Newsletter : 19fx0305.txt
| Previous file
| Next file
Israeli Activists Call for Synagogue on Temple Mount
Activists advocating Israeli rights on the Temple Mount held an emergency meeting on
Sunday evening to discuss the Muslim Waqf's recent illegal takeover of the Golden Gate
compound. The Golden Gate area has been closed under a court order since 2003 after it was
used for terrorism, but the Waqf and Muslim worshipers re-accessed the area and
essentially established another mosque, the fifth on the Temple Mount.
Several dozen Israeli activists assessed the urgent situation, at the end of which they
called for Israeli mass visits to the Temple Mount on Thursday "to strengthen the Jewish
hold on the holy site." They also issued a demand for a synagogue on the Temple Mount.
Based on "the violation of the status quo on the Temple Mount," the activists called for
the implementation of the long-standing demand of the rabbis headed by the late Rabbi
Mordechai Eliyahu to establish a synagogue on the Temple Mount at the Sha'ar HaRachamim
area, at which the Muslims recently established another mosque. The assembly also issued a
call to have the Waqf declared an illegal organization and to have it banned from the
The participants in the emergency conference also called on Israeli political parties to
demand the permission of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount as a precondition for any
coalition agreement. Finally, the conference called upon the government to enact
regulations required to define the Temple Mount as the holiest site for the Jewish people
and to implement rules permitting Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, which is currently
banned along with any other form of non-Muslim worship.
Currently, any attempt by a Jew to pray is promptly thwarted by the Waqf and the police,
and encounters can end with the arrest of Jewish worshipers.
The Muslim leadership alleges that Israel wants to keep the Golden Gate sealed off for
Muslims " to give Jewish fanatics, who call for rebuilding their temple inside Al-Aqsa
compound, free access and presence in the area." The Muslims, as well as the Hamas terror
organization, have threatened an outbreak of violence if Israel attempts to re-shut the
US THAAD Deployed for First Time in Israel for Joint Drill
The U.S. military has deployed its most advanced air and missile defense system to
Israel for the first time, the U.S. and Israeli military officials said on Monday. The
deployment, which began in March, was intended to test the U.S. military's ability to
deploy such weapons around the world rapidly, said a spokeswoman for U.S. European
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the arrival of the Terminal High
Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system as a sign of the U.S. commitment to Israeli security.
"The American THAAD system is considered among the most advanced systems in the world, and
together with our defense systems, we are stronger in dealing with threats, close or
distant, emanating from all areas of the Middle East," he said.
The move comes amid increased tensions between Israel and Iran over Israel's bombing
campaign in Syria and comments in which Iran's foreign minister said he could not rule out
the possibility of military conflict between the two countries. The U.S. military said the
decision to rapidly move the THAAD system to Israel was intended "as a demonstration of
the United States' continued commitment to Israel's regional security."
"THAAD is the most advanced integrated air and missile defense system in the world, and
this deployment readiness exercise demonstrates that U.S. forces are agile and can respond
quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time," U.S. European Command
said in a statement.
As part of the deployment, U.S. forces will work at various locations in Europe, the
United States and in Israel to operate the system in close cooperation with the Israel
Defense Forces, it said. U.S. officials declined to say how quickly the system was moved
to Israel from its home base at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the deployment differed from
previous simulated U.S.-Israel joint military exercises and involved tactical coordination
on the ground. He said all of the components of the THAAD system were at an air force base
in the Negev desert, in southern Israel, and would soon be moved to an undisclosed site in
southern Israel. "The advantage from the Israeli point of view is that we have an
opportunity to integrate it into our systems and simulate different scenarios," he said.
The IDF said the deployment was defensive and not related to any specific current event.
Saudi Arabia agreed in November to buy 44 THAAD launchers, missiles, and related equipment
from the United States in a separate deal valued at $15 billion.
