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Israel Reportedly Preparing for Iran Missile Strike

By i24NEWS
Israel is preemptively bolstering its defenses over fears that Iran may retaliate against an ongoing series of attacks on its proxies in Syria and Iraq that have been attributed to Israel, Army Radio reported. Citing unidentified sources, the report claimed Israel was focusing its defense capabilities on harder to detect, low-flying cruise missiles and drone strikes - unlike high-arcing ballistic missiles that are easier to intercept. As tensions escalate in the region, the IDF has been on high alert and the security cabinet will convene for an impromptu meeting next week, according to sources. Last month, citing several Iranian, Western and Iraqi sources, Reuters reported that Tehran had dispatched missiles to its allies as a "back-up plan" in case Iran was attacked by the United States or Israel. The missiles, of which were said to be in the dozens, were intended to send a warning to the U.S. and Israel, especially following several airstrikes on Iranian troops in Syria that analysts have attributed to the Israel. According to the report, the missiles have ranges of between 200 to 700 kilometers, saying Israel's densely populated city of Tel Aviv and Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh were within striking distance if launched from southern or western Iraq. Earlier this week, eyes have been on the Syrian-Turkish border as the U.S. pulled its troops from the region, but at Israel's request, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would leave a "small contingent" behind. The pullback of the military presence by Israel's biggest ally has been a key concern in Jerusalem, and Israeli leaders have been outspoken on their mission to defend the country against the Iranian threat.

Gantz Gets Shot at Forming Government, Invites Netanyahu to Negotiations

By World Israel News

Israel's former military chief Benny Gantz was tasked Wednesday with forming the next government, but he has few options after last month's elections left him in a near tie with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. President Reuven Rivlin formally granted the mandate to Gantz, who will have 28 days to form a coalition. It is the first time in over a decade that anyone besides Netanyahu has been given the task. After accepting the mandate at Rivlin's official residence in Jerusalem, Gantz commented, "I will invite all the parties that are represented in the Knesset, even those who will not be in the government. I will first turn to the Likud and to its head Netanyahu and offer for him to be part of that government," the Times of Israel reported. Gantz, a lifelong military man, has presented himself as a practical leader who can bridge Israel's many divisions and address the various security threats it faces. Gantz presents himself as a more trustworthy alternative to the Netanyahu and may hope to evoke past generals who became statesmen, including Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon. But he faces steep odds in every possible path to forming a government. He has been endorsed by just 54 lawmakers representing an array of parties that are unlikely to sit together in a coalition. Both Gantz and Netanyahu say they favor a national unity government. Together, Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Blue and White control a solid 65-seat majority. But the two men are divided over who should lead any new government. Netanyahu has insisted he head the government, at least for the first two years, and that it include his right-wing allies, conditions that Gantz has repeatedly rejected. Blue and White nevertheless invited Likud negotiators to a meeting planned for Thursday. Gantz could potentially break up the right-wing alliance and recruit some of the smaller parties to his coalition. But that might be seen as a major betrayal by those parties' voters. Another option would be to form a minority government with Avigdor Lieberman, who emerged as kingmaker after his party won eight seats and has refused to endorse either Gantz or Netanyahu. Gantz might be able to convince the Arab Joint List, which won 13 seats, to support the coalition from the outside. That would bring down Netanyahu but result in a highly unstable government. It's also far from clear that Lieberman, a nationalist with a history of harsh rhetoric toward the Arab minority, would support such a scheme. No Arab party has ever sat in an Israeli government. The political deadlock dates back to April when Lieberman refused to join a right-wing coalition under Netanyahu, denying him a majority. In response, parliament voted to dissolve itself, leading to an unprecedented repeat election in September. A similar scenario could play out again. A recent poll found that Likud MK Gideon Saar received the greatest support among the general public (41%), as compared with Likud MKs Yuli Edelstein (8%), Gilad Erdan (6%), and other candidates (8%) to replace Netanyahu. In possibly far-reaching ramifications should Israel go to a third election, only about half of Israel Beiteinu voters (51.5%) said they would vote for the party again. It was the lowest outcome compared to the other parties, such as Likud (88.5%) and Blue and White (84%). Israel Beiteinu, led by Liberman, brought about both the April election and the subsequent September election by first quitting as defense minister and then, second, by refusing to join the Netanyahu coalition. A loss of Knesset seats would significantly weaken Liberman's ability to influence events. It is also likely that his generally right-wing supporters would flow to other right-wing parties, including the Likud. The poll was done under the direction of Menachem Lazar of PanelsLTD for the Israel Democracy Institute's Guttman Center. Among its other findings, 56% of the public support a rotational government between Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, in which they would take turns acting as prime minister. Of those surveyed, 14% support a rotation only if Netanyahu is first in line to serve as prime minister, and 20% only if Gantz is first. The poll found that 41% of the general public is in favor of including the ultra-Orthodox parties in the government, while 66% of Israeli Jews view the establishment of a coalition that includes the Arab Joint List as problematic.

