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  • White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough arrives to address the Jewish Federations of North America's 2015 General Assembly November 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. (AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)
    White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough arrives to address the Jewish Federations of North America's 2015 General Assembly November 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. (AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)
  • Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Federations of North America's 2015 General Assembly November 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. (AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)
    Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Federations of North America's 2015 General Assembly November 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. (AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)
  • People watch behind a police line as Israeli police officers work at the site of an attempted stabbing attack outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
    People watch behind a police line as Israeli police officers work at the site of an attempted stabbing attack outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack on the light rail in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, November 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack on the light rail in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, November 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jokingly looks at his watch while speaking about peace in the Middle East at the National Building Museum November 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jokingly looks at his watch while speaking about peace in the Middle East at the National Building Museum November 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI)
  • Investigators at the scene of a stabbing attack on the light rail in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, November 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Investigators at the scene of a stabbing attack on the light rail in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, November 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Tourists arrive at the airport in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 9, 2015. (AFP/MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)
    Tourists arrive at the airport in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 9, 2015. (AFP/MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Demostrators call for return of bodies in Hebron

Hundreds of Palestinians are demonstrating for the return of attackers’ bodies in Hebron, where several similar protests have taken place in recent weeks, according to Israeli media.

There are no initial reports of violence or arrests.

The protesters called out “Allahu Akbar” when they heard of twin stabbing attacks in Jerusalem, according to Israel Radio.

 

Egyptian activist Bahgat released after arrest

A human rights advocate says Egyptian authorities have released a leading investigative journalist and human rights advocate who had been detained under accusations of spreading “false news.”

Heba Morayef, associate director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, announced on social media Tuesday the release of Hossam Bahgat, who was detained Sunday after being summoned to an intelligence building in Cairo.

Bahgat is one of Egypt’s best-known rights advocates. He founded the group Morayef now works for in 2002, and has been honored with a Human Rights Watch Alison Des Forges Award in 2011.

No further information was available in the immediate moments after Bahgat’s release.

The army has said that Bahgat was referred to military trial for “compromising national security” and writing about the military without its written permission.

The arrest drew the criticism of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, among others.

— AP

Light rail tween, teen stabbers named

The two adolescent attackers in a stabbing incident on the Jerusalem light rail have been named by the Ynet news outlet as cousins Moawiyah and Ali Alkam.

According to Arabic media, both hail from Shuafat.

The two, aged 12 and 13, are accused of stabbing a guard near Pisgat Ze’ev on a train, moderately injuring him.

Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, November 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev, November 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The 12-year-old attacker was shot and brought into custody and the other was arrested, according to initial reports.

International teams probing security at Cairo airport

Egyptian officials say European, Russian and Middle Eastern teams are inspecting security measures at Cairo’s international airport relating to passenger and cargo aircraft traveling to their countries.

Tourists arrive at the airport in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 9, 2015. (AFP/MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

Tourists arrive at the airport in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 9, 2015. (AFP/MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

The head of Cairo’s international airport, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Genina says the officials from Russia, Holland, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are examining the scanning of passengers, cargo and baggage as they enter the airport and make their way to aircraft. Security guards and caterers are also being inspected.

Several countries and airlines have suspended new flights to Egypt because of security concerns as suspicions focused on the possibility that a bomb caused an October 31 plane crash of a Russian airliner that killed all 224 people onboard.

— AP

Police uncover weapons store in East Jerusalem home

Police say they have uncovered pipe bombs, makeshift rifles and ammunition in a house in East Jerusalem.

The weapons store was uncovered by police, officers from the Shin Bet security service and a K-9 unit. A bomb disposal specialist was dispatched to clear the area, police say in a statement.

The police say the house is adjacent to the District Court on Salah al-Din Street, near the Old City.

Pipe bombs uncovered by police in an East Jerusalem home on Tuesday, November 11, 2015. (Police spokesman)

Pipe bombs uncovered by police in an East Jerusalem home on Tuesday, November 11, 2015. (Police spokesman)

Police say a father and son residing in the home, both Arab, were arrested in the raid.

On November 2, a Molotov cocktail was hurled at the court building, lightly damaging a guard booth. No one was hurt.

 

Man lightly injured in West Bank stoning

A man has been lightly injured in a stone throwing attack in the West Bank outside Ramallah, according to news reports.

The man was treated at the entrance to the Psagot settlement.

Nearby, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a bus traveling on Route 443, in the West Bank northwest of Jerusalem. The bus sustained damage but there were no injuries, according to Israel Radio.

There have also been reports of stones thrown at Israeli cars outside Bethlehem in the Etzion settlement bloc. No injuries were reported in that incident.

Stabbing attempt reported east of Jerusalem

A stabbing attempt is being reported in the West Bank east of Jerusalem.

According to initial reports, a man with a knife ran at guards at the Kiosk junction between Abu Dis and Maale Adumim yelling Allahu Akhbar. He was shot.

Police confirm stabbing attack near Abu Dis

Police confirm that there was an attacker shot at the Kiosk checkpoint adjacent to the village of Abu Dis east of Jerusalem.

Police say the attacker was shot after attempting to stab a Border Police guard.

