Thursday, May 19, 2016

From Ian:

The Top Five Most Hilarious Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories
Last week, the British Labour party suspended Musabbir Ali, a former campaign official, for making anti-Semitic statements on social media. He joined an ignominious cast of characters punished for similar offenses, including a former mayor of London and a current parliament member. But Ali distinguished himself with his particularly creative brand of anti-Semitism.
On Twitter, among other bigoted bromides, he shared a link to a post claiming that the Jews had “financed Oliver Cromwell’s overthrowing and beheading of Stuart King Charles I after he refused them control of England’s finances.” This extraordinary assertion overlooked one minor detail: Jews were expelled from England in 1290 and could not legally return until 1657, years after Cromwell came to power.
Ali’s ahistorical absurdity highlighted an underappreciated aspect of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories: In addition to being hateful and ignorant, they are often hilarious.
In that spirit, I’d like to pay tribute to the most ridiculous anti-Jewish fulminations I’ve come across in my years covering them. These eruptions of inspired idiocy span centuries and continents, from America to Europe to the Middle East. They implicate the Jews and the Jewish state, as well as Monica Lewinsky and the animal kingdom, in their nefarious plots. And they frequently interchange “Zionist” for “Jew” in comically inept attempts to obscure their bigotry.
In other words, it’s a collection that should satisfy any connoisseur of fine anti-Semitism.
Marc Goldberg: How to Destroy Israel
In a twist of fate, the state of Israel lives and thrives (certainly in comparison with her neighbors) because of antisemitism not in spite of it.
Would a tiny country have been able to fight the Sinai Campaign in 1956 or win the Six Day War if its population hadn’t more than doubled in size?
I doubt it. But Israel haters please note that once again Jews fled when they had no choice, not because a million of them simply, collectively, woke up one morning and thought moving to Israel would be a fun thing to do.
A million Jews made it to Israel once the Iron Curtain collapsed. The most academically diverse, educated aliyah Israel had yet experienced made Israel the hi-tech powerhouse it is today. Israel hater think about that. Jews had been oppressed under the Czars, providing the forge within which Zionism was molded. Then the communists took over with an entirely different ideology and world view. And oppressed the Jews. Then decades later a million Jews moved to Israel.
Think about that. Antisemitism at work.
And now the French aliyah. Thousands more well educated and in many cases wealthy Jews from France are packing their bags and going anywhere they can. Including to Israel.
Antisemitism at work.
Israel is the solution to antisemitism not the cause of it. Some people who hate Israel hate Jews. Everyone who hates Jews hates Israel. Ending antisemitism would end Israel.
The former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone recently ranted that “Hitler was a Zionist”. He wasn’t. Clearly. He simply proved just how important, just how righteous, how necessary Zionism is.
Antisemitism at work.
Think about that.
Khaled Abu Toameh: How Terrorists and Dictators Silence Arab Journalists
That is the sad state of journalism in the Arab world: "If you're not with us, then you must be against us and that is why we need to shut your mouth." A journalist who does not agree to serve as a governmental mouthpiece is denounced as a "traitor."
Hamas shut the Gaza offices of Al-Arabiya in July 2013, under the pretext that the station broadcasted "incorrect news" about the situation in the Gaza Strip. The closure did not receive much attention from the international community and human rights organizations. Had the office been closed by Israel, there would have been an international outcry, with journalists screaming about Israeli "assaults on freedom of the media."
Al-Arabiya, like many other Arab TV stations, has a bureau in Israel, and its reporters enjoy more freedom reporting out of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv than they do in the Arab world. Today, the only free and independent Arabic newspapers in the Middle East can be found inside Israel.

Foregn journalist distaste for Israel is all the vogue
When journalists arrive in Israel, they are already convinced that Palestinian Arabs are involved in a moral struggle for independence and that Israelis exploit their power and military prowess to thwart this "noble" goal.
There was a period in the Middle East, when American journalists and editorial writers favored Israel over the Arab states because Israel is an open society. Once reassessing Israel’s policies became in vogue, many editors and correspondents adopted a “neutral” and an “even handed” approach in their reporting. Israel no longer enjoyed “the benefit of the doubt.”
Those with “little or no ideological bent” relished in debunking “myths” about the Jewish state. In their quest for a new slant on the conflict, they found one. “Arabs biting Jews had long ceased to be news; but Jews biting Arabs—that was a story.”
