Friday, February 07, 2020

From Ian:

Bethany Mandel: The Jewish Left is trying to hijack Israel
Now the American Jewish Left is using this World Zionist Congress election to try to turn the financial support of the Jewish people against Israel, and they’re not even trying to hide it.

Reporting on the election, the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz explained,
The list includes names like Peter Beinart, the liberal writer; Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the liberal Middle East policy group J Street; and Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.

No, it’s not an ad for a symposium on the Upper East Side, but a slate of first-time candidates seeking seats in the 38th World Zionist Congress, the legislative authority of a 120-year-old Zionist organization that helps determine the fate of $1 billion in spending on Jewish causes.

The candidates hope to steer funding away from Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and toward causes like expanding rights for women and minorities. The second paragraph of the group’s platform notes its opposition to “the current policy of permanent occupation and annexation,” which it calls “unjust” and a threat to Israeli democracy.

Liberal Jewish groups already hold a majority of the American Jewish community’s 145 seats in the congress, but they have mainly used them to advocate for more religious pluralism in Israel. The new candidates hope to nudge those groups toward addressing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank more directly and to registering the unhappiness of the American Jewish community with the status quo there.

“My view of the American Jewish establishment and the Zionist establishment is that it is morally corrupt by defending the indefensible, for defending an occupation that holds millions of people occupied,” Beinart said in an interview.
Not content to allow politicized leftists take over the Congress and the money it could allocate, more right-leaning (religiously and politically) Jews are pushing back. In his endorsement of one of the slates, the Orthodox Israel Coalition, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro explained, “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish groups like J Street have mobilized to direct funding toward causes that run directly counter to the interests of the organization, including support of BDS.”

It remains to be seen how effective this effort will be to hijack a billion dollars in money meant to support Israel, not undermine it. This little-known election could have far-reaching and disastrous ramifications for Israeli security for years to come if liberals get their way.

Netanyahu Makes Endorsement In American World Zionist Congress Election
We’re extremely concerned about what will happen if the ZOA Coalition does not do well in this WZC election.

Our opponents used the power they obtained in previous WZC elections to stop Israel’s national institutions from purchasing lands in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and even in the Negev. This anti-Jewish discrimination could become even worse.

Shockingly, at the most recent World Zionist Congress, our opponents tried to pass a resolution smearing Israel’s tolerant, multi-faceted society as replete with “institutional racism.” We were only able to defeat this resolution — which reminded us of the notorious 1975 United Nations “Zionism is racism” resolution — by one vote.

An opposition group now openly says that it is running in the WZC election to “divert” the $1 billion per year of Israel’s national institution funding “away from the entrenchment of the occupation.”

“Occupation” is a false propaganda term used to attack Jewish persons’ rights to continue living on historic Jewish lands designated for the Jewish homeland under international law. Anti-Israel boycott groups use the term “occupation” to demonize Israel. It is frightening that groups running in the WZC election are using the same rallying cry.

The ZOA Coalition (slate #11) needs many more votes now, so that the next attempt to use the World Zionist Congress to smear Israel has no chance of passing. The full slate includes the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Aish HaTorah, Students Supporting Israel, NORPAC, The Lawfare Project, American Friends of Likud, Dov Hikind’s Americans Against Antisemitism, One Israel Fund, Young Jewish Conservatives, Z Street, American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, American Friends of Likud, Chovevei Zion, Eretz Israel Movement, National Conference on Jewish Affairs, major Russian-Jewish and Persian-Jewish and Ukrainian-Jewish groups, Beta Israel, and more.
Warren appears to agree with supporter that AIPAC is an 'unholy alliance' of 'Islamophobes,' 'white nationalists'
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., raised eyebrows on Thursday night for appearing to agree with a town hall attendee that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is an "unholy alliance" of "Islamophobes, anti-Semites, and white nationalists."

At a New Hampshire event, a woman who describes herself as an "American Jew" expressed her disdain for the pro-Israel group and asked whether or not Warren would vow not to attend the upcoming annual conference in March.

"I'm an American Jew and I'm terrified by the unholy alliance that AIPAC is forming with Islamophobes and anti-Semites and white nationalists," the attendee began. "And no Democrat should legitimize that kind of bigotry by attending their annual policy conference."

Warren nodded along as she took a swig from her water bottle.

The attendee continued. "I'm really grateful that you skipped the AIPAC conference last year and so my question is if you'll join me in committing to skip the AIPAC conference this year."

"Yeah," Warren simply replied and waved off the attendee.

She later said about her views on U.S.-Israel relations, "For America to be a good ally of Israel and the Palestinians we need to get both parties to the table. We're not getting that if we just stand with one party."

