Tel Aviv just hosted its 15th annual Gay Pride Festival, attended by a record-breaking 100,000 spectators and participants, including some of Israel's most powerful politicians. Here is The Times of Israel report on the event:
"Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai kicked off the festivities with a speech that reflected on the journey since the first annual Pride Parade, which he emceed in 1998...[T]he finance minister [said] that every couple, gay or straight, has the right to get married and have children [and mentioned] his…party's 'deep indebtedness' to the LGBT community.
"Also addressing the crowd, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro [said] 'There's no better place to celebrate than in Tel Aviv, the friendliest city in the world to the LGBT community,' he said. 'We learned from Israel to let our troops serve in the military without having to hide who they love,' Shapiro added… more >>
A judge in Israel has resigned and apologized for comments he made suggesting that some girls enjoy being raped, which sparked public outrage.
"A man who says such things is unfit to serve as the head of the Likud's court," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Associated Press reported that Nissim Yeshaya, a Tel Aviv District Court judge, made the controversial comments while presiding over a hearing of the rape of a 13-year-old Israeli girl by four Palestinian youths. The girl was apparently raped six years ago near the West Bank's Hizma roadblock, close to Jerusalem, and the Defense Ministry had been deliberating whether to recognize the case as terror activity. more >>
Within a month after winning a second term, President Obama wasted no time in suspending the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, requiring the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as the permanent capital of Israel. The law also required the American Embassy to be relocated.
In suspending the provisions of the act, President Obama was violating his own campaign commitments to Americans and to Israelis. As a candidate in 2008, he had said he was committed to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's permanent capital and keeping it united under Israeli rule.
Secretary of State John Kerry is now heading back to the Mideast in yet another effort to get direct talks going with Israel's Arab peace partners. The only problem this time is the problem from last time - and all the times before that. There's no peace. And there are no partners. more >>
Israel's tourism minister says he plans to focus on drawing evangelicals in the U.S. and China to the Holy Land.
Incoming tourism makes up only 2.3 percent of Israel's GDP, Uzi Landau told Israel Hayom in an interview Monday. In Europe, by comparison, six percent of the GDP is generated by such tourism, and some nations generate as much as nine percent.
"We are the cradle of Jewish and Christian civilization," he told the publication. "This is where the prophets roamed, this is where the Bible was written, this is where some of the extraordinary historical events occurred, and all we are managing to get across to the world is 2.3%? It's not enough." more >>
As the Obama administration tries to unbury itself from snowballing scandals, my apocalyptic thriller steadily crawls from fiction to fact. The Middle East is an insane place. And it's going nuclear. Yet too many optimists, isolationists, and self-deluded analysts think that rationality will prevail and keep us all safe.
Is it rational to take out the organs of a man you just killed and eat them on camera, as a Syrian rebel recently did? How about a senior Palestinian Authority official who recently, on Lebanese television, declared that the PA would nuke Israel if it had nuclear weapons? Jibril Rajoub, the deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and the chairman of the PA Olympics Committee, apparently doesn't mind that the nuclear mushroom he wants over Israel would also kill millions of Palestinians, just miles away – the main goal is that Israel be nuked.
At best, one can say that there is a "twisted rationality" in the Middle East, as exemplified by Iran's former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In a December 2001 speech, Rafsanjani said, "If one day the Islamic world [acquires nuclear weapons], then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality. Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world." more >>
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking announced this week that he would not be attending a major academic conference in Jerusalem in June as a way of showing "respect" for the Palestinians' academic boycott of Israel. In response, one rabbi said Hawking was joining the Church of Scotland in "demonizing" Israel.
"I was looking forward to hearing the iconic Stephen Hawking," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in an article for Fox News. "After agreeing to deliver the coveted keynote in Jerusalem, the highly unorthodox Hawking, who has visited Israel four times, has caved to the prevailing virulent anti-Israel orthodoxy among the United Kingdom's elite and announced he'll boycott because of Palestinian protests.
"It's interesting that Hawking, who is a principled atheist, has some kindred souls among theologians of the Church of Scotland." more >>