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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Anti-Semitic group plans rally in Jewish area of London

An anti-Semitic group is planning a rally against the “Jewification of Great Britain” in an area of north London with a strong ultra-Orthodox population. 

The rally, set for March 22, is organized by a group called “Liberate Stamford Hill”, referring to a district of the British capital that has the highest concentration of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Europe.

The Haredi community in Stamford Hill sparked controversy last year when posters reading “Women should please walk along this side of the road only” were seen in the area. The posters were quickly taken down, and community leaders said that they only applied to a Torah procession event and were to cater for religious men who wanted to avoid contact with the opposite sex. The rally organizers make reference to this incident in their promotional material, as well as to a volunteer commuity watch group known as the “Shomrim” (Hebrew for guards). 

“We are demonstrating against the illegal and unlawful Jewish Shomrim Police that are enforcing talmudic law on British streets,” says the protest’s Facebook page. “These armed thugs are impersonating our police yet they have not been arrested in doing so, in fact, they are supported by the Metropolitan police. In Stamford Hill, Whites are openly spat at in the street and made to feel as if they are Second-Class citizens in their own country, we say ENOUGH White Man, It’s time we fightback!” 

Later, a post by the group reads: “We certainly can’t promise a Nuremberg rally, the budget just doesn’t cover that much just yet.” The post was in response to a tweet by the North London Anti-Fascist action group, which says it will release a statement on the rally soon.  

The group remains defiant in the face of widespread condemnation and apparent plans for a counter-protest on the same day. 

“The Jews are mobilising an Anti-White army against us,” said the group in a post on Facebook. “We welcome the opposition, any chance to show how both the Left-Wing and Jews are working hand-in-hand is an opportunity to be taken advantage of.” 



Friday, 30 January 2015

Israeli Arab ISIS member arrested, interviewed,7340,L-4616056,00.html
A few weeks ago the Israeli security services uncovered in Northern Israel six members of ISIS terror cell. The cell’s main organizer – Adnan Jameel Ala Adin - 39 years old from Nazareth, has been a successful Israeli Arab lawyer. He recruited other young Arabs to join and fight along with ISIS in Syria. In his farm they trained in assembling Molotov bombs, they bought sheep to train in beheading, all with the objective of escaping to Syria.  

On his facebook page Ala Adin posted the famous Hadith calling on Muslims to find the Jews behind the rock and to kill him. (I need the exact name of the Hadith and its number etc) He added the following: “Does anyone still have the temerity to doubt the virtue of this Hadith?

To the rest of his cell members, Ala Adin described himself as the future ISIS military chief of staff in Palestine.

Swedish politician: IS-terrorists are "victims"

Muslims traveling from Sweden to the Middle East to commit mass murder 
and rape in the Islamic state, are "victims of violence", says the new 
Moderate leader Anna Kinberg Batra, to the newspaper Expressen.

in an interview during the international summit in Davos as Kinberg 
Batra is asked how she wants to meet the Swedes growing concern for acts
of terrorism committed by returning IS-terrorists.

- The 
important thing is that there must be fewer who can become victims of 
violence. To be enlisted as a warrior to exercise deadly force is 
actually being victims of violence and to contribute to the spread in 
the world, says the M-top to Expressen.

The 44-year-old 
politician emphasizes that the most important thing now is that measures
are designed to combat that terrorist travel, not "make it difficult 
for openness". She emphasizes that we do not want a society where one 
does not let "adults go on holiday."

Anna Kinberg Batra's words has faced fierce criticism on social media.

stifling conservatism now. Liberalism is rewarding terrorists with tax 
money and repeat the word transparency as often as possible", writes 
researcher Tino Sanandaji in a post on Twitter.

In several EU 
countries, like Britain and Denmark, they are discussing how to stop the
terror-tourists, by withdrawing their nationality or prosecute them for
treason. In Sweden however, politicians have opted for a softer line. 
The government's so-called extremism coordinator, former S-leader Mona 
Sahlin, for example, wants that returning terrorists should be given taxpayer-founded jobs as a way to break their "alienation".

During talks, Iran has executed 700+ people & enriched Uranium for 2 nukes.

