Wednesday, January 06, 2021

From Ian:

Pizza-sized boxes and paying a premium: Israel's COVID-19 vaccine rollout
A universal public healthcare system, which requires every resident to be covered by a healthcare maintenance organisation (HMO) and connected to a nationwide digital network, then kicks in.

Ran Balicer, chief innovation officer for HMO Clalit, said Israel has integrated infrastructures of digital data with “full coverage of the entire population, cradle to grave.”

“So it is easy both to identify the right target population and to create data-driven ‘outreach’ because this is something that is done as our everyday care routine,” said Balicer, who also chairs the government’s expert advisory coronavirus panel.

Administering about 150,000 shots a day at clinics and special facilities, Israel has prioritised over-60s, health workers and people with medical conditions. The city of Haifa offers drive-through vaccinations.

“I have been waiting to be liberated from this pressure, from the anxiety that’s there in the background all the time, to be free, to finally stop worrying,” said 76-year-old psychologist Tamar Shachnai. A week into the campaign she had already received a text message with instructions from her HMO, scheduled an appointment and got her first shot.

Shachnai was vaccinated at a centre in a Jerusalem sports arena where about 500 people had passed through by lunchtime. Towards the end of the day, about 20 younger people gathered outside the arena, hoping to receive the vaccine.

Israel has also added vaccination centres in Arab towns, said Aiman Saif, the health ministry’s coronavirus coordinator for the Arab community, following concerns about the low rate of vaccination among Israeli Arabs.

He said some Israeli Arabs initially appeared reluctant to be vaccinated and may have been put off by misinformation on social media, prompting Israel to accelerate a public campaign to combat “fake news” about alleged side effects.

Palestinian health official Yasser Bozyeh estimated that Palestinians would begin receiving doses in February through the World Health Organization’s vaccine scheme for poor and middle-income countries.

The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank and has its own health system, has also contacted private drugmakers.

Edelstein said it was in Israel’s interest to make sure the Palestinian population was also vaccinated and that he was open to discussing passing on any extra vaccines once Israel meets its own demand. Netanyahu’s office declined to comment.
CAMERA Op-Ed More False Attacks Against Israel on COVID-19 Vaccines
“Palestinians,” the former Associated Press journalist and author Matti Friedman wrote in 2014, “are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate.” A December 19, 2020 Washington Post report, entitled, “Israel is starting to vaccinate, but Palestinians may have to wait months,” proves Friedman correct. The newspaper’s Jerusalem bureau chief Steve Hendrix and new correspondent Shira Rubi unfairly — and inaccurately — blame Israel for the failures of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Hendrix and Rubin write that “Israel, like many high-income countries, is moving quickly to roll out newly approved coronavirus vaccines,” but “next door in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the prospects for vaccinating almost 5 million Palestinians are far less certain, as financial, political and logistical hurdles could delay inoculations against the raging pandemic for months.” This “split,” the Post employees claim, “highlights the tense disparities between Israel and the Palestinian populations it effectively controls.”

“Few places,” they add, “offer a starker side-by-side example of the gap than Israel and the Palestinian territories.”

Yet, Israel doesn’t “effectively control” populations in either the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank or the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Nor is Israel responsible for their healthcare. In fact — although neither Post reporter mentions it in their 981-word article — the PA itself is responsible, per a signed agreement with Israel, for the healthcare of those living under the Authority’s rule.

Article 17 of the Oslo II agreement explicitly states that “powers and responsibilities in the sphere of Health in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian side.” Further, the Oslo Accords specify that “the Palestinian side shall continue to apply the present standard of vaccination of Palestinians and shall improve them according to internationally accepted standards in the field, taking into account WHO recommendations.” For nearly three decades, this has been the case — including with other vaccines.

It doesn’t get clearer than that.


The Guardian Criticized for Vaccine Article about Israel
The British newspaper The Guardian was criticized for a headline stating that Palestinians have been “excluded” from Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout. The January 3 headline states in full: “Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers,” which was tweeted out from The Guardian’s Twitter account.

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris tweeted that the headline was “malicious.” “Palestinians aren’t ‘excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout,’” Harris wrote. “They rejected Covid cooperation w/ Israel. They’re in charge of own health care under Oslo Accords. They spurned UAE’s [United Arab Emirates] Covid aid -They’re awaiting millions of doses of Russian vaccine. An apology?” The Simon Wiesenthal Center similarly tweeted that the allegation that Israel is excluding Palestinians from obtaining COVID-19 vaccines is a “new anti-Israel libel.” “@guardian newspaper buries one inconvenient fact: Palestinian Authority is in charge of Palestinians in their territory,” they wrote. “It made NO request for #Israel for vaccine. Any doubt Israel would help if asked?”

