April 3, 2020

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09/01 Links Pt2: Palestinian cleric who called Holocaust a fairy tale to meet UK MPs; Glick: The strategic case for Kurdistan


From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The strategic case for Kurdistan
If the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan aren’t intimidated into standing down, on September 25, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan will go to the polls to vote on a referendum for independence.
The Kurds have been hoping to hold the referendum since 2013.
Whereas Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restated his support for Kurdish independence earlier this month in a meeting with a delegation of visiting Republican congressmen, the Trump administration has urged Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and his colleagues to postpone the referendum indefinitely.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who visited with Barzani in the Kurdish capital of Erbil two weeks ago, said that the referendum would harm the campaign against Islamic State.
In his words, “Our point right now is to stay focused like a laser beam on the defeat of ISIS and to let nothing distract us.”
Another line of argument against the Kurdish referendum was advanced several weeks ago by The New York Times editorial board. The Times argued the Kurds aren’t ready for independence. Their government suffers from corruption, their economy is weak, their democratic institutions are weak and their human rights record is far from perfect.
While the Times’ claims have truth to them, the relevant question is compared to what?
Compared to their neighbors, not to mention to the Times’ favored group the Palestinians, the Kurds, who have been self-governing since 1991, are paragons of good governance. Not only have they given refuge to tens of thousands of Iraqis fleeing ISIS. Iraqi Kurdistan has been an island of relative peace in a war-torn country since the US-led invasion in 2003.
Its Peshmerga forces have not only secured Kurdistan. They have been the most competent force fighting ISIS since its territorial conquests in 2014.

My experience in Israel: It is not what you see on TV

I recently traveled to Israel as part of a study abroad program through the American University in Washington, DC. As a master’s student concentrating on peace and conflict resolution and as a Kurd from northern Iraq, I was curious about the intense hostility toward Jews in the Middle East, the negative bias in the mainstream media and the continuous antisemitic lectures and activities on college campuses, including my own university.
My trip to Israel was unique. I was able to travel there through the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Having departed from the Sulaymaniyah International Airport in the KRI, I was sent off with a smile among my fellow Kurds without any shame, despite the fact that a trip to Israel is taboo among Middle Easterners.
Upon arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport, I was briefly held back by security due to concerns about a first-time traveler to Israel coming from an Arab state with no diplomatic relations (Iraq). This was understandable and expected, I too expect heavy screening towards foreigners entering the KRI due to the hostility of the region. I successfully and peacefully passed through airport security with a visa that would allow me to stay beyond my permitted time.
My first interaction with an Israeli was with a taxi driver driving me to my hotel. His conversations were animated, his politics realistic. He said he doesn’t care what religion one believes in, he just wants to live in peace. I tested the waters and told him I was Kurdish and he was very excited.
His eyes lit up and he immediately called for establishing a Kurdistan without my prodding. “That was easy,” I said to myself.
My time in Tel Aviv was brief, a little over a week. But what the city offered was unprecedented to me, especially in the Middle East. It is modern, filled will young Israelis enjoying life at the beaches, nightlife spots, restaurants. It is also historical and diverse. I witnessed Muslims and Jews intermingling, mosques calling for prayer, Arab families enjoying their time together on the beaches after breaking their fast. No one bothered others; everyone minded their own business. I tried hard to discover instances of negative interactions between the two peoples, but they even smoked hookah together at the local café.

Palestinian cleric who called Holocaust a fairy tale ‘to meet MPs’

The Holocaust denying former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who has called for Britain to be destroyed, is set to visit Parliament next week.
Sheikh Ekrima Sabri will be in Britain from 11 to 15 September, as guest of pro-Palestine group EuroPal to discuss the “recent escalation” in Israel with MPs.
Sabri has a history of anti-Semitic and terrorist-supporting views, which led to his removal as Jerusalem’s Islamic leader by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2006.
He threatened that Jewish prayer at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount would “prompt massacres” and lead to “rivers of blood”. And during interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica, Sabri flatly denied the Holocaust, stating: “Six million Jews dead? No way, they were much fewer. Let’s stop with this fairy tale exploited by Israel to capture international solidarity.”
A petition has been launched by Christian United For Israel UK (CUFI UK) urging Home Secretary Amber Rudd to ban him. France blocked his entry in 2012. You can view the petition here.
CUFI UK executive director Des Starritt said: “At a time of increased fear of Islamic extremism in our country, it is inconceivable that our Government would grant a radical hate preacher such a platform. This strikes a message of double standards. It implies terrorism against Jews is acceptable.”

