Thursday, September 14, 2017

From Ian:

Samantha Power’s Quest for Self-Absolution
People who served in the Obama administration are raiding the repositories of Holocaust memory, seeking Syrian absolution.

Earlier this month came a Holocaust Museum computational “study” that purported to prove that it was “very difficult from the beginning for the U.S. government to take effective action to prevent atrocities in Syria, even compared with other challenging policy contexts.” The study concluded that a more forceful American intervention wouldn’t have improved the situation and might have made things worse.

The museum suspended the project and scrubbed the “findings” from its website following an exposé in Tablet. It wasn’t lost on anyone that this episode came after three Obama National Security Council alumni were appointed to the museum’s Memorial Council and two others joined its staff.

Now comes Samantha Power’s tribute to Elie Wiesel in the Forward. The essay is excerpted from the former U.N. envoy’s introduction to a new edition of Wiesel’s harrowing Holocaust memoir, Night. Hers is a far more sophisticated exercise in self-absolution than the Holocaust Museum’s algorithmic shenanigans. But it is self-absolution all the same. The giveaway is that Power makes no attempt at applying Wiesel’s lessons to recent events in Syria.

The theme of Power’s essay is moral witness. “It can be hard to imagine that there was a time when the prevailing wisdom was not to bear witness,” Power asserts. “But that is precisely what it was like when Elie was writing.” The word “witness” and the phrase “bearing witness” appear five times in Power’s brief piece. Wiesel spoke out, she writes, when others—publishers, journalists, even survivors—preferred to forget or remain silent.

This is an obvious, almost banal point. Of course Wiesel bore witness! But his witness to Nazi evil had a future-tense moral purpose: to help counter other mass murderers and totalitarians. Wiesel campaigned for refuseniks trapped behind the Iron Curtain. He implored Bill Clinton to act in Bosnia. And most recently, he compared the Syrian regime and its Iranian patrons with the Nazis, asking: “How is it that Assad is still in power?” Wiesel didn’t just remember historical crimes; he decried contemporary inaction.

Samantha Power, by contrast, legitimized inaction. Having built her journalistic reputation examining America’s failure to stop mass murder in the 20th century, Power ended up lending moral cover to the Obama administration’s bystander policy on Syria (“Bystanders to Genocide” was the title of Power’s career-making 2001 Atlantic magazine report on the Clinton administration’s response to Rwanda). At the U.N., Power denounced Bashar Assad and his backers in Moscow and Tehran. But she refused to do the one honorable thing that might have jolted the Obama administration out of its moral torpor: resign.
Alan Dershowitz: Berkeley must defend Ben Shapiro's right to speak
I vividly recall the famous "free speech" movement at Berkeley several decades ago. The hard left demanded the right to express radical, often obnoxious, views on campus. Some on the hard right sought to ban these hard left expressions. Free speech prevailed.

Now it is the hard right that is demanding the right to make provocative speeches on campus and it is elements of the hard left that are trying to censor them.

But there is no symmetry in the means used to silence opponents. Today's hard left, led by Antifa and other radical and anarchistic gangs, do not shrink from the threat or use of violence to silence speakers with whom they disagree. These unlawful tactics have prevailed and several right wing speakers were forced to cancel their scheduled appearances on the Berkeley campus. This time free speech is losing.

Now there is a test case: Ben Shapiro, a thoughtful conservative with whose views I often personally disagree, is not merely a provocateur, as some other extreme right speakers are. These provocateurs come to campuses not so much to educate as to provoke responses. Although deliberately provocative speech is as constitutionally protected as other kinds of offensive expression, it is easy to understand why some administrators, faculty and students object to being used as part of what they regard as staged political theater deliberately designed to create conflict.

Ben Shapiro is different. He has something substantively important to share with the Berkeley academic community. If I were on that campus, I would want to listen to what he has to say, despite my disagreement with many of his views.

Yet there are those on the hard left who would stop me and others from hearing him. They cannot be allowed to do that.

PALLYWOOD Lethal Media in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Professor Richard Landes speaks with World Jewish Congress about 'Pallywood,' fake news to paint Israel as a monster.

Melanie Phillips: The dismaying trajectory of the American Jewish community
Please join me in this clip below as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network the dismaying trajectory of the American Jewish community, the majority of which is now on the wrong side of the war for civilisation.

The Anti-Israel Voices in the Trump Administration Need to Go. Now.
Still, none of this should be surprising. McMaster has purged all pro-Israel appointees from the NSC who supported Trump’s campaign agenda. Likewise, as Conservative Review’s Jordan Schachtel wrote last month, officials told Conservative Review that McMaster “constantly refers to the existence of a Palestinian state before 1947,” and that he describes Israel as “illegitimate” and an “occupying power.”

Schachtel also wrote that McMaster referred to the Israeli move to place security cameras on the Temple Mount in July as “just another excuse by the Israelis to repress the Arabs.” Back in May, McMaster also blatantly refused to state that the Western Wall is a part of Israel and didn’t even want Trump to visit the Western Wall on his trip to Israel.

But the anti-Israel voices come from other places too, such as the State Department, specifically Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Like McMaster, Tillerson also refused to state that the Western Wall is in Jerusalem, while telling reporters on Air Force One that they were heading to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.” He also has stated that settlements in Judea and Samaria were a “challenge” to the peace process.

It gets worse. In July, the State Department released its annual global terrorism report, which blamed Israel for Palestinian terrorism. It virtually looked like the report from the Obama administration’s State Department the year before, devoting more than 3,900 words to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Knesset Deputy Speaker Calls For Center of Jewish History CEO to be Fired
As Truth Revolt first revealed last week, the incoming CEO of the Center for Jewish History in New York David N. Myers supports a boycott of Israel. And in response, Israeli Member of Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, who serves as Deputy Speaker, advocated that Myers be fired, with a statement which commended the institute for its great work, yet noted “those involved in leadership positions with organizations that are no friends of Israel should be precluded from positions with Jewish organizations.” He references Myers as an active leader of New Israel Fund, J Street, If Not Now When, and Jewish Voices For Peace.

In an expose today in The Jewish Press, the largest Jewish newspaper in America, it was revealed that “Myers serves as a leader of the Academic Advisory Council of Scholars for Israel and Palestine, an organization which defines itself as “Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-Peace.” Among the viewpoints it espouses is “A central obstacle to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the continuing occupation of the West Bank,” and that UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted in the wake of Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War, requires an end to all Israeli “occupation” (including the Western Wall).

Most shockingly, according to Haaretz, the organization which Mr. Myers is a leader of calls on “the U.S. government and European Union to impose personal sanctions on four prominent Israelis including Economy Minister and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Housing Minister Uri Ariel, and Likud MK Moshe Feiglin.”

If Mr. Myers’ organization has its way, then Israeli governmental leaders would not be able to obtain visas, would have their assets frozen, and would face personal international sanctions. Along these lines, Myers signed an online petition in which he called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “a war criminal,” and for him to be brought to the Hague. Among Sharon’s "crimes," according to the petition Myers signed, is “his rejection of the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their original homes and lands.”(Myers has elsewhere suggested a necessity for the Palestinian right of return.)

So, at the Center for Jewish History, its leader advocates a boycott and sanctions against Israel. There’s a lot wrong with that narrative.
Rockefeller Brothers Fund finances Jewish Voice for Peace as it launches new anti-Israel campaign
For years, BDS proponents on U.S. campuses have insisted that the academic boycott of Israel is only aimed at institutions of higher learning, and not at individual academics or students.

The claim was always disingenuous—it’s not possible to target a university for boycott without also negatively impacting the faculty, students and staff who study and work there.

But, as we noted in a prior post, the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)—a key component to BDS—has long endorsed boycotts of students and scholars, even providing a handy list of suggested strategies for doing so, like refusing to read Israeli graduate student research proposals or write letters of reference for Israeli professors going up for promotion.

Still, for a long time most BDS supporters adopted these boycott measures in secret. What emerged were stealth boycotts—a variety of discriminatory practices being employed against Israeli academics which, unlike noisy disruptions of speakers that can be captured on video and posted to YouTube, are much more difficult to uncover and prevent.

But there’s nothing at all secretive about JVP’s latest BDS campaign.

It openly and brazenly targets a popular college study abroad program. The goal of “Return the Birthright” is to stop American Jewish students from participating in a rewarding educational opportunity that enables them to engage with students and their peers overseas.
Jewish Voice for Peace Ramps Up Attacks on Israel With Support of Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Two efforts to erode American support for Israel have been launched over the last six months by the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) with financial backing from the prominent Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), The Algemeiner has learned.

Through its new #ReturnTheBirthright campaign, JVP is urging Jewish young adults to forgo a free, 10-day educational tour of Israel with Taglit-Birthright, “because it is fundamentally unjust that we are given a free trip to Israel, while Palestinian refugees are barred from returning to their homes.” Since its inception in 1999, Birthright has sent some 500,000 Jewish youths to Israel, with support from the Israeli government, the Jewish Federations of North America, and individual donors.

JVP’s latest initiative — kicked off as college students started their fall semester and registration opened for Birthright’s winter tours — came not long after the group rolled out its controversial “Deadly Exchange” effort in April. That campaign partially blamed cooperation between American and Israeli law enforcement officials for “discriminatory and repressive policing” against people of color in both countries, and condemned “US-based Jewish organizations” for “making this deadly exchange possible.”

The charge was strongly denounced by the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights group that sends senior US security officials to Israel for counter-terrorism training. The ADL noted that JVP used “language to describe American Jewish organizations that veers uncomfortably close to age-old antisemitic canards about Jews using their influence to undermine the societies of the countries in which they live.”
Dozens of Groups Praise UC-Irvine for Disciplining Notorious Anti-Israel Group SJP, Prioritizing Free Speech and Student Safety
Fifty-four organizations commended the chancellor of University of California-Irvine on Tuesday for placing his school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on probation after it disrupted an event hosted by pro-Israel students earlier this year.

The May 10 panel — organized by a local chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and featuring young Israeli veterans — was interrupted by some 40 protesters who shouted incendiary chants, including “Israel, Israel what do you say, how many kids have you killed today?” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The protesters blocked the room’s main exit to the building and event participants eventually had to be escorted out with police protection.

After interviewing several witnesses and reviewing video evidence, the university concluded that the SJP members’ behavior violated the student code of conduct. The group has a history of using threatening tactics to derail events on campus, and was consequently placed on probation until June 16, 2019, though it is appealing the decision.

In a letter to UC-Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman, dozens of faith, education and civil rights groups — representing hundreds of thousands of supporters — praised the university for disciplining SJP, which they said “intentionally suppressed the freedom of speech, assembly and association of Jewish and pro-Israel students on your campus.”
NYU Student-Made Handbook Focuses on Israel in Guide to ‘Destructive Things NYU Is Complicit With’
A New York University student-made handbook purporting to "demystify the systems of power behind our University" devoted a large portion of its content to the school's connections with Israel.

In the 50-page "NYU Disorientation Guide"—which "focus[es] on the most destructive things NYU either perpetuates or is complicit with," according to the anonymous authors—Israel is mentioned 55 times. That's more than the number of references to "Trump," "alt-right," "racism," "fascism," "white supremacy," and "socialism" combined.

"Despite the diversity of its content, this guide had a few broad themes that unite many of the articles: NYU behaving like a multi-national corporation and 21st century colonial power, entrenching white supremacy and hetero-patriarchy with institutionalized violence, and enslaving its students with backbreaking debt," reads the introduction.

Of the "radical" campus groups highlighted, two—Students for Justice in Palestine and NYU Jewish Voice for Peace—are chapters of organizations dedicated to the elimination of Israel as a Jewish State. The International Socialist Organization notes its anti-Israel stance in its profile and the Democratic Socialists of America, also on the list, passed a pro-boycott, divestment, and sanctions resolution this summer.

NYU is accused of having "myriad racist, Zionist, and homophobic policies" and its satellite campus in Tel Aviv is called one of the university's "imperial projects" through which it is guilty of "complicity in [Israel's] violence."
U. Maryland Investigating Termination of Pro-Israel Professor
The non-renewal of a longtime University of Maryland professor's contract is being investigated by the school's Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct as an incident of retaliation and "religious, political, or national origin discrimination," the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Melissa Landa, an assistant clinical professor at the College of Education for more than 10 years who also did her Phd at UM, was let go this summer by the Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership department chair and associate chair, Francine Hultgren and John O'Flahavan.

The contract non-renewal came after Landa filed a complaint in February with the grievance board challenging Hultgren and O'Flahavan's decision to remove her from the language arts instruction team in May 2016, according to a recent report by UM's the Diamondback.

According to Kenneth Waltzer, executive director of the Academic Engagement Network—an academic free speech group whose inaugural conference Landa spoke at in May and of which she is an active member—Landa was targeted for her pro-Israel activism.

"Long before she filed a grievance, she was aggrieved," he said. "I know that when they learned she was active outside the department on behalf of opposing wacko ideas about Israel, their attitude toward her changed."
Israeli Embassy Condemns ‘Antisemitic Nature’ of Boycott Conference at Dublin’s Trinity College
The Israeli Embassy in Dublin denounced on Wednesday “the antisemitic nature” of a conference on academic boycotts of the Jewish state that was held at Trinity College in the Irish capital earlier this week.

The two-day event, titled “Freedom of Speech and Higher Education: The Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel,” featured speakers including Steven Salaita, a Palestinian-American academic who once tweeted that Zionists were “transforming ‘antisemitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

Salaita defended that tweet and others during his keynote speech on Monday, and further accused Israel of implementing a “systematic, deliberate program of ethnic cleansing” and going on a “killing spree” in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. He also emphasized that the ideal of academic freedom should not take precedence over pro-Palestinian activism.

Orli Weitzman — deputy ambassador at the Israeli Embassy in Dublin — told The Algemeiner in response to the event that she was “concerned that a universal value such as freedom of speech has been hijacked in order to promote hatred and discrimination. The keynote speaker and the agenda reveals the antisemitic nature of this conference.”

“We are confident that the nature of this conference does not reflect the views of the majority of students or staff at Trinity College nor that of the Irish government and the Irish people,” she added.
IsraellyCool: Sunnyvale 5th Graders Taught on 9-11 That Israel ‘Belonged to the Muslims’
On September 11 itself, the 5th grade of Louis E. Stocklmeir Elementary School in Sunnyvale, California (Cupertino Union School District), had a lesson about 9/11 – probably like many other schools in the US (hat tip: Club Z).

Except this is what they learned (verified from a parent of one of the kids at the school):

Quite the simplistic narrative – and false.

While it is strictly true that Bin Laden did blame US support for Israel, stating that the land belonged to Muslims before Israel was Jewish is wrong and irresponsible. It ignores our indigenous status in the land dating back thousands of years – way before the Islamic conquest in the 7th century – and even the fact the land legally belonged to the British (not the Muslims) before it legally became Jewish in 1948.

This narrative also paints Bin Laden more as a justice seeker than evil terrorist. Especially in the young minds of 5th graders.

This is irresponsible and disturbing.
IsraellyCool: Palestinian Students Scholarship Fund Did Not Get The BDS Memo
This is definitely BDS fail of the day. Probably the week. Maybe the year.

The Palestinian Students Scholarship Fund was formed by six Chicago-based Palestinian Americans interested in supporting students who would not otherwise have access to higher education due to financial hardships or significant restraints. The founding members of the fund came together with the apolitical mission of creating opportunities for bright young men and women seeking advanced degrees as a means to better themselves, their families, and their communities.

Realizing the need to partner with an institution not only dedicated to the highest caliber of academic excellence but also one providing an inclusive and accepting environment for its students, faculty and staff, the group focused on University of Haifa. The city of Haifa has a considerable Palestinian-Israeli population. Within the community there are a number of financially challenged students, many who have large families and minimal income or whose parents have medical challenges or limitations and are unable to work. The synergy between the funders, the university and the city of Haifa proved to be a natural fit.

So not only are they deliberately partnering with an Israeli university, but they are doing so because they recognize its inclusive and accepting environment, flying in the face of the bogus “apartheid” claims of BDS
Pro-Israel Groups Set to Protest Roger Waters Concert in Brooklyn
A 15-foot inflatable Pinocchio doll will be set up Tuesday night outside of Brooklyn's Barclays Center to protest English rock musician Roger Waters' longtime support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

The move is part of a campaign by two pro-Israel organizations, StandWithUs and Artists 4 Israel, to follow the Pink Floyd singer to venues around the United States as he continues his "US+Them" international tour. The groups, and their Pinnochio, set up outside Newark's Prudential Center when Waters played there on Sept. 7.

In addition to the Pinnochio, the organizations also deploy a van to roam the streets surrounding the concert venue that holds a billboard declaring, "Roger Waters, Don't Need Your Hate and Censorship Against Israel."

Volunteers from Artists4Israel, which brings graffiti artists to college campuses to paint pro-Israel murals, spray paint t-shirts with a similar line on the back, and messages such as "Be Free" and "Stay Humble" on the front.

At his New Jersey performance, the organizations brought and distributed some 300 shirts to Waters' audience members as they headed into the venue.
Indy journo who legitimised 9/11 truther writes new article warning of conspiracy theorists
An article written by Independent Middle East correspondent Bethan McKernan focused on a fake news story coming out of Lebanon that Hezbollah had kidnapped top-ranking Mossad agents. The report (“How fake news in the Middle East is a powder keg waiting to blow”, Sept. 11th) was contextualised thusly in the opening paragraph:

Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon in the Middle East. Many governments and influential organisations in the region – if not all of them – have long thrived on the power of disinformation and propaganda, which not only confuses enemies but keeps citizens in a state of pliant uncertainty…..The impact the new fake news ecosystem could have when the Middle East’s appetite for half-truths meets increasingly sophisticated methods of spreading political disinformation, however, are not yet known – and could have devastating consequences.

Yes, Middle East conspiracy theories are indeed toxic, and those who promote such views should never be legitimised.

In fact, if you recall, back in March we posted about an Independent article by the same journalist on Donald Trump’s White House invitation to Mahmoud Abbas, a piece highlighting the ‘analysis’ of someone named Ralph Schoenman, who she characterised as a “leading academic” and author of a “highly influential” book on Zionism.

However, Schoenman, we revealed, is not so much a ‘leading academic’ as he is a fringe extremist, 9/11 conspiracy theorist and fraudulent scholar who erroneously claimed that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis to murder millions of Jews.
Vox "Explanatory Journalism" Continues to Misinform Readers About Israel
Perhaps most unforgettable was the charge, by Vox senior reporter Zack Beauchamp, that Israel limits Palestinian traffic on the bridge connecting West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It was an imagined affront, as it must be when speaking about an imagined bridge. There is not, and never has been, such a span linking the territories.

Vox's fantastical Middle East — home of the region's longest bridge, of false fatality statistics, where Jews only recently discovered Hebron — continues to develop, with several new inventions relayed in an August 31 episode of Vox's Worldly podcast.

Foreign editor Yochi Dreazen, for example, told listeners that the Gaza Strip was once controlled by the Kingdom of Jordan. It never was. (He corrected this error in a subsequent episode of the podcast, though he insisted the error was "nuanced," because Jordan "in a technical sense" didn't control Gaza.)

Dreazen also told listeners that Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman is currently Israel's foreign minister. He is the defense minister.

Finally, the Vox editor erred twice when referring to "Israeli hospitals inside some of these settlements that are the top tier — you know, these are as good as American hospitals" and claiming about the hospitals that "Palestinians can't go into them."

While there are certainly clinics and other medical care facilities in the settlements, there are no real hospitals (let alone world-class hospitals). And Palestinians are not barred from these clinics.
Pope Francis snubs group fighting anti-Semitism
The Vatican canceled a scheduled meeting between a delegation of Israeli academics and philanthropists with Pope Francis in Rome on Wednesday. The delegation was sent by the Institute for the Study of Global anti-Semitism and Policy to a conference on anti-Semitism and minority rights in the Middle East, held from Sept. 13 to 15.

Even though Vatican officials refused to allow the delegation to meet the pope, claiming the meeting was not approved by Vatican protocol, they permitted a meeting with former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who came to the conference as one of the speakers. During the meeting, the ISGAP delegates were forced to endure the snub outside.

Delegation members included academics such as Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Dr. Sergio Della Pergola and MK Dr. Anat Berko (Likud).

Berko said that "it feels odd that in a conference dealing with anti-Semitism, a planned meeting with the pope doesn't take place because of stories about protocol."
Jewish Trump ally hounded online as ‘Nazi’ after Charlottesville
Billionaire investor Steve Schwarzman, who served on a business council for President Donald Trump, said he received hundreds of emails calling him a Nazi following the march by white supremacists in Charlottesville.

Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of the Blackstone Group, said in a speech Tuesday in New York that Trump’s business councils, including the Strategic and Policy Forum he chaired, folded after members came under pressure in the wake of the Virginia demonstration in support of Confederate statues.

“People were under legitimate astonishing pressure,” he said Tuesday at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference. “It was pretty clear that the country itself felt like it was going out of control. We decided there was too much pressure for too many people all running public companies.”

Schwarzman said that shareholders and employees pressured the CEOs to cut their ties with Trump.

“You should’ve seen some of the mail I got,” Schwarzman said. “I was accused by people of being a Nazi. I mean I’m Jewish. It was absurd.”
NY man arrested for anti-Semitic email over Confederate monument
A White Plains, New York, man was arrested for allegedly sending and anti-Semitic-laced email to the Greenburgh town supervisor.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner had been pushing to remove a monument to Confederate soldiers in a private cemetery on the town. At the beginning of the month he backed off his request to remove the obelisk-shaped monument in Mount Hope Cemetery, saying he had come to view it as a symbol of reconciliation rather than of the Confederacy or white supremacy, the Journal News reported.

Timothy Goetz sent the hate mail last month prior to Feiner’s walk-back.

Goetz was arrested on Wednesday charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime, a felony.

“While we respect everyone’s right to free speech, this was clearly a case where that line was crossed,” Greenburgh Police Chief Chris McNerney said in a statement. “We want to send a message that such hate filled threats will be fully investigated and those responsible will be brought to justice.”
UK couple who whipped, cursed Jews get off with just $580 fine
A ruling by a London court has the local Jewish community up in arms, after a couple involved in an anti-Semitic attack this summer was freed and forced to pay only a small fine, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

The couple – both natives of Poland now living in London – pleaded guilty to three counts of racially aggravated assault at the Thames Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.

The charges stemmed from an attack on guests at a wedding in London in July.

During the incident, which took place outside of the Kehal Yetev Lev Synagogue, the Winiarskis attacked two guests and a driver while hurling anti-Semitic epithets.

According to prosecutors, Kasimiersz Winiarski shoved David Tangy, a driver for several of the wedding guests.

“The complainants were waiting in the car park at the venue as they were doing the transfer for guests for a Jewish wedding ceremony,” said prosecutor Demi Ugurtay.

“The two defendants came along, it's stated that Mr. Winiarski slammed the door on one of the Jewish driver's car, and then pushed him.”

Ineta Winiarski, who was walking the couple’s dog, then approached Ben Herbst, one of the guests, and whipped him with the dog’s leash while screaming “F***ing Jew”.
Australia Day Cancelled: Socialist Politician Says Marking National Day ‘Like Celebrating the Nazi Holocaust’
Marking Australia Day is like celebrating the Holocaust, a Melbourne politician said as her council scrapped a holiday it deemed offensive to Aboriginal people, in a move the government on Thursday labelled “extreme and divisive”.

The council in the Melbourne suburb of Moreland became the third in Victoria state to decide not to recognise Australia Day.

The annual holiday, on January 26, commemorates the arrival of the country’s first British settlers in 1788 and is a time when citizenship ceremonies are held.

But it is termed “Invasion Day” by many indigenous Australians who say it marks the beginning of the decline of Aboriginal culture.

In debating the issue Wednesday, Moreland Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton said commemorating Australia Day “would be like celebrating the Nazi Holocaust”, state broadcaster ABC reported.

Assistant Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke said in a statement the government rejected “the extreme and divisive nature of the discussion Greens and Socialist councillors are promoting”.

He said the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull “strongly condemns comparisons of Australia Day with the Nazi Holocaust as deeply offensive to all Australians”.
NY council candidate who called out ‘greedy Jewish landlords’ loses vote
New York City Council candidate Thomas Lopez-Pierre, who blamed “greedy Jewish landlords” for the “ethnic cleansing” of black and Latino residents from Harlem, has been soundly defeated in a Democratic primary vote.

The incumbent councilman, Mark Levine, won nearly 75 percent of the vote to about 25% for Lopez-Pierre in the balloting Tuesday. Levine, who is a chair of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, received 8,839 votes to 3,001 for Lopez-Pierre in a Manhattan district that includes much of West Harlem, Morningside Heights, part of the Upper West Side and Washington Heights.

New Yorkers went to the polls for primary elections for mayor and other local offices.
British PM marks Rosh Hashanah with vow to protect Jews
British Prime Minister Theresa May hosted a reception Tuesday ahead of Rosh Hashanah, reiterating her government's pledge to combat anti-Semitism and touting the Jewish community's contribution to Britain.

"Through our new definition of anti-Semitism we will call out anyone guilty of any language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews," May said, vowing to "actively encourage the use of this definition by the police, the legal profession, universities and other public bodies." She said the best weapon against anti-Semitism is "to create an environment that prevents it happening in the first place" and noted that this was what led her government to create "a proper National Memorial to the Holocaust, together with an accompanying educational center to teach future generations to fight hatred and prejudice in all its form."

May told the dozens of Jewish leaders who arrived at the reception that she was looking forward to the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Balfour declaration, which said the U.K. was in favor of a Jewish national home in Palestine, despite the efforts by pro-Palestinian groups to have the U.K. apologize for it. "Born of that letter, the pen of Balfour, and of the efforts of so many people, is a remarkable country. Of course, there are great challenges in the region – and we will do everything we can to support efforts toward building a two-state solution – and the lasting peace that we all want to see."
Top cycling race slated for Israel — biggest sporting event ever held here
The Giro d’Italia cycling race will open next year’s event in Israel, marking the first time any leg of the sport’s Grand Tours will take place outside of Europe.

Organizers said Thursday that details of the exact route of the three-day leg in Israel will be announced next week, with Italian and Israeli ministers making the announcement in Jerusalem along with Spanish cycling great Alberto Contador.

“We are proud to host in Israel any international competition and of course the Giro, which is an important competition with the world’s best riders,” a spokesman for Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev told AFP.

More than 175 of the world’s best cyclists will arrive in Israel for the race, one of cycling’s top three stage races along with the Tour de France and the Spanish Vuelta.

Hosting the race’s start will mark a major sporting coup for Israel.

The Giro has started 11 times outside of Italy in the past, but never outside of Europe. The Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana have also never begun outside of Europe.
In audio released year after his death, Peres greets Entebbe hostages, rescuers
Recordings from the return of the hostages in the dramatic 1976 rescue in Entebbe were made public on Thursday, to mark the first anniversary of the death of Shimon Peres.

Peres, who was defense minister at the time, was at the airport to greet the hostages, the Air France crew members who were held with them and the soldiers who freed them as they landed after the daring rescue operation in Uganda. Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister at the time, was with him on the tarmac.

Peres addressed the soldiers who carried out the operation, thanking them on behalf of the entire country.

“You left a very worried country but you returned to a very proud country. We owe you our thanks for this,” he said. “You take a risk, perhaps greater than you realized… this was carried out in an exceptional and perfect way.”
Israel’s Technion, Cornell Celebrate Opening of Joint Grad School in New York
Cornell Tech officially dedicated its new campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island on Wednesday, home of a major academic partnership between Cornell University and the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology.

The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute was founded after Cornell and the Technion won a year-long competition launched in 2010 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who sought to transform New York City into a tech powerhouse that could compete with Silicon Valley.

With the aid of a $133 million gift from Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan Klein Jacobs, the institute welcomed its first class of students in the fall of 2014. It offers a two-year dual master’s degree in Information Systems, making the Technion — which helped fuel Israel’s reputation as a “start-up nation” — the first international university to offer accredited degrees in the United States.

Speaking at the dedication ceremony, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Cornell has been dedicated to teaching advanced engineering sciences since its foundation in 1865. Technion has been an international leader, and is one of the reasons why Israel is the global leader in tech and innovation.”

“In March, I visited Israel and we made a partnership between Technion and the New York Genome Center,” he added. “So this is going to follow on that, and we’re very, very excited.”
Epic quest is documenting the ‘miracle’ of the Hebrew language
The bespectacled man with two pens in his shirt pocket and a black skullcap atop grey hair points to his computer screen and explains an epic project spanning generations.

Gabriel Birnbaum, 66, is a senior researcher helping document and define every Hebrew word ever — from ancient texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls to the contemporary novels of Israeli literary figures like Amos Oz.

It is a mammoth task, under way since 1959, and even though a milestone has been reached on the digital project, there are still many years to go.

Called the Historical Dictionary Project at Israel’s Academy of the Hebrew Language, it will serve as an invaluable resource for scholars, writers and linguists.

But it will also act as an anchor for Hebrew, the ancient language revived in spoken form in the 19th century, after some 1,700 years.

Work completed so far is already available to the public online.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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