Thursday, February 06, 2020

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: It's all about the narrative. Who controls it, wins
Moreover, anyone who points out that Islamic terrorism is part of a holy war being waged against both the west and the not-Islamic-enough Muslim world is denounced for “Islamophobia”.

This also undermines those courageous Muslims pressing for a reform of their religion, often at risk to their lives, who have the ground cut from under their feet by westerners maintaining that the problem doesn’t lie within the Islamic world but with “Islamophobes” who claim that it does.

If we really are not to “go on like this”, the first thing that needs to happen is that this dishonesty must end and the truth must publicly be told.

The government should start saying what it has flinched from saying: that the west is the target of Islamic holy war. It should say that, although many British Muslims pose no threat to anyone, too many in the community either believe the extremist precepts on which the jihad is based or passively go along with them; that too many groups and individuals revere, for example, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi who has endorsed human bomb attacks; that even among those Muslims who oppose violence, too many endorse poisonous ideas about the non-Muslim world which create the sea in which extremism and terrorism swim.

It should state bluntly that Muslims must start to take responsibility, both at home and abroad, for this war being waged in the name of their religion – and that the government will take all necessary measures to defeat it.

You see, it’s not just a matter of passing stricter laws. It’s all about the narrative. The jihadists know that whoever controls the narrative, wins. So far, the ignorant, spineless, demoralised west has let them seize control of it. That’s what now has to end.

UK: Why Are Dangerous Jihadists Being Released Early from Prison?
"We cannot have the situation...where an offender — a known risk to innocent members of the public — is released early by automatic process of law without any oversight by the Parole Board. — UK Secretary of State for Justice.

"When I was a constable, I could arrest and process a suspect in an hour, maximum. Today, it takes a day or more.... The police are mired in bureaucracy, while the judicial system has become an institutional cloud-cuckoo land." — Philip Flower, former chief superintendent with the Metropolitan Police, Daily Mail.

"Bluntly, how would you feel if you were told to keep track of known terrorists who have been released from prison to satisfy the politically correct assumptions of our justice system?" — Philip Flower, former chief superintendent with the Metropolitan Police, Daily Mail.

Ian Acheson, a veteran prison officer who in 2015 led an independent review of Islamist extremism in British prisons, told the BBC's Today program that the UK's risk-management system is fundamentally broken:

"We are going to have to accept that we have to be much more skeptical and robust about dealing with the risk of harm.
"We may need to accept that there are certain people who are so dangerous they must be kept in prison indefinitely....
"I am still unconvinced that the prison service itself has the aptitude or the attitude to assertively manage terrorist offenders."
Can Muslim Terrorists be Deradicalized? - Part I
"What we found [in prisons] was so shockingly bad that I had to agree to the language in the original report being toned down. With hindsight, I'm not sure that was the right decision." — Ian Acheson, British expert on prisons.

"There were serious deficiencies in almost every aspect of the management of terrorist offenders... Frontline prison staff were vulnerable to attack and were ill-equipped to counter hateful extremism on prison landings for fear of being accused of racism. Prison imams did not possess the tools, and sometimes the will, to combat Islamist ideology. The prison service's intelligence-gathering system was hopelessly fractured and ineffectual." — Ian Acheson, "London Bridge attack: I told ministers we were treating terrorist prisoners with jaw-dropping naivety. Did they listen?", London Times, December 1, 2019.

"Obedience is achieved by violence and intimidation carried out by members of the group known as enforcers. 'Those who had committed terrorist crimes often held more senior roles in the gang,' the study found, 'facilitated by the respect some younger prisoners gave them.' The study found that terrorist groups such as al-Qaida did not see prison as an obstacle. Quite the opposite, they viewed it as an opportunity to organize and expand." — Patrick Dunleavy, former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections, June 18, 2019.

Shiite cleric seeks France asylum after death threats over Auschwitz visit
A Lebanese Shi’ite cleric who participated in a delegation of Muslim leaders to Auschwitz ahead of the 75th anniversary of its liberation last month is seeking asylum in France due to deaths threats against him.

Sheikh Mohamad Ali El Husseini was one of about two dozen Muslim clerics who participated in the visit to Auschwitz, together with representatives from the Muslim World League, organized by the American Jewish Committee.

