August 15, 2022

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01/01 Links: The Middle East: A year in review; Socialism’s Jewish question: Modern antisemitism explored in new book; Danish-Israeli Restores the Historic Iconic Jaffa Clock Tower

From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: The Middle East: A year in review

In contrast to this threat, Israel increased its joint training with the US and other partners and allies. It hosted an exercise with the British and Americans called Tri-Lightning and sent F-35s to fly in Italy. It also did a joint naval drill with US Central Command and Bahrain and the UAE in the Red Sea. It hosted US Marines at the same time for training in Israel. This was the highest tempo of joint training in Israel’s history. It came amid a joint drone training in Israel and the Blue Flag drills that saw an unprecedented number of partner countries come to Israel.

Israel was putting itself on the map in military technology in a way it hadn’t before. This was tied to Israel’s increased work with the US defense industry and also talk of more Israeli partnerships in the Gulf and beyond. This is where Israel excels, in developing new technology such as precision weapons, artificial intelligence and air defense. Israel revealed, for instance, that it had used a drone swarm for the first time over Gaza in the May war, and it had used more artificial intelligence. The message was that Israel could confront Iranian-backed adversaries.

For Israel’s friends in the Gulf, though, the big question was whether the US would be leaving the region. After the debacle of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, it became clear that the US was not going to remain in many places. The US might reassess its role in Syria in 2022. It was taking all its combat troops out of Iraq. This was lip service to appease pro-Iran voices in Iraq. But the larger context was the Iran deal talks in Vienna and major worldwide shifts, as the US pivots to confront China. Many countries wondered if the absence of the US in the region would require them to change their policies.

Toward that end the UAE and Egypt patched things up with the Assad regime, and together with Saudi Arabia they seemed willing to patch things up with Iran as well. At the end of the day, this didn’t fit a clear narrative of who was on whose side in the region. The Assad regime, for instance, is backed by Iran, but countries in the Gulf want it to reincorporate with the Arab League.

With everyone hedging their bets at the end of the 2021, the question was also what Russia and China would do.

Russia and Turkey were playing an increasing role in Africa. China, meanwhile, appeared to have signed a 25-year deal with Iran, and China was becoming more critical of Israeli actions. The overall story was that China believed that if it was going to be confronted by the US, then it would be tougher on Western countries and regional countries that are close to the US.

This presents the US with a problem. It wants to leave the Middle East and Africa to confront China and do near-peer rivalry with Russia in Ukraine. But every time it leaves a place like Afghanistan, it is China and Russia that seek to move into the vacuum. They don’t see it as a zero-sum game; they believe they can move into areas the US is leaving, while the US believes it must leave to focus on China and Russia. This puts US allies and partners in the region in a bind.

At the end of 2021, it remains to be seen what long-term ramifications this major shift will lead to.

Socialism’s Jewish question: Modern antisemitism explored in new book

Book: The European Left and the Jewish Question 1848-1992 As several contributors to this book remark, socialism took on the form of a quasi-religion. Belief rather than analysis became the centerpiece of endeavor. For many, Jews simply did not count when it came to discrimination. So when the Soviet show trials took place in the 1930s, many on the Left, including critics of Stalin, preferred to look away when anti-Jewish themes pervaded the courtroom.

Several authors highlight external factors that have influenced groups on the Left. The Spanish Left imbibed ideas at the altar of historical anti-Judaism during the Inquisition. The Christian Left promoted the vision of a Jesus who identified with the poor – and thereby with the Palestinian refugees.

In France during the 1950s, many embraced anti-colonialism and supported the National Liberation Front’s struggle for independence in Algeria – and warmed to Nasser’s backing for it. Decolonization during the 1960s allowed the New Left in Europe to identify more with the nascent Palestinian national movement than with the Israeli one – and this was before the West Bank settlement drive.

In an effort to express solidarity with discriminated Muslim minorities in Europe, some on the French Left maintain a mistaken silence about the reactionary politics of the Islamists. And anti-Zionism sometimes tips over into overt antisemitism. There were antisemitic killings in Toulouse, Montauban and Vincennes in recent times. In 2006, Ilan Halimi was killed because he was Jewish – the first antisemitic murder in France since 1945.

This volume is unusual because it goes into the origins of contemporary antisemitism and anti-Zionism within the European Left in mainly France and Italy. Pushing the slogans and clichés of campaigners against antisemitism to one side, it looks at the roots of the problem today. Its detailed explanations by scholars will certainly provide food for thought for those who wish to deepen their knowledge.

