Saturday, October 19, 2019

From Ian:

Hillel Neuer: Another UN blow to human rights
In 1946, in the aftermath of the horrors of World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt founded the UN Commission on Human Rights, to reaffirm the principles of human dignity. That her dream has turned into a recurring nightmare was confirmed on Thursday when some of the world’s worst regimes were once again elected to the 47-nation UN body, renamed in 2006 under a failed bid at reform, as the Human Rights Council.

Who are the UN’s new world judges on human rights?

Absurdly, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro is one.

Though the council’s rules stipulate that members must “uphold the highest standards” of human rights, the UN General Assembly chose the narco-criminal regime from Caracas.

Despite promises of a socialist paradise, President Maduro has devastated his country, starved his own people and crushed pro-democracy dissidents.

The government’s repression includes targeting opposition leaders like Leopoldo López, who was thrown into prison for three years and is still under house arrest. According to the NGO Foro Penal, as of April 2019 there were more than 900 political prisoners across Venezuela.

Maduro’s failed policies have produced political instability, hunger, poverty and soaring crime rates. Millions are ill and dying for lack of food, medicine and basic necessities. Four million have fled. Electing Maduro to the council was obscene.

Second, the world body elected Libya, another failed state, where armed groups execute and torture civilians with almost complete impunity. Captured African migrants are bought and sold on open slave markets.

Third, although anti-racism is supposedly the defining credo of the UN, the General Assembly elected the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, where an estimated 500,000 people live in slavery.

Does Angela Merkel Deserve a Prize for Zionism?
German Interior Ministry statistics claim that 90% of the anti-Semitic hate crimes reported in Germany in 2018 were committed by "far right" persons. The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), however, found that only 13% of the attacks were attributed to those with a "right-wing political view."

Germany provides millions of euros annually to organizations that promote anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and "lawfare" campaigns, anti-Zionism, antisemitism, and violence, according to NGO Monitor.

"Why is Merkel being awarded the Theodor Herzl Award? Because her representative at the United Nations abstains in anti-Israel resolutions — and thereby de facto supports them? The same official who equates Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians with Israel's demolition of the homes of Palestinian terrorists? For not relocating the German embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the United States did, and also warning other countries against taking such a step? For all this, she gets the Theodor Herzl Award?" — Henryk Broder, German Political Commentator, Die Achse des Guten.

"And that is just the beginning. There is a great possibility that thanks to today's politics Germany will become Judenrein [free of Jews]. Wir schaffen das (We can do it)." — Dr. Rafael Korenzecher, Publisher, Jüdische Rundschau.


'Israel doesn't need any outsider to tell it what to do'
Martin Weiss has served as Austria's ambassador to Israel for exactly four years. His name might sound Jewish and his lively, relaxed nature is a good fit for the Israeli pace of life, but in two weeks, Weiss will depart the Austrian Embassy in Tel Aviv for the Austrian Embassy in Washington, DC. That demonstrates his status, but also the importance of Israel in Austrian diplomacy.

Indeed, in Weiss' time as ambassador – and with his help – Israel and Austria have enjoyed their closest ties in history. Given the loaded history between the Jewish and Austrian peoples, ("Let's admit it, there were mostly 'downs,'" he says with characteristic frankness) – the increasing closeness of the last few years is not something to be taken for granted.

Austria is not only the birthplace of Adolf Hitler but also elected a Jewish chancellor who hated Israel, Bruno Kreisky; knowingly elected as president former Wehrmacht officer Kurt Waldheim; saw huge support for long-time Freedom Party of Austria Chairman Jörg Haider, widely considered to have been a Nazi sympathizer; and was one of the last countries to acknowledge the part it played in the mass murder of its Jewish citizens during the Holocaust.

Only in the past few years have we seen signs that the Austrian leadership is truly able to address the country's past honestly and seriously. In a speech two years ago at a conference of the American Jewish Committee in Jerusalem, former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said things that had never been uttered by his predecessors: "Many Austrians supported the system which killed over 6 million Jews from all over Europe and beyond. Among them, 60,000 fellow Austrian Jewish citizens in Austria alone. It took Austria a long time to be honest about its past. I have to admit that there were many people in Austria who did nothing to fight the Nazi regime. Far too many actively supported these horrors and even were perpetrators."