The Warren campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.

Warren, who previously attended other AIPAC events in recent years, was one of several prominent 2020 candidates who boycotted the annual conference last year. Meanwhile, top Democratic lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. attended the conference last year.

Israeli Master Spy Avraham Dar
Avraham Dar, who passed away recently at the age of 94, spoke five languages fluently and befriended everyone he came across. His son, Gidi Dar, said, "My father never resorted to violence during his operations. That wasn't his style. He'd always come up with a story and finagle his way through sticky situations. In that way, he succeeded in overthrowing Mustafa Hafez, the head of the Egyptian Fedayeen....Hafez would lead killing squads across the border into Israel [from Gaza] to kill Jews."

"My father...befriended a Bedouin double agent and he fabricated a story, claiming that the head of the Egyptian-controlled Gaza police was cooperating with the Israelis. He confided this to the agent, and gave him a copy of the message in code inside a book, making him promise to keep it secret. Of course, the agent ran straight to Hafez and excitedly told him about the amazing intel he'd uncovered."

"Hafez had to open the book himself, since it included information about some of his men. When Hafez opened the book, it exploded in his face and he and all his men in the Fedayeen headquarters were killed. A similar bomb eliminated his deputy in Jordan just a few hours later."
The Tikvah Podcast: Ruth Wisse on What Saul Bellow Saw
Born in 1915 to a traditional Jewish family recently arrived from Russia, Saul Bellow was raised in Chicago and soon became “part of a circle of brainy Jewish teenagers who read and debated weighty books and learned much more from each other than from their formal schooling.” Early in life, Bellow decided to become a writer “and worked at it so hard and so successfully that by the time of his death in 2005 he had become America’s most decorated novelist.”

So writes Ruth Wisse in her October 2019 Mosaic essay, “What Saul Bellow Saw.” The piece is far more than a biography of Bellow or a catalogue of his accomplishments. It is a thoughtful reflection on his profound insights about social order, the human condition, the Jew’s place in America, and much more. Unlike a philosopher or social scientist, Bellow offers these reflections in the form of the novel. And in this podcast, Professor Wisse and Jonathan Silver discuss some of those novels and give us a brief but enlightening glimpse into the mind of Saul Bellow—the thinker.

Al Jazeera: Herat's restored synagogues reveal Afghanistan's Jewish past
The narrow road that leads to the Yu Aw synagogue in the ancient city of Herat in western Afghanistan is lined with traditional mud homes that, despite their rough exterior, are fine examples of centuries-old architectural dexterity.

Ghulam Sakhi, the caretaker of some of the heritage sites, leads the way, taking short quick steps and pausing every so often to share an anecdote from the area's history.

"This is why I wanted you to walk to the synagogue, so you can see the neighbourhood and how it has been changed since the war," he explained before starting the walk of a little over a kilometre between the old city centre - called Chahar Su, or Four Directions - and the synagogue, which was restored in 2009.

About 350 years old, the Jewish place of worship is located near what used to be known as the Iraq Gate, an area of the city from which travellers and merchants embarked on their journey to Iraq.

The shared Jewish history of the two countries goes further back, to more than 2,700 years ago when Jewish tribes from the present territory of Palestine-Israel exiled by Assyrian conquerors travelled through Iraq to Afghanistan, where they settled and built thriving communities in cities like Herat and the Afghan capital of Kabul.

"The history of Jews in this region goes back to way before the birth of the nation state of Afghanistan," said Afghan academic Omar Sadr, who has also authored the book Negotiating Cultural Diversity in Afghanistan.

"There are mentions in history of Jews living in this region, during the period of Cyrus the Great, the Persian emperor and his conquest of Babylon in 538. During the Islamic era, Tajik historian Jowzjani from the 7th also mentions of Jewish colonies under the Ghurid chief Amir Banji who had recruited Jews as advisers. In more recent history, in 1736, Persian King Nadir Afshar encouraged Jewish settlement in the region because the Jews had good connection in the merchant routes in the subcontinent- between central Asia, and Arabia," he explains. (h/t Zvi)
Arabs and the Holocaust
Leaders from around the world recently visited Israel to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Concurrently with that visit, another important historical visit took place: for the first time, a delegation of leading Arabs visited the Nazi extermination camp.

Muslim World Society chairman Saudi Sheik Muhammad Issa visited Auschwitz on January 23 with a delegation of leading Muslim clerics. One of the most prominent was Lebanese Shiite leader Dr. Muhammad Ali Husseini, chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council, who made a statement condemning the murder of the Jews in the Holocaust. “The visit to Auschwitz is an expression of Islamic condemnation of Nazi crimes in the Holocaust,” he said. “These are crimes against humanity. We refuse to accept any kind of religious suppression whether in the past or in the future.”