Israel’s Egyptian spy: Double agent or nothing?

Dr. Ashraf Marwan remains a riddle in his death, just as he was in his life.
The man who for a large part of the Israeli intelligence community is considered the most senior spy in the history of the state, the one who warned on the eve of Yom Kippur in 1973 that war was about to break out, was also, according to others, a double agent who was trying to get the Israelis to fall into his trap – with some success.
He was an Egyptian billionaire, and happened to be the son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. He also served in the Presidential Office under Nasser and was a close aide to Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat.
On June 27, 2007, at the age of 63, he died mysteriously.
“I do not have to prove to anyone that our sources were first-class,” says Zvi Zamir, head of the Mossad in 1973, and the one who met with Marwan on October 5 in London and heard about the date of the war.
“In Military Intelligence, they treated him as a double agent without having any proof. We proved that he was not. I hope you will understand the importance of such intelligence at a time when war was expected. Ashraf Marwan was an unparalleled source in our history.”
Eli Zeira, who was the head of Military Intelligence during the Yom Kippur War, led the double-agent theory, but it turns out that in the intelligence division, Zeira wasn’t alone in his theory: Maj.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Gazit believes that Marwan’s contribution was mostly harmful, since the warning he delivered came only hours before the outbreak of the war.
“Fifty-five percent [certain that] Marwan was a double agent,” Gazit volunteered. “I did not care about his death, but the phenomenon is important to me. I have a clear opinion – whether he was a real agent or a double agent – that the damage he caused was terrible. If we hadn’t used Marwan, the State of Israel, being led by the IDF, would have prepared for the war a week earlier when news began to arrive about what was happening in Egypt. But they said that if Marwan didn’t tell us about it, it wasn’t serious, it was just an exercise. That doesn’t mean he was a double agent. But the fact is that when you have a super-agent – a super-super-super agent – you are enslaved to him.”
In Lugano, Switzerland, I caught up with Dr. Ahron Bregman, who lives in London and teaches at King’s College in the Department of War Studies. Bregman was the man who revealed Marwan’s name in 2002, and he was the Israeli who was closest to the Egyptian spy in his last years, particularly in his last days.
Last year Bregman published a book called The Spy who Fell to Earth about his relationship with Marwan.

Yisrael Medad: It Was Another Terror that Established Israel

As Tom Suarez intimated he will give a talk at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Sept 18, 7:00 PM, I’m rushing this.
He is the author of “State of Terror: How terrorism created modern Israel”, published by Olive Branch Press, Northampton, Massachusetts, 2017, p. 417:
“Zionist Terror” is a basic theme among those who are uncomfortable with Jewish nationalism. The victims of it are either the British, the Arabs or both as well as peacefel Jews. Some people have even gone to extremes. Like Robert Fisk.
In Suarez’s blurb, we read of a
…meticulously researched book…the violent takeover of Palestine by Zionism, a European settler movement hailing from the era of ethnic nationalism.
Tapping a trove of declassified British documents, much of which has never before been published, the book details a shocking campaign of Zionist terrorism in 1940s and 1950s Palestine that targeted anyone who challenged its messianic settler goals

Such language is not one of a neutral or objective scholar and Suarez’s book, praised by make-up historian Ilan Pappé, and a sloppy one, and the anti-Semitic-tainted Baroness Jenny Tonge, certainly is not such a scholarly volume despite the material he includes. (As for “never before published”, I find such a claim baseless and see the partial material I listed above). To borrow a phrase from Benny Morris, Suarez has an aversion to Zionism. And he had that before writing this book. This book is not the result of quality research but of his aversion too anything connected to Zionism, even legitimate self-defense. It is tainted in addition to be lacking in historical perspective, the presentation of a comprehensive perspective of the history of the British Mandate for Palestine period, the actions of the Arabs and the actual events which resulted from the violence perpetrated by Jews.
Tom Suarez has complained that “a Zionist campaign of distortions” has interfered with his speaking tour to promote “State of Terror”. Audiences, he decries, are being deprived of learning of his research conclusions. Suarez, a professional violinist, seems to have been more engaged in cacophony than harmony in writing his book but that I have to prove.

