Monday, March 16, 2020

From Ian:

Daphne Anson: Zara's Zionism
Here's are excerpts from an article entitled "My Journey Through Antisemitism to Supporting Israel" by Zara Shaen Albright, a Muslim-born British lady of Pakistani heritage who converted to her husband's Catholicism.

From a position fot antisemitism and hostility to the Jewish State she came to realise, thanks to an open-minded mother who encouraged her curiosity about the Shoah and matters Jewish, that her previous stance was unjustified.
'For as long as I can remember, I grew up hearing some form of antisemitism. From hearing the casual “let’s go shoot some Jews” to being advised not to be open about my support in Eurovision for Israel, to being told that the holocaust was “Allah’s way of showing the Jews what would happen if Israel was formed”, to being told that I “look like a Jew with a big nose” as an insult, it became so normal to hear such sentiments, that they essentially became background noise....'

A visit to Israel proved seminal.
'Luckily, I ... was able to visit both Israel and Palestinian territories.... I able to see many holy sites that hold a lot of significance for me as an ex-Muslim-turned-Catholic-convert ... I was also able to explore the beauty of Israel’s culture, to hearing from Israeli settlers ... to seeing the Kibbutz where cute Winnie-the-Poo murals were painted on and inside bomb shelters so the children would not be afraid, to seeing the celebration of martyrdom in the refugee camps, and the expectations that awaited the little boys when they grew up, I changed from being neutral to being a Zionist, which, as it turns out, is the mere belief that Jewish people should be able to have a homeland....'

Regarding Muslim hostility to Israel Zara writes:
'Remember that Islam once had its own empire, and the existence of Israel is a reminder of the felt pain and anguish over such a great empire now only being a memory.

The true nature of the BDS movement
BDS focuses on the “settlements.” By this term, BDS supporters refer to Judea and Samaria Jewish towns, which they blame for the lack of “peace.” However, there was no peace before these “settlements” existed.

Why are Jews not to be allowed to live in Judea and Samaria? Jewish settlements in this area were based on virgin lands where no previous Arab homesteading took place. The idea that as Jews multiply, Palestinian Arabs “lose” more land is absurd. The truth is that there should not be any problem with Jewish towns, irrespective of where the Palestinian Arab state could in theory exist, in the same way there is no problem with Arab towns in Israel proper.

“Settlements” are not the cause of the lack of peace. Instead, this is due to the rejection of any Jewish presence at all in the area. BDS supporters do not care that Palestinian Arabs are second-class citizens in many Arab countries. For example, Kuwait expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs after the First Gulf War. Many Palestinian Arabs are now living under the brutal Islamist dictatorship by the Hamas in Gaza, or under the tyranny of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, whose “democratic” term ended a decade ago. Why is BDS not protesting these injustices against Palestinians?

Do Jews have a right to live, build and create on un-homesteaded land? Yes, because they are human beings, and as such they are entitled to homestead any virgin resource. The fact that they chose Israel is due to the millennia-old connection between Jews and Judea.

According to UNESCO, the Temple Mount is actually Al-Haram Al-Sharif. Jerusalem is now Al-Quds, and the Western Wall is Al-Buraq Wall. This nomenclature constitutes a systematic attempt to erase the connection between Jewish history and the Jewish holy of holies. It would be offensive if it was not so transparently inane, even in terms of denying Christian history, and by extension that of the Muslim.

BDS supporters may very well stop buying Israeli products if they want to, and are free to persuade others to do so. However, they cannot legitimately lobby governments to use force against their own citizens who wish to trade with Israelis on a voluntary and mutually beneficial basis.

BDS is not primarily a pro-Palestinian movement, but an anti-Jewish one. Denying one group, and one group only, the right to homestead land is unjust.
‘Missing a Tablespoon of Blood’: Quincy Institute Scholar Laments Lack of Violence Amid Corona Outbreak in Israel
The managing director for research and policy of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft appeared to celebrate the draconian measures employed by the Israeli government to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Then she argued that whatever discomforts they impose on Israeli citizens, they are not enough to compensate for the suffering Israel has inflicted on its Palestinian neighbors.

"Such a tiny taste. Missing a tablespoon of blood," Sarah Leah Whitson wrote in a now-deleted tweet.

