February 20, 2019

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02/10 Links: IDF intercepts Iranian UAV; Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria, IAF pilots eject F-16; Shapiro: Why Doesn’t Terrorism Against Jews Count?


From Ian:

IDF Blog: IDF intercepts Iranian UAV
On February 10, 2018, an Apache helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel. The aircraft was identified by the Aerial Defense Systems early on and was under surveillance until the interception. In response, IDF attacked the Iranian aircraft’s launch components in Syrian territory.

Later, also in response to the Iranian UAV that was launched at Israeli territory and was intercepted by the IDF, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft targeted 12 targets in Syria, including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria.

During the attack, multiple anti-aircraft missiles were fired at IAF aircraft. The two pilots of an F-16 jet ejected from the aircraft as per procedure, one of whom was seriously injured and taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

“The Syrians and the Iranians, from our point of view, are playing with fire. The Syrians are playing with fire when they allow the Iranians to attack Israel from their soil. We are willing, prepared, and capable to exact a heavy price on anyone that attacks us. However, we are not looking to escalate the situation,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Head of the International Media Desk.

The IDF sees the Iranian attack and the Syrian response as severe violations of Israeli sovereignty. The IDF will continue to act against any attempt to infiltrate Israeli airspace and will act with determination to prevent any breach of Israeli sovereignty.

Iranian UAV Intercepted by an Israeli Helicopter

Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria, IAF pilots eject F-16

In a major flare up on Israel’s northern border, Israel carried out a large-scale attack against Syrian air defenses and Iranian targets in the war-torn country after an Israeli F-16 crashed during operations to strike Iranian targets in Syria early Saturday morning.

The operation, which was carried out by eight Israeli jets struck 12 targets in Syria, including thee Syrian SA5 and SA17 air defense batteries and four Iranian targets.

According to Syrian media reports, Israel struck the Abu Al-Thaaleb airbase near the town of Kiswah, which is home to Syria’s 1st armored division and part of the Islamic Republic’s buildup in Syria.

The Israeli attack was met with anti-aircraft fire, triggering air raid sirens in the Golan Heights and upper Galilee, warning residents of potential rocket strikes. According to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, several missiles hit open areas in northern Israel.

“Iran and Syria are playing with fire,” he said. “The results of our strikes are not yet fully known to them (Iran), and they may be surprised when they discover what we targeted.”

Early on Saturday morning, an Iranian drone, which was launched from a Syrian base in the Homs desert, was identified approaching Israeli airspace by the IDF around 4 a.m., setting off alarms across Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley. The drone entered Israel via Jordanian airspace and flew for a minute and a half before it was intercepted by an Israeli Air Force Apache helicopter near the town of Beit She’an.

“We waited for it to cross into our territory,” said IAF chief of air staff Brigadier General Tomer Bar who stressed that it was important for Israel “to get our hands on the drone that was operated by the Iranians.”

“It was the most extensive attack against Syrian anti-aircraft batteries carried out by the IAF since 1982,” Brig.-Gen. Bar stated, stressing that, nonetheless, “we consider this to be a fully successful operation. Israel’s air superiority was not affected today.”

Sirens, clashes in north after IDF shoots down infiltrating Iranian drone

Tensions have been rising along the northern border recently, as Israel has warned repeatedly against Iranian efforts to set up weapons production facilities in Lebanon and establish a presence near the Israeli border with Syria.

According to unconfirmed reports, Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes on the Syrian armed forces and their allies since the civil war broke out there in 2011.

The prime minister and senior defense officials have said that the country takes action in Syria when a “red line” is crossed, generally meaning in retaliation to deliberate or accidental attacks on Israel from southern Syria or when advanced weapons are being transferred to the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.

There have, however, been reports of additional Israeli actions that do not appear to have been in response to a violated “red line,” including in attacks against suspected chemical weapons facilities.

Early Wednesday morning, according to Syrian reports, Israeli aircraft bombed a military scientific research facility outside Damascus, which is suspected of both developing chemical weapons for Assad and assisting Iran and Hezbollah in improving their missile technology.

