World praises UAE on successful launch of Mars Hope probe

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A picture taken on July 19, 2020, shows a screen broadcasting the launch of the “Hope” Mars probe at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai. The probe is one of three racing to the Red Planet, with Chinese and US rockets also taking advantage of the Earth and Mars being unusually close: a mere hop of 55 million kilometers. (AFP)
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An H-2A rocket carrying the Hope Probe known as "Al-Amal" in Arabic, developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the UAE to explore Mars, blasts off from Tanegashima Space Centre in southwestern Japan. (AFP/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries)
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Updated 21 July 2020

World praises UAE on successful launch of Mars Hope probe

  • Emirates Mars Mission ‘constitutes a national and Arab achievement’
  • UAE will be the ninth country to explore the Red Planet

DUBAI: The UAE has received global praise for the “historic” launch of its Mars space probe.
The Hope probe blasted off early Monday from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, making the Emirates the first Arab and Islamic country to attempt planetary exploration.
President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed led the celebrations, saying the Emirates Mars Mission “constitutes a national and Arab achievement and an advanced Emirati push in the process of building global knowledge in space.”




The probe is one of three racing to the Red Planet, with Chinese and US rockets also taking advantage of the Earth and Mars being unusually close: a mere hop of 55 million kilometers. (AFP)

He said the Hope probe idea was developed within the UAE’s “national and research institutions and was designed and manufactured with the effective participation of a young national elite of bright minds — highly qualified and trained and sincere young Emiratis.”
The mission is a joint project between the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center and the UAE Space Agency, with the help of contributors and experts from leading universities.
The UAE will be the ninth country to explore the Red Planet, joining an exclusive club of nations.

Prior to the launch, the United Nations said the UAE’s mission is a “contribution to the entire world” and the Emirates is becoming “a main player in the space arena.”
“The UAE is always looking forward to the future; it is our wonderful partner,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
The Arab League secretary-general said the launch is a “unique event and a milestone in UAE and Arab achievements as it embodies a message of hope, ambition and motivation for all the peoples of the region to overcome challenges.”
“This achievement is an Emirati-Arab contribution to shaping and making a promising future for humanity, and a message to future generations that nothing is impossible.” Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.
NASA congratulated the UAE on the successful launch, describing the mission as a “culmination of tremendous hard work and dedication.”
“This mission is aptly named since it’s a symbol of inspiration for the UAE, the region, and the world,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

“We are in awe of the speed and commitment the UAE, through both the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center and the UAE Space Agency, has demonstrated in developing its first interplanetary spacecraft.”
The UAE plans to share all its data with the world, not just academics and scientists and the research findings will be updated regularly and made publicly available.
GCC Secretary General Nayef Al-Hajjraf also praised the UAE’s scientific achievements, expressing his pleasure at witnessing such a “unique event.”
He said “the Hope Probe comes to fulfill the hopes of millions of future generations.”
The probe will travel almost 500 million kilometers and is set to reach the orbit of Mars in February 2021, which would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s establishment.

The data from the mission will be publicly available.
The mission is also the first of three international missions to Mars this year, including NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover, China’s Tianwen-1, which will launch next month, and ExoMars, a collaboration between the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos.


Seth Rogen’s Israel comments highlight fraught diaspora ties

Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire after an Israeli airstrike, on a floor in a building that also houses international media offices in Gaza City. (Reuters/File)
Updated 08 August 2020

Seth Rogen’s Israel comments highlight fraught diaspora ties

  • Jewish comedians’ conversation on Israel spark an uproar

TEL AVIV: It began as a lighthearted conversation between two Jewish comedians, riffing on a podcast about the idiosyncrasies of their shared heritage. But after talk turned to Israel, it didn’t take long for Marc Maron and Seth Rogen to spark an uproar.

