Inauguration Day for President-elect Joe Biden will look unlike anything the nation has seen before as the scars of COVID-19 and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol turn the West Front into a virtual ghost town compared to years past.
Instead of a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, there will be a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Instead of balls, there will be Zoom parties. Instead of hundreds of thousands congregating on the Capitol grounds and on the National Mall, there will be thousands of National Guard members.
Randy Rainbow, the Jewish comedian and singer whose viral videos have become a kind of soundtrack for the Trump years, released one final parody this week to send Trump on his way out of the Oval Office.
The song Seasons of Trump, spoofs Seasons of Love the hit song from Jonathan Larson's musical Rent.
Rainbow starts in a chorus of himself, Two million, a hundred two thousand, four hundred minutes, with just one president so unhinged and unfit. How do you measure four years of this s?
Over 800 coronavirus patients have died in Israel since the beginning of January, according to Health Ministry data released Wednesday. The number of deaths crossed the 4,000 level at the beginning of the week, and reached 4,212 on Wednesday morning.
The country's coronavirus czar, Prof. Nachman Ash, meanwhile said Wednesday that the rate at which the virus is spreading is slowly decreasing, in an interview with the Kan Bet public broadcaster on Wednesday. We are seeing a decrease in the past few days, I estimate that this trend will continue and we will be able to end the lockdown on the scheduled date of January 31, he said.
The national coronavirus information center agreed with Ash in a report released Tuesday that said there are signs of a halt in the rise in the rate of infection. Even though the current spread in infection is high, the infection rate continues to drop evidence of the spread stopping soon, wrote the authors of the report.
Fox News host Sean Hannity ripped into U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell after the Kentucky senator accused President Donald Trump of provoking the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Now soon-to-be minority leader Mitch McConnell and a handful of other long serving establishment Republicans are trying to reassert control of the GOP, and their playbook is sadly all too predictable, Hannity argued in a monologue representative of the tensions currently consuming the Republican Party.
Hannity continued, Instead of picking up the mantle and promoting the president's America First agenda, they are cowering in fear, wilting under the pressure from the media mob, liberal Democrats, and big tech companies.
On Saturday evening, a voice message was sent to a WhatsApp group chat of my former yeshiva classmates. I couldn't listen to it. The brief message, just 79 seconds, was from Shmuel Yudelevich, a good friend from my yeshiva days. He comes from a well-known Jerusalem family, and is known for his strong, fearless personality.
This recording was a different Yudelevich. He was crying bitterly as he eulogized his wife Tzipora Fayge, all of 40 years old, who died three weeks after falling all with the coronavirus. In the background, his five children could be heard wailing.
The Yudelevich family is a victim of the ruthless coronavirus crisis that is tearing mercilessly through the ultra-Orthodox community. Statistically speaking the infection rate among Haredim is breaking records.
While the positive test rate "continues to be very high" and infection rates "have peaked," the coronavirus contagion rate "continues to decline - evidence that its spread has nearly been contained," says a new report published on Tuesday by the Israeli government's coronavirus information center.
The infection coefficient (R the average number of new infections caused by each carrier) has dropped to 1.04, as compared to 1.3 at the end of December, according to the report. This is a positive development, despite recent alarming figures also mentioned in the report, according to which more than 10,000 coronavirus cases were confirmed on Monday alone and close to 2,000 patients are hospitalized.
The authors of the report noted that completing the vaccination campaign for the older population will mainly reduce infection and fatality rates in the shorter term, "but in the long run, even after people 60 and older are vaccinated there will still be a risk for a high degree of serious illness until many more people are inoculated.
Painter Iddo Markus of Haifa has painted over 100 portraits of outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump since 2016. In recent months, the pace has sped up considerably.
Like his other subjects, he paints Trump with robust brushstrokes, blurring most of his facial features and emphasizing his movements and gestures. The Trump portraits are unnamed, but the series is called The Apprentice, after the reality show that Trump hosted.
Markus, who was born in the United States, immigrated to Israel as a baby. As a U.S. citizen, the connection between what happens there and here reverberates in my mind in terror, he says.
U.S. President Donald Trump, in a farewell address released on Tuesday, touted his legacy and wished luck to the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden but without acknowledging his successor by name.
Trump has refused to offer a full concession to Democrat Biden, who won the Nov. 3 election with 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232. Biden will be inaugurated at 12:00 p.m. EST (1700 GMT) on Wednesday and Trump is not meeting with Biden beforehand or attending the swearing in as is customary in the handover of power to the White House. Trump instead plans to fly to Florida.
"This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous," the Republican president said in recorded remarks. "We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck - a very important word."
A Jerusalem judge agreed on Tuesday to allow the bidding process for a new neighborhood in a part of the city outside the pre-1967 borders to resume, days after freezing it over a petition by Palestinians saying they would be ineligible to buy homes in a large portion of it.
The state successfully argued that there was no direct link between the tender and eligibility for the government-subsidized housing program under which 40 percent of the neighborhood's new homes are to be sold.
The petition by Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem argued that plans for the neighborhood were discriminatory, as they would not be eligible for buying property in the planned homes that are to be part of the so-called buyer's price program, from which only citizens can benefit.
Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kish said Wednesday morning that if the coronavirus infection rate does not decrease, he does not know whether Israel will be able to hold an election in March as planned.
In an interview with 103 FM radio, Kish said that if the election was due to be held now, "The Health Ministry would recommend to the Central Elections Committee to delay it by a month, until the lockdown is over, until the infection rate lowers."
Kish said that the March 23 election may have to be delayed, and clarified that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from his own Likud party, "Never discussed this¦ there's a date for Election Day and Likud is preparing for it."
Israel's Health Ministry and council for gynecological health on Tuesday recommended the coronavirus vaccine for pregnant women and women needing or undergoing fertility treatment, particularly those at high risk exposure or suffering underlying conditions.
The recommendation follows a rise in cases of pregnant women hospitalized for the virus; some of their lives are at risk, as well as those of their unborn babies.
The Health Ministry particularly warned women with underlying illnesses or those who come into contact with the public that they should get the coronavirus vaccine. The statement by the ministry said, "pregnant women who contract the virus have a higher probablity of getting seriously ill, more than their cohorts in the general population. This requires extra caution in maintaining social distancing and wearing masks."
Donald Trump will walk out of the White House and board Marine One for the last time as president Wednesday morning, with a legacy of chaos and tumult and a nation bitterly divided in his wake. Where the Republican Party goes from here is an open question as Trump reportedly is floating starting his own party, that he would call the Patriot Party as senior GOP leadership turns on him.
Trump leaves four years after standing on stage at his own inauguration and painting a dire picture of American carnage, Trump departs the office twice impeached, with millions more out of work and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus. Republicans under his watch lost the presidency and both chambers of Congress. He will be forever remembered for the final major act of his presidency: inciting an insurrection at the Capitol that left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and horrified the nation.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday accused President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, of provoking the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
WASHINGTON Sen. Dick Durbin on Tuesday paid tribute to Reema Dodin, his longtime Palestinian-American aide who is joining the Biden administration as deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
This daughter of immigrants will make history as the highest ranking Palestinian-American woman ever to work in the executive branch, Durbin said in a tribute delivered from the Senate floor.
For years, my person on the Senate floor has been this woman. This amazing woman. I am grateful for her service to the Senate, her service to the people of Illinois and to our nation, the Democratic senator said. I know that she'll be a tremendous asset to President Biden, and to the nation. In these divided times it's rare to find a public servant like Reema, whose excellence and integrity is so widely admired on both sides of the aisle. No one understands better than Reema how this Senate works, Durbin added.
Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill Friday that saw suicide drones crash into targets and explode, triangle-shaped aircraft that strongly resembled those used in a 2019 attack in Saudi Arabia that temporarily cut the kingdom's oil production by half.
Iran has long denied launching the attack on the sites of Abqaiq and Khurais while Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels initially claimed the assault.
However, the United States, Saudi Arabia and U.N. experts believe the drones were Iranian, likely launched amid an escalating series of incidents stemming from President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrew from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani urged the incoming U.S. administration on Wednesday to return to a 2015 nuclear agreement and lift sanctions on Tehran, while welcoming the end of "tyrant" President Donald Trump's era. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Wednesday, has said the United States will rejoin the pact, which includes restrictions on Iran's nuclear work, if Tehran resumes strict compliance. "The ball is in the U.S. court now. If Washington returns to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact," Rohani said in a televised cabinet meeting. "Today, we expect the incoming U.S. administration to return to the rule of law and commit themselves, and if they can, in the next four years, to remove all the black spots of the previous four years," he said. Tensions have grown between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Trump quit the deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to limit Tehran's nuclear program and to prevent it developing atomic weapons. Washington reimposed sanctions that have badly hit Iran's economy. Iran, which denies ever seeking nuclear arms, retaliated to Trump's "maximum pressure" policy by gradually breaching the accord. Tehran has repeatedly said it can quickly reverse those violations if U.S. sanctions are removed. Antony Blinken, Biden's choice for secretary of state, said on Tuesday the United States would not make a quick decision on whether to rejoin the pact. "Tyrant Trump's political career and his ominous reign are over today and his 'maximum pressure' policy on Iran has completely failed," Rohani said. "Trump is dead but the nuclear deal is still alive." Biden appears to see a return to the deal as a prelude to wider talks on Iran's nuclear work, its ballistic missiles and regional activities. But Tehran has ruled out halting its missile program or changing its regional policy. Biden's choice to lead the Pentagon, retired Army General Lloyd Austin, said on Tuesday that Iran posed a threat to American allies in the region and forces stationed in the Middle East. "The United States and other Western countries have turned our region to a powder keg, not Iran," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state TV.
WASHINGTON Among the raft of last-minute pardons issued on Wednesday by outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump was one for an Israeli citizen: Col. (res.) Aviem Sella, an Israel Air Force pilot and officer who was convicted of introducing Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard to his Israeli recruiter, former Mossad agent Rafi Eitan, in the early 1980s.
A statement by the White House about the pardons issued late on Wednesday noted that Mr. Sella's request for clemency is supported by the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, the United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as well as by Miriam Adelson, the widow of Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who died last week and was one of Trump's most important donors.
Sella had been indicted by a federal grand jury in 1987, but was never extradited by Israel.
Is Trumpism a form of fascism? Since the attempted sacking of the Capitol, that debate has undergone a notable resurgence. As always, the answer depends upon how we choose to define fascism. Several historians of fascism have weighed in on the topic, and they have reached contrasting conclusions.
There has, though, been a notable recent shift towards the camp that consider Donald Trump a fascist in his own right. Some, such as Jason Stanley and Richard Steigmann-Gall, have argued for a long time that Trump is a fascist.
Richard J. Evans argues against the idea in an article entitled "Why Trump isn't fascist" in The New Statesman. Nevertheless, he admitted that Trump's actions "carry strong echoes of fascism." He notes, somewhat dismissively, that most of the historians that have called Trump a fascist "cannot be called real experts in the field."
Why isn't every foreign tourist who is permitted to enter Israel obligated to be tested for the coronavirus? asked a naÃ¯ve commenter on a Facebook Live chat conducted by the Health Ministry on August 8.
Five months later, this question would top the public agenda, and not only regarding tourists but regarding all those entering Israel. Everyone has already tired of watching with indifference as the country indiscriminately imports COVID-19.
On Monday, the Health Ministry volleyed the question to the Justice Ministry, claiming that it was the legal obstacles they piled on that have thus far prevented the identification of coronavirus patients at Ben-Gurion International Airport. But on August 8, ministry officials were singing an entirely different tune.
U.S. President Donald Trump granted clemency to former White House aide Steve Bannon as part of a wave of pardons and commutations issued in his final hours in office, a senior administration official said, but did not pardon himself, members of his family or lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Trump leaves office on Wednesday, when Joe Biden is sworn in as the nation's next president. White House officials had argued to Trump that he should not pardon himself or his family because it might look like they are guilty of crimes, according to a source familiar with the situation.
As part of more than 140 pardons and commutations, Trump also pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump who pleaded guilty last year to violating foreign lobbying laws, and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges, a senior administration official said. Rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black who were prosecuted on federal weapons offenses, were also granted pardons.
Gideon Sa'ar has hired one of the hottest teams in the business to work on his anti-Netanyahu New Hope party's campaign. He has brought along four of the founders of the Lincoln Project, the crew of moderate Republicans who produced a series of incendiary television ads that drove U.S. President Donald Trump crazy and played a role, though it's unclear how central, in ensuring Joe Biden's victory.
A senior member of New Hope assured me that they were hired not to do an Israeli version of the Lincoln Project, but because they are obviously very skilled campaigners who can give us useful advice. But at the same time, he wouldn't rule out that their hiring means New Hope is planning to go for Netanyahu's jugular.
There's an easy symmetry to the two situations. The never-Trumpers of the Lincoln Project claimed that Trump and his fellow travelers had hijacked the Republican Party and that no self-respecting conservative should be voting for him. The anti-Bibists of New Hope are saying much the same thing about Netanyahu transforming Likud, their party, into his own personal cult and safe haven for evading his corruption trial. But can the dark ads of the Lincoln Project, which accused Trump of rank corruption, incompetence and even treason, work in Israel?
Starting about 2.6 million years ago, no archaic human would leave the cave without one. Archaeologists called these flint implements chopping tools, even though their actual use remained hotly debated. They weren't the first stone tools ever used by hominins, but were the earliest known to be produced in a standardized fashion: the outer layer of the rock was left unmolested, and one end was knapped to have a sharp edge. The hominin would, presumably, grab the non-sharpened end and hit things with the edge.
Chopping tools were the implement that would be longest in use. They went everywhere archaic humans would go, for over 2 million years, throughout the Oldowan and Acheulean cultural complexes.
The question is why. What function did chopping tools serve early humans, and for so long during which time more sophisticated tools were developed, not least the hand ax? Some researchers have, and still do, believe these signature chopping tools were nothing more than the cores from which flint flakes were produced.
Were Joe Biden's envoys negotiating with the Iranians about returning the United States to the international nuclear agreement even before he got sworn in? Iran denies it, Washington won't confirm it, and Israel is scared.
Following Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, the Iranian nuclear issue becomes the main question preoccupying the world, particularly Israel and the Arab countries. Biden is bringing the Iranian elephant to the White House. He has declared his intention to bring the United States back into the nuclear agreement, from which President Donald Trump withdrew. The new president has made this the most important plank of his anticipated foreign policy and made it his most important test.
Statements on the election campaign trail tend to get revamped and reformulated when the candidate becomes president. The year 2021 doesn't look like 2015, when the nuclear agreement was signed, and Biden would face some difficult challenges on the way in rejoining the nuclear pact, among them whether he would agree to lift the sanctions that Trump imposed. In the process, Biden would lose his primary source of leverage on Iran.
WASHINGTON - Senator-elect Jon Ossoff will be officially sworn in Wednesday afternoon on a book of Hebrew scripture once owned by Rabbi Jacob Rothschild.
