Tag Archives: terrorism

71 Years Ago this Week, the King David Hotel was Bombed

71 years ago this week in Jerusalem, a dark moment in the history of Judaism and Zionism took place. The Irgun, a Jewish paramilitary group, bombed the King David Hotel, killing 91 people.

The Irgun targeted the central offices of the British authorities in Mandatory Palestine which were located at the hotel. The Irgun justified the attack as a response to a British raid on the Jewish Agency a few weeks earlier.

Damage to the hotel after the bombing (Wikipedia)

With the aim of avoiding any casualties, the Irgun sent warnings to the hotel in advance of the bombing, but due to the number of bomb hoax calls the hotel received on a daily basis, the hotel was not evacuated.

The explosion occurred on the 22nd of July 1946 at 12:37, killing 91 people and injuring over 100 more. The bombing killed a range of people including Jews, Arabs and British citizens.

Following the attack, Jewish political leadership condemned it in the strongest terms. The Jewish Agency expressed their “feelings of horror at the base and unparalleled act perpetrated today by a gang of criminals”. David Ben Gurion, the future first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, called the Irgun “the enemy of the Jewish people”. Following the attack, the Irgun was designated a terror organization by the Zionist Congress and the Jewish Agency.

The moment of the bombing (British Forces in Palestine)

The event was a significant moment in the history of Zionism, as it led to the Irgun splitting from the united front of Zionist groups, and led to an increase in British restrictions on Jews in Palestine. The bombing also affected public opinion in Britain, with many wanting to see an end to British control over land that would become the State of Israel.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern. 

Arab World Ignores Terror Attack, Chooses to Victim Blame Israel

On Friday, two Israeli Border Police were murdered in a terror attack by an entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. After committing their attack, the terrorists then fled to the Temple Mount, and were eventually shot and killed after being chased by Police.

The attack received widespread condemnation from the West and within Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the attack.

But within a large segment of the Arab world, instead of focusing on the attack, politicians focused on Israel’s temporary closure of the Temple Mount for security reasons.

Jordan’s Minister of Waqf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat warned of “continued unprecedented harm to the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” as a result of the closure. The Arab League issued a statement condemning Israel for its closure of the Temple Mount, but did not mention the attack which caused it. And the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, also criticized the closure, calling it “a serious crime and a dangerous precedent.”

Yet it wasn’t just politicians who ignored the attack, deciding to focus on the closure instead. The Arab media excessively focused on the closure, spouting aggressive and hateful language against Israel. A significant number of Arab media outlets even used cartoons to express their hateful message.

Saudi newspaper Al Watan printed a caricature of a Star of David with Satan’s horns, which is eating the Dome of the Rock (Ynet)

Newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi based in London, criticized what they deemed as a weak response by the Muslim world, which is portrayed as an ostrich burying its head in the sand while the Al-Aqsa Mosque bleeds. (Ynet)

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, based in Qatar, showed the mosques on the Temple Mount closed off with yellow crime scene tape marked with the Star of David and a sign that says “No entry.” (Ynet)

The Arab world have stated that Israel’s temporary closure of the Temple Mount would spark violence and terrorism. Yet it isn’t Israel which is causing tensions to rise, it is the Arab politicians and media themselves. The fiery statements and cartoons featured above, only increase the divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, and undoubtedly have an effect in radicalizing Palestinians to commit terror attacks. Imagine how a young Palestinian would feel seeing those cartoons. It would of course spark emotions of anger and hate.

If the Arab world, like the West, acknowledged some of the necessary actions Israel must take in the fight against terrorism, and unwaveringly condemned terror attacks against Israelis, then violence would eventually subside. Maybe if the Arab media stopped with their lies about Israel planning on changing the status-quo at the Temple Mount, tempers would die down.

But the more the Arab world ignores terror, and continues its fiery rhetoric and lies about Israeli actions on the Temple Mount, the more violence will occur.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

Britain Seeks Israel’s Help in Fighting Terrorism

After a significant rise in terror attacks in Britain this year, British security agencies are looking for different ways to prevent terrorism. One country that has unfortunately had to face the brunt of terrorism for decades is Israel. A British team is set to travel to Israel to learn from the Jewish state’s counter terrorism methods.

London has faced an increase in terror attacks recently (Daily Express)

The British team is due to view Israel’s counter-terrorism methods, and see what they can adapt to implement in the UK. The UK has already started introducing physical barriers between roads and pedestrian areas, like those seen in Israel, to prevent car ramming attacks. The UK team will also be seeking advice on how to increase response times when it comes to dealing with an on-going terror attack.