There is no word yet on the condition of the assailant.

Abu Dis attacker dies — police

Police say that an attacker who was shot after running at Border Police guards with a knife at a checkpoint near Abu Dis has died of his wounds.

A picture purporting to be of the attacker shows a man in his 20s lying on the ground with a head wound and a large knife in his hand.

Uncle of suspected stabbers says they didn’t do it

The uncle of the two adolescent suspected attackers in a Jerusalem light rail stabbing earlier in the day says that he does not believe the police claim that they were involved in the incident.

“We heard that they were part of the stabbing attack but I will tell you the truth, we have no faith in the police. We have already seen in other cases, in Hebron and even in Jerusalem, they make up stories and even killed a Jew they suspected of being an Arab,” Sheikh Abdullah Alkam says, referring to the shooting death of a yeshiva student during a confrontation with troops last month. “Maybe they planted a knife on them, I don’t know. We want to to first check what happened. I’m their eldest uncle and I was to check everything carefully.”

He says the boys studied at the same school and lists their ages as 11 and 13, not 12 and 13 as has been reported in Israeli media.

Despite expressing doubt that they were the stabbers, he seems to justify attacks by young Palestinians living in poverty in East Jerusalem.

“They see how soldiers act at checkpoints, they see how nice it is in Pisgat Ze’ev and French Hill,” he says, referring to two Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. “And what do they have? There isn’t even a garbage truck. The streets look like hell. A hundred thousand people without normal services living in harsh conditions.”

— Avi Issacharoff

At least 22 killed in mortar attack on Latakia

The death toll from mortar fire Tuesday on Syria’s coastal city of Latakia has risen to 22, one of the bloodiest shellings there since the country’s war began, state media reported.

The toll rose to “22 people killed and 62 wounded” in the attack on eastern neighborhoods of the regime bastion, state television said.

Earlier, state news agency SANA had said 12 people died and 57 hurt when two mortar rounds struck residential neighborhoods.

Latakia lies in the heartland of the minority Alawite sect to which Syria’s ruling clan belongs and has been largely spared attacks during four and a half years of civil war.

Rebels and jihadists, including Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, have long targeted the region, in part for its symbolic value as a regime stronghold.

— AFP

New stabbing attempt reported in West Bank

A fresh stabbing attempt is being reported near the West Bank town of Qalqilya, near central Israel.

The alleged attacker has been arrested, according to a report by Channel 10 news.

No Israelis were injured in the incident, according to the report.

The attempted attack occurred during clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli forces, Channel 10 says.

The attempt would be the fourth of the day by Palestinian assailants.

West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt dies at 96

BERLIN — Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who guided West Germany through economic turbulence and Cold War tension in the 1970s and early 1980s, has died. He was 96.

Schmidt’s doctor, Heiner Greten, tells the German news agency dpa that he died Tuesday afternoon in Hamburg.

Schmidt’s chancellorship coincided with a tense period of the Cold War, including the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. He also stood firm against a wave of homegrown terrorism in West Germany.

The center-left Social Democrat led West Germany from 1974 to 1982, when he lost power to conservative Helmut Kohl.

Schmidt went on to become an iconic elder statesman, weighing in on Germany’s political debates into his 90s.

— AP

WSJ: US worried allies will run out of missiles against IS

The US military is scrambling to keep allies from running out of precision guided missiles to use against the Islamic State group, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Pentagon says it is working with its coalition allies to replenish stocks of the weapons, which are “pretty popular” against the terror group, US Air Forces Central Command, Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. tells the paper.

They are also attempting to gauge future need for the missiles.

US Navy Airman Mariah Ftacek performs a turnaround check on an F/A-18E Super Hornet on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the Atlantic Ocean, Nov. 7, 2015. Department of Defense/US Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Mai)

US Navy Airman Mariah Ftacek performs a turnaround check on an F/A-18E Super Hornet on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the Atlantic Ocean, Nov. 7, 2015. Department of Defense/US Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Mai)

 

Abu Dis attacker named as Jenin teen

The suspected attacker killed in an attempted stabbing near Abu Dis has been named as Buadi a-Nar, 16, from Jenin, according to the Walla news site.

 

Schumer mum on Netanyahu, loud on caffeinated PB

Sen. Chuck Schumer and Benjamin Netanyahu have been mum about their meeting Monday night in Washington.

It could be because the meeting between the Israeli head of state and one of the lone Democrat Senators to oppose Obama on the nuclear deal might not look good after Netanyahu’s chummy get-together with the president earlier in the day.

Or it could be because Schumer is too busy battling the scourge of caffeinated peanut butter.

The New York lawmaker is urging the FDA to examine safety risks associated with STEEM peanut butter, which he says contains five time as much caffeine as a can of Coke.

“Caffeinated peanut butter should spur the agency to address the issue of caffeine,” Schumer said Sunday, according to CBS News. “They should put limits on how much is allowed, particularly in snack foods … And they should certainly require warning labels.”

Netanyahu told Obama Syrian civil war could affect Golan status — report

Netanyahu told Obama in their meeting Monday that the Syrian civil war has allowed “alternate thinking” on the issue of the Golan Heights, hinting that the US could recognize Israels’ de facto annexation of the territory, Haaretz reports.