A number of years later The New York Times News Editor William Borders explained: “The whole point is that torture by Israel, a democratic ally of the United States, which gets huge support from this country, is news. Torture by Palestinians seems less surprising. Surely you don't consider the two authorities morally equivalent.”
Joyce Karam, the Washington bureau chief of Al-Hayat, one of the major daily pan-Arab newspapers, observed that there were no protests in Pakistan against the slaughter of 700 people in Syria on week-end, although there were anti-Israel protests in Pakistan against the Gaza war of 2014. “Syria is essentially Gaza x320 death toll, x30 number of refugees….” she said. When asked why this double standard, she answered, “Only reason I can think of is Muslim killing Muslim or Arab killing Arab seems more acceptable than Israel killing Arabs.”
Richard Landes: Secular Supersessionism: Explaining the Global Left’s Hostility to Israel
Talk given at the International Scholars Conference: “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization,” April 2-6, 2016

Elliott Abrams [interview]: Are American Jews Growing More Distant from Israel?
In a discussion of his recent essay in Mosaic, Elliott Abrams explains how the changing face of American Jewry has affected relations between U.S. Jews and their brethren in Israel. (Interview by Eric Cohen; audio, 39 minutes.)
Isi Leibler: The ADL’s moral equivalence: Israelis and Palestinians
The Anti-Defamation League’s new national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, previously a special assistant to US President Barack Obama, has begun to court the liberal glitterati and their media by following the Obama lead and creating daylight between the ADL and the Israeli government.
In what was a coup for J Street, the ADL chief last month became the first Jewish establishment leader to address this essentially anti-Israeli organization, granting it respectability and treating it as a legitimate extension of the Jewish mainstream.
J Street, which had the financial backing of George Soros – who loathes Israel – has the chutzpah to depict itself as “pro-Israel” but claims an understanding superior to Israelis of what is best for them, declaring its role as that of a parent obliged to impose “tough love” on drug-addicted children.
The hypocrisy of J Street’s repeated mantra of being “pro-Israel” is illustrated in the following examples: • During Operation Cast Lead, J Street accused Israel of an “escalation” that was “counterproductive” and “disproportionate.” Finding difficulty in distinguishing “between who is right and wrong” and in “picking a side,” J Street ascribed moral equivalency to Israel and Hamas, and noted “that there are many who recognize elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide.”
Ben Shapiro: Trump’s Anti-Semitic Supporters
I was wrong. I’ve spent most of my career arguing that anti-Semitism in the United States is almost entirely a product of the political Left. I’ve traveled across the country from Iowa to Texas; I’ve rarely seen an iota of true anti-Semitism. I’ve sensed far more anti-Jewish animus from leftist college students at the University of California, Los Angeles, than from churches in Valencia. As an observer of President Obama’s thoroughgoing anti-Israel administration, I could easily link the anti-Semitism of the Left to its disdain for both Biblical morality and Israeli success over its primary Islamist adversaries. The anti-Semitism I’d heard about from my grandparents — the country-club anti-Semitism, the alleged white-supremacist leanings of rednecks from the backwoods — was a figment of the imagination, I figured.
I figured wrong.
Donald Trump’s nomination has drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork.
I’ve experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against Trump’s candidacy than at any other time in my political career. Trump supporters have threatened me and other Jews who hold my viewpoint. They’ve blown up my e-mail inbox with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. They greeted the birth of my second child by calling for me, my wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber.
Yes, seriously.
This isn’t a majority of Trump supporters, obviously. It’s not even a large minority. But there is a significant core of Trump support that not only traffics in anti-Semitism but celebrates it — and god-worships Trump as the leader of an anti-Jewish movement.
Labour refuses to discipline MEP who compared Israel to the Nazis, as critics call for his suspension
Labour has refused to discipline an MEP [European Parliament] who compared Israel to the Nazis, as critics accuse the Party of failing to clamp down on anti-Semitism despite promises to take the matter seriously.
MPs have called from Afzal Khan to be suspended for writing on Twitter: "The Israeli Government are [sic] acting like Nazi's [sic] in Gaza”.
A Labour spokesman confirmed that Mr Khan, who was awarded a CBE for his community and interfaith work in 2008, would not face any disciplinary action but said he had been “reminded of his responsibilities”.
Andrew Percy MP and Sir Eric Pickles MP have called on the Labour Party to suspend Mr Khan for his “deeply offensive” comments.
