Thursday, February 04, 2016

From Ian:

US Jewish scholar Chomsky criticizes cultural boycotts of Israel
One of Israel’s harshest critics took to the airwaves earlier this week and denounced attempts to impose a cultural and arts boycotts against the Jewish state.
Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguist and scholar, told Al Jazeera earlier this week that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign that limits its activities to targeting Israeli institutions involved in maintaining military control over the Palestinians in the territories is legitimate.
The MIT professor said that he differentiates between attempts to shun Israeli entities linked to its policies beyond the Green Line and efforts to ostracize Israelis with no connection to “the occupation.”
"Just as I do not suggest boycotting Harvard University and my own university, even though the United States is involved in horrific acts," he said. "You might as well boycott the United States."
The death of journalism
"Three Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on" was the CBS headline after ‎three Arab terrorists armed with guns, knives and bombs attacked two border policewomen at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. One of the police officers, 19-year-old Cpl. Hadar Cohen, ‎was killed in the attack. The other is in hospital with serious injuries.‎
There is nothing unique about this headline, though the Foreign Ministry ‎correctly slammed it as "biased and dishonest" and an example of ‎‎"unparalleled chutzpah."
Later in the day, CBS changed the headline to "Israeli police kill 3 alleged Palestinian ‎attackers."‎ Eventually, under strong pressure from multiple government agencies and countless critics on social media, the headline was again changed, this time to "Palestinians kill Israeli officer, wound another before being killed."
Too ‎little, too late.
Such headlines proliferate every time there is a terrorist attack (if it is reported at ‎all) and by now, they surprise few people, maybe apart from the Foreign Ministry. The ‎BBC and The Guardian, as well as the big news bureaus such as Reuters and AFP, positively ‎excel in headlines like this. In November, AFP published a list of countries suffering ‎from terrorism and infamously omitted Israel. ‎
This kind of "reporting" is biased to the point where it becomes equivalent to incitement ‎against Israel and collusion with the terrorists' aims. It is not journalism in any sense of the word. ‎What passes for news today constitutes a travesty of both journalism and any sense of moral ‎obligation that journalists once had to report the factual news, instead of pushing their own ‎highly politicized and subjective "narratives." Facts, as the Israel-hating historian Ilan Pappe once ‎said, do not matter. Only ideology does. Unfortunately, the profession that is paid to report only ‎facts, and to do so according to a certain ethical standard, has come to subscribe to that ‎essentially Marxist view of the world. ‎
France is pro Holocaust Memorials, Iran and a terrorist state
A decade ago, I created the “Future Holocaust Memorials” blog as a wake-up call to those nations who built Holocaust memorials yet turn their backs on those planning a Second Holocaust. This blogart project was honored in 2007 as an exemplary work of digital art by Rhizome Artbase at New York’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
In the tradition of Picasso’s Guernica, I propose to President Francois Hollande to double the size of the dozens of Holocaust memorials in France, built with crocodile tears to mark the murder of 6,000,000 Jews in Europe. These upgraded Holocaust memorials will include in advance the extermination of the 6,000,000 Jews in Israel today that Iranians and the Palestinians are planning with France’s help.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Hollande enthusiastically welcomed Hassan Rouhani, president of the Holocaust-denying Iranian genocidal regime. Less than a week later, France threatened to recognize the establishment of a terrorist state of Palestine in the historic heartland of Israel. The Palestinians share with the Iranians the aim to wipe the Jewish state off the map.
Future Holocaust Memorials in the tradition of Picasso's Guernica
Future Holocaust Memorials are a wake-up call warning the world of France’s actions to trigger a second Holocaust. It follows in the artistic tradition of Picasso’s Guernica crying out against a barbaric prelude to genocide.

Where does Bernie Sanders stand on Israel?
Prodded into discussing Israel’s conduct during the Gaza conflict, and interrupted for a second time by an angry attendee, Sanders told the man: “Shut up. You don’t have the microphone.”