Whitson was responding to a tweet from the Israeli-American journalist Mairav Zonszein, who wrote, "6 million Jewish Israelis will now get a taste of what around the same number of Palestinians living under occupation have experienced for over half a century." Zonszein was referring to the tactics now being embraced by the Israeli government to reduce transmission of the coronavirus, including antiterrorism measures like cell phone tracking of infected individuals.

Neither Whitson nor the Quincy Institute replied to a request for comment. The Israeli government took drastic action over the weekend, including the closings of restaurants, bars, and gyms. Whitson appeared to be expressing frustration that the measures would not offset the violence perpetrated by the Israeli government on the Palestinians.

"It is stunningly revolting," said Deborah Lipstadt, a scholar of modern Judaism and anti-Semitism at Emory University and the author of a modern history of anti-Semitism.

After facing a flood of criticism on Twitter—as well as inquiries from the Washington Free Beacon—Whitson deleted her tweet and posted a follow up arguing that her previous tweet "didn't come out right" and that she had deleted it "to prevent misinterpretation." She made no reference to the possibility that she had hurt or offended Jews.




Joe Biden: Israel's Fake 'Friend'
Joe Biden has made a habit of describing himself as a loyal, stalwart friend and ally of Israel. At a campaign stop earlier this month, for instance, he declared: “I’m so proud of the Obama-Biden administration’s unprecedented support for Israel’s security.” But a careful examination of Biden's track record reveals his long and extremely troubling history of undermining Israel's security and public image. Some lowlights:

1982: Biden's Angry Exchange with Menachem Begin

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on June 22, 1982, an animated Senator Biden, banging the desk in front of him with his fist, warned then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin that if Israel did not stop establishing new Jewish settlements in the West Bank,[1] U.S. aid to that country might be cut off.

Begin responded forcefully:
Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.

And with regard to Biden's theatrical furniture-banging, Begin said:
This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don’t threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the U.S. lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us.
Clyburn Compares Trump to Hitler, Warns U.S. ‘Could Very Well Go the Way of Germany in the 1930s’
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the top black politician in America, constantly compared President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler during Axios on HBO.

He also warned that the U.S. “could very well go the way of Germany in the 1930s.”

Axios CEO and founder Jim VandeHei could not hide the look on his face towards the end of the video. He tried to save Clyburn by reminding him that he is comparing Trump to Hitler.

Clyburn said he simply compared “the dynamic,” but it does not take a genius to read between the lines.

Clyburn called Trump a racist who has hired white supremacists to work in the White House. He refused to name them, though.

Clyburn then said he often wondered “how could the people of Germany allow Hitler to exist.” The way the Republicans join together around Trump makes him “understand how,” which is why he is “trying to sound the alarm.”


Noah Rothman: Believe Bernie
“Bernie’s notion about how he embraces folks like the Sandinistas, and Cuba, and the former Soviet Union, and he talks about the good things they did in China, is absolutely contrary to every message we want to send to the rest of the world,” Joe Biden claimed during Sunday night’s debate. To this, Bernie Sanders had an equally forceful response. “I have led the charge against all forms of authoritarianism,” he replied, “including America’s so-called allies.”

But the issue was not the standards Sanders aggressively and consistently applies to America’s geopolitical allies but those he relaxes for its adversaries. His failure to address that consistent pattern of behavior in this moment and throughout the debate revealed a fact that Sanders himself does not disguise. Bernie Sanders has spent his career telling you that he is a socialist. Believe him.

Before he became a national political figure, Sanders did not shy away from assuming the mantle “socialist,” unmodified by any banal adjectives. In the early 1960s, Sanders volunteered on an Israeli kibbutz—a fact of which he’s quite proud and frequently discusses. But after he became a federal politician, Sanders declined to elaborate on that communal farm’s location or its political affinities. “Surprise,” read the New York Times headline when they solved the kibbutz mystery in 2016: “It’s socialist.” And hardly the “democratic” sort.

In 1990, Sanders told the Israeli journalist Yossi Melman that, when he worked on an Israeli Kibbutz, he was “a guest of the leftist Zionist Hashomer Hatzair movement.” That movement, and the pro-Soviet Mapam Party with which it was affiliated, was explicitly socialist. That Kibbutz, Sha’ar Ha’amakim, was co-founded by Aharon Cohen, who was convicted of spying for the Soviets in the late 1950s (though he was later pardoned when the statute he violated was relaxed). “By the time Sanders arrived at Sha’ar Ha’amakim, in 1963, the kibbutz had cooled greatly on Stalin but was still a socialist heaven,” the Forward’s Nathan Guttman observed.

