Friday, November 20, 2020

From Ian:

Jonathan Pollard’s parole terminated, ex-spy free to travel to Israel
The US Justice Department on Friday declined to extend the parole of Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying on America for Israel, and the 66-year-old is now free to travel to the Jewish state.

Pollard’s attorneys Jacques Semmelman and Eliot Lauer issued a statement saying the US Parole Commission had notified their client of the termination, stating that he “is free to travel anywhere, including Israel, for temporary or permanent residence, as he wishes.”

Pollard responded to the news by telling reporters he was glad to be able to move to Israel where he will be able to care for his wife who is sick with cancer. He also expressed “appreciation and gratitude” to Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer for his help in bringing about the end to his parole.

Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for providing sensitive intelligence to Israel, made a public appeal to Netanyahu last year and asked him to intervene on his behalf to urge Trump to commute his parole, so he could care for his sick wife.

He told Channel 12 news at the time that his wife Esther had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer for the third time.

Pollard, a former civilian US Navy analyst, was given a life sentence in 1987 for passing secrets to Israel. His imprisonment was a longtime point of tension in Israeli-US relations, with Israeli and Jewish leaders petitioning their US counterparts for years in order to secure his release.


JPost Editorial: It's time to free Jonathan Pollard
The time has come to end the suffering and injustice.

On November 15, 2015, Jonathan Pollard was released on parole after serving 30 years of a life sentence for spying on the US on Israel’s behalf. He is the only American in US history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally, and the only one to serve more than 10 years in prison for the crime.

Pollard’s parole conditions since his release five years ago require him to wear an electronic GPS ankle bracelet at all times, to be subjected to unfettered monitoring and inspection of his computers, and prevent him from leaving his New York home before 7 am or return after 7 pm.

Pollard still has 10 years left of his life sentence. It was given before life sentences in America were reduced from 45 years, to the 30 that he served. Parole conditions lasting five years are considered standard.

Pollard’s sentence has been condemned as unjust and excessive by many American officials, including former CIA chief James Woolsey, who commented that “spies from friendly countries, like the Philippines and Greece, normally stay in prison in the US for just a few years.”

On Friday, unless the US Justice Department, in coordination with US intelligence bodies, extends Pollard’s severe parole restrictions, they will expire. The implications include the possibility that Pollard and his wife, Esther, will be allowed to leave New York, or even immigrate to Israel, which is their ultimate goal.

But as the Post’s Gil Hoffman reported this week, people close to Pollard are not hopeful that the restrictions will be relaxed.

“Under normal circumstances – that is, with any other prisoner, including spies for enemy nations, drug dealers, etc. – the five-year marker would have significance,” a source close to the Pollard said. “Provided that there were five years of good conduct, it would be honored immediately. But not for Israel’s agent. Nothing in this case has ever been handled according to normative legal practice.”
2011: Biden slammed for anti-Pollard comment
US Vice President Joe Biden faced criticism on Tuesday for his comments ruling out the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard. Biden told a group of Florida rabbis last week that he had advised US President Barack Obama against commuting the life sentence of Pollard, who has served nearly 26 years in prison.

“Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time,” Biden was quoted as saying by The New York Times. “If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.”
Melanie Phillips: How Nuremberg’s universalism undermined its noble aims
This weekend marks 75 years since the start of the Nuremberg tribunals, which tried leaders of Nazi Germany for their part in the Holocaust and other war crimes.

A clear line links these tribunals to the current possibility of an investigation into Israeli “war crimes” by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court and to the continuing uproar in Britain’s Labour Party over Jeremy Corbyn.

The Nuremberg tribunal, drawn from the victorious allies after the Second World War, was the first international criminal court in history. It held these Nazis to account for the newly created crime against humanity, as well as for other atrocities.

The principle it enshrined — that all of humanity would be guarded by an international legal shield — laid the foundations for modern international criminal law. This noble principle was fundamentally flawed.

Its visionary architects, such as the eminent British lawyer Hersch Lauterpacht, thought the way to save Jews and others from persecution was to trump national sovereignty by holding oppressors to account through international tribunals.

Others, however, such as the Lithuanian-born lawyer Jacob Robinson, fruitlessly warned that this was a trap because only national sovereignty would safeguard the Jews. “The basic guarantee of Jewish freedom is the democracy of the country where the Jews live,” he maintained.

The flaw in international law is that it is based on supposedly universal values. But the values that stand against savagery, sadism or dehumanisation are not held universally. They are the specific product of western societies and are based on the Hebrew Bible.

By superseding national sovereignty, human-rights universalism was bound to be innately hostile to the Jewish people, whose singular culture is always in the way of universalising doctrines.

States gain power over others if they form like-minded blocs. And since the majority of the world’s states are despotic, corrupt or murderous, any institutions that bring them together will create a force not for justice and freedom but for injustice and persecution.

That’s why trans-national institutions such as the United Nations or the International Criminal Court fail to hold to account the worst human-rights violators in the world, such as Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and scores of others, and instead train their sights on democratic, human rights-obsessed Israel.


Ruthie Blum: Christiane Amanpour, Jeremy Corbyn's ill-deserved reprieves – opinion
CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour and Britain’s former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn were given undeserved reprieves this week for behavior that should have sent them both packing for good.

Amanpour, whose unfettered leftist and anti-Israel slant has brought her decades of fame and fortune, managed on Monday to extinguish a fire of criticism that was coming at her from directions she hadn’t anticipated. The only effort it required was to issue what every media outlet in the world reported as an “apology” for the comments that elicited the brouhaha.

It was a neat trick, as remorse for her egregious sentiment – that US President Donald Trump is as dangerous as Adolf Hitler – was nowhere to be found in the clarification of her words about Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom against Jews in Germany and Austria in November 1938.

