Thursday, June 23, 2016
NETANYAHU TO MEET WITH KERRY IN ROME TO DISCUSS PEACE TALKS.AND THE UN HAS LOST IT.
MUSLIM RAPES 5 YEAR OLD GIRL
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome amid growing international pressure for the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.Netanyahu’s office said Wednesday that the prime minister will meet Kerry early next week, without providing further details.Israeli media has reported that the two will discuss resuming talks with the Palestinians that collapsed two years ago.Netanyahu faces mounting pressure over the conflict with the Palestinians. He opposes a French initiative, insisting a deal can only be reached in direct negotiations between the two sides. Palestinians have welcomed the French initiative.On Monday a meeting of the EU’s 28 foreign ministers in Brussels unanimously endorsed the French plan to host an international peace process later this year.Israel has repeatedly rejected the French initiative, arguing that it hardens Palestinian negotiating positions and thus distances peace.The Quartet of Mideast mediators — the UN, US, European Union and Russia — are finalizing a report on the conflict expected to be critical of Israel.Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014 amid mutual recriminations.
Israel’s ‘Awesome’ F-35 fighter jets unveiled-Lockheed Martin rolls first planes off production line for Israeli delivery at a ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas; President Rivlin tells European Parliament no point in ‘negotiations for negotiations’ sake’-By Raoul Wootliff June 22, 2016, 1:54 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Lockheed Martin is unveiling the first F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet coming off the production line for Israeli delivery at a ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas.Israel will be the first foreign partner to receive the F-35, which US officials stressed will play a key role in maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East. The aircraft has a range of 2,200 kilometers (1,300 miles approximately) and can carry up to 8,200 kilograms of weapons.Israel has so far purchased 33 such jets, all set to arrive by 2021, and is expected to purchase more, according to Hebrew media reports.Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman will attend the ceremony to formally “receive” the first jet, accompanied by a delegation from the Defense Ministry, the chief of staff of the Israeli Air Force Brigadier General Tal Kalman, Minister without portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi, and senior officials from the US Department of Defense.“The fact that we are here as the first to receive the F-35 and the first to make the aircraft operational, that says a lot,” said Liberman on Tuesday.The first two F-35s, renamed “Adir” (awesome) in Hebrew, will arrive in Israel on December 12, 2016, launching a training period for Israeli pilots, said Kalman, adding that the IAF has passed on a request to IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenskot to “buy 17 more F-35 to make up 50 aircraft,” adding that the issue would soon be brought before the cabinet.-17:30-Israel’s chief rabbinate agrees to mikveh immersion without attendant-The Chief Rabbinate and the Ministry of Religious Services in a filing with the Supreme Court agrees that the use of an attendant during immersion at a ritual bath will be changed from mandatory to optional.The state religious bodies were responding to a suit filed by ITIM, a group that supports Israelis in their encounters with the country’s religious bureaucracy.“Female mikveh bathers can decide for themselves whether to follow this halachic rule (immersing in the presence of the female mikveh attendant), including bathing by themselves or with the company of a friend, while the local religious council and its employees will not condition the bathing with the presence of the female mikveh attendant during the ritual bathing,” reads the response, delivered Wednesday morning to the court by the state attorney’s office, according to ITIM.The response clarifies that the religious position of the Chief Rabbinate is that immersion in the mikveh must be done in the presence of a female mikveh attendant, and that signs to that effect should hang in all mikvehs.— JTA-17:14-Netanyahu confirms Kerry meet next week-The Prime Minister’s Office confirms Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet next week in Rome.The meeting was first reported last week but the PMO did not immediately confirm the meeting, saying it would “make an announcement when there is something to announce.”During a two-day visit to Italy, starting on Sunday, Netanyahu will also meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.-17:13-Rivlin finishes European Parliament speech with Ramadan greeting-President Rivlin closes his address to the European Parliament with a blessing to the Continent’s Muslims for the holy month of Ramadan, which started two weeks ago.