October 24, 2020

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07/02 Links Pt2: Israel passes law defunding PA over its payments to terrorists; Vox Co-Founder Calls Ben Shapiro ‘The Jew Who Helps Other Jews Onto the Train’; CAA humiliates Gilad Atzmon in court


From Ian:

Israel passes law cutting funding to PA over its payments to terrorists
The Knesset voted into law on Monday a bill to slash funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount Ramallah pays out to convicted terrorists and the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks.

The bipartisan law passed by 87 to 15.

The law’s backers said the legislation would send a message to Palestinians that terror does not pay.

“The PA turned itself into a factory that employs murderers [of] Jews mostly but also Muslims, Christians, Druze, Circassians, and others, including tourists,” said co-sponsor MK Avi Dichter (Likud), who leads the Knesset’s influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

He said the law is meant to send a “moral and principled message” that Israel will not assist in sending money to terrorists, as well as cause the PA to rethink its policy of “encouraging terror.”

Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, who also cosponsored the law, said similar legislation in the US, known as the Tayor Force Act, had prompted the Israeli bill.

Interview: Taylor Force’s father hopes ‘pay-for-slay’ law will help Palestinians in need

In the two years since his son was killed in a terrorist stabbing spree in the coastal Israeli city of Jaffa, Stuart Force has become a regular traveler from his home town in South Carolina to Washington, DC, where he lobbied US lawmakers to adopt a law limiting aid to Palestinians, until they end stipends for terror convicts and families of slain attackers.

On Monday, three months after the US congress passed the Taylor Force Act into law, Stuart Force traveled for the first time to Israel to see the Knesset pass a similar law to slash funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount Ramallah pays out to convicted terrorists, a policy nicknamed “pay-for slay.”

Speaking to The Times of Israel ahead of the Monday evening vote, Force said he had made the journey in order to pay back the support he had been shown since the death of his son Taylor.

“The Israeli people have been so supportive of the Taylor Force Act, and it feels right for me to be here and support them,” he said. “​It’s going to be very emotional for me to be there during the vote, I’m sure, but I’m glad to be witnessing it. It’s important to our family that I’m here.”
Vanderbilt graduate student Taylor Force was killed Tuesday March 9, 2016, in a terror attack in Jaffa. (Facebook)

An MBA student at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and a West Point graduate, the 29-year-old Taylor Force was visiting Israel in March 2016 when he was stabbed to death by 22-year-old Palestinian Bashar Massalha. Force’s death elicited a passionate response from US lawmakers, who, in response, took up the hot-button issue of PA funding to Palestinian terrorists.

‘Black Forest,’ a chilling post-terror attack manhunt, gets English premiere

Kay Wilson was certain she was going to die.

The extraordinary story of how Wilson survived a brutal 2010 attack in which her friend was murdered is the subject of the Israeli television documentary “Black Forest.”

The Times of Israel and Beit Avi Chai will host the English premiere of “Black Forest” along with IsraelB on Monday, July 9 at 7:00 p.m.

Following the screening, Wilson will share her experiences in a live interview with journalist Matthew Kalman. Also present will be the filmmakers, police detectives involved in the post-attack investigation, and family members of other victims.

‘I believed him’

“Bound, gagged and barefoot, with machetes at our throats, we were pushed through the trees to the site of our execution,” Wilson recalls in a blog post for The Times of Israel. “I whimpered, ‘Please don’t kill us.’ One of the terrorists looked me in the eye, put his hand on his heart and declared, ‘I am good, I not kill.’”

“I believed him,” she says.

But she was wrong.

It was December 2010. Wilson and her friend Kristine Luken were walking through a picturesque forest southwest of Jerusalem, a popular site for hikes and picnics, when they were attacked by two men from a West Bank village near Hebron.
Kay Wilson, survivor of a 2010 stabbing terror attack outside Jerusalem. (Courtesy)

Within minutes Luken lay dead, hacked to pieces in a killing frenzy. Wilson should have died, too.

