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Western Strike on Syrian Chemical Sites Isolates Israel Against Iranian-Russian Axis

By DEBKAfile

The US-allied strikes in Syria have heightened Israel's apprehension about being left alone to face a possible Iranian reprisal for the T-4 strike. That Israel's forces are on higher alert than ever on its northern borders with Syria and Lebanon – days before its independence anniversary celebrations – is a measure of this apprehension. The US, British and French surgical missile strikes on three Syrian chemical sites on Saturday, April 14, it was realized in Jerusalem, not only missed addressing Israel's security concerns but exacerbated them.

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, Iran's Middle East commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah had every reason to breathe a sigh of relief when they heard the Trump administration's assurance that further military action would be forthcoming only if Assad repeated his use of chemical weapons after the Douma atrocity. After an anxious couple of weeks, all three saw they were off the hook for further US military action, whether against regime targets in Damascus, Iranian, Shiite and Hizbullah forces in Syria – or even acts of aggression against Israel.

Nasrallah was the first to openly rejoice. On Sunday, he put the new situation in a nutshell: "Western strikes on Syria had failed to terrorize the army, help insurgents or even serve Israel's interests."

His assessment was confirmed by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, in a Fox TV Sunday interview: Asked when US troops would be pulled out of Syria as President Donald Trump had promised, she outlined the administration's three goals before this drawdown: a total end of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian war; complete defeat and destruction of the Islamic State.

But on the third goal, the ambassador's otherwise crisp delivery turned vague: She said: "And he wanted to make sure that we had good grounds to watch what Iran was doing and they weren't making a lot of aggressive headway in terms of that, because Iran is a national threat to American interests." Not a word did Haley have to say on the threat posed by Iran's military presence in Syria, although that is of the greatest concern to Israel's security.

Therefore, when Trump said he would leave Syria "to others," he apparently included Israel (and Jordan), who would be left to face up to the threats posed to their borders on their own. Jordan's King Abdullah will soon make tracks to Damascus and seek security guarantees from Assad, rather than facing a fight to defend his border, Israel, however, is left with diminished US support in Syria, whereas Iran and its minions, can count on ramped up Russian backing.

The Trump administration's decision to impose fresh sanctions on Russian entities mixed up in supplying Syria with materials for manufacturing chemical weapons moved the conflict into economic channels. This will have the effect of tightening the collaboration between Moscow and Tehran and give them a greater incentive for sanctions-busting.

Already, deepening Russian-Iranian collaboration in Syria is giving Israeli leaders sleepless nights. Iranian, Syrian and Hizbullah officers work together in the field, share bases and coordinate their operations. And now, Tehran has just given Moscow permission to position Russian heavy strategic Tu-95 and Tu-22M bombers for operations in Syria at the Artesh's Shahid Nojeh Air Base in the western Iranian province of Hamedan. Israel has yet to discover how Moscow is compensating Tehran for this advantage. Clearly, Iran will have exacted payment in military coin to serve its well-known goals.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday: "The Lebanese army has joined Hizbullah, the Syrian army and the foreign Shiite militias under Iranian command in Syria to build a cohesive warfront along Israel's northern borders. This presents us with a strategic challenge of the highest degree. " He called for "a comprehensive rallying of the IDF and all security bodies to further ramp up and strengthen our readiness," to confront this challenge. The minister spoke at an event toasting Israel's Independence anniversary on Thursday.

German Newspaper Accuses Jews of `Settling Arab Land' in Israel

By United with Israel

A popular German weekly has been reprimanded by an Israeli embassy spokeswoman for a rather obvious error in their lead article last week, the Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

Adi Farjon took to Twitter on Thursday after seeing the cover story, called, "Israel at 70: Why is There No Quiet in This Country?" What triggered her criticism was the part of the article's subheading, however, which stated, "Once upon a time, Jews from all over the world settled in Arab lands. They simply created facts from which the state of Israel grew." Farjon's reaction? "@zeitonline friendly reminder: Jews have been living in this land since the time of King David, King Solomon and Jesus."

Considering Twitter's limits on numbers of characters in a message, this was a necessarily very short history lesson. Another could have gone even further back, reminding the paper that the Bible clearly states that God gave the land of Israel to the first Jew, Abraham and that Joshua conquered it with the tribes of Israel in the 13th century BCE.

Certainly, the only time this area of the Middle East could possibly have been called "Arab lands" was when the Muslims conquered the Holy Land from the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century, a period that lasted only some 450 years.

