Thursday, October 19, 2017

From Ian:

Report: UN Promoting Anti-Semitic Hate Groups, Terrorism
The United Nations has formally endorsed and approved scores of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate groups that promote terrorism against Jews from within the halls of Turtle Bay and elsewhere, according to a new report that exposes how these organizations have been granted privileged status by the U.N., potentially in violation of the international body's own bylaws.

The U.N. has formally accredited scores of non-profit organizations that use their legitimacy to spread anti-Semitic propaganda promoting terrorism against Israel and Jews, according to an in-depth new expose by Human Rights Voices, a watchdog organization.

The report, which provides pictorial evidence of this behavior, exposes how these organizations use their U.N.-accredited stature to slander the Jewish state and promote terror groups such as Hamas.

The report is likely to galvanize the Trump administration and pro-Israel supporters in Congress to further scrutinize the U.N.'s systematic promotion of anti-Israel propaganda, according to those familiar with the matter.

The Trump administration has already removed the United States from a U.N. cultural organization known as UNESCO due to its repeated efforts to pass anti-Israel resolutions that claim Jewish historical sites do not belong to the state of Israel.
Evelyn Gordon: Outside the UN, BDS Is Losing Badly
Until now, because most boycott initiatives have been small-scale, it’s been possible for people who advocate “just boycotting the settlements” to ignore what that actually means. The irony is large-scale initiatives like the UNHRC blacklist, by publicly spelling out exactly what it entails, make it much harder for people to keep ignoring the truth: that “boycotting the settlements” actually means boycotting Israel.

Nevertheless, this realization isn’t going to sink in without a lot of work on the part of both the Israeli government and Jewish and pro-Israel activists worldwide. Indeed, that’s one of the main lessons of the victories to date.

When the BDS movement first emerged, many well-meaning people advocated ignoring it rather than fighting it on the grounds that fighting it would simply inflate the importance of an otherwise insignificant movement. But victories like those of the past few weeks show why that strategy was wrong. The growing understanding that BDS is anti-Semitic didn’t happen because Israel and overseas activists ignored the movement; it happened because both the Israeli government and overseas activists relentlessly explained the connection between boycotting Israel and anti-Semitism. And a similar effort will be needed to explain that “boycotting the settlements” is just a euphemism for boycotting Israel.

Even though large swaths of polite society are now perfectly comfortable with anti-Semitism as long as they can tell themselves it’s just “anti-Zionism” or “fighting the occupation,” open avowals of anti-Semitism are still taboo. Once stripped of the comforting pretense that it’s not anti-Semitic, BDS will be finished. And groups like the Austrian student union and the Bavarian Green Party are now tearing that pretense to shreds.
Why Europe's New Nationalists Love Israel
There is another path, taken by the United States, which allows that every nation can be "almost chosen," in Lincoln's memorable phrase. It can emulate Israel without seeking to supercede it. What distinguishes American culture is the radical Protestant belief that the City of God cannot be realized in the City of Man, that life is a pilgrimage whose goal is ever beyond the horizon. This concept defines and shapes American literary as well as popular culture, as I tried to show in this essay.

The existence and success of the State of Israel changes everything. It is not merely a promise, spiritualized by Christianity into a vision of another life beyond this one, but a living, breathing people that punches above its weight in every field of human endeavor. Perhaps the people of Israel will help fulfill their mission to be a light unto the nations by example. Europe's new nationalists may attempt to emulate Israel not but superceding it or by asserting their claims for election against each other, but by seeking to identify its virtues.

Post-nationalist Europe bears an irrational hatred of Israel, I wrote in this space in 2014.
The flowering of Jewish national life in Israel makes the Europeans crazy. It is not simply envy: it is a terrible reminder of the vanity of European national aspirations over the centuries, of the continent's ultimate failure as a civilization. Just as the Europeans (most emphatically the Scandinavians) would prefer to dissolve into the post-national stew of European identity, they demand that Israel do the same. Never mind that Israel lacks the option to do so, and would be destroyed were it to try, for reasons that should be obvious to any casual consumer of news media.

