Wednesday, July 27, 2016

From Ian:

American Jewish Groups Rally Against Anti-Israel Bias at UN
Over 50 Jewish groups joined forces this week to take action against anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and its agencies, which have often been accused of discriminating against Israel.
The initiative, which was launched by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, consists of a formal declaration and a national and international campaign to “counteract the spate of anti-Israel actions at the United Nations.”
“For years we have witnessed and protested the escalating discriminatory practices and actions against Israel at the UN,” Conference of Presidents Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said in a statement.
“As we have seen in recent months, this bias is being manifested in outrageous and flagrant ways,” they added. “These actions not only distort the truth about Israel, they also undermine the principles of the UN and its Charter. It has to stop.”
“Despite the efforts led by the United States together with Israel and a handful of other countries, vitriolic anti-Israel rhetoric continues to intensify in UN resolutions, reports, and in the official statements from many member states,” the statement continued. “Since November 2012 the Palestinian strategy of using the UN as a weapon against Israel has led to a disturbing increase in the number of anti-Israel resolutions presented in UN bodies.”
They pointed out that resolutions adopted in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, and various other UN sponsored committees and events “reveal an alarming intensification of baseless accusations and demonizing rhetoric against Israel.”
IsraellyCool: Lethal Journalism Made Simone Zimmerman
The lethal journalism which comes from both elite media and partisan or hate sites like +972, Mondoweis and Electronic Intifada become the primary source of information for people like Simone.
Once those sources have hooked her in, the foreign government funded lying NGO’s like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence step in to organise tours and feed “the narratives” which these kids have been primed to believe. They’ve bought the indoctrination and now believe the media and main stream politics is run by a shadowy Jewish Lobby which only presents Israel in a positive light.
At the core of all the hardship stories she believes is a replacement ideology of Muslim Arabs as the new Jews. This replacement ideology is stealing our Jewish identity with their fake and invented “Arab Palestinian” claims to obviously Jewish lands. This “Palestinianised” narrative is fed by well funded NGOs into every elite news agency in Israel for their stamp of official approval and then amplified and twisted by the same NGOs out to this lost generation of Jewish youth.
I can’t leave without offering an answer. Just repeating facts and exposing lies isn’t enough. It’s necessary, of course, because it’s a vital weapon in our arsenal. But we need to hit back harder than ever with our own identity story. This Jewish identity story, as has been explained here at Israellycool for a few years, is blind to that nonsense crayon line from 1948 that people like Simone obsess over.
Michael Lumish: Nothing Left # 109
Michael Burd and Alan Freedman from J-AIR, Nothing Left.
3 min Editorial: Leftism and the media
10 min John-Michael Howson
35 min Ruthie Blum, journalist
56 min Martin Sherman, political
1 hr 25 min Michael Lumish, Israel Thrives blog, USA
1 hr 36 min Isi Leibler, Jerusalem
Part of what I like about these guys, aside from the fact that they give me a venue, is that they attract big names.
Anyone who knows anything about the Long War knows about Isi Leibler's and Martin Sherman's contributions to the conversation.

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
From The New Antisemite:

Luc Descheemaeker (aka O-Sekoer) of Belgium was awarded a special prize ("honorable mention") at the infamous Holocaust cartoon contest organised by the Iranians.  He also received $ 1,000 cash prize.

Luc Descheemaeker teaches art and "culture" at the Sint-Jozefsinstituut at Torhout, a Catholic school in Flanders.  Regards, a Belgian Jewish magazine, (July 2016 issue) contacted the school and was told that they were immensely proud ("très fière") that one of their teachers had been awarded the prize.

Belgian media proudly reports on their award-winning cartoonist without mentioning what he received the award for.

Antisemitism is mainstream.

(h/t Rudi)

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blindersHertzliya, July 26 - Israeli manufacturers of devices meant to restrict the vision of the wearer have noticed a marked uptick in sales of their products to countries recently experiencing increased terrorist attacks by Islamists, an industry representative said today.

E-Ver Enterprises, a trade group, said that since the terrorist attacks in Paris two years ago, Israeli sellers of blinders have seen a 700% increase in exports of those items to France, Germany, Belgium, and the US, with smaller but noticeable increases in the Scandinavian markets.

Sanve Rim, President of the trade group, told reporters that the sharp increase reflected increased demand for blinders that fit the human head, as opposed to the variety designed for horses, which until recently had accounted for the bulk of sales worldwide. "We were fortunately well placed to take advantage of this emerging market," explained Rim. "Industry analysts keenly predicted the need in certain countries for devices to eliminate direct awareness of phenomena that might distract from a specific, narrow perspective on events."

