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Nov 25, 2015
Four Days After U.S. Teen Murdered by Terrorists. Obama Calls Ezra Schwartz's Parents
President Barack Obama on Monday made a phone call to the parents of Ezra Schwartz, the 18-year-old American citizen murdered by a terrorist last Thursday in a shooting attack in Judea's Gush Etzion. In the call to the bereaved parents Ari and Ruth Schwartz, which came a lengthy four days after the murder, Obama spoke about how Schwartz was studying at a yeshiva and volunteering in Israel during his gap year.
"The president offered his profound condolences and condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack that took his life,” a senior administration official told JTA. “The president also underscored that Ezra’s studies in Israel strengthened the bonds between Israel and the United States and, as we mourn his death, those bonds only grow stronger.”
Schwartz, who hailed from Sharon, Massachusetts, was to start business school at Rutgers University in New Jersey in the fall. However, Obama has yet to issue an official statement on the American teen's brutal murder even after the phone call.
During a news conference on Sunday in Malaysia, Obama mentioned two other Americans murdered in recent terrorist attacks in Mali and Paris, but neglected to mention Schwartz. The US State Department and embassy in Israel only condemned the murder a day later, following a deafening silence from US officials that Arutz Sheva noted Friday morning.
Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday during a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he had also spoken to Schwartz's family on Monday. "Just yesterday, I talked to the family of Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, a young man who came here out of high school ready to go to college, excited about his future," said Kerry.
"And yesterday, his family was sitting at shiva (the traditional seven day period of intense mourning - ed.) and I talked to them and heard their feelings, the feelings of any parent who lost their child.”
While the US government was slow in responding to the incident, the New England Patriots football team held a moment of silence for Schwartz on Monday. Last Friday, Obama was petitioned directly via the White House website to condemn the murder of Schwartz.
"On November 19, 2015, Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year old American citizen from Sharon, MA, was murdered by a terrorist while on his way to do volunteer charity work," the petition reads. "The government of the United States of America has failed to publicly acknowledge Ezra's murder and has taken no action to condemn the terror attack that took three lives."
"We respectfully request that President Obama publicly acknowledge the senseless killing of Ezra Schwartz, condemn the attack and rebuke the Palestinian Authority for claiming that the third victim of this attack, an Israeli Arab, was killed by Israeli forces, when not a single shot was fired by Israeli military or law enforcement and the terrorist was taken into custody unharmed," it continues. "Such lies are irresponsible and incite further terrorism."
Kerry Seeks to Lower Israeli-Palestinian Tensions; Israel Approves New Jewish Settlements
By VOA News
Secretary of State John Kerry was in Israel Tuesday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials on ways to curb spiraling violence and restore security. “No people anywhere should live with daily violence, with attacks in the streets, with knives or scissors or cars,” said Kerry in an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Saying that Israel had “every right” to defend itself, Kerry said he and the prime minister would discuss ways to “push back” against violence and restore calm. Netanyahu said there could be “no peace” when there was an “onslaught of terror.” He said Israel was fighting against the “sources of incitement” and believed the international community should join this effort.
Kerry’s trip to Israel is his first over a year. His visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah comes at a time of heightened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
On Tuesday, Israeli security officials said a Palestinian motorist rammed his vehicle intro a group of soldiers in the West Bank. He wounded three of them before police shot him. Over the past two months, at least 89 Palestinians have been killed in unrest as well as 19 Israelis and an American student.
Palestinians have been angered over what they view as Jewish encroachment on a holy site in Jerusalem that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. They were further angered by an Israeli government decision to allow more settlement construction on occupied land.
An Israeli official said Tuesday that Netanyahu has approved the marketing of land for 454 houses in two Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The project has been frozen for several years to avoid angering Israel's Western allies.
One of the settlements is Ramat Shlomo which is in land the Palestinians want as part of a future state. The Palestinian Authority condemns Israeli construction plans as illegal and aimed strictly at stopping an independent state.
"We view this kind of activity as illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday. "And we will remain unequivocally opposed to these kinds of unilateral steps that, frankly, seek to prejudge the outcome of any negotiations."
Jewish settlement activity has been one of the issues that has sparked violent Palestinian protests and attacks on Israelis. Critics of settlements call them a major impediment to peace. Israel has said the settlements are necessary for its security and say the Palestinians must recognize Israel's right to exist if there is ever to be a peace deal.
