Saturday, February 27, 2016

From Ian:

SFSU’s Deafening Silence on Partnership with Palestinian University
According to Matthew Levitt, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, An-Najah is known for “terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and radicalization of students,” particularly those associated with the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc. Likewise, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) notes that An-Najah’s student council “glorifies suicide bombings and propagandizes for jihad against Israel.” An-Najah put off its 2015 student elections indefinitely for fear of a Hamas victory.
An-Najah’s June 2014 graduation ceremony featured banners paying tribute to Hamas leaders and graduates posing for a picture, holding up three fingers to represent three Israeli teens kidnapped by Hamas, the terrorist act that ignited the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. An-Najah students are notorious for having constructed a gruesome replica of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria Jerusalem suicide bombing.
While Abdulhadi’s allusion to steering these radical students away from violence and towards democratic activism may be admirable, the fact remains that a student exchange program with this university could pose a significant security risk. And Abdulhadi doesn’t plan to stop there. In a 2014 interview, she pledged to further such collaboration:
[I]t’s not going to be exclusive to two Palestinian universities; we plan to connect with other universities in Palestine and elsewhere in the Arab world as well as in Muslim majority countries.
When asked by email to confirm the MOU with An-Najah and to comment on potential security concerns, SFSU President Leslie Wong did not respond. Indeed, SFSU has remained remarkably quiet on the subject, other than defending Abdulhadi from allegations of improper use of university funds with a controversial 2014 “Academic and Labor Delegation to Palestine” for the purpose of meeting with An-Najah and Bir Zeit representatives to cultivate the MOU (and, in the process, individuals affiliated with U.S. State Department-designated terrorist organizations).
If, as Abdulhadi boasts, the alliance with An-Najah is such an impressive accomplishment, what accounts for SFSU’s reticence? Could it be that President Wong is less than eager to publicize SFSU’s relationship with a Palestinian university that is a hotbed of radicalization, particularly given SFSU’s own troubled history of anti-Israel extremism? In a matter of this gravity, silence from SFSU’s administration is not an option.
Top Dems Outraged Over Obama Efforts to Ignore Pro-Israel Provisions
Leading Democrats are taking aim at the Obama administration for its opposition to newly passed legislation that aims to bolster the U.S.-Israel economic relationship and combat boycotts of Israel, according to a statement issued this week.
The Obama administration announced that it opposes portions of a bipartisan trade bill that would strengthen economic ties between the U.S. and Israel and force trade partners to sever ties with backers of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, an anti-Israel movement that seeks to economically isolate the Jewish state.
President Barack Obama issued a rare statement opposing the bill’s pro-Israel language this week, claiming that it sought to legitimize Israeli settlements. Obama stated that he would not enforce the pro-Israel provisions as a result of his personal disagreement with the policies.
The statement prompted top Democrats to break with the president.
The fracture between these Democrats and the administration comes amid White House support for efforts to label Jewish-made goods produced in disputed areas of Israel. These efforts have been described as anti-Semitic by Israel’s government.
“While the Obama Administration has reiterated its opposition to boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, it has mischaracterized the TPA and Customs bill provisions as making a U.S. policy statement about Israeli settlements,” Sens. Harry Reid (D., Nev.), Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) said in a joint statement released Thursday.
The senators accused the Obama administration of lying about the pro-Israel bill and pushing a false narrative in efforts to oppose it.
Speaker Ryan: Congress Will Fight Obama Efforts to Ignore Pro-Israel Law
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) told the Washington Free Beacon on Friday that Congress will fight against an Obama administration decision to not enforce portions of a new bill aimed at strengthening the U.S.-Israel economic relationship and combating boycotts on the Jewish state.
Ryan’s statement comes in response to a White House effort to waive portions of a new bipartisan trade bill that would boost U.S.-Israel economic ties and fight against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to economically isolate Israel.
Top Democrats recently broke with the White House’s position on the bill, accusing it of lying about its pro-Israel provisions. These Democrats—including Sens. Harry Reid (Nev.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.)—demanded that the president follow the law as Congress wrote it.
Ryan agreed with his colleagues across the aisle, telling the Free Beacon that congressional leaders will use their oversight authority to ensure that the pro-Israel measures are upheld.

