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Ha'aretz
Tid: Sat, 20.04-2019 8:09 Lokal fil generert: Sat, 20.04-2019 7:53
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Israel's likely next justice minister has the Supreme Court in the crosshairs

Sat, 20 Apr 2019 04:34:20

There are soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces who don't remember life without Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister. They were nine years old in 2009, when he returned to power after a decade's absence. These young people don't have any political awareness. Ever since they can remember, it's been Bibi up top. His rivals come and go like those plastic ducks you shoot at at a county fair, while Netanyahu is eternal.

Some of them will find it hard to believe that other prime ministers have done things for their nation and their country. Ariel Sharon courageously aborted the madness of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Ehud Barak withdrew the IDF from Lebanon. Menachem Begin conceded every grain of sand in Sinai for the sake of peace with Egypt. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres signed the Oslo Accords in an attempt to end the conflict with the Palestinians, and won valuable legitimacy for Israel internationally. Ehud Olmert bombed a Syrian reactor and boldly went the longest distance with Mahmoud Abbas who got cold feet and hightailed it.

In the past 10 years, Netanyahu has been the chief beneficiary of his predecessors' achievements in all sectors and on all fronts: security, diplomacy, economics. He's building on their backs, establishing the kingdom of Netanyahu with the fruits of their labor. It's no wonder that on the eve of the 2013 election, the popular singer Sarit Hadad crooned to him on the stage: You're the best; this week, at Likud's victory gathering, pop star Eden Ben Zaken warbled to him, You are my life.


 Israel's likely next justice minister has the Supreme Court in the crosshairs


How the Saudi royal rivalry rattles the entire Middle East

Sat, 20 Apr 2019 02:10:05

Imagine a family with 43 brothers, each of whom has dozens of children and hundreds of grandchildren, every one of them confident that he is the one worthy of being king. That, in a nutshell, describes the Saudi royal family.

The traditional Saudi system determines that succession passes between brothers, namely, among the sons of the kingdom's founder Abdulaziz Ibn Saud. The system served its purpose well, but was changed in 2007, when King Abdullah set up an Allegiance Council, a family forum with the authority to choose the crown prince and appoint the next king. Abdullah, however, did not implement his own decision and instead picked two crown princes on his own his brothers Prince Sultan and Prince Nayef, each of whom died of natural causes before having the opportunity to head the dynasty.

Abdullah's decision to change the system of succession, followed by his decision to appoint Prince Muqrin as deputy prime minister which traditionally serves as a springboard to becoming king angered the Sudairi wing of the royal family. These are the sons of Princess Hussa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi, one of the more prominent wives of founder King Ibn Saud. These princes felt that King Abdullah was trying to push them away from power, while strengthening other factions of the royal family. As the aging king approached death, the conflict simmering under the surface only intensified.


 How the Saudi royal rivalry rattles the entire Middle East


Israeli police shuts down Palestinian soccer tournament in East Jerusalem

Sat, 20 Apr 2019 00:31:08

Israeli police shut down a soccer tournament in East Jerusalem on Friday, claiming that it was organized by the Palestinian Authority.

The tournament was taking place in the Beit Safafa neighborhood. According to an order Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the event was marking Palestinian Prisoners' Day and was supported by the Palestinian Authority, thus violating the Oslo Agreements which prohibit PA activity in Jerusalem.

It is a policy of the Israeli Public Security Ministry to issue closing warrants for events in East Jerusalem from time to time. In the past, the police have shut down press conferences, cultural and literary events, and even kids' festivals. Last month, the police shut down a a Mother's Day event co-organized with the French Cultural Institute. In January, the police shut down an event clebrating 50 years since the founding of Al-Maqased hospital. 


 Israeli police shuts down Palestinian soccer tournament in East Jerusalem


Sixty thousand words, bringing Jews and Arabs closer together

Sat, 20 Apr 2019 00:21:23

David Sagiv's life's work, lasting half a century, was completed a decade ago, when he was 80 years old. It was a bi-directional Hebrew-Arabic and Arabic-Hebrew dictionary called the Sagiv Dictionary, published by Shocken. The dictionary is 1,160 pages long and includes 60,000 words, expressions and sayings.

The decision to bind the two languages together symbolized for Sagiv a bringing together of hearts, something he strove for his entire life. For many generations, Jews and Arabs lived together in all Arab and Muslim countries, from Iraq in the east, to Syria and Egypt, all the way to Morocco in the west. The daily and cultural lives of the two nations were intertwined, he wrote in the introduction to his dictionary.

It's sad to see that at the advent of the 20th century Arab hostility toward Jews grew, leaving the latter feeling alienated and threatened, Sagiv wrote. At the same time, the continuing conflict in our region caused a rise in hostility toward and contempt for Arab culture in Jewish society. One way of bringing the two groups closer, he said, was to foster a common language. Knowing the other side's language will contribute a lot and become a bridge for communication. The two old and rich languages were very close to each other, Sagiv reminded readers, Anyone who is interested can find many words that are very similar in both languages, and this includes sayings and expressions.


 Sixty thousand words, bringing Jews and Arabs closer together


Arson disrupts Passover meal at Russia's largest yeshiva

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 23:32:12

Jewish officials say an arson fire was set at the largest yeshiva in Russia as the faithful were gathered there for a Passover meal.

No one was reported injured in the Friday fire at the Torat Chaim school in an eastern Moscow suburb.

Olga Esaulova, a spokeswoman for Moscow's chief rabbi, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the fire was set in a storage area for kosher meat and that swastikas were drawn at the yeshiva's entrance.


 Arson disrupts Passover meal at Russia's largest yeshiva


Greenblatt says Trump's Mideast peace plan won't include Sinai transfer to Gaza

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 22:14:03

U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan will not involve giving land from Egypt's Sinai peninsula to the Palestinians, an American envoy said on Friday.

Jason Greenblatt, Trump's Middle East envoy, apparently sought to deny reports on social media that the long-awaited plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would involve extending Gaza into the northern Sinai along Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

"Hearing reports our plan includes the concept that we will give a portion of Sinai (which is Egypt's) to Gaza. False!", Greenblatt, one of the architects of the proposal, tweeted on Friday.


 Greenblatt says Trump's Mideast peace plan won't include Sinai transfer to Gaza


U.K. Labour Party makes a non-kosher mistake in Passover greeting

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 22:11:10

Britain's Labour Party tweeted and then deleted a Passover greeting to Jews because it made a salient mistake: It featured a picture of a loaf of bread, a foodstuff banned during the weeklong holiday.

The tweet, which was ridiculed online, was posted Friday and removed within two hours. The updated greeting, which originally featured a Star of David and wine glass along with the bread, featured only the star.

>> Anti-Semitism was symptom and catalyst of U.K. Labour Party split, not root cause | Analysis


 U.K. Labour Party makes a non-kosher mistake in Passover greeting


Over 210 killed in Tripoli fighting as Trump speaks with Libyan commander Haftar

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 20:22:25

The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Monday to Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar and discussed "ongoing counterterrorism efforts and the need to achieve peace and stability in Libya."

The statement said Trump "recognized Field Marshal Haftar's significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system."

It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call.


 Over 210 killed in Tripoli fighting as Trump speaks with Libyan commander Haftar


Ukraine may elect a Jewish president. Here's why it's not an issue

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 19:42:44

KIEV It's said that reality is often stranger than fiction. In Ukraine, a popular comedian is taking both by storm. The 41-year old Volodymyr Zelensky is better known for playing a president in the wildly popular TV show Servant of the People, which sees an earnest history teacher unexpectedly thrust into the backstabbing world of Ukrainian politics. Now Zelensky could have a shot at the real deal as Ukrainians vote in the final round of the presidential election Sunday.

The comedian surprised everybody with the scale of his victory in the first round on March 31. His anti-establishment message and creative campaigning have resonated in a country mired in poverty and armed conflict, while deeply disillusioned with its political elite.

Zelensky won the first round with 30 percent of the vote, nearly double the showing of incumbent Petro Poroshenko, the confectionary mogul who has ruled this country of 44 million since 2014. As neither candidate won a majority, the two face off in Sunday's run-off; the latest opinion polls favor Zelensky.


 Ukraine may elect a Jewish president. Here's why it's not an issue


Yes, the nation-state of the Jewish people

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 17:38:45

Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken believes that the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People negates the concept of the Jewish state in Israel's Declaration of Independence. The new law, passed last year, replaces the Jewish state with the nation-state of the Jewish people, Schocken claimed in an op-ed late last month.

As Schocken sees it, the Jewish state was inclusive, while the nation-state of the Jewish people is a state that separates its citizens. As he understands it, Jewish on one hand and national on the other are opposites.

To support his argument, Schocken quotes the Declaration of Independence, which refers to equal individual rights, the development of the country for the benefit of all of its inhabitants, and liberty and equality. In Schocken's view, the only Jewish value in the Declaration of Independence appears in the statement that the State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.


 Yes, the nation-state of the Jewish people


Israel attacks two Hamas posts in Gaza after soldiers fired upon

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 16:55:13

Aircraft and a tank attacked two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday, the military said. According to the statement, the attack was a response to shooting at Israeli soldiers stationed at the Gaza border. No injuries were reported.

Last Friday, a 15-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire during weekly border protests. The teen, Maysara Abu Shaloof, was shot by live fire in the stomach. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that some 48 Palestinians were injured in the protests, which took place in several locations along the Gaza-Israel border.

The IDF Spokesman said that 7,500 Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces along the border last Friday, throwing rocks and explosive devices. "The IDF responded with live fire at the protesters and with other means of riot-control," said the military. Israeli security forces also arrested an unarmed Palestinian near the border fence in the north of the Strip, and transferred him for investigation.  


