Saturday, April 08, 2017

From Ian:

Eli Lake: Thank Trump for Enforcing Obama's 'Red Line' in Syria
Samantha Power should send a thank-you note to Donald Trump. Power made her reputation as the author of "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide." It persuasively argued that the U.S. has a special responsibility to protect potential victims of genocide.
Barack Obama liked the book so much, he made Power his foreign policy tutor when he was still a senator. He brought her to his White House after he won the presidency and made her his ambassador to the United Nations in his second term.
In a cruel irony, Power's warnings were ignored by her former pupil when Syria's dictator, Bashar al-Assad, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own citizens. She remained in her job. She gave powerful speeches. On the inside she pressed the president to do something about the mass killings. But Obama declined. He never enforced the "red line" he articulated in 2012, on chemical weapons in Syria.
But on Thursday, Trump did. He ordered 59 Tomahawk missiles to be launched at the al-Shayrat airfield in Syria, the base from where Syria launched a horrific sarin gas attack earlier this week.
The critics and proponents of intervention in Syria have already started reciting their talking points, but it's worth pausing for a moment.
Douglas Murray: Berlin, Westminster, now Stockholm. On and on it goes
So this time it is Stockholm. And I am tempted simply to write ‘copy’, ‘paste’ and ‘repeat’ with links to my recent piece on the Westminster attack. Which in turn referenced my piece on the Brussels attack. Which itself was a re-run of my piece on one of the Paris attacks. And so on and on it goes.
If there is nothing new to say it is because nobody has anything new to learn. On Wednesday of this week, two weeks to the day after Khalid Masood ploughed a car into the crowds on Westminster Bridge and stabbed PC Keith Palmer to death inside the gates of the Houses of Parliament, what was billed as a ‘Service of Hope’ took place in Westminster Abbey. One hopes that it consoled those injured and mourning. But the tone of the sermon by the Dean of Westminster suggested that the word ‘blind’ should perhaps have been put in before ‘hope’.
In the sermon at the inter-faith service the Very Reverend John Hall said that Khalid Masood’s attack had left the nation ‘bewildered’. He went on to ask:
‘What could possibly motivate a man to hire a car and take it from Birmingham to Brighton to London, and then drive it fast at people he had never met, couldn’t possibly know, against whom he had no personal grudge, no reason to hate them and then run at the gates of the Palace of Westminster to cause another death? It seems likely that we shall never know.’

Indeed. ‘Bewildered and hopeful’ is as good an epitaph as anyone has come up with for this age. A fortnight ago it was London. This week it was Stockholm. Next week it will be somewhere else. I imagine there will be a little less giggling about Donald Trump this time, but other than that there will be no change from the now traditional procedures.
And so on and on it goes, with nothing new to learn. And all the time insisting on the need to seize ‘hope’ out of every bewildered moment.
Sweden identifies truck terror attack suspect as Uzbek native, 39
The suspect in Stockholm’s deadly beer truck terror attack is a 39-year-old native of Uzbekistan who had been on authorities’ radar previously, Swedish authorities said Saturday. The prime minister urged citizens to “get through this” and strolled through the streets of the capital to chat with residents.
Swedes flew flags at half-staff Saturday to commemorate the four people killed and 15 wounded when the hijacked truck plowed into a crowd of shoppers Friday afternoon in Stockholm. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven declared Monday a national day of mourning, with a minute of silence at noon.
Sweden’s police chief said authorities were confident they had detained the man who carried out the attack.
“There is nothing that tells us that we have the wrong person,” Dan Eliason told a news conference Saturday, but added he did not know whether others were involved in the attack. “We cannot exclude this.”
Eliason also said police found something in the truck that “could be a bomb or an incendiary object, we are still investigating it.”

Same Day Terror Strikes Sweden, Sweden Disputes International Legality of US Strike on Syrian Terrorists
At an emergency session of the Security Council held on the same day that a terror attack in Stockholm left at least three dead, Sweden chided the United States for using military force to end the Assad regime's impunity for terrorizing Syrians. During the April 7, 2017, meeting to discuss Syria's deadly chemical weapons attack on April 4, 2017, Sweden's ambassador to the UN, Olof Skoog, said the following:
"With regard to the US air strike last night in response to the 04 April attack. It is important that action is based on international law. Last night's missile attack also raises questions of compatibility with international law. As the Secretary-General has said, restraint is important to avoid any risk of escalation."
