Saturday, January 05, 2019

From Ian:

Alan M. Dershowitz: The New York Times Incentivizes Hamas Violence
While Hamas is happy to boast openly about their fighters tearing at the border fences in Gaza and hiding behind civilians to evade Israeli soldiers—the New York Times makes no mention of this. Israeli soldiers are portrayed as faceless killing machines, without a single reference to the fire kites, terror tunnels, rockets or cross border explosive devices utilized by the Palestinians, or to the double war crime of Hamas targeting Israeli civilians by firing rockets from behind Palestinian civilians.

These Israeli civilians are not occupiers or usurpers. They live in Israel proper not in occupied or disputed territory. This area was built from scratch by Israelis on barren desert land and the Israelis have a right to be protected from fire bombs and mobs determined to breach the protective fence. How would other nations respond to such threats? Certainly not by treating these dangerous mobs as peaceful protestors merely exercising their freedom of speech and assembly.

The Times's absurd conclusion that the shooter may have committed a "war crime," ignores the law of war crimes.

Contrast what Israel does with how the Palestinians treat terrorists who willfully target and kill Jewish children, women and other civilians. The Palestinian Authority pays their families rewards – in effect bounties -- for their willful acts of murder. Hamas promotes and lionizes terrorists who kill Jews. But you would not know any of that from reading the one-sided New York Times screed....All in all, it is a shockingly irresponsible report.
The real racism against the Palestinians
And we avert our eyes and let them get on with it. To do otherwise would mean confronting awkward facts that might disturb safe certainties. Why talk about the Palestinians jailed for selling land to Jews when we can demand Israel release the Palestinians jailed for killing Jews? Why talk about the stipends paid to the families of terrorists who murder Israelis when we can condemn Israel for the security fence built to stop the terrorists getting in? Why talk about the Palestinians’ insistence that the West Bank be rendered Jew-free before they pledge to accept a state there when we can repudiate Israel’s cunning scheme to ‘Judaise’ Judea? Why talk about Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate Palestinian president, and his explicit, on-the-record, even book-length distortions of the Holocaust and Zionism when we can decry Netanyahu’s chauvinism and alliances with fellow chauvinists? Why, in short, face up to the real ‘obstacles to peace’ when we can pretend building houses in the West Bank is what’s really holding things back?

Interrogating Palestinian politics, culture and social attitudes terrifies liberal souls because we might find things we don’t like. Things like Issam Akel’s sentence. Like jihad-themed kindergarten graduations. Like rocket launchers set up in civilian areas. Things that can’t be willed away with a sombre head shake and a plea to ‘both sides’. Things that might lead us to question the Palestinians’ interest in peace. Question our entire approach to the conflict since at least 1967. Question the viability, or even desirability, of a Palestinian state.

I’ve always railed against liberal blindness and hypocrisy on Palestinian extremism as a product of anti-Israel bias. I’m not so sure anymore. I’m starting to wonder if the real bias is against the Palestinians. We expect Israel to operate like Belgium south of Beirut and castigate it for failing to live up to our values (or what we claim to be our values). We expect almost nothing of the Palestinians, and certainly not for them to conduct their affairs as we do (or tell ourselves we do). In Jerusalem, we see Boers; in Ramallah, Zulus. This is not pro-Israel — it is based on the myth of Israel as a white European colonial enterprise — but it is flagrantly anti-Palestinian. Yes, these two cultures are distinct (though there is a deal of crossover). Yes, Palestinian culture has a lot of work to do to catch up on democracy, human rights, minority rights, and much else besides. But none of this is inherent to being Palestinian; these are political and social values and they, and the cultures that espouse them, can change. This, however, is at odds with the underlying assumptions of Western policy on the Middle East in which Israeli misdeeds are aberrations to be condemned and corrected while Palestinian misdeeds are shrugged off, excused or justified. This is just who they are.

