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Bayit Yehudi Thugs Assaulted Mizrahi Social Justice Activists

Following up on my post about the assault on Israeli gay activists by Bayit Yehudi (BY) thugs during an election rally in Haifa, I’ve interviewed the Party spokesperson, Itamar Fleischman and Lilach Ben David, one of the victims.  The real story is much more complex, disturbing and interesting than the Haaretz news report which spurred my post initially.

Lilach is a Mizrahi LGBT activist who also works on Israeli social justice issues.  She went to the Bennett rally in Haifa with four fellow activists.  Four of them were women and four of them were also, interestingly, Mizrahi.  One of these was Naama Lazimi, who is also a member of the Haifa branch of the Labor Party. They decided to protest at the Bayit Yehudi rally the hypocrisy and racism of the Party.  Among the issues were: MK candidates who derided same sex marriage and Bennett’s support for the dismantling of public housing and transfer of this funding to settlements.

Tal Schneider notes that BY candidate, Bezalel Smotrich trumpeted on Facebook that he was a “proud homophobe,” and that gays have a right to be “abnormal” at home but that the State shouldn’t be asked to accept homosexuality as “normal.”  He is known for provocations like organizing an “animal parade” of cattle through Jerusalem streets during the gay pride celebration there.

The Party leader doubled down on this himself:

“Let them in the media say that we are backwards, homophobes and extremists…”

One of the responses of the gay community to some of this hysteria was, as Schneider notes, a “Saturday of gay love,” designed to shock the prudes in the Party.

Given the BY claims about the protest and supposed threat it posed to Bennet’s security, it’s important to note that while there was private security at the event, no guests were searched, there were no metal detectors or weapons searches, and no bags were inspected.  Though Bennett has a Shabak security detail, it had no involvement in security for the event.  It merely accompanied him once he entered the hall.

Once inside, when Bennett began to speak one group shouted questions and criticism at him (video) while raising a gay pride rainbow flag.  The flag was ripped from the hands of the person holding it and the protesters were assaulted.  In another part of the hall, Lilach Ben David decided to climb to the balcony, which was empty and isolated (see her video).  Once she arrived there and Bennett began speaking, she shouted slogans accusing the minister of closing factories in development towns with high unemployment.  She also called him “racist” and a “thief.”

Ben David noted to me that Bayit Yehudi is monolithic Ashkenazi, pro-settler Party.  In our context, it would be called “lily-white.”  Before the Party primaries, Bennett wanted to soften the BY’s image so he attempted to guarantee a Knesset seat for Israel’s most famous soccer star, Eli Ohana.  When the Party faithful learned of this, they arose as one and demanded that it be overturned.  Bennett bowed to pressure and Ohana was out of the race.  This is why Ben David called the BY leader “racist.”  It was also one of the reasons this group of Mizrahi social justice activists targeted the hypocrisy of Bayit Yehudi.

Returning to the night of the protest, several Party members ran to the balcony and asked her to stop.  When she refused, one of her attackers gave her till three to stop.  When she again refused, he began punching her in the face and body.  Her glasses were thrown over the parapet and landed on the stage below.  She turned her body to protect herself so her back was to the thug beating her.  He continued punching her.  Eventually, the police removed her from the hall and temporarily detained her in an alley outside.

Besides the damage from the punches, she had swelling and contusions on her scalp and other parts of her body.  She also wrenched her back and is under treatment with her doctor.  Outside the hall, she demanded to file a complaint and that the police search for her assailant, who she described in detail to them.  They refused to take a report, and for thirty minutes they refused to look for the attacker.  By the time they did, he’d long disappeared from the scene.  When she asked the police to summon an EMT, they also refused.  Finally, she vomited in the street.  Only at that point did they allow her to go home.  They filed no charges against her and did not arrest her.

