Released Hezbollah prisoners marching in a parade in their honor in Beirut, 2008. Photo by Salah Malkawi/Getty

Senate Passes Bill Leveling Sanctions Against Hezbollah


The United States Senate unanimously passed a bill on Thursday that levels sanctions against Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy group that has been dubbed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

The bill, titled the “Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017”, was spearheaded by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NJ) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) and would implement economic sanctions toward people and businesses abroad that “provide significant financial, material or technological support to entities known to fundraise or recruit on behalf of” Hezbollah, per a press release from Rubio’s office. Hezbollah would also face sanctions for their various criminal activities, which include drug and animal trafficking.

Additionally, the bill would require President Trump to notify Congress about any foreign governments that are “facilitating transactions on behalf of” Hezbollah.

Rubio said in a statement, “Iranian-backed Hizballah terrorists are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and continue to pose grave threats to the United States and our allies, including the democratic state of Israel. The president and Congress should build on the successes of our 2015 law that targets Hizballah, its proxies and its enablers, and enact this new bill to strengthen international efforts to combat the financing and expansion of Hizballah’s terrorist and missile threats, as well as its narcotics trafficking and other transnational criminal activities.”

The Florida senator added, “I’m glad the Senate passed our bill, and I look forward to working with the House to enact these provisions into law.”

Shaheen said in a statement that “Congress should exercise every tool at its disposal to confront Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region outside of the Iran nuclear deal, particularly in Lebanon, where Hizballah continues to stockpile rockets and other weapons that directly threaten our ally Israel and provide military support to the murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.” Crapo touted the bill as “economic and logistical sanctions on Hizballah, significantly cutting off the flow of resources toward its fundraising and recruitment activities.”

In 2015, Rubio and Shaheen co-sponsored a bill with Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) that was signed into law by then-President Obama imposing sanctions against companies that do business with Hezbollah. The 2017 bill takes the 2015 bill and expands it even further.

The bill’s passage comes amidst the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducting drills and fortifying its borders in preparation for a possible war with Hezbollah. The Shia terror organization has developed more sophisticated methods of warfare from fighting in the Syrian civil war to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power and has amassed over 100,000 rockets.

However, the IDF has noted that Hezbollah is in financial dire straits due to Iran’s financial problems and prior U.S. sanctions. Hezbollah is also facing internal conflict after the group’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, ordered the assassination of Moustafa Badreddine, one of the group’s top commanders in Syria.

The Shia terror group also has a wide network in the United States, where it has conducted cyber activities and orchestrated various money laundering schemes. Nasrallah himself recently accused the U.S. of “working to hinder the battle against Islamic State.”

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrim blows a shofar, near the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov during the celebration of Rosh Hashanah holiday, the Jewish New Year, in Uman, Ukraine, Sept. 21, 2017. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukraine arrests three alleged terrorists accused of targeting Jews in Uman


(JTA) — Ukrainian police arrested three men they said were terrorists who, in their efforts to pit ethnic groups against one another, also targeted Jews in the central city of Uman.

The men were arrested earlier this month at a border crossing while carrying explosives, according to the KP news site. Citing unnamed officials from the regional prosecutor’s office, the news site reported that the suspects were planning to blow up a monument for Hungarians in a bid to escalate tensions over legislation in Ukraine that outlaws the use of Hungarian at elementary schools.

The three suspects were also behind a string of anti-Semitic incidents, according to the report, including the hurling on Sept. 21 of a grenade at Jewish pilgrims in Uman, where 30,000 Jews convene each year on Rosh Hashanah to celebrate the Jewish holiday near the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

They are also accused of dousing a synagogue in Uman with red paint in 2016 and leaving a pig’s head there – an incident that many people attributed to hatred of Jews and locals’ growing dissatisfaction with problems associated with the pilgrimage.

They are further accused of spraying the words “death to Jews” on the synagogue in Chernivtsi in November and trying to set fire to the synagogue in Lviv in July. The suspects denied these and other allegations.

Though prosecutors have not said this, the arrests prompted theories that the three suspects were working for Russia to exacerbate social tensions in Ukraine and give the country a bad image abroad.

Russia and Ukraine have exchanged allegations of sabotage after 2014, when a revolution led by nationalists in Ukraine toppled the rule of former president Viktor Yanukovych, whom some critics said was a corrupt Russian stooge. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and backs separatists in Ukraine’s east.

The two countries have also exchanged accusations of anti-Semitism in an apparent attempt to discredit each other in the West.

As I Lay Dying


When my friend and I sat under a canopy of Jerusalem pines, she asked me the time. Never did I dream that 30 minutes later she would be dead. I had never contemplated that someone would try to brutally murder me. Who does? At only 46 years old, I had never given death a thought.

The half hour leading up to Kristine Luken’s execution (and the attempt on my life) was a madness so debilitating that even the moments necessary for preparing myself for death were strangled by the dread of the manner of it.

On my knees bound, gagged and held captive by moral depravity in the Jerusalem Forest seven years ago, I looked up to heaven and moments later felt the serrated machete tear my flesh. Simultaneously, I witnessed the unthinkable: an innocent woman murdered before my eyes by two immoral, nefarious, hateful psychopaths who murdered with such obscene banality that they could hold a machete in one hand and a Marlboro in the other.

Let me tell you what I did and didn’t think, what I saw and didn’t see during that eternal moment that, unlike other events, cannot be routinely processed like other memories.

When the Angel of Death was beckoning, it never crossed my mind that I had not bought a house or gotten married or had kids or held a high-class career or made a bunch of money. Not for a fleeting moment was I regretful that I had always and only “excelled at average,” and bumbled through life not knowing what I really wanted to do until I was approaching 40.

In some respects, the prospect of death was disappointingly underwhelming. I envy those with near-death experiences who see a light, who see God, who have their lives flash before them, and who feel warm and peaceful. Concerning the mysteries of the World to Come, I had only a dull sense that the Master of the Universe was inherently good and raging at the evil of Adam.

But neither my lack of personal career and family aspirations, nor thoughts of God, was what for the most part occupied my mind.

What did was this:

I was thinking of the people I loved. The grief that I would never see them again was so searing that it competed with the machete ripping my skin. Never again would I embrace them or even hear their voices. I had not made the most of every moment. It was too late to correct anything I had said, or left unsaid. Gone forever were the opportunities to correct the moments when I did not extend kindness, sacrifice my time and think of those I loved before myself. I am often emotionally lazy in relationships; my being right had frequently superseded being kind.

After the attack by the Palestinian terrorists — now jailed in Israel — hundreds of Jews, Arabs and Christians sent me letters, for which I shall be forever grateful. People had taken the time to go out, choose a card, write their good wishes, go to the post office, wait in line and send it off. I had no idea how strengthening such kindness would prove to be, and I suspect neither did they.

In my experience, time does not heal. Time does not lead me to an upward turn, a working through, and finally, acceptance and hope. Unable to cry at the evil done to me, for the past few years I was truly worried that I was becoming a psychopath. Then I grew to understand that time does not heal, and evil does not make me cry. It is kindness that makes me weep.

I swear by the wisdom of the Talmud that says, “He who is merciful to the wicked, will be wicked to the merciful.” Raging at those who murder and maim is one thing, but being unkind toward those in our own communities and families because of political differences is a tragedy. I recognize that sometimes it is impossible to reconcile personal differences. However, the arena in which we conduct those differences can still be one of dignity, self-restraint and kindness.

Trust me, no matter how convinced and passionate you or I may be about our political persuasions, it is good to remember that our opinions are never worth more than our friends and families with whom we may disagree.

I learned that as I lay dying.


KAY WILSON is a British-born Israeli tour guide, cartoonist, musician, educator and survivor of a brutal 2010 Palestinian terrorist attack. 

A candlelight vigil is pictured on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. Picture taken October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

5 short comments on the Las Vegas massacre: Thinking about the next concert


A day of mourning. A day of baffled mourning. You mourn the dead and pray for the wounded. You also begin mourning the next senseless act of terror, and the one after that. That is, because you know there is no end to this violence in sight, no identifiable explanation that can be dealt with and hence no identifiable remedy.

1.

All the many politicians and pundits who try to explain the source of evil after such events can be divided into two main groups: those who point the finger at people’s behaviour and those who point the finger at government policies.

President Trump, in his speech yesterday, clearly positioned himself in the first group.

President Obama, in every speech he made after every attack during his term as president, positioned himself in the second group.

It would be unwise to describe this as a pragmatic debate about the benefits of gun control. This is a debate about the responsibility and rights of men vs. the responsibility and rights of governments.

2.

Being an Israeli, I am all for gun control. Being a realistic observer, though, I wonder about the call to drain America’s gun swamp. This seems as doable as deporting America’s illegal immigrants. President Trump vowed at some point that all illegal immigrants will have to leave, and his critics were quick to explain that deportation of more than ten million illegal immigrants is not a viable policy. The same critics should be honest enough to acknowledge that collecting 300 million guns is also not a viable proposal.

In other words, even if there is a change of gun policy (which is not forthcoming), it will take many years for this change to have real impact.

3.

My fellow Israelis, who watch Las Vegas from afar with horror and bewilderment, take note: constitutions are great — but they are also very stubborn. Getting rid of guns and of the lobby system is impossible, among other things, because both are guaranteed by constitutional arrangements. This does not necessarily mean that not having a constitution is preferable to having one. It does mean that every system has its flaws, and wishing for a constitution ought not to become a religion.

4.

While you cannot get the guns out of the hands of Americans, this does not mean that you cannot do a better job protecting Americans. It is only a matter of priority and cost. And it is possible that at some point, if attacks become even more common and deadly, the guarding of crowds in public places will become a higher priority that justifies the cost.

What can America do? It can have a better system of preventing people with guns from getting into hotels. It can have a better system of securing concerts, amusement parks and public demonstrations by making sure the crowd is sheltered from shooting from afar. It can have a better system of securing perimeters and making them gun free.

5.

When will this happen? When people hesitate to purchase concert tickets because of security concerns.

 

White supremacists, foreground, face off against counterprotesters, top, at the entrance to Emancipation Park during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

5777: Coping with a year of rage


We hear the word “high” a lot during the High Holy Days — and it’s not just because we live in pot-friendly California.

This time of year is supposed to elevate us, lift us up. It’s so integral to the mission of the holidays, and it’s embedded into the choreography of the service: The ark is opened and we rise; the shofar calls us to stand and wake up; the fast on Yom Kippur alters the chemistry of our brains. Prayer itself promises to bring us “higher and higher,” inching us closer to the profound mystery at the heart of the universe we call God.

Everything about this 10-day annual ritual titillates us with the promise of spiritual intoxication: If we take the holidays seriously enough — if we repent, return, forgive — Jewish tradition tells us we can change our lives; that everything we thought lost is still possible. Begin again, we’re told. It’s a new year. 

But for so many of us, the task of getting high this year seems especially hard because this last year was so full of personal and global anguish. How do we reclaim a space for the spirit when life can be so profoundly dispiriting?

Most of the major events of 5777 have given us reason to worry, rage and fear. We lived through the most polarizing election in our lifetimes, followed by the installation of an equally polarizing administration. We learned about Russian subversion of our democratic process. We endured nuclear threats from North Korea and the rising threat of economic imperialism in China. We watched the Syrian civil war and genocide spread into its sixth tragic year. We divided ourselves over Israel, agonizing about the challenges it faces within and without. We witnessed terror in Europe.

And, most recently, we watched with utter helplessness as the wrath of nature devastated American cities and communities, and as DACA was rescinded, putting the futures of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants in limbo. All of this courtesy of the constant churn of the 24-hour news cycle that knows no Shabbat. 

For these reasons and others, we feel drained. Can prayer and community have any impact on healing these wounds? And what if the very polarizing politics we wish to escape appear in our rabbi’s sermon?

For those of us who already are politically engaged, philanthropic and working with great devotion to fight injustice in this world, we hope the High Holy Days will pour some light onto the canvas of our aching souls.

