Thursday, March 19, 2015

From Ian:

White House chief of staff to headline J Street conference
Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, will headline the annual J Street conference, at a time of US-Israel tensions over the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group’s signature issue, the two-state solution.
J Street announced McDonough as its speaker Thursday, three days before the start of the conference, which is expected to attract a record 3,000 activists, including 1,000 students.
McDonough’s appearance at the conference for the group, which is strongly critical of the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, comes at a low point in ties between the Obama and Netanyahu governments.
Another featured speaker will be James Baker, the secretary of state under President George H. W. Bush who clashed with a right-wing predecessor of Netanyahu, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Baker is currently advising Bush’s son, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor vying for the GOP nod for the 2016 election.
There will also be sessions on Iran and on J Street’s role in the wider Jewish community.
Joe Lieberman: Congress Should Have Power to Review Iran Deal
In an opinion column for The Wall Street Journal, Lieberman throws his support behind the bipartisan legislation proposed by Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez that would allow Congress to approve or reject an accord with the Islamic Republic.
"The White House has threatened a veto, arguing that a deal with Iran would be a 'nonbinding' executive agreement and therefore congressional review would represent an inappropriate intrusion," wrote Lieberman, the vice presidential nominee in 2000.
"Not so. The Constitution and history, not to mention common sense, argue that it is entirely proper for America’s elected representatives in Congress to review a far-reaching agreement with a foreign government of such national-security significance.
"The president as commander in chief deserves deference in devising national-security strategy, but Congress has clear constitutional standing and an institutional prerogative not to be cut out of the process."
The four-time Connecticut senator noted that in the Constitution there are "checks and balances" between the president and Congress in terms of foreign policy authority, specifically pointing to the selection of ambassadors and drawing up international treaties, which both need Senate agreement.
University of New Orleans: Divest from the Palestinian Authority
Signs of a new twist on the divestment phenomenon have recently been popping up on the campus of the University of New Orleans. Unlike the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign that began infiltrating college campuses nearly a decade ago, this divestment campaign targets the Palestinian Authority.
Started by Allies of Israel, a self-described “grass roots college organization dedicated to the promotion of the Jewish state of Israel as a sovereign nation,” this campaign asks students to sign a petition that states:
To raise awareness about the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Palestinian Authority against the Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank; to call for accountability in the foreign aid given to the Palestinian Authority and ensure it is not used to persecute Palestinians or Israelis.
Campaign organizer and student activist Chloe Valdary released a statement to the Salomon Center:
In order to give expression to the Jewish struggle for freedom, my organization Allies of Israel has launched a campaign to symbolically divest from the Palestinian Authority. Because we understand many Palestinians are employed by the P.A., we do not wish to literally pull off the shelves products which are produced by the PA. However, we do seek to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters who are imprisoned and persecuted by the P.A. This includes Palestinian women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents. In addition, we stand in solidarity with Jews in Israel and around the world and call upon the P.A. to cease sponsoring, financing, and/or encouraging the lynching of Jews and the segregation of Jews from areas that are currently off limits to Jews in Israel. (h/t Gnomercy9)

UNRWA: The Crux of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
This article surveys several historical issues regarding the involvement of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the Arab- Israeli conflict. It is important to note that access to internal UNRWA documents remains very limited, making analysis of decision- making, policy and personnel particularly difficult. Further, the literature on UNRWA is not easily distinguished from that of the Palestine Arab refugee issue, which is vast, political and polemical.
Almost since its inception, UNRWA, the international institution charged with aiding the refugees, has worked against their resettlement in Arab countries where Palestinians are located. One way UNRWA has done this has been by shifting its mission from refugee relief to education, devising its own expanded definitions of who is a refugee, and expanding its legal mandates to "protect" and represent refugees. As a result, the Palestinian clients of UNRWA have gradually taken over the organization and have undermined an international relief effort, created in naïve good faith, but with the complicity of the UN General Assembly.
