Friday, July 24, 2015

From Ian:

JPost Editorial: Choosing sides
Different periods in history have different moral challenges. Slavery was one of the major issues of the 19th century. Abolitionists, whether of the religious or the secular variety, were on the right side of history while those who continued to justify this morally repulsive practice were on the wrong side.
Fascism, Communism and imperialism were the evils of the 20th century, from which humanity barely managed to escape. Though hindsight is 20-20, very few critics had the moral wherewithal and sensitivity to identify all three evils as misguided and immoral in real-time. Ernest Hemingway, Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells and many others failed regarding at least one of the three. George Orwell, Arthur Koestler and France’s first Jewish prime minister Leon Blum were some of the few intellectuals and politicians who were right about all three.
The 21st century has its moral challenges as well. One of them is radical Islamism. Recognizing the dangers presented by the various expressions of reactionary, nihilistic Islamic ideology is a prerequisite for fully comprehending the single biggest threat to Western civilization.
Another litmus test for moral rectitude in the 21st century is one’s position on Israel. Those who view the Zionist project favorably and are generally supportive of the Jewish state are on the right side of history. Those who are hypercritical of Israel, favor using boycott, divestment and sanctions to coerce Israel to cave in to the demands of the Palestinians and other Arab nations, or focus solely on Israeli “crimes” while ignoring the violent rhetoric and actions of Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas are failing the moral test of the day.
Debating Michael Walzer’s ‘Islamism and the Left’
Michael Walzer is professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and one of the democratic left’s foremost political philosophers. His recent essay ‘Islamism and the Left’ – published in Dissent, the US journal he co-edited for many years – sparked much debate on the left. Fathom invited a range of thinkers to respond critically to the essay in conversation with Michael in our offices in London.
Michael Walzer: Thank you to Fathom for organising this discussion about my essay ‘Islamism and the Left’ which appeared in Dissent earlier in 2015. I know you have all read it, so I am looking forward to hearing your critical responses.
Robert Fine (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Warwick University): Thanks for your article. The primary explanation that you are using for the Left’s condoning of Islamism is its fear of encouraging Islamophobia. But why should there be such a fear? Firstly, the Left is not afraid in the same way of encouraging anti-Semitism. Secondly, as you showed very well in the article, there is no opposition between being sensitive to Islamophobia and being highly critical of Islamism. So, while I thought your description of the phenomenon was very good, I wasn’t immediately convinced by your explanation that the fear of encouraging Islamophobia is the driving force behind left apologetics for Islamic fundamentalism.
Michael Walzer: You could probably say that the fear of Islamophobia is related to the hostility to Israel. There is this eagerness – I’ve heard this often in the States, I don’t know if it happens here – to describe the Islamic minority in the US, or in Europe, as the ‘new Jews’. Somehow, that gives you license to ignore the ‘old Jews’, and to focus on these ‘new Jews’, and to claim that we must not repeat with them what we did to the ‘old Jews’. But that can lead to any criticism being interpreted as hostility to this minority and a way of targeting this minority. The argument becomes ‘if you are critical of Islam, you are joining hands with the new xenophobes of the West.’
Douglas Murray: Je Suis Charlie? Even Charlie Hebdo has now surrendered to Islamic extremism
Bad news from the continent. In an interview with the German weekly Stern, Laurent ‘Riss’ Sourisseau, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, announced that he would no longer draw cartoons of any historical figure called Mohammed. This follows his former colleague Renald ‘Luz’ Luzier saying a couple of months back that he would no longer draw Mohammed either. ‘Luz’ announced that he was leaving the magazine shortly afterwards.
I don’t judge either of them for this decision. ‘Luz’ happened to be running late for work on the morning that the Kouachi brothers forced their way into the Charlie Hebdo offices and started shooting his colleagues. ‘Riss’ was in the office and took a bullet to the shoulder, bringing him to the floor where he lay – playing dead – while the sharia-blasphemy force finished off his colleagues. This would be enough to have made most people retreat into silence for the rest of their lives. But both men stuck with the publication through the immediate aftermath of the atrocity and asserted their right to keep publishing depictions of Mohammed.
Who knows why they have stopped now? Perhaps the jokes are a little less funny now there are so many dead bodies. The cost-benefits calculus of putting Mo in an issue would lead anyone towards wanting a slightly quieter life and wondering if it wouldn’t be better if, say, that potential Mo gag became another Pope gag. And I don’t doubt that there must be something sickening about most of the free world patting you on the back and saying ‘Je Suis Charlie’ only to show immediately and continually that they very clearly are not. But the reasons ‘Riss’ gives sound unconvincing to me. The reality is that intimidation and terrorism work. It is the reason why every major publication in the Western world failed to do what Charlie Hebdo had done. And it is the reason why, from Copenhagen to Texas, the people with guns keep making themselves felt and everyone else keeps backing down. Of course we all say that they won’t win (‘Je Suis Charlie’). But they are winning, and at this rate they will win.

