May 20, 2019

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05/13 Links: After Eurovision win, Jerusalem gears up to strut it’s stuff on world stage; How Much Effect Does BDS Have? Netta’s Eurovision Results Say None; Ambassadors from Albania to Zambia to fete US embassy move

From Ian:

After Eurovision win, Jerusalem gears up to strut stuff on world stage
Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision win kicked off massive street parties in Tel Aviv Sunday morning, but next year it’s expected Jerusalem will be the city celebrating the song contest.

Israel’s win, its first since 1998, means it wins the right to host next year’s finals, which has transformed in those intervening decades into a massive extravaganza with two rounds, tens of thousands of fans, and millions more tuning in around the world.

Barzilai scarcely had time to change out of her red and black kimono before city officials and politicians in Israel were crowing about plans to host the contest in Jerusalem.

“Next year in Jerusalem,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a congratulatory message, a sentiment echoed by many others, not least Barzilai.

“There is nothing like an Israeli party. You will find out next year,” Barzilai said after her win, yelling “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Speaking to Israel’s Kan broadcaster, she said she looked forward to the world seeing “the Israeli carnival” when Jerusalem hosts the contest.

People will see “how wonderful we are. What a vibe we have. Best people… the best place in the world,” she said.

Despite the win coming in the middle of the night in Israel, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was among the many to quickly congratulate Barzilai and thank her for giving his city the chance to host the competition.

“The city of Jerusalem will grant any help needed in putting up Eurovision 2019 in the capital of Israel and together we will expose the beautiful face of Jerusalem to the whole world,” he said.

Rejoice with Jerusalem

A hundred thousand people carrying Israeli flags are expected to take part in the traditional Jerusalem Day “Flag Dance” parade around the Old City on Sunday. The procession will be led by veterans of the battle for Jerusalem and victims of terrorism.

For 30 years, crowds have been marching and dancing in the streets of Jerusalem. This year, the dancing started on Saturday and went on all night, with people flocking to the Western Wall.

For the religious Zionist movement, Jerusalem Day is a celebration in every sense of the word, almost like Independence Day. Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews alike pray and wear their Sabbath clothes. The mythological Merkaz Harav Yeshiva – where the enterprise of settling Judea and Samaria began – will be hosting a huge party, and the prime minister is scheduled to speak there. Many of the yeshiva’s graduates fought to liberate Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, including IDF Paratroopers Brigade commander Yoram Zamosh, who immediately after the Western Wall was liberated in June 1967 drove Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook and Rabbi David Cohen there in a jeep, knowing the symbolic power of bringing both these great spirits of Zionism together at the remaining wall of the Second Temple compound.

“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her,” said Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 66:10), who predicted that after the terrible exile the Jewish people would rise again. Who could have thought when Jerusalem was razed that it would rise again like this? But the prophet gave us Divine instructions: When you return to Jerusalem, you must rejoice. In current terms, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it: Don’t be sourpusses.

David Horovitz: Israel’s ‘different’ Eurovision winner has a message for Jerusalem too

As it turned out, however, the drama kicked off even earlier than expected, on Saturday night, when Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision Song Contest with a demonstrably irresistible song at least partly highlighting female empowerment amid its chicken noises. Overwhelmed by her victory but still retaining her composure, Barzilai in her moments of triumph proved an admirable Israeli icon, praising her country, showing generosity to her defeated rivals, and hailing the contest and its voters for embracing the difference and diversity she champions.

“Thank you so much for choosing difference,” she enthused to the watching world (an estimated 200 million people). “Thank you so much for accepting differences between us. Thank you for celebrating diversity. Thank you. I love my country. Next time in Jerusalem.”

Unsurprisingly, the backlash was not long in coming. Anti-Israel activists, notably from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, are vowing to utilize the fact that Jerusalem will now host next year’s contest to mount a major campaign highlighting ostensible Israeli “apartheid” policies regarding the Palestinians. (The charge does not withstand serious scrutiny: For all the complexity and argument surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the bottom line is that Israel does not claim sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza, and its key caveat over partnering the Palestinians to statehood is the eminently reasonable demand that their state not come at the expense of ours.)

But Barzilai’s victory already constituted a stinging defeat for the BDS campaigners, who had urged Eurovision participants to boycott Israel’s entry by giving it zero points. In the event, the juries from the participating nations elevated Israel to an impressive third place, and it was then the viewers’ votes in those 43 countries that lifted Barzilai into top spot — a win by genuine public acclaim.