As a student with the University of Chicago, Sanders affiliated himself with the Young People’s Socialist League, an arm of the Socialist Party USA. In 1970, he co-founded the Liberty Union Party—a radical group that called for dramatic federal intervention in the private sector. During his 1976 campaign for statewide office, Sanders argued in favor of seizing utility providers “without compensation to the banks and wealthy stockholders who own the vast majority of stock in these companies.”

Sanders was a seasoned political operative when he joined the Socialist Workers Party at the age of 38. He has since downplayed his association with this organization, but Sanders was no passive participant in socialist politics. In 1980, Sanders “proudly” served as presidential elector for Andrew Pulley, a SWP presidential candidate who advocated nationalizing “virtually all private industry” and who had said that American soldiers should “take up their guns and shoot their officers.”
ViacomCBS Cancels Event With Linda Sarsour as Part of Women’s History Month
ViacomCBS canceled an event last week featuring former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour, who is known for her support of the anti-Israel BDS movement and has been accused of spreading antisemitism.

The Women’s History Month event on Wednesday was specifically going to be hosted by the multinational media conglomerate’s Office of Global Inclusion, a source familiar with the situation told JNS, which first reported on the scheduled event.

ViacomCBS spokesperson Justin Dini told JNS, “This event was cancelled well in advance of Wednesday.”

Dini did not respond to a request for comment as to exactly when and why the event was cancelled.

Viacom’s Women’s Employee Affinity Group posted on Facebook on March 5, “Join us 3/11 at 4:30 pm EST for a conversation with author and co-organizer of the Women’s March, Linda Sarsour! Check your inbox for RSVP details.”

“Maybe [Sarsour] was too busy being a surrogate for the [Vermont Sen. Bernie] Sanders [Democratic presidential] campaign to show up, but the fact remains that the folks at ViacomCBS thought that a woman who lauded an antisemite like Louis Farrakhan is a symbol of ‘inclusion,’ ” Dexter Van Zile, a researcher at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), told JNS.

Nonetheless, “they canceled, and they deserve some credit for that,” he said.


Antisemitism and the Labour Party
Antisemitism and the Labour Party is an anthology of reissued articles and essays which sets out to provide a ‘sober examination of the strange events that have warped British politics since 2015.’ Most of the pieces were originally published online between 2017 and 2019, although one, an article by Richard Kuper on the University and College Union, dates back to 2011. Also included are 21 testimonies by members of the Labour Party. The collection offers an instructive sampler of a whole battery of arguments and rhetorical moves – some of them mutually contradictory – which have been used to counter or dismiss allegations of antisemitism on the left.

The editor, Jamie Stern-Weiner, sets the tone for the anthology in his lurid and tendentious introduction. Not content with asserting that the allegations against Corbyn’s Labour have ‘no basis in fact’ and are prompted by transparently partisan motives, he conjures up a picture of the crisis as something monstrous and sinister – ‘Like a creature from a horror film, the “Labour antisemitism” controversy just won’t die’ – before aligning it with both the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism.

One of the problems with Antisemitism and the Labour Party is a tendency to cherry pick its examples, avoiding the most challenging allegations. Before I began to read this collection I made a brief note of some of the key episodes which had led to such a lack of confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to identify and tackle the problem of antisemitism. I included some which were more amenable to softening or mitigation – and some which it was more difficult to excuse or explain. Two of the most egregious were Corbyn’s associations with Raed Salah and with Paul Eisen’s group Deir Yassin Remembered. Not a single mention of either of these was included in any of the collection’s 20 essays.

The impact of such omissions on the reader is highly significant. In ‘Corbyn Under Fire’, Daniel Finn notes that the Labour Party ‘is said to have become a party “for the many, not the Jew”, with a leader who winks approvingly at bullies and bigots’. The reader who doesn’t know the full picture will share Finn’s own implied ridicule and incredulity at a position which seems at best paranoid, at worst knowingly malign. However other readers may well think this thumbnail sketch – presented as comically absurd by Finn – not too far from the truth.




Haaretz Corrects Israel Didn’t Deny Entry to Gazans Whose Daughter Died From Cancer
CAMERA’s Israel office today prompted correction of Gideon Levy’s March 6 Haaretz article which falsely claimed that the parents of a young cancer patient from from the Gaza Strip were denied permission to travel to the West Bank hospital to be by the side of their dying daughter.