The sentiment is sympathy but the logic is pure bigotry. We are not friends of the Palestinians. We are not lending them solidarity by indulging their outrages. We are treating them like a savage tribe from an Edgar Wallace adventure, benighted but noble in their own way, wide-eyed grateful to the white man for understanding their backwards customs. There is your racism. Issam Akel is going to jail for selling land to a Jew and our hearts break for his jailers because they couldn’t possibly know any better.
When hating Jews becomes acceptable by the Far Left
Talk of antisemitism moving from the margins of American society into the mainstream often centers on white nationalism, that is, Jew hatred from the right. One need look no further than the November elections, in which two Holocaust deniers received 56,000 and 43,000 votes in bids to win Congressional seats in Illinois and California, respectively.

Presumably, many registered Republicans who voted for these antisemitic candidates were ignorant of their extremism and reflexively chose the candidate with an “R” next to their name.

And at least the Jewish community could take comfort in the fact that from the outset, the Republican Party categorically rejected both candidates, each of whom lost by wide margins.

White nationalists, it would seem for now, are still universally denounced and abhorred by all people of conscience.

On the other hand, there’s far too much tolerance for antisemitism on the left, which often masquerades under the cover of anti-Zionism. To make matters worse, it’s sometimes abetted by Jews themselves. All of which brings me to the case of Marc Lamont Hill, a professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University in Philadelphia and former CNN political commentator.
In November, Hill was fired by CNN after appearing at a UN event during which he endorsed a political slogan associated with Palestinian extremists calling for Israel’s destruction. Speaking at the UN’s annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” Hill called for “action” to “give us what justice requires…a free Palestine from the river to the sea [emphasis added].” He also stated that Palestinians have a right to “resistance” against Israel without specifically ruling out acts of violence and terrorism.

The question isn’t whether CNN should have fired Hill; rather, it’s this: Why did it take CNN so long to part ways with a contributor with a long history of antisemitism and vitriolic anti-Israel rhetoric?

For years, Hill used his appearances on CNN to portray Israel as a contemptible Apartheid state guilty of committing “ethnic cleansing,” a claim he repeated during his UN diatribe. Not surprisingly, he’s a staunch supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and considers BDS founder Omar Barghouti, who rejects Israel’s right to exist, someone “we must stand behind.”

In 2015, merely weeks after he tweeted about fighting antisemitism, Hill traveled to the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth, which he insisted was in “Palestine.” During the visit, he declared that he had come to a land “stolen by greed,” thus reinforcing the ugly antisemitic stereotype of greedy Jews.

In October of that year, Hill wrote an opinion piece in the Huffington Post entitled, “Why Every Black Activist Should Stand with Rasmea Odeh.” In it, he referred to Odeh, a convicted Palestinian terrorist, as a “venerable woman” and “freedom fighter.” As far as Hill is concerned, the murder of two young Israeli Jews in a 1969 bombing planned by Odeh wasn’t a horrific crime – it was an act of “justice.”

None of these troubling issues was enough for CNN (let alone Temple) to fire Hill. Nor, shockingly, was his close association with Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam founder whom the ADL has called the “leading anti-Semite in America.” Farrakhan once called Adolf Hitler “a great man,” and recently, he compared Jews to “termites.” In August 2016, Hill uploaded onto Instagram a picture of the two smiling together. His caption read, “Been blessed to spend the day with Minister Louis Farrakhan. An amazing time of learning, listening, laughing.”

We Jews aren’t laughing. That CNN, which claims to be “the most trusted name in news,” could keep Hill under contract for so many years is indicative of a much larger problem.



Israel said set to seek $250b compensation for Jews forced out of Arab countries
Israel is preparing to demand compensation totaling a reported $250 billion from seven Arab countries and Iran for property and assets left behind by Jews who were forced to flee those countries following the establishment of the State of Israel.

“The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms (against Jews) in seven Arab countries and Iran, and to restore, to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property, what is rightfully theirs,” Israel’s Minister for Social Equality, Gila Gamliel, who is coordinating the Israeli government’s handling of the issue, said Saturday.

