02/11 Links Pt2: B’Tselem’s casualty figures based on phone interviews; Haaretz’s Shrine to Terrorists
The UN relies mainly for information on casualties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on the NGO Protection Cluster framework which in turn is linked to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the (OCHA-OPT). The OCHA-OPT has in turn appointed three NGOs to provide data on Palestinian casualties: The Israel based B’Tselem and Gaza based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), both of which rely heavily on information from the Hamas Ministry of Health in Gaza.
B’Tselem dominates the Palestinian casualty information scene and one should expect that with its international funding and extensive world wide contacts, this organization would observe a rigid standard to maintain credibility in its data collection methodology. Sadly, the opposite is the case. Unfortunately B’Tselem provides the UN and the world with much unverified, inaccurate information.
For example during the recent Gaza conflict B’Tselem relied largely on telephone interviews to provide information that it claims to be reliable. Believe it or not! B’Tselem’s web site declares without embarrassment:
Honest Reporting: Casualties of War
“Israeli officials confirmed that the structure was bombed in airstrikes last week.
The authorities insisted that the building, a weapons storage facility, was a legitimate target and explained that they had conducted detailed surveillance to make sure that no hostages were seen going in or out. But a senior Israeli official who requested anonymity to discuss classified information acknowledged that they had not been able to survey the building around the clock.”
When incidents such as the one above are reported, they lead to international condemnations of Israel, accusations of war crimes, and global calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. It does not seem to matter that Israel takes great pains to minimize the chances of civilian casualties, often exposing its soldiers to greater risk and reducing the chances of an effective surprise attack. Nor do Israeli claims that certain targets are legitimate matter in the court of global opinion. But we have gotten used to a knee-jerk reaction to condemn Israel no matter what the circumstances.
What is astounding though, is the difference in the reaction when someone else’s finger is on the trigger.
The above excerpt appeared in a New York Times article.
I made one change, however.
The original article was about an airstrike by the anti-ISIS coalition. I just took the word “American” out and substituted “Israeli.”
Radical leftist newspaper Haaretz has been embroiled in controversy before, but a new report revealed by the famous Israeli Zionist rapper Yoav Eliasi, better known by his stage name Hatzel, raises serious question marks.
“The following matter left me simply in shock (as much as it is possible to still be shocked by the paper Haaretz…),” wrote Hatzel on Facebook. The shocking discovery: “Haaretz maintained in its basement a locked room that is a kind of temple of pictures praising terrorists.”
The room was found by accident by a worker transferring equipment as part of the paper’s move to a different building, said Hatzel, who received the report from the worker.
The worker “made a last check and came across a door that was always locked but this time was open, and in the room were dozens of pictures hanging just like a museum to terrorists,” wrote Hatzel.
Hatzel noted that among those in the pictures were senior Fatah terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi, who led the faction’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades during the murderous terror war launched by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 2000, along with “the dead of Al-Aqsa with flowers next to them, pictures of rock throwers and ‘IDF crimes.'”
Charlie Hebdo, in other words, is another iteration in a long and venerated French tradition, stretching back as far as Rabelais, Voltaire, and de Sade—the tradition of satire, skepticism, free and even reckless speech, and the furious mockery of authority and power that is, in its own way, an essential expression of freedom. In attacking Charlie Hebdo, Islamic totalitarianism tried to drive a knife into the heart of France itself.
And the French should have seen it coming, because, as Valls himself put it, to attack the Jews is also to attack the heart of France. “To understand what the idea of the republic is about,” he said,
But the French didn’t see it coming, because they did not want to see it. For over a decade, they chose to believe that they were only coming for the Jews. It is now clear that this is not and never was the case. But unless France comes to understand this, and act accordingly, then Valls’ dark prophecy will prove true: The French Jews will leave, and “France will no longer be France.”
