Israeli news, Yom Kippur

Staff & Wire Reports

Israeli police investigates at the scene of an stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Israeli military says a Palestinian attacker has stabbed and critically wounded an Israeli man in front of a mall. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli police investigates at the scene of an stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Israeli military says a Palestinian attacker has stabbed and critically wounded an Israeli man in front of a mall. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli police investigates at the scene of an stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Israeli military says a Palestinian attacker has stabbed and critically wounded an Israeli man in front of a mall. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Palestinian stabs American-Israeli man to death in West Bank

Monday, September 17

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian assailant on Sunday fatally stabbed an Israeli settler outside a busy mall in the West Bank.

The victim was identified as Ari Fuld, a U.S.-born activist who was well-known in the local settler community and an outspoken Israel advocate on social media platforms.

The military said the attacker arrived at the mall near a major junction in the southern West Bank, close to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, and stabbed the Fuld before fleeing.

Video footage showed Fuld giving chase and firing at his assailant before collapsing. Other civilians shot the attacker, whom Israeli media identified as a 17-year-old from a nearby Palestinian village. He was reportedly in moderate condition.

Fuld, a 45-year-old father of four who lived in the nearby settlement of Efrat, was evacuated to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Fuld was a well-known English-language internet commenter on current affairs and the weekly Torah lesson. He was known for his hard-line nationalist ideology and strong support for the Israeli military.

Settler spokesman Josh Hasten, who said he had known Fuld for about a decade, said his friend traveled widely to showcase “the beauty and reality of life” in the country.

He delivered care packages to Israeli soldiers and would go on solidarity trips to communities near the Gaza Strip during times of fighting with the Hamas militant group, Hasten said.

“When the rockets were falling, that’s when he would get in his car and go down to Sderot,” Hasten said.

Fuld also was known for an outspoken manner that included verbal clashes with Palestinians and critics of Israel that could land him in trouble. At times, his Facebook account was suspended.

“He did not hold back on his opinions,” Hasten said. “If that meant 30 days of Facebook jail, so be it.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Fuld on Facebook for fighting his attacker “heroically” and remembered him as “an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth.”

On Twitter, David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel and a strong supporter of the settlements, called him “a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot.”

Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. Israeli forces killed over 260 Palestinians in that period, of which Israel says most were attackers.

On Dealing with China

By Mel Gurtov

A Self-Confident China

Ever since China’s economic reforms began in 1978, the goal of US foreign policy has been to “manage” China’s rise so that it might become a worthy member of the community of nations dominated by the US and its allies. Republic and Democratic administrations alike have sent Beijing essentially the same message: The US supports a “peaceful, stable, and prosperous” China that will play by the rules internationally while reforming internally so as to become less autocratic if not democratic.

For a time, especially in the early decades of reform under Deng Xiaoping, China did seem to conform to Western expectations. It made no attempt to challenge US predominance in the Pacific (or anywhere else), its military modernization was of modest proportions, and its singular focus was on rapid economic development. Granted, the crackdown at Tiananmen in 1989 showed that political liberalization was not in the cards for China for some time. But overall, China’s behavior gave US and other leaders cause for optimism, particularly as the economic reforms opened China up to international trade and then investment, and as China began joining various regional and international organizations.

What foreign leaders failed to perceive was that China’s rise was not going to embrace liberalizing political changes—that actually China would instead seek to become a major economic player while sustaining the party-state system and preventing the equivalent of an Arab Spring. China’s growing wealth, founded on a distinctive “market socialism,” would also present a new model of development for Third World countries to follow, alternative to the Washington Consensus and its insistence on “structural adjustment.” The notion that prevailed in the US, for example in 2005, that China could be a “responsible stakeholder” in international affairs, meaning it would support US policy priorities, simply did not wash in Beijing. The stronger China became, the stronger the drive for influence, power, and an equal seat at the table: a “new type of great-power relationship,” as Xi Jinping would later tell Barack Obama.

Trump and China

That is China’s world that Donald Trump stumbled into. He was far from ready to “manage” China’s emergence. Far from it, he had no idea about China, his only experience having been as landlord of a Chinese bank with an office in Trump Tower. Inexperience and an emerging “America First” mentality led Trump to cast China as a villain as far back as 2011, when he told CNN that China was an “enemy” and needed to be punished for its unfair trade practices. He also held China responsible for a climate change “hoax,” lost US jobs, and currency manipulation. Shift to the present and we can see that Trump’s approach to China hasn’t changed: China remains the villain, preventing North Korea’s denuclearization, stealing US intellectual property, building up its military, and still refusing to level the playing field on trade. His national security and intelligence community may be focused on Russia, but Trump is riveted on China, notwithstanding his supposed friendship with Xi Jinping.

