Seth Frantzman: Ben Rhodes just blamed Israel and Saudi for MidEast tensions, revealing former Obama admin bias
The new Ben Rhodes tweet sheds light on the Obama administrations biases in the region. Obama has many ideas about the Middle East. In 2016 he had claimed the conflicts in the region were “rooted in conflicts that date back millennia.” He sought to reach out to the region, particularly Muslims, during his Cairo speech in 2009.
Amidst all the other noise out there, recent Saudi and Israeli moves raising odds of direct conflict that pulls in the US
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) December 3, 2017
He wanted to reduce the US footprint and pulled American troops out of Iraq, withdrawing them in 2011. He always want Iraq to have a pro-Iranian Shia “strongman” in the form of Nouri al-Maliki. In 2010 Obama supported Maliki to be Prime Minister of Iraq, even though his party was not the largest in the country. Washington thought a powerful Shia sectarian government would provide stability. Instead it inflamed tensions and led to ISIS taking over a third of the country in 2014. The US relied on Maliki, even though he was an anti-American fanatic collaborating with Shia militias and terrorists who had targeted US troops. In an interview in 2017 Maliki even accused the US of supporting ISIS, “the US and the Obama administration were behind the creation of ISIS to expel the government.”
Rhodes was involved in these discussions about how the US viewed the Middle East. He told PBS: “We’re not going to do this by ourselves, and we’re not going to do this for the region. We’re not going to have large U.S. forces on the ground to do this. The only way that you’re going to solve this problem is if you get the countries and governments of the region invested in it.”
Rhodes was involved in encouraging the replacing of Maliki in August 2014 as ISIS was overrunning Iraq. “The White House will be very glad to see a new government in place with prime minister Abadi at the lead of that government,” Rhodes said.
He also played a role in Syria after the Arab spring erupted in 2011 and a rebellion began against the Assad regime. Rhodes told PBS: “The president was willing to get engaged in support for the opposition in Syria, but he wanted to make clear that we understood there were limits as to how we could solve this problem with our military, and that we had to be very deliberate and careful when it comes to something like providing military assistance to an opposition group.” (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Eugene Kontorovich: Anti-Israel Activists Subvert a Scholarly Group
Emails unearthed in a federal lawsuit appear to show that the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israel was orchestrated by a small cadre of academics who infiltrated the ASA’s leadership to demonize the Jewish state.
The ASA website says the scholarly group “promotes the development and dissemination of interdisciplinary research on U.S. culture and history in a global context,” but in December 2013 it endorsed an academic boycott of Israel. The ASA’s leadership, called the National Council, backed the boycott resolution and put it to a membership vote. A third of the members voted, and two-thirds of those endorsed the resolution.
Last year four ASA members sued the organization, alleging the boycott violated its bylaws, the District of Columbia Nonprofit Corporation Act, and laws prohibiting nonprofits from exceeding their chartered purposes. Even putting legality aside, the boycott was out of step with the principle of academic freedom. The boycott generated an immediate rebuke from the executive council of the Association of American Universities.
The ASA sought to have the suit thrown out, arguing that legal challenges violate the group’s First Amendment rights—a claim commonly made by Israel boycotters. A federal judge rejected that argument in March and allowed the case to proceed.
A central figure in the boycott’s adoption was Jasbir Puar, an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University, according to emails cited in a public filing by the plaintiffs in the case. The emails appear to show that after joining the ASA’s nominating committee in 2010, Ms. Puar actively tried to stack the National Council with boycott backers.
Leaders of major American Jewish organizations are rallying around Kenneth L. Marcus, the nominee for Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, as pro-Palestinian groups denounce him for opposing the BDS movement.
Marcus, an attorney, previously served in the Department of Education’s civil rights division and then was staff director of the US Commission on Civil Rights, before founding the Washington, D.C.-based Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law in 2011.
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights is mobilizing its members against the nomination, arguing that Marcus’ efforts against BDS activity on college campuses were intended to “repress college students from organizing for Palestinian rights.”
The anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) recently announced that “over 100 faculty members” at unnamed universities had signed their petition against the Marcus nomination. The petition claimed that because of Marcus’ anti-BDS efforts, “students and faculty [on unidentified campuses] fear studying Palestinian history or advocating for Palestinian rights.” But JVP officials have not responded to multiple requests from JNS.org for a list of the alleged signatories.
And a number of Jewish organizations this week endorsed Marcus.
