Wednesday, May 21, 2014

From Ian:

Chloe Valdary Blasts Brandeis University's 'Lack of' Moral Leadership
In a new video from Americans for Peace and Tolerance, human rights activist Chloe Valdary blasts the Brandeis University administration for its April decision to revoke the offer of an honorary degree to women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In the video, titled "Brandeis Unbecoming," Valdary asks, "who will speak for the thousands of women oppressed and abused everyday?" She then highlights various victims of honor killings and abuse done in the name of radical Islam.
Brandeis University revoked the honorary degree from Hirsi Ali after a student petition, a faculty petition and considerable noise from outside organizations and leaders. Highlighted in the video is a portion of the faculty petition which reads, "We cannot accept Ms. Hirsi Ali's triumphalist narrative of western civilization, rooted in a core belief of the cultural backwardness of non-western peoples."
Brandeis Unbecoming: A New Video Defending Hirsi Ali, by Chloe Valdary

Richard Kemp: Britain, Lawfare and the ICC
Today the United Kingdom sits alongside Libya, Darfur and Sudan as the International Criminal Court [ICC] launches an investigation into alleged war crimes by the British Army in Iraq.
This perversion brings to mind German Pastor Martin Niemoeller's powerful words at the end of the Second World War:
"Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak for me."
It was not long before they came again for the Jews – this time in the newly established Jewish state. And over the years, Israel's enemies, unable to destroy her in battle, have used "lawfare" – the abuse of Western laws and judicial systems – to try to undermine and delegitimize her.
A leading player in this unremitting assault has been the UN Human Rights Council [UNHRC], which has passed resolution after spurious resolution against Israel while ignoring horrific human rights abuses around the world. The fundamentally flawed Goldstone Report, which concluded that Israel had been guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the IDF's defensive operation in Gaza in 2008-09, is an example of the UNHRC's distortions of reality.

Pope to lay wreath on Herzl's tomb, righting a historical wrong
Pope Francis will lay a wreath on Theodor Herzl's grave in Jerusalem during his historic visit to Israel next week, righting a wrong from 110 years ago, when Herzl approached then-Pope Pius X for support in establishing a Jewish state and was denied outright.
The gesture signifies the change in the papacy's attitude toward Israel.
Meanwhile, Israel has no plans to change ownership of King David's Tomb on Mount Zion, despite the Vatican's push for Israel to hand over the Cenacle, or the room in which the Last Supper took place, to the Catholic Church.
In Israel, Pope Francis to Witness Oasis of Stability in Chaotic Region for Christians
Throughout his career, Francis has shown a deep appreciation for the Jewish people and has made Jewish-Catholic relations a top priority. Yet this month, Francis will arrive in a Mideast region beset by uprisings, sectarian violence, and religious extremism, where Christians are routinely being driven from their homes and persecuted by Islamic fundamentalists.
As one of the few areas of stability and prosperity in the region, Israel has become an important ally for Christians. As such, on his trip the pope will face the dual challenge of confronting extremism, while also promoting reconciliation between the region’s Christians, Jews, and Muslim
“The Vatican is hoping this trip promotes unity among Christians, encourages Christians in the Middle East to remain committed, [while also] improving relations with Jews and Muslims,” John Allen, an associate editor for the Boston Globe who has covered the Catholic Church for nearly two decades, told
Christian emigration looms over pope’s first Holy Land visit
Pope Francis will arrive this weekend in the land where Christianity was born — and where Christians are disappearing.
This ancient community has dwindled to around 2 percent of the region’s population as economic hardship, violence and the bitter realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have sent Christians searching for better opportunities overseas.
The Christian exodus, underway for decades, has reached critical levels in recent years. Emigration is a central concern to local Vatican officials, who are trying to stave off the flight with offers of jobs, housing and scholarships.
Michael Oren: Israel isn't, and will never be, an apartheid state
The war against Israel has passed through three phases.
The first was the attempt to annihilate Israel by conventional means. It began with Israel's birth in 1948, when Arab armies nearly captured Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and ended in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israeli forces came within artillery range of Cairo and Damascus.
The next stage, starting in the early 1970s, sought to cripple Israel through terror. Suicide bombers nearly paralyzed the country, but by 2005 they too were defeated.
That is when Israel's enemies launched the third, and potentially most devastating, campaign: to isolate, delegitimize and sanction Israel into extinction. And a key weapon in this stage is the hugely destructive word "apartheid."
Armenian Genocide Victims Ask What Palestinians Have Been Smoking (satire)
Representatives of the approximately 1.5 million Christian Armenians who were systematically driven from their homes, starved, burned, shot, and otherwise sent to certain death from 1915-23 are saying that no sane person would confuse the plight of Palestinians with the genocidal policies of the dying Ottoman Empire’s ‘Young Turk’ movement, which saw the Armenian community in what is today eastern Turkey as a security risk owing to their assumed sympathy for an encroaching Russian empire. Only some mind-altering substance can explain the use of such terminology as ‘genocide,’ they note.
“I’m looking for the evidence that Israel hunts down and eliminates the leading Palestinian intellectuals by the hundreds – or even the dozens,” says Viktor Krimian, who was hacked to death in 1916 by a Kurdish gang as the Sultan’s soldiers looked on. “But I see nothing of the sort, not to mention no concentration camps, no burning of entire villages, and no forced marches into the Syrian desert with no supplies, facing the abuse and rampant rape by the soldier-thugs escorting the marches.”
TED: Spreading Anti-Israel Propaganda
Eman Mohammed, described as Gaza's only female photojournalist, is one of this year’s fellows. In an interview on TED’s blog about hardships she faced while navigating Gaza's conservative society, Mohammed inserted a malicious libel about an Israeli airstrike during Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-2009:
"There had been an air strike on a police compound, and I was there afterwards. The thing about the Israeli military, when they start an air strike, they wait for civilians and medical teams to arrive, and then they strike again, so they can have biggest number of casualties. So there were strikes maybe four minutes apart, which was the time it took me to arrive from a very nearby hospital."
Does the Israeli air force really aim to cause the "biggest number of casualties"?
During Operation Cast Lead, Israel dropped over 2,500,000 leaflets throughout Gaza and phoned residents in order to warn them of impending attacks. (Israel likewise dropped warning fliers during the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank.) Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009, praising the “extraordinary measures” that Israel took in Cast Lead to avoid civilian casualties:
CAMERA Analyst Highlights Ugly Polemics from Retired Archbishop Elias Chacour
CAMERA Analyst Tricia Aven, Ph.D., has exposed the ugly rhetoric used by Palestinian Christian leaders in an article published on First Things' website. The piece is valuable because it highlights some of the ugly statements made by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb and retired Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour, who have both spoken at events organized by the Telos Group.
In the piece, titled, “Check Your Speaker List,” Aven reports that Chacour (pictured above), “argues that Jesus and his disciples were not Jews at all. He identifies the people of Galilee as distinct from the Jews when he talks about the gathering of the disciples in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus. He states that “the men from Galilee” were in an Upper Room and ‘the doors were locked out of fear from the Jews. I don’t know why the Jews frighten everybody with whom they live. Is that a problem I think?’”
Chacour is author of Blood Brothers, a text regularly invoked by pro-Palestinian activists.
UK Black Students' Society Votes for Israel Boycott
Although proponents of BDS - including many of those at the conference - often argue these that their cause is not anti-Semitic but simply about "defending’ human rights" in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the motion passed by this conference left no doubt that it is the existence of the Jewish and democratic state itself, rather than real or imagined human rights violations in the territories, that is under attack by BDS.
This is vividly clear, as the motion text slams "the ongoing 66-year long occupation of Palestine" - referring to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, not just events since 1967. It is the very existence of Israel - the self-organisation of Jews into any meaningful state - that is labelled an "occupation" and singled out for attack, effectively termed a human rights violation. The words "West Bank" or "Gaza" are not even mentioned a single time in the motion.
Echoes of McCarthyism at UCLA
After World War II, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, were the hotbeds of opposition to an anti-communist loyalty oath that California tried to impose on academics. Ultimately the professors won in court in 1954.
Sixty years later, a different pressure group purportedly speaking for the “progressive” grassroots wants to impose on UCLA students a loyalty oath of sorts — a pledge foreswearing going on trips to Israel sponsored by certain Jewish organizations. Issued by five pro-Palestinian groups, the call demanded that candidates for student government take the pledge.
Who would have thought that McCarthyite tactics would be used to target, harass and intimidate pro-Israel students — Jewish and non-Jewish — at UCLA? There are ominous echoes here of both the medieval witch hunts against Jews and Stalin’s show trials.
BDS is Backfiring at UCL
Fortunately, SJP's campaign of hatred and intimidation has sparked major backlash on campus. The Jewish student government candidate who was slandered won by a comfortable margin. Pro-Israel students published a statement condemning SJP's hate speech and discrimination, calling for action by the UCLA student government and administration. As of press time, the statement had been signed by over 1,850 members of the UCLA community (to sign, visit this article at In response to public outcries, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and UC President Janet Napolitano have released public statements condemning SJP's actions. The battle over Israel's legitimacy on campus will likely continue for years to come, but it is now clear that UCLA's Jewish and pro-Israel student community will no longer allow SJP's bigotry to go unchallenged.
Geraldo Rivera Backs J Street
Absent from Rivera’s analysis was any mention of the current threats facing Israel, though he did concede, “Of course we’re all worried about Iran and the nukes and so forth.” He did not, however, highlight that the Palestinian Authority recently signed a unity agreement with the terrorist organization Hamas, or the fact that Israel has offered the Palestinians a state numerous times only to be rejected again and again.
Rivera tries to recover and by asserting, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right to demand that Israel be recognized as the Jewish State of Israel or as the Homeland of the Jewish people.” But then he makes a plea to the American public: “But as someone who loves Israel, I beg you to see that organizations like “J-Street” in D.C. are more reflective of the view of a majority of progressive Jews than many of the more traditional organizations that claim to speak for us . . . The Palestinians need their homeland too.”
Rivera does not highlight which “traditional organizations” he is talking about, but the traditional lobby group AIPAC officially endorses a two-state solution and works to help Israel and the Palestinians attain a peaceful resolution. Rivera also does not address J Street’s organizational dishonesty and anti-Israel positions before concluding, “Israel has risen from the dead. We exalt (sic) in that miracle. But let’s spread it around.”
Foreign Reporters 'Swallowing Lies' From Palestinian Authority
MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) met with British reporters on Tuesday, and was shocked when they repeated several libelous charges they had taken - without fact-checking - from Arab sources.
The journalists told Shaked that at a briefing in Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah they were told that 60 local Arabs were killed by Jews in the last year, and that "settlers shoot at innocent Palestinians with sniper rifles from within settlements."
Shaked testified regarding the journalists that "in their eyes it wasn't (a) baseless (accusation)."
"It's lucky they didn't tell them that the settlers use the blood of Palestinian children to bake Passover matzah," remarked Shaked cynically, referencing an ancient blood libel charge that was historically used numerous times to justify violent anti-Semitism in Europe.
Honest Reporting: The Monster in the Middle East

The Independent: Zionism “Displaced the Palestinians”
According to The Independent:
Today, Palestinian activists were scathing about the Pope’s plans to make the first visit by a pontiff to the tomb of Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, the political movement that established Israel and displaced the Palestinians.
As a political movement and an ideology, Zionism was neither about, nor was responsible for, displacing Palestinians. It seems that The Independent’s reporter Ben Lynfield is identifying with the comments of BDS activist Omar Barghouti, who is quoted in the article
BBC ignores Euroleague basketball championship – and its winner
You wouldn’t have known it from the BBC News website’s Europe page, but on the evening of May 18th the final of the 2014 Euroleague basketball championship was held in Milan.
In 2011 BBC Sport described the Euroleague as “the continent’s major club event”, so perhaps a report on Sunday’s final appears on the website’s Sport page? Well, no.
Chris McGreal returns to remind us how much he despises Israel.
Indeed, here is where McGreal shows his true stripes – again telling Guardian readers what they want to hear: specifically, that US foreign policy is being hijacked by the pro-Israel lobby, but, more broadly, that the reason decision makers in Washington don’t buy into their view of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is because the system is rigged and debate is being squelched – furtively of course – by a small but dangerously powerful minority of Americans who conflate the US national interest with Israel’s.
However, at the end of the day, the fact is that Israel remains wildly popular among the American public, the boycott movement produces failure upon failure, Israel’s democracy is robust, its economy is booming, and its society (by any number of indicators) is thriving.
Much like narrow efforts to cast Israel as an apartheid state, the broader delegitimization campaign – by nearly any standard – is failing miserably.
And, Chris McGreal is simply furious.
Haifa Selected ‘Smartest’ City in The Middle East
Haifa was crowned the ‘smartest’ city in the Middle East by the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Barcelona. A research team examined 135 cities from 55 countries as part of the IESE Cities in Motion Index (ICIM), an annual survey that ranks the cities based on categories of innovation, sustainability and quality of life. The following ten different dimensions were used to establish the ranking: governance, public management, urban planning, technology, environment, international outreach, social cohesion, mobility and transportation, human capital, and economy. The smartest city in the world for 2014 is Tokyo, which received a perfect score and was described as “impressive in its civic management, technology, economy and its ability to attract talented people from around the world.” London came in second, followed by Zurich and Paris. Of the top 20 cities, 10 are European, six American, three Asian and one is Oceanian.
Israel Defense Forces Welcomes First Female Christian Officer
Yasmin Chayach this week became the first Christian woman to complete the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer’straining course, the IDF said.
Chayach, who is from Acre, follows in the footsteps of her brother, who also served in the IDF.
The Chayach family is part of a growing movement of Israeli Christians who are volunteering for military service. Christian enlistment in the IDF tripled in 2013.
Herodian frescoes restored, returned to Masada
Frescoes from a room in a Herodian palace atop the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada were restored and returned to their original location.
Discovered by former Israeli general and archaeologist Yigal Yadin in the 1960s, the frescoes were on display at Masada until 20 years ago, when they were stored to prevent further damage to them, according to Haaretz.
Israeli Tennis Analytics Company Attracts Investors Bill Ackman, Billie Jean King and Novak Djokovic
PlaySight Interactive Ltd., an Israeli sports analytics company, said it raised $3.5 million from Novak Djokovic, the world’s second-ranked tennis player, Billie Jean King, women’s tennis legend, and Bill Ackman, founder of Pershing Capital Management LLC, Israel’s Globes business daily reported on Tuesday.
Other investors in the round include Venturehouse Group CEO Mark Ein, Dr. James Loehr, and Ray Benton.
PlaySight created an affordable, tennis analytics system called the ‘SmartCourt’.
‘Rising’ snags Kesha, Groban, Ludacris
The cast of the US adaptation of “Rising Star,” Israeli television’s hottest reality program, has been announced, and it is packed with its own star power.
Josh Groban, the American multi-platinum singer-songwriter, will host the program, with rapper Ludacris, bad-girl singer Kesha, and country crooner Brad Paisley filling seats at the judging table.
Netanyahu Meets Jay Leno
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with comedian Jay Leno, who was visiting Israel for the first time.
“I’m glad you left television and came to Israel,” Netanyahu told Leno. “Thank you for the long and funny nights.”
“I hope tomorrow will be another one of those funny nights,” Leno responded.
Israel Through Instagram: Once in a Lifetime by StandWithUs

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