Archive for the ‘Israel’ category

The Palestinian grinch that stole Christmas once again

December 25, 2017

The Palestinian grinch that stole Christmas once again | Anne’s Opinions, 24th December 2017

The Palestinian Authority has a nasty habit of taking out its rage against Israel on its Christian citizens. They have done it before and this year the Palestinian grinch is stealing Christmas once again, as Lahav Harkov explains:

It came as no surprise that the Palestinian leadership responded angrily to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the obvious reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

But beyond the usual “day of rage,” rockets shot at Israeli preschools and firebombs thrown at passing Israeli civilians’ cars, the Palestinian Authority decided to make like the Grinch and steal Christmas, only proving that Trump was right not to fold to the whims of the side that has a pattern of violating religious freedoms, when it comes to a city holy to three religions.

Bethlehem, thought to be Jesus’ birthplace, and Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital, turned off their Christmas lights within an hour of Trump’s announcement.

Business is slow in Bethlehem

In Nazareth, the town where Jesus is thought to have grown up, now the largest Arab city in Israel, the Muslim mayor scaled back Christmas celebrations in identification with the Palestinians.

And ahead of US Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to Jerusalem this week, now postponed, Adeeb Joudeh, the Muslim man whose family has held the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for generations, announced that he wouldn’t let Pence, a devout Evangelical Christian, enter.

This tactic of protesting by denying Christians their Christmas celebrations reaffirms that Trump did the right thing in declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital, and for his administration to say last Friday that it envisions the Western Wall within Israeli Jerusalem in a final-status deal.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claims that he is a defender of Christian Arabs in areas under his control. He repeatedly said that Jerusalem is a Muslim and Christian – but not Jewish – holy city in his speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation last week.

But the Palestinians’ track record, even before putting a damper on Christmas this year, should leave Christians skeptical.

In 1950, the Christian population of the Bethlehem area was 86%, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Today, it’s only 12%, and Christians are only 2% of the Palestinian population, even though they were more than twice that a generation ago. The situation in Gaza, controlled by the terrorist group Hamas, is even worse. When Hamas took control in 2006, there were 6,000 Christians, and as of a year ago, there were 1,100. In Israel, the Christian population has stayed mostly stable at around 2%, growing by about 5,000 in the past 20 years.

Christians have been fleeing Palestinian-controlled territories, and it’s easy to understand why, in light of their systemic abuse. In 2002, terrorists affiliated with Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat raided and trashed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, holding monks hostage in the church, leading to a standoff with the Israeli Army. One of the Palestinian leaders of the raid later said they chose the church as a combat base intentionally in order to put make Israel look bad.

In Gaza, Palestinian Christians have been murdered for their faith, including Rami Ayad, a leader of the Gaza Baptist Church and the manager of the area’s only Christian bookstore. The church has been commandeered by Hamas for combat, because it’s one of the tallest buildings in Gaza City.

After all that, the Palestinian leadership still claims that they are the best choice to control Christian holy sites.

Since Israel liberated the Old City in 1967, people of all religions are free to visit and worship in Jerusalem’s holy sites. This follows the verse in Isaiah used in Jewish prayers that says God’s “House,” meaning the Temple, “will be called a House of prayer for all nations.”

In fact the only religious discrimination in Jerusalem is that faced by the Jews!

The exception is the Temple Mount, which, while under Israeli sovereignty, is administered by an Islamic Trust, as a condition of Israel and Jordan’s peace treaty. Non-Muslims are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount, even though the site is holy for all three major monotheistic religions. The rule is strictly enforced, and people have been thrown out for violating it.

The solution is obvious – obvious to anyone except the UN and its warped institutions:

No matter what the city will eventually look like, all of the above is overwhelming evidence that Israel is the right choice to control the heart of Jerusalem – the Old City – because only Israel is willing to protect the religious freedom of Jews, Christians and Muslims who call it holy.

RJ Streets, blogging at Israellycool, provides a poignant look at Bethlehem under the diktats of Mahmoud Abbas and his decision to cancel Christmas in protest at Trump, comparing it to last year’s celebrations:

Business was reported slow last year. It must be even slower so far this year, with calls for protests before Christmas in Bethlehem, using Jerusalem as the latest excuse.

And listen to the voice of Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli Christian, who tells us the truth about the treatment of Christians in Israel and under the Palestinian Authority:

Last minute update: The Nazareth festivities have been reinstated due to public pressure:

Let’s just keep in mind the sequence of events:

The Muslim Palestinians are angry at the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, i.e. the Jewish capital. So in revenge, they cancel Christmas.

They don’t cancel Ramadan or Eid. They don’t cancel Chanukah. They cancel Christmas. Because Jews. Or because America. Or because they are bigoted supremacist supercessionists. Take your pick. Any one of the above, or all, are correct.