“B’nai B’rith strongly supports the nomination,” the group’s director of legislative affairs, Eric Fusfield, told JNS.org. “Kenneth Marcus has been a champion of civil rights, especially combating anti-Semitism on college campuses. He understands this pervasive social problem in all its manifestations.”
Petra Marquardt-Bigman: Salon Mainstreams the Vile Antisemitism of Max Blumenthal and Joseph Massad
There is a German expression about framing something odious — like antisemitism — in a way that would make it “salonfähig,” i.e. fit for the living rooms of 19th-century intellectuals.
Salon — a website that claims to have “driven the national conversation since 1995 through its fearless journalism” — has just given an example of such an effort to legitimize bigotry, by giving Max Blumenthal a platform to mainstream some particularly vile claims that are already popular among Jew-haters on the far-right and far-left.
Under the title, “The shocking alliance between Zionism and Anti-Semitism,” Max Blumenthal promises Salon readers an “in-depth discussion with renowned Palestinian scholar Prof. Joseph Massad.” The article is illustrated with an image of President Donald Trump flanked by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
As Salon editors could have easily found out, Blumenthal’s 2013 book Goliath promoted the antisemitic notion that Israel is today’s equivalent of Nazi Germany; the book earned a well-deserved listing in the category “The Power of the Poison Pen,” by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Blumenthal could thus be described as an award-winning antisemite, and it is hardly surprising that he’s gone on to enhance his reputation as a “gonzo journalist” — who has fans on neo-Nazi forums and many other outlets that cater to Jew-haters — by writing a book that reflects his admiration for the Palestinian terror group Hamas.
So the idea that any truly “renowned” scholar would have an “in-depth discussion” about Zionism and antisemitism with Blumenthal is a priori questionable. Indeed, renowned scholars with expertise in these subjects will all know that talk about a “shocking alliance between Zionism and Anti-Semitism” is primarily popular among Jew-haters, who love to accuse Jews of profiting from disasters — even if the Jews are the victims of the disaster.
Palestinian Authority textbooks issued for the new academic year are “significantly more radical” than their predecessors, routinely erasing Israel and glorifying “martyrdom,” a watchdog group has warned.
In its review of the grades 1-11 curriculum — which underwent a full reform starting last year — the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) found that Palestinian textbooks “groom young Palestinians to sacrifice themselves to martyrdom,” promote the idea of a mass “return” to Israel, and “feature a radical Islamist, and occasionally, a Salafi worldview.”
Inflammatory language is found in textbooks across the curriculum, regardless of age or subject matter, with Israel frequently described as the “Zionist Occupation” and Israeli land often labeled Palestinian.
In one instance, a social studies textbook for sixth graders includes a map of Palestine encompassing the entirety of modern-day Israel and the Palestinian territories, and claims that Palestine extends “From the Mediterranean sea in the west, to the Jordan River in the East.”
A geography textbook used in tenth grade similarly refers to the Negev Desert as Palestinian territory constituting “about half of the area of Palestine.”
Back in the 1990s, civil rights activists coined the term “DWB” (driving while black) to highlight the frequency of incidents in which African-American motorists were stopped by the police without just cause. It was as if the drivers were considered guilty of something simply because they were black.
In the wake of last Thursday’s mob attack in Israel, it’s time to coin a new term: “WWJ” — walking while Jewish.
On Thursday, two parents and a group of young Jewish children set out on a hike in the Shomron (Samaria) region, as part of a bar mitzvah celebration. The hike was coordinated in advance with the Israeli army, which gave its approval. Each of the parents carried a weapon, at the army’s request.
They didn’t hike through any Arab villages. They didn’t create a settlement. They didn’t bother anybody, violate any law or do anything wrong. Their only “crime” was that they were walking while Jewish.
Some Palestinian Arabs spotted the children. Keep in mind that these are Palestinians who have been educated in Palestinian schools. You would think that if the Palestinians were sincere when they signed the Oslo Accords, they would have changed the curricula in their schools, in order to encourage peace and co-existence.
But as Palestinian Media Watch and other groups have repeatedly documented, Palestinian school textbooks still teach vicious hatred of Israel. They portray all of Israel as “occupied Palestine.” They depict Jews as devils, rats, insects and butchers. And they hail Arab murderers of Jews as “heroes” and “martyrs.”