Remembering Ilan Halimi, 10 Years Later: Jewish Lives Matter
In his preface to a recent publication from Fathom, a British magazine covering the Middle East, British lawyer and antisemitism expert Anthony Julius — always the author of a memorable phrase — denounced “anti-Zionism and its creature, the BDS movement,” as “one of the major political stupidities of our time.”
The import of Julius’s comment struck me as I was reflecting on the terrible fate of Ilan Halimi, the young French Jew who 10 years ago was kidnapped for ransom by a largely Muslim gang. Halimi spent nearly a month in the custody of these “barbarians” — that was what they called themselves — during which time they beat him, burned him and tortured him. Halimi was left for dead by a railway track outside Paris on Feb. 13, 2006, and indeed, he did die of his wounds just a few hours after being discovered.
In the tumult that followed the murder, it emerged that Youssef Fofana, the gang leader, had targeted Halimi because he was a Jew, and Jews have money. It was a brutal demonstration to a skeptical French public that antisemitism within the Muslim community — often fueled by savage attacks on Israel’s right to exist and dark mutterings about the political influence of its Jewish supporters — is all too real.
Speaking at the recent 10th anniversary commemorating Halimi’s murder, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazneuve confessed, “Ten years after the murder we still feel this collective regret of hesitating to call the act by its true name — antisemitic hate.’’
That hate is also, as Anthony Julius might acknowledge, a monstrous form of political stupidity. Despite being one of the discredited ideologies that grounded totalitarianism in the last century, antisemitism has persisted into this one. Its followers have regrouped under the banner of the elimination not just of Israel, but of the empathy and affiliation with Israel that most Diaspora Jews feel towards it.
Attempting shooting attack near Maalei Adumim
Two Palestinian terrorists attempted a drive-by shooting on an Israeli car near Maalei Adumim, east of Jerusalem, late Saturday.
For reasons as yet unknown the terrorists were prevented from opening fire, and fled the scene.
No one was injured in the incident.
Security forces are currently staging an extensive manhunt for the pair.
The terrorists fled in the direction of Jerusalem, prompting police to erect checkpoints along all routes into the capital.
Palestinian teen killed in Friday attack bid ‘had US citizenship’
A Palestinian teenager who was shot dead Friday afternoon as he tried to stab IDF soldiers in the West Bank had American citizenship, Palestinian sources said.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry named the 17-year-old as Mahmoud Muhammad Shaalan, a resident of the village of Deir Daboun, north of Ramallah, the Hebrew-language Haaretz daily reported.
The youth was shot dead as he pulled a knife on troops at a checkpoint close to the Beit El settlement, also in the Ramallah area. There were no other casualties in the incident.
In the wake of the attempted attack, security forces launched a search of the area of the fence around Beit El in order to rule out an infiltration into the settlement.
Manhunt ends as Gazans who crossed into Israel caught
Security forces located and arrested three unarmed Palestinians who illegally crossed the Gaza Strip border fence into Israeli territory Saturday.
Residents of the Eshkol Region were previously instructed to stay indoors, Channel 10 reported, while the IDF combed the area for the infiltrators.
The manhunt was launched after a possible breach was reported at the Gaza Strip security fence. The three Palestinians were taken into a nearby security facility for questioning.
They told investigators they were looking for food.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Authority rejects Iranian offer to 'trade in the suffering' of Palestinians
The Palestinian Authority on Friday rejected Iran's offer to pay families of Palestinian "martyrs" and those whose houses were demolished by the IDF.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA president's office, said that the Palestinian leadership was unaware of the Iranian decision.
He said that the PA "rejects any attempt to bypass it and insists that the PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinians."
Abu Rudaineh said that the PLO was the "only address for the Palestinian people." The PLO would not hesitate to provide aid and ease the suffering of the Palestinians despite its limited capabilities, he added.
The PA spokesman said the Palestinian leadership rejects the Iranian "trade in the suffering" of the Palestinians.
Hamas chief: Israel, PA powerless to stop ‘intifada’
The head of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, declared Friday that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are powerless to stop the ongoing surge in violence that he said was an “intifada,” or violent uprising.
“The intifada will continue and will become the greatest strategic turning point in the history of the Palestinian struggle,” Haniyeh said at an anti-Israel rally in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, according to Channel 2 television.
