Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From Ian:

Survivors to appeal to have Farhud seen as a Nazi event
Survivors of the Farhud pogrom in Iraq are to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court after their failure in the lower courts to have the 1941 pogrom recognised as a Nazi-inspired event, writes Ofer Aderet in Haaretz. The judge seems to fear that such an indictment would let Arabs 'off the hook' for antisemitism.

The Supreme Court in Jerusalem will hear the Farhud survivors' appeal

Until now, however, the Israeli government has refused to recognize any ostensible connection between the Farhud and the Nazi regime, and as a result has not granted monetary compensation to its victims in the context of the Victims of Nazi Persecution Law. In February a panel of judges in the Haifa District Court rejected a lawsuit filed by about 2,000 survivors of the Farhud, who demanded legal recognition as Nazi victims. The judges sided with the government, ruling that the Farhud was not a pogrom whose roots lay in Nazi Germany.

“Nazi Germany’s responsibility for the Holocaust of the Jewish people is not under discussion,” wrote Judge Ron Shapira in his ruling, although he also noted that Nazi Germany should receive “all the blame for pogroms against Jews everywhere.”

He added: “Anti-Semitism, in its various forms, existed prior to the rise of the Nazi regime, and didn’t disappear from the world after Nazi Germany was defeated. There are many causes for the phenomenon of anti-Semitism and some change from one period to the next.”

The judge criticized the attempt to blame the Nazis for the Farhud, and said that anyone who does so “is missing the mark and removing responsibility from any others who championed anti-Semitism and racist theories and xenophobia – and do so to this day.”
Melanie Phillips: ISRAELI PR, UK AND JERUSALEM, NORTH KOREA
Please join me here for my discussion with Avi Abelow of Israel Unwired on the media response to the Hamas attack on the Gaza border fence, Israel’s strategic failure to make its own case, the British government’s attitude to Jerusalem and the on/off/on US/North Korea summit.


Kuwait blocks US bid to condemn Gaza rocket fire at Security Council
Kuwait on Wednesday blocked a US-drafted UN Security Council statement that would have strongly condemned Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Israel.

The United States had circulated the draft text ahead of an emergency council meeting, to be held later Wednesday at Washington’s request, on the rocket and mortar attacks by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups.

Kuwait, a non-permanent council member that represents Arab countries, said that it was blocking the statement to allow for consideration of a draft resolution it has put forward on the protection of Palestinian civilians.

In an email to the US mission seen by AFP, Kuwait said: “We cannot agree to the text put forth by your delegation especially as we are considering a draft resolution that deals with the protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip.”

Kuwait earlier this month blocked another US-proposed statement that criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks about Jews as “unacceptable.”

Two other draft statements expressing concern about the violence in Gaza were previously blocked by the United States, laying bare the sharp divisions on the Security Council over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Security Council statements are adopted by consensus by all 15 members.

Haaretz’s Strange Tale About ‘Spying’ on Linda Sarsour
Why is it so important who wrote the document that Uri Blau obtained?

First, because this is not the case of an “Israeli organization” that “spies on an American citizen,” but an American organization collecting open source information on a fellow American.

Second, while Blau alleged that Shelson Adelson, a close associated of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, funded the “spying,” the Forum maintained that it never received any funding from Adelson.

Third, the letter against Sarsour is not a part of a campaign against the BDS movement, but a part of a project of an American organization to counter Islamists in America.

Fourth, nothing clandestine was done (as phrases such as “spying” and “collecting intelligence” suggest). All information was gathered from open sources in order to serve a clear agenda.

And so, a story – certainly not the one that Haaretz‘s Uri Blau set out to tell – emerges from a non-story. Haaretz pedaled a false story about a shadowy Israeli organization spying on an American citizen. But the real story became about the journalist’s false accusations, and his erroneous attribution of the document to the wrong organization.

Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Hebrew department, sent Uri Blau and Haaretz editors the following questions and also asked for response on the points made here:

Why was the report published only in English, an anomaly among Blau’s investigative pieces?

Do you intend to correct the report and/or apologize, per the Middle East Forum’s request?

As of this writing, no response has been received. Nor has Haaretz addressed or made any reference to the Middle East Forum’s statements.



In Britain, poll indicates, 23% ‘unwilling’ to have a Jew in the family
Nearly a quarter of British respondents to a poll on attitudes to minorities in Western Europe said they would be unwilling to accept Jews as family members.

