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Netanyahu:" We Are Already Moving to Prevent an Iranian Military Foothold in Syria

By DEBKAfile & World Israel News

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told reporters Monday evening, after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow:" Israel will not tolerate Iranian high-precision missiles [in Lebanon and Syria], and if need be, we will strike them in Lebanon."

As for an Iranian foothold in Syria, Netanyahu said that Israel is at a crossroads: "Is Iran establishing a military presence there or is this process being cut short? I said to Putin that if it is not, it will be up to us to do this. In fact, we are already taking action in this regard."

Netanyahu met Putin in the Russian capital on Monday for two hours of talks, with Iran first and foremost on the agenda. "This meeting occurred while there is a watershed change in Syria," he explained. "Will Iran establish itself in Syria or will this process be stopped? If it is not halted on its own, then we will act to stop it."

Netanyahu was directing his cautionary statement to the one person who is perhaps most able to influence Iran on the subject, as their joint interest in propping up the Assad regime in Syria has made allies of Moscow and Tehran. In fact, as a clear symbol of its growing influence in the region, Putin is set to host a two-day Syrian "congress of national dialogue" soon in the southern Russian city of Sochi as the civil war in that country winds down in Assad's favor thanks to Russian and Iranian-backed forces.

Throughout its military campaign in Syria, however, Russia has maintained good ties with Israel, with the two countries' air forces establishing close communications to avoid clashes when Israel would bomb weapons convoys to Hizbullah or other targets in Syria.

The other major topic of conversation was Lebanon. Here, the Israeli prime minister presented Putin with information on Iran's activities that could directly endanger the Jewish state. "[T]he threat of precision weapons against Israel is a serious threat that we are not willing to accept and if we have to act, we will act," Netanyahu said, without going into detail.

Netanyahu was referring to Iran's military buildup in Lebanon, part of which consists of the Tehran regime's plans to build missile factories in the country while consolidating its presence there. Several senior Israeli officials have recently warned Lebanon against this move, with IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, in an article published in Arab media, calling Sunday upon the citizens of Lebanon to prevent an Iranian takeover of their country.

Possibly referring to the recent marking of International Holocaust Day on January 27th, the prime minister stated firmly, "We will stand before them [Iran] with all our might. There will not be another Holocaust." According to Netanyahu, the Russians "fully understand our position and the seriousness with which we view such threats."


'We Can destroy the Israeli Army,' Hizbullah Threatens

By Israel Hayom

Hizbullah on Monday dismissed an Israeli defense official's call to the Lebanese people to oppose Iran's tightening grip on the country, calling it "nonsense."

In an unusual move, opposition-affiliated media in Lebanon published an article on Sunday written by IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, in which he warned the Lebanese people against becoming a pawn in Iran's attempts to gain influence in the Middle East, a process he said would "turn Lebanon into a powder keg."

Manelis criticized what he called "Lebanese authorities' acquiescence and the willingness of many in the international community to turn a blind eye" to Iran having "turned Lebanon into one big missile factory. This goes beyond weapons shipments, funding or counseling. Iran has set up a new de facto branch, the 'Lebanese branch,' right here." He stressed that while Israel wants to maintain calm along its shared border with Lebanon, the IDF remains ready to counter any provocation or flare-up that may erupt.

The article appears to have caused a stir in Lebanon, including among members of Hizbullah, whose officials rushed to dismiss Manelis' assertions as "the kind of nonsense and provocation published only by cowards."

Mohammad Raad, a member of the Shiite terrorist group's Shura Council, which operates in an advisory capacity, warned Israel against "doing something foolish that could spell war. That will be destructive for it [Israel]." Hizbullah "is stronger today and it has capabilities that can destroy the Israeli army," he said. "Today Israel is regionally and internationally isolated. The media spin it [Israel] churns out is an attempt to cover up the panic, because it wants to present itself as strong."


Israel, Poland Agree to Jointly Formulate Holocaust Legislation

By World Israel News

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday spoke by telephone with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in wake of the bill recently passed by the Polish parliament that prohibits any references to Polish involvement in the Holocaust. The move angered Israelis across the political spectrum and elicited much criticism from groups around the world. The two leaders agreed that teams from both countries would open an immediate dialogue in order to try and reach understandings regarding the legislation.

