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Jerusalem Palestinian Thugs Throw Snow-packed Rocks at Israelis

By DEBKAfile & IsraelNationalNews.com

In different parts of Jerusalem, Palestinians are using winter weather to disguise rocks as snowballs and pelt passers-by on the streets and passing vehicles causing injuries. The city is blanketed in snow which fell heavily for several hours from early Thursday. See http://youtu.be/HmnHkDX_IVQ

The snow that fell in Jerusalem Thursday morning presented dangers to motorists in areas, with the icy conditions making for treacherous driving for Jews and Arabs alike. But Muslim extremists found a way to make use of the snow to threaten Jewish drivers specifically - by coating the rocks they threw at vehicles driven by Jews. Throwing rocks at Jews has become a daily pastime for Muslim youths in certain neighborhoods in the capital in recent years.

Two hareidim who drove through the Beit Hanina neighborhood in northern Jerusalem thought that the white projectiles being hurled at their car were snowballs, and were surprised when they came crashing through their window.

When they subsequently inspected the car they realized that the "snowballs" were rocks packed in snow. As they looked at the damage, they were again attacked by Muslims in what apparently was a planned ambush. They managed to escape without injury and filed a police complaint. Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Likud-Beytenu) promised Wednesday to put an end to the harassment of Jews in Jerusalem.

"We have to stop the phenomenon - and it will stop," Aharonovich said, adding that he was coordinating with the Jerusalem District police to ensure a crackdown on the violence, which has included potentially-fatal mob-attacks and rock-throwing at cars and buses. "Both incidents in which Jews attack Arabs and those in which Arabs attack Jews must be investigated," he declared.

A year ago, a group of Arabs harassed two young hareidi men with snowballs, chasing and kicking them. The scene was videotaped by a participant and reminded many of anti-Semitic Jew-baiting in Nazi Germany – because of the brazen nature of the attack and the helpless response of the Jews.

Roads were closed, school was canceled, and public transportation all but shut down in Jerusalem Thursday morning amid snow and stormy weather. One hundred snow removers, fitted with salt dispersers equipped with 90 tons of salt, were sent in to clear the streets of the capital.

The Central Bus Station was closed and intercity travel was interrupted, with the police recommending that motorists not travel on Route 1, the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. Volunteers from the traffic police have been deployed all along the highway. The Foreign Ministry was closed due to the inclement weather. About 25,000 households lost their electricity Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, a driver who was swept 300 meters by a flash flood in the Negev Desert was rescued by soldiers using ropes. In Be'er Sheva, about 100 trees fell due to the strong winds and municipality workers had to remove the trees from the streets and sidewalks. One family was rescued when their house was flooded by rainwater.

The snow began falling in Jerusalem shortly after sunrise Thursday and thin layers of snow began to form on cars. In elevated neighborhoods such as Gilo, the snow piled up, and residents huddled in bus stops, waiting for buses that had temporarily stopped running. By Thursday night, flurries were reported as low as the settlement of Beit Horon, which at 630 meters above sea level, rarely sees snow fall.

Other parts of the country saw heavy rainfall as the early storm swept through the region, flooding a number of roads. School in Kfar Kara, Um el-Fahm and Rahat were canceled Thursday due to flooding. The IDF's elite 669 search and rescue unit retrieved 10 trapped passengers from a commercial vehicle that was swept away by flood waters in Nahal Gerar, north of Be'er Sheva. The passengers, nine of whom were children, were airlifted to Be'er Sheva's Soroka Medical Center in fair condition.

The stormy weather was expected to persist into the weekend, with snow reaching elevated areas as far south as the Negev Desert on Friday.

"Snow in Jerusalem is a cause for celebration for Jerusalemites and the many visitors who come to see the world's most beautiful city painted white," said Mayor Nir Barkat, who dropped in on the city's public works department to check on preparations for the storm Wednesday. "We hope the snow won't disappoint, especially for Jerusalem's excited children, who are looking forward to it."


Hamas: Israel Engineering an Earthquake Attack on Al-Aqsa

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Ismail Radwan, Minister of Religious Affairs in Gaza's Hamas government, claims that Israel is trying to cause an artificial earthquake to totally collapse the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to Radwan, Israel is attempting to do so to establish the Third Temple.

The comments came at an event organized by female students of the College for Professional Applied Sciences. In response to the supposed "earthquake attack," Radwan called for a general national enlistment to the military, and to support the mosque by having fixed presence at the site.

Radwan said through repeated Jewish access to the Temple Mount, as well as "excavations and criminal acts," the Israeli "occupation" has "arrived at the stage of accustoming Palestinians, Arabs and Muslim to accept the existing reality so as to implement their goals to destroy the mosque and build the supposed Temple."

The minister blamed peace talks and security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as providing cover for the "criminal acts" on the Temple Mount.

Regardless of Hamas's fantastic scenarios, Israel is facing a real earthquake danger. In October, the Home Front Minister MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) warned that a major earthquake is looming that could potentially kill 7,000 Israelis.


Muslim Countries Top List of State-Persecution of Atheists

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Islamic countries top the list of states which routinely discriminate against and persecute atheists and agnostics as well as members of other religions, according to a newly-released report. The 2013 Freethought Report was published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) - an organization of religious skeptics, agnostics, and atheists. The study was released ahead of International Human Rights Day Tuesday, The Huffington Post reported.