“It is staggering how often Labour politicians casually reference the Nazis when discussing the world's only Jewish state,” Mr Percy said.
“This is deeply offensive, causes a great deal of hurt to the Jewish community in the UK. Labour should move to suspend Afzal Khan immediately and start to take the issue of anti-Semitism more seriously.”
Labour party antisemitism
As the experience of British Labour has shown, antisemitism is very real and there remain those who reserve a unique and unwavering hatred for the dominant symbols of Jewish self-identification – the Jewish community, the Jewish faith and the Jewish nation-state.
In 2014, the Socialist Alternative was deregistered as a club by Monash University [Australia, BTW named after a Jew] following the harassment of Jewish students by its members. At Sydney University in 2015, students from the far-left shouted their support for Hizb ut-Tahrir to a predominantly Jewish audience while a senior academic, Jake Lynch, was filmed in the act of waving banknotes in the face of an elderly Jewish woman.
Incredibly, the actions of Lynch and the students were stridently defended by many on the left, including members of parliament and the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties. In 2013, NSW Upper House MP Shaoquett Moselmane railed against the ‘. . . blind[ing] power of a political lobby group that is cancerous and malicious’ in a piece of rhetoric that might have made the Iranian regime blush.
Amidst this scandal, British Labour is struggling to remain credible as an alternative government.
If a similar worldview took hold of the Australian left, it too would risk becoming un-backable, unelectable and irrelevant.
'Organization of Islamic Cooperation' blocks gay and transgender groups from attending UN AIDS meeting
More than 50 Muslim states have blocked 11 gay and transgender organisations from attending a meeting at the United Nations next month dedicated to ending AIDS.
Some 51 states, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan and Uganda, have objected to the groups attending the meeting.
Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member General Assembly on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the groups.
It did not give a reason in the letter - sparking a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union.
Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft and said the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.
'Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic,' Power wrote.
U.N. officials said the European Union and Canada also wrote to Lykketoft to protest the objections by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation group, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan and Uganda.
The issues of LGBT rights and participation in events at the United Nations have long been contentious.
In pro-Israel victory, Methodists to withdraw from BDS coalition
Just days after rejecting four resolutions calling for divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s control of the West Bank, the United Methodist Church voted to withdraw from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
By a vote of 478-318 at its general conference in Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday, the church approved a petition requesting its withdrawal from the group, Religion News Service reported.
A national coalition that “works to end U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem,” according to its website, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has been accused of being more anti-Israel than pro-peace.
The Methodist petition called the group a “one-sided political coalition” that seeks to isolate Israel “while overlooking anti-Israel aggression.” The US Campaign promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and seeks to end U.S. aid to that nation.
“Blaming only one side while ignoring the wrongdoing of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran will not advance the cause of peace,” the petition added.
Not everyone was pleased with the decision.
The Presbyterian Church, BDS, and that ‘largely non-violent’ First Intifada
Two years later, the Presbyterian Church nears another General Assembly. This time, the BDS agenda is a bit more nuanced. A task force was commissioned in 2014 to examine the continued viability of the Church’s commitment to a Two State solution. Responsibility for this study fell on the Church’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP), which recently issued a report titled Israel-Palestine: For Human Values in the Absence of a Justice Peace, that it is seeking to have endorsed by the GA when it meets in mid-June in Portland, Oregon. It should surprise no one that the report that was written mimics many of the BDS arguments that have been used again and again.
It does not take even the casual reader long to realize that this report is fundamentally flawed and dishonest at its core. On the very first page, the report provides a brief history of the conflict, in which the First Intifada is described as a “largely non-violent movement that led to the Oslo Accords.” Let that sit in for a minute. The First Intifada was a non-violent movement. What the authors of the report apparently are trying to do is to equate the Palestinian resistance, then led by Yasser Arafat and the PLO as being on the same moral level as the American civil rights movement, in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference used the strategy of nonviolent civil disobedience to effect change. King led bus boycotts, sit-ins and marches to overcome legal segregation and accomplish voting rights for Black Americans in the American south.
