Fake News Surrounds Trump’s Israel Visit

By: Greer Faye Cashman; jpost.com

There were plenty of security people in the street, but no one stopped pedestrians walking in the direction of the President’s Residence.

PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN, US President Donald Trump and their wives read the plaque of a tree planted in honor of Trump’s visit at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem yesterday.. (photo credit:MARK NEYMAN / GPO)

Conflicting reports about traffic stoppages and road blocks in connection with the visit of US President Donald Trump created confusion and in several instances proved to be false.

The only problem this reporter – who lives on the same street as the prime minister – had, was in trying to walk between the metal barriers on the pavement in order to reach the main street of Keren Hayesod, where to her surprise, buses were running. Some five minutes later, while waiting to cross Jabotinsky Street that at a certain point becomes Hanassi Street on which the President resides, she saw another regular bus passing by. So much for no buses.

There were plenty of security people in the street, but no one stopped pedestrians walking in the direction of the President’s Residence.

That was a departure from previous visits by past US presidents. At those times, pedestrians were not permitted to walk on the same side of the street as the President’s Residence without proving that they had a right to be there.

Security was much tighter in Smolenskin Street, where the prime minister lives.

A small byway on the seam of the capital’s Rehavia-Talbiya neighborhoods, Smolenskin Street, had been turned into a virtual fortress.

Approximately half of the street is permanently sealed off by a metal enclosure. But for the Trump visit, that was fortified by yet another enclosure within that enclosure, plus metal barriers along both sides of the street, including one at the entrance to apartment buildings that made entry and exit for residents extremely uncomfortable.

More than a dozen security personnel, including the Border Police, patrol the street that has a total of five buildings, one of which is the Prime Minister’s Residence and one of which, next door, is unoccupied and used by security personnel for various needs.

The high fence across the road surrounds Terra Sancta, a large complex owned by the Franciscan Catholic Order. Part of the complex serves security needs and part contains a spacious church. The buildings in Terra Sancta are set well back from the fence. Car owners who live on the street were forced to park their vehicles elsewhere.

Reporters, photographers and video teams were asked to begin arriving at the President’s Residence at 10:30 a.m. They were also asked to dress “business casual” and some who usually wear jeans and t-shirts looked very smart in their spiffy suits and ties. Those who came in their usual rumpled attire were not turned away.

Trump was due to arrive at 1:15 p.m. but did not make an entrance until 2:07 p.m., by which time the media contingent numbered some 50 representatives and took up half the main hall in the residence. An insufficient number of chairs had been set out, but plenty of tuna sandwiches along with hot and cold beverages, cake and cookies had been supplied.

Frustrated journalists interviewed each other but learned very little. They were also restricted in what they could actually cover.

Former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had been much more accessible. For those journalists who had paid their own way to come to Israel it seemed as if they had wasted their money.

Security notwithstanding, Channel 2 reporter Sivan Rahav Meir, who more or less has carte blanche in the President’s Residence, brought one of her children.

The table that once belonged to British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli and which was gifted many years ago to the President’s Residence, is used for the visitor’s book which is signed by visiting dignitaries. This time it was placed on stage with the book and a bouquet of wilted flowers. If the flowers had been intended for America’s first lady, they were, thankfully, not presented to her. To give her such flowers would have been an insult.

The staff at the President’s Residence have a fetish about the red carpet, which is constantly being swept. This time, to protect it from dust and footprints, a long strip of gray plastic sheeting was placed on top, but to no avail. People kept walking over the plastic, which shifted under their feet and the carpet got dirty anyway.

It was swept at least four times prior to Trump’s arrival and also vacuumed. Even after Rivlin and Trump and their respective aides retired to a smaller reception area, the sweeper came out again.

But it wasn’t just the carpet. The upholstered chairs were also given a wipe-over. Meanwhile, the media twiddled its collective thumbs, and at least one person pondered the collective economic loss in productivity. Finally the aides emerged, followed by the two presidents, who made their respective statements which had been prepared long before they got together.

But Trump, who has a better sense of drama than Rivlin, was able when saying that Israel is an amazing country, to put sufficient stress on the first syllable and sound genuine in his admiration.

Rivlin, who is a great admirer of America, sounded the part when he voiced his pleasure at America being “back in the area.”