According to the report, citing sources familiar with the closed door talks, Obama did not respond to Netanyahu’s comments.

Netanyahu told reporters after his meeting that he told Obama Israel will oppose any agreement in Syria that would allow Iran or its proxies to launch missiles at Israel.

He also reiterated his “red lines” vis-à-vis Syria, saying that he would not permit the smuggling of advanced weapons systems from Syria to Lebanon.

On Monday night, Netanyahu told the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, that he told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he didn’t want Syria to be used as ” a launching ground to launch attacks” against Israel.

“We will not allow Iran to set up a second front in the Golan and will act forcefully and have acted forcefully to prevent that,” he said.

“The defense of Israel is what concerns me in Syria first and foremost,” he added.

Herzog tells Kerry alliance with Arab neighbors could lead to peace

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog says he told US Secretary of State John Kerry that a regional battle against Iran and the Islamic State could lead to a two-state solution.

“I told Kerry that it can lay the groundwork for a process of separating from the Palestinians as part of Israel’s defense doctrine before we turn into a hell of a one-state solution, like Israstine,” he tells Ynet.

He says his plan includes an alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Underworld bomb dismantled near Bat Yam

Police say they have defused a bomb found in the city of Bat Yam.

According to a tweet from police, the bomb was planted at the entrance to a building as part of a criminal dispute.

They say they are searching for suspects and have opened an investigation.

IDF to begin belt-tightening, may give radio the boot

The IDF will begin making a series of cutbacks and organizational changes in the coming weeks and months to further streamline the army and increase its efficiency as part of the 5-year Gideon plan, a senior official says.

Following a 2-day workshop with the IDF’s General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot recommended transferring various elements of the army’s education corps, Military Advocate General’s unit, Military Rabbinate, Military Censor unit and others from army control to civilian control, the officer tells The Times of Israel.

The overall plan will see a reduction in personnel across the board. Officers older than 28 will be forced to move either “up or out,” the official says.

Among those on the chopping block, the Army Radio news station and musical Galgalatz radio station were recommended by the General Staff for transfer out of the army and into purely civilian hands.

“The military position is not to close it, but it doesn’t need to be within the IDF. The IDF does not need to have any public media outlets. Where to put it, that’s for the government to decide,” the IDF official says.

Some of these decisions will require the approval of the government, while others will go into effect immediately.

— Judah Ari Gross

Netanyahu set to speak at Jewish Fed confab

The closing plenary of the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly is about to begin, with Netanyahu among the keynote speakers at the Washington confab.

Other speakers include White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and former Canadian foreign minister John Baird.

You can watch all the excitement here.

Police release video of stabbing attempt

Police have released pictures and video of an attempted stabbing at the Damascus Gate of the Old City earlier today.

In the video, a man can be seen running with a knife at another man, who then backs away, pulls out a gun and shoots him dead.

A still from a video showing a stabbing attempt near Jerusalem's Old City on November 10, 2015. (Police spokesperson)

A still from a video showing a stabbing attempt near Jerusalem’s Old City on November 10, 2015. (Police spokesperson)

 

Netanyahu: Recognizing Golan would send message to Iran

Channel 2 reporter Udi Segal tweets that Netanyahu told Obama on Monday that recognizing Israeli annexation of the Golan would send a “clear message” to Iran.

He cites a senior Israeli source.

Netanyahu given warm welcome to JFNA

Benjamin Netanyahu is about to speak at the JFNA General Assembly, being welcomed into the room along with wife Sara Netanyahu to a large round of applause and waving to his adoring fans.

 

Powers to designate who is terrorist in Syria

The world powers trying to end the civil war in Syria are drawing up a list of “terrorist” groups, Britain says, warning that some countries may have to drop support for allies on the ground.

“It will require deep breaths on several sides, including the US side,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warns, speaking to reporters in Washington.

Around 20 countries and international bodies will meet on Saturday in Vienna to try to push forward a peace plan for Syria that would include a ceasefire between Bashar Assad’s regime and some opposition groups.

As part of this, Hammond says, the countries backing various factions within the country will have to decide which are moderate enough to be included in the political process and which would be excluded.

“I’m not so sure I would write off the possibility of agreeing on who is a terrorist,” he says in remarks at the British Embassy.

— AFP

Media czar pick in 2014: Money for PR, advocacy is wasted

Blogger Yossi Gurvitz tweets that Deddy Shay has uncovered another Facebook gem from Ran Baratz, Netanyahu’s embattled pick for spokesman.

In the post, from April 2014, Baratz bemoans the amount of money wasted on public advocacy, spokespeople and PR, i.e., the position he is now hoping to fill.

“If all that money and effort were instead invested to upping motivation of combat soldiers, new leaders, and a civilian battle against anti-Israel organizations at home and abroad, our situation would be much much better,” he said, according to a screenshot of the post.

Kerry says drought made Syria war worse

Speaking on climate change and national security, John Kerry pins some of the Syrian civil war on a drought that devastated the country.

Netanyahu begins speaking at JFNA

Netanyahu has now begun speaking to the JFNA.

He thanks JFNA chair Michael Siegal and cracks a corny joke about his “steely resolve” coming out of Cleveland.

