Israellycool » Brian of London Down Under Punditry in the Middle East Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:41:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Alls Well That Ends Well: Ben Gurion Emergency Over Tue, 21 Apr 2015 08:41:06 +0000 Shortly after a take off this morning from Ben Gurion, ground staff noticed pieces of an airplane’s wheel on the runway. The flight in question was an El Al (or actually the spin off low fare variant UP) flight to Prague.

The flight was recalled and flew a few low passes over the airport with the gear down so a visual inspection could be made.

Other traffic gets shunted into a holding patter out to sea:

Then the plane dumped its fuel. This is a highly annoying part of modern aviation emergencies but there really is no alternative. You really don’t want to land one of these planes with a full fuel load even if your undercarriage is perfect, landing heavy is very bad news.

This is the plane on landing:

Here’s the plane attended to by fire trucks (to cool off the remaining wheels).


And there you have it. Everything is fine.

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Yom Ha’atzmaut Israeli Independence Day Air Force Fly Past And Aerobatics Show Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:02:27 +0000 IAF aerobatics practice above Jerusalem 2015Every year on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) the Israeli Air Force puts on a fly past of a few different types of aircraft and in certain locations, an aerobatics display. And every year I struggle to find out the exact time.

So here it is, thanks to Google Judge Dan Translate!

This is the aerobatics display:

Aerobatics team performances:
Ramat David AFB – 9:40
Air Force Museum – 13:35
Tel Aviv – 12:10
Haifa Technical School – 09:50
Tel Nof AFB – 11:55
Jerusalem – 14:00

From personal experience I can tell you that the best place to stand for Tel Aviv is anywhere on the wide “Tayalette” between the Carlton Hotel in the North and Opera Towers in the South. The display is centred roughly between those points.

The following are the times the procession of other aircraft will pass overhead. In Tel Aviv the precise squadrons will be. Updated with Judge Dan’s decoding of the specific plane types in the fly past:

Fly past at Tel Aviv:

Aerobatics team 12:10
CH-53 Sea Stalions (helicopters) – “Yas’ur” (Petrel) – 12:22
King Air B-200 “Tzofit” (Sunbird) – 12:24

C-130 “Karnaf” (Rhino), C-130J “Samson”, Gulfstreem G550 AEW&C “Eitam” (Eagle), Gulfstreem G550 SigInt “Shavit” (Comet) – 12:26
F-15I “Re’em” (Oryx), F-15C/D “Baz” (Falcon), F-16I “Sufa” (Storm), F-16C/D “Barak” (Lightning), A-4 Skyhawk “Ayit” (Eagle) – 12:30
Civil Aviation, The ELAL airliners – 13:00

Fly pasts occur in these places starting at these times:

Afula – 11:38 11:49 11:58
Arad – 10:52 11:13 11:30 12:54
Ashdod – 12:33 12:40 12:41
Ashkelon – 12:35
Beer Ora – 12:32
Beersheba – 10:38 11:02 11:22 13:02
Beit Hanan – 11:20
Beit Shean – 11:34 11:44 11:56
Beit Shemesh – 11:14 11:31 11:44
Beit Sho’eva – 11:01
Binyamina – 11:40
Caesarea – 12:15 12:18 12:24
Dimona – 10:47 11:09 11:27 12:57
Eilat – 12:30
Einot – 11:19
Ga’aton – 12:16
Golani Junction – 11:47 12:04
Grofit – 12:35
Hadera – 11:37 12:06
Haifa – 11:53 11:56 12:11 12:20 12:22
Haifa Technical School – 9:50 12:07 12: 12
Herzliya – 11:26 12:18
Hatzerim AFB – 12:40 12:50 12:51 13:01 13:35
Hazeva – 12:45
Idan – 12:46
Jerusalem – 11:04 11:05 11:06 11:18 11:33 11:46
Karmiel – 11:58 12:05 12:15
Katsrin – 12:10 12:10
Kfar Hasidim – 11:51
Kiryat Gat – 11:03 11:22 11:36
Lotan – 12:35
Massada – 12:52
Mifgash Osnat – 12:37
Mitzpe Ramon – 12:16
Nahariya – 12:03 12:09 12:18
Nachshon Junction – 10:57
Nazareth – 11:45 11:55 12:03
Netanya – 12:13 12:18 12:21 12:26
Netivot – 12:47 12:38 12:48
Nevatim AFB – 12:56 12:57
Ofakim – 12:39 12:49 12:50
Paran – 12:40
Petsa’el – 11:25 11:39 11:50
Ramat David AFB – 9:40 11:41 11:48 11:50 12:00
Ramat Hovav – 12:52 12:53
Rehovot – 11:18 12 : 26
Revivim – 12:11
Rishon LeZion – 11:22 12:24 12:28 12:31
Safed – 11 53 12:02 12:12
Samar – 12:33
Sapir – 12:45
Sde Boker – 12:13
Sderot – 12:37
Sha’ar HaGay – 11:12
Shizafon – 12: 24
Sho’eva – 11:10
Tel Aviv – 11:24 12:10 12:22 12:24 12:26 12:30
Tel Nof AFB – 10:45 11:10 11:23 11:40 11:55 12:33
Tiberias – 11:49 11:59 12:06
Tzofar – 12:42
Yahel – 12:37
Yeruham – 10:44 11:07 11:25 12:59
Yotvata – 12:34
Ze’elim – 12:08
Zichron Yaakov – 11:41
Zohar – 12:44 12:45

Aerobatics team performances:
Ramat David – 9:40
Air Force Museum – 13:35
Tel Aviv – 12:10
technical basis – 09:50
Tel Nof – 11:55
Jerusalem – 14:00

Open bases:
Air Force Museum – 10:00, 11:30, 12:40, 12:50, 13:00, 13:35
Ramat David – 9:40, 11:41, 11:48, 11:51 12:00
Haifa Technical School – 9:50, 11:53, 12:07, 12:13, 12:20, 12:48
Tel Nof – 11:10, 11:23, 11:40, 11:55, 12:33

Beachfront areas:
Bat Galim – 11:56
Netanya – 12:13
Herzliya – 12:18
Ein Carmel – 12:11, 12:22
Hadera power plant – 12:06

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And You Shall Name Him Brian! Sun, 19 Apr 2015 06:45:20 +0000 TMZ, in a journalistic scoop rivalling the uncovering of a break in at an office building, has managed to find the birth certificate for Sacha Baron Cohen’s newborn son. You may know him better as Ali G, Borat or a variety of other characters and you may also remember that Sacha is Jewish (no really, that’s a Jewish name), has a strong affinity with Israel (except for the time he was almost collateral damage in a suicide in a Tel Aviv hotel) and that his wife, Isla Fisher, converted to Judaism before their marriage.

What has TMZ uncovered? Well the full name of his new son (my emphasis):

We’ve obtained a copy of the birth certificate — filed with the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health — and it says Montgomery Moses Brian Baron Cohen was born on March 17.

So not only was he born on both my Aliahversary Day (yeah, really) and St Patrick’s Day but they named him “Monty Brian”.

You know what I’m thinking. Really. You do.

Welcome to the world our new Messiah (or perhaps just another naughty little boy).

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Made In Judea Samaria, The Heartland Of Jewish Israel Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:53:24 +0000 The EU is galloping toward its dream that all products made by Israelis in the heart of Israel be labelled. Lieberman has already suggested the logo for the label be the Nazi Yellow Star, that’s one idea. The following suggestion was sent to me:

Now that the EU provocatively wants to label settlement goods, I’d like to suggest an idea to ridicule them and expose their true motives. Do you know of a website which would be interested in starting a ‘label competition’ to do just that? If other websites are also invited to join in this competition, so much the better. Some suggestions to start with:

1. Produced by Jews in Judea-Samaria. Refrain from buying if you are anti-Semitic.

2. Produced by Jews in Judea-Samaria. Buy from Judea-Samaria only if item is produced by Arabs.

3. Warning to all European anti-Semites: this item is produced by Jews in Judea-Samaria.

4. Shopping advisory notice re goods produced in Judea-Samaria: the EU has alighted upon a WW2 nazi era policy which it considers salutary, and henceforth advises shoppers to buy goods from Judea-Samaria only if they are produced by Arabs. This is not intended as an anti-Semitic measure, since shoppers may purchase goods produced in Israel by both Arabs and Jews.

