Israel's PM Netanyahu Refuses to Meet with President Obama
In the midst of negotiating a 10-year security agreement with Israel and icy tensions that only started to thaw in November of last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a March 18 visit with US President Obama.
Learning of the cancellation first from Israeli media, which appeared to blame Obama for not fitting Netanyahu into his schedule, the White House stated, “We were looking forward to hosting the bilateral meeting, Reports that we were not able to accommodate the prime minister's schedule are false."
Pundits jumped on the story calling it a “snub” and an “outrage.” Raphael Ahren atThe Times of Israel called the cancellation “unprecedented.”
“When an American president invites you, you have to go,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, however, said yesterday that “there's no reason to consider this a snub.” He then advised Netanyahu that “it’s just good manners” to notify the White House directly about a change in plans, adding, “I’m merely suggesting that if they weren’t able to make the meeting, they should have just told us before they told a reporter.”
Netanyahu also cancelled his visit to the annual policy conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby group, in Washington DC being held March 20–22.
Candidates from both parties of the 2016 US presidential election are slated to be there and requested to meet with Netanyahu.
To avoid the appearance of intervening or siding with any candidate, official word from the PM's bureau is that he decided to address the conferees by video instead of in person. (Haaretz)
While Netanyahu is not planning to meet with Obama (who is not up for re-election), he is meeting today with US Vice President Joe Biden in Israel before the VP travels to Ramallah to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian Terrorists Hunt in Pairs As Violence Continues
“They all come intent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand.” (Habakkuk 1:9)
“Lone-wolf” terrorism in Israel continues while “hunting in pairs” becomes a recognizable phenomenon, with 13 attacks committed by pairs of terrorists since mid-September. Meanwhile, Israeli casualties continue to climb in attacks at the hands of Palestinian assailants.
On Tuesday, terrorist attacks left at least twelve injured, and one dead.
The first of the attacks happened Tuesday afternoon in Jerusalem and Petach Tikvah within minutes of each other. Two Israeli police officers and an Israeli man were seriously wounded in separate attacks — one a shooting and the other a stabbing.
Later, a 25-year-old Palestinian man from eastern Jerusalem opened fire from his motorcycle on Border Police officers near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Just hours afterward, an attacker on a stabbing spree left at least nine people injured in various locations around Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv. An American tourist was killed and his wife gravely injured.
In one of two attacks on Thursday, a 14-year-old girl in the el-Auja village near Jericho approached a pair of police officers who were redirecting traffic around a fallen tree, stabbing one in the shoulder with a kitchen knife before fleeing. The bleeding officer ran after her and arrested her without using his weapon. He was later evacuated to HaEmek Medical Center in Afula.
Earlier on Thursday at about 1 a.m. by the Rehalim junction near Ariel, a police vehicle was shot a number of times, with one officer inside lightly wounded. Israeli officials were still searching for the shooter Friday morning. (JPost)
At 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning, an Israeli father of five, Roi Harel, who lives in the Eli settlement of Judea-Samaria was assaulted by two club-wielding Arab teenagers outside his home. Harel was ready to leave the house for reserve duty when he encountered the two 17-year-olds from the Qaryut village near Nablus, which sits about halfway between Jerusalem and Nazareth.
“I opened the door and saw two terrorists with hatred and anger in their eyes,” Harel told Ynet. “They attacked me with clubs and axes, and entered my home.”
They had stuck an 8-inch knife in the front door for later use.
“After a couple of seconds I came to, and I ran after them as they had almost reached my children's bedrooms,” Harel added. “I screamed to my wife to call the settlement’s guard, the children woke up and cried, but my wife was with them in the bedroom, so they hardly saw anything.”
“I managed to push them [the terrorists] outside the house and locked my door,” Harel added. “I was very shaken. It’s not a simple feeling.”
“If anyone has any doubts as to their intentions, two 17-year-olds came to slaughter me, my wife and my kids,” Harel told Ynet.
Harel was treated for cuts to his head at the Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. The terrorists were shot dead by soldiers while fleeing.
The incident was followed in the evening by another attack on two Israeli soldiers in the Har Bracha (Mount of Blessing) region of Judea-Samaria.
A pair of terrorists stabbed the soldiers, injuring one lightly in the face and the other moderately, before escaping.
