A Very Bitter Jerusalem Bombing Anniversary
August 9 marks the 18th anniversary of a very dark day — the day that Ahlam Tamimi calmly picked up Izz-al-Din Shuheil al Masri from his home in al-Aqabah in Judea (the West Bank), and serenely delivered him to the Sbarro pizzeria shop in Jerusalem.
That was the site Ms. Tamimi had intentionally scoped out, because it was a popular eatery frequented by families, singles, and Jews of all ages.
It had been a sultry day, and many young students, who were off from school during the long summer recess, were looking for ways to spend their time. One of these students, Malki Roth, entered the restaurant with her best friend, Mihal Raziel. At the same time, Izz Al-Din entered the restaurant and — using a guitar case rigged with nuts, bolts, and nails, together with a suicide vest rigged with 10 kilograms of explosives — detonated himself. The explosion rocked the nearby vicinity, murdering 15 people, eight of them children.
Two of the murdered were American citizens: 15-year-old Roth, and Judith Greenbaum, 31, who was five months pregnant at the time. A third American, Chana Nachenberg, lies in a permanent vegetative state.
Immediately after the bombing, Ahlam Tamimi was on a Palestinian bus back to Ramallah, and described what happened as news came in about the mounting death toll. “As the number of dead kept increasing, the passengers were applauding. They didn’t even know that I was among them,” she said. “On the way back [to Ramallah], we passed a Palestinian police checkpoint, and the policemen were laughing. One of them stuck his head in and said: ‘Congratulations to us all.’ Everybody was happy.”
Herein lies the heart of the matter regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which also pertains to our treatment of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday slammed Iran’s “faux concern” for the Palestinians after its supreme leader called on Muslims to oppose the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan, accusing him of threatening violence against Israel before the fast day of Tisha B’Av.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday called the US plan a “a crime against human society,” and urged “active participation” in efforts to block the still-unreleased proposal. In a letter marking the Islamic hajj pilgrimage, Khamenei said the plan was a “ruse” that’s “doomed to failure.”
Khamenei, who has regularly called for Israel’s destruction, said the Palestinians had “not given in to defeat” and “stand tall on the battlefield.” “The ultimate result requires all Muslims’ assistance,” he said.
Pompeo hit back on Sunday, accusing Khamenei and the Iranian government of destabilizing the region by backing terrorist groups with millions of dollars “to kill more Jews.”
“Khamenei’s faux concern for the Palestinian people runs so deep that under his reign of terror he provided less than $20,000 in aid since 2008, while sending millions to Hamas & other terrorists,” Pompeo tweeted. “In contrast, US provided $6.3 billion in support to Palestinians since 1994.”
“It’s sick that on the eve of Tisha B’Av — a solemn day for the Jewish people — Khamenei calls for violence against the Jewish state,” he said.
Tisha B’Av, which began Saturday evening, marks the destruction of the two Jewish temples and other disasters in Jewish history.
On #EidAlAdha, the Festival of Sacrifice, I ask the 57 Islamic states who say they care about Muslims, and the the EU states who say they care about international law: Why won’t you bring a single UN resolution for 1 million Muslims locked up in camps by China?
My July speech: pic.twitter.com/U1bCwVWitC
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) August 11, 2019
Exclusive Interview With Saudi Blogger That Loves Israel
Mohammed Saud is a blogger from Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. He made a rare visit to Israel that changed his heart deeply. I asked him about the current situation in the Middle East and how to achieve peace. “For those that hate Israel, I invite you to visit Israel and see the difference”
Jonathan S. Tobin: Pro-Israel Democrats aren’t yet an endangered species
That’s a shame, but it’s also understandable. Members of Congress going to Israel to express support for the Jewish state is such a mainstream and ordinary thing that it isn’t considered newsworthy. By contrast, Omar’s and Tlaib’s efforts to trumpet the sentiments shared by a growing percentage of the left wing of the Democratic Party may not represent the views of most Americans but does play into a narrative of intersectional hate against Israel that will factor into next year’s presidential election.
So while those who point to the enormous disparity between the numbers of members of Congress who spent their summer vacations expressing support for Israel and the few who will go there to trash it won’t be wrong, there’s still plenty of reason to worry about the future.
