Friday, August 04, 2017

From Ian:

The Left and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The path to righteous hatred
In this timely and eloquent essay, Jamie Palmer explores the impact on the politics of the Left of desperately simplistic narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that have been designed to protect the Palestinian’s preordained status as wholly blameless victims, lacking either political agency or moral responsibility. Over the years, he argues, as the explanatory limitations of these narratives have encountered unfolding complexities on the ground – Arab terrorism, Palestinian maximalism and rejectionism, the suicide bombers of the Second Intifada, the rise of Islamist violence, popular eliminationist antisemitism – they have only produced new crises of understanding, and a requirement for ever more conspiratorial explanations of Israeli behaviour. Tendentious and conspiratorial anti-Zionist analyses have rushed into the vacuum of understanding, and have been absorbed by ever-larger sections of the Left. The wilful selectivity of an analysis that allows for no credit in the Israeli column, nor any debit in the Palestinian column, has produced a distorted view of the conflict, as tragic as it is unnecessary.
At the start of last year I wrote a column for Quillette about accusations of ‘pinkwashing’ made against the State of Israel and her supporters. This charge holds that (a) Israel uses a progressive record on gay rights as a means of distracting world attention from its treatment of Palestinians and (b) any attempt to universalise Western LGBT norms is a form of cultural imperialism intended to stigmatise Arab countries as backward and barbaric. It struck me as particularly odd that arguments like these were being made by left-wing activists and academics, many of whom self-identify as ‘queer’. Why would people ostensibly devoted to gay rights advocacy defend a lamentable record on LGBT issues and denounce a laudable one?
Among Palestine’s progressive supporters, I theorised, we are seeing a manifestation of the same perverse phenomenon George Orwell had observed among Western Stalinists at the end of the Second World War. Communism was believed by its adherents to be a more ethical and just system than capitalism and nothing Communist states actually did would be allowed to capsize this foundational moral judgement – not the gulags, not the famines, not the purges, not the pitiless persecution of free-thinkers and dissidents, and not the imperial subjugation of satellite states and their wretched populations. The failings and imperfections of the West’s liberal democracies, meanwhile, would be pored over at length, paradoxically aided by a free press and culture of self-criticism, the absence of which stymied open discussion in the Communist bloc.
Petra Marquardt-Bigman: As on the Temple Mount, so in Australia
Disbelief, disappointment and even fury erupted on social media in response to the news that a local council in Sydney, Australia, “has blocked plans for a new synagogue, saying it may become a terrorist target and poses an unacceptable security risk.” But perhaps all the people fuming about Australian cowardice and the failure to uphold freedom of worship should keep in mind that the “status quo” at Judaism’s holiest place, i.e. the Temple Mount, reflects the same eagerness to prevent “security risks:” while Israel’s Supreme Court has theoretically upheld Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount, Jews are effectively barred from exercising these rights whenever there is reason to fear that this might result in a “disturbance to the public order.”
And there has never been a day when there was no reason to fear that Jews praying at their holiest site wouldn’t result in a truly apocalyptic “disturbance to the public order.”
What is regarded all around the world as the sacrosanct “status quo” at Jerusalem’s holiest site means in practice that by threatening violence, Muslims can deny Jews the right to worship at the Temple Mount.
As I noted in a related post years ago, it is supposedly “Islamophobic” to assume “that Muslims are inclined to violence,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Australian authorities were to find themselves accused of such “Islamophobia.” But when it comes to the Temple Mount, which Muslims nowadays often call the “Al Aqsa compound,” or even simply Al Aqsa, Muslims like nothing better than to threaten massive violence in response to any perceived Jewish infringement. As we have recently seen, even “Jewish” metal detectors or security cameras at the entrances to the site can cause riots and violence.
The American Press Is Afraid to Report on Anti-Semitism When It Comes from Muslims
Responding to Israel’s installation of metal detectors on the Temple Mount, the California imam Ammar Shahin gave a sermon in which he explained the duty of Muslims everywhere—“not only in Palestine”—to exterminate the Jews, and then prayed for Allah to make this possible. While reports of the sermon soon appeared in Jewish and Israeli publications, as well as in right-leaning American ones, the imam’s words were first ignored, and then downplayed, by the mainstream media. Clifford May writes:
Imagine if a priest, minister, or rabbi were to call for Muslims to be annihilated. It would be a scandal [that] would spark a nation-wide controversy over Islamophobia, hate speech, and incitement to violence. So why is that not the case when an imam calls for the annihilation of Jews? . . .
