William Davis | Contributor

Former Democratic Texas Rep. and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke touched on the Israel-Palestine dispute Wednesday as he continues to unveil his policy platform.

O’Rourke called Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas “ineffectual” but reserved much harsher criticism for Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (RELATED: Linda Sarsour Defends Rep. Omar’s Israel Comments)

“Right now we don’t have the best negotiating partners on either side,” O’Rourke said. “We have a prime minister in Israel who has openly sided with racists, who — in the previous election — warned that the Arabs were coming to the polls.”

It is not clear who O’Rourke is referring to when he says “racists,” but Netanyahu has received criticism for his warm relationship with right-wing European leaders such as Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

“And on the Palestinian side, we have an ineffectual leader,” O’Rourke continued. “Mahmoud Abbas, who has not been very effective in bringing his side to the table either.”

O’Rourke’s comments come as the Democratic Party shifts left and puts what has historically been bipartisan support for Israel in doubt. (RELATED: Ted Cruz Slams The UN For Defending Hamas Over Israel: It’s ‘Absurd And Dishonest’)

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has come under fire in recent weeks for repeatedly using anti-Semitic tropes to slam Israel. Both Omar and Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib support the movement to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) Israel, but have denied accusations of Anti-Semitism.

The conservative Netanyahu is facing a tough re-election race on April 9., after having been indicted on charges of bribery and fraud. Netanyahu has denied all allegations.

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Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

Japan’s government will publicly back restrictions on developing robots that can kill without human intervention at an upcoming U.N. conference, departing from the country’s usual policy.

The Japanese government already opposed the creation of lethal autonomous weapons systems, or LAWS, which are robots empowered with artificial intelligence that equips them to kill human beings without the direction of another human. Japan initially cautioned against regulating the development of LAWS on the basis that such regulations could hinder the creation of advanced but more benign artificial intelligence. (RELATED: Robots Are Flooding US Industries)

“We do not intend to develop any lethal weapon that is completely autonomous and functions without human control,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, according to The Asahi Shimbun.

Japanese officials will announce a policy shift, however, at the U.N.’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva from March 25 to 29, calling for restrictions on LAWS and a possible global ban on them in the future, according to Japan Today. Japanese officials hope to take a lead role in conversations about international regulation of LAWS, given what they see as a current stall in conversations about the development of artificial intelligence.

Japanese officials are expected to submit not only a summary of their views on the matter of A.I. development, but also a call to establish an international panel of A.I. technical experts.

Austria, Brazil and Chile, led a coalition of 26 countries in 2018 in calling for a treaty prohibiting the development of LAWS at the CCW, but the U.S., Israel, Australia, South Korea, Russia and several other countries blocked the proposed treaty, arguing that such a prohibition would be premature and that there are potential advantages to developing what critics have called “killer robots.”

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Molly Prince | Politics Reporter

Sen. Ted Cruz criticized a United Nations report that concluded Israel committed war crimes against Palestinians during a 2018 protest despite Hamas’s use of human shields.

“This U.N. report is on its face absurd and dishonest and we know because they have been doing it for a long time,” the Texas Republican said on a telephone call Monday hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. “Hamas and Hezbollah use human shields as a deliberate tactic. They use innocent Palestinian civilians, to put them in harm’s way, because they intend to exploit those human shields for when they are injured or killed when Israel defends itself.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council determined in the report, released Monday, that Israel used “excessive force” during the nine-month period in question. Over that time, Israeli security forces shot and wounded 6,016 protesters in Gaza and “there was no justification” for Israel’s use of force. The report did acknowledge Hamas encouraged Palestinian protesters to cause use incendiary kites, which caused “fear among civilians and significant damage to property in southern Israel.”

“The United Nations long has been a reservoir of deep anti-Israel animus,” Cruz continued. “This report today is yet another example of that.” (RELATED: Ted Cruz Explains Why Interventionist And Isolationists Are Both Wrong)

The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in May 2018 after President Donald Trump relocated the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that inspired thousands of Palestinians to riot and ultimately storm the Gaza-Israel border.