Co-Founder of Vox Media Calls Ben Shapiro ‘The Jew Who Helps Other Jews Onto the Train’

The Verge co-founder Joshua Topolsky called conservative writer Ben Shapiro the equivalent of a treacherous Jew collaborating with the Nazis in a tweet sent Saturday.

“Ben Shapiro is the Jew who helps other Jews onto the train,” Topolsky wrote in the now-deleted tweet.

After one user responded, “Yes, and Ben dreams of the handshake and shiny medal he’ll get for being such an obedient boy,” Topolsky wrote back, “Either way Ben ends up on his knees.” That tweet has also been deleted.

Topolsky co-founded the Vox Media tech news site The Verge in 2011, and he went on to join Bloomberg as its chief digital officer. He left Bloomberg in 2015 and started the digital media company The Outline.

To hear Topolsky explain it, however, he did not delete the attack because he was sorry about it. Rather, he wrote back one angry user, “I deleted it because a mob of right wing babies were flooding my mentions and it was frankly pretty annoying (as were the DM death threats).”

He also wrote, “I didn’t apologize lol.”

MEMRI: Iraqi Writer: Arab Muslims Are Racist And Expansionist – And Attribute These Evil Traits To Israel

In an article posted February 28, 2018 on the liberal Arab website Al-Hiwar Al-Mutmaddin (ahewar.org),[1] Iraqi Muslim Arab writer ‘Ali ‘Abd Al-Karim Al-Sa’di harshly criticized Muslim Arabs, saying they are racist, greedy, harbor expansionist aspirations, and hate the other – yet, by a double standard, they attribute all these traits to Israel, and raise their children to hate it and also to hate all those who are not Muslim Arabs. For example, he wrote, the Arabs and Muslims vilify Israel for occupying Palestine, and accuse it of grave crimes and evil intentions, but at the same time take pride in their own conquest of more than 20 lands in the early Islamic era.

As an example of the Arab lust for conquest, Al-Sa’di presents Iraq itself, which he said was neither Arab nor Muslim because it was once populated by members of various cultures, religions, and ethnicities, prior to the first conquests of the area in the early Islamic era when Muslim Arab tribes from Yemen and the Hejaz arrived and forced Islam and the Arab identity on the locals. He added that Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and other countries were also originally neither Arab nor Muslim, but were forcibly Arabized and Islamized, often by means of massacring their residents.

Pointing at the Arab Muslims’ deeply rooted hatred of the other, he described how Iraqi children are raised to believe that the Sabians [2] are tainted and that they not must come into contact with them nor partake of their food or drink. “Who, then,” he asked, “are the Nazi racists who lust for expansion and conquest?” – hinting at Arab accusations against Israel.

Al-Sa’di concluded by condemning the Muslims’ appropriation of God, the next life, and Paradise, excluding from them non-Muslims; he called it “a corrupt, racist, and Nazi idea” and added that all this makes him ashamed to be an Arab.

Iranian president flies to Europe to rally support for nuke deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani departed on Monday for a trip to Europe billed as of “prime importance” after the US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Rouhani was set to visit Switzerland and Austria as part of Tehran’s ongoing efforts to secure Europe’s continued support for the landmark agreement, a month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the continent to persuade leaders to leave the agreement, which has been repeatedly slammed by Israel.

The Iranian president left Tehran on an early afternoon flight and was due to land in Zurich in the mid-afternoon, Iranian state media reported.

Iran Diplomat Among Four Arrested Over Suspected Plot Against Iranian Opposition Meeting

An Iranian diplomat has been arrested along with two people suspected of plotting a bomb attack on a meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in France, Belgian authorities said on Monday.

U.S President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and several former European and Arab ministers were among those attending the meeting of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

The two suspects in Belgium were intercepted by Belgian police on Saturday, with 500 grams of TATP, a home-made explosive produced of easily available chemicals, as well as a detonation device found in their car, a joint statement by the Belgian prosecutor and the intelligence services said.

The 38-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman, identified only as Amir S. and Nasimeh N., were charged with attempted terrorist murder and preparation of a terrorist act, it said.

Two arrests linked to the Belgian case were made in France and Germany. The person arrested in Germany was a diplomat at the Iranian embassy in the Austrian capital Vienna, the Belgian statement said.

