Hundreds of Thousands in Rabbi Shteinman’s Funeral in Bnei Brak

Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman's funeral procession in Bnei Brak, Dec. 12, 2017.

Hundreds of thousands of people are participating today, Tuesday, in the funeral of Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian community who passed away at the age of 104. Large police forces are guarding the funeral and blocking roads in the area. Police estimate that 600,000 people are participating in the funeral procession.

President Reuven Rivlin addressed Rabbi Shteinman’s death and said that “he has charted a path for countless Jews and his death leaves a deep sense of orphanhood today.”

Opposition Chairman MK Isaac Herzog also expressed regret over Rabbi Shteinman’s passing and said that he shares “in the tremendous pain of a large public who mourn the passing of one of the greatest rabbis of Israel.”

Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman’s funeral procession in Bnei Brak, Dec. 12, 2017. / Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Rabbi Shteinman’s death was determined on Tuesday morning at the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, and his funeral procession left his home in Bnei Brak in the direction of the Beit Hayim cemetery, where he will be buried.

According to Channel 1 News, during the transfer of the body, tens of thousands of followers surrounded the ambulance, and some climbing on top of nearby bus shelters. Police warned that the massive crowds posed danger to the elderly and to children, and asked the public attending the funeral to act with extreme caution.

Route 4, leading north from the Jerusalem highway, was closed to traffic near Bnei Brak from 10 AM to 6 PM.

Ibrahim Munir, the Man Who Keeps the Muslim Brotherhood Alive

Among the lesser known, yet most influential leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood organization is the Egyptian-born British national Ahmed Ibrahim Munir Mustafa. Known simply as Ibrahim Munir, he is the global Brotherhood's secretary general and interim supreme guide.

The Brotherhood faces a great succession dilemma with many of its Egyptian leadership jailed and facing trials. A controversial old Islamic jurisprudence fatwa states that captured men or prisoners of wars cannot lead their nation or groups. Accordingly, incumbent Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie cannot lead the group while he is in an Egyptian prison.

Several names were mentioned as a possible new supreme guide, among them Mahmoud Ezzat, a leading Brotherhood member since the 1960s, who is believed to be in hiding in Gaza and is wanted by Egyptian authorities for allegedly orchestrating the violence taking place in Egypt. But Ezzat announced in 2016 that he did not want the title and recommended Ibrahim Munir.

But group members and leaders in Egypt question the 80-year-old Munir's leadership abilities as they fight against the Egyptian state and wish to substitute him with a wartime general guide. Younger members who followed the late Brotherhood leader Mohamed Kamal indicated their desire for a more vicious supreme guide. While the Muslim Brotherhood leadership tried to keep the news of the succession war a secret, the divisions and resignations have rocked the group and shattered any image of unity.

The double messages

Among his Brotherhood duties, Ibrahim Munir supervises the content of IkwhanWeb, the group's English-language website, and its weekly journal Risalat al-Ikhwan. English-language statements tend to be much more sanitized and tolerant than what the Brotherhood tells its Arabic-speaking audience.

Munir followed the taqqiya principal – a precautionary concealment or denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution – in all his English language communications with the media and United Kingdom politicians. The Brotherhood is a Sunni movement with a Salafist tradition, while taqqiya remains a practice found in the Shiite denomination of Islam.

For example, Munir told a British Parliament committee that sharia laws tolerate apostates, but that statement contradicts the beliefs and teachings of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. It also avoided answering questions about the Brotherhood's positions toward minorities such as homosexuals.

An example of the Brotherhood's dual messaging came in September 2012 when a group of Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood stormed the American Embassy to protest what was dubbed as an anti-Islamic movie. In Arabic, they called upon all "Egyptians to rise to defend the Prophet" in a million-man march directed towards U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Munir's London-based IkhwanWeb, on the other hand, tweeted a statement from deputy head Khairat Al Shater: "relieved none of @USembassycairo staff were harmed," while expressing hopes that Egyptian-American relations could weather the storm. However, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo twitter account mocked the tweet in English: "Thanks, by the way, have you checked your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too."

Ibrahim Munir meets in London last July with Ayatollah Khamenei's personal representative Mohsen Araki.