The headline in the English edition had falsely stated: “Gazan Girl Fighting Cancer Died After Israel Denied Her Parents’ Visit.” The subheadline reiterated the falsely claim that Israel denied Miral Abu Ambsha’s parents permission cross through Israel from the Gaza Strip to reach their dying daughter in a Nablus hospital: “Miral, the 10-year-old Gazan cancer patient whose parents weren’t allowed to be with her in a Nablus hospital, died last weekend. . . “

The text of the article itself buried the information that, in fact, the mother was granted permission to travel to her daughter in the Nablus hospital, and repeated the false implication that Israel rejected her husband’s application to enter:
After the [earlier Haaretz] article appeared, her mother was allowed to replace her grandmother, but Miral never saw her father again. He remained in Gaza, unable to be by his dying daughter’s side.

In a message sent to CAMERA,Israel’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) confirmed that Miral’s mother was granted permission to travel to Miral, and also noted that, contrary to Haaretz‘s claim that the father was denied permission, as he never applied for the travel permit. COGAT wrote:
First, we must emphasize that in contrast to what the article claims, Ayman Abu Amsha, Miral’s father, did not submit any request to depart together with his daughter.

We point out that Miral’s mother did receive approval to accompany her daughter, once the erroneous items of information included in her request were corrected.
AFP Reports Disputed Claim About IDF’s Use of Live Fire as Fact
March 16 UPDATE:
AFP Removes Questionable Claim About Live Fire

In response to communication from CAMERA, AFP yesterday removed the disputed claim that the Israeli army fired live ammunition during the March 11 clash in Nablus. See below for a detailed update.

Multiple AFP captions last week stated as fact that the Israeli army fired live ammunition during a March 11 clash in Nablus, despite the fact that Palestinian witnesses and the Israeli military agree that only rubber bullets and tear gas were used.
The captions claim: "Clashes broke out from early morning, with Israeli forces firing tear gas, live ammunition and rubber bullets to break up the demonstration."
Yet, according to the Associated Press ("Palestinians: 15-year-old killed in clash with Israeli army," March 11):
Palestinian witnesses said the Israeli military arrived to disperse the protest, and the protesters began hurling stones at the soldiers. The witnesses said the Israeli forces responded with tear gas and rubber coated bullets.

In addition to the Palestinian witnesses, the Israeli military has also said that that it used only rubber bullets, and not live fire. IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus told CAMERA that the army used only rubber bullets.


Independent Arabia Claim ‘Hebrew Is a Branch of Arabic’ Mirrors Broader Anti-Zionist Narrative
After having presented a detailed translation of Independent Arabia’s article (“Between Hebrew and Arabic — Roots and Similarities, but…,” December 20) in our first post, in this second part we share with readers our personal, wider perspective of contemporary Arab-nationalist propaganda, using the article as an example of the genre.

The article’s view of Hebrew’s revival as a microcosm of the entire Zionist project leads to grim conclusions regarding the problematic way the author of the article, ‘Izz ad-Deen Abu-‘Eisheh, as well as his interviewees, perceive their respective fields — journalism and scholarship — inside Arab societies.

The Independent newspaper is hence complicit in the perpetuation of their unprofessional conduct via its subsidiary, Independent Arabia.

The article’s view of Zionism is a part of a long Arab-nationalist tradition

In order to draw the connection between Abu-‘Eisheh’s portrayal of modern Hebrew and the contemporary Arab-nationalist narrative purporting to explain modern Jewish history (and especially Zionism), we’d like to evoke a certain figure that is often recited in this context (either correctly or incorrectly) by Arab and Palestinian nationalists themselves.

That figure is Egyptian Abdel-Wahab el-Messiri (1938-2008), a researcher of English literature who published his eight-volume Encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism and Zionism between 1975 and 1999. Although he and his encyclopedia are quite unknown to most English readers, in the Arabic speaking-world, they are considered rather influential, so much so that an episode of Al-Jazeera’s latest literature magazine, Outside the Text, was dedicated to them just last October (it was subtly entitled “Don’t let them deceive you — How to distinguish between Judaism and Zionism”).

El-Messiri was one of the first and most prominent Arab thinkers who opposed Zionism and the State of Israel, while making a conscious effort not to engage in overt antisemitism, including Holocaust denial — although, admittedly, his success at this task was at best weak.

To put it in Al-Jazeera’s words, “some still blame him for exonerating the Jews of Zionism and of many crimes that are historically attributed to them.”
BBC Arabic downplays Egyptian antisemitism
In this profile of two young Australian Jews 'returning' to Egypt for the re-opening of the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in Alexandria, BBC Arabic seems to have taken on the role of promoting Egypt's tourism industry. In a trend noted here and here, it misleads on the ethnic cleansing of Jews whose numbers have reduced from 80 -100,000 to fewer than 10, and vaguely blames 'wars and politics'. In fact, Egyptian Jews were victims of state-sanctioned antisemitism. (With thanks: Tarek)

Egypt is now witnessing what may appear in the eyes of some to a change in the nature of the relationship between the Jews and Egypt, in which tens of thousands of them lived in the first half of the twentieth century before politics and wars interfered and spoiled their lives.

Alex and Jack March, following in the footsteps of their grandfather

This change prompted the numbers of Egyptian Jews who left nearly 70 years ago and their families to return - albeit at least to visit - the motherland.

Among them are descendants of Egyptian Jews visiting Egypt for the first time. The two Australian brothers, Alex and Jack, went to Egypt for the first time early this year to visit the home of their Egyptian Jewish grandfather, Nissim March, whose family left the country and left after the flare-up of the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948 and none of them ever returned since then.

The March brothers say that they have long heard about Egypt and about Alexandria, in which their grandfather founded a house whose name is still engraved on it until now. Therefore, the visit was postponed until the opening of the "Eliyahu Hanabi" temple on Prophet Daniel Street in central Alexandria after the restoration.
Indy op-ed errs on Israeli women’s political representation
A March 14th Independent op-ed by the leader of the Israeli women’s party, Kol Hanashim (Voices of Women), titled “The sad lesson I learned when I ran for Israeli parliament”, included the following claim, in the context of lamenting her party’s failure to gain any Knesset seats in the recent election.

We thought we could capitalize on discontent with the system and channel a message of new leadership. After all, the number of women parliamentarians is decreasing, the sole female prime minister was elected in 1969, and not a single woman participated in any of the failed coalition negotiations.

Her claim that “the number of women parliamentarians is decreasing” is not true.

The March 2nd elections actually saw a record number of women (30) winning seats to the Knesset. This represents 25% of the total seats, which is actually a higher percentage of female legislators than in the US and in several EU member states. Moreover, there has been a steady and nearly uninterrupted increase in the number of female MK’s since the 1970s.

Additionally, the writer complains that Israel’s “sole female prime minister [Gold Meir] was elected in 1969”. Yet, through 2018, more than 100 countries had never had a woman at the top job. They include Spain, Japan, The Netherlands, Belgium, and the US. In fact, in 1969, the year Meir became prime minister, she was one of only two female leaders in the world.
BBC Radio 4 breaches editorial guidelines concerning contributors’ affiliations
In the first episode listeners heard from a variety of contributors who were introduced using their full name and with details of their professional background or relevance to the topic provided in all cases – except one.

02:14 Atwal: “But it’s never just the epic heft of history that is problematic in the telling of a national story for the classroom. Here’s Aviv [phonetic] remembering the Israeli story he was taught.”

Aviv: “Hardly any discussion; either reading from the book or just talking about what was written in the chapters in the book. The history of the State of Israel is a project and it’s bound up in the project of the creation of the myth of Israel. So the whole Palestinian narrative did not exist. History was a justifier and it was not taught in a way that had multiple sides. It was taught as a truth.” [emphasis in italics in the original]


So who is Aviv? What are his expertise, affiliations and “particular viewpoints”? And – beyond the fact that his statements obviously fit in nicely with Priya Atwal’s agenda – how accurate and representative is his subjective account?

Radio 4 listeners will never know because once again the BBC chose to ignore the very editorial guidelines which are meant to ensure that the corporation provides “impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them”.

They did, however, hear unquestioned amplification of the notion of “the project of the creation of the myth of Israel”.
Suspected neo-Nazi charged with terrorism in Australia
Australian police charged a man with alleged neo-Nazi interests on terrorism offenses, officials said Monday, just weeks after the country’s top spy warned of the growing danger of far-right militants in the country.

The 21-year-old man from a town south of Sydney was arrested Saturday for allegedly planning terrorist acts, including by trying to purchase online weapons and materials to make bombs.

