Friday, December 19, 2014

From Ian:

Alan Dershowitz: Harvard’s president stops an anti-Israel boycott against SodaStream
I have no doubt that some students and other members of the Harvard community may be offended by the presence of SodaStream machines. Let them show their displeasure by not using the machines instead of preventing others who are not offended from obtaining their health benefits. Many students are also offended by their removal. Why should the views of the former prevail over those of the latter? I’m sure that some students are offended by any products made in Israel, just as some are offended by products made in Arab or Muslim countries that oppress gays, Christians and women. Why should the Harvard University Dining Service — or a few handfuls of students and professors — get to decide whose feelings of being offended count and whose don’t?
In addition to the substantive error made by Harvard University Dining Services, there is also an important issue of process. What right does a single Harvard University entity have to join the boycott movement against Israel without full and open discussion by the entire university community, including students, faculty, alumni and administration? Even the president and provost were unaware of this divisive decision until they read about it in the Crimson. As Provost Garber wrote, “Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy.” Were those who made the boycott decision even aware of the arguments on the other side, such as those listed above? The decision of the HUDS must be rescinded immediately and a process should be instituted for discussing this issue openly with all points of view and all members of the university community represented. The end result should be freedom of choice: those who disapprove of SodaStream should be free to drink Pepsi. But those who don’t disapprove should be free to drink SodaStream. Economic boycotts should be reserved for the most egregious violations of human rights. They should not be used to put pressure on only one side of a dispute that has rights and wrongs on both sides.
Harvard president asks for probe into SodaStream boycott
Drew Faust asked for an investigation into the decision, Provost Alan Garber told The Harvard Crimson student newspaper on Wednesday night.
The request came following an article written earlier in the day by the newspaper reporting that the university’s dining service agreed in April to halt buying the equipment following protests by Palestinian students and their supporters.
The dining service agreed to remove the SodaStream labels on existing water machines and purchase new ones from American companies after university officials met in April with members of the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society, the newspaper reported Wednesday.
“Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy,” Garber wrote in an email statement to the Crimson late Wednesday night. “If this policy is not currently known or understood in some parts of the university, that will be rectified now.”
Garber said in the statement that neither he nor Faust was aware of the decision before reading about it in the newspaper.
New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says
In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views.
At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an award-winning author, arrives in Tel Aviv to give a speech but things don’t pan out so smoothly for him. His scheduled trip to Gaza has been blocked by the Israeli government, he deals with an obnoxious hotel waiter fresh out of the Israeli army who brings him cold tea, and then finds himself at the center of a major operation to assassinate an Israeli minister. Up until the final moment there is enough suspense and drama to fill the hotel room where the entire play takes place.
On the surface, Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv shows the struggle between a Jew, Tony, and a Palestinians extremist. But Safdie said the real “battle” in the play has a lot more to do with Israelis versus a growing Jewish diaspora critical of Israel. “The people more like the liberal Jewish community in North America versus the Israeli perspective,” he explained.
In an interview with The Algemeiner, Safdie talked about how bothered he is with American Jews and their sense of “arrogance, thinking that they know better” than those living in Israel. He asked, “Why is there a need to second guess Israelis who live in the middle of this small country surrounded by enemies?”

Hanukkah Miracle Brings ’770′ Stabbing Victim Home
Israeli yeshiva student Levi Rosenblatt underwent emergency neurosurgery at New York’s Bellevue Medical Center after he was stabbed by Calvin Peters. The attacker was subsequently shot and killed by police who raced to the scene upon seeing the stabbing unfold on their monitors at a special mobile base across the street from the synagogue.
Rosenblatt was rushed in very serious condition to nearby Kings County Hospital but quickly moved to Bellevue when it became obvious he required specialized surgery. His condition stabilized soon after the operation was completed.
“Mr. Rosenblatt suffered a knife injury to the blood vessels in an extremely sensitive area of his brain,” neurosurgery chief Dr. Paul Huang explained in a news release. “Because of the resources available to us, as well as the experience and expertise of the nurses and physicians at Bellevue Hospital, we were able to deliver a very sophisticated level of care to this patient. He underwent a procedure to repair two blood vessels, which was successful. He has had an amazing recovery.”
