Israel Briefs 1-17-12

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YouTube freezes, then reopens Palestinian Media Watch account

Click photo to download. Caption: The following video, featuring the PA Mufti's speech on Muslims' destiny to kill the Jews, was deemed "inappropriate" by YouTube.

YouTube froze the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) account—which would have prevented the watchdog organization from uploading any new videos for two weeks—but then reopened the account Jan. 18, following PMW’s posting of a video that featured a speech by the Palestinian Authority Mufti detailing Muslims’ destiny to kill Jews.

Initially, YouTube deemed the video—which also revealed the comments of a Fatah moderator who called Jews the “descendants of the apes and pigs”—to be “inappropriate.”

After being removed, the video is once again viewable on YouTube.

—JointMedia News Service

After questioning Jewish connection to arson, Arab subjected to gunfire

The home of an Arab who questioned that Jews set a mosque on fire as a “Price Tag” operation was subjected to gunfire last weekend, Israel National News reported.

Shortly after Bassem Swaid, who lives in the northern Bedouin-Arab village of Tuba Zangariyya, told Channel 2 news that the mosque fire in the village three months ago was not set by an outsider, bullets were fired at his home Jan. 14.

Swaid’s television interview casting doubt on the Jewish connection to the arson comes after Israeli officials last October immediately apologized to Arab residents following the incident.

—JointMedia News Service

Status update: Shalit finally joins Facebook

Click photo to download. Caption: Gilad Shalit. Credit: IDF Spokesperson.Before Gilad Shalit was taken captive by Hamas terrorists in 2006, Facebook was nothing but a fledgling social web site with a relatively small number of users. Over the five years he was held in captivity—during which Facebook exploded into the social consciousness—hundreds if not thousands of Facebook pages were created to keep his story alive. Thousands of Israelis used his likeness as their own Facebook photo.

Now, long overdue, Shalit finally has his own private Facebook page. Shalit’s account contains a photograph of himself, altered by digital photo effects, and currently includes 17 people listed as his friends. The content of the account has been blocked to outside users by privacy settings.

Shalit was captured by Gaza militants in 2006 and was held by Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, for over five years. In October, Shalit was released from Hamas captivity in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Facebook, now Israel’s second-most-visited website (after Google), was not even in the top 20 in 2006, when Shalit was captured. Shalit shared a link titled “watch the most amazing basketball shot of 2011” on his Facebook wall, a clip from the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. He also hit the “like” button on the official Facebook group that had called for his release from captivity.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Israeli soldiers visit Al Aqsa Mosque

Uniformed Israeli soldiers visited the Temple Mount last week and toured the Al Aqsa Mosque for the first time in ten years, The Israel National News reported. The Temple Mount is considered a religious site for both Muslims and Jews, as it is the traditional location of Abraham’s binding of Isaac.

For years, however, Israel, worried about the possibility of violent Muslim reaction, has placed severe restrictions on visits by Jews to the area while Muslims have always been able to enter freely. When Jewish visitors are allowed access, they can only enter in small groups and are not allowed to pray. This policy has been in place since Moshe Dayan, then defense minister, turned the site over to Muslim Wakf control following Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967. Since then Jews have been allowed access only sporadically in order to appease the Muslim Wakf religious authority, critics say.

“I welcome it and I hope it’s the start of a new era, in which every soldier in the IDF will tour the Temple Mount as part of their military duty,” Temple Mount Heritage Foundation Chairman Yehuda Glick said of the decision to allow the soldiers into the site.

—JointMedia News Service

Mofaz aides: Livni delaying primaries to boost re-election bid

Click photo to download. Caption: At left, MK Tzipi Livni. Credit: PD.Just days after Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni indicated she would call early primaries for the party’s leadership, associates of MK Shaul Mofaz—her main rival and the party’s second most prominent figure—have accused her of stonewalling and using her leadership role to tilt the playing field in her favor.

One of Mofaz’s associates said that each day that passed without a date being set benefited Livni and harmed her challengers. While other candidates are banned from raising campaign funds until an official date is set, Livni’s opponents say she has been using the party apparatus to recruit campaign staffers and raise funds for her re-election bid.

“Livni is taking advantage of the party apparatus and is trying to use it to hire personnel to benefit her campaign,” a source close to Mofaz said Monday. Livni associates responded by saying such allegations were unfounded.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

IDF ready to welcome Syrian Muslim refugees if Assad falls

The Israeli Defense Sources (IDF) announced it plans to absorb Alawite Muslim refugees in the Golan Heights if Syrian President Bashar Assad loses power, the Israel National News reported. The Alawites are a Syrian minority group.