Another body that was angered by the important omissions in the article was the Anne Frank Educational Center, which is located in the city of Frankfurt am Main in Germany, where the famous diarist was born. According to the report, the center also posted a message to Twitter, castigating Die Zeit that "historical background of the founding of Israel is not mentioned [nor] centuries-old anti-Semitism & the Shoah."

Die Zeit claims a readership of 2 million people, with 500,000 subscribers. It was established soon after World War II, in 1946, and is considered to be a centrist paper, politically speaking.

PA Writer: Jews Colluded with Hitler


A Palestinian Arab writer and political analyst last week openly denied the Holocaust and claimed that Jews "colluded with Hitler." The comments by Hani Abu Zeid came in an interview which aired on April 10 on the official Palestinian Authority TV channel and was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute). "They used to cry about the false Holocaust in the days of Hitler, the scope of which was not that large," said Abu Zeid.

The host added that it was "a lie that they spread worldwide," and Abu Zeid agreed, saying. "Yes, it was a lie, and many Israelis, or many Jews, colluded with Hitler so that he would facilitate the bringing of settlers to Palestine."

Abu Zeid also said, "The [Israeli] soldier, the officers behind him, and even the Israeli war [sic] minister, and above him, Netanyahu should stand trial as war criminals. The accumulation of cases, one after the other... The Israelis will end up shedding tears of blood [out of regret] for their current conduct."

Holocaust denial and distortion, including admiration of Hitler, is a regular occurrence among Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah leaders, as Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) exposed just several days ago. In addition to 31 PA schools named after terrorists, PMW exposed that the PA has also named three schools after Nazi collaborators: One school was a result named after Nazi collaborator and war criminal Amin Al-Husseini and two others named after Nazi collaborator Hassan Salameh.

Amin Al-Husseini was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the time of the British Mandate. During World War II he moved to Berlin, where he collaborated with the Nazis and was an associate of Hitler. Al-Husseini was responsible for a Muslim SS division that murdered thousands of Serbs and Croats and was on Yugoslavia's list of wanted Nazi war criminals. When the Nazis offered to free 5,000 Jewish children, Al-Husseini fought against their release which caused 5,000 children to be sent to the gas chambers.

In 2016, PA cabinet leader Rami Hamdallah openly called to follow the path of Al-Husseini, referring to him as "the pure-hearted son" of the "Palestinian nation."

Rabbinical Court Frees Woman from Abusive Marriage

By the Jerusalem Post

A Jewish woman forced into a child-marriage with an adult male as a girl, abused and nearly killed, is now free to build a new life for herself thanks to the work of the Tel Aviv Rabbinical court and the Agunot Section. The Agunot Section is a semi-secret section of the court that tracks down men who systematically refuse to comply with the Jewish divorce process - making the woman an Aguna, literally, a woman who is chained down, the news site Kipa reported Monday.

The woman was forced into the marriage as a child in Yemen in 1993 and the man she wed was abusive to the point of attempting to kill her. In a complex operation involving the Jewish Agency, the woman and her six children were able to escape from Yemen to the US and from there to Israel.

The Agunot Section attempted to communicate with the husband, who converted to Islam, but the Houthi surge of 2014, which led to the Shi'a led party taking over great parts of north Yemen, made communications with the husband impossible. Eventually, the case was brought to Rabbi Aviran Yitzhak HaLevi who decided to investigate the matter using the guiding principles of Jewish religious law and the reality of Jewish life in modern Yemen.

Based on this work, the rabbi ruled that the marriage is nullified as the woman was forced and did not give her consent, the man converted to Islam and the witnesses were not legally able to meet the requirement of Jewish witnesses in a marriage. The rabbi wrote that "The lady [is as a] single woman and may marry whomever she pleases, including a Kohen, and her status is as a woman who had never been married before." Kohanim are forbidden in orthodox Jewish practice from marrying women who are divorced.

The Agunot Section, created in 2011 by Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, takes on cases from around the world in which Jewish men vanish and leave their wives and children in the dark. The unit tracks these men down and attempts to persuade them to consent to the divorce process as the plight of women who are Agonut is seen as a terrible thing which must be solved by religious Jewish communities.

Israel Successfully Reaching Arab World Through Digital Diplomacy

By United with Israel

With content viewed more than 220 million times in 2017, Israel is using social media to change the way the Arab world perceives the Jewish state. Israel's Arabic Language Digital Diplomacy team is changing perspectives about Israel in the Arab world and is creating greater possibilities for peace in the region, one post at a time.