Another area where Britain may be seeking Israeli help is the use of technology in fighting terrorism, an area where Israel is very advanced. Elbit, Israel’s leading defense electronics contractor, has a system called ‘Wise Intelligence Technology’, which uses social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to notify security services if a terror attack is underway.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the use of technology in preventing terrorism when he tweeted a video of new technology from the Mossad. The technology comprised of contact lenses, which had automatic facial recognition. The video also announced state funding for start-ups seeking to develop new technologies which would be useful for intelligence operations.

In a world in which terrorism seems to be at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment, it is no wonder countries around the world are looking to Israel for help.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

It Is Time to Take Terror and Anti-Semitism Off Our Streets

After three major terror attacks in the UK in within four months, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that “Enough is enough” when it comes to terrorism, and pledged to not “allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed.” Yet less than a month after May’s fiery speech, despite pleas from Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a UK charity dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, a 3,000-people strong petition to the Mayor of London, and concerns raised by CST, a charity which protects UK Jews from anti-Semitism, the government allowed the Al-Quds Day March to go ahead.

Al-Quds Day is an Iranian inspired day of protest against Israel. Events are held in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and Syria but also in the west in places such as New York, Berlin and London. Every year, the events face accusations of tolerating anti-Semitic chanting, placards and support for terrorism, and this year was no different.

Placards showing support for terrorism at London Al-Quds Day march (CAA)

Hezbollah flags draped the backs of the marchers, as organizers handed them out, and placards with the words ‘We are Hezbollah’ were risen high in the air. Various anti-Semitic tropes and statements were shouted over the loud-speaker, including blaming Zionists for the fire in Grenfell Tower and ISIS. The event exemplified how anti-Zionism regularly morphs into anti-Semitism, with one event organizer shouting over the loud-speaker, “We are fed up of the Zionists, we are fed up of your rabbis, we are fed up of your synagogues.” This is racial hatred.

Hezbollah flag waved high in the air at London Al-Quds Day March (CAA)

In 2017, we should not allow incitement to racial hatred, illegal under British law, to go unpunished. Hundreds of police did nothing as Al-Quds Day marchers deliberately provoked hatred of a racial group, distributed racist material to the public, made inflammatory public speeches and incited inflammatory rumors about an ethnic group. All the above are illegal under British law and are offenses which justify arrest. Why, when racial hatred occurs against Jews, do police do so little?

Man fixes Hezbollah flag on boy (CAA)

Yet it wasn’t just racial hatred laws which were broken by parade goers. By publicly displaying the flag of Hezbollah, a recognized terrorist organization in the UK, Section 13 of the UK’s Terrorism Act was breached, as the law states ‘A person in a public place commits an offence if he wears an item of clothing, or wears, carries or displays an article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation’. Why, when a terrorist organization seeks the genocide of the Jewish people, do the authorities do so little to act and enforce the law? The justification seemingly used by the police for not making arrests, is that Hezbollah’s ‘political wing’, is not proscribed as a terror organization by the UK, creating somewhat of a loophole.

Man wearing anti-Semitic clothing equating Zionism and Nazism, violating UK definition of anti-Semitism (CAA)

Theresa May and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan have both spoken passionately about their anger on the state of terrorism in the UK.  Yet actions speak louder than words, and their failure to intervene and get the Al-Quds Day march in London banned is a punch in the face to the fight against terrorism, extremism and anti-Semitism.

As David Cameron, then UK Prime Minister said, “If you say ‘Violence in London isn’t justified, but suicide bombs in Israel are a different matter,’ you too are part of the problem.” He was right, and if Theresa May was genuine in her words that “Enough is enough” when it comes to terrorism, then the Al-Quds Day March in 2018 must not be allowed to go ahead.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

“I treated the injured soldier, while in the background they were still searching for more terrorists!”

Paramedic Muhammed Abd Elrhaman arrived at the scene of the terror attack by Damascus Gate and immediately ran to treat the injured soldier, Sergeant Hadas Malka, while reports in the background spoke of more attackers. Muhammed furiously fought to save her life and even stayed by her hospital bed during her final moment. Today he shared his feelings with us. 

The Friday peace was shattered by the voice of the Dispatch Officer in Magen David Adom’s (MDA) 101 Dispatch Center relaying a call about a stabbing by Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Seconds earlier, three terrorists attacked a Border Police force that was on patrol in the area. One of the terrorists, only 18 years old, stabbed Hadas Malka and critically injured her, however the soldier didn’t give up and fought back for some time. Other members of her unit saw what was happening, shot and neutralized the terrorist, and then immediately called MDA.

