Netanyahu at Entebbe memorial: We fight terror fearlessly

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a state ceremony commemorating 40 years since Operation Entebbe, July 10, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a state ceremony commemorating 40 years since Operation Entebbe, July 10, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Story via The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday to continue taking action to defeat terror, during a memorial to mark the 40th anniversary of the rescue of Israeli hostages held by terrorists at Entebbe airport in Uganda in 1976.

His brother Yonatan was killed rescuing the hostages held by German and Palestinian hijackers. In Hebrew, the operation is dubbed “Operation Yoni.”

Speaking at the ceremony in Jerusalem, the prime minister called the mission “the most impressive hostage rescue operation in history.”

“Bold steps for the security of the state are taken all the time, even thousands of miles from home,” Netanyahu said, stressing that Israel “will continue to act fearlessly against terror.”

Read the whole story at The Times of Israel.

Islamic State Uses Social Media to Sell Sex Slaves

(AP Photo/Balint Szlanko)

“Even if I had lost both eyes, it would have been worth it, because I have survived them.”

Captured and enslaved by ISIS, 18-year-old Lamiya Aji Bashar escaped with her life despite tripping over a land mine that scarred her face and blinded her right eye. Her harrowing tale of abuse at the hands of barbaric savages is shocking, not only for its brutality, but for the world’s casual complacency towards thousands of victims just like her.

Officials estimate roughly 3,000 Yazidi women and girls are held as sex slaves by ISIS fighters in the Middle East. Viewed as subhuman because of their faith (a combination of Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism), these victims were captured in August 2014 and have endured two years of unspeakable horror. Some were liberated by international donors who bought their freedom, while others like Lamiya risked everything to escape with a smuggler. Those who remain in captivity are raped, beaten, and tortured into submission. Five of Lamiya’s sisters and a younger brother have also escaped, but her 9-year-old sister is still in an ISIS camp somewhere.

Known for their prolific use of social media to recruit fighters and inspire terrorism across the globe, ISIS is also using new media technology to sell, trade, and track their sex slaves. Business is booming. On Facebook, Telegram, and WhatsApp postings for young women and children offer their bodies for cash, ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousands. Virgins fetch a premium. The enslaved victims are often dressed up in fancy clothes and heavy makeup and posed in luxurious settings. ISIS also carefully tracks each slave and their owner, passing photos and names around anytime someone tries to escape.

Shutting down the slave trade is made more difficult by the encrypted apps they use. WhatsApp and Telegram, both owned by Facebook, do not store user’s data and cannot access private conversations. The terrorists take full advantage of the built-in privacy, although the social media companies encourage users to report ISIS groups and remove their accounts when they are discovered.

It is abhorrent that thousands of innocent women and children have been trafficked, abused, and raped on a daily basis for the last two years and the world has done very little to stop it or even talk about it. It is grotesque that the profit from their sexual slavery is used to fund terrorism and enrich ISIS warlords. It is appalling that they do so openly on social media platforms and use our own love of freedom and privacy against us. And it is alarming that this use of encrypted social media means we have entered a new phase of the fight against terrorism – one where any rogue jihadist can join up with ISIS or Hamas or Hezbollah or any other terror network and remain virtually undetected by the authorities.

As people who love freedom and value human life, we owe it to girls like Lamiya to speak out against the savagery of ISIS and do everything we can to rescue the Yazidi people and other minorities persecuted by the Islamic State. We cannot allow the world to continue looking the other way. In the immortal words of the recently departed Elie Wiesel,

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

Read more about this story at The Daily Mail.

6 tried and true ways to beat BDS

David Brog 1

Story via The Times of Israel.

BDS. For over a decade this movement slowly spread while most of us in the pro-Israel community underestimated it. Then almost overnight we shifted from denial to panic. Some days it seems that BDS is the only topic we’re able to talk about anymore.

Between ignoring and obsessing lay the productive middle ground of fighting back on a sustained basis. A movement that has grown though multiple years of hard work at the grassroots can only be stopped by multiple years of hard work at the grassroots. No number of conferences or studies can change this fact.

1. No Silver Bullet
Everyone you talk to has “the answer.” And the answer is always different. Teach the fundamentals of the conflict. Never mention the conflict. Attack SJP. Ignore SJP. Bring lecturers to campus. Bring singers. All of the above are true at times. None alone are game changers.

2. Local Partners Are Key
Our most effective partners were those who actually live on campus: both campus-based student activists and the campus-based professionals of Hillel, Chabad and the wonderful Israel Fellows. Every successful event we funded was planned and implemented in close coordination with these local stakeholders.

3. Take Back the Quad
BDS supporters hold week-long, public events like “Israel Apartheid Week” to publicize their positions. Why don’t we? Together with our partners, we hosted public, week-long Israel celebrations on each of our six campuses. If part of this fight is about the environment on campus, then we must be part of that environment.

Read the whole story at The Times of Israel.

New mosaics discovered in synagogue excavations in Galilee


Story via Science Blog.

Excavations this summer in the Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel’s Lower Galilee, have revealed stunning new mosaics that decorated the floor. The excavations are directed by Jodi Magness, a professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill College of Arts and Sciences, along with Assistant Director Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The mosaic panels decorating the floor of the synagogue’s nave (center of the hall) portray two biblical stories: Noah’s Ark and the parting of the Red Sea. The panel with Noah’s Ark depicts an ark and pairs of animals, including elephants, leopards, donkeys, snakes, bears, lions, ostriches, camels, sheep and goats. The scene of the parting of the Red Sea shows Pharaoh’s soldiers being swallowed by large fish, surrounded by overturned chariots with horses and chariot drivers.

“These scenes are very rare in ancient synagogues. The only other examples that have been found are at Gerasa/Jerash in Jordan and Mopsuestia/Misis in Turkey (Noah’s Ark), and at Khirbet Wadi Hamam in Israel and Dura Europos in Syria (the parting of the Red Sea).” – Jodi Magness, Kenan Distinguished Professor

Read the whole story at Science Blog.