Husseini could pay a heavy price for those statements. The day after uttering them, at the most recognizable scene of the Nazi attempt at mass extermination, a group of Lebanese journalists close to Hezbollah filed a complaint with the Lebanese courts against him. They accused him of, among other things, contact with the Zionist enemy, contempt for the Islamic religion, and inciting war between Muslims.

All because of his visit to Auschwitz.

Why did it take 75 years for some Arab leaders to acknowledge the Holocaust, even as most of the Arab world still denies the genocide of the Jewish People? Before delving into this phenomenon, it is instructive to examine the definition of Holocaust denial.

Holocaust denial is not necessarily denying that the Holocaust ever occurred. Rather, it is the spreading of lies or half-truths, and using them as a means of harming the Jewish People and the State of Israel. These lies include showing contempt for the Holocaust, minimizing the numbers of victims, or spreading false claims about the circumstances of their deaths, notably denial of the existence of gas chambers.
Al Pacino Says Holocaust Survivor Tattoo Helped Him Get Into Character as Nazi Hunter
The numerical tattoo Al Pacino wore on his left arm during his portrayal of a Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter in the new Amazon Prime Video series “Hunters” helped the famed actor tap into his character and “become that person,” he said on Tuesday.

At the show’s premiere event in London, Pacino — who recently earned his ninth Oscar nomination — noted that the arm tattoo he had on while shooting the series to resemble those given to inmates in German concentration camps provided “a hand in helping portray a character, learning the accent and becoming that person.”

The 79-year-old added, “It was a reminder, it contributed to all the aspects of the character you are playing and how you absorb a character.”

In the new drama series, said to be inspired by true events, Pacino plays Meyer Offerman, who heads a team seeking to assassinate Nazis living in America in the 1970s.

Creator David Weil explained that the series was “a love letter to my grandmother” Sarah Weil, a Holocaust survivor.

“Growing up and getting older, I struggled with that notion of birth right, legacy and responsibility,” he said. “With so many survivors no longer with us, we are the next generation to tell this story in certain ways. [This show] is an exploration of my birthright, this desire to wear that vigilante cape, to get justice, to shed light on hidden crimes and truths…I just really wanted to see a Jewish superhero, represented by so many others in this eccentric, eclectic kind of way. So that was the genesis of it.”

“Hunters” will begin streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 21:
UK Jewish leader: Anti-Semitism worse than ever since WWII yet we’re ignoring it
A British Jewish leader who played a central role in highlighting UK Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis — a major factor in the landslide defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s party in December’s elections — has warned that the future of world Jewry is threatened more than at any time since World War II, by a combination of “classic anti-Semitism” and anti-Zionism.

Jonathan Goldstein, London-based head of the Jewish Leadership Council, said Jewish leaders have ignored rising anti-Semitism for too long, and “lost the narrative” when it comes to Zionism.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Goldstein charged that many of the innumerable major Jewish organizations worldwide are disseminating different narratives, when they urgently need to coordinate and work together.

“Clearly we’re not maximizing our resources as a global people to ensure that we are fighting back against a disease which is threatening to be out of control,” he said.

“Our major organizations are so at war with each other in a global sense; they are so disparate. There are so many. There are so many different narratives. Just last month, to have competing [Holocaust memorial] events in Jerusalem, with so many world leaders showing support, and in Krakow at the same time is, to me, a missed opportunity. We could and should have sent a more unified message,” he insisted.
Deputy Leader of Green Party Amelia Womack apologises for antisemitic tweet
The Deputy Leader of the Green Party has apologised for tweeting an antisemitic cartoon depicting Israel and the United States as responsible for conflict and death around the world.

Amelia Womack shared an animated image of the Grim Reaper cloaked in an American flag and carrying a scythe emblazoned with the flag of Israel and dripping with blood going door to door – each door representing a country – bringing death.

Ms Womack accompanied the image with the caption: “When a picture paints a thousand words.”

She later deleted the tweet some hours later, saying “That’ll teach me for sharing things just as my battery dies on a train.”

The next morning she apologised, saying: “Yesterday I tweeted a picture which, in my ignorance, I thought was satirising U.S. Imperialism. It wasn’t, it was in fact antisemitic and I apologise wholeheartedly for tweeting it. I abhor antisemitism in all forms. There is no excuse for what I did and I’m truly sorry.”
Universities Urged to Act After Survey Shows 60% Increase in Antisemitism Against UK Jewish Students
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) in the United Kingdom has expressed concern over new figures showing a 60-percent rise in domestic antisemitic incidents affecting Jewish students and academics, calling on university leaders to “take decisive action on our concerns.”

