Friday, July 05, 2019

From Ian:

Evelyn Gordon: When Human Rights Become Acceptable Collateral Damage
Three seemingly unrelated incidents occurred last week, yet all share a common denominator: They exemplify the way anti-Israel politics has corrupted the concept of human rights.

Let’s start with best-selling British novelist Richard Zimler’s report that two British cultural organizations recently refused to host him for lectures about his new book, though he has lectured many times on previous books. “They asked me if you were Jewish, and the moment I said you were, they lost all interest,” he quoted his publicist as saying.

It’s not that these groups have anything against Jews per se. They simply feared that hosting a Jew would make them a target for anti-Israel protesters.

Zimler isn’t Israeli, has no relatives or investments in Israel and doesn’t write about Israel. His latest book is set in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago, but its storyline is Christian rather than Jewish (it’s called The Gospel According to Lazarus). So he wouldn’t seem an obvious target, given BDS apologists’ repeated claim that anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitic.

Unfortunately, much of the anti-Israel crowd hasn’t gotten that memo. See, for instance, the German courts which ruled that torching a German synagogue wasn’t a hate crime, but an understandable anti-Israel protest. Or the student organizations which demanded that a South African university expel all Jewish students to show its pro-Palestinian bona fides. Or the Norwegian attorney general who ruled that “F*** Jews” isn’t hate speech, but an expression of “dissatisfaction with [Israel’s] policies,” although the speaker never mentioned Israel. Or the Dyke Marches that banned Jews from holding Jewish pride flags because they remind some people of Israeli flags. And so forth.

So despite deploring the unnamed organizations’ cowardice, I can’t dismiss their fears as unfounded. And that’s the problem.

Human-rights groups and liberals worldwide rush to defend the “rights” of BDS activists; see, for instance, their opposition to anti-BDS legislation on the false grounds that it violates freedom of speech (it actually applies only to actions, not speech). Yet they’ve shown no interest in defending Jewish rights in most of the examples cited above. Evidently, Jewish rights are acceptable collateral damage for the sacred cause of anti-Zionism.
A Century-Old Defense of Zionism in the American Press
One hundred years ago, the Zionist activist Harry Sachar wrote an essay titled “A Jewish Palestine,” which appeared in the July 1919 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Writing less than two years after the Balfour Declaration, and a year before the League of Nations assigned the mandate for Palestine to Britain, Sachar made an impassioned plea for the creation of a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel:

The Zionist movement is a longing and striving to restore to the Jewish people normal national life. . . . The Zionist movement will continue until the Jewish people are once more living a normal national life, when it will be transformed into the active expression of that normal national life.

There are some who deny that there is such a thing as the Jewish people, but the denial is a modern innovation. Very rare is the non-Jew who thinks of Jews as merely a sect without national quality; and it is doubtful whether among the Jews themselves there could be found a single instance of such a denial much earlier than the second decade of the 19th century.

Let us try to clear the ground by attempting not so much a definition as a characterization of Judaism. Judaism is not a religion in the Western sense of the word. Judaism is the precipitated spiritual experience of the Jewish people. The idea of Judaism is inseparable from the idea of the Jewish people, and the idea of the Jewish people is inseparable from the idea of the Jewish land. You may see this in every form and expression of Jewish religious life. Individual prayer, prayer for the individual Jew alone, is exceedingly rare. When the Jew prays, he prays not simply for himself, but for all Israel; and this national conception permeates prayer even in what might be considered to be the most personal and individual incidents of life: birth, marriage, death. The welding of the idea of the Jewish people with the idea of the Jewish land is manifest in every page of the Jewish liturgy.

Israel and the Left: Three Studies of the Crisis: (1) IfNotNow and The Dyke March Controversy
IfNotNow’s support for barring the Jewish Pride flag from the Dyke March was another example of its failure to distinguish anti-Zionism from antisemitism. The left’s overall inability to make this distinction, and challenge antisemitism in its ranks, has been a key source of the progressive movement’s weakness. To overcome it, we need clearer boundaries and a new agenda for the Jewish left, argues Daniel Kalick.

