The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
MK bashed for quip about how female minister got to IDF brass
Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern is coming under fire over comments that appeared to allege a minister who was once head of the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit slept her way into her position.
During a Knesset debate, Stern, himself a former general, quipped about Culture Minister Miri Regev that “I know how you advanced in the army.”
Likud MK Sharren Haskel accuses Stern of chauvinism and opposition lawmakers of hypocrisy for failing to reprimand him.
Stern says he was referring to Regev’s “over-enthusiasm in serving her masters” including during the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, when she became famous as the face of the IDF’s propaganda arm.
Stern is the former head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate.
Iran: US naive in thinking sanctions will change things
Iran’s deputy foreign minister says the US is misguided in thinking new sanctions will force Tehran back to the negotiating table over its nuclear program or easing tensions.
The United States has the “very simple naive” view that Iran will wilt under pressure, Seyed M. Kazem Sajjadpour says in London.
“The assumption is, we cut the money of the oil, then Iran will be deprived, then Iranian people will revolt, then the system will be changed, then we are fine, then the paradise will come,” he says in a Chatham House talk.
He says this view “negates the reality of Iran and the realities of foreign politics.”
Sajjadpour says Iran is self-confident and will not be forced to negotiate by having a knife put to its throat.
Polls open in East as fateful US midterm elections kick off
Americans have begun voting in some districts in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump’s presidency, with control of Congress at stake.
As polling stations opened at 6:00 a.m. in some places on the East Coast (1 p.m. in Israel), Republicans are keenly aware that losing their majority will hamstring his divisive, nativist political agenda over the next two years.
At stake are all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 seats in the 100-member Senate, 36 governor posts and seats in state legislatures across the country.
For almost two years, Trump’s rule-breaking, sometimes chaotic administration has enjoyed a largely free hand from the twin Republican-controlled chambers, but the midterms could finally see his wings clipped.
Iran accuses US of ‘assault’ with renewed sanctions
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says new American sanctions are an “indiscriminate assault” on his country.
Zarif made the comments Tuesday in an online video. He said the sanctions were aimed at forcing “us to submit to (America’s) will, no matter how absurd, unlawful or fundamentally flawed its demands are.”
Zarif urges America to re-examine its “catastrophes” in the Mideast, including its support of both Saudi Arabia and Israel.
He says the Washington has turned a blind eye to their “appalling atrocities that have resulted in global indignation and engendered insecurity to us all, the US included.”
Ex-SS guard, 94, goes on trial in Germany
A former SS guard, aged 94, has gone on trial in Germany charged with complicity in mass murders at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
The man from the western district of Borken served as a watchman from June 1942 to September 1944 at the Stutthof camp near what was then the free city of Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.
He was not publicly named by prosecutors, but Die Welt daily identifies him as Johann R., a landscape architect who once worked for North Rhine-Westphalia state authorities.
Dressed in a wool suit, the accused entered the courtroom in a wheelchair, with a walking stick in his right hand.
He is accused of being an accessory to the murders of several hundred camp prisoners, the regional court of Muenster says, more than seven decades after the end of WWII.
These included more than 100 Polish prisoners gassed on June 21 and 22, 1944, as well as “probably several hundred” Jewish prisoners killed from August to December 1944 as part of the Nazis’ so-called “Final Solution.”
Kremlin: US sanctions on Iran ‘absolutely illegitimate’
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says renewed sanctions on Iran following the pullout from the nuclear deal are “absolutely illegitimate,” according to Kremlin-run media.
Lavrov, meeting with his Spanish counterpart in Madrid, says it is “unacceptable” for the US or other countries to negotiate using ultimatums.
Russia has continued to back the nuclear deal, along with the other five remaining signatories.
UK Labour probes anti-Semitic candidate for Liverpool council
A evangelical vicar chosen by the Labour Party for a seat on Liverpool city council is being condemned over anti-Semitic statements he has made.
The party, which has been buffeted by accusations of anti-Semitism in recent months, has now launched an investigation, with some asking how he was chosen, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
Someone with views like this should not even be in the Labour Party, let alone be selected as a candidate and the party and the leadership need to deal with it immediately https://t.co/2nUhWnQmiR
— Ian Austin (@IanAustinMP) November 5, 2018
In August, Liam Moore said on Twitter: “We are seeing a very English right wing Zionist coup mate and sadly the Labour party is infiltrated by sellouts who would sacrifice a Labour government for their 30 pieces of silver.”
