Wednesday, October 30, 2013

From Ian:

France: Anti-Semitism Now Mainstream
A few weeks ago, when French Jewish actor Elie Semoun was a prime-time guest on one of the main French television channels, Canal Plus, the words of Sebastian Thoen, a standup comedian who introduced him may have been meant to be to be laudatory, but took quite a different turn: "You never plunged into communitarianism [Jewish activism] ... You could have posted yourself in the street selling jeans and diamonds from the back of a minivan, saying 'Israel is always right, f*** Palestine, wallala.' You show that it is possible to be of the Jewish faith without being completely disgusting."
Semoun was obviously ill-at-ease, but did not react. A couple hours after the show, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF) issued a statement denouncing a "dangerous trivialization of anti-Semitism." The President of the TV channel responded by saying that the Jewish community had "no sense of humor." The incident occurred, however, in a context where the French Jewish community has no reason to have a sense of humor.
Anti-Semitism in Australia?
One of the reasons there has been such a spike in anti-Semitism across Europe is because the political and social leadership failed to act when the warning signs first appeared.
Today, they are playing catch up, and some may say, are even too late.
While anti-Semitism will always exist no matter where, the Australian response of zero tolerance, education and unequivocal political and social condemnation ought to be an example to all those fighting this oldest and most enduring forms of hatred.
Mom of Australia attack suspect works at Jewish nursing home
The mother of one of the suspects arrested in connection with this weekend’s beating of several Jews in Sydney, Australia on Tuesday said that her son could not be an anti- Semite as she works for a Jewish nursing home.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the mother of the accused stated that her son did not hate Jews, citing her employment as proof.
“When he’s at home he’s not racist, but when they get together they like to pick on people – it only takes drinking,” she said of her son and his friends.
The woman’s 17-year-old son as well as the other suspect arrested, who is also a minor, were out on bail for assaulting a police officer at the time of Saturday’s attack, the Daily Telegraph added.
Incident at the University of New South Wales
Two students campaigning for the ‘Voice’ ticket danced around Mr Campbell while making Nazi salutes and singing ‘Springtime for Hitler’. Both campaigners, one of whom was standing for election, have since issued unequivocal public apologies. The elected councillor has also offered his resignation to the student council. Mr Campbell has accepted the apologies of both campaigners and accepts that they did not intend to offend him or the Jewish community, but that their conduct was nonetheless antisemitic.
Academic Freedom Against Itself: Boycotting Israeli Universities
A final question. What animates the boycotters? They would, I am sure, answer, we are animated by a commitment to the securing of social/political justice, a commitment that overrides lesser commitments we might have as professionals. I’ll grant that as a part of their motivation, but another, perhaps larger, part is the opportunity to shed the label “ivory-tower intellectual” — a label that announces their real-world ineffectuality — and march under a more flattering banner, the banner of “freedom fighter.” But the idea that an academic becomes some kind of hero by the cost-free act of denying other academics the right to play in the communal sandbox (yes, this is third-grade stuff) is as pathetic as it is laughable. Heroism doesn’t come that cheaply. Better, I think, to wear the “ivory-tower intellectual” label proudly. At least, it’s honest.
EU weighs Israeli proposals to resolve settlement guidelines dispute
“Yesterday, the EU and Israel held serious and pragmatic discussions on mutually acceptable ways to ensure full Israeli participation in EU programs, notably Horizon 2020,” a diplomatic source said. “The EU side returned to Brussels with detailed suggestions made by the Israeli side: these will be considered further and will be subject to further discussion as soon as possible.”
University of Oslo instructed that their G4S ban is illegal
Several months back, the University of Oslo banned the Norwegian security services company G4S, on the very unlikely ground that its sister company in Israel is said to contribute to Human rights breaches. Not only did the University of Oslo rescind their contract with G4S, but denied them participation in the public tender for new contracts. This, the Norwegian G4S found ludicrous and intolerable and took the University to court.
Israel rejects Lebanon EEZ compromise
The disputed area covers 850 square kilometers. The triangular region has its apex near Rosh Hanikra and its base along the borders with Israel and Cyprus's EEZs. The agreement signed between Israel and Cyprus in December 2010 supports Israel's interpretation. A similar agreement signed between Cyprus and Lebanon was not ratified by the Lebanese parliament.
