Friday, May 27, 2016

From Ian:

Shmuley Boteach: J Street: For sale to the highest bidder
While never monolithic, the pro-Israel community has been mostly unified since Israel became independent. That has all changed since the emergence of J Street as a lobby that explicitly set out to challenge the establishment. The group claims it is pro-Israel, but it is fundamentally divisive and philosophically more in tune with the Arab lobby than the pro-Israel lobby.
This was most recently apparent when J Street decided to support President Obama’s catastrophic nuclear deal with Iran despite the opposition of both the Netanyahu government, the opposition Labor Party, and, according to the polls, approximately 80 percent of both the Israeli and American population.
Now we learn that its campaign to mislead Congress and the American public about the Iran deal was paid for by the Ploughshares Fund. Ironically, Ploughshares seeks to eliminate the world’s nuclear stockpiles and yet supported an agreement that encourages nuclear proliferation. The Fund paid J Street an astounding $576,500 – the equivalent of nearly one-third of the lobby’s entire 2014 budget — to help the Obama administration undermine Israel’s security.
According to deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, the Ploughshares Fund was a key partner in the campaign to recruit nongovernmental organizations, proliferation experts and “friendly” reporters to create an “echo chamber” to support the Iran deal. J Street’s executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami had numerous meetings with White House officials, including Rhodes, and the organization created a website, Iran Deal Facts, to echo the administration’s talking points. Blogger Elder of Zion described J Street succinctly as “nothing but a paid shill for the White House to split the U.S. Jewish community and put it at odds with how Israelis feel.”
The Iran case is just one example, however, of J Street’s malevolent influence.
Tariq Ramadan, Islam’s Goebbels
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with Georges Bensoussan, one of France’s most important scholars of the Holocaust. He told me that “Tariq Ramadan’s request for French nationality is a political provocation of the same nature as that used and abused by the Nazis against the Weimar democracy. It is the Islamist version of Nazi tactics of 1930-1932 years, when Goebbels said that the Weimar Republic had given the Nazis the weapons of its own defeat.”
Tariq Ramadan is Islam’s Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda. This Nazi official punctually arrived late at his own rallies: “It increases the tension”, Goebbels said. And to those who reproached him because he used a taxi, Goebbels replied: “You have no idea of what is propaganda. I would have to get two taxis, one for me and one for my bag.”
It was Goebbels’ idea to launch the Nazi appeal to the heart in order to manipulate public opinion. “The art of propaganda” he said, “consists precisely in the ability to solicit the public’s imagination with an appeal to the feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will attract attention and will touch the hearts of the masses of the nation.”
Joseph Goebbels was frail, slender, with a large head and a hollow face, a beautiful voice. People flocked to hear him, because he was able to instill in the public different feelings such as hysteria, hatred, enthusiasm. He knew how to use every means: books and films, radio and music, media and tourism. He conquered writers, philosophers, scientists, intellectuals. “It is nice to exercise power with guns, but wonderful is gaining power over the hearts and the brains,” Goebbels said.
This is exactly what Mr. Ramadan and other Islamists are doing today in Europe: the ferocious appeal to the Muslim masses, the manipulation of hatred and emotions through mosques and schools, the conquest of brains and hearts through televisions and rallies.
Dr. Goebbels and Dr. Ramadan also share the same goal: the submission of Europe. Yesterday to the Aryan race, today to Islam.
Sweden Choosing to Lose War against Middle East Antisemitism?
Who invited this "Salafist megastar," who denies the Holocaust and is known for making anti-Semitic statements, to visit Malmö? What do you do when anti-Semitism in Malmö, Sweden's third-largest city, is so normalized that children in a public school can endorse a conference with anti-Semitic elements?
Anti-Semitism is such a gigantic problem in Malmö that even senior city officials cannot understand how it became so normalized. They seem to dismiss it as part of a non-Swedish culture that, in a multicultural society, must be tolerated, even accommodated.
If there are children in Swedish public schools today who are promoting an anti-Semitic conference, what will these children do in the future?
