Who Truly Occupies Whom?
Who truly occupies whom?
Palestinians occupy Jewish land.
Jews are the true indigenous people and owners of the land of Israel.
The ancient Philistines have long disappeared from the earth, and current Palestinians have absolutely no connection to them.
On September 19 2015, Obama’s then-White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough said: “an [Israeli] occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”
Jerusalem was always the capital of a Jewish State, never an Arab one.
Jerusalem is mentioned 687 times in the Hebrew Bible.
Jerusalem is mentioned 146 times in the New Testament.
Jerusalem is not mentioned — not even once — in the Koran.
Jerusalem is the Jewish holy place.
Rome is the Christian holy place.
Mecca is the Muslim holy place.
Jews have always maintained a presence in all the land of Israel — including Gaza and the West Bank — despite being oppressed, persecuted and murdered, by world empires like Babylonia, Persia, Assyria, Greece, Rome, etc.
To find these cultures today, you need bulldozers to dig up the sands of time.
Palestinians are an “invented” people — their origin stamped into their family names: al-Masri (the Egyptian), al-Djazair (the Algerian), el-Mughrabi (the Moroccan), al-Yamani (the Yemenite) and even al-Afghani are so common among those claiming to be Palestinians.
Yasser Arafat himself was Egyptian.
Yisrael Medad: What Was That “Whole”
Pro-Arab advocates who seek to deny the Jews a state in the area that was the Palestine Mandate usually point to the White Paper of 1922, the Churchill White Paper.
And they note it draws
attention to the fact that the terms of the Declaration referred to [that is, the Balfour Declaration – YM] do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded `in Palestine.’
Palestine included the territory both West and East of the Jordan River but as a result of British machinations, all the areas east of the Jordan River were to have the application of the articles of the League of Mandate Mandate postponed. Not cancelled. Simply postponed.
In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions…
Therefore, to establish a Jewish state in all of Western Palestine is quite an appropriate interpretation to this document.
In a demonstration of how completely at odds his views are from those of the foreign policy establishment, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reportedly asked the State Department to stop using the term “occupied territories” and instead refer to the area as the “West Bank.”
According to accounts that have filtered out of Foggy Bottom, the State Department said no. But we are also told that after pressure “from above” — i.e. President Donald Trump — the issue has yet to be decided.
If this strikes you as a lot of bother about mere words, you’re wrong. These words are part of a high-stakes battle to determine the outcome of the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For some observers, Friedman’s request demonstrated anew that he was a bad choice for ambassador — since he has a record of support for the Jewish presence in the West Bank. But Friedman is correct that using the term “occupied” isn’t neutral. It backs up the Palestinian narrative that Israelis are alien colonists in territories where only Arabs should have rights.
Israel’s position is that the ultimate disposition of the West Bank — or, to use the biblical as well as geographic term that was applied to the area before 1949, “Judea and Samaria” — is a matter of dispute in which both sides have a legitimate argument. To call the territories Judea and Samaria is also a political statement, just like “occupied territories.”
But the use of words as weapons can lead to a muddle. The term “West Bank” is itself geographic nonsense. It is a relic of the illegal Jordanian occupation of this area, as well as the Old City of Jerusalem from 1949-1967. At that time, the Hashemite kingdom had two “banks,” with an East — the area currently known as Jordan — as well as the West, which was taken by Israel during the Six-Day War.
Israel has formally notified the UN’s culture and education body of its withdrawal from the organization, two months after it announced it would follow the US by walking out over resolutions critical of the Jewish state.
In a statement UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said she had been officially notified on Friday that Israel would leave on December 31, 2018.
“I regret this deeply, as it is my conviction that it is inside UNESCO and not outside it that states can best seek to overcome differences in the organization’s fields of competence,” she said.
Azoulay’s announcement came after Israel scrambled to ensure it wouldn’t be forced to remain in the organization for an extra year due to concerns it wouldn’t be able to file the necessary paperwork on time.
In a statement Thursday, Israel’s envoy to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen said that he had made a last-ditch attempt to submit a formal letter announcing Israel’s intent to leave the organization, showing up at the door of the cultural agency’s Paris offices with a box of chocolates along with the paperwork. But he couldn’t find anyone willing to sign for receipt, as the offices were closed for the year-end holidays.