Vatican to Open Secret WW2 Archives of its Wartime Pope
By the Jerusalem Post
Pope Francis announced on Monday that documents from the Vatican secret archive
regarding the Pope Pius XII's actions during the Holocaust era would be open to scholars
in March 2020 to help shed light on the controversial period for the Vatican and the
Pius XII has long been criticized by Jewish organizations for failing to do enough to stop
the Nazi genocide during World War II and for failing to speak out amid the horrors of the
However, Catholic leaders have pointed to certain actions taken by Pius and other Catholic
clergy in assisting European Jews as evidence of efforts that were made at the time. They
argued that broad action by the Catholic Church could have resulted in severe reprisals
against Catholics in Europe by the Nazi regime.
On Monday, Pope Francis said that Pius XII had guided the Catholic Church "in one of the
saddest and darkest moments of the 20th century," and that he had sometimes been
criticized in an "exaggerated" manner. He said that Pius XII's actions had been studied in
depth and "sometimes discussed" with "prejudice or exaggeration."
The pontiff said that the opening of the archives would allow "serious and objective
historical research" to "evaluate, in the proper light and with appropriate criticism, the
praiseworthy moments of the Pontiff and, without any doubt, also moments of serious
difficulties, of tormented decisions," which he may have seemed to some as "reticence" but
were attempts to keep humanitarian initiatives alive.
Rabbi David Rosen, the International Director of Inter-religious Affairs for the American
Jewish Committee (AJC), said that he hoped the Vatican's archival documents from the
Holocaust era would provide a clearer picture of Pope Pius XII's actions.
The documents are expected to include various letters and messages between the pope and
other Vatican officials at the time, with Catholic clergy throughout Europe.
Communications between the Vatican with pious Catholics who served as senior military or
government officials, and with Catholics of lesser rank who may have provided reports of
various kinds to church officials, may also be included.
The previous pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI had indicated shortly before he retired that he
wished to open the Holocaust-era archives, while Pope Francis's understanding of the
Jewish community was also likely a factor, said Rosen.
Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives Bishop Sergio Pagano also reportedly requested time
to catalog a large number of documents before their release. Rosen also noted that the AJC
itself has been raising the issue with the Vatican for the past 30 years.
Holocaust historian and head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel Dr. Efraim Zuroff
noted that Pius XII never specifically denounced the Nazi persecution and the mass murder
of European Jews, or called on Catholics to help save Jews from persecution. Zuroff said
that "two cardinal questions" needed to be answered regarding Pius XII's papacy. "The
first is what information reached the Vatican regarding Holocaust crimes, and the second
is when that information reached Pius XII?" asked Zuroff.
He pointed out that papal nuncios of the Vatican who served as ambassadors were active in
many countries where Jews were persecuted and murdered, and that he would have received
"accurate information regarding the fate of the Jews
at a relatively early date,
most probably before such news reached the Allies."
Israel's Moon Mission Carries the Story of Humanity
By YnetNews & The Media Line
Israel's first spacecraft, launched last week in the first privately funded lunar mission,
is carrying a small DVD containing the building blocks of human civilization in 30 million
pages of information, Newsweek Magazine reported.
The unmanned robotic explorer named BeresheetHebrew for the word "genesis"
lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday atop a Falcon 9 rocket
launched by the California-based entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX Company. According to
Newsweek, the archive is dubbed the "lunar library" and is meant to be a sort of
civilization backup for future generations.
"One of the primary evolutionary challenges that we face is amnesia about our past
mistakes, and the lack of active countermeasures to repeating them," Nova Spivack,
co-founder of Arch Mission Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that backed the
mission, told NBC. "For the survival of our species, we need to find ways to raise our
awareness of what worked and didn't work, and we need to ensure it is shared with the
people of the future," Spivack added.
The lunar archive is designed to last at least six billion years, far longer than any
written records. "It encourages people to reflect on humankind's place in the universe,"
said Paul Davies, director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Physics at
Arizona State University, adding that the archive served a largely symbolic purpose.
The library reportedly includes a collection of songs, children's drawings and writings
about Israeli culture and history. It also contains the entire English-language version of
Wikipedia and a guide to 5,000 languages with 1.5 billion sample translations, according
The spaceship, which is about the size of a washing machine, will orbit the Earth in
increasingly wider trajectories until it enters the moon's gravitational field and is
expected to reach its destination in mid-April.
Beresheet faces hurdles ahead of its historic moon landing. Industry experts say crucial
challenges remain before the planned landing of the spacecraft; the probe already ran into
technical difficulties when its computer system unexpectedly rebooted, causing the craft
to miss a scheduled maneuver to send it into an elliptical orbit around the Earth.
Eran Schmidt, Deputy Project Manager of SpaceIL and Head of Ground Operations, conceded
that other problems remain unresolved. "We're getting measurements, but we need to filter
(out ones that are incorrect)," Schmidt said. "We're managing to work with this issue, but
it does present a small risk to the navigation. Second, we've had several computer resets
(which were likely) the result of
radiation. We are trying to find a way that even if
this occurs before a maneuver, we will not have to abort."
Schmidt said that the major challenges still lie ahead of the scheduled landing,
specifically a process known as "lunar capture." During this phase, Beresheet will be
pulled into the moon's orbit by its gravity. This is expected to take place in early April
and requires "perfect timing and positioning" roughly 250,000 miles away, according to
"The landing itself is a huge, huge test," he said. "We are going to send a command to the
spacecraft to start (descending), and afterward we will have 20 minutes when everything
will work autonomously. So we need the sensor measurements to be good, the control system
to act properly and we hope that we will not land in the middle of a crater on a rock. We
are not in a position to forego the landing if we see something is not working
Ikea Israel Sued for Erasing Women from Catalog
Ikea is being sued for a form of gender discrimination after it published a special
furniture catalog in Israel that deliberately left out photos of women and girls. The
catalog was created especially for the local ultra-Orthodox community.
As a first step in the legal battle, Jerusalem District Court was asked recently to
approve the multimillion dollar suit as a class action. The case was filed by Hannah
Katsman, a modern Orthodox woman from the central Israeli town of Petah Tikva, and the
Israel Religious Action Center the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in the
After discovering the catalog in her mailbox, Katsman alerted the center, a leading
advocate in the battle against gender discrimination on religious grounds. According to
Orly Erez-Likhovski, director of the legal department at the center, this is the first
time an international company has faced a class action suit for such discrimination in
Israel. The suit was filed against the Israeli division of Ikea and its director, Shuki
"The total exclusion of women and girls from the catalog sends a serious and difficult
message that women have no value and there is something wrong with their presence, even in
the family-home space depicted in the catalog," according to the suit.
"This discrimination and exclusion have severely insulted, angered and traumatized those
who received the catalog," it added. "The damage caused by this exclusion affects much
larger circles and has the potential to harm the status of women in society in general and
in ultra-Orthodox society in particular."
The controversial catalog was distributed for a limited period in 2017. Following
complaints, Ikea in Israel announced it would refrain from distributing catalogs that
exclude women in the future. A subsequent catalog distributed in Israel that also targeted
the ultra-Orthodox population had no photographs of people in it at all.
The main headquarters of Ikea in Sweden had not been aware of the special catalog and
issued an apology immediately. Israel is the only country in the world in which images of
women were intentionally removed from one of its catalogs. An attempt to publish a similar
catalog in Saudi Arabia was thwarted, according to Erez-Likhovski.
The petitioners have demanded that Ikea pay compensation to close to the 10,000
ultra-Orthodox women they estimate have been harmed by its actions. They are asking for
minimum damages of 1,500 shekels ($415) for each woman represented in the class action.
Also, they are demanding that Ikea resume distributing its regular catalog, with photos of
both women and men, in the ultra-Orthodox community.
To quantify the damages, the center commissioned a survey of women in the ultra-Orthodox
community. According to its findings, close to 20% of those women questioned who had seen
the catalog took offense at its content.
Last September, an Israeli court awarded 1 million shekels in damages in a class action
suit brought against an ultra-Orthodox radio station that refused to put women on the air.
The suit was filed by a group of Orthodox feminists, Kolech, on behalf of ultra-Orthodox
women who as a result of this practice could not hear the voices of women on an
ultra-Orthodox radio station called Kol Barama. The center represented Kolech in that case
as well. "The conventional wisdom is that ultra-Orthodox women are fine with being
excluded," said Erez-Likhovski. "What we have learned from these cases is that that is a
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)