Palestinian Stabs American-Israeli Man to Death in West Bank

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian assailant on Sunday fatally stabbed an Israeli settler outside a busy mall in the West Bank.

The victim was identified as Ari Fuld, a U.S.-born activist who was well-known in the local settler community and an outspoken Israel advocate on social media platforms.

The military said the attacker arrived at the mall near a major junction in the southern West Bank, close to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, and stabbed Fuld before fleeing.

Video footage showed Fuld giving chase and firing at his assailant before collapsing. Other civilians shot the attacker, whom Israeli media identified as a 17-year-old from a nearby Palestinian village. He was reportedly in moderate condition.

Fuld, a 45-year-old father of four who lived in the nearby settlement of Efrat, was evacuated to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Fuld was a well-known English-language internet commenter on current affairs and the weekly Torah lesson. He was known for his hard-line nationalist ideology and strong support for the Israeli military.

Settler spokesman Josh Hasten, who said he had known Fuld for about a decade, said his friend traveled widely to showcase “the beauty and reality of life” in the country.

He delivered care packages to Israeli soldiers and would go on solidarity trips to communities near the Gaza Strip during times of fighting with the Hamas militant group, Hasten said.

“When the rockets were falling, that’s when he would get in his car and go down to Sderot,” Hasten said.

Fuld also was known for an outspoken manner that included verbal clashes with Palestinians and critics of Israel that could land him in trouble. At times, his Facebook account was suspended.

“He did not hold back on his opinions,” Hasten said. “If that meant 30 days of Facebook jail, so be it.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Fuld on Facebook for fighting his attacker “heroically” and remembered him as “an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth.”

On Twitter, David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel and a strong supporter of the settlements, called him “a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot.”

Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. Israeli forces killed over 260 Palestinians in that period, of which Israel says most were attackers.

Trump Closing Palestinian Mission in Pro-Israel Move

AP News; townhall.com

Trump closing Palestinian mission in pro-Israel move

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington, the latest U.S. blow against the Palestinians and an international court during the stalled Mideast peace process.

Some things to know:

THE GIST

The administration’s move to close the PLO office in Washington is not directly connected to the Trump White House’s opposition to the International Criminal Court, although the administration is trying to link them.

But the Trump administration is trotting out discussions about the two on the same day — Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year — in a move certain to inflame the White House’s already bitter relations with Palestinians.

On the one hand, the State Department announced Monday that the administration is closing the PLO office in Washington because the Palestinians aren’t directly negotiating any peace agreement with Israel. A provision in a U.S. law says the PLO mission must close if the peace process does not go forward.

Meanwhile, National Security Adviser John Bolton discussed the U.S. refusal to recognize the ICC, which the Palestinians are trying to get to prosecute Israel for war crimes. He said the U.S. would retaliate if the ICC tries to prosecute any Americans over conduct in Afghanistan.

The administration is trying to draw a connection between the two and pressure Palestinians to talk directly with Israel. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the two developments “consistent.”

“This is yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people,” Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said.

WHAT IT MEANS

It’s another strike at a half-century of U.S. policy toward the region. For decades, even amid close U.S.-Israeli ties, Washington had tried to position itself as a neutral party in the vexing Mideast conflict, willing to call out both sides when they take steps seen as contrary to the pursuit of peace.

Several U.S. presidents in both parties have tried to broker a peace accord without success. The two-state solution envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, with the boundaries negotiated in talks between the parties.

The U.S. does not currently recognize the Palestinian territories as an independent state, though the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in 2012 to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state.”

Closing the PLO mission in Washington almost certainly will stiffen the Palestinians’ opposition to any Trump peace plan now being worked on by Trump’s Middle East point men, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.

The Palestinian leadership has been openly hostile to any proposal from the administration, citing what it says is a pro-Israel bias.

YANKING AID

The State Department announced this month that the United States is ending its decades of funding for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees. A week earlier, the administration slashed bilateral U.S. aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

The U.S. supplies nearly 30 percent of the total budget of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, and had been demanding reforms in the way it is run. The department said in a written statement the U.S. “will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation.” The decision cuts nearly $300 million of planned support.

