PM: Thanks to Israel, Hezbollah Has Dozens of Precision Missiles, Not Thousands

By: Michael Bachner; The Times of Israel – timesofisrael.com

Netanyahu hints at Mossad involvement in operations that have thwarted the transfer of weaponry to the Iran-backed terror group

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walks out of a helicopter as he arrives in northern Israel, December 6, 2018 (Amit Shabi/Yedioth Ahronoth/POOL)

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walks out of a helicopter as he arrives in northern Israel, December 6, 2018 (Amit Shabi/Yedioth Ahronoth/POOL)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Thursday evening that Hezbollah currently has only several dozen precision-guided missiles, with Israeli security forces — including the Mossad spying agency — having stopped the Lebanese terror group obtaining thousands of such projectiles.

Netanyahu spoke several days after Israel launched an operation to find and destroy Hezbollah tunnels, with two such passages said uncovered so far.

The Israeli military has said it believes the tunnels were meant to be used by Hezbollah as a surprise component of an opening salvo in a future war, alongside the mass infiltration of operatives above ground and the launching of rockets, missiles, and mortar shells at northern Israel.

“Hezbollah has two tools [of attack],” Netanyahu said at an award ceremony for exceptional Mossad operatives at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. “One tool is tunnels, and we are depriving them of that.

“The other weapon is rockets, an imprecise weapon, but they also want precision weapons,” he added. “This radically changes the balance of power.”


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 27, 2018, and holds up a placard detailing alleged Hezbollah missile sites in Beirut. (AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

“According to Hezbollah’s plans, they were already supposed to be equipped with thousands of missiles, but right now they only have a few dozen. The reason that they only have a few dozen is, among others, sitting here in this room,” Netanyahu told the Mossad servicemen and women.

“It is the combination of the Mossad, the IDF, and our entire security system. We are depriving them of that weapon as well, not absolutely, but to a very impressive extent,” he boasted.

“As someone who approves countless operations of yours, I want to tell you that I am proud of you and believe in you and [to tell you] how proud the people of Israel are of you,” he concluded. “The Mossad is fantastic and you are fantastic.”

Many shipments of advanced missiles are said to have been bombed by Israel on the way from Iran to Lebanon, mostly through Syria.

During his September speech at the UN, Netanyahu revealed the existence of what he said were three sites in Beirut that were being used by the Iran-backed terror group to hide underground precision missile production facilities.


In this April 1996 file photo, two Hezbollah fighters stand near Katyusha rockets in the southern village of Ein Qana, Lebanon (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari, file)

The Israeli military on Thursday said it had located a second Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnel in the western Galilee, after uncovering an underground passage two days earlier in the eastern part of the region.

The tunnel originated in the Lebanese village of Ramyeh underneath a number of homes and crossed into Israeli territory near the village of Zarit, according to the Israel Defense Forces.


Israeli soldiers show UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col a Hezbollah tunnel that penetrated Israeli territory from southern Lebanon on December 6, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The first tunnel was discovered south of the Israeli village of Metulla in the northern tip of the Galilee panhandle.

A senior Israeli official on Thursday said the tunnels discovered inside Israel were large enough to be used by “entire battalions” to enter Israeli territory in order to “carry out killing sprees and kidnappings and to capture Israeli towns and villages.”

Netanyahu elaborated, in a briefing to foreign envoys at the northern border: “If you look at the Hamas tunnels, they’re very narrow, basically for one person. The Hezbollah tunnels are broad. They enable several people to come at one and also to put motorcycles, I’m pretty sure tractors and so on.

This, Netanyahu said, was “in order to bring in many forces, simultaneously, which means several battalions into our territory, with the purpose of cutting off communities here, towns, kibbutzim, and then going into a campaign of murder and kidnapping, which could happen simultaneously.”


IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, center, visits soldiers searching for Hezbollah attack tunnels on Israeli-Lebanese border on December 4, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The number of tunnels the IDF believes the Lebanese terror group has dug into Israel, as well as other information connected to the army’s tunnel-busting operation, cannot be published by order of the military censor.