According to figures cited Saturday night by Israel’s Hadashot TV news, compensation demands are now being finalized with regards to the first two of the eight countries involved, with Israel set to seek $35 billion dollars in compensation for lost Jewish assets from Tunisia, and $15 billion dollars from Libya.

In total, the TV report said Israel will seek over $250 billion from those two countries plus Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Iran.

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), an international umbrella group of Jewish community organizations, has estimated that some 856,000 Jews from 10 Arab countries — the other two were Algeria and Lebanon — fled or were expelled in 1948 and after, while violent Arab riots left many Jews dead or injured.

For the past 18 months, utilizing the services of an international accountancy firm, the Israeli government has quietly been researching the value of property and assets that these Jews were forced to leave behind, the TV report said.
Immigrants from Iraq soon after landing at Lod Airport, summer 1951 (Teddy Brauner, GPO)

It is now moving toward finalizing claims as the Trump Administration prepares for the possible unveiling of its much-anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal. A 2010 Israeli law provides that any peace deal must provide for compensation for assets of Jewish communities and individual Jews forced out of Arab countries and Iran.
In new memoir, father seeks justice from terrorists who killed his daughter
In April 1995, a Palestinian terrorist murdered Alisa Flatow, a 20-year-old American.

Beyond further illustrating Palestinians’ obsession with killing Jews and not building Palestine, this crime showed that six months before Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, Palestinian terrorists were already sabotaging the Oslo Peace Process.

This tragedy also mobilized Stephen Flatow against the terror infrastructure that murdered his daughter. Flatow’s determination created a new tool against terrorism – lawfare; drained billions from the networks bankrolling terrorism; and pushed back creatively against Iran, the world’s great terror-paymaster.

His battle was one “I’d win, but one which could never compensate me for what I had lost,” Flatow writes in his new book, A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.

That subtle, tear-stained sentence captures the nightmare haunting his life – and both sides of his remarkable memoir. It’s a compelling legal-political thriller, and a searing tribute to a missing daughter.

The first dimension is a real-life Hollywood thriller. A regular guy – a real-estate lawyer from New Jersey – seeking justice, punishes evil, confronts hypocrisy and inspires millions. Flatow wanted to sue the Iranians for financing Alisa’s murderer. He assumed the discovery process would embarrass them, exposing the mullahocracy’s evils. But – surprise! The court quickly awarded his family $250 million.

Then the real drama began.
Detroit News Ed: Editorial: Good riddance to UNESCO
As of the opening of the new year, the United States is no longer a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Trump administration set the deadline for the withdrawal more than a year ago, ending a long and turbulent relationship between the U.S. and UNESCO, an organization charged with preserving world heritage sites and customs and the free flow of information of ideas.

Critics see the break as yet another example of President Donald Trump’s isolationist view of America’s place in the world. But breaking with UNESCO was the right thing to do; it has long been a corrupt and mismanaged organization, and in recent years has become an anti-Semitic one.

In leaving, Trump cited UNESCO’s hostility toward Israel, and its warm embrace of the tormentors of the Jewish state.

He is not the first president to turn his back on the organization. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan withdrew from UNESCO, citing corruption, mismanagement and a pro-Soviet bias. President George H.W. Bush directed the U.S. to rejoin in 1992, hoping it would foster better international cooperation.

It didn’t. The mismanagement of the organization, which the U.S. was dunned $80 million a year to support, continued.

President Barack Obama was forced to suspend funding to the organization in 2011 when it recognized Palestine as a state. A 1990s-era law bans the U.S. from funding any U.N. agency that recognizes Palestinian statehood.
Arriving in Israel, Bolton warns Syria not to use chemical weapons after pullout
US national security adviser John Bolton said Saturday that Syria should not see the upcoming American troop withdrawal from the country as an excuse to use chemical weapons.

Speaking to reporters on his plane shortly before landing in Tel Aviv, Bolton warned President Bashar Assad’s regime that the use of chemical weapons in the future would not be tolerated.

