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Netanyahu: There won't be Another Mosque on the Temple Mount

By Israel Hayom

Tensions continued to bubble Monday on the Temple Mount after the Gate of Mercy structure near Al-Aqsa mosque was certified as another mosque, with silent agreement from Israel – despite official denials issued by Israeli authorities. Government officials said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued an order to remove equipment from the site and disallow prayer there. The structure was recently fitted with rugs and other furnishings along with renovations. Eran Tzidkiyahu of the Forum for Regional Thinking visited the site on Monday and assessed that it would soon be used as a permanent prayer area for Muslims. Meanwhile, the Islamic authority that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, known as the Waqf, announced it has already appointed an imam for the Gate of Mercy structure and that its status would be identical to other sites of worship on the Temple Mount. Israeli police on Sunday arrested the head of waqf authority, Sheikh Abdelazeem Salhab, and other waqf leaders, following violent protests last week on the Temple Mount. Salhab, who was released shortly after his arrest and barred from the area for one week, was appointed by neighboring Jordan. If Israel does not act to reverse the trend, the number of mosques at the Temple Mount compound will stand at five. Some 52 years ago, immediately following the Six-Day War, there was only one mosque, Al-Aqsa mosque. Over time, the Dome of the Rock was also certified as a mosque and mostly served Muslim women on Fridays. In the 1990s, two other mosques were certified, but underground: the Gate of Mercy area, which some Muslims in recent days have hailed as the "fifth mosque," was shut down by Israel in 2005 after a Hamas-linked group carried out activities there. The new waqf leadership, comprising officials from Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, breached the site around two weeks ago, and last Friday thousands of worshippers prayed there. The waqf leaders arrested by Israel, as stated, were released a short while later on shaky legal grounds, as the aforementioned Hamas-affiliated group that had operated there, and which served as the pretext for shutting the site down, no longer exists, and doubts emerged over the legality of the most recent closure order. It should be noted that before 2005, although the compound was controlled by the Muslims, it didn't function as a mosque and people normally didn't use it for worship. Senior Arab-Israeli figures, among them the head of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel, former MK Mohammad Barakeh, together with representatives of the Balad and Ra'am parties, visited the structure on Monday and met with waqf leaders. "It is the right of every Muslim to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque. The actions of the Israeli government to Judaize Jerusalem and erode the status quo at Al-Aqsa will be met with strong resistance," they threatened. An Israeli government official said: "The prime minister gave instructions to enforce the court's order without compromise. The political echelon won't allow the site to become a mosque. This directive was passed to the police, and this message was delivered to certain authorities and Jordan as well. The prime minister has instructed the public security minister [Gilad Erdan] to remove the rugs and other equipment from the site."

Stars Not Aligned? Israel's Lunar Lander Hits Snag

By, World Israel News & Inverse Israel's Beresheet spacecraft, an unmanned vehicle slated to land on the moon, missed a scheduled maneuver Monday night, after the spacecraft's computer system suffered an apparent glitch, resetting itself unexpectedly. In a statement Tuesday morning, SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) engineers said they were investigating the malfunction, but said that other than a known problem with the navigation system's star tracker, the Beresheet's systems were all functioning properly. The maneuver was scheduled to take place Monday night, as the spacecraft passed near the Earth in an area where the Ramat Gan-based SpaceIL ground crew would not be in direct communication with the craft. During the pre-maneuver phase, the spacecraft computer reset unexpectedly, and the maneuver was automatically canceled. "The engineering teams of SpaceIL and IAI are examining the data and analyzing the situation," the control team said in a statement Tuesday. "At this time, the spacecraft's systems are working well, except for the known problem in the star tracker. The control center has contact with the spacecraft according to plan and it continues its previous orbit until the next maneuver. We will update the planned schedule later." Last Thursday night, the Beresheet was launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral, kicking off Israel's first lunar landing mission. The Beresheet, built and operated by the private Israeli firm SpaceIL, is the first Israeli-built spacecraft. A landing will make Israel only the fourth country, behind superpowers the U.S., Russia and China, to successfully reach the moon. The project started out as an attempt to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP). The competition required a privately funded effort to land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon, travel 500 meters on the surface, and transmit back to Earth high-definition video and images. No country won the prize but Israel decided to continue with the effort on its own. Beresheet is carrying precious cultural cargo: a 30-million-page backup disc of humanity's collective knowledge, including the contents of one very important website. Dubbed "The Lunar Library" by its creator, the Arch Mission Foundation, the solid-state nanotechnology storage device looks like a standard-sized DVD, much like one that might play the film Step Brothers. But instead of Step Brothers, it contains an exhaustive archive of science and culture. The mission itself will be quite short, possibly only lasting a few days while the lander uses its propulsion system to "hop" to a second landing site. But the AMF backup disc for humanity could easily remain on the moon long after all humans on Earth have gone extinct. The Lunar Library, which superficially resembles a standard 120-millimeter DVD, actually comprises 25 nickel discs, each of which is only 40 microns thick, stacked on top of each other. (A human hair is between 60 and 120 microns thick). Needless to say, AMF packed a ton of information onto the 100-gram — less than a quarter pound — disc: The first four layers contain more than 60,000 analog images of pages of books, photographs, illustrations, and documents — etched as 150 to 200 dpi, at increasing levels of magnification, by optical nanolithography. The first analog layer is the Front Cover and is visible to the naked eye. It contains 1500 pages of text and images, as well as holographic diffractive logos and text, and can be easily read with a 100X magnification optical microscope, or even a lower power magnifying glass. The next three analog layers each contain 20,000 images of pages of text and photos at 1000X magnification and require a slightly more powerful microscope to read. Each letter on these layers is the size of a Bacillus bacterium. Below the increasingly tiny images on the analog layers lie the digital layers, which contain about 200 gigabytes of data, compressed down to 100. And for any alien life-form fortunate — or unfortunate — enough to stumble upon The Lunar Library, the analog layers include the world's longest homework assignment in the form of a "Primer," which describes millions of concepts in multiple languages. The analog layers also include "a series of documents that teach the technical specifications, file formats, and scientific and engineering knowledge necessary to access, decode and understand, the digital information encoded in deeper layers of the Library." Importantly, these deeper layers contain the entire contents of Wikipedia, as well as 25,000 books, ranging from fiction novels and non-fiction books to technical science and engineering textbooks. The AMF describes The Lunar Library as an attempt to preserve human knowledge in the event of a catastrophe, as well as a way to possibly communicate with aliens who come across it. And while the Library is ostensibly a comprehensive accounting of human history and knowledge, it admittedly comes from a particular perspective: Also in the analog layers, are several private archives, including an Israeli time-capsule for SpaceIL, containing the culture and history of Israel, songs, and drawings by children.