Hamas preemptively offered compensation to the families of Palestinians who were injured or killed during the demonstration — a spokesperson for the terrorist organization revealed the payment rates would be as high as $3,000, reported The Jerusalem Post. Humans were also reportedly used as shields, a concept that Cruz acknowledged.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“It is a repeated and deliberate strategy of Hamas to use human shields,” the Texas senator said. “The U.N. report ignores that reality.”

United States officials have maintained that Israeli Defense Forces acted appropriately.

“America stands with Israel for many reasons, but none more important than standing with Israel furthers our own national security interests,” Cruz added.

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The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may be getting criticized by some factions of the Democratic Party, but that did not stop New York Mayor Bill de Blasio from unexpectedly participating in an event Thursday hosted by the pro-Israel lobbying group.

The event, however, was not listed on the mayor’s daily schedule.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Politico first found photos on Twitter of the mayor with a group of women in front of an AIPAC banner. AIPAC then tweeted out praise and thanks to him for speaking before the group. (RELATED: De Blasio Declines To Endorse Capitalism And His Comms Director Loves It)

“Honored for @NYCMayor @BilldeBlasio to have spoken today @AIPAC meeting discussing anti-Semitism & the importance of a strong US-Israel relationship. Thank you for your #Progressive leadership on pro-Israel issues. Looking forward to seeing you in DC #AIPAC2019,” tweeted Jason Koppel, AIPAC’s northeast region’s political director.

New York City is home to around 1.1 million Jewish residents—this number exceeds any other area in the world, including in Israel. De Blasio was previously critical of allegedly anti-Semitic comments that Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar made, and has come out against the anti-Israel Boycott Divest and Sanction movement.  (RELATED: De Blasio Announces ‘Meatless Mondays’ To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions)

Nevertheless, the New York congressional delegation’s biggest star has also become one of AIPAC’s biggest opponents. New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent out a fundraising email last week claiming AIPAC was “coming after” her and some of her fellow freshmen members.

Mayor de Blasio was asked Friday by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer why his public schedule omitted the event.

“Well, first of all, this happened to be a house party that someone I know invited me to and it wasn’t clear I could make it until the very end. So that’s why it was – you know, a small event, not a big public event,”  he said.

De Blasio continued, “Any big public event, we obviously post. And look, I would say this, I believe as a progressive and as a Democrat, we have to address fundamentally, the challenge of anti-Semitism that’s very clear and alive in this city and in this nation and this world. We have to address Islamophobia equally.”

The only event on the mayor’s public schedule that was posted on Thursday was a 10:30 a.m. press-conference at the  Metropolitan College of New York about his administration’s plan to protect lower Manhattan from climate change.

Politico noted that de Blasio previously omitted from his schedule a pro-Israel speech he gave at an AIPAC conference in 2014.

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Audrey Conklin | Reporter

Israel and Hamas have allegedly agreed to a ceasefire after two rockets from the Gaza Strip hit Tel Aviv Thursday night for the first time since the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

Sources from Gaza told the Kan, an Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, that an agreement to cease fire was negotiated Friday “with the help of Egyptian mediators,” The Times of Israel reports. Israel, however, has yet to officially confirm the ceasefire.

Israeli media received information from defense officials saying a preliminary investigation determined that the Hamas rockets were misfires. Hamas denied responsibility for the attacks, saying the two rockets were launched during maintenance work, but it is one of the only groups in Gaza capable of striking Tel Aviv with rocket fire.

Tel Aviv’s Iron Dome missile defense system was activated during the attack and intercepted at least one rocket. No casualties were reported. The Israeli army’s chief spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said there was no prior warning to the attacks.

Israel responded with warplanes, which hit 100 Hamas “terror sites,” a statement from the Israel Defense Force said. Four people were injured in the response attacks in Gaza.

The terror sites included “an office complex in Gaza City used to plan and command Hamas militant activities, an underground complex that served as Hamas’ main rocket-manufacturing site and a center used for Hamas drone development,” according to an Associated Press report.

Israel’s response reportedly went into Friday morning as Hamas continued firing several rounds of rocket fire.

