Israel

Israel and Russia only countries to view Trump more favorably than Obama, poll shows

(JTA) — Israel and Russia were the only two countries to have a more favorable view of President Donald Trump than his predecessor, Barack Obama, at the end of his time in office, a survey found.

The annual survey by the Pew Research Center on America’s image abroad also found that some 81 percent of Israelis have a positive view of the United States under Trump, compared with a median of 58 percent, according to the results released Tuesday.

Some 40,447 respondents in 37 countries outside the United States answered the survey from Feb. 16 to May 8.

Israel’s favorability rating of the United States has held steady over the past several surveys, including 81 percent in 2015, 84 percent in 2014, and 83 percent in 2013. In 2009, the rating was at 71 percent, the lowest since the survey was started 15 years ago.

In Russia, 41 percent have a favorable view of the United States under Trump, compared with 15 percent under Obama.

Israelis’ confidence in Trump was measured at 56 percent, compared to 49 percent for Obama at the end of his second four-year term. But the median showed 22 percent confidence in Trump and 64 percent in Obama.

The survey also found that 69 percent of Israelis surveyed said they considered Trump to be a strong leader, compared to a median of 55 percent. Some 54 percent of Israelis said Trump is well qualified to serve as president; the median was 26 percent.

Considering the border wall with Mexico, 42 percent of Israelis supported Trump’s idea, compared with 24 percent from all countries surveyed. On Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, 69 percent of Israelis were opposed, comparing to the 71 percent of the other countries surveyed.

“The sharp decline in how much global publics trust the U.S. president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada,” according to the survey.

Among close U.S. allies, in Germany, the favorability ranking for the U.S. has dropped to 11 percent under Trump from 86 under Obama; in France, 14 percent from 84 percent, and in Canada, 22 percent from 83 percent. Sweden saw a drop to 10 percent from 93 percent.

Among Middle East countries, the U.S. did not fare particularly well under either president, but again there was more confidence in Obama. Some numbers: Turkey 11 percent for Trump, 45 for Obama; Jordan, 5 percent and 14 percent, and Lebanon, 11 percent and 36 percent.

Many countries that have had poor relations with the U.S. over many years were not among those questioned, such as Syria and Iraq.

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Israel, Hamas in advanced talks over prisoner swap — report

Israel and Hamas have reportedly been engaged in intensive indirect talks recently over the release of a number of Israeli nationals held captive by the terror group in Gaza.

The talks, which are being mediated by an unnamed third party, have gathered momentum over the past two weeks, following the return of Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, from a visit to Egypt earlier this month, Channel 1 reported Monday.

While in Egypt, Sinwar met with a number of officials, as well as former senior Fatah official Mohammad Dahlan, who was involved in the 2011 deal that led to the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Egypt has previously been named in reports as the country mediating between the two sides.

Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, attends the opening of a new mosque in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 24, 2017. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

In April, then Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal hinted that a prisoner exchange was in the works between the two sides, while in FebruaryHamas confirmed that it was engaged in talks through third-party mediators over a possible agreement, but said a deal had been rejected for not meeting its minimum demands.

Hamas’s confirmation of the talks followed Israeli media reports that Israel was seeking to reach a deal with the rulers of the Gaza Strip to secure the release of three Israeli men who crossed into the coastal territory of their own accord: Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima, whose presence in Gaza is unconfirmed.

Hamas, an Islamist terror group, also holds the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who the army determined were killed in action in the 2014 Gaza war.

Hamas demands that Israel release all prisoners from the 2011 exchange for Gilad Shalit who were rearrested in 2014 when three Israeli teens were abducted in the West Bank (it later emerged that they had been killed almost immediately) before any advancement in negotiations between the parties can take place.

Oron Shaul, Hadar Goldin and Avraham Mengistu. (Flash90/The Times of Israel)

The report came against a backdrop of fears of escalation in the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area in southern Israel. No injuries or damage were reported.

In response to the launch, which was claimed by a Salafist group linked to the Islamic State, the Israeli Air Force carried out a number of strikes that the army said targeted Hamas infrastructure targets.

On Tuesday, Hamas condemned the Israeli airstrikes, saying that they were part of a “dangerous Israeli game.”

“The Israeli claim of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and the publication of a bulletin in the name of the Islamic State in order to create a pretext for the attack is a transparent and dangerous Israeli game,” the group said.

