Tuesday, May 24, 2016

From Ian:

Dysfunctional Israeli leadership failing utterly in battle against BDS, state watchdog warns
The Foreign Ministry has no overall strategy, lacks funds and is failing to achieve its goals in the battle against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, a damning state comptroller’s report charged on Tuesday.
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s annual report criticized a range of “failings” in the ministry, underlining an inability to present any significant achievements in the battle against the BDS movement that has targeted Israel over its alleged mistreatment of the Palestinians.
Prominent among the failures in dealing with BDS, the report highlights shortcomings during the 2014 Gaza War.
“A lack of cooperation between the Foreign Ministry and the army spokesman, and a lack of speed in getting information to the media, brought about an advocacy failure during Operation Protective Edge,” the report says, using the army moniker for the conflict.
“Foreign Ministry projects meant to improve Israel’s image in target communities around the world are lacking in their planning, management and implementation, and are failing to achieve their designated goals,” the report added.

Smadar Haran tells her story, brings journalists to tears
Survior of the 1979 Nahariya terrorist attack tells her story to foreign war correspondents, who walk away in tears, shock at her lack of hate, and in awe of her refusal for revenge.
When Smadar Haran spoke, not a single pair of eyes around the table at the Rimon Hotel in Tzfat was without tears.
The foreign guests and journalists who sat around her – all of them veteran war correspondents – thought they had already written and seen everything. But this meeting with Haran, who lost who her husband Danny and her daughters Einat and Yael during the terror attack on Nahariya in 1979, somehow managed to shake them up. While with one hand they were writing down every word, with the other, they were wiping away tears.
This was the first time that the Foreign Ministry had ever flown in a delegation of European war correspondents. The purpose of the trip was to expose the journalists to the terror that Israelis have to deal with, and find correlations between the Israeli and European fight against terror.
The delegation were taught about the security arrangements at Ben Gurion International airport, received a tour of the Israeli border with Syria, and visited injured Syrians who were undergoing treatment at Ziv medical center in Tzfat. However, the headline of the trip was with Haran.
My First Hizb-ut-Tahrir Conference
The half-full banquet hall, divided into the men's side and the women's side, admitted about 100 attendees. A black flag with white script was on display, on both the screen and on the podium. "Why," I said to the woman next to me, "is this flag there? Is that not the ISIS flag?" The woman, later identified as Naeema, said it was not, and called her son, one of the organizers, to address the question. It seemed difficult for him, too; he went off to look for someone else more knowledgeable to the help with the problem. Naeema explained that the writing was different. "I can read Arabic," I said. No one could be found to answer the question.
As the event started late, Naeema began a conversation. We talked about our origins and how long we had been in Canada. She said she had been here 40 years, so I asked about the disconnect between enjoying 40 years of democracy, yet trying to end it. I mentioned a book published by Hizb-ut-Tahrir:
"Democracy is Infidelity: its use, application and promotion are prohibited."
Naeema said she was not qualified to debate the topic, but that democracy had done nothing good for people, so she and other believers would follow the rule of Allah. Reflecting on the Muslim Brotherhood's year in power in Egypt, I asked if she were prepared to have a dictator claim to be Allah's spokesman even if he abused the power. She said she had never thought about it like that, but, again, that she was not qualified to debate the topic. As the conference began, the conversation stopped.

‘Rigorous Neutrality’?: Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate’s Nasser Abu Baker Moonlights For AFP
"Objectivity is a difficult goal to achieve. The mere unavoidable organisation of facts can influence a reader’s judgement. However, this does not prevent us from pursuing our policy of rigorous neutrality. According to its remit, AFP is independent of the French government and all other economic or political interests.” So state the lofty principals enshrined in “Agence France Presse’s Values.”
How, then, does one explain the fact that Nasser Abu Baker, the chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, the leading force for the boycott of Israeli journalists and media, also writes for the influential French news agency?
In January 2016, the board of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate appointed Nasser Abu Baker, also spelled Abu Bakr, chairman. Previously, he held the title of deputy chairman of the organization for many years. During this period, and dating back for more than a decade, Abu Baker has also worked as a reporter for AFP covering Israeli-Palestinian affairs. Two Israeli journalists who cover the Palestinians confirmed to CAMERA that Abu Baker continues to work for the news agency. One of those reporters checked his information with three Palestinian journalists, who also confirmed that Abu Baker still reports for AFP while he serves as a senior official at the PJS. Abu Baker’s Facebook account also indicates that he works for AFP.
