German Christians recall Wannsee

On Friday, a delegation of prominent German and Austrian Christian leaders gathered under the auspices of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem for remembrance ceremonies at Yad Vashem marking the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, the infamous meeting of Nazi officials which plotted the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

The high-ranking Christian delegation included a broad array of 70 pastors and ministry leaders representing all the Protestant and Evangelical movements of Germany and Austria, including Lutherans, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Baptists, Methodists, Mennonites, Pietists, and Adventists.

“We came here to continue the repentance of our nation for the enormous crime of mass murder of Jews committed in the name of a wicked ideology,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. “The Church in Germany still has so much more to do to amend for our deafening silence in those dark days.”

Watch CBN's coverage of the ceremonies

The two-day gathering in Jerusalem culminated on Friday with a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Square and observances in the Hall of Remembrance to honor the Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Delegates from 32 major Christian denominations and ministries in Germany and Austria, representing millions of followers, laid wreaths at today’s event.

“The Christian nation of Germany some two generations ago gives us an example of the evil which can flow when a people turn their back on a God of goodness Who loves all humankind,” said Rev. Ingolf Ellßel, Chairman of the Pentecostal European Fellowship. “To remember this causes a deep shaking in our hearts.”

Hall of Remembrance (Sasson Tiram)Dr. Uwe Graebe, the German Lutheran Probst in Jerusalem, noted that “the Nazi officials who met at Wannsee were all well educated. Some were doctors, some were theologians, and one was even the son of a Protestant pastor. They knew the Bible and what it said about the value of every human life. Yet they blocked out the sacred concept that we are all created in God’s image. Instead, they dealt with human lives as mere statistics.”

“Wannsee was one of the darkest days in the history of the German people,” added Gottfried Bühler, National Director of ICEJ-Germany and the initiator of the event. “Seventy years after, we bow down in deep sorrow. And we also promise to keep this remembrance alive. That is why many of us brought our children along, so the next generation can witness these ceremonies. Yet remembrance alone is not enough; it must go hand-in-hand with responsible deeds of goodness.”

The ICEJ then handed over a $60,000 check to Yad Vashem for its Holocaust studies and education center, to sponsor special seminars for Christian leaders to train them in teaching the universal lessons of the Holocaust.

Expressing gratitude for the support which the Jewish people receive today from millions of Christians worldwide, Dan Diker, Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress issued a call for “vigilance in the face of the next genocidal plot against the collective Jew – the state of Israel.”

“Today’s ceremonies at Yad Vashem are the answer to Wannsee,” Diker stated. “The lesson is to be vigilant. This is about preventing the next Wannsee, which is already here in the Iranian threat to eradicate Israel. Yet we hear once again the silence of the international community. Who will demonstrate? Who will speak out? I believe you will!”

Villa Wannsee outside BerlinThe Wannsee Conference was held on January 20, 1942 at a lakeside villa outside Berlin and was attended by 15 high-ranking Nazi bureaucrats who set in motion the implementation of a plan to eradicate the Jews of Europe. The meeting was convened by Reinhard Heydrich, assistant to deputy Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler, who led a discussion on methods to be used for the systematic, industrial murder of all Jews within Germany’s reach. A chart compiled by Adolf Eichmann for the Wannsee Conference listed all of the estimated 11 million Jews of Europe and northwest Africa as potential targets.

During their two days in Jerusalem to mark 70 years since Wannsee, the delegation of German and Austrian Christians also paid a visit to the Knesset, meet with Israel’s Chief Rabbi (Ashkenazi) Yona Metzger, hold special prayer services at the Western Wall and the King of Kings Prayer Tower, and attended a memorial concert at Mishkenot Sha´ananim featuring performances by the noted German Christian Music Academy of Stuttgart. The series of events ended on Friday evening with a reception at the global headquarters of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.

To learn more about this historic event, CLICK HERE!