Thus we have the National Security Council, in its 2017 strategy paper, casting both China and Russia as the leading threats to the US. What that assessment is doing is giving Beijing and Moscow incentives to tighten their relationship. Militarily, Russian sales of sophisticated arms are increasing, as are large-scale joint exercises. Economically, their trade has greatly expanded. Clearly, they are sending Trump a message even though Sino-Russian cooperation is well short of an alliance.

Meanwhile, the US-China trade war seems to be providing China with another gift: new diplomatic successes. China’s relationship with Japan has suddenly warmed; Prime Minister Abe Shinzo will be visiting Beijing in October, after he and Xi issued a joint statement in defense of the World Trade Organization and globalization, both of which Trump detests. Economic ties with Germany and South Korea have also improved in the wake of US-China differences. The “China threat” narrative is also harming US businesses and consumers, undermining any prospect of a nuclear deal with North Korea, ceding Asia-Pacific commercial opportunities to China, and preventing cooperation on climate change.

The difficult task of promoting improved human rights conditions in China is now even more difficult. On the rare occasion when Washington raises its voice to defend human rights, it is more easily ignored by Beijing. An example is the US threat of sanctions in response to the incarceration and “reeducation” of as many as one million Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province. The threat is hardly likely to register with Beijing while a trade war is going on. And it puts the onus on the Europeans to prioritize human rights over another hefty trade package with China. So far they don’t seem anxious to sacrifice profits for Muslims.

Coming to Grips with China

China’s role in world politics is changing dramatically. It no longer seeks to “hide its profile and bide its time,” as Deng Xiaoping had advised. To the contrary, many Chinese foreign policy specialists speak of a post-American world, one that is not merely multipolar but in which China is the US’s equal. Some Chinese specialists maintain that China will soon eclipse the US in the Asia-Pacific balance of power. In this new Asia order, China has the ability to defend its territorial claims in nearby waters, and possibly even deter the US from protecting Taiwan. China can step in when US relations with longtime allies fray (e.g., South Korea and Turkey), challenge US policy on high-profile issues (e.g., Iran and North Korea), be the lead voice on globalization, have the financial resources to buy economic dominance and strategic access in developing countries, and be a global leader in energy conservation.

America’s China problem is therefore no longer about “managing China’s rise.” It is about finding ways to more deeply engage China on common problems, such as climate change and energy, while also establishing rules of the road to avoid military confrontations in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. Neither of these paths excludes standing up for human rights (by either side, it should be added), negotiating better trade and investment terms, and confronting aggressive behavior in or beyond East Asia. What they do exclude is treatment of the other as an enemy. Inevitably, China is going to be a global military power to match its widening economic reach, which now extends to Latin America. The US will have to adjust to that new reality and invest more in common security than in containment and trade wars. And that adjustment, as two former US officials and Asia analysts have recently written, starts with “a new degree of humility about the United States’ ability to change China” (Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner, “The China Reckoning,” Foreign Affairs, March-April 2018.)

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

The Conversation

Yom Kippur: A time for feasting as well as fasting


Ted Merwin

Part-Time Associate Professor of Religion, Dickinson College

Disclosure statement

Ted Merwin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

It was the bag of Fritos that gave me away. As a secular Jewish kid whose family did not belong to a synagogue, I did not think twice about riding my bike to the convenience store around the corner during the afternoon of Yom Kippur.

I knew that it was a solemn holiday when observant Jews do not eat or drink. But my public school was closed for the holiday, and there was little to do.

As luck would have it, as I came back around the corner, I nearly ran over a schoolmate who was walking on the sidewalk. I lived in a predominantly Jewish suburb of New York and was conscious that although I wasn’t fasting, he almost certainly was. The bag of corn chips that I was carrying betrayed me as a traitor to my faith.

Years later, as a scholar and author of “Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli,” I came to understand why the Jewish practice of abstaining from food on Yom Kippur is so out of step with the rest of Jewish tradition.

In both its religious and cultural guises, Judaism has always revolved around food.

Eating as a pleasure of life

In ancient times, Jewish priests known as “cohanim” sacrificed bulls, rams and lambs on the altar inside the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem, symbolically sharing a banquet with God.

After the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 and Jews were dispersed throughout the Mediterranean basin, food remained a Jewish preoccupation. Because the kosher laws restricted what Jews could put in their mouths, much of every day was spent figuring out what and how to eat.

