Wednesday, November 22, 2017

From Ian:

Richard Millett: Banksy-inspired film that demonises Jews is shown at SOAS.
Jews are about to be demonised in the soon to be released From Balfour To Banksy, a new documentary film by Martin Buckley. In it Jews are portrayed as Nazis, thieves and thinking they’re the superior race.

Buckley is ex-BBC and now senior lecturer in journalism at Southampton Solent University. In From Balfour To Banksy, which was shown at SOAS on Monday night, he interviews Palestinians living next to Israel’s security wall. His cameraman/editor is Alexander Wilks, a 23-year-old graduate just out of film school. The producer is Miranda Pinch, a Christian-believing Jewish woman.

Soon into the film we hear a Palestinian describe Gaza as a “child concentration camp”. This evokes the image of Jews as Nazis.

We are also sold the lie that “Jewish-only highways feed the settlements”. Then, after more accusations that Israel is an “apartheid state”, Buckley says:

“It’s surely amazing that Israel, built by the survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust, could be accused of the notorious human rights violation that scars South Africa. But for over a decade critics outside and inside Israel, Jews as well as Arabs, have been accusing Israel’s right-wing governments of practising apartheid. Shocking as the accusation of apartheid is it has serious formal backing.”

In Jerusalem Buckley then finds a Jewish-Israeli family who invite him over for dinner. One of the family members tells Buckley that Israeli children are taught in school: “We are the chosen ones, everyone else is beneath us.” This false accusation is an antisemitic trope.

The scene moves to Tel Aviv where we are told “Palestinians have lived for hundreds of years”, eventhough Tel Aviv was founded in 1909. Buckley interviews Palestinian students at Tel Aviv University. The claim is made that TAU is built over a Palestinian village.
IsraellyCool: Deconstructing From Balfour to Banksy: “From Balfour to Bigots”
Like A State of Terror, the makers of this film will want to make it an icon of ‘human rights’, to be shown to young people at institutes of learning worldwide. So it’s important to deconstruct it in detail. The footage is accompanied by interviews conducted by Martin Buckley who is ex-BBC. See his Facebook page for a clue as to where he stands on Israel:

(The film also includes an irrelevant dig at Brexit supporters by Buckley…). I didn’t manage to write down the names of all the interviewees but they included: Sut Jhally, Lucas al-Zouaghi (not sure this is spelt correctly, I couldn’t find his name using Google), Robert Cohen, Edra Gluckman (Women In Black) , Raed Sadeh, Terry Boullata, Mahmoud Muna, Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, Fida Jiryis and Sir Vincent Fean. Plus a young Palestinian called Georgina (not a common Arab name) who clearly attends a good school in East Jerusalem and was clearly coached.

‘Israel has committed genocide and theft’ – Jhall
‘Child concentration camp’ (referring to Gaza) – al-Zouaghi
‘Illegal settlements; Jewish only highways’ – Buckley
(No Court has ever ruled them illegal. The ICJ did but it’s not a proper Court. Those roads can be used by any citizen of Israel regardless of religion – the rule is for security).
‘The settlements are illegal according to the Geneva Convention’ – Cohen.
(Wrong. The Convention refers to forced transfer. No Jew in Judea/Samaria was ‘forced ‘ to move there).
‘Israel’s policies are relentlessly anti-Palestinian’ – Buckley
(Nonsense. The Palestinian leadership consistently refuses peace offers)
‘The Wall is ineffective – kids jump over it’ – Sadeh
(Obvious nonsense)
‘Jews are forcing their way back into the City [Hebron] because they feel they have a historic right to do so’ – Ofra Yeshua-Lyth
(Hebron has a long and rich Jewish history and is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world).

Dore Gold: Is It True the UN Created Israel? 70 Years since UN General Assembly Resolution 181
It is often incorrectly asserted that the United Nations created the State of Israel by means of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, what is also known as the Partition Plan, which was adopted on November 29, 1947, 70 years ago. That is completely untrue.