“The day the Assad regime falls, this is expected to hurt the Alawite sect,” Lt. Gen. Gantz told the Knesset.

Forty thousand Jews currently live in the Golan Heights, an area not recognized as part of Israel but the International community. Critics of the move say that this will increase the Muslim population in the region and threaten its Jewish majority. This in turn could lead to more pressure by foreign powers to give up the strategic region to Syria in return for a peace agreement.

Syria has long been interested in the Golan Heights because of its water resources, which Syria, like the rest of Israel, lacks. Left-wing Israeli politicians, like Likud Knesset Member Dan Meridor, have said they would be willing to give up the region in exchange for peace.

—JointMedia News Service

PA continues to spew hate against Israel and Jews

Palestinian Authority TV rebroadcast a song last week that claims Jaffa, Acre, Haifa, and Nazareth belong to the Palestinians, thereby again reinforcing the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. At the same time, the principal Palestinian Authority religious leader, Mufti Muhammad Hussein, said last week that the killing of Jews by Muslims is a religious Islamic goal, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

“On the way to Jerusalem,” by Muhammad Kabha, has appeared on PA TV seven times already, and has named multiple cities in Israel as Palestinian property. The song was first broadcast in May of 20122, two days before the Palestinian “Nakba Day”—translated as “Catastrophe Day”—which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. This takes place the day after Israel’s annual independence celebrations.

Also last week, the Mufti, who was appointed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said at an event celebrating the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah that: “The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

—JointMedia News Service

Survey: Israel Hayom remains most-read daily newspaper in Israel

Israel Hayom was the most widely read newspaper in Israel in 2011, the latest survey conducted by an independent market research company indicated Sunday.

The survey, conducted by Target Group Index, examined the period between January and December 2011 and found that Israel Hayom was read by 38.1 percent of the public during the course of the year. Israel’s second-largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, had a 35.8 percent market share during the same period.

These figures represent an increase in the readership of both papers since 2010, when Israel Hayom was read by 36.3 percent of the Israeli public.

Israel Hayom, founded in 2007, first came in ahead of Yedioth Ahronoth in 2010, ending the latter’s years-long hegemony as the country’s most popular newspaper. Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend edition is still more widely read than that of Israel Hayom, with a readership of 43.4 percent in comparison with Israel Hayom’s 31.3 percent.

By comparison, Maariv and Haaretz—the third and fourth largest dailies in Israel, respectively—didn’t receive similarly good news, with Maariv’s readership sinking to 11.5 percent (from 13 percent) and Haaretz remaining steady at 6.6 percent.

The survey questioned more than 5,000 Jewish Israelis aged 18 and older, representing some 3.96 million people.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Tel Aviv named best gay city of 2011

Click photo to download. Caption: Tel Aviv. Credit: PD.The LGBT travel website gaycities.com has named Tel Aviv the best gay city of 2011. “The city that never takes a break,” Tel Aviv hosts an LGBT life that is “perhaps the most vibrant in the Middle East,” according to the website.

“The democratic tradition of Israel, the gay community enjoys political freedom as in no other middle-eastern country,” the website says. Forty-three percent of the votes for the best LGBT city went to Tel Aviv, with New York City coming in second place.

“Victory in this competition further highlights the fact that Tel Aviv is a city that respects all people equally, and allows all people to live according to their values and desires,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai wrote on his Facebook page.

In addition to the locals, LGBT tourists like Tel Aviv because of the city’s beach and urban cultural attractions, while historical and religious destinations like Jerusalem are also nearby, said Itai Pinkas, head of the Tel Aviv Municipal LGBT center.

—JointMedia News Service

EU could help Arabs build in Judea and Samaria

A new European Union policy could mean that the EU is going to encourage and fund Arab building and development in Area C, an area in Judea and Samaria under Israeli military and political control. The EU could go forward without Israeli approval, the Israel National News reported.

Area C includes Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim, and other Jewish towns in the vicinity of Ariel. Around 90 percent of Jewish residents of the entire region live in Area C, whereas as the Arab population of the area is barely six percent.

Despite this, the EU document shows a desire to work towards a future Palestinian state in the region, which would also include Area C. To that end, the EU plans to help Arabs build more homes and communities in the area. This would defy the Oslo Accords, which state Israel is in charge of area C until a final agreement is completed.

“We will support whatever needs to be done for the sale of Palestinian development in the area regardless of Israel’s planning policy,” a Western diplomat said, according to the report.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on January 16, 2012 and filed under Briefs, Israel.