In 20th-century America, the Jewish delicatessen, with its fatty, garlicky fare, became on par with the synagogue as a communal gathering place.

The worldly emphasis of Judaism has, since ancient times, recognized eating as an essential pleasure of life. A passage in the Jerusalem Talmud states that Jews will be called to account in the afterlife if they have not taken advantage of opportunities to eat well.

Food, according to historian Hasia Diner, “gave meaning to Jewish life.” As the old joke goes, most Jewish holidays can be summed up by a simple formula,

“They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!”

Yom Kippur as a holiday of inversion

But not the Day of Atonement, which is a ritual rehearsal of one’s own death through refusing the demands of the body.

In Hebrew, Yom Kippur is connected linguistically to Purim, the springtime holiday of masks and merrymaking. But one could well ask: How is the most mournful day of the Jewish year comparable to the most raucous and ribald one?

On Purim, Jews drink alcohol, don disguises and feast on pastries. The element of masquerade, it has been said, makes it the one day of the year when Jews pretend to be other than Jewish.

Not eating on Yom Kippur similarly inverts the normal pattern of Jewish life. It is by abstaining from eating that Jews connect both to God and to their fellow Jews.

A symbol of rebellion?

For secular Jews, there is no better way to rebel against religious Judaism than to dine publicly on Yom Kippur.

In 1888, a group of anarchist Jews in London rented a hall in the city’s East End, where most of the Jews lived, and organized a Yom Kippur Ball with “antireligious lectures, music and refreshments.”

Over the next couple of decades, similar celebrations sprouted up in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Montreal, often triggering protests. Indeed, when Herrick Brothers Restaurant on the Lower East Side of New York decided to remain open on Yom Kippur in 1898, they unwittingly exposed their clientele to violence. Patrons were physically attacked by other Jews on their way to synagogue.

For starving victims of the Nazis, every day was Yom Kippur.

In a famous passage in Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s nonfiction masterpiece, “Night,” the author, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, recalls deliberately eating on Yom Kippur as a “symbol of rebellion, of protest against Him,” for His silence and inaction in the face of the Nazi genocide.

“Deep inside me,” he writes, “I felt a great void opening” – not only a physical one, but a spiritual one as well.

A new tradition

Nowadays, most Jews who do not fast on Yom Kippur are simply not part of a community of Jews who participate in synagogue life. Conversely, many non-Jews who are domestic partners of Jews do fast on Yom Kippur.

But whether or not one fasts on Yom Kippur, the tradition has developed over just the last few decades, according to scholar Nora Rubel, of a lavish, festive meal at the conclusion of the fast.

For many Jews, as historian Jenna Weissman Joselit has noted, the break-fast meal is the most important aspect of Yom Kippur, in ways that outshine the religious elements of the day.

Breaking the fast in pop culture

In American popular culture, Jewish characters are often shown breaking the fast – while it is still daylight – with flagrantly non-kosher foods.

In Woody Allen’s 1987 film comedy, “Radio Days,” set in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, a Jewish family is so infuriated that their Communist Jewish next-door neighbor (played by Larry David) is eating and playing music on Yom Kippur that they fantasize about burning down his house. But then the uncle (played by Josh Mostel) goes next door and ends up not only eating pork chops and clams, but being indoctrinated with Marxist ideology to boot.

In a 2015 episode of “Broad City,” Abbi and Ilana down bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, while in the inaugural episode of the Canadian Internet series “YidLife Crisis,” which debuted in 2014, Yom Kippur finds Chaimie and Leizer in a restaurant consuming poutine – french fries with cheese curds and gravy.

Breaking the fast.

The break-fast meal

In real life, the menu for the break-fast meal typically mirrors that of a Sunday brunch: bagels, cream cheese, smoked fish, noodle kugel (casserole), and rugelach (jam-filled pastries).

However, it may also include dishes from the host’s ethnic Jewish origins. Eastern European Jews traditionally dine on kreplach – dumplings stuffed with calves’ brains or chicken livers, Iraqi Jews drink sweetened almond milk flavored with cardamom and Moroccan Jews enjoy harira – lamb, legume and lemon soup – a dish that was borrowed from Muslim neighbors who were breaking the fast of Ramadan.

Whatever is on the menu, Jews eat with a vengeance to conclude the holiday, restoring them to the fullness of not just their stomachs but of their very Jewish identities.