In the aftermath of last November’s election, concern about the possible influence of Omar and Tlaib, and fellow “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), seemed silly. The reins of power in the Democrat-controlled House would be in the hands of people who were strong supporters of Israel, like Hoyer and House Foreign Relations Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel (D-NY).
Yet as we’ve seen in the last several months, AOC, Omar, and Tlaib have become political rock stars and the toast of the late-night television shows, as well as favored commentators on liberal media. They may be heavily outnumbered in the House on issues like BDS, but they’ve already shown their ability to face down and roll over Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as when Omar escaped censure by the House over her very vocal anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Hoyer told JTA that the overwhelming passage of the anti-BDS resolution settled the question of whether Democrats were pro-Israel, and he would push back against Republicans who argue that the nonbinding resolution has no teeth.
“We have made a statement, and it’s a very strong statement,” he said.
Hoyer said he hoped to pass another nonbinding resolution, advanced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California, a Jewish Democrat, that would express support for the two-state solution. Hoyer told JTA that he wants to get Republicans on board with the resolution because he said it’s key to show bipartisan unity on Israel.
Another factor is that Republican backing for two states would stand as a rebuke to Trump, who has retreated from the two-state outcome to the extent that his Middle East peace negotiating team, led by Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, refuses to use the term in official documents.
JTA has learned that Hoyer persuaded Republicans to back the resolution, and was ready to accept three Republican tweaks to Lowenthal’s language. The most important was to remove the word “only” in a passage stating that the two-state outcome would ensure Israel’s survival and realize legitimate Palestinian aspirations. Now the language says simply that a two-state solution could accomplish those outcomes, not that it is the only solution.
J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby, which has ties to more than half the Democratic caucus, forcefully objected to the language changes.
“If implemented, these changes would completely undercut the purpose and impact of this resolution. They would hand a victory to President Trump, Prime Minister Netanyahu and all those who wish to prevent the achievement of a two-state peace agreement and to instead entrench a one-state nightmare of unending conflict and occupation,” the group said in a statement.
Hoyer and others in the caucus believe they will be able to work out a compromise after Congress reconvenes in September.
The leaders of an unprecedentedly large bipartisan congressional delegation visiting Israel on Sunday welcomed the plan by two controversial Muslim lawmakers to visit the Jewish state, and Jerusalem’s decision to let them enter the country.
The two Democratic freshman lawmakers — Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — would likely walk away from an educational tour of the region with a better appreciation of Israel’s security concerns, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) agreed at a joint press conference in Jerusalem.
“I think it would be helpful for anyone that has an opinion to come,” McCarthy said in response to a question by The Times of Israel.
“I feel very secure in this. Everyone who comes with open ears, open eyes, and an open mind will walk away and have an understanding… that this bond is unbreakable, that there is an importance to democracy in the Middle East, that it makes a difference to security. I think all should come,” he said.
“Any member of Congress is welcome to visit,” Hoyer said. Anybody who comes to Israel to learn about what Israelis are doing to cope with the protracted security situation and the government’s efforts to create a better economy for its people, he said, “will leave with a much more positive view.”
US President Donald Trump has reportedly criticized an Israeli decision to allow two BDS-supporting members of Congress from entering Israel later this month, Channel 13 and the Axios news site reported Saturday.
Last month Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said that she would visit Israel and the West Bank with Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan. Omar and Tlaib are the first female Muslim congresswomen. Both back the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Trump said that if Omar and Tlaib wanted to boycott Israel, “then Israel should boycott them,” Axios said, quoting a source with direct knowledge.
Axios said three officials confirmed the report and Trump’s views had been transmitted to top-level Israeli officials.
However, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham denied Trump ever gave any kind of directive to the Israelis. “The Israeli government can do what they want. It’s fake news,” Grisham told Axios on Saturday.
A record 1,729 Jews entered the Temple Mount compound on Sunday, compared to the 1,440 who did so last year, to mark the Tisha B’Av fast day, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s office announced.
The number is a new record for a single day, though the day’s visits consisted of entering the holy compound and immediately being ushered by police officers toward an exit gate.
Erdan, in a statement, praised police for their work securing the flashpoint Jerusalem site and added that his policy has been to let any Jew and any visitor enter — subject to a security assessment — and to “strengthen Israeli sovereignty on the mount.”
He added that the number of Jews entering the Temple Mount, known by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, has quadrupled in the last four years.
