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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Record interest in aliyah at New York event

A record crowd of over 1,500 American Jews attended the annual Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah fair in New York for those interested in making aliyah to Israel.

Israeli Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver attended the fair, which provided potential immigrants with access to the information they would need to make aliyah and navigate the absorption process.

Similar aliyah fairs will take place in the coming days in Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, and other cities across North America.

This year, in response to an increasing number of medical professionals who have expressed interest in moving to Israel, representatives from seven hospitals and four Israeli national healthcare providers were on site to assist medical professionals from the US. 

Representatives of Israel’s Health Ministry were also on hand to offer on-the-spot licensing and professional consultations to American doctors.

The fair, which used the theme, “Imagine Greater Possibilities," drew more more attendees than any aliyah fair held previously by Nefesh B'Nefesh in North America, possibly signalling an increase in interest in aliyah among the American Jewish community.

Minister Landver said, "Every year, we at the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption come to meet face to face with potential new immigrants and returning residents here in New York. Aliyah is exciting but also apprehensive, so we are here - come all the way from Israel in order to direct, advise, tell and explain - to process immigration or return to Israel will start here, and make easy and fast, efficient and convenient for those of you who are with us today, potential immigrants, returning residents, members gained and medical professionals, each and every one of you has a special place in Israel, with track and plan our office immigration and absorption fit and offer early in your immigration process. We are waiting for you at home - in Israel!"

“Every year, our Aliyah Mega Event becomes more of an integral tool for building Aliyah confidence,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “To see how the Mega Events have evolved in the past nine years and to watch the level of interest in Aliyah grow is truly remarkable. It’s also incredible to see that Israeli institutions and municipalities realize the impact Olim have on the State of Israel, and are eager to be a part of such a landmark event."

Sessions: Bomb threats against Jews 'very serious'

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday that recent bomb threats against Jewish groups are “unacceptable”.

Speaking to reporters, Sessions called the threats a “very serious and destructive practice”.

Earlier on Monday, at least 10 Jewish community centers and Jewish day schools across the United States received bomb threats, the fifth wave of such threats in less than two months.

Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network (SCN), told JTA shortly after reports of the bomb threats began coming in that his organization was working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to identify the perpetrators and stop the threats.
SCN is an affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America that advises Jewish groups and institutions on security.

Some 60 JCCs and Jewish schools have received nearly 70 bomb threats since Jan. 9, forcing the evacuation of hundreds, including preschool children, from the buildings.

Two Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized in recent weeks. Nearly 200 headstones were knocked over in a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.

In another incident, dozens of headstones were toppled in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday that President Donald Trump is "deeply disappointed and concerned" by recent anti-Semitic incidents.

"The President remains deeply disappointed and concerned by the reports of further vandalism at Jewish cemeteries," Spicer said.

"The cowardly destruction in Philadelphia this weekend comes on top of similar accounts from Missouri and threats made to Jewish community centers around the country.

"The President continues to condemn these and any other form of anti-Semitic or hateful acts in the strongest terms,” he added.

Iran claims to have test fired missile

Iran claimed on Monday that it had successfully test fired the latest version of a submarine-launched cruise missile.

According to the IRNA news agency, the missile, named “Nasir”, was tested during an Iranian naval drill in the Persian Gulf.

“During the military drills in the Iranian territorial waters in the south, the new model of the SLCM named Nasir was test-fired and successfully hit its target,” Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said, according to the report.

Iran's navy on Sunday began its annual drill near the Strait of Hormuz, its first major exercise since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The naval drill comes amid recent tensions between Iran and the United States. Last month, a U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats near the Strait of Hormuz, after five Iranian vessels approached the USS Mahan and two other American ships that were entering the strait.

In September, the U.S. Navy said that Iran had threatened two American maritime patrol aircraft flying over the Strait of Hormuz.

In addition to the tensions in the Gulf, Iran has escalated its rhetoric against the United States, after The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on the Islamic Republic in response to a ballistic missile test it conducted in violation of UN Resolution 2231.