In a subsequent tweet, the Wiesenthal Center added: “Corrupt PA’s [Palestinian Authority] official policy no cooperation with Jewish state ever – bars sick [Palestinians] from Israeli treatment except top sick PA and Hamas officials.” International human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky tweeted that those criticizing Israel for not giving COVID-19 vaccines to the Palestinians should know that the “PA specifically asked [Israel] not to, as they want to themselves” and noted that “perhaps if PA wasn’t paying hundreds of millions $$$ in terrorist salaries, they could do this faster.” The Guardian article does state later on that the PA “has not officially asked for help from Israel. Coordination between the two sides halted last year after the Palestinian president cut off security ties for several months.” It continues to say that “Israeli officials have suggested they might provide surplus vaccines to Palestinians and claim they are not responsible for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, pointing to 1990s-era interim agreements that required the authority to observe international vaccination standards.”

The article also quotes an Israeli human rights NGO named Gisha stating that Israel still has an “ultimate responsibility toward Palestinians under occupation.”

A spokesperson from The Guardian said in a statement to the Journal, “The story in question reported the concerns of human rights groups, including an Israeli human rights group.”


Anti-Israel vaccine narrative catches on with left-wing MPs
Legislators in parliaments of several countries have echoed the false reports that Israel is barring Palestinians from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in recent days.

Charlie Angus and Leah Gazan of Canada's left-wing New Democratic Party both repeated the misleading reports, with the former calling Israel an apartheid state and the latter saying Israel was "excluding people from being vaccinated based on discriminatory decisions and a clear violation of human rights.”

The false accusations were spread mostly by activists in the past month, but an article published on Sunday in the UK's Guardian headlined "Palestinians excluded from COVID vaccines and jabs go to settlers" exposed them to a much larger audience. Other news outlets had also tied Israel’s world-leading coronavirus vaccine rollout to the Palestinians’ slower progress on that front.

Under article 17 of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for healthcare, including vaccines, for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel has been vaccinating Palestinians in east Jerusalem. In addition, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told The New York Times he had “no doubt” Israel would help the Palestinians, in an article published two days before the one in the Guardian. When the Guardian article was published, the Palestinians had not asked Israel to help.

The Palestinian Authority has ordered doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines and the AstraZeneca vaccine, and is expected to begin vaccinations in February. The PA is also participating in the World Health Organization’s vaccine aid program.

B'nai Brith Canada accused Angus of promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories by sharing the Guardian article, a charge he rejected in a Facebook post on Monday.


Will Christian Peacemakers Condemn the PA Prime Minister for His Blasphemy?
Are Palestinian Christians and their allies in the United States and Europe up to the task of criticizing Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh?

Or are they too beholden to the PA to condemn him?

Shtayyeh deserves to be lambasted. He recently likened Jesus of Nazareth to suicide bombers and terrorists who have murdered thousands of civilians — mostly Jews.

On January 3, 2021, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) revealed that during a Christmas dinner, Shtayyeh invoked the memory of Jesus with the words, “Our lord Jesus, peace be upon him — the first Palestinian self-sacrificing fighter from whom we learned Martrydom-death, and who paid for his mission with his life.”

At the same dinner, which took place on December 28, Shtayyeh also declared that Christmas, “The birthday of our lord Jesus … takes place at the same time as the outbreak of the Palestinian revolution, for which thousands of Martyrs have paid with their lives.”

Shtayyeh’s comments are disgusting and dishonest. First off, Jesus was not the “first Palestinian.” He was a Jew born in Bethlehem of Judea, who lived in the Galilee and died in Jerusalem.

It’s one thing to assert that on a symbolic level, Jesus stands with the oppressed people of the world, but it’s another thing altogether to declare that, as a historical figure, Jesus was a Palestinian. Stripping Jesus of his Jewishness, as Shtayyeh did, allows people to deploy Jesus as a weapon against the Jewish people.
Terror Attack Survivor Seeks Answers in Award-Winning Documentary
Jack Baxter was only a few feet outside Mike’s Place in Jerusalem in 2003 when a suicide bomber sent him flying in the air, knocking him unconscious.