A new report released by the Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors antisemitism and provides protection for the Jewish community, recorded 1,805 antisemitic incidents in the UK last year, the highest total ever logged in a calendar year and a 7% increase on 2018.

The figures included “40 antisemitic incidents affecting Jewish students, academics, students’ unions or other student bodies in 2019, a rise of 60 percent from the 25 such incidents reported in 2018.”

Twenty-one of the incidents took place on campus, while 19 were off campus. They included two instances of physical assault, four incidents of damage and desecration of property, two threats and 32 examples of “abusive behavior.” The latter category includes verbal and written antisemitic abuse, such as drawing swastikas or vocalizing antisemitic slurs. There were no reports of campus-related, mass-produced antisemitic literature.

UJS — which includes some 60 Jewish Societies on campuses in the UK and Ireland under its umbrella, representing 8,500 Jewish students — cautioned in a statement on Thursday that due to under-reporting of hate crimes, “the scale of the problem is not fully revealed. Research shows that only around 20% of hate crime is reported.” (h/t Zvi)
Oberlin College settles lawsuit by professor fired after spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories
Oberlin College initially defended Karega, issuing a short statement defending Karega’s right to hold whatever views she wants:
Oberlin College respects the rights of its faculty, students, staff, and alumni to express their personal views. Acknowledgement of this right does not signal institutional support for, or endorsement of, any specific position. The statements posted on social media by Dr. Joy Karega, assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, are hers alone and do not represent the views of Oberlin College.

After several months, Karega was removed from teaching while the college’s academic investigation was launched, Oberlin’s BDS-loving Jewish-conspiracy-spouting Prof. Joy Karega removed from teaching:
After her rants were exposed in The Tower Magazine, Oberlin was on the defensive after a long-series of anti-Semitic problems on campus centered around an out-of-control vicious anti-Israel movement.

The administration condemned the comments to some extent, the Trustees issued a strong condemnation, and a majority of professors signed a statement against her, though she has a core of faculty and student support.

She was unmoved.

Now she’s been placed on paid-leave for the fall semester.

Karega maintained strong support on campus from anti-Israel student groups, Oberlin Student Senate condemns Alumni group for complaining too much about campus anti-Semitism. Karega and her supporters said criticism of her was motivated by racism, as we covered in Oberlin Prof. who posted antisemitic memes says she’s a victim of racism

Karega was fired, but not because of her conspiracy theories. She was fired, according to Oberlin College, because she failed to cooperate with the investigation into her conduct. We covered the firing in Oberlin College fires Prof. Joy Karega after antisemitic Facebook posts.
Extremist AROC seeks to reinstate discredited California Model Studies Curriculum
The extremist San Francisco based Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) is attempting to breathe life into the dead horse of the widely discredited California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.

You may remember Lara Kiswani, head of the AROC, for her assault on Jewish elders. Witnesses reported her physically ripping signs from the hands of the elders, and doing a victory lap with the destroyed signs held high over her head.

Does Lara Kiswani seem like the type of person we want influencing curriculum for young people?

From the Progressive Zionists of California, a grassroots coalition of California Democrats:

Lara Kiswani and the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) have helped sponsor a petition called “Save CA Ethnic Studies” which states, “Will it [the California Department of Education] institute a Ethnic Studies curriculum that uplifts the stories of all communities of color or reject one that includes Arab Americans—bending to the desires of pro-Israel groups [emphasis added]….”

Progressive Zionists points out that it was not "pro-Israel" groups alone objecting to the "exclusionary and antisemitic Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum". It widely condemned by a consortium of groups, including Armenian Americans, Greek Americans, Hindu Indian Americans, Assyrian-Americans, Sikh Americans, Korean Americans, on the grounds that it was "not inclusive enough".
Unacceptable hatred at UC Berkeley
Unacceptable hatred at UC Berkeley this week.
Incidents like this make clear that the university must do much more to fight antisemitism, ensure a safe environment on campus and protect free speech.

WCC Rebuked by Dialogue Partner After CAMERA Exposé
For more than 20 years, the organization charged with representing world Jewry in dialogue with top tier Christian institutions such as the Vatican refused to speak with the World Council of Churches.

The organization, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), had been on hiatus from dialogue with the WCC because of its statements regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, reported Rabbi David Sandmel, director of Interreligious Engagement for the Anti-Defamation League and one of the ADL’s representatives to IJCIC.

