Saturday, February 02, 2019

From Ian:

Is the PA Really Against Terrorism?
And don’t forget the little matter of such falsehoods blatantly violating the Oslo Accords. Those accords obligate the PA to refrain from “hostile propaganda” against Israel. Accusing Israel of murdering the PA most beloved leader surely qualifies as “hostile.” So why does the PA keep violating the accords? What happened to all those promises that it can be trusted to honor the agreements that it signs?

Also in the past few days, a rally was held in Tulkarm — under Abbas’s official auspices — to honor convicted Palestinian murderer Maher Younes, while the Bethlehem branch of Fatah (the ruling party, chaired by Abbas) posted photos on its Facebook page glorifying teenage terrorist Ahmed Sanagrah.

Wait, that doesn’t make any sense, either. The proponents of creating a Palestinian state keep telling us that it’s safe to create such a state because the PA is against terrorism. They say Hamas is the bad one, while the PA is moderate. So if the PA is against terrorism, why do its leader and ruling party keep glorifying, sheltering, and paying terrorists?

By the way, when Abbas spoke at the United Nations earlier this month, he proclaimed the PA’s “commitment to international law and legitimacy and to a peaceful solution.”

And that makes perfect sense. Abbas is truly bilingual. When he speaks to Western audiences, he uses all the right words that they want to hear. He sounds peaceful, reasonable, and moderate. But when he speaks to his own people, he literally speaks another language: the language of hatred and violence. It’s the kind of language that gets innocent people killed.

There was a time, not so long ago, when it was almost impossible to find out what was being said by Palestinian Arab leaders in their own media. Every once in a while, something would leak out. But by and large, the world news media did an effective job of keeping Americans in the dark about what Arafat, Abbas, and the others were saying.

That’s all changed thanks to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which exposed the above-cited outrages and so many others. By exposing the PA leaders’ true words, PMW has affected US and European policy towards the PA and in some cases has led directly to reductions of Western aid to the PA. Palestinian Media Watch is a uniquely worthwhile organization, and it deserves to receive a level of support from Jewish federations comparable to what is given to various other Israel-based agencies that do good work. Now that would make a lot of sense.

The political map drawn 100 years ago by the French still haunts Syria
LIKEWISE, THE Alawites were promised a fair amount of autonomy in their own area around Latakia, between Lebanon and Turkey. A nominally Shi’ite sect that most Muslims, including regular Shi’ites, regarded as heretical, the Alawites were eager to associate with the new non-Muslim rulers. They provided the French with excellent and disciplined native levies, which later turned into elite forces.

The Druze issue was more awkward. Another offshoot of Shi’ite Islam that had developed into a fully separate religion, the Druze community was a major power both in the mountainous areas south of Damascus – the Jabal Druze – and in several parts of Lebanon. While the French provided the Jabal Druze with a state of its own, they subordinated the Lebanese Druze to the Christians. That major departure from their global scheme and major mistake was soon met by a bitter all-Druze insurgency and more unrest in other parts of the country. It took two years, and a very discerning general, Edouard Andrea, to quell it in 1927. Finally, de Caix’s map was cosmetically redrawn. The states of Damascus, Aleppo and Jabal Druze were merged into a single Syrian Federal State. However, Lebanon and the Alawite State were maintained as separate entities.

Wrested from Vichy France by the British and the Free French in 1941, Syria was granted independence as a single state in 1945, with the exception of Lebanon, which was confirmed as a separate independent state. It did not mean, however, that the ethnic, religious and geographic tensions or rivalries that appalled de Caix vanished instantly. On the contrary, they were exacerbated by an enormous demographic growth – from five million in the 1950s to about 10 million in the 1970s to about 20 million today. Democracy quickly gave way to military regimes, a succession of coups and even a brief incorporation into Gamal Nasser’s United Arab Republic. Finally, the Alawites took over.

Ironically, the pro-French Latakia sectarians had converted to militant nationalism and then Ba’athism in the 1940s, and their military power had allowed them to assert an ever-increasing role in the country’s politics in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1970, Hafez Assad, an air force general and a leader of the Ba’athist Syrian branch, emerged as the sole ruler. The Assad regime, under Hafez Assad from 1970 to 2000, and then under his son Bashar, was outwardly pan-Arabist, but relied in fact on carefully calculated sectarian alliances.

