Tag Archives: Israel

2700-Year-Old Reservoir Discovered in Israel

During an archaeological dig near Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel, archaeologists discovered a well-preserved 2,700-year-old reservoir from the Assyrian period.

View from inside the reservoir (IAA)

It is believed the reservoir was built by the Assyrians, following the destruction of the First Temple and the Kingdom of Israel. Incredibly, despite being so long ago, human engravings carved into the rock are still visible.

Director of excavations at the Israel Antiquities Authority Gilad Itach said, “On its walls, near the entrance, we identified engravings of human figures, crosses and a vegetal motif that were probably carved by passers-by in a later period. Overall, we identified seven figures measuring 15-30 cm. Most have outstretched arms, and a few appear to be holding some kind of object.”

Engravings on the walls of the water system (IAA)

The IAA has plans, in cooperation with the Ministry of Construction and Housing, to create an open archaeological site that will be accessible to the public.

Yet, this was not the only ancient discovery found in Israel in the last few months. Around Hanukkah, Israeli spelunkers discovered an ancient menorah etched into the limestone walls of an ancient cistern.

Ancient menorah discovery (IAA)

After being studied by the Israel Antiquities Authority, it was determined that the menorah was likely carved sometime during the Second Temple period, about 530 BCE to 70 CE. The engraving is just one of many examples showing the strong Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Israel Sends Firefighters to help Montenegro

Israel sent a firefighting delegation to Montenegro to help the country fight raging wildfires which are ravaging the country.

Over 100 tourists have been forced to evacuate Montenegro’s much desired Adriatic coastline as the fire, fueled by strong winds and dry weather, spread near homes and campsites.

The Montenegrin government pledged for international help to fight the fire, and Israel was on hand help. The Jewish state sent an elite firefighting team, backed up by the Israeli Air Force’s Fire Squadron. Israel also sent two firefighting airplanes to help tackle the blaze.

Israeli Firefighting delegation in Montenegro (Israel Police)

The Israeli operation was given the name “Black Mountain” and was a major help to the Montenegrin authorities. The Israeli team dropped a staggering 78,000 liters of fire retardant while carrying out 36 sorties that lasted more than 42 hours.

Israel’s help to Montenegro is not surprising however. Israel often sends firefighting teams to help other countries deal with huge forest fires, with Israel helping countries such as Cyprus in 2016. Israel also received aid from numerous countries last year to help deal with the huge wildfires which spread across the country.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

How Does Colombia Feel About Israel?

I was born and raised a proud Zionist. My parents, who grew up in Colombia, instilled in me a love for the Jewish state. I always believed in Israel’s right to exist, but it wasn’t until I started school at the University of Florida that I realized how much of an impact advocating for Israel would have on my college experience and my life in general.

I was excited to learn that Colombia and Israel have had 60 years of diplomatic relations, considering many other Latin American countries don’t have reputations as friends of Israel.

Luis Szapiro, the President of the Colombia-Israel Chamber of Commerce told me that the free trade agreement between Israel and Colombia presents big opportunities for both countries. Colombia is now able to export to Israel, and in return gain investment from technology companies. It will especially benefit the agricultural sector.

Picture from Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry

Relations between Colombia and Israel have been consistently good for many years no matter the politics of the leadership of each country. According to Szapiro, Israel is a friend to Colombia and supported the peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). A Colombian delegation was sent to Israel to be trained to clear landmines following the peace pact, which ends sixty years of conflict. Israel has also invested in improving infrastructure. A global Israeli construction company will be building a toll road near Bogota, the capital of Colombia.

Israel has also helped farmers replace cocaine-producing plants with food crops. A year ago, a DEA operation revealed that Hezbollah was tied to a Colombian cartel in a money laundering ring. This was the only negative news I found while researching.

Another area that has improved due to positive relations is education. A delegation of school principals and teachers traveled to Israel in February to learn strategies that will strengthen local schools through a program called Education towards Sustainable Development.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely traveled to Colombia last month to participate in the Summit of the Pacific Alliance and help with counter terrorism. One of the objectives of Hotovely’s visit was to expand the export of Israeli technology, especially water solutions.