Domestically and internationally, President Trump finished 2017 in dramatic fashion. Obtaining the most sweeping tax cuts in 30-plus years (and repealing ObamaCare’s most philosophically oppressive aspect, the individual mandate) was a landmark achievement. And, by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, then suggesting major changes in U.S. funding of the United Nations, he disrupted foreign-policy conventional wisdom on both the Middle East and “global governance.”
The administration’s national security strategy, published this month, centered its foreign policy in the conservative mainstream, but there is little time for complacency. On Inauguration Day, the president inherited acute dangers and longer-range strategic challenges, ignored or mishandled for years. While Trump has emphasized his intention to reverse course, the national security agencies have a mixed record in actually following his lead. Events in 2018 could well determine whether America resumes control of its international fate, or whether it continues to be buffeted by threats it could overcome but chooses not to.
In this article today, we review the administration’s 2017 record and 2018 prospects in three critical near-term areas: Middle East turmoil, international terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Tomorrow, we consider the longer-term risks posed by China and Russia, and the overarching issue of U.S. sovereignty.
Trump’s Jerusalem decision had the virtue of recognizing reality and simultaneously erasing libraries of arid scholasticism on the “Middle East peace process.” The long-predicted violent reaction by the “Arab Street” largely failed to materialize, despite palpable efforts by Turkey’s President Erdogan and Tehran’s ayatollahs to foment trouble. And the inevitable efforts in the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly were essentially charades, ritualistic theater that now makes even the participants weary. The lasting consequences of bashing America in New York will more likely be felt within the United Nations, as we will see tomorrow, rather than in the Middle East.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are undergoing sweeping changes, the full dimensions of which cannot yet be confidently predicted. These changes have, in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view, opened prospects for resolving the Palestinian and broader regional issues heretofore beyond reach. The behind-the-scenes White House peace initiative, also unconventional, has given the foreign policy establishment a case of the vapors.
The biggest surprise of this year’s Dishonest Reporter Award is that the winner has never been given the accolade in the past. However, The Independent has a long and distinguished record of anti-Israel coverage.
Who can forget “classics” such as 2003’s appalling and demonizing cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian baby, which drew upon recognizable antisemitic tropes?
And what about the utterly false 2006 front page story by Robert Fisk accusing Israel of using “secret uranium weapons” against the Lebanese? To this day, Fisk and The Independent have failed to retract that libel — even after the claim was debunked by UN and Lebanese officials.
While The Independent has not sullied itself quite as dramatically this year, its failure relates to the fundamentals of ethical journalism.
Where’s your correspondent?
While journalists covering the Mideast can base themselves wherever they and their editors choose, correspondents still have a responsibility to “make the rounds” and spend time in the countries that are part of their beat. Seeing the situation first-hand, meeting the people face-to-face and sharing the experiences of individuals on both sides of the conflict is possible only by physically being there, even if only periodically.
That’s why stories have datelines. A dateline is a standard measure of media transparency, letting readers know where the story was written. Specifically, a dateline can shed light on the circumstances that the reporter works in, and sometimes the methodology behind the correspondent’s work. When several journalists in multiple locations are credited, an editor’s note should disclose who worked where.
In short, this often-overlooked disclosure allows readers to better judge the coverage for themselves.
A longtime Democratic Party official is accusing Israel, and celebrity chef Rachael Ray, of committing “cultural genocide” against the Palestinians.
This is just the latest in a long series of extremist remarks by James Zogby; but this should be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s time for the Democrats to disown Zogby.
Ray’s sin was that in a tweet about an Israeli-themed meal, she mentioned having “stuffed grape leaves, hummus, beet dip, eggplant and sun dried tomato dip, walnut and red pepper dip, and tabouli.”
Zogby responded with this frothing-at-the-mouth tweet: “Damn it @rachaelray. This is cultural #genocide. It’s not #Israeli food. It’s #Arab (#Lebanese, #Palestinian, #Syrian, #Jordanian). First the Israelis take the land & ethnically cleanse it of Arabs. Now they take their food & culture & claim it’s theirs too! #Shame.”