Your Embassy in Jerusalem
Support the extensive ongoing work and witness of the ICEJ by helping us fund our core activities in fulfilling our mandate to support Israel, teach truth and promote justice in Jerusalem and around the world
Give Now »


ICEJ marks Christmas, Hanukkah

Last month the celebration of Christmas fell within the same week as the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem marked both holiday seasons by sponsoring a series of festive events and gift distributions. Following are reports on some of these activities, accompanied by photo galleries.

Christmas/Hanukkah Reception

On December 23rd, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem marked the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah by hosting  a “Festival of Lights” reception for both Christians and Jews at our global headquarters in Jerusalem. Israeli officials, veteran diplomats, Jewish and Christian clergy, and numerous community leaders were among the guests in attendance. Retired Israeli ambassador Raphael Gvir did the honors of lighting the candles for the evening on the Hanukkiah menorah, which stood alongside a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

The ICEJ’s Executive Director, Dr. Juergen Buehler, welcomed the guests of both faiths and noted the links between the two historic events being celebrated. Pastor Wayne Hilsden also delivered a devotional on the meaning of Christmas. The evening included traditional Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs accompanied by a string quartet. The Patriarch of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem’s Old City, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, also came to enjoy the evening and was accompanied by a local priest who sang a traditional carol in the Armenian language.

View the photo gallery »

Christmas Banquet in Bethlehem

The Christmas season in the Holy Land is particularly busy in Nazareth, Bethlehem and the Old City of Jerusalem. Many Arab Christians living in these towns take special pride in holding celebrations marking the Nativity and the ICEJ joins in every year by funding special gift distributions and festive holiday meals for local Arab Christians. In one instance, the Christian Embassy once again helped to sponsor a Christmas Banquet organised by the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem that was attended by over 800 local Arabs, both Christians and Muslims.

After church choirs from Bethlehem and Jerusalem led a rousing time of worship and carolling, Pastor Naim Khoury delivered a powerful Christmas message that drew many to the Lord. At Pastor Khoury’s invitation, Vesna Buehler, wife of ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Juergen Buehler, along with ICEJ Music Director Ray Ramirez also performed a medley of songs in English and Arabic.

The evening concluded with a festive meal as well as a separate program for some 200 children that included Nativity plays, games and Christmas gifts for everyone.

View the photo gallery »

Hanukkah Parties for Holocaust Survivors

In December the ICEJ sponsored a series of Hanukkah parties for needy Jewish communities, including for Holocaust survivors. Delegations from the ICEJ AID department also attended several Hanukkah parties held for Holocaust survivors assisted by the Christian Embassy, including at the ICEJ’s new home for survivors in Haifa. Another Hanukkah celebration attended by ICEJ representatives was held in Katzrin, on the Golan Heights, where around 40 Holocaust survivors “adopted” by Christian supporters were joined by local high school students and soldiers from a nearby army base.

The ICEJ delegation was able to express holiday greetings on behalf of Christians from around the world. One survivor introduced himself by saying, “Shalom, I am Shlomo from Auschwitz…” Another elderly survivor, Rosa, was deeply touched by the support and care of Christians, saying “you are so loving, like angels!” The students and soldiers were also grateful to be there. One soldier said, “we ask ourselves many times why we are actually serving in the army. But after having met and talked to these Holocaust survivors, it gives us a different perspective. Through them we know we have no other country and we now want to do the best job possible to defend our land.”

View the photo gallery »

More information on ICEJ AID »

Your Embassy in Jerusalem
Support the extensive ongoing work and witness of the ICEJ by helping us fund our core activities in fulfilling our mandate to support Israel, teach truth and promote justice in Jerusalem and around the world
Give Now »

ICEJ Feast peaks with Jerusalem March on ‘Schalit Day’

The annual Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, came to a rousing conclusion on Tuesday with the colorful Jerusalem March through the streets of the capital and a Grand Finale’ service featuring Israel’s deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon.

“As a Jew and a representative of the Government of Israel, I welcome you here – Christians from all walks of life – to celebrate your faith, to praise God, and to bless Israel,” Minister Ayalon said in a powerful send-off address last night.