He was due to appear in court later Monday and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the charges, police said.

Several other people were being questioned in connection to the case, but have not been charged.

“What we know is this person had anti-government sentiment, he was anti-Semitic, he has Neo-Nazi interests and he has anti-Indigenous interests,” said Mark Walton, head of the New South Wales police counter-terrorism force.

“Unfortunately, he has evolved with an ideology that really is one of hate against a lot of different groups,” he told reporters.
Argentine soccer player fired over anti-Semitic gesture
The Argentine soccer player who made an anti-Semitic gesture after being ejected by a referee from a game against a team with many Jewish supporters was let go by his team on Friday.

New Chicago midfielder Arnaldo “Pitu” González on March 8 put his hand on his head, imitating a yarmulke, and pointed to his genitals in front of the fans of the Atlanta team.

Founded in 1904 in the Villa Crespo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Atlanta has historically received support from Jewish fans in that area and featured several Jewish players and administrators.

González had previously been ordered by the Argentine soccer association to miss the last matches of the season.

He apologized after the incident in a video posted on New Chicago’s Twitter account, saying he was “very ashamed.”

The league’s ruling in its disciplinary case involving González expressed “concern” about the infiltration of racist elements in soccer, and specifically its negative effect on teenagers.

González had also violated an Argentine law which prohibits actions carried out based on ideas or theories of superiority of a race, or a group of people of a certain religion, or origin.
Oxfam Stops Selling Antisemitic Books After Being Called Out by Israel’s UK Ambassador
Oxfam — a confederation of 19 independent charitable organizations that focuses on the alleviation of global poverty — removed antisemitic books from sale on its website after an Israeli diplomat drew attention to the matter on Friday, The Telegraph reported.

Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev tweeted a screenshot of the Oxfam website with the caption, “Why is @OxfamGB selling antisemitic literature?”

The image showed books available for sale including the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has described as “a classic in paranoid, racist literature.”

The post garnered hundreds of retweets and likes, and sparked outrage among Twitter users, including from the Sussex Friends of Israel group, which tweeted, “We can tell by the price of one of the items (£100) that someone researched and identified the product. How the hell did it end up on their website? Did no one stop to question the content or did they just not care?”
Portugal declares official commemoration day for inquisition of Jews
The Portuguese parliament has approved the passage of a law to officially commemorate the inquisition of Jews in the country on March 31 every year.

The law, passed earlier this month, received broad support from across the political spectrum.

The date March 31 was chosen as the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Inquisition because it was on that day in 1821 that the Inquisition in Portugal was officially disbanded.

The expulsion of Jews from Portugal in 1497, subsequent massacres of the the Jews there, and the Portuguese inquisition which began in 1536, brought Jewish life in the country to a catastrophic end, with tens of thousands of Jews fleeing the country.

Some Jews, despite being forcibly converted to Christianity, preserved their Jewish practices and traditions in secret throughout the intervening centuries.

The Portuguese expulsion and inquisition followed similar events in Spain which began with the inquisition there in 1478 and the subsequent expulsion in 1492 in which tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Jews fled Spain.

Reconectar, an organization which seeks to reconnect the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities with the Jewish world, welcomed the passage of the law.
Sudan authorizes direct flights to Israel over its territory
LATAM, Latin America's largest airline group, will be able to fly over Sudan in its direct flights between South America and Israel, after Egypt's southern neighbor authorized direct flights to Israel over its territory for the first time.

The move by Sudan comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in February and announced that they would take steps toward normalization.

Kharthoum's authorization to use the country's airspace is expected to significantly shorten flights between Israel and Latin America. Flights to or from Brazil, for example, will be two hours shorter.

The airline normally operates direct flights from Tel Aviv to Sao Paulo in Brazil and Santiago de Chile three times a week, but its operations have been scaled back due to the spread of the coronavirus.

LATAM announced on Thursday that it will cut international flights by up to 30% in light of the outbreak.
Israeli Musicians to Perform via Streaming for Those Stuck at Home
Some of Israel’s finest musicians have performances that will be coming soon – to your living room.

Following the past week of government regulations limiting gatherings due to concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus – culminating in the announcement Saturday night that all cultural events would be canceled until further notice – some Israeli musicians will be performing for the millions stuck at home via streaming on various outlets.