An anonymous Hamas official allegedly told reporters that prior to the attacks, Egyptian officials in Gaza were holding meetings to lead “mediation efforts” between Hamas and Israel. They left Thursday evening.

There were also protests Thursday organized in Gaza before the attacks by demonstrators upset with the current state of living conditions in the territory.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza since Hamas took over 12 years ago. The territory is currently experiencing an economic crisis at least partially due to severe sanctions and Hamas’ mismanagement of the area.

Israel’s Knesset election, or national legislative election, happens in just weeks on April 9.

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Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib is supporting a college movement to suspend the school’s study abroad program in Israel.

Students and professors at Pitzer College in California are pushing the school’s administration to halt the program in Haifa, Israel until the Middle Eastern country meets demands set by the organizers.

Daniel Segal, a professor at Pitzer College, tweeted a photo of Tlaib posing with a #SuspendPitzerHaifa pamphlet earlier this week. He brought the initial motion to end the program back in November, according to student-run newspaper The Student Life.

The motion reads, “The Pitzer Faculty calls for the suspension of the College’s exchange with Haifa University, until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.”

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 14: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) talks to other guests before the start of a funeral service for former Rep. John Dingell on February 14, 2019 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais – Pool/Getty Images)

A vote scheduled for Thursday by both students and faculty will determine whether or not the resolution will go to the Board of Trustees and Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver. If the vote passes, it will be up to them to make a final decision on the Haifa abroad program.

Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman elected to Congress, has made headlines with comments she’s made about the Israel-Palestine conflict. She was one of the first members of Congress to publicly state her support for the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movement.

Some view the BDS movement as anti-Semitic because it seeks to penalize Israel for their treatment of Palestinians, though it does not seek to do so for any nation other than the Jewish state.

Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver pointed out the double standard that some perceive in the movement, saying, “Why would we not suspend our program with China? Or take our longest standing program in Nepal where the Pitzer in Nepal program has been run for over 40 years, During that time, they have had a bloody civil war that killed 19,000 people. Why Israel?” according to The Student Life.

Neither Segal or Oliver responded to request for comment.

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Maimed and disabled animals are finding sanctuary at a farm in Israel created as an education center for visitors to learn about the treatment of animals.

Animal rights activists Adit Romano and Meital Ben Ari founded “Freedom Farm,” an organization that provides a refuge for disabled animals that are otherwise slaughtered, Reuters reported Tuesday. Most of the animals on the farm were either donated by farmers or rescued by the group.

“The farm will be mainly used as an active visitor center, an educational center, and as a place that with the help of all senses widens the heart towards industrial animals in the purest manner,” according to its website.

The farm houses roughly 240 animals, including a sheep with leg braces, a three-legged donkey and a blind goat. More than 50 chickens from a breeding coop arrived at the farm in December 2018.

The farm spans five acres in Moshav Olesh, an agricultural community located in central Israel. It is Israel’s only farm that serves as both an animal rescue and educational sanctuary, according to Reuters.


A volunteer plays guitar as another pats a goat at “Freedom Farm” which serves as a refuge for mostly disabled animals in Moshav Olesh, Israel March 7, 2019. Picture taken March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Nir Elias

Meital Ben Ari, a co-founder of “Freedom Farm” pats Gary, a sheep with leg braces, at the farm which serves as a refuge for mostly disabled animals in Moshav Olesh, Israel March 7, 2019. Picture taken March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Nir Elias

“If you want people to open their hearts toward these animals, we have to bring them close,” Romano said, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Consumer Protection Group Asks Virginia City To Rename Street ‘PETA Kills Ave’)

Children with special needs especially enjoy Freedom Farm, according to Ben Ari.

A five-month-old cow with an amputated leg is the most recent addition to the farm. The cow now has a prosthetic leg allowing it to walk on all fours.

A volunteer walks with Nir, a cow with prosthetic leg at “Freedom Farm” which serves as a refuge for mostly disabled animals in Moshav Olesh, Israel March 7, 2019. Picture taken March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Nir Elias

Running the farm costs approximately $1 million a year, according to Reuters. Contributions and volunteers allow the farm to operate.

