Month: December 2017

TRUMP’S COURAGEOUS & LONG-OVERDUE JERUSALEM DECLARATION WAS A HIGHLIGHT OF 2017

2017 Brought a Few Signs of Hope in an Otherwise Brutal and Dreary Year: Terry Glavin, National Post, Dec. 27, 2017— When Islamic State marauders roared across Iraq’s Nineveh Plains in July, 2014, they burned the churches, desecrated shrines, toppled crosses and destroyed ancient manuscripts.

The Conflict Over Jerusalem Is All Obama’s Fault: Alan Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2017 — The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes.

Discretion in Dealing with Europe’s Populist Parties: Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom, December 26, 2017 — Populist and nationalist parties are emerging as powerful political forces. They are likely to profoundly influence domestic and foreign policies in virtually every European country.

13 of the Biggest Health Breakthroughs in Israel in 2017: Nicky Blackburn, Israel 21C, Dec. 26, 2017— 1: An Israeli researcher devised a synthetic compound to disable the enzymes that allow cancer cells to metastasize.

 

On Topic Links

 

The 10 Most Insane UN Anti-Israel Actions of 2017: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 21, 2017

Meet The Top 10 Most Influential Israelis In International Business, Science, and Culture in 2017: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, Dec. 28, 2017

Happy New Year 2018: Dry Bones Blog, Dec. 28, 2017

Goodnight 2017…: Ariella Dreyfuss, Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2017

 

 

2017 BROUGHT A FEW SIGNS OF HOPE

IN AN OTHERWISE BRUTAL AND DREARY YEAR

Terry Glavin

National Post, Dec. 27, 2017

 

When Islamic State marauders roared across Iraq’s Nineveh Plains in July, 2014, they burned the churches, desecrated shrines, toppled crosses and destroyed ancient manuscripts. About 200,000 Christians fled, and most of them ended up in displaced persons’ camps in Iraqi Kurdistan or in makeshift refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. In Mosul, St. Paul’s Cathedral remained standing, but it was turned into a jail.

 

In one of the few hopeful moments of 2017 — an otherwise brutal and dreary year — a Christmas Eve mass was celebrated for the first time in four years at St. Paul’s. Local Muslims joined the Chaldean Catholic congregants in the service. Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako delivered a homily on interfaith peace and toleration.

 

By last October, Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by a U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition which includes 850 Canadian Forces personnel, had routed the Islamic State from its last major strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Now, Christians are beginning to trickle back to the ash heaps where their churches once stood in Mosul, and to all their ancient parishes in the surrounding towns and villages. That’s one useful thing the civilized world managed to accomplish in 2017. There’s not much else to crow about.

 

Syria remains a nightmare of human desolation. With half the population displaced and the country’s infrastructure destroyed, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Khomeinist Iran continue to arm and bankroll the criminal regime of Baathist mass murderer Bashar Assad, who goes on dropping bombs on civilians while a peace-talks parody continues in Geneva.

 

The United Nations continues to prove its bloated uselessness, perhaps nowhere more obscenely than in Yemen, which is currently in the throes of the worst outbreak of cholera in human history: nearly a million people are now infected. Another eight million people are on the verge of starvation. More than 10,000 people have been killed by bullets and bombs in a Saudi-Khomeinist proxy war that erupted in Yemen two years ago, and yet it took a tournament of backroom arm-twisting competitions last September just to get the UN Human Rights Council to agree to look into the disaster. Meanwhile, at the UN General Assembly, the thing everyone has been setting their hair on fire over lately is the Trump administration’s pledge to make good on a Clinton-era promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which just happens to be the capital of Israel.

 

And while Chaldean and Assyrian Christians were putting on a brave face for Christmas in Iraq this year, Xi Jinping’s police state was marking the holidays in its own way in Beijing. On Boxing Day, the satirist Wu Gan, famous for his flamboyant street protests against corrupt officials and the Communist Party’s abuse of power, was sentenced to an eight-year jail term on charges of subversion. Amnesty International’s Patrick Poon points out that Beijing has established a tradition of sentencing human rights activists while foreign journalists, diplomats and international observers are distracted by the holidays.

 

On Boxing Day last year, human rights champion Dhen Yunfei was dragged before a court on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for organizing a memorial tribute to the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. It was on Christmas Day in 2009 that Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail for his part in composing a pro-democracy manifesto. Liu died last July of multiple organ failure due to a liver cancer that prison authorities claimed they didn’t know about until just weeks before he succumbed. At the time, Reporters Without Borders’ Secretary-General Christophe Deloire disputed the official story: “We can clearly state that Liu Xiaobo was murdered by the lack of care,” he said.

 

A low point in Canada’s year on the “world stage” in 2017: at exactly the moment Liu died under heavy guard in a hospital in the northeast city of Shenyang, Governor-General David Johnston was hamming it up and smiling for the cameras while shaking hands with Xi Jinping at a formal dinner in Beijing. Another low point: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s obsequious pleadings for “free trade” favours during his visits in Beijing last month, tarted up in the usual pretty lies about “strengthening the middle class” and “growing the Canadian economy” and “regular, frank dialogue on human rights issues like good governance, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.” Upbraided for his impudence, Trudeau was instructed to mind his own business and was sent on his way.

 

Another one: In his address to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in September, Trudeau said nothing about the crisis in Yemen, or about China’s increasingly totalitarian thuggery and its perfection of artificial-intelligence thought control and its persecution of Uyghur Muslims, Christians, feminists and human rights lawyers, or about Myanmar’s bloody ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. Instead, Trudeau enumerated Canada’s long and dismal history of trespasses upon the dignity and the rights of Canada’s indigenous peoples. In another context, that would be all well and good. But the point of it at the UN General Assembly was to say nothing to cause any of the UN’s 193 voting member states to take offence and hold a grudge and fail to cast a vote for Canada in the contest with Ireland and Norway for a useless non-voting chair around the UN’s disgraced Security Council table for the 2021-22 term. It is in this fashion that the liberal world order recedes into barbarism and imbecility…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                                   

 

Contents

THE CONFLICT OVER JERUSALEM IS ALL OBAMA’S FAULT

Alan Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2017

 

The US acted properly in vetoing a misguided UN Security Council resolution designed to undo President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. First, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the United Nations to tell a sovereign nation what it can and cannot recognize. If Turkey, for example, were to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of “Palestine,” there is nothing the UN could or would do. (Of course, most UN members would applaud such a move.)

 

Second, the resolution fails to recognize that it was the December 2016 Security Council resolution — the one engineered by lame duck President Barack Obama — that changed the status of Jerusalem and complicated the efforts to achieve a compromise peace. Before that benighted resolution, Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital were widely recognized as part of Israel — or at worst, as disputed territory.

 

Everyone knew that any peace agreement would inevitably recognize that these historically Jewish areas were an indigenous part of Israel. They were certainly not illegally occupied by Israel, any more than Bethlehem was illegally occupied by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Both Jerusalem and Bethlehem had originally been deemed part of an international zone by the United Nations when it divided the British mandate into two states for two people — a decision accepted by the Jews and rejected by all the Arab nations and the Palestinian Arabs in the area. Jordan then attacked Israel and illegally occupied the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, prohibiting any Jewish access to these holy areas, as well as to the university and hospital. Jordan also illegally occupied Bethlehem.

 

In 1967, Jordan illegally attacked Israel. Jordan shelled civilian areas of Jerusalem. Israel responded and liberated the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, thereby opening these sites to everyone.

 

That has been the status quo for the last half century, until Obama engineered the notorious December 2016 Security Council resolution that declared the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to be illegally occupied by Israel, thus changing the status quo. This unwarranted change — long opposed by United States administrations — made a negotiated peace more difficult, because it handed the Jewish holy places over to the Palestinians without getting any concessions in return, thus requiring that Israel “buy” them back in any negotiation. As the former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority once told me, “If we have the Wall, we will demand much to return it to Israel, because we know Israel will give much to get it.”

 

By declaring this disputed territory illegally occupied by Israel, the Security Council enabled the Palestinian Authority to hold the sites hostage during any negotiation. That vote changed the status quo more than the declaration by President Trump. The Trump declaration restored some balance that was taken away by the Obama-inspired Security Council resolution of a year ago.

 

Why did Obama change the status quo to the disadvantage of Israel? Congress did not want the change. The American people did not support the change. Many in the Obama administration opposed it. Even some members of the Security Council who voted for the resolution did not want the change. Obama did it as lame duck revenge against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he hated. His motive was personal, not patriotic. His decision was bad for America, for peace and for America’s ally, Israel. He never would have done it except as a lame duck with no political accountability and no checks and balances.

 

Before that Security Council resolution changed the status quo, I did not support a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem by an American president, outside the context of a peace process. But once that resolution was passed and the status quo changed, I strongly supported President Trump’s decision to restore balance.

 

President Trump has been criticized for vetoing a resolution that has the support of every other Security Council member. That has been true of many anti-Israel Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. The United States often stands alone with Israel against the world, and the United States and Israel have been right. The bias of the international community against the nation state of the Jewish people has been long-standing and evident, especially at the United Nations. Abba Eban made the point years ago when he quipped that if Algeria presented a resolution that the earth was flat and Israel flattened it, the vote would be 128 in favor, 3 opposed and 62 abstentions. Recall the infamous UN General Assembly resolution declaring Zionism to be a form of racism. It received overwhelming support from the tyrannical nations of the world, which constitute a permanent majority of the United Nations, and was rescinded only after the United States issued threats if it were to remain on the books.