“A guy on stage [said I] looked like a cartoon character,” Baxter said in a phone interview. “I remember lying in a pool of blood and beer, but it mostly wasn’t my blood.”

Surprisingly, Baxter, who was then 50, went back to Israel more than a decade later to film The Last Sermon, which is now on Amazon Prime and other streaming services. It won the Prix de l’Espoir award at the International Human Rights Film Festival in Tunis, and won best documentary at the Queens World Film Festival.

The films shows Baxter in a hospital bed quoting the Hadith, the interpretive book of the Koran. He tells journalists around his bed that according to Islam, all people are equal, and that the religion doesn’t advocate suicide bombing.

Baxter is Catholic and his wife is Jewish. Joshua Faudem, whom he hired to make the film with him and who was also near the blast, is Jewish.

Baxter has pieces of bone and sinew from the terrorist attack embedded in his body, and he has partial paralysis, though he can walk with a cane.

“I wanted to be involved in a film that could make a difference,” Baxter said, adding that the attack was the first time British nationals acted as terrorists in Israel. He said both his eardrums were blown out, so skin had to be taken from his neck and used for his ear. He said doctors told him he was the first to have this surgery, “because when you’re just feet away, usually you are dead.”

He credited the venue’s bouncer, Avi Tabib, for stopping the bomber from getting deep into the bar.

Baxter wanted to find out how people could be brainwashed to think that by blowing up civilians at a bar, they’d be going to heaven.
Celebrating 1700 years of Jewish life in Germany
Back in the year 321, Cologne, then the capital of the Lower Germanic province of the Roman empire, inspired an official edict that marks the earliest evidence of Jewish life in Germany.

When the Cologne City Council wanted to repair a dilapidated bridge but lacked the financial means, a Jew named Isaac wanted to help out. He would, however, have to hold office in the city council. A request was subsequently submitted to the Roman emperor Constantine the Great.

"By law valid throughout the empire, we permit all city councils to appoint Jews to the city council," read the resulting edict issued by Constantine 1700 years ago. The emperor had unknowingly produced the first written evidence of Jewish life in Europe north of the Alps. Jewish culture throughout the ages

Archaeologists have also unearthed traces of Cologne's medieval Jewish community under the central Rathausplatz or Town Hall Square, including the remains of an 11th century synagogue and the mikweh, the women's ritual baths.

After the remains were discovered in the 1950s, the Rathausplatz was subsequently converted into a parking lot as part of the postwar reconstruction. The Jewish cultural remnants disappeared underground until 2007, when archaeologists ripped up the pavement again.

The resulting dig turned out to be the discovery of the century: a jumble of alleys, walls, cellars and stairs were part of a complete medieval Jewish quarter. Were sections already standing in the year 321?
Ex-Israeli envoy reveals large number of Ashkenazi Jews lived in Cairo
Former Israeli ambassador to Jordan Jacob Rosen published an extensive list of Jewish surnames in Cairo that disclosed a stunning number of Ashkenazi-sounding surnames.

“Jewish refugees from Russian pogroms settled in Egypt,” Rosen said in an interview. Rosen, who also served as a diplomat in Egypt, said there were about 40,000 Jews in Cairo during the 1930s and 1940s.

Conventional knowledge is that Mizrahi Jews largely dominated Egyptian Jewish life. But Rosen’s research offers a new glimpse into the complex Jewish community in the North African country.

That there were so many Ashkenazi names in Cairo was “very surprising,” said Rosen.

He published his updated study on Jewish Middle East genealogy on the website Avotaynu Online.

“This paper intends to fill those lacunae and lists the surnames of the Jewish families, Sephardic and Ashkenazi and the Karaites, which resided in Cairo from the turn of the 20th century with a brief survey of the available sources which were consulted and used to construct such an index,” wrote Rosen.
How could voters support a hater like Raphael Warnock?
Senate candidate Raphael Warnock, projected to win the runoff as of this moment, has severe issues. Based on his statements, Raphael Warner hates more people than he likes. Warnock has pontificated against America, white people, Jews, people who served in the military, law enforcement, and more. Warnock is everything wrong with the far left.

This is just one example. It’s Warnock who needs to repent— for being such a hater!

