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21 Israeli Soldiers Killed as Buildings Collapse in Gaza Blast

Friends and family mourn Israeli military reservist Sergeant First Class Hadar Kapeluk, 23 who was killed in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing ground operation of the Israeli army against Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at his funeral at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, January 23, 2024. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israelis mourned their deadliest day since troops entered Gaza at the end of October, with 21 soldiers falling in a single disaster on Monday, alongside three officers who perished in separate fighting.

An unbearably difficult morning, in which more and more names of the best of our sons – the silver tray in the full sense of the word – are added to the hero’s tombstone, in a war that has no justice,said Israels President Isaac Herzog. “The intense battles are taking place in an extremely challenging space, and we are strengthening the soldiers of the IDF and the security forces who are working with endless determination to realize the goals of the fighting. On behalf of the entire nation, I console the families and pray for the healing of the wounded. Even on this sad and difficult morning, we are strong and remember that together we will win,the president added.

The incident unfolded, according to early IDF assessments, after the soldiers in the southern Gaza Strip were attacked by Hamas terrorists firing RPG missiles, one of which hit a tank and set off mines that the IDF had set up for a controlled demolition of a building. The explosion led to the collapse of two buildings nearby where the 21 soldiers were inside clearing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Yesterday we experienced one of the most difficult days since the outbreak of the war. I wish to strengthen the dear families of our heroic warriors who fell on the battlefield.He added The IDF has launched an investigation into the disaster. We must draw the necessary lessons and do everything to preserve the lives of our warriors. In the name of our heroes, for the sake of our lives, we will not stop fighting until the absolute victory.

Other political figures voiced their sorrow over the event.

War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz said This is a difficult morning for all the people of Israel, with the knowledge of the terrible disaster that happened yesterday in the southern Gaza Strip. I would like to strengthen and send my heartfelt condolences to the families of the fallen and wish recovery to the woundedWe are all behind you.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir tweeted a traditional prayer said for the remembrance of the fallen, and is typically recited in Israel on Yom HaZikron, Israels memorial day.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant added This is a war that will determine the future of Israel for decades to come – the fall of the fighters is a requires us to achieve the goals of the war.

Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Lieberman tweeted We bow our heads and salute our heroic warriors who sacrificed their lives in defense of the homeland.

Israelis spoke of the losses as a necessary sacrifice in a war against Hamas fighters who attacked Israeli towns on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing some 250 hostages, more than 100 still held in Gaza.

“You know, it’s our sons, it’s our brothers, it’s terrible – but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do so that Oct. 7 doesn’t happen again,” said Blina Rhodes on the street in Jerusalem. “You have to get rid of Hamas and make Gaza safe for us. Otherwise, we have no place to live.”

The names of the fallen are: Major General (Res.) Itamar Tal, 32 years old, from Kibbutz Masilat, Sergeant major (res.) Adam Bismuth, 35 years old, from Samaria, Major General (Res.) Shay Biton Chayon, 40 years old, from Zichron Yaakov, Major (res.) Daniel Kassau Zagiya, 38 years old, Mikneam Illit, Sergeant major (res.) Matan Lazar, 32 years old, from Haifa, Major General (Res.) Hadar Kapluck, 23 years old, from Mevo Beitar, Sergeant Major (Res.) Sergey Guntmacher, 37 years old, from Ramat Gan, Major General (Res.) Elkana Yehuda Sepaz, 25 years old, from Kiryat Arba, Maj. (Res.) Yuval Lopes, 27 years old, from Alon Shabot, Major (Ret.) Yoav Levy, 29 years old, from Yehud-Monoson, Major (Ret.) Nicholas Berger, 22 years old, from Jerusalem, Major General (Ret.) Cedric Green, 23 years old, from Tel Aviv-Yafo, Sergeant major (res.) Rafael Elias Moshioff, 33 years old, from Pardes Hana-Karkur, Major General (res.) Barak Haim ben Valid, 33 years old, from Rishon Lezion, Major General (res.) Ahmed Abu Latif, 26 years old, from Mahrat, Captain (res.) Nir Binyamin, 29 years old, from Givatayim, Major (res.) Elkana Wiesel, 35 years old, from Bnei Dekalim, Major (responsible) Israel Sokol, 24 years old, from Samaria, Captain (res.) Ariel Mordechai Wolfstal, 28 years old, from Elazar, Major General (Res.) Sagi Idan, 24 years old, from Rosh HaAin, Major General (Res.) Mark Kononovitch, 35 years old, from Herzliya, Major David Nati Alfasi, 27 years old, from Be’er Sheva, Major Eli Levy, 24 years old, from Tel Aviv, and Captain Eyal Mebaruch Toito, 22 years old, from Beit Gamliel.