British Theater Has an Enemy, and Its Name Is Israel

On the eve of Yom Kippur, the 2005 play My Name Is Rachel Corrie will return to the London stage. The play, which amounts to little more than crass anti-Israel propaganda, is based on the story of its title character, who died after throwing herself in front of an IDF bulldozer at the behest of the International Solidarity Movement, an organization dedicated to providing cover for Hamas. David Herman sees a pattern “of anti-Israel bias in British theater.”
Over the past twenty years there have been a number of plays attacking Israel: My Name Is Rachel Corrie, Alive from Palestine: Stories under the Occupation, David Hare’s Via Dolorosa, and Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza. In 2014 the Tricycle Theater refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival because it received funding from the Israeli embassy. The Tricycle was supported by Nicholas Hytner, then director of the National Theater. In addition, [the playwright] Harold Pinter, [the producer] Michael Kustow, and [the playwright] Arnold Wesker all became vocal critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Along with Churchill and Hare, these were major figures in British theater. . . .
At Edinburgh this summer, Jackie Walker, a left-wing activist suspended from the Labor party over accusations of anti-Semitism, had a one-woman show, The Lynching, which included predictable attacks on Israel. A banner draped in front of the audience read: “Anti-Semitism is a crime. Anti-Zionism is a duty.”

Another play on the subject—Oslo—is also coming to London. Although this play is hardly distinguished for its sympathy to Israel or its sensitivity to the realities of the conflict, Herman notes that “it is inconceivable that it would have been commissioned by a British theater or written by a well-known British playwright,” as its (pro-forma) attempts at evenhandedness make it a far cry from the “shrill agitprop” preferred by the British stage.

NGO Monitor: Amnesty’s 50 Years Publication: Four Outrageous Distortions

On August 25, 2017, Amnesty International posted an article on their website, accompanied by a social media campaign, to mark “50 years since Israel issued Military Order 101,” claiming that the law “punishes Palestinians for peaceful political expression.” Amnesty’s analysis of “four facts” grossly manipulates and misrepresents the law; the flawed analysis and biased approach are typical of the NGO’s disproportionate singling out of Israel for condemnation, concentrating solely on the conflict with the Palestinians and erasing the context of terrorism.
The following demonstrates Amnesty’s four distortions and falsehoods in its analysis of Military Order 101 (which was formulated during the 1967 war):
(1) Amnesty International manipulates the reader by stating that “unless an Israeli military commander provides authorization in advance, Palestinians in the West Bank are banned from attending and organizing a procession…” This statement is incorrect for several reasons. First, under international humanitarian law, the legal paradigm that Amnesty claims applies to the conflict, there is no right whatsoever to assembly or to engage in protests. Nevertheless, the Israeli military order allows for such events to take place. The only demonstrations requiring a permit under the law are those that raise the specter of incitement to violence or have links to terror groups. Other gatherings can be held without prior permission. Second, the requirement to receive a permit from Israel only applies to Area C of the West Bank, which according to the 1993 Oslo Accords is under Israeli jurisdiction.
Also omitted by Amnesty is the requirement in most democratic countries (if not all) to receive a permit for political demonstrations and other protests that exceed a certain number of participants or that may pose concerns to public order and safety. This requirement is also fully in keeping with international human rights law and specifically the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Objections to Israel’s BDS Law are Overwrought and Hypocritical

In July, five leaders of the virulent BDS groups Jewish Voice for Peace and American Muslims for Palestine were barred at Dulles International Airport from boarding a flight to Israel. The move reportedly was the result of an amendment to Israel’s Law of Entry denying admission of senior activists of leading BDS organizations to the country.
Predictably, the incident raised the usual hysterical chorus that Israel was attacking free speech, banning dissent and no longer a democracy.
Despite these exaggerated charges, the decision to deny these BDS militants entry and the amendments to the law must be seen in context.
From its very inception, Israel has been faced with conventional and asymmetrical military and political threats from its neighbors, coupled with organized economic and diplomatic boycotts spearheaded by the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. The Arab-Israeli conflict is unique, however, in that in conjunction with this state action targeting the country, an army of political activists is provided tens of millions of euros, dollars and francs by the European Union, European governments, the United Nations, churches and private foundations to produce rank propaganda, harass and seek arrest warrants of traveling Israeli officials and advance economic warfare against the State of Israel.
These campaigns go far beyond a critique of specific Israeli policies but are aimed at the country’s very existence.