It is too early to judge the direction of the new European nationalism, which has some elements that make me cringe, and some that make me release the safety-catch on my Browning. But it also has men and women who do not want to disappear into the dustbin of history and look to Israel for inspiration. (h/t Elder of Lobby)



The Zionist Uncle Who Changed the World
A s Jews in England and around the world prepare to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, let us pause to ponder the respective legacies of Edwin Montagu and Lewis Dembitz. The names of these two Jews are largely unknown today, but they were, each in his own way, central players in the saga of the declaration, and therefore in one of the seminal moments in Jewish history. The former, a dedicated anti-Zionist, did everything he could to prevent this moment from occurring; the latter made his home thousands of miles from Britain and went to his grave surely unaware that the honorable way he lived his life, every day, would one day help bring the Balfour Declaration, and thereby the Jewish State, into existence.

Edwin Montagu was born into the one of the wealthiest Jewish families in England. He was the son of Samuel Montagu, who had been raised to British peerage but was known first and foremost for his zealous observance of Jewish law and for his sympathies to Zionism. Edwin’s life was lived in rebellion against his patrimony; like many members of the Jewish aristocracy known as “The Cousinhood,” he hated Zionism and its notion that Jews all around the world were one people and bound to one another. This, he believed, was not only false, but also raised the specter of dual loyalty for Jews seeking assimilation and aristocratic elevation in Britain. To Britain’s prime minister, David Lloyd George, Montagu complained, “All my life I have been trying to get out of the ghetto; you want to force me back there.”

In 1917, Montagu received the India portfolio in George’s cabinet; he was known for his sympathy for the nationalist aspirations of the Indians but not for those of other Jews. As the only Jewish member of George’s cabinet, Montagu participated in a public anti-Zionist statement asserting that Zionism “regards all the Jewish communities of the world as constituting one homeless nationality,” a notion that the statement “strongly and energetically protests.” Zionism, argued the statement, “must have the effect of stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands.”

There were prominent British Jews favorable to the Zionist project, including Montagu’s cousin Herbert Samuel. Yet as the British writer Chaim Bermant notes, Montagu was a “particularly formidable opponent, arguing both from the standpoint of the assimilated Jew and as Secretary of State for India.” If the efforts of Montagu were ultimately in vain, it was because the most politically powerful Jew in England was foiled by the most politically powerful Jew in America: Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Brandeis had been raised with no Judaism at all and for much of his life approached Zionism in the same manner as Montagu. In 1905, he informed a Jewish audience that there was no place in the United States for “hyphenated Americans,” adding as late as 1910 that “habits of living or of thought which tend to keep alive differences of origin or classify men according to the religious beliefs are inconsistent with the American ideal of brotherhood, and are disloyal.” Yet he did know of one Jew who clearly saw no contradiction between public Jewishness and patriotic Americanism. That was his mother’s brother, a lawyer by the name of Lewis Dembitz.
JPost Ediorial: HOPE FOR UNESCO
In keeping with the spirit of the Jewish New Year, UNESCO may be trying to repent its notorious anti-Israel behavior by electing a French Jew to head the organization whose self-declared mission is to reform it. The fact that the experienced diplomat Audrey Azoulay defeated a reputedly antisemitic Qatari diplomat for the job is the honey on our apple.

It is no coincidence that Azoulay’s victory in the race follows quickly on a US decision to pull out from the UN agency, citing its undeniable anti-Israel bias, an exit that was immediately echoed by its favorite victim, Israel.

The new and (one wishes) improved UNESCO suddenly brings hope for the future under its new management, not the least due to the resolution filed last week in Washington by Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Matt Gaetz defending Israel and condemning UNESCO , including an endorsement to reconsider backing out if reform does occur.

In her upset victory, the former French culture minister defeated Qatari diplomat Hamad Bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari just when the organization was seen ready to continue its anti-historic campaign against the Jewish people by choosing its first Arab leader. The dark horse Azoulay was nominated at the last moment by lame duck president François Hollande and actively supported by France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, who enlisted French diplomacy to deliver her unprecedented win.
'Restore integrity to UNESCO'
Dear Mrs. Azoulay,

Please accept my heartfelt congratulations on your election as Director General of UNESCO.

In recent years we have been watching in sorrow as this important organization has been losing its professional prestige whilst becoming a tool for political attacks against the state of Israel and against the entire Jewish People. The organization, which has championed the value of imparting historical heritage, is losing its way when it comes to Israel and our important historical sites.

The organization's resolutions have become professionally and historically baseless, serving as a propaganda tool for rewriting history.