Space does not permit me to delve into Zogby’s ignorance concerning the history of various Mediterranean foods. Must we really restate the obvious fact that cuisine is not restricted by borders? I think we can all agree that if Americans enjoy lasagna, it does not mean that the US is committing “cultural genocide” against Italy.
For the second year in a row, and the third year overall, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made Gallup’s annual top 10 list of the world’s most admired men. The Israeli leader came in ninth place, with 1% of Americans saying they viewed him as the man living anywhere in the world who they admire most.
Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprising election victory, the man and woman Americans admire most continue to be his political adversaries – former President Barack Obama and election runner-up Hillary Clinton.
The 2017 survey was the 16th consecutive year Clinton was named most admired woman. She has held the title 22 times in total, more than anyone else. Obama has now been named the most admired man 10 times, trailing only former President Dwight Eisenhower, who earned the distinction 12 times.
Although Clinton and Obama retained their title in 2017, the margins were far narrower than in the past.
Dear ANC delegate,
I have never voted for you but I have respected you. I have spoken with pride about the lofty goals that you set yourself as a liberation movement. I have been awed by your capacity to forgive many of the injustices of the past, often to your own detriment. Something that you have done with grace and dignity.
You have birthed leaders that stand alongside the greatest statesmen ever born and who will always be remembered as people who left this world a better place than how they found it.
Indeed, the ANC was largely responsible for making South Africa a shining light of tolerance, understanding and forgiveness.
But you have lost your way. And in doing so you will stand on the wrong side of history.
As a South African Jew who has woken up to the news that you have chosen “unanimously” to downgrade the Israeli Embassy, you have sent a clear message, not only to the Jews of the country, but to the rest of the world, exactly how you wish to be known.
You invited the terror organisation Hamas to your conference. And that is inexcusable. Ignorance is not a justification because all you needed to do was to glance over the Hamas Charter and you would understand that they desire the death of Jews. They are an Islamist terror group like ISIS and like Boko Haram. And you have invited them in to our precious and young democracy.
Naseem Khan: Why do I write in a Jewish Newspaper?
My fellow Muslims often get upset with me and raise this question. In particular, it is more disturbing for them when I write about the Muslims’ affairs in Jerusalem Post. Before I response to their criticism, I would also like to ask them a question. Why should a Muslim write in a Christian Newspaper or in a Hindu Newspaper or even in a Buddhist Newspaper? After all, some of the followers of these religions are also hostile to Muslim world. In reality, the Christian dominated countries have inflicted more harm upon Muslims than the Jews. They should look at the ruins of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in our times and the crusades in the past. Who is responsible for the drone attacks in Pakistan resulting in enormous loss of lives and properties? So, why do we hate Israel and the Jews disproportionately? Let us examine this honestly.
Here are my reasons for becoming a blogger of the Jerusalem Post.
While visiting Israel three years ago, I was fascinated by the history of three great monotheistic religions of the world. I found the city of Jerusalem a unique city that had its enormous charm and serenity along with its bloody history. I wrote my travelogue after the trip and send it to the Jerusalem Post. To my surprise not only that they published it but also asked me if I would like to be a blogger for them. I accepted their offer. This being the primary and simple reason, I also had another reason for my choice.
As a US citizen, I had also lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for almost thirteen years in the past. During that time, I got an opportunity to work with the Arabs from different countries. I had travelled extensively in the Middle East and had discussed politics, religions and cultures with my fellow Arab Muslims including Palestinians. As a Muslim, I wanted to reach to the “people of the book” and found the Jerusalem Post a perfect platform for me. While no Muslim country’s newspaper would give me the opportunity to speak my mind openly especially when I would expose the flaws of Muslims, the Jerusalem Post has so far published all my blogs without any alteration regardless of the subject matter.
Media interest in Lorde’s recent decision to cancel her planned concert in Tel Aviv has been intense, and New Zealand has been no exception.
Fairfax MediaOver the holiday period, newsrooms are sparsely staffed and sometimes juniors are left to run the operation. This is perhaps a charitable explanation as to what has happened over the last two days at The Dominion Post, and on the Stuff website, both owned by Fairfax.