“Nothing will be able to stop this intifada,” he asserted. “Not the occupying enemy and nor its security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority,” he said referring to long-standing joint defense initiatives between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
During the rally, fighters from Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, staged a mock attack on Israeli settlers with an assault rifles. Masked Qassam fighters also staged a suicide bombing of an Israeli bus in front of the crowd.
Opposition MK gives strongest hint Israel behind Kuntar assassination
An Israeli lawmaker from the opposition publicly stated on Saturday what many believe to be true though has yet to be officially confirmed by the government – Israel is behind the killing of Hezbollah operative Samir Kuntar.
During a town hall meeting in Beersheba on Saturday, Zionist Union MK Omer Bar-Lev was asked about the Lebanese Shi'ite group and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in the wake of recent threats to attack chemical facilities in Haifa.
"I would not recommend to Nasrallah that he leave his bunker," the lawmaker, a former commander of the elite reconnaissance commando unit Sayeret Matkal, said. "Why? Because he's an enemy, and he's a target He needs to be a target, so on a personal level I would advise him to look after himself."
When the moderator of the discussion asked if Nasrallah would be targeted "at the earliest possible opportunity, just like Samir Kuntar," Bar-Lev tried to dance around the subject.
"I certainly do not want to make operational statements of the kind," Bar-Lev said.
Moments later, Bar-Lev was asked if the Kuntar killing could be considered "a tremendous success for Israel."
"Yes, certainly," the lawmaker replied.
Kuntar was killed this past December when a number of rockets hit a building in the Damascus district of Jaramana in the early morning hours.
Death of Palestinian terrorist is ‘happy day’ for sister of Israeli he murdered
The sister of an Israeli student who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem’s Old City 30 years ago said the mysterious death of one of his killers marked the “closing of a circle” and “a happy day for me.”
Fugitive Palestinian terrorist Omar Nayef Zayed, 51, was found dying in the yard of the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia on Friday morning. Bulgarian radio reported that he had fallen from the fourth floor of the embassy. He died later in the hospital. Some Palestinian groups claimed Israel killed him, an accusation that Jerusalem denied.
In 1986 Zayed was convicted in the murder of yeshiva student Eliyahu Amedi — whom he stabbed to death in Jerusalem’s Old City — along with two other Palestinian assailants. He was sentenced to life in prison. Four years after beginning his sentence, Zayed began a hunger strike and was moved to a Bethlehem hospital facility, from which he escaped. He fled to Bulgaria in 1994 and married a local woman with whom he had three children. Israel had recently been seeking his extradition.
In an Israeli Channel 2 interview, Amedi’s sister, Yafah Pinhasi, said the death of Zayed marked the “closing of a circle,” and that she was pleased “there is one less murderer walking around free.” She said dryly that “it wasn’t the hand of God that threw him down” from a high floor of the embassy building, but did not speculate on who might have killed him.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Bulgaria says no gunshot wounds on body of dead Palestinian fugitive
Bulgarian authorities investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a Palestinian fugitive wanted by Israel said on Saturday that there were no signs of gunshots on his body.
Omar Nayef Zayed, a Palestinian fugitive who had taken refuge at the Palestinian Authority's embassy in Sofia, has been found dead at the PA's embassy in the Bulgarian capital on Thursday.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered an investigation into what he called Zayed's assassination.
Zayed, 52, escaped from Israeli custody over 25 years ago after being convicted of murdering an Israeli yeshiva student in 1986.
Last month it was reported that Zayed had been given 72 hours to turn himself in for extradition to Israel or face arrest.
Israel denies reports it okayed Gaza seaport in talks with Turkey
The top Israeli official in charge of liaising between the government and the Palestinian territories told a Saudi news site on Friday that there are no discussions between Jerusalem and Ankara on the building of a seaport in the Gaza Strip.
Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), told Elaph that reports quoting Hamas and Turkish officials to the effect that Israel had agreed to the building of a Gaza seaport were false.
Mordechai said that if and when Israel did agree to the construction and operation of a seaport in Gaza, it would only be as part of understandings reached with the Palestinian Authority.
Dichter: Seaport in Hamas hands is bigger threat than tunnels
Building a sea port in the Gaza Strip would constitute a greater threat to Israel than the tunnel network the IDF sought to destroy in its 2014 war with the Hamas terror group, Likud MK Avi Dichter warned Saturday.
“Tunnels may even be preferable, since the merchandise passing through [them] can be monitored more thoroughly than one can check goods coming in through a seaport,” Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet security service, told a cultural event in Yahud.
