Wednesday, March 02, 2016

From Ian:

Honest Reporting: Denying Israel and Judaism’s Collective Memory
The Guardian features a lengthy read by author David Rieff who asks:
What if collective historical memory, as it is actually employed by communities and nations, has led far too often to war rather than peace, to rancour and resentment rather than reconciliation, and the determination to exact revenge for injuries both real and imagined, rather than to commit to the hard work of forgiveness?
What follows is an intellectual discussion on the merits or otherwise of the role of collective historical memory as used by various states and regimes throughout history. Eventually, the example of Israel appears:
Israel offers a florid illustration of how disastrously collective memory can deform a society. The settler movement routinely appeals to a version of biblical history that is as great a distortion of that history as the Islamist fantasy about the supposed continuities between the medieval kingdom of Jerusalem and the modern state of Israel. At the entrance to the settler outpost of Givat Assaf on the West Bank, a placard reads: “We have come back home.” In an interview, Benny Gal, one of the settlement’s leaders, insisted: “On this exact spot, 3,800 years ago, the land of Israel was promised to the Hebrew people.” Shani Simkovitz, the head of the settlement movement’s Gush Etzion Foundation, echoed Gal’s claim: “More than 3,000 years ago, our fathers gave us a land, which is not Rome, it is not New York, but this: the Jewish land.”
Even when it is secular, mainstream Zionist collective memory is often as mystical and as much of a manipulation of history as these views. Consider the simultaneous mythologising and politicisation of archaeology in Israel that has now reached the point where scholarship and state-building have come to seem like two sides of the same coin. Writing in 1981, the Israeli intellectual Amos Elon observed that Israeli archaeologists were “not merely digging for knowledge and objects, but for the reassurance of roots, which they find in the ancient Israelite remains scattered throughout the country”. He added: “The student of nationalism and archaeology will be tempted to take note of the apparent cathartic effects of both disciplines.”

On the contrary, it is Judaism’s extensive collective historical memory that has enabled the Jewish people to survive over thousands of years. Collective memory has not deformed society but enabled the modern state of Israel to thrive and survive precisely due to the strong national identity of its people.
Why are Palestinian Christians Fleeing?
The Palestinian Authority—the government created by the PLO to manage the West Bank and Gaza—is, by its own constitution, an Islamic state that embodies the principles of shari’a. Christians living under the PA are “accorded sanctity and respect,” but, as is the case under all shari’a-based systems, Christians are relegated to the status of second class citizens. Of course, it is illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity. Let’s not even mention the fact that sale of land to Jews is a crime punishable by death.
Discrimination against Christians under the Palestinian Authority isn’t just legal—it’s also social. Living as a Christian, one is constantly reminded that he or she is not a member of the majority culture.
Shortly after taking power in the West Bank, Yasser Arafat ensured that Bethlehem and a few other cities would always have Christian mayors. However, he also pursued policies that encouraged Muslim immigration into those same cities and thereby changed the demography from the bottom up.
I’ve spoken to numerous Palestinian Christians who describe how Muslim terrorists would commandeer Christian homes and use them to direct sniper fire on Israeli soldiers. Others speak of systematic discrimination in hiring, housing, and education. Of course, all of these conversations take place in private meetings and hushed tones. Christians in Bethlehem rarely interact with Muslims beyond the marketplace, and are, in fact, very much afraid. But in public, Palestinian Christians speak like Hanan Nasrallah—equating their situation with their Muslim neighbors and lauding the happy coexistence between the two groups.
They don’t have a choice. They are hostages inside their own city.
[The Jesuit magazine] America would have us believe that Israel is forcing Palestinian Christians to flee Bethlehem because of the wall it built to stop terrorism. In reality, Christians are fleeing for the same reason they are fleeing Iraq, Egypt, and Syria: the rise of Islamic intolerance and violence against anyone who denies the revelation of Muhammad.
Palestinian Christians don’t like the wall, it’s true. But their main problem is that they are stuck living on the wrong side of it. It is not surprising that many Palestinian Christians call for a “one state solution” that will tear down the wall and reintegrate them with the Jewish state. Until that happens, however, many are choosing to leave.