Hadas Malka (23), Israeli Border Policewoman murdered in Damascus Gate terror attack (Courtesy)

Muhammed Abd Elrhaman, an experienced Paramedic from MDA’s Jerusalem station who has already witnessed many terror attacks during his years of service, immediately understood that this was a serious incident. Abd Elrhaman explained “I was on a MICU (Mobile Intensive Care Unit) shift in Pisgat Zeev and when we reached Begin Junction, only a minute away from the attack, we received a report over the radio from MDA Jerusalem that the Israel Police were requesting an ambulance after they saw on security cameras that someone had stabbed a soldier and that they are now lying on the floor. At first we didn’t realize that it was a female soldier. Noa Tiram, the Dispatch Officer, immediately sent an ambulance to assess the scene. No more than 20 seconds later it became evident that this was a terror attack, potentially still ongoing, and I called up and volunteered for the call as we were very nearby.

We headed straight to the scene and heard over the radio that it was a developing incident but we were still uncertain as to its nature. At first the suspicion was of a criminal act rather than a terror one. However, seconds later, there was a report that it was terrorism that we had to take special precautions and don protective gear, to team up with the Police, and instruct the youth volunteers to remain on the ambulances. I realized that we would be first on scene and reported so to the Dispatch Center, knowing that there were another five ambulances behind me.”

Hadas was bleeding and unconscious

Treating Hadas reminded Muhammed of previous terror attacks at Damascus Gate, when other critically injured were brought to him. Muhammed said “When I arrived at the scene a regular ambulance reported that he was already transferring a seriously injured patient towards Hadassa Har Hatzofim Hospital. I decided that we would meet him at Damascus Gate by the scene of the attack so that we could treat the patient with drugs and advanced life saving capabilities. When we opened the ambulance door we saw the 23-year-old victim, a female Border Police soldier in combat gear and stab vest. She was unconscious. 

During the primary assessment I noticed stab wounds to her upper body and massive bleeding. I realized that I was fighting the clock and began some intensive treatment.”

MDA arrive on the scene of the terror attack at Damascus Gate (Times of Israel)

During your treatment at the scene, there were reports of other terrorists. Were you scared?

“When I’m dealing with such a critically injured patient, I concentrate only on her – not on the radio. I didn’t hear the warning about further terrorists, and it wouldn’t have made any difference to me because I had to treat her. At the time I was just with her. I undertook a surgical procedure in the field to release air from her chest cavity and treated her other wounds to try to prevent further blood loss.

I told my crew to begin resuscitation attempts, physically performing chest compressions. One volunteer leaned on the wound in her neck to try to stem the bleeding, a second volunteer performed the compressions and I intubated her and started an IV line in her neck to try to stabilize her situation.

Within only 7 minutes we provided most of the treatment at the scene using advanced surgical techniques, ventilated her, gave her drugs and transported her to hospital.”

Muhammed Abd Elrhaman (MDA)

We hoped so much that she would pull through

The crew arrived at hospital with Hadas and immediately went into the trauma room. Muhammed’s crew joined the doctors who fought for her life and he treated her up until her last moments. Abd Elrhaman said “There were a few optimistic moments when we arrived at the hospital and took her to the trauma room, but the optimism was short-lived as her situation worsened and she was classified in a critical condition.

We carried on doing chest compressions, she was given more blood and more drugs, but eventually, about an hour after she reached hospital, she was pronounced dead. We fought for her life – all of us. MDA crews and hospital teams. The moment her death was pronounced was a very difficult one for us all.”

Muhammed’s crew was kept at hospital until after Hadas’s family was informed that she had died. Muhammed said “We sat there and waited. Only after it was all over and we’d been allowed to leave the hospital did I hear on the news that there were actually two scenes and three terrorists who went on a shooting and stabbing spree. That’s when we really understood the magnitude of the situation.”

Today, three days after the event, Muhammed explained “We enter active scenes and treat victims while in danger on so many occasions. We act during those times through a feeling that we have a mission to complete, and with only one thought on our minds – to save the victims. We don’t think about what might happen later or what might happen to us. Each time that we see the scene of a terror attack we run in, when logic dictates to run away to survive. But this is who we are, this is what we know, and this is what we must do.”

