TIME Israel

Europe’s Jews Should Move to Israel, Says Israel’s Prime Minister

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Feb. 15, 2015
Abir Sultan—AP Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Feb. 15, 2015

The statement comes after recent attacks against Jews in Paris and Copenhagen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday that European Jews should embark on a “mass immigration” to Israel.

The statement follows recent murders of Jews in Copenhagen and Paris, including Saturday’s death of a Jewish guard in front of a synagogue and last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which left four French Jews dead.

“Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews,” Netanyahu said. “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country, but we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home.”

Denmark’s chief rabbi Jair Melchior said he was “disappointed” by the invitation, however. “People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism, but not because of terrorism,” he told the Associated Press.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt expressed a similar view, saying, “The Jewish community is a large and integrated part of Danish society.”

Last year, over 7,000 French Jews moved to Israel, double the previous year’s figure, prompting French President François Hollande to tell the country’s Jews in an address last month, “Your place is here, in your home. France is your country.”

[NYT]

TIME Israel

Israeli Critics Sees Netanyahu Putting His Personal Interests First in Addressing Congress

Israeli PM's proposed trip to Washington has caused controversy in the U.S. and at home

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long found a large welcome mat at the doors of the U.S. Congress, particularly when it comes to his interest in talking about Iran and its nuclear program, When he gave a speech to Congress on the subject in 2011, he was given 29 standing ovations – four more, many noted, than President Barack Obama received in his State of the Union address that year.

The reaction in Israel to Netanyahu’s next visit has been quite different. The Prime Minister was invited by Republican Speaker John Boehner to speak before Congress on Mar. 3, two weeks before the Israeli premier is up for re-election. The focus of the address would be the Iranian nuclear issue, in particular, Netanyahu’s call to Congress to impose further sanctions on Iran. As the Obama administration is pursuing negotiations with Iran, Netanyahu’s intervention is seen as antagonistic.

Obama made clear this week that he would not be seeing Netanyahu during his visit to Washington, telling CNN’s Fareed Zakaria he would never meet with a visiting leader two weeks before their country goes to the polls because he considers it “inappropriate.”

Critics in Israel have attacked Netanyahu for putting his personal political interests above the interests of his country and for jeopardising the U.S.-Israel special relationship by getting involved in U.S. politics.

“Israel’s leaders have always cherished and protected its relations with the United States, understanding that they are of utmost importance for our country’s security,” says Stav Shaffir, a member of Israel’s parliament from the opposition Labor Party, which recent polls show having a slight lead over Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party. “The fact that Netanyahu is willing to jeopardize Israel’s strategic interests for petty electoral gains casts serious doubt on his judgment and suitability to lead the country.”

Amos Yadlin, the former military intelligence chief who has joined the opposition — now running as the “Zionist Camp” as a joint slate of Labor and Tzippi Livni’s Hatnua party — has accused Netanyahu of turning Israel’s relationship with the U.S. into one of allegiance with the Republicans. “When we manage our relationship with the U.S., we have to manage it simultaneously with the President and Congress. The Prime Minister has made it into a partisan issue in the U.S., and we cannot let Israel become a problem for one party or the other,” Yadlin told Ynet, the news website of the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Haaretz, Israel’s broadsheet newspaper, carried a front-page article on Friday saying that as far as the Obama administration is concerned, Netanyahu is “toast.” In other words, even if he does win the Mar. 17 election, he can stop expecting automatic U.S. diplomatic support. Just a month ago, the U.S. used its power at the U.N. Security Council to block a vote for Palestinian state.

“You do not want to be ‘toast’ in the eyes of the American administration,” says Gadi Wolfsfeld, an expert in politics and communications who teaches at IDC Herzliya, a university in the Tel Aviv area. “America could turn away when the E.U. puts pressure on Israel. There’s lot of things Obama can do without directly confronting Netanyahu — there are subtle ways of punishing him and punishing Israel for this move, which are not going to be pleasant.”

