Monday, April 07, 2014

From Ian:

John B. Judis and the Future of Liberal Support for Israel
Judis’ historical narrative, where it is not outright erroneous, is marked by the tendentiousness of someone with an ideological ax to grind. For example, he usually describes Arab violence in low-key terms, and mostly explains it as a response to Zionist actions; whereas Jewish violence repeatedly seems to amount to wanton brutality.
The Arab riots of 1929, for one, are presented as being triggered by Jewish provocation. The Palestinian leader, Haj Amin al-Husseini, writes Judis, “was not trying to start protests, and certainly not a riot, but… when Zionist groups began to claim that the [Western] wall was theirs, Palestine’s Arabs took to the streets.” Omitted is the fact that Jewish claims were voiced peacefully, while the Arabs quickly turned to brutal violence. Judis does note that “In Hebron, Arab mobs killed between 65 and 70 Jews and in Safed 18 Jews were killed,” but the whole affair seems to come out rather even. “Overall, 123 Jews were killed and 116 Arabs—the latter primarily by British police.” This anodyne summary contrasts with that of Sir John Chancellor, the British High Commissioner, who reported “acts of unspeakable savagery” being “perpetrated upon defenseless members of the Jewish population regardless of age or sex.”
More on that destructive Obama interview about Israel
Last month, Jeffrey Goldberg published an interview with President Barack Obama, ahead of Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States to attend the AIPAC conference. The President wasn’t at all friendly in the interview, warning (in Goldberg’s words) that “time is running out.” Roughly four weeks later, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority refused to continue negotiations with Israel. Is there a connection between the two?
Put a different way, in the words of Neo-Neocon Did Obama Sabotage Kerry on Peace Talks?
The answer is “yes,” and here’s how.

There are two points that Obama made in his interview worth recalling.
1) Obama implies that if Israel doesn’t make peace he may no longer be willing to defend it in international fora.
2) Israel has a unique opportunity to make a deal with Abbas, something it may not have again.
Democracy, Friedman-style
What remains for Thomas Friedman now that his idols have failed him? The same thing other Jews have done throughout history -- beat on their people's battered chest. Eureka, Friedman declared, I have found the most amazing analogy: Sheldon Adelson and the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have something in common: "They are both trying to destroy Israel. Adelson is doing it by loving Israel to death and Khamenei by hating Israel to death." Lovely, isn't it? Courtesy of the newspaper that caters to people who have long ago stopped thinking of themselves as thinking people.



A Response to Thomas Friedman: We Need More Sheldon Adelsons
What we are currently experiencing on college campuses nationwide is frightening and unprecedented from the perspective of a pro-Israel student activist. The enthusiasm of the anti-Israel bigots is extraordinary. Genuine pro-Israel activists voices are not being amplified precisely because people like Friedman demonizes them, along with the country they love.
Instead of urging Mr. Adelson to stop vigorously defending Israel against its critics in public and otherwise, you ought to be applauding him for doing so. What the Jewish community needs now more than ever are more Sheldon Adelsons. Strong men and women with the courage of their convictions to stand up for what is right – even when it might be under less than popular circumstances.
The Death of Yousef Shawamrah
Welcome to Pallywood
On March 19 Yousef Shawamrah was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers after vandalizing the security barrier. His two companions were arrested.
In this latest variation of Pallywood, the photos circulating on social media and Palestinian agitprop sites show Yousef as a young boy. This is no accident. Its a deliberate and shamelessly manipulative attempt to illicit sympathy. Reports from a variety of sources describe Yousef as being anywhere from 14 to 19.
Interestingly enough, Arutz Sheva identifies Yousef as 19 years old, not 14 or 15 as reported in the Palywood media.
Al- Qassam also confirms that Yousef was 19.
Will the real J Street stand up... for Israel?
If an organization is never willing to stand up for Israel, should they still be considered pro-Israel?
J Street has a right to say and do what it wishes, but if J Street wants to remain part of the pro-Israel Jewish community, shouldn’t it demonstrate willingness to at times stand up for Israel, not just for its enemies? At a time when students need support to speak up for Israel on campus more than ever, shouldn’t J Street equip and encourage students to understand the reality on the ground and at times defend Israel, not only the opposite?