Kurz strengthened Austria's ties with Israel in general and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular. This was due in part to Weiss, who is a close associate. Now that Weiss' time as ambassador to Israel is up, he sat down with Israel Hayom for a special interview.



Calm reigns in northeast Syria as fragile U.S.-Turkey ceasefire holds
A fragile ceasefire was holding along Turkey's border with Syria on Saturday, two days after President Tayyip Erdogan agreed the truce to allow Kurdish forces time to pull back from Ankara's cross-border assault.

Erdogan agreed the truce during talks in Ankara on Thursday with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence on stemming a humanitarian crisis, which has put 200,000 civilians to flight in northeast Syria, and easing a security scare over thousands of Islamic State captives guarded by the Kurdish YPG militia targeted in Turkey's assault.

Turkey's defense ministry said on Saturday there had been 14 "provocative attacks" from Syria in the past 36 hours but said it was continuing to coordinate closely with the United States to allow the agreement to be implemented.

Reuters journalists at the border said bombardment heard near the Syrian border town of Ras al Ain on Friday morning had subsided. They saw just a few Turkish military vehicles crossing the frontier on Saturday morning.

The truce sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia pull out of a "safe zone" Turkey has vowed to create in territory extending more than 30 km (about 20 miles) deep into Syria.

Ankara regards the YPG, the SDF's main Kurdish component, a terrorist group because of its links to Kurdish insurgents operating in southeast Turkey.

Turkey's defense ministry said Defence Minister Hulusi Akar had urged his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper in a telephone call late on Friday to ensure that YPG forces withdrew from the zone within the 120-hour period agreed under the truce.
Erdogan vows to ‘crush the heads’ of Kurdish forces if no pullout by deadline
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned that Turkey would “crush the heads” of Kurdish forces if they did not withdraw from a proposed safe zone along the border under a US-brokered deal.

If the pullout does not happen by Tuesday evening, “we will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists’ heads,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in central Anatolian city of Kayseri.

Turkey has agreed to suspend its Syria offensive for five days and to end the assault if Kurdish-led forces withdraw from the proposed safe zone away from the border, after talks with US Vice President Mike Pence in Ankara.

Erdogan also provided some details from his talks with the Americans, adding that Ankara agreed to the 120 hour time deadline after its initial demand of “one night” for the withdrawal.
Syrian Kurdish forces and Turkey exchange blame for continued fighting
Syrian Kurdish-led forces and Turkey exchanged blame on Saturday for fighting that has rattled a US-brokered cease-fire in northeastern Syria, as the Kurds appealed to Vice President Mike Pence to enforce the deal.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that Turkey has failed to abide by the deal, refusing to lift the siege of Ras al-Ayn, a key border town. It said 30 hours after the five-day pause went into effect on Thursday, there were still reported clashes inside the town and medical personnel could not enter to help wounded.

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters encircled Ras al-Ayn just before the cease-fire came into place, trying to crush Kurdish resistance inside. Throughout much of the day Friday, fighting was reported there and in neighboring villages that came under attack by the Turkish-backed forces.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that Turkey-backed Syrian fighters have prevented a medical convoy from reaching Ras al-Ayn since Friday. It said a medical convoy arrived outside the town but Turkey-backed factions closed the road ahead and behind, leaving it stuck outside Ras al-Ayn.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Saturday it was “completely abiding” by the accord. It accused Kurdish-led fighters carried out 14 “attacks and harassment” the past 36 hours, most in Ras al-Ayn. It said the Syrian Kurdish fighters used mortars, rockets, anti-aircraft and anti-tank heavy machine guns.

The ministry also said it was in “instant coordination” with the United States to ensure the continuity of calm, excluding instances of “self-defense.”
Tensions between Germany’s Turks and Kurds boil over with Syria offensive
yrian Kurd Mohamed Zidik, 76, still buys his bread and baclavas from his Turkish neighbors in Berlin, but he knows better than to expound on his views about Ankara’s offensive in his hometown.