I also think we should use the #hashtag #JewStuff which has the advantage of starting with the initials J.S. or Judea Samaria. Under no circumstances (of course) should we write the WB words…. Let the EU suck on explaining that one.

Well do we have any other suggestions? Please use the comments and if you’re graphically inclined, how about coming up with a logo too! I’m pretty certain we’d gain more business than we lost.

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Is It Supposed To Whine Like That? Wed, 15 Apr 2015 10:59:31 +0000 Takes quite a bit of courage to do this.

A young Lubavitcher woman most likely saved the lives of a plane full of people when she suspected a malfunction with the aircraft just moments before takeoff. Despite being mocked and ridiculed, her insistence lead to the plane being grounded after a serious malfunction was discovered.

The young woman, a member of the Crown Heights community, was scheduled to return from a trip to Israel, where she spent the holiday of Passover.

Her father, Rabbi Kalman Winefeld, related the story to

“My daughter was scheduled to return to New York on Motzai Shabbos from Israel with a stopover in Moscow on Russian airline TransAero. She boarded her flight at Ben Gurion Airport and was seated at the window.

Moments before takeoff, she realized that something was not right with the wing and heard noises that she believed were not regular noises. She first brought this to the attention of the passengers seated beside her, who in turn laughed it off and said it was just noise from the engines.”

Not deterred, she persisted, unbuckling her seatbelt and standing up. The flight attendants, who themselves were already seated and buckled in, instructed her to return to her seat. When she told them her concerns about the plane they too laughed at her. She insisted that she will not fly on the plane if they didn’t check it out.”

After shouting and threatening her, airline officials finally relented and went to investigate her concern.

Read the rest.

Only after three further hours did the airline finally admit the plane wouldn’t be fit to fly and switch the passengers to another one.


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Stanford’s Moral Vacuum On Israel Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:22:27 +0000 For quite some time the Jew haters from Students for Justice in Palestine have tried every means at their disposal to get Stanford University in the US to divest from Israeli companies or companies that do business in Israel “that they claim profit from human rights abuses and violations of international law in Israel/Palestine.”

At the same time Stanford is in the news for yet another case of a highly inappropriate questioning of prospective student council candidate. Once again a student was asked how her Judaism would affect her views on boycotting Israel.

Now Stanford’s Board of Trustees has issued a statement on this and while rejecting the BDS attempt, it’s hard to find a moral backbone:

The Board concluded that the university’s mission and its responsibility to support and encourage diverse opinions would be compromised by endorsing an institutional position on either side of an issue as complex as the Israel-Palestine conflict. Therefore the Board will not be taking action on this request, nor will it consider this request further.

Their statement ends with this (my emphasis):

The request from the Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine asserted that Stanford should divest its holdings in certain companies that they claim profit from human rights abuses and violations of international law in Israel/Palestine. Neither the APIRL nor the Board sought to determine the veracity of those claims, or to disprove them.

Rather than explore such issues, the Board focused on the questions of divisiveness and negative impact on its mission as contained in the Statement on Investment Responsibility. The Statement provides that if the Trustees conclude that a specific Trustee action “is likely to impair the capacity of the University to carry out its educational mission (for example, by causing significant adverse action on the part of governmental or other external agencies or groups, or by causing deep divisions within the University community), then the Trustees need not take such action.” The Board concluded that any action on this issue would clearly have such an impact.

