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Today's News

Feb. 8, 2016




Sudanese Terrorist Stabs Israeli Soldier at Ashkelon Bus Terminal

By DEBKAfile &


A Sudanese national stabbed an Israeli soldier at the Ashkelon central bus station early Sunday. He was shot while fleeing and has died. The soldier, who sustained minor injuries, was taken to a hospital.


A second soldier who shot dead an illegal infiltrator, 34-year-old Kamel Hassan, who stabbed and lightly wounded the first soldier before fleeing the scene.  The second soldier recounted his harrowing pursuit after the Muslim terrorist.


The soldier who eliminated the terrorist told Channel 10 that he witnessed the attack take place as he was on a bus near the station, and described how he jumped out to chase after the stabber for several hundreds meters before shooting him, inflicting wounds from which Hassan later died of at Barzilai Hospital in the city.


"I saw him before my eyes whip out the knife and try to stab him (the soldier) in the region of the underarm," said the soldier. "I signaled to the (bus) driver to open the door and started pursuing after him."


After getting off the bus, the soldier recalled: "I took the weapon of the stabbed soldier and pursued him (the terrorist)." After one shot the terrorist was slowed but continued running. "I tried to stop him, and after that, another set of gunfire to the region of his legs," recalled the soldier, noting how he put an end to the flight of the escaping infiltrator terrorist.


The IDF has appraised that the attack was an act of terrorism and not criminal in nature. An investigation revealed that the illegal immigrant previously had been held at the Holot detention center in the Negev but was released, and from there arrived in Ashkelon where he conducted the attempted murder.


One eyewitness said the soldier shot at the attacker three times but he continued to run, prompting the soldier to fire three more times.


And in Rahat, south of Be'er Sheva, a 65-year-old Israeli woman is in serious condition after she was stabbed by an unidentified boy Saturday. As a member of a neighboring kibbutz she was shopping in the Bedouin town. Police are searching for the assailant.



UN's Ban Booed at New York Synagogue



UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke at Park East Synagogue in New York on Saturday, in a speech for International Holocaust Remembrance Day - but he was met with boos in light of his recent virulently anti-Israeli statements.


Two weeks ago on Tuesday Ban expressed sympathy for murderous Palestinian terrorism in Israel, saying, "It is human nature to react to occupation." The comment was met with outrage in Israel.


In his speech at the synagogue Ban steered completely clear of Israel, instead only speaking about the universal messages from the Holocaust regarding the need to combat racism and violence. But the crowd did not let him off the hook, jeering and heckling him as he spoke.


"The world must work together in order to build bridges in the struggle against anti-Semitism, racism against Muslims and all other types of hatred," Ban said. “The Holocaust was a colossal crime. Six million Jews were systematically rounded up and murdered. Millions of others were killed alongside them - prisoners of war, political dissidents, members of minority groups, such as Roma and Sinti, homosexuals and persons with disabilities.


“Today, I am deeply disturbed by the massacres in South Sudan, by the continued carnage in Syria, and by the atrocities being inflicted by Daesh (Islamic State) and Boko Haram. In today’s climate of growing global fear and alienation, we must not lose sight of the fundamental truth that all humans are born with inalienable rights, dignity and worth.”


Ban's speech at the synagogue had been arranged in advance before his comments, as he apparently desired to address a synagogue in time for Holocaust Remembrance Day.


Before it Battles BDS, American Jewry Must Combat Ignorance



At the twilight of one of the most significant United States presidencies for the State of Israel, as the race for the next presidency heats up, and amid increasing turmoil and uncertainty in the Middle East, this year's Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations leadership mission to Israel could hardly feel timelier.


Arutz Sheva sat down with the Conference's Vice Chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, to hear his views on some of the most pressing issues on the American-Jewish agenda - including its relationship with Israel, anti-Semitism, the Iran Deal and, of course, the party primaries.


According to Hoenlein, a longtime active supporter of Israel and Israeli causes, the greatest threat to American Jewry's relationship with the Jewish state is "ignorance, including many of our own Jewish children who go to the best day schools."


The Jewish education system in the US has to do more to explain the importance of the State of Israel to American Jews, and work harder to foster a sense of affinity with their Israeli brethren from a young age, Hoenlein said. "It's not enough to bring young people here at age 17, 18 on a two-week tour and ignore them for the first 17 years of their lives. And there has to be appropriate follow up" well into university, he insisted.


As for the growing anti-Israel agitation on university campuses - where many Jewish students are feeling increasingly alienated and vulnerable as a result - Hoenlein acknowledged it is a problem, but pointed out that "on most campuses BDS is defeated."


That said, he and other American Jewish leaders are working hard to ensure Jewish students' rights are upheld on campus, including by providing legal backing should they need it, and by persuading educational institutions to adopt the universal definition of anti-Semitism which has already been adopted by the State Department.


Hoenlein also stressed the sense of responsibility American Jews still feel for Israel's security, noting how he and other leaders have been placing considerable pressure on social media companies to crack down on the torrent of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hatred and incitement to violence. "You can't dismiss this as youthful excess or marginal talk," he said. "We see it here (in Israel) what the product of incitement is, and we see it in the US."


