International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Gaza aid ship to dock in Egypt after Israel pressure

The latest on the Libyan ship bound for Gaza:

A ship with supplies for Gaza will dock at el-Arish in Egypt, officials say, after Israeli pressure to stop the vessel breaking its Gaza blockade.

The Moldovan-flagged ship chartered by a charity run by the son of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, left a Greek port on Saturday.

Israel asked for help from the UN, and had talks with Greece and Moldova. But organisers insist they will go to Gaza.

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Monday, July 12th, 2010 at 10:43 AM  | David Kuner

What happened at the PCUSA General Assembly?

Dexter Van Zile from CAMERA notes:

The upshot of the proceedings is that while the anti-Israel activists within the denomination still have some ability to influence the church’s “prophetic witness” about the conflict, an important part of the church’s establishment — pastors of “Big Steeple” churches within the denomination — has woken up to the threat that anti-Zionism poses to the credibility of the PC(USA). This group weighed in with a pastoral letter signed by a number of pastors including Rev. John Buchanan and issued in the weeks before the General Assembly.

These pastors woke up to the threat after reading the report issued by the Middle East Study Committee (MESC). In particular, the report’s historical analysis (“A Plea for Justice”) was so one-sided and so rife with material omissions that a call by Presbyterians for Middle East Peace to reject the report in its entirety seemed to be getting some traction within the General Assembly, prompting the committee charged with dealing with the report to delete the historical analysis from the report and replace it with eight yet-to-be written personal narratives — four pro-Palestinian and four pro-Israel. The committee also inserted an affirmation of Israel’s right to exist into the report.

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Monday, July 12th, 2010 at 6:09 AM  | David Kuner

27 people onboard Libyan ship to Gaza

After weeks of rumors and failed attempts at flotillas to Gaza, the latest ship prepares to leave Libya tomorrow. “If we cannot deliver the aid, we will let (Israel) deliver it,” says the head volunteer.

It comes over a month after Israel raided Gaza-bound ships, killing eight Turks and a Turkish-American on one of them. The flotilla was trying to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

The Moldova-flagged cargo ship Amalthea will leave by Saturday from the port of Lavrio, south of Athens, carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies, officials from the organization told The Associated Press. There will be 27 people on board.

Amalthea’s journey to Gaza is expected to take up to 80 hours. Aid on the Amalthea includes sacks of rice and sugar, and corn oil and olive paste – all mostly donated from Greek companies and charities, organizers said. The aid was loaded into the hull of the aging vessel by crane.

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Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 3:55 PM  | David Kuner

PM: Peace plan possible by end of ‘11

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the ten-month moratorium on building in the West Bank will not be extended this September. The prime minister stated that Israel has already extended a goodwill gesture and is ready for direct negotiations.

The question remains as to what the direct negotiations will accomplish. Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, and right of return are some of the difficult issues that must be sorted out during these discussions. It is very possible that direct negotiations will begin soon, however the substance and effectiveness of those talks is yet to be seen.

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Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 10:14 AM  | afarkas

Former Spanish PM launches Israel Initiative

José María Aznar, the former prime minister of Spain who wrote an inspired pro-Israel op-ed in the London Times last month, has launched a new pro-Israel effort. Along with nine other politicians and leaders from around the globe, Aznar founded the Friends of Israel Initiative. People who sign their seven-point petition affirm Israel’s right to exist and defend herself, and commit to the following actions:

a) To combat the deligitimization of the State of Israel at home, abroad and inside the institutions of the international community.

b) To publicly show our solidarity with Israel’s democratic institutions – the legitimate expression of the Jewish people’s millennial aspiration to live in peace and freedom in its national homeland.

c) To support Israel’s inalienable right to secure borders unmolested by terrorists or tyrannical regimes so that its citizens can continue living with the same guarantees that our own societies enjoy.

d) To consistently and firmly oppose the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran.

e) To work to ensure that Israel is fully accepted as a normal Western country, an essential and indivisible part of the Western world to which we belong.

f) To reaffirm the value of the religious, moral, and cultural Judeo-Christian heritage as the main source of the liberal and democratic Western societies.

