Monday, February 17, 2014

From Ian:

Gerald M. Steinberg: Oxfam’s Middle East blinders
Oxfam also distorts economic analyses of the West Bank and Gaza, repeatedly arguing that that the sole impediment to Palestinian development is Israeli policy, ignoring intra-Palestinian limitations and factors, as well as immoral mass-terror attacks. Similarly, Oxfam uses its power and access to lobby the European Union to sanction Israel. In 2009, four years after the last Israelis left Gaza, Oxfam International’s director, Jeremy Hobbs, demonized the Jewish state for creating “the world’s largest prison” and erasing geography (Gaza shares a border with Egypt), and blamed it for Hamas’ policy of diverting humanitarian resources to fund terrorism.
For all of these reasons, the criticism of Oxfam’s role in the anti-Israel boycott industry is clearly justified. An organization based on promoting moral principles cannot support and enable one-sided boycotts and double standards that demonize and single out Israel. To go beyond the rhetoric of “reducing poverty and addressing injustice,” and put these words into action, Oxfam must end its involvement in all forms of demonization, and win back Scarlett Johansson’s heart.
Responding to the J Street Challenge
This reality is implicitly acknowledged in “The J Street Challenge,” a critical documentary film about the organization that has just been released by Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a Boston-based group run by the well-known anti-slavery activist Charles Jacobs. And it is a reality that, Jacobs and his co-producers insist, needs to be grappled with through honest debate and discussion.
The key question raised by the film is what it means to be “pro-Israel” not on a personal level, but within the context of the political lobbying and advocacy that swirls around American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or, as Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse more accurately terms it in her interview in the film, “the Arab conflict with Israel”). And when you examine J Street’s record, it becomes very hard to dispute Professor Alan Dershowitz’s assertion that the organization—despite its much-vaunted tagline—is “neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace.” Trailer
Orthodox Jew? Hate Israel? The New York Times Wants To Interview You
In “A Conflict of Faith: Devoted to Jewish Observance, but at Odds With Israel,” the New York Times wants to disabuse readers of the minority-antiZionist-380x252notion that observant Jews are all pro-Israel. So they highlight four who oppose not only Israel’s policies, but even favor the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Of course, the article does reference the fact that their views are at odds with family and friends. But it begs the question: Why would the New York Times publish a feature piece — in the “beliefs” section no less — about people whose views are in an extreme minority?
Why Anti-Zionist Jews Are a Minority
What the overwhelming majority of Jews know that these five people and their adoring audience at the Times don’t is that opposition to Israel’s existence—as opposed to criticism of it—is taking a stand against the right of the Jewish people to life. While there is a portion of the ultra-Orthodox community that also holds to anti-Zionism because of their own bizarre interpretation of Judaism (which strangely goes unmentioned in the article), non-Haredim who do so are fighting common sense, history, and the basic principles of fairness. If those who adopt such positions are a minority, it is not due to any resistance on the part of the majority to ethics or concern for others but because of the implausibility of their beliefs. (h/t NormanF)

In the shadow of death
For any self-respecting person, and especially for Israelis such as myself, the endorsement of terror by association, at a Christian conference, is obscene. Yet it is also a spurn for Palestinian Christians such as the Bethlehem Baptist minister, Naim Khoury. Khoury has been shot three times and his church has been bombed fourteen times because he advocates Zionism based on his understanding of the Bible. Khoury is too busy to care. He is exerting his energy pastoring a vibrant and unexpectedly, flourishing congregation, even though the PA has informed Khoury that his church now lacks the authority to function as a religious institution – announcing this decision the week following CATC. Unlike Khoury, a Christian minister who is always welcome at conference is the Reverend Stephen Sizer.
Sizer, an Anglican priest who oversees an English congregation, has been accused of anti-Semitism – a charge that he vigorously denies. The allegations arose in part due to links that he posted on his numerous blogs that directed people to anti-Semitic sites. Sizer, insistent that he “loves Jews” and “loves Israel,” agreed to remove the links, although he still has photos of himself standing alongside those who advocate the murder of the very Jews and Israelis whom he loves; people such as Yassir Arafat, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Raed Salach and Nabil Kaouk the senior commander of Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon.