Rothschild led The Temple, Atlanta's largest congregation, from 1946 to 1973. During his tenure at the Reform congregation (where Ossoff also happened to have his Bar Mitzvah), Rothschild is largely credited for spurring Atlanta's Jewish community to support the burgeoning civil rights movement in the 1950s.
Rothschild was one of the primary authors of a 1957 statement called The Ministers' Manifesto an open letter from Atlanta clergy in support of school integration when Georgia mulled closing schools rather than allowing Black and white children to attend together. Rothschild didn't sign his name to it, however, due to concerns that people would dismiss something written by a Jew.
Today America and the rest of the world welcome a U.S. president who heralds a new era. After four years of a frenetic regime that was marked by the incitement, deception and falsehoods disseminated unabated by Donald Trump, the hope that Joe Biden can rehabilitate the scorched earth the outgoing president left behind looks realistic.
Trump, whose baseball-cap slogan was Make America Great Again, did everything to achieve just the opposite. Trump's America has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infection in the world, its relationship with the EU has deteriorated, it started a trade war with China and its power in the Middle East is fading.
This is what Trump has left on Biden's desk, and the latter will need all the help he can get to clear it.
The director-general of the B'Tselem human rights group, Hagai El-Ad, made much noise while taking the easy way out in wrapping Israel and the territories it occupied in 1967 under one mantle, considering them as being one big entity, lying between the Mediterranean and Jordan River, all subject to an apartheid regime (Haaretz, January 12). In one stroke he annexed the territories and granted the Palestinians a status of second-class citizens of the State of Israel, with its borders stretching from sea to river.
Sterling examples of democracy, which Israel is not, have conquered countries and territories before. Great Britain conquered Egypt and Sudan, France conquered Algeria, even turning it into a French department, and the United States conquered Iraq and Afghanistan.
In terms of international law, an occupation is a unique situation and the Geneva Conventions, which were formulated in order to regulate life under occupation, try to limit the inherent infringements that occupation causes. A violation of these conventions and laws is considered a violation of international law, even a war crime and that is without the definition of apartheid being ascribed to the occupation.
Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Itzik Shmuli of the Labor Party, who had been considered a possible candidate to head the party as the country heads toward Knesset elections on March 23, announced on Tuesday that he would not run for the party's leadership.
Shmuli's announcement in a Facebook post leaves Labor Party Knesset member Meirav Michaeli as the only high-profile candidate candidate for leadership of the party. The current leader of the party, Amir Peretz, had previously announced that he would step down from the post and that he would not run for the Knesset in the upcoming elections.
"After much deliberating, I have decided that it would not be right to do so," Shmuli said referring to a leadership bid. "It's a decision that I make with a heavy heart," he wrote, but added that he is at peace with it "despite the possibility of fulfilling a dream that's really within reach."
How do you say urban renewal in Arabic? You don't. That's the glum main conclusion of a study by Sikkuy, The Association for the Advancement of Equal Opportunity; the Israel Affordable Housing Center, part of the Tel Aviv University law school; and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning. Their report, which has been sent to the relevant government ministries, cites failures and obstacles to planning and development in the oldest Arab neighborhoods that highlight the poor state of infrastructure and public institutions in Israel's Arab communities.
Tama 38 and teardowns aren't happening in Arab locales, even towns in the center that are close to Jewish communities and where urban renewal would be financially worthwhile, and also not in communities in the north or south, states Noga Shani, one of the researchers, who worked with the National Planning Authority and the Arab local governments.
Some 80 percent of construction in Arab areas is old, most of the infrastructure is improvised, the sewers don't function, there's a serious shortage of public and educational facilities, the roads are old, parking is unregulated and the electricity and sewage hookups are old, says Shani. All this characterizes the old neighborhoods, and that's before you take into account the illegal, improvised construction built as an attempt to deal with the housing crisis. Ramat Gan has halted urban renewal because the city's infrastructure is collapsing; in Arab communities that's the starting point, and it stems from years of discrimination in the allocation of funding and resources for building, improving and maintaining infrastructure and expanding the housing supply.
Students in Arabic-language high schools who submit a final paper as part of their matriculation exams may write the report in Arabic, but the Education Ministry requires a research proposal that is written in Hebrew.
A final paper is equivalent to a 5-point matriculation exam and can be written in a variety of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, exact sciences and life sciences.
The paper is written under the guidance of an academic advisor at the school instead of a matriculation (bagrut) exam in a subject given at the school or in a subject in which the student has done independent study.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told Bloomberg TV that Qatar has urged Gulf Arab nations to enter a dialogue with Iran and that it was the right time for Doha to broker negotiations.
"This is also a desire that's shared by other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries," he said in an interview.
Separately, the Qatari government was supporting discussions between Iran and South Korea to secure the release of an oil tanker seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards early this month, the foreign minister said.
The cabinet unanimously approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to extend the lockdown on Tuesday evening, setting a new endpoint at midnight on January 31.
The cabinet also approved a proposal compelling anyone entering Israel to be tested for coronavirus 72 hours before takeoff, as well as approving an extension until February 10 of the permission given the Shin Bet security service to track people infected with the virus.
The stricter lockdown was approved on January 8 and was supposed to end in two days. The coordinator of the campaign against the virus, Prof. Nachman Ash, said at the cabinet meeting that the current target is to vaccinate 250,000 people a day.
WASHINGTON U.S. Secretary of State-nominee Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that it's "vitally important" that the United States consult with Israel and Gulf states regarding any potential re-entry into the Iran nuclear deal, which Presidet Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
Blinken also said that he considers Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and that he commits to keeping the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
Addressing his confirmation hearing at the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Blinken stressed U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's commitment to making sure Iran doesn't acquire a nuclear weapon, adding that the U.S. and its allies would seek a "longer and stronger" agreement.
Ezra Gorodesky said three years ago that he suffered from a rare disease. He wasn't talking about a physical ailment, but was referring to his obsession with collecting. Apparently we're talking about an incurable disease, he said.
His collection is indeed unusual. It includes hundreds of sections of Jewish manuscripts that he unearthed from the bindings of other books. He donated the collection that resulted to Israel's National Library.
>> Follow Haaretz's live updates of Israel's coronavirus crisis
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party is seen gaining strength in an election poll published on Tuesday, overcoming the center and left-wing parties regardless of a merger.
With just over two months before Israelis return to the polls on March 23, for the fourth time in two years, Likud would get 30 out of 120 Knesset seats one up from the 29 it was predicted in the previous Channel 12 News poll, released a week ago while the crowded field of centrist and left-wing parties would reach 29 seats in total if they ran individually, and only 27 in the event of the slated merger.
However, Netanyahu would still struggle to secure a majority coalition. Likud's 30 seats together with eight each for ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism and 13 for Naftali Bennett's right-wing Yamina party only make up 59 seats.
WASHINGTON U.S. Secretary of State-nominee Antony Blinken opened his confirmation hearing on Tuesday by discussing how his family's experiences in the Holocaust inform his worldview.
Blinken released his opening statement to the public in advance of his appearance before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is overseeing the hearing on Tuesday afternoon. In the statement, Blinken says he views public service as payment on the debt our family owes to the nation that gave us refuge and extraordinary opportunities across the generations.
My grandfather, Maurice Blinken, found refuge in America after fleeing the Russian pogroms, Blinken wrote.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit advised Benny Gantz in a legal opinion issued this week that the acting justice minister could not convene the judicial appointments committee as planned on January 31, because the current government is a caretaker government without full authority.
The government has been a caretaker government since the Knesset was dissolved on December 22, when new elections were scheduled for March 23.