Those cuts came after the Trump administration announced it was cutting more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians and spend the money for “high priority projects elsewhere.”

UNRWA was founded after the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation to serve some 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were uprooted from their homes. Today, it provides education and social services to over 5 million people across the region.

Hamas militants control Gaza, and the U.S. said the militants were endangering “lives of Gaza’s citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation.”

One issue the U.S. has had with support for the Palestinian Authority had been its stipends paid to the families of Palestinians killed, injured or jailed for attacks on Israel. Israel and the Trump administration, have repeatedly demanded that those payments from a so-called “martyrs’ fund” be halted because they encourage terrorism. PLO President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to do so.

The Palestine Liberation Organization quickly denounced the decision, calling it “the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool.”

US EMBASSY

Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. The consulate opened in May with a star-studded reception that included the president’s daughter, Ivanka and Kushner, as well as Israel’s top leaders.

Israel killed more than 60 Palestinians, including a 14-year-old girl, during protests that followed. It was the bloodiest day since a war between Hamas and Israel ended in 2014.

Israel said it is defending its border and accuses Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of the protests.

WHAT THE PLO HAS SAID

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi called the U.S. policy “blackmail” that “once again seeks to punish the Palestinian people as a whole who are already victims of the ruthless Israeli military occupation.”

___

Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

Israel Takes Part in International Court Debate for First Time in Decades

By: Raphael Ahren; The Times of Israel – timesofisrael.com

At ICJ in The Hague, Israeli delegation weighs in on territorial dispute it has nothing to do with, in apparent effort to avoid being typecast as a one-issue country

The Israeli delegation at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, September 5, 2018 (UN Photo/Wendy van Bree. Courtesy ICJ)

Israel this week participated in a debate at the International Court of Justice in The Hague for the first time in more than half a century, in what Israeli officials described as an effort to get the Jewish state more involved in matters of international law that have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Officials from the foreign and justice ministries took part in oral proceedings regarding an ongoing territorial dispute over an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

Led by the Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser, Tal Becker, the delegation issued two statements in a public hearing on the question of whether the court should issue an advisory opinion on Britain’s contentious separation of the Chagos archipelago from Mauritius in 1965.

Israel took the UK’s side in arguing that the court did not have the jurisdiction to make pronouncements in the case.

Israel was one of 22 states that participated in this week’s oral proceedings. In February, it had provided a written statement on the matter.

“If I am not mistaken, the last time the State of Israel took part in oral proceedings for this court was almost six decades ago,” Becker told the court in The Hague’s Peace Palace Wednesday.

Becker said Israel respects both Great Britain and Mauritius but argued that their dispute is a bilateral matter that should not be discussed in The Hague. He also said Jerusalem saw the case as having wider implications beyond who controls the tropical cays.

“Israel attaches importance to the present advisory proceedings, as they touch upon matters that transcend the particular circumstances of this case and bear upon the specific settlement of international disputes, in more general terms,” he said. “My presence today here is also testimony to the importance that Israel attaches to international law more broadly.”

Israel Foreign Ministry legal advisor Tal Becker at the ICJ in The Hague, September 5, 2018 (UN Photo/Wendy van Bree. Courtesy ICJ)

In June 2017, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of asking the court to provide an advisory opinion on the decades-old dispute between the UK and Mauritius over who has sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, a group of seven atolls in the Indian Ocean.

The International Court of Justice is the UN’s principal judicial organ.

Israeli officials declined to discuss the delegation’s participation on the record. But according to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Israel’s argument can be seen as an effort to get the Jewish state involved in international matters, and showcasing its legalists’ skills in international law on subjects that have nothing to do with the various conflicts in the Middle East.

More than before, some officials in the foreign and justice ministries have been pushing for Israel to become more engaged in matters of international law, lest it be typecast as a one-issue country, the sources said.

They also noted that Israel volunteered to offer its views on the Chagos case to support the UK’s embattled position.

In 1965 — three years before Mauritius gained independence from Great Britain — London split the Chagos Archipelago away from Mauritius, forcibly expelled some 2,000 Chagossians, and formally added the contested atolls to its British Indian Ocean Territory.

