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Ha'aretz
Time: Fri, 06.05.2020 09:36 PM Local file generated: Fri, 06.05.2020 01:35 PM
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Palestinians tell ICC that Israeli annexation nullifies Oslo Accords

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 22:13:27 +03:00

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday told the International Criminal Court at The Hague that it considers itself exempt from any agreement with Israel and the United States, including the Oslo Accords, due to Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank next month. 

The PA released a statement from President Mahmoud Abbas in response to the ICCs request last week for clarification regarding Abbas' recent declaration that he is ending all agreements with Israel and the U.S. This may have ramifications for questions of international jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories.

Abbas's statement, which he originally delivered last month, declares that "if Israel proceeds with annexation, a material breach of the agreements between the two sides, then it will have annulled any remnants of the Oslo Accords and all other agreements concluded between them."


 Palestinians tell ICC that Israeli annexation nullifies Oslo Accords


Nuclear watchdog voices serious concern about Iran's blocking of old sites

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 20:58:01 +03:00

The UN nuclear watchdog expressed serious concern on Friday that Iran has continued for months to deny it access to sites of interest to it, describing previous suspected activities there that could have been part of a nuclear weapons program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report in March admonishing Iran for failing to answer questions about past nuclear activities at three sites and for denying it access to two of them.

Diplomats have said the IAEA is looking into activities there long before Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.


 Nuclear watchdog voices serious concern about Iran's blocking of old sites


Israeli minister pushes bill to block detainees from meeting lawyers, citing coronavirus

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 20:50:19 +03:00

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana is advancing a bill to prevent detainees and prisoners from meeting with their lawyers face-to-face, saying he seeks to prevent a coronavirus outbreak at military prisons.

Ohana, who as justice minister was seen as an enforcer for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is trying to push the legislation through using a fast-track process. The public has only two days to consider an early version of the bill and raise objections.

A month ago, Haaretz first reported that such legislation was in the works, requiring conversations by video conferencing or telephone.


 Israeli minister pushes bill to block detainees from meeting lawyers, citing coronavirus


Coronavirus Israel live: More schools closed as government softens emergency laws

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 20:35:17 +03:00

Israel has seen a spike in coronavirus cases as schools, businesses, restaurants, bars, tourist attractions and other establishments reopen. Schools throughout the country have closed after cases tied to students and staff members continue to climb. 

-  17,3495 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 291 people have died. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 554 people tested positive; two people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 66 people were diagnosed, 18 of whom recovered, and one person has died. 

-  Coronavirus tracker: Live stats of cases and deaths


 Coronavirus Israel live: More schools closed as government softens emergency laws


With less than a month to go, Netanayahu's plans for annexation are still a mystery

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 19:33:29 +03:00

Once upon a time, in the pre-Trump era, when the settlers would nag Benjamin Netanyahu to annex territory in the West Bank, he'd dispatch them with a dismissive wave of the hand. What's it good for? Who needs it? was his usual answer. It won't make a difference, the settlements are expanding anyway, and think about the damage it will cause us around the world and in the region. Why start pointless quarrels?

Those were the days when Barack Obama was in the White House. Annexation was considered a dirty word, and an even dirtier deed. Three and a half years ago, Donald Trump moved in, and then came his œdeal of the century. The sturdy rationale that Netanyahu had used to skirt the move was tossed out the window for the sake of œfulfilling the dream of generations, the fulfillment of Zionism and, above all, creating his œlegacy.

He needs a legacy, people close to him say. Fourteen years in total as prime minister, the most powerful to ever hold the position, and how will history remember him? As the most controversial leader? As the first sitting prime minister to stand trial?


 With less than a month to go, Netanayahu's plans for annexation are still a mystery


In 1950, baby Yaffa was taken to a hospital. She was released, but her mother was told she had died

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 18:54:58 +03:00

Israel's High Court of Justice has refused to order police to investigate the disappearance of a six-month-old baby of Iranian immigrants in 1950, whose story resembles reports of mass disappearances of Yemenite children in the state's early days. For 70 years, her siblings have been trying to find out what became of her.

Yaffa Malairy was admitted to a government hospital in Haifa ' today Rambam Medical Center ' in 1950. A few days after the infant's hospitalization, her mother was told she had died. But the hospital's visit summary said she had œleft the ward in generally good condition.

In a ruling issued this week, the court said in regard to the child's siblings, œWith all our understanding of the pain and doubts that still accompany them about their sister's fate, there is no justification for overruling the police's decision not to investigate the case. The ruling also noted that three commissions of inquiry have investigated the disappearance of children of Yemenite immigrants in the 1950s, and none had recommended opening a criminal investigation into the affair.


 In 1950, baby Yaffa was taken to a hospital. She was released, but her mother was told she had died


We won't accept parts of Trump's plan, Israeli minister says

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 18:28:54 +03:00

Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Rafi Peretz said Friday that U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan has "clauses we cannot accept." 

"We will not accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in my homeland. I will oppose any mention of recognition of a Palestinian state in the legislation to come, Peretz wrote in a Facebook post. œWe will not accept a construction freeze . The State of Israel has sent the settlers and it is impossible to accept a situation in which we cut off these communities."

Peretz conceded that Trump is a "true friend of the State of Israel" and that he was sure his intentions were in Israel's best interests. He said this was proven by recognition of the Golan Heights and Jerusalem and the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. 


 We won't accept parts of Trump's plan, Israeli minister says


'He's disabled,' the caregiver screamed. 'I'm with her,' Eyad cried. The cop opened fire anyway

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 17:42:03 +03:00

Eyad Hallaq was shot to death in a roofless garbage room. According to the testimony of his caregiver, who was by his side and tried to protect him, he was executed. For long minutes she stood next to him and pleaded for his life, trying to explain to the police officers, in Hebrew and in Arabic, that he suffered from a disability. They shot him three times from close range with a rifle, directly into the center of his body, as he lay on his back, wounded and terrified, on the floor of the room.

The garbage room is located in a narrow courtyard in Jerusalem's Old City, inside Lions Gate, exactly at the start of the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus walked from the site of his trial to the place of his crucifixion, on what's now called King Faisal Street. It's just a few dozen meters from the entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The sanctity of the area did not help Hallaq. Nor did the fact that he was someone with special needs, a 32-year-old autistic person, the apple of the eye of his parents, who devoted their lives to looking after him.

Hallaq was afraid of blood: His mother shaved him in the morning, for fear he would cut himself. Every scratch threw him into a panic, she says. He was also afraid of the armed police officers who stood along the route to the special needs center he went to, where participated in a vocational training program. His instructor taught him how to make his way there alone on foot it took a month before he dared walk the route by himself a little more than a kilometer from his home in the Wadi Joz neighborhood into the Old City.


 'He's disabled,' the caregiver screamed. 'I'm with her,' Eyad cried. The cop opened fire anyway


Nearly 100 schools closed since reopening as coronavirus cases in Israel rise

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 17:04:07 +03:00

This article is no longer being updated. For the latest updates on the coronavirus in Israel, click here

Israel has seen a spike in coronavirus cases as it begins lifting restrictions on restaurants, bars, tourist attractions and other businesses. Despite the uptick, the country's number of COVID-19 patients remains low. 

-  17,3495 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 291 people have died. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 554 people tested positive; two people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 66 people were diagnosed, 18 of whom recovered, and one person has died. 


 Nearly 100 schools closed since reopening as coronavirus cases in Israel rise


L.A.'s mayor redirects LAPD budget boost to black community projects

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 16:41:55 +03:00

The outrage over George Floyd's death arrived at Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's front door in the form of hundreds of shouting protesters gathered outside his home, loudly chanting to gut funding for the police department.

There was anger about curfews, and the use of rubber bullets by police to disperse protesters. The mayor also heard calls for the resignation of police Chief Michel Moore.

It was the kind of pained, indignant outcry the popular mayor who was born and raised in Los Angeles has rarely seen since taking office seven years ago, much less at the threshold of his home.


 L.A.'s mayor redirects LAPD budget boost to black community projects


Iran challenges Trump to return to nuclear deal

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 16:24:50 +03:00

Seizing on Donald Trump's conciliatory tone after Tehran released an American Navy veteran, Iran's foreign minister challenged the U.S. president on Friday to return to the nuclear deal that Washington abandoned two years ago.

Iran freed Michael White on Thursday as part of a deal in which the United States allowed Iranian-American physician Majid Taheri to visit Iran.

Trump tweeted on Thursday of White's release: "Thank you to Iran, it shows a deal is possible!"


 Iran challenges Trump to return to nuclear deal


New York Times says senator's op-ed on quelling protests didn't meet standards

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 16:20:13 +03:00

In an embarrassing about-face, The New York Times said Thursday that an opinion piece it ran by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton advocating the use of federal troops to quell nationwide protests about police mistreatment of black Americans did not meet its standards.

Cotton's op-ed, titled œSend in the Troops and first posted online late Wednesday, caused a revolt among Times journalists, with some saying it endangered black employees. Some staff members called in sick Thursday in protest.

The Times said in a statement that a œrushed editorial process led to publication of a piece that did not meet its standards.


 New York Times says senator's op-ed on quelling protests didn't meet standards


Decades of occupation killed Eyad Hallaq, not racism

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 15:49:28 +03:00

Fifty-three years ago this Sunday, Col. Mordechai Gur, commander of the 55th Reserve Paratroops Brigade, gave what one of his officers called decades later œthe most reckless order I've ever heard. Gur had finally been authorized to send his troops into the Old City of Jerusalem and wasn't about to let another unit have the glory of liberating Judaism's holiest site. œAll forces to Lion's Gate, he called on the brigade radio, and ordered his driver to head for the narrow gateway, overtaking the tanks which were too wide to get through.

œAll it needed was one Jordanian soldier with an RPG to wipe out the brigade command, the officer told me 40 years later, still angry with Gur's vainglory. Luckily, nearly the entire Jordanian force occupying the Old City had already melted away, though Gur didn't know that. The militarily sensible thing to do would have been to allow soldiers from the Jerusalem Brigade, who were better situated at Dung Gate to the south, to secure the approach first. But that would mean the first soldiers at the Western Wall wouldn't be his. Gur gave the order and within 15 minutes had captured the Temple Mount. Three weeks later Israel annexed the Old City and East Jerusalem, but most of its Palestinian residents are still not Israeli citizens.