Following their statements, the two presidents and their wives and aides went to the garden for a photo shoot by an almond tree – specially planted for the occasion – then rushed back through the hall to waiting vehicles outside.

When Rivlin returned, he said Trump had been surprised by the huge media turnout and asked if he had ever seen so many in his life. Rivlin was less forthcoming when asked to assess his private meeting with Trump. “I’d rather have the Americans assess the meeting,” he said. “A host doesn’t talk about his guests.”

 

Republican Senators Introduce Resolution to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

By: Katie Pavlich; townhall.com

While the White House backs away from moving the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, breaking a repeatedly stated campaign promise, a group of Republican Senators introduced a resolution this week to eventually get the job done.

“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this resolution,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz released in a statement. “It is time for the United States to implement a law that Congress passed more than two decades ago, formally recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, and move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

The resolution, introduced by Senators Cruz, Graham, Rubio and Heller, formally declares Jerusalem the capitol of Israel. You can read the text below:

Whereas each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital;
Whereas, since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel;
Whereas the city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s President, Parliament, Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions;
Whereas the city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism and is also considered a holy city by members of other religious faiths;
Whereas Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel since 1967;
Whereas, this year, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and reaffirm the congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city;
Whereas every citizen of Israel should have the right to reside anywhere in the undivided city of Jerusalem;
Whereas the President and the Secretary of State should publicly affirm as a matter of United States policy that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel;
Whereas the President should immediately implement the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–45) and begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem;
Whereas United States officials should refrain from any actions that contradict United States law on this subject; and
Whereas any official document of the United States Government which lists countries and their capital cities should identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that—
(1) it should be the policy of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel both de jure and de facto; and
(2) the United States Embassy should be relocated to Jerusalem.

The White House punted the embassy move this week just days ahead of President Trump’s first trip to the Jewish State.

Yad Vashem to Present President Trump with Unique Personal Artifact

By: Tamara Zieve; jpost.com

A relative of the memento’s owner will be in attendance at Donald Trump’s visit to Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

Ester and Margot Goldstein. (photo credit:YAD VASHEM)

Yad Vashem announced on Sunday that its chairman Avner Shalev will present US President Donald Trump with a replica of a personal album that belonged to Holocaust victim Ester Goldstein, during the president’s visit on Tuesday.

Her album – donated to Yad Vashem by her sister Margot Herschenbaum – contains messages of hope and friendship written by her family and friends. The first entry is from 1937, when Ester was 11 years old, and the final one is dated September 16, 1942, about a month before Ester was deported to Riga, Latvia, where she was subsequently murdered at the age of 16.

Herschenbaum, the sole survivor of her immediate family who was rescued on a Kindertransport to Australia, will attend the presidential event. The album came into her possession after the Holocaust, when her cousin David Werner returned to the Goldstein family home in Berlin, where a neighbor gave him a box of papers that she had kept safe throughout the war. Among the papers was the album, which she later donated to Yad Vashem for safekeeping.

Yad Vashem explained that the album was chosen because “it offers a glimpse into the life of a young girl, that was tragically cut short…. The album also allows us to tell the story of the fate of those who were murdered and survived.”

Shalev will accompany Trump and first lady Melania Trump during the visit, alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as well as Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau.

The visit to the Holocaust memorial has caused a stir in Israel, as it was initially unclear whether it would take place, and then reportedly cut from half an hour to 15 minutes at the request of US officials.

A statement released by Yad Vashem on Sunday noted that “while the president’s visit to Israel is brief, he has chosen to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust by participating in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance.”

Yad Vashem also told The Jerusalem Post that the schedule for official visits to Yad Vashem is not standardized by protocol and that each visit is unique, personalized and directly related to the length of time the official spends in Israel and at Yad Vashem.

Trump will rekindle the eternal flame and lay a wreath on a stone slab under which ashes from extermination camps are buried. A cantor will sing “El Maleh Rachamim,” a Jewish prayer for the souls of the victims of the Holocaust, and Trump will be invited to sign the Yad Vashem guest book.

The nature of Trump’s visit to the memorial is of particular interest in light of the shaky start his administration got off to regarding matters pertaining to the Holocaust.

In his first statement about the Holocaust as president, Trump sparked controversy by omitting any mention of the Jews on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The White House defended its statement, noting that Jews were not the only victims of Nazi slaughter.

