April 12, 2021

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10/12 Links Pt2: Melanie Phillips: As Haley’s comet passes, UN itself must now be a fallen star; Palestinian baby gets heart transplant from Jewish child in medical first


From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: As Haley’s comet passes, UN itself must now be a fallen star
The Trump administration has broken with all that. The US has withdrawn from UNESCO and the UNHRC; Israel is set to withdraw from UNESCO at the end of this year.

This is not enough. The UN itself has to be effectively neutralized, deprived of its power to hurt America and Israel and promote evil in the world.

On the American Thinker website an anonymous army officer outlined how this might be done. The US should steadily withdraw its funding from the UN. It should demand changes to the permanent membership of the Security Council – for example, by getting rid of France, no longer a world power, and bringing in India instead.

In addition, he suggested, the US should clog the schedules of all UN bodies on which it sits with resolutions that would not only divide the membership, but also force them to address awkward questions. For example, resolutions condemning Israeli settlements should be followed up by resolutions on New Zealand’s historically genocidal policies towards the Maoris, Russia’s military adventures in Ukraine and Georgia, Britain’s colonial history, Venezuela’s economic policies and China’s occupation of Tibet.

You get the general idea. Impossible, you think, since the UN is an essential part of the world order? But that world order is bust; and the UN has helped bring it to this pass.

And as for impossible, did anyone ever imagine in their wildest dreams that the president of the United States would be one Donald J. Trump? Desperate times sometimes require desperate measures.

Caroline Glick: Standing up to the elitist mobs

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s sudden resignation this week distressed a lot of Israelis. On the face of things, the widely felt concern makes little sense. After all, Haley wasn’t a lone wolf in the Trump administration.

Then-president Barack Obama’s anti-Israel UN ambassadors Susan Rice and Samantha Power weren’t free agents when they took hostile actions and made hostile statements about Israel. They were speaking and acting as representatives of their boss, Obama.

Just so, in defending Israel by word and deed, Haley was a loyal representative of the policies of her boss, President Donald Trump.

So why did her decision to resign make so many Israelis anxious?

Because while Haley was a loyal representative of the administration, she was more than a mouthpiece. She was a leader.

Leading in a place like the UN means speaking truth to the most powerful sort of mob – the elite mob.

The UN’s mob mentality doesn’t manifest itself in book burnings and mass rallies. Rather, it expresses itself in a thousand ways – often passive-aggressive – every day in UN institutions.

It isn’t just that Haley was forced to cast the lone nay vote last December, when the other 14 Security Council members (including Britain and France) voted in a favor of a resolution demanding that the US reverse its sovereign decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and recognize that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city.

Every day, the UN shows its mob mentality in its obsessive-compulsive bias against the Jewish state.

Nikki Haley triumphed at the UN because she saw through it

Haley, by contrast, may have come in without experience — but that meant she also lacked for illusions. What a difference when someone knows they’re in a viper pit — that the UN is itself the problem.

And has the gumption to say so.

This became apparent the instant Haley opened her first press conference. She had just come from a regularly scheduled Security Council meeting devoted to the Middle East.

It was, Haley noted, her first such meeting. She called it “a bit strange,” given that the parley was supposed to be about how to maintain international peace and security.

Yet instead of being dedicated to, say, Hezbollah’s “illegal buildup of rockets in Lebanon” or Iran’s funding of terrorists or even the slaughter in Syria, it was, she said, “focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.” She confessed she was “new around here,” but she was clearly flabbergasted.

Then the famous words: “I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel.”

“I am here,” she promptly added, “to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.”

It’s hard to think of a single moment quite like it.

IDF kills six Gazans who bomb fence, cross border, run at troops

Six Palestinians were killed and at least 252 protesters were injured in intense clashes with Israeli security forces along the Gaza border on Friday afternoon and evening, the Hamas-run health ministry said.

In the most serious incident, in the south of the Strip, the IDF said several Gazans planted a bomb by the fence. After it exploded, some 20 Palestinians breached the fence, came through and ran at Israeli soldiers stationed in a snipers’ position, who opened fire.