‘A one-woman band’: How Israel’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai rose to fame

Sunday was a day of celebration for Israelis, who rejoiced in Netta Barzilai’s win at Eurovision 2018 with “Toy,” an Asian-inflected dance song wrapped in messages of women’s empowerment.

Girls went to school with their hair coiled in Netta-inspired side buns, while morning DJs replayed various versions of the song that brought Israel its first win in the popular singing contest in 20 years.

Much of the rest of the country, meanwhile, dragged itself to work after staying up until after 2 a.m., celebrating the final, victorious tally of the song contest.

The production of “Toy” was a collaborative effort, with the song co-written by Stav Beger and Doron Medalie, an Israeli hitmaker who told The Times of Israel he thinks of the annual song contest as part of his DNA.

Also part of the team was Avshalom Ariel, the song’s 25-year-old producer, a classically trained composer from Tel Aviv University who knew Barzilai from a theater project they worked on together several years back and thought she could bring the right touch to the Eurovision stage.

But while the production of Israel’s 2018 Eurovision offering was a joint effort, it was Barzilai, the idiosyncratic, uber-talented singer, who brought home the win, showcasing her impressive vocals and looper skills at Saturday night’s final event.

Eurovision winner Barzilai jubilant: ‘How great we got to change Israel’s image’

Jubilant but utterly self-possessed, Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest winner Netta Barzilai told a press conference in Lisbon Saturday night that she was delighted her victory had helped change Israel’s image.

Minutes after winning the contest with her song “Toy,” and after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called her to tell her she was Israel’s “best ambassador,” Barzilai enthused to the international media that their choice of her and her song — with its themes of female empowerment — was a victory for diversity and difference. “I’m not your toy. You stupid boy. I’ll take you down now,” run the lyrics.

What was her message, she was asked? “I don’t think I have to say much after what happened tonight. After a majority chose me,” she said. “This is the greatest thing happening to people — choosing something different. Choosing something that’s evolved. Choosing 2018.”

Barzilai, 25, won the contest in good part on the strength of viewers’ votes in the participating countries, which lifted her above Cyprus and Austria into first place after the juries had voted.
Netta Barzilai from Israel performs “Toy” after winning the Eurovision song contest in Lisbon, Portugal, Saturday, May 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Israel’s Kan TV, which broadcast the contest and the press conference, used a split screen to show Barzilai speaking to the press and thousands of Israelis celebrating her victory in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, including jumping into a fountain. “I’m proud and honored to bring this magical event to Israel next year,” she said, as some in the press conference began singing “Hava Nagila.”

“How great is it that we won the Eurovision,” she said, answering a question in Hebrew. “How great that we got to change the image [of Israel]… We deserve it.”

“Israel deserves a reason to celebrate,” she repeated to an Israeli TV interviewer later. “I love my country.”

Netta – Toy – Israel – LIVE – Grand Final – Eurovision 2018

Netta from Israel wins the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest!

Gal Gadot to Netta: You represent the real wonder in women

Moments after Netta Barzilai was announced as the winner of the 2018 Eurovision, actress Gal Gadot took to Instagram to congratulate her.

“Yay!!!!!! I’m so happy for Netta!!” she wrote, sharing a video of Barzilai’s acceptance speech. In the video, Gadot can be heard saying, “What a sweetie, how cute, what a champion.”

Gadot wished Barzilai congratulations on winning, adding: “You represent the real wonder in women. So much [t]ruth, confidence and talent. You stand for diversity and you bring fresh beautiful light to the world.”

Gadot also thanked all her followers for voting for Barzilai. Indeed just two hours earlier, the Israeli actress called on her fans to cast their votes for Israel, song No. 22.

“Vote for Netta!! #eurovision2018,” she wrote to her almost 20 million Instagram followers.

Did Gadot help Israel win its first Eurovision in 20 years? She certainly didn’t hurt the cause.

J.K. Rowling attacked on Twitter for lauding Israel’s Eurovision win

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling came under fire on Twitter for praising Israel’s win of Eurovision 2018.

On Saturday night Rowling tweeted: “Well done #Israel #Eurovision Worthy winner,” to which hundreds of anti-Israel supporters responded with hate and anger, as well as saying that Israel was not part of the EU.

“You Zionist Scumbag,” one person said, while another added: “Myth [of] my youth [Harry Potter], such a delusion tonight. Hope your account has been hacked, you wrote about freedom, loyalty, respect, justice and now you talk about ‘israel’?”