Netanyahu has said that if Iran continues to try and entrench itself in Syria, Israel will “stop it.”

Israel launches ‘large-scale’ strikes in Syria after drone infiltration

Israel’s military attacked 12 Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria on Saturday in a new wave of strikes it described as a ‘large-scale’ attack, following exchanges of fire earlier in the day sparked by an Iranian drone infiltration from Syria.

The military called the drone infiltration a “severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty” and said Iran would be held responsible for its outcome, marking a dramatic escalation in tensions along its northern border.

The morning’s clashes also saw the crash of an Israeli F-16 jet after it was targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles.

Israeli aircraft “targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System and Iranian targets in Syria,” a military statement said. “Twelve targets, including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria were attacked.”

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that during the attack 15-20 Syrian anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards aircraft, but did not hit them. Syria state TV said its air defenses responded to new Israeli raids.

The missiles triggered alarms that were heard in northern Israel.

“Syrians and Iranians are playing with fire,” Conricus said. “We are willing to extract a heavy price on anyone who attacks us.” He called that attacks on Iranian targets “quite significant.” However he stressed that “we are not interested in escalating the situation.”

UN Envoy Danon demands UNSC put an immediate end to ‘Iranian provocations’

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon called on the UN Security Council to immediately condemn Iran for its “provocations” after an IAF jet was shot down in northern Israel on Saturday.

“This is not the first time we have warned you against Iran’s dangerous actions that undermine the security situation in the region,” Danon stated in a letter to the UNSC.

“This incident proves that every one of these warnings proved true. Israel will defend its citizens and will not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty,” the Ambassador added.

The fiery statement comes less than 24 hours after the IDF said an Iranian drone launched from Syria entered into Israeli airspace. In response, Israel launched a heavy air strikes against its northern neighbor, saying it hit air defenses and Iranian targets stationed in Syria.

One F-16 fighter jet, however, crashed on its way back from the mission, leaving the pilot in serious condition after he and his navigator ejected from the damaged aircraft. Syrian media claims the country’s military downed the IAF jet.

The violent altercation marks the most serious confrontation yet in Syria between Israel and Iranian and Iran-backed forces that have established a major foothold in the country while fighting in support of President Bashar Assad in the civil war.

“Council members must not stand idly when Iran acts to dangerously escalate the situation in the region,” Danon said, adding that the international executive body must “condemn this dangerous step in and immediately end the Iranian provocations.”

Condition of F-16 pilot in downed jet improves after emergency surgery

The condition of a seriously wounded Israeli pilot began to improve Saturday, after he underwent surgery for injuries he sustained while ejecting from his plane over northern Israel, in the midst of a severe confrontation between Israel, Syria, and Iran. The F-16 jet he was piloting took part in Israeli airstrikes in response to an Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria in the early morning hours on Saturday.

The Israeli Air Force said it was investigating what caused the pilots to eject and if the aircraft was hit by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles. If the plane was in fact shot down by enemy fire, it would mark the first such instance for Israel since the 1982 Lebanon War.

Dr. Rafi Beyar, the head of Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, said the pilot was in stable condition after suffering injuries to his chest and abdomen. He said the pilot, who was still unconscious and connected to a respirator, also required blood transfusions.

Beyar said a second pilot, who was lightly injured while abandoning the aircraft, was set to be released from the hospital on Sunday.

Rivlin to injured pilot: Thank G-d you came home

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin received a briefing on Saturday’s IAF operation and the downed F-16I fighter plane, as well as on the Iranian drone which infiltrated Israeli airspace.

Rivlin spoke at length with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, as well as IAF Commander Amikam Norkin.

Rivlin commended Israel’s security forces for their firm and resolute defense measures in the face of further proof of the danger of Iranian consolidation in the region, which the State of Israel would not allow.

He also asked Eizenkot and Norkin to convey the appreciation and thanks of the entire nation to the commanders and soldiers, and to all the forces working to defend Israel, for their full control over the operational events and for the greatly valued return to calm for all the residents and tourists of the north.

Rivlin also met with the IAF pilot who was lightly injured on Saturday, thanking him and hearing from him abut his recovery.