Several days later, Yad Vashem put out a statement stressing “to all that the Holocaust was the unprecedented genocide of six million Jews… which sought the annihilation of the Jewish people, its culture and its heritage.”

Last month, Yad Vashem urged White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to visit its website and learn about the Holocaust after he – while discussing a suspected chemical weapon in Syria – said that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons.

 

JPMorgan Chase Provides Travel Alerts for ‘Palestine,’ but not Israel

By: Sharon Udasin; jpost.com

You can’t select Israel, but you can select “State of Palestine, Occupied.”

A view of the exterior of the JP Morgan Chase & Co. corporate headquarters in New York City.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

J.P. Morgan Chase allows debit-card users to select “Palestine” as a destination they will be visiting, so their cards will continue to work without a glitch, but does not allow the same for Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The New York-based bank, the US’s largest and the third largest in the world by assets, said this is due to a perceived high incidence of fraud activity in Israel.

A banker for J.P. Morgan Chase told the Post that he was surprised this week when he tried adding Israel and Egypt to the international travel notification system for a debit card of a customer planning a trip to both countries.

After successfully adding Egypt, the banker – who asked to remain anonymous – said he tried to select Israel as well, but was barred from doing so due to the country’s status in the bank as a “highrisk country.”

Finding this odd, the banker said he looked up “Palestine” in the system, found “State of Palestine, Occupied,” and was offered the option of setting a notification for the territory.

After calling his back office team, the banker said he was ultimately able to “place a note” on the customer’s debit card that she would be traveling to Israel, but was told to advise her to perform all of her transactions as debits from her account, rather than use the credit function.

In response to the banker’s report, Trish Wexler, chief communications officer for J.P. Morgan Chase, told the Post on Wednesday that the bank had decided not to open the cards for travel alerts in Israel, due to heightened fraud activity in the country.

When a banker selects a travel alert on a card for a customer heading to another country, this makes the company less likely to decline a transaction that might otherwise be flagged for fraud, Wexler explained.

Although assigning such travel alerts for Israel is currently impossible, she said that customers can still use their cards in Israel and that not every transaction will be blocked.

As far as the listing “State of Palestine, Occupied” is concerned, Wexler said she was unable to confirm that the Palestinian Authority was given this name in the company’s system. She did confirm, however, that the travel alerts for both the PA and Egypt can be added to customer cards.

J.P. Morgan Chase employs a number of algorithms that look for markers that detect fraud, and the company is not currently comfortable with removing these markers when customers travel to Israel, according to Wexler.

She stressed that this is by no means a judgment call or a broad J.P. Morgan Chase policy, as fraud detection is data-driven and dynamic.

“This is based on actual transaction data that we have observed,” Wexler said. “We want to do what’s right to keep our customers’ accounts safe. Will this change in the future? It’s possible. But this is what our program is detecting right now.”

 

A Memo to President Trump

By: Michael Laitman; jpost.com

President Trump, I wish you a pleasant visit to Israel. Still, in my view, your success in office depends on an effective implementation of the America First policy.

Donald Trump speaks at his final campaign event at the Devos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Dear Mr. President:

Welcome to Israel.

The Israeli public awaits your arrival with great anticipation, just as your supporters back home are eager to see the fulfillment of your America First policy. For this reason, I truly believe that turning the attention to America is the key to making your term in office a success.

You know better than anyone that joblessness in American society is a constant concern, as tens of millions are still living on various forms of government benefits. Such permanent inactivity is a recipe for trouble. Prolonged idleness creates crime, violence, substance abuse, and can ravage entire communities. On the national level, the sense of solidarity among Americans is at an all-time low. As politics creates factions and frictions within society that impede every effort for improvement, it seems as though the very nationhood of the American people is at risk.

To combat these challenges, I recommend the introduction of a nationwide program to strengthen communities and deepen the solidarity among the American people. The program consists of two interdependent elements that together will guarantee both the livelihood of all Americans and their national solidarity.

Because it is necessary to guarantee people’s livelihoods, some sort of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is required in this program. However, if we leave it at that, a permanent income that does not require any commitment from the beneficiaries will “kill” people’s ability to work and to connect with others, and will turn them into hazards to society.

