OneJerusalem.com

a different side of Israel

Page 4 of 146

Syria’s Prime Minister has Reportedly Defected

The unending onslaught of violence brought on by Syria’s regime has resulted in an unimaginable death toll of civilians. News has been surfacing of military generals and other high ranking commanders defecting from the regime and fleeing the country with their families.

There is now rumor that Syria’s Prime Minister, Riyad Farid Hijab, has packed up his bags and fled as well. If the news is true, then this will make Hijab the highest ranking administer to defect from President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The news of Hijab’s defection was initially reported by opposition forces. Syria’s government-run media, however, has denied all rumors of Hijab making an about-face. The media has insisted that Hijab was fired and did not defect as reported by the opposition. There are also reports that the country’s finance minister defected as well; this is also being disputed by the media.

Since the conflicts began about 17 months ago, Syria’s regime has consistently been fazed by the sudden defection of top military and civilian officials. According to an activist, while Hijab had close ties to President Assad’s brother, he appeared to be deeply disturbed by the atrocities committed by the government he was heading.

Aside from the defections, Iran’s role in the melee is also becoming more tangled. Rebel fighters have reported the capture of 48 Iranians in Damascus. Iranian officials have also called for an international emergency conference to be held in Tehran. According to the rebels, the captured Iranians are members of the country’s Revolutionary Guards. Iran has denied the claims and insisted the men were merely visitors embarking on a pilgrimage to a religious shrine in the city of Tadamon.

Iran has been an ardent supporter of President Assad and has continuously blamed Syrian rebels for the violence and civilian deaths. It has also blasted neighboring countries for siding with the opposition.

Presidential Candidate Romney Backs Israel and Its Right to Defend Itself Against Iran

The U.S. presidential election is looming, and it is an issue that Israel is keeping a close eye on. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited the city of Jerusalem and said that the U.S. has an obligation to back Israel in every way possible against the threat of Iran acquiring nukes.

Romney’s stance may make him more of a desirable candidate for Jews living in the U.S. While President Obama has stated that Israel has the right to defend itself, he has hesitated to include whether military option would be considered. Instead, his policy was focused more on diplomacy and sanctions in stopping Iran.

Romney’s foreign policy advisor, Dan Senor has made statements suggesting that a Romney administration would aid Israel in a military strike if all else fails. Romney also took jabs at the democrats for being too soft in its stance against Iran.

During his visit, Romney also referred to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which drew the applause of those present for his speech. Obama has been criticized in the past for his refusal to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Some suspect that this is out of fear of offending the Palestinians.

Romney’s visit included a conference with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. His stop also included a pilgrimage to the Western Wall where he inserted a note inside a crack.

Romney and the Prime Minister have actually worked together as partners at a consulting firm in Boston back in the ‘70s. It is unknown whether this will play a pivotal role in who Netanyahu supports during the U.S. election. However, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, insists that there is no favoritism involved here. He also added that Israel does not have any leanings one away or the other over who takes over the White House in the November election.

Olympic Committee Denies Moment of Silence for Victims of the 1972 Munich Massacre

The 2012 Olympics will mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre in which 11 Israelis participating in the games lost their lives to a terrorist organization known as Black September. Surprisingly, ever since the incident, no Olympic event that followed ever held a moment of silence for the victims.

While many have lobbied for the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremony, the IOC has refused and refused to budge on its stance. For the 2012 Olympics, both President Obama and Senator Hilary Clinton as well as other world leaders have all spoke in favor of having the moment of silence. So far, though, the IOC has showed no signs of relenting.

It is suspected that the IOC refuses to hold a moment of silence out of fear of offending Muslim nations. In fact, Jibril Rajoub, who is the chairman for the Palestinian Olympic Committee, sent a personal letter to the IOC praising and thanking the members of the board for making the decision not to commemorate the fallen Israeli athletes. He also added that allowing such a moment to proceed will only lead to divisiveness and racism.

The widows of two of the Israeli athletes who lost their lives that day are now calling for audience members to stage a peaceful and silent protest during the opening ceremony. They are asking for the spectators to remain silent when IOC president Jacques Rogge speaks at the ceremony.

While the IOC has commemorated the victims in other ways, families of the victims feel that the only true way to remember them is by having a moment of silence during the actual opening ceremony. Even with a petition of over 100,000 signatures requesting for the minute of silence, the IOC has already made it clear that no such moment will be held.