UN Resolution 181 called explicitly for an independent Jewish state alongside of an Arab state and provided international legitimacy for the Jewish claim to statehood. It was a morally significant action, but like all UN General Assembly resolutions, it was not legally binding.

What established Israel was not the action of the UN. What actually established Israel was the Declaration of Independence by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, on May 15, 1948. To this day, what establishes states are not actions in the UN, despite what Mahmoud Abbas might hope.

When I served as Israel's ambassador to the UN, a campaign began which called for reviving Resolution 181, led by the Palestinian UN Observer, Nasser al-Qudwa. At the time, Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon said to me, "Go back to Ben-Gurion's speech in the Knesset from December 1949."

When Arab armies converged on the nascent State of Israel, put Jerusalem under siege, and bombarded the Old City with artillery, the UN did nothing. As Ben-Gurion told the Israeli Knesset in December 1949, "The UN didn't lift a finger."

Ben-Gurion declared, "We cannot regard the decision of the 29th of November 1947 as being possessed of any further moral force since the UN did not succeed in implementing its own decisions." Eight days later he moved the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem just as the Jewish state was being reborn.

Plane crazy discrimination against Israeli student has brought back troubling ghosts of humanity's darkest capacity for hate
A court in Frankfurt has ruled that Kuwait Airways did not break the law by refusing to carry a passenger who had booked a flight with the airline company last year.

Who was this rogue and what unpardonable crime had he committed that led to Kuwait Airways banning him from even setting foot on their plane?

He was a young student, living in Germany, who had booked to fly to Bangkok. But he had an Israeli passport. And the flight would have involved a stopover in Kuwait.

And since the Kuwaiti rulers are involved in a boycott of Israel (along, shamefully, with many academic institutions and so called "liberal" entities in Britain and Ireland) the airline staff refused to allow him to board the plane.

Shocking enough.

But how much worse was that subsequent court ruling that, while it is illegal in Germany to discriminate against someone on grounds of race, religion or ethnicity, it isn't, apparently, illegal to discriminate on the grounds of nationality.

To sum up then, a court in Germany, forever synonymous with the Holocaust, finds that it is perfectly acceptable in 2017 to discriminate openly against someone solely for being a citizen of Israel, the Jewish state.

As darkly ominous as the court finding, I think, has been how little debate this ruling has elicited in the media.
Linda Sarsour is only the 2nd Most Inappropriate speaker at New School antisemitism event
The New School, a liberal Manhattan-based university, has garnered considerable controversy over a program on antisemitism that’s currently scheduled for Tuesday, November 28. The program is titled Antisemitism and the Struggle for Justice and it is designed to promote a book by Jewish Voice for Peace of a similar name.

Criticism of the event has been almost entirely focused on the university’s “misguided invitation” to Linda Sarsour and the “absurdity” of this self-identified anti-Israel firebrand and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement “poster girl” being asked to discuss the nature of contemporary anti-Jewish hatred and how best to tackle it.

The focus on Sarsour is understandable given that she’s a celebrated voice on the progressive left and a controversial public figure, best known for her prominent role as co-chair of the National Women’s March.

But, as I discuss further below, even worse than the spectacle of Sarsour speaking at The New School’s antisemitism event is the fact that leaders of the grossly misnamed Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)—including its Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson—will be sharing the stage with her.

Supporters of Israel have long been at the forefront of the effort to expose JVP for what it is—a group that promotes the view that the fight for social justice and civil rights requires that people demonize and isolate Israel and denigrate and deny the humanity of Zionists.
Defending Antisemites, Rutgers President Takes Aim at The Algemeiner
After weeks of dogged Algemeiner coverage of antisemitism at Rutgers University, we expected that the school’s president, Robert Barchi, would respond. But when he finally did, it left us astounded.