Just before Rosh Hashanah, I asked Rabbi Mordecai Finley, the spiritual leader at Ohr Hatorah in Venice who teaches and counsels through the prism of psychology and philosophy, how we can move from a year of rage, grief or simply exhaustion to a period of spiritual elevation.

His answer was surprising — and kind of Buddhist.

“Every philosophical system that takes morality seriously detaches wisdom from emotions,” he said over warm apple pie at Sophos Café, the Italian-coffee hangout that serves as the lobby at his shul. (I had to put aside my extreme satisfaction with the pie to understand his point.)

But aren’t you angry about what you see happening in our country, or in the world, I asked?

“I don’t get that emotional [about it],” he said. “Anybody who is that upset [over politics], I’m wondering how efficacious their spiritual practice is to begin with. When people say to me, ‘It’s been the worst year ever,’ I say, ‘1862 was a bad year for our country [it was the Civil War and the Union was losing]. 1942 was a bad year for the world.’

“There are those who love divisiveness and get all emotional. It’s a choice you make. I’m among those who find [President Donald Trump] repugnant, but if I talk to somebody on the other side, I don’t bring that into the conversation. I say, let’s have rational conversation based on moral values. For people who say politics is personal, I think they like to be angry.”

Finley admitted that different people seek different things on the High Holy Days. Some people want and need to vent about politics.

“It can feel extremely satisfying when your leadership vents what you’re feeling,” Finley said. “But when people are venting, they don’t want to process. My congregation is populated by people who want an oasis during the High Holidays. I’ve asked, ‘Would you like me every week to rehash the new litany of Trump’s latest outrages?’ They say, ‘No, we get that from The New York Times.’ They’re after personal depth and transformation. They want leadership there.” 

Finley believes that for most of us, the way to a better world is through higher consciousness, by cultivating what he calls “the higher self,” or the soul. And the best way to test and exert the functioning of our higher self is through interpersonal relationships.

“There’s a moral framework in which we live that for most people, the first place they experience it is interpersonally,” he said. “You’ve been hurt by others; they’ve been hurt by you. That’s the first thing we have to deal with.”

It’s a lot harder to take on the problems of the world if we’re suffering at home. So for those of us who are grieving, heartbroken, angry or stuck, the holidays are a time to examine and refine our most sacred relationships.

Simple acts of being kinder, more generous and more compassionate can make our broken world a little brighter and bring us higher — indeed, closer — to God.


Danielle Berrin is a senior writer and columnist at the Jewish Journal.

A forensic tent seen next to a stopped tube train at the Parsons Green Station in London on Sept. 15. Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Device explodes on London train, injuring at least 22


An underground train in London was hit with a detonated device in an apparent terrorist attack.

At least 22 people were injured in the explosion Friday morning, according to NBC News.

The explosion at the Parsons Green Station in southern London occurred at about 8:20 a.m. local time — the height of rush hour on a busy commuter line into central London. Police are treating it as a terrorist attack, Sky News reported.

British Jews said that their nation’s determination to “defeat extremists” is only strengthened by the incident.

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, put out a statement shortly after the attack.

“Our thoughts go out to all of those injured in the terrorist attack on a train at this morning,” Arkush wrote in the statement. “The more the extremists attempt to disrupt our lives and challenge our values of tolerance and mutual respect, the stronger our resolve and determination to defeat them.”

CST, the security organization of the British Jewish community, reissued security instructions after the attack to report any suspicious objects to police. The explosion does not appear to be have targeted Jews in any way, CST also said.

Sylvain Pennec, a software developer from the London area, took images of a suspected explosive device that is believed to have caused the blast.

“I heard a boom and when I looked there were flames all around,” he told Sky News.  “People started to run but we were lucky to be stopping at Parsons Green as the door started to open.”

Pennec described what “looked like a bucket of mayonnaise,” adding that “I’m not sure if it was a chemical reaction or something else, but it looked homemade.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement: “The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that the explosion on a train at Parsons Green Station this morning is being treated as terrorism. Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life. As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.”

Remembering September 11, 2001


On September 11, 2001, 2,819 people were murdered during the attacks on America. These are the names of the people who died on that horrible day.  Remember. Pray. Keep the faith.

Gordon M. Aamoth Jr. 
Edelmiro Abad 
Maria Rose Abad 
Andrew Anthony Abate
 Vincent Abate 
Laurence Christopher Abel
 William F. Abrahamson
 Richard Anthony Aceto
 Jesus Acevedo Rescand 
Heinrich Bernhard Ackermann 
Paul Acquaviva 
Donald LaRoy Adams
Patrick Adams
 Shannon Lewis Adams
 Stephen George Adams
Ignatius Udo Adanga
Christy A. Addamo
 Terence E. Adderley, Jr.
 Sophia Buruwad Addo 
Lee Allan Adler 
Daniel Thomas Afflitto
 Emmanuel Akwasi Afuakwah 
Alok Agarwal
Mukul Kumar Agarwala
Joseph Agnello
David Scott Agnes
Brian G. Ahearn
Jeremiah Joseph Ahern
Joanne Marie Ahladiotis
Shabbir Ahmed
Terrance Andre Aiken
Godwin Ajala
Gertrude M. Alagero
Andrew Alameno 
Margaret Ann Alario
Gary M. Albero
Jon Leslie Albert
Peter Alderman
Jacquelyn Delaine Aldridge
David D. Alger
Sarah Ali-Escarcega
Ernest Alikakos
Edward L. Allegretto
Eric Allen
Joseph Ryan Allen
Richard Dennis Allen
Richard Lanard Allen
Christopher E. Allingham
Janet M. Alonso
Arturo Alva-Moreno
Anthony Alvarado
Antonio Javier Alvarez
Victoria Alvarez-Brito
Telmo E. Alvear
Cesar Amoranto Alviar
Tariq Amanullah
Angelo Amaranto
James M. Amato Joseph Amatuccio
Christopher Charles Amoroso
Kazuhiro Anai
Calixto Anaya, Jr.
Joseph Anchundia
Kermit Charles Anderson
Yvette Constance Anderson
John Andreacchio
Michael Rourke Andrews
Jean Ann Andrucki
Siew-Nya Ang
Joseph Angelini, Jr.
Joseph Angelini, Sr.
Laura Angilletta
Doreen J. Angrisani
Lorraine Antigua
Peter Paul Apollo
Faustino Apostol, Jr.
Frank Thomas Aquilino
Patrick Michael Aranyos
David Arce
Michael George Arczynski 
Louis Arena
Adam P. Arias
Michael Armstrong
Jack Charles Aron
Joshua Aron
Richard Avery Aronow
Japhet Jesse Aryee
Patrick Asante
Carl Asaro
Michael Asciak
Michael Edward Asher
Janice Marie Ashley
Thomas J. Ashton
Manuel O. Asitimbay
Gregg Arthur Atlas
Gerald T. Atwood
James Audiffred
Louis Frank Aversano, Jr.
Ezra Aviles
Sandy Ayala
Arlene T. Babakitis
Eustace P. Bacchus
John J. Badagliacca
Jane Ellen Baeszler
Robert J. Baierwalter
Andrew J. Bailey
Brett T. Bailey
Tatyana Bakalinskaya
Michael S. Baksh
Sharon M. Balkcom
Michael Andrew Bane
Katherine Bantis
Gerard Baptiste
Walter Baran
Gerard A. Barbara
Paul Vincent Barbaro
James William Barbella
Ivan Kyrillos F. Barbosa
Victor Daniel Barbosa
Colleen Ann Barkow
David Michael Barkway
Matthew Barnes
Sheila Patricia Barnes
Evan J. Baron
Renee Barrett-Arjune
Nathaly Barrios La Cruz
Arthur Thaddeus Barry
Diane G. Barry
Maurice Vincent Barry
Scott D. Bart
Carlton W. Bartels
Guy Barzvi
Inna B. Basina
Alysia Basmajian 
Kenneth William Basnicki
Steven Bates
Paul James Battaglia
Walter David Bauer, Jr.
Marlyn Capito Bautista
Jasper Baxter
Michele Beale
Paul Frederick Beatini
Jane S. Beatty
Lawrence Ira Beck
Manette Marie Beckles
Carl John Bedigian
Michael Earnest Beekman
Maria A. Behr
Yelena Belilovsky 
Nina Patrice Bell
Debbie Bellows
Stephen Elliot Belson
Paul M. Benedetti
Denise Lenore Benedetto 
Maria Bengochea
Bryan Craig Bennett
Eric L. Bennett
Oliver Duncan Bennett
Margaret L. Benson
Dominick J. Berardi
James Patrick Berger
Steven Howard Berger
John P. Bergin
Alvin Bergsohn
Daniel Bergstein
Michael J. Berkeley Chic Burlingame 
Donna M. Bernaerts
David W. Bernard
William Bernstein
David M. Berray
David S. Berry
Joseph J. Berry
William Reed Bethke
Timothy Betterly
Edward Frank Beyea
Paul Beyer
Anil Tahilram Bharvaney
Bella J. Bhukhan
Shimmy D. Biegeleisen
Peter Alexander Bielfeld
William G. Biggart
Brian Bilcher
Carl Vincent Bini
Gary Eugene Bird
Joshua David Birnbaum
George John Bishop
Jeffrey Donald Bittner
Albert Balewa Blackman, Jr.
Christopher Joseph Blackwell
Susan Leigh Blair
Harry Blanding, Jr.
Janice Lee Blaney
Craig Michael Blass
Rita Blau
Richard Middleton Blood, Jr.
Michael Andrew Boccardi 
John P. Bocchi
Michael Leopoldo Bocchino
Susan M. Bochino
Bruce D. Boehm
Mary Catherine Boffa
Nicholas Andrew Bogdan
Darren Christopher Bohan
Lawrence Francis Boisseau
Vincent M. Boland, Jr.
Alan Bondarenko 
Andre Bonheur, Jr.
Colin Arthur Bonnett
Frank Bonomo
Yvonne Lucia Bonomo
Genieve Bonsignore, 3 
Seaon Booker
Sherry Ann Bordeaux
Krystine Bordenabe
Martin Boryczewski
Richard Edward Bosco
John H. Boulton
Francisco Eligio Bourdier
Thomas Harold Bowden, Jr.
Kimberly S. Bowers
Veronique Nicole Bowers
Larry Bowman
Shawn Edward Bowman, Jr.
Kevin L. Bowser
Gary R. Box
Gennady Boyarsky
Pamela Boyce
Michael Boyle
Alfred Braca
Kevin Bracken
David Brian Brady
Alexander Braginsky
Nicholas W. Brandemarti
Michelle Renee Bratton
Patrice Braut
Lydia E. Bravo
Ronald Michael Breitweiser
Edward A. Brennan III
Francis Henry Brennan
Michael E. Brennan
Peter Brennan
Thomas M. Brennan
Daniel J. Brethel
Gary Lee Bright
Jonathan Briley
Mark A. Brisman
Paul Gary Bristow
Mark Francis Broderick
Herman Charles Broghammer
Keith A. Broomfield
Ethel Brown Janice 
Juloise Brown
Lloyd Stanford Brown
Patrick J. Brown
Bettina Browne
Mark Bruce
Richard George Bruehert
Andrew Brunn
Vincent Brunton
Ronald Paul Bucca
Brandon J. Buchanan
Gregory Joseph Buck
Dennis Buckley
Nancy Clare Bueche
Patrick Joseph Buhse
John Edwards Bulaga, Jr.
Stephen Bunin
Matthew J. Burke 
Thomas Daniel Burke
William Francis Burke, Jr.
Donald J. Burns
Kathleen Anne Burns
Keith James Burns
John Patrick Burnside
Irina Buslo
Milton G. Bustillo
Thomas M. Butler
Patrick Byrne
Timothy G. Byrne 
Jesus Neptali Cabezas
Lillian Caceres
Brian Joseph Cachia
Steven Dennis Cafiero, Jr.
Richard M. Caggiano
Cecile Marella Caguicla
Michael John Cahill
Scott Walter Cahill
Thomas Joseph Cahill
George Cain
Salvatore B. Calabro
Joseph Calandrillo
Philip V. Calcagno
Edward Calderon
Kenneth Marcus Caldwell
Dominick Enrico Calia
Felix Calixte
Frank Callahan
Liam Callahan
Luigi Calvi
Roko Camaj
Michael F. Cammarata
David Otey Campbell
Geoffrey Thomas Campbell
Jill Marie Campbell
Robert Arthur Campbell
Sandra Patricia Campbell 
Sean Thomas Canavan
John A. Candela
Vincent Cangelosi
Stephen J. Cangialosi
Lisa Bella Cannava
Brian Cannizzaro 
Michael Canty
Louis Anthony Caporicci
Jonathan Neff Cappello
James Christopher Cappers
Richard Michael Caproni
Jose Manuel Cardona
Dennis M. Carey
Steve Carey
Edward Carlino
Michael Scott Carlo
David G. Carlone 
Rosemarie C. Carlson
Mark Stephen Carney
Joyce Ann Carpeneto
Ivhan Luis Carpio Bautista 
Jeremy M. Carrington
Michael Carroll
Peter Carroll
James Joseph Carson, Jr.
Marcia Cecil Carter
James Marcel Cartier
Vivian Casalduc
John Francis Casazza
Paul R. Cascio
Margarito Casillas
Thomas Anthony Casoria
William Otto Caspar
Alejandro Castano
Arcelia Castillo
Germaan Castillo Garcia
Leonard M. Castrianno
Jose Ramon Castro
Richard G. Catarelli
Christopher Sean Caton
Robert John Caufield
Mary Teresa Caulfield
Judson Cavalier
Michael Joseph Cawley
Jason David Cayne
Juan Armando Ceballos
Jason Michael Cefalu
Thomas Joseph Celic
Ana Mercedes Centeno
Joni Cesta
Jeffrey Marc Chairnoff
Swarna Chalasani 
William Chalcoff
Eli Chalouh
Charles Lawrence Chan
Mandy Chang
Mark Lawrence Charette
Gregorio Manuel Chavez
Delrose E. Cheatham
Pedro Francisco Checo
Douglas MacMillan Cherry
Stephen Patrick Cherry
Vernon Paul Cherry
Nester Julio Chevalier
Swede Chevalier 
Alexander H. Chiang
Dorothy J. Chiarchiaro
Luis Alfonso Chimbo
Robert Chin
Wing Wai Ching
Nicholas Paul Chiofalo
John Chipura
Peter A. Chirchirillo
Catherine Chirls
Kyung Hee Cho
Abul K. Chowdhury
Mohammad Salahuddin Chowdhury
Kirsten L. Christophe
Pamela Chu
Steven Chucknick
Wai Chung
Christopher Ciafardini
Alex F. Ciccone
Frances Ann Cilente
Elaine Cillo
Edna Cintron
Nestor Andre Cintron III
Robert Dominick Cirri
Juan Pablo Cisneros-Alvarez
Benjamin Keefe Clark
Eugene Clark
Gregory Alan Clark
Mannie Leroy Clark
Thomas R. Clark
Christopher Robert Clarke
Donna Marie Clarke
Michael J. Clarke 
Suria Rachel Emma Clarke
Kevin Francis Cleary
James D. Cleere 
Geoffrey W. Cloud
Susan Marie Clyne
Steven Coakley
Jeffrey Alan Coale
Patricia A. Cody
Daniel Michael Coffey
Jason M. Coffey
Florence G. Cohen
Kevin Sanford Cohen
Anthony Joseph Coladonato
Mark Joseph Colaio
Stephen Colaio
Christopher M. Colasanti
Kevin Nathaniel Colbert
Michel P. Colbert 
Keith E. Coleman
Scott Thomas Coleman
Tarel Coleman
Liam Joseph Colhoun
Robert D. Colin
Robert J. Coll
Jean Collin
John Michael Collins
Michael L. Collins
Thomas J. Collins
Joseph Collison
Patricia Malia Colodner
Linda M. Colon
Sol E. Colon
Ronald Edward Comer
Sandra Jolane Conaty Brace
Jaime Concepcion
Albert Conde
Denease Conley
Susan P. Conlon
Margaret Mary Conner
Cynthia Marie Lise Connolly
John E. Connolly, Jr.
James Lee Connor
Jonathan M. Connors
Kevin Patrick Connors
Kevin F. Conroy
Jose Manuel Contreras-Fernandez 
Brenda E. Conway
Dennis Michael Cook
Helen D. Cook
John A. Cooper
Joseph John Coppo, Jr.
Gerard J. Coppola
Joseph Albert Corbett
Alejandro Cordero
Robert Cordice
Ruben D. Correa 
Danny A. Correa-Gutierrez
James J. Corrigan
Carlos Cortes
Kevin Cosgrove
Dolores Marie Costa
Digna Alexandra Costanza
Charles Gregory Costello, Jr.
Michael S. Costello
Conrod K. Cottoy 
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Photo courtesy of HBO