“On behalf of the people in Israel, I wish all Europe’s Muslims and the Muslim believers throughout the entire world Ramadan Karim, Kul Am Wa Antum Bikhair,” he said.“Ladies and gentlemen, ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may all who love her prosper. Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sake, I will now say, Peace be within thee,'” he finished, quoting from Psalms 122, 6-8.17:13-Speaking to Europan Parliament President Rivlin slams French initiative-Turning to the peace process, Rivlin tell the European Parliament that while Israel seeks peace, the French initiative to restart the peace process is doomed to fail.“I speak before you today in the name of the citizens of Israel, grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, sick and tired of this bloody vicious cycle which soaks up the blood of our loved ones, the blood of our sons and daughters. I speak before you in the name of these young men and women who wish to live in their country, and not die in their homeland. I speak to you today in the name of a nation which abhors war and desires life and peace. And I must say, one cannot hope to achieve better results while resorting to the same outlooks and tools which have failed time after time previously,” Rivlin says.“The French initiative, adopted by the EU institutions only a few days ago, suffers from those very fundamental faults. The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it. This striving for a permanent agreement ‘now’, is the chronicle of a predictable failure, which will only push the two peoples deeper into despair. This despair is the hottest bed for extremism, and undermines the endeavors of moderates. And this despair, ladies and gentlemen, today seizes not just members of my generation, but also boys and girls growing up in this part of the world, whose world view and awareness are shaped by the violent present. This despair, ladies and gentlemen, is the gravest danger looming over us, Israelis and Palestinians alike,” he adds.At the beginning of the month France held a summit of foreign ministers in Paris to discuss ways to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority were present.16:52-Rivlin: Israel ‘impatient,’ frustrated with European criticism-During his address to the European Parliament, President Reuven Rivlin says some in Israel are frustrated by European criticism of Israel.“I feel that the massive criticism aimed at Israel in Europe stems from, inter alia, a misunderstanding and an impatience toward this existential need of the Jewish Nation and the State of Israel. On the other hand, and much to my regret, Israel has a growing sense of impatience when it comes to Europe. There are those who feel anger and frustration toward certain European actions, vis-à-vis what they perceive as sometimes unfair criticism, sometimes even contaminated by elements of condescension, and some would even say double standard,” he tell the plenary session in Brussels.The president asks the representatives of the European Union to “respect the Israeli considerations, even when different from your own. Respect Israeli sovereignty, and the democratic process of its decision-making. Respect Israel’s staunch commitment, indeed its very duty, to protect its citizens. For us it is the most sacred commandment of all.”-16:31-Rivlin: Israel and Europe share ‘unbreakable bond’-Addressing the European Parliament, President Rivlin stresses the historical and working ties between the European Union and Israel.“Distinguished audience, even the wildest of imaginations could not have foreseen a course of events in which an ancient people returned from years of exile and rebuilt its historic homeland. A wild imagination could neither have foreseen such a convoluted historic course of events in which an utterly torn and bleeding continent, awash with the blood of war and strife, would have paved the way to a joint European parliament. And yes, no less important are the solid, steadfast ties created between us,” Rivlin says.“Ties embodied today in a wide array of joint ventures and cooperation, in research and innovation, in health and the environment, education and culture and many more. Regardless of the perspective with which we look at this, our past, our present, and the future we are awaiting, intrinsically linked, Israel and Europe, in an unbreakable bond,” he adds.-16:28-President Rivlin addressing European Parliament-President Reuven Rivlin is addressing the European Union at a special session in Brussels.“I could say that four hours, and light years, separate Brussels and Tel Aviv, but in truth there is not much difference between them,” Rivlin opens his speech. “Be it in awareness or in essence: two cosmopolitan cities, practically neighbors, not far from each other, both recently struck by a wave of terrorism.”Rivlin was received at the parliament by President of European Parliament Martin Schulz.Following his speech the two will give a joint press conference.