Friday, July 03, 2020

  • Friday, July 03, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

A press release from the Emirates News Agency:

ABU DHABI, 2nd July, 2020 (WAM) -- Group 42 (G42), a leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi, announced today it has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Rafael, and Israel Aerospace Industries, IAI, two leading Israeli technology companies, to explore collaborations in the research and development of effective solutions to combat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 disease.

Executives from each company took part in a signing ceremony held via video conference between the UAE and Israel.

During the event, they discussed how they might capitalise on their respective expertise and technologies to develop cutting-edge solutions and medical initiatives that would benefit, not only the populations of both countries, but humanity as a whole.

This joint initiative brings together some of the most active players in the Covid-19 response in the region and aims to leverage their combined knowledge, human and technological assets, and other resources to accelerate the delivery of breakthrough solutions to safeguard the public health and support the global fight against the pandemic.

G42 is nominally an independent company specializing in artificial intelligence. However, its website makes clear that it works closely with, and aligns with, the strategic direction of the Abu Dhabi government.

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While Israeli defense contractors have indeed pivoted to fighting the pandemic, they are still defense contractors –and the UAE chose those companies specifically to partner with. These are the very companies that Israel haters call out as violators of human rights.

My guess is that this agreement was made with a view to the future where Israel and Gulf countries will cooperate on military technology. After all, G42 could have chosen to partner with Israeli universities or pharmaceutical companies, and instead chose not one but two major military suppliers.

The UAE not only doesn’t care about what the pro-Palestinian crowd thinks, it is highlighting this agreement with the Israeli defense contractors  in its media.

This rapprochement between formerly bitter enemies shows what peace will look like and how we will get there. National decisions are driven by self-interest and Israel has a lot more to offer than Palestinians do.

  • Friday, July 03, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

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It’s easy to see the sheer volume of anti-Israel material online and in social media and feel like we are losing.

But when you step back, you can see that the reality is that Israel is winning in every conceivable field.

While the haters scream about "occupation" and "annexation," Israel continues to grow, get stronger and become more indispensable to the region and the world.

Israel is strong militarily, economically and in innovation. Both Western and third-world nations want to be like Israel. They want to learn from Israel. It really is a "light unto nations."

Israel is getting closer and closer to the Arab Gulf nations, as they realize that the Palestinian cause is a self-created dead end. While Palestinians make more and more demands on their Arab “brethren,”  Israel offers solutions.

Israel has become a powerhouse in desalination, de-desertification, and water conservation in a dry region. It has a lot to offer to its neighbors. They know this. What can Palestinians offer them? Forcing them to defend terror to the West that they are trying to get closer to?

Israel is the most stable nation in the region, and when Arabs are afraid of Iran hey are turning to Israel to be their protector as well, at least implicitly.

Israel is becoming an exporter of energy, now selling natural gas to Egypt and Jordan.

The moderate Arab nations need Israel, and their support of Palestinians is lip service.

When you look at anti-Israel demonstrations, they do not reflect anything close to reality. Israel is stronger than ever - and more liberal than the socialists leading the hate train.

The volume of the Israel-haters’ sound equipment as they robotically chant “From the river to the sea….”  isn't a reflection of success. The chants and pro-violence messages are the screams of frustration that they cannot destroy the Jewish state they hate so much.

(based a thread on Twitter)

Thursday, July 02, 2020

From Ian:

Why is the ADL aligning itself with Al Sharpton?
My public relations agency has represented a myriad of interests promoting minority communities. In fact, over the years we have represented a number of individuals who are significant donors to the Anti-Defamation League, the latest organization working together with Sharpton. Civil rights issues in the African American community are indeed serious; and they should be taken seriously by leaders of the Jewish community. Indeed, it is important for there to be a united front among those in other minority communities in calling out racism in any way it may manifest itself. It's incumbent upon us as Jews to call out racism - and I've been personally heartened by the participation of members of the Jewish community in some of the peaceful demonstrations that have taken place.

But that does not and should not ever take place at the expense of promoting anti-Semites or bigots of any stripe. Indeed we are doing a disservice to the African American community by propping up someone like Al Sharpton by doing so. There are many decent and impressive civil rights activists within the African American community who deserve our support, and certainly deserve a platform. Al Sharpton is not one of them.

For those that don't know, Al Sharpton has a long and storied history of Jew hatred, that has been well documented over the years. Sharpton played a central role in provoking the rioters in Crown Heights back in the summer of 1991. Riots that led to the death of Yankel Rosenbaum. "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their Yarmulkas back and come over...," said Sharpton, during that three day stretch of riots.

Sharpton never properly offered genuine remorse for this sort of rhetoric. And his actual participation and fomenting of violence in the form of these riots is something that the Jewish community can never forget. Sharpton's list of anti-Jewish screeds go well beyond the rhetoric he employed during those riots. Sharpton has referred to Jews in the past as "diamond merchants," "white interlopers," and "Jew bastards."

It is not therefore unreasonable to ask why the ADL and Jonathan Greenblatt are proudly collaborating with Sharpton in the #StopHateforProfit campaign. This isn't about the merits of the campaign. It's about a figure who no Jewish lay leader ought to be working with when it comes to issues of civil rights. It's not only a disservice to the Jewish community; but a slap in the face to the African American community as well. The African American community deserves better.
U.S. Deputy Anti-Semitism Envoy: Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism
The "coronavirus conspiracy theory [is] a modern-day blood libel, where Jews or the State of Israel is blamed for the pandemic," U.S. deputy anti-Semitism envoy Ellie Cohanim told Jewish leaders on Monday. "It is not being spread by the usual bad actors on the dark web or elsewhere, but by government officials spreading the lies - from Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and Iran."

Cohanim, who fled Iran with her family during the 1979 revolution, said she had learned two lessons from her family's experience: that even societies welcoming or hospitable to Jews, like Iran was under the Shah, "can suddenly flip overnight"; and that Jews can "never underestimate the threat of anti-Semitism."

Asked about the possibility that extension of sovereignty by Israel to parts of the West Bank may lead to increases in anti-Semitism, she said, "Just the fact that American Jewry is nervous about this shows that we have been conditioned to feel the anti-Semitism in our bones." She noted that no other country is subjected to the same kind of scrutiny when they make decisions for their populace.

Asked about the notion that one can be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, Cohanim said U.S. policy is that "anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Full stop." She added that when people criticize other countries for action they have taken, that doesn't lead to a discussion about the country's right to exist.


Ruthie Blum: The 'right' kind of gay pride
Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana – a proud member of the LGBTQ community and equally proud member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party – has said that "being attracted to men doesn't mean you have to believe in creating a Palestinian state."

Ohana made that statement during an interview with The New York Times a year ago in June, when Netanyahu appointed him interim justice minister.

Ohana – a lawyer, a major in the reserves and a veteran of the Shin Bet security agency – is hated by the Left for the policies that he promotes and the bills that he has drafted. Among the latter is the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People.

But it is Ohana's view of judiciary overreach that has earned him the greatest wrath among his detractors. When he was first appointed justice minister, he made a statement to the effect that not all Supreme Court decisions should be honored.

In the wake of the ensuing uproar from the disingenuous "defenders of democracy"– those who don't believe in the separation of powers as long as the judges that they deem politically correct are occupying the bench –Channel 12's Amit Segal asked Ohana if he really meant what he had said.

