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Gaza War Brings Down L’Internet in France

Trolls come out strong for the Jews

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France’s online forums, those virtual bastions of Liberté, Égalité, and Fraternité, are the unsung victims of Operation Protective Edge: with three times the amount of user-generated comments, most of them heinous, forum moderators are collapsing under the weight of inane vitriol.

“As soon as you talk about Israel, it crystallizes all passions, with up to 20,000 or 30,000 comments sometimes after an article, of which we will only let five to 10 percent through,” David Corchia of Concileo, a company that helps manage the websites for such leading newspapers as Le Figaro and Liberation, told the AFP. The average comment rejection rate in stories unrelated to Israel, he added, was much lower, hovering at around 25 to 40 percent. (more…)

Anti-Israel Protests Make the Case for Israel

As protestors’ rhetoric heats up across Europe, many Jews feel safer in Israel

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Restaurant in Sarcelles, a northern Paris suburb, damaged on July 20, 2014 after a rally against Israel's Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

The case for Israel is now playing out on the streets of Paris.

Over the weekend, pro-Palestinian rioters marched into a Jewish suburb in the French capital to break Jewish things. They torched cars, lobbed firebombs into a synagogue, and burnt Jewish-owned stores to the ground. One group of men reportedly spoke loudly of “hunting Jews and killing them.” That followed last weekend’s attempt to storm two other Parisian synagogues to a chorus of “Death to Jews!” and “Hitler was right!” They were only held in check by Jewish vigilantes who took up arms to defend those trapped inside. (more…)

FAA Suspends Flights From U.S. to Israel

Flights halted for 24 hours after Hamas rocket lands near Ben Gurion airport

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The Federal Aviation Administration has halted all U.S. flights to Israel Tuesday for a 24 hour period after a Hamas rocket landed about a mile from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

“The FAA immediately notified U.S. carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing [the notice],” the agency said in a statement. “The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation.”

Delta had to redirect an Israel-bound flight already in the air from New York’s JFK airport to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. (more…)

IDF Soldier in Gaza MIA; Presumed Dead

Oron Shaul was in the armored personnel carrier hit by Hamas rocket Sunday

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Israeli soldiers from the Golani Infantry Brigade prepare their equipment and weapons near their Armoured Personnel Carrier or APC at an army deployment near the Israeli-Gaza border,on July 19, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Image)

Bitter news greeted both Israelis and Palestinians on Tuesday, the 15th day of Operation Protective Edge, as the IDF confirmed that a soldier is missing in action in Gaza and feared dead, while further Israeli strikes on the Strip brought the Palestinian death toll to more than 600.

The soldier was named as 21-year-old Oron Shaul of Poriah, who was in the armored personnel carrier hit by a Hamas rocket in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Six of the seven bodies of the soldiers in the vehicle have been accounted for, but there is still no final word on if Shaul is alive or if Hamas is in fact holding his body. (more…)

Inside the Hamas Tunnel Terror Network

IDF forces say they’ve uncovered more than 23 tunnels and 66 access points

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A view of a tunnel reportedly dug by Palestinians beneath the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel and recently uncovered by Israeli troops, on October 13, 2013.(DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)

The Israel Defense Forces’ ground incursion into Gaza which began last week had a very specific aim: to target and destroy tunnels built by Hamas that stretched underground from Gaza into Israel. But the tunnel system uncovered by IDF forces in the past few days is a network far more extensive than previously thought—with four of the 25 IDF casualties occurring during confrontations with Hamas gunmen exiting the tunnels—suggesting that the military offensive, in which nearly 600 Palestinians have been killed, could yet expand in response.

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner compared the network to a subway system. “It’s like the Underground, the Metro or the subway,” he said. Lerner has also described the tunnel system as “an entire underground Gaza.” (more…)

Berlin Protesters Chant: ‘Jew, Jew, Cowardly Pig, Come on out and Fight’

Another anti-Israel rally in Europe devolves into anti-Semitism

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Participants demonstrate at a protest against Israeli military action in Gaza, on July 17, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Across Europe, many pro-Palestinian rallies have been taking a disturbing turn. Under the guise of opposing Israel’s actions in Gaza, thousands of protesters have given expression to virulent anti-Jewish sentiments–and often acted on them. In France, mobs have shouted “Death to the Jews,” and eight synagogues have been attacked. One journalist even overheard a man who “spoke loudly about ‘hunting Jews and killing them.’” In the northern suburbs of Paris, the neighborhood of one of France’s largest Jewish communities was ransacked, with cars and businesses destroyed, including a kosher grocery store that was burned down.