“”My heart is with you and your comrades,” Rivlin said. “I hope I will be able to meet you soon. You and the entire squadron have proven that you do not come back until your mission is fulfilled. I am thankful to G-d, as is the entire nation, that you have come home.”

Israel caused serious harm to Syria’s air defenses, says IAF second-in-command

Israel inflicted serious harm to Syria’s air defenses, said IAF Air Staff Commander Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar on Saturday, after the IDF launched a number of airstrikes on Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, following the interception on Saturday morning of an unmanned Iranian drone in Israeli airspace.

Bar, the Israeli Air Force’s second-in-command, said the response was “the biggest and most significant attack the air force has conducted against Syrian air defenses since Operation Peace for the Galilee” in 1982 during the First Lebanon War.

Syria’s responding anti-aircraft fire led to the downing of an Israeli fighter plane in which two pilots were injured, one seriously and another lightly. Both were being treated at Rambam Hospital in Haifa.

Israel said the drone infiltration was a “severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty,” and warned of further action against unprecedented Iranian aggression.

Bar said the Iranian drone remained in Israel’s airspace for a minute and a half before being taken out by a combat helicopter over the city of Beit Shean, near the Jordanian border. He added that the drone was quite advanced and emulated Western technology.

Bar said Israel would study the drone.

Pro-Assad alliance: Israel to see ‘severe response’ to future ‘terrorism’

The military alliance fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Saturday Israel will witness a “severe and serious” response to its “terrorism” from now on.

In a statement, the alliance said Israeli claims that a drone entered Israeli airspace were a “lie.”

The statement said Israel attacked a drone base in central Syria. The alliance added that drones had left the T4 air base in the morning to conduct routine operations against Islamic State in the Syrian desert.

“When the base was targeted our aircraft were still flying over the town of Sokhna, towards the desert,” the statement said. Sokhna is a town northeast of the city of Palmyra in central Syria.

The deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, meanwhile, declined to comment on reports that Israel had intercepted an Iranian drone launched from Syria on Saturday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Brigadier General Hossein Salami “did not comment on the reports about the Iranian drone when asked by journalists, but he said that Iran could destroy all American military bases in the region and create a hell for the Zionist regime (Israel),” according to Tasnim.

“We cannot confirm this report on the drone because Israelis are liars… if Syrians confirm it, Iran will confirm it as well,” Salami said.

After downing of Israeli F-16, Iran warns: ‘Era of Israeli strikes over’

Iran and Syria on Saturday denied that an unmanned drone Israel said it shot down violated the Jewish state’s airspace, calling Israeli allegations “lies” and saying the drone was on a regular mission gathering intelligence on Islamic State.

The drone incident led to a barrage of Israeli airstrikes on Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria. Syria responded with heavy anti-aircraft fire that set off multiple warning sirens in Israel and managed to down one Israeli F-16 in Israeli territory, seriously wounding a pilot.

A spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said the Syrian response was “a clear warning to Israel. The era of Israeli strikes on Syria is over.” He vowed a “relentless response” to “all further aggression.”

A Syrian statement said Israeli jets targeted a drone base in central Syria whose mission is to gather intelligence on IS in the area. It said the station was hit while drones were on regular missions in the country’s desert in Homs province. The statement said it was “a lie and misleading” to say the drone had entered Israel’s airspace.

A statement on Central Military Media, which is allied with the Syrian military, called Israel’s attack on the drone site a “terrorist act,” warning of “a tough and serious response.”

Hezbollah: Downing of Israeli F-16 the start of a ‘new strategic era’

Hezbollah hailed Syria’s air defenses after they reportedly downed an Israeli fighter jet on Saturday, saying it marked the start of a “new strategic era.”

“This is the beginning of a new strategic era which puts an end to the violation of Syrian airspace and territory,” the Lebanese terror group said in a statement published by Lebanon’s ANI news agency.

Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy backing Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s civil war, praised the “vigilance of the Syrian army,” and said it had “bravely blocked Israeli warplanes and downed an F-16.”

It also said the Syrian response marked “a decisive end to old arrangements.”

