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Today's News

Sept. 30, 2016




Scores of Israelis Arrive at Knesset to Pay Tribute to Peres

By Israel Hayom,, VOA News &


The flag-draped coffin of former President Shimon Peres was laid in state in the Knesset Plaza on Thursday to allow the public to bid farewell to the last of Israel's founding fathers and its most veteran statesman. The ninth president died on Wednesday, aged 93, two weeks after suffering a massive stroke.


Israeli flags were lowered to half-staff at all government and state buildings, military and police bases, and Israeli embassies worldwide. The directive remains in effect until sunset Friday.


Peres' coffin arrived at the Knesset Plaza shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday. At 8:45 a.m., President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog laid wreaths at its base.


MKs from all political factions, as well as members of Peres' staff, passed by the coffin to pay their respects. The Knesset allocated 12 hours, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., for the public to pay their respects. Scores of Israelis huddled outside the Knesset Plaza from early Thursday to await their turn. The Knesset Guard said hundreds of thousands of people were expected to pass by the coffin.


A special area was designated just outside the plaza for those wishing to light memorial candles or leave flowers. The space could not be set up inside the compound for security reasons. The Knesset's Symbols and Ceremonies Committee, which plans the funerals of all state officials, issued a statement outlining the schedule for Friday's service.


A committee official described the preparations for Peres' funeral as "unprecedented in scope." The protocols have been dubbed "And Now Tomorrow," for the title of a book Peres penned in 1978. The state service is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday, when Peres' coffin will be taken to Mount Herzl.


The service there will be held at 9:30 a.m., and several Israeli and foreign dignitaries are expected to speak. At the family's request, singer David D'Or will perform the Avinu Malkeinu prayer.


At 11 a.m., the procession will walk to the Great Leaders of the Nation plot, where the funeral service will begin at noon and Peres will be laid to rest. Giant screens have been set up at the site to allow participants to see the speakers.


Dozens of world leaders are expected to attend the funeral, and began arriving in Israel on Thursday morning. Given the number of foreign dignitaries attending, security is paramount. The Prime Minister's Office and the Defense Ministry are overseeing the logistics of the service, and the police are preparing for unprecedented deployment.


Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh will oversee security aspects, which will involve the police, Border Police, IDF, Shin Bet security agency and several other government agencies. Magen David Adom emergency services have also been placed on special alert. Hundreds of paramedics and dozens of ambulances, MDA motorbikes, and EMT units, will be deployed in the capital to meet any medical emergency.


Army Radio reported Thursday that large security forces will be deployed throughout the capital on Friday, as the funeral coincides with the traditional Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque, which sometimes have been followed by unrest in and around the Temple Mount.


Ahead of the state funeral, Israeli security forces ramped up operations to secure the event. With world leaders including President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton expected to attend, Israeli police and internal security agencies are taking every precaution – including preemptive arrests of people they have deemed potential troublemakers.


Speaking at a press conference Thursday evening, Israeli Police Chief Roni Alsheikh revealed that a number of right-wing Jewish activists and Arabs had been arrested over the past day, as part of efforts to ensure that the funeral runs smoothly – and safely. “For security purposes for what will be happening in the next 24 hours and coming days, we assessed all the possible threats to the event and sources of threats. That could mean threats or provocations [as well as terror] and we’ve also carried out preemptive arrests in specific cases for this event we’re now preparing for.”


Alsheikh played down the arrests, noting that the number of people taken into custody was small. “These aren’t large numbers. We’re talking now about a very small number of people that we have identified as posing a possible threat or who could create provocations [during the funeral].”


According to a report by Channel 2, the arrestees include three Jewish activists from around the country. “There may be surprises,” Alsheikh said, “and we’re prepared for those surprises. It is an unprecedented event in its scope. There are no specific warnings or information [on specific threats]. We are preparing for everything – terror attacks or provocations. Of course we’re not sealing it off hermetically, but we need to have a good response prepared.”


In a surprising snub, no Arab leader will attend Peres' funeral. The decision by Arab officials to avoid the service puzzled many in the Foreign Ministry, given the ninth president's significant contribution to promoting peace in the Middle East. Egypt and Jordan, with which Israel has peace treaties, said their ambassadors in Israel would attend the service.


A senior Jordanian defense source cited King Abdullah II's rigorous security as the reason for his absence. Morocco, which maintains no diplomatic ties with Israel, was the only Arab state outside Jordan and Egypt to announce it would pay its respects to the late president, with Rabat informing Jerusalem Thursday morning that King Mohammed VI of Morocco will send an emissary to represent him at the service. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas conveyed his condolences to Peres' family.