Elsewhere in Europe, similar scenes have unfolded. In the U.K., for example, anti-Semitic incidents have doubled, with one woman being physically assaulted by pro-Palestinian marchers in London, who called her a “Jew Zionist.” But perhaps the most striking and disturbing example of this phenomenon has come out of Germany, where one would have hoped primitive anti-Semitic mobs were a relic of history. (more…)

The Inside Scoop on How the Kerry Peace Process Crumbled

How far were Netanyahu and Abbas willing to go?

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 29, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images)

Over at The New Republic, Tablet contributor Ben Birnbaum and co-author Amir Tibon have published a riveting account of the latest attempt to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace. Drawn from over 100 interviews with American, Israeli, and Palestinian sources, the piece traces the intricacies of Secretary of State John Kerry’s abortive bid to broker a peace agreement. Full of behind-the-scenes quotes from the principals, from President Obama to Tzipi Livni to Mahmoud Abbas, it makes for engrossing reading. Some highlights: (more…)

Is Israel Finally Winning the ‘Hasbara’ Battle?

Clear goals and a ruthless enemy mean public opinion is with Israel—for now

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The trail of a rocket launched by Palestinian militants into Israel is seen from an area East of Gaza City on July 21, 2014. (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

Is this the war in which Israel finally won the ‘hasbara,’ or public perception, battle?

Although it’s not hard to find the usual criticism of Israeli “disproportionality,” and public opinion can change on a dime, what seems to make this Gaza incursion different from the many that have come before it is a notable lack of condemnation from the usual quarters.

American Jews especially are sensitive to the notion that “the world” gives the Palestinians a pass, and that “the media” want Israel to turn the other cheek. But in the current conflict’s first two weeks, Congress and the White House have been fully and loudly on board with Israel’s right to defend itself; the U.N. is quiescent; and even dependable European capitals have been slow to criticize. (British Prime Minister David Cameron, for one, expressed support for Israel today, saying, “This crisis was triggered by Hamas raining hundreds of rockets on Israeli cities, indiscriminately targeting civilians in contravention of all humanitarian law and norms.”) College campuses are on recess, and, perhaps most significantly, the Muslim world has either been distracted or—pinch me—critical of Hamas for jeopardizing innocent lives in Gaza. (more…)

Why France Banned Anti-Israel Demonstrations

Different countries use different approaches to curb hate speech

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Burning detritus are seen along the tramway line in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20, 2014, after clashes following a demonstration denouncing Israel's military campaign in Gaza and showing support to the Palestinian people. (PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/Getty Images)

Fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas sparked a wave of anti-Israel demonstrations across the world last week that continued over the weekend. Large rallies were held in Paris, London, New York, and dozens of other cities around the world. Many of the protests served as platforms for virulent anti-Semitism and resulted in violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police.

A major demonstration in London attracted 15,000 pro-Palestinian participants. Speakers called for Palestine to be free “from the river to the sea,” which many critics interpret as code for the elimination of Israel. Demonstrators waved flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, which are both political parties and also internationally recognized terrorist entities that call for the destruction of the State of Israel and a holy war against Jews. After the rally, groups of Muslim youth committed acts of vandalism and attacked Jews in a series of incidents that London police are treating as hate crimes.

The violence in France was most extreme with protestors lobbing firebombs at synagogues and laying siege to Jews gathered inside. (more…)

SodaStream Sacks 60 West Bank Workers

After employees said they didn’t get enough food after Ramadan fast ended

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View of the Israeli SodaStream factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial park, next to the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

As fighting rages in Gaza, a controversy of a different sort is brewing in the West Bank. SodaStream, the at-home carbonation system manufacturer that has been both condemned for operating a factory in the West Bank and lauded for its treatment of Palestinian employees, has reportedly fired 60 of them over a dispute concerning the food that workers received to break their Ramadan fast.

Haaretz reports that after night-shift workers informed management that they weren’t being provided with enough food to eat after their 16-hour fast ended—the factory observes Jewish dietary laws and workers are prohibited from bringing their own food—they were, according to their union’s representative, summarily fired. (more…)

Two American IDF Soldiers Killed in Gaza

Max Steinberg, 24, and Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, died during combat Sunday

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Israeli soldiers from the Golani Infantry Brigade prepare their equipment and weapons at an army deployment near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 19, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Two of the 18 IDF soldiers killed during the weekend’s heavy fighting in Gaza were Americans who had recently immigrated to Israel and enlisted in the army.

