Wednesday, May 05, 2021


Weekly column by Vic Rosenthal

Forty-five people attending a festival to celebrate the holiday of Lag b’Omer at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mt. Meron were crushed to death last weekend, in a catastrophic but totally predictable stampede which – one official of a first-responders group said – had only been prevented by annual miracles. This year there was no miracle. The facilities at the site were woefully inadequate to support even a tenth of the 100,000 people that showed up, an agreement to limit the number was ignored due to political pressure, and what had been predicted occurred.
The site had not been improved over the years despite many reports from various bodies including the police and the mevaker hamedina, an independent official who oversees the operations of the government and reports to the Knesset, which is required by law to respond and if needed, act on them.

Why has nothing been done? Because the site, which is officially under control of the government, in practice “belongs” to several Haredi [“ultra-Orthodox”] sects, who object to changes proposed by any of the others, and even more to outsiders telling them what they can do. They have depended on the protection of Hashem, based on the principle that nothing bad can happen to someone who is in the process of performing a mitzvah, an idea which ignores the fact that Hashem gave his human creations brains and expects them to be used.

The authorities, who recently forced an acquaintance of mine to stop using his tiny (and licensed) ham radio transceiver on a deserted beach for “safety reasons,” do not dare interfere with Haredi events. This is a particular case of the partly unwritten principle of Haredi autonomy: although they live in the State of Israel, Haredi communities are not in practice subject to the same laws or expectations as secular, traditional, or national-religious Jews.
At the time of the founding of the State of Israel, in order to obtain the support of the observant community, Ben Gurion and other secular Zionists found it necessary to promise them certain things, such as rabbinical control of family law, observance of Shabbat and Kashrut in all official functions, and freedom to determine the content of their school curricula, as long as certain secular subjects were included.

As time passed, the official “status quo” between secular and observant Israelis grew to include draft exemptions for Torah students, and government funding for educational systems outside of the state system. At the same time, there developed an unofficial hands-off attitude toward the Haredim. Haredi schools reduced or eliminated instruction in secular subjects such as English and Mathematics, in violation of the status quo. Laws to limit exemptions from military or other national service could not be enforced. Tax evasion is common in Haredi communities. During the Covid epidemic, Haredi schools and yeshivot were opened in defiance of the regulations when other schools were closed. Rules established by the Ministry of Health were widely flouted, with high-profile weddings and funerals attended by thousands of tightly-packed people.
Video of such events, while police were harassing non-Haredim for walking maskless in the park, created a great deal of animosity toward Haredim, especially among those whose memories of massive traffic jams caused by Haredi anti-draft demonstrations were fresh. The political interference with the extradition of Malka Leifer to face sex abuse charges in Australia was another flashpoint. It doesn’t matter that the small extremist faction that blocked traffic, or the particular Hasidic group that counts both Malka Leifer and perennial government minister Ya’akov Litzman as a member, do not represent all Haredim; anti-Haredi feeling is widespread.
The other side of the coin is that Haredi communities distrust and disrespect the state. Some are explicitly anti-Zionist, but even those that aren’t believe that “Torah law” – which is whatever their rabbi says it is – overrides the laws of the State of Israel. They believe that secular and non-Haredi religious Jews have no right to criticize them in any way, and in some cases consider such criticism “antisemitic.” They relate to the State of Israel the way their great-grandfathers related to the Tsar or the Porte.

The problem is that the “status quo” has developed into a complete autonomy, a mini-state into which the organs of the larger state don’t reach. The Haredi political parties have been in almost every Israeli government, and they often hold the balance of power. Police and other officials don’t even try to enforce laws when they know they will be countermanded (and possibly punished) by the political connections of the communities.

Haredi leaders have demanded more and more autonomy, and have received it, both officially and in practice. But this disaster has illustrated that it has gone too far. After the deaths, many blamed the police. But it’s clear that the police cannot be blamed for failing to protect people when there are laws for that very purpose that they are prevented from enforcing. Some Haredi rabbis and politicians are beginning to understand this.

The Haredi autonomy is not the only one in the country. Arab citizens of Israel also live in an autonomy that is in many ways similar. They have been granted an exemption from the draft and national service. There is rampant tax evasion in Arab towns. During the epidemic, they persisted in holding large weddings. Today they are suffering from a wave of violent organized crime which has placed law-abiding citizens in fear for their lives. Every week sees new murders. They too, blame the police, which is ironic since – like the Haredim – they previously preferred to keep the police as far away as possible.

There is yet another autonomous group in Israel, and that is the Bedouin tribes of southern Israel. They too have experienced an increase in criminal behavior which has been ignored by the state; but unlike the Arab villages of the North, their banditry victimizes the Jewish residents of the area.

These problems have been shoved under the rug by successive governments, for various reasons. In the case of the Haredim, it’s a combination of factors. The most important, of course, is the political power wielded by this community, which represents about 12% of the population; as well as the mistrust, and dare I say it, dislike on both sides.

The Arab and Bedouin communities have never fully cooperated with the Jewish authorities, and law enforcement is difficult without cooperation. As long as the crime stays within the community, it’s tempting for police officials to concentrate their effort elsewhere. That, however, is wrong, as well as stupid, because the crime will not stay in the communities where it starts.

Israel is not a large country and it can’t afford have several autonomous enclaves that don’t consider themselves part of the state. The lack of respect for the laws made by the national government is corrosive. It wouldn’t hurt to pay more attention to the reports of the mevaker hamedina, and ensure that problems in law enforcement as well as in the allocation of all kinds of resources are dealt with in a reasonable time.

To some extent, Israel is like Russia, a country where everything is illegal but laws are enforced selectively. The psychological and political issues, for both Arabs and Haredim, are difficult. I don’t know how to change their deeply alienated mindsets, or if it’s possible. But I think the first thing that has to change is that the laws must be enforced, fairly, on all citizens.