Over the years, UNRWA, by its own admission, has proudly evolved from a temporary relief and works program into a broad social welfare organization for Palestinian society. It has also succeeded to such an extent that "there is little or no significant difference between the standard of living of refugees and non-refugees in the WBGS [West Bank and Gaza Strip], Jordan, or Syria." Maintaining those standards of living in dynamic economic conditions, much in the manner of a government, is a primary concern of the organization. Conversely, the international community, led by the United States and now, the European Union, has adopted a strategy of increasing support for UNRWA and other Palestinian institutions, such as the Palestinian Authority, in the traditional effort to avoid instability and, since the 1990s, in the attempt to shape Palestinian state-building. Another irony, however, is that UNRWA competes directly with the Palestinian Authority for international support.
FoxNews: Heroine from hell: Palestinians honor mass killer with monument
A female terrorist who died in an infamous attack that killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children, was memorialized last week at a public square in Ramallah in what Jewish leaders say is just the latest twisted example of Palestinians glorifying extremist murderers.
Dalal Mughrabi, who led the deadly 1978 bus hijacking on Israel’s Coastal Highway that also wounded more than 70, has long been venerated as a freedom fighter in Palestinian territories, where schoolchildren are taught to praise her as a martyr and freedom fighter. The move to honor her with a dedication of a square in the West Bank capital dates back to 2010, when the Palestinian Authority canceled a ceremony that would have coincided with a visit by Vice President Joe Biden. A year later, the PA went through with a dedication, and last week held a "re-dedication" that once again opened an old wound.
“Whenever any public area is named for somebody, it is meant to honor them and to never forget that person and their legacy,” said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “What makes this so inflammatory is this is a terrorist responsible for one of the deadliest attacks against Israel.”
Hirsi Ali Jokes: 'One Day I Hope To Convert To Judaism'
Last Thursday, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the women’s rights activist who was genitally mutilated in her native Somalia before she left Islam and became an avowed atheist, told an audience at the home Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni, “One day I hope to convert to Judaism. I tried it but it was very difficult.” Hirsi Ali was joking, and added later that if she became a Jew her life would be “a permanent quarrel” because of the various interpretations of the faith.
The Jewish Week reports that Hirsi Ali, whose new book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs A Reformation Now,” became quite serious when discussing Islamists; she called President Obama naïve in his perspective on Iran, telling the audience that to Muslims, compromise equals shame. She stated, “Their minds are frozen in the Middle Ages. Change will only come from the heretics.” Hirsi Ali slammed Obama for his insistence on calling Islam a religion of peace, asserting, “Why, Mr. President, do you insist on [speaking of] what Islam should be instead of what it is?”
The activist, who was the subject of death threats after the film she wrote, “Submission” triggered the murder of its Dutch director, said the reason she still is listed on Islamic “hit lists” is because she is “a woman, an apostate, a lover of Israel, and a lover of Zion.” She added that she admires Israel for its fortitude, adding, “I hope and pray I die in bed of old age at 100. But if they get me before then, please, I beg of you, do not give in.”
Hirsi Ali wrote in the Wall Street Journal after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, “If there is a lesson to be drawn from such a grisly episode, it is that what we believe about Islam truly doesn’t matter. This type of violence, jihad, is what they, the Islamists, believe … Those responsible for the slaughter in Paris, just like the man who killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, are seeking to impose terror. And every time we give in to their vision of justified religious violence, we are giving them exactly what they want.”
Guardian promotes hater Max Blumenthal to the position of ‘Israeli affairs specialist’.
A recent Guardian article celebrating reports that Tony Blair was about to “step back from his role as a peace envoy for the Middle East” referred to notorious anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal as an “Israeli affairs specialist” and – as if this was not preposterous enough – went on to claim that Blumenthal shared with Blair’s predecessor and former World Bank president James Wolfensohn the belief “that progress in peace talks comes first, and only when they have delivered some sort of stability will private investment follow.”