Twitter users sent Palestinian flags while several hundred wrote,“Free Palestine,” and threatened to become “anti-Potterheads” – the name that fans of the franchise have adopted, adding: “Huh, you mean Palestine, right?”

One person even took the cover of one of the books and changed the lettering to say: “Harry Potter and the Audacity of This Bitch.”

Several users thought it was a joke on Rowling’s part, with others feeling that “As a public figure, your support for Israel’s victory is an insult to anyone who stands against their Human Rights violations and illegal occupation of Palestinian territory #FreePalestine.”

However, not all those who tweeted the infamous author were haters. Several Israeli users said: “Israel loves you,” adding hearts, with some thanking her for the support.

Is Israel’s Eurovision Entry Really Just a Zionist Anthem?

Europe has gone gaga for Netta Barzilai. Raking in over 22 million hits on YouTube, Israel’s eclectic Eurovision entry is a hot favourite to win the continental kitschfest on Saturday night. “Toy” has been celebrated as a statement of female empowerment. But listen more closely, and this spunky, defiant number is clearly a Zionist power anthem. It’s also a musical two fingers up at the Europe that could vote it to victory.

Watch the news, and Israel might look like a permanent warzone, viewed through the lens of its conflict with the Palestinians and treated as Europe’s compensation for the Holocaust. Not so, says Netta to her Middle Eastern beats: “Look at me, I’m a beautiful creature.” Israel is a vibrant, assertive, attractive place that wants to flaunt its achievements to the world.

What’s more, Israel doesn’t care for outsiders who preach morality to it or want to to be something it’s not. David Ben-Gurion dismissed the United Nations as “oom-shmoom”. For Netta: “I don’t care about your ‘modern time preachers’”. Back off, Mr. Kerry. No touching.

“Welcome boys, too much noise, I will teach ya,” Netta will sing to a global audience of over 200 million viewers, entertaining them with chicken noises and other erratic gobbledygook. They will be blissfully unaware that her message is that Israel makes no apologies for being completely incomprehensible to its critics—it also has a thing or two to teach them.

IsraellyCool: Eurovision Officials Ordered Jerusalem Not Be Mentioned as Israel’s Capital

Israeli Tech & Foreign affairs correspondent Amichai Stein just tweeted this: a document showing how Eurovision officials ordered that Jerusalem not be mentioned as Israel’s capital during the voting phase.

Let me enlarge that for you.

Which makes Netta’s speech after winning even better than I imagined – and perhaps an inadvertent “@$#! you” to them.

I would love to see how they will avoid mentioning it next year, when we host Eurovision…in Jerusalem!

IsraellyCool: The Guardian Can’t Escape Being The Guardian In Eurovision Article

In an article entitled Five things we learned at Eurovision 2018, the Guardian is actually positive about Netta’s victory.

But they can’t quite shake their tendency to be The Guardian.

Nope. Jerusalem. Get used to it!

Update: Honest Reporting also covered this, and they elicited a nice apology from the writer of this piece!

IsraellyCool: How Much Effect Does BDS Have? Netta’s Eurovision Results Say None

How much does the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel drive the actions of people across Europe? The solid answer seems to be close to none. It turns out when you take a plebiscite poll of millions of people in 43 countries (technically 42 because we exclude Israel), not nearly enough people put politics and negativity high enough on a list of cares to change the result of a song and singing contest!

The Eurovision full results can be found on their website, a bit of number crunching and we get some great information.

Netta won for Israel because she smashed it out of the park in the phone voting. In the Jury vote by experts, Austria (+59) and Sweden (+41) were both ahead of Israel by considerable amounts but both of those dropped in the Televote. Germany was only 8 points behind Israel, as well, and Cyprus a little further back at 29 points behind.

In the Televote, Israel scored a massive 317 points vs second place Cyprus on 253. A gulf of 64 points. Even if Austria and Cyprus switched scores in the Televote, Israel would still have won. Austria (who really did have a technically excellent song), Germany and Sweden were completely wiped out by the Televote.

Watch: White House officials arrive for embassy opening ceremony

“President Donald Trump’s ‘bold decision’ to move the US embassy to Jerusalem affirms a simple truth, that Jerusalem was, is and will always be the capital of the Jewish people,” a buoyant Prime Minister Netanyahu said Sunday evening.

“This is a momentous time, President Trump is making history, we are deeply grateful and our people will be eternally grateful,” Netanyahu said, speaking at a reception in the foreign ministry in honor of the US delegation in town for the embassy move.

Diplomats from thirty-three counties, including four EU countries, were among the hundreds who took part in the gathering. Four US senators were on hand, as was Sheldon Adelson.