Max Steinberg, 24, was one of 13 Israeli soldiers and 65 Palestinians killed in Sunday’s major ground battle in Shejaiya. Steinberg, a sharpshooter for the Golani Brigade, was originally from Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. His father told the Associated Press that after visiting Israel on a Birthright trip in the summer of 2012, Steinberg announced that he planned to join the IDF. He moved to Beersheba six months later.

“He was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel. He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was, and he was dedicated to the work he needed to be doing,” Steinberg’s father said. (more…)

U.N. Refugee Agency Gives Rockets to Hamas

Weapons found in a Gaza school last week were turned over to authorities: Hamas

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A Palestinian child takes refuge at a U.N. school in Gaza City on July 19, 2014. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Why is Israel so distrustful of international institutions, even those that claim to have the good of children and refugees at heart? While the “global community” may be a fiction, it is nothing if not a well-meaning one. Greeting global concerns about the loss of innocent life, or the legitimate hardships of military occupation, with anger and contempt makes Israel seem churlish—and confirms depressingly widespread caricatures of a bloodthirsty entity driven by Old Testament passions to upset the peace of the entire planet.

So, when UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, announced that it had found a cache of 20 missiles beneath a U.N.-sponsored school in Gaza last week, it was hard to credit the usual pro-Israeli line that depicts the U.N. agency as working hand-in-glove with Hamas. Yes, some U.N schools and other facilities have been used to teach hatred for the Jewish state, and for Hamas summer camps and the like. And yes, U.N. officials like Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk had a long history of making statements that left little doubt about where his sympathies lay. But Falk’s term as Special Rapporteur ended earlier this year, so it made sense that UNRWA might be turning over a new leaf. (more…)

A Bloody Weekend in Gaza

18 IDF soldiers and hundreds of Palestinians killed during ground operation

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Honour Guard during the funeral of Major Tsafrir Bar-Or on July 21, 2014 in Holon, Israel.(Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

The death toll on both sides of the Gaza fighting continued to mount over the weekend, with 18 Israeli soldiers and hundreds of Palestinians killed since IDF ground forces entered the Gaza Strip late Thursday night, ushering in a new and far bloodier phase of the fighting. As of Monday the fighting had officially taken the lives of 20 Israelis—including two civilians killed by rockets—and more than 500 Palestinians, according to Palestinian sources.

In the early hours of Friday morning Sergeant Eitan Barak, a 20-year-old infantryman from Herzliya, was killed in clashes with Hamas gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip, becoming the first Israeli soldier to die in the 14-day operation. On Friday and Saturday four more soldiers were killed in the Strip. On Sunday evening, the Israeli public was floored by news that 13 soldiers, all from the Golani Brigade, had been killed in heavy combat against Hamas gunmen in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya that morning. (more…)

Saying Goodbye to Elaine Stritch

The late actress and singer left her bold and brassy mark on show business

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Elaine Stritch performs during a White House music series concert at the White House July 19, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Elaine Stritch would probably have been pleased to know that news of her death on Thursday at 89 pushed world events like the conflict in Gaza or the downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 off the front pages, at least for a couple of hours. Stritch made her name not only with her great, idiosyncratic style, but as a monster; her unbridled rage as much a part of her persona as her rakish hats and perpetual pantlessness (after all, the legs are the last to go).

Watch her implode while recording her signature number, “The Ladies Who Lunch” in the documentary of the making of the original cast recording of Company. Recall her many cantankerous and profanity-laden talk show appearances. Consider the unbridled, take-no-prisoners anecdotes sprinkled throughout her award-winning one-woman show, At Liberty, which of course she always was.

She may have been an angry woman (a close friend, in a profile for the New York Times, described one of her explosions as “Medea-like”), but she was an interestingly angry one. Stritch’s aggression never stemmed from diva-tude or entitlement. She was angry not because she wanted things to be right, but because she needed them to be. Her rage didn’t mask insecurity; it was her insecurity, or rather, her vulnerability. It was the way she showed her deepest self. (more…)

Israel Pulls Embassy Staff out of Turkey

After violent protests against Israeli military action in Gaza target embassies

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Turkish protestors kick police barriers during a demonstration to denounce the Israeli military operations in Gaza on July 18, 2014 in front of the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

After violent protests against Israel’s military operation in Gaza erupted outside the Israeli embassy in Istanbul and the Israeli ambassador’s home in Ankara on Thursday, Israel announced that it would be removing most of its diplomatic staff from the country, the Times of Israel reports.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, accused Israel of state terrorism and genocide. “Israel threatens world peace. Israel threatens peace in the Middle East. Therefore, I personally, can never contemplate anything positive with Israel as long as I remain on duty,” he told reporters. (more…)

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