 

Senior Abbas Advisor: We Won’t Stop Fighting for Palestine Until It is ‘Purified of the Impious Existence of Jews’

November 12, 2017

Senior Abbas Advisor: We Won’t Stop Fighting for Palestine Until It is ‘Purified of the Impious Existence of Jews’, BreitbartDeborah Danan, November 12, 2017

AP/Muhammed Muheisen

Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali of India’s Telangana said that witnessing the “Jews’ atrocities against Palestinians” makes one “understand why Hitler carried out the massacre of Jews.”

“In Hitler’s words, wherever Jews lived, they created conflict,” he said.

*********************************

TEL AVIV – Palestinian martyrs will not stop fighting for Palestine until it is completely purged of the Jews, a senior religious adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared at a recent conference held in India.

Other Arab diplomats – including Syria’s Ambassador to India – accused Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians and said Hitler’s motive for killing Jews was thus understandable.

The aim of the October 29 conference, which took place in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, was to express solidarity between Indians and Palestinians, MEMRI reported. In addition to Palestinian officials, the day-long conference was attended by delegates and ambassadors from Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen, among others.

Chief Sharia Justice and religious affairs adviser to Abbas, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, made a speech in which he declared, “Every Palestinian will continue the struggle till the complete freedom of Palestine.”

“Those who started the movement for the freedom of Palestine took a pledge, while leaving this world, from the next generation that it will continue this struggle until the land … is purified of the impious existence of Jews,” he said.

“Yasser Arafat, Amin Al-Hussein, and many martyrs like them fought for the freedom of Palestine till the last breath of their lives,” he added.

Habbash continued by slamming Britain for its role in the establishment of the State of Israel.

“Britain is responsible for Israel’s occupation supremacy on Palestinian land,” he said. “This year, on November 2, 2017, the British government is celebrating 100 years of the Balfour Declaration. The world of humanity should condemn this.”

Habbash extolled the United Nations for giving “Palestine” full status.

He also said Israel was “stunned by the Intifada movement of Palestinian youths.”

“It cannot bear the stones of Palestinian youths. Allah will help Palestinians, will deliver them justice,” he added.

Syrian Ambassador Riad Kamil Abbas also addressed the conference, saying that the fight against Bashar Assad’s regime was also a fight “against Palestine.”

“Syria considers the Palestinian problem its own problem, and that of the Arab world. Those who have conspired against Palestinians are the same people who are active against Syria,” he said.

He added that Israel’s “atrocities” towards the Palestinians were “a crime against humanity, genocide.”

Abbas added that the Islamic State terror group was created by the West.

Iraqi Ambassador Fakhri Hassan Al-Issa told the conference: “Iraq has always been a supporter of the Palestinian cause and has been supporting international efforts against Israel’s cruel occupation to succeed.”

Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali of India’s Telangana said that witnessing the “Jews’ atrocities against Palestinians” makes one “understand why Hitler carried out the massacre of Jews.”

“In Hitler’s words, wherever Jews lived, they created conflict,” he said.

The conference organizers – part of an NGO called the Indo-Arab League – offered free land for a Palestinian consulate in the city. According to Indo-Arab League Chairman Syed Vicaruddin, the consulate will help strengthen “relations between India and Palestine and facilitate Muslims wanting to visit Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.” Vicaruddin also announced a cultural hall to be established “in memory of Palestinian martyrs.”

U.S. Islamists Promote Nationwide Protests Despite Israeli Concessions

July 28, 2017

U.S. Islamists Promote Nationwide Protests Despite Israeli Concessions, Investigative Project on Terrorism, July 28, 2017

(Their cause for anger is not Temple Mount but the existence of Israel. — DM)

In solidarity with Palestinian factions and terrorist groups, pro-Palestinian Islamist organizations in the United States are gearing up for more anti-Israel protests today, even though the original cause for their anger has been rescinded.

Israel removed metal detectors Tuesday which were installed near an entrance to Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque in response to a deadly July 14th terrorist attack. Terrorists managed to smuggle their guns into the mosque the morning of the attack. Yet Israel’s acquiescence has not silenced its main detractors.

Still, rallies planned throughout the country are being pushed by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Jewish Voice for Peace. Similar gatherings last week featured harsh anti-Israel rhetoric.

In a published set of talking points, AMP claimed the removal of metal detectors “doesn’t mean that the sanctity of the Noble Sanctuary is guaranteed, nor that Israel will not try other methods in the future to alter the status quo in the Aqsa mosque.”

This message builds on years of false Palestinian claims that Israel is keeping Muslims from praying at the mosque.

The metal detectors were installed only after Palestinian terrorists attacked and killed two police officers.

U.S.-based Islamist figures and groups are even challenging Israel’s right to install additional surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount – the compound that houses the mosque and site of the last Jewish temple. While enhanced surveillance measures often follow terrorist attacks, any action to improve Israel’s national security – no matter how minor – is met with a disproportionate anger from groups opposed to Israel’s existence in any form.

AMP held an “All Out for Al Aqsa” rally last Saturday in Times Square, featuring speakers who called for Israel’s destruction and radical chants from the crowd.

“You [Israel] are a hypocrisy state that will eventually be, will eventually go away. Israel will not last long,” said AMP-New Jersey president and national board member Sayel Kayed.