The Pew Research Center’s report titled “Being Christian in Western Europe” was published Wednesday and contains results from interviews with more than 24,000 randomly selected adults in 15 countries.

In the United Kingdom, 23 percent of 1,841 respondents interviewed said “no” when asked “Would you be willing to accept Jews as members of your family?” It was the second-highest highest proportion of naysayers, directly after Italy’s 25 percent. The poll has a margin of error of up to 3 percent.

The highest level of acceptance of Jews as family members was in the Netherlands, where 96 percent of 1,497 respondents said they would have no problem with a Jew joining their family.

In Germany, 19 percent of 2,211 respondents said they would not accept a Jewish relative. In Austria, non-acceptance was at 21 percent. The mostly Catholic nations of Spain, Portugal and Ireland also had high non-acceptance levels at 13, 18 and 18 percent, respectively.
Evangelical Support for Israel Is about More Than Planning for the Apocalypse
A recent poll of evangelical Christians’ political views showed that sympathy for the Jewish state is less pervasive among the younger generations than among the older. Mark Tooley argues that the ideas of two pro-Israel Christian thinkers might appeal more to young people than those normally cited by Christian Zionists. He also dispels the common stereotype that the favorable views of evangelical Christians toward Israel stem primarily from the notion that the Jews’ return to Zion is a prerequisite for the messianic era, a notion that fits into a wider theology known as “dispensationalism.”

Most evangelicals believe that God’s promise of the land to the Jews is enduring, but belief in that covenant doesn’t automatically equate to preoccupation with end times. . . .

Here’s where [Reinhold] Niebuhr can be helpful. He was a theological modernist who rejected dispensationalism but . . . appreciated humanity’s fallen nature. Even as a young pastor he embraced the cause of persecuted Jews and their need for a homeland in Palestine. His support for Zionism increased during the Nazi ascendancy in the 1930s, during which he also abandoned pacifism in favor of armed resistance to the fascist powers.

Niebuhr’s Zionism caused friction with many of his liberal friends, but he was unrelenting. In “Our Stake in the State of Israel” (1957), an article in the New Republic, he lamented the West’s dearth of support for Israel, which was the “only sure strategic anchor of the democratic world” in the Middle East. . . . Niebuhr, a Protestant liberal of sorts, backed Zionism as a humanitarian, moral, and pragmatic necessity in defense of a long-persecuted people who were friends of democracy. That the Jews had a deep historic tie to the land, even if he declined to affirm an ongoing biblical promise, only added to his commitment to their cause. . . .
Reporting on Jerusalem, State Department struggles how to say it
Under guidance from the Trump administration, the US State Department shed use of the term “occupation” in reference to the Palestinian territories, simply referring to regions once lumped into that category by their names: Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

But faced with new questions on its policy toward Jerusalem after moving the US Embassy in Israel there earlier this month, and recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, the department felt compelled to clarify its status in a report published on Monday.

In the Israeli section of its annual report on international religious freedom, the government chose to awkwardly divide its references: Israelis in Jerusalem are described in one tab, under a section titled “Israel and the Golan Heights,” while issues concerning Arabs in Jerusalem are addressed in the following section, titled “West Bank and Gaza.”

That’s because “on December 6, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the report reads. “It is the position of the United States that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final-status negotiations between the parties.”

Without using the popularized term, the report acknowledges that the Palestinian Authority “exercised varying degrees of authority in the West Bank and no authority over Jerusalem.
U.S. walks out of disarmament conference to protest Syrian presidency
The United States delegation briefly walked out of a plenum debate at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday to protest the Syrian presidency of the body tasked with halting the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

“Just prior to the commencement of today’s CD plenary, I walked out in protest of Syria’s assumption of the CD presidency,” US Ambassador Robert Wood said in a tweet that included a photograph of his back as he walked out of the room. “I did return later, however, to harshly condemn the regime in Damascus for its repeated use of chemical weapons against its own people.”

“This is no normal presidency,” he told reports on Tuesday, one day after Syrian Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala took over the monthlong rotating presidency of the United Nations body.

During the convention’s plenum meeting, Wood said: “The US is outraged at Syria’s actions, its blatant disregard for international obligations and its temerity in assuming the presidency of a body committed to advancing disarmament and nonproliferation.”