Despite their following different religious denominations the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran have had relations for decades, as many Brotherhood leaders frequently visit Iran as guests of the regime. The first meeting between Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of the Islamic revolution took place in 1945 – more than three decades before the 1979 Islamic revolution. Moreover, the only time an Iranian president visited Egypt after the revolution came during Mohamed Morsi's ill-fated one-year reign in 2013 when Mahmoud Ahmedinejad traveled to Egypt. Munir, along with other Brotherhood officials, have maintained strong ties with Iranian leaders. During a July conference on Islamophobia, Munir was among Brotherhood members to meet in London with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's personal representative, Mohsen Araki....

Menorah lightings planned around the world for Hanukkah

FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2016, file photo, a giant Hanukkah menorah, center, set up by the Jewish Chabad Educational Center, is illuminated at the Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Menorah lightings are planned there again this year for Hanukkah, which begins Tuesday, and at other landmarks and destinations around the world. (Markus Schreibe, File/Associated Press)

Public menorah lightings for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah are planned around the world in locations ranging from ski towns and Caribbean islands to famous landmarks and sports arenas.

Hanukkah begins Tuesday night and lasts for eight days.

If you’re traveling or vacationing during the holiday, there may be a menorah lighting near you. The Jewish outreach organization Chabad-Lubavitch plans Hanukkah events in hundreds of cities, from the 50 U.S. states to 100 countries.

Celebrations in Vail, Colorado, will include menorahs made from skis. In New Mexico, organizers hope to create a one-of-a-kind menorah made from hot-air balloons on Dec. 17 in Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park, which hosts the International Balloon Fiesta each October. Vacationers in destinations like Cancun, Mexico, and Aruba will also have menorah lightings to attend, along with one in Curacao, home to the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere dating to 1732.

Many ceremonies will take place in front of landmarks, including the White House in Washington, D.C., Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Kremlin in Moscow and Germany’s Brandenburg Gate. London’s Trafalgar Square will host a 30-foot (9-meter) menorah outfitted with specially designed environmentally friendly bulbs, commissioned by the London Climate Change Agency.

The world’s largest menorah, standing 36 feet high (11 meters), will be lit just outside Central Park in New York City across from the Plaza Hotel at Grand Army Plaza. That menorah lighting began in 1977 and marks its 40th consecutive year this month.

Sports arenas are also hosting Hanukkah events, including the NBA arenas of the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks; the NHL arenas of the Arizona Coyotes, New York Islanders, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets; and the NFL stadium of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thousands of people are expected Dec. 18 for a Hanukkah concert and menorah lighting at Gulfstream Park, the horse racing track in Hallandale Beach, Florida, near Miami.

Elsewhere around the world, events are expected in countries ranging from Australia to Laos to Uganda to Argentina.

Listings by location may be found at

Members of the ‘This is Bahrain’ group say they were sent by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ‘with a message of peace’

Members of the 'This is Bahrain' group during a visit to Israel in December 2017. (Screen capture: Hadashot TV)
Members of the 'This is Bahrain' group during a visit to Israel in December 2017. (Screen capture: Hadashot TV)

The delegation, which is made up of 24 members of the “This is Bahrain” group — which on its website heralds a commitment to a vision of “religious freedom and peaceful co-existence where we all live together in harmony in the spirit of mutual respect and love” — is in Israel for a four-day visit meant to send a message of religious tolerance and coexistence.

“The king sent us with a message of peace to the whole world,” a Shiite cleric on the trip told Hadashot TV news, which aired a report on Saturday about the group.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The cleric said that Shiites, who make up a majority of the Sunni ruled country, do not harbor ill will towards members of any other faiths.

“The Shiites in Bahrain and outside don’t feel hatred, they don’t carry a message of loathing or hate towards any religion or religious stream whatsoever,” he said.

Bahrain faced protests from its Shiite community following the outbreak of the Arab Spring across the region in 2011. With the help of Saudi Arabia, which sent troops across the causeway separating the two countries, Bahrain put down the demonstrations, which it accused Shiite majority Iran of helping orchestrate.

Like Israel, Bahrain has extremely fraught relations with Iran, and the September report, from the Middle East Eye website, quoted an unnamed Bahraini official as saying the establishment of ties between Jerusalem and Manama could help counter Iran....