During the visit, El Husseini was the subject of death threats on social media, and criminal complaints were filed against him for “meeting with Israeli agents.” He said this was done with the backing of Hezbollah for having violated Lebanese laws banning contact with Israeli officials.

No Israeli officials were on the AJC delegation.

El Husseini is an outspoken critic of Hezbollah and accuses it of advancing Iranian interests at the expense of the Lebanese state and people.
He has called for Muslim-Jewish reconciliation and posted messages in Hebrew on his Facebook page for the marginalization of religious texts endorsing violence.

After the three-day visit to Poland, El Husseini decided not to return to Lebanon, fearing for his life.
The goal of pro-Israel Democrats: Stop Bernie!
Though Sanders is bidding, along with the more centrist billionaire Michael Bloomberg, to be the first Jewish president, he is easily the most critical towards Israel of any of the Democratic candidates. Although he supports its existence, he also has a record of bashing its measures of self-defense against terrorism. He is not alone among Democrats in being hostile to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or in advocating a return to the Obama administration's more equivocal stance towards its government. But he has also called for withholding U.S. aid to Israel to demonstrate displeasure with what he considers to be its "racist" leader and has even advocated diverting some of that support to Hamas-ruled Gaza, whose isolation by the international community he opposes.

Equally important, Sanders's campaign has earned the support of some of the Democrats' most fervent opponents of Israel, such as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). In the last year, the two congresswomen have been guilty of making flagrantly anti-Semitic remarks about supporters of Israel and of the Jewish state itself. Yet Sanders has not distanced himself from them, and in fact includes a number of similarly minded surrogates campaigning on his behalf, like Linda Sarsour, who also has a history of making anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist declarations.

Groups like DMI rightly claim that Omar and Tlaib, and Sanders himself, don't speak for all Democrats on Israel or anti-Semitism. Yet the two "Squad" members are treated like rock stars in their party and faced no consequences for their statements or their support of the anti-Israel BDS movement, whose rhetoric is drenched in the language of traditional anti-Semitism. It is not irrational to fear that a Sanders administration would find a place for them in important posts.

Republicans are able to tout Trump's historic support of Israel. But while Democrats correctly dismiss fears that the president will make inroads among Jewish voters because of this – Jews remain among the most faithful supporters of the Democrats, irrespective of their stances on the Middle East – the DMI is right to fear that if Sanders wins the nomination, Israel will become a major point of contention in the general election campaign. In that case, Jewish Democrats would be forced to choose between their partisan loyalties and their affection for Israel.
Far-Right Antisemitic Conspiracy Theorist Touts ‘Israeli Connection’ to Iowa Vote-Counting Debacle
Far-right conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles, whose TruNews web channel has been accredited on several occasions by the Trump White House, claimed on Tuesday that the disastrous breakdown of the vote-counting process at the Democratic caucuses in Iowa was a conspiracy by Israel and “the very people who crucified Christ.”

In a video posted on YouTube by Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way, Wiles interviews two people about the Iowa situation.

Wiles asserts an Israeli connection to the app that failed during the vote counting and tied this to the owner of the English-language news site The Times of Israel and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

“The pro-Israel owner of The Times of Israel newspaper is backing homosexual mayor Pete Buttigieg and he’s the moneyman behind this app?” Wiles asked a guest.

He added, “Are you suggesting that the Israelis are influencing the election to have the Democrats nominate its first openly homosexual presidential candidate?”

“That would fit in with the values that agree with that,” the guest answered.

Wiles then spoke directly into the camera, saying, “What happened last night is weird, and we’ve already pointed out, there is an Israeli connection. Imagine that. There’s an Israeli connection to the Iowa disaster last night.”

He then claimed that the electoral breakdown was part of “a coup. A takeover of the United States of America. Unless we resist.”
N.Y. Justice Democrat Touts Endorsement From Anti-Israel BDS Activists
A New York City congressional candidate backed by the same progressive group that helped elect Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) touted an endorsement from anti-Israel activists who routinely defend instances of anti-Semitism.