"Yes," Ohana answered, quipping, "the 'supreme' consideration must be to safeguard the lives of [Israeli] citizens."

Nor did Ohana falter when Segal challenged him to contradict himself in relation to the Supreme Court's liberalism towards gays is concerned. Ohana – who lives in Tel Aviv with his partner, Alon Hadad, and their two children – smiled and shook his head.

The most important strides in LGBTQ rights, he replied, were made in the Knesset – the legislative body, not in the courts. The point he was trying to drive home is that the business of enacting laws is the job of elected parliamentarians, not judges appointed by committees comprising their cronies.

  • Thursday, July 02, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Last night, someone tweeted:


At first, this seems pretty straightforward -- and accurate.

After all, you would expect it would take someone who is actually familiar with Zionism to really understand it and besides -- the 'definition' of Zionism among the general population is going to be influenced by the "Zionism is Racism" crowd.

But that is not how people on Twitter saw it -- and I am talking about the reaction from Jews and non-Jews sympathetic to Israel.

I'm not even criticizing individual comments; I'm just pointing this out as a phenomenon.

So instead of stopping there, here are some of the reactions.
Note, responses by Rafaella Gunz, who started the thread, are indicated by "RG"
Not necessarily [and away we go...]

As I said on this thread yesterday, I know people who aren’t Jewish but definitely get it. Your tweet is insulting to them which I hope is not your intention. We need all the friends we can get.

RG: They get it because they speak to Jews. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about goyim who make up definitions of it being about stealing land and killing people.

I don’t think you should generalise like that, some of us have been well taught

RG: I said "probably." And I'm referring to goyim who make up definitions about it being about ethnic cleansing or land stealing. If that doesn't apply to you, the tweet wasn't about you.

What do you mean "probably"?

RG: Probably means probably.

Probably wrong, and definitely irrelevant.

What about if that definition comes from a Clown? And he/she/it could be a Noahide? Or, also maybe he could be like me, right now. Absolutely drunk? How much, bad/wrong it could be that definition my dear?

I'm a Gentile. I believe in Israel's right to exist with secure borders without qualification. Are you going to cancel me?

I’m a Zionist & I understand Zionism but I’m not a Jew. Your comment saddens me.

What’s the definition?

RG: The belief of Jewish self-determination in our indiginous homeland

You can't just kill other people who live there.

RG: Thaaats not in the definition. Thanks for proving my point.

You might as well say all Palestinians are terrorists which clearly they’re not- I say that as a Jew before you all pile in! But in all seriousness, and as I keep repeating; if people study, research history, they’re entitled to form an understanding of Zionism. Don’t diminish friends

Defining Zionism is as problematic and controversial as defining antisemitism. That should not come as a surprise. But just as Jews should be able to define what qualifies as Jew-hatred when we are attacked, we should also be respected enough to define our own movement to reclaim and live on our indigenous land -- land that both European (Roman) and Muslim invaders conquered and colonized.

Fat. Chance.

One of the concerns expressed is an appeal to an "open tent" -- that we should do whatever is in our power to avoid turning away people who are potential allies.

Yes, there is some merit in the importance of not turning friends away, but we are talking here about a tweet, and even at that, a tweet that was qualified by the word probably. And even then, all that was being said is that some non-Jews are probably wrong. Not probably evil.

Other groups can say outsiders don't get it. Just now, I did a search on the phrase "white people just don't get it" and it got 112,000 hits. When I did a search on "white people don't get it," it got 837,000 hits.

I understand the sentiment, but I don't think it should stop us from admitting the truth -- and doing our part to educate Jew and non-Jew alike on what Zionism is.

Also, such a tweet is not an attack, let alone a threat to "cancel" someone. Jews did not go rioting in the streets when they were attacked on the streets of New York City and shot in their shuls. We have been working within the system. That claim borders on the "straw man" argument that criticism of Israel is accused of being antisemitic. Demonization of Israel is antisemitic, criticism is not. Not our fault that these days people don't know the difference.

And if that 'saddens' them, that is OK. It is not personal, it is a reflection of the reality of the growing power of antisemites in the Democratic Party and among antisemitic groups that recognize their growing impunity to attack Jews and Israel with vicious labels and lies. If anything, we need to speak out more forcefully about that, not less.

Yes, people who "study and research history" are entitled to form their own opinions. But is that supposed to mean that if they don't do the study and research, they are not entitled to their own opinions? The fact is on the one hand that people do not base their opinions on research, and on the other hand, even if they do their research -- that doesn't mean it is "correct" or that I have to agree with them.

Rafaella Gunz makes it clear that she was referring to non-Jews who actually twist and distort the meaning of Zionism. It is an important distinction.

The bottom line, it is great for Jews -- and Israel -- to have allies, but that doesn't necessarily mean that those allies fully understand us or our love of Israel in the same way that we do. Maybe some do. It doesn't matter.

Other groups have the right to have their history, culture and homeland respected -- regardless of one's ability to identify with them.

Jews deserve no less.

And we should say so.

  • Thursday, July 02, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

Check out their Facebook page.

At Our 'Day Of Rage' Gathering We Almost Had A Minyan To Say Kaddish For Terrorists

by Yonah Lieberman, If Not Now

Yonah LiebermanNew York, July 3 - Yesterday's series of protests in solidarity with Palestine and against Israeli annexation of Palestinian land attracted so many attendees that at our best-attended event, in Philadelphia, we could almost cobble together the ten-person quorum necessary for the Mourner's Kaddish in honor of Palestinians who died trying to kill Jews. It was a smashing success.

Our organization aims to smash the monopoly that certain established groups have long exercised over perceived authority to speak for American Jews, and we do that by showing how out-of-step those mouthpieces for Israeli expansionism and Apartheid are with the bulk of American Jews. The fact that we could muster as many as two demonstrators for some of our Day of Rage rallies demonstrates to those stodgy mainstreamers just who has the numbers behind them, and who can make the more credible claim to speak for American Jewry.

The direction of the trend is clear, but that does not mean this accomplishment signals we can rest on our laurels. Much remains for us to achieve - keep setting higher and higher goals, or, as our Palestinian allies have always put it, keep increasing your demands after the other side has already made concessions, because concessions are a sign of weakness, so if they'll grant you autonomy over part of the territory from which you want to cleanse them, keep pushing and eventually you'll push them into the sea as you originally intended more than seventy years ago. It's not a perfect analogy to our situation, but I appreciate the poetry and obvious resonance of it.

Some of those in attendance at the Philadelphia rally argued for reciting the Mourner's Kaddish without the full complement of ten, but more circumspect heads prevailed, with the contention that if we want to portray ourselves as Jewish - echoing, as our name does, the admonitions of a famous Jewish sage - we ought to give at least some nod toward Jewish tradition. At our New York event, our activists woke up Chuck Schumer with Klezmer music, for example, the rationale being that only evoking a period when Jews were powerless and their security depended on the good will of cynical rulers who only saw them as political and economic pawns can we convey the compelling justice of our position. Wouldn't it be grand to bring that period back?

Someone also pointed out that Schumer is already opposed to annexation, but the rest of our groups shouted her down for implying we targeted Schumer just because he's Jewish. We did choose him for that reason, but you're not supposed to say that out loud.

From Ian:

Parents of Jerusalem Terror Victim Launch Petition Demanding Jordan Extradite Bombing Mastermind
The parents of the one of the victims of a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pizza restaurant in August 2001 have launched an online petition demanding that the Kingdom of Jordan extradite the atrocity’s main planner, who has been residing in Amman since she was released in a prisoner exchange with the Israeli government a decade ago.