Gur entered the history books but the narrow alleyway leading off from Lion's Gate, just by Via Dolorosa, remains unsettled, often a flashpoint between Israel's paramilitary Border Police and Palestinian youths. A place of stupid orders and undisciplined action. Last Saturday, police officers stationed by the gate were told over their radios to be on the lookout for œa terrorist running towards them. They cornered 32-year-old Eyad Hallaq, a terrified autistic man on the way to his day center. His teacher nearby tried to explain his situation to them, in Hebrew. But one of them saw a movement and fired at least seven bullets, killing Hallaq on the spot.


 Decades of occupation killed Eyad Hallaq, not racism


Trump's false attacks on Mattis, his former defense secretary who said he's a threat to the constitution

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 15:45:05 +03:00

When Jim Mattis announced his resignation as defense secretary, President Donald Trump thanked him for œtremendous progress in helping to rebuild the military and for œretiring with distinction. Times changed and so did Trump's story about losing his Pentagon chief.

Trump now claims he fired Mattis, says President Barack Obama did the same and takes credit for nicknaming him Mad Dog Mattis. None of that is true.

After leaving the administration, Mattis let it be known that he was biting his lip about Trump's leadership. He only hinted at his concerns ” even in a recent book ” until his statement this week opening up on œthe first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people ” does not even pretend to try.


 Trump's false attacks on Mattis, his former defense secretary who said he's a threat to the constitution


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorses primary challenger to 16-term congressman Eliot Engel

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 15:25:39 +03:00

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat in her first term, has endorsed the Democratic primary challenger in her home state of New York facing veteran congressman Eliot Engel.

In a late-night series of tweets Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez backed Jamaal Bowman, an African-American educator, over Engel, a 16-term lawmaker who heads the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. Her district in the Bronx and Queens boroughs abuts Engel's in the borough and suburban Westchester County.

It is unusual for a congressman from a party in a state's delegation to endorse a primary challenger of a colleague.


 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorses primary challenger to 16-term congressman Eliot Engel


Mystery solved: Who really built ancient bridge to Jerusalem Temple

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 15:07:42 +03:00

In Monty Python's œLife of Brian, a Jewish rebel leader sarcastically asks œwhat have the Romans ever done for us? only to be forced by his bumbling acolytes to acknowledge a laundry list of the empire's achievements: aqueducts, sanitation, education and so on. The fictional People's Front of Judea would be outraged to learn that we can now add another item to the list of Roman contributions in the Holy Land: a giant bridge that enabled Jews to flock to the Temple in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.

The remains of the bridge, better known today as Wilson's Arch, are still visible next to the north side of the Western Wall and have been the focus of a five-year excavation and analysis by Israeli archaeologists and scientists who published their findings Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. The experts conclude that the structure was initiated by Herod the Great and completed, or at least majorly refurbished, under Roman governors, possibly even the infamous Pontius Pilate, the official best known for sentencing Jesus to death.

The study puts an end to nearly two centuries of argument over the dating of the bridge, which has been going on since the arched causeway was first documented in the mid-1800s by the British explorer Charles William Wilson, who gave it its modern name. Experts have attributed the bridge to everyone from Herod, who reigned in the first century B.C.E., to the Umayyad caliphs who built the Dome of the Rock shrine atop the Temple Mount in the seventh century C.E., says Joe Uziel, the archaeologist for the Israel Antiquities Authority who led the dig.


 Mystery solved: Who really built ancient bridge to Jerusalem Temple


DNA unlocks the secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 14:21:00 +03:00

Over 70 years ago, a Bedouin shepherd named Muhammed ed-Dib entered a cave in the Qumran area west of the Dead Sea. In it he found large clay jars containing parchment scrolls wrapped in linen. Ed-Dib didn't know it, but he had stumbled upon the first pieces of one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, which would come to be known as the œDead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls opened a window to the spiritual world and quotidian life of the Second Temple period one of the most tempestuous eras in Jewish history and shed light on the process by which various Jewish sects sprang up during that time, one of which would morph into Christianity. But even today these archaeological finds continue to raise more questions than answers.

A major reason for the contentious disputes is that the collection of scrolls in Israel today consists of nearly 25,000 fragments of parchment and papyrus (the lion's share of all the known scroll artifacts in the world) which, it is estimated, come from more than 930 different ancient manuscripts. This vast jigsaw puzzle, with an unknown number of pieces that have been lost over time, includes the earliest versions found to date of all the books of the Hebrew Bible (with the exception of the Book of Esther), as well as the biblical apocrypha and many other works previously unknown.

The conventional theory is that some of those works were written or copied by a zealous Jewish sect, identified by most scholars as the Essenes, who led an ascetic life in the desert. However, there is now general agreement that the collection also includes scrolls that originated from outside the sect, written by other learned individuals of that period. Accordingly, the question of which texts are unique to the sect and which were brought in from outside is crucial for understanding the significance of the texts, and to what extent they represent the ideas in currency in Judea of the latter Second Temple period (334 B.C.E.-70 C.E.). A study published this week as the cover story of the scientific journal Cell has harnessed the most advanced tools of biological research in order to help solve the mystery.


 DNA unlocks the secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls


Protests shift to memorializing Floyd amid push for change

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 14:11:29 +03:00

The tenor of the protests set off by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police has taken a turn from the explosive anger that has fueled the setting of fires, breaking of windows and other violence to a quiet, yet more forceful, grassroots call for more to be done to address racial injustice.

Many of the protests were more subdued for a second night as marches Thursday turned into memorials for Floyd, who was the focus of a heartfelt tribute Thursday in Minneapolis that drew family members, celebrities, politicians and civil rights advocates. At his service, strong calls were made for meaningful changes in policing and the criminal justice system.

At demonstration sites around the country, protesters said the quieter mood is the result of several factors: the new and upgraded criminal charges against the police officers involved in Floyd's arrest; a more conciliatory approach by police who have marched with them or taken a knee to recognize their message; and the realization that the burst of rage after Floyd's death is not sustainable.


 Protests shift to memorializing Floyd amid push for change


Video shows police in Buffalo, New York, shoving 75-year-old to ground and walking away

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 14:05:25 +03:00

Two Buffalo, New York, police officers were suspended without pay on Thursday after a video showed them shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground, as protests over the police killing of George Floyd continued into their tenth night.

The video taken by a reporter from local public radio station WBFO and posted on its website and Twitter account shows the white-haired man approaching a line of officers in riot gear. One officer pushes him with a baton and a second one with his hand. The sound of a crack is heard and then blood trickles from the man's head. The man, who is white, is not identified.

œI was deeply disturbed by the video, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a statement. œAfter days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, police leadership and members of the community, tonight's event is disheartening.


 Video shows police in Buffalo, New York, shoving 75-year-old to ground and walking away


Three powers are now capable of launching astronauts into space: Russia, China and Elon Musk

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 13:59:54 +03:00

It was from launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, that Neil Armstrong, Edwin œBuzz Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off for the moon in 1969. It was from there, too, that the disastrous missions of the space shuttles Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003 took off. But today, nine years after the last mission of the Atlantis space shuttle, only weeds emerge from the scorched asphalt. For nearly a decade, the United States has been left without a human launch system. When it has wanted to send its astronauts to the International Space Station, it has been compelled to buy places on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, which were launched from Kazakhstan.

In the meantime, at NASA, they were left wondering what to do with a rusting launch facility. Then, in 2014, the perfect client appeared: the eccentric billionaire engineer Elon Musk, who made his initial fortune from the sale of PayPal. The founder of the electric vehicle company Tesla and of the space exploration company SpaceX, Musk took a 20-year lease on the site. He wasn't the only tech baron who entered a bid. When Musk's bid was accepted, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and of the aerospace firm Blue Origin, moved quickly to lease the adjacent complex, No. 36, from which the probes were launched to Mars and Venus in the 1960s and 1970s.

Last Saturday, the fire was again ignited at launchpad 39A. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley blasted off for the ISS in a Dragon capsule. œLaunch America was the name NASA's PR folks gave the widely covered event. The United States, it was said, had resumed launching astronauts from American soil. In fact, only the soil was U.S. property. The spacecraft, the launcher, the launch devices, even the spacesuits all are the private property of SpaceX. The appearance of the NASA logo, which was displayed proudly on the spacecraft, was purchased. By the same token, it could have been the Coca-Cola logo that appeared there. Thus, as of the moment when these lines are being written, only three powers in the world have the capacity to launch astronauts into space: Russia, China and Elon Musk.


 Three powers are now capable of launching astronauts into space: Russia, China and Elon Musk


Iran frees American, Trump boosts prospect of new deal

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 13:38:24 +03:00

A U.S. Navy veteran who said he contracted the coronavirus while detained in Iran since 2018 was freed on Thursday as part of a deal in which the United States allowed an Iranian-American physician to visit Iran, his lawyer and a U.S. official said.

Iran's decision to release American Michael White and the U.S. move to let dual citizen Majid Taheri visit Iran, both of which were confirmed by Iran's foreign minister, appeared to be a rare instance of U.S.-Iranian cooperation.

Seizing on Trump's conciliatory tone after the release of the veteran, Iran's foreign minister challenged the U.S. president on Friday to return to the nuclear deal that Washington abandoned two years ago.


 Iran frees American, Trump boosts prospect of new deal


News agency: Iranian ship sinks in Iraqi waters, 1 dead

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 13:11:04 +03:00

The head of Iran's maritime and ports association said Friday an Iranian cargo ship sank in Iraqi waters, and at least one crew member was dead and two others missing, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Nader Pasandeh told IRNA the cargo ship Behbahan embarked Tuesday for Umm Qasr Port in Iraq from the southwest Iranian port city of Khorramshahr. He said it sank Thursday night in Khor Abdullah, a narrow channel that separates Iraq from Kuwait.

Officials said it was not immediately clear why the vessel, which had a crew of seven, went down.


 News agency: Iranian ship sinks in Iraqi waters, 1 dead


Twitter disables Trump video tribute to Floyd over copyright complaint

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 12:56:22 +03:00

Twitter Inc has disabled U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign tribute video to George Floyd on its platform, citing a copyright complaint.

The clip, which is a collation of photos and videos of protest marches and instances of violence in the aftermath of Floyd's death, has Trump speaking in the background.

Floyd's death last week after a fatal encounter with a police officer has led to nationwide protests. In widely circulated video footage, a white officer was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck as Floyd gasped for air and repeatedly groaned, "I can't breathe," before passing out.


 Twitter disables Trump video tribute to Floyd over copyright complaint


Air traffic resumes at Tel Aviv airport after brief worker strike

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 11:50:08 +03:00

Air traffic resumed at Israel's Ben Gurion airport on Friday after a strike by workers demanding compensation for wages lost due to the coronavirus crisis forced a brief shutdown, an airport spokeswoman said.