Specifically, he noted, the analysts foresaw how the political leadership of the Western countries directly targeted in Islamist terrorist attacks would struggle to maintain the view that the attackers do not represent a global movement that must be recognized in order to be defeated. "Our chief competition is the shovel industry, but fortunately for us, they were slow to react to this emerging trend," he said. "Besides, blinders are a much more efficient and portable solution for these purposes than burying one's head in the sand, which requires an investment of time and effort. It's fine for people or institutions with no expectations of moving anywhere, and there's little chance of misplacing a hole, but overall there's a bigger market for blinders than for shovels in this regard."

Rim said he and his colleagues expect demand to remain steady at the current elevated levels for at least two years. "I can't see change happening anywhere anytime soon, except maybe Britain," he predicted. "None of the countries currently importing blinders at unprecedented rates have shown any indication that they intend to change course. What I think we can expect, though, is that other Western countries will similarly increase their purchases of blinders - I'm thinking of Austria, for example, as well as Greece, Italy, and Spain."

Concurrent with increased demand for blinders in the West, Rim identifies the opposite trend in the Arab world, with countries such as Saudi Arabia gradually decreasing its reliance on anti-Israel blinders. However, he notes, Israel has no formal trade relations with most of those countries, and therefore its export of blinders is not expected to suffer as a result.

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From Ian:

PMW: PMW calls to ban Jibril Rajoub, head of PA Olympic Committee, due to terror support
Palestinian Media Watch is calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the Palestine Olympic Committee, from all activities and events related to the Olympics, and to demand his removal from his position within the Olympic organization.
This comprehensive PMW report documents that Jibril Rajoub has consistently supported terror and even incited to murder. The report includes documentation of Rajoub's support for attacks
during the recent terror wave (2015-2016); his use of his title as Chairman of the Palestine Olympic Committee when glorifying terror; and his prohibiting Palestinians from participating in peacebuilding sports activities with Israelis.
As an overt supporter of Palestinian terrorism, Rajoub represents the antithesis of Olympic values. At a time when terror is being fought throughout the world, permitting Rajoub to participate in Olympic Committee activities and events disgraces the International Olympic Committee and the entire Olympics community.

Douglas Murray: Jihadis: Who Are Their Targets?
The attacks did of course also give rise to a flush of virtual solidarity. The "Je Suis Charlie" ('I am Charlie') tag prevailed not only in demonstrations but also across Twitter and other social media. In the 18 months since then, the hashtag became repetitively and wearily wheeled out: "Je Suis Paris", "Je Suis Bruxelles" and so on after every attack. Perhaps some people learned subsequently that solidarity on social media -- while having the advantage of making people feel slightly better -- has no effect whatsoever on diminishing or ending the terror. Meanwhile, one of the most important acts of actual solidarity was sorely missing.
The Pope's intervention into the debate after the Charlie Hebdo attack was one of the most regrettable of the whole period. Speaking to journalists on his plane in the week after the attack, Pope Francis signalled to a Vatican official beside him and said, "If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch in the nose." Pretending to throw a punch, the Pope then said: "It's normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others."
Charb and his colleagues -- living and dead -- would have expected nothing more from the Pope whose church had been such a constant target of their pens. Nevertheless, it was a painful intervention. Not only was the representative of a religion whose founder is known for peace now talking the language of violence, but the remark suggested an irreconcilable divide between the religious and the secular in an age of Islamic violence. Where alliances should have been easy, they looked suddenly fractious and impossible.
The brutal slaughter of Father Jacques Hamel opens up this question from the other end. What "provocation" had Father Hamel provided? If any good can come from an act of such savagery. it would be in the possibility of healing such a rift. Obviously the Pope has condemned the killing of a priest of his own church. But many other anti-clerical figures in France may well pause before the enormity of what the jihadists have once again done. You do not have to be religious to experience revulsion at such an act being done to a man of God in the act of celebrating the Eucharist. The usual debates in French life over the role of the church and its role in the state may be able at least to pause during this period, raising the possibility of a more suitable and lengthy pause in hostilities.

Un Watch: UN made discussion of Islamist ideology taboo
Hillel Neuer of UN Watch challenges UN's Durban Racism Program for turning blind eye to genocidal ideology that led to ISIS.