Syria Hints that it may Possess Chemical Weapons

Syrian authorities have issued a stern warning that it will not hesitate to employ an arsenal of chemical weapons against foreign invaders. The threat appears to be directed at Western nations in the event that they decide to deploy ground troops to the region.

For the U.S. and its allies, this appears to be an admission by Syria that they indeed own a stockpile of chemical weapons. The Syrian authorities have also issued a statement that its chemical arms will only be used to ward off a foreign invasion and would never be used against its own citizens.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jihad Makdissi, the weapons will only be used to defend itself from foreign aggression and will be up to the generals whether they are to be deployed. However, when asked whether this was confirmation that Syria possesses such weapons, Makdissi would not give a direct confirmation. He only says that if such weapons exist, that they would only be used against foreign invaders and never be used domestically.

It is believed that Makdissi’s ambiguous statements were directed particularly at the U.S., Israel and Turkey. According to a report sent to Congress, Syria has steadily built a cache of chemical weaponry, which includes cyanide, sarin nerve agent and mustard gas, all of which can be spread through the use of firing from artillery rockets, missiles and aerial bombs.

While Syria continues to keep its enemies guessing over what it possesses in its arsenal, a diplomat from the United Nations said that in a conference with Kofi Annan, a message was leaked suggesting that any chemical weaponry Syria may own is stored in a safe location.

Aside from Syria, Israel has also been just as equally ambiguous about its own stockpile of chemical weapons. In fact, Syria and Israel are two of eight nations that continue to refuse to relinquish its cache of chemical arsenal, despite a 1997 convention for all countries to dismantle their collection of chemical-related weaponry.

Middle East Plagued by another Cyber-Attack

Cyber-attacks are the preferred weapon these days by lone wolf attackers and even orchestrated by one nation against another. Another wave of cyber-attacks has been hitting the Middle East with over 800 victims unknowingly downloading a piece of malware that spies on their Web activity.

The attack is being called “Madi,” and the culprits behind it are believed to be a group of Iranians who operate off a location in Canada. The hackers stole mostly email and Facebook accounts belonging primarily to businessmen and government officials in Israel, Iran and Afghanistan.

The victim’s computer becomes infected when a malicious malware, usually disguised as a harmless file, is downloaded. Once downloaded, the malware can spy on the user and record everything from keystrokes to login information. It can also monitor messages exchanged via email and social network as well as record audio activity of meetings that take place through Skype.

The email containing the downloadable malware was sent specifically to the intended targets and were not spam emails sent to thousands of random people at a time. The downloadable content often came with videos of missile tests or religious pictures, anything designed to lure the person into clicking on the material.

Madi is actually less sophisticated than other types of malware that has been implemented in the past. In fact, some experts are puzzled at how such a basic Trojan virus was capable of successfully making its way into the computers of high profile people.

Madi is just one of the many cyber-attacks that have been taking place in the past year. Two other attacks known as Stuxnet and Flame sent a malware that was intended to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities. It has been speculated that Israel and the U.S. have been behind these attacks, though neither country has ever confirmed or denied involvement.

Tel Aviv Protestor Sets Himself on Fire

A protestor is fighting for his life right after setting himself on fire during a rally for social justice in the streets of Tel Aviv. Before lighting the match, he read aloud from a note saying that the state of Israel has stolen from the poor and given to the rich.

According to fellow protestors, the man was an activist from Haifa. He operated a company that went out of business, which forced him to get a job as a taxi driver. His luck made a turn for the worse when he suffered a stroke and became unemployed. He later moved to Tel Aviv but became drowned in debt due to the high cost of living in the city.

The remnants of the man’s note say that the government’s misdeeds left him unable to pay for his rent or medication. He also talks about the millions of dollars he has paid in tax as well as his many years of service in the military.

An estimated 8,000 marchers were at the demonstration. A separate protest also took place in Jerusalem and Haifa. The rally was a call against the rising cost of living. Protestors took to the streets shouting for the prime minister to resign.

A similar protest took place last year. In response, the government started a committee to address the demands for reform. However, since then, very little progress has been made. The situation remains dire for thousands of Israelis who continue to face rising costs.

Protest organizers hoped for tens of thousands of marchers to take the streets, though the number of turn outs were pretty dismal in comparison to last year’s march, in which roughly half a million demonstrators took to the streets.