Since Turkish forces launched their assault on Kurds in northeastern Syria, tensions have risen in Germany where millions of Turks and Kurds live side by side.

Shops have been trashed, knife attacks reported and insults traded, prompting Germany’s integration commissioner Annette Widmann-Mauz to call for restraint.

“We have a responsibility to prevent the conflict in the region from becoming a conflict in our society,” she said in an interview with the Funke newspaper group.

Of the roughly three million people with Turkish nationality or roots living in Germany, around one million are Kurds.
Last chance? Record Israeli group tours Naharayim, set to be reclaimed by Jordan
A record-breaking group of some 150 Israelis on Saturday visited a parcel of border land that has been worked by Israeli farmers for decades but that is likely to be reclaimed by Jordan next week.

“There is a sense that many Israelis want to take a last chance to visit,” site manager Shai Hadar told Channel 13 news.

Naharayim, known in Arabic as Baqoura, in the Jordan Valley, is controlled by Jordan but has been leased by Israel for 25 years in an agreement that is set to expire.

A special clause in the 1994 peace treaty between the Israel and Jordan allowed Israel to retain use of the land, along with the Tzofar enclave in the southern Arava desert, for 25 years, with the understanding that the lease would be renewed as a matter of routine. The two areas together span 1,000 dunams (247 acres).

However, in October 2018, amid domestic unrest in Jordan, King Abdullah II announced plans to terminate the lease. Despite ongoing efforts by the Israeli government, negotiations to guarantee continued access to the areas have so far been unsuccessful. Jordan on Wednesday denied Israeli officials’ claim that it was willing to extend Israel’s access to Tzofar for another season.

Naharayim is also known as the Isle of Peace, following a deadly March 1997 attack in which a group of schoolgirls from Beit Shemesh were fired upon during an outing to the area. The girls and their unarmed teachers were standing on a hill above an abandoned lake in the enclave when a Jordanian soldier opened fire on them and killed seven of the schoolchildren.
Knife-wielding Palestinian runs at West Bank checkpoint, is shot dead
Israeli security guards shot and killed a knife-wielding Palestinian man who ran toward them at a checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarem on Friday, the Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said, after an initial investigation, that guards at the Te’enim checkpoint called on the man, who was holding a knife, to stop, and shot and “neutralized him” when he did not respond.

The ministry later confirmed that the man was killed.

No Israelis were hurt.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Fatah says Abbas will be their only candidate for PA president
Hamas supports holding new Palestinian general elections on the condition that an election is held concurrently for the Palestinian Authority presidency and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the Palestinian parliament, Hamas officials told Russia on Saturday.

The message was relayed to Russia during a meeting in Doha, Qatar, between senior Hamas officials and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov. The Hamas delegation was headed by Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the movement’s Political Bureau. The meeting was also attended by Russian Ambassador to Qatar Nurmakhamad Kholov.

Hamas’s message came in response to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s initiative to hold long overdue elections.

Abbas made his announcement during a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on September 26. However, he did not say whether the elections would be held for the presidency or the parliament.
The last presidential election was held in 2005, when Abbas was elected to a four-year-term. A year later, the Palestinians held elections for the PLC, which resulted in a Hamas victory.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions have welcomed Abbas’s initiative of holding new elections. However, they insist that the vote for the PA presidency and the PLC should take place simultaneously.
Gazan said wounded by Israeli fire near border overnight
Israeli forces fired toward a small group of Palestinians approaching the Gaza border fence overnight, reportedly injuring one.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip on Saturday said the Palestinian was shot in the coastal enclave’s north, near Jabaliya.

The Israel Defense Forces was quoted saying by Hebrew media that soldiers fired their weapons to distance the Palestinians from the border and that it was not aware of any injuries.

Also Saturday, Channel 12 reported that Israeli fighter jets were sent toward Gaza after a suspicious object was spotted entering into Israel from the Palestinian territory. They then returned to their base.

