Monday, May 19, 2014

From Ian:

The unorthodox priest who stands with the Jews
Speaking casually about the reasons for his call to service, Naddaf called the army “the melting pot” of Israeli society and “the ticket” to full integration. He talked about Christian mothers having to pay the same price as Jewish mothers and the need to equitably “share the burden” of service. But his quest goes well beyond integration.
Naddaf wants to carve out a new identity and a separate community. He believes that in the coming years he can rally 50,000 Arabic-speaking Christians in Israel to align themselves with the Jewish people and with Israel. The first order of business on the path toward that new identity, he said, was “breaking the fear” that has gripped the community. He likened the Arabic-speaking Christians in Israel, the minority of the minority, to the Jews of the Diaspora: good grades, pretty good jobs, few troubles. “Hostages,” he said, adding, “the only time they feel free to identify as Christians is when they are castigating me.”
In fact, he defined his religion as Jewish, his faith as Christian, and his citizenship as Israeli. Christians, he said, “have a bond with the Jews. We have an allegiance with the Jewish people; with the Muslims we are neighbors. There is no covenant there. None at all.”
This was brought into focus by the Arab Spring. Two hours north from Nazareth, he said, extremists are eager to kill Jews and Christians alike. “If the devils there would come in, you would be on Saturday and we would be on Sunday,” he said.
Of Nakbas, fools and fingers
Nakba week is over. The demonstrators have gone home. The Palestinian Authority have delivered their speeches and sounded their sirens. The Arab and ‘liberal’ western press and media have duly commiserated.
But while Palestinians marked the 66th anniversary of the ‘catastrophic’ mass flight of Arab refugees from Israel in 1948, the French historian Georges Bensoussan, on a visit to London, was focusing on a different nakba. He was asking a packed audience the rhetorical question: why do people, even when presented with incontrovertible proof, persist in their denial of the mass post-war exodus of Jews?
It was at the height of the second intifada in 2002, when two Jews a day were being beaten up on the streets of France, that Bensoussan decided to write about Jews from Arab countries. The antisemitism sweeping France then, as now, was being blamed on the Arab-Israel conflict. But Bensoussan, who left Morocco with his family as a six-year-old, had a nagging feeling that the problem had deeper root-causes.
The Audacity of Protesting Anti-Semitism
In their efforts to vindicate the Palestinians and other Muslim nations, Nevel and Neimark are forced to set the bar for anti-Semitism so high as to rid the term of all meaning. Indeed, in their article the authors complain of the ADL survey, “many of its questions are pointedly designed to skew the results because they have little to do with revealing actual anti-Semitism.” But overall the writers hardly give the sense of being genuinely concerned by whatever they consider “actual anti-Semitism” to be. In the wake of the precedent set by the Nazis, it seems that many are under the impression that if it doesn’t involve the mass extermination of the Jews, then it doesn’t really pass for serious anti-Semitism. In viewing the matter this way they risk legitimating the very demonization that makes such extermination possible.
Yet, demonizing Jews via the ADL is precisely what Nevel and Neimark are apparently prepared to do. Dismissing the severity of rising global anti-Semitism, and accusing the ADL of instigating paranoia, the authors reference a survey showing that there is more bias against Muslims and Roma in Europe than Jews, although it seems the authors were too pleased with the results of that survey to raise the formerly worrisome matter of leading questions. They then go on to level their final allegation: that the ADL shouldn’t simply concern itself with anti-Semitism, but rather all prejudices.



BBC Persian spins results of ADL poll on antisemitism
On May 13th the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released the results of a worldwide poll on antisemitism. Readers can view the executive summary here and the interactive site here.
Three days later, BBC Persian’s Hossein Bastani came up with an interesting take on one aspect of the poll’s results which was promoted to visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Defying perceptions: Iranians ‘least anti-Semitic people in Middle East’”.
What Bastani neglects to clarify to readers is that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) emerged as the most antisemitic region in the world according to the ADL poll, so whilst Iran did indeed poll lowest in that region with ‘only’ 56% holding antisemitic attitudes, it still came much higher than the average in any other region of the world.
New Player in Campaign to Keep NIF Out of Parade
Grassroots student group Im Tirtzu, a longtime opponent of the New Israel Fund, has joined the ongoing campaign by Zionist groups in the United States that are trying to keep the NIF and the groups it supports out of the Celebrate Israel parade in New York City on June 1.
