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Amid Threats from Syria, IDF Deploys Iron Dome in Central Israel

By World Israel News & DEBKAfile

The IDF deployed an Iron Dome anti-missile system in central Israel as a precautionary measure in light of Syrian threats to target Ben Gurion Airport. Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja'afari warned on Tuesday that his country would hit Israel's major international gateway if the Security Council does not stop Israel's airstrikes. However, there is little chance of Syria following through on its threat, according to Major General (res.) Yaakov Amidror, a former national security advisor. "The Syrians have missiles that can reach Ben Gurion Airport," the current senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies said on Radio 103FM Thursday. "They have anti-aircraft missiles that can damage planes coming out of Ben-Gurion Airport. But the relationship between us and Syria is such that a Syrian attempt would permit us to strike them so hard that the Syrian regime would be over, so I don't see the Syrians risking such an incident." In the last few hours, statements from both Tehran and Damascus indicate that Iran has decided on a powerful response to the Israeli air and ground missile strikes on Monday, Jan. 21 against its facilities in and south of Damascus. Officials in Tehran are saying that the Fatteh-110 ground missile launched against the Israeli Hermon north of the Golan – and shot down – was an inadequate a response to those assaults and Israel deserved harsher punishment. Despite that fact, Amidror does not believe that Tehran would escalate the situation. Saying that tough talk in the Middle East doesn't translate into action, he noted, "Once it comes to support, one doesn't help the other…. The Iranians in Syria cannot back the Syrians. This is what we're fighting for and what we want to prevent."

Rivlin to Macron: Israel will Act if it Feels Threatened by Iran

By Reuters & Israel Hayom

Israel will not shy away from confrontation on its northern border as it takes steps to counter Iranian aggression, President Reuven Rivlin told French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday. The two discussed Iran and Hizbullah during Rivlin's state visit to Paris, with Rivlin sounding the alarm on Iran's efforts to boost Hizbullah's capabilities in Lebanon by upgrading the Shiite terrorist group's missile stocks. "Israel cannot accept and will never accept Hizbullah having precision missiles, which have only one target: Israeli citizens. If Lebanon threatens us, we will not remain silent," Rivlin said at a joint press conference. "Lebanon is responsible for any activity undertaken by Hizbullah," adding that Israel would continue to act against Iran's growing military presence in Syria, which he called "a direct threat to Israel and the entire region." Iran has been using the Syrian civil war to take a more dominant role in the region. Iran has reportedly sent thousands of fighters to Syria and is building military infrastructure there. Israel has on multiple occasions struck Iranian assets in Syria. According to foreign media, the attacks have also targeted Iranian shipments of advanced weaponry to Hizbullah. Rivlin said that "for Israel, Iran is an enemy that does not hide its intention to destroy Israel. We are duty-bound to treat this matter seriously." He stressed that the threat posed by Iran "goes beyond its nuclear program and extends to its ballistic missile program, which we consider an existential threat." Macron said he and Rivlin had discussed Iran and that he had insisted on maintaining continuous dialogue to control Tehran's ballistic and nuclear activity. "We have to continue the dialogue to be able to control Iran's ballistic activity, to contain its nuclear activity and to make it possible to contain Iran's regional ambitions. And on this front, I have repeated our full support to President Rivlin." Under the U.N. resolution enshrining Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, Tehran is "called upon" to refrain from work on ballistic missiles suitable for carrying nuclear weapons. The U.S. has recently pulled out of the deal but warned Iran it must abide by the U.N. resolution.