From Ian:

Clifford D. May: Human Rights Watch crosses the line with latest attack on Israel
HRW appears to believe that Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have a right to demand citizenship from a state whose destruction they seek. No such right exists anywhere on earth, and for Israelis to grant it would be suicidal.

The Kohelet Policy Forum, an Israeli think tank, has issued a detailed response to HRW. It deserves to be read in its entirety. I have space here to highlight only a few points.

Apartheid, it points out, is not “a grab bag of policies that HRW happens to disagree with.” Apartheid implies “the physical separation — apartness — of people based on a legislated racial hierarchy.” As noted above, that’s not the situation in Israel. There are no racial distinctions in Israeli law. Nor are Jews and Palestinians two distinct racial groups. Israelis are, in fact, multiracial, with more than half coming from families who are indigenous to the Middle East and never left the Middle East.

Can one find instances of bias, bigotry or discrimination in Israel? In which nations is that not the case? The answer is none which is why “no country since the end of South African apartheid has ever received the distinction.”

Not China, where Uighurs and Tibetans face egregious persecution; not the Islamic Republic of Iran which severely oppresses Bahais; not Pakistan, which has for decades been driving out Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Ahmadis and other minorities.

HRW claims that Israelis stepped over the “threshold” to apartheid with their “Nation State Law.” Kohelet responds: “While the wisdom of the Nation State law can be criticized, it does nothing like what any of the apartheid laws did, and instead closely resembles numerous European democratic constitutional provisions. Indeed, it is almost entirely declarative; its one substantive provision guarantees rather than denies Palestinian Arab rights (it guarantees Arabic language rights).”

What’s more, states throughout the broader Middle East proudly proclaim themselves Arab and/or Muslim. It is only Jewish identity and self-determination that HRM deems a “crime against humanity.”

Credit where it’s due: The Biden administration last week stated explicitly that it does not consider “that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid.”

As noted above, evidence of HRW’s animosity toward Israel comes as no surprise. More than a decade ago, Robert Bernstein, the founder of HRW and its chairman from 1978 to 1998, accused the organization of “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.”

But now it is HRW, not Israel, that has crossed a threshold. Its latest attempt to defame and delegitimize the Jewish state provides aid and comfort to those — including Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran’s rulers — who incite and vow genocide. The definition of genocide is plain, and it is unequivocally a crime under international law.

Defenders of HRW might say: “I’m sure that’s not their intention!” Critics of HRW might respond: “Trust me, they know exactly what they’re doing.”

Why Human Rights Watch is Attacking Israel’s Law of Return
If you’re Jewish and live in the Diaspora, chances are there’s been some event in the news or in politics that at some point has made you say to yourself, “Well, if things really go south here, I can always go to Israel.”

I’m sure many American Jews had those thoughts after the murders in Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City and Monsey. In the United States in 2019, the most recent year for which FBI data is available, there were 953 hate crimes committed against Jews, or more than 60 percent of religiously based hate crimes.

Many French Jews are probably having such thoughts now, since France’s highest court has ruled, functionally, that there is no criminal responsibility for killing a Jew if the killer was high on marijuana. Indeed, in the aftermath of the 2006 kidnapping, torture and murder of 23-year old Ilan Halimi, the 2012 murders of three Jewish children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, and the 2015 shooting at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, French Jews acted on that sentiment in record numbers.

But Human Rights Watch has targeted the Israeli law that ensures that Jews have just such a refuge. Among other things, HRW’s latest anti-Israel propaganda report takes aim at Israel’s Law of Return. HRW invokes the historical racial segregation in the U.S., complaining that “a two-track citizenship … effectively regards Jews and Palestinians separately and unequally.”

The report characterizes Israel’s Law of Return as part of its “Discriminatory Restrictions on Residency and Nationality.” Later in the same report, the law is characterized primarily as motivated by demographic concerns.

But, as NGO Monitor explains, “HRW deviously erases the context: the Law of Return was enacted in the shadow of the Holocaust, to provide a safe haven for Jews who for centuries suffered persecution around the world. The sharp rise in physical violence and other forms of anti-Semitism around the world in recent years only highlights the need for Israel as a safe refuge from persecution.”

The fact that many Jews who attempted to flee the Holocaust were turned away by the U.S. and other countries seems to be of no concern to HRW. One might wonder, as well, without the Law of Return, what HRW would have liked to see happen to more than half a million Jews who settled in Israel between 1948 and 1972, after fleeing or being expelled from Arab countries.

Michael Danby: Palestine recognition ‘invalid’
FORMER federal Labor MP Michael Danby has claimed the party broke its own rules by not giving him an opportunity to speak against the recent change in its platform on recognising a Palestinian state.

A 2018 conference motion “calling on the next Labor government to recognise a Palestinian state” was elevated at the party’s platform conference in March. Danby said he was denied the right to speak against it.

“I requested to speak against the reception of the report ‘Australia and the World’ as was my right as a delegate under Standing Order 6A for this conference,” he wrote to Labor national secretary Paul Erickson last week.

“Yet despite repeated phone calls on the morning of the conference, I found when the debate was called on that I was unfairly excluded from the speaking list and blocked from entering the speakers’ green room.

“I hereby request that you refer this matter to the next National Executive meeting as it is my belief that this report was accepted in clear breach of the ALP’s own rules and is therefore invalid.”

A Labor insider told The AJN this week that Danby “may have a point”.
Bob Carr out of control
Zionist Council of New South Wales Israel affairs director Arsen Ostrovsky said Carr “seems to have a rather unhealthy obsession with Israel, dominated by his irrational hatred of the Jewish State and willingness to be a pawn of the Palestinian propaganda machine”.