Hezbollah supporters were celebrating the incident on Saturday across from the Israeli city of Metulla, according to Israeli TV reports.

Ben Gurion Airport briefly halts flights due to northern conflagration

Israel’s main airport briefly halted all departures and delayed some landings Saturday morning due to military clashes along the northern border.

Flights at Ben Gurion International Airport were delayed for around an hour starting at 9 a.m. following a security assessment. Regular air traffic later resumed.

The airport is considered a strategic location that could be targeted by Israel’s enemies during military conflict.

The Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country early Saturday before launching a “large-scale attack” on at least a dozen Iranian targets in Syria. Israel called it a “severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty.”

The military said its planes faced massive anti-aircraft fire from Syria that forced two pilots to abandon an F-16 jet that crashed in northern Israel. One pilot was seriously wounded and the other lightly.

Despite northern escalation, 100,000 people across Israel visit national parks

Despite the escalation on the northern border, some 100,000 people visited national parks throughout the country on Saturday, including in the north, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said.

Among the sites in northern Israel to see thousands of visitors were Mount Hermon, as well as the Banias and Hula Valley nature reserves, the Parks Authority said.

Both Mount Hermon and the Banias Nature Reserve are located in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War.

Ben Shapiro: Why Doesn’t Terrorism Against Jews Count?

There are two possible explanations. Neither is good enough.

First, there are those who claim that terrorism against Israelis is part of a broader political conflict — that such terrorism isn’t religious in nature, but rather a tactic in a territorial war. That’s absolute nonsense. This week, 29-year-old Itamar Ben Gal, a teacher at a yeshiva in Ariel, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist while waiting by the roadside; he left four children behind. That follows the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six, in the same area, as he drove along the highway. These are civilian, not military targets. These were family men murdered for no reason other than their Judaism.

And no, this isn’t about settlements. In 2017, Israel saw a wave of terror attacks across Israel; most of those attacks were perpetrated inside so-called Green Line Israel: stabbings on the streets, truck attacks on civilian crowds. The Palestinian leadership celebrates such killings and offers the families of terrorists financial incentives to pursue them. And the Palestinian leadership is clear about the rationale for such killings. That rationale is the same as the al-Qaida rationale or the ISIS rationale: a radical Islamic political viewpoint that sees the slaughter of non-Muslim innocents as a tool in the jihad against the infidel. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas isn’t a “moderate” leader seeking peace; he’s a radical who stated openly just weeks ago that “Israel is a colonialist project that has nothing to do with the Jews.”

Then there’s the second explanation for why the world would downplay terrorist attacks against Jews: an anti-Semitic attempt to separate off the Jews from the West. That’s certainly the tendency in Europe, where it’s convenient to view anti-Semitic attacks inside the continent by radical Muslims not as attacks on European citizens but as internecine warfare between two outsider groups. That’s convenient because it allows Europe to treat the rise in anti-Semitic crime as an aberration rather than a serious internal problem. But it also reinforces the lie that Jews cannot be full citizens of the West.

There’s no true excuse for leaving dead Israelis off the list of terror victims. But those who do it don’t need an excuse. They’ll keep on doing it so long as the Jewish community remains silent about the omission. And so long as that omission remains the rule rather than the exception, the West will continue to ignore a basic, simple truth: The Jews of Israel are the canary in the coalmine in radical Islam’s war against the West, not an outlier nation that can be cast aside for political convenience. What starts on the streets of Jerusalem usually finds its way to the streets of London. The non-Israeli West would be smart to recognize that fact, if only to protect itself.

UN accused of illegal building at agency HQ in Jerusalem

A United Nations agency has been accused of breaking Israeli law by improperly expanding its Jerusalem headquarters.

According to Regavim, an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO), the accusations include illegal encroachment and seizure of public property.

The agency being blamed is the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. Incidentally, UNTSO is based in the same south Jerusalem neighborhood where the new U.S. Embassy will soon relocate, following President Donald Trump’s decision to move it from Tel Aviv last year.

Regavim says it first discovered the U.N. agency’s building activity in March of last year, and petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to get the government to enforce the law.

