Friday, November 13, 2020

From Ian:

Prince Charles: I have lost a trusted guide, an inspired teacher and a friend
The death of Rabbi Lord Sacks is the most profound loss to the Jewish community, to this nation and to the world. Those who knew him through his writings, sermons and broadcasts will have lost a source of unfailing wisdom, sanity and moral conviction in often bewildering and confusing times.

Those who, like myself, had the privilege of knowing him personally, have lost a trusted guide and an inspired teacher. I, for one, have lost a true and steadfast friend.

His family, most of all, have lost a great man whose devotion to them knew no bounds, and my heart goes out to them in their grief.

Over many years, I had come to value Rabbi Sacks’s counsel immensely. With his seemingly inexhaustible store of learning, his never-failing wisdom and his instinct for the power of the story in our lives, he could be relied upon to identify clearly the moral issues in question, and to define fearlessly the choices being faced.

The apparent ease with which he could cut through the confusion and clamour of our current concerns was grounded in his deep scholarship in both secular and religious disciplines, making him uniquely able to speak with conviction across boundaries of religion, culture and generations.

His life was distinguished by three commitments: commitment to listening to, and learning from, others without fear of compromising either his or their deeply held convictions; commitment to the institutions of the Nation which he nurtured through his own advocacy and participation; commitment to the integrity and harmony of God’s Creation, to Shalom.
Remembering Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (1948-2020)
Like so many young Jews, I first encountered Jonathan Sacks when I began asking serious questions about Judaism. At the time, he was the chief rabbi of a community an ocean away, but through his books—he would write dozens, at a pace of one per year—I had access to him as a high school student in New York.

I wasn’t the only one who did this. In college, a friend went to Harvard’s Widener Library, photocopied pages from the first edition of Sacks’ post-9/11 work The Dignity of Difference, and passed them around like contraband. (Rabbi Sacks’ expansive view of religious pluralism—and of the integrity of Christianity and Islam—had upset his ultra-Orthodox constituents at the time, and he subsequently gently revised the book to assuage them, even as he never abandoned his original position.) When he visited the states and spoke at MIT, many of us trekked across Cambridge to hear him.

For 22 years as chief rabbi, Sacks walked a tightrope as an Oxbridge-educated modern Orthodox rabbi tasked with representing a diverse Jewish community, both in official and unofficial capacity. As he wryly put it back in 1991, “There are many great Jewish leaders. There are very few great Jewish followers. So leading the Jewish people turns out to be very difficult.”

His tenure, however, was a success, spanning over two decades. In 2013, he surprised many by retiring as chief rabbi at age 65—not to recede from public life, but to pursue grander ambitions. That’s when I met him.

I interviewed Sacks for the first time shortly after he stepped down. I expected him to deftly sidestep some of my more pointed questions about politics and faith, but he surprised me by tackling most of them head-on. It soon became clear that this was one reason he had decided to depart his post. As he put it, “When you’re no longer captain of the team, you are much more able to express yourself as an individual.” Being freed from institutional constraints enabled him to reach and embrace broader parts of the Jewish community than he could when encumbered by the political sensitivities and geographic limitations of his office. He traveled the globe, taught at Yeshiva University and New York University, and made connections with Jews outside the Orthodox world—many of whom mourned his loss over the weekend.

But for all the tributes from people like me in the media, Sacks didn’t just talk to those with large platforms or celebrity. I know firsthand from friends how he emailed personally with students, elementary school teachers, and others who sought his guidance. I can only imagine the amount of correspondence he must have received, and cannot imagine how he managed to fit it into his schedule between his dozens of books, online videos, and speeches and media appearances around the globe.
Nuance: The critical legacy of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks – opinion
RABBI SACKS taught us that this art of nuance and disagreeing agreeably goes beyond the realm of the American election. It applies to every area of life, and is desperately needed in the complex reality called the Jewish State of Israel.

One can vehemently disagree with the religious practice of others while also standing up for their right to choose their own theology; one can believe that all of Israel belongs to the Jewish people while also caring deeply for the well-being of the Palestinian people; one can live in a settlement while also firmly hoping and striving for peace that may require relinquishing that community; one can believe that Torah study is the highest value while also supporting military service for all; one can be against racism and discrimination while also calling out the failings of Israel’s Arab population and their elected leaders; one can be proudly Left wing and Zionist, and one can be strongly Right wing and open-minded; one can support Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister without suggesting that Benny Gantz or Yair Lapid are horrific human beings, and vice versa; and we can learn much from the example of friendships such as that between the late minister Uri Orbach from the right-wing and religious Jewish Home Party and MK Ilan Gilon from the left-wing and secular Meretz Party, both of whom labeled each other as “best friends.”

“Diversity is a sign of strength not weakness,” Rabbi Sacks once wrote in Jewish Action. “As the Netziv writes in his commentary to the Tower of Babel, uniformity of thought is not a sign of freedom but its opposite.... So difference, argument, clashes of style and substance are signs not of unhealthy division but of health.”