During our interview, Lilach raised an important point about the election campaign: there is none.  Everyone knows the far-right will win, again.  No major Party is addressing real issues like the economy, social justice, national security or peace.  The Combined List of Jewish-Palestinian parties is trying to do so.  But it is essentially marginalized.  The only slogan the center parties of the so-called Zionist Camp raises is: “We’re not Bibi.”  That’s about as inspiring to the electorate as Herbert Hoover calling for a chicken in every pot as his election slogan at the start of the Great Depression.

So, if there are no ideas and no debate on issues, the far-right parties must distinguish themselves in other ways.  One, is to trumpet their role as alleged victims of left-wing violence.  Raise the specter of Hitler, the Holocaust and Rabin’s assassination.  Those are always good for sympathy from Israeli voters.

She also noted that the far-right uses political slogans of incitement against the left parties by accusing them of welcoming ISIS terrorists to Israel (a campaign ad I noted here) and being “Hamasniks.”  Think for a second about what this means.  Being associated in any way with Hamas is a crime in Israel.  Israel fights repeated wars against Hamas in which Israeli are killed.  For the far-right to smear the left with such odious slogans is, in fact, an invitation for the lunatic of the right like Yigal Amir to rise up and smite the enemy.

So, during his interview, Itamar Flesichman falsely claimed that protesters have called Bennett “Hitler.”  In fact, such language in public discourse is illegal and had anyone used it they would’ve been arrested.  As I wrote in my post, Bayit Yehudi accuses the left of “forgetting the example” of Rabin’s murder.  The implication is that the “incitement” of catcalls and protest will inspire a deranged leftist to take the law into his own hands and gun Bennett down.

The Party’s spokesperson also falsely claimed that Bennett’s security detail refused to allow him to enter the hall at all for fear of the violence that might confront him.  Bennett himself, supposedly ignored their advice and went on stage anyway.  What gives the lie to this accusation is the fact that no one searched anyone entering the hall.  No one had to show ID.  Had anyone there wished to do Bennett harm, they could easily have done so.

In fact, Lilach make a point of saying that the laxity of security at the event was scandalous.  Considering his is a nation in which a rightist zealot murdered a prime minister, you’d think security would be more vigilant.

But the main point is that if Bennett or his security detail believed there was any danger, they would have approached the event entirely differently.  The fact that they didn’t indicates they had no concerns about the minister’s physical safety.

Fleishman complained that the disruption of the Party meeting was “anti-democratic” and “illegal.”  He further maintained that such behavior would never be allowed at any U.S. political event.  When I tried to point out to him that such outbursts are standard procedure during election season here, he flat out denied it and demanded that I send him video of such an incident.

He had a clear sense of entitlement.  As if being a major political party entitled it to a certain deference from the public.  Bayit Yehudi’s stature somehow demanded a sense of decorum and denying that to the Party was an insult not to be borne.  The truth of the matter is that the protesters broke no laws and in fact, were exercising their protected right to free speech.  These are hard values for the inheritors of the mantle of Kahane to grasp.

The history of many fascist movements involves accusing their opponents of using precisely the tactics that they use against them.  Though there is debate about the origin of the Reichstag Fire, some historians and Nazi archival documents say the Nazis set the fire themselves.  But they accused the Communist Party of the plot and argued it was part of a wider plot to topple the Nazi government and launch a coup.  This offered Hitler a golden opportunity to clamp down on dissent and solidify his hold on power.

Isn’t it interesting that an Israeli political party accusing the left of a campaign of violence against it, uses savage violence against the supposed perpetrators?  Isn’t it interesting that Bayit Yehudi claims its candidate is called “Hitler” when, in fact, Bennett and Neanyahu accuse the left of being the reverse, in cahoots with murdering Arab terrorists.  Isn’t it interesting that a rightist Party which abhored Rabin, leader of a Party of the left, accuses the contemporary left of plotting to murder Naftali Bennett.  Reality for the fascist mentality is a mirror which reverses everything it sees.  Black is white, up is down.  Leftists are killers and rightists are victims.