 

This entire brouhaha about Jerusalem — including the staged tactical violence by Palestinians — is entirely the fault of a single vengeful individual who put personal pique over American policy: Barack Obama.          

                                                                       

 

Contents

DISCRETION IN DEALING WITH EUROPE’S POPULIST PARTIES

Isi Leibler

Israel Hayom, December 26, 2017

 

Populist and nationalist parties are emerging as powerful political forces. They are likely to profoundly influence domestic and foreign policies in virtually every European country. There are many, including a substantial number of Jews, who, recalling the 1930s, now feel an ominous sense of déjà vu. They regard these populist parties as incubators for anti-Semitism, as well as anti-Muslim sentiment. The reality is that, until recently, these parties in France, Austria, Germany and Hungary included a considerable number of neo-Nazis and Holocaust revisionists. Any Jewish cooperation with such groups would have been an unthinkable desecration of the memory of Holocaust victims.

 

Today the situation has changed dramatically. The main source of support for these populists has come from those who consider the flood of Muslim migrants to be detrimental to the quality of their lives, with a massive increase in crime and social chaos that threatens their entire social order. In addition, there is the increased threat of both imported and homebred terrorists, from which no European city or province is immune.

 

Some of the voters for these nationalist parties are pro-Jewish and support Israel as a bastion of the free world. Over the past decade, they have begun purging their ranks of anti-Semites and publicly state that they intend to eradicate all anti-Jewish elements. Needless to say, that does not preclude fascists or Nazis voting for them. In the same way, the fact that racists and fascists may support Trump does not mean that his administration is fascist. Nor have far-left anti-Semites or communists taken control of the Democratic Party by voting for it.

 

The recent election of a right-wing government in Austria highlights the situation. It is noteworthy that Austria failed to prosecute Nazi war criminals, has an unenviable record of anti-Semitism and until recently claimed to be victims of the Nazis, denying any involvement in the Holocaust. The populist right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), a partner in the new coalition, was formed in 1956 by a former SS officer. Until the departure of Jorg Haider in 2005, no self-respecting Jew or democrat would contemplate associating with this party, which openly praised Nazis and was unequivocally anti-Semitic.

 

In April 2005, Heinz-Christian Strache was elected leader, dramatically transforming the party by focusing on the concept of Heimat (homeland) – its anti-immigration and social welfare platform. In last year’s presidential election, the FPO candidate, Norbert Hofer, won the first round with 35%, and nearly won the runoff election with close to 50% of the vote. When Strache’s party became a partner in the new government headed by Sebastian Kurz, the local community comprising 10,000 Jews and international Jewish communities condemned the party as fascist and racist and called for a boycott. The local Jewish community also objected to the FPO’s anti-immigration platform, despite the fact that the majority of Muslim “refugees” harbor anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs.

 

Israel found itself in a dilemma: It traditionally supports Diaspora communities facing anti-Semitism but this case is complex because the new Austrian chancellor backs Israel and pledged that his coalition would combat anti-Semitism. Israel decided to maintain relations and direct contact with Kurz and his government but instructed officials to avoid interaction with FPO ministers, including the head of the party, restricting them to liaising with the professionals working in the FPO-controlled ministries.

 

I have fought against anti-Semitism throughout my entire public life without distinguishing between Left and Right. However, I believe that, despite the FPO’s dubious past, Israel is acting against its best interests by boycotting it. Today, the FPO is essentially a nationalist anti-immigration party which claims that hordes of radical Muslims are making Austrians feel like aliens in their own country. Strache represents a new generation. With the broadening of FPO support, he seeks to distance the party and purge it of the anti-Semites and fascists and concentrate on becoming a popular anti-immigration party. In fact, Strache openly courts Jews and Israel.

 

The government program published by the FPO and Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party rejects “political Islam” which can “lead to radicalization, anti-Semitism, violence, and terrorism.” It proclaims that combating anti-Semitism in Austria is one of the government’s principal objectives and that Nazism was “one of the greatest tragedies in world history.” The country that, until recently, claimed to be a victim of Nazism, now vows to commemorate those who underwent “terrible suffering and misery” arising from the Anschluss, Austria’s 1938 annexation into Nazi Germany. The new government also explicitly commits itself “to Israel as a Jewish state” – a major departure from previous Austrian policy – and calls for a “peaceful solution in the Middle East, with special consideration for Israel’s security interests.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

 

Contents

 

13 OF THE BIGGEST HEALTH BREAKTHROUGHS IN ISRAEL IN 2017

Nicky Blackburn

Israel 21C, Dec. 26, 2017

 

1: Compound kills energy generating system of cancer. An Israeli researcher devised a synthetic compound to disable the enzymes that allow cancer cells to metastasize. When cancer cells leave the primary tumor and spread to other organs, they reprogram their energy-generating system in order to survive in harsh conditions with a shortage of nutrients like glucose.

 

Prof. Uri Nir of Bar-Ilan University identified an enzyme called FerT in the energy-generating mitochondria of metastatic cancer cells – an enzyme normally only found in sperm cells (which need to function outside the body they came from). When he targeted FerT in lab mice, the malignant cells soon died. Using advanced chemical and robotic approaches, Nir’s lab team developed a synthetic compound, E260, which can be administered orally or by injection, causing a complete collapse of the entire mitochondria “power station.” “We have treated mice with metastatic cancer and this compound completely cured them with no adverse or toxic affect that we can see,” reported Nir, adding that normal cells were not affected. Phase 1 clinical trials are planned over the next 18 months.

 

2: Personal menu to help avoid diabetes. In 2015, two researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel released a groundbreaking study showing that specific foods and food combinations affect each individual’s blood-sugar level differently. That discovery was incorporated into a made-in-Israel app, DayTwo, which helps pre-diabetics and diabetics who are not insulin dependent choose dishes that can best balance their individual blood-sugar levels. The algorithm predicts blood-glucose response to thousands of foods based on gut microbiome information and other personal parameters. High blood sugar is linked to energy dips, excessive hunger and weight gain as well as increased risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

 

To use the app, which went on sale in the US in 2017, users need to answer a questionnaire about their medical history, physical characteristics, lifestyle and diet. A stool-sample kit is then FedExed to the user, who sends it on to DayTwo’s lab. There the microbiome DNA is sequenced and the data is plugged into an advanced machine-learning algorithm. In about six to eight weeks, users receive a microbiome report and a six-month plan of personalized meal recommendations to help balance blood sugar.

 

3: World’s first bone implants. In August and December, doctors at Emek Medical Center in Afula performed rare bone implants – one on a man missing part of his arm bone and the second on a man missing five centimeters of his shinbone, both as the result of car accidents. Normally, the human body cannot restore bone segments, but revolutionary tissue-engineering technology developed by Haifa-based Bonus BioGroup enables growing semi-solid live bone tissue from the patient’s own fat cells.

 

The tissue is then injected back into the patient’s body in the expectation that the missing bone fragment will be regenerated in around six weeks without any danger of implant rejection or the complications of traditional bone transplants. “This surgery is truly science fiction; it changes the entire game in orthopedics,” said Dr. Nimrod Rozen, head of orthopedics at Emek, who carried out the experimental procedure. In the future, the Bonus BioGroup regeneration technology could be used for a variety of bone-loss conditions, including bone cancer, for which there is currently no solution…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy New Year & Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The 10 Most Insane UN Anti-Israel Actions of 2017: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 21, 2017—The list you’ve all been waiting for. While there were a myriad of other bona fide anti-Israel resolutions, reports and statements produced in 2017 by U.N. agencies and officials, I regret that I could only include ten.

Meet The Top 10 Most Influential Israelis In International Business, Science, and Culture in 2017: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, Dec. 28, 2017—Israelis are recognized leaders in any number of fields including technology, medical research, innovation and humanitarian aid.

Happy New Year 2018: Dry Bones Blog, Dec. 28, 2017

Goodnight 2017…: Ariella Dreyfuss, Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2017—It has certainly been an interesting 2017 in the Israeli Hi-Tech world, here is a rundown of 5 highlights, in case you missed them.

                                                              

 

 

JOYEUX NOËL À NOS AMIS CHRÉTIENS

  

    

 

 

EXTRAIT DE SEPT ANNÉES À JÉRUSALEM

Julien Bauer

Éditions du Marais, 2012

 

 

En décembre 1964, j’étais à Jérusalem. J’avais remarqué que l’atmosphère n’indiquait pas l’arrivée de Noël et j’avais plaint les Chrétiens. Il m’a fallu un certain temps pour me rappeler qu’à Paris rien n’indiquait Rosh Hachana, le Nouvel an ou Pâque. À l’époque, la frontière entre Israël et la Jordanie était ouverte à Noël pour permettre aux prêtres et aux diplomates d’assister à la nuit de la Nativité à Bethléem, sous contrôle jordanien. Je me suis présenté au Consulat de France et ai demandé d’être placé sur la liste des personnes envoyées aux autorités jordaniennes pour avoir le droit d’assister à la messe à Bethléem. Hors de question m’a-t-on répondu, vous n’êtes pas catholique et la Jordanie exige une preuve d’appartenance au christianisme. Le Roi Hussein de Jordanie, considéré comme un modéré, avait trouvé ce moyen pour interdire aux Juifs, non pas seulement aux Israéliens, l’accès à la Jordanie. La France acceptait cette discrimination officielle. Aucun problème, ai-je signalé, je connais un curé qui est prêt à écrire qu’il m’a baptisé et que je suis un bon catholique. Non, au cas où la Jordanie découvrirait que vous êtes Juif, vous seriez arrêté. Nous finirons au bout de quelques mois à obtenir votre libération, mais vous ne seriez pas beau à voir. J’ai offert de signe rune déclaration dégageant le Consulat de France de toute responsabilité, mais le refus a été maintenu.