“There is absolutely no change in the US position against the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and absolutely no change in our position that any use of chemical weapons would be met by a very strong response, as we’ve done twice before,” Bolton said, according to the Reuters news agency.

So the regime, the Assad regime, should be under no illusions on that question.”

US President Donald Trump’s top national security adviser added: “As we elaborate how the withdrawal is going to occur and the circumstances, we don’t want the Assad regime to see what we do as representing any diminution in our opposition to the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

If chemical weapons were to be used, “a lot of options would be on the table … if they don’t heed the lessons of those two strikes the next one will be more telling,” Bolton said.
US lawmakers reintroduce pro-Israel bill that didn’t make cut in last Congress
Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida reintroduced pro-Israel legislation that did not get passed in the last Congress.

Rubio, together with Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, on Thursday, the first day of the new Congress, combined a number of Middle East-related bills into a single bill, jump-starting the process.

“First item the Senate will take up in the new Congress will be our bill to deal with the crisis in #Syria & support our allies in the Middle East,” Rubio said on Twitter.

Among the items is the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act, named for the Republican Florida congresswoman who just retired and who tried to shepherd the bill through the last Congress.

The bill would codify the 2016 deal between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government that guarantees Israel $38 billion in security assistance over 10 years, protecting the assistance from the whims of any current or future president.

Ros-Lehtinen garnered massive bipartisan support and got the bill through the House. Allies led by Rubio secured a majority in the Senate, but Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who opposes foreign aid, used the senator’s prerogative to block it.
GOP Senators Introduce New Middle East Bill to Combat BDS, Strengthen US Relations With Israel and Jordan
The first Middle East-related legislation of 2019 was presented to the US Congress this week, as four Republican senators introduced a bill to bolster US defense and security measures in the region, as well as combat the anti-Israel BDS movement.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Risch (R-ID), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) submitted the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 on Thursday.

According to a statement from Rubio’s office, the bill” would make improvements to defense and security assistance provisions in the Middle East, bolster the US-Israel strategic alliance by authorizing security assistance to Israel over a 10-year period pursuant to the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, provide new authorities for sanctions against Syria’s Assad regime and its supporters, and empower state and local governments in the United States to counter the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s discriminatory economic warfare against the Jewish state.”

The legislation combines four Middle East-related bipartisan bills that were nearly enacted into law by Congress last year, including the Combating BDS Act of 2018.

Rubio argued that it was “in America’s national security interests to ensure that our allies in the Middle East like Israel and Jordan remain secure amid the region’s growing destabilizing threats posed by Iran and Syria’s Assad regime.”

Risch observed that Israel and Jordan were “steadfast allies of the United States that deserve this support.”

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee reviewed these bills last Congress and they had near unanimous support,” Risch continued. “It is time to move them forward.”
Abbas: ‘I have no more strength to fight, but I won’t end my life as a traitor’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday night said all agreements with Israel were in jeopardy, including the Oslo Accords and security coordination, due to the moribund state of the peace process. He added that he did not intend to negotiate on US President Donald Trump’s expected peace plan due to America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“We are dealing with three issues that we can not accept: the situation with the US, the situation with Israel and the situation with Hamas,” Abbas told reporters during a visit to the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

“The doors are closed to the US,” he continued. “As long as it does not retract its decisions against the Palestinian people, no Palestinian should meet with the American leadership, no matter what their role is.”

Abbas went on to state that the Palestinian Authority was reexamining its security coordination and agreements with the Jewish state. “The future is dangerous,” he said. “I have no more strength to fight, but I will not end my life as a traitor. I can say ‘no,’ and the Palestinian people beside me also say ‘no’.”
Arab MK Zoabi, who called for dissolution of Israel, says won’t seek reelection
Controversial veteran Arab lawmaker Hanin Zoabi, who called for the dissolution of the state of Israel and sailed on the Mavi Marmara in bid to break Israel’s security blockade of Gaza, said Saturday she will not seek reelection in April’s Knesset vote.