“This week 82 years ago, Kristallnacht happened,” Amanpour had said in her monologue last Friday. “It was the Nazis’ warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity, and in that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth. After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden-Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth.”

Jews and non-Jews alike were appalled at Amanpour’s analogy. The Endowment for Middle East Truth also pointed to her having referred to the Holocaust as “genocide against a whole identity,” rather than the targeted annihilation of Jews.

Amanpour’s bosses and CNN’s lawyers must have advised her to profess that she hadn’t meant to minimize the Holocaust. They likely warned her, as well, not to acknowledge any actual error or liability.

The veteran journalist performed damage-control by wrapping up her next broadcast as follows, “And finally tonight, a comment on my program at the end of last week. I observed the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, as I often do. It is the event that began the horrors of the Holocaust. I also noted President Trump’s attacks on history, facts, knowledge and truth. I should not have juxtaposed the two thoughts. Hitler and his evils stand alone, of course, in history. I regret any pain my statement may have caused. My point was to say how democracy can potentially slip away, and how we must always zealously guard our democratic values.”

In other words, though she “regrets” any pain she “may have caused” to, say, Jews who survived the tortures of Auschwitz – or their families – she still holds with the opinion that American democracy is in peril of “slipping away” if not “zealously guarded” from the likes of Trump. Her fans must be relieved. The rest of us, not so much.
Tom Gross: Conversations with friends: Alan Dershowitz on his life, career and the state of America
Alan Dershowitz is generally regarded as America’s most prominent constitutional lawyer, as well as a leading civil liberties advocate. Among those he has represented or acted as a consultant for were both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump when they were impeached. He is currently assisting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who the US is trying to extradite from London on criminal charges.

In this discussion with Tom Gross, whom he has known for 25 years, Prof. Dershowitz talks about his life and career, about some of the fascinating people he has met or represented, about ‘cancel culture’ and the current state of liberalism, and about the mistreatment of Israel. He explains why, though he is still a passionate Democrat, he believes Trump deserves a Nobel peace prize for his Mideast peace efforts. And how a Biden presidency may deal with the Mideast. And why he is suing CNN.
The Tikvah Podcast: Matti Friedman on the Russian Aliyah—30 Years Later
After a decades-long, worldwide campaign to free Soviet Jewry, in the late 1980s the borders of the Soviet Union were finally opened, allowing its Jews to immigrate to the State of Israel. This period saw approximately one million men and women from the former Soviet Union leave and resettle in the Jewish state. They came in fulfillment of Zionist aspirations, in search of material opportunities, and in pursuit of greater freedom.

At the time that the Russians arrived, Israel had fewer than five million citizens, and these new immigrants brought with them an entirely new set of cultural assumptions and practices. And they posed a religious challenge as well, as a great many of them qualified for Israeli citizenship, but did not qualify as Jewish under the requirements of Orthodox law.

How did they transform Israel? Its economy? Its culture? Its politics? And how did Israel transform them? In the three decades since they arrived, what has happened?

That’s the subject of Matti Friedman’s November 2020 essay in Mosaic, and in this podcast, he joins Mosaic’s editor to probe the miraculous story of the Russian Aliyah and what it teaches us about the exceptional spirit of Israeli society and Israeli citizenship.
President Emmanuel Macron Issues Charter To French Muslim Leaders Prohibiting Foreign Interference, Political Islam
French President Emmanuel Macron issued a charter to Muslim leaders that delineates restrictions intended to curb “Islamist separatism” in the country following multiple terror attacks, the BBC reported Thursday.

The “charter of republican values” must be accepted within 15 days by the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), which has agreed to create a National Council of Imams, according to the BBC. As part of France’s crackdown on radical Islamism, a stipulation of the agreement is official accreditation of imams, which can be withdrawn.

TOPSHOT – People lights candle outside the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice on October 29, 2020 in tribute to the three victims of a knife attacker, cutting the throat of at least one woman, inside the church of the French Riviera city. (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Other requirements in the charter include accepting Islam as a religious and not a political movement and banning “foreign interference” in Muslim groups, such as mosques.

“Two principles will be inscribed in black and white [in the charter]: the rejection of political Islam and any foreign interference,” a source told the Le Parisien newspaper following the Wednesday meeting between Macron, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and eight CFCM leaders.

The efforts come after multiple terror attacks in France in October, inclding the beheading of Samuel Paty, a teacher who was targeted after showing students the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published by the Charlie Hebdo satire magazine in 2015 during a lesson on freedom of speech. Roughly two weeks later, a Tunisian migrant killed three people at a church in Nice.
Ossoff Dodges on Warnock’s Praise for Anti-Semitic Pastor
Senate hopeful Jon Ossoff, who has repeatedly referred to himself and fellow Democrat Raphael Warnock as a "team" in Georgia's Senate runoffs, dodged questions on Warnock's longtime support for anti-Semitic pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Ossoff rebuffed multiple questions from the Washington Free Beacon regarding Warnock's past praise of Wright during a Wednesday campaign event in Marietta. Ossoff's campaign also failed to return multiple requests for comment on whether the Democrat considers Wright to be an anti-Semite.

The relationship between the two candidates could hamper Democratic hopes of winning a de facto Senate majority in January. During the same Wednesday event, Ossoff told reporters that he and Warnock are running as a "team," calling the pastor an "inspirational leader." The Democrat also called Warnock a "moral leader for our state and our country" at a Sunday campaign stop in Cobb County.

Warnock has come under fire for his role as a vocal defender of Wright's controversial 2003 "God Damn America" sermon, which likened the United States to al Qaeda and accused American officials of "inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." Warnock called the oration a "very fine sermon" in 2014.