His voice cracks briefly, which doesn’t bode well as this is the first of two public appearances he has Tuesday.

Netanyahu: Israel and American best of friends

Netanyahu says the past year has not been simple.

“Great issues have been debated, passions ran high and the stakes were even higher.”

“Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel,” he says, to enthusiastic applause.

He says no matter what disagreements, maintaining unity is of “paramount importance.”

“Now more than ever we must unite the Jewish people and secure the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu thanks Obama, US for defense aid

Netanyahu touts Israeli innovations, and says foreign countries come all the time to learn about how to solve water problems.

He also says global investment in Israeli cybersecurity firms has doubled from 10% to 20% in 2015.

He says Israel is upping trade with China and India, joking that they are “small countries.”

He says this is important because trade is how Israel secures funding for defense.

He says America is the other way they fund defense, and thanks America and Obama, to warm applause.

Netanyahu calls US aid ‘indispensable’

Netanyahu says the alliance between Israel and America will only get stronger.

“I deeply appreciate his commitment to bolster Israel’s security … and I also want to say that we are sharing so many things. the US is giving indispensable help to Israel, but Israel is returning that on an almost daily basis, in intelligence and other things. What’s important isn’t only Obama’s commitment to bolstering Israel’s security for next 10 years but commitment to maintaining a qualitative military edge,” he says.

“Despite our disagreement over nuclear deal with Iran, I believe we can and should work together” to ensure Iran complies with deal and to combat Iranian terrorism, he says.

Earlier, Netanyahu speaks up Israel’s diversity, from Tel Aviv’s support for LGBT rights, to Arabs enjoying full rights and the ability to even join the Supreme Court.

He also says women can do anything they want, like becoming fighter pilots or bank chiefs and says the IDF field hospital on the Syrian border shows Israeli compassion.

He also cites Israeli rescue teams who are dispatched to natural disasters, saying that Israel sent the second largest delegation to Nepal after the earthquake there.

He says the country does all this despite all the regional threats facing it.

“This is why when our detractors defame Israel, we must defend Israel,” he says to clapping.

“Israel is surrounded by many forces … and hatred … but despite these enormous dangers i have no doubt Israel will continue to flourish in the years and decades ahead,” because the alliance with the US and with the Diaspora Jewish community is strong, he says.

“Israel’s future is in very very good hands,” he says, speaking of the young soldiers in the IDF.

 

PM backs Reform and Conservative Judaism in Israel

Netanyahu says Israel will be home to all Jews from all streams, including Reform and Conservative, and says Western Wall must be a source for unity, not disagreement.

Israel is subject to ‘triple standard,’ Netanyahu claims

Switching gears to anti-Semitism, he notes claims against Jews and the Jewish state, like blood libels and organ harvesting.

“We must speak out against the slander of the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” he says.

“We can and must fight lies, and the only ways you fight lies is by telling the truth,” he adds, getting exciting and being met with raucous applause.

He says Israel is not perfect and is judged by a standard of perfection that “no country could possibly meet.”

He adds that doing so is a form of anti-Semitism, and isn’t even a double standard but a triple standard.

‘Palestinians must recognize Jewish state for peace’

Segueing to the Palestinian issue, the Prime Minister says the reason Israel doesn’t have peace yet with the Palestinians is not because of the settlements, noting that the conflict predated 1967 and continued in Gaza after the pullout.

“The reason we don;t have peace is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary,” he says.

He adds that the truth is that Israel seeks peace.

“The truth is that I speak peace,” he says.

He then cites that Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan because they both truly wanted peace and were willing to “bury the past and seize the future.”

“When Israel faces a Palestinian leadership that seeks peace, is willing to bury the past and makes no more claims of the Jewish state … when we meet a leader that is willing to finally recognize the Jewish state we will have peace,” he says, calling it “the most essential requirement.”

He adds that he remains committed to a two-state solution, including a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Netanyahu: We are forging new ties with Arab states

Netanyahu says the old joke about “how do you make a small fortune in Israel, bring a big fortune,” has been reversed, citing everything done in the economy.

He adds that the country is forging new ties with Arab states in the region, and says “modernity must win out.”

“Israel will continue to thrive because I believe in the indomitable spirit of our people, in the unbreakable bond with the United States,” he says.

He thanks the Diaspora Jews in attendance for their support, and their efforts to “secure our future,” and leaves the stage to applause.

He then leaves the hall with his entourage.

Former top Canadian diplomat Baird speaks at GA

John Baird, recently booted as Canada’s foreign minister, is up speaking at the JFNA GA next, with Federation Canada chair David Spiro touting his support for Israel.

Justin Trudeau’s new government is expected to still be supportive of Israel, though more balanced.

Iran stops dismantling centrifuges — report

While Baird is talking up his support for Israel, Reuters reports that Iran has halted work on dismantling centrifuges at two sites after lawmakers in Tehran complained the action was taken too quickly.

A week ago, Iranian officials said work had begun on taking apart centrifuges at Nataz and Fordo as part of the landmark nuclear deal.

“The (dismantling) process stopped with a warning,” National Security Council head Ali Shamkhani is quoted by Reuters as telling the ISNA student news agency.