“Given its demonstrated contempt for the work of this body through the repeated violations of treaties negotiated here, Syria has neither the credibility nor the moral authority to assume the presidency of the CD, the very body that negotiated the chemical-weapons convention,” he added.

The European Union, Canada and many other Western countries echoed Wood’s objections.
Pro-Assad Commander: Syrian Army Ready for Southern Battle
The Syrian army has completed preparations for an imminent offensive against rebel-held areas in southwestern Syria, a non-Syrian commander in a military alliance that backs Damascus said on Tuesday, raising the prospect of a major new escalation.

However, a rebel commander in the Deraa region of the southwest told Reuters there was no sign of mobilization for such an assault and accused Damascus of waging psychological warfare. Nevertheless, rebels had prepared defenses, he said.

The rebel-held southwest has come into focus after the Syrian government, backed militarily by Iran and Russia, crushed the last besieged rebel enclaves near Damascus and north of the city of Homs. Damascus has vowed to recover the whole country.

The southwest is of concern to the United States, which last year brokered a “de-escalation” deal with Jordan and President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian allies, which has largely contained the war near the frontier with Israel.

The United States warned on Saturday it would take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to any violations of the ceasefire in that area.

While Assad is militarily unassailable in the Syrian conflict, swathes of territory at the frontiers with Iraq, Turkey and Jordan and Israel remain outside his control. The role of outside powers in these areas complicates further gains by Damascus.

The pro-Assad commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Syrian army’s preparations for the assault were complete. “The Syrian army will wage all the battles and has now become strong and capable,” the commander said.
MEMRI: Facing New U.S. Comprehensive Strategy Against It, Iranian Regime Officials Cling To JCPOA – Which Gives Iran Nuclear State Status Under UN Security Council Resolution
Introduction
In the months preceding the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA nuclear deal, Iranian regime officials have stated that they were prepared for this possibility, and some even spoke about an immediate resumption of uranium enrichment and of Iran's nuclear program. However, following President Donald Trump's May 5, 2018 announcement of the U.S.'s withdrawal, Iran's reaction showed a complete reversal. Today, Iran is clinging to the JCPOA, and to Europe, which still supports it.

This paper will discuss the current Iranian positions and the status of the nuclear deal after the U.S. withdrawal from it (for Part I, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1397, Facing New U.S. Comprehensive Strategy Against It, Iranian Regime, Helpless, Clings To The JCPOA And Europe As A Defense Umbrella Against The U.S., May 25, 2018):

Statements By Iranian Regime Speakers
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei: A Series Of Outlandish Conditions For Europe For Open-Ended Negotiations

In a May 23, 2018 speech to regime officials, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave permission to Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to conduct open-ended negotiations with Europe on a series of outlandish conditions. He gave the details of these conditions, and added that he was not expecting Europe to be able to comply with them. Also in the speech, he did not commit to explicitly withdrawing from the JCPOA or to a revival of Iran's nuclear program. He said:

"What is the proper way of dealing with the JCPOA after America's exit from it? First, we must be realistic, and not pin false hopes on and rejoice over its chances [of its continuation], but must address the people explicitly and realistically... It is not possible to rectify the country's economy by means of a European JCPOA [that is, a new agreement]. There is much evidence for this, including [European companies'] pulling out [of Iran] and large European companies' fear [of investing in Iran], as well as statements by officials of the three Europeans [Britain, France, and Germany] showing that it is not possible to advance the [Iranian] economy through a European JCPOA.

"These three European countries have broken the promise they made in the early 2000s in the matter of the nuclear issue. This time, Europe must prove that it will not break its promises again. The three European countries expressed no protest to America when it repeatedly violated the spirit and the letter of the JCPOA. I am criticizing the fact that had they protested, perhaps matters would not have developed as they did. Europe must compensate for this negligence.

"America left the JCPOA and this violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231. Europe must present the UN with a resolution against America and must protest against this move by America.
Iran Plotting With U.S. Allies to Skirt Trump’s New Sanctions
Iranian officials are plotting with U.S. allies across the globe to develop a series a measures meant to counter new sanctions by the Trump administration following its abandonment of the landmark nuclear deal, setting up a global economic showdown between America and its allies over their future business dealings with the Islamic Republic.

Iranian leaders disclosed on Tuesday that they had recently held high-level meetings with European Union nations and leaders in India and Thailand to explore options for skirting new U.S. sanctions.