The NGO describes itself as a “research-based think tank and lobbying group dedicated to the preservation of Israel’s resources and protection of Israeli sovereignty through unbiased application and enforcement of the law.”

Regavim’s spokesperson, Naomi Kahn, showed Fox News aerial pictures that she said reveals the illegal building. She explained that the unlawful work include demolition of historic buildings, construction of an illegal storage facility and a gas station, which she said has caused environmental damage to the surrounding area. Kahn said, “To make matters worse, the compound has grown through illegal encroachment and seizure of public property from 11 acres to just over 19.”

Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of international and constitutional law at Northwestern University, told Fox News that Regavim’s lawsuit is aimed against the Israeli government to compel them to enforce the law, but the U.N. is shielded by its longstanding immunity. “Immunity means they cannot be sued in court — even if the court agrees their action is unlawful.”

He said, “The U.N. is behaving absolutely lawlessly in Jerusalem. Even if it considers Israel an occupying power, it is bound to heed the municipal and safety regulations of such a power, which are entirely lawful. The U.N. does not own the building and does not pay rent.”

Wisc. GOP Launches Campaign Against Cofounder of J Street PAC

The Republican Party of Wisconsin has launched a campaign to draw attention to the record of Democratic congressional candidate Dan Kohl during his time at a controversial far-left Middle East advocacy organization.

Kohl, who is challenging Rep. Glenn Grothman (R), cofounded the J Street PAC, a Washington D.C-based organization that self-identifies as “pro-Israel” and “pro peace” but is often labeled by critics as being “anti-Israel.”

During Kohl’s time with the group, J Street was an ardent supporter of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and pushed for the Iran Deal, which the Israeli government called a “historic mistake.” J Street backed the campaign with a multi-million dollar public relations blitz.

Kohl’s involvement with J Street will now take center stage in Wisconsin’s sixth district as part of the “Stop J Street” campaign, which will include a joint fundraising committee between the Wisconsin GOP and Grothman.

“Radical pro-Iran deal J Street activists are using D.C. millions to win back Congress by running against pro-Israel conservatives in strategic seats across the country,” the group’s website reads. “Stop J Street is a group committed to fighting this takeover and keeping America from ever going back to Obama’s dangerous anti-Israel policies.”

Alec Zimmerman, the communications director of the Wisconsin GOP, says that Kohl spent years putting “dangerous Obama-era policies” ahead of national security.

“J-Street co-founder and former lobbyist Dan Kohl has moved to Wisconsin with the goal of buying a Congressional seat to push his radical foreign policy agenda,” Zimmerman told the Washington Free Beacon. “Kohl and J-Street spent years putting dangerous Obama-era foreign policy goals—like the Iran Deal that sent piles of cash to a terrorist backing anti-American regime—ahead of our national security and the safety of Wisconsin families.”

Lebanon signs offshore drilling deal amid dispute with Israel

Lebanon on Friday signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas off its coast with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI, and Novatek, including in a block disputed by Israel.

Israel says one of two blocks in the eastern Mediterranean where Lebanon wants to drill for oil belongs to it, and last week denounced any exploration by Beirut as “provocative.”

President Michel Aoun said at a signing ceremony that Lebanon has “entered a new chapter in its history and is now a member of energy-producing countries.”

Looking to tap potential oil and gas reserves after major offshore discoveries by neighboring Israel and Cyprus, the Mediterranean country in December approved a bid on blocks four and nine.

Block nine is the disputed block with Israel.

Exploration is set to begin in 2019.

Modi in Ramallah: India is committed to the Palestinian people’s interests

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged his country’s support to the Palestinian people during a visit to Ramallah on Saturday.

“I have assured President Abbas that India is committed to the Palestinian people’s interests,” Modi said in a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “The relations between India and Palestine have stood the test of time.”

Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that the two parties signed agreements worth $41.35 million to fund multiple Palestinian projects.

Abbas reportedly thanked India for its support for the Palestinian cause, saying the Palestinians count on India to play a role in peacemaking because of its position as a world power of great stature and weight.

