Newsletter : 18fx0803.txt
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Israel Kills 7 ISIS Terrorists in Overnight Strike on Syrian Golan
By Reuters & Israel Hayom
Israel killed seven ISIS militants in an air strike on the Syrian-held Golan Heights,
preventing a "grave incident," Israel Radio said on Thursday without citing sources. The
Israeli military confirmed carrying out an air strike overnight, saying overnight it had
targeted "several armed terror operatives in the southern Syrian Golan Heights," 200
meters from the border. The military's statement did not elaborate on any casualties.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitoring group, said early
on Thursday that clashes continued between the Syrian army and ISIS terrorists in that
area. There was no immediate Syrian government response to the Israeli statements.
The Israeli military said that, after the air strike, "explosive belts and an AK-47
assault rifle were found in the area". The statement did not specify how they had been
According to available information, Israeli Air Force aircraft were scrambled to target
the cell after its members were spotted approaching the security fence. Israeli troops
later found several explosive belts ?and an AK-47 assault rifle near the border.
IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis issued a statement stating that the terrorists were
identified as members of the Islamic State terrorist organization and were hit a mere "200
meters from the border fence." He stressed that "at no point was there any threat to any
[Israeli] soldiers or communities. We had them at a far enough distance from the border
that they posed no threat to the troops, and certainly not to communities. ?"The IDF
remains on high alert and is ready to ?defend the Israeli public."
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman predicted that the Golan Heights frontier ??would be
calmer with Assad's rule restored.? Before the Syrian civil war began in 2011 and
??throughout the seven years of fighting, Israel and Syria have ??mostly been careful to
observe the 1974 cease-fire ??agreement between them. ? "From our perspective, the
situation is returning to ??how it was before the civil war, meaning there is ??someone in
charge, a central ruler."
Asked whether Israelis should be less wary of ??potential flare-ups on the Golan, he said,
"I believe so." But he then qualified that with, "We remain ready and willing, and we
??will prove our abilities at the moment of truth. We ??will not compromise when it comes
to our security interests."?
Israel has been adamant about preventing Assad's ??ally, Iran, from entrenching itself
militarily in ??Syria. Russia, the superpower that sided with Assad ??in 2015, effectively
ensuring his survival, has ??presented Israel with guarantees that Iranian-backed ??forces
would remain 85 kilometers (53 miles) from the ??border. ?
Israel insists this measure still falls short and ??demands the removal of all the
Iranian-backed forces ??from Syria, something Russian Foreign Minister ??Sergey Lavrov has
called "unrealistic."? Lieberman stressed Thursday that "Syrian soil cannot ??be used as
an Iranian front against Israel and Syria ??cannot be used as a conduit for weapons
smuggling to ??Hizbullah."?
Commenting on the tensions on the Israel-?Gaza Strip border, Lieberman said that Hamas has
?been using children to send incendiary balloons over ?the border into Israel, and its
operative have been ?using civilian homes and venues as cover for the terrorist cells.?
The Palestinian arson campaign has been ?wreaking ?havoc on Israeli border towns for three
?months and has caused millions of dollars in damage. ?
Residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza border, as well ?as several cabinet
ministers, have demanded that the ?government handle kite terrorist cells with the same
?lethal force it does rocket launching cells. But top ?defense officials have been wary of
such a move, ?saying that directly targeting kite and balloon ?cells, which mostly
comprise teenagers and children, ?would lead the already volatile situation on the ?border
to spiral out of control. ??"We have to targets those [Hamas leaders] who give ?the
flaming balloons cells their orders, not the ?pawns," Lieberman said.?
Israelis Tickled by Sacha Baron Cohen's Grotesque Caricature
By Israel Hayom
Sacha Baron Cohen is at it again. After tapping into his familiarity with Israel and
his fluency in Hebrew to shape previous eccentric personas such as Borat and Bruno, the
Jewish comedian has created his most stereotypical Israeli character yet a
grotesque, faux counterterrorism instructor in his new Showtime series "Who is America?"
Retired Colonel Erran Morad has already managed to dupe former U.S. Vice President Dick
Cheney into signing a waterboarding kit, convinced former Senate majority leader Trent
Lott to endorse a plan to arm kindergartners, and caused a Georgia state representative to
resign after he shouted racial slurs and exposed his rear end in a supposed self-defense
drill against homophobic jihadists.
Another of those pranked, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, accused Baron Cohen of
preying on Israel's friends in America and seeking to "embarrass, humiliate, and mock" the
Jewish state. But in Israel where Baron Cohen's mother was born and where he spent
much time in his youth people seem to be in on the joke.
"The reaction has mostly been astonishment about the accuracy of the portrayal. He really
got some of our traits down," Einav Schiff, a TV critic for the Yedioth Ahronoth
newspaper, said with a chuckle. "Everyone here knows an 'Erran Morad' but I haven't
recognized any outrage or embarrassment about the character. It's mostly been ridicule for
these Americans who have fallen for him."
Typically wearing black boots, fatigues and a military-type sweatshirt with inverse Hebrew
writing on it, Baron Cohen's Morad character sports a scar in his bushy unibrow and speaks
in heavily accented, broken English peppered with Hebrew expressions and in a choppy
cadence typical of Israel's gruff military types. Though he is said to be a colonel, he
sometimes refers to himself as a general, major or captain, or alternatively someone who
served in the Mossad spy agency.