“There is a great awakening here in Israel and around the world of the need for the 'coming together' of Jews and Christians to keep God’s commandments,” added Ayalon. “God is sending you home as watchmen of Israel, so that His purpose will be fulfilled.”

Earlier in the day, the week-long Feast gathering peaked as more than 6,000 Christians from over 80 nations paraded in traditional costumes through the center of Jerusalem. Seated on the official viewing stand outside the King David hotel, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was among the tens of thousands of Israelis lining the streets to greet the Feast pilgrims and witness the incredible display of solidarity, which came on the day that Israel welcomed home IDF soldier Gilad Schalit after five years of numbing captivity in Gaza.

A number of Feast pilgrims were holding signs which said, “Welcome home Gilad” and “Israel is not alone.” Others handed out small national flags, candy and other gifts to smiling children.

“We are so grateful about Gilad Schalit’s release! It’s been a prayer that has been going on for a long time and we are so thankful. That’s fabulous news during this great week,” assured Shay Kasper of Los Angeles, California.

“All the Jerusalem marches have been wonderful. We see more and more love going from both sides, from the Christians and the Israelis together,” added Kasper, who has attended every Feast since 1981.

“We had fun as a group, showing our support for Israel and basking in the atmosphere coming from the Israelis watching the parade,” said Sybille Hochuli from Switzerland. “The march is the highlight of the Feast, because we get a chance to see the ordinary people who live in this city.”

“It is good for our Feast pilgrims from around the world to be here to express our solidarity on such a momentous day, as they will also see and experience first-hand what Israel is going through as Gilad Schalit returns home,” said ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Juergen Buehler. “We share the relief and joy of the Schalit family and all Israel that Gilad has come back alive. We also share the pain of so many that the price for his return has meant having to set ruthless murderers free. Our pilgrims will no doubt return to their own nations with a deeper appreciation of Israel’s unique challenges and an even stronger commitment to standing with the Jewish state and people.”

Mayor Barkat relished his role as parade marshal, diving into the waves of Christian pilgrims on several occasions to shake hands and embrace his city’s visitors from around the globe. When the lead banner of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem passed by, he jumped to his feet again and marched alongside it to the roaring approval of Christians and Israelis alike.

On Monday evening, the ICEJ hosted its annual Israeli Guest Night at the Feast, with a record 2,000 Israelis in attendance.

“Anyone who doubts that Israel has incalculable Christian support in at least 70 countries should have heard the cheers and loud, long blowing of shofars each time MK David Rotem, chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, mentioned Jerusalem as ‘the undivided city of David, the undivided capital of the State of Israel,’” wrote Jerusalem Post social columnist Greer Fay Cashman in her report on the event.

Rotem said that all over the world there were people trying to take part of Jerusalem away from Israel, “but your presence here is because you know that the covenant between God and Abraham is real and no one can work against this covenant.”

The Christian Embassy’s Feast celebration has once again maintained its status as the largest annual solidarity mission to Israel, and the nation’s largest tourist event this year.

Iran’s leaders foresee end of Israel, ‘Islamic awakening’

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Hamas chief Khaled Mashal last week that the world is slowly becoming more favorable to a Palestinian state and the bid for statehood at the UN Opening Assembly in two weeks will mark the beginning of the end of Israel. Ahmadinejad also praised the Arab Spring, even as Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, referred to it as an "Islamic Awakening." Ahmadinejad is expected to show up once again in New York for the annual fall opening of the UN General Assembly and deliver speeches full of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic diatribes.

Nevertheless, former CIA director Leon Panetta said on Tuesday that it was only a matter of time before the revolutionary spirit sweeping the Middle East would reach Iran as well. “The Iranian reform movement is learning from the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria,” he said. “The fact is when people decide that that moment has come, that's a moment when tremendous change is about to happen, and I think it's true, not only in the Middle East. It's going to be true in Iran as well."