In a missive to the family, Abbas called Peres, who was one of the architects of the 1993 Oslo Accords, "a courageous leader," saying he "spared to effort to strike lasting peace, from the Oslo Accords to his last day."


Still, neither Abbas nor any other Palestinian Authority official will attend Friday's state funeral at the Great Leaders of the Nation plot on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.


Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Palestinian media that "Shimon Peres' hands are stained with the blood of Palestinians" and that "near the end of his life, Peres articulated compromising positions."


Hizbullah's Al Manar Television described Peres as "the spiritual father of the Zionist nuclear program," because of his involvement in the inception of the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona. The Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen network, affiliated with both Hizbullah and Syrian President Bashar Assad, posted a laconic report titled, "Shimon Peres, one of the founders of the Israeli entity, dies."


Sky News Arabia, broadcast in the Persian Gulf, described Peres as the "godfather of [Israeli] armaments and founder of the settlements." The Saudi Al-Arabiya network said he was "one of those responsible for the expulsion of Palestinians" in 1947.


President Barack Obama is flying to Israel, where he will speak at the funeral of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres, the White House said. Obama will lead a delegation of 32 U.S. officials, including former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry, Democratic Senator Bob Casey and Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader in the House of Representatives.


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Peres devoted his life to the sovereignty of the Israeli people. "As a man of vision, his gaze was aimed to the future," Netanyahu said. "As a man of security, he fortified Israel's strength in many ways, some of which even today is still unknown. As a man of peace, he worked until his final days toward reconciling with our neighbors for a better future for our children."


 Iran is More of a threat to the West than ISIS



Iran is more of a threat to the Western world than the Islamic State, wrote former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in the pages of the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. Ya’alon explained that “the threat of a militaristic messianic Iran – 80-million strong – is much more menacing to Western interests than the Sunni thugs and murderers of Raqqah and Mosul.”


Iran is the “prime backer of the genocidal Syrian regime” as well as of its terrorist proxy Hizbullah, which Iran uses as “a strategic tool to undermine the legitimate role of the Lebanese government.” In addition, Iran supports the Houthis, who overthrew the internationally-backed government of Yemen, as well as radical Shiite elements in the Arab Gulf states. Iran also supplies the terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad with weapons, financing, and know-how. Ya’alon continued,


“Those who believed that the nuclear agreement would lead to a more moderate, open, reformist Iran, at home and abroad, regrettably suffer from wishful thinking.” In fact, Iran has become more aggressive. “So long as the ayatollah’s regime governs Iran,” he wrote, “there is no chance we will see a McDonald’s in Tehran. Instead, we will see more executions, more repression, and more tyranny.” Because of Iran’s expansionism and aggression, “Arabs and Israelis are in the same boat, facing Iranian-backed threats all around us.”



 Ukraine Marks 75 Years Since Babi Yar Mass Slaughter of Jews



A somber Ukraine on Thursday marked 75 years since the World War II slaughter of some 34,000 Jews on the outskirts of Kiev, one of the largest massacres of the Holocaust. The carnage by Nazi forces at the Babi Yar ravine has caused years of soul-searching and debate in Ukraine over the participation of local collaborators in the killings and atrocities that followed.


Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was meant to attend a memorial ceremony led by Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko and the European Union's Donald Tusk on Thursday evening. But he cut short his visit to Kiev due to the death of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres - although not before drawing criticism for "undiplomatic" comments about Ukrainians' role in the Babi Yar slaughter.


The anniversary comes at a sensitive time for Ukraine, as a confrontation with Russia has sparked a rising tide of nationalism that has increasingly lionized some groups accused of WWII crimes against the Jews.


Members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) collaborated with Hitler's generals in the early years of the war, because they felt the Nazis could help them win independence from the Soviet Union's even-more-hated Stalin.


Rivlin did not shy away from telling Ukrainian lawmakers in Kiev on Tuesday that "many of the crimes were committed by Ukrainians" during the Holocaust. "The fighters of UPA were especially prominent," said Rivlin. "They victimized the Jews, killed them, and in many cases reported them to the Nazis."


Rivlin's comments led the Ukrainian parliament's deputy speaker to condemn his remarks as "undiplomatic. Certain statements of our esteemed guest were out of place in these days of mourning, with them spoken in the parliament of a country that today is also fighting for its independence."


The Nazis helped by local auxiliaries exterminated the Jews between September 29 and 30 of 1941 as they blitzed their way toward Moscow and captured major cities on the western flank of the former Soviet Union. The last survivor of that carnage still alive in Kiev told AFP that Jews comprised about a quarter of the city's 800,000-strong population at the time.