Iran's efforts and the warm reception it is receiving from many nations has roiled leaders on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are already moving to confront these countries and ensure they face harsh repercussions for any breach of U.S. sanction law.

The State Department also is scrambling to respond to Iran's efforts by building a counter-coalition aimed at isolating Tehran and any nation that works with Iran to skirt new U.S. sanctions, U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon.

Iranian Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht disclosed on Tuesday that the nation's top leaders, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, have met with European leaders and others in the region to discuss skirting new U.S. sanctions, which have targeted virtually every portion of Iran's economy, including its contested nuclear and energy sectors.
Russia Feels The Heat From Trump: 2nd Biggest Oil Producer Stalls Plans To Work With Iran
On Tuesday, another domino fell in the Trump Administration’s determined efforts to target the despotic and tyrannical government of Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism: Lukoil, Russia’s second biggest oil producer, announced it had put on hold plans to develop projects in Iran because of the threat of U.S. sanctions.

A company official stated, “Considering the latest developments, I guess, it’s too early to say what our plans (about Iran) will be. For the moment, basically, we have everything on hold,”

As Reuters reports, Lukoil has been negotiating with Iran over development of the Abe Timur and Mansuri oilfields.

It was reported last week that Lukoil, Denmark-based Maersk and Indonesian state oil and gas company Pertamina had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the development of the Ab-Teymour block in Iran.
Swiss Bank BCP Says Halts All New Business With Iran
Swiss lender Banque de Commerce et de Placements (BCP) has suspended new transactions with Iran and is winding down Iran-related activities after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran, the bank said on Tuesday.

BCP, founded in 1963, has been among the players active in Iran-related trade finance in commodities, finance sources say.

Trump’s withdrawal from the accord on May 8 was announced in tandem with the re-imposition of US sanctions within 180 days, prompting several European companies to announce their exit from Iran.

“We have suspended any new transaction related to Iran after May 8, 2018 and started the ‘wind down period’ within the framework of OFAC announcement,” BCP said in a emailed statement to Reuters, referring to the US Treasury’s sanctions enforcement arm.

Geneva-headquartered BCP said following the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, the bank complied with all sanctions in force “and conducts its business accordingly.”
NYTs: Democratic Candidate Who Criticized Israel Faces Charges of Anti-Semitism
On Monday evening, at the home of a retired rabbi in Charlottesville, Va., the Democratic nominee for the Fifth Congressional District of Virginia sat down with about 40 Jewish leaders to try to defuse Virginia Republican charges that she was a “virulent anti-Semite.”

At issue was the candidate’s 27-year-old book, “Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship,” a broadside written by Leslie Cockburn, a journalist-turned-politician, with her husband, Andrew Cockburn, that was panned in several reviews as an inflammatory screed.

The meeting might have been dismissed as a peace offering from a long-shot candidate in a largely rural Virginia district that leans Republican. But on Monday, the incumbent congressman, Representative Tom Garrett, announced he was an alcoholic and would not seek re-election.

Suddenly, Ms. Cockburn (pronounced CO-burn), the Democratic candidate, is vying for an open seat — and drawing attention, in part for her strident views on Israel.
Police: We can't stop people flying Hezbollah flags on London march
Police have confirmed that the flag of Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah can be flown at next month’s Al Quds Day Parade in central London – because the organisation’s “political wing” is not proscribed by the British government.

A letter sent to MP Louise Ellman, the vice-chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, said that police would allow the controversial flag to be raised once again at the June 10 parade because parliament had “consciously chosen” to proscribe only the military wing of Hezbollah – but the group’s flag is “shared across all elements of that organisation.”

Metropolitan Police Commander Jane Conners says in the letter that both she and Commissioner Cressida Dick “share concerns” that the raising of the Hezbollah flag on London’s streets “may be construed as belonging to a terrorist organisation.”

But Conners adds: “Purely holding a flag does not necessarily incite religious or racial hatred.
Campus Unmasked: Pro-Israel Prof Suing University After Getting Dismissed
Dr. Melissa Landa, who was a professor for 10 years at the University of Maryland, is about to sue the school, according to Campus Reform. She is alleging discrimination based on her pro-Israel views.