Iran has responded angrily to the sanctions, with the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dismissing calls from the Trump administration to cease the country’s ballistic missile tests.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The next war: Hizballah tunnels, pocket drones

Leaks from the State Comptroller’s report, due out Tuesday, Feb. 28, have sparked a storm of recriminations among the politicians and generals who led the IDF’s 2014 operation, which ended nearly a decade of constant Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israel. The argument centers on how the security cabinet headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the military, led then by defense minister Moshe Yaa’lon and former Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, prepared for and grappled with the threat of terror tunnels. A cabinet member, the hawkish education minister, Naftali Bennett, accuses them of falling down on the job.  They charge him with going after political capital.

DEBKAfile’s military sources take exception to the furious focus on a past war – the post mortem of any conflict will always pick at faults – when the new menaces staring Israel in the face should be at the forefront of the national discourse.

Palestinian Terror Chief Calls for Iran to Join ‘All-Out War’ Against Israel, Jordan

TEL AVIV – The leader of a Palestinian terrorist group in Lebanon called for an “all-out war” with Israel and Jordan in which Iranian soldiers would fight to “liberate Palestine.”  

“I want to see the revolutionary fighters from [Iran] in the Galilee,” Ahmad Jibril, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, told Hezbollah’s Al-Mayadeen TV in an interview translated by watchdog group the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on Friday.
Jibril said “an axis of resistance” should be formed against Israel that would include Syria, Iraq, Iran and Hezbollah. The aim of the resistance would be to fight for “the liberation of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”
After defeating Israel, he said, “we will enter Jordan, whether King Abdullah likes it or not.”
He added that “The war with this enemy will be an all-out war … in the Golan, in South Lebanon, in the Galilee … [and] will be waged from Rosh Hanikra to Aqaba.”

“Hezbollah is getting ready for it, and so are we,” he added. READ MORE

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Admits to Having Terror Cells Situated and Ready to Strike in US (VIDEO)

A recent video posted this week shows Islamic Republic strategist, Hassan Abbassi, discussing the destructive potential of Iran’s hidden army within the US.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Abbassi admitted to having terror cells situation and ready to strike in the United States.

Abbassi: I’ll be brief. We have two million Iranians there. Be certain that I will raise a guerilla army from amongst them against you. You know this well. Look how vulnerable you were on 9-11 when four Arabs who don’t know how to fight managed to endanger your foundations.
 President Trump wanted a temporary ban on refugees from Iran.
The Democrats stopped him. WATCH

IDF nabs 18 suspects in Judea and Samaria, discovers arms cache

Security forces operating in Judea and Samaria overnight apprehended 18 suspects, including members of the Hamas terror organization, and uncovered a hidden weapons cache south of Hevron.

The predawn raids were conducted jointly by the IDF, Shin Bet internal security agency, and Judea and Samaria district police early Monday morning.

A total of 18 wanted individuals were captured in the raids, including 13 terrorists suspected of violent attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces. Four members of the Hamas terror organization were among those arrested Monday morning.

The raids took place across Judea and Samaria, with three suspects apprehended near Shechem, including one Hamas terrorist in Askar.

Near the city of Ariel in Samaria three terrorists were captured, including one in Kifl Hareth and two in the neighboring village of Hares.

In western Samaria two terrorists, including one member of Hamas, were nabbed in Azzun, east of Alfei Menashe and Kfar Saba.

One suspect was captured on the outskirts of Jerusalem in the village of Kafr Aqab.

In the Gush Etzion area south of Jerusalem, two wanted individuals were arrested in Azariya, and an additional two in Zurif. Two suspects were taken into custody in Hussan, near Beitar Illit, and an additional suspect nabbed in Beit Sahour.

One terrorist was captured in Yatta, south of Hevron, while another was arrested in Beit Awa, near the Green Line, due west of Hevron.

During operations in Yatta, authorities found a hidden arms cache containing large quantities of ammunition and military equipment.

IDF hits Gaza

IDF forces struck a number of Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday morning, following rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.

The rocket landed in an open area in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council in southern Israel late Sunday night. No damage or injuries were reported.

In response, IDF artillery units struck a number of Hamas positions across the northern Gaza Strip.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Trump Administration Cancels Back-Channel Talks With North Korea

BEIJING — After approving plans on Friday for informal talks in New York between a North Korean delegation and former American officials, the Trump administration reversed course hours later, withdrawing approval for the North Koreans’ visas, two people who were to take part in the planned talks said.
The schedule called for the two sides to meet in early March, and arrangements were underway for the six-member North Korean group, led by Choe Son-hui, who runs the American affairs bureau of the North’s Foreign Ministry, to travel to New York.
The organizer of the talks, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, led by Donald S. Zagoria, was told by the State Department on Friday morning that the visas would be granted.
But the decision was reversed in the afternoon when “someone overruled State,” said one person who planned to participate in the talks. Both of the people on the participants’ list spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. READ MORE

Netanyahu, Julie Bishop, speak about Iran nuclear deal

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that his five-day trip to Australia was "wonderful" and that he felt Australia and Israel shared "the same path" more or less.
It was the first time a sitting Israeli Prime Minister visited Australia.