It will have to confront leftists who uphold virtually all arguments against Jews and Israel under the banner of ‘criticism.’ It will need to elucidate, rather than collapse, important distinctions that are leveled by doing so. It will have to recognise that ‘criticism’ purporting to explain world misery through the supposed omnipotence and malevolence of ‘the Zionists’ is a form of antisemitism. It will need to loudly challenge such antisemitism wherever it exists, discarding the self-serving narrative that it only or primarily comes from the right.

It will have to defend liberal Zionists against vicious smears, recognising them as allies in the movement to end the occupation, while continuing to criticise their contradictory positions. It will have to defend Israel against demonisation, investing in its institutions as flawed but useful stepping stones to a progressive future, while continuing to fight Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its denial of their right to self-determination. It will need to support leaders who attempt to carve out such a position, and counter left spokesman who undermine them.

It will have to question leftists who celebrate the fact that Israel is becoming a wedge issue in the Democratic Party. It will need to point out the likelihood that many lifelong Jewish Democrats will either stay home on Election Day, or leave the Party altogether, if unqualified support for BDS becomes part of the Party platform, as it has for the Democratic Socialists of America. It will have to ask leftists agitating for this state of affairs if more Republican electoral victories, now and in the long-run, will be worth it.

It will need to protect and strengthen the space where one can oppose left antisemitism and still be a leftist, instead of letting that space be destroyed. It will have to recover and re-tell the history of leftists who fought left antisemitism in order to strengthen the progressive movement – like Jean Amery, Ellen Willis, Moishe Postone, Morris Schappes, Robert Fine, Norman Geras, Alan Johnson and recently David Hirsh – instead of letting them be erased by left scholars and activists.

In a word, IfNotNow will have to define how to incorporate both an affirmation of Jewish national identity and opposition to left antisemitism into the progressive movement’s theory and practice. It will sometimes need to confront other leftists along the way, challenging them instead of capitulating. It will no doubt be stigmatised and alienated by its seeming allies for doing so. But drawing the line from time to time, however uncomfortable and unpopular, is the price of building a successful big-tent movement. Is IfNotNow, and the rest of the Jewish left, willing to pay?
Why London BDS should be falling down
When I started university in the fall of 2016, I was hopeful about making a difference on campus. I was aware that anti-Zionism held a prominent position in British universities. I was aware of the size and scope of pro-Palestinian campaigns, straddling not just the Palestinian groups themselves, but often Arab, socialist and Islamic societies, too. However, I was hopeful that if I just had the right strategy: If I brought in the right speakers, conducted the right campaigns and publicly spoke the truth about Israel, I could change their minds.

How wrong I was.

In October 2016, the American pro-Israel nonprofit CAMERA's event with speaker Hen Mazzig at University College London was violently protested against by anti-Zionist students. They banged on the windows and walls, encircled the room and drowned out Hen’s voice. The protesters did not simply want to stop Hen from speaking. Rather, their aim was a display of hatred: passionate hatred. This hatred was evident as they laughed when we, the pro-Israel attendees of this event, were escorted out of the premises by the police. Their hatred was evident when their fingers were pointed in our faces, as they cried “Shame! Shame!” Shame on us for wanting to listen to an Israeli speaker!

Some argued that this opposition came as a result of Hen’s service in the Israel Defense Forces. However, the reality is that the protestors had a fundamental problem not simply with the IDF’s military actions, but with the very right to Jewish self-determination. One of the protestors, a student at UCL, was filmed arguing that in the 21st century, “We don’t need no Jewish majority state.”

The aim of these anti-Zionists is ultimately to disenfranchise Jews from political power. To leave us isolated, powerless, and weak.