‘Ensuring accuracy’ at the BBC Monitoring Jerusalem office

Earlier this year BBC Monitoring advertised some vacancies in its Jerusalem office, including a position titled Digital Journalist that was described as follows:
“On a day-to-day basis, you will contribute to the BBC’s coverage of the Middle East by monitoring local media for key developments, coming up with new angles, ensuring accuracy and adding context as well as integrating video, images and data into BBCM’s output.”
The successful applicant for that position is apparently called Vera Sajrawi.
A native of Nazareth, Sajrawi has in the past worked for BBC Arabic, Reuters and Al Jazeera among others.
Sajrawi has claimed that “AIPAC is the American group lobbying for more weapons for Israel to kill Palestinians” and is apparently at ease with the notion that ‘the occupation’ commenced in 1948.

That obviously does not bode well for BBC Monitoring’s commitment to “ensuring accuracy”, for consumers of supposedly impartial BBC Middle East related content or for clients (including the UK government) relying on the information it provides to help them make “well-informed decisions”.

Christian Century Does Right Thing, Removes James M. Wall From Masthead

Christian Century, the house organ for mainline Protestantism in the United States, has done the right thing. It removed James M. Wall from the masthead of the print version of its publication.
His name (which oddly enough, is still listed on the publication’s website) last appeared in the July 5, 2017 issue of the magazine. Wall’s name did not appear in the July 19, 2017 issue of the publication and has not appeared since.
The magazine did not make any announcement about its decision to remove Wall’s name from the masthead of the print version of the magazine, but it is an important moment in the publication’s history.
Between 1972 and 1999, Wall served as Christian Century’s editor. After he stepped down as editor, Wall served as a regular columnist for the magazine until 2008. As editor and columnist, Wall demonstrated an inveterate hostility toward Israel and a troubling tendency to get things wrong when writing about the Jewish state. His name regularly appeared in CAMERA articles.
In 2012, Wall was appointed to the editorial board of Veterans News Now, an antisemitic website that, among other things, promoted the writings of David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The magazine’s hostility was so evident that at one point, Yahoo blocked it from its news feed.
CAMERA produced a number of articles highlighting Wall’s affiliation with VNN.

Western social media firms under fire as Iranians hint at dialogue over censorship

Several social media companies in the West have been criticised for a perceived lack of transparency in alleged talks with the Iranian government on censoring content to the approval of the country’s strict religious authorities.
Instagram, currently available in Iran – as well as Twitter and YouTube, which are blocked but widely visited by Iranians using proxy servers – have all been reported by local media in recent weeks as as co-operating with Tehran to block or censor “immoral” content.
Newly installed communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi has been clear that he intends to shake up the status quo, promising citizens easier access to the internet and app platforms.
What happened when US officials were asked why they criticised Iran but not Saudi Arabia
He has been quoted in several Iranian newspapers as claiming that the government is in fresh talks with social media companies to allow them to operate more freely within Iran as long as they adhere to the country’s strict “morality” rules.
“[Twitter] has announced that it is prepared to negotiate to resolve problems,” he told a daily newspaper last week, adding that officials had also reached out to YouTube representatives.
In news reports earlier this month, outgoing communications minister Mahmoud Vaezi said that the Supreme Council of Cyberspace (SCC) had also begun talks with managers at photo-based service Instagram to block “immodest” pages from being viewed within the country.

Anti-Semitic French comedian to travel to North Korea

French comedian Dieudonne, convicted for racist and anti-Semitic comments in the past, has announced that he plans to travel to North Korea next month.
Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala will travel to the reclusive nation on September 9 along with far-right writer Alain Soral, who has already visited Pyongyang to “work for peace,” the comedian said in a video posted on YouTube last week.
“At a time when the United States is organizing military exercises on the Korean peninsula, I believe we have to take action,” Dieudonne said, adding that he would take part in a “peace festival” in Pyongyang.
Early on Tuesday, North Korea fired a missile over Japan, the latest in a series of launches, prompting US President Donald Trump to warn that “all options” were on the table in an implied threat of military action.
The UN Security Council denounced the latest test, unanimously demanding that Pyongyang halt its missile program.
Dieudonne has made headlines often, most notably with his trademark “quenelle” hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute, but which he insists is merely anti-establishment.