Prior to Mendelblit's legal opinion, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut had suggested to Gantz that the committee could convene, due to exceptional circumstances, to appoint judges to the country's economic affairs courts. The decision to convene the Judicial Appointments Committee is within the authority of the justice minister, who chairs the panel.
WASHINGTON U.S. Homeland Security Secretary-nominee Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday told his confirmation hearings that the department would prioritize combating domestic extremism under his watch, and that his family's experiences with antisemitism largely informed his longstanding work aimed at protecting the American-Jewish community.
"I am profoundly aware of the threat and existence of antisemitism in our country and world. My mother lost her paternal grandparents and seven uncles by reason of their Jewish faith in the Holocaust. My mother fled home with her parents because of the Holocaust," Mayorkas told the committee, referring to his Romanian-Jewish mother who fled to Cuba. "I have dedicated a considerable amount of my personal and professional energy to battling antisemitism and discrimination of all forms. Most recently I served on the advisory board of the Secure Community Network, sponsored by the Jewish Federation, to protect day schools, synagogues and places of worship."
>> Read more: Enough for a Minyan: A Jewish who's who of Biden's cabinet-to-be
A Virginia man with an apparent leadership role in the far-right militia group known as the "Oath Keepers" was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly "planning and coordinating" the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, the Justice Department said.
Thomas Edward Caldwell, 65, of Clarke County, Virginia is one of several members of the Oath Keepers named in a criminal complaint as having participated in the Capitol riots by President Donald Trump's supporters.
He faces charges of conspiring to commit an offense, obstructing an official government proceeding, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.
Alice Schlesinger, a judoka who won four medals for Israel before switching to represent Great Britain, announced her retirement from the sport at age 32 on Tuesday.
Schlesinger, who competed in the under 63 kg. (139 lb.) weight class and won a bronze medal in the 2009 World Championship, began competing for Great Britain in 2014, after a dispute with the Israel Judo Association. She retired with one World Championship medal and four European championship medals, three from the period when she represented Israel.
Schlesinger was considered one of Israel's most outstanding judokas at the end of the first decade of the millennium and the beginning of the past decade, but at the London Olympic Games in 2012 she lost in the quarter finals and was later eliminated in the consolation round.
Part of the battle against any unjust situation is fighting attempts to conceal the injustice. In the letter in which the education minister, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Gallant, tried this week to give orders to the education system, he claimed to be against lies and in favor of a Jewish and democratic Israel.
Yet Gallant is clearly the one who is lying, because Israel is neither Jewish nor democratic. The reality here is binational, with demographic parity but Jewish supremacy apartheid.
One can and should ridicule Gallant's failed effort. It's aggressive, it was done for political purposes and he's definitely not the first education minister to engage in misdirection. That said, perhaps it's still worth pausing for a moment to consider whether his actions point to something deeper, relating to feelings that are common to many of us.
The Israeli army arrested 41 Palestinians last week in 17 raids carried out across the West Bank in one night. Of those detained, 24 were from Mughayir and Kafr Malik, two adjacent villages northeast of Ramallah whose residents demonstrate every week against their lands being taken over by Israeli outposts.
Israel Defense Forces soldiers posted warnings to the families of some of the arrested men on the walls of their homes. A Shin Bet security services coordinator, who introduced himself as Captain Sameh, personally warned the men themselves not to demonstrate, some of them told Haaretz when they were released several hours after being detained.
Among those detained and then released were the brother and father of Ali Abu Alia, the 15-year-old who was shot dead last month while watching a demonstration in Mughayir from a distance. Last Friday, 40 days after his death, the bereaved father told Haaretz: The Shin Bet captain' supposedly consoled me, but in fact he was issuing a threat: He asked if I was the shahid's father. I want you to go back home, but I want to give you some advice. I don't want what happened to Ali to happen to your sons Bassam and Qassam.' That's what he said. You killed my son, I'm 43 years old and the sadness overwhelms me, and you're threatening me?
Last Thursday, the Bank of Israel announced that it would be buying $30 billion in a bid to counterbalance the shekel's dramatic appreciation against the U.S. currency over the past several months. We don't want the exchange rate to push international companies to transfer their operations to other places. Therefore we decided on this unusual step for unusual times, stated Deputy Bank Governor Andrew Abir on Thursday.
The Bank of Israel made its decision after weeks of bids from high-tech players and other exporters pushing it to intervene in the foreign exchange market. The dollar did indeed gain 4 percent against the shekel on Thursday in the wake of the decision and was trading at 3.24 shekels to the dollar as of Tuesday morning. It's still 6% under the 2020 average and 10% off its 2019 average.
High-tech companies are so sensitive to the dollar exchange rate because most of their cash flow is in dollars, namely investments from foreign investors and sales abroad. Most of that money is ultimately converted into shekels in order to pay salaries and other expenses.
A court in Spain has acquitted eight activists of hate crime charges for their role in demanding that the Jewish American singer Matisyahu declare his support for Palestinian statehood as a condition for his performance at a music festival.
The Valencia Appeals Court on January 11 acquitted the members of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement of the charges brought in 2017 by a pro-Israel organization over their role in the 2015 action against the singer, whose real name is Matthew Paul Miller, El Salto reported Monday.
The court accepted the defendants' claim that their action on Matisyahu was protected by freedom of expression and that their intention was not to discriminate against Matisyahu because he is Jewish but to protest Israel's policies.
The Trump administration has determined that China has committed "genocide and crimes against humanity" in its repression of Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday, delivering an embarrassing blow to Beijing a day before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is to take office.
U.S. officials briefing reporters on the move said in a call that "an exhaustive documentation of (China's) own policies, practices and abuse in Xinjiang" viewed by Pompeo led him to make the determination that such acts had been committed since at least March 2017.
Read more: A million people are jailed at China's gulags. I managed to escape. Here's what really goes on inside
As President-elect Joe Biden announced his picks for the Cabinet, the joke went around on Jewish Twitter that the West Wing would have a minyan.
Indeed, at least 10 prominent Jews have been nominated to key positions. There's Ronald Klain (chief of staff); Anthony Blinken (Secretary of State); Janet Yellen (Treasury); Merrick Garland (Attorney General); Alejandro Mayorkas (Homeland Security);and Avril Haines (Director of National Intelligence). One level down are Wendy Sherman (deputy Secretary of State); Eric Lander (science and technology adviser); Ann Neuberger (deputy National Security Adviser); and David Cohen (deputy CIA director).
Plus there's Doug Emhoff, the Jewish husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Iran blacklisted U.S. President Donald Trump and several current and former senior U.S. officials on Tuesday over what it called "terrorist and anti-human rights" acts, a move widely regarded as symbolic.
Tehran's move, announced on the last full day of the Trump administration, allows the seizure of any assets in Iran of sanctioned individuals. There have been no reports of any such assets, so the move is unlikely to have financial impact on the outgoing U.S. president or officials.
The Trump administration rained sanctions down on Iranian officials, politicians and companies after withdrawing the United States in 2018 from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Mike Pompeo isn't quietly fading away. In his final days as secretary of state, he's issuing orders that have caused international consternation and tweeting up a storm on his official and personal accounts to cement his legacy as a prime promoter of President Donald Trump's America First doctrine.
On Tuesday Pompeo sparked a bevy of criticism for tweeting from his official government Twitter account that multiculturalism is un-American. Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms they're not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker, Pompeo tweeted about a graphic that equated wokeness and political correctness with authoritarianism.
Critics were quick to point out that perhaps Pompeo doesn't know the definition of multiculturalism. NBC's senior political analyst Jonathan Allen responded: Definition of multiculturalism: the presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.'