KAZAKHSTAN: ALLIED WITH MUSLIM BLOC, BUT GREAT FRIEND OF ISRAEL

 

ASTANA – Mutual exchange of technologies, flourishing business connections and warm bilateral diplomatic relations are the main characteristics of Israel and Kazakhstan, said Michael Brodsky, the Israeli ambassador to Kazakhstan.

Commemorating 25 years of diplomatic relations, Brodsky said Kazakhstan is one of Israel’s major friends. In many fields, mainly the economic one, Kazakhstan has a great interest in Israel.

 

Last December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Kazakhstan. During the visit, which was described as positive by both sides, the parties held a joint business forum, which included dozens of participants.

“This country thinks through the economic perspective,” said Brodsky.

“And despite the fact that it is mostly Muslim, it has no affect on our bilateral relations.

“They want us to prosper, and Israel is the role model for them,” he added. “They want to learn from us.

All this ‘make the wilderness bloom’ myth is very appealing to them.

Astana is a great example of that – it started off as a vision of [Kazakhstan] president [Nursultan] Nazarbayev and became a reality, just like the State of Israel.”

Brodsky mentioned three main fields in which Israel and Kazakhstan share information and technology: Agriculture, health and security.

“In these fields we have a lot to offer to Kazakhstan,” he said. “They see them as ‘must fields,’ meaning that cooperating with us on them is not luxury, and it won’t be affected by situation changes.

“There are many Israeli companies that operate here, and there is always talk on how to expand it,” he added.

There are some 10,000 Jews living in Kazakhstan. The vast majority came from the western part of the USSR or eastern Europe in the past century. However, Farsi-speaking Jews lived in the southern areas of the country and along the Silk Road trading route for thousands of years.

Brodsky noted that Kazakhstan is known for being very welcoming for Jews. He said there is no antisemitism in the republic.

“There is a small Jewish community, and it is spread out in several cities,” he said. “The Jewish life here is flourishing. There was never antisemitism in Kazakhstan. The Kazakh people is known to be tolerant and has a great attitude to all nations.

“The Jews also remember the special treatment they received when they got here during World War II, when they fled from eastern Europe,” he added. “Many Jews arrived here during that period.”

Despite that, Brodsky said that when it comes to the United Nations and its agencies, Kazakhstan is still committed to the larger Muslim bloc.

“When it comes to the bilateral relations, we have very warm connections and they are openly proud of it. But it is clear that they are obligated to the Muslim world,” Brodsky said. “We can see it in their [UN] votes. They voted against us not once, but we speak about it openly.

We know that they have other considerations and we are not letting it damage our great relations,” he said.

Ahead of UNESCO vote on Hebron, Israel bars fact-finding mission from city

Israel on Friday denied a fact-finding mission entry to the West Bank city of Hebron ahead of a Palestinian effort to have the Tomb of the Patriarchs inscribed on a UN list of threatened sites.

A group of independent scholars from the International Council on Monuments and Sites had been trying to gain access to the disputed holy site since the Palestinian Authority announced in April its plan to have it added to UNESCO’s list of endangered world heritage sites.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided not to grant them the required permits.

“On a strategic and principled level, the State of Israel will not take part in and will not legitimize any Palestinian political move under the guise of culture and heritage,” said Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen.

The UN cultural agency’s World Heritage Committee is expected to vote on the matter on July 2, during its 41st session in Krakow, Poland. Given the Arab nations’ automatic majority in international forums, the Palestinian proposal is likely to be accepted. The Tomb of the Patriarchs would become the third cultural site on UNESCO’s “List of World Heritage in Danger” that is registered as located in the “State of Palestine.” The other two are the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem and the “cultural landscape of Southern Jerusalem,” around Battir.

Before those sites were added to the list, fact-finding missions were dispatched and advised against adding them, Carmel-Hacohen said. But that did not stop the members states of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to vote “yes” anyway, he added.

“Thus, it is a waste of everybody’s time and money to send professionals to make recommendations. Because as opposed to the requests of other countries, where expert opinions do have a significant impact, the Palestinians have created from themselves a VIP track to enlist a site that is among the most important in Judaism through a campaign based on lies against the Jews and their state,” he said.

Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen (L), draped in an Israeli flag, at the UN cultural agency's Paris headquarters on May 2, 2017 (Erez Lichtfeld)

The Palestinians have never lost a vote at UNESCO, the Israel envoy added, “but there’s always a first time and we’re getting closer to it.”

Israeli diplomats argue that despite a long list of grievances the Palestinians are circulating, listing alleged Israeli “violations” in Hebron’s Old City, Israeli officials and local Muslim religious leaders get along fine.