 

Le second choix a été d’assister à la messe de minuit à Notre-Dame de France à Jérusalem. Cette église, comme son nom l’indique, relevait de la France et était située sur la ligne de démarcation, la majeure partie en Israël, une petite partie en Jordanie.

 

Le 24 décembre, peu avant minuit, je frappe la porte de Notre-Dame de France. Un jeune Israélien arabe chrétien me demande en hébreu : « Ata Nostri ? » — « Es-tu chrétien ? » — « Non, je suis Juif », — « Alors, tu n’as rien à faire ici. » — et il me claqua la porte au nez. Scandalisé par cette attitude, je frappe à nouveau à la porte et préviens le cerbère qu’après Noël, lorsque les bureaux seraient ouverts, j’irais porter plainte contre lui ai Consulat. Il m’a dit qu’il ne faisait qu’obéir aux ordres du curé. J’ai suggéré de faire changer les ordres. Peu après, le gardien revient et me dit qu’exceptionnellement je pouvais entrer, mais que je devais savoir que la messe durerait de quatre à cinq heures (ce que je savais être faux) et qu’il faudrait bien me conduire(ce à quoi, j’ai répondu que je n’avais pas besoin d’un curé pour m’apprendre la politesse). La messe était sinistre. Tous ceux qui le pouvaient étaient à Bethléem, les participants étaient surtout des sœurs et des personnes âgées qui avaient du mal à se déplacer. Le moins que l’on puisse dire est que cette première rencontre avec des Chrétiens à Jérusalem n’était pas une réussite.

 

La semaine suivante, me promenant dans les rues de Jérusalem, je vois le local brillamment illuminé. Je vais voir et des personnes m’invitent à assister à assister à une célébration religieuse protestante pour le Nouvel An. Je leur signale que je ne suis pas protestant mais Juif. « Venez donc, nous allons chanter des Psaumes du Roi David, vous devez les connaître ». « Et alors, vous êtes le bienvenu. Prenez de ces gâteaux, ils sont « cacher », pas les autres qui ne le sont pas ! ». Cette deuxième rencontre avec des Chrétiens à Jérusalem était des plus plaisante.

 

Cette différence d’attitude, de la plus fermée à la plus ouverte, est une caractéristique de Jérusalem. Ceci s’explique, entre autres, par la situation difficile des Chrétiens au Proche-Orient.

 

 

 

 

 

NETANYAHU: « J’AI UNE PROPOSITION

À FAIRE À NOS AMIS CHRÉTIENS »

europe-israel.org, 25 décembre 2017

 

 

 

A la veille de Noël, le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu, à Jérusalem, souhaite à tous les amis chrétiens de l’Etat juif un Joyeux Noël, se déclarant fier que les chrétiens non seulement survivent mais prospèrent en Israël, contrairement à tous les autres pays du Moyen-Orient.

 

 « J’ai l’immense plaisir de m’adresser à vous à coté de ce sapin de Noël, ici derrière moi à Jérusalem, la ville Sainte. Je suis vraiment fier d’être le premier ministre d’Israël, un pays qui souhaite un merveilleux Noel à ses citoyens chrétiens d’Israël et à ses amis chrétiens partout sur la planète.

 

Je suis fier qu’en Israël les chrétiens ne font pas que survivre mais prospèrent parce que nous croyons en l’amitié entre les peuples et nous protégeons le droit de chacun, par exemple le droit de dresser ce joli sapin derrière moi.

 

J’ai une proposition à faire à nos amis chrétiens… je vais prendre, le temps l’an prochain pour tout ceux qui viennent à Jérusalem durant les célébrations de Noël et JE SERAI VOTRE GUIDE POUR VISITER tout les lieux chrétiens: le bateau de Jésus dans les eaux de Galilée, vous pouvez aller au Saint Sépulcre, juste derrière moi, dans n’importe quel lieu que vous souhaitez visiter où Jésus a posé le pied, dans chaque lieu où ont émergé l’origine de notre héritage judéo-chrétien. Donc n’hésitez pas à venir en Israël, l’an prochain à Jérusalem et joyeux Noël à tous. »

 

 

 

 

CE QUE LES FÊTES DE NOËL ET HANOUKA ONT EN COMMUN

Maurice-Ruben Hayoun

23 dec., 2016

 

 

 

Est-ce un signe, un signal émis par je ne sais quelle intelligence cosmique, quel intellect divin? Deux religions, issues l'une de l'autre mais séparées, jusqu'à une date récente, par près de deux millénaires de brouilles et de fâcheries (et je suis gentil en parlant ainsi) vont enfin fêter, non pas ensemble, mais au même moment, l'une la purification de son inoubliable Temple de Jérusalem, l'autre la naissance de celui auquel elle doit son nom, sa vision du monde et même sa raison d'être.

 

Christianisme et judaïsme, judaïsme et christianisme. Certes, mise à part cette coïncidence de calendrier, les deux fêtes n'ont en commun que la joie de la célébration et non point un objet de vénération réellement équivalente. Pour les Juifs, Hanouka est un miracle, le miracle d'une fiole d'huile sacrée qui n'avait pas été souillée par le culte idolâtre des païens, tandis que Noël fête la naissance du Christ qui, pour plus d'un milliard et demi de chrétiens donne depuis deux mille ans un sens à leur vie. Les deux grandeurs ne sont donc pas comparables.

 

Maints automobilistes, mais aussi plus d'un piéton, se sont demandés ce que signifiaient ces affiches qui fleurissent régulièrement sur nos murs parisiens, au courant du mois de décembre… Que montrent-elles? On y distingue nettement les lumières d'un magnifique chandelier à sept branches, surmonté d'un visage d'enfant rayonnant.

 

S'agit-il d'un message publicitaire qui appelle à espérer la fin de l'hiver, à accepter le peu d'ensoleillement dans l'attente de temps meilleurs? Pas vraiment. Il s'agit de la fête de Hanouka qui est une fête juive, célébrée en son temps par Jésus lui-même et sa famille, une fête très suivie, parce que peu contraignante et très peu ritualisée, porteuse d'un symbolisme puissant et pourtant dépourvue de toute référence biblique, à l'exception des livres I et II non canoniques des Macchabées. C'est donc une fête extra biblique. Le terme hébraïque Hanouka signifie inauguration (du Temple purifié et re-sanctuarisé).

 

Vers 175 avant l'ère chrétienne, la monarchie séleucide se donne un nouveau roi, Antiochus IV Epiphane, qui, moins de huit années après son couronnement, impose à Jérusalem et à la Judée, des divinités grecques au sein même du Temple… En 166 avant JC, le grand prêtre Mattathias brandit l'étendard de la révolte et remporte quelques succès militaires initiaux. A sa mort, son fils Juda Macchabée marque lui aussi de nombreux points au plan militaire. Il ordonne alors la purification du Temple souillé par les idoles et procède à l'installation d'un nouvel autel. Les prêtres se mirent aussitôt en quête des fioles d'huile sacrée afin d'allumer le chandelier à sept branches, appelé menorah (Exode 25; 31s). C'est alors, nous dit la tradition talmudique (Shabbat fol. 21b-22a) que se produisit le miracle de Hanouka (consécration ou inauguration). Il ne restait malheureusement plus qu'une seule fiole d'huile sacrée, pieusement scellée et cachée par le grand prêtre. Elle n'aurait dû brûler qu'un seul jour et voilà qu'elle maintint le chandelier allumé pendant une huitaine!

On retiendra de ce récit hagiographique ce que l'on voudra car le miracle, comme disait Ernest Renan, s'opère d'abord dans l'âme de celui qui le vit et, par là même, lui confère le droit d'exister… Examinons de plus près les ingrédients de ce prodige… qui contient quelques éléments de vérité.