Im Tirtzu, which has focused on Israeli campuses until now, has launched a large scale public diplomacy campaign that focuses on the United States. The campaign focuses on social networks, and on English and Hebrew news publications that cater to Jewish and Israeli-expatriate communities in North America.
Im Tirtzu's campaign points to the similarity in terminology used by the organizations that are supported by the NIF, and that of the most radical groups promoting a boycott of Israel – known as BDS – that accuse Israel of war crimes, racism and ethnic cleansing.
The Apartheid Kingdom of Jordan
The real question to ask is this: Does the US government have the resolve to stand up for its principles? And if the answer is yes, the Jordanian king must be persuaded gently. In fact, no one in Israel or the US seeks his overthrow. It is not a coup or a revolution that is desired, but an orderly constitutional enfranchisement of all Jordanian citizens’ rights. In other words, a British-style monarchy, where the king reigns but does not rule. But this must not be done in a regional vacuum. The US must also put forward a “grand bargain” in order to eliminate all hegemonic designs, whether they be one-state nuclear, superpower, Sunni or Shiite. It’s not a question of either/or. Both projects must proceed simultaneously. It’s like quantum physics, both a particle and a wave at the same time. But without presidential leadership, none of this is possible. The ball should be placed firmly in the king’s court. Only President Obama can do this. Apartheid is an ugly word; the more it is used by the Palestinians against Israel, the more it will also be used against Jordan.
In the final analysis, Jordan will never be allowed to strip its Palestinian citizens of their citizenship. Like the other Arab states of the Levant, Jordan must evolve into a democratic polity with both constitutional rights and responsibilities. All “Jordanians” — whether they be Bedouin or Palestinian — must have equal rights within a democracy. Then, and only then, can the dual issues of the region and the West Bank-Judea be decided justly. Are you listening, Your Majesty?
Ariel Asks Australia to Fight Israel Boycotts
Building and Construction Minister Uri Ariel on Wednesday met with the Australian Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, in the governmental complex in eastern Jerusalem, located north of the Arab-majority neighborhood of Shimon Hatzaddik (Sheikh Jarrah).
In the meeting, Ariel called on Sharma to relay to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott his thanks for Abbott's, and Australia's, support for Israel.
Ariel also asked Sharma that Australia act in the international arena against the calls for a boycott against the Jewish state, while giving a clear message to the Palestinian Authority (PA) that a unilateral breach of the 1993 Oslo Accords by turning to the United Nations (UN) is unacceptable.
PA Hypocrisy as Australian Official Meets in Jerusalem
Saeb Erekat, who represents the Palestinian Authority side, filed a complaint with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop over a meeting on Wednesday between Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma and Israel’s Minister of Construction and Housing, Uri Ariel.
The two met in Ariel’s ministry office, which is located in the Israel Government Center, in the Shimon HaTzadik (Sheich Jarrach) neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Erekat complained that Australia should not be meeting with Israelis in “Occupied East Jerusalem”.
First Amendment Hypocrisy: Muslims and Israel
The benefit of a diverse campus culture is that exposure to different attitudes and behaviors enrich us. But there is no enrichment when a culture, political or religious, arrogates to itself what the rest of us can hear.
Ironically, when it comes to bringing speakers on campus that will denounce America or openly call for the killing of Jews, Muslim student leaders are quick to invoke their First Amendment rights to hate speech as protected speech.
Radical Muslim or leftist speakers can come on campus and say the most offensive things, as is their right. And they will need no phalanx of police to protect them, no insults will be hurled, and no physical intimidation will take place. An escape plan or a safe room will not even be part of the security calculus.
Lurking in the back of the minds of campus administrators over who gets to be heard and who doesn’t is the potential for violence. Through physical intimidation and confrontation, Muslim students and their leftist allies raise the specter of violence while judiciously moving up to the line but only occasionally crossing it. Nonetheless, the prospect of violence often guarantees their right to use the First Amendment while denying it to others.
Making It Costly To Be Pro-Israel On Campus
Now, everyone seeking office who goes on a trip to Israel or is associated with a pro-Israel organization may be accused of having a conflict of interest boxing them out of key positions that vote on divestment matters.
SJP is building a chilling effect,
showing that those who stand in their way will be subject to long hours of debate, protest, and even “legal” hearings. Some may not agree with SJP, but consider it not worth the trouble to stand in their way.