In a nutshell, the Alawites coopted all non-Sunni or non-Arab minorities in order to check the Sunnis. The system was cemented by socialism – in effect, family and sectarian patronage – and a close alliance with the USSR. Once the Soviet Empire fell that started to unravel. The civil war that started in 2011 brought back to the surface a geopolitical Atlantis: de Caix’s map, with only one major difference, the assertiveness of Trans-Euphrates Syria.

The post-Soviet Russians have been back in Syria since 2015. While they see the preservation of their Alawite ally as a priority, they are realistic enough to commend federalization as a long-term solution. This is all the more so since they know they are bound to compete with their Iranian allies and their Turkish allies-in-the-making. The Americans and the Europeans should not, at that point, leave it to the Russians alone. Nor should the Israelis. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

UK Jews face ‘perfect storm’ with new wave of far-right extremists, radical left
Britain’s far right has never been so politically weak, fractured or disorganized. The British National Party – whose leader, Nick Griffin, once warned against the “unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists and Zionist supremacists” which had conspired “with the deliberate aim of breeding us out of existence in our own homelands” – is now a spent force.

A decade after winning nearly a million votes and seats in the European Parliament and London Assembly, the far right is now “almost extinct,” in the words of the anti-extremist organization Hope Not Hate.

“Organizationally,” Hope Not Hate suggested in its annual report last year, “the movement is weaker than it has been for 25 years. Membership of far-right groups is down to an estimated 600-700 people.”

But counting votes or membership rolls, its opponents fear, fails to capture the nature of the threat it poses.

That threat has seen growing warnings by the police of the danger of far-right terrorism. Last year, Mark Rowley, then the UK’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, warned that the “right-wing terrorist threat is more significant and more challenging than perhaps public debate gives it credit for.”

Over the previous two years, he suggested, far-right activity had evolved from unpleasant protests and hate crimes committed by isolated individuals. “Right-wing terrorism wasn’t previously organized here,” he claimed.

Thus while much media and political discussion on anti-Semitism over the past three years has focused on the opposition Labour party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that attention has somewhat disguised the danger posed by the far right — a danger which the country’s current political instability and divisive debate over its planned departure from the European Union appears to be fueling.



Tony Blair Institute for Global Change releases report which finds a number of UK Muslim activist groups promote views that align with proscribed extremist groups
The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has released a report titled “Narratives of Division: The Spectrum of Islamist Worldviews in the UK” which found that a number of UK Islamic activist groups promote views that align with proscribed extremist groups.

The report focuses on five Muslim activist groups that UK authorities have criticised for promoting problematic or extreme views, although they do not advocate violence: CAGE, Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain (HT), the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPACUK), and Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND). This report assesses whether there is any substance to such accusations by analysing the public messages of these groups and comparing them against a baseline of extremist messaging.

The report found that: “Most of the groups analysed promote a divisive view of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in the UK through their public messaging. HT, MPACUK, IHRC and CAGE use their public content to advance a worldview in which Muslims in the UK and around the world are in an intractable state of tension and conflict with non-Muslims. MEND’s recent public messaging does not share this worldview.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism has sought to highlight the problematic views of some of these organisations, including IHRC, the organisers of the annual pro-Hizballah parade through central London, and MPACUK, which in 2017 tweeted its congratulations to Ecuador after Horacio Sevilla Borja, an Ecuadorian diplomat, said that he did not think there was “anything more similar” to Nazi persecution than Israeli policy, which is antisemitic under the terms of the International Definition of Antisemitism.
Holy Land heritage on hold
A month has passed since the departure of Israel from UNESCO as an active member, but it remains unclear what the future will hold for the Jewish state’s wish list of archaeological sites to be approved by the organization. And nobody’s really interested in talking about it.

When Israel and the US left the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on January 1 over its anti-Israel bias, it wasn’t known what the future impact would be on the sites in the country that are hopefuls for World Heritage status.

Although the two countries remain as observer states to UNESCO, their membership officially ended at the end of 2018.