How golden was the Golden Age of Spain?
How golden was the Golden Age in medieval Spain? Is the idea of convivencia - the harmonious age of interfaith cooperation under tolerant Muslim rule - nothing more than wishful thinking? Rabbi Marc Angel reviews in Jewish Ideas Daily a new myth-busting book by Dario Fernandez-Morera, The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise.
While various scholars have pointed to problems and low points during Islamic rule in Spain, Dr. Fernandez-Morera goes much further. His bold argument is that the notion of Islamic tolerance of Jews and Christians is a myth—it is simply not true. The idea of convivencia—the mutual cooperation and harmony among Muslims, Christians and Jews in Medieval Spain—belongs more to the realm of propaganda than to history.
The author quotes numerous scholars who shower praise on Islamic tolerance, on the remarkable “Golden Age” in interreligious cooperation. But he argues that these authors were engaging in “political correctness,” the fashionable presentation of a tolerant and benevolent Islam. He draws on writings of people who lived in Islamic Spain, people who described what life was actually like in their times. He draws on extensive scholarly sources, on archaeological discoveries, as well as on the abundant secondary literature of more recent scholars.
Dr. Fernandez-Morera notes that the famed Umayyad dynasty were followers of the Maliki school of Islam which had little love for non-Muslims. The early Muslim conquerors of Spain and their successors systematically razed churches or turned them into Mosques. They imposed Islamic law on Christians and Jews—known as People of the Book—which made it very clear that the minorities were to be subservient to Muslims. Although granted relative freedom to conduct their communities according to their own religious traditions, Christians and Jews were “dhimmis”—an underclass of “protected people” who had to pay a special tax for the privilege of living under Islamic hegemony.
Labour anti-Semitism tsar's praise for militant who says the 'crimes' of Israel are worse than the Taliban's
The head of Labour's inquiry into anti-Semitism in the party heaped praised on a militant linked to Jihadi John who once said that the 'crimes' of Israel outweighed those of the Taliban.
Shami Chakrabarti – who has been appointed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – was accused of 'lacking credibility' after it emerged that she had once described Moazzam Begg as a 'wonderful advocate… for human rights and in particular for human liberty'.
Mr Begg, who was imprisoned in Guantanamo after travelling to Afghanistan to build schools for children of Al Qaeda fighters, recently caused a storm on Twitter by declaring: 'Israel's crimes far outweigh Taliban's who are in their own country. Zionist Israelis aren't.'
Ms Chakrabarti was asked to lead the inquiry after MP Naz Shah and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone caused a storm over alleged anti-Semitic remarks.
Jewish Watchdog Groups in Britain Seriously Skeptical About Labour Party’s Antisemitism Probe
Representatives of two Jewish watchdog groups in the UK told The Algemeiner on Monday why they are skeptical about the British Labour Party’s probe into allegations of antisemitism in its ranks.
Mark Gardner, director of communications for the Community Security Trust, and Jonathan Sacredoti, director of communications for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, each spelled out his reasons for doubting the inquiry’s ultimate effectiveness.
“Even if the investigation finds in favor of our concerns about antisemitism, it is possible that many Labour members will simply not accept its findings, or that counter-resolutions will go to the next Labour Party conference,” Gardner said. He added, however, that the next few months will “act as a tipping point one way or another. The probe could, at long last, help reverse some of the obsessive anti-Zionism that invites antisemitism or further damage to those who are trying to save the party.”
He was referring to the already controversial inquiry, whose chairwoman, Sami Chakrabarti, admitted last week that she had joined the party on the day of her appointment. Adding further to questions surrounding her ability to be neutral or objective, the Daily Mail reported on Saturday that she had praised a “militant linked to Jihadi John who once said that the ‘crimes’ of Israel outweighed those of the Taliban.” According to the report, in 2007, Chakarbarti called Moazzam Begg, a Guantanamo detainee, a “wonderful advocate…for human rights and in particular for human liberty.”
“There are several key problems with the Chakrabarti inquiry,” said the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Sacerdoti. “Among them her allegiance to the very party she was appointed to investigate, which does not inspire confidence.”