Nikki Haley: US prepared to do more in Syria, but hopes it won’t be necessary
The United States on Friday threatened to take further military action in Syria following its missile strikes on an air base in the war-ravaged country in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack.
“The United States took a very measured step last night,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council.
“We are prepared to do more, but we hope it will not be necessary,” she said.
The Security Council was meeting in an emergency session to discuss the US actions in Syria that Russia branded a “flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression” against Syria.
Haley said the US insisted that the meeting be held in the open so that “any country that chooses to defend the atrocities of the Syrian regime will have to do in full public view, for all the world to hear.”
Haley said the air strikes destroyed the air field from which the United States believes the chemical attacks on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun were launched.
“We were fully justified in doing so,” she said.

Nikki Haley: Countries Who Wish to Defend Assad Will Do So ‘In Full Public View’
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley released a statement Friday addressing Bolivia's request for a closed door emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the events in Syria. Haley decided the meeting would be held "in the open."
"This morning, Bolivia requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the events in Syria. It asked for the discussion to be held in closed session," the statement begins, before stating the session would be held in the open.
"The United States, as president of the Council this month, decided the session would be held in the open," Haley's comments continue. "Any country that chooses to defend the atrocities of the Syrian regime will have to do so in full public view, for all the world to hear."
Changing perceptions between countries at war, Israel treats thousands of wounded Syrians
Seven wounded Syrians — two children, four women and a man — waited in pain for darkness to fall to cross into enemy territory. Under the faint moonlight, Israeli military medical corps quickly whisked the patients across the hostile frontier into armored ambulances headed to hospitals for intensive care.
It was a scene that has recurred since 2013, when the Israeli military began treating Syrian civilians wounded in fighting just a few kilometers (miles) away. Israel says it has quietly treated 3,000 patients — a number that it expects to quickly grow as fighting heats up in neighboring Syria in the wake of a chemical attack and, in response, an unprecedented US missile strike.
While the numbers are a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded in the six-year Syrian war, both doctors and patients say the program has changed perceptions and helped ease tensions across the hostile border.
Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center in the northern city of Safed, is a former colonel in the medical corps who served on the Syrian border.
He said he “couldn’t then have imagined setting up a humanitarian program for Syrians” Now his hospital has delivered 19 Syrian babies and sends prescriptions with patients back into Syria.
“All this makes it more human, more complicated,” Zarka said, adding that he worries about patients he knows on a first name-basis who have returned to Syria.
Israeli teen hit in back, lightly hurt by gunfire from Syria
An Israeli teenager was lightly wounded by gunfire in the Golan Heights on Thursday, the army said, apparently as a result of spillover from the Syrian civil war.
On Thursday, IDF troops and police were called to the area of Alonei Habashan, a moshav in the eastern Golan Heights, with reports that a rock exploded after it was heated up by a camping stove, the army said.
The Israeli girl complained of pains and was taken to a doctor, but her initial check did not reveal anything out of the ordinary.
On Friday, the teenager returned to the hospital, where doctors found the bullet in her back, the army said.
Likely due to the considerable distance from Syria, the bullet only caused light injuries.
US missile strike reverberates on Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry
The stunning US missile strike in Syria gives a boost to American-allied Saudi Arabia and moderate Sunni regimes in their struggle for regional primacy with Iran, a close ally of the Russian-backed Assad regime, which has now suffered a setback.
A jubilant Riyadh on Friday wasted no time in voicing its "full support" for the strikes, praising the "courageous decision" to undertake them by US President Donald Trump and saying the Assad regime bore responsibility for eliciting the US action with a chemical weapons attack Tuesday, according to a statement by the SPA state news agency that was cited by Reuters.
Iran, by contrast, said it "strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes," the Students News Agency ISNA quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.
"Such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria and will complicate the situation in Syria and the region," the spokesman said.
The comments came after two US warships fired dozens of cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean at an airbase controlled by Assad's forces in response to the poison gas attack in a rebel-held area Tuesday, US officials said.
Democratic Rep Who Took Secret Trip to Syria Condemns Trump’s Military Strike
Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), who in January went on a secret trip to Syria and met with the country's leader, Bashar al-Assad, condemned U.S. military strikes against a Syrian government airbase in a statement late Thursday, claiming President Trump "acted recklessly."
"It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government," Gabbard said. "This administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning."
The U.S. military on Thursday night fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea at a Syrian government airbase in Homs, killing at least six people. The strikes were in response to Tuesday's chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province in northern Syria, where more than 100 noncombatants were killed, including children.
The Trump administration has said the Assad regime was behind the attack, which was launched from the base the U.S. military targeted.
Gabbard was quick to condemn the assault and said an investigation needs to be conducted to see who was responsible for the gas attack, despite the U.S. government and many analysts saying Assad was behind it.
Gabbard has been an outspoken critic of America's Syria policy for years, arguing Washington should work with Assad to bring stability to the country. She has come under fire for taking an undisclosed "fact-finding trip" to Syria, where she met with Assad in January.
Protesting US airstrikes, Syrians chant ‘death to Israel’
Dozens of Syrian students on Saturday gathered outside the offices of the United Nations in Damascus to protest a US missile attack on an air base.
The protesters held banners and chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
One of the banners they carried read: “The Iraqi scenario will not be repeated in Syria.” They were referring to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq after Washington accused Saddam Hussein of hiding weapons of mass destruction — a belief that later turned out to be incorrect.
University student Ashraf Fadel said he came to denounce “the unjust American aggression against Syria.” He added that the UN was “created to support America instead of serving the wronged people.”
Russia Freezes Military Coordination With US in Syria
Russia reacted to U.S. military strikes on its ally Syria Friday by cutting a hotline intended to prevent midair incidents, a response that demonstrates Moscow's readiness to defy Washington and could even put the two nuclear superpowers on a course toward military confrontation.
President Vladimir Putin signaled he was ready to risk a clash with the U.S. and abandon hopes for mending ties with the U.S. under President Donald Trump, rather than accept the humiliation of standing by while his ally is bombed.
Russia's decision to suspend the hotline established after the launch of the Russian air campaign in Syria in September 2015 effectively means that Russian and U.S. planes could fly dangerously close to each other during combat missions, raising the risk of inadvertent or deliberate clashes in the crowded skies over Syria.
By freezing the information channel between the two potent militaries, Russia is signaling to Washington that it will tolerate no further strikes on Syrian government facilities.
Iran's Rouhani condemns US missile strike as an act of aggression
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Saturday for an impartial probe of this week's suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria and warned that US missile strikes in response risked escalating extremism in the region.
"We are asking for an impartial international fact-finding body to be set up... to find out where these chemical weapons came from," Rouhani said during a speech on Saturday.
Tehran is Syrian President Bashar Assad's main regional ally and has provided military and economic support for his fight against rebel groups and Islamic State militants.
While the Syrian opposition applauded the US cruise missile attack on an air base near Homs on Friday, it said it should not be a one-off and was not enough on its own to stop government warplanes from hitting rebel-held areas.
However, in a tweet about the missile strikes, Rouhani said: "I call on the world to reject such policies, which bring only destruction and danger to the region and the globe."
"US aggression against Shayrat (air base) strengthens regional extremism and terror, and global lawlessness and instability, and must be condemned," Rouhani said.
Fatal dissent: When a Hezbollah commander argued with Iran
Much has been said and written about Iran’s intended entrenchment in Syria and the way Tehran is investing extraordinary human and financial resources to help President Bashar Assad survive. Still, the story of the assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, the head of Hezbollah’s military wing, illustrates with rare clarity the determination on the part of Iran and Hezbollah not to let anyone interfere with Iran’s plans in Syria.
Badreddine, the successor and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh (who was married to Badreddine’s sister, Sa’ada), was killed last May, in a mysterious explosion near Damascus International Airport. Surprisingly, Hezbollah and its allies cleared Israel of any blame. Hezbollah officials said at the time that the circumstances of the assassination were being investigated.
This assassination could have caused an enormous commotion throughout the Middle East. Badreddine, after all, was second only to Hassan Nasrallah in the Hezbollah hierarchy, and was the successor of Mughniyeh, who had been wanted all over the world for the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Yet the entire topic disappeared from the Syrian and Lebanese agenda within days. The assassination remained a mystery.

UN Security Council on Syria: ‘All Verbs on the Table’ Following Chemical Attack (saitre)

Following the US response to this week’s chemical attack in Syria, the United Nations has urged restraint on the part of all parties saying, “We have not exhausted all the possible words in the dictionary”.
Representatives from members of the Security Council and General Assembly were threatening to draft a resolution expressing extreme consternation, bewilderment, and even outright stupefaction over the attack that killed over 100 civilians with sarin gas. Documents obtained by The Mideast Beast have shown memos indicating that there are some willing to go all the way to Z in the dictionary to express just how bad they feel the situation in Syria has become.