In a statement issued last summer, Sandmel said the breakdown in relations with the WCC “was the result of strong disagreements, particularly on issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Some of the statements from the WCC had from the IJCIC’s perspective, been “problematic and the WCC has been accused of being both anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, charges which the WCC rejects,” Sandmel wrote.

The impasse came to an end in late June 2019 at a meeting in Paris. Announcing that there had been a rapprochement between the two organizations, the WCC and the IJCIC issued a communiqué about the meeting. It declared that, “discussions in Paris were characterized by openness, honesty, and an attempt to fully empathize with how profoundly important these issues are to Jews and Christians alike.”

The WCC had a lot riding on IJCIC’s willingness to start talking again.

Over the years the WCC has demonstrated a profound ignorance of issues related to the Middle East. In particular, the organization’s staffers in Geneva treated Arab Christian testimony about the Jewish state as if it were gospel, ignoring how Christians in the Middle East oftentimes attacked Israel to remain on good terms with Arab dictators and Muslim extremists in the region.
London witnesses three antisemitic hate crimes in under 24 hours
Three separate antisemitic incidences were recorded in London this week, as Jews had stones and fireworks thrown at them in London.

Youths threw eggs and fireworks at Jews attending a synagogue in Clapham Common on Tuesday, Shomrim Stamford Hill reported on Twitter. The group then returned the following day, climbed onto the roof of the synagogue and shouted abuse at worshipers attending.

Also on Wednesday, three males threw a stone at the car of a "visibly Jewish family" visiting a medical clinic on Marine Street in the early afternoon, Shomrim reported.

Shomrim also reported a case of graffiti being sprayed on a shop front in Haringey, although it is not clear whether the criminal damage was antisemitic in nature. The organization supports local policing work in general; on Wednesday a Shomrim patrol discovered a skimmer on a cash machine in Hackney, and reported it to the Metropolitan police, who removed the device.
Man with history of browsing antisemitic websites and convicted of downloading terrorist material has his appeal against sentence dismissed in Edinburgh
A man with a history of browsing antisemitic websites who pleaded guilty in 2019 of possessing materials “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” has had his appeal against his sentence dismissed.

David Dudgeon was sentenced to two years in prison by the Edinburgh Sheriff Court, which reduced the sentence by a year from a three-year starting point, due to his guilty plea.

Mr Dudgeon then appealed to the High Court of Justiciary Appeal Court for the sentence to be reduced on the basis that the three-year starting point was “excessive”. That appeal has now failed.

Mr Dudgeon, who reportedly has a history of mental health issues, was referred to police in March 2019, following which his home was raided. Over the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Mr Dudgeon had an extensive browsing history of extreme far-right websites on topics such as antisemitism, Holocaust denial, racism, conspiracy theores and serial killers, desribed by the court as “violent, sinister and disturbing”.

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis of Home Office statistics shows that an average of over three hate crimes are directed at Jews every single day in England and Wales, with Jews almost four times more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other faith group.
Australian Islamic Scholar: The Jews Exaggerate the Holocaust for Dirty Political Exploitation
On Friday, January 24, 2020, Ismail Al-Wahwah from the Australian chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir delivered a sermon at an unknown location in Australia. He said that he would like to discuss the commemoration of the “so-called” Jewish Holocaust, which he called a global issue that was “imposed by force” on the “hypocritical world,” but that he has no intention to discuss whether the Holocaust really happened or whether there were really as many victims as it is claimed there were. He said that the criminals who are occupying Palestine use the Holocaust for “dirty political exploitation” and in order justify and draw attention away from their own crimes. He further claimed that the Jews blow the Holocaust out of proportion and lie about it in order to milk the West and accomplish their goals. Furthermore, Al-Wahwah claimed that that the Holocaust and the accusation of antisemitism are used to silence anybody who talks about liberating Palestine or who exposes the crimes of Israel, which he referred to as an illegal and evil state. In addition, Al-Wahwah criticized world media and world leaders, including prominent Shiite and Sunni Muslim leaders, for “flocking” to Israel, Poland, and Germany to commemorate the Holocaust and its victims, and he said: “May Allah take [those Muslim leaders] to the Holocaust!” He bemoaned the fact that the Islamic nation is undergoing its own holocausts in Syria, Iraq, and China and that nobody is allowed to talk about the holocaust against Muslims without being accused of antisemitism for “underestimating” the Jewish holocaust. Al-Wahwah continued to say that it is certain that Islam will ultimately be victorious, that the Islamic nation will be united, that a Caliphate will be established, and that shari’a law will return. He said that Islam will conquer Rome just like the Prophet Muhammad had prophesied, that Palestine will be free, and that Moscow will also be conquered. The sermon was uploaded to HT-Media, a YouTube channel belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir. For more about Ismail Al-Wahwah, including additional clips and information about his imprisonment in Jordan by Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7893.