Contributed reporting from Reuters

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Harvard Alumni File Lawsuit Claiming Campus Antisemitism ‘Devalues’ Their Diplomas

[Illustrative] Harvard University students displaying a pro-Palestinian sign at their May 2022 graduation ceremony. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

A group of ten Harvard University alumni filed a lawsuit against the institution on Wednesday, accusing it of “devaluing” their degrees through permitting and fostering an environment of antisemitism, support for terrorism, and anti-Israel sentiment. 

Filed in a Massachusetts federal court, the alumni claims that Harvard has breached an implicit contract with its graduates, promising to maintain the institution’s prestige, which they allege has been compromised due to a toxic campus environment. This, they argue, has led potential employers and prestigious law firms to distance themselves from Harvard alumni.

“Harvard has directly caused the value and prestige of plaintiffs’ Harvard degrees to be diminished and made a mockery out of Harvard graduates in the employment world and beyond,” the lawsuit said. 

The lawsuit argues that the university’s administration has failed to combat campus anti-semitism, and has consistently overlooked assaults on Jewish students and calls by students and faculty for the annihilation of Israel. It highlighted, among other things, an open letter signed by more than thirty student organizations blaming Israel for the October 7 Hamas-led attack, and campus protests which included chants like “Long live the intifada!” and “There is only one solution: intifada revolution!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab!”

The suit also points to then-Harvard president Claudine Gay’s testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where she stated that calls for genocide against Jews would only violate bullying and harassment policies “depending on the context,” as indicative of the school’s tolerance of antisemitism.

The lawsuit is part of a growing dissatisfaction among graduates over what they perceive as rampant antisemitism on U.S. campuses, according to attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of legal aid group, Shurat HaDin, who is representing the alumni alongside New York-based lawyer, Robert Tolchin.

Darshan-Leitner criticized the colleges for becoming “hate centers” under the guise of academic freedom. 

The lawsuit, Darshan-Leitner said, reveals the “growing outrage and contempt that graduates all across the US are feeling over the wild antisemitism and hate speech being encouraged and explained away on the American campuses.” 

“This dangerous weaponization of higher education by radical faculty and students as well as the impotent administration response, all justified under the guise of academic freedom, has turned the colleges into hate centers which has greatly devalued their reputation and diplomas,” she said, adding that the suit could prompt similar actions from graduates of other institutions.

Tolchin accused the university of succumbing to “the flavor of the month, the lowest level of discourse.”

“Harvard’s seal proclaims “Light and Truth” in Latin and Hebrew–yes, Hebrew, the language spoken by the indigenous Israelites. Yet light and truth have been hard to find at Harvard. The darkness of antisemitism and the dishonesty, hate, and discrimination have cast a pall over Harvard so embarrassing that people do not wish to be associated with Harvard,” Tolchin said. 

Harvard has been accused of facilitating an educational environment that is unwelcoming to Israelis and Jews for years, with the lawsuit citing annual events such as “Israel Apartheid Week” and incidents targeting Jewish students and symbols on campus. 

Antisemitism expert Dara Horn, a Harvard alumnus who was asked to join Gay’s anti-Semitism advisory committee, authored a damning essay published this week in The Atlantic in which she detailed the Jew hatred on campus predating October 7. 

She noted that staff members “who grade Jewish students used university-issued class lists to share information about events organized by pro-Palestine groups;” In one instance, a professor continued teaching after rejecting the findings of an investigation by Harvard after he was found discriminating against several Israeli students. Last spring, a student was asked to leave because her identity as an Israeli was making her classmates “uncomfortable.”

She also pointed to courses themselves “premised on anti-Semitic lies”, pointing to one called “The Settler Colonial Determinants of Health”, and noted that lecturers invited to speak at the campus included some who peddled in blood libels that Israelis harvest Palestinians’ organs or that the IDF uses Palestinian children for weapons testing. 

“The mountain of proof at Harvard revealed a reality in which Jewish students’ access to their own university (classes, teachers, libraries, dining halls, public spaces, shared student experiences) was directly compromised,” Horn writes.  The alumni’s legal action comes alongside another lawsuit filed by six current Harvard students on January 10, claiming that the university has not done enough to combat antisemitism on campus which had become a “bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.” It also comes a day after a professor at the university, Walter Johnson, resigned from two anti-Zionist campus groups after they posted antisemitic cartoons.

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Israel Not Budging After Eurovision Disapproval of Song Commemorating October 7

Eden Alene, winner of the reality show “The Next Star to Eurovision,” during finals in Neve Ilan studio near Jerusalem on Feb. 4, 2020. Photo: Shlomi Cohen/Flash90.