Moore is running for the seat representing Liverpool’s Norris Green ward, considered a safe Labour district.
Liverpool Labour MP Luciana Berger writes on Twitter that the comments are unacceptable and should be dealt with swiftly.
— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) November 6, 2018
Tunisia appoints Jewish businesman as tourism minister
Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed announces the appointment of Jewish businessman René Trabelsi to the role of tourism minister in his government.
Chahed makes the announcement in a televised speech.
For the past several decades, no Jewish person has served as a minister in the Tunisian government.
Trabelsi is the son of Tunisian Jewish community leader Perez Trabelsi.
— Adam Rasgon
France detains 6 far rightists in Macron assassination plot
Six people linked to the far-right have been detained in France in connection with a “violent” plot against French President Emmanuel Macron, officials say.
The six, who were not identified, were picked up by anti-terrorism units in the eastern French regions of Moselle and Isere and the northern region of Ile-et-Vilaine, officials add.
The arrests followed reports of a possible plot involving “violent action” aimed at the president, a source close to the investigation says.
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into a “criminal terrorist association,” a judicial source says.
“This investigation is looking into a plot, vague and ill-defined at this stage, involving violent action against the president of the republic,” another official says.
Body of pilot found at bottom of Sea of Galilee after 56-year search
The military says divers have discovered the remains of a pilot, Lt. Yakir Naveh, who has been missing since his plane crashed into the Sea of Galilee 56 years ago.
The remains were discovered on October 25, along with pieces of the aircraft on the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, the army says.
Once they were found, the remains were sent to a forensic laboratory for identification, the IDF says.
On May 6, 1962, Naveh was training a cadet on a Fouga Magister when their plane got too low over the water and the engine cut out. The nose of the plane hit the water, sending them into a fierce spin, wing over wing.
A year later, a search team found the body of the cadet who had been flying the plane, Oded Kouton, but no trace of Naveh.
In 2000, the Israel Defense Forces renewed its searches for Naveh.
On October 16, the military began its 12th round of searches for the pilot’s remains.
Until now, Naveh has been considered a soldier who is confirmed dead, but whose burial place is unknown.
The pilot’s family has been informed that his remains were found, the army says.
The time and location of his funeral have yet to be announced.
— Judah Ari Gross
Minister hits back at MK over claim she was promoted in army unfairly
Responding to MK Elazar Stern’s comment about her climbing the IDF ladder, which has been derided as sexist, Minister Miri Regev puts out a video calling for the Yesh Atid lawmaker to be suspended.
Brandishing a “#YouToo” placard, Regev calls Stern’s comment an “indictment against IDF brass and the advancement of women in the army.”
Stern had quipped that he knew how Regev, a former IDF spokesperson, made her way up the IDF ladder, but did not want to say, which many saw as him hinting she had slept her way to the top. He said it was a comment about her being too willing to kiss up to get promotions.
“Stern, tell us what you know, because I don’t know what you are talking about,” she says, calling him “sexist.”
דברי שטרן הם כתב אישום נגד מפקדי הצבא וקידומן של נשים בצבא. דבריו מבזים ומעוררים שאט נפש. #YouToo.
Posted by Miri Regev מירי רגב on Tuesday, 6 November 2018
Regev asks that probes be opened by the attorney general, the defense minister and the ethics committee to investigate any possible wrongdoing on the part of military officers in promoting her unlawfully.
Stormy weather expected to curb turnout in southern US
Severe weather in several southern states is expected to affect voter turnout on Election Day.
A line of storms moved through the Deep South overnight and early Tuesday morning, knocking down trees and power lines from Louisiana to South Carolina. There were no serious injuries but an estimated 11,000 residents were left without electricity.
A separate storm front in central Tennessee overnight killed one person, injured two others and also left thousands without power.
The National Weather Service warned of a possibility of high winds, severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes Tuesday around Baltimore, Washington, DC, and the Mid-Atlantic region.
Dry weather was forecast for the West and Southwest, but significant snow accumulations were expected across the northern Rockies.
Trump to stay out of public eye during voting
As US voters head to the polls for an election largely seen as a referendum on US President Donald Trump, White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the man at the center of attention will stay out of the public eye.
