Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Breaking news: most stuff including Restaurants not to shut down fully: and Why are Israel's skies still closed? and just announced at least until Sept 1 and and Trump and Netanyahu face their rendezvous with destiny by Caroline Glick and Finally: National Council of Young Israel Takes on BLM Anti-Semites and First Temple Pilgrims visited the Cave of the Patriarchs and is the State of Main really North of the Canadian Border?

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Gov't changes direction: Pools, schools, restaurants to remain open

Gov't changes direction: Pools, schools, restaurants to remain open"

The decision not to close public pools and beaches is right and justified," said MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, who heads the coronavirus committee. "The beaches and swimming pools are vital."By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN  

 Pools and restaurants will not be closed just yet, according to coalition chairman Mickey Zohar, who spoke Monday at the Knesset coronavirus committee meeting. Also, schools and camps will remain open at least until Thursday.

The committee gathered again in the Knesset for another discussion about the restrictions that the government announced last week. On Sunday, a heated debate erupted over beaches and pools, which are outdoors in open spaces and where the rates of coronavirus infection are lower

The decision not to close public pools and beaches is right and justified," said MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, who heads the coronavirus committee. "The beaches and swimming pools are vital."On Twitter, opposition leader Yair Lapid also celebrated the decision:

"Congratulations to the chairman of the committee, MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, and to the members of the coronavirus committee, who fought for the State of Israel. Zohar also said that it is likely restaurants that operate in open spaces and can adhere to the Health Ministry's "Purple Ribbon" standard should also be able to continue operating.  According to Zohar, around 80% of restaurants have open spaces they can use

.The change of direction came on a day when the numbers reflected a positive shift downwards: Only 951 people were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus on Sunday, the Health Ministry reported Monday. Some 19,337 people were screened, dropping the infection rate to 5% from 7% the day before.Some 259 people are in serious condition. So far, 415 people have died.

Is Main really North of the Canadian Border?

Is Main really North of the Canadian Border?

The most northerly part of New England is in Maine at 47 degrees 19 minutes north. The border with Canada is overwhelmingly at 49 degrees north. So why does nearly every map of the USA that I have seen show Maine to be north of the Canadian border?

Every map shows correctly that the border is not (and never was) a straight line at 49 degrees. Once you put aside the misconception that the whole border is at 49 degrees, it is easy to see that Maine and other US states near the St. Lawrence river are most definitely in the US.

The border follows the 49th parallel only in the Central and West regions. At the Great Lakes, the border runs through the middle of 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. Lake Erie is the most southern of the Great Lakes, creating Canada's most southern land at 42 degrees: Point Pelee and Pelee Island, Ontario.

From this southernmost dip of the border, it starts to move northward again - through Lake Ontario and into the St. Lawrence River, all the way to the Atlantic.

The 49th parallel forms the Canada-USA border West of Ontario. To the East, the border is far more irregular and goes much farther South.

The Southernmost point in contiguous Canada is Point Pelee in Ontario with a latitude of less than 42°, Northern California, believe it or not, is at a higher latitude. And Pelee island is even further South.

Due to a bend in the Detroit river the city of Detroit, Michigan, is just North of the Ontarian city of Windsor.

As for the state of Maine about half of its area forms a wedge driven North between the Canadian provinces of Qu├ębec and New Brunswick, leaving only a narrow strip of land between its Northern tip and the St-Lawrence river.

That's because those borders were created by a more complex historical process than just making a treaty that adopted a line on a map as a border.

However, Main is entirely North of the Southernmost Canadian Border which is  With all that said, I declare this fourth source of information posits a latitude for Canada's southernmost point at 41° 40' 53.119" or 41.68142194.

 

First Temple Pilgrims visited the Cave of the Patriarchs

A study carried out on pottery items uncovered in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron suggests the cave, where according to tradition, Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs were laid to rest, was used and visited as a pilgrimage site during the First Temple Period, around 2,700 years ago.

The results of the study were published in the latest issue of the Israel Exploration Journal. Its findings could help bridge the gap of 1,600 years between the time the cave is thought to have been first used and the building of the monumental structure erected under King Herod the Great in the first century BCE.

No archaeological excavation has ever been conducted at the site, which is considered the second holiest after the Temple Mount in Judaism and also one of the holiest in Islam.

As explained to The Jerusalem Post by Ariel University archaeologist David Ben-Shlomo, a co-author of the study, the Herodian building stands on an earlier structure, possibly built in the Hasmonean period (second century BCE), which was built on top of the cave.