The mission of the Pacific Alliance, which is an initiative of regional integration between Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, is to become a platform for economic and commercial integration with emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.

After moving from Colombia to the United States and making such a deep connection with Israel, I am proud that all the countries I consider home have such positive relationships with each other.

By CAMERA Intern Ilana Sperling 

Israel Hosts A Record Breaking 20th Maccabiah Games

Israel is playing host to the 20th Maccabiah Games this month. The Maccabiah Games is an international Jewish multi-sport event often dubbed ‘the Jewish Olympics’. The event brings together thousands of athletes representing many different countries. The event, first started in 1932, takes place every four years, one year after the Olympic Games.

The 2017 Maccabiah Games is special, with a record 85 countries competing and 45 sports on offer. Countries competing for the first time include the Bahamas, the Philippines, South Korea, Malta and Morocco. The number of athletes exceed 10,000, making it the third largest sporting competition in the world behind the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

The Opening Ceremony was hosted at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, and it was far from dull. It was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin, who both gave speeches. There were even surprise addresses via the big screen from both British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin at the Opening Ceremony (Flash 90)

The Opening Ceremony also featured an impromptu proposal by Canadian athlete Avi Steinberg to his girlfriend Rachel. After she accepted, hosts of the opening ceremony pulled out a wedding gown and chuppah, and the couple’s rabbi, Avi Poupko, officiated a wedding ceremony in front of the entire stadium!

The first Maccabiah Games took place around the time of Adolf Hitler coming to power in Germany, and was played against the wish of the British rulers in pre-state Israel. In contrast, the 20th Maccabiah is the third largest sporting event in the world, and it is taking place in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish state. The Maccabiah Games can be seen as a showcase of the remarkable rise in the fate of the Jewish people.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Fifty Years Ago, Jews Returned to the Golan Heights

Fifty years ago today on July 14, 1967, Jews returned to the Golan Heights, building a town in the region.

Between 1948 and 1967 while the Golan Heights was under Syrian control, the Syrians used the region as a military stronghold, randomly sniping at Israeli citizens. Syria allowed the terrorist organization Fatah to operate in the region, carrying out attacks on Israelis and laying mines throughout the area. Syria was not using this region for the good of its people, but instead to terrorize Israel. In 1966, Israel requested that the United Nations denounce the Fatah attacks. In response, the Syrian ambassador said “It is not our duty to stop them, but to encourage and strengthen them.”

Four days after the Six Day War began on June 5, 1967, Israeli forces moved in on the Syrian military in the Golan. On June 10, 1967, one day after their arrival, Israel assumed complete control of the region. Israeli control of the strategic mountain region helped secure the Jewish state from the Syrian threat. Syria tried to recapture the region six years later in the Yom Kippur War but failed. After the war, Syria signed a disengagement agreement that left the Golan Heights in Israel’s control.

On December 14, 1981, the Knesset voted to extend civilian law to the Golan Heights which was previously under military authority since 1967. Syria has abided by the ceasefire agreement with Israel mainly because of the proximity of Israeli artillery to Damascus, but Syria continues to fund and harbor terrorist organizations that carry out attacks on Israel from Lebanon and other areas.

Despite the history, the international community still views this region as an “occupied territory.” For some, this stems from anti-Semitism that disregards the facts and Syria’s use of the region’s high ground to attack Israel.  

Today, there are around 17,000 Druze residents and 14,000 Jewish residents in the Golan heights. Israel invests heavily in upgrading electric and water infrastructure that was left in disrepair by successive Syrian leaders. All residents enjoy freedom of religion, the right to fair trials and to run for office, access to Israeli welfare, healthcare, and social security programs, and every other right available to citizens throughout Israel.

In fact, many of the 17,000 Druze are relieved they now live in Israel rather than Syria, especially because of the Syrian Civil War. Many maintain their Syrian ties, but so far around 30% have become Israeli citizens. The broad support for Israel among Golan Heights residents, especially the Druze majority, further bolsters Israel’s claim to the region.