 Israel attacks two Hamas posts in Gaza after soldiers fired upon


Macron expresses hope Netanyahu's new government will push for two-state solution

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 13:44:04

French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu on Thursday via a letter for winning the Israeli election, expressing hope his government will renew efforts towards a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

The spokeswoman for the French Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a written statement Friday that Israel and France maintain an "extraordinary friendship," adding it "will work with the new Israeli government to expand cooperation in every area, and will continue the dialogue on regional and security issues."

>>  Benjamin Netanyahu, the undertaker of the two-state solution - Meet the world's last, best hope to prevent Israel's annexation of the West Bank


 Macron expresses hope Netanyahu's new government will push for two-state solution


Iran floods leave its regime drowning in domestic criticism

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 13:23:09

In about two weeks, from mid-March to the beginning of April, some 70 percent of the annual precipitation fell in Iran. About 1,900 cities and villages some estimates cite 4,500 communities in about 21 districts were flooded with water and mud. More than 70 people were killed and about two million are in need of food and medicines.

Some 150,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged, dozens of bridges collapsed or were rendered unsafe and some 12,000 kilometers of roads, about one third of Iran's paved roads, have been damaged or destroyed. According to a preliminary assessment the damage is $2.2 billion.

>> The Islamic Revolution succeeded, Iran not so much - How 40 years of mullah-nomics have failed Iran - Climate change-driven flooding has become Trump's ally in his war on Iran


 Iran floods leave its regime drowning in domestic criticism


For you were (not) slaves in Egypt: The ancient memories behind the Exodus myth

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 12:13:31

The Passover narrative is one of the greatest stories ever told. More than any other biblical account, the escape of the enslaved Hebrews from Egypt is the foundational story of the Jewish faith and identity, one that all Jews are commanded to pass on from generation to generation.

Also, it never happened.

For decades now, most researchers have agreed that there is no evidence to suggest that the Exodus narrative reflects a specific historical event. Rather, it is an origin myth for the Jewish people that has been constructed, redacted, written and rewritten over centuries to include multiple layers of traditions, experiences and memories from a host of different sources and periods.


 For you were (not) slaves in Egypt: The ancient memories behind the Exodus myth


Settlers 'executed' a Palestinian, and the Israeli army covered it up, rights group reports

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 10:36:17

It's a very busy traffic circle on Highway 60, the major route in the West Bank, between the Hawara checkpoint and the Tapuah settlement intersection, not far from Nablus. As you drive toward the spot, which the Palestinians call Beita Circle and the settlers call Beitot Circle, garbage is piled up along the roadside. This is the industrial zone of the town of Hawara, where there is no industry other than garages and workers' restaurants that look out onto the highway.

On April 3, three men, all of them on the way to work, arrived at the traffic circle separately. Only two of them left the site alive. The third was shot to death. The B'Tselem Israeli human rights organization asserted this week that the shooting was an execution and that the Israel Defense Forces destroyed evidence and whitewashed the findings.

It all happened in a flash. A little before 8:30 A.M., Mohammed Abdel Fattah arrived at the circle. He was 23 years old, married and the father of 7-month-old daughter, on the way from his apartment in his uncle's house in the village of Beita to his job at the uncle's brick factory in the village of Jama'in. He had apparently been traveling in a shared taxi. Eyewitnesses saw him standing by the side of the road and smoking two cigarettes, one after the other. What was going on in his mind? What was he planning? What made him act? We are unlikely to know.


 Settlers 'executed' a Palestinian, and the Israeli army covered it up, rights group reports


Israel army demolishes home of Israeli teen's murderer

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 08:24:40

Israeli security forces demolished Friday morning two family apartments of Arafat Irfaiya, who admitted to the killing and rape of an Israeli teen in February.

Arafat Irfaiya, a 29-year-old Palestinian resident of the West Bank town of Hebron, was charged by the Jerusalem District prosecutor's office in March with the killing Ori Ansbacher, 19, in a forest on the edge of Jerusalem. In addition to premeditated brutal murder and rape, Irfaiya is charged with an act of terrorism and illegal entry into Israel.

>> Read more: Palestinian factions turn backs on Israeli teen's murderer because he raped her - Analysis: Swift operation led to capture of Israeli teen's suspected murderer, who likely acted alone


 Israel army demolishes home of Israeli teen's murderer


Israel and Hamas seal deal, but turning back on Abbas could come at a price

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 06:11:55

Israel and Hamas continue to tiptoe toward a long-term cease-fire in Gaza.

This week, the crisis over the cell phones in prisons was resolved fairly quickly. Hamas prisoners halted the hunger strike (which had relatively few participants) they'd launched following the installation of cellular jamming systems in two prison wings. Israel did not remove the jammers, as the prisoners had initially demanded, but it also did not say if it would reactivate them or expand the program to four more security prisoner wings. Most likely, this will not happen. Hamas also scored a major achievement -- also at the expense of Fatah, whose prisoners will soon benefit from the Israeli concession when Netanyahu approved the installation in the security wings of public phones which the prisoners can use (under supervision) to speak with their families.

>> Gaza leader says 'finger on the trigger,' but Hamas and Israel are nearing agreement | Analysis - Israel goes easy on Hamas, harder on Abbas | Analysis


 Israel and Hamas seal deal, but turning back on Abbas could come at a price


New Israeli army chief was greeted with Iranian rocket and Gaza violence. Now comes the hard part

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 06:08:02

Once a paratrooper, always a paratrooper. As he prepared to take over as IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi devoured all the biographies and autobiographies of his predecessors in the position. In the time since the two and a half months from the announcement of his appointment to when he became chief of staff, plus three months so far in office Kochavi has held hundreds of preparatory meetings, convened the general staff for a seminar on the meaning of victory and formed team after team to examine the changes in the IDF he feels are required.

Will the assortment of clever ideas now being raised coalesce into an orderly, effective multiyear plan? Will such a plan actually be implemented and optimally prepare the army for any future wars that should occur? The answers to these questions will only start to become clear towards the end of this year. And to be fair, it must be said that the answers do not depend solely upon the IDF.

>> Read more: During first 100 days in office, army Chief of Staff Kochavi demonstrates restraint under fire - Israel's new army chief has an ambitious plan


 New Israeli army chief was greeted with Iranian rocket and Gaza violence. Now comes the hard part


Haaretz Cartoon

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 05:59:11

 Haaretz Cartoon


The freedom to eat chametz

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 01:14:52

Tonight Israel will celebrate the holiday of freedom and just like every year, the freedom of many hospitalized patients will be infringed on during the intermediate days of Pesach.

The petition submitted to the High Court of Justice against the ban on bringing chametz into hospitals during Passover hasn't been decided yet. So non-Jewish patients, secular patients, and all the patients who aren't observant and their families will be forced to sneak food surreptitiously into their mouths like outlaws, or leave food containing chametz at hospitals' entrance.

>>Read more: For you were (not) slaves in Egypt: The ancient memories behind the Exodus myth


 The freedom to eat chametz


This is the godfather of Palestinian hip hop

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 00:30:14

Telling good instrumental hip hop from bad boils down to one question. If the question gets asked while listening to an album, it's a sign the music isn't good or interesting enough. If the album reaches its end without the question coming up even once, the musician has good reason to feel proud of himself. That question is, of course, When is the rapper coming in already? or, as it's formulated in the head when the music becomes especially boring, Oof, when is the rapper coming in already?

Instrumental hip hop albums aren't released in massive numbers in our region, and those that don't elicit that question are even fewer. So it was good to come across (somewhat late the album came out at the end of 2018) Inkanakuntu (Souk Records) by the Palestinian hip hop producer Muqata'a. Formerly known as Boikutt, Muqata'a is one of the leading musicians in the awakening wave of Palestinian hip hop. He was among the founders of the pioneer band Palestinian Underground in the middle of the last decade, and in recent years has been a member of a collective called Saleb Wahad.

The godfather of the Ramallah scene, as he's been recently dubbed, is also scheduled to appear this summer in the Sonar Festival in Barcelona, one of the most important electronic music festivals. As founders of a new musical scene, Muqata'a and his colleagues (rappers and producers such as Al Nather, Makimakkuk, Shab jdeed, Julmud and Straight Outta Palestine) are breakthrough artists in the context of contemporary Palestinian culture. Muqata'a is marching on a musical and structural road paved by American producers (RZA, Madlib, Deejay Shadow) from the 1990s on. But along that road, Muqata'a has a musical grammar of his own, and through that personal grammar he is able to infuse the tracks on the CD with a sense of development, with a plot that's interesting to follow.


 This is the godfather of Palestinian hip hop


I tidied my house, and it really did change my life

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 00:20:43

We moved to the United States in mid-2017 from a small, old house in a moshav in the center of Israel. Our three boys shared one room (which was completely taken up by their beds); the baby slept in our room. A desk in the cramped living room was our home office. The crowded kitchen was also the dining room (just five places to sit, but the baby didn't seem to mind). We loved the house, with its high, light-filled windows and the big lawn outside.

Before moving, we packed the whole house clothes, books, toys, even kitchen utensils and two mattresses and shipped it all off in a container to our new home. We boarded a plane and arrived one fine, sunny August morning at our new suburban American domicile, which was bigger and more spacious than we'd imagined.

And then, jetlagged and with four children on summer vacation, we went shopping. We went from floor to floor in infinitely large furniture stores, trying to navigate our way back to the dresser we thought would be appropriate, and discovering that one of the boys had fallen asleep on a sofa in the middle of the display area, and that a blonde woman was looking at him and reporting to her husband, That must be a comfortable sofa!


 I tidied my house, and it really did change my life


After Trump's move, U.S. will now register people born in Golan Heights as native Israelis

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 23:45:59

WASHINGTON  The U.S. State Department has updated its policy to reflect President Donald Trump's decision to officially recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel, so that people born in the disputed territory will be registered as born in Israel.

