Monday, June 22, 2020

From Ian:

Selective Outrage
I have written before about the case of Rutgers professor Jasbir Puar, lionized by academics on the left despite or because of her anti-Semitic attacks on Israel.

Recently, the most egregious of Puar’s claims resurfaced in an incident at Florida State University. The Student Senate President, Ahmad Daraldik, reportedly built a website that, among other things, accuses Israel of organ harvesting. But she adds a twist: Just as “the Nazis conducted many different types of experiments on the inmates of the concentration camps,” so, too, do the Israelis harvest organs.

In Puar’s case, the charge goes back to unsourced rumors concerning Israel’s activities during the “knife intifada” of 2015-16. In our student’s case, the charge goes back to the 1990s and concerns a single facility in which corneas, heart valves, and skin grafts were taken, sometimes without family permission, from approximately 150 cadavers. Among those bodies were, as Daraldik’s web site tells you, Palestinians. Also among them, as it does not tell you, Israeli soldiers and civilians.

To compare this incident, in which a pathologist broke a law and thereby harmed Jewish and non-Jewish families, to Nazi experimentation is gross Holocaust minimization and inversion. As Miriam Elman of the Academic Engagement Network says, the comparison is “unequivocally anti-Semitic.” Yet a Student Senate that quite recently, in an overwhelming vote, removed its president over remarks he’d made in an online group chat—he’d stressed the incompatibility between his Catholicism and queer and transgender politics on the other—voted to keep Daraldik in office. Perhaps they were motivated to do so by a letter, signed by numerous purportedly progressive organizations, that mentions Daraldik’s First Amendment rights, doesn’t mention the website, and pretends that Daraldik is the victim of a “smear campaign” to suppress legitimate criticism of Israel.

In fact, critics are instead perpetuating the view that Daraldik can be held to account for noxious views that—though it is unclear when exactly the website went up—he has not disowned.
Biden blasts BDS: Why it matters
In a policy paper posted on his campaign website in May, Biden, referring to the boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, vowed that his administration will “firmly reject the BDS movement – which singles out Israel and too often veers into antisemitism – and fight other efforts to delegitimize Israel on the global stage.” Biden also said that if elected president he will “sustain our unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security,” including “the guarantee that Israel will always maintain its qualitative military edge.”

Biden reportedly made similar comments online at a May 19 virtual event. And on other occasions, he has referred to the US’s “longstanding, moral commitment” to Israel, declaring that “the only way to ensure” that the Holocaust “could never happen again was the establishment and the existence of a secure, Jewish State of Israel.”

BIDEN’S FIRM rejection of BDS contrasts with the views of several members of Congress led by Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), both of whom have explicitly endorsed BDS. In July 2019, the House passed by a 398 to 17 vote a resolution stating the House’s opposition to BDS. While those opposing the resolution accounted for less than 10% of the 234 Democratic House members, they worryingly included many of the Democratic Party’s most voluble legislators.

Much is at stake: Disagreements between allies are bound to occur. If Biden were president, how would he address disagreements over annexation and BDS? How would he lead in the face of challenges from within his party? These policy statements signal how a President Biden would govern.


Salient cases of antisemitism in Germany in the past decade
This incident highlighted the ongoing efforts to demonize Israel by a group of extreme anti-Israel MPs led by Inge Höger and Annette Groth. Both of these parliamentarians were on board the controversial 2010 Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla that carried armed passengers who intended to break the so-called "blockade" of Gaza, and upon their return to Berlin were hailed by many of their party’s MPs.

The SWC wrote that Groth, Höger and Left party official Claudia Haydt and MP Heike Hänsel - as organizers and participants - played a crucial role in stoking hatred of Israel during the “Toiletgate” scandal. All were present at the Blumenthal/Sheen talk. They are a part of a sizable group of hardcore anti-Israel Left party MPs.

In response to the “Toiletgate” scandal, a petition signed by the reform wing of The Left party MPs, regional politicians and members stated: “By stoking obsessive hatred of and demonizing Israel, members of our party in positions of responsibility are promoting antisemitic patterns of argument and a relativization of the Holocaust and the German responsibility for the extermination of millions of European Jews.”