The journey of the relationship between the Golan Heights and the Jewish people has come full circle. In 1891, Baron Edmonde de Rothschild purchased 20,000 acres of land from the Ottoman Empire. In 1942 the Syrian government illegally confiscated the land. In 1957 the deeds were transferred to the Jewish National Fund by Baron Edmonde’s son, Baron James de Rothschild, and from there they were transferred to the Land office of Israel. Today they are stored in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Archaeology shows clearly that Jewish ownership of land in the region dates back well before the 1890s, all the way to biblical times. It was promised to Abraham and later became part of the tribe of Menashe by Moses’s division of the Land. Many events and battles took place in and around the Golan and there are many famous sites such as the fortress of Gamla and the Jewish town of Qasrin. Ruins of around twenty-five synagogues have been discovered dating from after the destruction of the Temple; mosaic inscriptions depict peaceful and uninterrupted Jewish life in the Golan until the Middle Ages.

Today we celebrate the modern return of Jewish life to the region, but we also must remember that the Jewish history of the Golan Heights dates back millennia.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Jake Greenblatt

11 Years Since the Start of the Second Lebanon War

This week marks 11 years since the start of the Second Lebanon War. The war took a large toll on northern Israel and its population, and still lives strong in the memories of many Israelis.

The war was sparked when Hezbollah terrorists fired rockets at an Israeli town near the Lebanese Border. At the same time, Hezbollah attacked an IDF Humvee, killing three soldiers and abducting two. The IDF then launched an operation to recover the abducted soldiers which included airstrikes on key Hezbollah infrastructure and the invasion of southern Lebanon.

The war lasted almost two months, with Hezbollah around 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, at a rate of over 100 per day. Over a million Israelis had to stay near or in bomb shelters throughout the duration of the war, with some 250,000 civilians evacuating northern Israel and relocating to other areas of the country.

In the 11 years since the war, Hezbollah has been significantly increasing its weapons stockpile, with the terror group now possessing 17 times the number of missiles it had at the end of the war.  The specific number of Hezbollah missiles stands at around 120,000, with many being placed in and around villages in southern Lebanon, within the vicinity of schools, mosques and hospitals.

Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, has continued to threaten Israel regarding war, and there have been some worries that a ‘Third Lebanon War’ is on the horizon with the end of the Syrian Civil War seemingly in sight. Hezbollah has recently even erected billboards with the words “we are coming” facing the Israeli border.

Hezbollah Billboards on Israeli Border (Courtesy)

Despite this, Israeli intelligence officials have recently noticed some positive developments in regard to the Hezbollah threat. Iran is trying to establish a weapons factory in Lebanon, which in reality points to a failure for the Iranian regime and their proxy Hezbollah. This is because it indicates that all other ways by which Iran could transfer advanced weapons to the Shiite terrorist group through Syria have been blocked.

Additionally, the IDF believes its deterrence efforts regarding Hezbollah are going well. Israel has incredibly strong intelligence on the terror group, with one IDF official stating “If Nasrallah knew what we knew about him, he would give up any future intentions to start a war.” Israel’s striking power, which dealt large blows to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, combined with a now superior intelligence, would give Israel a significant advantage if war were to break out.

Another deterrence from war, this time not from Israel, is the Syrian Civil War. Though some may argue the ending of the Syrian Civil War would make war between Hezbollah and Israel more likely, Hezbollah has lost over 1,800 operatives since it entered the fighting in Syria, hardly acting as an incentive to start a fresh campaign against Israel.

Therefore, though threats from Hezbollah are very real, so real that they are considered to be Israel’s biggest strategic threat, the circumstances around the Syrian Civil War, and the strong deterrence strategy from the IDF, means war, for now, seems unlikely. The sudden flare-up however of the Second Lebanon War shows the fragility of the situation on Israel’s northern border.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

BDS Supporters Protesting Netanyahu Visit to Holocaust Memorial Event Shows Everything That is Wrong With Them

On Sunday, a ceremony will take place in Paris to mark the 75th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv, the mass roundup of 13,000 Parisian Jewry during the Holocaust who were arrested and sent to their deaths. Naturally, new French President Emmanuel Macron invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the event. Yet pro-Palestinian groups in France are planning on protesting his attendance.