"This has been a wonderful visit here. Your people are amazing," Netanyahu told Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop before holding bilateral talks behind closed doors.

"I'd stay longer if I could."

"I know they were both very much looking forward to your visit," Bishop said.Bishop visited Israel in September 2016.

Netanyahu explained the substantial dangers of the nuclear agreement and in Iran's aggressive conduct in the region as well as in its support for terrorism and the continued development of its ballistic missile program. In addition, he explained the difference between the concept of two states and the content and substance of two states.

Report: US considers quitting UN Human Rights Council

The Trump administration is considering pulling the United States out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a body that has been observed being biased against Israel and whose credibility has suffered for including genocidal governments, according to two sources in regular contact with former and current U.S. officials quoted by Politico.

No immediate withdrawal is expected ahead of the council’s Monday session. A final decision on membership in the council would likely involve Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and of course the president himself.

A former State Department official briefed on the discussions said while the council’s targeting of Israel is likely part of the debate, there are also questions about its roster of members and doubts about its overall usefulness, Politico reported.

“There’s been a series of requests coming from the secretary of state’s office that suggests that he is questioning the value of the U.S. belonging to the Human Rights Council,” the former official said.

In a recent meeting with mid-level State Department officials, Tillerson expressed skepticism about the council, which has a number of powers, including the ability to establish panels that probe human rights abuses.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner did not address whether U.S. membership on the council was being reconsidered, but said, “Our delegation will be fully involved in the work of the HRC session which starts Monday.”

Report: ISIS planning 'mass terror attacks' in Britain

ISIS terrorists are planning "indiscriminate attacks in innocent civilians" in Britain, reported British terrorism watchdog head.

British expert on terrorism laws Attorney Max Hill told the Sunday Telegraph, "In terms of the threat that's represented, I think the intensity and the potential frequency of serious plot planning – with a view to indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians of whatever race or color in metropolitan areas – represents an enormous ongoing risk that none of us can ignore.

"So I think that there is undoubtedly significant ongoing risk which is at least as great as the threat to London in the 70s when the IRA were active on the mainland."

British Security Minister Ben Wallace said, "Experts have warned that their ambition is a mass casualty attack and they have no moral barrier to using whatever means possible.

"The ambition of ISIS or Daesh is definitely mass casualty attacks. They want to harm as many people as possible and terrorize as many people as possible.

"They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country.

"The casualty figures which could be involved would be everybody's worst fear. We have certainly seen reports of them using it in Syria and Iraq (and) we have certainly seen aspiration for it in Europe."

Wallace also warned of traitors, "There are traitors. We have to be on our guard for the enemy within. The insider threat, as we would call it, is real and it can be exploited and there are people trying to do that as we speak."

He also warned ISIS cells in Morroco, Syria, and Iraq owned substances which could be used to make either a bomb or a "deadly toxin."

British security officials have repeatedly warned that ISIS may target Britain after losing ground in Iraq and Syria.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Iran requests 950 tons of uranium from Kazakhstan

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s nuclear chief said Saturday that the country had requested to buy 950 tons of uranium concentrate from Kazakhstan over the next three years to help develop its civil reactor program.
The request has been made to the body that oversees the nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, told the ISNA news agency that the purchase was supposed to happen “within three years.”
“650 tons will enter the country in two consignments and 300 tons will enter Iran in the third year,” he said.
Salehi said the final shipment of concentrate, known as yellow cake, would be turned into uranium hexafluoride gas and sold back to Kazakhstan — its first international sale of the compound which is used in the uranium enrichment process.
Under the nuclear deal, many of Iran’s centrifuges were mothballed but it has the right to enrich uranium to a level of 3.5 percent and sell it abroad.
Nuclear weapons require uranium enriched to 80% or more. READ MORE

Russia tells White House it will not return Crimea to Ukraine

Russia said on Wednesday it would not hand back Crimea to Ukraine or discuss the matter with foreign partners after the White House said U.S. President Donald Trump expected the annexed Black Sea peninsula to be returned.

