Israeli missile intercepts missile fired by Syria

In a sign of growing tension between Israel and the regime of Syria’s Bashar Assad, Israel’s missile defense system north of Jerusalem early Friday morning intercepted a Syrian missile aimed at an Israeli Air Force jet.

Air raid sirens sounded in the Jordan Valley, and residents reported the sound of an explosion – the Syrian missile being brought down – in the strongest exchange of fire between Israel and pro-Assad forces during Syria’s six-year-old civil war, the Times of Israel reports.

According to Arab media, the Times reports, the target of the IAF strikes was a Hezbollah weapons convoy.

An Israeli army statement confirmed what has long been “an open secret in Israel in recent years,” that Israeli jets have been targeting weapons convoys linked to the transport of Iranian-supplied arms to the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has been fighting on the side of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

No civilians on the ground nor Israeli Air Force pilots were in danger during the incident.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a joint news conference with President Donald Trump at the White House, Feb. 15, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Israel only country escaping Trump foreign aid budget cuts

Israel is the only country to escape the Trump administration’s proposed deep cuts in foreign aid, the State Department said Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The proposed budget plan calls for slashing the State Department’s $50 billion budget by about 28%, cuts that would mostly target climate change, democracy promotion and health programs, and numerous foreign aid projects.

Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said U.S. aid to Israel, which totaled about $3.1 billion this year, would not be touched under the Trump plan. Israel gets more U.S. aid than any other nation. Aid to every other country will come under review, he said.

Police outside a Jewish Community Center in Miami Beach following a bomb threat. JTA

Christian group raising $100,000 for JCC security

Several Evangelical Christian ministries in Alabama have announced plans to raise $100,000 to help cover additional security at a local Jewish community center, JTA reports. The Levite JCC in Birmingham has suffered four bomb threats since the beginning of the year and been evacuated each time, disrupting its preschool and exercise facilities.

The security upgrades required at the JCC building will cost an estimated $1 million. Among the ministries that have pledged to raise the money are the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, The Center for Executive Leadership, Young Business Leaders, Lifework Leadership, JH Ranch, Alliance Ministries and the National Christian Foundation of Alabama.

Mayim Bialik at the 67th Emmy Awards in Beverly Hills, California, Sept. 20, 2015. JTA

Actress Mayim Bialik takes on anti-Zionist activist

American Jewish actress Mayim Bialik this week published a refutation of anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour’s recent claim that one cannot be a Zionist and a feminist. “Zionism is the belief in the right of the Jewish people to have an autonomous state in Israel,” Bialik, a star in the CBS comedy series “The Big Bang Theory,” wrote on her GrokNation website.

“I am a Zionist. Feminism is the belief that a woman-driven movement can bring about race, class and gender equality and that women deserve all of the rights and privileges afforded to men. I am a feminist.”

“I am a Zionist. Feminism is the belief that a woman-driven movement can bring about race, class and gender equality and that women deserve all of the rights and privileges afforded to men. I am a feminist,” she wrote in response

to statements made by Sarsour, a Muslim Palestinian American from Brooklyn, that “When you talk about feminism you’re talking about the rights of all women and their families to live in dignity, peace, and security. Israel is a country that continues to occupy territories in Palestine, has people under siege at checkpoints. It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”

Respect your elders – it’s now the law in Israel

Elderly Israelis now have a new place in Israel – and it’s not standing in line.

The Knesset passed a bill on Tuesday that will allow Israelis age 80 and older to receive public services without waiting in line at places such as the post office, bank, supermarket, movie theaters and cultural events, JTA reports.

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel of the ruling Likud party called it a “moral and significant law” that is “sorely needed. Serving the elderly first and allowing them to skip lines is something which we as a society would need to do, even if not required by law. I have no doubt that this law will help make honoring the elderly become a social norm, so that one day it becomes superfluous.”

Disabled individuals will still get priority over the elderly.

Historian: Many Polish villagers killed Jews in WWII

A prominent Polish historian presented evidence this week about Polish villagers’ widespread killing of Jews fleeing Nazis during World War II, touching a raw nerve in a country still grappling with its role during the Holocaust, according to the Times of Israel. The research is likely to irk the nationalist Polish government, which has taken aim at those seeking to undermine its official stance that Poles were only heroes in the war, not collaborators who committed heinous crimes.

Professor Barbara Engelking during a meeting dedicated to the publishing of the second edition of the book “Warsaw Ghetto. A Guide to the Perished City” in the History Meeting House in Warsaw. Wikimedia Commons/Adrian Grycuk

In launching the English-language version of her 2011 book, “Such a Beautiful Sunny Day,” Barbara Engelking details dozens of cases of everyday Poles raping Jewish women and bludgeoning Jews to death with axes, shovels and rocks. The book takes its title from the last words of a Jew pleading with peasants to spare his life before he was beaten and shot to death.

“The responsibility for the extermination of Jews in Europe is borne by Nazi Germany,” she writes. “Polish peasants were volunteers in the sphere of murdering Jews.”

Israeli Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer said the significance of Engelking’s findings was the enormity of the cruelty toward Jews she details. “It is something that we assumed but she proves,” he said.

No Saturday tests for Jewish students in Brazil

More than 8 million Brazilian teenagers will take the country’s annual two-day National High School Exam on Sundays, and not on Saturdays anymore, after a long-running campaign by Jewish groups and members of other religions who observe Saturday as the Sabbath, according to JTA.

“We are very pleased with the decision, which shows a concern to meet a legitimate claim and prevent young people from being isolated and locked up for hours until they could begin the exam, thus allowing those who keep the Sabbath to have their dignity respected,” said Fernando Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation.

Egyptian workers pose next to an excavated statue, recently discovered by a team of German-Egyptian archeologists, in Cairo’s Mattarya district on March 13, 2017. Statues of the kings and queens of the nineteenth dynasty (1295 – 1185 BC) were unearthed in the vicinity of the Temple of Ramses II in what was the old Pharonic city. Getty Images

Is Cairo statue of Ramses II?

Archaeologists from Egypt and Germany have found a massive eight-yard-high statue submerged in ground water in a Cairo slum that they say probably depicts revered Pharaoh Ramses II, the leader usually identified atop the Egyptian throne at the time of the Hebrew slaves’ exodus from ancient Egypt, Reuters reports.

The discovery, hailed by Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry as one of the most important ever, was made near the ruins of Ramses II’s temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis, located in the eastern part of modern-day Cairo.

The pharaoh, also known as Ramses the Great, was the third of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt and ruled from 1279 to 1213 BCE.

New partnership for testing for Jewish genetic diseases

The National Gaucher Foundation has announced that it is partnering with JScreen to offer genetic testing at no out-of-pocket cost to patients. Because of the “immense importance of genetic testing,” the Foundation is covering the portion of screening expenses that is typically passed to JScreen participants, the website reports.

This campaign encourages Jews of Eastern European descent, or Ashkenazi Jews, to sign up for genetic testing through JScreen. Upon completion of these forms, JScreen will mail a genetic testing kit, which requires only a saliva sample.

“You need to have that knowledge of whether you are a carrier so you can be prepared for all the possibilities in the future,” said Brian Berman, president of the Foundation.

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