The rally featured similarly threatening chants made in Arabic.

“With life, with blood/we sacrifice for you Al Aqsa” and “the gate of Al Aqsa is of iron [Hadid], no one can open it but a martyr [Shahid].” These chants, translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), show how U.S. Islamist groups cultivate an atmosphere where terrorism and violence against Israel is openly encouraged.

“There is only one solution; Intifada, revolution… “Long live the Intifada”.

Other anti-Israel student groups are joining the fray. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (UIUC) posted a statement on Facebook last Friday inciting violence, the Algemeiner reported.

“Long live the Intifada!,” the group exclaimed, adding in Arabic “Long live resistance,” words commonly invoked by anti-Israel activists referring to violent uprisings and terrorism against Israel.

The growing anti-Israel hysteria permeated the Islamic Center of Davis in California July 21, when American imam Ammar Shahin delivered an anti-Semitic sermon.

“Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh Allah, destroy those who closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque…Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them,” preached Shahin, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports.

Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Nihad Awad did not comment on the Shahin sermon. But he did urge all imams to talk about the issue, saying “Israeli occupiers are suppressing religious freedom in #Jerusalem.”

Again, this is purportedly over metal detectors and security cameras following a deadly terrorist shooting.

CAIR’s St. Louis chapter organized a march last Sunday that cast metal detectors and security cameras as a “siege” of the mosque and featured chants of “free Al-Aqsa.”

CAIR’s Georgia chapter is co-hosting an anti-Israel event, with the far-left Jewish Voice for Peace outside the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta.

AMP alerted its network to additional nationwide protests, including today at noon outside the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C. There is also a planned demonstration the same day in downtown Chicago at 4:30 p.m. and in New York City. On Sunday, a “March for Al Aqsa” is scheduled to take place at the Wilshire Federal Building in Los Angeles at 3:00 p.m.

U.S.-based Islamists are joining Palestinian factions from across the political spectrum who continue to call on Palestinians to protest against Israel on Friday.

For the second straight week, Hamas has called for a “day of rage” while Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah incites violence by encouraging its supporters to “intensify”confrontations with Israeli authorities throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem. Abbas went a step further on Wednesday and gave the green light for Fatah’s Tanzim terrorist group to organize mass demonstrations on Friday.

On July 14, the Muslim Brotherhood led the way with calls for an “Islamic Intifada” – a violent uprising – against Israel following the day’s deadly Palestinian terrorist attack.

“The Muslim Brotherhood calls upon the sons of the Islamic Umma (nation), its Ulema (Muslim religious scholars), figures and blocs for an Intifada in order to stop the (alleged Israeli) violations of holy sites…,” the Brotherhood wrote on its official Arabic-language website and translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

The Brotherhood admitted its main motivation for “our intended uprising” is to “pressure all Western governments, Arab regimes and international organizations to intervene to stop violations by gangs of the Zionist entity…”

Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups in the U.S. are heeding this call, organizing nationwide protests, inciting violence, and seeking to pressure the U.S. government into forcing more Israeli concessions.

The Israel-India renewed friendship

July 7, 2017

Good News Friday Part I – The Israel-India renewed friendship | Anne’s Opinions, 7th July 2017

The visit this week of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first ever official visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel, is too important to relegate to a small item in a regular Good News Friday post, so this week you shall receive a double portion (just like the Manna in the wilderness 😀 )

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel’s welcome of Modi was almost ecstatic. Not only the Prime Minister and the government, but the people of Israel too were delighted with the visit of this remarkable man. The warmth between the two nations was expressed right from the start, on Modi’s descending from his plane onto the tarmac. Watch just the first minutes of PM Modi’s (25 minute long) video to understand:

As Modi said:

Israellycool’s Aussie Dave remarks on Modi’s choice of clothing:

But there is even more to the level of respect and affection than meets the eye. The Times of India explains that even PM Modi’s fashion choice was meant as a tribute to Israel.

He wore a white suit with a blue handkerchief to represent the colours of Israel. What a beautiful gesture! What a mensch!

As to the substance of the visit, Vijeta Uniyal, writing at Israellycool, gives us some more background to the visit:

With bilateral relations at all-time high, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a 3-day visit to Israel today. Prime Minister Modi becomes the first ever sitting Indian premier to visit the Jewish State.

Developmental issues such as agriculture technology and water management will be high on agenda during the historic visit that marks the 25 years of bilateral diplomatic ties. Both countries are expected to sign an agreement setting up a $40 million innovation fund to finance joint research in agriculture, water, energy and technology during the prime ministerial visit.

“In the last few years the world has seen the India Israel relationship come out from the perception of just Defense related activities to showcasing a fantastic connection in agricultural, educational, entrepreneurial & cultural cooperation. It’s these new areas which are making this bilateral a model for the rest of the world to follow.” Rishi Suri, senior international affairs editor at Indian newspaper Daily Milap, told Israellycool.

