Monday, February 01, 2016

From Ian:

Natan Sharansky: Breaking the Silence Is No Human Rights Organization - and I Should Know
Members and supporters of Breaking the Silence—the group of former Israeli soldiers who accuse the IDF of committing immoral and illegal acts in the West Bank—have on several occasions likened their campaign to that of the dissidents who fought for human rights in the Soviet Union. In 2010, for example, Breaking the Silence was on a short-list of three finalists for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, which recognizes leading human-rights activists around the world, and defenders of the controversial nomination hailed the group as an heir to Andrei Sakharov’s legacy.
In this view, the struggle to end Israel’s military presence in the territories by bringing international pressure to bear on the Jewish state is analogous to the struggle to bring down the Iron Curtain by calling the world’s attention to Soviet repression.
Unfortunately, the comparison is deeply flawed. For one thing, it completely ignores the distinction—so clear and so important to Soviet dissidents—between dictatorship and democracy, and with it the fundamental differences between the Soviet Union and Israel. Soviet dissidents set out to democratize a dictatorial regime, to create the kind of representative institution with which Israel is already blessed. Because such institutions were entirely absent in the USSR, we had no choice but to rely on external forces to induce the regime to respond to our claims.
Breaking the Silence, by contrast, sets out to bypass an existing democratic government and resolve a controversial political issue by means of international pressure. It is of course legitimate to believe that Israel’s military presence in the West Bank should be ended immediately. But it is equally legitimate to believe that such a withdrawal would be dangerous and even catastrophic for the state. This is a political question that should be decided by Israel’s citizens through their elected representatives, not by a small group of self-appointed prophets and their chorus of foreign supporters.
Sharansky Breasts a Protest Against His Talk at Brown On Jewish Identity
Anyone who doubts the gravity of the threat to Israel and Jewish students on American college campuses could have stopped by the Brown University campus here on Thursday night.
Students and community members attempting to listen to a conversation about Jewish identity between actor Michael Douglas and Soviet dissident turned Israeli political figure Natan Sharansky had their event intruded on by loud chants of “free, free, Palestine” from protesters outside.
Don’t blame Brown. The event was crawling with university and city police, along with Mr. Sharansky’s formidable security detail. The protesters have as much right to speak on campus as Mr. Sharansky, 68, and Mr. Douglas, 71, do. Though they do not necessarily have the right to speak so loudly and closely as to drown out the Jewish identity event, or to distribute inside the lecture hall, as they did, a slickly worded handout accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and libeling Mr. Sharansky as “an infamous anti-African racist” while falsely representing the flier as a “program addition.”
The protesters failed to stop Mr. Sharansky from delivering his message, though the noise they generated outside could be heard inside the lecture hall for what seemed like a long while.
But it’s nonetheless a sad moment for American higher education, for Israel, and for world Jewry when a campus conversation between an American actor with a Jewish identity and a human rights hero known for surviving nine years in the Soviet gulag is greeted — before it even happens — by an op-ed in the student newspaper summoning a rally “to speak out against this justification of Israeli crimes.” It’s a measure of the movement’s virulence that it targeted not an appearance by an Israeli general or a foreign policy talk but rather a discussion about Jewish identity.
JPost Editorial: French recognition
Neither the government in Ramallah nor the government in Gaza City has democratic legitimacy. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has just entered the 11th year of a four-year term. Parliamentary elections have not been held in the West Bank or Gaza since 2006. And this deadlock has nothing to do with Israel.
The question arises: Why does France assume a lack of progress in hypothetical talks between Israel and the Palestinians would be Israel’s fault? Yes, there are partners in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition who are adamantly opposed to a two-state solution, such as Bayit Yehudi. But Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his support for the idea and offered to meet with Abbas.
The world know what Israel is able to offer, based on the history of the Wye and Camp David negotiations. And it is a generous, reasonable proposal. If the Palestinians turned it down yet again, then wouldn’t France’s natural response be to condemn Palestinian intransigence? By threatening to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, the French announcement only ensures the Palestinians will dig their heels in further in their rejectionist stance.
No people has an unalienable right to statehood, particularly when this state would quickly become yet another of the many failed Arab states of the Middle East. National self-determination is a privilege that must be earned.
Palestinians have a lot of work to do before they are ready.
France should know this. Then again they should also know better than to provide a state welcome full of pomp and ceremony to the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
French Set Up Obama-Israel Fight
That’s where the lame duck Obama administration comes in.