The US delegation included Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.

This is “an incredible historical moment,” Mnuchin said.

The Treasury Secretary also discussed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, saying that “Iran must never be able to get a nuclear weapon.”

The Treasury will be firm in cutting off terrorists’ access to the financial systems “until they change their behavior.”

He also said “this is a momentous time in the history of the US-Israel relationship.”

‘History will remember Guatemala’

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely met Sunday with Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Joval, who is currently in Israel to take part in the opening of the Guatemalan embassy in Jerusalem this week and ahead of a visit by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales.

Deputy Minister Hotovely congratulated the minister on her country’s flag being one of the first to wave in Jerusalem ahead of the opening of the embassy in Israel’s capital on Wednesday.

Guatemala views the transfer of the embassy as a correction of a historic injustice and as paving the way for the opening of additional embassies to the capital of Israel.

Hotovely thanked Joval for her contribution to the decision and for Guatemala’s support for Israel in international forums.

During the meeting, the two representatives discussed the desire to deepen cooperation in various fields, including agriculture, water, civil security and the expansion of economic activity between the two countries.

At the end of the meeting, Deputy Minister Hotovely and Minister Jovel held a toast to Jerusalem Day and noted the uniqueness of the meeting on such an important day. Deputy Minister Hotovely said: “History will remember Guatemala as a courageous pioneer in the important process of moving the embassy.”

The friendship between Israel and Guatemala dates back to before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

Ambassadors from Albania to Zambia to fete US embassy move

Thirty-three ambassadors and chargés d’affaires confirmed their participation in the Foreign Ministry’s event Sunday evening to celebrate the US embassy’s relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Foreign Ministry had invited 86 foreign envoys to the reception, which will be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a delegation of top US officials.

Twelve envoys hail from African countries: Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, Zambia and Tanzania.

Seven ambassadors from Latin America RSVP’d: Paraguay, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru and Panama. (Guatemala and Paraguay have announced they will relocate their own embassies to Jerusalem later this month.)

A number of Central and Eastern European countries are expected to be represented as well: Albania, Georgia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Serbia.

The Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania are members of the European Union, which adamantly rejects any change to the status quo regarding Jerusalem before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached. Serbia, Macedonia and Albania are EU candidate countries.

200 protest in Jerusalem against Flag March, embassy move

Some 200 left-wing activists protested on Saturday night in Jerusalem against the Flag March, one of the central events planned for Sunday’s Jerusalem Day, and against the US Embassy move to the city planned to take place on Monday.

The protesters marched from King George Street downtown to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate.

The protest was attended by activists from the Zionist Union, Meretz, Peace Now and Standing Together.

Along the way, they chanted slogans, such as: “We oppose an escalation [of the security situation],” and “Netanyahu – resign! The peace is worth more [than the embassy move].”

Suf Patishi, a Standing Together activist and one of the organizers of the march, told The Jerusalem Post that the protest was intended to express the voice of those concerned that both the Flag March, which is slated to go through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, and the US Embassy move will spark violence in the capital.

“We are saying here in a clear voice that Jerusalem belongs to the people who live in it – Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. “Whoever loves Jerusalem will not move the embassy just for political gain.”

Over 1,000 Jewish worshipers visit Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day morning

Around 1,620 Jewish worshipers visited the Temple Mount compound Sunday as part of the festivities of the 51st Jerusalem Day, commemorating the reunification of the city.

The Temple Mount movements have launched a wide-scale campaign ahead of Jerusalem Day, calling the public to join the mass visits.

The site was opened for three hours in the morning and will be opened once again for one hour in the afternoon.

Although forbidden, some Jewish worshipers bowed in prayer on the Temple Mount and captured the action in videos shared on social media.

The Israel Police said in a statement that “during a Jewish tour on the Temple Mount, some of the visitors broke the rules and caused a provocation, after which they were forced to leave the place in order to identify them and understand the situation.”

Police also said that the visits are continuing as usual.

“The Israel Police is working in a wide range of checks and balances while making sure that law and the rules of the place are enforced, and will not let anyone break the law,” they added.

In the morning, clashes erupted between police forces accompanying the visitors and Palestinians who protested against the Jewish presence at the compound.

Police did not report any arrests.

Opening tense week, government okays huge East Jerusalem ‘sovereignty plan’

Government ministers vowed Sunday to “deepen Israeli sovereignty” in East Jerusalem as they approved a hefty series of plans to fete Jerusalem Day — the anniversary of when Israeli forces took control of the Old City and Arab-majority East Jerusalem in 1967 — in what they described as a unique opportunity created by President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Israel’s capital.