President-elect Joe Biden will reportedly attend Church services with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer at St. Matthews in Washington, DC ahead of the inauguration on Wednesday.
The newly launched Punchbowl News reported that Biden invited both McConnell and Schumer to pray with him before taking the oath of office. Biden and McConnell have been in contact since Biden's victory over Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election and are said to have a good relationship from their decades serving together in the U.S. Senate.
While Biden is making overtures toward bipartisanship, in his first hours as president, Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor..
Talks aimed at overcoming a years-long deadlock over disarmament at the United Nations began in acrimony on Monday with two countries blocking rivals from taking part in widely criticized manoeuvers that sparked concern about the forum's future.
Iran blocked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from joining as observers, lashing out at the former's military record, while Turkey blocked Cyprus in a trend that marks a significant departure from normal UN protocol and might set a precedent for other bodies that operate on a consensus basis.
Iran's delegate said that Saudi Arabia had used the forum as a platform for a "distraction and disinformation campaign" and called Riyadh "the largest military offender in the region".
Protesters rallied in Tunisia's capital on Tuesday after several nights of demonstrations and clashes with law enforcement, reviving the chant that rang a decade ago in a revolution that brought in democracy: "The people want the fall of the regime".
Daytime protests in Tunis and some other cities demanding jobs, dignity and the release of detainees have followed clashes over recent nights between security forces and youths, as COVID-19 restrictions add to wider economic malaise.
"The whole system must go... We will return to the streets and we will regain our rights and our dignity that a corrupt elite seized after the revolution," said Maher Abid, an unemployed protester.
As COVID-19 infection rates have skyrocketed in ultra-Orthodox towns and cities, enforcement of pandemic regulations there has been much lower than in other Israeli municipalities, new analysis shows. By contrast, fines were levied at a far higher rate in Arab towns in relation to their number of coronavirus cases.
The analysis was conducted by the organization Israel Hofsheet (Be Free Israel), which advocates for religious and cultural pluralism, based on statistics provided by the Justice Ministry's Law Enforcement and Collection System Authority. The information has been collected since the beginning of the pandemic last March.
The nonprofit's data show that the number of fines levied for violating coronavirus regulations has been enforced at a greater rate in municipalities where infection rates are lower than in the highly infected Haredi communities.
Insects are legion, but fossil ones are rare and usually in terrible condition. Now a bug that lived 50 million years ago has been found in Colorado, in such an extraordinary state of preservation that we can still see the stripes on his little legs. And his genitalia.
His? Definitely so. The Eocene-era assassin bug and his male pride are reported by Daniel Swanson and Sam Heads of the University of Illinois, and colleagues, in the Papers of Paleontology.
Looking at the photograph, one's eyes are drawn to the dark figure-8 seemingly attached to the insect's middle leg but that's not the lad's gonads, it's a beetle. The genitals of the insect, sprawled forever more with his six legs akimbo, are at the end of the last body segment. What we see is the sac called the pygophore (aka pygofer), which derives from the Greek word pyg for rump and phore for bearer.
The FBI reportedly warned law enforcement agencies in the U.S. Monday that far-right extremists and QAnon conspiracy theorists have been monitored discussing posing as National Guard troops in Washington, D.C. in order to target President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.
The report in the Washington Post, based on a summary of threats that the FBI identified in a Monday intelligence briefing, noted that these extremists have reviewed maps of vulnerable spots in the city to exploit during the inauguration.
The briefing also warned of lone wolves and singled out QAnon extremists, who also took part in the deadly siege on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Genia Averbuch immigrated to Palestine from Ukraine as a child in 1911 and grew up to design nothing less than Tel Aviv's famous Dizengoff Square. She also planned numerous apartment houses in the city, the offices of women's organizations and three synagogues, including Midrashiyat Noam in Pardes Hannah. Averbuch has been mentioned in many publications and is also the only female architect appearing in Nitza Metzger-Szmuk's 1993 book Houses from the Sand: International Style Architecture in Tel Aviv a milestone in the designation of Tel Aviv as the White City.
Lotte Cohn was the first female architect in the country: For five decades, starting in 1921, she designed numerous projects that became icons in the history of the Yishuv (pre-state Jewish community), among them the agricultural school in Nahalal, a public kitchen that was the first to operate on electricity, the Kaete Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv and that city's Rasco neighborhood. Cohn's work has been cited by German scholar Ines Sonder and others.
Today, women are an inseparable part of the world of architecture and hold top positions in architecture firms in Israel, but few people are aware of the important role they played during the British Mandate period. Architect and architectural historian Sigal Davidi has spent two decades researching that topic, and the culmination is a recently published book called Building a New Land: Women Architects and Women's Organizations in Mandatory Palestine (published in Hebrew by the Open University Press; edited by Dr. Nomi Heger).
Parler, a social media website and app popular with the American far right, has partially returned online with the help of a Russian-owned technology company.
Parler vanished from the internet when dropped by Amazon Inc's hosting arm and other partners for poor moderation after its users called for violence and posted videos glorifying the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
On Monday, Parler's website was reachable again, though only with a message from its chief executive saying he was working to restore functionality.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to pass a cabinet resolution Tuesday that would have legalized six communities in the West Bank, but the issue was taken off the agenda following opposition by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Under the plan, three outposts would have been legalized and three new settlements that don't yet exist would have been established.
No politically irresponsible proposal will be on the agenda during the cabinet meeting, especially in such a sensitive time, Gantz said, referring to Israel's problems in handling the coronavirus crisis.
Israeli healthcare providers announced Tuesday that they are extending their coronavirus vaccination campaign and will now being to vaccine people over the age of 40.
Health Minister Director General Chezy Levy ordered all HMOs to start vaccinating people over 40 after Israel received another shipment of vaccines and the Health Ministry is gearing up to vaccinate over 100,000 people a day.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Israel now aims to inoculate 250,000 people a day.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to agree with regional leaders on extending a lockdown for most shops and schools until mid-February as part of a package of steps to rein in the coronavirus, sources said before talks on Tuesday.
New infections have been decreasing in recent days and pressure on intensive care units has eased slightly, but virologists are worried about the possible spread of more infectious variants of the virus.
"It is likely that we will agree on a two-week extension," said one person involved in the talks, confirming a report in Bild daily. The existing lockdown runs until Jan. 31.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden plans to quickly extend travel restrictions barring travel by most people who have recently been in much of Europe and Brazil soon after President Donald Trump lifted those requirements effective Jan. 26, a spokeswoman for Biden said.
Trump signed an order Monday lifting the restrictions he imposed early last year in response to the pandemic - a decision first reported Monday by Reuters - after winning support from coronavirus task force members and public health officials.
Soon after Trump's order was made public, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki tweeted "on the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26."
The race against the virus that causes COVID-19 has taken a new turn: Mutations are rapidly popping up, and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge.
The coronavirus is becoming more genetically diverse, and health officials say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate as it makes copies of itself, threatening to undo the progress made so far to control the pandemic.
On Friday, the World Health Organization urged more effort to detect new variants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a new version first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the U.S. by March. Although it doesn't cause more severe illness, it will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths just because it spreads much more easily, said the CDC, warning of a new phase of exponential growth.
I'm an Israeli lawyer, Jewish, married to a Palestinian resident of Ramallah. After years of wandering throughout the world, we returned to the West Bank with our two children, 6-year-old Forat and 3-year-old Adam. We are trying to lead ordinary lives in an extraordinary and unforgiving reality, one that I will share with you here. (Click to read all previous posts.) I have changed the names of people in the blog, including my own. Umm Forat means Mother of Forat in Arabic. I invite you to visit my website: www.ummforat.com
I knew you would clean again after I finished, Osama said, looking offended as he peered into the refrigerator.