Proof that Labour MP's anti-Israel outburst was anything but a one off: Naz Shah is pictured attending a series of protests against McDonald's and Sainsbury's
Playing dead with her children on the floor of a fast-food restaurant, this is the MP facing expulsion from the Labour Party for posting anti-semitic comments.
Naz Shah attended the protest against Israel at a McDonald's hours before suggesting a 'solution' to the Middle East conflict on Facebook.
Miss Shah said the posts – on August 5, 2014 – did not reflect her views and were made when 'emotions were running high around the Middle East conflict'.
But it can be revealed that during the same period, mother-of-three Miss Shah was part of a group that mounted a string of protests against Israel.
The 42-year-old was an active member of the Bradford Boycott group that called for action against organisations and businesses that 'support apartheid Israel'.
On August 7, 2014, the group shared an image from a shop in Kashmir with the sign: 'I don't sell or welcome any Israeli in my shop.'
Miss Shah also co-ordinated protests at Sainsbury's and Tesco, and carried a coffin at a pro-Palestine rally where she was filmed chanting: 'Shame on you.'
The revelations come as the Bradford West MP faces a disciplinary investigation for anti-semitic Facebook posts.
Antisemitism row erupts at Hackney Labour party meeting
A Hackney Labour meeting descended into “uproar” after a party activist spoke out, making a connection between Zionism and Nazism.
A motion was put forward at a Labour Party branch meeting of Cazenove and Springfield wards earlier this month, declaring that opposition to the Jewish state is not the same as antisemitism.
The proposer of the motion is said to have then drawn a comparison between Zionism and Nazism, and was accused of conflating the two.
Rabbi Abraham Pinter, a member of Hackney’s Orthodox Jewish community and a former Labour councillor, said the incident heightened his concerns about antisemitism in the Labour party.
Rabbi Pinter told the Hackney Citizen: “I found this hugely upsetting. I acted out of character and started shouting at the proposer.
“The chair then went on to apologise to the member who made this outrageous analogy for the interruption.
Hull University Third to Disaffiliate From NUS
Hull University students have voted resoundingly to disaffiliate from the NUS, joining fellow NUSceptics in Newcastle and Lincoln. The Out campaign won nearly twice the votes of In, with 811 students in favour of leaving the union which just last month debated against commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day while electing a president who believes there is a “Zionist led media”. Cambridge begins voting today, the disaffiliation movement is spreading…
French politician probed for tweets mocking, denying Holocaust
City prosecutors in southern France are investigating a local politician for his Twitter account, which was marked “forbidden to dogs and Jews” and featured tweets mocking and denying the Holocaust.
The Montpelier prosecutors were notified Monday by municipal officials about the account, which belongs to Djamel Boumaaz, a former member of France’s far-right National Front party, the Liberation daily reported. Boumaaz, a Muslim who quit the party last year over what he termed anti-Muslim sentiments by party leader Marine Le Pen, said someone had hacked his account and posted the tweets, the news site Infos H24 reported.
According to Liberation, the profile of the account, which was shut down Monday, read: “Forbidden to dogs and to Jews.”
A tweet posted Sunday featured a black-and-white picture of corpses along with the text: “OK, let’s make up besides I have a heap of Jewish friends.”
Another tweet read: “My son has nightmares from your Holocaust. I told him not to be afraid of imaginary things.”
Brendan O'Neill: Western liberals who banned Eagles of Death Metal are doing Isis’s dirty work
If you want to know how lost Europe is, how thoroughly it has abandoned freedom of speech, get this: two French music festivals have banned Eagles of Death Metal, the American rock band whose gig at the Bataclan was turned into a bloodbath by Isis last November, after the lead singer said some dodgy things about Muslims.
Yes, six months after they watched and heard 89 of their fans being slaughtered by Isis for the crime of engaging in ‘perversity’, Eagles of Death Metal are now being shut down by festival organisers for saying allegedly perverted things about Islam. Isis must be delighted: Western liberals are doing their dirty work for them; they’re silencing the people Isis judged to be blasphemous; they’re completing Isis’s act of terror.
The fuss kicked off last week when Jesse Hughes, the singer, said iffy stuff about Islam. In an interview with Taki’s Mag — founded by this magazine’s Taki — Hughes stated his belief that Muslim workers at the Bataclan knew about the attack and helped the killers get in the building. He also claims to have seen Muslims celebrating the massacre on the streets of Paris. ‘I saw it with my own eyes.’ And he reckons everyone should lay off conservative Christians — who are blamed for ‘everything in the world’ — and instead subject Muslims in the West to greater scrutiny.