The man who set himself on fire definitely got his message through, though only time will tell whether it will change anything.

Prime Minister Netanyahu to Make Compulsory Service Mandatory for Everyone

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud party that backs him announced that they will show support for a controversial law that will make it mandatory for all ultra-Orthodox Jews as well as Palestinian-Israelis to perform either military or community service.

The law was proposed by the Plesner committee and would require everyone to complete military or community service. The plan also looks to increase benefits for those who comply with the law and impose stiffer penalties for those who try to dodge the draft.

Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz opposed the idea of a mandatory draft and even threatened to quit if such a proposal were to be passed. However, he and Netanyahu have since agreed on proceedings to get the law drafted.

Supporters of the law have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv to rally in favor of mandatory service for all Israelis. Currently, there are certain minority groups who are exempt from compulsory service. The protest required a police presence, though no violence or arrests were reported.

Under the present law, most men over the age of 18 are required to serve a minimum of three years in uniform, while women are required to enlist for two years. However, they have the option of opting for community work in place of military service.

With the new law, hefty financial fines will be enforced for those who try to evade the draft. It also has plans to cut down the number of religious seminary students who are exempt from 50,000 to about 1,500 within the next four years.

The plan also aims to increase the number of Arab citizens living in Israel to serve. Arabs make up about a fifth of Israel’s total population; the majority of them are strongly against the proposal.

The Tal law was passed in 2002 and allowed ultra-Orthodox Jews and Palestinian-Israelis to be exempt from service. This law was declared unconstitutional in February and will become void beginning in August.

Poison Suspected in the Death of Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat

Nearly eight years after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat fell ill and died, the circumstances surrounding his death is now being investigated with closer scrutiny.

Arafat died in late 2004 after falling ill and being admitted to a hospital in France. An autopsy done at the hospital found no evidence that would suggest foul play surrounding his death. To this day, his cause of death still remains a mystery.

A separate investigation lead by Al Jazeera, however, revealed a completely different story. They concluded that Arafat was in optimal health before suddenly becoming violently ill. What’s even more intriguing is that an examination of his personal belongings, such as his toothbrush, clothes and even the kaffiyeh that he was always seen wearing, showed high traces of a radioactive element known as polonium.

The tests were done at an institute in Switzerland and showed that the belongings all had traces of Arafat’s urine, saliva and sweat. Further tests also suggest that Arafat may have had high levels of polonium in his internal system at the time of his passing.

Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, has now requested for authorities to have his body exhumed and have a full autopsy done. If traces of polonium are found in his bones, then it will suggest that someone may have had him poisoned.

Polonium is also suspected in the death of two scientists involved with Israel’s nuclear program. Its symptoms are still being studied and it is believe that the element kills by poisoning the intestines.

Laboratory tests concluded that polonium found on Arafat’s belongings did not come from natural sources. Most forms of cancer have also been ruled out as the cause of death. Even if Arafat’s body were to be exhumed and tests show that he indeed had levels of polonium, then it would only lead to an even greater question: who killed him?

Women in Iraq Forced to Undergo Virginity Tests

Most countries in the Middle East have a notorious history of treating women as second class citizens. There is now even more reason to believe that women are being held to unfair standards in a male dominated society.

In Iraq, some women are now being ordered by court to take a virginity test. In most Middle Eastern societies, women are expected to remain a virgin until marriage. Sexual activity before tying the knot is considered a dishonor to the family. In more traditional villages, some women are even killed by a male relative if it is discovered that she had engaged in premarital sex.

In the Baghdad Medical Legal Institute, women are being taken into a windowless room where tests are being done to prove or disprove their virginity.

Most women are admitted when the husband suspects his wife of not being a virgin. He then takes the matter to court where a judge can order the women to undergo a virginity test.

Aside from the women, the husband may also be tested for erectile dysfunction. Often times, the man will accuse his wife of not being a virgin in order to deflect attention away from his own shame.

If the test shows that the woman is indeed not a virgin, then there is no law to protect her. Her family would also then be required to repay for all gifts and expenses given during the courtship.

The human rights organization, Amnesty International, is currently looking into the matter and has described the virginity testing as a violation of human rights. The group has also said that the tests can be inaccurate at times.

In a culture where family honor is everything, women’s rights are being trampled on through these virginity tests. It is degrading and further illustrates that women are still being viewed as inferior to their male counterparts.