Divisive and polarizing rhetoric are reaching destructive levels worldwide, to the point that democratic systems and decent civilizations are at risk of total collapse. As we mourn the passing of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, we must save the very foundations of civilized society by internalizing and putting into practice his lessons of nuance and tolerance.
12 lessons I learned from Rabbi Sacks
When I was a post-graduate student at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks came as a visiting professor for the semester, teaching undergraduate students. Despite not being an undergraduate, I signed up. I knew this was an opportunity of once in a lifetime. Having listened to so many of his classes and adoring his teachings, I went to every class of his I could attend. From that semester, and following so many of his lectures, I found so many valuable lessons, speaking volumes of who he was, and giving me goals to aspire to. Here are some of them:

Education is everything- Rabbi Sacks loved children. His saying: "to defend a country, you need an army, to defend a civilization you need schools," resonated in Jewish day schools around the world. Rabbi Sacks was a brilliant intellectual, yet he made sure his works took the form of a family edition Covenant and Conversation for Shabbat dinners. Time and again, Rabbi Sacks spoke about Jewish education as the epicenter of our existence. Day schools, children, and Jewish education meant everything to him. History will record that day school enrollment in the United Kingdom during his tenure as chief rabbi has skyrocketed, something for which he gets a great deal of credit.

Love- Rabbi Sacks' life did not go on without controversy. He faced criticism from multiple directions. Yet those always fell by the wayside—not because Rabbi Sacks fought back or engaged in mudslinging or heavy debate; it was his way of love, kindness, and graciousness always prevailed. "When the Lord accepts a person's ways, He will cause even his enemies to make peace with him." (Proverbs 16). As Menachem Begin put it, "not in merit of power, but the power of merit." No attack on him was important enough for him to hit back at those who criticized him. No insult was a justification for self-defense.

I remember showing Rabbi Sacks' famous video "Why I am a Jew" to a group of Jewish 5th graders who did not study in a Jewish day school. The room was dark and quiet, and Rabbi Sacks' beautiful voice was resonating in the room. Suddenly one of the kids asked most innocently and beautifully: "Is that God speaking?" To carry the message of God, Rabbi Sacks radiated love, compassion, and care for every person; that is how he found his way to so many hearts.

I once came to Rabbi Sacks right before class with a book of his I had meant to give my grandmother for her birthday. I asked him if he can quickly autograph it if it was not a trouble. He asked what her name was and then went on to write her a beautiful and thoughtful note. Thoughts, wisdom, and ideas, can never go too far without the heart that comes with it. Rabbi Sacks embodied Eleanor Rosevelt's saying: "nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care." Even if you never met Rabbi Sacks, you knew he cared.
The Tikvah Podcast: Daniel Gordis on America, Israel, and the Sources of Jewish Resilience
The year 2020 has been one of real suffering. The Coronavirus has infected tens of millions the world over and has taken the lives of a quarter of a million Americans. It’s decimated the economy, shuttered businesses, brought low great cities, and immiserated millions who could not even attend funerals or weddings, visit the sick, or console the demoralized. This podcast focuses on how to think Jewishly about suffering and about the sources of Jewish fortitude in the face of tragedy and challenge. In his October 2020 Mosaic essay, “How America’s Idealism Drained Its Jews of Their Resilience,” Shalem College’s Daniel Gordis examines recent experiences of Jewish suffering and how different Jewish communities responded to it. In doing so, he makes the case that Jewish tradition and Jewish nationalism endow the Jewish soul with the resources to persevere in the face of adversity. Liberal American Jewish communities, by contrast, have no such resources to draw upon. He joins Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay and more.


Melanie Phillips: The choice between love and hate
Rabbi Sacks’s funeral in London, starkly simple in the Jewish tradition and sparsely attended because of coronavirus restrictions, has been followed by near-daily emotional gatherings on Zoom commemorating a man who devoted himself to increasing the human potential for good.

What his life illuminated was not just his own extraordinary gifts but what makes Judaism itself unique: the hope it gives for both individual and universal transformation for the better.

In a powerful lecture he delivered in 2015 on how to heal a fractured world, Sacks said that for Jews “to live is to give. To receive but not to give is not life at all.”

The purpose of Jewish religious ethics is to make a better world by giving to it. Jews may not always live up to this ideal, but its centrality to Jewish culture is a big reason why the contribution that Jews make to the world is wildly disproportionate to their minute numerical strength.

It’s why so many Jews are doctors, lawyers, scientists, working to heal and save lives, to fight injustice, to rescue people from natural disasters or develop ways of alleviating famine, starvation and other hardships. In helping other people, they help themselves to thrive as a people.

The Palestinians have collectively chosen the opposite path: to demand but never to give, to hate and destroy rather than to love and to build. In trying to bring others down, they destroy their own ability to thrive.