Juan Cole: Shameless Opportunist

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s victory in the June 24th elections marks a major advance in his years-long march toward one-man rule. So clear is his progress, in fact, that over the past year or so, even Juan Cole has become a former Erdoğan apologist and has taken to condemning the Turkish strongman.

It’s a pity – though hardly a surprise – that this change of heart comes two years too late to help thousands of Turkish academics fired and jailed in the aftermath of the failed July, 2016 coup attempt against Erdoğan. But when Turkey’s professoriate was under direct attack from the government in the immediate aftermath of the failed July, 2016 coup attempt, Cole was hobnobbing with the Erdoğan’s academic supporters at an Istanbul hotel.

In October, 2016 he joined other scholars from the U.S. and Europe for a regime-sponsored conference titled “Envisioning a Post-Crisis Regional Order for the Sharq [East] Region.” As Campus Watch Fellow A.J. Caschetta reported at the time, the event featured no fewer than half a dozen members of Erdoğan’s government, including his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, a George Washington University Middle East studies Ph.D. and senior fellow at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

But that mattered not a whit to Cole, who was happy to accept Ankara’s largesse. He must also have known by then that his fellow American, Henri Barkey of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, was among those blamed by Erdogan’s press minions for orchestrating the rebellion – a blatantly absurd charge.

Antisemitic author and saxophonist Gilad Atzmon capitulates, making humiliating apology and paying substantial damages and costs after just two hours in court against CAA

Antisemitic author and saxophonist Gilad Atzmon has been forced into a humiliating capitulation after just two hours in court facing lawyers representing Campaign Against Antisemitism Chairman Gideon Falter.

Mr Atzmon, is an antisemite who is reported to have blamed the Grenfell Tower tragedy on “Jerusalemites” as well as reportedly telling university students that “the Jews were expelled from Germany for misbehaving.” He is not shy about his antisemitism, telling a Jewish Twitter user in 2014: “I am not a Jew any more. I indeed despise the Jew in me (whatever is left). I absolutely detest the Jew in you.”

Following our efforts to have him banned from various musical venues, he penned an article in which he claimed that our Chairman, Gideon Falter, “fabricated” antisemitic incidents as part of a “business plan” to defraud the British taxpayer and earn money for himself.

After being sued by Mr Falter for libel, Mr Atzmon attempted to crowdfund “tens of thousands of pounds”, telling his supporters: “I have made the decision to fight this crucial battle for freedom of expression even though this fight poses a real risk of bankrupting me and my family.”

However in court Mr Atzmon did not even show his face, instead sending his lawyer to make the implausible argument that he had not meant that Mr Falter was making up antisemitic incidents, defrauding taxpayers or profiting personally.

After just two hours of argument, High Court Justice Matthew Nicklin issued a preliminary ruling stating that Mr Atzmon had deliberately accused Mr Falter of: “dishonestly fabricating antisemitic incidents; deliberately exaggerating the prevalence of antisemitism and antisemitic activity (including being too ready to characterise as antisemitism legitimate criticism of Israel); by doing these things Mr Falter therefore risked increasing antisemitism; Mr Falter’s motive was to obtain funds (including funds from the British taxpayer) to support the activities of the CAA and to provide his own income; the funds obtained by this fabrication and misrepresentation were consequently obtained by Mr Falter’s fraud; and Mr Falter is guilty of hypocrisy – he campaigns against antisemitism but he is content with its continued prevalence (even resorting to the manufacture of incidents) because his income and that of the CAA depend upon it.”

Unwelcome Sound on Germany’s Stages: Musicians Who Boycott Israel

The Scottish rappers Young Fathers have earned critical praise for their blend of hip-hop, electronica and gospel. They won Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize for album of the year. Their sweaty, uplifting shows are in demand across Europe.

But when an arts festival in Germany decided last month to drop the band from its bill, it set off a clamor that had nothing to do with the group’s music, and everything to do with the country’s post-World War II sensibilities.