Earlier on Thursday, a senior Israeli official threatened that the IDF may be forced to extend its current tunnel-busting operation across the border and into Lebanese territory.

“It is possible that we will be required to act inside Lebanon,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Operation Northern Shield was launched earlier this week due to the fear that the details of the operation would be leaked and revealed to Hezbollah, the senior official said.

“If Hezbollah knew that we knew [about the existence of the tunnels] then this would accelerate their kidnapping efforts, and we did not want to get to a situation where the kidnappers infiltrate into Israel and abduct a soldier or a civilian, and no one would know anything about it,” the senior official said.

The decision to embark on the operation was made on November 7, and was one of the reasons the cabinet decided not to launch a major military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, the official added. “There were other reasons, too, but that was one of them,” he said.

IDF Uncovers 4th Hezbollah Tunnel Under Israel-‎Lebanon Border

By: Lilach Shoval, Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff – israelhayom.com

IDF says it has lined the tunnel with explosives • Tunnel, in an undisclosed location, exposed as part of Operation Northern Shield, launched Dec. 4 • Israel urges international community to impose sanctions on Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy, over the tunnels.


An IDF bulldozer digs near the Israel-Lebanon border |
 Photo: Reuters

A fourth Hezbollah terror tunnel breaching Israeli ‎territory from Lebanon has been exposed, the IDF said Sunday.‎

The tunnel was discovered as part of Operation ‎Northern Shield, launched by the IDF on Dec. 4 to ‎expose and neutralize Hezbollah tunnels ‎snaking across the border into Israel under the security fence.

“Imagine terrorists digging an attack tunnel like ‎‎this toward your home, hacking away, inch by inch, ‎‎underground, in order to kill you and your family. ‎‎Israelis don’t need to imagine. It’s our job to ‎‎protect them,” the IDF posted on its English-language ‎Twitter page.‎

The IDF did not disclose the tunnel’s location, ‎saying only that it has lined it with explosives.

The IDF said any Lebanese soldiers or ‎Hezbollah operatives approaching the tunnel on the ‎Lebanese side of the border would do so at their own peril. ‎

Israel has called on the international community to ‎impose new sanctions on Hezbollah, Iran’s regional ‎proxy, in the wake of the tunnels’ discovery.‎

The IDF said Operation Northern Shield would continue until all Hezbollah tunnels ‎‎are exposed and neutralized. ‎

The Shiite terrorist group has yet to issue any ‎‎‎comment on the operation, but Lebanese President ‎‎Michel Aoun said that as long as the Israeli ‎‎operation does not infringe on his country’s ‎‎sovereignty, it is unlikely to threaten the calm on ‎the border. ‎

‎”We take this issue – the presence of tunnels at the ‎border – seriously and Israel informed us ‎via the ‎United States that its intentions are not aggressive,” said Aoun, a Hezbollah ally. He added that Israel has pledged to “continue to work” on ‎its ‎‎territory.

Australia Recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

By: Henry Benjamin – Jewish Telegraphic Agency; jta.org


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces that his government will recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital during a speech at the Sydney Institute on Dec. 15, 2018. (Mick Tsikas-Pool/Getty Images)

SYDNEY (JTA) — Australia said it recognizes West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is now starting a search for a suitable site for a trade office within the city.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the government’s decision while speaking at the Sydney Institute current affairs forum on Saturday.

“We look forward to moving our Embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after the final status determination,” he said.

He reiterated Australia’s support for a two-state solution and added that the Australian government also recognizes “the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem.”

In the same announcement, Morrison said he plans to open a Trade and Defense office in West Jerusalem. Australia-Israel trade is over $1.3 billion a year.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry offered a lukewarm response to the announcement, focusing on the trade office and calling it “a step in the right direction.” Israel views the entire city of Jerusalem — both the Western section, which is predominantly Jewish, and the Eastern section, which is predominantly Arab — as its capital.