Yet, the First Intifada included far more than boycotts of Israel by Palestinians. Arafat’s uprising consisted of widespread throwing of stones, Molotov Cocktails, and assaults on Israeli citizens. It is estimated that over 1100 Palestinians and 200 Israelis were killed between 1987 and 1991. Yes, the First Intifada was far less violent than the Second, which began in September 2000, and was characterized by suicide bombings, and ongoing acts of terrorism, but in no way was the First Intifada a non-violent movement. For a report by the Presbyterian Church’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy to even use such language not only questions the intellectual integrity and honesty of the committee itself, but also calls into question the entire report that follows. The Report treats the conflict between Israel and Palestine as entirely one sided, with Palestinians always the victim, seeking justice, and Israel as always the aggressor.
Exclusive: Major French bank closes anti-Israel BDS account
The massive French bank Credit Mutuel shut down the account of La Campagne BDS France amid escalating criticism over the illegal practices of supporting financial transactions that target Israel for boycotts.
In a dramatic setback for a large Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) group, BDS France removed a link on its donor webpage in May for Credit Mutuel and added a link to PayPal as a method of contribution.
Speaking from Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the Israeli journalist Jean Patrick Grumberg told The Jerusalem Post that according to his source “BDS France used illegal ways to open its account and Credit Mutuel closed it.”
Grumberg confirmed the termination of the account through his source at Credit Mutuel. He is a reporter for the French-speaking American website Dreuz. Grumberg has reported on Credit Mutuel’s role in enabling BDS.
German politicians call for inquiry into anti-Semitic BDS hub
A widening anti-Semitism scandal involving the Protestant Church and a network of NGOs in the city of Bremen that call for a boycott of Israel prompted the Green Party to launch an investigation, at the same time saying the employment of a pastor who declared himself a Jew-hater appears to be untenable.
“As the Green faction, we are preparing a parliamentary inquiry that will deal with anti-Semitic tendencies in Bremen,” Kirsten Kappert- Gonther, the deputy head of the Green Party in the city government, wrote The Jerusalem Post by email last week.
After the Protestant Pastor Volker Keller boasted in an email to the Post that he is an anti-Semite – and the leadership of the Bremen Jewish community announced its refusal to work with Keller – Kappert-Gonther told the Post on Wednesday that “mutual trust, in the meantime, is so disturbed that I find it difficult to imagine that good cooperation in the Council for Integration is still possible.”
Keller serves on Bremen’s Council for Integration and plays a role in the absorption of migrants from Muslim- majority countries. He is the Church’s representative on the council for dialogue with religious communities, including the nearly 1,000-member Jewish community.
'Islamophobia Studies' Are Coming To A College Near You, And There Won't Be Any Debate About It
"Before I get started, I just wanted to say that we are meeting on stolen indigenous people's land. That's really important to acknowledge." So declared San Francisco State University race and resistance studies professor Rabab Abdulhadi, at the University of California, Berkeley's Seventh Annual International Islamophobia Conference in April.
Abdulhadi's seemingly disjointed declaration was typical of the post-colonial, "intersectionality"-driven jargon of the entire conference, which sought to link the mythical plight of America's prosperous, content Muslim population, with the struggles of every oppressed minority known to man. It was also an opportunity for two academic centers at opposite ends of the country to join forces and promote what was euphemistically referred to at the 2015 UC Berkeley conference as "Islamophobia studies."
While UC Berkeley Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project (IRDP) director and conference convener Hatem Bazian gave the opening remarks, John Esposito, founding director of Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU) and project director of ACMCU's Bridge Initiative, "a multi-year research project that connects the academic study of Islamophobia with the public square," was the undisputed star.
Contrary to Guardian claim, there are no Israeli restrictions on medicine to Gaza
First, the claim that Israeli restrictions on the flow of goods to Gaza represent a “near total closure” is absurd in light of the fact that tons of food, consumer goods and medical equipment are transported freely into the Palestinian-run territory on a weekly basis. Additionally, thousands of Palestinians leave Gaza each week to conduct business outside the territory, or to receive medical treatment in Israeli or Palestinian hospitals.
Also, contrary to Whitford’s suggestion about Israel’s responsibility for the shortage of chemotherapy drugs, there are no Israeli restrictions on medical supplies entering Gaza. Thousands of tons of medical supplies arrive in Gaza each year. Further, more than 25,000 Gazans are granted permits annually to receive medical care in Israel, the West Bank or Jordan.
The only restricted items are weapons and ‘dual-use’ items, those putatively civilian items which can be used “for the development, production, installation or enhancement of military capabilities and terrorist capacities”. Purely humanitarian supplies have never been subject to such restrictions, even during wartime.