 

Pourquoi huit jours? Parce qu'il fallait bien ce temps là pour la cueillette des olives, les presser, en extraire l'huile et la purifier pour assurer une combustion convenable. Mais la symbolique de ce chiffre est plus étendue: la Bible considère que la création, sabbat compris, a duré sept jours et que le huitième caractérise l'aube de la sainteté et de la transcendance. Il faut aussi huit jours avant de circoncire les nouveau-nés. Enfin, le chiffre sept symbolisant l'ordre de la nature, le chiffre suivant, le huit, marque le passage vers un ordre plus élevé, spirituel…

 

Chaque soir, à la nuit tombée, les familles se réunissent autour d'un petit chandelier qui comporte huit emplacements auxquels s'ajoute un neuvième, pour allumer une bougie qui se consumera dans un espace déjà éclairé car les lueurs de la hanoukiya ne servent qu'à rappeler le miracle de la fiole d'huile sacrée… Le talmud a mentionné trois modes opératoires: chaque soir, on allume une bougie unique durant huit jours; chaque soir, un nouveau membre de la famille allume une bougie unique durant huit jours; et enfin, le rite familial qui a fini par s'imposer: chaque soir, on allume une bougie nouvelle, et le huitième jour le chandelier brille de tous ses feux… comme sur les affiches publicitaires! Des bénédictions sont récitées lors de l'allumage des bougies ainsi qu'un Psaume qui parle justement de l'inauguration du temple par le roi David (par anticipation); on conclut la cérémonie par le chant ma'oz tsur (Ps 31;5: forteresse, rocher où je me réfugie…)

 

La tradition juive qui n'a guère de goût prononcé pour les expéditions guerrières a surtout mis en valeur le miracle des fioles, ne mentionnant les hauts faits d'armes des Macchabées que du bout des lèvres. Mais elle a tenu à ce que cette fête soit celle des enfants, celle du triomphe de la lumière sur les ténèbres, de la culture de vie sur la culture de mort. Cette fête qui dure huit jours n'implique ni repos absolu ni solennité particulière, elle épouse les contours mouvants de l'existence humaine. Elle nous enseigne que l'on peut gagner une guerre en faisant couler l'huile et non le sang; que les guerres de religions sont désuètes et ne servent à rien sinon à accroître le nombre de morts. On gagne vraiment une guerre quand on apporte la lumière pour tous ceux qui veulent la recevoir. Même pour les ennemis d'hier qui sont appelés à devenir les protagonistes de demain.

 

Noël est effectivement bien plus important pour la conscience chrétienne qui voit en Jésus à la fois le prophète et le Messie. Nous n'entrerons pas dans la discussion séparant le Jésus de la tradition du Jésus de l'Histoire. Dans la mesure où les mortels que nous sommes peuvent faire des paris que sur l'avenir et doivent accepter le passé tel qu'il est car on ne peut rien y changer, les lumières de Hanouka et celles des sapins de Noël symbolisent, au fond, la même chose: l'espoir d'une vie illuminée par des valeurs de vie, la victoire de la lumière sur l'obscurité, quelle qu'elle soit, physique ou spirituelle. C'est la crèche qui donne au sapin sa coloration chrétienne, ce sapin provient des tribus germaniques du grand nord où il symbolisait par sa verdeur la victoire sempiternelle de la vie sur la mort.

 

Hanouka, comme Noël, est la fête de l'humanité civilisée qui croit en des valeurs messianiques.

 

 

 

Actualité 

 

 

 

 

 

LE GUATEMALA ANNONCE LE TRANSFERT DE SON AMBASSADE DE TEL-AVIV À JÉRUSALEM

Axel Rehouv

Europe-Israel, 25 dec., 2017

 

 

 

Le président Jimmy Morales annonce dans un message posté sur sa page Facebook officielle le déplacement de son ambassade en Israel de Tel Aviv à Jérusalem. Il s’agit du premier pays à suivre la décision des Etats-Unis.

 

« Cher peuple du Guatemala, j’ai parlé aujourd’hui avec le premier ministre israélien, Benjamin Netanyahu. Nous avons d’excellentes relations et avons toujours eu, depuis que le Guatemala a soutenu la création de l’état d’Israël (en 1948).

 

L’une des questions les plus importantes a été l’installation de l’ambassade du Guatemala à Jérusalem.

C’est pourquoi je vous informe avoir donné l’instruction à la chancelière pour qu’elle entame les démarches en ce sens. Dieu vous bénisse. »

 

Le Guatemala est l’un des neufs pays qui a voté contre l’ordre du jour initié par l’Egypte, la Turquie et la France, condamnant le choix de Washington d’installer son ambassade à Jérusalem.

 

Les relations entre Israel et le Guatemala sont solides et sincères. Ce n’est pas une coïncidence si Israël a toujours été le premier à offrir une aide humanitaire au Guatemala après des catastrophes naturelles.

L’Etat juif a une dette de gratitude envers ce pays d’Amérique centrale.

 

Beaucoup de Guatémaltèques rappellent avec fierté le rôle de leur pays dans la création de l’Etat d’Israël.

 

Jorge Garcia Granados, ambassadeur guatémaltèque à l’ONU, membre du Comité spécial des Nations Unies pour la Palestine et a exercé des pressions pour obtenir des voix au nom de l’État juif. En fait, le Guatemala a été parmi les premiers pays à reconnaître Israël. Ce faisant, le Guatemala a créé un «effet papillon», amenant de nombreux autres pays latino-américains à se joindre au soutien de la création du nouvel État.

 

Beaucoup de Guatémaltèques ont tendance à parler avec beaucoup d’affection d’Israël et pour cause, Israel a contribué à former et équiper les services de sécurité du pays. Le Guatemala souffre d’un niveau élevé de violence, de meurtres et de vols et provoque un sentiment quotidien d’insécurité pour le peuple; la plus grande part de cette violence est liée au trafic de drogue, à la criminalité urbaine, aux gangs et aux armes à feu illicites.

 

Israel a équipé le Guatemala des dernières technologies pour permettre à ce pays de réduire drastiquement les crimes et délits du quotidien.

 

Le Guatemala sera donc le premier pays à installer son ambassade à Jérusalem.

 

 

 

 

NADAV ARGAMAN DIRECTEUR DU SHIN BET : « CE NE SONT PAS MOINS DE 400 ATTENTATS D’ENVERGURE QUI ONT ÉTÉ DÉJOUÉS DURANT L’ANNÉE 2017 »

Europe Israel, 25 dec., 2017

 

 

La multiplicité des « petits attentats » commis par des initiatives individuelles conséquentes à l’incitation en provenance du Hamas et de l’Autorité Palestinienne fait parfois oublier que les organisations terroristes ne chôment jamais et préparent à longueur d’année des attentats d’envergure.

 

Si ces actions ne sont pas menées jusqu’au bout, c’est principalement grâce au travail permanent et erreintant de la police, de Tsahal et du Shin Bet, effectué loin de nos yeux.

 

Le directeur du Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman était dimanche matin l’invité de la commission des Affaires étrangères et de la Défense devant laquelle il a passé en revue les activités de son organisation durant l’année 2017. Il a rappelé que la sphère arabe palestinienne est toujours aussi instable et agressive, que le Hamas tente de perpétrer des attentats d’envergure et que l’Autorité Palestinienne, tout en se démarquant officiellement de l’action violente l’encourage par divers moyens commme l’incitation, les appels à la « résistance » ou la glorification des terroristes.

 

Concernant l’efficacité du Shin Bet et des autres intervenants, Nadav Argaman a fourni un chiffre qui fait froid dans le dos: ce ne sont pas moins de 400 attentats d’envergure qui ont été déjoués rien que pour cette année, soit en moyenne plus d’un par jour!! Dans ce chiffre, on compte 13 tentatives d’attentats-suicides et huit tentatives d’enlèvements. Par ailleurs, plus de 1.100 attentats de terroristes isolés ont été empêchés grâce à un réseau de renseignements particulièrement performant.

 

Des données qui montrent à quel point les différentes organisations terroristes – Autorité Palestinienne incluse – ne baissent pas d’intensité dans leur volonté de tuer des juifs. Elles forcent également l’admiration envers les différentes agences et forces de sécurité qui s’activent jour et nuit pour notre sécurité et méritent notre gratitude autant que notre admiration.

 

Le directeur du Shin Bet a également révélé un fait extrêmement grave: l’Autorité Palestinienne ne se contente pas de verser des salaires aux terroristes arabes palestiniens détenus en Israël ou aux familles des terroristes morts, mais également aux familles des terroristes arabes israéliens!

 

Nadav Argaman a prévenu les membres de la commission que le « calme » relatif qui règne n’est que factice et que la situation peut exploser à tout moment.

 

 

 

 

TOP 11 DES HABITUDES TYPIQUES DES JUIFS TRADITIONALISTES

David Krief

Jewbuzz, 15 dec., 2017

 

 

Le peuple juif a cette chance d’avoir en son sein des membres aux origines diverses : tunisiens, marocains, ashkénazes, éthiopiens, etc… Parmi eux, la majorité se définit comme « traditionalistes ». Par choix ou par manque de connaissances, ils pratiquent peu mais se sentent profondément juifs. Avec humour, voici le top 11 habitudes des juifs traditionalistes en France.

 

11 : Tu as l’interdiction de sortir le vendredi soir

 

Même si tu n’es pas chomer(et) shabbat, tu ne sors jamais de chez toi le vendredi soir, c’est comme ça.

 

10 : Tu manques toujours de kippot chez toi…du coup tu la fabriques toi-même avec du sopalin :

 

9 : Tu francises tous les mots A Pessah toujours, tu ne manges pas des « matzots » mais des « galettes« , ton fils fait sa « communion » et tu portes une « calotte«  pendant la « prière« …

 

8 : Tu vas à la synagogue uniquement pour Kippour Les femmes font très attention à être bien maquillées et les hommes n’arrivent qu’à la neïla, le « taleth » sous le bras et un carreau de sucre dans la poche, « au cas où ». A noter qu’hommes et femmes se retrouvent sous ce même talith pendant le son du choffar qui clôture le jeune.

 

7 : Tu ne manges pas de viande à TishaBeAv Tu n’as jamais su pourquoi mais c’est comme ça, pas de viande pendant le « gayne ». A la plage, tu fais aussi attention à ne pas trop t’éloigner du bord quand tu vas dans l’eau, « on sait jamais ».