Official documents, such as American passports, will also reflect the State Department's policy, in light of Trump's decision from last month.

>>  Read more: The nation's with the Golan, an Israeli saying goes. But government much less so - Trump's recognition or not, Israelis aren't moving to the Golan


 After Trump's move, U.S. will now register people born in Golan Heights as native Israelis


Some Israelis have duplicate health insurance and it costs the state almost $1 billion per year

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 23:45:28

To their surprise, Mr. and Ms. P., a couple in their 50s living in central Israel, discovered that between the two of them they held no fewer than 33 health and nursing care insurance policies.

Ten of them were for workplace accidents, nine for nursing care, seven were for term life insurance policies (they pay out benefits only after death), four health insurance policies and three for major illnesses.

That's an extreme case of the duplicate coverage we discovered during in our consultation work, said Shai Melamed, CEO of Melamed Consultants, which advises consumers on insurance. We recommended they cancel 25 of the policies and save themselves 5,000 shekels a month.


 Some Israelis have duplicate health insurance and it costs the state almost $1 billion per year


Israel's central bank might resume buying of foreign currency

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 23:24:51

The Bank of Israel might resume its policy of intervening in the foreign currency market to prevent a further strengthening of the shekel, which is up more than 4% against the dollar this year, the minutes of a meeting of the bank's Monetary Committee show.

Since the beginning of the year, the shekel has strengthened by about 4.5% in terms of the nominal effective exchange rate, said the minutes, which were released Thursday.

The committee believes that if the appreciation continues, it is liable to make the inflation rate's return toward the midpoint of the target more difficult, and if necessary, the Bank of Israel will consider using the tool of intervention in the foreign exchange market.


 Israel's central bank might resume buying of foreign currency


Between anti-vaxxers and anti-Semitism: N.Y.C.'s Orthodox Jews' war against measles

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 22:54:23

NEW YORK As Mayor Bill de Blasio was declaring a public health emergency last week over a measles outbreak in Brooklyn's Jewish community, a heated debate on the issue broke out outside the news conference.

How can you take away my religious liberty? a young ultra-Orthodox mother, surrounded by friends, demanded to know of a Hasidic pediatrician on the sidewalk. Another declared: We're talking about the idea that God created all humans perfectly. Injecting them with something is like saying that God didn't create a perfect design.

First of all, it has nothing to do with Yiddishkeit, the doctor angrily replied, shaking his index finger at the group of mothers in front of him.


 Between anti-vaxxers and anti-Semitism: N.Y.C.'s Orthodox Jews' war against measles


Democratic senators introduce resolution to restore U.S. aid to Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 22:51:07

Six Democratic senators have introduced a resolution to restore U.S. humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Congress appropriated $257.5 million in 2018 for bilateral assistance to the two areas, but the Trump administration has not distributed the money because of perceived intransigence on peace talks by the Palestinians and payments to the families of those who have attacked Israelis.

>> Read more: Trump says Netanyahu's reelection is good for peace. Israeli politics could prove otherwise | Analysis - UNRWA under attack: Trump tries to destroy a Palestinian achievement to force a deal 


 Democratic senators introduce resolution to restore U.S. aid to Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza


Mueller report shows no Israeli or Saudi links to 2016 campaign, contradicting speculations

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 22:39:45

WASHINGTON  In the months leading up to the publication of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, there were reports, rumors and speculations that Russia won't be the only country mentioned in the report with regards to foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

There were claims that Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would also be "featured" in the report. Those assumptions turned out on Thursday to be false.

>> Explained: How Mueller's hunt for a Russia-Trump conspiracy came up short 


 Mueller report shows no Israeli or Saudi links to 2016 campaign, contradicting speculations


The women working to end Israel's high-tech patriarchy

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 22:05:43

Noga Mann, 28, and Yasmin Dunsky, 26, learned how to program at a young age.

The women, who both hold degrees in computer science from Hebrew University, mention this fact casually, as if programming and computers weren't normally thought of as mostly male fields.

Their attitude about it has a lot to do with how they grew up. Dunsky's older sister, who studied programming in high school, taught her the programming basics, whetting her appetite for more. Mann's father is a programmer, but she learned how to do it on her own, with the help of a book, once she got her heart set on establishing an online fan club for her idols as a girl: the twin actresses Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.


 The women working to end Israel's high-tech patriarchy


Only 38% of Israelis see global warming as major threat, study finds

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:56:59

In a study on how climate change is viewed globally, Israel was found to be the least concerned country out of twenty-six countries surveyed, the Pew Research Center pointed out in analysis of its 2018 findings published Thursday ahead of Earth Day on April 22.

The study found that only 38 percent of Israelis said they consider climate change a major threat.

Among the countries ranked the most concerned, 90 percent of Greeks said they view climate change as a major threat, with South Korea at 86 percent and France at 83 percent. 


 Only 38% of Israelis see global warming as major threat, study finds


Battle over Kafka's estate ends: Swiss vaults containing unpublished manuscripts to be handed to Israel

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:40:59

Ending a legal battle that lasted more than a decade over Franz Kafka's literary estate, a Swiss court ruled last week that Israel's National Library can now open bank safes which experts assess contain a trove of unpublished manuscripts and drawings by the famed Jewish writer.

The bank safes were in possession of Esther Hoffe, the personal secretary and heir to the estate of writer Max Brod, who was a close friend of Kafka. 

The Zurich district court's decision upheld a 2016 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, which demands the family of Hoffe hand over the majority of Brod's and Kafka's estates, which were kept illegally for decades in banks in Switzerland and in Tel Aviv.


 Battle over Kafka's estate ends: Swiss vaults containing unpublished manuscripts to be handed to Israel


There's a way to save Jordan. But it might kill the Dead Sea

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:14:17

The Dead Sea is slowly dying. For tens of thousands of years, it was fed by rain and the Jordan River, which runs south from the inland Sea of Galilee to the inland salt lake. But in the 1960s, Israel began to massively divert water from the Jordan, chiefly to the Negev, to make the desert bloom as the nation's founders had envisioned. The Kingdom of Jordan did its share of damage by damming the Yarmouk, a river passing through its territory that fed the Jordan.

The result is that the Jordan River, little more than a stream to begin with, has all but dried up. Rainfall in the desert is pitiful by definition, so with barely any incoming water to replenish the loss from evaporation, the Dead Sea started to shrink and fast. Experts estimate that the water level has been dropping by 1 to 1.2 meters (3.3 to 3.9 feet) each year.

The Dead Sea is actually a hypersaline inland lake with no outlets, which explains its hypersalinity nearly 10 times that of the oceans. Water and sediment enter the lake with rain, rivers and flooding. But only water leaves, by evaporation. As the water level in the Dead Sea declines, groundwater takes its place in the soil around the lake. That subterranean process has been causing havoc on the surface in the form of massive sinkholes.


 There's a way to save Jordan. But it might kill the Dead Sea


This is the only effective way to push back against Netanyahu's Israel

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:05:33

For all the wailing and teeth-gnashing of liberal Diaspora Jews in the wake of Benjamin Netanyahu's win, you would have thought they actually believed Benny Gantz had a sporting-chance of winning this election. Or that if he had, a solution for the ongoing injustice of the occupation would have been just around the corner.

To hear some of the reactions in recent days (and to be fair it wasn't just overseas, a few Israeli leftists pronouncing the death of democracy contributed their share), you would think that Gantz, whose party didn't even present a diplomatic plan before the election, had some special secret recipe that had eluded previous PMs Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, who both tried and failed to reach a deal with the Palestinians.

>> For U.S. Jews, Netanyahu's Next Government Is the End of the Line >> Netanyahu May Finally Be Realizing His Vision for 'Durable Peace'


 This is the only effective way to push back against Netanyahu's Israel


Palestinians to resume building in East Jerusalem after municipality pushes back against far-right pressure

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 20:41:31

East Jerusalem Palestinians will now be able to build in the city after the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee resumed this week construction plans that rely on a long-standing procedure for establishing land ownership of Palestinians.

The move comes after representatives of right-wing parties and the secular Hitorerut ticket on the city's zoning board voted against the building plans two months ago, prompting the committee to turn down 20 building plans.

>> Once again, Israel's courts collaborate with government anti-Arab housing policy | Analysis


 Palestinians to resume building in East Jerusalem after municipality pushes back against far-right pressure


Robert Kraft still poised to receive Genesis Prize despite prostitution scandal

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 20:10:17

Despite a prostitution scandal, it looks like Robert Kraft is still poised to receive the 2019 Genesis Prize.

On Thursday, the Genesis Prize Foundation sent an email with an update on the ceremony not to say it was canceled, but to announce that comedian Martin Short will be master of ceremonies at the event in Jerusalem.

In a promotional video, Short makes a few jokes but does not comment on the ongoing Kraft case.


 Robert Kraft still poised to receive Genesis Prize despite prostitution scandal


A young Israeli soldier's long-lost account from the doomed '48 battle for Jerusalem's Old City

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 19:57:17

About three months ago, after my mother's death, I found a box of old documents envelopes, certificates and letters all bundled together, yellowing, some torn along the folds. Birth and marriage certificates, combat documents and fighter pins, photographs of Mom and Dad surrounded by friends, bearing arms and in the background, stone buildings and archways. Unmistakably, Jerusalem. One brown envelope contained folded pages of typescript: the testimony of a young fighter who suffered serious head wounds in the battle for the Old City of Jerusalem during Israel's War of Independence, in late May 1948.

That young man, who would later become my father, lay in the hospital of the ophthalmologist Dr. Avraham Ticho and spoke to someone named Z. Maimon, who was sent to him. By whom? It's not clear. Maimon heard his account of the battle for the Old City, which had ended in defeat and surrender for the Israeli forces a week earlier. Everything is still fresh, still painful; it's all told in the first person, it's very personal. The fighters who came out of the battle alive and physically fit were taken prisoner by the Jordanians. Those who were killed were buried in a mass grave in the Old City. The Arab Legion the Jordanian army transferred my father and others who were seriously wounded to the new city, the western Jewish part located outside the Old City walls.