The report did not say what the suspicious object was.

The incidents came after over 4,000 Palestinian demonstrators took part in weekly protests Friday along the border Gaza and Israel, with several hundred rioting and clashing with Israeli troops.
Protests Sweep Lebanon as Fury at Ruling Elite Grows
Tens of thousands of angry Lebanese took to the streets on Friday, blocking roads and burning tires in a second day of nationwide protest to demand the removal of a political elite they accuse of looting the economy to the point of collapse.

Addressing protesters, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri blamed his rivals in government for obstructing reforms that could have resolved the economic crisis and gave them a 72-hour deadline to stop blocking him, otherwise hinting he may resign.

He said Lebanon was going through an “unprecedented, difficult time.”

Lebanon‘s biggest protests in a decade recall the 2011 Arab revolts that toppled four presidents. Lebanese from all sects and walks of life have come out on to the streets, waving banners and chanting slogans urging Hariri’s government to go.

“There are those who placed obstacles in front of me since the government was formed, and in the face of all the efforts that I have proposed for reform,” Hariri said, without naming names.

“Whatever the solution, we no longer have time and I am personally giving myself only a little time. Either our partners in government and in the nation give a frank response to the solution, or I will have another say.

“The deadline left is very short, it’s 72 hours,” he said.

Protesters poured through the villages and towns across Lebanon as well as the capital Beirut. No political leader, Muslim or Christian, was spared their wrath.


Amid protests, Hezbollah chief says he opposes Lebanese government’s resignation
The influential leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group said he doesn’t support the government’s resignation amid nationwide protests calling for politicians to step down over a deepening economic crisis.

Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday that calls for the current national unity government to resign are “a waste of time” since the same political groups will haggle over forming a new one.

“We don’t want the resignation of the government if the resignation means there is no government,” he said, calling for Lebanese to work together.

Largescale protests that have targeted the country’s entire political class have brought Lebanon to a standstill since Thursday.

Nasrallah warned the protesters against being pulled into political rivalries, saying that would derail their message. He said politicians who shirk responsibility, by quitting the Cabinet while the economy crumbles, should be brought to trial.
Iraqi cleric’s backers chant against Israel as Shiites make Arbaeen pilgrimage
Millions of pilgrims made their way on foot to the Iraqi city of Karbala on Saturday for the Shiite pilgrimage of Arbaeen, regarded as the largest annual public gathering in the world.

The commemoration marks the 40th day following the death of a Shiite saint in the 7th century and included more than 2 million Iranians and other Shiites from abroad. Militias patrolled roads leading into the city and escorted Iranian pilgrims from the border, hiking up security for processions that have previously been targeted by Sunni militant groups with bloody bombings.

This year’s Arbaeen ceremonies take place amid widespread anger in Iraq’s Shiite south over the government’s heavy crackdown on protests that erupted earlier this month against unemployment, corruption and government mismanagement. The demonstrations raged across Iraq for seven days and most prominent among the protesters were young Shiites, unleashing their frustration with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

The security crackdown, which killed more than 100 and wounded thousands, put down the protests last week, but a new round of demonstrations has been called for October 25.

The political turmoil surfaced in the Arbaeen ceremonies. Followers of populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr marched toward Karbala chanting, “No to America, no to Israel, no to corruption,” and “Baghdad is free, corruption must go!”
Would UMinn Host a KKK Conference?
In a statement, the UMinn president justified allowing an upcoming KKK conference on campus: “The First Amendment protects even the most heinous speech and while I find the KKK’s views reprehensible I cannot prevent them from holding a meeting here. A university must be a place where people have the freedom to exchange ideas no matter how repugnant.”

When asked specifically about some of the Klan’s specious claims, such as the idea that Jews control the banks and media, the president, said, “The Klan may take their views to the extreme, but it is true that there are Jews who run banks and media companies so their criticism is legitimate.” In response to a question about the Klan’s view of minorities as inferior, he admitted some academic studies indicate there are genetic reasons why blacks have lower IQs than whites.