For France, and indeed all of Europe, this is a fateful moment. It can choose to act decisively against anti-Semitism, and in doing so secure justice for its Jews and a liberal and democratic future for themselves; a future in which its Jewish citizens do not live in fear of racist violence and its artists do not live in fear of being slaughtered by tyrannical fanatics. It can realize that to fight anti-Semitism is to fight Islamic terrorism itself. Or it can let its Jews flee, and find itself facing the specter of a new totalitarianism alone.
First they came for the Jews, the old adage goes, then they came for everybody else. It remains to be seen whether everybody else will understand this in time. They should hope that they do. Unlike the Jews, they have nowhere else to go.
long-term supporter of Palestinian terror was awarded Philadelphia’s
“Liberty Bell” and “Citation of Honor” by Philadelphia Councilwoman
Maria Sanchez. The honors were given to the Palestinian District
Governor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam, by the American official “in
recognition of the impact and her extraordinary actions for her nation
and her cause,” reported the official PA daily [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan.
31, 2015]. Councilwoman Sanchez posted photos on Facebook of
herself with Ghannam receiving the award, and tweeted the following
statement: “I was honored to welcome the first woman Governor of the
city of Ramallah, #Palestine, to Philadelphia Dr. Leila Ghannam. Women
making moves.” [Jan. 30, 2015]
Laila Ghannam’s “actions for her
nation” include ongoing promotion of terror by glorifying some of the
most horrific Palestinian terrorist murderers, presenting them as heroes
and role models, and promising to follow in their path, as documented
by Palestinian Media Watch. Ghannam categorizes murderers of civilians,
among others, as Shahids (Martyrs), the highest status in Islam,
indicating she believes murder of Israeli civilians is an act sanctioned
by Islam, promoted by Allah, and an act to be admired by Palestinians.
honored Hamas bomb-builder for suicide terrorists Abdallah Barghouti,
who is serving 67 life sentences for complicity in the murder of 67
civilians, by visiting his home and family.
Sadly, she was allegedly killed by the Jordanian air raid attacks according to ISIS who held her hostage, although the United States says there is no evidence to that effect. The truth of how Kayla Mueller, 26, died may never be discerned. However, despite the sadness at her needless death, the myth that she was wonderful altruistic young woman should be exposed. This is another Rachel Corrie propaganda story in the making, and the western media is falling for it again, or embracing it on purpose.
Kayla Mueller was a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) who spent at least two years working with that terrorist support group. She was involved in demonstrations against the Jews in Sheikh Jarrah (part of East Jerusalem) after a 20 year long court decision recognized the Jews’ legal rights to homes they were chased from in earlier wars launched by the Arabs. She also participated in demonstrations to interfere with the IDF demolishing the homes of terrorists and suicide bombers after the courts okayed the demolitions.
Just as with Rachel Corrie, the press tries to paint Kayla as a selfless volunteer helping poor Arab refugees. She may have helped injured Arabs in “refugee” camps, but she was working to support the goals of Palestinian irredentists and to interfere with the IDF on behalf of terrorist groups.
As an ISM activist she was a tool for the worldwide jihad.
NBC announced Tuesday that it is suspending Brian Williams as “Nightly News” anchor and managing editor for six months without pay for misleading the public about his experiences covering the Iraq War.
NBC chief executive Steve Burke said Williams’ actions were inexcusable and jeopardized the trust he has built up with viewers during his decade as the network’s lead anchor. But he said Williams deserved a second chance.
Williams apologized last week for saying he was in a helicopter that was hit by a grenade while covering the Iraq War in 2003. Instead, another helicopter flying ahead of his was hit, and some veterans involved in the mission called him out on it.
According to Friedman, it was Israel’s immoral behavior in Lebanon in 1982 that transformed him from a supporter of the Jewish state to one of its most outspoken critics. He bravely discovered the truth about the Israelis, and that gave him the moral credentials to pass judgement on Israel from then on–which is exactly what he proceeded to do, first as the Times’ bureau chief in Jerusalem from 1984-1988, and then as a Times op-ed columnist ever since.