On December 26, Stuff ran an Opinion piece written by entertainment reporter, Dani McDonald, which was startling in its misinformation and the writer’s poor grasp of the situation. Ms McDonald selected some twitter messages from people pointing out the inconsistency of Lorde deciding not to play in Israel but continuing her tour to Russia to make her point that “Israelis’ reactions to Lorde is exactly why she shouldn’t play there”.
Ms McDonald’s writing suggests that any research she has undertaken on the complex Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been done from one-sided, fake, or extremist sources rather than credible, authoritative ones. How else does one explain patently false and hyperbolic assertions such as, “children killed for playing in the streets of Gaza”, “Unless Israelis enjoy living while bloodshed surrounds them, they ought to be proud of Lorde’s stance”, and “The blood of Palestinian children continues to flood the streets of Gaza”?
Where does one even start to unpack such shocking statements? There is no mass slaughter of Palestinian children in Gaza, whether at the hand of Hamas or Israel. It’s simply a made-up, would-be, ‘eyewitness account’ concocted from some local newsroom and compromises the author from the get-go.
The Israeli government has approved a plan setting aside $72 million to fighting the campaign to boycott the Jewish state.
The plan, which would entail the largest monetary investment yet by Israel specifically toward combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, was announced last week to cabinet ministers and approved as an executive order after none of them objected, the Ynet news site reported Friday.
It calls for setting up a not-for-profit organization whose board will be made up of government officials and donors from abroad, the report said. The board will oversee the first major “civil-society infrastructure servicing the State of Israel and the pro-Israel community in the fight against the de-legitimization of Israel,” the notice sent to ministers read.
The $75 million budget will come partly from the government and partly from Jewish donors and communities abroad, the report said. It did not say when the new organization would become operational or even established formally.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan attends a committee meeting at the Knesset, November 14, 2017. (Flash90)
But the initial funding to the tune of $36 million will come from the budget of the Public Diplomacy Ministry under Gilad Erdan. At least 10 Jewish philanthropists have pledged to at least match that sum, with some promising to give $2 and $3 to any dollar put in by the Israeli government beyond the initial funding, according to the report.
An Israeli minister lashed out at America’s National Basketball Association Thursday after an official website apparently listed “Palestine — occupied territory” in a list of countries and the league later apologized for erring.
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev wrote a scathing letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Thursday demanding he remove the listing from NBA.com, citing the fact that it did not fall in line with US President Donald Trump’s positions.
A spokesman for the NBA told The Times of Israel the listing was placed by a third party. It has since been removed, with no listing for any Palestinian entity.
“We apologize for the errant listing. We do not produce the country listings for NBA.com and as soon as we became aware of it, the site was updated,” Michael Bass said.
He did not mention Regev’s letter.
The listing had been included on a form the website asked All-Star team voters to submit after choosing players to participate in the annual exhibition match.
This report is part of a program of research focusing on undergraduates and their perceptions and experiences of antisemitism and anti-Israel hostility on US campuses. This report examines four institutions, Brandeis University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Michigan). The report draws on survey data collected in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years from representative samples of undergraduates (both Jewish and non-Jewish) at these schools.
Jewish students are rarely exposed to antisemitism on campus. The majority of Jewish students at the four schools studied reported that they had not experienced any form of discrimination at their schools due to their religion. In addition, the vast majority reported that they had not personally heard any of a number of antisemitic remarks with any frequency.
Jewish students do not think their campus is hostile to Jews. The majority of Jewish students at all four schools disagreed that their campus constituted a “hostile environment toward Jews.” Non-Jewish students at all four schools echoed this view. Compared to the other three campuses, both Jewish and non-Jewish students at Michigan were the most likely to agree that there was a hostile environment toward Jews on their campus, although this view was still a minority opinion among students.
Jewish students are exposed to hostile remarks toward Israel on campus. Hearing hostile remarks toward Israel (primarily from students) was far more prevalent than exposure to antisemitic statements.
The majority of students disagree that there is a hostile environment toward Israel on campus. Students were more likely to agree that there was a hostile environment toward Israel on their campus than that there was a hostile environment toward Jews, but most students still disagreed with the former. The exception was at Michigan, where just over half of Jewish students agreed to any extent that the school had a hostile environment toward Israel.
