Israel Seen – Latest News & Entertainment
U.S. Sent $221 Million to Palestinians in Obama’s Last Hours – Matthew Lee and Richard Lardner
The Obama administration in its waning hours quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that Republican members of Congress had been blocking. Congressional aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before the new president took the oath of office.
Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger (R-Tex.), who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, had placed holds on the Palestinian funding over moves by the PA to seek membership in international organizations. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding. (AP-Washington Post)
Syria Peace Talks Quickly Descend into Quarreling – Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad
The first meeting between Syrian rebel fighters and government officials at peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, ended abruptly on Monday when the talks quickly devolved into harsh words and competing accusations. Mohammad al-Alloush of the Army of Islam labeled the Syrian government “a bloody despotic regime” and called for it to release 13,000 women being held as political prisoners and to end starvation sieges. The lead government negotiator, Bashar al-Jaafari, responded by calling the opposition delegation “armed terrorist groups.”
While the Americans had participated in previous rounds of talks in Geneva, at this meeting the U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan, who was invited over Iran’s objections, attended only as an observer. (New York Times)
Trump Speaks with Egyptian President Sisi – Carol E. Lee and Dahlia Kholaif
President Donald Trump spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Monday, White House officials said. Egyptian state media reported that Sisi expressed hope that bilateral ties would see a “new push” under the Trump administration, while Trump praised Egypt’s efforts against terrorism and extremism. Trump pledged full backing of Egypt. (Wall Street Journal)
Netanyahu: We Want Arab Citizens to Integrate into Israeli Society
“Most Arab citizens of Israel want to integrate into Israeli society. I also want this,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook on Monday. “It pains me that there are extremists within Arab society who incite the Arab community to go in the opposite direction.”
As an example of incitement, he referred to protesters who interrupted a speech given last week by a liaison for the Free Syrian Army. “Israeli-Arab students came to disrupt a public meeting about the situation in Syria….They claimed that the Syrian exiles who participated in the conference were traitors to the Syrian people.”
Netanyahu noted that the Syrians accused the protesters of failing to understand what true oppression involves. “You are living in a paradise compared to Syria,” said Issam Zeitoun of the Free Syrian Army. “You should be ashamed.” (Times of Israel)
IDF Updating Tactics to Counter Hizbullah Crossborder Raid – Yoav Zitun
The IDF is training its forces to contain and eliminate companies of Hizbullah fighters that infiltrate Israeli territory. The IDF believes that Hizbullah’s Radwan Forces will attempt to infiltrate Israel in a future war and attempt to plant a flag over an Israeli community or IDF outpost along the border.
While Hizbullah hasn’t dug tunnels crossing the border into Israel like Hamas, they’ve built fighting tunnels in and around Shiite villages in southern Lebanon that Israeli forces would face in a future war. (Ynet News)
Video: IDF Arrests Palestinians Who Threw Firebombs at Kibbutz – Yoav Zitun and Elisha Ben Kimon
IDF forces arrested three Palestinians from Beit Fajjar in the West Bank who threw firebombs at the entrance to Kibbutz Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion over the weekend. In footage released by the IDF, the Palestinians are seen approaching the kibbutz at night and hurling several firebombs before fleeing. (Ynet News)
How Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Can Improve Prospects for Peace – Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
At the Paris summit, John Kerry spoke carelessly about an “explosion” – upon which radical Islamists might feel obliged to deliver – if the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem. As has been so often the case in the past, however, it is the very attempt to placate Palestinian and Arab demands that makes peace less likely. A hard dose of realism may well set the stage for serious negotiations.
No Israeli government in the foreseeable future will divide Jerusalem, relinquishing the rights of the Jewish people in the very place that has been the focus of their aspirations for millennia. Some changes in the line of sovereign control are possible in outlying areas, but that is not what the Palestinians have in mind. What they want is a dramatic outcome that will confirm, retroactively, that the Jews never had a birthright in their own homeland and holy city.
The language of UNSCR 2334, and the atmospherics of the Paris Conference, encourage such unrealistic expectations among the Palestinians. The sooner they are disabused of these notions, the better. After all, this is about moving the U.S. embassy to West Jerusalem, which even the Palestinians acknowledge is part of Israel. The writer is former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at Israel’s National Security Council. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
The Dangers of a Unilateral Israeli Withdrawal from the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem – Hirsh Goodman (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The stalemate in the Middle East peace process is leading some in Israel and elsewhere to claim that the status quo is untenable and to push for a new unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Yet while the current situation in the West Bank may not be desirable, unilateral moves represent a flawed and counterproductive response.
- The potential consequences of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal are likely to harm Israel’s security rather than enhance it. The security cooperation Israel now has with the PA will dissipate and the security advantages provided by Israel’s physical military deployment in the territories will be lost.
- Israel’s ability to contain, pre-empt, or respond to threats effectively and surgically will be limited, and the intelligence benefits afforded by the current deployment will be adversely affected. Moreover, from an international legal perspective, a partial Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank will not end Palestinian claims against Israel but is likely to intensify them.
- Any unilateral moves involving Israeli withdrawal from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem is likely to cause much worse security problems for Israel, would clearly damage the existing urban fabric of Jewish-Arab cooperation in the city, and is likely to lead to a reduction in the city’s Jewish majority.