The missile barrages last November that drove residents of the south into shelters were a good dress rehearsal for the current health crisis. In that case, musicians went to the shelters and played for small audiences. But this time, even small numbers of spectators are not permitted so the musicians are performing in empty auditoriums.

Zappa and the Keshet group broadcast a show by Idan Raichel on Saturday night, live on Channel 12 and the N12 website, which is just the beginning of its corona crisis programming.

In their “The Show Must Go On” series, Zappa and Keshet, partnering with a number of corporate sponsors, will be hosting dozens of Israel’s top musicians on Zappa social media channels, Channel 12, Mako and N12. The diverse group of performers includes Harel Skaat, Eviatar Banai, Amir Dadon, Maor Cohen, Asaf Amdursky, Dudu Aharon, Danny Robas, Knessiat Hasechel, Netta Barzilai, Marina Maximillian, Monica Sex, Natan Goshen, Idan Habib, Miki Gavrielov, Elai Botner, Amir Benyun, Kobi Aflalo, Karolina, Keren Peles, Rami Kleinstein, Shuli Rand, the Shalva Band and Shimon Buskila.

Golan Einat, owner of the Zappa Group, said: “In these difficult days, it is a great privilege for us to try to bring Zappa’s live performances directly into the homes of hundreds of thousands of people in Israel.”
Quarantine Reading
Like many people, I’ve sometimes fantasized about being shut up at home with nothing to do but read. Of course, now that the COVID-19 outbreak is threatening to make that a reality for many Americans—as it already has for millions of people from China to Italy—it doesn’t seem quite as romantic a prospect. If days or weeks of quarantine are in our future, I’m sure I’ll be tempted to spend the whole time refreshing Twitter.

Even in good times, it’s easy to get addicted to the ephemeral. In Swann’s Way, the first volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, Charles Swann, the novel’s Jewish man about town, remarks that it would be a good thing if the books we seldom take down from the shelf were filled with the news of the day, while the newspapers we tear open each morning (or did, in the 1890s) devoted their columns to classic works like Pascal’s Pensées. “The fault I find with our journalism is that it forces us to take an interest in some fresh triviality or other every day, whereas only three or four books in a lifetime give us anything that is of real importance,” Swann observes.

For me, In Search of Lost Time is one of those books. People often say that they want to read Proust but don’t have the time; I hope no one is going to be shut in long enough to get through the whole thing, but Swann’s Way by itself would be a good quarantine read. It’s a relatively self-contained story about Swann’s unhappy love affair with Odette, a courtesan who inspires a jealous obsession even though, as he muses late in the book, she’s not really even his type. And the book’s long “overture” section, which introduces us to Proust’s fascinatingly self-obsessed narrator, includes some of the work’s most famous images—such as the madeleine dunked in tea that unlocks the narrator’s buried memories.

On Twitter (see?), a few readers have suggested that the book to read now is the 2014 novel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, set in a post-apocalyptic world in which 95% of humanity has been wiped out by an airborne virus, the Georgia Flu. In flashbacks to the last days of the pre-plague world, Mandel powerfully captures the eerie way that epidemics creep up on us—how they are negligible news items until they become the only thing that matters.
Fearing the end is nigh, man returns stolen 2,000-year-old artifact to park
Fearing the end of the world, an Israeli returned a 2,000-year-old catapult bolt to the City of David National Park — 15 years after he’d absconded with it. “The time has come to clear my conscience. It feels that the end of the world is near,” the anonymous citizen said in an Israel Antiquities Authority press release on Monday.

While the jury’s still out on whether the world is ending — due to the current coronavirus pandemic or any of the other pressing existential threats — the IAA took advantage of the opportunity to call on citizens to return archaeological finds to the State Treasury, so that the entire public can benefit from them, it said.

The citizen did not deliver the bowling-ball sized stone directly. Rather, he used as a go-between a man called Moshe Manies, who agreed not to divulge the thief’s identity. According to Manies, the original theft occurred when two mischievous youths touring the park 15 years ago saw a display of ballista stones, which had been catapulted at fortifications.

The IAA’s Jerusalem Region Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch explained in the press release that ballistae are a form of ancient weapons, which were used by forces besieging a city, and were used to hurl stones to cause forces on fortress walls to flee.

“The ballista stones which were uncovered at the City of David are most likely connected to the harsh battles between the besieged residents of Jerusalem and the soldiers of the Roman Legion, from around 70 CE – the year of the destruction of Jerusalem,” said Baruch.



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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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