Saeb Erekat, a top advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, called the announcement irresponsible and noted in a statement that “all of Jerusalem remains a final status issue for negotiations.”

Meanwwhile, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on the Australian government “to correct its position and recognize the State of Palestine and its capital as East Jerusalem without delay. Thus, we will consider its position balanced.”

Under Morrison’s leadership, Australia last month opposed six resolutions that attacked Israel in the United Nations General Assembly.

Australia’s opposition leader Bill Shorten accused Morrison of putting his political interest ahead of the national interest. The opposition has charged that Morrison took up the issue of Jerusalem in order to pick up a seat in a parliamentary by-election in Sydney’s Wentworth region, home to a large proportion of the city’s 60,000 Jews, in order to shore up his razor-thin majority.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry in a statement praised the announcement as “a simple acknowledgement of a reality that has existed since 1950.”

Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount: Third World War or Civil Rights Movement?

By: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz; breakingisraelnews.com


Religious Jews on the Temple Mount. (Courtesy)

conference on Wednesday brought together religious Jews and Christians to discuss a topic that had never before been addressed in a multi-faith forum: the past and the future of the Temple Mount as it related to their respective religions.

As participants entered the conference, they were greeted by the sight of a 20-foot model of the Second Temple and much of the discussion focused on the subject of the Third Temple. Though the conference was a religious forum, avoiding politics, the political implications of any discussion about the future of the Temple Mount, a location frequently described in mainstream media as a “flashpoint,” bears dire political consequences.

Doron Keidar, one of the conference organizers and founder of Cry for Zion, an NGO advocating for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, was aware that he would likely be accused of incitement when he set out. This point was driven home during the press conference when Keidar was confronted by reporters who asked him several times if speaking about a Third Temple implied an agenda to destroy the Muslim sites on the Temple Mount.

Keidar rejected that claim, telling reporters that Cry for Zion’s main goal was to bring Jewish sovereignty to the Temple Mount.

“Our main goal is not to build the Temple and we are not a Temple organization,” he said. “We are advocating for Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount, petitioning the government to express stewardship of the site.”

This raised concerns among journalists who asked if sovereignty meant oppressing the Muslims or restricting them religiously.

“Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount would benefit everyone,” Keidar replied. “At the Western Wall, there is total freedom of worship for all religions. Muslims are free to pray at the Kotel (Western Wall) as are Christians. Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount would bring equality of religion to the site.”

Keidar pointed out that the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel ensured freedom of religion for all faiths at the holy sites.

“Freedom of worship is also established in international law as described by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” Keidar said. “The right for all faiths to pray on the Temple Mount was upheld by the Israeli Magistrate’s court. Right now there is illegal discrimination taking place where only Muslims can pray.”

John Enarson, the organization’s Christian Relations and Creative Director, echoed this assertion.

“Allowing the Jewish flag on the Temple Mount would guarantee that this freedom of religion will exist, just as it does at every other holy site that is under Israeli sovereignty,” Enarson said. “Many Christians believe that there will be a Third Temple but that is not relevant to what our organization or this conference do. We want equality of religion on the Temple Mount, plain and simple. How the Third Temple comes about and what form it takes is in God’s hand.”

“I would prefer that the Muslims would welcome other religions and encourage this, but in any case, it should not be tolerated by the international community or by the Israeli government,’ Enarson declared.

Keidar compared their initiative to the civil rights movement in America, petitioning for equality for blacks.

“Christians can’t take their Bibles with them or pray or wear crosses on the Temple Mount,” Keidar pointed out. “Anywhere else in the world, that would be religious oppression and not tolerated.”

“We are trying to educate the Christian world about the Jewish perspective on their holiest site,” Enarson said. “There has been a lot of mistrust between the Jews and the Christians. This will increase peace, not lead to war.”

The main focus of the conference was on theories that the Jewish Temples stood in an area identified as the City of David.