Christians against BDS in the heart of London
Representatives of Israel-supporting Christian groups held a bold event on Wednesday afternoon to counter the efforts of the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign in Britain to recruit churches to join its cause.
Following the efforts of a London church to hijack Christmas in support of the anti-Israel BDS movement, Christian pastor Mike Fryer held a counter event yesterday in the very same building.
His aim was to educate Christians on how to oppose the deceptive BDS campaign with solid facts. The event drew about Christian and Jewish supporters of Israel, impressive for a soaking wet Wednesday afternoon.
Israel Boycotters Attempt to Hijack Another Meeting
The recent California State University (CSU) Trustees bimonthly meeting took an odd turn.
Amid pressing discussions about budgets, improving student success, and other education issues, anti-Israel boycott activists at the Jan. 29 meeting interjected the subject of Jews and Israel. They made up almost a third of the speakers (seven out of 22) who had requested time to address the trustees during the allotted 30-minute public comments session.
Soros Makes Drugmaker Teva Biggest Stake as Shares Climb
Soros Fund Management LLC, the family office of billionaire George Soros, boosted its stake in Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA), making the Israeli drugmaker its largest holding in the fourth quarter.
The New York-based firm added 5.7 million shares to its stake in Teva during the last three months of 2013, boosting its holding to $373 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 14. Petach Tikva, Israel-based Teva was the fund’s largest increase by market value during the period and represents 4 percent of the $9.2 billion fund, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Teva, the world’s largest maker of generic drugs, has gained 10.3 percent this year after its board appointed Erez Vigodman as its new chief executive officer, replacing Jeremy Levin, who resigned in October. The company has pledged to overhaul its board and cut costs as it faces competition from cheaper generic versions for its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, which analysts say contributes to more than 50 percent of profit.
Palestine's Winchester Mystery House
The home is located on over 30 dunams of land. According to the blog Mohamed Abdel-Hadi made his fortune in the construction industry, and helped oversee the design and the construction.
There is tremendous wealth in the Palestinian territories, and there is tremendous poverty. It is the same in Israel, and in America, and all over the world. The Palestinians are not "special" in this regard. The lie that must be disputed over and over is that the Palestinians somehow have a monopoly on victimhood and suffering, and that it is solely the fault of the "occupation" . Perhaps a day will come when activists remove their blinders and see the role of the Palestinian leadership in perpetuating the misery of their own people
How Palestinian propaganda beats Israeli hasbara
Politicians like Schultz however, should check the facts before they form and express their opinions. As I have pointed out before Palestinian propaganda has its influence even up to the highest echelons. The EU is perhaps the best example of how this propaganda has influenced public opinion and policy making.
But I also think Israel is not doing enough to counter the Palestinian propaganda. Instead of walking out of the Knesset during Shultz’ speech (Jewish Home) or condemning his remarks (Netanyahu), Israel should have released a statement with the exact data about this water issue.
Amira Hass, Ha'aretz Publish False Water Charges
In a front page article in Ha’aretz (Feb. 13, 2014; click here for the cached version), Amira Hass claims that “Israelis – including those in the settlements – use three times more water a day in their households as West Bank Palestinians do,” and goes on to charge, among other things, that this is: "just one aspect of the large discrepancy between Israelis and Palestinians in access, development and use of water resources ..."
Hass is dead wrong about the relative usage of water by Israelis and Palestinians, but before getting into details and numbers, it’s important to illustrate a deeper distortion in her claims.
Senior IDF Official Slams Australian Report on Palestinian Minors
"Simply fictitious," responded a senior Israel Defense Forces official when asked about allegations leveled in a Feb. 10, 2014 Australia Broadcasting Corporation "Four Corners" report concerning brutal torture of Palestinian children during interrogations.