Israel's airport workers union said the strike was called off following a request by Israeli Transportation Minister Miri Regev, who on Twitter called the walkout "unacceptable" and urged the union to negotiate a solution.

The interruption in air traffic lasted several hours. The strike, intended to pressure the government to resume a regular flights schedule amid the coronavirus crisis, applies to both passenger and cargo flights.


 Air traffic resumes at Tel Aviv airport after brief worker strike


What exactly does Netanyahu mean by ˜annexation'? Israel's defense establishment has no idea

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 10:49:37 +03:00

Three people could stop Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from annexing all or part of the West Bank a month from now. And the three do not include Defense Minister Benny Gantz or Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, the leaders of the Kahol Lavan party, who so far have evinced near-total submission to Netanyahu's dictates. The three are Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and advisor; and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.

Bin Salman could convince Kushner that annexation right now would provoke anger throughout the Arab world and bolster Iran, Saudi Arabia's detested enemy. Kushner has said before that he opposes a unilateral move by Israel and that annexation of parts of the West Bank must be done within the framework of Trump's œdeal of the century. If he makes it clear to Trump that annexation should not proceed at this time, Netanyahu is quite likely to renege on his pledge.

That scenario is unlikely, however. Bin Salman is preoccupied with more pressing problems like plummeting oil prices and plunging Saudi revenues. The monarchy in Riyadh, like the leadership in most Arab countries, is weary of dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all the more so since Saudi Arabia has developed very close ties with Israel in recent years, based on one key interest: hostility toward and fear of Iran. This is why, as previously reported, all the Mossad chiefs of the past few decades have (secretly) met with their Saudi counterparts. Presumably, Yossi Cohen has also done so and will continue to do so in the coming month.


 What exactly does Netanyahu mean by ˜annexation'? Israel's defense establishment has no idea


Head of Iranian news agency convicted for publishing former ambassador's spy remarks

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 10:48:54 +03:00

The head of Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency has been convicted over publishing an article that quotes a former ambassador criticizing Tehran's œarbitrary intelligence operations in Europe, a journalism watchdog group said Friday.

It was unclear what sentence was handed down to ISNA CEO Ali Motaghian after his trial on charges of œpublishing lies with the intention of disturbing the public," the Committee to Protect Journalists said. The judiciary's Mizan news agency said Motaghian could face penalties ranging from two months to two years in prison, 74 lashes and a cash fine.

The case originates from a complaint filed by the intelligence arm of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. It involved an extensive interview ISNA published in January 2019 with former Ambassador to Germany Ali Majedi.


 Head of Iranian news agency convicted for publishing former ambassador's spy remarks


Netanyahu vows to annex on July 1. The White House may ruin the party

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 06:16:20 +03:00

Back at the height of Donald Trump's presidency, I asked an Israeli in Washington at the time which democracy he thought was in greater danger Israel or the United States. "Look around you," he replied, pointing to the imposing public buildings of the American capital. œThe system of the regime here is stronger than any one individual. He will pass and it will endure.

In the summer of 2020 the answers look increasingly less clear and reassuring on both sides of the ocean. The violence being wielded by American police forces against demonstrators and journalists is worrisome and acting as a deterrent. Under cover of the coronavirus, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a close friend of his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, has taken measures to eradicate the remnants of democracy.

In Israel, the prime minister's residence is orchestrating choruses of incitement, journalists are being tarred as enemies of the people, and an effort is underway to collect embarrassing information on public figures to influence their decisions. Democracy, in Washington as in Jerusalem, seems to be treading on thin ice that could easily crack under the extraordinary circumstances.


 Netanyahu vows to annex on July 1. The White House may ruin the party


As America grapples with unrest, it leaves a vacuum on the world stage

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 06:14:44 +03:00

Despite the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Israel this week, the West Bank annexation plans and even the spread of the virus globally, all news has been overshadowed by one epic drama: the apocalyptic images from America. The suffocation of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, caught on camera, sparked disturbances across the United States. Even though America has known similar violence in 1965, 1968 and 1992 this time a crisis of a different magnitude seems to be unfolding.

Many observers will say the genesis was November 8, 2016, the day Donald Trump was elected president. But the question of whether Trump has been the catalyst of events or whether his presidency is largely a symptom of America's overall gloom will probably remain open. For now the fury at the police's treatment of African Americans is fusing with other upheavals to stir a near perfect storm.

It's not only a matter of race relations, which have always been the most volatile issue in the United States. Compounding the situation are a massive health crisis, a recession that could loom larger than the pandemic, and a fierce political dispute around a divisive president. Of course, that president is up for reelection in November, though it's far from clear how the election will be held, whether outside intervention can be avoided and whether the president will accept the result if he loses.


 As America grapples with unrest, it leaves a vacuum on the world stage


Israel had the chance to eradicate the coronavirus. But it knew the price

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 06:02:39 +03:00

Israel apparently had a chance to eradicate the coronavirus in the way a handful of countries have done, notably New Zealand and Iceland. In the third week of May, the average daily number of newly infected people stood at about 15. The gradual easing of the lockdown had begun on April 19. It's possible that an extension of the lockdown for a few more weeks, or a more cautious exit strategy, would have produced an achievement similar to that in those two island countries.

But the astronomical economic damage from the lockdown, along with the outcry by the people, put intolerable pressure on the government. Throwing all caution to the wind, the authorities moved rapidly to a broad reopening, including of schools.

The opening of the preschools and the lower grades didn't immediately send the number of new cases higher, and reinforced the assessment that young children are rarely infected by the virus. But the number of infections rose when the middle schools and high schools were reopened.


 Israel had the chance to eradicate the coronavirus. But it knew the price


Iran's coming election is leading its top leaders to escalate rhetoric against the U.S.

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 06:01:11 +03:00

Five oil tankers set sail from Iran last month, bound for Venezuela. The U.S. administration seethed with fury, threatened to stop these shipments, but in practice, President Donald Trump made do with blustering tweets.

The amount of oil Iran exports has dropped from 2.5 million barrels a day to one quarter of a million, yet, by the end of its sixth development plan in 2022, Iran will produce 5.7 million barrels a day. It's not clear who will buy these prodigious amounts, besides China, which continues to buy Iranian oil, despite officially cutting its purchases by 89 percent. Iran is trying to demonstrate steadfastness in the face of American sanctions.

The new blow Washington has landed on Iran, cancelling exemptions given to Chinese, Russian and European companies working on civilian nuclear projects, was met with anger, but was also addressed dismissively when the Iranian government spokespeople clarified that they will soon be able to operate without external assistance. Iran will continue to receive heavy water for its nuclear reactors from Russia and maintain those facilities on its own.


 Iran's coming election is leading its top leaders to escalate rhetoric against the U.S.


Why Israel must remove West Bank annexation from its agenda

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 05:30:17 +03:00

Throughout the long time that has elapsed since the Six-Day War broke out 53 years ago today, all Israeli governments have refrained from applying sovereignty to any of the territory captured in that war (aside from the areas annexed to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights). And this was no accident. To this day, this policy has enabled Israel to stick to the claim that its control over the West Bank (and the Gaza Strip) is only a temporary situation, and that any decision on sovereignty in the territories would be made through negotiations between the parties. This œtemporary situation hasn't hindered successive governments from creating facts on the ground via the settlement enterprise, military orders and force of arms.

Annexing territory in the West Bank would void this claim of temporariness once and for all, while also closing off any possibility of reaching a viable permanent agreement and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because sovereignty is slated to apply only to Israelis living in the annexed areas, their Palestinian residents' fate will be permanently dependent on the whims of a foreign sovereign. The Absentee Property Law in force inside Israel would let the state do whatever it pleases with the property of tens of thousands of Palestinians living outside the annexed areas. Expropriating this territory, and especially the Jordan Valley, would thwart any chance of creating a territorially contiguous Palestinian state and turn it into a collection of enclaves with no land reserves to meet the needs of natural growth and refugee absorption.

The threat of annexation has already undermined security coordination with the Palestinian Authority and led the PA to threaten to dissolve itself and withdraw from the Oslo Accords. Defense officials have repeatedly warned that annexation would spark violent opposition and bolster the status of Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the territories. The map of the Israeli and Palestinian enclaves proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump's œdeal of the century creates countless zones of friction between neighbors. Talk of annexation has provoked a threat of sanctions against Israel by leading members of the European Union. And the king of Jordan and leaders of other Arab states have warned about the effect unilateral annexation would have on regional stability.


 Why Israel must remove West Bank annexation from its agenda


Elite Israeli troops went on a rogue op inside Syria. The result was deadly

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 03:04:28 +03:00

It was a fairly routine night along the Syria-Israel border on the Golan Heights, or at least that was what many in the defense establishment thought. In fact they may still think so, even after some time has elapsed. What happened in those hours a short distance across the border received no more than a terse mention in the media, at best. The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Office didn't provide much information at the time, noting only exchanges of fire and adding that œour forces sustained no casualties. But the story is much bigger than that, as an investigation by Haaretz shows.

It turns out that the exchanges of fire were preceded by an unplanned, unauthorized foray into Syrian territory by a team from the elite reconnaissance battalion of the Golani Brigade. The fighters, led by First Lt. Guy Eliahu, had an address: a structure in which Syrian personnel were present, who did not constitute a threat to Israel. The soldiers demanded that those inside come out and just like that the shooting began. Its lethal results would become apparent afterward.

This story is just another link in a chain of events in which the same Golani reconnaissance team has been involved in the past two years. Already in February 2018 (and in the weeks that followed), red lights should have begun flashing in the headquarters of Golani Brigade at Shraga Base, near Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta'ot in Western Galilee. At that time, the focus of events was far from the Golan Heights on Highway 6, the Trans-Israel Highway, near Bat Hefer, a community east of Netanya. A truck driver from East Jerusalem ran into a convoy of Hummer military vehicles carrying Golani troops that was driving slowly along the side of the highway. Three soldiers were killed. It was not a deliberate ramming attack, and the driver was charged only with reckless driving.


 Elite Israeli troops went on a rogue op inside Syria. The result was deadly


Citing coronavirus limitations, police say anti-annexation rally can't be held in major Tel Aviv square

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 01:45:51 +03:00

Police have told the organizers of an anti-annexation protest that it cannot be held in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square because of coronavirus regulations, organizers said Thursday.

The protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's stated plan to annex parts of the West Bank was scheduled to take place in the square on Saturday. Police suggested that the protest be held in the city's Yarkon Park instead, citing regulations and saying that too many people were expected to attend, according to activists.

Police said in a statement that they had told organizers the square wasn't large enough for the number of protesters expected: œIt was made clear to the organizers that the square can't contain the amount of protesters expected to show up. According to police, a proposal for an alternative location œwas unfortunately turned down, adding that the organizers œshowed no responsibility for the protesters' safety and health.


 Citing coronavirus limitations, police say anti-annexation rally can't be held in major Tel Aviv square


Haaretz cartoon

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 00:45:19 +03:00

 Haaretz cartoon


Netanyahu talks about sovereignty in the West Bank, but what about the Negev?

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 00:23:30 +03:00

Major General Yitzhak Brik a decorated combat officer known for his conscientiousness and integrity served as the military ombudsman. In this position, he was also made aware of operational failures, particularly in the ground forces. Which led him to conduct an in-depth investigation of what is happening in the army. The details of his report, which ought to have shaken the rafters, were met with indifference.

Most military analysts ignored the findings or, at best, claimed that Brik was œexaggerating. And some accused him how typical for those who ignore the truth of exceeding his authority. But what about the facts? These were only addressed minimally, if at all. As they would have it, the ombudsman should only deal with complaints about service conditions.

The incident that occurred this week in Tze'elim, in which officers who œtook the law into their own hands were nearly tried, is one bit of evidence, out of hundreds, of the mentality that prevails in the army, especially among a good portion of the senior officers. While preparing a training exercise for a reserve unit, the group of officers spotted some Bedouins trying to plunder military equipment. Contrary to the forbearance their cohorts had shown for decades, the natural reflex they felt was shame, and the need to prevent a crime. A chase ensued in which the officers' jeep ended up in the center of a Bedouin village, where locals besieged the vehicle and threatened to harm the occupants. According to the media, the incident ended œwithout injury or loss of life.


 Netanyahu talks about sovereignty in the West Bank, but what about the Negev?


Israeli annexation: Mountain or molehill?

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 00:23:25 +03:00

In contrast to the destructive passions that characterize Israelis' debate over Benjamin Netanyahu's leadership, their attitude toward annexation, which seems to be gaining unprecedented momentum, is characterized by lack of interest and apathy.

Most Israelis, including many who vote for Likud, aren't familiar with the settlements along the spine of the Samarian Hills and are indifferent to the fate of the outposts in the South Hebron Hills. They don't particularly identify with settler ideology, aside, perhaps, from sympathizing with any struggle against Arabs.

On the left, a stubborn handful of people have been warning for 53 years now about the damage done by the occupation, without having any success or connecting in the slightest to Israelis at a gut level. For most Israeli Jews, simply recognizing the Palestinians as human beings with any rights at all is a subversive and even contemptible idea.


 Israeli annexation: Mountain or molehill?


West Bank annexation is doomed to fail. Just look what happened in East Jerusalem

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 00:23:09 +03:00

One of the arguments made by those who support annexation and dismiss the idea of a final status accord is: œWe annexed East Jerusalem and the world said nothing. Some persist in praising the achievements of the annexation, citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks on Jerusalem Day 2015: œOur capital Jerusalem has been reunited. ... Its division caused it to wither; its unification led it to prosper.

After all the celebrating of Jerusalem's œunification and œprosperity, the question must be asked: Was the annexation of East Jerusalem such a big success that it means we should take the risk involved in annexing territory in the West Bank? Or, as indicated by recently published statistics from the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, does Netanyahu's proclamation reflect a false reality?

More importantly, perhaps, Jerusalem's development and the city's demographic and economic trends can tell us something about what Israel can expect should Netanyahu's promise œto gradually apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria be fulfilled, ultimately leading to annexation of the entire West Bank and to one state.


 West Bank annexation is doomed to fail. Just look what happened in East Jerusalem


We cannot justify Israel's West Bank annexation

Fri, 5 Jun 2020 00:16:40 +03:00

The following letter was sent by leading members of the UK Jewish community to Israel's Ambassador to the Court of St James's, Mark Regev:

Dear Mark,

We are writing to convey our concern and alarm at the policy proposal to unilaterally annex areas of the West Bank, as outlined in the coalition agreement of Israel's new government.


 We cannot justify Israel's West Bank annexation


Jordan Valley settlers stake little on looming Israeli annexation

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 23:55:19 +03:00

The commercial center in Ma'aleh Efraim at the western edge of the Jordan Valley could be the perfect backdrop for a 1970s romantic comedy. There's a small post office at the entrance, and an old tiled path leads to a plaza with concrete benches. Surrounding them is a barbershop, a used clothing store, a minimarket, an HMO clinic and a sign for a lawyer's office in the back. The few old-timers who remain remember that until the mid-1990s there was a large Bank Hapoalim branch; that's closed now. Once there was also a pub that would attract young people from the valley's moshavim.

Ma'aleh Efraim was built in the late 1970s as a city that would provide basic urban services to the Jordan Valley's rural communities. But once the bank closed, it was the residents of Ma'aleh Efraim who had to drive 10 minutes to Fatsa'el to take out cash. Now there's an ATM in town, but there's a 6-shekel fee to use it.

Other than schools, Ma'aleh Efraim no longer provides any special services to the surrounding communities. Even the area's largest supermarket is at the Fatsa'el junction. Many Jordan Valley residents prefer to go to Beit She'an or Jerusalem for their errands, leaving Ma'aleh Efraim as just another settlement on the hill.


 Jordan Valley settlers stake little on looming Israeli annexation


In Israel's anti-prostitution drive, pilot program targets sex addiction

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 23:42:54 +03:00

Israel's Health Ministry has for the first time launched a publicly funded program to treat people addicted to sex, as part of ongoing efforts to implement an anti-prostitution law.

The program, run by the rehabilitation organization Retorno at its treatment center in Jerusalem, opened a few weeks ago with 15 addicts, a number that is slated to go up to 38. Until now, all the country's sex addiction programs have relied on private funding.

The new program was established pursuant to a law passed in 2019 that is better known for criminalizing the hiring of prostitutes. Most of the provisions of that law have yet to be implemented.


 In Israel's anti-prostitution drive, pilot program targets sex addiction


Slavoj Zizek's 'brutal, dark' formula for saving the world

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 23:36:06 +03:00

This is not an easy time for Slavoj Zizek. Quite the opposite, and he's the first to admit it. Reoccurring panic attacks incapacitate him for hours at a time and, unlike in the past, the nights have stopped providing him with an easy escape. His sleep is wracked by nightmares of what the future holds for humanity. There are days when he fantasizes about being infected by the coronavirus. At least, that way all of the uncertainty would come to an end, or so he imagines. Finally, he would be able to cope with the virus concretely, instead of continuously being haunted by it, as some sort of a spectral entity.

Our conversation begins with him in the interviewer's seat. œWhat's happening there? How do you survive? Do you stay in the apartment? Do people go out? How is it in Israel, can you swim again? His questions come in rapid-fire succession, and then stop as quickly and abruptly as they started, and then he apologizes: He's worried that his anxiety won't allow him to complete the interview. But gradually he hits his stride.

We're speaking in the wake of the publication last month of his new book, œPandemic! COVID-19 Shakes the World, which he wrote at lightning speed, in just a few weeks. It's unmistakably Zizek: Its pages are a bag full of tricks, and provocative, as always. Still, it's not the most impressive work he's produced. Mirroring his state of mind, the book is a conceptual maelstrom, an unpolished sprawl of fragments of ideas, not all of which are fully developed. However, criticism along those lines is liable to miss the heart of the matter: This is an attempt by one of the leading philosophers of our time to address the broadest possible public as quickly as possible, while we are still at a crossroads.


 Slavoj Zizek's 'brutal, dark' formula for saving the world


George Floyd eulogized at Minneapolis memorial in first of three events

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 23:20:44 +03:00

Hollywood celebrities, musicians and the politically powerful filed into a sanctuary in front of the golden casket of George Floyd for a memorial service Thursday as mourners began a three-city farewell to the man who was anonymous in life but sparked global protests for justice in death.

The service unfolded at North Central University as a judge a few blocks away set bail at $750,000 each for the three fired Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting murder in his death.

Floyd, a 46-year-old out-of-work bouncer, died May 25 after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes as he lay handcuffed on the pavement, gasping that he couldn't breathe. Chauvin has been charged with murder, and he and the others could get up to 40 years in prison.


 George Floyd eulogized at Minneapolis memorial in first of three events


Leave Palestine out of Black Lives Matter. For now

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 23:09:24 +03:00

From slavery to civil war, and from segregation to civil rights, the United States has struggled with racism throughout its history. Black Americans still face systematic discrimination, abuse and injustice, on the streets and in the job market; segregation hasn't been overcome; and as the George Floyd killing demonstrated, arbitrary and aggressive policing means they have good reason to fear for their lives.

There are many parallels to draw between the experience of Black Americans and Palestinians living under oppressive conditions. Both communities experience systematic inequality, discrimination,  lack of justice, and fear of the police. We Palestinians, in common with African Americans, always feel like a target for the police; in any encounter, we must first justify our innocence. We are always asked to express our frustration "very carefully and reasonably" when everything we experience is unreasonable. Our necks have often been knelt on, too.

When I saw the video of George Floyd's terrible murder in Minneapolis, I was devastated and disgusted by the police officer's effrontery in committing such a crime in broad daylight. He knows he's being filmed, and while the poor victim is pleading for his life and witnesses warn that he can't breathe and then he has stopped moving, Derek Chauvin appears to be enjoying his lethal assault. When I saw the video I could not help but compare it to our daily life and remember the many stories of Palestinians physically abused and murdered in cold blood. 


 Leave Palestine out of Black Lives Matter. For now


Israeli police investigating uprooting of olive trees in West Bank village

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 23:09:00 +03:00

Israel Police is investigating the alleged May 14 uprooting of 36 olive trees in the West Bank village of Burin, near Nablus, which sits directly below the restive Israeli settlement of Yitzhar.

Council head Nidal Jamain Nagar told Haaretz this was the second time trees have been uprooted from this plot. In October 2019, 27 trees had been ripped out of the ground, he said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Jerusalem Prosecutor's Office indicted two Israelis, both 16, for destroying trees for alleged racial motives close to the Bat Ayin settlement, near Jerusalem, also on May 14. The charge sheet says they came to an olive grove in the evening and destroyed trees by sawing them and by breaking branches with their hands.