‘We don’t feel welcome in our own universities’
One of the most pernicious ways in which pro-Israel sentiment is shut down is through the branding of it as ‘offensive’ or ‘distressing’ to the student body. SUs and others are now obsessed with keeping students ‘safe’ - by which they mean safe from certain ideas. Safe Space policies, now on statute at students’ unions across the UK, mandate, to quote one example, that the university should be ‘free from intimidation or judgement’; students, it says, should ‘feel comfortable, safe and able to get involved in all aspects of the organisation’. The message here is clear: debate is dangerous, and students shouldn’t be challenged.
The rise of the Safe Space policy has unleashed an unhinged and rootless form of campus censorship. Any idea that has the potential to upset students, or simply cause them discomfort, is seen as a problem, potentially needing to be stamped out. SU attacks on Israel societies and meetings is sometimes justified under the banner of protecting students from ‘harm’ and keeping them within ‘the safe space’ - and the flipside of this is the implicit depiction of any student who is pro-Israel as harmful and unsafe. In a move that would make Orwell proud, certain students’ beliefs are rebranded as dangerous, toxic things that must be closely policed. It’s no wonder some pro-Israel students feel surrounded by hostility on campus: their very belief system is presented as harmful.
But university should never be a ‘safe space’. From the lecture hall to the campus-quad picket lines, university is a space in which ideas should be fiercely contested. This is sometimes convivial, amicable and constructive, but at other times it can be forthright, unrelenting and aggressive. Students should be exposed to all sorts of ideas, including ‘unsafe’ ones, and all student societies must have the freedom to express themselves. However much it tries to sell itself as radical action to strike a blow for the Palestinian cause, the current crusade against pro-Israel students in Britain is blatant political censorship cynically dressed up as concern for students’ safety.
Stand With Us: Incite

UCLA Prof Assigns Pro-Israel Book in Order to Trash It
It seemed too good to be true: the required reading in UCLA history professor James Gelvin’s fall 2014 class, History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1881 to Present, includes a pro-Israel book, Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel (2004). Described by the New York Times Book Review as “[e]specially effective at pointing to the hypocrisy of many of Israel’s critics,” the Washington Post Book World called it a “lively, hotly argued broadside against Israel’s increasingly venomous critics.”
Why would a professor so openly critical of Israel assign such a work? To balance his own unfavorable views on the topic, perhaps? To spark classroom debate on complex issues?
Not quite. A source at UCLA tells Campus Watch that students are reading Dershowitz in order to locate and write about the alleged errors, a requirement that does not extend to any of the other reading material.
Would that Gelvin’s students could apply such scrutiny to his own book, The Israel Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War (2014), which is also required reading. Martin Sherman, formerly of the University of Southern California and the Hebrew Union College, reviewed the book for the Middle East Quarterly in 2010 and concluded that it provides:
... an account of the Israel-Palestine conflict which is appallingly shallow, shoddy, and slanted. ... [I]t will certainly underscore the mendacious manner in which this topic is dealt with in mainstream academe.
PA, PLO Attempt to Stall NY Terror Trial Overruled
The landmark $1 billion New York court case against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on terrorism charges will be held as planned, after the rare appeal the two organizations filed this month in an attempt to stall the trial was overruled.
The appeal, a writ of mandamus, was thrown out by presiding judge Judge George Daniels, who ruled that the trial will move forward as established in a landmark November 20 ruling, which paved the way for the PA and PLO to be tried for terrorism conducted by their members during the intifada.
Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Center) is helping represent 11 families in the trial who charge the PA and PLO of inciting, supporting, planning and executing seven terror attacks which killed American citizens between 2000 and 2004.
Jury selection for the case will begin on January 7, and the trial will launch on January 12, marking the first time the two organizations are put on trial. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2004.
Jewish comics blacklisted over support for ‘racist’ charity
A bitter row has broken out in the close-knit world of Jewish stand-up after the owner of a leading comedy club refused to book anyone who plays benefit gigs for a pro-Israeli organisation he claims is “racist”.
Ivor Dembina, a veteran Jewish comic who runs the Hampstead Comedy Club, said anyone taking part in benefit gigs for JNF UK – which is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories – would be barred from performing at his venue.
This has led to a row with leading Jewish comedians including Mark Maier and Steve Jameson – both of whom have a history of performing at the North London club. They criticised Dembina’s handling of the situation – and accused him of “inconsistency” for accepting money from pro-Israeli audience members while banning pro-Israeli acts.
Dembina has staged the “Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show” for the past 20 years, but this is the first time such a row has broken out. News emerged about the dispute after the comedian Bennett Arron set up a rival Christmas night, saying it would welcome JNF supporters.