The question that had preceded the eruption was from a woman who wanted to hear more from her senator about his position. He had recently abstained in a vote on Senate Resolution 498, which expressed support for Israel defending itself against “unprovoked rocket attacks” from Hamas. Sanders was one of the 21 members who didn’t sign the unanimously passed resolution.
While his eventual response didn’t satisfy Israel’s most ardent supporters in the room that day, neither did it please the ardent Israel detractors, and the audience contained more of the latter group.
“Is anybody happy in this room or feel good about the kind of civilian deaths we’ve seen in Gaza? The answer is no,” Sanders told the crowd in Cabot, Vermont. “Has Israel overreacted? Have they bombed UN facilities? The answer is yes. That is terribly, terribly wrong in my mind.
“On the other hand — and there is an another hand — you have a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel. That’s a fact,” he went on. “And you know where some of those missiles are coming from? They’re coming from populated areas. That’s a fact. Hamas has used money that came into Gaza for construction purposes — and God knows that they need roads and all the things that they need — and used some of that money to build these very sophisticated tunnels into Israel for military purposes.”
That flare-up reflects Sanders’s record of voicing both support for and criticism of the state of Israel. He has more than once condemned the Israeli military response to intensified periods of conflict while simultaneously defending the state’s right to exist and showing some empathy for the challenges it faces.
Why the Left Can’t Understand Islam
The left’s greatest intellectual error is its conviction that the world can be divided into a binary power struggle in which both sides agree on the nature of the struggle, but disagree on the outcome.
For leftists of a certain generation, it was class. Marx began the Communist Manifesto by laying out a primal class struggle throughout human history. For Marxists, everything in the world could be broken down to a class struggle with the wealthy oppressors on one side and the oppressed on the other.
It didn’t matter that this model didn’t fit a reality in which Communists leaders came from wealthy backgrounds and their opponents were just as likely to be poor peasants. To the left, everything is defined by the model. Reality is an inconvenience that is suppressed with gulags and firing squads.
Today the variable is identity politics. Everything must be intersectional. There are those who stand on the right side of history, in favor of abortion, gay marriage and illegal immigration. Everyone who isn’t on board is a racist, even if they’re black or Latino, a sexist, even if they’re female, or a homophobe, even if they’re gay. Once again, reality doesn’t matter. The binary struggle is the model for everything.
Former Islamic extremist: ‘The far Left is helping ISIS’
The far Left's delusion that the likes of ISIS are not inspired by Islam is discrediting the moderate Muslims trying to reform their faith, former Islamic extremist Maajid Nawaz has told Yahoo7.
Maajid Nawaz, who was formally a member of radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, is now seeking to challenge the narrative of Islamic extremists and form a more moderate Islam.
Currently in Australia for a series of talks, Nawaz told Yahoo7 that everyone has a role to play in how Islam can be reformed.
“We need a rational conversation about reforming Islam,” Nawaz told Yahoo7.
“That begins by everyone – in the Left, Right and Centre of politics – feeling like it is our conversation to have.
“Just like with Christianity or Judaism, which we feel we can discuss as they are our religions in our society.”
Nawaz has coined the phrase the ‘Regressive Left’, which he describes as a section of the Left wing of politics who “are abusing terms such as racism, bigotry and Islamophobia to shutdown debate”.
“Islam is not a race and it is certainly not racist to scrutinise Islam just as it is not anti-Christian to scrutinise, critique and satirise Christianity.
“No idea should be above scrutiny, just as no people should be below dignity."
Being discreetly Jewish in Marseille
No photographs of the Gan Ami Jewish school in the sixth district of Marseille will accompany this article.
That is because if you appear at the school with a camera, you will be courteously but firmly asked to put it away.
A crocodile of youngsters on an excursion is accompanied by two teachers. The teachers have walkie-talkies. At pick-up time, six soldiers with machine guns stand by.
These are Israeli levels of security. At the nearby office of the CRIF (the official non-religious Jewish representation), a Jewish security team mans the entrance. More soldiers patrol outside the synagogue around the corner.