The problem is that Friedman’s story, like Brian Williams’ story, is a lie.Friedman did not become a critic of Israel in 1982. He was
strongly pro-Palestinian at least eight years earlier, as a leader of a
Brandeis University student organization called the “Middle East Peace
Group.” When the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, gun on his hip, spoke at
the United Nations that fall, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
strongly protested and hundreds of thousands of outraged New Yorkers
held a “Rally Against Terror.” Friedman and his Peace Group colleagues
published an open letter in The Brandeis Justice (the student newspaper) on November 12, 1974, to denounce the rally and oppose Prime Minister Rabin’s stance.
Swedes now tend to view all immigrants as victims of totalitarianism and refuse to acknowledge that not all immigrants think like Swedes. They cannot comprehend that people would flee if they were not hated and threatened. Most Swedes have never realized that one minority group may expose another minority group to violence and intimidation.
Unfortunately, one of the worst offenders trying to hide the truth is a Jewish organization, the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism [SKMA]. What seems to have upset supporters of the SKMA was that Carlqvist compared them to the Organization of German Nationalist Jews, who in the 1930s supported Hitler and claimed that Jews were treated fairly in Nazi Germany.
Instead of breaking up the anti-Israel demonstration, which took place without police permission, the police chose to revoke the Jews’ right to assemble. Malmö’s former mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, surely must have been aware that the perpetrators of anti-Semitic excesses were his own voters. Not one of the many complaints to the police by the city’s Jews has led to indictments, not to speak of convictions.
France has continued to crack down on terrorism amid ever growing concerns over radicalized Muslims who go to the Middle East to fight alongside terrorist groups there, then bring back jihad to their home countries.
On Sunday, French police detained six people suspected of recruiting potential jihadists, just days after another operation saw five charged on similar grounds.
A week earlier, French police arrested eight people suspected of involvement in a network that allegedly sent people to Syria to wage jihad.
European Muslims have reportedly flocked to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This also includes France, where over 1,000 citizens are predicted to have joined ISIS. Shockingly enough, those recruits include several Jewish girls who apparently converted to Islam.
A Belgian court on Wednesday jailed the leader of an Islamist group and several of his followers on terrorism charges for sending jihadist fighters to Syria.
Fouad Belkacem, the chief of the Sharia4Belgium group, was sentenced to 12 years in prison by the court in the northern port city of Antwerp.
“Belkacem is responsible for the radicalization of young men to prepare them for Salafist combat, which has at its core no place for democratic values,” the judge said.
“Sharia4Belgium recruited these young men for armed combat and organised their departure for Syria.”
Argentine forensic experts began work Tuesday to trace the source of unidentified DNA found at the home of a prosecutor who died mysteriously hours before a trial in which he was to accuse President Cristina Kirchner of a cover-up for Iran.
Investigators searching prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s Buenos Aires apartment after he was found dead on January 18 uncovered DNA that differed from his but has not yet been identified, reports AFP.
“It remains unknown who the genetic profile that differs from Nisman’s corresponds to,” said Judge Fabiana Palmaghini.
The assistant who supplied late Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman with the gun used in his mysterious death was sacked on Monday, officials said.
The justice ministry announced the dismissal of Diego Lagomarsino, a computer expert at the Argentine public prosecutor’s office and the last person known to have seen Nisman alive.
Lagomarsino was fired because Nisman’s interim replacement “reported that he did no work,” Luis Villanueva, a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office, told radio station Nacional Rock.
If the University of California were to establish its own, independent republic, at least it would open up another cushy ambassadorial spot to be sold to the highest Obama donor.
But how would it defend itself from aggressive acts by a United States that might want to reclaim its sovereign territory?
Soon enough, splinter groups of UC students would surely be protesting the unacceptable measures undertaken by the Free Republic of UC to protect its own territorial integrity.
The main event at UC was a divestment resolution from Israel, which is part of the ongoing effort to de-legitimize the Jewish state for the offense of being a pro-Western country struggling to survive in a Middle Eastern pit of vipers.