Is Sweden really turning into a country where Jews are no longer welcome, someday to become a country without Jews? And if that happens, what does that say about Sweden? And who will come next after the Jews?

IsraellyCool: Know Your History: The Six Day War (Time Magazine June 16, 1967)
A series where I use history to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.
I have previously covered the Six Day War from the point of view of the New York Times in June 1967. Time Magazine from right after the war provides some additional insight.
The article captures the mood at the time: overwhelming support for the Jewish state in the US, with even groups – like leftist US Jews – who are nowadays no great friends of Israel being fully in support of her fight. Also made clear from the article:
- Israel was in great peril at the time and would not have fought had the Arab aggression (including blockading the Gulf of Aqaba) not taken place
- Nasser’s lies to strengthen support (some things have not changed)
- Israel’s shooting of the USS Liberty during the hostilities – a favorite of the neo Nazis and other haters – was an accident for which Israel apologized.
The Middle East needs to stop blaming Western imperialism for everything
The Middle East looks like it does today because of Western imperialism and Eastern imperialism, Arab nationalism and Jewish nationalism, Sunnis and Shias, secularism and fundamentalism, capitalism and communism; internationalism and isolationism.
Sitting around twiddling our thumbs looking for someone to blame as the root of all evil in the region is fun intellectually, but ultimately pointless. There comes a point where you have to say: well all that happened, but grievances have their limits don’t they?
Anti-Zionism is a variation on this theme, which conveniently airbrushes out the Ottomans from history: the Jewish Zionists were the imperialists, and there was no empire around here before they showed up!
Today, Syria is in turmoil as thousands flee barrel bombs and terror devices, and Iraq reels still from the past decade of conflict. More than ever, now is time to think rationally about the steps that the region needs to take in order to escape its cycles of doom.
Rejecting Islamist jihadi terrorism, accepting Jewish and Kurdish national autonomy, tolerating freedom of worship and conscience for Christians, atheists, and all types of Muslims, promoting democratic rights and building democratic systems of governance are a few practical steps that the Middle East can take.
The Middle East doesn’t need to liberate itself from Sykes-Picot; instead it needs to unburden itself from its navel-gazing, self-defeating “anti-imperialist” narrative that it has indulged for far too long.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Man Insists You Take Bible Literally So He Can Disprove Your Religion (satire)
Local computer technician David Borders knows your belief system is untenable because your holy scriptures can only be understood literally, area sources reported today.
Borders, 31, has concluded that the only acceptable approach to Biblical analysis is to take each sentence in its strictest translation and interpretation, and that any understanding that takes into account figurative language, metaphor, or poetic devices can be safely disregarded. The divorced father of one explained that since the easiest way to dismiss Bible-based faith is to show the inherent contradictions, ahistoricity, and unreliability of the text is to use only the most literal interpretation, it follows that Biblical literalism is the only valid approach.
“Don’t try to explain away the seven days of creation as some metaphor, or some non-literal use of the word ‘day,'” insisted Borders. “That’s a cop-out. Back in the day, nobody ever used ‘day’ to mean anything other than a twenty-four hour period.”
“And don’t go telling me it’s possible to look at the first two chapters of Genesis and say the conflicting accounts of creation don’t disprove the whole thing,” he added. “Since when is it possible to hold two conflicting ideas in one’s mind at the same time?” continued Borders, who continues to have a love-hate relationship with his ex-wife. “You’re just trying to confuse the issue if you adopt some pie-in-the-sky idea of using an existing idiom in the culture to convey a larger idea – you won’t even get to first base with me an approach like that.”
Let’s Take BDS to Court
The tactics of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement out to destroy Israel turn out to be in violation ‎of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is largely held in higher esteem than the Bible is in ‎Europe.