How could anyone in Georgia have voted for this man? He calls himself a Reverand, but all he does is spew hatred–here are just a few examples.
- Warnock defended anti-Semite and anti-American pastor Jeremiah Wright and praised Marxism.
- Warnock’s mentor called for the “destruction of everything white” and argued white Christians are “satanic.”
- Warnock signed a letter comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa.
- Warnock called police officers “gangsters and thugs” and “bullies.”
- Warnock made the false claim he saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinians like birds of prey.
- Warnock cozied up to Fidel Castro in 1995.
- Earlier this year, Warnock was accused by his wife of running over her foot with his car after they got into an argument.
- In 2002, Warnock was accused of hindering a police investigation into child abuse.
- Warnock criticized the Second Amendment during sermons.
- Warnock made the claim that Jesus was a Palestinian, which anyone who has looked at history or theology knows is impossible
- He insulted our active service military members and veterans by opining that ‘nobody can serve God and the military:’

I don’t get it! How can he be the Ebenezer Baptist Church’s senior pastor, the former congregation of Martin Luther King Jr? How can they accept someone who preaches hatred? The exact opposite of the Reverend King. Someone who spews that much hatred has no business preaching to any church! He is a Reverend in the tradition of Al Sharpton–a bigoted hater.

How could anyone have voted for this misanthrope? Raphael Warnock had no business running for a political office. How can he serve a public comprised of so many people he hates? I prayed that Georgians vote for Kelly Loeffler, but who knows?. Anyone who lives in Georgia and didn’t vote, supports Warnock’s hatred as well as the socialist takeover of America
Appointed NY official resigns after anti-Israel tweets draw scrutiny
A newly appointed official in Queens borough, New York, stepped down on Monday after tweets from his past criticizing Israel circulated social media and attracted public criticism, local news reported.

Michael Hurwitz was supposed to start his new position as Queens Borough President Donovan Richards’ deputy in February.

But several tweets written by Hurwitz in the past couple of years were shared online and drew enough criticism to make him step down.

A few of Hurwitz's tweets focused on denouncing Israeli settlements, while others included harsh language against Israeli politicians and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Another tweet written by Hurwitz shared by users defended Rep. Ilhan Omar, considered a harsh critic of Israel.

“For professional and personal reasons, Michael Hurwitz will not be moving forward at this time with the Queens Borough President's Office as Deputy Borough President as originally announced,” Richards’ spokesperson Breeana Mulligan told local media.

In one controversial tweet, Hurwitz retweeted a tweet made by leader of Israel's Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, in October 2018. Bennett had written that he was about to about to fly to Pittsburgh following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting "to be with our sisters and brothers on their darkest hour," to which Hurwitz replied: "You are not welcome! You are a cancer to Judaism."

Hurwitz's Twitter account has since been made private.
University of California Denounces Professor’s Anti-Semitic Tweets
A University of California, Merced professor is facing disciplinary action for a range of anti-Semitic tweets that praised violent terror groups, advocated the destruction of Israel, and mocked the Holocaust, according to a full dossier of the instructor’s now-deleted tweets obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Abbas Ghassemi, an engineering professor at the publicly funded U.C. Merced campus, was condemned by the university community over the Christmas holiday after several of his anti-Semitic tweets spilled into public view. In those tweets, Ghassemi referred to Israel as "IsraHell" and made light of the Holocaust. A full index of Ghassemi’s tweets compiled and in some cases translated by the advocacy organization StopAntisemitism.org reveals these missives were just the tip of the iceberg.

In more than 2,000 tweets sent from 2019 until the present, Ghassemi praised the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah, expressed support for the anti-Semitic regime in Tehran, mocked incoming president Joe Biden, and promoted conspiracy theories about Jews in Israel and America.

Ghassemi remains employed by the university, and reports indicate he has hired a lawyer who specializes in First Amendment issues. While U.C. Merced has condemned Ghassemi’s tweets, it remains unclear if it has legal grounds to fire him. Ghassemi is listed as a "teaching professor" on the school’s website, a position that grants a certain level of employment security. As universities across America deal with an uptick in anti-Semitism and violence against Jews, some professors who have come under fire for anti-Semitic statements remain employed, including at Northwestern University, where Holocaust-denier Arthur Butz still has a teaching gig.

U.C. Merced officials said the school is conducting "an inquiry into potential violations" of the faculty conduct code "to determine what consequences are appropriate." A university spokesman would not comment beyond that statement when reached on Tuesday by the Free Beacon.

Ghassemi did not respond to a request for comment sent to his university email account.
Leeds Palestine Society Glorifies Terrorism on Campus
Last semester, Apartheid Off Campus, in conjunction with the Palestinian Solidarity Group (PSG) at the University of Leeds (UoL), held an event featuring Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled. The event was met with much opposition from both the Leeds Jewish Society (JSoc) and the Student Union, who both felt that Leila Khaled should not have been given a platform at UoL.