Desmond Tutu and the Jews

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died on Sunday, was a Nobel Prize winner and a hero of the anti-apartheid movement. Yet despite all his many qualities, he had a real problem with Jews and the Jewish State. He had many Jewish friends and admirers. But his blatantly antisemitic rhetoric, on public record, consistently and simply proved that you can be a likable, even sweet hero, and still be a dangerous fool.

I have tried to understand why so many perfectly nice, good Christians seem to have such trouble with Israel. Is it just the sympathy for the underdog? Or the arrogance of many Israelis? Is it something about Jews or Judaism that offends them?

Mahatma Gandhi, one of the founders of modern India was regarded as a holy man. He, too, could not sympathize with Jewish aspirations. Gandhi’s great ideal was that of satyagraha: non-violent resistance to evil. A lovely idea in theory, and a very Christian idea of turning the other cheek observed more in the breach. Of Hitler’s evil, Gandhi said in 1938, “the calculated violence of Hitler may result in a general massacre of Jews, but if their minds could be prepared for voluntary suffering, the massacre could be turned to a day of thanksgiving and joy.”

Thank you, but no thank you. He admired the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who visited Hitler to ensure that if he invaded the Middle East, he would exterminate the Jews there too. He even suggested that “the Jews should follow the doctrine of satyagraha and offer themselves to the Arabs to be shot or thrown into the dead sea.” One wonders why he didn’t suggest satyagraha to Stalin.

There were two men I admired who were both committed Christians and devoted much of their lives to fighting against Apartheid. And yet they did not suffer from Tutu’s blind spot when it came to sympathizing with Jewish aspirations for and the right to defend a homeland. Robert Birley and Trevor Huddleston — both men I had got to know late in their lives through my involvement in the Anti-Apartheid Movement and close friends.

Gulf’s Jewish communities are building for future generations

The Gulf nations have been highly supportive of the growth in Jewish life, but as more people move in and come to visit, we must establish programs and institutions to cater for their educational, cultural, spiritual and religious needs.

As more families move in, we will need to establish schools for our children to teach them about our faith and culture. Additionally, we need additional places to pray. Currently, there is only one operational synagogue in the GCC — the House of Ten Commandments in Bahrain.

However, in 2022, more will open in the region. In August, we celebrated the first bar mitzvah in 16 years here in Bahrain. But as Jewish life grows, there will be more children born and more bar and bat mitzvahs taking place. As a result, we will need more synagogues and Jewish education.

Early in 2022, the first Jewish court will open in the GCC. The Beth Din of Arabia will assist with issues pertaining to personal status, inheritance and voluntary business dispute resolutions in the region.

The coming year will be one of growth for Jewish communities in the GCC. In many ways, it will be a year in which we establish deeper foundations in regard to Jewish education, food, and cultural activities to support generations to come.

IDF planned major raid on Jenin, but called it off after PA forces acted — report

The IDF was poised to launch a large-scale operation in the West Bank city of Jenin in recent months but halted the raid after Palestinian Authority forces were pressured into acting, Channel 12 reported Friday, citing a conversation between Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and confidants.

Kohavi reportedly said that the ability to get the PA to act in the city that is widely seen as a hotbed of activity for the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups was a result of the close security cooperation that exists between Israel and the PA.

The security cooperation was a central theme of talks held earlier this week when PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz at his home, the first time the Palestinian leader has held talks with a senior Israeli official in Israel since 2010.

Reporting details from the conversation on Wednesday, both Channel 12 and 13 quoted Abbas as telling Gantz that he would not support a return to violence in the West Bank “even if a gun was held to my head.”

Gantz was lambasted by the right-wing and some in his government for hosting Abbas, but Channel 12 said Kohavi’s comments should be seen as the “fruits” of the ongoing security coordination.

Jenin had seen repeated violent incidents in recent months.

2 rockets fired from Gaza hit off central Israel coast; terror groups blame weather

The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday morning that two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward central Israel.

Large explosions were heard in a number of central Israel cities around 7 a.m.

Video circulating on social media showed an explosion in the sea off the coast of Jaffa.

Other footage apparently showed the two rockets being fired from Gaza.

Hebrew-language media reports said the second rocket landed in the sea off the coast of Palmachim, south of the city of Rishon Lezion.