The contrast is between those who choose life and those who inflict death, between those who promote love and those who incite hatred, between those for whom the purpose of life is to give and those for whom its purpose is to take.

Saeb Erekat died in keeping with the cause he had served: eager to take for himself from those who choose to give even to their mortal enemies — and whom he had spent his life trying to destroy, thereby helping perpetuate a cult of death and decay.

In stark contrast, the monumental legacy of books, videos, speeches, commentaries, liturgical translations and other works that Rabbi Sacks has left for the world will ensure that his insight into life’s purpose and his love for humanity will live on — to enlighten, to inspire and to console.
Introducing Muslim Zionism
We are a Jewish Zionist, an Arab Zionist and a Muslim Zionist. It is time to dispense with the idea that to be a proud Arab and Muslim one must be an anti-Zionist.

For too long, anti-Zionism was pursued as an essential element of the correct Arab and Muslim identity. This has not brought the Arab and Islamic world greatness. Quite the contrary: The inculcation and dissemination of anti-Zionism in the Arab and Islamic world has resulted in a massive waste of valuable resources.

I grew up with anti-Semitism in the UAE. Peace with Israel is a dream come true.

Whether it was in the waging of useless wars against Israel which have resulted in death, suffering and displacement, or in the expulsion of almost all of the nearly million Jews who have lived for over a millennium throughout the Arab and Islamic world, or in the economic boycotts of Israel, nothing good came to the Arab and Islamic world from turning anti-Zionism into a central tenet of the identity of hundreds of millions of people.

Even more than all the wasted human and financial resources and unnecessary suffering, it wasted time. We have all, as peoples and nations, been deprived of so much valuable time that could have otherwise been spent building our countries and societies through mutual respect and cooperation.

After all, what is Zionism? It is the political movement for the liberation and self-determination of the Jewish people in their ancient homeland. It is a movement that asks nothing more and nothing less than that the Jews, as a people, should be able to govern themselves as an equal nation in the only land which ever formed the consistent and core part of their identity as a people and a nation.

There is nothing in Arab history and in Islam that necessitates fierce opposition to this idea.

Arab history and culture have a strong and broad basis. Arab civilization at its height contributed to humanity in math, science, astronomy, philosophy, architecture, art, poetry and literature. Arab identity can and should stand on its own merits and has no real need to resort to the negation of Jews, their peoplehood and their history, to assert itself. There is simply no negative correlation between being a proud Arab and being a Zionist, believing in the Jewish state’s right to exist, thrive and be able to defend itself.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Arabs: "Westerners Must Stop Appeasing Islamists"
"Political Islamic organizations are the reason for perpetuating terrorism and hatred. These organizations are banned in most of the Islamic countries, while Europe, especially Britain, embraces them and allows them to operate freely. Europeans can only blame themselves." — Mohammed al-Sheikh, Saudi writer, Twitter, October 29, 2020.

"There is no doubt that France's previous policies, lenient with [Muslim] extremists, contributed to the current wave of terrorism, as well as legislation that guarantees the right to asylum and immigration to every expatriate on its soil." — Hailah al-Mashouh, Saudi columnist and political analyst, Elaph, November 5, 2020.

The group [Muslim World League] warned that Islamists have succeeded in implementing their political projects in non-Muslim countries under the umbrella of training mosque preachers and funding Islamic charities.

We are now seeing a large number of Arabs and Muslims warning about the clear and present danger Islamism poses to many different societies. These individuals are demonstrating courage and conviction in taking this public stance. Their advice, that Western states must eradicate Islamist organizations in Europe, is vitally important.
MEMRI: Australian Preacher Urges Muslims To Boycott France, Stresses Death Is The Only Punishment For Offense To Prophet Muhammad
Australian preacher Wisam Hadad, a central figure in the radical Salafi and jihadi community in Australia and among English-speaking jihadi followers on social media,[1] recently commented in an online audio lecture about the controversy surrounding the relations between Muslims and France following the re-publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo magazine. Once again, the cartoons sparked a wave of outrage among Muslims, leading to deadly terror attacks in France and calls to boycott the country. Hadad, aka Abu Ousayd Al-Islami, declares that Muslims must not remain silent in the face of insults to the prophet by France, singling out President Emmanuel Macron. He writes that when Muslims see evil, they must oppose it with action [“the hand”], speech [“the tongue”] or in their hearts. He concedes that Muslims in the West are unable to take action, and must therefore focus on speaking out against such offenses or boycotting French products. At the same time, he stresses that according to Islamic law the only appropriate punishment for insulting the prophet is death, and that, while he isn’t calling for anyone to do anything “crazy” he wouldn’t lose sleep if anyone were to do such a thing. Hadad’s comments were made in an audio lecture titled “The Ultimate Response on The Insults of Our Prophet,” published on the Salafi Central YouTube channel and disseminated on his Facebook account.[2] The clip has so far received slightly more than 1,000 views.

The 28-minute lecture begins with a short insert from a French ISIS song called “Blood for Blood.”[3] This is followed by a Quranic verse vowing punishment for those who offend Allah or the prophet Muhammad, shown against the backdrop of an image of President Macron. The lecture is accompanied by footage of current events related to its content. For instance, when Hadad discusses the need to respond with outrage to the Muhammad cartoons, the footage displayed is of flag-burning and heated protests.

The following are highlights from the lecture delivered in English, lightly edited for clarity:
Hadad begins: “It has become the norm that if somebody attacks [the prophet] the norm is to stay quiet. The norm isn’t to react... If this is what the norm is, it hasn’t worked. Year after year after year the [infidels] make it worse in their attacks on [the prophet].

"Today my brothers and sisters we must understand that there is a war of ideas. This war is being headed at the moment by the people in France. And on top of them by the prime minister [sic, should be president] of France, where he speaks against Islam, speaks against the Muslims, allows cartoons that are drawn showing the prophet in the worst of ways, to be made public, or under the title of freedom of speech. And this is their hypocrisy, it is not freedom of speech, it is freedom to insult the Messenger of Allah and the Muslims."

Hadad refers to what he views as hypocrisy in the Western attitude toward freedom of speech, saying that in Australia, if one spoke against the Anzacs, he would be jailed, and that one can be jailed if he speaks against the “Jews killed by the Germans.”

He quotes Quran 3:118, according to which what the unbelievers conceal in their hearts is much worse than what they express, saying that what is surprising, therefore, is not how the non-Muslims behave, but how the Muslims react.
Twelve charged in Germany with plotting mosque attacks, murders
German prosecutors have charged 12 men with plotting well-funded, armed attacks on mosques in which they planned to kill or injure as many Muslims as possible, authorities said on Friday.

"They aimed through attacks on mosques and the killing and wounding of as many Muslims as possible to create civil war-like conditions," prosecutors said in a statement.

Prosecutors said the suspects, 11 gang members and one accomplice, had met regularly to plan, with all but one of them pledging to contribute thousands towards a 50,000-euro ($59,000) pot to finance the purchase of weapons.

The suspects, aged between 31 and 61, are all Germans and all but one of them has been detained. The twelfth is still at large, prosecutors in the southeastern city of Stuttgart said.

Another suspect had died while in custody. A prosecution official said he had killed himself and that there was nothing to indicate foul play. The official said cash sums in the "mid four-digit range" had been found in suspects' houses.

Germany has experienced a spate of right-wing attacks in recent years directed at minorities and those perceived to support them.


Jonathan Tobin: Can Democrats finally repudiate ‘The Squad’?
Not everybody in the Democratic Party is in love with “The Squad.” Even as they celebrated their apparent victory in the presidential election, some Democrats spent the days after the voting complaining about the role that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and their leftist allies played in reducing their party’s numbers in Congress.

Moderates have made no secret about their resentment over the derailing of what many Democrats expected would be a “blue wave” in 2020. That raises questions about whether or not some of the party’s most popular figures will continue to be able to exercise influence that is way out of proportion with their numbers in Congress, as they have in the last two years. If so, and that is far from a certainty, it might also mean that pro-Israel Democrats will finally start standing up to and marginalizing these radicals, rather than appeasing them.

Instead of the Democrats increasing their majority in the House, they suffered a severe setback as Republicans gained what may amount to as many as 12 seats once all the races are finally decided. Moderates like Reps. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) believe that their party suffered specifically because of AOC and her followers. Despite what happened at the top of the ticket, Democrats in competitive districts suffered from having to answer questions about whether they shared convictions of “The Squad” about defunding the police, critical race theory and massive spending programs.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Democratic Caucus, was equally blunt. He, too, blamed the “Socialist agenda” of “Internet personalities” on the left for his party’s losses.

This is a difficult conversation for Democrats to be having. While they expect to be in charge of the executive branch next year, it remains to be seen just how much influence the left—whose support was vital for Biden’s campaign—will have over the next administration’s policies.
Post-election: Examining pro-Israel records of key Senate races
While Joe Biden has been projected as the next president of the United States, control of the U.S. Senate is almost just as important due to the Democrats hinting at, if they win the majority of seats in the chamber over the Republican Party, changes such as ending the legislative filibuster and packing the U.S. Supreme Court.

As it pertains to issues relevant to the Jewish and pro-Israel community, GOP control of the Senate would block nominees to the executive branch, including Cabinet members, who may be hostile towards Israel, prevent conditional U.S. assistance to Israel and pass amendments blocking possible moves that would be detrimental to the Jewish state.

Control of the Senate will come down to two runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5 between incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, and incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock. While many say the Republicans are expected to keep its Senate majority, it’s not over until the runoff votes have been counted.

With the GOP currently holding a 50-48 Senate majority, Democrats winning both Georgia seats would give them the majority due to U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will serve as the president of the Senate, being one more Democrat for any tie-breaking votes.


City council unanimously supports anti-Semitism declaration
After a gut-wrenching hour-long presentation from Holocaust survivor Max Eisen, Orillia’s City Council [Ontario, Canada] unanimously adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism Monday night.

It was part of a broader motion that spoke of the city’s desire, as expressed in its 2018-2022 strategic plan, to be “a welcoming, caring, inclusive and accessible community.”

Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke invited Eisen to make the presentation to city council “to address what I think is the disgusting issue of racism.”

The Mayor met Eisen when he participated in a trip to Europe in 2019 dubbed Compassion to Action, organized by the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies. As part of that trip, Clarke and others visited various holocaust sites.

Eisen’s presentation shed light on a very dark chapter of history. The photographs he showed, virtually, were hard to see and his message was difficult to hear for councillors.

He talked about being culled from his village in Moldava, Czechoslovakia and taken to Auschwitz with tens of thousands of others.
Morocco Warmly Praised for National School Curriculum Teaching Judaism
Morocco has introduced a component covering its storied Jewish community into the national curriculum for school students, earning praise from Jewish leaders for the North African nation’s positive approach to pluralism.

A statement earlier this month from the Association Mimouna — a Moroccan NGO that promotes awareness of the country’s Jewish culture — explained that the curriculum for primary school students focuses “on the Hebraic/Jewish cultural component enshrined in the constitution, the historical royal visit to Bayt Dhakira and a short glimpse of the history of Moroccan Jews.”

Inaugurated last January, Bayt Dhakira is described as a “spiritual and heritage space” for Moroccan Judaism that is based in the historic Jewish quarter in the city of Essaouria.

“After almost 14 years of hard work, determination and perseverance, Moroccan Judaism has finally made it to the Moroccan educational system,” the Association Mimouna said.

On Thursday, two US Jewish leaders warmly praised King Mohammed VI of Morocco for his commitment “to perpetuate the Judeo-Moroccan legacy as an integral part of the Moroccan identity.”

In a joint statement, Jason Guberman of the American Sephardi Federation and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations emphasized that the curriculum had been “released without outside prompting or fanfare in the Western press, a testament to this development being a genuine expression of Moroccan values.”

“Ensuring Moroccan students learn about the totality of their proud history of tolerance, including Morocco’s philosemitism, is an inoculation against extremism,” the statement remarked. “We hope other countries take note and emulate the Kingdom’s exceptional example.”
Complaint Alleging Antisemitism at University of Illinois Prompts Diverging Responses From Faculty
A controversy around allegations of widespread antisemitism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has prompted faculty to weigh in on the debate in two conflicting open letters distributed last week.

The letters were issued in response to a complaint filed with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in March, in which two Jewish students accused the University of Illinois’ leadership of not doing enough to address a “poisonous atmosphere” of antisemitism on campus.

A summary of the complaint was made public in late October by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a nonprofit that advocates for Jewish civil rights.

The complaint alleged, among other things, that some Jewish students had mezuzahs removed from the doorframes of their rooms and apartments; that swastikas were drawn in various locations on campus; and that objects were thrown through the windows of two Jewish fraternities.

In response to the complaint, a group of around 60 faculty members distributed an open letter to the University of Illinois’ chancellor, Robert Jones, last week, expressing support for his administration and contesting the complaint’s claim that his efforts to address antisemitism on campus were inadequate.

“We believe that your administration has consistently opposed antisemitism and has supported efforts designed to curtail the spread of racism of all forms on our campus,” the faculty members wrote. “We do not believe that the incidents listed in the complaint can reasonably be described as an ‘unrelenting campaign of anti-Semitic harassment,’ given the diverse nature of the incidents and their dispersion over a four-year period.”
German Catholic and Protestant Churches Unite for ‘Jewish and Christian — Closer Than You Think’ Campaign
Germany’s Protestant and Catholic Churches are coming together in a joint campaign to fight antisemitic hatred of Jews under the slogan, “Jewish and Christian — closer than you think.”

The initiative — which will be launched in January — was announced on Thursday at a press conference in Berlin.

“It must be made clear that antisemitism is a sin and contradicts everything Christianity stands for,” Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm — chair of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) — declared.

The “central element of the campaign will be posters for each month, based on festivals and traditions, that will point to similarities and differences between the two religions, and which can be displayed in churches and church institutions,” the EKD stated in a press release.

One Jewish leader interviewed by the online newsletter of the World Council of Churches (WCC) warmly endorsed the campaign.

“I think it’s a good idea for such a poster series that presents what’s Christian and what’s Jewish alongside each other,” Rabbi Andreas Nachama — chair of the General Rabbinical Conference of Germany — said.
Jewish Actor Calls Out Hollywood for Employing Mel Gibson Despite His Past Antisemitic Remarks
American Jewish actor Joshua Malina took a dig at Hollywood on Tuesday for continuing to give employment opportunities to Mel Gibson despite his past antisemitic remarks.