The paragraphs above are fiction. No one believes that Minnesota or any other university would host a Klan meeting, because the students and trustees would never allow it. Students would take over administration buildings, boycott classes, and stage protests across campus. The university would hemorrhage donors, be pilloried in the press, and become disreputably known as the university that welcomed the Klan.

Now comes the reality.

The University of Minnesota is hosting the annual hate fest of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on November 1-3. The justification is familiar. “As a public institution, the University of Minnesota is bound by the First Amendment and cannot discriminate on the basis of viewpoint when making resources available to students, faculty or the general public,” Adam Steinbaugh, the director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told JNS.

“In short, the University of Minnesota cannot cancel the SJP conference on the basis that others find the views that might be offered there offensive.”

Can you imagine Steinbaugh saying the same thing about a KKK conference?
Sacha Baron Cohen makes Nazi analogy to slam Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook policy
Is Facebook a haven for free expression? Or is it like a restaurant serving neo-Nazis?

Depends who you ask.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave an impassioned defense Thursday of his company’s policy of allowing a wide spectrum of speech on the platform. Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, Zuckerberg invoked the First Amendment and the civil rights movement to defend his refusal to limit inflammatory discourse on his social media giant.

“Some people argue internet platforms should allow all expression protected by the First Amendment, even though the First Amendment explicitly doesn’t apply to companies,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m proud that our values at Facebook are inspired by the American tradition, which is more supportive of free expression than anywhere else.”

But Sacha Baron Cohen, who knows something about irreverent speech himself (see: “Borat,” “Ali G,” “The Dictator” and nearly every other film role he has ever played), says that Zuckerberg should take his role more seriously as the CEO of a private company.

In a tweet thread, Cohen wrote that Zuckerberg allowing offensive speech on Facebook is like a restaurant welcoming anti-Semites who shout anti-Semitic insults.

“If he owned a fancy restaurant and 4 neo-Nazis came goose-stepping into the dining room and were talking loudly about wanting to kill ‘Jewish scum’, would he serve them an elegant eight course meal? Or would tell them to get the f**k out of his restaurant?” Cohen wrote. “He has every legal right, indeed a moral duty, to tell them to get the f**k out of his restaurant.”
HRC Files Complaint Due to CBC Reporter’s Biased Reporting About Israel
In response to several unfair and inaccurate reports about Israel that CBC TV’s The National and CBC Radio’s World Report recently broadcast, HonestReporting Canada has filed a formal complaint with senior executives at our public broadcaster calling for immediate corrective action to remedy the CBC’s biased reporting about Israel. As of this writing, we await a reply from the CBC.

Our Concerns:
On the October 11 broadcast of CBC The National, former Middle East Bureau Chief Margaret Evans (now stationed in London) produced a feature-length, almost 10 minute report entitled: “Young Palestinians see no end to the Israeli Occupation”.

Firstly, we took issue with this report’s headline which was appropriated by CBC editors. Ms. Evans’ report did not solely focus on Palestinian views about Israel’s so-called “occupation”. Instead, the report talked about the progress of building courthouses in the west bank (a joint Canadian-Palestinian project sponsored by CIDA), along with a discussion about how Palestinian politics are”frayed” and rife with “nepotism” and “corruption”. Yes, there was a discussion about the two state solution, Israeli settlements, and the presence of Israeli checkpoints, but this wasn’t its exclusive focus. Why then, did CBC editors want to focus reader’s attention to this issue to the exclusion of others? Alternative headlines that could have been published include: “Young Palestinians see their leaders as corrupt” or “Young Palestinians think the two state solution is elusive“. Furthermore, this observation about the views of young Palestinians is derived through anecdotal evidence that Ms. Evans procured by her asking a classroom of Palestinian students about their views of the peace process. That doesn’t mean that these student’s views were representative of most, if not all, young Palestinians. If we are to go by recent polls, 43% of Israelis and Palestinians back the two state solution.