“After 10 full years, I thank everyone and I feel that the time has come to change the location, but not the way,” MK Zoabi, a member of the Balad part in the Joint List Knesset alliance, said in a statement.

Zoabi said she would continue to work for the things she believes in, stating she would “strengthen Balad’s model for a stronger Palestinian generation and a more determined struggle, with a belief that justice will be done.”

“This is a moment when it is customary to conclude a period of self-examination and look into the future. I will not give myself a grade,” she said. “There were those who appreciated and even supported my actions and what I represented, and there were many more who hated and fought against me and my views.”

The announcement by Zoabi came as no great surprise, since it was widely believed she would be required to step down due to internal Balad regulations.

Zoabi has raised fury in the past with comments in support of the Gaza terror group Hamas, her labeling of IDF soldiers as “murderers” and other similar rhetoric.

She participated in the 2010 bid by a convoy of vessels, including the Mavi Marmara, that sought to break the Israeli security blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, vowed to participate in future such efforts, and called the Israeli soldiers who blocked the flotilla “murderers.” Ten activists were killed in violence aboard the Marmara when they attacked Israeli troops who boarded the vessel. Israel maintains the blockade to prevent Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, from importing weaponry. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Egypt destroys 37 tunnels which infiltrated from Gaza in 2018
The Egyptian military destroyed 37 cross-border tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to the Sinai Peninsula over the past year, the country’s military has announced.

Egypt has in the past flooded Hamas tunnels along the Gaza Strip with sea-water or sewage, and has destroyed hundreds of homes on the Egyptian side of Rafah to remove the tunnels.

The Egyptian military began cracking down on tunnels stretching from the Hamas-run coastal enclave into the restive peninsula following the country’s September 2013 coup, which saw Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi ousted and imprisoned.

The Muslim Brotherhood was designated as a terrorist organization by Cairo following Morsi’s ouster.

Last year, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak testified against Morsi and claimed that Cairo did not know that some 800 armed individuals had crossed into northern Sinai via Gaza tunnels.

“General Omar Suleiman informed me on January 29 (2011) that they entered Egypt through Gaza and had weapons... They headed toward the prisons to release prisoners belonging to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Mubarak was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Palestine TV Offices in Gaza Ransacked, Equipment Destroyed; Hamas Blamed
The Gaza offices of President Mahmoud Abbas’s official Palestine Television station were attacked and ransacked on Friday, adding to tensions between his Palestinian Authority and the Islamist Hamas movement which rules the territory.

Rafat Al-Qidra, the office director, said five men broke into the premises early on Friday and destroyed cameras, editing and broadcast equipment worth nearly $150,000.

“Whoever rules in Gaza must afford protection to everyone here,” Qidra told Reuters.

The station broadcasts material supportive of Abbas’s Western-backed Authority, whose power base lies in the West Bank. Station officials immediately blamed Hamas for the attack.

“Hamas is deeply involved in this conspiracy,” said Ahmed Assaf, chairman of the Palestininan Broadcast Corporation (PBC), speaking to the channel in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The PBC issued a statement saying the attack was a “clear reflection of the mentality of the Hamas movement and criminal gangs who believe only in their voice, and who seek to suppress freedoms.”

Neither Assaf nor the PBC offered any evidence for their accusations, and Hamas officials swiftly condemned the incident.