The 2016 SWC report details how Leaders of the local German Teacher’s Union (GEW) in Oldenburg called for a total boycott of Israel. In September, the Oldenburg GEW local published a pro-BDS article by Christoph Glanz, a public school teacher and fanatic opponent of the Jewish State. Glanz, who has tried posing as a Jew to avoid charges of antisemitism called for the eradication of the State of Israel and relocation of its Jews to southwestern Germany.

In 2019, the most extreme antisemitic event was the failed attack on the synagogue in the German city Halle. Tens of Jews praying in that synagogue on Yom Kippur - Judaism’s holiest day - miraculously escaped certain injury or death at the hands of a neo-Nazi as the attacker failed to break down a security door outside a synagogue in the city. After failing to enter the synagogue, Stephan Balliet, 27, armed with a sub-machine gun and explosives, killed 2 civilians nearby and injured 2 others. Balliet admitted that he was motivated by his hatred of Jews. In his manifesto, he stated, “Kill as many anti-Whites as possible, Jews preferred.”

From the 2019 report: Germany is in the midst of an 18-month stint on the UN Security Council. Its UN Ambassador, Christoph Heusgen made the SWC Top ten list in 2019. He created an uproar after word spread regarding the number of anti-Israel votes he has cast, but above all by his equating 130 rockets fired by terrorist organization Hamas at Israeli civilians in one week in March, with the Jewish state’s demolition of terrorists’ homes.

Heusgen declared: “We believe that international law is the best way to protect civilians and allow them to live in peace and security and without fear of Israeli bulldozers or ‘Hamas rockets.’ Bild, Germany’s best-selling daily, accused Heusgen in an editorial, of “pure malice” against the Jewish State. Heusgen cast 16 anti-Israel votes at the UN in 2018, abstaining once. In 2019, he voted for nine anti-Israel resolutions, including one labelling Jerusalem’s holiest sites as “Palestinian Occupied Territory,” while abstaining three times and opposing only one anti-Israel resolution.

This is much less than one percent of my notes on antisemitism in Germany. Yet it very succinctly shows that the country is far from succeeding in eradicating antisemitism. The publication of Augstein’s article by Der Spiegel, the boycott-promoting teachers union and Heusgen’s comparison of Israel and Hamas reflect how this hatred has permeated and is alive in the German mainstream.



When Everyone Kneels, Who Will Stand Up for Western History and Culture?
"We are afraid that anything we do is colonial. There's plenty of countries willing to step into that global governance gap: China, Iran, Russia, Turkey". — Bruce Gilley, The Times, May 10, 2018.

British post-colonial guilt is, however, having repercussions far larger than statues. There is, for instance, still total silence about persecuted Christians, according to a UK bishop leading a government review into their suffering.

Western history is seemingly being remade to portray all of Western civilization as just one big apartheid. It is as if we should not only pull down statues but also pull down ourselves. A successful democracy, however, cannot be built on just erasing the past.

"Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right". — George Orwell, 1984.

What is this macabre ideological game aimed at accomplishing?... It is a power-grab to create a cultural revolution, to prevent anyone from saying that cultures are not all the same; to put Europe's past on trial; to instill perennial remorse into consciences, and to spread intellectual terror to advance multiculturalism.
Pompeo says UN Human Rights Council hits ‘new low’ with anti-US resolution on race, police
The resolution, which was drafted by Iran, Burkina Faso and the “State of Palestine” expresses concern about the “continuing racially discriminatory and violent practices perpetrated by law enforcement agencies against Africans and people of African descent, and the structural racism endemic to the criminal justice system in the United States of America and other parts of the world recently affected."

It comes in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. His death, and video which shows a police officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck, sparked protests and riots in the U.S. and other countries.