“There is a mistaken belief that this would enable a peaceable solution in which the Jews could build a Temple in another location, a small distance from the Temple Mount,” Keidar said. Keidar, who works in security in the Old City, rejected that perception. “That area, referred to in the Bible as Shiloah, is known as Silwan. It is a hotbed of hatred and some of the most hotly contested territory in Jerusalem.”

USAID To Fire 50% of Employees, Shutter Operations in Judea/Samaria by 2019

By: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz; breakingisraelnews.com


U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Headquarters in Washington, DC. (Credit: Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock.com)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced this week that they will be firing half of their employees in Judea and Samaria in the near future and plan to shut down operations entirely in early 2019.

USAID is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance. USAID is one of the largest official aid agencies in the world, operating in more than 100 countries, and accounts for more than half of all U.S. foreign assistance. USAID has been operating in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza since 1994, investing approximately $5.5 billion in infrastructure, medical services, and education.

The decision to end funding came from the State Department which directed USAID last week to present a list of 60 percent of its employees that can be fired immediately.  USAID was also directed to shut down its operations in 2019. USAID was slated to have invested $250 million in helping the Palestinians over the next year. $35 million of that would have gone to the Palestinian Authority security services.

This is the final stage of a series of cutbacks in U.S aid benefiting the Palestinians since President Trump took office. In January, Trump announced that the US would withhold $65 million in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In July and August, President Trump ordered a $200 million in cuts to Palestinian aid initiatives while ending the U.S. contribution to UNRWA entirely. In September, the U.S. government removed $10 million in funding for USAID programs promoting coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. The cutback was in response to the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to engage the Trump Administration to initiate direct negotiations with the Israeli government.

USAID officials told Haaretz news that the cutbacks are meant to put pressure on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to renew talks with the and Israel ahead of the peace plan the U.S. government is expected to present soon.

This is consistent with what President Trump has said. In a dialogue with Jewish leaders in September, President Trump said, “I stopped massive amounts of money that we were paying to the Palestinians and the Palestinian leaders. We were – the United States was paying them tremendous amounts of money,” he said. “And I’d say, you’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying.”

Israeli NGO Sends Aid to California in Wake of Unprecedented Wildfires

IsraAID’s emergency response team provides help building resilience and recovery in communities hard hit by the deadly blazes.

By: Nicky Blackburn; israel21c.org


Smoke billows from the Woolsey fire in California. Photo by Shutterstock

Israeli NGO, IsraAID, is sending an emergency response team to California to help communities affected by the unprecedented fires that have killed 80 and destroyed over 13,000 homes and buildings. More than 1,300 people are still listed as missing.

The two blazes broke out 10 days ago in both north and south California and quickly spiraled out of control. The Camp Fire wildfire, which wiped out the town of Paradise in Butte county (population 27,000), is already the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history, torching an area the size of Chicago.

The Woolsey fire has burned over 98,362 acres in southern California near the border of Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

After a request from local communities, IsraAID is to conduct a needs assessment of the population in affected areas, promote community resilience and recovery, and distribute relief items to families currently staying in temporary accommodation after losing their homes in the fires.


An IsraAID worker helps sort donations in California, in the wake of the deadly fires. Photo courtesy of IsraAID

Yotam Polizer, the co-CEO of IsraAID, told ISRAEL21c that a team of four Israelis have already flown out to California, and plan to set up operations in Chico, where many evacuees are now living in tent cities, shelters and even sleeping in their cars.

“We’ve seen a lot of disaster zones over the years, but this is a whole different level of devastation. Everything has been burned to the ground, and there are so many people still missing,” said Polizer, who has just returned from California.

“The search and rescue teams aren’t looking for survivors, they are looking for remains. From a psychological perspective it’s on a whole different scale.

“When we talk to local people we see they are getting support, but there’s very little psycho-social support there. That’s where we are planning to focus our efforts.”

IsraAID’s team will include Israeli and US-based mental health specialists, who will work with partner organizations on-the-ground to support affected communities as they recover and promote community resilience.