For this reason, reception of UBI benefits must be contingent upon partaking in courses and workshops conducted under specific rules designed to invoke in participants feelings of connection, trust, and reciprocity. These workshops are part of a method called Integral Education (IE), which has proven itself successful numerous times over many years, and in countless places around the world, including the US, Europe, Israel, and Russia.

Besides workshops, IE provides practical tools for handling emotional and social crises, and includes learning about the history of the country, state, and city where people live, so as to make them feel connected to their local neighborhoods and to the US society as a whole. But most important, this method makes people feel that solidarity and a sense of community create more value for them than isolation and alienation.

Today’s technologies enable providing IE to millions of people online at minimal cost. People can participate from home or at public venues such as community centers. While facilitators will still be required in classrooms, professional instruction can be given online by a handful of trained professionals from one central location.

The decrease in violence and crime, and the increase in national cohesion and positive social engagement will drastically reduce crime and violence levels, and will slash the prevalence of substance abuse. These changes will save vast amounts of government and municipal resources, making the IE program exceptionally lucrative.

Beyond the economic value, IE will transform communities, creating an ambience of friendliness, trust, comprehension of social responsibility, and strong engagement in pro-social activities.

Mr. President, as you are a pragmatic individual, I think you should focus on America first and do what is best for the American society, as you have clearly stated since the onset of your presidency. If you implement a nationwide IE program, America will undoubtedly become a role model of social stability and national solidarity. Or, to use your words, it will “Make America great again.”

With best wishes,

Michael Laitman

Michael Laitman is a Professor of Ontology, a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics, and was the prime disciple of Kabbalist, Rav Baruch Shalom Ashlag (the RABASH). He has written over 40 books, which have been translated into dozens of languages.

Trump Should Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

By: Star Parker; townhall.com

This weekend President Donald Trump departs on his first overseas trip, which will include visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and Europe.

Trump’s Israel visit coincides with a very special day — the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty after 2000 years.

Many, including me, hope that President Trump will take this very special occasion to announce that he will fulfill his campaign promise and move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

It was in the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War, 50 years ago in 1967, defeating the attacking armies of Israel’s three neighboring countries — Egypt, Jordan and Syria — that Israel captured East Jerusalem, held by Jordan, and united it with West Jerusalem, held by Israel.

The U.S. Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995 stating, as a matter of U.S. policy, that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city, that it should be recognized as Israel’s capital city, and that the American embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem no later than 1999.

The act included a waiver for the president to not implement the law if he deems that the action creates a national security problem. All presidents since then, Clinton, Bush and Obama have exercised this waiver.

Now President Trump holds the cards. He promised during the campaign to move the embassy. Will he do it?

When asked about this on “Meet the Press,” Secretary of State Tillerson showed signs that the administration may be going wobbly on the president’s promise. He said that the embassy move would be considered “in the context of a peace initiative.”

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem delivered a strategy paper to President Trump, which includes my organization CURE as a signatory, urging him to move the embassy to Jerusalem. The paper quickly gets to the heart of the matter, saying that hesitance to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, because of “fear of Islamic backlash,” is not policy “based on principle, fairness and historical right, but it is based solely on weakness and fear.”

These Christian Zionists are right. If the United States wants to further peace in the Middle East, and elsewhere, the best start is to demonstrate clear, principled leadership, defined by our free principles and not by intimidation.

Israel has been under siege since its founding in 1948. Yet, under the constant shadow of war and terrorism, in just 69 years Israelis have built a modern, industrialized country, with per capita income on par with the industrialized countries of Europe. It is the only free and democratic country in the Middle East.

I wrote a column a number of years ago entitled “The Simple Path to Middle East Peace.” I quoted the late television personality Art Linkletter, who said, “Things turn out best for the people that make the best of the way things turn out.” I said then, and I say now, that this captures the difference between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Israelis built a modern thriving nation in the wake of a devastating Holocaust. In contrast, the Palestinians have allowed themselves to be immobilized by hatred and denial, insisting that their problems and suffering are because of others.

I have watched for years how this culture of victimhood has locked low income black Americans in our inner cities in a never-ending cycle of dependency and poverty.

Nothing defines the unique relationship between the United States and Israel more than the scripture from the Book of Leviticus in our Bible inscribed on the Liberty Bell — “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

With beautiful irony, this scripture is about the jubilee year, which occurs every 50 years.