Last month media outlets said Hamas has succeeded in rebuilding its tunnel network almost to pre-war levels.
As the international community scrambled to forge a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in summer 2014, the group demanded the construction of a seaport as a condition to ending the fighting. Israel has avoided committing to the construction of such a port, and has maintained a blockade on Gaza designed to prevent Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, from importing weapons.
Newly Published Anti-IS ‘Manual’ Pits Gaza Islamists Against Each Other
An Islamic group in Gaza raised the ire of Islamic State supporters after it published a manual entitled The Suspicious Story of IS and Ways to Deal With It.
The publication, written by the Islamic theologian Imad Addin Khiti and disseminated by a group calling itself The Sunna People – The Prophet’s Supporters, Loyalists, and Friends, was called defamatory and blasphemous by IS.
IS supporters accused the Sunna People of promoting a Shi’ite agenda, saying that the booklet “praises Iran and the Syrian regime while denigrating jihadi warriors in Syria and Iraq and questioning the concept of jihad.”
“Behold the levels of infidelity some people can reach,” wrote Dr Suliman Kahlut, a Gaza physician and IS supporter. “Gaza is coping with soaring rates of suicide, a testament of the advent of poverty and economic distress, and some people use foreign aid money to spread this divisive message instead of caring for the poor who were abandoned by the government and aid organizations.”
Harvard’s Steven Pinker Opposes Israel Boycott as Anthropologists Prepare for Upcoming Vote
A well-known Harvard psychologist again voiced his opposition to academic boycotts of Israel Wednesday, as two groups of anthropologists geared up campaigns to defeat the boycott resolution before the American Anthropological Association (AAA), to be voted on beginning April 15.
Steven Pinker, psychologist and best-selling author, who previously spoke out when Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) banned the use of Israeli SodaStream water systems, released a statement entitled “Against Selective Demonization,” writing,
[Are Israel’s] policies really so atrocious, so beyond the pale of acceptable behavior of nation-states, that they call for a unique symbolic statement that abrogates personal fairness and academic freedom? It helps to put the Israel-Palestine conflict in global and historical perspective—something that anthropologists, of all people, might be expected to do … Why no boycotts against academics from China, India, Russia, or Pakistan, to take a few examples, which have also been embroiled in occupations and violent conflicts, and which, unlike Israel, face no existential threat or enemies with genocidal statements in their charters? In a world of repressive governments and ongoing conflicts, isn’t there something unsavory about singling the citizens of one of these countries for unique vilification and punishment?
Pinker’s statement was published on the website of one of the two groups of anthropologists campaigning against the AAA’s boycott resolution.
Roseanne to attend anti-BDS conference in Israel
American Jewish comedian Roseanne Barr will participate in a March 28 conference in Jerusalem about fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement.
Barr was invited to the conference, which is sponsored by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, because of her involvement with the pro-Israel group StandWithUs.
“I am proud to stand with Israel during the week of Purim,” Barr said Thursday, according to a report in Ynet. “This is the holiday where Esther mobilized the Jewish community, and because of her strong and unifying stance, she succeeded in overturning the brutal decree to destroy us.
Barr, who starred in the long-running sitcom “Roseanne,” will tour the country for two weeks prior to the conference and will be accompanied by her mother.
The comedian, who frequently posts on Twitter, is an outspoken critic of the pro-Palestinian left and BDS. She has even called Jews who support BDS “anti-Semites” and recently retweeted a post from JTA’s partner website Jewniverse noting that the Bataclan, the Paris nightclub where at least 130 people were killed in a recent attack, was named for a 19th-century Jewish operetta.
Roseanne Barr in Oakland: The Selective Outrage of the Morally bankrupt Part 2
Interestingly enough, this call for "civility" was penned by Jim Harris, a local anti-Israel activist with a history of some very uncivil behavior. He's a self proclaimed member of the International Solidarity Movement, which prides itself on providing human shields for terror groups. He organized a protest at a local AIPAC dinner that spiraled out of control, leading to 7 arrests.
And, yes, the same Jim Harris who cries crocodile tears over "hateful words sure to incite bigotry" had no crisis of conscience when he attended a talk at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists featuring notorious holocaust denier and antisemite Gilad Atzmon.