Speaking over the weekend at a town hall event sponsored by the student government, Barchi dedicated the first part of his remarks to the series of antisemitism scandals plaguing his campus. The first story related to Jasbir Puar, a women’s studies professor who has written a book accusing Israel of injuring Palestinians “in order to control them.” The second concerned Professor Michael Chikindas, who called Judaism “the most racist religion in the world,” and accused Jews — and not the Ottoman Turks — of perpetrating the Armenian genocide. The third called attention to the employment at Rutgers of Mazen Adi, an adjunct professor who formerly served as a UN spokesman for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and who has accused Israeli officials of trafficking children’s organs.

President Barchi rightly noted that the controversies facing the three members of his faculty staff originated with exposés published by The Algemeiner – but his goal wasn’t to offer a vote of thanks to Shiri Moshe, our reputable journalist who brought these vital issues to the public attention. His intention was clearly to disparage, undermine and delegitimize. And on what basis? On the basis that the reports had originated in a Jewish newspaper.

He referred to The Algemeiner, incorrectly, as “a blog out of New York, which is the follow-on to what was a Yiddish-language newspaper that folded 10 years ago.” And then, later in his speech, he advised students to “keep in mind when you hear things and those things get picked up by another newspaper, there is very often a back-story to it.”
Ruthie Blum: Stanford University's Duplicitous Morality Police
Two Stanford administrators present -- Nanci Howe, associate dean and director of student affairs, and Snehal Naik, assistant dean and associate director of student affairs -- not only nodded approvingly at the walk-out, but actively aided it, first by denying entry to many students who actually wanted to attend the event, and then by not allowing them to enter after the walkout, despite the fact that the auditorium was largely empty. They also forbade the hosts from live-streaming the talk on the Internet.

The reason for having to smear Robert Spencer was clear. Portraying him as someone who has led to the killing of Muslims was the way to try to have him banned from the campus, without abandoning the principle of free speech. Yet no student or faculty member produced a shred of evidence linking Spencer to violence against Muslims at Stanford or anywhere else. All they were able to produce as "proof" of Spencer's incitement was the same libelous blurb on the Southern Poverty Law Center website.

What De Leon, Najaer, Beckman and Fine failed to mention was that a mere few months earlier, at the end of May, the Stanford student senate voted to fund an on-campus speech by the son of Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for orchestrating three deadly attacks.
Why Was My Voice Silenced at the University of Michigan?
On November 14, the Central Student Government (CSG) at the University of Michigan (UM) passed a BDS resolution against Israel, as reported by the The Algemeiner. Early in the session, many members of the CSG successfully moved to forbid UM history professor Victor Lieberman from speaking during the debate.

What follows is an open letter from Professor Lieberman to the CSG.

On November 14, the [University of Michigan] Central Student Government voted to prevent me from delivering a carefully prepared talk on divestment from Israel. The argument against my speaking was that “a structural power imbalance” within the university militates against the views of UMDivest, which could only be rectified by removing me from the discussion.

This argument cannot withstand scrutiny for three reasons. First, it was claimed that junior faculty who speak against Israel risk being fired. In fact, no junior faculty have ever been fired for expressing political views, and such views have no bearing whatsoever on tenure or promotion.
Middle East Studies Association Panel Considers Undue Influence of Jewish Campus Institutions
A panel at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) considered the undue influence of Jewish campus and community institutions on the teaching of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the Monday afternoon session, Hillel International, a Jewish organization with chapters across North America, was called out for its policies against partnering with those who deny Israel's right to exist.

Ilan Troen, an Israel studies professor at Brandeis University who attended the session, took issue with the contention that a non-academic group should be condemned for having a point of view.

"If an academic department can't sustain a lecture series on its own and chooses to invite the assistance of an outside group, why shouldn't they expect that group will come with requests for how to shape program? If you don't like it, then don't collaborate with Hillel or anyone else," he said.