Support for BDS is rare. At each of these schools support for an academic boycott of Israel was virtually nonexistent among Jewish students and was rare among non-Jewish students.
Newsweek, like numerous other media outlets, ran breathless coverage of world response to President Trump’s announcement acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. A video accompanying several articles, including one entitled “Trump Is A Partner in ‘Bloodshed’ After Recognizing Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital, Turkey’s President Says,” included two factual errors.
First, the opening text accompanying the images stated that “Global unrest continues to erupt following President Trump’s decision to name Jerusalem Israel’s capital.” Trump did not name Jerusalem’s capital. Israel named its own capital at its founding in 1948 and American law affirmed the same reality and fact in The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 passed by large majorities of the House and Senate. The law states that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel and the embassy moved there no later than May 31, 1999. Trump followed the law and formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Second, the video claimed most countries “set their embassies in Israel’s capital of Tel Aviv.” Needless to say, Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital.
Commendably, Newsweek editors corrected both errors. The new language now refers to “President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital” and notes that many countries “set their embassies in Tel Aviv.”
As we see, both these BBC reports steer audiences towards the view that Guatemala’s decision was dictated by its relations with the United States. Guatemala’s foreign minister has rejected such claims.
“The United States did not pressure Guatemala into announcing it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Central American state’s foreign minister said Wednesday.
“There wasn’t any pressure. There wasn’t any overture from the United States to make this happen. This was a decision by the government, the state and the foreign policy of Guatemala,” the minister, Sandra Jovel, told a news conference in Guatemala City. […]
Jovel said the plan to put the embassy in Jerusalem “had been considered for the past five months, and things just lined up in a certain way and also the resolutions in the UN and everything contributed to saying that now was the right time.”
Guatemala’s assertion that it decided the move alone, without being pressed by the United States, follows criticism from the Palestinian foreign ministry and a focus on how reliant the country is on US aid and trade.”
Notably, in contrast to its copious portrayal (including in these two reports) of the December 6th US announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “controversial”, the BBC did not use that term to describe the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s December 13th declaration of “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine”. And when Iran’s parliament declared Jerusalem “the everlasting capital of Palestine” on December 27th, the BBC did not even report that development, let alone brand it as “controversial”.
The BBC Academy’s “journalists’ guide to facts and terminology” – published on the recommendation of the BBC Governors’ independent panel report on the impartiality of BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2006 – instructs the corporation’s staff not to use the term Palestine except in very specific circumstances.
So, in day-to-day coverage of the Middle East you should not affix the name ‘Palestine’ to Gaza or the West Bank – rather, it is still an aspiration or an historical entity.
In the past we have seen that guidance ignored on several occasions and in recent months, more frequently.
On December 27th BBC Radio 4 twice aired an edition of the programme ‘Soul Music’ relating to Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’. In the synopsis to that programme, BBC audiences were told that:
“For Grammy Award Winning artist John Legend, it’s become an anthem for addressing the criminal justice system of America whilst in Palestine, for ‘Musicians without Borders’ practitioner Ahmed al ‘Azzeh it’s a song that inspires him to work towards a better life.”
Germany’s constitutional court has ruled that a 96-year-old German must go to jail over his role in mass murders committed at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz during World War Two, refusing to overturn a lower court ruling.
Oskar Groening, known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz” for his job counting cash taken from the camp’s victims, was sentenced to four years’ jail in 2015, but wrangling over his health and age have delayed the start of his sentence.
The constitutional court rejected the argument by Groening’s lawyers that imprisonment at his advanced age would violate his right to life, adding that the gravity of his crimes meant there was a particular need for him to be seen to be punished.
“The plaintiff has been found guilty of being accessory to murder in 300,000 related cases, meaning there is a particular importance to carrying out the sentence the state has demanded,” the judges wrote, upholding the Celle regional court’s ruling.
There is no further appeal to the constitutional court’s ruling. The ruling does leave open the possibility that Groening could be released if his health deteriorates.
The Anti-Defamation League has expressed concern following recent incidents in Manhattan featuring vandalism and anti-Semitic graffiti.
