli aircraft strike Hamas targets

May 2, 2019

Source: Two rockets fired into Israel from Gaza; Israeli aircraft strike Hamas targets | The Times of Israel

No immediate reports of injuries from rockets; IDF strikes after wave of arson balloons launched into Israel; large bushfire erupts in Eshkol region

Illustrative: Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on March 25, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Illustrative: Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on March 25, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched at least two rockets into Israel early Thursday, the IDF said. Witnesses said the projectiles fell in an open area and no injuries were reported.

The rocket fire came hours after Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas base in the northern Gaza Strip in retaliation for a wave of fire balloons that were launched into Israel from the Strip.

After warning sirens sounded in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, the IDF said it had identified at least two launches into Israel. A spokesperson for the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional council said the rockets apparently landed in open fields and caused no injuries.

Earlier, the IDF said it had struck a Hamas camp in the wake of a spike of fire balloon attacks from Gaza.

“Earlier today, explosive and arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip,” the army said. “In response, overnight, an IDF fighter jet and an IDF aircraft struck a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip.”

Illustrative: An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes is seen over Gaza City, early Friday, Friday, March 15, 2019. Israeli warplanes attacked terrorist targets in the southern Gaza Strip early Friday in response to a rocket attack on the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The IAF strike came after a large brushfire broke out in the Eshkol region of southern Israel on Wednesday night, with suspicions that it was caused by a balloon-borne incendiary device from the nearby Gaza Strip, officials said.

The blaze began in a field between the Eshkol National Park and Kibbutz Urim, spreading throughout the grasslands and into a wooded area, according to Fire and Rescue Department Eli Cohen.

The IDF said it held Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from the Strip.

The fire came amid heightened tensions between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, after a rocket was launched from the coastal enclave, landing several kilometers off shore on Monday night.

Throughout the day, Palestinians launched dozens of incendiary devices, carried by balloons, into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. However, it was not immediately clear if the Eshkol fire was sparked by one of these objects.

A fire rages in the Eshkol region of southern Israel on May 1, 2019. (Tzvika Korbeshi/Eshkol Regional Council)

“At this point, the cause of the fire is not known. We will only know after a check by fire investigators,” a spokesperson for the Eshkol region said.

Three teams of firefighters were working to put out the fire. In addition to the Fire and Rescue Department, firefighters from the Jewish National Fund and from the Parks Service were involved in the effort, the fire department spokesman said.

“The teams are working together to get control over the fire and prevent it from spreading,” Cohen said.

A fire rages in the Eshkol region of southern Israel on May 1, 2019. (Tzvika Korbeshi/Eshkol Regional Council)

Due to the blaze’s location, the firefighters were not able to bring their trucks into the area, requiring them to use smaller, hand-held equipment to battle the flames, the fire department spokesman said.

On Tuesday, a fire broke out near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. That blaze was caused by a balloon-borne incendiary device launched into Israel from Gaza. In recent weeks, such arson attacks have tapered off under the ceasefire brokered by Egypt last month.

That fire was quickly extinguished by a team of volunteers, the fire department said.

An Iron Dome Missile Battery near Tel Aviv on July 15, 2018 (Ben Dori/Flash90)

Also Tuesday, the Israeli military deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries throughout the country, following a rocket attack from Gaza the previous night and ahead of what is expected to be a sensitive next few weeks.

The military expects the coming weeks to be particularly tense, as they will see the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the international Eurovision song competition in Tel Aviv, Israel’s Memorial and Independence days, and the first anniversary of the opening of the contentious US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Following Monday’s rocket launch, Israel scaled back the permitted Gaza fishing zone from 15 nautical miles to six until further notice. The fishing zone had previously been extended to 15 miles — a level that the coastal enclave has not seen in over a decade — as one of the first concessions by Jerusalem under an unofficial ceasefire agreement with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday morning, the IDF said the Islamic Jihad intentionally fired the rocket from the northern Gaza Strip toward coastal Israel the day before in an effort to derail ongoing efforts to maintain the ceasefire.

While there has not been a complete cessation of violence along the Gaza border since the ceasefire went into effect last month, the situation there has been relatively calm.

Terror groups in the Strip have threatened to bring back regular border riots if Israel does not abide by its side of the deal.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.