Israel in the News Mar/Apr 2014
Israel hosted more than 3.54 million visitors from around the world in 2013, a new all-time high, according to the Israel Ministry of Tourism. Twenty percent came from North America, followed by Russia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Almost twice as many Christians as Jews visited Israel, and more tourists came from the United States than any other country.
Cruise travel to Israel also increased in 2013, with a record 257,000 cruise visitors.
The Ministry estimates that 53 percent of all tourists identify as “Christian” and 28 percent as “Jewish.” The most-visited sites seem to be Jerusalem’s Western Wall (68 percent), Jewish Quarter (64 percent), Church of the Holy Sepulchre (57 percent), Via Dolorosa (55 percent), and Mount of Olives (53 percent).
Hamas: Israel Gone by 2022
Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad recently told Palestinians they will fully liberate the entirety of “Palestine” within eight years. Hamad said Islamic prophecies foretell that Israel will be replaced with a Palestinian state.
Once the Muslims have their final victory, he said, the “Hittin” principle will prevail, referring to Saladin’s conquest of the Holy Land from the Crusaders beginning in 1187 with his victory at the Battle of Hittin in northern Israel. Saladin’s forces either enslaved or killed all non-Muslims.
Many Israelis and Israeli officials say Western peace brokers are naive, at best, and willfully ignorant, at worst, to believe Hamas and its long-term goal can simply be ignored in the course of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Israel Today (israeltoday.co.il)
Israel to Supply PA With Gas for Next 20 Years
A deal for the sale of natural gas from Israel to the Palestinian Authority (PA) was signed in January. Gas shipments will begin this year and continue for 20 years. The gas will be piped to a power station to be built in Jenin, which will be operated by the PA and produce electricity.
The consortium that licenses the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields—Noble Energy, Delek Drilling, and Avner—will earn NIS 1.2 billion ($627.5 million), and the PA will receive 4.75 billion cubic meters of gas over 20 years.
Yitzchak Shalita of Delek Drilling said he believes “economic cooperation, such as the agreement signed today, will help us bring the nations closer together and build a strong basis for peace.”
Treasure in Basement
Osnat Lester of Poriya Illit recently called the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) to say, “Stored in my warehouse are crates full of ancient jars that were left behind by a relative, a fisherman, who has passed on. I want to hand over the jars to the state, but it is important for me that my grandchildren will know where they will be kept in the future.”
Two archaeologists dispatched there were astounded to discover a real archaeological treasure: numerous whole ancient jars—or amphoras—from different eras, wrapped in bed sheets and pieces of cloth.
The jars had apparently been carried by ancient ships that sank at sea at different eras. Typically, they were covered by a layer of encrustation that includes sea shells and chalk sediment. One of the amphoras was an impressive biblical-era jar about 3,000 years old. Others were from the Roman and Byzantine eras.
UN Pulls Exhibit
Bowing to Arab pressure, a UN agency at the last minute cancelled an exhibit due to open in Paris in January, “People, Book, Land: The 3,500-Year Relationship of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.”
The U.S.-based Jewish newspaper The Algemeiner said Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center called the move an “absolute outrage.” He said, “The Arabs don’t want the world to know that the Jews have a 3,500-year relationship to the Land of Israel.”
The exhibit was jointly created by the Wiesenthal Center and the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Arabs claimed the exhibit may hamper peace negotiations.
Possible Antidote to Flesh-Eating Bacteria
Bacteria called group A streptococcas (GAS) can live inside humans without causing symptoms or harm. But in some cases, it triggers fatal diseases, such as necrotizing fasciitis (also known as “flesh-eating disease”) and toxic-shock syndrome. Hebrew University researchers recently published research in the journal Cell that explains how this pathogen turns deadly, opening the door to possible future treatments. The research was conducted by Prof. Emanuel Hanski of the Institute of Medical Research Israel Canada at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine.
The majority of infections are caused by organisms that normally reside on a person’s skin. Necrotizing fasciitis progresses quickly, particularly in people with compromised immune systems due to conditions such as diabetes or cancer. Hanski and his team discovered a novel mechanism that influences GAS virulence early in the infection. GAS senses the increased asparagine level in someone infected and alters its gene expression profile and its rate of proliferation, which can be deadly in the host.
The team also discovered that asparaginase, a protein that digests asparagine and is a widely used chemotherapeutic agent against leukemia, halts GAS growth. Asparginase has never before been used to treat GAS infections.
The Jerusalem Post (JPost.com)
New York Times Wins Top Dishonest Reporting Award From HonestReporting.com
The venerated New York Times, formerly considered a bastion of journalistic integrity, has won HonestReporting.com’s top award for biased reporting when it comes to Israel.
The “honor” was bestowed by HonestReporting’s readers. Writing for the media watchdog, Pesach Benson said, “The prevailing displeasure was best summed up in a one-line email: ‘The NY Times bludgeoned Israel all year.’”
Wrote Benson, “Much of the resentment focused on the paper’s op-ed section. A steady parade of commentaries disdainfully dismissing Israel’s Iranian anxieties certainly cemented the Gray Lady’s award in the latter part of 2013. This wasn’t surprising. HonestReporting’s long-term study of the Times ’s opinion section found similar problems in 2012.
“But The NY Times built up a bona fide case to win this award even without issue of op-eds. The paper added a known anti-Israel conspiracy theorist to its editorial board, glorified stone throwers, raised questions about the way it corrects the record, and finished the year with a flourishing photo failure. None of the 2013 runners up, such as the BBC, CNN, Haaretz, and others, came close to matching the tensions the Times stoked.”
Benson said the Times has even questioned Israel’s right to exist: “Nobody questions, say, Japan’s right to exist. Denying Russian people their self-determination is anti-Russian….Yet The New York Times saw fit to publish a hefty 2,052-word commentary by Professor Joseph Levine in March  arguing that it’s not anti-Semitic to question Israel’s right to exist. A Jewish state, asserts Levine, is ‘undemocratic,’ while the trappings of statehood aren’t a big deal anyway.”
Readers were the most upset by the Times’s treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he addressed the UN in New York in September 2013. HonestReporting listed 13 specific, biased stories. One by Jodi Rudoren even prompted the newspaper to correct a description of Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, and issue her a personal apology.
Read Benson’s entire article, “A Year of Biased Reporting: Why The New York Times Won.”
UN Criticizes Israel’s Policy Toward Illegal Immigrants
The United Nations is criticizing Israel’s policy toward illegal immigrants, as thousands of them protested in Tel Aviv recently, demanding Israel recognize them as refugees and grant them asylum.
The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement in which it accused Israel of “sowing fear and chaos” among the illegal aliens who, it said, should be referred to as “asylum seekers” and not “infiltrators.”
“We demand that the government examine the asylum requests of the foreigners, and stop the large-scale arrests in south Tel Aviv,” said the UN agency, adding that while it supported the holding facility for infiltrators in southern Israel, it was not acceptable in its present form as the agency deemed it to be a long-term detention center.
Infiltration from Africa has been a major problem for Israel over the past several years, as tens of thousands have entered Israel trying to find work and have settled in working-class neighborhoods in southern Tel Aviv, Eilat, and many other cities.
Residents of these neighborhoods have been suffering from endless harassment, fear, and violence perpetrated by the many illegal infiltrators.
Most of the roughly 60,000 illegal immigrants from Africa living in Israel do not have refugee status. Nearly 500 of them have been ordered to spend nights in the special open facility in Holot in southern Israel for up to one year under a new law aimed at cracking down on illegal entry.
While Israel has succeeded in getting some of the illegal immigrants to return to their home countries and has prevented a new influx from entering by building a fence along the border with Egypt, the problem remains with the illegal infiltrators who are still in Israel.
Israel recently approved an amendment to the law to prevent infiltration of illegal immigrants, which allows police to jail illegal migrants for up to 12 months in special detention facilities.
In response, some 200 illegal entrants to Israel ran away from the Holot facility and protested in Jerusalem. Protesters said the open facility, which they must return to each night, is essentially a prison. Many accused the government of racism.
When this action did not help, the illegal aliens initiated a general strike. They assembled at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and demanded that the government allow them to stay in Israel and work legally.
The illegal entrants argue that they should be given refugee status. Those illegal entrants whom Israeli authorities recognize as refugees are allowed to work in the country and are eligible for benefits, but authorities argue that the majority are simply economic migrants and not eligible for refugee status.
by Arutz-7 (IsraelNationalNews.com)
U.S. Wants Israel to Give Up Jordan Valley
The United States is pressuring Israel to ignore its security concerns and persuade a skeptical Israeli public to accept U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s plans, which include Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley in stages over the next 10 years, according to recent reports by Israel’s Channel 2 news.
U.S. head envoy over the peace talks, Martin Indyk, has met with senior Israel Defense Forces generals, urging them to accept the deal. Further, Indyk and his staff have reportedly told generals to “go to the media and be interviewed and respond, because they have the impression that the Israeli public has doubts about the subject.”
Analyst Mark Langfan, who has critically analyzed and dissected Kerry’s Jordan Valley plan, said, “Any Israeli general advocating the Jordan Valley plan is a military fraud, and I challenge them to a debate.”
Langfan added, “Martin Indyk has planned the annihilation of Israel for decades.” Indyk, who is Jewish, served as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2001.
Video shows that prior to the 2005 “Disengagement,” when Jews were expelled from Gush Katif, Indyk was woefully mistaken in his predictions of the move’s results. Indyk claimed Israel’s unilateral withdrawal would produce “a new Palestinian leadership that is more responsible and capable and legitimate.” Instead, the terror organization Hamas took control of Gaza.
In 1967 the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that even more than the Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria are strategic necessities for Israeli security. Kerry’s plan also includes mass withdrawals from Judea and Samaria.
by Arutz-7 (IsraelNationalNews.com)