At a celebratory cabinet meeting held in Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum, the cabinet authorized programs in the capital estimated at some NIS 2 billion ($560 million), which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were intended to “​build up and develop Jerusalem, east and west, north and south.”

​The proposals given the go-ahead include plans to formalize land ownership claims in East Jerusalem and transfer Palestinian schools in the area to use of the Israeli curriculum. Ministers also earmarked budgets for the development of increasingly Jewish areas of the majority-Arab Old City and Mount of Olives, and to build a cable car from West Jerusalem to the Western Wall.

“​We will make a series of decisions to​ ​build up and develop Jerusalem, east and west, north and south, in all directions – to both reveal its past and build its future,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting. “We dreamed of returning to rebuild it, the city that is joined together – this is exactly what we are doing today​.”

National Post Editorial: Israel is left to contain the Iranian threat that Obama ignored

This Mideast crisis is certainly not identical. But it does provide an interesting point of comparison: when America saw a strategic rival setting up within a few minutes’ flight time of its territory, and judged the threat to be existential, it was willing to go to the brink and even chance a nuclear war to eliminate that threat. It had the support of its allies (even if Canada’s was grudging and delayed). John F. Kennedy is still praised for his skill, as president, in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis, though luck certainly played its part.

It’s not hard to see how this applies to Israel. Iran, its most dangerous enemy, whose leaders often speak of annihilating the Jewish state outright, has moved in next door. The Iranians are at the same time arming other anti-Israel proxy forces in the region. Their weapons in Syria go well beyond defensive munitions, and even beyond those offensive weapons that would be useful in defeating the groups rebelling against the Assad regime. Given the devastation in Syria and the prospect of the civil conflict there continuing indefinitely, there’s no reason to expect that Iran’s forces will be leaving any time soon. They are there to directly threaten the safety of Israel’s towns and cities, and they are there to stay.

Israel, as its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, often reminds us, lives in a tough neighbourhood. North Americans have never known anything even remotely like it. But when the security of this part of the world was threatened, the United States and its allies came together and forced that threat out — thankfully, through diplomacy. Iran will not allow Israel to pursue a diplomatic solution. The regime used the sanctions relief provided by the Obama-brokered nuclear deal to buy up the advanced weapons it now sends to Syria and points at Israel. The deal did nothing to help moderate the regime’s worst impulses. It’s still as brutal as ever, including to (especially to) its own people. It’s exporting as much terrorism as before. And now it has bases within easy striking range of Israel.

No one should want a war. A full-on conflict between Israel and Iran could be utterly devastating. But diplomatic failures have consequences. Iran’s strategic ambitions have not been contained. The nuclear pact didn’t even attempt it. Denying Iran a nuke might once have sufficed for European and American leaders, but Israel has had to live next door to an aggressive buildup of Iran’s conventional weapons. At the very least, it seems to have decided that enough is enough, and that it has nothing to gain from allowing Iranian forces in the region to become ever stronger. This is risky. But Israel has judged, rightly, that the greater risk is doing nothing.

The real target of the T-4 attack: the 3rd Khordad system

A little over a month ago, on April 9, Israel bombed the T-4 Airbase in Syria. seven Iranians were killed in the attack, including a senior officer, but now it appears they were never the target.

The target of the strike was, in fact, the “3rd Khordad” (Khordad is the third month of the Iranian calendar—ed) aerial defense system, an Iranian stand-in for the S-300 system Russia stalled on providing the Islamic republic.

The 3d Khordad is one of four variants of the Raad aerial defense system, equipped with Taer-2B missiles and a phased array radar.

Once the system was unloaded off of an Iranian transport plane on the Syrian T-4 base, it was destroyed before even being unpacked.

The 3rd Khordad system, developed and manufactured by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s military industries, was seemingly a copy of the aforementioned Russian S-300—a system capable of intercepting not only planes but also missiles, rockets, cruise missiles and drones deep within Israeli territory.

Israel could not independently verify the new system’s efficacy, but Iran’s own publications spoke volumes. It was first publicized in 2014 by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

IDF braces for violence in Gaza, West Bank ahead of embassy move

After a week of tension in Israel’s Golan Heights, Israel’s defense establishment is bracing for a week of violent confrontations along the border fence with the Gaza Strip and in West Bank.

With the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday followed by Nakba Day — the day Palestinians commemorate their perceived displacement after the declaration of the modern State of Israel — and the beginning of Ramadan on Tuesday, the IDF is gearing up for several days of violence in its most explosive arenas.