In related news, the hard-line regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad continues to crack down on civilians demanding democratic and social reforms and even his ouster. On Monday, Syrian forces killed seven civilians in the city of Homs. According to human rights groups active within Syria, forces loyal to Assad have clamped down on at least three neighborhoods in the city, which is located some 165 km north of the capital Damascus.

Meanwhile, a group of Syrian Kurds recently met in Stockholm, home to a large community of Syrian Kurds, in order to unite behind a strategy to help speed the removal of Assad. So far, the 1.7 million-strong Syrian Kurdish population still living in the country have stayed out of the mass protests against Assad’s regime, fearing it would be used as an excuse to devastate the minority community. Since he came to power, Assad has continued his father Hafez Assad’s policy of suppressing the Kurdish population, depriving them of their land and rights to full citizenship. It is estimated that Syria’s Kurdish population makes up roughly 10% of the country’s 17 million citizens.

Israel’s tent protests not folding up yet

Thousands of tent protesters who have spent the summer camped out in public places across Israel are not yet ready to fold up their movement for social reforms and will continue this autumn to demand urgent government action on stemming the high costs of living and lack of affordable housing.

On Tuesday, activists behind the movement held a press conference in Jerusalem where they laid out the way forward after their protest movement peaked last weekend with the “March of the Million.” The numbers were not that high, but an impressive 400,000 Israelis gathered for demonstrations in several large cities on Saturday evening, with Tel Aviv drawing the largest crowd and Jerusalem recording a respectable 50,000 demonstrators in Paris Square.

With most of the country settling back into the normal routine of work and school following the summer break, the tent protesters are looking for other ways to keep the momentum for social reform going. One method presented on Tuesday is to focus on the 2012 state budget, and make sure that the government earmarks enough funds for important issues such as housing, education and health care. This coming Saturday, a new approach called “1000 round tables” will be tried out, as a thousand tables will be set up all across Israel for people to sit down and discuss the way forward.

Barak Segel, a lead activist in the social protest movement, was satisfied with the large number of demonstrators this weekend. “The entire people of Israel have stepped out of their houses to protest. This is one small step for the people of Israel, one giant step for the country,” he said.

“From my point of view, the atmosphere is amazing here,” added Roee Neumann, an informal spokesman for the tent protesters. “It could be that the campsites become more concentrated and consolidated, but they won’t be folded up. The protest will keep on going and only get stronger until our demands are met.” He also noted that while the mass protests may not be sustainable, there are many different ways to get the message across, such as boycotts.

While many of the tent protesters were typically portrayed as carefree young adults, the events on Saturday evening drew a wide mix of people from different age groups and cultural backgrounds, including teenagers, mothers, and grandparents, along with both religious and secular Israelis.

A special committee has been set up by the Netanyahu government to hear public complaints, study the growing gap in rich and poor, and recommend to the cabinet within the next couple weeks what actions need to be taken to bring down the spiraling costs of living and put more affordable housing on the market. Meantime, even many Arab commentators have been noting how peaceful the Israeli democratic protests were in comparison to the mass protests and rioting in the Arab world this year.

Al Jazeera pulling out of Syria

Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera announced on Thursday that it was suspending some operations in Syria after members of its staff were attacked while covering anti-government demonstrations. The Arabic language network, whose coverage has helped define the "Arab Spring" uprisings to the world, is one of the few networks still operating in Syria. But network officials complained that authorities in Syria have tried to use their journalists to tell their side of the story while attempting to force them to ignore protesters and even threatening them with violence if they did not cooperate.

Internal power struggle rocks Iran
Speculation of a political crisis in Iran was rampant on Wednesday as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's missed his second Cabinet meeting in a week and extending his absence from the public eye which began last Friday, shortly after his failed attempt to get Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi to resign. Moslehi had submitted his resignation and Ahmadinejad accepted it, but the move was blocked by supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Iranian blogsphere was brewing with speculation as to what might be going on behind the scenes, with the emerging consensus being that Ahmadinejad has simply gone on strike until Khamenei agrees to be more flexible. The power struggle between the two has blown hot and cold for years and this latest episode has the potential to boil over into other areas of Iranian governance as supporters and enemies of the two men stake out their own positions.