Let me repeat, pro-Palestinian groups in France are planning on protesting the attendance of the Prime Minister of the Jewish state at a Holocaust memorial event in France. The justification? This is the statement from the president of the French Palestinian Solidarity Association. “In what way does this event concern Israel? The state didn’t exist at the time [of the Holocaust].” Those two sentences show everything that is wrong with the BDS campaign and its supporters.

Vel’ d’Hiv memorial in France (Wikipedia)

First, it is a continued denial by BDS supporters of the link between the Jewish people and the state of Israel. “In what way does this event concern Israel?” How ignorant can you get? In Israel over 100,000 Holocaust survivors reside, the largest of any number in any nation, and a significant percentage of the Israeli population are descendants of survivors. To say an event marking the Holocaust has nothing to do with Israel is to say an event marking the Armenian Genocide has nothing to do with Armenia.

Secondly, to say Israel not existing at the time of the Holocaust somehow means Israel is not relevant to Holocaust memorial is equally absurd. One of the reasons the Holocaust was able to occur and so many Jews were murdered, was that there was no safe haven for Jews at the time. If Israel were to be around during the Holocaust, a significant amount of Jews who perished may have been saved. This once again shows the blindness of the BDS campaign. Its supporters do not see the need of the Jewish state to exist, despite the horrors of the Holocaust. It is clear BDS supporters have still not learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

French Jews being rounded up during the Holocaust (Pinterest)

The BDS campaign claims to be a movement that is fighting for justice, yet protesting the presence of the leader of the Jewish state at a Holocaust memorial event is far from justified. The statement reveals the true colors of the BDS campaign, not to further the rights of Palestinians, but to delegitimize the State of Israel and take away and deny the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

In Honor of Ramadan, some Statistics on Muslims in Israel

This month is the holiest month of the Muslim Calendar, Ramadan. In honor of this month, here are some statistics on the Muslim population of Israel. These statistics largely come from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

1. In the year 2015, there were 1.48 million Muslims living in Israel, 18% of the population of Israel. The fertility rate of Muslims in Israel (3.3) is higher than that of Saudi Arabia (3), Turkey (2.1) or Lebanon (1.5).

2. In the academic year 2014/15, 5,300 Muslim students received university degrees from Israeli universities.

3. In Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, there are 120 Members of Parliament. Currently, 15 of them are Muslim.

4. There are certain industries where Muslims are disproportionately represented, such as the medical field. Statistics are available for Israeli Arabs in general rather than Muslims specifically (so include Christians, Bahai etc.), but 38% of those working in pharmaceuticals in Israel are Arab. Incredibly, in the Superpharm chain, one of the major chain of chemists in Israel, 62% of pharmacists are Arab.

5. Muslims in Israel have freedom of worship and practice. Last Friday, 250,000 Muslims visited the Al Aqsa Mosque for Ramadan prayers. 150,000 of them were from Gaza or the West Bank.

We sincerely apologize to anyone who finds that these statistics don’t fit their narrative of Israel.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern



French President Wants His Country To Be More Like Israel

France’s new President Emmanuel Macron tweeted last week that he wanted France to be a ‘start-up nation’.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s tweet

Israel is known as the start-up nation, holding the record for the highest concentration of start-ups in the world and more companies listed on NASDAQ than the entire European continent combined!

Israel has 6,000 start-ups, a remarkable number, especially for its size. This level of innovation has vastly boosted the Israeli economy sparking $4.8 billion of venture capital investment in the country.

The reason many feel Israelis are so successful when it comes to start-ups is the military experience Israelis have, the fact that one in three are foreign-born, and the resilient nature of Israeli culture. 

France meanwhile has 9,000 start-ups, 3,000 more than Israel, though France’s population is 66 million compared to Israel’s more modest 8 million.