“We were devastated by the tragedy of these fires in California,” said Polizer. “It’s a place very close to our hearts. We have an office there, lots of staff members and volunteers. A lot of local people asked that we come and help. We are planning to be there to support the people as long as we are needed.”

This is not the first time that IsraAID has sent aid in the wake of deadly fires in California. In October last year, a team of seven aid workers – including Polizer – helped out in evacuation centers in Napa Valley, after a series of wildfires swept the state killing 44, causing $14.5 billion in damages, and forcing 90,000 people to evacuate.

The Israeli team were stationed in Santa Rosa, California, and helped coordinate and provide relief supplies and stress management to the affected community.

Even today, IsraAID continues to work with the community there to help them build resilience.


Helping out at an evacuation center in Santa Rosa, California in 2017. Photo courtesy of IsraAID

IsraAID has extensive experience responding to disasters in the US and all over the world. This year alone, the organization provided aid to victims in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael, North Carolina, after Hurricane Florence, to the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Kenya, and to Guatemala after the volcano.

Haley promotes UN resolution against Hamas

By: Itamar Eichner & Reuters; ynetnews.com

After the US opposed the annual draft resolution at the UN calling on Israel to rescind its authority in the Golan Heights, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is expected to submit a draft resolution at the General Assembly, harshly condemning the terror organization.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is expected to submit a draft resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, harshly condemning the Hamas terror organization.

Haley, who will be leaving her position by the end of the year, is promoting a resolution condemning Hamas’s rocket fire at Israel and incitement against it, as well as demanding to halt any violent activity, including the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (L), and Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (L), and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon

An additional provision in the draft obtained by Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth, focuses on Hamas terror tunnels and calls on the UN to condemn the terror organization’s use of civilian resources for military purposes.

Haley is cooperating with Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, and has met over the past two days with world envoys in order to raise support for the American draft.

Danon thanked Haley for her support of the Jewish State. “The efforts and diplomatic activity to promote the draft resolution condemning Hamas stresses Haley’s steadfast support of Israel.

“Through joint efforts we have managed to change the hostile approach against Israel at the UN. Now the time has come to recruit the world to join us in our fight against terror,” the Israeli envoy to the UN added.

“Hamas is a deadly terror organization, which must be dealt with on all fronts, and especially in the diplomatic arena,” he concluded.

On Friday, the US opposed for the first time an annual draft resolution at the UN calling on Israel to rescind its authority in the Golan Heights, drawing praise from Israeli officials.

The US has abstained in previous years on “Occupied Syrian Golan” resolution, which declares Israel’s jurisdiction in the area “null and void”, but Haley said on Thursday that Washington would vote against the resolution.

“The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights,” she said in a statement.

“The resolution is plainly biased against Israel. Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone,” she added.

Despite the US opposition, a UN General Assembly committee approved the draft resolution with 151 votes in favor and 14 abstentions. Only Israel joined the United States in voting no. The General Assembly is due to formally adopt the resolution next month.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigns over opposition to Gaza ceasefire

His move to pull his six-member Yisrael Beytenu Party out of the government leaves Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the slimmest of ruling majorities, with a coalition of only 61 members out of 120.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman abruptly resigned his post and removed his Yisrael Beytenu Party from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition less than a day after Israel reportedly agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas.

During the announcement at a meeting of the Yisrael Beytenu Knesset faction on Wednesday, Lieberman also called on Netanyahu to call early elections and not to “paralyze the country in the long term.”

“I have tried to remain a faithful member of the Cabinet and to make heard another view, even at a great electoral and political price,” Lieberman stated, adding that the ceasefire announcement “cannot be interpreted in any way other than a surrender to terror.”

“This will severely harm our security in the long term,” he said. “The response that we gave to the 500 rockets shot from Gaza was not enough, to say the least. The south should come first. Our weakness is being broadcast to other fronts.”