According to reports, Netanyahu is working to convince Democrats of the importance of his speech, and they are trying to get him to reconsider. That might be wise, Wolfsfeld says.

“Some people have suggested that he should cancel. People would have to spend a few hours thinking of a creative way to do it, but that may be best, because I think both sides already realize that this was not their finest hour,” says Wolfsfeld. “Of course, when Netanyahu is standing there in front of Congress and receiving applause, it’s possible that he’ll once again be received as a powerful speaker and a great diplomat. But right now, considering the amount of backlash, if he had to do it over again, I’d be surprised if he’d do it at all.”

TIME Behind the Photos

The Best Pictures of the Week: Jan. 23 – Jan. 30

From Kurdish fighters recapturing the ISIS held town of Kobani, Syria to the deadly attacks on Israeli forces by Hezbollah militants on the Israel-Lebanon border and life returns to normal with Ebola cases down to single digits in Liberia to blizzard Juno hitting the U.S. East Coast, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME archeology

Here’s What a 55,000-Year-Old Skull Teaches Us About Human Migration

Ancient Skull
Clara Amit—AP This undated photo provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Jan. 27, 2015, shows a partial human skull excavated from a cave in Israel's western Galilee region

The rare bone find is the first to connect humans in Africa and Europe

Part of a female human skull, found in a cave in Israel and believed to be around 55,000 years old, is giving researchers clues as to when humans migrated out of Africa, leading to the eventual colonization of Europe.

The partial skull, found in Manot Cave in western Galilea, is the first recorded instance of modern humans being in the Levant region during that time period, archeologists claim in the journal Nature. These early people may have been the first to pass through the region on their way to cooler latitudes.

“It’s amazing. This is the first specimen we have that connects Africa to Europe,” said Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University.

Neanderthal remains have previously been found in locations close to Manot Cave, dating between 50,000 and 65,000 years of age, so that places the two species in the same place at the same time.

Non-African humans have a tiny bit of Neanderthal DNA and studies suggest the mix happened 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

Scientists say the new discovery offers the possibility that a spell of interbreeding between Neanderthals and early humans occurred at this time and in this region.

[Nature]

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: January 28

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

The Big Dig

New Englanders savaged by a blizzard packing knee-high snowfall and hurricane-force winds began digging out as New Yorkers and others spared its full fury questioned whether forecasts were overblown

Drink to Your Health

The sun is the biggest culprit in causing skin cancer, but there’s a beverage that may thwart some of the tumor-causing effects of ultraviolet rays

Meet the Kingmakers

A new analysis by the Center for Public Integrity reveals that the top 50 political contributors spent more than $440 million in 2014

Elton John to Do Musical-Drama Pilot for HBO

The music legend is producing the pilot of a musical drama to be named Virtuoso, set in 18th century Vienna. True Blood creator Alan Ball is set to write and direct the show, which follows a class of young musical prodigies at the Academy of Musical Excellence

Apple Shines With Record Earnings

A larger-than-expected bump in holiday iPhone sales propelled Apple to record sales and the best quarterly earnings of any company ever. The tech giant racked up $74.6 billion in revenue last quarter, a 29.5% gain on the same period a year before

Hizballah Attacks Israeli Convoy

Several Israelis soldier were injured, possibly killed, when anti-tank missiles were fired at an Israeli convoy on the Golan Heights from Lebanon on Wednesday. Israel retaliated by firing dozens of artillery shells into Lebanon and convened a emergency security meeting

Who Ya Gonna Cast? Ghostbusters Stars Revealed

Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig have reportedly been cast in the long-awaited, all-female reboot of the beloved ’80s classic, alongside Saturday Night Live‘s Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Paul Feig, who directed Bridesmaids, will helm the new movie

Budget Cuts Hit Red States Hardest, Say Analysts

Funding for a range of discretionary grant programs has fallen 40% in Republican states compared to a drop of only 25% in swing states or states that tend to support the Democrats, according to new research