Israel’s approved list of sites includes Masada, the Old City of Acre, Tel Aviv, the biblical tells of Megiddo, Hatzor and Beersheba, the Incense Route of the Negev’s desert cities, the Baha’i Holy Places in Haifa and in the Western Galilee, Nahal Me’arot and Wadi el-Mughara caves, the caves of Maresha and Beit Guvrin in the Judean lowlands and the necropolis at Beit She’arim.

But while Israel remains a cosignatory to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972, it still has a long wish list of sites it hopes would gain UNESCO approval. These sites include the triple-arch gate at Dan, the early synagogues of the Galilee, Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and its flanking ancient sites, Khirbat al-Minya, Arbel, Deganya and Nahalal, Beit She’an, Caesarea, the White Mosque in Ramle, the craters in the Negev Desert, Mount Karkom, Timna Valley, Crusader fortresses, the Great Rift Valley including the Hula area, Lifta and Ein Kerem.

The last two were added to Israel’s tentative list of sites more recently, in 2015. Most of the rest of the sites were suggested for UNESCO approval and started the process of application in 2000, or shortly thereafter.

The tentative list is an inventory of those properties that each State Party intends to consider for nomination. State Parties are encouraged to submit their tentative lists, properties that they consider to be cultural or natural heritage of “outstanding universal value and therefore suitable for inscription on the World Heritage List.”


ADL Goes Dark On A Democrat’s Latest Ties To Anti-Semitism
The left-leaning Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the nation’s largest Jewish civil rights group, has declined to weigh in on Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s latest tie to anti-Semitism.

A key fundraiser for Tlaib, Maher Abdel-qader, repeatedly promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, an investigation by The Daily Caller News Foundation revealed Monday.

TheDCNF on Wednesday spoke on the phone with ADL communications director Todd Gutnick to request the ADL’s position on the controversy. Gutnick said he was unfamiliar with the matter and requested an email with a link to the story, which TheDCNF sent immediately after the phone call.

Then Gutnick went dark: he declined to return multiple emails and voicemails from TheDCNF on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning.

Tlaib is a member of a Facebook group that Abdel-qader founded, “Palestinian American Congress,” where he and others have repeatedly shared anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Ilhan Omar: Anti-Semitism Charges Make Me Understand How White People Feel When Accused of 'Privilege'
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) used an interview with Trevor Noah on the Daily Show Thursday to liken the defensiveness she felt at being called anti-Semitic to what she claimed people might feel when they are accused of exhibiting “white privilege.”

“You are someone who has been very outspoken, you’ve always spoken your mind and spoken directly to people, voters, your colleagues, et cetera, and recently you’ve come under fire for a few of your previous comments,” Noah opened his discussion with his guest.

“Recently?” Omar responded with a laugh.

Noah was referring to a 2012 tweet from Omar, posted in reaction to an Israeli operation against Hamas, that read, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

Omar said later she was not aware of the “ugly sentiment” underlying the remark but she has neither apologized for it nor deleted it.

“In all sincerity, it was after my CNN interview that I heard from Jewish orgs. that my use of the word ‘Hypnotize’ and the ugly sentiment it holds was offensive,” she said in a Twitter thread.

Thursday night she went further by way of exposition to Trevor Noah, likening her initial defensiveness to the criticism she received for that Tweet to what people must feel when they are accused of displaying “white privilege.”

“With that tweet, what I finally realized is the realization that I hope that people come to when we’re having a conversation about white privilege,” Omar said. “People would be, like, ‘I grew up in a poor neighborhood, I can’t be privileged. Can you stop saying that? I haven’t benefited from my whiteness!’”
McDonnell Teams Up With Anti-Semitic Rapper to Defend Maduro
Earlier this week John McDonnell teamed up with rapper ‘Lowkey’ to support what they call “dialogue” rather than “regime change” in Venezuela. The left’s classic tactic for standing up for murderous dictators without explicitly supporting them. All that “dialogue” has yielded so far is widespread suffering and a refugee crisis on the scale of Syria…

But who is ‘Lowkey’? Last year he was caught out on Radio 1 ranting against “zombies and Zionists” and a global elite running capitalism during his live broadcast. His twitter feed is teaming with anti-semitic content clearly in breach of the IHRA working definition on anti-Semitism adopted by the Labour Party.