The JNF UK holds a Kosher Komedy and Kabaret benefit every November, with a string of Jewish comedians performing. (h/t messy57)
The Only Anti-BDS Speech You’ll Ever Need
What does the global BDS movement actually want? In answering that question, its followers in this room will use all of the flowery language you’ve heard already today, that they want “human rights,” “justice,” and “equality.” But the actual movement, the one only seen within anti-Israel circles, is quite different. Its entire purpose is to deprive Jews of their basic human rights, specifically their right of self-determination. I will prove it.
Lara Kiswani, a BDS activist just like the ones in this very room, recently stated that “the end-all of BDS is to weaken Israel, to isolate Israel, and give the global community a role in the liberation of Palestine…all of occupied Palestine, from Haifa, to Jerusalem, to Ramallah” Another BDS supporter, As’ad AbuKhali, wrote in an op ed for Al-Akhbar that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel…That should be stated as an unambiguous goal.” The founder of BDS, Omar Barghouti, has clearly stated that “we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”
When BDS leaders are speaking to only their supporters, they don’t even bother to pretend that their movement is about human rights. Here are some more testimonies. Ahmed Moor, a pro-BDS author, wrote, ““Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself…BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” David Litwin, another BDS activist, wrote that “A ‘Jewish state’ is irreconcilable with the justice advocated for BDS.” Ronnie Kasrils wrote in Palestine Chronicle that “BDS represents three words that will bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine.” No BDS group, either globally or locally, has publicly disavowed these statements. The evidence piles up and up and cannot be denied.
Former Open Hillel Leader Denounces Movement
A former leader in the “Open Hillel” movement who is now a critic of the organization has said that “there is no way that Open Hillel can live up to their ostensible principles,” and has called on Peter Beinart, the writer and professor who spoke at the first-ever Open Hillel conference this October, to renounce his support for the movement.
Holly Bicerano, a senior at Boston University who previously served as Open Hillel’s Campus Outreach Co-Coordinator, made the remarks in an interview with the Jewish online magazine New Voices. She had previously announced that she was quitting the movement, which is dedicated to allowing anti-Zionist and pro-BDS speakers at Hillel houses on college campuses, in a widely-read post for the Times of Israel entitled “Standing Athwart Lies.”
In her Times of Israel piece, Bicerano recounted that she wanted to invite the author Elie Wiesel to speak at the conference, but her colleagues on the Open Hillel Steering Committee rejected her suggestion, “resorting to name-calling and using curse words” against the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Holocaust survivor. She elaborated in her New Voices interview that the episode was the beginning of a “wake-up call” for her:
Cuba and Israel
The USSR recognized Israel officially in 1991, shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. China did so in1992. On the other hand, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea remained totally opposed to Israel’s existence. The Cold War was ending—a bit at a time. When countries became less committed to opposing the United States, their opposition to Israel grew milder.
In September 2010, Fidel Castro, no longer in power, made a remarkable statement in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic.
Fidel said that Israel had the right to exist as a Jewish state. Despite the fact that Fidel Castro had ceded power to his brother Raul, he remained, and remains, one of the most honored leftist leaders in the world. An important and respected Communist had said that Israel should exist. Mysteriously, the interview never gained much attention. Cuba officially remained Israel’s enemy.
BBC News presentation of EU court’s Hamas terror designation decision
What the BBC’s article does do, however, is amplify Hamas’ subsequent spin of the ECJ decision.
“Hamas deputy political leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said the decision was “a correction of a historical mistake”.
“Hamas is a resistance movement and it has a natural right according to all international laws and standards to resist the occupation,” he told the Reuters news agency.”
Moreover, despite informing readers that “[u]nder its charter, the movement is committed to Israel’s destruction”, the BBC article additionally promotes the inaccurate and misleading notion of Hamas as a “resistance movement” in both its text and photo caption, whilst concurrently whitewashing its violent 2007 coup in the Gaza Strip.
BBC’s report on European Parliament vote on Palestinian statehood misses the point
Bettiza closes:
“This vote is not legally binding, but it sends a strong message to the international community. Palestinian officials say they will press on with a bid for statehood at the UN – and this European support no doubt helps their cause.”
Quite how Bettiza imagines that a motion which clearly ties recognition to negotiations supports or helps the assorted unilateral Palestinian moves aimed at avoiding negotiations is unclear. It is, however, worth remembering one relevant point which the BBC’s researcher failed to note at all: the EU is part of the Quartet (together with the UN, the US and Russia) which is committed to solving the conflict through negotiation alone.