“What happened is rejected, and we condemn it,” Eyad Al-Bozom said in a statement issued by the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza. He urged the station’s officials to cooperate with investigators.
The Folly of Supporting Lebanon’s Military
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result" is the most overused cliché out there, but it is appropriate to describe American policy toward Lebanon. The Trump administration is providing the Lebanese Armed Forces, or LAF, with more than $100 million in upgrades to tanks and attack helicopters. The package includes "training for pilots and maintenance crew on MD-530G light scout attack helicopters provided by the Pentagon last year, as well as laser-guided rockets … sniper rifles, night-vision devices, and mortars for infantry units," Al-Monitor reported Thursday. Lebanon will receive the equipment through the Defense Department's Section 333 program, which helps partners of the U.S. military fight terrorism and handle border security. A Pentagon spokeswoman told Al-Monitor that "strengthening the [LAF] advances a range of U.S. interests in the Middle East that includes not only countering the spread of violent extremisms but also stemming the influence of Iran and Hezbollah." This logic continues to motivate American policy, even under the Trump administration. The insanity must stop. The U.S. needs to halt its aid to the LAF.

Washington's approach to Lebanon is straightforward. American policy is to build up Lebanese state institutions with money and other forms of support to act as a bulwark against the influence of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist organization in effective control of Lebanon. The crown jewel of this strategy is the LAF, which the U.S. provides with massive amounts of aid in order to extend Lebanese government control over the entire country and make the army the sole military force in Lebanon.

The U.S. has provided about $1.7 billion to the LAF since 2006. Curiously, the Trump administration has continued this failed policy from the Bush and Obama years, despite the president's hostility to many of the foreign-policy establishment's orthodoxies. In August 2017, for example, the Trump administration gave the LAF $100 million worth of aid, and four months later, announced that it would provide the Lebanese army with attack helicopters for the first time. Last year, the U.S. sent more than $90 million worth of military equipment to help the Lebanese army protect its borders and said it would complete the delivery of a $340 million aid package. Washington, especially the Pentagon and State Department, billed these moves as part of an effort to enable the Lebanese government to "provide civilian security and assert its authority throughout all of Lebanese territory"—in other words, to counter Hezbollah.

The sad and obvious irony is that the exact opposite outcomes have resulted from American support. Lebanon and Hezbollah have now become synonyms, with Iran's chief proxy force becoming increasingly entrenched in the country's political system. Indeed, Hezbollah, together with allied parties and politicians, controls 70 of the 128 seats in Lebanon's parliament. Additionally, Lebanese President Michel Aoun is allied with Hezbollah, as are other key government officials. Furthermore, Hezbollah is set to take effective control of the Ministry of Public Health.
Rapper Vic Mensa Compares Israel’s Relationship with Palestinians to ‘White Supremacy’
Grammy award-nominated rapper Vic Mensa has slammed Israel’s relationship with neighboring Palestinians as a form of “white supremacy” in an interview for Forbes magazine.

The Chicago rapper referenced a trip he made to the Middle East in early 2018 as the launching point for his allegation that the Jewish state exerts a “very potent brand of racism and white supremacy” to “oppresses” the people of “Palestine.”

He said of his journey:
This was last August and going to Palestine was very impactful for me because it informed my global perspective on oppression and white supremacy, for sure. I was speaking earlier about the intersection between struggles of different oppressed people. And being out there and just witnessing firsthand this very potent brand of racism and white supremacy made me realize how much of a duty I feel, as someone who is of the oppressed people and speaks for the oppressed people, to keep my eye on the world around me and to be an ally to those in different struggles globally. You see what these people are going through in real life and it makes you realize we are blessed in certain ways and also that we have so much work to do. It’s a lifelong battle.

This is not the first time Mensa has felt drawn to offer his opinions on the Middle East.

In an essay published in Time Magazine in January 2018, ahead of Martin Luther King Day, Mensa said he traveled to “Palestine” with a group of African-American artists, scholars, and activists organized by the Florida-based organization Dream Defenders.
Amman taxi driver has recurring nightmare that he’s trapped in his cab with Thomas Friedman (satire)
Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan: Local taxi driver Omar A. has not been himself lately. It seems that for the last 6 months, he has suffered from the same horrible nightmare: being trapped in his taxi cab with noted pundit and New York Times contributor Thomas Friedman.