Contributed by Magen David Adom

Punitive Housing Demolitions: Why They Are Justified

Israel has suffered from various threats from the first few hours of its existence, and those threats still continue today. At first the Jewish State was under threat from invading Arab armies seeking to militarily destroy it, and now it is faced with Palestinian terrorism from within. In response to the recent wave of terror, under much international criticism, Israel has re-introduced its policy of punitively demolishing the homes of terrorists and their families.

The punitive housing demolition policy permits the IDF to demolish houses that were home to Palestinians suspected or convicted of involvement in terrorism against Israelis. These acts include suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings, as well as thwarted attacks against soldiers or civilians. The demolished houses belong not only to the terrorists, but also to suspects accused of involvement in an attack, such as planning, dispatching the terrorists, or assisting the responsible terror cell. The policy has received strong criticism in both the international press and on college campuses, with some claiming it violates international law.

IDF demolish house of Palestinian who stabbed and killed two Jews in Jerusalem’s Old City (Silman Khader/ Flash 90)

Israel has suffered from a wave of terror since September 2015, with 49 people being killed and 731 being injured in deliberate acts of violence aimed at killing Jews. These attacks have been in the form of 177 stabbing attacks, 117 attempted stabbings, 144 shootings, 58 vehicular (ramming) attacks; and one vehicular (bus) bombing. Israel, like every other state under threat, must protect its citizens, and the punitive house demolition policy has shown to be an effective way of doing so. An independent study of Israeli punitive home demolitions found that the demolitions led to a significant decrease in terror attacks of between 11.7% and 14.9%. Moreover, since the re-introduction of house demolitions, terror in Israel has significantly decreased, with the first half of 2017 marking the lowest number of terror attacks since early 2015. Therefore, to criticize the Israeli government for protecting its citizens and clearly saving lives is ludicrous and morally wrong.

Israeli Zaka volunteers carry a body following a shooting attack on a bus in Jerusalem in 2015. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Contrary to claims made by Israel’s critics, the policy is legal under international law, with the Geneva Convention requiring an occupying army to keep in place the laws of the previous recognized governor, in this case the British Mandate.

Punitive home demolitions act as a strong counter to the benefits given out by the Palestinian Authority to convicted terrorists and their families. The Palestinian Authority incites violence against Israelis by paying convicted terrorists and their family a monthly salary, with the more Israelis killed, the higher the salary. The financial hardship burdened by the families of terrorists is arguably outweighs to the financial benefits of conducting an attack, thus at least partially removing the incentive to carry out terror attacks from the Palestinian Authority.

Further justification for the demolition policy can be found in that it focuses on the terrorist’s family’s complicity. Many relatives of future terrorists often encourage, help supply, or fail to report planned acts of terrorism to the relevant authorities. The re-implementation of house demolitions acts as a strong deterrent, not necessarily to the terrorist themselves, but to their family, who will know if they do not report their relatives to the authorities, will face losing their homes.

All governments, including the Israeli government, have a responsibility to protect their citizens from all threats, such as terrorism. And despite all the criticism surrounding Israel’s re-implementation of punitive housing demolitions, studies show that it clearly works as a strong deterrent to terrorists and their families, saving many innocent lives. To demand of Israel to stop its demolition of terrorist’s houses, is to demand the Israeli government fail to do all it can to stop the murdering of its citizens, and no government would, or should accept that.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Sequencing the Peace Process

This past winter break, I was able to see with my own eyes the various components of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I was able to get a firsthand account of many of the things that both sides must strive for in order to achieve peace. As I drove through the West Bank, encountering settlements deep in the territory and speaking with Palestinians in the heart of Ramallah, I fully realized the necessity of a two-state solution to attain the resolution to this century-old animosity. Two states for two peoples – maintaining the Zionist dream of a Jewish and democratic state while the Palestinians simultaneously declare their sovereignty – is really the only conclusion where the conflict will fully come to its end. But with this wholesome vision for peace, I was able to see more clearly and with more conviction what the first step toward this achievement must be – an understanding solidified just two Fridays ago in Jerusalem.

Everyone involved in the conversation about how to get to this final status obviously has very good intentions. We are all human beings, and the innate human instinct is that when we see suffering we want to do anything we can to stop it. That’s why on both sides of the political spectrum in Israel and within the pro-Israel community, our end goal is a peaceful resolution of two states for two peoples where both have the same exact Natural Rights that John Locke laid out hundreds of years ago and that the United Nations (zichronam livracha) declared in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Optimism has decreased as the situation on the ground has deteriorated; still, most Israelis would agree that peace will come when both sides ultimately have their own state. To achieve this peace through statehood, there are two overarching narratives, with the difference between them simple but glaring.