Thousands of soldiers from 11 battalions, including from the Nahal and Givati brigades as well as from special forces and intelligence gathering units, the Armored Corps, snipers and drones, will reinforce the troops already deployed. As part of the preparations, the training of regular combat troops has been paused in order to focus efforts on dealing with violent disturbances.

Gazans have been protesting along the border with Israel for the past six weeks as part of what organizers have called the Great March of Return, with demonstrators throwing stones, Molotov cocktails, rocks and launching incendiary kites towards Israeli troops. But the mass protests are expected to be much more aggressive than these demonstrations over the past seven weeks.

The IDF accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover to carry out terror attacks, and has identified attempts by protesters to burn army engineering machines; damage security infrastructure on the fence, including pillboxes; as well as kidnap soldiers under the auspices of the protests.

The IDF is expecting tens of thousands of protesters at some 20 sites along the Gaza border fence. The Southern Command is preparing for masses of these protesters, including armed activists and children, to attempt to breach the border fence with Israel.

Burning kite from Gaza sparks fire in Israel

A flaming kite flown over the Gaza border on Sunday sparked a fire in southern Israel, the latest in a slew of incidents in which airborne combustibles launched from the Palestinian enclave set Israeli fields ablaze, Hadashot news reported.

Firefighters were on site to extinguish the fire adjacent to the border with the coastal enclave. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

In recent weeks, Gazans have been flying kites into Israel outfitted with Molotov cocktails and containers of burning fuel, setting fire to large swaths of fields.

The tactic was introduced as part of the weekly “March of Return” demonstrations at the border fence, which began on March 30 and are due to culminate Monday when the US moves its embassy to Jerusalem. The mass protests are being encouraged by the terror group Hamas, which rules Gaza, and whose leaders say their goal is the erase the border and “liberate Palestine.”

On Saturday kites from Gaza caused two separate brush fires in the Be’eri Forest and Kibbutz Kfar Azza, adjacent to the border, according to Hadashot TV news.

Jewish Voice for Peace honors Gaza terrorists

Extremist group Jewish Voice for Peace has created downloadable prints for the inevitable protests this week, bearing the names of those killed in Gaza.

May his memory be a blessing? Really, JVP? Really?

The Meir Amit center helpfully provides background information on JVP’s “innocent civilians”, 80% of whom have been positively identified as members of terrorist organizations.

Salt Lake Tribune: Letter: In publishing Nazi propaganda, Tribune allies itself with history’s worst villains

If I was asked to guess which major newspaper outside of the Middle East published an op-ed raving and ranting about the evils of “the Jews,” I’d have guessed Der Sturmer in the Germany of the middle or late 1930s. Imagine my shock and dismay, then, when I learned that it was in fact The Salt Lake Tribune which recently published just such a hate-filled screed by Michael S. Robinson.

In it Robinson included classic anti-Semitic tropes like “the Jews” maintain that they cannot be criticized, “the Jews” are unable to muster any compassion, and “the Jews” control American politics through money and lobbying. He also despicably minimized the Holocaust by comparing it to an irrelevant past minor injury. Robinson also denied any legitimate Jewish connection to the land of Israel, and called Israelis “monsters.”

It isn’t rocket science to discern the frank anti-Semitism of an op-ed like this. Our State Department and the European Union specifically define the scurrilous libels Robinson penned as forms of anti-Semitism. It also isn’t rocket science to discern the obvious hate-mongering motive of The Salt Lake Tribune in publishing Nazi propaganda like this. But your newspaper has allied itself with history’s worst villains, so it might actually take rocket science to rescue your besmirched reputation as a result.

Golan Druze sentenced for trying to stop ambulance carrying wounded Syrian

The Haifa District Court sentenced two men from the country’s Druze minority on Sunday for a 2015 incident in which they attempted to prevent the transportation of a wounded Syrian from the Golan Heights to a hospital.

The two were part of a group of Druze men who chased after an IDF military ambulance in June 2015 and tried to prevent it from delivering the wounded Syrian for medical care.

Kamal Amar, a resident of the northern town of Hurfeish, was sentenced to 12 months in prison on charges of intentional endangerment of human life.

Yousef Sharif, also of Hurfeish, was sentenced to 10 months’ probation and a fine of NIS 10,000 for his part in the incident.

In the early-morning attack, rioters threw rocks at the ambulance as it passed by Hurfeish. The vehicle was then stopped outside the town and surrounded by several residents, who demanded they be allowed to inspect the passengers, police said.