Leila Khaled is a terrorist. A two-time flight hijacker for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Both Zoom and the Union had originally prevented the event from taking place, due to Khaled’s terrorist nature combined with a lack of event approval from the Union, at the last minute, however, PSG found a way. During the 77-minute long Zoom meeting, violence was incited and antisemitic undertones were evident from both speakers, as well as PSG leader Adam Saeed. PSG’s official Facebook page describes themselves as a ‘society aimed at campaigning for Palestinian human rights through peaceful and progressive means’. Yet their guest speaker Leila Khaled stated “we are determined to continue all forms of struggle, including armed struggle”, to which Saeed agreed is an acceptable form of resistance. Not only does this contradict a key pillar of what PSG supposedly stands for, but it also encourages their followers and supporters — especially the younger and less experienced, to choose the violent route when rightfully campaigning for Palestinian human rights. Not only does this damage the legitimacy of the Palestinian cause, but think of how it makes Zionist and Jewish students feel on campus? Would the majority of the students of Leeds JSoc feel safe after an event like this? I certainly did not. In addition, The Leeds University Union handbook states all society committees must ‘create a sense of community and a safe environment’. Therefore, by including Leila Khaled in their event, PSG did not only break their own rules but those of the University.

The second keynote speaker was James Dickins, a professor of Arabic at the University of Leeds. Simply by appearing at the event, the professor chose to affiliate himself with a terrorist and her ideals, and throughout his own presentation, Dickins asserted antisemitic conspiracies about Jewish students at Leeds. He addressed Leeds Jsoc’s attempt to cancel a Leeds U event with pro-Assad journalist Max Blumenthal 2016 and stated that “the Leeds Jewish Society have very very close links to the Israeli embassy” suggesting that the Jewish students of Leeds were in some way working on the behest of the Israeli government. He also claimed that there was “a smear campaign from the Israel lobby” against Blumenthal. These comments are reminiscent of those from former NUS president Malia Bouattia, who claimed the University of Birmingham was “something of a Zionist outpost,” obviously an underhanded comment on the university’s thriving Jewish student population. For a University professor to have these views and to share them amongst Leeds and other university students is deeply concerning and unsettling for all Jewish students, especially those within Leeds JSoc.

The third and final speaker was PSG leader Adam Saeed. Having given himself the largest timeframe to speak, he used the opportunity to take another swipe at Leeds JSoc. He discussed epistemological violence and a lack of Palestinian voices discussing Palestinian issues in the media, due to a concern with ‘subjectivity’ issues. This was a legitimate point until Saeed used Leeds JSoc as an example of “the people in power who have the interest in steering the debate a certain way”, and largely blamed the Jewish Society for his defeat in the Union Affairs election. Yet again, a well-known antisemitic trope claiming Jewish have more power or influence than others was put on display.
BBC denied request by father of teenage victim of antisemitic terrorist attack to address the staff who broadcast a sympathetic interview with her murderer
The BBC has reportedly denied a request by the father of a teenage victim of an antisemitic terrorist attack to address the staff who broadcast a sympathetic interview with her murderer.

Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki was murdered in the 2001 Sbarro Pizza terrorist attack in Jerusalem by the unrepentant antisemitic terrorist Ahlam Al-Tamimi, met with BBC executives after a sympathetic interview was broadcasted on the 8th October episode of BBC Arabic’s Trending. The attack took the lives of fifteen civilians, half of whom were children.

Ms Al-Tamimi is a Jordanian national who was convicted for the terrorist attack, which killed fifteen people, half of whom were children. She was also behind a previous failed terrorist attack. She has repeatedly expressed pride at her actions and never remorse; she was even disappointed that the death toll was not higher. Although she was given several life sentences, she was released as part of a prisoner deal that secured the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from the genocidal antisemitic terrorist group Hamas. The sympathetic interview saw her appeal for the return of her husband – also a convicted terrorist – from Qatar to Jordan, where she resides and enjoys a celebrity status of sorts.

The families of numerous victims complained to the BBC, with an internal report finding that the Corporation had breached its own ethical guidelines.

The Director of the BBC World Service, Jamie Angus, apologised, calling the episode a “lapse in our editorial standards”, but Mr Roth reportedly criticised the apology as “empty, cruel and pointless”.