My father's name was Yosef Mizrahi; he later changed his surname to Yagil. He grew up in the new city, his childhood spent in the alleys of the Nahlaot neighborhood and of Mahane Yehuda, the adjacent produce market. He lived in what was called the tin shack quarter Sephardi, religious, poor. In 1948, at age 20, he was sent with the Moriah Battalion of the Palmach strike force to the Jewish Quarter, and with a few other soldiers found himself, unprepared, in a life-and-death battle. Besieged by the Arab forces and abandoned by the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine, their ultimate weapons were will power and determination.


 A young Israeli soldier's long-lost account from the doomed '48 battle for Jerusalem's Old City


Saudi runaway sisters apply for asylum in Georgia after kingdom suspends their passports

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 19:39:00

Two Saudi sisters who fled their country and appealed for international protection earlier this week saying their lives would be at risk if they were to return to the conservative kingdom are applying for asylum in Georgia.

Immigration authorities in the former Soviet republic visited the siblings on Thursday in their temporary apartment in Tbilisi, providing them with information on how to apply for asylum in the country, the Georgian interior ministry said.

>> Read more: The dark sides of Saudi Arabia | A special Haaretz report in five parts - Saudi nuclear reactor nears completion without kingdom signing non-proliferation agreement, report says


 Saudi runaway sisters apply for asylum in Georgia after kingdom suspends their passports


Israel's future saviors wear IDF uniforms

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 19:24:36

One of the discouraging conclusions most often drawn from last week's election is this: as popular as Benjamin Netanyahu and the right are now, they'll be still more popular in the future.

That's because young voters support the prime minister, his Likud party and its coalition partners more than their older sisters and brothers, and a great deal more than their parents and grandparents do.

Several recent reports - on NPR, Vice, and Jewish Currents, among others - wonder (as a headline on Unherd asked), Why are Israeli kids so Right wing?


 Israel's future saviors wear IDF uniforms


Israeli couple suspected of kidnapping their daughter because they disapproved of her relations with men

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 19:19:32

A couple in Israel were arrested on suspicion of abducting their 18-year-old daughter and then injuring her by dragging her along a road in the southern Bedouin town of Rahat while her legs were hanging out of the car.

The incident allegedly took place because the parents disapproved of what they deemed her promiscuous conduct with men.

The suspects, who live in the center of the country and are in their early 40s, are expected to be indicted in the case on Thursday by the Be'er Sheva District Court, police said.


 Israeli couple suspected of kidnapping their daughter because they disapproved of her relations with men


Record number of 'wasted' votes in Israeli election for parties that failed to enter Knesset

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:53:23

A record number of 366,016 votes went to parties that failed to pass the electoral threshold in the Israeli election, amounting to 8.49 percent of all valid votes.

The right-wing camp squandered the majority of the votes, after Moshe Feiglin's Zehut party and Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's Hayamin Hehadash party failed to garner at least 3.25 percent of all votes which is the electoral threshold that represents some four Knesset seats in order to secure parliamentary representation (32,860 votes were equal to one Knesset seat in this election).  

>> The downfall of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked - The competition was fierce, but Labor wins the humiliation race | Analysis


 Record number of 'wasted' votes in Israeli election for parties that failed to enter Knesset


War breaks out among Israel studies scholars over journal combating anti-Zionist rhetoric'

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:41:42

An organization of Israel studies scholars is facing an internal rebellion over charges that it allowed itself to serve Israel advocacy efforts and compromised its professional integrity.

At the center of the controversy is a special issue of Israel Studies a journal affiliated with the Association for Israel Studies which is dedicated to pushing back against anti-Zionist rhetoric.

Critics say the issue ignores basic standards of academic scholarship, is heavily slanted in favor of Israel and relies on contributions from lightweights in the field.


 War breaks out among Israel studies scholars over journal combating anti-Zionist rhetoric'


Trump's initial reaction to Mueller's appointment: 'I'm f*%ked'

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:31:11

Public at last, special counsel Robert Mueller's report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday that President Donald Trump had tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller's removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president.

Read the full report here

According to Politico's Dan Diamond the report details Trump's initial reaction to Mueller's appointment. "Trump's reported reaction when he was told Mueller was appointed: 'This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked.'" The quote is on page 290 of the report, detailing a conversation in the Oval Office after then Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Trump of the appointment.


 Trump's initial reaction to Mueller's appointment: 'I'm f*%ked'


Why 'Game of Thrones' is the perfect gateway drug to CNN (but not Fox News)

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:30:35

I am probably the least qualified person to write about the HBO blockbuster Game of Thrones. It makes as much sense as sending Donald Trump to lead a feminism seminar or inviting Mike Pence to an orgy.

But we live in strange times, so here I am writing about the first episode of the final season and desperately trying to understand what the hell is going on. It's as if someone fell into a coma on the way to voting for Hillary Clinton and woke up three years later saying, What have I missed? 

I have previously written about my aversion to Game of Thrones,  which generated many warm words from the show's fans online (mainly You will burn in Hell for this). To save you the trouble of reading the original article, I can sum it up thus: I have no interest in any show whose source novels weigh more than any of my children; I have no interest in any show that can be summed up with the tagline Breasts and Dragons (which, incidentally, was also the late Hugh Hefner's suggestion for how to make Dungeons & Dragons less geeky); and I have no interest in shows featuring a cast of thousands of special effects workers. 


 Why 'Game of Thrones' is the perfect gateway drug to CNN (but not Fox News)


Two Jewish philanthropists pledge $122 million for Notre Dame reconstruction

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:27:33

Two Jewish women have pledged between them $122 million toward the restoration of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral, which was ravaged in a fire.

Lily Safra, a Brazilian Jewish philanthropist, said she would give $22 million to fund the restoration efforts of the iconic church, which was badly damaged in a devastating fire on Monday, Correio 24 Horas reported. And Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the French billionaire owner of L'Oreal, pledged another $100 million, according to CBS.

>> Read more: Notre Dame fire may be divine punishment, says prominent settler rabbi - Fire at Notre Dame: 21st century destroys symbol of 12th century | Analysis


 Two Jewish philanthropists pledge $122 million for Notre Dame reconstruction


Rank and File: Telfed's annual Passover picnic and braai at Kibbutz Tzora

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:26:45

A PASSOVER BBQ? BRAAI-ENU: Telfed, the South African Zionist Federation, is hosting its annual Chol Hamoed Passover Picnic and Braai which regularly draws over 100 participants annually in Kibbutz Tzora from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. on Sunday. This will be the 13th year, our bar mitzvah year, noted Telfed's Dorron Kline. He told Haaretz the picnic is open to all immigrant families from South Africa and Australia. Although the majority come from nearby Beit Shemesh, he said visitors also come from as far away as Haifa, Gush Etzion, Jerusalem, Modi'in, Netanya and Tel Aviv. It's nice to expose the mainly religious olim from Beit Shemesh to the nonreligious olim from Kibbutz Tzora, Kline observed. Organized by the Telfed Beit Shemesh Regional Committee and Kibbutz Tzora, attractions include soccer, rugby and cricket, as well as tours of the Tzora winery and dairy, and water slides. Families are encouraged to bring their own braai, the traditional South African barbecue. For more info, call Aviva at 09-790-7805.

HAGGADAH'S GREATEST HITS: Kol Hakolot Songs of the Haggadah is the theme of the annual Kol HaOt Illuminated Haggadah Fair, to be held this Monday at the Hutzot Hayotzer Artists Colony in Jerusalem. Organizers said the event will feature a mass group-singing experience, with hundreds of people joining in a chorus of the Haggadah's greatest hits. This multisensory musical happening, based on these beloved Passover songs, will be an opportunity for the public to be part of an unforgettable holiday video in a magical setting just outside the Old City walls, said Elyssa Moss Rabinowitz, Kol HaOt's executive director. The mass harmonious chorus will be creating a new expression of freedom and redemption, she added. The fair will also feature works by artists such as Matthew Berkowitz, a native of Freehold, New Jersey; David Moss, who is from Dayton, Ohio; and Ben Simon, who hails from Long Island. For more info, visit www.funinjerusalem.com/hakolot

HELPING DISTRESSED IMMIGRANTS: Alex Sasaki, the 27-year-old lone soldier from California who was found dead last month, is the latest case in a trend worrying immigrant-support organizations like Keep Olim. In an effort to support immigrants in distress, who reportedly account for a third of all suicides in Israel, Keep Olim is launching a three-pronged pilot program involving support groups, crisis hotlines and counseling. We have 13 groups in five languages in five cities, Keep Olim co-founder LiAmi Lawrence told Haaretz, with English-language groups in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be'er Sheva and Beit Shemesh. We are also starting up a crisis hotline and another one for soldiers to speak anonymously to therapists, he said, adding: Seventy people called me last year, five in the last three weeks. He said there are 75 therapists on standby for one-to-one counseling, under the direction of volunteer program director Dr. Robert Lubin. For more info, visit https://keepolim.org/en/


 Rank and File: Telfed's annual Passover picnic and braai at Kibbutz Tzora


Ocasio-Cortez is right about cutting aid to Israel, for the wrong reasons

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:20:40

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's every word is followed as closely as Donald Trump's, and she's certainly no great friend of Israel. But even if her call this week to reduce American aid to Israel was aimed at punishing Benjamin Netanyahu for his bad behavior and Israeli voters for reelecting him, it's a goal whose time has come.

Fortunately for Israel, Ocasio-Cortez got her facts wrong. In an interview with Yahoo's podcast Skullduggery, she said that cutting aid is certainly on the table.