Clearly this article does little to meet the BBC’s remit of building “understanding of international issues” with its main achievement being to confuse audiences with regard to the motion and its significance. Perhaps if Sofia Bettiza had not limited her quest for quotes to MEPs from the Socialist group and the Greens, she might have come up with a more balanced, accurate and informative picture of the issue.
Soccer Player Suspended, Fined for Anti-Semitic Post
Liverpool Football Club player Mario Balotelli faces a one-match suspension, a 25,000 pound ($39,176) fine, and an educational course, the Football Association ruled Thursday night, after posting racist and anti-Semitic comments on Instagram.
"Following an independent regulatory commission hearing today Mario Balotelli has been fined £25,000, suspended for one-match with immediate effect, subject to any appeal, and warned as to his future conduct after he admitted breaching FA rules in relation to social media," the FA said in a statement. "The charge was that an image the Liverpool player posted on social media was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA rule E3(1)."
"Furthermore, the posting was considered to be an "aggravated breach" as defined in FA rule E3(2) in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colur and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief," it continued. "Mr Balotelli has also been ordered to attend an education program."
Earlier this month, Balotelli posted - then deleted - a photo on Instagram of Nintendo video game character ‘Super Mario’ with the caption "jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew."
A most unseemly battle over the legacy of Anne Frank
In the city where Frank spent most of her short life and hid from the Nazis, a legacy feud is simmering between the owners of Frank’s writings — the Switzerland-based Anne Frank Fonds — and stewards of the “Secret Annex” museum visited by more than one-million people each year, the Anne Frank House.
The spat has intensified in recent months, following the May premiere and early commercial success of “Anne,” a new play created at the Fonds’ behest. The high-tech production is the first since 1955’s “The Diary of Anne Frank” on Broadway to be based on Frank’s original writings, and it’s housed in a custom-built theater on Amsterdam’s west port.
For several years, the Fonds has waged a legal and media battle against the Anne Frank House, revolving around the Fonds’ demand that 25,000 original family documents and photos be returned to it by the museum. Related to these tensions, “Anne” is one of several new projects the Fonds hopes will counter the museum’s supremacy in attracting a Frank-adoring public, not to mention maximize the final months before the diarist’s writings enter the public domain.
Polish school honors Elie Wiesel
A spokeswoman for a Catholic university in southern Poland says it has bestowed an honorary doctorate on Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel in recognition of his efforts to reveal the full evil of the Holocaust and defend human dignity.
Monika Wiertek, spokeswoman for the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow, told The Associated Press on Friday that the university Senate voted unanimously this week to honor the 86-year-old Wiesel.
A survivor of Auschwitz and other Nazi German death camps, Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. He writes and lectures to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
Wiertek could not say when or where the awarding ceremony will take place.
UN Identifies Israel as Top Contributor Per Capita in Fight Against Ebola (VIDEO)
Israel pledged an additional $8.75 million USD on Wednesday to the UN’s Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) towards fighting the deadly disease, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Dr. David Nabarro, Special UN Envoy for Ebola said at a signing ceremony for the pledge that “This donation has put Israel as the 6th largest state to contribute to fighting Ebola, and first per capita.”
“Global cooperation is more than a moral obligation to provide assistance to people in need – it is an investment in the long-term prosperity of all people,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said at the ceremony.
“This idea is central to the Jewish value of tikkun olam, the obligation of every person to make the world a better place,” Prosor said.
Part of the donation will be allocated directly to WHO and UNICEF, towards the operation of medical clinics in the affected countries.
New Israeli App Diagnoses Car Trouble, Recommends Repairs
An Israeli start-up, Engie, has developed a system that not only diagnoses car troubles, but also recommends the least expensive repairs, according to a report yesterday on the Israeli financial website Globes.
The company’s product has two parts – a device that attaches to a vehicle’s on-board computer (OBC) and has a Bluetooth component, which transmits information to the second part – the mobile app. The app analyzes the data received from the OBC and displays it to the user with simple graphics.
In this way, the app can check whether the engine oil pressure is correct, check battery status, display average fuel consumption, and also check other vehicle systems such as problems in the alternator, the immobilizer, safety systems, gear shift, and so on. The analysis is carried out by an Android app (an iOS version is expected later on), which is currently at the beta stage. In addition, after mileage and vehicle model have been set, the app notifies the user when an annual service is due, and informs users of the routine maintenance that will need to be carried out, including average prices of spare parts.