The statement came less than an hour after police decided to allow Jews to enter the Temple Mount for the second time Sunday, following clashes in the morning with Palestinian rioters.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing allies accused him of being responsible for the decision to temporary close the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors on Sunday during a tense overlap of Jewish and Muslim holidays.
The Jerusalem police chief, however, said it was he who ordered the closure.
The United Right electoral alliance said banning Jews from the flashpoint holy site on Tisha B’Av was a “national disgrace” and called on Netanyahu to reverse the decision.
Transportation Minister and United Right MK Bezalel Smotrich similarly said the temporary ban was “shameful and a disgrace.”
“The decision is a surrender to Arab terrorism and violence at the holiest place in Judaism, and is why there is a loss of deterrence in other areas,” Smotrich tweeted.
United Right leader Ayelet Shaked also condemned the decision, saying that “closing off the Temple Mount to Jews due to concerns of violence will only bring more violence. When you surrender to terrorism, terrorism wins.”
Clashes broke out between Muslim protesters and Israeli police forces on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount holy site on Sunday, during a period of peak religious tensions over the confluence of Jewish and Muslim holy days.
At least 61 Muslim worshipers were injured in the clashes, according to the Red Crescent. At least four officers were also lightly-to-moderately wounded, police said.
Sunday marks both the start of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday commemorating the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av, when Jews mourn the destruction of the temples that once stood on the Temple Mount and other disasters in Jewish history.
Following a security assessment, police said non-Muslims would be barred from entering the Temple Mount, where tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers had arrived during the morning. Hundreds of Jews had gathered at the gates leading to the holy site on Sunday morning.
After another security assessment, some Jewish visitors were allowed to enter the site.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry slammed Israel on Sunday for using force against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Jerusalem holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount, after clashes erupted there between the Israel Police and Muslim worshipers earlier in the day.
“We completely condemn Israel’s violations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Jordanian FM Ayman Safadi tweeted. “The occupation authorities’ absurd actions and attempts to change the status quo in occupied Jerusalem will only lead to the conflict being exacerbated and the situation blowing up, threatening international peace and security. We call on the international community to assume its responsibilities and pressure Israel to stop its violations.”
In a statement, Sufyan Qudah, the Jordanian ministry’s spokesman, condemned the “continuation of barefaced Israeli violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the last of which was Israeli forces’ aggression against worshipers and members of the Jerusalem Waqf’s administrative staff in the noble sanctuary.”
“The kingdom completely rejects these absurd practices and irresponsible provocations on the first day of blessed Eid al-Adha and holds the Israeli government responsible for all of their ramifications,” he added.
Sunday marked both the start of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday commemorating the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av, when Jews mourn the destruction of the temples that once stood on the Temple Mount and other disasters in Jewish history.
Israeli soldiers fired at a Palestinian terrorist on the Gaza border on Sunday, the military said, and a Palestinian medic said the man was killed.
It was the second such incident since Saturday, when Israeli troops shot dead four heavily armed Palestinians who attempted to cross the volatile border.
“IDF troops spotted an armed terrorist approaching the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The terrorist opened fire toward the troops,” the military said in a statement.
The soldiers returned fire and an Israeli tank fired at a post belonging to Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that rules Gaza.
A Palestinian medic told Reuters the man was killed. The IDF said no Israelis were hurt in the incident.
The IDF’s Golani Brigade’s 12th Battalion foiled a pre-dawn terrorist attack along the Gaza Strip border on Saturday when it shot four armed Palestinians attempting to infiltrate into southern Israel.
“We stopped a very large and significant terrorist attack,” said IDF spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis.
The commander of the brigade, Lt.-Col. A, commended the troops who “carried out the mission in a professional manner” and prevented the infiltration.
“This morning, we received reports of a number of suspects moving toward the fence,” he said. “Battalion fighters scrambled to the area where commanders and troops engaged and killed the terrorists.” The commander added that “we will continue to do everything to ensure that the area’s residents continue to sleep quietly.”
According to the military, the incident began at 4 a.m. when four men were observed approaching the fence.
The group – armed with AK-47 assault rifles, RPG launchers and hand grenades – were shot dead after one of the men scaled the border fence and hurled a grenade at Golani Brigade soldiers.