While searchers scoured the Nablus area on Wednesday, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan announced opening an emergency headquarters to await security directions. As of Friday evening, the assailants remained at large.
Meanwhile, the incitement and elevation of violence responsible for such violent behavior continue unabated. There are places so violent that even Palestinian forces hesitate to enter.
Late Monday night (February 29), two Israeli soldiers — an army driver and squad commander — followed the Waze GPS phone app into the Palestinian Qalandiyah refugee camp near Ramallah, where they were attacked with a firebomb, incinerating the Israelis’ evacuated vehicle.
The residents launched into a frenzied riot, shooting their guns and throwing rocks and firebombs. Israeli troops were deployed to rescue the pair, who fled their vehicle in separate directions, with 10 Israeli officers injured and an armed 22-year-old Palestinian killed in the conflict. (JTA)
A Waze official defended the app saying that the setting which warns of areas that are "dangerous or prohibited for Israelis to drive through" was turned off and that "the driver deviated from the suggested route and, as a result, entered the prohibited area.” (Washington Post)
Prophecy Alert: Jacob Sheep Return Home
“I will surely gather all of you, Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.” (Micah 2:12)
A Canadian herd of black- and white-spotted heirloom Jacob Sheep linked to Israel’s patriarch Jacob should receive approval to "make aliyah" later this year.
Jenna and Gil Lewinsky, both 31, live 43 miles east of Vancouver, British Columbia, where they have raised 130 Jacob sheep, which they believe should return to the Holy Land since the breed disappeared there long ago.
“It would be a very important and historic moment when the sheep return after basically 2,000 years,” Jenna Lewinsky said.
Gil Lewinsky connected their return to Bible promises. "For 2000 years we [Jewish people] have been yearning to go home, and then when we look at the story of the Jacob Sheep, we found another piece of the puzzle. In Jeremiah 31, it talks not only about the return of man to a renewed State of Israel but the return of animal (shepherds and their flocks). So the return of the "animal" is a very important part of our national story." (Friends of the Jacob Sheep)
"They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord — the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds." (Jeremiah 31:12)
The Lewinskys began their herd with a few Jacob Sheep given to them in 2014 by a heritage farmer. The Lewinskys now possibly own the largest single herd of the 5,000 Jacob sheep in existence today, according to a count by Modern Farmer.
“It’s a Jewish value to conserve animals, repair the world and bring back this lost heritage to the Jewish family,” Gil Lewinsky told The New York Times. “They are the only sheep breed in the world to produce spots and speckles in offspring,” he added. (BIN)
The sheep commonly feature two sets of horns, with two large ones pointed up and angled backward, and a smaller pair curving downward framing the face; however, they can have as many as six horns and as few as two.
The Lewinsky’s herd, which is destined for the Golan Heights in northern Israel, is thought to have descended from sheep whose emigration route led them through Europe and into North America.
The sheep’s Israeli heritage, therefore, draws from the Biblical record of Jacob’s wages, when he worked for his uncle Laban. (NYT)
Through the 20 years that Jacob worked for Laban, his wages changed 10 times. On one occasion of negotiating new terms, Jacob tried to clearly distinguish between Laban’s flocks and the sheep and goats that would be given to him in payment:
“Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages.” (Genesis 30:32)
The splotchy sheep are likely to be the first livestock imported into Israel from Canada, after the Israel Agriculture Ministry amended its position on Canadian livestock imports late last year.
Before the ministry’s position reversal, the Embassy of Israel in Ottawa, Canada, had provided the ministry “strong recommendations” in support of the Lewinskys’ proposal. (Guardian)
“The idea was very, very nice and of course we said, ‘Let’s push it,’” said Weiss. “The ambassador visited Israel. He met some people with the minister of agriculture and issued a letter [of support].”
Israeli Ambassador Rafael Barak issued his letter after being present for the birth of a lamb at the couple’s farm in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Weiss added that the sheep agreement would open the way for more live-animal trade between Israel and Canada.
Before venturing into shepherding, Mrs. Lewinsky worked for the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while her husband worked for The Jerusalem Post in Israel.
“We were not born shepherds,” Mrs. Lewinsky told The New York Times. “We had to learn everything from scratch.”