Energy Deals Can Alleviate Middle East Tensions, Says State Department Envoy
A State Department Envoy has said that energy ties between Israel and Egypt, Turkey and Jordan will provide a healthy counterbalance to political tensions in the region.
“Energy won’t be a leader of the political process, but it can be a key incentive to move the geopolitical positions in a more positive direction,” said Amos Hochstein, U.S. State Department special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, during an interview at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Hochstein was discussing exports from Israel’s burgeoning natural gas sector to its neighbors. According to the Bloomberg news agency, the American diplomat helped broker deals signed this year between U.S. and Israeli companies and Jordanian clients, as well as an intended deal whereby Israel will provide the National Electric Power Company of Jordan with gas over 15 years.
Hebrew University archeologists uncover elaborate entryway into Herodian Hilltop Palace
Archeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archeology announced on Thursday the discovery of an elaborate entryway into the Herodian hilltop palace at Herodion National Park, located on the edge of the Judean Desert.
The unique entry was uncovered during excavations by the Herodium Expedition over the past year as part of a project initiated in memory of Prof. Ehud Netzer to develop the site for tourism, the university said in a statement.
“The main feature of the entryway is an impressive corridor with a complex system of arches spanning its width on three separate levels,” the university said.
According to the archeologists, the arches buttressed the corridor’s massive side walls, allowing King Herod and his entourage direct passage into the palace’s courtyard. The 20-meter-long and 6-meterwide corridor has been preserved to a height of 20 meters by the entryway’s supporting arches, they said.
India PM tweets Hanukkah greeting in Hebrew
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent out a Hanukkah greeting in Hebrew on Friday, to the delight of many Israelis and Hebrew-speakers around the world.
In a post on Twitter, Modi wished his “Jewish friends a happy Hanukkah! May this Festival of Lights and the festive season ring in peace, hope and well-being for all.” The post was then sent out in English as well.
Relations between Israeli and India have been good for decades, but warmed significantly since Modi came to power in May. (h/t Phil)
Google Campus TLV Hanukkah menorah
Google is known to use their lava lamps as menorahs in the main GooglePlex lobby for years, they also use legos. Google TLV Campus, in Tel Aviv Israel took a different approach, using interesting abstract lighting. Here is a picture from Google+ from Shay Ben-Barak.
Amsterdam mayor lights Hanukkah candles against intolerance
At a public lighting of Hanukkah candles, Amsterdam’s acting mayor urged Jews to celebrate their faith openly to counter rising levels of anti-Semitism.
“The answer to intolerance lies precisely in demonstrating freedom of worship and of expression,” Eric van der Burg said Tuesday, lighting the first candle of the holiday. Gesturing toward the three-foot menorah on display at a square in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, he added: “This is a shining example of this.”
Anti-Semitic incidents increased dramatically in the Netherlands during Israel’s summer war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The CIDI watchdog group registered 105 complaints during the two-month operation. The organization registered 147 the whole of 2013.
Yanki Jacobs, a Chabad rabbi from Amsterdam who lit the menorah with the mayor, thanked him. “The message is that you can’t fight darkness with darkness,” Jacobs said.
Menorah honoring terror victims erected in Sydney
Chabad set up a menorah in downtown Sydney as a tribute to the victims of a terrorist attack.
The 32-foot menorah was erected late Thursday night in downtown Sydney, just hours after Chabad cancelled its annual candle-lighting ceremony in the wake of the terror attack that killed ended with three people, including the assailant, killed. The menorah has been used for Hanukkah lighting ceremonies for nearly 30 years.
At the foot of the menorah is a message that reads: “The Jewish community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the Lights of the festival of Hanukkah bring comfort and warmth to our nation.”
Erecting the menorah sends a message even in the absence of the lighting ceremony, said Rabbi Elimelech Levy, the director of Chabad Youth NSW and coordinator of the annual Hanukkah in the City celebration.
The Israeli Hospital Admitting Syrian Fighters: The War Next Door (Part 2) (h/t Yoel)

IDF Blog: 8 Miraculous Moments in IDF History
#MiraculousMoment 3: The Floating Bridge on the Suez Canal
Yom Kippur War, 1973
When it was first proposed, the idea of transporting tanks across the Suez Canal on a floating bridge seemed impossible, but this miraculous idea proved to be genius. On October 17, 1973, a number of IDF Armored Brigades crossed the canal, and later on encircled the Egyptian Third Army. This is considered one of the greatest military achievements of the war and eventually led us to victory in the Sinai Peninsula.


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