“It is high time that the Labor Party, both federal and state, rein Carr in,” he said.

Macnamara MP Josh Burns said Carr’s accusations and those of Human Rights Watch “do not reflect the views of the Australian Labor Party and does not advance the cause of peace”.

His predecessor, former Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby called it “Corbyn-style Labor”.

“Add the twist of Beijing’s most odious advocate in Australia attempting to divert attention from China’s concentration camps in Xinjiang and its aggression against Hong Kong and Taiwan,” he said, adding it was “ironic that Carr whinges about the Palestinians not having a vote on the day PA boss Abbas cancels the Palestinian elections”.

Asked for a comment at a Victorian Parliamentary Yom Ha’atzmaut function, former federal Labor leader Bill Shorten said he had made it a practice not to comment about Carr’s comments, “Because you can be here all day.”

A one-time co-founder of Labor Friends of Israel, Carr’s Israel agitation has steadily increased over recent years.
Financial Times editor embraces HRW's apartheid lie
The charge of “irredentism” – a policy of advocating the restoration to a country of any territory formerly belonging to it – needs to put in perspective, particularly since Gardner compared Israel to Russia, China, Turkey and India.

Russia has 17.13 million square km of land. China has 9.597 million km. India has 3.287 million km. And, Turkey has 783,562 square km.

Israel has 22,145 square km – representing a meager 0.2 percent of the landmass of the Arab world. The entire West Bank – only a third of which was designated to Israel by the Peace to Prosperity Peace Plan – is 5,628 square km. To compare Israeli ‘expansionism’ (that is, Israeli claims over disputed territory) in the same political universe as that of Russia, China, Turkey and India is grossly misleading.

Gardner ends by noting, hopefully and in the context of the HRW report, that “the price for Israel disdaining [Palestinian] rights…may be rising”.

So, what did Gardner write about Palestinian political responsibilities and moral obligations in the context of the quest for peace? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. As is almost always the case with such pieces, Gardner completely robbed Palestinians of their agency, casting them as passive victims of Israeli malevolence. Decades of bad Palestinian decisions, particularly their choice to pursue violence and embrace antisemitism, was erased by the Financial Times editor.

Forget about the ‘bigotry of LOW expectations’, Gardner appears to have NO expectations of Palestinians or their leaders.

It all began with a private message: “Arabs are passing out sweets on Twitter to celebrate the death of Jews in Meron.” There was a link to a tweet.

Screenshot, because as we bloggers like to say: "If you don't take a screenshot it didn't happen."

I went to Twitter to take a closer look. I didn’t want to engage the guy, so I decided to retweet with a comment. It was my way of making a statement: Let the world see how these evil people rejoice when Jews are killed. Let the world see how even those Jews who live in cities inside the green line are reviled as “settlers.” And let the world see the way even Hassidic Jews who do not typically consider themselves “Zionist” are lumped together with the others.

Screenshot, or it didn't happen.

Because it’s not about Zionists or occupation or even settlers. It’s about JEWS.

Frankly, they hate us.

But of course, just because I stood on the sidelines and commented only to my followers, doesn’t mean I stayed out of the fray. Someone with vague associations to both Hezbollah and anime (@HezBallerMisaka) attempted to draw me into a debate on the topic.

“Even in a garbage can in occupied Palestine they would still be a settler.”

So I asked him, “What are the borders of ‘occupied Palestine?’”

And he tweeted back a photo of all of Israel, draped in the colors of the Palestinian flag.

I kept going back and forth with the guy until he made some comments sufficiently antisemitic that I felt it within my rights to fill out a report. And so he stopped. But then another one of his antisemitic ilk came out of the woodwork. And maybe it was a good thing, because he drew my attention to a Wikipedia page called “Zionism” which contains the stunning lie that the link between the Jews and Israel is based only on “memory, emotion, and myth.”

I decided to go in and make an edit to reflect the truth: Jews are indigenous to Israel, linked by history and religious precepts such as the return to Zion as a precondition for the arrival of the Messiah, and the Torah commandment to dwell in the Land of Israel. It had been awhile since I had done a Wikipedia edit, but I thought I could figure it out. How hard could it be?

As it turned out, damned hard.

The first stumbling block in my way was that this particular page had been designated “extended confirmed protected,” which made me think of a certain movie.


But what it really meant was that the page was locked for editing. And as it turns out, there are only three pages in all of Wikipedia with this designation and (surprise!) two of them are about Israel.

Just three pages make the grade.

I was almost ready to throw in the towel, but I looked a little further and found that it was still possible to request an edit, which turned out to be many, MANY hoops to jump through. For one thing, you have to learn wiki-speak. There’s all this Wikipedia-specific code you have to use. But I was determined to try.

Sample I of what I call "Wiki code"

Sample 2 of my feeble attempt at mastering what I call "Wiki code."

I gathered all my sources, googled all the codes I needed, and got to work. I botched my first attempt because there’s a learning curve. But I heard back from an honest-to-goodness live editor person who said my edit request was unintelligible. I was still encouraged, because s/he hadn’t outright refused the request. I did some more editing, and am waiting to see if this edit met with the editor’s approval.

There’s always hope. And maybe I’ll be able to update this piece so that this story has a favorable outcome. You know what they say: “Hope dies last.” But let’s face it, Wikipedia is not really a fair marketplace of ideas when it comes to the Jewish people. In fact, this very same week, David Collier wrote a piece called Wikipedia – the most active spreader of antisemitism on the planet (emphasis added):

It has probably held true for a number of years that more people have their opinion shaped by Wikipedia on a daily basis – than by any other information source. I do not believe that most people fully understand the damage that Wikipedia is doing, nor the fact that action must be taken to challenge it.