Now President Trump arrives in Israel for the jubilee year of the reunification of Jerusalem. He should take this occasion to announce that the United States will, finally, recognize Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Norway’s Largest Trade Union Calls for Blanket Boycott of Israel

jta.org (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Norway’s largest trade union reaffirmed its support for boycotts of Israel.

The assembly of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions on Friday called for a total boycott of Israel in a nonbonding resolution.

The confederation, known locally as LO, represents over 900,000 unionized workers in the country – more than one quarter of the adult working population. Its delegates voted 193 to 117 in favor of a boycott of the State of Israel.

“Since dialogue and resolutions have had little effect, there must henceforth come an effort to achieve an international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel in order to achieve those objectives,” the resolution read.

In recent years, LO has called to boycott various Israeli institutions, including the Histadrut labor union, and businesses “that profit from the occupation of Palestinian land,” as the organization stated in a 2013 resolution. Virtually all major player in Israel’s industrial and economic sector have dealings with or offices in Israeli settlements, a fact that has contributed to such calls by LO being interpreted as a call for a blanket boycott on the Israeli economy.

A Norwegian government spokesperson distanced the Cabinet from the vote and said it does not represent the official position of Norway. A spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry called the vote “discriminatory.”

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende wrote on Twitter: “Norwegian government strongly opposes Norw Labour Union’s decision: #boycott of #Israel. We need more cooperation and dialogue, not boycott.”

LO President Hans-Christian Gabrielsen’s recommended against passing the resolution, according to the news agency Sputnik.

The vote by LO “not only reflects a deep bias against Israel and its active labor movement, but undermines efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians together,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote in a statement Friday. “A vote in favor of boycotts, divestment and sanctions is a vote against the very legitimacy of the Jewish state.”

Christian Mother Asia Bibi’s Death Sentence Appeal Delayed Again by Pakistan Supreme Court

By: Samuel Smith; christianpost.com

Asia Bibi, the Christian mother imprisoned on death row in Pakistan, will have her appeal hearing delayed yet again after the nation’s Supreme Court rejected a request for her case to be heard in early June.

A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan April 20, 2017. (PHOTO: REUTERS/CAREN FIROUZ)

Saiful Malook, Bibi’s attorney, told the Pakistani news outlet The Express Tribune that Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar declined his client’s request for an early hearing. As previously reported, Nisar, a Muslim lawyer, had submitted the request in mid-April for Bibi’s case to be heard in the first week of June.

Imprisoned Christian mother of of five, Asia Bibi, is facing the death penalty after being accused of blasphemy in 2009 by angry Muslim women, who were upset that she drank from the same drinking water as them.

“I have been informed that the plea was declined by the CJP,” Malook told the Tribune.

Bibi, who is also known as Aasiya Noreen and could become the first woman in Pakistan to be executed over a blasphemy allegation, has spent nearly eight years in prison after local Muslim women accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The women got angry because she drank from the same water bowl as them.

As blasphemy, in some instances, in Pakistan is punishable by death or life in prison, Bibi was sentenced to death in November 2010 even though she maintained her innocence.

“This is very unfortunate. Her husband became quiet when he heard the latest developments. We shall again apply for the hearing and keep struggling for justice,” Joseph Nadeem, executive director of the Renaissance Education Foundation, told the Asia-based Catholic news outlet ucanews.com. “There are many factors at work behind the slow pace of judiciary. Her case has been in the doldrums due to huge pressure. There will be a strong reaction if Bibi is freed, opposing groups have made it a matter of honor and ego.”

Initially, Bibi appealed her death sentence to the Lahore High Court but her hearing was delayed at least seven times before her appeal was heard in October 2014 and her sentencing was upheld.

Last summer, there was optimism that Bibi might finally have her appeal heard by the Pakistan Supreme Court. It was reported that Nisar had ordered Bibi’s appeal to be heard in the second week of October 2016.

However, the hearing was postponed. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, the hearing was delayed after Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman was recused from the case because he was the chief justice on the Islamabad High Court when that court upheld the conviction of the Muslim bodyguard who assassinated Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer in 2011. Gov Taseer had spoken out in defense of Bibi and against the nation’s blasphemy laws.

Since Pakistan instituted blasphemy laws in the 1980s, the laws have been used by Muslims to settle personal scores and target Christians and other religious minorities. Bibi is not the only Christian to have been victimized by the blasphemy laws.