Jamaal Bowman, a progressive Democrat running to unseat incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), embraced The Jewish Vote, a far-left group aiming to "harness the power of the progressive Jewish resistance," at a January rally. Though the group has claimed neutrality toward the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, its leadership regularly voices support for BDS, defends progressives who make anti-Semitic remarks, and likens Israel to Nazi Germany.

"The state of Israel is doing the same thing to Palestinians as was done to Jewish people," The Jewish Vote steering committee member Elana Levin said in May.

Despite the organization's history, Bowman said he was "incredibly proud to work with The Jewish Vote to take on anti-Semitism" in the group's press release announcing the endorsement.

The Jewish Vote, which made no mention of Middle East policy in its announcement of the Bowman endorsement, employs "deceptive tactics" to distract from its anti-Israel stance, according to Josh Block, a former aide in the Clinton White House.

"More than just offensive politically, it is the deceptive tactics being practiced by these groups and their stooges and stage-managed ‘candidates' that are intended to deceive and whitewash their anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic ideas, positions, partnerships, and true purpose, which is to undermine the Jewish State and America's only steadfast ally in the Middle East," Block told the Washington Free Beacon. "That should be a klaxon warning of how truly toxic are such groups and those who affiliate [with] them."

UK anti-Semitism soars to record high, up 7% since 2018, says watchdog
The British Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain, said it recorded 1,805 anti-Semitic hate incidents nationwide in 2019, the highest total it has ever recorded in a calendar year.

This is the fourth year in a row in which the CST has reported record-high totals of anti-Semitic cases, with a 7 percent increase over the 1,690 incidents in 2018. The organization has recorded anti-Semitic incidents since 1984.

The report cited 566 additional cases that were reported to the CST but were deemed not anti-Semitic.

“2019 was another difficult year for British Jews and it is no surprise that recorded anti-Semitic incidents reached yet another high,” said CST Chief Executive David Delew. “It is clear that both social media and mainstream politics are places where anti-Semitism and racism need to be driven out, if things are to improve in the future.”

Nearly two-thirds of the recorded incidents occurred in Greater London (947 incidents) and Greater Manchester (223), the districts containing the largest concentrations of Jewish residents. While incidents rose overall, in the Manchester area the total number of incidents fell by 11%.

For the second year in a row, over 100 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in every month of the year. The highest monthly totals in 2019 were December (184 incidents) and February (182), two months that saw prominent and intense debate over allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party — in December due to the elections, and in February due to several Labour MPs defecting to form a new party.

In total in 2019, CST recorded 224 anti-Semitic incidents in which the offenders or the abuse they expressed were related to the Labour Party — an increase from 148 such incidents in 2018.

Show Racism the Red Card involved in another antisemitism controversy as it invites Ken Loach to join a panel of judges for an anti-racism school contest
The activist group, Show Racism the Red Card, has become involved in another controversy over antisemitism following an invitation to the outspoken filmmaker, Ken Loach, to join a panel of judges for a school competition on creative anti-racism designs.

Mr Loach has a history of inflammatory comments on the subject of antisemitism. Mr Loach’s voice has been among the loudest of those who attempt to dismiss Labour’s antisemitism crisis as non-existent and a right-wing smear campaign. He claimed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was subjected to a “torrent of abuse” that was “off the scale” and that regardless of what he did, the “campaign” of antisemitism accusations was “going to run and run”. He described the BBC’s Panorama investigation into Labour antisemitism as “disgusting because it raised the horror of racism against Jews in the most atrocious propagandistic way, with crude journalism…and it bought the propaganda from people who were intent on destroying Corbyn.” He was also reportedly behind a motion passed by Bath Labour Party branding the Panorama programme a “dishonest hatchet job with potentially undemocratic consequences” and asserting that it “disgraced the name of Panorama and exposed the bias endemic within the BBC.” John Ware, the programme’s reporter, is apparently considering legal action against Mr Loach for his comments.

In 2017, Mr Loach caused outrage when, during an interview with the BBC, he refused to denounce Holocaust denial. The International Definition of Antisemitism states that “denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust)” is a manifestation of antisemitism. Although Mr Loach later sought to clarify his remarks, he has continued to make inflammatory and provocative statements about Labour’s antisemitism scandal. While speaking at a meeting of the Kingswood Constituency Labour Party, Mr Loach advocated the removal from the Party of those Labour MPs, some of whom are Jewish, who have taken a principled stand against antisemitism. Shortly after that incident, the Labour Party announced that it would no longer use Mr Loach as a producer of their election broadcasts.