America didn’t go far enough in its analysis, stopping—like most news outlets—just soon enough to blame Israel for everything. American Christians who want to know the truth need to dig deeper, especially if they are truly concerned about the fate of their Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Hillary Emails: How to Demote AIPAC to its Proper Place
The previously secret emails of former U.S. secretary of state and current favorite to be the Democratic contender for the U.S. president Hillary Rodham Clinton are a bonanza for those seeking to discern her non-public face and those of her closest advisers with respect to Israel.
With more than 30,000 emails released, drip, drip, drip since December, 2014, there’s a lot to plow through.
But one omnipresent correspondent of Clinton’s, her former advisor Sidney Blumenthal, stands out as he harps away at two issues close to his heart: one, Israel, the object of deep hostility, and the other, his son Max, a source of immense pride. That one’s son is a source of pride to a father is neither surprising nor shameful. But most of what Blumenthal promotes about his son Max is the never-ending fusillade of hate screeds written by the son in frequently obscure outlets which are directed at the other Blumenthal obsession: Israel.
In the batch released over the weekend, several Blumenthal emails attacks on Israel stand out in particular. One offers advice to Clinton on how to make both the Jewish State and the largest American pro-Israel organization, AIPAC, bend to her will.

Trying to make sense of that ‘neutral,’ ‘totally pro-Israel’ Donald Trump
Perhaps Donald Trump’s deepest tie to the Jewish community comes from his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism in 2009 before marrying Jared Kushner.
In an interview with Vogue magazine published last year, the billionaire businessman’s daughter revealed that she observes Shabbat and keeps a kosher diet, something Trump joked about when he addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition last December, saying he could no longer contact his daughter on Saturdays.
Trump has also involved himself in Israel’s internal politics, which included him shooting a commercial in support of Netanyahu’s 2013 re-election campaign. Trump has referred to Netanyahu on multiple occasions as “a good friend.”
He also often boasts of his connections to the State of Israel, in what may be attempts to reassure his audience of his pro-Israel bona fides.
After being attacked by his opponents at the latest Republican presidential debate, Trump said: “I was the grand marshal down Fifth Avenue a number of years ago for the Israeli Day Parade, I have very close ties to Israel. I’ve received the Tree of Life Award and many of the greatest awards given by Israel.”
But Trump has also clashed repeatedly with American Jewish organizations throughout the campaign, many of whom condemned his call to temporarily ban Muslim entry to the United States and who recently urged him to repudiate the endorsement of extremists, white supremacists and noted anti-Semites, including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Farrakhan, who has a long history of anti-Semitism, recently praised Trump for his refusal to take “Jewish money.”
After Trump failed to unequivocally disavow Duke’s support and told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he didn’t “know anything” about his controversial backer, the Anti-Defamation League stepped in to help out. It released a candidates’ guide to racists.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Putin Pleased At Progress Of Plot To Install President Trump (satire)
The Terrible Republican Ugly Man for President (TRUMP) project is proceeding according to plan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his staff today on the successful completion of yet another phase in the project to undermine his country’s chief economic and political rival by causing them to elect Donald Trump as the next president.
Putin gathered his intelligence chiefs for a small toast at the Kremlin this morning to mark Trump’s victory in seven of the twelve Republican primary and caucus contests that took place across the US Tuesday, giving him more than twice the number of party delegates necessary to secure the GOP nomination this summer. He specifically commended them for their insight in predicting the Republican electorate’s response to outlandish statements by the candidate, and for their skill in manipulating that response.
“Well done, gentlemen, well done so far,” offered the president. “We know the Americans are a stupid lot, but this is the farthest we have ever come in exploiting that knowledge. Now, after seven years of Obama, that country is primed to move in any direction that signals a departure from him, no matter how irresponsible the path that candidate offers! It was a brilliant idea, gentlemen, and it appears to be enjoying success.”
Merah: The ‘Untold Story’ of a French Jihadist Icon
In light of the remarkable upsurge of homegrown Islamic terror in France, a new exposé on Mohamed Merah by French journalist Alex Jordanov could hardly be more timely. Jordanov’s book is titled Merah, l’itinéraire secret—roughly, “Merah: The Untold Story”—and it lives up to its name. The author has been able to obtain access to the contents of the police case file on Merah, including numerous documents that have never before been made public: intelligence reports, interrogations of both Merah and suspected accomplices, wiretapped phone conversations, private e-mails, letters to family members, etc. He has supplemented his documentary research with interviews of people who knew or crossed paths with Merah. He also had the opportunity to view the video from Merah’s GoPro.