As of now, Jim Harris's petition is signed by people from such diverse locales as Queen Charlotte, Canada and Lupsingen, Switzerland. Not a single congregant from Beth Abraham has signed it.
Just another example of the selective moral outrage of the anti-Israel community.
Oberlin Gives Hesitant Response as Controversy Mounts Over Anti-Semitism, 9/11 Trutherism
The conspiracy theories surrounding Jews and Israel espoused by Oberlin College Professor Joy Karega, first reported on Thursday by The Tower, have prompted a tepid response from the school, despite mounting controversy.
In a statement initially published on an alumni Facebook page and later communicated to The Tower, Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov wrote:
Oberlin College respects the rights of its faculty, students, staff and alumni to express their personal views. Acknowledgement of this right does not signal institutional support for, or endorsement of, any specific position. The statements posted on social media by Dr. Joy Karega, assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, are hers alone and do not represent the views of Oberlin College.
The response, which disassociated Oberlin from Karega’s postings, failed to address the offensiveness of her conspiracies, prompting Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz to tell The Tower, “If Karega had expressed comparably bigoted views about Blacks, Muslims or gays, the President of Oberlin would not have posted the boilerplate he posted. He would have condemned those views, even if he defended her right to express them.”
According to one alumna of the school who contacted The Tower, “President Krislov’s response shows that the Oberlin administration simply does not care about virulent anti-semitism on its own campus. Although I haven’t been a student there for many years, it is still deeply hurtful to see how little the administration cares about its Jewish students.”
A group of alumni wrote an open letter to Krislov and Oberlin’s administration earlier this year, calling on the college to address “the continued intimidation of Jewish students and the many other forms of anti-Semitism occurring on campus.”
Vienna mayor wants BDS events canceled in city-funded building
The city of Vienna seeks to pull the plug on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) events in early March in a municipal-funded building, a spokesperson for the mayor told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
“We would like a cancellation," said the spokesman, Martin Ritzmaier, when asked about the BDS activities in the city-subsidized Amerlinghaus building.
He added that the city of Vienna has contacted the management of the Amerlinghaus cultural center to urge a cancellation of the BDS activities.
“The city of Vienna rejects boycott calls against the State of Israel and the association BDS-Austria receives no funding from the city of Vienna,” said Ritzmaier. Vienna’s mayor is the Social Democrat Michael Häupl.
According to a 2014 report in the newspaper, the Amerlinghaus received 113,000 euros ($123,429) from the city of Vienna.
Vienna's Jewish community, which has over 7,000 members, has banded together with a coalition of civil society groups fighting anti-Semitism that are slated to hold a rally against BDS-Austria events in March. The rally is titled “Against the anti-Semitic masquerade of ‘Israeli Apartheid Week.”’ The group’s website is titled “Boycott anti-Semitism.”
The organizers of the rally said that BDS Austria aims to “delegitimize the Jewish state.”
BBC Radio 4 provides a stage for anti-Israel activist’s agitprop and defamation
And in addition to all that, listeners also heard promotion of the BDS campaign – once again without their being told what that campaign really seeks to bring about.
So what efforts were made by presenter Ritula Shah to counter the inaccurate and misleading information promoted by her interviewee? Her first interjection – as usual – failed to meet BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality.
“You can object to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, to settlements that are defined as illegal under international law, but that’s not the same as an apartheid state. That’s a very serious and particular accusation to be levelling.”
No serious attempt was made by Shah to challenge the specific lies and inaccuracies promoted by Loach and she confined herself to generalized “there are those who would say” statements on Israeli Arab citizens, Israeli democracy and the lack of justification for boycotts. The second half of the item included an interview with a representative from the Israeli Government Tourist Office which was presumably intended to tick the impartiality box and will no doubt be cited in response to any complaints about this item.
Significantly though, no substantial effort was made to relieve Radio 4 audiences of the multiple inaccurate impressions they received from listening to Ken Loach’s vulgar agitprop and the real issue with this item is that despite its various nods to ‘impartiality’, the programme’s producers must have known in advance that the defamatory messaging in Loach’s three and a half minutes of unchallenged propaganda was exactly what listeners were going to take away from this item.

LISTEN: Police Drop Investigation Into Vile Anti-Semitic BBC Radio Caller
A caller who spouted sickening anti-Semitic hatred for 13 minutes during a live BBC radio phone-in, telling listeners that the UK and corporate America were “ruled by Zionist Jews”, will not be prosecuted, the Metropolitan Police have confirmed.