Trump will spend the day making telephone calls, monitoring congressional and gubernatorial races and meeting with his political team, she says.
In the evening, family and friends are planning to join Trump and first lady in the White House residence to watch the election returns.
On social media, Trump has yet to let loose with his traditional morning volley of tweets, with his last message from a campaign rally in Missouri late Monday night.
In an election-eve interview, Trump struck a gentler tone by telling Sinclair Broadcasting he regretted some of his caustic campaign rhetoric.
“I would like to have a much softer tone. I feel to a certain extent I have no choice, but maybe I do,” Trump said.
Funeral for pilot found after 56 years to be held November 13
Lt. Yakir Naveh, the Israeli pilot whose remains were recently found 56 years after his plane crashed in the Sea of Galilee, will be buried in a week, the army says.
Naveh’s funeral will be held on November 13 at 3 p.m. at Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul military cemetery.
— Judah Ari Gross
Party leader defends MK accused of sexism against minister
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is defending party MK Elazar Stern from charges of sexism over claims his comments directed at Minister Miri Regev were meant to imply she slept her way to a high IDF position.
Lapid says he believes Stern’s defense that he only meant Regev had been promoted by being overly obsequious to her superiors.
Lapid says anyone who thinks Stern was being sexist “simply doesn’t know him.”
“The low-brow dialogue that Miri Regev is pushing would not be found at all in Stern’s value system,” he says.
Democrats in 6 states depicted with wads of cash in alleged anti-Semitic ads
Republicans in Alaska, Washington state, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California have run ads showing Jewish Democrats handling cash.
The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that the Washington State Republican Party sent voters fliers depicting congressional candidate Kim Schrier with a wad of cash in her hand.
In Alaska, Republican Women of Juneau ran an ad targeting state senator Jesse Kiehl, showing a man sticking a wad of cash into his inner jacket pocket.
In North Carolina, the state Republican Party ran an online ad denouncing what it called the Democrats’ radical agenda. It featured Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat of New York, the Senate minority leader, clutching a wad of cash. Neither Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, nor Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat of California, are shown with cash.
The Juneau Republican group did not return calls from the Post seeking comment. The Washington and North Carolina state parties denied anti-Semitic intent, but did not say whether they had run similar ads against non-Jewish candidates.
In Pennsylvania, State Rep. Todd Stephens ran a TV ad featuring challenger Sara Johnson Rothman clutching a wad of cash. Rothman’s husband is Jewish. The illustration dropped her maiden name, Johnson, although she routinely uses it.
Previously reported were ads targeting Jewish Democrats for state office in California and Connecticut that depicted the candidates clutching wads of cash.
Ed Charamut, a Republican running for Connecticut State Senate, sent out a mailer showing his opponent, Democratic State Rep. Matt Lesser, grinning while clutching a handful of $100 bills. The mailer went out on October 30, three days after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead.
In California, Tyler Diep, a Republican running for State Assembly, sent out a mailer showing his Jewish challenger, Josh Lowenthal, grinning while clutching a handful of $100 bills. The flier went out on Sunday. Nine Jewish Democratic lawmakers in the State Assembly sent a letter in protest, saying the image reflected “anti-Semitic tropes.”
The 2018 campaign ended with a flurry of other ads and messages that drew criticism for playing on implicit or explicit anti-Semitism. Some of them were issued after the recent synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, where 11 Jews were killed during prayer, which led to a national outpouring of support for Jewish people.
Palestinians walking with hunting rifle arrested near settlement
IDF soldiers arrest three Palestinians — one of them armed with a hunting rifle — who were walking near the Mevo Dotan settlement in the northern West Bank, the army says.
The Palestinian suspects have been handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.
It is illegal for Palestinians to own guns in the West Bank, except for those who require them for work purposes.
— Judah Ari Gross
Israeli firm says info for 62 million US voters found for sale online
An Israeli cyber security firm says it has uncovered a databank with information on 62 million US voters in 17 states up for sale, Haaretz reports.
ClearSky says it discovered the data pool last week, which includes information on voters’ political opinions.
“We provide focused alerts to entities in Israel and abroad, and in order to do that, we have to track attackers through a variety of methods. As part of our tracking, we monitor markets where cyberattackers try to market their dubious goods, and that’s how we found the data pool on American voters ahead of Election Day. The data are fairly up-to-date. Some were last updated in 2017 and some in 2015,” ClearSky’s Boaz Dolev tells Haaretz.