“The inscription of the Old City of Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger will stir resentment and fierce reaction in Israel and throughout the Jewish world,” Shama-Hacohen wrote earlier this month in a letter to the director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center, Mechtild Rossler.

Several Jewish groups have already protested against the expected vote.

“This is but the latest cynical move by the Palestinians to erase Jewish history by rebranding Judaism’s holiest sites, including the Western Wall, Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Muslim,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement last week.

In a letter to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that the Palestinian claims about Hebron are “replete with false information and baseless charges,” while urging her to prevent the vote from taking place.

“This is the latest in a series of unfounded charges and accusations meant to denigrate and distort Israel’s stewardship of holy sites,” the group said in a statement.

Illustrative photo of an Israeli border policeman at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, West Bank, September 13, 2015. (Flash90)

Currently 1,052 sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List, including nine in Israel. Adding a site usually takes several years, but the Palestinians seek to fast-track their applications to the body by claiming the site is in danger.

The 21 member states currently sitting on the World Heritage Committee are likely to vote against Israel. None of the 10 states that in May voted against a Palestinian resolution at UNESCO’s Executive Committee on Jerusalem are members of the committee.

Like it does every year, the World Heritage Committee is again expected to pass a resolution regarding Jerusalem’s Old City, which in the past has ignored the Jewish people’s ties to the city. In 2016, 10 countries voted in favor of the anti-Israel resolution, eight abstained and two voted against.

ISRAEL BARS UNESCO TEAM FROM HEBRON FIELD VISIT

 

Israel has refused to allow a UNESCO investigatory team to make a field visit to Hebron in advance of pending July vote to register its Old City on the list of World Heritage in Danger under the “State of Palestine.”

This is a “principled and strategic” stand, Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris Carmel Shama HaCohen said on Saturday.

 

Hebron’s Old City, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is one of the 35 sites the World Heritage Committee plans to consider for inscription on the World Heritage List when it meets in Krakow, Poland from July 2-12.

The Palestinian Authority has fast tracked the inscription process by claiming that the site is endangered.

Since UNESCO recognized Palestine as a member state in 2011, the Palestinian Authority has similarly fast tracked inscription of two other sites on the list of World Heritage in Danger. This includes the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem in 2012 and the ancient terraces of Battir (2014).

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a professional body, which investigates nomination requests and provides recommendations for inscription on the list of World Heritage in Danger had recommended that both nominations go through the normal process after making field visits to both sites.

This time Israel has rejected its request to make a field visit to Hebron, this includes a refusal to grant entry visas to Israel for the group, Shama HaCohen said.

The 21-member World Heritage Committee rejected the ICOMOS conclusions not to place the Church of the Nativity and the terrace of Battir on its endangered list, Shama HaCohen said.

Therefore, it’s “a shame to waste the time and money” of the ICOMOS committee whose recommendations are otherwise typically adhered to with regard to the inscription process, Shama HaCohen said.

“Israel won’t take part in and won’t legitimize any Palestinian political moves under the guise of culture and heritage,” Shama HaCohen said.

The only steps it will take is to wage a diplomatic campaign to organize a large majority to block a process filled with “lies that plots against the state of Israel as well as the history and the connection of the Jewish people to this important holy site,” Shama HaCohen said.

“We are in the midst of a campaign against the opening of an additional Palestinian front in the religious and cultural war they are trying to force on us,” Shama HaCohen said.

He added that he hoped that this time around Israel would succeed in blocking the move.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs is Judaism’s second most holy site, after the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The Herodian Structure built around the tombs houses uniquely houses both Jewish prayer sanctuaries and the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The bulk of the Palestinian city of Hebron is located under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. But the Tomb of the Patriarchs and some of its Old City, are located in a small area of the city under Israeli military control. Some 1,000 Jewish live in that section of the city.

The PA has warned that Israeli actions have placed the Herodian structure and Hebron’s historic Old City in danger. It has provided UNESCO with a list of complaints that includes placement of road blocks and checkpoints, the tear gas used to quell Palestinian demonstrations and failure to make necessary repairs. It has included in that list recent attempts by the Jewish residents of the city, to purchase property on Shuhadah Street.

Israel has rejected all claims that it has harmed the Tomb or the structures in the Old City.

It has further argued that Israel’s military control of that area of the city is based on a 1997 agreement with the PA. It has told UNESCO that any inscription of the site should be done at the request of both Israel and the Palestinians.