-15:55-EU agrees on new border force to tackle migrant crisis-The European Union reaches agreement to set up a new border and coastguard force that could intervene in front-line countries like Greece and Italy to curb the influx of migrants.Negotiators for the 28 EU member states and the European Parliament say they have endorsed a proposal from the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, to set up the force by the summer.The parliament is expected to vote on the issue in a key committee next week, and if it clears that hurdle, to act on it in a full session in the French city of Strasbourg next month.“The agreement on the creation of a European Border and Coast Guard shows that Europe is able to act swiftly and resolutely to deal with common challenges,” says European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the force’s main sponsor.Several countries have reintroduced border controls that were eliminated years ago as part of Schengen as the EU deals with a record flow of more than one million migrants and refugees since the start of 2015. Under the deal, member states would still manage their borders on a daily basis but could call on emergency support from a pool of at least 1,500 border guards.— AFP--15:43-Anti-Semitic Incidents on US college campuses doubled in 2015-New data released by the Anti-Defamation League shows that anti-Semitic incidents at US college and university campuses nearly doubled in 2015.A total of 90 incidents were reported on 60 college campuses in 2015, compared with 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014. Campus anti-Semitic incidents accounted for 10 percent of the total incidents reported in the in 2015.The report showed a general increase in violent anti-Semitic assaults in the United States in 2015 compared with the 2014. According to the annual audit there were 941 incidents in the US in 2015, an increase of about 3 percent from the 912 incidents recorded in 2014.Fifty-six incidents were assaults, the most violent category – representing a more than 50 percent rise from the 36 assaults reported in 2014, the report says.“We are disturbed that violent anti-Semitic incidents are rising,” says Jonathan A. Greenblatt, head of ADL. “And we know that for every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported. So even as the total incidents have remained statistically steady from year to year, the trend toward anti-Semitic violence is very concerning.”-14:59-Turkey arrests 3 IS suspects over ‘LGBT rally plot’-Turkish authorities have arrested three suspected Islamic State (IS) jihadists in a probe into a planned attack on a transgender rights rally last weekend, a report says.The three, comprising one Turkish national and two men from Russia’s volatile Caucasus region of Dagestan, were detained in raids on Friday and remanded in custody by a court on Tuesday, the Dogan news agency says.Items including suicide belts packed with explosives, camouflage gear and military knives were seized by the authorities, it adds. The three had been planning to attack a rally around Istanbul’s Taksim Square promoting transgender rights. The gathering took place on Sunday but was broken up by police.Dogan says the raids had been conducted in the Istanbul districts of Basaksehir and Pendik after police acted on a tip-off.— AFP-14:10-Pope invites refugees to join him on stage for audience-Pope Francis invites a dozen refugees to join him on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica for his general audience to press his demand for Europe to welcome more migrants.A dozen men ascended the steps with Francis and sat in front of him on the ground as he delivered his weekly catechism lesson. They carried banners of the charity that is caring for them and Vatican flags.In his remarks, Francis says the refugees had suffered in their home countries.He said, “Please they are our brothers. A Christian excludes no one. I ask all of you: Let everyone come.”Francis brought a dozen Syrian refugees home with him when he visited Greece in April. Recently, the Vatican brought a second group to Rome.— AP
The United Nations has lost it-June 20, 2016, 3:11 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