 Israeli police investigating uprooting of olive trees in West Bank village


Survey shows plunge in Israeli left-wing voters' confidence in courts

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 23:06:50 +03:00

Israeli left-wing voters' confidence in the court system has plummeted and is now equal to that of the right-wing voters, a Haifa University survey finds.

After a decade in which left-wing voters expressed a 44 percent confidence in the judiciary, their confidence has eroded since 2017 to 25 percent in 2020. In contrast, the public's confidence in the Supreme Court hasn't changed in the past decade, rating 65 percent among left wing voters and 25 percent among right wing voters.

The survey was conducted three months ago by Prof. Arye Rattner, head of the university's school of criminology and director of the Center for the Study of Crime, Law and Society. Rattner has been studying the public trust in Israel's law enforcement and justice systems since 2000.


 Survey shows plunge in Israeli left-wing voters' confidence in courts


For N.Y.C.'s Orthodox Jews, protests inspire solidarity but also raise First Amendment concerns

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 22:51:22 +03:00

As thousands of New Yorkers continue to take to the streets calling for racial justice following last week's killing of George Floyd, members of the Orthodox community are calling out Mayor Bill de Blasio on what they see as a œdouble standard.

They are asking why large-scale demonstrations are taking place despite restrictions still being in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic, while houses of worship are shuttered and after the Jewish community was singled out by de Blasio at the height of the outbreak for a perceived contravention of lockdown guidelines. Many, like the mayor, reject the comparison between the right to protest and the right to convene in religious institutions, but the position, voiced by some in the ultra-Orthodox community, highlights the growing divides between them and the city. 

œThe double standard is blatant and shocking, said Chaskel Bennett, co-founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. œFor months, we have seen our community come under unrelenting scrutiny by ˜gotcha' media coverage of Hasidic Jews not social distancing or wearing masks, while the overwhelming majority of religious Jews in New York City were doing all the right things.


 For N.Y.C.'s Orthodox Jews, protests inspire solidarity but also raise First Amendment concerns


Knesset shuts down after lawmaker contracts coronavirus

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 22:45:53 +03:00

All Knesset activities planned for Thursday were canceled after Joint List lawmaker Sami Abu Shehadeh announced early on Thursday that he had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. 

This comes as the country has seen an uptick in cases of the virus have risen in past days, sparking concern over a possible second wave to come.

Abu Shehadeh was tested for the virus after his driver contracted the disease. Following his own diagnosis, Abu Shehadeh and his staff entered isolation. In an interview Thursday morning on the Kan public broadcaster, the MK said that he has met thousands of people in the pasts two weeks.


 Knesset shuts down after lawmaker contracts coronavirus


Syrian state media reports Israeli airstrike; watchdog says nine killed

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 21:54:01 +03:00

Syrian state media reported on Thursday an Israeli airstrike over the northwestern Hama Province, in which, according to a Britain-based war monitor, nine people were killed, four of them Syrian.

The Observatory was unable to determine the affiliation of those said to be killed, but added they may be part of the regime forces or Iranian-backed militias.

In addition, the strikes targeted warehouses that belong to the Syrian defense industries, causing heavy damage, according to the war monitor. 


 Syrian state media reports Israeli airstrike; watchdog says nine killed


Three other Minneapolis police charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd murder

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 21:46:29 +03:00

Three Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting in the murder of George Floyd, a black man whose killing in police custody set off widespread protests, made their first court appearances on Thursday.

Their bail was set at $1 million.

The three officers are Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao. They were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.


 Three other Minneapolis police charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd murder


Family attacks 18-year-old with acid so she wouldn't do 'shameful things,' Israeli police suspect

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 21:42:02 +03:00

The police suspect an 18-year-old woman from northern Israel was attacked by her family by having acid thrown in her face. When she was hospitalized two weeks ago in serious condition, the family claimed she had tried to commit suicide.

When first questioned, the father denied attacking his daughter. According to the police, he later confessed, saying he had done so to make her ugly, so that others would not look at her and so she would not do œshameful things.

Her 17-year-old brother admitted that the father had poured the acid and that the two of them had beaten the woman.


 Family attacks 18-year-old with acid so she wouldn't do 'shameful things,' Israeli police suspect


Pelosi says unilateral Israeli annexation 'undermines U.S. national security interests'

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 21:19:32 +03:00

WASHINGTON House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that unilateral Israeli annexation of the West Bank would undermine American national security interests and would harm bi-partisan support for Israel in America.

Speaking at an online event organized by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Pelosi added that she is œvery concerned about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statements promising annexation moves as early as July 1. 

Pelosi also noted that House Democrats passed a resolution recently in support of the two-state solution, which includes opposition to any unilateral steps, from either Israel or the Palestinians, which would harm the prospect of peace.


 Pelosi says unilateral Israeli annexation 'undermines U.S. national security interests'


Chinese and Iranian hackers targeted Biden and Trump campaigns, Google says

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 20:43:51 +03:00

State-backed hackers from China have targeted staffers working on the U.S. presidential campaign of Joe Biden, a senior Google security official said Thursday. The same official said Iranian hackers had also recently targeted email accounts belonging to President Donald Trump's campaign staff.

The announcement, made on Twitter by the head of Google's Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley, is the latest indication of the digital spying routinely aimed at top politicians of all stripes.

Huntley said there was "no sign of compromise" of either campaign.


 Chinese and Iranian hackers targeted Biden and Trump campaigns, Google says


Ahmaud Arbery murder suspected used racial slur after shooting, investigator tells court

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 20:10:46 +03:00

One of the white men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia used a racial slur after shooting the unarmed black man and before police arrived at the scene, an investigator for the prosecution in the case told a court hearing on Thursday.

Special Agent Richard Dial of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation quoted William "Roddie" Bryan as saying Travis McMichael uttered the slur after shooting Ahmaud Arbery in February. Bryan and McMichael are both defendants in the case.

"Mr. Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival, while Mr. Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement: fucking nigger," Dial said in testimony to the court.


 Ahmaud Arbery murder suspected used racial slur after shooting, investigator tells court


Jordan to reopen hotels, cafes in further easing of coronavirus lockdown

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 19:59:18 +03:00

Jordan said on Thursday it would reopen hotels and cafes, allow sporting events without spectators and shorten a night curfew as of Saturday, further easing its coronavirus lockdown that has hit the aid-dependent economy.

But Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz told reporters that while Jordan had now returned to near normality, it would now toughen enforcement of social distancing to ensure there was no risk of a resurgence of infections.

Jordan has withstood the coronavirus pandemic better than most regional neighbors after taking early steps in mid-March to restrict the mobility of its 10 million people, sealing its borders, imposing a state of emergency and a night curfew.


 Jordan to reopen hotels, cafes in further easing of coronavirus lockdown


U.S. court rules Iran, Syria liable for attacks in Israel

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 18:50:27 +03:00

A U.S. court has ruled that Iran and Syria are liable for compensation for American citizens wounded and killed in a series of attacks by Palestinians in Israel, including the killing of a U.S. Army veteran.

Judge Randolph D. Moss in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Americans wounded and killed in seven attacks carried out by Palestinians were eligible for damages from Iran and Syria because they provided œmaterial support to militant groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The court has not yet determined the amount of the damages. The order was posted online Sunday by the federal courts.


 U.S. court rules Iran, Syria liable for attacks in Israel


U.S. veteran detained in Iran since 2018 freed in rare coordination with Tehran

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 18:49:00 +03:00

A U.S. Navy veteran detained in Iran since 2018 was freed on Thursday and was on his way back home, his family said in a statement, a rare instance of cooperation between Tehran and Washington despite their bitter relationship.

Michael White had been released from an Iranian prison in mid-March on medical furlough but was held in Iran under Swiss custody.

U.S. President Donald Trump lasted confirmed that White had now left Iranian airspace and should be home with his family very soon.


 U.S. veteran detained in Iran since 2018 freed in rare coordination with Tehran


After coronavirus freeze on demolitions, Israel tears down homes of 65 Palestinians

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 18:05:35 +03:00

The Israeli military on Wednesday tore down the homes of 65 Palestinians in the West Bank, marking the largest number of housing demolitions in one day since the coronavirus crisis began.

Israel's Civil Aministration, the branch of the military with authority over civilian matters in the West Bank, said in early April it would stop confiscating or demolishing inhabited structures deemed illegal until the end of the crisis.

Abu Dahuk said he and his young children were asleep when the army and the Civil Administration came to destroy the houses. "Imagine what it's like when a little boy is asleep and the army suddenly barges in. My little boy immediately panicked and asked what they were doing here. This is not a normal life for young children."


 After coronavirus freeze on demolitions, Israel tears down homes of 65 Palestinians


Police fire pepper spray during Hong Kong Tiananmen massacre memorials

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 17:36:39 +03:00

Police fired pepper spray at Hong Kong protesters on Thursday who were defying a ban to stage candlelit rallies in memory of China's 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy crackdown while accusing Beijing of stifling their freedoms too.

The scuffles broke out in the working-class Mong Kok district when demonstrators tried to set up roadblocks with metal barriers and officers used spray to disperse them, according to Reuters witnesses.

It was the first time there had been unrest during the annual Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong, which police had banned this year citing the coronavirus crisis.


 Police fire pepper spray during Hong Kong Tiananmen massacre memorials


Russia sends second batch of fighter jets to Syria, embassy says

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 17:29:52 +03:00

Russia flew a batch of advanced MiG-29 fighter jets to Syria, Moscow's embassy in Damascus said, with Syrian pilots already using the planes to conduct missions within the country's airspace.

President Vladimir Putin last week ordered Russia's foreign and defence ministries to hold talks with its close ally, Syria, to obtain more facilities and maritime access there, in addition to the two military bases it has already.

Russia's Embassy in Syria said on Twitter late on Wednesday that the latest batch of planes was for the Syrian military.


 Russia sends second batch of fighter jets to Syria, embassy says


Suddenly, Israel can almost compete with America's quality of life

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 17:26:55 +03:00

Between the protests in U.S. cities that have spilled into violence and the Trump administration's disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic, it's no surprise that more American Jews are wondering if Israel could offer a better life than what they have at home.

We won't know for another year or so. But even before the protests erupted, there were some faint signals of immigration getting onto the agenda.

According to the immigration organization Nefesh B'Nefesh, the number of North American Jews applying to make aliyah was up 50% in April compared with the same time last year, and the number of application form downloads was up 54%.