- What the unilateralists propose is the creation of a festering wound, a pocket of Palestinians surrounded by Israel, pending a Palestinian decision to end the conflict. In all previous Israeli attempts at unilateralism, expectations, results and reality seldom coincided.
- “When standing on the edge of a cliff, it is wiser to keep still than step forward,” Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, a former head of the Israel National Security Council, wrote in June 2016. “It is wiser to defer action than to take unilateral steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse.”The writer established the program on media strategy at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. He was a former military correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Report, and a strategic fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Unilateral Withdrawal from the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem – Legal Observations – Alan Baker
The Oslo Accords establish an agreed division of control and jurisdiction between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. This division cannot be unilaterally altered without reciprocal agreement. The concept of a negotiated permanent status agreement is the very epicenter of the commitments undertaken by the Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the central issues between them. Ambassador Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Elbit to Sell Night Vision System to NATO Country (Globes)
Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems announced on Jan. 17 that it will supply its ground-breaking BrightNite system to an air force in a NATO country for $17 million.
BrightNite delivers a crystal clear visual of the landscape, flight data and mission data directly to both eyes of a helicopter pilot in pitch dark and low visibility landing conditions.
Photos: Hamas Graduation Ceremony in Gaza – Kelly McLaughlin (Daily Mail-UK)
Palestinian forces loyal to Hamas held a graduation ceremony in Gaza City on Sunday where members showed off their military skills and burned a mock Israeli post – as well as an Israeli flag – as part of a drill.
Those featured in the ceremony ranged in age from small children to middle-aged adults.
EU Funding to NGOs Active in Anti-Israel BDS Campaigns (NGO Monitor)
Despite its stated opposition to BDS campaigns against Israel, the EU is a major financial backer of organizations that advocate for the country’s economic isolation.
Some 29 out of 100 EU grants administered through EU regional funding programs designated for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza funnel funds to organizations that actively promote BDS. Out of 180 EU grantees, 42 support BDS.
Nine BDS-supporting organizations were the recipients of the EU’s Partnership for Peace Program, designated for joint projects involving Israeli as well as Palestinian organizations to “build trust and understanding.”
Brussels Airport Bombers Targeted U.S. and Jews – Lachlan Carmichael (AFP)
The Islamic State suicide bombers who attacked Brussels airport on March 22, 2016, targeted passengers travelling to the U.S. and also Jewish people.
Airport security camera footage shows one bomber apparently pursuing Hasidic Jews seconds before one of the blasts.
One of the airport bombers attacked the Delta Airlines check-in at Zaventem airport.
“Early on (in the investigation) there were indications that they targeted U.S., Russian and Israeli check-in counters,” a U.S. law enforcement source said.
An airport source said a bomb that did not explode was left near the United and El Al counters, which face each other.
Israeli Music Scene
Music, the country way
Veteran vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Shai Lavi will perform his large collection of ‘simple, everyday life’ songs in Tel Aviv.
It is a bit of a stretch to imagine the average modern-day Israeli getting out there on the range, herding cattle and strumming a guitar by a campfire. Then again, we do have our kumzitz tradition, and campfire musical get-togethers are an integral part of our national culture.
Acclaimed Israeli singer Meir Banai dies aged 55
Member of famous show business clan succumbs after long battle with cancer
The celebrated Israeli singer and songwriter Meir Banai died on Thursday evening at age 55.
Banai, who was behind some of Israel’s most notable rock and pop hits of recent decades, passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer, reports in Hebrew-language media said.
He was a member of one of the most prominent show business families in the country that includes several acclaimed musicians, actors and entertainers.
Banai’s sister Orna is a popular comedian and actress and his brother Evyatar is also a well-known singer. Cousins Yuval and Ehud have also made a major mark on the Israeli rock music scene. The Times of Israel
No Pedal To Play Metal: Israeli Startup Rocks Music World With Wireless Sound Effects Touchpad
“Are you ready to rock?” Electric guitarists have been shouting that out to excited concert crowds for decades. The call is usually followed by mind-bending solos enhanced by cool sound effects produced by effects pedals. Using cables, most musicians connect their guitars to several pedals, which they step on throughout their performance to get their desired effects.
Seeking to free guitar rockers from their pedals, Israeli startup GTC Sound Innovations has created the RevPad, an innovative wireless sound effects controller designed as a compact touchpad that attaches easily to any amplified instrument.
Shaking up the music world, the wireless touchpad, which can be affixed to any guitar, allows guitarists to select the desired effect using their fingertips, while roaming freely on stage with no strings (or wires) attached – literally.
Israeli Powerhouse Vocalist Ninet Tayeb with Ben Zaidi & Bad Saint at Chop Suey on January 25
In her native Israel, Ninet Tayeb is more than a household name — the acclaimed singer/songwriter/actress is arguably the biggest entertainment figure in the country. But the road here — on the verge of her fifth album, which will be the first to be released in the U.S. — has been anything but comfortable and straightforward. Even a cursory listen to these new songs reveals an artist with deep resilience, fierce determination, and disarming vulnerability. Along with an unflinching vision of her own path, those are traits that have allowed Ninet to emerge as the wild and free voice you hear on this record.
Ninet Tayeb will be making an appearance at Seattle’s Chop Suey on January 25, 2017 along with Ben Zaidi and Bad Saints. Tickets are $8 and are available online at the Chop Suey website HERE. If you have not heard her voice before, we highly recommend this show.