Civilians will receive SMS during civil defense drill
The IDF Home Front Command will held its annual defense drill June 19-23, simulating hundreds of rocket attacks on Israel from multiple fronts. Air raid sirens will sound on June 22 and the Home Front Command will use the new cellphone alert system to send text messages to civilians warning them of an incoming rocket attack, as well as testing other systems. In related news, a Syrian official recently boasted that in the event of war between Israel, Syria and the Shi'ite terror militia Hizbullah, there would be a competition on who would be able to launch its first missile on Tel Aviv.

Yad Vashem collects personal items from Holocaust
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, has launched a campaign called 'Gathering the Fragments' to collect personal artifacts related to the Holocaust in anticipation of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday. The campaign encourages people to donate letters, photographs, art or anything else related to the period before, during and directly after the Holocaust. The campaign represents an effort to collect the pieces of the puzzle before the story is lost to the passage of time 'because these are the details that tell the story in depth' said the director of the Archives Division at Yad Vashem, Dr. Haim Gertner. Yad Vashem has collected around 100 items in the past two weeks since the campaign was officially announced.

PM prepares for another Gaza-bound flotilla
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his inner cabinet on Wednesday to prepare for the expected launch of another Gaza-bound flotilla after the Turkish elections on June 12. Netanyahu told the Foreign Ministry to continue its diplomatic efforts to stop the flotilla, and instructed the IDF to prepare the plans to implement the naval blockade on the Gaza strip that is intended to "prevent arms smuggling to terrorist elements in Gaza and prevent attacks on Israeli communities and residents." Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged Israel on Monday "not to repeat the same mistake" it made last year when the IDF intercepted the Mavi Marmara flotilla in an event which became a major public relations debacle for the Jewish State.

Egypt-Israel Gas pipeline sabotaged

An Egyptian pipeline supplying natural gas to Israel was sabotaged Wednesday near the northern Sinai town of El-Arish. "An unknown armed gang attacked the gas pipeline," a security source said. "Authorities closed the main source of gas supplying the pipeline and are working to extinguish the fire." Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon declared that Israel must work towards supplying its own energy needs. "In light of regional instability, we must accelerate the production of Israeli natural gas in order to reach energy independence," Ayalon said. Other officials echoed the call to speed production at the recently discovered Leviathan and Tamar gas fields off Israel's northwest coast. Israel receives 40% of its natural gas from Egypt, a key component of the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries. Most of Israel's electricity is produced by plants that run on natural gas and when the supply is disrupted they must use other sources of fuel that produce substantially more pollution.

Bloody crackdown continues in Syria despite sanctions
An increasingly violent government crackdown on anti-regime protesters in Syria has resulted in widespread condemnation as leaders from major powers as well as the UN and the Arab League called on President Bashar Assad to halt the escalating use of force and implement reforms.

Iranian ties with Arab states has Israel worried
In a sign of warming relations between Iran and its former enemy Iraq, Justice Ministers from the two countries signed an extradition agreement on Monday in Teheran, a move sure to cause unease among other Arab governments worried about the growing power and aggression of the Islamic Republic.

Syria up for UNHRC seat despite bloodshed
Syria has a good chance of being elected to the UN Human Rights Council at a meeting on May 20, despite the bloody crackdown on protesters currently taking place there. Geneva based NGO UN Watch has initiated a campaign to raise awareness of the crimes committed by the Assad regime in an effort to prevent its ascension. Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said that even thinking of Syria joining the UNHCR "is a moral outrage." Advancing Human Rights executive director David Keyes added that "if Syria is elected to the UN Human Rights Council, it will be yet one more indication of an organization that has totally lost its moral clarity and betrayed the lofty ideals on which it was founded."