New Data Shows Scope of PA's Funding of Terrorists

By Israel Hayom
For the Palestinians, terrorism is one sure way to make a living – and it seems that the worse the crime, the better the pay. According to a report released by the Palestinian Authority Treasury on Wednesday, the PA paid upwards of NIS 502 million ($137 million) to living terrorists – either in an Israeli prison or released – in 2018. This was the first time since 2015 that the PA Prisoner Affairs Ministry has revealed such details of its budget. Between 2015 and 2018 it kept these figures under wraps, with the payments transferred to terrorists appearing in different reports and documents. At the end of this month, Prime Minister and acting Defense Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to present the diplomatic-security cabinet with a report on these payments so the government can deduct the amount paid out to terrorists from the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and turns over to the PA. Although the report does not specify precisely how the funds were disbursed to terrorists in Israeli prisons and ones who have been released, a report by the Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch indicates that terrorists incarcerated in Israel received at least NIS 203 million ($55 million) throughout 2018. According to Palestinian Media Watch, at least NIS 176 million ($48 million) was allotted to released terrorists, and NIS 96 million ($26 million) was used to supplement the stipends that go to of imprisoned and released terrorists and their families, providing them with other financial benefits. Moreover, the longer the prison sentence a terrorist serves, the higher the salary; in other words, the worse the crime, the better the pay. The longest-serving Palestinian terrorists – Maher and Karim Younis, who murdered IDF soldier Avraham Brumberg in 1980 and have been in jail since 1983 – each receive a monthly salary of NIS 12,000 ($3,266). PMW also found that in January 2018 alone the PA paid almost NIS 20 million ($5.4 million) to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel. Palestinian Media Watch based its findings on the figures the PA chose to publish. Therefore, it was not possible to fully determine the actual amount paid to families of terrorists in 2018, some 18,000 people. Families that benefit include relatives of suicide bombers and terrorists killed by Israeli forces as well as relatives of Palestinians either killed or wounded in violent clashes with security forces. Last July, the Knesset enacted a law to financially penalize the Palestinian Authority for paying stipends to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families. Lawmakers voted 87-15 in favor of the bill, which orders the government to withhold part of the tax revenues that Israel collects for the PA each month. MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), who co-sponsored the bill, said the withheld money would be put aside and the government would be allowed to use its discretion on whether to return it to the Palestinians at some point or not. "The law that imposes monetary sanctions on the Palestinian Authority for payments to terrorists is one of the more important [laws] passed in Israel in recent years," said PMW founder and director Itamar Marcus. "It sends a clear message to the Palestinian Authority that Israel will not accept its support for terror in any way, shape or form. I hope Israel implements the law to the fullest as soon as this month [January], as stipulated by the law, so the PA understands that Israel will do everything in its power against any show of support for terror on [the PA's] part," Marcus said.

DNA Proves Hitler's Deputy Wasn't Replaced with Double, did Die in Prison

By YnetNews

After years of wild conspiracy theories, Austrian scientists have proven that Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess indeed died in prison in Berlin—and was not a replaced with a doppelganger as conspiracy theorists have suggested. Hess, Hitler's Deputy Führer between 1933-1941, was caught after he went to Scotland in 1941 on his own accord, reportedly to negotiate a peace treaty between the UK and Germany. During the Nuremberg trials held after the war was over, Hess was sentenced to life in prison. Hess was imprisoned in several UK prisons—among which the Tower of London. In 1947 he was transferred to Berlin's Spandau Prison, where he remained until 1987—when he hanged himself in his cell. Hess, who died at 93, was known as Spandau #7. He was the last prisoner in Spandau, and the prison was torn down after he died. For decades, conspiracy theories raged, saying Hess was killed by the British after he was caught in Scotland, and that a doppelganger was put in his place. According to speculations, Spandau #7 looked nothing like "the original" Hess, and also avoided meeting the Hess family until 1969—arising suspicion. One of the people who believed the rumors was Hess' Spandau doctor Hugh Thomas, who pointed to doubts about his Scotland ordeal, his refusal to see relatives and his "claimed amnesia." Now, an unidentified descendant of Hess who agreed to have his DNA compared to a sample taken from Spandau #7 in 1982, allowed researchers to discover the truth. "No match would have supported the impostor theory, but finally we do have a match," said Prof. Jan Cemper-Kiesslich of the University of Salzburg, who was part of the research team. Results were conclusive: the two DNA samples came from two individuals who had a 99.9% chance of being related. After years of doubt, it can be said for certain that Rudolf Hess, the former high-ranking Nazi, hanged himself in his cell in 1987.