Over the past couple of days I have documented some clear errors and missing context in B'Tselem's new, supposedly exhaustive report on casualties Operation Protective Edge. I have other examples of B'Tselem's inaccuracy, for example claiming that four of the nine people killed in a July 19 airstrike were civilians, when the Abu Rish Brigades claimed all of them - including a 15 and 16 year old - as members:

Never have any NGOs spent as much time and effort to document a single war - a war whose casualties are far fewer than most wars - as Amnesty and B'Tselem are spending on Protective Edge, even two years afterwards. What are they trying to accomplish and why are they trying to claim that so many terrorists were civilian?

The answer perhaps may be seen in the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor Strategic Plan for 2016-2018.

The ICC now looks at NGOs as partners in determining whether war crimes were committed - and some NGOs are salivating at the idea of prosecuting Israel.

The Office of the Prosecutor (OPT) writes:

[T]here are also the first responders—international forces, human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”), media, etc.—who deploy into areas where the OTP has not been able to be present (e.g. due to jurisdiction, required agreements, or security implications for staff or witnesses). While respecting each other’s mandate and independence, the Office has begun to discuss with the NGO community how first responders could support the Office in its work and what support could be expected from the Office.

In relation to investigations, the Office will continue to implement the present strategy. It will focus, in particular, on the following priority areas:
 Closing the time gap between events on the ground and the Office’s investigations by creating partnerships with first responders, creating a gateway for crime reporting and working with partners to preserve relevant information on the internet.
 Increasing its ability to collect different forms of evidence other than witness statements through continually enhancing its scientific and technology-related capabilities. Additionally, it will develop further partnerships to support this strategic need, so that in-house capacity is only developed where it is justified.
 Continuing to strengthen the Office’s analysis function through the further roll-out of the Factual Analytical Database, the upgrade of analytical software, the roll-out of the Gender Analysis, and through strengthening the use of analytical products in investigative decision-making for planning, case selection and case review.

[T]echnology is evolving so rapidly that it will be impossible for the Office to keep current if it does not combine investing in its own expertise with developing strategic partnerships for the purposes of outsourcing, when needed, and for understanding and shaping how future technology can assist it to execute its mandate. The Office has been working with the law enforcement community, NGOs and academic institutions to explore new possibilities to support the identification, collection and presentation of evidence through technology. 
The ICC is overwhelmed and need help to determine what to prosecute. But the fatal mistake it is making is that it is appearing to assume that the NGOs it chooses to partner with are unbiased.

In these cases, nothing could be further from the truth. In respect to Israel, we have documented exhaustively how each of these NGOs are advocates against the State of Israel, not objective gatherers of data that can be trusted.

But the ICC OTP document indicates that there have been talks for a while between the ICC and NGOs regarding the "help" they can give. Amnesty and B'Tselem are putting together very professional websites where their ability to present data in new and attractive ways mask the fundamental problem, known to all computer science students: garbage in, garbage out.

The ICC prosecutor, who freely admits that she does not have adequate technical expertise, can easily be fooled into mistaking flash for accuracy. Just because the B'Tselem and Amnesty sites have lots of information does not mean that the information is accurate. Their methodologies range from flawed to outright dishonesty and flagrant malice. They are hiring people to gather statistics who are themselves biased, or basing their information on questionable sources. They do not use any known methodology for fact-finding that can eliminate bias. And their data shows that they are ignoring any facts that do not conform to their pre-existing biases.

In short, biased and anti-Israel NGOs are taking advantage of an overworked, under-teched ICC to "help" it come to the conclusions that they have already decided on before they started their Gaza projects: that Israel is guilty of war crimes. Both Amnesty and B'Tselem say this or broadly imply this in their literature.

Dead children are not evidence of war crimes. Without knowing the targets and what the commanders knew at the time of the strikes, one cannot come to that conclusion. That is what international law says. But the Amnesty and B'Tselem websites hide or mis-state relevant information that could exonerate Israel. They cynically parade an army of dead Palestinian children to overwhelm the person looking at the data while purposefully hiding evidence that shows that it is Hamas, not Israel, that is responsible for their deaths.  These NGOs  are representing themselves as honest fact-finders to the ICC at the same time that they are falsely telling the world that Israel is guilty.

They should not be trusted partners to an organization that is dedicated to impartiality.

This is a cynical attempt to twist international law into a weapon against Israel. And the ICC prosecutor does not seem to realize - indeed, she simply does not have the tools to understand - that her "partners" are biased as hell. They are respected, they are praised, and one has to dig to see that there is rot in the foundation of their beautiful castles.

