Friday, February 14, 2014

From Ian:

Dr. King’s pro-Israel legacy: His prophetic voice still speaks, part 1
Since his death, many groups have attempted to use the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as champion of their cause. His timeless quotes are applied to all things related to social justice, equality and political freedom. Of course, in addition to being a beacon for all of the above, Dr. King was also a staunch supporter of the State of Israel, and loyal friend to the Jewish people. Yet this historical, indisputable fact does not seem to phase anti-Zionists who also claim Dr. King’s posthumous blessing on their agenda. How do they reconcile such a blatant discrepancy? They simply label the Palestinians as victims and the Israelis as perpetrators, and voila: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, becomes an obvious condemnation of the Jewish State.
The problem is, we have Dr. King’s unambiguous words supporting Israel, and none of his words to the contrary. In fact, his most full-throated endorsement of Israel may surprise you, not just because of its content, but its context.
Leftist figures did not set Schulz straight on facts
On Tuesday, European Union Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen hosted a dinner in honor of Schulz at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Among those in attendance was Naomi Chazan, a former Meretz MK and deputy Knesset speaker who is now a director in the left-wing NGO New Israel Fund; Yossi Beilin, former Meretz leader and cabinet minister and one of the architects of the Geneva Initiative; Ron Pundak, who helped draft the Oslo Accords in 1993 and is a former director-general of the Peres Center for Peace; Akiva Eldar, former Haaretz correspondent, and Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee at the Council for Higher Education. Labor MK Hilik Bar was the only politician at the event. No government or right-wing representatives were invited.
At the event, Schulz said that he had just visited the Palestinian Authority, where he had been told that Israel did not distribute water fairly. He also said he was told of infringements on Palestinian freedom of movement. No one in the audience challenged Schulz on the facts or tried to set the record straight. Some of the people at the dinner said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be able to make better decisions if he faced more outside pressure.
Roving Sea Peoples may have settled Transjordan, archaeologist says
New evidence unearthed at an ancient site in the Jordan Valley suggests that the Sea Peoples — a group which includes the ancient Israelites’ nemeses, the Philistines — settled as far inland as the Transjordan, a Swedish archaeologist argues. Not everyone in the archaeological community, however, is convinced by the finds.
The find, made by a team digging at Tell Abu al-Kharaz, also strengthens the ties connecting the Sea Peoples and the Aegean — reinforcing the theory that the Philistines were among a number of tribes of non-Semitic peoples who migrated across the Mediterranean and settled in Canaan in the early Iron Age alongside the emergent Israelites.