There have been well over a dozen incidents including at three Upper East Side businesses, private apartments, and other public spaces, the ADL said Thursday citing various reports. It included “explicit anti-Semitic symbols, as well as racist” ones. The ADL did not say when the incidents took place.
On Thursday, police released a photo of one slender man, who appears to be older than 50, whom police said is wanted for committing a hate crime in a pattern of aggravated harassment. He is believed to have placed stickers containing anti-gay, anti-black, and anti-Semitic statements on three Madison Avenue stores since October, police said.
The first incident tied to that man was noticed on October 4. An employee of a jewelry store on Madison Avenue between East 75th and 76th streets noticed stickers with the hateful messages on a store window, police said.
US mega-retailer Target has apologized and pulled a Cards Against Humanity game pack off its shelves after complaints that the set is anti-Semitic.
The “Chosen People expansion pack” of Cards Against Humanity, a game known for using edgy, off-color humor, includes cards that make light of the Holocaust and reference “torturing Jews.”
After a tweet calling Target’s stocking of the game “despicable,” the store responded by apologizing and saying it was removing the product.
One of the question cards reads: “Can’t you see? The Jews are behind everything — the banks, the media, even_______.” Players must fill in the blank with other cards from the deck. The options include one card reading: “The part of Anne Frank’s diary where she talks about her vagina.”
The pack and a similar “Jew Pack,” which were released over a year ago, were still available online at other retailers, including the Cards Against Humanity website.
Amazon’s German affiliate has come under fire after it let several retailers use its platform to sell a throw pillow cover featuring the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, officially known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
The German branch of We Stand With Israel, which discovered the merchandise, posted a cynical response on social media, stating, “Let’s make some profit from the memory of the Holocaust. This is what the Jews would have wanted.”
The pillowcase is sold on Amazon’s German website for about $16. It is sold by Annyer Willer, which also sells linen, cellphone cases and other accessories featuring photos of various places, nature or animals. The pillow cover is also sold on Amazon’s French and British websites by other retailers.
Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment.
A super-strong steel substitute invented in Israel that was sent into space by NASA has now returned to the Middle East to be used in hip replacements.
The material, which goes by the scientific name MP-1, was developed by Aliza Buchman, development manager of Nahariya-based startup MMA Tech in collaboration with Prof. Robert Bryant of the University of Virginia.
The advanced polymeric material is self-shielding, has high resistance to heat, is lightweight but very strong, and shows little wear and tear – all of which are important qualities for deployment in space.
But MP-1 works equally well in joint surgery. The first human operation using MP1 was performed 12 years ago in New Zealand. Since then, 74 surgeries have been done in that country.
Now the material has come back to Israel, where it was used three months ago for a woman in her 60s who needed a hip implant. A second surgery was performed last week on Roxana Smarsky, 48, of Yokne’am Illit.
It’s clear to see that 2017 was a huge year for Israel in the entertainment industry. But what will 2018 hold? Turns out, it’ll be an action-packed year with more Israeli-inspired films than ever before. No fewer than four thrillers are expected to premiere in the next 12 months that depict thrilling IDF and Mossad operations overseas – from airlifting Ethiopian Jews to capturing Adolf Eichmann, rescuing Entebbe hostages and gathering Egyptian intel. But those aren’t even the only exciting developments to look out for in 2018. Here are my top eight:
1. ‘The Red Sea Diving Resort’
That’s right, Captain America’s very own Chris Evans will be playing an Israeli spy in an upcoming film about the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to the State of Israel. The film, written and directed by Israeli Gideon Raff (who created the hit show Hatufim (Prisoners of War), tells the real life story of the 1984 rescue and evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan. Evans will star as Mossad agent Ari Levinson, alongside Haley Bennett, of The Girl on the Train fame. Also making appearances are Ben Kingsley, Greg Kinnear and Israelis Mark Ivanir and Alona Tal. Filming took place in South Africa and has already wrapped up, though the film’s 2018 release date has not yet been confirmed. British actor Alex Hassell, who also has a role in the film as a Mossad agent, said in a recent interview that it was a “wild shoot” with a lot of action: “It’s an amazing tale about reaching out across borders to those in need, and we had a brilliant cast.”