One of the general narratives believes that the order should go: remove the settlements, leave the West Bank, end the terrorism, then achieve peace. The second general narrative believes that the order should go: remove the terror, remove the settlements, leave the West Bank, then achieve peace. The blatant difference between the two is that they are exactly opposite and contradictory to each other. The problem found with the first general narrative, that settlement removal comes first, and therefore settlements intrinsically represent the main obstacle to peace, is that it retroactively inverts history. There was not one single settlement and not one single Israeli soldier in any part of the West Bank (or in other captured lands but we will keep it to this territory for the sake of the contemporary international conversation) prior to 1967. Despite there being zero Israeli presence in this territory, violence and terrorism still rained down on the Jewish state from there. Only after the 1967 War did Israel enter the West Bank, as a direct result of the terror and war against Israel. So with this backdrop, how is it possible that the removal of this presence, an effect of the Palestinian terror and violence, be the kick starter to the end of the same terror? An effect of something cannot also be its cause.

The Arab riots in 1929 were certainly not caused by settlements

Some claim that we must hold on to our original Zionist ambitions by democratizing and Jewishize-ing Israel first (through the removal of Israeli presence from the West Bank) and then if an attack happens against Israel we will have every right to enter the West Bank and reclaim it. This is a very tempting narrative to pursue because it guides us to quick Palestinian control and holds the prospect and the expectation that if the Palestinians stop all of their terror activities, peace for Israelis is fast in it tracks. Think about what that actually means: this suggests that the entire peace is predicated on the loss of Israeli life, with absolutely no evidence from the words in the Palestinian textbooks or the squares named after glorified Palestinian martyrs that this expectation will actually be realized. It is saying that we are willing to lose Israeli life for the potential for peace. It suggests that the human rights of Palestinians are more valuable than the human rights of Israelis. But even further, this puts at risk the lives of Palestinians too, and arguably even more so than the risk put to the lives of the Israelis. Look no further than the HD photograph of this dangerous scenario unfolding in Gaza, where just two year ago countless innocent lives of Palestinians were lost as a result of this concept. But who knows what the Palestinian attack will be THAT time. What if, during the waiting period to see if Palestinian independence of Israeli settlements will lead to true peace, it’s not a Friday truck-ramming that kills “just” 4 Israelis? What if it’s a massive bomb set off in the Tel Aviv Azrieli Towers that kills 400 Israelis? This suggests that it is okay to gamble with the lives of Israelis. That it is okay to say their lives just aren’t as important, whether that is the explicit or implicit statement.

Israelis have seen what happens when you withdraw from a land with people who have always been committed to terrorism against you without ending the terrorism first: Hezbollah filled the vacuum in southern Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But at the same time, Israelis have witnessed what can happen when a nation first ends its anti-Israel violence and then extends a peaceful hand: when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat called for an end to the bloody war against Israel and came for peace negotiations in Israel, Israelis lined the streets to Jerusalem waving Egyptian flags.

Anwar Sadat speaking to the Knesset during his visit in 1978, when he called for an end to hostilities.

Israelis know very well from their history that long-lasting peace starts with the extinguishing of the terrorism against them. Now it is time for the world to understand this as well. But until then, no Israeli is going to risk our lives anymore. Benjamin Netanyahu won’t do it, nor will Yair Lapid or Tzipi Livni or Isaac Herzog, and neither will Michal in Tel Aviv or Baruch in Beer Sheba. For thousands of years, the lives of the Jewish people have been used as gambling chips – inquisitions, expulsions, massacres, blood libels, pogroms, the Holocaust. Israelis want peace just as much as anyone else does, but they will never do so at the expense of Jewish life again.

The end of the terror must come first. The peace will soon follow it.

Originally published at Times of Israel Blogs

Contributed by Tal Edelstein, former President of Mustangs United for Israel, a CAMERA-supported group

United States learning from Israel how to combat terrorism

CAMERA Fellow Deborah Shamilov

CAMERA Fellow Deborah Shamilov

According to a Fox News Network article published in March 2016, deaths due to terrorism have increased eight-fold over the past decade and violence in Europe is expected to increase over the next two years as extremists continue to take advantage of the European Union’s immigration system. Analysts predict that global terrorism will not only increase in 2016 and beyond, but that it will also expand in countries like Thailand, the Philippines and India. These findings are extremely frightening and show that this is a vital time for the global community to improve its strategies for combating terrorism.