For saying these things, his band have been expelled from two French festivals due to take place in August: the Rock en Seine and the Cabaret Vert. The organisers said, ‘As we are in total disagreement with Jesse Hughes’ recent allegations… [we] have decided to cancel the band’s performance’. So you can only play at these festivals if the organisers agree with your views on Islam, Muslims, terrorism and other hot issues? If you think and say the right thing as decreed by the festival overlords? That’s a bit stiff for a music festival, no?
Blatant Antisemitism at the Columbia Missouri Public Library
On May 17th, a group called “Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation” hosted an event titled, “The North American Nakba Tour: The Exiled Palestinians,” at the Columbia Missouri Public Library.
The event, according to the Columbia Tribune, was to feature “Palestinian refugees Amena Ashkar and Mariam Fathallah [describing] what they say is the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Jewish occupiers.” Before the event, I found an interview on Youtube in which Ashkar explained that earlier on the tour she had been scheduled to speak at Stanford University, but her hosts warned her not to say that Israel has no right to exist. Ashkar responded firmly, “I came here to say that Israel has no right to exist.” Ultimately, she cancelled the presentation, rather than capitulate. When I became aware of this information, I organized a group to urge the public library to cancel the room reservation. I made sure the library was fully informed that Ashkar’s stated goal was to call for the destruction of Israel, and that given her past stops on the tour, her message was likely to be delivered in a particularly offensive manner.
I wrote a letter in the Tribune, explaining that “the US State Department defines antisemitism as: ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.’” I also consulted a lawyer, who sent a letter to the director of the library, Melissa Carr, as well as to its board of trustees. The letter stated, “This is hate speech that implicitly calls for the genocide of the Jews… hate speech has no place in a tax-funded institution.” In addition, we started a letter-writing campaign calling for the room reservation to be cancelled.
To no avail. Though fully informed, Director Carr allowed the event to proceed.
Matisyahu to headline anti-BDS event at UN
As international efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state and harm it economically grow in strength and number, Israel’s Mission to the United Nations is looking to take on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) and raise awareness of the BDS campaign’s anti-democratic and often anti-Semitic behavior.
To that end, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, has announced an anti-BDS conference, to be held at the United Nations, entitled “Building Bridges, Not Boycotts”.
Slated for May 31st, the conference is a joint effort of the Israeli Mission to the UN and a wide range of organizations including the World Jewish Congress, Keren HaYesod/United Israel Appeal, the American Center for Law and Justice, the ADL, StandWithUs, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Israel Bonds, Bnai Brith International, the Hillel movement, and CAMERA.
The event, which is expected to draw some 1,500 activists, jurists, and media figures, will be headlined by Jewish reggae star Matisyahu, who will give a special performance in the UN’s General Assembly Hall.
Matisyahu was himself targeted by BDS activists in 2015, when a Spanish festival initially cancelled his appearance. The Rototom Sunsplash Festival later backtracked, however, following a public outcry, with Matisyahu being ultimately allowed to perform.
Other prominent attendees of the conference will include Israeli Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder.
IsraellyCool: You Won’t Believe What Roger Waters Says Next!
Great shmuck! Part 3 of the Roger Waters-Demented Doc Brown interview has been released. And like parts 1 and 2, Roger and Doc are at their lying best.
For instance, Waters from 3:47:
Well, yeah. It’s a thing, as well, about the mainstream media, is that if you don’t tow the party line, if you don’t follow the line, and very particularly on Israel, you will be fired. You will lose your job. So, it’s no huge surprise that everybody takes the same line, and says the same thing. Because, people care about their salary at the end of the day. And people can be bought, and people can be sold. That is the nature of life in this country. And it’s really sad.
I am sure this is news to Luke Baker and – well almost everyone in the mainstream media!
Followed by this exchange..
WATERS: You know, if you ask, even if you are in the press corps at the white house, if you ask difficult questions you don’t get asked to ask a question again. Or, you will not be invited, or you will not be on Air Force One, flying off somewhere to cover a trip.
JAY: Yeah, we saw what happened to Helen Thomas…
WATERS: You have to say the right things, or you won’t be invited.

If you recall, Helen Thomas was fired for saying Israeli Jews should “go home” to Poland or Germany. Waters is implying it was because she was not towing the line. That’s a hell of an (antisemitic) line to tow.