He does not explain what “warning” means according to the report.

Baird expresses concerns about Iran

While Netanyahu diplomatically left the Iran nuclear program almost totally out of his speech, Baird doesn’t have the same plan, expressing concerns about Iran’s ambitions and speaking about the importance of stopping Tehran.

Baird also says Canada’s relationship with the Arab world is better than ever, notwithstanding Ottawa’s relationship with Israel.

Nobody minded when we started backing Israel at UN — Baird

Baird says when he came into office. he wondered why Canada voted against Israel in the UN, and ordered diplomats to match the voting record of the US.

Baird says he warned it was the biggest change in Canadian diplomacy and would destroy relations with the Arab but says in the end nobody cared — not even the Palestinians.

He says he was asked how Israel coerced him to speak on Israel’s behalf at the UN, but responded that Canada “pro-actively offered it” saying it was “the right thing to do,” to lukewarm applause.

McDonough: Obama shares social justice values with Jewish community

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is up to speak at the GA next, being introduced as one of the closest people to Obama.

McDonough starts his speech with the pro-forma thank yous to federation big wigs.

Though he isn’t Jewish, McDonough says his family comes from immigrants like the Jewish community, and also draws strength from faith.

He says the same values of humanity and social justice that he and the Jewish community share are also shared by Obama, and says the president recognizes the support of Jews in the civil rights struggle.

Noting that he has been called the first Jewish president, he jokes that that makes him the “shamash,” or synagogue sexton, and says Talmudic discussions in West Wing drive him “meshuggah,” driving home his Jewy bona fides.

McDonough notes strong support for Israel

McDonough starts off by making a domestic pitch, talking about administration efforts to reduce inequality.

He also notes the $60 million compensation fund set up with France for Holocaust survivors deported by France.

“We stand up for the right of all people here and around the world to practice their faith freely,” he says, noting commitment to condemn and combat anti-Semitism.

He notes strong support for Israel to sparse applause

McDonough: Obama thinks Israeli security is sacrosanct

McDonough says ensuring Israel’s security is not just a political issue but “sacrosanct.”

“It would be a moral failing on the part of the US government and American people if we did not stand up firmly, steadfastly, not just for Israels right to exist, but its right thrive and prosper,” he quotes Obama saying and says he reiterated it in meeting with Netanyahu yesterday.

He confirms that President Reuven Rivlin will visit the White House next month.

He also said Israel will become first country in Middle East to receive the F-35 Joint Strike jet fighter, and says Israel will get some of most advanced arms for years to come.

McDonough says talks over aid package to Israel will take time, and says the Jewish state’s qualitative edge will be secure.

He thanks the JFNA for being a neutral voice on Iran that expressed all views over the debate over the nuclear deal.

McDonough: Iran deal being implemented but concerns remain

McDonough says the Iran nuclear deal has gone into effect and Iran has started complying.

“Iran has begun preparations to remove two-thirds of its centrifuges,” and says moves will ensure it can “never, never procure plutonium for nuclear weapons.”

He says all pathways to a bomb have been cut off.

He says Iran has not received any additional sanctions relief under the nuclear deal and won’t until Tehran meets all the steps required.

If Iran violates the deal over the next decade, “we can snap sanctions back into place,” he says.

He notes that Washington is still concerned about Iran’s other activities, and calls on Tehran to release US captives, and help find Robert Levinson.

He says Iran is “destabilizing the region” and continues to spew threats to Israel’s and the US’s existence, and thus, the US will continue to bolster allies, including Israel.

‘Actions leading to one state solution must be reversed’

McDonough says ongoing violence in Israel is inexcusable and only brings death and more resentment on both sides.

He calls on the Palestinians to stop any incitement to violence and says both sides must demonstrate with concrete actions their commitment to a two-state solution.

In that vein, he speaks out against settlements, saying that that “actions leading to a one-state solution must be reversed.”

More must be done to ease refugee crisis, McDonough says

Denis McDonough speaking to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, in Washington, DC, November 10, 2015. (screen shot)

Denis McDonough speaking to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, in Washington, DC, November 10, 2015. (screen shot)

McDonough calls for more to be done to ease the refugee crisis, and cites the story of Syrian refugees saved by Israeli boaters off coast of Turkey.

“I’ll close by echoing the words of those refugees: Thank you,” he says.

Russia to deploy weapons against NATO shield — Putin

Russia will counter NATO’s US-led missile defense program by deploying new strike weapons capable of piercing the shield, President Vladimir Putin says.

Putin tells defense officials that by developing defenses against ballistic missiles, Washington aims to “neutralize” Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent and gain a “decisive military superiority.”

He said that Moscow will respond by developing “strike systems capable of penetrating any missile defenses.”

“Over the past three years, companies of the military-industrial complex have created and successfully tested a number of prospective weapons systems that are capable of performing combat missions in a layered missile defense system. Such systems have already begun to enter the military this year. And now we are talking about development of new types of weapons,” Putin said.

His statement comes amid a severe strain in Russia’s relations with the US and its NATO allies, which have plunged to the lowest point since the Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine.