The Torah of ‘Game of Thrones’


I used to think HBO’s “Game of Thrones” depicted fantasy.

Over seven seasons, the show has featured creatures and events that are not of this world, even as they are fun to imagine: an army of the dead; domesticated dragons; faithful dire wolves; human “wargs,” who can enter the minds of animals and control them; and the threat of an indefinite winter that will sow chaos and cold throughout the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.    

These are not things we mortals must contend with, so for those of us who enjoy “Game of Thrones,” we suspend our disbelief over dragons that win wars and obsess over cliffhangers without ever taking the show too seriously. We tell ourselves it’s a guilty pleasure, without feeling much guilt. It’s absorbing but not deep; brilliant but not profound.

And we couldn’t be more wrong.

In the wake of two terror attacks in Europe last week — in Spain and Finland — as well as the storm over the deadly neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Va., I watched “Game of Thrones” on Aug. 20 with new eyes.

If there is a core truth that our world shares with the fictional civilization of Westeros, it is that we are both caught in an inexorable pull toward calamity.

Conflict is the ruling ethos of our day. Gone is the postwar era in which U.S. leadership, international agreements and economic collaboration sustained a world order. The stability that much of the world enjoyed for the latter part of the 20th century has been destabilized by the forces of populist nationalism, protectionism, nuclear threats, competition for global dominance, terrorism, civil war and climate change. “Game of Thrones” used to look like melodrama; now it looks like metaphor.

In the world of Westeros, as in ours, the precondition of existence is to combat an endless stream of existential threats. On the show, it’s a remote and resurgent army of the dead known as White Walkers, who want to annihilate the Seven Kingdoms and everyone in it; for us, it’s amorphous terrorist cells that plot to kill in the name of God and achieve world dominion through an Islamic caliphate.

On the show, the nefarious Cersei Lannister will plot, plunder and murder to preserve her power; in our world, Kim Jong Un and Bashar Assad have demonstrated that no human price is too high to pay to prolong their reigns. Nature brings catastrophe, too: Just as Westeros faces the danger of an endless winter, we face global warming.

Under conditions like these, where there is no rest or respite from the challenges to basic survival, “Game of Thrones” tells us there are no easy solutions for a world in flux. Human beings must expend their time and their resources, using all their economic, political and military capital to stave off chaos. And then it comes, anyway. Again and again and again. 

Forces for good exist, although not always in divine balance. There are heroes on the show, honorable men and women who serve as moral actors and fight for a better world no matter how dangerous the risks or impossible the odds. Many of them die. Evil forces tend to prevail more often because the cravers of power are willing to risk everything precious and the heroes are not. And as history has proven time and again, when evil eventually is defeated, it usually comes after horrendous destruction and loss. As in life, the show resists condemning bad characters to their fate until they’ve done bad deeds. But then it’s too late.

“When you play the game of thrones,” villain Cersei Lannister tells hero Ned Stark in Season One, “you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”

What better explanation is there for the extreme political partisanship we see in many places in the world today? People wonder where the moderates have gone, but in a dog-eat-dog world, there’s no room for centrists. Neutrality is an abdication of responsibility when survival demands you take a side.

Although most every kingdom in Westeros functions more smoothly than our current administration, there are always plots to upend the status quo. The emancipation of women has unleashed strong but not always fair female leadership, altering the destiny of Westeros. The game of thrones is now a faceoff between two queens: a cunning despot and an emancipator of slaves.

But the outcome doesn’t really matter.

“I’m not fighting so some man or woman I barely know can sit on a throne made of swords,” one battle-worn character said to another in last week’s episode.

So for what, then?

“Life,” he said. 

“Death is the enemy. … [And though] the enemy always wins, we still need to fight him. You and I won’t find much joy while we’re here. But we can keep others alive. We can defend those who can’t defend themselves.”

In a world on fire, the show tells us, protecting the vulnerable is the noblest aim. It’s a very Jewish idea — and it isn’t surprising to find it here; the show’s creators, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, are both Jewish.

So as it nears its final season, “Game of Thrones” has traded fantasy for realism, assuring us there is little reward for doing good but that life ticks on, enabling the game to continue.


Danielle Berrin is a senior writer and columnist at the Jewish Journal.

French police secure the area in the French port city of Marseille, France, August 21, 2017 where one person was killed and another injured after a car crashed into two bus shelters, a French police source told Reuters on Monday. Photo by Philippe Laurenson/Reuters

Following attack, French Jewish leader calls for ‘immediate eradication’ of terrorism


Following the death of a pedestrian in what appeared to be a vehicular terrorist attack in Marseille, a leader of the local Jewish community called for the “immediate eradication” of terrorism.

Bruno Benjamin, the president of the local branch of the CRIF umbrella of Jewish communities, wrote the message Monday on Twitter shortly after police arrested a man they suspect is connected to the slaying of one woman and the serious injury of another in a car-ramming attack that morning.

Police cannot confirm that the incident was a terrorist attack, a police source told the Le Soir daily.

“#Marseille, terrorism knows no borders, terrorists have no limits and no humanity. Today, a total eradication is necessary,” Benjamin wrote in the unusually harshly worded message. “We cannot comprehend these levels of hatred and capacity” for terrorism, he added.

A prosecutor in Marseille said the incident appeared to be the work of a mentally ill person, the La Chaîne Info news channel reported.

The incident comes on the heels of deadly terrorist attacks in and around Barcelona on Thursday and Friday, where 14 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when a van plowed through a crowd. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack and for the actions of five suspected terrorists who were killed Friday during a police raid in a resort city south of Barcelona. The driver of the van in the attack is the subject of an ongoing manhunt.

On Friday, an 18-year-old man of Moroccan descent killed two women and wounded eight others in a stabbing attack in the city of Turku, Finland. Police arrested the suspect, whom they are calling a terrorist.

Medical staff members and policemen stand in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. Police in Barcelona said they were dealing with a "terrorist attack" after a vehicle ploughed into a crowd of pedestrians on the city's famous Las Ramblas boulevard on August 17, 2017. Police were clearing the area after the incident, which has left a number of people injured. / AFP PHOTO / Josep LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 13 dead, more than 50 injured in Barcelona van-ramming attack near kosher restaurant


This is a developing story.

A van plowed through a crowd of people on Barcelona’s main shopping street, reportedly killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 50 others.

Police said they were treating the Thursday incident as a terrorist attack, according to the French news agency AFP.

The Catalan government’s minister of the interior announced the death toll of the the attack on Rambla avenue near the entrance to Maccabi, a kosher restaurant, CNN reported. Spanish media, including the online edition of the El Mundo daily, reported that the bulk of injuries occurred outside the FNAC department store on the same street.

Barcelona’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen, said it did not appear the attack targeted Jews, but security forces instructed him to temporarily close Jewish institutions in the city, according to Israel’s Channel 10. The Daily Mail reported that several people were injured outside the restaurant.

Reports stated that local police have arrested one man in connection to the attack. Some reports have speculated that this man is Driss Oukabir, a Moroccan citizen who the Spanish-language paper El Pais identified as the van’s renter. Avi Mayer, a spokesman for the Jewish Agency for Israel, posted an item from what appears to be Oukabir’s Facebook page showing an  anti-Semitic video.