What is the Shadow Chancellor doing associating with him..?
Cutting security aid, Trump team says PA wants to skirt U.S. courts
The Trump administration confirmed on Friday that it has ended security funding and training to the Palestinian Authority, claiming that Ramallah had requested the aid cut themselves in order to circumvent the jurisdiction of US courts.

The 14-year-old US Security Coordinator (USSC) mission, and the $61 million the US provides annually, is perceived to be the cornerstone to an effective PA security service.

But a new law passed with bipartisan support, titled the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, came into force on Friday that exposed the PA to lawsuits in American courts– should it continue accepting US financial assistance– from US persons affected by Palestinian terrorist activity.

Jason Greenblatt, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump and the administration's point man on the Middle East peace process, slammed PA officials via tweet on Friday for shedding what he characterized as crocodile tears on the loss of aid. A spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas responded to the aid cut by claiming it would "have a negative impact on all, create a negative atmosphere, and increase instability.”

"Disingenuous," Greenblatt tweeted in response. "This aid was cut (not just suspended) at the PA’s request because they didn’t want to be subject to US courts which would require them to pay US citizens killed by Palestinian terrorists when the PA was found guilty."

"The PA has money for health/education– but must use their money wisely," he continued. "Example: Stop rewarding terrorists who kill Israelis. That will save the PA a fortune. They can also work with the US and others to help improve their economy and need even less foreign aid."

Democratic aides on Capitol Hill confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that Palestinian officials had denied overtures for a resolution to the crisis, preferring an aid cut to potential legal exposure, and the press that would follow.
Venezuelan Jews accept Israeli recognition of opposition leader: Chief rabbi
Venezuela’s chief rabbi said his community “accepts” Israel’s recognition of the claim to power by an opposition leader fighting to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Rabbi Isaac Cohen’s statement seems to contradict his community’s policy of neutrality in the power struggle.

“We don’t know where we’re standing now,” Cohen said during an interview Tuesday with the Israel Broadcasting Corp. in another expression of uncertainty on Venezuela’s political situation. “Maduro rules the country right now, but they appointed another president, Juan Guaido.”

The United States, Israel and several Latin American nations recognized Guiado as interim president last month. The recognition followed Guaido’s swearing himself in unilaterally during a mass rally against the inauguration of Maduro, who won Venezuela’s discredited 2018 elections.
The False Promise of Iraqi-Israeli Peace
Immediately after the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003, dozens of Iraqi parliamentarians arrived in Israel, though most were afraid to make their visits public. There was one salient exception: MP Mithal Alusi, who had no qualms about publicizing his Israel visit. Some Israeli commentators saw his bold stance as proof of the blowing winds of peace from Baghdad. But a short while later, he was kicked out of parliament and his two children were murdered. Alusi has never been re-elected to parliament, having failed to pass the electoral threshold.

Iraq is a failed state. Though one of the world’s most richly-endowed countries in terms of natural resources, it is unable to provide its residents with elementary needs such as electricity and drinking water. Iraqis are sick and tired of their miserable existence. They are loath to see their oil and other natural treasures plundered by Iran, which has come to dominate Iraq through its proxy Shiite militias ever since Saddam’s downfall. Eager to free themselves of Iranian domination at any price, Iraqis are now asking for Israel’s military assistance in return for empty promises of peace. Unfortunately, Israel is allocating substantial resources toward this hopeless end.

There are tens of thousands of Iraqi migrants in Europe who are unable to return to their homeland. They hope Israel will help remove the Iranians from Iraq, and promise peace when they return home and take control of the government. And so Iraq joins the list of Arab actors that seek Israeli aid in return for hollow promises of a future peace, paying the same kind of lip service paid by the Lebanese Christians in the 1980s and most recently by the Syrian opposition.