About 100,000 live in the city today out of a population of around 2.8 million and Yiddish, once widely spoken among Ashkenazi Jews, is almost never heard on the streets. Babi Yar is now rarely mentioned by locals. But the horror of those dark days is still vividly etched in the memories of some.


"We were gathered and sent along 'the path to death'," Raisa Maistrenko, 78, said in an interview at what today is a green ravine scattered with Soviet-era monuments and a Jewish Menorah candelabrum put up when the empire was crumbling in 1991. Just 29 people managed to escape execution by either falling into the mass grave before being shot in the back or wearing crosses to hide their true religion.


Maistrenko's 18 relatives never returned from Babi Yar. "All the Jews decided to go because they thought they would be evacuated by train as the railway station was nearby. Nobody could possibly assume there would be a mass execution," she recalled in hushed tones. "We heard the shooting behind us, but (my) granny - she kept holding me - did not look back and kept running until she fell exhausted among the graves in a nearby cemetery."


Maistrenko said they were hiding there until sunset before finding their way back home under the cover of darkness. There - to their relief - no one reported them to the Nazis. "There were two big houses in our courtyard filled with multi-national families, but all were very friendly to each other," Maistrenko said.




 The Holocaust and Hitler's Third Reich  in Hollywood Cartoons


Donald Duck: Der Fuehrer's Face


Cubby Bear:


The Ducktators:


Daffy Duck, The Commando


Bugs Bunny, Herr Meets Hare:


Donald Duck: Commando Duck:


3 Little Pigs: Blitz Wolf:


Popeye: Spinach fer Britain



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By Frances Bernay-Cohen

I can't speak for you, but my grandparents came to the United States to find a refuge from "change." They came to The United States where their basic freedoms were guaranteed by the Constitution; where they could build a future on this solid ground.

Whether our forefathers and forI'm sure you will find some truth in this song.






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Air France flew from the U.S. to Israel during the early 1950s. They flew Lockheed Constellations and the flying time was 20 hours.

This promotional film - in English for an American audience - shows Israel as it was three years after the War of Independence .

Please click photo





 Paradise Regained, Paradise Lost

By Don Canaan (Commentary)

This year marked the 34th anniversary of the return of the Sinai by Israel to Egypt--a day of mourning by many of the 2,000 settlers who settled and later were forcibly evacuated by Israeli authorities under the command of Ariel Sharon, from the seaside city of Yamit on the Mediterranean.

Yamit was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's dream--a projected seaport and city of 250,000 founded on the Sinai sand dunes overlooking date palm trees and the blue Mediterranean--a populated buffer between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on the other side of the Suez Canal.

Some alternate historians say Moses and the children of Israel passed near the site of Yamit 3,500 years ago as they wandered for 40 years through the Sinai Desert on their way to the proverbial land of milk and honey.

Since April 25, 1982 only the whine of the desert wind weaves its currents through the crevices of destroyed homes, businesses and monument--a memorial to the young men who died during the 1967 Six Day war.

Christians, Jews and Muslims died during three Arab-Israeli wars and battles that took place in the Sinai in 1956, 1967 and 1973--Egyptian and Israeli--young people who fought and died in that desolate, forsaken desert wasteland.

The modern-day chariot carrying Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat hugged the intermittently green coastline of Sinai on its historic mission to Jerusalem. Israelis glancing upward into the clear night sky saw merely a jet banking gently to the northwest.

Official Israeli government policy was that the settlers had to be removed and the army came and forcibly removed the remaining diehard residents. The Jerusalem Post described the scene: Apocalypse had arrived in Yamit and in the dust and noise and destruction one could wander freely. Dozens of bulldozers and giant mobile air hammers were loose in the city like a pack of predatory beasts."

April 25, 20011 marked the 29th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Yamit and Sinai and a cold peace between long-term enemies.

That gift of peace silently glided overhead as the Sabbath disappeared and the stars appeared. At 8:01 p.m. Sadat's jetliner landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and the first minutes of a then potential peace came to the Middle East.

Old enemies became new friends. The crowds roared its approval when Sadat shook hands with Moshe Dayan. A person standing nearby, according to the Jerusalem Post, said Sadat told Dayan, "Don't worry Moshe, it will be all right."

The peace treaty between the two nations was signed on March 26, 1979 and on April 25, 1982; the events that had started on a November day at Camp David came to fruition. Sinai was returned to Egypt. Yamit was bulldozed to the ground. But Anwar Sadat did not live to see that day. He had been assassinated seven months before.



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