2. An Israeli Oscar?
When the final Oscar nominations are announced on January 23, you can be sure that Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz will be listening breathlessly – and so will Culture Minister Miri Regev. That’s because controversial Israeli film Foxtrot – which made the Academy Awards shortlist for foreign language movie earlier this month – represents perhaps Israel’s best chance to finally clinch the category. The film, which Regev has repeatedly criticized for its depiction of the IDF, has been honored internationally and proclaimed one of the best films of the year by several media outlets. Israel has been nominated in the category 10 times but never taken home the statue. Maoz’s Foxtrot was selected as one of the final nine contenders out of a whopping 92 entries. Could 2018 finally be Israel’s year?
Several months ago, high quality animated videos explaining Jewish religion and practice began popping up on YouTube. This would have been unremarkable except for one fact: they were in fluent Arabic. Tackling such subjects as kosher food and prayer, the informative and often entertaining clips detailed how these rituals compared and contrasted to Islamic practice. Here, for example, is the video on prayer:
The YouTube channel, called “People of the Book” after the Qur’anic category for Jews, has quietly garnered thousands of views. It is the brainchild of Elhanan Miller, a Jerusalem-born intelligence soldier turned journalist turned rabbinical student who hopes to use the explainers to foster regional understanding and peace.
The idea first occurred to Miller when he was hired by Shorashim, a coexistence-building organization that brings together Israeli settlers and Palestinians from the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank to work the same field and learn about each other.
“They commissioned a friend and I to teach basically Islam 101 to the settlers in Hebrew and Judaism 101 to the Palestinians in Arabic,” Miller recalled. “I got very basic questions from some of the participants, things that had to do with the traditional clothing that Jews wear, the peyot (sidelocks) that men have, what is tefillin (phylacteries)?”
“So I was teaching these people the basics of prayer, the basics of the Jewish calendar, the festivals,” he continued, “and I was thinking: ‘Why should only 10, 12 Palestinians be exposed to this information that I was working pretty hard on preparing and gathering, when there are 1.5 billion Muslims and a few hundred million Arabs who would be equally interested in the same questions?’”
At the end of the year, it’s always with great interest that we at ISRAEL21c look back at the year gone by to see which of our stories have been the most popular with our readers. Sometimes it’s obvious, and we know what to expect. Other times, we get a surprise.
This year’s stories are a mixed bunch from virtually every topic we cover, giving you a taste of just how diverse and interesting Israel is. Find out what our top stories are below.
1. Israel sends aid to flood-battered Texas during a summer of disasters
Israel stepped up to disaster after disaster this year, sending aid to countries all over the world and providing vital relief work in what turned out to be one of the worst Atlantic hurricane seasons on record.
The story that touched our readers most was the news that Israeli aid experts were on their way to Texas to provide relief and psychosocial support to the thousands of people who lost everything in the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey was the costliest tropical cyclone ever, inflicting $200 billion in damage, primarily from widespread flooding in the Houston metropolitan area, and causing 91 deaths.
A crew from nonprofit IsraAID flew to the area to help clean up homes and offer psychosocial trauma support to shocked residents. They were joined in Texas by teams from United Hatzalah, the Israel Rescue Coalition and the Dream Doctors Project – which sends in medical clowns.
Over the following four weeks, Israeli aid teams also flew to Mexico, Haiti and the Caribbean, Florida and Puerto Rico – which were all hit by hurricanes — and provided aid in Nepal and Sierra Leona, both hit by powerful floods. Israel’s ZAKA Search and Rescue Organization and the Israeli Foreign Ministry also sent aid to some of these locations.
2. A year of wonder with Wonder Woman
Israeli actor Gal Gadot blazed her way into public consciousness this year with her celebrated portrayal of DC Comics Wonder Woman in the Warner Brothers film of the same name.
Gadot, who was born in Rosh Ha’ayin, was feisty, strong, capable, intelligent and independent, providing women all over the world with a fabulous new role model. What made it all so much better is that off screen Gadot seemed to encapsulate all those attributes in her own behavior, and combined it with pride in her Israeli roots.
To give readers a little more insight into the world’s new Israeli hero, we put together a list of 14 things you didn’t know about Gal Gadot. The story was a hit.
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.