Mauritius argues that the Chagos archipelago was part of its territory since at least the 18th century and was taken unlawfully by the UK. Britain insists it has sovereignty over the archipelago.

The UK has vowed to return the archipelago as soon as it is no longer needed for “defense purposes.” It is currently leasing its largest island, Diego Garcia, to the US, which has built a large military base there.

In recent years, Mauritius has tried to internationalize the dispute, getting much of the international community’s support. Last year, the UN urged the court to give an advisory opinion on the dispute.

While most of the 22 countries sided with Mauritius in oral arguments, Israel joined the UK and US in positing that the court had no standing to rule on a bilateral territorial dispute.

Becker, the head of the Israeli delegation, delivered a nearly half-hour-long presentation Wednesday encouraging the two parties to resolve the issue between themselves rather than involve the court.

Israel’s deputy attorney general for international law, Roy Schöndorf, also addressed the court on the matter.

The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, seat of the International Court of Justice (Public Domain/Wikipedia)

Israel’s position on the Chagos case does not only back the UK, but is also in line with Jerusalem’s steadfast views that bilateral conflicts need to be solved through bilateral negotiations as opposed to legal or diplomatic proceedings in international forums.

Israel has a complicated relationship with the court, especially following an advisory opinion it issued in 2004 that declared Israel’s West Bank security barrier to be illegal.

Advisory opinions are not binding, but “carry great legal weight and moral authority,” according to the court’s website.

A decision by the judges is not expected for several months.

 

Why U.S. Plans to Slash Aid to Palestinians Make Israel Uneasy

By Rick Gladstone, New York Times; wral.com

The United Nations agency that assists Palestinians who are classified as refugees has received more than $6 billion in American funding since its creation nearly seven decades ago, making the United States the agency’s single most important donor.

But over the past year, the Trump administration has made it increasingly clear that it regards the agency as part of the problem in resolving the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Beginning in January, the administration reduced funding for the agency, which in some ways functions as a quasi government. The cuts threw the agency into its worst financial crisis.

On Friday, the administration said it would stop all funding for the agency, calling it an “irredeemably flawed operation.” The disruption could further upend the lives of roughly 5.4 million Palestinians who rely on the agency’s services in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Here are questions and answers about the agency, officially known as the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA for short:

Q: What does UNRWA do?

A: Originally intended as a temporary relief provider, UNRWA was established in 1949 to assist more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Its operations are almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions from U.N. member states.

UNRWA has greatly expanded over the years and now runs schools for more than a half-million children. It also provides health care, food, jobs, emergency loans, housing assistance and other services to Palestinian refugees.

Q:What are the risks if UNRWA can no longer operate?

A: Many diplomats and political experts say the funding disruption to UNRWA is dangerous, injecting new instability into the Middle East at a time when tensions are already rising between Israel and its neighbors, particularly in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave of 2 million, where UNRWA is an important lifeline for roughly half the population. Even Israeli officials, who have long held a mixed view of UNRWA, are nervous because Israel’s defense establishment has long warned that sudden cuts to UNRWA funding could be destabilizing.

Q: Why has the Palestinian refugee population multiplied?

A: This question is a source of long-standing dispute. The descendants of the original refugees are also regarded as refugees under UNRWA’s mandate, which obliges the agency to provide services “until there is a just and lasting solution to the political situation,” said Peter Mulrean, director of UNRWA’s New York office. This means UNRWA has now served four generations of Palestinians.

The agency also does not necessarily remove Palestinians who have acquired citizenship in a new country from the list of registered refugees, further swelling the population.

Q: Why is this regarded as such a problem?

A: The passing of refugee status from parents to children is seen by Israel as one reason resolving the Palestinian conflict is so difficult. Refugees have the right of return to their homeland, which in this case includes areas that are now part of Israel. The prospect that millions of Palestinians could someday resettle in Israel is seen by many Israelis and their supporters as impossible.

Critics of UNRWA also contend that it has evolved into a sprawling welfare bureaucracy that perpetuates a culture of dependency among the Palestinian population, making the refugee problem even more insurmountable. UNRWA officials respond that they are adhering to the agency’s mandate of helping refugees until a permanent solution is reached.

Q: These are not new issues. What changed when President Donald Trump took office?

