Arnold Schwarzenegger, standing by French Jews for Chanukah: “It is very important that light prevails over darkness and good prevails over evil,” he said.
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1. Chanukah officially celebrated in Bahrain for first time since 1948
2. Obama says Chanukah story sounds like plot of new Star Wars movie
3. Paris Jews defy threats and celebrate Chanukah, Arnold Schwarzenegger lends his support
4. Elton John defies BDS, will again perform in Israel
5. Israeli “spy” Ouda Tarabin released from Egyptian prison after serving 15 years
6. Synagogue terror victim named “Dane of the Year”
7. 3-week-old Israeli baby wounded in Palestinian rock attack
8. Facebook’s Zuckerberg: “I want to add my voice in support of Muslims”
9. Forbes: Israeli technological breakthroughs helping the disabled (including new Mossad chief’s son)
10. Israel’s Ben Gurion airport makes Condé Nast Traveler top ten
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
CHANUKAH OFFICIALLY CELEBRATED IN BAHRAIN FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1948
Only days after Abu Dhabi announced that for the first time it will allow Israel to open a diplomatic mission there (part of the International Renewable Energy Agency office, which has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi), Chanukah has been celebrated in the neighboring Gulf state of Bahrain.
It is the first official Chanukah candle lighting in the Gulf since all but a handful of the region’s historic Jewish population (which predates the birth of Islam) fled in 1948.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa held a meeting with Jewish and other faith representatives at the royal palace in the capital city of Manama on the second night of this week’s Chanukah festival.
Rabbi Moshe Levin, director of the Conference of European Rabbis, met with the Bahraini King, before moving on to light candles at the Manama synagogue.
During his address, Rabbi Levin said: “A little light drives off a lot of darkness. Bahrain under your rule is a little light in a dark world of radical fundamentalism.”
ACCOMPANIED BY A FRENCH IMAM
Levin serves as rabbi of the French National Gendarmerie, and is also an adviser to the chief rabbi of France. He was accompanied to Bahrain by French Imam Hassan Chalghoumi, who also took part in the Chanukah ceremony. You can see a video here.
Only a few dozen Jews remain in Bahrain. One of them, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, is a female lawyer who was the first Jew and the first woman to serve as Bahraini Ambassador to the U.S. She is a subscriber to this email list. I wrote about her here, in 2008.
OBAMA SAYS CHANUKAH STORY SOUNDS LIKE PLOT OF NEW STAR WARS MOVIE
When President Barack Obama lit the Chanukah candle at the White House on Wednesday evening alongside visiting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, he not only “re-affirmed the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel” but jokingly compared the Chanukah story to the plot of the new Star Wars movie.
“All of us come together along with Jews around the world to celebrate a band of Maccabees who inspire us even today,” said Obama. “They were outnumbered, out armed, yet proved freedom can prevail over tyranny, hope can triumph over despair, light can prevail over darkness. That sounds like a description of the new Star Wars movie but this one happened a little earlier,” joked Obama, to a round of laughter and applause.
“The light from one day’s worth of oil has lasted not just for 8 days but for more than 2000 years. The Maccabees sense of faith, and courage and righteousness continues to animate the Jewish community even now,” Obama continued. “It is no accident that when we are called out to speak on behalf of refugees or against religious persecution, American Jews remember what it’s like to be a stranger and are leading the way.”
You can watch a video of Obama’s remarks here.
PARIS JEWS DEFY THREATS AND CELEBRATE CHANUKAH; ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER LENDS HIS SUPPORT
While candle lighting in Marseilles had to be held indoors this year at the request of the police because of terror threats, Parisian Jews went ahead and celebrated the first night of Chanukah with the lighting of a 30-foot menorah. Among those turning up to celebrate and lend their support was Hollywood superstar and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was in Paris for the COP21 climate conference.
Asked by the audience to make a few impromptu remarks, Schwarzenegger unexpectedly took to the stage and said: “It is very important that light prevails over darkness and good prevails over evil. And I stand there with you!”
Schwarzenegger later tweeted a picture from the event, with the backdrop of a lit-up menorah and a glowing Eiffel tower. He captioned it: “Happy Hannukah from Paris! Light will always overcome darkness.”
Hundreds of armed French police guarded the Chanukah event.
As I have noted in past dispatches on this list, Schwarzenegger has on many occasions stood up for Israel and for Jewish rights. He has also criticized his own father for having volunteered to join the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, the SA (the “brown shirts”), responsible for numerous crimes against Jews and others.
ELTON JOHN DEFIES BDS, WILL AGAIN PERFORM IN ISRAEL
British pop star Elton John has announced he will perform in Israel next May – his fourth visit to Israel.
A month later, in June, he will headline the annual 3-day “Life Music Festival” held in the town of Oswiecim, close by the Auschwitz death camp. “We’ll be celebrating life, peace and music,” John said in a statement published on the festival’s website yesterday.