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Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 9:24 AM  | David Kuner

Hollywood stars snub Jerusalem film festival

First Elvis Costello and the Pixies cancelled concerts in Israel to voice their protest. Now actors Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman are making their statement as well. The question remains: Why do these entertainers really think we should care about their stance on Israel?

Hollywood actors such as Meg Ryan backed out of attending this year’s annual Jerusalem Film Festival, which is set to kick off this coming Thursday, following the international outcry over Israel’s attack on a Turkish-led flotilla that attempted to break the Gaza blockade on May 31, The Jerusalem Post learned Monday.

According to Cinematheque associate director Yigal Molad Hayo, while neither gave the political climate as a direct reason for canceling their participation in the festival, “it became quite clear that this was the reason,” he said.

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Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 8:15 AM  | David Kuner

Netanyahu: No extension of settlement moratorium

Voice of America reports:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated he would not extend a moratorium on new housing starts in the West Bank, although Palestinians say a freeze on Jewish settlement construction is a condition for launching peace talks.

Mr. Netanyahu said Israel enacted the settlement freeze in order to “encourage” Palestinians to enter into direct talks but, so far, the effort has not worked.  He added that he thought Israel had done enough.

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Thursday, July 8th, 2010 at 2:40 PM  | David Kuner

IDF declassifies evidence of Hezbollah presence in Lebanon

Israeli Army Northern Command released videos and photos which map out Hezbollah’s military buildup in Southern Lebanon. The new information, which was unveiled to the U.N., shows that Hezbollah fighters and weapons caches are intentionally located inside civilian territory.

There are about 20,000 Hezbollah fighters spread out in Lebanese villages. Headquarters and weapon stashes are typically within 160 feet of schools and hospitals. Israel is revealing this information to the world so that there will be no surprises if and when Israel goes to war again with Hezbollah. Like Hamas, Hezbollah prefers to fight Israel by first drawing them into civilian territory. This constrains Israel’s ability to fight, and maximizes civilian deaths.

Israel believes that a future flare up with Hezbollah could happen in one of two ways. One scenario is if Hezbollah kidnaps an Israeli soldier, as they did to start the last Israel-Lebanon war. Another scenario would be a cross-border raid on a Jewish community located near the Israel-Lebanon border.

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Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 3:50 PM  | afarkas

Times tries to drop settlements-funding bomb on Obama-Bibi meeting

The New York Times appears to be trying to stir controversy for Israel — though it did no such thing when Obama met with P.A. president or the Saudi king:

With a White House meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled for Tuesday morning — by all accounts to project an image of accord and friendliness after months of a rough going between Israel and the United States — The New York Times does its best to complicate things with a lede story highlighting the use of U.S. tax exempt funds in Jewish communities in the West Bank.

The problem with this story is not errors of fact. Indeed, it’s widely known and no secret that Americans can claim tax deductions for charitable donations to 501(c)3 organizations that contribute money to Jewish causes in the West Bank, from after-school programs for kids in Jerusalem’s eastern suburbs to bullet-proof vests for security patrols in far-flung Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley. Groups from the Jewish Federations of North America to American Friends of Ateret Cohanim participate in such funding, and they say so clearly on their websites, in letters to donors and in public materials. This is a legitimate feature story.

But why run it as a double-column lede with a two-page inside spread (complete with maps and, online, interactive features) on the day Obama and Bibi meet? The Times has positioned this story as if it’s some big investigative scoop that requires response — presumably by U.S. authorities — when in reality it’s an old and quite well-known story. The point, it seems to me, is to create the misimpression among readers that this is big news, and to stir up trouble for the Obama-Bibi confab.

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Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 2:49 PM  | David Kuner

“Kill a Jew” page on Facebook sparks furor

Critics say the social networking site isn’t doing enough to stop hate-filled incitement:

A murderous anti-Semitic theme appeared on Facebook Sunday, when a user named “Alex Cookson” launched an open invitation to an “event” called “Kill a Jew Day.”

The page on the popular social networking Web site urged users to violence “anywhere you see a Jew” between July 4 and July 22. A large image of a swastika was placed at the top of the page. Under the heading “description,” Cookson wrote, “You know the drill guys.”

It was the fourth time that a call to murder Jews had been put on Facebook within recent days.

The site attracted a torrent of anti-Semitic responses.

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Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 12:50 PM  | David Kuner