 

6 : Ton Pessah se résume à ne pas manger de pain Loin de toi toutes les discussions sur la cacheroute des pâtes, les kitniot ou le dentifrice cacher lePessah, toi ton seul souci est de ne pas manger de pain. Tu achètes donc des « galettes » mais attention, toujours la même marque : « La Bienfaisante ».

 

5 : On te répond « je sais pas c’est comme ça » quand tu demandes des explications sur une fête juive Tu fais les fêtes de génération en génération sans trop savoir pourquoi, mais tu es incollable au moins sur une chose : les lois de deuil. Sûrement grâce à ta grand-mère, qui t’avait dit que son père était rabbin dans son pays.

 

4 : Tu glisses ton petit papier au Mur des Lamentations Evidemment tu le fais en portant le fil rouge que tu viens d’acheter. Et bien sûr, tu vouvoies D.ieu dans tes prières.

 

3 : Tu manges le fish au McDo Et quand on te fait la remarque, tu réponds toujours : « Ça vaaaa c’est du poisson »

 

2 : Tu baisses le son de la TV pour le kiddouch

 

C’est la scène typique qui a lieu dans toutes les familles traditionalistes, juste avant de regarder Koh-Lanta en famille.

 

1Tu fais le kiddouch grâce à ce livre

 

Toutes les familles traditionalistes ont ce livre en leur possession. Évidemment tu ne lis les « prières » qu’en phonétique.

 

Joyeux Noël à nos amis chrétiens

 

 

 

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Innovation Nation

Innovation Nation: Benjamin Netanyahu, Economist, Dec. 1, 2017 — The future belongs to those who innovate.

Teva’s Collapse – Israel’s Biotech Recovery: Glenn Yago, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2017 — The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes.

After Quiet 2017, Chinese Investors Seen Resuming Israeli Tech Shopping Spree: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2017— The sale of auto-technology firm Mobileye to Intel Corp. for a whopping $15.3 billion was by far the most significant Israeli tech moment of 2017…

The Emergency Medics Taking on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017 — In a country where terrorism and war are endured as a consistent, yet unpredictable, byproduct of a protracted and intractable geopolitical conflict, post-traumatic stress disorder is far from rare.

 

On Topic Links

 

Fly Me To The Moon: SpaceIL Launches Funding Plea To Complete Space Race Amid Financial Troubles: No Camels, Dec. 18, 2017

Technion Becomes First Israeli University to Open Campus in China: Shiri Moshe, Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017

On Upcoming India Visit, Netanyahu to Gift Modi Israeli Mobile Desalinization Vehicle: Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017

Israel Helps Colombia Upgrade its Air Force: Yoav Zitun, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017

 

INNOVATION NATION

Benjamin Netanyahu

Economist, Dec. 1, 2017

 

The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is seizing the future. With 8.5m people, it has more companies on NASDAQ than almost any other country outside North America and ranks third in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of most innovative economies. Israeli startups receive nearly 20% of global private investment in cyber-security, punching 200 times above our relative weight. Israel recycles 87% of its waste water, five times more than the runner-up. Israeli cows produce more milk per animal than those of any other country.

 

People everywhere benefit from Israeli innovations in their mobile phones, car navigation systems, life-saving drugs, medical devices—even the cherry tomatoes in their salads. Equally, Israel’s intelligence services have helped stop dozens of terrorist attacks in dozens of countries. These successes are buttressed by world-class universities and research institutions like the Technion, the Weizmann Institute and the Volcani Agri­culture Institute.

 

Technology without free markets does not get you very far. All national economies are engaged in a race in which the public sector sits astride the shoulders of the private sector. In our case, the public sector got too bloated. Under a policy I called “Fat man/Thin man”, we put it on a strict diet and removed barriers to competition that hampered the private sector, enabling it to sprint forward.

 

We controlled public spending, lowered tax rates, reformed welfare and pensions, removed foreign-exchange controls, dismantled monopolies, privatised government companies and created new capital markets. The result has been 14 years of nearly continuous GDP growth of 4-5% annually, lowering the debt-to-GDP ratio from roughly 100% to 62%. We leverage government spending on military intelligence by encouraging veterans to form thousands of civilian IT and cyber-startups, which we regulate as little as possible. Government investments in roads and railways open up land for housing, which is developed by private contractors.

 

For 50 years government companies searched to no avail for offshore gas. Once we enabled private companies to search, they found gas deposits worth many billions of dollars. The government’s take of these gas revenues will help fund our future needs in education, welfare and infrastructure. Israel became an economic tiger because we chose to be a nimble mammal rather than a fossil. Benefiting from the nexus of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence, we are rapidly developing new industries.

 

Fifty years ago, Israel failed in its effort to develop a car industry. Yet in the past decade we have had 500 startups in automotive technology which receive billions of dollars of investments each year. In 2013 Google bought Waze, a crowd-sourcing navigation system, for $1bn. In 2017 Intel paid $15bn for Jerusalem-based MobileEye, entrusting it to oversee Intel’s worldwide autonomous-vehicle businesses. Our universal digital health database holds great promise for breakthroughs in preventive and personalised medicine. Since technology alone does not guarantee our future, we must keep promoting entrepreneurship and fight excessive regulation. In the past two years I have chaired a cabinet committee that takes a machete to the weeds of overregulation, and Israel has moved from 27th to 16th in the Global Competitiveness Index.

 

What are the lessons of Israel’s economic miracle for 2018 and beyond? The first is: innovate or perish. The second is: innovate to create alliances and advance peace. Our technological prowess has brought us many new friends, alongside our irreplaceable alliance with America. We negotiated economic pacts with Japan and China. Relations with India are booming. Twice within a year I visited Africa. I am the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and Latin America.

 

But perhaps the most promising change is closer to home. Many Arab countries now see Israel not as an enemy but as an indispensable ally in our common battle against militant Islam. They also seek Israeli technology to help their economies. The potential normalisation with Arab states could help pave the way for peace with the Palestinians.

 

In 1968, in “The Lessons of History”, the great American writer Will Durant wrote: “The influence of geographic factors diminishes as technology grows. The character and contour of a terrain may offer opportunities for agriculture, mining or trade, but only the imagination and initiative of leaders, and the hardy industry of followers, can transform the possibilities into fact; and only a similar combination (as in Israel today) can make a culture take form over a thousand natural obstacles.” In the half-century since those prophetic words were written, Israel has indeed overcome a thousand obstacles. Its ingenuity offers hope for every nation under the sun.                                        

Contents

TEVA’S COLLAPSE – ISRAEL’S BIOTECH RECOVERY

Glenn Yago

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2017

 

The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes. More than any other company, Teva’s implosion accounts for the poor performance of all Israeli stock market indexes. Prior to its collapse, Teva comprised 29% of the Tel Aviv 125 Index, now down below 8%. The further planned voluntary de-listing of Mylan scheduled for February 2018 follows another life sciences de-listing, of Mellanox in 2013, creating another big hole in the local capital market and a loss for Israel’s role in this important industry.

 

Clearly, some new approach to financing medical solutions is overdue for Israel, instead of relying solely upon tax subsidies to large companies and the current limitations of our public and private equity markets. What can we learn and how can we prevent this from happening again? Already in 2014, Teva discussed separating its generic from its specialty drug business, but instead (despite unsuccessful pressure from activist investors) it doubled down on the generic side of the business through its catastrophic acquisition of Activis, Allergan’s generics business, for $40.5 billion.

 

Over the past two years, Teva lost $57b. of value, leaving it with a remaining market value of $19b. It owes about $35b. and faces a cliff of debt payments of $9.1b. by 2019 and $17.5b. by 2021. It faces these challenges with a cash flow that is projected to shrink to $3.2b. in 2018 due to heightened generic drug competition and the loss of patent protection for its sole proprietary drug, Copaxone.

 

In an important article last week, Prof. Eyal Winter argued that Teva’s failure “must not make the company that invented Copaxone into a company whose primary business is producing aspirin.” Well, it might be too late to solve that problem for Teva, but not for the Israeli scientific and technology ecosystem that can build life science solutions to global health problems. Under the Law to Encourage Capital Investments, Teva secured over $5.7b. in tax benefits, generating free cash flow and subsidies without any conditions or accountability to Israeli taxpayers. This enabled Teva to move much of its growth abroad and pay out dividends to shareholders and salaries to the executives who managed it into decline.

 

Teva just shut down its R&D facility operating from Israel and slashed its overall research and development budget. Without a creative strategy, this could threaten Israel’s future competitive strength in the biotechnology sector. Teva no longer has the firepower to fund its drug development pipeline and needs to radically restructure its debt. It cannot provide long-term, fixed rate financing to drug development. With guarantees, public and private investment and credit-enhanced, re-searchbased obligations, Israel can.

 

THERE ARE plenty of examples in the world of pursuing new directions focused on biotechnology and accelerating medical solutions. In 2015, London’s mayor proposed a $15.7b. bio-pharma development fund. In 2016, UBS launched a $470 million oncology fund. Bio-Bridge raised a $135m. fund to make smaller investments for early-stage therapies that haven’t made it to human trials. The State of California funded public bonds for $3b. to fund the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and accelerate therapies through public-private partnerships.

 

The government should use current negotiations it is holding with Teva over tax assessments as a lever to help restructure some of Teva’s huge debt and transform that into a public-private partnership with the government and scientific research institutes in Israel. This could enable Israel to regain some value of the tax subsidy it lost subsidizing Teva’s disastrous buying spree. In doing so, it could reboot a value- added translational medical ecosystem in Israel to solve global chronic and infectious diseases and enable new firms to emerge from the economic and business policy failures associated with Teva.