“Ahlam Tamimi today lives in Jordan where she is a television personality and icon of the kingdom’s social media and public opinion,” stated the petition posted by Arnold and Frimet Roth — whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was killed in the Aug. 9, 2001 bomb attack inside a Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem.

Fourteen other people were killed in the bombing, among them a pregnant woman, while 130 more were wounded in an attack timed to coincide with the height of the lunch hour.

The bomber — a supporter of the Islamist Hamas movement — was driven to the restaurant by Tamimi, who participated in the planning of the atrocity and disguised herself as a Jewish tourist on the day of the attack.

The US Justice Department unveiled terrorism charges against Tamimi in 2017 and formally notified Jordan of its request that she be extradited to face trial.

Jordan has consistently ruled out the prospect of deporting Tamimi — a stance that has piqued some American legislators, seven of whom wrote to the Jordanian ambassador in Washington, DC, in April in protest.
Obama Judge Frees 'Palestinian' Al Qaeda Backer Who Recruited Dirty Bomb Terrorist
Not long after 9/11, Adham Amin Hassoun, a Lebanese 'Palestinian' computer programmer, was arrested at a Florida traffic stop. The arrest had been a long time coming.

Hassoun had entered the United States on a student visa in 1989 and quickly got involved in Islamic terrorism. By the early 90s, the FBI had noticed Hassoun because of his conversations with the Blind Sheikh, the Islamic cleric at the center of the World Trade Center bombing and even larger terror plots targeting New York City landmarks.

The Blind Sheikh was the leader of Gamaa Islamiya or the Islamic Group, a Muslim Brotherhood splinter terrorist group responsible for horrifying atrocities like the brutal Luxor Massacre of foreign tourists, including women and children, where the Islamists had tortured young girls, cut off ears and noses, and left a note praising Islam inside a disemboweled body.

Despite, or perhaps, because of their atrocities, the Islamic Group won the support of leftist advocates like Lynne Stewart: the National Lawyers Guild member who was convicted of helping the Blind Sheikh relay guidance to his terror group from prison.

"The FBI has identified Hassoun as a focal point for communications among persons associated with AGAI and with the international radical fundamentalist community. He has been a major fundraiser for extremist Muslim causes in Chechnya and Bosnia and, since as early as 1994, is believed to have recruited... 'mujahideen,' for those conflicts." the FBI's counterterrorism section chief had warned.

According to the FBI report, Hassoun had been a member of Gamaa Islamiya. By the second half of the decade, he had moved on to Al Qaeda acting as a registered agent for the

Benevolence International Foundation. Despite its ‘benevolent’ name, BIF was a front for Al Qaeda and its name originated with an organization run by Bin Laden’s brother-in-law.

After the Saudis shut down BIF, it headed to Florida, where Hassoun helped out.

Hassoun had become quite fond of Osama bin Laden. “May Allah protect him,” he told one of his collaborators during a phone conversation after the Al Qaeda leader had threatened to carry out attacks against America in a CNN interview.

Experts at Hassoun’s trial later noted that the Islamist had called Bin Laden,

“Abu Abdullah”, a name usually used by Al Qaeda members and close supporters.

  • Thursday, July 02, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

Twitter just suspended the Elder of Ziyon account…apparently for antisemitism!

twits

 

I’m appealing, but please tweet to @Twitter and @TwitterSupport to ask them to restore my account!


UPDATE: Thanks for all the support and people who tweeted, I'm back up although it takes a couple of days for things to get back to normal (restoring followers, and I'm not seeing new tweets from those I follow yet.)

  • Thursday, July 02, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

Yesterday’s “Day of Rage” demonstrations were ostensibly against Israel’s plans to “annex” parts of Judea and Samaria. The chants, however, told a different story: the message was to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian state.

A Jewish state with an Arab minority given equal rights is “apartheid,” but an Arab state with a Jewish minority – which, history shows, would inevitably be as oppressed as Jews have been in every single Arab and Muslim state - is “justice.”

Israel wanting to set its borders in a way that 97% of Palestinian Arabs can still live in autonomy in their own self-declared state is “stealing land.” A Palestinian state “from the river to the sea”  where there is no Jewish autonomy is perfectly fine.

If Israel wanting to set its borders for its security is “apartheid,” then what is this PLO logo?


  • Thursday, July 02, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

Some scenes from yesterday’s “Day of Rage” rallies across America that glorified and incited to violence.

Salt Lake City’s rally had support for an airplane hijacker saying that “resistance” (i.e., terrorism) is justified.

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The Brooklyn rally, in a heavily Muslim neighborhood, chanted support for “intifada” and had some direct incitement for American Muslims to burn down police precincts and cars.

In San Francisco, the crowd was told that of course Palestinians can murder Jews to protect “their land,” just as a mother can protect her children.

  • Thursday, July 02, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

A reporter in Portland’s KOIN News, Jenny Young,  came under fire when she tweeted a very accurate statement.

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She described a speaker at a “Day of Rage” rally as  “openly anti-Zionist”, and the BDS movement as “an anti-Semitic movement that’s been admonished by U.S. lawmakers.”

All of this is perfectly true.

There was a huge outcry from anti-Israel activists, of course,  and the tweet was taken down after an hour.

All of this is depressingly familiar.

But here’s the part that is really upsetting:

Bob Horenstein, spokesman for the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, said he felt the reporter’s tweet was an oversimplification of the issue, but said he also took exception with some other organizations’ characterization of the BDS movement. He said the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland had made their stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict clear.

"We came out with a statement opposing unilateral annexation of the West Bank. We support a two-state solution," he said.

He said while the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland doesn’t believe everyone who supports the BDS movement is anti-Semitic, he said many people believe the effects of the BDS movement harm Jewish people.

He also noted that while some local Black Lives Matter chapters have come out in support of the BDS movement, most around the country have not taken a stand on the issue.

The newspaper already had quoted multiple Muslim leaders who all supported BDS and denounced Israel and Zionists. (It referred to them as “civil rights organizations.”) They wanted to hear from the other side for a token comment. And instead of a full-throated expression of support for Israel and against antisemitism and BDS, Mr. Horenstein hedged and dodged and declared how reasonable many Jews are in drawing fine lines between supporting Israel and opposing sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (which the reporter didn’t ask about) and how some people who want to see the Jewish state destroyed are perfectly fine people who aren’t antisemitic at all, oh no, they just want to boycott Jewish businesses and entertainers and academics from Israel while not boycotting Israeli Arab entertainers or businesses or academics.

He doesn’t even know what he is talking about with Black Lives Matter – it is a national BLM decision to support BDS, not local. If Horenstein wanted to make distinctions, he could have distinguished between the Black Lives Matter movement and supporting black lives.

It is possible that the paper selectively quoted Horenstein. He has explicitly called out antisemitism on the Left. But the way that this reads is that both sides are against the decisions of the Israeli government, both sides don’t consider BDS to be antisemitic  - and the Jews are wishy-washy while the Muslims are passionate.

The tweet should have been defended by the Jewish community. BDS has been recognized as antisemitic not only by US lawmakers but by European leaders as well, and it fits the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Furthermore, Jenny Young should be supported by the Jewish community for what she wrote instead of getting hung out to dry.

