Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 22, 2014 anti-Israel demonstration in Boston

On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, there was an anti-Israel demonstration in Boston, co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, among other groups. Some of the signs that were displayed cause me to question why JVP would participate in a demonstration with the people carrying them.

Several of the photos below are screen caps of parts of photographs taken by Chris Faraone, a writer for the Boston Phoenix.  For the originals, go to

Why would the progressive rabbis who form JVP's "rabbinic cabinet" want to be associated with the Neturei Karta "rabbis" and supporters pictured below? Neturei Karta is a fundamentalist Jewish sect that is opposed to the existence of Israel. has an interesting article about them and why they should not be regarded as valuable allies for the Palestinian cause.

This lovely poster below equates Zionism with Nazism. Notice the cute touch - in the middle of the 6-pointed star on the Israeli flag is a swastika.

This was the big banner carried by the protestors.

The sign below is the only one I saw that explicitly referenced JVP (among the photos taken by Chris Faraone).

An interesting collection of slogans. "Stop the genocide!" I've seen this one in a number of places. Israel is not committing genocide in Gaza. Then "From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free." This slogan denies that Jews have any right to a state in mandatory Palestine, and demands that the state of Israel be replaced by the state of Palestine. One wonders what the person holding the sign thinks should happen to the Jews who now live in Israel. Then "Jews say no bombing in our name." Which Jews? Isn't it presumptuous to speak for all Jews? And then, "Boston stands with Palestine." What about all the people in Boston who don't care about either Palestine or Israel?

The demonstrator below seems kind of displaced. He supports Bashar Assad's campaign of mass murder of the citizens of Syria. I had thought this was supposed to be an anti-war demonstration. I guess it's really an "against some wars" demonstration.

From -
I would love to read something written by a spokesperson for JVP which would explain why they feel comfortable demonstrating with the people who hold these signs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Middle East....

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Middle East, the Islamic State (formerly know as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS) is on its way to try to conquer Baghdad: Islamic State crushes and coerces on march towards Baghdad. When I first came to Israel in June, this is what I really feared - that very soon ISIS was about to conquer all of Iraq, including Baghdad. Then their advance seemed to stop short of Baghdad, but it seems that they are still driving towards the city.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Antisemitism in anti-Israel rally in Sydney, Australia

Another ostensibly anti-Israel demonstration is blatantly antisemitic: Antisemitism flies high again at Sydney rally.

One poster:

Wave of anti-Semitic rallies hits cities across Germany

More bad news: Wave of anti-Semitic rallies hits cities across Germany.

People who are supposedly protesting the war in Gaza, but who are actually vile antisemites.

Anti-Israel demonstrations in Boston, July, 2014

Another anti-Israel demonstration in Boston, on July 17, 2014.

From Notice the sign that reads: "From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free," with a picture of all of Palestine in the colors of the Palestinian flag. This slogan intends the destruction of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state instead of Israel.

July 11, 2014 demonstration

Another from July 11, 2014 demonstration in Copley Square, Boston

Again, with this slogan, those who support these demonstrations show that they are not for peace or coexistence, but for the destruction of Israel.

Another demonstration is planned for tomorrow night in Copley Square, sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace and a host of other anti-Israel organizations: Students for Justice in Palestine at BU, Northeastern, and BC, Boston BDS, United for Justice with Peace, International Socialist Organization, etc.

If you want to know what Jewish Voice for Peace really believes, see this statement on their Facebook page. They support ending all American aid to Israel, as well as fully supporting the BDS call. They pretend to be agnostic on the question of whether there should be one-state or a two-state solution, but when you read documents like this, which they endorse, it's clear that they don't think Israel should continue to exist. The BDS movement, as I have discussed elsewhere on this blog, calls not only for equality between Jews and Arabs within Israel (which I also support), and for a withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 lines (which I also support, with some border changes), but also for the complete right of return of Palestinians to Israel, which would destroy the state of Israel.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, Switzerland, July 18, 2014

"Perverse politicians: when will these dictators answer for their murder of innocent people?" From the left: Benjamin Netanyahu, with a Hitler mustache; Kim Jong-Un, of North Korea; is the third one Vladimir Putin?; and then Bashar Assad of Syria
Last night I found myself at an anti-Israel rally on the Rathausbrücke in the old town of Zurich. Anti-Israel is the accurate name, not pro-Palestinian.

When I first got to the square, there were only a few people there, starting to put up signs. I went up to the women holding the sign above (after photographing it) to ask them about it, and they were quite hostile, asking me if I was photographing the sign "for Israel." I told them I was an American tourist, not an Israeli. I encountered this hostile reaction two or three times from people in the crowd. Another woman that I spoke with also asked why I was photographing the signs, why was I interested. Again, I told her that I was a tourist, and she said that if that was true, why wasn't I just relaxing and not watching the demonstration?

About a minute of the demonstration, with chanting.
A short video from a news website, in which you can hear the slogan "Allahu Akbar":
During the last couple of wars between Israel and Hamas (2008-09 - Cast Lead, and 2012 - Pillar of Cloud) I have read about anti-Israel demonstrations in various parts of Europe and the US, but I've never actually attended one, because we don't have demonstrations like this in Ithaca. There are a lot of leftwing people in Ithaca, New York (my home town), some of them pretty anti-Israel, but the demonstrations they hold about Israel tend to be very mild, probably because most of those attending them come from the local Catholic Worker and pacifist communities.

Not so at this demonstration. There were calls to "Free, free Palestine," and "From the river [Jordan] to the sea [Mediterranean], Palestine will be free." In addition, because there was a large Islamist presence at this demonstration, there were repeated chants of "Allahu Akbar" (God is the greater), alternating with "Free, free Palestine." The aim of this demonstration was not to advocate for a two-state solution, or reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. The goal was the elimination of the state of Israel. A chant like "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free" is not asking to share the land between Jews and Arabs - it is demanding that there should only be a Palestinian state.

On the right: "Freedom for Palestine"
The anti-Israel demonstration was organized by various groups, including the Switzerland-Palestine Society (this links to an article with an announcement of tonight's rally, along with a very one-sided analysis of the current Israel-Hamas war), the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland, an Islamist organization (source: Swiss info, and see also the ICCS announcement of the demonstration), and BDS Switzerland. Members of another Islamist organization, "Islamic Brotherhood Worldwide" also attended.

"Freedom for the Palestinian People" - BDS Zurich
From Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, July 18, 2014
Another sign from the BDS group. Partial translation: "As long as we want ... the Palestinians, 
we support the nonviolent BDS fight, boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions, against Israel"
"Injustice ... high finance." Note that "high finance" is often a code word for "Jews," since all Jews are supposed to be rich, according to anti-semitic conspiracy theories
From Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, July 18, 2014
The flags in Arabic have the Muslim statement of faith (the shahada) written on them: 
"There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet."
From Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, July 18, 2014

Deceptive series of four maps claiming to show the Arab loss of Palestine.
From Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, July 18, 2014

Members of the Islamist organization, "Islamic Brotherhood Worldwide."
From Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, July 18, 2014

In addition to several hundred demonstrators (one report I read today said there were about a thousand, but I think that may be too large), there were lots of police. At one point about ten police vans drove into the square. The police wore body armor, carried batons, and had pistols in holsters. At one point when I was feeling scared I walked to the back of the square and stood next to three very tall, unsmiling women officers who were keeping an eye on the crowd.

Before the square filled up, I went up to another police officer and asked him about the demonstration. He told me that there were at least two groups of people involved, who didn't necessarily like each other - the Islamists and the more left-wing groups. I asked him if there was a threat of violence, and he said that the police were prepared to deal with anything - they used tear gas and rubber bullets. 

During the time that I was at the demonstration, there was no violence, but at times I found the chanting quite intimidating. First one group would begin chanting "Free, free Palestine," and then another group would start chanting "Allahu Akbar" - followed by clapping after the chants had stopped.

"Israel has bombs, WE have Allah!" 
The sign comes from the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland. 

Woman marching with the Palestinian flag.

As the square was filling up with people, I saw more and more flags - both Palestinian flags and the Shahada flags.
From Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, July 18, 2014

From Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, July 18, 2014

From Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich, July 18, 2014

I had conversations with a couple of women. One was a Swiss Christian woman who had been arguing with one of the demonstrators. I went up to her afterwards and asked her what she thought. She was very much against the demonstration (that made me feel better, because I felt quite alone there). She told me that in the past few days, there had been postings on Facebook pages about the demonstration that were quite antisemitic. She said that the organizers of the demonstration had wanted another venue - in a Jewish area of Zurich, but the police refused to let them do that.