The following is an edited version of a speech delivered by Yair Lapid to the Israel Law Center conference in Jerusalem.The United Nations has lost it. When it comes to Israel the UN has lost credibility, lost common sense, and more than anything lost its most important asset – its integrity.At the end of March, I stood in Geneva, with hundreds of protesters, wrapped in Israeli flags. We stood beneath the Broken Chair Monument which stands opposite the United Nations Human Rights Council. Inside, in the elegant hall, there was a debate, another debate, about Israel.The UN Human Rights Council’s treatment of Israel strayed from the boundaries of legitimate criticism long ago. In the past decade the council has voted for 61 resolutions condemning human rights abuses across the world and 67 resolutions which condemned Israel.Let me repeat that — The council has condemned Israel, a democratic country which upholds international law, more times than the rest of the world combined.Israel is the only country on earth which warrants its own agenda item in the UN Human Rights Council. Agenda item 7 dictates that every time the council meets there will be a ‘discussion of the human rights situation in Israel’. This discussion happens irrespective of whether or not there have been reports of human rights violations. It happens without a factual examination of the complaints lodged by Palestinians, usually allies or members of the various terror organizations that are sworn to destroy Israel.For the United Nations, this just doesn’t matter.Together with me, under the Broken Chair, stood some of the victims: An impressive young man whose father, an Israeli peace activist, was murdered by a suicide bomber on a Jerusalem bus. A woman who went for a hike with a friend and her Labrador and was attacked by Palestinian terrorists. They stabbed her friend to death, stabbed her dozens of times and then stabbed her dog as well. “I don’t know why” she said to me quietly, “but most people are more shocked that they killed the dog than my friend.”After the demonstration, they went to speak before the council. They received a cold reception. While they bore witness to the loss of their loved ones, the delegates ate, intentionally spoke loudly, and walked in and out. No one said a word about Israel defending women’s rights and gay rights. No one said a word about Israel’s Arab citizens, sitting in its parliament and on its Supreme Court. In short, no one said a word about Israel being a thriving democracy embodying as its way of life everything the UN exists to promote.Israel’s enemies, on the other hand, hang gay people from telephone poles, believe women are the property of their husbands and obviously don’t believe in institutions like the United Nations.A few months after the embarrassing meeting in Geneva, the World Health Organization, another organ of the UN, held its annual meeting. As expected, the meeting dealt with questions of mortality, life expectancy, spread of disease and the need for vaccines. But the assembly also included one weird exception: It included a harsh condemnation of only one country, Israel.The resolution condemned what it termed the “Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights.” There was no explanation how this might be relevant to health issues. Two hundred meters from the Israeli Golan, in Syria, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are being massacred and that wasn’t mentioned even once.In fact, the only connection between the Israeli Golan and health issues is that for the past few years Israel has quietly rescued hundreds of Syrian children who were injured in the fighting and treated them in our hospitals.The resolution also contained a series of false “facts” based on disgraceful Palestinian propaganda in a report presented to the WHO. For example the report argues that “Israel injects Palestinians with viruses which cause cancer.” This is a monstrous accusation which wouldn’t be out of place in Der Sturmer, and yet it was published without a shred of proof.The report was also decorated with photographs meant to enhance the drama. One, which was captioned “Taken during the Israeli war on Gaza 2014,” is an image of a simulated attack on Tehran which appeared on a popular blog a few years ago. The mountains surrounding the Iranian capital were removed using Photoshop to increase credibility. Another photograph is captioned, “The devastation caused by the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014.” It was actually taken in Beirut in early 2000s.All this, in an official United Nations report.If you’re still not convinced that something twisted and irrational is happening you can visit the United Nations headquarters in New York.There you will find a permanent exhibition which deals with the Palestinian refugee problem. If you look carefully at the statistics, you’ll notice something strange: In 1948, during Israel’s War of Independence, around seven hundred thousand Palestinians fled or were exiled. Each one is an individual tragedy but it’s worth remembering that Israel wasn’t the aggressor in that war.The United Nations voted for the creation of a Jewish state and in response the young State of Israel was attacked by seven Arab armies. During the fighting, many Palestinians left, because they were told that Israel was on the verge of collapse, that all the Jews would be massacred, and the Palestinians would get their homes and cities. Thank