Update: Subway Bombing in NYC a Terror Attack

The mayor of New York City and the New York governor agree, Manhattan is always "a target."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speak to reporters Monday following an attempted terror attack in a Manhattan subway station. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday the bombing in an underground subway platform near Times Square was "an attempted terrorist attack" carried out by 27-year-old Akayed Ullah.

However, he was "unsuccessful in his aims," de Blasio said at a press conference, adding there are no other credible threats to the city and no additional known activities or incidents.

"The choice of New York is always for a reason because we're a beacon to the world and we actually show that a society of many faiths and many backgrounds can work and we show that democracy can work and our enemies want to undermine that and the terrorists want to undermine that," de Blasio said.

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neil told reporters the suspect was wearing an improvised, low-tech explosive device strapped to his body. The device was intentionally detonated while Ullah was walking underground from the 42nd Street and 8th Avenue subway platform to the 42nd Street and 7th Avenue avenue platform.

Ullah suffered major injuries, including burns and wounds to his abdomen, and was transported to Bellevue hospital. Three other people took themselves to other nearby hospitals, reporting minor injuries, including ringing in the ears and headaches, New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

When asked if the bomber had connections to ISIS, O'Neil said Ullah "made statements," but declined to comment further. The Joint Terrorist Task Force is running a background check on Ullah.

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the "reality is, we are a target … but we are a savvy people and we have the best law enforcement on the globe."

Although there was a disruption of train and bus service while law enforcement searched the area, most services have resumed, and officials say full service will be running by tonight's rush hour commute.

Putin Visits Syria, Announces Russian Troop Withdrawal

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) embraces Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Nov. 20, 2017.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday he has ordered his military to withdraw a "significant part" of Russia's forces from Syria.

He made the announcement during a surprise visit to Russia's Hemeimeem airbase in Latakia province, where he also met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russian forces joined the Syrian conflict in late 2015 in support of Assad's military.

Putin said Monday that Russian and Syrian forces had defeated the "most battle-ready group of international terrorists," in an apparent reference to the Islamic State group.

Syrian state media said Assad thanked Putin for Russia's role in the fight against terrorism in Syria and that the Syrian people will not forget what the Russian military achieved.

Russia plans to keep Hemeimeem airbase as well as a naval facility in Tartus.

The visit to Syria was Putin's first, and came on his way to talks to Cairo.

Russia's intervention in Syria helped stabilize Assad's effort to defeat rebels who have fought since 2011 to force him from power. The conflict started as peaceful protests that were met with a strong government crackdown and eventually led to a civil war that also included the emergence of the Islamic State group in large areas of eastern Syria.

Forces opposing Islamic State have made large gains during the past year in both Iraq and Syria, including pushing the militants out of their major strongholds in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. The United States has led its own coalition of militaries providing airstrikes and other support to fighters on the ground in both countries.

Multiple efforts to bring about productive peace talks to end the fighting in Syria have proven unsuccessful as millions of people fled their homes. The latest attempt at finding a negotiated peace is going on in Geneva, led by the United Nations.

Europe, Be a Fair Friend

  • Today, December 11, 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and have breakfast with the foreign ministers of all 28 EU member states. Israel’s sentiments accompany him.
  • Today, the Jewish people, along with all people of goodwill, are commemorating an event that has finally given historical justice to an issue that is 3,000 years old: Jerusalem has been recognized by the United States as the State of Israel’s capital.
  • How many times have you, European officials, visited Israel and the shrines of the three monotheistic religions? Today, Israel diligently preserves the fragile status quo allowing freedom of religion to all faiths, despite ongoing attacks that predominantly target Jews and jeopardize the delicate balance in this?sanctum sanctorum?area of Jerusalem’s Old City.
  • The Palestinian narrative rejects the indivisible relationship between the Jewish People, its homeland, and its capital, Jerusalem. That unyielding rejection has led any peace process into a deadlock.
  • For years, the relationship between Europe and Israel has been strained. Europe tends to criticize Israel for simply defending itself against the continual threats and terrorist attacks it faces on all its borders and inside its cities. The EU has never recognized the dangers that Hamas and Hizbullah pose, as well as many other jihadist groups.
  • In the 1980s, Europe developed the idea that it would weaken its relations with the Arab world if it showed sympathy and friendship to Israel. Objectively, this concept has come to an end. Europe: Israel’s fight for its survival and the survival of the Jewish people is also your battle.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Europe on December 9, 2017, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron on December 10 and will meet with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and have breakfast with the foreign ministers of all 28 EU member states on December 11. Former member of the Italian Parliament, Fiamma Nirenstein, wrote this letter to European officials the Prime Minister is likely to meet....