Witnesses at the scene said the driver of the vehicle fled on foot and shots were fired. Shortly after the attack, two armed men entered the Turkish restaurant Luna de Estambul, according to The Associated Press. The men were holed up there as police surrounded the place, Mundo Hispanico reported.

In photos from the scene of the attack, men and women in summer clothing are seen lying on the ground, and in some cases being treated by civilians and medics.

As the car began hitting pedestrians, a stampede occurred on the street and in the FNAC store, injuring more people, according to El Mundo.

Elad Salomon with his wife, Michal, and three of their children. Elad, his father and his sister were stabbed to death on July 21 in a terrorist attack at Halamish.

Lessons from the house of mourning in Halamish


Three days after an Israeli father and two of his children were stabbed to death on Shabbat by a Palestinian in a West Bank settlement, I found myself with 16 other progressive rabbis sitting shivah for the deceased, the Salomons, in a Charedi neighborhood.

It was perhaps the hardest moment of a recent visit to Israel — sitting with the other Americans, our shoulders, heads and legs covered as we paid our respects to this grieving family. We stood out among the others and were stared at by many, and yet, we found many surprising similarities between us and were received by the family with such grace and warmth and real gratitude that it moves me deeply just to recall it.

I have been coming to Israel for more than 20 years, and these visits have never been picture perfect. I lived here as a rabbinical student in the 1990s, during the huge marches for peace, which then brought about the tragic assassination of Yitzhak Rabin after he signed the Oslo peace accords. Shortly after I arrived with a group from my congregation in 2006, the second Lebanon war broke out. And a few years ago, when I brought another group, our ice-breaker the first morning ended with the sound of sirens and instructions to head to shelters because missiles had been launched and Iron Dome activated.

I’m used to arriving in Israel and having things change dramatically within hours or days, but I was hoping this time would be different. It wasn’t.

As Tisha b’Av approaches — it begins the evening of July 31 — I am keenly aware of the dual realities that animate Israeli life. The destruction of the Temples in flames, the massacre of other Jews in so many other times and places, all of the hatred that has been and still is directed at us as a people is real and palpable here as Israel continues to fight for legitimacy and the safety of her people. It pervades every political conversation, every heated argument, every major decision. The pain of the past and the fear our people have internalized, coupled with the fact that this is the Middle East, makes this place a tinderbox ready to ignite at any moment.

It took no time for me to be reminded of all this when I came last week for the American Israel Education Foundation Rabbinic Seminar to travel across the country with colleagues and learn from experts about the complex issues at play here. We arrived hearing that the government had rescinded the agreement that took years to craft, granting egalitarian services at the Western Wall. Local people and delegations from the United States turned out and protested the government’s reversal of policy.

But that was just the beginning. The big news as we arrived was the government response to a challenge from the Israel Religious Action Center, opposing government discrimination against gay and lesbian couples wanting to adopt children. The government alleged that being raised by a same-sex couple would prove harmful to a child because it would “load extra baggage on the child.” As a social liberal and as a lesbian mother, this was particularly painful and disappointing for me, as it was for all of our delegation.

We stood out among the others and were stared at by many, and yet, we were received by the family with such grace and warmth and real gratitude.

Immediately, 90,000 people signed a petition against the decision, including professional organizations of psychologists, mental health professionals, social workers and others. They argued that all research proves that children are better off in a loving home with loving parents of any kind. What amazed me was that, in Tel Aviv, 15,000 people turned out to protest the government’s position. I was deeply moved by how far ahead of the government so much of the Israeli public is on issues like this.

But as soon as there is a march to further the cause of social justice, there is another mass gathering resulting from another kind of deep tension here. Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians we’ve met with all agree on one thing: Narratives and symbols have great power here in Jerusalem and go beyond reason to powerful emotion very quickly. Actions taken even for good reasons become flash points because they trigger a deeper struggle — the struggle between two peoples and the narratives that express their existential understandings of themselves and their place in the world. And this is what is at the heart of what’s been happening recently on the Temple Mount.

On July 14, two Israeli Arabs murdered two Israeli Druze police officers guarding the Temple Mount. As a result, the government decided to place metal detectors at the entrance to the area. The decision to physically put them in place just hours after the shooting prompted a heated reaction from Palestinians, who saw this as a breach of the status quo at their holy site. Protecting Israelis from those who would murder them makes sense, and the Israeli government has every right to take any action it deems necessary to protect its citizens. What is so sad and shortsighted is that the decision was implemented in a way that completely ignored how this action would be perceived and used by extreme elements within the Arab world.

And it was used: Extremists claimed that Jews were preventing Muslims from praying at Al-Aqsa and called on their faithful to protest in massive numbers. Clashes with police happened on a large scale hours after 15,000 Israelis marched for LGBT adoption rights in Tel Aviv.  

After incitement by Hamas and other radical groups, thousands of Palestinians clashed with police July 21 in the West Bank, and three Palestinians were killed. Later that night, a 19-year-old Palestinian climbed the fence of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank where three generations of the Salomons were celebrating Shabbat and the birth of a new baby. The suspect stabbed three people to death and wounded another, leaving a bloody scene in his wake.

In the same 24 hours, Israel moved from a place with an active debate that would be celebrated in any democracy about social policy to a place where one action that should have made sense tore apart society.

The scene of the Halamish attack. Photo courtesy of IDF

The deep divides between the secular and religious, Palestinians and Israelis, haves and have-nots, hawks and doves will not be bridged in our lifetimes — if ever. As a wise teacher told us on this trip, the oldest Hebrew texts talk about peace and justice in terms of seeking, not of achieving. We are not a people of arrival but of journey “toward.” If there is a people who can model for the world that humans can vigorously pursue ideals they know they never will see fully realized, it is the Jewish people. If there is any country that can make titanic struggles into creative new paradigms, it is Israel.

Our teacher also taught us that he does not view the glass as half full but believes it is important to celebrate that the opportunity exists to pour water into the glass. We break a glass at every Jewish wedding to symbolize what is still broken in our world.

Tisha b’Av reminds us of this so well. What I love about Israel and her people is that even with all that I’ve described, there is a spirit of innovation, creativity, lust for life and defiant hope that also is ingrained in our people. While biblical Israelite religion was destroyed when the Temple burned, Rabbinic Judaism was born at the same time. With every tragedy and act of brutality that happens here, something new and unanticipated is created.

May we have the continued strength to crush glass at our most joyful times so that we remain mindful of the shattered and broken world we live in, the world of conflicting and sometimes flammable confrontation with one another. May we also bless the fact that we are given a glass and the opportunity, as our wise teacher said, to pour water into it at all.

Amid all of the tension and all the misunderstanding and mistrust in Israel these days, our experience of sitting with the Salomons, people in such pain, as a sacred act is an example of the only solution — encountering one another as human beings. As someone very wise once said, “If our hearts must break, let them break open.”


Rabbi Amy Bernstein is senior rabbi at Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation of Pacific Palisades.

A man installs metal detectors at an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City July 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Bullshit detectors at the Temple Mount


Consider the following facts:

Last week, three Israelis — Muslim Arabs — opened fire at policemen in the Old City of Jerusalem, killing two. They then ran into the Temple Mount, where they were also killed.

The Temple Mount was closed for prayer for a day and a half and then reopened.

It was opened for Muslim worshipers on July 16, but restrictions on Jewish visits remain (on July 17, the first Jews were allowed to enter).

Israel acted quickly to assure all its Arab neighbors that the status quo in the Temple Mount is not going to change.

Now a question: Did Israel act reasonably and cautiously amid a deadly terrorist attack in one of the holiest places on earth?

And another question: Is it not reasonable to suggest, after the attack, that security measures at the Temple Mount should be tightened?

Of course it is reasonable. And that is what Israel proposes — or demands — to do. It installed metal detectors at the entrance to the site to prevent visitors and supposed worshippers from smuggling weapons into the place — as Israel suspects some did. Israel also intends to install cameras to monitor the Temple Mount compound.

For some reason, the new equipment “fanned criticism and protests that Israel had unilaterally changed the rules regarding religious worship and tourist visits at the complex.” The logic behind the criticism was simple: “This is a severe violation of the status quo,” said Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount.

Indeed – it is. A change for the better, a change that Muslim authorities should have embraced, unless there is something they want to hide from the cameras or a reason for them to evade the detectors. In other words, ask not why Israel insists on installing new security measures around the compound — ask why the Muslim authorities respond to these measures with such rage.

The answer to this question is also simple. The metal detectors are truly bullshit detectors. They signal that the Temple Mount is not just a holy compound of worship — it is also, and at times even more so, a political tool with which to hammer Israel. Three years ago, as I was writing about Netanyahu’s highly cautious policy in the Temple Mount, I explained that “the Palestinians keep building a campaign of lies around the Temple Mount — by denying any Jewish connection to the site and alleging that Israel seeks to dismantle the mosques on top of the Mount. This campaign has an intellectual component: to present the Jews of Israel as a colonizing force that has no historical, religious or cultural claim to the land. And it has a practical component: utilizing a made-up threat to the Mount to rally the Arab street against Israel.”

So now the metal detectors are the new tool by which to manufacture a made-up threat to the Mount. The ultimate goal of the detectors’ opponents is not to heighten security or prevent bloodshed, it is to delegitimize Israel’s rule of the Old City. Just listen to what the Palestinians say: “Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy head of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, told Palestinian media that the detectors were ‘illegitimate.’ He said security would only be ensured by preventing the entry of ‘settlers’ and removing ‘Israeli soldiers’ — Border Police officers stationed at the site — from the compound.”

There you have it. The issue is not security. Israel is the one concerned with security — but the other side is not. The other side sees the terror attack at the compound as an opportunity to further its claim against Israeli presence in Jerusalem. If you remove all the “settlers” — that is, all Israelis — and all “soldiers” — that is, Israel’s security forces — from the area, there will be security. Simply put: no Jews, no bloodshed.

This is a tricky situation to handle. Israel does not wish, nor intends to agree, to a proposed abandonment of the site most holy to Jews. Israel cannot let the Palestinians intimidate it by using Temple Mount strife as an impending threat over its head. On the other hand, the Mount could be a real fuse that ignites a great fire. And maybe this fire, focused on the Temple Mount, is exactly what Israel’s enemies hope to see. They want to prove to the world one of two things: that Israel does not control the Temple Mount — or that Israel should control Temple Mount.

In other words, the metal detectors are an opportunity for Israel’s enemies to make the point they are trying to make: If Israel removes the metal detectors after protestations and threats, that’s proof that it does not really control the compound. If Israel does not remove the detectors — and as a result violence ensues and blood is spilled — that’s proof that Israel should not control Temple Mount.

Thus, Israel proceeds with caution. For now.

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he gives a public speech at Krasinski Square in Warsaw, Poland July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

The lesson from Poland: Trump’s sentiments are Israel’s sentiments


Since the early days of the Trump administration, Israeli policy makers have been struggling with a tricky situation: on the one hand, Israel wants to have the closest possible relations with the new administration. This is not unique to Israel and Trump – for Israel, it is always a goal to have close relations with an incoming president. With some administrations it finds success, with others – the Obama administration is a recent example – its success is more limited.

On the other hand, the Trump administration has presented a different kind of challenge for several reasons. First – many of Israel’s most avid supporters, Jews and non-Jews, Democrats and hawkish Republicans, are highly suspicious of the new administration. Trump is president, but is also highly unpopular. Trump is president, but is also highly unpredictable. Trump is president, but becoming identified with Trump could pose a problem for Israel – as it will surely not help it retain its bipartisan status in America (assuming that’s still possible, at least to a certain degree).

The questions concerning Trump’s policy toward Israel are naturally a factor. But for a relatively long time, it was impossible in many ways to understand what the Trump administration’s policy is going to look like. The president was sending mixed signals, about his intent to be the greatest supporter of Israel, but also about his intent to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians – a process that could lead to conflicts and clashes. His visit to Israel was short and successful, but his policy was still unclear – another reason for Israeli caution.