Stop the Clock on a Nuclear Iran

Prevent Nuclear War in Middle East with an Insurance Policy for the President’s Diplomacy

During negotiations with the United States, Iran has executed over 700 people, produced enough enriched uranium for 2 nuclear bombs and advanced a nuclear bomb-making program that brings us closer to nuclear war in the Middle East (see chart). In fact, Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Iran is only 2 months away from nuclear breakout. The clock is ticking on a nuclear Iran, and American citizens held hostage by Iran’s mullahs — such as Pastor Saeed Abedini and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian — can’t afford for us to wait.

Today I introduced S. 269, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill to give the American people an insurance policy if the President’s diplomacy with Iran fails. Known as the Kirk-Menendez bill, the legislation would impose crippling economic pressure if Iran refuses to agree to a deal that decisively ends its nuclear threat by the Administration’s own June 30th deadline.

The Chicago TribuneWall Street Journal, and Washington Post have endorsed the Kirk-Menendez Iran legislation. That’s, in part, because even the President admits that earlier Iran sanctions laws co-authored by Senator Kirk forced Iran back to negotiations. Kirk-led Iran sanctions decreased the value of Iranian currency by 73%, crippling Iran’s economy (see chart).

By temporarily easing sanctions during the current negotiations, however, the Administration has reversed the effect of the Menendez-Kirk sanctions. During 2015, Iran’s economy is projected to grow for the first time since 2012. The administration would rather appease Iran with enough money to fund Hezbollah for over 40 years than use the tried and true method of sanctions to force Iran to take negotiations seriously (see chart).

Congress now needs to maintain a united front in order to stop the regime from getting nuclear weapons. In fact, Congress has already passed sanctions with a veto-proof majority four times:

  • The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010(Public Law 111-195) passed the Senate in a 99-to-0 vote on June 24, 2010, and the House in a 408-to-8 vote on June 24, 2010.
  • During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81), the Menendez-Kirk amendment to impose Central Bank of Iran (CBI) sanctions passed the Senate in a 100-to-0 vote on December 1, 2011. 
  • The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-158) passed the House in a 421-to-6 vote on August 1, 2012, and the Senate in a voice vote on August 1, 2012.
  • During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 112-239), the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012, a Menendez-Kirk-Lieberman amendment to impose sanctions on Iran’s energy, shipping, and shipbuilding and port sectors, passed the Senate in a 94-to-0 vote on November 30, 2012. 

A good nuclear deal with Iran will be comprehensive, airtight and long-lasting. I hope for a diplomatic breakthrough, but without new economic pressure, Iran will only get closer to a nuclear bomb.

Read the full bill here: 

French Police Question 8-Year-Old Who Expressed Support Of Charlie Hebdo Attackers

AP Photo

AP Photo

(AP). Police detained and questioned an 8-year-old boy from the south of France who claimed to support the men who attacked the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, drawing criticism Thursday that France’s measures to prevent people from defending terrorism have gone overboard.

Dozens of people have been arrested and accused of defending terrorism since the attacks, with some already drawing yearslong prison terms in special expedited court proceedings. But the child from the southern city of Nice appears to be the youngest by far.

The boy declared “The French must be killed. I am with the terrorists. The Muslims did well, and the journalists got what they deserved,” Fabienne Lewandowski, deputy director for public security in the Alpes-Maritimes region, told BFM television. She said the child also refused to take part in the national minute of silence for the victims on Jan. 9.

The storming of the newspaper offices left 12 people dead and launched three days of terror in the Paris region that killed a total of 20 people, including the gunmen. The school director brought a complaint against the child on Jan. 21 and he was questioned that day with his father and a lawyer present.

“The reason we questioned him was to determine what could have influenced, what could have driven this child to say something like this,” Lewandowski said. “It’s a shame that it happened in a formal questioning, but given what he said it was necessary to go further than usual.”

Sefen Guez Guez, a lawyer for the family, said the decision to question the child at a police station that day shows a “collective hysteria.”

“An 8-year-old does not belong in a police station. This is disproportionate and completely unreal,” he said.

Poll: 20% Of Israeli Jews Identify As National-Religious


The Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) has released its first comprehensive survey of Israel’s national-religious community. 21% of Israeli Jews state that, to a large or very large extent, they belong to the National-Religious sector in terms of both their lifestyle and outlook.

This is much larger than previously thought. (23% state they belong to a slight extent, and 53% state they do not belong at all.) The institute ran a survey to explore the opinions of this sector of Israeli society.