Remarks at a UN Security Council Meeting on the U.S. Decision to Move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Thank you, Mr. President. The Jewish people are a patient people. Throughout three thousand years of civilization, foreign conquest, exile, and return, Jerusalem has remained their spiritual home. For nearly 70 years, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel, despite many attempts by others to deny that reality.

The American people are less patient. In 1948, the United States was the first nation to recognize the independent state of Israel. In 1995, the U.S. Congress declared that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel, and that the U.S. Embassy should be located in Jerusalem.

Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all agreed with that position, but they did not act. They delayed, in the hopes that a peace process would produce results – results that never came.

For 22 years, the American people have overwhelmingly supported that position, and they have waited . . . and waited. This week, President Trump finally made the decision to no longer deny the will of the American people.

It’s important to be clear about exactly what the President’s decision does. The President has announced that the United States recognizes the obvious – that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He has also instructed the State Department to begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That is what the President has done.

And this is what he has not done: The United States has not taken a position on boundaries or borders. The specific dimensions of sovereignty over Jerusalem are still to be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians in negotiations. The United States has not advocated changing any of the arrangements at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. The President specifically called for maintaining the status quo at the holy sites.

Finally, and critically, the United States is not predetermining final status issues. We remain committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement. We support a two-state solution if agreed to by the parties.

Those are the facts of what was said and done this week. Now, there are a few more points that are central to the discussion of this issue.

Israel, like all nations, has the right to determine its capital city. Jerusalem is the home of Israel’s parliament, president, prime minister, Supreme Court, and many of its ministries.

It is simple common sense that foreign embassies be located there. In virtually every country in the world, U.S. embassies are located in the host country’s capital city. Israel should be no different.

The United States took this step in full knowledge that it will raise questions and concerns. Our actions are intended to help advance the cause of peace. We must recognize that peace is advanced, not set back, when all parties are honest with each other. Our actions reflected an honest assessment of reality....


Trump peace team believes it can ride out Arab anger

Trump team officials: Israel's presence in Jerusalem is right and just.

Palestinian protesters burn a poster depicting US President Donald Trump and a representation of a US flag during a protest against Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City . (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – In quiet deliberations over whether to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to move the American Embassy there from Tel Aviv, or both, President Donald Trump and his Middle East peace team determined that the Palestinian Authority needs the US too much to walk away from it.

The Americans are convinced that their plan to revive negotiations toward the ultimate deal can survive what they expect will be a temporary burst of anger across the Arab world.

White House officials told The Jerusalem Post that Trump’s decision was made separately from a deliberative, 10-month effort to restart direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations. Both men served in consultative roles in the Jerusalem debate alongside the president’s National Security Council and his political supporters.

But Trump’s dramatic action on Wednesday was ultimately driven by the president himself.

“This was not designed,” one White House official said. “This was a separate decision from the [peace] process. But as you can see from the president’s speech, we remain incredibly committed.”

Administration officials told the Post they take seriously Palestinian and Arab concerns and understand the reaction that has followed Trump’s speech. But they hope their anger will pass, and expect Ramallah in particular will realize that the Palestinians' only chance of achieving sovereignty is with the help of Washington. They believe Arab world powers no longer prioritize the Palestinian issue in such a way that it will affect bilateral relations – and furthermore still believe their leverage over their Arab allies, seeking help pushing back against Iran, will keep their peace process on track.

And they also believe that Israel’s presence in Jerusalem is right and just, regardless of how negotiations ultimately settle its final status.

“We know there will be short-term pain,” the official said, “but in the long term, this action will help with those conversations.”

Trump’s historic address broke from 70 years of US policy on Jerusalem – consistent with international standards – which left the fate of the ancient city up for Israelis and Palestinians to decide. Virtually every government in the world opposed the move, warning it could destabilize the region and make forging Israeli-Palestinian peace even harder than it was before.