God that didn’t happen. The refugees had nowhere to return to. A tragedy for them, but one that happens in war. Actually, at that particular time it happened all around the globe, on much bigger scales.This is where the bizarre process starts: Since 1948 not a single Palestinian has been expelled from Israel. In 1950 UNRWA – the United Nation organization in charge of helping the Palestinian refugees, was founded. At that time, it listed seven hundred and fifty thousand Palestinians. That number is most likely inflated but let’s use it for the sake of discussion. The absurdity comes next: As of 2014, UNRWA lists no less than five million Palestinian refugees.In other words, without the expulsion of a single Palestinian, the UN has listed four million new Palestinian refugees. How did that happen? The answer is that the Palestinians are the only nation in the world – the only one! – Where the status of refugee can be passed down the generations.Palestinians become refugees irrespective of whether they were born in a refugee camp in Lebanon, the Latin Quarter in Paris or a Villa in Qatar. It is total insanity.My father was expelled from his home in Novi Sad in Serbia by the Nazis. He moved to Israel and built his home here. Does anyone in the world treat me or my children as Serbian refugees? Israel has over a million citizens who lived in the Arab world and were expelled or chased out of their homes just for being Jewish. Why does no-one treat them as refugees worthy of compensation? Why is it that only the Palestinians can be born in one country but instantly be granted refugee status from a country they’ve never been to? And if we’re on the subject – what is the justification for the existence of UNRWA? Why do they have their own organization while all the other refugees in the world – from Darfur to Rwanda to Syria to ISIS controlled territories – do not? It’s worth mentioning that UNRWA’s work is mostly in the Palestinian territories and that UNRWA employs Palestinian workers on western salaries. As the number of refugees grows, so too does UNRWA. If they accept the reality – that there are very few refugees left from those who fled in 1948 – the organization would shrink and they would lose their place of work.To prevent that they built a new and cynical industry: they manufacture refugees. The UN encourages this distortion to continue.So, what’s actually happening? The answer is that the United Nations has become a hostage to its own structure. Non-democratic countries have a huge majority in the General Assembly and in most of the committees.What used to be the “non-aligned movement” has grown to include 136 countries, many of which are Islamic states, or dependent on oil money. These countries distorted the aims of the UN. They totally altered its way of functioning. They are partners with BDS organizations.Instead of an organization which protects freedom, democracy, liberal values and world peace, parts of the UN have become the opposite. They have become collaborators with fundamentalist Islam.The automatic majority of the non-democratic countries has become an automatic majority against Israel.In this context, the relative silence of the United States and other democracies is distressing. The United States funds 22% of the UN budget. In fact six countries – the United States, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Germany – fund around 65% of the budget.All that is needed is for those countries to raise their voice and say — loud and clear — they are unwilling to allow this to continue. The wild and fabricated attacks on Israel need to stop.The UN can’t take American money, American resources and American support and use them for a campaign that supports the destruction of the Jewish state. If the UN Human Rights Council wants democratic countries to continue to support it, it should act according to democratic values. It should be based first and foremost on the truth.Attacks on a democratic country committed to human rights in the service of murderous terror organizations is not in the UN mandate. There is no reason the United States and other democracies should agree to fund it.During my last visit to Washington I discussed this with Senators and Members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans. They all agreed that the situation is intolerable.The American taxpayer should no longer consent to their money being used in this way. They don’t work hard and pay taxes for that.On the other hand, when I discussed it with a senior American diplomat at the United Nations he argued that “it’s better to change from within.”That sounds reasonable enough but we’re too late.Those who hate Israel and hate democracy have beaten us to it.They’ve already changed the UN from within.The organization which preached justice and equality has been the subject of a hostile takeover.It’s time for the world democracies to regain control on the UN.