The Council held a meeting earlier in the week, where members spoke out against racism and police brutality, some choosing not to mention the U.S. by name. Floyd's brother, Philonise, spoke at the meeting. However, it was also a platform for anti-American rhetoric, with Venezuela --- a country dogged by human rights abuses and economic ruin -- decrying “Yankee imperialism.”

The resolution goes on to express “alarm at the recent incidents of police brutality against peaceful demonstrators defending the rights of Africans and of people of African descent” and calls for an international commission of inquiry, and for the U.S. and other countries to cooperate.

But the resolution serves as proof for critics of the Council that it is more focused on U.S. matters that broader and more serious human rights issues in other countries, including those that sit on the council.

Along with Venezuela, the current council members include Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea and Libya. Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, noted that the council’s sessions produced no resolution on China, despite the persecution of Muslims and the silencing of coronavirus whistleblowers.

China lashed out at me at the United Nations today for "abusing human rights" after I asked why a regime that locks up 1 million Muslims, and crushed those who tried to sound the alarm of the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, was put on the UN panel that vets human rights monitors.

In his statement, Pompeo said that the ongoing discourse about Floyd’s death is a sign of U.S. democracy’s strength and maturity.

“Americans work through difficult societal problems openly, knowing their freedoms are protected by the Constitution and a strong rule of law. We are serious about holding individuals and institutions accountable, and our democracy allows us to do so,” he said. “The United States works every day with partners around the world who share our commitment to fundamental freedoms.”

He went on to say that the Council’s move reaffirmed the U.S. decision to withdraw.


California synagogue to remove reference to top Confederate Jewish official
About 15 years ago, a large synagogue in northern California installed a set of windows in the religious school engraved with the names of some 175 prominent Jews, from biblical figures to famous actors.

One of them, sandwiched between Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, was Judah Benjamin, the most prominent Jewish official in the Confederacy. Benjamin, who enslaved 140 people on a Louisiana sugar plantation, served variously as the Confederate attorney general, secretary of war and secretary of state.

The inclusion of Benjamin’s name on the wall didn’t arouse much protest until 2013, about eight years after the installation at Peninsula Temple Sholom, a Reform congregation in Burlingame. That was when a congregant named Howard Wettan listened to a podcast about the Civil War as his daughter attended Hebrew school in the building.

“I connected the dots,” Wettan said. “I saw the name once more and said there’s something really wrong with that.”

Wettan launched a years-long campaign that coincided with a national reckoning over Confederate monuments and eventually persuaded the synagogue to grapple with the name’s significance. Benjamin’s name is now covered in tape and will be replaced, along with two other names, later this year.

“The first handful of times I noticed it, I wasn’t sensitized,” Wettan said. “It was just an historical artifact and I didn’t place a lot of meaning behind it.”

Wettan’s complaint brought a version of a much larger debate over national historical memory to a synagogue far from the former Confederate states.




Coronavirus cabinet: Prepare for 4,000 ventilated patients
The coronavirus cabinet has determined that the health system should prepare for as many as 4,000 intubated patients during the second coronavirus wave, at least half of them who would be infected with the novel virus. At the same time, the cabinet approved increasing fines on people who do not wear masks in public spaces from NIS 200 to NIS 500, and empowering local inspectors to administer these fines.

The cabinet ministers also determined to immediately evaluate the list of communities to be declared red or restricted zones, and that the country will focus on continuing to protect at-risk groups, such as senior citizens.

“We are facing a systematic increase in morbidity. We see this not only here, but I regret that we also see it around the world,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “All the necessary preventative measures will be taken.”

The six-hour meeting came on the backdrop of a sharp spike in coronavirus patients.

As of Monday evening, there have been a total of 21,008 people infected with coronavirus – an increase of 274 since the night before. The number of patients in serious condition continues to climb, reaching 45, among them 29 who are intubated.

Also, more people died overnight Sunday, bringing the total to 307. There are currently 4,940 active cases of the virus in Israel.