‘Gas All Jews,’ swastika drawn on South African campus

The University of Pretoria in South Africa condemned hate speech after “Gas All Jews” and swastikas were found drawn on campus message boards.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies umbrella organization contacted the university’s vice chancellor to express its concern about the graffiti on message boards in the humanities building.
“The University of Pretoria condemns any form of discrimination and hate speech and will not hesitate to act against anyone found guilty of this type of behavior,” the university said in a statement. “When the University became aware of a notice board that was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti on its Hatfield campus, we immediately removed it and notified campus security to investigate the incident.”
The board praised the university for the “swift removal” of the offensive boards as soon as the graffiti was reported by the South African Union of Jewish Students.
Last week, a South African politician mocked the Holocaust and its victims on social media.
“For those claiming the legacy of the holocaust is ONLY negative think about the lampshades and Jewish soap,” tweeted Andile Mngxitama, who heads the Black First Land First party, which has no seats in the country’s National Assembly.

Movie in works about how Jewish blogger saved ‘God Hates Fags’ church member

A movie about Megan Phelps-Roper, who left the viciously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church after a Twitter correspondence with a prominent Jewish blogger, is in the works.
The screenplay for the film, with the working title “This Above All,” will be written by Nick Hornby. Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea and Bill Pohlad reportedly have been tapped to produce the film, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The film will be based on Phelps-Roper’s upcoming memoir and a New Yorker article by Adrian Chen that detailed her extended debate on Twitter and via email with David Abitbol, the Jerusalem-based founder of the Jewish culture blog Jewlicious.
Phelps-Roper’s exit from Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas-based congregation notorious for picketing the funerals of gay men and American soldiers killed overseas with signs like “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” was facilitated in part by her correspondence with Abitbol, whose name she found on a list of prominent Jewish Twitter users published by JTA in 2009.
Westboro Baptist Church member Margie Phelps, aunt of former church member Megan Phelps-Roper, rails against Jews and Israel in a protest outside the Washington offices of the Anti-Defamation League, May 8, 2009. (Eric Fingerhut via JTA)
Phelps-Roper is the granddaughter of church founder Fred Phelps, who pioneered the church’s radical theology. The church claims that President Barack Obama is the Antichrist and celebrates the AIDS epidemic as God’s strategy to rid the world of the evil of homosexuality. The Anti-Defamation League has called the church a “small virulently homophobic, anti-Semitic hate group.”

Following Modi’s Visit, Israel Hopes to Welcome 100,000 Indian Tourists in 2018

The number of Indian tourists visiting Israel is said to be surging following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Jewish state earlier this summer.
An Israeli tourism official quoted by Indian media outlets during a recent visit to the subcontinent stated his country was hoping to welcome 100,000 tourists from India next year.
Modi’s July trip to Israel, Hassan Madah — the director of the Israeli Tourism Ministry’s India section — noted, delivered a “positive message.”
According to Madah, 44,672 Indians traveled to Israel in 2016 and the number for 2017 is expected to rise to around 55,000.
Reaching the ambitious goal of 100,000 for 2018 will likely be contingent on the finalization of a deal to launch direct Air India flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.
Israel and India are currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of the official establishment of diplomatic relations. Ties between the two countries have flourished in recent years and Modi’s tour of Israel last month was the first ever by a sitting Indian prime minister.

Son of Mumbai terror victims granted visa to India

Moshe Holtzberg, the son of Chabad emissaries to India Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, received on Wednesday an entry visa to India.
India’s Ambassador to Israel granted Holtzberg the visa after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised the visa six weeks ago. Holtzberg’s maternal grandparents, who are raising him, also received an entry visa.
During his visit to Israel, Modi met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Moshe, Sandra, and all four of Moshe’s grandparents.
Both Gavriel (Gabi) and Rivka were murdered in 2008 when Muslim terrorists entered their Chabad House and slaughtered them. Moshe’s life was saved by his nanny, Sandra, who managed to escape the area holding him in her arms.
According Moshe’s grandfather Shimon Rosenberg, Moshe plans to take his parents’ place as the Chabad emissary to India when he gets older.
“He was born there, and for him, that’s his home,” Rosenberg explained. “He wants to hold his bar mitzva in India, and go on a tour of the area to find his roots. Obviously, he will also visit the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe at the same time.”