Mr Roth, who met with Mr Angus and the Head of BBC Arabic, Samir Farah, on 9th November, said that the episode went beyond a mere lapse in editorial standards, noting that the episode omitted reference to the victims and described Ms Tamimi’s crimes as allegations, and that the episode was promoted on social media with the hashtag “Ahalm Tamimi, your voice is loud and clear”. Mr Roth said that the episode was contrary to journalistic and ethical values.

It is believed that Mr Roth observed that the BBC Arabic anchorman presented the apology by saying “I read you a message from the BBC”, which he claimed showed that BBC Arabic was failing to take responsibility. The BBC apparently considered, to the contrary, that this introduction gave the apology more prominence.

It is understood that Mr Roth wished to speak with BBC Arabic’s Trending staff to present on the work of the Malki Foundation, named for his daughter, which works with disabled children of all faiths in Israel, and to record a segment for the programme outlining his criticism of the interview.

According to the JC, the BBC decided to “respectfully decline” his request.
Actor Keith Allen defends Jeremy Corbyn over antisemitism
The actor Keith Allen has defended Jeremy Corbyn over antisemitism, complaining of the “appalling treatment” meted out to the former Labour leader.

Mr Allen said in an interview with the Radio Times that Mr Corbyn had been treated “appallingly” by the media, which was “scared” of him.

Regarding Mr Corbyn’s antisemitism, Mr Allen said: “I don’t think for one moment that he’s an antisemite”.

Campaign Against Antisemitism has lodged a complaint against Jeremy Corbyn, holding him responsible for conduct that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party, as the Leader during the period of the EHRC’s shameful findings. Given the serious detriment that this conduct has caused, we are seeking Mr Corbyn’s immediate resuspension and, if the complaint is upheld, we will be requesting his expulsion. On the day of the publication of the EHRC’s report, we also submitted a major complaint against Mr Corbyn and other sitting MPs. These complaints are yet to be acknowledged by the Party, and they must be investigated by an independent disciplinary process that the EHRC has demanded and Sir Keir has promised but has yet to introduce.
Rabbi Subjected to Antisemitic Abuse in German City of Offenbach Praises Witnesses for Intervening
A German rabbi warmly praised his fellow citizens in the city of Offenbach for rushing to his aid when he and his family were subjected to antisemitic abuse on New Year’s Day.

Rabbi Mendel Gurewitz was walking home from synagogue with his children last Friday when they were confronted by a man screaming antisemitic invective. Several witnesses to the assault immediately called the police, while others followed the assailant as he left the scene. Police officers later arrested a 46-year-old man for sedition, hate speech and displaying symbols of far-right organizations banned under the German constitution.

Rabbi Gurewitz, who has faced antisemitic abuse on previous occasions, wrote in a post on Facebook that the experience on Friday had been “traumatic,” but that the response of witnesses to the attack had been exemplary.

“People intervened from every window, shouted at the aggressor, defended us, and notified the police,” he wrote. “Some left their homes and followed him on foot or by car. It was a sudden explosion of love and support.”

Gurewitz’s sentiments were echoed in a separate statement from the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference in Germany.

“Every attack on Jewish life, whether verbal, physical or fatal, is always a shock for the Jews living here in Germany,” Rabbi Avichai Apel, a board member of the Conference, told the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung website. “What makes us happy despite this sad occasion: the citizens of Offenbach have shown moral courage and loudly put the attacker in his place.”

Uwe Becker — the antisemitism commissioner for the Hessian region — condemned the attack on Rabbi Gurewitz and his children, saying it was a worrying indication “that Jews cannot openly display their faith in public.”
Drunk Attacker Hurls Antisemitic Slurs, Wields Knife at Berlin Man
A Berlin man was the victim of an apparent antisemitic assault Monday evening, reported the Jüdische Allgemeine, a German weekly covering Jewish affairs, on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old man was insulted in an antisemitic manner by an intoxicated individual, 28, who then attacked the man with a knife. The victim defended himself with pepper spray, according to the paper.

In a Sept. 2020 report, the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism Berlin documented 410 antisemitic incidents during the first half of the year — more than two per day. These acts included included six physical attacks, 25 cases of property damage, 20 threats, 58 examples of antisemitic propaganda and 301 examples of malicious behavior. Another analysis, published by the German government in May, showed that in 2019, antisemitic crimes in the country had reached the highest level since record-keeping began.

In December, a prominent leader in the country’s Catholic Church spoke out against a rising tide of antisemitic conspiracy theories tied to the coronavirus pandemic. “What worries me even more is the theory of the world Jewish conspiracy, sometimes at subliminal level, at other times quite openly,” Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr of the central state of Thuringia told local broadcaster MDR.