Peace with Iraq is still light years away. In October 2017, the Iraqi Parliament passed a law prohibiting the raising of the Israeli flag in the country and punishing violators with jail time. As adamant as Israeli policymakers claim to be about learning from past experiences, they should at the very least read the present situation correctly.
Two Americans Honored by Israel for Helping Police Officer During Jerusalem Terror Attack
Two American men were honored at a ceremony at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, on Thursday for the aid they provided to a police officer during a May 2017 terrorist attack in Jerusalem.

After praying at the Western Wall in the Old City, Simche Czin and Mordechai Lichtenstadter — both Jewish residents of Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood — came upon an assailant stabbing policeman Naaman Fares.

Lichtenstadter jumped into action, pulling the terrorist off of Fares, who, despite being wounded, managed to shoot the attacker dead.

As they waited for emergency responders to arrive, Czin used his tallit to stem Fares’ bleeding.

The terrorist was a 57-year-old Jordanian national who had entered Israel several days earlier.

On Thursday, Czin and Lichtenstadter were presented with a Civil Exemplary Decoration by Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and Police Attaché Commander Yitzhak Almog.

“It’s fitting that the first non-Israelis to ever receive this citation would be two Americans,” Dermer said. “From the Holy Land came the Good Samaritan. America has been the Good Samaritan among nations. There is no nation that has been a greater force for good in the world than the United States of America. And the Jewish people have been blessed that this great and powerful and just country has been by our side.”
Labor call Netanyahu 'world's highest ranking criminal' in new video
The Labor party released a new video on Saturday comparing between model Jeremy Meeks and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The video opens with Meeks' picture, with a text claiming that he is the "world's sexiest criminal." It then shows Netanyahu's picture with a text claiming he is the "world's highest ranking criminal."

The video calls for Israel Resilience party leader Benny Gantz, and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid to announce they will not join a Netanyahu-led government.

The Labor's video concludes with their recent slogan saying "Commit to it, and we will beat him."
Amid riots in northern village, police arrest two with 100 Molotov cocktails
Two young men were arrested Friday night on suspicion of attacking and lightly wounding police officers in Kafr Manda, near Nazareth.

Police said the two were caught while preparing Molotov cocktails, and were found to possess around 100 Molotov cocktails ready for use, as well as containers of lighter fluid and dozens of fireworks.

The pair were taken in for questioning.

The northern Arab village has seen clashes between families in the past week over the results of recent municipal elections, with brawlers firing fireworks, hurling rocks and starting fires.
Drones briefly halt Ben Gurion flights; civilian plane scrambles jets at Sderot
Two Israeli Air Force jets were scrambled Saturday to intercept a small unidentified aircraft spotted over the town of Sderot, near the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, flights at the country’s main airport were briefly halted because of drone activity.

An army spokesman said the civilian aircraft in the south was discovered to be an Israeli light passenger plane that had not coordinated its flight with authorities, in contravention of the law.

The army said the incident would be handled by police.

Flights at Ben Gurion International Airport were briefly halted after two small drones were identified near the airport grounds.
IAF jets scramble to intercept unidentified aircraft near Gaza strip
Two Israeli Air Force jets were scrambled Saturday to intercept a small unidentified aircraft that was spotted over the southern town of Sderot, near the Gaza Strip, the army said.

The military said that the small light aircraft piloted by an Israeli civilian had flown over Sderot without the coordination of authorities, in violation of civil aviation laws. The army said the incident would be handled by police.

“The IDF will work to eliminate the danger of a flight that is not in accordance with the flight laws and procedures of the state,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
Palestinian Authority arrests Hamas parliament member
Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday arrested Ibrahim Abu Salem, a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament – the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Abu Salem, 71, who hails from the village of Bir Nabala, south of Ramallah, is the first PLC member to be arrested since PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent decision to dissolve the parliament. He was elected to the PLC in the January 2006 parliamentary election. Abu Salem, who also served as a preacher at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, was among the 400 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who were temporarily deported by Israel to Marj al-Zuhour, Lebanon, after the kidnapping and murder of Border Policeman Nissim Toledano in 1992.

Because Bir Nabala, which is close to Jerusalem’s Atarot Industrial Park, is part of the PA’s “Jerusalem District,” Abu Salem was elected as a representative of the district in the PLC. He was part of the Hamas-affiliated Reform and Change list.