While this is hardly a surprise to those who still have their logical faculties intact, in the morally ‎skewed and ethically challenged world that our generation inhabits, it is unfortunately necessary to have ‎a court adjudicate that singling out the Jews — for the millionth time in world history — for discriminatory ‎and hostile treatment is not the humanitarian thing to do.‎
It was judges on the panel of a Spanish administrative court who ruled that boycotting Israel is not compatible with the ECHR, as well as being in violation of the Spanish constitution. ‎
The ruling came in a case brought before Administrative Law Court No. 1 of the city of Gijon recommending the ‎legal invalidation of four points of a resolution adopted on Jan. 13, 2016, by the Gijon city council. In ‎these points, Gijon is declared free of alleged “Israeli apartheid” and the city council undertakes to ‎introduce legal measures to prevent public procurement and to avoid entering agreements with ‎companies that allegedly violate international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In ‎addition, they also pledge that the city will cooperate with the BDS movement against Israel. ‎
The pro-Israeli group ACOM brought the case before the court. In its ruling, the court stated that the ‎boycott constitutes “infringement of the fundamental rights of equality and nondiscrimination on the ‎grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion, or convictions expressly proscribed by our constitution as well ‎as by international treaties.”‎
In huge blow to Israel, Netherlands declares BDS ‘free speech’
In a huge blow to Israel, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders announced Thursday that calls to boycott the Jewish state fall within the limits of free speech, undermining intensive Israeli diplomatic efforts to sway European capitals to outlaw the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement.
“Statements or meetings concerning BDS are protected by freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as enshrined in the Dutch Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights,” Koenders said Thursday during a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Dutch parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in The Hague.
He added that the Dutch government has explained to Israel that it opposes any boycott against it, but that BDS endorsement is a free speech issue. Sweden recently made a similar declaration.
His words came just two day after the State Comptroller charged Israel was losing the battle against BDS and delegitimization because of government disorganization and a lack of resources. Dutch Ambassador to Israel Gilles Beschoor Plug told The Jerusalem Post that Thursday’s decision did not reflect a change in government policy. “Supporting BDS by people in Holland is not illegal and therefore it falls within the limits of freedom,” the ambassador said.
Don’t Lose Focus
Now why is their cause “futile” when they continue to launch BDS campaigns, create walls out of plywood, and invite Hamas apologists to college campuses while the administration turns the other cheek? The answer is simple: They do not have the same resolve and the same patience as we do.
Let me explain. We waited over 2,000 years to return to our indigenous homeland after being expelled by the Romans. We spent over 2,000 years saying l’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim at the end of our holiest days. We underwent the harshest of circumstances, from Inquisition to HaShoah, only to remerge stronger and more determined than before. Yes, countless Jews lost their faith over that period of time, by force or by choice, but those who remained upheld their holy covenant to HaShem. We are the descendants of those who witnessed HaShem deliver the Ten Commandments and the Maccabean warriors who reclaimed Judea from the mighty Seleucids.
Are we stupid enough to let a minority of radical left activists redetermine our history and our destiny when it has outlived far greater and far worse powers of civilization?
The answer is no. Hell no.
As long as proud, self-determined Jews recognize our own history and our own place in this glorious history from King David to David Ben-Gurion, we will never experience defeat.
We are more patient and more ambitious than our enemies. Our resolve is far greater than anything they will ever comprehend.
We have the advantage, “anti-Zionists.” You will lose.
Surprise! Anti-BDS gift box coming straight to your front door
Omri Akunis is tired of hearing about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel, and the start-up he leads aims to counteract the movement.
“In recent years we witness ostracism by movements and countries which result in boycotting products manufactured in Israel,” Akunis said.
His solution? A gift box of Israeli products to be delivered right to your door.
Akunis co-founded the company iBox, which offers a blue-andwhite, made-in-Israel surprise box to its customers.
“It’s a surprise box,” explains Mai Hermann Akunis – another co-founder and Omri’s wife, “you get things that you don’t know but that are something you would need.”
In 2014, a trend of “surprise box” or “subscription box” companies began popping up, offering customers an unusual deal: For a subscription fee, they would receive a box each month with surprise contents. A health surprise box, for example, might arrive with different healthy snack foods every few weeks, or a “Barkbox” could surprise with different doggy toys.