Moscow says an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to become part of Russia in a 2014 referendum wanting protection from what the Kremlin cast as an illegal coup in Kiev.
Ukraine says the referendum was a sham held at gunpoint after Russian troops illegally annexed the peninsula, that Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by people power, and that Moscow should return Crimea.
"We don't give back our own territory. Crimea is territory belonging to the Russian Federation," Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told a news briefing on Wednesday.
The 2014 annexation prompted the United States and the European Union to impose sanctions on Russia, plunging Western relations with the Kremlin to their worst level since the Cold War.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that Trump expected and wanted to get along with Russia, but was expecting Moscow to hand Crimea back. READ MORE

Andrew Walther: Obama Administration Allowed ISIS Dechristianization in Syria and Iraq

Andrew Walther, vice president of communications for the Knights of Columbus – the world’s largest Catholic fraternal order – joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow for a special edition of Breitbart News Daily live from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), to discuss his op-ed calling for Christian refugees from the Islamic State (ISIS) to be given priority consideration.

“I’ve been over to Iraq twice in the last year, the last time with Congressman Chris Smith, taking a look at how Christians were being overlooked by the aid program of the U.S. government, getting basically no money from the U.S. or the UN,” Walther said.
“What we’ve discovered and been advocating against at this point is that these people are really being left out,” he said. “ISIS came in, killed a lot of them, drove them all from their homes in Nineveh and elsewhere. The upshot of that was the U.S. just sort of stood by, did not have a plan for helping communities.”
“Now I think we have the opportunity to change things,” said Walther. “These people faced genocide once, then they faced the sort of overlooking by the U.S., and now I’m told that there are signs that things are starting to change – that there’s a new openness among government officials there in Iraq, U.S. government officials, to helping these communities that have been overlooked for so long.”
“How this happened was simply a matter of an argument that we have to take care of everybody, so all the money goes to the big camps,” he explained. “Christians don’t go to the big camps because, of course, they get persecuted and targeted for violence at the big camps, and so, as a result, they get nothing because there’s no thought about prioritizing, or even helping, or making sure that you don’t leave out these little communities that could disappear. In the case of Christians, their numbers have declined in Iraq by almost 90 percent in the last decade.”
Walther said he found some of the reactions to President Trump’s executive order on immigration “very confusing.” READ MORE

Bolton: Use of Nerve Gas Proves North Korea Is Crazy, Irrational and Dangerous

Former UN ambassador John Bolton discussed the Trump administration’s top foreign policy objectives with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily, emphasizing that radical Islam and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction through unstable regimes like North Korea need to be the priorities for the Trump administration.

“If anyone had any doubt about how crazy the regime is in North Korea,” said Bolton, “we’ve seen the assassination of the president’s half-brother in Malaysia, police reporting this morning that he was apparently killed with VX nerve agent – cousin to Sarin gas, it’s a chemical weapon.”
Continued Bolton, “This is an indication of the irrationality and therefore the danger of the North Korean regime. The longer-term threats are how to deal with china and how to deal with Russia.”

Bolton spoke extensively about the complicated relationship between China and North Korea and how best to manage that aspect of America’s foreign policy in the Trump era.

Dutch relations with euro up for debate after lawmakers commission probe

Feb 24 The Netherlands' future relationship with the euro will be comprehensively debated by its parliament following elections in March, after lawmakers commissioned a report on the currency's future.
The motion approving the investigation by the Council of State, the government's legal advisor, coincides with a rising tide of euroscepticism in Europe, which populist parties are hoping to tap into in a series of national elections this year also taking in euro zone powerhouses France and Germany.
The probe will examine whether it would be possible for the Dutch to withdraw from the single currency, and if so how, said lawmaker Pieter Omtzigt.
Omtzigt, of the opposition Christian Democrats, tabled the parliamentary motion calling for the investigation, which legislators passed unanimously late on Thursday.
It was prompted by concerns the ECB's ultra-low interest rates are hurting Dutch savers, especially pensioners, and doubts as to whether its bond purchasing programmes are legal, he said.
Its findings will be presented in several months, by which time the make-up of parliament will have changed dramatically.
While most Dutch voters say they favour retaining the euro, the eurosceptic far-right party of Geert Wilders is expected to book large gains though it is unlikely to win enough votes to form a government.