Abbas’s decision to dissolve the PLC effectively stripped Abu Salem and all council members of their parliamentary immunity – paving the way for the PA security forces to take security and legal action against them.

A PA security official in Ramallah refused to comment on the arrest of Abu Salem.

Hamas strongly condemned the arrest of its senior official, calling it a “flagrant assault on and clear disregard of the history of Palestinian struggle.” Noting that Abu Salem had spent a total of 17 years in Israeli prison for security-related offenses, Hamas said that the PA’s “continued policy of repression and violation of public freedoms was causing huge damage” to the Palestinians and their cause.

Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, condemned the arrest of Abu Salem and accused the PA of “playing with fire.” The PA, he said, “is driving the Palestinians towards the abyss.”
Egypt, U.N. resume truce, reconciliation talks with Hamas
Hamas leaders are scheduled to visit Cairo this week for to resume talks on a ceasefire understanding with Israel and on the failed reconciliation talks with Fatah.

They will meet with Egyptian intelligence officials, Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip said on Saturday.

The discussions, he said, will focus on the security situation in the Gaza Strip and the continued power struggle between Hamas and Fatah.

The announcement came after Egyptian intelligence officials and UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov met on Friday with Hamas leaders in the coastal enclave and discussed with them the recent truce understandings with Israel and Palestinian “reconciliation.”

The planned visit comes amid an unconfirmed report to the effect that Egypt and the UN have offered Hamas a series of measures to ease the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip. The measures include the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between the Strip and Egypt, the reports claimed.
Hamas said to agree to rein in border clashes for reopening of Egypt crossing
Egypt has reportedly agreed to permanently reopen its border crossing with the Gaza Strip if Hamas reins in clashes with Israeli troops.

The Rafah crossing was shuttered in early January after the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority withdrew its employees there, though it was again opened in both directions on Tuesday.

According to the Ynet news site, Egypt’s offer was relayed to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh during a Friday meeting in Gaza with Egyptian intelligence officials and Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East envoy.

Quoting unnamed Palestinian sources, the report said the reopening of the crossing on a permanent basis was intended to give Hamas a concession significant enough to restrain violent protests along the border between Gaza and Egypt.

Speaking at the opening of a mosque on Friday in Gaza City, Haniyeh did not comment on the reported offer but called the trilateral meeting “unprecedented.”

“Gaza is… an area of political interest because what is happening in Gaza affects the general Palestinian scene and what happens, and what will happen, in Gaza affects our region,” he said before returning to talks with UN and Egyptian officials.
Facebook busts vast Iranian manipulation campaign targeting Israel, others
Facebook said Thursday it took down hundreds of “inauthentic” accounts from Iran that were part of a vast manipulation campaign operating in more than 20 countries, including Israel.

The world’s biggest social network said it removed 783 pages, groups and accounts “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran.”

The pages were part of a campaign to promote Iranian interests in various countries by creating fake identities of residents of those nations, according to a statement by Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook.

The announcement was the latest by Facebook as it seeks to stamp out efforts by state actors and others to manipulate the social network using fraudulent accounts.
An example of content on a Facebook page tied to an Iranian manipulation campaign. (Facebook)

“We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people,” Gleicher said.

“We’re taking down these pages, groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they post. In this case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”


Hitler bell in German village church can stay, court rules
A German appeals court ruled on Wednesday that a bell dedicated to Hitler in the church of a small village does not have to be removed.

According to German media reports, the Koblenz appeals court ruled that the bell can remain in place as a historical reminder of Germany's Nazi past.

The bell - emblazoned with a swastika and the words "All for the Fatherland - Adolf Hitler" - has been on display at a Protestant church in Herxheim am Berg since 1934.

Last year, after complaints, the village council voted to keep the bell and hang a plaque nearby explaining the historical significance. The plaque has yet to be affixed.

But a suit in a lower court and in the appeal to the Koblenz state court, both ruled in favor of keeping the bell in place, adding a plaque. The court ruled, according to German media reports, that keeping the bell does not endorse or downplay the suffering of the Jews, nor does it make a "mockery of the victims of Hitler's terror and the Holocaust," as the suit claimed.
TV series ‘Holocaust,’ which changed how Germans saw their history, airs again
For Sigmount Koenigsberg, the most searing scene in the US-made “Holocaust” miniseries broadcast here in Germany 40 years ago was when a German child throws photos of a Jewish family into a fireplace. The pictures curl up and melt in the flames.