Another invitee to the panel, Michael Rosen, is a former backer of the Socialist Workers Party who has also reportedly defended Jeremy Corbyn against charges of antisemitism.

The group’s chief executive described Mr Loach and Mr Rosen as “valued supporters” and said that he could not “think of two people better qualified to choose winners.”

SNP activists invite conspiracy theorist Craig Murray for speech in Edinburgh
Activists from the Scottish National Party (SNP) have invited a controversial former diplomat, Craig Murray, to address them at an event in Edinburgh.

Mr Murray, a blogger and conspiracy theorist, suggested in March 2018 that Israel was more likely than Russia to have been behind the Salisbury poisoning of the Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, reportedly writing on his blog: “While I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grievously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation.”

It is understood that Joanna Cherry, the SNP’s Justice Spokesperson in Parliament, will not be present at the event at the Party’s Braidburn branch to hear Mr Murray, a former ambassador to Uzbekistan who failed vetting to become an SNP candidate in 2014 apparently due to a “lack of a commitment to group discipline”.

A spokesman for Ms Cherry said that she planned to leave the branch before Mr Murray’s speech.
Amid chaos, UC Berkeley student government delays vote against terrorist display
The student government at the University of California, Berkeley, erupted into chaos on Monday, delaying a vote on a measure to censure a display by a pro-Palestinian student group.

The Associated Students of the University of California Senate’s (ASUC) University and External Affairs Committee met to debate student Milton Zerman’s resolution titled “Condemning Bears for Palestine for Their Display in Eshleman Hall Glorifying Violent Terrorists.”

In December, the student group Bears for Palestine put on a display in the student union featuring convicted Palestinian terrorists Rasmieh Odeh, Fatima Bernawi and Leila Khaled.

“Jewish students were repeatedly harassed, heckled and threatened with physical threats of violence … Jewish students should never feel threatened and should NEVER fear for their safety while on campus,” posted Tikvah: Students for Israel, a pro-Israel group on campus, on Facebook.

“Despite multiple threats of violence, the ASUC administrator and moderator refused to get involved. One BFP member stepped into a student’s face and said ‘I’m going to kick your ass,’ while another Jewish student was chased out of the room by BFP members,” continued the post. “We, as a community, decided that enough was enough and that we were not going to sit idly by as our members were threatened and harassed, so we walked out.”
Georgetown Research Project Calls Hamas a ‘Political and Social Organization’
A research project at Georgetown University has a fact sheet that refers to Hamas as “a political and social organization.”

The Bridge Initiative, which describes itself on its website as “a multi-year research project on Islamophobia housed in Georgetown University,” published a fact sheet on Jan. 27 documenting the 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial, which resulted in leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development charity being convicted of providing material support to Hamas in 2009.

The fact sheet says that Hamas “was founded in Palestine in 1987 as a political and social organization, with an armed wing aimed at resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” It acknowledges that the United States designated Hamas a terror organization in 1997, but then states that designating Hamas as a terror group “has been criticized by legal scholars as being politicized by the State Department, and as raising issues concerning due process, equal protection, judicial deference, the chilling of free speech, and having ‘disparate impact on the Arab Muslim community.’ ”

Jewish groups criticized the fact sheet’s description of Hamas.

“The description of Hamas in the Georgetown Bridge Initiative’s ‘factsheet’ is abhorrent,” StandWithUs Executive Director of Research & Strategy Max Samarov said in a statement to the Journal. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, frequently attacks Israeli civilians, and brutally oppresses Palestinians in Gaza. Anyone who whitewashes their actions should be ashamed of themselves.”

Associate Dean and Director of Social Global Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that countries like Germany argue that Hezbollah’s political and military wings are separate; the fact sheet essentially makes a similar case for Hamas, Cooper argued.

“To try to extend that to [Hamas] is indefensible, but if it sticks, it’s a way of giving students on campus a talking point, even if it’s phony,” Cooper said.

He added: “It’s basically a code to bestow legitimacy upon an illegitimate group.”