Ties warming between Egypt and Hamas
Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas political bureau, is reportedly scheduled to visit Cairo for meetings with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby. His visit to Egypt marks a clear intensification in the relationship between Hamas and the Egyptian interim government only weeks after another high Hamas official met with Egyptian officials. Meanwhile, Egypt recently released several Palestinian prisoners as a sign of cooperation with Hamas and are also considering opening up an unofficial "Hamas embassy" in Cairo. In addition, Hamas Foreign minister Osama Hamdan earlier this week said that there are ongoing discussions whether to open up the Rafah border crossing linking Egypt with the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip.

Michael Douglas helps Jewish General
After a Jewish General Hospital first detected a cancerous tumor in the famous actor Michael Douglas' throat, the celebrity will headline for McGill University's annual Head and Neck Cancer Fundraiser on May 3, as a show of appreciation. Physicians at Jewish General found the tumor after American physicians had proclaimed him healthy. Today, after undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments, the 66-year-old actor says he is cancer-free. Dr. Saul Frenkiel, co-chair of the annual fundraiser, and a head and neck surgeon, said Douglas' help will bring attention to important research in the medical field.

Israel 7th-most thriving country
Results of a Gallup poll released last week indicate that Israel is the world's seventh-most "thriving" country. Gallup classifies respondents' well-being as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering," according to how they rated their current and future lives on a scale from 0 to 10. Residents  of only 19 countries rated their lives well enough to be classified as thriving. These included Denmark, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Venezuela, Finland, Israel and New Zealand. The US finished twelfth, four percentage points behind Israel. Among Arab nations, the United Arab Emirates ranked highest.

Israel to cooperate on AIDS research
The State of Israel recently signed an agreement with the World Health Organization and UNAIDS in order to help in the fight against the devastating AIDS virus. Both the Foreign Ministry as well as the Health Ministry will contribute with their expertise and the amount of $250,000 to UNAIDS in an effort to battle the disease which is behind the death of several millions of people across the globe. UNAIDS officials expressed excitement and were eager to have Israeli expertise on their team as Israel's health system is seen as one of the best in the world.

Arab League condemns crackdowns on protesters

The Arab League on Tuesday condemned the use of force against pro-democracy protesters in several Arab countries. "The people's demands for freedom and democracy are demands that require support ... not bullets in the chests of demonstrators," the Arab League said in the statement. "We call on Arab regimes and governments to commit to and speed up reforms, immediately stop using force against demonstrators and spare their citizens bloodshed." The 22-member league rarely issues such statements and it is even more rare for it to express criticism of Arab countries, spending most of its time and resources bashing Israel.

Obama Administration in bid to avert Palestinian UN action
The Obama Administration has launched a new diplomatic initiative with Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at avoiding a PA threat to take its case for statehood to the UN in September, but PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo declared on Monday that the PA was determined to go ahead with the plan regardless of what Israel or the US does.
Assad orders brutal crackdown in Syria
Syrian infantry backed by tanks and artillery were deployed in Daraa and several other cities over the weekend as the regime of President Bashar Assad attempted to crush protests, the latest flare up of violence in the so-called "Arab Spring."

Iran hit by another cyberattack
Military officials in Iran confirmed on Monday that the Islamic Republic's renegade nuclear program has been hit by a new computer virus attack. The virus, named "Stars" comes even as Teheran's nuclear facilities are still grappling with problems caused by the "Stuxnet" worm, an attack widely accredited to the US and Israel. Analysts have warned that the attacks could lead to Iranian retaliation against Western websites and networks, even as the number of industrial 'accidents' in Iran being blamed on sabotage, both cyber and the old fashioned kind, continues to rise. Nearly a dozen natural gas pipeline explosions have occurred in Iran in the last 18 months. In related news, Kuwaiti newspaper al Kabas reported on Sunday that GCC countries are growing increasingly alarmed at the apparent warming of relations between Iran and the transitional government in Egypt.

Netanyahu to give regular YouTube interviews
The Prime Minister's office recently announced that Benjamin Netanyahu will be regularly publishing YouTube interviews in order to please the many web surfers worldwide who are interested in Israel, following the success of a recent experimental broadcast. "Direct links with the Facebook generation around the world, but especially from the Arab world, are very important for becoming directly familiar with the true Israel," Netanyahu declared. Over 1 million viewers watched Netanyahu's interview which was aired on the YouTube's World View channel in the end of March, in which he answered questions sent to him via email and social media from all over the world.