“I wake up each morning in a cold sweat.” explained a visibly shaken Omar has we sat in the Airport’s Taxi Driver break room. “Sometimes, he is on the way to a Green Energy Expo at the Palace, and he asks me what I think about building windmills on the Dead Sea. How the Hell should I know? Then, in last night’s dream, I was driving him to the Queen’s Conference on the Status of Women. Fine, no problem. But he kept asking me if my daughter was learning to code. I pretended not to speak English, but he switched to Arabic.” Omar rubbed his bloodshot eyes as he continued to chain-smoke Marlboros. “I feel sick. If this does not stop before next month’s UNESCO Seminar on Agriculture, I’m going to lose my mind.”

As if this were not bad enough, Omar’s problems are beginning to affect his marriage. Omar’s wife Fatima spoke to the Daily Freier about how these nightmares have stressed their relationship. “All of my other girlfriends are worried that their husbands are betting on horses too much or seeing a younger woman…… you know, normal problems. But my Omar? This bad man Mister Thomas has made him majnoon. Just last week he was talking in his sleep about a high-speed rail link between Aqaba and Mecca that would be funded by India’s second-most popular Soap Opera actress and Mark Zuckerberg.”
Australian neo-Nazis deface elderly care facility housing Holocaust survivors
An Australian neo-Nazi group defaced an elderly care facility that homes Holocaust survivors, the latest incident in a rash of anti-Semitic vandalism targeting Melbourne’s Jewish community.

Stickers bearing the logo of homegrown hate group Antipodean Resistance were discovered plastered on the entrance to the Emmy Monash Aged Care facility, located in a heavily Jewish suburb of Caulfield, southeast of Melbourne.

The black and white swastika stickers were discovered by Sam Seigal, who was visiting his 94-year-old parents at the facility on New Year’s Day.

“I saw it stuck to the front gates. I just stood there and looked — it knocked me about,” Seigel told Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper on Friday. “You don’t expect to see those sorts of things, especially at an aged-care residence.”

He said that many of the residents at the Emmy Monash facility were Holocaust survivors, and they would be “horrified” to learn of the Nazi symbol was daubed on the outside gates.

Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission Dr. Dvir Abramovich condemned the vandalism as “cowardly and evil.”

“We are appalled by this latest attack, made all the more despicable as there are Holocaust survivors living in this aged-care home who lost family relatives and suffered under Hitler’s regime,” Abramovich said in a statement.

Abramovich said the vandalism at Emmy Monash was part of a “blitz of intimidation and fear” by Antipodean Resistance which has been escalating its activities over the last year.
ADL Condemns ‘Chilling’ Human Swastika Formed by California Middle Schoolers
Several middle school students in California were recently photographed while forming a human swastika, prompting a Jewish civil rights group to express concern over the “chilling” act.

In a letter sent to parents at Matilija Junior High School in Ojai last month, administrators said a dozen pupils were found to have participated in a group chat that included “racist, sexually inappropriate and threatening commentary including a comment by a student to bring knives to school.”

Photos shared in the chat — which was active between mid-November to early December — showed nine students laying on a field together during lunch break, positioned in the shape of a swastika.

A “full and thorough investigation” carried out by police into the messages found that there was no active threat toward students on campus,” according to the letter, which was first reported on by the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

“The Matilija administration and staff are beyond saddened that this occurred,” the school said, adding that it is taking the incident “very seriously and assigning appropriate consequences to those involved.”

Administrators urged parents to monitor their children’s social media use, and said they plan to host several activities to educate students on the gravity of the offenses involved.
The Jewish director who kick-started British film — and coordinated WWII spies
He was Britain’s first film knight, honored in 1942 for his contribution to cinema. He was the man behind films such as the moody iconic thriller “The Third Man,” starring Orson Welles, and produced and directed in the United States, Europe and Britain.

Seventy-seven years later, Sir Alexander Korda is being remembered throughout January with a British Film Institute season of some of his best-known films, big hits across the world in the 1930s and 1940s.