It is always curious that the world’s lone Jewish state is singled out for obloquy on campuses. At least the additional UC resolution including the United States provides some cover in the form of non-Jewish states.
Regardless, the UC action raises the question, as writer William Jacobsen asked, Can the United States divest from the University of California? It might be the only socially responsible thing to do.
Twenty-three advocacy groups have signed a letter to Linda Katehi, the Chancellor of the University of California, Davis, demanding an investigation into Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an antisemitic organization that has continually harassed Jewish and pro-Israel students on campuses across the United States.
The letter, organized by the AMCHA Initiative, was triggered by instances of antisemitic graffiti on the UC Davis campus just days after the student government, on January 29, passed an anti-Israel divestment resolution written and promoted by SJP. Following the resolution’s passage, a Jewish fraternity at UC Davis was spray painted with swastikas. In addition, anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered at the Hillel House. Authorities said a janitor found the words, “grout out the Jews,” etched into the bathroom wall.
“While we commend you for already taking some important steps in addressing these problems, we urge the university to conduct a full investigation into the conduct of the registered student group called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and one of its members, Azka Fayyaz,” the letter declared. “We believe that the investigation will reveal that both the SJP and Ms. Fayyaz have violated university policies and fostered divisiveness, hatred and bigotry on campus in violation of the Principles of Community. They should be held accountable for their misconduct.”
Yet a group of extremists, in an open letter to the chancellors of UC Davis have suggested just that, implying that pro Israel activists fabricated the anti-Semitic attack on the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.
The fringe group of activists had the audacity to imply that the vandalism at the Jewish fraternity at UC Davis was self-imposed, writing “the spray painting might have been perpetrated in a deliberate, twisted, effort to discredit the student government action.” After all, they claim, it may have happened once before. It’s an egregious and shameful implication, serving only to add insult to injury. With no supporting evidence, this group of extremists has discounted and questioned the veracity of the victims of a hate crime, using this baseless speculation to further their own political agenda. Their final scurrilous appeal to the UC Davis Chancellors ended with the request that the rejection of BDS be rescinded, writing “Finally in this context, we urge you again to reconsider your public rejection of the ASUCD Senate resolution.”
Its yet another in a series of shameless attacks on the Davis pro-Israel community, adding insult to injury once more.
PreOccupied Territory: US Gov’t Divests From Univ. Of California (satire)
The University of California Student Association approved a declaration Sunday calling for the UC system to divest from a list of countries the Association deems human rights violators, but found itself unexpectedly on the defensive when one of those countries, the United States, reacted in kind by ceasing all funding and investment in the university.
Following a trend among the student body on certain American campuses, the UC student group at Davis took up the politically charged issue of divestment, citing Israel, a typical target, but also including other “rights violators” such as the US, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and Sri Lanka. Typically such declarations carry symbolic weight only, as any major university’s investment policy is decided by its board of trustees or other such body far removed from student influence. However, the United Sates Congress took immediate exception to the vote, and convened an immediate session to cut all funding to UC.
Congressional representatives voted unanimously in favor of the cut, though both of California’s senators were absent from the proceedings. Democratic and Republican legislators noted that cutting funding in no way impinges on freedom of expression – the university and student body will remain free to express whatever they please, just not with public money.
Last week, an Evangelical publication excerpted a speech delivered by Steve Haas, the vice president of World Vision, to students at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Haas – drawing on his authority as a leader of a Christian relief agency that operates in nearly 100 countries with a $1 billion annual budget – called for a radical course correction within the Evangelical Movement, away from supporting Israel.
The theological rationale that Haas presents is far from revolutionary. It’s basic Christian Gospel 101. Be salt and light.
Care for widows and orphans. Follow the example of the Good Samaritan. Haas argues that evangelicalism has become too focused on Heaven at the expense of advancing social justice in God’s Kingdom on earth, urging his audience of aspiring pastors and theologians to go out to correct evil in the world through love.