Netanyahu and Modi exchange Diwali greetings
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has wished Indian counterpart Narendra Modi ” a joyous Diwali,” with the Hindu festival of lights set to kick off this week.
Modi responds by thanking Netanyahu and announcing he will surprise troops on the border for the holiday.
The two world leaders have formed a close friendship, with each visiting the others’ countries over the past year and a half.
On behalf of the people of Israel, I would like to wish my dear friend @narendramodi and the people of India a joyous Diwali. May this luminous festival of lights bring you happiness and prosperity. Reply to this tweet with the name of the city where you’re celebrating! ????????????????
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) November 6, 2018
Bibi, my friend, thank you so much for the Diwali wishes.
Every year, I visit our border areas and surprise our troops. This year too, will spend Diwali with our brave troops. Spending time with them is special.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 6, 2018
President Reuven Rivlin, who also visited India last year, also does the same with his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind, one-upping Netanyahu by throwing in some Hindu writing.
रोशनी के त्योहार #दीपावली के पावन पर्व पर इजरायल की ओर से #PresidentKovind व सभी भारतीयों को हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं। @rashtrapatibhvn
Warm greetings and good wishes to the people of #India from the people of #Israel on the auspicious occasion of Deepawali. #शुभदीपावली #HappyDiwali
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) November 6, 2018
Alas, Kovind has not responded.
Justice minister says deputy A-G must be fired for criticizing loyalty bill
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked says deputy attorney general Dina Zilber can no longer serve in her position after leveling criticism against a so-called loyalty bill conditioning state funding of the arts of certain political criteria.
At a meeting of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee Tuesday, Zilber said the bill “poses real difficulties” and that the authority the legislation aims to grant Culture Minister Miri Regev creates “a cooling and self-censoring effect.”
Shaked told Attorney general Avichai Mandelblit she expects Zilber to be removed from any role in which she represents the government. It’s unclear if she can force such a move.
The legislation calls for the denial of government funding to groups “that are working against the principles of the state.”
At the meeting, Zilber leveled harsh criticism against the bill and other recent controversial legislation by the right-wing government.
“These are not simple days and they are bringing us not only new laws but new words. … confrontational dialogue, wounding, scarring our shared social fabric, labeling and branding — who is for us and who is against us,” she said.
“If there’s someone who is loyal, so is there someone who is a traitor,” she added.
High turnout reported at some polling stations
Many polling stations in the US are reporting high turnout, a change from normally sluggish numbers that come in midterm election years.
A suburban Chicago polling station has reported twice the number of voters compared to 2016 — a presidential election year — while in downtown Chicago, people gathered before polls opened at 6:00 a.m.
In the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, at a church along a leafy street, 500 people had voted in the first two hours of the morning — twice as many as two years ago, according to poll worker David Mendalski.
The story was the same in Maryland, where a Montgomery County election official reported that turnout has been “astounding” early on, speculating that it might also surpass participation in presidential elections.
There was a sense of urgency among voters flocking to the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, where production artist Gilad Foss warned that democratic values were “kind of under attack.”
Chicago, Brooklyn, and Montgomery County are all Democratic strongholds
— with AFP
Lavrov hopes midterms ease tensions with US
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says he hopes the outcome of the US midterm election will ease domestic tensions in the United States and enable Washington to focus on global issues.
Speaking to reporters in Madrid on Tuesday, Lavrov laments that Russian-American ties have become “hostage to internal political squabbles in America.”
Lavrov said he is hopeful that the election will help stabilize domestic politics in the US “so that Washington could concentrate on some positive steps on the international arena.”
Lavrov also reiterates Moscow’s position that it is not meddling in US elections.
“All the accusations that we will be meddling in today’s elections turned out to be empty statements,” he says.
Mandelblit unlikely to back up deputy after call for firing — report
Channel 10 news reports that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit believes his deputy Dena Zilber may have indeed used her platform at a Knesset meeting to express personal misgivings about controversial legislation, and may not back her up after Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called for her firing.
Asked by the channel about his reaction to Shaked’s call to fire Zilber, Mandelblit only offers that he is going to look into it. He refuses to answer when asked repeatedly if he will support Zilber.
According to Hadashot news, Mandelblit has the final say on whether to let Zilber go.