Speaking of Hamas’s intentions during the flare-up, Lieberman said: “Hamas isn’t talking about coexistence and recognition of Israel. They don’t want to reduce unemployment in Gaza.”

According to Israel’s Channel 10 news, at least four senior ministers opposed the ceasefire during a seven-hour cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Lieberman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi-Jewish Home), Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi-Jewish Home) and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) disagreed with the prime minister’s decision to de-escalate the conflict following a severe, 25-hour pounding of Israel’s south by Hamas with more than 450 rockets and mortar shells.

Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) said the security cabinet ultimately accepted Netanyahu’s decision, though Netanyahu reportedly did not put the decision to a vote.

Initial reports following the ceasefire announcement claimed Lieberman, Bennett, Shaked and Elkin had voted in favor of the initiative, but Lieberman and Bennett’s offices both issued statements vehemently denying any support for the ceasefire.

Lieberman’s move to pull his six-member Yisrael Beytenu Party out of the government leaves Netanyahu with the slimmest of ruling majorities, with a coalition of only 61 members out of 120. A ruling majority is not mandatory to maintain power, though any “no confidence” motion can collapse a government in Israel’s parliamentary system.

At a memorial event for Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and his wife, Paula, Netanyahu defended the ceasefire announcement, claiming that Hamas “begged” Israel for the ceasefire.

“In times of trial, Ben-Gurion made fateful decisions,” said Netanyahu. “Sometimes, he did so contrary to popular opinion, but over time, these decisions turned out to be correct.”

“In routine times, a leader has to be attentive to the feelings of the people, and we are a wise nation. But in times of crisis, at a time of fateful decisions regarding security, the public at times cannot be a partner to decisive considerations that must be hidden from the enemy,” he added.

“At these times, leadership is not doing the easy thing, but the right thing, even if it is hard,” he said. “Leadership is standing up to criticism when you know things that are secret and sensitive, and which you cannot share with the citizens of Israel and in this case the residents of the south, whom I love and greatly appreciate.”

It remains unclear whether Netanyahu will send the country into early elections, or who will receive the post of defense minister.

In Europe, synagogues are protected like fortresses. It took decades to get there.

By: Cnaan Liphshiz; Jewish Telegraphic Agency-jta.org


French soldiers patrol in front of a synagogue outside Paris as part of France’s national security alert system, Jan. 21, 2015. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

BRUSSELS (JTA) — Will security at American Jewish institutions now mirror that of Europe, with its police protection, armed guards, panic rooms and sterile zones at synagogues?

It’s a possibility that is being debated more seriously than ever before following the Tree of Life Congregation shooting Saturday in Pittsburgh in which a gunman killed 11 people.

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, told The Washington Post that posting armed guards outside synagogues in some places would be “prohibitive” to Jewish communal life itself.

But Gary Sikorski, director of security for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, told the Detroit Jewish News that the idea, suggested by President Donald Trump after the attack, is “not a bad one.”

European security professionals say that even if Sikorski’s approach prevails, it will take at least a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars before U.S. Jewry’s security infrastructure matches the European counterpart.

“The security doctrine you see in Europe is the result of decades of evolution,” said Ophir Revach, director of the European Jewish Congress’ Security and Crisis Center. “It was built on lessons from terrorist attacks in the 1960s and adjusted constantly. It’s pretty comprehensive.”

Even if a critical mass of U.S. Jewish communities decide tomorrow that they want to replicate the European model, Revach said, “Optimistically speaking, it will take at least a decade to achieve.” When it comes to security, he said, “American Jewry is at the beginning of a long journey.”

In several European countries, synagogues are under constant protection of police or army troops. Most of them have volunteer guards, including armed ones. Many also have a security command room, where trained professionals or volunteers use elaborate video surveillance systems to monitor their premises, often while exchanging information with other Jewish institutions in real time.

These arrangements regularly prevent violence against congregants.

In 2015, a volunteer guard outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue was shot deadafter engaging an armed Islamist who had intended to carry out a shooting attack inside the building, where dozens of people were celebrating a bat mitzvah. Dan Uzan’s intervention allowed police to shoot the assailant, who never made it inside the shul.