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times did run a piece. Its reluctance to do so was apparent from the first line: “A Northern California mosque that was targeted in a vandalism hate crime found itself at the center of controversy this week after an imam delivered a sermon with inflammatory remarks about Jews.” The vandalism—two bicycles destroyed and bacon draped over a door handle—occurred in January. The woman responsible was sentenced to five years’ probation. What this has to do with the imam calling for the killing of Jews was not explained. . . .
At a press event, the imam said he was “deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused. The last thing I would do is intentionally hurt anyone, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise. It is not in my heart, nor does my religion allow it.”



Dr. Mordechai Kedar: The failure of liberalism
It is an undeniable fact that the Israeli government caved in to the religious tenacity of the Muslim side in the Temple Mount dispute. It took less than two weeks of violence to force Israel to admit to the error made by its Cabinet and all the experts with whom it consulted about probable Islamic reactions to placing security apparatus at the entrance to the Temple Mount and the gates of the Old City. There is no question that Israel's backtracking was humiliating and that it granted a significant victory to Israel-haters.
Desperate to end the violence, Israeli public relations sources publicized a document showing similar security measures in Mecca and Medina, where not a single Muslim complains or protests at the Saudi checkpoints. They seem to have hoped that the Muslims here would agree to have Jews inspect them the way pilgrims on the Haaj to Mecca allow the Saudis to inspect them. The government and its public relations people's basic error lay in thinking that a magnetometer in Jerusalem is the same as one in Mecca, ignoring two fundamental differences.
1. The Saudis are Muslim and the Israelis are Jews, "sons of apes and pigs" according to the Quran, "murderers of prophets" and the "objects of Alllah's wrath," while their religion is a false creed - meaning that there is no way they can be allowed to inspect Muslims, whose religion is the only true one.
2. The Islamic world recognizes the Saudi Monarchy's hegemony over Mecca and Medina, but there is not even a shred of acceptance of Jewish hegemony over the Temple Mount.
The government's failure stems from something more insidious than simple misjudgement, its source is the liberal mindset that has taken over the thought processes of large sectors of Israeli society – rightist and leftist – just as it has taken over the thought processes of Western society as a whole.
This inherently secular liberal mindset claims that religion has no part to play in the modern world, and that if it does seem to be playing a part, we – that is, the liberal and secular West – must push it to the sidelines, along with its representatives and institutions, laws and customs, and its role in any aspects of life in the Middle East. Liberal circles refuse to recognize the role of religion in our region; the violence is explained by tangible factors such as persecution, occupation, poverty and unemployment
A liberal is incapable, and possibly unwilling, to understand that there are people on the globe whose world of ideas differs from his. That is why liberals comfort themselves with the words MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) said when denigrating my opinions: "Everyone wants more happiness and less suffering." Everyone, according to Gilon, includes Muslims and religious Jews,. He refuses to accept the fact that for believers, religious commandments are more important than their personal and collective happiness, that they are willing to suffer while performing Heavenly commandments, convinced that it is His will. Adding to happiness and reducing suffering are on the bottom of their wish list.
Indoctrinating America's youth against Israel
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East ‎Reporting in America has published a new monograph: "Indoctrinating Our ‎Youth," a case study of the bias in the high school curriculum in one U.S. city ‎when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and teaching about Islam.‎
The booklet is of interest because it helps explains a dramatic shift in the attitudes ‎toward Israel among younger Americans.‎
According to a study by the Brand Israel Group, in just six years, support for Israel ‎has dropped from 73% to 54% among U.S. college students. The drop-off in support among Jewish college ‎students has been particularly steep -- from 84% to 57%. It is no great secret that the environment for pro-‎Israel students on many if not most college campuses has become quite hostile. ‎The movement to create an intersectionality of interests among various purveyors ‎of identity politics -- the LGBT community, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims, among others -- ‎now seems to have adopted anti-Zionism among its key tenets. The exclusion of ‎Jewish women in Chicago from various rallies because they carried rainbow flags ‎with the Star of David is typical of the increasingly fierce attempts to banish ‎anything remotely connected to Israel from the movements on the Left.‎
Elements of the organized Jewish community have been working to fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement ‎on college campuses and to support, train and educate pro-Israel activists. It is ‎clearly difficult for pro-Israel students to isolate themselves from accepted ‎‎"wisdom" or belief among their peers and push back with an alternative ‎viewpoint.
But the CAMERA study reveals that the problem begins earlier than ‎college. The pattern of indoctrination and ‎pressure to adopt narratives hostile to Israel are now common in high school, if not ‎even earlier.
IsraellyCool: Know Your History: ‘Same Arab Race’ in Syria and Palestine (NY Times Sept 1, 1921)
A series where I bring to you news from the archives and historical documents to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.
Over a year after the San Remo Conference (which resolved to incorporate the the Balfour Declaration in Britain’s mandate in Palestine), as well as the Franco-Syrian War (which resulted in Syria being divided into several client states under the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon), a delegation of Syrian and Palestinian Arabs submitted their grievances to the League of Nations (precursor to the UN). And the New York Times covered it.
This is not the first time we have seen that there was no separate “palestinian” identity, and that the Arabs in the area considered themselves part of Syria.
Report: Terror attacks by Arab children on the rise
The number of terrorist attacks on Israelis by Arab children has greatly increased since the beginning of the so-called 'stabbing intifada' in September 2015, according to a new report by a human rights NGO.
The report by UN watchdog Human Rights Voices (HVR) states that "there have been at least 79 separate terrorist attacks by Palestinian children since September 13, 2015."
The attackers have been as young as eight.
The report further noted that rather than act to prevent children from risking their lives in order to kill Jews, the Palestinian Authority has incited and encouraged its children to commit murder, in violation of international law.
The report quotes PA UN representative Riyad Mansour's declaration in the public hall of the UN Headquarters on November 23, 2015 as evidence of the PA's endorsement of child terrorism: “We are so proud that in this popular uprising that has started almost two months ago, that the backbone of this uprising are the youth of Palestine.”
The report further accuses the United Nations of knowingly covering up the PA's encouragement and incitement of child terrorists.


Col Kemp: Islamists may have already infiltrated our armed forces
Most Muslims who join the armed forces and police undoubtedly do so for good patriotic reasons. But Islamic State is determined to infiltrate the forces and police, and has produced a manual that includes instructions on doing so.
The jihadists’ strategy of infiltration goes back years and despite the authorities rejecting hundreds on security grounds it is inconceivable that some have not succeeded in joining and are now “sleepers”, awaiting orders to strike.
We have seen the dangers of the enemy within. In Afghanistan 152 coalition troops were killed in 99 “green on blue” attacks when trusted Afghan police and soldiers turned their guns on their comrades.
Armed forces members have access to sensitive intelligence, secure locations, members of the royal family, high-ranking officers and politicians, aircraft, tanks and nuclear submarines. Those with such potentially devastating opportunities have increased security vetting but what security vetting can be sure to detect an individual who is radicalised while serving, or pressurised to act by extremists who perhaps threaten his family?
The problem is exacerbated by a culture of political thought control under which soldiers and police officers are frightened to report suspicious behaviour for fear of being branded racist.
The Problem with Jewish-Arab “Dialogue”
Controversy broke out recently over the decision of a Jewish summer camp in Washington state to fly a Palestinian flag on its grounds. Eventually the camp apologized and took down the flag, but Jonathan Tobin points to a deeper problem revealed by this incident. (Free registration may be required.)
The flag was a gesture of welcome for a visiting group affiliated with Kids4Peace, an organization that brings together children from disparate groups to build relationships. The sojourn of the thirteen Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children at the camp apparently went off without incident. . . . [But] the real point of interest here is not the undoubted good intentions of those responsible, or how tremendous the power that symbols like flags still have to engender passion. Rather, it is the blind faith that so many Jews exhibit in the value of dialogue programs.
In principle, the idea is unexceptionable. Getting people from warring groups to know each other as individuals rather than symbols of fear and loathing can only help undermine stereotypes that fuel conflict. But there is more to that lofty goal than merely throwing children or adults together. Since the impetus for dialogue between Arabs and Jews almost always comes from the latter, [these conversations] tend to follow a familiar pattern: Arabs denounce Israeli oppression and the Jews nod in sympathetic agreement or fail to answer in kind about the actions of the Palestinians.
That’s because supporters of the peace process and of concessions to the Palestinians are usually the ones organizing and taking part in such efforts, not skeptics or opponents of a two-state solution. But . . . what has always been clear—though usually not to the organizers—is the lack of symmetry between the two sides.
Omar Suleiman’s indirect response to my Algemeiner article
A few days ago, The Algemeiner published my article on Omar Suleiman, a very popular Palestinian-American imam whom Linda Sarsour has repeatedly praised – and who has also expressed admiration for her. When I researched Suleiman’s views on Israel and on Jews, I quickly found a lot of alarming material: he posted an image signaling support for the Muslim Brotherhood; he repeatedly called for another intifada and tried his best to incite religious passions; he also compared Israel to the Nazis and to Taliban-affiliated terrorists who had perpetrated a horrendous massacre in a school in Pakistan. But what shocked me most was listening to some of his religious teachings that are available on You Tube. The example I cited in the article was from a lecture series on the Bani Israel that he gave a few years ago, and in the introductory lecture, he very clearly blamed the Bani Israel – literally the “sons of Israel,” i.e. the Jews – for the fact that food decays. Quite obviously, this is no less pernicious than the medieval blood libel.
Now I just discovered that, without tagging me or linking to my article, he has posted a text on his Facebook page that seems to be an indirect response to my piece – and I have to say that I found much of it quite impressive, certainly compared to Linda Sarsour’s pathetic habit to dismiss all criticism as “alt-right” and “Islamophobic.” You can read Suleiman’s post here or in the screenshot below.
Of course, I did not ‘intentionally decontextualize’ anything Suleiman said or wrote. And I think it’s not convincing to describe the material I documented as ‘slip ups,’ since in most instances, he repeatedly expressed the same or similar views. I am also working on documenting some other material from Suleiman’s lectures that I found very disturbing and that in my view is central to the Muslim unwillingness to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in any borders.
It should go without saying that I do not “hate” Omar Suleiman, and I do not “want to bury” him in his “past mistakes.” But quite obviously, it can have far-reaching consequences when an imam who has more than a million followers on social media makes “mistakes” and writes things he now wishes he “never wrote.” Indeed, some of the things I exposed were “liked” or shared by tens of thousands of people.
The Foreign Press Association's Unlimited Bias
The truth is that in nearly most Arab and Muslim countries, there is no such thing as a "Foreign Press Association." That is because Arab and Islamic dictatorships do not allow such organizations to operate in their countries.
The second question that comes to mind in light of the Foreign Press Association's opposition to Israel's security measures is: What exactly are the foreign journalists demanding from Israel? That Israeli authorities allow them to run around freely while Palestinian rioters are hurling stones and firebombs at police officers? Are the journalists saying that Israelis have no right to safeguard their own lives?
Outrageously, the FPA is nearly stone-deaf when it comes to wrongdoing by Palestinians. Where is the outcry of the organization when a Palestinian journalist is arrested or assaulted by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank or Hamas in the Gaza Strip? Where is the outcry over PA President Mahmoud Abbas's recent decision to block more than 20 news websites?
NGO Monitor: The EU’s Self-congratulating “External” NGO Evaluation
Further compromising the evaluation’s credibility, over half of the “external stakeholders” consulted are funded by the EU, negating the review’s stated goal of providing an “independent assessment of the instrument.” Indeed, according to an annex that provides a comprehensive list of “Stakeholders Consulted,” seven of the twelve organizations listed as “external stakeholders/partners” receive EU funding – of these at least three have received EIDHR funding in the past year (see Table I below). One of these stakeholders, ProtectDefenders.EU, is in fact a project entirely funded by EIDHR.1
The evaluation also consults stakeholders from the European Parliament – the only EU institution with direct democratic representation. However, rather than consulting individuals from across the political spectrum, three out of four stakeholders are affiliated with the same political group – Greens/EFA (MEP Barbara Lochbihler; her assistant, Anne-Sophie Maier; and Raphael Fisera, a human rights and foreign affairs advisor to the Greens/EFA group).2
Similarly, the stakeholders listed under “Israel/Palestine” include the NGOs Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center [Association] in Palestine (DWRC), HaMoked, Breaking the Silence, Ir Amim, Adalah, and Hotline for Refugees and Migrants – all of which received EIDHR funding as of 2016 (if not more recently). Groups that do not receive EIDHR funding, including civil society representatives that might be critical of EU funding and/or foreign policy, were apparently not consulted. With the exception of the Israeli Ministry of Justice and USAID, all other stakeholders consulted in the region are from EU and/or Member States’ delegations and embassies.
In stressing “output” rather than actual impact and primarily consulting with a narrow segment of stakeholders, most of which have an obvious vested interest, EIDHR’s congratulatory mid-term evaluation fails to fulfill its mandate of independently assessing the instrument’s effectiveness.
Jewish Group Educates on Roger Waters’ BDS Activism Ahead of DC Concerts
Ahead of former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters’s performances in Washington, DC this weekend, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington has launched a social media video campaign explaining the rocker’s role as a prominent activist in the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The JCRC said the video aims to educate Washington-area residents on “the ways Waters uses music to divide people, rather than bring them together,” and details the musician’s history of “antagonizing other musicians who chose to perform in Israel” as well as his controversial comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany.
In April, Waters and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu spearheaded a BDS petition against the British rock band Radiohead’s July concert in Tel Aviv.
Waters is performing at Washington’s Verizon Center from Aug. 4-5.
IsraellyCool: A Small Victory: YouTube Reinstates My Roger Waters Video
And I was not alone. Other pro-Israel activists complained of exactly the same phenomenon.
So I appealed. And made a bit of a stink about it on social media.
Today, when I entered my YouTube account, I noticed the video was back up, and my YouTube “good standing” reinstated, even though I never received a mail from YouTube informing me that my appeal was successful.
Here’s hoping the other pro-Israel activists affected experience similar results. Although I would prefer it if YouTube wisens up to what is going on with Israel haters and antisemites reporting our videos exposing hate.
In the meantime, to celebrate, I am reposting my Roger Waters video, which to date has close to 5,000 views.


AFP Wrong on Western Wall
In a series of captions earlier this week regarding the observance of Tisha B'Av, a Jewish day of mourning marking the destruction of the First and Second Temples as well as other catastrophes that fell on that day, Agence France Presse errs on the Western Wall, wrongly identifying it as "the last remaining vestige of the Second Temple." Examples of the erroneous captions follow:
The Western Wall, a retaining wall of the Temple Mount, (not a wall of the Temple itself,) is not the last remaining vestige of the Temple complex. In fact, there are many extant remains of the Temple complex. The southern, eastern and northern retaining walls are also still extant. Surviving features abutting the southern walls include a broad stairway leading up to the Temple Mount's entrance and two gates, known as the Huldah Gates, which provided access to the Temple Mount (Hershel Shanks, Jerusalem: An Archeological Biography, p. 143.) Some of the interior part of the Herodian Double Gate (which is one of the Huldah Gates) is also still intact. There are also surviving underground remnants of the Temple complex, including the area known as Solomon's Stables. In addition, an area called Robinson's Arch, in the south-western corner of the Temple complex, still remains. In his book, Shanks provides details concerning numerous other vestiges.
Multiple media outlets have corrected this same error in the past, including most recently The Los Angeles Times and Associated Press.
CAMERA has contacted AFP about the errors, but editors have yet to correct.
SUCCESS! CBC Retracts Claim that Mahmoud Abbas is a “Staunch Opponent of Violence”
As we noted in our recent critical analysis of Canadian media coverage of the tensions and terror attacks on the Temple Mount, on July 22, CBCNews.ca had featured Associated Press coverage claiming that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is “… a staunch opponent of violence…”
In making this statement, both AP and CBC News inserted their personal opinions into their coverage as this claim is subjective in nature and was not in attribution. Many Israelis and others would contend that Abbas has promoted and not prevented terror. This is the same Abbas that when an Israeli husband and wife were murdered in a drive-by shooting in the west bank last year, Abbas’ Fatah party glorified their murder as being legal and a Palestinian “national duty”. Abbas’ Fatah movement also claimed credit for the attack. Let’s also not forget Abbas’ incendiary speech at the UN where this Palestinian leader tacitly gave a green light for Palestinians to commit terror. In a speech on Palestinian TV on September 16th, Abbas said “we welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven… Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.”
This year, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority will give close to $350 million (USD) to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails (many serving life sentences for murder and other terror-related offences) and to the families of “martyrs” (including relatives of suicide bombers). What’s effectively known as “pay for slay”. That’s the equivalent of half the foreign aid the PA received that could have gone towards education, institution building, healthcare, etc.
HonestReporting Canada brought these concerns to the attention of CBC editors who agreed that it was “inappropriate” to describe Abbas as a “staunch opponent of violence”. CBC editors retracted this claim and removed it from their news article. CBC also published the following clarification:
Some of the language in this article has been amended from its original form to ensure it is impartial in accordance with CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices.
Washington Post Op-Ed Shills for Hezbollah Ally
There's an elephant in the room in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed “Can Lebanon survive Syria, Israel—and President Trump” that discusses challenges facing the Lebanese state. That elephant is the open support of the Lebanese government for Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Muslim, U.S.-designated terror group, which has fed off its Beirut host-turned-advocate for decades. The July 25, 2017 Post commentary by former Post correspondent Nora Boustany and writer Daniel Williams effectively whitewashes the country's current support for Hezbollah.
Boustany, now a journalism professor at the American University of Beirut, and Williams, an author of a recent book on Christians in the Middle East, argue that Lebanon is “trying to navigate a summer of tensions with its neighbors” and is “seemingly always under existential siege from forces inside and out [emphasis added].”
Those neighbors, the commentators assert, include a “bellicose” Israel that “is unhappy with archenemy Hezbollah's growing power and is talking about flattening the country if Hariri doesn't do something about it.” Lebanon, they say, is a “beleaguered country” currently led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri who, in a recent visit to the U.S., was seeking to prevent the Trump administration from ending a “State Department program of military aid to Lebanon worth about $80 million this year.”
Trump, the writers argue, “Should not end U.S. support for Lebanon's armed forces.” Yet—perhaps in order to advance their argument—The Post Op-Ed omits relevant facts, namely why and how Hezbollah's power is “growing” and what this portends for Lebanon, Israel and the region writ large.
Indeed, two key words are missing from Boustany and Williams' Op-Ed: Michael Aoun. This is curious given that Aoun is Lebanon's President. He's also a Hezbollah ally.
Amazingly, Aoun's name is not mentioned even once in the 841-word commentary—despite the fact that his electoral victory was announced in an Oct. 31, 2016 Washington Post report entitled “Lebanese lawmakers pick Hezbollah ally to end presidential logjam.”
NYT: Shaping Perceptions of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
What did the New York Times choose to quote on the day of a violent attack that can only be seen as the result of relentless, institutionalized Palestinian incitement?
A website article by Isabel Kershner on the day of the attack focused on the ailing health of PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and reported that
...some of the messages aired on Israeli news sites were scathing, wishing Mr. Erekat a speedy death and mockingly decrying the possibility that he might be saved by the health system of the state he has disparaged.
"A transplant? Forget it," wrote one reader. "But cigarettes are on me."

A link embedded in the word "messages" suggests that what Kershner actually meant were comments posted in the "talkback" section of an online article, only one of which wished Erekat a speedy death as compared with more that wish him a full recovery. Such talkback sections are often unmoderated and notorious for extreme but inconsequential outbursts by those whose full identity is undisclosed. It is therefore impossible to extrapolate from any "talkbacks" anything about how prevalent these views are in Israeli society. The suggestion that these comments were "aired on Israeli news sites" misleadingly confers upon them a greater importance than they deserve.
Moreover, if Ms. Kershner wanted to quote a negative comment that accurately reflects why some oppose donating an organ to Mr. Erekat, why not quote the comment (from the same linked talkback page) that connected such reluctance to Erekat's anti-Israel libel about a massacre in Jenin? (In 2002, Erekat, along with other Palestinian leaders, publicly and falsely alleged that Israel had perpetrated a massacre of Palestinian civilians and annihilated their refugee camp, when, in fact, nothing of the sort had happened.)
But false allegations and anti-Israel libels by Palestinian leaders like Mr. Erekat, who is described only as "a leading voice of the Palestinian cause for decades" and "a passionate and perennial champion of Palestinian statehood" is something the New York Times prefers to conceal. Perhaps because the same sort of false allegations are being used to incite murders against Israelis today. And this incitement is by the very same Palestinian leadership that the New York Times wants to portray simply as "champions of Palestinian statehood."
Polish government condemns attack on Israeli soccer team
The Polish government said on Thursday it condemns the attack by a group of hooligans on members of the Israeli soccer club Hapoel Petach Tikva near Warsaw, which the Israeli Embassy said was motivated by anti-Semitism.
Two people were injured late on Wednesday when masked hooligans attacked the Israeli team after an exhibition game with the local MKS Ciechanow club, 74 kilometers (46 miles) from Warsaw.
"The Israeli Embassy in Warsaw has been shocked and saddened by the news of another anti-Semitic incident," embassy spokeswoman Michal Sobelman said.
"These 'pseudo-fans' not only harm good Polish-Israeli relations, but first of all they are damaging to Poland's image abroad."
Polish government spokesman Rafal Bochenek said police were investigating the incident and would detain those responsible.
"We strongly condemn aggression and violence against any person," he said in a statement.
Israel Railways to install robotic bike parking at stations
The Israel Railways Authority is looking to install robotic bicycle parking facilities at train stations across the country.
Automated bike parking facilities exist at rail stations in Germany, Japan, England, and Czechia, among other places. The technology allows for hundreds of bikes to be parked orderly and efficiently at stations while only taking up a small amount of floor or ground space.
Israel Railways has made a freedom of information request from the manufacturer of the technology.
A recent study by the authority found that many train riders are expected to make use of the robotic parking and the technology will provide some relief to passengers. Currently, if stations have run out of space for bicycle parking, riders must bring their bicycles on the train. The study noted the number of passengers bringing bikes on the train has increased markedly in the last two years, making train cars especially crowded during rush hour.
The installations of the robotic bike parking will expand the means by which passengers can travel to and from train stations.
Israel Railways intends to run a pilot program first before installing the system at stations nationwide. So far, the authority has added dozens of bike parking spaces at heavily-used stations, including those in Tel Aviv, Herzilya, Beersheba, Ashdod, Rehovot, and Netanya.
Hebrew University to Host Prestigious Medical Cannabis Conference in 2021
The International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) will hold its global conference at Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2021.
The ICRS — the oldest scientific society devoted to the study of cannabis — convenes annually and has some 400 members around the world.
Previous conferences by the group have focused on using cannabis-based medicines to treat autoimmune disorders, epilepsy, pain, PTSD, metabolism, obesity, cancer and other ailments.
The society’s 2021 International Symposium on the Cannabinoids in Jerusalem will host hundreds of Israeli and international participants at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research will host the conference.
“[Israeli] Prof. Raphael Mechoulam was the first to publish the structure of the active principal of cannabis, THC, and was also the first to identify an endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide,” noted ICRS Executive Director Prof. Cecilia Hillard, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“Just as impressive is the current state of cannabinoid research in Jerusalem and Israel at large, including the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research led by Dr. Joseph Tam,” she added. “We are looking forward to visiting Jerusalem and to an exciting and informative conference.”
Chainsmokers debut in Israel with electrifying late-night performance
Rishon Lezion Live Park doubled as a club Thursday night as DJ duo the Chainsmokers lit up the park with a electrifying, ground-shaking dance party that lasted into the morning.
The concert, part of the Chainsmokers’ Memories… Do Not Open tour, marks the pop EDM (electronic dance music) duo’s debut in Israel. It features tracks from their own albums as well as covers of songs by other artists.
Taking the stage at a respectable 11:45pm, DJs Alex Pall and Drew Taggart opened with a remix of their smash hit “Don't Let Me Down”. The crowd waved their red and blue glow sticks to a friendly “What's up, Israel” and screamed as bursts of streamers and smoke shot into the air.
The crowd was already plenty rowdy before the Chainsmokers got onstage. Perhaps it was the late hour or the energy of the opening act, Israeli pop singer Anita Bukstein and her dancing DJ. Regardless, the bouts of fist pumping, cheering, and uncontrollable flailing from a select few which preceded the Chainsmokers’ exciting opening number turned into a full-blown dance party as they started DJing.
The excitement and frantic glow stick waving only increased as the concert continued. The DJs danced along to the beat of their own music, prompting the concertgoers to do the same. Fist bumping, staggered knee bending, and slow dancing could all be seen amongst the crowd.
HBO legend picks her 5 top Jewish documentaries
Sheila Nevins may not be a household name, but she is a legend in the documentary film world.
Since taking over HBO’s documentary division in 1979, the network’s documentaries have won 26 Academy Awards. In that same period, as a producer, she has won 32 Primetime Emmy Awards and 34 News and Documentary Emmy Awards.
Along the way, Nevins has worked on plenty of projects with Jewish themes, touching on subjects that range from Daniel Pearl to the Holocaust. Some of these, Nevins told JTA, influenced her beyond the professional realm, helping her connect with her Jewish identity in a way that her mostly secular upbringing did not.
“I feel Jewish and I feel proud of it, and I feel separated from it simultaneously,” said Nevins, who grew up in New York. “I wish that I could go back again and go to the Sunday school with all those cute boys my mother wouldn’t let me go to.”
Nevins has been an executive producer or producer on more than 1,000 films, and in May she published her first book, “You Don’t Look Your Age … and Other Fairy Tales.” (She’s 78, by the way, but you’d never know it — she looks and sounds much younger, due in part to multiple facelifts. “I have enough Botox in me to detonate Iran,” the wry filmmaker told the Hollywood Reporter in April.)
Nevins candidly addresses this and more in what she calls her “eclectic memoir.” The book consists of stories — some true (one about a boyfriend whose mom didn’t like her because she was Jewish), some slightly altered (one, based on people she had met, about an elderly couple who sleep in separate rooms) and others that are complete fiction (those are “up to the reader” to figure out, she said).
Italy's ambassador to Israel is one of the world's righteous
Outgoing Italian Ambassador to Israel Francesco Maria Talo on Thursday night took leave of Rabbi Adin Even-Yisrael Steinsaltz.
Accompanying Talo to Rabbi Steinsaltz's Jerusalem office was Vatican Foundation representative Dr. Salvatore Martinez.
The relationship between Talo and Rabbi Steinsaltz began two years ago, when Rabbi Steinsaltz began translating the Talmud into Italian. The connection deepened as Talo helped Rabbi Steinsaltz translate the Talmud and negotiated with the Vatican after three Jewish boys were kidnapped and murdered by Muslim Hamas terrorists in the summer of 2014.
According to Shefa Organization CEO Rabbi Menachem Even-Yisrael Steinsaltz, who also attended the meeting, Talo is unique in the fact that he is a "righteous gentile."
His father, Rabbi Steinsaltz, smiled and nodded at the statement, as if he himself had been about to say the same.
"It's an honor to get to know someone who is not a Jew, but shows so much interest in Judaism and our holy books. [My father] will always treasure this friendship," Rabbi Menachem Steinsaltz said.
"The experiences which I had with the Rabbi will remain with me forever," Talo said. "Writing the dedication for the Italian Talmud, and attending the funeral of the three murdered boys, will stay with me forever. This is our purpose in life."
IsraellyCool: ‘Why I Went to Auschwitz’: Former NBA Player Ray Allen’s Powerful Piece
Former NBA player Ray Allen has written an article in the Player’s Tribune entitled Why I Went to Auschwitz.
It truly is a powerful, poignant and thought-provoking piece.
The people of these Jewish communities were pushed to the absolute limit of their human instincts. They just wanted to survive. And from that, the tales of brotherhood and camaraderie are so awe-inspiring. It was a reminder of what the human spirit is capable of — both for good and evil.

I thought I knew what the Holocaust was, and what it meant. I went to Poland with a few close friends to learn more. But I wasn’t prepared for how deeply the visit would affect me. I had seen so many documentaries and films on Auschwitz, but nothing really prepares you for being there. The first thing I felt when I walked through those iron gates was … heavy. The air around me felt heavy. I stood on the train tracks where the prisoners of the camp would arrive, and I felt like I could hear the trains coming to a halt. I had to take a breath to center myself. It was so immediate. So overwhelming.
We walked through the barracks and gas chambers and what I remember most is what I heard: nothing. I’ve never experienced silence like that. Apart from footsteps, the complete lack of sound was almost jarring. It’s eerie and sobering. You’re standing in these rooms where so much death has taken place and your mind is trying to come to terms with all that’s happened in this space.
One question keeps repeating over and over and over in your mind: How can human beings do this to one another?
How does somebody process that? You can’t.



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