Italian PM: UNESCO resolution is ‘inconceivable’


Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday slammed the anti-Israel resolution adopted by UNESCO last week, saying that he found it “shocking.” The resolution denied the Jewish and Christian historical connections to Jerusalem, as Josh Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project, wrote in an op-ed Wednesday in The Hill. Democratic congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) found the vote so ludicrous he accused the organization of living in an “alternate universe…where you will see unicorns and flying dragons”.
“I think this is a mistaken, inconceivable resolution,” Renzi said during an interview with Italian radio while on a trip to Brussels. “It is not possible to continue with these resolutions at the UN and UNESCO that aim to attack Israel. It is shocking and I have ordered that we stop taking this position (i.e, the abstention) even if it means diverging from the position taken by the rest of Europe. I have asked diplomats handling these issues to cease doing so.”He said that upon his return, he will summon Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni to find out why Italy abstained from the vote instead of voting against the resolution.


Italy is the third country to announce a change in position since the vote, following Mexico and Brazil. Since the vote last week, Italy’s Jewish community has demonstrated against its country’s position, and senior members of the community have published articles and public letters in the press.


The United Nations’ top human rights official called Aleppo a “slaughterhouse” and the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHCR) passed a resolution calling for an immediate cessation of bombing of Aleppo and a war crimes inquiry on Friday. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said at an emergency session of the UNHRC in Geneva, “The violations and abuses suffered by people across the country, including the siege and bombardment of eastern Aleppo, are simply not tragedies; they also constitute crimes of historic proportions.” He continued, “The ancient city of Aleppo, a place of millennial civility and beauty, is today a slaughterhouse – a gruesome locus of pain and fear, where the lifeless bodies of small children are trapped under streets of rubble and pregnant women deliberately bombed.” Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry similarly called for a war crimes investigation into the Syrian government and Russia’s bombing of Aleppo.


While Russia has instituted a “humanitarian pause” in eastern Aleppo, Britain’s junior Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood said it was “being used simply for them to regroup and further their own stranglehold over Aleppo.” The United Nations General Assembly discussed on Thursday ways to override the Security Council on the issue of Syria, where Russia is the chief obstructionist. Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, said, “The perpetrators have names. When we don’t say ‘the Syrian regime’ or ‘Russia,’ we obscure their responsibility.”


The Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad, bolstered on the ground by Iran, the terrorist group Hezbollah, and Shiite militiamen and from the air by Russia, have besieged the eastern half of Aleppo since July, which is home to some 300,000 civilians. They have carried out human rights atrocities such as the barrel bombing of civilians and the systematic targeting of aid convoys and hospitals. The regime has launched chlorine gas attacks on the people of Aleppo, and its Russian allies have purposely targeted first responders arriving on the scene to help those trapped in rubble.


Argentina has requested the extradition of Iran’s former foreign minister due to his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aries, Agence France-Presse reported Friday.

The extradition of Ali Akbar Velayati, currently a close advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was sent by Investigating Judge Rodolfo Canicoba to the government of Iraq, where Velayati is currently visiting. Canicoba made similar requests to Singapore and Malaysia when Velayati visited those nations in July.

Argentinian authorities suspect five senior Iranian officials, including Velayati and former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of being involved in the bombing, which killed 85 people and is the deadliest-ever terror attack on Argentinian soil.

Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was charged with investigating the AMIA bombing, died of a gunshot wound to the head in January 2015 under mysterious circumstances. In March, a three-judge panel unanimously referred the inquiry into Nisman’s death to a federal court to be investigated as a political murder.

Nisman was also investigating a pact made by then-Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to jointly investigate the bombing with Iranian authorities. Nisman alleged that Kircher and other senior Argentinian authorities were engaged in a quid pro quo to cover up Iran’s involvement in the bombing in exchange for favorable trade deals. He died shortly before he was due to present his proof to the national congress.

A court later declared that the joint investigation was unconstitutional. New president Mauricio Macri, who was elected last December, said that he would not renew the agreement to jointly investigate the bombing.

