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Al-Aqsa school distributes textbooks outside campus after police ban

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Students of the Al-Aqsa Sharia School for Girls gathered outside of their campus on Wednesday to collect their textbooks, after Israeli police prevented the books from being delivered directly to the school, located inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. 

Head of the school, Ahad Sabri, told Ma’an the school administration was forced to distribute the books outside of the compound, near the Lions’ Gate entrance, as police continued to refuse to allow the books to be taken inside on the first day of the school year.
 Two other schools inside the compound, another high school and a kindergarten, were also affected by the police ban on Tuesday. Sabri said the books were banned because they were marked with Palestinian Authority logos.
Sabri told Ma’an that it was not the first time Israeli authorities have restricted educational materials from entering Al-Aqsa. She said that just last week, Israeli forces prevented a private car from delivering a scanner to a girls’ school, forcing children to roll it through on a wheelchair.
She noted that Israeli police also prevented standard A4 paper from being delivered to the school for a two-week period last year.

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Jews argue whether Zionism is racism — in the Forward!

This is good news. Remember that monolith of Jewish opinion? The days when the leading Jewish organizations dictated the pro-Israel line and all other Jewish groups fell into line lest they undermine the security of the Jewish state, with Wolf Blitzer and Jeffrey Goldberg running shotgun? Well that orthodoxy is at last coming to an end.

Charlottesville has been a depth charge. The Israeli right was loath to condemn the white nationalists at the fringe of Trump’s base, and this has sent a shock through the American Jewish community. There is open argument about Israel; and it’s not going to end.

The best news is that the Forward, America’s leading liberal Jewish publication, published a piece by Naomi Dann of Jewish Voice for Peace last week equating Zionism with racism. That’s revolutionary. Time was when that argument was made by Arabs at the United Nations and then stifled as supposed anti-Semitism. Now it’s in the Forward, from the mouth of a Jew!

Dann says that white nationalist Richard Spencer was right when he expressed common cause with Israel, saying it’s an ethnocracy that discriminates in favor of a privileged group.

Richard Spencer, whose racist views are rightfully abhorred by the majority of the Jewish community, is holding a mirror up to Zionism and the reflection isn’t pretty.

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Netanyahu to Tell Putin: Russia, U.S. Must Cooperate to Curb Iranian Presence in Syria

Netanyahu will attempt to influence Syrian cease-fire agreement and urge Putin to coordinate with Washington despite tensions, senior official says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday in the resort town of Sochi on the Black Sea. Netanyahu will present to Putin Israel’s concerns that the cease-fire agreement now being formulated in southern Syria will perpetuate Iran and Hezbollah's presence in Syria at the conclusion of its civil war. 

A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu would stress that despite tensions between Moscow and Washington, Russia and the United States need to cooperate to reach an arrangement in Syria that would not strengthen Iran.

The meeting on Wednesday will be the sixth between the two leaders since September 2015. Netanyahu will come to the meeting together with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, the new national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat and Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin. In the afternoon, Netanyahu and Putin will meet in a smaller forum after which there will be another meeting in a larger forum. Netanyahu will fly back to Israel in the late afternoon.

A senior Israeli official involved in preparations for the meeting said that the main topic Netanyahu wanted to discuss with Putin was the cease-fire in southern Syria toward which the United States and Russia are now working. The official said that although the cease-fire was declared a few weeks ago, its conditions have not been finalized.

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives.

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