Young Fathers openly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as B.D.S., which asks companies and people to avoid doing business with Israel in protest of its treatment of Palestinians. But in Germany, where calling for a boycott against the Jewish state carries deep historical associations with the Nazis, the movement is widely viewed as anti-Semitic.

As Germany struggles with increasing attacks on Jews and Israel is under pressure for killings of protesters along its border with Gaza, a growing clash over B.D.S. is spilling over into the cultural scene. It has divided art and music festivals that aim to foster cultural dialogue, and even sparked a feud between the mayor of Munich and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, who is a revered figure here.

B.D.S. is well known for sparking confrontations on college campuses in the United States and for compelling entertainers to pick sides. Now support from British artists is raising its profile in Germany, where it has struggled to gain traction.

Spanish High Court Rules Anti-Israel Boycott by City Council is Unconstitutional

The High Court of Justice in Spain’s Asturias province ruled that a city council’s policy of boycotting Israel was unconstitutional.

Last year, the City Council of Castrillon in northern Spain passed a motion effectively boycotting Israel, Israeli businesses and companies during business with Israel.

According to the Lawfare Project, which challenged the city council’s motion, court said that this policy of boycotting Israel was in breach of constitutional civil rights and freedoms of nondiscrimination and equality before the law.

Since the beginning of March, legal action by the Lawfare Project has resulted in seven other courts across Spain annulling or suspending anti-Israel boycotts in the cities of Castrillon, Telde, Montcada, La Roda, Barbate, Artes and Viloria.

However, the attempts to boycott Israel have continued in Spain in recent weeks. Earlier in June, the city of Oviedo, the capital of Spain’s Asturias region, canceled an upcoming concert by Israel’s NK Orchestra and a ballet performance due to political reasons.

Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, also approved a motion to boycott Israeli citizens and companies. The resolution calls for the city to formally adhere to the BDS movement and declare it is “free of Israeli apartheid.”

The Guardian channels its inner Jeremy Corbyn

When it was revealed that Jeremy Corbyn participated in a Passover Seder with members of the radical left British Jewish group Jewdass, Times of London columnist Daniel Finkelstein, writing in the Jewish Chronicle, argued that it was no gaffe or political error. Rather, Finkelstein observed, Corbyn’s evening with the fringe non-Zionist group which once tweeted that Israel was “a steaming pile of garbage” which needs to be properly disposed of, and holds the mainstream British Jewish community in contempt, makes sense insofar as it’s an accurate reflection of his views.

Likewise, the Guardian’s decision to publish a recent op-ed, co-authored by Illana Hammerman, a fringe radical left Israeli who’s suggested that Israel was no longer a morally legitimate state, and has excused Palestinian terrorism as a natural reaction of Israel’s ‘state terrorism’, wasn’t merely a narrow decision to provide a ‘alternative view’. It accurately reflects the editors’ often palpable disgust with Israel and discomfort with the values shared by the overwhelming majority of Israelis and diaspora Jews who support the Jewish state.

The op-ed, by Hammerman and David Harrel, vice-president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, “As Israelis, we call on the world to intervene on behalf of Palestinians”, June 29th, calls on the international community to save Israel from itself – to place “political, economic and cultural pressure” on the state “before it’s too late”. Foreign governments, Hammerman and Harrel opine, need to force Israel to abandon their pursuit of what they allege is an ideology which claims all “the land, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river” – bizarrely suggesting that the government not only claims all of the West Bank, but Gaza as well.

The Guardian contributors also predictably accuse Israeli of engaging in “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians living in the West Bank – completely counter-factual agitprop which is easily contradicted by population statistics. In Jerusalem, for instance, the Palestinian population since 1967 has outpaced the growth of the Jewish population. Whereas in 1967 Palestinians constituted 26% of the overall population of Jerusalem, by 2011 they constituted 36%. Further, the Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1949 to over 2.7 million today, whilst in Gaza the population increased from 82,000 in 1949 to roughly 2 million today. Israelis, we’ve cheekily noted previously, are clearly the most incompetent ethnic cleansers on the planet.