Although the instances of hate crimes documented by the government are worrisome and deserving of condemnation, the statistics published by the FBI over the last 17 years refute both the Islamophobia narrative and the claim of a widespread backlash against Muslims in the aftermath of terrorist attacks by Islamists.
The myth of a post-9/11 “backlash” against Muslims is politically motivated and spread by groups such as the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which presents itself as a civil rights group, but was founded to serve as a front organization for the terrorist group Hamas. The effort to persuade the public that America is Islamophobic stemmed largely from the aim to shift the narrative about terrorism to that of an Islamist war on the West to one according to which Muslims are terrorized by and in the United States.
Although Jew-hatred remains a greater problem in America than hatred against Muslims, this would not justify a charge that the United States is an anti-Semitic country. By the same token, it is unjust to call America Islamophobic.
ISIS threatened to attack Times Square during the Christmas season. The above image of Santa Claus perched on a roof next overlooking the iconic New York City tourist spot next to a box of dynamite was accompanied by the words, “We meet at Christmas in New York…soon.” The image was sent out through encrypted messaging apps.
The terror group also threatened to attack European cities during the Christmas season, circulating the following image with writing in English, French and German saying, “Soon on your holidays.”
In response, Christmas markets in the UK will be decked out with high security measures. Rings made of steel will surround the markets and shoppers will only be allowed to enter through metal detectors. Officers on the ground
will stop and search as necessary and concrete barriers – some made to look like Christmas trees – will be de rigueur.
Last year counter-terrorism forces stopped attempted bombings on Christmas events in Britain and Belgium.
Germany is securing its Christmas markets in an effort to avoid an attack like last years truck ramming of a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people and injured 56.
Concrete barriers wrapped up as giant gift packages will be a feature of the country’s Christmas markets as well as 1.2 ton pellet bags similarly wrapped.
NYPost Editorial: The perversity of the Israel-boycott blacklist
The World Bank itself has lent billions to companies in occupied territories around the world. Heck, even the United Nations’ own legal adviser, in a 2002 memo on Western Sahara, concluded that such a practice raised no human-rights concerns.
But then, the move by the HRC isn’t really about fighting human-rights abuses (or, for that matter, making rational and consistent policy of any kind). It’s about trying to hurt Israel in any way possible and gin up opposition toward it.
Toward that end, the council has long served as an anti-Israel propaganda machine. Which is why America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley threatened a US pullout from the organization if it didn’t end its obsession with unfairly slamming Israel.
“When the council passes more than 70 resolutions against Israel, a country with a strong human-rights record, and just seven resolutions against Iran, a country with an abysmal human-rights record, you know something is seriously wrong,” Haley pointed out last summer.
US and Israeli officials fear a UN blacklist could deter businesses that are based in their countries and hurt the companies’ shares. They’re racing to contain the damage. Yet other nations with companies in the settlements could also be hurt.
Meanwhile, the council and Hussein’s office get hundreds of million of dollars every year, much of it from the United States. Surely there are better uses for that money.
Israel has filed an official complaint with Bulgaria after Israeli representatives at a charity fair in the country’s capital were asked to remove a photograph of the Western Wall from their stall, which organizers claimed was offensive to Palestinians.
The incident occurred at a charity event hosted by the International Women’s Club in Sofia, where various countries were represented. The incident began when representatives from the Israeli booth learned the Palestinian booth was displaying a map of Israel with the caption “Palestine,” as well as posters calling for the United Kingdom to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 declaration by the British government favoring the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish “national home.”
After the Israelis complained to the organizers, the Palestinians were instructed to remove the offending items. In response, the Palestinian representatives, arguing that the entire Old City in Jerusalem is occupied territory, demanded that a picture of the Western Wall be removed from the Israeli booth.
IsraellyCool: Truth is Not a Luxury
The Palestinian Information Center has posted this cartoon, which has been shared already over 360 times 13 hours after first published.
The message is not overly subtle; the palestinians live in poverty, in shacks in densely populated areas, while the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria on the other side of the security barrier live the good life.
If only this reflected the reality on the ground. While some palestinians live in densely populated neighborhoods in small houses (in refugee camps, which are deliberately kept in existence as a demographic weapon to ultimately destroy Israel), most residents of Judea and Samaria live in modest-size houses. Then there’s the fact that some palestinians live in houses like this:
Selling copies of Banksy art seems to be one of the main occupations of several businesses near the wall. But lost in all this seems to be the point. Because the wall has become art, and the art is being packaged and sold, the visitor almost thinks what they are buying is “cool.” But it’s a bit unclear whether visitors internalize the message Palestinians would like to convey.