Over the past few days, the numbers have been particularly high. According to Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy, some 1,700 people were diagnosed with coronavirus last week alone. Last Thursday, 349 people were diagnosed with coronavirus, and in a 24-hour period over the weekend, 294 more people were diagnosed.
IDF returning to capsule systems as coronavirus numbers continue to rise
With the number of coronavirus patients in the IDF increasing significantly over the last week, the Israeli military will be stepping up its restrictions for soldiers.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters that due to the increased number of infections across Israel and within the IDF, troops will be returning to working in capsule systems.

Each commander will determine the best method to enforce social distancing according to each unit’s makeup and will decide which way works best in order to minimize contact between capsules. In closed units, soldiers who return from furloughs will work in a “company capsule system” for five days before returning to their battalion in order to limit exposure to a large number of people.

According to a report by KAN news, the commander of Nevatim airbase ordered all troops to return to working in capsule systems after five career officers who live on the base were found to be sick with the virus. The commander also ordered for wide-scale tests to rule out further infection of other troops on the base. Additionally, all kindergartens and other living facilities on the base were closed except for dining rooms.

Though troops will not be ordered to remain on base like they were at the beginning of the outbreak, “we want troops to be responsible,” Zilberman said. Soldiers who are on furlough will be allowed to gather and enjoy outdoors but are asked by the military to refrain from large gatherings in indoor spaces like clubs.

Troops who return from furloughs will nonetheless be required to prepare for a month’s stay at the bases should the numbers continue to increase.
Israeli mask maker Sonovia expects 99% coronavirus success after lab test
An Israeli company expects a fabric it has developed will be able to neutralize close to 99% of the coronavirus, even after being washed multiple times, following a successful lab test.

Sonovia's reusable anti-viral masks are coated in zinc oxide nanoparticles that destroy bacteria, fungi, and viruses, which it says can help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Tests in the Micro spectrum (Weipu Jishu) lab in Shanghai had demonstrated that the washable fabric used in its masks neutralized more than 90% of the coronavirus to which it was exposed, Sonovia said on Monday.

Liat Goldhammer, Sonovia's chief technology officer, said that in the coming weeks the fabric, which can also be used in textiles for hospitals, protective equipment, and clothing, will be able to neutralize almost 99% of the coronavirus.

Sonovia says its clients include German manufacturers Bruckner and Weber Ultrasonics, and hospitals in Germany and the United States.

It is conducting a pilot at Adler Plastic in Italy to use its fabric in vehicles and public transport and is selling its masks online to retail consumers.

The tests in China were performed in accordance with the international standard for determining the antiviral activity of textile products, Sonovia said in a statement.
COVID-19 is weakening, could die out without vaccine, specialist claims
The coronavirus has weakened over time, and it could die out without the need for a vaccine, a leading Italian infectious disease specialist told The Telegraph.

The coronavirus outbreak has spread all over the world, infecting millions of people and resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. As a result, it has sparked a major effort by researchers worldwide to develop an effective vaccine.

But according to Prof. Matteo Bassetti, head of the infectious diseases clinic at Italy's Policlinico San Martino Hospital, this may not be necessary.

Bassetti explained to The Telegraph that the virus has changed in recent months.

"The clinical impression I have is that the virus is changing in severity," he said.

"In March and early April, the patterns were completely different. People were coming to the emergency department with a very difficult-to-manage illness, and they needed oxygen and ventilation; some developed pneumonia.

"Now, in the past four weeks, the picture has completely changed in terms of patterns. There could be a lower viral load in the respiratory tract, probably due to a genetic mutation in the virus which has not yet been demonstrated scientifically. Also, we are now more aware of the disease and able to manage it," he said.




In Call With Jewish Leaders, UK Labour Chief Vows to ‘Wash Clean the Stain of Antisemitism From Our Party’
UK Labour party leader Keir Starmer held a video meeting on Friday with representatives of several top British Jewish groups.

Afterward, Starmer stated, “I am in no doubt that it will take time to rebuild trust between the Jewish community and the Labour party. Some of the problems will not be fixed overnight. But I was pleased to update the meeting today on the work which has already taken place since we last met. We are beginning to wash clean the stain of antisemitism from our party.”

“At today’s meeting,” he added, “I also emphasized that it is not enough for the Labour party to have an effective system for dealing with antisemitism. I want to lead a party without any antisemitism, full stop.”

Under Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour was plagued by antisemitism scandals, some involving Corbyn himself.

Starmer replaced Corbyn in April, in the aftermath of Labour’s resounding electoral defeat last December.

Speaking on behalf of the Jewish delegation that took part in Friday’s meeting, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Gerald Ronson CBE, chair of the Community Security Trust and Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, stated:

“We were grateful to Keir Starmer for making the time for today’s meeting. We began the meeting with a discussion of the current coronavirus crisis and an expression of our solidarity with black people in the face of the reminders of their experience of racism on both sides of the Atlantic.”

“We then moved on to consider the progress that had been made on tackling antisemitism since Sir Keir’s election as leader and our first meeting with him a few days after that,” the Jewish leaders added. “There was broad agreement that things are moving in the right direction, albeit with a long way still to go due to the scale of the mess that Sir Keir inherited.”
Jewish lawmakers who left Corbyn-led Labour over antisemitism return
Three Jewish lawmakers who left Labour over its antisemitism problem under Jeremy Corbyn said they are rejoining the party because its new leader, Keir Starmer, has spoken out on the issue.

David Triesman, the ex-chairman of the Football Association, quit the party in July 2019, along with Leslie Turnberg, a former president of the Royal College of Physicians. Parry Mitchell left in 2016 saying that as “a Jew and a Zionist” he cannot stay under Corbyn, a far-left anti-Israel campaigner, The Jewish Chronicle of London reported Friday.

“The Labour Party has in the past said it was dealing with antisemitism but did almost nothing,” Triesman told the Chronicle. “It was vital to see strong, practical action and with Keir we have seen just that. It’s the moment when being Jewish and Labour have been truly reconciled by active leadership.”

The three lawmakers serve in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the British Parliament. They stayed on as independents after leaving Labour.

Starmer, who became party leader in April after Corbyn stepped down, has taken a firm approach to an issue that many observers, including Starmer, believe Corbyn had let fester until it poisoned the party.
Police investigating calls for CAA personnel to be shot and beheaded after Canary editor says Jews like CAA “gonna get their asses dragged all over town” by BLM as far-left phalanx launches attack over our letter to Sir Keir Starmer
A far-left phalanx comprising Chris Williamson, Salma Yaqoob and Kerry-Ann Mendoza has attacked Campaign Against Antisemitism for sending a letter calling on Sir Keir Starmer to reveal a timetable for the introduction of a reformed disciplinary process in the Labour Party, and for seeking action against Labour figures including Jeremy Corbyn, Dianne Abbott and Salma Yaqoob over past and recent incidents.

Some, like Ms Mendoza, the editor of The Canary, a controversial hard-left blog under investigation by the Government’s Independent Advisor on Antisemitism, used violent language. She tweeted: “The antisemitism witch hunt is seriously about to face off with #BlackLivesMatter I’m telling you now, those anti-Black, anti-Palestinian racists are gonna get their asses dragged all over town. And they have no clue. Because…entitlement.”

After that violent language, there were calls from some on Twitter to shoot and behead Campaign Against Antisemitism personnel dead. Police are dealing with the matter.

Ms Yaqoob, the former Respect Party leader and failed Labour Metro Mayor candidate, declared that Campaign Against Antisemitism’s “priority was never really about tackling racism but silencing those supportive of Palestinian rights.” She also accused us of targeting “Black [and] Asian communities [which] have lost loved ones disproportionately in COVID” and impugned our record on antisemitism as being “somewhat dubious to say the least”. Ms Yaqoob also retweeted a tweet labelling Campaign Against Antisemitism as “bullies”. The tweet was part of a thread accusing us of being “a vicious, right-wing organisation that hounds good people.” She also mocked the Sir Keir and said of Campaign Against Antisemitism’s success at exposing and combating Labour antisemitism: “Shame on every career leftie who capitulated to these idiots.”

Mr Williamson, the disgraced former Labour MP who lost his deposit in his bid to return to Parliament as an independent MP, tweeted that we are “witch-hunters” and “bullies”.
Will Social Media Companies Monitor Anti-Semitic Hate Content?
People get much of their news and information from social media. As such, it is refreshing to learn that the largest social-media companies have policies against hate speech on their popular platforms, and have taken it upon themselves to remove anti-LGBTQ, anti-black and Islamophobic content when they become aware of it.

Why then are they negligent in ensuring that discriminatory and hateful anti-Semitic speech is not removed as well?

As the frequency and levels of violence of anti-Semitic acts soar in the United States and throughout the world, we expect that social-media companies will do their part to remove this dangerous content from their platforms, and take stronger actions in the future to monitor and purge such hate speech of their own volition.

Zachor Legal Institute has recently sent letters to Facebook, YouTube/Google and Twitter, updating them about anti-Semitic postings that are present on their popular platforms. These postings violate their own hate-speech regulations, and we have asked them to remove this content immediately. To date, we have received no response whatsoever from any of these companies.
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We are using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism as our guideline for recognizing this form of hate speech directed at Jews.

Countries throughout the world are adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which includes both the age-old hatred targeting Jews, as well as the more modern venom aimed at Israel as a proxy for Jews.

The inclusion of the newer form of anti-Semitism targeting Israel is critical for the following reasons:
On university campuses where anti-Semitism is so prevalent, the primary form this takes is discrimination aimed at Israel and Jews who support Israel.
Anti-Semitism targeting Israel, rather than Jews directly, is more nefarious, as it is regularly claimed that the attacks are legitimate criticisms of Israel and often even disguised as Palestinian human-rights expressions, when in reality the organized movements targeting Israel openly admit that their goal is to eliminate Israel as a Jewish nation.

What the IHRA definition does is distinguish between legitimate criticisms of Israel that are protected free speech and expressions that cross the line into unprotected anti-Semitic hate speech. Adoption and implementation of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is as legitimate an anti-discrimination measure as the use of similar laws and regulations that prohibit other forms of discrimination, including LGBTQ and gender discrimination.

In the United States, the State Department has adopted the IHRA definition, and the recent Executive Order Combating Anti-Semitism instructs the Department of Education to consider IHRA when evaluating Title VI Civil Rights Act complaints of discrimination against federally funded academic institutions and programs.
Belgium Curbing Religious Freedom With Ban on Kosher Slaughter, Top European Rabbi Says
One of Europe’s top rabbis has warned that Jews on the continent may no longer be able to consume kosher meat because of legislation targeting “shechita” — the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for human consumption.

“Shechita is a vital religious practice within the Jewish faith that forms an inherent part of our religious identity, without which Jews would be deprived of the ability to eat meat,” Rabbi Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt — president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) — said in a statement on Monday.

Goldschmidt was speaking ahead of a hearing at the European Court of Justice in July that is expected to rule on the legality of the ban on Jewish and Muslim slaughter methods adopted by Belgium in January 2019.

The hearing had originally been scheduled for April 21, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Goldschmidt said that the supply chain of kosher meat in Europe was not strong enough to rely solely on imports.

“In recent months, and particularly over the recent Passover holiday, which of course came at the height of the pandemic in Europe, the supply chain was simply not robust and many communities in Belgium — and indeed throughout Europe — suffered a shortage of meat due to the lack of supplies,” he stated. “The experience of Passover served as a stark reminder that Jewish communities cannot rely entirely on the international supply chain … Quite frankly, the option to import kosher meat into Belgium is unsustainable and the ban on the practice of religious slaughter is ultimately too restrictive.”
6 Israeli firms named among 100 ‘tech pioneers’ by World Economic Forum
Six Israeli firms are among the companies named by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the 100 Technology Pioneers for 2020.