At the roundtable discussion, which was led by Jewish academics, allegations were made that Jewish donors pressure universities on their Israel education.

One case was mentioned of a Jewish organization participating at Case Western University in a search for a Middle East studies professor.

"The notion of a Jewish cabal that manipulates universities from Harvard to Berkeley is sheer fantasy," said Troen. "And if it's true, then what about all the Saudi money, what about the money flowing in from the Gulf emirates?"
Berkeley Professor Apologizes for Sharing Pictures Depicting Orthodox Jews as Murderous
A University of California-Berkeley professor and leading force in the Palestinian activism movement apologized Tuesday for sharing pictures on social media that depicted Orthodox Jews as murderous and suggested a moral equivalency between North Korea and Israel, but stood by his work focused on "opposition to Zionism."

Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in the Berkeley department of ethnic studies, has said he recognized the "offensive" nature of a post he retweeted, which included a doctored image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wearing a kippah, or Jewish skullcap, standing below the caption, "I just converted all of North Korea to Judaism."

"Now my nukes are legal & I can annex South Korea & you need to start paying me $34 billion a year in welfare," the caption continues, directed at President Donald Trump, suggesting that if North Korea were only Jewish, it might expect to share a similar relationship with the United States as Israel.

The image also bears the phrases "God chose me" and "101 Judaism we teach it" written over images of nuclear weapons.

In the second image Bazian retweeted, the hashtag "#Ashke-Nazi" was applied to the image of a man in mock-Hasidic garb, including a traditional black hat and side curls. The caption reads, "Mom, Look! I is chosen! I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians YAY."

Bazian said that he retweeted the post while traveling to teach a course in Spain and France, "and did not read the message or image carefully on my phone."
IsraellyCool: Berkeley Professor Hatem Bazian Sprung (Again) Spreading Jew Hatred
In case you missed it, another US University professor just got himself Chikindas-ed: the appropriately named Hatem Bazian was caught retweeting some antisemitic memes.

Wits University Student Says Antisemitism, Holocaust Denial Rampant Among BDS Advocates in South Africa
A student at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa has condemned the “addiction” progressive activists have for the anti-Israel boycott campaign as “akin to insanity.”

Adam Dison wrote in Haaretz last week that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement helped define his participation in student politics at Wits, and — following four years of hostile and sometimes violent incidents involving BDS supporters — eventually led him to cut ties with progressive activists in South Africa.

“The number of intelligent fellow students who’ve attempted to deny the Holocaust to me is utterly depressing,” Dison observed. “The level of education about Holocaust history, Zionist history and real thinking about the Israel-Palestine conflict is sub-par.”

Dison noted that throughout the years, the flags of the Islamist terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas were waved on campus; a Wits student greeted Jewish peers “with a Hitler salute and goose-stepping”; the Student Representative Council president professed his “love” for Adolf Hitler; representatives from the Congress of South African Students placed a pig’s head in the kosher/halal section of a local shop as an “anti-Israel” protest; a BDS leader defended chants of “Dubula e juda” (“Shoot the Jew”); and graffiti reading “Kill a Jew” and “Fuck the Jews” was found on campus.

“There is no space left for progressive Jews at Wits who don’t support this illogical way of thinking and action,” he warned.
Former Smiths singer Morrissey hits out at Israel boycott and expresses love for Tel Aviv
Morrissey has spoken in detail about his admiration for the people of Israel and his “love” of the city of Tel Aviv.

In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel to promote the release of his new album, Low In High School, the former Smiths frontman also slammed the anti-Israel BDS movement as “absurd”.

But the same interview has sparked anger with Morrissey attempting to defend both actor Kevin Spacey and disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein over allegations of sexual misconduct.

And in comments like to raise further concern the 58-year-old singer, whose real name is Stephen Patrick Morrissey, compared the conduct of the British media to that of the “Third Reich”.

Asked about a song on his album titled The Girl from TelAviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel, Morrissey replied:” I love this city [Tel Aviv].