No-one thinks this is overkill. It is simply what life is like now for a Jew in urban France.
Four charged with helping gunman attack Copenhagen synagogue
Danish prosecutors charged four men Wednesday with assisting someone to commit a terrorism act for allegedly helping a lone gunman who last year killed two people in attacks in Copenhagen.
Justice Minister Soeren Pind said the men were charged with assisting Omar El-Hussein with the killing of a Jewish security guard outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue on February 15 with a handgun.
Prosecutor Lise-Lotte Nilas said in a statement that the charges relate to the “terror murder of Dan Uzan” and the attempted murder of two police officers posted outside the synagogue.
She said she believes the men provided “various forms of assistance” in the hours after El-Hussein’s first attack on February 14 on a free speech event where he killed a Danish filmmaker, and “encouraged him to commit the attack by the synagogue and thus contributed to terrorism.”
France: An Antisemitic Hell for Jews
In France, it is not just antisemitism from Muslim North Africans and Arabs from the Middle East that is ‎haunting the Jewish community. In a recent poll, conducted over 18 months by Ipsos and sponsored by ‎the French Judaism Foundation, the “native” French showed that they are still as antisemitic as ever.‎
Fifty-six percent of the French believe that Jews “have a lot of power,” and 40% said that Jews are ‎‎”a little too present in the media.” Thirteen percent believe that there are too many Jews in France, ‎whereas an unbelievable 60% believe that Jews are at least partly to blame themselves for the rise ‎in antisemitism, with 91% saying that Jews “are very insular.”
Nevertheless, despite this obvious hatred, only 4% of the French consider the Jews “problematic.” ‎In contrast, 26% of the French said that Muslims were problematic. This is not so surprising. ‎French Jews mind their own business, contribute tremendously to society in every possible way, and do not commit violent crimes or terrorism. This has not, however, stopped the ‎French from hating the Jews.‎
In 2015, 808 antisemitic attacks were reported to the police according to a report by French Jewish ‎watchdog Jewish Community Security Service (SPCJ), with statistics supplied by the French Interior Ministry. That represents a 5% drop from 2014, but one would be deceived to think this means that ‎antisemitism is on the wane in France. ‎
Nearly One in Five Muslims Think There Are ‘Too Many Jews’ in France
Nearly 20 per cent of Muslims living in France think there are too many Jews in the country, a survey by the French Judaism Foundation has discovered.
In an 18-month long Ipsos survey on “living together”, published in Le Journal de Dimanche, researchers interviewed French people from a variety of backgrounds on their views on race and religion.
In results that will likely cause further concern to France’s embattled Jewish community, investigators found that nearly one in five Muslims believe there are “too many Jews” living in the country, while the wider population also seems to be suspicious.
The Jewish population of France is around half a million, compared to just under five million Muslims.
Among the wider French population, 91 per cent said Jews were “very insular”, while just over half said they had “a lot of power”. Meanwhile, one in 10 Jewish respondents said they had been the victim of a physical assault due to their religion.
45% of French Muslims would ‘react negatively’ if daughter married a Jew
A majority of French Muslims said they would “react positively” if their daughter married a Jew, a survey found, while nearly half — 45 percent — said they would “react negatively.”
The results were part of a document comprising three reports published Sunday by the polling firm Ipsos based on opinion polls and interviews conducted over 2014 and 2015 with several partner organizations, including the Foundation of French Judaism.
The data on perceptions about Jews among Muslims came from an online survey conducted among 500 French Muslim adults between Feb. 24 and March 9, 2015. In the survey, 55 percent of respondents said they would “react positively” if their daughter married a Jew, while 45 percent said they would “react negatively.”
France's Jews are Fleeing Paris for London
Sabine Zeitouni remembers when she first realized her family had to leave France. On January 9, 2015, a gunman declaring allegiance to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) killed four Jewish hostages in a kosher supermarket in Paris. Soon after, the French government deployed armed guards to the entrance of the Jewish school that Zeitouni’s children attended in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. The school advised its students to no longer wear yarmulkes outside the classroom.
Zeitouni, 41, told her husband it was time to get out. “We need to go for the future of the children,” she recalls saying. On July 1, they packed their bags and moved to a house in Kensal Rise, a quiet neighborhood in North West London. “In France, it’s difficult for you to show that you are Jewish,” she says. Now her sons, aged 9 and 10, and her 7-year-old daughter, walk home from the North West London Jewish Day School wearing their uniform—which bears the name of the school and a Star of David on the blazer—unafraid that it might provoke an anti-Semitic attack.
Zeitouni and her family are far from being the only French Jews to make the move to London recently. A surge in anti-Semitic incidents in France—which doubled in 2014 and remained at a high level in 2015 (although slightly dropping from the previous year)—has led to a record number of French Jews fleeing the country. In January 2015, gunmen killed 17 people in and around Paris, including at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and that kosher supermarket; 10 months later, coordinated attacks in the French capital left another 130 people dead.
Terror, anti-Semitism and Mideast peace: Israel's Ambassador to France meets euronews

Aaron David Miller: America's awkward Iran dance
The problem with dancing with a bear, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once quipped, is that you can never let go. That uncomfortable reality is one the United States will be fully familiar with right now.
On Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei honored an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps admiral and four others for detaining 10 U.S. sailors last month. The sailors were, of course, quickly released. But Sunday's move underscores just how strained (and strange) U.S.-Iran ties are right now.
In some Republican presidential candidates' eyes, such provocations are cause enough to tear up the nuclear agreement. Indeed, in Thursday's debate, two candidates pledged to do exactly that if elected. But while frustration is understandable, such pledges are basically empty threats.
Why? Because when the next president is inaugurated, implementation will have been underway for more than a year. Already, Iran is doing deals with Russia, Italy, France and China, among others, and nobody is looking for an international crisis right now. The natural inclination once a thing this large has settled is to accept it. And the mentality based on my own diplomatic experience will be to keep it going, not try to sink it.
But while a case can certainly be made that the accord was better than the alternatives -- war or an Iran with a nuke -- implementation day was also no cause for unrestrained celebration, either.
America Makes a U-Turn in the Middle East
The result of this policy is that Iran is allowed to protect its “equities” in Syria, as President Obama put it, while Washington’s former allies are pressured to recognize and come to terms with an Iranian victory in Syria at the negotiating table in Geneva.
If Iran turns out to be a force of peace that brings order and stability to the region, and in the process relieve the United States of that task, saving it the cost of wars in the Middle East, then the president’s gamble will have paid off big time. The thing is, there is no evidence whatsoever that such a scenario is transpiring or will transpire in the future. One is hard pressed to find any precedent for a forced integration of a revolutionary power with hegemonic ambitions in an existing structure, with which it is in direct conflict, and which it explicitly seeks to overturn.
Moreover, Iran’s projection of influence in the region is structurally dependent on destabilizing factors and assets—namely, sectarian militias that dominate weak states with fractured societies. Preserving the bridge for Iran’s presence in the eastern Mediterranean, for example, is predicated on sustaining a minority dictatorship in Syria, whose continuity in turn is based on the permanent subjugation by force of the Sunni Arab majority. And so, protecting Iranian “equities” in Syria means, by definition, the perpetuation of war, continued support to Hezbollah, and a continued flow of refugees into neighboring states and Europe.
Put differently, the people of Syria will continue to die and flee in large numbers. Only with the president’s Iran policy, the United States is now actively cooperating with the actor most responsible for their death and misery.
Why Iran really, truly doesn’t want the bomb… for now
Going nuclear is every country’s dream. Atomic bombs not only bring much prestige but also create deterrence and allow their owners to launch offensives strikes that could annihilate any enemy. That’s why a rogue state like Iran would love nothing more than to get its hands on them. Or at least that’s what conventional wisdom, and many Israeli officials, would have you believe.
“Even after the signing of the nuclear agreement, Iran has not relinquished its aspiration to obtain nuclear weapons,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated earlier this month.
But François Heisbourg, a renowned French expert on nuclear deterrence and proliferation, argues that Tehran is currently not keen on crossing the nuclear threshold, and will likely not even seek to do so even after the nuclear agreement expires in 15 years. Rather, he explained, the regime suffices (and will probably suffice) with what he calls “recessed deterrence.” In addition to avoiding the various headaches that come with operating a military nuclear program, most notably international sanctions, staying clear of the club of nuclear powers gives Iran greater flexibility to wage conventional warfare, Heisbourg argues.
“The Iranians have made their point,” said Heisbourg, who chairs the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. “They have shown that under certain circumstances they could become a nuclear power. That has value in itself. It provides a form of deterrence, which is, ‘Don’t f#ck with me. I am not a nuclear power but I could become one tomorrow, so behave.’ For the time being, this is more than enough for the Iranians.”
John Kerry Will Reform Iran With His Words SUPERcuts

Washington Post Editorial: Kerry’s Passivity on Syria is “Enabling War Crimes”
Despite declarations condemning the atrocities committed by the Iran-backed regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration have been “enabling…war crimes” by “offering nothing but rhetoric,” a Washington Post editorial charged on Wednesday.
The editorial noted that the U.S. and Russia managed to pass United Nations Security Council resolution 2254, which called for an immediate end to sieges and the bombing of civilians in Syria. Yet those atrocities continue: the siege of Madaya by the Iran-backed terrorist militia Hezbollah and forces of the Assad regime has led to over 50 people starving to death.
Despite the Syrian government’s continued defiance of the resolution, Kerry and UN mediator Staffan de Mistura have pressured Syrian opposition groups to attend peace talks. The U.S. and UN have denounced the ongoing atrocities, but have not “taken, proposed or even hinted at any action to force compliance by the regime of Bashar al-Assad or by Russia, which is doing much of the bombing,” the Post argued.
John Kerry calls ISIS 'apostates'
With an unusual choice of language, US Secretary of State John Kerry waded into Islamic theological debate on Tuesday when he branded the Islamic State terror group "apostates."
The United States affords its citizens religious freedom and does not consider apostasy a crime, but Kerry chose the term to rubbish the jihadists' claims of piety.
"Daesh is in fact nothing more than a mixture of killers, of kidnappers, of criminals, of thugs, of adventurers, of smugglers and thieves," he declared using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
"And they are also above all apostates, people who have hijacked a great religion and lie about its real meaning and lie about its purpose and deceive people in order to fight for their purposes."
Some Muslim legal scholars consider the proper punishment for turning one's back on the faith to be death and several majority Islamic countries execute convicted apostates.
Iran army chief: Missile program a threat to our enemies, Israel should know what that means
Iran will continue to develop its missile program and it should not be considered a threat to neighboring and friendly countries, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted the head of the army as saying on Thursday.
Under a deal reached between Iran and six major powers in 2015, most international sanctions imposed on Iran due to its nuclear program were lifted last month. However, sanctions imposed on its missile program were not lifted.
According to a July 20 United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the deal, Iran is still "called upon" to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.
In October, Iran violated a United Nations ban by testing a precision-guided ballistic missile, prompting a US threat to impose more sanctions. In December, President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran's missile program to be expanded.
"Iran's missile capability and its missile program will become stronger. We do not pay attention and do not implement resolutions against Iran, and this is not a violation of the nuclear deal," Fars quoted commander-in-chief Ataollah Salehi as saying.
U.S. Judge Challenges Government’s Effort to Drop Charges Against Iran Sanctions Violator
A United States District Court judge challenged the government’s decision to dismiss charges against an Iranian man accused of sanctions violations, Reuters reported on Monday.
The U.S. government moved to dismiss charges against Alireza Moazami Goudarzi, who allegedly attempted to buy prohibited military equipment on behalf of Iran, as part of a deal that led the Islamic Republic to release five American hostages last month. U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel said in a court order last week that he would deny the dismissal “unless prosecutors could justify the ‘significant foreign policy interests'” that it would result in. Castel argued that the case should not be dropped if it entailed “considerations clearly contrary to the public interest.”
Castel is the only judge who has challenged the government’s requests for dismissal. His order was prompted by Goudarzi’s co-defendant, who complained that he is currently serving a nine-year sentence for the same crime Goudarzi has been accused of. (h/t Alexi)
Leading US Lawmaker Demands Explanation for Timing of $1.7 Billion Payment to Iran, Coinciding With Release of American Hostages
A powerful US lawmaker on Wednesday demanded Secretary of State John Kerry provide an explanation of a $1.7 billion claim settlement paid to Iran just as Tehran released American prisoners last month.
Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote that the timing of the settlement and the administration’s failure to brief Congress “has led some to express concern that the payment represents a de facto ‘ransom’ for the release of American hostages.”
House OKs bill targeting Iran deal; Obama vows to veto
The US House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a Republican-led bill targeting the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran.
Lawmakers voted 246-181 Tuesday to pass the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, ignoring a veto threat from President Barack Obama.
The House first passed the legislation on January 13, even though 137 representatives hadn’t voted.
To placate frustrated members, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy “vacated” the vote — essentially rendering it null and void — and scheduled another one.
The House bill would bar the removal of certain individuals and financial institutions on a restricted list until the president certifies to Congress that they weren’t involved in Iran’s ballistic missiles program or in terrorist activities.
Iran’s nuke chief tipped as contender for Nobel Peace Prize
The head of Iran’s atomic energy agency has been tipped by an analyst as a strong candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize thanks to his work on the nuclear deal with world powers, days after he boasted that the Islamic republic had increased the volume of its nuclear material despite the accord.
Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of Oslo’s Peace Research Institute, said Ali Akbar Salehi, along with US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, were second on his speculative list of candidates for this years award, behind NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. He also mentioned peace negotiators between the Columbian government and FARC rebels as possible candidates, should their talks result in an end to decades of civil war.
Harpviken called Moniz and Salehi “worthy and likely candidates… (who) used their shared background from MIT to reach an agreement in spite of the differences and long-lasting grievances that exist between their respective countries.”
Russia to test new S-500 defenses in 2016
The first prototypes of Russia's next-generation S-500 long range air defense system will reach completion and begin pre-tests in 2016, according to state-run Sputnik News.
The new generation system will be capable of destroying aerial offensive targets, as well intercontinental ballistic missiles and targets near space.
The S-500 "not only combines the best feats of the previous systems, but also offers completely new possibilities in the field of air, missile and space defense," according to Viktor Murakhovski, a member of the advisory council of Russia's Military-Industrial Commission.
The long-range system, manufactured by Moscow-based defense firm Almaz Antey, will have a range of 600 kilometers (more than 370 miles) and could simultaneously intercept up to ten ballistic warheads flying at speeds of up to 23 thousand feet per second. Its missiles will be able to change their trajectory in midflight and may be able to strike targets as high as 115 miles.
By comparison, the S-400 anti-missile system, known to NATO as the SA-21 "Growler," is said to have a maximum range of 250 miles, and can bring down airplanes at up to 90,000 feet (17 miles).
Beattie blasts ALP’s ‘Stalinist’ approach to Israel
Australia: Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie says the Labor Party risks becoming politically irrelevant over its “Stalinist” approach to Israel, which he argues has ­become an obsession.
Mr Beattie described a proposed ban on politicians travelling to Israel on trips funded by Jewish organisations as an “extreme view ... It smacks of single-minded ­obsession with Israel. This is ­becoming an obsession and I don’t think that’s healthy politically...” ...
“Are we going to restrict travel to China ­because of their destruction of Tibet? Or Cuba because they’ve got a terrible human rights record? You could find something in nearly every country around the world.”
In total, 39 motions critical of Israel have been received by the Labor Party before its NSW conference on February 13-14 compared with 17 on all other countries and foreign policy topics, including Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Federal Labor politicians Sam Dastyari and Tony Burke are among those who support the move to ban travel to Israel if the trips have been funded by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council or the Jewish Board of Deputies.
"(This is) taking a hardline, Stalinist type of approach, which is how I see this,” Mr Beattie said. “If we take a position which is counter-productive to a resolution of the conflict then we are in a sense becoming politically irrelevant...."
SPME BDS Monitor: Strong Organizational Support Is Needed to Fight Boycott Movement
Individual European countries continue to publicly oppose Israel boycotts. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, for example, stated at a meeting with Jewish leaders that “French authorities must change their attitude” towards BDS protests. He added “It is perfectly obvious how we have shifted from criticism of Israel to anti-Zionism and from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism.” Shortly after this, however, France announced it was organizing a renewed round of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and that in the event of their failure, it would officially recognize Palestine.
The contrast, however nominal, between opposition to labeling and Israel boycotts by individual European countries and the continued push by EU points to the power of unelected anti-Israel bureaucrats within the latter.
In another political development, the United Methodist Church removed five Israeli banks from its investment portfolio and sold small quantities of stock in Israeli corporations. The move came as part of what was claimed to be a reevaluation of the church’s investments in countries or regions with “a prolonged and systematic pattern of human rights abuses.”
Finally, the group Human Rights Watch issued a report condemning Israeli communities and enterprises in the West Bank. The report describes Israeli enterprises, including employment of Palestinians, as abusive, illegal and and detrimental to the Palestinian economy. It calls for business to “stop operating in, financing, servicing, or trading with Israeli settlements in order to comply with their human rights responsibilities.” The organization’s hostility towards Israel is well-documented and long-standing, and the timing of the report appears intended to buttress the European and now US labeling regulations.
An Open Letter to Vassar on Antisemitic Policies and Double Standards
To the American Studies Steering Committee,
I write to express my deep and continuing frustration, sadness, and disgust over the continued willingness of Vassar faculty to sponsor hate speech when it comes to the Jewish State. Almost two years ago, several Vassar departments and programs co-sponsored two well-known antisemites, Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal — the latter of whom was banned from the German parliament for his antisemitic activities. Now we learn that American Studies is sponsoring Professor Jasbir Puar, a supporter of BDS and one of the luminaries who pushes the “pinkwashing” theory — that Israel cynically pretends to respect gay rights in order to distract from its alleged abuses of Palestinians.
The description of Puar’s upcoming talk indicates that she will be spewing the vitriol that Gaza is an “experimental laboratory for the Israeli military apparatuses, infrastructural chaos and metric manipulation,” and that she will be inviting her audience to imagine what types of Israeli “fantasies” about “power, about bodies, about resistance, about politics” might be driving the Israelis. Just substitute the word “Jew” for “Israeli” and you could certainly be excused for thinking this was lifted straight out of Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda paper that regularly portrayed Jews as filthy manipulators driven by a mad lust for power, intent on destroying the German nation.
Globe and Mail Reporter Unfairly Singles Out Israel
This anti-Israel trend continued on January 23 with a report by Patrick Martin, a Global Affairs reporter at the Globe and this publication’s former Mideast bureau chief.
The article entitled “Ottawa brings fresh vibe to festering age-old issues in Middle East” saw Martin claim that: “In lawless Libya, the country is at risk of falling completely to radical jihadists, and in Israel, support for which was the keystone of the Harper government’s Middle East policy, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu continues to expropriate land in the occupied West Bank for Israeli settlement, jeopardizing a two-state solution to the 67-year-old Palestinian conflict.”
In making this statement, Martin singled out Israel alone, specifically its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for supposedly “jeopardizing a two-state solution to the 67-year-old Palestinian conflict”. According to Martin, the main and exclusive obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians is due to Israel’s continuing “to expropriate land in the occupied West Bank for Israeli settlement”. Of course, there are many impediments to Mideast peacemaking, but Martin has done a disservice to the truth and to Globe readers by not acknowledging them. For example, continued Palestinian terror, incitement, rejectionism and unilateralism are seen as major impediments by the Israelis and others in the international community. As well, the divide between the Hamas terror group in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the west bank are seen as major stumbling blocks as the Palestinians don’t speak in a unified voice, nor do they have “one gun and one authority” over defined territory. To single out Israel for condemnation and to not acknowledge other efforts by the Palestinians which have “jeopardized” the two-state solution is unfair, lacks balance, and has mislead Globe readers.
BBC News promotes ‘one-state’ stepping stone and political messaging
Regular consumers of BBC content are of course used to seeing the BBC frequently fail to meet its own editorial guidelines on impartiality by refraining from informing them of the existence of legal opinions which contradict its own adopted political stance on “the settlements”.
Now we see a new addition to the BBC’s repertoire of politically partisan messaging; promotion of the inaccurate claim that “a Palestinian right of return” is endorsed by the 1948 UN GA resolution 194 – which was opposed by Arab states at the time and in fact includes one clause pertaining to refugees in general but does not include the word “Palestinian” or guarantee an unconditional ‘right of return’.
As long as BBC reports continue to include unqualified promotion of Palestinian talking points, the corporation should not of course be surprised that its impartiality is so frequently called into question.
CST: 2015 was third worst year for antisemitism in UK
Interestingly, CST notes that while 2014’s record high of 1,179 incidents were largely “caused by antisemitic reactions to Israel’s war with Hamas, and “the second-highest total of 931 incidents came in 2009”, also a year when there was a war in Israel and Gaza, there was no similar ‘trigger event’ in 2015 to explain the high annual total.
You can read CST’s summary of their report, here.
The full PDF report is here.
Jewish-owned Seattle business targeted with swastikas
Swastikas were painted on the front of a Jewish-owned business in Seattle, Washington.
It was the second incident in the last six months at Sleepers in Seattle, which has been located in The Junction business district for 25 years, according to local reports.
The swastikas were discovered on the sidewalk in front of the store when it opened Tuesday morning.
The owners told that they feel targeted because they are the only Jewish-owned business on the street.
Israel to become official member of UN Committee on Space Affairs
The UN Office of Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has invited the Israel Space Agency to cooperate on civilian space matters, the Science, Technology and Space Ministry announced on Wednesday.
The signature on the accord was part of Israel Space Week observances and carried out by UNOOSA head Prof. Simonetta Di Pippo and ISA director Menahem Kidron.
Israel will thus become an official member of the UN Committee on Space Affairs, and its experts in the field will be able to participate in subcommittees and in innovative projects that have global influence. Among the specific fields are using satellites to deal with catastrophes in real time to help rescue teams.
Daniel Brook, an ISA adviser on international cooperation, said the signing “constitutes an additional milestone in strengthening ties between Israel and UNOOSA. Israel will be able to contribute more of our knowhow and abilities for peace and pave the way for expanding international cooperation in space. We will be in the small circle of countries that influence world priorities in the field.”
Jewish jokes dominate in New York mag’s top 100
New York Magazine’s culture section, Vulture, this week published a mega-listicle, “The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy.” With the help of comedians and historians of comedy, the magazine’s editors picked the most important jokes ever uttered — from Charlie Chaplin making dinner rolls dance to Louis C.K. dissing his daughter.
And Jews dominate the list.
Jews make up just 2 percent of the U.S. population, but the chosen people had a hand in no fewer than 50 of Vulture’s 100 jokes, according to a JTA count. Beyond the numbers, Jews have remained a consistent comedic force, showing up in every decade: Vaudeville in the teens and 20s, the Marx Brothers in the 30s, the Borscht Belt in the 40s and so on — all the way up to Jerry Seinfeld, John Stewart, Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer. (Though Adam Sandler, who ruled the ’90s, somehow didn’t make the list.)
Most of the jokes are Jewish by virtue of who wrote or performed them. But some explicitly reference Judaism and the traits associated with it — from Yiddish accents to circumcision.

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