UPDATE: It turns out that the reporter, Jayati Ramakrishnan, did cherry pick Horenstein's comments. A reader who is the head of another Jewish organization reached out to the Portland Federation and their president/CEO Marc Blattner categorically denounced the piece and said that with no ambiguity that the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is "100% against BDS." They contacted the journalist who refused to correct the piece. Apologies to the Federation. 


Wednesday, July 01, 2020

From Ian:

How Blindness to Anti-Semitism Threatens Parties and Movements
It is this modern politicization of anti-Semitism that ensured that Rebecca Long-Bailey, who would have been instantly awake to a racist jibe directed at any other minority group, could mistake the anti-Semitism in the interview for benign criticism of a state she doesn't much care for.

The belief that every injustice can be traced to Israeli evil was perhaps best demonstrated by another British Labour politician (now mercifully retired), Clare Short, who claimed during a pro-Palestinian conference in Brussels in 2007 that not only was Israel "much worse than the original apartheid state," but that it "undermines the international community's reaction to global warming." Given Short's conclusion that global warming could "end the human race," one can readily connect the dots about how loathsome and threatening Israel must be, and what should be done with it. For good measure, Israel has also been accused of causing domestic violence in Gaza.

More recently, Black Lives Matter, a group ostensibly formed to combat racism, adopted in 2016 a manifesto that, amidst the discourse on incarceration rates, police conduct and racial profiling, also accuses Israel of being an "apartheid state" and committing "genocide" of the Palestinians—whose population throughout the Holy Land has undergone a continuous and spectacular increase since the advent of modern Zionism in the 19th century. The British arm of the movement then paused its tweets on black lives in order to shoot off an anti-Israel medley, including offering its weighty legal opinion that Israel is in breach of international law and lamenting the "gagging" of attacks on Zionism.

The campaign to attach Zionism to every grievance and injustice has its origins in Stalin's deteriorating mind during the last years of his reign. It became the basis for official Soviet anti-Zionism and remains as a vestige in far-left political movements today. But in a sense, it runs even deeper than that. It is the hallmark of an irrational, fanatical mind, incapable of grasping the nuance and complexity of life. Just as traditional anti-Semitism brought ruin and misery, anti-Zionism will corrupt noble movements and worthy causes unless it is finally stamped out.
Why does ‘The Forward’ continue to promote falsehoods about Israel?
CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, recently prompted three corrections from The Forward. All involved one of the publication’s contributing columnists, Muhammad Shehada.

In one case, he had falsely claimed that, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, officials in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip “have a shortage of the chemicals necessary to make disinfectants, including hydrogen peroxide and chlorine,” because “Israel bans both from entering Gaza under the pretext of ‘dual-use’ items—items they say can also be used for building weapons.”

The correction noted that “an earlier version of this piece stated that Israel bans hydrogen peroxide and chlorine. Israel does not ban either; it restricts hydrogen peroxide. We sincerely regret the error.”

Two other corrections that were made just this month pertained to factual misstatements made nearly a year ago in an August 28, 2019 opinion column. In those cases, notably, the publication did not even indicate that they had made any changes.

But these were just a few of the many false claims that Shehada has made over time in The Forward, a national Jewish media outlet that began publication at the end of the 19th century as a Yiddish-language socialist newspaper. And, as described below, some of those that remain uncorrected were of far greater magnitude.

Shehada is on the leadership team at the NGO EuroMediterranean Human Rights Monitor, an organization whose board of trustees is chaired by Richard Falk. Falk was condemned in 2011 by then-British Prime Minister David Cameron for publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon, and in 2012 by the U.K. Foreign Office “for providing a cover endorsement for an anti-Semitic tract called ‘The Wandering Who’ that compared Jews to Nazis.”

Falk has also embraced 9/11 conspiracy theories. In addition to writing for The Forward, which he has been doing regularly since January 2018, Shehada has written for The New Arab, Al Jazeera, Vice and others.
Douglas Murray: Britain’s woke police forces have lost their way
In the last few weeks, around 140 police officers have been injured in this country; 27 in just one night last week in Brixton. A day later, the force’s LGBT+ network could be found tweeting their support for asexual people. Perhaps the thugs who assaulted their colleagues in Brixton would have been mollified had they known how supportive the constabulary is of the asexuals in their midst? Or perhaps – and I simply put the possibility out there – such efforts by all branches of the British police do not in fact show how much the police have got with the beat, but just makes things harder for the policemen and women on the actual beat?

When you cast your mind back across recent months what are your most distinctive memories of the British constabulary? Dancing for public likes in TikTok videos? Skateboarding down major London thoroughfares closed down by climate extremists? Officers “taking the knee” before Black Lives Matter activists shortly before some of those same officers had to flee from the protesters who had turned violent?

All of these sights are indelibly linked in the minds of everybody who has seen them. But in the minds of a portion of the public they meld with another vision of the British police. A vision which numerous commentators and politicians have helped to exaggerate in recent weeks.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, politicians and Left-wing pundits in the UK as much as in the US sought to make some grand strategic play off the back of that appalling incident. In the US, various commentators argued that the Minnesota incident was not isolated, but part of a broader problem of US policing and of American society as a whole. There is a debate to be had about certain aspects of US policing, certainly. But inevitably there were those in our own country who tried to make political gains by claiming the same situation exists here. These people – not least the organisers of BLM UK – wish to present the British police and the American police as being the same and the history of American racism synonymous with all British history.

It is a very dangerous game that such opportunists are playing. Some responsibility at least for the assaults on police officers that have occurred since the first BLM UK protests must be laid at their door. A week before the assault on police in Hackney, the Labour MP Dawn Butler stood in the House of Commons and told the Conservative government that it needed to “get its knee off the neck of the Black, African, Caribbean, Asian and minority ethnic community in this country.” It was a disgraceful intervention, that went off almost without censure.

Vic Rosenthal's weekly column

 


Recently the European Union announced that it would reopen its borders to visitors from some other countries. Israel was not on the list (neither was the US). Many Israelis reacted indignantly, but objectively our Coronavirus situation is not good.

On June 30, Israel marked the highest number of new cases of Coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, with 803 reported. After succeeding to extinguish the first wave with an economy-crushing lockdown, the re-opening was marred by some strategic mistakes, for which we are beginning to pay the price. Here is a graph of new cases per day:

2020-07-01 Israel Coronavirus 25,244 Cases and 320 Deaths

 

Although there has been a recent increase in the daily number of tests done, a Health Ministry employee said on 16 June that “the proportion of positive tests was higher than before,” and therefore the increase in reported new cases was indicative of a new wave of infection.

I don’t pretend to be an expert, but some of the reasons were obvious. In the educational system: it was necessary to reopen the schools, because Israelis have a lot of children, and it’s very difficult to get people back to work when there’s no solution for child care. The usual safety valve for parents, retired grandparents, was not available due to the danger to them from the disease. The first mistake was to open all grades almost at once. It would have been possible to open the lower grades first, which would have freed the parents to work, while reducing the risk. What followed was a sharp spike in the 10-19 year age group and a smaller one in the 0-9 group at the start of the second wave in early June.

The Education Ministry devised a plan that would separate students and teachers in the schools into “capsules” which would be isolated from one another, students would sit 2 meters apart, masks would be required for students and teachers, and so on. The second mistake was not following the plan. I am not sure if it proved unworkable, or if teachers and administrators didn’t take it seriously enough, as some said. But in many schools, compliance was lax. Schools in which cases of Corona occurred were closed, but the damage was done.