French President Emmanuel Macron to Visit Israel in 2018

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday he will visit Israel next year amid a new French peace push in the Middle East.
Macron made the announcement when speaking with some 200 French diplomats in Paris. He said he intends to advance a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that Israel’s capital of Jerusalem should also be the Palestinian capital. The French leader is also slated to visit Lebanon, Jordan and the West Bank next year.
On the eve of France’s presidential election in May, then-candidate Macron stated that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state would create instability and damage France’s relationship with Israel. At the same time, Macron blasted Israel for its continued “colonization process,” referring to settlement construction, which he argued threatens a two-state solution.
Macron has previously referred to boycotts of Israel as “profoundly antisemitic,” and has said anti-Zionism “leads directly to antisemitism.”

Blind soldier fulfills lifetime dream of joining the IDF

Daniel Defur’s wish was to serve in the IDF.
Defur, who is blind, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about three wishes he had, including a deep desire to serve in the IDF.
In a Facebook post to his two million followers, Netanyahu promised to help Daniel enlist. Shortly afterward, the Prime Minister reached out to Special in Uniform, a program that integrates young men and women with disabilities into the IDF.
“Of course, we jumped into action, working with Daniel and the IDF to find the right base and position for him,” said Tiran Attia, Director of Special in Uniform. Daniel is the first blind teenager to enter the program, which is supported by JNF-USA.
On Thursday in his Jerusalem office, Netanyahu welcomed the new soldier to congratulate him on achieving his dream.
“Most societies see what people lack,” the Israeli premier said, “let’s keep being the country that looks for what every individual has to give. You are showing us all what a true champion looks like.”

IDF Officer Critically Wounded in Gaza War Promoted in Recognition of Recovery and Return to Service

IDF officer Shai Siman-Tov — who was critically wounded when a tunnel collapsed on him under the Shuja’iyya neighborhood in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 — will be promoted to the rank of colonel in recognition of his recovery and return to the army, the Israeli military announced on Thursday.
At the time of the incident, Siman-Tov was a lieutenant colonel commanding the Golani Brigade’s 12th Battalion.
After a lengthy rehabilitation process, Siman-Tov — whose injuries left him paralyzed and in need of a wheelchair — returned to service in the IDF in October 2015 and is now a team leader at the Tactical Command College.

In Israel, Conan O’Brien Floats in Dead Sea, Dines With Netanyahu, Trains With IDF

American television host Conan O’Brien visited Israel for the first time this week to film an episode of his “Conan Without Borders” show for TBS. The episode is scheduled to air on Sept. 19.
When announcing the trip to Israel earlier this month, the comedian joked that he would be arriving around the same time as an American diplomatic delegation led by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and offered to “work with the guy (Kushner)” to advance peace talks.
The comedian’s five-day trip saw him go clubbing in Tel Aviv, schmooze with locals in the Old City of Jerusalem and enjoy reading a Hebrew-language Garfield comic strip while floating in Dead Sea. O’Brien also visited the West Bank and smoked hookah with a Palestinian vendor in Bethlehem.
On Wednesday, the television host trained with the IDF’s Caracal Battalion — one of Israeli military’s only mixed-gender combat units. On Monday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted O’Brien for a meal, and the comedian fed the Israeli leader’s dog cucumbers at the dinner table.
“If you tried to give an American dog a cucumber, it would punch you,” O’Brien joked.
Throughout his trip, O’Brien jested with Israelis wherever he went, and documented his journey through the Holy Land with quips and photos on his Twitter account. His visit was coordinated with Israel’s Keshet Media Group and the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

IsraellyCool: Conan O’Brien Amazed By Israel’s Work Treating Wounded Syrians

There have so far been many highlights from Conan O’Brien’s trip to Israel, but his visit to Safed’s Ziv Medical Center where he saw Israel treating wounded Syrian civilians might just take the cake.
TV personality Conan O’Brien, who is filming a documentary film Conan in Israel, which will be screened in the US later this month, told medical teams at Safed’s Ziv Medical Center that they “deserve a Nobel Peace Prize” for their treatment of Syrian wounded.
He first spoke to Dr. Alejandro Roizentol, head of the oral and maxillofacial department, and then to Fares Issa, who is in charge of sociopsychological care for the Syrian civilians of all ages wounded in the civil war. He also talked to the Syrian patients themselves and asked how they felt when their lives were saved by people they had perceived as an enemy, and he let one child play with his smartphone.
“I am amazed and excited by what is being done here at Ziv for the sake of people from a neighboring country and an enemy, and I think you are the ones who need to receive the Nobel Peace Prize,” O’Brien told the medical teams.
In the last four years, Ziv and the Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya have been providing life-saving medical care to a few thousand civilians whom the IDF has taken from the Syrian border to receive treatment.
Roizentol said his visit symbolizes the world’s recognition of the tragedy taking place in Syria and the humanitarian activities of Ziv and the State of Israel.
“I am only one of the many excellent and moral staffers who carry out humanitarian principles and the doctors’ oath to reach out to anyone in need,” he said.