In blow to BDS, Jordan authorizes Israel's participation in national investment fund
In an extraordinary move, the Jordanian parliament, known for making anti-Israeli resolutions, has authorized Israeli companies to take part in governmental projects run by the Jordanian Investment Fund.
The Jordanian MPs gathered on Sunday to pass the Jordanian Investment Fund Law for 2016. The law relates to the companies that are authorized to participate in national projects administered by the fund.
In the parliament's morning session, a majority of MPs voted against the participation of Israeli companies in the fund, thereby banning them from taking part in the fund’s bids.
However, in the evening session, the parliament voted again on a new version of the law that authorized Israeli firms to participate in the investment fund. This amended version won a majority of votes, prompting the parliament's about-face on the controversial resolution.
Ironically, one of the ardent supporters of the new resolution was a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Palestine, who announced proudly that she "raised her two hands in support for the inclusion of Israeli companies in the investment fund."
Spanish tribunal: BDS is unconstitutional, discriminatory
Citing anti-discrimination laws, a Spanish constitutional tribunal recommended scrapping a local government motion calling for a boycott against Israel.
The Ministerio Fiscal, an advisory judicial authority charged with guaranteeing equality in the judiciary, made the recommendation this month, according to a statement by ACOM, a Spanish pro-Israel lobby. The recommendation comes after ACOM sued the northern municipality of Gijon for declaring itself “a space free of Israeli apartheid.”
The motion, passed in January, also said the city would not pay for services of firms implicated in “human rights violations” in Palestinian territories. It said the city supports the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, sanctions and divestment against Israel. Gijon, a city of 270,000 residents, is located 290 miles north of Madrid.
But the Ministerio Fiscal said in its nonbinding recommendation that the objectives of Gijon’s boycott “violate the constitution as well as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.” The motion’s clauses, according to the tribunal, “jeopardize the fundamental right to equality without discrimination on the bases of appearance, ethnicity and religion.”
Jewish ex-BBC chief decries anti-Semitism in British golf
A former chairman of the BBC said that anti-Semitism abounds in British golf and that he was once banned from a controversial all-male club in Scotland for being Jewish.
Lord Michael Grade, 73, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that he was once invited to play at the Muirfield course in Scotland but the club abruptly refused his visit after apparently learning he was Jewish, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
Muirfield recently made headlines after its members voted to uphold a ban on women becoming members of the club.
“I steer clear of any clubs that have a reputation for being anti-Jewish,” Grade said.
The peer, who was director of the BBC from 2004 to 2006, recalled that he was invited by the late Sir William Brown, former chief of Scottish Television, to play golf at the course during the early 1980s.
“He rang me and said it was all fixed, and we had a tee time on a particular day,” Grade recalled. “I was really looking forward to it, obviously, because Muirfield is one of those courses that every golfer wants to play.”
“About a week or so later he rang again and said he needed to give them the name of my home club and my handicap, and I told him it was 17 and Coombe Hill.”
Coombe Hill, near Kingston in Surrey, was known for its predominantly Jewish membership, Grade explained.
“He rang back a day later and said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but as soon as I said Coombe Hill the invitation was withdrawn.'”

The radically flawed methodology of Freedom House
Only limited international media publicity has been given to the fact that the US-based watchdog organization Freedom House has recently downgraded the Israeli media scene from “free” to partly “free” in its 2016 report. At the same time, Israel as a country remains in the “free” category. One reason given for the downgrade was “due to the growing impact of Israel Hayom, whose owner-subsidized business model endangered the stability of other media outlets, and the unchecked expansion of paid content – some of it government funded – whose nature was not clearly identified to the public.” Israel Hayom, a free daily widely distributed in Israel, is owned by Sheldon Adelson, a wealthy American supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Other arguments given by Freedom House for the downgrading of the Israeli media scene included the “increasing use of unmarked advertising and branded content in major media outlets, including the most popular news website, Ynet.”
Netanyahu’s decision to serve as communications minister while simultaneously being prime minister was yet another reason given.
New York Times Raises Front-Page Alarm About Las Vegas Newspaper’s Zionist Owner
The internal machinations at a Las Vegas newspaper owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson are the subject of a front-page New York Times article that runs more than 2,300 words.