Regarding Whitford’s specific claim that radio isotopes are forbidden “despite having no potentially dangerous application”, we contacted COGAT:
Christian Science Monitor Forgets that Hamas Controls Gaza
The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) published an article called, “Musicians raise their voices in song to help children in Gaza.”
Aside from describing a musical project, the CSM misrepresented the nature of Gaza and Israel in a way that puts professional journalism to shame.
First, the CSM got basic geography wrong, by stating that Israel controls Gaza’s border. In fact Gaza has 2 borders: one adjacent to Israel and the other adjacent to Egypt. The Egyptian border is even more restricted than the Israeli one, due to constant attacks from Gaza against Egyptians. CSM also made no mention of the constant attacks from Gaza against Israelis.
CSM misstated key facts, stating that Israel restricts imports into Gaza. In fact, Israel restricts the movement of weapons into Gaza but moves in millions of tons of food, supplies and water annually, as well as supplying electricity. The weapons that Israel restricts are used by terror organizations to attack Israeli civilians.
Then CSM practically defied imagination by discussing Gaza while making absolutely no mention of its most important context: that the Hamas terror group actually controls Gaza.
Is Israel killing Palestinian Children?

BBC’s ‘In Pictures’ showcases an anti-Israel activist
That link leads to a photo essay titled “Traditional industries in the West Bank” in which audiences are told:
“In the West Bank, several traditional Palestinian industries are still utilising historical techniques fine-tuned through generations – but once flourishing industries, such as shoemaking in Hebron or olive oil soap production in Nablus, are barely surviving, with a fraction of their former workforces.
Photographer Rich Wiles has been documenting these industries, some of which may not survive much longer in the current political and economic climate.”

Rich Wiles, however, is not only a photographer: he is also a professional political activist who uses his camera as a tool for the advancement of his chosen political cause.
In addition to his involvement with the anti-Israel NGO ‘Badil’, Wiles can regularly be found promoting his campaigning photography at outlets such as Al Jazeera, the Hamas-linked MEMO (which, interestingly, describes him as “MEMO photographer Rich Wiles”) and other Hamas-linked outfits such as the ‘Palestinian Return Centre’.
Al-Monitor Spins History
Author Uri Savir writes:
A senior PLO official in Ramallah told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that “50 years of military occupation spells to every single Palestinian that we, with whatever means we possess, have to end our humiliation and gain our independence. Strategically, June 2017 is an opportunity to place the Palestinian issue on the international agenda.”
The PLO official said that one cannot rule out a “50-year occupation intifada,” but that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prefers to avoid it: “In 2017, the rules of the game will change. We have come to the end of our patience.”

Savir does not acknowledge that these comments amount to endorsements by Palestinian officials of the murder Jews and Israelis in terrorist projects. Savir, founder of the Peres Center for Peace and the NGO’s current honorary president, parrots incendiary PLO talking points and ignores the incitement of Palestinian violence which the PLO officials themselves unabashedly glorify.
Furthermore, he not only ignores the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank prior to 1967, he also fails to mention numerous offers of statehood made to the Palestinians by successive Israeli governments since. Instead, he chastises Israel:
“Enough with the occupation” should be the Israeli slogan instead. Occupation is the biggest strategic danger to Israel’s identity, to its security and its international relations. It is turning Israel into a binational, immoral state, and it carries severe ramifications for Israel’s democracy.
With pithy historical blindness, Savir places the weight of the conflict entirely on Israel’s shoulders, giving the Palestinians a free pass even as they admit to turning to terrorism. Al-Monitor, the 2014 recipient of the International Press Institute’s (IPI) Free Media Pioneer Award, eliminates any semblance of contextualize reporting, offering a biased perspective of the last half-century of events in Middle East.
Guatemalan protesters use anti-Semitic language to blast Israeli-owned power company
Demonstrators in Guatemala used anti-Semitic language to protest the Central American country’s major power company, which is owned by an Israeli group.
Energuate, a private power supplier owned by Israeli company IC Power, was targeted by protests last week that included congressmen, businessmen and members of the military, the Estado de Israel news portal reported.
“Jews have killed me on the cross. Now Jews from Energuate are killing my people in Guatemala with the light,” read the Spanish-language banners and posters at the protests. “Out with Jewish Energuate from Guatemala. Let’s unite for the nationalization of power electricity.”
The anti-Semitic material also included an image of a crucified Jesus and a New Testament passage about hypocritical “teachers of the law and Pharisees” neglecting justice, mercy and faithfulness.