A persuasive speech about improving global communication standards and practices I had to write for my public speaking class last semester prompted me to look further into the topic of how the United States is responding to the rise in terrorism and what it is doing to ensure it is well prepared to prevent and respond to it. Since I wrote this speech, there have been several more terrorist attacks — including the recent attacks in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota.

My research had led me to Israel, a country that is smaller than the size of New Jersey, yet has been capable of surviving constant terrorist attacks since its creation in 1948. Due to its placement in the most unstable region on the planet — perfectly surrounded by the Middle East and Egypt and the rest of Africa on the West — Israel’s existence has been depending on highly developed counterterrorism and intelligence practices. Out of necessity, Israel has created a cutting-edge security industry that consists of advanced counterterrorism technologies. According to JewishVirtualLibrary.org, since last October there have been 41 Israelis and Americans, one of whom was 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz who planned to attend Rutgers this year, murdered in civilian areas. Israel’s experiencing every form of terrorism, including suicide bombings, vehicle rammings, stabbing attacks and rockets, has resulted in its being far ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to security.

For years, Israel has been assisting the United States government and the private sector by sharing its techniques and technologies for homeland security and counterterrorism. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lists several of the many ways Israel has been lending a helping hand to the United States when it comes to security. American aviation security has improved drastically since the U.S. Transportation Security Administration began working with world-renowned security experts at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport. The Israeli-developed Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT), a behavior observation and analysis program designed to provide a means of identifying suspicious persons by focusing on behaviors indicative of high levels of stress, fear, or deception —  is one of the many practices Israel has shared with the U.S. Additionally, Israel has helped America to improve its preparedness. American observers from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the National Guard travel to Israel annually to participate in Israeli homeland security drills. Border security has also been improved. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security hired Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems to build surveillance towers for the Arizona-Mexico border equipped with radar and cameras to detect human movement. Israeli company NICE Systems is being used on the Port of Miami to improve its monitoring equipment. Police cooperation has also benefited. Israel has provided counterterrorism training techniques, security procedures and means of mass casualty emergency preparation to multiple American law enforcement agencies.

Mass transportation, emergency management, bomb detection — you name it. Israel has been helping the U.S. improve its counterterrorism practices and standards in every sector.

The benefits of this cooperation have even hit close to home. Next time you travel from Newark and JFK Airports, keep in mind that the American Verint video surveillance security system functioning there is made possible by the company’s extensive assistance from and operations in Israel.

This article was originally published on The Daily Targum.

Contributed by Rutgers University CAMERA Fellow Deborah Shamilov.

From 9/11 to Today: Countering Terror Online

Extremism is reaching people across the world through social media. Terrorists can sift through a population using social media and reach people susceptible to ideas of extremism. Luring people to their cause, extremists spread their ideas from the ease of their desktop and as quickly as their internet bandwidth will allow. To say the least, radicalism is spreading rapidly through the internet.

Mainstram media could once marginalize radical, dangerous groups from dispersing their ideas to the general public. Journalists could decide, and still do, what is appropriate to publish in a newspaper or on a news site. Now, however, extremists are not concerned with using established media sites for spreading their ideas. They can extend their thoughts to the public by creating sources and sites of their own. Through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram etc., mainstream media is not necessarily the default source for information.

Source: itv article: Britain is facing 'relentless battle for hearts and minds' to stop youngsters joining Islamic State, MPs warn (March, 2015).

Source: itv article, Britain is facing ‘relentless battle for hearts and minds’ to stop youngsters joining Islamic State, MPs warn (March, 2015).

Extremists on the internet include jihadists, neo-Nazis, and Islamic State (IS) members. Among extremist groups, White supremacists and IS in particular have proliferated in social media.

It is difficult to believe that individuals from the average American town, who would never otherwise be exposed to jihadists or IS members, are becoming extremists themselves. As the film, Losing Our Sons presents, targeted Americans are falling to Muslim extremism. With each terror attack, there are casualties. But leading up to any terror attack are the individuals who are seduced into a seemingly noble cause of extremism, are brainwashed by terrorists, and eventually become radical terrorists themselves.

Left and right, fathers of two US veterans (center) who fell to Jihadist terrorist ideas. Source: Americans for Peace and Tolerance trailer. Source: Americans for Peace and Tolerance

Left and right, fathers of two US veterans (center) who fell to Jihadist terrorist ideas. Source: Americans for Peace and Tolerance film, Losing our Sons

Following 9/11, counter-terrorism was developed and the laws regarding information-sharing and accesses for the FBI, CIA, and other counter-terror groups were broadened. With easier access to critical information, counter terrorists could work more efficiently and prevent 9/11-like terror attacks.

