IAF Pilot Killed During Crash Landing
(JPost.com) An Israel Air Force pilot was killed during a crash landing of an F-16I jet fighter jet in southern Israel on Wednesday evening. The aircraft’s navigator ejected from the plane and escaped with only minor injuries. The pilot’s name was not released for publication by press time.
The jet, which was landing at Ramon Air Force Base in the Negev after conducting an airstrike on the Gaza Strip, caught fire. IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel has appointed an investigation.
In July 2013, an F-16I on a training flight crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, some 50 km. off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The two-seater jet fighter was taking part in a training exercise in which it attempted an interception. In that incident, the plane’s pilot, an IAF flight instructor and navigator, who was being trained, safely ejected from the aircraft and parachuted to the sea before being rescued.
In November 2010, an IAF pilot and navigator were killed when their F-16I fighter jet crashed in southern Israel. The jet was leading four aircraft in a training exercise when it suddenly fell to the ground without reporting any problems.
In September 2009, an F-16 crashed outside of Hebron, killing Assaf Ramon, the son of astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, who died in the Columbia explosion in 2003.
Women’s Flotilla Intercepted as It Attempted to Breach Gaza Blockade
(combined sources) The ‘Women’s Boat to Gaza’ was due to arrive in Israeli waters Wednesday. The ship, a yacht called Zaytouna-Oliva, carried 13 female activists and set sail from Spain in September as part of a wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition to break the Israeli Navy’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
At 2:50 pm local time on Wednesday, all contact was allegedly lost with the vessel. Later, after calls to the ship for cooperation were answered negatively by the crew, Israeli Navy fighters commandeered the ship before its arrival in Gaza. The IDF has stated that the process was short, and without injuries.
According to the IDF, the action was taken after a number of requests were made to the crew at different distances from the ship. After it became apparent that the crew was not going to cooperate, it was decided to commandeer the ship in to prevent the breaking of the blockade—which is legal—and to tow the ship to Ashdod.
Activists aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva, which set sail from the Spanish city of Barcelona last month, reportedly include Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright, Swedish and Algerian lawmakers, a South African Olympic athlete and a Malaysian doctor.
The all-female initiative sought to break Israel’s decade-long “blockade” of the Gaza Strip and show solidarity with the women of Gaza. No humanitarian aid was involved in this endeavor; it was a purely ideological maneuver, designed to make a statement, nothing more.
Fifty-five members of the EU Parliament supported the flotilla and asked EU Foreign Affairs chief Federica Mogherini to pressure Israel to allow the ship to reach Gaza’s port.
Kaine, Pence Invoke Israel, Iran Nuke Deal in VP Debate
(JNS.org) Vice presidential nominees Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) both invoked Israel during a lively discussion over the merits of the Iranian nuclear deal in the first and only vice presidential debate at Virginia’s Longwood University Tuesday night.
Kaine, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s running mate, repeatedly praised the Iran nuclear deal throughout the debate as having “stopped” the nuclear program “without firing a shot.”
However, Pence, billionaire businessman Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate, shot back at one point, saying, “You didn’t stop the nuclear weapons program. You essentially guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power because there’s no limitations once the period time of the treaty comes off.”
Invoking Israel, Kaine said that “even the Israeli military says it stopped.”
Later in the debate, when the issue of the Iran nuclear program came up again, Pence criticized Kaine for “boycotting” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress in March 2015 over the dangers of the nuclear deal.
Pence also again disputed Kaine’s claim that the deal prevented Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, saying, “Well, that’s not what Israel thinks.”
“Gadi Eisenkot, you can go check it,”
Kaine responded, naming the IDF’s chief of staff.
Earlier this year, Eisenkot said in a speech that the deal was a “historic turning point” and that it marked “a big change in terms of the direction that Iran was headed, and in the way that we saw things.” However, the IDF chief stopped short of ever endorsing the deal.