The campus Jewish Student Union at UC Berkeley voted this fall to deny membership to J Street U. The bylaws of the Jewish Student Union stipulate that a member organization must not host speakers who demonize Israel. Jewish Student Union members were uncomfortable with J Street U having invited among other anti-Israel groups, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement to campus, an organization that calls for the liquidation of the Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund for encouraging Jewish immigration to Israel.
Jeremy Ben Ami Attacks Israeli Democracy, Netanyahu
Speaking to the J Street U Student Town Hall, J Street president Jeremy Ben Ami questioned if Benjamin Netanyahu, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel, wants peace for his country:
Speaking to a mostly American crowd, Ben Ami stated that Israel's governing coalition needs to change and that J Street will enforce their values on Israel:
Ben Ami also claimed that 60 to 70 years ago, major Jewish organizations were against the formation of the State of Israel. 70 years ago, in 1944, the Jewish people were in the midst of the greatest slaughter in Jewish history, the Holocaust. The State of Israel was formed in 1948.
Shmuley Boteach: Taking on Beinart’s double standards
Indeed, Beinart believes that Israel’s priority is no longer self-defense but controlling its awesome might. “We are not history’s permanent victims. In a dizzying shift of fortune, many of our greatest challenges today stem not from weakness but from power.”
This is an astonishingly naïve statement that trivializes Hamas’s genocidal intent from the east, Hezbollah’s murderous rockets from its control of southern Lebanon to the north, Syria’s chemical weapons to the northeast, which have already been used in killing some 150,000 Arabs, and the Palestinian Authority to the east, which, according to last Sunday’s New York Times, gives $50k to each terrorist “hero” who is released from Israeli prisons after murdering a Jew. And casting the biggest shadow over Beinart’s bizarre comment is the Iran nuclear threat and supreme leader Khamenei’s repeated promises over countless years “to wipe” the “Zionist dogs” off the earth.
The Anti-Israel Cultural Revolution at Vassar
Zachary Braiterman, Associate Professor of Religion at Syracuse University, draws an analogy to the Chinese Cultural Revolution practice of publicly shaming ideologically incorrect professors and students, Careful What You Sow — BDS At Vassar Gets Ugly (emphasis added):
I would have been skeptical about the little bit of reporting I’ve seen about this episode in more rightwing news media, except that it was confirmed by Mondoweiss, who was there. Jill Schneiderman, a professor of Earth Sciences at Vassar College was recently called to give public account about a planned trip to Israel and the West Bank to study water issues. After her classroom was picketed and her students intimidated, and she was basically called before “open forum” on the ethics of political activism, where Jewish students who spoke out were heckled by the large crowd of some 200 students (and faculty). Is this what BDS is going to look like? A kind of public shaming reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution? No “cardboard civility” at Vassar. And where’s Open Hillel? Even the intrepid anti-Israel, anti-Zionist Mondoweiss found the incident “unsettling.” He maintains that the ”belligerence might be necessary to a solution.” My bet is that this kind of hostility is going to rip out the guts of a university to no good effect. Kudos to Professor Schneiderman.
Vassar College Alums Strike Back at Anti-Israel Movement on Campus
The open letter, initially signed by 66 alums, was printed by the Miscellany News, the campus newspaper of record since 1866, and quickly attracted dozens of comments from alums worldwide who agreed with the content of their protest.
In their letter, the alumni said that “faculty and student supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel have hijacked campus discourse and imposed an anti-intellectual atmosphere in which professors are ranting activists, not scholars, and students who disagree with the prevailing ‘progressive’ ideology are intimidated into a deafening silence.”
Co-Sponsor of UCLA anti-Israel divestment resolution arrested for false imprisonment
Arce not only sponsored the resolution, he also endorsed a letter claiming “Islamophobic commentary” in opposition to the divestment resolution necessitated a “Diversity Requirement.”
The Daily Bruin reports that Arce has been arrested on charges of false imprisonment related to alleged sexual batteries:
An undergraduate student council member was arrested by university police Wednesday on a charge of false imprisonment.
