Bulgarian church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for saving Jews – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Metropolitan Kirill (C), deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, blesses during a Christmas Eve mass in Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Bulgarian-Israeli lawyer Moshe Aloni is seeking support for a campaign to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church, for protecting the country’s Jewish minority during the Holocaust.

Aloni, head of the Committee for Friendship between the Israeli and Bulgarian Advocates, nominated the church in January for its “brave acts of heroism” including voting unanimously to condemn antisemitic laws during World War II and for going against planned deportation of the country’s 48,000 Jews to Nazi death camps in Europe.

In a letter sent to The Jerusalem Post last week, Aloni noted that while the campaign had garnered support from Europe and the US, he sought to gain awareness from the Israeli public.

A petition launched last year on Change.org in support of this cause had, as of Sunday, gained 740 signatures of a target of 1,000.

The petition notes that while the Bulgarian government was an ally of Nazi Germany, the church showed bravery and leadership by fighting against antisemitic laws. It makes specific mention of two clergymen: Metropolitan (Bishop) Stephan, the head of the Sofian Church, and the highest ranking Bulgarian Church official during the Holocaust, and Metropolitan Kiril, the head of the Church in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

The pair was named as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2001, for vigorously opposing the anti-Jewish policies of the Bulgarian regime, and taking active steps against its policy of deporting the Jews of Bulgaria and handing them over to the Germans.

Kiril is said to have saved the 1,500 Jews of the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, who were set to be deported in March 1943. According to Yad Vashem, Kiril sent a personal telegram to the King begging for his mercy towards the Jews, and contacted the head of the local police, threatening to end his loyalty towards to Bulgaria and to act as he wished. Further testimony claims that he threatened to lie across the railway tracks in order to stop the deportation.

Due to the heroic acts of these two prominent leaders and their willingness to speak up and take action, the deportation of the Jews of Bulgaria was postponed again and again until it was finally cancelled with the end of the war, wrote Aloni in his letter to the Nobel Committee.

Aloni, who was himself born in Sofia, mentions that he and his family are among those are alive today thanks to the “heroism of the Bulgarian church and other brave citizens.”

“The nomination of the Bulgarian Church has most relevance in these days filled with hate and racism and modern day ethnic cleansing,” Aloni concludes.

The petition is sponsored by former minister General (R) Dr Ephraim Sneh and Haifa University law professor Moshe Keshet.

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Iran’s FM Accuses Netanyahu of ‘Falsifying Torah,’ Resorting to ‘Fake History’ – Haaretz

Rejecting Netanyahu’s Purim analogy, Javad Zarif says Iran saved Jews three times in history.

A day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared between the story of the Jewish holiday of Purim and the threat posed by Iran, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javed Zarif responded by accusing him of “falsifying Torah” and resorting to “fake history.”

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu tweeted a video from the ceremonial reading of the Book of Esther from his local synagogue in Cesaria. In the video, Netanyahu tells the story of Purim to young children. “In Persia, they wanted to kill us but it didn’t work,” Netanyahu said. “Today, too, Persians are trying to destroy us, but today, too, it will not work.”

Netanyahu made similar comments during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. After Putin wished Jews in Israel and in Russia a happy Purim, Netanyahu told him that 2,500 years ago, ancient Persia tried to destroy the Jewish people, but failed, and that’s why Jews mark the holiday of Purim.

“Today there is an attempt and the continuation of Persia, Iran, to destroy the Jewish state,” Netanyahu added.

On Sunday evening, Zarif’s response arrived in the form of a tweet: “To sell bigoted lies against a nation which has saved Jews three times, Netanyahu resorting to fake history & falsifying Torah. Force of habit.”

“The Book of Esther tells how Xerxes I saved Jews by a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite,” he wrote, adding that “again, during the time of Cyrus the Great, an Iranian king saved the Jews this time from captivity in Babylon; and during the Second World War, when Jews were being slaughtered in Europe, Iran gladly took them in.”

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Korean crisis raises stakes of US-Israel missile cooperation – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Kim Jong-un, North Korea leader. (photo credit:KNS / KCNA / AFP)

WASHINGTON Meeting with senior Trump administration officials in Washington last week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman twice referenced the growing threat posed by North Koreas missile programs preoccupying the White House in its first days on the job.

Liberman described to US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson an axis of evil stretching from Tehran to Pyongyang, according to the Defense Ministry a striking reference to a past time, the era of president George W. Bush, in which Irans military cooperation with North Korea was said to have peaked. American security cooperation with Israel once again has implications beyond the Middle East, the ministry added.

The US and Israel have worked together for years to mitigate missile threats from Iran and North Korea, which have in turn worked jointly to advance their programs.

But Washingtons cooperation with Jerusalem has been fraught with complications that naturally come with the territory of missile defense.

While offensive missile technology can be easily exported, missile defense technology is threat-specific. It is unclear whether Israels response programs to its unique threat landscape are transferable to the US or its allies in the Asia-Pacific region, which face a multitude of missile challenges from an enemy already nuclear-armed.

The question of transferability has led to tensions over funding after Israel began drawing nearly 10% of the Pentagons own missile defense budget since its war with Hamas in Gaza in 2014. During negotiations over a new decade-long defense package with Israel in 2016, Obama administration officials suggested its own Missile Defense Agency was running dry of resources to conduct research for the unique intercontinental threats facing the US homeland.

Israels program provides the US with some clear strategic benefits: It is one of the few battlefields in the world in which missile defense programs have actually been tested, and may reasonably face future tests. And the Jewish state shares with the Pentagon much of the technology it produces with US parts using US contractors.

The question is whether Israels short, intermediate and long-range programs intended to diminish threats from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran can be of practical use to South Korea, Japan and the US as they seek to mitigate a decreasingly stable North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.

The transferability of Israels programs in addition to proof of Iranian collusion with North Korea, still unseen might in the eyes of its advocates in Washington justify an increase in US aid beyond what was ultimately detailed in Obamas defense package.

Under that agreement, Israel obligated itself not to ask for more funds and even to hand back the check should Congress offer more money than the deal prescribes.

The MoU guarantees $5 billion in US aid for Israels missile defense over the next decade. Israel may ask for additional emergency funding only in the case of war, Jacob Nagel, Israels acting national security adviser, said during the signing ceremony in September.

The figure is large, but broken down into annual sums amounts to less than what Israel received in recent years a statistic not lost on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is considering whether or not to lobby for more aid ahead of its annual policy conference in Washington next week.

Some Republican leaders in Congress say they are prepared to write in more funding for Israels missile defense than the MoU allows and believe that President Donald Trump would sign off on it. But Jerusalem may treat the agreement as inviolable: Some Israeli officials fear that breaking the framework and increasing aid this year would open the door to future aid decreases.

Immediately following Trumps inauguration, a new White House website floated his intention to fund state of the art missile defense programs to counter threats from Iran and North Korea. He has since proposed the largest defense budget increase in modern American history and began campaigning against sequestration cuts that have crippled growth at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis suggested the US put together a combined air missile defense capability for our Gulf allies in order to deter Irans increasingly sophisticated program. He advocated for increased investments in the Pentagons ICBM and missile defense programs.

The Trump administration is actively exploring ways to foster Israeli-Arab cooperation against Iran, which it hopes will blossom into greater normalization of ties.

At the same hearing, Mattis was asked what the new administration could do to improve its strategy on the Korean Peninsula.

It is going to take an international effort, Mattis said.