A Jewish American who immigrated to Israel asks why refugees can’t

http://www.timesofisrael.com/a-jewish-american-who-immigrated-to-israel-asks-why-refugees-cant/

 

Journalist and author of 'The Unchosen,' Mya Guarnieri Jaradat. (Courtesy)

 

When Mya Guarnieri Jaradat arrived in Israel 10 years ago from the United States, she was supposed to have come on a one-year trip to complete her master’s thesis. Like so many others, she prolonged her stay. But what made her expatriation in the Jewish state unique were the motivations behind it.

There were two issues that caused her to prolong her initial educational and cultural sojourn: a love of Hebrew and commitment to learning it fluently, and the desire to work with the state’s marginalized communities in south Tel Aviv.

Jaradat began her work primarily with migrant workers from southeast Asian countries such as Thailand or the Philippines, as well as African asylum seekers from countries including Eritrea and South Sudan. Her initial observation was that there was massive poverty among these communities. But Jaradat also began to witness how most of the people she spoke with also had few legal, civic or labor rights.

What started off as volunteer work soon transitioned into journalism, which led Jaradat on the path to eventually becoming an Israeli citizen.

“As soon as I took on Israeli citizenship, I felt a strong sense of responsibility for what the Jewish state was doing in my name,” says Jaradat.

African asylum seekers protest on on January 26, 2017 near Jerusalem's Supreme Court against the new 'Rwanda or Saharonim' policy of the Israeli government. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jaradat has continued working as a journalist, covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in a wide host of publications around the globe, including The Nation, The New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, the far-left Israeli blog +972, and Al Jazeera.

The outspoken Jewish-American reporter claims that Israel’s policy on migrant workers and asylum seekers is shaped by what she calls a paradoxical double-sided contradiction “to maintain a particular demographic balance necessary for the state to be both ‘Jewish and democratic.’”

'The Unchosen.' (Courtesy)

“What you see in Israel is this attempt to uphold hegemony of a particular group,” Jaradat says from her home in Florida, where she is currently based.

“And so if you are not in that group — if you are not Jewish — then the state is going to be in conflict with you on some level, ” she adds.

This topic is the main theme of “The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others,” which Jaradat recently published via the self-described “radical” Pluto Press, in both the US and the UK.

Avoiding jargon and academic theory on the subject, the book focuses instead on giving voices to the migrants and asylum seekers themselves through in-depth interviews that take the reader into a seldom-seen world — one even most Israelis don’t know exists.

She visits, for instance, overcrowded black-market kindergartens in south Tel Aviv, where she describes how toddlers are left crying for hours on their own in unhygienic conditions. In another chapter we get descriptions of middle-of-the-night raids by Israeli immigration police — whom she accuses of intimidating members of the Filipino community — to deport them with quick succession.

A Tel Aviv kindergarten used by children of migrants and foreign workers suffered damage from a Molotov cocktail Friday (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Jaradat says a recent reading of Israeli history is required to understand why the state — in regard to both African asylum seekers and migrant workers — currently operates the labor and migration policies it does.

Primarily, she says, this issue ties in with the fate of the Palestinians.

Palestinians once constituted nearly 10 percent of the Israeli work force. When the First Intifada began in 1987, for example, almost half of Israel’s construction workers were Palestinian, as were 45% of agricultural laborers. But with increased distrust between the two peoples in the aftermath of the intifada, the 1990s saw Israel make a transition to foreign workers instead.

Palestinians laboPalestinian laborers ride a Palestinian-only bus en route to the West Bank from working in Tel Aviv area, Israel, Monday, March 4, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalitrers ride a Palestinian-only bus on route to the West Bank from working in Tel Aviv area, Israel, Monday, March 4, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit)

“Israel was once dependent on Palestinian day laborers,” Jaradat says.

As Israel implemented and tightened movement restrictions on Palestinians, it needed to find a group to substitute for these people that were crucial to different sectors of the economy. So the state began to bring migrant workers to replace Palestinians, claims Jaradat.

“With a large pool of inexpensive laborers in the country, Israel doesn’t need Palestinian day laborers anymore. The state can effectively lock the Palestinians behind the wall without feeling the economic consequences they would have felt when they were dependent on Palestinian day laborers, before they had migrant workers,” she says.

Chinese foreign workers cook in a Tel Aviv restaurant, 2008. (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

“Now, there are no economic consequences to shutting Palestinians out and, further, granting work permits to Palestinians can function as a reward — a carrot and stick, if you will — rather than as something crucial that meets the Israeli need for laborers,” Jaradat adds.