So, in our troubled world, which evils and injustices rose to the very top of Haas’ list? Famine and poverty in Africa? Genocide in Syria and Iraq? Boko Haram? Gay men being thrown off of rooftops in the Muslim world? Charlie Hebdo commentators being gunned down in Paris by radical Islamists? Beheadings on YouTube? No – through World Vision’s clouded lens there are only three injustices – past and present – that merit mention: the genocide in Rwanda, AIDS, and ending Palestinian suffering at the hands of the Israeli government.
Judging from the strange caricature that Haas draws of Israel – and the Christians who support it – World Vision has even less sense than it has sight.
In the process, Parsons drew attention to the immoral nature of the BDS, which is bent on punishing the people of Israel, not the government whose policies Waters claims it opposes.
Waters, whose passion for BDS borders on religious extremism, has personally intervened numerous times when artists such as Neil Young have scheduled performances in Israel. Last week, he published a letter on his Facebook page urging Parsons to cancel his Feb. 10 concert in Tel Aviv:
“I know you to be a talented and thoughtful man, so I assume you know of the plight of the Palestinians and that there is a growing nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement protesting against the abusive policies of the Israeli government.”
Parsons’ reply, however, cut to the heart of what’s wrong with BDS:
“This is a political matter and I am simply an artist. I create music, that is my raison d’être. Everyone – no matter where they reside, what religion they follow, or what ideology they aspire to – deserves to hear it if they so choose.
Music knows no borders, and neither do I.”
Three men charged with attacking Israel supporters at a pro-Palestinian rally are working out a possible plea deal, their lawyer told court Monday.
Defence lawyer Rame Katrib said he has been in talks with Crown attorney Matt Block to resolve his clients’ charges.
Aziz Mohamed Madi, faces two charges of assault in the July 18 incident, while Arslan Razzaq Khan and Kamaal Maxamud Jaamac each face a single assault allegation.
“Me and Mr. Block have been involved in conversations to resolve these matters,” Katrib told Judge Jim Ogle.
Katrib said he received a draft agreed statement of facts from the Crown which he will discuss with his clients.
He asked that the case be adjourned to March 10, to a courtroom reserved for guilty pleas.
Fareed Zakaria’s take on Feb. 9, 2015 cited the Irgun, a covert Jewish group in British Mandatory Palestine, as an inspiration for ISIS’ (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) terrorism. Irgun was one of three Jewish underground military organizations in 1945-1948 that fought to bring about the end of the U.N. Mandate and the establishment of a Jewish state. Zakaria has demonstrated a compulsion to see Israel darkly, regardless of facts, and this is one more piece in the pattern.
Here, Zakaria implicitly equates ISIS to Irgun — Islamic fundamentalists who commit mass murder of children, trade captured minority women as “wives” and “execute” prisoners by beheading and immolation to Jewish nationalists who attempted to avoid non-combatant casualties.
ISIS slaughters and enslaves as many as it can of those opposing its ideology bent on establishing a world wide caliphate under sharia (Islamic law). But the Irgun, a small group numbering less than 2000, aimed primarily at destroying property. It did not target noncombatants, let alone insist at gunpoint that non-Jews convert to Judaism, on its way to compelling Britain to remove its troops from what was to become Israel.
‘Urban warfare’ – using buildings as
weapons in the Israel-Palestinian conflict – has long been an element in
the arsenal of those who seek to de-legitimise Israel by politicising
its architecture. While most of their efforts have been directed at
delegitimising Israeli settlements in the West Bank, now the fight is
moving to Israel’s Jewish heartland, namely Tel Aviv itself.
The latest to take a wrecking ball to
Israel’s founding myths is architect, writer and publisher Sharon
Rotbard, whose book ‘White City, Black City’ has recently been
translated into English and published by Pluto Press, which specialises
in far-left and anti-Zionist texts.