Most of the Gazans pulled back and returned through the fence into the Strip. However, three continued to move towards soldiers, who fired at them, killing them.

The bodies of the three were taken back into the Strip by the rioters, Hadashot TV said.

The army said around 14,000 protesters hurled grenades, bombs, firebombs and rocks at Israeli forces at various locations along the border. Hadashot TV reported that for the first time soldiers were also being shot at with crossbows.

Troops responded with riot dispersal means and live fire as needed, the army said.

Liberman orders fuel transfer to Gaza power plant halted over border violence

In response to heavy rioting and attacks at the border fence, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered a halt to the transfer of fuel into the Gaza Strip on Friday, only days after Israel began allowing hundreds of liters of fuel to be pumped into the Strip to allow increased power for residents.

“Israel will not tolerate a situation in which fuel is allowed into Gaza while terror and violence is used against IDF soldiers and citizens,” a statement from his office said.

Six Palestinians were reportedly killed in intense clashes with Israeli security forces along the Gaza border Friday afternoon, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Gaza media outlets said at least 50 protesters were injured by Israeli fire.

The army said assailants breached the fence and planted a bomb near it, setting alight a section of the barrier. Later several Gazans infiltrated the border and approached an IDF sniper’s post. They were shot and killed.

Meanwhile, ten fires broke out in southern Israel that were sparked by incendiary balloons launched over the border from Gaza as part of the ongoing protests. Heavy smoke from burning tires at the Kerem Shalom crossing in the northern Strip prompted authorities in Israel to order residents of the adjacent kibbutz to stay indoors as firefighters set up large fans to clear the smoke.

Jewish journalists, anti-racism activists barred from Labour event in London

Jewish journalists and activists against anti-Semitism were banned from attending an event organized by leading members of Britain’s Labour Party.

The event Thursday in London featured a speech by John McDonnell, a shadow chancellor of Labour and confidant of party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Dozens of Jewish people who had tickets to the event on Thursday evening, but who had previously spoken out about the anti-Semitism row that engulfed Labour over the summer were told at the last minute that their tickets had been cancelled, The Independent reported. No reason was given to them.

Organizers later accused the people banned, including reporters for The Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News as well as bloggers, of having “previously misrepresented events,” The Independent reported.

Some journalists were later allowed to attend, but they and other journalists were made to pay $10 in attendance fees, that went toward the campaign of activist Jenny Mason to enter parliament.

Labour Rising Star Mohammed Pappu Accused of Spreading Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theories

Israel staged 9/11, the London bombings and the Paris terrorist attacks, according to social media posts attributed to a rising Labour party star who is personally endorsed by leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mohammed Pappu, 26, a newly elected councillor in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, was praised by hard-left Jeremy Corbyn last month for his help to create a “fair, just and decent society.”

However a report in the Times newspaper paints a different picture of Mr. Pappu. The newspaper alleges he publicly shared messages over Facebook accusing Britain of attacking Syria “to install a Rothschild bank” as well as othe posts claiming that Israel had staged 9/11, the London bombings and the Paris terrorist attacks.

Mr. Pappu, an Uber driver, also reportedly uploaded a sermon in which he proclaimed The Smurfs and Hallowe’en were demonic and occult-related, therefore should be avoided by observant Muslim families to protect themselves from the burning “torment of Hell.”

He is backed by the pro-Corbyn Momentum activist group and won the vote to become the black and ethnic minority officer for London Young Labour in February.

Antisemitism Spreads in the United States

In his 1940 film “The Ghost Breakers,” Bob Hope finds himself in Cuba facing a strange menace — zombies. An acquaintance explains, “A zombie has no will of his own. You see them sometimes walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring,” to which Hope famously replies, “You mean like Democrats?”

Twenty-five years after the Oslo peace accords, the progressive Left, which now loudly dominates the Democratic Party, is walking around “with dead eyes, following orders” when it comes to the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Upstart Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decried the “occupation of Palestine” during a television interview but was at a loss when pressed to explain what she actually meant.