Jaradat says it’s also worth noting that “it’s easier for a Palestinian day laborer to obtain a permit to work in a settlement than it is inside of Israel proper, so the presence of migrant workers inside the Green Line helped the state channel the Palestinian day laborers towards the settlements.”

Palestinian laborers work at a construction site in a new housing project in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, February 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

The journalist claims the treatment of asylum seekers also bears a resemblance to that experienced by Palestinians — notably in subjecting both groups to detention without trial.

“I guess [one of the main concerns of this book] is about that contradiction between trying to maintain a certain demographic and being democratic at the same time,” says Jaradat.

‘This isn’t exclusive to Israel, but I’m using Israel as a case study’

“This isn’t exclusive to Israel,” Jaradat says. “But I’m using Israel as a case study of what happens when a nation is trying to uphold hegemony of a particular group. Looking at those two groups [migrant workers and African asylum seekers] is a way of getting at the question: Can the state maintain hegemony of a certain group and be democratic at the same time?”

And with regards to possible security concerns influencing Israel’s policy towards migrant workers and African asylum seekers, Jaradat claims “ there are none.”

“The state’s concern is about maintaining Jewish demographic and cultural hegemony,” she insists.

Jaradat’s book also spends a chapter looking at how loose labor laws in the Knesset are inextricably linked to a culture of companies — across Israel — making an easy buck.

A spectrum of Israeli society including Israelis, refugees, and migrant workers, stand at a bus stop in South Tel Aviv. May 12 2011. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/Flash90)

The journalist points out, for instance, that while Israel’s treatment of non-Jews is rooted primarily in demographic concerns, there are business interests representing the construction and agricultural sectors that affects public policy on this issue, too. Israeli manpower agencies have huge sway especially, Jaradat says.

“The workers pay a fee to the manpower agencies,” she explains. “And therefore a worker who stays on in the state and who doesn’t change jobs isn’t going to pay a fee. So it’s more profitable for the manpower agency to be always bringing in new workers.”

These agencies have aggressively lobbied for the Israeli government to set higher quotas of migrant workers, using bribes to officials in key ministries as one major means of achieving this, Jaradat claims.

Referencing a term used by anthropologist Barak Kalir, who has also written on labor migration in Israel, Jaradat refers to what is known as “the revolving door.” The Israeli government brings in new workers with one hand, and deports existing and older workers with the other.

The two big winners here are the state and the manpower agencies. The state doesn’t have to worry about legislating new laws on migration, and the manpower agencies make huge profits in return.

“Where this issue gets really interesting is when you bring the asylum seekers into that conversation,” Jaradat says. “Because here is a group of people — currently 40,000 in Israel — who cannot be deported legally.”

‘Where this issue gets really interesting is when you bring the asylum seekers into that conversation’

A lot of these asylum seekers are not willing to voluntarily repatriate because they cannot go back to their home countries, says Jaradat.

“These African asylum seekers are stuck in this legal limbo, so why not give a job to them rather than bringing in workers from overseas? That’s where you see the role that profit plays in all of this,” she says.

The reason that both asylum seekers and migrant workers are being exploited so consistently by both the Israeli state and by private business groups, is primarily because there is no legislation protecting them, Jaradat says.

Any laws that do deal with migration in Israel, she says, are “centered on privileging Jewish immigration, while stopping other groups from coming into the country.”

African refugees sit behind a border fence after they attempted to cross illegally from Egypt into Israel as Israeli soldiers stand guard near the border with Egypt, in southern Israel, on September 4, 2012. (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit, File)

The journalist cites two examples. One is the Law of Return, passed in 1950, which ensures that any Jew in the world has the right to return and live in Israel as an oleh, a new immigrant. The second is the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law — a temporary law passed in 2003, and amended several times since — which prohibits, among other ethnic groups and nationalities, the granting of any residency or citizenship status to Palestinians from over the Green Line who are married to Israeli citizens or permanent residents.

“Israel cannot pretend that non-Jews don’t exist, and that they won’t come to the country,” says Jaradat.

“It’s not sustainable to bring migrant workers, then to open one-time windows to their children while deporting some and naturalizing others. Israel needs to deal with this issue in a more humane and practical way,” she adds.

Asylum seeker Jacob Barry seen together with other representatives of the African refugee debate, seen at a discussion regarding the Immigration Authority policy towards asylum seekers and the impact on the business sector, at a meeting of the Committee on Foreign Workers, in the Israeli parliament on January 15, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Another way that Israel has tried to legally deal with the issue of migrants and asylum seekers is through a government initiative called voluntary departure. This is a voluntary scheme which encourages mainly Eritreans and Sudanese asylum seekers from Israel to head to other so-called “third countries.”