Coronavirus transmission is believed to be primarily by droplets released when an infected person sneezes, coughs, talks, or sings. These droplets may remain in the air for a few minutes. It is also thought that the more viral particles a person ingests, the more likely they are to become sick, although it is not clear if this affects the severity of the illness. Transmission outdoors where droplets may be blown away or dehydrated by breezes and diluted in a larger volume of air, is much less likely than in a confined indoor space. Masks may not be fine enough to prevent viral particles from passing through, but they do greatly impede the much larger droplets; they are useful both when worn by the person who is infected and by others nearby. There is also the possibility of droplets impinging on a person’s eyes, so a face shield is useful in addition to a mask.

Israelis love “life cycle events” like circumcisions, bar mitzvahs, weddings, and so forth. Big weddings are the rule, often held in large event halls. There are even websites that help you decide how much money to give according to the type of event, your relationship to the principals, and so on. These events are often held indoors, and the Health Ministry allowed event halls to reopen when the first wave subsided. There are guidelines on the number of people allowed at an event, but they were liberal. Religious services, which were initially sharply restricted, were reopened with more relaxed guidelines. These actions may have been premature, and some restrictions have been re-imposed.

What everyone wants to do is to find ways to protect the population without destroying the economy. The best way to do that (at least, until a vaccine or effective treatment is developed) is to identify each and every sick person and isolate them before they can infect others. This requires a) the ability to do enough tests, b) a rapid turnaround of test results so that it is possible to identify someone as a carrier of the disease before they can infect others, and c) trained people to investigate the sources of infection so that those exposed can be tested.
While the number of tests has been increasing, the turnaround time has been poor. In the early part of the second wave, when many cases were detected in schools, the labs were unable to keep up with the tests. As far as investigations are concerned the Health Ministry reports a serious shortage of personnel trained to do this; and it has been accused of poor management as well. They have just hired several hundred medical students and paramedics for this function; it’s mysterious why this took so long.

The public, which was relatively disciplined during the first wave, seems to have decided that “the Corona is over,” and that masks are best worn around the chin, to be moved up when a police officer, who might give them a ticket worth 500 Shekels ($146), is nearby. The latest news is that specific cities and neighborhoods will be placed on lockdown in order to try to break the chain of infection.

PM Netanyahu got good marks for his handling of the crisis during the first wave, when he made good decisions such as closing the country’s borders quickly. The removal of restrictions, however, has not been handled so well. Employment has not snapped back – unemployment stands at near 21% – and the epidemic has moved into a second wave, which could be as bad or worse than the first one. Some industries, like tourism and performing arts, have been devastated and little has been done to help them. Of course, everything isn’t his responsibility, but he is known for micromanaging what he believes are areas of importance, and many Israelis feel that he doesn’t believe that they are of importance.

It isn’t helping that after the scandal of the obscenely bloated unity government of 36 ministers and 9 deputy ministers, and after the unity negotiations produced unprecedented perks for the Prime Minister and his alternate, Bibi got the Knesset to pass legislation to exempt him from taxes on work done on his private residence by the government. He did not improve his image when he remarked that although he deserved the tax break, his “timing was wrong.” No kidding.

***

Israel’s approach to the Corona has been very – Israeli. First, we tried to overcome it by brute force. Then we became overconfident. And now, hopefully, we’ll try to be smart.

  • Wednesday, July 01, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

Students Supporting Israel is an impressive grassroots campus pro-Israel organization that has grown a great deal, with a philosophy I can get behind.

Last night I interviewed its co-founder and president where we discussed that things are like for Zionist students and how SSI helps them.

From Ian:

PMW: The legal basis for applying Israeli law to Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley
Introduction

Israel has announced that it will apply Israeli civilian law to areas of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, (the area renamed “the West Bank” by Jordan after 1948), on or after July 1, 2020. Whereas this is seen by some as a hurried political decision, the more fundamental question is, does Israel have the right to do this under international law?

The answer to this question is a clear – Yes.

The League of Nations allocated all of Israel, including these areas, for the purpose of establishing the Jewish National Home in 1922. No other internationally recognized instrument has superseded that decision;
The Arab countries and most of the Arabs resident in British Mandate controlled Palestine, rejected the 1947 UN partition plan, so it has no relevance today under international law.
No other country has a legal claim to that territory;
No state border has ever separated Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley from the rest of Israel;
The application of Israeli law to Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley should not be referred to as “Annexation”, since annexation is the acquisition of territory by one State “at the expense of another State”.

Accordingly, Israel has the right under international law to Israel apply its civilian law to these areas.
Misconceptions of ‘annexation’ show a concerning level of ignorance
The last few weeks have seen a herd mentality take hold and misrepresentations about Israel abound. There has been fevered discussion over Israel’s proposed application of civilian law to parts of Area C in the West Bank. The move is consistently misrepresented as “annexation” and a “violation” of international law. Both allegations are false. The misconceptions betray a concerning level of ignorance. Most importantly, they stand in the way of any informed debate about the pros and the cons of the move.

There is an urgent need to realise that what is being considered is a change to the internal administrative legal framework in certain parts of Area C of the West Bank, which would replace military law with the civilian law that applies throughout Israel. The existing framework was intended to be temporary, but it has been dragged out for 53 years, through decades of failed negotiations. It is regarded as an inadequate and antiquated administration, comprising a confusing patchwork of Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordanian law and aspects of international humanitarian law.

The clamour of allegations that this proposal would violate international law rejects fundamental principles of international law and deploys double standards against Israel. Any legal analysis of the status of the disputed territory cannot ignore the basic principle that a country cannot be said to “occupy” territory that does not belong to another sovereign and to which it has a credible claim of title. The UK certainly does not recognise Palestinian sovereignty over the territory. Israel has the strongest legal claim to the territory, based on a fundamental principle of international law governing the formation of new states and the delineation of their boundaries.

The universal rule for determining borders for emerging states, ‘uti possideitis juris’, dictates that they are established with the administrative boundaries of the prior administrative entity. Israel was preceded by the ‘Mandate for Palestine’, which was established by the League of Nations and administered by Britain. As the only state to emerge from the Mandate in 1948, international law dictates that Israel inherited the Mandate’s administrative boundaries. This principle provides that the territory concerned has been under Israeli sovereignty since Israel’s independence, even during Jordan’s occupation of the territory between 1948 and 1967. While the territory is politically disputed, the legal principle is clear. The term “annexation” is fundamentally misconceived.


The case against a binational state
I believe that it is possible for multicultural countries to succeed, but it is incredibly difficult to say the least, which is why most multicultural states do not succeed. It requires making the vast majority of a country's citizens believe in a national identity that supersedes any racial, ethnic, or religious identity. The only country I know that has been able to do this successfully and last through the centuries is Switzerland, which is largely a country of three distinct ethno-linguistic groups of Germans, French, and Italians. The Swiss Confederation has largely avoided the violence and strife that plagues so many other multicultural states. But as I understand Swiss history, the cantons that make up today's Swiss Confederation united for the sake of collective security to protect their freedom against neighboring imperial powers. Thus, over time, the Swiss have been able to forge a collective identity that has endured to this day.

A similar, but not identical, scenario has played out in Canada. The provinces that make up Canada united largely due to the threat faced by revolutionary America. Nevertheless, the unity of Canada has always remained tenuous, especially in regards to the majority French-speaking province of Quebec, in which many people yearn for independence. There is also the ongoing tension between different regions of the vast country as the needs of each region differ significantly from one another.