This trend has culminated in the recent distorted decisions regarding the declaration of the Temple Mount and of the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian Heritage sites, completely ignoring the deep connection of the Jewish People to these sites, treating them as a foreign occupier.

These heritage sites and other archaeological sites in the Land of Israel, are a remarkable expression of the extraordinary affinity of the Jewish People to the historical and sacred regions of our people. Whatever the opinion of any individual regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, there can be no denial of the deep connection of the Jewish People to sites such as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

As the Minister of Culture, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the preservation of historical sites are an important part of my portfolio. In that capacity, I have condemned UNESCO's resolutions on Israel, and have strengthened and supported our Prime Minister, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu, in his decision to join the United States in announcing our withdrawal from the organization.
Israeli President Rivlin: "Israel Is Not Compensation for the Holocaust"
What do 130 Christian broadcasters from 30 countries on five continents who collectively broadcast to more than a billion homes around the world do when seated in the reception hall while waiting for President Reuven Rivlin to make an appearance?

They sing, and the song they sing in Hebrew is “Oseh Shalom Bimromav” (“He who makes peace in His high places”).

It’s not the usual prelude to a meeting with the president of Israel. But then these are somewhat unusual friends of Israel, basing their friendship not on sharing Israel’s technology and other areas of know-how, but in their belief in the Bible.

When Rivlin entered the hall at the President’s Residence on Wednesday, there was a deafening, stand-up ovation.

The four-day event, the first annual Christian Media Summit, which culminated with the address of the president, gave participants the opportunity to view Israel beyond the conflict, and, most important, to experience all the diversity and excitement of Jerusalem.

For Rivlin, it was a chance to once again play his dynasty card with his favorite monologue. “I am a son of Jerusalem; the son of a son of Jerusalem; the son of a son of a son... a seventh generation Jerusalemite.”
Zionism, Explained to a Muslim Friend
A Muslim friend recently asked, "How can we discuss Zionism away from Judaism?" I offered to meet with her and explain it.

The offer has not thus far been taken up, and so I've decided to put my response to the question in writing.

There is a great deal of innocent misunderstanding about what Judaism and Zionism are, and the connection between them. There is also much deliberate obfuscation and misrepresentation in the service of a range of political agendas.

The standard mantra of anti-Israel activists is that Judaism and Zionism are entirely separate from one another. This is a convenient, but entirely false and artificial, rhetorical device for overcoming the widespread perception that many anti-Zionists are antisemites in disguise.

By attempting to separate Zionism from Judaism, anti-Zionists try to delude others (if not themselves) into thinking that one can plausibly claim not to hate the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, but "only" to hate the only Jewish-majority State in the world.
Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
B’nai Brith CEO maintains Waters making ‘anti-Israel statement’ at shows
As B’nai Brith Canada continued to tour its anti-Roger Waters documentary Wish You Weren’t Here, CEO Michael Mostyn responded to the Pink Floyd co-founder’s outburst at one of his recent Toronto concerts, in which he singled Mostyn out.

Before the intermission at his second Toronto concert at the Air Canada Centre on Oct. 3, Waters, a spokesperson for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, claimed that Mostyn said his shows feature “long, lengthy tirades against the country of Israel.”

“Well, we have 30,000 witnesses here tonight … along with 600,000 other witnesses who’ve been to my shows since we started, who also never heard a single word about Israel in any of my shows. So I just needed to mouth off for Michael Mostyn and that’s it,” said Waters.

Speaking to The CJN from Ottawa hours before a screening of the documentary, Mostyn said he was proud that Waters called him out while on stage.

“We’re very proud that he singled out B’nai Brith,” Mostyn said with a laugh, “because first of all, it means he took note of our campaign.

“He’s taking note of these film screenings that are taking place across the country, coinciding with his shows across the country, and it shows that it’s having an impact and that this campaign is very effective.”

He said the BDS movement itself is anti-Semitic, a point the documentary, which was produced by Canadian author and filmmaker Ian Halperin, tries to drive home.
Anti-Israel Student Org’s National Conference to Focus on U.S., Israel ‘Legacy of Exploitation’
The country's major anti-Israel student organization's upcoming national conference will focus on drawing connections between the "settler colonial" United States and "the Zionist project" of Israel.

The National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) annual conference, to be held at the University of Houston from Oct. 27-29, is themed, "A Reimagined World: Dismantling Walls from Palestine to the Rio Grande."

The group will demonstrate that the United States and Israel share a "distinct legacy of the displacement and theft, enslavement and disenfranchisement, and exploitation and domination of oppressed peoples," according to its website.

Those similarities include the countries' "militarized walls," or Israel's security barrier erected at the West Bank to stem terror activity and the U.S. border with Mexico; "raids" by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement linked to "home demolitions in '67 Palestine," a reference to the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria; and "the water in Gaza and the water of the Rio Grande."

With this being the group's first-ever conference held in the south, NSJP plans to explore the "multifaceted struggles" of the region. They will "intertwine black and Palestinian resistance histories and weave them into a collective liberation," like comparing the Great Migration with Israel's War of Independence.
Despite Threats, Arab Group Remains Committed to Defending Israel on US Campuses
A delegation of Israeli Arabs who are fighting the delegitimization of the Jewish state on college campuses remain committed to sharing their message in the United States, despite facing threats back home and unexpected obstacles from allies abroad.

The team — made up of Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bedouin and Palestinian volunteers — came on behalf of the advocacy group Reservists on Duty, and braved intense pressure to defend Israel publicly, RoD chief Amit Deri told The Algemeiner.

Dema Taya, a 25-year-old Israeli-Arab Muslim, said she received a barrage of abusive comments after her views on her country and plans to join the RoD tour were shared on Arab media.

“I received a lot of messages on Facebook threatening me and attacking me,” Taya recounted in an interview with The Algemeiner. “It was emotionally very difficult for me, because they wrote very harsh comments and insulted me personally, just because I am saying the truth … it was really painful.”

Taya added that some Arab outlets falsely reported that the RoD trip — organized in coordination with Students Supporting Israel — was actually planned by the Israeli government.

“Arab media just brainwashes the minds of young people,” she said. “There are more minorities, Muslim women and men, who think like me but they are afraid to talk because not everyone can stand in front of these attacks.”
Man convicted in plot to behead blogger over cartoon contest
A man who authorities say fell under the influence of the Islamic State group was convicted Wednesday of plotting to behead a conservative American blogger for organizing a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest.

Jurors found David Wright guilty of all charges, including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.

The 28-year-old from Everett, Massachusetts, faces up to life in prison when he's sentenced in December.

Federal officials called Wright's conviction a victory for America in its fight against terrorism.

"We can all sleep better now knowing that David Wright, a person who wanted to kill in the name of Islamic State, will no longer be free to walk the streets of the Commonwealth," said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Peter Kowenhoven.

Prosecutors said Wright, his uncle and a third man conspired to kill blogger Pamela Geller because they were upset she organized a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas in 2015. During the contest, two other men opened fire outside and wounded a security guard before they were killed in a shootout with law enforcement assigned to guard the event.
IsraellyCool: Fairfax “Journalist” Caught Making Stuff Up To Demonize Israel
After some years of some frosty relations, things seem back on track for Israel and New Zealand, which have been negotiating an innovation agreement that would see technology firms from both countries fast-tracked to receive funding from their respective government grants agencies.

There are those who do not support such an agreement, such as BDS-holes, as well as the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

And a recent Fairfax report seems to suggest that the reason for the latter’s objection could be BDS-related – specifically this photo and caption accompanying the story.

The only problem is this is an outright fabrication, and Jordan Williams, the New Zealand Taxpayer’s Union executive director, has angrily called them out on it.

The Union wishes to clarify that it is the nature of the agreement – that Callaghan Innovation’s corporate welfare R&D grants will favour companies working with a particular country – not that the agreement is with a particular country.

And in case you think this was an innocent mistake, the article is still up in its original form, 9 days after this objection was raised. No edit, no apology or retraction, no nothing.

Clearly, “journalist” Madison Reidy has an anti-Israel bias – besides the fabricated quote, note how she mentions Israel being in violent conflict with “Palestine,” not Gaza or the PA-controlled territories. And for Fairfax media to allow someone like this to write for them and then allow the lies to stand, even after the dishonesty has been pointed out, is an absolute disgrace.
BBC News ignores a case of UN anti-Israel bias
Despite the fact that numerous international companies do business in additional locations categorised as occupied territories (e.g. north Cyprus, Western Sahara), the UN Human Rights Council has not passed resolutions mandating the creation of a database of businesses operating in any location other than those it views as being occupied Israel.

In recent days BBC audiences have seen and heard a number of reports concerning the UN (for example here, here and here) in which the phrase anti-Israel bias was placed in scare quotes and that bias was described in qualifying terms such as “perceived”.

The BBC, however, has ignored the story of the letters sent by the UNHRC that demonstrate clear anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.
Dutch soccer fans ridicule child Holocaust victims on Twitter
Soccer fans in the Netherlands used a picture of child victims of the Holocaust to taunt a rival team in what Dutch activists against racism called “a new low” for anti-Semitic rhetoric in sports.

The photo featuring two toddlers wearing a yellow star was widely circulated on Twitter under the hashtag #anti020week. The digits are Amsterdam’s area code, which in soccer jargon references the city’s main soccer club, Ajax. The picture, in which one child appears to be nearing tears, also featured the caption “When 020 had only one star.”

Shared by many supporters of the Feyenoord team of Rotterdam, the photo offers an extreme example of how fans of Ajax rivals mock the memory of the Holocaust. Ajax players and supporters are often called “Jews” in recognition of the large Jewish community that had existed in the Dutch capital before 80 percent of its members were murdered in the Holocaust by Germans and Dutch collaborators. Some Ajax fans self-identify as Jews.

Past incidents included songs about burning Jews and the SS, and the use of gas and Hamas, but using archival photos of individual victims is unusual.
Teens arrested in vandalism at Jewish cemetery in Romania
Police in Romania arrested three teenagers accused of destroying 10 headstones at a Jewish cemetery.

The incident occurred over the weekend, police said in a statement Monday about the arrests near the northern city of Reghin, located 200 miles north of Bucharest, the capital.

The suspects allegedly smashed the headstones and drew a swastika on two gates, though police said the swastikas may have been painted on the gates months ago, the Agepres news website reported.

On Monday, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania said it was “shocked by this new antisemitic act of vandalism.”

“We emphasize that such cases require serious investigation and stiff punishment, in accordance with the legal provisions in force, because lax treatment opens the door to more and more serious violations of democracy,” the federation’s president, Aurel Vainer, said in a statement.

“It is not a coincidence that this outrageous incident took place only a week after the national commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust in Romania.”
Hungarian who helped Jews flee Holocaust honored in Budapest
A Hungarian who printed thousands of passports allowing Jews to flee the country during World War II has been honored with a memorial plaque.

Emil Wiesmeyer’s printing company initially made 4,000 of the basic passports, part of efforts by Swedish special envoy Raoul Wallenberg to save Jews from Nazi death camps.

He then produced about 20,000 more on his own to help Jews make it out of Hungary.

The plaque honoring Emil Wiesmeyer was unveiled Wednesday in Budapest by Szabolcs Szita, director of the Holocaust Memorial Center, and Swedish Ambassador Niclas Trouve

Some 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
Chinese Social Media Star Cries During Meeting With Holocaust Survivor in Israel
A Chinese social media star broke down in tears during a meeting with a famous 93-year-old Holocaust survivor in Israel, as part of an Israeli-Chinese cultural exchange.

Eight Chinese social media stars were brought to Israel as part of the Foreign Ministry’s “Young Chinese and Japanese leaders” program, which was created by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to strengthen ties between the Jewish state and Asian countries.

The eight bloggers have more than 35 million followers combined on China’s largest microblogging social media site, Sina Weibo, which is akin to an amalgam of Facebook and Twitter.

The bloggers met with 93-year-old Solomon Perel, the author of Europa Europa, a book that has been adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie based on his real-life story of impersonating a Hitler Youth member to survive the Holocaust.

One of the Chinese bloggers, Yan Jingsheng, who is a historian with six million social media followers, broke down in tears once he learned he was shaking the hand of the hero of Europa Europa.

“I read the book, I watched the movie, and I was moved to tears when I was suddenly face-to-face with this hero in real life. I never believed it could happen,” Jingsheng said, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Perel called meeting the Chinese stars an act of “divine providence.”
Israel pumps new water saving push, as Sea of Galilee dives to century low
In 2009, in the midst of what was dubbed “the worst drought in 900 years,” the Water Authority embarked on a public awareness campaign to reduce the country’s water consumption. Some people expected it would be the authority’s last.

In the past decade, five massive desalination plants have come online, transforming salty seawater into 600 million cubic meters of drinkable water per year, enough to cover 70 percent of the water used by homes and cities across the country. It seemed those ubiquitous “every drop counts” public service announcements were a relic of the past.

Not so fast, said Uri Schor, the spokesperson for Israel’s Water Authority, who is in the midst of designing a large public awareness campaign for early 2018 to encourage people to save water in their homes.

“The fact [that desalination] came online so quickly is amazing,” said Schor. “This hasn’t happened anywhere else in the world.”
WATCH: Czech president strongly defends Israel to European assembly
Milos Zeman, president of the Czech Republic, issued a resounding defense of Israel at an address to the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, France earlier this month.

After Zeman's main address on October 10, John Howell of the United Kingdom asked: "What can you do, and what can we do, to bring peace to the Middle East?"

"My response will be probably [a] deep disappointment for you," Zeman said. "I am a friend of Israel... deep friend of Israel, and that is why I think that peace in the Middle East [will] be based primarily on the safety of Israel."

"I know the history of all [the] wars starting [in] 1948," he continued. "Every war was victorious for Israel, but being defeated would mean the end of this state, the Jewish State, and I think, unfortunately, that in some countries or movements, let us mention Hezbollah, Hamas and others... there survives the tenancy to diminish Israel, to destroy Israel."

In conclusion, Zeman offered, "What to do in order to have peace in the Middle East? To disarm the terroristic organizations, and first of all, Hamas and Hezbollah."
Israel to keep funding feeding ground for migrating pelicans
Migrating pelicans can once again stop by for a mouthful of fish in Israel.

The Agriculture Ministry said Wednesday it would keep funding a pet project to feed thousands of Great White Pelicans who fly annually over the country.

The idea is to centralize their feeding ground at a central Israeli reservoir so the birds do not harm the livelihood of farmers by poaching fish from nearby breeding grounds.

The ministry had previously said it was going to stop the project, claiming it was not responsible for feeding migrating animals passing through from Europe to Africa. But under pressure from farmers and environmentalists, it reconsidered.
Samsung considers opening an AI research center in Israel
Dr. Kinam Kim, the president of the Semiconductor Business of Samsung Electronics’ Device Solutions Division, visited Israel in order to examine the option of building an Artificial Intelligence research center in the country, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on conditions of anonymity. Mr. Kinam is one of Samsung’s top executives.

If established, the research and development center would employ dozens of engineers, the person familiar with the matter said.

Samsung did not respond to requests for information.

On Monday, chip manufacturer Intel announced it is recruiting dozens of Artificial Intelligence engineers for a new research center in Israel, focused on AI and deep learning technologies. “AI is the hottest field in technology today,” said Yaniv Garty, CEO of Intel’s operations in Israel, in a company announcement on Monday.

Earlier this month, multinational retailer Amazon announced it is opening an Alexa research and development center in Israel, which will employ some 100 engineers, including AI engineers.

Samsung already operates a number of development centers in Israel, as well as a local marketing arm and several investment arms.
Israeli-founded Kite Pharma gets FDA nod for cancer therapy
The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Kite Pharma’s drug for a type of lymphoma based on a technology developed in Israel, in which the patient’s own immune cells fight the cancer.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, the Kite biopharmaceutical company was acquired by Gilead Sciences Inc. in August for about $12 billion in an all-cash deal. Kite was founded in 2009 by Israeli-American oncologist Arie Belldegrun, who studied at the Hebrew University and Weizmann Institute of Science. The chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (Car-T) technology that is at the heart of the medication was developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Gilead, which announced the FDA approval, said the list price for the drug, Yescarta, would be $373,000, for one administration of the medication for the treatment of large B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“The FDA approval of Yescarta is a landmark for patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma,” said Belldegrun. “We must also recognize the FDA for their ability to embrace and support transformational new technologies that treat life-threatening illnesses. We believe this is only the beginning for CAR-T therapies.”
Israel’s NRGene identifies mutation that causes colon cancer
Israel’s NRGene — the only company in the world to map the genome for bread, pasta and wild emmer wheat — has successfully identified a mutation that causes colon cancer, by means of a full analysis of a human family’s genomic profile, and has

“We have shown that our software is able to accurately, quickly and in a cheaper way identify genetic abnormalities and mutations in humans,” said Gil Ronen, the CEO and co-founder of NRGene, in a phone interview. “It can now be used to detect other genetic-borne diseases, from a peanuts allergy to cancer, to get early detection and hopefully prevention.”

After successfully and quickly mapping a number of genomes — of wild emmer wheat, the ancestor of commercial wheat known for its ability to withstand harsh environments and diseases, and of bread wheat and other crops and animals, the company is turning its focus to the human genome and human healthcare, which is a much bigger market, Ronen said. This is the first time NRGene’s technology has been used for human genome analysis.

The study, conducted together with Dr. Henle Ji, associate professor of Medicine (Oncology) at Stanford University, surveyed the genetic composition of a family with inherited colon cancer. DNA samples were collected from the grandparents, parents and children in the family, and NRGene’s software looked for the inherited mutation that causes the cancer. The presence of the mutation causes colon cancer in 60 percent of its hosts, Ronen said.
1917 and the Battle of Beersheba
The prime ministers of Israel, Australia and New Zealand will lead much of the Israeli-based diplomatic corps at commemoration events on October 31 to mark the 100th anniversary of the conquest of Beersheba.

Why is this event so special? The Battle of Beersheba was the first major victory for Britain in World War One. Consider this: going into this battle, Britain had been defeated four times by the Turkish army.

The failure of the British to take the Dardanelles led to the resignation of Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty. His initiative to launch a naval invasion at Gallipoli resulted in 400,000 casualties on both sides and an ignominious Allied retreat.

The British army suffered a humiliating defeat in Iraq (then Mesopotamia) when they were surrounded and surrendered to the Turks at the Battle of Kut.

Under Gen. Sir Archibald Murray, the British army was badly beaten twice at the battles for Gaza.

Murray tried to put a brave face on his humiliating defeat by misrepresenting the casualty figures and claiming that “it was a most successful operation, the fog and waterless nature of the country just saving the enemy from complete disaster.”
Gutsy warriors: Eager Americans who joined Israel in the fight for its life
The now 78-year-old Robert Gandt has been writing books on military themes for decades. He spent eight years flying for the United States Navy and was a weapons test pilot, until he decided to work as an airline pilot so he would have time to write – something he has been doing successfully for years.

He grew up in Kansas, the son of a father who ran a local flying business, and Gandt himself was flying planes solo by the time he was 16.

It is Gandt’s assuredness that makes his new book, Angels in the Sky: How a Band of Volunteer Airmen Saved the New State of Israel, so compellingly readable. It is filled with wondrous stories of a group of men who literally saved Israel in its earliest years, men whom Gandt describes with passion as gutsy warriors who weren’t afraid to break the rules when the situation called for it, men like Gandt himself.

He recreates the early battles of the War of Independence with an unbridled enthusiasm that captures the reader’s heart. These were dangerous and uncertain times, and Israel’s future lay in the balance.

We meet Lou Lenart, a 27-year-old World War II veteran from Pennsylvania who joined the US Marines at 17 determined to kill as many Nazis as he could. He was a crucial part of Israel’s new fighter squadron, whose initial mission was to destroy the Egyptian air base at El Arish.

But when word arrived that the Egyptian Army had advanced to just south of Tel Aviv, the attack on El Arish was aborted, and Lenart was sent to attack the advancing Egyptian brigade. The mission succeeded and buoyed spirits among the Jews.
Breathtaking 1,700-year-old Lod mosaic to finally have a floor to call home
After touring the world, Israel’s most impressive mosaic will finally have a port of its own. Before dropping anchor at the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center upon its projected completion in 2019, the massive mosaic, decorated with seafaring motifs, had an adventure of its own.

The richly colorful mosaic was discovered accidentally during salvage excavations in 1996 at a central city square in Lod. At a ceremony on Thursday, the cornerstone of the Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center was laid at the site of its discovery by Lod Mayor Yair Ravivo, Israel Antiquities Authority director Israel Hasson, and the center’s main donor Shelby White.

After identifying the importance of the late third century-early fourth century Roman period piece, the IAA was left with a difficult decision. While glorious and mostly extant, without a budget and the means to conserve and display it, its glory would be lost. At the end of the 1996 dig, it was again covered with earth until a donor could be found.

In 2009, when funding was found through the Leon Levy Foundation and Shelby White, the mosaic was again uncovered. It began its travels in the world, and was viewed in Paris, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere as plans were slowly drafted for the Lod archaeology center.



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