What does it all amount to? Some reporters and former reporters complaining about their editors and owners. As someone with experience in the newspaper business, I can tell you with a high degree of certainty that this is not news. That is what reporters and former reporters do — they complain about their editors and owners. It comes with the territory.
Why does it deserve front-page coverage in the New York Times, and at such extensive length?
Muslim Selfie Girl Returns To Twitter After Breitbart Expose: ‘I Meant Zionists, Not Jews!’
Muslim ‘selfie protester‘ Zakia Belkhiri returned to Twitter on Saturday afternoon after Breitbart London showed the world how the media-styled “inspiration” had a history of anti-Semitism.
Ms. Belkhiri, who media outlets worldwide styled as “defiant” and “inspiring”, was revealed to harbour anti-Semitic views after Dutch blog Geenstijl trawled through her old social media comments.
Far from the tolerant, moderate Muslim she was portrayed as Ms. Belkhiri tweeted “Hitler didnt kill all the jews, he left some. So we [would] know why he was killing them”.
At first, she argued that the screengrabbed tweets, Ask.fm comments, and Facebook posts had been “photoshopped”. But when she returned to Twitter this afternoon she announced: “my opinion many years ago was meant on the zionist back then, that spread hate instead of love so to all the other jews peace be upon you!”
But her explanation scarcely accounts for her attack on Hebrew as a language, of which she said “f#ck that Jewish language” and her comments about the extermination of Jewish people by German leader Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust and Second World War.
Rhode Island TV Station Laments Antisemitic Comments on Its Reportage of Swastika Graffiti Found at Rhode Island Jewish Studies Center
A social media post on the page of a Rhode Island TV station that reported on a swastika spray-painted at a Pawtucket synagogue was inundated with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish comments, one of the station’s reporters lamented on Twitter.
“Distressed to see our story about anti-semitism at a local synagogue is spurring anti-semitic comments on our Facebook page,” Steph Machado, a reporter for WPRI12, covering Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, tweeted on Sunday.
The report in question, was about a red swastika found on the sign of the Kollel Center for Jewish Studies, outside the only synagogue in Pawtucket.
According to the report, the president of the Orthodox congregation, David Pliskin, said worshipers include second-generation Holocaust survivors, who are particularly sensitive to Nazi symbols. “This is the kind of thing that makes your whole body roil inside if you’re a Jew,” he said. “It’s like someone trying to stab you in the heart again.”
Amsterdam to pay Jewish community for Holocaust survivor taxes
The city of Amsterdam will give its Jewish community $11 million as compensation for taxes imposed on Holocaust survivors who returned home to the Dutch capital following World War II.
Upon their return, according to an article in The Telegraph on Monday, the survivors were made to pay a tax because their homes were left empty during the Holocaust. They also had to pay back taxes for the years they had been taken away from the city, as well as insurance fees.
The taxes were discovered by a student in 2013, and that year, Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said the city should "put it right," according to The Telegraph. On Friday, the city said it would pay the $11 million -- an estimate of the total taxes paid by survivors following the war.
"Amsterdam has 5 million to 10 million euros in its coffers that it doesn’t want, and we have no right to it, so we want to give it back to the Jewish community to be used for important projects," a spokesman for the mayor said, according to the Telegraph. "Finding the individual people or their relatives would be very costly and complex, and that is not the idea.”
The city has suggested the money be put toward a Holocaust memorial monument or community programs.
Film scored by Eric Clapton depicts child of survivors’ three days in Auschwitz
Shortly before World War II came to a close in the spring of 1945, Eric Clapton was born. More than 71 years later, the rock legend has composed a score that revisits that tragic time in history.
The music serves as the soundtrack for a very personal documentary film co-produced by Clapton’s longtime friend, acclaimed French-Australian director Phillipe Mora.
Clapton, friends with Mora since 1967, also co-produced the film, entitled “Three Days in Auschwitz,” which revisits the fate of Mora’s family during the Holocaust. The film debuted in the UK last week. It will also appear at the New Horizons International Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland on July 24.
The soundtrack, which is contemplative and melodic, accompanies both black and white still images from the Shoah period as well as contemporary images shot in color — including many shots of the infamous barbed wire surrounding the extermination camp, and a collection of haunting images illustrated by Mora, a married father of three.
Subtitled “Cinematic Notes for my Grandchildren,” Mora narrates these words in a voice over: “We’re here to commemorate the people who died here.”