Jaradat points out that many of these voluntary departures — where the Israeli government sometimes offers a cash incentive of $3,500 up front — have resulted in African asylum seekers ending up in countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Libya. Often facing considerable risk and danger.

‘I take issue with the term voluntary departure… you can either go to jail, or back to a third country’

“I take issue with the term ‘voluntary departure,’” says Jaradat. “What is really happening is that you are in a state that is depriving you of your rights and that is keeping you in legal limbo. So the state says, you can either go to jail, or we will send you back to a third country.”

“I think when Israel began deporting South Sudanese citizens, they were trying to make an example of this group and using it as a threat to the other groups, saying, ‘You have two choices: you can deport yourself voluntarily, and take the little cash incentive. Or, we are just going to deport you anyway.’ So that naturally put pressure on other groups watching the South Sundanese being deported,” Jaradat says.

While most of her book focuses almost exclusively on the rights of migrant workers and asylum seekers, the narrative is a personal journey of sorts, too — Jaradat fell in love and married a Palestinian man while living in Israel.

Illustrative: a social experiment in which actors dressed up as a Jewish/Muslim couple. (YouTube screen cap)

The journalist says Israel’s varied political and social policies, and attitudes towards Arabs — on both sides of the Green Line — in general, eventually led her and her husband to leave the country. Both chose to settle in the United States instead, where they currently reside.

“I do feel there is something incorrect about having to get married outside of Israel. My husband is a native, an indigenous Palestinian,” says Jaradat, “and according to the State of Israel, I am a returnee.”

“We had to leave Israel to live together. He is a native of the land. And then there is me who is supposed to have all of this privilege under the Jewish state,” she says.

“Well, if you step out of line and marry a non-Jew, there goes your privilege,” she says.

Iranian protesters say destroying Israel is Muslim world’s top priority

(JTA) — Protesters attending anti-Israel rallies across Iran declared that destroying the Jewish state is “the Muslim world’s top priority.”

Iranians participating in Quds Day, a worldwide event held annually to protest Israel and Zionism, also called for unity among pro-Palestinian groups against the “child-murdering” Israeli government in a statement released after the marches, according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.

The resolution also criticized the U.S. and Saudi governments for their treatment of Iran.

Millions of Iranians took to the street Friday for the anti-Israel protest, according to Tasnim. Their supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday that Quds Day was “the symbol of fighting arrogance and global hegemons,” the news agency reported.

Iran’s government established Quds Day, which is held on the last Friday of Ramadan, in 1979. Al-Quds is the Muslim name for Jerusalem.

On Sunday, marchers in the annual Quds Day parade in London blamed a fire in a low-income apartment complex there that left at least 58 dead on “Zionists.”

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTRY: ISRAEL AS UNDEMOCRATIC AS RUSSIA, CHINA

 

 

Germany’s foreign ministry spokesman said Israel’s NGO transparency law is in the same legal category as non-democratic governments Russia and China, prompting astonishment on Thursday from Israel’s government over the new wave of criticism from Germany targeting the Jewish state.

Israel’s embassy told the mass-circulation daily BILD: “Israel is a vibrant and free democracy and there are no restrictions on donations. Recently, Israel adopted a demand for transparency, as is custom in other democracies. Israel requests an explanation from the foreign ministry.”

 

Martin Schäfer, the foreign ministry spokesman, said at press conference in mid June, “Hungary thus joins the ranks of countries like Russia, China and Israel ,which obviously regard the funding of non-government organizations, of civil society efforts, by donors from abroad as a hostile or at least an unfriendly act.” He criticized Hungary because the central European state’s new NGO law obligates foreign non-profits to register their status.

When asked at press conference about Israel’s “angry” reaction to comparison with Russia and China on Friday, Schäfer said:“I can’t report of any [Israeli] reactions to the foreign ministry. I don’t know… I don’t know anything about that.”

Israel’s 2016 NGO law requires nonprofit organization that receives more than half of its funding from a foreign political groups and entities to register its status with Israel’s government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this month he wants to intensify the NGO transparency bill. Critics view the current NGO bill as infringement on civil liberties.

The BIlD reported that German MPs slammed Schäfer’s anti-Israel statements.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), MP Thomas Feist, said the comparison between Israel and China and Russia is “divorced from reality” and the comparison “is damaging for the bi-lateral relationship between Germany and Israel. “

Jürgen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parties in the Bundestag, said “Such a comparison is insensitive. We should make it unambiguously clear who Germany’s partners and allies are—the free democratic, constitutional states. And, without question, Israel and Hungary belong to those states, not China and today’s Russia.”