Her comments seem to be corroborated by this news report:
Before the demonstration, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Switzerland expressed concern about the demonstration and a number of anti-Semitic messages on social media platforms. The Zurich police are reportedly investigating these messages.

The federation’s secretary-general, Jonathan Kreutner, said he was shocked by the “hatred and threats against Jewish people”. He called for the application of anti-racism law against authors of anti-Semitic statements. Several inter-religious organisations called for calm and religious freedom. 
Zurich police allowed the demonstration to take place near the Zurich city town hall, but stipulated that the participants would not be allowed to leave the agreed site.
Another news article also reported about antisemitism on social media: Antisemitism rising in Switzerland
THURSDAY, 17 JULY 2014 08:52 
On Friday evening, a rally for Palestine takes place in Zurich. It was called by various organizations, including the radical Islamic Center of Switzerland, for the "mobilization of Gaza". On several Facebook promoting the demo, comments by Palestine sympathizers were anti-Semitic such as: "Only a dead Jew is a good Jew," "Adolf Hitler was the only medicine against Jews," "we must exterminate the Jews", "gas". 
The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) is alarmed. "The hatred has reached a dimension that I have never experienced before," says Secretary-General Jonathan Kreutner...
A local blogger, originally from Denver, wrote about the Swiss Jewish response before the demonstration occurred:
This is how Jews live in Switzerland.
On Thursday, the community I belong to sent an email to all its members warning them to stay away from a pro-Palestinian (or in reality, anti-Israel) demonstration on Friday. They also assured members that the normal security at the synagogue and community center would be bolstered by the presence of city police. (And it’s not like the regular security staff are amateurs; in fact they’re so rigorous they often receive complaints from members who feel they’re being interrogated.) But the largely ex-IDF team is not enough in the face of the hatred that abounds in Europe during a period of IDF activity in the West Bank or Gaza. 
Last Sunday in Paris, hundreds of Jews were barricaded in a synagogue – where they had gathered to honor Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali – as pro-Palestinian protesters hurled stones and chairs at the police protecting the shul. There’s a story in this week’s IJN about a similar ‘demonstration’ in Antwerp, where “slaughter the Jews” was repeated as a refrain. 
In Switzerland, the social media surrounding plans for tonight’s demonstration have been filled with hatred, including calls to take the action into the Jewish neighborhoods and attacks the synagogues and Jewish citizens there. “Let’s smash their faces in” was written one of the choice comments. The comments were so vitriolic they sparked a story in the one of the national papers and on the evening news. 
So can you blame the community? 
When I first received the email I was frustrated; why stay away? Why the fear? Let’s face these people, and be proud of who were are, was my initial reaction. 
The Swiss Jewish community has maintained a near radio silence on events in Israel: no solidarity rallies as in Denver, no communal gatherings. The other day, several lay people, including many members of Keren Hayessod, organized a demonstration in one of Zurich’s downtown plazas, Paradeplatz. A member of Keren Hayessod made sure to emphasize to my colleague that he was there in a private capacity and that this rally was not an official Keren Hayessod effort. Why not? Keren Hayessod did, like JEWISHcolorado, open a fund to support Israelis in Israel affected by Operation Protective Edge, but when it comes to being vocal in the Diaspora, the fear sets in. 
Apparently this is what centuries of anti-Semitism, whether latent or active, does to a Jewish community. It’s that mentality of keep your head down, don’t draw attention, then maybe everything will be fine, a myth shattered by the Holocaust. But the survival instinct is still there, and many people continue to hope, if we keep our heads down… 
And I really don’t know if I can fault the Jewish community for its reticence....
I can testify that there were no counter-demonstrators (as there have been in the United States, for example), and I don't think it would have been particularly safe for them to be there. The startling hostility that I received, as a tourist, for merely being curious about the demonstration, was a sign to me that if anyone had spoken up for Israel they would have been risking their safety. I was glad that there were so many police there, and when I felt the hostile feelings of the crowd were rising, I went and stood by them for my own protection.

All in all, this was a most unnerving experience. When I decided to visit Switzerland after being in Israel for five weeks, I thought I would have an nice, relaxing, unpolitical time - I didn't realize that in this globalized world, there's no such thing as avoiding the deadly politics of the rest of the world.

If you would like to see more of the photos I took of the demonstration, click on Anti-Israel demonstration in Zurich.

Update, July 21 - a report (in German) of the same demonstration - Impressions of the pro-Gaza demonstration in Zurich.