Besides the sheep's link to the Holy Land, this breed of sheep may hold hope for those who suffer from Tay-Sachs, a rare genetic disorder with increased prevalence in Ashkenazi Jewish people.
Jacob Sheep can also suffer from this and may be useful for clinical trials of gene therapies that in the future could be useful in the treatment of the disease in humans.
PA Foreign Minister Tells World: Keep Jews Out!
Riyad al-Maliki, PA Minister for Foreign Affairs, during the flag raising
ceremony for the State of Palestine on October 13, 2015. (UN Photo by
Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in …’” (Matthew 25:41–43)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last Tuesday that Israelis who live in the disputed territories should be barred entry from all the nations of the world.
“[The nations of the world] must not deal directly or indirectly with the occupation system, in addition to not allowing the entry of illegal settlers into their country,” Maliki said.
He didn't suggest how Jews in Judea and Samaria could leave the territories if they were barred from international travel, perhaps because Judea and Samaria are Israel's ancient heartland.
Although boycotts are being denounced by many nations, Maliki added a call to the nations “to boycott settlements and to boycott the products of settlements” and pressed them to threaten Israel with economic and commercial sanctions “in accordance with the guidelines on business and human rights.”
Maliki has also appealed to the UN Security Council, which has been accepted internationally as a lawmaking body, to establish a consensus regarding the “illegal nature” of Jews living in Judea and Samaria.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon condemned Maliki’s anti-Jewish statements, calling the minister’s appeal to bar Jews living in Judea and Samaria from travel as blatant discrimination.
“These remarks are pure anti-Semitism and must be treated as such; such statements are reminiscent of dark times in history,” Danon said. “Jews will no longer be marked and singled out.”
“I call on the international community to denounce the Palestinian Foreign Minister’s remarks and to unequivocally condemn all manifestations of anti-Semitism,” Danon said.
Also on Tuesday, chairman for Israel’s Yesh Atid (There is a Future) political party, Yair Lapid, said he would speak outside the Palais des Nations on March 21 in Geneva where the UNHRC is headquartered to protest the council’s anti-Israel bias while, indoors, the UNHRC is slated to discuss several anti-Israel resolutions.
“The biased and hypocritical conduct of the council has made it no longer fit for the purpose of protecting human rights,” Lapid said in his announcement. (Israel HaYom)
The gathering that Lapid plans to address will include members of StandWithUs, the Israel Allies Foundation, the European Union of Jewish Students, the World Union of Jewish Students, the World Zionist Organization, and the Swiss-Israel Friendship Association.
According to Lapid, the protestors will draw attention to the UNHRC’s “hypocrisy and disproportionality,” stating that the council “lost its legitimacy long ago.”
“While hundreds of thousands are killed and millions displaced in Syria, while terrorists are beheading people and forcing women into slavery in Iraq, while millions of people can only dream of basic freedoms, the UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel more times than the rest of the world combined,” Lapid elaborated.
On March 7, Yair Lapid addressed the Jewish state’s land of Israel caucus where he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to permit Jews to develop more homes in Ma’ale Adumim, a Jewish settlement 4.3 miles from Jerusalem.
“The reality in which a city that is in the Israeli consensus cannot develop because of a diplomatic building freeze is absurd and unacceptable in a sovereign state,” said the caucus heads Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) in a joint statement. “The time has come to say enough is enough and urge the government to build, especially now.” (JPost)
Egyptian MP Expelled from Post After Meeting with Israeli Ambassador
After Egyptian Member of Parliament (MP) Tawfik Okasha met recently with Israel’s Ambassador to Egypt, Haim Koren, more than 100 other Egyptian MPs called for Okasha’s expulsion, successfully suspending him this past Wednesday with the required two-thirds majority.
“I recognize the State of Israel and all of our agreements are consistent with my world view,” Okasha told Egyptian newspaper Al-Tahrir before the suspension, defending his meeting with the Israeli envoy after considerable opposition.
Okasha, who also serves as a television anchor for the political-commentary channel Faraeen, issued the ambassador a dinner invitation from his post as anchor.
The MP said to the Al-Masry Al-Youm daily that he and Koren had discussed Israel’s “key role in the issue of the dam” that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile. Okasha added that he was looking into meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well.