The most probable outcome of the March 15 vote is a new centrist coalition including some parties, such as Omtzigt's Christian Democrats, that have been vocal in their opposition to current ECB policy.

Security Council to vote on Syria sanctions

The resolution, if it passes, would blacklist 11 Syrian military commanders and officials.
The draft resolution also seeks to ban the sale or supply of helicopters to the Syrian government and to blacklist 10 government and related entities involved in the development and production of chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

It calls for an asset freeze and travel ban for the individuals and entities across all UN member states.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a recently released major report that Syrian government forces had carried out at least eight chemical attacks in late 2016 as they were fighting to capture second city Aleppo.

The report followed the discovery by a joint inquiry of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks and that Islamic State jihadists had used mustard gas.

Syria continuously denies using chemical weapons during the civil war, claiming that the allegations are "a campaign of lies" made by “Western circles”.

Chlorine use as a weapon is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013 under pressure from Russia.

The Security Council diplomat told Reuters the draft resolution would be brought to a vote next week unless a "really compelling argument" against it emerged from the talks.

The draft resolution is a French and British initiative and would also be supported by the United States, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. However, it is likely to be vetoed by Russia, a close ally of Syria which has already used its veto power six times to block action on Syria.
The U.S. and Russian delegations to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Following the UN-OPCW investigation, the United States in January blacklisted 18 senior Syrian officials it said were connected to the country's weapons of mass destruction program.
At least nine of the 11 officials in the UN draft resolution were also blacklisted by the U.S. government, according to Reuters.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Underground network readies homes to hide undocumented immigrants

Los Angeles (CNN)A hammer pounds away in the living room of a middle class home. A sanding machine smoothes the grain of the wood floor in the dining room.
But this home Pastor Ada Valiente is showing off in Los Angeles, with its refurbished floors, is no ordinary home.
"It would be three families we host here," Valiente says.
By "host," she means provide refuge to people who may be sought by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. The families staying here would be undocumented immigrants, fearing an ICE raid and possible deportation.
    The purchase of this home is part of a network formed by Los Angeles religious leaders across faiths in the wake of Donald Trump's election. The intent is to shelter hundreds, possibly thousands of undocumented people in safe houses across Southern California.
    The goal is to offer another sanctuary beyond religious buildings or schools, ones that require federal authorities to obtain warrants before entering the homes.
    "That's what we need to do as a community to keep families together," Valiente says.
    The religious leaders have a name for their network: the Rapid Response Team. The idea is not necessarily a new one, according to Reverend Zach Hoover, executive director of the interfaith community organization LA Voice.
    Hoover, 37, wasn't an active member during the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s when US congregations across faiths resisted federal law and provided shelter for Central Americans fleeing violence in their home countries. Many congregations offered direct sanctuary, housing the undocumented immigrants, while others offered food and legal assistance.
    The Rapid Response Team mirrors that structure, but goes one step further by also incorporating private homes, which offer a higher level of constitutional protection than houses of worship and an ability to make it harder for federal agents to find undocumented immigrants. READ MORE

    North Korea Taunts China as ‘U.S. Vassal Force’ After Halt of Coal Shipments

    North Korea has lashed out against its most prominent ally in the international community, China, in a commentary decrying its “friendly neighbor” for adhering to United Nations sanctions and halting the import of coal from the communist hermit kingdom.

    While the opinion article on the Korean Central News Agency’s website does not mention China by name, North Korea only has one “friendly neighbor” and has reason to fear that its largest trading partner will cease being an economic lifeline for a government isolated from the world. In attacking China, the article teases Beijing as operating under U.S. control, as an inferior power to the United States.
    China announced this week that it would no longer accept coal imported from North Korea for the remainder of 2017.
    “This country, styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the U.S. while defending its mean behavior with such excuses that it was meant not to have a negative impact on the living of the people in the DPRK but to check its nuclear program,” the article reads. It goes on to accuse China of “inhumane steps such as totally blocking foreign trade related to the improvement of people’s living standard under the plea of the UN ‘resolutions on sanctions’ devoid of legal ground.” Later, the author accuses the “friendly neighbor” of “moves to bring down the social system in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].” READ MORE