Newton, MA public school officials backtrack on pledge to rid curriculum of anti-Israel bias

As we discussed in our prior posts, for years Newton high schoolers learned from a factually-flawed, unvetted, superficial and non-scholarly curriculum, and from horribly slanted, “inaccurate and partisan” materials—many of them written by virulently anti-Israel activists an radical Islamist apologists.

This anti-Israel bias in the Newton schools went under the radar until 2011 when a small group of determined parents and residents, eventually joined by the 501c3 non-profit organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), began demanding that school officials pull the highly skewed materials. As we described, what followed was a multi-year battle against the school district to remove the “biased materials promoting a politically-charged agenda.”

By last year, it appeared that the parents and advocacy groups had pretty much prevailed.

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller had promised greater transparency in what was being taught in the schools. Some of the most offensive teaching materials had also already been removed from the curriculum used in the Middle East unit of the World History classes taught in the high schools when the District promised not to teach the subject until a new curriculum could be developed and properly vetted.

But now it looks like the Newton Public School Committee and its Superintendent David Fleishman are going back on their word.

According to APT, students continue to be given biased and anti-Israel material in their classrooms.

Haters Fume as Luxury Watchmaker Hublot Creates “Israel 70” Watches

Luxury Swiss watchmaker Hublot has designed 70 limited edition watches on the occasion of Israel’s 70th birthday – 10 of which will be sold in Israel – as a “moving gesture” towards Israel.

They quite frankly look magnificent.

Needless to say, the haters don’t agree and are fuming

I thank Hublot for recognizing that it is past time to support Israel.

And if any of you have a thing for luxury watches (as well as that thing called money), please consider purchasing one of these fine watches! I know I would if I could.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Venezuela Berates Populace For ‘Zionist’ Idea Of Having Enough Food (satire)

Spokespeople for the administration of President Nicolás Maduro laced into protesters and the opposition this morning, accusing them of disloyalty for harboring such treasonous, imperialist notions as trying to stave off malnutrition, and called the pursuit of such ends evidence that Zionism has poisoned their minds.

A series of coordinated messages from the presidential palace targeted prominent figures and demands of Venezuela’s restive population, as years of inflation, shortages, corruption, and spiraling violence continue, sparking political turmoil. The messages called the very idea of having enough to eat an “imperialist Zionist” conceit, and warned Venezuelans not to fall into the trap of those who would undermine Bolivarian Democratic Socialist values by appealing to such base instincts as survival.

“Those who claim to want only food will in fact not rest until they have placed Venezuela under Zionist occupation,” charged palace spokesman Silbato Parra Perros. “Traitors have always tried to wrap themselves in the banner of values, but all honest, patriotic Venezuelans will see through their deceitful rhetoric.”

“Food will only lead you down the path of dispossessing others,” cautioned Minister of the Interior Comete Mis Pantalones. “A country that needs food is a country beholden to the interests of the imperialist Zionist manipulators of the world economy.”

New Yorker Falsely Reports No MRI Machines in Gaza

“Fighting fake news with real news” is the yet unfulfilled promise in a New Yorker advertising banner which at times pops up over the digital version of an article which contains, well, fake news. The June 28 article (“Many Gazan Women Are No Longer Able to Enter Israel For Cancer Treatment“) includes the blatantly false claim that there are no MRI machines in the Gaza Strip, either in public hospitals or at all. Journalist Ruth Margalit quotes Dena Mekhael, identified as a cancer patient from Gaza, without challenge or correction, who stated: “In Gaza, there are no more MRI machines… ” In addition, further down, Margalit adds in her own voice that Mekhael’s “options in Gaza are dismal: its public hospitals have no MRI machines …”

But, according to the United Nations, a scientific journal, Palestinian sources, and the European Gaza Hospital (a public institution), along with mainstream media, there are indeed MRI machines in Gaza. Notably, a 2017 report in The Journal of Radiation Research and Applied Sciences (“Evaluation of advanced medical imaging services at Governmental Hospitals – Gaza Governorates, Palestine“), noted there are two MRI machines in the Gaza Strip per one million inhabitants. This compares to four MRI machines in Israel per one million inhabitants. Both Israel and the Gaza Strip lag significantly behind other countries, including Turkey, France, Australia, and especially Germany (Table 2, page 5).