Armed Gaza terrorists stopped by IDF when infiltrating into Israel
#Gaza Terrorists attempted to infiltrate into Israel early Saturday morning, in order to slaughter Israelis. The terrorists were equipped with assault rifles, RPG grenade launchers & hand grenades. They were stopped. Israeli will continue to protect its citizens from terrorism.
Tonight we salute Sgt. Y & hundreds of IDF soldiers who monitor Israel’s borders using cameras & other technology. Today she spotted 4 armed terrorists on their way to carry out a brutal terror attack in Israel.
Because of her they were stopped. And innocent lives were saved. pic.twitter.com/z4KnXvQciF
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 10, 2019
Upon further investigation, HonestReporting noted that the piece was taken from the Associated Press. The original piece, however, had a different headline: “Israeli army kills 4 militants trying to cross Gaza fence.” Though this headline is also problematic, failing to note that the terrorists actively attacked Israeli soldiers, at least it correctly identifies them as combatants.
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) August 10, 2019
Clearly, someone at The Independent saw the Associated Press story and decided to run it — but not before changing the headline to obscure the fact that these men were terrorists carrying a substantial supply of bullets and grenades together with RPGs, rifles and knives.
Describing these individuals as merely “Palestinians” would seem to be a deliberate attempt to cover up for terrorists and is utterly unacceptable.
HonestReporting has filed a complain with The Independent and will be updating this page if and when any response is received.
This headline is unacceptable, @dwnews. The subheadline is arguably even worse.
These weren’t mere “Palestinians”; they were armed to the teeth. Hamas can “dispute” this as much as they want, but these men were intent on killing Israelis. pic.twitter.com/mZpYEHYxiV
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) August 11, 2019
An off-duty soldier was abducted and murdered in cold blood by Palestinian assailants, but Netanyahu calling the act terrorist is what “ramps up tensions.”
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) August 11, 2019
Germany has, in fact, been decidedly hostile to Israel in recent years… Germany continues to provide millions of euros annually to organizations that promote anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and “lawfare” campaigns, anti-Zionism, antisemitism, and violence, according to NGO Monitor.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in 2008 that Israel’s security is “non-negotiable” and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in 2018 that he went into politics “because of Auschwitz.” In practice, however, Germany consistently appears to prioritize its relations with Israel’s enemies.
Instex, an initiative of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, would enable European trade with Iran despite U.S. sanctions. It would facilitate barter-based trade with Iran in products such as pharmaceuticals and foods, but Tehran has repeatedly insisted that Instex must include trade in oil for the mechanism to make economic sense.
Seven months after its formation, Instex remains non-operational, in part because Iran still does not comply with international legal standards to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
Emmy-winning actor David Clennon wrote in an op-ed piece that he chose not to audition for a role on a new Netflix series because he didn’t want to work with Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, the creators of Fauda, because that series “had been criticized for its portrayal of Palestinians and for its tendency to justify Israel’s human rights abuses.”
Clennon, who appeared on the series Weeds as a dying man who allows his wife to have lovers, said on the TruthOut.org website on August 7 that he was initially enthusiastic about auditioning for the role in Sycamore (previously titled Hit and Run), because “the role of Martin Wexler, a series regular character described as an American politician, living in New York – approachable, distinguished, practiced and elusive” intrigued him, and because he had not worked for over a year.
The series, which Raz and Issacharoff are creating along with Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin, creators of the Amazon comedy Z: The Beginning of Everything, was described by Deadline as the story of a “happily married man whose life is turned upside down when his wife is killed in a mysterious hit and run accident.”
But upon learning that the series would be produced by the Fauda creators, Clennon felt compelled to decline the audition and to write about this decision: “I believe the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is of special importance, and I admire the professors and artists who have refused to lecture or to perform in Israel. Through their refusal, they have denied Israel the legitimacy and the prestige it seeks in the world community.”
Towards the end of the piece, Clennon admitted, “My refusal to collaborate with Israeli producers will have a negligible effect on this expensive and ambitious project.”
BBC audiences were not however told that – as later documented by “local media” – the wounded members of the family were given first aid by a Palestinian resident of the Hebron area and his wife.