But aside from being able to view some beautifully restored versions of cinematic successes, such as “The Private Life of Henry VIII” and the Oscar-winning “The Thief of Baghdad,” audiences will for the first time learn about the other side of Korda — the Hungarian Jewish emigré who was, according to his biographer, Charles Drazin, a facilitator of spies. In the 2011 “Korda: Britain’s Movie Mogul,” it is argued that the filmmaker was knighted not just for his cinema work, but also for his shadowy behind-the-scenes activities.

Much of that was due to his relationship with the future British prime minister Winston Churchill, whom Korda employed as a screenwriter during the 1930s when Churchill’s political life was in the doldrums.

Korda — who worked closely with his two brothers, Vincent and Zoltan — was born Sandor Kellner in 1893 in an isolated Hungarian village. The young Kellner attended the local Jewish school until he was 8 years old.
Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin discovers he’s a quarter Jewish
PBS’ celebrity genealogy show “Finding Your Roots” has had plenty of Jewish guests — Bernie Sanders, Larry David, Paul Rudd and Scarlett Johansson — and the occasional guest, like Paul Ryan, who learn they have a Jewish ancestor on their family tree.

But the season five premiere, which airs Jan. 8, contains the most dramatic Jewish story the show has unearthed so far: “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin discovers he’s nearly a quarter Jewish.

Martin, 70, grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey. His mother was part Irish, and his father was half Italian. Martin was very close to his paternal grandmother, Grace, whose Italian husband, Louis, left her and started a new family without a divorce (Grace was a devout Catholic).

Martin believed he was at least a little Italian, genetically, but a test of his genetic makeup revealed he actually has no Italian DNA at all. However, the test also showed that he is 22.4 percent Ashkenazi Jew — about the equivalent of having one Jewish grandparent.

To check their results, researchers located one of Louis’ sons from the second family and tested him. If Louis was George’s grandfather, there should have been a partial match — about 6 percent. But there was none.

A test of Martin’s maternal grandparents showed only Irish ancestry, so the show’s researchers speculated that Louis left Grace after discovering she had an affair with a Jewish man.

All a stunned Martin can say on the show is: “You’ve uprooted my worldview.”

Also featured in the season premiere is Andy Samberg, the goofy Jewish “Saturday Night Live” alumnus and star of the NBC sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Samberg’s DNA test revealed about 75 percent Jewish ancestry, but the story behind the other 25 percent proved to be interesting.
New children’s book launches with Israeli mission to moon
Israeli nonprofit organization SpaceIL is launching Israel’s first unmanned aircraft to the moon in early 2019, and is using the occasion to inspire children on Planet Earth.

The Little Spacecraft tells the story of Berrie, a toy spacecraft based on SpaceIL’s real spacecraft, Beresheet (Genesis).

Berrie dreams of going to the moon, but the other toys believe she is too small for such a big dream. Berrie explains to her friends how each of her special tools is designed to help her accomplish her mission.
“The Little Spacecraft” encourages kids to dream big. Photo courtesy of StellarNova

The story is of course analogous to SpaceIL’s mission of achieving an Israeli lunar landing, an endeavor historically carried out only by the world’s superpowers. Should SpaceIL’s mission prove successful, Israel will join the big league of space exploration.

Set to take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in the first quarter of 2019, Beresheet should reach the moon at the end of a two-month journey.

SpaceIL was established in 2011 by three young engineers who decided to take part in the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge to build, launch and land an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon. Although the competition was aborted in March 2018, SpaceIL decided to see through its mission anyway.
10 hidden gems in Haifa
When most people think of touring in Haifa, the first thing that comes to mind is the lush Bahá’í Gardens, a masterpiece of landscaping that crowns the hilly city like a colorful jewel. Maybe they know about the cable-car, the beach promenade or the many museums, such as Madatech, the National Museum of Science, Technology and Space.

Very few know about these 10 hidden gems in Israel’s third-largest city. And we think that’s a shame because we’re sure they belong on your itinerary next time you’re up north. Click on our video to find out more.







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