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  • Wednesday, July 27, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
For many years, reporters have been fooling themselves into interpreting Hamas statements as if the group is willing to accept Israel under specific circumstances, and every time Hamas explicitly denies any such report.

The initial reports falsely attributing peaceful intentions to Hamas by overlaying wishful thinking on top of actual Hamas statements get remembered by the anti-Israel "peace activist" crowd and the explicit denials don't even get reported.

The most famous example happened in 2011 when Ethan Bronner of the New York Times flatly asserted that Khaled Meshal accepts a two state solution, without being able to actually quote him saying it. The NYT followed with an editorial that continued with that false assertion.

Haaretz had a similar story in 2013, followed by Hamas' explicit denial.

NPR followed in 2014 with another report of Hamas' supposed moderation, again ignoring Hamas; explicit pro-terror statements released every day.

In these cases and more,  Meshal said was that he was willing to accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines (plus flooding Israel with millions of Arabs) as a stage in the destruction of Israel, which is not negotiable.

Now YNet is jumping on the "Hamas is moderate" bandwagon:
Chief of Hamas Political Bureau Khaled Mashal has once again made relatively moderate statements about his organization's involvement in any future peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians in a conversation with Indian journalists on Tuesday.

Mashal said, speaking in English, "Hamas believes that we have full rights over the whole land and we don’t recognize occupation. Our fathers and grandfathers lived there. Hamas is also very much keen on a unified Palestine front. That is why we have accepted a joint Arab and Palestine program, based on 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, with the right of return of Palestinians expelled during years by successive Israeli governments."

Asked about the apparent contradiction in his position, Meshal answered, "We are facing apartheid. Nobody can force us to treat Israel as friendly nation or a legitimate entity. All of this also doesn't mean that at a certain moment or at a proper moment, we will not negotiate with the enemy. Given the political circumstances, we are positive of achieving our national goal through political means.
Once again, reporter are injecting their own wishful thinking on Meshal's words.

And once again, Hamas is clarifying that Meshal meant no such thing. Palestine News Network writes:
The Islamic Resistance Movement "Hamas" denied alleged statements attributed to politburo chief Khaled Meshaal about the issue of recognition of the occupation.

Hamas said in a statement Tuesday evening "the issue of whether to recognize the occupation are lies attributed to him, alleging that he began to spin [the idea] in the Israeli press statements."

It stressed that these fabricated allegations are "aimed at distorting the image of the movement its leadership," asserting that the movement and its leadership has well-known, unchanged positions to refuse to recognize the Israeli occupation.

The Hamas movement called on the media to investigate the accuracy and objectivity in dealing with the positions of the movement and the statements of its leaders.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

  • Tuesday, July 26, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
  • ,

From the New York Times coverage of the latest terror attack in France:
France has had three major terrorist attacks in the space of 19 months: an assault on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and other locations around Paris in January 2015, which killed 17 people; coordinated attackson a soccer stadium, the Bataclan concert hall, and cafes and restaurants in and around Paris on Nov. 13, which killed 130 people; and a rampage on July 14 in the southern city of Nice by a man who rammed a cargo truck into a Bastille Day crowd and shot at the police with a handgun, killing 84 people.
"And other locations"? The other location was the Hypercacher kosher grocery store where 4 Jews were mowed down.

Was this just a simple oversight not to mention it even in passing since "only" four were killed and it was related to the Charlie Hebdo attack?

The link given is only for Charlie Hebdo so that doesn't tell us about the Hypercacher attack. The "other locations" isn't hyperlinked to Hypercacher.

But again, this could just be a simple oversight, right?

However, elsewhere in the article there is this paragraph:

President François Hollande blamed the Islamic State for the attack — the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry — and soon after the terrorist group claimed responsibility, calling the attackers its “soldiers.”
The hyperlink for "series of assaults" goes to an article that also doesn't mention Hypercacher. And that article in turn has links to two more articles about attacks over the past two years that doesn't mention Hypercacher, or any background that would link to the Toulouse school murders of 2012 or the Brussels Jewish museum murders of 2014.

For a news source with such a large data store of stories on terrorist attacks in Europe, it is disconcerting that the current articles cannot be used by a curious reader to find links, even indirectly, to any terror attacks on Jews in Europe in recent years.

This is more that a coincidence. The subconscious thinking by editors at the New York Times, and elsewhere, is that attacks on Jews by Islamists are in a different category than attacks by Islamists on everyone else. Attacks on non-Jews are regarded as more outrageous than attacks on Jews. In a small way, antisemitic attacks are sort of understood. Not condoned, of course; not acceptable and terrible, but in a small way they are not quite as bad as attacks on, well, let's call them "normal people."