Thessaloniki: A magnificent synagogue revealed from the past
When members of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki entered the synagogue of Monastiriotes in Thessaloniki on Sunday, May 15, they encountered something different for the first time in over 70 years. The synagogue opened its doors for the community to celebrate two festive occasions: the 68th anniversary of independence of the State of Israel, and the completion of the complete restoration of this historic monument for the first time since it was built in 1927.
The synagogue was designed by Czech Jewish architect Eli Ernst Levi and funded by families that moved to Thessaloniki from Monastir, most prominent among which was the Aroesti family. After WWII, it is at this synagogue that the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust held their first meetings.
Pain and sorrow were mixed with the urgent task of rebuilding a community board and institutions, and reestablishing Jewish life in a city once counting more than 50,000 Jews among its population. Thessaloniki lost 96 percent of its Jews. The community lost people, but also its institutions, libraries, the ancient Jewish cemetery, nearly 60 synagogues and midrashim, and its central synagogue, Beth Shaul, which was destroyed by the Nazis following the deportation of the Jewish community in 1943.
Monastiriotes Synagogue was among the very few that survived WWII, thanks to the intervention of the Red Cross that used it as storehouse.
OrbiMed launches $307m fund for Israeli med-tech investments
On the eve of a major event highlighting Israel’s accomplishments in the medical technology industry, international healthcare venture capital venture firm OrbiMed announced Monday the closing of its second Israel-focused venture capital fund.
The fund, OrbiMed Israel Partners II, saw subscribers committing approximately $307 million. Investors include several of the world’s largest healthcare companies in addition to dozens of institutional investors and family offices.
OrbiMed is the world’s biggest VC investor dedicated exclusively to the healthcare sector, with over $15 billion in assets under management, investing in a wide array of companies through a range of vehicles – private equity funds, public equity funds, royalty/debt funds, and others. The firm started its activities in Israel in 2010, with the establishment of the OrbiMed Israel Partners fund, which closed at $222 million in 2011.
The first fund invested in 28 companies, with its biggest success the exit of its portfolio company eCam Biotherapeutics, which is developing cancer treatments. eCam was acquired by Merck in a deal worth more than $600 million.
Israeli VC State of Mind Ventures raises $75M first fund for early stage investments
In a release issued on Sunday, Israel’s State of Mind Ventures (SOM) announced the close of their first fund, bringing in a substantial $75 million in capital for their investments.
SOM was co-founded by Pinhas Buchris and Yuval Baharav in January of last year. Both men have long careers in tech and business. Baharav is a former partner at Sequoia and served as general manager for M&A, Strategy, and Corporate Development at Amdocs. For his part, Buchris came up through the IDF in the elite special forces unit Sayeret Matkal, serving as the youngest soldier at Entebbe. He studied computers at the Technion before coming back to command the 8200 Israeli intelligence cyber unit.
They began raising for their fund in September of last year, setting the $75 million goal as the amount needed to get their vision off the ground.
During that time, the pair and their CFO Nir Adler wasted no time in seeking out and funding early stage Israeli startups.
So far they have invested in four different ventures:
Israel, South Korea announce free trade talks
Israel and South Korea on Tuesday announced the opening of free trade talks, to commence in two months in Seoul.
In a meeting between Economy Ministry Director-General Amit Lang and South Korean Deputy Trade Minister Tae Hee Woo, the two discussed ways to increase trade specifically in the fields of high-tech, agriculture and industrial research and development, among others.
"A free trade agreement between Israel and South Korea will be a significant milestone in trade relations between the two countries and carry significant economic potential for them, as well as economic relations between Israel and Asian countries in general," Lang said.
In 2015, Israel and South Korean trade stood at $1.7 billion, including $578 million in Israeli exports to Korea.
Bob Dylan’s forgotten pro-Israel song, revisited
“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,” Bob Dylan sang in 1964’s “My Back Pages.”
Reverse-aging or no, the legendary Jewish folk singer turns 75 on Tuesday.
While Dylan’s Jewishness has been examined and reexamined over the years, relatively little attention has been paid to his 1983 song “Neighborhood Bully” — a rare declaration of full-throated Israel support by a mainstream American rocker.
The lyrics (posted in full here) equate Israel with an “exiled man,” who is unjustly labeled a bully for fending off constant attacks by his neighbors.
Dylan released the song on his second studio album, “Infidels,” in the wake of his brief born-again Christian phase during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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