At many institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom, they come far too close to succeeding: SOAS University of London, University College Birmingham, University College London, King’s College London, City of Bristol College and University of Warwick are just a few high-ranking, well-respected universities that have far too long been “written off” as places where anti-Zionist activism is simply an accepted part of student and academic life.
‘Palestine Expo’ to kick off in London on Saturday
Ever wanted to play a game of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Bowling, where you can “bowl down [the] occupation” in Israel? How about a chance to eat dinner with your family, except there’s an “apartheid wall” separating between you? Or what about a chance to learn about “Israel Apartheid” and the importance of cultural boycott?

These are just some of events held at the "Palestine Expo" at Olympia London in the UK on Saturday and Sunday, organized by the Friends of Al-Aqsa.

There will also be talks and panel discussions on numerous subjects including the Nation-State Law, the Great Return Marches taking place in Gaza and “decolonizing Palestine.”

The exhibition will also have culture and heritage stalls, food and activities for children including a mosaic art stall to create a “beautiful images of Palestine using colorful mosaic pieces” and a theater event on the storytelling of “the popular Prophets in Palestine.”

However, UK Lawyers for Israel has been fighting until the last minute to have the event shuttered because of its anti-Israel and BDS bias, however it admitted that “it may be too late to cancel” this years "Palestine Expo."

In a statement, the organization said that FOA were “under pressure to curb their advocacy of BDS and hate speech.”

The organization explained that it had written to the Olympia London at the end of May asking them to cancel the event.

However the request was turned down. Despite this, there has been continuous back and forth with UKLFI writing letters to “three of Olympia’s German alert them...that the organizers of the forthcoming exhibition at Olympia are major promoters of BDS against Israel.”

The point was highlighted following a recent resolution passed by the German Bundestag condemning “the arguments and methods of the BDS movement as antisemitic”

Pro-BDS activists call for Jennifer Lopez to cancel Tel Aviv concert
An Israeli BDS group called "Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within" has recently penned a letter to pop-icon Jennifer Lopez in a attempt to persuade her to cancel her show in Tel Aviv this coming August.

The group who wrote the letter consists of Israeli citizens who oppose to "government’s policies of oppression, occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people."

The BDS group has also presented a petition, stemming from another organization called Code Pink, calling for the artist to boycott Israel in all its forms.

"To understand why we are writing you, we would like to start off by saying that, much like Sun City in South Africa under the apartheid regime, the city of Tel Aviv, where you are about to perform, is used as a tool for marketing the State of Israel as a 'cool' and 'cultured' democracy, while hiding a brutal history of colonization, even that of the city itself," the letter wrote.

The letter continues saying that Tel Aviv itself sits "atop the ruins of Palestinian villages" that were desecrated or evacuated during the War of Independence of 1948 by Israeli soldiers, claiming that the act was an "ethnic cleansing," and that the colonization has continued in the West Bank since the Six Day War of 1967 while the Israeli government continues to expand their settlement projects and presence within the Palestinian Territory.
Hollywood com: Peter Gabriel and Mark Ruffalo support Talib Kweli after German festival removal
Rocker Peter Gabriel and actor Mark Ruffalo are among the stars who have condemned the removal of Talib Kweli from a German festival line-up after the rapper refused to denounce a pro-Palestine campaign.

The Get By hitmaker and activist was recently forced to scrap plans to tour Germany after he was dropped from the bill of Dusseldorf’s upcoming Open Source Festival for reportedly failing to distance himself from supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes a cultural boycott of Israel.

Organisers’ controversial decision has sparked an outcry among Kweli’s peers in the entertainment industry, who have banded together to sign an open letter attacking event bosses for the move.

Former Roxy Music star Brian Eno, rockers Thurston Moore and Tom Morello, rapper David Banner, filmmaker Boots Riley, and Game of Thrones actor Liam Cunningham are also among the 103 signatories to add their names to the notice, published in Britain’s The Guardian on Wednesday (03Jul19).