“Colleagues began to ostracize me, withdrew from conference presentations with me,” Landa said. “I was no longer given the option of what courses I wanted to teach, I was against my will removed from a course I helped design and teach for 10 years, and I was told that I was compromising my professional responsibility by being in Israel to celebrate Passover.”

“Professors who speak out in favor of the BDS movement face no administrative consequences.”

That does seem to be the case. There are professors who dedicate pretty much their entire Twitter accounts to anti-Israel activism. Remember George Mason professor Noura Erakat, who takes severe umbrage at calling Palestinians a “mob,” but seems to have absolutely no problem using the word to misrepresent Israelis who were res ponding to a reported stabbing of a Jewish boy by a Palestinian? Or how about UC Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, founder of American Muslims for Palestine, which was founded by former members of a group that donated $12.4 million to Hamas.

But back to Melissa. The education professor claims that John O’Flahavan, the associate chair of her department, removed her from a course she’d taught for almost a decade after learning that Melissa wanted to partner with Tel Aviv. O’Flahavan also allegedly denied her access to one of his classes, so Melissa couldn’t get research she needed.
Pro-Israel Prof Suing University After Getting Dismissed


"Michael Brown Exposes Double-Standard at Christ at the Checkpoint"
Every two years, the ritual is repeated. The organizers of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, a so-called peacemaking conference held every even-numbered year at the Orient Palace Hotel in Beit Jala, invite a Messianic Jew to defend Israel before an audience of Evangelical Christians, some of whom have come to the West Bank to hear and relate stories of Jews behaving badly and then use these stories to feed an unwholesome bitterness toward Israel.

The invitation is given by conference organizers from the Bethlehem Bible College, an Evangelical college in Beit Jala, to demonstrate that they are willing to listen to people who disagree with them. It's not as if the organizers really want to hear or acknowledge what he has to say, but instead hope to deploy the Messianic Jew as a prop to lend credibility to their anti-Zionist narrative.

It's an obvious set-up, but the the Messianic Jew, who desperately wants to be taken seriously as a believer in Jesus and as a Jew who loves Israel, says yes. He knows full well other speakers at the conference will do everything they can to counteract his defense of Israel, but the invitee concludes that if he says agree to speak, no one will speak on Israel's behalf at the conference.

During his talk, the Jewish believer in Jesus acknowledges that the Palestinians are suffering, laments this suffering and then offers an apologia of Israel's efforts to defend itself, most notably the security barrier and the checkpoint. Everyone applauds his sincerity and for a few moments, expresses sympathy for the Israelis.
Jews Get to Define Anti-Semitism Not Shaun King
As we seek to protect ourselves from those who target us, we also face the added complexity of ensuring that security forces, both private and public, will protect our children and our institutions without endangering, intimidating or in anyway excluding Jews of color. During a time when so many historically oppressed communities feel under attack and marginalized, it is more important than ever that we listen and amplify voices describing how oppression is showing up in their lives.

King should have asked some of the many Jews of color in America how his rhetoric affects their lives, and how it puts our children at risk. He should have privately and publicly worked to rebuke hatred, build bridges and facilitate healing. Instead he has sought to silence, belittle, and justify our pain. Given that behavior, it becomes nearly impossible for King to engage on difficult subjects like Israel with our community without being treated with suspicion.

King has justified rhetoric that calls Jews subhuman. So how can we trust his intentions when discussing the nuanced, painful, and volatile situation in Israel? He has room for Farrakhan and BDS in his political life, but no room for Regina Spektor. This furthers the breach in trust and respect between him and many members of the Jewish community and ultimately weakens the cause of combatting white supremacy. This is damage that King has done to work that affects us all, for reasons that are ultimately self-centered and contrary to the basic tenets of anti-oppression work.

King has said he would give his life to fight anti-Semitism. I appreciate the sentiment greatly, but what seems more important at this moment is that he listen to those whose lived experiences he has dismissed and blocked. When I want to better understand and fight police brutality I look to King. When we talk about anti-Semitism and the pain it causes, he should listen to us.
Book Review: Anti-Zionism on Campus
The demonization and delegitimization of Israel and bigotry directed toward Jewish faculty, staff, and students is increasing at dramatic rates on university and college campuses.