A couple of photos of the demonstration from this website:

Notice that this photo shows a poster equating the star of David with the swastika,
which is antisemitic.
Update, July 22 - I've seen reports in a number of online sources that there were 3,000 people at the Zurich demonstration. This is incorrect - there were nowhere near that many people at the demonstration. The same sources assert that the demonstrators shouted that Jews should be thrown "into the sea." I don't know if that's true. If the shouting was in German, I wouldn't have understood it, but the English and Arabic chants did not say that. (One source:

A report from a Swiss news site (in German) that comes to the conclusion that, "Anti-Semitic statements or actions? Non-existent.Whether this has to do with the large police presence, which had stationed around the vegetables bridge or with the fact that it is easier to anonymously rushing on Facebook against Jews as a public space, is debatable." I don't agree with this assessment. If there were anti-semitic slogans in German, I didn't understand them, but the slogan of "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" is inherently antisemitic, because it calls for the replacement of the state of Israel with a Palestinian state.

I just found the source for the assertion that there were 3,000 people at the demonstration - from this article on the Maariv website: The article was written by Noam Amir, but it is based entirely on the testimony of one Israeli woman who happened upon the demonstration, and who estimated that there were 3,000 people there. I don't consider this to be a serious article, since it based on a second-hand account by only one person. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

A day in Zurich

I arrived in Zurich last night from Israel, prepared for a brief vacation in a peaceful land after too much strife, sadness, hatred, and war. This afternoon, I took a boat trip on Lake Zurich. It was very beautiful, with light sparkling on the water, and the high snow-topped mountains in the distance. 

When the boat came back, I started to wander around the old town, including going into the "woman church," the Fraumünster, which has beautiful stained glass panels by Chagall in the chapel. The church was first built in the 9th century.

The photo on the right is from the "Jacob" window, and shows Jacob wrestling with the angel.

Unfortunately, that was not all I encountered in my wanderings around the old town. After visiting the Fraumünster, I went to a cafe called Storchen Zurich and had some dinner. When I had finished, I got up to leave and continue my walk through the town.

As I was about to cross back over the river, I encountered an anti-Israel demonstration. My next post is about the demonstration.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Racist demonstration in Jerusalem on July 14

On Monday night, July 14, I met a friend in downtown Jerusalem for dinner, near Kikar Zion. That same night a mysterious right-wing group had announced that they were going to have a demonstration there, and then march to Damascus Gate in the Old City, under the slogan "We're the bosses here" (כאן אנחנו בעלי הבית). After finishing dinner with her, I walked over to Kikar Zion to observe the demonstration.

The first thing I noticed was the large police presence, mostly from the Border Police - men in blue-grey uniforms carrying batons (in addition to pistols). Across the street there were mounted police. There seemed to be more police than demonstrators.

From Jerusalem summer 2014

Then I realized that there was a smaller counter-demonstration on the steps at Kikar Zion, separated from the right-wing demonstration by a line of police

From Jerusalem summer 2014

Here's one of the posters held up by a member of the left-wing demonstration.

The poster reads: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor!"
From Jerusalem summer 2014

After watching the right-wing demonstration for a while, and listening to their slogans (and curses), it became clear that it was organized by Kahanists - followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who led the explicitly racist and anti-Arab movement Kach.

From Jerusalem summer 2014

From Jerusalem summer 2014

Notice the man in the center of the photo. His white t-shirt shows the face of Meir Kahane.
From Jerusalem summer 2014
The man on the right has a circular sticker on the his shirt - with the words "Kahane was right."
From Jerusalem summer 2014
Two more of the leaders of the demonstration. The one on the right is wearing the "Kahane was right" sticker, the one on the left is holding a Kahanist banner (I can't quite figure out the words).
From Jerusalem summer 2014
The man in the center of the photo with a blue shirt - it reads "Im Tirtzu." This is a right-wing organization that has fascist tendencies. (The Kahanists are a clearly fascist, racist organization).

From Jerusalem summer 2014
A few people gathering at the beginning of the demonstration, carrying Israeli flags.

This is a short video of the demonstrations.
From Jerusalem summer 2014
From Jerusalem summer 2014

No words, but a feeling of shame

4 boys playing on the beach in Gaza killed by Israeli strike: Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach, and Into Center of Mideast Strife. There are no words, only a feeling of shame. A complete ceasefire is the only possible option.