The bill, passed by the lower house of the Polish parliament on Friday, specifies prison time for those who `defame' Poland by using phrases such as "Polish death camps" when referring to Auschwitz and other Nazi-run death camps located in Poland during World War II. The bill still needs approval from Poland's Senate and President Andrzej Duda before becoming law.

Netanyahu rejected the bill as "baseless." Israeli President Reuven Rivlin slammed it as an attempt at "fake history." The timing of the bill, on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was marked on Saturday, was "particularly surprising and unfortunate," the Foreign Ministry stated.

"The legislation will not help further the exposure of historical truth and may harm freedom of research, as well as prevent discussion of the historical message and legacy of World War II," the statement said, adding that Israel expects the Polish government to change the wording of the bill before its final adoption and to conduct a dialogue with Israel on the subject.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting, Kozlowski said the intent of the legislation was not to "whitewash" history. It is already a crime in Poland to deny that the Holocaust happened. "It is to safeguard it, to safeguard the truth about the Holocaust and to prevent its distortion," he said of the proposed legislation.

However, Polish legislators said that they would oppose any changing of the bill's text. "We will not change any provisions in the bill," said Beata Mazurek, spokeswoman for the ruling conservative-nationalist Law and Justice party, "We have had enough of Poland and Poles being blamed for German crimes."

The Polish prime minister on Sunday night compared Poles and Jews to two families who lived in the same house, Poland, before the war and were both victimized by the Nazis. In a post on Twitter, Morawiecki said: "A gang of professional thugs enters a two-family house. They kill the first family almost entirely. They kill the parents of the second, torturing the kids. They loot and raze the house. Could one, in good conscience, say that the second family is guilty for the murder of the first?"

Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial also warned against trying to change history. "Restrictions on statements by scholars and others regarding the Polish people's direct or indirect complicity with the crimes committed on their land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion," it said in a statement.

Some experts fear the new Polish law could also mean jail for Holocaust survivors when talking about their ordeals. Poland was home to one of the world's most thriving Jewish populations before Nazi Germany invaded in 1939. It murdered about 3 million Jews in death camps set up in Poland, including such chilling places as Auschwitz and Treblinka.

Holocaust survivors who returned to Poland after the war found themselves victims of further anti-Semitism. Some historians say many Poles collaborated with the Nazis in persecuting Jews. Poland regards itself as having itself been a victim of Nazi terror and resents being blamed for crimes carried out by Hitler and his gang of murderers.

Princeton University Professor Jan Tomasz Gross, an expert on Polish compliance with the Holocaust, has previously stated that Poland's new stance on dissociating itself from the Holocaust is "a step back to the dark ages of anti-Semitism."

The Polish-born sociologist and historian has stoked controversy in Poland with works that expose dark chapters in a wartime history that Poles are otherwise proud of thanks to a strong resistance by Poles to Nazi Germany.

The latest uproar surrounding Gross began after he asserted in 2015 that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during the war. Though the exact numbers are difficult to measure, Gross said evidence indicates that Poles killed up to 30,000 Germans during the war, at most, while they probably killed 70,000 to 90,000 Jews, but possibly more.

Pence's Holocaust Remembrance Tweet Angers Some with `Christ Imagery'

By JTA

Vice President Mike Pence's tweet to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day has angered some Jews who have accused him of using the terms of his evangelical Christian faith to honor the victims.

The tweet posted Saturday included a short video clip showing Pence and his wife, Karen, laying a memorial wreath in Yad Vashem's Hall of Remembrance. "A few days ago, Karen & I paid our respects at Yad Vashem to honor the 6 million Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust who three years after walking beneath the shadow of death, rose up from the ashes to resurrect themselves to reclaim a Jewish future," the vice president's tweet said.

Critics pointed to the use of the terms "martyrs" and "resurrect," calling them "Christ imagery" and a "Jesus analogy."

"Resurrect themselves"? Pence dishonors the memories of the 6 million by coopting them for the political agenda of his evangelical base," Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe tweeted.