An article on the website of Redes Cristianas, or Christian Networks, defended the use of an anti-Semitic tone in the protests.
EU under fire over Czech pig farm on Roma Holocaust site
Czech anti-racism activists said Tuesday they had asked the EU to halt subsidies to a pig farm built on the site of a former concentration camp where hundreds of Roma prisoners died during World War II.
“The fact that European taxpayers’ money is heading to (the farm) runs counter to the values on which the EU was built,” said activist Miroslav Broz, a coordinator at the Konexe anti-racism association.
“When you arrive at the pig farm, you can see EU logos and flags and inscriptions saying the EU is subsidizing the operation and upgrades of this farm,” he told AFP a day after May 16, which is the international Roma Resistance Day.
Jan Michal, head of the European Commission’s representation in Prague, said it was up to EU member states to decide where subsidies were paid.
Anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne performs for Montreal fans via video link
After being barred from entering Canada, the controversial French comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala presented a show in Montreal via video link.
Some 600 fans paid $40 a ticket to see Dieudonne on a big screen in a reception hall on Monday.
The comic has been convicted multiple times in France and Belgium for hate speech, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and defending terrorism. His latest conviction was May 10 in France for using material that included accusations of Jewish involvement in the slave trade and deriding the Holocaust.
That was the same day the Canadian Border Services Agency informed him he could not enter Canada and must return to France.
Jewelry found inside mug on exhibit at Auschwitz Museum
Curators at the Auschwitz museum have found a gold ring and necklace inside an enamel mug that is on exhibit at the museum, the BBC reported Wednesday.
The jewelry was discovered during maintenance work on the museum’s collection of enamel kitchenware. It had been concealed beneath the mug's fake bottom, which gradually eroded over time, according to the British news network.
Many Jews hid valuable items in their luggage when they were deported to Nazi death camps such as Auschwitz.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum said the jewelry - like other objects accidentally discovered - would be carefully documented and secured, but warned that the likelihood of finding the owners was slim "because there are no traces left on the objects to help identify them".
The mug in which the jewelry was found is one of 12,000 cups, pots, bowls, kettles and jugs held by the museum. These are items looted by German forces from the luggage of people who arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau during World War Two.
"It turned out that one of the mugs has a double bottom," Hanna Kubik of the museum's Memorial Collections told the BBC. "It was very well hidden; however, due to the passage of time, the materials underwent gradual degradation, and the second bottom separated from the mug."
US House passes bill protecting circumcision, ritual slaughter
A bill unanimously approved by the US House of Representatives would extend religious protections to advocates of circumcision and ritual slaughter as well as atheists, addressing what its sponsors describe as an increase in religious persecution in recent years.
The bill, passed Monday, would broaden the definition of “violations of religious freedom” in the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include the persecution of advocates of male circumcision or ritual animal slaughter. Atheists would become a new protected class.
The measure, which moves to the Senate for consideration, was named for retired Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a longtime champion of human rights who authored the 1998 law.
“The world is experiencing an unprecedented crisis of international religious freedom, a crisis that continues to create millions of victims; a crisis that undermines liberty, prosperity and peace; a crisis that poses a direct challenge to the US interests in the Middle East, Russia, China and sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who authored the bill, said in a statement.
Mayo Clinic launches initiative to invest in Israeli medical tech
In the first initiative of its kind, the Mayo Clinic, one of the best-regarded medical research and practice groups in the world, will seek to partner with Israeli life science and medical technology companies.
“We recognized the amount of start-up companies generated in Israel to help clinical practice and improve patient care and we wanted to explore the possibility to partner with them,” said Dr. Amir Lerman, the medical director of the Mayo Clinic Israeli Startup Initiative.
The Israel initiative is the clinic’s first investment and partnership program of its kind focused on an entire country, though it also has an investment program in Ireland through its government.
"We have been thinking for some time how to effectively interact with Israeli companies. We think the startup community in Israel is very robust on the cutting edge, doing very creative things, and we think we should be part of that," said James Rogers, the chair of Mayo Clinic Ventures, which is leading the initiative alongside The Merage Foundation.
Though the initiative has been in the works for nearly a year, it will officially launch at the IATI-Biomed conference, Israel’s largest life sciences and technology conference, in Tel Aviv next week.