Kurdish Children are Being Treated at Israeli Hospital

By the Jerusalem Post

After being bombed and attacked by both the Turkish Army and its allied Free Syrian Army Forces in Afrin last year, Aram (name changed for security reasons) and her family – Kurds who were native to northern Syria – were forced to flee to Iraqi Kurdistan, much like the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have recently become refugees due to the Turkish military operation. When Aram arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan, her 3.5-year-old son, Ajwan, required open-heart surgery that was unavailable in Kurdistan, but an American doctor working in Kurdistan told her that Ajwan could be treated in Israel. "I was not afraid to come to Israel, even though I was warned I could lose my Syrian passport," Aram told The Jerusalem Post. Within a short time, Ajwan was connected to the Jerusalem-based Christian Zionist NGO Shevet Achim, which arranged visas for Aram and Ajwan and heart surgery for Ajwan at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. The goal of Shevet Achim is to help non-Israeli children receive life-saving medical care in the Jewish state. The program, headed by the NGO's head, Jonathan Miles, is specifically focused on heart surgeries for children. In the last 10 months, they have arranged treatment at Sheba and visas for 41 Iraqi Kurdish children, as well as three from Syria. Despite recent escalations, efforts are continuing. Two new patients are slated to arrive from the war-torn areas on Sunday, according to Miles, though he could not disclose further details. "For a Kurdish child to come here, his visa has to cross the desk of the interior minister, who limits entry to those who need life-saving medical care," Miles said, noting that the families fly through Jordan to Israel. He said that with as many as 200,000 to 300,000 Kurds who have sought – or are seeking – refuge in northern Iraq, he assumes another 20 to 30 children with congenital heart diseases will need to be treated, and Israel will "have an opportunity to reach out a hand in this way." Most of the surgeries are handled by Dr. David Mishali, head of the International Congenital Heart Center with Sheba's Safra Children's Hospital. He told the Post that without these surgeries, the children would either die or face a lifetime of debilitation. "In many cases, when we read the children's medical file from his country of origin, it can differ from what we discover with our advanced check-ups," Mishali explained. "That is because in many Third World countries, medical technology is nearly 60 years behind from developed Western countries, like Israel." Similarly, Mishali said that he has to consider carefully which specific type of surgery to perform because patients are being sent back to a country where there is little if any, primary care. He said that he is rarely able to talk directly with the families because of communication barriers. Most of the Kurdish patients don't even speak Arabic, so they have to communicate via somebody who speaks both Arabic and Kurdish, and then have that person relay a message to someone who speaks both Arabic and Hebrew and vice versa. The surgeon explained that he reads the news and knows his newest patients will be coming to him after experiencing extensive trauma. However, he said he is not focused on recent events in Syria or Iraq or political policies in the region. "I am taking care of the patients the same way I take care of my Israeli patients," he said. "They are beautiful people – warm and authentic people. It is a pleasure to take care of them." Aram explained that she and other Kurds are "not hostages in the hospital," and that Sheba and Israel allow them out of the hospital under the oversight of Shevet Achim to see the country, including touring Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and praying on the Temple Mount. "I am thankful for all of the help," she said, "and especially the doctors at Sheba for saving my child."

Southern Poverty Law Center Lumps Pro-Israel Evangelical Organization into Same List of `Hate Groups' as KKK

By United with Israel

Each year since 1990, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has published an updated "hate map" of groups operating within the United States. This year's map features over 1,000 extremist organizations, such as the KKK, neo-Nazi organizations, and neo-Confederate groups. SPLC also added an Evangelical Christian pro-Israel advocacy group called Proclaiming Justice to The Nations (PJTN) to the list this year. Laurie Cardoza-Moore, PJTN president and founder, was in shock after seeing her organization on the list. "If being pro-Israel and against anti-Semitism is now considered a hate crime, I will wear the SPLC listing as a badge of honor," Cardoza-Moore said. "Placing PJTN alongside bigots and Nazis minimizes the true meaning of hate." "PJTN is on the front lines fighting against anti-Semitism on a daily basis. Our answer to this absurd listing will be to open more PJTN chapters in America and fight harder to have anti-Semitism defined and confronted throughout the free world," she added. According to a report by Politico, the SPLC is coming under fire by critics who believe that the group abuses its position as an arbiter of hatred by labeling legitimate players "hate groups" and "extremists" to keep the attention of its liberal donors. The PJTN's stated mission is to educate Christians about their responsibility to stand with the Jewish people against the rise of anti-Semitism.

88% of American Jews say Anti-Semitism is a Problem in the US

By JTA

More than eight in 10 American Jews say that anti-Semitism has spiked in recent years and even more believe it is a problem in the United States, according to an American Jewish Committee survey. Nearly three-quarters of respondents strongly disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling anti-Semitism and significantly more see the extreme political right as more of a serious threat to them than the extreme political left. The telephone survey of 1,283 Jewish adults conducted from Sept. 11 to Oct. 6 found that 88% of respondents believe that anti-Semitism was a problem: 50% as "somewhat of a problem" and 38% as a "very serious" problem. Asked if anti-Semitism had increased over the past five years, 84% said it had: 43% said a lot and 41% said somewhat. Just 2% of respondents said they had been victims of a physical anti-Semitic attack over the same time frame, but 23% said they had been the target of an anti-Semitic remark in person, by mail or over the phone, and 20% said they had been targeted through social media. Asked if they approve or disapprove of Trump's handling of anti-Semitism, 72% said they disapprove — 62% strongly — and 24% approve. Trump has spoken out forcefully at times against anti-Semitism but also has equivocated at times, notably after the deadly neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. He also has downplayed the threat of violent white nationalism. The president's overall ratings saw similar numbers: 76% unfavorable and 22% favorable. The respondents mostly identified as liberal, at 56% and Democrats, 53%. Among the others, 21% each identified as "middle of the road" and conservative. Fourteen percent said they were Republicans and 23% Independents. They were likelier to perceive a threat from the far-right and radical Muslims than they did from the left. The extreme right posed a threat for 89% of respondents, including 49% who said it was very serious and 29% calling it moderately serious. Asked about "extremism in the name of Islam," 85% said it posed a threat: 27% each said it was very serious and moderately serious, and 31% calling it slight. Asked about extremism from the extreme left, 64% identified a threat, with a total of 36% calling it very serious or moderately serious and 28% saying the threat is slight. The respondents seemed likelier to see the threat emerging from the far right, with 49% calling it very serious as opposed to 15% from the far left. Asked about the political parties and their responsibility for the current level of anti-Semitism, the respondents rated Republicans at 6.2 on a scale with 10 as the highest, while Democrats came in at 3.6. Nearly two-thirds of respondents were familiar or somewhat familiar with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. Twenty-four percent said they were not at all familiar with BDS. Of the 1,013 respondents who had at least some familiarity with the movement, 35% characterized it as "mostly anti-Semitic," 47% said it had "some anti-Semitic supporters" and 14% said it was not anti-Semitic. Asked to characterize the statement "Israel has no right to exist," 84% of respondents said it was anti-Semitic. They also were asked about two other statements: "The U.S. government only supports Israel because of Jewish money" and "American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America." The former was seen as anti-Semitic by 80% and the latter by 73%. Asked if they "avoid certain places, events, or situations out of concern for your safety or comfort as a Jew," 25% of respondents said they did, while 31% said they avoided "Publicly wearing, carrying, or displaying things that might help people identify you as a Jew." The AJC said the survey, conducted by SSRS, had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.


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