They’d like to say they don’t want the wall there, that they want freedom of movement, they want a state. But is that articulated when you come as a tourist to Bethlehem and pose in front of the wall as if it’s “cool”? When it is colorful, it becomes a neat piece of modern art. It becomes like the Berlin Wall, in the sense that people visit the Berlin Wall today after the reason for it is long passed. Visiting the wall in Bethlehem has become post-historical, like the conflict is over and we are visiting it to see the past. Yet it is in the present.
Confused? You should be, because the experience is confusing.
After monetizing suffering, why stop there? Downtown in Bethlehem I also found keffiyeh-themed umbrellas. The keffiyeh is also a symbol of the Palestinian struggle. But when the keffiyeh becomes a yuppie statement of college kids pretending they “struggle,” hasn’t it lost its meaning? Again the question is what are those who identify with the “struggle” taking away from it?
It seems that increasingly people aren’t taking anything away from their experience in the Palestinian territories. They go, they check off the list the refugee camp, the wall, and then they go home. Palestinian UNESCO sites such as Battir go almost unvisited. No one seems to go to Sebastia, the ancient city near Nablus. It’s a bit bizarre.
The West Bank has a lot to offer tourists, but it seems that a chance to take a few cliché photos of the “conflict” is one of the main things people come for. From Israel’s point of view this is OK. As long as people are distracted by chic, cool hotels near the wall, the less they want to tear it down. Roger Waters is doing an event on December 22 in Bethlehem, via a giant screen. I’m surprised they aren’t projecting it onto the wall. Someone will make money off it, probably. And nothing will change.
IsraellyCool: The Curious Case of Bryan Adams’ Israel Tour
Canadian rocker Bryan Adams is on his way to Israel for a number of concerts.
Two concert dates were mentioned when news of his plans were first announced in June. But due to both those shows being sold out, a third one was added, which was already almost sold out as of a few days ago.
I am very curious about this tour, given Adams’ vocal anti-Israel tweets during the last Gaza war. Added curiosity: he does not seem to have been under pressure from Roger Waters and company for coming.
Is this Adams’ way of saying Please Forgive Me? Or a matter of All For Love (of $$)? Either way, tens of thousands of Israelis are going to be in Heaven – or on Cloud Number Nine.
I will be following his tour eagerly, if not just to see what he says in any press conferences or at the concerts themselves.
The report’s final three paragraphs were devoted to framing of the story, with readers clearly being steered towards the view that it should be seen as being about “settler violence”. Readers also found the standard BBC insert on ‘international law’ that fails to inform audiences of the existence of legal opinions that conflict with the corporation’s chosen narrative.
“The BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem says tensions between settlers and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been on the rise.
A UN agency that monitors incidents said earlier this year that an increase in settler violence had occurred alongside a major rise in Palestinian attacks against Israelis, the vast majority of which involved stone-throwing at vehicles.
More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”
The report paraphrased by Bateman was produced by the notoriously partisan UN agency OCHA.
In addition, readers were provided with a link to a BBC backgrounder on ‘settlements’ and a frequently recycled partisan map produced by the political NGO B’tselem.
In other words, in just seventeen paragraphs the BBC managed to turn a story about a violent attack by Palestinians against children on a Bar Mitzva hike and the unfortunate ensuing death of a man when one of the accompanying adults had to use his firearm in self-defence, into a story about “settlements” and “settler violence”.
However, the BBC made no effort to clarify to readers that the source of that unattributed “speculation” is apparently mostly anonymously sourced media reports or that the White House has to date made no official comment confirming such speculations.
Whether or not the US President will make a statement on Wednesday that includes recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and/or announcement of the establishment of a US embassy in that city remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, the BBC continues to promote an editorial line that has been in evidence throughout the past year: nowhere in this report were readers told of the existence of the US’s ‘Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995’ and the related (and often misrepresented) bi-annual waivers signed by a succession of US presidents.
While that context is obviously important to understanding of the wider background to this story, the BBC did not provide it to readers. Neither did it bother to inform them that the current US president was by no means the first to have “promised to order the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem”: both Bill Clinton and George W Bush made the same pledge.
Predictably, the BBC’s report did not provide readers with any information concerning the effects of the PIJ attacks on civilians in the area.