Leukemia cure could be on the way, says med-tech firm Biosight
Biosight, an Israeli pharmaceutical development company that is working on a cure for leukemia, this week closed an investment of $13 million led by pharmaceutical investment firm Arkin Holdings, run by pharma mogul Mori Arkin, and US-based venture firm Primera Capital. The money will be used to fund an advanced phase study of the company’s lead product, Astarabine, for the treatment of AML — acute myeloid leukemia, one of the two most common forms of the disease.
According to the investment terms, Arkin Holdings and Primera Capital will invest $5 million each, and additional $3 million will be invested by existing shareholders. The investment will be made in two steps, the first immediate, and the second expected in the course of the next year upon completion of several studies and milestones.
Astarabine is a special form of a compound called cytarabine that contains an amino acid harmful to leukemia cells but not to normal cells. Leukemia cells depend on an amino acid called aspargine, but they cannot synthesize it themselves, according to Dr. Ruth Ben Yakar, CEO of BioSight; as a result, they “steal” it where they can, from within the bloodstream. “We set up a molecular structure that leukemia cells recognize as being associated with aspargine, which they need,” said Bar Yakar. “But instead we fill it with Astarabine, which kills them. Thus, using this trojan horse trick, we are able to destroy the cancerous cells while preserving the healthy ones.”
Sir Elton John promises to give Tel Aviv a ‘wonderful, crazy’ night
The Rocket Man is on his way to Tel Aviv. Sir Elton John will be the bloke in shades sitting onstage behind a grand piano in Yarkon Park next Thursday, May 26, for his fourth concert in Israel and his first in six years.
This time, John is on tour promoting “Wonderful Crazy Night,” his 32nd studio album and his third straight album with co-producer T Bone Burnett and American singer/songwriter Leon Russell.
John has said that his collaboration with Russell marks a new chapter in his recording career.
“I don’t have to make pop records any more,” he said.
It’s true. Elton John is not his seventies self, with his hair far shorter at 68, but he’s still got his shades, diamond earring and glitzy suits.
From the IDF to Hollywood: Krav Maga’s meteoric rise
Krav Maga, the close-combat method conceived in secrecy by the Israeli army, has kicked its way firmly into civilian life and with Hollywood’s help, has become the ultimate form of self-defense.
“The idea is to be able to quickly hit the aggressor’s vulnerable spots and to defend yourself with whatever is available — a beer bottle or a stick,” explains Elad Nimni, who teaches Krav Maga in the Israeli army.
“Or, if you’re doing military Krav Maga, you can use a gun instead of your body, because your body can get damaged and that hurts,” he tells AFP, wearing military fatigues, his muscles rippling under a tight black t-shirt.
Although Krav Maga — which is Hebrew for “contact combat” — borrows techniques from boxing, wrestling and jiu jistu, it differs from all other combat sports in one way: there are no rules.
Krav Maga is all about saving your own skin, and anything goes.
But interest in the streetwise style of fighting has stretched far beyond Israel, notching up diehard fans from Hampstead to Hollywood, among them A-listers like Angelina Jolie and husband Brad Pitt, whose daily workouts reportedly caused him to bulk up his muscles and “dramatically” lose weight.
90% of Israeli Jews call themselves Zionists, Herzl Day poll finds
The vast majority of Israelis say Zionism is still relevant today and most define themselves as Zionists, according to a poll released by the Herzl Center Wednesday in honor of Herzl Day, celebrated on the Zionist thinker’s birthday.
Asked to what extent they define themselves as Zionists, with 10 being the most and one the least, about half (51 percent) of the poll’s respondents gave themselves a nine or 10 and 39% ranked themselves from five to eight. Only 11% of Israeli Jews gave themselves a score of one to four.
The vast majority of Israeli Jews – 82% – said the idea of Zionism is still relevant, while 9% were unsure and another 9% said Zionism is irrelevant.
Most Israelis (61%) said that Herzl’s vision has not fully come true yet, and 9% said it did not come true at all, while 24% said Herzl’s vision came true. The rest did not know.
Avraham Duvdevani, chairman of the World Zionist Organization, which Herzl founded in 1897 to bring his Zionist idea to fruition, said he agrees that Herzl’s vision has not yet fully come true, saying that even now the WZO encourages aliya, supports Jewish communities in the Negev and Galilee and fights anti-Semitism.
Most respondents also knew that Theodore Herzl wrote the book The Jewish State, with 84% guessing his name correctly, 1% giving a wrong answer and 16% saying they do not know.
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