(H/t Richard)

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From Ian:

Isi Leibler: Abusing the term ‘fascism’ in relation to Israel
It is now a worldwide phenomenon that left-wingers and increasing numbers of liberals chant the mantra that Israel is led by extremists and becoming transformed into a full-fledged fascist state. Unfortunately, such unadulterated nonsense is expressed daily and is highlighted in Haaretz, illustrating the primitive measures even Jewish opponents of our government are willing to take in order to demonize the Jewish state.
Their defamation includes accusations of war crimes and deliberate killing of children, applying apartheid to the Arab Israeli minority, suppressing freedom of expression, maintaining an occupation and denying Palestinian statehood. In a nutshell – a fascist regime.
Joseph Goebbels demonstrated that if one constantly repeats a lie, people begin to accept the lie as truth.
My objective, without suggesting that we are perfect, is to briefly identify and rebut such lies and demonstrate that there is no country in the world that surpasses the level of democracy by which Israel is governed.
In addition, the extraordinary success of Israel’s democratic system is all the more impressive because it was achieved despite facing major obstacles.
From its inception, Israel has been surrounded by states committed to its destruction. These neighbor states are notorious for denying basic human rights to their own citizens and in most cases are Islamic dictatorships. Over the past five years, the region has reverted to the Dark Ages with hundreds of thousands being killed and millions displaced in intra-Arab conflicts. In this context, Israel represents an oasis of stability and peace.
Israel has been obliged to allot a greater proportion of its budget for defense than any other nation.
It is situated on the global front lines combating terrorism and must be in permanent readiness to face wars from its fanatical adversaries who remain committed to terminating Jewish sovereignty.

NGO Monitor: The Role of EU Funding in UK “Lawfare” against MK Tzipi Livni
At the end of June, the British police created a diplomatic furor by sending Israeli MK and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni a summons ahead of a trip to the UK Purportedly, Livni was sought for questioning regarding her alleged involvement in “war crimes” during Operation Cast Lead (the December 2008-January 2009 Gaza conflict). According to news reports, the summons was canceled following “diplomatic contacts” between Israel and the UK, and Livni was granted diplomatic immunity for her trip.
The driving force behind the ongoing lawfare campaign against Livni and other senior Israeli officials is the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), which has been lobbying the UK, among other European countries, in an attempt to have Livni arrested.
New information reveals that this NGO is funded by the EU – specifically for lobbying European decision makers!
PCHR is funded by the EU, in conjunction with Oxfam-Novib, for a project aimed at helping “PCHR inform national and international discussions and policy actions with regards to the Israel-Palestine conflict” as well as to facilitate “the lobby visits of PCHR to the EU and EU member states.”
Total EU funding for this project was €123,354 for the period of March 2014-March 2016. PCHR also received $710,000 in core funding from Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands (via a joint mechanism administered by the Ramallah-based Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat).
David Collier: Nicola Sturgeon, how welcome are Jews in Scotland?
As far back as 1997, during the Oslo peace talks, antizionists attacked Israeli performers at the festival. In 2008 the Jerusalem Quartet concert was disrupted, in 2012 it was the turn of the Batsheva Dance Troupe. In 2014, anti-Israel activists called on the venue to cancel a show with Israeli performers, and local police forced the venue to incur additional security costs. In turn, the venue demanded additional funds from the performers.
So in 2015, Haaretz reported that for the first time in years, Israeli performances were not hosted at the festival at all. This silencing of the Israeli voice is celebrated as a victory by the anti-Israel activists. The voice that seeks dialogue and accommodation is being silenced.
The festival is not the only place in Scotland such opposition is seen, less than two years ago a worker at an Israeli cosmetics stall in Glasgow had a ‘burning liquid’ thrown at her. The university space is also rabid, with events being called off due to protests, and Jewish students at universities are “denying or hiding” their identity because of discrimination. These events, including the protests at Edinburgh, are all connected.
Yet here is a simple fact. Israel is by far the most diverse nation in the Middle East. Despite the accusations of the protesters, there is not a single nation in the region that is as free, as democratic, as liberal or as diverse as Israel. Not one. What else sets it apart from all of its neighbours though, is another simple fact. It is the only nation in the world that is Jewish.