Even a moderate Democrat like Cory Booker, previously close to the Jewish community, saw fit to pose with BDS representatives as a means of flaunting his progressive credentials. In general, the progressive view sees Jews not only as “white” but as racists and victimizers because of their presumed power. All this exemplifies the slow erosion of Israel’s status in American culture.

But the disconnect runs even deeper. Like Cortez, the children of the Oslo era don’t remember the negotiations in the 1990s, or then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat for that matter, and have grown up on slogans with buzzwords like “occupation” and “intifada.” On the other hand, this generation, both in the Middle East and outside it, is extremely active online. In fact, 63% of Palestinian kids have access to the internet on a computer and 51% report they own a smartphone. The internet is already playing a significant role in their lives and what they are seeing is the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel, not Palestinian society suffering under Hamas or Palestinian Authority oppression.

Is the anti-Israel tide in Europe starting to turn?

Surveys conducted by the Foreign Ministry in major ‎European countries show a clear rise in support for ‎Israel, Israel Hayom learned Thursday.‎

The polls found a rising trend of support for Israel in Germany, ‎Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, which for many years were hubs of hostility toward Israel.‎

The surveys were conducted in 2017 and the Foreign ‎Ministry has spent recent months analyzing ‎them.

It said the positive trend that emerged from ‎the polls is consistent with the findings of other, more recent polls.

For the surveys, samples of ‎‎1,000 individuals in most European ‎countries were questioned in two stages, at the beginning of 2017 ‎and again at the end of the year. The ministry said the surveys were conducted by specialist polling institutes in each country and respondents were not told the polls were for the Israeli government. ‎

The surveys avoided political issues such as the ‎Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Iranian threat, asking: “Would ‎you define your attitude toward the State of Israel ‎as sympathetic or unsympathetic?”‎

In Germany, currently the strongest country in the ‎European Union, ‎sympathy for Israel rose by 2% through the year to reach 41%. ‎At the same time, antipathy to Israel fell from 35% ‎to 31%.‎

The U.K. showed a dramatic change through the year: While at the beginning of the year, 32% of Britons were ‎sympathetic to Israel and 39% ‎were unsympathetic, later in the year, support for Israel rose to 40%, while lack of support fell to 33%. ‎

Three Things You Need to Know About Christ at the Checkpoint

Starting on Monday, October 14, 2018, a group of Christians will be meeting in Oklahoma City to participate in a Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) conference organized by Bethlehem Bible College, a non-denominational Evangelical school located in the West Bank (and with a nonprofit fundraising wing headquartered in Texas). By virtue of the CATC conferences it has held every even-numbered year since 2010, Bethlehem Bible College is a well-known source of anti-Zionist propaganda.

Given that this is the first time that Bethlehem Bible College has organized an event on American soil, attendees need to be alerted to some of the more troubling aspects about the CATC. Here are a few things they need to know about CATC conferences and their organizers.

1. The CATC movement capitalizes on habits of self-interrogation and self-criticism of progressive Christians in the West while rewarding the blame-game played by the Palestinian elites.

When it comes to self-criticism and self-interrogation, progressive Protestant elites in the West are the world champions. If there is a problem somewhere in the world, progressive Protestants invariably look at how the West and the United States have caused the problem or made it worse. This attitude, which has been particularly pronounced in mainline Protestantism, has become increasingly evident in the progressive wing of Evangelicalism in the United States. These progressive Evangelicals have, like mainline Protestants, embraced Christian self-interrogation and criticism (as opposed to promoting confidence in one’s faith community) as a central component of their faith practice.

To a certain extent this is a reasonable attitude to have, because good people should all be interested in assessing the impact of their behavior on the lives of the people around them. A problem arises, however, when people start to put themselves at the center of all of the world’s problems to the extent that it makes it difficult or impossible for them to honestly assess the behavior of other people in the world.

Historian Richard Landes calls this problem “moral narcissism.” People who are afflicted with this worldview, Landes writes, cannot address the misdeeds of non-Westerners even when their bad acts are glaring and profoundly damaging to human welfare. For moral narcissists, “What’s sauce for our goose is not for their gander,” Landes writes.