The letter read: “We are shocked that the Open Source Festival in Dusseldorf has disinvited the black American rapper Talib Kweli, leading to the cancellation of his Germany tour, after he refused to denounce the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.
Israel Project head denies group’s demise, but insider says whole staff laid off
The Israel Project’s chairman says that reports of the advocacy organization’s demise are premature in the wake of the surprise departure of its CEO.

An insider told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the organization has let go of all its staff without notice or their final salary.

The advocacy group’s board is meeting Friday to consider what to do next. Allan Myer, The Israel Project chairman, told JTA that its future was yet to be determined.

“From the reports I’ve heard, much of what is being said is premature, to say the least,” he said in an email. “Our Board of Directors is meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation. There are a number of options and considerations that will be discussed, including staffing, finances and the future of the Israel office of the organization. So, here on the 4th of July, there may be conjecture, and I understand that, but once the Board has taken full measure of the situation, the best I can say is … stay tuned.”

A pro-Israel insider in Washington with first-hand knowledge of the status of The Israel Project’s staff told JTA that all 13 staff in Washington, DC, and Israel were let go this week without notice, without their final salary and without severance pay. The group cannot pay some of its debts, the insider said.

French bill to combat online hate speech excludes anti-Israel sentiment
A final vote on the full text is expected next Tuesday.

“We should not tolerate on the internet what we do not tolerate on the street,” Laetitia Avia, the black MP who drafted the bill, told parliament on Wednesday, adding that she herself could no longer bear being racially abused by social media trolls.

The CRIF umbrella group of French Jews hailed the bill as “going in a positive direction.”

Critics say the law places too much power in the platforms’ hands by making them arbiters of online speech.

MPs debated the bill late into the night Wednesday to try to agree on what constitutes “obviously hateful” messages or videos.

They agreed to include condoning crimes against humanity, but not hateful comments about the state of Israel. It is unclear whether this will be covered by legislation later this year on definitions of anti-Semitism.

Other parts of the bill include a proposal to create an identical button across all social media platforms and search engines enabling users to flag messages that are “obviously” hateful and illegal.
Report: California sees anti-Semitic hate crimes increase by 21 percent
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report on July 2 revealing that anti-Semitic hate crimes increased by 21 percent in 2018 from the year prior.

The report documented 126 instances of anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2018—an increase from 104 in 2017. However, that marked a decline from the 160 instances of anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2009.

Jews were the most frequent target of anti-religious hate crimes in California in 2018, followed by the “anti-other religion” category at 30 instances, 28 instances of anti-Muslim hate crimes and 10 instances of anti-Catholic hate crimes.

Despite the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, hate crimes overall in California dropped by 2.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the report.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Los Angeles tweeted that they were “troubled by a 21 percent increase in reported hate crimes against the Jewish community in California in 2018. The Jewish community remains the largest target of religion-motivated hate crime. Our leadership must speak out against anti-Semitism and hate whenever it occurs.”

The ADL’s 2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents found that 2018 was the third-highest year of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide since 1979, although anti-Semitic incidents had declined by 5 percent from 2017.
FBI charges internet troll who threatened synagogue, Muslim candidate
A North Carolina man charged with anonymously threatening to lynch a Muslim-American political candidate in Virginia also is accused of posting an anti-Semitic threat on a Florida synagogue’s Facebook page.

An FBI agent outlined those allegations against Joseph Cecil Vandevere, 52, in an affidavit unsealed before Vandevere’s initial court appearance Wednesday in Asheville, North Carolina.

Investigators linked Vandevere to a threatening comment posted in February 2018 on the website of a synagogue in Plantation, Florida, the affidavit said. A rabbi at Ramat Shalom Synagogue contacted the FBI after somebody using the name Bob Smith posted a “disturbing” comment in response to the rabbi’s post showing support for the Parkland, Florida, high school where a gunman killed 17 people earlier that month, the agent wrote.