>> Read more: Ocasio-Cortez on Omar death threat: When Fox's Pirro rallies people to think hijabs are threatening, it leads to this - Fox News is obsessed with Alexanderia Ocasio-Cortez, new study finds


 Ocasio-Cortez is right about cutting aid to Israel, for the wrong reasons


These are the Jews who made it into Time Magazine's 100 most influential people list

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:09:26

One week after winning his fifth term in office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his way into Time Magazine's annual 100 most influential people list.

Other Jewish people on the list include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; Jennifer Hyman, whose $1 billion company Rent the Runway allows subscribers to rent designer clothing online; and Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin, who started the progressive activism group Indivisible.

>> Netanyahu, more emboldened than ever, will do anything to stop Indictment | Analysis - For Israel and liberal U.S. Jews, Netanyahu's next government is the end of the line | Chemi Shalev


 These are the Jews who made it into Time Magazine's 100 most influential people list


Inside the secret world of Indonesia's Jewish community

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:08:38

JAKARTA, Indonesia About an hour's drive from the city center on a low-traffic day, some of Indonesia's small Jewish community gathers once a month to secretly pray on Shabbat.

Judaism is not recognized as one of the country's six official religions and members of the local Jewish community have to register as Christian or another recognized religion on their official identity cards. Although the Indonesian constitution guarantees religious freedom for all, the government only extends official recognition to Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Yet despite the challenges surrounding their religious identity, Indonesia's Jews are determined to continue practicing and preserving their faith.

Inside a nondescript building in this Jakarta suburb which the Jewish community requested not be named for fear of reprisal one room has been converted into a space for prayers. This is where these community members meet to pray until Shabbat ends.


 Inside the secret world of Indonesia's Jewish community


Fox's Chris Wallace, Chuck Schumer slam Barr's press conference on Mueller report

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:07:18

The Senate's top Democrat is mocking Attorney General William Barr's news conference on special counsel Robert Mueller's report as a campaign press conference for President Donald Trump.

The tweet by New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer also says it is time to release Mueller's report on his investigation into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russian interference in the election. Schumer is Senate minority leader.

Barr told reporters at a news conference that the report found no cooperation between the campaign and Russia and no effort by Trump to thwart investigators.


 Fox's Chris Wallace, Chuck Schumer slam Barr's press conference on Mueller report


Ivanka Trump says she is concerned over 'rise in anti-Semitism'

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 18:01:15

Ivanka Trump said that she is concerned about a rise in anti-Semitism while on a visit to Africa.

Trump, the Jewish daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, also told The Associated Press that there currently is less support for Israel than Israel has traditionally experienced.

>> Trump: Democratic Party has become 'anti-Jewish' and 'anti-Israel' - When Jews on both left and right whitewash anti-Semitism | Anshel Pfeffer


 Ivanka Trump says she is concerned over 'rise in anti-Semitism'


U.S. and Israel both decline on press-freedom index - U.S. now 'problematic'

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 17:54:49

The Americas saw the greatest deterioration in press freedom of any part of the world during the last year, a press advocacy group said Thursday.

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders shows that Nicaragua fell 24 places from the previous year's list due to attacks on journalists covering protests against President Daniel Ortega. Some journalists fled abroad, fearing they might be jailed on terrorism charges. 

The report said that never before in the United States have journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security companies for protection. An armed man walked into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, and killed four journalists and another employee last June.


 U.S. and Israel both decline on press-freedom index - U.S. now 'problematic'


Reform and Conservative movements in Israel petition High Court for equal funding

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 17:45:33

The Reform and Conservative movements in Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice on Thursday, demanding budget parity with the Orthodox movement.

Orthodoxy is the only officially recognized Jewish movement in Israel.

The petition notes that some 120 Orthodox rabbis employed in big towns and cities benefit from state-funded salaries, unlike their Conservative and Reform counterparts. According to the petition, these rabbis receive a total of 14 million shekels ($4 million) a year from the state budget, whereas the Conservative and Reform movements receive barely 1 million shekels for their own rabbis.


 Reform and Conservative movements in Israel petition High Court for equal funding


For Israel and liberal American Jews, Netanyahu's next government is the end of the line

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 17:35:29

Generally speaking, there are two Benjamin Netanyahus. Bibi the First, who was prime minister in the 1990s and again in 2009-2015, carefully advanced his right-wing agenda while flirting with moderates and playing more or less by the rules. Bibi the Second, who has led Israel since 2015 and was just reelected for a second term, is a radical right-winger who caters to Jewish supremacists and is bent on rewriting the rules in their favor as well as his own.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that 2015 was also a turning point in Netanyahu's relations with the liberal majority of American Jews. The historic bonds between liberal Jews and a right-wing Israel that evades peace, entrenches the occupation and refuses to recognize their own Jewishness were always problematic but had been carefully maintained nonetheless. But tensions flared after Netanyahu's in-your-face-Obama speech to Congress and his Arab-baiting electoral victory in March 2015, grew into an open breach with the dead-on-arrival Western Wall agreement, and evolved into a rupture in the wake of Netanyahu's embrace of Donald Trump as well as his coalition's Nation-State Law and anti-democratic initiatives.

>> Read more: What U.S. Jews can expect from the next Netanyahu government and it's not religious pluralism - It's not anti-Semitism that makes defending Israel in America so hard. It's Netanyahu | Opinion - Trump now expects payback from Netanyahu. It could blow up the Middle East - American Jews, don't walk away from Israel | Opinion


 For Israel and liberal American Jews, Netanyahu's next government is the end of the line


After almost 20 years, Netanyahu may finally realize his vision for 'Durable Peace'

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 16:34:47

Benjamin Netanyahu has a solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. If you haven't heard of it, its because you haven't read chapter eight of his book A Durable Peace (the updated 2000 edition of his previous book "A Place Among the Nations," published seven years earlier). The chapter, also named A Durable Peace, is the plan Netanyahu formulated, based on the lessons from his first term in office after he lost the election in 1999.

Netanyahu's plan is pretty straightforward. Under it, Israel would retain some 60 percent of the territory with all the West Bank's Jewish population; the Palestinian Authority would have some 40 percent of the area with virtually the entire Palestinian population."

Israel needs 60 percent as it requires a land buffer that includes the Jordan Valley and the hills directly overlooking it and that would extend southward to the ridges above the Dead Sea. ... Israel must retain a security cordon around Jerusalem to ensure that the city is not choked by adjoining Palestinian areas. Israel must also keep its early warning stations at the heights of the Samarian mountains. ... Israel must maintain broad corridors of territory to facilitate movement from the coastline to the Jordan Valley buffer in times of emergency. Those corridors, not accidentally, include much of the Jewish population in Judea-Samaria. ... Equally, Israel must make sure that the main aquifer that supplies some 40 percent of the country's water, running at the lower part of the western slopes of the Judean and Samarian hills, does not come under Palestinian control.


 After almost 20 years, Netanyahu may finally realize his vision for 'Durable Peace'


Israel, Saudi angles to look for in Mueller's Trump-Russia report

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 15:20:17

Attorney General William Barr has provided only a glimpse of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the inquiry into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election, with many details expected to emerge when the document is finally released on Thursday.

Barr on March 24 sent a four-page letter to lawmakers detailing Mueller's "principal conclusions" including that the 22-month probe did not establish that President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign team conspired with Russia. Barr said he found insufficient evidence in Mueller's report to conclude that Trump committed obstruction of justice, though the special counsel did not make a formal finding one way or the other on that.

The attorney general has pledged to release the nearly 400-page report by mid-April, but has said portions will be blacked out to protect certain types of sensitive information.


 Israel, Saudi angles to look for in Mueller's Trump-Russia report


In first, Jennifer Lopez plans performance in Israel

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 15:16:55

This time, don't be fooled by the rocks that she's got Jennifer Lopez is set to perform in Israel for the first time.

Concert promoters confirmed the rumor Wednesday. Lopez, 49, will play at Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park on August 1.

The pop star and actress had been rumored to play in Israel in 2012 and 2016, The Jerusalem Post reported. It's her first tour in seven years.


 In first, Jennifer Lopez plans performance in Israel


A national unity government will serve no purpose

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 14:23:16

One can understand the longing of several pundits and politicians for a national unity government. The former are afraid of the implications of a narrow right-wing government, which will make its predecessor pale by comparison; the latter are afraid of the implications of such a government for their political future. But a national unity government won't save the rule of law nor the careers of those who are aiming to form such a government.

The desperate crawl towards a coalition, in the name of national responsibility of course, is not only terrible defeatism on the part of left-wingers. National responsibility doesn't mean letting a lunatic drive while you sit next to him  because if you don't, who knows what he'll do? The lunatic will drive in any case, you'll only be the one who shouts from the window: "It's all right, he has a license."

>> 13 lessons from Netanyahu's victory for Democrats hoping to beat Trump in 2020 | Analysis - The ultra-Orthodox military draft bill dividing Netanyahu's 'natural allies' | Explained


 A national unity government will serve no purpose


Fox News host rips Tlaib for saying she 'feels more Palestinian than ever' while serving in Congress

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 14:23:15

Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs ripped into freshmen Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar while discussing border security on Wednesday. Dobbs introduced the segment with Republican strategist Amy Tarkanian by quoting Tlaib's incredible remark that she never feels more Palestinian than in the halls of Congress.

Dobbs asked Tarkanian, doesn't it make you feel good to know that an American citizen serving in Congress feels more Palestinian than ever, rather than more American than ever, while serving in Congress?

Tarkanian responded by saying she is confounded by how there are people serving in Congress that are willing to desecrate on everything that has made America so great.