A: The Trump administration indicated early that it would be far more sympathetic to Israel’s side of the conflict than the administration of President Barack Obama. Within his first year in office, Trump announced that he was moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the contested holy city that the Palestinians also want for their capital in a future independent state. The action infuriated Palestinian leaders, who said the United States had forfeited its role in helping to negotiate any peace agreement.

Trump and his aides, angered by the Palestinian response and by what they viewed as ingratitude for American largess, began signaling that they would reduce financial assistance. Administration officials, led by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, complained that other countries should contribute more to UNRWA. In January, the administration withheld more than half of a scheduled $120 million payment and left future payments for fiscal 2018 in doubt.

UNRWA officials, caught by surprise, said they had been led to believe that the United States would provide the same funding as the roughly $360 million provided in fiscal 2017. Suddenly they faced an enormous deficit in UNRWA’s $1.25 billion budget.

Q: How did UNRWA respond?

A: Pierre Krähenbühl, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, warned that without emergency infusions from other countries or an easing of the U.S. position, the agency would be forced to drastically cut services, including schooling. He began an urgent fundraising campaign.

Donations from European and Arab nations helped raise $238 million. But last month UNRWA cut more than 260 jobs and reduced mental health services in an austerity move, and said that the school year might be delayed.

On Aug. 16, Krähenbühl announced that UNRWA schools would open on time, but he said the agency still faced a $217 million shortfall that could shut down schools and other services before the end of the year.

Q: What will happen if the United States does not restore UNRWA funding?

A: On Friday, the Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said his country would host a fundraising event for UNRWA at the U.N. headquarters during the General Assembly session in September. At a meeting with Krähenbühl, Safadi said the event’s aim was to “close the gap and put in place a plan that will ensure UNRWA’s continued, ongoing funding for the coming years.”

The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said his government had pledged to significantly increase its future contributions, from roughly $94 million this year to an unspecified larger amount, Reuters reported Friday. It quoted him as saying that “the loss of this organization could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction.”

 

Persecution Escalating in China

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations; nrb.org

Religious discrimination is escalating dramatically in China. According to the Associated Press, President Xi Jinping “is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.”

The Chinese president is working to “Sinicize” religions in the nation to make them ultimately loyal to the Communist Party. Efforts aimed at Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists are intensifying, so much so that several nations, including the U.S., issued a special statement during the State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in July that called attention to allegations that Chinese officials “torture, physically abuse, arbitrarily arrest, detain, sentence to prison, or harass adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and peaceful practices.”

Recently, more than a hundred Christian pastors in China signed a declaration of their intent not to subject their allegiance to Christ to any human authority. They resolved:

[W]e believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church. We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any “ban” or “fine” imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and of our lives.

John Stonestreet, president of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, commented this week that Chinese government officials are “not content with mere obedience to the laws or the lack of any real challenge to the Communist Party’s authority. Their goal is to eliminate any distinction between the Party and society.”

 

Pew’s New Analysis: 42% of US Jews Reject their Religion

By: JNI Media; breakingisraelnews.com

“The benighted man thinks, “Hashem does not care.” Man’s wrongdoing is corrupt and loathsome; no one does good.” Psalms 53:2 (The Israel Bible™)

Survey (Image by Shutterstock)

The Pew Research Center on Wednesday published an analysis of beliefs and behaviors across denominations that identifies important traits that unite people of different religious affiliations—or divide people who share the same affiliation – producing a new and revealing classification of religion in America (The Religious Typology – A new way to categorize Americans by religion).

The survey divided the US population, represented by 4,699 respondents in late 2017, into seven groups: Sunday Stalwarts – the most religious; God-and-Country Believers – less active in church hold traditional religious beliefs and tilt right politically; Diversely Devout – believe in God “as described in the Bible” as well as in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy of physical things; Relaxed Religious – believe in the God of the Bible, and some of them pray daily, but few of them attend religious services; Spiritually Awake – many do not believe in the biblical God, hold some New Age beliefs such as some higher power, rarely attend religious services; Religion Resisters – believe in some higher power or spiritual force but not the God of the Bible, and consider themselves spiritual but not religious, with strongly negative views of organized religion, generally liberal and Democratic in their political views; Solidly Secular – the least religious of the seven groups, relatively affluent, highly educated, mostly white and male, reject all New Age beliefs as well as belief in the God of the Bible or any higher power at all.