Court upholds entry ban on US student accused of supporting Israel boycott

The Tel Aviv District Court on Friday upheld a ban on a US student refused entry and held at the airport for 10 days over her alleged support for anti-Israel boycott efforts, saying the state was acting legitimately to protect itself.

She now faces deportation, but will be allowed to stay until at least Sunday, so that she can appeal her case to Israel’s Supreme Court if she so chooses.

The case of Lara Alqasem has been one of the most resonant and controversial since a 2017 Israeli law banned entry to supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates a boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.

On Thursday morning, Alqasem appeared in court to appeal the decision to prevent her entering for a study program at Hebrew University. Announcing its decision Friday, the judge said that the government’s entry ban was in accordance with the law.

In its ruling, the court said that “any self-respecting state defends its own interests and those of its citizens, and has the right to fight against the actions of a boycott… as well as any attacks on its image.”

Alqasem, from the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, suburb of Southwest Ranches, is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. The group is associated with the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

New Zealand BDSers: We won’t pay Israeli court fine

Two BDS activists from New Zealand said Friday that they would not be paying the NIS 56,000 fine imposed on them by an Israeli court this week.

“In a few short hours we’ve been overwhelmed with offers of financial support from New Zealand and around the world,” wrote Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab on news site The Spinoff. “We will not be paying the court ordered amount. Instead, we would like to use the publicity surrounding Israel’s stunt to return the attention and support back to Palestine and those paying the heaviest price for Israel’s actions.”

On Wednesday, a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge ruled in favor of three Israeli teenaged girls who sued Sachs and Abu-Shanab for their role in the cancellation of a Lorde concert in Israel.

Lorde, a New Zealand pop singer, announced in December that she would be playing in Tel Aviv in June 2018. Several weeks later, after an aggressive online campaign – including an open letter by Sachs and Abu-Shanab – Lorde canceled the show.

In January, the three girls and their lawyer, Shurat Hadin’s Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, filed suit in a Jerusalem court against the two women, citing a 2011 Israeli anti-boycott law. The lawsuit argued that Sachs and Abu-Shanab’s letter, which Lorde explicitly responded to on Twitter, played a role in the cancellation of the show.

The judge ordered the women to pay NIS 45,000 in damages – NIS 15,000 to each girl – and another approximately NIS 11,000 in legal fees.

Darshan-Leitner said she believes Israeli and New Zealand legal agreements will allow her to pursue collecting the money from Sachs and Abu-Shanab.

Hatem Bazian: The extremist member of Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission

Its often quipped “Two Jews, three opinions”. Not when it comes to Hatem Bazian, a man so extreme that the three leading congregational Rabbis in Berkeley, representing the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movement co-signed a letter in opposition to his appointment as an emergency stand-in for Berkeley Councilperson Cheryl Davila. The latter stated, in part:
“Prof. Bazian has a history of encouraging and personally engaging in speech which is offensive, uncivil and encourages demonization of others, including many citizens of Berkeley”

In spite of the controversy and concern over Bazian’s divisive and inflammatory rhetoric Davila has now appointed him to the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. Bazian, who once infamously called for an intifada in America is now on a commission tasked with advising the City Council and the School Board “on issues of peace and social justice.”

Cheryl Davila is a regular participant in anti-Israel protests on campus, in the streets, and in front of the local Israeli consulate.

Hatem Bazian and anti-Israel activists across the nation donated to Davila’s election campaign.

UMich Punishes Anti-Israel Prof

UMich American Studies professor John Cheney-Lippold has stood by his decision to go BACK on his decision to write a recommendation for student Abigail Ingber to study in Israel. He’d told Abigail “as you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine.”

But it is actually against UMich policy for departments to divest from or boycott Israel. Cheney-Lippold now says he slipped up because he was doing departmental business around the same time he wrote that email and that he meant to say that “many university professors,” not departments, are boycotting Israel, reported Jewish News Syndicate.

He also said that the Palestinian infant mortality is three times higher than that of Israelis, linking it to apartheid, which makes me curious: does that mean America is also an apartheid state? That black infant mortality rate is nearly three times higher than the Asian one. And here’s another factor: if Cheney-Lippold had just written the recommendation and let Abigail study in Israel, maybe she would come back as a BDS advocate, maybe she’d a return a newly-minted social justice warrior.