As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, the man, who identified himself as “Andy from St. Margaret’s,” reached BBC Radio London host Simon Lederman in December and ranted against “Zionist Jews” and “the Rothschilds” controlling global industries such as finance and media.
Repeatedly challenged by Lederman, who is Jewish, the man claimed the UK was “ruled by Zionist Jews,” saying: “We are dominated by the Jews’ system, the financial Jewish system.”
He added: “The Rothschilds, the people who own the Bank of England, the people who own the Federal Reserve, they’re all Zionist Jews. They control the money, the money, finance… 80 percent of corporate America, of the media, is owned by Jews. And they’re Zionist Jews.”
ABC TV’s Quantico Melodrama Demonizes Israel With Falsehoods
Often there's a fine line between a fictional work that takes essentially benign liberties with the truth and one that contains potentially harmful propaganda. ABC's Quantico series crosses the line. Thus far in this series that began on Sept. 27, 2015, only one foreign country, Israel, has been defamed. Since inevitably some viewers will grant authenticity to false assertions in a fictional drama if it is slickly produced and staged, what Quantico says matters.
ABC describes the premise of the melodrama as: “A diverse group of recruits has arrived at the FBI Quantico Base for training. They are the best, the brightest and the most vetted, so it seems impossible that one of them is suspected of masterminding the biggest attack on New York City since 9/11.”
That's politically thrilling. But an odious message, in highly charged verbiage – with big lies about Israel – emerges from the drama's mishmash of recurring flashbacks and flashforwards. In this supposedly ripped-from-the-headlines work from executive producer and series creator, Josh Safran, the script calls for one or more terrorists to be embedded among the recruits. The drama's cast of several diverse characters includes two Muslims and two Jews. So, who turns out initially to be the terrorists? Of course it's the two Jews. The cast of characters engages with each other in an increasingly volatile environment involving paranoia and distrust. FBI Academy recruit Simon Asher (a Jewish character played by Tate Ellington) is a conflicted individual who has struggled mightily with his conscience. Initially bragging to a fellow recruit about his exploits in the Gaza Strip as a do-gooder, Asher eventually confesses to being haunted by his evil acts there as an Israeli soldier while following orders (thus suggesting the image of post-war Nazis excusing their crimes on the grounds they were just obeying orders). Asher is confronted with the specter of his and Israel's (alleged) crimes by recruit Nimah Amin (a Muslim character played by Yasmine al-Massri a Lebanese actress of Palestinian Arab descent).

Syrian migrant who registered as an asylum seeker in Sweden is arrested on suspicion of committing war crimes for Assad
A Syrian asylum-seeker has been arrested in Sweden after being accused of war crimes in his home country.
Mohamad Abdullah, 31, allegedly fought for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad before fleeing the country and travelling to Scandinavia.
Abdullah appeared in court in Stockholm on Thursday, admitting to being a member of the Syrian regime, but denies fighting for the government.
Abdullah arrived in Sweden in July 2015 and applied for asylum in the country, which has offered all Syrian refugees a right to stay in the wake of the civil was that has gripped the country for five years.
The case against Abdullah was based on photographs and other information that appeared on social media, Reena Devgun, a prosecutor with the Swedish International Public Prosecution Office said.
She would not elaborate on the alleged crime but said it was believed to have been committed between March 2012 and July 2015.
John Kerry Needs 'Additional Evaluation' to Call Islamic State Crimes 'Genocide'
Secretary of State John Kerry said this week he is seeking more evidence against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) to label their crimes genocide.
“I will make a decision on it as soon as I have that additional evaluation and we will proceed forward from there,” Kerry told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State and Foreign Assistance.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) has sponsored a resolution to declare Islamic State crimes as genocide.
Iran executes men of entire village for drug smuggling
Iran executed the entire male population of a village for drug trafficking, a senior Iranian cabinet minister said.
In a Persian-language interview with the semi-official Mehr news agency published Tuesday, Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi didn’t mention the name of the village, or elaborate on when the executions were carried out — or whether they happened all at once or spread over time.
“We have a village in Sistan and Baluchistan province where every single man has been executed,” she said, according to a translation of her remarks by The Guardian.
She warned that as a result, violence there could increase. “Their children are potential drug traffickers as they would want to seek revenge and provide money for their families. There is no support for these people.”