Change in Religiosity on the Societal Level: 45% of the national-religious believe Israeli society has become more religious in recent years. 25% believe that Israeli society has remained the same, and 24% believe it has become more secular.

Change in Personal Religiosity: 59% of the national-religious believe that they personally have stayed at the same level of religiosity in recent years, while 32% have become more religious and 8% have become more secular.

Religious Self-Definition: When asked to select which best describes themselves, 11% identified as Haredi (ultra-Orthodox), 6% as Torani / Haredi-Leumi (Hardal), 31% as National-Religious, 12% as liberal or Modern Orthodox, 24% as traditional-religious, 9% as traditional non-religious, 1% as formerly religious, and 3% as secular.

Land and Settlements
Jewish Majority vs. Land of Israel: 62% of the national-religious believe that it is more important that the State of Israel have a Jewish majority than the entire Land of Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. 22% believe that Israeli sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean is more important than Israel maintaining a Jewish majority.

Refusal of Orders: 45% of the national-religious think a soldier should not refuse to follow orders even if he is opposed to a government decision to evacuate Jewish communities in the West Bank. 40% of the national-religious are in favor of refusal under such a scenario.

Moral Standing Post-Disengagement: 69% of the national-religious do not think that the State of Israel lost its moral standing and one should therefore not obey its laws after the unilateral disengagement and expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif. 25% of the national-religious do think the state lost its moral standing and one can disobey its laws.

Rabbinic Rulings on Political Issues: 58% of the national-religious personally attach quite a lot or a lot of importance to the halakhic rulings of rabbis on controversial political issues. 37% of the national-religious attach no or quite little importance to halakhic rulings on controversial political issues.

Rabbinic Authority Over MKs: 51% of the national-religious believe that religious Members of Knesset should be subject to rabbinic authority when making political decisions. 43% of the national-religious do not believe that religious MKs should be subject to rabbinic authority when making political decisions.

Amending the Law of Return: 83% of the national-religious believe that automatic Israeli citizenship should be granted only to immigrants who are Jewish according to Jewish law.

Civil Marriage: 52% of the national-religious oppose instituting civil marriage. 24% support instituting civil marriage only for those not entitled to marry through the Chief Rabbinate. 21% favor instituting civil marriage for all who prefer it.

Public Transportation on Shabbat: 60% of the national-religious oppose public transportation on Shabbat in areas where there are not many religious Jews. 36% of the national-religious support public transportation on Shabbat in areas where there are not many religious Jews.

Gays in Shul: 48% of the national-religious would not accept same-gender couples in their synagogue, while 45% would accept them.

Women as Religious Judges: 48% of the national-religious support allowing women to serve as judges in religious courts, while 42% oppose allowing women in this role.

Israeli Independence Day: 57% of the national-religious see Israeli Independence Day as mainly an Israeli civic holiday, while 23% see it mainly as a Jewish religious holiday.

Foreign Policy / Security Spectrum: 47% of the national-religious identified themselves on the foreign policy / security spectrum as right-wingers, 31% as moderate right-wingers, 10% as centrists, 2% as moderate left-wingers, and 1% as left-wingers.

Vote in 2013 Knesset Elections: 24% of the national-religious stated that they voted for Bayit Yehudi in the last election, while 23% voted for Likud Beytenu. 9% voted for Shas, 5% for United Torah Judaism, 3% for Yesh Atid and for Labor, 2% for Otzma LeYisrael and for Hatnua, and 1% for Kadima.

This survey, conducted from August 18 to September 2, 2013 and from October 1 to November 7, 2013, included a sample group of 978 respondents who identified themselves as belonging to the national-religious sector out of a representative nationwide sample of 4,597 adults residing in Israel. The maximum measurement error for a sample of this size is ±3.2%.

EU Plans To Step Up Fght On Online Jihadi Propaganda

AP Photo

AP Photo

(AP). The EU on Thursday called for more help from Internet companies to fight online terrorist propaganda in the face of the terror attacks in France.

Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters in Riga that the EU needs to deepen cooperation with the Internet industry “and to strengthen the commitment of social media platforms in order to reduce illegal content online.”

Already before this month’s shooting massacres carried out by Islamic extremists in Paris, EU officials had been reaching out to Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other companies to discuss ways of removing jihadist propaganda from the Internet.