 Fox News host rips Tlaib for saying she 'feels more Palestinian than ever' while serving in Congress


This hot potato threatens Netanyahu's government even before it's formed

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 14:17:16

The main challenge facing the government Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to form is the enactment of a new military conscription bill. Already, this bill is threatening the establishment of the next government. 

Netanyahu will have to find a formula that can bridge the gaps on this issue between former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman who wants to return to this job and enact the conscription bill he submitted last term and the ultra-Orthodox parties, which oppose the bill.

>> Hoping to be repaid, ultra-Orthodox parties embrace Netanyahu moments after victory | Analysis - Ultra-Orthodox parties were this year's real winners, here's why - If Israel's left ever wants to regain power, it's got to stop hating the Haredim | Opinion


 This hot potato threatens Netanyahu's government even before it's formed


Russia denies recovering remains of Israeli spy Eli Cohen

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:45:50

Russia's Foreign Ministry has strongly rejected Israeli media reports claiming that Russian officials have taken the remains of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen out of Syria, where he was executed more than five decades ago.

Cohen infiltrated the top echelons of Syria's leadership in the early 1960s and obtained top-secret intelligence before he was caught and publicly executed in 1965.

Israeli media reported earlier this week that a Russian delegation took Cohen's remains out of Syria.


 Russia denies recovering remains of Israeli spy Eli Cohen


Netanyahu expected to hand Education Ministry to far-right party

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:36:01

Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to award the post of education minister to the Union of Right-Wing Parties, despite the prime minister's indications during the election campaign that the position should stay with his Likud party.

The allocation of the portfolio is a subject of the coalition talks that officially began Thursday after President Reuven Rivlin asked Netanyahu to form the next government.

The talks are being delayed, however, because the prime minister wants to meet with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the Kulanu party leader who is in Europe on vacation. Netanyahu seeks to merge Kulanu into Likud and is willing to reappoint Kahlon as finance chief and give Kulanu Knesset member Eli Cohen a cabinet post.


 Netanyahu expected to hand Education Ministry to far-right party


U.S. halts recent practice of disclosing nuclear weapon total

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:35:55

The Trump administration has halted, without explanation, the recent U.S. government practice of disclosing the current size of the nuclear weapons stockpile.

The decision was revealed in a recent Department of Energy letter to the Federation of American Scientists, a private group that studies nuclear weapons issues and advocates for government openness on national security issues.

The Obama administration, in May 2010, had declassified for the first time the full history of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile from its beginning in 1945. It revealed that the warhead total stood at 5,113 as of Sept. 30, 2009, approximately the number that private experts had estimated and about 84 percent below the official peak number of 31,255 warheads in 1967.


 U.S. halts recent practice of disclosing nuclear weapon total


Ben Shapiro glorifies 'Judeo-Christian values,' absolves its anti-Semitism and preaches its Islamophobia

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:25:23

Ben Shapiro fervently denied he had been "politicizing" the blaze at Paris' Notre Dame cathedral when he called on his two million Twitter followers to "re-familiariz ourselves with the philosophy and religious principles" grounding such a "central monument to Western civilization, which was built on the Judeo-Christian heritage." 

Despite its platitudinous, quaintly archaic sound, "Judeo-Christian values" is a far newer, and deeply politicized, invention than it sounds, gaining currency since Eisenhower used it in 1930s as a clear riposte to fascism. It was later used as a go-to phrase to challenge communism, then as an umbrella term Republican evangelical conservatives used for their political stances, from abortion to military intervention.

More recently, it's been adopted by the hard and far right to claim supremacy for white Western culture that clearly excludes Muslims, whitewashes Christian anti-Semitism and uses Jews as a convenient fig leaf for legitimacy and "inclusion."


 Ben Shapiro glorifies 'Judeo-Christian values,' absolves its anti-Semitism and preaches its Islamophobia


Israeli ultra-Orthodox party says ready for new election if Lieberman insists on draft law

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:23:35

As coalition talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu's Likud party begin in earnest following last week's Knesset election, officials with the United Torah Judaism party have said they would not join a Netanyahu-led coalition if ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students don't continue to be exempt from military conscription. If the dispute over legislation mandating the drafting of ultra-Orthodox men is not resolved in the coalition talks, United Torah Judaism would have no problem heading for new elections, the party said Tuesday.

We will insist that everyone who is studying Torah full time be able to continue studying without interference. We are telling the campaign heads throughout the country to remain on full alert, officials from ultra-Orthodox party said, implying that they are prepared for new elections.

Netanyahu would not have a majority government absent the participation of both United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beiteinu in his new coalition, but Yisrael Beiteinu has insisted on passage of legislation mandating the draft of the yeshiva students. On Tuesday, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said that if presented with choice of joining the governing coalition or heading for new elections, it would opt for new elections.


 Israeli ultra-Orthodox party says ready for new election if Lieberman insists on draft law


The surprising ancient origins of Passover

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:23:26

The Passover Seder is one of the most recognized and widely practiced of Jewish rituals, yet had our ancestors visited one of these modern-day celebrations, they would be baffled.

Not only does our modern Seder wildly diverge from the Passover of old: during antiquity itself the holiday underwent radical changes. Below we chart as best we can - considering the shortage of historical documentation - the origins of Passover, from the dawn of Israelite people to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and the consequent establishment of the embryonic Passover Seder, which modern Jews would recognize.

As the centralized Israelite state took shape about 3,000 years ago, , the religion of the people varied from place to place and took variegated forms, hints of which we can see in the Bible, virtually the only historical narrative we have of this period. Among the different folk beliefs and frankly polytheistic practices these proto-Israelites practiced, the springtime rites seem to have had special status. Two of these rituals would later become subsumed by Passover: Pesach and Hag Hamatzot.


 The surprising ancient origins of Passover


Who wrote the Passover Haggadah?

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:21:47

After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, the Jewish religion faced one of its greatest challenges: adapting to this new reality, in which a central focus of religious observance was suddenly and brutally gone.

The Jewish leadership reestablished the Sanhedrin, the Jewish legal council recognized by the Romans, in the city of Yavne. Handed the daunting task of leading the Jewish people down a new road was Rabban Gamaliel II, who resided over the Sanhedrin assembly as Nasi.

Gamaliel and his fellow rabbis strived to adapt Judaism as best they could to the new circumstances. Among their efforts was a profound reform of the Passover ritual.


 Who wrote the Passover Haggadah?


Dispute flares among U.S. officials over Trump administration Iran arms control report

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:19:23

A new Trump administration report on international compliance with arms control accords provoked a dispute with U.S. intelligence agencies and some State Department officials concerned that the document politicizes and slants assessments about Iran, five sources with knowledge of the matter said.

U.S. President Donald Trump is intensifying a drive to contain Iran's power in the Middle East, which has raised fears that his administration wants to topple the Tehran government or lay the groundwork to justify military action.

The administration says it is trying to halt Iranian "malign behavior" in its support for Islamist militants in the region and denies seeking the overthrow of the Islamic republic's government.


 Dispute flares among U.S. officials over Trump administration Iran arms control report


Trump now expects payback from Netanyahu. It could blow up the Middle East

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:11:14

The planet is suffering from a leadership deficit. It is hard to remember a time when so many of the leaders of the world's most influential countries were so inept, corrupt, weak, malevolent or all of the above.  

Worse, unlike past moments of misfortune in this respect - take Europe in 1939, for example - we lack the one or two strong leaders who might stand up to confront and counteract the defects of the others. Even worse, today's cadre of defective statesmen and stateswomen are actually made worse by collaborations among one another in which both deficits and wrongs are compounded.

There are few examples of one bad leader making another bad leader even more egregiously awful as clear and odious as the mutually enabling, dysfunctional relationship of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump. 


 Trump now expects payback from Netanyahu. It could blow up the Middle East


How can Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller honestly celebrate Passover?

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:06:16

Among the revelations in Vicky Ward's explosive book, "Kushner, Inc.," is her own exploration of the Kushner family's self-perception, which she traces across three generations. In particular, Ward describes the harrowing World War II experiences of Rae Kushner.

Before she became the Kushner family matriarch, she escaped a ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland through a tunnel, spent days hiding in the forests, and eventually joined the Bielski partisans before making her way to America when the war ended.

>> Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller Are the Most Assimilated Jews in America


 How can Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller honestly celebrate Passover?


Armed group attacks air base in southern Libya held by Haftar

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:04:45

An armed group on Thursday a major air base in southern Libya held by eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar on Thursday after he moved most of his forces north to try to seize the capital Tripoli, officials said.

The eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces managed to repel the assault on the Tamanhint air base near Sabha, the main city in Libya's south, two eastern military officials said.

An LNA soldier was killed at the base's main gate, one official said, describing the attackers as "militia".


 Armed group attacks air base in southern Libya held by Haftar


Poll: Church membership in U.S. plummets over past 20 years

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:01:59

The percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has plunged by 20 percentage points over the past two decades, hitting a low of 50% last year, according to a new Gallup poll. Among major demographic groups, the biggest drops were recorded among Democrats and Hispanics.

Gallup said church membership was 70% in 1999 and close to or higher than that figure for most of the 20th century. Since 1999, the figure has fallen steadily, while the percentage of U.S. adults with no religious affiliation has jumped from 8% to 19%.

Among Americans identifying with a particular religion, there was a sharp drop in church membership among Catholics dropping from 76% to 63% over the past two decades as the church was buffeted by clergy sex-abuse scandals. Membership among Protestants dropped from 73% to 67% percent over the same period.


 Poll: Church membership in U.S. plummets over past 20 years


The man who rescued the Israeli left

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:52:54

One thing is clear: Meretz lawmaker Esawi Freige rescued the Zionist left. Without him the party wouldn't have passed the 3.25-percent electoral threshold. The words of Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg about surviving a tsunami of voters for Kahol Lavan were honest and accurate. There was a reason that on Election Day she visited Kafr Qasem, the site of a massacre of Arab citizens by the Border Police in 1956. It's a fact that of the 156,362 voters who voted for the party, nearly 40,000 are Arab citizens between a quarter and a third.