Anyway, the University of Michigan has now decided that John will not receive a merit raise for this school year and will not be able to take his planned sabbatical in January or embark on one for two years, according to The Detroit News.

Britain’s Chelsea soccer club to send anti-Semitic fans on trips to Auschwitz

England’s Chelsea soccer club on Wednesday announced a new initiative to send anti-Semitic fans for a tour at the Auschwitz concentration camp as an alternative to banning them from Premier League matches.

The move was said to have been pushed by the team’s Jewish owner, Roman Abramovich, who recently immigrated to Israel and became its richest citizen.

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said the club wanted supporters caught committing anti-Semitic abuse to have a chance to avoid a stadium ban by attending education courses on the Holocaust at the death camp where the Nazis killed more than a million Jews during World War II.

“If you just ban people, you will never change their behavior,” Buck told The Sun. “This policy gives them the chance to realize what they have done, to make them want to behave better.

“In the past we would take them from the crowd and ban them, for up to three years. Now we say: ‘You did something wrong. You have the option. We can ban you or you can spend some time with our diversity officers, understanding what you did wrong.’”

The initiative was said to be supported by the World Jewish Congress, the Holocaust Education Trust and Rabbi Barry Marcus, as well as by the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust and Britain’s Football Supporters Federation.

“A year ago, Roman sat down with senior people at the club and had a conversation,” Buck added. “He had noticed an increase in anti-Semitism around the world and directed us to see what we could do implement a long-term project to combat it.”

New Quebec government looks to ban kippahs for public servants

Quebec’s incoming government wants to ban some public servants from wearing religious symbols to work, spurring concerns from Jewish groups.

The proposed ban by the Coalition Avenir Québec government is ostensibly to make Quebec public institutions more secular and “neutral” religiously. It would bar police, prison guards, public school teachers and some others from wearing visible kippahs, turbans, hijabs and crucifixes under the possible penalty of dismissal for noncompliance.

Critics say the plan contravenes Canadian human rights charters and is pandering to intolerant populist sentiment being increasingly exploited in other countries. They also say the plan is hypocritical since the new government, which officially assumes power on Oct. 18, is refusing for “heritage” reasons to take down a large crucifix hanging in the Quebec legislature since 1936.

Most native Quebecers are lapsed Roman Catholics.

“The banning of religious symbols and the possible firing of public employees who freely express their religious beliefs is an assault on the fundamental rights and freedoms,” Murray Levine of B’nai Brith Canada said.

Rabbi Reuben Poupko of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said: “[We] reiterate our long-held position that religious neutrality should be imposed on public institutions, not individuals.”

Acclaimed Israeli film ‘Tel Aviv on Fire’ picks up U.S. distribution deal

Tel Aviv on Fire, a film about the inner workings of a Palestinian soap opera, will be distributed in the US by Cohen Media.

According to an exclusive report in Variety on Wednesday, the movie has also closed or is about to close deals to distribute the film in a variety of European countries.

The comedy, directed by Samach Zuabi, held its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last month. The film picked up a best actor award for its star, Israeli-Palestinian actor Kais Nashif. It went on to appear at the Toronto International Film Festival and it then it took the top prize at the Haifa Film Festival earlier this month.

The movie tells the story of Salam, a Jerusalem resident who commutes each day to his job in Ramallah on a soap opera called Tel Aviv on Fire. The show, popular among both Israelis and Palestinians, features a Palestinian spy sent in 1967 to steal secrets from a clueless Israeli general. Salam’s commute leads him to regular encounters with the IDF officer who runs the checkpoint he passes through each day. The officer soon begins demanding Salam change the soap opera’s story line to make his wife happy, which – at first – only benefits the writer’s career.

The film received part of its funding from the Israel Film Fund.

The Hollywood Reporter called the movie a “modest little charmer [which] presents a lighter side of the long and ongoing crisis.”