Quebec, and to a lesser extent, western Canada, want to preserve what they perceive as their distinct identities. It remains to be seen whether or not Canada will continue to flourish, or if regional, ethnic, racial, and linguistic differences will tear it apart. Moreover, it is almost impossible to export Canadian-style multiculturalism to the Holy Land, where the Jewish and Palestinian peoples have two very distinct narratives and national ambitions, and where there is no sense that a binational arrangement for the sake of collective security is needed.

If Jews and Palestinians were forced to live with each other in the same country, the results would be disastrous and would probably result in Jews being victims of another holocaust. Once such a state was formed, the Jewish people would quickly become a minority, as millions of Palestinian so-called refugees would stream into the country, thereby creating a Palestinian majority, who would attempt to erase any trace of Jewish heritage in the Holy Land. At best, we the Jewish people would be reduced to a persecuted minority, just like many of the persecuted minorities in Muslim countries. At worst, we would be exterminated.


Is it antisemitic to like a post of a Louis Farrakhan video that has nothing to do with Jews? Or is liking such a post just plain ignorance of the fact that Farrakhan is an ugly antisemite? A sign of cluelessness?

Is it antisemitic to criticize Israel and its duly elected leadership? Or could it be an honest opinion or about not knowing any better: not realizing you’ve been fed a load of propagandist hogwash? 

By letting lesser antisemites earn the label, do we dilute the significance of our cause? 

These are questions at the heart of the hot debate generated by last week’s column, an attempt at building a comprehensive list of antisemitic celebrities, a work in progress.

The article in question begins with the statement that building such a list is probably impossible. First, there’s the question of whom to include. Some wanted me to include, for instance, Barack Obama, who took pains to hurt Israel whenever possible. Obama is no longer a politician, and since he is famous, he certainly qualifies as a celebrity. Keeping things simple, however, meant sticking to a narrow definition of the celebrity as entertainer: singers, actors, and the like.

Speaking of Obama, some said that if we’re going to include actors for liking Handler’s Farrakhan post, we should include all the actors who supported Obama.

Others said we should include all the entertainers who supported the Iran deal, which surely poses an existential threat to the Jewish State.

Satisfying IHRA

Some commentators, notably CAMERA UK’s Adam Levick, felt that some of the celebrities listed had clearly crossed the line, while others hadn’t, and that the inclusion of the latter diluted the significance of the word antisemitism, by conflating the former with the latter. Levick referenced the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, stating that this should be the only accepted criteria for such a list. While I respect and appreciate Levick’s thoughtful disagreement, I find that interpreting a celebrity’s behavior according to the IHRA definition is somewhat subjective.

In fact I had referenced the IHRA definition in building my list, in particular noting the examples listed below the definition for illustration purposes, including the following:

“Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

Mental Boxes

Keeping the above in mind, prior to including a name on the list, I asked several questions, ticking off mental boxes:

Had the celebrity leveled similar accusations against other countries? Or are the accusations made only against Israel?

Is the celebrity voicing benign tourist-type complaints about the weather or the food in Israel? Or is the celebrity with the public platform singling out Israel for criticism by insulting Israel’s leadership and/or accusing Israel of malfeasance in relation to its Arab population and its legal maritime blockade of Gaza?

If the latter, it seems to me such criticism of Israel is dissimilar to criticism of other countries, and directly targets the Jewish State based on anti-Israel propaganda, alone. But should we blame celebrities for believing what they read in the media? For not taking the time to read more varied reports from which a truer, more positive picture of Israel might emerge? 

Yes. Because in antisemitism, as in life, ignorance is always a choice. Especially when it comes to singling out the Jewish State from one’s very public platform.

Liking A Public Figure

The same is true of liking a post of Farrakhan speaking out against racism—a post having nothing to do with this public figure’s very vocal and infamous expressions of antisemitism. If you’re going to put yourself out there and like a Farrakhan post, you better know what you’re liking. And by now, who doesn’t know who Farrakhan is, and what he represents? And if you don’t, why don’t you? You’re an adult. You are putting yourself out there in the public eye on a variety of causes, using your celebrity to stump for presidential candidates and to advocate for change.

The use of a public platform is a responsibility, and like all responsibilities, requires a familiarity with current events and a thorough study of the subject in question. If you like a Farrakhan video, you better know all about the man. That, in essence, is your job as a celebrity voicing support for a movement or a cause.

When Israel is singled out for criticism—or when a celebrity favors a post highlighting the views of a notorious antisemite—I believe the IHRA working definition of antisemitism has been satisfied.

Natalie Portman's Calculated Insult 

Take Natalie Portman. The Jewish actress, who was born in Israel (hence an Israeli citizen), received the coveted Israeli Genesis Prize but refused to attend the awards ceremony because she “did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony.” But Portman announced her decision not to attend six months after she had confirmed her attendance to the Genesis Prize Foundation, and a full nine months after the award was announced. From the Genesis Prize website:

“This announcement was made almost six months after Ms. Portman confirmed her attendance at the Genesis Prize ceremony. Prior to accepting the Genesis Prize, Ms. Portman was made aware that the Genesis Prize is a partnership between our foundation, the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, and The Jewish Agency for Israel. Moreover, we informed Ms. Portman that the Prime Minister of Israel presents the Genesis Prize and also delivers a keynote address at the award ceremony.”

So Portman accepted the award knowing that Netanyahu partners with the foundation, presents the prize, and delivers the keynote address at the award ceremony. But she let everyone think she was coming to Israel to accept the prize, then used her public platform, at the last minute, to insult the elected leader of Israel and to bash Israel’s policies on Gaza. In fact, Portman kept changing her mind: was she not coming to the awards ceremony to insult Bibi or to make a point about Israel’s policies in Gaza? Whatever the reason, it was a concerted attack on Israel: an insult, planned and calculated to embarrass Israel—to make Israel look bad.

Dave Lange (Aussie Dave) of Israellycool feels that Portman is within her rights to criticize Israel and Netanyahu, in part because she is an Israeli citizen. I disagree. Portman doesn’t live in Israel, doesn’t vote in Israeli elections and uses her celebrity to accuse Israel and Israel’s duly elected leadership of malfeasance. Her last-minute announcement regarding the Genesis Prize was planned, timed, and calculated to demonize Israel and its democratically elected leadership. Portman’s dissent with Israel’s prime minister and the policies of the Israeli government are based on a narrow, unflattering view of the Jewish State, an obvious byproduct of anti-Israel propaganda/biased media reports.

Comparing Israel to the Nazis

Portman’s statement (quoted in the above-linked Israellycool piece) regarding her decision to skip the awards ceremony further fulfills the IHRA working definition of antisemitism by accusing Israel of “atrocities” and appearing to compare Israeli actions in Gaza with Nazi activity during the Holocaust:

“Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”

IHRA examples of antisemitism include: "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis."

Portman seems to own her Israeli citizenship when she can use it to hurt Israel. But when she stumps for Obama in Ohio, she’s suddenly “Very Ohio,” though Obama’s intention to fund the mullahs’ nuclear program, with its expressed intention of obliterating the Jewish State, was well known.

Will the real Natalie Portman please stand up? Actually, I believe she has. Which is why she stays on the list. Of course, part of the problem of creating the list was how to document antisemitism while keeping things simple.