“We are now taking this cooperation further by deepening dialogue … in order to develop concrete, workable solutions,” Avramopoulos said.

But policing the vast amount of material posted on social media is a major challenge.

Google said Wednesday that the sheer volume on its YouTube website, with about 300 hours of video material being uploaded every minute, makes it tough to catch all terror-related content.

Groups like Islamic State using online videos as recruitment tools. In a rare speech earlier this month, British domestic spy chief Andrew Parker said the group’s skill at using social media means it has been able to spread its message to virtually every home in Britain.

Omar Ramadan, head of the Radicalization Awareness Network, a European group tackling extremism, said removing terror-related content from the Internet wasn’t enough.

“If you’re only taking down content and not worrying about the people watching content, they will be searching for content elsewhere,” Ramadan told The Associated Press on the sidelines of an EU interior ministers’ meeting in Riga. “We should prevent them from searching such content by feeding them counter-narratives, telling them that jihadist propaganda is a lie.”

Security officials say more than 3,000 Europeans have gone to Syria to join extremists there as foreign fighters, sparking worries they will bring the battle home when they return.

Church of England is investigating a vicar accused of posting a Facebook article blaming Israel for 9/11 attacks.

  • From the section UK
Attack of World Trade Centre
The 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania in 2001 claimed nearly 3,000 lives

The Church of England is investigating a vicar accused of posting an article on Facebook blaming Israel for the 9/11 attacks in the US.

The Reverend Stephen Sizer, vicar of Christ Church, in Virginia Water, Surrey, allegedly posted a link to an article entitled: "9/11 Israel did it."

He reportedly wrote: "Is this anti-Semitic? It raises so many questions."

The Diocese of Guildford said it was taking "immediate steps" to investigate.

A spokesman for the diocese - which oversees Mr Sizer - said it was a matter of "deep sorrow and shame" that the posts appeared in the same week as the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

"Our attention has been drawn to comments by the Rev Stephen Sizer on social media. In those comments Rev Sizer linked to an article entitled '9/11 Israel did it'," the spokesman said.

'Beyond absurd'

"These comments would rightly be seen as unacceptable whenever they were posted. It is a matter of deep sorrow and shame that they have been posted in this week of all weeks.

"The Diocese of Guildford, where the Rev Sizer is licensed, is taking immediate steps to investigate. The diocese is aware of the seriousness of the matter and are also in touch with the Board of Deputies of British Jews."

BBC religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt said Mr Sizer had a history of disputes with Jewish community leaders over blog postings on Israel and Zionism.

In 2013, Dr Sizer and the Board of Deputies of British Jews reached a mediated agreement aimed at ending a long-running dispute over postings on his blog about Israel and Palestine.

Our correspondent said Mr Sizer had removed the Facebook post but reportedly continued to defend it, saying he was encouraging debate about "serious allegations" over 9/11.

Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the Jewish News: "Posting, and giving approval to, an article which in effect accuses Jews of responsibility for the 9/11 atrocity is unquestionably anti-Semitic, just as it is beyond absurd."

Don't call her the 'Russian candidate': Meet Ksenia Svetlova latest addition to Tzipi Livni’s ‘Zionist Camp

Don't call her the 'Russian candidate': Meet Ksenia Svetlova

An interview with the latest addition to Tzipi Livni’s ‘Zionist Camp,’ on the heavy price Israel will pay if it can’t solve the Palestinian conflict, how much Russian and Mizrahi immigrants have in common, and whether the Labor/Livni list will consider forming a new government with Netanyahu.

Ksneia Svetlova with Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (Photo by Louisa Green)

Ksenia Svetlova with Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (Photo by Louisa Green)

In the Israeli electoral system, party heads often times reserve spots on their parliamentary slates for candidates of their choosing — usually representing geographic regions, people of certain ethnic origins or for women.

It would be a big mistake to reduce Ksenia Svetlova to the “Russian candidate” of the Zionist Camp, the joint list comprised of the Labor party and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua. Svetlova is a veteran field reporter, very eloquent, a senior Arab world analyst for Israel’s Russian-language Channel 9 and regularly writes for a long list of distinguished international publications.