Israel, Italy Eye Joint Scientific Space Venture
A unique space launch will take place at the end of March this year, as part of a joint Israeli-Italian microgravity medical experimentation project.

The cooperation between the two countries in space mirrors the strengthening ties between Jerusalem and Rome down on earth. Less than two months ahead of the launch, Italian Space Agency Director Giorgio Saccoccia visited Israel last month as the guest of the 15th International Ilan Ramon Conference, which is part of the Israel Space Week organized by Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry.

The Israeli company SpacePharma and scientists from both countries are taking part in the project. SpacePharma is seen as a leader in microgravity experimentation, and has developed a miniature lab that can be launched on a nanosatellite.

Two of the experiments to be conducted as part of the project will be handled by the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, another will be overseen by the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, and yet another by Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

One of the experiments is based on the research of professor Giuseppe Falini of the University of Bologna and professor Boaz Pokroy from the Technion into the behavior in space of antibacterial materials and their influence on bacteria in zero-gravity conditions.
In Warsaw, elderly Poles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust have a free taxi servic
Outside one of this city’s many brutalist apartment buildings, passersby stop to stare at and photograph a London-style taxi emblazoned with large Star of David symbols.

Some seem puzzled by the out-of-place sight. Others look delighted to encounter something they’ve seen or heard about in the news: One of Warsaw’s four limousines that for the past year have been providing free transportation to dozens of senior citizens who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The project, called the Silent Hero Taxi Service, has changed the lives of many of these aging rescuers. They’re making daily use of an amenity that has become indispensable in a sprawling, congested city with relatively poor public transportation services.

Krystyna Kowalska, an 88-year-old widow who as a teenager helped her parents harbor and save a Jewish family of four, calls the cabs a “miracle.”

Before the taxis entered her life, she would take several buses to get from her small apartment in the residential area of Stary Mokotów to the cemetery where her son, mother, father and brother are buried.

“It would take half the day to get there,” said Kowalska, who was recognized in 1994 by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum as a Righteous Among the Nations, a title given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi genocide. As Kowalska’s health deteriorated — she is going blind and uses a walker to get around — she stopped visiting the cemetery.

Kowalska, an introverted and private person, said she had to ask others with relatives at the cemetery on the other side of the city to weed the graves of her loved ones. (h/t Zvi)
JP Morgan to step up investment in Israel
JP Morgan Herzliya tech center head Dr. Yoav Intrator tells "Globes" about the tech center's work, which includes data analysis, AI, blockchain, and fintech strategy.

I traveled by bus from Tel Aviv to Herzliya on my way to the tech center of US banking corporation JP Morgan & Chase. On the way, I thought about an article written by Dr. Yoav Intrator, managing director of the center, in which he explains how the global economy, which is now becoming "smarter and smarter," will be conducted autonomously in the future. "What will we have in Israel," I asked myself, "an autonomous bus with no driver, or an autonomous bank without bankers?"

"I think that in the coming decade, we'll see a lot of changes in these two sectors, vehicles and banking," says Intrator, when I ask him this question in his first Israeli media interview. "The processes of change will make rapid progress in every country. In many cases, the changes depend on a political decision, not on whether the technological capability exists. Installing autonomous vehicle technology requires the trust of both the state and the end users. In the auto sector, there are a lot of regulatory issues that must be solved, and decisions with fateful consequences for human life are involved, so the problem is more acute than it is in banking.

"If the state wants to switch to using a digital currency, it depends to a large extent on whether it is willing to deal in this matter with the many concerns still using fiat currency (a sovereign currency like the shekel or dollar). In many markets, there's a lot of non-transparency, and the state loses a lot of money as a result. Every country with a black market or markets that use cash is facing such a problem."
Australia Selects Israel's Spike LR2 Missile System
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has selected the Rafael Spike LR2 missile system as its new Long Range Direct Fire Support Weapon capability to target contemporary armored threats.

Chief of Army, Lt.-Gen. Rick Burr, said the missile "will enable our dismounted teams to engage armored targets faster, at increased range, and with improved accuracy."
Israeli Surveillance Drones in Trial to Monitor UK Waters
Israel's Elbit Systems has been selected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to conduct maritime demonstration flights in the UK using a number of its unmanned aerial surveillance systems.

Elbit says, "The Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol enables persistent monitoring of vast swathes of sea and long coastlines with effective advanced search capabilities to support with valuable search and rescue work as well as the identification of potential hazards."