Israeli actress Gal Gadot may be Wonder Woman on the big screen but Keren Herscovici, Noya Lempert and Efrat Dayagi – the initiators of a program for advancing women in prominent positions in their careers – are the true wonder women of Israel. They started Woman2Woman to help young women in top decision-making positions advance in their careers (in all fields) with some guidance from mentors who have already been there and succeeded. “A number of times in my life, I’ve felt that I’m really in need of a mentor. And that’s what our initiative is geared toward, answering this need,” Dayagi, a lawyer, tells ISRAEL21c. “You can’t just cold-call someone and say, ‘So and so told me to call you for advice.’ I’ve sought something like this program and I would have loved a connection like this with a mentor.” Herscovici, Lempert and Dayagi say they are different from other female empowerment initiatives because they don’t see women as underdogs. (via ISRAEL21c)


TIP CEO: Countries Should Reassess UNESCO Ties After Its “Mockery of the Historical Record”


The world’s democracies must reassess their ties with UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural organization, if it does not revisit the resolution it passed last week denying the Jewish and Christian historical connections to Jerusalem, Josh Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project, wrote in an op-ed Wednesday in The Hill.

The resolution “inflicted a wound upon millions of Jews, and many more millions of Christians” and “makes a mockery of the historical record and flies in the face of religious tolerance,” Block wrote. He noted that strong condemnations of the resolution have come from the White House, Congress, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, and outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is scheduled to meet in Paris next week, and will have an opportunity to revisit the decision. Some countries have already done so: Mexico changed its vote from supporting the resolution to an abstention, and Brazil may soon do the same. Poland and South Korea, countries with large Christian populations, sit on the committee and may reconsider the consequences of the resolution to their citizens.

If UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee doesn’t take action, Block argued, then the United States should follow Israel’s lead and “and reevaluate their ties with the agency.”


Israel’s Shin Bet security service and police forces thwarted a terror attack targeting a wedding hall, The Times of Israel reported on Thursday. A group of four Palestinians was plotting to carry out the attack and also kidnap an Israeli soldier for use as a future bargaining chip. Details permitted for publication on Thursday did not specify the type of attack.

Mahmoud Yusef Hassin Abu Taha allegedly led the cell, and told Shin Bet officials that he was the head of a terror group directed by the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza. Iran funds most of Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s budget, according to the U.S. State Department. Taha was responsible for assembling the three additional would-be attackers—two of whom were residing in Israel illegally. The group also included Hani M’suad Nasir Abu Amrah, 40, a Gazan who now lives in the south of Israel after being granted Israeli citizenship under the family reunification program.

“The case once again stresses the manner in which terror groups take advantage of the permits to enter Israel, which are given for humanitarian and economic reasons. And also the risk posed to the presence in Israel of Palestinians who don’t have a permit to be there,” the Shin Bet statement said.Terror groups have previously used kidnapped IDF soldiers or the remains of soldiers to bargain for the release of Palestinian prisoners. Once released, many prisoners revert back to terrorism—nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists Israel has released since 1985 have returned to the battlefield. There is even a special unit within Hamas consisting entirely of released prisoners—it is responsible for carrying out deadly attacks against civilians.


Iran has increased its delivery of weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, U.S., Western, and Iranian officials told Reuters Thursday. The weapons are smuggled overland into Yemen over the Omani border, according to the report, although the Omani government has denied this charge. A U.S. official said, “What they’re bringing in via Oman are anti-ship missiles, explosives…  money and personnel.” An Iranian diplomat confirmed that his government has upped its support for the Houthis, saying, “The nuclear deal gave Iran an upper hand in its rivalry with Saudi Arabia, but it needs to be preserved.” Critics of the Iran nuclear deal, including the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia, had expressed their concern that it would give Iran more leeway to support its destabilizing proxies throughout the region, including the Houthis and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

The Houthis may have fired missiles at U.S. Navy vessels operating off the coast of Yemen over this past weekend, according to American defense officials. The Pentagon declined on Monday, however, to say whether or not missiles had definitively been fired.

Last Wednesday, U.S. Navy vessels destroyed three Houthi-controlled radar sites with missile strikes authorized by President Barack Obama. The strikes came just two days after the Houthis fired two missiles at the USS Mason. The day after the American strike, Iran dispatched two warships to the Gulf of Aden.

The Houthis seized control of the Yemeni government in 2015, prompting a military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries. The Iranian proxy, whose slogan reads in Arabic “God is great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam,” have received arms—including missiles—and training from Iran. American, French, and Australian vessels have intercepted weapons shipments from Iran on their way to the Houthi rebels. After the capture of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in 2014, Iranian parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani, who is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, boasted that Iran now controlled four Arab capitals, the other three being Damascus, Baghdad, and Beirut.

Secretary of State John Kerry has previously expressed his concern about Iranian missiles being delivered to the Houthis, and then being fired over the border into Saudi territory.