In these supposedly intellectual spaces, virulently anti-Israel “scholars” and student-activists connected to, and supportive of, the global BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement regularly:
  • disrupt Israel-related campus events and even Jewish-themed programming;
  • exclude and ostracize Jews and Zionists from student government and campus programming; and
  • intimidate and harass just about anyone who feels an attachment to the Jewish state and doesn’t consider it a great evil and an “illegitimate, incorrigible abomination”—and even those who merely associate with them.
In dozens of posts we’ve highlighted this negative impact of BDS and its anti-Israel activism on contemporary academia in the U.S. and around the world. In our posts we’ve especially pointed out how this movement, and its associated student organizations and faculty promoters, is against peace and willing to destroy academic freedom and campus free speech in order to achieve its goals.

Now a new collection of essays, Anti-Zionism on Campus: The University, Free Speech, and BDS, co-edited by professors Andrew Pessin (Connecticut College) and Doron S. Ben-Atar (Fordham University), documents just how bad things have become on many American, Canadian, UK, and Australian, and South African campuses.

Below I provide an overview of the book; highlight its three main takeaways; and note some of its key recommendations for changing the campus climate for Jews. Posts from Legal Insurrection are cited throughout Anti-Zionism on Campus, so I also note those in a separate section below. A statement by co-editor Andrew Pessin is also included at the end of the post. All page numbers appearing in parentheses refer to pages in the book.
BBC inconsistency on Iran’s Syria build-up continues
The BBC did not report on that May 11th statement but had around the same time, to one degree or another, noted the IRGC’s entrenchment in Syria that includes the import of weapons such as missiles and anti-aircraft batteries – for example here, here, here and here.

Nevertheless, in this May 22nd report the build-up of Iranian weapons in Syria was once again portrayed as something that Israel “believes” is happening rather than as fact. [emphasis added]

“The BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem says Israel’s claim to have used it [the F-35] in an operational strike even before the Americans may be designed as a further show of military strength, as it believes elite Iranian forces are trying to entrench themselves in Syria to threaten Israel.”

When some BBC journalists report frankly about Iran’s transfer of weapons to Hizballah and the IRGC’s entrenchment in Syria while others continue to promote faux ‘objectivity’ by unnecessarily qualifying information, the losers are obviously the members of the BBC’s funding public whose understanding of this story depends on which particular report they happen to stumble.
State Dept. Report: 'Anti-Semitic Overtones' Prevalent in Venezuela's Government Media
A report released by State Department on Religious Freedom on Tuesday accused Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime in Venezuela of allowing “anti-semitic overtones” to taint the actions of the nation’s institutions, including the court system.

The State’s Department International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 cited representatives from the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela arguing that “criticism of Israel in government-owned or -affiliated media carried anti-Semitic overtones, sometimes disguised as anti-Zionist messages,” while “government-owned or -associated media and government supporters at times denied or trivialized the Holocaust.”

“Jewish leaders stated that to avoid accusations of anti-Semitism, government and some pro-government media began replacing the word ‘Jewish’ with ‘Zionist,'” the report continued.

Around 96 percent of the estimated 31.3 million people in Venezuela are Roman Catholic. The nation is home to a minority population of about 9,000 Jews, most of whom live in the capital, Caracas. However, many Jews are fleeing the country amid a climate of political hostility and a deep economic and humanitarian crisis.

Much of the regime’s anti-Semitism appears to be driven by a virulent opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinian cause. Instances of such opposition include a documentary aired on the state propaganda network TeleSur “comparing the wartime Nazi genocide of European Jews to political violence between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Minister lauds groundbreaking free trade deal between Israel, Canada
Israel and Canada on Monday signed a modernized free trade agreement in what has been described as a historic step in the countries' bilateral relations.

Canadian International Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne and Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen signed the revised agreement, officially referred to as the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, at the Montreal's Federation CJA's Gelber Conference Center.

The revised agreement will replace the free trade agreement the two countries signed in 1997. One of its main modifications will scrap duties for thousands of additional products, including fresh fruit and canned goods.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada's top exports to Israel include "industrial machinery and aircraft parts," followed by "electrical and electronic equipment." Industrial machinery is also Israel's top export to Canada.

Speaking at the signing event, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, chairman of the Canadian Parliament's Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, called the agreement "historic." He said his first speech in Parliament dealt with the need to counter the efforts to boycott Israel. He also called Champagne a true friend of Israel and said both Cohen and Champagne know how to get things done.
Israeli Company Wins Deal to Supply Australia With Missiles
Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems beat out a bid by a German missile company to win a tender providing the Spike 2 missile to Australia.