Portman Email Chain Scandal

Each celebrity’s name was linked to a single news item. In Portman’s case, I could have listed many more such items. There was, for example, that public temper tantrum about having her email address outed on an email chain about Gaza. Was Portman only upset about having her address exposed, or was she upset at being included in an effort supportive of the Jewish State of Israel? From Gawker:

“A few weeks before sending the email, Kavanaugh, an outspoken supporter of Israel, had become the first major studio head to denounce a letter, signed by actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, that condemned the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip. He later wrote an editorial for The Hollywood Reporter calling for the film industry to stand with Israel against Palestine.

“Kavanaugh and Rotholz's forwarding habits were irritating enough to Portman that she'd previously asked Kavanaugh to remove her from the list: ‘you should not be copying me publicly so that 20 people i don't know have my personal info,’ she admonished the producer. ‘i will have to change my email address now.’

"’Sorry,’ he replied. ‘You are right jews being slaughtered for their beliefs and cannes members calling for the boycott of anything Israel or Jewish is much much less important then your email address being shared with 20 of our peers who are trying to make a difference. my deepest apologies.’ (Grimace emoji.)”

Antisemitic Or Just Clueless?

Moving along, many voiced disgruntlement at Jennifer Aniston’s name being included on the comprehensive list of antisemitic celebrities. Her name is linked to a story about all the celebrities who liked Chelsea Handler’s Instagram post with Farrakhan’s video about racism. She liked a post?? Why does that earn her the sobriquet of antisemite?

Because ignorance is a choice: lather, rinse, repeat. Farrakhan is a notorious public figure who has said so many horrible things that simply appearing in a photo with him is enough to damage reputations. The Southern Poverty Law Center called his organization Nation of Islam, a "hate group" (and so apparently did Martin Luther King). 

If Aniston doesn’t know about Farrakhan, she should. She has a duty to know before approving any message issuing forth from his mouth. But just for the record, here are a few choice Farrakhan quotes (see HERE for more examples):

“Satanic Jews have infected the whole world with poison and deceit.”

“The Jews have control over those agencies of government.  When you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.”

“Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men…. White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled a cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.  You good Jews better separate because the satanic ones will take you to hell with them because that’s where they are headed.”

What makes anyone think Aniston would be woke enough to know about Farrakhan? Aniston has, in the past, used her celebrity platform to take a stance on other political issues, which suggests she keeps up with current events. Aniston’s political activism goes back to at least 2003 and the Second Intifada, when she, along with ex-husband Brad Pitt, created their “One Voice” peace initiative.

Aniston: Describing A False Equivalence 

At a time when Israeli civilians, including children, were being blown to bits on buses by suicide bombers, I found it particularly insensitive when Aniston and Pitt, in their joint statement, drew a false equivalence between Arab and Israeli society, suggesting that Israeli children, like their Arab counterparts, were growing up learning to hate:

"The last few years of conflict mean that yet another generation of Israelis and Palestinians will grow up in hatred. We cannot allow that to happen."

A quick glance at the work of IMPACT-se, shows that the opposite is true. Arab school children are inculcated with hate by their teachers and their textbooks every day in their UNRWA classrooms. Israeli textbooks, on the other hand, contain no such incitement or racism. Because this is contrary to Jewish values and the values of the Jewish State. Which is why Arabs are found alongside Israelis in every Israeli sector and sphere, including in the Israeli parliament, where Arabs make up the third largest party in the Israeli Knesset. Which is why accusations of Israeli “Apartheid” are equally spurious. (Also: Israelis were not blowing up buses of Arab civilians in 2003 or at any other time.)

Aniston and Pitt, with their false assertion that another generation of Israeli children are growing up in hate, fulfill this IHRA example of antisemitism: "Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such . . . "

Some might suggest that Aniston is merely clueless for liking Handler’s Farrakhan post, or for suggesting a false equivalence between Israeli and Arab children. But actions have consequences and if you use your celebrity platform to prove you are woke, you better actually BE woke, by being conversant with current events and the varied perspectives on these issues. Is Farrakhan worthy of a like when he speaks out against racism? Is he an upright human being one should like or quote? Are Israelis actually growing up “in hatred” or is that something you say to make you feel better about Arab terror?

Silverman: Defending An Assailant Of IDF Soldiers

Sarah Silverman was another addition to my list to which some readers took exception. Silverman’s name was linked to her support for then 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested for physical and verbal abuse of IDF soldiers. Linking to an Amnesty International campaign for Tamimi’s release, Silverman tweeted, “Jews have to stand up EVEN when—ESPECIALLY when—the wrongdoing is BY Jews/the Israeli government."

The IHRA definition of antisemitism includes this example: "Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation."

Is it wrong to arrest a 17-year-old who assaults the military? Would it be wrong in America? Or is it only wrong when Israeli soldiers are on the receiving end of the assault?

This is “as a Jew” criticism of Israel at its worst. Tamimi has been assaulting Israeli soldiers for years. From the link I supplied with Silverman’s entry:

“Many Palestinians consider her a political icon as she has a history of confronting IDF soldiers. Ahed Tamimi had first came to public prominence when, aged 11, she appeared in another video threatening to punch a different soldier.”

Exploiting Fame

Dave Lange has been documenting Ahed Tamimi’s behavior at Israellycool for years, dubbing Tamimi “Shirley Temper” due to her youth, her big blond frizz, and her temper tantrums. The Tamimi family is notorious for using its children to attack the State of Israel. The whole family is involved in one way or another in this effort. Why not? This is, after all, the same clan that is responsible for masterminding the Sbarro Pizzeria Massacre. Which is why none other than Arnold Roth, responding to Silverman’s tweet, wrote:

“Entertainers exploiting their fame are often a poor choice for clarifying what’s moral or good. Sarah, did you stand up for our daughter Malki and the other 15 Jewish lives extinguished by Ahlam Tamimi, Ahed’s cousin and role-model-in-life? Do you stand with Ahed’s call to kill?”

If Silverman is going to stick her neck out and criticize Israel, she has an obligation to know all the facts, from every angle. A simple Google search would have led her to Lange’s comprehensive coverage of Tamimi’s antics. Is it fair for Silverman to single out the Jews and Israel for criticism in regard to Tamimi’s arrest? In my opinion, her tweet is antisemitism according to the IHRA definition. Because a girl of 17 with a long, documented record of assault, no matter in which country the assault occurs, and no matter the religion of the victims she assaults, should be held culpable.

When celebrities use their public platforms to demonize Israel on the basis of propaganda, that's antisemitism. If you're going to single out the Jewish State, you better be basing your assertions on fact, or we'll call you out on them. Otherwise, it's gratuitous hate.

Criticism Of Israel, Alone

Is Portman leveling accusations against the democratically elected leaders of other countries? Is she turning down awards from other countries based on what she thinks about their leaders? No. Her accusations extend to Israel, alone.

Is Aniston merely clueless? No. She is a person who follows current events enough to start a peace initiative on behalf of people who don’t live in her own country.

What about Silverman, who fights for the freedom of a girl who has been made into an anti-Israel propaganda tool by her family? Does Silverman have a right to criticize Jews and Israel for detaining this “girl” who is now on the cusp of adulthood? Context is everything.