Donor withholds $1m. from BGU over Breaking the Silence panel
A prominent British donor is withholding a $1 million donation from Ben Gurion University of the Negev to protest the school’s sponsorship of a conference that includes members of Breaking the Silence, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
British businessman Michael Gross, a longstanding member of the Beersheba university’s board of governors, explained his decision to withhold the donation in a letter to the Post.
“Next Monday, Ben-Gurion University will officially sponsor a conference by leading figures and supporters of Breaking the Silence. This is effectively financed by the Israeli government and ignorant foreign donors, but absolutely nothing is done about it,” he wrote.
BDS: Israel Supporters See Successes and Challenges With Protestant Churches
As support for Israel erodes in many Western countries, especially among liberals and the millennial generation, American-Christian backing for the Jewish state is considered one of the bulwarks against such trends. But not all Christians feel warmly about Israel. During the past several years, a number of leading mainline Protestant churches — including the United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church, and most recently the United Methodist Church (UMC) — have considered or voted on resolutions supporting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In May, at the Church’s quadrennial general conference in Portland, Ore., UMC committees rejected four resolutions that called for divestment from companies doing business in Israel, such as Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard.
“What happened at the UMC’s general conference is a miracle,” Dexter Van Zile, a Christian media analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), told
Van Zile praised the Methodist delegates for going a step further in their decision by voting to encourage UMC institutions “to disaffiliate with the US Committee to End the Occupation, a far-left anti-Israel agitprop organization that includes ISM (International Solidarity Movement) groups that condone violence against Israel and others that agitate for Israel’s destruction.”
Dalit Baum and BDS: Corporate Social Irresponsibility
In an interview earlier this month with The Forward, Dalit Baum, a leading Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement activist, boasted about an increased focus on corporate social responsibility — the idea that companies and investors ought to make decisions based on ethical principles beyond legal requirements and business interests. According to Baum, any company that profits from a business related to the Israeli occupation cannot claim to be socially and morally responsible, and therefore investors should remove them from their portfolios. Claiming altruism and impartiality, Baum declared that the same criteria for corporate responsibility are applied for every region in the world because “a human rights screen by definition is universal.”
In reality, however, Baum and anti-Israel BDS campaigners are attempting to manipulate the concept of corporate social responsibility to advance their highly discriminatory anti-Zionist ideology. Baum masks her single-minded agenda against Israel through loose language such as “universal human rights,” which, as seen through her actions, are far from universal.
Baum has been a longtime core leader of BDS. She co-founded the Israeli pro-BDS group “Who Profits,” and has also been associated with many virulent anti-Israel NGOs, such as in Boycott from Within, Zochrot, Anarchists Against the Wall, and Women in Black. Although Baum uses the language of morality and peace, her actions and involvement in these groups promote the demise of the Jewish state, not peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Student Protesters at UC Irvine Justify Violent Actions at Pro-Israel Campus Event Where They Shouted ‘All White People Need to Die’
Members of two prominent student groups who took part in a violent protest against a pro-Israel event at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) are attempting to justify their actions, following intense backlash and calls for legal action against them.
UCI’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) each released separate statements defending their sponsorship of and participation in the demonstration against a Student’s Supporting Israel (SSI) event featuring Israel Defense Forces (IDF) veterans and the screening of a movie about the army.
As The Algemeiner reported, anti-Israel students at UCI blockaded attendees. One female student was harassed and chased, to the point that she was forced to flee and take refuge inside a nearby building. Police were eventually called in, but allowed the protest to continue. Protesters shouted ,“Long live the intifada,” “f*** the police,” “displacing people since ‘48/ there’s nothing here to celebrate” and “all white people need to die.”
SJP said they were “wholly justified” in protesting the SSI event, because “the presence of the IDF, better known as Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), and police threatened our coalition of Arab, Jewish, Black, Latinx, API, undocumented, trans, and queer students and the greater activist community. Our demonstration was held to protest the presence of military and police forces on campus, which threaten the lives of Black and Brown people every day.”
Toronto Star Gives "Latitude" to Error
Canadian journalist Tony Burman, former head of Al Jazeera English, is a frequent contributor to the Toronto Star. With columns that often include scathing commentary about Israel and its supporters, his anti-Israel bias is hardly a secret.
(See, for example, "Should U.S. diplomats meet with Hamas leaders when conducting 'shuttle diplomacy' in the Middle East?"; "What has prompted Canada’s move against Iran?"; "Time for Canada, Israel to stop living in fantasy world"; "Israel’s Netanyahu drops his mask and reveals ugliness"; Netanyahu, his pants on fire, brings torch to Washington")
So it was no surprise that his recent column about the centennial of the Sykes-Picot agreement included an anti-Israel slur. Burman, however, went further than just opinion, including an obvious error when he referred to "Israel's continuing brutal occupation of Palestinian lands."
It is neither factual nor historical to refer to "Palestinian lands" because their status is disputed. While the Palestinians seek to establish an independent state on these territories, the lands never belonged to the Palestinians -- either before or after the Sykes-Picot agreement. As to the future disposition of the territories, it is to be determined in final negotiations between the two sides.
The BBC charity’s partnership with terror glorifying PA media
The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) is controlled by the Palestinian Authority and its television (PA TV) and radio (Voice of Palestine) stations are the PA’s official media channels.
As is regularly documented by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), both those stations have a long record of broadcasting material which negates Israel’s existence (including on children’s programmes), glorifies terrorism, spreads incitement, promotes antisemitic tropes and hate speech, propagates falsehoods about Israel and denies and distorts the Holocaust.
One might therefore assume that for organisations from liberal Western countries, the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation would not meet the required criteria for partnership on joint projects – but that is apparently not the case.BBC Media Action
The BBC’s international development charity ‘BBC Media Action’ is officially “legally, financially and operationally independent from the BBC” although according to its website, some of its trustees are also BBC employees. It does not receive funding from the licence fee “except through the provision of office space and a small donation from BBC World Service to support co-production of content with their language services” and the majority of its income is provided by DfID – the UK government’s Department for International Development.
Despite the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation’s record, BBC Media Action (in collaboration with licence fee funded BBC Arabic) began partnering it in 2012.
IsraellyCool: Foreign Media Union’s Overreaction
Foreign media union slams begins one headline after an incident involving security for a private meeting between PM Benjamin Netanyahu and visiting French PM Manuel Valls in Jerusalem, Israel on Monday.
Long Facebook threads are blasting Israeli security for not honoring an FPA photographer’s GPO (Government Press Office) press pass. The media is reacting, way over reacting, in my opinion.
I use my GPO press pass often. The weather has to be really, really bad for me to wear boots to Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s House.
I have learned the hard way that my new boots set off the metal detectors. And no matter how many times I have been there, I have to go into the little room, sit down and take off offending boots and wait while they are scanned. I hate it. It is not fun to be searched, over and over. I have watched visiting women from the US go through the same ordeal. I have even apologized to guests for extreme security measures. It is embarrassing.
Every piece of photography equipment, small batteries and wires are put through x-ray machines, as are bags, with wallets and batteries removed. I have dozens of photos of the floor, proving my camera is really a camera.
And all that is simple and nothing like when the Prime Minister is involved!
Self-described anti-Semitic German pastor resigns from interfaith position
A culmination of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents has resulted in the resignation of the Protestant Church’s representative for dialogue with religious communities in the city of Bremen.
As the furor grew over Pastor Volker Keller’s public anti-Semitism, he announced his resignation on Thursday from Bremen’s Council of Integration. “My remarks have so unsettled the trust in my work as the representative for dialogue that I no longer want to cause lasting damage to this office and resign from my position,” said Keller in a statement sent to the media by Sabine Hatscher, the spokeswoman for the Protestant church in Bremen (BEK).
Keller and the church desperately tried to defuse the Jew-hatred row by claiming his words were meant as sarcasm.
In an April email to The Jerusalem Post, Keller praised a lecture—widely viewed as anti-Semitic—in his church community building held by an anti-Israel extremist who advocated a boycott of the Jewish state: “Yesterday evening the anti-Semite Arn Strohmeyer delivered a lecture to me... Best wishes to Israel, Yours truly, Volker Keller, anti-Semite,” wrote Keller.
German police probe Britons’ ‘Hitler salute’ at Buchenwald
The head of the Buchenwald Memorial site on Thursday blamed growing right-wing populism in Europe for an incident in which members of a British neo-Nazi group appear to have performed a “Hitler salute” at the former concentration camp.
German daily Bild reported that a picture posted on a social media site linked to the group National Action showed a blurry image of two people holding the far-right group’s flag, their right arms raised in salute. The photo was posted on the group’s Twitter page. It seems to have been removed.
The picture had the caption “Execution Room @ Buchenwald 2016,” and “Meat Hooks,” with an arrow pointing to hooks on the ceiling used to hang victims of the Nazis.
The Buchenwald Memorial Foundation said it filed a criminal complaint to police after being informed of the picture.
PBS to air film of American couple that defied Nazis
PBS will air a film in September about an American couple that spent two years rescuing Jews in Europe before and after the start of World War II, made by the couple’s grandson with documentarian Ken Burns.
The 90-minute film, scheduled to air Sept. 20, tells of Unitarian minister Waitstill Sharp and his wife, Martha. The Wellesley, Massachusetts, couple helped save hundreds of people in 1939 and 1940, risking imprisonment and death if discovered by the Nazis.
Burns called it “one of the most incredible tales of compassion, sacrifice and heroism” he’d heard of, and was unaware of them until the Sharps’ grandson, Artemis Joukowsky, told him. Joukowsky has written a companion book that will be out Sept. 6.
Tom Hanks provides the voice of Waitstill Sharp in the film.

Israeli Anti-Suicide Drug Shows Promise
NeuroRx, an Israeli start-up that is developing a treatment for depression, is the most innovative life science start-up in Israel, according to judges and attendees of the IATI-Biomed event in Tel Aviv this week.
The company recently successfully completed a Phase II trial for its Cuclurad, a drug based on a molecule called D-cycloserine, which targets the brain’s NMDA receptor rather than the traditional serotonin pathway.
NeuroRx was chosen out of dozens of companies that participated at the conference’s startup competition and met the required criteria, including addressing an unmet medical need. The panel of judges of the startup competition included an all-star lineup of top life science experts, who chose the technology developed by the company as one that could help doctors more successfully treat depression and suicide.
Trouble falling asleep? Israeli start-up has the answer
Israeli medical device company 2breathe Technologies has developed a system that both helps users fall asleep and tracks their sleeping patterns, all without the use of pharmaceuticals.
“Tracking sleep is nice, inducing sleep is better,” said Erez Gavish, co-founder and CEO of the company.
Users wear a small sensor around their torso held in place by an elastic strap. The device, which sells for $180 with a 60-day guarantee, monitors breathing patterns by detecting pressure on the sensor as users inhale and exhale, and the information is relayed to a smartphone using Bluetooth. The 2breathe app guides clients toward relaxing breathing patterns using customized musical tones. It combines the “ancient wisdom” of therapeutic breathing with modern, cloud-based technology, Gavish said.
Elton John Semi-Dedicates ‘Your Song’ To Israel
At a rapturously received show in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park on Thursday night, Elton John semi-dedicated his first hit, “Your Song,” to Israel and told the crowd there could have been “no nicer place” for him to open his eight-week European tour.
In an era when performers are routinely pressured by anti-Israel boycott activists not to come here, John — who last played in Israel in 2010 — said he and the band were “very happy to be back in Israel.”
Some 40,000 people gathered on warm early summer evening for the show, at which Sir Elton, 69, played a 27-song set featuring most of his classics as well as three cuts from this year’s “Wonderful Crazy Night” album.
He pumped his fists with joy and enthusiasm at the end of most songs, gave out plenty of “thank you”s and “love you”s, and took no breaks during the two-hour-plus show.
At the end of “Your Song,” about two-thirds of the way through the set, he told the crowd, “That’s Your Song, Israel” (at 3:42 in the video below). This was a sweet touch given that the lyrics include lines such as “My gift is my song and this one’s for you,” and “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.” John has similarly addressed this song, on previous tours, to the cities in which he was playing.

Israeli Catholic wins first ‘Miss Trans Israel’ pageant
‘I’m proud to be an Israeli Arab,’ says Ta’alin Abu Hanna, 21, from Nazareth. ‘If I had been in Palestine or in any other Arab country, I might have been in prison or murdered’
An Israeli from a Catholic Arab family was crowned the winner of the country’s first transgender pageant.
Ta’alin Abu Hanna, 21, from the northern city of Nazareth, wore a white bridal dress as she was declared the first “Miss Trans Israel” on Friday at HaBima, Israel’s national theater, in Tel Aviv.
She described her victory as “historic” and said it promotes equality.
She will represent Israel at the Miss Trans Star International pageant in Spain in August — the first time an Israeli will participate.
Israeli Cancer Comedy Wins Cannes Prize
Two Israeli filmmakers took home prizes at the Cannes Film Festival this week. Or Sinai, a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem, and Asaph Polonsky, who was born in the U.S. but raised in Israel, pocketed rave reviews for their works.
Polonsky’s debut film, One Week and a Day, tells the story of a husband (played by Shai Avivi) and wife (Evgenia Dodina) and the different ways of coping with the death of their 25-year-old son. While the wife returns to her routine, the husband gets high with a young neighbor and sets out to discover that there are still things in his life worth living for. It won the Critics’ Week Award, and was picked up by the studio Oscilloscope Laboratories.
“One Week and a Day is that unassuming gem, the black sheep of the Cannes lineup, that just sticks with you and makes you realize that a film doesn’t need to be three hours long and can also feel comfortable making you laugh, and yet it still fits into the slate of the most prestigious film festival in the world. Asaph is an incredible talent and this is just the start of what will surely be a long and accomplished career,” said Oscilloscope’s Dan Berger.
One Week and a Day received a standing ovation at its official screening at Cannes, and also won the GAN Foundation Award and a $22,000 cash prize.

Empire State Building Will Shine Blue and White for ‘Celebrate Israel Parade’
The Empire State Building will shine blue and white on June 5 — mirroring the colors of the Israeli flag — for the annual Celebrate Israel Parade and festival in New York City, Israel National News reported.
“We are thrilled that this year, in addition to the parade, we are presenting many opportunities for Jewish New Yorkers to celebrate and demonstrate our collective support for Israel,” said Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York, which is hosting the annual parade alongside the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
The parade calls itself “the largest demonstration of support for Israel in the world.”
On June 5, more than 250 organizations will march from 57th Street to 74th Street along Fifth Avenue in New York, with TV host Kathie Lee Gifford leading the parade as honorary grand marshal.
Spelling bee champ nails obscure Yiddish word
The final of the nation’s most prestigious spelling bee took a Yiddish turn Thursday night.
Scripps National Spelling Bee finalist Jairam Hathwar, a 13-year-old from Corning, New York, was asked to spell the word “chremslach” in the ultimate rounds of the competition.
Not up on your Yiddish and wondering what the word means? You probably aren’t alone. Chremslach are small, flat fried matzah meal cakes traditionally eaten by Jews during the Passover holiday.
Mazel tov to Jairam, who spelled the word correctly and went on to be crowned spelling bee co-champion, along with Nihar Janga, an 11-year-old boy from Austin, Texas. (After 39 rounds, the contest ended in a tie for the third consecutive year.)

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