GAZA CITY — The four Bakr boys were young cousins, the children of Gaza fishermen who had ordered them to stay indoors — and especially away from the beach. But cooped up for nine days during Israeli bombardments, the children defied their parents and went out Wednesday afternoon, the eldest shooing away his little brother, telling him it was too dangerous. 
As they played on and around a jetty in the late-afternoon sun, a blast hit a nearby shack. One boy was killed instantly. The others ran. There was a second blast, and three more bodies littered the sand. One was charred, missing a leg, and another lay motionless, his curly head intact, his legs splayed at unnatural angles.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The road that should not be taken: an Israeli invasion of Gaza

Gaza Invasion Is Likely, Israeli Official Says
TEL AVIV — A senior Israeli military official said Wednesday the likelihood of a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip was “very high,” and that “if you want to efficiently fight terrorism you must be present, boots on the ground.” 
The official, who has been briefing Israeli ministers who make strategic decisions, said his assessment was based on “the signals I get” and the diminishing returns of aerial bombardment after nine days. He said an Israeli takeover of Gaza is “not a huge challenge,” estimating it would take “a matter of days or weeks,” but that preventing a more dangerous devolution in the coastal enclave would require an occupation “of many months.” 
“Every day that passes makes the possibility more evident,” the official told a handful of international journalists in a briefing at the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters. “We can hurt them very hard from the air but not get rid of them.” He spoke on the condition of anonymity under military protocol.
Over 200 Palestinians have now been killed in Gaza, including four boys who were just killed today as they were playing soccer on the beach. Over a thousands missiles and mortars have been fired into Israel, most of them into the communities closest to Gaza and southern cities like Beer Sheva, Ashdod, and Ashkelon. One Israeli was killed by a mortar and two died of heart attacks when they were rushing to shelter. The loss of life and the physical damage in Israel is far less than in Gaza, but life in southern Israel has been extremely disrupted by the barrages of rockets. People have to run to the shelter every time they hear the sirens - it must be very hard to get anything done, especially if you have to leave your home to go to work, shopping, to school, etc. 

The mere thought that there might be a ground invasion of Gaza, especially if it is then followed by an "occupation of many months," as the "senior Israeli military official" is quoted below, is unbearable. Probably hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians would be killed in such an invasion, and I would expect significant Israeli casualties as well. If life for Gazans is unbearable now, just imagine what it will be during and after the invasion. Even more buildings would be destroyed, more families would lose everything they have. And then what? If Israel takes over Gaza again, it once again becomes the occupying power, responsible for the lives of the Gazans. And of course, there would be constant attacks against the soldiers.

When people talk about reinvading and reoccupying Gaza, I always wonder how they have so quickly forgotten why Israel left Gaza. I remember the constant fear that Israeli soldiers would be killed - friends of mine at the time who had sons in the army were always afraid that they would be sent to Gaza.

The obvious choice is to negotiate with Hamas. Even if it doesn't result in a final agreement, achieving a modus vivendi that would improve the lives of the ordinary people of Gaza would be a good accomplishment.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Light Rail in Jerusalem returning to full service

Good New York Times article, by Jodi Rudoren, on the light rail in Jerusalem. Two stations in Shuafat were destroyed by the rioting after the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and City Pass, the company that manages the train service, has cleaned up the tracks (which were littered with rocks and destroyed parts of the stations) to make it possible for the trains to run again. There's a good short video on the Times site, but I can't manage to embed it here.
But symbols are also important. In a city of 500,000 Jewish residents and 300,000 Arab residents — one often called “mixed” though “divided” is a more apt description — the light rail was, for some, a sign of progress: A rare sliver where devout and hedonistic, new arrivals and ancestral natives, soldiers and tourists and, yes, Palestinians and Jews paid the same $2 fare and watched out the same windows as they passed the ancient stones of Jerusalem’s Old City and the modern marvel of Santiago Calatrava’s “Bridge of Strings.”....
Opened in 2011 after the usual development delays plus problems particular to the region — like a squabble over whether the East Jerusalem station names should be Hebrew or Arabic — the light rail cost an estimated $1 billion to build. Before the recent crisis, it had 140,000 riders daily. 
They did not hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” Last year, Yossi Klein Halevi, a respected American-Israeli author, wrote about barely managing to stop a religious Jew from assaulting a young Arab man who was riding the rail with a young Jewish woman. Mr. Halevi, who himself is religious, was hit with pepper spray by a gathering mob, and, after identifying the culprit to the police, was told, “You’ve lost the world to come, and also this world.” 
Nearly a year before the Shuafat riots that shattered the city’s light-rail spine, Mr. Halevi wrote, “the streets of Jerusalem seem increasingly threatened with anarchy.”
An article in Haaretz says that full service has resumed.