The social democratic foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel has faced criticism for an increased hostility toward Israel. He has previously called Israel an “apartheid regime” and last month hosted an Iranian cleric who called for Israel’s destruction.

Gabriel declined to meet Netanyahu’s request to cancel meetings with two NGOS critical of Israel. As a result, Netanyahu cancaled his meeting with Gabriel. At the start of Gabriel’s visit to Israel in April he authored a controversial opinion piece that played down the significance of the Holocaust.

When asked about Gabriel’s comments, a spokesman for the ministry told the Jerusalem Post:” It goes without saying: foreign minister Gabriel and the foreign ministry are against every form of antisemitism.”

Hezbollah head: ‘Hundreds of thousands’ of Muslim fighters will respond if Israel attacks

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hezbollah-chief-thousands-of-fighters-will-respond-if-israel-attacks/

 

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The head of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, on Friday warned Israel against attacking Lebanon or Syria, saying “hundreds of thousands” of Arab and Muslim fighters would be ready to strike back.

“The Israeli enemy should know that if it launches an attack on Syria or Lebanon, it’s unknown whether the fighting will stay just between Lebanon and Israel, or Syria and Israel,” Hassan Nasrallah said.

“I’m not saying countries would intervene directly — but it would open the door for hundreds of thousands of fighters from all around the Arab and Islamic world to participate in this fight — from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan,” he said.

Nasrallah made the remarks in a speech broadcast on television to mark Jerusalem (Quds) Day, an annual show of solidarity with the Palestinians marked by marches and speeches that rail against Israel and the West.

The commemoration was first launched by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late revolutionary leader of Iran — a main sponsor of Hezbollah and staunch rival of Israel.

Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, and others from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are battling alongside regime forces in Syria to defend the government of President Bashar Assad.

The powerful Shiite movement and Israel have fought many battles including a devastating 34-day war in 2006 that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Border skirmishes have broken out occasionally since then, and Nasrallah on Friday said any future confrontation would be “very costly for Israel.”

Tensions were rising this week along the frontier, with Israel accusing Hezbollah of expanding observation posts to conduct reconnaissance missions across the border under cover of a purported environmental NGO.

Israel’s military intelligence chief on Thursday released film and photographs of the Hezbollah positions at the border fence.

A Hezbollah observation post on the Israeli-Lebanese border, according to the IDF. Photo released on June 22, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

In a letter to the UN Security Council, Israel’s envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, pointed to an incident in April, in which a patrol of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was denied access to an observation post flying the flag of the NGO “Green Without Borders,” by a group of locals.

Hezbollah’s purported use of such facilities under cover of the NGO is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, passed at the end of the Second Lebanon War in August 2006.

Danon denounced the “dangerous provocation” and called on the council to demand the Lebanese government dismantle the Hezbollah outposts, as required by the resolution.

The UN rejected the claim on Friday with the UNIFIL reporting that Green Without Borders members have planted trees in the area, but it “has not observed any unauthorized armed persons at the locations or found any basis to report a violation of resolution 1701,” said UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko.

Danon’s letter came on the same day that IDF intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Hertzl Halevi released video and photographs the IDF said showed the installations in question.

“Hezbollah is using an environmental organization as a cover for activities along the border with Israel,” Halevi said.

Earlier this week, the head of Israel’s air force said it would have “unimaginable” military power at hand in any future conflict with Hezbollah.

“What the air force was able to do quantitatively in the… Lebanon war over the course of 34 days we can do today in 48-60 hours,” Major General Amir Eshel said on Wednesday.

“This is potential power unimaginable in its scope, much different to what we have seen in the past and far greater than people estimate.”

Actress Marlee Matlin (Feminist Kike) teaches tolerance — and how to sign ‘Tel Aviv’ — during Israel tour

http://www.timesofisrael.com/actress-marlee-matlin-teaches-tolerance-and-how-to-sign-tel-aviv-during-israel-tour/

 

TEL AVIV – Actress Marlee Matlin lifted her hand beside her face in the shape of an “L” and tapped her fingers together a couple of times.

“That’s it?” a shocked reporter asked. “That’s so short.”

Matlin was giving the Israeli press a lesson in the Hebrew sign for Tel Aviv just days after arriving on her first trip ever to the Jewish state. The irony of the American teaching the Israelis wasn’t lost in translation, so to speak, but the lesson was also an example of just the kind of work the actress was in Israel to do.

Gliding around Sunday night’s venue in the Tel Aviv port where she received the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion, Matlin stopped to snap photographs with fans, some of whom were in wheelchairs or held white canes. Sign language was as common among the hundreds of guests in attendance as spoken language.

The $100,000 prize, presented by the Ruderman Family Foundation, recognized her achievements in activism for people with disabilities — a cause she champions with distinction as the world’s only deaf Academy Award winning actor.

Matlin is the perfect advocate. Dripping a charisma not diluted a bit by her faithful sign language interpreter Jack Jason, who has been by her side for years, one walks away from an encounter with her with the feeling that she’s granted you a favor. And in a way, she has – if you had the impression that her deafness put her at any significant disadvantage, she’s given you a valuable learning experience.

‘I just never thought I can’t do things because I’m deaf’

“I just never thought I can’t do things because I’m deaf,” Matlin told The Times of Israel when asked about becoming an actress. “I just knew that I wanted to be in Hollywood. I wanted to be an actor just like everybody, everyone I saw in television or on the movie screen — I wanted to be just like them. But I didn’t let my deafness define me. I never let my deafness tell me that I couldn’t do it, I never let my deafness tell me otherwise.”

“I feel like in our society, entertainment is so powerful, and she’s the leading spokesperson on the issue. So for that reason she was a natural choice,” said the foundation’s president, Jay Ruderman.

Marlee Matlin, center, poses with Jay Ruderman, to her left, and others at the Ruderman Family Foundation award ceremony in Tel Aviv, June 18, 2017. (Yaakov Schwartz/Times of Israel)

“We recently did a white paper, and we found out that 95 percent of the disabled characters that you see on TV are played by able-bodied characters,” Ruderman said. “One of our short term goals is to get more people with disabilities on TV. A long-term goal is to reach a tipping point where there’s no more stigma, and people see others with disabilities as just people.”

‘Ninety-five percent of the disabled characters that you see on TV are played by able-bodied characters’

The event itself was a case in point, demonstrating how such a reality might look. Sipping wine and nibbling tapas on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean’s crashing waves, the heterogeneous crowd chatted and laughed with nary an awkward sideways glance.

But unfortunately, the evening was in stark contrast to how people with disabilities are regularly treated in the outside world – one example of which the foundation was in the midst of dealing with during the event.

Recently, a 15-year-old Oregon boy who won a prestigious trip to the UN was informed he would not be going and had his prize revoked after his mother told the committee she would be accompanying him on the trip due to his autism. Upon learning that Niko Boskovic had autism, the UN program said that it was not equipped to handle his special needs. As of Sunday, after much negative publicity, the program seemed to reverse its decision.

Ruderman said that the reversal was due to widespread advocacy, with his organization and others taking to social media and writing the director general of the UN.

“I think advocacy works. I think when you point out injustice to people, things change. And that’s a lot of what the foundation is engaged in– trying to point out injustice,” he said.

‘People are automatically drawn to issues of injustice’

Ruderman explained that a majority of their work involves “rapid response” to contemporary cases of discrimination or when politicians speak in a derogatory manner about people with disabilities.

“We respond very quickly in the media with a press release and we get people to start thinking. We’ve had hundreds of other examples of this, and when you let them go silently, nothing changes. But when you speak out, and you organize the disability community to speak out, things begin to change,” he said.

During her first trip to Israel, Matlin has toured the country, meeting with other activists and people with disabilities across all sectors, including Israeli Arabs from Nazareth and representatives of Israel’s film industry. She was further scheduled to meet with over 300 people from Israel’s deaf community – in addition to trips to the Western Wall and the Knesset.

Marlee Matlin speaking to the press at an award ceremony in her honor in Tel Aviv, June 18, 2017. (Yaakov Schwartz/Times of Israel)

“The one thing, I think, about having Jewish values and a Jewish upbringing,” Matlin said, “is that whether you’re at temple or whatever, it’s always about how important it is to have inclusion regardless of whether somebody is able-bodied or not.

“I remember sitting in temple, my rabbi — who used sign language, I went to a temple for the deaf — my rabbi always said ‘Love thy neighbor, love people regardless of all abilities,’ and that always stuck with me. And so I’m fortunate to have a Jewish upbringing and Jewish values,” said Matlin.

“And to have been bat mitzvahed,” she said with a laugh, “just puts icing on the cake.”