The moment “somehow burned into me,” recalls Koenigsberg, 58, a Jew who lives in Berlin.

In fact, the four-part series starring a young Meryl Streep and James Woods – first shown in the United States in 1978 – burned itself into the consciences of many Germans at the time, helping bring about a shift in the country’s approach to its history.

This month, ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, WDR (West German Broadcasting) marked the 40th anniversary of that groundbreaking broadcast by bringing Streep, Woods, Tovah Feldshuh, Michael Moriarty and the program’s other stars back into German living rooms.
After outcry, German sausage museum nixes plans to move to former Nazi camp
A German sausage museum apparently won’t move to the site of a former Nazi camp for slave laborers after news of the plan triggered strong criticism.

The German Bratwurst Museum was slated to move from Holzhausen to an area on the outskirts of the eastern town of Muehlhausen that was once a satellite site for the larger Buchenwald concentration camp.

That drew criticism from Jewish leaders and others.

Uwe Keith, the head of the association that operates the museum, was quoted late Friday as telling Bild newspaper that “we definitely won’t build there.”

He told news agency dpa the group had discovered the site’s history only Wednesday and will launch a “complete re-evaluation.” It had been offered the site by a private investor who bought it from the German government in 2008.
Anti-Semitic graffiti found on LA synagogue
Anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on the façade of a Los Angeles synagogue.

Police are investigating who wrote “f**king Jews” on the Mishkan Torah religious seminary and synagogue in the neighborhood of Tarzana on Tuesday but have no suspects in custody, CBS’s KCAL9 television channel reported.

“It’s really hurtful, I mean to all the members here, they’re being hurt with such a thing that somebody passed by a synagogue and wrote such a thing on the wall,” Rabbi Shlomo Haghighi, who works at the synagogue, told KCAL9.

Separately on Tuesday, Turkish flags were hung at two Armenian schools in the nearby San Fernando Valley.

The Turkish Ottoman Empire is blamed for the deaths of about a million Armenians during World War I.

Police have no suspects in custody in connection with that incident, either.
Hebrew University Students Win Int’l Debating Competition
A duo of debaters from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem won the 2019 World University Debating Championship in the English Second-Language category. The contest, hosted by the University of Cape Town Debating Union, wrapped up on January 4.

Hebrew University students Roy Schulman (a master’s degree candidate from Yehud) and Elaye Karstadt (a PhD student from Jerusalem) advanced to the finals after the full team competed against thousands of students from 20 countries. They then defeated pairs from Russia, Malaysia and Japan to take the ESL title.

In addition, Amichai Even-Chen and Ido Kotler from Tel Aviv University made it to the final rounds of the general Open competition for native English-speakers. Among their opponents were students from Oxford and Harvard.

“For a long time, I wasn’t considered good at debate,” posted Karstadt on Facebook, noting that it took three years to get his first speaking break and a bit longer until he was sent by the HUJ Debate Society as a speaker to a major international competition.
Bryan Cranston to star in new TV legal thriller based on Israeli series
Bryan Cranston will star in a new TV legal thriller set in New Orleans based on an Israeli series.

Showtime said Thursday that Cranston will play the lead role in “Your Honor,” a limited series from executive producers Robert and Michelle King of “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight” and Peter Moffat.

Cranston, who’s also producing, plays a respected judge whose son is involved in a hit-and-run accident. It becomes the catalyst for what Showtime called “a high-stakes game of lies, deceit and impossible choices.”

“Your Honor” is based on the Israeli show “Kvodo,” according to Variety, which debuted in 2017.
Cate Blanchett at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem
Cate Blanchett is one of the most celebrated actors on the planet. Over the past quarter of a century, she has stockpiled a plethora of industry accolades, including Oscars, British Academy Awards and Golden Globes, to mention but a few. But if you are one of the few who remain unconvinced by her thespian output to date, I venture to suggest that a visit to Manifesto should do the trick.