B'Tselem's Gaza application lists one outrageous case:
'Aliyyah Hussein Muhammad Qanan. 112 years old, resident of Khuza'a, Khan Yunis district. Injured on 29 Jul 2014, in Khuza'ah, Khan Yunis district, by gunfire from an aircraft, and died on 02 Aug 2014. Did not participate in hostilities. Additional information: Injured while searching for his brother how [sic] had been injured earlier. Died of his wounds on 10 October 2014.
112 years old? Looking for his brother?

If he was 112, he was one of the top three oldest men in the world. Such a death would have been all over the Palestinian - and Israeli - media.

Yet independent information about the late Mr. Qanan is hard to find. He is listed as having died on a list compiled on July 23 here. At the very least B'Tselem has the date wrong.

This list says that "he" is a woman. Nothing about her age.

Someone with that name apparently died. That's all we know. Certaainly B'Tselem is wrong on the date, and probably on the gender. Which means that the details about how "he" was injured while searching for "his" brother came only from quite unreliable Palestinian sources - the same sources that now claim, two years later, that this person was 112 years old.

The specifics are important, because B'Tselem is telling the world that it has the detailed circumstances on every death in the Gaza war, based on that information it is claiming that a certain number of people were uninvolved in hostilities, another number was over 70, and so on. If the details are shown to be wrong then how can we trust anything that B'Tselem is saying?

If it wanted to be accurate it would add the proper caveats both in each individual case and in the aggregate numbers. It doesn't. That lack of transparency indicates that the purpose of this data gathering is not to uncover truth, but to push anti-Israel propaganda.

And tomorrow I will give a possible reason why.

(h/t Bob Knot)

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Last week I attended the graduation ceremony at Tiltan, one of Haifa's two art schools.

It is stunning to consider that, in a city with a population of approximately 300,000 residents, we have two universities, including the world renowned Technion Institute, two art colleges and a teacher's training college. Haifa also has one of the most famous high-schools in the country - which was founded 103 years ago, before Israel became a State. We have one of the best grade-schools in the country as well.

Education has always been important to Jews. We are, after all, the People of the Book.

Tiltan is a school of design and visual media. The student population, like at all the institutes of higher education in Haifa, is mixed Jewish and Arab.

The graduation ceremony I attended took place on the roof of the school. It was packed. The sheer amount of creative people all together was amazing to consider and doubly so after learning that the ceremony was split in to two sections, according to what the students studied. There were simply too many students to include in a single event. When considering that this is just one of two art schools in Haifa it becomes even more remarkable.

There was an exhibition of student projects on each floor of the school. The projects are made available for public viewing so that, in addition to displaying the students' achievements for friends and family, business people can come scout out fresh talent they would like to work with.

The building itself is interesting. The funky interior design is what could be expected of any art school, anywhere in the world. It is in the basement where visitors can see the building's past – under the British Mandate it was used as a bank and it still has safe-rooms, where the money was once stored, fortified doors and all.

The ceremony was uniquely Israeli; very simply arranged and ultra-casual but it was the content that made it unlike anything you would find anywhere else in the world.

The ceremony started acknowledging students who had been killed in terror attacks over the years, people whose families donated scholarships in memory of their loved ones. These scholarships were given to exceptional students: men and women, Jews and Arabs.

First, second and third year students who were outstanding in their field of study received certificates of excellence. More than one student was honored for their kindness towards others, for going out of their way to assist people in need.

From the beginning of the ceremony a woman sat at the side of the stage, translating everything in to sign language. Who was she translating for? Simultaneous sign language translation is done for prime time news on tv but is not something one would normally see at a graduation ceremony. It wasn't long before I discovered the explanation. The student deemed the overall most outstanding in her studies also happens to be deaf. This translator had attended every class with her throughout her three years of study! Many of students, her friends, surrounded her, also speaking in sign language.

Everyone in the audience quickly learned that raising your arms and shaking your hands signifies applause which was given with great enthusiasm.
In an aside, the Master of Ceremonies, noted that this student would also be participating in the upcoming Olympics though he did not say in what capacity.

At one point a certain student was invited to the stage. I wondered how he would mount the stage as he was in a wheelchair and there were a few steps to reach the stage. Out of nowhere a few students unfolded a mobile ramp, set it in place and made sure it was safe for the young man to roll up and take center stage. To my surprise music began playing and the young man began singing.

Did you know it's possible to dance in a wheelchair?

His song was about hopes, dreams and achievement. The crowd was moved by the strength of his performance, the uplifting music (not by his handicap).