— AP

Rivlin to discuss bolstering ties with Obama in early December

After White House aide Denis Mcdonough confirms Rivlin will visit the White House next month, Rivlin’s spokesperson offers a few more details, saying in a statement that meeting will take place in early December.

The spokesperson says he and Obama will discuss “strengthening strong ties between the countries in light of recent challenges.”

Footage shows light rail attack

Dramatic security camera footage has emerged of a stabbing attack by two Palestinian adolescents earlier today on a Jerusalem light rail carriage.

In the video, the two can be seen suddenly jumping on a guard and attacking him, before the guard manages to shoot one attacker, aged 11.

The second attacker, 13, is then pinned down by other passengers on the train.

צפו: המחבלים הקטינים בעת פיגוע הדקירה היום ברכבת הקלה.

Posted by 0404 on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Singer who defied BDS accused of bowing to pressure

The Jewish community in Rio has accused a popular Brazilian singer of surrendering to anti-Semitism.

Caetano Veloso declared he will not return to Israel due to the “oppression” of the Palestinians only a few months after performing in Tel Aviv in defiance of a strong boycott appeal from leftist groups.

“Caetano surrendered to the anti-Semitic wave and preferred to act blindly before the incitement to terrorism against Jews,” says Fernando Lottenberg, president of Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s umbrella Jewish organization. “Instead of not returning to Israel, he should go to the country whose music he declared to love so much and understand better what happens there.”

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, old friends and performers, who performed together in Israel on July 28 (Courtesy)

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, old friends and performers, who performed together in Israel on July 28 (Courtesy)

Veloso’s declaration was published over the weekend by Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil’s most influential daily paper, with the headline “To visit Israel to never go back to Israel.” The singer said he reached his decision after visiting a Palestinian village in the West Bank.

He and his longtime partner, Gilberto Gil, refused to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv in July despite Brazilian and international leftist protests. Brazilian Jews and the Brazilian community in Israel praised the singer at the time.

— JTA

Netanyahu to be interviewed by liberal think tank

For what may be the toughest appearance during his trip to Washington, Netanyahu will soon visit the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, where he will be interviewed by CAP President Neera Tanden.

According to the institute the two will discuss “a range of issues, including Iran, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and regional concerns, as well as ways to strengthen the partnership between Israel and the United States.”

You can watch a livestream here:

 

Netanyahu visit to left-wing think tank begins by acknowledging differences

Netanyahu begins to speak to Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden.

Tanden opens by acknowledging differences between the left-wing group and the conservative prime minister.

“While we disagreed deeply on the Iran nuclear deal, we believe the US-Israel relationship is vital,” she says.

“The choices you make matter profoundly to Israel’s future and the future of the region, and we believe that matters to America.”

It was a statement addressing criticism Tanden has faced from within over inviting Netanyahu.

Netanyahu: I know my visit has been controversial

Netanyahu tells left-wing Washington think-tank CAP: “I know my visit here has been the source of some controversy, so I doubly appreciate the invitation.”

“I came here because I think it’s vital to understand how important it is for me that Israel remain an issue of bipartisan consensus. It’s crucial. The relationship with the United States, all parts of the US and the American people is a strategic asset to our national security and our future.”

Netanyahu: Israel imperfect, but shares progressive values

“The rights of gays, Arabs, these are enshrined in an imperfect society, but one that faces incredible odds and safeguards those values in a very troubled area,” Netanyahu tells US progressives at CAP.

He invites questions on all issues.

“I’d like to talk about the quest for peace, and why it hasn’t been achieved.”

He invites questions on “all issues.”

Netanyahu challenged on ‘Arabs voting in droves’ comment

Tanden challenges Netanyahu’s statement about Israeli values, or at least his: Before the election “you said, ‘Arab voters were coming out in droves to the polls.’ What do you say to progressives who worry about comments like that?”

Netanyahu is openly critical of his statement.

“I think that this statement, as it was made, was wrong. First of all, Arabs also voted for me, and I am in favor of that. I wasn’t talking about them going to vote, but talking about a specific list” — a reference to his complaint at the time that activists were using foreign funds to bus Arab voters voting for the Arab Joint List to polls.

“A few days after I said that, I invited Arab leaders to meet me and said, ‘I’m the prime minister of all of you.'”

He then tacks to his record.

“These are words. What about deeds?”

He cites billions the four governments he has led have invested in Arab communities’ infrastructure, education and transportation in Arab communities.

“I was putting in programs for Arab citizens to enter the high-tech sector. You have scholars here. Look at the relative investment of different governments, and you’ll discover the truth of what I’m saying here.”

He adds: “It comes also from a political philosophy that I follow, especially the teachings of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who believed in having an egalitarian state. He said, ‘There, in a Jewish state, will flourish the son of Arabia, the son of Nazareth, and my own son.'”

Israel a tech power, has the capacity to shape the future

“Israel has turned into a technological powerhouse,” Netanyahu tells progressive US think tank. “We’re in a century of intellectual products, and Israel is growing geometrically, by design. We are an economy [geared for] this growth.”

“Here is what is happening. I’m so isolated that as foreign minister and prime minister I don’t have time to see my own Knesset faction or other politicians because diplomats and heads of state come from Africa, Asia, Latin America. They all want three things – I’m talking about small countries like China, India, Japan, or 20 African states.