“Security officials issued instructions to cease train operations between Ashkelon and Sderot, and farmers were ordered to vacate fields located around the Gaza region. In addition, all work on the Gaza border fence was suspended and IDF forces were ordered to leave the area.
One of the farmers evacuated from the area recounted the fire exchange.
“Five workers were working in the orchard in a plantation near the border. Suddenly there was a series of explosions, one after the other. We dropped to the ground and put our hands on our head. We thought we were being shot at,” he recalled.
“The explosions lasted about five minutes. The moment they ended we picked up our tools and bolted. We were really scared. It was all very jolting.””
The BBC’s claim that “Israel said it targeted sites belonging to the militant Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad” is obviously inaccurate. In fact the IDF announced that it had targeted “six terrorist military positions in Gaza” and “military posts belonging to terror organisations”.
As we see, the corporation not only refrains itself from using accurate terminology to describe the terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their operatives, but even puts inaccurate wording into the mouths of Israeli officials.
The offensive example sentences –
“We Europeans may take Palestinian land to give it to former European inhabitants, the Jews.”
“He compares the Palestinians at the time to Native Americans when Europeans first showed up in North America.”
– have been removed from the online Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “European” as a result of HonestReporting’s actions.
A Missouri man made several bomb threats to Jewish institutions in the Kansas City area and in Washington, DC, a federal complaint charges.
Ford Kevin Coots, 25, of Urich, Missouri, allegedly threatened the synagogues and Jewish community centers and later assaulted a federal officer sent to question him, local media reported.
On April 24 of this year, Ohev Sholom — The National Synagogue in Washington, DC, received a call saying that 66 bombs would explode in the building sometime that week.
Over several days in July, bomb threats were called in to Jewish institutions in the Kansas City area, including the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Beth Shalom synagogue in Overland Park, and Kol Ami synagogue in Kansas City.
According to the Kansas City CBS affiliate KCTV5, one threat left on a synagogue answering machine said: “You all are the problems in this … nation. The reason the nation today is … May you all die in fire. … May you all die. I hate you with a passion. I hate all your guts. Die and burn.”
A Massachusetts teen has been arrested in connection with the theft of part of a Holocaust memorial sculpture from a cemetery in Milton, Massachusetts, JTA reported on Sunday.
The missing part of “Myriam’s Memorial,” which depicts a child’s hands inside two bronze Stars of David, was recovered last month, more than a year after it was stolen from its pedestal at the Milton Cemetery, police announced.
The memorial was created by sculptor Frank Manasse, to memorialize his sister who was killed in a Nazi death camp during World War II, as well as the other 1.5 million children killed during the Holocaust. It was stolen on September 19, 2016, according to JTA.
The arrested man, 19, who is unnamed because he was a minor at the time of the theft, reportedly stole the statue to give it to a friend as a gift, local media reported. He reportedly is cooperating with police.
Authorities do not believe the theft was motivated by hate, bias or anti-Semitic sentiment, according to NBC Boston.
Vandals stripped away inscriptions on the Holocaust Memorial in Athens, which commemorates the more than 60,000 Greek Jews killed during World War II.
The attack on the memorial occurred on Saturday, according to the English-language Greek Reporter.
Inscriptions engraved on a plaque written by famous Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel especially for the Athens memorial were removed from their base. The inscription was written in three languages: Greek, French and English. Only the English inscription remains.
“Elie Wiesel’s appeal to the passer-by to stand, to remember, to honor the victims of the Holocaust was turned into an act of vandalism, disrespect, insult,” said Minor Moisis, president of the Jewish community of Athens, according to the European Jewish Press. He said the memorial will remain open and accessible to the public
The memorial, designed by Greek American artist DeAnna Maganias, was erected in 2010. Located in a small park overlooking the Keramikos archeological site, the memorial features pieces of a broken marble Magen David, each piece representing lost Greek Jewish communities. The names of the communities are engraved in the marble piece pointing in the direction where they once existed.
About 5,000 Jews now live in Greece.
After years of restoration work, specialists recently finished deciphering a letter left behind by an Auschwitz inmate.
Marcel Nadjari, a Greek Jew from Thessaloniki, wrote a harrowing, 13-page testament of his experiences in the camp in 1944 on spare notepaper. He hid it that November next to a crematorium in the death camp inside of a thermos wrapped in a leather pouch. With the exception of a foreword written in French, German and Polish, the letter was written in Greek.