The entrance to the underground cave was blocked by Islamic authorities for several centuries starting from the 13th century, he said.

After Israel conquered Hebron in 1967, a very limited amount of visits occurred, while in the past decades, the space has not been accessed any more.

"In 1981, a small group entered the space, which they described as filled with dirt, bones and pottery from all kinds of periods," Ben-Shlomo said. "They collected four vessels. It was not a very accurate work, but it is all we have from this very unique site."

"The pottery dates back to around the eighth century BCE, which brings us much closer to the tradition of the story about the cave presented in the Bible," he added.

The items – fragments from a bowl, a chalice, a jug and a jar – recently underwent several compositional analyses, including petrography. Petrography is the study of rocks and minerals. Using this technique, researchers can ascertain the geological source of artifacts, which helps identify their geographical origin. In the case of the vessels found in the cave, they appear to come from different areas in the Hebron and Jerusalem region.

"We do not know for sure what was the function of the cave during the First Temple period, but we can infer that people came to visit it from different locations," Ben-Shlomo said. "Moreover, a question stands about whether new people continued to be buried there. However, there seems to be a continuation of considering this place as a holy place, as a pilgrimage site, visited from different parts of the country."

Even the Bible does not shed light on what was happening to the Tomb of the Patriarch later on: No reference to the cave appears outside of the Five Books of Moses, while Hebron is mentioned several times in the Prophets and Writings.

The many mysteries surrounding the Tomb of the Patriarchs, whose upper structure today serves as both a Jewish synagogue and a Muslim mosque with separate entrances, will not likely be solved any time soon.

However, the four pottery items, which are stored at the Museum of the Land of Judah in nearby Kiryat Arba, might offer some further insights on their ancient use, as it is possible that some of them still contain traces of organic residue.

"We hope that we will be able to carry on further analysis in the future," Ben-Shlomo said.

Why are Israel's skies still closed?

Other countries have reopened their airports with 2-step testing, but the Health Ministry refuses to back such a step in Israel.

Tens of thousands of Israelis are eager to travel abroad, the tourism industry is desperate for revenue, but the Health Ministry's opposition to the outline for coronavirus testing at airports is keeping Israel's skies closed.

Many countries in the Western world have opened their borders while creating an effective testing system at their airports. However, Israel is being left behind due to opposition from the Health Ministry.

About two months ago, two senior officials from the Health Ministry, Prof. Siegal Sadetzki and Prof. Itamar Grotto, arrived at Ben Gurion Airport to examine the conduct of the main international gateway to the State of Israel. The two examined the possibility of setting up a testing laboratory at the airport, but the ministry rejected the possibility for two reasons: a shortage of tests throughout the country at the time, and the fear that the tests would be carried out by workers at private laboratories, raising the cost significantly.

Meanwhile, Iceland, Dubai and other advanced countries have adopted a two-stage testing model that allows airports to open under certain restrictions.

How does the model work? A passenger is tested for the coronavirus in the country of origin 72 hours before departure. If the test comes back negative, the passenger is allowed to fly and is checked again upon landing in the destination country. The passenger is then sent to a hotel to wait for several hours until they receive the results of the test on their cell phone. If they test negative again then they will be allowed to tour the country.

Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett strongly criticized the Health Ministry's refusal to allow Ben Gurion Airport to reopen. "The closure of Israel's skies causes a terrible livelihood problem that affects hundreds of thousands of Israelis in some very wide circles. Israel is an island, it has no land connection to any country in the world, so we depend on flights. We cannot afford to close the airports for so long."

Bennett said that in recent weeks he has consulted with experts in Israel and around the world and formulated with them an outline for the restoration of flights to and from Israel. According to the outline, passengers will take two tests, one 72 hours before their flight and one at the airport. If both tests come back negative they will be allowed to fly.

According to data from the Health Ministry, in the last two weeks, 13,000 passengers - all immigrants or Israeli citizens - entered Israel - and only four of them were coronavirus patients

Israel to remain closed to foreign visitors until at least September

Israel to remain closed to foreign visitors until at least September

Airports Authority says current restrictions, under which entry granted only to nationals or those obtaining special permit from Immigration Authority, to stay in force

By TOI STAFFT

Restrictions preventing foreign visitors from entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic will be extended until the beginning of September, the Israel Airports Authority announced Monday.

The ban will continue until September 1 due to the recent surge in virus infections in Israel, the IAA said.

Recent weeks have seen daily infections climb consistently to nearly 2,000, although on Monday the Health Ministry reported a drop to 1,139 cases in the previous 24 hours. The death toll increased by six overnight Sunday and Monday morning, to 415.