The Palestinians presume that after more talks fail and the French join the chorus of nations recognizing their aspirations, the next step will be another battle at the United Nations. Up until now every attempt to force either Palestinian statehood or a requirement for an Israeli pullout from the West Bank and Jerusalem has been vetoed by the United States. But if Security Council were to declare Israel’s continued presence in the territories illegal — something that would make a travesty of international law as well as ensuring even more Palestinian terrorism rather than peace — that would be a serious escalation of the conflict. The fact that France, a permanent Security Council member, would be behind the effort might persuade Obama that the time would be ripe for an abandonment of the Israelis at the UN.
Despite the lip service he pays the relationship, Obama has been clearly itching for a chance to force Israel out of the territories in the vain expectation that this would encourage Palestinians to make peace. The administration’s endorsement of a European Union effort to label Israeli goods made in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not only hypocritical but also brings the West one crucial step closer to a boycott of Israel. A UNSC resolution on the West Bank would be the logical — if damaging — conclusion to be drawn from everything Obama has done and said about the Middle East.
Pundits may think the president would refrain from any move that could antagonize Jewish voters during the fall election campaign. But if such a resolution were to come up for a vote after Election Day in November there would be no political impediment to a U.S. move that would be the logical conclusion to an eight-year effort to delegitimize Israel’s negotiating stance and to create more “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. That’s a scenario Israel and its friends ought to be worried about far more than a meaningless gesture by the French.

HuffPo: We Are Not Your Enemies -- Pinklying, Pinkwashing and the Decline of the LGBTQ Left
The pinklying crowd, as evident in their assault at Creating Change, conflates queer Jews with Israelis and the Israeli government. A Wider Bridge and its members and guests were all mindlessly held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government. None of the protestors, nor the Task Force, ever bothered to ask the organization for its positions on the issues of concern. And the chant, "Free Palestine from the river to the sea," seeks to deny Israeli Jews, and only Jews, of the right to self-determination.
This is not social justice. Jews have the right to be engaged about Israel, as do Palestinians. American queer people of color have the right to be concerned, too, but they have no right to elevate this single global issue to a litmus test for membership in the progressive LGBT movement. When they do so, and align attacking Israel with the need to support trans women (thank you, American communist party), as the protestors did in Chicago, they are acting out just as the bigots of the right do against them.
The President just proudly stated, "We are all Jews." These actions by the radical queer left, allowed to proceed by the leadership of the Task Force, have become a wedge that threatens the cohesion of the queer community. Instead they should be meditating on the President's words.
My declaration to the radicals: You have real enemies out there. We are not among them.
How Would Israeli Human Rights Groups Have Reacted During World War II?
‪If only B’Tselem could dedicate a bit more time, effort, and treasure to eradicating collective punishment outside of colonized Palestine, Tibet would be free. Ukraine would be reunited. Morocco would return Western Sahara. Spain would allow the Basque separatists to, well, separate.
It’s a crying shame that B’Tselem and other like-minded groups weren’t around during World War II to document and draw attention to some of the most outrageous examples of collective punishment.
While the controversial fire-bombing of Dresden killed an estimated 25,000 civilians during World War II, the Allies’ act of “collective punishment” also succeeded in keeping more than a million Germans out of the German army; from manning anti-aircraft defenses; from making ammunition and from making urgent repairs. In addition, Dresden housed factories that were producing weapons and equipment for the Nazi war effort. Germany was forced to surrender three months after the Dresden bombing.
Another joint United States-United Kingdom “collective punishment” effort was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the war in Europe had already concluded, the Allies prepared for what was anticipated to be a very costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. The Japanese had repeatedly refused to accept the Allies’ demands for unconditional surrender, even if it meant facing “prompt and utter destruction.” While the issue continues to generate scholarly debate, President Harry Truman estimated that the bombings saved up to half a million US lives. Many agree with that assessment.
Would Tommy Sheppard Have Met With Nazis Who Describe Israeli Jews As Vermin?
Alex Salmond celebrated Holocaust Memorial Day by expressing middle-class distaste that the country with the largest population of Survivors and relatives of the victims of the Holocaust should be insufficiently praiseworthy of a national government which promotes Holocaust Denial. At the same time this week, a gaggle delegation of Parliamentarians did so by posing with the former head of the board of trustees for the Palestine Return Centre, Zehar Birawi.