It is reasonable to argue that some of this caution can be now abandoned. That is, because of the important speech made by Trump last week, in Poland. This was one of his best speeches (the bar isn’t especially high). This was also, finally, a speech that clarifies Trump’s ideology concerning world affairs. For Israel, this speech clarifies something that will surely complicate its relations with some groups of Americans, but is nevertheless reassuring: Trump thinks about world affairs in a way similar to that of the current Israeli coalition.

What did Trump say? The Economist defined Trump’s departure from precedent in the following way: “Earlier American administrations defined ‘the West’ with reference to values such as democracy, liberty and respect for human rights. Mr Trump and many of his advisers, including the speech’s authors, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, apparently see it as rooted in ethnicity, culture and religion.”

Let’s see some of the points Trump made.

He spoke positively about devotion to God – that is, about the power that a nation draws from having an active religious sentiment. Trump does not mock people who “cling to their religion,” but rather praises them.

He spoke about the values of the West – values that not all cultures and not all people share. In other words: Trump feels comfortable and confident about defending and speaking for specific, not necessarily universal, values.  “Today we’re in the West, and we have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what’s happening out there. They are threats. We will confront them. We will win. But they are threats.”

What are these threats? Trump pointed fingers at the sources of the threat: “We are confronted by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe…. We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory and their funding, and their networks, and any form of ideological support that they may have.” Oh, and he is not shy about calling this threat by name: “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Trump is blunt about the measures needed to confront the threats: “While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.”

But the key paragraph was this one – the paragraph in which Trump laid out a vision very much in line with Israel’s basic political instinct: What people of the West want is “individual freedom and sovereignty,” he said. He then added: “We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”

Here you have it: “bonds of culture, faith and tradition.” Some of Trump’s critics were quick to blame him of racism, tribalism, xenophobia, chauvinism (some writers liked his speech). Many of Israel’s critics hurl the same accusations as they consider its belief in bonds of “culture, faith and tradition” – Israel’s desire to retain its character as a Jewish State, its rejection of any formulation of a one-state solution, its insistence on demographic policies aimed at having a Jewish majority in the country. This of course does not make Trump’s future policies in the Middle east more predictable. But it does clarify a fact that many of Israel’s critics will gladly use against it: policies aside, Trump’s sentiments are Israel’s sentiments.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Jan. 10. Photo by Hadas Parush/FLASH90

Israel denies Palestinian Authority has stopped paying terrorists’ families, contradicting Tillerson


The Palestinian Authority has not stopped paying salaries to the families of terrorists jailed in Israel, according to Israeli officials, contradicting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The officials, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, said Wednesday that they have not seen a change in the P.A. policy. A day earlier, Tillerson told senators at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the policy had changed.

“I have not seen any indication that the Palestinian Authority stopped or intends to stop payments to terrorists and terrorists’ families,” Liberman told Israel Radio.

An unnamed Israeli diplomatic official told Israeli publications, “We are not aware of any change in the Palestinian Authority’s policy, and as far as we know they are still paying funds to terrorists’ families. The Palestinian Authority continues to praise, incite to and encourage terror through financial support.”

Issa Karaka, head of prisoner affairs for the Palestinian Authority, told Haaretz that the payments have been made this month and will be made next month.

“Almost every other household among the Palestinian people is the family of a prisoner or martyr,” he told Haaretz. “Anybody who thinks he can execute a decision like that is badly wrong.”

Tillerson in his remarks before the Senate committee, speaking about the Palestinians, said: “We have been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us. They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington, D.C., on May 3. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Tillerson: Palestinian Authority to stop paying terrorists’ families


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told senators that the Palestinian Authority will stop paying the families of terrorists who have attacked or killed Israelis.

“We have been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us,” Tillerson said on Capitol Hill Tuesday at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others.”

Tillerson noted that he and President Donald Trump both spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about the issue during recent meetings in Washington and Bethlehem.

The American Jewish Committee welcomed Tillerson’s remarks.

“If a firm U.S. stance actually leads to the end of this outrageous practice, as Secretary Tillerson said will be the case, AJC would be the first to applaud,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a statement.

According to Times of Israel, an Israeli general told parliament last month that the Palestinian Authority has paid out nearly $1.2 billion to terrorists and their families over the past four years.

What happens to basic decency during terror attacks coverage?


Let’s talk about decency.

 

Last week was the perfect example of the double-standards that dominate the global media – vowing to battle terror, but only when it’s outside Israel.

 

How can a Muslim extremist butchering innocent civilians be framed as a horrific terror attack when happening in Europe, and as a young teen being chased by police when happening in Israel?

 

To answer this question, we might need to go one step backwards, and ask ourselves how can a terror attack can even be called anything but what it actually is?

 

When terror strikes Israel, something strange happens to the global media. A terrorist becomes “a young teen,” his motive turns from hatred and extremism to “frustration from the ‘occupation’,” and he will never be neutralized and captured by heroic police officers, but “chased and killed by Israeli police.” Almost never will you read about the victims of the attack, because when it comes to Israel, the world turns upside down.

 

This severe issue of double standards was almost undetectable until Islamic terrorism started taking over Europe a few years ago. After years of Palestinian terror in Israel going almost unnoticed globally (as there was always a “justification” in the form of the “Israeli occupation and frustration,) we thought the tragedies that struck Europe would be a wake-up call to the world. These horrific attacks of innocent people outside of stadiums, on the street and in public transportation were supposed to be the tragic circumstances that will unite the world.

 

Sadly, it didn’t happen. The world, Israel included, united with Europe, but terror in Israel is still considered “justified.”

 

With every terror attack, we think “This is it. Now the Western World will unite against terror.” But sadly, Israelophobia gets in the way…


I recently stumbled upon a video of a lecture by journalist and public speaker Dennis Prager, at Oxford University. He was sitting in front of a room full of young men and women and asked the following question: “In the 1930’s was there a debate over the following proposition: that Great Britain is a greater threat to peace than Nazi Germany, or if Nazi Germany is a greater threat to peace than Great Britain?” Then, he said: “Nazi Germany was to Britain what Hamas is to Israel. Whether you agree with the Israeli policy or not – it is irrelevant.”

 

This is where international media lacks decency, and shows double standards and hypocrisy. Terror is terror is terror, no matter where. Justifications can always be found, because at the end of the day, news items are nothing but stories with carefully written plots. But just imagine what will happen if CNN or BBC will report an “armed teenager frustrated with Britain’s immigration policies was shot and killed by police after letting out his rage, resulting in 40 civilians killed.”

 

Can’t even imagine? This is what we see, to our deep sorrow, every time terror strikes us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media has been hijacked by ISIS – Silicon Valley must end terrorists’ online campaigns or governments will


It looks like that ISIS’ shrinking Caliphate may actually end in Iraq and Syria in the not too distant future. Tragically, that welcomed development however soon it occurs, won’t end the all-too-real threat of escalating terrorist attacks. New evidence indicates that the Manchester Concert homicide bomber met with ISIS operatives in Libya another failed state that could be the next terrorism central.

 So why not a coalition of the willing to drain that swamp and be done with it. Without question, as Israel has proven killing large number of terrorists can make a big difference. And the elimination of thousands of well-trained and battle-hardened terrorists- be they ISIS, al Qaeda, al Shabab, etc; remains a key factor in turning the tide in the war against terrorism. Denying the terrorist groups of  territory they control will rob the evil doers of the R&D centers and the cash to upgrade and expand their lethal crusades to bring down the world order.

But to be clear, ISIS, al Qaeda, and al Shabab terrorism will not end in a hail bullets.That’s because there is another battlefield in the global war that the terrorists are winning hands down:  The Internet. With only a few bumps in the road, terrorists, their global support networks, their sophisticated media, propaganda, and recruitment campaigns have taken full advantage of civilization’s most powerful marketing tools to create and control an romanticized Islamist narrative that has gained them a virtual but all-too-real army of supporters on every continent.

Each year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center publishes its Digital Terrorism and Hate Report  detailing the online terrorism tutorials, the tweets celebrating every “martyr” of every outrage, the glossy online magazines urging on the faithful to mow down, stab, shoot and blow up the infidels, crusaders(Christians) and sons of apes and pigs(Jews). We exposed the pressure cooker bomb recipe three months before it was used against innocents at The Boston Marathon. Over the last two years we warned social media companies that terrorists networks were embracing encryption, a tactic that has enabled suspects to go dark before they launched attacks. Some of the companies have refused to change their rules of usage and even refused to cooperate with authorities after atrocities were committed.

Our Digital Terrorism and Hate Report Card shows mixed grades in their commitment to degrade online capabilities of extremists. In the meantime, online recruitment for terrorist cells and lone wolves continued unabated. And sometimes, as in Stockholm, the perpetrators themselves  boast of their killings on social media.

After the House of Commons, Manchester and London Bridge atrocities, in the United Kingdom, beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May has thrown down the gauntlet. On the eve of this week’s national elections, she is vowing to regulate online activity.

Internet companies and purveyors of encryption apps have only themselves to blame, as some firms refused to cooperate with authorities even after hundreds of innocent victims were murdered in the US, UK, and France.

As body counts continue to mount, counter arguments against government intervention ring more hollow. There is no freedom of speech or right to privacy for anyone launching, aiding, or abetting mass murder and mayhem. Will such measures push the extremists to the dark side of the Internet? Perhaps. And while that wholesale move may make it a bit more challenging for intelligence and police agencies to follow ISIS and its ilk, it would rob the terrorists of their most effective marketing platforms.  We must put an end to the terrorists’ unchallenged sophisticated social media campaigns that continue to gain tens of thousands of young adherents in the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the US.  

To coopt similar action to 10 Downing Street by Capitol Hill, Social Media giants led by Facebook/Instagram, Google/YouTube, and Twitter, along with messaging Apps Telegram, WhatsApp, and Surespot, must immediately commit to unleash their unparalleled “big brother” and hi-tech prowess to degrade and eliminate the food chain of terrorism and hate from their midst.

If Silicon Valley fails to take effective action, terrorist onslaughts will continue and expand. And the era of the unfettered online golden goose could come to a screeching halt amidst Congressional hearings, legislation, and regulation.

Theresa May is right. Enough is enough!

Can you change the mind of a jihadist?


Of all the things I’ve read about the latest jihadist terror attack from London, one line in particular from Prime Minister Theresa May stood out.

Terrorism will only be defeated, she said, when we make young people “understand that our values, pluralistic British values, are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.”

But at the same time, May spoke about the need to crack down harder on those “young people” and the extremism that feeds them.

So, on the one hand, May wants to get tougher with the killers, while, on the other, convince them that British values are superior.

Maybe that represents, in a nutshell, the dilemma of fighting jihadist terrorism. To really win the war, you have to fight them physically and psychologically, but when you’re so busy with the physical, who’s got time for the psychological?

The focus in England right now clearly is on security, on preventing the next attack. Is there anyone on May’s team working on her goal of influencing values? I doubt it. The mood in the country is to stop the bad guys from killing — not to change their values.

But let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s imagine that, simultaneous to the crackdown, May would hire a marketing agency to create a campaign that might positively influence the bad guys. What would that look like?

One of the first things you learn in the advertising business is never to use the word “impossible.” There’s always the “best possible” answer to a problem, however unlikely it is that you can solve it. It’s about moving things forward — will the campaign make things a little better? Will it improve the odds of success?

Something else advertising teaches is to boil everything down to its essence — a few words, an image, a single thought. The goal is to light sparks, plant seeds, break the ice.

In our case, a key question is: How would you plant seeds of doubt in the mind of a jihadist who believes he’s doing God’s work when he slices the neck of a woman enjoying a beer in a British bar, or runs over pedestrians strolling happily on a Saturday night?

The easy thing to do would be to throw our hands up and give up. If someone thinks killing is holy, how do you counter that? But, like I said, this is a thought experiment. If the prime minister of England wants an ad campaign to influence the minds of religious extremists, what do you recommend?