As anyone who has ever read anything by Max Blumenthal on Israel would know, he has absolutely no interest in any “progress in peace talks,” because he specializes in demonizing the Jewish state as too evil to be allowed to exist. While Blumenthal can’t quite make up his mind if it’s more effective to malign Israel as the Nazi Germany of our time or as the Jewish version of the savage terror group ISIS/Islamic State, he clearly believes that the world would be a much better place without a Jewish state and that peace will only come once Israel’s Jews have been turned into a defenseless minority forced to choose between submitting to Arab rule and emigrating.
Given Blumenthal’s views on Israel, his output not only appeals to activists campaigning for the delegitimization and elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, but it is also popular on all the major sites frequented by conspiracy theorists, antisemites, racists and neo-Nazis: from Stormfront to David Duke’s site, Rense, and Veterans Today. Indeed, wherever there are Jew-haters, Max Blumenthal has fans who admire him as an “Israeli affairs specialist.”
Palestinians balk at paying interest on terror judgment
Lawyers for Palestinian officials claimed Monday that victims of terror attacks in Israel more than a decade ago are not entitled to boost a $654 million lawsuit award to more than a billion dollars by tacking on interest.
Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority attorneys filed papers in Manhattan federal court late Monday challenging the $1.15 billion claim made by lawyers for victims of the bombings and shootings.
A federal jury last month awarded $218 million to victims after concluding the Palestinian groups were behind attacks in the early 2000s that killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more, including some Americans. The award is automatically tripled under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, raising the total to $654 million.
The lawyers said well-established accounting and economic principles were violated when an expert for the plaintiffs tacked on prejudgment interest as if daily interest was calculated since the 2002 to 2004 period of the attacks.
They said the trial record makes clear that the jury measured its verdict awards in current dollars.
White House Presses Congress to Oppose Review of Iran Nuke Deal
The White House is moving aggressively to limit Democratic defections on Capitol Hill that could undermine its negotiations with Iran, dispatching senior officials and President Barack Obama himself to lobby senators against taking action before a nuclear deal with the rogue regime is reached.
Senior administration officials have asked Senate Democrats to notify the White House if they are considering signing onto a bill drafted by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) that would give Congress the ability to accept or reject any nuclear deal. The push, several Senate sources said, is to prevent a veto-proof majority from building by heading off any fresh Democratic support for the plan and persuade supporters to keep their powder dry until the conclusion of multilateral negotiations with Iran.
The lobbying effort has come from all quarters. Obama has spoken directly with Democratic senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, including Ben Cardin of Maryland. Other senators who are weighing whether to join the legislative effort, such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have been briefed by the likes of Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have reached out directly to senators, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
LA Times: U.S. Spent Millions to Build Replica of Iran Nuclear Sites
The United States has spent millions of taxpayer dollars over more than a decade to build top-secret replicas of Iran nuclear sites at a secret location in the U.S., reports the Los Angeles Times.
President Obama is expected to use research conducted at the replica sites to sell a nuclear deal with Iran to the public and Congress.
“Using centrifuges acquired when Libya abandoned its nuclear program in 2003, as well as American-built equipment, the government has spent millions of dollars over more than a decade to build replicas of the enrichment facilities that are the pride of Iran’s nuclear program,” reveals the LA Times.
The article did not provide a specific dollar amount for how much was spent to build the replica enrichment sites in the U.S.
The White House has lost Thomas Friedman on Iran
In fact, the president has been put so far back on his heels over his rush toward a nuclear agreement that even his erstwhile allies are questioning the logic of the diplomatic push. The latest of the administration’s friends to get cold feet over the White House’s policy toward Iran is New York Times columnist Tom Freidman. In his most recent piece, Friedman wonders, given that the White House has facilitated the expansion of Iranian influence across the region, why the administration thinks it can compel Tehran to accept a deal that limits its ability to nuclearize at a time of its choosing.
“Geopolitics is all about leverage, and we are negotiating with Iran without the leverage of a credible threat of force,” Friedman wrote.