We recommend you read the survey’s results, which represent a valid and as such an exciting effort to gauge the American religion using current analytical tools.

What emerges from the data, in the case of the Jews of America, is an exceptionally massive pull away from the “old-time religion” on the part of close to half of those who identify themselves as Jewish.

Close to 17% of the Jewish respondents identified themselves as Sunday Stalwarts (Shabbes stalwarts, obviously); about 8% each said they were God-and-Country Believers, Diversely Devout, Relaxed Religious, or Spiritually Awake; 17% said they are Religion Resisters, and a whopping 25% called themselves Solidly Secular.

No other religious group came even close in terms of the number of members born to the group who want to have nothing at all to do with its beliefs.

The report also clarifies something intriguing: “For the purposes of this analysis, Jews are defined as people who identify their religion as Judaism – what sociologists call “Jews by religion” – and not those who say they have no religion but identify as Jewish in other ways, such as culturally or ethnically.” Meaning, those Jewish respondents reject Judaism, God, ritual, prayer and religion, but still defined themselves as Jewish in terms of their religion.

Out of the 9 Christian groups altogether, only 3.5% said they were Religion Resisters; and 4% chose to define themselves as Solidly Secular.

Among the members of the Christian group with the least ability to retain its followers – the Catholic Church, about 7% identified themselves as Religion Resisters and another 7% as Solidly Secular.

Among Muslims, under 9% suggested they were Religion Resisters and the same percentage said they were Solidly Secular.

As we noted, not one of these groups comes even close to the percentage of Jews who have completely abandoned their tradition – a stunning 42%, or, were we to still accept the figure of 6 million American Jews as having anything to do with reality, then the past few decades have witnessed a mass migration of more than 2.5 million Jews away from their Judaism.

 

US Ends Funding of UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees

By: Susannah George; AP News – apnews.com (Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is ending its decades of funding for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees, the State Department announced Friday, a week after slashing bilateral U.S. aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

The U.S. supplies nearly 30 percent of the total budget of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, and had been demanding reforms in the way it is run. The department said in a written statement that the United States “will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation.” The decision cuts nearly $300 million of planned support.

UNRWA released a statement late Friday rejecting “in the strongest possible terms” the Trump administration’s criticism of the agency and expressing “deep regret and disappointment.”

The U.S. decision comes as President Donald Trump and his Middle East pointmen, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, prepare for the rollout of a much-vaunted but as yet unclear peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, and it could intensify Palestinian suspicions that Washington is using the humanitarian funding as leverage.

The Palestinian leadership has been openly hostile to any proposal from the administration, citing what it says is a pro-Israel bias, notably after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv in May. The Palestinian Authority broke off contact with the U.S. after the Jerusalem announcement.

In 2016, the U.S. donated $355 million to the UNRWA, which provides health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and it was set to make a similar contribution this year. In January the Trump administration released $60 million in funds but withheld a further $65 million it had been due to provide. The remaining amount — around $290 million — had yet to be allocated.

“When we made a U.S. contribution of $60 million in January, we made it clear that the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA’s costs that we had assumed for many years,” the statement said. “Several countries, including Jordan, Egypt, Sweden, Qatar, and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) have shown leadership in addressing this problem, but the overall international response has not been sufficient.”

The statement criticized the “fundamental business model and fiscal practices” of UNRWA, and what the department characterized as the “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries.”

UNRWA responded by stating that its “programs have a proven track record in creating one of the most successful human development processes … in the Middle East.” UNRWA added that it has been recognized by the World Bank “for running one of the most effective school systems in the region,” according to a statement released by the agency late Friday.

“This is a reflection of UNRWA’s steadfast commitment to preserving dignity and opportunities,” the statement added.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ office released a statement late Friday regretting the Trump administration’s decision to cut UNRWA funding, saying the U.N. has appreciated years of U.S. support for the agency.