Last October, it was reported that a 9-year-old Christian boy was accused of burning the Quran. The boy and his mother were later arrested and claimed they were beaten and tortured by police.

“Such atrocities have become routine. The plight of Bibi has had a dampening effect on minorities. Their grief cannot be addressed because of religious retrogressive and extremist groups. Islamists consider her freedom a defeat for their movement,” Christian lawyer Naeem Shakir told ucanews.com.

Pakistan currently ranks as the fourth worst country in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List.

 

Queen of Jewish Cuisine Joan Nathan Timewarps to Biblical Kings in New Cookbook

By: Rich Tenorio; timesofisrael.com

‘King Solomon’s Table’ gives readers a taste of international Jewish culinary history, dating from the Bible

NEWTON, Massachusetts — Through her award-winning cookbooks, acclaimed food writer Joan Nathan has taught generations of families how to make Jewish recipes from the US, Israel and France. Now, all the world’s her stage.

In her newest book, “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World,” Nathan shares over 170 recipes from a diverse array of cultures — all through a Jewish perspective.

In an exclusive interview with The Times of Israel, Nathan had a hard time choosing a favorite recipe from among the almost 400 pages worth in her new book.

“There are so many,” she said. “I loved fessenjan, a nut and pomegranate stew from Persia. I love kukusa, an Azerbaijani egg dish with walnuts sprinkled on top.”

There’s also “a tamarind meatball dish [from] Syria,” and “fideos — tiny little noodles, [in a] cinnamon-laced tomato sauce [from] Rhodes,” as well as “a lasagna, and kasha varnishkes from Poland that I tasted in Netanya.”

Nathan calls “shtritzlach,” or blueberry buns, her most unexpected recipe.

“It’s a Polish pocket pastry,” she said. “People knew it as the Jewish dish of Toronto. It’s really good, sweet on top, with a sugar coating, delicious. I would never have thought it was a traditional Jewish dish. It’s [originally] from southwest Poland. I traced it back to the three people who made it. I had never heard of it.”

The idea for the book arose from an equally unexpected discovery in Kochi, India, and a synagogue in Kochi’s Jew Town.

“I looked at a sign that said ‘Jews have been in India since the time of King Solomon,’” Nathan recalled. “That’s what really got me onto doing world [cooking]… I guess it sort of all came together.”

Another key ingredient was a chance to see the world’s oldest cookbook, a cuneiform tablet in Akkadian, in the collections of Yale University.

“I realized, it was 1700 [BCE],” Nathan said. “King Solomon was 1000 BCE. It was not until 1400 BCE that Abraham went from Ur in southern Iraq to the Holy Land. There were no monotheists till then. It became very interesting to me — the development of food, the development of Judaism.”

As she worked on the book over six years, she found three common denominators.

“One, the dietary laws, no question,” she said. “Even if you were not very religious, in the back of your mind, you always thought [of them], and Jewish laws in general [are] so much a part of Judaism.”

She said that while she does not keep kosher, “I like kosher cookbooks.”

Then, there was “the ability to look for new foods,” which she said is also “very much part of Judaism.” She noted that in the Book of Kings, “Jews went out looking for spices, jewels, peacocks, the freshest stones, throughout the known world as far as India. They were grain dealers, bakers, vintners.”

Hummus with preserved lemon from Joan Nathan’s new book, ‘King Solomon’s Table.’ (Courtesy/Gabriela Herman)

Third, she said, “Jews [were] always getting kicked out, [and] therefore looking for new foods. They had to adjust food and dietary laws to new places.”

In El Salvador, “what I had instead of potato pancakes were yucca pancakes with cilantro cream,” she said. “Yucca is something eaten more often than potatoes [there].”

There are certainly geographical variations in world Jewish cuisine, including among Sephardic and Ashkenazi food.

“In the Middle East, there are more vegetables,” Nathan said. “Meat is sort of an addition. Eastern Europe would be more meat-heavy. There is more meat [there], and also [in] France and Italy. The more southern you go, the more vegetables. It makes sense. [They grow vegetables] year-round.”

It sounds like most of Nathan’s recipes can be prepared relatively quickly.