In sharp contrast, see how CBC The National described this report on Twitter:
Canada is spending $32 million on a new courthouse in Hebron in the West Bank, a gesture of support for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — but is a two-state solution still viable? @mevansCBC takes us to the region to find out: https://t.co/YpzaEEGQiM
— CBC News: The National (@CBCTheNational) October 13, 2019
Accordingly, we told the CBC that this headline deserves to be amended.


“Hitler wanted my kind alive”: outrage at antisemitic messages at Leicester University white t-shirt party
The University of Leicester Students’ Union is investigating a white t-shirt party in which students wrote pro-Nazi and antisemitic messages on their t-shirts, including “Hitler wanted my kind alive”. At another recent social, a student wore a high visibility vest with the phrase “I’m a Nazi” printed on it.

A white t-shirt party involves students donning plain shirts and emblazoning messages on them, and students too commonly take the opportunity to write offensive or racist comments. This latest incident follows prior incidents at Lancaster, Plymouth, Newcastle and Coventry.

Responding to the incident, an officer at the University’s Jewish Society has written: “The University has allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students to flourish, and so long as things like this continue to fly under the radar of the majority of students, nothing will improve.”

The Students’ Union, which claims that the social event was “unauthorised”, has apologised for the incident and has promised to “ensure we tackle any antisemitism and make it wholly clear that white t-shirt socials are not allowable by the Union.”

It is understood that the students involved have now identified themselves to University authorities and that the Students’ Union and the University will be undertaking investigations and disciplinary action. The University society that hosted the social has reportedly also pledged to run inclusivity training.
Hate Crimes Targeting Jews More Than Double in Year in England and Wales, New Data Shows
The number of hate crimes targeting Jews in England and Wales more than doubled in a year, according to new data published by the UK Home Office this week.

A total of 1,326 such offenses were recorded in 2018/19, up from 672.

Jews were the targets of 18 percent of all hate crimes. Muslims were the most-targeted group, at 47 percent (3,530 offenses).

The Jewish Chronicle quoted a spokesperson for the Community Security Trust (CST) as saying, “The doubling in antisemitic hate crime over the past year is further shocking evidence that antisemitism is an urgent problem in this country that needs to be tackled.”

“It is vital that these hate crime reports lead to prosecutions and CST will continue working with Police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) to try to ensure this is the case,” the spokesperson added.
Bulgaria soccer coach quits after racist chants, Nazi salutes at England match
Bulgaria’s soccer coach quit Friday over the 6-0 loss to England in a Euro 2020 qualifier which was overshadowed by racist abuse that sparked a storm of protest.

Monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes during Monday’s match in Sofia caused indignation in the soccer world and led to the resignation of Bulgaria’s soccer federation chief.

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov, who took over the team in May, said he handed in his resignation during a meeting of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) executive committee.

“I said that if I am the problem of Bulgarian football, I am handing in my resignation. There is no way back,” the former midfielder told reporters after the meeting. “I will keep my fingers crossed for the next manager as the situation is not rosy at all… The racist incidents during the game with England were the final straw.”

Bulgaria is winless in seven Euro 2020 qualifiers — losing four and drawing three — and occupy last place in their group.
'Dirty Jew' graffitied on Judaica shop in France
Owners of a Judaica shop (a store that sells things pertaining to Jewish life and customs) were awoken on Friday by pictures of antisemitic graffiti sprayed on their store while in Israel on vacation.

Their neighbors sent them photos of the storefront.

The owners are now considering returning to France early and filing a police complaint.

In response to the event, Vice Chairman of the World of the Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel, said that "the plague of antisemitism in Europe intensifies like a terminal illness. I will turn to the EU supervisor for the fight against antisemitism and call for an urgent meeting of EU representatives, to form a plan of action."

He added: "What hasn't come yet from direct national governments will come sponsored by a European body."

This is the second antisemitic event to happen in the past week, after a graffiti image of Adolf Hitler was found spray painted near the grave of the Rabbi Nachman in the Ukranian city of Uman.
Solidarity Shabbats to mark one year since Tree of Life shooting
With Oct. 27 marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting tragedy at Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh in which 11 people died and six others were injured, synagogues throughout South Florida will remember the victims during upcoming solidarity Shabbat services.