When I write about Wikipedia, I always face the same three arguments:

Firstly the idea that everyone can edit Wikipedia. It is simply not true. Everyone can go onto a mundane page and make an edit – but the more important pages on Wikipedia are protected – which means only certain editors can make a change. These protections do not just stop abuse – they prevent challenges to the bias of the editors.

Collier also mentions the fact that too many people use Wikipedia as if it were a credible source, even though they know better (emphasis added):

Secondly, is the notion that because most people know Wikipedia is not a reliable source it mitigates the damage. This is a deflection. Even many of those that know Wiki is tainted, still recommend using it as a starting point – especially teachers and academics. Google, the world’s leading search engine, literally treats Wiki as the best source in the world. All those seeking information by starting on Wikipedia are still guided by the additional links that are on Wiki’s pages – and are left blind to those facts and arguments that have been airbrushed out.

This leads back to why I discovered the blatant lie on Wikipedia’s “Zionism” page in the first place. @HezBallerMisaka tweeted a screenshot (since deleted) of that Wikipedia lie as soon as I suggested that Jews are indigenous to Israel.

Screenshot of deleted tweet citing the Wikipedia claim that the Jewish connection to Israel is a "myth."

At any rate, here is my edit request, for which I cited four sources (I could have found more, but I was thinking “overkill”):

please change "However, other Zionists emphasized the memory, emotion and myth linking Jews to the Land of Israel." to "However, other early Zionist leaders emphasized that Jewish history; the Torah tenet that calls on the Jewish people to return to Zion; and the commandment to dwell in the Land of Israel, all irrevocably link Jews to the Land of Israel."

Will my suggested edit make the grade?

Stay tuned. Oh--and keep in mind that whatever happens, change consists of ordinary people standing up and at least making the attempt to make a difference. I believe that, or I wouldn't be here writing this blog.

UPDATE: While the editor didn't use my (very long) suggested edit, I achieved some partial success. The sentence now reads (emphasis added): "However, other Zionists emphasized the memory, emotion and tradition linking Jews to the Land of Israel."

  • Wednesday, May 05, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

During World War II, a tiny organization called the “League of American-Arab Committees for Democracy” started a letter writing campaign to members of Congress to demand that they don't back a Jewish state.

The letter deplored the persecution of Jews in Europe, bu the idea of them moving to safety in the Land of Israel was apparently worse to their moral sensitivities.  “[We] can never countenance such a miscarriage of justice as the rape of Palestine by a group of people claiming that their ancestors once occupied the country some thousands of years ago,” it said. 

The letter added, "It is decidedly contrary to the best interest of the United States to deliberately antagonize some sixty million Arabs and two hundred and fifty million Moslems by permitting political Zionism to consummate its audacious ambition in Palestine.” 

In a bizarre revision of history, the letter concluded by saying the Palestinian Arabs have “contributed far more than their share towards the rehabilitation of Jewish refugees from Europe, since they have already accepted more than half a million of them in a country about the size of Vermont.”

No, they opposed every single Jew fleeing persecution and pressured England to sentence millions to death.

The League had a motto:  “The Arab countries for the Arabs.” I wonder if their political descendants would have a problem with "The Jewish State for the Jews."

From Ian:

Biden to UAE crown prince: Israel normalization of ‘strategic importance’
US President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed al Nahyan on Tuesday, in his first call with the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates since entering the White House in January.

During the call, Biden hailed the Trump-era normalization of ties between Israel and the United Aarab Emirates, according to a White House statement.

“They discussed regional and global challenges, including Afghanistan, the nuclear and regional dimensions of the threat posed by Iran, as well as the common quest for de-escalation and peace in the Middle Peace,” the statement said.

“In that regard, the president underlined the strategic importance of the normalization of relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. He expressed his full support for strengthening and expanding these arrangements,” the White House said.

The Biden administration has told Congress it will move ahead with a massive arms deal to the UAE, including advanced F-35 aircraft, that was signed in the wake of Israel’s normalization deal with the Gulf nation, congressional aides told Reuters last month.

In January, the new administration put a temporary hold on several major foreign arms sales initiated by former US president Donald Trump, including the deal to provide 50 F-35 advanced fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, which was fast-tracked by Washington after Abu Dhabi agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

A State Department spokesperson told Reuters that estimated delivery dates to the UAE were for after 2025.

In addition to the massive $23 billion transfer of stealth F-35 fighters to the United Arab Emirates, another deal being paused is a planned major sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia. Both sales were harshly criticized by Democrats in Congress.

Jared Kushner launches peace institute to advance Abraham Accords
Jared Kushner has launched an institute to promote his major accomplishment when he advised his father-in-law, former US President Donald Trump: the normalization agreements between Israel and a number of Sunni Arab countries.

Kushner founded the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace with Avi Berkowitz, a friend who Kushner brought in to be the chief Middle East peace negotiator in the latter part of his father-in-law’s single presidential term, Axios reported on Wednesday.

Berkowitz helped broker the accords last year that brought normalization agreements between Israel and Sudan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The institute will promote trade, tourism and people-to-people exchanges between Israel and the Arab countries.

The other founders include Haim Saban, an Israeli American entertainment mogul who also is a major donor to the Democratic Party. Axios said that Kushner wants to bring more Democrats on board. The Abraham Accords is one of the few diplomatic initiatives launched by Trump that President Joe Biden has fully embraced.

Kushner has laid low since his father-in-law left office and has not pronounced on the false claims Trump peddles that Joe Biden’s election was fraudulent. Kushner, who led Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, is reportedly no longer among his father-in-law’s political advisers.
US pulls out of Durban anti-racism meet up, is Australia next?
As countries prepare to officially mark the 20th anniversary of a 2001 United Nations conference notorious for its extreme antisemitism, the United States has made the principled decision not to participate.

