Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for killing a prone Palestinian assailant, is now a Purim costume for Israeli kids.
Azaria is seen as a hero by many in Israel who was unfairly maligned by the media and courts after he shot and killed Palestinian Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who no longer posed a threat, according to the court decision.
Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in prison, which he is now appealing.
A campaign to support Azaria is hosting a Purim costume competition for the best outfit in Azaria’s likeness. Prizes include an overnight stay in a bed and breakfast, amusement park tickets and a guitar, Haaretz reported, citing Israel’s Channel 2.
“Elor Azaria is a soldier who was sent to defend us, and I am proud to see children dressing up as him,” said Ran Karmi Buzaglo, the head of the campaign, in a statement to Channel 2.
The Channel 2 report featured Israeli Luna Dayan, whose grandson is dressing as Azaria for Purim. She said Azaria shouldn’t have shot al Sharif, but that he was a hero anyway for “taking the initiative” at the scene.
Elusive British street artist Banksy has opened a hotel in Bethlehem as an art installation, protest and — yes — as place for visitors to stay.
Squeezed into a space right next to the separation barrier, the Walled-Off Hotel (riffing on Waldorf Hotel, which sounds the same in a southern English accent) boasts the “worst-view in the world” from its presidential suite.
Each room has its own particular form of protest, from water dripping from bullet-holes in the bathtub of the presidential suite, to hallway paintings of Israeli watchtowers with Palestinian children swinging around them like a carousel.
The hotel was constructed in secret over 14 months before being unveiled on March 3. It will open for business on March 20, though who might stay in it still remains an open question. Though Banksy is explicitly interested in opening dialogue and visited Gaza in 2015 the Walled-Off Hotel is almost legally impossible to stay in. Israelis are forbidden from Bethlehem and its sites and, though the hotel is in an area under Israeli military control (therefore legal to stay), all the approach roads are illegal to take.
When Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman volunteered to help solve the mystery of Seth Rich’s murder, a DNC staffer gunned down near his home in Washington, Rich’s family welcomed the gesture. They held a joint press conference with Burkman and worked together trying to reach out to people who could possibly have a clue leading to the killers. Burkman put up more than $100,000 of his own money as a reward for those coming up with useful information.
But now, Burkman has taken his investigative work into conspiracy theory territory and the Rich family feels betrayed. Earlier this week, the Republican lobbyists sent letters to Congress, claiming that he has leads indicating Russian involvement in Rich’s murder.
But members of the Rich family, who during the eight months since the murder have stressed time and again that conspiracy theories floating in regards to the event are false and painful, now feel Burkman has crossed the line. An unnamed family member told DCist that Burkman’s Russian theory is “hurtful” and distracting. “We don’t believe there’s any involvement of any of the different conspiracy theories. We’ve made that clear multiple times. Putting out statements with absolutely nothing tangible and no hard facts—that’s what I want to stop,” the family members said.
Burkman told the publication he is “honoring my commitment to Mary Rich,” Seth’s mother. But the family member disputed this account, arguing that talks about conspiracy theories regarding Seth Rich’s murder “chip away at his legacy.”
Add Jared Kushner to the list of Trump advisers who held talks with Russian officials during the transition period.
The White House confirmed Thursday that Trump’s son-in-law attended a December meeting with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, alongside Michael Flynn.
Flynn has since lost his job as National Security Adviser due to similar meetings and talks with Kislyak and Attorney General Jeff Sessions was just forced to recuse himself from overseeing an investigation into Russia’s involvement in the elections after it has been revealed that he had met with the ambassador.
Kushner, according to White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks, took part in a 20-minute conversation with Kislyak held at the Trump Tower in order to “establish a line of communication” between the incoming administration and Russia. “Jared has had meetings with many other foreign countries and representatives — as many as two dozen other foreign countries’ leaders and representatives,” Hicks added.
While meetings with foreign representatives are legal and common for presidential transition team, Flynn came under fire for allegedly discussing Russia’s reaction to sanctions imposed on it by the Obama administration and later lying about the talks. Kushner, according to the report, played a minor role in the meeting with Kislyak and has not met with the Russian ambassador since.
California Rep. Adam Schiff blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday morning, suggesting that the country’s top law enforcement official deliberately misled senators about his meetings with the Russian ambassador during his January confirmation hearing.
“You don’t, I think, treat a visit in your office by the Russian ambassador as something casual, something not memorable,” the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe. “And when you’re asked about your contacts with Russians in the Senate, that should have been disclosed. I think he knew it should have been disclosed.”
Sessions, then an Alabama senator and surrogate for President Trump, met with Kremlin ambassador Sergei Kislyak twice during the campaign, once during the Republican National Convention in July and two months later in September. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not have any contact with the Russians in the course of the election season.
Sessions has maintained that he did not mislead the Senate, asserting that his communications with the envoy had to do with Senate business, not the campaign. Schiff has called that explanation of the discrepancy “not credible,” and demanded along with other Democrats that Sessions resign as attorney general.
The ex-Alabama senator has now recused himself from any investigation into the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia.
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