As for Israel's recent overture towards Diaspora Jews, in the form of a controversial but revolutionary arrangement allowing for non-Orthodox prayer at the Kotel - a significant move given that around 90% of American Jews identify as non-Orthodox - Hoenlein praised the initiative as a "positive" one in building bridges between Israel and the Diaspora.


But he emphasized again that a far greater issue than inclusiveness at the Kotel was the fact that many American Jews were too ignorant or indifferent to even care about the issue. "I think for many...they haven't visited the Kotel. They don't know where it is," He lamented. "But they know that this is a positive initiative from the government."


And what of the (seemingly never-ending) race for the presidency?  American Jews have tended to be more politically-engaged than the average American, and this election campaign is no different, Hoenlein observed. Also unlike most of their compatriots (at least in this election season), foreign policy - particularly vis-à-vis the Middle East - figured large on their list of priorities.


And while all the candidates - from Ted Cruz and Donald Trump through to Bernie Sanders - have repeatedly declared their support for Israel, the veteran American-Jewish leader cautioned his fellow American Jews to scrutinize the candidates beyond their campaign sound bites.


"They always love us more in June than they do in January when they get into office," he quipped. "You have to look at what people's records are, what they stand for, who the people are around them who are likely to be their advisers." But the "special relationship" between the United States and the State of Israel resonates far beyond their own bilateral relationship or even the position of American Jews, he warned.


An America seen to be abandoning its closest Middle East ally sends a bad message to other US allies in the region Hoenlein said, citing his own extensive meetings with Arab leaders. That is one very important reason why American Jews - and others who care about the stability of the Middle East - should demand clarity from the candidates on their concrete policies towards Israel.


"The most important relationship that others in the region look to is how strong the US-Israel relationship is," he said. "Many of the Arab states say 'if Israel can't rely on (the US) what chance do we have?'"


Gaza Travel Agency Recalls the 'Golden' 1950s

 By Reuters


Nabil Shurafa's travel agency in Gaza was once packed with clients booking flights to London, Paris, New York or cities across the Arab world. These days, he's lucky if anyone comes in, as so few people can get out.


The posters of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and a map of the world look out of place on the walls, given the sense of isolation that pervades Gaza, a narrow strip of land hemmed in by Israel on two sides, Egypt to the south and the blockaded Mediterranean to the west.


"Once borders are closed, things switch off," said Shurafa with a sense of resignation. A plastic model of a passenger plane stands on his desk, next to the silent phones.


When Shurafa's father opened the bureau in 1952, it quickly earned a reputation as a helpful and reliable agency. Back then, Gaza was governed by Egypt and there was not much of a border to speak of. Gazans could book a plane ticket and take a four-hour bus or train to Cairo to catch their flight.  The agency had a close relationship with BOAC, the forerunner of British Airways, and Air France and is general sale agent for each. It remains a member of IATA, the International Air Transport Association.


"The era from 1952 to 1967 was a golden one," Shurafa, 53, told Reuters. People used to travel to Gaza as well, at least until the 1967 Six Day War. "Gaza was like a duty-free zone, with Egyptians coming to buy goods brought by merchants from Lebanon," he recalled. There was also a boom in the late 1990s, after the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians, and Gaza opened Yasir Arafat International Airport in 1998.


But the years since have seen a steady decline in business as Gaza has become more and more cut off from the world. When the second intifada erupted in 2000, the airport's runway and control tower were bombed by Israel and it remains in ruins.


Since 2007, when the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the territory following a brief civil war with the Western-backed Fatah movement, entry to and exit from Gaza have become even more restricted, both by Egypt and by Israel.


Israel does allow around 1,000 Gazans to cross into its territory every day, for work, medical treatment or other humanitarian reasons. But it is a far cry from the thousands that could pass through the vast border terminal Israel built in the mid-2000s, before Hamas took over. Egypt meanwhile has kept its crossing with Gaza mostly closed over the past five years, citing security concerns and to put the squeeze on Hamas. Human rights groups say 95% of Gaza's 1.95 million people cannot get out of the enclave.


Even those that are able to cross into Israel cannot easily travel from there. They need special dispensation to fly out of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport or to travel to the West Bank and on to Jordan to catch a flight. Jordan, too, has started restricting visas for Palestinians from Gaza.


Every few months, Egypt lets around 3,000 Gazans leave via Rafah, but the arrangements are a lottery. The crossing stays open only for two or three days, so no one can be sure they will get across. They call Shurafa once they are over the border and the agency then scrambles to book them flights or hotels.


There are currently 15,000 Gazans who have registered requests to travel across Rafah, Palestinian officials say, including 3,000 who say they need medical treatment.


From 1994 to 2000, after Oslo and before the second intifada, Shurafa estimates his office sold 6,000 airline tickets a year. Last year, he sold 120. He's had to let eight staff go and now mostly employs family to keep costs down. He seldom covers his $5,000 monthly rent and running costs.


Mhareb Al-Burai, who runs the rival Al-Batra tourism office, has faced similar problems. Rather than flights, his agency now focuses on trying to get visas for Dubai, Turkey and China. "With Rafah largely closed, our main clients are businessmen and merchants, those who have valid permits to cross into Israel and from there travel to Jordan," said the 64-year-old.


For Shurafa, the airline stickers on his glass front door may seem out of place, but he hasn't given up. "It may sound like satire to talk about a travel agency in a place like Gaza," he said. "But someone has to have hope because this is a history we can't abandon."









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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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