In 1980, nine years after Nadjari’s death, the thermos containing the letter was found during renovations on the property. Even though the thermos was whole, the writings were very faded and almost unreadable. Now, thanks to optical digital technology, specialists have been able to decipher the lost writings and resurrect the moments of sadness and horror that Nadjari lived through in the death camp.
Nadjari was one of the Sonderkommandos at the camp, a group of some 2,000 prisoners who helped the Nazis transfer Jews from the cattle cars to the gas chambers. He wrote that “many times I thought of simply continuing on with the others into the chamber, to death. What stopped me from doing that, however, was the strong wish to avenge the deaths of my mother and father, and my little, beloved sister.”
Israel’s StemRad Ltd., which has developed a belt to protect users from deadly radiation and nuclear threats, has secured up to $6 million in funding led by Jeff Vinik, the owner of the Florida hockey team Tampa Bay Lightning.
StemRad will use the funds raised from the C financing round to expand StemRad’s sales and marketing efforts, as well as its manufacturing capabilities in the US. StemRad recently opened its US subsidiary in Tampa, Florida, and has started to expand its sales from the military industry to first responders and the nuclear energy industry.
The investment proceeds will also be directed to the company’s research and development efforts, which are now turning to creating a lightweight protection vest for interventional radiologists in hospitals and medical clinics worldwide to address ergonomic problems caused by current X-ray aprons, the company said.
“This additional capital gives StemRad the resources to expand sales into new markets and to continue to innovate in order to become a leader throughout the entire spectrum of radiation protection including the nuclear, defense, space and medical industries,” said the firm’s CEO Oren Milstein in a statement.
The Israeli-American company was set up after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, to develop a solution for the protection of first responders exposed to highly-penetrating gamma radiation emitted in such events.
Despite the continued trend of IDF draftees being less motivated to serve as combat soldiers in the IDF, the increase of motivation by women and the shortening of service has allowed combat brigades to fill up, the army has announced.
“Without a doubt, as of today, the shortening of service in the Israeli army has given the IDF more fighters,” a senior officer in the Manpower Directorate said on Sunday during a briefing with military journalists at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Nevertheless, according to the overall data, there remains a slight decrease in combat recruitment from last year and it is expected to continue to drop, the senior IDF officer said, stressing that the main units feeling the pressure from this lack of motivation are Combat Engineers, the Armored Corps, and Artillery.
The Armored Corps has in recent years become one of the least popular units for IDF recruits as they are said to have the worst service conditions and have fewer weekends off than other units.
A blind and mostly deaf British backpacker who seeks to visit every country on Earth can now check Israel off his list.
Tony the Traveller, as 39-year-old Tony Giles calls himself, arrived in the Jewish state in November, his 124th country. Giles says he has already visited all seven continents and has even traversed the Arctic Circle.
Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories
Free Sign Up
During his trip Giles visited Jerusalem’s Old City, including the Damascus Gate and the Western Wall, which he said was interesting to him from “a historical and spiritual point of view.”
“I travel alone because it’s the biggest challenge I can get, and traveling by myself I get to interact with more people,” he told the BBC while in Israel.
“If I travel with someone, particularly someone sighted, they’d be doing all the work, they’d be doing all the guiding, and I wouldn’t get to touch as many things and find as many things as I do by myself.”
Israeli actress Gal Gadot told a Variety interviewer that she accepts her role as a representative of Israel and lamented that almost everybody mispronounces her name.
The “Wonder Woman” star was speaking with fellow actor and Pakistani-American stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani on Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” series. The two touched on their immigrant backgrounds, playing foreigners on screen and being cultural representatives of their home countries.
Gadot admitted, “Immediately once you become famous it goes without saying that you have to hold the flag of the nation.” Nanjiani agreed, saying, “whether I want to or not I do represent a group … but I think ultimately I can only tell my story. I can’t really tell the story of everybody from that part of the world because everyone has a different story.”
The actors also bonded over the fact that everyone misprounces their names. Gadot said she’s always asked, “How do you pronounce your name?”
The actress also revealed that she got emotional watching a battle scene in “Wonder Woman,” because she realized its significance for women.
“It was the first time for me — as a woman, a girl, a female — that I saw an image of strong women that are beautiful and confident and can take care of themselves,” said Gadot. “I was shocked by it, and then I was more shocked by the fact that I never saw anything like that.”
She added that she believes it to be important to share the image of independent beautiful women, especially as a mother of two daughters.
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.