I made a New Year's resolution, I replied as I wiped away crumbs from the corner of the shelf. I will continue to vacate apartments in excellent condition, and I will forgive the people who leave us dirty apartments to move into.
Early on in his presidency, many of us Americans feared that Donald Trump would turn out to be Hitler. Our fears were misplaced. We should have been terrified that he would turn out to be Donald Trump.
Back then, I remember hoping that he might, as some of his more reluctant voters indicated, grow into his majestic office, take on its knowledge with its power. Perhaps, as one supporter put it, When you get to know him, you'll see the man he really is. Well, we got to know him. We've seen the man he really is. Donald Trump is the worst man in America. Thank God he's gone.
The man who campaigned on the principle that I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, just ended his term in office with a killing spree. The man who began his term proudly tearing away children from their asylum-seeker parents and stuffing them into chain-link cages spent some of the final days of his presidency executing more prisoners than the last 10 presidents combined. Such was his zeal that federal officials carried out one of the executions while an appeal was still pending. A court then dismissed the appeal as moot, on the grounds that the man was already dead.
Two and a half weeks before the party tickets close for the March 23 general election, political observers say a big consolidation is in the cards, but somehow the opposite is happening right now.
Politicians are writing off possible alliances, and parties are splintering, the latest being right-wing Yamina, with its leaders Naftali Bennett and Bezalel Smotrich hurling invective at each other. The following are some of the possibilities, from left to right.
Meretz-Labor, or Meretz and Ron Huldai's new party. Many in Meretz believe the link-up with the parties just to its right in the last campaign, Labor and Gesher, actually reduced Meretz's strength in the current Knesset. This time it isn't going to merge with anyone. Party leader Nitzan Horowitz aims to invest in the Arab community, so he as put two Arab Israelis in the slate's top five and is expected to campaign in Arab towns at a considerable expense.
After months out of the global spotlight, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has swept back to centre stage with eye-catching diplomatic and economic moves aimed at showing the new U.S. president he is a valuable partner who can get things done.
Within the span of a few weeks, the kingdom announced an Arab deal to reconcile with Qatar, voluntary cuts to Saudi crude output to help stabilise markets and new momentum on an economic diversification plan that stumbled due to political controversy, low oil prices and COVID-19.
Whether behind the scenes or front and centre chairing a Gulf summit for the first time, the brazen young prince, known as MbS, is moving to present an image as a reliable statesman and set a pragmatic tone with a less accommodating Biden administration, especially on foe Iran, three foreign diplomats said.
The World Health Organization has raised concerns about the unequal distribution of coronavirus vaccines in Israel, which has given shots to more than 20% of its population, and the occupied territories, where Palestinians have yet to receive any, an official said Monday.
Rights groups say Israel has the responsibility as an occupying power to provide vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel says it has no such obligation and that its own population including Arab citizens is the priority, but that at some point it might consider sharing its supplies.
The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of racism for not sharing its vaccines, but it has made no formal request to Israel and says it is procuring its own supplies through a WHO program and agreements with private companies.
The insurrectionists inside the U.S. Capitol came so close to achieving their goal of lynching Vice President Mike Pence and killing Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. And some of the most visible elements in that mob sported clothing and signs branded with the letter Q.
Q, which stands for QAnon, is an irrational cult of believers living in a fever-dream conspiracy in which they're fighting against Satan-worshipping pedophiles working undercover in the government's "deep state" bureaucracy. QAnon takes many of its cues from historic anti-Semitism like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or blood libels including accusing the secret cabal drinking the blood of babies to stay young or as a cure for COVID-19.
The crowd included neo-Nazis and antisemites of various stripes, including the far right Proud Boys, the Nationalist Social Club, white nationalist Nick Fuentes' "groypers," and one man, Robert Keith Packer, wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt. A particularly disturbing image was when Kevin Seefried marched into the Capitol rotunda brandishing a Confederate flag: During four years of civil war, Confederate traitors never got that close to occupying the seat of U.S. government.
Iran's military kicked off a ground forces drill on Tuesday along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported, the latest in a series of snap exercises that the country is holding amid escalating tensions over its nuclear program and Washington's pressure campaign against Tehran.
According to the report, commando units and airborne infantry were participating in the annual exercise, along with fighter jets, helicopters and military transport aircraft. Iran's National Army chief Abdolrahim Mousavi was overseeing the drill.
Iran has recently stepped up military drills as part of an effort to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of. Biden has said the U.S. could rejoin the multinational accord meant to contain Iran's nuclear program.
A lot of the characters are the same for President-elect Joe Biden but the scene is far starker as he reassembles a team of veteran negotiators to get back into the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
U.S. President Donald Trump worked to blow up the multinational deal to contain Iran's nuclear program during his four years in office, gutting the diplomatic achievement of predecessor Barack Obama in favor of what Trump called a maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
Down to Trump's last days in office, accusations, threats and still more sanctions by Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Iran's decision to spur uranium enrichment and seize a South Korean tanker, are helping to keep alive worries that regional conflict will erupt. Iran on Friday staged drills, hurling volleys of ballistic missiles and smashing drones into targets, further raising pressure on the incoming American president over a nuclear accord.
Masks off the minute you step inside. Bars packed and pulsing like it's 2019. Social media stars waving bottles of champagne. DJs spinning party tunes through multi-hour brunches.
Since becoming one of the world's first destinations to open up for tourism, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, has promoted itself as the ideal pandemic vacation spot. It cannot afford otherwise, analysts say, as the virus shakes the foundations of the city-state's economy.
With its cavernous malls, frenetic construction and legions of foreign workers, Dubai was built on the promise of globalization, drawing largely from the aviation, hospitality and retail sectors all hard hit by the virus.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told Bloomberg that Qatar has urged Gulf Arab nations to enter a dialogue with Iran and that it was the right time for Doha to broker negotiations.
"This is also a desire that's shared by other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries," he told Bloomberg TV in an interview.
The Qatari foreign minister added that his government was supporting ongoing discussions between Iran and South Korea to secure the release of an oil tanker seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard early this month.
Over 12,400 Israeli residents have tested positive for COVID-19 after being vaccinated, among them 69 people who had already gotten the second dose, which began to be administered early last week, the Health Ministry reported.
This amounts to 6.6 percent of the 189,000 vaccinated people who took coronavirus tests after being vaccinated.
According to the ministry's data, 5,348 people were found infected up to a week after getting the vaccine, of the 100,000 people who were vaccinated and then tested a week later an infection rate of 5.4 percent of those vaccinated during that time.
The cabinet convening Tuesday to consider extending the third lockdown in Israel is very different from the one that approved the second lockdown in September: Resignations have reduced the number of ministers from 36 to 27.
Dominant figures such as Avi Nissenkorn, Zeev Elkin, Yoaz Hendel, Izhar Shay, Meirav Cohen and Asaf Zamir will be absent. Many of the remaining cabinet members are busy pondering their postelection political futures. Others, like Gabi Ashkenazi and Amir Peretz, have already said they will leave politics.
If that weren't enough, the election campaign is clearly under way, clouding the cabinet's judgment.
The rate at which Israelis have been dying of the coronavirus reached a record high in January. Between January 1 and January 18 at least 607 Israelis died after becoming ill from the virus. Unless there is a major change in direction, the death toll for January alone is expected to exceed 1,000, surpassing October of last year, which up to now recorded the deadliest monthly toll with 960 deaths.