Israeli Inventor Creates Exoskeleton Allowing Paraplegics to Walk Again

There are an estimated 6 million wheelchair users in the United States and Europe, some of whom could walk again if insurance carriers would approve the cost of coverage for a device innovated in Israel. Not only would underwriting this coverage allow paraplegics to regain a sense of autonomy and dignity; it also makes financial sense to give this underserved segment of society freedom of movement.

The story begins in 1996, when Amit Goffer, an accomplished academic who studied electrical and computer engineering in Israel and the United States, fell off an all-terrain vehicle and snapped his neck. Goffer became a quadriplegic, losing the ability to move the vast majority of his body, including his arms and legs. Life in a wheelchair, he felt, wasn’t enough, and Goffer became obsessed with finding a solution. He was confident he could invent a new type of device to help the disabled.

Seven years later, Goffer finished building his first device: a lightweight, motorized support suit with rechargeable batteries that hugs users’ legs, along with crutches to stabilize them as they walk. Users wear a remote control on their wrists to control their movement. As they walk, a tilt sensor ensures that the chest remains upright and balanced, allowing them to move without falling. The crutches help people go upstairs and also stabilize their weight. Goffer called his innovation ReWalk.

Today, ReWalk has been approved for sale in Europe and the United States. There are roughly 400 users around the globe, including a number of U.S. military veterans and law enforcement officials. And the company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Israeli Startup Named First International Winner of US Cyber Security Grant

The United States Department of Homeland Security has awarded a grant to Israeli cyber security startup Morphisec to develop cyber security defense solutions for virtual desktop systems, according to an announcement on Wednesday.

Morphisec will become the first international business to receive a grant from the DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s Financial Services Cyber Security Active Defense Technologies category.

It will work through the US body’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program to continue development on its patented Moving Target Defense-base cyber security system to prevent attacks on financial institutions such as ransomware, viruses, file-less attacks, persistent threats and zero-days.

The global virtual infrastructure software market is expected to almost triple by 2023 to $15.3 billion.

Morphisec was founded just four years ago, starting out at JVP’s Cyber Lab incubator in Beersheva, and has since raised more than $20 million in funding, including from venture-capital firms JVP, OurCrowd, GE Ventures and Deutsche Telekom.

According to a report by Start-Up Nation Central, Israel comes second only the United States in the amount of investments made in the cyber security industry in 2017.

Israel received 16 percent of the world market, totaling $815 million.

Jews and Christians gather to sing and pray for peace in Jerusalem

With the blasts from shofars and with Israeli flags waving wildly in the breeze, hundreds of Evangelical Christians from over 30 countries converged in Jerusalem on October 7 along with Jews and locals to sing, dance and pray for peace in the Holy City.

From their perch at an overlook of the Old City in the capital’s East Talpiot neighborhood, Eagles’ Wings – a non-profit New York-based organization – led the crowd, and the millions watching in hundreds of countries through live streams, in prayer as a cool breeze rustled through the capital.

The event marked the annual Day of Prayer for Peace in Jerusalem, an observance that was started by Evangelical co-chairmen of Eagles’ Wings, Dr. Jack W. Hayford and Bishop Robert Stearns, in 2002 and is marked around the world on the first Sunday of October.

As the sun began to set, painting the Judean Hills a rich gold, the crowd, sprinkled with kippah-wearers and many with crucifixes hanging from their necks, enjoyed speeches, impassioned songs, and choreographed dance routines focused on 51 years since the unity of Jerusalem and 70 years since the birth of the State of Israel.

The ceremony was part of a trip led by Eagles’ Wings that aimed to bring together millennial Evangelical pastors from around the world to see Israel, to visit its holy sites, and to better understand the politics surrounding it. Many participants were visiting for the very first time.

For Stearns, gaining support for Israel among this younger demographic is extremely important.

Ancient beheading site found in Jerusalem, evidence of ‘holy’ king’s bloody rule

Evidence of a mass slaying, including cruel beheadings, committed during the bloody reign of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BCE) was recently uncovered in a courtyard next to the Jerusalem municipality during excavations of an ancient water cistern.

“We removed from the pit more than 20 neck vertebrae which were cut by a sword,” said Dr. Yossi Nagar, an anthropologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). “We discovered in the pit, bodies and body parts of infants and adult individuals, women and men, who were probably victims of a brutal slaughter.”