Israel insists the city must remain its undivided capital, and the Palestinians demand a capital of their own in its eastern districts – but Israel’s seat of government stays in Jerusalem either way, Trump concluded, leading to his decision.

“He reiterated his commitment to peace, and nothing in his speech prevents a peace process from happening – and we made very clear that we’re not prejudging any final-status negotiations,” an official said....

Islamist Regimes Take Over UNESCO

  • The UN agency is currently dominated by the most oppressive regimes on education and culture. There is China, which recently let writer, poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo die an agonizing death in prison, where he was serving an 11-year jail sentence for his support of human rights and democracy. Then there is Iran, where a dean of journalism, Siamak Pourzand, committed suicide to avoid more persecution by the regime.

  • "UNESCO has been hijacked and abused as a tool for the persecution of Israel and the Jewish people, while concocting fake facts and fake history, meant to... rewrite global history." — Carmel Shama Hacohen, Israel's ambassador to UNESCO.

  • If UNESCO is really serious about reforming itself, it should immediately issue a statement against the Islamization of Turkey's Hagia Sophia Cathedral, a UN World Heritage Site.

Hit by the departure of the United States and Israel, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently welcomed its new Director-General, former French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay. Those who care about cultural diversity and Western civilization hailed her election, because the representative of Qatar's Islamist regime had come close to winning UNESCO's leadership race. But the real problem is that UNESCO has been abandoned to Islamist dictatorships. A battle to save the organization has begun.

Among the critics of UNESCO there is a tendency to dismiss this agency as "irrelevant". Yet, so long as UNESCO exists, the West cannot allow repressive regimes to dominate the world's highest body supposedly in charge of culture, science and education. Richard Hoggart, the British scholar who served as UNESCO's assistant director general from 1970 to 1977, once asked: "Should Unesco Survive?".

The UN agency is currently dominated by the most oppressive regimes in regard to education and culture. There is China, which in July let writer, poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo die an agonizing death in prison, where he was serving an 11-year jail sentence for his support of human rights and democracy. Then there is Iran, where a dean of journalism, Siamak Pourzand, committed suicide to avoid more persecution by the regime. Last week, the assistant director for Education of UNESCO, Qian Tang, was in Iran to advance "cultural cooperation" with the Islamic Republic, but the issue of cultural freedom in the Iran was not even raised by the envoy of the UN agency. There is also Pakistan, a country that has sentenced to death essentially for being a Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, whose condition has never even been questioned by UNESCO. There is Qatar, where a poet, Rashid at Ajami, was sentenced to three years in prison for a poem critical of the emir Hamad bin Khalifa at Thani.

Irina Bokova, then Director-General of UNESCO, is pictured speaking at China's official Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, on May 14, 2017. Two months later, the Chinese government let writer, poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo die an agonizing death in prison, where he was serving an 11-year jail sentence for his support of human rights and democracy. (Photo by Mark Schiefelbein - Pool/Getty Images)

UNESCO has become a grotesque forum, hosting shows such as that orchestrated by Cuba. Last June, Cuba complained of a minute of silence for Holocaust victims, but was able to hold another one for the Palestinians. At the opening of UNESCO's 39th General Conference in Paris, the United Arab Emirates' delegation placed a box containing a medal on the desk of each foreign delegation in honor of the UAE having sponsored the renovation of the conference hall. No box, however, was placed on the desk of Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen. These farces are nothing new at UNESCO. And they must end. The UN agency cannot allow the "uncivilized regimes", as Shama-Hacohen called them, to continue to bully and vandalize Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.

Islamic regimes launched a takeover bid for UNESCO by investing massive financial resources and political lobbying at the UN cultural agency. Qatar, the wealthiest state in the world per capita, provided extremely generous financial support. That is why a Qatari representative, the former Minister of Culture Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kawari, for days led the recent race for the leadership of UNESCO. The Simon Wiesenthal Center charged Qatar with bribing countries to win votes for the UN agency post. The Wiesenthal Center then launched an appeal to prevent Iran from becoming the head of UNESCO's executive board. Meanwhile, Turkey, another country with an Islamist regime that bullies culture and freedom, joined the executive board.