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Report: Russian Airstrikes Creep Toward Golan, Rebels Reject Surrender

By the Jerusalem Post

Residents in southern Syria reported an increasing crescendo of air strikes they alleged were by Russian aircraft on Thursday, a day after the Syrian rebels in the south walked away from surrender negotiations. Since mid-June, the Syrian regime and its Russian ally have swept the rebels from a swath of territory, pushing them towards the Jordanian border and Israel's Golan Heights. More than 300,000 people have fled the advance. The Syrian regime and Russian air force have been careful not to carry out air strikes within 10 km. of the 1974 cease-fire line on the Golan. On Wednesday, the Syrian rebels said they walked away from negotiations with Russia about a ceasefire. The rebels said they had come to discuss a cease-fire but found themselves presented with "humiliating" terms, including that they hand over their weapons and stop fighting. The rebels in southern Syria met the Russian delegation in an undisclosed town in southern Syria somewhere near Dara'a. Dara'a is one of the main cities that the Syrian rebellion began in during the 2011 Arab Spring, and it, therefore, holds special significance. It is also just a few kilometers from the Jordanian border. Although the rebels have been chased out of many towns and villages in the last weeks, they have held on to part of Dara'a and a corridor that runs along the Jordanian border and then up towards the Golan. After the rebels rejected what amounted to surrender terms, the air strikes by Russia and the Syrian regime increased Thursday dramatically. Of special importance is the town of Tafas, which links the rebel areas near the Golan with the areas near Jordan. It was hit by "tens of air strikes" according to residents. Rumors online have indicated that Russia is playing a central role in what comes next. This is partly because Russia is a party to the cease-fire in the south with the US and Jordan. It is also because Russian President Vladimir Putin is supposed to meet US President Donald Trump this month and has also invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow. Any deal in the south could see the deployment of Russian observers as has happened in north Syria. Jordan wants the fighting to stop as hundreds of thousands of refugees are now at the country's border, and the UN has pressured Amman to open it. Amman has said it wouldn't allow more refugees in, as it already hosts around a million people who have fled conflict in the region.

IDF Deploys Iron Dome Batteries in the South

By the Jerusalem Post
The IDF deployed several Iron Dome batteries in southern Israel Thursday following a situational assessment; the military told The Jerusalem Post. "The IDF is prepared for several scenarios and ready to defend the citizens of the State of Israel and its sovereignty," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said. On Thursday, an IDF drone fired "a missile at a motorcycle" east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported, adding that while there were no injuries, the motorcycle was destroyed. The IDF has been carrying out strikes in the Gaza Strip against vehicles used by terrorist cells who launch incendiary aerial devices into Israel. The Hamas terrorist group, in turn, has launched mortar shells towards southern Israeli communities. On June 20, Hamas, along with Islamic Jihad, launched a barrage of 45 mortars shortly after IAF jets struck three targets in the Strip in response to incendiary kites and explosive balloons launched towards southern Israel. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted seven of the projectiles and another three fell inside the Strip. Four were found inside communities in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing damage to nearby homes and cars. One landed in the yard of an empty kindergarten. A week later, at least 13 mortars were fired from the Gaza Strip after the IAF struck a vehicle said to have been heavily involved helping in Palestinians in launching incendiary devices into Israel. Two of the mortar shells were intercepted by the Iron Dome system over the city of Sderot. Earlier on Thursday, the Defense Ministry announced that it had successfully conducted a planned missile test launch of the Iron Dome system from the Palmachim air base. According to a statement released by the Ministry of Defense, the series of experiments were led by Rafael, the main contractor of the Iron Dome system, along with Elta and with the participation of the Israel Air Force and Navy. During the test, the various types of targets which simulate the emerging threats developing in the area were launched. "Homa [missile defense] will continue to develop the Iron Dome system to deal with the emerging threats in the arena to best protect the State of Israel," read the statement. Israel continuously improves the technology behind the country's anti-missile systems and last year the Defense Ministry carried out some experiments using American-made components in the course of the missile interception tests for the first time. The experiments, which were conducted in the south of the country, focused on the use of the "Tamir" interceptor and its ability to intercept some targets which were fired simultaneously at different ranges. The Rafael-built system carries 24 pounds of explosives and can intercept an incoming projectile from four to 70 kilometers away and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. which produces the radar system for the Iron Dome system through its ELTA division has reported sales of it to various armies around the world. Israel's air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets and the Arrow system which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth's atmosphere. The David's Sling missile defense system is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 to 300km. In mid-June, the US Senate approved $500 million for Israel's missile defense programs for the Iron Dome, Arrow-2, Arrow-3 and David's Sling under the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Another $50 million was approved for US-Israel counter-tunnel cooperation.