He also rejected recent accusations by Israel and the US claiming the Palestinians have abandoned the peace process over the PA’s rejection of the Americans as peace mediators.

“We have never rejected negotiations; we have been and are still ready for negotiations,” said Abbas.

The Palestinians are trying to shore up international support for a process that will see multiple brokers replacing Washington as the sponsors of a future peace deal.

Top Polish official accuses Jews of ‘passivity’ in Holocaust

An adviser to Poland’s president has said that Israel’s reaction to a law criminalizing some statements about Poland’s actions during World War II stems from a “feeling of shame at the passivity of the Jews during the Holocaust.”

Andrzej Zybertowicz made the remark in an interview published Friday in the Polska-The Times newspaper. Zybertowicz tweeted a link to the article on Friday.

The bill prohibiting blaming the Polish nation for Holocaust crimes was signed into law Tuesday by President Andrzej Duda but has yet to receive final approval from the country’s Constitutional Court.

The law has sparked anger in Israel, where Holocaust survivors and others with roots in Poland fear it will allow the government to whitewash the role some Poles had in killing Jews during WWII.

Lithuanian official offers cash reward for thesis pinning war crimes on Jews

A Lithuanian official responsible for ethics in academia offered a cash reward for students or scholars willing to write a thesis about Jews’ involvement in war crimes or murder.

Vigilijus Sadauskas, ombudsman for academic ethics and procedures, made the offer for subsidy on his blog. The speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, Viktoras Pranckietis, called on Sadauskas to resign.

In the blog entry, Sadauskas offered 1,000 euros, or $1,221, to “a school student, a university student, a postgraduate student, a teacher, or a scientist who will collect information, documents, materials and write a thesis (at least 10 printed pages) or a publication about individuals of the Jewish nationality who killed people, contributed to deportations or tortures,” the LETA news agency reported Thursday.

Sadauskas plans to stay on until the end of his tenure in June as ombudsman, to which he was appointed in 2013 by parliament, LETA reported.

But Pranckietis, the speaker of parliament, said about Sadauskas: “I am convinced he should resign.”

Florida Lawmaker Demands Local Venues Cancel Lorde Concerts Over Her Support for BDS Movement

A Florida lawmaker is demanding that venues in Miami and Tampa cancel upcoming concerts by New Zealand pop star Lorde, who called off a show in Israel to comply with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

“BDS is an antisemitic, terrorist movement and we should not force taxpayers to subsidize it,” State Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) told The Algemeiner on Friday.

In letters to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Tampa Sports Authority, Fine warned that Lorde’s April performances would violate Florida law, which bars state and local governments from conducting business exceeding $1 million with any organization engaged in a boycott of Israel.

“Florida has no tolerance for antisemitism and boycotts intended to destroy the State of Israel,” Fine wrote. “That’s why Florida passed groundbreaking anti-BDS legislation several years ago … Current statues are clear — local governments cannot do business with companies that participate in antisemitic boycotts of Israel.”

“When Lorde joined the boycott in December, she and her companies became subject to that statute,” the representative continued. “The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and antisemitism.”

Lorde is currently scheduled to perform in Tampa on April 11th and in Miami on April 12th. The singer cancelled a Tel Aviv concert set to take place in June as part of her world tour, which will include stops in Russia and Indonesia.

Palestinians: The Hamas-ISIS War, Corrupt Leaders

The Hamas-ISIS war comes at a time when the Gaza Strip is experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis, including shortages of fuel and medicine, that has forced a number of hospitals and medical centers to suspend their services. The suffering of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, however, is apparently of no concern to Hamas.

Instead of attending to the needs of his people, Mahmoud Abbas is busy picking a fight with the U.S. administration and its “Zionist” representatives, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt.

Once again, the Palestinians have fallen victim to their leaders, who are seemingly preoccupied with one thing alone: pumping millions of dollars of public donations into their own private coffers.

According to Foreign Minister Zarif, Iran is Violating the Nuclear Deal

In March 2015, Sen. Tom Cotton (R – Ark.) posted a letter on his website, signed by 46 other Republican senators, arguing that any deal with Iran that was not approved by the United States Senate would just be an executive agreement that would not necessarily have force in American law after President Barack Obama’s term in office ended.