Yes, that Hamas-linked Palestine Return Centre which employed Daud “you sunk my navy and Jews, Jews, Jews behind the orange juice” Abdullah as researcher, as well as Sameeh “Norman Frankstineine (sic) is a bit too Jewish for my liking” Habeeb.
It should be noted that Birawi denies any links to Hamas in the linked article. If he considers this a slur on his character he, no doubt, will reject all the stuff about gharqad trees and pursuing Jews worldwide.
One of the accompanying MPs, SNP’s Tommy Sheppard – who would have us believe he is a passionate and well-informed campaigner on Middle East issues – insists he did not know of Birawi’s past “in any great details at all”. Now, where have I heard that before from people who ally themselves with groups which hold less than savoury attitudes towards Jews?
In answer to the title question, if he knew their past in great details, Sheppard may well not have. The PRC certainly could have.
Canada steps away from Israel
Dion [Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister] couldn’t even muster the courage to condemn the violence, nor did he provide any context for the conflict. Dion neglected to mention that the recent wave of violence, known as the ‘Intifada of the Knives’, consists of Palestinian attacks against ordinary Jewish civilians on the streets.
The statement continues to say, “As a steadfast ally and friend to Israel, Canada calls for all efforts to be made to reduce violence and incitement.”
Why is Canada’s foreign minister calling on Israel to reduce violence and incitement?
Israel has the right to defend itself from violence and terrorism.
Israeli security forces can and should use force against those who attack and kill civilians.
Canada used to be a steadfast friend and ally to Israel. Our leaders used to stand up to bigotry at the UN and against those who unfairly criticize Israel. With the election of Justin Trudeau, however, the relationship has already changed.
Canada is taking a step away from our friend and ally, and perching itself back up onto the fence, assuming the role of unbiased mediator between the Middle East’s only liberal democracy and the those trying to destroy it.
'Israel will never leave Golan Heights, no matter what'
Israel will never leave the Golan Heights, no matter what diplomatic settlement is reached in Syria, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold told a gathering in Jerusalem on Sunday of Israeli ambassadors from around the world.
Israel took control of the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the area in 1981, a move not recognized internationally.
Regarding the ongoing civil war in Syria, Gold reiterated that Israel has no desire to become involved in the conflict.
On the Palestinian issue, Gold said, "Israel will not return to the 1967 borders. It won't happen. Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] prefers a unilateral strategy over negotiations with Israel. [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry tried to achieve a breakthrough. In 2014, he even presented a framework agreement, but Abbas rejected it."
Referring to the regional situation in the Middle East, Gold said Israel has mutual interests "with a number of moderate Arab states."
Israeli envoy Danon: ‘I live with anti-Semitism 24/7 at the United Nations’
“At the UN, I live with anti-Semitism 24/7,” Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon told attendees at a conference on combating BDS and anti-Semitism in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Addressing a World Zionist Organization-arranged conference at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Danon said that he felt the UN building to be a “different world, where BDS is felt every minute of every hour.”
“You can’t ignore BDS; it poses a potential for psychological damage for younger generations and convinces them to not do business with Israel, that Israel is another South Africa,” he said.
“The world wants us to hang our head in shame, but we should walk with our chin up, and my message to you is, when it comes to BDS, we have an obligation to tell the truth in the face of lies.”
Former Scottish First Minister Slammed for ‘Breathtaking Pomposity’ After Criticizing Israeli MK Over Holocaust Comments
Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond was accused of “breathtaking pomposity” on Friday for rebuking an Israeli Knesset member over his denouncement of the Iranian president, who was visiting France during International Holocaust Memorial Day.
“How can Europe honor the memory of the Holocaust, and on the exact same day host the leader of the Iranian regime, which denies that the Holocaust actually happened?” challenged Israeli MK Michael Oren, also former Israeli ambassador to the US, during last Wednesday morning’s commemoration ceremony at the European Parliament.
Salmond, who represents UK voters at the European Parliament, said there was a “time and place for international politics,” and that the “solemn” Holocaust memorial ceremony was not one of them.
Iran has a history of belittling and outright denying the events of the Holocaust. The country hosted a Holocaust cartoon competition in 2015 around the time of the UN-designated Holocaust Remembrance Day, and is sponsoring another one in June this year.
In addition, a website associated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released a video asking whether the Holocaust “is a reality or not,” according to the Daily Telergaph.