The ongoing ban allows only returning Israeli citizens or those who obtain special permission from the Population Immigration and Border Authority to enter the country. All those who do arrive are required to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Last week Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Radio 103FM that one of the biggest impacts on the economy by the virus was the limitation of international air travel, and that reopening Israel's skies was a priority. Many carriers have canceled their routes to and from Israel, and with the infection rate climbing are not likely to change that policy anytime soon.

Israel, he continued, has an "export-orientated high-tech economy. The interaction between Israel and the world has been seriously damaged because of the aerial lockdown."

Israel closed its borders to foreign travelers in mid-March and has periodically extended the restrictions since then.

Almost all air travel to Israel was shut down due to the coronavirus restrictions, with only a handful of flights weekly, including a daily route to Newark, New Jersey, flown by United Airlines.

Several airlines have since resumed flights. Air Canada, Delta and German carrier Lufthansa all began flying to Israel in June. Budget airlines Wizz and Ryanair have also resumed flights.

Israel's tourism industry, which employs some 80,000 people and contributes some 3 percent to the gross national product, has been gutted by the virus and its impact on air travel.

Earlier this month Israel's struggling national carrier El Al accepted a government bailout that would likely give the state some 61% of the firm. Under the deal, the airline will get a $250 million government-backed loan, with guarantees for 75% of the loan, in case the firm defaults.

The company has entered deep financial trouble due to the pandemic, and last month shut down all air operations amid an ongoing labor dispute.

After initially bringing daily infection rates down to low double digits Israel has seen the numbers climb again after it rolled by lockdown measures that impacted all areas of the economy. There has been renewed talk of a looming second lockdown if the new wave doesn't fade.

Finally: National Council of Young Israel Takes on BLM Anti-Semites

The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) last Thursday issued a statement in response to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slogans that were heard at an anti-Israel march in Washington, DC, where the marchers carried Black Lives Matter and pro-Palestinian signs.

NCYI President Farley Weiss said: "Whether it is yelling anti-Semitic comments during a march in our nation's capital or vandalizing and defacing synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in Los Angeles with anti-Semitic messages during a protest, these blatant expressions of bigotry are intolerable and must end."

Weiss condemned the marchers who "desperately seek justice and an end to racism" and "are themselves engaging in abhorrent and hypocritical behavior that fans the flames of bigotry and hate."

"Ever since it issued a platform in 2016 which described Israel as an 'apartheid state' that commits 'genocide,' the Black Lives Matter movement has regrettably become intertwined with anti-Semitic tendencies, which detracts from their underlying mission," Weiss said.

"We call on elected officials from both parties, including our presidential candidates, as well as leaders in the African-American community, to publicly denounce the anti-Semitism being spewed by individuals who are operating under the guise of the Black Lives Matter movement. It needs to be made abundantly clear that hate of any kind has no place in our society, whether it is race-based prejudice or anti-Semitism," he said.

The National Council of Young Israel, or Young Israel, is a synagogue-based Orthodox-Jewish organization in the United States with a network of affiliated synagogues. Young Israel was founded in 1912 by a group of 15 young Jews on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Their goal was to make Orthodox Judaism more relevant to young Americanized Jews at a time when a significant Jewish education was rare, and most Orthodox institutions were Yiddish-speaking and oriented to an older, European Jewish demographic. Today, Young Israel continues to reach out to modern American Jews, while advocating for support for Israel and Religious Zionism.

On Friday, NCYI President Weiss sent out an email to the Young Israel Branch Leadership, declaring:

Never Again. We cannot be silent while anti-Semites chanted vile anti-Semitic slogans in front of Jewish organizational offices in several major American cities. We cannot stay silent while anti-Semitic rioters' vandalized Los Angeles Jewish schools and Synagogues and ransacked several Jewish businesses…

We have also not stayed silent while two members of Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, made anti-Semitic remarks. They are now part of at least 12 members of Congress and one Senator signing an outrageous letter threatening to cut aid to Israel if Israel decides to extend sovereignty over land in Judea and Samaria that it won in a defensive war and in which hundreds of thousands of Jews currently live. The land at issue is land that is part of a consensus in Israel of land that is essential for Israel's security, and we all know that our forefathers and mothers lived in this land and it is land Hashem promised to us. We appreciate that Democratic members of Congress have publicly criticized this letter.