In contravention of journalistic codes of ethics, reporter John Lyons never gave Israeli officials the opportunity to respond specifically to the alleged instances of extreme abuse described. CAMERA, therefore, checked with Israeli authorities, reaching a high-level official intimately knowledgeable about the minors interviewed in the "Stone Cold Justice" broadcast.
Latest Sinai-based terror attack on tourism targets comes as a revelation to the BBC
Of course attacks on tourism-related targets are actually already part of the “strategy” of what the BBC insists upon euphemistically terming “militant groups” operating in Sinai. Just last month there were two separate incidents of missile fire by Global Jihad terrorists on the city of Eilat – which has an economy primarily based on tourism. However, both those attacks were ignored by the BBC meaning that its audiences – and apparently also its staff – lack the context necessary to appreciate the inaccuracy of Orla Guerin’s statement.
Neo-Nazis march in support of anti-Semitic WWII Bulgarian general
As many as 300 right-wing extremists marched on Saturday in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia to honor a pro-Nazi Bulgarian general who propagated anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish repression during World War II.
Speaking from Sofia with The Jerusalem Post, Robert Djerassi, the president of the Central Israelite Religious Council, said Mayor Yordanka Fandakova had outlawed the march. However, the marchers changed their route and proceeded with the rally honoring Gen. Hristo Lukov, according to the media reports.
Anti-fascists assassinated Lukov in 1943. He remains a hero for neo-Nazi and right-wing extremists in Bulgaria. One of his assassins was a female Jewish partisan resistance fighter.
Far-right Hungarian party holds rally in former synagogue
The rally by the party, whose ultra-nationalist platform is laced with anti-Semitism and anti-Roma policy, was held Saturday night in the former synagogue in the town of Esztergom, located 29 miles north of Budapest.
The building currently is operated by the local government as a cultural and meeting center.
Several hundred demonstrators protested the meeting. They stood outside the former synagogue during the Jobbik rally reading the names of the 500 Holocaust victims who were deported to Auschwitz from the town in 1944.
Israel Helping India Clean Polluted Wetlands
A team of Israel scientists arrived in Bhubaneswar, Hubaneswar, India, this week to test a pilot program to use plants to remove pollutants from contaminated soil and water, the Times of India reported on Wednesday.
Eli Cohen, one of the Israeli team members, said, “The technology can be used by municipalities, multi-dwellings units, industries and wetlands for holistic waste-water management.”
German program to restore 2nd Moroccan synagogue
A historic synagogue in Morocco will be refurbished in a joint project with the German Foreign Ministry.
The synagogue in Essaouira will be the second to be restored under a special German government program.
Tuesday’s announcement came as the Moroccan ambassador in Berlin, Omar Zniber, launched an exhibit at the embassy’s cultural center of photographs of Moroccan Jews from the 1960s as well as new photos of synagogues in the country, both pre- and post-renovation.
Jewish ‘Monuments Man’ honored by German hometown
Harry Ettlinger, 88, who had already attended a red-carpet screening of George Clooney’s new “The Monuments Men” movie about the group at the Berlin film festival last week, received the so-called Staufer Medal at an art museum in Karlsruhe, southwestern Germany.
The prize is awarded for service to the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and was presented by the region’s top culture official, Juergen Walter.
“I never expected such a big honor,” Ettlinger said as he accepted the medal, according to German news agency DPA.
When Beijing Met Jerusalem: Chinese Activity in Israel Expands Dramatically
Over the past year, Chinese activity in Israel has expanded dramatically, Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Saturday.
Beyond business ventures, Chinese fingerprints are increasingly appearing across a variety of disciplines including national infrastructure projects, commerce, finance, real estate, hi tech, and even academia, Channel 10 said.
Mountain gazelle makes Golan comeback after tough times
The mountain gazelle, a symbol of Israel long on the endangered species list, has made an impressive comeback on the Golan Heights as, for the third straight year, its population has increased.
After a laborious process involving dozens of volunteer inspectors armed with binoculars and maps trudging across the rocky Golan in search of gazelles, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority officially declared that 328 specimens now live on the Heights — a 25% increase.


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