Honenu, defenders of those accused of murdering Muhammad Abu Khdeir, excuse murder

Honenu, the organzation that is defending the suspects in the Abu Khdeir case, writes on its website that, "Soldiers and civilians who find themselves in legal entanglements due to defending themselves against Arab aggression, or due to their love for Israel, have an organization that will come to their aid 24 hours a day."

How does the brutal murder of an Arab boy fit into the categories of "defending" against Arab aggression or "loving" Israel?

In the English version of the article from yesterday which said that the accused will be pleading temporary insanity, "The group said that defending these suspects was in keeping with its mission.
'Given the crazy, abnormal situation in the country, it’s natural that among the many people who approach us, some have been emotionally scarred by the security situation or by difficult personal circumstances and responded accordingly,' Honenu chief Shmuel Medad told the newspaper Besheva. 'Apparently this is such a case.'”

A disgusting justification for murder.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What we know about the suspects in the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir

There’s an important article in Haaretz, published on July 8, which hasn’t yet been translated into English, about the suspects in the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. The story is much more accurate than previous articles about the suspects, which fingered them as members of La Familia (the racist supporters of Beitar Yerushalayim) or of other racist groups in Jerusalem. Here is some of the important information in the article.

One of the suspects is an adult, while the other six are younger. (Three of the younger suspects have already been released). They are from religious neighborhoods (other articles report that they are from Har Nof in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, and those still in custody are from Har Nof, Beit Shemesh and another community outside Jerusalem which has been identified as Adam - this is where the older man lives). The older man works in an optician’s store in Jerusalem and supports a family. It belongs to a chain with many stores also in Haredi communities. A store belonging to this chain played a crucial role in identifying the bodies of the three murdered Jewish young men. From the article, “The optician’s store in the city Elad only last week had a central role in the identification of the bodies of the three kidnapped Jews, because the workers there provided to the Shin Bet and the police the certain identification of the pair of glasses of Ayal Yifrach, who was a customer in the store.”

They all come from a Haredi background, but have “left the path” of Haredi Judaism, although they still haven’t physically left the community. One of the minors studied in a highly respected Haredi yeshiva high school, but “fell” from the path. He had been expected to be a very successful scholar.

The suspects are related to two very well-known Haredi rabbinic scholars and teachers. To quote from the article, “Straying like this from the path is something known in all three of the communities, but no one anticipated that this straying would include also the burning to death of an innocent boy.”

The father of three of the suspects, who are brothers, is known as a educator in the Haredi Sephardic community. From the article, “In Shas they explain the severe response of the spiritual leader of the movement, Rav Shalom Cohen – who ruled that the murderers are subject to ‘din rodef’ – with horror that comes from his (the educator’s) renown among the community from which the suspects in the murder come, because this is flesh from the flesh of the movement, and also from its Torah elite. The chief rabbi of Israel, Yitzhak Yosef, also harshly denounced the murder, and even requested to visit the mourning tent of the family of Abu Khdeir (the visit did not occur because of instructions from the Shin Bet).”

From the article, “The other pair of brothers, who are also suspects, grew up and lived in an area which is full of Haredi yeshivot and Torah institutions, and also with stores in which Arabs work. The workers did not speak of harassment, but the owner of one of the stores told about street gangs who every so often would ‘make revolting remarks.’”

Similar articles have appeared in the Jerusalem Post and Ynet, so it is apparent that reporters for these papers have received leaks from the police, and probably already know the names of the accused. The same would be true for the neighbors of those arrested, and for the respected leaders of the Shas and the Sephardic Haredi community. So potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of people know who they are.

Yet the police have not released their names. My assumption is that since there is still a court-ordered gag order, the family of Muhammad Abu Khdeir do not know who has been accused of brutally murdering their son. Why? The suspects in this case have reconstructed the crime for the police. On the other hand, Israel named the supposed murderers of the three Jewish boys long before their bodies were found - and they haven't even found them yet.