While Israels role in this research is not yet clear, Libermans decision to incorporate North Korea into his discussions in Washington might signal Israels willingness to expand the scope of its missile defense work to incorporate the needs of Americas allies in Asia.

Its entirely unclear where were going yet, but the Israelis are looking to rebuild ties and Id think they would be very willing to demonstrate their value to the Pentagon, said Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. As this relationship is starting off, I think the Israelis would be remiss if they didnt raise North Korea as part of their threat matrix, given what the US is looking at.

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Purim Parody: New ambassadors confused by alphabet soup of Jewish organizations – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Israel US flags. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Global Jewish Association, the Jewish Council of Federative Conferences, the Israel Association of Jewish Jerusalem Rabbis, the Association for Jewish Activism, the Jewish Leadership United Council, the United Council for Jewish Leadership, the Universal Jewish Israeli Experience, and those are just a few of them, says a newly appointed ambassador from a south Asian state. He wasnt the only one confused by a recent spate of conferences and meetings held in Jerusalem.

I cant keep them all straight, a European diplomat from central Europe confided.

We had the Presidents Conference, the General Assembly, theres a conference at the IDC and another security conference and then we had something else, I cant even recall them all, and thats just in January. Why are there so many organizations? An emissary from the Vatican complained that he had recently received requests for meetings from 45 different organizations all claiming to represent American Jews.

I know there are six million Jews in America and we deeply respect the Jewish people, but why are there so many organizations that seem to overlap and represent them? One of them comes and says the Vatican should do more to recognize the Holocaust and then another one comes and congratulates for what weve done and gives us an award, one of them says a certain historical pope is an antisemite and another says he deserves accolades. We dont understand.

Ive been to seven conferences in the last week and heard the same former army generals speak at all of them, says a new ambassador from a Scandinavian country.

How many former generals are there? he wonders.

How many times can they give the same speech about Gaza and Iran and Syria? I mean we get it, right. Hezbollah, Hamas, bad.

Egypt, Jordan and Saudi are all part of the Israeli anti-Iran alliance.

Okay. So why do we have to keep going to the same meetings on the same topics, where nothing gets done?

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Purim Provides a Guide for American Jews on How to Fight anti-Semitism – Haaretz

The heroes of Purim stood proudly as Jews. They worked with the non-Jews around them, especially those in power, and together they defeated those who conspired against them.

This Sunday we Jews will eat hamentaschen (triangular pastries), drink wine, and shake groggers (noisemakers) to celebrate Judaisms most fun holiday: Purim.

Yet, underneath all this frivolity, Purim is essentially about Jewish confrontation with anti-Semitism. In different historical contexts, anti-Semites from Haman to Pharaoh to Hitler have extended anti-Semitism to its ultimate expressiongenocide, the extermination of the Jewish people.

Purim strikes a particularly somber note this year. Many Jews had come to believe that anti-Semitism had largely subsided in the US. From an attitudinal perspective this may well be true:

According to Pew Foundation studies (most recent survey January 9-23, 2017), non-Jewish Americans feel more warmly toward Jews than toward any other religious group in our society, outside of their own.

Within the last few months, however, the FBI and ADL have tabulated a significant rise in anti-Semitic incidents, including 100+ bombing threats against Jewish Community Centers and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Rochester.

How are we to understand this discrepancy between the relative warmth non-Jewish Americans feel toward Jews and the recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents? How can both be possible at the same time the same society?

Numerous sociological studies indicate that relatively fewroughly 15%of members in any group are predisposed toward bigotry because of their psychologically authoritarian personalities.

The Hamans and Hitlers of the world often start with Jews as their targets, but then add many others in their hatred. These authoritarian individuals tend to express bigotry against a range of others, such as Muslims, African Americans, gays and lesbians, refugees. Theyre even prejudiced against groups that dont exist, like Lilliputians.

Furthermore, they can be found throughout the political spectrum. Anti-Semites on the left, for example, tend to view Jews as financial and political elites who oppress the less affluent and educated; right-wing anti-Semites tend to condemn Jews for preponderant liberalism and cosmopolitanism.

This is why anti-Semitism is essentially best understood as one particular manifestation of human bigotry. Xenophobia may have different victims, but all of its expressions are prejudicial cousins to anti-Semitism. With roots in irrational stereotyping, anti-Semitism resists fact-checking. In the mind of the anti-Semite, Jews can be simultaneously communists and capitalists.

What is more, this recognition of the familial relationship of anti-Semitism to other bigotry is key to effectively fighting anti-Semitism. To do so, we enlarge the we standing strong together with our non-Jewish neighbors to oppose all prejudice.

Fighting prejudice universally, however, does not necessarily come easy. Prejudice comes from both nature and nurture, so almost all of us have biases to overcome. Biologically its hard-wired into us. Our cultural environmentand need to conform to itthen influences the targets of our bigotry.

Societally, the communities that have been most effective in eradicating prejudice have 1. Isolated the approximately 15% of hard-core bigotsand 2. Worked in coalition with everyone else to change culture, through leadership, education, government, laws and law enforcement, media, and religion.

This is why we need the President, Congress, the press, and other leaders to proclaim, together, a zero tolerance policy against all acts of bigotry whereby every perpetrator will be prosecuted and punished. The recent letter by all 100 Senators was a step in the right direction.

Such statements need to be more than lip service. Opposition to hatred needs to be enshrined in law and investigated seriously and prosecuted diligently. In Shushan, Mordecai and Esther could not have succeeded in their fight against Human without the support of King Ahasuerus.

On a personal level, overcoming our inherent prejudices takes focus and work. We need to open ourselves up to personal interactions with others, celebrate our differences, and commit to living in mutual respect.

We Jews, in particular, can best begin with ourselves. By studying and practicing Judaism, we can build inner resilience and outer dignity. When we stand tall, exemplifying Judaisms highest values and respecting others identities and practices, we can reach the peak pluralistic balance of living as proud Jews while nurturing friendships and partnerships with everyone else.

Let us learn from Esther and Mordecai. They stood up proudly as Jews. They worked with the non-Jews around them, especially Queen Esthers husband, King Ahasuerus. Together they defeated Haman and foiled his plot to exterminate the Jews.

When we too stand proudly as Jews and work in coalition with others, all of us can effectively fight anti-Semitism in our own day.

Mark L. Winer served as a full-time pulpit rabbi for 30 years in the New York area and 13 years in London, England. He is also a sociologist (Ph.D. Yale), and has written widely on interfaith relations and contemporary Jewry. Mark and his wife Suellen live in Boca Raton.

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Israel Ceramics – Wikipedia

Israel Ceramics are ceramics designed either in Palestine or the State of Israel from the beginning of the 20th century. In additional to traditional pottery, in Israel there are artists whose works were created in an industrial environment. Until the late 1970s there existed in Israel a local tradition that emphasized the local values of nature as an expression of Zionist identity. From the 1980s artistic expressions that sought to undercut this tradition began to appear in the works of Israeli artists, who combined ceramics with other artistic media and with personal, critical agendas.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Palestinian tradition of designing pottery from local materials dominated in Israel.[1] The pottery was primary functional, intended primarily for the use of the local population in the Land of Israel. Other vessels were imported from neighboring areas. Pots were thrown on potters wheels mostly in urban areas or in pottery villages. It was a craft traditionally worked by men. In the census carried out on Palestine in 1928, during the British Mandate, 77 pottery workshops (of individuals or groups) were listed, while in the 1931 census, 211 different potters were listed.[2]

Many of the pottery villages were centralized, based on geographical proximity of the potters families. Examples of this can be found in the pottery workshops held in the pottery villages in Rashia al Fakhar (Tel Faher) at the foot of Mount Hermon.[3] Or in Hebron, at the various workshops of the Alfahori family. These pots were fired at a low temperature in traditional kilns that burned wood, charcoal, or animal droppings. Different workshops were held in Gaza as well, where they produced unique black pottery ( ), produced by adding organic materials, such as barley husks, to the kiln or by reduction firing. The smoke from the process of the burning of these materials within the kiln lent the pottery its characteristic black color.[4]

In addition, a tradition existed of producing pots made of clay mixed with straw or gravel for cooking and other utilitarian uses by the local population. This work was

carried out by hand by women, and the pots were fired in improvised kilns, in kitchen ovens, or sometimes not fired at all. Pottery of this type, which was produced in the Samaria area and in Ramallah, for example, was typically decorated with color made from rusted iron that originated in the Jordan Valley.[5]

As the century progressed, this tradition began dying out as a result of industrialization, and in addition, from the 1980s competing pottery from other countries began to be imported.[6] Until 1989, for example, 11 different workshops were active in Hebron. However by 2007 there remained only 8 potters there.[7] In 1983 the The Eretz Israel Museum mounted an exhibition displaying the pottery of the Lebanese village of Rashia al Fakhar.[8]

In 1919 the British Mandate government invited a group of Armenian potters, survivors of the Armenian Genocide, to repair the tiles of the Dome of the Rock. This experiment indicated the British interest in traditional art of the Arts and Crafts movement. Armenian ceramic art can be traced back to the 15th century, to the Turkish cities of znik and Ktahya, but the combination of the ancient art of the Land of Israel and Christian motifs created a unique artistic synthesis.

The outstanding artist of the early years was Davit Ohannessian, who specialized in the design of ceramic decorative art in buildings and monuments, many of which were commissioned by the British Mandate government. The workshop that he founded Tiles of the Dome of the Rock produced not only monumental works, but also utilitarian or decorative pots. Among the most important works Ohannessian produced in Jerusalem were tiles for the American Colony Hotel (1923), the fountain house in St. Johns Hospital, the fountain house in the Rockefeller Museum, etc. Among the motifs that appear in his decorations are the cypress trees, tulips, and grapevines typical of traditional Ottoman decorative art.[9]

The workshop that Ohannessian founded separated the process of design, which was done by Ohannessian, and the production of the vessels for which he produced the designs. For this purpose, he hired artists and apprentices mostly women who were experienced at painting. Nonetheless, some of the works, especially those intended for the public, were signed by the chief artist. The workshop used a wood-burning stone kiln. The model implemented in this workshop was used for other Armenian workshops founded subsequently in Jerusalem.

The artists Megardish Karakashian and Nishan Balian, who left Ohannessians workshop in 1922, founded a workshop together called Palestine Pottery, where they developed a line of design with figurative images that were alien to traditional Turkish ceramic art. For example, the two of them combined designs from ancient mosaics discovered in the Land of Israel, such as the Birds Mosaic (Jerusalem) or the mosaic from Hishams Palace in Jericho. Often these images were imbued with Christian theological interpretations.[10] The joint workshop functioned continually until 1964, when Stefan Karakashian and Marie Balian, heirs of the founders, founded two separate workshops that made use of images from the past as well as new images that they created.

Within the framework of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, a ceramics studio was founded in 1924, with Jacob Eisenberg at its head.[11] By 1917 Boris Schatz was considering opening a department for the design of cast decorative items, as well as a department of painting on porcelain. This craft was already being taught at Bezalel using ready-made porcelain brought in from outside Palestine for use at Bezalel.[12] Schatz saw in the activity of the factory for bricks and roofing tiles that operated on the grounds of the Schneller Orphanage in Jerusalem from approximately 1895, proof of the practicality of such a local industry, which would make use of local materials brought from Motza.

Eisenberg, who was a student at Bezalel from 1913 to 1919, after his graduation went to study in Vienna, at the School for Arts and Crafts, where he took a continuing education course in ceramic design and production.[13] The department separated the design of the ceramics, mostly taught by Bezalel instructors and particularly by Ze’ev Raban, from the practical production of the pieces. Of the objects produced in this department, the best known are the wall tiles and decorations from the 1920s and 1930s. These works include the tiles on the walls of the Ahad HaAm School, the Bialik House, and the Lederberg House in Tel Aviv, and in the synagogue of Moshav Zekanim.

The style of tile design was influenced by Art Nouveau and by the Jugendstil style. This style is expressed in the flatness of the area described and in the richly decorated borders. With regard to ideas, Bezalel tiles expressed a tendency toward transcendentalism, seen in their borders cast with images taken from Jewish tradition and Zionist content.[14]

In her article Techno Tools: The Logical Ones (2011)[15], Shlomit Bauman maintained that contemporary Israeli ceramics is characterized by a disconnect from the Palestinian tradition and by a lack of a local ceramics industry that would permit a dialog of understanding between local ceramic artists.[16]

At the same time as the Armenians and the Arabs living in the Palestine worked within independent traditions, Jewish artists had to create a synthesis between European art and art in the Land of Israel under the conditions that existed there in the early 20th century. This can be seen both in the design of the models and in the work techniques, which tended to be mechanized. In addition, while local pottery depended on family-led workshops and on cooperative activity by the artists, the Jewish potter saw himself both as an artist and as an expression of the language of art.[17]

Chava Samuel, who Immigrated to the Palestine in 1932, founded Hayozer” [The Creator], the first ceramics workshop in the Jewish community in Jerusalem. “Kad VeSefel” [Jug and Cup], the ceramics workshop founded in 1934 in Rishon LeZion with Paula Ahronson, produced a variety of utilitarian pots and decorative pottery, using a combination of potters wheel and ceramic casting. The style of the pots was, for the most part functional, influenced both by the spirit of modernism and the European Bauhaus style. Mira Libes, a pupil in the workshop of Samuel and Ahronson, described the pottery produced in the workshop as the direct result of create pottery that is simple, functional, and beautiful, a philosophy intended also to improve public taste, which was deemed at that time indescribably bad. The pottery produced was generally influenced by the Bauhaus style, which Paula had studied, and the simple and beautiful decorative-colorful style of Eva.[18]

The motifs of the decorations on Samuels pottery were also influenced by the archeology of the Land of Israel, as well as by Oriental art, under whose influence she produced Eastern images and images from the Jewish world. As opposed to the figures from the Jewish world created by the artists of the Bezalel school, Samuels imaged lacked the religious dimension. The images that remained, for the most part looked like images from folklore. The decorative style of Samuels pottery focused on individual images, drawn primarily freehand and glazed.[19]

In contrast to the pottery of Samuel and Ahronson, the works of Hedwig Grossman displayed an attempt to formulate a Land of Israel localness in their ceramic design. Grossman made Aliyah to the Land of Israel in 1933 after studying pottery in Germany. During her first years in Palestine, Grossman already began to carry out soil surveys to determine how local materials were used in pottery production. In addition, Grossman researched how pottery was made in the Land of Israel in ancient times and what where the work methods of Arab and Armenian potters throughout the Land. In her work Grossman emphasized the use of materials from the Land of Israel. Some of her work was even influenced by local archaeological findings. Her techniques for working the material included basic geometric decoration, using local non-glaze slips (engobes) in assorted colors.

An echo of Grossmans views can be seen in the 1940s, when Jacob Lev, who served from 1939 as the head of the Sculpture Department in the New Bezalel, began to offer classes in pottery in the department. Most of the pots that were made in this institution were not fired in a kiln and so did not survive, but in his article The Pretty Pot[20] (1941), he emphasizes the modernist approach to design of the pot and the relationship between its parts in the Bauhaus spirit. However photographs of the pots show the influence of the architecture of the Land of Israel in the choice of the types of pots, as well as in the avoidance of decoration in the rough texture of their design.[21]

The works of Hedwig Harag Zunz, who arrived in the Land of Israel at the beginning of the 1940s, also represent an attempt at creating pottery with a Land of Israel localness. In Zunzs works this was expressed primarily in her choice of local materials. Most of her work was produced using a potters wheel, but she also created pottery with an architectural bent. In spite of her consistent use of local materials, Zunzs works differ from the archaeological direction of Hedwig Grossmans works or the oriental decoration of Eva Samuels. The shape of her pottery was influenced by European Modernism in its lack of decoration and in its organic tendency toward the use of the glossy surface slips of Terra sigillata or ceramic glazes.[22] In addition to her independent works, Harag Zunz also produced technical academic research and participated in various industrial projects.

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Israel calls on banks in Spain, South Africa, US to shut BDS accounts – Jerusalem Post Israel News

PFPL plane hijacker Leila Khaled in South Africa. (photo credit:AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is ratcheting up pressure on banks to close the accounts of groups that boycott Israel, including one organization that has links to an internationally recognized Palestinian terrorist organization.

Facilitating the bank accounts of BDS organizations constitutes support for BDS. Banks maintaining such accounts should carefully consider the danger of running afoul of strict anti-BDS legislation in the US and other countries, Erdan told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive statement on Thursday.

Countries have already shut BDS accounts for legal reasons and we urge others to do the same, he added.

The Posts ongoing investigative series on financial institutions enabling boycott groups to target Israel revealed that BDS South Africas bank account is maintained at that countrys First National Bank.

BDS South Africa one of the most powerful and aggressive anti-Israel groups internationally held a series of fund-raisers in 2015 with Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the US and EU have designated as a terrorist organization.

The BDS South Africa website shows a photograph of Khaled hosted by the group with a caption that reads, Leila Khaled fund-raising dinner in Rustenburg. A second photograph carries the caption: Leila Khaled fundraising dinner in Pretoria.

Khaled was a key member of a terrorist cell that hijacked TWA Flight 840 in 1969. A year later, she participated in the hijacking of EL AL Flight 219. BDS South Africa termed Khaled a Palestine icon on its website. It is unclear whether the money raised was sent via the First National Bank account to the PFLP and Khaled, or held in the account to promote BDS in South Africa and abroad.

Concerns about money laundering for crime and terrorism, as well as anti-BDS laws, have triggered the closure over the past year of BDS accounts in Ireland, US, Austria, France, the UK and Germany.

Nainesh Desai, First National Banks business chief risk officer, wrote to the Post: Due to client confidentiality, First National Bank (FNB) cannot disclose information about any of its customers to a third party.

In June, the Austrian financial giant BAWAG closed the bank account of Viennas Austrian-Arab cultural center, OKAZ, because it hosted Khaled in April.

First National Bank maintains a correspondence bank relationship with the UKs Standard Chartered. When asked if First National used Standard Chartered to transfer BDS funds and payments for the PFLP, Julie Gibson, a Standard Chartered spokeswoman, said: Whenever we receive complaints or information about potentially suspicious activity, we look into it.

Gibson told the Post by phone that an investigation had been opened into the BDS account, but Lauren Callie, a Standard Chartered spokeswoman in South Africa, wrote to the Post that Gibson made no reference nor commitment to the bank specifically investigating the BSD account with First National.

According to Callie, Standard Chartereds official position is as follows: In line with the banks commitment to preventing fraud, money laundering and terror financing, Standard Chartered will investigate any external reports or tipoffs we receive. Regrettably, we are unable to provide any specifics on our investigations, in the interest of client privacy and confidentiality.

Gibson told the Post that Standard Chartered has terminated correspondence bank accounts in the past but has declined to state the reasons. She added that the bank complies with US laws regarding terrorism.

Standard Charted admitted in 2012 that it violated sanctions against Iran, and paid $667 million to the US government.

The US government reopened an investigation in 2015 against Standard Chartered for additional violations of Iran sanctions.

Numerous Post press queries to BDS South Africa were not returned.

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers a pro-BDS organization that supports Irans nuclear program has accounts with Texas-based Comerica Bank and Spains La Caixa. When asked about Erdans statement, Wayne Mielke, a spokesman for Comerica, told the Post: We decline to comment outside of reiterating that we have a robust compliance program in place at the bank.

An anti-BDS bill is working its way through the Texas legislature.

Several queries to La Caixa were not immediately returned.

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Israel Extends Closure on West Bank and Gaza by 24 Hours – Haaretz

This is the second year in a row that all crossings are closed to Palestinians during the Jewish Purim holiday.

Israel on Saturday extended the closure imposed on the West Bank and Gaza over the Purim holiday weekend.

The Israel Defense Forces said that the decision to extend the closure by a day, until Monday night, was taken by the political leadership.

The IDF didn’t specify a reason for the extension. The decision was taken following a situation assessment made by defense agencies over the course of the weekend.

As part of the closure, which began on Thursday night, all the crossings to the West Bank and Gaza were closed to Palestinians, with the exception of humanitarian cases, medical and otherwise, with the approval of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Purim is celebrated in most of Israel on Sunday this year, while in Jerusalem it is observed on Monday.

Israel customarily implements such a closure before all major Jewish holidays. Last year, in what was considered an exceptional move, a closure was implemented for Purim too, a move that had not been taken for a number of years before 2016.

Meanwhile on Saturday, Israeli soldiers from the Paratroopers’ Brigade arrested a young Palestinian armed with a knife in near a Hebron checkpoint. During questioning, the Palestinian said he was planning to carry out a terror attack in the area. He was transferred to the Shin Bet for interrogation.

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Israel Extends Closure on West Bank and Gaza by 24 Hours – Haaretz

Some Jews support BDS ‘from a place of love’ for Israel, says AJC official – Mondoweiss

On Wednesday night in Brooklyn, Congregation Mount Sinai had a panel on the new anti-Semitism, featuring speakers from the American Jewish Committee, the Anti Defamation League and the New York Times.The speakers from the two Jewish organizations generally equated the BDS movement against Israel with anti-Semitism. The reporter for the New York Times was careful not to say a word about Israel.

Here are several interesting statements from the panel. The last one is the one in my headline.

Seffi Kogen, an official of the American Jewish Committee, said that college campuses have been hijacked by the alt left.

I wrote an op-ed forHaaretzabout five or six months ago. The title they slapped on it was, The Alt-right Promotes Hatred of Jews. The Alt-left: Hatred of Israel. I think we have seen that problem become increasingly prevalent on college campuses. Whereas the alt right has been finding political avatars, they would say in the form of Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, and others in Europe and elsewhere, the alt left does not have those same political avatars. But they do have academic avatars. There are professors on campuses around the country whole departments in fact, sociology, anthropology, womens studies that will be hijacked by this alt left, in a way that wed never allow the alt right to hijack an academic discipline.

And of course theres very little we can do about it within the bounds of academic freedom. But where we can address it is insure that the students that those people could teach, and who they could implicate into this deeply-problematic hatred of Israel we can reach those students. So thats what I primarily focus on.

Here are two efforts Kogen has undertaken to counter criticism of Israel:

Over winter break in December, I led a group of 17non-Jewish student leaders from Brown University to Israel. All of them came in with the basic paradigm with regard to the Israel Palestinian conflict, that Israel is the villain, Palestinians are the victim. After a week they all realized, that thats simply not true, there is far more nuance and far more complexity to the conflict than that and now were working with them to spread that knowledge around Brown Universitys campus

Just this last weekend, I was in Coral Gables, at the University of Miami, with a group of 30 students, Jewish students and Latino students, from 10 different campuses around the country. And we were there because we wanted to create a space where the students could learn one anothers stories and learn how to support one anothers advocacy. So when they return to campus the Jewish students are better equipped to stand up and speak out against immigration bans, against the Mexican wall, whatever they might be moved to align themselves with. And the Latino students are better equipped to speak out against anti-semitism and hatred of Israel.

Joseph Goldstein, reporter for the New York Times, on the alt-rights view of Jews:

In terms of understanding how the alt right thinks about Jews, or why they think about Jews I was at the notorious Richard Spencer conference last November. And some of the speakers were citing the Frankfurt school in their speeches. It was probably the first mention I had heard of the Frankfurt school since college. The alt right is quite literate and they have sort of, I mean you can call it a conspiracy theory or an alternative view of history, but they have sort of spun a narrative of how America got to this present moment in time, in which Jews play an outsized role.

And the alt right is obsessed with the notion that at some point in the not too distant future, America will not be a majority white country. I think there was a census estimate that it would happen 40 years from now. Thats a figure that gets cited an awful lot. And immigration is without question the number one issue for the alt right.

And understanding why we have open borders in the view of the alt right, and understanding American immigration history, they sort of look at the Ellis Island myth as they put it of America as a welcoming country as something that Jewish policies and Jewish influence have brought about. That if you take a look back, that the only ethnic group that has been seeking open borders and seeking a liberal immigration policy for a century now are the Jews.

I was somewhat stunned by just listening to various alt right speakers. They trace the rise of multiculturalism and the rise of and just the population shifts in America, as the result of a Jewish conspiracy to make America less white and Anglo-Saxon. And so that is one reason why the Jews do play a large role in sort of the alt rights world view, is they sort of need the Jews and the antisemitism in order to make sense of what America looks like today.

Interestingly, Goldstein did not get the opportunity to express these ideas in his article at the time.

Evan Bernstein, New York regional director of the Anti Defamation League, says anti-Semitism is the oldest form of hatred known to man, but the U.S. today is the best place ever for Jews:

I spoke at a press conference on the arrest of Juan Thompson, and I said,Anti-semitism is the oldest form of hatred really known to man. There hasnt been any kind of cure for it. Its been in every single major society really since societies have been around. Jews have started in these communities and then thrived and been driven out, as quickly as they have thrived.

We have always, for whatever reasonwere here in a synagogue if you want to make it biblical, if you want to make it sociological, whatever it is Jews are always the lightning rod for some form of hate in whatever society weve been able to be in

Europe is a much less rosy picture. But in America, Im very clear to say, this is still the best place ever to be a Jew in history. When I sat next to Governor Cuomo my grandparents were first generation off-the-boat Russians. If they ever thought in two generations their grandson would be sitting next to the governor of New York talking about how the governor would be protecting the Jewish people and investing a lot of money

Despite everything we see right now, this is a time where Jews are able to thrive financially, they are able to get educated at the best universities two generations ago that was not the case. Maybe country clubs are still the one area where we are not the best in getting into.. But in general there is a freedom of movement and a freedom of religion that two generations ago we could only dream about.

We have to be very cognizant of that, but keep our eyes open to what is taking place and the trends in front of us.

Seffi Kogen says that some Jews he knows support BDS out of love for Israel:

We often fall into this trap of assuming that students who support BDS, the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction the state of Israel in an effort supposedly to end Israels occupation they never of course say whether theyre referring to an occupation after the Six Day War, that is the West Bank and Gaza, or whether theyre referring to Israels very existence we fall into this trap where we think that Jewish students who support BDS do so out of ignorance. I think that some do. I think that some simply dont know that there is a case for Israel.

I also think that there are some, in fact, I know that there are some, anecdotally, who do soand I think they are misguided but who do so from a place of love. They were my classmates in day school, and my bunkmates at Jewish camp. They were on the year-program that I spent in between high school and college in Israel. These are people who dont hate Israel. You would be hard pressed to pin a charge of antisemitism on them that would actually stick. And so when we create this kind of caricature of them, I think it prevents us from accurately dealing with the problem that actually exists on campus.

Yesterday I tweeted Kogen a sincere question. Dont some of your former bunkmates who support BDS object to the very issue in Israel that Joseph Goldstein finds justly objectionable in the alt-right: endless rhetoric of losing a racial majority. Kogen did not answer my question.

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Some Jews support BDS ‘from a place of love’ for Israel, says AJC official – Mondoweiss

Trump tells Abbas ‘time has come’ for peace deal with Israel – Washington Times

President Trump told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud AbbasFridaythat its time for a comprehensive agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The president emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal, the White House said in a readout of the phone conversation between the two leaders. The president noted that such a deal would not only give Israelis and Palestinians the peace and security they deserve, but that it would reverberate positively throughout the region and the world.

Mr. Trump invited Mr. Abbas to a meeting at the White House soon.

The president underscored that such a peace agreement must be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will work closely with Palestinian and Israeli leadership to make progress toward that goal, the White House said.

The president noted that the United States cannot impose a solution on the Israelis and Palestinians, nor can one side impose an agreement on the other, the statement said.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah saidAbbas stressed the commitment to peace as a strategic choice to establish a Palestinian State alongside the state of Israel, according to the official Palestinian WAFA news agency.

alestinians are concerned at the more favorable approach shown by Washington toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Mr. Trump came to power. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Trump have spoken on the phone at least twice since the inauguration, and Mr. Netanyahu visited Washington last month.

Palestinian officials indicated Abbas would emphasize his concern about Israeli settlement-building on occupied land and the need for a two-state solution to the conflict. This article is based on wire-service reports.

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Trump tells Abbas ‘time has come’ for peace deal with Israel – Washington Times

Tzohar and Ohr Torah Stone holding 400 Purim readings around country – Jerusalem Post Israel News

A packed house for the Purim megila reading in 2016 at the Tel Aviv International Synagogue. (photo credit:Courtesy)

The Tzohar national-religious rabbinical association is joining up this year with the Ohr Torah Stone network of educational institutions to hold some 400 readings of the Megila for the upcoming Purim holiday around the country.

Dubbed Megila Bakehilla (Megilla in the community), the project will offer the readings of the Book of Esther at community centers, local entertainment venues, and this year fire stations as well, with the goal of making Purim and its various traditions and customs more accessible to Jews of all religious backgrounds.

Megila Bakehilla readings are specifically not being held in synagogues so as not to deter people who are not regular synagogue goers and who may otherwise be dissuaded from attending a reading in an unfamiliar atmosphere, Tzohar has said.

The decision to reach out to the fire stations came in recognition of the challenging months firefighters experienced around the country in this past years forest fires. Plans are in place for readings in stations in many cities, including Ashdod, Bnei Brak, Tiberias and others.

We learn from the mobility of the mishkan (the portable Tabernacle in the desert) that Judaism does not wait for Jews to come to it, but rather goes out to them wherever they are, said Ohr Torah Stone founder and chancellor Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.

This program enables everyone access to the traditions and teachings of Purim in a way that promotes unity and understanding within our greater society.

Rabbi David Stav, chairman of Tzohar and co-chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone, said that Purim is one of the Jewish holidays that inspires the participation of Israeli Jews of all backgrounds and levels of observance, and that it is therefore an opportunity to get people involved in Jewish life.

We welcome the chance to use this holiday as an avenue to get all Israelis involved in their religion and feel more attached to their nation and traditions, said the rabbi.

A list of the megila readings is available on the organizations website.

Beit Hillel is another national-religious group that has put an emphasis on megila readings, in particular those for women by women. Although the organization is not itself holding megila readings, Beit Hillel has called for womens readings to be held in religious communities where there is a demand for them, and its Facebook page has listings of several womens megila readings around the country.

Rabbanit Dr. Hannah Hashkes, a member of Beit Hillels executive committee, noted that in recent years there has been a growing trend in the religious-Zionist and Modern Orthodox world to include women to a greater extent in religious life.

She said, however, that Jewish law is nevertheless still an obstacle to greater integration of women in many religious services and practices in Orthodox communities, but that Purim and reading the megila is an example of where Jewish law does not restrict female participation.

Three years ago, Beit Hillel issued a ruling that it is permitted for women to read the Torah and for other women to fulfill their obligation of hearing the megila by attending a reading by a woman. This ruling is based on strong foundations within the Talmud and later commentaries and codifications.

Megila readings for women by women are a very valuable educational tool to educate young religious women and to help them feel part of the community and not like outsiders when it comes to religious practice, said Hashkes.

The lack of opportunities for young women to be involved in religious services has become a big educational problem for girls. Synagogues are big part of our community and lifestyle, but girls have no reason to come because they cant participate, which becomes an even greater problem after they become bat mitzva at the age of 12. We need to make them feel part of the community, and megila readings are one way to do this.

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South African university plagued with antisemitism during ‘Apartheid Week’ – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Students hold a Hezbollah flag during a demonstration at Wits University during ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’. (photo credit:SAUJS)

WITS UNIVERSITY was marred by several antisemitic and violent incidents this week during the annual Israel Apartheid Week (IAW).

Some of the alarming incidents included BDS and anti-Israel supporters emulating Hitler in a the Nazi goose-step, flying flags of terrorist organizations and advocating for the death of Jews and Israeli-Arabs.

On Thursday, a video emerged of a Muslim student using his finger to gesture a mustache while performing a Nazi salute and a goose step around the campus as he was egged on and congratulated by his friends in front Jewish and pro-Israel students.

Later in the day a second video surfaced of a BDS activist at Wits advocating that people want to kill Jews because Jews dont behave when they are visitors in other peoples countries.

A flag belonging to internationally recognized terror organization Hezbollah was also prominently displayed during a tense stand-off between BDS and pro-Israel students on Wednesday with some witnesses stating that a Hamas flag was also showcased by the pro-Palestinian lobby at Wits.

Earlier in the week several brawls broke out and property belonging to the SA Jewish Union of Students (SAUJS) was thrown around, physically pulled from their hands while posters were torn and threats made by anti-Israel supporters and BDS members.

An event hosted by SAUJS was also disrupted by pro-Palestinian supporters who cut the wires to the sound system and stormed the stage. Police and security were called in to prevent further violence from taking place.

A visiting Israeli-Arab delegate from education organization StandWithUs was also told by pro-Palestinian students that he would be the first to be killed when they (Palestinians) take over (Israel) while Jewish students were also threatened that their throats would be cut.

At one point they even danced around the Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC), singing Am Yisrael Chai, as the PSC members chanted Free Free Palestine.

SAUJS National Chairman Gabi Zollman said that they had seen a lot of antisemitism, physical violence, pushing, shoving and tension between students.

We cant understand why IAW is still allowed to happen on university campuses across the world because it gives rise to antisemitism, he said.

Zollman added that he was proud of how students from all walks of life, races and religions stood together in support of Israel during the hostilities.

We had an incredible campaign which was really positive despite the situation. There was so much engagement and discussion with all our activities being geared towards education and dialogue, he explained.

SAUJS also launched an online worldwide campaign calling on Wits University to condemn the endorsement of terrorism on campus following the Hezbollah flag incident.

We started this yesterday and people sign it, it sends an email straight to the Dean of Students. So far over 1000 emails have already been sent, Zollman said.

National Director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) Wendy Kahn (corr) condemned this behaviour and said it was not surprising that IAW had degenerated into more hatred against South African Jews.

Despite the insistent claims by BDS supporters in SA media that IAW is not antisemitic, their true motive was unveiled. The Wits PSC staged an aggressive and hate-filled campaign to stop SAUJS students from providing a different perspective on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. PSC students cut the wire of the sound system and stormed the stage to silence visiting Arab Israeli student Yahya Mahamed resulting police being called in to prevent further PSC violence, Kahn said.

She said this behavior does not belong in a democratic South Africa, especially on a University Campus.

Once again we reiterate that whatever one feels about the Israeli Palestinian situation, its never acceptable to import the conflict onto South African University campuses, causing hate and polarisation between fellow students, she said

Kahn concluded by quoting Former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe who warned BDS activists about antisemitism in their campaign saying: Antisemitic actions couched in the language of human rights, and disguised by its discourse cannot be countenanced. Such actions not only undermine the humanity of a people, and entrench a painful history, but also serve to undermine our commitment to principled and moral action. It is crucial that the struggle for human rights and an end to oppression be absolutely severed from such religious intolerance and bigotry.

The Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee together with Amnesty International Wits and the Wits Muslim Students Association have strongly condemned incidents of antisemitism that took place during IAW adding that disciplinary processes against the student who had emulated Hitler were being initiated.

We are also investigating other reported antisemitic incidents, they said.

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Palestinian Journalist Held by Israel to End Hunger Strike After Deal – Haaretz

Muhammad Al-Qiq will begin to take food and water after Israel agrees to let him go by mid-March.

Palestinian journalist Mohammad Al-Qiq agreed to end his month-long hunger strike starting Friday, following an agreement with Israel over his early release later this month.

Relatives of Al-Qiq, who has been held in administrative detention without charges, will hold a press conference Friday afternoon announcing the agreement, which was crafted over the past few days.

Israel arrested Al-Qiq on January 15 at the Beit El checkpoint, while he was en route to Ramallah. The security services interrogated him. Al-Qiq demanded a trial if there was evidence against him and announced he would launch a hunger strike if put under administrative detention.

Al-Qiq began a full hunger strike on February 6 after Israel issued a six-month administrative detention order against him. A few days later the order was cut to three months, but he announced he would continue his hunger strike until release.

Israel’s prisoners administration announced on Wednesday that al-Qiq was transferred to a local hospital because his condition had deteriorated, having lost 12 kilograms.

Al-Qiqs attorney, Khaled Azbarka, stressed that Al-Qiq was very weak and still suffers from the side effects of his previous hunger strike, which lasted almost three months. Thus, he said, there is concern of a dangerous deterioration in his medical condition.

The agreement stipulates that Al-Qiq will be released in on March 14, according to the family, adding they would explain the decision and the motivation for this agreement at a press conference in the afternoon.

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Palestinian Journalist Held by Israel to End Hunger Strike After Deal – Haaretz

‘Love lives here’ event at Florida Holocaust Museum aimed at rise in hate crimes – Tampabay.com (blog)

ST. PETERSBURG As hate crimes rise across the United States, community leaders plan to hold a “Love Lives Here” event Thursday evening at the Florida Holocaust Museum to stand in solidarity with those who have been targeted by such acts.

The goal, organizers say, is to encourage the community, institutions and individuals to foster “greater understanding and connection rather than fear of differences.”

For more information, click here.

Mayor Rick Kriseman, community leaders and faith organizations plan to start the event with a 6:30 p.m. news conference. That will be followed by a panel dsicussion of faith and community leaders will also hold a discussion, according to Equality Florida Action, Inc.

The event is being held in response to an increase in hate crimes and violent incidents that include a rash of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers, racist and anti-LGBT graffiti and an arson fire last week at the Islamic Society of New Tampa.

These groups plan to participate: Love Not Fear, Florida Holocaust Museum, Emerge USA, Anti-Defamation League, Interfaith Tampa Bay, Equality Florida Institute, Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Congregation B’nai Israel of St. Petersburg and the Historic Bethel AME Church.

‘Love lives here’ event at Florida Holocaust Museum aimed at rise in hate crimes 03/09/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 8:08pm] Photo reprints | Article reprints

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‘Love lives here’ event at Florida Holocaust Museum aimed at rise in hate crimes – Tampabay.com (blog)

How North Korea endangers Israel – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Kim Jong-un, North Korea leader. (photo credit:KNS / KCNA / AFP)

While it might not seem like it, North Korea is a serious threat to Israel.

Initially, that assertion is far from obvious. North Korea is located in a completely different part of the world and regularly threatens South Korea, Japan and the US, not Israel.

Yet, by possibly serving as an outsourced, clandestine extension of Irans nuclear program, by openly cooperating with Iran on various initiatives and by making Iran look less crazy and the US look less strong, North Korea could render the Iranian threat to Israel far more serious.

The latest US-North Korea crisis which could have ripple effects on Iran and Israel follows Pyongyangs firing of five ballistic Scud missiles on Monday, four of which flew about 1,000 kilometers and hit in the Sea of Japan.

The Trump administration has talked tough, but has struggled with how to respond.

But back to North Korea and Iran.

Hard evidence of how deep the Iran-North Korea nuclear relationship goes is scarce, but experts have been finding Iran-North Korea connections for years.

Recently, two former IDF Military Intelligence officers, Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Refael Ofek and Dr. Dany Shoham from the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, put together a lot of the connections needed to evaluate how deep the rabbit hole may go.

Like other experts, they have noted that the missiles Iran and North Korea would use for delivery of nuclear weapons have much in common.

Most recently, a ballistic missile launched by Iran in January was declared to have been of North Korean origin by an anonymous Pentagon source speaking to Reuters.

Further, even as Iran has undertaken some of its own missile tests, it may be making far more progress than we realize in sorting through the problems it has encountered with fitting nuclear warheads on its missiles, by participating in North Korean missile tests.

It was widely reported that a delegation of Iranian nuclear experts led by the head of their program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, was covertly present at North Koreas February 2013 nuclear test and other tests.

Overall, the idea is that Iran has money and some technology that is useful for North Korea, and North Korea has a wealth of more advanced nuclear technology and an ongoing ability to carry out joint tests beyond the sight of Iran-located IAEA inspectors to help Tehran.

Dr. Emily Landau, arms control chairwoman at the Institute for National Security Studies, believes that the Trump administration should carefully monitor the situation. But she also urges caution about drawing definitive conclusions about whether the Islamic Republic is currently continuing its nuclear program clandestinely via North Kore.

Beyond the possible clandestine ties, Iran and North Korea are on record as signing a range of bilateral agreements over the years.

But after all of these issues, the biggest danger North Korea may bring to Israel in its relationship with Iran is its ability to make Iran look sane and well-behaved and the US weak.

The narrative would go like this: North Korea throws temper tantrums, threatens to nuke the West and refuses negotiations to backtrack its nuclear program. But look at well-behaved Iran it cuts deals with the West, dutifully observes its obligations and even when it engages in provocative missile tests, makes sure it does so without formally violating any bans.

This is a deceptive narrative, but it could be used to shield Tehran from criticism for pushing the envelope and exploiting loopholes in the nuclear agreement.

No one has a clear formula for how the Trump administration, can lick the North Korea dilemma.

The US started to transfer the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea, but it is unclear if Trump has a strategy to stop North Korea performing more missile tests or even another nuclear test.

If North Korea makes Trump look impotent, he suddenly loses some of the scary unpredictability that many observers hope he can use to keep Iran in line.

So while North Korea is not trying to wipe Israel off the map as Iran would like to do, it makes the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel far more formidable on several fronts.

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Estonian FM in Israel: ‘We’re concerned by Russia’s collusion with Iran in Syria’ – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Estonian FM Sven Mikser. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Estonia stands with Israel on security issues, including opposing Russias role in supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Irans military presence there, Foreign Minister Sven Mikser told The Jerusalem Post in an interview.

The role that the Russians play [in Syria] by way of trying to keep Assad in power and by the apparent collusion with the Iranians, yes, that is a shared concern, he said Wednesday.

Mikser arrived in Israel on Tuesday night for a two-day visit and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. On Thursday, Netanyahu flew to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the importance of halting Iranian activities in Syria.

Estonia is small former Soviet republic with a population of only about 1.3 million people and a long history of resisting expansionist drives by Russia, which it borders.

We have seen the expansionist ambitions of the leadership in the Kremlin, said Mikser, including what he called Russias recent illegally annexing Crimea. We can say with some confidence that they [Russia] will not shy away from using military force to achieve political aims, he said.

Russia is doing that in Syria, where it is working to keep Assad in power and operating in some sort of symbiosis with the Iranians, Mikser said, adding that this is a legitimate concern for Israel.

Putin is not an irrational player. He is a cool and calculating player who sees the world very much in zero sum terms, he said. He is in constant competition and standoff with the West in general and with the Americans in particular. Whenever he sees the lack of unity and resolve on behalf of the adversaries, [he knows] that is a weakness [that can] be exploited.

It is important to present [Putin] with a resolute and unified front and by doing that, he can be deterred. So it is important that we speak with a very unambiguous and unified voice. The bigger the coalition or the community of democratic states that can speak with a unified voice, the better, Mikser added.

Addressing the struggles shared by Israel and Estonia, he said, Israel has its own security interests and concerns, but there are things [concerns] we share, the way the Russians have dragged or facilitated the Iranian entry into the Syrian situation.

I can imagine that is very threatening to the Israeli security interests.

It is in Israel and Estonias joint interest to put pressure on Russia to make them return to the internationally accepted behavior by way of not unduly interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, he concluded.

Estonia is a member-state of the European Union and in July will assume the presidency of the EU Council, which is assigned on a rotating six-month basis.

The country is a strong supporter of Israel in the EU and the United Nations, but when it comes to the Palestinian conflict, it has a no-tolerance policy toward settlement activity.

We are definitely looking for ways to get to the two-state solution in such a way that does not compromise Israeli security on one hand, but would also allow the Palestinians to realize their national aspirations, Mikser said.

Speaking on behalf of Estonia and the EU, he said, We do not think that the settlement activity should continue at all. In that sense it is impossible for me to say that [this] much is acceptable and not more.

Similarly, he said Estonia opposes unilateral Palestinian steps to achieve statehood and that such recognition should come only as part of a final status agreement for a two-state solution.

Stressing the importance of remaining proactive in the attempts to bring about a resolution to the conflict, Mikser concluded by saying that History has proven that if there are unresolved conflicts, even far away, they will eventually come to our doorstep.

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What Judaism Can Teach Us About Getting Older And Potty Humor – Forward

I never quite feel like Im the right age. My congregants consistently tell me that Im too young to be a rabbi.

When I watched the standup comedian Robert Klein began one of his sets with a song about colonoscopies (below), I also felt be a bit out of place. When the rest of the audience roared with laughter, I knew I fell squarely into the wrong demographic for the show. Sure enough, jokes about erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostates, and memory lapses commenced, all with a smattering of Yiddish. The audience of alter kakers (Yiddish for old farts) loved it. I got a few laughs out of the deal. My wife and our friends enjoyed laughing at my laughter.

At a wedding a couple of years ago, as I walked down the aisle between an endless number of white roses and tea lights, an older man in the crowd said, in a loud stage whisper, Thats the rabbi?! He looks more like a bar mitzvah boy! Along the same lines, nearly every week, the great aunt of the bar mitzvah boy comes up to tell me how young I am but that she nevertheless, enjoyed the service. Needless to say, Ive learned to take these sorts of comments in stride.

To a certain extent, for society to function properly, age does matter. The ancient rabbis taught that Jews progress through the years of our lives pursuing different goals at each step. In the Talmudic collection of proverbs and aphorisms called Ethics of the Fathers, the rabbis taught: Five years is the age for the study of Torah. Ten, for the study of Mishnah. Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot (commandments). Fifteen, for the study of Talmud. Eighteen, for marriage. Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty, for strength. Forty, for understanding. Fifty, for counsel. Sixty, for wisdom. Seventy, for elderliness. Eighty, for power.. (Pirke Avot, 5:22) In other words, our personal goals and our role in society shifts as we age. Understanding our place in the community helps to ensure its continuity and proper function.

So, are we to conform to societys expectations and play the part that our age dictates? Or, should we behave and interact with the world according to how we feel on the inside, our mental age, if you will? I think that the answer is both and neither. Within each of us reside different personality traits, different philosophies, different modes of behavior, different approaches to life – different mental ages. Which of those traits – or ages – we express in any given situation should result from the meeting between who we are and the context in which we find ourselves. We may feel very casual and laid back on the inside. Nevertheless, we should not wear torn blue jeans and a sweatshirt to a funeral. On the other hand, when we meet new people we need to build our relationships based on who we are on the inside, not only on the formal rules of social etiquette. We are social creatures so we ought to express our true selves through the prism of any given social context.

Im going to finish up now because I know you all need to get home to pay the babysitters, Klein said to uproarious laughter from the audience, most of whom had not paid a babysitter in decades. We did, on the other hand, need to get home to pay the babysitter. Im glad that we saw Robert Klein on Saturday night. My friends and I will now be able to laugh about how out of place we were for years to come. Well laugh about it until – God willing – well be the alter kakers laughing about enlarged prostates and colonoscopies.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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What Judaism Can Teach Us About Getting Older And Potty Humor – Forward

ADL Slams Israel’s Travel Ban: ‘New Law Harms’ Fight Against BDS – Haaretz

‘We are deeply invested in fighting scourge of BDS and delegitimization. This law doesnt help,’ Anti-Defamation League says.

The Anti-Defamation League slammed Israels new travel banon Wednesday and said the legislation will cause more harm than good in the battle against boycotts targeting Israel.

The new law, approved by Knesset on Monday, will deny entry into Israel to foreign nationals openly calling for boycotts against Israel and its settlements in the West Bank.

“We are deeply invested in fighting scourge of BDS and delegitimization. This law doesnt help,” the organization tweeted, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. “Israels democracy, pluralism, open society serve as best defense against BDS. New law harms rather than helps.”

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The ADL’s tweet and a statement published on Tuesday by the American Jewish Committee point out that the bill is opposed not only by Jewish groups clearly affiliated with the left-wing, such as J Street, but also by more centrist organizations. The AJC, like the ADL, said that while it was fully committed to battling BDS, it did not view the bill approved on Monday by the Knesset as helpful in that regard.

Other Jewish-American organizations that have spoken out against the new bill so far include the New Israel Fund, whose leadership strongly denounced the bill.

J Street, a leading leftist Jewish group, said in a statement that it was “alarmed” by the legislation and that “there are strong supporters and friends of Israel who participate in or advocate for targeted boycotts of the settlement enterprise beyond the Green Line, motivated by a desire to oppose the occupation and support the two-state solution.”

The ban would apply not just to people who call for boycotts against Israel, but also to those who call for boycotts of any Israeli institution or any area under its control i.e., the settlements.

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ADL Slams Israel’s Travel Ban: ‘New Law Harms’ Fight Against BDS – Haaretz

Once Again, Rabbi Yigal Levinstein Is Under Attack For Defending Torah And Halacha – Yeshiva World News

Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, one of the founders of the acclaimed Bnei David IDF Prepatory Yeshiva in Yishuv Eli, is under attack again. Rabbi Levinstein dared to speak out against mixed gender IDF units, and stated females belong in Sheirut Leumi, not the IDF. Rav Levinstein spoke out strongly against the new policies and the ongoing effort to integrate women into units that have been exclusively for men.

This elicited the ire of many, including the liberal stream of the dati leumi community, non-religious IDF preparatory academies, and womens rights activists. Levinstein, a former high-ranking reserve duty officer, came under attack last summer when he dared to speak out against toeiva in the IDF. He was banned from military bases, where he often visits to give words of chizuk and shiurei Torah.

After his latest remarks, 28 heads of mechinot yeshivot signed a letter against Rabbi Levinstein. Among those who signed the letter are 24 mechinot which are not torani. The torani mechinot include Elisha for men, Tzahali and Lapidot for females, Yonatan, which is for males and females, located on Kibbutz Alumim.

They decry Levinsteins words, his condemnation of female combatants in the IDF. They reject his words and his hashkafa, insisting he is incorrect and has embarrassed and harmed the image of the women soldiers and the IDF.

(YWN Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

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Once Again, Rabbi Yigal Levinstein Is Under Attack For Defending Torah And Halacha – Yeshiva World News

US working with Israel on settlements issue, State Department says – Jerusalem Post Israel News

A Palestinian woman argues with an Israeli border policeman during a protest against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo credit:REUTERS)

WASHINGTON The Trump administration would like to see Israel hold back on settlement activity and is in discussions with the Israeli government as to what exactly that would look like, a State Department official said on Tuesday.

Mark Toner, an acting spokesman who worked on behalf of the prior administration from the same podium, opened the State Department briefing room for the first time since US President Donald Trump took office in January. He took multiple questions on Middle East peace, but provided little clarity beyond what the president has himself expressed on his evolving vision for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

We are working closely with the White House on evaluating where we stand, Toner said, declining to specify what role Jared Kushner, the presidents son-in-law and top adviser, would play in any future peace effort.

Toner said that continued settlement activity in the West Bank might affect the overall climate of potential peace talks, reiterating what Trump administration officials said last month ahead of a visit to Washington from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During that trip, Netanyahu acknowledged that settlements were an issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if not a primary obstacle to peace and said that his government would work with the Trump administration in order to formulate a mechanism to handle any future settlement activity.

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US working with Israel on settlements issue, State Department says – Jerusalem Post Israel News