Vandevere is charged with interstate communication of a threat to injure a person in connection with a tweet directed at Virginia state Senate candidate Qasim Rashid. The tweet included a picture of a 1915 lynching and read, “VIEW YOUR DESTINY.”

Rashid posted a screenshot of the threatening tweet in March 2018 and reported it to the FBI.

The FBI subpoenaed Facebook records associated with the “Bob Smith” account after the Florida rabbi reported the anti-Semitic comment, which called for “public arrests and executions” of “dual citizen Jews.”
'Holocaust is a lie' painted on Jewish cafe in Melbourne
A Jewish cafe in Melbourne, Australia was defaced Thursday with a swastika and the words, “The Holocaust is a lie.”

According to the Australian Jewish News, cafe owner Aliza Shuvaly arrived at work to find the graffiti.

“I started to shake, I didn’t know what to do,” Shuvaly told AJN, noting that many members of her family were Holocaust survivors.

She said that she is now scared, but that she will not let the incident deter her from running her business.

“I couldn’t close the cafe,” she told AJN. “It’s not going to break me as a Jew. I’m not sure if I’m the target or [if it’s] just because we are Jewish.”

Antisemitism is on the rise in Australia. The 12 month period ending September 30, 2018 saw a 59% increase over the previous year in total antisemitic incidents in Australia involving threats or acts of violence, according to the annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia published by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).

In response to the cafe incident, Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich told the Australian paper, “We need to make sure that we do not reach the point where Jews in Victoria will not feel safe walking the streets or in their businesses, yet the recent surge in hate and white-supremacists activity in our state, which is hitting an all-time high, is causing many to feel this way.”
Sixth suspect arrested in violent February assault on Argentina’s chief rabbi
A sixth suspect was detained Thursday for the February assault on the chief rabbi of Argentina, Gabriel Davidovich, in Buenos Aires, the Clarin daily reported.

The Security Ministry said that two guns and a Buenos Aires police badge were confiscated. Argentina’s federal police made the arrest at a home in the Villa Riachuelo neighborhood in Buenos Aires.

The suspect, 53, had in his possession a Beretta 9mm caliber with the magazine and 15 cartridges, and a .22 caliber revolver, both of which were taken by the officers. Also, during the raid, a police credential was found, which had been reported stolen.

In April, Argentinian media reported that suspects detained for the attack included “Coco,” identified as the head of a local gang that committed multiple home invasions in Buenos Aires in recent months.
Ukraine synagogue gets first post-Holocaust Torah scroll
Ukraine synagogue where Menachem Begin got married gets its first Torah scroll since World War II.

A Torah scroll was dedicated Wednesday at the restored Choral synagogue in the Ukrainian town of Drohobych.

Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, dedicated the new Torah scroll together with the representatives of Jewish communities from across Ukraine, local residents, and descendants of Jewish families from Drohobych who arrived from Israel and the US for this special occasion.

The synagogue restoration project, initiated by Felix Vekselberg, took more than 7 years to complete and was funded by his son, Viktor Vekselberg.

Speaking before the guests, Rabbi Bleich said that, “Today’s event marks another important milestone in the revival of Jewish life not only in Drohobych, but all across Ukraine.”

“Viktor Vekselberg was born and raised in Drohobych and, for many years, has supported the Jewish community. I regret that he himself was not able to attend today’s celebration, as he has been banned entry into Ukraine for political reasons. I am sure that, given his great efforts in helping develop Drohobych, he has all the merits to be considered for the title of Honorary Citizen of this town,” Yaakov Dov Bleich added.