Just days after the UN’s cultural agency voted in favor of a resolution denying Jerusalem’s Jewish history, archaeologists have discovered the site where the Romans breached Jerusalem’s walls in the prelude to the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple nearly 2,000 years ago, confirming those ties, The Times of Israe lreported Thursday.

The site, just outside of Jerusalem’s Old City, was discovered last winter. According to Israel’s Antiquities Authority, which confirmed the findings earlier this week, archaeologists found “remains of a tower surrounded by scores of stones and boulders fired by Roman catapults at the Jewish forces guarding the wall,” matching the description by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus of the wall breached by the Romans.

The discovery of the battle site settles a longstanding debate among archaeologists as to how far the walls of Jerusalem extended prior to Titus’ attack on Jerusalem.

The official Palestinian position—as expressed in the Palestinian National Charter posted on the website of the Palestinian Authority’s United Nations delegation—is that “the claims of historic and spiritual ties between Jews and Palestine are not in agreement with the facts of history or with the true basis of sound statehood.” At the Camp David summit in 2000, then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unsettled President Bill Clinton by denying that there had ever been a Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, has repeatedly lashed out against suggestions that Jews have links to Jerusalem, which is mentioned by name over 600 times in the Jewish Bible.

Palestinian attempts to erase or cast doubt on the well-established historical connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish faith, which The New York Times noted last year, is a phenomenon that former Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold has described as “Temple denial.” Days after the Times report, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that the Temple Mount has been the site of a mosque “since the creation of the world” and that it never housed a Jewish temple, despite ample evidence to the contrary.

Democratic congressman: UNESCO exists in “alternate universe” with unicorns but no Jews


Rep. Ted Lieu (D – Calif.), an Air Force veteran and a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, harshly criticized the vote by UNESCO, the UN’s cultural organization, to approve a resolution that did not acknowledge Jewish and Christian connections to Jewish holy places in Jerusalem.

Lieu released a statement on Sunday accusing the organization of living in an “alternate universe…where you will see unicorns and flying dragons,” but no Jews or Christians.

The statement reads: “Many people have told me that they have heard the following greeting upon entering the alternate reality known as UNESCO: Welcome to UNESCO, where we live in the land of make believe. The ‘S’ in our name actually stands for science fiction. We at UNESCO don’t care about historical facts and some of our members are rabidly anti-Semitic and anti-Christian. That’s why we at UNESCO like to pass bigoted resolutions, such as this silly one that revises history and denies the known Jewish and Christian connections to the Temple Mount. Please visit our alternate universe often, where you will see unicorns and flying dragons. But in the UNESCO alt-reality, you won’t encounter any Jews or Christians because they don’t exist.”

The vote was also criticized by outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, and nearly 40 other members of Congress. The U.S. was one of only six countries to vote against the resolution, along with Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the UK.


African nations are eager to pursue business and diplomatic ties with Israel, a spokesman for the Ivory Coast’s ruling political party said Wednesday. He was in Jerusalem attending the 37th annual Feast of Tabernacles gathering, which has drawn 5,000 Christian pilgrims from some 90 countries as well as political officials from around the world. The event was hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which calls itself a “worldwide, non-profit ministry of Christian supporters of Israel.” Many African countries that have traditionally backed the Arabs in international fora have turned toward Israel in the wake of much of the chaos gripping the Arab world. The organization stated, “Even leaders of Muslim-majority African nations have expressed their strong interest in restoring relations with the Jewish state – a message we have faithfully conveyed to Israeli officials.” Its executive director, Jürgen Bühler, said, “There is a possibility to change voting patterns [in the UN], even from countries who have been against Israel for decades.” Indeed, Cameroon, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Togo all abstained from voting on the anti-Israel UNESCO resolution that was passed last week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has placed an emphasis on effectuating such a shift. Israel has been conducting intensive diplomatic efforts with African countries this year. Netanyahu convened a summit with at least 15 leaders and representatives of African nations at the UN last month. He “told his interlocutors that he believes that Israel could be an amazing partner for their countries. He said that technology changes everything, including in communications, medicine, agriculture and education. He noted that Israel wants to share its technology with African countries.” When Netanyahu, his wife Sara, and Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon went to an event titled “’Israeli Technology and Innovation for Africa,” they were welcomed with a standing ovation and the blowing of a shofar.

Netanyahu visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia this summer. The Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break. Israel has a long history of sharing its expertise with African countries. The Israeli prime minister has made it a priority to strengthen Israel’s commercial, diplomatic, and security relations with African countries.