Journalist Matthew Yglesias, who is Jewish, tweeted, "I really thought last year's thing where they left out the Jews was a Holocaust Remembrance Day low point, but Pence has taken this to new places in an amazing way."

Central to Christian theology is the belief that Jesus was resurrected three days after his martyrdom by the Romans. But Israeli leaders have also used "resurrection" and "martyr" imagery in their statements about the Holocaust, Haaretz pointed out. In 2017, speaking with Holocaust survivors, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu referred to "the story of our people climbing back from the pit of death — this is our story of rebirth."

Jewish Autocorrect Fails: An Inventory

By Kate Bigam (70 Faces Media)

Ahhh, technology! Smartphones have inarguably streamlined and enhanced our communications — but so, too, have they created lots of opportunities for disastrous and hilarious miscommunications. Who among us hasn't responded to a funny text with "gag" instead of "haha"? And who ever means to write "ducking"?

Yes, autocorrect provides plenty of frustration — but just as many gems. Case in point: My cousin once invited me to meet his "old wombats." He meant "roommates," but I've saved a screencap of that conversation for years just for the laughs.

For Members of the Tribe, autocorrect presents a special challenge: typing Hebrew and Yiddish phrases. Smart as our smartphones may be, they've not yet mastered the art of multiculturalism. While my iPhone can manage "Shabbat shalom," just about everything else in the Jewish realm is beyond its capabilities.

When I type: Mazal tov ("congratulations"), my phone autocorrects to: Nasal tic. When I type: Rosh Hashanah, my phone autocorrects to: Roush has Hannah. One of the holiest days of the Jewish year, and my iPhone has the nerve to make it sound like some sort of hostage situation. (To be fair, I guess some people do feel that way about going to services on Rosh Hashanah…)

When I type: Yasher koach ("well done"), my phone autocorrects to: Washer coach. When I type: Mishpocha ("family"), my phone autocorrects to: Mishap has. This feels appropriate, given that family gatherings are, in my experience, often rife with mishaps.

When I type: Nachas ("pride"), my phone autocorrects to: Nachos. In defense of my iPhone, this is an understandable autocorrect, and also, I wish I had more excuses to text about nachos. In fact, eating more nachos would bring me much nachas. New goal?

When I type: Matzah ball, my phone autocorrects to: May she ball. I'm pretty surprised, actually, that my phone doesn't know "matzah." After all, matzah ball soup, while still a darling of the Jewish people, has become just about as widely beloved as bagels and lox. Still, "may she ball" sounds like a kind of awesome blessing, the "Never the less, she persisted" of benedictions. Go forth and ball, ladies.

When I type: Schmutz ("dirt"), my phone autocorrects to: Schnitzel. Autocorrecting one Jewish word into another? I can't even be mad about this one — except that now I'm hungry. (I kindly request no schmutz on my schnitzel, though.)

When I type: Moshiach ("messiah"), my phone autocorrects it to: Mod his home. This has me imagining that the eventual messiah will reside in a very hip and minimally decorated Frank Lloyd Wright mansion.

When I type: Boker tov ("Good morning"), my phone autocorrects to: biker too. Can't forget about those bikers. Good morning to Harley Davidson and Hell's Angels and all the rest of you badasses, as well!

When I type: Refuah sh'leima ("Get well soon"), my phone autocorrects to: Refuse Sharon's. Well, that's kind of rude. Sharon is just trying to send you her well-wishes.

When I type: Mensch ("good person"), my phone autocorrects it to: Men's hair. Fear not, toupeed men of the world! You need not have naturally flowing locks in order to be one of the good guys.

When I type: Shonde ("shame"), my phone autocorrects to: Standard. I suppose this autocorrect is appropriate these days, when every other headline seems to be a shonde. You could even say it's become… standard.

Of course, there's a reverse to this concept, too: when you so frequently text about Jewish concepts that your smartphone becomes smart enough to autocorrect to the Jewy stuff (even when you don't want it to). A few years ago, a friend of mine — now a rabbi — started using a hashtag of her own making — #tragicallyjewish — that has since caught on. Truly, does anything fit into that category better than an experience like this one?

L'hitraot (see you soon), fellow Jewesses — or as my phone would try to make me say instead, "Hit raptors!"


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