For those attending, not already familiar with the story, we were given an explanation. This young man had not been wheelchair-bound all his life. It was in 2009 that his life changed. He was one of the victims of an attack that horrified the nation: a psychopathic nut shot up a youth LGBT nightclub, murdering two and injuring others. This was one of the injured.

He will never be able to walk again but he soars on his music, proving to us all that it is possible to skip walking and move straight to flying…

As the ceremony continued, the ramp was moved aside just as swiftly as it had been put down. A representative of the bereaved families stood up to speak and present the scholarships. He spoke of his daughter who had been blown up in a suicide attack in Haifa. He spoke of her creativity and how he was happy that other students could expand on her ideas, how the students should grasp on to even the most fleeting of ideas, never dismissing them, because it is impossible to know what something that began small could eventually grow to be...

I watched as the graduating students received their certificates. Jews, Arabs, new immigrants, young and older students. People of all shapes and sizes. One mother received her diploma with a baby in her arm and her older children by her side. The ramp was again brought out to accommodate a different student in a motorized wheelchair. It seemed like he was born with cerebral palsy which weakens and can, as in his case, deform the body but does not affect the quality of the mind inside the head.

After the ceremony was over, the exhibition of student projects was officially opened. Some were not that great. Most were really interesting, thought provoking and unusual.

It was a night celebrating academic achievement, education and accomplishment.

Education is important but the real education isn't in books.

In a ceremony honoring so many talented people and so much obvious academic achievement, the real accomplishment, the real education was in being a better human being: someone who knows that value is in content of character, not the way a person looks, their background or anything else.

The real education was in the understanding that if you allow your spirit to soar and you try hard enough nothing can ever hold you back: "If you can dream it, you can make it real."

How very Israeli.

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From Ian:

MEMRI: Former Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Advocates Non-Violent Resistance: Attacks On Civilians, Like Murder Of Teen In Her Sleep, Play Into Israel's Hands
Following the release on July 1, 2016 of the Quartet report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which called for the cessation of violence and advancement of the two-state solution, Ashraf al-'Ajrami, a former minister for prisoner affairs in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, penned an article responding to the report. 'Ajrami condemned the report for holding the Palestinians and Israelis equally responsible for the impasse in resolving the conflict. At the same time, he also directed criticism at the PA leadership for allowing such a report to be released as well as for its governing of the West Bank. He noted that the security situation there is steadily deteriorating, and that popular support for the PA is considerably low. He stressed that the Palestinians should avoid targeting civilians – such the action of the Palestinian who broke into a home in a West Bank settlement and stabbed a young girl to death as she slept – because such attacks tarnish the Palestinian's image and benefit Israel. He advocated sticking to non-violent resistance that places Israel in a difficult position and advances the Palestinian cause in the world.
The following are excerpts from his article:
"We can no longer distinguish between the mistakes that do us considerable damage and must be pointed out – such as attacks on civilians, like the murder of the girl in her sleep – and measures that confront the occupation efficiently and effectively. We are dragged into doing [precisely] what the Israeli government wants, namely into the rubric of armed struggle, especially against civilians. This not only places us in conflict with the Israeli army, which has [military] superiority over us and is able to do us considerable damage, as happened in the Second Intifada. It can [also] absolve Israel of political responsibility and make us just as responsible for the situation as Israel [itself]... The violence of the Israeli authorities is aimed at preventing us from engaging in non-violent popular resistance that causes Israel distress, embarrasses it in the international arena and places it in conflict with a defenseless people that is demanding its rights of an occupation machine, armed to the teeth, that is persecuting it.

The Truth About ‘Settlement Growth’
There are four common myths or misconceptions that infuse U.S. and European peace process diplomacy when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The first is that there are millions of Palestinian refugees. This number is arbitrary, the result of UN sleight-of-hand. After all, the United Nations uses a different definition with regard to Palestinians than it does everywhere else in the world. The late University of Illinois Professor Fred M. Gottheil tackled this issue a decade ago in Middle Eastern Studies.
Then, there is the issue that demographic reality means that Israel must make peace now lest Palestinian population growth mean that Israel will lose its democratic character. At the root of this view, however, is blind acceptance of Palestinian Statistics Agency numbers, as Yakov Faitelson definitively showed in the Middle East Quarterly.
A third myth appeals to the humanitarian impulses embraced by so many across the political spectrum. It holds that the plight of the Palestinians (and especially the Gaza Strip which hasn’t been under occupation for a decade) is a humanitarian tragedy. And while the Palestinian leadership may be tragic in its disdain for life, liberty, and the bettering opportunities and freedoms within society, the simple fact of the matter is that living standards in the Gaza Strip are better than those in Turkey and many other developing countries.
The fourth and perhaps most pernicious myth is that settlements are the chief impediment to fruitful peace talks. A bit of background: The Obama administration entered office putting Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank front and center. In contrast to his predecessors, President Obama made freezing the expansion of settlements and towns in disputed territories—both in terms of area and population—a prerequisite to further peace talks rather than a subject for diplomatic discussion. In effect, by acting as the zoning commissioner for Jerusalem rather than the leader of the free world, Obama gave Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a free pass on his refusal to respond to previous Israeli peace offers, be they from 2000 or 2008. The Israeli government might offer talks anytime, anywhere but the Palestinian Authority could and did use Obama’s initial statements as a reason not to engage.