ISRAELI “SPY” OUDA TARABIN RELEASED FROM EGYPTIAN PRISON AFTER SERVING 15 YEARS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday met with Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Bedouin released from an Egyptian prison after serving a 15-year sentence on charges of spying for Israel. Tarabin arrived back in Israel yesterday morning.
“I feel like I’m in a dream,” Tarabin told reporters. “I don’t believe it. To return after 15 years is a lot of years. Thank God.”
Israel has consistently denied Egyptian claims that Tarabin, now 35, was a spy. (Informed persons tell me that indeed he wasn’t.)
“Welcome home,” Netanyahu said to Tarabin. “We had long discussions with the Egyptians for many years about your case, and we are happy to see you here with us now.”
Netanyahu’s personal envoy Yitzhak Molcho has, for years, raised Tarabin’s case with Egyptian interlocutors going back to the days when Hosni Mubarak was in power.
Tarabin, a Bedouin who moved from Egypt to Israel when he was 10, was arrested in 2000 at age 19 after illegally crossing the border into Egypt. He said he had wanted to visit family members in Egypt.
As an Israeli citizen he was treated particularly badly in the Egyptian prison system. For example, he was denied the right to use the toilet each day for 16 hour stretches, between 4 pm and 8 am.
3-WEEK-OLD ISRAELI BABY WOUNDED IN PALESTINIAN ROCK ATTACK
Aviel Mamo, a three-week-old baby, was injured yesterday when a rock thrown by a Palestinian hit the car his mother was driving in on the way to Jerusalem.
The baby was evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem with slivers of glass in his eye and received treatment for his wounds. “We left this hospital only three weeks ago, I never imagined we would be back here so soon, and yet here we are,” said Rachel Mamo, Aviel’s mother.
The Palestinian Authority continues to incite on a daily basis through its TV stations and mosques encouraging ordinary Palestinians to murder Jews, with barely a word of criticism from European governments that fund the Palestinian Authority.
Graphic images: How to slit throats of Jews on Palestinian social media:
* Little girl demonstrates art of stabbing: “Stab! Stab! Stab! Stab! Stab!”
* Singer: “Stab! Stab! ... Cut, tear apart... shower the humiliated Jews with fire... let death come for them in a flash”
* “Knock on Heaven's door with the head of a Jew”
SYNAGOGUE TERROR VICTIM NAMED “DANE OF THE YEAR”
Swedish-Israeli relations have a reached a new low after Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Lofven appeared to say Israel shouldn’t defend itself against the recent stabbings of Israeli citizens and his foreign minister blamed Israel for being the root cause of last month’s Paris terror attacks by Isis.
By contrast, in neighboring Denmark, Dan Uzan, the economist and voluntary synagogue security guard who died protecting 12 year old girls at a bat mitzvah party at the Copenhagen synagogue in February, has been named “Dane of the Year” by the Danish daily newspaper Berlingske.
About 25,000 Danish newspaper readers voted online for the ten nominees in the competition. The nominees included astronaut Andreas Mogensen, the first Dane in space; the CEO of the Novo Nordisk pharmaceutical company; and Pia Kjærsgaard, the parliament speaker.
Uzan, the attack’s sole fatality, was an active member of Copenhagen’s Jewish community. He has an Israeli father and had lived in Israel for a period of time.
The Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen called him “an inspiration” and “a hero”.
Hundreds of other Danish Islamists and anti-Semites turned out to pay their respect not to Uzan, but to the terrorist who murdered him.
FACEBOOK’S ZUCKERBERG: “I WANT TO ADD MY VOICE IN SUPPORT OF MUSLIMS”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday posted a message of support for Muslims around the world.
“As a Jew, my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.
“I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world.”
In his post, the new father called for the world to remain hopeful and unite in creating a better place for all people. “Having a child [last week] has given us so much hope, but the hate of some can make it easy to succumb to cynicism. We must not lose hope,” he said.
Meanwhile Zuckerberg’s earlier Facebook post wishing people a happy Chanukah was defaced by a wave of anti-Semitic comments.
FORBES: ISRAELI TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGHS HELPING THE DISABLED (INCLUDING NEW MOSSAD CHIEF’S SON)
Tom Gross adds: Yossi Cohen, who has just been appointed the new director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, says “the true hero is my son Yonatan.”
Yonatan Cohen was born with cerebral palsy, can’t read or write and yet has mastered four languages and managed to become an officer in the IDF’s elite 8200 Intelligence Unit.
See also from yesterday’s Yediot Ahronot: Four Israeli Medical Apps Win Top International Competition
ISRAEL’S BEN GURION AIRPORT MAKES CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER TOP 10
Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport was placed fourth in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards for best international airports.
Condé Nast Traveler is one of the world’s leading travel magazines. Singapore’s Changi Airport was No. 1 on the list.