Here’s my reading: if they were to declare that an over-active and entirely unmatched hatred of Jewish Israel by Students for Justice in Palestine was outright Jew hatred, they’d have a huge fight on their hands. If they just sneak away and hide, perhaps their army of Alumni who feed the treasure chests with their donations will continue to let the money flow.

And so, by not even choosing to make an adjudication, the Stanford Board of Trustees has failed what George Gilder called “The Israel Test”. By not even choosing to investigate the claims of these people and to reject them on merit, they’ve stuck their heads in the sand and shown a complete lack of moral backbone.

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Watch: Herodium National Park From The Air Sun, 12 Apr 2015 09:59:19 +0000

I’m going. I don’t care that the drive is a little hairy being to the south and east of Jerusalem and Bethlehem but this video nails it. I have to go see this place. Amazing drone video and description by Amir Aloni on Vimeo.

Herodium, located south of Jerusalem and east of Bethlehem, on the edge of the Judean Desert, is one of the most fascinating antiquities sites in the country, it was built by King Herod the Great between 23 and 15 BCE, as a combined palace and powerful fortress. The complex was surrounded by a double wall 63 meters in diameter and seven stories high, within which Herod built a palace that included halls, courtyards and opulent bathhouses.

Earth was heaped up around the walls, which created a cone-shaped artificial mountain. At its foot, Herod built a kind of royal ‘country club,’ including a large pool, a bathhouse and a roofed pool.

Despite its desert location, the complex was surrounded by magnificent gardens irrigated by the pool. A special aqueduct from the area of Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem brought water to the palace.

The importance of Herodium to the king is clear from the fact that it is the only place he constructed to which he gave his name. The discovery of Herod’s magnificent tomb there after long years of searching strengthens the understanding that the Judean “builder-king” had a special attachment to this site. Its special charm is also revealed in the breathtaking view from the top, which takes in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the unspoiled Judean Desert.

During the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans the rebels had a base at Herodium, constructing a synagogue there that can still be seen. During the Bar Kokhba Revolt, Jewish fighters hewed tunnels within the artificial mountain, part of which are lit and accessible to visitors.

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Robbie Williams Is Genuinely Really Excited To Come To Israel Sun, 12 Apr 2015 07:36:46 +0000 Robbie Williams is coming to Israel and he spoke to Israel’s Channel 2 news and he’s “genuinely really excited” to be coming here. He very neatly sidesteps the question about BDS attempts to stop him playing here with a great line about the northern beach town of Blackpool.

Additionally if you’re in Israel the Tourism Ministry is running a Facebook competition to win a complete trip to Israel and tickets to see Robbie! I saw him a long time ago in a huge gig at the Milton Keynes Bowl in the UK, it was a great show.

Robbie Williams competition picture

Robbie-Williams coming to Israel

Aussie Dave adds: This happened in 2011:

Thanks to AJ Martin.

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Confirmed: “Critical Technological Assessment In Israel” Nuclear Report Release Not Blocked By Israel Sun, 29 Mar 2015 07:53:21 +0000 Last Thursday (March 26th) Mirabelle did some excellent digging to uncover the truth behind the February release of a seemingly secret report on Israel’s entire defence industry and especially its nuclear capabilities. While some of the media used shouting headlines about Obama’s administration deliberately releasing this report to spite Netanyahu, Mirabelle went and read the actual court documents leading to the release of a 1987 Department of Defense report called “Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”.

She concluded given the “declassified” status of the report, its release was largely inevitable and Israel was given an opportunity, by the DoD and the court to review the material prior to its release.

Yesterday (28th March) the Jerusalem Post reported what we found and added some statements confirming Mirabelle’s conclusions, amplifying this with the headline “Israel allowed for the release of a document detailing past nuclear weapons work”:

“We did inform the Israeli government of our planned release of the documents and they did not object,” US Army Col. Steven Warren, director of Pentagon press operations, confirmed to The Jerusalem Post.