BBC papers over UN HRC connection of Swiss PLO deal broker
Ziegler noted that part of the deal was “to open official diplomatic office of the PLO in Geneva at the United Nations; European headquarters of the United Nations.”
Notably though, Owen Bennett Jones made no attempt to inform listeners of the contemporary significance of this story.
Jean Ziegler was indeed “a UN rapporteur for a bit”: he spent a highly controversial term as the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food between 2000 and 2008. Ziegler also co-founded – and received – the infamous (and now defunct) ‘Muammar Al Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights’.
But – as shown on the UN HRC commissioner’s website – Ziegler’s UN career is not a thing of the past. He currently functions as a member of the UN Human Rights Council’s advisory committee (despite opposition to his appointment from the Swiss parliament and the US Ambassador to the UN) and – ironically – in that capacity even co-authored a report on ‘Human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage-taking’.
Considering that regularly the BBC uncritically quotes and promotes statements and content produced by the UN HRC as though they were written in stone, it would have been particularly helpful to BBC audiences to have the dots joined between this past story of a man with sufficient contacts inside a notorious terrorist organization to be able to help broker a self-preserving capitulation to its agenda – including the opening of the door to the UN – and the current advisor to that body’s highly politicised and controversial Human Rights Council.
Legal group argues US lying on Judea-Samaria labeling
The US administration has tried to brush off outrage over its January 23 "reissuing" of orders to importers to label all products from Judea and Samaria as not being from "Israel," but a legal group argues the announcement signals a policy shift.
The US Customs announcement was defended by US State Department spokesman Mark Toner last Thursday, who said that they were not a new policy, but rather a call to enforce the 1995 Customs decision on marking goods from the region.
However, Legal Grounds, an initiative founded in 2012 to promote Israel's rights based on international law, responded Sunday by noting a "re-issuance" is highly unusual since in such cases all that is needed is continued enforcement.
"Contrary to the State Department’s announcement, it appears that the decision to enforce the regulation now is inspired by the latest EU policy changes," said the group in a statement, noting the EU decision to label Jewish goods from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.
Legal Grounds co-chair Arlene Kushner, a journalist, political analyst and author, said, "it is not simply re-issuance of an existing policy, as is being represented by official US sources, but a drastic re-interpretation of the original guidance."

Australian globe pulled after leaving Israel off
An Australian stationery chain has been accused of anti-Israel bias after carrying a globe that eschewed the name Israel in favor of Palestine.
The globe found in the Typo store showed the name of each country written on top of its territory. Twelve smaller countries, including Israel, Lebanon, and many in the Balkans, received a number, with their corresponding names written in a separate legend.
While Israel is mentioned in the legend, under the number 2, the name Palestine is written in full over the territory.
Incensed activists took to social media on January 21, with one writing on Typo’s Facebook page that the company had “wiped Israel from the face of the Earth.”
The company initially said the issue arose only over space concerns on the globe, but later said it would take the globes off the shelf.
Daphne Anson: EU Labels: A French Oleh Writes ...
The European Union (apart from the Czech Republic, which has all my respect) approved without hesitation Wednesday the implementation of the labeling of products originating " Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories ".
What is immediately striking is that the EU is not at all embarrassed that its decision closely resembles the Nazi boycott of 1933. The old demons die hard. In 1933, an economic boycott against the Jews was decided by the Nazi leadership, just weeks after coming to power on 30 January that year.
For the EU, these exports to label sources "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories", that is to say the geographical areas annexed by Israel after the 1967 war: the Golan Heights , Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Jews, we must say, dared to defend itself in a war that Europe believed lost to Israel: remember the embargo of Charles de Gaulle and his statements after Israel crushed the enemy [in 1967]. They dared to reclaim their historic lands of Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem! Who can forgive the Jews for refusing to submit? Certainly not Europe.
Oberlin College president to discuss campus anti-Semitism with alumni
The phone call comes several weeks after 200 alumni wrote to the college administration to voice concern about the actions of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, at Oberlin and a school culture they believe tolerates anti-Semitism.
“Several student organizations at Oberlin have assumed the role as the mouthpiece of the BDS movement, which claims to be a defender of Palestinian rights, but whose inflammatory language falsely portraying Israel as an illegitimate, colonialist and murderous regime demonstrates that its primary goal is to demonize the Jewish state,” read the letter dated January 3.