This new tactic has already set a dangerous political precedent nationwide, but if the judicial board rules in favor of SJP, the ruling with have impacts far beyond UCLA. Scrappy underdogs that they claim to be, SJP is well-organized and well-connected to the Palestinian cause as a whole, and whatever succeeds at UCLA may be replicated nationwide. Politically, they already have a win to point to, but a judicial board win will embolden them to bring the campus lawfare show on the road.
Haaretz Advocacy Journalism and Lag B'Omer Bonfires
But Amira Hass' accompanying article does not support the claim that settlers "torched" a Palestinian orchard. She wrote:
"Settlers in Hebron celebrated Lag Ba'Omer Saturday night by lighting a bonfire in an olive grove in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood Tel Rumeida. The grove, which belongs to the al-Knibi family, is located in the front of a house inhabited by the Youth Against Settlements center, an organization that documents settlers, soldiers and police in Hebron.
The owners of the orchard and their children looked on with concern as the fire approached their olive trees, while the young Israelis who were celebrating burned the flags of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and the team of international observers. The group, which began setting up the sound system right as Shabbat ended, played loud music, jumped around and sang as they passed around Palestinian homes, whose windows are protected by iron bars."
Thus, according to Hass, the settlers lit a Lag B'Omer bonfire in the grove and "the fire approached their olive trees." She does not say that the settlers "torched" trees, nor that the fire reached the trees. While she notes that settlers burned various flags, she makes no mention of the burning of any trees.
BBC’s Knell erases Hamas and Hizballah terror from history
The 2006 second Lebanon war of course began because what Knell euphemistically and clumsily describes as “the militant Lebanese Shia Islamist group Hezbollah” (with no mention of its terrorist designation by numerous countries or its Iranian sponsor) killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid whilst simultaneously attacking Israeli civilian communities with missiles. That crucial background information is, however, denied to Knell’s readers.
Likewise, Knell’s description of Operation Cast Lead fails to inform BBC audiences that prior to the commencement of the operation on December 27th 2008, Israeli towns and villages in the proximity of the Gaza Strip had been subjected to intense missile fire from terrorist groups based in the Strip.
Bowen again promotes BDS in three separate BBC programmes
It is therefore unacceptable that Bowen should present an entire item based on the subject matter of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation without informing audiences of Hamas’ terror designation, that he should fail to mention the fact that it was terrorism by Hamas and other Gaza-based factions which brought about the need for tight security along the border with the Gaza Strip and counter-terrorism measures to prevent weapons smuggling and that he should mislead audiences by stating that “Israel is really in control of the West Bank”.
It also remarkable that the BBC’s senior Middle East authority portrays the 2007 Hamas coup to his audience as a pre-emptive – and therefore presumably justified – move and that he appears to have adopted the Hamas narrative regarding the rivalry between it and Fatah at the time.
But most notably of all, it is of course completely inexcusable that Bowen is permitted to use no fewer than three BBC programmes to once again amplify and promote the BDS campaign and its tactical ‘apartheid’ analogy to millions of listeners both in the UK and abroad.
Auschwitz commandant grandson combats Europe’s neo-Nazis
Rainer Hoess was 12 years old when he learned he was the grandson of a man who oversaw the murder of a million people as commandant of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
Growing up in post-war Germany, Hoess failed to understand why his school gardener — a Holocaust survivor — was consistently harsh towards to him, until a teacher revealed the terrible truth.
“I knew nothing about Auschwitz, I knew nothing about my family, I only knew that my grandfather was in the war like thousands of other grandfathers were,” Hoess told AFP.
Hoess, who wears a Star of David around his neck, devoted the last four years to educating schoolchildren about the dangers of right-wing extremism.
What began when his children’s teachers asked him to share his story with pupils at their school, has now become a full-time job taking him to more than 70 schools in Germany last year alone.
Factory where Primo Levi worked becomes museum
The paint factory in Italy where author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi worked was reopened as a museum and cultural center for Holocaust memory and civic action.
Inauguration events took place this weekend for the Train of Memory House in the Siva factory in Settimo Torinese, where Levi worked for nearly 30 years. The factory in the northern Italy town was closed down and abandoned two decades ago.
Levi, whose books include the Holocaust memoir “Survival in Auschwitz” and “The Periodic Table,” worked there as a chemist and manager from 1947 to 1975.