Wright's infamous speech returned to national prominence during then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. Obama—Wright's onetime congregant at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago—quickly rejected the pastor's remarks, saying they "rightly offend all Americans" and "should be denounced." Warnock, however, refused to retract his past support for Wright during a recent MSNBC appearance and evaded a question about whether Wright is an anti-Semite. The Chicago pastor in 2009 blamed "them Jews" for driving a wedge between himself and Obama.

"Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me," Wright said. "They will not let him talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is."
Soros-linked group that advocates defunding the police campaigns for Democratic Georgia Senate candidate Raphael Warnock
A far-left activist group that strongly supports defunding the police is holding phone bank events for Georgia Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock.

“Team WFP is kicking off our runoff election text banking for @ReverendWarnock in Georgia TONIGHT from 6-9pm ET,” the Georgia chapter of the Working Families Party retweeted last week along with a link to a virtual text bank.

“There is so much at stake, in Georgia and our country as a whole,” a webpage for the GA WAFP with several events listed this week reads. “Join us in calling to make sure everyone in Georgia votes in the runoff election for Rev. Warnock.”

The organization, which lists Warnock as one of its endorsed candidates on their website and has been backed by Hungarian billionaire George Soros in the past, supports what it refers to as the “People’s Charter,” which demands that government “shift resources away from policing, jails and detention centers, endless wars and agencies that separate families” and instead direct those resources to “schools, housing, healthcare and jobs, to enable all people — especially Black and brown people, immigrants, and Indigenous people — to thrive.”

The charter has been signed by some of the most liberal members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

“We’ve always said that electing Joe Biden was a doorway, not a destination,” National Director of WFP Maurice Mitchell said earlier this year. “The People’s Charter is that destination.”
Top contender for Biden’s press secretary is an Israelophobe
Jean-Pierre’s promotion of “cancel culture” is antithetical to Biden’s promise to be for all Americans.

- In her Newsweek op-ed, Jean-Pierre also labeled AIPAC’s rightful opposition to the catastrophic 2015 Iran nuclear deal as “attempts to ruin the Iran deal” and as AIPAC support for an unnamed group that “spread anti-Muslim racism.” Someone who accuses opponents of the Iran deal (the majority of the American public) of supporting anti-Muslim racism is not fit to serve as the press secretary for an administration that vowed to serve all Americans.

- In her op-ed, Jean-Pierre also again falsely accused AIPAC of “alarming” Islamophobic rhetoric. “The organization [AIPAC] has become known for trafficking in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric while lifting up Islamophobic voices and attitudes.” How can Jean-Pierre possibly serve all Americans when she makes such absurd accusations against AIPAC, an organization that generally leans to the left on key Israeli sovereignty issues (e.g., the Jewish people’s right to live in our historic lands in Judea and Samaria) and delayed supporting the Taylor Force Act?

- In the same op-ed, she condemned speakers at the AIPAC conference who appropriately criticized the then-freshman anti-Israel members in Congress—e.g., Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Omar’s “Squad” needs to be condemned if America is to remain a place where anti-Semitism is unacceptable. By taking the side of the anti-Semites, Jean-Pierre revealed that she cannot represent an administration that has promised to be “for all Americans.”

- Also in her Newsweek op-ed, Jean-Pierre promoted the blood libel that “Israel may have committed war crimes in its attacks on Gazan protesters.” She thus falsely maligned Israel for ethically defending Israeli citizens against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists bent on invading Israel.

- In a November 2019 op-ed in Vogue, Jean-Pierre called the Trump administration “a regime of white supremacy” and promoted the infamous Charlottesville, Va., hoax for saying “very fine people on both sides” of a neo-Nazi-led rally that turned violent. Someone who makes such unfounded accusations against an administration supported by more than 70 million Americans is not an appropriate spokesperson for a president of “all” Americans.

This issue, of course, is larger than the potential appointment of anti-Semite Karine Jean-Pierre as press secretary. A potential Biden administration needs to exercise great care to assure that its appointments reflect Biden’s foremost promise to be a president for all Americans.
Berkeley Prof Compares Trump Supporters to Germans Under Nazi Rule
A visiting professor at the University of California Berkeley compared President Donald Trump's supporters to Germans who turned a blind eye to the Holocaust.

Joyce Carol Oates, an author and English professor, said Trump's supporters treat the coronavirus pandemic with "indifference," much like Germans who submitted to Nazi rule, in a tweet on Thursday.

"[F]or many pro-T***p Americans, the pandemic is like the Holocaust to many Germans: they knew what was happening but adjusted to living with it in indifference or, in some cases, profiting from it," Oates tweeted. "[O]nly if affected personally do people seem to care."

Oates, an outspoken atheist and ardent opponent of religion, came under fire for a 2013 tweet in which she linked the "predominant religion" of Egypt—Islam—to the country's high rates of sexual harassment and rape.
Eyeing simpatico White House, J Street readies to lobby for Iran deal reentry
Roughly four years ago, J Street was on the outside looking in as the newly inaugurated Trump administration began to draft its foreign policy agenda.

This would eventually include appointing an ambassador to Israel who called members of the liberal, pro-Israel lobby “far worse than Kapos,” a reference to Jews who were forced to collaborate with the Nazis during the Holocaust. David Friedman went on to apologize for the 2016 op-ed during his confirmation hearing and even met with the advocacy group several months later, but J Street’s access and influence in the Trump administration largely ended there.

The group established 13 years ago to galvanize members of Congress and the American Jewish community around diplomatic initiatives promoting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict quickly found itself stonewalled by the Republican administration, which initially refrained from backing the long-accepted paradigm for peace at all.