Israeli, World Leaders Bid Farewell to President Peres
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres, was laid to rest Friday in a state service held at Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery in Jerusalem. Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum, alongside dignitaries from 70 countries worldwide, attended the funeral.
Peres’ coffin was taken to Mount Herzl on Friday morning, arriving at the national cemetery at 8:30 a.m. The official state service was held at 9:30 a.m., with some 5,000 people in attendance.
President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, author Amos Oz, and the late president’s three children, Tsvia, Yoni and Chemi, spoke at the service. U.S. President Barack Obama was the last to pay tribute to the late Israeli president.
President Reuven Rivlin eulogized Peres as one whose efforts to promote peace were inspiring. “You were not just a man of vision, but a man of action. I was privileged to watch you with amazement, as a partner in the construction of the State of Israel from its inception,” Rivlin said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of Peres’ optimism and quest for peace. “You spared no effort to strike peace. ... And in the tumultuous Middle East, where only the strong survive, peace can only be obtained if it stems from the constant guarantee of our might. Such power is but the means to an end—the purpose of existence and coexistence, prosperity, peace and progress, for us, our Palestinian neighbors and the nations of the region.”
President Obama spoke of Peres’ dream of regional peace. “He showed us that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist idea. A free life in a homeland regained, a secure life in a nation that can defend itself by itself. A full life and friendship with nations who can be counted on as allies.”
70 Secular Kibbutzim Want Communal Yom Kippur Prayers
(Arutz Sheva) In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Yair Ganz, deputy director of the Panim el Panim organization that assists those who wish to take part in communal prayers on the High Holidays, discusses an initiative that began seven years ago and has quickly caught on and drawn heavy demand.
“Seven years ago we began to provide solutions for secular kibbutzim and moshavim that wanted to establish communal Yom Kippur prayers but did not know how. They appealed to us and we organized prayers. It began with a small group of five to seven places and now there are some 70 kibbutzim and moshavim taking part in the initiative. Every year there are new ones.”
This year, for example, there are three places where communal Yom Kippur prayers had almost never existed. “In one place there had never before been prayers, in another the prayers had been in accordance with Reform customs, and in one place there had been prayers but for a number of years they had not had prayers, and now they asked us to organize communal prayers again.”
So what brings a kibbutznik to request prayers that were never part of the daily program in his locale? Is Judaism less threatening today than before? Ganz says that this is indeed the case and that more and more people wish to connect to the traditions of their grandparents. He adds that “even the Mapai members had parents who were not members of Mapai” (i.e., they were more traditional).
The scope of activity on Yom Kippur involves about 900 people who come from yeshivas, army preparatory academies, yeshiva high schools, Hesder yeshivas and from various different organizations. Ganz says that the Panim el Panim organization gives each volunteer a special kit to prepare them for the meeting with the kibbutzniks and for the holy day. The kit includes examples of subjects for group discussions on the eve of Yom Kippur, speeches to be given in the synagogue, as well as other materials for the meetings with the kibbutzniks. All these can enable each volunteer to coordinate activities and timings in accordance with the requirements and needs of each individual audience.
“Every year there are meetings between religious youth and kibbutzniks, every year it gets bigger and our event takes central stage,” says Ganz, and gives an example of a kibbutz that used to hold only Reform prayers, and afterward Panim el Panim conducted prayers in a small side building while the Reform prayers were in the community center. This year, things will be reversed, with the Orthodox prayers being held in the community center.
What about the issues of segregation that have caused such a furor in Israeli society recently? Do kibbutzim accept the segregation between males and females? Ganz says that this is a complex and controversial issue that does not just concern the organization’s work with kibbutzim but also its other work with students and soldiers.
He cited a question that had been raised just yesterday and had not yet been referred to the rabbinic counselors of the organization. “One kibbutz wants a minyan (prayer quorum) but stipulates that men and women should sit on both sides of the hall without any segregation. Is this permitted? We could add another parameter to the question—what will happen next year? Maybe if we begin this way things might change for the good by next year, and if we don’t begin there will be a Reform prayer there…” said Ganz, who left the question waiting for a response from Arutz Sheva viewers.