Vijeta Uniyal wrote another piece at Legal Insurrection on Israel and India’s newly upgraded ties during the historic visit:

“Narendra Modi receives extraordinary welcome as he begins path-breaking visit to Israel,” noted Indian financial daily Economic Times. “The personal chemistry and the warmth between Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was apparent in their remarks and their hugs.” The newspaper noted the significance of the visit that goes beyond the impressive personal rapport that both world leaders have managed to forge:

Behind the overt affection and friendship, lies deep political significance as India for the first time has delinked its relationship with Israel from its traditional support to Palestine. But, India now hopes to leverage its relationship with Israel to attract more investment, and gain from Israeli cutting-edge technology and defence.

“Investments to boost tourism, education and cultural ties and building bridges with the Indian diaspora in Israel can help boost ties between the two countries,” wrote the leading Indian business daily Mint. “Indeed, these are the low-hanging fruits in the bilateral relationship that can be plucked right away.”

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu on Modi’s arrival in India

“Red carpet welcome done, PM Narendra Modi gets down to business in Israel today,” reported the Indian news channel NDTV. “Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who usually meets visiting heads of government for a meeting and over dinner or lunch meeting, will accompany PM Modi to most engagements.”

On a historic visit that started with firm handshakes, hugs and a smattering of Hindi and Hebrew, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get down to business today with back-to-back meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders that will focus on cooperation on defence, security, water and more. Apart from the multiple pacts that the two strategic partners are expected to seal at Wednesday’s meetings, the two leaders are also expected to deliver a strong message against terrorism in their joint statement. Both leaders had yesterday spoken in one voice to resolutely combat terrorism and radicalism.

India-Israel partnership in the field of start-up alone has a revenue potential of $25 billion, projected NASSCOM, the association of Indian IT companies. Indian daily Financial Expresspublished the excerpts of a report compiled by NASSCOM and consultancy firm Accenture:

Revenue worth USD 25 billion can be generated in India and Israel through cumulative cross- border investment into start-ups in these two countries, a joint report by Nasscom and Accenture today said. The report titled ‘Collaborative Innovation: The vehicle driving Indo-Israel prosperity’ noted India and Israel’s innovation ecosystems share unique innovation complementary traits in three areas — temperament, talent and technology.

The reaction in India to Narendra Modi’s visit was surprisingly very positive across all sectors of the country, even among their large Muslim minority as Vijeta Uniyal reports:

In a stunning display, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel received favourable coverage from across the Indian media landscape. The Indian Prime Minister was in Israel on a 3-day visit, first ever by an Indian premier.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit lays “the foundation of a new chapter in relations with Israel,” commented the country’s leading business daily Economic Times. Both countries took “historic steps towards a new engagement,” wrote newspaper Hindustan Times. Like many Indian newspapers, The Hindu described the visit as “ground-breaking” and noted the “extraordinary welcome” Indian leader received in “the Jewish nation.”

“In reorienting India’s foreign policy, Narendra Modi is responding to history and realpolitik,” commented the often left-leaning Indian news website, FirstPost.

“It is time Muslims rethink their idea of Israel,” wrote the Indian-Muslim commentator Tufail Ahmad. “Muslims in India must keep in mind that their success lies in India’s prosperity. As India makes rapid progress, the fruits of economic development and growing educational opportunities will inevitably reach Muslims as well. However, India’s economic progress lies in its strong security partners: Israel and the US.”

There were prominent voices in support of Prime Minister’s visit, even within the main opposition Congress Party. The former Deputy Foreign Minister Shashi Tharoor praised Prime Minister Modi’s diplomacy on Israel. “[This] shows our relationship has reached a level of maturity which makes it possible for us to contemplate first ever PM visit [to Israel],” Tharoor said.

SwarajyaMag, India’s leading centre-right magazine with a young readership, praised Prime Minister Modi’s diplomatic initiative, urging the government to “disassociate itself completely from the Palestinian question” and seek greater strategic cooperation with Israel. Ahead of Modi’s visit, the publication was blunt in its assessment of India’s foreign policy, stating “[the Visit] does not upend India’s decades-long policy by betraying a tilt towards the Jewish state.” Criticising India’s track record at the UN and other international fora, SwarajyaMag wrote:

A truly historic moment would be if India were to disassociate itself completely from the Palestinian question – it is not as if it has contributed in any meaningful way all these years. The issue does not affect India and is best left to the concerned parties to resolve, much as India insists on Kashmir. If India’s voting at international fora were to shift to reflect this new position, such a move would give Israel much diplomatic room to manoeuvre.

Of course there was whining from the Palestinian camp, but that is hardly news. It would only be newsworthy if they had welcomed such a visit.

As for Israel, PM Modi’s visit and the deepening of bilateral relations has very important implications on the diplomatic front. Firstly, it shows that Israel can improve foreign relations even in the absence of a peace process, as Raphael Ahren writes in the Times of Israel:

But amid all the compliments paid and deals struck, perhaps most striking about Modi’s historic visit were the things that weren’t mentioned. Iran — a close Indian ally — for example. The Islamic Republic’s ongoing destabilizing actions in the region and continuous calls for Israel’s destruction were not raised, or at least not publicly.