"Globes" recently revealed that Lebanon has already published oil exploration tenders for its waters in which the southern license border markings for Block 9 are in line with the Lebanese version of where the border should be.
Antiquities thieves nabbed at Second Temple-era site
According to a statement published by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the three Palestinian men infiltrated into Israel through an as-yet-uncompleted section of the security fence last weekend. Two of the suspects are from the nearby village of Nahalin and the other is from Bethlehem. They are suspected of hunting for coins or other precious metals. Officers found food, camping gear, digging tools and metal detectors on their persons.
NY deliveryman wins $900,000 after 16 years of anti-Semitic abuse
Much of Wiercinski’s father’s family died at the hands of the Nazis, he told the newspaper. He said he had to explain what Zyklon B was to the jury, because they were “very young.”
“When I explain how it was used in the gas chambers, they were very serious. Everybody [in the courtroom] was silent,” he told the Post.
Hi-tech flowerpot saves plants from owners’ mistakes
There are no statistics about how many houseplants die annually because they weren’t watered, or perhaps more commonly, watered incorrectly, with owners giving them too much or too little water at the wrong time. For plant owners who are watering-challenged, students at Tel Aviv’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design have designed a “smart planter,” a flowerpot that knows how much water to dispense and when to dispense it.
GreenSpense to represent Israel at 2013 International Cleantech Open Ideas Competition
After winning the national Open Cleantech Competition in Israel, GreenSpense – which has developed an eco-friendly solution to the challenges and dangers presented by aerosol containers — will represent Israel at the upcoming 2013 International Cleantech Open Ideas Competition in Silicon Valley.
The California event is one of the most prestigious international competitions in the cleantech field.
Dutch museums identify 139 pieces looted by the Nazis
Dutch museums have identified 139 pieces of art, including dozens of paintings — one by Matisse and many by Dutch painters of varying renown such as Impressionist Isaac Israels — as likely having been taken forcibly from Jewish owners.
Richard Dawkins Perplexed by High Number of Jewish Nobel Prize Winners
Addressing the controversy surrounding a Tweet he wrote during the conferment of Nobel prizes earlier this month, Dawkins offered up something of a mea culpa, stating: “That was unfortunate. I should have compared religion with religion and compared Islam not with Trinity College but with Jews, because the number of Jews who have won Nobel Prizes is phenomenally high.”
Continuing, he said: “Race does not come into it. It is pure religion and culture. Something about the cultural tradition of Jews is way, way more sympathetic to science and learning and intellectual pursuits than Islam. That would have been a fair comparison. Ironically, I originally wrote the tweet with Jews and thought, That might give offense. And so I thought I better change it.”
Asurion acquires Soluto for $100m
Asurion, a leader in technology protection services, has paid upwards of $100 million to acquire Soluto, the Tel Aviv-based online software problem solver.
According to Hebrew media reports, the American corporation first sent an email to Soluto’s CEO Tomer Dvir about buying out the award-winning Israeli company but the young computer whiz thought it was a joke.
Peres is ‘sababa,’ Paula Abdul gushes
Abdul met with Peres on Tuesday and let him know that “everyone told me you’re so sababa, and it’s true,” using the Hebrew slang word for “cool.”
Visiting Israel for the first time after a decades-long career as a dancer, singer, choreographer and, most recently, TV talent show judge, Abdul said she was “overwhelmed with gratitude” to be in Israel, and has “wanted to come for years.”
Vatican tweets a Lou Reed tribute
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s culture minister, on Monday tweeted out a verse from Reed’s song “Perfect Day.” On his Twitter account @CardRavasi he wrote: “Oh, it’s such a perfect day/ I’m glad I spend it with you/ Oh, such a perfect day/ You just keep me hanging on (Lou Reed).”
Lou Reed is why I’m a rabbi
This musical journey of Lou Reed—one that in 1965 accompanied Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable—is what inspired me along my path to the rabbinate. Through his music as life, Lou Reed reminded me of that annual obligation of crossing all boundaries with the utter seriousness of carnivale that Jews still call Purim—that “Halloween Parade”. That same album New York from 1989 is where Lou confronts the Nazi fugitives like Kurt Waldheim and anti-Semitic candidates like Jesse Jackson, so that with “Good Evening Mr. Waldheim” Lou dares to remove the mask! Reed saw the absurdity of life surrounding him and despite it all—following Fackenheim’s call for the 614th commandment not to grant Hitler a posthumous victory—he embraced life! May the memory of rock n’ roll animal, Louis Rabinowitz—Lou Reed, be a blessing, and in the final words of the Warsaw Ghetto rebbe in 1943: Es zol zich zingen a shira —“So shall the song sing itself.”


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