Mossad Recovers Watch of Israeli National Hero Eli Cohen from Syria

By World Israel News

In a special operation, the Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, returned the wristwatch of late Mossad fighter Eli Cohen to the Jewish state recently, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's media adviser announced in a press release Thursday. During the annual Mossad memorial ceremony for Eli Cohen several weeks ago, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen presented to Cohen's family the wristwatch that he wore during his mission in Syria, the adviser said. The watch is currently on display at Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv as a memorial to the legendary fighter. It will be transferred to the custody of the family on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which falls in September. Eli Cohen was born in Alexandria, Egypt, on Dec. 26, 1924, "His parents, Syrian Jews from the thriving town of Aleppo, had always instilled in their educationally minded son the traditions of the Jewish people, of Zionism, and of the culture of Syria's Jewish community in particular. In 1949 his parents and three brothers moved to Israel while Eli remained in Egypt to coordinate Jewish and Zionist activities there," according to Jewish Virtual Library. Famous for his espionage work in Syria from 1961 to 1965, the master spy succeeded in developing close relationships with that country's political and military hierarchy to the point that he became chief adviser to the minister of defense. As Mossad Agent 566, Egyptian-born Eli Cohen sent his messages in encrypted French through a miniature radio transmitter Eli Cohen was sentenced to death and hung publicly in 1965 after the Syrians discovered his true identity. The intelligence he gathered, however, is believed to have contributed to Israel's stunning victory during the 1967 Six Day War. Following his execution on May 18, 1965, the wristwatch was held by an enemy state, Netanyahu's spokesman said in a statement. After it was returned to Israel, special research and intelligence operations were carried out, culminating in the "unequivocal determination that this was indeed Eli Cohen's watch." "I commend the fighters of the Mossad for the determined and courageous operation, the sole objective of which was to return to Israel a memento from a great fighter who greatly contributed to the security of the state," Netanyahu stated. "We remember Eli Cohen and do not forget. His heritage, of dedication, determination, courage and love of the homeland is our heritage," the Mossad director affirmed. "We remember and stayed close to his family, his wife Nadia and their children."

Max Fuchs, US Soldier Who Led Historic Jewish Service in Germany during WWII, Dies at 96

By JTA

Max Fuchs, an American soldier who helped lead a historic Jewish religious service in Germany during World War II, has died. Fuchs, an Army rifleman who led the 1944 Shabbat service in Aachen alongside Army chaplain Rabbi Sidney Lefkowitz, for some 50 Jewish-American soldiers, died Tuesday, according to The New York Times. It was the first Jewish service broadcast from Germany since the rise of Hitler more than a decade earlier and was shown throughout the United States and in Germany. See https://youtu.be/1Dj-Y86Hoc0 "The emotion was tremendous," Fuchs said of the service in an interview for the American Jewish Committee in 2009. "The soldiers had heard of all the atrocities. Most of them had families that perished in the Holocaust. We had so many of my family." The Army division had no cantor, so Fuchs agreed to fill the role. "Since I was the only one who could do it, I tried my best," Fuchs told The Times. Fuchs, a native of Poland, moved to New York at age 12 with his family. After the war he studied cantorial music and served as the cantor of the Bayside Jewish Center in Queens, and also worked as a diamond cutter in Manhattan, The Times reported. Fighting in the war left Fuchs with nightmares, and he rarely spoke about his experience with his family, though he did hang a photograph in his home of himself leading the iconic service.

'Fiddler on the Roof' in Yiddish Opens Off-Broadway

By Israel Hayom
It might seem meshuga – crazy – to stage a beloved musical in a language that most of the audience won't understand. But Tevye the dairyman and his family will speak Yiddish in an off-Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof" directed by Oscar and Tony winner Joel Grey. It will be the first-ever U.S. production of "Fiddler" in the language that its characters would have spoken. During a rehearsal at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, housed at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan, Grey said that "I always knew what this play was about, and that's how I had the chutzpah to tackle it," using the Yiddish word that roughly translates to cheekiness. "We work in English first on the scenes so that everybody understands the characters, and the third or fourth time we do it in Yiddish, and we just keep at it." There will be supertitles in English and Russian for theatergoers who don't know their schmaltz from their schmutz. "Fiddler on the Roof" opened on Broadway in 1964, starring Zero Mostel as Tevye and ran for eight years. It has been a favorite of schools and community theater groups ever since and has been revived on Broadway four times. Its songs, including "Sunrise, Sunset" and "If I Were a Rich Man," are familiar even to people who've never seen the show. Based on stories by Sholom Aleichem originally written in Yiddish, "Fiddler" is set in 1905 in a Jewish village in czarist Russia. A Yiddish version of "Fiddler" translated by actor and writer Shraga Friedman as "Fidler afn Dakh" was performed in Israel in 1966 but was never staged in the United States until now. In the Yiddish version of the show, the song "To Life!" doesn't have to be translated from "L'Chaim!" — It's just 'L'Chaim!" ''If I Were a Rich Man" becomes "Ven ikh bin a Rotschild," from a story by Aleichem about a man who imagines he was as wealthy as a member of the Rothschild family.

Yiddish, which is based on German with elements taken from Hebrew and other languages and is written with the Hebrew alphabet, was once spoken by millions of Eastern European Jews but fell victim both to the Holocaust and the pull of assimilation. Isaac Bashevis Singer, who won a Nobel Prize for his stories written in Yiddish, famously said the language "has been dying for a thousand years, and I'm sure it will go on dying for another thousand." Immigrants who came to the U.S. built a thriving Yiddish theater scene that launched the careers of famed acting teacher Stella Adler and stars such as Edward G. Robinson. The Folksbiene was founded in 1915 and was once one of more than a dozen Yiddish theater companies on Manhattan's Lower East Side. It stages plays from the Yiddish theater canon as well as new work and adaptations of Yiddish literary works such as "Yentl," based on Singer's story "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy." Grey's father, Mickey Katz, was a musician and actor who performed Yiddish comedy songs, but Grey said he doesn't speak much Yiddish himself and has been learning while rehearsing. The 86-year-old is best known for his role as the master of ceremonies in "Cabaret," a musical that improbably turned the rise of Hitler into popular entertainment.


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