It is anticipated that other countries, Australia included, may consider following suit.

Held in the South African coastal city of Durban, the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance produced a conference declaration that singled out Israel alone for criticism, out of all the world’s nations. It was preceded by an NGO sideshow event where virulent antisemitic behaviour was widespread, facilitated by the organisers. The situation became so dire that Jewish participants had to be accompanied by additional security to ensure their personal safety at the conference.

The overall event, which became colloquially known as Durban I, was a watershed in the long and dishonourable history of the UN being manipulated to discredit Israel, the world’s sole Jewish state.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, the United States has decided it will not participate in the 20th anniversary event planned for September 22, 2021. A spokesperson told the Israeli publication: “the United States stands with Israel and has always shared its concerns over the Durban process’s anti-Israel sentiment, use as a forum for antisemitism and freedom of expression issues.”

Since 2001, there have been two follow up conferences, in 2009 and 2011. In both instances, there were few attempts to right the wrongs of Durban I. In both instances, the United States, Australia, and a small group of similarly minded truly anti-racist countries, boycotted.

At the conclusion of Durban I, Australia’s then-foreign minister Alexander Downer noted there was language in the conference declaration “with which we could not be associated”.

Australia did not send a delegation in 2009, when then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a welcomed speaker, despite having called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and denying the Holocaust.

In 2011, the Australian Government participated in early discussions, but soon withdrew. Then-prime minister Julia Gillard noted she had “not been convinced that the high-level meeting will avoid unbalanced criticism of Israel and the airing of anti-Semitic views.”

The Australian Government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already flagged its concern with the 20th anniversary event.
  • Wednesday, May 05, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
At first, this story in NG Misr looked like it was a rare Arabic language story that is sympathetic about the Holocaust, describing the amazing Irena Sendler, the Polish woman who saved many Jewish children during the Holocaust (and who is supposed to be the subject of a movie starring Gal Gadot.) 

However, the author, Moawia Elzahaby, finishes the article with Holocaust denial.

In the story he wrote sentences like, “She was able to save the lives of thousands of Jews from Hitler’s alleged Holocaust.” and  "According to what the Jews and those who sympathize with them propagate, Irena put children in suitcases and took them out of the besieged Jewish quarters/neighborhoods.”

His true colors really come out at the end, though:

At the end of the war and the fall of Nazism, the Jews began to search for proof and evidence that the Nazi Holocaust happened to them. The story of the Polish nurse was one of those stories that they began to propagate and revere. Today Hollywood produces a huge film that tells a story the events of which are closer to fiction than to reality. The film does not need many artistic touches. The question surrounding these type of stories - and whether the Holocaust itself actually took place – remains open. The Jews claim that millions of them were killed, while voices – that are accused of antisemitism – say that the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis is nothing but an exaggeration, and the number of their dead is not more than a few thousand.
Nothing to see here, just another Egyptian who considers Jews liars and the Holocaust a myth.

(h/t Ibn Boutros)

  • Wednesday, May 05, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
This year, Iran's annual hatefest called Quds Day this Friday is only online because of the pandemic.

Ahead of that holiday, which was created as a response to Jerusalem Day, Iranian media - which is all government approved - is proving quite definitively that its problem isn't with Zionism, but with Jews.

The headline of this Al Alam TV article says that the Arabs in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem are threatened by  "the fangs of jungle monsters" - their woke term for Jews.

lengthy article at PressTV (English) goes over a twisted history of Israel and features an interview with Lebanese academic Denijal Jegic, a frequent contributor to Al Jazeera. This expert confidently tells us that Jewish history is a lie:

This whole Zionist narrative is really just based on myths and ways to construct the history and the connection to the land that was not there before the settler colonial movement...I'm not surprised to hear that the Zionist regime is having their own [Jerusalem] day because it's also a way for them to inscribe themselves into Palestine and to construct the connection to the land that wasn't there before.
Jegic once wrote a chapter to a book whose abstract reads, "This chapter explores the inclusion of Palestine within Transnational American Studies and discusses how intersectional and transnational understandings of the Palestinian intifada can be applied for the analysis of subaltern forms of expression. While the impossibility to effectively differentiate between US and Israeli hegemony has transformed Palestinians into a contemporarily transnationally colonized people, discussions on settler-colonialism and ethnic cleansing, while formerly absent from American Studies, were articulated by Black activists and artists, who voiced a transnationalization of the Palestinian intifada as a revolutionary intervention into hegemonic concepts. In order grasp the potential of artist-activist work, and in order to expand the decolonial discourse, Transnational American Studies needs to combine the analysis of political, economic, and military components of transnational hegemony with the highlighting of counter-hegemonic articulations of resistance." 

Good to know his antisemitism is well-grounded in the latest intersectional motifs and transnationalist narratives.

Meanwhile, Iranian figurehead president Hasan Rouhani said Zionists are the worst people on Earth:
Rouhnai [sic] termed the Zionists as the enemies of the region and its security, the enemies of the Palestinian nation, the murders [sic] who displaced millions of civilians. 

He went on to say that during the past decades, nobody has been such criminal [sic] as the Zionists are.
Millions of civilians displaced! 

More civilians were killed by Iran in the Iran-Iraq war than were killed in the past hundred years of conflict in Israel.

  • Wednesday, May 05, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
B'Tselem tweeted that Jews had set Arab fields on fire last night.

The tweet received thousands of "Likes" with respondents calling the arsonists terrorists.

Which they are.

Except they are Arab, setting fields from the neighboring Jewish community of Givat Ronen on fire.

Residents spent hours fighting the blazes. 

An IDF spokesperson confirmed that security cameras detected three separate fires were set by Arabs at Givat Ronen. 