“Some recipes do have more ingredients,” she said. “I try not to make that

Syrian meatballs from Joan Nathan’s new book, ‘King Solomon’s Table.’ (Courtesy/Gabriela Herman)

many. Too many [ingredients] would make them real complicated. Some, like Moroccan burekas, making them, once you get [the hang of them], it’s easy. It takes a while to figure out the dough. You put butter in. It’s a little bit complicated but not too complicated… The batter, you just have to play with it.”

She did note that her beloved fessenjan takes “more time,” although it sounds worth the wait.

At an April 27 event called “Rising to the Top: A Conversation with Jewish Women in the Culinary Arts,” a Newton, Massachusetts, audience stood patiently in line for autographed copies of Nathan’s latest oeuvre.

The event honored Brandeis University’s Hadassah Brandeis Institute — an international academic center dedicated to research on Jews and gender — and its director Shulamit Reinharz, who is retiring in June after a 35-year academic career. It also recognized Nathan and three fellow Jewish women in the culinary arts: Laura Trust, president of Finagle A Bagel (the event was held in its test kitchen), and Rachel Munzer and Rachel Sundet, co-owners of Mamaleh’s Delicatessen in Cambridge.

Reinharz, a sociology professor at Brandeis, founded the Hadassah Brandeis Institute in 1997. Her husband, Yehuda Reinharz, was the university’s president from 1995 to 2011. She appreciates that Nathan provides historical, cultural and religious context to her recipes.

“I think that Joan Nathan should be viewed as a researcher,” she told The Times of Israel.

Reinharz recalled reading Nathan’s first cookbook, “The Flavor of Jerusalem,” which she co-wrote with Judy Stacey Goldman in 1974.

Director of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute, Shulamit Reinharz. (Courtesy Amy Powell, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute)

“It has the same quality,” Reinharz said. “It’s not just a cookbook. Every recipe has a larger story, where she got the story, and why it’s meaningful.”

In fact, Nathan told The Times of Israel that earlier in life, “I really wanted [to write about] sociology or anthropology. I wrote ‘The Flavor of Jerusalem’ on a lark. I lived in Israel. At the time, I [worked] for the mayor of Jerusalem, [Teddy] Kollek. It sold 25,000 copies.”

Reinharz bought one of those copies while in Jerusalem. At the event, she held up her copy, noting that it was “very ratty-looking, because I use it all the time, not only to cook but to read.”

“The Flavor of Jerusalem” would become the first of 12 books for Nathan. She won an R.T. French Tastemaker Award in 1985 for “An American Folklife Cookbook,” and a James Beard Award in 1994 for “Jewish Cooking in America.” She also hosted a nationally televised series on PBS, “Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan.”

In recent decades, Nathan has had company on the shelves, including British author Claudia Roden — whose 800-recipe opus from 1996, “The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York,” is mentioned in the bibliography — and French author Annabelle Schachmes, who wrote “La Cuisine Juive” (Jewish Cooking) in 2015.

Nathan told the audience that today, unlike years past, there are “loads of Jewish chefs,”

Hungarian golden pull-apart cake from Joan Nathan’s new book, ‘King Solomon’s Table.’ (Courtesy/Gabriela Herman)

such as Michael Solomonov of Zahav, who won the Outstanding Chef of the Year at the recent 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards, and Michael Tusk of Quince, who won a Beard Award in 2011.

But, she said, “even to this day, there are very few women chefs. It’s an all-boys-network of male chefs. I sure have noticed it. There are so many good woman chefs.”

“I felt cooking was a way of breaking down barriers between people. Teddy Kollek in Jerusalem, I could see how he broke down barriers [by] eating [people’s] food, Jews, Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem,” she said.

“I had an idea and went with it. There were not that many, certainly not Jewish cookbooks in those days. I’ve always gone on with what I wanted to do. It’s not so easy now to do it. There are so many of us.”

But there is only one Joan Nathan. And her newest cookbook is arguably her most ambitious. Poignantly, it was released just a month before Mother’s Day on May 14. Nathan’s mother, Pearl Nathan, died at age 103 in February.

Joan Nathan and her husband, Allan Gerson — a former prosecutor of Nazi war criminals who has represented victims of 9/11 and the Lockerbie bombings — do have a simcha to prepare for: their son’s wedding. Nathan reflected on family dynamics across generations.