Following the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Taiwan in February and killed 117 people, Israel has decided to donate 117 “earthquake-proof” tables. The first batch of 60 tables has already been delivered to the people of Tainan, Taiwan’s oldest city and the epicenter of the earthquake. Israel’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design explained to The Jerusalem Post, “During earthquakes, it is generally recommended to duck under a sturdy desk in order to increase the likelihood of ending up in a ‘survivable void space,’ and thereby escape flying debris if a building collapses.”

“The gift of 117 earthquake tables to the children of Tainan is a wonderful example of the way design can contribute to the safety of children and enhance friendship between people,” said Professor Ido Bruno, a professor at Bezalel whose student Arthur Brutter designed the tables. “I am proud that we are educating our students to look at the many ways they can improve people’s lives, not only the rich and powerful, but rather the vast majority of people who need simple, trustworthy, accessible design solutions they can afford.”


Israel’s envoy to Taiwan, Asher Yarden, cancelled a celebration for Israel’s Independence Day in May so the funds could instead be allocated to buy the tables. Each table can provide shelter for up to two students.


The Israeli Tourism Ministry has stepped up marketing campaigns in India and China, hoping to increase the numbers of incoming travelers from these major emerging markets for tourism. Some 40,000 Indians and 47,000 Chinese visited Israel during 2015. While still a drop in the pan in terms of potential – about 20 million Indians and 120 million Chinese vacationed overseas in 2015 – the number of visitors from India and China is rising by 10-13% from year to year, according to the Tourism Ministry. “Breaking into the large Asian market — in particular China and India — is one of the main objectives set by the Tourism Ministry,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who hopes to attract 100,000 visitors per year from each country by 2018. In August, the Tourism Ministry launched its first major TV advertising campaign in India, under the slogan: “On most vacations, you take a trip. But in Israel, you take a journey.” The two-month, $1.6 million campaign – which includes social media as well as print and broadcast media spots — portrays Israel as not just a destination but rather an experience in history, culture and a contemporary lifestyle. (via Israel21c)

Iran sentences Iranian-Americans to 10 years in prison


Iran sentenced Iranian-American Samiak Namazi and his father Baquer to 10 years in prison on charges of “cooperating with the hostile American government,” the Mizan news agency, which is controlled by the Iranian judiciary, announced Tuesday.

Samiak Namazi, a businessman who advocated for closer ties between the U.S. and Iran, was arrested last year. His lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, told Reuters in February that he had not received permission to meet with his client, and that Namazi was not aware of the charges against him. Baquer, a former UNICEF representative and provincial governor before the Islamic Revolution, was detained in February and also denied access to a lawyer, Baquer’s wife told CBS. Three other people were also named in the conviction announcement: two people identified by the initials F.H.A. and A.A., and Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born American permanent resident. Zakka, an internet freedom activist, disappeared last September after attending a conference in Tehran at the invitation of one of Iran’s vice presidents.

On Monday, a day before the announcement, Mizan released a video that contained the first footage of Siamak Namazi since his arrest, in what the Associated Press called “a taunting challenge to the United States in the wake of the nuclear deal with Tehran.” The footage includes images of detained American sailors on their knees after they were taken prisoner by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in January.

Iran has a history of arresting dual nationals, which it does not recognize, meaning that the individuals cannot receive consular assistance; the number reached six in July, which, according to Reuters, comprised “the highest number of Iranians with dual-nationality detained at one time in recent years to have been acknowledged.” One more dual national, a former member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, was arrested in August. Many analysts believe that Iran is “seeking concessions from the West in exchange for releasing” dual nationals, the Associated Press wrote that month.


UNESCO’s executive board ratified a resolution that denied Jewish and Christian historical ties to Jerusalem on Tuesday, while Mexico announced that it wanted to change its stance on the resolution, for which it voted in favor last Thursday. Haaretz reported that Mexico decided to alter its position “due to the position being offensive and biased against the Jewish people and their historic connection to Israel.” Brazil, which also voted in favor, said that it was supportive of the Mexican statement. On Monday night, Mexico had expressed its intention to trigger another vote on the resolution to register its new stance, but was ultimately pressured not to do so. Mexico “noted for the record that its position on the matter was one of abstention,” The Jerusalem Post reported, although this does not technically change the tally from the vote last week.

In its initial statement, the Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a document reading, “Changing the vote reiterates the recognition that the government of Mexico gives to the undeniable link between the Jewish people and the cultural heritage in East Jerusalem…It also reflects the deep appreciation that this government has for the Jewish community and in particular for its significant contributions to the welfare and economic, social and cultural development of Mexico.”