The Choral synagogue was built in the mid-19th century for one of the biggest and most thriving Jewish communities of Galicia. According to its current members, Drohobych was home to 17,000 Jews before the Holocaust, who represented about half of the town’s population at the time. It is estimated that in 1942 and 1943, Nazis massacred between 11,000 and 14,000 Jews there.
Israel-Based Elbit Subsidiary to Supply Cyber Intelligence System to Dutch National Police
Cyber Intelligence, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, will be providing the Dutch National Police with a cyber intelligence system, Elbit announced Wednesday. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Due to the sensitivity of the system, little detail was provided about the system itself except that is is part of Elbit Systems’ Intelligence 360 suite, and is designed to enable scalability and fit other custom requirements of the Dutch National Police.

Established in 1966 and headquartered in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Nasdaq and Tel Aviv-listed Elbit and its subsidiaries operate in a variety of military-oriented and technological domains, including electro-optical systems, command and control systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Elbit employs around 12,500 people worldwide, 10,000 of them in Israel.
Tel Aviv becomes electric scooter paradise for some, hell for others
Matan Ben Ari was among the many taking to one of Tel Aviv’s main streets on a recent day — not with a car or public transport, but with an electric scooter.

He uses them all week, including on Saturdays, the weekly Sabbath or Jewish day of rest, when no public transport is allowed.

“There is no public transport and taxis are expensive,” said the 28-year-old. “That leaves this solution. Also it’s fun to travel this way.”

Israelis in the country’s economic capital Tel Aviv, have embraced electric scooters and their smart-phone rental systems, using them to zip along Mediterranean beaches and avoid heavy traffic.

But, as in other cities, the growing popularity of electric scooters has not come without complaints from those who consider them to be a dangerous nuisance.

Wind at their backs and phones in their hands, Ben Ari and others were riding along Ibn Gavirol street, which stretches north-to-south across the city and where they compete for space with bicycles.
Rags to riches tale of five of France’s top talents makes for magnificent film
From eulogizing Anwar Sadat in song to sharing laughs onscreen with Jerry Lewis, five North African Jewish immigrants revolutionized French pop culture. Their impact from the 1960s through the ’80s is now being further immortalized in a new documentary, “Les Magnifiques.”

Algerian-born singer Enrico Macias became an international pop star. Philippe Clair of Morocco and Robert Castel of Algeria mastered the art of comedy. Tunisian producers Norbert Saada and Régis Talar excelled at finding talent.

“These five Magnifiques are part of the life of France, even if sometimes we ignore it,” Yves Azeroual, who co-directed the film with Mathieu Alterman, wrote in an email. “Through this film I wanted to pay homage to their work, their talent and also their tenacity.”

Azeroual and Alterman both have careers in French journalism. Azeroual is also an author and documentary filmmaker whose subjects have included the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“Les Magnifiques” made its international premiere at the New York Sephardic Film Festival in March. Azeroual said that its five subjects “were very honored that we salute their work. And everyone was proud to be in the same movie as the other four.”

The film begins with the co-stars meeting for dinner at the famed Paris restaurant, La Boule Rouge. Over fig liqueur, the five reflect back on successful lives that all got their start in French North Africa.
Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who preached forgiveness of Nazis, dies at 85
Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who championed forgiveness even for those who carried out the Holocaust atrocities, has died at the age of 85.

Kor was in Krakow, Poland, for an annual educational trip with the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, that she founded and died in the morning in her hotel room. While her health had recently improved, Kor had a tough year medically with a heart surgery and respiratory issues, said her son Alex Kor, who was with her when she died.

“My mom would be mad at me for crying,” he said in a phone interview from Poland. “She would also tell other people not to cry to try and follow in her footsteps to try to make all wrongs right and make the world a better place. That’s her legacy. That’s her gift.”

Kor was a Jewish native of Romania who was sent in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where most of her family was killed. She and her twin sister survived, but were subjected to inhumane medical experiments.

Kor was a longtime resident of Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1985, she founded CANDLES, or Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors.

Museum officials said the center will be closed until Tuesday in honor of Kor’s memory. A public memorial service will be held.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said the “world lost a giant.”

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