“The rest of the world does not like Israel well. But the people there are very generous and friendly. You should never judge a people by their government. It is very rare for the government to reflect the wishes of the people. “
Guardian article on BDS includes false claim (later retracted) that U2 supports Israel boycott.
An article published yesterday by Guardian Australia’s Culture Editor Steph Harmon (Brian Eno and Roger Waters scorn Nick Cave’s ‘principled stand’ to play in Israel, Nov. 21) continued in this pattern of mischaracterising the moment:
Eno, Waters and Loach are among a group of artists who have joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a global campaign that aims to increase pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories, and lobbies artists, academics and businesses to refrain from engaging with or touring in Israel.

In fact, BDS leader Omar Barghouti has been clear on two points:

Far from being ‘pro-peace’, he openly supports ‘armed Palestinian resistance’ against Israelis, and calls for the end of the Jewish state within any borders.

The Guardian also initially included, in the online and print editions of the article, the erroneous claim that the popular rock band U2 (and Bjork) are among the bands supporting BDS.

In fact, U2 performed in Tel Aviv in 1997, and their front man, Bono, visited the state (which included a trip to the Western Wall) with his family in 2012.

(Two more noteworthy facts: Bono was known for his friendship with the late Israeli leader Shimon Peres. Also, U2’s manager is an Israeli-American named Guy Oseary who has attended fundraisers for Friends of the IDF – a fact ‘noted‘ by the hate site, Electronic Intifada.)

The Guardian error was later corrected in the online edition
PreOccupiedTerritory: New Guide Details How Every Food Shows Israel Either Appropriating Or Hatefully Rejecting Palestinian Culture (satire)
Activists combating what they call Israeli appropriation of indigenous Palestinian culture have published a culinary guide that will help users determine whether by the food they eat they are engaging in colonialist imperialism by eating dishes with local pedigree or in malicious prejudice by eating dishes not of local pedigree.

A group of academics, social protesters, and Palestinian solidarity activists have issued “Hate or Just Appropriation? A Guide to ‘Israeli’ Foods,” an alphabetical guide that features thousands of types of food, each one classified either as “appropriation” or “hateful rejection,” based on whether that food type has any cultural linkage with Palestinian society. The group aims to raise awareness of Israeli treatment of Palestinians and Palestinian culture, and intend to use the guide to help shape discourse around the subject.

“People use words carelessly all the time,” expounded the publication’s editor, Ayama Dusch, a Cultural Studies major at Tel Aviv University. “It doesn’t help to throw around accusations that Israeli consumption and marketing of, for example, pizza, is ‘cultural appropriation’ when as far as we know pizza isn’t a traditional Palestinian food. Such pronouncements get jumped on by the dishonest defenders of Zionism, and we can’t let them create such distractions from the awful truth. Instead of calling all Israeli eating appropriation, it’s helpful to take a more critical approach and accept that some foods are not indigenous to Palestine, so Israelis eating them can’t be committing cultural appropriation merely by doing so. Instead, when Israelis eat them they are specifically rejecting Palestinian cuisine, which is a hateful act.” The guide will soon be released as an app for mobile devices, she added.
Facebook still allowing discrimination against Jews, others in housing ads
A year after Facebook vowed to stamp out discriminatory advertising, landlords can still exclude specific races, minorities and other categories of people from seeing rental ads on the social media site.

ProPublica bought dozens of rental housing ads last week and had no issue filtering out Jews, African-Americans, Spanish speakers and many more groups from viewing them, the news site reported Tuesday.

One ad excluded Facebook users with “interests” such as “Judaism,” “Hasidic Judaism,” “Orthodox Judaism” and “Reform Judaism.”