Silverman used her celebrity to call for the release of a person with a long record of assaulting Israeli soldiers. That cannot be understood in a kind light. Silverman is singling out Israel. We don’t see her demanding the release of anyone else assaulting soldiers in any other country. No. She only holds the Jews, her own people, to account. Only the Jews are not allowed to pursue justice in response to physical assault, according to Silverman.

Shades Of Antisemitism

I do understand that there are levels and gradations of antisemitism. I understand those insisting on nuance and proof. Because there is a difference between making a political statement and outright Jew-hatred. There's a difference between Mel Gibson calling Jews "oven dodgers" and liking a tweet that has nothing to do with Jews.

The point of making a comprehensive list, however, is that it should be comprehensive. The idea of such a list is to let these people know we see them. We know what these celebrities are doing. And their behavior is unacceptable, no matter how rich, talented, and beautiful they are.

When celebrities use Israel to virtue signal, they turn Israel into a common icon for everyday condemnation and abuse, in which Israel becomes the pivot on which all attacks turn. Celebrities use Israel to get attention. Because when they demonize Israel, they know they will receive applause and approbation. And this is disgusting.

It's Not Torah M'Sinai

The “comprehensive list of antisemites” is not Torat Moshe M’Sinai. My suggestion is that you use it as a tool to take a stand and defend your values. One commenter suggested as much: “I think the list is fine even if—especially if—it's as blunt a tool as those used by the critics. Let them stand on their own values and defend them. We are in an either/or world now. Take a stand and live with it.”

My feeling is that the links on each name in the list tell us to be careful about these people at a minimum. We need to be careful about people who like a post featuring a notorious antisemite, even if that “like” was totally innocent and clueless. There are all kinds of (poor) excuses for bad behavior. But ignorance is no excuse at all. Just as we wouldn’t give the Nazis a pass because they had “no choice” or because they were swept away by Hitler’s charisma.

Some say that being cavalier in my determination of who is and isn’t an antisemite is not strategic. Guilty as charged. I am not a strategist. I believe in speaking out against even a hint of antisemitism. You don’t have to be a Mel Gibson to make it onto my list. At the same time, there has to be something to look at. One friend wanted me to include John Travolta because of an old (dismissed) lawsuit in which the complainant alleged Travolta said Hollywood was run by old Jewish homosexuals "who expect favors in return for sexual activity." 

The case was dismissed. It’s hearsay. I have no reason to believe this report and neither do you. It’s a rumor, it’s only slander: an anecdote. So Travolta stays off the list. Unless you have something real to show me.

Ignorance Is A Choice

Clueless about the antisemitism of Farrakhan? Ignorance is a choice. So is speaking out against what you don't know about. Of the famous four sons of the Passover Seder, the last is an ignoramus. The famous commentator Rashi calls him “evil.” Because . . . wait for it . . .  ignorance is a choice.

Which is why some of those who made it onto my list are, according to one commentator, “just ignoramuses and dolts, not antisemites. Useful idiots. But, still, stupidity is not an excuse when the issues are not trivial. They are taking a position, and should be called on it.”

I concur. Antisemitism is an important topic and we should be able to discuss it with due frankness. We need to be aware of our enemies, their supporters, and their enablers. Sometimes the three are indistinguishable.

If we lived in a kinder, softer world, we could ignore the threat and be fine. But considering the times, we need to take note. And when push comes to shove, it doesn’t much matter if a celebrity is motivated by ignorance or hatred. Liking a post about Farrakhan is as bad as admiring Hitler’s paintings. It’s fruit of the poisonous tree.

You may disagree with this or that entry on the comprehensive list of antisemitic celebrities. But the IHRA working definition of antisemitism tells us that when you slander Jews, it's wrong. The IHRA working definition of antisemitism tells us that when you take a position against Israel, singling Israel out for criticism, it’s wrong. It stands as a basic denial of the right of the Jewish people to be a people, it's a denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and self-defense. It’s siding with the enemy narrative. As such, there is no practical difference between anti-Zionists and antisemites.

Speech Has Consequences

One commenter wrote that in Judaism, we have a commandment to guard one’s tongue. “Because there is [the] realization that [the] consequences of one’s speech can be far-reaching and extremely damaging to others.”

We need to let people know that when they like a post focused on a notorious antisemite it makes us nervous. We need to let them know that when they single out Israel or the Jews for criticism, it’s wrong. Jews are made of DNA like every other people and we have a right to be treated as normal people. Our country has a right to be treated as any other normal country.

In this light, creating a comprehensive list of antisemitic celebrities serves as an attempt to dissociate ourselves from those who, with their unthinking actions and words, put the Jewish people in greater danger. Perhaps their deeds are unwitting. All the same, they aid our mortal enemies. We cannot afford to stick our heads in the sand, and ignore the things they do, clueless or not.

I will end this by saying thank you to all who helped to form the debate. I think the discussion helped to refine my own views. Thank you for letting me learn from you. I am sure you can see yourselves in this piece.

And to the world at large, know this: when you like a video of an antisemite or speak out against Israel and only Israel, or without fully knowing the facts, it makes you a willful ignoramus. Which makes you an antisemite. Because ignorance is always a choice.

No matter how famous you are.



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  • Wednesday, July 01, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
mespi

 

The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative describes itself this way:

MESPI is a curated interactive platform for Middle East Studies resources, specifically tailored for the needs of teachers, researchers, and students. It is a one-stop-shop for course design on the macro level, lesson planning on the micro level, and for scholarship vis-a-vis specific topics, countries, and disciplines. The MESPI project strives to reorient the way educators and students research, learn, and teach the Middle East.

In Cooperation with The Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University (GMU), The Center For Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, The Asfari Institute For Civil Society And Citizenship at the American University in Beirut, the Center for Global Islamic Studies at GMU, we are launching he Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) to provide critical, user-friendly, and informative pedagogical material and instruction to educators in the field and beyond. MESPI will build on at least four counts: a) create and grow a community/network of educators; b) make available to them and to researchers, journalists, and students a wide array of resources; c) provide in good time a robust syllabus-building tool; and, finally, and most critically, d) MESPI will build partnerships with research centers, organizations, and projects that will constitute its evolving decision-making body.

Every article and book I see on the site that mentions Israel is anti-Israel. It is associated with Jadaliyya and the Arab Studies Institute. 

The site highlights such anti-Israel luminaries as Noura Erekat. A typical article on the site is an interview with Smadar Lavie, author of Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture, where she says

Wrapped argues that the plight of Israel’s Mizraḥim and the plight of the Palestinians are complementary. Both are subject to the state of Israel’s deployment of war as a unifying force to divert attention from domestic issues of racial and gender justice through the sanctity of the “chosen people” in their “chosen land.”

While Mizraḥi feminists stage protests against the neocon restructuring of Israel’s economy and society, this all but disappears when Israel undertakes a new cycle of violence against the Palestinians. They do not challenge their communities’ ultranationalism. As a result of the Jewish state’s unity against all goyim (non-Jews, Hebrew; enemies, colloquial Hebrew), the Mizrahim, Israel’s demographic Jewish majority—racialized and minoritized—increasingly vote for right-wing, authoritarian politicians.

This is antisemitism in an academic wrapping. And it is hardly the only example. Other articles include, for example, “a selection from the University of California Press on the theme of Occupation and Militarism in Palestine/Israel.”

Using academia to smear Israel is nothing new. But this is a project specifically meant to create fully anti-Israel curricula throughout universities, and possibly high schools, while positioning it in the larger context of Middle East studies.

(h/t Irene)

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