A year earlier, a dozen or so volunteer guards staved off dozens of rioters who had intended to storm the Synagogue de la Roquette in Paris as payback for Israel’s actions in Gaza. As 200 worshippers waited inside, the defenders held their ground for 20 minutes amid a vicious street brawl with the attackers until police finally arrived at the scene.

“Dan Uzan’s death was tragic, but from a security point of view it was a system that did what it needed to do,” Revach said.

Had the Tree of Life synagogue been guarded, “this attack may have been prevented,” he said. “Even armed perpetrators are deterred in a major way by guards.”

Some American synagogues, like Har Shalom, the largest Conservative synagogue in Potomac, Maryland, have an armed police presence during services and other events, The Washington Post reported. Community Security Service, a nonprofit, has trained volunteers at dozens of synagogues, mostly in the New York area. In Teaneck, New Jersey, a suburb with dozens of synagogues, many have a police presence out front and CSS-trained congregants on patrol.

Others have a closed-doors policy in which visitors must request entry through an intercom system.


The Great Synagogue of Copenhagen was the site of a deadly attack in 2015. (Wikimedia Commons)

In recent years, more and more Jewish federations, the communitywide fundraising groups, have hired full-time security directors for their facilities and to advise their donor agencies. The Secure Community Network, the security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was formed in 2004. Since then, the number of federations with full-time security directors grew from two to 30, according to the Post.

Federal money is available for beefing up security at Jewish institutions. In fiscal year 2018, Congress appropriated $50 million for nonprofit security through something called the Urban Area Security Initiative; much of the money goes to Jewish institutions.

But many American synagogues, including Tree of Life, had been leaving their doors open on Shabbat — a scenario that became unthinkable years ago in Western Europe, where jihadists have carried out several deadly attacks in recent years on Jewish targets.

Joel Rubinfeld, the president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, remembered feeling “simultaneously envious and worried” when he was greeted recently to a major New York synagogue by a concierge in his 70s — and no one else.

Before 2015, even at-risk synagogues like the Grand Synagogue of Marseille, France, had lax security and at times open doors. But the attacks in Paris that year prompted all but the most distant synagogues of Western Europe to abandon the open-door policy they used to have.

European synagogues by and large now employ a multilayered defensive doctrine of several threat circles in cooperation with law enforcement.

“It accounts for all kinds of scenarios, not just a shooting but also a car bomb, firebombs and snipers,” Revach said.

Each scenario requires building adjustments, sometimes just adding a security barrier and at other times replacing windows with bulletproof glass. Then there’s the need to set up international, national and regional situation rooms to help communities coordinate their activities.

“Just setting up the physical elements … takes years,” Revach said.

If American Jewry quickly ups the security arrangements around its institutions, “there’s still the issue of awareness,” said Sammy Ghozlan, a retired police commissioner and the president of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism in France.

“It’s not enough to build a security,” he said. “You need a community that’s drilled at maintaining it even when nothing happens year after year, so that when the threat does appear, it is met. It needs to be hardwired into you.”

American Jewry is facing a “monumental challenge” if it seeks to adopt the European security model, Ghozlan said.

“It will take them at least 15 years,” he said, noting that American Jewry is “far larger and more far-flung” than its European counterpart, making the task more complicated than in France.

Ghozlan nonetheless believes that American Jews will rise to the challenge.

“We are witnessing a Europeanization of the situation in the United States for Jews,” he said. “It takes time for a worldview to change, but I believe American Jews have the resources and resourcefulness to fix the security problems exposed in Pittsburgh.”

The Pittsburgh Synagogue, Anti-Semitism and Trump

By: Dennis Prager – townhall.com

The Pittsburgh Synagogue, Anti-Semitism and Trump

All my life I have reminded fellow Jews in America that we are the luckiest Jews to have ever lived in a non-Jewish country. I know what I’m talking about. I wrote a book on anti-Semitism, taught Jewish history at Brooklyn College and fought anti-Semitism since I was 21, when Israel sent me into the Soviet Union to smuggle in Jewish religious items and smuggle out Jewish names.