In meetings with world leaders, even those with good relations to Tehran, Netanyahu usually doesn’t shy away from talking about Iran. Last December in Astana, for instance, he asked Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to send a message to Tehran. “Ask … why Iran continues to threaten us with annihilation. Don’t you understand: we’re not a rabbit. We’re a tiger,” he said.

Hosting Modi, Netanyahu refrained from belligerent statements directed at Tehran, despite the fact that Iranian terrorists were responsible for a 2012 terror attack in New Delhi, during which an Israeli was wounded. India never made any arrests in this case.

More importantly, the Palestinian issue was entirely absent from Modi’s visit. The Indian leader’s intention to separate Delhi’s friendship to Israel from its support for the Palestinians was evident once it emerged that Modi would visit Israel but skip the Palestinian Authority. But it was even more remarkable that in several speeches Modi made in Israel, he never cited the issue.

In a two-page joint statement the governments of Israel and India released Wednesday, the two leaders dedicated but one of 22 paragraphs to their discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. “They underlined the need for the establishment of a just and durable peace in the region,” the declaration read. “They reaffirmed their support for an early negotiated solution between the sides based on mutual recognition and security arrangements.”

The premier of India — a state which in 1947 opposed the UN Partition Plan and, 65 years later, supported granting the “State of Palestine” nonmember state status at the UN General Assembly — did not endorse Palestinian statehood once during his time here. He did not mention the two-state solution or the principle of two states for two peoples.

Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post similarly notes that Narendra Modi spent over two days in the country – and never once mentioned the Palestinians, nor did he visit them.

But one of the most refreshing aspects for Netanyahu was certainly that Modi did not publicly lecture or hector about the Palestinian issue. Had he come here and not coupled his visit with a quick trip to Ramallah to see Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that – in Netanyahu’s eyes – would have been enough.

But Modi did even more than that. He didn’t even mention the Palestinians in public. He didn’t slam Israel for the settlements. And in the joint statement carefully drawn up by both sides spelling out the underpinnings of the relationship, the Palestinians were not mentioned until the 20th clause of a 22-clause document.

And even there, India – which was the first non-Muslim country in 1987 to recognize “Palestine” – spoke only generically about a “just and durable peace in the region,” without explicitly calling for a two-state solution.

Netanyahu had to wish that all his guests – especially those from Europe – behaved like Modi.

Why? What happened? How come Modi, whose country for decades was at the forefront of championing the Palestinian cause, did not even give the issue public lip service while here.

There are many reasons, some having to do with how Asians do business, others with how Modi prepared the ground for the trip, and still others dealing with India’s emerging power and status in the world.

First a word about style. India, unlike many of the European countries, does not like “megaphone diplomacy.”

One of the reasons, the officials said, is that India detests when other countries lecture and hector it about its fraught relationship with Pakistan, an indication New Delhi has internalized – at least when it comes to Israel – Hillel’s famous dictum about not doing to others what is hateful to you.

Secondly, Modi could get away with making this a strictly bilateral trip because he carefully prepared the ground for it.

Elected in 2014, there was talk that he would come to Israel already in the summer of 2015. He didn’t. He waited. He first went to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and Iran, where he obviously explained the nature of India’s relationship with Israel, and that improved ties with Israel would not come at their expense.

He also invited PA President Mahmoud Abbas to New Delhi in May, publicly supported a Palestinian state, and pledged that India’s historical support for the Palestinians would not waver.

In other words, he got all his ducks in a row before making his historic trip to Israel, something important from an Indian perspective considering that more than seven million Indians live and work in the Persian Gulf.

One of the reasons often given in the past for the brakes the Indians put on the relationship with Israel, was that a high-profile relationship would infuriate India’s Muslims.

It doesn’t.

India’s Muslims did not take to the streets when it became clear Modi wanted to visit, they didn’t raise a hue and cry. One conclusion is that the resonance of the Palestinian issue on the Muslim- populations in non-Arab countries is not as great as is often imagined. Another conclusion is that with all the turmoil in the Middle East, with the hundreds and thousands who have died in the region since the Arab Spring, the Palestinian issue has simply dropped as a priority issue.

If only other countries could learn from India and follow their lead, how different would the world, particularly the Middle East, look today.

And lastly, some highlights from PM Narendra Modi’s visit via the ToI link above:

The three-day visit was brimful with grand gestures — including plenty of Modi’s trademark hugs — and mutual declarations of love and admiration. Modi’s jam-packed itinerary comprised political talks with the government and the leader of the opposition, and secret talks on improving counter-terrorism coordination. There was an emotional meeting with an 11-year-old Jewish boy who lost his parents in the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. Modi addressed a Bollywood-infused concert/rally for Israelis with Indian roots. And after paying his respect to the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, he spontaneously visited the nearby grave of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl.

A floricultural center named a flower after him, and he took a stroll with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the beach. The photos of the two leaders, their bare feet in the water as they chatted about Israeli desalination techniques, will go down in history as one of the most iconic images to come out of Israel since Netanyahu and Barack Obama took off their suit jackets at Ben Gurion Airport in March 2013.