Caroline Glick: The irony of the expulsions from Gaza
Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza 10 years ago was a strategic disaster. But it could have been much more devastating if the ideologues behind it had had their way.
Formally, the withdrawal was supposed to do two things. It was supposed to strengthen Israel’s diplomatic position vis-à-vis the US and Europe by demonstrating Israel’s commitment to Palestinian statehood, and it was supposed to enhance Israel’s security by redeploying the IDF along more defensible lines.
Neither argument for the withdrawal was particularly plausible. But due to the media’s lockstep support for it, neither was seriously challenged.
The truth is, these justifications were never anything more than a smoke screen to hide the true purpose of the withdrawal from the public. The real purpose of the withdrawal from Gaza was to deal a strategic blow to Zionism and the Jewish character of the state.
The destruction of those communities – and the expulsion of the 350,000 Jews who live in them – was also not an end unto itself. For the leftist ideologues who invented the idea of unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, destroying the settlement enterprise is a necessary precondition for destroying religious Zionism.
And religious Zionism has to be destroyed in order to destroy Zionism.
This true purpose of the Gaza withdrawal was made clear by leftist ideologues in the months that preceded the withdrawal.
For instance, Haaretz published an editorial a month before the withdrawal explaining, “The real question is not how many mortar shells will fall, or who will guard the Philadelphi Route [between Gaza and Egypt], or whether the Palestinians will dance on the roofs of [the destroyed communities].
“The real question is who sets the national agenda. The disengagement of Israeli policy from its religious fuel is the real disengagement currently on the agenda. On the day after the disengagement, religious Zionism’s status will be different.”
Israeli audience gets a taste of Jewish Voice for Peace’s brand of betrayal
In the Channel 2 report, when Kushmaro asked two JVP activists about their group’s support for a “right of return,” their answers were appalling. Sitting on a bucolic park bench far from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic State, Kushmaro asked them, “If, after we make the right of return and all those things of the BDS, there will come peace? There will be peace in Israel?”
“I think it is the only way that there can ever be peace in Israel,” replied one of the JVPers.
“And if you are wrong?” asked Kushmaro. The other JVPer spluttered over her words searching for an answer and, finding none, asked Kushmaro in a tone of indignation, “How are we, how are we supposed to answer these questions?”
Kushmaro’s concise reply nailed it: “Because it’s my life. I’m living there. You want me to gamble on my life.”
Being thousands of miles away from the chaos engulfing the Arab world on Israel’s immediate borders gives these two JVP representatives the luxury to objectify Israelis and reduce their predicament to one-dimensional theories supported by glib sloganeering.
We who live here in Israel, however, understand well that this “right of return” demand is a euphemism for delegitimizing Israel’s status as the national home in which the Jewish people are implementing their right to self-determination. JVP may not see it, but there is a major dissonance between calling yourself “Jewish Voice for Peace” while actively opposing this right for your own people.
Melanie Phillips: Arming all sides for nuclear war
Strikingly, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has been increasingly showing that he “gets it” on domestic Islamic extremism.
He has also evolved into the most pro-Israel leader in Europe.
He also understood that within Islam there was a “spectrum of extremism.” As he said, it was not enough for Muslims to say they abhorred ISIS (Islamic State).
“We’ve got to show that if you say, ‘Yes I condemn terror – but the kuffar are inferior,’ or, ‘Violence in London isn’t justified, but suicide bombs in Israel are a different matter’ – then you too are part of the problem.”
Wow. This was the second time recently that Cameron identified Britain with Israeli victims of terrorism – a bold move in a country where any expression of public support for Israel elicits from the political and cultural elite a sharp intake of breath.
And he went even further by stressing that a key factor behind Islamic extremism was the Muslim world’s paranoia “that Jews exercise malevolent power; or that Western powers, in concert with Israel, are deliberately humiliating Muslims, because they aim to destroy Islam.”
This identification of Muslim anti-Jewish hatred with anti-Western jihadi violence is a crucial understanding. And nowhere is this deranged connection more evident than in the genocidal ravings by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Yet this same David Cameron is supporting a so-called deal which commits Britain, the US and others to help put nuclear weapons into the hands of those same genocidal Islamists.
Study: Many Diaspora Jews Doubt Israel Wants Peace, But Affirm IDF’s Morality
Diaspora Jews increasingly doubt that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and are growing more uneasy about discussing Israel in their local communities, a new wide-ranging study has found.
