Something from the school…

When I was at school, admittedly a long time ago, if I brought anything home from school it was (a) food left over from my packed lunch; (b) a notice about a parents’ evening; or (c) my report card. In Israel, it appears, you can bring home something quite different.

From the Jerusalem Post:

The Education Ministry will summon the principal of a Beit Shemesh elementary school to a disciplinary hearing after students were given letters printed on school letterhead encouraging parents to vote for Mayor Moshe Abutbol.

“The school’s actions were quite serious, as it used school property and infrastructure for election campaigning, which is against election laws which clearly prohibit political activity within school frameworks,” a spokesman for the Education Ministry wrote in a statement.

The ministry said it would also review “the laws and procedures pertaining to election campaigning” with school supervisors prior to next week’s election.

The letters, given to students in sealed envelopes at the Darchei Noam school on Tuesday, featured the school’s logo in the header and the logo for the ultra-Orthodox Chen electoral list at the bottom. It was signed by Lavey Freedman and Moshe Pinchas, co-founders of the organization that created the school.

“On behalf of the entire Darchei Noam family and all the children in the school, we ask that everyone show their hakaras hatov [gratitude] and support Mayor Moshe Abutbol and the accompanying Chen party in next week’s municipal election,” the letter read.

In a “clarification” email sent to parents on Wednesday, Freedman and Pinchas said they were speaking as individuals and not on behalf of the school. But they reiterated their support for Abutbol, writing that “it is our obligation to inform the parents of certain facts relating to the upcoming elections.”

A spokesman for Abutbol, Hanoch Bressler, distanced the mayor’s reelection campaign from the Chen letter.

“This is not connected to us at all,” he wrote The Jerusalem Post in an email. “This is an initiative of the Chen party.”

The Chen party could not be reached for comment.

A representative for Eli Cohen, Abutbol’s opponent, praised the ministry’s decision to investigate the actions of the school.

“This attempt to apply unlawful pressure on residents is just another attempt to subvert the democratic process along with other practices implemented by the Abutbul campaign,” the representative said in an email.

Politics – Israeli style. Don’t you just love it?

Israel the superpower

…in debating. From the Jerusalem Post:

That Israel is an international hi-tech superpower is a source of endless pride for Israelis. What is less well known is that in the past decade Israel has become an international superpower in another arena: competitive debating.

Debating is an unusual sport. Teams (pairs of speakers) are given a motion (a proposition in the form “This House Would/Believes”) and told to speak either in favor of it or against – and no, they can’t pick. They then have 15 minutes to prepare; each debater gives a seven-minute speech. Motions can touch on virtually any subject, from international relations to popular culture, so debaters have to keep abreast of current affairs and then think fast on their feet. This is a talent that Israel has in bucket-loads, and it’s a natural resource that the Jewish state has only just begun to tap into.

Israel recently conquered the world with a hat-trick of consecutive victories at the World Universities Debating Championships in the English as a Second Language (ESL) category, as Tel Aviv’s Yoni Cohen-Idov and Uri Merhav (2010), Haifa’s Michael Shapira and Meir Yarom (2011) and Tel Aviv’s Omer and Sella Nevo (2012) were named World Champions. In 2013 in Berlin, Alon van Dam and Ben Gladnikoff from the IDC Herzliya’s Raphael Recanati International School reached the ESL World Final, and Tel Aviv’s Kobi Matsri won the Public Speaking Competition.

In Europe, the Israeli Debating League is a veritable juggernaut. The annual European Universities Debating Championship hosts over 200 teams from across Europe. Israel consistently sends the tournament’s third-largest delegation, with 11 percent of all teams – behind only the UK (35%) and Ireland (14%).

This makes Israel the most active of all non-Anglophone countries on the European circuit and by far the most active per capita. Only the Netherlands and Germany come close to the behemoth-sized Israeli debating machine, with 7% apiece; the rest of Europe trails behind.


I have my theory about what is going on, but I’m happy enough with the explanation given in the article. Read it all, here.

What drives the ICRC?

What motivates the ICRC?

This is their mission statement:

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.

The ICRC also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.

Established in 1863, the ICRC is at the origin of the Geneva Conventions and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It directs and coordinates the international activities conducted by the Movement in armed conflicts and other situations of violence.

In following that mission statement, the ICRC are active in the Middle East. But the lofty words there are not matched by their political posturing. Their organization is riven with hate for Israel and its Star of David symbol, and outright bias and prejudice. (See here and here.) And their fixation on the Jewish State is reflected in their apparent continuing dishonesty.

The only things that can be clearly demonstrated are that the ICRC is using a harsher standard against Jewish state than it has used against any other country in recorded history, that its anti-Israel standard has no basis in international law as it is currently understood and applied, and that ICRC employees advocate the ICRC’s anti-Israel position by means of falsehoods and disingenuous argumentation. Until an ICRC employee is willing to be more forthcoming, the reasons for the ICRC’s bias against the world’s only Jewish state will remain a mystery.

The latter exposure comes from this highly significant expose by the inimitable Elder of Ziyon. Read it all (here) and see how a supposed international, respected body just cannot see straight when it comes to Israel.

So, what drives the ICRC? In my opinion, based on the available evidence, when it comes to Israel the answer is not one they should be proud of.

Quote of the week

Source: IDF Blog

Source: IDF Blog

From a Ynet article about the newly discovered terror tunnel:

“Hamas invests tens of millions of dollars in digging tunnels instead of investing them in the community, in building houses and schools, businesses and industry.”

Those who claim to be pro-Palestinian, but are generally anti-Israel, should be reminded again, again, and again, that this is one true measure of the state of hate that Hamas delivers.

The Jewels of Paradise – Donna Leon

In a word: dull.

In another word: disappointing.

In a paragraph: one of my favorite authors cast asides her top crime character – Commisario Brunetti – to show off her impressive knowledge of Venice and baroque music with different players. The plot’s a stinker, the characters are fit for cereal packets only, and the pace is so slow, it was a real struggle at times to keep going. Fine language and a great backdrop do not rescue this.  Awful.

Score: 4/10.


Yes, what a surprise. I mean, everyone’s got to have been bowled over and shocked to the core by these events:

Palestinians have wasted €2 billion in aid

My comment: you can probably say at least €2 billion in aid

Hamas used 500 tons of cement for underground passage – a ‘terror tunnel’ from Gaza to Israel

My comment: remind me again why we should be sending any non essential supplies into Gaza*?

Next up: what bears do in woods..

*By the way chaps, I though this Hamas quote from the BBC coverage was a cracker:

Gaza’s Hamas rulers accused Israel of “exaggerating things”.


Knights of Jerusalem


Source: Wikimedia/Paul Friel (

I know nothing about the following Jerusalem based event, other than what is in the featured piece below. But it’s a Guardian mention of Israel and Jerusalem which is possibly unique, as it has no anti Israel bias!

The introduction:

Into battle with the Knights of Jerusalem – in pictures

The Knights of Jerusalem historical festival is now in its fifth year and is the only known Israeli tournament accredited by the Historical Medieval Вattle International Association. The festival features re-enactments of medieval battles, with enthusiasts from around the world fighting with full armour and swords.

You can see the action, here.