He went on to note that, while the threat posed by the abhorrent Islamic State is a grave one, it’s a questionable U.S. policy to welcome Iran’s service as a proxy army in that war. “Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?” he pondered.
French throw cold water on Iran's optimism in nuclear talks
French diplomats are questioning optimism expressed by Iranian officials in recent days that negotiations over its nuclear program have neared a critical breakthrough.
The assertion that 90 percent of technical issues in the talks have closed to agreement, made by Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation chief Ali Akbar Salehi to their press corps, is "not correct," one European official told journalists here on Thursday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, has been the most vocally critical of the state of talks in recent days.
"Contrary to what many think, that we are only discussing one issue, it is not correct," the diplomat told reporters. "We are discussing many issues and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."
Iran downplays chances of nuclear deal this week
Marathon talks to draw up the outlines of a landmark Iran nuclear deal by March 31 looked set Wednesday to go down to the wire as Tehran’s foreign minister played down chances of finishing the job this week.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, in talks in Switzerland with US Secretary of State John Kerry since Monday, said other foreign ministers from world powers involved in the negotiations were unlikely to join them for now.
The arrival of the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in Lausanne — joining their political directors — could indicate that a long-elusive deal might be at hand.
“I don’t think their presence will be needed in this round,” Zarif told Iranian state media from the Swiss lakeside city.
IDF dismantles explosive device on Gaza border
An explosive device concealed in the vicinity of the security fence on the northern border between the Gaza Strip and Israel was dismantled Wednesday by IDF soldiers, an army spokesman said. Further details regarding the device were not made public by the IDF.
On Sunday, security forces apprehended a Palestinian man who crossed the border from Gaza into Israel. Security forces found that the man was carrying a knife, although his motives for crossing out of the Hamas-controlled coastal strip were not known.
Last week, residents of kibbutz Netiv Ha’Asara near the Strip claimed that Hamas workers were digging attack tunnels before the eyes of IDF soldiers stationed on the border and that the military was doing nothing to stop them.
Palestinian injured in clash with IDF near Ramallah
A 20-year-old Palestinian man was taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition amid clashes with IDF troops in the Jalazone refugee camp outside Ramallah Wednesday evening.
According to the IDF, soldiers utilized riot control munitions after dozens of demonstrators in the camp threw rocks at the troops. Only after the situation escalated was the nonlethal weaponry used to disperse the crowd, the army said in a statement.
The man was evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah with stomach wounds after he was shot by a rubber bullet, the statement said.
No IDF soldiers were injured in the incident.
Fatah led Intifadas against Israel - Fatah official Tawfiq Tirawi
Fatah Central Committee member, Tawfiq Tirawi: "Jerusalem is undergoing an Intifada, dear brother. Let me tell you who is carrying out the Jerusalem Intifada (i.e., the October - November 2014 riots and terror attacks that murdered 11). Fatah members and Fatah personnel are the ones leading the street in Jerusalem. Since the beginning of the (2014) Intifada, 1,200 people have been detained, 1,000 of whom are Fatah members. Anyone can talk, but on the ground, who were the leaders of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (i.e., PA terror campaign, 2000-2005)? The others (i.e., Hamas) joined the Al-Aqsa Intifada after six months, for your information, not from the start. Now, I am telling you, who is leading the popular resistance? The Fatah movement!" [Official PA TV, Dec. 11, 2014]

Girl sings Haifa and Jaffa are “Palestine” at PA ministry festival
Girl sings song at a festival broadcast on a PA TV children's program in cooperation with the PA Ministry of Tourism.
Lyrics: "By Allah, oh traveling [bird], I burn with envy.
My country Palestine is beautiful.
Turn to Safed, and then to Tiberias,
and send regards to the sea of Acre and Haifa.