“This was a failure in our enforcement and we’re disappointed that we fell short of our commitments,” Ami Vora, Facebook’s vice president of product management, said in a statement to ProPublica. “The rental housing ads purchased by ProPublica should have but did not trigger the extra review and certifications we put in place due to a technical failure.”
New York Times Columnist Collected Cash From Zionist Group He Now Calls ‘Disgrace’
When The New York Times hired Bret Stephens earlier this year as an op-ed columnist, I wrote, “His voice will be a welcome addition and corrective to the Times tilt against Israel.”

Who knew then that he’d wind up using his new platform to criticize a pro-Israel organization?

Yet that’s exactly what Stephens did in a recent column lacing into the Zionist Organization of America for allowing a former Trump administration official, Stephen Bannon, to speak at its dinner in New York.

The Times columnist’s overall point — that Jews should beware antisemitism on the right as well as on the left — is perfectly sensible. But the column suffers from a series of flaws that hurt its credibility.

First, it’s hypocritical of Stephens to attack the ZOA for associating with Bannon on the grounds that a website Bannon operated published articles about, and in some cases by, other figures that Stephens finds objectionable. “No organization that purports to represent the interests of the Jewish people should ever embrace anyone who embraces anti-Semites,” is the way that Stephens phrases it. The hypocrisy comes from the fact that the New York Times op-ed page, where Stephens works, has published articles by Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti and by the foreign minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
BBC WS claims Israeli ‘pressure’ and ‘incentives’ led Jews to flee Iraq
Quite what ‘incentives’ Julian Worricker believes Ben Gurion had to offer Iraqi Jews at the time – apart from a shack unconnected to mains water or electricity in a transit camp, dubious employment prospects and loss of social status – is unclear.

Notably though, while Worricker did find time in this item to suggest that Israel ‘pressured’ Jews to leave Iraq, listeners heard nothing at all about the main turning point in the story of that community – the Farhud in 1941. Neither did they hear any explanation of the political events that led to that pogrom or – beyond the one law mentioned by Mr Shuker – the legislations by the Iraqi government that resulted in Jews being criminalised on suspicion of being Zionists, dismissed from government employment and stripped of their assets. No mention was made of another seminal event that contributed to the exodus of Jews from Iraq: the show trial and hanging of a prominent Jewish businessman in 1948.

During the subsequent conversation with Worricker’s studio guests Jonathan Steele and Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, listeners heard the latter describe Iran as having “a vibrant Jewish population” along with the claim that Jews who did leave the country did so “because they didn’t want their boys going off to fight in the Iran-Iraq war”. They did not however hear any mention of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran as a factor that caused Persian Jews to flee the country.

With the BBC having a very dismal track record on reporting the topic of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands, listeners to this programme would not be well placed to fill in its serious omissions for themselves. Hence, the question presented as a description of this item was clearly left largely unanswered.
Reviewing BBC portrayal of Hizballah in Hariri resignation reports
As we see, none of these BBC reports gave audiences a comprehensive view of Hizballah’s designation as a terror organisation by the United States, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Israel and the designation of its so-called ‘military wing’ by the EU, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The majority of the reports (eight out of eleven) failed to clarify that Hizballah members have been indicted for the murder of a previous Lebanese prime minister.

Portrayal of the extent and significance of Hizballah’s influence on Lebanese politics and armed forces was mostly absent from the BBC reports and the role it played in the “political deadlock” before Saad Hariri became prime minister was ignored.

Most glaring, however, is the fact that none of these eleven reports made any effort to provide BBC audiences with details of the extent of Iran’s financial and military support for the terror group’s activities.

Clearly BBC audiences have not been provided with the full range of information necessary for proper understanding of this story.
CAMERA Prompts Los Angeles Times Correction on Palestinian 'Ambassador'
CAMERA's Israel office yesterday prompted correction of a Los Angeles Times article which upgraded a Palestinian diplomat from envoy to ambassador. The Nov. 18 article ("Trump administration threatens to shut down Palestinian delegation in Washington") by Noga Tarnopolsky had erred regarding Husam Zomlot's title, stating:

Reached in Washington, Palestinian Authority Ambassador to the United States Husam Zomlot said, “I have no comment. No comment at all.”

Given that the Palestinian mission in Washington is not an embassy, Zomlot is not an ambassador. He is an envoy, or head of the delegation. The New York Times accurately referred to Husam Zomlot as an envoy (not ambassador) earlier this month.

Following CAMERA's communication with The Los Angeles Times, editors commendably published this correction at the top of the digital article:
Top French Socialist booted from party over anti-Semitic tweet
A top official in France’s Socialist Party was expelled on Tuesday days after tweeting an image with anti-Semitic overtones against President Emmanuel Macron.

Gerard Filoche, a member of the Socialists’ national bureau, claims to have written the tweet out of “negligence,” but the party’s National Office voted unanimously to exclude him in his absence.

“The National Office has voted for the exclusion of Gerard Filoche. He can no longer speak on behalf of the Socialist Party, nor be a member,” party coordinator Rachid Temal said at a press conference.

“Gerard Filoche is no longer a member of the Socialist Party. He is excluded.”

He added: “It is not possible for a socialist leader to write an anti-Semitic tweet.”
German artists build Holocaust memorial near far-right leader's home
A German political art group on Wednesday said it had built a pared-down version of Berlin's Holocaust memorial near the home of a far-right politician who sparked outrage by suggesting history books should more focus on German World War II victims.

Bjoern Hoecke, a senior member of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, criticized the memorial in Berlin in January, saying: "Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of the capital."

The Centre for Political Beauty, a Berlin-based art group, was livestreaming work on a copy of the memorial near the politician's house in a small village in the eastern state of Thuringia.

The original memorial includes 2,711 concrete slabs of varying heights, arranged in a grid pattern, that serves as a somber reminder of the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis.

The group said it has collected a third of the 28,000 euros required to keep the replica memorial in Hoecke's neighborhood until the end of 2019.

It said it offered to remove the memorial if Hoecke would kneel in front of it and ask sincerely for forgiveness.
Four Penn State students charged in menorah vandalism
Four Penn State University students are being charged with stealing a 9-foot menorah from the home of the campus Chabad rabbi and leaving it damaged outside a traditionally Jewish fraternity.

The students, who were caught on surveillance camera footage late last month placing the damaged menorah on the porch of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, reportedly are members of other campus fraternities.

State College Police said Monday that they had filed charges against the students, including misdemeanor counts of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief. They are scheduled to appear in court on December 20.

Rabbi Hershy Gourarie, co-director of Chabad of the Undergrads at Penn State, told The Daily Collegian that the menorah was too damaged to be repaired and would cost about $1,800 to fix.

“I hope that this is a time of introspection for the four suspects. At the right time, I would like to meet with them to educate and heal,” Gourarie said in a statement that also thanked the State College police.

“In response to this act of ignorance, we have resolved to take steps to raise awareness of Jewish history and traditions to the broader campus community and to increase the pride of our Jewish heritage among the Jewish student body,” the statement also said.
Woman who vandalized Virginia synagogue turns herself in
A woman captured on surveillance cameras after breaking in to an Orthodox synagogue in Norfolk, Virginia, turned herself in.

Morghan Rogers, 29, was charged with one count of larceny and one count of trespassing, according to local reports.

Rogers and an unidentified man last week spent two hours inside B’Nai Israel Congregation wandering through its halls, drinking and smoking, and vandalizing the inside of the building. They reportedly entered the synagogue through an unlocked front door at 10:45 p.m. on November 14.

The man has not been identified, though police told local media that Norfolk detectives are working on charging the man.
Haifa’s Broken Fingaz Crew makes video for U2
When Universal Music contacted Haifa’s Broken Fingaz Crew to say that U2 wanted the renowned Israeli street-art group to create an animation lyric video for the band’s new song, “American Soul,” Broken Fingaz didn’t hesitate – even though the crew had only a week to get it done.

“We weren’t sure if it was even possible but of course we said yes,” blogged Unga of Broken Fingaz on November 20.

“We teamed up with Adme [Israeli editor-director Adam Alboher] the genius who we worked with for most of our videos, and shot it all in an intense 4 days, completely DIY.”

Since Broken Fingaz members travel all over the world doing their thing on commission, the video was shot in segments in Haifa, London and Rajasthan.
Why did this Muslim majority country put a Jewish congressman on a stamp?
Rep. Eliot Engel has become the first U.S. congressman to be featured on a postage stamp in Kosovo.

Engel, a New York Democrat, may be the first Jewish member of Congress on a stamp, period. Bella Abzug helped inspire a 1999 stamp celebrating the women’s rights movement, but the late New York Democrat’s face isn’t on it.

There’s a Jewish story behind why a Muslim majority nation honored Engel this week with a two-euro stamp.

Engel was among a cadre of U.S. lawmakers and public figures who urged the Clinton administration to intervene during the Kosovo war in 1999, heading off what many feared would be a genocide of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians at the hands of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Many of the same figures were part of the push to recognize the Balkan state when it declared independence in 2008.

Among those out front in the push to protect Kosovo were Engel and Rep. Jerry Nadler, a fellow New York Democrat, along with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and two late congressmen, Reps. Tom Lantos and Ben Gilman, as well as the late Holocaust memoirist Elie Wiesel. Ask Kosovar Albanians why, and more often than not they’ll explain that it’s because the men are Jewish. Albanians saved Jews during the Holocaust, and Jews subsequently returned the favor is how it usually goes. (h/t Zvi)
Canada issues first Hanukkah postage stamp
Canada issued its first Hanukkah stamp in its official mail carrier’s 150-year-history.

Described as part of an initiative to highlight the nation’s cultural diversity, the stamps from Canada Post feature two colorful geometric designs: of dreidels and the menorah. Each pattern also has an online explanation of their relevance to the holiday.

They are arriving three weeks before the first candle is lit.

“In offering the great products, Canada Post is enabling our community to share the beauty and inspiration of Hanukkah with all Canadians,” said Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Canada Post made an initial issue of 3 million Hanukkah stamps and has indicated that if trial-run sales go well, it will make more over the next few years and eventually add new designs.
Thanksgiving: A Jewish Holiday After All
In 1789, in response to a resolution offered by Congressman Elias Boudinot of New Jersey, President George Washington issued a proclamation recommending that Thursday November 26th of that year "be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation."

In New York City, Congregation Shearith Israel convened a celebration on that day at which its minister, Gershom Mendes Seixas, embraced the occasion: "As we are made equal partakers of every benefit that results from this good government; for which we cannot sufficiently adore the God of our fathers who hath manifested his care over us in this particular instance; neither can we demonstrate our sense of His benign goodness, for His favourable interposition in behalf of the inhabitants of this land."

While the celebrations at that venerable Orthodox synagogue continue unabated to this day, other American Jewish appreciations of Thanksgiving have ranged from the skeptical to the outright antagonistic. In an essay entitled "Is Thanksgiving Kosher?" Atlanta's Rabbi Michael Broyde examines three rabbis' halakhic positions on the subject: that of Yitzhak Hutner, who ruled Thanksgiving a Gentile holiday and forbade any recognition of it; that of Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who regarded it as a secular holiday and permitted its celebration (particularly by eating turkey), and that of Moshe Feinstein, who permitted turkey but prohibited any other celebration because of reservations over the recognition of even secular holidays.

Newly presented historical information, however, may swing the annual autumnal pendulum back in favor of participation in what now appears to have begun as a holiday with both a patent Jewish theme and associated rituals. In his recent book, Making Haste From Babylon, Nick Bunker reveals an item of particular significance for both Jewish observers and critics of Thanksgiving.

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