First, Israeli technology. Second, Israeli technology. Third, Israeli technology.

This is a fundamental change that will accelerate in the next 20 years.

Netanyahu: Israelis fear West Bank will go the way of Gaza

Netanyahu turns to peace issues.

“Why is it that we don’t have peace? Is it me? There were five other prime ministers since Oslo, since the peace process began. How come they didn’t make peace?”

“The reason is that the underlying problem is not Israel’s willingness to compromise. It’s that after Gaza, Israelis asked a question: ‘What happens when we set up a state on the other side? Do we get a state that wants to live with us? Or do we get a state that wants to destroy us?’ Israel went by the book: It left Gaza to the last square centimeter, the last [settler], even disinterred people from their graves.

“It left the keys to Abbas, who promptly lost it to Hamas, who fired thousands of rockets on us.

“The same thing happened to us in Lebanon. We got not Hamas, but Hezbollah, Iran, and they also fired 15,000 rockets on us.

“So Israelis ask a simple question: ‘If we were to set up a Palestinian state, how do we make sure that state does not become another Gaza, and doesn’t work for our destruction?”

Netanyahu: Abbas avoids peace talks

Netanyahu blasts Mahmoud Abbas for avoiding peace talks.

“For the last seven years, Abu Mazen deigned to talk to me for just six hours. You can’t make peace that way.”

Israel has simple demands, he says:

“First, you have to make sure the state that is formed ends all demands, and doesn’t seek to flood Israel with the descendants of refugees. Do you agree, Mr. Abbas? He refuses to answer that.

“That’s what we mean by two states for two peoples? Jews go to Israel if they choose and Palestinians to their state if they choose. Can we have that arrangement?

“Second, what happens if it fails? Who ensures security? Austrian peacekeepers? We saw how that worked on the Golan Heights.”

Netanyahu challenged on settlement construction

Tanden challenges Netanyahu: “Israel isn’t acting neutrally. There has been growth of settlements strategically placed to make a Palestinian state more difficult, or this has been the result” of settlements.

Netanyahu: “Factually, there have been no new settlements built for the last 20 years. The additions are in existing communities. Google this. This is just repeated ad nauseum. It assumes as a self-evident truth that we’re gobbling up land. The total amount of built-up land is just a few percent [of the West Bank]. The addition [in new construction] is one-tenth, two-tenths of one percent [of West Bank land]. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s three-tenths. That’s the land that is being gobbled up. We’re not gobbling up land.”

“Prime Minister Barak built 5,000 units a year. Sharon 1,800 units a year. Olmert built 1,700 units. My government has built 1,500 units a year.”

“the settlements are there. Their growth does not materially affect the path to peace. “It’s not the core issue. It wasn’t the core issue in Gaza either.”

Netanyahu: Israel wants peace, Palestinians don’t

Netanyahu objects to “something fundamentally wrong” in the peace process.

“Israel wants peace. It’s made enormous sacrifices for peace. I’ve made the two-states-for-two-peoples speech at Bar Ilan University, a religious university. Abu Mazen didn’t make the Bir Zeit University speech, telling his people, ‘Give up the ghost. We’re not going back to Jaffa.'”

“I did a ten-month settlement freeze, no one has done that before. I did harder things, releasing terrorists. It didn’t help. It didn’t bring them to the table, and it didn’t absolve me of the blame for [lack of peace].”

“What is driving the conflict and continues to drive the conflict is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a nation-state in any boundaries.”

Netanyahu ‘not sure’ how to intervene in Syria

Netanyahu turns to Syria, and reveals Israel’s uncertainties about intervention, reminiscent, perhaps, of US policy.

“I’m not sure how to intervene, but I’m sure of this: first, if Syria fires on us, we fire back. Second, if Hezbollah establishes position on Golan Heights, we’ll take action against that, as we have. Third, if Hezbollah wants to transfer weapons through Syria, we’ll take action, as we have. Fourth, if we don’t see it but it went through, we’ll take action on Syria on weapons that we do see to degrade weapons caches that could be transferred later.”

“As for Syria, I can’t tell you if you can put humpty-dumpty back together again. I doubt it. If there’s a solution out there that restores calm, we’re fine with it. But we want to make sure that our interests are part of it, that a future Syria, or Syrias, are not used to attack us.”

Netanyahu: Israel must fight Jewish terror ‘with ferocity,’ but diffuse networks are hard to crack

Netanyahu is asked about the deadly Duma attack by suspected Jewish extremists on a Palestinian family in July.

Israel responded forcefully, the Prime Minister said. “I did something: I issued administrative detentions, putting [suspected Jewish terrorists] under arrest without trial, because we have to fight this with ferocity.”

“The problem is this is not an organized network.”

“Typically, the way you discover terror attacks or criminal gangs is that they have hierarchies. A modern state cracks that, sometimes quickly and sometimes over time. When you encounter something that isn’t structured that way, when you encounter 15- and 16-year-olds who don’t communicate, who are clever and have figured out where the Achilles’ heel is,” states don’t always know how to tackle that problem.

“We have cracked lesser crimes. Someone damaged a church in the Galilee. This is the most violent act, and that’s why we haven’t cracked it.”