Looking further at how B'Tselem reported on some specific incidents that it covered in its new website dedicated to exhaustively documenting the 2014 Gaza war, we see a curious omission.

B'Tselem's goal is to make it look like the IDF was guilty of war crimes. It does this by documenting civilians killed with no apparent militants in the area.

In the tragic case of the Abu Itta family, B'Tselem seems to be going out of its way to say that the IDF is lying.

The IDF writes:
Allegation Concerning the Deaths of Members of the Abu Itta Family in Tel Al-Za'atar (24 July 2014) –

In media reports, as well as complaints received by the MAG Corps from NGOs, it was alleged that on 24 July 2014, as a result of an air strike on the house of the Al-Ajrami family in Tel Al-Za'atar, five members of the Abu Itta family who were in an adjoining building were killed. Subsequently, and in accordance with the MAG's investigation policy, the incident was referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination.

According to the factual findings collated by the FFA Mechanism and presented to the MAG, at the time in question, a weapons cache was struck that was located in the house of a senior military operative in Hamas, Ahmad Al-Ajrami. Prior to the strike on the cache, the IDF issued a number of detailed warnings over the telephone, wherein the residents of the building in which the weapons cache was located, and the residents of a number of surrounding buildings that were expected to be damaged as a result of the strike, were asked to vacate the premises. Additionally, a warning strike was executed on the roof of the building in which the weapons cache was located, as well as on the roof of the adjoining building which was expected to be significantly impacted as a result of the strike, as part of the "knock on the roof" procedure. During this time, many people were seen leaving these buildings. The strike was carried out after it was assessed that it was possible to conclude that civilians were not expected to be harmed in the building targeted and the adjoining buildings, as a result of the strike.

After the event, it appears that as a result of the strike, five civilians, members of the Abu Itta family, were killed, and others were injured. It was not fully determined whether those deceased had been present in an adjoining building whose evacuation was specifically asked for, or whether they were in another adjoining building that had been damaged more significantly than had been expected.

After reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG found that the targeting process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements. The decision to strike was taken by the competent authorities, and was aimed at a military objective – a weapons cache. The strike complied with the principle of proportionality, as at the time the decision was taken, it was considered that the collateral damage expected from the strike would not be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated from it, and it appears that this estimation was not unreasonable under the circumstances. Moreover, the strike was carried out while undertaking a series of precautionary measures which aimed to minimize civilian harm. Inter alia, a specific warning was provided to the residents of the buildings which were expected to be impacted as a result of the strike, and ongoing visual surveillance of the event was used to confirm their evacuation.
B'Tselem reports on each of the family members killed in this way:
Ahmad Ibrahim 'Abdallah Abu 'Aytah. 31 years old, resident of Jabalya R.C., North Gaza district. Killed on 24 Jul 2014, in Jabalya R.C., North Gaza district, by gunfire from an aircraft. Did not participate in hostilities. Additional information: Killed together with his parents, son, and brother in their home in a strike on the neighboring house, which was empty.
B'Tselem seems to be saying that it is quite aware of the IDF report that there was a weapons cache in the house of the Hamas operative next door, and instead of reporting about it - which is what an ethical fact-finding organization should do - it chooses to pretend that there is no counter-evidence to its conclusions.

UPDATE: B'Tselem, in an earlier report, actually mentioned a legitimate military target in this case that it ignored in the application: (h/t Bob Knot)
At around 1:30 A.M. on 24 July 2014, the air force attacked a house in Jabaliya R.C. in the northern Gaza Strip. One of the sons of the man who owned the targeted building is a member of Hamas’ military branch.

There is a reason why Amnesty and B'Tselem are choosing to do these exhaustive and misleading or false investigations into Protective Edge. I hope to discuss this tomorrow.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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