Don't forget Nazareth, the Arab fortress,
and tell Beit Shean about its people's return." [Official PA TV, Jan. 9, 2015]

Tamar Group To Sell Gas To Egypt Through Same Old Pipeline Built For Gas Exports To Israel
A consortium of private, industrial, and commercial Egyptian companies will buy at least $1.2 billion of natural gas from Israel’s offshore Tamar field, through the very same pipeline Egypt had used to send gas to Israel.
On Wednesday, the Tamar partners announced a seven-year deal with Dolphinus Holdings, with a minimum 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to be sold in the first three years.
But Reuters cites an energy source in Israel who said the deal is likely to be more than three times higher, as Egypt has been facing an energy crisis.
The gas will run through the underwater pipeline constructed almost 10 ago by East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which executed the Egyptian-Israeli natural gas deal killed by the President Morsi government, and attacks on the pipeline by Salafi terrorists in the Sinai.
Delek leads rally in Israeli gas companies on Egypt export deal
Delek Group Ltd. surged the most in a month after its gas-exploration units signed a supply deal with Egypt as part of Israel’s push to boost regional exports of fuel from its second-largest offshore field.
The shares climbed 5.9 percent as Delek Drilling LP and Avner Oil Exploration LP reached the seven-year accord including exports valued at $1.2 billion in the first three years. Delek Drilling and Avner, partners in the Tamar field, rose at least 8 percent on volumes more than double the three-month daily average. The shares were also supported by speculation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election win will enable the government to push through industry regulations.
“It’s not a small deal and the partners don’t have to invest too much money in development,” Noam Pincu, an analyst at Psagot Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said Wednesday by phone. “The election results so far also helped quiet fears of a new government undoing Netanyahu’s efforts to resolve the regulatory issues.”
Dieudonne convicted of condoning terrorism
French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala was found guilty of condoning terrorism for social media posts sympathizing with the Islamist gunman who killed four Jews at a Paris-area kosher supermarket.
On Wednesday, a Paris court gave Dieudonne a suspended two-month jail sentence. He had faced up to seven years in jail and a $106,000 fine.
Dieudonne posted “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” on Facebook on Jan. 14, days after the hostage siege at the Hyper Cacher supermarket that ended with the four murders and an attack two days earlier at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo magazine that left 13 dead. His post mixed the phrase in support of the magazine — “Je suis Charlie” — with the name of the killer, who also shot a policewoman dead during the murderous spree.
He later removed the post from Facebook.
Dieudonne has been convicted seven times for inciting racial hatred against Jews. He has been charged almost 40 times under France’s hate-speech laws.
Students distressed by swastikas on South Africa campus
Students at a South African university awoke Wednesday to images of Adolf Hitler and swastikas plastered over buildings on campus.
The large posters depicting the Nazi leader responsible for World War II and the Holocaust were put up in a prominent location at the University of Cape Town, apparently with no contextualization or explanation as to why they were there. They were quickly taken down.
The offenders were said to have put up the images in order to protest a nearby statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes, so that “Jews could understand… the struggles of the black child” and the offense black students take to seeing the statue of a man “just as bad as Hitler,” according to a statement released by the South African Union of Jewish Students.
The South African Union of Jewish Students condemned the placards and demanded disciplinary proceedings be brought against the culprits.
Court Rules Seattle County Had the Right to Ban Anti-Israel Ad From Buses
A US appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Seattle-based King County officials did not violate free speech by prohibiting local buses from displaying anti-Israel advertisements.
The ruling came in reference to a 2010 advertisement on a bus reading,”ISRAELI WAR CRIMES YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK.” Although the county initially approved this ad, a local news broadcast about the campaign caused public uproar and led to photos of injured or dead bus passengers being placed under the door of the local transportation authority service center. As a result, the county decided to reject the ad, while also rejecting a number of other ads proposed by pro-Israel groups.
In response to the rejection of the ad, the county faced a lawsuit from the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, a pro-Palestinian initiative. A judge in a lower court eventually ruled in favor of the county. On Wednesday, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco also said that Kings County had the right to bar the advertisement because it created a hazardous environment for bus passengers.