WHO Appoints New Africa Chief

The World Health Organization appointed Botswana’s Dr. Matshidiso Moeti to head its Africa region on Tuesday. The physician is tasked with revamping the organization’s operations on the continent in the wake of the Ebola outbreak

Ancient Solar System Discovered

Astronomers have discovered an ancient solar system very similar to our own that dates back to the “dawn of the galaxy.” Using NASA’s Kepler telescope, a team of international scientists found a star and five orbiting planets that are similar in size to Earth

Jordan Ready for ISIS Prisoner Exchange

Jordan’s information minister says his government is set to swap an Iraqi woman held in Jordan for a Jordanian pilot captured by extremists from the Islamic State group — but made no mention of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who is also being held by ISIS

Prepare for Future Pandemics as for War, Says Bill Gates

Bill Gates, whose charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation disburses nearly $4 billion worldwide, has cautioned that a technology-based action plan is needed to guard against future pandemics similar to how we “prepare ourselves for war”

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TIME Middle East

Escalation Feared as Hizballah Attacks Israeli Convoy

Israeli soldiers carry an injured comrade after an anti-tank missile hit an army vehicle in an occupied area on the border with Lebanon on Jan. 28, 2015.
Jalaa Marey—AFP/Getty Images Israeli soldiers carry an injured comrade after an anti-tank missile hit an army vehicle in an occupied area on the border with Lebanon on Jan. 28, 2015.

Israel fires dozen of shells into Lebanon after its vehicles were attacked

At least two Israeli soldiers were killed Wednesday when anti-tank missiles were fired at an Israeli convoy on the Golan Heights from Lebanon.

Israel retaliated by firing dozens of artillery shells into southern Lebanon and convened a emergency security meeting in Tel Aviv.

Israeli military said an anti-tank missile was fired at Israeli military vehicle near Lebanese border, the Associated Press reports, leaving two soldiers dead. Lebanese security officials then said Israel fired 25 artillery shells into Lebanon.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister tweeted: “At this moment the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] responds to events in the North. We will not allow terrorists to disrupt the lives of our citizens and threaten their security. We will respond forcefully those who try to challenge us.”

Hizballah claimed on al-Manar TV in Lebanon that they had attacked an Israeli military convoy. In a statement, Hizballah said its fighters destroyed a number of Israeli vehicles that were carrying Israeli officers and soldiers and caused casualties among “enemy ranks.”

It said the attack was carried out by a group calling itself the “heroic martyrs of Quneitra,” — referring to an area in Syria where Israel killed six members of Hizballah and an Iranian general on Jan. 18.

Wednesday’s attack took place near Mount Dov and Shebaa Farms, a disputed tract of land where the borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet.

[AP]

TIME White House

White House Chief of Staff Reaffirms ‘Deep and Abiding’ U.S.-Israel Ties

Meet the Press - Season 68
William B. Plowman—NBC/Getty Images Denis McDonough White House Chief of Staff appears on "Meet the Press" in Washington D.C. on Jan. 25, 2015.

Amid reports of a rift with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough repudiated reports of a widening rift between the Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday’s morning talk shows.

An unnamed administration official was quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying Netanyahu “spat in our face publicly” when he agreed to accept an invitation to speak to the United States Congress in March without President Obama having been consulted first.

But McDonough said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the alliance between the U.S. and Israel remained strong. “Our relationship with Israel is many-faceted, deep and abiding,” he said. “It’s focused on a shared series of threats, but also, on a shared series of values that one particular instance is not going to inform overwhelmingly.”

The White House Chief of Staff said he could not “guarantee” that an administration official hadn’t made the remarks about Netanyahu, but said he had no idea who might have said them. “It’s not me. It’s not the President,” McDonough told interviewer Chuck Todd.

House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress when he visits the U.S. in March, without informing the White House first. The trip coincides with negotiations between the U.S. and others with Iran on their nuclear capabilities, which are strongly opposed by Israel and by some in Congress.

The White House said President Obama would not be meeting with Netanyahu during his visit, out of concerns that it might influence the Israeli elections due to take place two weeks after his trip.

The decision has been portrayed as a snub by the Israeli media, though McDonough said on Meet the Press that the principle would be the same for any other ally. “We think as a general matter we in the U.S. stay out of internal politics of our closest allies,” he said.

In a separate interview on ABC’s This Week Sunday, McDonough urged Congress not to pass new sanctions on Iran while the nuclear negotiations are ongoing.

“We’ve asked Congress for forbearance, for some time to allow us to run these negotiations so that it is we who are, united with our allies, maintaining Iran isolated, rather than going with some kind of premature action up there on the Hill that would risk really splintering the international community, making it we, not the Iranians, who are isolated,” he said.

TIME World

Israeli Barber Designs ‘Magic’ Hairy Yarmulke That is Basically a Toupée

Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh places a yarmulke, a skullcap made of hair samples, on a man's head in the city of Rehovot, Israel on Jan. 21, 2015.
Dan Balilty—AP Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh places a yarmulke, a skullcap made of hair samples, on a man's head in the city of Rehovot, Israel on Jan. 21, 2015.

Blends in with the wearer's hair

An Israeli barber has designed a hair-covered skullcap so that devout Jews can cover their heads without advertising their religion.

Shalom Koresh says he designed the “magic” yarmulke (also known as a kippa) to help Jews avoid trouble amid rising anti-Semitism in Europe. The yarmulke, which is designed to look just like hair on your head, has already attracted considerable interest in France and Belgium.

“This skullcap is washable, you can brush it, you can dye it,” Koresh told the Associated Press. “It was created so people could feel comfortable going to places where they are afraid to go, or places where they can’t wear it, and feel secure.”

While it’s not explicitly designed for this purpose, the “magic” yarmulke could have the added benefit of helping some men cover up signs of encroaching baldness, since it can be custom made to fit in exactly with hair color or texture.

The “Magic Kippa” is sold online. A synthetic hair kippa costs around $56, and a real-hair one costs around $91.

[AP]

 

 

TIME White House

Obama Won’t Meet With Netanyahu During Washington Visit

US-ISRAEL-OBAMA-NETANYAHU
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama(R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 3, 2014.

White House blames upcoming elections in Israel

President Obama will not meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next month when he is in Washington to address a joint session of Congress, the White House said Thursday.

“As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. “Accordingly, the President will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election, which is just two weeks after his planned address to the U.S. Congress.”

MORE These Are the Elections to Watch Around the World in 2015

On Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that Netanyahu had accepted an invitation to address Congress on Feb. 11, but neither the Republican leader nor the Israelis informed the White House, in a move Press Secretary Josh Earnest called a breach from protocol. The personal relationship between the U.S. and Israeli leader has deteriorated in recent years, even as both leaders argue that the professional relationship has never been stronger.

“The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there,” he said. “That certainly is how President Obama’s trips are planned when we travel overseas. So this particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”

His address comes as congressional Republicans are pressuring Obama over the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. During his State of the Union Address this week, Obama threatened to veto any additional sanctions legislation passed by the GOP-controlled Congress while talks are ongoing.

“The President has been clear about his opposition to Congress passing new legislation on Iran that could undermine our negotiations and divide the international community,” Meehan said. “The President has had many conversations with the Prime Minister on this matter, and I am sure they will continue to be in contact on this and other important matters.”

In a statement announcing the address, Boehner called Netanyahu “a great friend of our country.” “In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life,” he said. “Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

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See the Aftermath of the Tel Aviv Bus Stabbing

Three Israelis were in serious condition Wednesday after a 23-year-old Palestinian man from the West bank attacked bus passengers with a knife. Police are calling it a terrorist attack

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