“UNRWA has a strong record of providing high-quality education, health and other essential services, often in extremely difficult circumstances, to Palestine refugees who are in great need,” the statement added.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes during the war that led to Israel’s establishment in 1948. Today, there are an estimated 5 million refugees and their descendants, mostly scattered across the region — a figure that has become a point of contention. Palestinian leaders assert the right of those refugees to return to land now under Israeli control.

Last Friday, the State Department announced the U.S. was cutting more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians, following a review of the funding for projects in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman called that U.S. decision an attempt to force the Palestinians to abandon their claim to Jerusalem.

Speaking before the announcement on UNRWA, its representative in Washington, Elizabeth Campbell, said the withdrawal of U.S. funding would leave the agency facing a financial crisis, but noted that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others have provided more than $200 million in new funding to help cover its budget this year.

In recent days, senior Trump administration officials publicly expressed dissatisfaction with UNRWA but stopped short of saying the U.S. would defund the agency.

On Tuesday, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, complained that “Palestinians continue to bash America” although it’s the main donor for UNRWA. Speaking at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, Haley also said, “we have to look at right of return” of those classified as Palestinian refugees. She called on Middle East nations to increase aid.

There is deepening international concern over deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, and the U.S. decision to defund provoked strong and polarized reactions in Washington.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal advocacy group, said Trump’s decision “has the potential to harm millions of innocent civilians” and “will ratchet up the risk of greater destabilization and conflict across the Middle East.”

But Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, called it “a win for U.S. taxpayers and peace” that would make Palestinians more self-sufficient and prepare them “for a true peace with Israel.”

The State Department statement said the U.S. will intensify dialogue with the United Nations, host governments and international stakeholders about new models and new approaches to help Palestinians, especially schoolchildren, which may include direct bilateral assistance from the U.S. and others.

 

British Airways, Air France End Flights to Iran

By: Jewish News Syndicate; jns.org

The decision by two of Europe’s largest carriers comes as the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran following its withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal in May.

A British Airways aircraft. Credit: Pixabay.
A British Airways aircraft. Credit: Pixabay.

Two major European air carriers, British Airways and Air France, announced on Thursday that they are terminating flights to Iran.

British Airways, which reinstated its London to Tehran route in 2015 following the implementation of the nuclear deal, said it will cease flying to Iran on Sept. 23.

“We are suspending our London to Tehran service as the operation is currently not commercially viable,” the airline said in a statement.

Similarly, Air France will stop its flights from Paris to Tehran on Sept. 18 due to “the line’s weak performance.”

KLM, the Dutch arm of the Franco-Dutch airlines group Air France KLM, had previously announced that it was halting flights to Tehran.

The decision by two of Europe’s largest carriers comes as the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran following its withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May. While the carriers did not cite the sanctions as the reason for their decision, America has been pressuring European companies to avoid doing business in Iran or risk getting caught up in U.S. sanctions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision by the European airlines to halt their service to Iran.

“That is good, more should follow, more will follow because Iran should not be rewarded for its aggression in the region, for its attempts to spread terrorism far and wide … ,” he told a news conference during a visit to Lithuania.

Excavators Uncover 1,700 Year-Old Mosaic in Lod

By: Tamara Zieve; Jerusalem Post – jpost.com

The decorative work is one of many that paved a luxurious Roman villa.

A depiction of a bird in the newly discovered Lod mosaic
A depiction of a bird in the newly discovered Lod mosaic. (photo credit: ASSAF PEREZ/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

Excavators discovered a 1,700-year-old mosaic that once decorated a luxurious Roman villa in Lod, known in Roman times as Diospolis (City of Zeus).

The discovery was made during archaeological excavations carried out in the past month by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in preparation for the construction of a visitors center in Lod that will exhibit mosaics exposed several years ago at the site.

In 1996, road workers discovered by chance a mosaic floor at the entrance to Lod, adjacent to Ginnaton Junction. In subsequent excavations directed by the late archaeologist Dr. Miriam Avissar, the remains of a luxurious villa with exceptionally well-preserved, unique mosaic floors dating to the 4th century CE were found.

According to Dr. Amir Gorzalczany, the director of the current excavation, the excavations at the site exposed a villa that included a large luxurious mosaic-paved reception room, known as a triclinium. An internal columned courtyard, also with mosaics, and a water system were also uncovered.