The percentage of Arabs who voted for Meretz in the 2019 election was significantly higher than in the 2015 election. In 2015, Meretz received about 12,000 votes in the Arab communities, and about another 2,000 to 3,000 in the mixed Arab-Jewish cities. 

>> 13 lessons from Netanyahu's victory for Democrats hoping to beat Trump in 2020 | Analysis


 The man who rescued the Israeli left


Pete Buttigieg shuts down anti-gay hecklers at Iowa event defends free speech

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:47:48

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday that President Donald Trump is kind of like a Chinese finger trap you know, the harder you pull, the more you get stuck. He warned that Democrats shouldn't get bogged down in trying to knock him flat with some zinger.

In Iowa for the first time since officially launching his campaign, Buttigieg discussed how to defeat Trump after drawing an audience of more than 1,600 people at a Des Moines rally.

During the event, an audience member asked what he should tell his friends who say America isn't ready for a gay president. Buttigieg replied, Tell your friends I said Hi.'


 Pete Buttigieg shuts down anti-gay hecklers at Iowa event defends free speech


North Korea says it tested new kind of 'tactical guided weapon'

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:05:53

North Korea said Thursday that it had test-fired a new type of "tactical guided weapon," its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear negotiations.

The test, which didn't appear to be of a banned mid- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle negotiations, allows Pyongyang to show its people it is pushing ahead with weapons development while also reassuring domestic military officials worried that diplomacy with Washington signals weakness.

>> North Korean hackers cited in rare attack in Israel


 North Korea says it tested new kind of 'tactical guided weapon'


Israeli police detain journalists documenting Temple Mount activists, confiscate equipment

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 11:41:00

Two journalists were detained for five and a half hours overnight Wednesday and their equipment confiscated after they documented Temple Mount activists trying to smuggle goat kids into Jerusalem's Old City.

Haaretz journalist Hagar Shezaf and Walla Journalist Yotam Ronen are making an independent film on the Temple Mount activists and were accompanying two activists who were trying to smuggle the goats in the trunk of their car.

Every year, activists try to reach the Temple Mount to conduct the Passover sacrifice. In most cases, they are arrested by police awaiting them.


 Israeli police detain journalists documenting Temple Mount activists, confiscate equipment


Release of Robert Mueller's long-awaited report on Russia to shed new light on probe

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 10:32:16

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report on Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election will be released on Thursday, providing the first public look at the findings of an inquiry that has cast a shadow over Donald Trump's presidency.

Attorney General William Barr's planned release of the nearly 400-page report comes after Mueller wrapped up his 22-month investigation last month into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia and questions about obstruction of justice by the president. 

Its disclosure, with portions expected to be blacked out by Barr to protect some sensitive information, is certain to launch a new political fight spilling into the halls of Congress and the 2020 presidential campaign trail, as Trump seeks re-election in a deeply divided country.


 Release of Robert Mueller's long-awaited report on Russia to shed new light on probe


Israel's new army chief has an ambitious plan

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 09:35:26

Three months into the tenure of Aviv Kochavi as chief of general staff, his plans for the IDF are starting to become clearer. The general outline has been marked out and preliminary steps have already been taken. But whether the ideas being formulated by the general staff go forward is dependent on others.

First, the next cabinet will have to make time to discuss them, after the coalition negotiations and the assignment of portfolios. Then and this is the most important hurdle budgetary adjustments will have to be made before the new five-year plan can be approved.

It seems as if Kochavi is expecting abundant resources to be allocated toward his procurement plans. But it's the politicians who will decide how much of a priority military procurement will be compared to other pressing issues, from hospital overcrowding to the failing public transportation system.


 Israel's new army chief has an ambitious plan


Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom in Turmoil

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 08:07:41

Saudi Arabia is the Middle East's biggest paradox. It is a country where Islamic law is its constitution, the extremist Wahhabi doctrine dictates its citizens' way of life, and its democratic institutions like the parliament, as well as universal values such as freedom of expression and the status of women are not part of the official or public lexicon. It also produced Osama bin Laden and most of the 9/11 terrorists. And it is considered the United States' strongest ally in the Middle East.

In a country that possesses unimaginable wealth by virtue of its oil and natural gas, there are enclaves of abject poverty. In a kingdom with one of the most modern armies in the Middle East, there is not enough professional manpower to operate its fighter jets (so it has to enlist Pakistani pilots). This is a country with enormous diplomatic weight that wields huge leverage over Arab and Western countries, yet it has failed time after time to resolve regional conflicts.

Riyadh remains barely involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although it is Saudi Arabia which tabled the Arab Peace Initiative that won the support of Arab countries. Its efforts to effect fundamental change in the Lebanese government ended in fiasco, and it kept its distance from the civil war in Syria although it could have opened a front there against its archrival, Iran. And the war it launched in Yemen has been going on for four years with no end in sight. Moreover, Riyadh is directly responsible for one of the most serious internal Arab conflicts, born after it imposed sanctions on Qatar and dragged Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with it into a needless and dangerous situation.


 Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom in Turmoil


Israeli envoy: No West Bank annexation before unveiling of Trump's peace plan

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 06:37:56

Israel's U.N. ambassador said Wednesday he believes his government will take no action on annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank until after the Trump administration releases its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Danny Danon told a group of reporters he thinks the United States will present the plan between May and the summer.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged in the final stretch of his campaign that he would annex the settlements if he was re-elected. He was asked Wednesday to form a government following his election victory.


 Israeli envoy: No West Bank annexation before unveiling of Trump's peace plan


Up in smoke: Making sense out of Israel's medical marijuana mania

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 03:44:05

At last count, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was home to 19 medical marijuana companies with a combined market capitalization of 3.4 billion shekels ($950 million). Many of them have seen their share price soar by hundreds of percent.

The industry is abuzz with mergers and acquisitions, plans for initial public offerings on Wall Street, negotiations with global companies and hiring of big names as executives and advisers. And, of course, there's Israel's global reputation as a medical marijuana research and development power and the government's approval of exports as of this month.

Yet, the industry isn't just about smoke but about mirrors, too: Most of the 19 companies traded on the TASE have no sales, or even a license to grow or process medical marijuana. The ones that do sell are losing money, which should come as no surprise. The domestic market to which they had been confined until exports were approved is just 40,000 users who pay a fixed 370 shekels a month.


 Up in smoke: Making sense out of Israel's medical marijuana mania


The scariest thing about Election Day

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 01:18:04

Warnings have been heard in recent years to the effect that Israel's liberal democracy has gone into retreat. Prof. Zeev Sternhell, an international expert on European fascism, said in 2014 that Israeli democracy has become increasingly eroded The water is already very hot. It hasn't yet boiled, but it could do so tomorrow morning. It's on the brink of boiling over. (Signs of fascism in Israel reached new peak during Gaza op, says renowned scholar, Aug. 13, 2014).

The signs can be seen clearly: attacks on human rights organizations; limitations on freedom of expression in general, and on freedom of artistic and academic expression; legislation that harms Israeli Arab citizens; threats aimed at the Supreme Court and the attorney general; attacks on the rule of law; and religionization of the military and the school system.

Joining these signs on Election Day last week was the placement of cameras and recording devices at polling stations in over 1,000 Arab locales, with the goal of reducing the voter turnout of Arabs. This is a terrifying development. Especially because it reminds one of the methods white racists used and have continued to use in the American South since the end of the Civil War and also used by Republican Party activists to limit black participation in elections. Estimates are that these methods have reduced black voter turnout by tens of percent.


 The scariest thing about Election Day


By cutting off relations, South Africa has branded Israel with the mark of Cain

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 01:01:14

Because of the election battle, an important item fell by the wayside that should have resonated here: South Africa has decided to downgrade its relations with Israel to the level of liaison bureau, which will not deal with bilateral relations. Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane, who was recalled to protest the killing of demonstrators in Gaza, will not return. South Africa has essentially severed diplomatic relations with Israel. We're left with Chad.

One can, of course, take comfort in the arms of the Brazilian president, admire the president of the Philippines, hug the prime minister of Hungary, and take pleasure in U.S. President Donald Trump. But South Africa is not just any country; it's a symbol of justice, despite all its difficulties, corruption and crime. By cutting off relations it has stamped the mark of Cain on Israel's forehead.

The Foreign Ministry's response to the move only illustrates how low Israeli propaganda can go. It's a nod toward the country's Muslim population, because of the approaching elections, was the unbelievable Israeli explanation for the break. How miserable, how insulting to the intelligence, how ignorant and repulsive that is. It wasn't the killing of demonstrators in Gaza, or solidarity with the oppressed, or South Africa's own legacy, just a gesture to the Muslim voter. With pathetic responses like this, it would be better for the Foreign Ministry to continue to disintegrate. We have no need for it.


 By cutting off relations, South Africa has branded Israel with the mark of Cain


A safe space for everyone

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:41:09

At the start of the school year, Osher Band, a transgender girl, was physically and verbally attacked at her high school, ORT Henry-Ronson in Ashkelon. She was also threatened with a knife. According to her mother, the school said it couldn't protect her, so she could stay home.

Since then, for more than six months, Band hasn't gone to school. So far, no other educational framework has been found for her, yet her mother recently received a letter warning her of possible criminal proceedings if she didn't send her daughter to school.

Last week, Band returned to school and was promptly attacked by one of the girls in her grade. She was hospitalized with traumatic brain injury. The school added insult to injury by accusing Band of provocative behavior.