In my mind, I see only one thing: We must fight holy with holy. They say killing is holy? We say life is holy.

The idea would be to rally leaders across all cultures and religions — especially Muslim leaders and preachers — to launch a “Life is Holy” campaign. The advertising would provide the sparks, but community leaders would preach the message on the ground.

A pervasive “Life is Holy” movement will, at the very least, put killers on notice that they no longer own holiness.

The campaign would reclaim holiness on behalf of life. We would promote the holiness of life with the same passion religious killers promote the holiness of killing. Instead of playing defense, life would play offense.

A “Life is Holy” message has some clear benefits: It’s true, believable, simple and passionate.

Of course, no marketing campaign can solve the problem of jihadist terrorism. There are too many jihadists who are moved by verses in the Quran that speak of killing the infidels, and too many preachers who feed this violence.

What marketing can do, however, is provide an aspirational vision. It can tell future generations of potential jihadists that real holiness lies in life, not killing. If enough Muslim preachers throughout the world reinforce this message in their sermons, we might begin to make a dent.

In her remarks, Prime Minister May spoke of cracking down on “safe spaces” online and in self-segregated Muslim communities that can harbor extremism.

If she is serious about doing this, she must infiltrate these extremist “safe spaces” with messages that promote the holiness of life — with billboards and memes, for example, that show the faces of people of all colors and religions as being worthy of holiness. Most critically, she must enlist local Muslim preachers to lead the way.

In sum, a “Life is Holy” campaign, if done right, can ignite an in-your-face pushback to the culture of death that infects the minds of jihadist killers. The “Life is Holy” message must be ubiquitous — it must be on T-shirts, street corners and social media. It must be loud enough to marginalize anyone who doesn’t support it.

In combination with a serious security crackdown, a pervasive “Life is Holy” movement will, at the very least, put killers on notice that they no longer own holiness.


David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (C) walks with the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during a welcoming ceremony upon Hamad al-Thani's arrival to attend the Summit of South American-Arab Countries, in Riyadh November 10, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo

Like Israel’s occupation, the Qatar crisis, London attack have old roots


I recently argued that the 50-year anniversary of the Six-Day War has little significance: “What was then is history. What is now is reality,” I wrote. “The fact that the Six-Day War is or isn’t the reason for some of the challenges Israel faces today hardly matters.”

I contended that what most of the world calls the “occupation” “has lasted for 50 years is not relevant. It was not ideal in the first 50 years, and it will still not be the end of the world after 500 years.”

The last week has provided me with proof of that. Terrorism in London makes it clear that focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will do little to remedy the grievances of radicalized Muslims around the world. Palestine is not the source of the problem; it is merely one manifestation of it. And a new Arab coalition trying to pressure and isolate Qatar because of its ties to Iran and to other problematic elements in the Middle East proves that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the main item on the Arab agenda.

Both events demonstrate why arguments such as “Fifty years is too long,” “The world will not tolerate another 50 years of occupation,” and “If Israel doesn’t end the occupation, it will become a binational state” have little merit.

Fifty years is a long time? Sure it is. It is a long time in which relative stability was maintained for Israelis and Palestinians — except when Palestinians turned to terrorism.

The world will not tolerate it? I’d pause before making such predictions. The world has showed a great ability to tolerate much more severe situations, for which there were much simpler remedies, for a very long time.

Will Israel become a binational state? Nonsense. Israel always can choose to withdraw from territory to prevent such a scenario. Why do it now? Why do it when the dilemma is not yet acute, and the price of such an action would be higher than the benefit?


The conflict between Qatar and other Arab countries is a complicated story. It also began much longer than 50 years ago. It also has ups and downs, but no end in sight.

There is Arab infighting involved — the Egyptians, for example, are furious because of Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood. There is the larger story of Sunni versus Shiite, with Qatar playing the odd country out by having good relations with Shiite Iran. And while the United States, on the one hand, has military infrastructure in Qatar, it also encourages the Sunni states’ anti-Iran alliance.

There is the impact on other conflicts in the region, too. For example, there are questions about the impact of this strife on Hamas in Gaza, which relies heavily on Qatari support. There is the story of Turkey, another country that is trying to have it both ways and is not trying to mediate between the Qataris and the other Arab countries. Finally, there is Iran and its ability to take advantage of the situation (or lose as a result of it, depending on what happens next).

This is not the first crisis between Qatar and its Arab neighbors, but this one feels somewhat different, more severe. “The other Gulf leaders’ patience with Doha’s sometimes-maverick regional policies may have finally snapped,” wrote Kristian Coates Ulrichsen in The Atlantic.

That’s exactly what this looks like. It also looks like a crisis that was born in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s summit in Riyadh. So a summit that seemed successful and reassuring two weeks ago could end up igniting an unforeseen crisis of great consequences.

Trump will once again need to address a situation that his administration is of (at least) two minds about. The administration showed a tendency to partner with a Saudi-Egyptian led coalition against Iran, but it has interests in Qatar that it does not want to lose. Ideally, the U.S. will be able to navigate these treacherous waters and come out dry. But if the Saudis and the Egyptians insist on upping the ante, and force Qatar’s hand, this could become impossible.


Qatari and Saudi presence are both visible — highly visible — in London. Arab infighting is not something that Britain and other countries with large communities of Muslims, some of which are radicalized, can ignore.

What was the motivation behind the London attack? It is hard to define an exact motivation. Radicalized Muslims attack to wreak havoc. Election time provides them with an opportunity to make their attacks of greater consequence.

It is clear that Britain, like other countries in Europe, has a problem integrating some communities of Muslims. There are Muslims succeeding and excelling in Britain. But there are also too many who do not succeed, nor excel, nor appreciate British values and the great life they can have in this country.

How old is this problem? Its roots are surely more than 50 years old. Look how the numbers and percentages of Muslims in Britain jumped from 1961 to 1971 to 1981. From 50,000, to 250,000, to 500,000.

These attackers are influenced by outside forces in Pakistan, Syria, Iran and Libya, and they are financially supported by outside forces, as well. The groups they associate with have ties to governments, or to emissaries who speak for governments. Many of these governments talk out of both sides of their mouths. When they meet with Trump, they oppose terrorism. When Trump is back in Washington, they make sure to keep some channels to terror groups open.

This is just one fact that makes the fight against terrorism in London complicated. There also is the fact that many of the terrorists are home-grown Brits. There is the fact that some of the neighborhoods where these terrorist grew up are impassable to regular policing. Yes, there is also “political correctness,” as Trump implied in his ill-advised tweets lambasting the mayor of London for an innocent remark. But in truth, political correctness is fast disappearing in Europe’s fight against home-grown terrorism — and with every attack it will further erode.

Apparently, when people feel endangered, the layer of political correctness proves thin.


Now think again about Israel and the Palestinians. Political correctness is not an issue for us — we are experienced enough in fighting terrorism to be able to generally avoid this illness.

Complications are many. We know this. We don’t expect the conflict between Qatar and the Saudis to be resolved very soon, and we also don’t expect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to end only because a long time has passed.

As for remedies, we know that actions often have unintended or unexpected consequences. President Trump could not foresee the impact of his Riyadh visit. He ought to remember that as he attempts to move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward.

President Donald Trump at the White House on June 1. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Trump’s post-London attack tweets are chilling — and counter-productive


In popular myth, South Florida was ground zero of the Great Email Explosion of 2008.

That was the year your great-uncle or long-lost cousin couldn’t resist passing on rumors, hoaxes and conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, the true causes of 9/11 or the insidious nature of Islam. It wasn’t the invention of Fake News, but it provided the template for how social media users in 2016 would ignore obvious red flags to pass on bogus stories that confirmed their worldviews.

What happened to that elderly snow bird, who interrupted his nonstop viewing of Fox News only to fire off angry messages and unfounded rumors about The Other? Apparently, we elected him president.

In the hours after Saturday night’s terrorist attack in London, the president sent off a series of tweets that transformed the kind of event that usually unites the West in grief and determination into yet another episode of Trump Vs. World.

Somewhere between citing an early Drudge Report link on the London Bridge killings and calling out London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, the president used the killings to defend his travel ban, toss scorn on gun control and decry political correctness. It was a typical week of his presidential campaign boiled down to a few hours of 140-character messages.

“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough,” tweeted a president whose administration is woefully understaffed and whose top law enforcement agency lacks a director. “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”

This came even before he extended condolences to the victims of the London attack or offered America’s support to Britain and its leaders: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”

That out of the way, it was back to politicizing the attacks: “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse.”

It’s not clear what Trump had in mind other than the court case over his attempt to ban travelers from several predominately Muslim countries. That’s the problem with Twitter and, increasingly, the Trump administration: Even on points where both sides ostensibly agree — protecting citizens from terror — the president governs by slogans, not policy. Some might argue that is a good thing: If his policy-making were as impulsive as his tweeting, who knows what kind of global mischief or military disaster he might lead the country into.

But like those emails from Florida, Trump’s tweets derail serious policy discussion. The talking heads line up on cable news, the editorials get written, and we’re no closer than we were before to understanding what really needs to be done in times of stability or crisis. Instead we talk about Trump. He isn’t acting presidential! He’s using disaster to score cheap political points! He’s still campaigning!

This sounds like a partisan gripe, although for the life of me I can’t figure out which side wins when Trump gets into Cranky Grandpa mode. Even his supporters argue that the daily crises of his own making are distracting from his broader agenda.

Perhaps most disturbing of all his tweets over the weekend was his unfounded but completely characteristic attack on Khan, by all accounts a popular mayor and real mensch. “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” Trump tweeted Sunday morning, accusing Khan of being blase in the face of the attacks.

Perhaps Trump misunderstood what Khan had really said. The mayor, soon after the attack, told the BBC that he was “appalled and furious that these cowardly terrorists would target” innocent civilians. He vowed that “we will never let them win, nor will we allow them to cower our city.”

He then assured London residents who would see increased police presence around the city. “No reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, all of us, need to do is make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be,” he said. “I’m reassured that we are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city in the world, but we always evolve and review ways to make sure that we remain as safe as we possibly can.”

In other words, “Keep calm and carry on.” If this were World War II, Trump might have accused Churchill of cowardice.

Except Churchill wasn’t a Muslim. There is no reason to give Trump the benefit of the doubt on this one. Remember the way he fired back at another Khan during the Democratic National Convention last year. When Khizr Khan, whose son died fighting for the United States in Iraq, criticized Trump’s policies and statements about Muslims, the then-candidate immediately played the religion card. Instead of defending his own policies or ignoring the remarks, Trump suggested that the dead soldier’s mother had not “been allowed” to speak at the convention, presumably for religious reasons. It was a chilling echo of a mindset that Jews find all too familiar, one that slots minorities, religious people and other “ethnics” into neat, defining categories. Muslim mom? Oppressed. A Muslim mayor? He must be soft on Islamist terror.

When Trump insists that we “must stop being politically correct,” he is defending this discredited worldview. Leaders from Paris to London to Washington, D.C. are aware that there is a radical Islam problem, and say so. The issue is not identifying the problem by name, but coming up with real-world solutions to a vicious offshoot of a vast religion. Critics of the travel ban aren’t pro-terrorism; in fact, many believe it is counterproductive precisely because it plays into ISIS’s notion of a world that hates Islam.

It has been tempting to dismiss Trump’s more Archie Bunkerish tendencies as a generational thing, just as we joked about those “Florida” emails as the work of retirees with too much time on their hands and too much Fox on their televisions. But a president has a responsibility to rise above petty prejudices and knee-jerk reactions and act — to use a by now tired word — presidential. That’s all the Jewish community was asking for during the spate of JCC bomb hoaxes and the weird Holocaust memorial contretemps, and what so many Americans are seeking in the face of the horrors in England, France and Portland, Oregon.

It’s not too much to ask for.