In April, the Facebook page of the MRI Department at European Gaza Hospital publicized that it received a new MRI system by Philips Healthcare.

In recent days, the Gaza Strip’s MRI machines have been in the news following devastating airborne arson attacks that Gazans have launched against Israel using helium inflated balloons and kites, destroying some 30,000 dunums of Israeli farmland and nature reserve land, and killing wildlife. As a result, Israel decreased the amount of helium it exports to the Gaza Strip, which has put at risk the ongoing use of MRI machines.

Twitter blocks active Hamas, Hezbollah accounts in Israel

Twitter has blocked two accounts belonging to Hamas and closed or blocked some 35 active Hamas and Hezbollah accounts in Israel.

The blockings and closures come about two weeks after Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan sent a letter to the social media network’s CEO and executive chairman which said that Twitter has been “largely irresponsive to requests by the Israeli authorities to remove terrorist content and shut down terrorist accounts.”

Erdan said in the letter that “enabling terrorist organizations to operate freely and spread their messages via your platform may be a violation of existing Israeli law regarding providing support to terrorist organizations.”

The letter supplied a partial list of Twitter accounts affiliated with terror organizations and threatened legal action if they are not removed.

Ron Paul slammed as racist, anti-Semitic over cartoon posted to social media

Former Republican congressman and US presidential candidate Ron Paul on Monday was slammed as anti-Semitic and racist on social media over a cartoon he shared before quickly deleting.

The caricature portrayed members of various minority groups with distorted features, including a Jewish man with a large nose, beard and skullcap. Their outstretched arms join into a red fist adorned with the symbol of the Soviet Union and they cheer for “Cultural Marxism,” as they punch Uncle Sam in the face.

The cartoon was quickly deleted and replaced with an image of the words “political correctness” with a “No” symbol over them.

Paul later wrote on his social media accounts that the cartoon was “inadvertently” posted by a staff member.

“I do not make my own social media posts and when I discovered the mistake it was immediately deleted,” he said.

The quiet absolution of pro-Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl

Fifteen years after the controversial filmmaker’s death, items from Helene “Leni” Riefenstahl’s estate will go on display at Berlin’s Museum of Photography. The planned exhibit, warn some critics, runs the risk of absolving Riefenstahl of responsibility for her pro-Nazi films, as well as her dubious wartime activities.

In 2003, the woman once known as “Hitler’s favorite filmmaker” died at the age of 101. Some 700 cases from Riefenstahl’s estate were donated to the museum by her secretary. Now, curators will have access to thousands of letters and film stock dating to the 1920s, as well as gowns worn by Riefenstahl, and her diving suit from a late-in-life hobby she turned into a documentary on coral reefs.

For the exhibit’s detractors, the project is “an absurd and disgusting obscenity” that will glorify the late director’s “fascist aesthetics” and advance a rehabilitation that Riefenstahl does not deserve.

Riefenstahl was the first woman to earn international attention as a filmmaker, directing the Nazi-glorifying “Triumph of the Will” and “Day of Freedom: Our Army.” Relying on her close relationship with Hitler, Riefenstahl crafted films that mesmerized the German public and audiences abroad. In “Olympia,” the racially conscious Olympics extravaganza, she pioneered several techniques.

During a tour of the United States to peddle “Olympia” in November 1938, Riefenstahl claimed reports of the Kristallnacht pogrom in Germany were not accurate. She was promptly blacklisted by most studio heads, although Walt Disney took a half-day meeting with her.

It did not help her cause that Riefenstahl had just removed the names of Jews from the credits of her 1932 film “The Blue Light,” which she wrote, directed and starred in as a “sympathetic” mountain witch, Junta.

Iranian general blames water woes on Israeli ‘cloud theft’

An Iranian general on Monday accused Israel of manipulating weather to prevent rain over the Islamic Republic, alleging his country was facing cloud “theft,” before being contradicted by the nation’s weather chief.

“The changing climate in Iran is suspect,” Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization told a press conference, semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

“Foreign interference is suspected to have played a role in climate change,” Jalali was quoted as saying, insisting results from an Iranian scientific study “confirm” the claim.

“Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain,” he said.

Charles Aznavour to return to Israel on 95th birthday tour

He doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. And to celebrate his 95th birthday, French singer Charles Aznavour is – what else – embarking on a world tour.

The French-Armenian crooner will be returning to Tel Aviv next year, just a year and a half after his last performance in Israel.

Aznavour will take the stage at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on June 29, 2019, just a few weeks after he celebrates his 95th birthday.

The living legend has released more than 1,300 songs and nearly 300 albums over his 70-year career, and tours almost nonstop around the globe. During his most recent concert in Tel Aviv, in October 2017, Aznavour “brilliantly illuminated the stage with his presence and voice – singing in French, Italian, Spanish and Russian,” according to a Jerusalem Post review of the show.

Iraqi Yazidis take medical clowning course in Israel

A group of Yazidis has recently traveled to Israel from Iraq and taken a course in medical clowning, with the goal of helping traumatized children from persecuted minorities in the war-ravaged country.

The course was prepared by Dram Doctors, an organization that trains medical clowns, as well as the UK-based Road to Peace charity, Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital and Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the ministry said in a statement Sunday.

“The participants in the special training left Israel during the weekend with new tools and techniques that will help them put smiles on the faces of people who live in war zones, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or gender,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Road to Peace, which the ministry said had facilitated the arrival of the Yazidis to Israel, was established in 2014 to help build alliances between communities in conflict zones and help provide medical treatment to sick and wounded children.

The organization recently established a unit to treat kids in the region of Sinjar in northern Iraq, directed by Jewish humanitarian Sally Becker.

On Lebanon border, salvage op rappels 2,000-year-old vessels down sheer cliff

IDF soldiers watchfully looked on during a daring rappelling operation along the Lebanon border on Friday. The mission — to save intact pottery vessels dating to over 2,000 years ago — was a success.

In a brief video of the rescue operation, we see climbers suspended in air, hitched to a doubled rope fixed to a point 30 meters up a sheer cliff. They make their way up the rocky surface and upon reaching the mouth of a cave, the slight figures barely fit through to rescue its precious contents.

The vessels are slid 30 meters down on ropes. The fragile finds, including two intact wine amphorae, several storage jars, a bowl, a cooking pot, and two juglets, were wrapped in bubble wrap and sent down in padded bags in a complex joint operation of the Zefat Academic College, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the Israel Cave Research Center and the Israel Cave Explorers Club.

“I crossed my fingers every time” a pot was lowered, Dr. Danny Syon, senior archaeologist with the IAA, told The Times of Israel.

It was no mean feat, especially considering the leaders of the cliff cave excavation, Syon and Dr. Yinon Shivtiel of the Zefat Academic College, are both in their 60s. Syon, 64, was a rappelling instructor about 45 years ago, he told The Times of Israel. “Some things are like riding a bicycle,” said Syon.

Rare Coin Minted 1,900 Years Ago Discovered in Jerusalem

A rare coin minted 1,949 years ago was found last ‎week ‎in a dig in the City of ‎David in ‎Jerusalem.‎

Reut Vilf of the ‎City of David Foundation said the ‎coin, discovered ‎in the sewage system ‎running ‎beneath ancient ‎Jerusalem, dates back to the year 69 ‎C.E. — the fourth year ‎of the Jewish revolt against ‎Rome and the year in ‎which the rebels despaired.‎

According to Israeli media reports, a cache of ‎bronze coins from that time was found in 2014 in a ‎village near Jerusalem, and more were unearthed in a ‎cave by the Temple Mount in 2018, from the second and ‎fourth years of the rebellion.‎

The coin found last week bears an inscription in ‎ancient Hebrew lettering reading “For the Redemption ‎of Zion” and a depiction of a chalice. ‎

Its other side features the Four Species used in ‎the Sukkot holiday — the citron fruit, palm frond, and myrtle and willow branches — and the words “Year Four,” ‎referring to the final year of rebellion against the ‎Romans.‎

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