With Cheney, the alleged retired operative showed up in a full olive-green IDF uniform and
the insignia of a staff sergeant, none of which seemed to set off any alarm bells with the
former U.S. defense secretary.
It's that type of lunacy that has mostly tickled Israelis. Besides exposing the prejudices
of his targets, Baron Cohen's humor has also uncovered the fetishized version of Israel
believed in by many of its supposed staunch supporters on the religious Right. Nearly all
were drawn to the interviews under the guise of a fake pro-Israel award for their support,
when in fact all it did was expose their ignorance.
In practice, most Israelis are secular, gay-friendly and, even with the country's
mandatory military service, have little interest in firearms as recreation. Israeli gun
laws are in fact quite stiff and most look at America's obsession with weapons
Nowhere is that more evident than in Morad's "kinderguardian" program segment, in which a
string of gun-loving conservatives is fooled into believing Israel arms preschoolers to
counter school shootings. More astoundingly, they go on to endorse such "child-friendly"
products as "Puppy Pistol," ''Gunny Rabbit," and the magical "Uzi-corn."
"The intensive three-week kinderguardian course introduces specially selected children
from 2 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semi-automatics, and a rudimentary knowledge of
mortars," former Republican congressman Joe Walsh says in one segment. "In less than a
month less than a month a first-grader can become a first-grenade-er."
In a subsequent CNN interview, Walsh admitted he was duped by a program that struck him as
fishy. "I'm thinking to myself, 'Well, this is kind of crazy, but it is Israel and Israel
is strong on defense,'" he explained.
Such reasoning has raised some concern in Israel that others may be naive enough to take
Baron Cohen's spoof literally. "Yes, your satire was outrageously on point and Col. Erran
Morad was spot on. Still, bad enough that Israel gets demonized for the things it actually
does, you have to go and make horrifying fake stuff up?" wrote Allison Kaplan Sommer, an
English-language columnist for the Haaretz daily. "Satire or not, I'm afraid the American
public is going to be left with the impression that we are, in fact, gun fans when the
truth is our gun control is a million times stricter than in the U.S."
Baron Cohen, 46, no doubt knows his material. He is an observant Jew who belonged to a
Zionist Jewish youth group while in high school in England. Upon graduation, he spent a
year working and studying on a kibbutz in northern Israel and has since returned for
several visits. His fluency in Hebrew and grasp of Israeli politics and culture has found
its way into his comedic acts before.
In the film "Borat," his wacky fake Kazakh, misogynistic, anti-Semitic character really
speaks Hebrew, a twist that made the 2006 movie a fan-favorite in Israel. The film is
filled with Hebrew vulgarities, and in one scene Borat sings the lyrics of the legendary
Hebrew folk song "Koom Bachur Atzel," meaning "Get up, lazy boy." Borat's signature
catchphrase "Wa wa wee wa," an expression meaning "Wow" derives from a skit
on a popular Israeli comedy show.
Three years later, he portrayed Bruno a flamboyant Austrian fashionista with a Nazi
streak and visited Israel, nearly sparking a riot in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish
neighborhood in Jerusalem after strutting down the street in a sexed-up Hassidic outfit.
He also comically referred to the chickpea dish "hummus" and the Islamic terrorist group
With Moore, who has denied multiple allegations that he pursued romantic or sexual
relationships with teenage girls while he was in his 30s, Morad taps into Israel's image
as a high-tech nation to introduce its newest gadget: a "pedophile detector" that beeps
every time he swipes the wand in front of Moore.
But even that pales in comparison to the humiliation heaped on Jason Spencer, the
Georgia state representative. Egged on by Morad, Spencer proceeds to repeatedly shout a
racial slur against black people, derogatorily imitates Asian tourists while slipping a
selfie-stick between the legs of someone in traditional female Muslim garb, and then caps
it off by charging at Morad with bared buttocks to incite fear in his homophobic
Dor Hillel, a 26-year-old former Israeli soldier, said he found the gullibility so
astounding it took him a while to figure out what he was watching. "Apparently these
people are so naive that they really think we are like that," he said.
Caving to Pressure, Tunisia to Host 7-Year-Old Israeli Chess Whiz
By Israel Hayom
The Tunisian Chess Federation has agreed to allow a 7-year-old Israeli girl to take
part in the World School Individual Chess Championships in Sousse, Tunisia, in 2019. In
response to a request for clarification from the World Chess Federation, the organization
issued a letter saying players from all countries, "without exception," are invited to
participate in the tournament.
The World Chess Federation had demanded that the North African country confirm it would
provide visas to all participants or else risk losing the right to host the competition,
following a campaign by Israel advocacy group StandWithUs.
After Tunisia initially showed no signs that it intended to let European School Individual
chess champion Liel Levitan into Tunisia to play in the tournament, the group launched a
campaign called "Let Liel Play" in which hundreds of Israel supporters signed a petition
demanding that she be allowed entry. StandWithUs also wrote to World Chess Federation
Administrative Manager Polina Tsedenova about the matter.
In a statement, StandWithUs representative Gilad Kabilo said Tunisia's decision to provide
visas to all participants was "an unprecedented achievement, which shows that civil
pressure by Israel supporters on international organizations works. We welcome the
statement, and we will continue to act to defend the dignity of Israeli athletes."
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