Arabs setting fires to Jewish fields is hardly unusual - it happens every year, and it has happened since before the State of Israel was established. 

But B'Tselem, Peace Now and others immediately believed the lies that these fires were set by "settlers" and spread the slander to thousands of people already primed to believe any lies about Jews. 

To be sure, there has been arson done by Jewish settlers, and it should be condemned. But it is the responsibility of NGOs to check stories before spreading them, and the track record of Arab media that they mindlessly parrot is not very good in cases like these. 

Similarly, no one seems to report things like Arabs shooting fireworks directly at Jewish-owned houses in Jerusalem, while the converse would have been front page news. (This happened last month.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

From Ian:

Matti Friedman: Eight Tips for Reading About Israel
From my position as a journalist in Israel, perched on the fault line between Western preoccupations and the country where I live, I’m confronted with a growing perception gap. The gap becomes apparent in conversations with visitors flying in for a brief visit (at least when “flying in” was something that happened) or with those who take an interest in this place from far away. These observers have formed a picture of Israel based on stories — stories that might come from home, from college friends or professors, from a Jewish summer camp or day school, or from journalism.

Some of these stories are positive and others negative, but what they generally share is being only tenuously linked to reality. Observers thus find themselves struggling to reconcile the State of Israel as it really is to the narratives in their head — an effort that often ends with either retreat into the imaginary landscape they had in the first place, or frustration with reality’s failure to cooperate. It’s possible that visitors to any country have a similar problem, but I suspect that Westerners landing in, say, Burundi (to name a country whose population is about the same size as Israel’s) arrive with less preexisting information and emotion, making the perception gap less of a challenge.

People who live in the liberal worlds of Western Europe and North America more often seem to approach Israel with a shared narrative about the place and shared sources of information, chiefly the international press. That’s an industry I know well, having spent formative years of my journalism career as a correspondent and editor for the Associated Press, one of the world’s biggest news organizations, in the Jerusalem bureau.

2 | why are you telling me this?
Is your source of information an observer whose job is to explain things, or an activist with a political plan? Being an activist is fine, but it’s important to understand who’s who. An activist doesn’t need to tell you everything, just the things that will draw you to his point of view. To take examples from the Israeli context, groups such as Breaking the Silence or B’Tselem are activist groups, and so, on the other side of the spectrum, are groups like StandWithUs. Their material isn’t meant primarily to explain what’s going on, but to induce you to support a particular position. Contradictory information won’t be included. Their role is like that of an attorney at a divorce trial: If you’re representing the wife, your job isn’t to offer a fair assessment of the husband. Your job is to savage his character in your client’s interest and to get the judge on your side.

What makes sorting journalists from activists more and more difficult is that many journalists have become activists — that is, they see their job not as helping you understand events, but as pushing you toward their conclusions. They engineer their reporting to that end. Many Western reporters here in Israel, supported by the world of activist NGOs and international organizations (which is the same social and professional world inhabited by reporters, with much movement between them), believe that Israel is the problem. It follows, if you’re an activist, that what’s needed is not an understanding of Israel’s concerns, but a character assassination that will stoke anger and punish the guilty party. The goal is less to inform than to enrage. That’s why bloodshed during a Hamas attempt to penetrate the Gaza border (to cite one example from 2018) isn’t described as the result of actions, however imperfectly pursued, by Israeli soldiers to protect their citizens. Such a description would be true, but as activism it’s ineffective. Instead, the event must be presented as a kind of murder, even a massacre.

As soon as the press becomes activist, it becomes impossible to understand what’s going on. Anyone hoping to understand should be looking for knowledgeable observers capable of understanding different points of view.
Justice, justice shall you pursue: The crisis for American and French justice
France, as I have previously written, is in a state of cultural decline and loss of confidence by its intellectuals. What we see plainly in the Halimi case is an example of when righteousness is absent and the “robot” judges, only can see the surface of the law and cannot interpret the law to reflect righteousness.

“Justice, Justice shall thou pursue", then we are told to do more than mindlessly applying precedent, but to interpret the law where possible from a position of righteousness.

The failure to understand the ideological antisemitism and state of denial in France was made even clearer a year after the Halimi murder: Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old French Jewish woman and Holocaust survivor was murdered in her Paris apartment on 23 March 2018.

The two suspects, one of whom had known her since he was a child, entered the apartment and reportedly stabbed Knoll eleven times before setting her on fire. The older suspect told investigators that the younger suspect asserted “She’s a Jew. She must have money.” The two suspects have accused each other of the stabbing, one of them claiming that the other shouted Allahu Akbar as he stabbed her.

In this case, finally, the murder has been officially described by French authorities as antisemitic hate crime. Those who understand the need for judges and legislators all to be righteous, understand what must be done in both France and America.

And what we Jews learn is that no ideology should ever be used to thwart or overturn justice. Our Torah by repeating the word “Tsedek” makes it clear that righteousness not ideology is the foundation of justice.
Jews are increasingly welcome in the Islamic world
One message is coming through loud and clear in all this activity: Islamic countries want to nurture and grow their Jewish communities. But equally heartening is how Jewish communities in these countries are reaching out in friendship to their Muslim fellow citizens. Rabbis and Jewish community leaders are breaking bread at Ramadan iftars around the Islamic world and distributing food packages filled with Ramadan staples like dates, tea, lentils, chickpeas and other essentials to their Muslim neighbours, including many people in need.

These improvements in Muslim-Jewish interaction have occurred at a time when the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have established new relations with Israel. But the religious rapprochement runs deeper than politics, as signified by the communities that have moved closer to one another elsewhere. In the end, what we are seeing on a personal level is the result much more of Muslim-Jewish entente than Arab-Israeli diplomacy.