A book that should have languished in
obscurity on the political margins has been catapulted into prominence
by two reviews – in the Guardian and in The Economist.
February 9th saw the publication of the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary inquiry into Antisemitism which was commissioned by John Mann MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.
As readers who have already had a chance to read the publication will be aware, several references are made to the BBC. In the chapter titled ‘Traditional and Social Media’ (page 49 onwards), section 151 includes the following:BBC building
“…there was an overwhelming consensus amongst those that submitted evidence or gave personal testimony at the regional meetings we held, that the media, and in particular the BBC, had a role to play in whipping up anger through emotive content in the news and analysis that was broadcast. There was certainly a significant focus on the conflict. Using various analytical tools, Dr Ben Gidley found that there had been particularly intense coverage of protests and demonstrations against Israel and the conflict in general when compared to other countries and conflicts. He argued that the excessive focus on Israel in the media allows for inappropriate language to be used, although we discuss this in a later section.”
Section 154 notes:
“An antisemitic trope about Jewish control of politicians referenced by a BBC journalist”.
Of course the BBC – including its weather department – has long refused to come to terms with the fact that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel and this latest invention of a location called ‘null’ is therefore entirely in keeping with its existing policy.
Honest Reporting: HR Radio: Peach Bedrooms and Battlefield Lies
HonestReporting’s Yarden Frankl is back in-studio with VOI’s Josh Hasten to review the good, the bad, and the truly ugly of media coverage of Israel. With NBC’s Brian Williams under fire for fabricating personal experiences aboard a military helicopter during the US invasion of Iraq, his other reportage is coming under question. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on the bedroom color choice of a Palestinian couple hoping to wed.
Who doesn’t sympathize with the plight of two lovers separated by a heartless bureaucracy? Certainly not Jodi Rudoren, the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times who, with the assistance of one of the paper’s stringers in Gaza, wrote a story published yesterday in which the star-crossed romance of a Gaza woman and a Nablus man serves to highlight Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinians between the Hamas-run strip and the West Bank. The situation of teacher Dalia Shurrab and social media marketer Rashed Sameer Faddah is worthy of sympathy. But as much as the story Rudoren has written casts the Israelis as the villain of the piece, the real culprits are not to be found in the Jewish state. Palestinians who would like to see more liberal travel policies should address their anger to their leaders whose war on Israel is responsible for their inconvenience. Those who would like the borders of these areas to resemble the ones that separate Canada from the United States can’t at the same time support the ongoing war to extinguish the existence of the Jewish state.
There’s no doubt that Shurrab and Faddah appear to be innocent victims of a struggle that has nothing to do with the efforts of two individuals to find happiness. But when you are a citizen of an area ruled by a terrorist group pledged to fight a genocidal terrorist war against your neighbor, is it really fair to cry foul when the government of that country isn’t particularly interested in facilitating your travel?
Honest Reporting: What Universities Can Learn from Israel’s Status on Campus
In the post-modern university where, at least in the social sciences and humanities, facts are no longer, well, factual, the country of Israel fares badly. Rather than information about the actual country, an abstract idea of Israel has emerged on college campuses over the past dozen years. The Jewish state appears as the single nation of the world deserving boycott of its (actual) products and academic institutions. A Palestinian narrative prevails, but it is a particular, monolithic, Palestinian narrative that leaves out, for instance, the opposition of Palestinians to Israel boycotts.
This abstract notion of Israel also shows up in countless campus forums, classroom lectures, protest demonstrations, associated students’ election campaigns and, on many campuses for two weeks of every year, as performance activism confronting students with staged “checkpoints,” photos of bloody victims and towering, cardboard, “apartheid” walls.