Media Maven Dangles Boycott Over Israel's Head While Israel's Economy Booms
Since the founding of the Jewish state, Israel and its supporters have contended with an unrelenting effort to isolate and delegitimize it. Economic boycotts figure prominently as a non-violent form of coercion to squeeze concessions from Israel. Yet boycotts have historically yielded poor results. The Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign, now in its tenth year, makes a lot noise, but has little to show for its efforts.
Many of Israel's foes in the West seem caught in a time warp, imagining the Israeli economy as it was decades ago, relatively undeveloped, struggling under a mountain of debt with runaway inflation and hampered by an intrusive state and union monopoly.
The mass immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s heralded a technological flowering and entrepreneurial boom that opened up and transformed Israel's economy.
JCPA: Future EU Sanctions Against Israel? Real, Imagined, and Somewhere in Between
There are some senior Israeli officials who join in predicting that the measures taken by the European Union recently against cooperation with any Israeli economic activity over the pre-1967 lines could get worse, predicting that the boycott against settlements might be applied to all of Israel. Even Secretary of State John Kerry has warned that international action might be taken against Israel if progress in the peace process is not achieved.
While Israel has had difficulties making its case in Europe in recent years, especially after military clashes like Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008-9 or its interception of the lead ship in the Gaza Flotilla in 2010, is this scenario of a full-scale EU boycott of Israel at all realistic in the context of a diplomatic scenario? Let’s say Israeli-Palestinian negotiations reach an impasse; might EU economic sanctions be applied? Much of the discourse about this scenario is being conducted with little awareness about how the EU actually makes decisions in foreign policy.
How Isolated is Israel?
1. A record of 5.3 million tourists in Israel in 2013.
2. A record of $83.2BN foreign exchange reserves reflects the strength of Israel's Shekel, at a time when the currencies of the emerging markets plummet.
3. A record of $2.3BN invested in 662 Israeli startups in 2013 (21% above 2012), according to KPMG and IVC (Globes, January 23, 2014).
Answering Casual Anti-Israel Libels
Many Israelis and their friends abroad have focused in recent years on efforts to “rebrand” their country as an attractive tourist destination or a source of high-tech innovation. Others have insisted that Israel’s image will never be improved until peace with the Palestinians has been reached. These strategies have helped instill a certain degree of complacency, if not apathy in a pro-Israel community that has come to accept slanders and false information about the Jewish state as something that is bad but about which nothing can be done.
It is true that much of the anti-Israeli invective coming out of Europe has its roots in anti-Semitism, whether imported from the Middle East by immigrants or the product of anti-Zionist incitement from intellectual and academic elites. But the offhand nature of Schulz’s utterances should tell us that there is no substitute for an energetic effort on the part of Israelis and their foreign friends to answer any and all such libels. By assuming that intelligent people won’t believe slanders, they let lies like the water statistics become a form of conventional wisdom that is difficult to correct once accepted by the public. (h/t Norman F)
UC Riverside defeats Divestment resolution
The University of California at Riverside Student government voted last night to defeat a BDS resolution aimed at companies doing business in Israel. This is the second year in a row that BDS has lost at UC Riverside.
After the vote, pro divestment students left the room claiming they had been "silenced". On the contrary- they had spoken, made their arguments and had their say. Their arguments had been found deficient by their elected student council.
The UC Regents issued a firm statement opposing divestment in 2005, so any student council vote on the issue is purely symbolic. The commitment to oppose divestment from Israel was reiterated in 2010
Israel thanks US for fighting academic boycott
The presidents of universities in Israel sent a letter Thursday to their colleagues in the United States thanking them for fighting against the academic boycott against Israel.
The letter was sent to 150 leading universities and colleges, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia and Duke.
"We are honored that you stand beside us in this unacceptable situation," Hebrew University of Jerusalem President Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson wrote.
The big boycott bluff
Second, the menace of BDS is being overstated for political purposes. The Left, and, perversely, part of the hard Right, is deliberately prophesying doom and gloom. For differing reasons, each camp is playing a foul and perilous game.
As I say, there is no real boycott threat, because money goes where the business is good, and Israel is very good business.
BDS Group Opposing Rolling Stones Concert in Tel Aviv Says Syria’s Assad ‘Owned by the Jews’
The comment thread, since removed by the group, showed a conversation with a Jewish poster named Stephen Ackerman, who wrote to say, “I suggest a flotilla to Save the Syrians. But you don’t really care about true victims,” to which he later added, “130,000 dead Syrians and you don’t care,” then taunting them with, but “If Assad were a Jew, you would care.”
The group responded, “Assad is owned by the Jews and we do care. Two genocides don’t make a right,” to which Ackerman responded, “Really? Owned by the Jews? Are you sure you don’t mean Israel?“
SWC Blasts British Photographer Rankin for ‘Ludicrously Uninformed’ and ‘Downright Anti-Semitic’ Comments
Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) had harsh words for celebrity photographer Rankin on Thursday in response to anti-Jewish comments he made in an interview with Britain’s Independent.
“Rankin’s PC anti-Israel talking points range from ludicrously uninformed to downright anti-Semitic,” SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told The Algemeiner.
Film reveals anti-Zionist threat faced by students
Anti-Zionism and antisemitism are still too often conflated on university campuses, and Jewish students are paying the price.
That’s the view advanced in Crossing The Line: Exploring Israel On Campus, a new documentary which raises concerns about the safety of students targeted by anti-Israel activists.
The film was launched in the UK this week by Jerusalem U’s executive vice-president, Eli Ovits. He said that the film, which is being screened on campuses and in community centres across the country and will soon be available online, would help encourage a more objective view of Israel.
Ilan Halimi’s killer attacks prison guard in France
Fofana was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for his role in the murder of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jewish phone salesman.
A gang of at least 16 people led by Fofana abducted Halimi and tortured and starved him for 24 days while they negotiated with his family to obtain ransom. Fofana assured his gang that they would be paid because Halimi was Jewish.
Russian Lawmaker: 'Jews Destroyed Russia'
A Russian Member of Parliament (MP) burst out in an anti-Semitic tirade last Thursday, attacking other Russian lawmakers as "Jews" responsible for the 1917 Communist revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Oleg Bolychev, an MP from the ruling United Russia party, called his opponents "Jews, mired in opposition," during a debate at the regional parliament in Kaliningrad, reports AFP.
Israel summons Hungarian envoy to express concern over rising anti-Semitism
The Foreign Ministry summoned the Hungarian ambassador to Jerusalem on Thursday, in a rare move to voice Israel’s “deep concern” over growing anti-Semitic incidents in the country.
Rafi Schutz, the ministry’s deputy director-general for Europe, told Ambassador Andor Nagy that Israel was also worried about anti-Semitic statements in the political arena that call into question Hungary’s willingness to deal truthfully and courageously with its past.
He said there were worrying trends toward re-writing the history of the Holocaust and the role that Hungary’s anti-Semitic wartime leader Miklos Horthy played in it, as well as a forgiving attitude by some government officials toward anti-Semitic trends.
Netanyahu Offers Cameron Assistance with Floods
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Thursday evening with British Prime Minister David Cameron and offered assistance in dealing with the storms affecting Great Britain.
The two agreed to coordinate a new date for Cameron's visit to Israel, which was due to take place next week but has been postponed because of the aforesaid storms.
Star Wars-style laser shield aims to protect all of Israel from short-range rockets
An Israeli state-owned arms company developing a laser-based missile shield that evokes “Star Wars” style technology says its deployment over the country is closer to becoming a reality.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said development of the system was advanced enough for the company to be comfortable with publicizing it at this week’s Singapore Airshow, which is Asia’s largest aerospace and defense exhibition.
The laser technology behind the missile shield called Iron Beam is not that far removed from fiction.
Japanese Internet giant snags Viber for $900m
Viber, the Israeli-founded video and voice communications app, has been acquired by Japanese Internet services company Rakuten for $900 million. Rakuten, an electronic commerce and Internet company, is the largest e-commerce site in Japan, and one of the largest in the world.
The app, that allows users to make free phone and video calls within its network, has over 200 million users all over the world, including many in Arab countries – exceptional for an app that was created in Israel. Although the company is currently based in Cyprus, its R&D center remains in Israel. Viber was released about three years ago and positioned by company CEO Talmon Marco as an alternative to Skype.
World’s Oldest Holocaust Survivor Stars in Oscar-Nominated Film
In her 110 years, Alice Herz-Sommer has been an accomplished concert pianist and teacher, a wife and mother — and a prisoner in Theresienstadt.
Now she is the star of an Oscar-nominated documentary showing her indomitable optimism, cheerfulness and vitality despite all the upheavals and horrors she faced in the 20th century.
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” a 38-minute film up for best short documentary at the Academy Awards to be handed out next month, begins in her native Prague. Alice — everyone from presidents on down calls her Alice — was born on Nov. 26, 1903 into an upper-class Jewish family steeped in literature and classical music.

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