Israeli designed electric cars to be marketed in the US
After launching their project in both Israel and Denmark, Better Place, the Israeli electric car company, will soon open up shop in Hawaii. 10 charging stations have already been set up across the island of Oahu and seven cars are expected to shortly arrive to the island. Hawaii is currently importing 90% of its oil and has set as an objective of reaching 70 percent renewable power before 2030. "Better Place's electric vehicle network is an innovative approach to integrating electric vehicles into our island grids," said US Sen. Daniel Inouye. Better Place, which already got over 1000 charging docks all over Israel are next expected to launch an electric taxi project in California.

Australian local councils abandon BDS campaign
The Marrickville Council of Australia made headlines earlier this year when they decided to boycott Israeli products including cultural and academic ties. Last week the local Council ended their Israeli boycott project after the federal government criticized the council for handling political areas outside their local jurisdiction. "The backlash has been quite strong and unanimous from the wider populace and from the Australian federal government and the New South Wales government," said Yair Miller president of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies.

Poll: Majority of Egyptians want to end peace with Israel
The Pew Research Center recently published a report about Egyptian attitudes towards Jews and Israel. 56% of respondents were in favor of annulling the 1979 Israeli Egyptian peace treaty. The current leader of Egypt's interim government Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi were the most popular of the Egyptian leaders shortly followed by the chief of the Arab League Amr Moussa. Only 41% of the respondents believed that the upcoming election would be free and fair, while 75% were positive towards the Muslim Brotherhood.

Oren essay sets off academic debate
An essay written by Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren entitled "The Ultimate Ally" and published on Monday on the website of Foreign Policy has set off a firestorm of debate, with several rebuttals being published by other regular contributors to the website. So far, Oren's article has received over 1,300 'likes' on Facebook while the rebuttal arguments have received substantially less. Highlights from the essay include Oren's assertion that "On an ideological level, an ally is a country that shares America's values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people's beliefs. Tactically, an ally stands with the U.S. through multiple conflicts and promotes its global vision. An ally enhances American intelligence and defense capabilities, and provides ports and training for U.S. forces. An ally assists in saving American lives on and off the battlefield. And an ally stimulates the U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation. Israel is certainly one of the few countries that fit this description."

Israel hopes for the best, prepares for the worst

The IDF is currently preparing for possible scenarios related to the call for the third Intifada predicted to take place on 15, May. One scenario is the possibility of having thousands of Palestinians marching towards the check points on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. "We are preparing for a large number of scenarios, the Palestinians feel that they have legitimacy for these peaceful demonstrations, especially now following the creation of a new government and ahead of the declaration of statehood," a senior commander of IDF's Southern Command said. Meanwhile, the IDF continues to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority despite the fact that they earlier this week announced the formation of a unity government with Hamas. "At the moment, this is an agreement on paper. If Hamas members join Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, that will mark the end of PA-Israel security cooperation in the West Bank," said Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland.

Analysts project massive Middle East arms race
Defense Industry analysis firm Frost & Sullivan issued a report Wednesday which included numbers indicating that Air Forces in the Persian Gulf are set to buy large numbers of new planes and related air defense equipment in the coming years, taking the regional arms race to new heights. The biggest spenders are projected to be Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, three countries very worried about the growing power and aggression of Iran who are set to spend close to $60 billion by the end of the decade. "The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are moving towards an integrated air defense network to include air platforms, air defense batteries and air surveillance systems under the 'Peninsular Shield' initiative; but the progress has been slow," notes the report. "The use of networked force by the US and European forces in the Gulf War and the latest Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been a startling revelation for Middle Eastern MODs who are now keen on acquiring these capabilities."