This is a pathological psychology that may lead to rule of the far-right for decades in Israel.  But it will also lead inevitably to the ultimate demise of this State based on racism, blood, and oppression and its transformation into one based in justice, equality, and tolerance.

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snowden memo

NSA memo outlining “trilaterial meeting” held with Unit 8200 and GCHQ to analyze Iranian leadership.

Last week, Glenn Greenwald published (article) a new document from the Snowden trove, which describes a 2013 meeting between GCHQ, UK’s spy agency and the NSA. The agenda involved a discussion of the monitoring of Iranian intelligence and cyber-warfare activity.  Among the past successful efforts mentioned are the Iranian attack on the British embassy in Tehran, Iran’s exposure of the Israeli-created Flame virus, and the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.  Though Greenwald doesn’t note this, the latter indicates (at least to me) that both American and UK spies were monitoring the negotiations.  My strong suspicion is that they were spying on the Iranian delegation so they would know what its positions would be, thus getting a leg up on the Iranians.  The NSA has already been exposed in previous stories as performing such a function involving U.S. international trade negotiations.  Since the stakes are infinitely higher in the Iran talks, it would be even more critical for us to know what Iran’s bargaining points would be.

Most interesting to me in the secret document is something Greenwald never touched at all (I’ll explain why a bit later).  In today’s Haaretz, Amir Oren writes about this part of the memo.  It notes the first-ever “trilateral analytic workshop” held in January 2013, between NSA, GCHQ, and Unit 8200 (referred to here as ISNU, Israeli SIGINT National Unit), which reviewed the intelligence-gathering efforts regarding the Iranian leadership.  The published memo redacts the portion which indicates the specific purpose of the meeting.  But one can assume that they were analyzing the various leaders, their strengths and weaknesses, and how best to take advantage of them for the interests of the three specific countries.

The memo also practically boasts about the good relations among the three agencies and indicates that each of them see such cooperation as advancing the political, military and intelligence interests of their respective countries.  But it also indicates that the reason such cooperation hadn’t happen prior to this was the opposition of “SID,” which presumably refers to the Signals Intelligence Directorate, the largest unit within the NSA, to working together with the Israelis.  The memo calls such opposition a “potential landmine” and clarifies that the workshop shouldn’t be considered a violation of this understanding.

I’m guessing Greenwald didn’t mention Unit 8200 in his report is that he has an agreement with Haaretz to publish the portions of the Snowden files dealing with Israel.  Thus, reporting on this fell to Amir Oren.

The memo also acknowledges that not only did Iran prepare and execute its own counter-attack against U.S. and Israeli cyber-attacks on its nuclear installations, but it learned directly from these attacks how to defend against them and use them in its own offensive attacks.  It implicitly warns that Iran could be expected to exploit any attacks against it in ways that in future may be far more damaging than anything it had mounted thus far.  I warned against precisely this possibility in this post.

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After much research and many phone calls to sources close to Micha Peretz, the Negev moshavnik arrested secretly by the Shabak, I finally reached a knowledgeable individual close to the family.  After I told him of my interest in Peretz’s fate, the source told me that the arrested man was “innocent” and the victim of harassment on the part of the intelligence services.  I was not able to engage in a longer conversation (yet).  But I’m trying.

There have been numerous reports and claims by Israeli politicians scouring the country for voters frightened about security issues that Hamas has rebuilt those “terror tunnels” from Gaza into southern Israel.  First, Naftali Bennett harangued about the subject and reminded voters he favored bombing Gaza back to the Stone Age, while Bibi only favored bombing it back to the Middle Ages.