Writing in an important recent collection, The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, 32 scholars consider gaps between Israel’s campus status and its real life. Among other topics, they address the assault on academic freedom that occurs if academics are boycotted because of their nationality (R. Berman; G. Rahm and A. Romirowsky; D. Hirsh; M. Nussbaum) and the absurdity of maligning Israeli institutions that not only exemplify multicultural learning and teaching but that are themselves bastions of academic freedom; the founder of the boycott Israel movement was getting an advanced degree at Tel Aviv University while advocating for its boycott (S. Wolosky; I. Troen). The book also offers a valuable, concise history of Israel (C. Nelson, R. Harris, and K. Stein), much needed because boycott movements and agitation against Israel on campus exhibit a startling lack of interest in verifiable evidence, dialogue, and the usual expectations of academic argument.
Last summer, amid the tension and turmoil of Israel’s 50-day war with Gazan terrorists, Jews throughout the world sprung to action in solidarity with their Israeli brothers and sisters.
Prayers, donations, solidarity missions and countless groups of volunteers were all offered to help the embattled residents of southern Israel during Operation Protective Edge, as well as the IDF soldiers protecting them from rockets and deadly infiltration attacks.
But for David Haies, a 35-year-old father of two living in Brooklyn, that just wasn’t enough. Instead, he packed his bags and joined the Israeli army reserves, where he spent almost a month guarding kibbutzim and other communities along the border with Gaza.
Sol Kikuchi, the only lone soldier (without parents living in Israel) from Japan in the Israel Defense Forces, last week finished the grueling 31-mile march required to receive the coveted red beret of the IDF Paratroopers Brigade.
“The march wasn’t hard for me, but seeing my parents, who came from Japan [for my beret ceremony], was really emotional for me and for them,” Kikuchi, 21, told Israel Hayom.
When Kikuchi first enlisted in the IDF, he completed a three-month Hebrew-language course, and vowed he would then volunteer to serve in a combat unit.
“If I am serving, I might as well go all the way and serve in a combat unit like the Paratroopers Brigade,” he said.
“Obviously it’s not easy to be alone in a foreign country, but this is my home now and I am very at peace with my decision to serve as a combat soldier in the IDF,” added Kikuchi.
Staff Sergeant Metoko’s life is both a sad story of suffering and loss, and an inspirational one of resilience and strength. His life began 21 years ago in the vibrant, yet crowded and impoverished city of Adis Ababa, Ethiopia. Metoko lost both of his parents, but refused to accept the impossible hand he was dealt and persevered.
“I made Aliya when I was five years old, and before I left, my parents had died. My older brother took our upbringing upon himself, which is very complicated, in and of itself,” recounted Metoko. At age 18, his older brother was the caretaker of four orphaned souls, including the five year old Metoko.
His upbringing provided Metoko with an intimate understanding of hardship, and that nothing would be handed to him on a silver platter. He understood what it means to work hard, and to do whatever it takes in order to succeed.
The Dan David Foundation awards six $1 million prizes annually in three categories: past, present and future.
The prize is named after the late philanthropist Dan David and administered by Tel Aviv University. On Tuesday it announced the winners for 2015.
Wales is being honored for launching the world’s largest online encyclopedia.
The others honored this year are historians Peter R. Brown and Alessandro Portelli and scientists Cyrus Chothia, David Haussler and Michael Waterman. An award ceremony is planned for May.
Last summer, Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system protected Israeli civilians from hundreds of Hamas rockets fired from Gaza. Meanwhile, the Waze navigation app helps millions of people steer their way through traffic every day.
Now Iron Dome godfather Danny Gold and Waze founder Uri Levine are hoping their products’ newfound celebrity can help bolster Israel’s international reputation.
“I think we have poor PR and poor marketing,” Levine said of his country. “In general, focusing on the value that we bring to the world is much more important than highlighting the conflict.”
Gold and Levine, in concert with a a bevy of other Israeli luminaries including supermodel Bar Refaeli and former president Shimon Peres, will gather at the Times of Israel Gala on Sunday.
The gala, titled “Telling Israel’s Story,” also marks the three-year anniversary of the launch of the online English-language newspaper, which was co-founded by Seth Klarman, its billionaire chairman and primary funder, and founding editor David Horovitz.