 A safe space for everyone


Haaretz Cartoon

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:38:04

 Haaretz Cartoon


Where does Netanyahu stand on immunity from indictment, and what are his options

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 23:11:01

No one who has been following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Facebook page this week could help wondering whether he's openly campaigning for a law that would give him immunity from prosecution. Since the start of the week, he has shared two articles favoring immunity one published in Israel Hayom by regular columnist Haim Shine and one published in Yedioth Ahronoth by former justice minister Daniel Friedmann.

What is Netanyahu's position with regard to immunity?

Knesset members from Netanyahu's Likud aren't sure whether he actually wants to pass legislation that would protect him from standing trial, or whether he plans to run the country while standing trial. They also aren't sure whether a new immunity law is actually needed, even if he does want to avoid a trial.


 Where does Netanyahu stand on immunity from indictment, and what are his options


Israel hails 'record' year in arms exports, despite $2 billion decrease

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 22:06:37

Israel's Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that 2018 was a "record" year for defense-related exports, but its own data shows a decline of almost $2 billion compared to the previous year.

In a statement released by the ministry's International Defense Cooperation Directorate, it said the scope of contracts signed in 2018 was slightly over $7.5 billion, in what export branch head Col. (res.) Mishel Ben-Baruch called "another record breaking year in Israeli security export."

>> A settler's quixotic battle against Israeli arms exports to murderous regimes


 Israel hails 'record' year in arms exports, despite $2 billion decrease


Meet the Korean-American woman leading Jewish Renewal movement

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 21:50:44

SooJi Min-Maranda rarely sees other Jewish people who look like her.

I often feel very isolated as a Jew of color living in the Midwest, she said.

Min-Maranda, who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband and two children, was born in Korea but moved with her family to the United States at the age of 3.


 Meet the Korean-American woman leading Jewish Renewal movement


After election defeat, Labor Party to consider early leadership vote

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 21:26:45

Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay announced on Wednesday that he would hold a convention within 45 days to discuss the party's collapse in last week's election, when it won only six our of 120 Knesset seats, its historically poorest showing at the ballot box.

The convention will decide whether to move up a leadership race to choose a new chairperson, or name a temporary head instead of Gabbay pending a primary election that the party's constitution says must be held 14 months after the election.

None of Labor's lawmakers are in a hurry to succeed Gabbay, because serving as temporary chairperson would mean they could not contend for the permanent position.


 After election defeat, Labor Party to consider early leadership vote


U.S. should suspend sanctions because of floods in Iran, says Rohani

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:58:49

President Hassan Rohani says the U.S. should suspend sanctions against Iran because of the recent massive floods that have claimed dozens of lives.

State TV quoted Rohani's as saying on Wednesday that "if U.S officials were wise, they should have announced they would suspend the sanctions for one year because of the floods in Iran."

Rohani is also quoted as saying the White House was "inhumane and filthy" for declining to allow cash support to the Iranian Red Crescent.


 U.S. should suspend sanctions because of floods in Iran, says Rohani


'Us and them is over': Netanyahu officially tasked with forming governing coalition

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:46:53

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin officially tasked on Wednesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming Israel's 35th government, following two days of consultations with representatives of all parties elected to Knesset.

"In a democracy, the majority rules, and the majority has spoken," Rivlin said in a ceremony held in his official residence in Jerusalem. "You have won, for the fifth time, the trust of this dear nation."

"This was a tough election campaign. Things were said that should not have been said, from all sides; not in a democratic state and not in the Jewish state," he said. "The iron wall should be between us and our enemies, not inside our own home, not between us."


 'Us and them is over': Netanyahu officially tasked with forming governing coalition


Opposition candidate declared Istanbul mayor as Erdogan appeals against results

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:33:18

Turkey's main opposition candidate was declared Istanbul's mayor on Wednesday after election recounts were finally completed, despite an appeal still pending by President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party to re-run the vote in the country's largest city.

The final result of the March 31 local elections showed a narrow victory for the secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Turkey's commercial hub, ending 25 years of control by the AK Party (AKP) and its Islamist predecessors. 

The loss is especially hard for Erdogan, who launched his political career in Istanbul as mayor in the 1990s and has triumphed in more than a dozen elections since his Islamist-rooted AKP came to power in 2002. 


 Opposition candidate declared Istanbul mayor as Erdogan appeals against results


To reduce your carbon footprint, take longer vacations

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:25:37

Isabel Lissner, 29, lives in Copenhagen, and Michal Wimmer-Luria, 44, lives in Hadera; Isabel is arriving from Copenhagen

Hello, Isabel. Can I ask what you'll be doing in Israel?

I'm here to work. It's my first time in Israel, and I'm here to train inspectors in a program called the Green Key a certification that hotels get if they're very environment-friendly and to promote another program, the Blue Flag. That's a label of quality that's given to beaches and marinas that are friendly to the environment. Michal is our representative in Israel, and I came to meet her.


 To reduce your carbon footprint, take longer vacations


Scientists revive some brain functions in dead pigs hours after death

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:59:10

Once upon a time, there were three little piggies (in fact, more than 100) who had no idea they would achieve worldwide fame because some of their brain function was resurrected hours after their death.

The pigs did not realize what happened when vascular circulation and certain cellular functions in their brains were revived. As lead author Zvonimir Vrselja of Yale's neuroscience department and the team reassure in their paper in Nature: They found no sign that the brains had regained consciousness in any way, shape or form. This is probably just as well.

The scientists weren't trying to bring the pigs back to life anyway. It was the opposite of the goal to have consciousness restored, spelled out co-author Nenad Sestan of Yale.


 Scientists revive some brain functions in dead pigs hours after death


'I'm sick of seeing people dying'

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:56:05

Jack Gracie, 29, lives in Edinburgh; arriving from Vienna

Hello, can I ask what your plans are in Israel?

My girlfriend lives in Mazkeret Batya.


 'I'm sick of seeing people dying'


Turkey considers new trade mechanisms with Iran to bypass U.S. sanctions

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:55:40

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday Turkey is looking into establishing new trade mechanisms with Iran, like the INSTEX system set up by European countries to avoid U.S. sanctions reimposed last year on exports of Iranian oil.

Those sanctions followed President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw unilaterally from a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers to pressure Iran to curtail its nuclear programme and stop backing militant proxies in the Middle East.

Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey's opposition to the sanctions and said Ankara and neighbouring Iran needed to keep working to raise their bilateral trade to a target of $30 billion, around triple current levels.


 Turkey considers new trade mechanisms with Iran to bypass U.S. sanctions


Lebanon to endure unprecedented austerity or face catastrophe, PM says

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:39:51

Lebanon faces catastrophe if the government does not agree what may be the most austere budget in its history, the prime minister said on Wednesday, urging national unity and saying everyone should be ready for sacrifices if necessary.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's government is finalizing a 2019 state budget expected to follow through on its promise of difficult and painful reforms to put the public finances on a sustainable path.

The budget is seen as a critical test of its will to enact reforms that economists say are more pressing than ever for an economy that has suffered years of low growth. State finances are strained by a bloated public sector, high debt servicing costs and hefty subsidies spent on the power sector.


 Lebanon to endure unprecedented austerity or face catastrophe, PM says


Notre Dame fire may be divine punishment, says prominent settler rabbi

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:39:03

The conflagration at Notre Dame de Paris that badly damaged the ancient cathedral on Monday was possibly divine punishment, an influential Israeli rabbi said on Wednesday, invoking a 13th-century burning of Jewish scriptures.

Addressing the fire at the 856-year-old church in Paris in a Q&A article published on religious-Zionist Israeli news website Srugim, French-born Shlomo Aviner, now the rabbi of West Bank settlement Beit El, also said it is a mitzvah - a deed done from religious duty - to set fire to churches in Israel, but warned that shouldn't be done anyway, because they would then have to be rebuilt.

>> Fire at Notre Dame: 21st century destroys symbol of 12th century | Analysis - Ben Shapiro lauds the 'Judeo-Christian' heritage of Notre Dame. Twitter objects


 Notre Dame fire may be divine punishment, says prominent settler rabbi


Trump doubles down on Omar 9/11 attack video

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:30:12

U.S. President Donald Trump isn't backing down from his tweets about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.

Trump was asked Tuesday that the video tweet has led to direct threats on life. Any second thoughts about that tweet and the way it was produced and put together?

No, not at all, Trump replied. 


 Trump doubles down on Omar 9/11 attack video


Choose your Passover menu: Mediterranean, Ashkenazi tradition, or festive kitniyot

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:21:15

With so many great Passover recipes available everywhere, the only question remaining is how to put them together into one cohesive menu. A seder menu is more than just a list of favorite holiday dishes. You'll need a menu that presents a concept but at the same time satisfies young cousins and old aunts, and your vegan brother-in-law too. And it needs to be tasty. And not too heavy. And did I mention it also has to be easy to prepare?

Here are some suggestions:

Festive kitniyot menu


 Choose your Passover menu: Mediterranean, Ashkenazi tradition, or festive kitniyot


A suggested Passover seder menu

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 19:19:48

I love the art of planning menus for large parties or even just for dinners with friends. I like the menus to be colorful: purple beets, green beans, red tomatoes, yellow squashes, orange, well, oranges... then I know the menu is varied enough and, as a bonus, has all the vitamins as well. I want some dishes to be spicy, some sour, some a little sweet, some crunchy and some soft. Protein and starch.

But when it comes to holiday menu planning, especially major ones like the Passover Seder that's approaching, it gets more complicated. To start with the obvious, it needs to be kosher for Passover. No flour, no bread. For some, no legume, rice or corn either.

I want to include a dish that my grandmother used to make (that's easy. matzo ball soup), and one of my mother's recipes (fried leek patties, yum!). It gets harder when you come from a mixed family, like mine. I want to add something from the Iraqi side of the family, and the Iraqi charoset of dates and walnuts in the shape of little balls is perfect for that.


 A suggested Passover seder menu






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