There were no sirens warning of incoming rockets, in a sign that no projectiles were headed for populated areas. The Iron Dome missile defense system was not activated for the same reason.

Police said there were no reports of injuries or damage.

Armed factions in Gaza said the rocket fire was “caused by weather conditions,” not the first time the excuse has been used to explain the firing of projectiles toward Israel.

Islamic Jihad said on alert, evacuates bases after Gaza rockets land off Tel Aviv

The Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group reportedly raised its level of alert on Saturday afternoon and evacuated bases in the Strip, anticipating a response from Israel after two rockets fired from Gaza landed off the coast of Tel Aviv earlier in the day.

The Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV, citing unnamed sources, said the group’s armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades, evacuated all of its positions in Gaza and was preparing for the coming hours.

Palestinian media outlets — some affiliated with the Hamas terror group — also reported on Islamic Jihad raising its alert level.

On Saturday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said two rockets were fired from Gaza toward central Israel. Video circulating on social media showed an explosion in the sea off the coast of Jaffa, while the second reportedly impacted off the coast of Palmachim, south of the city of Rishon Lezion.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi held a situational assessment with security officials following the rocket fire, during which several courses of action were discussed, according to Hebrew language media reports.

The Walla news site reported that Israel’s political echelon was expected to reach a decision by Saturday night if the military was to respond to the launches.

Islamic Jihad threatens Israel as hunger-striking detainee reported in critical condition

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) organization warned over the weekend that if a Palestinian administrative detainee who is on hunger strike dies it would consider his death an “assassination” by Israel.

The detainee, Hisham Abu Hawash, has been on hunger strike for 138 days in protest of his administrative detention. He was recently transferred to the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh), where he is reported to be in critical condition. Abu Hawash has been held in administrative detention since October 2020.

PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhala threatened that if Abu Hawash dies, his organization would consider the death an assassination and respond accordingly.

A PIJ statement issued in the Gaza Strip claimed that Abu Hawash was “being subjected to a process of assassination.”

“All options are open and on the table in case the occupation continues its procrastination and evasion of responsibility,” the statement cautioned.

AliExpress: We will continue delivery to Palestinian territories

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has clarified its stance with regards to servicing customers in the Palestinian territories after reports came out this week that the company would no longer allow Palestinian shoppers to make purchases on

On December 27, The Jerusalem Post reported that many Palestinian buyers received a text message stating that in 2022, Aliexpress would no longer be serving customers in the Palestinian Territories.

The reason for the move, the Post reported at the time, was because the Palestinian Authority’s mail services refuse to handle packages that have the word Israel in the address. However, many Palestinians do not know this and write Israel rather than Palestine as the destination country.

Speaking to the Post, however, AliExpress clarified the remarks, stating that “AliExpress has never announced or otherwise indicated that it will stop service to Palestinians.”

“AliExpress services users globally and continues to serve consumers in Palestine who wish to make purchases through its online marketplace for a wide assortment of product offerings.”

Addressing the issue of the shipping address and the tendency for shoppers in the Palestinian territories to write Israel as the delivery country, the e-commerce giant stated that “if residents of Palestine specify their shipping destination as Palestine upon making purchases on AliExpress and use the shipping options available via our website, their packages will arrive accordingly.

On official Palestinian TV, young girl calls to liberate the land from Jews

Palestinian Authority television broadcast live in December a young girl calling to “banish the scoundrels from my land and liberate it from the Jews,” in footage translated this week by the by Middle East Media Research Institute.

During a December 28 broadcast on Palestine TV of a ceremony held in honor of Fatah’s 57th anniversary, a young girl at a primary school in Jenin read out a poem asking God to banish the Jews from the region.

“Jerusalem is lost. It was sold to the plunderers by our greatest enemies. Oh Lord take them to hell and gather them with sinners like Abu Lahab and save us,” the girl said, referring to Muhammad’s half paternal uncle, who opposed the Muslim prophet during Islam’s formative years.

“Oh Lord, support the Muslims and return them to their lands, where they lived blissfully,” she said. “Banish the scoundrels from my land and liberate it from the Jews and from those who slayed the prophets. Thank you!”

Israel has repeatedly denounced what it deems to be incitement to terror and hate speech in Palestinian textbooks and media. American and European legislators have also held hearings on the matter.