Independent corrects misleading article on Macron outburst
The Indy article also claimed that “an Israeli police spokesperson declined to comment on the incident on Wednesday, while an Israeli government spokesperson did not immediately provide comment on behalf of the Shin Bet internal security agency, which also helps guard foreign dignitaries.”

However, as we noted to Indy editors, Israeli police and the Shin Bet did in fact comment prior to the article being published.

The Guardian, for instance, who published their report on the row prior to the Independent, noted this:
“Israeli police and the domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, said in a joint statement on Wednesday it had been agreed in advance that a police officer and Shin Bet guard would escort Macron inside the church.

The statement said that after Macron finished the visit “he apologised about the incident and shook hands with the security personnel”.”

We argued that the omission of such information represents a significantly distortion of events that took place that day, an incident which some suggested was a pre-planned provocation, not by Israel, but by the French President, designed to evoke Chirac’s 1996 incident and, thus, project an image of strength and assertiveness.

HRC Condemns Chronicle Herald for Printing Antisemitic Letter Claiming Jews Killed Jesus
HonestReporting Canada takes serious issue with a letter published in the Chronicle Herald on International Holocaust Remembrance Day no less, that was rife with antisemitic tropes and Jewish conspiracy theories. See the letter in full appended below.

There’s no basis to letter writer Henry Bradford’s claim that the Jewish people were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. Importantly, past Pope’s have repudiated this canard, which since time immemorial has fanned the flames of hatred against the Jewish people. The “Temple aristocracy” and supporters of the rebel Barabbas were held responsible for Christ’s crucifixion.

Secondly, to claim that another cause of antisemitism is the unresolved “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” is in and of itself, antisemitic. Jew-hatred is irrational and without causation.

According to the working definition of antisemitism through the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), of which Canada is a member, when individuals hold Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the state of Israel, that’s antisemitic.
Facebook takes down New Jersey page accused of antisemitism
Facebook has removed a page that opposes the expansion of the Orthodox population around Lakewood, New Jersey.

The page, called Rise Up Ocean County, had been called antisemitic by local leaders.

“We’ve been clear that this page trafficked in hate that has no place in NJ,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “More to do to stop the spread of hate online, but this is a step in the right direction.”

The page had been taken down temporarily in January but was later reinstated.

The group said its purpose was to mobilize locals to oppose overdevelopment around Lakewood, a town in the central part of New Jersey that has seen a boom in its Orthodox population. It encouraged members to speak out at town meetings and said it was producing a documentary.

Local leaders — Jewish and non-Jewish — said its activism crossed the line into Jew hatred.

“It’s a vicious group that’s trying very hard to put a genteel veneer on their deeply antisemitic agenda,” Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a spokesman for the Lakewood Vaad, a local Jewish communal organization, said last year.

One video posted early last year used a famous poem about Nazi Germany to warn about the dangers of Orthodox population expansion. It showed
photos of crowds of Orthodox Jews set to ominous music.

“First they came for my house, but I did not speak up,” the narrator says. “I said I am not willing to sell, and closed my door. … Then they came for my forests, but I did not speak up, because I thought I had no vested interests in the forests.”
Swastikas, anti-Semitic slogans painted on headstones at Dutch Jewish cemetery
Swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans were painted on several headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the Netherlands.

The incident in Dordrecht, situated about 40 miles south of Amsterdam, was discovered Tuesday, De Telegraaf daily reported.

The Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, or NIK, filed a police complaint.

Mayor Wouter Kolff said on Twitter that the incident was “unacceptable” and asked anyone with information about the perpetrators to help bring them to justice.
Bold Sign Campaign in Paris Highlights Travesty of Justice in Antisemitic Murder of Sarah Halimi
Signs condemning the travesty of justice in the case of the antisemitic murder of Sarah Halimi — the 65-year-old French Jewish woman tortured and thrown to her death from a third-floor window in April 2017 — have multiplied across Paris over the last two weeks, French media outlets reported on Wednesday.

Based on the graphic campaign in France in 2019 against “femicide” — the murder of women by their male partners or former partners — the ad-hoc signs in several Paris locations highlighted the horrific manner in which Halimi died as well as the denial of justice that followed.

One sign read: “Justice for Sarah Halimi. The killing of women: Enough. The killing of Jews: Enough too.”