 Suddenly, Israel can almost compete with America's quality of life


Trump campaign already has a backup plan in case of full split with Twitter

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 17:25:17 +03:00

Should President Donald Trump and Twitter ultimately part ways, his campaign has a backup plan at the ready to get his voice out.

Tensions between Trump and the messaging platform escalated last week after Twitter began to label some of his tweets with a fact-check. Trump responded with an executive order that threatens to curtail some legal protections enjoyed by social media companies.

Trump's campaign has been building an alternative channel for him for months, a smartphone app that aims to become a one-stop news, information and entertainment platform for his supporters, in part because of concerns that the president would lose access to the Twitter platform, said his campaign manager, Brad Parscale.


 Trump campaign already has a backup plan in case of full split with Twitter


Snapchat removes Trump account from curated promotional section

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 17:25:05 +03:00

Snap Inc said it would no longer promote U.S. President Donald Trump's account in Snapchat's Discover section, saying his incendiary comments last week made the account ineligible for the curated section where users explore new content.

"We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover," the company said in a statement.

"Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America."


 Snapchat removes Trump account from curated promotional section


As coronavirus rages in Brazil, Bolsonaro's embrace of Israel puts Jews at risk

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 17:00:10 +03:00

Across the globe all manner of figures, from the political fringes to the mainstream, are flooding social media and TV shows with their take on why the coronavirus, fake or real, was concocted by the meddling Jew. It was Soros, it was the Mossad, it was the Rothschilds trying to tank the economy. Their posts feel like standing in a European town square during the Black Death.

But in Brazil, led by Jair Bolsonaro, a man more concerned with protecting his sons from a corruption probe than safeguarding his citizens from a global health crisis, you see a different manifestation.

It locks in from both sides of the political spectrum like a vice: From the left, Jews are deemed responsible for putting in power a petulant, authoritarian ignoramus who downplays a pandemic because he's incapable of dealing with it, while powerful voices from the right tell Jews that if they don't support Bolsonaro (who's "doing his best" to fight the coronavirus) then they "ain't Jewish." 


 As coronavirus rages in Brazil, Bolsonaro's embrace of Israel puts Jews at risk


Israeli president slams 'attempts to silence' debate around West Bank annexation

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 16:58:54 +03:00

President Reuven Rivlin called on Thursday for an end to what he called œattempts to silence the conversation around Israel's plans to annex parts of the West Bank, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu condemned statements by a prominent settler leader criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East plan.

œThe conversation about critical questions, like annexation, must take place, Rivlin said in a video uploaded to his Facebook page. œThis is the lifeblood of democracy. We must fear those who silence this discourse. Questions, doubts and criticism from all sides of the political spectrum must be heard, the president said, adding that œverbal abuse, labeling, scorn and disdain must end.

He brought up what he called the œattempts at silencing during the Oslo Accords and Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and said that he œremembers how difficult our work was to recover from that same brokenness. As a Likud lawmaker at the time, Rivlin opposed Israel's disengagement from its Gaza Strip settlements, an effort led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and worked to hinder it in the Knesset. 


 Israeli president slams 'attempts to silence' debate around West Bank annexation


What exactly is antifa? The movement Trump is blaming for U.S. violence

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 16:15:38 +03:00

U.S. President Donald Trump has blamed antifa activists for violence at protests over police killings of black people, but antifa isn't an organization and targeting it isn't so simple.

A look at what antifa is and is not:

WHAT IS ANTIFA?


 What exactly is antifa? The movement Trump is blaming for U.S. violence


Tripoli forces say they have ended siege of Libyan capital

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 16:05:42 +03:00

Forces allied with the UN-supported government in Libya said Thursday they have regained control of all of Tripoli's entrance and exit points after taking back the airport, and claimed that the siege by rival troops trying to capture the capital for over a year has effectively ended.

The announcement marks another defeat for the east-based Libyan Arab Armed Forces, led by commander Khalifa Hifter who has recently lost several strategic spots in western Libya. Just hours earlier, late on Wednesday, the Tripoli-allied troops said they had retaken Tripoli International Airport, which fell to Hifter's forces last year.

œIn these historic moments, we announce that all municipal boundaries of Tripoli have been liberated, Mohamed Gnono, spokesman for the Tripoli-allied forces, said in a video posted on the social media.


 Tripoli forces say they have ended siege of Libyan capital


Zoom With Us: Will COVID-19 permanently transform the relationship between U.S. Jews and Israel?

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 14:58:34 +03:00

On Sunday, June 7, Haaretz's Washington correspondent Amir Tibon will lead a special live video conversation with senior reporters Allison Kaplan Sommer and Judy Maltz about the coronavirus crisis, racial and civil unrest in the United States, anti-Semitism and the Israel-Diaspora relationship.

The call will take place at 9 P.M. Israel time, 2 P.M. EDT. Viewers can join the Zoom call and ask questions live at this link: https://zoom.us/j/98594119667

Viewers can also join the conversation live on the Haaretz.com Facebook page.


 Zoom With Us: Will COVID-19 permanently transform the relationship between U.S. Jews and Israel?


Russia, Egypt say Israeli annexation of West Bank will spark regional violence

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 14:45:06 +03:00

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Thursday that Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank will threaten the prospects for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict problem and could provoke a new and dangerous round of violence in the region, according to the Russian Foreign Minister's office.

"Discussing settlement issues in the Middle East, the ministers supported the invigoration of the concerted efforts of the international community, including the participants of the Quartet of international mediators and Arab League members, with a view to resuming direct Palestinian-Israeli talks under the UN aegis as soon as possible," the statement said. 

The comments come amid vast criticism of Israeli's plan to annex parts of the West Bank. This week alone, officials in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have spoken publicly against the move.


 Russia, Egypt say Israeli annexation of West Bank will spark regional violence


The great coronavirus reset: UAE eases restrictions, but normalcy may never return

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 14:36:53 +03:00

The citizens of the United Arab Emirates found out this week that restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus would be eased. From now on the country's curfew will be in effect from 10 P.M. until 6 A.M., excluding those who need to leave their homes to receive medical care or to buy medicine or food.

Any departure from home requires a special permit, which can be obtained over the internet, and anyone violating the curfew can be fined the equivalent of about $800.

Flights abroad from the UAE have been permitted since May 21, to nine countries, among them Australia, Britain, France, Germany and Canada. On July 1, service is slated to begin to 12 other countries, but that depends upon where things at the time with regard to the spread of the virus.


 The great coronavirus reset: UAE eases restrictions, but normalcy may never return


Moon god stele discovered at sacred High Place in northern Israel

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 14:06:29 +03:00

In the year 920 B.C.E., give or take a few years, the faithful in a fortified town in the Golan Heights could evidently see it coming: an invasion force that threatened to overcome the walls and vanquish them. Quaking in terror, presumably, it seems they carefully dismantled the icons in their sacred High Place lest the marauders give them the usual treatment of conquerors and contemptuously shatter the sacred images.

Almost 3,000 years later, archaeologists excavating the site the local Arabs called e-Tell and the team called œBethsaida found a rare stele of the powerful Mesopotamian moon god lying on its face, hiding the potentially provocative image.

In fact, what they did in the summer digging season of 2019 at the site of e-Tell, on the banks of the Jordan River a couple of kilometers north of the Sea of Galilee, was to turn over œan unassuming basalt stone that had been uncovered a few years back but left untouched. It had served mainly for the excavation volunteers to sit on and eat popsicles in the baking summer heat. The stone, some 70 centimeters tall by about 45 centimeters wide and some 15 centimeters thick (some 27 inches tall, 18 inches wide and 6 inches thick), was one of many resting by the corner of an ancient fortification tower. And when they turned it over, there was the image adored throughout the Levant and Mesopotamia in the Iron Age of the moon god.


 Moon god stele discovered at sacred High Place in northern Israel


East Jerusalem Palestinians say right-wing group using land trust to displace them

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 14:04:14 +03:00

Dozens of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood have petitioned the High Court of Justice, claiming that the right-wing Ateret Cohanim organization is using a land trust to overtake property there that houses 700 Palestinians, some of whom are facing eviction.

According to the petition, the Charitable Trust Registrar helped the organization acquire control over a historic land trust (hekdesh) in the Batan al-Hawa section of Silwan, which had been founded in Jerusalem 120 years ago to benefit the city's poor. This control has made Ateret Cohanim the de facto owner of the land and in August the eviction of several Palestinian families is expected to begin. 

The Moshe Benvenisti Trust was registered with Jerusalem's Sharia court in 1899, when the area was still under Ottoman rule. The trust was founded by Jewish philanthropists, and it built structures in Silwan to house poor immigrants from Yemen. During the Arab riots in 1938, the residents, pressured by the British mandatory government, abandoned the enclave. The buildings the Jews had lived in were demolished and years later local Arabs built their own neighborhood at the site, called Batan al-Hawa, where 700 people now live.


 East Jerusalem Palestinians say right-wing group using land trust to displace them


Three far-right extremists charged for plotting to terrorize Las Vegas protests

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 13:46:40 +03:00

Three Nevada men with ties to a loose movement of right-wing extremists advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in what authorities say was a conspiracy to spark violence during recent protests in Las Vegas.

Federal prosecutors say the three white men with U.S. military experience are accused of conspiring to carry out a plan that began in April in conjunction with protests to reopen businesses closed because of the coronavirus.

Read more: ˜Boogaloo' Explained: How a '80s Movie Turned Into a Far-right Code for Civil War 


 Three far-right extremists charged for plotting to terrorize Las Vegas protests


'We met on a Birthright trip to Israel and fell in love instantly'

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 13:45:53 +03:00

Zhenya Dvidova, 21, and Yevgeny Ofer, 23; live in Ramat Gan, Zhenya is flying to Kiev

Where are you coming to the airport from?

Zhenya: From Ramat Gan. We're a couple, Zhenya and I.


 'We met on a Birthright trip to Israel and fell in love instantly'


'Boogaloo' explained: How an '80s movie turned into a far-right code for civil war

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 13:17:14 +03:00

As American politicians on the left and right accuse different groups for the violence engulfing U.S. protests over the killing of George Floyd, one far-right movement in particular continues to make headlines: the so-called Boogaloo Bois.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his attorney general, Bill Barr, have insisted that the far-left Antifa œmovement is stoking the violence, with Trump vowing Sunday to label the antifascists a terrorist organization (although it's unclear who exactly, or by what legal mechanism).

Conversely, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted Saturday that his city  the epicenter of the current wave of protests, and where Floyd was killed last week is œnow confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out of state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region.


 'Boogaloo' explained: How an '80s movie turned into a far-right code for civil war


The 100 Best Companies to Work for in Israel

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 12:56:03 +03:00

The second most-important parameter was the combination of salary and benefits. Following that we find that the Israeli employee cared about satisfaction with the boss, self-fulfillment, and professional challenge and only then job security, which came in sixth place, as befits a generation that doesn't plan to spend decades at any one workplace. The stability of the company was the least important parameter.

œIt was clear that this period was a test for us as an organization, Eyal Dror, the CEO of food manufacturer Strauss Israel, says of the coronavirus crisis. œThe theme that guided us was to get through the crisis with all our workers, because this would be the basis for emerging from the crisis.

As a matter of principle, Strauss, No. 6 on the list, kept all its workers on the payroll as of April, furloughing only ones who requested it. Arguably, Strauss' decision was an easy one given that it makes food; if anything demand for food products soared as people hoarded ahead of during lockdown. But Strauss is actually a group of companies that includes Strauss Water, Elite Coffee kiosks and more. Altogether, fewer than 100 employees were put on unpaid leave during the height of the pandemic lockdown.


 The 100 Best Companies to Work for in Israel


Arrests at widespread U.S. protests hit 10,000

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 12:50:55 +03:00

More than 10,000 people have been arrested in protests decrying racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death, according to an Associated Press tally of known arrests across the U.S.

The count has grown by the hundreds each day as protesters spilled into the streets and encountered a heavy police presence and curfews that give law enforcement stepped-up arrest powers.

Los Angeles has had about a quarter of the national arrests, followed by New York, Dallas and Philadelphia. Many of the arrests have been for low-level offenses such as curfew violations and failure to disperse. Hundreds were arrested on burglary and looting charges.


 Arrests at widespread U.S. protests hit 10,000


Erdogan hosts Libya PM as Turkey looks to lock in gains

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 12:36:47 +03:00

Libya's internationally recognised leader will meet President Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey on Thursday as the allies seek to lock in recent gains on the battlefield near Tripoli ahead of a new round of talks on a potential ceasefire.

Turkey began providing military support to Fayez al Serraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) in November after signing a military cooperation pact alongside a maritime demarcation deal, which gives Ankara exploration rights in the Mediterranean that Greece and others reject.

In recent months, Turkish support in the conflict has pushed back Khalifa Haftar's eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) - backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt - which had been attacking the GNA in Tripoli since April 2019.


 Erdogan hosts Libya PM as Turkey looks to lock in gains


Florida begins Phase 2 reopening same day it registers most new virus cases since mid-April

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 12:31:05 +03:00

Florida bars, bowling alleys and theme parks will be part of the next phase of reopening the state in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, Florida had more than 58,700 coronavirus cases and more than 2,500 related deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Wednesday's total of  1,317 new cases is Florida's largest since April 17, when it had a daily total of 1,413 new cases. 


 Florida begins Phase 2 reopening same day it registers most new virus cases since mid-April


Rumor that L.A. Chabad is fueling antifa gets brief White House amplification

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 12:10:55 +03:00

A Los Angeles synagogue found itself having to deny misinformation about the George Floyd protests after a rumor spread ” and was briefly amplified by the White House ” that its security barriers were actually tools for looters.

Chabad of Sherman Oaks installed vertical barriers filled with rocks last year in a move aimed at increasing security. The barriers, called bollards, are meant to stop people from ramming vehicles into people and buildings.

But when unrest moved through Los Angeles this week, so did rumors that the rocks were actually planted to provide supplies for looters. Even after the synagogue dismantled the barriers and rebutted the rumors, the White House amplified the misinformation in a video that it tweeted and deleted Wednesday afternoon.


 Rumor that L.A. Chabad is fueling antifa gets brief White House amplification


Two New York police shot and wounded, one knifed, while on duty to stop looting

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 11:40:47 +03:00

A man armed with a knife stabbed a New York policeman in the neck on Wednesday and two officers who ran to his rescue were wounded before they shot the attacker multiple times, police said.

All four were taken to Kings County Hospital where the police were in stable condition and the suspect was in critical condition, police said.

The attack in Brooklyn came amid mass protests and some rioting in New York over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while in the custody of white police officers.


 Two New York police shot and wounded, one knifed, while on duty to stop looting


˜More dangerous than coronavirus!': Egypt really doesn't want you to listen to this song

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 10:41:26 +03:00

On Valentine's Day this year, the rising Egyptian musicians Hassan Shakosh and Omar Kamal performed their new song, œThe Neighbor's Daughter, at the Cairo Stadium. The next day Egyptian government denounced the song and a few days later banned it completely. While about it Cairo also banned the entire genre of electronic dance music in Egypt known as œMahraganat.

œIt's more dangerous than the coronavirus!, one official said, a quote that made headlines in Egypt. All this was because of a single line in the song: œI drink alcohol and I smoke hashish.

Three months after the ban on Mahraganat was imposed in February, œThe neighbor's daughter has surpassed 300 million views on YouTube (including quite a few in Israel). The ban, one suspects, backfired.


 ˜More dangerous than coronavirus!': Egypt really doesn't want you to listen to this song


Mattis blasts Trump for ordering troops to 'violate the constitution'

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 10:17:55 +03:00

WASHINGTON As the wave of protests over the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota entered its sixth day, U.S. President Donald Trump is facing a new source of strong criticism '  this time from former senior military commanders, most prominent among them his own former Secretary of Defense, retired General James Mattis.

In a statement first published by Atlantic Magazine, Mattis accused Trump of actively trying to sow division among Americans. œDonald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people ' does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us, Mattis explained.

Before the U.S. invasion of Normandy, Mattis noted, American soldiers were reminded that œThe Nazi slogan for destroying us¦was ˜Divide and Conquer.' Our American answer is ˜In Union there is Strength.' Mattis said that Americans must now "summon that unity to surmount this crisis”confident that we are better than our politics."


 Mattis blasts Trump for ordering troops to 'violate the constitution'


How Turkey's Libya foray can backfire, and the Israeli dilemma

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 09:37:49 +03:00

œMavi Vatan isn't a slogan meant to entice tourists to return to Turkey's beautiful beaches. The phrase, which means œBlue Homeland, refers to a Turkish doctrine that was in place until 2006. It was revived last year when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan displayed a map of Turkey's strategic expansion across three seas.

Erdogan was speaking of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black seas. But Turkey's aspirations evidently go beyond that; it's now also eyeing the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.

It's in this context that the current hot war in Libya must be viewed. Turkey, in conjunction with Qatar, has opened a military front there in support of the recognized government led by Fayez Sarraj. They are facing off against separatist leader Khalifa Hifter, who is supported by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France.


 How Turkey's Libya foray can backfire, and the Israeli dilemma


Abbas wants annexation

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 08:50:21 +03:00

There is one person who can stop Israel from annexing settlements and large swathes of the West Bank, which is scheduled to happen on July 1, and that is Mahmoud Abbas. It wouldn't require much effort on the Palestinian president's part. All he needs to do is call, text or email the White House to request a meeting with President Donald Trump at which he announces his willingness to resume peace talks with Israel on the basis of the œdeal of the century. After a message like that, Trump will almost certainly ask Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze the annexation and enter into negotiations for a detailed final status accord, at the end of which a Palestinian state would be established.

But Abbas is settling for issuing the usual denouncements of Israel and the United States and the same old empty threats about œceasing security cooperation in the West Bank. He shows no sign, not a hint, no willingness to return to the negotiating table in return for halting the annexation. Israeli and American officials are drawing up a map of the territory to be annexed from the West Bank to Israel without involving any Palestinian in the discussion, and Abbas doesn't care. He will only study the map after it is completed and published, rather than request consideration from the outset.

Hold on a minute, the critics will say, what are you talking about? Let's start with the criticism on the left, which says that Palestinian consent to any discussion of the œdeal of the century, even to just a photo op of Abbas with Trump or Netanyahu, would amount to an appalling national humiliation. These critics will argue that the plan serves Israel's interests and barely leaves any crumbs for the Palestinians, and will justify the indifference and intransigence from Ramallah in the name of honor. Well, and what is the Palestinians' situation right now, with the international community preoccupied with the coronavirus, the economic crisis, and the clash between the U.S. and China? The international community has forgotten them under Israeli occupation and moved on.


 Abbas wants annexation


How can the world's stock markets be rallying as a pandemic rages?

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 08:27:33 +03:00

A recent cover of The Economist featured a city map broke by a deep chasm separating Wall Street from Main Street with the headline œA Dangerous Gap: The Markets Versus the Real Economy. The magazine was calling attention to the fact that global stock markets have been rallying while the world economy is still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus.

The gap has emerged in Israel, too. The main share indices on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange have risen 20% to 30% since their low on March 23. The index of inflation-linked government bonds has climbed 11% and the shekel bond index by 4%. Both are now close to their pre-pandemic highs. Meanwhile, the shekel has recovered nearly all its coronavirus losses against the dollar. 

Meanwhile, the real economy is facing a massive recession. Gross domestic product dropped at a 7.1% annual rate in the first quarter. Consumer spending was down at a 20% rate, investment down 17% and exports 9.5% lower. Unemployment (including people on unpaid leave) soared to 30% and that number is expected to remain at an elevated 10% through the end of the year.  


 How can the world's stock markets be rallying as a pandemic rages?


Health Ministry is only seeing the tip of Israel's coronavirus iceberg

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 06:53:45 +03:00

Thirty years as a business journalist has taught us that when a spokesperson doesn't respond to a request for comment, it can only mean one of two things: He or she is avoiding us because the questions we're asking are too challenging, or ignoring us because he or she has no idea how to respond.

You can guess which of the two applies after we failed to elicit a response from the Health Ministry to the following simple questions: How many coronavirus tests were conducted at Jerusalem's Gymnasia high school? How many of these tests came back positive? How many of the people who tested positive for the virus had no symptoms? 

It could be that the Health Ministry doesn't like us and that's why it didn't respond. That's OK. We're not offended. We'll just engage in some public shaming for their failure to do their the job correctly. But it is more likely that it isn't about liking us and more about not having the data to begin with. Or that it does have the data but is embarrassed to release it because it would show that the ministry's entire testing philosophy is wrong.


 Health Ministry is only seeing the tip of Israel's coronavirus iceberg


Haaretz cartoon

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 06:38:51 +03:00

 Haaretz cartoon


Teaching racism

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 06:33:16 +03:00

Racism against blacks is not unique to the United States; in Petah Tikva, the school doors are slammed shut to children of African asylum seekers. The city continues to flout the law, to disregard the Education Ministry, the courts, the children's right to an education, and the whole country's obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a signatory, to recognize the rights of foreigners' children.