Terrorist bomb in Morocco kills 15, including one Israeli
On Thursday a bomb exploded at a café in the popular Moroccan tourist city of Marrakesh, killing 15 people according to the country's Interior Ministry. Only three of the victims were of Moroccan origin while the rest were foreigners from France, Holland and Britain as well as Jewish couple residing in Shanghai. The Jewish couple, Massoud Zikri and Israeli born Michal Weizman, who was expecting their second child, was in Morocco to celebrate Passover with the husband's family.

Dispute threatens fragile calm in Sudan
Sudanese President Omar Bashir gave a speech in the southern Kordofan state recently, saying that he will not recognize the newly independent country of South Sudan if it continues to claim that the disputed border town of Abyei is the source of tensions between north and south. Southern Sudan is scheduled to gain its independence from Moslem dominated northern Sudan on 9 June. The international community is in the meantime pressing on both sides to come to an agreement regarding Abyei. "It is important that both sides, those in Khartoum and those in Juba, focus intensely on trying to resolve the key issues," said assistant US Secretary of State Johnnie Carson.

Better Place and China Power Grid partnership
Israeli-owned electric car infrastructure company Better Place signed an agreement on Wednesday with officials from China Southern Power Grid Co. to open a battery switch station and joint education center in China. The Israeli group sees China as a future significant player in the automotive market and this collaboration "opens the door to new opportunities for switchable battery electric cars made by Chinese manufacturers for the domestic and export markets", said Better Place CEO and founder Shai Agassi. China Power Grid and Better Place hope to develop their relationship further by expanding the battery-switch, network model.

Egypt plans to permanently open Gaza border crossing
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby told Al-Jazeera during an interview on Thursday that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza could be permanently opened within seven to ten days. Opened for the first time since January 30, 2011, the Rafah border will allow greater freedom of movement for people on both sides of the border, as well as goods in and out of Gaza without Israeli permission."Egypt has decided to reopen the border and it will allow up to 300 people from the Gaza Strip to exit each day," said Hamas official Ghazi Hamad. In related news, Egypt's former envoy to Israel, Mohamed Bassiouni, said on Thursday that the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has achieved significant gains for both nations and that it should not be annulled. "It's win-win - we both gain from the treaty", Bassiouni said. However, a recent survey by the Pew Research showed that over half of Egyptians favor overturning the treaty.

UNHCR pays rare attention to Syria

The UN Human Rights Council, notorious for its historical bias against Israel, will hold a rare session to examine the conduct of another Middle Eastern state on Friday when it will convene to urge Syria to desist from attacking civilian protesters.

The special session was requested by the US, whose ambassador, , Eileen Donahoe, declared on Wednesday that "the international community has been shocked by the killing of hundreds of civilians in connection with peaceful political protests [in Syria] in the past week."

The UNHRC suspended Libya's membership on 1, March and are set to vote in a few weeks on Syria's bid to become a member.

Witnesses reported a major escalation of the Assad regimes crackdown on protesters Thursday, as heavy machine gun fire was heard in the southern city of Daraa and tanks rumbled into the coastal city of Latakia and infantry backed by armor and artillery deployed on the outskirts of several other cities, including suburbs of Damascus. Protest leaders have called for another "Day of Rage" after prayers on Friday - one that could prove to be the largest yet.

There are also reports of dissention and even mutiny among some army units, as Sunni troops have been reluctant to open fire on their co-religionists on the orders of their Alawite officers.

Also on Thursday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, announced that the site in northern Syria destroyed by an Israeli airstrike five years ago was definitely a nuclear reactor which Syria had attempted to build in violation of its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Other UN officials have demanded that Syria allow access to Daraa and other cities so that investigations into reports of human rights violations can be conducted, but so far the Assad regime has not responded.

Elsewhere in the Arab world, witnesses reported that intense battles have continued between protesters and troops loyal to different factions in Yemen and in Libya NATO aircraft have continued strikes against forces loyal to dictator Moammar Gadaffi, who have also intensified their artillery and missile attacks against rebels and civilian neighborhoods in rebel held cities.


Share this: