Tuesday, September 05, 2017

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: 'Has truth lost all meaning' For Israel-haters, yes
Thomas Suarez is an Israel-hater. He is about to embark on a tour of America. He recently concluded a tour of Scotland. He has spoken at universities in the United Kingdom. A book he wrote, published last year, which vilifies and defames the state of Israel and which references and has been endorsed by other Israel-haters, was honoured with a launch inside a meeting room in the House of Lords.
Two indefatigable fighters against anti-Jewish bigotry, David Collier and Jonathan Hoffman, have written a detailed analysis of this book’s methodology and its claim to be a serious work of, ahem, scholarship. They retraced the author’s primary sources, examined dozens of files at the National Archives in Kew, bought and analysed several of the key writings that are cited and made contact with academics and historians who specialise in the subject matter. They write:
“The distortion created within the book’s argument is drawn from every level of error imaginable. The author made basic historical research mistakes, such as an over-reliance on, and disproportionate inclusion of, ideologically selected material. In addition – and more worryingly – the source material for the most part contradicts the author’s writing. And finally, there are several clear examples of such total distortion and inversion of meaning that it is difficult to conclude anything other than deliberate intent. The book is dripping with racial hatred against Jews.
“We conclude that in our opinion, this book is an antisemitic fraud. We do not use that phrase lightly… This raises important questions that must be addressed. How is it that such a badly put together distortion, riddled with historical inaccuracy, misquotes and racial hatred, is being welcomed by any part of our society? Just a rudimentary check brought to light unacceptable errors that warranted further investigation. The additional factcheck uncovered an unsupportable pyramid of fictions.
“Has truth lost all meaning? How can a university professor endorse such a book? We are sure that the sheer scale of the shoddy research and blatant manipulations described in this report will shock those who read it. Perhaps almost as much as it shocked those who uncovered it.”
President to dedicate memorial to Munich massacre victims
President Reuven Rivlin will take part in a ceremony to dedicate a memorial to the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics on Wednesday. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had invited Rivlin to participate in the ceremony.
Before departing for Munich on Tuesday, Rivlin said the memorial would serve as a "silent testimony of the cruel consequences of terrorism and the promise that we will exact a price from those who carry out and encourage acts of terror throughout the entire free world."
On Wednesday, Steinmeier, together with Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer, will accompany Rivlin at the dedication of the memorial as well as a memorial center in honor of the athletes and coaches murdered in the Munich massacre. Representatives from the bereaved families will also take part in the ceremony.
Following the dedication ceremony, Rivlin will visit the Dachau concentration camp. He will then fly to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Munich Olympics terror attack haunts Israeli widow
On September 5, 1972, Palestinian militants from the Black September group jumped over the fences at the Olympic Village, entered one of the apartments of the Israeli team and took 11 Israeli athletes hostage who were later killed in a botched rescue operation. The militants wanted the release of more than 200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Ankie Spitzer lost her husband, Andre, in the attack. He was the coach for the Israeli fencing team and killed during the rescue attempt. Spitzer and relatives of the other victims spent decades asking the Olympic Committee for a formal acknowledgement and a ceremony for the victims inside the Olympic village. Although there is a commemorative plague outside the apartment where the hostages were held, and a sculpture in the Olympic Park, it is only now, 45 years after attack, that a permanent memorial and a museum will be opened in memory of the victims.
It took 45 years for the German authorities to finally build this memorial and a museum in Munich. How do you feel about that?
We wanted some place that reminded the world about what happened at the Olympic village. In 1978, Ilana Romano (widow of weightlifter Yossi Romano) and I asked then Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher if the building where it happened could be turned into a small museum. And they said no, it is private property. This went on for many years. We wanted the history to be told, the biographies to be shown and we wanted also an educational part so that young people can learn about it. For us the opening will be a mixture of emotions, on the one hand we're very grateful that it will finally open, on the other hand very sad because we know what happened there.
Why do you think took it so long for German authorities to go ahead with the memorial?
It should have been the most simple and basic thing. But I am sure at that time, after the attack in 1972, we were facing officials who were totally uninterested. I saw it also as antisemitism. But today, the new generation of leaders in Germany have a different mindset and don't carry the burden of the history, of the Nazi-past and they understood why it is necessary to do it.
Right after the attack, the German authorities had a very hostile and humiliating attitude towards us. One of the German officials told me after the attack: 'You Israelis, you brought terrorism on German soil. You brought your war to Germany.' For 20 years we asked for the ballistic reports, for the pathological reports. We wanted to know what happened to our husbands. For 20 years they told us, we don't have those files. Until 1992, when the German authorities had to admit that they had all the files.

Entry Denied: Anti-Semitic Hate Preacher Barred From Visiting UK
The former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, has been barred from entering the UK as part of a delegation organised by the pro-Palestinian group EuroPal.
Sheikh Sabri is the current imam of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. He has previously called for the destruction of Britain and the U.S. as well as displaying a long record of anti-Semitic hate speech. As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, he was due to be in Britain from 11 to 15 September with a visit to the Houses of Parliament on his itinerary.
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) report they have seen an email sent to all MPs informing them the sheikh and one other member of the touring party have “both been unsuccessful in obtaining an entry visa for technical reasons, and therefore will not be joining the delegation.”
CUFI launched an online petition to stop the visit that currently stands with over 18,000 signatures of support.
Chris Williamson Tweets Fake Mandela Quote
Top Corbynista Chris Williamson has once again made a fool of himself by tweeting a fake ‘quote’ purportedly from Nelson Mandela. The shadow minister tweeted a graphic attributing the following words to the South African icon:
“Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.”
Problem is Mandela never said it. The made-up quote was part of a satirical post on the extremist website Electronic Intifada. As Electronic Intifada itself admits, the quote “has been repeatedly mistaken for an actual letter from Mandela. It is not. It is a piece of satire”. Another stunning Chris Williamson success…
The accidental Zionist
I was staunchly pro-Palestinian when I arrived at Georgetown University to begin studying for an MA in Arab Studies in the fall of 1995, or at least I thought so.
I had read Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem in college a few years earlier and accepted the basic conclusion that Israel’s unwillingness to compromise had become the primary obstacle to Middle East peace.
If any place might have been expected to shepherd this eager young mind into accepting “progressive” orthodoxy on Israel, it would have been Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS).
There I received a solid grounding in post-colonial theory, revisionist historiography of Israel, and so forth.
Radical though their views may have been, I don’t recall many CCAS faculty caring much what I thought of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and few were involved in the kind of campus activism that is de rigueur among academics today. The roster of guest lecturers hosted at CCAS’s spacious, elegantly appointed boardroom was another story, however, and notices for anti-Israel events throughout the Washington, DC, area were routinely advertised on the center’s bulletin board. Going to them was the cool thing to do, and I attended more than I care to admit.
However, while I remained sympathetic to the Palestinian experience, I found interacting with other sympathizers increasingly intolerable. My immersion into the anti-Israeli movement brought me face to face with peer antisemitism for the first time, primarily among European and American students who shared much the same liberal outlook as myself.
Oddly enough, I don’t recall any disparaging talk about Jews (albeit plenty about Israel) from Arab students at Georgetown, some of whom went out of their way to befriend Jewish students and faculty. It was Western students who said the darndest things.
New CEO of Center for Jewish History Holds Radical Viewpoints
The new CEO of the Center for Jewish History (CJH), David N. Myers, is a leader of the New Israel Fund, and holds leadership positions at IfNotNow and J Street. Myers also has extreme viewpoints — including supporting “some forms” of boycotts against Israel.
CJH, which serves as the biggest repository of Jewish history in the United States, has made an unfit choice in Mr. Myers.
Myers’ writings (which are available for perusal at Nakbaeducation.com) include claiming “that the deep wound of the Nakba must finally be exposed to the light of day.”
He has also written of “…the essential step of acknowledging Israel’s role in the dispossession of Palestinian Arabs,” and quotes Uri Avinery’s wartime memoir, which alleges “cruelty, indifference and violence by Israeli soldiers towards Palestinian Arabs.”
IfNotNow — a group that Myers made an impassioned December 2016 fundraising appeal for — is an organization dedicated to “stopping the occupation,” and “wants mainstream American Jewish organizations to publicly oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.” According to Haaretz, the organization holds “…sit-ins in the lobbies of buildings housing Jewish groups” to protest them for not condemning Israel’s West Bank “occupation.” The group’s members have been arrested while holding sit-ins at the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel International, AIPAC and the Jewish Federation — and they refuse to meet with the leaders of these organizations.
SPME BDS Monitor: The Coming Year on Campus
Perceiving the “antifa” movement as a useful fig leaf, leading BDS activists David Palumbo-Lio and Bill Mullen announced that they were organizing a “campus antifascist network.” By virtue of the organizers alone, this new organization will likely label Israel and its supporters “fascists.”
Whether or not the new network succeeds in mobilizing what some say is an increasingly violent “antifa” movement, we believe that physical threats to Jews and others on campus will increase as a result. Furthermore, this movement has been validated by some academics, some of whom explicitly reject the concept of free speech and liberal democracy. Campus violence and intimidation have increased steadily during 2017, and they are likely to continue trending upwards.
Colleges and universities have responded to this violence by canceling “controversial” events and speakers, setting onerous security requirements, or, as was seen at Berkeley in the spring semester, by giving left-wing forces license to riot. Labeling individuals or groups as “alt-right,” “fascist” or “conservative” will have an impact on campus life, as will expanding efforts to eradicate symbols, such as statues and names deemed offensive. These trends could pose dual threats to campus supporters of Israel, and to free speech as a whole.
Outside of academia, the BDS movement tried to equate Zionism with “white supremacy” when BDS leader and progressive icon Linda Sarsour stated at a protest against the National Football League, “We will not be silenced by blue lives matter — by white supremacists — by neo Nazis — by right-wing Zionists. Expect us anytime there is a fight for justice or a fight against injustice.” The allegation that “right-wing Zionism” was akin to “white supremacy” was echoed by some elements of the media, and is featured in a new BDS campaign.
CAIR Forms an Outpost at Georgetown U
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) "will always hold a very, very special place in my heart until the day I die," declared Arsalan Iftikhar on April 1 at CAIR-Oklahoma's annual awards banquet in Oklahoma City. The commentator's affection for the Hamas-derived, Islamist CAIR has now landed him a position at Georgetown University's fount of Islamist propaganda, the anti-"Islamophobia" Bridge Initiative.
Iftikhar will fit right in at Bridge, a "multi-year research project" of Georgetown's Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU). Bridge's claim "to fulfill Thomas Jefferson's dream of a 'well-informed citizenry'" is laughable to anyone familiar with ACMCU's Potemkin village of academic integrity. Past ACMCU speakers have included 9/11 Truthers, while the center disinvited an Egyptian neo-Nazi only after public outcry.
With Iftikhar's hire, Bridge/ACMCU becomes effectively a branch of CAIR, as this self-proclaimed "Muslim Guy" worked with CAIR beginning in 2000 while in law school and then served as CAIR's national legal director until 2007. At CAIR he formed relationships with other organizational leaders, including his fellow banquet speaker and "dear brother" Hassan Shibly, a radical Israel-hater and Hamas- and Hezb'allah-supporter. Such are the less than pacific associations of Iftikhar, a "proud American Muslim pacifist."
Reminiscent of the Soviet Union's savvy spokesman Vladimer Pozner, Iftikhar has functioned as an Islamism apologist whose sophistic excuses mask threats with a benign visage. He strains to suggest that disproportionate attention to terrorism exaggerates jihadist violence, which he claims are merely isolated acts. There is a "double standard that exists today where terrorism only applies to when brown Muslim men commit an act of mass murder," he stated at a 2016 Newseum panel in Washington, D.C.
Michael Lumish: This Week on Nothing Left
This Michael Burd and Alan Freedman expose the treatment by Jewish communal leaders to the newly formed Australian Jewish Association. Listen to the organisation's convenor Dr David Adler explain what the organisation is all about.
Michael and Alan also speak live with Senator Cory Bernardi about the success of his Australian Conservatives party and their policies, and catch up the Nitsana Darshan-Leitner from Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Centre) as she wraps up her speaking tour of Australia.
The guys hear from American political commentator Jonathan S Tobin and are delighted to welcome back Isi Leibler's segment from Jerusalem.
3 min Editorial: Australian Jewish Association
12 min Senator Cory Bernardi, Australian Conservatives
32 min Dr David Adler, Australian Jewish Association
51 min Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Shurat HaDin
1 hr 11 Jonathan S Tobin, political commentator
1 hr 31 Isi Leibler, Jerusalem
AFP Dissembles: Palestinian Clown Incarcerated for Activity in 'Leftist' Group
Only in the seventh paragraph does the article finally mention PFLP (and even here it downplays PFLP's status as a terror group), ie the reason for his imprisonment:
Israel's Shin Bet security agency accused him of being a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the Jewish state considers a terrorist group because of its armed wing.
As previously noted, it's not just the Jewish state which considers PFLP a terrorist group -- also the European Union, the United States and Canada have bestowed this inglorious status on the organization. Notably, the organization pioneered numerous international airlines hijackings in the 1970s. (On his Facebook page, Abu Sakha includes a photograph of notorious PFLP hijacker Leila Khaled.)
According to the organization's "Editorial Standards and Best Practices," AFP journalists are "expected to provide accurate, balanced and impartial news coverage." In other words: no dissembling.
New York Times Review Hails Book Accusing US of ‘Blind,’ ‘Fanatical’ Support of Israel
The latest issue of the New York Times Book Review devotes its entire front page (and most of a second page inside) to a glowing review of Suzy Hansen’s new book, Notes On A Foreign Country: An American Abroad In A Post-American World.
The Times-picked reviewer gushes that the book is “rare and necessary…admirable.” It also claims that the book “is spoken softly rather than screamed.” The book’s author, Hansen, “is a contributing writer for the Times magazine.”
And then we get this strange and glancing mention of the Jewish state. The review explains that Hansen “asks why, given the extent to which America has shaped the modern Middle East — the lives it ended, the countries it fractured, the demons it created, its frantic and fanatical support of Israel — it ‘did not feel or care to explore what that influence meant.’”
“Frantic and fanatical support of Israel”? Is this the same America that for decades, under administrations of both political parties, has refused to move its embassy to Israel’s capital in Jerusalem? The same America that, under President Obama, agreed to an Iran nuclear deal that the Israeli government vociferously opposed, a deal that President Trump has so far not undone? The same America that, also during the Obama administration, declined to veto a UN Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements a violation of international law?
The Times doesn’t quibble with this characterization of “frantic and fanatical support of Israel” or with its implicit suggestion that America’s support for Israel is excessive. Nor does the Times review probe further on the topic.
IsraellyCool: Facebook Fine With Antisemitic Blood Libels
It has apparently been reported for years and..nada.
Well, perhaps that is not entirely true. You see, I cannot view the page – this is what I see when I click on the link.
And I suspect this is true for everyone in Israel.
But if you outside of Israel, you see the page. I know this, because reader Ariel confirmed it for me and sent me the above screenshots.
After sending me Facebook’s response to his reporting of the page.
Think about it for a second. Facebook decided this page full of antisemitic filth is not against its Community Standards – yet seems to have made it invisible to those of us in Israel – probably because it offends all of us pesky Jews living here.
Bear in mind also the types of pages and posts that Facebook has seen fit to ban.
How is this possibly ok? I am really at a loss for words.
Israeli satirist pranks German nationalist party on Facebook
A Berlin-based Israeli satirist said he and others have succeeded in using fake profiles to join, then take over, about three dozen Facebook pages that support the nationalist Alternative for Germany party.
Shahak Shapira, who calls himself “propaganda leader” of the satirical German political party “The Party,” an ironic use of the Nazi party position of “Reichspropagandaleiter,” told The Associated Press on Monday that he and others “infiltrated” the groups over 11 months.
The groups, which Shapira said seem to be run by bots, had been popping up in the run-up to Germany’s September 24 election, and he said they were “mostly used to spread AfD ads, fake news, and sometimes hate speech.”
“We’re trying to show how people are being manipulated, not only to everyone else, but also to the people who are being manipulated,” he said. “Maybe there’s something they can take away from it if you show them they’re being fooled and not only fooled by humans, but by algorithms.”
AfD has been running largely on an anti-immigration platform and has lost popularity in recent months, though it still receives between about 8 and 10 percent support in recent polls. The party did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the stunt.
A BBC backgrounder claims ‘sketchy’ evidence of PA terror rewards
In January 2007 the BBC News website published a backgrounder titled “Analysis: Palestinian suicide attacks“. Over a decade later that item (apparently prompted by a terror attack in Eilat on the same day) is still available online and that means that audiences still encounter BBC content which tells them that:
“Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority of funding some suicide attacks and rewarding the families of attackers. Evidence for this has been sketchy.”
In order to make that latter statement, the anonymous writer of this backgrounder had to ignore a wealth of evidence that had at the time already been in the public domain for several years including documentation of PA funding of terrorism seized during the second Intifada.
Evidence of the Palestinian Authority’s financial rewards to the families of terrorists was also abundant by the time those words were written and payments to terrorists in Israeli prisons and their families were enshrined in PA legislation more than two years before that 2007 backgrounder was published.
As regular readers are no doubt aware, that practice has continued throughout the last decade and salaries for convicted terrorists, benefits for released prisoners and payments to the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks have become part of the PA’s annual budget.
BBC audiences in the dark on Iranian terror financing yet again
Readers may recall that when the JCPOA deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers was closed just over two years ago, senior BBC correspondents assured audiences that funds freed up by sanctions relief would be used by the Iranian regime to improve the country’s economy.
“President Rouhani was elected because people hoped that he would end Iran’s isolation and thus improve the economy. So the windfall that they will be getting eventually, which is made up of frozen revenues – oil revenues especially –around the world, ah…there are people who argue that look; that will go to try to deal with loads and loads of domestic economic problems and they’ll have trouble at home if they don’t do that. If people – the argument goes on – are celebrating in Iran about the agreement, it’s not because they’ll have more money to make trouble elsewhere in the region; it’s because things might get better at home.” Jeremy Bowen, PM, BBC Radio 4, July 14th, 2015
“In exchange it [Iran] will get a lot. It will get a release of the punishing sanctions. We heard from Hassan Rouhani saying as Iran always says that the sanctions did not succeed but he conceded that they did have an impact on the everyday lives of Iranians. There’s an estimate that some $100 billion will, over time, once Iran carries out its implementation of this agreement, will be released into the Iranian economy.” Lyse Doucet, Newshour, BBC World Service radio, July 14th, 2015.

Many Middle East observers will not have been surprised by the fact that the last two years have repeatedly shown that the BBC’s analysis was off the mark. Recently, yet another example of Iranian terror financing was publicised.
Mossad to release secret files about Nazi 'Angel of Death' Mengele
Previously classified Mossad files about the spy agency’s unsuccessful attempts to capture notorious Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele will be available to the public later this week.
The reports, photographs and maps from the code-named “Meltzer File” about the chase after the so-called ‘Angel of Death’ are among three volumes put together by the Mossad’s history unit about operations to capture Nazi war criminals spanning from 1959 to 1991.
The documents were recently passed on by the Mossad to Yad Vashem; its publishing will mark the first time Israel’s intelligence agency is publicly releasing such files, in acknowledgment of the historic importance of their content.
The author of the study is Yosef Chen, 81, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who came to Israel on the “Exodus” ship in 1947 and joined the Mossad in 1976. He spent the last 7 to 8 years working on this book.
One of the documents, viewed by The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew language sister publication Maariv, contains the conclusion of secret cabinet meeting called by then-prime minister Menachem Begin in 1977: “We decided to instruct the Mossad to renew the search for Nazi war criminals, especially Joseph Mengele, with a view to bring them to trial in Israel. If they cannot be brought to trial – kill them.”
4 UK soldiers arrested over neo-Nazi activity, terror charges
Four British soldiers and alleged members of a banned neo-Nazi group were arrested on Tuesday for terror offenses, police said.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense confirmed that the men — arrested on suspicion of being members of the outlawed far-right group, National Action — were serving members of the army.
Last December, National Action became the first far-right group to be outlawed by the government — six months after the assassination of lawmaker Jo Cox by a far-right sympathizer.
Membership or inviting support for the organization is a criminal offense carrying a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment.
The four suspects are being held “on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism,” West Midlands police said in a statement.
British couple pleads guilty to anti-Semitic attack at wedding
A British couple pleaded guilty in court to launching an anti-Semitic attack outside a London synagogue during a wedding.
Ineta Winiarski, 33, and her partner, Kasimiersz Winiarski, 62, from Hackney, a borough of London, pleaded guilty in Thames magistrates’ court to racially aggravated assault and assault, respectively, The Times reported.
The couple attacked guests outside of the Clapton Common Synagogue Kehal Yetev Lev in east London on July 3. They pushed and struck guests and whipped them with a dog leash, the prosecution told the court, according to The Times. Ineta Winiarski shouted anti-Semitic epithets while striking guests.
They are set to be sentenced on Tuesday. Magistrate Caroline Dillon allowed the two to remain out on bail until the sentencing. She said she did not sentence them immediately “because we need to find out more about your behavior before sentencing,” the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.
When Boston was America’s ‘capital’ of anti-Semitism
You won’t find it mentioned along the city’s “Freedom Trail” route, but Boston was once home to a thriving network of Nazi supporters. Not only did the Cradle of Liberty’s anti-Semitic activists receive funds and direction from Berlin, they also helped incite “small pogroms” against Jews well into the war.
During the same years as the Holocaust, “marauding anti-Semitic bands severely restricted the physical movement of many Jews in [Boston and New York], rendering it difficult for them to carry on normal religious, business, or social activities,” wrote Stephen H. Norwood, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma.
In Boston and elsewhere, anti-Jewish incitement was fueled by Father Charles Coughlin, the “founder of hate radio.” Although he was based in Michigan, Coughlin’s largest following was in Boston, where members of his Christian Front heeded the priest’s calls to organize boycotts and mass mailings against Jews.
Israeli ride-sharing company raises $250M, eyes Europe
Israeli ride-sharing company Via announced Monday that it had raised what it described as a "strategic investment" of $250 million from investors. The company said it plans to use the funds to expand into Europe as well as to work more closely on other business opportunities.
Via has developed a shuttle-based carpooling service that it offers directly in the U.S. for a flat-rate starting at $5, as well as through platform partnerships with other transportation providers. Offering ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft a run for their money, Via now looks to expand outside of the U.S., according to a report in Techcrunch.com,
The current fundraising round is led by German automaker Daimler, which is investing $50 million in a joint venture with Via to develop shuttle services throughout Europe, with the rest of the funds coming from private investors and venture capital funds. The Via-Daimler venture aims to allow transport organizations and local authorities in Europe to streamline their transport systems by using Via's technology.
Established in 2012, Via has 200 employees, 100 of whom are based in Israel. To date, the company has raised $137 million, excluding the current round, from investors such as Pitango Venture Capital, 83North, C4 Ventures, Ervington Investments, Expansion Venture Capital, Hearst Ventures, Kapor Capital, Lior Prosor, Planven, Bank Hapoalim, RiverPark, and billionaire Roman Abramovich.
The company said it plans to recruit dozens of developers, products designers, researchers and software engineers in Israel in the coming year.
As floodwaters recede, Israeli disaster aid is in Houston for the long haul
Niv Rabino arrived home to Haifa earlier this week after completing a stint as head of IsraAID‘s mission on the Greek island of Lesvos. For nine months, Rabino oversaw the humanitarian aid organization’s intensive work supporting the medical and psychosocial needs of Middle Eastern and African refugees stuck in camps waiting for permission to migrate to the European mainland. He was looking forward to some time off.
Then Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, and Rabino knew his vacation was going to have to be postponed. IsraAID immediately put together a response team, and he offered to join. It was obvious that the people of Texas needed help, but there was also a personal reason why Rabino wanted to jump on a plane to the US: His brother’s 11-year-old daughter was caught up in the flooding.
“She had gone from Tel Aviv to Houston on vacation with her grandmother to visit relatives. Fortunately, they were able to ride out the storm by holing up with 15 other people on the second floor of the relatives’ house for three days,” Rabino told The Times of Israel.
It was the only house on the block with two floors, so neighbors crowded in, as well. They fortunately had food and water with them to last until the flood water on the first floor receded.
“My niece was brave about it, but I can see that it was a trauma for her from the way she talks about it,” Rabino said.
Summer may be gone, but Israel's concert scene is still heating up
The summer might be over, but that doesn't mean the concert season in Israel is ending.
And a summer which saw shows from Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Radiohead, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses and more, the winter has its own lineup.
Throughout the fall and winter months a slew of international performers will be gracing Israel with rock, hip hop, dance and alternative music - undoubtedly something for everyone.
First up is Peaches, the Canadian electronic musician, who is performing this Wednesday, September 6, in Tel Aviv. Daringly mixing the sounds of punk, hip hop and electro, the incomparable Peaches will be performing in Israel for the first time ever, at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv. The Ontario-born, Jewish-raised singer and songwriter has long explored themes of gender and gender identity in her music.
Next up will be The Pretenders, the British-American rockers best known for their hits "I'll Stand By You," "Back on the Chain Gang" and "Brass in Pocket." But don't expect the full original band (two are dead after all) - lead singer Chrissie Hynde is the only member of its first lineup remaining. But that won't stop them from putting on quite a show at Heichal Hamenorah in Tel Aviv on September 23 - right after the end of Rosh Hashana. It'll be the first show for The Pretenders in Israel.
If you haven't had enough of aging British rockers after that, then you'll be thrilled to hear that Cliff Richards is coming to town in October. The man behind 14 No. 1 hits in the UK, including "Living Doll," "Mistletoe and Wine," "We Don't Talk Anymore" and "Congratulations" will be taking the stage Heichal Hamenora on October 10, during Sukkot. His last performance in Israel was in 2013.
And if that's not enough nostalgia for you, Canadian singer and songwriter Bryan Adams will perform a whopping three shows in Israel - two in Tel Aviv and one in Jerusalem in December. The man behind the massive hits "Run to You," "Summer of '69," "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" will take the stage on December 4, 5 and 6.
Will any other international artists be arriving in Israel before the end of 2017? That remains to be seen.
Oh, boy! Boy George to arrive in Israel for November concert
The rumors had been swirling, but now it’s official: iconic UK pop singer Boy George will be performing in Israel in November.
George, the 56-year-old known for his eclectic style and androgynous look, will be taking the stage with his original band, Culture Club, on November 7 at Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv.
George and the rest of Culture Club – Roy Hay, Mikey Craig and Jon Moss – formed in the 1980s and were responsible for some of the biggest hits of that decade. From “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” to “Karma Chameleon,” “Time (Clock of the Heart)” and “The War Song,” the band gained international fame.
In 1986 they broke up, and George pursued a solo career.
But 30 years later, in 2016, they reunited and launched an international tour, hitting dozens of cities across the globe. The band will head from Tel Aviv to Iceland, and then New York.
The last time George performed in Israel was in 2014, when he took part in the opening events of Gay Pride Week in Eilat. He also played in Israel in 2010, and performed with the Culture Club in 1985.
Her Wagner Routine Nixed, Bolshoi Ballerina Rocks Jerusalem with ‘Schindler’s List’
When Svetlana Zakharova—the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi ballet, nicknamed the Tsarina of Dance—was asked to perform in Jerusalem this Monday, she knew precisely to what music she’d like to Plié. But when she informed the organizing committee of her selection, she received a terse and immediate reply: We don’t play Wagner in the Jewish State.
The ban on the composer, Hitler’s favorite, is a recurring controversy dogging Israel’s classical music community. In 2001, for example, Daniel Barenboim got audience members shrieking when he announced, after playing Schumann and Stravinsky, that he’d now lead his Berlin Staatskapelle orchestra in selections from Tristan and Isolde. Many present stormed out of the concert hall, and the ban on the German composer continued in full force.
Instead of dancing to Wagner, then, Zakharova did a real En Tournant and announced that she’ll perform to the soundtrack from Schindler’s List instead. Here it is, if you’re in to that sort of thing:
Israel Approves ‘Gospel Trail’ Cable Car to Enhance Christian Tourism
Israel’s cabinet on Sunday approved the construction of the “Gospel Trail” cable car that, when completed, will run between Upper Nazareth and the lower slopes of Mount Tabor in order to enhance access to Christian tourist sites in the area.
The project in Israel’s northern region is a collaborative effort between Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee Aryeh Deri and the municipality of Upper Nazareth.
The initiative aims to attract millions of international tourists and religious pilgrims, in addition to Israeli visitors.
“The cable car will enrich the tourist experience and help bring the large numbers of incoming tourists who visit Nazareth to also visit Upper Nazareth, thereby contributing to the local economy,” said Levin.
Levin’s Tourism Ministry is slated to allocate some $168,000 towards the project, with Deri’s ministry providing around $112,000 for engineering expenses.
“The Galilee in general and the Nazareth ridge in particular is an area in which rich history and ancient traditions are intertwined,” said Deri. “The cable car is good news for the people of the Galilee and the area’s many visitors — tourists from Israel and overseas.”
US police train in counterterrorism in Israel, attend 9/11 memorial
For the second consecutive year, the Police Unity Tour, a delegation of 52 American law-enforcement officers from 12 states, arrived in Israel to train in counterterrorism techniques and attend an annual 9/11 memorial service outside Jerusalem.
According to the delegation’s leader, Michael Safris, chief of the Essex County’s Sheriff’s Office Deputy Division, the Police Unity Tour was established in 1997 to honor officers killed in the line of duty.
“We are here to honor fallen police officers from the US and Israel,” he said on Monday.
“The motto of the Police Unity Tour is ‘We ride for those who died,’ and last year when we came here we did a one-day bike tour with Israeli officers, and in May we had 12 Israeli officers ride with us from New Jersey to our police memorial in Washington, DC, to participate in a candle-lighting vigil for fallen US officers,” Safris said.
During their stay, the US delegation will be based at the Beit Shemesh police academy, where they will participate in multiple counterterrorism training exercises, meet with elite units, and be briefed by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich.
The delegation will conclude following a September 11 memorial service held at the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza in the Arazim Valley.

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