During his four years in office, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the US embassy there, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, slashed aid to the Palestinian Authority, ended funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, repudiated a State Department position deeming settlements illegal, unveiled a peace plan that envisions Israel’s annexing those West Bank communities and on Thursday issued guidelines requiring US exports from Israeli controlled areas of the West Bank to be labeled “made in Israel” — all positions that J Street opposed.
J Street Buzzards Circling the White House
Trump worked with alacrity to undo the damage done during Obama’s tenure. He extricated the United States from Obama’s Iran deal and complied with U.S. law by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, promptly relocating the embassy there. Trump also acknowledged reality when he recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, the plateau from which prior to 1967 Syria shelled Israeli communities perched below. Finally, the Trump administration negated UNSC resolution 2334 by publicly expressing the view that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria were not per se inconsistent with international law.

Trump then transformed political rhetoric into action when he authorized Ambassador David Friedman to revise three decades-old agreements, enabling researchers in settlements to apply for U.S. government funds. The modification of these agreements opened up Judea and Samaria to academic, commercial and scientific engagement with the United States. Friedman symbolically chose the city of Ariel, situated in Samaria, as the venue to announce the new U.S. policy. In a further step toward negating UNSC resolution 2334, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a historic and courageous trip to the Psagot winery, which is located beyond the green line, just north of Jerusalem. During his visit, Pompeo announced that the U.S. will allow goods produced in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to be labeled products of Israel as opposed to the West Bank.

All these tangible political achievements accomplished during Trump’s tenure are now in jeopardy with election of Joe Biden, whose November win is facing substantial legal challenges that will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Of grave concern are people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, radical, anti-Israel extremists, who wield considerable influence within the Biden team. Equally concerning is Avril Haines, Obama’s deputy CIA director, who is part of Biden’s transition team and will head foreign policy and national security. As FrontPage’s Daniel Greenfield notes,

“In May, Haines joined other Obama staffers in signing on to a letter by the J Street anti-Israel lobby that complained that previous Democratic National Convention platforms had been ‘silent on the rights of Palestinians, on Israeli actions that undermine those rights and the prospects for a two-state solution.’”

In the meantime, the J Street buzzards are circling and salivating, waiting for their opportunity squirm their way back into the inner sanctum of the decision makers.


Lord Desai’s principled resignation from Labour over Sir Keir’s handling of antisemitism shows Party is not making progress under its new leader
Lord Desai has resigned from the Labour Party over its antisemitism crisis, and in particular over Jeremy Corbyn’s rapid and controversial readmission following the former Leader’s suspension.

In a letter to The Times Lord Desai, an economist who was made a peer in 1991, wrote: “Sir, You are right to be worried about the likelihood of success of the policies of the leader of the Labour Party to fight antisemitism. I agree with you that this makes the persistence of antisemitism more likely than not. I have submitted my resignation from the Labour Party after 49 years of membership.”

Mr Corbyn was suspended for downplaying antisemitism in the wake of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) damning report into anti-Jewish racism in the Labour Party last month, but was readmitted less than three weeks later, using a fast-track disciplinary process that the EHRC had declared unfit for purpose. Sir Keir Starmer has, however, not restored the whip to Mr Corbyn, from which he will be suspended for three months.

Lord Desai also said of this series of events: “It was a very peculiar decision to allow him back without any apology. He has been refused the party whip in the House of Commons for a few months, but that is a very lame response to a very big crisis,” adding: “I have been very uncomfortable and slightly ashamed that the party has been injected with this sort of racism. Jewish MPs were abused openly, and female members were trolled. It is out and out racism.”

Lord Desai’s resignation is the first over antisemitism under Sir Keir’s leadership, and is reminiscent of the MPs and peers who resigned from the Party over antisemitism when Mr Corbyn was Leader.


The abuse of Truth and the abuse of Jews
Those who cheat and lie usually justify it as redress for some, usually imagined, wrong. In their own minds, they are the truth-tellers, the intelligent, and, yes, the “elites”.

They are the virtue-signallers and the most (supposedly) virtuous among them tell the biggest lies.

If people get away with lying about one or two things, it seems that makes it easier to lie about other things, especially if corrupt media or political parties readily accept and promote their lies. Query whether serial liars are more open to lying about the Jewish people and/or Israel? What do we know about the neuroscience of lying and how can we apply this to anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism?

In a psychological study headed by Bruno Verschuere of Ghent University in Belgium and reported by Anil Ananthaswamy in NewScientist in February 2011, scientists tested the theory that our brains are naturally better at telling the truth than lying, but repeated lying can overcome our tendency for veracity, making subsequent lying easier – and possibly undetectable.

Ananthaswamy notes that neuroimaging studies have shown that people’s brains show considerably more activity when they are lying than when they are not, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, suggesting that lying requires extra cognitive control and inhibition of truth-telling

The scientists studied whether the brain’s so-called “dominant truth response” can be changed, The researchers found that the frequent liars became more adept at lying. The normal difference in reaction times between telling the truth and lying disappeared.

Ewout Meijer of Maastricht University in the Netherlands states : “In people who lie a lot in real life [such as pathological liars], this dominant truth response might not be as strong as we theorise,”

In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, and reported by Alice Park in October, 2016 in Time magazine, Tali Sharot from the department of experimental psychology at University College London and her colleagues devised a study to test people’s dishonest tendencies while scanning their brains in an fMRI machine.

They found that when people were dishonest, activity in a part of the brain called the amygdala—the hub of emotional processing and arousal—changed. In their tests of subjects who were lying, the more they lied, the less activated the amygdala was on the fMRI. The study seems to show that lying triggers emotional arousal and activates the amygdala, but with each additional lie, the arousal and conflict of telling an untruth diminishes, making it easier to lie.
StandWithUs Applauds Revisions to California Ethnic Studies Curriculum, Urges Further Improvements
StandWithUs is encouraged by revisions to California's Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), which were approved on November 18th and 19th by the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC).

The IQC adopted multiple recommendations submitted by StandWithUs. Those changes include the removal of a widely criticized lesson which framed the Jewish community has having "gained racial privilege," while ignoring antisemitism and white supremacist violence against Jews. We look forward to submitting further recommendations during the next public review period.

"Positive changes were made to include Jews and add safeguards against hate and bias in the curriculum," said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs. "While the curriculum is headed in the right direction, there are still key changes we all have to fight for. Among the most important is a strong definition of antisemitism in all its forms, rather than a weak definition that caters to the biases of anti-Israel extremists."

The IQC meeting included two hours of public comment on November 18th, with members of the public calling in. Numerous Jewish students spoke, stressing the importance of educating about all forms of antisemitism and the diversity of the Jewish community. Meanwhile, anti-Israel commenters smeared Jewish groups, equated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the Holocaust, and opposed efforts to make the curriculum more balanced and inclusive. Their hatred and ignorance showed exactly why the ESMC must include a strong definition of antisemitism.

The California Department of Education (CDE) is expected to post the next draft of the curriculum for public review in December. StandWithUs will continue to work with students, parents, concerned citizens, and partner organizations across California to improve the ESMC.
SF State University’s student government passes Israel boycott resolution
The student government at San Francisco State University has approved a divestment resolution targeting Israel that would have the school pull out of investments in companies that do business in Israeli settlements.

Following a lengthy and contentious public comment period, Associated Students passed the measure in a 17-1 vote with two abstentions. Nearly two dozen speakers had offered testimonies on both sides of the resolution.

The passage of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution is expected to increase tensions between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students on campus, who have already seen one major dust-up this semester. A number of Jewish groups condemned its passage, including the Jewish Community Relations Council and the San Francisco Hillel.

Student government resolutions are not binding on the school.

The resolution does not name specific companies but refers to a national list of more than 100 firms that conduct business within the Palestinian territories. They include American corporations such as Airbnb, General Mills and Expedia, as well as some foreign companies. The list was created by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in February.

At an Oct. 28 meeting, student government representative James Aguilar said he had reviewed San Francisco State’s investments and did not find university ties to any corporation on the UN list. Other representatives during the meeting suggested adding language to the BDS resolution that would prevent future investments. The amended language was approved as part of Wednesday’s vote.
SFSU Student Government Passes BDS Resolution
San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) student government passed a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution on November 18.

According to journalist Gabriel Lorenzo Greschler, the resolution passed with 17 votes in favor, one against and two abstentions.

The resolution, which was authored by the university’s General Union of Palestinian Students, calls for the university to divest from more than 100 companies that conduct business with Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to the Jewish News of Northern California.

Jewish groups denounced the passage of the resolution. The Stop Antisemitism.org watchdog tweeted that the resolution’s passage shows that “San Francisco State University prioritizes terror and hatred over the safety of their Jewish students.”

San Francisco Hillel Executive Director Rachel Nilson Ralston said in a statement to the Journal, “This resolution has, sadly, had a real and negative impact on our students’ wellness and experience of their campus. Their health, safety, and inclusion remain SF Hillel’s biggest concern. This resolution was particularly upsetting, given the challenges they’ve already faced this semester and the fact that the resolution is symbolic. Those actually responsible for SF State’s investments will not let BDS resolutions affect their stewardship. But BDS’s real danger is that it seeks to influence the open hearts and minds of tomorrow’s leaders from a one-sided, deeply biased narrative against Israel.”

Ralston praised Jewish students for speaking out against the resolution despite “facing appalling attacks against their identity, Israel’s right to exist, and Jewish self-determination,” and she was glad there was “nuance and curiosity in our closed-door conversations with student government representatives.” However, student government leaders faced “extreme pressure and bullying tactics from activists from across the country who showed up to support this biased platform. The fact that the chat had to be shut down because of the constant onslaught of hateful comments (like “Death to Israel” and “Long Live the Intifada!”) and that the fact that representatives voted unanimously to vote by secret ballot demonstrates how toxic the environment is. It’s why we’re continuing our efforts with SF State to take bold action to improve the campus discourse,” Ralston said.
SJP at Northeastern University Promotes US-Designated Terrorist Group
The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at Northeastern University in Boston has promoted via social media the US-designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

In a since-deleted Instagram post featuring a graphic titled “Reading is for radicals” is the text: “SJP will be reading through different strategies and theory of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. This is a welcoming and accountable space where we can learn and grow with one another.”

Pro-Israel groups working on campus reacted to the post, saying it is “highly concerning” and glorifies violence.

“The PFLP is a designated terrorist organization responsible for the mass murder of civilians from Israel, America and beyond,” StandWithUs Co-Founder and CEO Roz Rothstein told JNS. “It is telling that SJP would promote an event to ‘read through’ the PFLP’s ‘strategies and theory,’ using imagery that glorifies gun violence. Northeastern University should unequivocally condemn SJP and this event.”

The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at Northeastern University in Boston has promoted the US-designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Photo: Courtesy.

Hali Spiegel, CAMERA’s director of campus programming and strategic relationships, told JNS, “PFLP terrorists have killed and injured hundreds of civilians in terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings. To cite just one example, the group sent a Palestinian teenager to blow up himself and others in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market in 2004. SJP’s glorification of such an organization and its propaganda is nothing less than an affront to Israeli students on campus.”


BBC again waits for Israeli response before reporting Golan incident
The report suggests false linkage between the incident and an unconnected visit to the region by the US Secretary of State.

“The latest strikes took place hours before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to arrive in Israel for a three-day visit.”

Notably, while no information is provided concerning the failure of both the 2017 Russian ‘safe zones’ plan and the UN forces responsible for overseeing the demilitarised zone between Israel and Syria to prevent this latest Iranian initiated incident and the previous one, the BBC chose to amplify the following statement from inadequately identified sources:

“Western intelligence sources suggest Israel has stepped up strikes on Syria this year with US approval, in an effort to check Iran’s military reach.”