In this new reality, Muslims and Jews are becoming trusted partners and friends, relegating the longstanding hostility between Israel and the Islamic and Arab worlds to an anachronism. This transformation should offer hope for reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians.

There is more work to do. The Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, created only a few years ago, now boasts rabbinic members serving Jewish communities and residing in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Turkey, Tunisia, Uganda and Uzbekistan. Not all these places are as embracing of Jews yet as the UAE has been.

But never have I been more optimistic that a true and universal Muslim-Jewish partnership may be achievable. The efficacy and durability of such a relationship is being demonstrated every day by the Muslims and Jews who live together in mutual affection and peace, and the Jews in Muslim lands who are not merely tolerated but very much integral to the countries they call home.

In the Middle East and elsewhere, Muslim-Jewish friendship and solidarity unlocks the combined ability of our faith communities to defeat Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

Together, we can collaborate on medical, scientific and development breakthroughs that benefit each of us, and all of humankind. And certainly, while numbers may still be modest, the emergence of vibrant and sustainable Jewish communities in Muslim lands should be seen as an indisputable advance in building a more tolerant and co-operative world.
  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
  • ,

  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

From StrategyPage:

The Israeli Army has ordered a new guided 120mm mortar shell, Iron Sting, that can use GPS or laser guidance to hit targets with greater precision than any existing guided shell. Iron Sting is also equipped to work with a new digital fire control system that is also entering wide use in the Israeli military. That means 120mm mortars, which are vehicle mounted, can receive target location data from any Israeli ground, air or naval source and quickly program and fire Iron Sting shell at anything within twelve kilometers. While GPS guidance is reliable enough to put the shell within a few meters (ten feet) of the target, laser guidance can reliably hit individual vehicles, bunkers or snipers in buildings. The laser guidance requires someone within a few thousand meters of the target to aim the laser at the target and keep it there for the laser guided shell to hit the reflected laser light. Another advantage of laser guidance is that is harder to jam than GPS. Some GPS jammers can disrupt GPS guidance within several thousand meters. Laser signal disrupters are more expensive and only provide protection for individual vehicles and similar size targets. Israel has been using GPS guided 120mm shells since 2015 and they cost about $33,000 each. Iron Sting is more expensive but considered more effective due to the laser guidance and integration with the new fire control system.

Unguided mortar shells cannot put the first round very close to the target, which means firing several rounds to adjust aim before one gets one on target. A guided mortar round is very useful in urban warfare, where a miss will often kill civilians. The 120mm mortar round has about 8 kg (17 pounds) of explosives, compared to 10 kg (22) pounds in a 155mm shell. The smaller explosive charges reduce collateral damage to civilians. Normally, an unguided 120mm shell will land anywhere within a 136-meter circle (on the first shot). All GPS guided rounds land within a ten-meter circle and laser guided shells land within a one-meter circle. 
I'm not sure as to the price of each shell, but if they are more than $33,000 this seems a reasonable guess is $50,000.

That is how much Israel spends per shell to avoid civilian casualities.

Hamas's mortars, which are meant to kill civilians, are about $100 each. 

Israel haters love to say that Israel fires indiscriminately at civilians and shows no interest in reducing casualties. There are thousands of counter-proofs, and this is just one of them. 

But they will keep lying. 

(h/t MtTB)

From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: Mt. Meron and Israel's paradoxical nature
On Saturday night, as Tel Aviv's City Hall lit up with the image of the Israeli flag to commemorate the dozens killed and 150 injured in the crowd-crush two nights earlier on Mount Meron, Israelis of all backgrounds came together to light yahrzeit (memorial) candles.

Some of the people present at Rabin Square that evening, like others around the country, configurated tea lights in the shape of the numeral 45 – the number of people trampled to death during the Lag B'Omer celebrations.

The outpouring of nationwide grief over the victims and empathy with their families was not unusual in a state sadly accustomed to burying citizens who are, by all measures, too young to die. Nor was it novel for Israel's Kan Radio to play sad music, out of respect for the gravity of the hour.

The same can be said of the public's lining up in droves, and for hours on end in sweltering heat, to donate blood for the treatment of those still in the hospital. Though less frequent an occurrence, the offer by Israel's national carrier, El Al, of free passage for anyone from abroad needing to pay their last respects or provide bedside comfort to loved ones was also not surprising.

Even the fact that Arab villagers from the Meron area in the north rallied to help their Jewish brethren in distress – distributing free food and drink to survivors – wasn't totally out of the ordinary.

But all of the above has been noteworthy nevertheless, due to the identity of the casualties. All were ultra-Orthodox Jews who had made a pilgrimage to the gravesite of second-century sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to dance around the holiday's traditional bonfire – hosted, as it happened, by the Jerusalem-based, anti-Zionist sect, Toldot Aharon.

Throughout the past year, since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, already strained relations between the Haredim and secular Israeli society have been particularly fraught. Indeed, COVID-19 is one force majeure that hasn't been a unifying factor in the way that other shared traumatic experiences have been, due in large part to its dragged-out duration.
Jpost Editorial: After Meron, violence, Israel needs a government now - editorial
If anyone still harbors any lingering doubts about why Israel must not go to a fifth election, but rather form a stable, workable government as soon as possible, the events of the last two weeks should put those doubts to rest.

What happened two weeks ago? Clashes began in Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews, exacerbated by a protest by a group of racist Jews, that then led to terrorists from Gaza firing rockets into Israel.

That was followed by Thursday night’s horror in Meron, and no less than three terror attacks on Sunday, including a shooting attack at the Tapuah Junction that left one yeshiva student in life-threatening condition, another in serious condition, and a third with light injuries.