“Our measures [against Jewish terrorists] are legion. It is difficult [to disrupt it entirely] precisely because it is not structured.”

Challenged on settler violence, Netanyahu says no comparison to Palestinian violence

Netanyahu is challenged on settler violence not being prosecuted.

“That’s not true. We don’t have a policy like that.”

Then he tacks to comparing Jewish violence to Palestinian.

“First of all, look at the levels of violence: [Jewish] families burned, Molotov cocktails, a father knifed while walking with his family. Cars being hit and falling into a ravine.”

“You can’t hide settler violence,” he notes. “There’s no comparison between levels. It’s not symmetrical and it’s not equivalent. But what is illegal is illegal. So we prosecute, even if someone takes down some olive trees.

“But Duma is real, and there are many Dumas on the Palestinian side of the ledger. Every four hours there’s a Duma that fails.”

That comparison matters, he explains, because it sets the ground for peace or war.

“There is no symmetry between Israeli and Palestinian societies. We do not teach our children that they have to obliterate Palestine. We do not name public squares for mass murderers. In the few cases of mass murderers like Baruch Goldstein, we excoriate it across the political spectrum. The public square of Ramallah is named after a killer of hundreds of Jews.”

“Right now we’re seeing that the internet is meeting militant Islam in the hearts and minds of children, teenagers, and driving them to believe this fantastic fabrication that we’re going to tear down the Al-Aqsa Mosque, put up the Third Temple. You ask, how can you believe that?”

“It will take time, but we’ll get the Duma people,” he vows.

But “I’m much more concerned about how to get to Palestinian young minds, to disabuse them of these lies and get them to accept the idea that we’re going to have to live side by side in this small piece of land and do it in peace and prosperity.”

“I don’t think their political leadership is ready to accept this.”

Netanyahu: Security control must remain with Israel, even in a Palestinian state

Netanyahu is asked by David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “What’s Israel’s plan to remain a Jewish state and not slide to become a binational state?”

His answer centers on security requirements.

“Unilateralism works less well than a negotiated solution.” That is, a unilateral pullout is a last resort.

“In any case, the main problem that we have is the acceptance of the principle that Israel will take care of security in the areas west of the Jordan. This is the main problem.

“The problem in Gaza is that we left by not only taking out the settlers, but we left no security there. As a result, Gaza has become a security threat not only to Beersheba or Ashdod, it’s become this poison thumb, this poison dagger that sends rockets well beyond Tel Aviv.

“Unless you have an Israeli capability to secure territories we vacate in a civilian sense” – that is, free of Israeli civilians, but not of some form of Israeli security arrangement – “that’s where you get into trouble.

“Another issue came up that wasn’t around in 2006, that’s tunneling. There’s tunneling from Gaza into Israel. Any delineation of a border would be hundreds of kilometers, so you’d have thousands of tunnels, and these are terror tunnels from which terrorists can emerge, take people hostage, squirrel them back.

“The only way you can [pull out] is making sure Israel has security control for the foreseeable future. I don’t see the Palestinians agreeing to that. They say, ‘how can we be a sovereign state without security control?’ I say, ‘Well, have you heard of Germany or Okinawa?’ You have to.”

Netanyahu is confident about this, because he believes Israelis back him.

“This is something that Israelis agree about: Any deal or any arrangement, unilateral or negotiated, must have Israel maintain the ability to defend itself by itself against any threat, including from territories that are ceded. That’s the most important provision.”

And, he adds candidly, “that’s something I don’t see Palestinians accepting now. Maybe they will tomorrow. Maybe the Arabs will accept. Maybe the international community will accept.

“If they do, then we won’t have to keep the Arabs in our midst, will be able to separate from them and keep security.”

“I think we have to talk about that more, get it into the international bloodstream.”

Netanyahu: My predecessors gave everything and got nothing from Palestinians

Netanyahu answers a question about his “negotiating posture” by laying out each side’s hand.

“95% of what we have to cede [to the Palestinians] is territory. The questions of security and recognition is what we need from the other side.

“Jerusalem, the Temple Mount,” he says, “is not reconcilable. I simply don’t see a solution.

“But on these issues [of land, security and recognition], Israel is asked to give 100% of its negotiating position [by drawing a border before peace talks commence] without getting anything in return. I don’t negotiate that way.”

With good reason, he adds.

“It’s a point of fact that my predecessors who negotiated differently fell off a cliff. Because they didn’t get anything. They didn’t breach Palestinian rejectionism.

“I nevertheless say that I’m willing to meet Abu Mazen. My late father used to say that “conversation fertilizes thought.” So you actually can generate new ideas if you actually sit down and talk.

“I can’t get this guy to sit down and talk. My throat has become hoarse from inviting him to meet again and again and again.”

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New stabbing attempt reported in West Bank

A fresh stabbing attempt is being reported near the West Bank town of Qalqilya, near central Israel.

The alleged attacker has been arrested, according to a report by Channel 10 news.

No Israelis were injured in the incident, according to the report.

The attempted attack occurred during clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli forces, Channel 10 says.

The attempt would be the fourth of the day by Palestinian assailants.