This success can be measured by the more than 1.5 million Arabic speakers from 22 Arab countries, who follow Israel in Arabic on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, with content viewed more than 220 million times in 2017. In the last year alone, the number of "Israel in Arabic" Facebook followers have grown by more than 47%. Before social media, encounters between the Arab public and Israel were rare and few, as many Arab countries do not maintain diplomatic ties with Israel. However, today, the Arabic Language Digital Diplomacy team shares Israel's message of diversity, peace, and coexistence with millions of Arabs around the world.

Israel in Arabic shares information related to current political and security developments, but its main purpose is to use social media to share a side of Israel that is seldom shown in the Arab. It achieves this goal by providing followers with a wealth of information and video content, covering a myriad of aspects of Israeli history, politics, culture, and society. The Digital Diplomacy Arabic Language team uses a number of creative and interactive approaches to share content with users, including infographics, videos, photographs and caricatures.

By focusing on topics such as Israeli cuisine, music, and innovation, Israel in Arabic portrays Israel in all its vibrancy. The material is having a positive effect on the way Israel is perceived. The Israel in Arabic team also opens a window to Israel, by highlighting the human face of Israeli society. Israel in Arabic frequently features the personal stories of Israelis from a large range of religious and cultural backgrounds, celebrating Israel's diverse population.

These digital encounters are an important and meaningful step in establishing mutual respect between Israelis and Arabs and can serve as building blocks for creating peace in the region. While the Israel MFA maintains more than 800 online channels in 50 languages, the Arabic language team faces a complex and diverse set of challenges that differ from many of the other channels. One of these challenges is sharing Israel's story with a population that has been traditionally hostile towards Israel.

The Arabic language team has created content that shares Israel's perspectives through elements and themes that resonate with the Arab community. As an example, Israel in Arabic frequently uses caricatures, a medium which is very popular in the Arab world, to convey Israel's position on a variety of political issues. One caricature, which referred to Hamas' indoctrination of Palestinian children, became so viral, that the terrorist organization shared and responded to the caricature via their official Twitter account. These kinds of posts are created by Israel in Arabic's small team of editors, reporters, translators, and graphic designers, who are fluent in Arabic and have a deep understanding of Arab culture and society.

Many of the team's members come from families who immigrated to Israel from Arab countries. Linda Menuhin, the team's senior consultant, was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, and immigrated to Israel at the age of 20. The team's personal connection to the Arabic language and culture, allows them to create engaging and unique content that appeals to a large range of followers.

Israel in Arabic aims to bridge gaps between Israel and the Arab world by emphasizing the religious, linguistic, and historical roots that have connected Jews and Arabs for centuries. One of the most successful examples of this is a series called Din and Hassan in which Din a Jewish Israeli, and Hassan a Muslim Israeli, teach Arabic followers Hebrew. The series was created after the team received numerous requests from individuals interested in learning Hebrew.

Israel in Arabic also focuses on the deep influence that Arabic culture has had and continues to have on Israeli society. The Israel in Arabic channels frequently features Israelis who grew up in Arab countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria and maintain fond memories and cultural ties to their countries of origin.

One of the main goals of the Israel in Arabic channels is to create an open and direct dialogue with millions of Arabs around the world and communicate Israel's desire to live in peace. Social media has completely revolutionized Israel's ability to communicate with millions of Arabs around the world and to speak directly to the Arab public.

One of the main principles that guide the team is the importance of maintaining an open, free and vibrant dialogue with followers. The team's efforts to engage followers have had a profound effect on their success at reaching millions of Arabs around the world. Comments on posts generate more comments, which then appear on additional news feeds, allowing Israel's message of peace to reverberate in the Arab digital sphere.

Another sign that points to Israel in Arabic's success at sharing Israel's story with the Arab public are the responses from radical organizations who have taken notice of the Arabic language team's activity. Hamas recently posted a message on its official website warning Gaza residents against liking the Israel in Arabic Facebook page and to be wary of the "new ways" that Israel is using to "bring down residents."

Memorial Day Ceremony in English to be Broadcast Worldwide

By Israel Hayom

Israel's only English-language ceremony marking Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism will be livestreamed for the first time this year and is expected to be watched by Jewish communities and in Jewish schools around the world.

The English-language ceremony is organized by the Jewish Agency's Masa project, which brings Jewish youth to Israel to train as community leaders. Some 7,000 Jewish youths and community leaders are expected to participate in this year's event, to be held on Tuesday evening at the Yad Lashiryon armored corps memorial site at Latrun, outside Jerusalem. Simultaneous translations into French, Spanish and Russian will be provided. The Masa Facebook page will carry a live feed of the event. |

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