With Conan’s visit and the exposure it brings, it is going to be a lot harder to hide the truth as to the amazing humanitarian work Israel is quietly doing.
In the meantime, haters like Linda Sarsour can talk to death about Syrians, but it is those “Zionists” doing more than most to actually make a difference.

IsraellyCool: Stars Including Iggy Azalea, Warren G & Mark McGrath Perform at FIDF Fundraiser

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Young Leadership of Los Angeles, in partnership with Israeli-American Council (IAC), recently put on a “ReKood Music Fest” which raised more than $250,000 to support the IDF.
And how’s this for a line-up?
Headlining the sold-out dance fest were Australian rap star Iggy Azalea, Lil Dicky, DJ Vice and Warren G, backed by such stars as DJ Child’s Play and DJ Aaron Colbert. Making a special guest appearance was Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, who performed with Maggie Speaks.
Another fail for Roger Waters.

Honoring Former Senator Mark Kirk as a True Friend of Israel

Mark S. Kirk has been described by some as Israel’s best friend in Washington. A crowd of nearly 250 people recently gathered at the Northbrook Hilton outside of Chicago to show their gratitude to the former Republican senator, at an event sponsored by the political action committee To Protect Our Heritage.
First elected to Congress in 2000, Kirk served Illinois’s 10th Congressional District before winning an open US Senate seat in 2010. And throughout his time in both the House and Senate, Kirk was a staunch defender and advocate for the Jewish state.
A vocal opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, Kirk never minced words over President Barack Obama’s harsh treatment of Israel and the president’s desire for detente with Iran. Kirk coauthored legislation to promote human rights and democracy in Iran, as well as to strengthen and expand sanctions against the Islamic state.
The August 27 political event featured two prominent guests who attested to Kirk’s achievements and leadership in Washington on behalf of Israel.
Gil Hoffman, the chief political correspondent and analyst for the Jerusalem Post, was the evening’s featured speaker. He opened his remarks by telling the former senator, “I voted for you as many times as I could, in accordance to the law here in Chicago.” He added, “I wrote your name in for president of the United States. I was the guy who did that.”

Holocaust survivor celebrates bar mitzvah in Israel, 80 years later

Eighty years after he missed the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony, 93-year-old Holocaust survivor Shalom Shtamberg celebrated his bar mitzvah on Thursday with his family and friends in the northern city of Haifa.
Shtamberg was born in Warsaw, Poland, and should have celebrated his bar mitzvah when he turned 13, but instead he was taken to the Warsaw Ghetto with his family.
He survived, unlike most of his family, by training as an electrician and acquiring skills that made him valued as a good worker.
On Thursday, Shtamberg was picked up from his home by trainee police officers, who drove him to a synagogue in Haifa where he was welcomed by cheering crowds and flower bouquets.
He was given a prayer shawl and read from the Torah scroll before breaking into dance with guests, including his wife.
“I haven’t fulfilled my mission yet because I still have things to do,” Shtamberg said.

In Munich, a Tribute to Israeli Athletes and Families’ Persistence

The Munich 1972 Massacre Memorial, carved into a grassy hillside, is set to open on Sept. 6, commemorating that year’s Olympic Games, when 11 members of the Israeli team and one German police officer were killed by members of the Palestinian group Black September. Ankie Spitzer, whose husband, Andre, a fencing coach, was among those killed at the Munich Games, said, “It took 45 years, but like I tell my kids, if you have a dream, pursue it, if you feel that it is just.”
Spitzer and the other families had urged the Bavarian government for years to erect a memorial and museum at the Olympic Park, where the Israeli team members were initially taken hostage. Two team members were killed there, and the rest, as well as the German policeman, died during a chaotic rescue attempt at a nearby air base. “It is late,” said Ludwig Spaenle, the Bavarian minister of culture, whose office led the project. “But it is not too late.”
The exhibition area includes a 36-foot LED screen that will play a 27-minute loop of news footage broadcast during the crisis. In the center of the memorial, a triangular column will display biographical profiles of each victim in German and English, with photographs.

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