Another said: “Sarah Halimi: I feel pain, I feel shame, I weep.”

A Twitter account — Collages pour Sarah Halimi — has provided daily updates on spread of the signs. On Wednesday, the newspaper Le Figaro tracked down the apparent author of the signs, a 57-year-old activist who gave her name as Sophie.

Referring to her past involvement in the movement against femicide, Sophie told the paper she believed Halimi had died because she was “a relatively old woman who had no means of defending herself and who had already been harassed previously.”

The Halimi case “made me think of all these assaults that go unpunished,” Sophie continued. “Victims of feminicides often file complaints several times but are never taken seriously.”
School in Lincolnshire to edit 95-year-old logo to remove association with antisemitic blood libel
A school in Lincolnshire intends to edit its 95-year-old logo to remove its historic association with an antisemitic blood libel.

St Hugh’s School’s logo features a ball flying over a wall, which represents the story of ‘Little Saint Hugh’ who, in antisemitic folklore, was murdered by a Jewish family after losing his ball over their wall and being invited to retrieve it.

It is understood that the myth was known to the school’s founders, who wanted it to “remind [the] boys to maintain control, both of the ball and where they were allowed to play with it.”

The school’s new headmaster reportedly discussed the issue with the governing board and it was decided to remove the circle from the logo (representing the ball), retaining only the bricks “to reiterate the significance of the educational building blocks.”

The headmaster said: “As a school, we base every element of the education that we offer on fundamental British values and we hold dear the principles of mutual respect and inclusivity,” adding that the school cirrculum includes a visit to the National Holocaust Centre and Museum in Nottingham “which complements the work done in school in RE, PSHE lessons and tutorials” and stressing that “there is no place for discrimination of any kind” at the school.
Yes, there were Jews in Sudan - almost 1,000
The news that Prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu met the Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah al Burhan to begin the process of 'normalisation', has surprised many. It is unlikely that the former Jews of Sudan were on their agenda, but this seems a fitting moment to remind readers that Sudan once had a thriving community of almost 1,000 . In September 2019, the Sudanese government invited Jews to return, promising them full citizens' rights.

Unbeknown to many, there was once a community of Jews living in the Sudan. This community, like most living in Arab countries, was driven to extinction in the last 50 years and its descendants dispersed to Israel, France, Switzerland the US.

But an earlier community, before the arrival of the British, was decimated when Jews were forcibly converted to Islam. The modern community grew and thrived after the British under Lord Kitchener reconquered the Sudan in 1898. The country came under Anglo-Egyptian rule.

Some converts returned to Judaism. One of the few books on the modern community of the Jews of Sudan was written by Eli S. Malka, who at the age of 87, realised that the history of the Jews of Sudan would be lost unless he put pen to paper.

Eli Malka, the son of Solomon Malka, chief rabbi from 1906 to 1949, served as honorary secretary, president and member of the Executive Committee of the Sudan Jewish Community for 30 years until his final departure in 1964.

The community suffered persecution in the wake of the Arab-Israeli wars. One Sudanese Jew I met, from the Tammam family, told me how in the 1970s his uncle had been incarcerated for two years. The Americans paid a hefty ransom for his release, and he and his family were accepted by France as refugees.
Vegan roastbeef, nuggets to be showcased at Tel Aviv confab
The Israeli organization Vegan-Friendly, together with Meatless Monday, a nonprofit that encourages people to consume less meat, will be holding a culinary innovation conference in Tel Aviv later this month to showcase food trends and developments in the field of vegetarian and vegan food.

Over 1,000 chefs and food service professionals will be exposed to the latest vegetarian and vegan products — like a vegan roast-beef chunk that can be cooked in the oven, vegan “chicken” nuggets, a “zero egg” egg, a variety of soy-based meats and puddings — that will be presented by dozens of companies in the industry, the organizers said in a statement.

Some 40 specialty food stalls will be displayed in the exhibition area on February 10 at the Tel Aviv Port, showcasing plant-based products and launching several new product lines to chefs, catering companies, restaurateurs and food service professionals in Israel who will be able to see the supply, quality and variety of plant-based foods they can incorporate in their menus.