General strike called off after agreement for more safety inspectors
A general strike called for Wednesday over construction worker safety concerns has been called off after an agreement was reached with the government to fund 60 more safety inspectors.
A rash of worker deaths recently, amid a continuing shortage of inspectors, had led the Histadrut labor union to threaten to strike if the problem was not solved.
The Israel manufacturers association had argued that the strike would mean losses of billions of shekels to the Israeli economy without solving the problem.
Hundreds march in West Bank industrial zone month after terror attack
Hundreds of people are reportedly marching in the Barkan industrial zone in the West Bank to mark a month since the killings of workers Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi by a suspected Palestinian terrorist.
Despite what the army says are intensive search efforts, the killer, named as Ashraf Na’alowa, has yet to be located.
Some of the marchers wear their hands bound with zipties, in memory of Levengrod-Yehezkel, who was apparently shot execution-style by the terrorist after being tied up with the plastic devices during the October 7 attack at a factory in the industrial zone.
Hundreds march in #Barkan in memory of Israelis Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi, demanding the terrorist who murdered them last month be found and brought to justice. Marchers handcuffed their wrists as a reminder of how the victims were handcuffed before being shot. pic.twitter.com/jHPTxKG2uR
— TPS – Israel's News Agency (@TPS_News_co_il) November 6, 2018
Marchers, which include family members of the two victims, are also calling for a new industrial zone to be built in memory of the victims.
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On Tuesday, the army said it would demolish the bottom two floors of Na’alowa’s family’s home in the northern West Bank village of Shuweika, but leave enough standing for the upper floors of the home to be undisturbed.
The announcement that the whole structure would not be demolished drew anger from family members, according to Hadashot news.
Putin Netanyahu meeting said nixed amid Syria tensions
A meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian president Vladimir Putin has reportedly been canceled amid Russian anger over Israeli actions in Syria.
The two had been scheduled to meet November 11 in Paris during Armistice Day anniversary commemorations, according to the Kan state broadcaster.
However, France asked that the meeting be canceled and Moscow has protested Israel publicizing the fact that it has continued to carry out strikes in Syria even after the downing of a Russian spy plane by Syrian air defenses in September, according to the report.
There was not immediate confirmation of the Kan reports from Jerusalem or Moscow.
However, other Israeli news outlets reports that Netanyahu was considering canceling the trip to Paris.
Russia has blamed Israel, which was carrying out a strike in Syria, for the plane downing incident and bolstered Syria’s air defenses, while reportedly demanding Israel give Moscow more notice before carrying out bombing runs, leading to increased tensions with Jerusalem.
Netanyahu had touted his frequent contacts with Putin as key to keeping a mechanism in place that allowed Israel to carry out bombings in Syria against Hezbollah and Iran.
Israel has signaled it will continue carrying out strikes even with the advanced S-300 air defense system operational in Syria. On Tuesday night, Israel’s Hadashot news carried footage of Israeli planes practicing bombing runs against S-300 batteries, in what some saw as a message to Moscow and Damascus.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Spanish newspaper el Pais that Israel was endangering Russian troops with its strikes in Syria and needed to give Russians more notice.
Snowden speaks to Israeli audience
Edward Snowden has spoken via live feed to an Israeli audience as part of a highly touted appearance, a rare “live” Q and A session by the NSA whistleblower.
Snowden says he was asked by many to cancel the appearance as part of the boycott Israel movement, but wanted to make his voice heard.
He also speaks out against NSO group, a shadowy Israeli cyber spying outfit that has been linked to the tracking and killing of dissidents in Mexico and elsewhere, including Gulf states.
Long lines and machine snafus mar voting in Georgia
Long lines and malfunctioning machines have marred the first hours of voting in some precincts across the US.
Some of the biggest problems Tuesday were in Georgia, a state with a hotly contested gubernatorial election. Voters reported waiting up to three hours to vote.
At a polling place in Snellville, Georgia, more than 100 people took turns sitting in children’s chairs and on the floor as they waited in line for hours.
Voter Ontaria Woods said about two dozen people who had come to vote left because of the lines.
At a poll site in Atlanta, voters waited in the rain in long lines that stretched around the building.
Hannah Ackermann said officials at the polling site offered various explanations for the delay, including blaming workers who didn’t show up and overloaded machines.