While Cotton called it a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the intent of the letter was to get the administration to acknowledge that the nuclear deal it was negotiating with no Congressional oversight would be an executive agreement and not a treaty.

Confirmation came from then-Secretary of State John Kerry who acknowledged that the deal would be an executive agreement, even as he disparaged the senators who authored it.

(Politifact, interestingly judged Cotton’s contention to be “mostly true,” writing that “the upside of pursuing an executive agreement is that they are easier to negotiate — they don’t require approval from Congress, which (as the current episode makes clear) removes a major obstacle. The downside of an executive agreement, however, is that it’s easier to reverse.” Politifact added some non-legal qualifications to its judgment, but still backed the central assertion of the Senate letter.)

A more interesting response to the Senate letter came from Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif. Posting on Iran’s foreign ministry website, Zarif wrote that the deal “will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Rising racism and anti-Semitism taint Italian electoral campaign

When hundreds of hardcore Verona soccer fans chanted “Adolf Hitler is my friend,” and sang of their team’s embrace of the swastika, Italian Jewish communities complained, and waited.

Local officials initially dismissed the incident — which was filmed and circulated on social media by the so-called “ultras” themselves — as a “prank.” Condemnation only came several months later, after another video from the same summer party, this time profaning Christian objects, also went viral.

“These episodes should absolutely not be dismissed,” said Bruno Carmi, the head of Verona’s tiny Jewish community of about 100, speaking at the Verona synagogue, which is flanked by two armed police patrols. “In my opinion, whoever draws a simple swastika on the wall knows what it means.”

Racist and anti-Semitic expressions in Italy have been growing more bold, widespread, and violent. Anti-migrant rhetoric is playing an unprecedented role in shaping the campaign for the country’s March 4 national election, which many say is worsening tensions and even encouraging violence.

Hate crimes motivated by racial or religious bias in Italy rose more than 10-fold, from 71 incidents in 2012 to 803 in 2016, according to police statistics. The five-year period corresponded with an explosion in migrant arrivals.

Israeli trauma experts teach resilience in Houston

As Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston last August, the trauma didn’t even spare those whose job is to help others cope. One social worker, barricaded on the second floor of her house, watched in horror as water and mud flooded her first floor. Another was stuck in a closet with her dog for 24 hours.

Many mental-health professionals felt helpless or guilty for their inability to respond to people in need as they usually would. And other professionals, such as educators, did not feel adequately prepared to tend psychological wounds among those they work with.

Israel, as always, was quick to send various forms of immediate support to Houston. But the Israel Trauma Coalition knew from experience in Israel and many other countries that a long process of healing was only beginning. The organization reached out to Houston’s Jewish Family Services in September.

“They said they’d like to do their ‘train the trainer’ model in their method of helping people deal with trauma,” says JFS Houston Special Projects Coordinator Gittel Francis.

UK preservation group aims to restore, revive Europe’s abandoned synagogues

A British organization has launched an ambitious project aimed at restoring old, abandoned synagogues across Europe and bringing them back to community life, and in many cases commemorating communities that were wiped out in the Holocaust.

The Foundation of Jewish Heritage officially launched the Historic Synagogues of Europe project at an event Wednesday in the UK parliament building. It has identified 19 synagogues it hopes to initially put back into use out of over 3,000 buildings that still exist.

Historian Simon Schama led the launch event that was attended by dozens of lawmakers from all parties.

“Synagogues were always places of gathering, they were social gatherings … so when we remember, and try to restore and look after places not affected by the Holocaust we are essentially putting back together memory of living communities, even when Jews are absent,” Schama said.

Schama continued that the restoration work in places where Jewish communities no longer exist is especially important.

“The present is, in the chain of memories, about human vitality, the vitality of communities,” he said “So, if you do this, you bring back not only Jewish memory, you bring what Europe was. Europe had Jewish life as much as it had Christian life so we are, in a sense, validating the entirety of our historical memory when we do this, bad memories as well as good memories, memories of a living community.”

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