 

A debt swap of specialty drug patents could also reduce Teva’s current debt burden. Teva could swap out current debt for the value of the remaining specialty drug patents whose development it can no longer support enabling Teva to right-size its reduced generic drug footprint. Those drug patents would become part of a long term public-private drug development partnership focused on specialty drugs, via a new Research Based Obligation (RBO) Bond that would finance the translational medical industry and other intellectual property emerging from technology transfer organizations through Israel’s globally known medical centers, incubators, and the Israel Innovation Authority.

 

This would provide new players with sufficient runway to discover cures, vaccines, and treatment modalities including but beyond pills, where Israel’s knowledge capital can be competitive. Last year, Teva received approval for three innovative drugs (Fluticasone Salmeterol MDPI, Vantrella and Fluticason Propionate MDPI). Another drug is in Phase III clinical trails for migraine headaches. Other drugs in development at various stages include ones for movement disorders and Huntington’s disease.

 

Analyst reports from Citigroup, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley reported potential sales volumes of $3-5b. annually from these drugs. Combined with patents from other technology transfer organizations in Israel, the country could yet achieve great value for the intellectual property it is so heavily invested in by fueling long-term commercialization. In some of our institute’s financial innovations labs, colleagues from MIT, UC-Berkeley, NYU and elsewhere have shown how such financial engineering can increase success in fighting cancer, diabetes, neuropsychiatric disorders, blood disease and infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases as well…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                           

                                                                        Contents

AFTER QUIET 2017, CHINESE INVESTORS SEEN

RESUMING ISRAELI TECH SHOPPING SPREE

Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2017

 

The sale of auto-technology firm Mobileye to Intel Corp. for a whopping $15.3 billion was by far the most significant Israeli tech moment of 2017, but US President Donald Trump’s tax reform, along with changes in the Chinese investment environment, will also be remembered as defining the year, as they injected uncertainty into past 12 months.

 

At the end of 2016, the Chinese government issued restrictions on outbound investments but then clarified its position in August 2017, setting out a policy that banned certain investments, for example, in the military, gambling and sex industries; restricted investments in other areas like real estate, films, sports and hotels; but encouraged investments in industries that promote China’s technological development, as well as the oil and mining industries.

 

“2017 was a transition year,” said Edouard Cukierman, managing partner of Catalyst Investments L.P., an Israel-based private equity fund that manages over $250 million in investments. “The uncertain regulatory environment in China regarding investments in the first half of the year led to a slowdown in Chinese investment activity. The clarification of the rules in August has now opened up the bottleneck and I believe that in 2018 we will see renewed activity in Israel by Chinese investors.” Catalyst’s third fund, the CEL fund, which raised $200 million in commitments from investors, was set up jointly with Hong Kong-based China Everbright Ltd. More than 50 percent of the funds raised by CEL was from Chinese investors, according to company data.

 

As the Asian giant seeks a stake in the global technology world, shifting its economy from a labor-intensive powerhouse to one driven by technology, Chinese firms have been on a shopping spree for technologies and startups. In the past five years Chinese companies have invested some $16 billion in Israeli firms, not only high-tech, including the $4.4 billion acquisition of Playtika by a Chinese consortium in 2016, the $510 million buyout of medical device firm Lumenis by China’s XIO Group in 2015, Alma Laser in 2013, and food company Tnuva in 2014.

 

The cooling of China’s relations with the US —  as Washington seems to have lost patience with China’s hesitation in making trade concessions and its stance on North Korea — along with the recently passed US tax reform, which will make it more attractive for US companies to invest in local firms and not as many international firms, will also have an impact on Chinese activity in Israel, he said. “Chinese investors will be less keen to do business in the US, where they feel the environment has turned more hostile,” he said. And US firms, which have been traditionally the most active in acquiring Israeli startups, may turn their attentions inward, to their home turf. “This will open up opportunities for Chinese firms to operate in Israel,” he said.

 

Trump’s corporate tax reforms may also lead to US investors requiring Israeli startups to register as US entities, or to move significant operations to the US, so as to make them eligible for the tax rebates. In addition, Cukierman expects 2018 to see increased interest from Latin America in Israeli technology, as seen in the acquisition of Netafim by Mexican group Mexichem. “Abundant available money in the global economy and interest rates close to zero (despite a few hikes) continued to drive the local tech market this year,” consultants PwC Israel said in their 2017 exits report. The mood, however, was overshadowed by the limits imposed by Chinese authorities on foreign investments and by the uncertainty injected into the market by the US tax reform.

 

The total value of exists in the Israeli tech market (M&As and public offerings) was $7.4 billion, up 110% year on year, compared with $3.5 billion in 2016, according to the report published on Wednesday. Seventy exits took place in 2017, up from 55 deals in 2016. This figure represents a return to the levels seen in 2014 and 2015, with 70 exits each. In addition, the Israeli market twice broke the $1 billion mark in 2017, thanks to Mobileye that was acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion and NeuroDerm that was acquired by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma for $1.1 billion. These two deals are not included in the exits report, as they would skew the data.

 

The average value per deal in 2017 was $106 million, or a 66% increase year on year, even when deducting the two mega deals, the report said. Israeli tech companies returned to raising money via initial public offerings of shares on global and local markets: some 11 companies raised a total of $414 million in IPOs this year, the report said. The largest equity issue in 2017 was that of ForeScout, which raised $116 million on NASDAQ, reflecting a market cap of $800 million…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

Contents

THE EMERGENCY MEDICS TAKING ON

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Daniel K. Eisenbud

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017

 

In a country where terrorism and war are endured as a consistent, yet unpredictable, byproduct of a protracted and intractable geopolitical conflict, post-traumatic stress disorder is far from rare. While there is no recent data on the number of Israelis afflicted, Avi Steinherz, clinical director of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, said approximately 20% of those who experience or witness extreme violence will develop some form of PTSD.

 

“Statistics-wise, what we have found from 15 to 20 years of experience – including the intifadas, wars and incursions from Gaza – is that the majority of the general population has a resilience to traumatic events, and most people exposed to them do get better on their own,” he said on Tuesday. “However, there is 20% of the population that enters into what is called ‘acute stress reaction (ASR),’ in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, and once you talk about that particular population the statistics flip around completely because among them almost 80% will develop PTSD, which is a condition which they, their families and communities can suffer from for the rest of their lives.”

 

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “our population here in Israel has a huge amount of hyper-sensitive people walking around with PTSD from the numerous, unending amount of trauma we’re exposed to from all the wars, intifadas and the danger of living under the gun and the threat of death at all times.” Steinherz said the country’s first Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit was formed in 2016, at the height of the so-called “stabbing intifada,” following years of germination.

 

“During our experience from the stabbing intifada, we had statistics from Magen David Adom indicating that there were between three and four more times the amount of people who were emotionally and psychologically traumatized than those physically wounded,” he noted. “But, the amazing thing we found, which is the driving force behind our unit, is that if the 20% of the population who enters ASR receives immediate stabilization, 75% of those people will not develop PTSD. So, time is of the essence.”

 

Today, over 600 specialists, ranging from psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and EMTs, volunteer in the unit throughout the country as psychological first-responders following all terrorist attacks, missile incursions, deadly accidents, and violent criminal activity. According to Steinherz, the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, which has been dispatched over 400 times since its inception, is divided into two segments. “Our Advanced Life Support Unit is made up of 300 mental health professionals at the advanced level,” he explained. “The second team, which also has 300 volunteers, is called the Basic Support Unit, which includes medics and first-responders who have gone through an intensive course to provide immediate psychological first aid stabilization in the field.”

 

Based on the proven efficacy of these highly-trained volunteers, Steinherz said it has since become mandatory at United Hatzalah for all new EMTs to be trained in psychological first aid stabilization. “In the EMT courses, every single new incoming EMT must undergo five hours of psychological first aid training to help the medics themselves develop resilience to be able to deal with the traumatic experiences they are exposed to in the field,” he said. Moreover, Steinherz said that EMTs are trained to rapidly identify psychologically traumatized individuals, be they witnesses or family members of those physically wounded…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Fly Me To The Moon: SpaceIL Launches Funding Plea To Complete Space Race Amid Financial Troubles: No Camels, Dec. 18, 2017—Israel’s race to the Moon may soon have to come to a screeching halt as the Israeli startup SpaceIL, one of five finalists in the prestigious Google Lunar XPRIZE competition with a mission to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, says it’s short of the funds necessary to complete the project and may have to forfeit.

Technion Becomes First Israeli University to Open Campus in China: Shiri Moshe, Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017—The Technion — Israel Institute of Technology became the first Israeli university to inaugurate a campus in China on Monday. The Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) is a result of a 2013 partnership between the leading Israeli school and Shantou University in China’s southern Guangdong province.

On Upcoming India Visit, Netanyahu to Gift Modi Israeli Mobile Desalinization Vehicle: Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017—When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travels to New Delhi next month, he will bring a special gift for his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi — a Gal-Mobile water desalinization and purification jeep.

Israel Helps Colombia Upgrade its Air Force: Yoav Zitun, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017—Colombian security officials, including the chief of staff and the commander of the Air Force, took part earlier this month in a ceremony marking the completion of an upgrading process of 22 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir fighter planes belonging to the Colombian army and manufactured in Israel in the early 1970s.