Why should any of that convince people of the need for a strong government and not spin the wheel on a fifth election? Because these incidents show that while Israeli politicians are fiddling around, things out there in the real world are happening.

The world continues to spin. But while it spins, Israel is unable to prepare or respond as it should because its leaders are otherwise engaged. The recent uptick in violence and Palestinian terror came as no great surprise. First, the Muslim month of Ramadan has for years been a period of increased violence in Israel.
From Israel: Are We “Judaizing” Jerusalem??
The amusement is fleeting, however, for there is nothing funny about the Arabs’ motivation in making this charge: They are seeking to delegitimize the Jewish claim to Jerusalem, and, more extensively, to Israel.

When I wrote my last posting, I said I would return to consider other reasons why Israel needs a strong right-wing government without delay. And this, my friends, is one significant reason. We need leaders who are clear on our rights and ready to stand on them. For, just as anti-Semitism is increasing world-wide, so is anti-Zionism, the flip side of the same ugly coin.

The Palestinian Arabs and their supporters may be virulently hostile, but they are not stupid. They know that Jerusalem and Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) are an essential element of our claim to the Land.

Our claim is based on international law.
We have just celebrated the 101st anniversary of the San Remo Conference: At the end of WWI, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan – with the United States as a neutral observer, came together for the Conference in San Remo, Italy, under the auspices of the League of Nations. They met to determine the allocation of Middle Eastern lands that had been part of the defeated Ottoman Empire. Borders were drawn that defined Mandate territories. These were to be governed temporarily by either Great Britain or France, and would receive independence within a relatively short period of time.

The Mandate for Palestine was given to Great Britain, which was charged with establishing it as a Jewish homeland.

The decision made at San Remo was then officially confirmed in a unanimous vote of the League of Nations (51 nations) on June 24, 1922. Thus was the Jewish right to the land established in international law; that law still stands. Jerusalem, it should be noted, was within the area defined by the Mandate as a Jewish homeland.

Our claim is also based on heritage and history.
Incorporated into the San Remo Resolution regarding the Mandate for Palestine was the Balfour Declaration – a 1917 letter from the British Foreign Secretary declaring the government’s sympathy with Zionist aspirations and endorsing establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

The text of the Mandate for Palestine as passed by the League of Nations additionally said this:
“…recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

This is huge. The fifty-one nations of the world belonging to the League of Nations all signed on to a document recognizing the Jewish historical connection to Palestine. (See the full list here:

The US was not a member of the League of Nations, but the Lodge-Fish Resolution, passed by both houses of Congress on June 22, 1922 (before the League of Nations voted), endorsed the Mandate for Palestine; it was then signed by President Warren Harding.
  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Al Monitor reports that Palestinians are upset that Jews are visiting - and praying in - an ancient synagogue.

Israeli settlers have been increasing their visits to the ruins of the ancient Naaran and Shahwan synagogues in the Jericho area in the West Bank and also performing rituals in them, sparking Palestinian fears about Israeli intentions for the region.

Iyad Hamdan, the director of the Department of Tourism and Archaeology in the city of Jericho, told Al-Monitor, “The Shahwan and Al-Dyouk [Naaran] synagogues are two archaeological sites located within the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ sites in the Jericho area and the Jordan Valley."

He added, “The archaeological sites are not a place for worship, but the settlers treat them as such and insist on performing Talmudic rituals in the synagogues. More than 50 settlers visit the two synagogues on a weekly basis.”

Mohammad Jaradat, the director of tourism and antiquities for Jericho governorate, said that although the Shahwan synagogue in the city of Jericho is in Area A of the West Bank, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority, the visits from Israeli settlers and tourists "stem from the terms of the Oslo Accords, which allowed in its additional annexes the Jews to visit the synagogue which is known [to them] as Shalom Al Yisrael Synagogue." Shalom Al Yisrael means “Peace Unto Israel.”

He told Al-Monitor, “Israeli army forces accompany the settlers when visiting many archaeological sites in Jericho governorate to protect them. These include the archaeological Tal al-Sultan site.”

He said the "settlers’ visits are intended to entrench settlement, as they consider the site part of the Jewish religious heritage.” He added, “The visits to the archaeological and historical sites are a Zionist attempt to Judaize the Jericho area and the Jordan Valley to implement part of the Zionist annexation plan."

He added, “The two synagogues are part of Palestinian history that dates back to thousands of years."
As usual, the Palestinian officials are not telling the truth.

1. It isn't only "settlers" visiting the Shalom Al Yisrael synagogue - Jews worldwide visit it.

2. The 1995 Oslo Accords Interim Agreement doesn't call it an archaeological site - it calls it a Jewish holy site. It "ensure[s] free, unimpeded and secure access to the relevant Jewish holy site," refers to its "Jewish religious nature" and says "existing religious practices shall be preserved."

3. There is nothing new with Jews visiting the site to pray. Jews resumed praying with a quorum after the second intifada regularly since 2007, and every Friday several years afterwards.

4. Note that Jaradat admits that the IDF needs to accompany the Jews visiting the site to protect them. It is obvious that their lives are in danger otherwise and that Palestinian police cannot be trusted to protect Jews wanting to pray in their own holy site. This article itself is proof of that - it is a new initiative to give the impression that Jews have no religious rights in Jericho.

5. Part of Palestinian history that dates back thousands of years? Please.

Incidentally, the mosaic floor there includes many depictions of heart shapes. 

While the Jewish Jericho site claims that these hearts - half green and half red - symbolize the emotional and logical parts of the heart, that shape was not associated with the human heart (as far as I can tell) until the Middle Ages. In Greece, the decorative shape was more often associated with leaves. 

If anyone has any idea of what heart shapes would have meant to 3rd century CE Jews , I'd love to know! This book thinks they are some sort of directional arrows. 


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