A week following the tragedy last year, millions of people of all faiths rallied around the American Jewish Committee’s #ShowUpForShabbat initiative as they packed synagogues in an expression of solidarity. More than 250 million people engaged with the hashtag on Facebook and Twitter, and millions of people attended services at synagogues in the U.S. and around the world from Nov. 2-3, 2018.

AJC is once again calling on all people of good conscience to show up for Shabbat services on the Tree of Life's shooting anniversary weekend as local synagogues are participating in this initiative this year from Oct. 25-26.

Brian Siegal, director for AJC’s Miami and Broward regional office, said, “The main goal is to help people understand that there’s a wake-up call and that we have to stand up to antisemitism.”

“Antisemitism is a virus and it does not go away on its own. We need people of good will to stand in solidarity with the Jewish people. One way they can do that is by showing support for the #ShowUpForShabbat initiative either by attending synagogue and expressing that solidarity, or by using the hashtag #ShowUpForShabbat on social media and expressing their solidarity that way,” Siegal added.
Hospitality Chain Selina Announces First Location in Northern Israel
Hospitality company Selina Ltd. is set to open a location of its brand name deluxe hostels near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, Selina announced Wednesday in a Facebook post. The new location will open in the first quarter of 2020, a Selina company spokesperson said in a phone call to Calcalist Thursday. The new location will include a recording studio, a co-working space, and “wellness gatherings,” according to the company’s statement.

Founded in 2014 in Panama by Israel-born Rafael Museri and Daniel Rudasevski, Selina currently operates 52 locations globally, according to company statements. Selina’s hostels offer co-working spaces, curated tours, wellness and fitness classes, homegrown produce-based meals, and volunteer activities.

In June, the company announced it would be opening its first Israel location in Tel Aviv, set to open in December of this year, according to the company’s website. Selina plans to open around 15 locations throughout Israel over the next five years, which will amount to approximately 15,000 beds.
10 of the most fabulous open-air markets in Israel
The shuk –– an open-air market where stalls are filled with sumptuous and vibrant seasonal Israeli produce, spices, fresh fish, dry foodstuffs, housewares, and even trendy eateries — is the lifeline of every Israeli.

Cookbooks are inspired by it, as is the healthy Israeli lifestyle. Fresh fruits and vegetables make up the base of a colorful diet, and lugging home kilos of said vegetables provides daily exercise.

The traditional produce stands have been joined by restaurants, cafes and bars, so the shuk has also become a meeting ground for friends and a center of culinary evolution from which Israeli cuisine continues to expand.
Olives on sale at Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. Photo by Shutterstock

Farm-to-table enterprises, homegrown breweries, coffeeshops, and craft cocktail bars are the new shuk norm in Israel’s major cities. In the same way, Israeli art and flea markets have followed suit, transforming into must-visit stops for genuine souvenirs handcrafted in Israel.

These are 10 of Israel’s top markets, and the some of the best treasures we found in them.

6 places to visit in 6 hours in the Western Galilee
Nahariya holds a special place in my heart – it was there in 1986 that my then-girlfriend and I made several pivotal choices about our budding relationship.

So, when it came time to celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary (the choices we made back then, it seems, were the right ones), we thought: Why not return to the scene of the crime? It had been much too long since we’d last visited the Western Galilee.

We stayed in the Shtarkman Erna boutique hotel in walking distance of the center of town and the main beaches.
Inside the Shtarkman Erna boutique hotel in Nahariya. Photo by Brian Blum

When we first got there, I’ll admit I was disappointed in the appearance of the unremarkable building from the outside. But step past the heavy wooden front doors and you’re in another world: a combination of Old World style (Nahariya was established by German Jewish immigrants in 1935) and modern touches (every room has been lovingly refurbished). While no holiday accommodations in Israel are inexpensive, this is Nahariya, not Tel Aviv, so it won’t set you back a month’s salary.

We didn’t have a lot of time and we didn’t want to drive too far from our Nahariya base. Still, we packed in a lot.

Here are the six places we visited in the Western Galilee in just six hours



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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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