                                                              

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

 

Contents: | Weekly Quotes | Short Takes   | On Topic Links

 

On Topic Links

                    

The Peace Process: Stephen Schecter, Shabbtai, Dec. 21, 2017

Christmas Reality: Palestinians Use Christians as Pawns, Israel Protects Them: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Dec. 26, 2017

Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem: The View from Beijing: Roie Yellinek, BESA, Dec. 27, 2017

Overcoming The Challenges Against All Odds: Jewish Press, Dec. 23, 2017

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“I think the settlements are part of Israel…I think that was always the expectation when Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967. It remains today the only substantive resolution that was agreed to by everybody…The idea [behind the resolution] was that Israel would be entitled to secure borders.” — US Amb. to Israel David Friedman. Friedman recently asked the State Department to cease using the term 'occupation' to describe Israel's presence in the West Bank. The State Department reportedly objected to the request, but eventually agreed to discuss the matter. “So there was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire 'West Bank'. And I think that’s exactly what, you know, Israel has done. I mean, they’re only occupying two percent of the 'West Bank',” he pointed out. Friedman also said that the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have an “important nationalistic, historical, religious significance…I think the settlers view themselves as Israelis and Israel views the settlers as Israelis.” (Arutz Sheva, Dec. 26, 2017)

 

"To its shame, the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel. Both the current and the previous Secretary-Generals have objected to the UN’s disproportionate focus on Israel. It’s a wrong that undermines the credibility of this institution, and that in turn is harmful for the entire world. I’ve often wondered why, in the face of such hostility, Israel has chosen to remain a member of this body. And then I remember that Israel has chosen to remain in this institution because it’s important to stand up for yourself. Israel must stand up for its own survival as a nation; but it also stands up for the ideals of freedom and human dignity that the United Nations is supposed to be about.” — U.S. Amb. to the UN Nikki Haley. Last week, as the UN General Assembly voted 128-9 to reject President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Haley warned there could be consequences for the UN. “When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our good will is recognized and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the “privilege’ of being disrespected,” Haley said. (Jewish Press, Dec. 21, 2017)

 

“The state of Israel rejects this vote outright…Jerusalem is our capital, we will continue to build there and additional embassies will move to Jerusalem…Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, whether or not the UN recognizes this. It took 70 years for the United States to formally recognize this, and it will take years for the UN to do the same.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Nine states – including the United States and Israel –voted against the resolution rejecting Trump’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The other countries which supported Washington were Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala and Honduras. Thirty-five countries abstained, including five EU states, and other US allies including Australia, Canada, Colombia and Mexico. Twenty-two of the 28 EU countries voted for the resolution, including the UK and France. Germany – which in the past has abstained on measures relating to Israel – also voted in favour. (Guardian, Dec. 21, 2017)

 

“We must evict the UN from the scenic Governor’s House, where its bloated staff does nothing, and give this historic site to a school, a hospital or – best yet – a new US embassy.” — Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy. (Guardian, Dec. 21, 2017)

 

"We will continue the struggle for Jerusalem to the end, no matter what the price will be…We are witnessing an intifada that is not only Palestinian. All parts of the Islamic nation are taking part in this intifada…Trump's decision will not pass. We have a massive strategic arsenal. Jerusalem is one and united, it has no West and East, it is the eternal capital of Palestine." — Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh. According to Haniyeh, Trump is expected to recognize Israel as a Jewish country. During a press conference, the terrorist leader claimed that according to information attained by Hamas, Trump is also expected to declare that he recognizes the Israeli settlements and that he plans to revoke the Palestinian right of return. (Jerusalem Online, Dec. 23, 2017)

 

“Jerusalem is our red line. Any steps against Jerusalem’s historic status and holiness are unacceptable.” — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan added that his country will work toward international recognition of the Palestinian state and seek the support of the European Union. Speaking at a visit to Tunisia at the end of a four-day Africa trip focusing on economic issues, Erdogan also called Syria’s President Assad a “terrorist who engaged in state terrorism” and should not be part of Syria’s post-conflict future. “How can we embrace a future with a Syrian leader who has killed close to a million of his citizens?” said the Turkish leader, whose country has seen a flood of refugees from neighboring Syria during the fighting. The Turkish leader said, “There is no calm in Syria, and with Assad there can never be peace there.” (Times of Israel, Dec. 27, 2017)

 

“We as Arabs must come to an understanding with the other party and know what its demands are, so that we can succeed in peace-negotiation efforts, so that negotiations not be futile…We must recognize and realize that Jerusalem is a religious symbol to Jews and sacred to them, as Mecca and Medina are to Muslims.”— Abdulhameed Hakeem, of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Saudi Arabia. Hakeem – who in a March article stressed that Israel and Saudi Arabia face a common threat in Iran – said the “Arab mind must liberate itself from the legacy of [former Egyptian President] Gamal Abdul-Nasser, and the legacy of both the Sunni and Shi’a sects, which has instilled for political interests the culture of Jew-hatred and denial of their historic right in the region.” (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 18, 2017)

 

"We know that actually someone who has engaged and turned away from that hateful ideology can be an extraordinarily powerful voice for preventing radicalization in future generations and younger people within the community.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In a year-end interview with CTV, Trudeau claimed that he believes returning Jihadists — like those I.S. members headed back to Canada after losing the fight abroad — can be rehabilitated into "powerful" voices against radicalism within Canada. Now that I.S. is nearly defeated, Canada anticipates that some of their departed brethren who left to join in the fight for the Caliphate, will return to their motherland. Unlike the U.S. Canada plans on welcoming the ones who claim to be reformed back with open arms. (Daily Wire, Dec. 21, 2017)

 

“As the expression goes, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.” And now is the Christian turn. Christians are now recapitulating the Jewish exodus. From 1500 to 1900, Christians made up a consistent 15 percent of the Middle East’s population…In 1910, that number had dipped to 13.6 percent…and in 2010, Christians had been reduced to a meager 4.2 percent, or less than a third as large as a century earlier. The downward trend, of course, is steeply continuing. As…Lee Smith puts it: “Being Christian in the Middle East has never been easy, but the wave of uprisings that has swept the region over the past year has made the situation for the region’s Christian minority almost unbearable.” The examples are alarming, and in many ways unprecedented in the long history of Muslim-Christian relations.” — Daniel Pipes. (Breaking Israel News, Dec. 21, 2017)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

SYRIAN REBELS NEAR ISRAEL BORDER ORDERED TO SURRENDER (Damascus) — Besieged Syrian rebels near the country’s three-way border with Israel and Lebanon have been ordered by regime forces to surrender or face defeat. Rebels are situated in Beit Jinn, and are facing Syrian military forces as well as Iranian-backed militias and Hezbollah. Fierce fighting has been reported in the area in recent days as the forces backing Assad advanced on the rebels. In September, a Hezbollah commander said the group has 10,000 fighters in southern Syria ready to confront Israel. Hezbollah is believed to have between 100,000 and 150,000 missiles and some 50,000 soldiers. (Times of Israel, Dec. 27, 2017)

 

OBAMA PROTECTED HEZBOLLAH DRUG RING TO SAVE IRAN DEAL (Washington) — The Obama administration stymied an investigation into Hezbollah — and its highly lucrative drug- trafficking networks — to protect the Iran nuclear deal, according to a report. A team had been working for almost a decade to bring down the Iran-backed organization’s sophisticated drug ring, which laundered money and smuggled cocaine into the U.S., Politico reported. But the departments of Justice and Treasury undermined efforts to arrest and prosecute key members of the criminal network — because the White House feared upsetting Tehran ahead of the nuclear agreement, according to Politico. (New York Post, Dec. 18, 2017)

 

ISRAEL’S WITHDRAWAL FROM UNESCO RUNS INTO HOLIDAY OBSTACLE (Jerusalem) — Israel’s planned withdrawal from UNESCO by the end of the year has hit a snag with diplomats unable to file the necessary papers on time because the cultural agency’s Paris offices are closed for the year-end holidays. But Israel’s envoy to the organization vowed to ensure that Israel will give up its membership. Netanyahu on Friday instructed Israel’s envoy to the UNESCO to submit a formal letter announcing Israel’s intent to leave the organization, two months after the US formally announced its own withdrawal — partly due to UNESCO’s anti-Israel bias. (Times of Israel, Dec. 27, 2017) 

 

EX-MARINE CITES TRUMP'S JERUSALEM DECISION IN PLANNED ATTACK (San Francisco) — A former US Marine was charged in a foiled I.S.-inspired attack planned for Christmas on San Francisco's Pier 39, according to court documents. Everitt Aaron Jameson, a Muslim convert, cited Trump's decision to name Jerusalem the capital of Israel as one of his reasons behind the plot. Jameson first attracted FBI attention after the agency received a tip that he'd been interacting with Facebook posts praising I.S., including one showing an image of Santa Claus and a box of dynamite with the words, "We meet at Christmas in New York…soon," a federal affidavit states. (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2017) 

 

ISRAEL IN TALKS WITH MORE THAN 10 COUNTRIES OVER EMBASSY MOVE (Jerusalem) — Israel is in talks with more than 10 countries — including some in Europe — about potentially moving their respective embassies to Jerusalem. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Monday said the nations were interested in following Trump’s footsteps and declaring the Israeli city the new capital in the wake of Guatemala’s recent decision to do so. Honduras is reportedly the next in line to take Trump’s lead. Honduras, like Guatemala, was one of the nine nations that voted in support of the US in the UN General Assembly’s resolution to oppose Trump’s Jerusalem decision. (New York Post, Dec. 25, 2017)