Mexico’s ambassador to UNESCO Andres Roemer walked out in protest last Thursday against his country’s decision to vote in favor of the text. The Mexican Foreign Ministry said in its statement on Tuesday that he would be replaced as ambassador, and an investigation would be opened “to ascertain and determine the responsibilities of the officials involved in this issue.”


Israel is set to assist Egypt in a series of large-scale economic projects, indicating continuing improved relations between the two countries, Ynetnews reported Tuesday. According to the report, one of the major projects will include the “desalinization of seawater to address concerns over water levels in the Nile River, which could lead to a dramatic shortage of water available for drinking and irrigation.” Israel is a pioneer in desalination and has, according to The New York Times, “become the world leader in recycling and reusing wastewater for agriculture. It treats 86 percent of its domestic wastewater and recycles it for agricultural use — about 55 percent of the total water used for agriculture. Spain is second to Israel, recycling 17 percent of its effluent, while the United States recycles just 1 percent.” Other areas in which the Israelis will lend a hand to the Egyptians are “solar energy, electricity production, agriculture, irrigation and gas.”

Israeli-Egyptian relations have been warming under the leadership of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The two countries share mutual defense concerns, particularly Hamas and ISIS’ Sinai branch, which coordinate activities: Hamas finances ISIS, trains its fighters in planting deadly IEDs and firing lethal anti-tank missiles, and smuggles weaponry across the border from Gaza into Sinai.

A textbook introduced in the spring semester this year by the Egyptian government puts Israeli-Egyptian peace in a much more positive light than previous editions, asking ninth graders to memorize the terms of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 and to explain the “advantages of peace for Egypt and the Arab states.” Previous textbooks would barely mention Israel when referring to the peace treaty. Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said of this development, “We view this as very positive. It is an extremely important demonstration of good will. We hope it will have a positive impact on younger generations as we look ahead at the next years and decades.”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry defended Israeli policies to a group of high schoolers in Cairo in August and visited Israel the previous month to offer his government’s assistance in restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The visit marked the first time an Egyptian foreign minister had visited Israel since 2007. Also that month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin attended a reception at Egypt’s embassy in Tel Aviv in honor of Egypt’s National Day.


Alon Moreshet is excited about the beta launch of his startup Guiderr, an online platform matching travelers with local tour guides who share their interests. The concept could not have become a reality, he says, without free legal assistance from the IDC Legal Clinic for Start-Ups. The first clinic of its kind in Israel has a unique social twist: It gives priority to social ventures and to entrepreneurs from underserved populations such as new immigrants, women, residents of peripheral areas, minorities (ultra-orthodox Jews, Arabs and Druze) and people from low socio-economic backgrounds. Started two years ago at IDC Herzliya, a private university, the clinic is recruiting its third batch of clients until October 20. Services are provided by 18 selected third-and fourth-year law students under the supervision of attorney Assaf Ben-David. Two partner law firms — Barnea & Co. and Pearl-Cohen — give additional pro-bono assistance if needed. Additional online services soon will include a new mentor program and document templates downloadable for free or at subsidized rates. About a year ago, Moreshet saw a Facebook ad for the clinic’s informational event for early-stage startups. He went and got helpful tips from representatives of six law firms, and then applied for a spot in the clinic. (via Israel21c)

Mexico’s UNESCO ambassador considers resignation over Jerusalem vote


When UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, approved a resolution on Thursday that denied Jewish and Christian historical ties to Jerusalem, Mexico’s ambassador to UNESCO Andres Roemer walked out in protest against his country’s decision to vote in favor of the text. He contemplated resigning his post but was discouraged from doing so by his Israeli counterpart Carmel Shama HaCohen.


“It was personally moving to see you leave the room during the vote in order to actively avoid the vote against your conscience,” HaCohen wrote in a letter to Roemer. “Moreover, I found your consideration to resign from your post as pre-matured and rushed. I am sure that you will be a great asset to Mexico and a friend to Israel.”