“In the moments after the Friday drive-by shooting attack that killed Rabbi Miki Mark outside the West Bank city of Hebron, a local Palestinian couple helped the surviving members of his family escape the overturned vehicle and administered first aid until first responders arrived at the scene. […]
After he managed to pry one of the doors open, the man, who wasn’t named in the report, said he pulled 14-year-old Tehila from the wrecked car.
He said his wife, who is a medical doctor, worked to stanch the bleeding from the teen’s abdominal wound while he called an ambulance to the scene.”
The man’s actions resulted in his being sacked from his job. Shots were fired and Molotov cocktails thrown at his house. The harassment and death threats he endured due to having helped Israelis wounded in a terror attack led him to seek refuge in Israel. This week he and his family were granted residency.
On the morning of August 8th the BBC News website published a report titled “Israel hunts killer of off-duty soldier in West Bank” on its ‘Middle East’ page. The report has since undergone various amendments but the headline and opening paragraph describing Dvir Sorek as an “off-duty soldier” even though he had yet to undergo any military training remain unchanged.
Unsurprisingly, the only use of the word ‘terrorist’ throughout the report came in direct quotes from the Israeli prime minister and an IDF spokesman.
One hundred and five of the report’s 414 words were given over to uncritical amplification of statements from a terrorist organisation.
“There has been no claim of responsibility for the killing, though a spokesman for Hamas, the Palestinian militant group which rules the Gaza Strip, justified the attack.
“The Etzion [Jewish settlement bloc] Operation was as much as a response to the crimes of Occupation, the latest of which was the one committed at Wadi Hummus; it is also a response to the continued occupation of the Palestinian territory,” Hazem Qasim said.
He was referring to the recent demolition by Israel of Palestinian homes in the area of Wadi Hummus which Israel said were built illegally too close to the separation barrier in the West Bank.”
British Special Forces have adopted an electric motorcycle developed in Israel, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday.
The motorcycles can reach speeds of 50 kilometers/hour (30 mph) and can be dropped from a plane. They operate on electricity and make no sound.
The motorcycles can also carry equipment for troops, Israel Hayom reports.
In a recent exercise, the British Army parachuted the motorcycles from a helicopter together with soldiers who ten traveled on the vehicles 10 miles in silence to the target.
Generals observing the exercise were taken with the technology and potential of the motorcycles and said that it marked the future generation of the world of combat, the paper reported.
“There is a quiet, environmentally friendly tool that allows quiet access to a distant target and to attack it quickly,” said a senior army official, reported Israel Hayom.
As the dog days of August descend upon Israel and the long school vacation continues, Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot needs to keep her kids busy just like the rest of us, and took her daughters Alma and Maya out to the Tel Baruch beach on Thursday.
There, they donned bathing suits, took a dip and met up with one of Gadot’s closest friends, model and television presenter Yael Goldman and her daughter, all documented in photos published on the Pnai Plus website.
When it was time for lunch, they headed to the beachfront restaurant, Blue.
Just like any other bunch of Israeli moms and daughters – except that Gadot’s daughter, Alma, recently voiced one of the hatchlings in the just-released movie, Angry Birds 2, alongside Nicole Kidman’s daughter, while Goldman’s daughter dubbed one of the voices for the Israeli version of the film.
David Collier: Plant trees for those that stand with us #TreesForOurHeroes
This is the start of a campaign to plant trees in Israel for those heroes that have stood by the Jewish community when we needed them to help fight rising antisemitism.
Jewish people in the UK are facing rising antisemitism. It is part of a global trend, but since 2015 we have seen a sudden and worrying increase within the UK. The Jewish community has understandably mobilised, but we have not stood alone.
Fortunately there have been many of other faiths – and of none – who have been willing to offer support. In some cases this has brought them abuse, threats, isolation in their workplace or from family and friends, even expulsion from community organisations – only because they have been brave enough to say #enoughisenough and stand alongside us against rising antisemitism.
Whether it is a friend, a colleague, someone you met because you are both fighting antisemitism, an article you read, a speech you heard or just because someone told you about them – as a community we should recognise that these friends have stood with us when we needed them.
Jews are a small minority. Jewish people are not in every room. As the hate spreads a long way from Jewish areas, it takes a brave person to stand up alone in a hostile room and fight back against the spread of #antisemitism. These people could just keep quiet, but they haven’t. They stood up for us. It is not about whether the battle is ongoing or not. As a community we should recognise them for what they have done and say thank you.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.