The Russian delegation has countered by stating, until more is known about the events in Syria, it would be irresponsible of the Council to reach too far into a thesaurus.
Tensions during the meeting of the Security Council were running high, only breaking once into fits of hysterical laughter after it was recommended that UN peacekeepers be deployed to the region. The session was returned to order after the chair of the meeting said: “but seriously people”.
The meeting adjourned with a decision to draft a resolution on the possibility that, at an indeterminate time in the future, the council would consider condemning Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as a dick.
Middle East: A Shift from Revolution to Evolution
The lesson the Trump administration might learn from the disastrous mistakes of its predecessor is that the main sources of terrorism in the region are political Islam and all its related religious groups. All these radical groups, including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hamas have been spawned by a political Islam driven by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The fight, therefore, should not be against Islam, but against political Islam. Islam needs to be practiced the way other religions are, as a private personal faith that should be kept separate from public life and politics, and whose expression should be confined to worship only.
Mosques, whether in the Arab and Muslim world or in the West, should be places of worship only and must not transformed to centers for polarizing society or for recruitment by political religious groups.
Analysis: How the king of Jordan brought the Middle East to Trump
“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you,” Soviet leader Leon Trotsky is reputed to have said. US President Donald Trump, who expressed little interest in foreign policy before his inauguration, has since experienced this truth.
During a debate with Hillary Clinton last October, Trump rambled on about Syria. Aleppo was a disaster and humanitarian nightmare, he said, but it had fallen. President Bashar Assad had “turned out to be a lot tougher than she thought,” he asserted, claiming Clinton had erred in thinking the regime could be toppled. The rebels were a disaster, “because we’re backing rebels. We don’t know who the rebels are... but if they did overthrow Assad, you might end up with – as bad as Assad is and he’s a bad guy – but you may very well end up with worse than Assad.”
When Trump was sworn in, there were fears among Middle Eastern leaders that his brash and spur-of-the-moment personality would lead him to act the way he spoke. King Abdullah of Jordan was particularly concerned about Trump’s plan to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In January, he was the first foreign leader to rush to Washington for a meeting. An official told Reuters he planned to press Trump to keep up the fight against Islamic State and “secure resources to help ensure the insurgents would not be allowed to move toward our borders.”
The kingdom has taken in one million refugees from Syria and its economy is in tatters because of it. Aside from that, there is a risk that extremism will grow among the refugees. It fears political upheaval over an embassy move among its Palestinian citizens and it fears that if Assad wins the Syrian civil war more refugees will pour in. In 2015, the US boosted aid to Jordan to $1 billion to help it pay for refugees, and in 2016 that amount jumped to $1.6b. to boost its security and economy.
With Nikki Haley, Israel Sees the Light at End of the Tunnel on UN Bias
Despite partly owing its existence to the United Nations, Israel has experienced decades of bias from an institution whose stated mission includes trying to ensure international goodwill and world peace. But the nascent Trump administration, under the leadership of Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, is trying to chart a new course for the world body when it comes to Israel.
During her speech at the recent AIPAC policy conference, Haley described herself as the UN’s “new sheriff in town,” and declared “the days of Israel-bashing are over.”
“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick ’em every single time,” Haley said, earning loud applause.
The new envoy’s bold comments might be more than talk. The Israeli government claims that it is already witnessing Haley’s positive influence in the international arena.
“Ambassador Haley and the Trump administration have changed the rules of the game at the UN, and the results have reverberated throughout the organization,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told “We intend to implement real and palpable change together with our friends at the American Mission.”
Petition to recognise Jewish history
Demand the UN recognise Jewish History in Jerusalem
The Israel Project has launched a petition against attempts in the UN to deny Israel’s rights to any part of Jerusalem. This includes that part of Jerusalem that was in Israeli hands after 1948 and Jewish long before.There’s an all-out campaign against Israel at the UN.
The UN’s campaign of hate against Israel has reached a new level. A draft resolution circulating denies Israel’s right to any part of Jerusalem.
Other resolutions have suggested that the Jews’ most holy site, the Western Wall, is not in Israel, that the Old City of Jerusalem is a “settlement,” and the Palestinians are the lawful rulers of Jerusalem’s holy sites. UNESCO, the UN body that governs World Heritage Sites, passed a resolution acknowledging only Islamic history of the Temple Mount – referring to the site only as “Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif” and ignoring any Jewish history at the sacred site.
Make no mistake, Israel’s enemies are waging a diplomatic war against the Jewish state at the UN. These actions could undermine Israel’s connection to Jerusalem and fundamental right to exist.
If we don’t act now, Judaism could lose its place at its most sacred site, Israel’s standing could be in danger and so could freedom of religion in Jerusalem. In the face of this travesty, we must stand up for Israel.
UN Mideast envoy urges Palestinian unity amid Gaza pay cut protests
The United Nations envoy for the Middle East on Saturday called for Palestinian political unity amid fresh protests against civil service pay cuts in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement, Nickolay Mladenov expressed “deep concern by the growing tensions” in the Palestinian territory, and called on the Hamas leadership to allow its West Bank-based rival government, the Palestinian Authority, to “assume its responsibility in Gaza.”
“I am deeply concerned by the growing tensions in Gaza,” he said. “While the Palestinian Government needs to ensure its fiscal sustainability under increasingly difficult economic conditions, it is important that reforms or decisions to reduce expenditures are fairly distributed and made with consideration to the harsh conditions under which people in Gaza live.”
Mladenov said Gaza is “an integral part of the future Palestinian state and no efforts should be spared to bring about real national reconciliation that ends the division.”
UN Secretary-General Shills for UNRWA Despite its Ties to Hamas
In a new report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres showers praise on and seeks additional funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) - while ignoring UNRWA's ties to Hamas and promotion of extremism. The report on "Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East," which was distributed on April 6, 2017, fails to mention Hamas at all or to acknowledge that UNRWA schools were used to store rockets to fire against Israel during the 2014 Gaza War.
In the words of the report:
"5...Between 13 February and 9 March, 54 Member States, intergovernmental bodies and international financial institutions were consulted in bilateral and multilateral settings and in written format.
15... An overarching theme was the indispensable role that UNRWA plays and its essential function on account of its impact in the context of the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict. The Agency was described as 'unique' and 'special', and its contribution to political stability in a region experiencing significant volatility was highlighted by a broad cross section of Member States...
17. Other features of the Agency that were highlighted included its mitigation of extremism, its stabilizing influence and its contribution to peace and security in the Middle East region...
44. upon Member States:
(a) To provide greater financial support through voluntary contributions to UNRWA..."
UN Tries to Silence Editor's Reporting on UN Scandals By Seeking Criminal Charges Against Him
"The United Nations war on the free press and whistleblowers continues to escalate. After a UN 'court' tried to put a journalist in jail, among other brazen attacks on media freedom, a UN agency is now abusing the Italian legal system to pursue criminal charges and crippling damages against a local newspaper and its editor. The supposed 'crime': allegedly damaging the reputation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) through articles exposing corruption, lawlessness, cronyism, and nepotism within the Rome-based UN agency. It is hardly the first time the UN has sought to silence the press.
The scandal-plagued UN 'food' bureaucracy, though, is already under fire from top U.S. officials and lawmakers. And the bizarre scheme to silence critics and journalists using taxpayer money is likely to pour fuel on the fire - especially as the UN comes under growing criticism for its anti-press freedom antics. Making matters worse for UN agency bosses is the fact that the additional international scrutiny on this case may lead to exposing further corruption. Most alarming, perhaps, are the increasingly obvious links between the UN agency boss in question and a totalitarian Latin American network of criminals and communists.
The controversial case, which could end up shutting down the English-language Italian Insider publication, has been in the courts since 2015. Under archaic Italian laws, criminal charges can be sought in defamation cases, and truth is not necessarily a defense. And so, a collection of top UN FAO bureaucrats, apparently sensing an opportunity to shut down critics and investigative journalists, abused the fascist-era statute to accuse the newspaper and its chief editor John Phillips of carrying out a 'criminal design' to defame the UN FAO and its leadership. The accusations stem from a series of articles exposing malfeasance, apparent corruption, and other scandals at the UN agency..."
The UK’s double standards
Before UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson dash off to Turkey again in search of “a jumbo trade deal,” they would do well to consider the implications of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s report on the UK’s relations with Turkey.
Incidentally, it was Boris Johnson, a former mayor of London, who was one of the leaders of the Brexit campaign.
It was also Johnson who prior to his appointment as foreign secretary won The Spectator’s President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition.
The report cautions that the UK’s promotion of fundamental values cannot be predicated on “good trade” or any other preconditions.
It is also striking that, while the Turkish embassy’s submission to the committee’s inquiry opened with a reference to the “shared values” between the UK and Turkey, the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) submission made no mention of these values. Indeed, the FCO’s language emphasizes a “strategic” relationship with Turkey and the importance of “understanding” the threat that Turkey faces rather than taking a critical stand.
Campus anti-Semitism EXPLODES in 2016
A new report claims that anti-Semitic activity skyrocketed by 40 percent in 2016 at the college and university campuses with the largest number of Jewish students.
“Antisemitism: At the Epicenter of Campus Intolerance” is the second annual report on the subject released by the AMCHA Initiative, allowing for direct year-over-year comparisons revealing that the bulk of the increase in anti-Semitic activity was concentrated among several especially-problematic schools.
"When there’s more BDS, there’s more activity that targets Jews for harm.”
The report divides “acts of anti-Jewish hostility” into two categories: “classic anti-Semitism” and “anti-Zionism.” While the number of anti-Zionist acts stayed relatively unchanged, AMCHA claims that the amount of “anti-Jewish genocidal expression” more than doubled between 2015 and 2016.
“On college campuses, Jewish students have often been subjected to severely intolerant behavior: actions that target them for harm and deprive them of their freedom of expression, as well as hateful speech and imagery that threaten violence against them or portray them as worthy of harm,” AMCHA director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin said in a press release. “In the current climate of increasing polarization and acts of extreme intolerance, we believe that Jewish students, and all students, will be best served when university administrators treat anti-Semitism and other acts of bigotry as forms of intolerant behavior that must be addressed with a single behavioral standard applied equitably to all forms of intolerance.”
Rossman-Benjamin added that the 2016 figures do not appear to represent an isolated trend, noting that “in the first two and a half months in 2017 alone, there were more than 30 incidents involving anti-Jewish genocidal expression at the schools in our study, with several of these incidents affecting not only Jewish students but other members of the campus community who have been targeted for their opinion or identity.”
Dozens of Jewish gravestones damaged near Philadelphia
Jewish gravestones were vandalized in a Pennsylvania cemetery west of Philadelphia, according to a local NBC news station.
Around 30 stones were found smashed and toppled at the Mt. Sharon Cemetery in Springfield, PA on Friday by Mora Ezra, a woman who came to pay respects at her father’s grave.
It wasn’t clear when the vandalism took place, the report said, and local authorities were investigating the incident.
The vandalism at Mt. Sharon was the latest in a rash of anti-Semitic incidents around the country targeting Jewish cemeteries.
Restoration work at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia to repair 175 gravestones desecrated in February has already begun.
The damage to the stones was discovered in late February, days after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was vandalized. No suspects have been identified.
Revealed: The extremist anti-Israel rantings ACA reporter Ben McCormack directed at a Jewish colleague that earned him a 'final warning' from Nine bosses - as he faces child porn charges
A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack draped his desk in offensive pictures including one comparing Israel's prime minister to Adolf Hitler, and posted on Facebook calling the Jewish state a 'f***ing disgrace,' Daily Mail Australia has learned.
McCormack, 42, who this week was charged with child sex offences, used offensive material to allegedly provoke a former colleague at the Nine Network, Caroline Marcus, who is Jewish.
Details have trickled out about Mr McCormack's workplace behaviour after he was sensationally charged on Thursday morning on the way to work with using a carriage service to send child pornography.
Daily Mail Australia has been supplied with photographs of some the extremist political material that McCormack displayed on his desk as well as screen shots of Facebook posts.
A photo from McCormack's desk showed a photo of despot Adolf Hitler performing the Nazi salute with the line, 'We are the master race'.
On the same A4 page was a photo underneath appearing to compare Adolf Hitler to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a tagline, 'We are God's chosen people'.
Antwerp Jews protest relocation of Holocaust monument to ‘quieter place’
Belgian Jews protested the unilateral decision by the city of Antwerp to move its main Holocaust monument from a place where victims were rounded up to another part of the city with less traffic.
The Forum of Jewish Organizations of the Flemish Region — one of the three autonomous entities that make up the federal Belgian state — came out against the plan in a statement Wednesday. The statement followed reports in the media of the city’s plan to move the monument from Belgiëlei Avenue.
The new location, on the other side of the city’s main park, “is a quieter place,” Paul Cordy, the district mayor, told the Gazet van Antwerpen daily on Tuesday. The annual Holocaust commemoration ceremony that the Jewish community organizes near the monument will therefore “have less of an impact on traffic,” said Cordy, adding the new location is also closer to the city’s historic center.
But the Forum, which was not consulted about the move, said the new location is “inferior” to the current one because it bears no historic connection to the Holocaust, during which German and Belgian officers concentrated thousands of Antwerp Jews at the Belgiëlei location ahead of their shipment to death camps.
“The monument serves as a headstone for thousands of Jews who were deported and killed without even receiving burial,” the Forum wrote in a statement. Moving the monument to a location “without any direct connection to the Holocaust would result in the loss of a historical, emotional and educational dimension.”
Israeli First Responders to Train Guatemalan Emergency Workers
Guatemalan government ministries – including the Defense Ministry, Home Front Command, fire service, police and emergency responders – recently turned to the Israeli ZAKA International Rescue Unit to ask for training sessions.
Guatemala is facing considerable challenges in the emergency field and is looking to train its emergency responders in a number of different disciplines.
ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Officer Mati Goldstein, together with Rabbi Joseph Garmon from the Guatemala Jewish community and representatives from the Israel Embassy, held meetings with the Guatemalan government ministries to discuss when to begin professional training sessions.
ZAKA also held meetings with the Jewish community and with Cadena, the local Jewish rescue organization, in order to ensure collaboration and cooperation for the benefit of the local Jewish community and for Israel’s public diplomacy efforts in the region.
Israeli company touts sweeter, healthier sugar substitute
An Israeli company appears to be at the forefront of a “revolution” in the sugar industry, with a sweetener product its founder claims is sweeter and healthier than its much-maligned processed sibling found in many a food product, according to a Channel 2 report on Wednesday.
“Unavoo” was founded and developed at home by Israeli entrepreneur Yuval Maimon, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 38.
Maimon said he must have done some “700-800 nightly experiments” at his makeshift lab before finding the winning formula. The sweetener is granulated, resembling sugar, and dissolves just like it in lab testing shown on Channel 2. Most importantly, however, it doesn’t have the disliked aftertaste that a majority of sweeteners available in the market have, according to the report.
Israel’s sugar monopoly, Sugat, and its London-based parent company, ED & F Man, have invested in the product, noting a years-long trend away from sugar.
Elie Wiesel's son to light torch at March of the Living
The son of the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel will light a torch in memory of his father during this year’s March of the Living, an annual educational program which bring people from all over the world to Poland and Israel to study the history of the Holocaust.
This will be the first time that Elisha Wiesel will join the march, less than a year after his father passed away.
The focus of this year's event --the 29th of its kind-- is how to preserve the memory and lessons of the Holocaust after the last survivor has passed away.
In the framework of the march, Ministers of Education from 12 European countries will participate in an unprecedented gathering on the eve of Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, organized by March of the Living organizers and the Austrian Federal Minister for Education, Dr. Sonja Hammerschmid.
“Every country and society has its own episodes of painful history, be it connected to events of mass violence, to colonialism or others” said Hammerschmid. “Austria and Austrian schools need to confront the long history of antisemitism, including before the rise of the Nazis, and especially the involvement of so many Austrians in atrocities during World War II – and foremost the Holocaust. We in Austria feel privileged to learn from the experiences of other countries – like Israel – and we gladly invite others to share ours."
Over 10,000 youths from around the world will participate in the march, alongside an honorary delegation of 75 Holocaust survivors from different countries, the eldest of which is 103 years old.
Virtual reality app recreates Jerusalem during Second Temple
A new virtual reality app allows visitors to Jerusalem to see the city as it looked during the heyday of the Second Temple.
The paid application, called Lithodomos VR, simulates the way Jerusalem appeared during the first century CE, when Jesus lived and before the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
The app, launched in December 2016, will be updated as new archaeological research concerning the Temple Mount and its environs emerges, Simon Young, a doctoral researcher at the University of Melbourne who designed the app, told LiveScience on Thursday.
“The VR content that we are deploying on the app is the result of carefully researched material from archaeological excavations, site plans, elevation drawings, photographs of textures and [geographic information system] mapping, as well as topographical data from NASA’s ASTER digital elevation models,” he said.
The application includes virtual reality scenes of Jerusalem from the period after Herod renovated the Temple, as well as view from the digitally rebuilt Robinson’s Arch.

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