Classic US Holocaust TV Miniseries to be Shown in Germany

By JTA

For Sigmount Koenigsberg, the most searing scene in the U.S.-made "Holocaust" miniseries broadcast here 40 years ago was when a German child throws photos of a Jewish family into a fireplace. The pictures curl up and melt in flames. The moment "somehow burned into me," recalls Koenigsberg, 58, a Jew who lives in Berlin. The four-part series starring a young Meryl Streep and James Woods – first shown in the United States in 1978 – burned itself into the consciences of many Germans at the time, helping bring about a shift in the country's approach to its history. This month, ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, WDR (West German Broadcasting) is marking the 40th anniversary of that groundbreaking broadcast by bringing Streep, Woods, Tovah Feldshuh, Michael Moriarty and the program's other stars back into German living rooms. Journalist Jorg Schonenborn, the head of TV programming for WDR, said: "unfortunately, anti-Semitism is not only a historical phenomenon but very much present today." Directed by Marvin Chomsky and written by Gerald Green, "Holocaust" recounts the Nazi genocide of European Jewry through two fictional families in Berlin: the Weisses, who are Jewish, and the Dorfs, who are Christian. In the end, both the victims and perpetrators are nearly destroyed. The series, which aired on NBC over four nights in April 1978, won several Emmy and Golden Globe awards and a large audience, although many critics were underwhelmed. Elie Wiesel famously objected to the series, saying it "trivialized" the Shoah and worrying that "the Holocaust will be measured and judged in part by the TV production bearing its name." In particular, the film seems to buy the cliché of Jews "going like lambs to the slaughter" in depictions of mass shootings or the herding of Jews into gas chambers. And many felt the kick-your-heels happy ending should have ended up on the cutting-room floor. But the film also portrayed Jewish resistance and the agonizing position of Jews who collaborated in hopes of saving themselves. It shows how the murder of the disabled paved the way for the genocide of European Jewry, step by step, from mass shootings to gassings. It also portrayed the descent of average non-Jewish Germans into murderous criminality and the determination of many to deny what had happened, even to themselves. In 1979, an estimated 36% of West Germans with TVs – some 20 million people, according to a contemporary article in Der Spiegel magazine – viewed at least one part of the series, which was dubbed into German. The effect was immediate. Later that year, the West German parliament expunged the statute of limitations on war crimes. The term "Holocaust" entered the lexicon (somewhat replaced by "Shoah" after the release of Claude Lanzmann's documentary in 1985). Within a few years, tens of thousands of German youth were looking into what had happened in their hometowns and their own families under the Nazis as part of a nationwide grassroots history movement. Almost reluctantly, Der Spiegel admired this "trivial" American series, saying it had "managed to do what hundreds of books, plays, films and TV broadcasts, thousands of documents and all concentration camp trials in three decades of postwar history had failed to do: to inform Germans about the crimes committed against the Jews in their name in such a way that millions were shaken." In a 2005 interview with this JTA reporter, Chomsky recalled the immediate impact of the German broadcast. "There were all kinds of [news] stories, and people started asking, `Daddy, what did you do during the war?' It was quite a revelation for the generation," said Chomsky, now 89. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, said there is no question that the "Holocaust" story had the most powerful impact in West Germany. Zuroff has pushed Germany to investigate and prosecute Nazi war criminals. "The story of the Weiss family personalized the Shoah in a way that touched the average viewer," he said, "and helped Germans internalize the scope and horror of the tragedy that took place in their country, launched by a movement elected democratically." But the impact of this series on German non-Jews and Jews, however, dated and sanitized some parts of the film may appear today, is beyond doubt. Historian Edith Raim, born in 1965, recalls watching the series with her family in Landsberg, a town outside Munich. It was one of the first programs they saw together because her parents, both teachers, thought TV had "no pedagogic value." "We were glued to the film, even my reluctant father," said Raim, who is not Jewish. Later that year, "the youth organization of the trade unions started commemorations on the [local] concentration camp cemeteries." Raim soon joined with high school classmates to research the history of those camps. "In the case of Landsberg, in fact, the series helped locals to confront the Nazi past," she said. "Textbooks were changed and adjusted, and it was a big event for Germany," recalled actor Tovah Feldshuh, who played the role of Helena Slomova, a Jewish resistance fighter from then-Czechoslovakia. "I was wearing fatigues in the woods. It was my first death on film," she said in a telephone interview from New York. Feldshuh said she felt privileged to play the role of "a freedom fighter, to be brave, rather than" someone who appeared to give up. She "went through the Holocaust miniseries angry, not upset. "[I] didn't shed a tear," she said. "But for the [actors] who were newly exposed to the Holocaust, who were not Jewish, they were beside themselves: Rosemary Harris and Meryl Streep were beside themselves." Harris played Mrs. Weiss, and Streep played her Christian daughter-in-law. After the premiere in 1978, Wiesel confronted Feldshuh. "Tovah, how could you, how could you, how could you! Reduce the Holocaust to a soap opera?" he demanded. "I told him, `Elie, I understand that the experience of the Holocaust is unspeakable. I understand there is no language for what you went through. We did not make the Holocaust series for you. We did it for people … who think Holocaust means `hora.' For people who think the Holocaust did not happen."


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