A subsequent article in Haaretz, by Nir Hasson, reports that the attorneys for the accused intend to make an insanity plea to get them off - arguing that they were not sane at the time they committed the act. Someone close to the two minors said, "They live at the edge of society, and they are people who do not function." The youths themselves say that their intention was not to kill - things happened that led to burning (Muhammad) and to murder without their intending to. The person close to the minors said that "This was not planned as revenge, this was an occurrence that just happened, and one thing led to another."

I personally cannot imagine how things could "just happen" so that the end Muhammad was so cruelly murdered. I think this was a crime of intention - at the very least they had to find a can and fill it with gas in order to burn him up. The arguments that the person "close" to the minors is making do not prove at all they were not responsible for their actions. These young people grew up in good families and received an education, which I am sure included the prohibition of murder. How could they possibly claim they don't know the difference between right and wrong? This is just an excuse, and I hope the judge does not fall for it.

The indictment of the three should be issued this Friday, if there are not changes at the last minute. Perhaps then the names of the accused will finally be revealed.

Jewish Voice for Peace anti-Israel protest in Boston turns antisemitic

Jewish Voice for Peace organized an anti-Israel rally in Boston that included chants of "Jesus killers" and "drop dead" towards a small group of pro-Israel students.
Organized by activist Adam Akkad and Jewish Voice for Peace’s local chapter, the demonstrators protested the Israel Defense Force’s current Operation Protective Edge, but made no reference to the hundreds of Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians, or the use of Gaza civilians as human shields for Hamas....
Among the Israel supporters, several young Jewish communal professionals encouraged students to stand their ground and come up with their own chants and banners. 
“They said some nasty things, like calling us Jesus killers, asking how many babies we had each murdered, telling us we would burn,” said Samantha Mandeles, a former student activist who now trains students in Israel advocacy for CAMERA.
“There was one woman — the one who assaulted Chloe [Valdary] — who was screeching to me that I should ‘rape my ass with the flag,’ but I ignored her, even as she slapped the end of my flag as it waved it the wind,” Mandeles told the Times of Israel on Saturday....
Following their protest outside the Israeli consulate, demonstrators held another anti-Israel gathering on the Boston Common. Protestors then picketed outside three companies they called “complicit in the genocide” by supporting Israel, including Macy’s and TIAA-CREF, the retirement fund.
Staffers at the Israeli consulate filmed the protest on their cellphones, and it's clear from the videos that not very many people attended.

And, by the way, Israel is not committing genocide in Gaza (or anywhere else). As much as I am against this war, it's clear that Israel is not carpet-bombing Gaza. Too many people have died, especially innocent children and women who have no influence on what the Hamas leadership decides, but Israel neither intends to exterminate the Palestinians of Gaza nor is it actually exterminating them.

Thus Macy's and TIAA-CREF are not "complicit in genocide."

Photos from today's visit to the Old City

Today I finally visited the Old City, and here are some of my photos. First, I met friends at the Mamilla mall, and we had breakfast together. Then I took a leisurely walk along Mamilla Street. There are a number of small sculptures displayed along the street, and this is one that I particularly liked.

Looking down at the Western Wall, with a view of the Dome of the Rock and a minaret next to it.

A view of the entire wall. The women's section has been enlarged, and there are now places to shelter from the sun. One of them is the ramp that goes up to the Temple Mount.

Close up of the Dome and minaret.

Behind the Dome, on the left, is the Mt. Scopus campus of Hebrew University.

Looking north.

Dome of the Rock

Another look northward.

Minaret of Al Aksa, and to the right, Silwan.

Robinson's Arch.

A beautiful Chihuly glass sculpture in the entry hall of the Wohl center of Aish ha-Torah.

This is the new south wall of the women's section of the Kotel - built by the Mamelukes, my friend Dani tells me. Nonetheless, people have put little pieces of paper with prayers written on them, as they do with the Western Wall itself.

Underneath the steel girders that hold up the ramp.

The Mameluke wall, with shelves full of prayerbooks to the right.

Women praying at the Kotel.

A nun, and a whole row of tourists praying at the wall (see their yellow baseball caps).

More tourists.

A woman dressed all in black praying in a covered area in the women's section of the Kotel.

Closeup of Robinson's Arch.

A Herodian stone in the western wall of the Temple Mount, in the section now called Ezrat Yisrael, to the right of the ramp. This is the area that has been designated for egalitarian prayer.

Huge stone blocks from the fall of the Second Temple.

The minaret next to Al Aksa mosque.

The minaret next to the Dome of the Rock.