Saudi man gets 10 years, 2,000 lashes for tweeting atheism
A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing his atheism in hundreds of Twitter posts.
Al-Watan online daily said Saturday that religious police in charge of monitoring social networks found more than 600 tweets denying the existence of God, ridiculing Quranic verses, accusing all prophets of lies and saying their teachings fueled hostilities.
It says the 28-year-old man admitted to being an atheist and refused to repent, saying that what he wrote reflected his own beliefs and that he had the right to express them. The report did not name the man.
NYPD cops hurt while investigating anti-Semitic hate crime
A man suspected of anti-Semitic hate crimes injured two New York police detectives who came to his home to search it.
Oliver Vukicevic, 26, lightly injured the two New York Police Department detectives Wednesday at his East Harlem apartment, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.
The Anti-Defamation League thanked the detectives from NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force. They had come there with a search warrant because of complaints that Vukicevic delivered anti-Semitic letters and placed swastikas on the doors of his Jewish neighbors.
According to reports, Vukicevic attacked detectives with a kitchen knife and injured both of them, one in the head.
Why Israel is a pilgrimage site for birds — and bird-watchers
Thousands of cranes sit in pairs in a field here, their outlines approaching the horizon. Then, all at once, they take flight, a cloud of black-and-white feathers filling the sky.
Shai Agmon isn’t interested in most of these. All he cares about is one pair near the front, slightly shorter than the rest. Most of the birds are common cranes, but these two are demoiselle cranes — a rare find in these parts.
“They can’t sleep in the desert and can’t stop in southern Israel,” said Agmon, director of the Hula Valley Avian Research Center for Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael-Jewish National Fund, which manages the valley’s bird-watching park. “Here they have food and a safe place to rest.”
With 300 bird species passing through each year, the Hula Valley in northern Israel is one of the prime bird-watching spots in a country that has gained a reputation as a mecca for bird-watchers. With a location at the nexus of three continents, and a climatic diversity that ranges from arid desert in the south to a cooler mountainous region in the north, Israel draws about 500 million birds annually from 550 species. The entire continent of North America, which is 1,000 times Israel’s size, sees barely twice as many species.
Israel’s unique geographic features — it is also one of the last green spots before the adjacent Sinai and Sahara deserts — has also made it a destination not only for birds but for people who live for the thrill of identifying a rare species perched on a branch or lake.
5 incredible Jewish stories behind this year’s Oscars
From Jennifer Jason Leigh’s ‘Hateful Eight’ comeback to ‘Room’ director Lenny Abrahamson and ‘Son of Saul’ star Geza Rohrig, Sunday’s ceremony is set to be quite a kosher affair
It’s the biggest night of the year in Hollywood, so it’s not surprising that Jews are typically well-represented among the annual list of Oscar nominations. But this year, in the absence a major Jewish-themed film, the Jewiness of this year’s Oscars is of the quieter sort.
As it happens, several Oscar-nominated films have unusually triumphant, behind-the-scenes Jewish stories worth celebrating. Below, we give you five of the best “secret” Jewish stories behind the 88th Academy Awards.
Actor Sacha Baron Cohen Talks About Jewish Influence on His Comedic Career, Playing Hasidic Jews With His Brother
Jewish actor Sacha Baron Cohen started writing comedic sketches as a young boy and would put on Jewish-themed shows at old age homes with his brother, the Borat star said on Monday.
While appearing on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, Cohen recalled writing his first sketch at the age of 9 for a Jewish youth club he was involved in. He said, “they would do final performances, and final parties, and I would write a little sketch, and I’d get sort of excited about it.”
The Brothers Grimsby star said that in his teens he started doing a “little routine” at Jewish old age homes with his brother, who was a musician. The duo called themselves ‘The Schvitzing Brothers,’ based on the sketch they performed.
“I was about 16. We would dress as Hasidic Jews, and sing Jewish songs,” Cohen said. “One of the songs was this song called Schvitzing, which was about how the Hasidic Jews get so hot that they end up shaving their beards, and taking their clothes off, and actually converting to Christianity at the end. It would go down terribly.”
“Please, take the money, and never come back here again,” Cohen said he was told . He added, “Eventually, I got seen doing that [sketch] and I got hired by the Paramount comedy channel to do Bruno, actually.”

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