“We found evidence for Mediterranean luxury that characterized the Roman Empire, including attributes such as fresco wall paintings,” said Gorzalczany.

The mosaics depict realistic and fantastic animals, complex geometric designs and marine scenes that incorporate a multitude of fish and two ships.

“The archaeological excavation that we carried out this month was relatively small, but contributed significantly to our understanding of the villa building” said Gorzalczany.

“Thankfully, the main central panel of the mosaic was preserved. The figures, many similar to the figures in the earlier mosaics, comprise fish and winged creatures. A fairly similar mosaic was found in the past in Jerusalem, on the Mount Zion slopes. The Lod mosaics, however, do not depict any human figures that are present in the Mount Zion mosaic. It is quite probable that the same artist produced both mosaics, or that two artists worked from a similar design.

This type of mosaic is better known in the western part of the Roman Empire.

“ALSO NOTEWORTHY,” continued Gorzalczany,”are the rectangular marks that may denote the placing of the couches on which the participants of the banquet or feast reclined. These marks are common in similar villas and are an indication of the use of the space in the reception halls.”

The central panel of the mosaic has been displayed at museums around the world including the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Frost Museum in Miami, Florida, the Altes Museum in Berlin, the Cini Foundation in Venice, the Field Museum in Chicago and the Art Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center project is a joint initiative of Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation, the Lod Municipality, the Lod Economic Development Corporation and the IAA. When completed, the center will display the mosaics enclosed within a modern building that relates to the plan of the ancient villa in which they were originally laid.

Gorzalczany believes that the newly discovered mosaic may have paved an additional reception room next to the reception hall which was uncovered in 1996. “If this is the case, then the villa may be much larger than we supposed. The discovery, in close proximity to the earlier hall, raises new questions: How large was the building? Did the villa comprise several reception halls? Where were the private living rooms? Was there a second story? These issues may be resolved in future excavations.”

The visitors center is scheduled to open in 2020.

Shelby White, the center’s donor, said, “The Lod Museum will be a dream come true that began when my husband Leon Levy and I first saw the magnificent mosaic more than 20 years ago. This initiative could not have materialized without the strong support of the Lod community and the Israel Antiquities Authority.”

Lod Mayor Yair Revivo remarked, “It is fascinating to learn how many centuries ago the centrality and the potential of the Lod environs was appreciated by the ancient residents.

The establishment of the center exhibiting aspects of the rich history of Lod will provide an impressive gateway to the town.”

 

UN Wants To Arm and Defend Terrorists Attacking Israel

By: Marina Medvin; townhall.com

UN Wants To Arm and Defend Terrorists Attacking Israel

In yet another showing of blatant antisemitism, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, declared last Friday that the Gaza Palestinians, who have been violently attempting to infiltrate the Israeli border to “kill the Jews” and “burn the Jews,” are the victims and in need of armed security.

This mind-boggling defense of terrorists is of no surprise to those of us who follow UN politics. Earlier this summer when the US walked out on the UN Human Rights Council, Nikki Haily issued a statementon the decision, calling the Council a protector of “the world’s worst human rights abusers” with a “chronic bias against Israel.”

The UN has maintained a consistent position of hatredof Israel since 1967. Why? Because the existence of a Jewish State is an affront to the 47 Muslim-majoritycountries at the UN who do not believe that Jews should have a country, let alone live side-by-side with them. It is an anti-Jewish, hateful position that is inconsistent with the word unity that crowns the title of this deceptive organization.

In 2017, Asaf Romirowsky, an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a guest lecturer for a group of students in Geneva, took the group to the United Nations on a field trip. He experienced the “chronic bias against Israel” first-hand. It was the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and every country made a statement about the war to the students. What did they say? Every single country discussed the “atrocities that the Israelis committed.” Every. Single. One. “Israeli atrocities.”