It's been less than 10 months since Israel recorded its first COVID-19 death, on March 20, but the death toll has now surpassed 4,000. Over the past several weeks, there have been between 40 and 50 coronavirus deaths per day. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the average monthly death toll has exceeded 400, representing the equivalent of 11 percent of all of the monthly deaths prior to the pandemic.
The data coming out of the country's hospitals shows little sign of a slowdown in the rate at which people are dying from the virus. Fully 1,130 of the 1,930 coronavirus patients in the hospital are currently in serious condition and 317 of them are in critical condition.
Humans have adorned themselves since time immemorial, helping themselves to the feathers, bones, pelts and teeth of the animals they hunted and/or admired and/or both. Now archaeologists report on a mad sartorial fad for elk teeth on a tiny island in northwest Russia over 8,000 years ago. For all the island's tiny size a lot of people were buried there with grave goods half of which were elk teeth.
Presumably it was less the giant deer's dentition and more the animal itself that won adulation, but the spirit is fleeting and the teeth aren't.
Specifically, more than 4,300 elk incisors, apparently worn as pendants or attached to clothing (of which nothing remains any more), had been found in 84 burials at the Late Mesolithic cemetery of Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov, in northwestern Russia not too far from Finland. The island manufacturers of the elk-tooth pendants don't seem to have indulged in artistic license, based on analysis of the teeth, which were unearthed over time and are stored mostly in the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. Petersburg.
Israel has committed to provide Pfizer with a large amount of data on its coronavirus vaccination campaign but not information that would identify individual recipients of Pfizer's vaccine, according to the contract the government signed with the pharmaceutical company and the Health Ministry made public on Sunday.
In disclosing the agreement, the ministry obscured portions of the contract relating to commercial information such as the amounts to be paid to Pfizer. The move to make the contract public is intended to increase transparency and remove any concern that Pfizer would obtain personal medical information about Israelis who have been vaccinated.
Israel has vaccinated a greater proportion of its population than any other country and most of the vaccine used has come from Pfizer.
The major coverage that the media has been devoting to the new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus that have started to appear in Israel is distracting attention from the main scandal unfolding in front of our eyes. This is the continued neglect over the growing incidence of the virus in major portions of Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, which is being met with total inaction by the government.
For months since the second lockdown in September the leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis have ignored government directives requiring schools and educational institutions to be closed, directives that have been almost fully enforced in every other community in the country. At the beginning of this month, with the start of the third lockdown, it was reported that leading Haredi Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky somewhat vaguely gave his consent to temporarily closing yeshivas and Talmud Torah religious schools for boys. But that too is apparently over, as many ultra-Orthodox children have now returned to class while school for the other students around the country continues to be conducted online.
Even we can muster some understanding for the ultra-Orthodox devotion to educating their sons (although seemingly less so their daughters), the picture is worse when we take other aspects of Haredi life into account. These include crowded synagogues (when indoor gatherings are supposed to be limited to five people) and mass weddings and other celebrations in some Hasidic communities without even a smidgen of social distancing.
Loud explosions were heard south of Iraq's capital of Baghdad Tuesday overnight, according to Lebanese Al-Meyadeen TV. The Hezbollah linked Al-Meyadeen also reported that American warplanes were heard flying over Syria's border with Iraq prior to the explosions.
FOX News later cited a senior U.S. official saying "there are no U.S. airstrikes near Baghdad tonight, despite various tweets from the region."
The explosions were heard in Jurf al-Nasr, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Baghdad, an area taken by the Islamic State in 2014 and liberated that year by the Iraqi army and Shi'ite militias.
Israelis are focusing these days on two figures; the daily count of new coronavirus cases and the number of vaccinations. After those come the unemployment figures and the blows the labor market has taken since the coronavirus crisis broke out, threatening to set Israel back years.
Assuming most Israelis will get vaccinated over the next two months and the economy will gradually return to normal, one of the main questions concerns the post-pandemic job market. No one expects to return to the good old days of 3.5% unemployment. The Bank of Israel forecasted two weeks ago an unemployment rate in late 2021 of 7.7% in the most optimistic scenario.
The pessimistic scenario, based on a slower vaccination rate, projects 11% unemployment for late 2021, slightly below the 12.7% of mid-December. Thus, the best projection leaves 300,000 Israelis jobless. The government will have to act to prevent them from becoming chronically unemployed.
What happens when the most powerful white woman in the fashion world meets a black woman who will this week become one of the most powerful women in the world? The former shows the latter who's the boss, of course.
The controversial Vogue cover photo of Kamala Harris, who is about to be sworn in as Vice President of the United States, is much more than a lesson in fashion. In fact, it constitutes a rare occasion in which one can get such a revealing X-ray view of the workings of image-making in the world of fashion. This is mainly a reminder and a warning about what awaits a black woman in places where she has never set foot.
A brief overview of the affair that made waves worldwide includes facts that are not disputed: Harris was invited to appear on the cover of the February issue of the American edition of Vogue, the most influential fashion magazine in the world. The (informal) photo chosen raised a furor as soon as it appeared, with the claim that the cover did not give Kamala D, Harris due respect, as described by the Washington Post's fashion critic, who added that this was not surprising, coming from Vogue.
Four male and four female Palestinian students from Gaza pose a health risk to coronavirus-beleaguered Israel. Only thanks to the resolve of the Coordination and Liaison Office, which is preventing them from studying abroad, has Israel been saved from these eight hypothetical super-spreaders of the virus.
Even the fact that the eight will not even set foot in Israel but travel in a closed vehicle straight from the Erez checkpoint on the Gaza border to the Allenby crossing into Jordan, does not placate the coordination office and the body overseeing it, the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. They would not allow these eight to leave the Gaza Strip to pursue their plans to continue their education and improve their professional skills, something that will also benefit their society in the future.
Yafa (her real name withheld), 28, was accepted into a doctoral program in Spain in economics and business administration. She also received a generous stipend from the European Union but the Rafah crossing into Egypt is closed. The semester began on January 11 and the university has shown understanding, saying that even if she is somewhat late, she'll be very welcome.
Education Minister Yoav Gallant's failed attempt to bar B'Tselem's executive director, Hagai El-Ad, from addressing students at a Haifa high school is further proof that an anti-democratic plague is spreading in Israel.
It also underscores the great importance of the online seminar organized by the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa, to the dismay of the right. The webinar was titled Military control in Judea and Samaria and protection of human rights do they go together? This is a rhetorical question; military control and occupation go hand in hand with the violation of human rights, just as every kind of authoritarian regime requires censorship, silencing, political persecution and curtailment of freedom of expression, as Gallant has proved.
On Sunday, the education minister ordered his ministry's director general to bar schools from hosting organizations that treat Israeli soldiers with contempt and call Israel an apartheid state. His use of the word apartheid was no accident. Last week, B'Tselem published a position paper that rejected the accepted view of Israel as a democratic state that simultaneously maintains a temporary occupation regime in the territories, in favor of describing Israel as a single polity between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that maintains an apartheid regime throughout this territory.
This week, I joined a small, elite group of people deeply envied around the world. I am a healthy, 50-something woman who is neither a health care provider, teacher or any other kind of essential worker. Yet I was able to pick up the phone, speak to a friendly representative, and make an appointment to receive my first dose of Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine.
I made the call immediately after I saw in the Israeli media that the government had authorized my age group for vaccines. Had I waited just a few minutes longer, I would have been able to make my appointment by responding to the text messages on the phone sent by my health maintenance organization, inviting me to make an appointment via their app or website.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi met on Monday with King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman to discuss regional issues, including the Palestinian election that President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend would take place later this year.
