Thursday, September 18, 2014

From Ian:

Simon Schama tells UK Jewry to stop living in a bubble
Simon Schama, one of Britain’s most prominent historians, has called on British Jewry to engage more forcefully with the non-Jewish world as a counter to rising anti-Semitism and hostility towards the State of Israel.
Speaking at the annual fundraising dinner for the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) on Monday evening at Grosvenor House in London, Schama warned “we live in dark times.” While stressing he understood that “the situation in this country could be worse – it could be France,” Schama said that “right now, we’re a little bit on the back foot.”
UJIA is the largest charitable organization in Britain focused on working with young people and focusing on strengthening Jewish identity and a connection to Israel through formal and informal educational programming.
“We’re faced not just with criticism of Israel. What is new and poisonous and dangerous is that we are faced not with criticism of what Israel does, but what Israel is,” said Schama at the dinner.
“We need to reclaim the word ‘Zionist’ as if it is word to be ashamed of – it is not a word to be ashamed of and it is not a word to run away from,” said Schama, whose five-part documentary series “The Story of the Jews” and the first of two written volumes on Jewish history were released last year.
David Horovitz: Lady Gaga, we f*cking love you too
I’ve no idea how much of this is known to, or even interests, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta — aka Lady Gaga. I do know that this summer, when all other artists about her were canceling their Israel visits, or having them canceled by our rocket-battered homefront authorities, the good Lady kept her head… and kept her Tel Aviv date optimistically in her calendar. So that when the rocket fire did subside less than three weeks before showtime, and we were finally able to emerge from our bomb shelters, she could fly in, perform, and tell us she loved us. (Kudos, as well, to Tony Bennett, a special guest at the Gaga show, and the star of his own sold-out Mann Auditorium concert on Sunday night.)
That took strength, bravery, confidence and more clear-headed morality than any international statesman managed to muster this terrible summer, when world attitudes to Israel ranged from half-hearted support to vicious, unjustified criticism. If they’re inclined to search for their moral compasses, Messrs. Kerry, Fabius, Miliband et al might care to consult with the singing star our reviewer magnificently described as “pop’s most promiscuous provocateur.” So thank you, Lady Gaga, and we f*cking love you right back.
Why the Palestinian Arabs lack civil rights
Sheizaf is right that the two-state solution idea is dead. He is right that Palestinian Arabs living in the territories do not have the same rights as Jews and Arabs in Israel. He is right that this is bad for Arabs and Jews alike.
But what he doesn’t understand is that ending the conflict isn’t up to us. Israel has already done more than what ought to be expected of it, and result has only been wars, intifadas, and the further radicalization of Palestinian Arabs.
The root of the problem is the Palestinians’ adherence to a false historical narrative and to ideologies that do not accept the existence of a Jewish state (and in some cases, like Hamas, the physical presence of Jews) in the Middle East. It is nurtured by the continuous propaganda coming from the terrorist organizations that own Palestinian politics, the anti-Jewish attitudes that permeate international institutions like the UN, and the complicity of the West.
Israel didn’t create this situation, and it can’t fix it.
The key to the solution to the problem, if there is one, is in the hands of the Palestinian Arabs, who will have to give up for good the idea of replacing Israel with an Arab state. Unless a Palestinian leadership arises that understands this, the conflict will continue, and so will the limitations on the rights of Palestinian Arabs.

Phyllis Chesler: Klinghoffer: The Beatification of Terrorism
The Jew is meant to die as a sacred sacrifice.
Of course, she demands that the “Jew” die. If not, she, as a Jewish convert to Christianity and an Anglican Priest, cannot theologically be saved.
Is 9/11 so long ago that the Metropolitan Opera cannot see that this opera romanticizes terrorism? Are the recent be-headings of Americans and Europeans by ISIS entirely irrelevant? Does the Board of the Opera House fail to see that this work justifies and humanizes Palestine Liberation Front terrorists who are the forerunners of Al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, and ISIS; worse, it manages to “romanticize” such terrorists.
Why is Peter Gelb reviving this opera? If he, like I, loves the music so very much, why not have a symphony performance of it without words?
This is hardly the time to bring this opera to New York City.
Oakland Block the Boat: Bad for Oakland
Agitprop site Indybay declared that the Oakland Block the Boat action "won the support of ILWU Local 10 and ILWU Local 34 longshore workers who refused to cross the line." Yet lying comes as natural to the anti-Israel cru as breathing. There was no "solidarity". The posts on Twitter from the Oakland Block the Boat showed the activists bullying union members, and physically blocking them as they tried to get to their jobs.
The dockworkers apparently fought back.
There was no "solidarity", only selfish and thoughtless maneuvering by a self absorbed group of activists blinded by their seething hatred for the world's only Jewish state. But others could anticipate the consequences.
3-year Study Charges UCLA Department With ‘Antisemitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias’ (VIDEO)
A consortium of American Jewish and civil rights groups are concerned that federal funds are underwriting “one-sided, antisemitic programming that masquerades as scholarship,” at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), according to statements released Wednesday.
In a just-released three-year study (2010-2013) covering “Antisemitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias At the Center for Near East Studies (CNES)” at UCLA, AMCHA Initiative researchers said they have found “CNES events disproportionately focused on Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict, with 93% of events on Israel being anti-Israel, and 75% displaying antisemitic discourse.”
AMCHA investigates, documents and fights antisemitism at universities and other institutions of higher education in the US.
Stand With Us: CUNY Professor Eric Alterman on BDS

Groups working to stop US funding of campus anti-Israel activity
Ten organizations have announced a coordinated effort to convince Congress to reform the Higher Education Act to prevent federal funding of anti-American and anti-Israel activity.
Congress currently is considering the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, or HEA, which includes the allocation of federal funds to 129 international studies and foreign language centers at universities nationwide.
Most of the ten organizations working on the reform effort are Jewish.
Organizations involved in education, the Jewish community and civil rights are working together to ensure there is oversight of universities. The goal is to require recipients of federal funding to implement grievance procedures and for the Department of Education to include a complaint resolution process.
Tamar Sternthal of CAMERA: Improving Media Coverage of Israel
Josh Hasten of Voice of Israel interviews Tamar Sternthal (Director of CAMERA's Israel office) on the media spin against Israel during Operation ProtectiveEdge

NYT Book Review Provides Platform for Joe Klein's Bias
Few topics arouse the ire of Time Magazine's political columnist Joe Klein more than Israeli or American Jewish conservatives or traditionalists. When he writes about them, historicity and facts become secondary to his own personal animus.
Such is the case with the journalist's book review of Lawrence Wright's “Thirteen Days in September,” published in the Sept. 14, 2014 New York Times Sunday Book Review supplement. Mr. Klein uses his review of a book about the 1978 Camp David negotiations as an opportunity to vent his own hostility against former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who was a major player in the negotiations and resulting accords, as well as a traditionalist and a conservative.
It is informative to contrast Klein's review of the book in the New York Times with one in the Wall Street Journal two days earlier by Elliot Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former senior director for Near East Affairs at the National Security Council. According to Abrams:
Why we need Iran to reveal all
A debate has been ongoing over the past year among officials and non-official arms control experts on the importance of confronting Iran on the weaponization issue. In early June, my INSS colleagues Ephraim Asculai, Shimon Stein and I made the case for the need to include the weaponization aspects of Iran’s program. In a recent article in Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis claims that making Iran come clean about its past nuclear weapons activities before a deal is secured is “a terrible idea”, potentially devastating for the prospects of a nuclear deal. His piece underscored for me the need to re-emphasize what the real problem is, and why it is truly imperative to press Iran on this issue.
Iran must be pressed on its military nuclear activities, not in order to humiliate it, nor to serve the agenda of those Lewis describes who are “ideologically opposed to any deal at all.” Quite the contrary. Insisting Iran be confronted with the evidence has everything to do with enhancing the prospects of getting a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran. Not just any nuclear deal – a good and effective nuclear deal. A deal that will actually eliminate Iran’s ability to quickly move to a military nuclear capability at a time of its choosing.
Lewis does concede that Iranian disclosures of past military work might possibly boost the international community’s ability to forge adequate verification measures for a comprehensive deal. But that is only part of the story. The more important reason for insisting that Iran admit its past work on a military nuclear program is to dispense with Iran’s narrative that it has ‘done no wrong’ in the nuclear realm.
U.S. Negotiator: Iran's Uranium Enrichment Unacceptable
After months of intense negotiations the two sides have "identified potential answers to some key questions," Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said in a speech at an award-giving ceremony at Georgetown University.
But she warned "we remain far apart on other core issues, including the size and scope of Iran's uranium enrichment capacity."
As Iran and world powers prepare for new talks starting on Thursday in New York, Sherman said she expected the Islamic Republic "will try to convince the world that on this pivotal matter, the status quo ... should be acceptable."
"It is not," Sherman stressed, as she was given a top award for distinction in the conduct of diplomacy.
"If it were, we wouldn't be involved in this difficult and very painstaking negotiation," she said, according to AFP.
Israeli minister advocates ‘no deal’ with Iran
Refusing to compromise on core elements of its military nuclear program, Iran is forcing world superpowers to choose between “a bad deal and no deal,” Israel’s minister of intelligence said on Wednesday.
Yuval Steinitz returned last week from strategic meetings with US deputy secretary of state William Burns and undersecretary of state in charge of Iran talks Wendy Sherman, which he said were “open and candid.” He will be leaving on Saturday night for further talks with Washington as nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of superpowers resume on Friday.
While Iran has made some “cosmetic gestures on secondary issues” during the last round of talks which ended with no agreement in July, it has shown no flexibility on two of the core international demands pertaining to its nuclear program: the dismantling of centrifuges used for the enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade level, and the closure of the heavy water plant in Arak, part of Iran’s plutonium nuclear track.
“Israel is deeply concerned. We feel that negotiations are going in the wrong direction,” Steinitz told journalists in Jerusalem. “The two alternatives now seem to be a bad deal or no deal. Unfortunately, there seems to be no good deal on the table.”
Survey: 69 Percent of Americans Support Using U.S. Troops to Prevent Iran From Getting Nukes
A majority of Americans continue to say they want the United States to assume an active role in global affairs after more than a decade of wars in the Middle East, according to a new survey released this week.
Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they would back the deployment of U.S. troops to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Large majorities also favored actions that do not typically involve ground troops, such as air strikes or drone strikes against suspected terrorists, as well as sending U.S. forces to prevent genocide or provide humanitarian relief.
The survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that 58 percent of Americans “think it will be best for the future of the country if we take an active part in world affairs.” That number has remained high throughout 40 years of polling by the Chicago Council, though it has dipped since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
More than eight in 10 Americans said strong U.S. leadership in world affairs is desirable.
EU’s Ashton to handle Iran talks beyond November deadline
Despite plans to leave her post, the European Union’s outgoing foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will remain in charge of the West’s negotiations with Iran even beyond the November 24 deadline, diplomatic sources in Europe said Monday .
While some Iranian and European voices express optimism that a final agreement will have been signed by then, Israeli officials are more than skeptical that the Islamic Republic is willing to make the concessions necessary for any deal.
Ashton has been leading the group of six world powers – the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – that are currently conducting talks with Tehran since 2010. Her term as the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy ends on October 31, three weeks before talks with Iran are slated to close.
Death Sentence for “Insulting the Prophet” on Facebook
A blogger found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in his postings on Facebook has been sentenced to death. An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the blogger, Soheil Arabi, will be able to appeal the decision until September 20, 2014.
Agents from the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Sarallah Base arrested Soheil Arabi, 30, and his wife in November 2013. Arabi’s wife was released a few hours later, but he was kept in solitary confinement for two months inside IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, before he was transferred to Evin’s General Ward 350. Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court, under Judge Khorasani, found Arabi guilty of “sabb al-nabi” (insulting the Prophet), on August 30, 2014.
Iran sentences six youths dancing in 'Happy' video to six months in jail, 91 lashes
The group of young Iranian men and women who released a YouTube video showing them dancing to pop star Pharrell Williams’s hit song “Happy” have been sentenced to six months in jail in addition to 91 lashes, their attorney is quoted as saying by the IranWire news agency.
While the sentence is a suspended sentence, Iranian authorities reportedly can impose it anytime within the next three years.
The video shows the group of men and unveiled women dancing on rooftops in Tehran to Williams's hit song.
Following their arrests earlier this year, the group appeared on Iranian state-run TV, admitting that what they did was wrong and said the video was not meant to be posted online. "They had promised us not to publish the video," one of the young women arrested said on the show.
London debate on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia polite, but pointed
The fine line between criticizing Israel and delving into anti-Semitism is discussed by leading Muslim and Jewish journalists
The pair also differed in their views on the linking of “Israel” and “Jewish,” with Hasan arguing that when British Jews start conflating the two by emphasizing their links to the country, it is “very hard to find language to talk about Israel that doesn’t trip into anti-Semitism.”
But arguing that this is one of the knottiest aspects of the debate, Freedland warned that commentators must work to find the distinction. Referring to the Tricycle Theatre’s decision, which he said he found chilling, he said it was not anti-Semitic but nonetheless gave the sense that it is “first condemn this, then you’re allowed into polite society.”
“It would be really easy to say, ‘Say what you like about Israel but not about the Jews,’ but it’s not that simple. The Jewish community here is exceptionally bound up with Israel,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean they are accountable.”
Pointing out that affinity for Israeli society and its people do not commit you to support the Israeli government Freedland stressed that “if you care about dialogue you have to be aware of that as a starting point.”
He also emphasized that while the line can be murky, it is not always so.
“During the Gaza war the hashtag ‘Hitler was right’ was trending on Twitter. It’s not always that subtle,” he said. “Sometimes it’s really just overt anti-Jewish prejudice.”
Swedish Comedian Confronts His Country’s ‘Anti-Semitic’ Media
In early August, Swedish-Jewish writer and comedian Aron Flam took a call from Aftonbladet, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers – “Hello?” he asked. The newspaper staff did not notice that Flam had picked up the line. “Come on, we need someone playing the part of the disgruntled Jew,” someone said. “I can hear you!” exclaimed Flam. “Eh, hello? Yes, this is Aftonbladet debate (section) – would you write something about anti-Semitism in Sweden?”
Flam pointed out that a large part of contemporary anti-Semitism in Sweden is spurred on by self-proclaimed anti-racists whose definition of racism does not include prejudice towards Jews. Critics of Israel frequently complain of being accused of anti-Semitism. “I’d argue the opposite,” wrote Flam. “Anti-Semitism is being condoned by claiming that it’s merely criticism of Israel.”
Classic anti-Semitic sentiments, such as Jewish control of the world’s banking system and media, permeate Swedish culture – through comedians or musicians – but are either ignored, defended, or glorified by media types as being enlightened. All the while, the main Jewish congregation in Stockholm – home to most of the country’s estimated 18,000 to 20,000 Jews – is demonized for its support of an “apartheid state.” “That’s assigning collective blame,” noted Flam. “That would be like blaming all Muslims for 9/11.”
‘With Jews we lose,’ reads one Senate candidate’s slogan in Kentucky
Robert Ransdell, a write-in candidate for US Senate from Kentucky, is campaigning with the slogan “With Jews we lose.”
Campaign lawn signs with the slogan began appearing in the Cincinnati suburb of Florence, Ky., in recent days. Ransdell said his campaign has posted about 20 signs and plans 200 more in the weeks ahead.
As of Wednesday evening, the signs were gone as the candidate did not ask property owners’ permission to place them.
The major-party candidates in the race are Republican Mitch McConnell, the incumbent and the Senate’s minority leader, and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. Neither is Jewish.
Jews call for government action in Bolivia after attacks
The American Jewish Committee held the government partially responsible for the attacks.
“President [Evo] Morales’ hostility towards Israel has encouraged regular attacks against the country’s Jewish population in the media and violent attacks on Jewish institutions,” said Dina Siegel Vann, AJC director of Latino and Latin American affairs. “This is a very dangerous trend that only the government can and should vigorously turn back and end.”
In July, Morales declared Israel a “terrorist state” because of its offensive in the Gaza Strip, and required Israeli citizens to obtain a visa to visit the Andean nation.
Morales broke off diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in 2009, calling Israel’s treatment of Palestinians “a genocide.”
Biden admits Shylock remark ‘a poor choice of words’
US Vice President Joe Biden apologized Wednesday for his “Shylock” reference, insisting in a phone call with Anti-Defamation League Director Abe Foxman that the phrase was “a poor choice of words.”
“The Vice President reached out and we spoke today,” Foxman said in a statement. “Clearly there was no ill-intent here, but Joe and I agreed that perhaps he needs to bone up on his Shakespeare. ”
Foxman proceeded to hail the vice president for turning “a rhetorical gaffe into a teachable moment,” and praised Biden for his stance against anti-Semitism.
“There is no truer friend of the Jewish people than Joe Biden. Not only has he been a stalwart against anti-Semitism and bigotry, but he has the courage and forthrightness to admit a mistake and use it as an opportunity to learn and to teach others about the harmful effects of stereotypes,” Foxman said.
Lockheed Martin seeks ‘bigger footprint’ in Israeli market
US aerospace company Lockheed Martin has formed a technology-focused Israeli subsidiary, Lockheed Martin Israel, that will focus on cybersecurity, enterprise information technology, data centers, mobile, analytics and cloud, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with EMC Corporation to jointly invest in advanced technology projects in cloud computing, data analytics and cyber technology.
“Lockheed Martin has been operating in Israel for the past 20 years,” Haden Land, vice president of research and technology for Lockheed Martin, told the WSJ. “In April, we planted our flag by opening a tech center in Beersheba, and now we’re showing our commitment by incorporating Lockheed Martin Israel.”
According to the report, the defense contractor hopes to win deals with the IDF.
Israeli schools ranked among top in cyber research
Two Israeli universities made a list of the top 100 schools in the world for cyber research, put together by an expert at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, using a new system he developed. His school ranks 49, and the Technion – Israel Institute of Science comes in 91st.
The system ranks universities based on the quantity and quality of the academic journal articles published by their faculties. The quality of a journal article is determined by the “impact factor” of the journal that publishes it.
The researcher, Prof. Lior Rokach, an information systems engineer at BGU, applied the system to rank the top 100 cyber-research universities in the world.
Amazon: We’re the secret sauce behind Israeli start-ups
Amazon, the American web retailer, is a favorite of Israeli on-line shoppers — but’s it’s an even bigger favorite of Israeli start-ups. That fact was much in evidence Wednesday, when over 1,500 entrepreneurs and start-up developers attended a series of events sponsored by Amazon, promoting its cloud platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS).
“It’s a perfect system for start-ups, which are working on shoestring budgets,” said Dr. Werner Vogels, vice president and chief technology officer at “Instead of spending money on servers and information technology infrastructure, they can use those funds for development and improving their product.”
To help those start-ups, Amazon opened an office in Israel last January. The AWS conference in Tel Aviv was the culmination of nearly a year’s hard work spreading Amazon’s cloud gospel. Thanks to the cloud in general — and AWS in particular, said Vogels — Israeli start-ups were more agile and flexible than ever, and more successful as well, because they could dedicate more resources to improving their products. That may not have been Amazon’s specific intent when it started marketing AWS services to Israeli start-ups three years ago — but the happy results of that deployment cannot be denied, said Voegels.
Violinist Vengerov says his heart and soul belong in Israel
Maxim Vengerov was tired. It was a Monday afternoon and the virtuoso violinist and sometime conductor was ensconced in his dressing room at the Tel Aviv Opera House, where he has been rehearsing with the Rishon Lezion Orchestra and pianist Shira Shaked for this week’s Vengerov Festival.
It’s been a busy summer for Vengerov. In the last three weeks, he’s jetted twice to South America, once to China and twice to Paris.
He also celebrated his 40th birthday, doing, what else? Working.
But he’s not complaining. He’s finally in Israel, where much of his extended family lives, including his parents and grandmother. And he’s succeeded in bringing his eponymously named festival to Israel, something that’s been on his mind for some time.
Remains of Byzantine monastery found near Jerusalem
Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the remains of a Byzantine monastery outside the city of Beit Shemesh west of Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Thursday.
During the expansion of the Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhood, archaeologists conducted a survey of the location and found the remnants of an ancient walls and cisterns. Subsequent excavations of the site unearthed an oil press, wine press and mosaics. The size and scale of the installations indicate that production was on an industrial scale, and that the residents relied upon the sale of wine and olive oil for their livelihood.
One of the mosaics found at the site bears colorful geometric designs, a cluster of grapes and flowers.
Although a church or inscription has yet to be found in the complex, archaeologists posit that the site was a Byzantine monastery, dating back some 1,500 years, based on the site’s style and dating.
5,000-year-old crescent-shaped stone monument identified in Israel
Archaeologists have long known about the massive 150 meter-long landmark near the Israeli city of Safed (Tsfat). But it wasn’t until recent work carried out by Ido Wachtel, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, that the structure was identified as a 5,000-year-old crescent-shaped stone monument.
Archaeologists were mystified by its purpose and previously thought the structure was part of a city wall. Wachtel, however, shows in his research that there was no city beside it and that the structure is a standing monument.
According to a report published by the science news website LiveScience, the crescent-shaped monument predates the Old Testament, Stonehenge and the pyramids in Egypt.
Believed to be designed to portray the moon’s shape, the structure’s volume is about 14,000 cubic meters (almost 500,000 cubic feet) and its length is 150 meters (492 feet) — longer than an American football field.
According to the report, pottery excavated at the structure indicates the monument dates to between 3050 B.C. and 2650 B.C.
'Lost Tribe' Visits Israeli Holy Sites for First Time Dozens of olim from the Bnei Menashe tribe in northern India tour Israel's holy places for the first time in their lives.
Millions of visitors make their way through the streets of Jerusalem every year, but earlier this week one particularly special group touched the holy stones of the Jewish capital for the first time.
Just three months after making aliyah from Manipur in northeast India, dozens of members of the Bnei Menashe visited Israel's holy sites as part of a trip arranged by the Shavei Israel organization, which helps "lost" Jews find their way back home to their Jewish heritage and homeland.
The Bnei Menashe - literally "Children of Menashe" - claim descent from the Israelite tribe of Menashe, one of the 10 Tribes of Israel exiled by Assyria some time during the 8th century BCE, and scattered throughout the world.
According to Biblical prophecies one of the signs of the Messianic era is the return of these lost tribes to Israel - so it was fitting that the first holy site the group visited was the tomb of Rachel, the Jewish matriarch whose spirit is said to have mourned for the exiled children of Israel.

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