"It features maritime radar, an Electro Optic payload, Satellite Communication, an Automatic Identification System receiver and an Emergency Position-indicating Radio Beacon receiver."
Israel-Founded Cybersecurity Firm ForeScout to Be Acquired for $1.9 Billion
Israel-founded, San Jose-based ForeScout Technologies, Inc., a cybersecurity company, said Thursday that it had been acquired for $1.9 billion by U.S. private equity firm Advent International.

With R&D in Tel Aviv and other countries, ForeScout has become a world leader in network access control.

It also offers enterprises and government organizations the ability to view devices when they connect to the network.

The company was founded in June 2000 in Israel and counts 3,400 customers in 85 countries.
Sports tech trains athletes to avoid overuse injuries
Musculoskeletal injuries in professional sports can cost a small fortune. For an NBA player who earns on average $5 million a year, his team loses $60,000 for every game the player misses.

Among amateur athletes, some 3.5 million kids in the United States alone are injured every year playing sports, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The most common kinds of musculoskeletal issues are overuse injuries. That’s where an individual does the same action repetitively, whether it’s shooting a basketball or sprinting toward the goal line.

“It creates a sort of micro-trauma on the body,” explains Ram Shalev, CEO of Physimax.

Since 2013, this Israeli startup has been using video capture and artificial intelligence to assess athletes’ physical abilities and endurance in real time. Israel’s Start-Up Nation cycling team is considering testing the system ahead of its participation in this June’s Tour de France.

Identify risk factors, improve abilities
Here’s how Physimax works: Standing in front of a smartphone or tablet camera connected to a laptop running Physimax’s software, the player does a series of actions such as squats and jumps. The technology measures movement and musculoskeletal function to identify risk factors and improve athletic abilities.
Israeli researchers grow new date plants from 2,000-year-old seeds
Israeli researchers revealed Wednesday that they successfully grew extinct date plants from ancient seeds found at archaeological sites in the Judean Desert.

Dozens of seeds were gleaned from archaeology collections gathered at locations in the dry Dead Sea area, including the Masada hilltop fortress built by King Herod the Great in the first century BCE and the ancient site of Qumran, famous for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s.

Six saplings grew from 32 seeds sown and the plants have been dubbed Adam, Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith, and Hannah.

“Germination of 2000-year-old seeds of Phoenix dactylifera from Judean desert archaeological sites provides a unique opportunity to study the Judean date palm, described in antiquity for the quality, size, and medicinal properties of its fruit, but lost for centuries,” the researchers wrote in a paper published in the peer-reviewed Science Advances journal.

“The Kingdom of Judah (Judea) that arose in the southern part of the historic Land of Israel in the 11th century BCE was particularly renowned for the quality and quantity of its dates,” the researchers noted. “These so-called ‘Judean dates’ grown in plantations around Jericho and the Dead Sea were recognized by classical writers for their large size, sweet taste, extended storage, and medicinal properties.”

Radiocarbon dating revealed the seeds used for the project came from a period spanning the fourth century BCE to the second century CE.

Further analysis found the seeds had a genetic makeup from various locations spreading eastward across the region stretching into modern day Iraq.
How Do You Say ‘Quidditch’ in Yiddish?
There are no Yiddish words in the original English edition of Harry Potter, although Rowling herself did absorb a number of Yiddishisms from Arthur Levine, her publisher and editor at Scholastic for the entire series. There is even an apocryphal story about how Levine once ribbed Rowling that one of the books was getting so long that he was going to drop in a Yiddish word just to see if she’d notice it. “I don’t remember that,” Levine laughed, when I inquired as to whether this actually happened. “That doesn’t mean it’s not true. She and I had lots of jokes like that. A totally credible story, I just can’t honestly tell you that I remember doing that.”

It was left entirely to Viswanath, then, to render Rowling’s magical lexicon into Yiddish. In doing so, he confronted some challenges faced by past translators, and others that were unique to this particular language.

One common question: What to do about names? Throughout the novels, Rowling either gives her characters traditional British monikers like Cornelius or Hermione—which have no equivalent in many foreign languages—or she chooses names that connote something about the character in question. Thus, the wizard Sirius Black is later revealed to possess the ability to transform into a black dog, as foreshadowed by his name’s reference to Sirius, the Dog Star.

As he examined prior foreign editions, Viswanath discovered that different translators had taken dramatically different approaches. “French went totally out there,” he said. “They renamed [Severus] Snape to ‘Rogue.’ In Italian they renamed him ‘Sinistro.’ French even changed the name of Hogwarts” to Poudlard, which means “bacon lice.” In his own work, Viswanath didn’t find such radical revisions necessary for the most part, because “Yiddish is a Germanic language, so the English sounds are not that foreign.” Thus, Harry’s classmate Neville Longbottom remained Longbottom, rather than “longtuchus.”