The Petah Tikva municipality is again preventing children of asylum seekers from registering for preschools and elementary schools in the city. Consequently, 130 parents from the community of asylum seekers in Petah Tikva turned to the University of Haifa's Clinic for Law and Educational Policy.

They say the city is not placing their children in schools even though the registration process began in January. Israeli children have already received their school placements for the coming year, while the Eritrean children have not.


 Teaching racism


Trump's U.S. conflagration makes Netanyahu's annexation riskier and shadier

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 05:09:14 +03:00

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jewish settler leaders on Tuesday that the U.S. position on Israel's proposed annexation of territories in the West Bank œisn't in the same place it was five months ago, when President Donald Trump unveiled his œDeal of the Century at the White House. Netanyahu refused to elaborate further, the reports stated, but he didn't really need to: Nothing is in the same place that it was five months ago.

When Trump's dangerously dilettantish œPeace to Prosperity plan was launched amid fanfare at the White House on January 28, the coronavirus was but a speck on America's radar. Trump had just proclaimed, œWe have it totally under control... It's going to be just fine. A day earlier, he had publicly thanked President Xi Jinping for œChina's effort and transparency.

In the five months that have gone by, the United States has been ravaged by a plague that took over 100,000 American lives, many of them because of Trump's recklessness and his administration's incompetence. The hitherto robust U.S. economy, Trump's pride and joy, is in a tailspin, with over 40 million unemployed.


 Trump's U.S. conflagration makes Netanyahu's annexation riskier and shadier


Israeli gaming firm Playtika eyes $1 billion American IPO

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 03:27:31 +03:00

Playtika, the mobile gaming company owned by a Chinese investor group and based in Israel, has hired investment banks to prepare for a U.S. initial public offering that could raise around $1 billion, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

Playtika has hired Morgan Stanley and other banks to underwrite the IPO and is aiming to go public later this year or early in 2021, the sources said, cautioning that the timing, valuation and deal size are subject to market conditions.

Known for its casino-themed games and which also operates apps for poker and solitaire, Playtika could be valued at around $10 billion in the IPO, the sources added. They requested anonymity, citing confidentiality. Playtika and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.


 Israeli gaming firm Playtika eyes $1 billion American IPO


Israel Police tell anti-annexation activists not to promote protest on Facebook

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 01:27:09 +03:00

>> UPDATE: Police say anti-annexation rally can't be held in major Tel Aviv square

The police are forbidding organizers of a demonstration against Isreal's alleged plan to annex parts of the West Bank from holding the protest, arguing that it would contravene reinstated coronavirus regulations.

They have also asked demonstrators to limit Facebook announcements of upcoming rallies in order to put a damper on the number of participants.


 Israel Police tell anti-annexation activists not to promote protest on Facebook


Nine schools in five cities closed in Israel after pupils contract COVID-19

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 01:17:46 +03:00

Nine schools across the country were closed on Wednesday after pupils there contracted COVID-19. The Ministry of Education reported that 2,000 pupils and staff members were placed in quarantine or told to self-isolate, bringing the total number of people under quarantine in connection to schools to 6,831. According to the ministry, there are currently 244 pupils and staff with confirmed COVID-19.

Three schools in Tel Aviv Hatarden, Hagalil and Keshet closed their doors and will move to a remote teaching mode by Friday, after one pupil in each of these schools was found to be sick with the coronavirus. Two high schools in Bat Yam Milton and Shazar were closed after three people were found to be sick with COVID-19. All pupils in these schools have been placed under quarantine. One pupil in Be'er Sheva was found to be sick as well, leading to the closing of the Gimmel comprehensive school she attended.

The multi-disciplinary school in Hadera was also closed after two more pupils were found to be sick, in addition to a pupil and a teacher. The school's 2,196 pupils, 217 teachers and 33 administrative staff were instructed to go into quarantine. Two schools were closed down in Jerusalem as well: the Seligsberg high school, with two sick pupils, and the Zalman Aran school, where the number of sick pupils rose to three.


 Nine schools in five cities closed in Israel after pupils contract COVID-19


Israel's schools revert to some distance learning amid spike in coronavirus cases

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 00:38:07 +03:00

The Education Ministry has given secondary school principals the freedom to employ distance learning in addition to classroom instruction as they see fit. But it hasn't issued guidelines in writing on providing instruction to students at home, through technologies such as videoconferencing, apparently to avoid a possible clash with the Finance Ministry.

The Finance Ministry declined to provide a response for this article.

The new policy comes amid concern over a recent spike in coronavirus cases at schools around the country that has shuttered a number of them.


 Israel's schools revert to some distance learning amid spike in coronavirus cases


Israeli university in West Bank fires vice president over scholarship-for-kickbacks claim

Wed, 3 Jun 2020 23:53:47 +03:00

The official in charge of donor relations at Ariel University was fired this week after the West Bank institution determined that he promised to obtain a generous scholarship for a medical student in exchange for part of the stipend.

Yakov Gaon had served for three years as vice president for development and external affairs, the office responsible for fundraising and donor relations at AU.

University heads had sought to quash publicity about the incident, which involved a few of Ariel's biggest donors. They included the Falic family, which operates the Duty Free Americas chain of airport stores, and Dr. Miriam Adelson. She and her casino-magnate husband Sheldon Adelson are the main benefactors of the university's new medical school, which bears their name.


 Israeli university in West Bank fires vice president over scholarship-for-kickbacks claim


Netanyahu condemns settler leader who said Trump is 'not a friend of Israel'

Wed, 3 Jun 2020 22:23:01 +03:00

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "fiercely condemned" Wednesday statements made by a major settler leader about U.S. President Donald Trump and his senior adviser Jared Kushner's Middle East Peace Plan.

"President Trump is a great friend of the State of Israel," he said. "He has led historic processes for the good of the State of Israel, among them recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capitol, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the legality of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria."

Trump's Middle East plan, Netanyahu added, "includes recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, Israeli security control of all territory west of the Jordan River, a united Jerusalem, disarming Hamas, preventing refugees from entering Israel and more.  Sadly," he added, "instead of recognizing the good, there are those who deny this friendship."   


 Netanyahu condemns settler leader who said Trump is 'not a friend of Israel'


Charges raised on officer, three more charged in killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis

Wed, 3 Jun 2020 22:15:11 +03:00

Prosecutors are charging a Minneapolis police officer accused of pressing his knee against George Floyd's neck with second-degree murder, and for the first time will level charges against three other officers at the scene, the Star Tribune newspaper reported Wednesday.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired May 26 and initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers involved were also fired but were not immediately charged. Second-degree murder the new charge can carry a sentence of up to 40 years, 15 years longer than the maximum sentence for third-degree murder.

The Star Tribune reported citing multiple sources reported that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison would be upgrading the charge against Chauvin while also charging Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao with aiding and abetting murder.


 Charges raised on officer, three more charged in killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis


For the settlers in the West Bank, it will never be enough

Wed, 3 Jun 2020 21:44:36 +03:00

The settlers aren't happy. People say that they're even aggrieved. Their meeting with the prime minister on Tuesday was described as œvery emotional. How heartrending.

How could he do this to them? Haven't they suffered enough? The annexation plan isn't good enough for them. Nineteen settlements may be left out. Out of what? Out of the land that is totally theirs. Out of the Jewish people's state. And what will be with their idealistic residents? Where will they go? A national disaster is looming and one's heart is shattered.

Benjamin Netanyahu did the right thing by hastening to agree to the urgent meeting, and also promised that annexation would not be linked to the Trump plan; as for a Palestinian state, there's of course nothing to talk about. Still, they are aggrieved. It is pretty justified, if not totally justified. Only the hardhearted can't empathize. There is no prime minister that hasn't held urgent meetings with them. There's no other sector of society that's so consistently had the ear of the prime minister, every prime minister. They are the terror of Balfour Street for generations.


 For the settlers in the West Bank, it will never be enough


Trump, Kushner 'not friends of Israel': Settler leader escalates rhetoric over Mideast plan

Wed, 3 Jun 2020 19:02:05 +03:00

A prominent Israeli settler leader told Haaretz on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump and his senior adviser Jared Kushner "have proven in their plan that they are not friends of the State of Israel," responding to calls by American officials to restrain the Israeli right's opposition to the White House's œMiddle East Peace Plan.

Over the past few weeks, American officials have conveyed to settler leaders that their vocal criticism of Trump's plan might lead them to shelf it altogether, dubbing their response ungrateful. This followed a public campaign led by the Yesha Council of West Bank settlements, rejecting the prospect of a future Palestinian state as delineated in the American proposal.

Trump and Kushner "do not have Israel's security and settlement interests in mind. All they care about in this outline is promoting their own interests ahead of the upcoming election, help Trump," Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani argued.


 Trump, Kushner 'not friends of Israel': Settler leader escalates rhetoric over Mideast plan


'We don't need to import Minneapolis': Israeli minister urges calm over police killing of autistic Palestinian

Wed, 3 Jun 2020 18:15:39 +03:00

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana urged the public not to turn to violence on Wednesday amid anger over the fatal shooting of the unarmed, special needs Palestinian man Eyad Hallaq by police in Jerusalem's Old City.

œWe don't need to import Minneapolis, said Ohana, referencing the focal point of unrest across the United States over the past week over the killing of  George Floyd by police in the Minnesota city.

Hundreds protested on Tuesday in several cities across Israel and the West Bank against police brutality, with four activists detained in Jerusalem.


 'We don't need to import Minneapolis': Israeli minister urges calm over police killing of autistic Palestinian


Trump denies he was rushed to the White House bunker, claims it was for an 'inspection'

Wed, 3 Jun 2020 18:05:05 +03:00

U.S. President Donald Trump denied reports on Wednesday that he was rushed to the White House bunker by the Secret Service as protests continued outside the White House Friday night, insisting that he was instead doing it to carry out an "inspection."

œI went down during the day, and I was there for a tiny little short period of time, and it was much more for an inspection. There was no problem during the day, Trump told Fox Radio's œBrian Kilmeade Show.

œIt was a false report. I wasn't down, Trump added. 


 Trump denies he was rushed to the White House bunker, claims it was for an 'inspection'






US  US NO






Peace demonstrations in the US October 26-28 2007
29.10 - 2007

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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!