Among the firms exhibiting are Zoglos, Osem-Nestle, Tivall, Wyler Farm, MashuMashu, Marina, Teva-Deli, The Nuts Chef, Nice to Meat, Fresh Orange, Hamim VeTaim and more.

Parallel to the exhibition, participants will take part in lectures and panels dealing with the latest culinary innovations, the economic and health benefits of plant-based food and global demand trends.
Fresh fruit and vegetables meet a suite of quality-assessing software
An Israeli startup, ClariFruit, is seeking to make sure that the agricultural produce that reaches our tables is the freshest and most cost efficient possible by speeding up quality controls along the delivery chain.

The firm, which has developed automatic quality control and data analytics software for the fresh produce industry, said last week it raised $6 million in seed funding led by Firstime Ventures and other private investors. The funds include a $2.5 million grant from the European Union Horizon 2020 EIC program, whose aim is to accelerate the growth of European companies with groundbreaking innovations.

ClariFruit is aiming to disrupt the $2 trillion fresh produce supply chain by creating what it says is “the world’s first automatic” quality control platform. The fresh produce industry is plagued by wastage that runs to some 45 percent, caused by multiple factors along the chain, mainly a lack of objective and consistent quality standards as well as hard data to base decisions on.

From field to table there are six to eight points where quality control tests are performed, said Elad Mardix, president of ClariFruit, in a phone interview.
This Israeli Startup’s Little Black Box Can Make Street Lights Smart
Lampposts light up the night sky, making urban environments safer and helping us find our way after dark, but the people behind Israeli startup ACiiST Smart Networks think lampposts could and should do much more. The team behind ACiiST wants street lights to enlighten cities with data on the vehicles and individuals traveling down streets and roads. By placing their little black boxes on existing lampposts, ACiiST can turn them into a smart, connected, data-gathering network.

ACiiST’s black boxes, roughly the size of two iPhones and easily attached to existing lampposts, contain hardware and software that can be used to connect with cameras, closed-circuit television, sensors, and wifi, Yoram Shacham, ACiiST co-founder and vice president of systems and software development said in a Monday interview with Calcalist. ACiiST’s black boxes serve to transmit data collected from the various devices to municipalities and law enforcement agencies.

Usually, establishing a communications infrastructure in an urban environment requires new structures, as well as digging and trenching, which affect traffic and impact residents’ quality of life. ACiiST minimizes the disturbances to the nearby population by connecting to existing infrastructure, and as such are also more cost-efficient than existing systems, Shacham said.

The company’s technology was rolled out last month on Israel’s Highway 20, also known as Ayalon Highway, near the central Israeli town Rishon LeZion. ACiiST’s technology is also in use in the coastal Israeli town Herzilya, Shacham said.
World's smartest child wants to study Israel
Nine-year-old Laurent Simons of Belgium has approached the Israeli embassy in Brussels, saying he would like to explore his possibilities for advanced studies in Israel.

Laurent is especially interested in biotechnology, medicine, and bioengineering, and hopes to study these subjects in tandem so that he can fulfill his dream of designing prosthetic organs when he grows up.

Earlier this week, his parents met with Ambassador Emmanuel Nahshon.

They said they had heard good things about academic studies in Israel and believe their son would thrive in his career and enjoy a community suitable for a ten-year-old boy.

Laurent himself expressed an interest to study various scientific fields, but would first like to master the Hebrew language.

Nahshon told the Simons family that he would convey their interest to universities in Israel.

"It is a source of pride that this child has chosen to study in Israel," Nahshon said. "It shows he is not only a genius but also really smart." (h/t Yerushalimey)
Kirk Douglas, an iconic star who reconnected to Judaism after near-fatal crash
Kirk Douglas, the legendary actor who portrayed legions of tough guys and embraced his Jewish heritage later in life, died at his home in Beverly Hills on Wednesday. He was 103.

Over a career that spanned 87 films — 73 big screen features and 14 on television — the blond, blue-eyed Douglas, dimpled chin thrust forward, was often cast as the toughest guy around, vanquishing hordes of Romans, Vikings and assorted bad guys.

Thrice nominated for an Academy Award and a recipient of an Oscar for lifetime achievement and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Douglas evolved from an egocentric and promiscuous young man into a multi-talented actor, director, author, philanthropist and student of Torah who left a deep imprint on both Hollywood and the Jewish people.