Svetlova is more knowledgable about Palestinian society and politics than most of the people with whom she is heading into the Knesset, is a doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University, speaks four languages, and is the latest in a string of journalists who are making the jump to politics.

Speaking with +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, Svetlova explains why she believes Tzipi Livni still has the best chance to make peace, what to do with settlement blocs and the price Israel will pay if it doesn’t make peace.

The — likely — future Knesset member discusses how the experience of Russian immigrants to Israel is similar to Jews from Arab countries, reveals her favorite Arab singer and the phenomenon of journalists moving into politics.

Is it strange for you to be on the other side?

It is definitely strange, like starting anything new. I held the microphone on the other side of the camera for so long, so yes, it’s very strange. But I didn’t flinch, it’s a new era in my life. Anyway, journalism will always be there, I hope. It won’t disappear.

What do you think about the trend of journalists going into politics?

It’s something that’s always happened; we know that from French and British politics. After you cover things for so long and criticize what others are doing, it’s very tempting to make the jump and do it yourself.

It’s an expression of despair about the current situation. It would have been very easy for me to continue doing what I was doing up until now. I’m well-known enough, I write for various international media outlets; I’m not dependent on my job for financial reasons or anything else — the opposite. But this is such a critical situation, a situation in which most of my friends who think of themselves as Zionists and served here — both Israeli-born and immigrants — are thinking of emigrating. That’s a huge problem that I never thought we would have to deal with. But I never really wanted to be a politician; I dreamed of being a journalist since I was eight years old.

Is the ‘Zionist Camp’ really the place where your politics and values are?

Yes. However, I have no delusions. It’s a large party and like in any large political party there are drawbacks, things that aren’t done properly, especially in relation to immigrants. As an immigrant, there are things that make my heart skip a beat. In the early 1990s, when we were arriving, there was a campaign going on against the immigration [of Soviet Jewry]: they said they’re all drug addicts, whores, etc., and [former Labor Minister] Ora Namir who sent my parents’ generation to go work picking oranges. But things are changing.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by

What will be your main priority as a Knesset member?

First we’ll have to see what our position is in the next Knesset. I hope that we form the next government, in which case we’ll have more opportunities. But there is also no shortage of important things to do from the opposition.

One of the most important things related to my field of interest is advancing the peace process. We are stuck, and it’s not fair to our people or to the other nation that lives here. If we don’t resolve this conflict we will continue to pay very heavy political, security and economic price.

Tzipi Livni led negotiations with the Palestinians, and failed. What reason is there to assume that this time it will be different?

She ran the negotiations in a government that had a problem with her from the very beginning. It is a process that the entire political echelon must stand behind. It’s not a job for one woman, no matter how successful she is. I hear from the Palestinians that they very much appreciated her, but it’s not a one-man game. Just like soccer, you need an entire team, and now that team exists.

Do you think the Palestinians would be willing to give Tzipi Livni another chance?

I’m sure of it. It’s a fact that they said they will wait until after Israel’s elections to put forth the Arab-Palestinian UN resolution. They wouldn’t be waiting if they didn’t think there would be somebody to talk to on the Israeli side after the elections. It’s true that there is a lot of despondency and skepticism on both sides, but the status quo is beginning to break and we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg. It can get a whole lot worse.

There is worrisome radicalization taking place on both sides. A little over a week ago I was in Ramallah and I saw that they recently dedicated Yahya Ayyash Square; a new city square that Abu Mazen named after a Hamas figure. Also in Egypt there is a culture of hatred. We are extolling [Egyptian President] al-Sisi because he is shutting down Hamas’ tunnels — acting on his own interests, by the way, not ours — but at every book fair there are entire shelves of hate-filled books about Israel and Judaism. Does that threaten our peace treaty with Egypt? No. There was never normalization with Egypt, but we have a peace deal that is still standing.

Ksneia Svetlova (Photo by Yasmin Yaira)

Ksenia Svetlova (Photo by Yasmin Yaira)

What are the parameters for ending the conflict, in your view?

Borders are first. A state must have clear and accepted borders that it can defend, both militarily and diplomatically.

Settlement blocs?

I believe that the large settlement blocs will remain under our control.

Including East Jerusalem?

No. There is a lot of “East Jerusalem,” but there are also a lot of layers. Jerusalem was never a city that stretched all the way from Ramallah in the north to Ma’ale Adumim in the south. That’s not East Jerusalem. The Shuafat Refugee Camp is east of Jerusalem, it’s not East Jerusalem.