On February 25, Koren released photos of the previous evening’s private meeting on Facebook. In the following days, Okasha was hit with a shoe by a fellow lawmaker, was closed out of the parliamentary chamber by security officials, and was accused by individual MPs of “unforgivable treason” and “political prostitution.”
As Okasha faced widespread rebuke, Egyptian MP and activist Mahmoud Badr said Okasha “belongs not in the Egyptian parliament, but rather in the Friends of Israel Union or in the Knesset [the Israeli Parliament].”
Egyptian journalist Mustafa Bakri said “welcoming the enemy Israeli ambassador at his house is a scandal, without exception.” (Ynet)
Of the Egyptian parliament’s 596 members, 465 voted to eject Okasha, blocking his involvement in the remainder of the parliamentary session, its first meeting since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi, on July 3, 2013 and the dissolution of the previous Islamist-dominated parliament in June 2012.
Since Morsi’s expulsion, Egypt has been reestablishing itself, electing its new parliament members as recently as last November and December to convene for the first time on January 10. Israel-Egypt relations have also just begun to revive, with Israel returning diplomats to Cairo in September. (The Washington Post)
Israel’s four-year absence from Egypt followed violent riots against the embassy on September 9, 2011, with mobs tearing down an outer wall and hundreds of people storming the embassy. This past September, Israel installed its new embassy in a building in the courtyard of the ambassador’s residence. (Haaretz)
Found: Roman Bathhouse, Winery Under Jerusalem Army Base
“Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress. You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the tent of meeting.’” (Numbers 18:30–31)
This past Wednesday, Israeli archaeologists announced that they found an ancient manor with its own bathhouse and white-mosaic wine press while clearing the grounds of central Jerusalem’s Schneller Compound, an Israeli military base vacated in 2008.
Excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) Alexander Wiegmann theorizes that the house was “a Roman manor that continued to function in the Byzantine era.”
The IAA described the winery of the manor as having eight cells installed around the pressing surface that “were used for storing the grapes, and possibly also for blending the must (literally young wine, it is actually grape juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes) with other ingredients, thereby producing different flavors of wine.”
“In the center of [the press] is a pit in which a press screw was anchored that aided in extracting the maximum amount of must from the grapes,” the IAA added. The IAA has theorized that the residents of the manor house made a living through wine production.
Private bathhouses, such as the one found at Schneller, were a customary part of Roman estates, noted to feature a tepidarium (warm bath), a frigidarium (cold bath) and a caldarium (hot bath).
According to an article posted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Schneller bathhouse featured bricks stamped with the name of the Tenth Roman Legion.
“This legion was one of four Roman legions that participated in the conquest of Jewish Jerusalem, and its units remained garrisoned in the city until c. 300 CE,” the article states.
Soldiers from the legion would retire to Jerusalem after 70 CE, when the Jewish capital was converted to a Roman city and renamed Aelia Capitolina.
Prior to Roman occupation, the Schneller site housed a Jewish settlement whose remains, discovered last year, were dated to the Late Second Temple period.
In its most recent excavation, the IAA discovered remnants of terra cotta pipes at the Schneller bathhouse, which would have funneled hot air from a furnace throughout the bathhouse.
“Once again, Jerusalem demonstrates that wherever one turns over a stone, ancient artifacts will be found related to the city's glorious past,” said Wiegmann.
“The archaeological finds discovered here help paint a living, vibrant and dynamic picture of Jerusalem as it was in ancient times up until the modern era,” he said. (MFA)
The Schneller site’s history features the 1860 establishment of the Schneller Orphanage by German missionaries. The orphanage operated until the Second World War after which England assumed control of the Holy Land and expelled the Germans.
During the British Mandate, the orphanage became a British military base called the Schneller Compound. In 1948, the base transferred into the hands of the Zionist military group Haganah, who used it for the same purpose.
After the Haganah “was dissolved and became the national army of the state”, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Schneller compound officially became an IDF base. (Britannica)
After 2008, the Schneller base closed and lay dormant before being bought by a housing developer five years later. The site is now being repurposed into a residential estate named Merom Yerushalayim for ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Schneller Orphanage (Syrian Orphanage) in Jerusalem, Israel was
subsequently used by the Royal Army and then the Israel Defense Forces,
until it was closed in 2008. (Photo by Shosh Sharet)
Archaeology at the Schneller Complex. (Photo by IAA)
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