Holocaust Beauty Pageant Causes Controversy

A beauty pageant was held in Israel. Unlike a typical pageant, the contestants were not women in their early 20s with model-like figures. The 14 participating contestants were actually Holocaust survivors.

All the women were between the ages of 74 to 97. The contest was held in the city of Hafa, and each contestant walked in front of a red carpet and described the grisly details of their personal experience during their detention in the concentration camps.

After listening to personal accounts, a four panel judge awarded the crown to 79-year-old Hava Hershkovitz, who was forced to flee her home in Romania with her family.

While the pageant was clearly held to honor the victims – both the ones who perished as well as those who lived to tell their tales – not everyone sees it that way. Critics are slamming the event as being in poor taste as well as being outright offensive.

The pageant was organized by Shimon Sabag, who said the finalists were selected based on their personal experiences as well as contributions to their communities. While physical appearance did play a role in the selection, Sabag insists the role was minimal.

After being crowned the winner, Hershkovitz says that for her, this was her way of showing that she is still alive and well.

However, Collette Avital, the chairwoman of Israel’s Holocaust Survivors, says that it was not appropriate to judge these women based on their appearances, especially considering the harrowing experiences they endeared.

Roughly six million Jews were slaughtered in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. About 200,000 Holocaust survivors are still living today, with most of them residing in Israel.

Though there are mixed feelings about the pageant, it should not take anything away from the participants, who experienced a living nightmare that no one can even come close to relating to unless they’ve experienced it first hand for themselves.

Military Action Looms as Talks with Iran Fails

Israel and the United Nations have been engaged in talks with Iran to dismantle its nuclear program. Despite threats of sanctions, Iran shows no intention of abandoning its nuclear ambitions. Israel is now hinting at the possibility of military action.

The latest talks were held in Moscow. Once again, Iran has refused any compromise that would call for an end to its nuclear enrichment activities. Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Iran is not budging because current financial and oil embargo sanctions just are not stiff enough. Mofaz also said that they are now at the point where more drastic options need to be considered. It is hard to interpret this statement as anything other than military force.

Iran has continuously insisted that its nuclear program is solely for energy production and nothing more. The U.S., however, has long suspected that Iran is working towards the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.

Mofaz has said in an interview that if military force were to be employed, that it would have to be led by the U.S. The West has been leading the talks out of concern that Israel may resort to force if Iran cannot be convinced to relinquish its nuclear program.

While there is one more meeting scheduled in early July, there is no more talks that have been agreed to after that. This adds pressure for a peaceful diplomacy to be reached, or else risk the likelihood of war.

Other than talks over Iran, Mofaz has also visited the U.S. capital to help arrange a conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The hope is to continue with peace negotiations over how to handle Jewish settlement in Palestinian occupied land.

Mofaz currently runs the coalition that supports Benyamin Netanyahu. He and the Prime Minister have formed an alliance in order to prevent their political foes from seeking an early election.

Militants Launch Attack on Israel and Egypt Border

An assault near the Egypt border left three militants and an Israeli civilian dead. According to Israeli officials, gunmen open fired on a crew of construction workers as they were constructing a border fence in the Sinai desert region.

The attack sent three of the workers to the emergency room, where one later succumbed to his wounds. It is believed that at least three assailants were involved in the attack. Small arms gunfire was evident by the shell casings that riddled the floor; an improvised explosive device was detonated as well.

Soldiers were immediately dispatched to the area where they killed one of the gunmen. The second suspect was killed when an IED he was carrying detonated in his arms. The lifeless body of the third was later discovered at the scene. The civilian who died was identified as an Arab citizen of Israel.
Additional suspects are believed to have retreated back into Egypt.

The U.S. has released an official statement condemning the attacks and emphasized the importance for Israel to maintain a strong border security. Officials also cited the lack of political stability in Egypt as the cause for the violence, which magnified after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

In a separate incident, the Israeli Air Force launched an air strike in the northern section of the Gaza Strip that killed two Palestinian motorcyclists. Militants have confirmed the two dead as belonging to Islamic Jihad.

A second strike was carried out moments later that killed another two men and injured an additional three in Beit Hanoun. The air assault was confirmed by authorities who said the targets were a group of militants firing rocket propelled grenades across the border.

The government believes that the recent attacks show that militants are becoming more desperate and daring. The attacks also demonstrate a new degree of sophistication and complexity.