Do you think it’s wise to be building in the settlement blocs when there aren’t negotiations taking place?

There are people whom the state sent to live there, and therefore, we have a responsibility to them. I know a lot of people, especially new immigrants, who didn’t even know they were beyond the Green Line when they arrived. So we shouldn’t build schools for them? We shouldn’t build them kindergartens? I think the Palestinians also understand the difference between establishing new geographically strategic settlements and building inside settlement blocs that will in any case remain inside the State of Israel.

You are one of very few women who knows the Palestinians better than most of the other candidates in the party, and yet, the slot for a “security expert” is being filled by a man. Is that not frustrating?

On that topic, as opposed to many other issues which I need to learn, like social issues, I absolutely know what I am talking about and I have clear views. On that issue I will certainly make my voice heard; I will have access to the decision makers and I will make sure that I am heard.

How do you think your political views will be received by immigrants from the former Soviet Union?

It’s fair to assume that they will be met with mixed feelings, just like when I expressed them in my coverage and research on the Arab world. But I think that there are more and more people, especially in the younger generations, who are more receptive.

When I went to the south Hebron Hills and filmed Palestinians living without running water in caves because they live in a military firing zone, and then how the children in [the settlement of] Susya have swimming pools, they accused me of putting out left-wing propaganda. But that’s the reality. One of the problems is that there is simply a lack of information. And there are other reasons, of course, like the rejection of socialism, despite the fact that the Labor party has not been socialist for a long time. None of that, however, stopped the Russian population from voting for Yitzhak Rabin in 1992.

The Russian immigrants arrived at a sensitive moment, when everything appeared to begin, and when it all ended. The first checkpoints in the West Bank were erected in 1992, and already in 1994, the first bus bombings began. These are people who came from a relatively stable place and suddenly found themselves in a world where buses explode every day. And they didn’t know what it was like here before that, they didn’t experience the shaky coexistence that preceded that period. They were told that there was nothing here before 1948. That creates fear.

Maybe they didn’t meet Palestinians but they did meet Mizrahi Jews. The mass immigration of Russians was viewed as a threat by many Mizrahi Jews in Israel’s peripheral communities.

In every society, immigration brings out deep-rooted fears because it threatens your place in society. It’s a shame that it didn’t happen earlier, but I see a lot of initiatives and cooperation taking place. I meet with Prof. Shmuel Moreh every two weeks — we are working together to get UNESCO to preserve Jewish sites in Arab countries.

Russian immigrants and Mizrahis have a lot in common despite attempts to turn them against each other: the difficulty of immigration, high levels of poverty, and being stripped of dignity rooted in the cultures we left behind. Where is is all that in Israeli school books? It’s not. Why should we only learn about the Second Aliya (of European Jews).

It’s easier today to be more insistent about preserving your traditions. I, for instance, speak to my children in Russian. It’s important to me that they speak the language. It drives me crazy when I hear about [Jewish Mizrahi immigrants] who were forbidden from speaking Arabic. Why? We live in the Middle East, it’s the language! Or people who were laughed at when they played Farid al-Atrash. It’s beautiful! I prefer Abdel Halim Hafez, but that’s a matter of taste. The attempts to catalogue it as an inferior culture is the same thing they tried to do with the Russians. In Russia, my mother wasn’t able to find work because her passport said she was Jewish. And when we got here we were labeled as Russians, with all of the negative connotations.

And now you find yourself on an election list with the Labor party, the descendants of the Mapai party, which nursed the idea of an Israeli melting pot that was largely responsible for cultural erasure. Do you feel comfortable with them?

Firstly, it’s not the party of Ashkenazi purity. It’s much more diverse. Labor is not the same Labor, just like Likud isn’t the same Likud of Menachem Begin.

What is the first proposed law you would want to work on?

We spoke mostly about issues of security, but I am very interested in dealing with middle-aged immigrants to Israel, regardless of their country of origin, who haven’t been able to retire. These are people who worked every day here, who worked their whole lives in their countries of origin, and they cannot survive on the minuscule pension payments they receive. People are being forced to choose between buying medication and paying their electric bill. I would want to start there, and I believe that we’ll find partners in other parties.