The study covers all 192 United Nations member states and its authors consulted with lawyers and human rights experts from those countries to evaluate the state of religious freedom for the irreligious around the world.

The organization claims that the world systemically discriminates against atheists more than it does against any religion, and that the results show a need for more progressive thinking worldwide about extending religious freedom to the "non-spiritual. "

"This report shows that the overwhelming majority of countries fail to respect the rights of atheists and freethinkers although they have signed U.N agreements to treat all citizens equally," said IHEU President Sonja Eggerickx. Rev. Paul Raushenbush, Huffington Post's Senior Religion Editor, claims that explorations of atheism as part of wider discussions about religious freedom will "be one of the big stories of the 21st century."

The study particularly noted the death sentences for atheism in 13 Muslim or Muslim-majority countries: Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Mauritania, Maldives, Somalia, Sudan, and United Arab Emirates. According to Raushenbush, "the countries that have the most egregious fines against atheists are also the ones who are very harsh on people converting away from Islam and to Christianity, or against the Bahai people," and that "this is a big problem."

Riots, murders, and other crimes against non-Muslims are common in Islamic countries - particularly against Christians. Last summer, Egyptian Islamists beheaded and shot two Coptic Christians in the same week, one of them a priest. Syrian rebels also are openly waging war against Christians there, and they reportedly captured a Christian town and murdered resident nuns earlier this month. On the large scale, British think tank Civitas warned in 2012 that Christianity in the Middle East is close to extinction.

Closer to home, Muslim authorities continue to threaten a "religious war" over efforts to equalize prayer rights at the Temple Mount, which is Judaism's holy site.

Sectarian fighting between rival Muslim sects is also on the rise, such as in the Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in Syria and in Iraq. Over the past few years, numerous bombings and executions in Iraq have been linked to Sunni-Shi'ite tensions; the Syrian Civil War has mushroomed from local conflicts to an all-out Islamic holy war, with several Syrian rebel factions of Sunni origin hailing from neighboring countries "in the name of Islam."

The study covers all types and sources of discrimination - not just in Islamic countries. For example, African countries were cited as having particularly severe violations against religious freedom. Muslim countries Libya, Egypt, and Morocco topped the list - as did the Christian nations of Zimbabwe and Eritrea, according to the report.

Even the European Union is suspect; the report names Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Poland as countries with jail sentences for blasphemy, some for as long as three years. The findings are important for Jewish groups, as they coincide with data indicating a significant upswing in anti-Semitism in general and anti-Semitic violence in particular.

Other countries, like India and the US, have "sociocultural issues" with atheism - though not necessarily with freedom of other religions. India is named as problematic for its reluctance to investigate hate crimes against atheists and agnostics, whereas the US is accused of equating "being religious with being American."

The report also lists the "most" and "least" religious countries in the world. According to the study the ten "most religious" are: Ghana, Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji, Macedonia, Romania, Iraq, Kenya, Peru, and Brazil. The "least religious" are: Ireland, Australia, Iceland, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, France, Japan, the Czech Republic, and China.


Haredim Find Love on Reality TV Show

By YnetNews.com

"Match Made in Heaven" is not your average reality show. It is the first ever series in the world which got a revealing look into the very closed and hidden world of matchmaking among ultra-religious Jews, who still use the traditional way of getting to know your future mate.

Israeli Academy Award winner Esti Zakheim, who herself is a reality show graduate after she participated in the last season of "Dancing with the Stars," felt she just had to come to see the show when she heard about its concept. "I thought it's intriguing," she says. "I couldn't believe that there would be a reality series about religious Jews, very ultra-religious, and about matchmaking there.

'Shtisel,' starring Hollywood actress Ayelet Zurer, provides glimpses into the mostly unknown inner world of ultra-Orthodox Jews of Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood. "I think in Israel something about the population and being Jews and Arabs and religious and non-religious, and everything is such an intriguing and interesting mix that in reality can go on forever because all the time you find something different."


Matchmaking is a precious subject in the Orthodox community, according to the producer of the show, Shay Verter, who feels very fortune to have been able to capture it all on camera. "This is a very, very precious subject and they keep it very, very closed and they guard it with much care," he says. "One of the amazing things that people found out through the production was that they are like us, they are normal people that live by very hard and strict codes, but they have feelings, they want to connect, they want to find their soul mate, they want to find 'the one.' I was amazed; those young people, so serious, so mature, so honest and focused on their mission."

Ronnie Kay adds that "the matchmaking has a lot of benefits because it lets you understand who is the compatible person for you, at least on paper, and then if you fall in love that's like an extra bonus. "So like our grandmothers used to tell us, you have to pick and choose someone who will be compatible and not only use your heart, so that's what they're trying to do."

Jaffa Parnes, the matchmaker on the show, admits she wasn't afraid to expose the hidden world of Orthodox Jewish matchmaking on reality TV. "I'm not afraid that everybody will see it because I know that everything is from God, and he makes me to be in this show. So it's a 'shlihut' (mission) and I will do this mitzvah for everybody who wants me to help."

Like with every reality TV project, we wanted to know what happened after the filming ended and how many of the couples eventually got married. "Three of the couples on the show got married," says Kay. "The rest of them are still single, and so am I."

The project, which was financed by Israeli satcaster YES, was filmed over two years and has gotten a lot of international buzz. Several television networks around the globe are now looking into making a localized version about their Jewish communities.


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