Embryonic bones discovered in the excavation indicate that among victims were even pregnant women.

IAA archaeologists Kfir Arbiv, Nagar and Tehillah Lieberman presented their gruesome discovery on Thursday in a talk called, “The Riddle Behind a Mass Burial in the Russian Compound.”

As the son of John Hyrcanus, Alexander Jannaeus, known in Hebrew as Alexander Yannai, also served as the High Priest of the Second Temple during his 27-year reign. The era of the “holy man” was marked by court intrigue and seemingly endless war campaigns in which he conquered — and lost — swaths of territory.

It was a time of violent power struggles between the Jewish Sadducees and Pharisees, which led to a six-year Judaean Civil War that, according to historical sources such as the Pharisaic historian Josephus, left some 50,000 Jews dead. During the war, the Judaeans engineered a failed intervention by the Seleucid king, which, while eventually uniting the Jewish people against a common enemy, backfired mightily against those who had enlisted him.

According to the commentary on the book of Nahum discovered as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, after the war’s end, Alexander Jannaeus punished some 800 of his political enemies, sentencing them to crucifixion. Others, such as those discovered in the courtyard next to the Jerusalem Municipality, were beheaded and dismembered.

Ein Keshatot, the Golan Heights’ hidden archaeological gem opens to public

The Byzantine-era synagogue and adjoining spring at Ein Keshatot, known in Arabic as Umm el-Kanatir (the Mother of Arches) – one of the most important Jewish historic sites in the Golan Heights – was rededicated Monday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following a 15-year reconstruction.

The synagogue, with its ornately carved basalt Torah ark, was built in the first century CE but extensively renovated some 500 years later. The building, which collapsed in the catastrophic earthquake of 749 CE, measured 18 meters long by 13 meters wide, and is calculated to have been 12 meters high. That impressive size made it one of the biggest of the 30 ancient synagogues discovered in the Golan Heights.

Several factors indicate the wealth of this Jewish village during the Byzantine era. The springs supported a flax and textile industry, while the twin olive presses produced oil for export. The villagers’ wealth was displayed in their elaborate synagogue.

The Ein Keshatot (Spring of the Arches) synagogue was first documented in 1884 by Laurence Oliphant and Gottlieb Schumacher. Deir Aziz was the name of the Arab village built atop the ruins of the Talmudic-era settlement. The ancient town’s original Jewish name is unknown.

The NIS 30 million restoration began in 2003. Engineer Yehoshua “Yeshu” Dray and archaeologist Chaim Ben-David of the Kinneret Academic College and Bar-Ilan University used 3D scanning technology to record and then put back the stones in their original position, lifting them with a makeshift crane. Recently, the Golan Regional Council upgraded the access road to the site.

Palestinian baby gets heart transplant from Jewish child in medical first

A desperately-ill six-month-old Palestinian baby is bravely fighting for his life this week after receiving a heart transplant from a Jewish child.

The surgical team at Israel’s Sheba Hospital in Ramat Gan are waiting, hoping and praying after a unique operation – the first time heart transplant surgery has been performed on such a young child at the hospital and the first time a Palestinian baby has received a heart transplant from a Jewish child.

The Palestinian boy, Musa, was born with a variety of life-threatening conditions, chief of which were tumours surrounding his heart.

Doctors in his home city of Ramallah, in the West Bank, were unable to cope with his growing medical problems and sent him across the border to Sheba’s Safra Children’s Hospital on several previous occasions to treat and stabilise him.

But three weeks ago Musa’s condition began to deteriorate, his heart reaching “end stage” failure.

Dr David Mishaly, chief surgeon at Sheba’s paediatric and congenital heart surgery unit, said: “There were several miracles associated with this complicated surgery. There is no such thing in the Palestinian Authority as an organ donor or organ waiting list.

“While organ donor and waiting lists exist in Israel, there was no Israeli baby on the waiting list when Musa was brought to Sheba in very critical condition.

“But by a miracle, Musa was able to receive a new heart from a Jewish child, whose parents had agreed a few hours earlier to the donation.”

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