On Wednesday, a female student reported a series of sexual batteries between October and March. The report led to 21-year-old Omar Arce’s arrest, according to a police report released Thursday afternoon.
Norwegian-Funded NGOs Responsible for Norwegian Pension Fund Divestment
On January 30, 2014, GPFG announced that it had listed these companies on its “excluded from the Fund’s investment universe” list under the category of “serious violations of individuals’ rights in situations of war or conflict.”
NGO Monitor’s research shows that Norwegian, Israeli, and Palestinian NGOs lobbied the Norwegian Council on Ethics and GPFG to impose this ban, as part of the Durban strategy of demonizing Israel in order to isolate it internationally. Furthermore, the Norwegian government has provided significant funding for these NGOs.
This is the second time GPFG has excluded AFI Ltd and Danya Cebus Ltd as a result of NGO lobbying.
GPFG removed AFI and Danya Cebus Ltd from its investment fund in 2010, following NGO pressure. In August 2013, this decision was rescinded, as recommended by the Council of Ethics and the Ministry of Finance, because “information has been provided stating that neither Africa Israel Investments...nor any of its subsidiaries are involved in the construction of settlements in the West Bank anymore.” NGOs then intensively lobbied the Norwegian government to overturn the reversal.
Norwegian universities have turned down Israel boycotts, Norwegian academics have not
It would of course be too much to expect that sulking Norwegian (and mediocre) academics and researchers would be honest enough to openly admit that they are implementing a de facto boycott of Israeli academics.
I am not sure if the Israeli academics have noticed, since they are busy providing the world with real scientific break troughs such as finding a possible cure for diseases such as Alzheimer, cancer and other diseases that represent a serious threat to human health and welfare. So that some little gnomes at the end of the world have decided to introduce Israel boycott by ways of deceptions is probably not much of a concern. In particular not since Israel as the only non-European country was invited to join the EU Horizon research program.
Marquette U. Scrutinized Over Sponsorship of Anti-Israel Activity
Officials at Marquette University, a Jesuit university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are distancing themselves from earlier support of last week’s Israel Apartheid Week activities on the campus. Marquette is one of several American institutions where the anti-Israel event is held.
Usually it is a student sponsored event, but this year Marquette’s administration initially played a role in sponsoring the event.
In late February, The Marquette Warrior, an blog independent of the university, republished an e-mail written by John Janulis, an employee of the university’s Office of Student Development. The e-mail was sent to the university’s political science department, announcing a “series of programs focusing on Israeli apartheid and Palestinian awareness.”
Technion Beyond Borders - Dr. Qanta Ahmed Interview
Moslem physician, author and women's rights activist Dr. Qanta Ahmed visited the Technion and praised Israel’s academic freedom, plus its freedoms of expression and religion as unique in the Middle East.
And the way to silence the BDS movement is to publicize Israel’s success.

Harriet Sherwood wants Israeli Jews to feel the ‘pain’ of exclusion
Finally, Sherwood writes about the increasing frustration felt “by Israel’s intransigence…and the failure of the international community to back up critical words with meaningful actions”, before concluding that “only when Israeli citizens and institutions feel the consequences of their government’s policies will they force change from within”. She argues that Israelis are “shielded from the [daily grind] of occupation”, before reaching the conclusion that “economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium” will surely force Israelis “to take notice”.
First, like so many journalists covering the conflict, Sherwood seems to take as a given the benign nature of Palestinian intentions despite so much evidence to the contrary, and doesn’t acknowledge that Israelis overwhelmingly support two-states for two peoples while refusing to ignore the failure of previous ‘land for peace’ guarantees and, therefore, remaining skeptical that the creation of a Palestinian state will actually bring peace.
More pertinent to the theme in Sherwood’s op-ed, Israelis – and most Jews around the world – indeed view current calls to exclude Israeli Jews from the international community in the context of the dark history of such measures. Such Jews naturally question the motivation of sophisticated (putatively progressive) Europeans who see the unimaginable violence and brutality meted out to Arabs by other Arabs in the Middle East – which includes the systemic violation of the rights of women, gays and political dissidents, and (in some cases) industrial-scale killing and torture – and yet believe that the only country whose citizens deserve to be boycotted just so happens to be the only one with a Jewish majority.