With all the economic and cultural benefits start-ups have given Israel, it is no wonder Emmanuel Macron wants to emulate Israel’s successes and turn France into a second ‘start-up nation!’

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Confessions of a College Zionist

CAMERA Fellow Jody Miller

A few weeks ago while tabling for an event with my pro-Israel group Mustangs United for Israel on campus, we were approached by a student who stopped and asked, “So, if you are pro-Israel then that means you’re anti-Palestinian?” It was an easy question to answer. In fact, it only took one word: No.

This question and others like it have become routine for me. Throughout my time in college, I have been told that because I believe in the Jewish state’s right to exist, I can’t believe in equal rights, Palestinian human rights or my rights as a woman.

Actually, I can — and I do.

It is because of my belief in honoring people’s rights regardless of religion, race,or sex that I feel compelled to support Israel. As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel offers the same legal rights and protections to citizens, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, is hardly a homogeneous Jewish group; Muslim, Christians, and Druze all serve as elected officials and in other government roles.

The Middle East, with the exception of Israel, is notorious for its mistreatment and discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community. In Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is punishable by death. In these and many other Middle East countries, it is dangerous to just express support for LGBTQ+ rights and movements.

Tel Aviv Gay Pride (Reuters)

With the West Bank under the control of the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip under the rule of Hamas, the Palestinian leadership offers no exception to the Middle East’s hostility towards LGBTQ+ rights. According to the U.S. State Department, “the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza [are] challenging environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons,” due to societal discrimination stemming from cultural and religious traditions. Palestinian gay men are subject to threats, intimidation, and potential violence. Meanwhile, as former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren pointed out in a 2012 speech,  “The same year that the U.S. instituted Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Israel Defense Forces specifically banned all discrimination against sexual minorities.”

Ironically, many of the students who specifically question my own respect for the rights and protection of Palestinians know very little about how the government in the Territories actually treat the people who live there. Israel is painted as the “oppressor,” but consider this 2016/2017 assessment from Amnesty International:

The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip both continued to restrict freedom of expression, including by arresting and detaining critics and political opponents. They also restricted the right to peaceful assembly and used excessive force to disperse some protests. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained rife in both Gaza and the West Bank.

In February, Palestinian author Abbad Yahya was arrested for his novel Crime in Ramallah for “threatening morality” and his novel was banned. Yahya reportedly fled his home amidst death threats. According to NPR, a book club in the West Bank city of Nablus had to cancel public discussion of the book after its members received death threats. Where are the rights for these Palestinians?

Imagine if you were not allowed to express your thoughts on current politics without fear of retribution. The International Human Rights Council recorded 41 instances of individuals being arrested, harassed or intimidated by the PA for issues relating to freedom of expression in 2015. At least a handful of those instances were due to opinions expressed on social media.

Sexual assault and harassment, domestic violence and honor killings still remain a problem in Palestinian society. In 2014, the Washington Post, along with multiple other outlets, reported that “honor killings” of women had doubled in the Palestinian territories from 2012 to 2013. According to the United Nations, “29.9 percent of ever-married women in the West Bank and 51% in the Gaza Strip have been subjected to a form of violence within the household.” Where are the rights for these Palestinian women?

I can confidently say to my fellow students that I not only care about the rights of Palestinians, but I have actually taken the time to learn about life under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and understanding the complex roots of the hardships they face. I will not pretend that Israel is a perfect country that plays no role, but I also recognize that the true underlying root of their oppression is their own government — and that scapegoating Israel as the monolithic source of pain is inaccurate and cruel.

Moreover, I will not stand here and feel intimidated by other students who question my support for Palestinians and human rights. Instead, I will educate the students at my university because a true advocate of any cause will not rely on inaccuracies and misconceptions that are bandied about without facts or knowledge, but rather read, listen, study, and teach.

Contributed by Jody Miller, CAMERA Fellow at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo and member of CAMERA-supported group Mustangs United for Israel.

This article was republished at The Algemeiner