 

Watch the two leaders at the beach. 🙂

 

On the economic front, too, the visit will have an impressive lasting impact. Israel and India established a $40 million Industrial R&D and Innovation Fund, and individual companies from both nations signed deals worth millions. Jerusalem and Delhi signed seven bilateral agreements, covering technology, agriculture, water and even space research. “We already agreed that the sky is not the limit because we’re doing it in space, but I think that the talents that we have in India and Israel are amazing and the possibilities are amazing,” Netanyahu said Thursday at the launch of the Israel-India CEOs’ Forum.

Modi formally invited Netanyahu to visit India, something the Israeli leader had dreamed about for years.

On a more serious note, in a very moving and emotional moment , Modi met with Moshe Holzberg, the little boy who was saved by his Indian nanny during a terror attack in Mumbai in which his parents, Chabad emissaries Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holzberg Hy’d, were killed.

The 11-year-old son of Chabad emissaries who were murdered in a 2008 jihadist rampage in Mumbai told visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he loves India and wants to return to complete the mission of his slain parents, during an emotional meeting Wednesday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C-L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C-R) meet with Moshe Holtzberg (C), and his nanny Sandra Solomon and with other relatives at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 5, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / POOL / ATEF SAFADI)

Modi met with Moshe Holtzberg, pulling the boy close for an embrace and telling him that he would always be welcome in India.

Moshe’s nanny, Sandra Samuel, escaped from the Nariman Chabad House carrying 2-year-old Moshe in November 2008 after the building came under siege. Four Jewish victims were killed, including Moshe’s parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. Samuel has remained in Israel and was at the meeting as well.

At their meeting at a hotel in Tel Aviv, Modi immediately embraced Moshe, pulling him close and cupping his head against his chest before inviting him to come back to India.

The boy, accompanied by his grandparents who are raising him, welcomed the Indian premier to Israel.

Wearing a lapel pin with Indian and Israeli flags, he read out a message in halting English, telling Modi, “I hope I will be able to visit Mumbai, and when I get older, live there. I will be the director of our Chabad House” in place of his murdered father. “With God’s help, this is my answer.”

“Dear Mr. Modi,” Holtzberg concluded, “I love you and your people in India.”

I challenge you to have a dry eye at seeing this courageous little boy, all grown up, speaking two or three languages, and having developed so well thanks to his brave nanny Sandra Solomon and his wonderful grandparents and family.

And one more item from Modi’s visit to conclude this enjoyable post:

The Indian-Israeli community went gaga over Modi’s visit, celebrating in a jubilant fashion:

On Wednesday, thousands of Indian Israelis gathered in the city to greet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a glitzy, wild welcome for the first premier from their home country to visit the Jewish state.

Brightly colored Indian saris mingled with jeans and t-shirts — and not a few kippot and religious headscarves — at Wednesday’s event, which began with several Bollywood dance acts and a concert.

Members of the Indian community in Israel celebrate during the official visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Convention Center in Tel Aviv, on July 5, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

 

Bollywood dancing at festivities celebrating Modi’s visit to Israel

“It gives me chills,” said Naomi Yakub, who immigrated to Israel from India in the early 1970s and is part of a community of some 100,000 Indian Jews living in the country. For the Jewish community in Israel, “a meeting like this we haven’t had in 45 years,” she said.

“We love India, because we were born there and our parents are there,” added her friend Tal Shulamith, now a resident of Be’er Yaakov in central Israel. “It’s very emotional.”

But the culmination of the community’s raw elation was reserved for the moment Modi and Netanyahu walked on stage to Academy Award-level applause and a solid two-minute standing ovation. The leaders — Modi dressed in blue-and-beige, Netanyahu in a blue tie — clasped hands triumphantly in the air.

“Modi! Modi! Modi!” chanted the observers, some of whom wore “I am a fan of Narendra Modi” t-shirts.

Hailing the strong bilateral ties between the two countries for 25 years, Netanyahu noted that “we always remember that there’s a human bridge between us — you. We admire you, we respect you, we love you.”

Taking the stage after Netanyahu, Modi gave a lengthy speech in Hindi to the crowd of mostly Indian immigrants.

“For the first time in 70 years an Indian PM has got an opportunity to visit Israel,” his office wrote on Twitter in English simultaneously. “This is a matter of joy.”

For Israel’s Indian community, it certainly was.

Not only for Israel’s Indian community. For all of us.

Safe journey home Mr. Modi. May our two countries continue on the path to deep and warm relations for our mutual benefit.

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Ayala Shapira’s mother: Why I didn’t go to court to see the terrorist sentenced

July 6, 2017

Ayala Shapira’s mother: why I didn’t go to court to see the terrorist sentenced | Anne’s Opinions, 6th July 2017

(Ayala Shapira is a young teenager (and one of my granddaughter’s best friends) who, two and a half years ago, at age 11, was horrifically injured in a firebomb attack by a Palestinian terrorist.