Biden Administration Must At Least Help Any Country Trying to Confront Iran’s Mullahs

While the mullahs are using religion to justify their mission of taking over the region, they are more likely attempting to take control of all the oil in the region; they appear to be advancing their hegemonic ambitions to this end.

Iran has for decades been encircling the Middle East — in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq — by building a squeeze maneuver known as the “Shia Crescent; ” it has been trying to unseat the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen, and it long ago attached itself to South America’s most oil-rich country, Venezuela.

Please now imagine how much more destabilizing the Iranian regime would be if it had nuclear weapons, how much easier it would be for the regime to fulfill its constitutional mission of “extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.”

Biden’s legacy now looks as if will add up to surrendering Afghanistan to the Taliban; allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons; permitting China to take over Taiwan; enabling Russia to blackmail Europe with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline; failing to deter Russia from seizing Ukraine; harming the poorest Americans by forcing them pay more for everything by shutting off American oil and instead enriching Russia by buying it there at inflated prices; effectively cutting pay to the military and threatening to punish people who work by raising their taxes, all while paying millions of other people not to work; and to top it off, crippling the US military by diverting it from its core mission: winning wars.

If… any real response to Iran’s threats will have to wait until 2024, will that be too late to stop at least one of these imminent catastrophes?

Is the US Headed Towards a Bad Deal With Iran?

What is needed is a totally different agreement — one that actually and meaningfully guarantees that Iran will never have the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the US’s goal is to achieve a deal, not a better, longer and stronger one.

The US should pressure Iran to report about the progress it has achieved with its military nuclear project and provide the information about the undisclosed facilities and the unaccounted-for uranium. Only then, can a deal guaranteeing that Tehran is not able to produce a nuclear weapon be relevant.

Based on Iran’s consistent behavior regarding its clandestine nuclear-enrichment program, continued funding of proxies around the globe employed to destabilize the Middle East and ongoing provocative and threatening tone towards Israel, it is better to work outside of the fatally flawed JCPOA than to attempt diplomacy with a regime that has made its intentions to attack the “Zionist entity” abundantly clear.

As the Iranian government continues to threaten Israel with destruction and fund terrorists around the globe, thereby flagrantly violating the UN charter, it is very dangerous to pursue a diplomatic solution with so many red flags. The likelihood of a “less for more” deal that would involve fewer restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for more sanctions relief threatens Israel’s security.

Such an agreement would fuel Iran’s already recovering economy and leave Israel in an unacceptably precarious situation. It would remove necessary pressure from the clerical regime and grant it valuable time to increase its resilience against future American economic pressure, continue skirting international inspections and oversight into its undeclared nuclear activities and provide patient pathways to nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The goal: a “nuclear umbrella” under which Tehran can dominate the region.

Preventing Iran from obtaining deliverable nuclear weapons, while addressing other key malign activities, is possible and critical. Unfortunately, the JCPOA framework has been proven to enable the Iranian regime, not restrain it.

Iran to premier new movie about Soleimani’s final hours

A new film called 72 hours is being shown in Iran on the eve of the anniversary of Qasim Soleimani’s death. Soleimani was the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian IRGC. He was a key military figure for Iran and also a figure in Iran’s strategic role in the region. He held talks with Russia and groups such as Hezbollah to coordinate actions with Iran over the last decade. The new movie will now detail his importance.

The US killed Soleimani in January 2020. This has shifted Iran’s role in the region because Soleimani was of such great importance that his death marked a setback for Tehran’s policies. However, Iran still has made impressive gains in the last two years. It has developed drones and used them to strike at US forces in Iraq, Syria and off the coast of Oman. This means that Iran has shifted slightly from personal diplomatic-military achievements to technological threats.

Iran wants its people and the region to know of Soleimani’s importance. For Iran, he is a key martyr. Iranian media have been emphasizing over the last weeks the role that Soleimani played in defeating ISIS. Iran wants to ignore the fact that many have accused Soleimani of crimes in Syria and Iraq and of terrorizing the region. For Iran’s regime he is no “terrorist” though, but a sublime figure.

“This documentary is a new and unpublished narrative of the 72 hours leading up to the martyrdom of Haj Qasem Soleimani,” the report says. It has taken two years to make and will be shown for the first time. It tells the story of the three days of his life leading up to the assassination near Baghdad International Airport. It is not yet known if any important details will be revealed in the film or if there is any reference to Israel or other activities of Soleimani in Syria.