Later that day, a crowd of Druze attacked a second ambulance, this one as it passed through Majdal Shams, blocking the vehicle and pulling out the wounded Syrians.

Haniyeh: Hamas student election win shows people support ‘resistance’

Hamas Politburo chairman Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday that the Islamist movement’s victory in student council elections at Bir Zeit University shows Palestinians support “the option of resistance.”

Haniyeh made the comment in remarks he delivered by telephone to members of the Hamas-affiliated bloc at Bir Zeit.

Bir Zeit University held student elections on its campus on Tuesday, in which some 75% of eligible voters casted ballots.

The Hamas-affiliated Islamic bloc won 24 of 51 seats on the council, and the Fatah-linked the Martyr Yasser Arafat bloc garnered 23 seats. A smaller third party gained four seats.

The Hamas-linked bloc’s victory marked the fourth year in a row that it won the student council elections at Bir Zeit.

Student elections in the Palestinian territories are viewed as important barometers of public opinion, since Hamas and Fatah have not competed against each other in municipal, legislative or presidential elections since the 2006 legislative elections.

“These elections have proven that our people, especially our students, are rallying around the option of resistance,” Haniyeh said.

The term “resistance” generally refers to armed conflict with Israel or popular protests against it or its military rule.

Family of IS-Inspired Suicide Bombers Attack Indonesian Churches, at Least 13 Dead

A family of six launched suicide attacks on Christians attending Sunday services at three churches in Indonesia’s second-largest city of Surabaya, killing at least 13 people and wounding 40, officials said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has seen a recent resurgence in homegrown militancy and police said the family who carried out Sunday’s attacks were among 500 Islamic State sympathizers who had returned from Syria.

“The husband drove the car, an Avanza, that contained explosives and rammed it into the gate in front of that church,” East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told reporters at the regional police headquarters in Surabaya.

The wife and two daughters were involved in an attack on a second church and at the third church “two other children rode the motorbike and had the bomb across their laps,” Mangera said.

The two daughters were aged 12 and 9 while the other two, thought to be the man’s sons, were 18 and 16, police said.

Police blamed the bombings on the Islamic State-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

One Killed In Paris Knife Attack By Man Shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’

An assailant shouting “Allahu akbar” killed a passer-by in a knife attack that also wounded four others in the heart of Paris late on Saturday before he was shot dead by police, French authorities said.

The country has been on high alert amid a series of attacks, commissioned or inspired by the Islamic State militant group, that has killed more than 240 people since 2015.

France “will not yield an inch to the enemies of freedom,” President Emmanuel Macron said after the attack, praising officers for “neutralizing the terrorist.”

The first call to police was placed at 8:47 p.m. local time (1847 GMT), officers were on the scene within five minutes, and the attacker was “neutralized” within nine minutes of that first call, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told reporters.

Police union representative Rocco Contento told Reuters that the assailant, after attacking bystanders with a knife, rushed at police shouting “I will kill you, I will kill you!”

He was then shot by the officers.

The attack took place in the heart of the French capital in a district popular with tourists for its many restaurants and cafes, landmark retail stores, and the Paris opera.

Paris knife attacker was on terror watch list

The knifeman who killed one man and wounded four other people Saturday night in Paris had been on an anti-terror watch list of suspected extremists, sources close to the inquiry told AFP on Sunday.

The Frenchman, born in 1997 in the Russian republic of Chechnya, was on the so-called “S file” of people suspected of radicalized views who could pose security risks, the sources said, though he did not have a criminal record.

Police shot and killed the man shortly after being alerted to the attack on the Rue Monsigny, a lively neighborhood of theaters and restaurants near the main opera house in Paris.

Witnesses said they heard the man yelling “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) as people fled the scene.

His parents have been taken into custody. Investigators have not yet said when the man arrived in France.

Nazi Salutes and Fascist Chic Put Ukraine’s Jews on Edge

At the Bingo nightclub, a few hundred Ukrainian music fans were celebrating the anniversary of their favorite very white ultra-nationalist metal band, Sokyra Peruna. Some were teens, some looked like they were in their 40s. They were dressed up and tatted up with Nazi symbols, pagan spirit designs and emblems from the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine.

Some fans brought their children along. Smoke wafted over the stage, guitars rocked, and dozens of right hands straitened up in Hitler salutes as the band’s leader, Arseny Klimachev, roared out neo-Nazi lines he’s made famous in Ukraine’s capital: “Heroes of my race! Heroes of your race!”