According to a study by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) titled “Jewish Values and Israel’s Use of Force in Armed Conflict: Perspectives from World Jewry,”many Jews around the world “doubt that Israel truly wishes to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians, and few believe it is making the necessary effort to achieve one.”
The survey also found that it has become “increasingly difficult” for Jewish communities to discuss Israel “because of the bitter political disputes these discussions spark.”
“This difficulty may lead to the exclusion of Israel from Diaspora community agendas, and is an obstacle to communicating Israel’s actions and policies to the Jewish public within a sympathetic communal framework,” the study said.
But the study also found that many Diaspora Jews agree that Israel is in a difficult position and approve “of the way Israel and the IDF use force in asymmetrical confrontations.”
UN Envoy: The Two-State Solution is 'On Life Support'
The UN’s special envoy to the Middle East told the Security Council on Thursday that Israeli and Palestinian statements about a commitment to peace need to be translated into “concrete and sustained actions on the ground.”
“Now is the time to act decisively to reverse the growing perception that the two-state solution is on life-support, slowly dying a death ‘by a thousand cuts,’” warned the envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, during a briefing to the Security Council about the situation in the region over the past month.
Measures undertaken to improve the situation must not be considered an end unto themselves but part of a broader political framework with the goal of achieving a final status agreement, which will require committed engagement with key Arab states, Mladenov said, according to a statement released by the UN.
“Given the region's massive transformation, it is imperative – perhaps more than ever before – that a permanent settlement be found, based on the concept of two states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestine, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition,” he added.
Today, he continued, the two sides are further apart from that goal “than ever.” Support for the two-state solution among both Palestinians and Israelis is fading away, while the current situation on the ground is not sustainable, he warned.
Is India dumping the “Palestinian Cause”?
For the second time in a few weeks, India has abstained at the United Nations instead of voting on an Israel-related resolution. On July 3, 2015 India abstained from weighing in on a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel for 2014 Gaza conflict. The anti-Israel resolution passed with 47 votes in favour, with the US opposing, and India amongst 5 nations abstaining. Then on Monday, Israel unsuccessfully tried to table a resolution to challenge the official recognition of Hamas-linked NGO in the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
It is fair to ask: why abstain? Israel is one of India’s leading defense partners, and an emerging trade partner. But considering the fact that until recently India was referred to as the “23rd Arab state” for siding with Arab-block on every anti-Israel resolution at the UN, this is a huge diplomatic shift for the world’s largest democracy.
Since India normalized diplomatic ties with the Jewish State in 1991, Israel has become India’s partner of choice when it comes modernizing the country’s military capabilities. The government is collaborating with Israel in agriculture, water management, and renewable and clean technologies; and India’s technology-driven IT giants have made significant investments in Israel’s innovation and startup ecosystem.
For decades, political commentators in India have questioned the wisdom and morality of unconditionally backing a movement that uses terror tactics against a fellow democracy to achieve political ends—-especially when year after year, thousands of Indians are slaughtered by Islamist terrorists. Contrary to the diplomatic posturing, Hindu-majority India’s public opinion has always been overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. Last year, with the devastating defeat of India’s “Congress Party” (the architects of the socialist planned economy who ruled the country for much of the period since independence from Britain in 1947) India’s unconditional support for the “Palestinian cause” has now finally come to an end.
The Palestinian Authority has always taken India’s support at the UN for granted; now, they are shocked and angry at India’s diplomatic shift.
Who Knew? Israeli Security Fence Part of Region-Wide Trend
Israel has been vilified for building a security barrier (mostly fence, with walls in urban areas) to keep terrorists emanating from Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza from infiltrating into Israeli communities to carry out attacks.
Anti-Israel activists on university campuses, in church conclaves and in the media refer to Israel's barrier as the "apartheid wall" pretending that its main purpose is to keep Palestinians penned in to so-called "bantustans", when in reality it was a last-choice solution to stem escalating terrorism against Israeli civilians.
Well, it turns out that while Israel's barrier may be an unforgivable offense to those whose vantage point is hundreds or thousands of miles away from the danger, in the region itself, security fences have become commonplace, stretching thousands of miles along insecure borders.
An article appearing on Bloomberg News Web site, provides maps and a chronology of fence building in the region. It turns out that the first and still longest security fence was built by Morocco. After 9-11-2001, Saudi Arabia and others followed suit. Even terrorist-flagship Iran has built a fence to keep out unwanted visitors from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
At the UN and among activists in the West, only Israel's fence is seen as a problem though. For the others, protecting oneself from terrorist infiltration is ample justification.
Khaled Abu Toameh: PA: Israel seeks to divert attention from political achievements of Palestinian leadership
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday strongly condemned Israel for continued building in the settlements and the killing of two Palestinians in the West Bank.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA presidency, said in reference to the killing of two Palestinians by the IDF in the Jenin and Hebron areas this week that Israel was trying to create tensions and instability in the West Bank.
“Israel is seeking, through these practices, to send a message to the international community, which is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause,” Abu Rudaineh said. “Israel wants to divert attention from the political achievements of the Palestinian leadership.”
The spokesman called on Israel to “immediately stop creating a destructive atmosphere.”
Donald Trump: Move the Palestinians to Puerto Rico (satire)
Billionaire Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has unveiled a controversial peace proposal for the strife-torn holy land: give the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico to the Palestinians as compensation for surrendering to Israel.
According to the so-called “Trump Solution,” rolled out by the outspoken business magnate at a Manhattan press conference, the U.S. would fund the relocation of all four or so million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Caribbean archipelago, and offer them “free housing, job training and a lifetime supply of deodorant.”
“It’s perfect. Puerto Rico is over 1,000 square miles bigger than the West Bank and Gaza, far more fertile, and the influx of millions of migrants will jumpstart its economic recovery,” Trump explained. “I’ll even build them an exact replica of that darn mosque they’re always killing innocent Israelis over.” Unlike native Puerto Ricans, however, the so-called “Puertostinians” would not be able to relocate to the U.S. proper if they don’t like their new homeland: “We’re overrun by Mexican criminals as it is.”
Welcome to ‘Trump Gaza’
The real estate mogul then unraveled a relabeled map of Puerto Rico, pointing to where he plans to build an adults-only mega resort on the archipelago’s second largest island, to be renamed ‘Isla De Gaza.’
“There’s a fortune to be made by fulfilling people’s jihadist sex fantasies on a Disney-scale,” he said, outlining some of the main attractions of ‘Trump Gaza’: a topless ‘72 Virgins Casino,’ “Safari-style” tours to mock refugee and jihadist training camps, ‘Shoot Your Own Rocket’ and ‘Dig Your Own tunnel’ workshops, ‘Catch a Zionist’ competitions, ‘Torture a POW’ sessions, as well as underground “Abu Ghraib-themed” BDSM parties. “Let the Puertostinians both preserve and profit from their native culture,” Trump said.
Ill. Gov. Signs First Anti-BDS Bill Into Law
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner became the first state leader to sign into law “historic” legislation that makes it illegal for any taxpayer-funded public pension fund to invest in any company that participates in the fiercely anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Rauner was joined at the signing ceremony by Jewish community leaders and other lawmakers who backed the bill, which was a first in any U.S. state legislature.
“The Illinois law is the first state-based measure to take specific concrete action against boycotts of Israel,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “ The legislation, which was modeled after past measures relating to Iran and Sudan, requires state pension systems to terminate direct investment in companies that boycott Israel and issue warnings to fund managers when such companies are held indirectly inside larger portfolios.”
Rauner said in a statement that states must “stand up” to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel advocates.
“We need to stand up to anti-Semitism whenever and wherever we see it,” Gov. Rauner said in the statement. “This historic legislation is an important first step in the fight against boycotts of Israel and I hope other states move quickly to follow our lead.”
Israeli Priest Slams Anti-Israel Boycott Movement
The new guide is aimed to “help Christians better understand” the “true nature” of the anti-Israel boycott movement.
The CEC press release describes the 12 page booklet as “challenging Christian anti-Zionism on an ideological level”.
Basically, it’s an unapologetic, passionate, and vigorous defense of Israel grounded in the Christian faith.
The guide can be downloaded for free as a PDF file from the CEC website.
Currently available only in English, there are plans to make it available soon in multiple languages.
It’s meant to be read as a direct response to the “recent discussions concerning BDS in global churches, including the Mennonite Church, the Episcopalian Church, and the United Church of Christ”.
Previous LI posts have covered anti-Israel animus in America’s mainline Protestant churches, including last month’s divestment vote in the United Church of Christ (UCC). As we discussed, the UCC vote was driven by a vocal minority of anti-Israel activists within the church, and enabled by Jewish Voice for Peace.
JVP is an anti-Zionist purportedly Jewish group that provides critical cover in America’s churches by allowing those with anti-Israel agendas to falsely portray BDS as standing with the Jewish people.
Fr. Naddaf would have a thing or two to say to them about what it really means to stand with the Jewish people. But he doesn’t expect his guide to change the hearts or minds of any of these Israel-hating church activists.
The Best Lack All Conviction
The Dutch Foreign Minister said his country is opposed to BDS, but its actions parallel some of the aims of the BDS Movement, namely the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.
I had the distinct opportunity of putting BDS activists in their place when they attempted to intrude into my talk in Amsterdam. I find individual BDS activists emotionally eloquent, but intellectually bankrupt. With facts and truth, I found it easy to expose them for the liars and cheap hypocrites that they are.
The same facts and truths must be employed by the Dutch government, indeed every European government, when it comes to standing with or against Israel.
Sadly, each and every European government in recent years has been swayed by cynical self-interest or ignorance by leaving Israel isolated on issues and resolutions that merit their commitment and support.
The poet, W.B.Yeats, wrote, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
In the halls of international diplomacy, this is true. The worst regimes overwhelmingly pass hateful anti-Israel resolutions without objections from what ought to be decent and moral governments.
The time had come for the European diplomatic community to counter each anti-Israel motion with the truth and justice they deserve, and vote accordingly. Only then will we see the chambers of the United Nations, the EU, and the World Health Organization, being led by so-called strong liberal democracies, and not by Third World tyrants.
Indonesian School Accused of Spreading Radicalism
The principal of an Islamic school in Indonesia is denying allegations that it encouraged extremism by staging a play about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in which children put on outfits that made them look like jihadis.
The play caused a controversy because the young performers toted toy guns, while wearing headbands inscribed with Arabic words and masking their faces with sarongs, according to Indonesian media reports.
"We are not teaching radicalism. To the contrary, we are concerned for fellow Muslims," Tomi Rohili, principal of Asshafa Islamic Elementary School in Depok, West Java, which staged the play last month, told BenarNews in a phone interview.
"The media seems to have exaggerated this issue that our school has spread radicalism. And, for that, I wanted to clarify it is not true," he said.
Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism in South Africa
The student anti-Israel movement in South Africa is more extreme than most. In February, the student government at the Durban University of Technology called for the expulsion of Jewish students, particularly supporters of Israel. In March, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) responded to a protest in which the lives of Jews were threatened by denouncing the presence of the Community Security Organization, whose purpose is to protect Jews and who were cooperating with local police. The COSAS called the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, an organization that represents South Africa’s Jews, “the Jewish ISIS” that “threatens our sovereignty through, illegal [sic], mercenaries, militia and invasion.” They hastened to add that they had nothing against Jews, but only against those who have long represented them in South Africa, and concluded with this flourish: “Away racist Jewish deputies away!”
It is, therefore, no surprise that the South African Students Congress (SASCO) has gotten into the act by suspending three student members for visiting Israel on a trip sponsored by the South Africa Israel forum. “We view an act by some of our members to visit Israel as crossing the picket line.” This move is more surprising than it seems. As offensive as boycotts like the one adopted by the American Studies Association are, no one there has proposed to discipline members who buck it. SASCO on the other hand, wishes “to state categorically that SASCO is a voluntary organization where members join and subordinate themselves to its constitution, its policies, and its resolutions. Therefore [they] urge all [their] members to respect, defend and advance all decisions of the organization without exception.” SASCO may be an extreme organization, officially aiming to “ensure the destruction of capitalist relations of production and the ushering of a socialist society.” But it is by no means marginal; Haaretz calls it the “biggest South African student organization.”
There is no adult in the room here. Obed Bapela, a deputy minister for Performance, Monitoring, and Evaluation in the President’s office, has said that the ruling African National Congress will investigate the students for bringing the ANC into “disrepute” Bapela, by the way was present at the February protest I mentioned, in which the crowd chanted, among other things, “You Jews do not belong here in South Africa.” Bapela apparently had no problem with that, but did find time to complain of the “foreign force” brought in by the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, reminding the crowd that “South Africa is our country.”
With A Corrected Mistranslation, Even The Guardian Looks Good Relative to the BBC
BBC Watch explained that this was not the first time the media giant replaced Palestinian “Jews” with “Israelis,” and recounted that, after a complaint about the switch, the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee in 2013 did not correct the mistranslation, and in fact went so far as to justify the practice, saying that “Israel” is what the speaker was “most likely referring to.”
Let’s assume the very best case: That the Palestinians who said “yahud” really did mean Israelis, notwithstanding the many examples of straightforwardly, explicitly anti-Jewish rhetoric in Palestinian society and the wider Arab world.
Even in this case, words matter. (Look again at the idea behind The Guardian‘s erroneous claim: “In a small but perhaps encouraging sign, President Rouhani…referred to Israel by its name, rather than as ‘the Zionist entity.'” Words matter.)
If its true that Palestinian children conflate “the Jews” and “Israel” in their language, this matters — and news consumers seeking to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict should know about it. If Palestinian parents and educators generally don’t teach that “Jew” means something broader than “Israeli,” then again, this matters, and BBC viewers should understand this reality.
Toronto Star Gives Platform to “Humour” Video Portraying Israel as Bloodthirsty Child Killers
Leave it to the Toronto Star to give an undue platform to comedian Scott Vrooman featuring a video he produced which portrays Israel as a bloodthirsty warmongering nation that wantonly kills Palestinian children and innocents, and that has blood on its hands.
The odious anti-Israel video was released on the Star’s Youtube page on June 4 entitled “When it comes to Israel, Canada’s love is blind” and has been viewed over 2,300 times, along with being featured on the Star’s website, and the anti-Israel website Rabble.
In the 2+ minute video which the Star labelled as “humour” and “opinion”, Vrooman stated the following and concluded by implying that Prime Minister Harper has blood on his hands for being an accomplice to the “killing (of Palestinian) children and unarmed people”:
A Conspicuous Omission
The July 16, 2015 murder of four United States Marines and a sailor at two different military sites in Tennessee by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, which the FBI is reportedly investigating as an act of terrorism, has attracted considerable media coverage. Yet, in reporting the shooter’s background and self-proclaimed “search for answers”, The Washington Post failed to note specifically what may be an important aspect: prior investigations of links between Abdulazeez’s father and U.S. listed-terror organization Hamas.
The New York Times (“Inquiry Focusing on Chattanooga Gunman’s Trip to Jordan in 2014,” July 17) reported that Abdulazeez’s father, Youssuf “had been investigated about seven years ago” for “giving money to an organization that apparently had ties to Hamas, the Islamic militant group in Gaza that the United States and other Western nations consider a terrorist organization.” The Times also noted “a similar investigation was conducted in the 1990s” into Abdulazeez’s father and -- although neither investigation led to charges -- he was placed on a watch list for a time.
The Washington Post failed in print to note the purported connection to Hamas—the virulently Islamist organization ruling the Gaza Strip. In an article exploring the Chattanooga gunman’s background and more specifically his family, (“Chattanooga Gunman came from a middle class Muslim Family,” July 17) the newspaper states without further details that the father “was investigated by the FBI several years ago and put on the terrorism watch list but was later removed.”
Other printed articles by the newspaper offer a bit more specifics, noting that the investigation was for “donating to Palestinian groups suspected of having ties to terrorism” (“Marine’s killer set off no red flags,” July 18) and a “radical Palestinian terror group.” (Chattanooga Shooter’s real, online lives seem to take divergent paths,” July 18). But neither identified the group as Hamas.
BBC’s Kevin Connolly erases Iranian patronage of terror, distorts history
Moreover, the extremist religious ideologies which are the foundations of the Iranian regime itself and the reason behind its patronage of Shia and Sunni terrorist organisations are portrayed by Connolly in markedly muted terms.
“Iran is the great power in the world of Shia Islam, just as Saudi Arabia would see itself as the leader of those who follow the Sunni tradition.
There are plenty of small wars in which their proxy armies fight each other in what sometimes feels like a looming regional confessional conflict.”

In other words, a BBC Middle East correspondent who has been located in the region for over four and a half years would have audiences believe that hostilities rooted in religious doctrines may be (perhaps; he’s not quite decided) just around the corner.
As long as Connolly and his colleagues continue to downplay Iranian sponsorship of terrorist groups motivated by religious ideology BBC audiences will obviously be unable to fully comprehend the reservations voiced by many in the Middle East concerning the “winds of change” bolstered by the terms of the JCPOA agreement or to fully understand the “international issues” likely to develop as a result.
Antisemitic Rally in Ukraine Calls for No Jews in Government
Antisemitic protesters in Ukraine rallied on Wednesday against Jews serving in the country’s government, a day after hundreds of right-wingers held an anti-government rally in another part of the country, The Algemeiner has learned.
A photo taken at the anti-Jewish rally in Lviv, in western Ukraine, shows protesters holding a banner that reads “No Jews in government.”
Oles Datsko a photographer from the city who first published the photo online told The Algemeiner that the rally goers were protesting against government policies, as were the hundreds from Ukraine’s radical Right Sector group who rallied in Kiev on Tuesday.
While Right Sector activists claim they are seeking to end corruption and nepotism in government, Ukrainian authorities have criticized them for their use of violence, according to the Associated Press.
Two Right Sector members were killed earlier in July after the group attacked police with live ammunition and grenades in the western city of Mukacheve. Police then surrounded some gunmen in the woods and are still trying to negotiate their surrender.
Russian Judge Dismissed for Anti-Semitic Post
A district court judge from Russia's Udmurtia republic was dismissed from his post this week for posting an anti-Semitic remark on Facebook two years ago.
At the time, Ivan Orsinin uploaded a picture of a burning mosque to his Facebook page with the following caption: You can look endlessly at three things: flowing water, sparkling stars and a burning mosque."
In a comment below the picture, the judge added "and the Jews burning," an anti-Semitic statement that also has clear Holocaust overtones.
Investigators from Russia's General Security Service began looking into Orsinin after he published the incendiary post.
After the judge learned of the investigation against him, he expressed regret for his actions. A criminal case, however, was opened against Orsinin on charges of hate speech, incitement and expressing hostility to others.
Prosecutors ultimately decided not to indict Orsinin because of his apology, he was still forced to step down as a judge for Udmurtia's district court.
Home of Polish family who died saving Jews now a memorial
A hideout in the home of a Polish family who sheltered Jews hiding from German forces during World War II is now a national monument, but was kept a secret for 70 years -- little wonder, considering the price paid by members of the Skoczylas family for refusing to reveal its inhabitants.
According to archives of the Institute of National Remembrance in Kielce, consulted by the Mimaamakim Holocaust education organization, 10 members of two families sharing one farm were executed by German troops in December 1942 for refusing to reveal the whereabouts of a Jewish family hiding in the cellar of their house.
According to witness accounts gathered in the archives, they were herded into a barn that was later set on fire. Those attempting to run away, including an 8-year-old boy, were shot. There is no information about the fate of the Jewish residents.
Today, the site has been given the status of a national monument by local authorities and is under protection.
"This site isn't just important for Jews, this is important for humanity. Who would believe that one person would risk and end up giving their lives to try and help another? ... I wouldn't, I couldn't imagine myself risking my family to try and save somebody else, even a friend or a neighbor," Mimaamakim President Jonny Daniels, told Reuters. The foundation, which aims to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, uncovered the history of the site and was involved in registering its status.
"This site gives us a hope in humanity. This site gives us an understanding of what people can do. This is why it's so important. This is why we were so lucky and honored that the heritage department for Poland put this as a heritage site. So that forever it will remain as this symbol. And this is what we must look for and search for more. We've got to search and we've got to look for these people who were hidden there to give some kind of closure to the remaining members of the family," said Daniels, who was the first Jew to enter the cellar since World War II.
Twitter Unveils New Safety Center Developed With British Jewish Security Group
Twitter unveiled a new resource on Wednesday for users facing abuse on the social media site called the Safety Center, though critics have noted its practicality is questionable at best.
Working together with security groups such as British CST, protecting Jewish communities in the U.K., Twitter designed the new platform to help users navigate its available tools for dealing with online abuse, whether racism, antisemitism, trolling or other forms of online harassment.
CST’s efforts with Twitter were to ensure the issue of antisemitism could be addressed and taken care of effectively. Many Jewish leaders in Europe, the U.S. and Israel believe the Internet has become the primary forum for spreading antisemitism, much in the way Western leaders have accused extremist groups like the Islamic State of propagandizing and recruiting.
Twitter said the tool was to help users, parents and educators address safety concerns, and stressed its creation came about by cooperating with members of the community.
Facebook safe place for Jew hatred
Earlier this year I travelled from New Zealand to attend the 5th Global Forum For Combatting Antisemitism in Jerusalem. One of the many speakers was Simon Milner, a Policy Director for Facebook. His response to a question from the floor included the statement:
“[combatting antisemitism] that’s absolutely what we’re determined to do.”
Milner also explained that offensive content reported to Facebook was typically checked by two of Facebook’s staff, in the interests of maintaining consistency.
The full context of Milner’s statements can be viewed online.
In our view, Facebook’s published community standards are commendable, ostensibly committing Facebook to removing hate speech. In addition, Facebook’s representative, speaking at the premier world gathering of scholars, government and institutional leaders directly engaging with antisemitism, declared Facebook’s determination to combat antisemitism.
And yet, explicitly genocidal hate speech against the Jewish people, posted on the Shadows of Shoah Facebook page, was deemed acceptable by Facebook.
Are we to assume that Facebook’s policy on hate speech does not apply when the target of that hatred is the Jewish people?
Are we to conclude that Facebook is a safe place for Jew hatred?
Urban park planned atop Tel Aviv’s busiest highway
A Tel Aviv municipal committee on Wednesday approved an ambitious plan to cover one of the country’s busiest highways with an urban park.
The NIS 2 billion ($524 million) plan would cover some 240 dunams (60 acres) over the Ayalon highway, which runs through the center of Tel Aviv, with green spaces, foot and bicycle paths and cafes.
The large open space in the middle of an urban area will help connect Tel Aviv’s eastern and western neighborhoods, currently divided by the thoroughfare, train tracks and Ayalon river.
“The park will hopefully connect the neighborhoods of Yad Eliyahu, Nahalat Yitzhak and Bitzaron to the city center,” Itai Pinkas, a member of Tel Aviv’s construction committee, told Ynet.
“There will be no large-scale construction or malls, as that would make the city’s downtown even dirtier and noisier,” he added.
Pinkas said the the highway would not be completely enclosed to prevent heavy air pollution from building up inside the tunnel.
What’s next for drip irrigation?
Rain has never been a reliable source of water for agriculture. In ancient China, farmers irrigated their fields by burying water-filled unglazed clay pots among their crops. Since then, the most significant advance in modern agriculture is the drip-irrigation system invented in Israel by Simcha Blass and his son Yeshayahu in 1959.
Drip irrigation increases crop yield, quality and consistency, while using less water per unit of land — benefiting farmers, consumers and the planet.
This year, Netafim – the multinational company founded at Kibbutz Hatzerim in 1965 to commercialize Blass’s technology – is celebrating its 50th anniversary at a time when the fertile field of “precision agriculture” offers ever more efficient ways to irrigate crops as well as monitor and control the process.
Netafim has 28 subsidiaries, 16 manufacturing plants and more than 4,000 employees worldwide delivering its technologies to two million customers in 110 countries. Its Indian subsidiary is now involved in the world’s largest integrated micro-irrigation project, and on July 21 the company signed a $17 million agreement with Vingroup in Vietnam to supply greenhouse structures, drip products, climate control systems, growing platforms, know-how, and agronomic and support services for one of Southeast Asia’s largest greenhouse projects.
Israel’s Year-Round Growing Seasons Leading Edge on Competitors
Israel’s year-round growing season has pushed it past competitors in some of the U.K.’s biggest food markets, the British Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.
Gordon Bickel, the head of Israel’s largest agricultural produce exporter Carmel Agrexco, said Israelis’ ease with European languages (many emigrated from European countries to the Jewish state), the high quality of its fruits and vegetables, and the good weather have given it an edge over many British and Spanish competitors in huge grocery chains like Tesco.
Trade between the U.K. and Israel is at an all time high, at about $7.9 billion. One in seven British National Health Service prescriptions are filled using Israeli-made drugs, the Mail reported.
Israeli findings push first wheat cultivation back 11,000 years
New findings at the archeological site Ohalo II near the Sea of Galilee have revealed that wheat and barley had been sown there dating back 23,000 years -- 11,000 years prior to the estimated inception of organized agriculture.
Professor Ehud Weiss of the Land of Israel Studies and Archeology Department at Bar-Ilan University and Dr. Ainit Snir led the team of archeologists, botanists, and ecologists who made the breakthrough discovery, which was published in the July issue of the Plos One scientific journal.
Until now, historians have believed that humans began transitioning from hunter-gatherer societies to established agriculture communities some 12,000 years ago.
The Israeli researchers based their startling new conclusion on three discoveries: the atypically high presence of domestic, rather than wild, wheat and barley dispersal units; a high concentration of proto-weeds -- plants of the type known to flourish in fields planted with domesticated crops; and sickle blades that were used to cut and harvest grains.
Weiss explained that the plant remains from the site were unusually well-preserved because they had been charred and then covered by sediment and water, which sealed them in low-oxygen conditions.
One Giant Leap for Israel: Buzz Aldrin to Make First Visit to Jewish State
Forty-six years after becoming the second man to walk on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission, Buzz Aldrin will take his first steps in the Holy Land later this year.
Aldrin, 85, will be attending the International Astronautical Federation’s (IAF) annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Jerusalem in October, the IAF announced Thursday.
Much like his mission to the Moon, Aldrin is following in the footsteps of former colleague Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, who visited Israel in 2007 and met with children at the National Science Museum in Haifa. Armstrong died in 2012.
Founded in 1951, the IAF hosts the conference in various countries each year. The theme of this year’s conference is “Space—The Gateway for Mankind’s Future” and will draw the world’s leading space experts as part of various panel discussions and workshops.
“Many of Israel’s high-tech companies, with their diverse space industrial facilities, space technology, expertise, and know-how, have much to offer to the international space community,” the IAC’s local planning committee in Jerusalem said in a statement.
“Israel’s academia and research institutions represent the cutting-edge of research, technology, development, and space exploration, which will be available for IAC participants to experience, gain first-hand knowledge, and discover,” added the committee.

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