Hundreds trample on Israel, US flags at Baghdad rally marking Soleimani’s death

Chanting anti-American slogans, hundreds of people rallied in the Iraqi capital Saturday to mark the anniversary of the killing of a powerful Iranian general and a top Iraqi militia leader in a United States drone strike.

American and Israeli flags were strewn on the ground as protestors trampled on them.

Iran has claimed Israel “directed” the 2020 killing of Gen. Qassim Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

Soleimani headed the Quds Force, the overseas branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and was considered the architect of Iran’s regional security strategy.

Supporters of Iran-aligned Shiite factions were bused in from various Iraqi provinces to the rally, near the headquarters of the powerful militias.

Should We ‘De-Judaize’ the Curriculum?

Of course, the idea of decolonization per se is not without merit. It is no doubt the case that due to embedded pre-conceptions about the relative importance of European thought versus that of the Global South, that important ideas from intellectuals outside of Europe and the US, as well as minority voices within, have gone unrecognized. This is something that we need to and should address. One pertinent example across many academic fields is the contemporary rise of prominent thinkers from China, and it is important that these are given equal footing when we develop curricula.

We should be thinking globally when it comes to ideas. This is not the same, however, as suggesting that who says something is more important than what is said – ideas need to flourish or sink based on their intrinsic merits. The identitarian hard left argues for the opposite, proposing that we can simplistically layer society in to two strata: the good and the bad, based on people’s cultural and racial heritage. It is no surprise, then, that when such simplistic approaches to solving humanity’s problems are adopted, the Jews are placed in the category of the bad. As former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks noted, justifications for antisemitism change over time: in the Middle Ages, it was religion; in post-Enlightenment Europe the “scientific” study of race; and now, it is human rights. Jews are placed on the wrong side of the hierarchy of the oppressed.

Sadly, some (although certainly not all) who argue for decolonizing the curriculum share this worldview. We have seen almost daily how antisemitism has infected the hard left and its cheerleaders in the universities.

The reality, of course, is that Jews have had to fight through oppression and persecution for their place in society, and Jewish intellectuals have had to fight to have their ideas accepted and it was on the merit of the quality of those ideas that they were. We cannot —as Jewish academics, or as a Jewish community — accept attempts to “decolonize” Jews from the curriculum. It’s based on a false premise – that ideas and truth don’t matter, but that rather it’s who proclaimed an idea and their supposed place on the ladder of oppression that counts.

It’s a dangerous idea. Karl Popper, an eminent Jewish philosopher (and another émigré from Austria before the war) argued that it is the search for truth, through open intellectual inquiry, that in the end underpins the protection of minorities from the tyranny of the majority in democracies. We, as Jews, need to fight for that openness in our universities and our schools.

Austrian Holocaust survivor who spoke out against nation’s far right dies aged 94

The Holocaust survivor Gertrude Pressburger, who became famous during Austria’s 2016 presidential campaign with a video message in which “Mrs. Gertrude” warned of hatred and exclusion triggered by the far-right, has died at 94.

Pressburger died Friday after a long illness, her family told the Austrian press agency APA on Saturday.

Pressburger was born and raised in Vienna, the daughter of a carpenter. Her Jewish family converted to Catholicism in the early 1930s, but that did not keep them from being prosecuted by the Nazis after Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938.

After her father was arrested and tortured by the Nazis’ Gestapo secret police for alleged political activity, the family was able to escape to Yugoslavia and later to Italy, APA reported.

In 1944, the family was captured and deported to the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp in Germany-occupied Poland, where her mother and two younger brothers were murdered. Her father was also killed by the Nazis.

Pressburger returned to Vienna after the war, but initially did not talk about her horrific sufferings during the Holocaust. Eventually, she decided to open up about the Holocaust and about the antisemitic experiences she suffered in post-war Austria.

Romania’s ‘homegrown’ Holocaust: 80 years since forgotten Bogdanovka massacre

In reversing the genocide of Jews under his control, Antonescu was looking toward Romania’s bargaining position at a post-war peace conference. As early as spring 1942, the canny dictator pieced together that Germany would lose the war. After Soviet forces entered Romania in 1944, Antonescu was arrested and, two years later, executed outside Bucharest.

Although a large number of Romania’s Nazi collaborators were prosecuted and punished in the immediate postwar period, many Holocaust perpetrators managed to escape justice. To date, said Zuroff, only four people have been convicted of involvement in Holocaust atrocities in post-Communist Eastern Europe, and only two of the four were punished.