The Jihad Kindergarten

Children clearly are unable to distinguish between right and wrong and just follow what they are shown by adults. This is why you cannot blame the children from a Jihad kindergarten who are involved in a mock campaign to promote violence against Israel.

The students are from a kindergarten in Gaza that is owned and operated by Islamic Jihad. As part of the graduation ceremony for completing their first year of school, the children were dressed in military uniform and waved plastic AK-47s in the air while chanting anti-Semitic epithets.

The director of the kindergarten said that it is the children’s duty to continue with the resistance and recognize Israel as the enemy.

During the ceremony, the children stood in formation next to cardboard coffins draped in flags bearing the image of militant factions. There was also a segment where one child was dressed as an Israeli prison guard and dunked the head of another child dressed as a Palestinian prisoner in water. The demonstration was done to depict the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in detention.

One of the students said that he wanted to become a martyr by blowing himself up and killing as many Jews as possible in the process. That same child went on to say that the ideal scenario would be for him to blow himself up on a bus.

In attendance were the parents and relatives of the graduates, many of whom are actively involved with extremist Palestinian factions.

One of the teachers says that the goal is for each of the children to follow an active role in the resistance in the name of Allah and to protect the soil of Palestine.

Due to such influences, it is a shame that these children will likely end up on the battlefield as adults where they will be more than happy to claim innocent lives, even at the cost of their own.

Iran Announces Arrests in the Murder of Two Nuclear Scientists

Iran announced that arrests have been made in the murder of two nuclear scientists. Officials claim that the suspects in custody have ties to Israel and have been relocated to a detention facility for questioning. The arrests were made following an 18 month investigation involving heavy intelligence and surveillance work abroad.

So far, no further information has been released regarding the number of suspects or their identities. According to the Iranian intelligence ministry, the suspects are being held for the murder of Majid Shahriari, who was a member of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. He was killed in November of 2010. The following January, the director of Natanz nuclear facility, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, was also assassinated along with his bodyguard.

Both men were killed in the same manner. An assailant on a motorbike placed a bomb on their moving vehicles during Tehran’s rush hour traffic. The murders reportedly caused widespread panic among other scientists and hindered the progress of the nuclear enrichment program.

Initially, Iran pointed the finger at the U.S., whom they also blamed for the killings of two other scientists. So far, Israel has not come forward with any public statements to confirm or deny any involvement.

Just a month prior, Iran convicted and hanged a man it accused of being a spy for the Mossad. The man was Iranian citizen Masoud Ali Mohammadi, and he was also the prime suspect in the murder of a nuclear scientist, who was killed from a bomb blast outside his home back in early 2010.

Since then, Iran has sporadically made announcements about the arrests of people suspected as spies for the U.S. and Israel but has not provided evidence or released further details about the case. Iran has also fervently blamed the two countries for attempting to wreck its nuclear program by sabotaging its computers with malicious malware.

African Migrant Workers March the Streets of Tel Aviv to Protest Deportation

Demonstrators marched in unison to protest the arrests and deportation of African migrants. The streets of Tel Aviv were occupied by protestors who claim that asylum seekers are being unfairly treated because of the color of their skin.

The demonstration was conceived and carried out by the Bnei Darfur Organization. Marchers made their way to the United Nations Refugees office and handed a written letter to the government. The letter contained a demand for migrant workers to be reclassified as refugees.

The goal of the demonstration was for the UN to step in because of sentiments that Israeli authorities are not doing so. The march is also a call for migrants to be given access to education and health care. They are also asking for all denied asylum claims to be reexamined.

The marchers are made up largely of men, women and children from North Sudan and Darfur. One demonstrator was identified as Andrew Akolawin, who is planning to return to his native country of South Sudan with his children after staying in Israel for five years.

According to Akolawin, the issue is not about being deported back to his country as much as the manner in which the deportation process is being handled. He says that many are being forced out despite being owed unpaid wages and other dues. Like Akolawin, many will be leaving Israel with bitter feelings toward the country.

The protest at Tel Aviv did erupt in violence at one point and resulted in the arrest of 17 demonstrators. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, known for his firm stance against illegal immigration, denounced the violence and referred to those arrested as “infiltrators.”

According to official records, over 59,000 African immigrants have illegally entered Israel through the border that the country shares with Egypt. Construction is currently underway to build a fence to encompass the perimeter of the border.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 OneJerusalem.com

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