Not that Blanchett is the point. The said cinematic installation – which is on show here at the Israel Museum in cooperation with the Nationalgalerie in the Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin – opened a couple of weeks ago and is due to run until November. It is the brainchild of 53-year-old German artist Julian Rosefeldt and comprises 13 visual vignettes displayed on outsized screens, measuring 1.8m. x 3.2m.

Each screen presents a 10-minute filmic slot with Blanchett portraying a vastly different role in each. The dizzying spread of characters includes a widow delivering a eulogy at a funeral, a TV anchorwoman, a teacher and a feral-looking homeless man. The latter is the only male role in the lineup, although interestingly, 10 of the 13 shorts were shot by men.

There seem to be contrasting, or oxymoronic, junctures right across the board of Manifesto. In addition to the gender imbalance, both on- and off-screen, the whole visual shebang is an exercise in multifarious calls on the visitor’s senses and concentration. It makes for an intriguing, and a mite challenging, but definitively alluring experience.
Once a refugee from Iran, a Jewish state senator ascends in New York politics
Forty years ago, Anna Kaplan was separated from her family as a 13-year-old girl. But the circumstances were quite different from the stories from the US-Mexico border peppering world headlines. She was detached from her family of her parents’ own volition.

It was in the middle of the Iranian revolution in 1979 Tehran, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei overthrew the shah. Kaplan was part of a small but vibrant community that was suddenly intensely vulnerable: Iran’s Jews.

Born in Tabriz, Kaplan was raised in the Iranian capital, where she attended a Jewish day school. In the 1970s, roughly 80,000 Jews lived in Iran. “Jews lived well under the shah,” Kaplan recently told The Times of Israel. “Jews did prosper under his regime. But it still was a Muslim country.”

There were, she said, occasional humiliations for the country’s Jews. Kaplan remembers an incident in which she was shopping with her mother in a supermarket. The vendor wouldn’t let her touch the food she wanted to buy. “There was always a sense that we needed to live very carefully and not really rock the boat,” Kaplan recalled.

But once the revolution hit, and the rapacious anti-Semite Khomenei gained power, Kaplan’s parents realized it was time to leave.

Except they were not quite ready. Fearful for their children’s lives, they sent them away.
African Jewish communities get more recognition after years on the margins
At a conference here on Jewish life in Africa, Magda Haroun spoke of being only one of a handful of Jews left in Egypt, a country that was once home to a Jewish community of 80,000.

Abere Endeshaw Kerehu shared the struggles faced by the approximately 8,000 Jews still living in Ethiopia who face anti-Semitism at home but have not yet been allowed to immigrate to Israel.

But others offered a more optimistic picture. Rabbi Levi Banon said Casablanca, Morocco is home to “a small but very vibrant” Jewish community that operates 22 active synagogues, while Remy Ilona urged acceptance of a growing community of Nigerian Igbo people who he says are practicing rabbinic Judaism.

The conference, hosted by the American Sephardi Federation and the Morocco-based Association Mimouna from January 27-29 was noteworthy not only because of the range of perspectives it offered but also because it included speakers from emerging Jewish communities in Africa, such as Ilona’s group, alongside those from established communities in countries like Egypt and Morocco.

Though there is an increasing number of people seeking to practice Judaism in sub-Saharan Africa, they have largely been ignored by the mainstream Jewish community and Israel. Organizers say this is the first conference to focus on Jewish Africa that is not exclusively for academics.
Copenhagen Synagogue Shooting Victim Remembered on Fourth Anniversary of Attack
Friday marked the fourth anniversary — on the Hebrew calendar — of the ISIS-inspired shooting attack at the Great Synagogue in Copenhagen in which a Jewish volunteer security guard was murdered.

The heads of the Chabad house in the Danish capital, Rabbi Yitzi and Rochel Loewenthal, remembered Dan Uzan, who was 37 at the time of his death, in a Facebook post.

“Today is the fourth Yartziet (Hebrew date of passing) of Dan Uzan,” they wrote. “Dan the Man, you are sorely missed. By your family, friends, community, all of Denmark, and the whole Jewish world.”



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