“We did receive potentially valuable information in at least one case of a person who allegedly participated in the mass murder of Jews in Odessa,” said Zuroff, referring to the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s “Operation Last Chance” effort to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice.

“Unfortunately, he died before he could be prosecuted,” said Zuroff.

In 2003, Romania’s government acknowledged the country’s role in the genocide. However, there has been “backtracking” on that acknowledgment and tensions over Bucharest’s nascent Holocaust museum. A memorial at Bogdanovka has been vandalized several times in recent years.

“As far as Holocaust denial and distortion is concerned, Romania has had a large share of both, as is typical in all the post-Communist ‘new democracies’ of Eastern Europe,” said Zuroff.

Laughs in store: Israel’s favorite supermarket comes to international TV audiences

The grocery store: Land of shopping carts, food aisles and cashiers, it is one of the few places where Israelis of all stripes come into contact with one another, a perfect little microcosm of society.

Life at the super, as it’s known in Hebrew, is the premise of “Checkout,” (“Kupa Rashit” in Hebrew), the successful comedy mockumentary that made it to the 2021 International Emmys, and is now playing (with subtitles) on the “Jewish Netflix,” the ChaiFlicks streaming platform available in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Of course, ChaiFlicks is not Netflix or Apple TV, HBO Max or Amazon Prime, any of the other streaming platforms where “Checkout” creators Yaniv Zohar and Nadav Frishman would love to see their show, now distributed by Yes Studios.

“Do you think it’s too Israeli?” they asked this reporter.

Hard to say. It is extremely Israeli, and yet overwhelmingly familiar to anyone who’s ever shopped in a grocery store.

The show is set in Shefa Yissachar, a fictional small supermarket chain located in the town of Yavne, with a cast of colorful characters played by some of the country’s funniest actors and comics.

The clever Noa Koler is Shira, the somewhat clueless store manager, obsessed with management techniques that have little effect on her staff. She presides over the hilarious Keren Mor as worldly cashier Kochava, who rules the roost.

Tel Aviv: Spending a day in the world’s most expensive city

To anyone who lives in or visits Tel Aviv, prices for everything seem to be steep compared to the rest of the country. Last month, The Economist confirmed that impression by naming the metropolis by the sea as the world’s most expensive city.

The publication’s sister company, the Economist Intelligence Unit, released a survey that detailed the cost of living in 173 cities around the world and, wouldn’t you know it, Tel Aviv came out on top.

This is due in part to the shekel’s rise in value against the dollar. In addition, the survey cites rising alcohol, grocery and transport prices as primary drivers on the road to the No. 1 position, an honor shared by Paris, Hong Kong and Zurich in 2020.

The ranking comes as no surprise to Tel Aviv residents, who regularly face exorbitant prices in housing, groceries and double lattes. What is it like to live in the world’s most expensive city? Let’s start by spending a day there as a Tel Avivian and see how much things cost.

‘The Pride of the Uniform’: Israeli Teens With Special Needs Join Program for IDF Service

For most 16-year-old Israelis, getting their preliminary call-up letter to enlist in the army is a critical step in their career path. But Israeli teens with disabilities also get a letter: an automatic deferment that they cannot serve in the army.

The Special in Uniform project is trying to change the paradigm, by opening the door to the Israel Defense Force for youth with special needs — hoping to restore the sense that they can enjoy the same professional and social development as any Israeli.

“The only army in the world to consider integrating people with special needs is the Israeli army,” Lt. Col. (res.) Tiran Attia, director of Special in Uniform, told The Algemeiner. “We believe that everyone has an ability, you just have to find it. It’s like an unpolished diamond; the only thing that we need is to cut one of the angles and see if it sparkles. From the moment that it sparkles, we start to polish.”

As military service in Israel represents a gateway to networking, a social life and a career, virtually every parent wants their child to take part. Led by his personal experience of raising a child with Williams Syndrome, IDF veteran General Gabi Ophir helped make this a reality for other families, founding Special in Uniform with two other IDF commanders in 2014.

Sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the program began with 40 special needs participants; after seven years, it has more than 800, including current soldiers and those in training. Another 300 young adults are on the waiting list, Attia said.

Danish-Israeli Restores the Historic Iconic Jaffa Clock Tower

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