Honest Reporting: Should ABC [Australia] News Have Given Advocacy Journalist the Keys to its Jerusalem Bureau?
There are serious questions that must be raised about whether Sophie McNeill, who has recently been appointed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s exclusive Jerusalem-based Middle East correspondent, can comply with the obligations contained in ABC’s Code of Practice.
What makes this matter even more serious is the fact that the Jerusalem bureau is undergoing changes. While until now there were two ABC Middle East reporters (most recently Hayden Cooper and Matt Brown) as well as some support crew, the ABC says that it is making Jerusalem a Video Journalist bureau later this year. That move, it would appear, would give McNeill substantially more autonomy than previous Middle East correspondents have had.
The onus now lies on O’Neill to demonstrate that ABC management was not irresponsible in making the appointment – given her self-described dedication to frame stories from the point of view of the people who are “really suffering” (in her lexicon, the Palestinians) – and whether she can possibly fulfil the statutory obligation of an ABC correspondent to present news with due impartiality and to be fair to all perspectives.
No BBC coverage of French findings regarding Arafat’s death
On January 19th the BBC devoted multi-platform coverage to an interview with Yasser Arafat’s widow to mark the tenth anniversary of his death.
By means of that interview Suha Arafat was once again given a BBC platform from which to promote unproven theories regarding the cause of her husband’s death: a topic which the corporation has also covered extensively in the past.
A recent announcement by the French authorities has to date received no coverage on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.
Tunisia’s Fragile Success Under Attack
Tunisia was struck by a terrible act of terrorism today: gunmen, presumably of Islamist persuasion, stormed the Bardo museum in the capital, Tunis, killing tourists indiscriminately. Early news accounts suggest that at least 19 people were killed before security forces stormed the building and killed the terrorists. This is a sobering reminder of the risks that Tunisia faces, all the more jolting for someone like me who was in Tunisia relatively recently (I spent a week there in October as part of an International Republican Institute team observing the parliamentary election).
This may cause some to wonder if Tunisia is truly an Arab Spring success story. They shouldn’t. Terrorist attacks also happen in countries such as France and Britain and the United States without calling into question the fundamental legitimacy of the state. Granted, Tunisia’s democracy is much newer and more fragile, but it has been making impressive strides since popular protests, sparked by the self-immolation of a fruit seller, ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. Since then, Tunisia has seen two parliamentary elections, in 2011 and 2014, as well as one presidential election, in late 2014.
Parents of Turin chief rabbi survive Tunis terror attack
Two Italian Jewish tourists survived the terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunisia.
Alberto Di Porto, 71, and Anna Di Porto, 60, of Rome both managed to escape the shooting attack Wednesday in the capital city of Tunisia by gunmen wearing what appeared to be military uniforms which, according to reports at press time, left at least 19 people dead, including 17 tourists. The Di Portos, who were visiting Tunis as part of a cruise, are the parents of Ariel Di Porto, the chief rabbi of Turin, Italy.
According to a report by the Italian Jewish magazine Pagine Ebraiche, Alberto Di Porto injured his leg while running from the museum and was taken to a local hospital. The Italian news site La Voce reported that the couple was separated, with Anna Di Porto taken by police with other rescued visitors to a safe and secret location.
Standing Ovation for hero police dog killed in Tunisian museum hostage siege
A courageous police dog killed in the Tunisian museum hostage siege was given a guard of honour as its body was carried from the scene.
Remarkable footage has emerged showing mass crowds clapping the heroic hound as its bloodied body is wheeled away from the National Bardo museum by special forces.
The terrorist attack left 17 tourists, a museum security officer, a cleaner, and a police officer dead, as well as the two gunmen.
Tunisia Museum attack Hero police dog killed in terror siege gets tearful ovation

Jews most victimized group in Toronto: Cop report
The most victimized group in Toronto last year was the Jewish community, followed by the LGBTQ community and the black community, according to the 2014 Toronto Police annual hate crime report.
The report shows the number of reported hate crimes in 2014 increased to 146, up from 131 reported in 2013.
The number of people arrested also went up last year, from 17 arrests in 2013 to 22 arrests in 2014.
Religion proved to be the dominant motivation for almost half of all occurrences — it was identified as the main factor behind 63 of last year’s 146 occurrences.
The most prevalent offences in 2014, according to the report, which was on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board, were mischief to property (93), assault (23), and criminal harassment (10).
The Jewish community was targeted in 44 occurrences, followed by the LGBTQ community (27 occurrences), the black community (20 occurrences), and the Muslim community (16 occurrences).
Jewish Community in Wales ‘Feeling Vulnerable’ Following Record-Breaking Antisemitism in Britain
The Jewish community in Wales, UK is dwindling in number and its members are feeling vulnerable in light of the record number of antisemitic attacks taking place in the UK, the BBC reported recently.
There are only 2,064 Jews currently living in Wales, according to the most recent census. Cardiff, the country’s capital, holds the largest Jewish community in Wales with less than 500 members, down from 5,500 in the 1960s. In Newport, which has a synagogue that dates back to 1859, only six Jews remain.
“When I look to the future I see decline, I see Newport and Swansea virtually ended like Merthyr did a few years ago,” said Stanley Soffa, chairman of the Jewish Representative Council for South Wales.
Granite Bay man who tore down swastika displays: 'I had to do it'
The man who tore down hate symbols from a Sacramento home defended his actions on Tuesday.
"I had to do it," said Robert Dixon, a contractor from Granite Bay. "As an American, I just had to do it."
Watch report: Swastikas torn down from Sacramento home; Man admits it
In an interview in front of his home, Dixon admitted he's the man captured on cellphone video ripping down the swastikas from a home in Sacramento's River Park neighborhood.
"It's time for us as Americans to not be so complacent," Dixon said. "To stand up and say, 'Hey, we're not going to put up with it.' I'm not Jewish. I'm not military. I'm not a student. But I'm an American and I love my country. And I respect the Jewish people and they are our allies and I just had to do it."
Dixon said he knew he was risking arrest by ripping down the offensive signs, but so far, no one has filed a complaint with the Sacramento Police Department.
‘The Dovekeepers’ to Become CBS Miniseries
Despite the “hot mess” that was Lifetime’s The Red Tent adaptation (newly out on DVD!), a major network is turning another feminist Jewish narrative into a TV miniseries. The Dovekeepers, based on Alice Hoffman’s 2011 novel about three women during the ancient siege and fall of Masada, will premiere over two nights on CBS. Its producers are the same people who brought you The Bible (including Touched By an Angel star Roma Downey). What could go wrong?
The trailer is out, and it’s action packed. There’s sex! White people (and a few Latinos) portraying Middle Eastern Jews! Asking “Yahweh” for rain! Women disguising themselves as men! More sex! Josephus Flavius as played by Sam Neill! Even more sex!
The first part premieres March 31. In the meantime, you can whet your pseudo-historical, semi-feminist, Jewish-ish appetite with the trailer.
Israeli singer rocks Paris
A city where anti-Semitic attacks occur on a daily basis may not seem like the obvious backdrop for an Israeli production of music clip titled Hava Nagila.
Yet Paris’ anti-Semitism problem was precisely why the Rehovot-born religious Jewish singer Gad Elbaz chose to film the video for his newest single — posted on YouTube earlier this week — on its streets, which still bear the scars from the deadliest string of terrorist attacks it has experienced in decades.
Together with professional dancers and musicians from different faiths, Elbaz sang a techno-flavored version of the Jewish happy number whose title means “Let’s rejoice” in front of the many black banners commemorating the 12 victims of the January 7 shooting at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, which ended with 20 dead and dozens wounded.
The January killings also felled four Jews who died at a kosher supermarket. The attacks prompted millions to march against extremism through Paris on January 11. The black banners titled “I am Charlie” have remained on municipal buildings and private residences for weeks after the march.

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