Jewish refugees kicked out of Arab lands VIDEO
Ezra talks to Gina Waldman, a Libyan Jew who's family was kicked out of the country because of the creation of Israel
Ukrainian Jewish Immigration to Israel Rises 70 Percent Amid Instability
Ukrainian Jewish immigration to Israel has risen 70 percent in 2014 amid the recent political upheaval in that country.
According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, 375 new immigrants from Ukraine arrived in the first three months of 2014, compared to 221 in the same period in 2013.
Israel equips Indian women entrepreneurs win globally
Now an Israeli initiative wants to give Indian women entrepreneurs the tools to break through these glass ceilings and acquire world-class leadership skills. The Bonita Trust, The Israel Asia Center, and Sofaer International MBA at Tel Aviv University have joined hands to offer a scholarship program specially tailored for Indian women entrepreneurs.
The scholarship offers a unique opportunity to women entrepreneurs, by covering full tuition fee at Tel Aviv University’s International MBA program and participation in the prestigious Israel-Asia Leaders Fellowship, along with a chance of getting seed funding for an Israel-India venture after successful completion of the program.
Flight simulation technology helps surgeons prep for surgery
Before fighter pilots go into battle, they always do one thing first: practice. Fortunately, flight simulators have long allowed pilots to train and rehearse their complex missions in advance, so as to limit the amount of surprises they might encounter along the way.
In an attempt to replicate this concept, a Cleveland neurosurgeon and two ex-Israeli Air Force R&D officers have teamed together to apply flight simulation technology to a more benevolent purpose – aiding the sick. Through their efforts, they have developed an FDA-approved surgery rehearsal program called Surgical Theater, which allows physicians to prepare and practice complicated brain surgery before they even enter the operating room.
The Search for a Single Zionist Story
These are two very different books by two very different men. Interweaving the stories of a group of paratroopers who helped reunited Jerusalem in 1967, Halevi’s Like Dreamers traces the history of Israel and the divergent ideologies that shaped it from the Six-Day War to the present. Shavit’s My Promised Land takes a wider view, telling the story of the “triumph and tragedy” of modern Israel from early Zionism to the present day through a wide range of individual stories.
For both authors, Israel’s journey through the 20th century and into the 21st is also their own. Fourth-generation Israeli Ari Shavit and first-generation immigrant Yossi Klein Halevi are both deeply and profoundly Israeli, and so are their books. They struggle with what being Israeli means for them personally and how they fit in into Israeli society. Born only four years apart (Klein Halevi in 1953, Shavit in 1957), both men have embarked on writing their life’s work in order to resolve the question of their own personal identities. By telling the story of Israel through the lives of others, they are also struggling to decipher the meaning of Israel to their own lives.
Deal Reached as Israeli Breakthrough ALS Treatment Goes to Clinical Trial in U.S.
Last month, BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, an Israeli bio-technology startup announced two major milestones: the company received a patent from the United States Patent Office its autologous stem cell technology called Nurown and it entered into an agreement with Massachusetts General Hospital to hold a Phase II clinical trial of Nurown.
An autologous transplant is when a patients own cells are harvested and later reinjected back into the patient. In this case, stem cells are taken from a patients bone marrow and treated with Nurown technology to transform or “differentiate” them into “specialized, neuron-supporting cells.” These cells should then be able to help restore neural connections in nerve cells that have been damaged by disease. Nurown is thought to be a future cure for neurodegenerative diseases like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
Hugh Laurie in Raanana, Israel. July 7, 2014
British performer Hugh Laurie is heading to Raanana, just north of Tel Aviv in Israel, to perform in July 2014. Laurie is best known as Dr House in the hit television series, House, for which he has won two Golden Globe awards, however, he is also a successful singer, and heads to Israel for a concert as part of a world tour with his ‘Copper Bottom Band’, for a unique blend of eclectic blues, tango, and South American music, delivered with some of Laurie’s characteristic sharp humor. Hugh Laurie will perform in Raanana at the Raanana Amphitheater on July 7, 2014. Ticket information will be available here soon.


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