Researchers block cocaine craving and addiction with a special skin graft


Qingyao Kong

Postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Anesthesia & Critical Care, University of Chicago

Disclosure statement

Qingyao Kong does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Addiction to any drug – be it alcohol, tobacco, opioids or illicit drugs, like cocaine – is a chronic disease that causes a compulsive drug-seeking behavior individuals find difficult or impossible to control even when they are aware of the harmful, often deadly consequences.

Long-term use changes the structure of brain regions linked to judgment, stress, decision-making and behavior, making it increasingly difficult to ignore drug cravings.

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Ming Xu at the University of Chicago, where we study addiction, with a goal of finding an effective cure. In a paper in Nature Biomedical Engineering, we describe a new approach, which we developed and tested, that blocks cocaine-seeking in mice and actually protects them from high doses that would otherwise be deadly.

How can gene therapy stop addiction?

Present in human liver and blood is a natural enzyme called butyrylcholinesterase, which we abbreviate as BChE. One of this enzyme’s jobs is to break down, or metabolize, cocaine into inactive, harmless components. In fact, there is even a mutant human BChE (hBChE), which was genetically engineered to greatly accelerate the metabolism of cocaine. This super mutant enzyme is expected to become a therapy for treating cocaine addiction. However, delivering the active enzyme to addicts by injection and keeping this enzyme functioning in living animals is challenging.

So instead of giving the enzyme to the animals, we decided to engineer skin stem cells that carried the gene for the BChE enzyme. This way the skin cells would be able to manufacture the enzyme themselves and supply the animal.

In our study, we first used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to edit the mouse skin stem cells and incorporate the hBChE gene. These engineered skin cells produced consistent and high levels of the hBChE protein, which they then secreted. Then we grew these engineered stem cells in the lab and created a flat layer of skin-like tissue which took a few days to grow.

Once the lab-grown skin was complete, we transplanted it into host animals where the cells released significant quantities of hBChE into blood for more than 10 weeks.

With the genetically engineered skin graft releasing hBChE into the blood stream of the host mice, we hypothesized that if the mouse consumed cocaine, the enzyme would rapidly chop up the drug before it could trigger the addictive pleasure response in the brain.

‘Immunizing’ against cocaine

Cocaine works by elevating dopamine levels in the brain which then result in feelings of reward and euphoria, which trigger a craving for more of the drug.

The animals that received the engineered skin graft were able to clear injected quantities of cocaine faster than control animals. Their brains also had lower levels of dopamine.

Moreover, the skin grafts of hBChE-producing cells can effectively decrease the rate of lethal overdoses from 50 percent to zero when the animals were injected with a high, potentially lethal, dose of cocaine. When animals were given a lethal dose, all the control animals died while none of the animals that received the engineered skin perished. It was as if the enzyme produced by the skin graft had immunized the mice against a cocaine overdose.

We then assessed whether hBChE-producing cells can protect against development of cocaine-seeking. We used mice that were trained to reveal their preference for cocaine by spending more time in a cocaine-rich environment. Under the same dosage and training procedures, normal animals acquired preference to cocaine, whereas host animals with the skin graft showed no such preference, indicating skin graft of the hBChE-cells efficiently blocks the cocaine-induced reward effect. In a similar way, skin-derived hBChE efficiently and specifically disrupts recurrence of cocaine-seeking after 25 days of withdrawal.

To test whether this gene therapy approach will work in humans, we grew human skin-like tissue from primary skin stem cells that were genetically edited by CRISPR to allow hBChE production.

We were encouraged to see that engineered human epidermal cells produced large quantities of hBChE in cells cultured in the lab and in mice. This suggests the concept of skin gene therapy may be effective for treating cocaine abuse and overdose in humans in the future.

Adapting this approach for humans could be a promising way for blocking addiction. But first we must have sufficient evidence that it works well with few side effects. Likewise, engineering skin cells with the enzymes that degrade alcohol and nicotine could be an effective strategy for curbing addiction and abuse of these two drugs as well.

Israeli police investigates at the scene of an stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Israeli military says a Palestinian attacker has stabbed and critically wounded an Israeli man in front of a mall. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean) police investigates at the scene of an stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Israeli military says a Palestinian attacker has stabbed and critically wounded an Israeli man in front of a mall. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli police investigates at the scene of an stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Israeli military says a Palestinian attacker has stabbed and critically wounded an Israeli man in front of a mall. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean) police investigates at the scene of an stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Gush Etzion Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Israeli military says a Palestinian attacker has stabbed and critically wounded an Israeli man in front of a mall. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Staff & Wire Reports