Recall that the Six Day War was necessary for Israel to stop the constant bombardment by Syria of Israeli towns, the Egyptian attacks on Israeli forces, the Egyptian militarization at the Israeli border, and the Jordanian joinder with Egypt. Israel was being threatened by every neighboring country. Not to mention the other Arab states which came to join the neighbors: Iraq, Kuwait, and Algeria, all of whom sent troops to join the Arab coalition against Israel. Within 6 days, Israel, a tiny country filled with Holocaust survivors, miraculously overcame the Arab Goliath coalition. Israelis did not commit “atrocities.” No. Instead, they defended the tiny bit of land that they had with all of their might, the land that they hoped will keep them safe from antisemitic assaults that they had experienced throughout the 2,000 years of diaspora. The Israelis were able to capture the small adjoining territories that were being used by the bordering countries to attack Israel. For this, the UN and liberals everywhere, have never forgiven Israel.

Every UN country blames Israel for defending itself, and every UN country believes that the core of Middle East problems resides with Israel. “The UN is just a mouthpiece for dictatorship regimes,” Romirowsky explains.

For this reason, instead of calling out the Gaza Palestinians for their violence, terrorism, and hate, leftists and the UN placate them.

The Palestinians also have growing support from leftist politicians and leftist newsorganizations. But why? Is the Palestinian movement overall sympathetic?

No. The Palestinian movement is a type of Islamist Jihad that is opposed to freedom— “a movement to liquidate a free society through conventional war, subversion, shootings, bombings, suicide attacks, rockets,” explains Elan Journo in his book What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The underlying goal is to overthrow Israel, he writes. The Palestinian movement has shown us time and time again that Palestinians do not want to live in peace with the Israelis. Instead, they want to destroy Israel and its free society and replace it with a totalitarian Islamic state.

But the Palestinians remain impoverished. And that is all that leftists need to know. They do not care that the Palestinians have spent BILLIONS of dollars in aid that they have received over the past two decades on terrorism instead of on infrastructure, education, and health (over $5 billion alone in US aid – that’s money taken from you and me). Leftists do not care that it is not Israel’s fault that the independent choices made by the Palestinians, like their continuous dedication to terrorism, are the sole causes of their continued struggle. Leftists simply blame Israel because Israel looks wealthy next to the Palestinians, who look impoverished. And that easy visual juxtaposition is more than sufficient for them.

“Everyone at the UN believes that the Palestinians are the victims. The UN doesn’t question that,” Asaf Romirowsky affirmed.

Moreover, the Israeli use of moderate force, which barely fights back against terrorism, appears treacherous to the left, who believe that Israel is wealthier and stronger and should just take it.

Israel is simply the recipient of anti-Jewish and anti-commerce hatred that is a collective result of Islamic and liberal ideology.

In his statement to the UN, Antonio Guterres appeared to try and separate the Gaza “civilians” from the Gaza terrorists, although he failed to mention terrorism or Hamas. But Gaza is 100% controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization, explains Romirowsky. “Hamas is a religious Islamist group. The Hamas Charter clearly states that the destruction of the Jews is their goal. They have always been consistent: they want to kill Jews. Hamas rhetoric is in the Palestinian school system and their mosques. Hamas rhetoric fuels everything in their region. Their society is a culture of incitement and indoctrination. The word Hamas itself means acting in a violent, religious, zealous way. Their name in itself has a militant, violent connotation in Arabic, it impassions violence.”

Palestinians are encouraged to commit terroristic acts from all of their leaders, not just Hamas. Even the Palestinian Authority, which is supposed to be less violent, funds and rewards Palestinians who commit acts of terrorism against Israelis. In 2017 alone, the Palestinian Authority paid over $350 million to terrorist families, declaring them Islamic martyrs for their feats of killing Jews. Which is why the response by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, that the Palestinian people actually need protection from their own leadership, is right on point. Otherwise, as it stands, the Palestinians and their terrorist government are indistinguishable, jointly engaged in terrorism for purposes of takeover, Jihad, and profit.

That terrorism reward cash, by the way, comes from American taxes.

Similarly, UN sponsors terrorism, also through our American money. The UN has flown Hezbollah terrorist flags. UN vehicles have been used to transport Hamas weapons. And UN-funded schools for Palestinians teach Palestinian children to hate Jews. More alarmingly, UN staff is not tested for terrorist ties.

Should the UN arm and protect the terrorists attacking Israel? No. But will they? If history is of any indication, the answer is an unequivocal yes.