Speaking of partners: Forming a coalition with Netanyahu, yes or no?

I don’t believe that the leaders of the Zionist Camp believe in that, and I hope we won’t need to.

They haven’t ruled out the possibility.

They didn’t rule it out, but the feeling is that we won’t need to. I personally don’t believe that we can move forward together.

A version of this article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

ISIS Operative: This Is How We Send Jihadis To Europe

A small vessel loaded with 353 refugees fleeing Syria off Cyprus' coast in 2014

BuzzFeed News’ Mike Giglio speaks to an ISIS operative in Turkey about the group’s efforts to smuggle fighters to the West.

ANTAKYA, Turkey — An ISIS operative traveled across the Syrian border late last year, settled in a Turkish port city, and began work on a mission to sneak jihadis into Europe. It has been successful, he said, in an interview near the Turkey-Syria border: "Just wait."

The operative, a Syrian in his thirties with a close-cropped black beard, said ISIS is sending covert fighters to Europe — as did two smugglers who said they have helped. He smuggles them from Turkey in small groups, he said, hidden in cargo ships filled with hundreds of refugees. He said the fighters intend to fulfill ISIS's threat to stage attacks in the West. He views this as retaliation for U.S.-led airstrikes against the group that began in Iraq last summer and Syria last fall. "If someone attacks me," he said, speaking with BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity, "then for sure I will attack them back."

Western governments worried even before the airstrikes that ISIS would find ways to get its battle-hardened fighters across their borders. The operative is the first ISIS member involved in these plans to discuss them with the press. He detailed a scheme that takes advantage of the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation, which has sent 3.8 million refugees fleeing Syria's civil war, pouring more than 1.5 million into Turkey alone.

From Turkish port cities like Izmir and Mersin, many thousands of these refugees have ventured across the sea, aiming mainly for Italy. Then they often make for more welcoming countries like Sweden and Germany, turning themselves over to authorities and appealing for asylum. The operative said he worked with smugglers to slip fighters into this chaotic human tide. "They are going like refugees," he said.

Two refugee-smugglers in Turkey said they helped ISIS send fighters to Europe in this way. One put more than 10 of them on his ships, then got cold feet when asked to send more, he told BuzzFeed News last fall. Another said he'd been sending ISIS fighters for months and continues to do so. "I'm sending some fighters who want to go and visit their families," he said in an interview in southern Turkey, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Others just go to Europe to be ready."

Among his colleagues in the port city where he works, the smuggler has a reputation for transporting fighters. BuzzFeed News contacted him after meeting the ISIS operative, seeking to investigate the operative's claims. At first he denied that he smuggled fighters at all; then he said he needed "permission" to discuss the issue with a journalist. Soon after he revealed that he worked for the ISIS operative, who confirmed this and allowed the interview.

The smuggler said some fighters were Syrian. He could tell from their accents that others hailed from elsewhere in the Middle East, while still others spoke Arabic poorly, or not at all. Some told him they were from European countries, he said, and a few claimed to be from the U.S.

Despite crackdowns from Turkish authorities, ISIS continues to move its fighters across a porous, 565-mile border that has long been a transit point for jihadis traveling to and from Syria's war. Those who need them are given fake Syrian passports, the smuggler said, which can be relatively easy to obtain. After he receives the fighters, the smuggler said, he puts them up in a hotel, waiting for the passenger list for the refugee ship to fill and the weather to be right. They leave Turkey like any refugees: on small boats that steal them away to cargo ships anchored in international waters. The smuggler said he had 10 fighters waiting in one port city, "and we will send them on the next ship."

The ISIS operative said this method of moving fighters was important to the group because Western governments, along with Turkish authorities, have stepped up efforts to track jihadis returning from Syria, which makes plane travel from Turkey risky. The scrutiny promises to increase as Western capitals work to prevent terrorist attacks like those that struck France this month, leaving 17 dead. ISIS has more than 20,000 foreigners in its ranks, according to one recent estimate, with more than one-fifth of them citizens or residents of Western European countries. If these jihadis return to Europe in refugee ships, they can travel home via open land borders that receive far less scrutiny than airport security. The ships could also land Syrian or other Middle Eastern fighters in Europe amid the confusion of a refugee crisis that worsens by the day.