Palestinian sources said that Egypt and Jordan would play an important role in supervising the election which would be the first since 2006 if it actually takes place and also in facilitating reconciliation talks between Abbas' Fatah party and the rival Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.
Senior Jordanian officials also attended the meeting, and the Jordanian news agency said the two leaders discussed a range of diplomatic issues, including Joe Biden's upcoming entry into the White House, tensions with Iran, the recent reconciliation among the Gulf states and Israel's normalization agreements with several Arab countries.
WASHINGTON The Orthodox Union on Monday publicly lauded Homeland Security Secretary-designate Alejandro Mayorkas one day before his confirmation hearing. This is an unusual move from the organization, which very rarely comments on nominees before confirmation processes.
In a letter written to Senators Gary Peters and Rob Portman the bipartisan ranking members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security as well as committee's other members, the OU Advocacy Center cited Mayorkas' previous experience in protecting Jewish institutions amid the dramatic rise in antisemitic attacks in his role as deputy secretary of homeland security from 2014 to 2016.
"Based on our past experience with him, we are confident that, if confirmed to be secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas will lead this aspect of the department's work effectively and for the welfare of the people of the United States of America," Orthodox Union Executive Director Nathan Diament and Chairman Jerry Wolasky wrote.
Bezeq shareholders approved salary and options for company executives worth 59 million shekels ($18 million) at their meeting. Chairman Gil Sharon is to receive 170,000 shekels per month at an annual cost of 2.7 million shekels.
His predecessor's annual cost was 3 million shekels.
He will also be eligible for compensation of up to 10% of his salary, with all conditions approved retroactively to his starting date in August.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced on Monday that he would not be running for Labor's leadership in the upcoming primary, citing unwillingness by center-left parties to unite ahead of Israel's March 23 election.
Last week, eight of 13 Labor Party board members asked Barak, who previously served as party leader, to run for its leadership.
In the letter to Barak, the members of the board wrote that "There is a huge vacuum. There does not seem to be any other figure currently on the political map with your experience, leadership and national status who could succeed and rise to the task of leading a change in government."
The lawyers representing Shaul and Iris Elovitch, who are accused of bribing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for regulatory benefits for their news website in exchange for favorable coverage for the prime minister, said that acceding to Netanyahu's requests was not a bribe, but an ideological move.
The two attorneys presented their response to the indictment to the Jerusalem District Court on Monday morning, in which they told the court that they were rebutting the charges against them, and that acceding to Netanyahu's requests from the Walla website they owned was not part of a bribery transaction, but an attempt to balance slanted media coverage.
Netanyahu's attorneys also claim that his appeals to Elovitch stemmed from ideological reasons, in an attempt to change the character of Israeli media. One could say that the media in Israel have for many years had a leftist bias. The prime minister believes that a major way of attaining some balance is the establishment and cementing of right-wing outlets, which can hold ongoing debates with left-wing media outlets," they wrote.
Israel's third lockdown, which began December 27, caused the broad unemployment rate to spike to 13.7% in the second half of the month, according to the jobs report issued Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
In the last two weeks of December about 22,000 employees were placed on unpaid leave, raising the number of unemployed workers to around 560,000.
The labor market had begun to recover in the first half of December, after many of the coronavirus restrictions on businesses were eased. The unemployment rate fell to 12.7%.
Some 300 12th graders at the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa participated in a Zoom lecture Monday morning with the director of the human rights group B'Tselem, Hagai El-Ad, which was held despite an order from the Education Ministry to cancel it.
On Sunday Education Minister Yoav Gallant instructed the ministry director-general to bar schools from hosting representatives of organizations that treat IDF soldiers with contempt and call Israel an apartheid state, and ministry officials conveyed the order to the Reali School. The school asked the ministry for the legal basis on which its decision had been based, and when it got no reply, it went ahead with the lecture. The education minister's bureau said it was considering how to respond.
The bureau refused to answer Haaretz's question relating to the legal opinion on which Gallant's instruction was based, reiterating its previous statement that the ban was based on the minister's right to set policy.
Israeli chef Assaf Granit has made history in France: On Monday, his Paris restaurant, "Shabour," won a Michelin star, a first for an Israeli kitchen in the country.
The Michelin guide, widely acknowledged as the bible of gastronomy, published its annual French edition on Monday. Fifty-four establishments, including Granit's, received one star for the first time this year, and two restaurants received a second star for the first time.
"Shabour," which serves Israeli cuisine, opened in Paris in late 2019 and garnered much praise, but the Michelin star is the highest honor yet. Granit rose to fame with the "MachneYuda" restaurant in Jerusalem, and has become a television personality as well. He owns another Parisian restaurant, "Balagan," as well as three in London, including "Palomar," which has won a string of accolades.
Among the teams dashing around the dunes in their cars at the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia this month, there were two whose presence would have been unthinkable a year ago.
The participation of Israelis in the rally's lightweight vehicle and truck categories comes after a rapprochement between Israel and Arab states that has been in high gear, fuelled by Riyadh's quiet assent.
In total, ten drivers, navigators and support staff entered Saudi Arabia on Israeli passports, according to team member Omer Pearl.
Nissim Meghnagi, who filed a defamation suit against Mohammed Bakri, director of the film Jenin, Jenin, told Yedioth Ahronoth, When I checked before the trial who from among our brigade had seen the film, I discovered that no one had seen it. Everyone I know wanted to disconnect, to forget about it.
That's interesting, given that Maj. (res.) Yisrael Caspi, who had been there, said, We fought like Mother Teresa, a compassionate nurse. If that was the case, one would expect that all the soldiers in the battalion would be running to visit those whom they treated like a compassionate nurse. But deep inside everyone knows that something terrible happened there, about which it's best to keep mum.
The Jenin refugee camp was opened in 1953, and most of its residents are refugees from the Carmel region in Haifa. When the Israeli army occupied the camp in 2003, some 15,000 refugees lived there in difficult conditions on 473 dunams (184 acres), dreaming of when they'd no longer be refugees. I'm asking not as a Palestinian or a Jew, but simply as a human being: What should a soldier do when they are facing a besieged camp with the world's most advanced weapons, and their aim is to subdue unfortunate people who have decided not to surrender and add another tier to the tragedy that has been unfolding since 1948?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently kept and mounted the syringe used to inject him with the COVID-19 vaccine. The premier showed off the artifact in a video on his official Facebook page on Monday.
"Every time someone visits from abroad, I show them this arrowhead," Netanyahu says in the video, gesturing to a display case in his office featuring a replica of a Roman arrowhead from Yodfat, which he explains is the first Galilee fortress to fall to the Romans. "I tell them, that's the Romans, they're not here anymore." He presents, in the same display, a model of the Israeli Arrow anti-ballistic missile.
"And now I show them something else, another arrow," he continues, moving onto a second display case bearing the single syringe. "This is the syringe that gave me the first vaccine out of the millions of vaccines that we brought to Israel. We'll be the first country in the world to exit the coronavirus . With faith, anything is possible."
U.S. law enforcement is investigating whether a woman took a laptop computer or hard drive from U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the January 6 siege of the Capitol and tried to sell the device to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing.
An FBI agent disclosed the detail in an affidavit released on Sunday night that outlined a criminal case against Riley June Williams, a Pennsylvania woman accused of unlawfully breaching the Capitol building and directing people to Pelosi's office.
The theft of electronic devices from congressional offices has been a persistent worry following the siege by supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Large number of US citizens demonstrated against the war in Iraq (and the possible war in Iran) during this October weekend. Massive turnout in Boston and San Fransisco, and also in Chicago, LA and DC people took to the streets. The message was: NO more war in Iraq! NO to a war with Iran!