Upon receiving a Freedom of Information Act request concerning information sensitive to foreign governments, the US informs the relevant partner, giving it the opportunity to formally object.

“The US government was by law required to release the report upon such a FOIA request unless we had a written request from the relevant foreign government – Israel – that the information continue to be withheld,” one senior administration official told the Post on Friday. “Israel did not object to the release of this information.”

Israeli officials declined to comment for this report, neither confirming nor denying concerns over the document, the contents of its assessment or the politics surrounding its release.

There were a number of inconsistencies in some of the reporting on this matter elsewhere.

Many news sites said the report was “declassified”. This is wrong. The report (as released) is marked “UNCLASSIFIED”. I reached out to an expert who has handled every level of classification of US military documents:

There’s no evidence it was ever classified.  Assuming the scan is a simple scan of the 1987 document, it contains none of the markings that would indicate it was ever classified.

If it had been classified, there would be header markings on the pages, and each heading, paragraph, AND subparagraph would be numbered/lettered, and would have a classification marking.  Classified documents are not (and were not) written with unnumbered/lettered paragraphs, indented in the civilian style-manual way.  Defense contractors write classified reports in the DOD format for classified writing.

[The full statement on this is in Appendix 1 at the end of the post]
Document cover of released report showing UNCLASSIFIED status throughout.

Document cover of released report showing UNCLASSIFIED status throughout.

The report was released on February 12th. It’s clear that many in the media chose not to highlight the report. The report was released only following a protracted battle by someone known to be hostile to Israel, Grant Smith and his Washington think tank: “Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy” (IRmep). His website is proudly linking to the breathless media coverage of the documents he forced to be released.

Jerusalem Post article: Supercomputers slow in coming - Scan from Court Documents

Jerusalem Post article: Supercomputers slow in coming – Scan from Court Documents

As Mirabelle correctly pointed out, his quest for this document, in line with his eventual aim of finding a legal method to cut off all financial aid to Israel, began with a couple of reports in public media and especially a 1990 article in the Jerusalem Post “Supercomputers slow in coming” from May 25, 1990 filed by Larry Cohler. This article is Exhibit 2 in Smith’s application to court to get the document.

At the time of its release, the only two big news sites to report this were RT and Iran’s Press TV.

It’s also clear that the report was written after interviews with defence contractors in Israel (and all over NATO). There’s absolutely no evidence that anything in the report constitutes spying on a friendly nation.

Many commenters tried to make an issue of the fact that the report’s contents are heavily redacted and only parts relating to Israel are released. This is simply because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and the subsequent court proceedings only ever asked for the Israel parts of the document. If someone were to ask for the rest, it’s pretty clear that (unless blocked by the other nations) that information would have to be released too.

In the atmosphere of leak and counter leak surrounding the run up to the controversial talk by Prime Minister Netanyahu before both houses on March 3rd, many commenters and reports tried to paint this as a deliberate release of sensitive information by a petulant Obama. It’s hard to see how this is the case when the FOIA request took 3 years and the final litigation, including consulting Israel, began in September 2014. The report was released in mid February following a fairly inevitable court timetable.

Neither Mirabelle nor I have much love for the Obama administration: if there is any wiggle room someone could look into who drew attention to this report but even there, it’s pretty clear that Grant Smith would have been trying to make some noise about this with RT and Press TV on his own. He doesn’t need “anonymous administration officials” to get the attention of those two sites.

As Mirabelle originally asked, why, when it was written during the Reagan Administration, was this document not classified at all? And why did first The Nation and then the Jewish Daily Forward bring attention to this on the 20th and 25th of March respectively? Until then it had languished on RT and Press TV and various other decidedly anti-Israel sites.

We thank the Jerusalem Post for getting some quotes to confirm what we thought, it’s a pity some of the other reports on this were so wild.




Appendix 1 : Full statement analysing classification of the document

There’s no evidence it was ever classified. Assuming the scan is a simple scan of the 1987 document, it contains none of the markings that would indicate it was ever classified.