Monday’s Berlin attacker was temporarily arrested, and will face charges of using antisemitic insults, dangerous bodily harm and assaulting police officers.
Jewish Community in Lexington, Kentucky Shaken by Antisemitic Sticker Campaign
The Mayor of Lexington, Kentucky declared that there was no place in her city for “racism and religious persecution” in the wake of the third antisemitic incident to occur there in recent weeks.

Local broadcaster WKYT reported that stickers carrying a link to antisemitic content line were plastered on several businesses in downtown Lexington over the weekend.

The stickers were “red and white with a QR code printed in the center,” the station reported. Scanning the code took the user to an archive of 290 recorded speeches by William Luther Pierce — a fanatical American neo-Nazi and white supremacists who died in 2002.

“Racism and religious persecution are intolerable and have no place in Lexington,” said Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton following the incident. The mayor urged anyone with information about the stickers to contact Lexington police at 859-258-3600.

Lexington Rabbi Shlomo Litvin noted in a separate statement that “ dozens of stickers were illegally plastered around downtown Lexington, with links to incoherent racist and antisemitic drivel.” Rabbi Litvin urged the city’s residents to “speak out and reject this affront.”
French Imam Will Be Prosecuted for Antisemitic Sermon at Mosque in Toulouse
A French imam is to be prosecuted for racial hatred over a sermon he delivered in 2017 calling for Muslims to “fight the Jews.”

Algerian-born Mohamed Tatai was indicted at the end of 2018 for “public verbal provocation to hatred or violence” following an investigation into the sermon, which he gave at the En Nourr mosque in the Empalot district of the city of Toulouse in December 2017.

Tatai allegedly cited a hadith — a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad — that “on Judgment Day the Muslims will fight and kill the Jews.” Video of his remarks was obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which then posted Tatai’s sermon online.

Shimon Cohen — a lawyer for CRIF, the representative organization of the French Jewish community — confirmed on Tuesday that Tatai was being prosecuted for “inciting discrimination, hatred or violence […] because of the origin or membership of a specific ethnic group, nation, race or religion.” A date for the 57-year-old imam’s trial has not been set.

Lawyers for Tatai expressed confidence that the charges against him would not pass muster in court. In a statement, his legal team claimed that Tatai had “always been on good terms with the representatives of the Jewish community,” and that he had “largely explained the meaning of his preaching and the total exclusion of any incitement to hatred.”


Archaeologists find dance floor where John the Baptist was condemned
In an article in Live Science, Owen Jarus reports that archaeologists believe they have figured out the location of the dance floor where John the Baptist, the preacher who predicted the coming of Jesus, was sentenced to death in around 29 CE, after a sensuous dance was performed by Salome, which sealed his unhappy fate.

According to the biblical story and the account by the ancient historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 CE), King Herod Antipas, one of the sons of King Herod, ordered the execution of John the Baptist. Josephus said that the assassination was carried out at Machaerus, a fort near the Dead Sea in modern-day Jordan.

Herod Antipas wanted to curb the influence of John the Baptist and had him killed, according to Josephus. The Bible tells a more sensational tale, saying that Herod Antipas was going to marry a woman named Herodias, and that both members of the couple were divorced, which John the Baptist thought was immoral. During Herod Antipas’s birthday party, in the biblical account, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced for Herod Antipas, which pleased the king, who promised her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, Salome requested John the Baptist’s head, which she eventually received on a platter.

Both Salome’s dance, often referred to as the Dance of the Seven Veils, and the moment when she was presented with John the Baptist’s head on a platter have often been portrayed in paintings, operas, fiction and theater.
Ancient Greek inscription found by chance in the Negev
A stone bearing an inscription in Greek from the end of the Byzantine period was discovered last weekend in the Nitzana National Park in the Negev. The flat, round stone, c. 25 cm. in diameter, was used as a tombstone in one of the cemeteries surrounding the ancient settlement.

The stone was found by a “Project 500” worker from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority while cleaning and preparing nature paths in the Nitzana National Park.

The stone was left at the head of the path, where it caught the eye of David Palmach, the director of the Nitzana Educational Eco-Village, who realized that it bore an inscription. Palmach photographed and collected it, to prevent its being looted. He also contacted the INPA and the Antiquities Authority, and the inscription is being transferred to the National Treasuries Department.