Variety reported on Tuesday that “Panama” — a new action-thriller film starring Gibson — had received financial backing from Grandave Capital as a third-party investor.

Gibson will star in the movie as a former Marine commander, and producers plan to start filming the project in December.

Malina — known for his roles in the television shows “The West Wing” and “Scandal” — shared on Twitter a link to the Variety article, adding the comment, “Antisemite Continues To Get Work,” to express his frustration.

Gibson, 64, has a history of making antisemitic remarks, including his infamous tirade while being arrested in 2006 for a DUI in which he told a police office that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
Social Media Partly to Blame for Rise in Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes, Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief Says
The surge in recent years of hate crimes targeting Jews around the world can be at least partly attributed to the pervasiveness of social media, the editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner said during a Wednesday appearance on i24 News.

“One of the things that could really be having an impact here is the rise of social media platforms that create an opportunity for various forms of haters to gather and organize and reinforce each other,” Dovid Efune told “Global Eye” host Benita Levin.

Before their attacks, the perpetrators of the shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, Efune noted, “were talking to a community of haters…one of them was on Gab, the other one was on another platform called 8chan.”

“So if we had to put a finger on it, I think one of the areas of real concern and one of the areas that is sort of leading to this growth is that whereas bigots and haters might have been isolated in the past, hiding and sort of circulating independently, now you have opportunities for them to gather, reinforce each other and to build communities to egg each other on,” he continued.


AJC wants US task force to take harder aim at online anti-Semitism
A recent report by the American Jewish Committee on "the state of anti-Semitism in America" reveals that one out of five American Jews (22%) has been the target of an anti-Semitic remark online or through social media in the last five years.

AJC data also found that 46% of American Jews who said they reported online anti-Semitism to a social media platform said no steps were taken to address the incident.

In the wake of this report, AJC's US Director for Combating Antisemitism Holly Huffnagle briefed members of the inter-parliamentary task force on online anti-Semitism established in September with representatives from the US Congress, Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

"The AJC report shows that American Jews feel intimidated and chilled from speaking. The online space is not an equal free speech playing field. It is imperative to our efforts that anti-Semitic content is reported and removed when it violates the platform's policies," she said.

According to Huffnagle, social media platforms should adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. A universal standard will allow artificial intelligence and human moderators to be more effective in removing and banning all anti-Semitic content.
Greek newspaper likens Pfizer’s Jewish CEO to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele
A Greek newspaper whose publisher was convicted recently of anti-Semitic defamation warned its readers that Pfizer’s Jewish CEO will “stick the needle” into them while calling the pharmaceutical company’s prospective COVID-19 vaccine “poison.”

The front-page article, with graphics including a picture of Albert Bourla and the Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele, appeared Tuesday in the daily Makeleio.

Its publisher, Stefanos Chios, was fined $2,200 last month for an op-ed in which he called a former leader of the Athens Jewish community a “crude Jew who runs a loan-shark firm.”

Bourla, a Greek Jew from Thessaloniki, is also a veterinarian.

“A Jewish veterinarian will stick the needle! Terror countdown for the mandatory vaccine,” read the article, which also defined the vaccine as “poison.”

Mengele was infamous for experiments performed on concentration camp inmates.
CBC Fawns Over Dead Palestinian Leader Saeb Erekat
Most problematic was an interview broadcast on November 10 on the flagship CBC Radio program As It Happens. The program, which is anchored by Carol Off, who’s well known for her anti-Israel bias, saw the CBC’s host offer condolences in her interview with Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary to the Palestinian National Initiative and a friend of Erekat’s. You can listen to the interview in full immediately below:

Barghouti, who’s entitled to his opinions, described Erekat as a true believer in non-violence and a supporter of peace. The eight and a half minute interview, saw Barghouti portray the “extreme right wing in Israel,” Israeli settlements, and Prime Minister Netanyahu as being chiefly responsible for destroying the Middle East peace process. CBC Anchor Carol Off even went as far to myopically claim that peace has been so elusive under the Trump administration and under Mr. Netanyahu, and in so doing, she absolved the Palestinian leadership of their own responsibility to negotiate in good faith, while ignoring the PA’s historical rejectionism and intransigence to peace. Off made no mention about the specifics of the U.S. Peace to Prosperity deal that would give the Palestinians $50-billlion in a global investment fund, nor did she mention previous generous Israeli proposals for peace at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001, and at the Annapolis conference in 2008. The 2008 offer is particularly noteworthy as it included Gaza, almost all of the “West Bank” (with negotiated land swaps for the remainder) a capital in eastern Jerusalem, and statehood.

Off praised Erekat saying he was dedicated to the two-state solution and omitted mentioning that he proudly supported the so-called Palestinian “right of return,” a demographic ticking bomb that would see Israel overrun by millions of the descendants of Palestinian “refugees,” rendering the Jewish state no longer Jewish. The “right of return” is a euphemism and coded language for war and Israel’s destruction.
BBC’s ME editor promotes ‘apartheid’ trope in Erekat eulogy
Listeners then heard an archive recording from that interview conducted in September 2018; eleven months after Erekat’s lung transplant.

Erekat: “I think there is no longer a Palestinian moderate camp. There is no longer an Israeli peace camp. He succeeded in getting Palestinians and Israelis off the path of the two-state solution. Now the kids in my neighbourhood are being taught by Trump’s policies that if you claim something, grab it. Don’t be silly [and] wait for courts or solving problems by peaceful means or negotiations. Grab it.”

Bowen ended his piece with gratuitous promotion of one of Erekat’s most frequently promoted canards: a smear he employed long before the days of the current US administration.

Bowen: “Israeli and American negotiators have paid tribute to his passion, sincerity and tenacity. In recent years Saeb Erekat warned the alternative to Palestinian independence alongside Israel was a single state with separate systems for the two peoples. That, he warned, was apartheid.”

It is of course bad enough that BBC audiences hear apartheid smears from assorted Palestinian officials go unchallenged on a regular basis. The fact that the BBC’s Middle East editor thinks it appropriate to opportunistically amplify that unfounded canard is a grave testimony to the BBC’s supposed adherence to standards of accuracy and impartiality.
Even Sophia Loren as aging Auschwitz-survivor madame can’t save ‘The Life Ahead’
What a mother won’t do for her child! Sophia Loren, who recently turned 86, has achieved everything one can achieve in motion pictures, and hardly needs the hassle of early call times to set, just to sit around waiting for the lights to get tweaked. (Filmmaking, you should know, is tedious, tiring business.) But if it’s your son directing, and working from a book that’s already a proven winner when adapted to film, you say okay, okay, I’ll do it.

And that, I suspect, is why we have “The Life Ahead,” a weighty drama from Edoardo Ponti that says “get out of my way, there’s a star coming through.” It tells the story of Madame Rosa, a tough-as-nails former prostitute and Auschwitz survivor, who offers a kind of daycare to children of “working girls.” Now, at the end of her life, she forms a bond with an orphan thief named Momo, born in Senegal and living on the streets of Bari, Italy, who just needs some tough love to pull him from the criminal’s path.

The film debuted direct to Netflix this weekend, and even with the coronavirus pandemic ruining the typical “awards season” narrative, it accords Sophia Loren an opportunity to warm her skin with the red carpet spotlight one more time. It is her first movie since the musical “Nine” in 2009.
Dynamite German film charts the banality of always looking for meaning in Hitler
It is good and noble that so many filmmakers are committed to making documentaries that expose and confront the new wave of anti-Semitism and the alt-right. The only ones who suffer are people like me, who write about film for Jewish news outlets.

I watch a lot of these movies and, quite frankly, I’m not itching for any new ones. But one of the best I’ve seen that tackles this issue is “The Meaning of Hitler” from the team of Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker. The film was financed in part by Play/Action Pictures, a new company launched by Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Epperlein and Tucker were born on opposite sides of the planet, she in East Germany, he in Hawaii. Their 2004 film “Gunner Palace” brought footage back of soldiers stationed in Iraq that was sorely missing on the evening news. Maintaining contact with an Iraqi journalist who was jailed at Abu Ghraib led to their follow-up, “The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair.” As some of the soldiers from “Gunner Palace” returned home, the duo caught up with them again for the 2009 film “How To Fold A Flag.”

Epperlein got more autobiographical for the hyper-stylized, black-and-white (and, at times, kinda funny?) look at her father’s suicide and East Germany’s self-destructive obsession with surveillance with “Karl Marx City” in 2017. Their sharp and energetic shooting style has reached new heights for an unlikely subject, “The Meaning of Hitler.”
White supremacist, antisemitic leader Tom Metzger dies
Tom Metzger, a white supremacist and antisemitic leader, died November 4 in California at the age of 82, according to The New York Times. Metzger died of Parkinson's disease in a nursing home, according to a spokesperson for the Riverside County Department of Public Health.

"Tom Metzger spent decades working against core American values as one of the most visible hard-core white supremacists in the country,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, according to the Times. “Unfortunately, his brand of hate likely will still linger long after his death.”

Metzger organized neo-Nazis in the 80s and 90s, according to the Times. Metzger was seen as responsible for pioneering the use of radio and television to spread racist and antiemetic views. He had his own public-access cable television show and created a telephone hotline, published a newspaper and operated an electronic bulletin board where skinheads communicated with one another.

Metzger was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 70s, attaining the level of state leader for CA, the Times reported, before leaving the organization to found the White Aryan Resistance group, according to NBC Los Angeles. On its website, the group is described as "an educational repository on the benefits of racial separation, highlighting the dangers of multiculturalism and promoting racial identity and a territorial imperative."


Futuristic device from Israeli firm puts music in your head, without headphones
Imagine a world where you move around in your own personal sound bubble. You listen to your favorite tunes, play loud computer games, watch a movie or get navigation directions in your car — all without disturbing those around you.

That’s the possibility presented by “sound beaming,” a new futuristic audio technology from Noveto Systems, an Israeli company. On Friday it will debut a desktop device that beams sound directly to a listener without the need for headphones.

The company provided The Associated Press with an exclusive demo of the desktop prototype of its SoundBeamer 1.0 before its launch Friday.

The listening sensation is straight out of a sci-fi movie. The 3-D sound is so close it feels like it’s inside your ears while also in front, above and behind them.

Noveto expects the device will have plenty of practical uses, from allowing office workers to listen to music or conference calls without interrupting colleagues to letting someone play a game, movie or music without disturbing their significant others.

The lack of headphones means it’s possible to hear other sounds in the room clearly.
Digitizing odors, Israelis whiff future with ‘smellophone’ tech breakthrough
Israeli scientists say they have made a breakthrough that could pave the way for smellovision TVs, scented digital photos that have a whiff of vacation, and technology that can “print” any odor.

A Weizmann Institute team claims to have created a “smell map” that can determine how any odor will smell to humans based just on an examination of its molecular structure.

The researchers say this provides the theoretical framework to record the qualities of the smell as a set of numbers which can be used to recreate it by means of an electronic device that could be embedded in cellphones, computers, and elsewhere. They believe that a range of just 200 molecules is enough to recreate almost any smell on earth.

“Now, I believe we’re just a few years away from tel-e-smell — telephones that accurately record and recreate smells,” said Noam Sobel, the neurobiology professor behind the research, which has just been published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
How Tel Aviv rose to become one of the world’s largest tech hubs
Israel has global recognition as the “Startup Nation,” of the world, with the largest number of startups per capita anywhere. Not only that, Israel is also noticed for building better-than existing products through its startups. With one startup for every 1,400 people in Israel’s 8.5 million population, the country has around 6000 active startups and tech-related businesses like Ramotion, a branding and product design agency, where multidisciplinary digital product experts focus on branding, UI/UX design, mobile and web development. Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based investor platform, said “We don’t have huge natural resources, so we have worked hard to develop our skills-base in the country.”

Therefore, it is no surprise that the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) by Startup Genome included Tel Aviv among the six cities identified as tech hubs, after Silicon Valley. The other tech hubs are New York City, London, Beijing, Boston, and Shanghai. These are the earliest of the 30 “next hubs” that are expected to have less density than Silicon Valley, but will steer past the “critical mass”.

Moreover, Tel Aviv is able to show abundant application of knowledge in terms of patents, research, and favorable policy environments. Israeli startups, in fact, are applying innovative thinking in diverse areas, including cybersecurity, med-tech, agritech, autonomous driving, energy, machine learning, drones, aviation, travel, aerospace, among others.

They initially focused on cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data. As these tech hubs took off and rose toward the stars, Israel chose global food and nutrition as its next frontier on innovation. According to Israeli non-profit Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), Tel Aviv launched over 350 food-agri startups focused on “deep tech” innovation, during the past decade. This helped to position Israel as a key player in the food-agri tech sector, with a recent estimated industry value of $8.7 trillion.

This places Tel Aviv as second only to Silicon Valley, with entrepreneurs across the world, competing to connect with Israeli innovators.

It is widely believed that Israel’s focus on technology started seriously only in 2012. However, as early as 1998, Newsweek named Tel Aviv one of the ten technologically most influential cities in the world. By 2010, Israel had 140 scientists and technicians per 10,000 employees – one of the highest ratios in the world. And in 2012, an international study ranked Tel Aviv second only to Silicon Valley, as the best place in the world to launch a high-tech start-up company.
IsraAID Guatemala brings relief in wake of Tropical Storm Eta
Israeli humanitarian-aid agency IsraAID has launched an emergency response in Guatemala following Tropical Storm Eta, which has killed more than 150 people and affected the lives of some 200,000 of its residents.

IsraAID's locally based team arrived in Alta Verapaz, among the worst-affected areas in the Central American country, on Nov. 9, according to a report by Israel21c. The team immediately offered psychological first aid, medical support, relief items, hygiene kits, and water filters to those in need.

IsraAID has had a permanent team on the ground in Guatemala since the 2018 Volcán de Fuego eruption, which caused significant damage across the southern area of Escuintla.

This year, IsraAID Guatemala has provided guidance on psychosocial support and resilience to Guatemalan households in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with hygiene promotion and food distributions for vulnerable communities.

Eta first made landfall in neighboring Nicaragua on Nov. 3. Progressing slowly throughout the region, the storm brought heavy rains, flooding, and mudslides. Tens of thousands were evacuated from their homes, and over 7,000 relocated to temporary shelters.

"Alongside its immediate emergency response, IsraAID's team will perform a rapid needs assessment, focused on recovery needs in affected communities," said CEO Yotam Polizer.





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