Livni Says Israeli Democracy Is Crumbling
(Arutz Sheva) MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) attacked statements made by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Wednesday, saying that “the settlers leading the government are weakening democracy.”
Livni’s statement came after Shaked published an article saying that “if we wish to strengthen Israel’s democratic character, it is our duty to strengthen its Jewish identity at the same time.”
According to Livni, the settlers who are leading this country only want a “greater Israel” and will do everything to weaken Israeli democracy and the judicial system that protects its values.
“In order for us not to feel like there is a clash between Judaism and democracy, the government is going through an entire secret process, which is teaching the next generation that democracy is simply a technical tool. A government that will erase what Jabotinsky and Begin stated, that we must be cautious of the opinion of the majority as the popular opinion isn’t always right.”
Their goal, Livni stated, is to have one state from the sea to the banks of the Jordan. “The result,” she explained, “will be a country with an Arab majority and a prolonged violent conflict.”
Even if Netanyahu doesn’t want to lead to a bi-national state,” Livni explained, “that’s where he is headed and that has serious consequences. When history judges him, his excuses won’t interest anybody and it will be too late. That’s why we need to act now.”
Livini emphasized that a Jewish state is important to her as well. “But I have a continued dispute with the government, what it says and what its values are: a Jewish state with equality and tolerance for its neighbors—yes. A Jewish state with hate that leaves women behind and calls for death to Arabs—no,” she said.
“A Jewish state that upholds its values with a strong judicial system that keeps the law and interprets it accordingly—yes. A Jewish state where extremist rabbis are the ones who decide—no,” MK Livni added.
Addressing what has been seen by some as a conflict between competing ideals, Shaked explained that Jewishness and democracy “are not contradictory. On the contrary, I believe that they reinforce each other. I believe we will be a more democratic state as we become a more Jewish state, and we will become more Jewish as we become more democratic.”
Senators Introduce ‘Taylor Force Act’ to Cut Palestinian Funding Over Terror Rewards
(JNS.org) A group of leading Republican senators introduced legislation seeking to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards for terrorism.
U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), Dan Coats (R-IN.) and Roy Blunt (R-MO.) introduced the Taylor Force Act, which would require the U.S. secretary of state to certify that the Palestinian Authority has ended its policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members. The bill also calls on the PA to publicly condemn terror attacks and to take steps to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The legislation, called the Taylor Force Act, was named after the American veteran who was stabbed to death in a Palestinian terror attack that left 10 others wounded in Jaffa last March. Force, 29, served tours of duty in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and was a graduate of West Point Military Academy. He was in Israel as part of a Vanderbilt University school trip.
“This legislation shines a light on a very real problem,” Graham said. “Why is the Palestinian Authority paying young Palestinians to commit acts of terror against innocent Americans like Taylor Force or Israelis? The Palestinians need to decide—do they condemn these horrible acts or do they reward them? You can’t be a partner in peace when you are paying people to commit terrorist acts. The choice the Palestinians make will determine the type of relationship they have with the United States in the years to come.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement saying that “ending the PA’s funding of terrorism shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and we urge everyone—Republicans, Democrats and Independents—to stand with this important legislation.”
Jewish Leaders Slam Philippine President for Macabre Holocaust Remark
(JNS.org) Global Jewish leaders are condemning Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who compared his effort to combat drug use to the Holocaust.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews... there’re three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said, a remark that World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder called “profoundly inhumane.”
“It demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life that is truly heartbreaking for the democratically elected leader of a great country,” he said.
The comment was “inappropriate and deeply offensive,” said the Anti-Defamation League in a statement.
Duterte’s crackdown on drug dealers and users, which he launched since taking office in June, has resulted in the death of more than 3,000. The Philippine leader made the controversial comment during a speech in Davao.
“At least, if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…” Duterte said as he pointed at himself, the BBC reported.