Aerial Drones to Map out Jewish Burial Sites Across Europe

By the Jerusalem Post

The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative (EJCI) plans to use aerial drones to survey 1,500 Jewish cemeteries spanning countries where the Holocaust significantly impacted the attrition of the Jewish population throughout Europe - including Ukraine, Greece, Moldova, Slovakia and Lithuania. The EJCI, a German-based NGO, is responsible for protecting Jewish burial sites throughout Europe, especially in places where the German-Nazi army attempted to wipe-out existing populations of Jews. Once discovered, the EJCI will not only map out the burial site locations but will also erect fences around the locations "so people know there's a Jewish cemetery [there]," according to EJCI Chief Executive Philip Carmel. The effort will be funded by the European Union amid a time of worrying rises in anti-Semitism across the continent, with many of the recent acts targeting Jewish cemeteries in particular. In the latest incident of a series of anti-Semitic attacks in European Union, a Jewish cemetery close to Strasbourg was vandalized and some 100 gravestones desecrated and spray-painted with Swastikas. One of the gravestones was daubed with the words "Black Wolves," a militant far-right separatist group from the Alsace region, where Quatzenheim is located, which was active in the 1970s and 1980s. In one attack in 1976, the Black Wolves group set fire to and destroyed the Natzweiler-Struthof Nazi concentration camp located in Alsace. In December, a Jewish cemetery in the nearby town of Herrlisheim was also desecrated with 37 gravestones spray-painted with Swastikas and other graffiti. Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog denounced the desecration of the graves, describing it as "another severe incident that underlines the anti-Semitism virus attacking Europe and threatening Jews in the streets," adding "Governments, wake up." Last Friday evening, teenagers shot a Jewish man with an air-rifle outside a synagogue in the Paris suburb of Saracelle, lightly injuring him. A couple weeks ago, "Yellow Vest" protesters hurled anti-Semitic abuse at French-Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, while a tree planted in memorial of Ilan Halimi, who was brutally murdered in 2006, was chopped down ahead of a memorial event for him in Paris. And a government report released last week found that anti-Semitic attacks had spiked by 74% in 2018 over the previous year. To complete the initiative, the EJCI will be requesting volunteers from each of the designated countries to assist in the effort to fully map out Jewish burial sites across Europe throughout the year and will employ separate volunteers to help maintain the sites after the survey initiative is complete.

What if There Were No Birthright Israel?

By Lisa Brown, the Jerusalem Post (Commentary). What if this generation of young Jews never had the chance to put a note in the Western Wall … never climbed Masada to watch the sunrise … never got to celebrate Shabbat in the heart of Jerusalem? What if they never took a journey with Birthright Israel? This would be catastrophic for the future of the Jewish people. During these challenging times, it is critical that — to ensure the longevity and stability of our people —each of our young adults develops a lifelong love of being Jewish. According to extensive studies by Brandeis University, 74% of participants feel closer to Israel after a transformative experience with Birthright Israel. They also discover a personal, heartfelt, and important relationship with our heritage. This is not something we can afford to lose. Birthright Israel gives young Jewish adults the chance to walk the cobblestone streets of our ancestors in Jerusalem, explore the deserts they have read about in the Torah, and embrace a profound kinship with the people of Israel. The gift of Birthright Israel is irreplaceable: It provides young Jews with a powerful connection to their Jewish identity and allows them to nurture an enduring passion for their heritage. It is the birthright of every Jew to travel to Israel. It is the foundation for raising a generation that is full of Jewish pride. And it is the mission of Birthright Israel Foundation. About one-quarter of American Jews are currently eligible to take a journey with Birthright Israel. That means that there are 1.4 million eligible young Jews between 18 and 32 who may never otherwise set foot in the land of our ancestors without Birthright Israel Foundation. Studies from Brandeis University show that Birthright Israel participants feel an increased level of commitment to marrying a Jewish partner, celebrating Jewish holidays, raising a family in the Jewish tradition, and nurturing a stronger relationship with the State of Israel. Now more than ever, we are counting on young Jews to embolden the Jewish tomorrow with their commitment to our heritage today. Our very survival as a people is dependent on one thing: The next generation's relationship with their Jewish identity. It is our responsibility to nurture this relationship to ensure a strong and secure future for the Jewish people. (Lisa Brown is a writer and a mom to a young child. She looks forward to her son taking a journey with Birthright Israel when he is of age.)

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