The Australia Defense Ministry chose the Spike 2 to affix to its new armored fighting vehicle, the Boxer, due to its better performance and its ability to integrate with Australia’s Israeli-manufactured army control system.

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the competing missiles underwent firing tests at 2 kilometers to 4 kilometers (1.25 miles to 2.5 miles). The next generation “Gil” missile weights just 28 pounds, and is ideal for firing against tanks and buildings at a range up to almost 3.5 miles.

The deal is particularly significant given that Israel signed a 10-year, $38 billion military-aid package with the United States under former US President Barack Obama that would forbid Israel to spend any US aid dollars on weaponry made anywhere but America.

Knesset members have urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the clause with current US President Donald Trump in the hopes that the restriction can be lifted.
Rise Of Computer Vision Brings Obscure Israeli Intelligence Unit 9900 into Spotlight
It’s well known that Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence Unit 8200 -- Israel’s cyber and code-breaking version of the NSA -- produces the cream of the crop of the country’s tech startups. The elite unit has spawned generations of hardware and software engineers, data scientists and coders that fill the ranks of Israel’s technology industry. While never officially confirmed, 8200 is widely believed to be behind Stuxnet, a computer virus that temporarily disabled centrifuges at an Iranian nuclear facility. It has allegedly switched off enemy air defenses during Israeli air strikes in Syria. Most of its operations remain cloaked in secrecy. The largest outfit in the Israeli army, 8200 is so prevalent in the startup ecosystem that it’s even been called Israel’s Startup Machine.

But the accelerating shift toward technologies like autonomous driving, natural language processing, satellite navigation, image recognition, and augmented and virtual reality --where machines are taught to make sense of visual information and act appropriately on it--is bringing to the fore another Israeli intelligence unit whose grads are starting to make a name for themselves in Israel’s tech ecosystem.

An alumni association created by veterans of Unit 9900, a military intelligence unit specializing in gleaning intelligence from geospatial information, satellite and high-altitude surveillance images, and visual information from other sources, has recently started holding tech meetups for its veterans. Smaller than 8200 but bigger than most other military intelligence units [the IDF censor does not allow the publication of unit personnel size], 9900 is also very tech-heavy, with graduates gaining knowledge in location-based technologies like GPS, experience in machine vision, photo analysis, and even in Cyber, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality. It's official name is Unit 9900: Terrain Analysis, Accurate Mapping, Visual Collection and Interpretation Agency.
Alt-J captivates Tel Aviv despite rockets sirens in the south
After a day full of sirens and rockets in southern Israel, I along with thousands of young Israelis took a break at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Center and swayed to the music of popular British rockers Alt-J, who returned to Israel after three years.

The opening act, Los Angeles indie rockers Warpaint, was delightful. “Ma shlomcha?” the band shouted, incorrectly yet endearingly.

They played their hearts out, even adding a song to their set because some audience members held up a sign requesting it. “You are a very groovy people,” they said.

A little after 9 p.m. Alt-J took the stage, shouting “Tel Aviv! How are you doing tonight? Sababa!” as they opened the show to the cheers of thousands.

The crowd seemed to know every sound in every song. Every drumbeat, every note, every syllable to every song. At certain times, if you closed your eyes, it felt as if the crowd had meshed into one and become a part of the show.
Times Square to turn blue and white next week
For a few minutes next Sunday, the screens of Times Square will light up with a display of Israeli innovation and ingenuity.

As part of Israel’s 70th-anniversary celebrations, a four-minute video will play on June 3 in the heart of New York City at one of its most recognizable tourist destinations.

“For the first time, the wonder that is called Israel will be displayed on the enormous screens of Times Square in a once-in-70-years event,” Culture Minister Miri Regev said.

“Times Square is a bustling, innovative and worthy place to serve as a hypnotizing showcase for Israeli breakthroughs in all fields,” she added. “Join me in Times Square, and together we will direct the hands of time to 70 years of vision and fulfillment, which embody the dreams of thousands of years.”

Regev will appear in person at the event, alongside popular Israeli singer Shiri Maimon, who will perform. The event is being organized by the Culture Ministry and the Israeli Consulate in New York as a celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday.

The video displays and celebrates Israeli innovation in various fields, including irrigation, desalination, sustainable energy and space exploration.



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