The open letter below, in the body of my article, was written by her mother Ruth, and I would stress that I have translated it and posted it with her permission. — anneinpt)

You may remember that Ayala Shapira was the 11-year old girl who was terribly injured in December 2014 by a Molotov cocktail (i.e a firebomb) thrown by a Palestinian terrorist at the family car. She suffered horrific burns to her face and upper body, and was more dead than alive for a while. She has made a miraculous recovery but still suffers from the burns, has endured many operations and skin grafts, and will have to undergo still many more until she is completely rehabilitated. She has to wear a pressure mask for much of the time as well.

Ayala Shapira before the terrorist attack

Ayala has shown remarkable courage and stoicism in coping with the terrible pain and disfigurement, as well as her missing schoolwork and social life. Her friends (I’m proud to say my own granddaughter is one of her best friends) and her parents’ friends, family and community have been fantastic in helping out, whether practically or giving moral support, and of course the State has given the support that it gives to all victims of terrorism in Israel. Yet none of this compensates for the damage done.

Ayala Shapira in her pressure mask addressing the EU

Ayala recently addressed the EU, recounting the attack and the story of her not-yet-finished recovery, stressing that she is determined to continue her life as normally as possible.

The terrorists were arrested shortly after the attack, and this week the adult terrorist (the second was a minor) Muhammad Badwan, was sentenced in court to 18 years in prison and fined NIS 50,000 ($14,200) for the attack.

If you think that 18 years and a paltry fine is not enough for this attempted murder, you are not alone.

But it is not only the sentence that is infuriating the Shapiras and their supporters. It is the confused response of the Israeli government, that can’t decide whether this attack is a criminal offense or an act of war (which is what terrorism essentially is) which is angering not only them, but all victims of terrorism and their supporters, and probably most Israelis.

Below is an open letter written by Ruth Shapira explaining her thoughts and reactions, (you can read the original letter in Hebrew here) which I translated myself with her permission.

—-

Please share and distribute as much as possible.

After the sentence of the terrorist, I sent an article to all the media outlets in Israel. Unfortunately most of the media are not built for serious articles and therefore the article was cut and distorted. I would be happy for your assistance in distributing the original article:

So why did not I go to court?

Today, the trial ended of one of the two terrorists who threw firebomb that turned our lives upside down.

The defendant admitted to the court two incidents of throwing Molotov cocktails – the first lightly damaged our family car, and the second almost killed Ayala, my eldest daughter.

We often hear from families of victims of crime who came to court to “look the defendant in the eye.” We chose not to come.

The reason for this, we feel, is that the state has not really decided whether this is a specific criminal incident or an event on a national level.

On the one hand, the state recognizes us as victims of hostile acts, finances for us for the (very expensive) medical care and all the accompanying expenses, and supports and accompanies us in the long process of rehabilitation. The media interest in the story also seems to reflect public opinion and the ready spirit that is beating in the heart of the people.

Thus, in effect, the state recognizes Ayala as having been harmed by an act directed against the state, similar to a soldier who was injured during his army service.

(Or in the language of the law: harm from hostile acts by military or semi-military or irregular forces of a state hostile to Israel, from hostile acts by an organization hostile to Israel or hostile acts carried out while assisting one of them, as their emissary or on their behalf or in order to advance their objectives – The Law of Compensation for Victims of Hostilities, 5730-1970).

On the other hand, the same state treats the terrorist himself as a criminal transgressor and not as an enemy soldier and accordingly puts him on trial for “three attempts of murder” (mine, Avner’s, and our daughter Ayala’s) and not (if already) on assisting the enemy.

And the terrorist himself?
He would certainly agree to the language of the law. After all he does not know Ayala personally (in fact, I have difficulty remembering his name) and has nothing personal against her. Did he know, at the time of the act, that she was the one in the car? Definately not. Did he commit “three attempted murders”? He made two attempts to murder as many Jews as possible, with the clear intention of harming the sovereignty of the State of Israel.

But he did not look like a soldier! One of them is even a minor! Well, that’s exactly what “irregular forces of a hostile organization” look like.

How do you distinguish between irregular forces and a “regular” criminal? There are two easy tests:

1. The test of intention: Was the intention to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel or a specific person?

2. The test of the environment: Was the arrest carried out as an ordinary police action, or was it more like a military operation? If there was a need for large forces to stop the terrorist, and there was a fear that someone might try to harm these forces during arrest, well, this is not a regular criminal, but an irregular combatant of a hostile organization (the hostile organization in this case, forms the hostile environment in which he lives).

And me? As a mother, of course I would like to see the terrorist punished. I would like him to suffer as Ayala suffers. That his mother will go mad with worry as he hovers between life and death. That he will writhe in pain even while he is asleep, and the percentage of painkillers in his blood will exceed all imagination. That he will undergo surgery, after surgery after surgery, without knowing when it will be over. Since there is no clause in Israeli law that matches such a sentence, I would have been content with the death sentence or life imprisonment.

But aside from being Ayala’s mother, I am also an Israeli citizen, and I care about the country’s future as well, so I can not come to terms with his being tried on a clause so far from the act he committed.