Even after the massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, this assessment remains true.

But the greatest massacre of Jews in American history is a unique American tragedy.

It is a tragedy in part because America has finally made the list of countries in which Jews were murdered for being Jews. While this was probably inevitable, given that 330 million people live in America, it is painful — equally for me as an American and as a Jew.

And second, while there is no difference between the murder of Christians at a church and the murder of Jews in a synagogue with regard to the loss of life and the suffering of loved ones, there is something unique about the murder of Jews for being Jews: Anti-Semitism is exterminationist. Anti-semites don’t just want to persecute, enslave or expel Jews; they want to kill them all.

On Passover, Jews read the Haggadah, the ancient Jewish prayer book of the Passover Seder. In it are contained these words: “In every generation, they arise to annihilate us” — not “persecute” us; not “enslave” us; annihilate us.

So, when the murderer yelled, “All Jews must die,” he encapsulated the uniqueness of anti-Semitism.

There is another unique aspect to anti-Semitism: It destroys every society in which it grows. The animating force within Adolf Hitler was Jew-hatred. More than anything else — desire for German “Lebensraum,” hatred of Bolshevism, a view of Slavs as subhuman — it was anti-Semitism that invigorated him. Anti-Semitism was not a Nazi scapegoat; it was the Nazis’ raison d’etre.

The results of German anti-Semitism for Germans alone: more than 5 million dead, including half a million German civilians; 130,000 more civilians murdered by the Nazi regime; 12 million Germans expelled from East Europe, 2 million of whom died; innumerable rapes of German women; Germany divided in two for half a century — and the loss of a sense of self and reputation.

I have no idea if, outside the universities and the Israel-hating left, there has been an increase in anti-Semitism in America. I wish I could trust the Anti-Defamation League, other Jewish organizations and Jewish community newspapers. Sadly, only Jews on the left do, because most of these organizations have a left-wing, anti-Trump agenda.

Here’s a perfect example:

The mainstream left-wing media, along with left-wing Jewish organizations and media, told us every day for months after Trump’s election that anti-Semitism had greatly increased. They cited the great number of Jewish Community Centers that received bomb threats. It turned out, however, that about 90 percent of those threats were called in by a mentally disturbed American Jewish teenager living in Israel, and the other 10 percent were made by a black radical seeking to frame his ex-girlfriend. So, the claim eventually vanished from the news — with not one Jewish or non-Jewish organization or media outlet apologizing for crying anti-Semitic “fire” in a crowded theater.

The dishonest now have the Pittsburgh massacre to blame on Trump. But that’s as big a falsehood as blaming Trump for the bomb threats. In reality, the Pittsburgh murderer criticized Trump for his close connections to Jews and Israel.

For Jews to blame the most pro-Israel president since Harry Truman — the only president with a Jewish child and Jewish grandchildren, moreover — for increasing anti-Semitism is another example of a truism this Jew has known all his life: Unlike Jewish liberals, who get most of their values from Judaism, Jewish leftists are ethnically Jewish but get their values from leftism.

The biggest increase in anti-Semitism in the last 10 or so years has come from the left. Just ask young Jews who wear yarmulkes or are vocally pro-Israel on most American college campuses. And this generation’s threat of Jewish annihilation comes from Israel’s Iranian and Arab enemies.

As a Jew who attends synagogue every Shabbat, and as an advocate for the carrying of concealed weapons, I fervently pray we will not need armed guards at American synagogues. America’s uniqueness has been exemplified by the fact that Jews do not need armed guards in their synagogues.

May it always be so.

Even if you don’t love Jews — if you only love America — you need to fight anti-Semites. As the Jews go, so goes the fate of the nation in which they live.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in April 2018, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Exodus. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.