Douglas also was the author of 11 books, ranging from personal memoirs and a Holocaust-themed novel for young readers to a collection of poetry dedicated to his wife.

Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in 1916 in the upstate New York town of Amsterdam, the son of an illiterate Russian-Jewish immigrant who supported his six daughters and one son as a rag picker and junk man.

A chance to escape came shortly after his bar mitzvah, when the Sons of Israel Synagogue offered to underwrite his rabbinical studies. Douglas firmly declined, declaring that he would become an actor. He held fast to that ambition while attending Saint Lawrence University on a wrestling scholarship and during World War II service in the US Navy.

Kirk Douglas: his on-screen Jewish legacy
Kirk Douglas, who died on Wednesday at 103, was a Jew who Anglicized his name and became one of Hollywood’s top movie stars, then found his way back to Judaism relatively late in life, embracing it with a vengeance after he survived a helicopter crash.

But his Jewishness helped guide him throughout his career.

He was born Issur Danielovitch in an era when even the most all-American actors were required to change their names to shorter, catchier monikers. A mainstream career with a Jewish name was simply not an option, and even before he headed for Hollywood, he changed his name.
While in acting school, he briefly dated a young Jewish woman who would also become a Hollywood legend using a non-Jewish-sounding name, Lauren Bacall.

Douglas’s career was a huge success story, and he starred in dozens of major Hollywood movies, including Spartacus (1960), the film for which he was best known, in which he played the leader of a slave rebellion against the Romans. Douglas fought for, and lost, the title role in Ben-Hur, another Hollywood epic in which the Romans were the villains, this one about a Jew who suffers persecution and vows revenge. The title role in Ben-Hur went to the decidedly not-Jewish star Charlton Heston.

Douglas then pushed to be cast in Spartacus, which was a career-defining role in a hit movie. But perhaps he was drawn to it partly because of its anti-Roman sentiment, although it wasn’t a Jewish story. Ironically, Spartacus also featured another Jewish-American actor, Tony Curtis, who was born Bernard Schwartz and who also pushed his ethnicity far into the background.

The ascendance of a Jewish actor to stardom could be seen as a triumph, particularly since it was so much at odds with the stereotype of Jews as small and weak.
NYT's: Studying the Bible With Kirk Douglas
The world knows Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, and as one of the greatest movie stars of the greatest generation. I know him as my hevruta — the Aramaic word for study partner.

For almost 25 years I met with Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovich, once a week to study Torah. After we read through the Bible and hit up all the greats — “That’s a role I was born to play,” he said of King David — we moved on to other books: the Mishna for rabbinical wisdom; “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran; Walt Whitman’s poetry; and modern theology from Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Buber. In time, we just met to talk.

When I first met Kirk in his 70s, he had already had a stroke and a heart attack, and survived a helicopter crash that killed two other occupants. In the 30 years I had the privilege to know him, Kirk, who died Wednesday at age 103, endured a lot. He lost a child to addiction and lost friend after friend to old age until he was left without many contemporaries.

Yet he was never alone. He had a remarriage ceremony with Anne after 50 years. She converted to Judaism to remarry him. (Kirk had been married before, and Anne converted, as she put it, because “it is about time Kirk marries a Jew!”) She studied seriously and converted a month before the second wedding. He told me with pride how Anne lit the Shabbat candles every Friday night, as my former wife taught her to do.

When I officiated at the ceremony, Kirk tried to step on the glass to break it but couldn’t muster enough strength, so he smashed it with his cane. He was, until the last, spry, funny and self-aware.

Cast a Giant Shadow: Jerusalem

A Look Back at the Life and Legacy of Jewish Actor and Hollywood Legend Kirk Douglas
US silver screen legend Kirk Douglas, the son of Jewish Russian immigrants who rose through the ranks to become one of Hollywood's biggest-ever stars, has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 103.

One of the last survivors of the golden age of cinema and the father of Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker Michael Douglas, the "Spartacus" actor was renowned for the macho tough guy roles he took on in around 90 movies over a six-decade career.
"It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103," Michael Douglas said in a statement posted to Facebook.

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