These companies are “future headline-makers addressing global issues with cutting-edge technology,” the WEF said, announcing its ranking. They include firms in such fields as artificial intelligence, environment, healthcare, alternative meat, financial access and food security. Technology pioneers are also contributing to COVID-19 responses through testing and diagnostics, the announcement said.

These firms are “helping us to reset society and build towards a better future,” the WEF said on June 16.

They are “companies that think differently and stand out as potential game-changers,” said Susan Nesbitt, head of the Global Innovators Community, World Economic Forum.
Israeli defense exports pull in $7.2 billion in sales
Despite a challenging year marked by a decrease in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, Israel's military exports brought in $7.2 billion dollars in defense contracts last year, SIBAT, the military exports unit of the Defense Ministry, said on Monday.

"Despite the intense international challenges and competition, we have managed to keep Israel among the world's top 10 security exporters with a market share of over $7 billion,” said Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Yair Kulas, head of SIBAT, the Export & Defense Cooperation Division of Israel’s Defense Ministry.

The last year saw a continued decrease in military exports compared to 2017, which saw a record $9,360 billion in defense exports.

Kulas said that despite the challenging year there was a “significant increase” in the number of transactions signed in 2019, especially government-to-government (G2G) contracts.

According to SIBAT, in 2019 Israeli companies exported radars and electronic warfare systems (17%), missiles, rockets and air defense systems (15%), manned aircraft and avionics (13%), observation and optronics (12%), weapon stations and launchers (10%), drone systems and UAVs (8%), intelligence, information and cyber systems (7%), C4I and communication systems (7%), vehicles and APCs (4%), customer service and other (3%), ammunition and armament (3%), naval systems (1%)

The largest distribution of Israeli defense exports was in Asia Pacific with 41% (down from 46% the year before) followed by Europe with 26% (up from 15%), North America with 25% (a significant increase from 6% in 2018), Africa with 4% (up from 2%) and Latin America also at 4% (down from 6%).

“We were expecting to see a trend of growth in G2G agreements throughout the year 2020, but the corona pandemic has devastated the global economy and the defense sector," Kulas said. "As such, we are adjusting our activities in the Defense Ministry and working to turn this crisis into an opportunity [for international collaboration] for our defense industries."

A leader in defense, the world has for many years looked to the Jewish state for security and intelligence. Israel’s defense industry has leading international companies exporting to countries across the globe.
Israel-US defense tech cooperation may soon get a big congressional boost
A bipartisan effort is making its way through the US Congress that could see new support for Israel-US defense cooperation. It is a unique effort that now includes both a bill in the Senate called the United States-Israel Military Capability Act of 2020 and H.R. 7148 in the House of Representatives “to establish a US-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group.”

Israel and the US are already close partners and allies in the realm of defense. Not only does Washington provide Jerusalem with funding through the ten-year Memorandum of Understanding – $38 billion between 2016 and 2026 – there is also key cooperation in missile defense, anti-tunnel defense and counter-drone technology. This is the “enduring and unshakable commitment,” the US has to Israel’s security, and is a bond between the American people and Israel, according to the US Embassy.

There are also joint exercises with the US, including the recent Blue Flag drill and other joint work with F-35s and American and Israeli military-to-military discussions. In addition, Israel’s missile defense systems, such as Iron Dome, are not only for the benefit of the Jewish state, but are also on their way to potentially be used by the US. The technology Israel innovated – such as Trophy, a system that protects tanks – saves American lives.

Israel's big three defense companies, Elbit Systems, IAI and Rafael, have numerous cooperative projects with the US. These include Elbit's state-of-the-art helmets, Rafael's targeting pods for F-16s and IAI's wings for the F-35.

Building on that success, Brad Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued in May that the Pentagon must shift its ongoing modernization efforts into high gear to meet emerging threats. Israel can help because it is “one of America’s closest and most technologically advanced allies.”
Israel vows to defend interests in Aphrodite-Yishai gas field dispute
Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides was set to pay a quick visit to Israel on Tuesday morning, with energy issues at the top of the agenda.