It is important for me to clarify that I have no complaints against the military prosecution, which does its work faithfully. The problem is with the government, which prefers to escape responsibility for managing the war, and to transfer it to the legal system.

Who is the main victim of this policy?
Well, the answer is easy. The State of Israel is losing a great deal of money, both on the rehabilitation of victims of hostile acts and on the holding of terrorists in prisons, it is losing the international public relations arena, and slowly losing its sovereignty.

So I should look at the terrorist in the eyes?

It is more important and urgent for policymakers to look into the eyes of the people.

Ruth Shapira, Tammuz 5771
4.7.17


(Translated by “anneinpt”).

Hamas’ Catch-22

June 29, 2017

Hamas’ Catch-22, Israel Hayom, Prof. Eyal Zisser, June 29, 2017

The dilemma facing Israel, and perhaps Egypt as well, is whether to tighten the noose around Hamas’ neck or, conversely, turn on the power and ease the pressure in an effort to sidestep entanglement in Abbas’ own grudge match with Hamas. Abbas, for his part, is trying to kill three birds with one stone: Hamas, Dahlan, and Israel — trying to embarrass the latter by making it the focus of international criticism. Water and electricity are one thing; visas abroad for Haniyeh and his cohort another thing altogether.

**********************

The voices rising from Gaza are not of war and certainly not of triumph, but of distress. It has been 10 years since its people took Gaza by force, and Hamas is not only looking at a dead end, but a Catch-22. Even as Qatar, its primary benefactor, is under a diplomatic barrage from its neighbors; the cries of despair are still emanating from Gaza, where residents are paying the price for Hamas’ isolation in the Arab world.

These are no longer the days of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, when Turkey and Qatar did as they pleased across the Arab world, and when Hamas leaders freely globe-trotted from capital to capital. Now, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is caged in; forced to wait until his Egyptian guard feels like letting him out.

Cairo has its own grudge against Hamas. It wants to see action first and foremost, such as the buffer zone being built along Gaza’s border with Egypt, intended to prevent terrorists from Islamic State’s Sinai branch from finding shelter inside Gaza under Hamas’ blind eye.

Thus, bereft of outside support and facing boiling distress at home, the Strip is convulsing from one crisis to the next. With so many people struggling to keep their heads barely above water (in the dark no less), Hamas is now even willing to consider waiving a white flag and handing over the keys to Mohammed Dahlan — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ detested political rival — who could very well be the only one capable of turning things around in Gaza.

Hamas hopes that Dahlan will suffice with the symbolic and powerless position of prime minister. But Dahlan is not a child, and with backing from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — and perhaps with a wink and a nod from Israel, as well — he can pull the rug out from under Hamas.

The dilemma facing Israel, and perhaps Egypt as well, is whether to tighten the noose around Hamas’ neck or, conversely, turn on the power and ease the pressure in an effort to sidestep entanglement in Abbas’ own grudge match with Hamas. Abbas, for his part, is trying to kill three birds with one stone: Hamas, Dahlan, and Israel — trying to embarrass the latter by making it the focus of international criticism. Water and electricity are one thing; visas abroad for Haniyeh and his cohort another thing altogether.

Report: Trump May Exit Peace Talks After ‘Tense’ Kushner/Abbas Meeting

June 24, 2017

Report: Trump May Exit Peace Talks After ‘Tense’ Kushner/Abbas Meeting, Jerusalem Post, Asser Okbi/ Maariv Haskavua, Jpost.Com Staff, June 24, 2017

(“Abbas angrily accused Kushner and Trump’s lead international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, of taking Israel’s side. . . ” After the Obama administration, he must be shocked. — DM)

Abbas and Kushner. (photo credit:REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump is reportedly weighing whether to pull out of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations following a “tense” meeting with White House senior staff and officials in Ramallah, according to London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat on Saturday.

The report claimed that Trump is to determine the future of reigniting Mideast peace talks in the near future, including  the possibility of withdrawing completely from the process.

The al-Hayat report came just days after a meeting between the administration’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which was described as “tense” by an Abbas advisor present at the talks.

Abbas was supposedly furious with the president’s son-in-law after Kushner relayed Israeli demands to the 81-year-old Palestinian leader which included the immediate halt of payments to terrorists and their families.

Abbas angrily accused Kushner and Trump’s lead international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, of taking Israel’s side and refused to commit to the request.

The report claims that the Trump administration was equally upset with Abbas after he failed to denounce the latest stabbing attack in Jerusalem, leaving 23-year-old St.-Sgt. Maj. Hadas Malka brutally stabbed to death in a terror attack last week. Ties were further strained after Abbas reportedly refused to meet  American ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

The Palestinian official also told the paper that the Americans demanded Palestinian officials curb inflammatory statements regarding Israel.

“(Kushner) will submit his report to the president and, after it is submitted, Trump will decide if there’s a chance for negotiations or it might be preferable to pull out peace talks,” the official said.

Abbas claimed that Israel is using the issue of payments to terrorists and their families as a pretext to avoid entering peace-talks, saying that the payments are a part of the Palestinian government’s “social responsibility.”