Trump and Netanyahu face their rendezvous with destiny by Caroline Glick

Netanyahu's actions over the next few weeks will determine whether he goes down in history as one of the greatest Jewish leaders of all time, or is remembered as a disappointment of Sabbatean proportions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needn't take heed of the "friendly advice" British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proffered on Wednesday. As UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba did earlier this month, Johnson published an article in Yediot Ahronot threatening Israel with various disasters if Netanyahu implements his plan to apply Israeli sovereignty in areas of Judea and Samaria in conformance with President Donald Trump's peace plan.

Johnson's "friendly" threats should surprise no one. Since 2017, when he began serving as Britain's foreign minister under then prime minister Theresa May, Johnson demonstrated amply that he is no great friend of Israel, or of anyone else.

After leading the fight for Brexit as Mayor of London, as foreign minister Johnson was quick to align all of Britain's foreign policies with the European Union, as if he was its most obedient member. He did so not only at Israel's expense, but at the expense of Anglo-American ties.

When the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council due to the council's structural anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, not only did Johnson not follow suit, he sped off to Geneva, appeared before the UNHRC and pledged Britain's undying allegiance to the body.

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When the Trump administration abandoned the nuclear deal with Iran which enriched the terrorist regime, enabling it to expand its terrorist campaigns on multiple fronts and gave Tehran an open road to a nuclear arsenal within a decade, Johnson didn't merely oppose the move. He worked with his French and German counterparts to develop a financial exchange to bypass U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.

Now, as prime minister, aside from paying lip service to the Trump administration's efforts to extend the U.N. embargo against Iran which is set to expire in October, Johnson is doing nothing.

As to Israel specifically, Johnson's tenure as foreign minister was an unremitting disappointment.

In March 2017 Johnson paid an official visit to Israel. Before meeting with Netanyahu, Johnson went on a very public tour in Judea with the heads of Peace Now. British taxpayers are some of the largest funders of the radical Israeli NGO that has long acted on behalf of foreign governments interested in subverting the property rights of Israeli Jews in Judea and Samaria.

When Johnson was asked whether he intended to meet with the leaders of the Council of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to hear the other side of the story, he scoffed.

Parroting the anti-Semitic lingo of the well-groomed anti-Israel mob, Johnson insisted—as a friend—that Israel has two choices: It can fork over all of Judea and Samaria and eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem to the PLO (otherwise known as "the two-state solution"), or it can become an apartheid state.

Johnson, to be sure, is vastly preferable to Labour's anti-Semitic former leader Jeremy Corbyn. But the mere fact that Johnson doesn't hate Jews doesn't make him a friend of the Jewish state.

The disparity between Johnson's iconoclastic, flamboyant rhetoric and his rush to conform with the anti-American, anti-Israel, post-nationalist foreign policy establishment shows that Johnson can talk the talk of leadership, but cannot walk the walk. He will not be remembered as a leader of historic dimensions. He will be remembered as a blowhard.

This brings us to Johnson's disappointed partners—President Trump on the one hand and Netanyahu on the other. Like Johnson, their futures in office and their legacies will be determined by what they do, not by what they say.

To a large degree, until the sudden appearance of COVID-19 and the riots across America, Trump's presidency was a textbook case of talking the talk and walking the walk. Trump does not inspire the hatred of well-heeled establishment types just because of his flamboyant style. They hate him because he has matched his rhetoric with action.

In the Middle East, Trump said Barack Obama had betrayed Israel and the United States' Sunni Arab partners to cozy up to Iran. Trump promised to restore those alliances. And he did.

Trump promised to abandon Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. And he did. He said he would develop and implement a sanctions policy to bring Iran to its knees. And he did.

Now, with the U.N. arms embargo about to expire, and Iran at the edge of nuclear breakout, that policy faces a make or break moment. With the Europeans unwilling to act to prolong the arms embargo, Trump has only one option: restore all U.N. sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, by invoking the snap-back clause of Security Council Resolution 2231.

UNSCR 2231, which anchored the nuclear deal, stipulates that if Iran is in breach of the deal, a member of the Security Council can trigger a restoration of its sanctions against Iran for its illicit nuclear activities which were suspended as part of the deal's implementation. Iran is now openly enriching and stockpiling uranium in quantities well beyond what is permitted under the deal, to the point where according to the IAEA, Iran is on the verge of nuclear breakout capacity.

Ignoring the text of the resolution, the European Union, Russia and others are falsely arguing that when the United States walked away from the nuclear deal, it ceased to be authorized to trigger the snap-back clause. Asserting the United States' legal right to trigger the sanctions will require an ugly fight. But right now, that is the only way to achieve the aim Trump has declared—preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power and a regional hegemon. If he has this fight, he will win it and secure his achievements. If he walks away from this fight, his entire Iran policy will fail and Iran will race to the nuclear finish line.