The mere fact that the contents of the Merah case file are so copious is itself revealing. Merah, after all, was killed just three days after the Jewish school massacre (the last murders he would commit). He appears to have become a suspect in the murders of the paratroopers one day earlier. Thus only four days separated his identification as a suspect and his death.
But the fact of the matter is that Merah, like almost all of his above-mentioned acolytes, was the subject of an “S” file identifying him as a threat to national security. He had long been under surveillance and he was repeatedly called in for questioning by both the police and the DCRI, the French domestic intelligence agency (since re-baptized as the DGSI). Indeed, in the end, his contact with the DCRI was so regular that the question can be raised as to whether French intelligence was not in fact attempting to use Merah as a willing or unwilling informant. As will be seen below, materials in his file support this conclusion.
Jordanov’s research provides a unique window onto Merah’s life and crimes, offering important insight into his motives and the unflinching brutality of the ideology to which he subscribed. But it also reveals mind-boggling failings on the part of French counterterrorism. The story of Mohamed Merah is, in effect, that of a train wreck waiting to happen or, to paraphrase his brother Abdelghani, a ticking time bomb waiting to explode—while French intelligence looked on.
France Must Stop Funding Anti-Israel Organizations if It Wants Peace
What’s surprising about this is why Netanyahu would be baffled at this French-sponsored “peace initiative” to begin with. The absurdity of this proposal is not in the least bit surprising when you look at all the money that France has funneled into the coffers of radical left-wing Israeli organizations.
Over the past several years, France has given millions of euros to some of the most radical Israeli NGOs that stop at nothing to slander and delegitimize the state of Israel on the world stage. At the behest of their European benefactors, these foreign-agent organizations systematically aim to impose their extreme and unwanted policies on the Israeli government.
Zochrot, a recipient of French funding as recent as 2015, aims to “promote acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba,” while at the same time accusing Israel of “systematic ethnic cleansing” and “institutionalized racism.” Zochrot unabashedly calls on the world to flood Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees, which is essentially a call for the elimination of the Jewish character of the state of Israel.
The French-funded Hamoked (Center for the Defense of the Individual) accuses the IDF of committing war crimes and files judicial appeals against the destruction of the houses of terrorists, including the murderer of the Henkins, the murderer of Malachi Rosenfeld, the murderers of Danny Gonen, the murderer of Yeshayahu Krishevsky, and the murderers of Aharon Banita-Bennett and Nehemia Lavi — all of whom were killed in the recent wave of terror.
France also donates money to Breaking the Silence, whose radical anti-Israel rhetoric and involvement with nefarious human-rights violators has been widely documented. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. The unfortunate reality is that these organizations amount to a mere fraction of France’s anti-Israel bankroll.
Why BDS Still Targets SodaStream
When SodaStream moved out of the West Bank in October 2015 under pressure from BDS, 500 Palestinian employees lost their jobs. Another 74 were able to continue working at the new factory close to the southern town of Rahat, but only on temporary work permits. On Monday, those permits expired and SodaStream was forced to let its last Palestinian employees go.
Thanks to the BDS movement’s actions, close to 600 Palestinians have now lost their jobs.
BDS activists have clearly demonstrated beyond all doubt that their only goal is to harm Israel, and they don’t care one iota if that causes Palestinians to suffer. Mahmoud Nawajaa, the BDS coordinator in Ramallah, called the loss of the Palestinian jobs at SodaStream
part of the price that should be paid in the process of ending the occupation.
BDS caused irrevocable damage by costing 600 Palestinians their livelihoods, but the movement got what it wanted. BDS supporters claim they are against “the occupation,” and SodaStream has moved out of the West Bank. What more could there possibly be left for them to do now?
The boycott movement will still be targeting SodaStream as leaders claim that operating from the Negev “amounts to participation in Israel’s plans to forcibly displace at least 40,000 Palestinian Bedouins into townships,” and according to BDS leader Omar Barghouti, “colluding in the ethnic cleansing of Bedouin Palestinian citizens.” Except the Bedouins are not Palestinians, and BDS is simply hijacking their identity to fit their narrative portraying Israel as an occupier of Palestinian land.
Knesset Speaker To Address Both Houses of UK Parliament, Ignores Palestinian Objections
The Speaker of the Knesset will deliver a rare address to members of both houses of the British Parliament during a UK visit this week, sparking an angry response from pro-Palestinian activists as he vowed to “tell the truth about Israel”.
Likud MK Yuli Edelstein will speak to around 100 MPs and peers as part of a visit which will also include meetings with senior politicians, the media and the Jewish community. His trip comes as Jews across Britain and indeed Europe face increasing hostility in the form of violent anti-Semitic acts, as Breitbart Jerusalem has reported.
Mr. Edelstein has been Speaker of Israel’s Parliament since 2013. He previously served as minister of immigrant absorption and diaspora affairs minister. Born in the former Soviet Union, he spent three years in jail after being arrested for his faith and was one of the last refusniks to be freed.
Mr. Edelstein will speak with members of the House of Lords and House of Commons at an event organized by the British Inter-Parliamentary Union and thereby become the first Israeli Knesset speaker to appear before the “Mother of Parliaments.”
In an interview with i24news, Mr. Edelstein stressed the importance of his visit, saying that “we have ongoing relations with Britain, less so with the British Parliament. And I think that we have to improve the bilateral cooperation with the British Parliament because it’s just not doable to leave Britain as hostages of BDS and all these small and vocal groups.”
“We have to tell them the truth about Israel and I’m going to do so,” he added.
Anti-Israel slogans splashed on UK Parliament ahead of Edelstein speech
Anti-Israel activists in London projected written messages on the building housing the British Parliament late Tuesday night, accusing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of being a "racist leader" and calling to boycott and arrest him ahead of his scheduled address Wednesday to the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
A video showing the massive text projections on a wall of the Palace of Westminster also featured a number of demonstrators holding Palestinian flags inscribed with the phrase "boycott Israel."
"Arrest illegal occupier Edelstein," read one of the slogans cast upon the iconic London structure.
Other projections on the meeting place of both houses of the UK Parliament included: "Edelstein Israel's apartheid speaker - out!" and "Israel's racist leader Edelstein not welcome."
In response, Edelstein said he would remain defiant in the face of Israel's detractors despite the incident.
Another big legal loss for BDS, this time in Spain
Opponents of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (“BDS”) campaign against Israel won a significant tactical victory in hostile territory last month.
In January, the city of Aviles, Spain – just inland of the Bay of Biscay on the northern shore of the Iberian Peninsula – passed a resolution adopting BDS. The Association for Action and Communication in the Middle East (“ACOM”) a pro-Israel organization based in Madrid, filed a discrimination suit against the municipality.
According to the Spanish-language El Commercio, in late February the city voted to rescind the BDS resolution, apparently as part of a settlement in the ACOM suit. Google’s translator function is passable:
Action Association and Communication in the Middle East (ACOM), which aims to improve all kinds of relations between Spain and Israel, hailed yesterday’s decision of the City of Aviles to withdraw the boycott of Israeli products after the plenary session on Saturday approved, with the votes of PSOE, PP and Citizens, the annulment of the declaration last January 21 the Consistory incorporated Aviles to BDS Network (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against colonization, apartheid and Israeli occupation Palestine.
The municipal decision comes after ACOM initiate legal proceedings against the City Council, considering that the declaration failed to comply with principles such as equal treatment which includes the Public Contracts Act or the right of individuals not to be discriminated against, the freedom of expression and the right not to disclose national origin or religion, among others.
Berkeley SJP: Blocking Traffic for Peace, Love and Understanding
You may want to avoid downtown Berkeley on Wednesday, March 9. If you need to go to a doctors appointment, or you need to pick up a youngster at childcare, you may want to chose a different route. UC Berkeley's Students for Just Us in Palestine is taking their message of hate and intolerance to the streets
From SJP:
We are dying-in and marching in solidarity with all Palestinians subjected to Israeli violence. Our action seeks to represent visually the people who have shed blood and tears at Israel's hands in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, in Gaza, and worldwide
We will convene at 2 at a location TBD between UC Berkeley campus and the downtown Berkeley BART station. Participants should be wearing a red shirt.
Once organized we will take up our initial positions at an intersection in downtown Berkeley. At a predetermined signal, designated protesters walk into the intersection. At another signal, designated protesters will drop to the ground and one participant will briefly speak explaining our purpose. We will then march to a second intersection on campus where we will repeat the die-in. We will be chanting slogans and rallying through campus. Everyone is encouraged to march with us as a singular unit toward our second location.
It’s Anti-Apartheid Week in the U.K.!
At the campaign flagship event at University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), pins reading “stop arming Israel” and matchboxes with the pound sterling symbol on the backdrop of a bloodied hand grenade were spread out across a table for the taking. On the podium, Palestinian activist and poet Rafeef Ziadah was gloating as she addressed the vocal Israeli indignation over the tube campaign. “The Israeli state thinks we’ve received money to pay for this, but we’re all just volunteers,” she boasted.
Much of the literature handed out focused on British security company G4S. According to War on Want, a British nonprofit that advocates for an arms embargo on Israel alongside its struggle to eradicate global poverty, the company provides equipment and services to five Israeli prisons where “political prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture.”
The keynote speaker at the gathering was Steven Salaita, a professor of Native American Studies whose appointment at the University of Illinois was revoked in 2014 following the exposure of tweets where he blasted the “smugness,” “greed,” and “violence” of Israelis, expressing hope that “all the f****g West Bank settlers would go missing” after the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas.
Israel’s raison d’etre, Salaita told the SOAS audience of mostly Middle Eastern students, was “to halt Palestinian life at its inception.”
“Israel’s mere presence is a continued act of violence,” he declared, to loud cheers.
But despite the somewhat feigned enthusiasm in the hall, doubt about the utility of BDS seeped in during the Q&A. Even as grassroots activists were pushing for boycotts of Israeli products, one frustrated student noted, trade between Israel and Britain has doubled in recent years. Anti-Israel resolutions passed by student unions were being shot down one after the other by university administrations. “Are boycotts enough?” he asked the panel on stage. “What else do you think we can do?”

George Galloway attacks London mayoral rival over anti-BDS stance
British Labour MP and London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan came out against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in an interview last week, stating that he does not endorse such actions against the Jewish state.
Speaking with the London-based Internet publication Jewish News Online on Febuary 24, Kahn, 46, said that he was unequivocally opposed to the BDS movement, commenting: “I have consistently made absolutely clear that I do not support boycotts, sanctions or divestment of Israel."
"We won’t achieve peace by turning our faces against Israel,” Kahn added.
On Monday, however, Kahn had removed retweets of the Jewish News Online story from his Twitter page after receiving a wave of negative reactions from Israel critics.
Joining the detractors was long-time anti-Israel former British MP George Galloway, who said Khan's statements were "“a new low and should bring him only opprobrium and contempt.”
Calls For Young Labour To Be Suspended Over Anti-Semitism And Bullying Claims
Pressure is piling on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the party’s youth wing after a series of revelations and claims over bullying tactics used to control young members, and anti-Semitism.
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South Tom Blenkinsop is leading calls to suspend the youth politics and campaigning group following allegations over the weekend regarding bullying by union members towards youth activists. Breitbart London reported on the accusations during the Young Labour conference, which revolved around a young member of Welsh Labour being intimidated into showing his ballot paper to a Unite union official.
Posting a screenshot of a phone conversation to Twitter, Zac Harvey exposed the harassing remarks of 24 year old shop steward Charlotte Upton who apparently wrote:
“Not acceptable Zac we need to see your ballot paper to ensure you follow mandate as I have done with every other delegate at the very least I need you to send me a picture of your UNITE ballot paper with James Elliot Selected”.
The young man claimed he was chased, harassed, and even followed into a toilet by UNITE members who wanted to check his ballot paper. another delegate at the conference said the young man was forced out of his hotel by the behaviour, which left him feeling “unsafe”. Others reported being referred to as “Blairite nonces”, presumably by Corbynite union delegates.
40 Columbia professors sign BDS petition
Forty Columbia University faculty members have signed a petition urging the New York school to divest from companies that “supply, perpetuate, and profit from a system that has subjugated the Palestinian people.”
The petition was released Monday morning to mark the first day of Israel Apartheid Week, the Columbia Spectator reported.
According to the petition, the signatories “stand with Columbia University Apartheid Divest, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine as well as with Jewish Voice for Peace in calling upon the University to take a moral stance against Israel’s violence in all its forms.”
They include Rashid Khalidi, a history and Middle Eastern studies professor who has been a longtime critic of Israel and supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel; Joseph Massad, a critic of Israel who has been accused of being anti-Semitic, and Nadia Abu El-Haj, an anthropology professor who received tenure in 2007 following a heated battle over the merits of her work, particularly a book that accuses Israel of manipulating archaeological findings to legitimize its existence.

German BDS group confirms bank closed its account
The hardcore BDS-Kampagne (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign) announced on its website that the French-German DAB Bank in Munich will terminate its account on April 14.
In what is widely considered a victory for the anti- BDS position in Germany, the BDS-Kampagne wrote on Monday, “The DAB Bank, in fact, canceled the account as of April 14.”
German law allows a grace period from the notification of the closure to permit the account holder to wind down the group’s transactions.
In an exclusive, The Jerusalem Post reported on the closure of DAB Bank account in February.
Dr. Jürgen Eikenbusch, the spokesman for DAB Bank Munich, told the Post at the time: “Because of bank secrecy [financial laws] we cannot provide you with concrete information about the account. We took the information very seriously and are examining the topic and are taking, if necessary, the corresponding measures.”
DAB is owned by French banking giant BNP Paribas.
University of Missouri probes 'Hitler rules' on dorm poster
The University of Missouri is investigating anti-Semitic vandalism in which "Hitler rules" was written on a dormitory poster, officials said on Tuesday, in the latest racial incident at the school.
The defaced poster was found at a residence hall. Campus police and the university's civil rights office were investigating, interim Chancellor Henry Foley said in a statement.
"We are angry to hear about yet another anti-Semitic incident in one of our residence halls over the weekend. This type of vandalism attacks everyone," he said.
The Jewish Student Organization said in a statement that it was the fourth incident of Nazi symbolism in a year.
Construction crew unearths bones at site of former Nazi camp
A construction crew unearthed bones at the site of the former Nazi concentration camp in Plaszow, near Krakow.
The workers were repairing a decades-old gas pipeline on the property last week adjacent to the former funeral home of a Jewish cemetery on which the camp was established during World War II.
The Jewish community of Krakow, which officially owns the property, was not informed of the plans to repair the pipeline, its president said.
“All the former Plaszow camp area is a cemetery,” Tadeusz Jakubowicz said in an interview with the Dziennik Polski newspaper. “Also, this area is listed on the register of national historic monuments.”
Krakow police are investigating the incident. Police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka told reporters on Tuesday that the bones were sent for forensic tests to determine if they are human.
Plaszow was erected on the grounds of two Jewish cemeteries. Its commander, Amon Goth, was known for his sadistic treatment of prisoners.
European rabbis given self defense course at Berlin conference
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Head of the Center for European Rabbis, opened the Conference of European Rabbis in Berlin in a surprising manner on Wednesday.
"Everyone, pick up a dummy knife so that we can simulate assaults," he said. "It is important that the Jewish communities of Europe view their rabbis as examples, that they know how to protect themselves."
The library of the Berlin Chabad House was cleared of tables for the event. Instead of studying Torah, 150 rabbis gathered to undergo a course in self-defense. According to them, they simply had no choice.
"The message we're trying to convey," Margolin explained, "is that we won't cut back on security in the Jewish communities of Europe. But rather, we are expanding it."
"You guys aren't used to this sort of activity, but we'll show them that we're not weak," said Lior Inbar, who was leading the workshop. "If someone tries to steal your wallet, give it to them. The point here is to learn how to cope with anti-Semitism."
India’s third-biggest firm shops Israel for innovative tech
Aditya Birla, India’s third-largest conglomerate, is a name not well-known in Israel – certainly not as well-known as Tata Group and Infosys. But Aditya Birla is likely to become a household name, at least in the Israeli start-up space, following the company’s announcement that it is on the lookout for Israeli firms to invest in.
The company dispatched its number two man – Dev Bhattacharya, Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development – to review as many as 500 Israeli start-ups in a wide variety of technology areas. The best ones in their fields will be invited to go to India, all expenses paid, to show off their technology to the conglomerate’s member companies and subsidiaries and apply for funding to continue developing their ideas.
Accompanying Bhattacharya, who visited Israel earlier in February, were several top executives in the company, including directors of three of its largest units, who reviewed companies in areas like cleantech, cyber-security, financial technology, water tech, new media, and more.
All those areas interest Aditya Birla, as the company, valued at some $41 billion, has interests in almost every sector of the Indian economy as well as abroad. It has more than 120,000 employees in 40 countries. Aditya Birla operates in both the old and new economies, working in everything from cement to fibers to fertilizers and chemicals, to financial services, telecom, and IT services. The company is either the market leader or close to it in all these areas, and the addition of Israeli technology, it believes, will give it an edge over the competition.
Israeli Company Raises $4 Million to Develop Adaptable Eyeglasses
DeepOptics, a pioneer of dynamic focal glasses, has raised $4 million in Series A funding toward the development of its proprietary technology designed to streamline vision for the two billion people requiring multifocal vision correction.
As reported by ISRAEL21c last October, DeepOptics seeks to disrupt the multibillion-dollar multifocal market with its patent-pending electronic Omnifocals.
The eyeglasses consist of two layers: a regular static lens for far vision and a pixelated dynamic liquid-crystal lens for near and intermediate vision. The electronic pixelated lens constantly adjusts viewing distance based on data processed in the frame from two hidden sensors tracking the wearer’s line of sight.
DeepOptics, based in Petah Tikva, was named the most promising start-up at the sixth annual Israel Machine Vision Conference and Exhibition in 2015.
Israeli team chalks up breakthrough in hydrogen energy
Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have recently made a significant breakthrough in alternative energy production, reaching perfect photon-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency.
Splitting water for energy production is a two-step process, divided into reduction and oxidation. In a paper published in the scientific journal Nano Letters, researchers Lilac Amirav, Philip Kalisman, and Yifat Nakibli explained they were able to perform the reduction phase with 100% efficiency, a sharp increase from the previous record of 60% for hydrogen production with visible light. Future research should focus on the oxidation phase, to realize practical overall water splitting, they said.
"Our work shows that it is possible to obtain perfect, 100% photon-to-hydrogen production efficiency, under visible light illumination, for the photocatalytic water splitting reduction half-reaction. These results shatter the previous benchmarks for all systems, and leave little to no room for improvement for this particular half-reaction. With a stable system and a turnover frequency of 360,000 moles of hydrogen per hour per mole of catalyst, the potential here is real," Amirav said in the paper.
Drought-ravaged villagers to receive Israeli aid
Since last fall, millions in Papua New Guinea have suffered the ravages of a catastrophic drought that has wiped out crops and left villagers in the highlands desperate for drinking water.
Brought on by the hot El Nino winds, the drought is the most severe the island nation has experience in years and is expected to last up to 10 months.
Farmers have been devastated and villagers living in higher altitudes have been forced to eat clay to stave off starvation, The Guardian reports. Water-borne diseases have spread as locals been forced to rely on alternative sources of water.
In the midst of this disaster, residents are set to receive relief from halfway across the globe.
On Monday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced the donation of a state-of-the-art mobile water purification unit to Papua New Guinea. At an event held outside of the Foreign Ministry's office in Jerusalem, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced the purchase of the mobile water purification unit and Israel's plans to ship to Papua New Guinea as a donation to help curb the effects of the drought.
Hebrew U ‘ice tech’ could end organ transplant shortage
For many heart, kidney, and liver patients, a transplant is the only viable solution to keep them alive. But the odds of finding a compatible donor are pretty slim: about one in ten, according to the World Health Organization.
Doctors would have a much easier time saving the other 90 percent of transplant candidates if they could find what they need in an organ bank.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to preserve organs long-term. But thanks to research at Hebrew University, there soon may be.
“The ability to freeze organs and to then thaw them without causing damage to the organ itself would be revolutionary in terms of our chances to save lives,” according Prof. Ido Braslavsky of the Hebrew University Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
1,600-year-old wine press found in old Jerusalem army base
An ancient wine press likely dating from Roman times was uncovered within the grounds of a disused IDF military base in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiques Authority said on Wednesday.
The IAA excavated the former Schneller base ahead of the construction of residential buildings on the site for the capital’s ultra-Orthodox community.
Various discoveries were made during the dig, including a large winery from either the Roman or Byzantine period, around 1,600 years ago. Archaeologists found a white mosaic surface surrounding a pit that was part of the wine press used to extract juice from grapes.
Eight cells around the press were used to store grapes and possibly to blend wine, the IAA said. Investigators suggested the press was part of a large manor house whose residents may have sold the wine.
“Once again, Jerusalem demonstrates that wherever one turns over a stone, ancient artifacts will be found related to the city’s glorious past,” said archaeologist Alex Wiegmann, excavation director on behalf of the IAA. “The archaeological finds discovered here help paint a living, vibrant and dynamic picture of Jerusalem as it was in ancient times up until the modern era.”

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