Christodoulides is expected to arrive in Israel on Tuesday morning via helicopter to Ben-Gurion Airport, which has a special coronavirus green zone for the purpose of allowing such diplomatic visits. Ashkenazi plans to meet him at the airport.

The visit is in lieu of one by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades with several ministers, which was canceled because of an increase in coronavirus cases in Israel in recent weeks. Anastasiades is in a high-risk category because of his age and because he recently underwent surgery.

Cyprus’ foreign minister sought to meet with new Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi despite the cancellation of the larger delegation.
Ashkenazi is expected to ask Christodoulides to defend Israel more vocally in the EU.

Cyprus has not yet publicly expressed a position on the possibility that Israel may extend its civil law to parts of the West Bank, but is thought to oppose it. Askhenazi will likely ask Christodoulides to vote against any proposed EU sanctions on Israel and to call to moderate the wording of critical statements.

Christodoulides is expected to bring up issues that Cyprus has had with Turkey, including their continued occupation of Northern Cyprus and their encroachment into Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea.
Israelis looking to harness local bromine to produce revolutionary new battery
Groundbreaking Israeli efforts to develop an affordable, rechargeable battery to store solar and wind energy using a locally mined resource could put the country at the forefront of the world’s renewable energy revolution in less than three years.

Researchers at the Technion in the northern city of Haifa are partnering with a US company that already sells storage batteries in order to develop a cheaper, more efficient version that, competitively priced, could outstrip what the market offers today.

The system relies on zinc and bromine. Israel Chemicals already the world’s largest producer of bromine, in September announced that it was investing $50 million to expand capacity at its Dead Sea plant. Both bromine and zinc are relatively inexpensive, and certainly far cheaper than the lithium used to power portable devices such as phones and laptops.

The main obstacle, worldwide, to replacing fossil fuels with 100 percent renewable energy is the lack of storage options. The sun does not shine at night and you might not want to shower only while the wind is blowing.

At present, renewables are being used in combination with fossil fuels. In Israel, for example, where the Energy Ministry is aiming to reach 30% renewables by 2030, natural gas will provide for the remaining 70%, including at times when renewable energy supply is minimal but demand is high.

Today, more than 90 percent of renewable energy storage is carried out by pumping water uphill and then letting it plunge downhill to drive turbines when the energy is needed. Similar in principle to hydroelectricity, it only suits certain hilly terrains as the water needs to be pumped several hundred meters up by the solar- or wind-powered generating stations.
How goats have become fire fighters in Israel
The group in question consists of about 160 goats, sheep, cows, and camels. Strange as it may sound, grazing — especially by goats — has been found in many studies as an effective, ecologically friendly way to reduce the risk of extensive fires.

Now, a new Israeli study explores how to expand and encourage goat grazing in Israel.

Goats contribute to fire prevention by eating the excess vegetation in areas where plant growth is dense and scrubby (such as forests), making it more difficult for fires to spread.

Cows and sheep also aid in thinning out the vegetation, but they mostly feed on grasses, while goats prefer to eat bushes and low branches of trees — and sometimes even stand on their hind legs to reach them.

When the shrubs and lower tree branches are thinner, it’s harder for a fire that ignites at ground level to climb upwards. That helps prevent a situation where flames reach the treetops and begin to spread from top to top, causing a small local fire to become a dangerous uncontrolled forest fire that quickly consumes many acres of woodland.

In the past, there was widespread goat grazing in Israel, which was significantly reduced following the Plant Protection Law, widely known as the “Black Goat Law,” named after a common breed among Bedouins in Israel.

This law, enacted in 1950 and widely enforced since 1978, significantly restricted goat grazing, leading to a decrease in the number of goats, especially in the Carmel Mountains, from 15,000 in 1970 to only 2,000 in 2013.

Over the years, evidence of the benefits of forest fire prevention through grazing has accumulated, and the law was repealed in 2018. But the extent of grazing in Israel is still limited.

More freedom, less milk

According to the new study, grazing does have benefits for farmers, such as providing free food for animals.



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