After Orlando, LGBTQ Jews seek more than ‘solidarity’-June 22, 2016, 5:29 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
BOSTON (JTA) — In the wake of the Orlando shooting, statements of solidarity with the LGBTQ community quickly tumbled forth. Some expressions of support came from unlikely sources such as the Orthodox Union and the Catholic Church. But what does a statement of solidarity mean in response to a crisis when it is not expressed in ordinary times? Surely there were LGBTQ Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox Jews and Muslims who were moved to hear their faith community leaders condemn the attack. For many of these faith leaders, it may have felt momentous and bold, risky even, to express empathy with the LGBTQ community.I appreciate the progress represented by these expressions of support, but as a lesbian, I do not actually feel supported by them. The Orthodox Union issued a statement saying “it is clear that those people who were murdered … were targeted because of their identification with the LGBT community. … No American should be assailed due to his or her personal identity.” Yet this same group lobbied against marriage equality and supports religious exemption laws that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.An assurance of solidarity must move beyond compassion for loss of life to affirming the dignity of those who are alive. Without the resolve to support cultural change and policy reform, expressions of solidarity may provide immediate solace but, ultimately, they leave LGBTQ people standing alone.In the aftermath of Orlando, this is especially true for LGBTQ Jews of color, particularly Latin queer Jews. I’ve noticed that most of the Jewish media’s coverage about the Orlando shooting has not acknowledged the experience of Latin LGBTQ Jews who may see themselves in the victims more acutely than Jews of other backgrounds. This erasure adds to their pain and sense of isolation in the wake of this tragedy. True solidarity means honoring the diversity of our community both in the media and in our communal discourse.Solidarity also means reflective accountability. It means asking questions: What enables such hatred to flourish? How have I been a bystander in a culture of bigotry? How have I been complicit in a legal system that perpetuates second-class status for LGBTQ people? Abraham Joshua Heschel famously wrote, “In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, few are guilty, but all are responsible.” The challenge of Heschel’s observation is that words alone are not enough to right the wrongs all around us. Responsibility requires both words and action — not only in the aftermath of a crisis but all the time.Unfortunately, after horrific acts motivated by ideology or committed in the name of religion, religious communities are often quick to disassociate from the perpetrator. When Yishai Schlissel, a haredi Orthodox ex-convict, stabbed six marchers at the Jerusalem Pride Parade last summer — murdering 16-year-old Shira Banki — Jewish community leaders, including many Orthodox voices, did not hesitate to condemn the attack. Yet many of these leaders asserted that Schlissel’s views do not represent Judaism or Torah. I disagree. As a committed Jew, I acknowledge with sadness that Schlissel’s views do represent certain aspects of our religious tradition. We have critical work to do to challenge these currents of bigotry rather than disregard them.As a queer Jew, the solidarity I seek from other Jews is not simply ignoring the passages of Torah that are used to discriminate against LGBTQ people. I seek recognition that homophobia and transphobia actively exist in our modern Jewish community and are perversions within our interpretive tradition. I seek the acknowledgment that religion is too often used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people. By acknowledging this painful reality, we have the opportunity to condemn the ugliness in our tradition and still hold up all that is beautiful.As part of my work at Keshet, a national organization working for LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life, my colleagues and I host a series of Shabbatonim for LGBTQ and ally teens. Each time we host a Shabbaton, I am struck by how many of the teens share that they’ve never before felt so validated, seen and free.“At the Shabbaton, I finally felt like there was no part of myself I needed to hide, and I was able to embrace myself in its entirety,” a gay teen recently wrote to me.Nearly all the teens who participate in our Shabbatonim are part of Jewish communities that would describe themselves as inclusive. Most of them have very supportive parents. They attend high schools with gay-straight alliances. So how is it that kids who have so much support in their lives still feel so alone in the world as queer Jewish teens? Our leaders are clearly falling short. The sign posts for inclusion must be more visible. The language of support must be audible all year round, not only during Pride month or after a tragedy.It shouldn’t take a crisis like the Orlando shooting to catalyze religious leaders’ support for LGBTQ people. In the coming weeks and months, I hope to see people in faith communities — and political leaders of many religious backgrounds — take a bold step toward equality for LGBTQ people beyond attending a vigil or producing a statement.Just as we are hearing a growing chorus of voices reject the “thoughts and prayers” of politicians and demand action for gun reform, I call on all who offer solidarity with the LGBTQ community to continue to stand with us as we move forward. Solidarity must outlast our mourning.—Idit Klein is the executive director of Keshet.
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