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Sunday that it launched airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza in response to a projectile fired into Israeli territory.

On Twitter, the IDF said a rocket was fired on Saturday night, prompting air raid sirens. “We responded by striking several military targets in a Hamas compound in Gaza and two Hamas vessels,” the IDF said.

The airstrikes were also in response to “continued violence emanating from the Gaza Strip, which has included the launching of balloons carrying explosive devices and attempts to damage security infrastructure over the last number of days.”

On Friday, a 23-year-old Palestinian was shot dead during clashes at the Israel-Gaza border. Forty-three other protesters were also wounded during the clashes.

David Knight breaks down how in a recent radio broadcast, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke praised Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her recent statements against Israel.

Rising Tensions Ahead of Elections

Tensions are rising between Israel and the Hamas militant group, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since wrestling control from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Since then, the militant organization has fought three wars against Israel.

The escalation comes as Israel gears up for elections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of incitement throughout his campaign, with challengers saying he is invoking “Arab hatred” to appeal to his nationalist base.

However, support for Netanyahu has dwindled after Israeli’s attorney general announced last month that he intends to indict the prime minister on corruption charges. In the 2015 election, Netanyahu won the election by galvanizing last-minute voters, alleging on election day that “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves” and that “left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses.”

Political Gamble

But Netanyahu could lose votes if the escalation translates into Israeli casualties. According to some analysts, constituencies that see soldiers from their area killed during a conflict often vote against the ruling party. However, Netanyahu remained defiant on Sunday.

“I have heard people from Gaza saying that since we are in an election campaign, a large-scale operation is out of the question,” said Netanyahu on Sunday. “I suggest to Hamas — don’t count it. We will do whatever it takes to restore security and quiet to the Gaza border communities and to the south in general.”

In February, Israeli media reported that the government used mediators to warn Hamas against any escalation, saying: “Israel can make tough decisions during elections and is not afraid of a military campaign.”

Greg Reese exposes the hypocrisy of the MSM as 8 journalists are fired for reporting on George Soros accurately. Alex Breaks down this bombshell report.

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Matt M. Miller | Contributor

Israel will launch its spacecraft dubbed “Beresheet,” or “beginning” in Hebrew, in the nation’s first mission to land on the Moon’s surface. The unmanned craft is set to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Thursday, attached to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The craft was developed by Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL as well as the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. Beresheet it is scheduled to launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station 8:45 p.m. EST and expected to land on the lunar surface on April 11.

After the launch, the craft will disengage from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at around 38,300 miles above Earth’s surface, and will then continue on its journey to the Moon. (RELATED: President Trump Continues To Make Space A Priority)

Israeli Aerospace Industries director of Space division Opher Doron speaks in front a a spacecraft weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) during a presentation by Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Aerospace Industries director of Space division Opher Doron speaks in front a spacecraft weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) during a presentation by Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL … (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

SpaceIL co-founder Yonatan Weintraub told Fox News in a statement, “After more than eight years of working with brilliant engineers, we are finally ready to launch our spacecraft to the Moon!”

The initial project was conceived in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to successfully land an unmanned probe on the Moon, which was eventually discontinued before a winner was declared since no competitors were able to complete their projects by the March 31, 2018, deadline. Despite the closing of the competition, SpaceIL continued with the project.

It will take two months for Beresheet to reach the Mare Serenitatis on the Moon’s northern hemisphere, where it will measure lunar magnetic anomalies and give the data to NASA once collected. It will also bring a time capsule to the Moon, including the Israeli flag, the country’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” dictionaries in 27 languages, the Bible, and a children’s book about the mission.

The time capsule will also include a disk containing the “Lunar Library,” which is a “30-million page archive of civilization” according to the nonprofit Arch Mission Foundation that compiled its contents. (RELATED: OPINION: Another Space Company Is In The Moon Race)

If Beresheet successfully reaches the Moon, Israel will be the 4th country to land a craft on the lunar surface. Buzz Aldrin wished the Israeli mission “good luck” in a tweet Tuesday:

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