Their comments about Israel — especially Rogen saying the country “doesn’t make sense” — infuriated many Israel supporters and highlighted the country’s tenuous relationship with young, progressive Jewish critics in the diaspora.
Israel has long benefited from financial and political support from American Jews. But in recent years the country has faced a groundswell of opposition from young progressives, disillusioned by Israel’s aggressive West Bank settlement building, its perceived exclusion of liberal streams of Judaism and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cosy relationship with President Donald Trump.
“What Seth Rogen said is par for the course among our generation and the Israeli government has to wake up and see that their actions have consequences,” said Yonah Lieberman, spokesman for If Not Now, an American Jewish organization opposed to Israel’s entrenched occupation of the West Bank.
Rogen’s remarks follow a dramatic shift by an influential Jewish American commentator who recently endorsed the idea of a democratic entity of Jews and Palestinians living with equal rights on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Peter Beinart’s argument that a two-state solution — Israel and Palestine — is no longer possible sent shock waves through the Jewish establishment and Washington policymaking circles.
For many Jews, Israel is an integral part of their identity, on religious grounds or as an insurance policy in the wake of the Holocaust and in a modern age of resurgent anti-Semitism. But polls have shown that while most American Jews identify with Israel and feel a connection to the country, that support has waned over recent years, especially among millennials.
Some have even embraced the Palestinian-led movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel to protest what it says is Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Israel accuses the movement of waging a campaign to delegitimize its very existence.

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Their comments about Israel — especially Rogen saying the country ‘doesn’t make sense’ — highlighted the country’s tenuous relationship with young, progressive Jewish critics in the diaspora.

In the podcast, Rogen, who appeared in such smash comedies as “Superbad” and “Knocked Up,” talked about attending Jewish schools and Jewish summer camp while growing up in Vancouver. He said his parents met on an Israeli kibbutz.
As they continued to chat, Rogen appeared to question why Israel was established.
“You don’t keep all your Jews in one basket. I don’t understand why they did that. It makes no sense whatsoever,” Rogen said. “You don’t keep something you’re trying to preserve all in one place especially when that place has proven to be pretty volatile. I’m trying to keep all these things safe. I’m going to put them in my blender and hope that that’s the best place to, that’ll do it.”
Rogen then said he was “fed a huge amount of lies” about Israel during his youth. “They never tell you that ‘oh, by the way, there were people there.’ They make it seem like, ‘the (expletive) door’s open.’”
Maron and Rogen both joked about how frightened they were about the responses they would receive from Israel’s defenders. Their concerns were justified.
Rogen’s comments immediately lit up “Jewish Twitter.” They unleashed a flurry of critical op-eds in Jewish and Israeli media. And they prompted Rogen to call Isaac Herzog, the head of the Jewish Agency, a major nonprofit that works to foster relations between Israel and the Jewish world.
In a Facebook post, Herzog said he and Rogen had a frank and open conversation. He said Rogen “was misunderstood and apologized” for his comments.
“I told him that many Israelis and Jews around the world were personally hurt by his statement, which implies the denial of Israel’s right to exist,” Herzog wrote.
In an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, Rogen said he called Herzog at the urging of his mother and he denied apologizing. He said the comments were made in jest and misconstrued.
“I don’t want Jews to think that I don’t think Israel should exist. And I understand how they could have been led to think that,” he said.
Rogen also said he is a “proud Jew.” He said his criticism was aimed at the education he received, and he believed he could have been given a deeper picture of a “complex” situation.
Ironically, Rogen was on the podcast to promote his new movie, “An American Pickle,” about a Jewish immigrant to the US at the start of the 20th century who falls into a vat of pickle brine and emerges 100 years later. He called the project a “very Jewish film.”
Lieberman, from If Not Now, said the uproar shows “how much the conversation has changed” about Israel among American Jews.
Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank, said Israel should not be expected to change its “security and foreign policies” based on growing estrangement from Jews overseas.
But he said it can take realistic steps to close the gap, such as establishing a pluralistic prayer site at the Western Wall, long a sticking point between Israel’s Orthodox establishment and more liberal Jews in the US
“It’s a challenge for Israel. It’s inconvenient. We want everyone to love us, especially other Jews,” he said. “Israel can do certain things to make it somewhat better.”