“I guess things don’t change much,” she told the audience. “I didn’t listen to my mother. My father asked, ‘Why don’t you become a real estate agent and make some money?’ It sounded boring. My own kids don’t listen to me.”

While preparing and tasting her new recipes, the culinary world will continue listening to Nathan.

 

50 Years Later, 3 Soldiers Re-enact, Remember Their Iconic Six-Day War Photo

Nobody was really sure they had even captured the ‘real thing’

Picture of paratroopers Zion Karasenti, Haim Oshri, and Itzik Yifat has become defining image of Israel regaining Western Wall; they’re still friends and they still argue…

From L to R, Haim Oshri, Dr. Itzik Yifat and Zion Karasenti stand in front of the Western Wall in April 2017, 50 years after the three former paratroopers were resonantly photographed at the holy site by David Rubinger immediately after its capture in the Six Day War. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The David Rubinger photograph of three paratroopers standing in silent awe in front of the recaptured Western Wall after the battle for Jerusalem in 1967 has become the defining image of one of the most significant moments in Israel’s history.

With the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War approaching, Zion Karasenti, Haim Oshri, and Dr. Itizik Yifat returned to the Old City this week to remember the moment.

Karasenti, Oshri, and Yifat described to Channel 2 News how they, as 20-something reserve duty soldiers, inadvertently became the symbol of a nation fulfilling a 2,000 year dream.

“There were snipers everywhere, especially from overhead. They could have thrown a grenade on us and finished us,” Karasenti recalled of the battle for the Jerusalem holy site.

The iconic Rubinger photo of the three paratroopers at the recaptured Western Wall in June 1967 (Courtesy Rubinger/Knesset Collection)

Since none of them had ever been to the Western Wall, which had been under Jordanian rule since 1948, they admitted that, at first, nobody was really sure they had even captured the “real thing.”

“Everyone talked about the Kotel [Western Wall] all the time, but we were new and we had never been there. That day was the first time any of us had ever been there,” Oshri said.

At the time there was only a narrow corridor separating the Western Wall of the Temple Mount from the nearby houses and buildings of the Old City.

“When they [our colleagues] raised the flag over the Western Wall, that was our sign,” Karasenti said.

“After the 48 hours of battle, we were tired and sweaty, our uniforms were dusty and bloodied, but when we walked down the stairs and saw the stones of the Western Wall, a lot of the guys started crying.

A full frame of the iconic Rubinger photo of the three paratroopers at the recaptured Western Wall in June 1967 (Courtesy Rubinger/Knesset Collection)

“It was an extraordinary thing, its hard to describe,” Karasenti said.

It wasn’t until after the war was over that the three men realized the picture of them taken by legendary photographer Rubinger had become famous worldwide.

“After the war, my neighbor who was a brand new immigrant from Poland, came running out to show me that my photo was in the Polish newspapers. I was shocked,” said Yifat.

“We did become a symbol of our strength,” Yifat said.

Karasenti said he too was surprised to see it on the front page of the Haaretz daily the following week.

“I showed it to my girlfriend at the time, I couldn’t believe it, I told her ‘look, someone took our picture!’”

To many, the 50th anniversary of Israel’s victory in the Six Day War — in which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula –is a bittersweet one. It represents half a century since the Old City and other historic Jewish sites returned to Jewish hands, but also half a century of Israeli military rule over the Palestinians.

Asked about the dual nature of the jubilee, the men appear to be as divided as Israeli society.

“There is something to be said for that [calling the image the start of the tragedy of the state of Israel] Yifat said. “I don’t believe that we should be ruling over another nation.”

From L to R, Haim Oshri, Dr. Itizik Yifat and Zion Karasenti stand in front of the Western Wall in April 2017, nearly 50 years after the Six Day War battle to take the entire city. (screen capture: Channel 2)

“How can you say that as an Israeli who fought for something after 2,000 years of longing?” Karasenti shot back. “We returned the heart of the Jewish people to this land.”

Retorted Yifat: “What am I supposed to tell my grandchildren? That there will be war every year?”

Despite their political differences, the three men, now in their 70s, say they have remained close friends over the years.

As Karasenti, Oshri, and Yifat approached the wall to take a picture this week, a passerby stopped the three to thank them.

“All of the people that are here right now are only here because of you,” this man said. “It’s you, and all of the other soldiers who fought then. This is all thanks to your courage and your faith. So again, thank you so much.”