To date the BBC has shown remarkably little interest in informing its audiences of the activities of Iran and its proxies and partners in the area adjoining Israel’s border with Syria.
Guardian maligns Israel with 'ultra-nationalist' label
If you Google the words “Israel’s ultra-nationalist government” you get almost no hits, save Richard Silverstein’s conspiratorial and widely mocked blog, and the radical left site CounterPunch.

Oh, sorry, we left one site out: The Guardian.

Today’s article by Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes (“Will Trump’s major foreign policy legacy be Israel and Palestine?”, Nov. 19) opened with the following sentences:

Donald Trump has cast himself as an isolationist president focused on Americans. However, in one major foreign policy issue, Israel and Palestine, the US leader has possibly made more of an impact than any of his predecessors.

The list is long but has generally focused on making concessions to Israel’s ultra-nationalist government, weakening the Palestinians, and pressuring Arab states to end regional isolation of Israel.


The term “ultra-nationalism” is a term referring to “extreme” forms of nationalism, which is often associated with political parties promoting fascism, xenophobia and racism – such as the Greek party Golden Dawn. or the Alternative For Germany (AfD) party.

It can’t reasonably be argued that Israel’s government (rated democratic and free year after year by Freedom House) is fascist or in any way leaning towards such an undemocratic, extremist orientation. The current government is of course a unity government consisting of centrist Blue and White, right-wing Likud, ultra-Orthodox parties and a couple of smaller parties.

The only MK in the current government – consisting of 73 MKs – that can even arguably be described as “ultra-nationalist” is Education Minister Rafi Peretz of the Jewish Home Party.
Reviewing BBC Middle East Educational Videos – Part Six
Previously (see ‘related articles’ below) we have discussed five videos created by the BBC in 2004 (and still available in the UK) within the framework of its ‘Bitesize’ online study support resource which includes material relating to the GCSE exams taken by high school students in parts of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

One of the sections offered under the history category is titled ‘The Middle East class clips’ and it includes seven videos. The sixth video (chronologically) is titled “Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982”.

Like the previous videos, this one too is presented by the former BBC Northern Ireland journalist Noel Thompson. The outside contributors to this video are Amram Mitzna – presented as “Head of the Israeli Defence Force Central Command 1986 – 1990” – and Yezid Sayigh – presented as “Professor, Centre for International Studies, Cambridge University” – who appeared in some of the earlier films. Once again the fact that Sayigh has advised and represented the Palestinians in the past is not revealed to viewers of these videos aimed at 14 to 16 year-olds.

The third contributor to this BBC educational film is a journalist. The late Robert Fisk – who is presented as “Middle East correspondent, the Independent” – had established his anti-Israel animus well in advance of his participation in this BBC production but nevertheless was chosen to appear as one of the supposedly neutral ‘experts’ explaining Middle East history to British schoolchildren.
Appeal by Accused Killers of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll to Drop Antisemitism Charge Rejected by French Court
Two men accused of robbing and murdering an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor in Paris in 2018 have failed in their court bid to have the aggravating circumstance of antisemitism removed from the charge sheet.

Lawyers for 31-year-old Yacine Mihoub — one of the two men charged with the violent killing of Mireille Knoll in her Paris apartment on March 23, 2018 — argued that the accusation of antisemitism had been fabricated by his partner in the killing, 26-year-old Alex Carrimbacus, who was said to have told police that Mihoub believed Jews were wealthy and therefore legitimate targets for robbery.

However, the Paris Court of Appeal rejected the plea on Thursday, concluding that a discussion between the two assailants that invoked antisemitic tropes about Jews was “plausible.”

Gilles-William Goldnadel — the lawyer for Mireille Knoll’s family — told French media outlets that the court decision had come as a “relief.”

Thursday’s appeal followed the announcement in July that Mihoub and Carrimbacus would stand trial on a charge of murder aggravated by antisemitism. The two men were charged with having murdered Knoll — who survived the mass deportation by the Nazis of the Jews of Paris in 1942 — after deciding that she would have plenty of money as she was Jewish.

Firefighters who arrived at Knoll’s building on the night of her murder to answer an emergency call discovered her partially-burned body with 11 stab wounds.
Two years after shooting, Pittsburgh becomes hub for white supremacists
In the days after the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history, Pittsburgh became a symbol of the enduring dangers of hatred, as well as the Jewish communal solidarity that followed the synagogue shooting.

Two years later, the city has become a symbol and pilgrimage site of a far more insidious sort: for white supremacists who see the Tree of Life gunman as an inspiration.

Those who monitor extremist activity say Pittsburgh has become a hub for white supremacist activity. In just the past several weeks, a white supremacist group held a march down a main boulevard there. About 100 people attended a white supremacist music festival in the area. A vocal white supremacist who had posted a call online to murder local Jews was released from prison. And flyers with white nationalist slogans have papered the city.

“We have, since 2018, seen a dramatic increase in white supremacist-related violent incidents and in the overall presence of white supremacists within our [area],” John Pulcastro, an FBI supervisory intelligence analyst, said at a symposium last week at Duquesne University’s Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law. His comments were first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“If anyone thinks that this is not a huge issue in this area, having worked this for over 20 years, I can tell you this area is as worse as any that I have seen throughout the entire country,” he said. “It’s very, very important to understand that it is here.”
German prosecutors seek life sentence for Halle synagogue shooter
Prosecutors on Wednesday demanded life behind bars for a man accused of killing two people in an anti-Semitic attack in the German city of Halle last year.

Stephan Balliet, 28, is accused of trying to storm a synagogue filled with worshippers in the attack on October 9, 2019, during Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

After failing to break down the door, the attacker shot dead a female passer-by and a man at a kebab shop instead.

“The attack on the synagogue in Halle was one of the most repulsive anti-Semitic acts since World War II,” prosecutor Kai Lohse told a court in Magdeburg.

Lohse said Balliet had acted on the basis of a “racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic ideology” to carry out an attack against not only those he killed but “Jewish life in Germany as a whole.”

The events that unfolded were like a “nightmare,” he added.

“At the end of this nightmare, the perpetrator murdered two people and injured and traumatized numerous others.”
California High School Outrages Jewish Community Once Again With Latest Antisemitism Scandal
A California high school that has been plagued by antisemitic activity was in the spotlight again in Friday after its principal revealed that students had been subjected to another wave of offensive social media posts, including Holocaust denial, homophobic epithets and threats of rape.

In an email to parents earlier this week, David Sondheim — principal of Redwood High School in Marin County — said that the most recent social media posts “targeted our Jewish students and families with hateful messages including references to false claims the Holocaust never happened, rape and homophobia. The accounts also followed Jewish students and asked Jewish students to follow the accounts.”

The disclosure marks the second time this year that Redwood High School has been called out for antisemitism among its students.

In September, an Instagram account that named specific Jewish students in Marin was unearthed. The account, which has now been removed, was named “Redwood students organized (against) semitism” and was accompanied by an antisemitic caricature.

Tara Taupier — superintendent of the Tamalpais Union High School District — told the Northern Californian Jewish news outlet J-Weekly that it was not clear who was behind the latest outrages on social media, but that they had utilized the same images that appeared on the Instagram account.
Australian celebrity chef dropped by publisher, TV show over neo-Nazi post
Pete Evans, an Australian celebrity chef, has lost his book publisher and was dropped from a TV show after he shared a neo-Nazi symbol on Instagram.

This isn’t the first time Evans, who promotes the paleo diet, has sparked backlash. He has denied that he is a neo-Nazi and the post appears to be deleted.

In May, he was criticized for promoting the coronavirus conspiracy theories of David Icke, a Holocaust denier. Icke also believes that the world is secretly controlled by a race of lizard people known as reptilians. Evans has also called COVID-19 a “hoax.”

Despite those controversies, Evans’ books were still widely sold and he was set to appear on a reality show called “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here,” according to the Guardian.

But he is being condemned after sharing a cartoon on Instagram featuring a caterpillar wearing a “Make American Great Again” hat talking to a butterfly emblazoned with a black sun symbol called the “sonnenrad.”

The Anti-Defamation League defines the sonnenrad as a neo-Nazi symbol and says it “is one of a number of ancient European symbols appropriated by the Nazis in their attempt to invent an idealized ‘Aryan/Norse’ heritage.”


UAE views Israel as a strategic cybersecurity partner, says head of national cyber authority
"We want to learn from Israel. You have built a very successful ecosystem that includes the creation of technology, with small and medium-sized companies that become big entities and aid all the systems and strengthen cybersecurity across the world, creating a safe and secure environment for all businesses to operate in," Mohammad Al Kuwaiti, the Executive Director of the UAE's National Electronic Security Authority said in an interview with Calcalist.

Al Kuwaiti joined the NESA in 2013 as the Executive Director of Government Operations, where he managed the national and international government relations. He held various positions there including the Executive Director of Operations Analysis and Cyber Security. Previously, he served as the Chief Technical Analyst at the Ministry of Interior and was also stationed at The Embassy of The United Arab Emirates – Defense, Air, and Naval Military Attaché Office in Washington, D.C.

Mohammad Al Kuwaiti, the Executive Director of the UAE's National Electronic Security Authority. Photo: Courtesy Mohammad Al Kuwaiti, the Executive Director of the UAE's National Electronic Security Authority. Photo: Courtesy

"The UAE went from being an electronic government to being a mobile government and now a smart government. The visionaries in our leadership are now pushing to become an artificial intelligence government," said Al Kuwaiti. "We want all our citizens to be able to run their business and activity from their cell phone."

Al Kuwaiti said the UAE has been dealing with a variety of cyberattacks, including ransomware, zero-day, DoDS (denial of service) and phishing.

"There are many threats, including organized attackers from Iran and Russia. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize which country the attack is coming from and that takes a lot of work," explained Al Kuwaiti.

Israeli cybersecurity companies were active in the UAE through their international branches even before the countries agreed to establish full diplomatic relations this past summer. However, Al Kuwaiti said that activity has intensified significantly since the Abraham Accords were signed.
Erdan talks combating anti-Semitism with NBA player, Erdogan critic Enes Kanter
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan and NBA player Enes Kanter met on Monday and discussed joining forces to combat anti-Semitism and raise awareness of alleged human rights violations in the Boston Celtics center’s native Turkey.

The meeting and its announcement by the Israeli UN mission appeared to be the latest jab in an endless back-and-forth between Jerusalem and Ankara, which still maintain diplomatic relations, but regularly spar on the world stage.

In September, Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan aggressively censured Israel during an address to the UN General Assembly, accusing the Jewish state of extending its “dirty hand” over Jerusalem and prompting a walkout from Erdan.

Erdan said he invited Kanter to join a campaign he is leading against anti-Semitism.

“In Israel, we see sports as a bridge that can connect people and cultures and not separate them, so it was important for me to hear Enes’ personal story and enlist his help in any way I can,” Erdan said, according to a press release from the Israeli UN mission. “By contrast, Turkey’s Erdogan prefers to support and embrace Hamas terrorists by offering them citizenship instead of supporting athletes who advocate for human rights.”
Israel Defeats Scotland 1-0 in UEFA Nations League Clash With Goal From Rising Star Manor Solomon
A goal from striker Manor Solomon in the dying minutes of the first half was enough to steer Israel to a 1-0 victory over Scotland in their UEFA Nations League clash on Wednesday.

Scotland arrived for the match at the Netanya municipal stadium flush from their win over Serbia in Belgrade the previous week and they exuded confidence as the game got underway. Israeli goalkeeper Ofir Marciano brilliantly saved a backward header from midfielder John McGinn as he connected with a corner kick in one of several dangerous spells for the home side. But moments later, Solomon received a precision pass from Eran Zahavi, twisting his path through the Scottish defense before firing a shot past goalkeeper David Marshall.

Israel almost doubled its lead as the second half began, with a narrow miss from Zahavi. Sitting deep for the remainder of the tie, Israel kept its opponents at bay, leaving Scotland manager Steve Clarke ruing an “opportunity missed.”

Solomon’s performance and spectacular goal have again focused attention on the 21-year-old Kfar Saba native, who currently plays for top Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. Last month, Solomon scored the winning goal for Shakhtar in its 3-2 UEFA Champions League win over Spanish champions Real Madrid.

In an interview with The Guardian on Wednesday, Solomon expressed confidence that Israel’s national soccer team would eventually qualify for a major international competition — something it has failed to do since the 1970 World Cup in Brazil.

“We have to overcome this and look forward. We have great young players, we have a good generation now and we could do this in the future,” Solomon said.
Guy Pearce steals show as art forger who fooled Goering in ‘The Last Vermeer’
How much you might enjoy the first hour of “The Last Vermeer” might be measured by how familiar you are with the name Han van Meegeren. If, like me, you had somehow never come across this footnote in Dutch postwar history, you might find yourself thinking “this is all very interesting, but why is this a movie?” And then there is the “aha!” moment. Luckily, it is only one such “aha!” so there’s not much damage if I spoil it here.

Han van Meegeren gets a movie made about him because he was probably the most successful art forger of all time. He created and successfully sold several paintings to some of the most prestigious people in the art world, passing them off as lost works by the 17th-century Golden Age master, Johannes Vermeer. And he would have gotten away with it, too, had he not sold one, at a tremendous price point, to Hermann Goering. (Goering may have just been trying to impress his boss, Adolf Hitler, who had two Vermeers, one of which was stolen from the Rothschild family.)

When the war ended, a Dutch Jew and resistance fighter with the Canadian forces named Joseph Piller was part of an investigative team looking into plundered goods. He arrested van Meegeren on the charge of collaboration with the enemy, and for making a bundle by selling one of Holland’s great treasures. In time, Piller became his greatest advocate.

To tell the story of a faker means you shouldn’t play it straight. British-Australian actor Guy Pearce, one of those people you have seen in a zillion projects but doesn’t really have a signature role, is outstanding as the rakish, charming, but not-quite-trustworthy swindler. Every line reading, every facial expression is just this close to going over the line into camp, but Pearce knows just how far to arch his eyebrows before breaking the spell. As he spins yarns about his youth as an artist crossing swords with critics, and later attending parties during the Nazi occupation, there is that seen-it-all, done-it-all sophistication that would be insufferable in real life but is delicious in a movie


Apple TV+ to Premiere Its Second Israeli Series, ‘Losing Alice,’ in January
Apple TV+ announced on Thursday that it would premiere its second Israeli series, the eight-episode show “Losing Alice,” this coming January.

The first three episodes of the neo-noir psychological thriller will begin streaming on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, with the following episodes premiering weekly on Fridays.

Apple acquired global rights to “Losing Alice” in June from the show’s creator, writer and director Sigal Avin after it aired on HOT in Israel.

It first premiered at the We Are One: A Global Film Festival and was featured as part of this year’s Cannes Series lineup.

It will now stream globally, in Hebrew with English subtitles, on Apple TV+ as part of a co-production deal with Israel’s Dori Media in association with HOT.

“Losing Alice” tells the story of a 48-year-old film director named Alice (Ayelet Zurer) who becomes obsessed with a 24-year-old screenwriter femme fatale, Sophie (Lihi Kornowski), “and eventually surrenders her moral integrity in order to achieve power, relevance and success,” Apple TV+ said in a press release.
Tel Aviv ranked world's 5th most expensive city
The Economist has ranked Tel Aviv the world's fifth most expensive city in its Worldwide Cost of Living Survey. The newspaper conducted its annual examination of the cost of a basket of 138 essential products in 133 cities worldwide.

The benchmark for comparison is New York, which receives 100 points. Paris, Hong Kong, and Zurich were in a three-way tie with 103 points each, all ahead of New York in terms of cost of living. Singapore used to be at the top of the rankings but has moved down to 4th place as a result of the many foreign workers who left the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Osaka and Tel Aviv both received 101 points, tying for fifth place.

"The pandemic has transformed consumer behavior, as lockdowns and trends such as working from home have increased the prices of consumer electronics and meal-at-home kits have taken the place of restaurant dining for middle-class families," said Upasana Dutt, head of worldwide cost of living at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
ISRAEL21c’s guide to 5 secret gardens of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is graced with magnificent public gardens, most notably the 30-acre Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and the Wohl Rose Garden.

Israel’s capital city also has what we’d call “hidden” gardens – beautifully manicured spaces that are not well known and can take a little sleuthing to locate.

It’s well worth getting off the beaten track to experience these gems. For now, you can enjoy looking at them from afar if you can’t get to Jerusalem.

Special thanks to veteran tour guides Ester Saad and Mordechai Weiss for steering us to these secret gardens, and to our student intern Danya Belkin for photographing some of them.

If you know of other hidden Jerusalem gardens, please tell us about them in the comments section.

MOUNT SCOPUS BOTANICAL GARDEN Yes, there is another botanical garden in Jerusalem! The Botanical Garden for Israeli Flora on the campus of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus is older, though smaller. It was founded in 1931 by university botanist Prof. Otto Verburg and botany and phytogeography expert Alexander Eig.





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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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