Numerous congressional leaders, as well as White House officials, have expressed deep dismay over the Jerusalem decision. “One-sided, unhelpful resolutions have been a recurring challenge at UNESCO in recent years, and the United States has strongly opposed these resolutions at the UNESCO Executive Board,” a senior Obama administration official told The Jerusalem Post. A bipartisan letter signed by 39 members of Congress criticized the resolution for “attempting to erase the Jewish and Christian connection to this sacred city” which would “further damage the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”


“Yesterday’s actions are only the most recent display of long-running bias against the Jewish state by the organization you will soon lead,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) wrote in a letter to incoming UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Since its founding in 2006, the U.N. Human Rights Council has adopted 135 resolutions targeting specific countries. Sixty-eight of these have been directed against Israel, comprising more that 50% of the body’s work. In the past four years, the U.N. General Assembly has adopted 97 resolutions chastising specific nations. Eighty-three of these have targeted Israel, over 85% percent of the total.” Roskam said that the resolution “flies in the face of history, archaeology, science, and reason.”


The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels may have fired missiles at U.S. Navy vessels operating off the coast of Yemen over the weekend, according to American defense officials. U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said that it appeared that American ships “have come under attack in the Red Sea, again from coastal defense cruise missiles from the coast of Yemen.” The Pentagon declined on Monday, however, to say whether or not missiles had definitively been fired: “We are still assessing the situation. There are still some aspects to this that we are trying to clarify for ourselves given the threat – the potential threat – to our people.”

Last Wednesday, U.S. Navy vessels destroyed three Houthi-controlled radar sites with missile strikes authorized by President Barack Obama. The strikes came just two days after the Houthis fired two missiles at the USS Mason, which was traveling north of the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, where it was “conducting routine operations in international waters,” in the words of Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis. The missiles did not hit the ship and no American sailors were injured. The U.S. Navy destroyer was deployed off the Yemeni coast after a ship from the United Arab Emirates was struck and severely damaged by Houthi rockets there two weeks ago. The day after the American strike, Iran dispatched two warships to the Gulf of Aden.

The Yemeni government announced a 72-hour ceasefire with a possible extension last Monday; the Saudi government had previously expressed its support for a ceasefire provided that the Houthis also agreed to it.

The Houthis seized control of the Yemeni government in 2015, prompting a military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries. The United Nations has identified Yemen as a “humanitarian crisis,” reporting that more than 10,000 people, including 3,800 civilians, were killed between March 2015 and August 2016.

The Houthis, whose logo reads in Arabic “God is great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam,” have received arms—including missiles—and training from Iran. American, French, and Australian vessels have intercepted weapons shipments from Iran on their way to the Houthi rebels. After the capture of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in 2014, Iranian parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani, who is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, boasted that Iran now controlled four Arab capitals, the other three being Damascus, Baghdad, and Beirut.

Secretary of State John Kerry has previously expressed his concern about Iranian missiles being delivered to the Houthis, and then being fired over the border into Saudi territory.


The Israel Democracy Institute’s October monthly survey shows that Israel’s Arab community has a positive outlook for the new year, which just started in Israel about two weeks ago. Most Arab Israelis were even more optimistic than their Jewish counterparts.

More than 50% of Arabs expect Israel’s overall situation to be “much better than last year” or “a little better than last year” as compared with only around 20% of Jews. The gap remains wide in the socioeconomic domain, where 42.6% of Arabs predict Israel’s situation will improve—double the number of Jews who think so. Arab Israelis also outnumbered Jews by 3:1 on the question if disputes between different parts of the public will be better.

Trends show Arab Israelis increasingly assimilating into Israeli society—most recently in education. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of Arab Israeli teachers in Israel’s state schools rose by 40%. The result is largely the product of a government-sponsored initiative to integrate more Arab Israeli teachers into public schools. Likewise, the number of Arab Israelis attending universities is trending upwards, and 14.4% of Israel’s bachelor degree students were Arab in 2015—an extremely high success rate considering the country’s population is around 20% Arab.


Thanks to its unique position at the crossroads of three continents, Israel boasts a soaring birdlife that delights ornithological beginners and experienced birders alike. “Israel is a meeting of zoo-topical zones, so in this small country you can see a high diversity of species which are represented in Europe, Asia and Africa,” Jonathan Meyrav, tourism director of Israeli Ornithological Center, tells ISRAEL21c. “Our specialties are some of our desert birds like MacQueen’s bustard, five species of sandgrouse, and the Syrian serin, which is a bird that breeds only in the mountains of Syria, Lebanon and Israel. We also have two very rare night species — the desert tawny owl and the Nubian nightjar. These two have a very small distribution and Israel is the best place in the world to see them.” The two migration festivalsHula Valley Birds Festival, which begins on November 20th this year, and Eilat Birds Festival in spring — when some 500 million birds fly over Israel, are the most popular times for birders to visit. During these peak times, birders can catch sight of 150 to 200 species of birds. (via Israel21c)