The inscription was deciphered by Dr. Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and it refers to “Blessed Maria, who lived an immaculate life” and died on February 9. The stone dates from the late sixth-early seventh centuries CE.

According to Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini of the Antiquities Authority, “Nitzana is renowned as a key site in research into the transition between the Byzantine and the early Islamic periods. During the fifth and sixth centuries CE, Nitzana acted as a center for the villages and settlements in the vicinity. Among other things, it had a military fortress as well as churches, a monastery and a road station that served Christian pilgrims traveling to Santa Katarina, which believers regarded as the site of Mount Sinai.”
Siege ramp from Crusader era still protects Ashkelon
For Dr. Rafael Lewis, a lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a researcher at the University of Haifa, looking at aerial photographs and a landscape study of Ashkelon sparked an idea.

Lewis, who studies both landscape archaeology and battlefield archaeology, identified what he is convinced are the remains of a huge siege ramp that was likely constructed in the 12th or 13th century, during one of several sieges that the area went through during the Crusader era.

But while this ramp may have been built originally as part of a war, its remains have served a very different and peaceful purpose, preventing sand from drifting into the city.

“With landscape archaeology, we study landscape to understand how humans were influenced by landscape and how they changed it; it’s about the reciprocity between humans and landscape,” he said.

Using a landscape archaeological study conducted between 2010 and 2013, as well as aerial photographs from the 1940s, Lewis formulated his theory. He wrote about it extensively in his theory about the ramp and its later uses, in a chapter in the recently published book Crusading and Archaeology, published by Routledge Press.

The city was built in the Iron Age by the Canaanites with ramparts in the shape of the letter D or like a bow with the string running along the coast. It was conquered time and again as civilizations rose and fell, and each would use and sometimes rebuild the ramparts: Philistines, Romans, Byzantines and eventually Muslims and Crusaders.
In Poland, new Sobibor museum memorializes victims through unearthed belongings
After more than a decade of planning and construction, a new museum was recently inaugurated at Sobibor, the former German Nazi death camp in Poland.

One of three “Operation Reinhardt” death camps built in 1942, Sobibor was designed with gas chambers where 180,000 Jews were murdered. The camp is remembered for a successful prisoner uprising in October of 1943, through which dozens of Jews managed to escape and survive the war.

Calling the museum “a crowning achievement of an initiative started in 2008 by Poland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Israel,” spokesperson Agnieszka Kowalczyk-Nowak told The Times of Israel that the permanent exhibition, inaugurated in October, will “inform contemporary and future generations about the history of mass extermination at Sobibor.”

With 323-square meters of exhibition space, the Sobibor museum is larger than similar installations at Belzec and Treblinka, the other “Operation Reinhard” death camps. A total of more than 1,500,000 Jews were murdered at the three killing facilities by the end of 1943.

The Sobibor site, including the museum, is stewarded by the State Museum at Majdanek. Before construction started in 2017, select parts of the former camp grounds were excavated by archeologists. Three years ago, the field of mass graves was covered with geotextile and crushed marble.
Gas masks, missiles and irony: Defense Ministry releases photos of 1991 Gulf War
Marking 30 years since the Gulf War, the Defense Ministry on Wednesday published never-before-released photographs and video footage from the conflict, in which Iraq fired 43 Scud missiles at Israel.

The images show the actions of the military during the war as well as the lives of Israeli civilians who were required to keep gas masks with them at all times — including on the beach — and to seal their homes with plastic sheeting and tape out of fears that the missiles being fired from Iraq would have chemical or biological warheads.

In the end, no weapons of mass destruction were used against Israel. The general understanding is that the Scud missile attacks were meant to provoke Israel to respond, so that Saddam Hussein could use Israeli participation as a way to drive a wedge between the countries that made up the coalition opposing his conquest of Kuwait.

To prevent such a situation, the United States deployed Patriot missile defense batteries in Israel. These air defenses failed to intercept the vast majority of the Scud missiles — according to some accounts, it shot down just one — but they did raise the morale of a country feeling helpless in the face of attacks that it was not actively doing anything to prevent.

The barrages began on the night between January 17 and 18, 1991, and continued through February 25, 1991.

In addition to the photographs and video footage released by the Defense Ministry Archive on Wednesday, two top-secret Israel Defense Forces documents were declassified. One showed the military’s official tally of the attacks from a December 2002 investigation by the IDF’s Operations Directorate and another was the official logbook where the details of Scud launches and the orders that were subsequently given to IDF troops were recorded at the time.





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