Police attend to a terrorist attack near London Bridge on June 3. Photo by Neil Hall/Reuters

British chief rabbi urges tolerance in face of London Bridge attack


British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis called on his countrymen to remain committed to the values of peace and tolerance in the wake of a terror attack in London that left at least seven people dead.

A white van rammed into pedestrians on London Bridge Saturday night. Three men reportedly exited the van and began stabbing the bystanders on the bridge and in Borough Market near the bridge. The attackers were shot and killed by police.

“In the wake of yet another attack, of more loss of life and of more families devastated by terror, every one of us will once again feel the now too familiar sense of horror and helplessness. After Westminster and Manchester we stood together defiant. Yet it seems the terrorists believe that where they have previously failed to poison our communities, with their destructive ideology of hatred and prejudice, they can succeed with still more bloodshed and murder. But we must not let them,” Mirvis said in a statement on his Facebook page.

“We will not be cowed or intimidated nor will we allow our commitment to the values of peace and tolerance to be diminished. In the face of every attack, however devastating, we must continue to cleave ever closer to these values because ultimately they are what will defeat the evil of terror,” he continued.

"In the wake of yet another attack, of more loss of life and of more families devastated by terror, every one of us will…

Posted by Chief Rabbi Mirvis on Saturday, June 3, 2017

London Metropolitan Police have labeled the van and knife attacks “terrorist incidents.” The stabbers were wearing fake explosive vests, police said.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC the stabbers shouted, “This is for Allah,” as they attacked.

The head of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Gillian Merron, in a statementcondemned the attack and praised the emergency services who came to the aid of the injured. “People of all faiths and none must come together to defeat this evil,” she said

The European Jewish Congress expressed “horror and sadness” over the attack.

“Unfortunately, once again London has been hit at its very center by a barbarous and repugnant terrorist killing spree. This strike, timed for just before the general elections, was meant to cower and instill fear in a great democracy,” Moshe Kantor, president of the EJC, said in a statement.

“However, we saw the resilience of the British people last night and we know it will continue as the government and police will do its utmost to find those behind these slayings.”

It is the third terror attack in the United Kingdom in as many months. In March, a car ramming and knife attack in Westminster left five people dead, and two weeks ago a bombing outside of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester killed 22 people, including young fans.

A benefit concert by Grande and several heavy-hitting music stars scheduled for Sunday night in Manchester will go on “with greater purpose. After the events last night in London, and those in Manchester just two weeks ago, we feel a sense of responsibility to honor those lost, injured, and affected,” Grande’s manager, Scooter Braun, said Sunday morning in a statement.

“We plan to honor them with courage, bravery, and defiance in the face of fear. Today’s One Love Manchester benefit concert will not only continue, but will do so with greater purpose. We must not be afraid and in tribute to all those affected here and around the world, we will bring our voices together and sing loudly. “

Prayers for Manchester


Last week I flew to London with my son, where we spent a day together, then he left on a wonderful adventure. He is spending 6 days on a whirlwind European trip. It freaks me out of course, because the world is scary, but I am happy for him. He is travelling alone so he can make his own schedule, see what he wants, and do what he wants, when he wants.  I am thrilled he is brave, and very proud he gets that quality from me.

Following the attack this week in Manchester, I feel frightened all the time. I walked to the market in London today and was so nervous I went home before making it there. I watched kids on scooters, enjoying a sunny London day, and I wanted them to all go home and stay safe. It is horrible to be on edge like this. I worry about my son being on his own, but am thankful he’s not here, where we are on a high terror alert.

Last time I was in London there was an attack on Westminster Bridge, and now innocent children have been murdered in Manchester. My heart is broken and I want to look away, but find myself unable to turn off the news. I am on edge, which makes me angry. The attack in Manchester makes me really angry. The targeting of children is beyond horrific and my heart breaks for the families who have been touched by hatred in this way.

From the mothers who were killed while waiting to pick their kids, and the kids who saved up money to see their favorite singer, I am unable to process what it was like for them. The world is dark and I am seeing it from a scarier perspective in London. There are police and armed guards everywhere, which is comforting, but they are in the same danger as those of us they protect. How can we feel safe when these attacks come with an element of surprise?

We are living in a time of great unknown and it can be paralyzing. I want to empower myself to be brave and not let terrorism dictate how I live my life, but I am a mother and so it does. My son has been checking in every few hours while he is on holiday, and it is keeping me sane. In the end he does it as much for his sake as mine. He is worried about me being in London when there is so much going on. The communication matters.

My boy will join me in London on Saturday and we will spend another few days in Europe together before returning to Los Angeles. It will be wonderful to be in London with him as this is my favorite city and he is my favorite person. We will be cautious, and we will be together. Life goes on, but we must never forget these attacks and never forget the souls who were lost. To the amazing people of Manchester, my prayers go out to you. I am holding you close and keeping the faith.

Manchester, Israel


Suicide Terror Attack Opens Painful Wounds

A Manchester suicide bomb attack on young people leaving a concert and memories of the what Israelis endured for years flood into my mind. The faces of the young people murdered at the Dolphinarium Disco, the Sbarro Cafe, on city buses, and at urban malls across the country flood back into view.

The bloodshed reawakens the trauma from all those years ago.

From 2001-2005, at least 136 suicide attacks were launched against Israel. During the Palestinian Al-Aqsa Intifada, Sept. 2000 – Dec. 2005, a total of 1,100 Israelis were killed and many thousands were injured, paralyzed, and maimed.

I don’t know how Britain will respond to the latest attack terror against innocent Brits.

I don’t know how Britain will respond to the faces of 22 dead concertgoers who had their entire lives in front of them, who are going to be buried this week.

I don’t know how Britain will respond to the dozens of injured, who will have to spend years rebuilding their lives, and only some who will regain full use of their bodies.

However, the next time a British politician of journalist condemns Israel’s response to Palestinian terrorism I ask all of us to remind these people of the names and stories off all those killed, injured and maimed in Manchester.

May God comfort those in mourning and heal the sick and take revenge on those that perpetrated this horror.

Police officers standing in front of the Manchester Arena in England, where a suspected suicide bomber killed at least 22 people on May 23. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Rooting out extremism is an evolving battle


Less than a week before the May 22 attack at a concert in Manchester, England, I returned from a 10-day fact-finding trip to Europe on countering violent extremism.  

It is tragic that the trip, organized by the U.S. State Department, proved to be so timely. But I gained insights that helped me process and confront the all-too-frequent tragedies like Manchester. Despite countries’ differences in approaches, the core takeaways were consistent:  

1. “You can’t investigate your way out of this.” — A representative of New Scotland Yard SO15 (the London Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command)

Using only a criminal lens — surveillance, investigation, disruption, prosecution, etc. — limits the success of law enforcement in identifying threats. Our delegation heard from law enforcement and government officials across the spectrum that the most important tool in their kit is the trust of those communities most vulnerable to extremism.

Community-based organizations are essential to this strategy. The more robust the civic fabric, the greater the sense of social cohesion; the more people see themselves as having a stake and a voice in society, the less rationale there is for attacking the system. Communities most vulnerable are not blind to the problem in their midst. When engaged and supported as partners (not potential threats), they often will identify ways to address the problems with a greater cultural literacy and legitimacy than any government or law enforcement official could ever bring.

2. “Safeguarding against extremism is no different than safeguarding against drugs, gangs and sex trafficking. It’s out there and we want you to be able to protect yourselves from it.”— Prevent instructor to British students

Messaging matters. Great Britain’s Prevent program — a centralized governmental effort to safeguard against violent extremism — still suffers from a faulty launch that undermined its effectiveness. Many people perceived its focus to be solely on the Muslim community and treating the community as criminals in waiting.

By shifting to a message of safeguarding people vulnerable to recruitment by extremists and making it clear the program addresses all forms of extremism, Britain is just now starting to repair the perception and increase trust, though one nonprofit leader articulated concerns that the “horse has already left the barn” and that the program always will be tainted by the bad branding of its faulty launch.

Community leaders and parents need to know that when they have concerns about their kids or friends radicalizing, they will be given the intervention and help they need. The collaboration of mental health professionals, schools, faith communities and other community-based organizations are essential partners in identifying people who are at risk of or already on the path to radicalizing. Understanding this kind of violence as a public health issue can help engage a broader network of partners in the fight.

3. “Targeting Muslims is counterproductive. You have to identify extremist behavior.”  — Horace Frank, Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief of counterterrorism

Focusing exclusively on Muslims undermines the relationships needed in the Muslim community to identify and uproot real ISIS-inspired threats. It also ignores a rising statistical threat from extremist right-wing nationalists.

Nearly 20 percent of referrals for suspicious behavior in England are for right-wing extremism. While one might think that’s because the problem is grossly over-reported, about 10 percent of those serving time in prison for terrorism-related charges are radical right-wing nationalists.

In our American context, Muslim organizations correctly claim they are more likely to be on the receiving end of a violent hate crime than guilty of committing one. When law enforcement is present to protect minorities, it builds trust in those communities.

Like many Jewish institutions in Los Angeles, some local mosques received threats of violence in recent months. Those threats against the mosques were credible. Police arrested an Agoura Hills man with an arsenal of weapons and a plan to attack. The way that law enforcement stood with Muslim community leaders in that moment reflected the deep relationship-building that has happened for years at the local level.

Unfortunately, the rhetoric at the national level has framed violent extremism as an exclusively Muslim problem. It undermines the extraordinary work that has happened locally between Muslim leaders and law enforcement. Many Muslim organizations have built sophisticated programs to safeguard their communities from ISIS-inspired extremism.

But some are now having second thoughts about moving forward with these programs or are considering outright rejection of federal funds to support their work. This is not because they no longer think it is needed. They fear the money will come with problematic strings attached or that it may undermine their internal legitimacy for collaborating with those who amplify anti-Muslim sentiment. Local trust-building can go only so far in the midst of a toxic national conversation.

4. Despite our best efforts, governments now treat acts of violent extremism as a question of when, not whether, they will happen.  

Part of the holistic approach to this work also includes effective disaster response that can help contain the impact and lessen the casualties. In the aftermath of Manchester, there will be new lessons learned in this ever-evolving battle.

I also returned from the delegation with three lessons on how the Jewish community can be on the front lines of safeguarding against extremism.

First, our community must become more nuanced in our relationship with the Muslim community. The more integrated the Muslim community is in America, the less ISIS-inspired extremism can take hold here. We isolate and reject mainstream Muslim leaders at our own peril. Undermining these leaders empowers extremists who think ISIS is fundamentally right about the incompatibility of Islam and democracy. If you care about ISIS-inspired terrorism, then you also should care about fending off Islamophobia. We can and should disagree fiercely with our Muslim counterparts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And we should not be afraid to call out when we see rhetoric cross the line into anti-Semitism. But isolation and exclusion feed the narrative of extremists. This is not merely a progressive talking point — it is a best practice from among the most experienced law enforcement professionals and government officials in the world.

Second, language matters. We must apply consistent rhetoric when speaking about various forms of extremism. The shooter at the AME Church in Charleston, S.C., and the thwarted attacker on the Los Angeles mosques are extremists just as much as the shooters in San Bernardino.

As part of this strategy of thoughtful language, I now will refrain from using the term Islamism when referring to extremism that emerges cloaked in religious garb. While this term seeks to differentiate ISIS and al-Qaida from Islam proper, it still retains the association that violence is inherent to Islam. I take my cue from a former Department of Homeland Security employee who uses the terminology “ISIS-inspired” or “al-Qaida-inspired” to refer to this kind of extremism. It ensures both that we avoid vilifying Islam and that we make it harder for vulnerable Muslim kids to see ISIS as a legitimate expression of Islam.  

Third, the great work of Jewish organizations in mental health, social services, refugee assistance and interfaith collaboration — from Jewish Family Service to NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change to HIAS — are going to be on the front lines of safeguarding against extremism in American society. They do this by serving the vulnerable in our midst, spotting potential issues before they become credible threats, and by modeling for other minority communities with less developed infrastructures.  