Lebanon’s Magen Avraham synagogue set to reopen
Lebanese Jews are preparing for the reopening of the Magen Avraham synagogue in Beirut after extensive renovations, according to a report in the London-based Arabic daily A-Sharq al-Awsat.
Built in 1926, it sat in the Wadi Abu Jamil quarter, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood at the time. Now, Lebanon’s Jews number about 100, according to the head of the country’s Jewish Community Isaac Arazi.
“There are efforts to revive the Jewish community by reopening the synagogue, which sits in an area where Jews lived,” Arazi told the Arab daily. “We raised money from Lebanese Jews in the Diaspora but Christians and Muslims too helped us renovate.”
Israel anticipates warm ties with new Indian PM
Modi had previously visited Israel as chief minister of Gurajat province, a position he held since 2001. During the trip, he suggested that, “as the possible next prime minister, he could make history by journeying to the Jewish state,” the report read.
“Modi’s ties to Israel, which BJP officials strongly endorse, has turned into a financial bonanza for the western Indian province of Gujarat, where he has served as chief minister for the past 13 years,” the report went on.
Israel had reportedly poured billions into the province for projects in the fields of industrial research and development, agriculture, solar and thermal power, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, water recycling and water desalination plants.
In late 2013, an agreement was signed with the Israeli company Tower Semiconductor Ltd., and a few non-Israeli ones, to build two semiconductor fabrication plants for a total cost of some $10.4 billion.
Why Modi matters
In many ways the demonization of Modi and Hindutva is similar to that which Israel’s Right, national-religious sectors and Zionism have been subjected to. Both Israel and India were born the same year, and while Jews and Hindus were expelled from Muslim states, they saw demands that their countries function as liberal multi-cultural states next to a mass of Muslim nations that are unabashedly religious and nationalist. The insinuation is that it is somehow wrong or “hardline right wing” to have an avowedly Jewish or Hindu state.
For instance, commentators claim that Modi will antagonize relations with Pakistan – without asking why Pakistan bankrolled the terrorists who murdered 164 people in Mumbai. No one blamed Pakistan’s “moderate” leaders for antagonizing India.
The world needs more leaders like Modi, not because of his checkered past, but because we need to not fear national, linguistic and religious pride and nation-states that respect their origins. And minorities need Modi too; because for all the talk of the secular and socialist elites; they did nothing for India’s Muslims except keep them in poverty and reliant always on government.
Israel, China announce $300 million research center
Israel and China have announced a $300 million agreement to establish the XIN Research Center – a collaboration of unprecedented scope between Tel Aviv University and the elite Tsinghua University of Beijing. The new research project – sharing a base at the two institutions — will focus on nanotechnologies.
“It’s an unprecedented agreement in size and scope,” Tel Aviv University President Joseph Klafter said at a press conference.
The universities announced that they will exchange graduate students and faculty members. They also said their joint research may be expanded to raw materials, water treatment and environmental issues.
Maccabi Tel Aviv wins Euroleague final 98-86
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv won the Euroleague basketball final 96-86 Sunday night against Real Madrid in Milan in a nail-biting overtime victory.
Maccabi chalked up its first European championship win since back-to-back wins in 2004 and 2005, and its sixth overall.
The Tel Aviv team had not been fancied even to make the final four, and only secured its final place with a last-seconds victory over the mighty CSKA Moscow on Friday.
Arabs Try to Provoke Clash at Maccabi TA Celebration
Hundreds of Israeli supporters of Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team took to the streets of Milan to celebrate their team's Euroleague championship victory over Real Madrid.
During the noisy but peaceful parade three passersby attempted to spoil the celebration by raising a PLO flag.
But the Israeli celebrants remained unruffled, and responded by chanting pro-Israel slogans and singing Israel's national anthem, the Hatikva, as the would-be provocateurs beat a hasty retreat. (h/t Yenta Press)

On social media, Israelis are all atwitter over Maccabi Tel Aviv's Euro title
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres put aside politics for one night and led the cheers for Israel's basketball team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, which captured the Euroleague championship on Sunday night with its dramatic victory over Real Madrid.
The win sparked an eruption of celebrations in Tel Aviv and all over social media, as Maccabi captured another crown for its raucous fans.
Euroleague Final 2014: Maccabi Tel Aviv beats Real Madrid

Maccabi fans amazing the Milan singing Hava Nagila Hope (h/t Bob Knot)


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