Two senior members of the U.S. Senate told BuzzFeed News they had knowledge that ISIS is smuggling fighters to Europe on refugee ships — the first confirmation from U.S. Congressmen that this scenario is underway. "I think it's safe to say that that goes on. To what degree, I'm not sure we know," Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said in an interview on Tuesday.

"We've heard that," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, adding that as the war in Syria grinds on, refugees and ISIS fighters alike will continue to use Turkey to transit in and out of the region.

"If you don't stabilize Syria, you'll never get a handle on this," Graham said. "You're going to have this dilemma of how do you tell a legitimate refugee versus a jihadist going someplace else."

The ISIS operative, a former member of the Syrian security forces, joined the opposition early in the civil war and led a rebel battalion under the banner of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA). He pledged himself and his men to ISIS a year ago, compelled by its vision of building a hardline caliphate. He continued to work as a commander, battling both rebels and the regime, before moving to a role he described as "security," which involved assassinations. In Turkey, he said, he monitors rival rebel groups along the border in addition to his work sending fighters overseas. "It's our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world, and we will have it soon, God willing," he said.

He is a wanted man among his former rebel allies. One FSA commander said he had been hunting for the operative, echoing the details of his defection to ISIS and providing photos of the operative to confirm his identity. "He has killed a lot of FSA leaders," the commander said.

The operative agreed to be interviewed at the urging of a former rebel who fought alongside him early in the war. Sitting at a restaurant in southern Turkey, he had two associates monitor the entrance from a car outside and received calls on his cell phone at 30-minute intervals to confirm that he was safe. He said he had received permission for the meeting from his superior in ISIS — an official referred to internally as an "emir." "There are some things I'm allowed to tell you and some things I'm not," the operative said.

Reached later by an intermediary with established connections to ISIS officials, the emir declined to speak with BuzzFeed News but confirmed that he had approved the meeting with the operative.

At the restaurant, the operative claimed that ISIS had sent some 4,000 fighters to Europe. Given international efforts to clamp down on the group, the number seemed improbably high, and he may have cited it as an attempt to boost the group's stature and spread fear. His other comments suggested a more modest effort in which ISIS struggled to keep ahead of Turkish and Western authorities. "We need to smuggle them quickly," he said of the fighters. But smugglers insisted on waiting until their ships filled well past capacity, the operative said, sometimes with as many as 700 people. "We can't pay for all the refugees just to have enough to send the ship," he said.

The operative said he was forced to move his work from city to city in response to Turkish efforts to crack down on refugee-smuggling. And he worried about being caught. He said he had been advised by his emir to pose as a refugee while in Turkey and to consider finding a regular job as a front.

He said several times that "the whole world" is fighting ISIS, in reference to the international coalition involved in the airstrikes, and said he hoped ISIS attacks in the West would break the coalition's resolve, getting the strikes to stop. He also said he believed any attacks would target Western governments, not civilians — though even if he was sincere, it's something over which he would have no control.

An official with the Turkish foreign ministry said in an emailed statement that authorities were working to combat refugee-smuggling generally. He pointed out that Europe accepts relatively few refugees through legal channels — a fact that likely increases the demand for smuggling. "Illegal migration has been an important issue and Turkey is effectively fighting against it," said the official, who declined to be named. "Of course the most effective way to put an end to all these problems would be immediate action by the international community to solve the Syrian conflict."

The official said Turkey's government was unaware of ISIS smuggling fighters to Europe in refugee ships. "We do not have that particular intelligence," he said.

He added: "Turkey has been taking very tight measures against [ISIS] with all the capabilities the government has."

A prominent refugee-smuggler based in the coastal city of Antalya, who said he did not deal with jihadis, told BuzzFeed News that Turkish authorities had recently questioned him on the subject.

The same smuggler who said he works with ISIS fighters now said authorities grilled him about it too. "I told them no," he said. "All the intelligence agencies around the world are following us and trying to catch us. But if someone asks me if I send fighters, I will say no, I only send refugees to help them find a better life."

With additional reporting by John Stanton in Washington, D.C.

Mike Giglio is a correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in Istanbul. He has reported on the wars in Syria and Ukraine and unrest around the Middle East. 
Contact Mike Giglio at
Munther al-Awad is a journalist based in Istanbul.
Contact Munzer al-Awad at