 

HALEY INVITES COUNTRIES WHO SUPPORTED US IN ISRAEL VOTE TO RECEPTION (Washington) — U.S. Amb. to the UN Nikki Haley sent an invitation to the 65 countries who didn’t vote against the United States in the U.N. General Assembly vote to denounce Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The invitation to the Jan. 3 reception marked a symbolic step of the U.S. taking note of who supports the country and who doesn’t. Last week, Trump linked the UN vote to the future of assistance from the U.S. to foreign countries, telling reporters: "Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care." (Fox News, Dec. 22, 2017)

 

NEW WESTERN WALL TRAIN STATION TO BE NAMED AFTER TRUMP (Jerusalem) — A train station that will be built next to the Western Wall will be named after President Trump. The train will include a 3 km. tunnel from the Umma (nation) station at the entrance to the city to the Cardo in the Jewish Quarter. Transportation Minister Israel Katz said that he sees the project of extending the length of the railway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as the most important national project, and ordered officials to define it as a top priority mission. The high-speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway has been under construction since 2001 and will complement the existing, slower railway that already operates between the two cities. The project has been marked by numerous setbacks and delays. (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2017)

 

DENMARK TO CUT FUNDING FROM SOME PALESTINIAN NGOS (Copenhagen) — Denmark is to revoke funding from several Palestinian non-governmental organizations and tighten aid criteria for others after they were tied to anti-Israel activities. The Danish Foreign Ministry said it would implement a more stringent vetting process for the transfer of funds to Palestinian NGOs. The move came after Denmark launched a review of its practices following a meeting where Prime Minister Netanyahu urged Denmark to stop funding Palestinian NGOs that are involved in anti-Israel incitement or promote boycotts of the Jewish state. Netanyahu listed organizations which receive Danish funds that Israel says are linked to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel. (Times of Israel, Dec. 23, 2017)

 

CHILDREN’S MAGAZINE DESCRIBING ISRAEL AS NOT ‘A REAL COUNTRY’ WITHDRAWN (Paris) — The entire print run of a popular French children’s magazine is being pulled from distribution following the publication of a feature which described the State of Israel as “not a real country.” The claim about Israel appeared in the January issue of Youpi, aimed at children aged 5-10. The magazine publisher’s president apologized for what he called a “clumsy error,” adding, “Obviously, we did not want to challenge the existence of the State of Israel.” The magazine explained that there are 197 countries in the world, but not all of them are recognized as “real countries.” The magazine cited both Israel and North Korea in this regard. (Algemeiner, Dec. 26, 2017)

 

LORDE CANCELS TEL AVIV CONCERT AFTER CALLS TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL (New York) — Lorde has decided to cancel her 2018 concert in Tel Aviv following calls for the singer to withdraw from the gig due to the anti-Israel BDS boycott. Lorde had canceled the show, scheduled for the Tel Aviv Convention Centre on June 5th as part of her 2018 world tour. The clamor for Lorde to boycott Israel increased in recent days as the United States announced it would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  Lorde becomes the latest artist to cancel an Israel concert following pressure from the BDS movement, joining Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Lauryn Hill and more. Radiohead and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds proceeded with planned Israel shows in 2017 despite criticism from BDS. (Rolling Stone, Dec. 24, 2017)

 

SAUDI ARABIA BLOCKS ISRAEL’S CHESS TEAM FROM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (Riyadh) — Israel has been left out of the World Chess Championships, which kicked off in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after its players were unable to obtain the visas they needed to attend. In a statement posted online on Tuesday, Fatimah S. Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi ambassador to the United States, blamed a lack of formal relations between the two countries for the denial. The decision came as a surprise to the Israeli team, especially after a Sunday announcement that visas had been issued to players from Qatar and Iran, two countries with poor relations with Saudi Arabia. The seven Israeli players who had planned to attend were now seeking financial compensation from the federation. (New York Times, Dec. 26, 2017)

 

HRW DEFENDS FORMER ARGENTINE GOVERNMENT AGAINST CHARGE OF COLLUSION WITH IRAN (Geneva) — The influential NGO Human Rights Watch rose to the defense of the previous Argentine government— two weeks after a judge indicted former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and several of her colleagues for allegedly colluding with Iran in the cover-up of Tehran’s responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. HRW’s statement was quickly followed by the publication of an opinion piece by one of the indicted officials, former Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who favorably cited the organization in asserting his innocence of the collusion charges. Timerman was a founder and former leader of the NGO Americas Watch — later absorbed into Human Rights Watch. (Algemeiner, Dec. 20, 2017)

 

VANDALS SAID TO ATTACK SYNAGOGUE IN IRAN, RIP UP TORAH SCROLLS (Shiraz) — Two Torah scrolls were reportedly torn to pieces and prayer books were thrown into toilets in a vandalism attack at a synagogue in the Iranian city of Shiraz. Iranian police are investigating the incident at the Hadash (“new”) synagogue in the city’s Maaleh neighborhood. It was not immediately clear who was behind the vandalism. Two years ago, an ancient Torah scroll stolen from an unnamed synagogue in the same city was returned to the local Jewish community. Iran had between 80,000 and 100,000 Jews before the 1979 Revolution but most have since fled, mainly to the U.S., Israel and Europe. There are only about 8,500 left, mostly in Tehran but also in Isfahan and Shiraz. (Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2017)

 

HUNDREDS ATTACKED CHURCH IN GIZA (Giza) — The Archbishop of Atfeeh issued a statement saying the Church of al-Amir Tadros (Prince Tadros) in the Kafr al-Waselin village in Giza, Egypt was attacked by a mob who gathered on Friday at noon outside the church while chanting hostile slogans that demanded the demolition of the church. Hundreds reportedly broke into the church, destroyed its contents, and beat the Christians who were present. Security forces arrived and dispersed the mob while the injured were transferred to hospital, the statement added. (Egypt Independent, Dec. 23, 2017)

 

NEWBORN SYRIAN REFUGEE FLOWN TO ISRAEL FOR HEART SURGERY (Jerusalem) — A two-day-old infant was flown from Cyprus to Israel on Friday night for emergency heart surgery. The infant was born to two Syrian refugees located in Cyprus. The Cyprus government contacted Israel for help after it was determined that the infant needed heart surgery. The newborn baby and his father were flown to Israel for treatment at Sheba hospital. (Jewish Press, Dec. 23, 2017)

 

WESTERN WALL TUNNELS SYNAGOGUE OPENED (Jerusalem) — A new synagogue within the Western Wall tunnels complex that took 12 years to build was dedicated and opened on Monday, following the Hanukka candle-lighting ceremony in the Western Wall plaza. The synagogue is deep inside the complex, adjacent to the area above which the ancient Jewish temples stood on the Temple Mount, and the inner sanctum of the Holy of Holies. (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 19, 2017)

 

ISRAELI COST OF LIVING AMONG HIGHEST IN DEVELOPED WORLD (Jerusalem) — A year-end report found that the cost of living in Israel is among the highest of developed nations. The Taub Center’s report showed that while employment was up and salaries had increased over the past 12 months, “price levels in Israel remain among the highest in the OECD.” The report found that Israel’s price index was 23 percent higher than the average in developed or developing countries, besting rich Western nations such as the US, France, Germany and Luxembourg. Only Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand had higher price indices. The report also found that the life expectancy for Arabs in Israel was the highest in the Arab-Muslim world, at 79 years. (Times of Israel, Dec. 27, 2017)

 

RECORD NUMBER OF CHRISTIANS TO VISIT ISRAEL FOR CHRISTMAS (Jerusalem) — The Tourism Ministry announced that a record number of Christian pilgrims are expected to visit the Holy Land for Christmas, finishing up a record-breaking year of tourism for Israel. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin released a statement saying that in the next few weeks, 20 percent more Christian tourists are expected than visited last year. More than half of the 2.9 million tourists in 2016 were Christian. Of the total Christian tourists last year, 38 percent identified as Catholic, 28 percent as Protestants, and 28 percent as Orthodox. Among the Protestants, 75 percent identified as Evangelicals. 23 percent of all visitors to Israel defined the purpose of their visit as ‘a pilgrimage’. (Breaking Israel News, Dec. 21, 2017)

 

On Topic Links

 

The Peace Process: Stephen Schecter, Shabbtai, Dec. 21, 2017 — Three days of rage Muslims proclaimed When Mr. Trump his statement made: Israel's capital, he told them, Is sure and true Jerusalem.

Christmas Reality: Palestinians Use Christians as Pawns, Israel Protects Them: Ariel Ben Solomon, JNS, Dec. 26, 2017—The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli Muslims often voice support for Christians, and seek to utilize them in the struggle against Israel. But it is the Jewish state that stands out as a defender of Middle East Christians.

Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem: The View from Beijing: Roie Yellinek, BESA, Dec. 27, 2017—On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed a declaration that said, “We finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.” In doing so, he overturned the traditional evasion of US presidents of Congress’s 1995 decision to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Overcoming The Challenges Against All Odds: Jewish Press, Dec. 23, 2017—Just a few hundred meters from the Egyptian border, Yedidya Harush stands a top of a sand dune overlooking what less than a decade ago was a vast, inhospitable, empty expanse, stretching as far as the eye can see.