“Because participation in these groups requires denouncing Israel, the message to Jewish students can be summed up as follows: Either forfeit your allegiance to Israel and join us, or we will brand you as an enemy of justice and complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
The letter mentioned several incidents at the school, including the expulsion of the Kosher Halal co-op from the Oberlin Student Cooperation Association and a protest against Israel on Rosh Hashanah that Jewish students had to pass through on their way to holiday services.
Robert Fisk: A Few Words of False History
Clearly Fisk’s version of history doesn’t fit with the actual facts.
- What are Israel’s “UN-recognised borders” that Fisk refers to? The so-called Green Line is not recognized as an official border by anybody given that it is an armistice line that was arbitrarily based on where two opposing armies happened to be situated at the point of a ceasefire. The UN’s own Resolution 242 that has served as a basis for negotiations over the years calls for “secure and recognized boundaries,” as well as calling on Israel to withdraw from “territories occupied” in 1967, purposely phrased to avoid stating “all” or “the” territories. When asked to explain the British position later, Lord Caradon said: “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.”
- Who are the Palestinians who were “the rightful owners of the land under Ottoman (and British) rule? There was never any sovereign Palestinian state on that territory. Is Fisk referring to just the West Bank or to the entire state of Israel? After all, if Palestinians owned the land under Ottoman rule then that, in Fisk’s mind, would mean that they are the rightful owners of all of the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. In addition, Jews did not steal Arab land.
- No products have been “illegally sold as the products of Israel to the EU.” The dispute with the EU concerns labeling guidelines, not actual laws against marketing products manufactured in Jewish settlements. Wherever these Israeli products come from, they have not and are not breaking any laws. Equally, Israel has not actually violated these guidelines either.
Here ends our fisking.
The Sunday Times, the Holocaust and Israel: Have the persecuted become the persecutor?
Whilst many condemned the parallels Ward and Prescott drew between Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews, the passage was compromised by another morally repellent trope – the suggestion that Jews, as a people, didn’t internalize the right lessons from the Holocaust, and have collectively forfeited any rights to sympathy by taking on the role of oppressor.
All of which brings us to an op-ed (Do the right thing – long shadow of the Holocaust demands resolve, Jan. 31) at The Sunday Times by Kevin Pringle, a Times columnist and former communications director for the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Pringle largely used his op-ed to praise education programs in Scotland’s schools by Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), but later pivoted to the creation of Israel which, he argued, became a moral imperative after the Nazi massacre of six million Jews.
Then, there was this:
After the Second World War and for many years thereafter, Israel was a cause and country supported by progressive opinion, which is hard to imagine now.
I deplore the Israeli state’s treatment of Palestinians — a tragic case of the persecuted become the persecutor — and wish to see an independent Palestine as part of a two-state solution. The suffering of Jews through history, however, gives me a sympathy for the people and state of Israel that I cannot, indeed do not want to, lose.
From Pakistan to New York, What You See and What You Don't in The New York Times
If The Times devoted over 500 words and two images to an insular ultra-Orthodox newspaper in Israel which scrubbed female world leaders from a page-three photograph, how much space would one think editors reserved for a photograph of kissing men deleted from the front-page of its very own international edition by one of its foreign partners? Eight-hundred words, plus two images on page two? Front-page coverage?
So far, The Times has said not a word about the photograph eliminated from the front-page of its very own international edition in Pakistan. Here is how the front page of The International New York Times looked Friday, courtesy of Times Cairo chief Declan Walsh:

BBC continues to mainstream extremist group
The January 31st edition of BBC One’s “moral, ethical and religious debate” programme ‘The Big Questions’ included a revival of the ‘Mossad stole my shoe’ story from last year.
The inventor of that story, Asghar Bukhari, has apparently since relocated to the UAE but the organization he previously headed – MPACUK – was represented on this BBC programme by a former assistant to the controversial ex-MP for Bradford East – who is apparently not averse to doing a bit of fund-raising for extremists in his spare time.
As readers can see in the clip from the full programme below, Raza Nadim obviously still buys into that story and unfortunately host Nicky Campbell only adds credence to the outlandish conspiracy theory.
The Nation magazine mishandles prominent Rabbi’s complaint of anti-Semitic essay
In November 2015, The Nation, a prominent progressive magazine, published an essay by controversial professor Steven Salaita which raised complaints from a prominent Rabbi that the essay crossed the line from legitimate criticism of Israeli policy to anti-Semitism.
As we noted in many prior posts, Salaita is a virulently anti-Israel academic who had a contingent offer at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign rejected in 2014. He sued and got a money settlement, but not the job. Salaita’s since become “enshrined as a symbol” in the American academy of the trouncing of academic freedom and the trampling of shared governance protocols.
Salaita’s essay in The Nation brought harsh criticism from a Professor of Jewish thought and culture:
Apparently it’s Zionism that ails the neoliberal university, along with everything else amiss in the world. You can read here his goodbye at the Nation. What reads like it was taken straight out from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the complaint that Zionism occupies the American mind and the American university expands as a logical next step on the basic view from the tweets and the book that “Zionists” are enemies of humanity, supporters of war crimes, adorn themselves with the teeth of Palestinian babies, etc, etc. Don’t be surprised when the next stage in on-campus Palestinian solidarity activism takes aim at purging U.S. academe of “Zionism,” namely Birthright, Hillel, study abroad in Israel, Israel Studies, and Jewish Studies.
The essay also prompted Rabbi Jill Jacobs, a leading voice in American Jewish Conservative circles, to write in complaint. In a Letter to the Editor sent to The Nation in November, Jacobs contended that Salaita’s article contained a series of disturbing anti-Semitic statements.
It took weeks for The Nation’s editors to reply.
Hong Kong boots anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala reportedly was expelled from Hong Kong a day after being detained there, which the French comedian blamed on “pressure by Israel.”
Dieudonne was detained Thursday, Variety reported, and his two stand-up shows scheduled for Hong Kong were canceled. His two sons, one a minor, were also detained.
Dieudonne, who has been convicted seven times in France for inciting racial hatred against Jews, posted photos of the incident on his official Facebook page. In a later post, he said he had been detained for 15 hours and blamed it on “pressure by Israel.”
He reportedly was expelled from the country early Friday morning and returned to Paris via Thailand.
US appeals court revives Holocaust suit against Hungary
A U.S. appeals court on Friday gave new life to a lawsuit by a group of Holocaust survivors seeking damages from Hungary for its role in the deaths of more than 500,000 Jews during World War II.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said a 1947 peace treaty between the Allied powers and Hungary does not give Hungarian officials immunity from the lawsuit. A federal judge had dismissed the case in 2014, saying it would conflict with the treaty’s terms.
The lawsuit filed by 14 survivors, including four living in the United States, accuses the Hungarian government and its national railway of collaborating with the Nazis to transport Jews to death camps and seize their property.
The case now returns to the lower court, which still must consider whether the case can move forward before the survivors exhaust their legal options in Hungary.
Palestinian Girl Treated at Israeli Hospital for Rare Disorder
A Palestinian girl from Nablus with a rare medical condition underwent lifesaving surgery at Rambam hospital in Haifa last week, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.
Jummana, 17, suffered from hypophosphatemia, a dangerous condition caused by low phosphate levels that led to extreme pain in her bones. Her treatment was facilitated by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Palestinian Authority, and Rambam hospital through the program “Bring the Patient, Bring the Surgeon,” which allows physicians from the West Bank or Gaza to join Palestinian patients who receive medical treatment in Israel.
Prof. Dov Tiosano, an Israeli pediatric endocrinologist, understood that Jummana’s condition was related to a newly discovered hormone called FGF23. An over-secretion of the hormone was identified as the source of the girl’s ailment. While initially it was believed that the hormonal problem was genetic, as her parents are first cousins, this was later ruled out by testing and a small tumor was discovered in the roof of her mouth. The tumor, which was “consuming massive amounts of calcium and phosphorous from Jummana’s bones,” was called rare for adults and “virtually unheard of” in a teen.
Map reveals how Israelis save lives worldwide
It is well-known that Israeli-developed products are in wide use throughout the world – but how many know that Israel also provides ongoing aid and services in dozens of countries?
The fact is that the massive Israeli aid has barely been on the map – until now. Israel21c has prepared a map showing the many locations that Israeli aid reaches, and the many different types of aid Israel provides. A hint of the extent of Israeli help throughout the world is found in the map's "table of contents," which begins as follows: Disaster Relief – 25, Medical – 20, Environment – 13. In addition, Israeli psychological help has reached nine different places, as well as education help in (at least) two more.