The Los Angeles mayor’s office frames this work as “building healthy communities.” The Jewish community has tremendous experience and expertise to contribute on this front. This week has taught us we have no choice but to work even harder toward our goal. 

Emergency responders arriving at the Manchester Arena following a bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert on May 22. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

In Manchester, Jews have been preparing for an attack for years


Britain’s bloodiest terrorist attack in over a decade occurred Monday just two miles from Rabbi Yisroel Cohen’s synagogue.

Yet one day after the deadly bombing in Manchester, Cohen told JTA he has no intention of changing security arrangements at his congregation.

In fact Cohen, a Chabad emissary who works in a Jewish enclave in the northern part of the city surrounded by a heavily Muslim area, said there is little room for improving security across his tight-knit community.

After all, the Jewish community in Manchester — one of the U.K.’s fastest-growing spots thanks to an influx of immigrants and young couples seeking alternatives to pricey London — has been on its highest alert since long before the explosion that killed 22 people and wounded 50 at an Ariana Grande concert. On Tuesday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the act.

“Well, the radio equipment is working, the residents have been briefed, police are patrolling, security professionals from the Jewish community have been in place since the attacks in Belgium” last year, Cohen said when asked about security. “There is only so much you can do – except pray.”

On Kings Road, a busy street of the heavily Jewish borough of Prestwich, residents keep an eye out for strangers. Any abnormal behavior – particularly photography or the gathering of information — quickly invites polite but firm inquiries by both passers-by as well as shopkeepers who cater to the local population of haredi and modern Orthodox Jews.

The vigilance in Jewish Manchester owes much of its preparation and training to the local police, the Community Security Trust organization and other groups. But it is also born of circumstance: Manchester’s some 30,000 Jews are concentrated in a relatively small area. This makes them an easy target, but it also means that the community’s institutions are easier to protect and vigilance is easier to instill.

While there are also concentrations of Jews in North London, in Manchester — a city of 2.5 million, where 15.8 percent of the population is Muslim — there is added tension because the Jewish and Muslim communities live in close proximity. Kings Road, for example, is sandwiched between the Judaica World bookstore on its western end and the Masjid Bilal mosque on its eastern one.

This juxtaposition in recent years has generated some friction, including in the harassment of Jews on the street and the occasional violent incident.

At least one more premeditated plan to attack Manchester Jews was uncovered and foiled five years ago. In 2012, a British judge imprisoned a Muslim couple, Mohammed Sajid  and Shasta Khan, for seven years for gathering intelligence on Manchester Jews for an attack.

 

“That incident came at a time of reassessment about the threat to Jews in Manchester, and it was one of the reasons that led to a complete overhaul,” Cohen said.

“So today, we in the Jewish community are perhaps less surprised than others at what happened,” the rabbi added, though he also said that Mancunian Jews are “shocked at the horror” witnessed at the concert.

Paul Harris, editor of the city’s Jewish Telegraph weekly, told JTA he generally agrees that Manchester’s Jewish community is well prepared to deal with any emergency or fallout thereof, but he also flagged one weak point: On evenings and afternoons, observant Jews in the city congregate outside synagogue — a habit that makes them an easy target and which, for that reason, has largely been abandoned in at-risk communities in France and beyond.

“Maybe that will change now,” Harris said.

In a statement Tuesday following a suspect’s arrest, Prime Minister Theresa May said the bombing was a “callous terrorist attack” that targeted “defenseless young people.” Police believe a homemade explosive vest was detonated by a suicide bomber who may or may not have been working alone.

The explosion ripped through the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena at 10:30 p.m. after Grande, a 23-year-old pop singer from the United States, had already left the stage. At least 12 of the 22 killed in the attack were children younger than 16. News of the explosion sent worried parents to the arena, where children, teenagers and young adults streamed out of the main exit in a state of panic.

Cohen said that Chabad was not aware of Jewish fatalities in the attack.

The attack happened a little over two weeks before the June 8 general election in which hardliner Theresa May from the Conservative Party is running against Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party. The attack may further increase May’s lead in the polls on Corbyn, a left-leaning promoter of outreach to Muslims who has called Hezbollah and Hamas his friends.

Last year Corbyn — amid intense criticism in the media and from members of his own party for his perceived failures in curbing expressions of anti-Semitism within Labour’s ranks — said he regretted expressing affection to the two Islamist terror groups. Following the attack Monday, all parties agreed to suspend campaigning for three days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint news conference Tuesday in Jerusalem with President Donald Trump, who was visiting Israel, referenced the attack in criticizing incitement to terrorism by the Palestinian Authority under its president, Mahmoud Abbas.

“President Abbas condemned the horrific attack in Manchester,” Netanyahu said while standing next to Trump. “Well, I hope this heralds a real change, because if the attacker had been Palestinian and the victims had been Israeli children, the suicide bomber’s family would have received a stipend from the Palestinian Authority. That’s Palestinian law. That law must be changed.”

Speaking in Bethlehem, Trump joined other world leaders who condemned the attack.

“I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. I will call them losers,” he said.

Back in Manchester, Rabbi Shneur Cohen of the Chabad Manchester Center City organized a food and drinks distribution to police officers who were stationed outside the arena where the attack took place.

“We are Manchester, we stand together,” Cohen told reporters at the scene.

But Harris, the Jewish Telegraph editor, said that despite such gestures, “there is definitely a silence, a shocked silence” in the city following the attack.

President Donald Trump shaking hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint news conference in Bethlehem, in the West Bank on May 23. Photo by Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Meeting with Abbas, Trump calls Manchester attackers ‘evil losers’


Meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, Donald Trump condemned those behind the deadly bombing in Manchester, England, the night before as “evil losers.”

“So many young beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term,” Trump said in a joint news conference with Abbas on the second day of the U.S. president’s two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank. “They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers because that’s what they are.”

At least 22 people were killed as they exited a concert by the American pop star Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena. Police said the attack was carried out by a lone suspect who died in the explosion. The Islamic State has taken responsibility.

Abbas also expressed his “warm condolences” to the victims of the attack and to the British people.

Discussing his talks with Abbas, Trump spoke of achieving a peace deal, saying “I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal. President Abbas assures me he is ready to work toward that goal in good faith, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised the same. I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace.”

On Monday, Trump met with Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israeli prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, where he also spoke of possibilities for recharging the peace process.

“There are many things that can happen now that could never have happened before,” Trump said during the visit. “We must seize them together. We must take advantage of the situation.”

In his appearance with Abbas, Trump made what many took as a reference to Palestinian payments to the families of terrorists. The practice of paying “martyrs” and their families dates back decades and survived the Oslo peace process launched in 1993.

“Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” Trump said.

He also called for zero tolerance for terror.

“We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single unified voice,” the U.S. leader said.

In his remarks, Abbas said he has no problem with Judaism. He said the Palestinians’ “fundamental problem is with occupation and settlements and the failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine as we recognize it.”

Abbas said the Palestinians “are committed to working with [Trump] to reach a historic peace deal between us and Israel.”

Police officers standing in front of the Manchester Arena in England, where a suspected suicide bomber killed at least 22 people on May 23. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

22 killed in suspected terror attack at Ariana Grande concert in England


At least 22 people were killed in a suspected terrorist attack during a concert in northern England by the American pop star Ariana Grande.

Grande was not hurt in the explosion Monday night at the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena, which Prime Minister Theresa May said was likely a terrorist attack, The Guardian reported. British authorities said the explosion may have come from an explosive vest detonated in the crowd by a suicide bomber.

On Tuesday, the Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Many of the dozens wounded in the attack were teenagers and young adults, according to Reuters. Worried parents began arriving at the arena in search of their loved ones.

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since 2005 bombings in London left 52 people dead.

The European Jewish Congress condemned the “appalling and barbaric terrorist attack” in a statement issued hours after the bombing, which occurred as the concert was nearing its end.

“This horrific attack demonstrates once again that the enemies of civilization have no boundaries,” said Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the EJC. “This was a concert attended by mostly youth and children and is a ghastly reminder that terrorism sees all of us as potential targets, regardless of age, religion, nationality or background.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement condemned the attack and sent condolences to the families of the victims.

“Terrorism is a global threat and the enlightened countries must work together to defeat it everywhere,” he said.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder condemned the attack as “despicable and horrendous.”

“The world stands united in its resolve to confront and defeat the scourge of terrorism,” he said in a statement. “Our liberties and our way of life shall triumph.”

Grande, 23, wrote on Twitter that she was “broken” and “so sorry.” The singer grew up Catholic but left the faith over the treatment of homosexuals in favor of Kabbalah Jewish studies that in 2014 she said “changed her life.”

The attack comes about two weeks before the United Kingdom’s general election in which May, a hard-liner from the center-right Conservative Party, is running against the left-wing Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, who supports boycotting Israeli settlements and is widely perceived as having tried to promote better relations and understanding between mainstream British parties and groups associated with radical Islam.

May called an early election following the resignation last year of David Cameron, also a Conservative, who stepped down from the prime minister’s post following a referendum he called in which a majority of voters rejected his position that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union. Immigration by Muslims and other foreigners played a central role in the debate about whether the kingdom should leave or remain within the bloc it helped establish in the 1970s.

A screen capture from a recent Hamza Bin Laden video.

Osama bin Laden’s son calls for attacks on Jewish targets


A son of Osama bin Laden called on Muslims and followers of al-Qaida to carry out attacks on Jewish targets around the world.

In a 10-minute video released over the weekend, Hamza bin Laden urges Muslims in “America, the West and occupied Palestine” to carry out the attacks where they are.

The video includes clips of terrorist attacks that have been perpetrated around the world, including in Israel.

Bin Laden opines that it is not necessary, or even preferable, to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State. “Know that inflicting punishment on Jews and crusaders where you are present is more vexing and severe for the enemy,” he says.

American and NATO targets are appropriate where there are no Jewish targets, he says.

Police at the scene where a young British woman was killed in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on April 14. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

British woman in her 20s killed in Jerusalem stabbing attack; Palestinian man held


A British woman in her 20s studying in Israel was stabbed to death in Jerusalem allegedly by a Palestinian.

The woman, named by Israel’s envoy to the United Kingdom as Hannah Bladon, died following the Friday attack. She had been taken to the hospital in critical condition after suffering multiple stab wounds aboard the city’s light rail, Israel Radio reported. Police said she was attacked by a 57-year-old man from eastern Jerusalem’s Ras al Amud neighborhood.

Yoram Halevi, commander of the Jerusalem District of the Israel Police, told the radio station that the suspect is mentally ill and has a criminal record for domestic violence. He was apprehended at the scene.

“We know he recently tried to commit suicide,” Halevi said.

Israel’s envoy to the U.K., Marg Regev, condemned the attack on Twitter.

My thoughts are with the family and friends of UK student Hannah Bladon, who was murdered in a senseless act of terror in Jerusalem today.

Following the attack, police increased security in and around the light rail, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld wrote on Twitter.

jThe victim is a citizen of the United Kingdom studying in Israel, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The number of recorded terrorist attacks by Palestinians on Israelis increased last month by 15 percent from the previous month to 119 incidents, the Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet, said in its monthly report published earlier this week. No one was killed; six were injured.

The 20 attacks recorded in Jerusalem in March constitute a 30 percent increase over the 14 there in February.

A train carriage damaged from an explosion at Tekhnologicheskiy institut metro station in St. Petersburg, Russia, on April 3. Photo by Mikhail Ognev/Fontanka.ru

Israel sends condolences, support to Russia following deadly subway bombing


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin after at least 10 people were killed in a bombing attack on a St. Petersburg subway.

“On behalf of the Government of Israel, I send condolences to President Putin and to the families of those who were murdered following today’s bombing on the St. Petersburg subway,” Netanyahu wrote Monday in a statement hours after the afternoon blast, which also injured dozens more. “The citizens of Israel stand alongside the Russian people at this difficult time.”

The homemade bomb filled with shrapnel detonated in a moving subway car after Putin had arrived in his hometown for a visit. A more powerful bomb was discovered later at a nearby train station and defused.

The attack shut down the entire subway system in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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