In some cases, however, it was necessary to rename characters to preserve Rowling’s intent, which is how Quidditch captain Oliver Wood became Oliver Holtz. In the novel, Harry is introduced to Wood by professor Minerva McGonagall after he demonstrates remarkable skill chasing another student in midair on a broomstick. Thinking he is about to be disciplined for breaking the rules, he misinterprets her meaning when she asks another teacher if she can “borrow Wood for a moment,” wondering “was wood a cane she was going to use on him?” Needless to say, this wordplay would not work unless Wood’s name referred to wood—or holtz—in Yiddish, and so Viswanath rebranded the character, even though he’d found that many “other languages don’t try to do it,” leaving readers somewhat confused.

Perhaps the most notable naming conundrum for translators actually appears in the second book of the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which Viswanath has just begun to translate. In a climactic scene, the ghostly apparition of a former Hogwarts student named Tom Riddle reveals that he is actually the young Lord Voldemort, the main villain of the books. By way of demonstration, he rearranges the letters of his name “Tom Marvolo Riddle” to spell out “I am Lord Voldemort.” (h/t Yerushalimey)
Poland Is Becoming a Global Capital of Chutzpah
In Poland, on the former site of the Great Synagogue of Warsaw—the largest house of worship for what was, until World War II, the largest Jewish population in the world—there now rises a tall azure skyscraper. Known simply as Blekitny Wiezowiec (“Blue Skyscraper”), the building with its all-glass facade has lately served as a kind of screen for a unique public art project. Twice in the last two years, most recently in April 2019, the artist Gabi von Seltmann has projected an image of the synagogue, long ago destroyed by the Nazis, onto the contemporary skyscraper: a grayish translucent ghost, hovering all night over the Warsaw streetscape.

Von Seltmann is one of a small number of artists and designers, both Jewish and not, who currently live in Poland and are actively engaged with the legacy of the Holocaust and the lost world of Polish Jewry. “It’s a topic I always try to address,” said von Seltmann, who has collaborated on similarly themed film projects with her German-born husband. Growing up outside Krakow, Poland, von Seltmann said there was a “silence” surrounding anything to do with her community’s missing Jews. For her, and for other like-minded artists in Poland, uncovering the country’s hidden Jewish heritage is a crucial act of remembrance, an effort to “bring back the past,” as von Seltmann puts it.

That kind of artistic time-traveling seems especially relevant in today’s Poland. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps, the largest of which (Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and Belzec, if reckoning by numbers killed) were all located on Polish soil. At the same time, under the leadership of the populist right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, the Polish national government has passed restrictive legislation that threatens serious penalties for anyone, artist or otherwise, who suggests Polish complicity in the slaughter. Roundly condemned by the international media, the 2018 Act on the Institute of National Remembrance continues to be zealously executed, albeit with mixed success. This past November, the government finally dropped a case against the esteemed U.S.-based academic Jan Tomasz Gross, who was threatened with jail time for purportedly “insulting the Polish nation” after documenting violence against Jews perpetrated by Poles.

“There is a space for Jewish art now,” Czernek said; the country’s politics, she added, “don’t feel connected with our practice,” at least not in a way that inhibits their creativity or their sales.

How to make art in such a repressive environment? Yael Wisnicki Levi is one artist whose multipronged practice confronts the problem of Jewish identity in modern-day Poland. “I’m in a privileged position,” she said—born in New York, educated in Israel, she was able to claim Polish citizenship thanks to her family’s roots in the country, from which her grandfather escaped just prior to the Holocaust. Since emigrating, Levi has staged assorted exhibitions and performance pieces with various international collaborators; one of them, a 2015 theatre work called Six Verbs Movement, was an abstract exploration of collective memory and civic action as part of a six-day festival in the heartland town of Lublin. As something of a novelty for Polish audiences, Levi said that she feels at times “like a kind of Jewish ornament”; yet while she is alarmed by what she calls PiS’s “whitewashing” of Polish history, Levi described Poland as “a really comfortable place” for an artist of her stripe. “That the government is nationalist, right-wing—everyone knows this,” she said. “But in fact it’s much harder to be a woman than a Jew.” (h/t Zvi)
How do you explain Israeli chutzpah?
Is it rude or is it just Israelis’ way of challenging themselves and the world? Click here for an insider view of that famously untranslatable and essential Hebrew word, chutzpah.

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


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