This brings us to Israel itself. Trump promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. And he did. He said he would reject the failed peace paradigm of his predecessors and replace it with a vision based on reality. And he did.

Now that plan and Trump's Middle East legacy face a make or break moment.

Trump recognized that all the peace plans offered up by his predecessors failed because they were based on the anti-Israel falsehood that the cause of the enduring Palestinian conflict with Israel was Israel's size. Trump recognized that the real problem isn't how large Israel is but the Palestinians' historic rejection of Israel's right to exist at any size and their determination to annihilate Israel—large or small.

To start negotiations, the Palestinians must take concrete steps to show they are changing. For instance, they need to stop paying salaries to terrorists who have killed Israelis.

As to Israel itself, whereas his predecessors' plans reject Israel's legal rights to sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, Trump accepts this legal reality. He also recognizes that Israel has critical national and strategic interests tied up with the areas. To secure those rights and interests, Trump said in January that he will recognize Israeli sovereignty over some of the areas—specifically the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley as soon as Israel applies those rights.

Now it appears the weight of the foreign policy establishment is taking a toll on Trump and he is losing his nerve. For weeks, reports have flowed that Trump has soured on his own plan. He doesn't know if he wants to back Israeli sovereignty as he pledged to do at the White House in January. Maybe at the end of the day, Israel's rights are subject to an E.U. veto if not a Palestinian one.

If these reports are correct, Trump's weakness won't win him supporters. It will empower his opponents, who will erase all of the things he has done and return U.S. Middle East policy to the anti-Israel fantasy track it has operated on since 1993.

What goes for Trump goes for Netanyahu 10 times over. What Netanyahu does over the next few weeks will determine if he goes down in history as one of the greatest Jewish leaders of all time, or is remembered as a disappointment of Sabbatean proportions.

Since he was first elected prime minister in 1996, Netanyahu has faced two main challenges: Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and securing Israel's rights and interests in Judea and Samaria in the face of Palestinian rejectionism and terrorism and in the midst of phony peace process supported by the foreign policy establishment, the Israeli left, and the international left.

After 24 years, both of these issues have reached a moment of truth.

Setting aside the issue of the mysterious explosions in areas in and around Iran's nuclear installations, Netanyahu's primary task diplomatically is to clear a path for Trump to enact the snap-back sanctions just as he cleared the path for Trump to exit the nuclear deal in 2018.

As for the Palestinians, in 1996, Netanyahu was elected prime minister because he was the leader of the opposition to the phony Oslo peace process with the PLO. As Netanyahu and his supporters warned, the Oslo process was a strategic mistake. In due course, it failed and it caused Israel unspeakable damage. More than 1,500 Israelis were killed because of the terrorist whirlwind Oslo reaped and Israel's international standing dropped to new lows.

Despite Oslo's total failure, throughout his years in power, until the Trump presidency Netanyahu lacked the strategic opportunity to replace it with a different vision for Judea and Samaria and Israel's relations with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu's sovereignty plan is that vision.

The Oslo process is predicated on a denial of Israel's rights in Judea and Samaria. While it pays lip service to Israel's security needs, in practice it undermines them.

Netanyahu's sovereignty plan is predicated on Israel asserting and the United States recognizing Israel's rights to Judea and Samaria on the one hand, and Israel securing in perpetuity its vital security interests. Here too, in the face of Trump's hesitation and his coalition partners' efforts to subvert him, Netanyahu is wavering. He missed the July 1 target date he had declared for implementing his plan. Now there is talk of him putting it off until some later date, which of course, will never arrive.

If Netanyahu stays the course and implements his plan now, he will secure his political power now. More importantly, he will be remembered in the annals of Jewish history as a leader of historic proportions. If Netanyahu wavers, if he fails to carry through on his plan, he will lose his political position and be remembered as an Israeli version of Boris Johnson—nothing more than a smooth-talking charlatan.

Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of "The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East."

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Artistic Preferences

Artistic Preferences

At a small art gallery, Miriam Fischman and her 8 year old son Shlomo were having a tough time choosing between two paintings. They finally chose the autumn themed one.

"I see you prefer an autumn scene as opposed to a floral one," said the gallery owner, who happened to be nearby and witnessed the mother-son interaction.

"No," said young Shlomo. "This painting is wider, so it'll cover the three holes I put in the wall."

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