'Dad, I'm Going to Carry Out an Attack Today'
An Arab-Israeli from northern Israel was arrested Tuesday after sending a text message to his father informing him he was going to carry out a terrorist attack - prompting his father to turn to police.
The father, who lives in a village close to Nazareth in the Galilee, alerted the police emergency hotline as soon as he received the message, which read: "Today you will hear good things about me - I'm going to carry out an attack."
Other family members received the same message, according to Israel's Channel 2, which released a transcript of the father's frantic conversations with the police call center, during which he repeatedly urged them to send a patrol car to his home.
Father: Can I order a patrol car to my house? Operator: Why, what happened? Father: There is an important issue Operator: What kind of important issue? Father: An important issue. My son has been away from home for nearly 10 days and he is threatening people and (threatening) the security of the state Operator: Your son is threatening state security?! Does your son want to do something?! Father: Yes, yes. He has someone else from our village Operator: You don't know where he is? Father: If I knew, I'd conduct an operation against him myself.
In a second conversation the increasingly agitated father asks how long it will take for police to arrive. Father: I don't feel good. Send me a patrol car. Just in how many minutes? Tell me how many minutes! Operator: I don't know how many minutes (it will take). I have sent a patrol car to you
Nazareth District Commander, Chief Superintendent Shai Dichter, said police acted as soon as possible to locate and arrest the suspect, and opened an investigation immediately after receiving the father's report. "We carried out many activities to locate the youth, including the arrest of five suspects including him. After interrogation an indictment was served against the suspect."
It is not the first time a would-be terrorist has been handed over to police by concerned family members after being radicalized. Last month, a 19-year-old Arab woman, also from northern Israel, was placed in administrative detention, after police determined she posed a real risk to the public following messages she sent to her family expressing her desire to become a "martyr."
Israeli authorities have blamed the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement - which is based in the Galilee - for inciting much of the violence. Last week, after much posturing, the Hamas-linked Muslim extremist group was finally banned.
'I Saw Elderly People in the Back of the Bus and Began Shooting'
The terrorists behind the heinous terror attack on a Jerusalem bus on October 13 planned their killing spree the night before, new details released Tuesday reveal. The Jerusalem District Attorney filed charges several weeks ago against Balal Abu Ghanem, 21, of Jabal Mukabar, who carried out the attack with accomplice Bahaa Alian.
The indictment revealed that Alian approached Ghanem to plan the attack on October 12, but Walla! News published full recordings from the investigation Tuesday which showed a higher degree of coordination between the two than the short preparation would suggest.
"Baha came to me in the store where I worked on the night of the attack," he told investigators. "He told me that he had 20,000 shekels, and he wanted to get a gun. I asked him: 'Why a gun?' He replied that he wanted to kill Jews. I told him that if he managed to get a gun, I would go through with the attack."
The two launched the attack "for the sake of Al-Aqsa Mosque" - located on the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site - and because "settlers murdered little children," he added, apparently referring to both the Palestinian Authority incitement over the Mount and an arson attack by as yet unidentified assailants on a family in Duma earlier this year.
Baha managed to purchase a gun that night, in the Arab village of Abu Dis directly east of Jerusalem; the gun dealer from whom he bought the weapon has still not been located, over six weeks after the attack. The next morning, he approached Abu Ghanem in the liquor store in which he worked.
"Baha arrived that morning and saw my knife at the store and told me that it would be perfect for the attack; he took it," Abu Ghanem stated. "We went to the shop where Baha worked and when I arrived he showed me the gun, first thing. There was a clip with 14 bullets."
Alian taught Abu Ghanem how to use the gun there and then, including turning the safety off. "I shot them till I ran out of bullets. I put it in my belt and we left," he said. "Baha took the knife with him and hid it in his pants."
The two calmly made their way to the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, just minutes from where Abu Ghanem lives. They then boarded the 78 bus, and shortly afterwards Abu Ghanem began shooting, "I took out the pistol, cocked it and I turned to the people sitting in the back of the bus and began shooting them," he recounted. "Baha turned forward and started stabbing."
"I saw an elderly man and another elderly woman and other people - I shot them and saw them get hurt and then I ran out of bullets," he continued. "I was waiting for the police to come kill me. Baha came and took my gun. The knife was still in his hand. The police came and Baha began to scare the police who were outside the bus, threatening them with the gun," he added. "The police started to shoot at us and hit me and I fell to the floor. I do not know what happened after that."
Baha was shot dead by Border Police responding to the attack, while Ghanem was seriously wounded and arrested.
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YOU SAY YOU WANT CHANGE?
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 .
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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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