However, the internet still puts counter-terrorists in a difficult situation. In a democracy, the internet cannot be fully monitored. While stopping terrorism is nothing short of essential for upholding security, many argue that this amounts to prying too, undermining the rights of a democratic state.

Ironically, while government and counter-terror units do not want to invade the public’s privacy, and rightly so, extremists can already do exactly that. Through cyber attacks, intellectual-property theft, and invasions of nuclear-plants or military systems to name a few, terrorists can turn society over by hacking away at their computers. The threats of the virtual age are extremely high. Since 2001, after 9/11, counter-terrorists have been working within the limits of the law persistently to stop terrorism on the ground and online.

Just as America has been developing its counter-terror capabilities since 9/11, Israel has been advancing its military technology in order to uphold state security.

IDF Brigadier General Danny Bren, former head of IDF technology unit. Source: israeldefense.co.il

IDF Brigadier General Danny Bren, former head of IDF technology unit. Source: israeldefense.co.il

Extremism is intertwined with the rapidly advancing virtual world. No simple feat, stopping terrorism in this day and age leaves counter-terrorist experts with multiplying questions and immense challenges.

As PJ Crowley, academic, former US spokesman and US Air Force veteran explained in 2011, persistence is key. Reflecting upon the decade following 9/11, Crowley argued that stopping terrorism is an overwhelming task that will “take a generation.” For each terrorist or terror attack stopped, counter-terror experts deserve utmost respect and appreciation but by no means does that suggest their work is close to done.

In 2016, counter-terror experts still know that persistence is the name of the game. Extremism is spreading across the internet like a toxic virus and counter-terror experts are working hard to fight it.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz.

Munich Massacre Commemorated As Anti-Semitism at Olympics Continues

44 years ago on September 5th, at the 1972 Olympic Games in Germany, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took hostage and murdered 11 members of the Israeli Olympic Team. 

If the German government and their rescue team had worked succinctly and responsibly, the captured Israelis could have been saved, rather than murdered.

In what came to be known as the Munich Massacre, Ankie Spitzer lost her husband, Israel’s fencing coach Andre Spitzer, as well as her faith in the integrity of the Olympics.

“If this is what happened to that peace-loving man, my husband, who wanted nothing more than to take part in the Olympics, then I will never shut up, never stop talking about the travesty to the Olympic ideals,” she swears.

And indeed she has not. Since 1972, Ankie Spitzer has been responding to the events of the Munich Massacre and working to memorialize the victims.

Israeli Olympic Team members being held captive by Black September before their eventual deaths during the Munich Massacre in 1972. Source: oldpicz.com

Israeli Olympic Team members being held captive by Black September before their eventual murders during the Munich Massacre of 1972. Source: oldpicz.com

In 2003, Ankie Spitzer took the German government to court. While no amount of money can compensate for the tragic loss of her husband and the ten other victims, justice was served when the German government had to finally claim responsibility for its criminal negligence during the attack.

Aside from holding guilty parties responsible, Ankie Spitzer also strives to ensure that the victims are properly remembered and that the tragic events of 1972 are duly commemorated.

From the time of the attack up until this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, only private memorials had been held for the victims. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), recognized the 1972 victims of terrorism and representatives of the IOC attended memorial events. But the IOC had not officially memorialized the Munich Massacre at any Olympic Games.

During the London 2012 Summer Olympics, for example, a memorial was held in Guildhall, separate from the games. Jacques Rogge, the IOC President at the time, rejected the idea of holding a minute of silence for the Munich Massacre victims. He tried to silence the idea, stating that, “The IOC has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions,” suggesting this was sufficient. However, the death of athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili was recognized as were the 9/11 terrorist attacks during the Olympic games.

Memorial for luger Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia is placed under the Olympic Rings in the Whistler Village during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Source: ottawacitizen.com

Memorial for luger Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia is placed under the Olympic Rings in the Whistler Village during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Source: ottawacitizen.com

Until this August, the IOC did not want to fully memorialize the Munich Massacre. Ankie Spitzer discovered that they were worried about such a memorial causing trouble for the Olympic games. Before the 2012 London Games, Ankie Spitzer persisted with IOC President Rogge, asking why the IOC really could not memorialize the murder of the 11 Israeli Olympians. Rogge eventually explained that there were 46 Arab and Muslim countries that would threaten to boycott the Games if the IOC agreed to include such a memorial.

Every time Ankie Spitzer received a response like this, she took it personally, not for herself but for her husband. IOC officials worried about boycotts, while Ankie’s husband and 10 other Israelis had been victimized and killed by terrorism. Rather than respecting the dead and standing up against terrorism, the IOC was pathetically allowing the threats and bullying of anti-Semitic countries to control them.

Finally, during this past Summer Olympic Games in Rio, the IOC hosted an official memorial for the 11 Israelis who were killed 44 years ago.

After reading the names of the 11 victims at a ceremony in the Rio Olympic village, IOC Chief Thomas Bach spoke on the importance of the memorial event:

“We commemorate them because this was an attack not only on our fellow Olympians, but also an assault on the values that the Olympic Village stands for. It was an attack on the universal power of sport to unite all of humanity in peace and solidarity.

“The Olympic Games are always an affirmation of life so let our commemoration today also be an affirmation of their lives. Through this act of remembrance, the spirit of those who have departed continues to live on.”

Ilana Rimano (left) and Ankie Spitzer – widows of two of the murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics – at memorial event in Rio. Source: Reuters, via JPost

Ilana Rimano (left) and Ankie Spitzer – widows of two of the murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics – at memorial event in Rio. Source: Reuters, via JPost

Following the ceremony, Ankie Spitzer expressed that the first memorial at the Olympic Games was a historic step, with the IOC taking the responsibility to organize the event inside the Olympic Village. She – and the Israeli people as a whole – finally felt a sense of closure after over 40 years.

This summer, Israeli Olympic athletes also commemorated the 1972 Munich Massacre victims in their own ways. The Israeli athletes came to the Rio Olympics to win, and in doing so, they were also able to pay their respects to the 1972 Israeli Team victims of terror by dedicating their success to the victims or simply by standing strong in the face of anti-Semitism at Olympic Games.

Following her win, Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi exclaimed that winning a bronze medal at the recent Rio Olympic Games is nothing short of “a dream come true.” But she also recognized the honor of earning this medal with two widows of the Munich Massacre victims, Ilana Romano and Ankie Spitzer, by her side during the games. After her win, Gerbi decided to specifically dedicate her success to the victims of the Munich Massacre.

Israeli Judoka Olympic medal winner, Yarden Gerbi. Source: fromthegrapevine.com

Israeli Judoka Olympic medal winner, Yarden Gerbi. Source: fromthegrapevine.com

Anti-Semitic Palestinian terrorists murdered the 1972 Israeli Olympic Team members. Fast forward to 2016, and many members of the 2016 Summer Olympics Israeli team also experienced discrimination in Rio. The Israelis stood strong in the face of all the hatred, only responding with success and pride in competing for Israel at the Olympic Games. For example, Or Sasson did not let the refusal of Egyptian Islam el-Shahabi to shake his hand affect his joy and pride in winning two medals for Israel. Thankfully, anti-Semitic incidents at this year’s Games were followed through by the IOC with public reprimands, providing a glimmer of hope that shaming discriminatory athletes will prompt them into behaving appropriately at future professional sporting events.

Or Sasson, Israeli Judoka, two-time medal winner Olympian. Source: Haaretz

Or Sasson, Israeli Judoka, two-time medal winner Olympian. Source: Haaretz

Just as Israelis are known to not let terrorism keep them from celebrating happy occasions, the team was not discouraged by anti-Semitism at the 2016 Rio Olympic games. The Israeli team came to win and stayed focused on their goal regardless of the bigotry thrown at them by other teams.

While the Israeli team stood proud of their success for Israel, the anti-Semitism did put a damper on the Rio Olympic Games in general. “Committed to building a better world through sport,” the IOC strives for good sportsmanship. Unfortunately, some countries chose to abuse the esteemed Olympic sense of sportsmanship. They used the games as a catalyst for political statements and expressions of anti-Semitism.

There were many highs and lows for Israel at the recent Rio Olympic Games. While nothing can make up for the tragic loss of 11 Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, at least their memory has now been fully respected by the IOC community. And similarly, while the anti-Semitism at the recent Rio games is uncanny and absolutely unacceptable just as it was at the 1972 Munich games, the Israeli Olympic Team at least was able to compete and represent Israel on an international level.

Though long overdue, following the IOC’s public ceremony for the Munich Massacre victims and its public punishments of racist athletes, there is hope for the future. While some countries bully Israeli Olympic athletes, they turn around and smile with pride after giving it their all in every competition and succeeding in the face of hate.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz.