Monday, September 09, 2019

From Ian:

Matti Friedman (NYTs): The One Thing No Israeli Wants to Discuss
The decisive factor in next week’s election — and the reason for Benjamin Netanyahu’s durability — is a repressed memory.

When trying to understand Israel’s election on Sept. 17, the second in the space of six months, you can easily get lost in the details — corruption charges, coalition wrangling, bickering between left and right. But the best explainer might be a small film that you’re unlikely to see about something that people here prefer not to discuss.

The opening scene of “Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive,” which just won the prize for best first feature at the Jerusalem Film Festival, catches the main character grimacing as he overhears a glib tour guide. When she describes downtown Jerusalem to her group as “beautiful,” the “center of night life and food for the young generation,” Ronen, an earnest man in his late 30s, interrupts.

“Don’t believe her,” he tells the tourists in Hebrew-accented English. “You see this market? Fifteen years ago it was a war zone. Next to my high school there was a terror attack. Next to the university there was a terror attack. First time I made sex — terror attack.” One of the tourists sidles over, interested. “Yes,” Ronen tells her, “we had to stop.”

No single episode has shaped Israel’s population and politics like the wave of suicide bombings perpetrated by Palestinians in the first years of the 21st century. Much of what you see here in 2019 is the aftermath of that time, and every election since has been held in its shadow. The attacks, which killed hundreds of Israeli civilians, ended hopes for a negotiated peace and destroyed the left, which was in power when the wave began. Any sympathy that the Israeli majority had toward Palestinians evaporated.

More than any other single development, that period explains the durability of Benjamin Netanyahu, which outsiders sometimes struggle to understand. Simply put, in the decade before Mr. Netanyahu came to power in 2009, the fear of death accompanied us in public places. There was a chance your child could be blown up on the bus home from school. In the decade since, that has ceased to be the case. Next to that fact, all other issues pale. Whatever credit the prime minister really deserves for the change, for many voters it’s a good enough reason to keep him in power on Sept. 17. (h/t Yerushalimey)


Bari Weiss: Anti-Semites with PhDs are harder to fight
In order to be welcomed as a Jew in a growing number of progressive groups, you have to disavow a list of things that grows longer every day. Whereas once it was enough to criticize Israeli government policy, specifically its treatment of Palestinians, now Israel’s very existence must be denounced. Whereas once it was enough to for­swear the Jewish Defense League, now the very idea of Jewish power must be abjured. Whereas once Jewish success had to be explained, now it has to be apologized for. Whereas once only Israel’s government was demonized, now it is the Jewish movement for self-determination itself.

This bargain, which is really an ultimatum, explains so much.

It is why Jewish leaders of the Women’s March were subjected to anti-Semitic attacks and exclusion by the movement’s other leaders.

It is why at the University of Virginia, Jewish student activists were barred from a minority-student coalition to fight white supremacy.

It is why Manny’s, a popular café and event space in San Francisco, is being regularly protested. Its owner – a gay, progressive Mizrahi Jew – is, according to the protesters, “a Zionist and a gentrifier.”

And just as those on the far right have an out when accused of anti-Semitism – we like Jews just fine so long as they self-deport to Israel and keep our country unsullied – those on the far left have an out as well. We like Jews just fine, they say, as long as they shed their stubborn particularism and adhere, without fail, to our ever-shifting ideas of justice and equality. Jews are welcome so long as they undertake a kind of secular conversion by disavowing many or most of the things that actually make them Jewish. Whereas Jews once had to convert to Christianity, now they have to renounce Jewish power and convert to anti-Zionism.

Self-Mutilation as a Jewish Cultural Strategy and the Sad History of the Yevsektsiya
Of course, Judaism has always been uncool, going back to its origins as the planet’s only monotheism, featuring a bossy and unsexy invisible God. Uncoolness is pretty much Judaism’s brand, which is why cool people find it so threatening—and why Jews who are willing to become cool are absolutely necessary to Hanukkah-style anti-Semitism’s success. In the days of Antiochus, this type of anti-Semitism needed those boys who voluntarily underwent painful genital surgery to prove that Jews weren’t the problem—just the barbarity of Jewish law. During the Soviet era, it needed proud internationalists to prove that Jews weren’t the problem, just the repulsive chauvinism of Jewish national identity—including what we now call Zionism.

The Soviets actually went one better. In 1918, they created an entire branch of their government solely for cool Jews, whose paid job was to persecute the uncool ones. This was called the Yevsektsiya, or the Jewish Sections of the Communist Party, and in their brief and bloody lifespan, one finds the origins of today’s supposedly novel concept: Jews who are of course not anti-Semitic (how could they be? they’re Jews!), but simply anti-Zionist. In the course of not being anti-Semitic and being simply anti-Zionist, the Yevsektsiya managed to persecute, imprison, torture, and murder thousands of Jews, until their leaders were themselves purged.

Yevsektsiya-style anti-Semitism, or Hannukah-style anti-Semitism, always promises Jews a kind of nobility, offering them the opportunity to cleanse themselves of whatever the people around them happen to find revolting. The Jewish traits designated as repulsive vary by country and time period, but they invariably contradict the specific values that the surrounding culture has embraced as “universal.”

The reason for this is clear: There is actually nothing “universal” about those particular values, except the insecurity of the societies hoping to enforce them. Not everyone feels it is critical to a well-lived life to play sports in the nude; not everyone believes that Jesus is the son of God; not everyone agrees that authoritarian central planning is the solution to the world’s ills; not everyone thinks that denouncing one’s ties to an ancestral homeland is a sign of virtue. Jewish particularity exposes the arrogance of a society’s self-righteous leaders along with their profound insecurity, their deep fear of any suggestion that there are other ways to be. Those insecure leaders then enlist the help of Jews by promising them a merit badge of universal righteousness. Thanks to Judaism’s inherent uncoolness, there will never be a shortage of Jews willing to comply.



Netanyahu reveals site where Iran ‘experimented on nuclear weapons development’
In his latest dramatic revelation on Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday exposed the existence of a secret nuclear facility in central Iran in which he said the regime had conducted experiments in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The reveal, he said, was made possible by Israel’s raid on a warehouse in Tehran last year housing Iran’s secret nuclear weapons archives.

“Today, we’re revealing that yet another secret nuclear site was exposed in the archives that we brought from Tehran. In this site, Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said in a brief statement delivered to journalists at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Once Iran detected that Israel had learned about the secret nuclear site, located in Abadeh, south of Isfahan, the regime quickly destroyed it, Netanyahu said. The prime minister, who showed before and after photos of the site captioned June and July of this year, did not specify the nature of the experiments conducted there.

Analyst Ehud Ya’ari, of Israel’s Channel 12 news, said later Monday that the site was near one of the largest air defense facilities Iran has built in the past seven years, and not far from Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility and a yellowcake production facility at Isfahan.

“When Iran realized that we uncovered the site, here’s what they did: they destroyed the site,” Netanyahu said. “They just wiped it out. They wiped out the site… They destroyed the evidence or at least tried to destroy the evidence.”


New Dershowitz Memoir Is a Must-Read for Israel Advocates
In the book’s penultimate chapter, Dershowitz takes on “The New Antisemitism” — from Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and intersectionality to outright attempts to silence pro-Israel advocates, of which Dershowitz has often been a victim, primarily on college campuses.

This fervent Zionist closes by describing an attempt to smear him with fantastically fabricated stories about his alleged sexual misconduct — and his defiance in the face of all lies.

It doesn’t matter to Israel haters whether the allegations are completely disproved, struck, withdrawn, mistaken and made up — as they were in this case — as long as it negatively impacts my ability to defend Israel. I will continue to fight back against these anti-Israel motivated defamations.

We who deal with the daily drumbeat of wild, baseless lies against the Jewish state can appreciate Dershowitz’s frustration in the face of such incessant unfair attacks — but we can also draw strength from his determination to stand tall against the haters. At 80 years old and still unbowed, may Dershowitz continue to provide such empowering inspiration for years to come.
The New Catholic Zionism
Despite the drastically falling rates of religious affiliation and practice in advanced Western countries—and despite the claims of secularists that religion has altogether caused quite enough trouble in the world and should best be ignored or kept private—religious faith itself has stubbornly declined to disappear.

Not only has the world’s population at large continued to be deeply religious, if not increasingly so, and not only has secularism, for its part, compiled its own record of shame in terms of tyranny, persecution, and bigotry, but the deep convictions instilled by religious faith have inspired any number of history’s noblest achievements for the betterment of humankind.

In what follows, I want to bring to the fore a little-known development in, specifically, modern Catholic thought that has the capacity to render a wholly positive service of its own. The development in question is the salutary emergence of, in brief, Catholic Zionism, a stream of thought that has the potential to influence for the good the attitudes toward the state of Israel held by billions of believers around the world.

Its story is best told in parts.

I. The Two Faces of Christian Zionism
Most people, if asked to reflect on the state of relations between Christians and Israel, will instinctively mention the ardently pro-Israel and pro-Zionist sentiments not of Catholics but of evangelical Protestants: sentiments that in several instances have helped to shape British and American politics.

And people would be right to do so. Thus, when asked in a 2013 Pew survey of American religious attitudes whether God gave Israel to the Jewish people, more white evangelical Christians (55 percent) than Jews (40 percent) answered in the affirmative. Of that same group of evangelicals, 72 percent sided exclusively with Israel on the Israel-Palestinian dispute, compared with 49 percent of the general U.S. public.
Local New York GOP Branch to Re-Air Controversial Ad
An advertisement that many, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, have deemed antisemitic against the Chassidic community will be re-aired by the Rockland County GOP in New York, announced the head of the local Republican branch.

The video, titled “A Storm Is Coming,” blames Chassidic Jews for housing overdevelopment in what is the southernmost county west of the Hudson River—one that boasts a significant Jewish population.

It includes captions such as “Aaron Wieder [a Jewish Rockland County legislator] and his Ramapo bloc are plotting a takeover.”

“The Video came down for 2 reasons: first accomplished its goal of highlighting the issues that face our county. And second, took it down because the controversy stopped adding to number one above,” said Rockland GOP chairman Lawrence Garvey in a Facebook post on the Village of South Nyack site, reported The New York Post.

“However, the video will be back, because this conversation is important to Rockland,” he added.

The ad was planned months in advance of its release in August, reported The New York Post.

It was condemned as antisemitic, including by the RJC, which tweeted, “This video is absolutely despicable. It is pure anti-Semitism and should be immediately taken down. The Rockland County Republican Party is an embarrassment and has no place associating itself with our party.”
Honest Reporting: BBC Imagery Implies Israeli Airstrikes Target Children
An emotive and disturbing image of a Kurdish child disfigured by an airstrike.

But when included just after text suggesting that Israel has just carried out an airstrike, it is clear what the average reader will take away.

The BBC report itself refers to the airstrike’s targets as “bases, arms depots and vehicles” belonging to a militia. This was certainly an airstrike aimed at a specifically military target and not civilians.

Yet a child’s face is what we see and not those of the “wounded fighters” who were the actual targets of the airstrike.

Whether Israel is responsible for this incident, it’s air force never deliberately targets civilians. The BBC’s placement of its graphic video image is inflammatory, misleading and inappropriate.

It belongs in a story concerning airstrikes that Syrian government and Russian forces have carried out against unarmed civilians during the Syrian civil war, not one about an alleged Israeli attack on military targets.
Honest Reporting: ‘Donations Are Welcome’: Paper Promotes Anti-Israel Event
What the Jersey Evening News, while plugging a free event, won’t tell you is how the PSC as an organization has been exposed as riddled with antisemitism and Holocaust denial. As for the Jersey branch, researcher David Collier noted examples of antisemitism on its Facebook page, concluding:
Natalie Strecker appears to be one of those who screams about fighting ‘racism’, but doesn’t notice it when it is on her side. Shameful.

As for the Jersey PSC event itself, Dr. Ghada Karmi has a long and sorry history that certainly doesn’t deserve free advertising in the local newspaper. A significant figure in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign in the UK, an interview in 2018 has her on record saying that: the Palestinians are victims of genocide similar to Jews under Nazi rule, and that European Jews are all ‘converts’ from other religions – thus those of European Jewish descent living in Israel are not “real” Jews.


Of course, you won’t know any of this from the Jersey Evening Post nor the background of the Jersey PSC and its affiliation to such a dubious organization. Instead, Jersey PSC and Natalie Strecker are treated as brave human rights activists.

Even though the Karmi event is free, the Jersey Evening Post states that “Donations are welcome.”

This isn’t a charity event to feed starving children or raise money for cancer research. This is an event for an anti-Israel organization. Since when is it acceptable or ethical for a journalist or media outlet to casually pitch for donations for a clearly politicized organization?

We’ve sent a complaint to the Jersey Evening Post. Watch this space.
Max Blumenthal, anti-Israel activist, tours Syrian regime’s Damascus
Anti-Israel author and activist Max Blumenthal appeared in Damascus on September 8, according to his tweets, where he praised the Syrian regime and condemned the former US ambassador as “fake.”

The Syrian regime has used chemical weapons and brutal tactics to suppress a rebellion since 2011, leading to the deaths of 500,000 people and the displacement of millions. Blumenthal tweeted that he was in Damascus “in hopes of providing a few days perspective from inside the territory where most Syrians live, one that has been ignored by a Western media that has provided the mood music for a ruthless proxy war.”

Blumenthal has mocked Syrians in the past for preparing plastic bags to protect against Syrian regime chemical weapons attacks. A harsh critic of Israel and son of a former Clinton administration adviser Sidney Blumenthal, Max’s trip to Syria was criticized on social media for mistranslating and mischaracterizing signs he saw.

On Sunday, Blumenthal posted photos of a poster that showed members of the Ja’afari Force, an IRGC-backed Shi’ite militia.

“Posters honoring Syrian army soldiers killed in the war against foreign backed extremists,” Blumenthal tweeted.

However, others were quick to point out that the posters were of a militia that included fighters from Iraq and Lebanon, and that the militia was also foreign-backed. One writer condemned Blumenthal as a “white American son-of-a-millionaire politician.” Other critics slammed Blumenthal for not speaking Arabic and misunderstanding the poster he referenced in the tweet.

He was also criticized for posting a photo of Jobar in Damascus, which Blumenthal claimed had been “occupied by the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam until early last year.”

One Twitter user said that the Syrian regime had used snipers to kill dozens in this area during the war.


Violent BDS activists assault Israeli film festival attendees in Berlin
A group of BDS activists violently assaulted visitors at the Israeli Seret International film festival on Sunday in Berlin, causing injuries and disrupting a podium discussion, according to German police. An estimated 10-12 BDS activists participated in the disruption and attacks.

According to the police notice reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the BDS activists punched two women, who filed criminal complaints against the BDS supporters. BDS is the abbreviation for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign targeting the Jewish state. The German parliament classified BDS as antisemitic in May.

The police report said after the screening of the documentary film “King Bibi,” a question and answer discussion was planned with the director and a 42-year-old started to scream. At the same time, a second 42-year-old man and a third unknown person held a poster in front of the film screen. It is unclear what was written on the poster. The discussion could not continue after the disruption.

A 62-year-old man, who organized the evening film presentation, called on the three men to leave the event. The BDS activists refused to leave the cinema. The 54-year-old manager of the cinema attempted to force the activists out of the building.

The police said all participants were released after showing identification. The Green Party politician, Volker Beck, wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “When BDS violently attacks everything that is Israeli, it is time the rule of law shows where the borders are. That’s not criticism, that’s violence.” Beck urged Berlin’s police to take a more aggressive posture against BDS.
BDS Campaign Targeting Toronto Businesses Backfires
A week after anti-Israel agitator Firas al-Najim posted videos on Facebook calling for a boycott of Toronto businesses that support Israel, the owner of the Taste of Israel grocery store said sales had more than doubled.

"A lot of people are coming - Christians, not just Jews - to make solidarity," said Gabriel Bolotin, who has operated the store for 14 years. "People came to my store non-stop. It's amazing."

Meanwhile, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) credited its "BUYcott" campaign for helping stores like Taste of Israel resist BDS.

"Once again, through the power of BUYcott, we have succeeded in demonstrating that those who target Israelis will ironically achieve the opposite of their intended goal," said Noah Shack, CIJA's vice-president of the Greater Toronto area.


Muslim hate monitor to lose backing
A controversial project claiming to measure anti-Muslim attacks will not have its government grant renewed after police and civil servants raised concerns about its methods.

The project, called Tell Mama, claimed that there had been a “sustained wave of attacks and intimidation” against British Muslims after the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, with 193 “Islamophobic incidents” reported to it, rising to 212 by last weekend.

The group’s founder, Fiyaz Mughal, said he saw “no end to this cycle of violence”, describing it as “unprecedented”. The claims were unquestioningly repeated in the media.

Tell Mama and Mr Mughal did not mention, however, that 57 per cent of the 212 reports referred to activity that took place only online, mainly offensive postings on Twitter and Facebook, or that a further 16 per cent of the 212 reports had not been verified. Not all the online abuse even originated in Britain.

Contrary to the group’s claim of a “cycle of violence” and a “sustained wave of attacks”, only 17 of the 212 incidents, 8 per cent, involved the physical targeting of people and there were no attacks on anyone serious enough to require medical treatment.


Group of Israelis Said Brutally Attacked in Warsaw by Arab Men Shouting ‘Free Gaza’
A group of Israelis were accosted and one severely beaten in Warsaw, Poland by a group of Arab men, who attacked them because of their national origin, the brother of one of the victims alleged on Sunday.

Yotam Kashpizky was left with facial and ocular fractures by the assault, which his brother Barak described in a Facebook post together with photographs of his brother’s injuries.

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Barak stated that Yotam was assaulted in the early hours of Sunday morning by “a group of Arabs” who attacked him without provocation.

“The Arabs began beating him and his friends only because they were Jewish,” Barak said. The group of Israelis were returning to their hotel from a nightclub, he added.

“A group of Arabic-speakers approached them and asked if they were from Israel,” Barak recounted. “When they replied in the affirmative, they were mercilessly attacked, accompanied by shouts of ‘f**k Israel.’” He later told an Israeli news station that they also chanted “free Gaza” during the attack.

Yotam, he added, was in a taxi at the time, and ran toward his friends in an effort to stop the attack.

“An Arab man, who was apparently wearing brass knuckles, punched him and Yotam lost consciousness,” said Barak. “Afterwards, another friend came out of another taxi in order to help.”

At that point, some girls in the Israeli group began to scream and the attackers fled.
Poland’s FM Condemns Attack on Israeli Students in Warsaw
A violent attack on a group of Israeli students in a Warsaw nightclub has been condemned by Poland’s foreign ministry.

The details of the incident were posted on Facebook by Barak Kashpizky, the twin brother of one of the injured Israelis, Arutz Sheva reports.

Yotam Kashpizky, who lost consciousness during the attack, suffered a broken nose and a broken eye-socket, according to his brother.

The assailants, described as “Arabic speakers,” allegedly asked the group as they left a Warsaw nightclub if they were Israeli. When the students answered that they were, the assailants assaulted them, reportedly shouting “f**k Israel” and “Free Gaza.”

Jews first arrived in Poland in the Middle Ages and for centuries the country was home to the world’s largest Jewish community. However, the population was decimated during the Nazi German occupation, when six million Poles — half of them Jews — were killed.

Today, there are only around 8,000 to 12,000 Jews living in Poland, according to estimates, and the Polish government has stepped forward again to defend them.
Israeli tourist attacked in Berlin for speaking Hebrew
A 21-year-old Israeli tourist was attacked and punched in the face as he was speaking Hebrew in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, police authorities reported. The police termed the assault, as "Bodily injury with antisemitic background," in the official police notice reviewed by The Jerusalem Post.

The Israeli was speaking with three other men, who were in the same age group, in Hebrew when he was attacked in front of a night club. The suspect overheard the man and attacked him in the early hours of Monday morning, resulting in facial injuries. The perpetrator fled after the attack but was described by the Israeli as having an Arab-looking appearance. Police authorities launched an investigation.

Germany's interior ministry noted that there have been four antisemitic offenses every day in the federal republic since 2001.

In August, two men spat on Berlin Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal and insulted him in Arabic. In the same month, a man and a woman spat on a rabbi and his two sons in the Bavarian capital of Munich and termed them "Sh...T Jews." According to a federal parliament report on antisemitism, 40% of Germans hold modern antisemitic views.
Anti-Semitic and racist graffiti discovered at historic Massachusetts park
Dozens of local residents joined by local clergy gathered at the historic Fort Revere Park in Hull, Massachusetts, to protest anti-Semitic and racist graffiti.

The gathering on Thursday came several days after the discovery of the vandalism painted on the walls of the fort, including swastikas, messages advocating violence against Jews, the slogan “Hitler 2020” and stickers depicting Anne Frank painted over in red.

Joining Rabbi David Grossman of the local Temple Beth Sholom were members of the Hingham-Hull Religious Leaders Association, the daily newspaper The Patriot Ledger reported.

Grossman told the newspaper that he has received many messages of condolence and support from the community since the incident. The graffiti was painted over the Labor Day weekend.

The graffiti reportedly has been painted over.

“This is not something that will be written off as ‘kids being kids.’ There is no place for hate in our society. These kinds of messages instill fear in members of our community,” Hull Police Chief John Dunn said in a statement.
Polish Righteous Among the Nations honored in Warsaw
During the dark days of the Holocaust, more than 27,000 thousand non-Jewish men, women and teenagers risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors and friends from a certain death at the hands of the Nazis.

On Sunday, a special event in Warsaw on Sunday to honor Polish Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust was held by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR).

Some 30 Polish rescuers – who today are in their eighties, nineties and even hundreds – attended the event with their families.

“These righteous gentiles are dwindling in number, such that the JFR luncheon is likely to be among the last of such commemorations of its kind,” the organization said in a statement.

The JFR’s website explained that the organization “provides monthly financial assistance to the aged and needy Righteous Gentiles living in 18 countries.”

“The majority of the rescuers receiving financial support live in Eastern Europe, with Poland having the largest number of rescuers,” according to the site.

As of September 1, the JFR said it gives financial assistance to a total of 275 aged and needy rescuers, including 147 Polish rescuers, 37 rescuers in the Ukraine, 23 in Lithuania, 12 in Belarus and 11 in Hungary.
Four Israeli universities shine among top 50 producers of entrepreneurs
Four Israeli universities are ranked among the top 50 undergraduate programs globally that produce the most VC-backed entrepreneurs, according to the latest ranking by PitchBook.

Tel Aviv (8), Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (14), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (34), and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (49) were the four Israeli universities that made it into the ranking.

The rankings of Tel Aviv University and the Technion were unchanged compared to last year. Hebrew University climbed up one notch and Ben-Gurion University jumped three spots to make it into the top 50 for the first time this year.

Tel Aviv University has churned out 694 graduates-turned-entrepreneurs, who founded 577 companies raising $10.6 billion in a first round of venture funding in the period between January, 1, 2006, and August 2019, according to the ranking compiled by the Pitchbook Research Institute.

Companies set up by Tel Aviv University graduates include Houzz, Innoviz and Monday.com.
Intel Company Mobileye: Autonomous Driving Technology
The Senior Director of Strategy of Israel's autonomous driver assistance company Mobileye, sits down with host and Altice President Jon Steinberg to talk about Mobileye's role in the autonomous driving industry.


America’s Orthodox Jews Are Selling A Ton Of The Products You Buy On Amazon
Yisroel has missed a lot — blogging, Napster, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter. Like many other Orthodox Jewish men, most of his education was spent studying the Torah and Talmudic law.

“I never went to business school or college — I barely finished high school,” the 46-year-old told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t know how to turn on a computer until I was 35.”

Which makes him an unlikely founder of a multi-million dollar Amazon business.

Yisroel — who asked to be identified by his Hebrew name for reasons of privacy — is a deeply observant Orthodox Jew, one of the many who have turned to third-party sales on Amazon. The company’s third-party sellers make up 58% of all sales on the site. But there’s an estimate passed around third-party Amazon consultants that claims 7% of all Amazon third-party sales originate from a single zip code in Brooklyn, and that Orthodox Jewish–owned businesses make up 15% of marketplace sellers. Amazon declined to comment on both numbers. But sources told BuzzFeed News the company is well aware of this particular community, and Amazon seemed to nod to that in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “Brooklyn is home to many impressive independent retailers selling on Amazon,” it said.

Outside Yisroel’s sparsely furnished office, the warehouse hums with activity. Several Latinx workers, and one Orthodox worker, stand over tables opening and repacking rolls of Scotch packing tape. Wrought iron pallet shelves burst with school supplies ready to be packed and shipped. A man in a yarmulke and tzitzit — tassels on a four-cornered undergarment worn by many observant Jews that peek out from the sides of their pants — hunches over a computer inside an open cubicle office with an Amazon listing beaming across the screen. A Bluetooth speaker fills the 10,000-square-foot space with cumbia sonideras. Meanwhile, two men in trousers and yarmulkes with iPhones in their hands rush around, occasionally disappearing behind rows of Magic Bullet blenders, mason jars, glass buffet serving sets, Smoby Builder Max trucks, four-inch LED tubes, and patio umbrellas.
Salt study unravels ancient mystery around well-preserved Dead Sea Scroll
Of all the ancient parchment texts that have been discovered in the caves of Qumran, one, known to researchers as the Temple Scroll, has withstood the ravages of time to an exceptional extent. A recent scientific study may explain how, as Luke Tress writes:

[Most of the] scrolls were written on animal skins that had been stripped of hair [and] thinned. But unlike [the others], the Temple Scroll had an added layer of inorganic material, essentially finishing the process. Today, the scroll stands out from the rest in the Israel Museum’s collection because of its thinness and bright ivory color, which is in stark contrast to the dark hue of most of the other scrolls, due to the tanning processes used in their production.

According to the researchers, the Temple Scroll has a multilayered structure, with the text written on an ivory-colored inorganic layer, mostly made up of salts, on the inner side of the skin—[while] most of the [other] scrolls have writing on the side of the skin that once had the animal’s hair. The finding suggests “a unique ancient production technology in which the parchment was modified through the addition of the inorganic layer as a writing surface,” the researchers write.

While the team cannot say definitively where most of the minerals came from, they have determined that the salts did not originate in the caves and are not common in the Dead Sea region.


Therefore, they conclude, it is likely that this scroll was produced outside of the Land of Israel, perhaps elsewhere in the Mediterranean.
Tiny First Temple seal impression found with name of Bible-era royal steward
A minuscule 7th century BCE clay sealing reading “Belonging to Adoniyahu, the Royal Steward,” was recently discovered in the City of David’s sifting project.

In earth excavated from the foundations of the Western Wall under Robinson’s Arch in 2013, a national service volunteer some three weeks ago unearthed the one-centimeter inscribed letter sealer bearing the ancient Hebrew name of a character found several times in the Hebrew Bible, Adoniyahu, literally, “The Lord is my Master.”

According to archaeologist Eli Shukron, this inscription is unique and “of utmost importance.” The role of the Royal Steward (Asher al Habayit), he said, appears several times in the Bible and is used for the highest-level minister in the royal court. For example, the title of Royal Steward was used in the Book of Genesis for Joseph’s high-powered position in Egypt.

The clay sealing, or bulla, was used in the First Temple period to seal important documents, said Shukron.

In March, another rare bulla was published by the City of David bearing the inscription “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King” (LeNathan-Melech Eved HaMelech). Nathan-Melech is named in 2 Kings as an official in the court of King Josiah. And in February 2018, another, partial clay sealing was discovered, which may spell out “Belonging to Isaiah,” (l’Yesha’yah[u]) and is arguably tied to the Prophet Isaiah.

The new Adoniyahu inscription gives a potential link to a 150-year-old mystery: a First Temple, 7th century BCE rock cave grave, which is also inscribed with “Asher al Habayit.” The inscription, today found in the British Museum, has a partial name ending with the same three Hebrew letters as that of the new clay bulla.



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