Not to be outdone, Labor MK Omer Bar Lev told Israel Radio that Party chief, Isaac Herzog toured Israeli settlements on the Gaza border where he allegedly witnessed this nefarious activity and warned that Gaza was an issue that deserved more national attention.  To his credit, Herzog’s approach wasn’t to bomb Gaza, but rather to bring about “economic improvement.”  I’d call this Likud-lite, since even Likud makes the claim that it has eased up on Gaza (which is false).  Note, Herzog won’t touch the issue of the Israeli blockade, which is the ultimate cause of economic and political stagnation there.  It’s the elephant sitting in the room.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I’m guessing that Peretz has gotten swept up in this Hamas campaign (as concocted by political operatives) to rebuild the tunnels.  Either someone in the security apparatus believes Peretz helped with this (intentionally or unintentionally); or else he’s someone’s convenient scapegoat over this ‘plot’ against Israeli security.  There is also a possibility that the Shabak believes he was engaged in a plot against Hamas or Gaza using tunnels from Israel to Gaza, though this seems farther-fetched.

I’m taking bets how long it will take before an Israeli media outlet will break this story in Israel.  Will it be weeks or months?  The louder we raise our voices the shorter it will be.

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Yesterday, Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi Party held a festive celebration in support of its election campaign.  Recently, a number of candidates on its Knesset list have made disparaging comments about gays, specifically denouncing gay marriage, which is still prohibited in Israel (where the Orthodox rabbinate largely controls matters related to marriage and divorce).

In response, Israel gay activists have begun shadowing Bennett and his Party events to raise awareness of both gay rights and Bayit Yehudi’s rejection of them. At last night’s rally, when activists began shouting slogans in favor of gay marriage and displayed a rainbow flag, Party thugs attacked them viciously. You can see part of the assault in the video.  What you don’t see is Lilach Ben David being punched in the face and all over her body in an effort to muzzle her.

That wasn’t terribly surprising given the extraordinary level of violence in Israeli political discourse (including a number of assassinations over the decades). What was surprising was Bayit Yehudi’s response to the assault. Instead of acknowledging what happened and the role Party members played in the attack, it spun a tale of a leftist cabal conniving to assassinate Bennett.  Though the protesters were entirely non-violent, the Party accused them of fomenting violence:

Habayit Hayehudi responded that it was the left that was responsible for the violence at the event. “We call on the leaders of the left to denounce the violence of their activists before it is too late and the violence of the left causes irreversible damage.”

The party said that its leader, Bennett, is currently the country’s only politician who is being advised by security officials not to attend events where left-wing activists are present. “The left has not learned a thing from the murder of [Yitzhak] Rabin and the incitement that it is carrying out at the moment will have harsh consequences while Bougie and Tzipi [Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni] are silent.”

The claim that “security officials” advised them of a leftist plot to assassinate him is beyond preposterous.  Further, the idea that a right-wing extremist Party would school gay activists about the lessons of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin is a schandeh.  Even worse, Bayit Yehudi officials are claiming that the “incitement” of last night’s protest is what will spur a crazy leftist to murder Bennett himself.

If you read Hebrew, Bennett’s wife has taken to Facebook to warn the Israeli public of “well-financed Israeli leftist extremists” who are gunning for her husband. But let’s call a spade a spade: there is no history of leftist violence in Israel (with the possible exception of the murder of Jacob De Haan in the 1910s which was approved by Israel’s future first President, Yitzhak Ben Zvi). There have been no killings or even assaults by leftists on rightists. On the contrary, there have been many vicious assaults and assassinations of leftist politicians and activists by the far-right over the decades. I’ve documented many of them here. This is yet another way the violent, histrionic far-right engages in historical revisionism.

Let’s call this what it is: naked aggrandizement and hysteria.  It’s meant to arouse the wrath of the Party faithful by making them believe there is a genuine leftist threat to Bennett.  It’s yet another form of political warfare that currently reigns in Israeli politics.  Bibi and Likud are bad enough.  But Bennett is the wave of the future.  He’s Meir Kahane in a suit and tie.

If any readers have phone numbers for either Party HQ or a Party press representative, let me know.

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zvika klein paris

Zvika Klein prepares for his ‘walk on the wild side’ through Paris’ ‘No-Go’ zones

Though Israeli “journalist” Zvika Klein’s Paris “walk on the wild side” through allegedly Muslim Paris neighborhoods aroused indignation in Israeli and western media, the story aroused skepticism in French media.  The French publication Les Inrocks published an investigative piece and interview with Klein which undermined many of the claims and assumptions on which his video was based.  Thanks to reader Deir Yassin for bringing the article to my attention.

As I noted in an earlier post, Klein claims he walked through Paris for “ten hours,” yet the entire video is 1:36.  Almost half of the video shows him walking with no interaction with anyone (let alone being insulted).  So there is less than one minute of negative interaction with Parisian Muslims.

At one point, Klein claims a woman spat at him.  Yet you cannot see what he claims on the video itself.  He admits in his NRG article that he also was accompanied by a “security guard” because of “tense conditions” in the city.  One wonders if Klein half expected or hoped that he would be attacked by an Islamist in order to get a really good story.

In an interview with Les Inrocks, Klein claims to have walked through the 23rd Arrondissement.  There are only 20 in Paris.  He also claims he walked through Barbes in the Parisian suburbs when it’s in the city center.  He claimed he was constantly harassed in Saracelles, but one-third of this neighborhood is itself Jewish.  Apparently, Jewish residents have figured out a way to live with their Muslim neighbors.

The Les Inrocks reporter who wrote the story interviewed Klein.  The interview was conducted in English, since he doesn’t speak French.  Klein told him “a friend” translated the purported French slurs.  We know nothing about who did the translations, what his background was, his level of knowledge of French, etc.  Several French speakers have told me after listening repeatedly to the audio, that they can’t hear the comments purported in the captions.  This raises further concerns about the authenticity of this entire project.

As you read him, Klein’s fear and racist assumptions about Paris’ Muslims becomes ever clearer:

At times, it feels like wandering around Ramallah.  Most of the women wore veils and hijabs and the men had distinctively Muslim faces.  Arabic was heard everywhere…I would be lying if I didn’t say I was frightened.

Klein’s own video puts the lie to his claims about the dress of women he passed.  In only one short section are the heads of women covered at all and no women wear veils in all the video footage he displays.  In fact, the veil (burqa) is legally prohibited in France.  A French reader who walks in Paris daily says the last time she saw anyone wearing a veil was months ago.  As for “distinctively Muslim faces” you can see many such faces in Israel, and they are the faces of Mizrahi Jews, not Muslims.

As for Ramallah, I doubt Klein knows anything about the place, since it’s one of the more secular of Palestinian cities.  If he ever visited it, it’s been a very long time since he did.  There are Israeli Jews who live in Ramallah and actually know it.  But Klein isn’t one of them.

The French reader mentioned above lives in the 19th Arrondissement, a popular new neighborhood where Orthodox Jews have flocked since they were driven out of the Marais by gentrification. She sees scores of kippot each day on the streets and in the Metro. Apparently these French Jews don’t face the problems Klein found.

Not to mention that if you walk certain streets in Israel and the West Bank you will see even worse behavior.  In Jerusalem, Haredi Jews spit at priests walking the streets of the Old City and spray graffiti on church buildings.  In Hebron, settlers spit and throw rocks at Palestinian residents of the city.  What’s the difference?  Will Klein don a keffiyeh and walk the streets of Tapuach and Yizhar, particularly extremist Israeli settlements and report back on his reception there?

The Les Inrocks article also displays a tweet Klein published during Operation Protective Edge in which he quotes Meir Habib, a member of the French legislature who represents overseas French voters in Israel.  Habib is also the former Likud Party spokesperson in France.

Read the interview Klein published with Habib in NRG. None of the quotations he included in the article have Habib saying what he claimed in the tweet. At no time does he say there is no future for Jews in France. And even if he did, Habib is little more than a Likud appointee dutifully representing the views of his master, the Israeli prime minister, who’s called publicly for all Jews to leave not just France, but all of Europe.  I asked Klein to explain the discrepancy, but he hasn’t responded.

Klein’s foray into the heart of the Paris’ Muslim beast is an extension of the Robert Spencer fake “No-Go” claims about UK cities like Birmingham.  The truth is that there are no No-Go neighborhoods in any European city where Jews may not walk without being in fear of their lives.  If you create a provocation and act suspiciously as Klein did taking a cameraman and security guard with him into such a neighborhood, then of course you will arouse suspicion.  And why wouldn’t  you?

The French publication also researched Klein’s background, job history, and previous social media activity.  Earlier in his career, he served in the IDF spokesman’s unit responsible for outreach to the Orthodox community.  After that, he did similar work for Bnai Akiva, the Orthodox Zionist youth organization.  You’ll remember that the world leader of B’nai Akiva, Rabbi Noam Perel, urged the IDF to avenge the kidnap-murder of three Israeli youth by collecting the foreskins of 300 Palestinians, just as David had offered 200 Philistines foreskins as a bride price to King Saul for his daughter. That should tell you quite a bit about Klein’s own views of “Arabs.”

After the Charlie Hebdo attack, Klein prominently featured this tweet from the French Jewish Defense League, which echoed Netanyahu’s call for all French Jews to abandon France and make aliya:

Consider also this distinguished part of Klein’s journalistic oeuvre: a profile of an American motorcycle gang, Defenders of Liberty, which boasts on its Facebook page that it will demonstrate in Washington in favor of Bibi Netanyahu’s speech.

Unfortunately, The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, a normally careful, thoughtful foreign policy analyst whose work I admire, took the video as authentic.  But in this matter, he was too credulous.  He wrote a piece which treated Klein’s video as authentic and quoted widely from Klein’s accompanying article in Makor Rishon.  This is what happens when fake journalism becomes amplified by the mainstream.  And all the more reason for serious journalists to exercise due diligence before accepting the word of untested sources like Klein. Friedersdorf may’ve been directed to it by his fellow Atlantic colleague, Jeffrey Goldberg.  I wrote Friedersdorf and sent him links to my posts, which I hope he will read and respond to appropriately.

On a related subject, the leader of a distinguished French Jewish organization fighting anti-Semitism has roundly condemned Netanyahu’s pandering to French Jews.  This is a translation by Walid of an article in Le Figaro:

In an interview of Alain Jakubowicz, the President of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism by Le Figaro, he said Jews in France have a future there since they have a past and that he has asked Netanyahu to stop encouraging French Jews to return to Israel. Jakubowicz said that it was to be expected for Israeli leaders to do it but that Netanyahu’s repeated calls to do so are devastating. There is a way that this should be asked but the way Netanyahu is doing it is menacing and cataclysmic. Netanyahu conveys to French Jews that they are second class citizens that their country can no longer protect.

Jakubowicz went on to say that Netanyahu is re-asserting that Jews have dual loyalties and that they aren’t really French, which feeds anti-Semitism. He also said that the reunification of all the world’s Jews in Israel to create a village worthy of Asterix would be a disaster for the world and for the Jews. It is often thought there is an exodus of French Jews, which is an exaggeration. In fact, thousands have chosen to go to Israel and elsewhere; some of these had problems living their Judaism according to the Torah in neighbourhoods of a secular society, but this is not an exodus and it shouldn’t become one. There is a difference between what happened with Merah (Toulouse) and Charlie Hebdo; this must be deconstructed to show that it’s a matter of French citizens.

Zvika Klein might’ve done better to publish an interview and profile of Jakubowicz than gallivant around Paris needlessly provoking a harsh Muslim response.

H/t to reader John Dickerson.

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Israeli Reporter’s Islamophobic Gotcha ‘Journalism’


An Israeli journalist writing for the Adelson-owned, Makor Rishon/NRG, devised an Israeli version of Charlie Hebdo to embarrass the Muslims of Paris.  It is ‘gotcha journalism’ of the worst sort.  The reporter, Zvika Klein, donned a kippah and tzitzit (he is not Orthodox) and spent ten hours roaming the streets of various Paris neighborhoods.  He focussed particularly on Muslim neighborhoods hoping he would provoke an especially vehement or abusive response.  He succeeded.  Several passersby spat or glowered at him or shouted “Vive Les Palestiniens!”  To further reinforce the point that Arabs are animals, he walked through other neighborhoods where he was treated civilly.

settler killers

Try being Palestinian and living in this guy’s neighborhood!!

This is journalism of the most cynical, debased sort.  Why?  Because Klein doesn’t plan to walk through Tel Aviv’s poorest neighborhoods dressed as an African refugee.  Nor does he plan to walk through Tapuach or Yizhar wearing a keffiyeh.  If he had, he likely would’ve been killed rather than just spat upon.  He doesn’t plan to walk through Meah Shearim kissing his boyfriend.  When he tries these stunts and publicizes the reactions, then we’ll know he’s trying to be fair and balanced rather than an Islamophobic provocateur.

Also note the video condenses 10 hours of walking into 1:36 seconds.  What other sorts of responses are in the other nine hours and 59 minutes?  The other aspect of this gimmick that is objectionable is that he refused to speak to anyone he met.  This makes him a palimpset onto which the passersby project their own views.  But it also prevents any passersby from understanding what he is doing and why.  As I say, if he did something similar in many Israeli neighborhoods he would have a far worse reaction.

In a related matter, Bibi Netanyahu has once again exploited the Danish shootings to call upon all Jews in Europe to make aliyah.  The only problem is that with few exceptions they’re not responding.  Denmark’s chief rabbi rejected Bibi’s call saying the place for Danish Jews was in Denmark.  Despite a temporary increase in aliyah from France over the past two years, the overall Jewish population in western Europe is increasing.  The numbers of Jews in two of the three most populous European Jewish societies (Germany and France) have each grown since 1945.  German Jewish numbers rose from 45,000 in 1945 to 230,000 now (much of the increase comes from Israeli yordim); and French Jewry rose from in 180,000 in 1945 to 310,000 today.   The places where Jewish population is decreasing most is in eastern Europe and Russia.  These have historically been the poorest, most socially fragmented societies in Europe.  Anti-Semitism is less a motivator for immigration than economics and societal dysfunction.

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Two days ago I posted that an Israeli named Micha Peretz of the Negev moshav, Mivtahim, had been arrested by the Shabak for unspecified security offenses.  At the time, I speculated that the nearest prison where Shabak houses its security detainees is Shikma, near Ashkelon.  With the assistance of the prisoner rights NGO, HaMoked, I’ve confirmed that he is at Shikma.  But the Israeli prison authority refused to reveal the name of his counsel.  I have been trying various phone numbers under which Peretz is listed and for the moshav communal leadership, but no one answers.

When you have little confirmed information, it leaves room to infer from related events what might be the charges against Peretz.  The suspect lives virtually on the border with Gaza.  He specializes in fabricating agricultural and related infrastructure like tunnels, bridges, greenhouses, etc.

According to this Israeli report, Naftali Bennett revealed in a supposedly “closed” Q&A at a prayer service that Israel has detected that Hamas is building new tunnels into Israel.  He told his listeners another war in Gaza was a matter of a year or two, possibly even less.  Israel must strike even harder next time than it did during Operation Protective Edge, he said.

Given these two pieces of information, it seems possible that Peretz either knowingly or unknowingly may’ve participated in a project that was used, or could’ve been used by Hamas to tunnel into Israel.

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