Israeli Culture Minister Miki Zohar sent the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) a letter on Thursday urging them to approve Israel’s submission to the Eurovision song competition, after the EBU called it “too political.”

“As you know, the State of Israel is experiencing one of the most difficult and complex periods since its establishment. We lost our loved ones, and there are women, men and children who are still held captive by a terrorist organization,” Zohar said.

Israeli media reported that the broadcasting union would not approve the song, called “October Rain,” after a number of countries even issued threats to boycott the event if Israel participates. The EBU issued a statement saying “We are currently in the process of carefully examining the lyrics of the song – a process that is confidential between the EBU and the Public Broadcasting Corporation until a final decision is made. To all broadcasters, they have until March 11th to officially submit their songs. If a song does not meet the criteria for any reason, the corporation will be given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, according to the contest rules.”

“The song that Israel sent to the Eurovision Song Contest was chosen by a professional committee made up of well-known names in the local music and entertainment industry,” Zohar added. “It is a moving song, discussing renewal and revival from a very fragile reality of loss and destruction, and describes the current public mood in Israel these days. We see now most clearly because our lives – as one, united society – manage to overcome even the greatest suffering. This is not a political song.”

Despite the news that the song by Israeli singer Eden Golan would not be approved, The CEO of KAN, Israel’s national broadcasting service, and the body that approves the song, Golan Yokhpaz, said “We will not change the words or the song, even at the cost of Israel not participating in Eurovision this year.” Adding “The Israel Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) is in dialogue with the EBU regarding the song that will represent Israel at Eurovision.”

Zohar said later in a television interview “The songwriters, KAN, and the singer will have to make the decisions at the end of the day… I do think that Israel should participate in Eurovision because it is important for us at this time to be represented there, and to express ourselves throughout Europe.”

Speaking to the EBU, he said, “We trust that you will continue in your important task of keeping the competition free from any attempt at political manipulation.”

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UN Representative to the Palestinians Claims Israelis Are ‘Colonialists’ with ‘Fake Identities’

UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Francesca Albanese, October 27, 2022 (Photo: Screenshot)

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to the Occupied Palestinian Territories referred to Israelis as “colonialists” who have “fake identities” while quoting another Twitter/X account on Wednesday, raising questions about the impartiality of the international body.

Francesca Albanese responded to a long post by Alon Mizrahi, a far-left activist, arguing that the reason many Western nations support Israel is that they are colonial projects. 

She highlighted the following quote from Mizrahi: “free Palestine scares them [Westerners] bcs it is the ghost of their own sins, rediscovered as a living, breathing human. The current political structures of colonial projects cannot afford it, so they try to uproot it. Bcs it is a fight between all colonialists and their fake identities.”

” free Palestine scares them bcs it is the ghost of their own sins, rediscovered as a living, breathing human. The current political structures of colonial projects cannot afford it, so they try to uproot it. Bcs it is a fight between all colonialists and their fake identities..”

— Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) February 21, 2024

The original post claimed that “All colonial powers work together to guarantee the supremacy of made-up identities over genuine, native ones. Because if this model breaks anywhere, it will collapse everywhere.”

Mizrahi argued that “A Palestinian state would be a major, major moral blow to white, Western colonialism.”

The tweet was met with immediate condemnation.

David Friedman, who served as the US Ambassador to Israel from 2017 to 2021 under former President Donald Trump wrote that her tweet was “Exhibit A why the UN is a failure and why we no longer belong in that bastion of hypocrisy and corruption.”

An account documenting Hamas’ October 7 atrocities asked, “If Israel is indeed a ‘colonialist project’ Where should all the Israelis go if this project should be dismantled?”

The perception of UN bias against Israel has also been boosted by the fact that, in 2023, Israel was condemned twice as often as all other countries combined.

It is not the first time Albanese has made comments that raise eyebrows. Earlier this month, in response to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron calling the October 7 attack “largest anti-Semitic massacre of the 21st century,” she said “No, Mr. Macron. The victims of October 7 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.”

Following backlash, she wrote that she opposes “all racism, including anti-Semitism, a global threat. But explaining these crimes as anti-Semitism obscures their true cause.”

Hamas’ founding charter, in a section about the “universality” of its cause, reads: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Albanese has also argued that Israel should make peace with Hamas, saying that “It needs to make peace with Hamas in order to not be threatened by Hamas.” 

When asked about what people do not understand about Hamas, she added, “If someone violates your right to self-determination, you are entitled to embrace resistance.”

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