If it had been classified, there would be header markings on the pages, and each heading, paragraph, AND subparagraph would be numbered/lettered, and would have a classification marking. Classified documents are not (and were not) written with unnumbered/lettered paragraphs, indented in the civilian style-manual way. Defense contractors write classified reports in the DOD format for classified writing.

I note that a modern electronic annotation has been placed on the document, apparently in the process of producing the PDF. It’s this one:

“Further dissemination only as directed by OUSDA/IP&T The Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-3070; 15 July 1987, or higher

The annotation is on all the pages up through I-6, which is the last of the introductory pages that contain information about something other than Israel. The Israel section – the balance of the document – doesn’t have this annotation. This means nothing on those remaining pages now requires any coordination with the dissemination authority to distribute further.

The front page indicates the document was scanned in 2007, which is probably when the electronic annotation was added. I’m pretty sure the OUSDA/IP&T office had been reorganized under another name at that point, so the electronic annotation probably just reiterated the original distribution caveat placed on the document, which dates to 1987 and cites OUSDA/IP&T as the dissemination authority.

The fact that it wasn’t classified to begin with means that no “declassification” process had to be done. Declassification is an order of magnitude more complex than selectively releasing an unclassified document. That’s basically what I meant by saying that none of the rest – i.e., the FOIA/lawsuit process – matters. A FOIA request for an unclassified document doesn’t have to prompt a major review of what we consider classified. A request for a classified document CAN prompt such a review, if DOD decides to respond to it with something other than a simple no.

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Sincerest Form Of Flattery Moment: UK Government Copies The IDF’s Talpiot Scheme Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:28:32 +0000 talpiot symbolPress release from the UK Government:

Francis Maude, Minister for Cabinet Office, announced the new Cyber First scheme to enhance the UK’s cyber security skills base.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office with responsibility for Cyber Security, today (24 March 2015) announced a new Cyber First scheme to enhance the UK’s cyber security skills base and meet the increasing demand of this rapidly growing sector.

Speaking in Parliament, the minister launched a pilot student sponsorship programme called Cyber First. This is aimed at identifying the individuals who have the aptitude to become the next generation of UK cyber security experts. Cyber First will draw on talent from the broadest range of backgrounds to meet the UK’s future national security needs in government or companies involved in national security. It will find those already showing potential for a top career in cyber security through school competitions such as the Cyber Security Challenge Schools Programme and national maths competitions.

Cyber First will offer both financial assistance for those studying relevant science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses at undergraduate level and include work experience with government or UK private sector firms within the field of national security. There is a guarantee of employment upon graduation. GCHQ will run this as a pilot scheme which will provide funding of £4,000 for each of up to 20 student places. It is intended that a full scheme across participating departments, agencies and industry will be implemented in 2016, building on the pilot and lessons learned.

The scheme is based on the Israeli Talpiot scheme which identifies exceptional cyber promise to create a cyber elite force who go on to great careers in government and the private sector. Israel has more high-tech start-ups and a larger venture capital industry per capita than any other country.

The Talipot scheme mentioned in that last paragraph is an ultra elite part of the Israeli Defence Forces. This isn’t elite in the SAS or Navy Seal meaning, this is academically and intellectually ultra elite. But it is still, very much, part of the compulsory military service that most Israelis go through. Somewhere around 50 youngsters are chosen each year for this unit and quite a few will drop out. It’s an intense combination of academic university education and military leadership training combined.

From Wikipedia:

Talpiot program is an elite Israel Defense Forces training program, for recruits who have demonstrated outstanding academic ability in the sciences and leadership potential. Graduates of the Talpiot program pursue double higher education while serving in the army, and then utilize their expertise to further IDF research and development in technological leadership positions.[1][2] The program was inaugurated in 1979.[3]

It’s nice to see the UK Government strongly endorsing this part of the IDF by adopting its methods and aims even if they choose not to mention that it is part of the IDF in this press release.

H/t Matthew Kalman on Facebook.

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