The most recent aid package is to South America, where Israel’s embassies in Paraguay and Uruguay are currently organizing donations of humanitarian-relief supplies for families displaced by the severe floods that have impacted tens of thousands of citizens. The two embassies have purchased, and are distributing, over $20,000 worth of emergency supplies.
Scrolling randomly down the "Disaster Relief" section of the map brings one to Myanmar, in southeast Asia. This past August, the local Israeli Embassy distributed food, medicines, mosquito nets and hygiene packs to many of the nearly 1.3 million people suffering from monsoon flooding.
For each location, the map also provides links to the country in question and to a detailed report on the Israeli aid.
Remembering Ilan Ramon 13 years after his death
In honor of Israeli space week, and the thirteenth anniversary of the Columbia explosion which killed six astronauts including Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, Israel will be holding special ceremonies throughout the week of January 31st through February 4th.
A YouTube video highlighting an interview with Ramon is making its way around social media channels as well. Ramon's interview, which begins at the one minute and fifty six second mark of the video is one of the few interviews that he did from above Israel in the Columbia space shuttle before the fatal accident that destroyed the shuttle and its crew thirteen years ago on February first.
In a special ceremony which will be attended by Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis, US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, and head of the Ramon Foundation Rona Ramon, pieces of the Columbia space shuttle which carried Ilan Ramon as well as five other astronauts before it exploded 13 years ago will be unveiled to the Israeli public. The pieces of the space shuttle are on loan from NASA and were provided at the request of Rona Ramon.
The unveiling will take place on Tuesday, February 2nd as part of the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference, which is being sponsored by the Israel Space Agency, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Fischer Institute.
Pop icon J. Lo to play Tel Aviv this summer
The Latina diva Jennifer Lopez aka J.Lo has been penciled in to play a concert this summer in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon park, the Ynet news site reported on Monday.
According to the report, Lopez, 46, agreed to the performance in recent days, marking her first concert in the Jewish state
In 2012 it was widely reported in the Israeli media that Lopez would perform at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena, but the rumored concert never took place.
In performing in Israel, J.Lo would be joining other international artists scheduled to play in Tel Aviv this summer, including Elton John, SIA, Deep Purple and Julio Iglesias.
The Collected Works of Primo Levi (BOOK REVIEW)
Primo Levi and Eli Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth.
As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I became a Jew.” His was a left wing, secular point of view. His Judaism was assimilated. I was drawn to him for his retiring personality, his modesty, and his profound sadness. Wiesel said of him that he died at Auschwitz. Most people believe that when he died in 1987, he committed suicide (although others are convinced it was an accident).
Levi’s life’s work as a writer (although he trained as a chemist) is arguably the most important literary testimony to the times. Why Wiesel won the Nobel Prize and Primo did not is another example of the inconsistency, illogicality, and perhaps prejudices of the Nobel committees.
Levi had no intention of becoming a writer. He graduated as a chemist in 1941. Excluded from working for Italian companies because of the anti-Jewish laws, he found employment with a Swiss firm. But after Mussolini’s fall and the Badoglio’s overtures to the allies, the Germans took over. Levi joined the Partizans but was captured, handed over, and together with other Italians was sent to Auschwitz in February 1944.
Israeli film takes top prize at Sundance
Sand Storm, a movie by Israeli director Elite Zexer, won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Saturday night. The movie, which is Zexer’s feature-film debut, tells the story of a Beduin woman (Ruba Blal-Asfour) forced to welcome her husband’s second wife, and how she copes with her own rebellious, educated daughter (Lamis Ammar). Haitham Omari, a former cameraman who became a star when he made his acting debut as the militia leader in Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem, plays the father.
Zexer said, when accepting her prize, “Oh my god, I‘m so nervous I’m shaking. I feel it’s been such a week of talking and talking and now that I have to say something, I’m speechless. I’m so happy it premiered here. I’m sorry my crew had to go home and not experience this with me.
I couldn’t have done this without them. I want to thank my producers who are not my producers but my family.”
The movie received positive reviews from Variety, the Hollywood Reporter and other publications. It will be distributed by Beta Films and will have its European premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.
Many Israeli films have won prizes at Sundance in the past, among them Dror Shaul’s Sweet Mud, which won the World Cinema Jury Prize Dramatic in 2007, and Yossi Madmoni’s Restoration, which won the World Cinema Dramatic Screenwriting Award for Erez Kav-El’s screenplay in 2011.

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