The fans will tell you these rants and symbols, banned in Ukraine by law, are really just fashion statements, a part of their sub-culture. But the Jewish population of Ukraine, estimated to be more than 200,000, is more than uneasy about such demonstrations. To them, Hitler’s fans are not just lovers of heavy metal music, but one more manifestation of a hostile, increasingly powerful movement.

For decades both Russians and Ukrainians referred to their enemies as “fascists,” and caricatured enemies as Hitler. During Moscow’s conflict with Tbilisi in 2007 and 2008 Russian propagandists painted Hitler-style mustaches on the face of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Today millions of Ukrainians refer to Russian President Vladimir Putin as to “Putler”–you can even buy souvenir toilet paper that says that. But if Putin is as bad as Hitler, what are Ukrainian Hitler fans thinking?

EXCLUSIVE: Amar’e Stoudemire: Converting to Judaism ‘Top Of My List’

Converting to Judaism is the “most important thing right now,” NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire told Breitbart Jerusalem in an exclusive interview.

Stoudemire, who was in Israel attending the Forbes Under 30 Global Summit, has always maintained that he has Hebrew roots and sees the Torah as part of an ancestral record of African-Americans.

Converting, he said, would allow him to immerse himself in Torah studies.

“Converting gives you an opportunity to truly take time out to become a student of the Torah, a biblical student, which is what I always wanted,” Stoudemire told Breitbart.

When asked how he would fit in conversion studies with all his other commitments, including managing a fashion line, record label and authoring children’s books, the 35-year-old said, “You’ve got to find time for the things that are more important.”

“And this would be the top of my list of the things that are most important right now,” he added.

Last month, Stoudemire told HBO sports reporter Jon Frankel at an event at Harvard University that he is “in the process” of converting.

Paying tribute to Ethiopian immigrants, PM vows to bring home man held by Hamas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday paid tribute to the thousands of Ethiopian Jews who died making the long, dangerous journey to Israel, and vowed that he would not rest until an Israeli man of Ethiopian descent held captive by the Hamas terror group is set free.

Speaking at an annual memorial ceremony held at the Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, Netanyahu opened his address by mentioning Avera Mengistu, who has been held by Hamas for over three and a half years.

“Distinguished guests, and mostly of all, our dear and beloved bothers and sisters, Ethiopian immigrants. The family of Avera Mengistu, we will not rest until we bring Avera home,” Netanyahu said.

President Reuven Rivlin was also at the event, which remembered the Ethiopian Jews who perished as they walked overland from Ethiopia to Sudan, from where they were airlifted to Israel.

Israel clandestinely airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the 1980s and 90s, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bring the community to the Jewish state and help them integrate. About 24,000 people attempted the journey via Sudan — some on donkeys and horses, some on foot — but 4,500 died on the way. Many were later flown in 1991 directly from refugee camps outside the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to Israel.

Remembering the 4,000+ Ethiopian Jews who Perished

Today we remember the more than 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who perished on the journey from Ethiopian through Sudan, to reach Israel. As we celebrate Israel’s great achievements today, both from 1967 with Jerusalem Day, and from yesterday with Israel’s exciting win at Eurovision, it is with a heavy heart that we also remember the price so many have paid to be a free people in a Jewish state. May their memories be a blessing.

Let’s do the time warp: Stunning pix of Jerusalem from over 100 years ago

Long the object of conquests, the city of Jerusalem has changed hands innumerable times since King David established it as the United Kingdom’s capital 3,000 years ago.

When the modern State of Israel declared independence in 1948, Jordanian forces captured East Jerusalem and the Old City, cutting the capital in half and forcing some Jewish residents to flee.

Nearly 20 years later, on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, 5727, or June 7, 1967, Israel successfully beat back the Jordanian army in response to heavy shelling of civilian areas. The Israel Defense Forces entered the Old City and East Jerusalem, ending the city’s division and unifying the capital once again.

Israel officially annexed the captured parts of the city in 1980, a move that wasn’t fully recognized internationally, and which is still the subject of controversy today.

But with rare exceptions, the City of Peace mostly lives up to its name. Residents of all of Jerusalem’s diverse neighborhoods work, shop, and play side by side as people go about their day-to-day lives.

As such, the anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, or Jerusalem Day, is cause for celebration among Israelis, with parades, concerts, and other events held annually.

In honor of Jerusalem Day this year, the City of David Archive has released a new selection of photos taken in Jerusalem over the last 150 years. Here are some of our favorites.

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